It’s changeover day as Wuhan has wrapped up and the fourth and final Premier Mandatory tournament in Beijing has already started. I’ve watched bits of Wuhan but haven’t felt motivated to write this week. It’s been another long tennis year and I am definitely feeling end-of-season vibes. I’ve changed roles at work so everything is a bit weird right now. While i’m pleased for more tennis at the weekend with this early start in Beijing, i’m not a fan of the overlap between tournaments. Wuhan has felt so rushed this week. Read on for seven stories in Saturday’s Set Points from Wuhan and Beijing.
Sabalenka wins Wuhan
Aryna Sabalenka won her second WTA title and her biggest to date with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Anett Kontaveit in Saturday’s Wuhan final. It was another sensational display from Sabalenka who didn’t face a break point throughout the 72 minute contest and went from strength-to-strength, finishing with a flurry of winners.
I’d been high on Sabalenka at the end of 2017 but never expected such a meteoric rise over the last three months. There does appear to be some correlation with the start of the partnership with coach, Dmitry Tursunov. Well worth a read is an interview with Tursunov by WTA Insider linked below. Sabalenka is the real deal and she remains one of my favourite players to watch. She’s so aggressive and intense, but it seems to be increasingly contained. I’ll go out of my way to watch a match if it involves Aryna.
This was a great week for Kontaveit who was a set and a break down in her first match of the tournament against Sloane Stephens. Her partnership with Nigel Sears seems to be building nicely. I really like Kontaveit and she’s a fighter on court. It’s clear she gets down on herself sometimes but her attitude is generally superb.
Reflecting on 2018, it’s been a pretty sound sophomore year for Ash Barty. Backing up a breakthrough year is never easy and I think Barty has done really well. The Aussie reached the semi-finals in Wuhan where she was defending finals points. I’d thought up to the summer it had been solid yet unspectacular. Since then, Barty has stepped up. She’s really driving the consistency this year and to me, is one of the most mature players on tour, and well beyond her years. Barty’s loss to Sabalenka in Wuhan was the first time that she had lost to a player ranked below her (Serena) since Roland Garros. And that’s no shame, against arguably THE in-form player on tour.
Where Barty had struggled this year is against the top players, going 0-6 against top ten opposition prior to Wuhan. Barty improved on that stat this week with her first top ten win of 2018 over Angelique Kerber in the third round. In fact, this was the best win of her career. Barty has sadly pulled out of Beijing but that takes nothing away from what has been a very steady year.
Gavrilova stuns Kvitova
The main draw for Beijing kicked off on Saturday as Daria Gavrilova stunned Petra Kvitova, 6-2 6-1 in the first match of the day. I forgot to do a Draw Challenge with these damn Saturday starts but I think I would have gone for Petra as my champ. Gavrilova played a great match and defended her serve superbly, landing 81% of first serves with just two double faults! In contrast, Kvitova was exceptionally vulnerable behind her second serve. It was one of the best displays i’ve seen from Gavrilova all year. So many matches recently have been dominated by her serving yips. Gavrilova played with conviction and hit with great depth, easing past an out-of-sorts, Kvitova.
Upsets galore in Asia
It’s become a well accepted theme in the WTA that the depth right now on the tour is immense and pretty much anyone can beat anyone on their day. Wuhan saw a plethora of upsets and it’s been more of the same so far in Beijing with the number five and six seeds both already out. Recovering from 0-6 0-3 down (!), Aleksandra Krunic beat Elina Svitolina, 0-6 6-4 7-6(4). This is the first time that Svitolina has lost three matches in a row since January 2016. Is it too early to be hitting the panic button for Elina?
Ostapenko’s best win since Wimbledon
Jelena Ostapenko eeked out a tight second set against Magdalena Rybarikova to secure a straight sets win, 6-4 7-6(3). It wasn’t a convincing display from Ostapenko by any means who continues to look very unsteady on serve. I think that Rybarikova has been ill during the Asian swing and she didn’t look herself out there. A win is a win for Ostapenko who gets Wang Qiang in the second round. If Wang has recovered from her injury in Wuhan, that could be an interesting clash.
Goerges edges Konta
Julia Goerges won her 14th three set match of the year, beating Johanna Konta, 6-2 4-6 6-3 in the last match of the day (via Tennis Abstract). Goerges claimed the only break of the third set at 4-3 and ultimately served better in the decider. It was a decent display from Konta who yet again came up a tad short. Konta’s been hosed by draws recently and seemingly can’t get any momentum going.
GBBO 2018 week 4 bake
Today’s bake was a mango, strawberry and lime meringue roulade. Two lessons learnt – make sure you’ve got all the ingredients before you start and don’t peel your finger 😂.