Thursday’s Set Points, Stuttgart 2019: Defending champ out, Azarenka d. Pliskova

Thursday’s Set Points post from the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is a snappy wrap-up as i’m back playing tennis on Thursday evenings. I started well but rather faded – still shaking off the winter rust! Read on for Thursday’s highlights from Stuttgart including a review of the last match of the day between Karolina Pliskova and Victoria Azarenka.

Match of the day 🎾

Victoria Azarenka scored a huge win on Thursday night, knocking out the defending champion, Karolina Pliskova, 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes. It was the best match i’ve seen this week in Stuttgart although there hasn’t been much competition so far! Azarenka looked delighted at the end after scoring her second top 10 win of the year. It must be all the more sweeter having made the long journey from Australia after playing Fed Cup in Brisbane at the weekend.

Azarenka was forced to battle hard on serve in the decider, coming through some tough service games and saving three break points. Pliskova was rolling through her service games, but Azarenka stayed with the Czech player mentally and then pounced at the end to break for the win. I thought Azarenka was the deserving winner as she was the more aggressive player of the pair.

I thought Pliskova was quite passive in the rallies but was still the favourite in the decider with her serve. She’s so strong mentally and difficult to break down which makes this such a monumental win for Azarenka. I was high on Vika pre-2019 and while it’s taken some time, I really feel things are starting to turn for her. She’s building momentum by playing week in, week out, and it’s starting to show with some of her results. I didn’t write about it on the blog but I was super impressed by her win over Kerber in Monterrey earlier this month. Really happy for Vika!

Stat watch 🔢

Kiki Bertens hit 20 aces during her 4-6 6-3 6-4 second round victory over Belinda Bencic. Kiki said in her press conference (via the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Facebook page) that it was a personal record for her!

Hot shot of the day 🎆

Drop shot to a drop shot. I’d expect nothing less between Anastasija Sevastova and Laura Siegemund, two of the best drop shotters on tour.

Handshakes and hugs 🤗

As to be expected, a wonderful embrace between Angie and Petko. A shoo-in already for the 2019 best of H&H!

Super snap 📸


Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐

Looking forward to Friday evening for the last two of these quarter-finals. I missed most of today’s action so no strong opinions about who’s going to make it to the last four. My champ, Petra, is still in but I think Sevastova on clay is tricky. I’d go Osaka over Vekic and then on the fence for the final two matches.

Petra Kvitova vs. Anastasija Sevastova

Naomi Osaka vs. Donna Vekic

Angelique Kerber vs. Kiki Bertens

Anett Kontaveit vs. Victoria Azarenka

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Feature photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

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