Tuesday, June 28, 2016

W.2- All in the Family

After Day 1 concluded with a Pliskova twin "breaking ranks" from family history and actually surviving a tight slam match, Day 2 opened with a "return to past form" as another Pliskova twin squandered a 3rd set lead and was once again sent out in the early rounds of a major.

It's not even Radwanskian Remembrance Day yet, but for half of the 24-year old Czech sibling duo this Wimbledon is already 'ova.

Less than a day after #17-seeded Karolina overcame a love 2nd set to gut out an 8-6 3rd set win over Yanina Wickmayer, her sister Kristyna, one year after she reached her only career slam 3rd Round at SW19, overcame a slow start against Chinese lucky loser Duan Yingying and seemed in good position to make Wimbledon -- where she was the junior champion in 2010 -- the first slam at which she's ever won MD matches in back-to-back years.

But Kristyna is still a Pliskova. And this is a slam. So, well, you know.


KRISTYNA PLISKOVA, on Monday, when hopes were still high

On Court 15, a long hike across the tournament grounds from the site of her sister's earlier escape, the unseeded Pliskova (#107) failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented to her in the 1st set. The woman who set a WTA record with 31 aces in a single match at the Australian Open (in a loss, of course, in which she failed to convert five MP vs. Monica Puig) fired five aces in the set, but wasn't able to put away any of her seven BP chances against Duan. The #123-ranked LL, who quickly took a 3-0 lead in the early moments of Day 2 action, converted one of her three BP (getting it in game #2) and held the advantage throughout to win the set 6-3.

Pliskova rebounded in the 2nd, winning 20 of 24 pts on serve, hitting four more aces and never facing a break point. She converted an early BP chance for 2-0 and never relinquished the lead. She then immediately took a break lead in the opening game of the 3rd set, as well. Kristyna led 3-1 before Duan broke back for 3-3. Highlighting just how much Pliskova needed to ride her big serve on the grass, and how every BP opportunity was worth its weight in gold, it's worth noting that through the first eleven games of the set, none had yet gone to even deuce. In fact, only four games of the thirty played on the day did, and all of them had come back in the 1st set. So any small opening needed to be ripped wide, since they were few and far between as the match progressed.

So, guess what Pliskova did.

Serving down 5-6, Pliskova opened game #12 of the 3rd set with a DF (her sixth on the day) and quickly found herself down love/40. What Pliskova so often failed to do in the match, the 26-year old Chinese did right then and there. Duan fired a backhand winner to get the match-winning break for a 6-3/3-6/7-5 victory, her second straight 1st Round Wimbledon upset coming one year after she qualified and defeated Genie Bouchard at SW19 in the MD last summer (she just missed out on the 3rd Rd., losing a 10-8 3rd set vs. Tatjana Maria a round later).

While Pliskova had ten aces on the day, much as was the case in her loss to Puig in Melbourne, she failed to employ her biggest weapon when she needed it most. She had just a single ace in the 3rd set (coming in a rather innocuous moment in game #8 to take a 40/love lead before holding for 4-4). She hit at just a 57% clip on her 1st serves (after 75% in the 2nd set) and won only ten of the seventeen first serves she got in (she won 15 of 18 in the 2nd), along with just 7 of 13 of her 2nd serves (5/6 in the 2nd). Meanwhile, Duan doubled Pliskova's winner total in the 3rd (16-8, after having been behind 24-19 in the first two sets). Duan converted on both her BP chances in the set, making her three-for-five in the match vs. Pliskova's two-for-ten. She was clearly the big point player on the day.


Recent Wimbledon lucky losers -- Alize Cornet in '07, Kristina Kucova in '09 and Stephanie Dubois in '11 -- have reached the 2nd Round, but none have managed to win two matches since Dutch player Tine Zwaan in 1974. Daria Kasatkina reached the 3rd Round of last year's U.S. Open as a LL, the first to advance so far at any slam since 1997.

Duan, now 2-5 in slam MD in her career (with both victories coming at Wimbledon), will face #6-seeded Roberta Vinci in the 2nd Round.


