Oh my goodness. The day’s tennis was overshadowed by the default of Novak Djokovic after he accidently hit a ball at a lineswoman. Still in shock that that happened. This has blown the men’s draw wide open where there will be a first time Slam champion. Anyway, focus back on the women where we witnessed, in my opinion, the match of the tournament so far featuring Shelby Rogers and Petra Kvitova. Read on for thoughts on all four women’s matches on the middle Sunday.
Brady reaches first Slam QF
Jen Brady produced an exceptional performance to beat Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-4, and reach her first ever Slam quarter-final. Brady played a near-perfect first set. Notably, it was the first time that someone had challenged Kerber’s serve as the German player failed to win a point behind her second serve.
The second set was much more competitive with eight of the ten games going to deuce. Brady required a medical time-out for an upper leg injury. As Brady dropped the pace on her serve and backed off a little, the rallies lengthened. Brady’s improvement, both physically and mentally, was demonstrated by her staying power in the rallies as she often outlasted Kerber. WTA Insider on Twitter posted a great stat – there were 23 rallies that lasted 9 or more shots and Brady won 15 of them.
There were many moments where Brady could have lost her focus but she managed to find her best tennis when it counted. Brady saved break points in three of her service games in the second set, and held her nerve to serve out the match after Kerber had saved a match point in the previous game. Brady’s heavy forehand is a huge weapon and she finished so many points with winners off that wing.
All in all, a good first tournament back for Kerber. When challenged by a higher calibre player, she didn’t have the level. A richly deserved win for Brady and just further validation of the progress and strides that she has made with her game this year.
Putintseva outlasts Martic
Yulia Putintseva is into her first Slam quarter-final away from the French as she held off a late comeback from Petra Martic to win an engaging contest, 6-3 2-6 6-4. The rallies were long and it was fascinating to watch the tactical cat-and-mouse battle between the pair. Peak Poots was in attendance for much of the third set as she extended the rallies and displayed her full repertoire of shotmaking. The highlight had to be the most delicate of drop shot winners off a Martic moonball to end a 20+ shot rally.
I wasn’t expecting an easy close and Putintseva didn’t disappoint as she failed to close the match as Martic reeled off three straight games. Rather curiously, Martic took a medical time-out down 4-5 for her foot. The break seemed to kill Martic’s momentum as she hit three unforced errors in a row as Putintseva served out the match at the second time of asking. Putintseva was naturally happy with the win. Can you imagine her reaction if she were to win a Slam? 😂
Clutch Rogers saves 4 MPs, d. Kvitova in tremendous contest
Sadly it will be overshadowed by the Djokovic drama but this was the match of the day and tournament so far. In a contest of huge ballstriking and ending with a nail-biting finish, Shelby Rogers saved four match points to beat Petra Kvitova, 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6).
I thought Rogers played an incredible match. She went toe-to-toe with Kvitova for two and a half hours and she was so, so clutch in the crux moments. Kvitova held three match points on the Rogers serve at 5-4 in the third set and all three were saved by Rogers. Only one of them did Kvitova really get into the point.
In a tense tiebreak (I was on the edge of my seat – don’t know how the players do it, i’m in awe!) Rogers went wide with the backhand at 5-5. Kvitova had her first match point on her own serve. The first serve went into the bottom of the net and you could just feel the double fault coming. Two more errors followed from Kvitova and Rogers had the win.
Absolutely gutted for Petra. This one is going to take a long time to get over as she had the match on her racquet. All the credit to Shelby. The American player has just kept building after that win over Serena in Lexington which didn’t attract the attention, at least from Shelby’s side, that it warranted. While I was rooting for Petra, I just thoroughly enjoyed watching and getting invested in this match. I’ve missed that feeling!
Osaka plays flawless match, d. Kontaveit in straights
Naomi Osaka played a flawless match under the lights, defeating Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 6-4. Osaka had her game face on from the start and bookended the match with breaks of serve. Osaka didn’t face a break point all night and was hitting the ball beautifully. I didn’t think Kontaveit played a bad match. The Estonian player didn’t make enough first serves in play. 59% is not going to cut it against Osaka in this form. Kontaveit fought hard, as always, saving break points at 1-2 and 2-3, and then saving five match points before succumbing to Osaka’s pressure.
Another solid tournament for Kontaveit who is steadily improving. On this occasion, just beaten by a better player on the day. Osaka got up for this match, demonstrating the respect she had for Kontaveit. Osaka will be the heavy favourite going into the quarter-finals but Rogers in the next round is not to be underestimated.
Day 8 watchlist 📺
Victoria Azarenka vs. Karolina Muchova: I think this might be my favourite match-up of the tournament so far and it’s a first time meeting which makes it all the more exciting. Muchova saved three match points in her last match to beat Cirstea and reach the last 16 of a Slam for just the second time in her career. Azarenka’s rejunvenation continued with a straight sets win over Swiatek. She’s clearly buzzing from her mood in press. I’m kind of rooting for both of them. I’m going for Azarenka to win as I think she will be able handle all of Muchova’s variety and jazz.
Sofia Kenin vs. Elise Mertens: I’m expecting three sets and this one to go down the wire (cue a 50 minute beatdown 😂). Kenin leads the head-to-head, 2-0 but both previous matches have gone the distance with their most recent clash in Wuhan being decided in a third set tiebreak. Post-lockdown, Mertens leads the way with 11 wins. I’ve been impressed with Kenin’s serve and point construction at this tournament, and I feel she is still floating under the radar a bit. I think Kenin might have the competitive edge over Mertens.
Serena Williams vs. Maria Sakkari: A Cincy-New York rematch! Sakkari beat Serena last week in one of the strangest matches since the resumption, winning, 5-7 7-6(5) 6-1. Every match that Serena steps on the court is fascinating because I just don’t know what to expect. I’d be more inclined to say that Serena is going to come out pumped for revenge. Sakkari has been playing really well and knows how to frustrate the big hitters on court.
Alizé Cornet vs. Tsvetana Pironkova: These two haven’t played in nearly 10 years! Pironkova is going for her first Slam QF since 2016 and Cornet first one period. Cornet openly spoke in press about feeling the pressure as perhaps the favourite but seemed ready to embrace it. I feel Cornet is better placed than Vekic to beat Pironkova because of her ability to get balls back and her gritty temperament. Pironkova spoke about feeling her leg in press but she’s been playing awesome. On the fence.