Ekaterina Makarova got past a tricky opponent in Barbora Strycova as she overturned a negative head-to-head record against the Czech, prevailing in this clash despite being lower-ranked. This first round encounter at the Western and Southern Open saw the Russian produced a clinical performance to outgun the erratic Strycova, sending the world number 39 into the second round for a meeting with world number three Angelique Kerber.
Makarova overcomes wobble and nerves to clinch the first set 6-4
Strycova had the perfect start to the match as she looked solid on her serve, holding her service game to love. However, Makarova followed suit as she consistently forced the Czech to return her lefty serve at an awkward position, allowing her to get on the scoreboard.
After an exchange of service holds, it was the Russian who made the first breakthrough of the match as Strycova was inconsistent with her forehands and started to commit a couple of unforced errors, gifting Makarova the first break of serve in the match.
The lower-ranked player then powered herself to a double-break lead as Strycova started to lose the plot with her forehand being increasingly erratic, gifting her opponent the perfect opportunity to serve out the set.
Facing some nerves while closing out the set, coupled with Strycova upping her level of play, Makarova lost eight of the next nine points as the Czech lessened the deficit to just one game. The Russian was finally fifth time lucky as she prevailed in a nervy service game, successfully holding her serve to eventually close out the first set 6-4 after 39 minutes of play.
Makarova strolls to the win, clinches the victory in straight sets
It was a marathon game which started the second set as a 16-point game on Strycova’s serve ended in the favor of Makarova with a couple of unforced errors deciding the outcome. It was the Czech, who was still unable to find her range, who played some loose points as she allowed her opponent to take the break in the first game, gifting her with the lead of a set and a break. Makarova then consolidated for a 2-0 lead and she looked to clinch the victory with the help of the momentum.
Strycova then got on the scoreboard with a solid hold of service, but Makarova was just too good on her serve as the Czech was unable to make any breakthroughs off the return. Strycova’s woes continued as her unforced errors continued to plague her, with Makarova taking advantage of them to earn the second break of the set.
The Russian held her serve to love and consolidated the break easily without a hitch, placing herself just one game away from the win. Serving to stay in the match, Strycova could not handle Makarova’s powerful play as the Russian put up a clinical display to clinch the win after 1 hour and 19 minutes of play.