Doha 2017: Day-4. Angelique Kerber Upset

Today’s headlines should focus on 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina‘s second win this year over Angelique Kerber, and Dominika Cibulkova‘s 400th career victory, defeating Sam Stosur for the first time…but instead, the focus remains on the weather.

Truth be told, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks we can complete the Qatar Total Open 2017 on-time. Tomorrow is typically Semifinal Friday. We still have three Quarterfinals to complete, and there’s more rain in the forecast.

Saturday, however, looks clear. WTA Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho and the ITF’s Head of Officiating Soeren Friemel have assured everyone that the tournament will conclude on time, even if we have to play the Semifinals and Championship matches on the same day.

WTA Tournament Supervisor Tony Cho

Tony Cho

ITF Head of Officiating Soeren Friemel

Soeren Friemel

Today, we started at 11:00a and managed to complete the five remaining Round-of-16 singles matches and one Quarterfinal match before rain suspended play for the day…again. In doubles, the #2-seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova played back-to-back matches to reach the Semifinals. Barbora played THREE matches on Thursday, first falling to Sam Stosur in the singles Round of 16 before moving-on to her doubles matches. Like Mirza, Sam Stosur also played two matches on Thursday, losing in the Quarterfinals to the #3-seed Dominika Cibulkova.

Daria Kasatkina could have potentially played THREE matches on Thursday, as well. After her upsest of Angelique Kerber in the day’s first match on center court, the scenario became very real. When her Quarterfinal match with Monica Puig was interrupted by rain and suspended for the day, she and doubles partner Timea Babos withdrew from the doubles draw, handing a 1st-Round walk-over to Yaroslava Shvedova and Olga Savchuk; eliminating a scheduling nightmare moving forward.

Olga and Yaroslava will face the #3-seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Shuai Peng in the remaining doubles Quarterfinal tomorrow on Court-1.

Ultimately, we completed 12 of Thursday’s 16 scheduled matches. There are two days left in the Qatar Total Open 2017. Here are the 10 matches that remain:

  • 3 Quarterfinal singles
  • 1 Quarterfinal doubles
  • 2 Semifinal singles
  • 2 Semifinal doubles
  • 2 Championship matches

 

Day-4 Started with an Upset on Center Court

D. Kasatkina (RUS) d [1] A. Kerber (GER) 64 06 64. Nothing intimidates 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina; not even a “bageling” in the second set by the World #2. Daria made headlines in week-2 of the season by defeating World #1 Angelique Kerber in straight sets to reach the Quarterfinals in Sydney. This morning, she made headlines by doing it again to reach the Quarterfinals in Doha.

19-year-old Daria Kasatkina. Photo: Samer Al-Rejjal (Bein Sports)

Daria Kasatkina

Kerber missed on six break opportunities in the first set, regrouped in the second, then fell behind two breaks before the first sit-down in the third. She was completely out of rhythm, clearly uncomfortable with the swirling wind on center court, and beyond ready to make her way to Dubai, away from a rain-plagued Qatar Total Open that has kept players guessing if they’d even take the court.

Kasatkina earned the win with her fourth break of the match and joked in our post-match interview: “It’s my second year on the WTA Tour, so I have to grow up!” Grow up she has…at just 19-years-old, she owns four top-10 wins; two of them over 2-time Grand Slam Champion Angelique Kerber.
 
C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [4] A. Radwanska (POL) 75 63. In 2010, Caroline Wozniacki reached the championship match of the WTA Finals on this very court. Three months later, she played-through to the Final of the Qatar Total Open 2011. Agnieszka Radwanska is a five-time Semifinalist in Doha. Both have successful histories in Qatar. Needless to say, since Saturday’s draw, this Round of 16 clash was the most anticipated match of the tournament…a match that was suspended by rain before it ever even got started Wednesday night.

Caroline Wozniacki. Her 10th career win over Agnineszka Radwanska

Caroline Wozniacki

In their 16th meeting, Caroline earned her 10th career win over Radwanska through determined, aggressive play in challenging conditions. Perhaps the fact that Caroline had already endured several rain delays and an overnight suspension in her 1st-Round win over Kiki Bertens helped. She was clearly acclimated to the court and the weather-related uncertainty. Though this match went uninterrupted, Wozniacki won a majority of the long rallies, fending-off all but one of Radwanska’s break opportunities.

After the match, Caroline was stoked with the win. The two met three times last year during autumn’s Asian-swing. While Caroline won a 3-setter in Tokyo, Agnieszka crushed her in Wuhan and Beijing. This was redemption: “We always have great matches – the last two times we’ve played I’ve lost to her.”

Caroline Wozniacki is looking solid and undeterred. With qualifier Lauren Davis and either Daria Kasatkina or Monica Puig in the way, don’t be surpised to see her in the Championship match.

 
[3] D. Cibulkova (SVK) d S. Stosur (AUS) 75 64. Dominika Cibulkova is the only player at this year’s Qatar Total Open to have escaped the scheduling impact of the rain. While yesterday’s Round of 16 match was briefly interrupted by a passing shower, at least it was completed on time. No double duty.

Her opponent Sam Stosur, on the other hand, was playing her second match of the day. Before Thursday, Dominika had never even earned a set off of Stosur. After one 20-minute, first-set rain-delay and 90-minutes on the court, she scored her first victory over the Aussie with her 400th career win.

In the first set, Dominkia was up 2-breaks at 5-1 before Stosur launched a dominating comeback to level it at 5-all. Cibulkova then earned a timely break to go up 6-5 and served-out the set. In the second, the two held pace through 4-all. Dominika delivered another incredibly timely break to gain the edge and served-out the match. She was the better (and more well-rested) player when it mattered.

 
M. Puig (PUR) leads D. Kasatkina (RUS) 46 75 21. Well, at least we were able to complete one Quarterfinal match. After Dominika Cibulkova’s momentus win, Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig and Daria Kasatkina took to center court for one of the most competitive matches of the tournament. Stopped by rain three times, the match was finally suspended for the night with Puig up 2-1, on-serve in the decider.

Both could use the rest. Monica won two matches yesterday to reach tonight’s Quarterfinal. This morning, Daria won a three-setter over World #2 Angelique Kerber. They’ll square-off in a one-set sprint to the Semifinals tomorrow starting at noon…weather permitting, of course.