Madrid Day 3: Bouchard Ousts Sharapova
Niall Clarke from Madrid
Eugenie Bouchard upset Maria Sharapova in a feisty grudge match at the Mutua Madrid Open in a day which also saw Karolina Pliskova make a shock exit.
Sharapova knocked out by Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard did not hold back on her thoughts on Maria Sharapova making her return to the tour. The Canadian labelled her a ‘cheat’ and said she should be ‘banned for life’ and it was fitting they were to meet in Madrid.
It was a feisty affair in which both players exchanged looks and fierce groundstokes, but ultimately it was Bouchard that prevailed 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 53 minutes.
The first set was predictably close with five breaks of serve, but it was Bouchard who got the crucial one at 5-5. The world number 60 served out the set 7-5, and Sharapova was once again forced into trying to come from behind.
The response was like the Sharapova of old. Like all great champions she scratched and clawed and levelled the match with two breaks of serve, the last of which sealing the second 6-2 in her favour. It was to be a tense final set on Manolo Santana.
Both players missed numerous break point opportunities in the decider, but it was Bouchard who struck first at 3-3. Sharapova managed to break straight back, but the visually fatigued Russian dropped serve again the follow game. Serving out was not simple for Bouchard as she had to save two break points, but on the second match point she closed out the match.
It was the second time since her comeback that Sharapova has lost to a player that openly criticised her. First Kristina Mladenovic got the better of her in Stuttgart, and now Bouchard in Madrid.
“I definitely had some extra motivation going into today.” Said Bouchard post match. “
Obviously I had never beaten her before. Also given the circumstances…
“I was actually quite inspired before the match because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately wishing me good luck, players I don’t normally speak to, getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me.
“So I wanted to do it for myself, but also all these people. I really felt support.”
It was one of Bouchard’s best performances since 2014 where she made the Wimbledon final. For Sharapova, it was a disappointing defeat as she had her chances to win this match. But it is another step towards re-capturing her prior form.
“I definitely thought I should have taken care of the first set.” Sharapova said post match.
“I had a letdown, being up a break. I was happy with the way I changed things around in the second, stepped in, was a little bit more aggressive inside the baseline.
“Then the third, kind of felt like it was a similar pattern: set up opportunities, breakpoints, and just did not convert them today.”
Pliskova upset by Sevastova
Karolina Pliskova became the first seeded casualty on day three of the Mutua Madrid Open as she was defeated 6-3, 6-3 by Anastasija Sevastova on Manolo Santana stadium.
The first set started out an even contest with both players not giving up much on serve, but in the sixth game of the set, Pliskova was the first to earn a break opportunity. Two break points came and went though as Sevastova held and went on to break the following game. The Latvian continued to play well, defending the power of her opponent and using her variety to keep the second seed moving. Another break sealed the set 6-3, and the world number three was now in trouble.
Things got from bad to worse for Pliskova as she was broken for a third time in a row by Sevastova early in the second set. Pliskova had opportunities to break back but failed to capitalise as her opponent kept saving break points. A match point came and went on the Pliskova serve leaving the question, can se serve it out? Despite her tendencies to get nervous in the big moments, Sevastova successfully served out the match to upset the second seed and seal one of her biggest career victories.
It was a bad day a the office for Pliskova who follows her sister out of the Mutua Madrid Open. Clay has never been a kind surface to the Czech, and she reflected on the performance post match.
“Every loss is frustrating. But I just have to move forward. I don’t think was that bad for the score. One break in each set. So could be different.
I had six breakpoints. I didn’t do one. She did two, which she needed. Was about those chances what I didn’t do. That could be different. The seventh game of the first set – was it the seventh, sixth maybe, yeah – I could play different. I think I was up two breakpoints in that game. I could be break up first. That could change the situation quite a lot. Didn’t happen.
I didn’t serve well, so was tough for me sometimes to even hold the serve. Just to break, anything could happen in the second set. I could come back. I was 40-15 up in, what was it, 4-2 down, 40-15 for coming back. Didn’t quite manage it. Didn’t play any great shot, didn’t play any terrible shot. Just was not enough.
So, yeah, not really happy still with the way how I was playing. Definitely a little bit better than in the first round.”
Kerber survives Siniakova scare
Angelique Kerber came back from 5-3 down in the final set to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 in a dramatic second round match on Manolo Santana stadium.
The top seed looked in full control fo the match early and raced through the first set 6-2. But Siniakova upped her game in the second and levelled the score with a 6-1 second set.
The third began very close with six straight holds. Siniakova saved three break points in the sixth game of the set and rode that momentum to break in the seventh. It looked like another top player would exit the womens draw when the Czech served for the match, but a mixture of nerves and Kerber’s fighting abilities saw the German break back to level the score at 5-5. Kerber then held serve to keep the pressure on her young opponent. Siniakova served to take it to a final set tiebreak, but the nerves were too much and Kerber went on to secure the win.
“I think it was from my side a really up-and-down match.” Kerber said post match.
“I played really good in the first set, then in the second set the first few games at the beginning of the second set, it was really close.
“Then she started playing better. I mean, she started to moving good, bring a lot of balls back. I did, yeah, too many mistakes in the second set. In the third set, I was just trying to finding my game back.
“But, yeah, she played a good match, I think. I think she played one of the best matches in this year. But, yeah, I was trying at the end coming back. I know that I can come back and winning matches like that when I’m down. So that was actually what was going on in my mind in the third set.”
WTA Round up
Svetlana Kuznetsova almost became another seeded casualty, but the Russian saved match point to beat Alison Riske 2-6, 7-6(9) 6-2. The American also served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert her chances.
Kristina Mladenovic also overcame a tough American opponent to reach the second round. The Frenchwoman won the first set 6-3 against Lauren Davis but was pegged back 6-1 in the second. The third set saw six breaks of serve but it went al the way to a tiebreak which was dominated by Mladenovic 7-1.
The Spanish women had success today as both Carla Suarez Navarro and Lara Arruabarrena made it to the third round. Suarez Navarro overcame Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 whilst Arruabarrena defeated Barbora Strycova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
ATP Round up
Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils played out one of the most bizarre matches you will see this year. The two Frenchman went back and forth for two hours and Simon eventually ran out a 0-6, 6-0 7-6(0) winner. Not only was the score-line strange, Monfils took a medical time out due after rolling his ankle and then failed to serve out the match.
Tomas Berdych kicked off his Madrid campaign with a straight sets win over qualifier Denis Istomin. The Czech needed just over an hour to secure a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Berdych will play Robin Haase in the second round after the Dutchman defeated Dan Evans 7-5, 6-2.
Grigor Dimitrov booked his spot in the second round with a 7-6,6-4 win over Phillip Kohlschreiber. The Bulgarian will face the winner of Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Ivo Karlovic in round two. Nick Kyrgios also made a good start to his tournament by defeating Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(1) 6-4. Pablo Cuevas defeated Thomaz Bellucci 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(6).
It was a mixed day for the Spanish men. David Ferrer came from a break down in the second set to defeat Mikhail Kukushkin 2-6, 7-6, 6-4. Compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was not as fortunate as he lost out to Marius Copil. The win for Copil means he will break the top 100 for the first time and also play Andy Murray on Tuesday. Marcel Granollers went out to Florian Mayer 7-5, 7-5