On a hot Sunday afternoon in Madrid, Spain, Serbia's Ana Ivanovic kicked off her campian with a three-set win over the Czech qualifier Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open for the fifth year straight. The Serb will now face another qualifier tomorrow, Louisa Chirico, who defeated Romania's Monica Niculescu in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.
One Break Decides Opening Set
Ivanovic started out the match well, a hold of serve to start out the match between the pair's first meeting. The Serb then wasted no time, only losing one point to break Siniakova for an early break lead. Using her powerful forehand and serve to great effect, the Serb then consolidated the break for a 3-0 lead. Ivanovic then threatened to break again, but consistent play from Siniakova helped her withstand Ivanovic’s returns and to get her first game on the board. The Serb looked on course for an easy hold, but the Czech player fought back to earn herself a break point. Ivanovic wouldn’t give up her lead that easily, though, as she saved the break point and eventually held serve to get a commanding 4-1 lead.
Both tennis stars then each held serve easily, their returning opposition seeming to make the first error before them. Down 3-5, Siniakova again held easily to force the Serbian to serve for the opening set. And the 28-year-old did just that, holding serve to love with multiple winners to take the opening set at her first attempt, 6-4, in 31 minutes.
Siniakova Fights Back; Sends The Match Into Third Set
The Serb continued where she left off at the beginning of the second set, breaking Siniakova on her first attempt to get another early break lead. And it looked as if she was going to consolidate the break as she earned a game point on her serve, but Siniakova started to play much better, and saved that game point to eventually break Ivanovic on her second attempt. Both players then easily held their own service games, Siniakova surrendering just a point while the Serbian held to love. The Czech qualifier wasn’t giving up just yet on her debut in Madrid, though, and fought through another service game to get a 3-2 lead.
But double faults were getting the better of Ivanovic, and Siniakova raced to a 40-0 lead on the Serbian’s serve. Ivanovic would save two, but not the third break point, as the 19-year-old broke her on her third attempt. Siniakova then consolidated the break after a marathon game, saving a break-back point in the process to earn a 5-2 lead. Siniakova then earned herself a set point off the Ivanovic serve, but she couldn’t close out the set, another marathon game would force her to serve for the set. And she did, another Ivanovic error would hand Siniakova the second set 6-3, in exactly 40 minutes.
Ivanovic Battles Out The Third Set
Siniakova looked to be carrying the momentum from the second set to the beginning of the third, getting herself to three break points on the Ivanovic serve. But the Serb was too strong, saving all of the break points and eventually winning the game with fantastic groundstrokes and smart play. Both players held serve relatively easy for the next couple of games, the returner not able to find any rhythm as the server was controlling most of the play. Serving at 2-3, Ivanovic pushed Siniakova to deuce but couldn’t get herself to a break point, the Czech holding serve with consistent play, waiting for Ivanovic to make the error. It was now Siniakova who was attacking the Ivanovic serve, getting herself to deuce as well. Ivanovic, though, wouldn’t give in, grinding out another service game to get a 4-3 lead.
Despite falling down 0-30, Siniakova responded greatly to hold another service game as well. Ivanovic again got herself up early in the game, this time on her serve, as she held her nerve to get within reach of the second round as she was one game away. While Siniakova was serving to stay in the match, Ivanovic was also trying to break for the match, which resulted in the longest game of the contest. As Ivanovic got herself 40-30 up, she looked as if she was going to take the match, right then and there. Siniakova, though, had other ideas, and earned herself seven straight game points. But the Serb held her nerve, fighting off all game points and finally getting herself to her second match point. Ivanovic made no mistake this time around, and broke Siniakova to win the match, and to reach the second round yet again at the Mutua Madrid Open.