Wednesday’s Set Points, AO 2019 Day 10: Kvitova vs. Collins, Osaka vs. Pliskova in the SFs

The semi-finals are all set at the 2019 Australian Open. The quarter-finals ended with one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament so far. The Australian summer of tennis is drawing to a close!  This post rounds up the highlights from Tuesday and Wednesday’s quarter-finals, as well as a look ahead to Thursday’s semi-finals.

Collins breaks new ground and then some

Prior to the 2019 Australian Open, Danielle Collins had never played the AO main draw before, or won a main draw match at any of the four Slams. Danielle Collins was also two points from defeat in her first round match against Julia Goerges. Danielle Collins is now a Slam semi-finalist!

Collins came back from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 2-6 7-5 6-1. The American never looked in control during the first two sets but stuck at it, managed to lengthen the rallies and then squeak out the second set. From there on, Collins tore through the decider. Collins played a great first game and never looked back from there, hitting 13 winners to just one (!) unforced error in the decider.

I’m disappointed for Pavs who is now 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. Still, a great tournament for the Russian player who defeated two top ten seeds along the way. I have to commend Collins for her mental toughness and being able to deal round-by-round with all these new experiences. As much as the tournament has seen fewer upsets than normal, Collins reaching the semi-finals is something I never imagined at the start of the tournament.

Kvitova’s first Slam SF since 2014

Flashes of Peak Petra shone bright like a beacon on Tuesday night as Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty, 6-1 6-4 in just 68 minutes. While Barty never really got her into her groove, I do wonder whether many players on tour would have been able to disrupt the Petra in this form. The Czech player produced another superb display of serving, landing 68% of first serves in and saving all three break points faced.

Kvitova handled Barty’s slice well and managed to force the Aussie forced back behind the baseline. At 4-4 in the second set, Kvitova was dominant with the backhand. When Barty did see an opening to come forward on the first break point at *15-40, she was unable to keep the ball in play. Barty was asked about her own performance in her press conference but kept deferring to Kvitova’s level and stated that Kvitova simply didn’t allow her to play her game.

I think Barty has shown significant progress through this Australian swing. Playing in front of the home crowd and dealing with all the pressure and expectation can’t be easy and she’s handled it impressively to make her first Slam quarter-final. Kvitova has looked in sensational form through much of the tournament. I just hope she can keep this form up.

Kvitova’s touching post-match interview

😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Osaka’s first AO semi-final

In a rather uninspiring quarter-final, Naomi Osaka enjoyed her first straight sets win since the second round with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina. Osaka played a ropey game trying to serve out the first set at *5-3 with some big errors long but as she has done for much of the tournament, managed to reset and refocus quickly. Osaka won seven of the last eight games.

Svitolina took a medical time-out midway through the third set for the shoulder, which seemed to be an issue during her third round match too. Svitolina is now 0-4 in Slam quarter-finals. I think this one was a tough ask in the situation and up against an in-form opponent. I’ve really been taken aback by this start to the season for Osaka. I honestly thought she’d struggle this year but that has not been the case at all. To back up the Slam win in New York with a semi-final showing in Melbourne is very, very impressive and quite rare these days.

View this post on Instagram

Semis

A post shared by Naomi Osaka 大坂なおみ (@naomiosakatennis) on

Pliskova saves 4 MPs, beats Serena in 🎢 QF

Wow. This was a shocker to wake up to! Karolina Pliskova rallied from 1-5 down in the third set and saved four match points to beat Serena Williams, 6-4 4-6 7-5 in a two hour-ten minute thriller.

I’ve just finished watching the match back. This is the type of match that I wish i’d watched live as you don’t feel the drama as much when you know the final result. I thought Pliskova was superb in the first set as she rarely looked overawed by Williams’s hitting. It was a continuation of the match against Muguruza where she so solid and moving very well. Williams mounted an impressive comeback to come from a set and a break down to force the decider. Hitting more aggressively and dominating the rallies against an increasingly passive Pliskova, Williams won nine games out of ten to go up 5-1 in the third set.

