This post reviews second round matches across Monday and Tuesday’s schedule at the 2020 Qatar Total Open in Doha. It’s been a good tournament so far and the slate of third rounders is enticing – Muguruza vs. Yastremska, Kvitova vs. Ostapenko, Pliskova vs. Jabeur and plenty more! Read on for the highlights from the second round…
Top stories 📚
1. Anisimova’s best win of 2020
Amanda Anisimova scored her first top ten win of the year, beating Elina Svitolina, 6-3 6-3. Anisimova looked at ease, swinging freely and producing some delightful drop shots. I last watched Svitolina at the Australian Open in her loss to Muguruza where I thought she was worryingly off the pace. I thought she played an OK match against Anisimova but is still clearly struggling. Svitolina’s return has always been a strength so it was a surprise she was unable to make any impact on Anisimova’s nine service games.
Of the four games that went to deuce Anisimova won them all, a nod perhaps towards Svitolina’s confidence levels right now. Svitolina had her coach, Andrew Bettles, on court and looked thoroughly miserable in the second set. I hope everything is OK with Elina! She was my season-ending number one which doesn’t look very likely right now. One thing i’ve always said with Svitolina is that she is very resilient so I wouldn’t write her off just yet.
Anisimova advances to the third round to play Svetlana Kuznetsova – new match-up alert 🔔🔔🔔.
2. Yastremska back to winning ways
Dayana Yastremska knocked out the Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin, 6-3 7-6(4). Prior to this tournament, Yastremska had blown leads in her last two matches on the tour against Caroline Wozniacki (Melbourne, R2) and Veronika Kudermetova (Dubai, R1). I think this result will have gone a long way to helping restore her confidence. Yastremska failed to serve out the match against Kenin at 6-3 *5-4 with a pair of double faults but she managed to claw her way into a second set tiebreak. I liked how she took her time and didn’t rush when serving at *5-6 *30-30, two points from a decider. Yastremska’s serve was generally a weapon in this match as she hit 13 aces.
I’m not buying into the post-Slam slump bandwagon for Kenin just yet. I hope people note that Kenin’s two losses during this Middle East swing have been against Elena Rybakina and Yastremska, two quality opponents. Let’s see how Indian Wells and Miami go. Via WTA Insider, Kenin is set to play Lyon next week…
3. Bertens extends winning streak to seven
Kiki Bertens was the first player into the third round on Monday as she eased past Karolina Muchova, 6-2 6-4, to extend her winning streak to seven matches. Muchova made a rough start to the match with errors off both wings. The Czech player gradually improved from the end of the first set but was unable to take advantage of six break points across four service games. The majority of the break points played was just too good from Bertens. The last of the break points was Muchova’s best chance as she got into the rally but netted with a groundstroke.
Sadly, there were only brief glimpses of what Muchova can do with two of her best points coming in the final game with a wonderful drop shot (that earnt a racquet clap from Kiki) and a sweet pick-up at the net. Bertens played yet another solid, contained match. I feel like Bertens is the most reliable player on tour right now and her opponent has to play a blinder to beat her. Bertens is 12-2 for the year with her only losses coming against Naomi Osaka and Garbiñe Muguruza. I’m really hoping she can stay healthy for the clay after what happened last year at Roland Garros. Keep an eye on Kiki!
4. Sabalenka edges Kontaveit
In the first match of the day on Tuesday, Aryna Sabalenka edged Anett Kontaveit in a tight contest, 7-5 2-6 7-5. Considering the conditions (you could see the ball moving in the wind!) it was a good match with real intensity from both players. Kontaveit will be ruing a regulation backhand into the net at *5-5 *40-40 in the third set. Sabalenka won it though with an excellent service game to serve out the match at the second time of asking.
Sabalenka’s year has been a bit stop-start. I’m generally encouraged by her recent form. She was very loud at the end of the match and I see that as a positive sign as she was rather quiet and subdued this time last year. A tough loss for Kontaveit but I think she is definitely moving in the right direction and primed for her best year on tour.
5. Best of the rest
Garbiñe Muguruza needed less than an hour to beat an out-of-sorts, Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1 6-2. A far cry from their very competitive second round match at the Australian Open.
Ons Jabeur continues to impress as she beat the also in-form, Jennifer Brady, 6-4 6-3. Next up is Karolina Pliskova which intrigues me…
Yulia Putintseva quietly defeated the defending champion, Elise Mertens, 4-6 6-3 6-2. A shame that this match was dumped out on court 3.
Belinda Bencic scored a big win over Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4 4-6 7-6(4). It was Belinda’s first three set win of 2020 and much needed after a so-so start to the season.
Super stat 🔢
Elena Rybakina won her 21st (!) match of the year and 10th match in the last 16 days (!!!) with a 5-7 6-2 7-6(8) victory over Alison Van Uytvanck. Rybakina saved a match point in the third set tiebreak and won it on a sensational forehand winner. This run from Rybakina has been extraordinary!
UPDATE – Via WTA Insider, Rybakina has since pulled out of Doha handing a walkover to Ash Barty into the quarters.
Hot shot 🔥
Incredible passing shot winner from Barty!
A lovely moment between Ons Jabeur and Jen Brady at the end of their match.
LOL moment 🤣
From Monday… The Doha cat made a late night appearance 😂.
Favourite snap 📸
One of my tennis goals for 2020 – to watch and photograph Karolina Muchova.
Top tweet 🦅
I’ve just started following @WScoreboards on Twitter who are posting scoreboards for WTA matches – great idea!
Recommended media 📺
Nice to see Carla interviewed on court (and Petra watching on!) as she enjoys her farewell season on tour.