INDIAN WELLS:FERNANDEZ VS ROGERS

This was easily the match of the Round even though it features one unseeded player. Fernandez warmed up to the match the fastest despite a nervous opening service game. Check out 30-40, hitting the forehand on the volley key if she had allowed the ball to bounce the momentum would have been gone. Leylah eventually started to make a mark on the set. The most potent of her weapons? The backhand winner/volley. It is easy to forget that she has had her breakthrough year this year with the way she handles high pressure matches. It was not her usual efficient best in the first set for Rogers. She couldn’t cope with the power hitting from the Canadian. Her own hitting wasn’t the best either. Watch set point 5-2(40-30). Look how well inside her baseline Leylah is. Such short serves set you up struggle during the rally and so it proved.

If the first set was easy enough for the 2021 US Open finalist, it was a total nightmare in the second set. Why the abrupt turn around? More convincing serving from the American combined with hitting closer to the baseline during rallies. Check out 2-0(40-30). Great defensive return from the Leylah angled serve, it was neither one or the other(neither lob or a full shot) so it became tricky for Leylah to handle. Serving was good, Shelby with 67% to Leylah’s 65%. Double faulting wasn’t off the charts too, Leylah had the worst record in this one with 5 to 2 from Rogers. The one at set point 5-1(40-30) was the most untimely and disappointing of all. On the second serve she actually hits he ball with the of the racquet almost on the frame SO IT WAS BOUND TO THE wayward.

Third set now. It was more close and edge of the seat stuff from both players. More break point opportunities were crafted by both. Impressive was the way Shelby saved three of them with great serving but it wasn’t enough to hold serve. The very next game it was Laylah’s turn to face three break points, couldn’t save any of them. Both held serve going into the deciding tie break, forehand winners galore. Check out Leylah at 5-4(40-30) under pressure to hold serve. Now turning point and decisive moment of the breaker was Rogers getting the mini break at 3-2. Leylah was in trouble with the short forehand on the baseline leaving a lot of court for Shelby to target. Shelby now faces Ostapenko of Latvia in the last 8. Leylah has had a good year even though it looks like she will miss the year end championships in Mexico.

CHICAGO FALL CLASSIC:ANDREESCU VS ROGERS

Round of 32 at the Chicago fall tennis classic. We have had a lot of Canada versus USA matches on Tour this year and Canada seems to have surged ahead in terms of wins. Shelby had that morale boosting victory over Barty at Flushing Meadows whilst Bianca has had an injury plagued season. As usual I start off with the serving. Both averaged 61% on first serve which made the match a close one. The winner would have to have been the one that seized break point chances and minimized unforced errors in rallies. Now, check out 1-1(adv Bianca). How do you deal with a kick serve with the ball bouncing that high on your backhand? Keep your eye on the ball and hit straight across so as to keep it down. Very long opening 3 games of the match, an indication that this was not going to be a one sided affair. Set was decided by the single break of serve. Watch set point Rogers at 5-4(40-30). Like I said errors were going to be a factor, Bianca hitting the forehand long, wasn’t as if it was a great serve anyway by Rogers putting the unforced in the “unforced error”.

Bianca fared better when receiving than when she served. Watch second set third game 1-1. Yes she was unlucky with the net cord at 40-30, but she wasn’t hitting the ball with the necessary conviction. Illustration, watch the opening point of that game, the forehand was a nothing shot just inviting Shelby to hit the backhand to the corner. Well, there were glimpses of the shot variation that propelled her to the US Open title 2 years ago. Watch the majestic drop shot at 3-1(40-30) to crucially stay in the match behind by just a single break. One thing that a drop shot gives you is confidence. It showed in the following games up to the 10th when Rogers was serving for the match at 5-4. The forehand by Bianca at 40-15 to finally break Rogers’s serve got me thinking, if she had played it cross court on the initial return of serve, the point would have been over. But she hit another safe shot back to court , she must have been grateful to receive another bite of the cherry there. Watch. Her tentativeness to take the risky shot was her undoing in the context of the match.