May 26, 2022

2022 Roland Garros Women's Round Three Writeup

The second round has been a roller coaster. So many upsets and comebacks down a set and a break and yet the tournament’s overall quality hasn’t suffered at all, only our brackets have. Anyway, WTA first today. ATP will be up in a couple hours.

Swiatek vs Kovinic :

After watching Tsurenko get 2,0 against Swiatek, Riske was resolved not to let that happen to her. She was able to gameplan accordingly, and flip the script on Swiatek to get 0,2 instead. At this point, only two rounds in, it already seems like these scores are not opponent dependent. Swiatek is capable of producing safe and high level offense for at least two sets. She’s also spending almost no time on court which means even two rounds in she’s much fresher than her opponents. Swiatek has spent just under 2 hours on court, while Kovinic has spent 4. Danka notched her second third set win in a row sneaking past Schmiedlova, and while there is no reward for playing Iga right now, the third set prize money and ranking points will erase a lot of problems for Kovinic who took a long time to get wins again after a leg issue took her off tour for much of last season.

I wouldn’t expect Kovinic to fair as poorly in rallies as Riske since she’s a much better mover and hits a lot cleaner in general, but there’s just no way to score on Swiatek and she’s moving the ball beautifully. I saw a poster in the crowd that said “she may never lose again” and it didn’t even seem that far off. Hype train continues. Swiatek in 2.

Zheng vs Mystery Opponent :

Who will she face? They’re not on court yet so this one will have to be added later.

Pegula vs Zidansek :

Pegula just squeaked by in a lengthy 3 set affair, while Zidansek had the benefit of a forfeit against Mayar Sherif. The forfeit will just about brings things into the competitive zone here, as it ensures Zidansek’s arm will be fresh. With Pegula’s tendency to play behind the baseline and outlast her opponents, Zidansek will have chances to implement her game, but the edge in power that she had against Sherif was where I thought she could make her living, and Pegula hits the ball harder and creates offense very efficiently when she has opportunities. Since Kalinina won a set, expect Zidansek to have opportunities as well. She’s a better mover and hits with similar power even though Kalinina’s overall shot selection is way more aggressive. Pegula in 3.

Begu vs Jeanjean :

Big third set win for Begu sets up a complicated first time meeting between her and Jeanjean. This could be the end of the road for the French wildcard who seems to have only just begun existing this week, but it also could be very competitive. Thus far, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that there’s a major hole in her game. Her forehand is a laser, her movement is good, and her backhand is stable. Pliskova is always a liability on clay, but players with a good chance for an upset tend to lose in three, not win 6-2, 6-2 in fairly dominant fashion. Throw in Begu’s slightly less than stellar lateral movement (she’s tall) and Jeanjean has a chance here as well.

Working against Leolia Jeanjean is her first two opponents. She played a defensive baseliner, and an inconsistent server with a big forehand. These puzzles were solved because she was able to control rallies in the first, and able to expose her opponents movement in the second. Begu is a bit of a combo between the two. Her serve is very effective, her groundstrokes are big, and she does extend rallies with some fine moonballs and slices. Jeanjean will need her best performance thus far, and she may find her power matched in rallies so we’ll see how her consistency fares. Begu in 3.

Badosa vs Kudermetova :

I would generally like Badosa here. The last round against Juvan could have gone either way though, so this is likely going to be a close match as well. Badosa actually seems a lot more effective on hardcourt than clay this season. Kaja Juvan is playing at a high level so I suppose it’s fine, but Badosa stands out in my mind as a baseliner who doesn’t really give up territory or get outhit. Kudermetova generally is better than Juvan, and hits a bit harder. Given Juvan’s run, I’d say this is the same match again for Badosa. Long rallies will be prevalent, neither player should really be able to gt out of them easily, and I would expect to start seeing the slightly stronger athletes pull away in this round. Badosa in 3.

