2021 French Open, Wednesday R2 Highlights: Azarenka beats Tauson, Serena-Buz was a blast!

The fourth quarter of the women’s draw is already presenting a flurry of opportunities to the players still standing. It’s a funny one because I KNEW, and I think everyone knew, this fourth quarter was liable to break down. However, it’s broken apart in different ways than I imagined as the players that I thought might benefit from said draw destruction are also out! Read on for Wednesday’s diary with a spotlight on my two favourite matches of the day.

Day 4️⃣ Highlights

(7) Serena Williams d. Mihaela Buzarnescu, 6-3 5-7 6-1

Serena-Buz was an absolute blast. Loved it! I was debating with myself whether Serena going three sets was a good thing or not. I settled on yes. I think more court time is a good thing for Serena and even looking ahead to Wimbledon.

This match was a pertinent reminder that Buzarnescu’s got game. I have a real soft spot for Buz back from her run in 2018 when she was tearing up the tour. It was such a crusher when she got injured in Canada. I’m a sucker for a lefty forehand and Buzarnescu’s is delightful. It was actually a brilliant backhand winner, having patiently stayed with Serena in the rally, that Buzarnescu converted set point to level the match at one set all. Serena had been in the ascendancy and was serving very well. However, she couldn’t put Buzarnescu away as she converted just one of eight break points in the second set.

The third set was one-sided in the scoreline. Looks can be deceiving. There were sooo many fun points! I’ve linked a couple below in this post. One point in particular saw both players laughing at the end which was such a nice, heartwarming moment. The rallies were quite even towards the end of the second set and at the start of third. There was a gear change from Serena who started to take control of them and was playing quite well at the end.

I really, really, really hope that Buzarnescu can use this as a springboard. I think she has unfinished business on the tour. She seems in a good place and was clearly enjoying the battle in the decider. Serena advances to a third round meeting with Danielle Collins. Yes please…

(15) Victoria Azarenka d. Clara Tauson, 7-5 6-4

Azarenka advanced to the third round of the French Open for the first time since 2015 as she held off the highly touted 18-year-old, Clara Tauson. This was a good match, in particular the first set. The quality came down a few notches in the second set but it was still an absorbing watch. Azarenka’s experience ultimately prevailed in the key moments as she was able to serve out both sets at the first time of asking. Azarenka’s depth on her groundstrokes was superb and notably on return where she put a lot of pressure on the Tauson second serve. I’m pleasantly surprised by this level from Azarenka considering how few matches she has played in 2021.

I enjoyed watched Tauson again as it’s been a while. I think she’s destined to be a star of the future. The foundation of her game is the heavy, powerful groundstrokes. It’s the other subtle touches that impress me. There was one point in the first set where Tauson pushed Azarenka back behind the baseline with a slice and then executed a successful drop shot. Azarenka clapped. I felt like it was a good indication of Tauson’s tennis IQ. I also liked that Tauson didn’t go away after the first set. There were signs that she was folding at the beginning of the second set. Tauson managed to stay in contention and force Azarenka to earn the win. Next steps – second serve needs work, as is the case with all up-and-comers on the tour, and just more matches at this level.

Next up for Azarenka is Madison Keys in a rare glitzy third round match that actually held to its seeding 👀 .

Best of the rest 🎾

Daria Kasatkina dropped just four games in a 6-2 6-2 victory over the number 10 seed, Belinda Bencic. Surface preference prevailed in this one.

Katerina Siniakova knocked out the number 29 seed, Veronika Kudermetova in an extraordinary match, 7-6(7) 5-7 7-5. Siniakova led 7-6 3-0. Then Kudermetova led 5-1 in the third set and had two match points! I caught the final set where a surging, aggressive Siniakova won the last six games as an increasingly passive Kudermetova folded. After Petra went out, Kudermetova was my tip for the final 😬 .

Watch out for Paula Badosa and Danielle Collins. The pair each dropped just two games as they powered their way into the third round.

Best points  🎾

POINTTTTTTT X2. Seriously, two of the best points you will watch all year! I loved the pair’s reaction at the end to the first one. Buzarnescu’s anticipation and defence in the second is extraordinary.

H&H 🤗

BB and Dasha K. are always a regular in the annual handshakes and hugs post on MTB.

Favourite snap 📸

Today’s photo of the day is actually one from yesterday. Loved this shot that Muchova shared on her Instagram page.

Recommended media 📺

Carla ❤❤❤.

Recommended reading 📚

Hannah is one of my favourite tennis accounts on Twitter. This was a beautifully written piece about Osaka and mental health.

Day 5 watchlist 📺

(9) Karolina Pliskova vs. Sloane Stephens

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. Ann Li

(13) Jen Brady vs. Fiona Ferro

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