The second round is in the books in Doha. The day session was mostly underwhelming in a sea of straight setters. Things kicked into gear with a cracking night session. Muguruza-Sabalenka lived up to the expectation, which is the focus of today’s post, and Pliskova-Jabeur was super entertaining with Pliskova just about hanging on in the end. Read on for Wednesday’s highlights from the Qatar Total Open.
Day 3️⃣ Highlights
Garbiñe Muguruza d. (3) Aryna Sabalenka, 6-2 6-7(3) 6-3
Muguruza-Sabalenka was the first three set match from the main draw in Doha, snapping a run of 17 straight set matches! This was a fascinating contest. From the middle of the second set, I couldn’t call it.
Muguruza played a glorious opening set, one of the best of the year so far. When Muguruza is confidently finishing points up at the net that’s normally a good sign that she’s on it. Sabalenka hit 16 winners and 10 unforced errors in the first set and lost it 6-2… The second set was a yo-yo and both players failed to serve it out. Muguruza led by a set and a break. Unsurprisingly, Muguruza wasn’t able to maintain her pristine level from the first set. At 5-5 in the second set tiebreak, two points away from the match, Muguruza folded.
I was erring towards Sabalenka in the third set as she seemed the more stable mentally. The pivotal game was at *3-2 in the decider where Sabalenka was unable to consolidate her break of serve. Muguruza steadied herself from a wobbly patch to come out on top of a six deuce game. Sabalenka’s level then careered into the abyss as Muguruza won 14 of the last 16 points. It was a unexpectedly quick ending to what had been a very closely fought match. I’m kind of relieved for Muguruza that she won it because she’s lost quite a few close ones of late. In the end, it was a big win for Muguruza to knock out the defending champ and score a first three set win of 2021.
Maria Sakkari d. Madison Keys, 6-2 6-2
This was an unseeded match which just highlights the quality of the Doha draw. It was another a very impressive display from Sakkari in 2021. Sakkari is an early contender for most improved player. Sakkari’s serve feels like a gamechanger. I expected this match-up to be dominated by Keys and her winners and unforced errors. That wasn’t the case at all as Sakkari went toe-to-toe and was able to live with Keys’s ball.
This was only Keys’s second match of 2021 so I’d take the scoreline with a pinch of salt. Keys looked good in her first round win over Belinda Bencic on Tuesday. I am noticing a trend that the second match back after a long hiatus is always a bit of a come down. Sakkari gets Muguruza in the next round in a rematch of their first week clash in Abu Dhabi.
Anett Kontaveit d. Angelique Kerber, 6-1 6-4
Kontaveit has gone under-the-radar so far in 2021. That was until Doha where we’ve seen peak Kontaveit! She has now soundly beaten Jen Brady and Angelique Kerber, both wins in less than an hour!
Kontaveit made a stunning start to this match, quickly going up 5-0 in the first set. Kontaveit was so sharp and aggressive as she consistently landed the first strike in and didn’t allow Kerber to settle. The second set was closer and Kerber and had a few looks at second serves. I guess the worrying aspect is i’m not really sure what Kerber could have done to overturn the result. I guess returns in play in the final game would have helped but Kontaveit outplayed Kerber for the most part.
Hot shot 🔥
One from yesterday. Wow Madison!
Favourite snap 📸
Elena Vesnina is back! 😍
Recommended reading 📚
I was just thinking about MLB during the Australian Open. Nice article. Mirjana had a baby!
Day 4 watchlist 📺
A neat quarter-final line-up with Svitolina-Azarenka the headline act. Great to see Pegula continuing her AO form and would not be surprised at all to see the run continue.
(1) Elina Svitolina vs. (8) Victoria Azarenka
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Maria Sakkari
(4) Petra Kvitova vs. Anett Kontaveit
(2) Karolina Pliskova vs. Jessica Pegula