Friday’s Set Points, 2019 French Open Day 6: A Sevastova-Mertens classic, Martic dazzles

The last two days at the French Open have been pretty wild. Chuck in Lucie’s retirement and it’s been too much to handle! I missed practically everything on Thursday but did manage to catch up with Osaka-Azarenka in the evening which was fantastic, a great match. There were patches of vintage Azarenka but Osaka was just so damn tough and gritty when it counted. As much as I like Naomi, I was really rooting for Vika on this occasion. Friday was another gripping day of tennis. The last two days at work have been painful 🤣. I’ve managed to catch up with a few of the matches for this Set Points post. Yay for the upcoming weekend 😊.

Match of the day 🎾

Anastasija Sevastova d. Elise Mertens, 6-7(3) 6-4 11-9

This match wasn’t even on my radar this morning. Neither Sevastova or Mertens had made much of an impact during this year’s clay court season but the pair combined for the match of the tournament and one of the best of the year so far. I’ve only caught up with the third set but it was just joyous as as the pair produced point-after-point of gorgeous tennis. Sevastova even said after the match that she didn’t want it to end because it was so fun!

Sevastova saved five match points to defeat Mertens in a three hour and 12 minute extra-time thriller. The match point saves from Sevastova were spectacular. I’ll never work out Sevastova – at times, she looks frozen with frustration and anxiety, but then today she was remarkably bold as she conjured up four winners, going nervelessly close to the lines. The best of the lot was on the third match point saved, an audacious drop shot that saw Mertens hit the deck. It wasn’t the first time as Mertens fell four times in a short space of time as Sevastova delighted with the drop shot.

Aside from a title in Doha, Mertens has had quite a disappointing year. This showing was the Belgian player at her very best with tenacious and spirited defence. Mertens also served extremely well in the third set, landing 66% of first serves in and winning 69% of points behind it, and frontrunning the third set for the most part. Sevastova seamlessly combined aggression off the forehand with her variety. After saving two match points at 8-9, Sevastova went on an absolute tear with some peak tennis to win the last three games of the match.

A clay-court classic. Definitely recommend watching back that third set if you have time!

Seeded upsets 😲

Petra Martic d. (2) Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-3

Martic produced a clay-court masterclass to knock out one of the pre-tournament favourites with a straight sets victory over the number two seed, Karolina Pliskova. Martic served brilliantly, maintained great depth on her groundstrokes and neutralised play with her beautiful slice. By recent standards, Pliskova had an off day. Normally she finds a way back into these matches but Martic was just too good.

Pliskova was broken from 40-0 and 30-0 in her final two service games of the first set. After going down an early break in the second set, Pliskova rallied to win three straight games. Martic retaliated with a four game win streak to seal the deal. Serving at *3-4, Pliskova had one shocking volley miss and a pair of double faults. Not like Pliskova at all. Normally the Czech player is clutch but on this occasion it was Martic who won the key points and advanced to the last 16 of the French Open for the third time in her career. The signs were definitely there but I was still surprised as Pliskova is so difficult to beat these days.

Marketa Vondrousova d. Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-4 6-4

Not an upset at all but another hugely impressive win for the unseeded Vondrousova who is 25-6 (!) for the year. The Czech player will be bidding to reach her first Slam quarter-final on Monday.

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Round🤟🏻🤩

A post shared by Marketa (@marketavondrousova) on

Under the radar 🚨

Kaia Kanepi had won just one match on red clay this year heading into Roland Garros. The Estonian player has quadrupled that number with another belting Slam run, beating Veronika Kudermetova in the third round, 4-6 6-3 6-0. Kanepi has reached the last 16 in three of her last seven main draw Slam appearances.

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Into second week 🙂 #RG19 @rolandgarros #tennispic

A post shared by Kaia Kanepi (@kaiakanepi) on

Stat watch 🔢

In the blockbuster clash of the day, Garbiñe Muguruza beat Elina Svitolina, 6-3 6-3. Six was the magic number for Muguruza – the Spaniard extended her record in third round matches at Roland Garros to 6-0 and is into the second week for the sixth consecutive year. Muguruza’s total W-L record in Paris is now a remarkable, 27-5. You just can’t discount Garbiñe at this tournament!

LOL moment 🤣

This was from the Petkovic-Hsieh match on Thursday where Hsieh picked up a spectator’s phone after a point and pretended to make a call 😂.

Super snaps 📸

These pictures of Daria Kasatkina and Anett Kontaveit by Jimmie48 Tennis are just delightful!

Press highlights 📰

Fascinating comments from Lesia Tsurenko after the completion of her second round match against Aleksandra Krunic where she saved a match point to win, 5-7 7-5 11-9 in three hours and three minutes.

Recommended reading 📚

Stunning article on Simona from Louisa Thomas.

Recommended media 📺

The full video of player messages for Lucie 💖.

And here is Lucie’s ceremony on Chatrier to commemorate her retirement 😭.

