Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Domi beats Aga in classic

The second and final Monday of Wimbledon 2016 (weather permitting) was the round of sixteen for Gentlemen and Ladies Singles.  
There was plenty of good tennis but to be fair one match stood out way beyond all others, and I rate it the best I've seen this Wimbledon.

Third seed Aga Radwanska lost to 19th seed Dominika Cibulkova at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon, an event eventually won by Cibulkova.
The confidence of the win has propelled the Slovakian to levels of play not previously seen by her this year and there was much promise surrounding the fourth round battle.

Domi is not tall - in fact she is shorter than that.  So it takes substantial effort to maintain an effective service rhythm, and at the same time inject enough pace to avoid being punished by someone with returning skills such as Aga.

Well in Set One, Cibulkova faced no break points, she broke the Radwanska serve early, and that was statistically sufficient for a 6-3 win.  Beyond the score, the tennis was thrilling.  Radwanska is always a pleasure to watch - it is not about power but clever shot making, reading the game two and three shots ahead, and minimising errors.  Cibulkova goes for it, and after that she goes for it but even harder.  Fleet of foot and racquet well prepared for her crisp hitting off both wings, Domi released 14 clean winners in an opening set where her opponent did little wrong yet found herself in trouble.

The second set began in similar fashion with risk taking by Cibulkova reaping the rewards of another service break.  Aga had begun to better handle the Domi serve by this stage, and it bore fruit in the sixth game with a service break to level at 3-3.  The next four games also resulted in breaks of serve, including the one with Cibulkova serving for the match at 5-4.  Aga saved a match point, and proceeded to eventually break Domi for the fourth successive time to claim the second set 7-5.

The final set was as riveting as it gets.  Cibulkova serving second, and consistently under pressure to level the game score with Radwanska, refused to do anything but attack, and she pulled off some incredible saving shots in the process.   The pressure turned to Radwanska, and she saved a truck load of break points as the match continued deep into the decider.
Game 11 was a highlight in a match stacked with them
Aga was serving and led 40-15 before Domi let loose with seven winners, five from a lethal forehand.  Aga managed to save five break points in the game and led 6-5.  Still Domi pressed, not allowing the disappointment of wasted opportunities dictate the direction of the match.
At 8-7 Cibulkova served for the match for a third time and it was third time lucky - although luck was not the major component here.  An amazing 33 winners for the set and the quarter final spot was hers 6-3 5-7 9-7
Between the two players 93 winners were hit for the match with only 59 unforced errors.  Considering the attacking nature of the contest these are remarkable stats.

Sadly for Kei Nishikori, his ribs were too sore to continue beyond the 1-6 1-5 scoreline that he was facing in his match against Marin Cilic.  It was the first time the two had played each other in a Grand Slam tournament since the 2014 US Open final where Cilic triumphed.  Nishikori had won twice in lesser events in 2015.
To reach the 2014 US Open final, Cilic thrashed Roger Federer in a semi final, and interestingly it is Federer that the Croatian will play in the upcoming quarter final.  Roger had no trouble with Steve Johnson, ridding London of the American on that nation's Independence Day in straight sets.  Cilic will be the first seeded player (9) with whom Federer has had to deal thus far.

Richard Gasquet's back lasted even less time than the Japanese ribs, forcing the French 7th seed to retire from his clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when trailing 2-4 in the first set.  Tsonga will need to be at his very best to progress further because his quarter final opponent is Andy Murray.  The second seed delivered a forceful reminder of the gap between the top few and the chasing pack with his dismantling of Aussie Nick Kyrgios in three swift sets.

The Australian singles presence disappeared completely after Bernard Tomic failed to capitalise on a two sets to one advantage over Lucas Pouille, losing a heartbreaking fifth set 10-8.  Pouille will do battle with a Czech player in his quarter final, but as yet we don't know which one.  Darkness set in with Tomas Berdych and Jiri Vesely tied at two sets apiece in their fourth round match.

Sam Querrey certainly did not suffer a let down after his huge win over Djokovic - he was too competent for Mahut and in three sets rocketed into a quarter final to play Milos Raonic.  The Canadian fought back after dropping the opening two sets to dispose of David Goffin.

The Williams sisters are both in the quarter finals - Serena knocked out Sveta Kuznetsova, emphasising her superiority with a 6-0 second set, and Venus defeated the in form Carla Suarez Navarro.  Straight sets but an entertaining tight match.  Not since 2010 has Venus come this far at Wimbledon.
Serena will play another Russian in the quarter final, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose victory over Coco Vandeweghe came surprisingly easier than expected.  Venus will need to overcome Yaroslava Shvedova, who cleaned out the final Czech presence in the Ladies Singles by impressively defeating Lucie Safarova.

Angie Kerber and Simona Halep will contest what should be a terrific quarter final - both are displaying some fine tennis, Kerber most recently through her dynamic 6-3 6-1 dismissal of Misaki Doi and Halep with her three set victory over Madison Keys, in respective fourth round clashes.

The all Russian round of sixteen battle initially appeared to be heading in the Ekaterina Makarova direction.  Indeed she held her advantage to take the first set 7-5.  Suddenly Elena Vesnina clicked into gear and ripped the second set wide open.  6-1 and a third was required.  The doubles partners traded game after game until Vesnina finally decided to end proceedings and won 5-7 6-1 9-7.  She will play Cibulkova in a quarter final - Domi also won her match 9-7 in the third but the standard was substantially higher as described earlier.

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