Keys vs Rybakina :

Madison Keys and Garcia had a pretty close contest, but Garcia really makes Keys look consistent which may be the greatest illusion of all time. Rybakina navigated the Volynets problemo fairly well in the first, and the letdown was real for Katie in the second. No shame in losing to Rybakina when she’s on though, and that’s the same message I expect we’ll be directing to Keys. Rybakina looks like the next big thing on tour. Her serve is tremendous, and her power is significant enough to make me think she’ll outhit Keys. The edge here I think is in the mental game. Rybakina can get down on herself, and almost seems to start the matches discouraged at times, but she’s a pretty good problem solver in matches and she isn’t as error prone as Keys. Rybakina in 3.

Kasatkina vs Rogers :

Contreras Gomez had a great run but Kasatkina is just too consistent. Expressionless moving of the ball left and right and high and low and even to places I didn’t know existed is what Darya brings, and for a player whose last great run was ended with an ankle injury and some tears it’s great to see her enjoying tennis again. Similar to the Badosa Kudermetova match, this one is going to challenge who is more prepared to play 3 hours of tennis. Kasatkina moves the ball extremely well but has very little power. Each consecutive shot chips away a little more at her opponent’s court position. Rogers is a big hitter on her forehand wing, and the hallmark of this week’s run has been defending extremely hard. She kept the pace up today and Collins forced a number of shots, so the match was quick. Kasatkina won’t do the same, so Rogers will have to actually win this one. It will take forever, but I think she has a good chance. Rogers in 3.

Giorgi vs Sabalenka :

Two solidly wild offenses are through against two pretty major defensive tests. This should be a shootout, and the only argument against that is deciding how Giorgi fares against a bigger hitter than herself. Their previous match on clay was a 3,0 win for Sabalenka but before I read that I felt like she’d likely lose this match. Giorgi beating Putintseva in straights means her offense was firing and Sabalenka has started slow in pretty much every single match this year. We’ll see early I suspect whether Sabalenka’s power forces Giorgi into errors. Camila certainly doesn’t move back off the baseline regardless of what comes at her. Two players prone to extremely bad sets probably winds up in a third. Giorgi in 3.

Trevisan vs Saville :

I’ll stop picking against Trevisan now. I watched most of her match against Linette and while I expected to see Linette thriving in the long rallies, she was lost at sea. Trevisan doesn’t even wait to be in trouble to start playing moonballs,and her general work ethic point in and point out just made winning a game look exhausting, let alone a set. Linette seemed impatient and Trevisan didn’t blink. Her speed around the court make changing the rally dynamic the perfect plan; it’s just really hard to hit anything past her when she’s giving you no pace. In the past she was hitting a pretty level backhand, but there are a lot more slices not and a good bit more topspin. Saville beat Kvitova easily, and should be prepared to go the distance here. Trevisan is keeping the ball in difficult spots and outlasting her opponents, but that was Saville’s game on tour for many seasons. It feels like Linette had an unexpected letdown, and I expect Saville to have one here also but only for a short stretch. Trying to supply the offense is difficult to do for two sets in a row, so this is another I expect to end in three. Saville in 3.

Kerber vs Sasnovich :

Sasnovich and Kerber just played in Strasbourg, with Kerber winning a third. Sasnovich is good enough that she can steal a set against just about anyone, but closing out has been difficult since she’s not the most physically dominant player. The only way I see this going differently is if Kerber has looming fatigue from her title run last week, so it’s hard to be concrete about a result. Kerber’s ability to extend rallies always pays dividends in Paris, and she should take this in 3.

Bencic vs Fernandez :

Bencic with the sneak attack. Andreescu and Bencic was slated to be a high-octane contest but Bencic took Bianca’s time away from the very start. This was helped by Andreescu’s willingness to go big on shots when she didn’t need to. The “I’ll find my timing on these” shots were impressive, but didn’t land much in the second set at all, leading to a loss where Bencic seemed almost willing to crack under the pressure. When your opponent is visibly upset after giving back a single break (despite having a two break lead), it’s time to settle in and grind things out. Andreescu was a bit stubborn though, so Bencic is through. This is another high profile match but one where Bencic will have to manage her errors. Fernandez is not great at clay yet, but she defends voraciously and Bencic is prone to frustration. Besting Siniakova is a start, but Bencic is playing at a much higher level so I think she edges this one out. Bencic in 2 close sets.

