Two-time defending quarterfinalist Anastasija Sevastova continues her New York magic in Flushing Meadows at the 2018 US Open after her spectacular performances in the last Major of the year continues to wow the crowd, this time with a terrific comeback victory over the former top-10 player and the giant-killing Ekaterina Makarova in the third round. Sealing her place in the second week of the tournament for the third consecutive year, the Latvian had to win 12 of the last 14 games in the match to triumph after two hours and one minute of play.
Sevastova overcame a slow start and played a relatively clean and wise match in terms of her tactics — firing 26 winners while committing just 23 unforced errors. After claiming the first set 6-4, Makarova let her frustration overwhelm her and sustained a right thigh injury towards the closing stages, winning just three more games in the match as she contributed 43 errors for her opponent, with many of them coming on the important points.
The Latvian 19th seed will now face either seventh seed Elina Svitolina or the powerful hitter Wang Qiang in the fourth round, and she looks to make some noise in New York once more.
Makarova snatches the tight first set
Makarova had the worst possible start — losing all four of her first serve points to get broken immediately to start the match with. It was a complete contrast as compared to her terrific second-round win over Julia Goerges when she won 76 percent of her first serves. However, Sevastova also had a similar cold start, throwing in an unfortunate double-fault to hand Makarova break points. The Russian ultimately converted and it was all level after all the early struggles on their serves.
The former top-10 player relied on her monstrous forehands and put in a confident service hold before Sevastova, with her crafty playing style, held to love. The 19th seed found herself in some deep trouble in the sixth game, conceding four break point opportunities. Makarova dug deep and charged towards the net on many occasions but Sevastova was often able to lob her 1.80 m tall opponent, and both players produced some high-quality net play in the match.
Some terrific defence and an ace helped Sevastova to stay alive in her service game before yet another stunning forehand winner looked to have frustrated Makarova, who was too passive on the crucial points. Nonetheless, an outstanding backhand winner by the unseeded giant-killer finally allowed her to draw the first blood and make the breakthrough after what seemed like an eternity.
Inability to deal with nerves and pressure has always been one of Makarova’s greatest obstacles in her career. Leading 4-2 40-15, she committed a backhand unforced error and sent in a double-fault, and from there on, her game completely collapsed as she was leaky at the net and Sevastova’s confidence grew as the Latvian managed to break straight back.
An exchange of holds saw Sevastova having to serve to stay in the set, but it was then when Makarova stepped up her play and dominated the net, despite struggling there early on. An unbelievable volley winner earned her a set point, which she dutifully converted to take the first set 6-4 after 44 minutes of play.
Sevastova fights back in impressive fashion
Makarova found herself in some trouble on her serve to start the second set with — but rebounded to save a break point with yet another excellent volley winner at the net which paved the way for the Russian to grab the nervy hold. Sevastova was playing with less pressure and swung freely, and the lack of intensity in Makarova’s game proved costly.
Errors oozed out from every part of Makarova’s game and Sevastova took full advantage of her chances to earn the early lead. The Russian had the golden opportunity to produce an immediate reply but was too erratic on the important points; missing out on four break points as the Latvian suffered a huge scare before consolidating her break in the toughest way possible.
From there, it was one-way traffic for Sevastova, the 19th seed, as she strolled to rattle off 12 of the last 15 points in the match to claim the second set with a commanding 6-1 scoreline, clinching six consecutive games to level the scores in a flash.
Sevastova rushes past hampered Makarova
Five consecutive service holds started the third and deciding set with Makarova able to regain her composure and stay toe-to-toe with her higher-ranked opponent. Just before she served at 2-3, she called for a medical time-out with the trainer taking a look at her right thigh.
From there, it was simply a one-man show with Sevastova converting her chances and remaining solid while it was Makarova who provided her opponent with those free unforced errors, coming up with 16 of them in the final set. Ultimately, the consistency of the Latvian was just too good as she sealed a safe passage into the second week with yet another unbelievable dropshot winner which Makarova could not reach.