Hola Madrid! The 2021 edition of the Mutua Madrid Open is the debut of the extended tournament with a Thursday main draw start. It does feel weird to be starting on a Thursday but I quite like how the matches will be more spaced out in the earlier rounds because it’s normally carnage at the start. The Madrid draw is always one of the best with no byes and it certainly has delivered again with some of these first round match-ups. Read on for Thursday’s diary from Madrid with the focus on the only seeded upset of the day.
Day 1️⃣ Highlights
Jill Teichmann d. (4) Elina Svitolina, 2-6 6-4 7-6(5)
Of the 16 matches on Thursday’s schedule, 15 were decided in straight sets. The only three set match of the day was a rather extraordinary one. Teichmann rallied from a set and a break down and 1-5 down in the 3rd set, saving SIX match points to stun the number four seed, Svitolina. Three of the match points were saved in stirring fashion by Teichmann. Svitolina will be kicking herself about two of them as she failed to get the return back in play.
The third set was close until Teichmann began making some wild unforced errors. As she clawed back the deficit, game-by-game, she grew in confidence and went on the attack with some aggressive ballstriking. At the end, it was a classic case of Svitolina playing passively, miles behind the baseline which Teichmann smartly exploited with the drop shot.
With Svitolina, it’s all too often the case of one step forward, two steps back. I was starting to sit up and take notice after solid displays in Miami and Stuttgart but this was a bit of a crusher from such a dominant lead in the third set. And actually, Svitolina’s record in Madrid is surprisingly dreadful. This wasn’t the first time she has lost a match in Madrid from match point up, wasting two match points against Zheng Saisai in 2017. Great fight and heart from Teichmann who is not to be underestimated on the clay, or any surface for that matter.
Angelique Kerber d. Marketa Vondrousova, 7-6(5) 6-1
Kerber-Vondrousova was my first viewing experience from Madrid and for a set, it was really good. I said in my preview that I was looking forward to this match-up but completely skipped over that it’s two lefties! The forehand-forehand exchanges were rather dreamy.
Kerber was ultimately rewarded for being more aggressive with her forehand and she managed to overcome an early flurry of errors in the first set. Last week in Stuttgart, Kerber faltered in a tight opening set tiebreak against Svitolina. This time round, she really held her nerve and then powered through the second set. Kerber’s best win of the year so far by ranking and it paves the way for a classic WTA head-to-head…
(1) Ash Barty d. Shelby Rogers, 6-2 6-1
Spare a thought for Shelby Rogers who has drawn Barty four times in 2021. This was one of the best performances i’ve seen this year from Ash. An absolute clinic. The scoreline could have been even more convincing as Barty missed a break point in one of Rogers’s service holds in the first set.
Rogers played OK in the first set and then faded in the second set. It was kind of understandable as Barty didn’t budge one bit. Barty landed 76% of first serves in play, won 27 of 29 points behind the first serve and hit eight aces. Even by Ash’s standards, those are crazy good serving stats.
Side note – love Ash’s face mask!!!
(9) Petra Kvitova d. Marie Bouzkova, 6-2 2-3 ret.
This was a sad ending. A tearful Bouzkova was forced to retire after an awkward fall which left her with a swollen thumb. Bouzkova was competitive at the starts of both sets and was even up a break in the second set when the fall happened. Kvitova pulled away at the end of the first set with some strong serving and returning. Interested how that second set would have played out if Bouzkova hadn’t fallen. Kvitova advances to the second round where she will play Kerber 😍😍😍.
Hot shot 🔥
Ash has looked so sharp in her forward movement on the clay.
Petra with the consoling hug 🤗.
Favourite snap 📸
Recommended media 📺
Urgh rubbish news. Get well soon, Garbi.
Friday watchlist 📺
Thoughts on Friday’s first round matches can be found on the separate page HERE.