2021 WTA Miami, Day 6 Highlights: Muguruza outlasts inspired Kalinskaya, Pegula scores the hat-trick

The third round is in the books at the 2021 Miami Open. Six of the seven matches on Sunday went the distance. There were some bizarre matches, some great matches. It was a day! I think the heat and humidity might have played a part during the day session. Sunday’s diary covers the third Pliskova-Pegula match in as many tournaments, a match-up between two players, Mertens and Kontaveit, who have won a heck of a lot of matches since the resumption and Muguruza fending off an inspired opponent. All last 16 matches will be played on Manic Monday Miami style. Thoughts about some of those matches can be found on the separate page here.

Day 6️⃣ Highlights

(12) Garbiñe Muguruza d. Anna Kalinskaya, 4-6 6-3 6-4

Sometimes the matches that aren’t even on your radar turn out to be the best ones. Muguruza was pushed all the way by an inspired, Anna Kalinskaya. Currently ranked at #115, Kalinskaya played well, well, WELL above that ranking. Muguruza has worn down so many opponents this year with relentless baseline aggression. She was having little impact on Kalinskaya who was peaking in the first set and just would not budge. Surprisingly, Kalinskaya won the majority of the longer rallies including a magnificent set point. Muguruza wasn’t her usual aggressive self on return and was vulnerable behind her second serve, winning just 31% of points behind it.

Muguruza came back to win the second set and much of that had to do with shoring up the second serve. The Spaniard began to open up the court better as a few errors creeped into Kalinskaya’s game. The third set was an absolute slugfest. Long rallies, long games. This was a really great match. Muguruza fought tooth and nail to come back from 0-3 down in the third set and then to serve it out as Kalinskaya started finding lines down match point. In the end, I thought Muguruza won it by being aggressive and totally backing herself. A key tactic was the serve out wide to open up the court.

Fantastic match from Kalinskaya and Muguruza was keen to shake hands at the end which you don’t often see. I hope that Kalinskaya can draw the positives from this match because there were so many. Tremendous fight from Muguruza. As I said in my last post, this rejuvenated Muguruza is just a joy to watch. My favourite match of the tournament so far.

(29) Jessica Pegula d. (6) Karolina Pliskova, 6-1 4-6 6-4

Pegula completed the hat-trick of wins over Pliskova but this one was not like the rest. Well, it was for a set and a half before the match took an unexpected turn! Pegula led 6-1 4-1 with the match starting as a continuation of their two previous encounters in Doha (Pegula won, 6-3 6-1) and Dubai (Pegula won, 6-0 6-2). Pegula was all over the Pliskova serve and was better in every department. Pliskova just couldn’t hurt Pegula in the rallies.

Pegula missed a game point at 6-1 4-2 and then the set unravelled without much warning. Pegula backed off, committed some wild unforced errors and Pliskova capitalised. Pliskova won five games in a row to win the second set and carried that momentum into the third set as she began to dominate the rallies and on serve. Pliskova led 4-2 in the third set and had a break point for 5-2. Pegula held. The match then took another unexpected turn. I didn’t see this one coming because Pegula looked done. The American player had a second wind and started to go after her shots again. Pegula won the last four games of the match and took apart Pliskova’s serve in a lethal final return game.

One of the wackiest matches i’ve watched this year. I was thinking about Pegula’s match against Mertens in Dubai where she wasted three match points. It was heading for another tough loss but Pegula showed a lot of character to stay present in the third set. Imagine Pliskova’s reaction if these two end up in the same section of a draw again… 👀

(16) Elise Mertens d. (22) Anett Kontaveit, 6-2 0-6 6-2

As the scoreline would suggest, neither Mertens or Kontaveit managed to play their best tennis at the same time. It was a strange match with three very streaky sets. After a comfortable opening set, Mertens went completely AWOL in the second set including a game of double faults. Kontaveit played a steady set and was much more patient in the rallies compared to the first set.

In keeping with the streakiness, Mertens reset in the decider and won a streak of 13 straight points from 1-1 to 5-1. Kontaveit missed too many regulation balls, straying from the patience that she showed in the second set. A resilient performance from Mertens who has now won her last seven matches that have gone three sets (via Tennis Abstract).

Best of the rest 🎾

Maria Sakkari has dropped just the six games in two matches after a 6-0 6-1 rout of Liudmila Samsonova.

Sara Sorribes Tormo just keeps on winning. The plucky Spaniard beat the number 21 seed, Elena Rybakina in three sets, 6-1 3-6 6-2.

Ons Jabeur snapped a run of four straight losses against the number four seed, Sofia Kenin. Jabeur won, 6-4 4-6 6-4.

In the final match of the day, Bianca Andreescu beat Amanda Anisimova, 7-6(4) 6-7(2) 6-4 in two hours and 44 minutes. Saw varying comments about the quality of this match on Twitter…

Best point  🎾

Crazy point in tough conditions. Mertens trying to gee up the crowd at the end of the point 😂.

Favourite snap 📸

Love this shot that Petra posted on her Instagram!

Press musings 📰

Another day, sadly another withdrawal.

Day 7 watchlist 📺

(1) Ash Barty vs. (14) Victoria Azarenka (1st up on Grandstand)

(8) Bianca Andreescu vs. (12) Garbiñe Muguruza (5th up on Grandstand)

(2) Naomi Osaka vs. (16) Elise Mertens (3rd up on Grandstand)

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. (9) Petra Kvitova (1st up on Court 1)

(7) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (19) Marketa Vondrousova (2nd up on Court 1)

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter and Facebook. Feature photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

4 thoughts on “2021 WTA Miami, Day 6 Highlights: Muguruza outlasts inspired Kalinskaya, Pegula scores the hat-trick

  1. Is it just me who thinks that Jessica Pegula looks like Jo Konta ?

    I quite enjoyed the Mertens/Kontaveit match in the heat of Miami after thinking that it was going to be one sided after the 1st few games. I was disappointed that Naomi’s match was cancelled and it will mean that Naomi has made it to the 2nd week in Miami after playing only one match since the AO. I hope that Naomi can win but I thought that she looked a bit rusty in that match and I think that Mertens is capable of giving a good performance and has a chance of winning but I do wonder how she will cope with the heat ( she can struggle in hot conditions according to one of the commentators ) with a predicted 3pm start today and she has not had much time to recover properly from her match against Kontaveit.

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    • Not sure i’ve noticed that resemblance before! 😂 The heat and especially the humidity seems to be having an impact this week. I guess it’s a shock to the system and Oz wasn’t as hot this year. Heat-wise, the match definitely plays into Osaka’s hands because she has spoken before how she loves the heat and it doesn’t seem to phase her. That aside, i’m intrigued by this one and would actually give Mertens a shot at least to catch Osaka cold because she’s only played the one match.

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    • I wouldn’t be too worried about Osaka. Personally, I think she is one of the few in form players capable of bouncing back after a wobble at the moment. Also feel Miami is like home to her, along with players like Vika, Pegula, Serena and others who train and live ,in some cases, over in Florida. They might well be used to the conditions. Doesn’t mean she can’t be beaten, but you will have to play your smartest, best tennis. After all, these are hard courts.
      Agree with James though, soaring heat in combination with high humidity will take a toll on anyone after a prolonged exposure. Physical conditioning might be an important factor in this tournament.

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      • I wonder if more players have been impacted by the conditions because of all the quarantines and Australia wasn’t as hot as usual so they are perhaps not as used to the heat and humidity as they normally would be.

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