The US Open 2022 is at its half way mark with 4th round matches starting today.
The good news for Petra fans is she is still in the tournament, after an epic win over Garbiñe Muguruza on Armstrong on Saturday. However, the big news of the week has been the Serena Williams show with the great champion bowing out with a thrilling run to the third round.
Serena made a surprise return to tennis at Wimbledon this year, but lost a long first round match to Harmony Tan. Her return to the court in the tournaments before the US Open were not promising. She lost to Belinda Bencic in Toronto and was well beated by Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati, losing the second set 6-0. There were fears this could be a sad limp exit, but this was like watching Serena of old. She took out Danka Kovinic in the first round and looked pretty good, Her win over the number 2 seed Anett Kontaveit was terrific. However to be fair, Kontaveit had been on a lean run of form and while she battled well, Serena outplayed her in the final set. With Serena-fever running high, it all sadly came to end in an absolutely terrific third round match against Ajla Tomljanovic who played as well as I have ever seen her. Serena was really good and the way she fought til the end, staving off 5 match points in the final game was so stirring.
It was a magical Serena celebration all week and even for me, someone who has never been a particular fan, I found myself a bit emotional. She is a remarkable athlete and a trail blazer for the women’s game. Serena is someone even non-tennis fans know. I know when I got to see her up close playing live 10 years ago at the London Olympics, it was a really memorable moment. It was in a small outside court and I was a couple of rows from the front, so I could look into her eyes. Her focus and concentration were notable and it was the most memorable moment of the day.
A true legend of the game.
But onto Petra news and her following up the Cincinnati final with a run to the 4th round. Petra did benefit from a walkover in R2 but the R3 clash with Muguruza was a terrific roller coaster battle. Petra took an early 4-2 lead but then her serve fell apart and her double faults gifted the set to Muguruza. The Spaniard has had a wretched season since taking the WTA finals title last November with only 9 wins in 2022. However, she had beaten Clara Tauson and young Czech Linda Fruhvirtova so far and in this match, her serve was very good. She also kept the rally balls deep, not allowing Petra to step in for winners. However, her main tactic was to be solid and wait for Petra to miss. The foundation of Petra’s good summer form is serving well and being very aggressive on return of serve. In this match she did hit 14 aces but also 12 double faults. She was not able to punish Muguruza’s second serve much at all for some reason.
Kvitova battled back, taking the second set but inconsistent play saw her fall to 5-2 in the final set. It was just one break of serve though, and she broke back when Muguruza served for the match at 5-3. However, Muguruza had 2 match points when the double faults returned to Petra’s game when serving for 6-6. She saved one with an ace and drew an error for the other, eventually hanging on.
What was notable about Kvitova’s performance was how smart she played. Muguruza was noticeably nervous, with her forehand especially erratic as her nerves affected her arm. 8 months of pretty awful form meant she got super tense while Petra had the confidence of a title and a big final. Plus also a 5-1 head to head.
It went to a final set tie break which was incredibly tense and nervy, with both players struggling at times. Petra had 2 match points herself at 9-7 but was unable to convert. The match was won with a fantastic point at 10-10 that ended with Petra hitting a glorious down the line winner. Time for a massive, iconic ‘POJD!!’ (see image at the top of the page)
For us fans, it was an agonising match, with Petra not able to get into Garbine’s serve but playing the better tennis. The usual story though, costly errors at key moments looked like this was going to be a disappointing loss. That she gutted out the win was wonderful.
A 4th round match against Jessica Pegula will probably end her run as Pegula is the steadiest and most consistent player in the top 10 but Petra has beaten her in their previous meetings. She has a chance but regardless, a positive tournament and a return to the top 20 is likely.
It was less good news for Barbora Krejcikova who lost in round 2 to Alex Krunic who had a big win at the USO over Petra Kvitova a few years back. Krejcikova was the better player for the first set and a bit but was unable to respond when Krunic raised her game. The way Barbora’s game fell apart was worrying.
Similarly, Katerina Siniaková had a heart-breaking loss to the wily Alize Cornet in R2 and these disappointing losses almost carried through to the doubles where they scraped through an untidy first round match. Krejcikova and Siniaková have won 2 grand slam titles in 2022 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and will be extremely keen to complete their set of grand slam titles with the US Open crown, however there are some good teams out there. As of right now, they are in the quarter finals so fingers crossed!