The women took center stage today in Spain at the Madrid Open and they did not disappoint. Nineteen time Grand Slam champion and world #1, Serena Williams, who remains undefeated in 2015, took on the two-time Australian Open champion and former world #1 Victoria Azarenka in an atypical fourth round match.
Azarenka, a two-time runner-up at the Madrid Open and unseeded this year, lost an enthralling, tight three set match despite matching Williams’ point total, and in fact edging it by one in the final stats.
Azarenka got off to a hot start against Williams in the first set tie breaker stretching her lead to 5-1 but would fail to win another point losing the tie-breaker 7-5. Should Azarenka been able to close out the tie-breaker, she could have won the match in straights since she won the second set 6-3.
The serve would become the thorn in the side of Azarenka; serving for the match in the third set at 6-5, 40-0, she would double fault three consecutive times and give back the break. The penultimate set lasted 69 minutes with Serena cruising in the tie-breaker to close out this incredibly dramatic and entertaining match 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in just under two and three-quarter hours.
Serena’s quarterfinal opponent will be Carla Suarez Navarro, currently ranked #12 in the world. Serena leads 5-0 in their head to head with their last meeting on clay in the round of sixteen in Madrid in 2014.
Roger Federer, the #1 seed and three-time champion at the Madrid Open had his hands full with the talented and explosive young Australian, Nick Krygios. The Swiss legend never underestimated Krygios who stunned Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year and was a finalist last week on the clay in Estoril.
Federer, the 17 time Grand Slam champion battled back from a break down in the first set to draw even at 5-5 after Krygios failed to serve out the set at 5-4. They would battle on to a tie-breaker which Federer won seven points to two.
Despite breaking Krygios at the start of the second set, Federer would lose the tie-breaker by the smallest or margins-seven points to five. The third and deciding set would also go the distance but few people, least of all the players, could have predicted the final outcome. It would take Krygios 26 points and close to an hour to secure victory and advance to the third round.
Federer did not serve badly; when he got the first serve in, he won 78% of the points and hit 16 aces. Though he converted 2 of 4 break points, it was clearly not sufficient. Federer’s inability to return Krygios’ serve and thus impose himself from the baseline and mid-court sealed his fate.
Krygios will face a resurgent John Isner, the #16 seed, for the first time in the following round. The question for tomorrow is whether Krygios will be able to bounce back both physically and mentally after such a dramatic and combative match.