The first round is in the books for the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open. The first two days have been largely uneventful with 14 of the 15 seeds progressing to the next round. I’ve historically hated the Madrid tournament but i’ve slowly come round to it in recent years and am looking forward to a chilled Bank Holiday weekend of tennis. Read on for Friday’s diary from Madrid.
Day 2️⃣ Highlights
(6) Karolina Pliskova d. Coco Gauff, 5-7 6-3 6-2
In one of the most anticipated first round matches, Pliskova recovered from a error-strewn opener to see off Gauff in three sets. The story of the first set was 26 (!) unforced errors from Pliskova. Gauff got the yips trying to serve out the first set at *5-4 but Pliskova inexplicably handed the break back to Gauff who successfully served out the first set at *6-5 with a gutsy second serve.
The overwhelming storyline was that Pliskova managed to settle down, producing only 11 unforced errors in the second and third sets. When Pliskova doesn’t serve well it exposes the vulnerability in other areas of her game. Pliskova served much better in the the final two sets and in the end came through for a decent win.
(11) Jen Brady d. Venus Williams, 6-2 6-4
Jen Brady won her first match since the Australian Open, snapping a streak of four straight losses. After a quartet of breaks to open the match, Brady locked in with her serve and groundstrokes to cruise the final four games of the set. The second set was much more competitive and rather gripping in places. Venus played some decent ball and led by an early break. Brady broke back in a lengthy game at 2-3, saved a trio of break points at 4-4 and then played a brilliant return game to break for the win. There was one point in particular in the final game where Brady’s defence was tremendous. I think Brady’s game with the serve and heavy forehand matches up quite nicely to clay?
(15) Maria Sakkari d. Amanda Anisimova, 0-6 6-1 6-4
My takeaway from this match was that Sakkari came out flat and with no rhythm, lost the first set, 0-6 and still managed to get the win with a resilient display. It was a scrappy match, neither played well at the same time, and it was a reminder of the often unviewable conditions from Madrid with the crazy shadows. Sakkari failed to serve out the match at *5-3 in the third set but played a really solid return game to break Anisimova for the win. Winning when not playing your best is a thing…
Best of the rest 🎾
In her first match on clay in over 14 months, the number two seed Naomi Osaka beat Misaki Doi, 7-5 6-2. Osaka needed two tries at serving out the first set. Next up is Karolina Muchova. Tricky!
The number three seed, Simona Halep led 6-0 5-1 30-15* against Sara Sorribes Tormo but things got dicey! Halep eventually prevailed in straight sets, 6-0 7-5.
Daria Kasatkina rallied from a set and a break down and then needed EIGHT match points to beat Irina-Camelia Begu in a three hour marathon. Kasatkina won, 4-6 6-4 7-6(1).
Favourite snap 📸
Recommended media 📺
Naomi changing her mind at the end 😂.
Saturday watchlist 📺
I’m all about Petra vs. Angie on Saturday. Read my thoughts on the match on the separate page here.
One thought on “2021 WTA Madrid, Friday R1 Highlights: Pliskova overcomes Gauff, Brady snaps the streak”
I was pleased that Dasha ( Daria Kasatkina ) won her match against Begu following a 3rd set tiebreak after not taking the opportunity to win any of her previous 7 match points ( all on the Begu serve ) that she had. She will have to perform much better if she is to beat Sabalenka though. It was a good match but spoilt for me by the very low TV camera angle which made it difficult to see the far end of the court.
I watched Simona Halep who was cruising to an easy win but got defensive towards the end of the 2nd set ( do not know why ? ) and let her opponent back into the match but she eventually won. Simona is a pleasure to watch on the clay imo.
I agree that Petra vs. Angie tomorrow should be an interesting match and will be on my Watchlist along with the matches involving my three favs ( Bencic, Kasatkina and Osaka ).
Just want to mention that I read yesterday that France is easing their lockdown from May 19th so maybe the FO will be allowed to have a reasonable number of spectators.