Osaka advances; Serena, Sabalenka fall at W&S Open Day 4

Day 4 of the W&S Open saw top remaining seeds, Naomi Osaka breeze through and Serena Williams fall to Maria Sakkari.

With 8 of the top 10 seeds now gone, Serena and Osaka were the only two players left standing along with Johanna Konta. Here are Day 4’s two marquee matchups and a full recap of the day.

(4) Naomi Osaka def. (16) Dayana Yastremska 6-3, 6-1

After an up-and-down victory yesterday, Naomi Osaka put together a much more comfortable win this time around. The match opened with two quick holds. At 1-all, Osaka was able to save two break points at 15-40 on her way to a hold. It proved significant, as she broke Yastremska the very next game. From there, Osaka’s brilliant serving performance from last night kicked back in. She was able to hold out and win the match on her second set point at 5-3. Despite only serving 50% on her first serve, she capitalized when it went in, winning 14 of 16 points. She also threw in 4 aces, which helped her power past Yastremska for the first set.

Osaka’s rhythm continued into the second set; she was able to convert a break point opportunity to grab a 1-love lead. From there, she faced her toughest test on serve that she’s seen for the entirety of the week. Yastremska took her to a four deuce game where she faced three break points. Osaka, however, was able to save all three after a few untimely double faults to give herself a 2-love lead in the set. Yastremska’s hold at love for 1-2 was the last time she gained any sort of momentum. In the final four games, Yastremska was outscored 12-5 in points and only got within two points of a game once (during the final game of the match). Osaka was able to power through to a quarterfinal date with 12th-seeded Anett Kontaveit.

Osaka is emerging as the tournament’s best player and through two matches, she looks virtually unbeatable, even with the first set loss yesterday.

“I was really nervous. So I didn’t feel that free. I had a lot of doubts in my mind…,” she said regarding yesterday’s first set.

“It kind of boils down to attitude, because for me I feel like I’m more open-minded when I’m calm, so maybe if I was upset I wouldn’t have been able to apply the things that I knew I was doing wrong.”

Whatever nervousness or lack of freedom she felt yesterday certainly didn’t come into effect today and doesn’t look to be holding her back as she looks to win her first tournament since last year’s China Open.

(13) Maria Sakkari def. (3) Serena Williams def. 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-0

After sneaking away with a victory over Arantxa Rus, Serena Williams was due for an easier path into the quarterfinals this time around. She started off extremely hot and was able to build a 5-2 lead in the opening set without facing a break point on her serve. Sakkari was extremely ineffective on the return, only able to muster 5 total points on Serena’s serve in 4 games.

After a hold at love, Sakkari was finally able to get in a rhythm on the receiving end and took a game off of Serena. Following that up with a hold, the match was tied at 5-all. Unfortunately, that would be the final game she’d win in the set. Serena took the final two games and snuck away with a sloppy first set.

Entering into the second set, Serena had the advantage but little momentum, even though she had just taken the previous set. The hard-hitting Sakkari took advantage and broke in a two deuce game. After four consecutive quick holds, Sakkari was broken at 3-2 to tie the match. Serena kicked it into overdrive and, after a relatively comfortable hold, converted a second consecutive break of serve.

Serving for the match at 5-3, she wasn’t able to close the deal and instead was broken to put the set back on serve. Sakkari then held for 5-all to swing the momentum back on her side. Serena was able to push out a hold and had the opportunity to return for the match. The pair went into deuce before Sakkari sent the match into a tiebreak. After losing four of the first five points, Sakkari stormed back to even the tiebreaker at 4-all, tying it up with a minibreak. Serena took the next point but suffered a four-point swing which saw Sakkari run past for the 7-5 tiebreak victory.

Sakkari began the final set the same way she ended the last: with a flurry of points to start. Unfortunately for her, she was unable to ride the hot streak she had created. She had two break points at 15-40 but lost them both, instead opting for an unfathomable seven-deuce game. Sakkari finally broke after her 8th break point of the game (yes, you heard that right).

Sakkari was pulling away and took the final four games in just as much time as it took for her to prevail in the marathon second game. Serena never got closer than two points from a game and looked worn out and beat down as this set wore on. Serena showed she had some fight left and put on a repeat of the second game. Sakkari once again went up 15-40 but was unable to put away the match.

In a mirror image, the pair engaged in 7 deuces; Sakkari couldn’t win any of her 7 match points and lost the game, giving Serena a breath of life. Sakkari, though, finally got it done on her own serve by converting her 8th match point.

Sakkari’s comeback win has put a cap on arguably her best week this season. With wins over Coco Gauff and now Serena Williams, she’ll be a dangerous threat to take the title this week.

Other Notable Results/Underdog Picks

  1. 5th-seeded Aryana Sabalenka became the 7th player in the top ten seeds to fall this week, losing to Jessica Pegula in a tight three-setter. Pegula has become one of the most underrated threats in this tournament. The qualifier has taken out Jennifer Brady, Amanda Anisimova, and now Sabalenka. She’s due to face 14th-seeded Elise Mertens in the quarters tomorrow.
  2. One the subject of Mertens, her game has been among the very best so far in this tournament. She’ll roll into the quarterfinals with her toughest challenge yet.
  3. Ons Jabeur is one player to certainly watch out for. After her first-round scare against Leylah Fernandez, Jabeur has dismantled her last two opponents, 7th-seeded Madison Keys, and Christina McHale. She has a favorable matchup tomorrow against Azarenka and will face the winner of Konta/Williams with a victory tomorrow.

Day 4 Full Results (Round of 16)

(12) Anett Kontaveit def. Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-3

(14) Elise Mertens def. Veronika Kudermentova 6-2, 6-3

(8) Johanna Konta def. Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-2

Jessica Pegula def. (5) Aryana Sabalenka 6-2, 2-6, 6-3

Victoria Azarenka def. Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-5

(4) Naomi Osaka def. (16) Dayana Yastremska 6-3, 6-1

Ons Jabeur def. Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0

(13) Maria Sakkari def. (3) Serena Williams def. 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-0

Day 5 Full Schedule (Quarterfinals)

11:00 AM EST

Grandstand: (14) Elise Mertens vs Jessica Peluga

1:00 PM

Court 17: (4) Naomi Osaka vs (12) Anett Kontaveit

3:00 PM

Court 17: Ons Jabeur vs Victoria Azarenka

5:00 PM

Grandstand: (8) Johanna Konta vs (13) Maria Sakkari