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The Magic Box is already delivering WTA surprises — expect many more

Matt Zemek



Jerry Lai -- USA TODAY Sports

It’s not unheard of for players who get bageled in first sets to win matches in three, but Aliaksandra Sasnovich was part of a story on Saturday in which bageled players won two separate WTA round-of-64 matches in Madrid.

Yes, the Madrid Open began with a bang on Saturday. Sasnovich, smoked in the first set by Anett Kontaveit, rallied to not only win, but win going away: 3 and 2 over the final two sets.

One bagel plot twist might have been enough for the first day of main-draw play on the women’s side in La Caja Magica, but no, there was another one, and moreover, it has the EXACT SAME SCORELINE as Sasnovich-Kontaveit.

Kirsten Flipkens shut out Anastasija Sevastova in the first set, only for Sevastova to roll through the next two sets by the same 3-and-2 scoreline.

0-6, 6-3, 6-2, in two separate matches on the same day.

In one match, the seeded player (Kontaveit, No. 14) lost. In the other match, the seeded player (Sevastova, No. 12) won. Kontaveit made the Stuttgart final and had to fancy her chances of advancing in this tournament, but she got upset. Sevastova had to like her matchup against Flipkens, whose game is better suited for grass… and avoided the upset.

On a day when Aryna Sabalenka tumbled out of Spain with a discouraging straight-set loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova, this much is clear: The tumult and instability of the WTA Tour in 2019 — with two new first-time champions crowned on Saturday in Rabat (Maria Sakkari) and Prague (Jil Teichmann) — show no signs of receding.

This isn’t bad, it just IS. This IS the reality of women’s tennis in 2019, an exciting world in which the depth on tour creates so many permutations and possibilities.

The fun in The Magic Box is just beginning. Prepare for a full week of wildness in Madrid on the WTA side.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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