Stephens, Wozniacki Reach Charleston Quarters, Defending Champ Bertens Loses to Sakkari
(April 4, 2019) The 2011 Charleston champion Caroline Wozniacki, seeded fifth, fought past No. 12 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open on Thursday.
The former No. 1 described the match during her news conference:
“I think that I started off very well. I started off aggressively. I played the way I wanted to play. I could feel the pressure coming from her, so I knew she wasn’t going to give up easy, and she played even more aggressively, and things started turning her way a little bit. And I think I got a little bit too defensive but at the same time I couldn’t really get the depth on it because she was pressuring me so much.
“In the third set again I got a good start but wasn’t really feeling it. Then at 3‑3 it was just I have to step in. I have to try and take the ball earlier and I think that paid off a little bit.”
The Dane will take on Maria Sakkari of Greece next.
“I’m very familiar with her,” said Wozniacki. “We’ve practiced together in Monaco quite a bit, so I’m familiar with her and her game. She obviously loves the clay and it’s going to be a little bit of a different match because she’s a right‑hander and she puts a lot of spin on the ball but at the same time it’s going to be similar in the way they both like to play on clay and use the angles.”
Wozniacki has an addition to her team for this week – former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone. Asked if the Italian will continue to help her coaching team, the 2018 Australian open winner said: “We’ll see. I think we’ll sit down after this tournament next week and just see how we feel.”
No. 15 seed Sakkari knocked out defending champion and No. 2 seed Kiki Bertens 7-6(8), 6-3.
“I was feeling well on court, so I could see that I was there,” Sakkari said to media. “It was not like, 1-5 and I had no chance of coming back. So I fought and make a lot of balls, came back with some good shots, and I think that’s the winner out there in the third round.”
Sloane Stephens has reached the elite 8 of Charleston. The top seed and 2017 U.S. Open champion needed three tough sets to stop No. 14 seed Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“I haven’t had the best start to the season, and sometimes you gotta just like gut it out,” said the American. “But Ajla played really well today, and I think she played at a really high level, and it made me raise my level. And for the first time in a long time I really was like, I gotta beat this girl. Like I wanted to be out there, and I was really fighting, and I didn’t care what it took. But you guys obviously see me play a lot, and I was like running to the baseline on the changeovers when I was down 3‑0. I was like, okay, I gotta figure out a way, and I definitely think my attitude is what won me the match today. “
It will be a 2017 US Open final re-match when Stephens take son Madison Keys in her quarterfinal.
“Whenever Maddy and I play, we always play really great matches and we play on big stages, so I think it’s nice to be able to play her here,” noted Stephens. “This is both of our top tournaments of the year. We love playing here.”
No. 9 seed Keys dismissed 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-2.
Another American. Danielle Collins has reached the quarterfinals with a win over Kaia Kanepi 7-6(1), 6-1. Other women advancing were No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic and Petra Martic.
2016 gold medalist Monica Puig took down No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 7-5.
Monica Puig now works with Sloane Stephens former coach Kamau Murray. Puig, now ranked No. 63 in the world is trying to make her way back up in the rankings.
“Just putting into play all the hard work that I’ve been doing with my team,” said the women from Puerto Rico. “I’ve been a little bit impatient, I’m not going to lie, with wanting results right away as soon as we started working together, because we were changing a lot of things and working, and everything was working in practice, so I just thought, okay, it’s supposed to translate over into the match. But it’s not like that. You know, you need patience.
“It finally started clicking for me a little bit this week, so I’m just riding the wave, and today I just tried to continue to stay disciplined with the game plan that my coach gave me before going out to the match and just staying calm and composed, especially in those moments where I got tight there in the second set.”
“When I first started talking to Kamau, but what I wanted to do and what needed to be done, he was just ‑‑ he liked my game in general. He likes the way I play but I think it was just organizing myself a little bit more, settling in a little bit more. Sometimes not wanting to go for broke on a really long point, and just hanging in there and staying and fighting. I thought after the Olympics, it’s kind of hard for you to keep fighting for matches because you put so much pressure that it just suddenly becomes such a struggle to fight, and you get discouraged a lot easier. So that’s something really big that he’s taught me is to continue to fight, and even if the match is getting tight, just hang in there. Just keep trusting yourself and keep going for your shots, and it’ll happen when it’s supposed to.”
“When you have those weeks like I did at Rio, and all of a sudden you’re a Grand Slam champion or Olympic gold medalist and all eyes are on you all of a sudden, and you expect so much more from yourself and you don’t tolerate yourself losing in the first round of a tournament or you expect yourself to get to the quarterfinals or better every single week, there’s that added pressure and you’re just kind of like, when it’s not there, you’re discouraged, you get disappointed. And then losses and confidence issues.
“But, you know, I think it’s just settling into your own skin and just saying, hey, you know, it happened, it can happen again. And I didn’t play that way by chance. It’s in you. It’s always going to be in you. You just have to find the courage to bring it out time and time again. And I think as we get older, too and we start maturing a little more mentally, we kind of are able to give ourselves a break when we’re not playing our best tennis and still find a way to win.
“And, yeah, you know it’s a learning process. And she won it when she was super young, and I won when I was 22, and again, out of nowhere. Nobody expected us to do that. So it was great. At least we can say that we have that under our belt, but I know in our hearts we want more, so we’re just going to keep scrapping and finding our way out of these little holes that we get ourselves into from time to time. And I really look forward to getting further in tournaments, as does she. So it’ll be a good step forward if we can kind of like break the ice on that little barrier that we have.”