Familiar foes met on Court 3 as Barbora Strycova extended her lead in her head-to-head record against Ekaterina Makarova with an excellent straight-sets victory in their second-round encounter at the 2018 French Open after just an hour and 16-minutes of play, triumphing with a commanding 6-4, 6-2 scoreline.
Strycova, coming into Paris on a disappointing eight-match losing streak, earns this confidence-boosting win after winning an incredible 77 percent of her first service points and now sets up a meeting with fellow countrywoman Katerina Siniakova in the third round for a place in the second week.
Strycova steals the tight opening set
It was an impressive start from both players as they came up with some high-quality tennis to entertain the fans out on Court 3. Makarova’s lefty advantage on her serve was evident but Strycova clawed her way back in the opening game, earning break point opportunities even though the Russian fought one off with an incredible drop shot winner. Nonetheless, a backhand error from Makarova gifted the Czech with the early advantage, handing her the opening break.
However, it was a surprise reply produced by Makarova as the former top-10 player was able to break straight back and level the scores at 1-1. It proved to be a series of consecutive breaks as the Russian was highly inconsistent and a slew of unforced errors came off her racquet. Consecutive service holds followed but it was surprisingly Makarova who managed to overcome her earlier disappointment to break back in the eighth game.
The world number 36 attempted to charge towards the net more often than ever but was often exposed by the fast-moving and tricky Strycova after she gave her opponent loopholes to exploit on. The 26th seed fought back and earned the crucial break for a 5-4 lead alongside the chance to serve out the set. Prevailing in several lengthy baseline rallies, Strycova dutifully converted her chances and took the opening set 6-4 after 43 minutes of play.
Strycova claims the excellent victory
It was yet another tricky start to the second set for Makarova as the Russian wasted three game point opportunities before gifting Strycova with a golden opportunity to break. Coming up with 32 unforced errors throughout the encounter, it was definitely not the performance Makarova would have wanted to put up. Nonetheless, it was still a tough fight put up as she produced the confidence-boosting hold in the opening game.
Getting fired up point-by-point, Strycova then went on a killer run and left no mercy after rattling off five consecutive games on the trot and opened up a formidable 5-1 lead in the second set. It seemed like the victory was inevitable as the Czech was firing on all cylinders — and everything in her game was working well.
Makarova still aimed to put up a tough fight after holding her serve to remain in contention, but it was too late to produce the magical comeback as Strycova held her nerves and calmly served out the match after just 76 minutes of play. This performance from Strycova was a sight to behold, and a deep run could ensue if she keeps up this high level of play.