First serve on her first match point at *5-1 *40-30, Williams was called for a foot fault. On the second serve, Pliskova dominated the point and Williams seemed to tweak her ankle. It was clearly an unsettling moment and Williams went off her game. At the same time, Pliskova pounced. Williams didn’t win another point on her serve in the rest of the match! However, the American did have three more chances to win the match with Pliskova serving at *4-5. I thought Pliskova played the match points superbly, especially the last one with a groundstroke that barely found the line.

It was an unfortunate ending for Serena who had done all the hard work to turn the match around. The ankle tweak clearly shook her for a time but she did have her chances again to close. Credit to Pliskova who significantly raised her level and was clutch down match point.

Serena’s press conference

Serena gave all the credit to Karolina in her press conference. I was surprised how upbeat and talkative she was in her presser. It sounds like Indian Wells will be her next tournament.

Thursday’s semi-finals

First up at 2pm local time on Thursday is Petra Kvitova vs. Danielle Collins. I’m a bit worried for Petra as it will played in the heat of the day with the forecast projecting temperatures of up to 40C. I’m sure Kvitova won’t underestimate Collins after their gruelling match in Brisbane which Kvitova won, 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3 in three hours and one minute. Collins has played some sensational tennis this week, seemingly unperturbed by the new situations she has been dealing with. I would guess the step up from QFs to SFs is pretty big so I am interested to see how she copes with the situation. Kvitova’s been in stunning form this tournament and I tend to think she will keep it up. I am a bit worried about the weather and the threat that Collins poses, but going for Petra.

Second up is Karolina Pliskova vs. Naomi Osaka. This is a 50-50 match for me. The pair split their 2018 meetings with each scoring a straight sets win and both have been excellent this tournament, toughing out two three setters with Pliskova saving match points against Williams and Osaka almost a game away from defeat against Hsieh. I think both will be OK with the heat but I always remember Osaka saying that she really likes the heat and is used to it. I’d probably go Osaka but I think it’s a close one.

Personally, i’m really, really, REALLY hoping for a Kvitova vs. Osaka final! 🤞

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

12 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, AO 2019 Day 10: Kvitova vs. Collins, Osaka vs. Pliskova in the SFs

      • I just want Karolina to win a Slam, really. It’s been a few years now since I first said she would be #1. And I was right, but the reason I thought she would be top ranked was because I thought her cool on court demeanor would make her ruthless in the Slams…

        Like

  1. Osaka has a lot of positives going on for her emotionally. This really helps and being embraced by the Japanese nation is mostly a huge plus for her. Sascha, having worked with Williams for so long, knows how to tune her mind for big game tournaments. @James …But, I think it’s also goals. She, is after all, the Olympic ambassador for Japan 2020, this Aussie Open is also the ‘Asian’ Grand Slam and the number 1 ranking is up for grabs, if only for a few weeks even. There is enough in there to motivate a player in her shoes to keep reaching.

    Like

      • I agree, I think it’s really difficult to separate them. I don’t know! Kvitova is playing great and has an amazing record in finals, and Osaka has been so impressive mentally to back up the US Open title with another Slam final.

        Like

      • What players have ever backed up their first Slam win by winning another immediately afterwards? Has this ever even happened before in the open era? I know Hingis *almost* did (she did back up her first Slam by going on to make four more consecutive finals, winning another 3 of those).

        Like

      • Simple, heart with Osaka , head for Kvitova. Okay, it will be an evening match, not sure of humidity or temps.
        Peak Kvitova, to me, saps less energy than peak Osaka. Serves will be crucial, and Kvitova has had the higher first serve percentage in so far. That wide serve, will be interesting to see Osaka chase down( she could). Kvitova is used to Serena now and other power hitters, Osaka is a younger player of similar ilk but with better movement. Has Osaka dealt with that lefty play of Kvitova before. ..The conflict…..aaahhh Kvitova in 3 beautiful sets.

        Why does it have to be my two faves at the very first slam. A Zoned Osaka may just play one of her blinders in two!! 🙂 Then what ? 😯 She is world no1. ..Hmm if I keep thinking about this my head will poof!! 😐

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Andrew: Queen Vee did it in 2000, she won Wimbledon and then the US Open 🙂

        As for the finals result I’d be happy for either of them. Maybe slightly more happy for Petra as she’s been through so much and just came short of being no.1 in 2012.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.