 

Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐

I’ll be honest that Saturday’s slate of eight doesn’t move me but sometimes you get a gem that you are just not expecting! The one i’m most intrigued by is Puig-Swiatek. I haven’t seen either of them play this week but I quite like Swiatek to reach the second week. Petkovic-Barty is a feel-good match-up. Osaka, Halep, Keys and Serena all have recently straightforward looking matches on paper but wondering whether there will be any shocks in there. I’m intrigued to see what Kenin can do against Serena. I think that could go the distance at least. You never know with Siniakova, up against Osaka. Anisimova-Begu and Alexandrova-Bolsova are both huge matches offering up a golden opportunity with the winner of that quartet reaching the quarters.

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14 thoughts on “Friday’s Set Points, 2019 French Open Day 6: A Sevastova-Mertens classic, Martic dazzles

  1. Always enjoy reading your posts, I agree with just about everything that you say. I think Blinkova may surprise Keys tomorrow. Keys is just not happy on clay at the moment (if ever) and is making unconvincing comments about coming to terms with it. Blinkova is brimming full of confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Vince. Really appreciate the comment. I haven’t watched either Keys or Blinkova play at this tournament yet so looking forward to this match. Even more intrigued now!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wouldn’t surprise me, Madison can even make the final round and self implode. It just depends on how much tenacity Blinkova brings to the game, she has everything to gain. She is indeed in good spirits and can unsettle Madison. I’ll keep an eye on this just for Key’s sake, not sure why.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting that you see Kenin as having a decent shot, James. Any particular reason? Matchup, wishful thinking, something else? For me, the matchup looks pretty strongly in favor of Serena, as Kenin’s small size and (relatively) poor serve means that Serena should 1.) win the vast majority of service points, and 2.) feast on the Kenin serve. In other words, a slightly more challenging version of the Nara match. Kenin’s dropshots could be tough to deal with, though. Curious as to what you see that I’m missing.

    Keys-Blinkova seems like more of an ‘upset special’ to me, and it’s only because Keys has the remarkable ability to hit herself off of the court against anyone (it’s what I saw from her in her match against Kenin in Rome). Still, Keys has been serving well: 15 aces, 1 DF, and 66% service points won vs Hon in a real server’s duel.

    Barty should roll Petkovic easily (wish Hsieh had won in R3), and Halep could sleepwalk through the Tsurenko match and win.

    Still, they have to play the matches, so nothing’s for granted. We’ll see soon enough.

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    • I’ve always liked Kenin, she’s a great competitor. I agree that the match-up does look in favour of Serena but I could see Kenin getting a set. We’ll see! I’m even more intrigued to see Keys-Blinkova now after all the comments here. I would have gone Keys in straights!

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    • Well… you sure did jinx Serena, didn’t you?! But massive credit to Kenin from a near flawless display of clay court tennis, and superb composure throughout, shutting the door on a possibility of a Serena comeback (albeit helped by one too many nervy errors from Serena).

      I think I’m wanting to see Vondrousova or Barty win. Although it’s hard to look past Muguruza and Halep right now!

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      • I was just going to ask who you are rooting for now. It’s an interesting last 16 with so many players here for the first time. Hard to discount Halep and Muguruza with their history at RG.

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  3. Blinkova was SO impressive against Garcia! She started the match looking very nervous, overwhelmed by the situation. But you could see her will herself into the match, chasing every ball and really hitting just superbly! I was expecting her to have some nerves closing the match out, but she just sort of got better and better. Regardless of this event, she has a bright future ahead for sure!

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  4. It was on an off-chance that I caught the Sevastova match-up. Went in neutral, but Mertens was playing the more error free tennis I thought it would be her day. Clutch in the end from Sevastova, enjoyed it!

    I gave the win to Garbine against Svitolina from the onset. Although I thought it was going to be in three. Garbine is really riding on her past experience very well. Good to see, missed that kind of play from her. IMO, no one is really playing superlative tennis in the tournament. Oddly, it makes the games a bit more difficult, you do need to show up. The opportunity for upsets are there and tenacity seems to get you far. Donna’s quick work of Belinda Bencic was clinical, quite unexpected seeing as Belinda is pretty good at containing power baseline play.

    I recall wishing Pliskova had played Bertens in the Rome final, simply because I wanted to see her response to a player who knows how to temper( vary) her game for the clay surface as Kiki does sometimes. If my arithmetic is right, with her loss, I think Osaka’s no1 ranking is all but safe for now. I wonder if it will influence her play in anyway. But, should Naomi go on to win this Slam too, I will be truly amazed.

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    • Osaka is really fighting hard, which is so commendable! We haven’t really seen this determination to win at the big events from any top player in recent memory since Serena. No disrespect to Halep or Kerber, but both women have at times accepted defeat in ways which you wouldn’t see Serena- and now Osaka- doing.

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      • And today, Osaka accepted defeat worse than Kerber and Halep ever done, i think it’s a little early to compare Osaka with Serena. In my opinion, she’s a limited player who will never be near Serena level.

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      • Hmm harsh. Osaka had an off day. Every player has them. It doesn’t detract for me from what she has achieved in the last year.

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      • Well I don’t think Osaka is nearly as talented as a peak Serena. But I can admire how she’s battled this past year, even if she did have a bad day today. Winning two consecutive Slams is pretty impressive. The last person to do it, other than Serena, was Justine Henin in 2003/2004…

        Oh and Kerbers last loss in a Slam was 60 62 (in Australia). Halep lost 62 64 (at the US Open). So no, Osaka didn’t accept defeat worse than either of those players.

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