Katerina Siniakova prevailed in an exhilarating contest as she ousted two-time Major champion and former world number one Victoria Azarenka for the statement victory, sending out a message across the field with the 7-5, 7-5 win after an hour and 47-minutes of play. This was one of the few must-watch matches of the first-rounds at the 2018 French Open and it certainly deserved the hype it received, with the Czech recovering from a break thrice in the second set to triumph.
Hitting 25 winners to just 23 errors, Siniakova was able to have a good day at the office on the statistical board while Azarenka’s huge bulk of 38 unforced errors certainly gifted the Czech with several free points during the crucial moments. Siniakova now has the golden opportunity to mount a deep run here in Paris.
Siniakova steals the tight opening set
The match started on a positive note for both players as both Siniakova and Azarenka shaped this contest to be a thrilling one — with neither letting loose and leaving the fans biting their nails after each and every point. The players were putting up some high-quality displays and the clash between Azarenka’s fantastic baseline game and Siniakova’s hidden power on her groundstrokes was magnificent.
Siniakova had the ability to bash the ball as hard as she could, but Azarenka possessed a world-class ability which brought her to the number one position in the past — her incredible ability to redirect the pace and stay solid while on the defence. However, she was thrice taken to deuce on her serve while the Czech faced absolutely no problems on her serve, losing just 10 points off them throughout the set.
However, Azarenka’s only poor game of the first set could not have come at a more crucial time as she produced three unforced errors, gifting Siniakova the maiden break point of the match. The world number 54 dutifully converted her chances, being first-time lucky as the Czech ultimately sealed the opening set 7-5 after just 48 minutes of play.
Siniakova overcomes mid-match wobble to triumph
A long exchange of breaks was followed by a lengthy exchange of service holds. Both players were putting up a good show for the fans out on Court 18, needing 22 minutes to reach 2-2 in the second set. Siniakova was the aggressor though she played with controlled aggression, while Azarenka went for brokes — and her risky style of play had its peaks and lows during the match.
The Belarusian two-time Grand Slam champion made the breakthrough on three different occasions in the set, which is a huge improvement considering she did not earn any break point chances in the opening set. However, a disappointment would be her inability to consolidate the breaks and extend her lead.
A series of breaks then saw the scores deadlocked at 4-4 before Siniakova came up with several huge serves and big forehands, earning her first hold in ages. Serving to stay in the match, Azarenka had a huge escape after retrieving from a 0-30 deficit, forcing errors out of her opponent to stay alive in this blockbuster encounter.
Siniakova looked untouchable on serve with the former world number one committing a slew of unforced errors. Frustration overwhelmed her and Azarenka found herself down 0-40 at 5-6, with a stunning volley error gifting the Czech triple match point opportunities. A mishit forehand eventually allowed Siniakova to triumph after 107 minutes of play, setting up a meeting with Kateryna Kozlova in the second round.