US Open Day 3 Women’s Recap : Pliskova out, Kvitova into the third round

Petra Kvitova in action at the US Open

Day three saw the first major upsets at the 2020 US Open, with a number of big names tumbling out of the women’s draw in the second round, rather mirroring the rash of early exits at the Western and Southern Open last week. That has left the draw wide open heading into the third round and suggests there could be some thrilling tennis to come. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:

US Open Day Three Women’s Recap

Honourable Mentions

Petra Kvitova was pushed hard in the first set of her match against Kateryna Kozlova, but she managed to win it in a tiebreak having saved a set point. Thereafter Kozlova’s challenge faded, with Kvitova recording a 7-6 6-2 win. But the Czech will be concerned by her slow start. In the first set, she struggled to find her rhythm, hitting seven double faults in six service games. She did, however, improve markedly in the second set, losing only one point behind her serve and hitting 15 winners.

Caroline Garcia pulled off arguably the shock of the tournament so far as she defeated top seed Karolina Pliskova, 6-1 7-6, reaching the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2019 Australian Open in the process. Although Pliskova was far from her best, Garcia was electric, striking 30 winners against just 17 unforced errors. Her victory will surely be a major confidence boost ahead of her third-round clash with the in-form Jennifer Brady.

Marta Kostyuk reached the third round at the US Open for the first time by beating 31st seed and former-semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova in straight-sets. The 18-year-old hit seven aces and a remarkable 31 winners in her 6-3 7-6 win over the ultimately helpless Sevastova. Kostyuk was particularly effective in the forecourt, winning 15 of the 19 points she played at the net. But she faces a stern third-round test in the shape of 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka.

Early Exits

Kristina Mladenovic had by far the most disappointing loss of the day as she squandered a 6-1 5-1 lead against Varvara Gracheva, wasting four match points. The Russian had struggled in the early stages, hitting just four winners against 18 unforced errors, but once she found her range she took complete control of the match. By the third set, which Mladenovic lost to love, the Frenchwoman had completely lost her way, hitting 17 unforced errors.

After the match, Mladenovic criticised the US Open organisers, claiming that she had felt ‘imprisoned’ by the restrictions imposed on her after Benoit Paire, who she had been in contact with inside the bubble, tested positive for the coronavirus. However, she later walked back on those comments to a degree, describing the loss as the most painful of her career and stating that she can ‘only blame [herself] for not taking [her] chances’.

Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, surprised many with a woeful performance in a 5-7 1-6 defeat at the hands of Shelby Rogers. The Kazakh went down an early break in the first set, but managed to battle back to parity at 5-5. However, it proved to be a false dawn. Rogers broke again, before pulling away in the second set. Rybakina was ultimately unable to overcome a poor serving performance as she made only 47% of her first serves. Rogers, meanwhile, excelled under pressure, saving three of the four break points her opponent created.

Dayana Yastremska played one of her worst matches of the season as she lost to Madison Brengle 2-6 3-6 in the second round. In the straight-sets loss, Yastremska hit a scarcely believable 43 unforced errors, and struggled on serve, winning just two of her service games and hitting five double faults. Indeed, her performance was so poor that Brengle had to do relatively little, hitting just eight winners as her opponent self-destructed to hand her a place in the third round at the US Open.

Match of the Day

Day three at the US Open produced some phenomenal performances, but the match of the day was surely the unbelievable three-set contest between the 24th seed Magda Linette and Danka Kovinic. Linette came into the match the favourite and she made the perfect start, storming to the first set for the loss of a single game without facing any break points. That was partly the result of an excellent serving display, with Linette winning  81% of the points behind her first serve.

When she broke early in the second, Linette looked on course to cruise into the third round. But the Pole faltered at the vital moment. With Linette serving for the match, Kovinic broke back and then forced a tiebreak, which she won comfortably, 7-2. That sent the match into a decider. Both players were performing at something close to their best and neither was willing to give an inch. The result was another tiebreak.

Kovinic got the first minibreak, taking a 4-2 lead into the change of ends. But that was to be as good it got for the Montenegrin. She did not win another point as Linette stormed back to take the tiebreak, and with it the match, 7-4. Her reward is a place in the third round, where she will face the in-form Anett Kontaveit, who has looked sharp so far in New York. However, how much energy Linette will have left for that battle is far from certain.

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