I had trouble sleeping last night, so finally, I just got up and turned on Tennis Channel. The Madrid semifinal featuring Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova was already in progress, and it was about as close as I expected it to be. But after Kvitova won the first set in a tiebreak, Halep used a two-prong tactic--being as aggressive as possible, or, when the occasion called for it, waiting for Kvitova to make an error. Kvitova obliged her over and over.
Many of us have been "telling" Simona to do something about her serve, and she has recently done something about it. It's been solid throughout the Madrid Open, and today, it was superb. The world number 5 beat the 2011 Madrid champion 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, and hit 55 winners in the process. She made 42 unforced errors, but obviously, the ratio is a good one. Halep has been so impressive in Spain, and falling behind doesn't seem to affect her mentally; she was down 0-2, and then 1-3, in the second set of this match.
Once again, Kvitova looked tired in the second half. When she gets tired, she makes more errors.
In the other semifinal, Maria Sharapova once again defeated Aga Radwanska. The score this time was 6-1, 6-4.
Though she lost her quarterfinal match to Radwanska, qualifier Caroline Garcia continued, this week, to demonstrate that she is the riser on clay. This was the Frenchwoman's first premier level quarterfinal, and she played really well against Radwanska, taking the 3rd seed to three sets (and hitting 11 aces in the process). It was Garcia's sixth match of the tournament, but she looked like she could have gone on and on. I don't know who or what got Garcia to give up her tendency to choke, but once that tendency is relinquished, some very good things can happen (as we learned some years ago from another Frenchwoman with considerable clay court skills and court presence to spare).
Yesterday, in doubles, wild cards Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro continued their amazing run with a 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 victory over top seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. In the final, the Spaniards will play 2nd seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Errani and Vinci defeated Charleston champions Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova in the semifinals.
In Rome, top-seeded Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor has gone out in straight sets in the first round of qualifying to the mercurial Mona Barthel. 2nd seed Jana Cepelova is also out in the first round (talk about a post-final slump), courtesy of Petra Cetkovska. Zheng Jie is out, too, and Ula Radwanska won a match! She's now into the second round of qualifying.