Sunday’s Set Points, Madrid 2019: Osaka powers past Cibulkova, Martic extends winning streak to 6

Super Sunday in Madrid is one of the best tennis days of the year. There were 22 first round matches on the schedule with a sprinkling of “upsets” as four of the seeds in action lost, as well as Caroline Wozniacki who was forced to retire hurt with a back injury. This Set Points post features four match reviews and all the highlights from day 2 of main draw action at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open.

Match reviews 🎾

Naomi Osaka d. Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2 7-6(6)

In the opening match on Manolo Santana court, Osaka produced a powerful display of 43 winners to come from a break down in both sets to beat a game, Cibulkova. While she had won just one main draw match on the WTA tour this year, you wouldn’t have guessed it from Cibulkova’s performance. Cibulkova competed with her usual buzzing intensity and was very successful with the drop shot which won her more than two games worth of points. I thought Osaka generally moved well on the clay side-to-side, but struggled to read the drop shots and get up to them.

I love watching Osaka when she is destroying the ball and this was one of those performances where she was really going after her shots. The Japanese player held her nerve in the tiebreak as she increasingly put pressure on Cibulkova with a number of return winners, and crucially put in a first serve in at 6-6. Nice to see a good crowd in the first match of the day and they were treated a high-quality match! Osaka said in her press conference she didn’t feel the ab injury that caused her to pull out of her semi-final match in Stuttgart.

Petra Martic d. Garbiñe Muguruza, 7-5 7-6(2)

Clutch in the key moments and producing some wonderful variety, Martic edged Muguruza in two tight and entertaining sets. Martic saved a total of five set points – three SPs at *4-5 *0-40 in the first set and another two at *4-5 in the second set.

I thought Muguruza played some great points where she was aggressive and took the ball out of the air coming forward. The Spaniard had plenty of opportunities but didn’t play the key points well. She lost focus and was sloppy in the opener, while Martic was generally too good in the second set. The Croatian player is beautiful to watch in full flow on the clay. Martic disrupted Muguruza’s rhythm with the backhand slice and was aggressive off the forehand side, managing to run around it to hit inside-out.

I do admire Muguruza’s commitment this year but it’s not quite coming together. I wouldn’t read too much into this loss in Madrid where she’s never played particularly well and Martic really did play a blinder.

Karolina Pliskova d. Dayana Yastremska, 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3

Pliskova had an almighty escape as she saved four match points before going onto beat Yastremska in a huge power hitting clash. An ultra-aggressive and fearless, Yastremska had Pliskova on the ropes. Yastremska produced some laughable return winners when just one game away from the victory. On the four match points, Pliskova found a first serve on three of them and played with impressive resolve.

From there on, Pliskova was untouchable on serve and Yastremska didn’t have a look in on the return. In the third set, Pliskova landed 78% of first serves in and dropped just seven points behind serve. Pliskova’s ability to hang in matches against some of the biggest hitters is a real testament to her mental toughness. One of the best competitors out there and likely a danger in this draw now having teetered on the edge of being on the next flight to Rome.

Danielle Collins d. Vera Zvonareva, 6-1 6-4

Collins sealed a comfortable first round win over Zvonareva with a streak of nine straight games in the middle of the match. After an error-strewn opening service game, an ultra-aggressive Collins went on an absolute tear. Collins went after Zvonareva’s return with brutal intent (Vera won just 19% of second serve points for the entire match) as she successfully coupled aggression with precision to go up 6-1 3-0. Zvonareva managed to stop the rot in the second set by getting one of the early breaks back, but Collins soon refocused and served out the match with aplomb.

Seeded upsets 🚨

Pauline Parmentier d. (6) Elina Svitolina, 6-4 7-6(6) – Didn’t see the match but is that knee healed?

Alizé Cornet d. (11) Caroline Wozniacki, 3-0 ret. – Hopefully nothing too serious for Woz.

Sorana Cirstea d. (13) Madison Keys, 3-6 6-4 6-1 – Disappointed to see Keys go out early after a gritty title run in Charleston. Cirstea’s best win in a long time.

Donna Vekic d. (15) Wang Qiang, 7-5 6-4 – This was a 50-50 clash so not an upset IMO.

Viktoria Kuzmova d. (16) Julia Goerges, 7-5 6-4 – Not a surprise with Goerges having been injured in Stuttgart but still a notable win for Kuzmova who had never won a set off Goerges in four previous meetings.

Stat watch 🔢

Petra Martic is now riding a six match winning streak and has won 10 of her last 11 matches on tour! The win over Muguruza was her first top 20 win of 2019.

Hot shot of the day 🔥

This drop shot from Martic in the second set tiebreak was something special.

Super snap 📸

Plisko-roar.

Press highlights 📰

Loved this moment shared by the WTA Insider Twitter account after the Martic-Muguruza match.

Recommended reading 📚

A poignant read from Monica Puig about the impact of Hurricane Maria on her home country, Puerto Rico.

Recommended media 📺

Nice to see that the WTA are sharing full matches on their YouTube page – S.Williams vs. Azarenka and Kerber vs. Andreescu from Indian Wells are both available to watch (h/t @tennisaddictdon on Twitter).

Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐

I’m happy that most of the second round matches that I wanted to see are up on Monday’s schedule! Polls linked below…

Final thoughts 🤔

Loved this from Petra 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

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5 thoughts on “Sunday’s Set Points, Madrid 2019: Osaka powers past Cibulkova, Martic extends winning streak to 6

  1. It was one of Muguruza’s better matches this year but the UEs cost her which were due to bad shot sellection.
    I think her FH technique improved over the last weeks but I still wonder whether Sumyk is the coach she needs as she often lacks the instinct to do the ‘right’ things at the proper moments which has been so often an issue for her and still is.

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      • Me too James. I’m always struck (and somewhat saddened) by how effervescent Garbine is in her off-court videos and her often sullen and fractious demeanour on court when Sumyk’s around her.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I really don’t like when players change coaches every few months. Like Pliskova. I thought Stubbs was a great pairing, and their results together backed this up. But another one bites the dust…

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  2. I watched the Svitolina match. Elina went down a break in both sets, with some impressive, aggressive hitting from Parmentier. Svitolina’s movement just wasn’t her best, and the serve was far too attackable. Bettles came on when she was down 31 in the second set and told her she might as well just try and go big, which seemed like it was going to win her the set, but a few errors creeper in during the tiebreaker and she lost it.

    It was probably a good idea to get a match played before Rome though.

    Liked by 1 person

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