The second round is in the books at the 2021 US Open. I was out last night so today’s post is a bumper review of what happened over the last two days in New York. The pictures and videos from Louis Armstrong on Wednesday night were quite something as New York was hit badly by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Thursday’s action began with NINE women’s matches up first on the schedule. NINE! Just ridiculous. After two rounds, the top 20 seeds are still standing. That feels like some kind of record?! Read on for the diary…
Day 3️⃣ and 4️⃣ Highlights
(8) Barbora Krejcikova d. Christina McHale, 6-3 6-1 (Wednesday)
In her first main draw appearance at the US Open, Krejcikova is nonchalantly is safely into the third round. Seriously, this is just so impressive from Barbora and i’m still not sure it’s getting the credit it deserves. This was an odd match as it started out on Court 13 and then finished up under the roof of Louis Armstrong when the rain arrived.
For the first set, I thought it was the most uncomfortable i’ve seen Krejcikova in like… ever. She threw away her break lead at *3-2 with a bizarre game of errors and was struggling to get her groundstrokes over the net. It seemed to just be a blip as she cranked up the pressure again on McHale’s serve to claim the opener.
The match was moved to Armstrong with Krejcikova leading 6-3 *2-1. The Czech player didn’t drop another game as she cruised into the last 32.
(2) Aryna Sabalenka d. Tamara Zidansek, 6-3 6-1 (Wednesday)
This was a fine display from Sabalenka, even more so considering that she had a nasty fall in the first set. In fact both players fell in this match but it was Sabalenka who did more damage and was icing her fingers and wrist on every changeover after it happened. She sounded a bit concerned in her press as her fingers were swelling and beginning to changing colour. Hopefully all will be OK for Friday. It was a great match from Sabalenka who was both aggressive and focused and forced Zidansek into overhitting in the second set.
(1) Ash Barty d. Clara Tauson, 6-1 7-5 (Thursday)
Barty’s second round match was remarkably similar to her first one against Zvonareva. After finally converting on her tenth break point (!) in Tauson’s first service game, Barty sped at pace through the opener. The second set was much closer and featured another nervy Barty close. Barty failed to serve out the match at *5-4 and saved a break point at the second try, eventually closing out Tauson in straights.
(10) Petra Kvitova d. Kristyna Pliskova, 7-6(4) 6-2 (Thursday)
If rallies are your thing then this match wasn’t for you! The first set featured 12 consecutive holds of serve. Naturally the ensuing tiebreak of 11 points featured 6 points going against the serve. Kvitova showed her class in the tiebreak and carried that momentum into the second set as she broke Kr. Pliskova’s serve twice. A very solid start to the tournament from Petra who gets Maria Sakkari in the next round.
(7) Iga Swiatek d. Fiona Ferro, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0 (Thursday)
Swiatek rallied from a set and a break down to book her place in the third round. This seemed an unlikely situation as Swiatek was sobbing at the changeover down 3-6 0-1. Swiatek was all having kinds of trouble with her forehand and for a time, could barely find the court. It felt like a case of the yips? She hit with lots of topspin and margin for the rest of the match and slowly found some rhythm with it. Remarkably, Ferro didn’t seem to target it specifically. Swiatek knuckled down and actually played some decent, aggressive ball in the second set tiebreak. Job done as Ferro completely folded in the final set, winning just seven points.
In the end, an impressive escape from Swiatek who was clearly not in a good headspace at the start of the second set. She’ll likely to need play better to advance through the next round as she plays the Cleveland champ, Anett Kontaveit, who is now riding a seven match winning streak.
(16) Angelique Kerber d. Anhelina Kalinina, 6-3 6-2 (Thursday)
Kerber-Kalinina was held over from Wednesday due to the weather situation and the Louis Armstrong roof not helping much. The match was eventually moved onto Arthur Ashe Stadium. Kerber overturned a recent loss to Kalinina at the French with a fine display. Angie was in a good mood. 71% of points won behind the first serve, 23 winners to 14 unforced errors and really going after her shot. It’s a brutal draw to come but watch out for Angie.
Best of the rest 🎾
The end of the Azarenka-Paolini match on Tuesday was fantastic. Victoria Azarenka eventually prevailed in the second set tiebreak, 6-3 7-6(1). A fine effort from Paolini who came up with some brilliant winners towards the end.
It continues to be a mostly dreamy tournament for the seeds. On Wednesday, the only seed to fall during the day session was the number 32 seed, Ekaterina Alexandrova, who went out in straights to lucky loser and fellow compatriot, Kamilla Rakhimova. Monday’s marquee match of the day between the number 21 seed Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens produced another upset, at least by by seeding, as Sloane won, 6-4 6-2. Sloane landed 84% (!) of first serves in play and dropped just ten (!) points on serve all match. By all accounts, Sloane was great.
Just two more seeds fell on Thursday including my semi-final pick of the number 24 seed, Paula Badosa. The Spaniard went out in straights to Varvara Gracheva. A big surprise although the Russian player did just reach the semi-finals in Chicago. Finally, Ajla Tomljanovic made it back-to-back third rounds at the Slams as she defeated the number 30 seed, Petra Martic, 7-6(6) 6-4.
In the final match of the second round, Karolina Pliskova saved a match point to beat Amanda Anisimova, 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6(7) in what both the WTA and US Open social media accounts proclaimed was the match of the tournament so far. A huge escape for Pliskova. Gutted for Anisimova who tweeted after that she wanted to win so badly for her dad 😭.
Best point 🎾
Best point of the match on match point as Emma Raducanu produced another terrific display. The Brit overturned a recent loss to Zhang Shuai to make it back-to-back third rounds at the Slams. So, so impressive.
Muguruza going in for the hug?! This was delightful. I’m here for this. I think Muguruza and Petkovic were practice partners in Australia. Both had very nice things to say about each other in their press conferences and on social media.
Press highlights 📰
When Sloane’s in a good mood, her press conferences are must-watch.
Recommended media 📺
Carla Suárez Navarro played her last Slam match as she went out in doubles with Errani. Lovely ovation as she walked off court!
Day 5 watchlist 📺
Thoughts about day 5 matches and the start of the third round can be found on the separate page here.
(9) Garbiñe Muguruza vs. (18) Victoria Azarenka
(16) Angelique Kerber vs. Sloane Stephens
(2) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (26) Danielle Collins
(12) Simona Halep vs. (19) Elena Rybakina