Anisimova vs Muchova :

It’s difficult to avoid cheering for Muchova. She looks so unimposing on the court most of the time then she’ll change the angle completely at a huge moment and hit a clean winner. It’ll seem like she’s out of position and she’ll take an extra second and put the ball in just the perfect spot. She’s incredibly skilled and has a good mind for the game, and that was actually enough against Sakkari. Sakkari keeps on losing the same way to different players, and it’s likely her responsibility to change it but a minor infusion of some new coaching philosophy would help. Anisimova Muchova is a dangerous spot for the American, because Muchova won’t be intimidated nor will she struggle too much to deal with the power. Where I think Muchova will have issues is with Anisimova’s aggressive returning. Muchova’s serve can become a bit pedestrian at times, and Sakkari doesn’t really go for much which makes it safe. If her first serve percentage drops, Anisimova’s first ball is going to leave her on the back foot and Amanda has been way more consistent this season about executing on offense. There’s not a great reason to fade either of these two, but one has played more tennis this year and has proven her level. Anisimova in 3.

Gracheva vs Mertens :

Why play when you can advance? Elise Mertens is my favorite. If I were to write letters that did not receive a response, I would want that lack of response to be from her. If she did respond, hmm Mertens pls concentrate on your tennis you’ve Grand Slams to win. After seasons of listing her as the winner in every bracket comp, I have somewhat subdued my expectations of the WTA’s most enticing gatekeeper. Mertens wins all the matches she’s supposed to win, and none of the ones she isn’t. This is one of the ones she’s supposed to. Gracheva is solid, but as a baseliner Mertens is a bad matchup generally since she’s just as stable but with a wider variety of offense at her disposal. Being fresh with your opponent coming off a 3-setter doesn’t hurt either. Mertens in 2.

Gauff vs Kanepi :

Gauff has shrugged off some tough losses early in this clay season to put together a good run. This is the spot where we expect her to start making inroads against the old guard, but I’m not sure it’ll happen. She beat Van Uytvanck, but the second set could have gone either way. At the same time, Kanepi was beating Haddad Maia in straight sets, which is really tough to do since Beatriz is probably up there for most claycourt wins this season.

Despite Kanepi seeming a bit more stable here, their previous meeting on clay ended in two tiebreakers so this should be close. Gauff’s ability is there, it’s just a matter of execution. Kanepi hits a heavy ball, but her own movement and defending have a peak since she’s such a tall athlete. She should win here, but it’ll require a tiny bit of help from Gauff. Kanepi in 3.

Azarenka vs Teichmann :

It feels like these two have played a bunch but this is their first meeting on clay. Azarenka is that big name who has all the shots. In the right environment I think she’s still able to win this match, so court scheduling will be important. Teichmann is sharper though, and winning her matches in a much easier fashion. There are no real holes in Azarenka’s game, but Teichmann’s legs will be a bit fresher in the latter stages of this match and she should win. Teichmann in 3.

Stephens vs Parry :

Even in the first set, it was pretty clear that Stephens was going to be very difficult to hit it through. Her game is really solid this week, and the slower conditions are making her a tough out. Additionally, not really getting to see her A game on tour very often means her opponents are a bit off-balance when she takes one down the line with her backhand or plays a dropshot. This next match against Parry is the type she loses 100% of the time at a 250, but this being a major and her having just bested Cirstea, she starts as a favorite.

Diane Parry proved me and a lot of detractors wrong by beating Osorio Serrano, and I really think that’s a better win than Krejcikova because Camila takes 0 points off and has been one of the biggest producers at the tier just above where Parry regularly competes. With the hometown crowd and a somewhat passive opponent, Parry will be right in this. The question will be who is more durable, and Stephens seems primed to continue her run. Stephens in 3.