Sorry for not posting the past couple of days but I am back here to review the first day of third round action. My feature match going into the day was Simona Halep’s first real test as she took on the in-form Shuai Peng.
One of the first results to roll in saw one of the most consistent players in Kei Nishikori bow out to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6(7-3), 3-6, 6-3 out on Court 3. Nishikori was struggling to convert on the important points today as he missed out on 9 of 11 break points. It was a very tight first set and there was no clear front runner for most of the set up until Bautista Agut broke at 5-4 up to take the set. Nishikori was the better player for most of the second set but he couldn’t take his break points and a tiebreaker was forced. Bautista Agut was winning all the important points in the breaker and he eventually took it quite comfortably. Nishikori showed he wasn’t going down without a fight in the third set as he took the early break and then held on to that to force a fourth set. Nishikori looked on the way to forcing a fifth early on as he broke in the first game of the set but after that he lost 6 of the next 8 games and he tumbled out of the event. I’m quite surprised that Nishikori went out this early because I had him down to reach the final but Bautista Agut was very consistent today so a lot of the credit should go to him for the win.
Simona Halep played a very strong match today as she played well under pressure against the dangerous Shuai Peng to get the 7-4, 7-6(9-7). Peng could have won both sets if a couple more points went her way but it was Halep who knew what to do when it came down to it with some strong tactics. Both players were so sound on serve until the very end of the set when Peng started to get a bit tight and was broken to give Halep a 5-4 lead. After Halep served out the set Peng was back on for the second and it was even more tight and competitive than the first. The two exchanged breaks a couple of times on the way to the breaker and then in the tiebreaker Peng got out to a good start and even had set point while leading it 6-5. Halep managed to save the set point and then bring up set points of her own a couple of points later which she managed to take to close out the match. This is a good win for Halep and it’s particularly impressive that she didn’t end up dropping a set.
Recent French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko continued her bid for back to back slam titles with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over the big hitting Camila Giorgi. Giorgi is similar to Ostapenko because they both go for broke on every shot but the difference is that Ostapenko gets more in, which was evident today. Giorgi went through a lot of swings in her play as she could hit 5 winners in a row and then miss 10 returns in a row, which is typical of the Italian. Giorgi got a break midway through the first set and she went up 3-5 but then Ostapenko got on a roll and won the final four games of the set. It was a similar situation in the second set as Giorgi couldn’t miss at the start of the set and raced out to a 2-5 lead. Ostapenko then got into a rhythm and won the last 5 games of the match as she reached the fourth round of a slam for just the second time in her career and for the first at Wimbledon. Ostapenko is flying under the radar but when you look at the draw every single player remaining is someone Ostapenko can beat.
In Murray’s biggest test at this event so far he managed to sneak past the flamboyant Fabio Fognini 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 on the Centre Court. I was very surprised that Fognini wasn’t able to force a fifth set because he seemed like he was in a good position in the fourth set. Murray was no where near his best and his movement was comprised which has raised concerns of injury again for Murray. Fognini was inconsistent on serve in the first set and Murray was very comfortable as he rolled through the set with ease. It was Murray’s turn to struggle on serve in the second set as Fognini was hitting forehand winners all over the place to level the score. Fognini appeared to be struggling with an ankle injury for most of the third set and his movement was hampered, which Murray took advantage of, and Fognini dropped the set without much struggle. Fognini appeared to recover from his injury very quickly for the fourth set and I thought he was the better player for most of it. Fognini quickly jumped out to lead 5-2 but Murray kept chipping away and, as he so often does, he got back into it. Fognini looked really frustrated about letting go of his break and he was never able to refocus as Murray sneaked out the win in four sets. Murray will really need to raise his game if he wasn’t any chance of defending his title from here.