The third round of Madrid is in the books. Monday was a day! All four matches were eventful and of course, there was a customary late night finish in Madrid with their bizarre scheduling. Tuesday’s schedule had its moments too. Lots to share and plenty of highlights in today’s post which covers all eight of the third round matches and looks ahead to Wednesday’s quarter-finals…
R3 Stories 📚
Ons Jabeur d. Belinda Bencic, 6-2 3-6 6-2 (Monday)
I think this was Jabeur’s best win of the season so far. Clearly that Charleston final, which Bencic won in three sets last month, was at the forefront of Jabeur’s mind as she came racing out of the blocks. Big first serves, deep returns down the middle and attacking with the forehand. The first set was as good as it gets. Jabeur was knocking on the door for a break of serve early in the second set but missed three break points at 1-1 with a couple of errant drop shots. Jabeur then dropped her level and Bencic capitalised to level up at one set all.
The pair went off court to wait for the roof to close after an almighty rain and hail shower. There was quite a delay as the court crew had to bucket out the water that had collected on the tarps. The break seemed to benefit Jabeur who reset to her first set level as she sealed the early break of serve and then never relinquished control in the third set. Jabeur had a great serving day which was noteworthy because I think her second serve has been vulnerable this year. She went big on the first serve in the crucial moments and it paid off. And the ending… the final few points were highlight reel tennis from Ons. If you missed the match, I urge you to watch one of those points below!
Simona Halep d. Coco Gauff, 6-4 6-4 (Monday)
Halep cemented herself as the favourite for Madrid as she rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to record a third straight sets win over Gauff. This was Halep’s 30th (!) win in Madrid. I really enjoyed the first half of both sets. There were some terrific points as the pair were going toe-to-toe with each other, both playing aggressively. The start of the second set was peak Gauff, some of the best tennis i’ve seen her play, as she charged up to the net.
However, when it really counted at 4-4 in both sets, Gauff’s serve and forehand let her down. Another excellent performance from Halep. Her intensity was constant and unwavering, and she continued the trend from all of her previous matches in Madrid to step inside the baseline and be aggressive.
Ekaterina Alexandrova d. Marie Bouzkova, 6-7(4) 6-0 7-5 (Monday)
This was an extraordinary match. Where to start?! I’d like to know the distance that Bouzkova travelled in this match. She ran and ran and ran. Bouzkova’s plucky defence won her the first set which including surviving a 12 deuce game that might have included the shot of the year so far. After losing the 83 minute opener, Alexandrova rebounded remarkably well with a bagel set (why not 😂) to force a decider.
From the second set onwards, Alexandrova began to take control as Bouzkova ran herself into the ground after that epic opener. Bouzkova kept dropping the ball short on her groundstrokes. Still, Bouzkova kept fighting and Alexandrova had a severe case of the wobbles at the end. Even by Alexandrova’s standards, her attempt at closing out the match was inexplicable. Alexandrova missed three match points at *5-3 and another one at 5-4*, all on unforced errors. Bouzkova levelled up at 5-5 and didn’t do much other than keeping the ball in play. Alexandrova seesawed between the marvellous and mediocre but somehow dragged herself across the line, with a return winner on match point no less!
Three hours and four minutes. A gripping contest. The first set was pretty high quality. Third set was all about the drama. Bouzkova’s heart on court will take her far. I think Alexandrova is a top ten player with a stable mentality. Despite all the struggles, she did well in the end to recover from all the nerves and missed opportunities. I survived Alexandrova-Bouzkova t-shirts all round.
Amanda Anisimova d. Victoria Azarenka, 6-1 6-4 (Monday)
This should have been 1 and 1 if it wasn’t for a late surge from Azarenka and a shaky close from Anisimova. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it from Anisimova who had to serve out the match twice and needed six match points in the end. It doesn’t detract from what was an awesome peformance from Anisimova. Beautiful ballstriking. Azarenka just couldn’t get it out of the AA strike zone.
