Volvo Car Open, Monterrey Open Day 5 Review

Today was quarterfinals day in both tournaments on this week and, like yesterday, the unexpected results came in Charleston but it was business as usual in Moneterrey. Only 1 of the 4 seeds in action went through in Charleston leaving them with a 25% success rate where as 4 of the 6 seeds went through in Monterrey, leaving them with a 67% success rate. The first day of Davis Cup quarterfinal actions also completed and I will be talking about that today.

Daria Kasatkina opened the day in Charleston as she got a 6-4, 6-1 win over the higher-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu. Kasatkina was playing very well and aggressively despite having nerves to start the match, which isn’t very common from Kasatkina so it must have been the occasion of a quarterfinal at a big tournament. Kasatkina was displaying nerves and Begu took advantage of that as she hit a couple of winners to take an early break and go out to lead 0-2. She didn’t get a massive look in to making the encounter competitive after that first break. Kasatkina started playing more aggressively from there and she broke back and then broke again to lead 3-2. The rest of the set was on serve as the Russian eventually served out the 6-4 set, which is one of her most closely contested sets of the week. Just before the end of the opener Daria had her coach on court and I found their exchange fascinating with her coach telling her not to forget to dropshot, something that I have wished more players would use more often in their games. Kasatkina was the one who jumped out to an early break in the second set as went up 3-1. She couldn’t miss the ball for the rest of the match as she got two more breaks on the way to victory. Now that Lucie Safarova and Madison Keys are out, I wouldn’t be suprised at all to see Kasatkina take home the trophy.

In Monterrey, Carla Suarez Navarro put on an absolute masterclass as she blasted past Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-1 to reach her first semifinal of the season. Suarez Navarro was hitting  the best I have seen her hit in over twelve months and her serving was very solid, which is normally a weakness in her game. Cornet held to open the match but from there it was all Suarez Navarro in her groove and looking unstoppable. The Spaniard showed off her doubles prowess while at the net and she was making Cornet hit 2 or 3 unbelievable shots before one of them was a winner. Cornet wasn’t playing at her best and was missing a lot more shots than she normally does but this match was mainly down to Suarez Navarro’s great play. The Spaniard looked on the way to a bagel second set when she was up a double break and serving at 4-0 but Cornet hit a couple of great backhands and managed to bring up break points. Suarez Navarro engaged in a big tussle to try and save them but in the end the Spaniard hit one to many errors and gave the break to Cornet. That didn’t phase her though as she then whizzed through the last two games to take the match with a forehand winner.

In a very entertaining and tight Monterrey night match Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova got a great 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 win over Timea Babos. This ended Pavlyuchenkova’s quarterfinal losing streak and if she lost today it would have been an 11-match losing streak in quarterfinals. This means that it is her first semifinal since the end of 2015, when she reached the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Both started the match strongly as they held their first two service games each to love or to 40-15. That was broken when Babos was serving at 3-2 down and the Russian pieced together a strong return game and broke. Pavlyuchenkova then broke again when Babos was serving to stay in the set at 5-2 down to give her a convincing opening set. It was another tight start to the second set as there were no breaks of serve up until when Pavlyuchenkova was serving at 3-4 down and I think her quarterfinal record got to her head. That would have made her tight and she hit a couple of unforced errors to give Babos the break. In the game after the Hungarian served out the slightly messy set to take it to a decider. The third set was a very tense and nerve-racking encounter as Pavlyuchenkova went up the early break but then the pressure got her and Babos broke back to reenter the match. Babos was serving at 6-5 down and it was her turn to tighten up and that’s all Pavlyuchenkova needed to take the break and the match. This will put a lot of pressure off Pavlyuchenkova because she broke the quarterfinal curse and who knows the results she can achieve with this monkey off her back.

Our feature match saw young gun Jelena Ostapenko put in a stunner of a performance to breeze past Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the Charleston night match. Ostapenko has been known to produce inconsistent performances which include a moody and sulky meltdown but she was a complete professional out there tonight. It started like you would expect with Wozniacki putting pressure on Ostapenko’s serve and having a couple of break points but the Latvian was still holding strong. From 2-2, Ostapenko saved game points when Wozniacki was serving and then got the first break of the match. She got another break to go up 5-2 before serving out the dominant set in which Ostapenko looked like she couldn’t miss a lot of the time. A stat that shows how well Ostapenko was playing in the opener is that she hit 19 winners to just 8 unforced errors. It was very tight for the start of the second set but when the score was level at 4-4, Wozniacki tightened up and got broken. Ostapenko and Wozniacki played a very high quality last game of the set as both match and break points were saved until Ostapenko finally clenched the win. Another stat that illustrates how well the Latvian was playing is that Wozniacki only hit 6 unforced errors in the ENTIRE match. This would definitely be the best match Ostapenko has played in her career and Wozniacki put it very simply in her post-match press conference as she said that “if she (Ostapenko) played like that everyday, she’d be world number 1,” which I totally agree with.

We also had the first day of Davis Cup semifinal action completed and although I won’t go in-depth, I’ll skim over the results. The interesting thing is that in all four ties the score is at 2-0 in rubbers, which puts the leaders one match away from victory. In Belgium, the home nation are up 2-0 on Italy after Steve Darcis got the surprise 6-7(3-7), 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(7-4) win over Paolo Lorenzi and David Goffin got the straightforward 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Andreas Seppi. Australia is 2-0 up on the United States after Jordan Thompson got the shock 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7-4), 6-4 win over Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios got a 7-5, 7-6(7-5), 7-6(7-5) win over John Isner in a very entertaining encounter. France are up 2-0 on Great Britain after Lucas Pouille overcame Kyle Edmund 7-5, 7-6(10-8), 6-3 and Jeremy Chardy overcame Daniel Evans, who was playing on clay for the first time since 2015 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Finally, Serbia lead Spain 2-0 after Novak Djokovic got past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 before Viktor Troicki followed his lead and got a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Pablo Carenno Busta.

Other Matches:

Monterrey

Caroline Garcia defeated Julie Boserup 6-3, 6-2

Angelique Kerber defeated Heather Watson 6-4, 6-4

Charleston

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni defeated Shelby Rogers 6-7(7-9), 6-1, 6-1

Laura Siegemund defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-4

Daria Kasatkina defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 6-1

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