This post covers Thursday’s action in Doha with reviews of the final two quarter-finals between Petra Kvitova and Ons Jabeur, and Ash Barty and Garbiñe Muguruza. The semi-finals are set for Friday and it should be a good end to the tournament. Petra Kvitova and Ash Barty will reprise their rivalry with a second meeting of the year, while Aryna Sabalenka will play Svetlana Kuznetsova. There’s also coverage in this post on Wednesday’s big news as Maria Sharapova retired from tennis.
Top stories 📚
1. Kvitova ends Jabeur’s run
Petra Kvitova ended the dazzling run of Ons Jabeur in two dramatic and entertaining sets, 7-6 (2) 7-6(4). After Kvitova went up a quick double break *4-1, I wondered if Jabeur, who had her leg strapped and wasn’t looking particularly sprightly, might retire. Jabeur though charged back into contention, helped along with a few loose errors from Kvitova and an injection of energy from the vociferous crowd. From there on, this was an absolute rollercoaster of the match as the momentum kept flicking from side-to-side 🎢. The constant though was that Kvitova raised her level in the two tiebreaks.
Kvitova was patchy during large portions of the match but like her last two matches in Doha, she’s battled hard and come through impressively. Jabeur’s rise has been a real highlight of 2020 so far. She’s been a treat to watch all year and she pushed Kvitova all the way when clearly not 100%. Jabeur’s win over Karolina Pliskova in the third round was the best win of her career and the match of the tournament so far.
2. Barty into another semi-final, d. Muguruza
In the final match of the day, Ash Barty defeated Garbiñe Muguruza in three sets, 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2. Barty was supremely solid in the first set and barely put a foot wrong. Muguruza became more assertive (Barty’s exact words in her post-match interview) and took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Barty in the second set tiebreak. There was little rhythm early on in the decider. Barty was just a touch more consistent and stronger behind her serve as Muguruza increasingly rolled her first serve into play during the final two sets.
Another encouraging week for Muguruza who is already up to 16 wins for the year. It took Muguruza until April to reach that same tally last year. It was another professional display from Barty who is into her third consecutive semi-final. I was really looking forward to this one but it was a bit of a lacklustre match. To be honest, understandable with the tough conditions and tough timings too as the match finished after midnight in Doha.
3. Best of the rest
In the first two quarter-finals of the day…
In another Doha match affected by the wind, Aryna Sabalenka came from a set down to beat Zheng Saisai, 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3.
Svetlana Kuznetsova overturned a recent loss to Belinda Bencic to record her first completed win over the Swiss player, 6-4 6-4.
4. Sharapova retires from tennis
Wednesday’s big storyline was that Maria Sharapova has retired from tennis with immediate effect. You can read Maria’s farewell essay below in Vanity Fair. I was fully expecting Sharapova to retire this year but i’m a little surprised at the timing. I was never a fan but it’s a big deal as she was one of the most influential players on the tour since I started watching women’s tennis. I’ve always had great respect for her competitive spirit on court.
Sharapova became an even more divisive personality after the drugs ban which you can see in the response on social media to her retirement from her die-hard fans to the haters 🤣. The drugs ban did cast a shadow over Sharapova’s final years on the tour. However, I always felt her results post-drugs ban (2019 aside when she was mostly injured) were much better than she got credit for.
The level was still there in 2018 and 2019 IMO as she scored top ten wins at the Slams over Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Karolina Pliskova. It was the consistency that was missing and I think this was partly due to the injuries. Even prior to the drugs ban in January 2016, Sharapova was starting to struggle. Sharapova played just two tournaments between Wimbledon 2015 and the 2016 Australian Open due to the persistent niggling injuries which ulitmately became too much to bear.
Super stat 🔢
Awesome stats from Kuznetsova in her quarter-final win over Belinda Bencic.
Best point 🎾
Pinball at the net!
Hot shot 🔥
Another stunning passing shot winner from Jabeur.
Lovely as always between two of the nicest players on tour.
The crowds in Doha for the Ons Jabeur matches have been the best i’ve EVER seen in Doha! The atmosphere for the Jabeur-Pliskova match on Wednesday was terrific.
On a bad note with the crowd, there were boos for Petra Kvitova when she came out onto court for her quarter-final match. NO ONE BOOS PETRA! I think Petra was laughing at the hilarity of the situation.
Favourite snap 📸
Signing off with my favourite shot of Maria 🙂.