The second round at the 2021 French Open is in the books. Not the best of tennis days as the world number one, Ash Barty, was forced to retire from her second round match. The rest of the matches were mostly uneventful. Just a short post from me today as I was playing tennis myself this evening. I’m pleased to report that I was truly abysmal.
Day 5️⃣ Highlights
Sloane Stephens d. (9) Karolina Pliskova, 7-5 6-1
This was Stephens’s first top ten win since the 2018 WTA Finals when she beat… Karolina Pliskova! I think Sloane has been on a slow but steady upward trajectory for the last few months and this was one of her best performances of the year. It’s uplifting considering what Sloane has been through this past year. There was a match she played in Charleston earlier this year against Ajla Tomljanovic which completely won me over. It was peak Sloane hitting. Granted, that level hasn’t been sustained since then but there were flashes of it again today as she was hitting the ball beautifully and really going after her groundstrokes.
The first set of this match built to a pretty high level. I was impressed how Stephens didn’t shy away when Pliskova started to surge. Stephens failed to serve out the set in a brilliant game at *5-4, but sealed the deal second time round at *6-5. Pliskova came in two aggressive waves, twice breaking Stephens to get back on level terms. Pliskova then rather tamely gifted the break back on both occasions. Once again, Pliskova was a shadow of her former self on serve as she held serve in just four of her ten service games.
Circling Stephens’s third round match with Karolina Muchova as one to watch.
Magda Linette d. (1) Ash Barty, 6-1 2-2 ret.
Oof. What a crusher. We knew Barty was struggling from her first round match and it became quickly apparent in this match that the hip injury was still bothering her. Barty took a medical time-out after the first set and continued on for four games before pulling the rip cord. This tournament sucks 😂 . In much the same vein as Halep, Muguruza, Kvitova and Osaka, I have everything crossed that Ash will be all good for Wimby.
Linette advances to the third round to play Ons Jabeur. Linette played a superb first set. I think it must be a real challenge to play an injured opponent. Linette was focused and tactically aware, moving the ball from side-to-side and exploiting Barty’s movement into her backhand wing.
Best of the rest 🎾
Barbora Krejcikova defeated the number 32 seed, Ekaterina Alexandrova for the second time in a week. Krejcikova, who is now riding a seven match winning streak, won 6-2 6-3.
The only other seeds to go three sets on Thursday were Elise Mertens and Jen Brady, the latter who twice came from a break down in the third set to beat Fiona Ferro, 4-6 6-2 7-5.
In a rematch of the Parma final, Coco Gauff beat Wang Qiang again, 6-3 7-6(1). Gauff played a superb second set tiebreak which included a jumping backhand winner, immense anticipation at the net in a classic pinball point and a backhand passing shot winner.
Most of the seeds had a good day. Elina Svitolina, Anett Kontaveit, Iga Swiatek, Sofia Kenin, Ons Jabeur, Karolina Muchova, Jessica Pegula and Maria Sakkari all won through to the third round in straight sets.
Lovely touch from Jen Brady 🥰 .
Favourite snap 📸
This picture gets me 😭.
Press musings 📰
Gutted for Ash.
Day 6 watchlist 📺
(7) Serena Williams vs. Danielle Collins
(15) Victoria Azarenka vs. (23) Madison Keys
(3) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova