Apia International Sydney, Australia
[CR14] Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs. [CR23] Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
In their first meeting, Bencic came out attacking and took the first set 6-0. However, Makarova has been ranked in the top ten and was not about to go down without a fight. She applied the pressure to Bencic in the second set with her own style of attack and evened the match when she won the set 6-2. The third set would show what both players were made of mentally and physically. Both have been prone to injuries. Would Bencic fold or would Makarova rise to the occasion? Bencic rebounded in the third and took control early and came out victorious with the 6-4 win in the third set. She dispelled any doubts that she was not fit enough. Makarova could not sustain the momentum gained in the second set. Despite dropping the second set, Bencic had better statistics in every category. She will face second time semifinalist Monica Puig next.
[CR10] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. [CR34] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
The last time Kohlschreiber defeated Tsonga was in 2009 in Germany. Since then Tsonga has found the secret to neutralizing the German’s weapons. Tsonga looks leaner and fitter. Today he came out sharp and there was nothing that Kohlschreiber could do to counteract Tsonga’s determination. Despite the score of 6-3, 6-4, it was all Tsonga. Kohlschreiber has lost a step or two and although he still has game, he seemed distracted the entire match. Tsonga on the other hand looked rather focused, and ready for the Australian Open. I expect to see him deep in the draw if he stays injury free. Next up for Tsonga is the enigmatic Fabio Fognini. Tsonga has never lost to him in three previous encounters.