On Oscar night in Hollywood and the third round at Indian Wells, it really was a case of Everything Everywhere All At Once! My nightmare came true and Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova‘s matches happened at exactly the same time. For me, this was actually a test of who is my real favourite as it was Petra‘s match I ended up watching more closely as I double screened on my tv and iPad. It was partly because what a crazy, crazy crazy match the Kvitova Ostapenko match was.
Jelena Ostapenko is always entertainingly wild and probably has bigger highs and lows than Petra. Probably! Her facial expressions, sulky petulance, wacky outfits and all or nothing game make her a real Marmite player – love her or hate her. (Note: I love Marmite AND Ostapenko!)
The first set began very poorly for Petra. She wasn’t able to get a serve in, Ostapenko was on the ball and before you know it, it was a bagel. 6-0 Ostapenko and one of Petra‘s worst sets for a long time. Despair!
However, this was soon about to change as Petra took off the headband, gritted her teeth and went on a tear herself. She bagelled Ostapenko to take the second set and the magical score of 0-6, 6-0!
However, it didn’t end there for Petra as she went on to take a 4-0 lead in the final set, playing, as well as I’ve seen her in a long time. She was going for shots, playing aggressively, but not making too many unforced errors that are so symptomatic of her game. It was going beautifully. Ostapenko was struggling. She’s apparently been suffering from an ear infection and was coughing quite a lot throughout the match. She called the trainer and the doctor at three love but it didn’t stop Petra from going 4-0 up.
Delirious, incredulous happiness. TEN games in a row!
But nothing good lasts forever, and it all changed suddenly as Ostapenko fought back and Petra‘s confidence ebbed. Before long it was 4-4. Agonising!
We then had a rare, medical time out from Petra. Petra is not somebody who plays unsporting mind games and you could see her fingernail was bleeding. I believe it was some sort of blister. However, that break seemed to do the trick for her and halted Ostapenko’s charge. She came out firing and she immediately broke Ostapenko and cooly served it out to take the match 0-6, 6-0, 6-4.
For me that fight back from her was brilliant. It would’ve been quite easy for Petra to fold and just chalk it down to it not being her day. However, she really gritted her teeth and played irresistible, attacking tennis.
Meanwhile, at exactly the same time, Barbora Krejcikova was playing against the Chinese player Wang. I had this on at the same time, but I was not really paying attention, just keeping an eye on the score.
The first set was 6-2 to Krejcikova and looked to be going reasonably straightforwardly while I was suffering with the ups and downs of Kvitova-Ostapenko match. However, Barbora blew four match points late in set 2, and when the set went to the tiebreak, she played a pretty poor one. Oh no more drama!
At this point it was about 3:30 in the morning my time, but fortunately Barbara remembered how to play her brand of controlled tennis and quite easily won the final set.
Today(Tuesday 14th March) is fourth round and both Petra and Barbara are playing matches. I’ve just finished watching Krejcikova lose a really tight match to Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 in the final set. A great battle but Sabalenka’s serve was the difference. Such a liability for her a year ago, now a huge weapon. Once Barbora gave up a rather tame service game early in set 3, she was not able to make inroads and Sabalenka held to take the match. I do have a fondness for Sabalenka. She does get nervous, but she showed real steel after double faulting at 5-4 to give Krejcikova a break point opportunity. She promptly served an ace and kept strong to take the win. Krejcikova has shown in the last few weeks that she is playing top 10, probably top 5 tennis right now. She will have some regret that having fought back into the match and into Sabalenka’s head, she took her toot off the pedal at the start of the final set, and coughed up a break she was unable to retrieve.
Meanwhile, later on Petra is playing against Jessica Pegula. The world number three will also be out for revenge, as Petra beat her in one of the first matches of the season at the United cup. After that emotional, back from the dead win for Petra, I kind of expect a bit of a hangover for her, and I will be very surprised if she manages to get the win – Pegula has to be a strong favourite.
Probably the best chance of a title for one of my favourites is with Krejcikova and Siniakova in the doubles here at Indian Wells. It’s been a long time since the Czech duo won a WTA tournament, despite all those Grand Slam titles. Yesterday they squeezed through in round two against Taylor Townsend and Leylah Fernandez, after leading 5-0 in the first set, but then being pulled back into a battle. Honestly, they didn’t play that great, especially the normally super energetic Katerina Siniakova. Siniakova just didn’t have that much about her yesterday and looked a bit flat and not her usual dominant self at the net. She missed quite a few shots. For that matter Krejcikova was missing from the back of the court too! The fact they were able to put it together and win the match tiebreak to make it through to round three, is the mark of their quality.
This tournament, both singles and doubles, is an absolutely packed draw. The Czechs have a difficult path ahead, against a lot of top doubles teams. The format of tour level doubles, where there is no ads and a tiebreak in the third set has not favoured them recently. They both commented on this after the Australian Open win – that the scoring system definitely disadvantages them. In full doubles only now played in the Grand Slams, they are very dominant. But at WTA tour level, there’s a certain element a chance with no ads. Get to 40-40, next point wins. One small error can make a massive difference.
Anyway, with her loss to Sabalenka today, Barbora Krejcikova can focus on taking the title so I will be cheering for the Czechs – as always.