Friday’s schedule at the Miami Open was wild. Absolutely wild. It felt like a Slam day with 25 second round matches played and all but one featuring a seed. I’m pleased that we are now caught up following the rain and there are just eight (phew!) singles matches to be played on Saturday. Read on for Friday’s Set Points which follows my evening of tennis…
Marketa Vondrousova made it back-to-back third rounds in the sunshine double and back-to-back wins over Jelena Ostapenko. Vondrousova beat Ostapenko in Indian Wells last week, 4-6 6-3 6-4, and won again, this time in straight sets, in the second round of Miami. Vondrousova saved two set points at *3-5 in the opener, winning 10 of the last 11 games to prevail, 7-5 6-1.
From when I started watching from 5-5 in the first set, I thought Vondrousova was brilliant. She looked so comfortable in everything she was doing. Ostapenko didn’t seem to be feeling well and was coughing a lot in the second set. Ostapenko didn’t seem to have the normal sharpness on her groundstrokes and was slicing a lot of balls. Vondrousova defended well and showed off superior variety I love everything she does on that forehand side 😍.
Vondrousova will play Elise Mertens in the third round.
A bagel-breadstick victory for Osaka
Naomi Osaka didn’t have it all her own way on Friday, being pushed the distance by Yanina Wickmayer. The Belgian player produced a superb second set performance (20 winners to 5 unforced errors) to force a decider. Osaka missed a couple of seemingly simple shots in the second set tiebreak, while Wickmayer was spurred on by back-to-back aces.
Osaka reset superbly in the decider. The Japanese player hit a total of 14 aces, of which 8 came in the decider, and returned strongly to put constant pressure on Wickmayer. Osaka won, 6-0 6-7(3) 6-1 and will play Hsieh Su-Wei in the third round. The pair played out a great match at the Australian Open where Hsieh had Osaka on the ropes for a time so this will be another tantalising prospect. Osaka against players with variety is always a fun match-up.
Kasatkina’s 2nd tour win of 2019
Daria Kasatkina scored a much needed win, beating the talented 15-year-old, Cori Gauff, 6-3 6-2. There were flashes of brilliance from the young American but ultimately, Kasatkina was too steady and returned much better. Gauff was very erratic and unable to mount a consistent challenge to rival Kasatkina. I was really impressed to see Gauff change up her tactics in the second set and come forward to the net. I think we’ll see a lot more from Gauff in the future.
For Kasatkina, a win is a win, and I hope it gives her a platform to start rebuilding her confidence. Next up is Venus Williams which is a match-up that always delivers. Their last match in Indian Wells was number three in 2018 best matches countdown.
Kerber holds off talented Muchova
The match I was most looking forward to on Friday was the stand-out of the day IMO. Angelique Kerber produced a great effort to come from a set down to beat the talented Karolina Muchova, 3-6 6-3 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes.
Muchova is delightful to watch and has such a wonderful fluidity to her game. The Czech player was brilliant in the first set as she dominated behind her first serve. She has an instinctiveness to step into the court and come forward to the net. She was lethal on her forehand going down-the-line.
Kerber took a medical time-out early on in the second set for a leg/hip issue which she was stretching out early in the match. The German player upped her intensity and increasingly defended her serve well, winning six games on the trot as Muchova lost her way.
Muchova settled down again in the decider which was high-quality tennis – there were so many rallies that made me gasp! Kerber pulled out some cracking passing shot winners and she had to play at a high level and do a lot of running to fend off Muchova who herself produced some magic around the net.
Muchova is such a huge talent. The Czech player will crack the world’s top 100 next week and I think she’s going to keep on rising. She reminds me a bit of Barty with all variety. She doesn’t slice as much on the backhand slice and seems to be really comfortable coming forward. I keep repeating it but I think she’s such a classy player to watch!
A recommendation to go follow Chad (@CCSMOOTH13 on Twitter) who is in Miami – his photos are stunning!
Saturday’s 3rd round matches
A trio of polls for Saturday’s eight matches which are spearheaded by an Indian Wells final rematch in the night session between Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber – who you got?!