Ekaterina Makarova’s impressive run at the Wuhan Open continued as she ousted her compatriot Daria Kasatkina in the third round for a place in the quarterfinals, triumphing in straight sets. The younger Russian, who came into the match with a surprisingly straightforward victory over world number two Simona Halep, was unable to match up Makarova in terms of power as the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist stormed to the quarterfinals without losing a set despite being unseeded.
Tight start to the match
Kasatkina’s decision to start the match serving proved to be a little risky as she showed some early jitters which was a complete opposite of Makarova’s fast start, which saw her step up her gear from the first point earning her three break points in the opening game. Nevertheless, unforced errors from the world number 35 allowed her compatriot to narrowly hold her serve to start on a positive note.
It seemed to be a marathon encounter when Makarova had to endure a tough service game of her own to get onto the scoreboard, with both players putting up an impressive performance. Once again, Kasatkina had to fend off a break point before eking out the tight hold of serve, remaining on serve as Makarova failed to convert all her chances.
Kasatkina makes first breakthrough and powers to 4-1 lead
We finally had our first break of serve in the match but it came unexpectedly as it was Kasatkina who made the first breakthrough in the fourth game. The winner of the Volvo Car Open was able to absorb the power of Makarova’s powerful and consistent groundstrokes and managed to redirect the pace which often opened up the court for her to blast winners. An uncharacteristic volley error from the experienced Russian then sealed the break for Kasatkina. Fans then witnessed the first comfortable service hold of the match as the youngster had all the momentum running in her, consolidating the break for a formidable 4-1 lead.
Makarova unexpectedly fights back
The first set seemed to be one-sided when the scores were at 1-4, 40-40 in favor of Kasatkina. However, Makarova showed some nerves of steel and remained composed at such a crucial time, sending in some clutch serves to lessen the deficit to just two games and kept herself in contention for the set.
Unexpectedly, that marked the pivotal moment of the first set as the momentum shifted sides, this time with Makarova strolling through the match as Kasatkina started to spray unforced errors consecutively to gift back the advantage out of nowhere. Makarova continued to play some of her best tennis, eventually clinching the first set 6-4 with her fifth consecutive game won.
Makarova seals the win in straight sets
It was a bizarre start to the second set as there were three straight breaks of serve in the opening three games of the set, with Makarova eventually earning the first service hold in the fourth game with her consistent lefty serve. Both Russians were performing impressively with Makarova’s forehand working especially well. In the longest game of the second set, Kasatkina found herself back level unexpectedly as she broke straight back in the sixth game where Makarova sent a backhand long on break point.
However, Kasatkina was unable to stay consistent as she was broken to 15 immediately in the next game, allowing Makarova to regain the advantage and be a step closer to the confidence-boosting win. She then faced some troubles while consolidating the break but still fended off the tough challenge of her compatriot to place herself just one game away from the win, which she eventually sealed with an impressive backhand down-the-line winner after an hour and 34 minutes of play.