Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Beijing: Zhang sets up Osaka QF, Sabalenka’s extraordinary run continues

Thursday saw the completion of third round matches at the 2018 China Open. It was quite an eventful day with many gasps when catching up with the results! It’s been a busy day but I have belatedly managed to catch up with some of the matches so wanted to write a post. There’s also a look ahead to Australia with entry list news and tickets which is making me reminisce! Read on for 10 stories in Thursday’s Set Points post.

Wednesday’s winners – Cibulkova and Sevastova

Two third round matches took place on Wednesday with Dominika Cibulkova and Anastasija Sevastova both advancing to the quarter-finals. Cibulkova came from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens in the night match, 4-6 6-2 6-3. I honestly thought Cibulkova was close to retirement at the start of the year. However, since Wimbledon, she has looked back to her best. She is so dangerous as an underdog.

Cibulkova and Sevastova have split their last two meetings and I got to watch the end of their most recent clash live as Cibulkova beat Sevastova, 6-3 6-1 in Sydney. I think i’d go for Cibulkova in this one.

Osaka thrashes Goerges

Naomi Osaka has dropped just four games in her last two matches as she thrashed Julia Goerges on Thursday, 6-1 6-2. Osaka was so, so sharp and served like a demon, dropping just two points behind her first serve. Goerges was overeager on her few break point opportunities as she was put under extreme pressure by how well Osaka was playing. Osaka said in her post-match interview that she wanted to play a good match for coach, Sascha Bajin’s birthday. You nailed it, Naomi!

Zhang upsets Kerber

Zhang Shuai is back into the quarters of the China Open after a 6-1 2-6 6-0 (!) win over Angelique Kerber. I was befuddled by the third set scoreline so had to watch back the decider to find out what happened! Zhang was very effective with forceful down-the-line strikes and was not afraid to move forward. Zhang targeted the Kerber forehand which surprisingly offered up a hefty number of unforced errors.

Kerber went away fast at the end and won just seven points in the decider. While a notable upset, Zhang has always performed well in China and has some giant-killing upsets to her name with this being her 6th top ten win. This is easily Zhang’s best spell of the year having endured a pretty disappointing 2018 season.

Zhang spoke in her press conference about playing at home. I loved her answer about not wanting to let home fans down via WTA Insider.

Osaka vs. Zhang

I was all in for Osaka-Kerber which I feel could become a classic match-up. Osaka-Zhang is still a nice match-up with the pair being friends off the court. We can expect a nice handshake/hug for sure!

Wozniacki finding form

Caroline Wozniacki has won three matches in a row for the first time since Eastbourne. The Dane booked her place in the quarter-finals of Beijing with a hard fought 7-5 6-4 victory over Anett Kontaveit. I watched the end of the first set where Wozniacki bounced back from the disappointment of missing four set points in a 15 minute (!) game at 5-4 to win the final two games of the set.

This has been a good pair of weeks for Kontaveit who has had strapping on her leg since the final of Wuhan. It’s nice to see Woz round into some form before Singapore. Wozniacki was officially confirmed for the WTA Finals today along with Petra Kvitova. Next up for Woz is the in-form and going under-the-radar, Katerina Siniakova. The Czech player has won 10 of her last 11 matches and has beaten Wozniacki before.

Sabalenka’s extraordinary run continues

I’m running out of superlatives for Aryna Sabalenka! The Belarusian came from 5-7 2-5 down to beat the defending champion, Caroline Garcia, 5-7 7-6(3) 6-0 in two hours and 19 minutes. I watched the end of the second set where Garcia served for the match at *5-3. The pair duelled it out on a stunning first point that Garcia won. Sabalenka then broke to 15 with a sensational game where she returned brilliantly. I thought it was more about Sabalenka raising her level than Garcia getting tight.

So many wow stats for Aryna from Tennis Abstract

Currently riding an eight match winning streak

Won 27 of her last 34 matches since the start of Eastbourne

Eight top ten wins in 2018

21 three set wins with 10 victories from a set down

Tickets for Sydney International out now

All tickets are now available for the 2019 Sydney International. Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka are the two star names on the entry list so far.

The Sydney experience

Thinking of heading to the tennis at Sydney? Check out my review post from attending earlier this year.

Hopman Cup teams announced

The final four teams for the 2019 Hopman Cup were announced on Wednesday including Team USA with Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe. It’s another superb line-up which will see Serena and Roger Federer compete in mixed doubles, and Angelique Kerber take on Garbiñe Muguruza in singles action. The full schedule is up on their website.

The Hopman Cup experience

Thinking of heading to the tennis in Perth? Check out my review post from attending earlier this year. I absolutely adore the Hopman Cup and couldn’t recommend enough with it set to be its last year 😢 .

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11 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, WTA Beijing: Zhang sets up Osaka QF, Sabalenka’s extraordinary run continues

    • I think you’re right that they look like dominating the game in the near future Andrew, but I have mixed feelings about that to be honest. Do we really want another generation of big, powerful players ruling the roost in women’s tennis? I like to see the Aga Radwanskas, Bara Strycovas, Sara Erranis, Simona Haleps, Domi Cibulkovas, Roberta Vincis and Carla Suarez Navarros of the world having a chance to shine.

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      • Well we do also have Ashleigh Barty, Daria Kasatkina, Elise Mertens and Cici Bellis on that end of the spectrum. But let’s face it, the best players have almost always been aggressive ones (Serena, Navratilova, Graf, Seles).

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  1. Sabalenka def Garcia 5-7, 7-6, 6-0
    With Sab down a set and 1-4 and Garcia playing at a high and consistent level, I thought the match was obviously over. I turned the match off and left. Apparently, no one told Sab the match was over. Sab now has a live ranking of 11.

    Q Wang def Ka Pliskova 6-4,6-4
    I thought Wang’s last win over Plis was a fluke, apparently not, as Wang has two consecutive wins now. Ka Plis’s power was not able to overwhelm Wang’s aggressive/defensive style. Wang now has a live ranking of 25.

    I was an almost perfect 3W-3L, on my picks.

    It appears to me, that the Chairs are much more proactive in halting matches due to light rain, since Doc Buz’s slip and injury.

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  2. I don’t think they will dominate, the tour has changed, and the more they win the more they become targets and their game play easier to read and defend against. They will have to be proactive and plan their tournaments well for longevity sake. This year is just a great opportunity, Osaka had the YEC as a target, and Sabalenka has found a winning mentality. Still young and not jaded quite yet. Will wait and see how they approach the 2019 tour season.

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    • Only saw the highlights of the final but it was clearly the kind of tennis I like – lots of long rallies and plenty of angles and variation of pace (especially from Stasija) rather than the players trying to blast each other off the court with 150 km/h forehands and 195 km / h serves. Congratulations to Caroline anyway on winning her 30th title.

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      • I missed the final too. Seemed a bit out of blue Woz winning but glad as want to see everyone in form at Singapore.

        Things are a bit wild for me at the mo and haven’t had time to keep up with the tennis. I’m hoping to be back writing for Singapore.

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  3. Novak Djokovic *very* close to returning to #1. If he wins the final tomorrow then Nadal is going to have to come up with something special in Paris and the ATP finals. What am extraordinary comeback from his form in the middle of this year!

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