French Open Day 8 Women’s Recap:  Martic Comes Back, Konta and Stephens Through

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Petra Martic Day 6

The Round of 16 has begun on the women’s side. Tuesday included a great comeback by Petra Martic, and strong wins by Sloane Stephens and Johanna Konta. Here’s a look at what happened, with six seeds in action on Day 8:

French Open Day 8 Recap

Britain’s #1 Into Her First Quarterfinal at Roland Garros

Watching the #26 seed play today, it’s impossible to believe this is the first time Johanna Konta has made it past the first round. Playing like someone who’s accustomed to deep runs on clay, Britain’s #1 defeated good friend and 23rd seed, Donna Vekic in straight sets. In her run to the quarterfinals, Konta’s single challenge came in her second round match against American Lauren Davis. It was the only match which the 26th seed was pushed through three challenging sets. Perhaps that’s the match which served to sharpen Konta’s vastly improved clay court form.

Britain’s #1 turned in a remarkable Round of 16 performance, demonstrating her exceptional movement, defensive skills and strong serving. Strong stats – 73% first serve, seven aces and five break points won, shaped the Brit’s fourth round win. While the Brit soared, Vekic had an atypical performance, under 50% first serve and winning just 46% of those meager first service points. Vekic has had a nice run but it’s Konta coming through 6-2 6-4.

The Martic Magic Continues

Overcoming a set and a break down, Petra Martic is moving on to her first quarterfinal in Paris. An emotional battle and mental struggle for the Croat, whose quarterfinal bids at Majors has failed – until today. The sixth time’s the charm for the number 31 seed.

Estonian Kaia Kanepi was determined to see her way to the quarterfinals, taking the first set 7-5. Despite losing the first eight points of the second set, Martic thundered back to rifle off the next six games and level the match. In the decider, Kanepi rushed out to a 2-0 lead. In an up and down contest, filled with momentum shifts, the Croat finally came good. Using her crafty drop shop and a highlight reel worthy lob, Martic saw off Kanepi 6-4 in the decider.

Martic has the highest number of clay court wins on the WTA Tour this year. A 14-2 record includes her first WTA title, earned in Istanbul. Interestingly enough, Martic conquered Marketa Vondrousova for the Istanbul title and will need to conquer the young Czech once again in her semifinal bid. Vondrousova and Martic have met four time and Martic remains undefeated. A must watch match.

Another Teenage Triumph

Despite five double faults, Marketa Vondrousova brought in a straight sets win against the #12 seed, Anastasija Sevastova. One of a handful of teens that are making a strong statement in Paris, the Czech is through to the quarterfinals. Teens Iga Swiatek of Poland and American Amanda Anisimova will be in action tomorrow hoping to join their contemporary Vondrousova in the quarterfinals.

Vondrousova was able to break on six occasions, giving back but a single break of serve. Nearly half of the 19-year-old’s points were won on the return of serve. In addition, the Czech won 82% of her own second serve points. A mix of power and cagey shot making, Vondrousova annihilated the Latvian 6-2 6-0 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

2018 Finalist Comes Through

Sloane Stephens’ consistent and powerful performance exited 19th seed Garbine Muguruza in straight sets. After a slow and shaky start to the match, the 7th seed gained her form, sending powerful winners to the baseline. Displaying her shot selection skill, the American sent deft drop shots to the Muguruza court, followed by line finding lobs. Late in the second set, Muguruza tried different tactics, sending moon balls in the hope of throwing off the rhythm Stephens had found.

The 2018 finalist exploited the Spaniard’s deficient movement to power a shot to open court.  Yet, Muguruza would not go quietly, saving four match points with line clipping winners. It took five match point attempts before Stephens could close out the set. The Stephens form has certainly improved, now looking like a true contender for the title.

A Look at Day 9

Round of 16 play concludes tomorrow with three seeds bidding for a quarterfinal berth. On Suzanne-Lenglen, unseeded Katerina Siniakova takes on the number 14 seed, Madison Keys. Later in the day unseeded players Amanda Anisimova squares off against Aliona Bolsova Zadoinova. In action on Philippe-Chatrier, American Sofia Kenin faces 8th seed Ashleigh Barty. Defending champion and third seed Simona Halep will meet Poland’s wunderkind Iga Swiatek.

Main Photo from Getty

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