Thankfully there were no further positive cases recorded on Thursday and the tennis returned on Friday with another manic schedule. The Australian Open draw was also released overnight. My FOMO is through the roof right now 😂. All the quarter-finals from the Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Trophy were played under the MCA roof and third sets have now been replaced by a Champions tiebreak for the rest of these tournaments. I haven’t had a chance to watch any matches from the Grampian Trophy yet but hoping to on Saturday! The day 6 notebook covers some of the quarter-finals.
Garbiñe Muguruza d. Sofia Kenin, 6-2 6-2 (Yarra Valley Classic)
We’ve been one match away from an Australian Open final rematch three times in the last year in Doha, Rome and then Abu Dhabi in the first week of 2021. It finally came to fruition on Friday as Muguruza produced a sensational performance to turn the tables on Kenin. Without doubt, this was the most impressive individual performance i’ve seen so far in Australia.
The first set was vintage Muguruza, playing the right way and the tennis that has helped her win two Majors. She was taking the ball so early and coming forward to hit drive volleys. Muguruza’s depth was impeccable for most of the match. Kenin started to go for too much and too early in rallies which felt induced from the pressure that Muguruza exerted. Just a dreamy performance from Muguruza – 26 winners to 11 unforced errors, 10 aces and into the semi-finals having dropped just nine games in three matches. Watch out for Mugu. I hope she hasn’t peaked too early!
Serena Williams d. Danielle Collins, 6-2 4-6 10-6 (Yarra Valley Classic)
Serena faced her first test of the tournament and she passed it, beating Danielle Collins in a first time meeting. The difference between the pair in the first set was Serena’s return. It was so heavy and forceful, Collins couldn’t deal with it and it made Collins appear rather flat and subdued which is quite a feat. Collins came back in the second set and competed superbly. After securing a break at 3-3, she managed to consolidate it from *0-40 in the next game, one of the best games of the match.
The match went into a Champions tiebreak with a return to the dynamics of the first set as Serena served superbly and jumped on Collins’s second serve. I’ve got my eye on Collins for the AO. For an hour, I was so excited about the prospective Serena-Ash semi-final. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Serena pulled out citing a shoulder injury. I would guess that’s not an issue at all and she’ll be good to go for the Australian Open. I think Serena’s had three good matches, a test today, and will be as well prepared as anyone for the upcoming first Slam of the year.
Elise Mertens d. Elina Svitolina, 6-3 5-7 10-6 (Gippsland Trophy)
The last match of the day was one of the most dramatic as Mertens needed six match points and a Champions tiebreak to see off Svitolina. Mertens led 6-3 5-2 before Svitolina reeled off five straight games. There were some intense, extended rallies towards the end of the second set. Mertens had three match points at *5-4 in the second set but Svitolina was plucky personified as she got out of the game and grabbed the set as Mertens folded at the end.
Mertens managed to reset in the Champions tiebreak although with a lot of help from Svitolina who made a woeful start to the tiebreak. The relief on Mertens’s face at the end said it all! I constantly yo-yo with my opinions on Svitolina. She’s playing better than this time last year. I’m still not particularly high on her right now. Mertens has developed an aggressive streak to her game and established herself as one of the most reliable players on the tour. This was a big victory and just her second win in her last 11 matches against a top ten player.
Hot shot 🔥
Vika-Poots sounded fun – this was a great volley down match point.
Press conference 📰
Interesting to hear from Bianca Andreescu in her pre-AO press conference. She spoke about pulling out of the Grampians Trophy.
Recommended media 📺
Nice interview with Francesca Jones.