Tuesday was a wonderfully frenzied day of tennis in Cincinnati with first and second round matches on the schedule. Sadly, Serena Williams was forced to pull out of her evening match with Zarina Diyas. Read on for reviews of two epic matches in the day session and all the highlights from day 2 of main draw action at the Western and Southern Open. Stay tuned for another photo gallery on Moo’s Tennis Blog with Omar Boraby’s best shots from Tuesday in Cincy 😁.
Match reviews 🎾
Anett Kontaveit d. Angelique Kerber, 7-6(7) 6-2 (R1)
Anett Kontaveit enjoyed another impressive victory as she improved her head-to-head record over Angelique Kerber. The first set could have gone either way with both players having set points. Kerber’s lone set point came in the tiebreak and was saved by Kontaveit with a bold foray forward. After a slow start, Kerber managed to keep Kontaveit at bay with a high percentage of first serves in. Kontaveit was hit-or-miss during the second half of the opener but served well. The Estonian player was ultimately rewarded for her aggressive tactics as she continually pushed Kerber back behind the baseline.
Kontaveit dominated the second set as Kerber’s depth and spirit faded. As it stands, Kerber will head into the US Open without any wins on the hard courts this summer. I thought she played OK in the first set – just passive and missing that spark. Kontaveit gets Iga Swiatek in the second round which promises to be a fascinating match.
Madison Keys d. Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-4 (R1)
Madison Keys scored a gutsy first round win, rallying from a set down and 3-5 down in the second set tiebreak to beat a very passive, Muguruza. I switched over after the first set because it was a painful match to watch! It was sad to see both struggling.
As much as I adore Keys’s personality, I find her game infuriating to watch at times. Keys missed so many regulation rally balls and returns in the first set. At the same time, I could feel her anxiety on the court and I was rooting for her to find her way. I came back for the end of the second set where Keys was battling hard. Two points from defeat, Keys was able to rely on her first serve and finished the set with back-to-back winners. Keys continued to serve well in the decider and pounced with Muguruza serving at *4-5 with scoreboard pressure. After losing her most recent match to Donna Vekic in Toronto where she held match points, I think this was a huge win for Keys. The level really doesn’t really matter because a win is a win and she gets another chance to improve on Wednesday.
I have to remind myself that this was only Muguruza’s second match since the French Open due to injury, but this wasn’t an encouraging display. While she was very solid, Muguruza hit just nine (!!!) winners in what was a very defensive display. Muguruza’s Slam titles both came with her playing bold, attacking tennis and I just don’t see how she can keep progressing forward playing like this. I hope this match was just about her finding her feet after a long break and that she can turn it around.
Venus Williams d. Kiki Bertens, 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) (R2)
You can always rely on Venus and Kiki to deliver up an epic! In their third consecutive three set match, Venus Williams produced one of her best displays of the year to topple the defending champion, Kiki Bertens.
Venus had a wobble serving for the match at *5-2 in the third set but reset to her gameplan of relentless aggressive striking into the corners. Venus targeted the Bertens backhand and was dominant up at the net. Venus played such a brave tiebreak with a series of huge forehands – go big or go home as she referenced in her post-match interview! Hats off to Venus who was positively beaming at the end.
It was a nice fight from Bertens in the third set but I thought she was generally out-of-sorts for much of the match. I guess there might have been a bit of pressure defending the title? Personally, i’m concerned the heavy schedule this year is starting to catch up with her. Rest up, Kiki!
Hot shot of the day 🔥
An around-the-net-post winner from Bethanie Mattek-Sands on match point!
Handshakes and hugs 🤗
Lovely embrace between Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari.
Favourite snaps 📸
Two wonderful shots from the Venus-Kiki match by Omar Boraby.
Press highlights 📰
Via WTA Insider, I am loving this blossoming respect between Osaka and Swiatek after they played each other last week in Toronto.
Recommended media 📺
A nice interview with Vika on Tennis Channel where she talked about her son, Leo. Azarenka advanced via retirement on Tuesday after Belinda Bencic was forced to retire with a foot injury after one set.
Recommended reading 📚
More about Petra’s arm injury in this latest post by WTA Insider. Sakkari beat Kvitova in three sets in the night session.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
Second round action continues on Wednesday with another fab OOP as the likes of Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens play their first matches of the tournament.