It’s been a shocking start to the tournament in the sense there have been so few shocks and the top eight seeds are all into the third round. On Thursday, Carla Suárez Navarro was the only seed to fall but her opponent, Dayana Yastremska, was actually the favourite before the match. One advantage to the lack of chaos is that we have some brilliant match-ups set and I just can’t wait for the weekend. A classic Set Points post tonight as I spent most of the evening catching up on matches.
Svitolina safely through to R3
Elina Svitolina won eight of the last nine games to beat Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-4 6-1. There were two deuce games at the end of the first set and Svitolina showed her experience to win them both. Svitolina saved three break points at 4-4 – the first two were saved impressively and Kuzmova went into the net with a missed backhand down-the-line on the third. All in all, a good win for Svitolina who is making steady progress through the draw. Kuzmova has had a promising start to 2019. She’s still yet to beat a top 30 player but I feel it’s coming. When she does get that big win, I think she could go on a tear.
Clutch Osaka beats Zidansek
This is Naomi Osaka’s first Slam as a top ten player and playing regularly on the big courts. I think the Japanese player has adjusted superbly and is playing like a top player. Osaka was clutch in beating Tamara Zidansek, 6-2 6-4. Osaka won the last four games of the match, coming back from a break down and saving two break points when serving for the match. Osaka was raining down some huge serves and began to take control at the end. Next up is Hsieh Su-Wei which should be a gorgeous clash in styles.
Halep survives another three setter
For the second match in a row, Simona Halep came back from the brink to record a hard fought three set win. Rallying from 2-4 down in the third set, Halep fended off a spirited effort from the in-form, Sofia Kenin to win 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4 in two hours and 31 minutes. This was a great match and I loved the commitment of both players on every single point with so many gruelling rallies and long games.
I thought Kenin was brilliant. The American totally backed herself and her game to sneak the second set tiebreak. She got frustrated at times but was so good at being able to reset and showed impressive focus. I’ve written before about her mentality and it’s going to take her a long way. I was surprised at how consistent she was and being able to stay with Halep for the most part. The Kenin backhand was beautiful at times. Even at the end, it was only a few errors at 4-4 that went against her.
Another stunning effort from Halep to tough out the win. She’s been thrown in at the deep end with her first three matches of the season and has played her way into the tournament. The world number one has had some truly epic matches in Melbourne over the past two years! Halep said in her press conference she was feeling her leg a bit but it doesn’t sound like anything serious. Next up is Venus Williams in a blockbuster third round match set for Saturday.
Muguruza and Konta put on a late night/morning thriller
In a match that finished at 03:12am local time, Garbiñe Muguruza beat Johanna Konta, 6-4 6-7(3) 7-5. Considering the situation, this was a sensational match. I’m late with this post because i’ve just been watching it back! There was nothing wild or shocking about this match, just high-quality tennis from start to finish. There were only two breaks of serve which came in the first and last games of the match! Muguruza was not broken once in the two hour and 42 minute contest.
I feel bad for Konta because it was a great performance and a very positive sign for the season ahead. She went toe-to-toe with Muguruza, becoming increasingly aggressive during the match and finding the right balance. Muguruza played such a clean match with 41 winners to just 19 unforced errors. She didn’t come forward a great deal but when she did, she was spot on tactically. And the serve obviously was excellent.
While it was a great match, i’m sad so few people got to see it. I do wonder when common sense will prevail with scheduling. Starting a match after midnight is absolutely ludicrous. They should have moved this match earlier. I don’t know if it is to honour MCA ticket holders and their two matches but frankly if they wanted to see this match, then they could have still gone to see it wherever it was scheduled. Forcing the players to compete in the early hours of the morning is not healthy at all. They both handled it extremely well. Muguruza said in her post-match interview she was off to breakfast! 😂
For Muguruza, I was strangely high on her pre-tournament. I thought she looked pretty solid pre-AO and I liked that she hadn’t peaked yet. Next up is Timea Bacsinszky (YES TIMEA!) which will be an interesting match. Preference aside, I think Muguruza makes the quarters and is a contender for the title. Just wondering about recovery after this very late/early finish.
What happened here?!?!?!?!!
There was one bizarre moment in the Muguruza-Konta match where Muguruza served while Konta and the ballkid were trying to pick up bugs. I’ve never seen anything like this before!
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
The most high profile match on Friday’s schedule will see Caroline Wozniacki take on Maria Sharapova. Linked below is the first poll of 2019 on MTB. I had trouble picking a winner and it seems readers are split as, at the time of writing, there’s just a few votes in it. Sabalenka vs. Anisimova fascinates me, as does Barty vs. Sakkari and Kvitova vs. Bencic. The third quarter of the draw is a delightful section.