Today was semifinals at both tournaments this week and we had the only seed in action fall in Charleston leaving the seeds with a 0% success rate, which leaves us with an all unseeded final. In Monterrey, two of the four seeds in action went through leaving them with a 50% success rate and a final between the number 1 and 2 seeds.
The first semifinal in Monterrey and our feature match saw Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova play a great and consistent match to overcome Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-4. Garcia wasn’t playing to badly but she was forced to play defence the whole time as Pavlyuchenkova was smashing her shots past Garcia. The start of there contest was quite competitive as they both carved out two hard-fought holds of serve each but from 2-2 Pavlyuchenkova made her move. She played some wonderful points with both her backhand and forehand hitting numerous winners. Garcia started to fall away and lose confidence which eventually led to Pavlyuchenkova taking the opening set with a break of Garcia’s serve. In the second set, Caroline managed to figure a way to work around Pavlyuchenkova’s hard hitting and low margins game which was to approach the net more. Pavlyuchenkova wasn’t able to deal with Garcia at the net very well but she was still holding her service games comfortably. Pavlyuchenkova got the lucky break when Garcia tensed up while serving at 4-4 with the pressure of the Russian might having the opportunity to serve out the match. Pavlyuchenkova eventually made it to her fourth Monterrey Open final after a Garcia forehand sailed long and she took the set.
The first semifinal in Charleston saw Daria Kasatkina make her first ever WTA final with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Laura Siegemund. There was a total momentum change at the beginning of the second set and Siegemund went from great to bad were as Kasatkina went from bad to fantastic which saw her close out the win. Kasatkina drew first blood in the final as she broke for the 2-1 lead but Siegemund broke straight back with some of her signature drop shots. Siegemund broke for a 2-4 lead mere games later and, in reality, Siegemund should have been able to hold on to that break for the rest of the set but she played a bad game where she missed two drop shots in a row. Kasatkina broke to put the match back on serve but Siegemund broke straight and then served out the 3-6 set. Early in the second set, Kasatkina bought her coach on court and he went through everything she was doing wrong. He gave her some tough love and that was the turning point in the match; Kasatkina started playing the aggressive tennis she played in her first matches this week and Siegemund starting hitting a lot more errors than usual. That got Kasatkina to go from 1-2 down on serve to getting the 6-2 set in amazing fashion with Siegemund not being able to do anything as backhands flew past her. The second set was even more impassive and fast as Siegemund got her one service hold when Kasatkina tightened up at 5-0 up she served it out very competently the next game to reach the final. This is big win for the Russian as it shows her she can change momentum, which is proven by her winning the last 10 of 11 games in the semifinal.
The final Charleston semifinal saw 19 year-old Jelena Ostapenko upset the final seed remaining in the tournament Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 as she advanced to her third career final. Ostapenko was on song for the majority of the match as she hit winner after winner past the hard-hitting Lucic-Baroni but she did tense up after being a break up in the second set. It was a very intense and entertaining first set and neither women was giving much away on their serve as it was on serve until Ostapenko broke to go up 5-3. There were some epic rallies in the first set with Ostapenko’s backhand matching up with Lucic-Baroni’s forehand. Ostapenko was very competent and didn’t show nerves as she served out a 6-3 set to start the match off successfully. Ostapenko broke early in the second set to lead 3-2 and she held on to that break until she had the opportunity to serve out the match a 5-4 up. Lucic-Baroni recovered the break and she went on to break Ostapenko to capture the 5-7 set and stay alive in the match. Ostapenko broke early again in the third set to lead 2-1 but this time she didn’t let go of that break. She held on to the break and when she had the opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4 and a long and gruelling game ensued. Ostapenko saved a couple of break points and she eventually got to the final as Lucic-Baroni’s forehand sailed wide. Ostapenko has been playing so good this week and I am wondering how she will fair in the final of 19 year-olds
The final semifinal in Monterrey saw Angelique Kerber reach her first final of season with a 7-6(8-6), 6-1 over Carla Suarez Navarro. Suarez Navarro played part of the second set out of her mind and she could have thrashed anyone the way she was playing but Kerber stayed strong with her steady game. Despite falling today this is a very successful tournament for Suarez Navarro as she won back-to-back matches for the first time this season. Kerber started the better of the pair with her forehand firing she raced out to a 4-1 lead with the break. That was when Suarez Navarro played the four games of her life as she smacked countless backhand cross court winners, which were very majestic, and showed off her skill at the net. Eventually she came back to earth and the final couple of games of the set led up to a very exiting tiebreaker but it was Kerber’s forehand that got her over the line. Kerber returned to her dominant ways in the second set as she raced to a 5-0 lead and this time she didn’t let it slip. Suarez Navarro got one service hold but Kerber held the next game to reach her second Monterrey Open final when Suarez Navarro mishit her backhand into the stands. Kerber is playing solid tennis this week and if she wins tomorrow I think she could return to the big clay events playing like she did in 2016.
In Davis Cup, two of the four semifinals were ended on doubles Saturday with France claiming the clean sweep over Great Britain and Serbia claiming the clean sweep over Spain. The other two semifinals will need Sunday to decide who goes through as Australia lead the United States 2-1 and Belgium lead Italy 2-1.