It was a rainy day in Washington DC today but there were still quite a large number of matches completed. My feature match was in Washington as top seed Dominic Thiem came up against Henri Laaksonen.
The first match on Centre Court in Stanford produced one of the most surprising results of the day as Naomi Osaka fell to Caroline Dolehide 6-4, 6-2. This was Dolehide’s first ever WTA match and she wasn’t frightened by the occasion as she was aggressive and was really taking it the young Japanese rising star, who I predicted to win this event. The start was quite competitive as both girls hit the ball very hard and a lot of outstanding winners were being produced. It was pretty much neck and neck for the entire set and the lone break of the set came when Osaka was serving down 5-4. Osaka did have opportunities to win that game but the persistent American managed to take it on her third set point. Dolehide was full of confidence from the start of the second set and she raced out to a break lead at 5-2 in no time. Osaka wasn’t playing her best by any stretch in that second set but at this stage in her career she shouldn’t have been getting thrown around by a low-ranked player like she was. Dolehide continued the trend of showing no hesitation as she broke to take the match when an Osaka backhand went into the net. I am disappointed for Osaka because she was capable of doing big things this week but I am sure she will bounce back soon.
Our feature match was the third match on Centre Court and Dominic Thiem got his US Open hard court series off to a good start with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Henri Laaksonen. Thiem wasn’t at his best but he still played a really solid match and there was not really any doubt that he would win the match. I was very impressed with his start as he only lost two points on the way to a 3-0 lead with the break. Laaksonen started to hit a bit more freely from there but the damage had already been done and there were no more breaks of serve in that set. There was a very small lapse of play at the start of the second set from Thiem and he wasn’t playing very well up until about 3-3 in that set. For the final part of that set he was back to being focused and unstoppable as he got two more breaks of serve to seal the victory. Thiem surprised me with how well he played so early in this event and if he keeps this up he is a very good chance for the title.
Another intriguing match in Stanford saw Veronica Cepede Royg win her first Stanford main draw match as she came back against Kristie Ahn to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a very tight encounter. The whole match was on Ahn’s racquet and she had plenty of opportunities in this match to take it but it was the nerves that caused her undoing in the end. Ahn was very impressive in the first set as she was eating up anything that Cepede Royg hit short on the way to a very convincing opener. Ahn started the second set in a very similar fashion as she bullied a break from Cepede Royg early in the set and despite losing that she got another break which gave her the opportunity to serve for the match. From this point on she seemed to be suffering with a back injury and she just wasn’t able to play her game. Cepede Royg won the next three games on the trot to take the set and force a decider, which she easily sweeped through with Ahn looking too worn out. This will be crushing for Ahn but I think people expected experience to win out this match, and that’s what it ended up doing.
Another match which saw experience come through was in Washington where Juan Martin del Potro got past Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2. Lacko has been playing well recently so I don’t think anyone was counting him out completely and he did manage to challenge in the first set but del Potro was firmly in control for the whole match. Del Potro got a very strong start as he went up a double break early but Lacko managed to scramble around the court and get the double break back to level it at 4-4. Del Potro just stuck to his game plan and kept Lacko moving which ended up working as he broke to take the opening set. It was a similar situation in the second set as del Potro went up an early break in the set but this time was able to hold on to it. He ended up breaking to take the match and he was, as always, extremely gracious in victory. Del Potro is currently riding a 15-match winning streak in Washington and with the limited field and his experience (being a three-time champion) he may be the favourite.