Day 5 was a generally a calm day on the women’s side (not so much for the men 👀) as the favoured player in all eight matches from the top half prevailed. It wasn’t always easy though and there was some really good matches. I’m so relieved it’s the weekend (yayayayayayay) and looking forward to day 6 which has the most attractive line-up of matches so far. Read on for my review of third round wins for Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova.
Osaka finds another gear, Kostyuk impresses 👍
Naomi Osaka survived a tricky match with the 18-year-old, Marta Kostyuk. Osaka saved five break points at 2-2 in the third set and won the last five games of the match to prevail, 6-3 6-7(2) 6-2, in two hours and 33 minutes.
Kostyuk’s performance was the big takeaway from the match. As Osaka said in her post-match interview, “i’m kind of scared of how she’s going to be in the future!. Kostyuk’s game has so many layers – she’s a great mover, a great competitor and has some big groundstrokes. The Ukrainian player won so many of the key points in the second set as Osaka went one for nine on break points. Kostyuk was very bold and put a lot of pressure on Osaka coming forward to the net, winning 19 of 23 points up at the net.
In the end, experience prevailed. Kostyuk was unable to take advantage of her opportunities at 2-2 in the third set and then fell away rapidly. A spate of double faults in both the first and third sets was her undoing. From what Osaka has been saying in her press, I don’t think this match was ideal for her physically. Mentally though, it was yet another example of where she was able to find another gear when it really mattered.
Another straight set win for Kerber, next up Brady 🔥
Angelique Kerber is yet to drop a set after beating Ann Li in the third round, 6-3 6-4. This was the first time i’ve watched Ann Li and she is ANOTHER hugely talented player. Li is a great mover and I thought her footwork was impeccable as she prepared for her strokes, often running round onto the forehand side. She seems to be an all-court player, comfortable coming forward and with a workable slice. And the serve’s decent too!
Kerber has defended her serve brilliantly this week. She has averaged 79% of first serves in play through her first three matches and has improved the percentage with each match. Li just couldn’t figure out the Kerber serve and what to do with the return. Like Osaka-Kostyuk, it was another match where experience shone through as Kerber played the big points better. Li hit 36 winners to 28 unforced errors and still lost the match.
Li is one to watch for the future and Kerber is one to watch at this tournament. Brady up next for Kerber which is a very tough match but it’s going to take a big performance from someone to break down Kerber’s defences.
Watch out for the Petra 👀
Petra Kvitova produced her best performance of the tournament so far, defeating the in-form, Jessica Pegula, 6-4 6-3 in a decent quality match. I was worried about this match for Petra as Pegula had been one of the in-form players on the restart, winning five matches in Cincy-New York including wins over Brady, Anisimova and Sabalenka.
In the first set, the difference between the pair was on serve as Kvitova landed a much higher percentage of first serves in and was able to defend her second serve better. Pegula broke Kvitova when she served for the set but then threw in a tame service game to gift the break and set away.
Kvitova’s serve was not as potent in the second set so she had to work much harder in the rallies. Kvitova recovered from *0-2 *0-30 and came out on top in two long deuce games. I was really encouraged to see Kvitova moving forward. Pegula is great on the defence and Kvitova knew coming forward to close points out was the tactic. It was a successful move as Kvitova won 15 of 18 points at the net.
As we move into the second week, don’t forget about the Petra…
Day 6 watchlist 📺
Sofia Kenin vs. Ons Jabeur: If both bring their recent form, this could be an absolute cracker! Kenin leads the H2H, 4-1 and prevailed most recently in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Jabeur is such a huge threat. I’m going for Kenin who has been low-key the most impressive player of the tournament so far and yet to have her serve broken.
Serena Williams vs. Sloane Stephens: This match-up fascinates me and I have absolutely no idea how it will unfold 😂.
Maria Sakkari vs. Amanda Anisimova: One of my match-ups hoping for from my draw preview actually became a reality! Both had to work super hard to get through their second round matches. Sakkari is the favourite on paper (IMO) but I have a sneaky feeling it could be one of those matches where Anisimova peaks.
Victoria Azarenka vs. Iga Swiatek: Another first time meeting. Azarenka was absolutely beaming after her second round win over Aryna Sabalenka. Swiatek will present a completely different game style and i’m fond of Swiatek but I think Azarenka will win this.