Quarter-finals day in Charleston is in the books with Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Martic, Madison Keys and Monica Puig all advancing to the last four. Interestingly, all four players are into their first semi-final of 2019. The depth on tour right now is buzzing and we are guaranteed new champs in both Charleston and Monterrey this week. While my focus is on Charleston this week, Monterrey has an awesome line-up for finals weekend and i’ll have to watch back Kerber-Azarenka tomorrow morning! Read on for the highlights from Friday’s action at the Volvo Car Open.
Charleston semi-finalist #1 Petra Martic 🇭🇷
Petra Martic held serve in all ten service games as she produced a near-perfect performance, beating Belinda Bencic, 6-3 6-4, in the first of the Charleston quarter-finals. Martic said in her post-match interview that it was the best match she played all year and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Martic served brilliantly, winning 74% of first serve points and 65% of second serve points. Not only did she serve well, but she used it effectively to set up the points, more-often-than-not with her forehand and then coming forward to the net.
Bencic, who was a tad flat but still played a pretty decent match, kept knocking on the door with service holds in both sets. Props to Martic who was so steady, made very few unforced errors, and served out the match with real aplomb.
Charleston semi-finalist #2 Caroline Wozniacki 🇩🇰
Aside from two loose service games, Caroline Wozniacki played a great match to beat Maria Sakkari, 6-2 6-2. It was a classic Wozniacki performance, laced with streaks of aggression. Wozniacki returned exceptionally well throughout the entire match and put so much pressure on Sakkari who won just 23% of points behind her second serve. It’s very encouraging to see Woz coming forward to the net AND looking very comfortable. The Dane did it quite a few times in the first set to gobble up any short balls from Sakkari, before favouring wall-like defence at the end as Sakkari went after her shots to stay in contention. To repeat what i’ve been saying all week, i’m impressed with how Wozniacki’s game is evolving and I think she’s in good form right now.
Charleston semi-finalist #3 Madison Keys 🇺🇸
Not only did she win a first set against Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys won her first match against her good friend, advancing to the semi-finals of Charleston with a 7-6(6) 4-6 6-2 in two hours and 12 minutes.
It was a see-saw affair, untidy for the most part, but entertaining nonetheless. You could see the struggles and anxiety that have persisted for both so far in 2019. Keys missed some opportunities early on and proceeded to tell her coach that she was playing like an idiot on break points 😂. It was an inconsistent display from Keys but I admired her commitment and her heavy, deep groundstrokes caused Stephens plenty of problems. Ultimately, Keys’s serve was much stronger in the decider.
Stephens’s coach urged her to play to win but she struggled to get her feet going in the decider. Sloane is clearly still searching for her game and some confidence, but I think this week was a step in the right direction with two hard fought wins over Sorribes Tormo and Tomljanovic.
Charleston semi-finalist #4 Monica Puig 🇵🇷
Monica Puig is yet to drop a set this week after she produced a fine display to beat Danielle Collins, 6-3 6-2. Puig won seven of her eight service games, failing to serve out the match, but quickly erasing that disappointment to break for the win. I thought Puig pitched it perfectly in this match – playing with both patience and margin, but also with authority, dictating most points and closing the net when successfully managing to open up the court.
I felt like Collins tried to be more aggressive midway the first set when Puig was dictating but wasn’t precise enough and made too many unforced errors. Collins never managed to get the read on the Puig serve. Very encouraging week so far for Monica!
Handshakes and hugs 🤗
A lovely moment at the net between good friends, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. WTA Insider on Twitter had the scoop on with what the pair said to each other at the net.
Recommended media 📽
Charleston is one of the best for producing content with the players.
Recommended reading 📚
Great piece on Monica Puig by WTA Insider linked below. Puig discusses her newly former partnership with Kamau Murray and discusses the similarities with Jelena Ostapenko.
LOL moment 🤣
Side note – Will JJ ever come back to tennis?!?!?!
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
Saturday’s semi-finals will see Caroline Wozniacki go up against Petra Martic, followed by Madison Keys against Monica Puig. Martic played a great match against Bencic and is clearly at home on the clay. It’s tough to ignore the one-sided H2H though with Wozniacki winning all 10 sets the pair have faced.
I’m on the fence with Keys-Puig and have generally been picking the wrong way all week. My instinct was initially with Puig after watching how well she constructed the points against Collins. While i’m not as convinced by Keys’s game right now, I do like the way she has been battling through her matches.