Day 2 of main draw action at the BNL Internazionali BNL d’Italia ended on a soggy note with rain interrupting the final women’s match of the day between Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka. The match did finish, and in style with a gripping final set (more in this post). The rain is set to be an issue again tomorrow if the forecast is accurate. Likely no post for the next few days but i’ll be trying to watch as much as I can. Read on for highlights from Tuesday in Rome…
Match reviews 🎾
Belinda Bencic d. Anastasija Sevastova, 2-6 6-3 6-2
Bencic produced a rather astonishing comeback to score yet another win in 2019 against a player ranked above her. Down a set and two breaks at 2-6 0-3, Bencic was in tears on the changeover. She also complained to the umpire about not getting a first serve in the previous game due to some distractions in the crowd. Sevastova had bamboozled an erratic Bencic with a clay-court masterclass for the first set and a half.
The release of emotion seemed to do Bencic the world of good as she reeled of six straight games to level up the match at one set all. Bencic started to go after her shots as Sevastova went into her shell and began to make more and more errors. Bencic showed some deft touch at the net and was comfortable coming forward. Bencic carried the momentum into the decider where she even managed a run of 17 straight points! An incredible turnaround for BB.
Daria Kasatkina d. Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-2 7-6(5)
Kasatkina rallied from 2-5 down in the second set and saved three set points to record her sixth consecutive win over Begu. While a favourable match-up for Kasatkina, I thought she looked good! Kasatkina was very bold on two of the set points that she saved. She showed flashes of aggression on the forehand and even went for the jumping backhand on occasion. Ultimately, Kasatkina defended well and forced Begu into errors in the second set tiebreak.
Next up for Kasatkina is Katerina Siniakova in the second round which isn’t a bad draw at all.
Ash Barty d. Viktoria Kuzmova, 4-6 6-3 6-4
Barty racked up yet another win on tour in 2019 with a clutch ending. I watched the third set which was evenly matched between the two players for the most part. Kuzmova had a game point that she missed serving at 4-4 in the decider. Barty produced three outstanding points to seal the crucial break – a powerful forehand into the corner, a drop shot winner and a passing shot winner on break point. Barty then served out to 15 with some massive serves.
I was pleased to see Kuzmova put that double bagel loss to Simona Halep behind her. The Slovakian player didn’t do a lot wrong at the end with Barty peaking. The Aussie has become increasingly clutch and all those wins must have helped her confidence. Barty did a good job at negating Kuzmova’s power with her slice and managed to find more first serves than her opponent in the decider.
Victoria Azarenka d. Elina Svitolina 4-6 6-1 7-5
In a rain-interrupted match finishing late in Rome, Azarenka saved a match point to knock out the two-time defending champ in Svitolina. How to sum up that third set?! It was a super entertaining match. Svitolina’s forehand was the star of the show for a time as she produced some inspired tennis to go up 5-2 in the decider. I’ve never seen Svitolina hit so many forehand winners! She will rue the lone match point that she had though, going long with a drive volley. Svitolina never really recovered from that missed opportunity as a relentless Azarenka looked to come forward and continually pounded Svitolina’s faltering second serve, winning the last five games of the match. If you missed it, that third set is well worth a watch back…
Stat watch 🔢
Barty’s come-from-behind win over Kuzmova was the fifth time in 2019 that she has come from a set down to win. This improves Barty’s three set record to 7-2 in 2019 and was her 24th win of the year! (all stats via Tennis Abstract).
LOL moment 🤣
Handshakes and hugs 🤗
Nice to see that Garcia and Mladenovic have put their differences aside. I was totally rooting for CarGar though 🤣
Super snap 📸
Gorgeous shot of Julia Goerges from Jimmie48.
Recommended reading 📚
The quote with this article 🤣. A good read on what winning a first WTA title meant to Maria Sakkari.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
A great slate of second round matches awaits in Rome on Wednesday. Forecast is a bit dicey though!
Sloane Stephens vs. Johanna Konta: Good to see Stephens improving last week in Madrid. I’d still tag this with an upset alert as Konta is quietly having a solid year and has already won six matches on the red clay this year.
Kiki Bertens vs. Amanda Anisimova: AA failed to qualify for the main draws in Madrid and Rome but got into the latter main draw with a lucky loser. Not been as impressive of late but keep reminding myself she’s only 17!!!! Tough opener against the Madrid champ but probably the best time to play Bertens early on when likely adjusting to the new conditions and dealing with some fatigue. Still going for Kiki.
Naomi Osaka vs. Dominika Cibulkova: Rematch from their match in Madrid which was a high quality encounter. Not surprised to see Domi beat Sasnovich in the first round in Rome as she played at a high level in Madrid despite the loss. Osaka will need to be on her game again to pass this challenge.
Madison Keys vs. Sofia Kenin: Ring the bells for a new match-up alert. Impressed with Keys in her opening round win, managing to close out both sets against a tricky player in Hercog. Kenin’s not had as many wins of late but is still very dangerous. 50-50 with this one…
Petra Kvitova vs. Yulia Putintseva: Poots on clay… Petra will have her hands full!
Simona Halep vs. Marketa Vondrousova: Vondrousova won their only previous match in Indian Wells earlier this year. Vondy is having a sensational year and still a little under-the-radar. There is so much scope to rise up the rankings with barely anything to defend over the next few months. A dangerous match for sure but I think Halep will be fine after Madrid and eager to do well in Rome, a title that is shockingly still missing from her title cabinet.
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Danielle Collins: OMG this could be amazing. Muguruza *should* win on clay but I do rate Collins and I think she’s been quite consistent post AO-semi-finals although without any stand-out results. Muguruza has been more consistent this year and shown great committment in her matches, but doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself out on the court. Fireworks please 🎆😂.
Belinda Bencic vs. Kristina Mladenovic: I’ve always wondered if Bencic and Mlads still get on because they used to be inseparable a few years back. I guess we will find out with the handshake. Amazing win for Bencic against Sevastova having looked down and out. Tough ask to get back on court tomorrow as she must feeling some fatigue from Madrid. Mlads is clearly finding some form so could be an opening for the Frenchwoman. Another 50-50 one for me.