Sara Sorribes Tormo d. Daria Kasatkina, 6-4 1-6 6-3 (Tuesday)
For the second straight year, a Spaniard has made it to the last eight in Madrid. This year, it’s the run of Sorribes Tormo who has taken out Pavlyuchenkova, Osaka and now Kasatkina. I only watched the first set so not much to share on this one. In the opener, there were nine breaks of serve in ten service games. It felt like the same old story with Kasatkina who didn’t seem to have a strategy, or at least didn’t seem to stick to it! There were fleeting moments where Kasatkina attacked but she was mostly passive. Sorribes Tormo was clearer with her gameplan. A wonderful moment at the end for Sara!
Elena Rybakina d. Jil Teichmann, 6-3 6-1 (Tuesday)
This was the most one-sided match of the round as Teichmann cruised past an erratic, Rybakina. Teichmann used Rybakina’s pace and pounced on her opportunities to attack in what was a dazzlingly dynamic display. Teichmann is having another one of those weeks and is yet to drop a set having also beaten Kvitova and Fernandez. A bit disappointed by Rybakina who didn’t really have any answers in that second set.
Jessica Pegula d. Bianca Andreescu, 7-5 6-1 (Tuesday)
Pegula is into yetttt another WTA 1000 quarter-final after winning ten of the last 11 games to beat Andreescu. The first set was intriguing with the momentum constantly switching sides. It was scrappy though with a lot of errors and missed opportunities. I thought Andreescu was playing the big points better – Pegula missed 14 break points in the first set. I think the video below is her counting them out aloud to her coach in between sets! But the errors soon stacked up for Andreescu as Pegula rallied from behind to win the set and then pretty much cruised through the last few games of the match.
Pegula is just so steady. Going under the radar how well she is backing up her 2021 breakout season. Second tournament back for Andreescu and already a step forward. All positive.
Anhelina Kalinina d. Emma Raducanu, 6-2 2-6 6-4 (Tuesday)
The last of the women’s third rounders was a fascinating contest. Right up until the last point I really didn’t know which way this one was going! I really enjoyed the commentary from Mark Petchey and Laura Robson on Amazon Prime who picked up on some of the tactical patterns. Kalinina’s cross-court backhand was working wonders in the first set. Kalinina was damn impressive.
Raducanu took a medical time-out in between sets (back) and Kalinina wasn’t the same player on the resumption as she mixed up the patterns on the backhand. The errors started to flow. Kalinina returned to her first set patterns with the crosscourt backhand in the decider. Kalinina went up a break and then certainly wavered midway through that third set. It was the crosscourt backhand that earnt her what proved to be the crucial break at 4-4. From looking down and out, there was a chance for Raducanu and it felt like she let Kalinina off the hook. Still, I think it’s been another very positive week for Emma. This feels different to the Miami loss. Onwards and upwards.
Best point 🎾
On a hugeee point deep in the third set, Kalinina with that gorgeous angled backhand winner.
Hot shots 🔥
Shot of the year contender from Bouzkova.
Funny moment 🤣
Kader and Pam enjoying some Gnarls Barkley 😂.
Super snap 📸
I really like this shot of Sara.
Press highlights 📰
Ons’s reaction to her hot shots in the final game 😂.
Recommended reading 📚
Always enjoy Reem’s pieces. This is a very interesting read with quotes from Coco and her dad.
2/8 – Pegula and Anisimova were my only quarter-finalists. That’s my draw done for Madrid!
QF Previews 🤔
Simona Halep vs. Ons Jabeur: This is a fun match-up. I think it will take something special from Jabeur to topple Halep.
Amanda Anisimova vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova: Considering how Anisimova and Alexandrova closed out their third round matches, hold your nearest and dearest. Helmets at the ready in this big hitters paradise. I think Anisimova is the only player left who could trouble Halep.
Jil Teichmann vs. Anhelina Kalinina: A surprising quarter-final when you look at the names that started in this quarter but at the same time, both have proven themselves on clay. Teichmann has taken out some big hitters this week and tend to think she’s going to keep that run going.
Jessica Pegula vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo: Interestingly Sorribes Tormo leads Pegula 2-0 in their head-to-head although they haven’t played in three years. Can’t call this one. I would have gone J-peg confidently but that H2H has made me think.