The middle Saturday of the US Open is always my favourite day of the tournament as the work distractions subside. This particular middle Saturday promised so much with a cracking slate of third round matches. It started off flat with the first match but things soon got going. A shame that so many were late but it was still a fun evening of tennis. Read on for my highlights from day 6.
Back-to-back second week slam showings for Sakkari 👍
Second week showings at the Slams are becoming the norm for Maria Sakkari. After going 0-7 in third round Slam matches, Sakkari has reached the fourth round for the second straight Slam. Sakkari eased past Amanda Anisimova with a 6-3 6-1 victory in just 55 minutes! Sakkari’s much improved serve and depth on her groundstrokes were too much for a flat and erratic, Anisimova. It was a bad day at the office for Anisimova who didn’t make enough returns in court, looked very uncomfortable moving forward and faltered badly on the forehand wing. My sneaky feeling that AA was going to peak in this match was… not correct 😂.
Muchova saves 3 MPs, d. Cirstea in a 3rd set TB 🎢
Karolina Muchova saved three match points to beat Sorana Cirstea in a thrilling third set tiebreak and prevail, 6-3 2-6 7-6(7). This was an absolute rollercoaster of a match and the third set, where the intensity went up several notches from both players, was a lot of fun. There were so many change-ups in momentum and is a difficult one to summarise! Cirstea took control as she attacked the Muchova return (much like she did against Konta in the last round) and served her way out of trouble. Cirstea was unable to serve out the match at *5-4, finishing with two untidy unforced errors longgg.
The match meandered into a tiebreak where Cirstea led 4-0 and then 6-3. Two of Muchova’s match point saves were stunning – a brilliant backhand winner down-the-line and then a backhand volley winner having started the point off with a shaky second serve. While i’d have loved to see Muchova come forward a bit more, it was a bold play on match point considering she’d missed a couple of sitters at the net (well at least by her standards). Muchova converted on her second match point with an ace.
Tough one for Cirstea because it looked like she had this one wrapped up. Next up for Muchova is Victoria Azarenka which i’m all over. Gorgeous sounding match-up 😍.
Serena finds her feet and forehand, rallies past Stephens 🇺🇸
Serena Williams won 10 of the last 12 games, overcoming a fast-starting, Sloane Stephens, 2-6 6-2 6-2. I was fascinated to see how this one would unfold and it definitely delivered in the intrigue as many of the players captured watching from their suite. Serena made a nervous start as Stephens dominated the opening set. Stephens was supreme on serve and won all the long rallies, exploiting both Serena’s movement and forehand.
Stephens continued to have the upper hand in the rallies at the start of the second set. Serena though steadied the ship by winning a lot of free points on her serve. At 2-2 in the second set, Serena saved a break point and *finally* won an extended rally. It was a very sudden shift in momentum as Serena started to look more comfortable in the rallies. At the same time, Stephens committed more unforced errors. Second set Serena.
Serena continued to hold her serve with ease in the decider and found some rhythm and form on the forehand. Serena dictated more and more of the rallies as she came through in three. I really don’t know what to make of Serena. It was such an impressive turnaround having laboured for a set and a half. You can’t take for granted how she turned the match on its head. Next up is an equally fascinating match, a rematch against Maria Sakkari. Like this match, not a clue how that one plays out.
Pironkova rolling back the year, dream run continues! 👏
Tsvetana Pironkova is into the second week of a Slam for the first time since the 2016 French Open as she beat a fading, Donna Vekic in straight sets, 6-4 6-1. I love how effortless Pironkova is and how she doesn’t show any emotion on court. The Bulgarian player has been so solid on serve and giving so few freebies away. Pironkova hit a gorgeous backhand winner on match point. Vekic sadly fell away in this match in a sea of double faults and wild errors.
Kenin sets up Mertens clash 🔥
Sofia Kenin is looking in ominous form as she improved her head-to-head record over Ons Jabeur to 5-1 with a 7-6(4) 6-3 win. This was an enjoyable match and their games entwine to produce really attractive tennis.
Jabeur made a fast start to the match and was serving brilliantly. Kenin’s first serve went missing so she had to work extra hard in the points and boy did she do that. This was a great advertisement for Kenin’s point construction as she was able to keep an ultra-aggressive and ultra-flashy Jabeur at bay. In particular, the Kenin cross-court forehand had some dreamy moments in this match. In a tight first set, it was Kenin’s competitive spirit that helped her through the tiebreak. Kenin always looked like she had the edge in the first set tiebreak and that was ultimately the clincher.
It doesn’t get any easier in the next round for Kenin with Elise Mertens up in the fourth round. Watch out for Kenin who is rounding into some excellent form.
Recommended media 📺
Precious scenes at the end of the Serena-Sloane match with Serena’s biggest fan watching from the stands.
Day 7 watchlist 📺
Naomi Osaka vs. Anett Kontaveit: Match of the day and a rematch from last week’s Cincy-New York where Osaka rallied from a set and a break down to win, 4-6 6-2 7-5 and maintain a 100% record over Kontaveit. I’ve been really impressed with Kontaveit who survived a tough opener with Danielle Collins and is becoming increasingly reliable at the Slams. I’m still not convinced whether Kontaveit is ready to take out Osaka on the big stage like this but i’d be delighted for her if she could do it. I’m sticking with Osaka after she managed to turn on the style to get past Kostyuk in the last round.
Jennifer Brady vs. Angelique Kerber: New match-up alert! Of the four matches on Sunday, this is the one i’m undecided on. Brady has been in sensational form and is the clear favourite with the bookies. However, she’s attempting to break new ground against a player who has done it all at the Slams. Kerber has looked very solid for a player who hasn’t competed since January although she’s yet to be really tested. 50-50, can’t call it.
Petra Kvitova vs. Shelby Rogers: In their only previous meeting in the third round of Roland Garros, Rogers actually beat Kvitova in the most glorious of WTA scorelines, 6-0 6-7(3) 6-0. Pegula in the third round felt like a crunch match for Kvitova which she passed with flying colours. I hope she doesn’t underestimate Rogers and I don’t think she will after their RG match. Rogers has been in superb form and building on the terrific win over Serena in Lexington. I’m sticking with Petra.
Petra Martic vs. Yulia Putintseva: The winner of this match will earn themselves a first Slam quarter-final appearance away from Roland Garros. I have to admit that I haven’t watched any of their matches so far this week and they’ll be playing for the first time so I feel totally in the dark with this match-up! My instinct is with Martic.