=DAY 2 NOTES=
...meanwhile, this Wimbledon's version of "Serena Williams and the Deathly Quarter" began in earnest on Tuesday The section of the defending champ's draw which contains a bevy of potential legitimate obstacles (from Vandeweghe and Vinci, to Stephens, Mladenovic, Watson, Bacsinszky and Kuznetsova) should probably slow their roll, though. Considering Williams' "fightin' words" on Day 2, no one would refuse them service should they possibly -- and maybe rightly -- be "scuuurd."



Serena's 1st Round opponent on Day 2 was Swiss Amra Sadikovic, who retired a few years ago and (in info discussed by Courtney Nguyen today on Wimbledon Radio -- so that was finally good for something, at least) was "inspired" to return when she saw Genie Bouchard playing in the Wimbledon final in 2014 and realized that she'd beaten the Canadian just three years earlier. I guess "inspired by" is the most appropriate phrase... maybe "pissed off about" might be just as appropriate, though.

Sadikovic played well, choosing to receive serve in the opening game and actually holding two BP vs. the 21-time major winner in the first game (on Centre Court, no less) of her grand slam career. Williams held and, after getting a late 2nd set break, completed a straight sets win at 6-2/6-4 to become the third woman in Wimbledon history (Original Martina - 120, Evert - 96) to notch eighty match wins.




Williams' stats weren't spectacular, but they were good enough.



Her comments, though, are more worrisome. For the rest of the field.

...in early action on Tuesday, Daria Gavrilova overcame a slow start to get her first career Wimbledon MD victory over Wang Qiang, 2-6/6-3/6-4.

Meanwhile, the first wild card AND the first Brit advanced to the 2nd Round in the form of one Tara Moore. The 23-year old (#227) got her first career slam win with a 6-3/6-2 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck.



You may remember the Brit's Twitter comments last year that accused Serena of "faking" her dramatic health/injury "issues" during that Roland Garros semifinal comeback win over Timea Bacsinszky, a moment in time which got Moore a whole heap of unwanted attention and, naturally, even online death threats (true fact). She says she's "matured" quite a bit due to the whole incident, which is a good thing. Sadly, the same can't likely be said about the anonymous horde.

Of course, Moore is now just two wins away from facing Serena. Sure, it probably won't happen. But if it did, well, it'd be a TINY bit of a story, I suppose.

So far, the Crumpets aren't fairing too well at SW19. They were 0-2 on Monday, and Moore's win gives them a 1-3 overall mark. Johanna Konta is still to finish her 1st Round match, while Heather Watson has yet to start hers.

...also moving on today was #6-seeded Roberta Vinci, who took out Alison Riske in three sets on the Bannerette's favorite surface. Vinci led 6-2/4-2 before Riske staged a comeback, but the Italian served for the match at 5-3 in the 3rd set. In the game, Vinci failed to convert three MP (dumping a slice backhand drop shot into the net on the third). After saving two BP, Vinci finally won on MP #4 when Riske fired a return long. After reaching the Wimbledon Round of 16 in 2012-13, this was Vinci's first SW19 win in three years.



In the afternoon, we got our first visit from an old Wimbledon friend. Not the entity, but the rain...



In all, six matches were interrupted and suspended, with the players from twelve yet-to-start 1st Round matches being sent home for the day. Amongst the players who'll have to finish things off on Wednesday is Andrea Petkovic, who led Nao Hibino 5-1 in 3rd (arrrggghhh!!) before play was halted.

As a result of the weather, the Centre Court roof was closed for the first time at this 2016 Wimbledon, and Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki were allowed to have a go in the opening indoor match of the summer.

Unseeded for the first time since 2008, Wozniacki came in ranked #45. Meanwhile, just-turned-31-on-Monday Kuznetsova has experienced something of a career renaissance over the past year. The two engaged in a tight battle through the first ten games of the match, but then things turned sharply. Kuznetsova broke the Dane for 6-5, then held at love to claim the set 7-5. A dejected Wozniacki was nearly bum-rushed out the door in the 2nd. Kuznetsova jumped out 4-0, and led 5-1. ESPN Chris commentators Fowler and Evert called what she was doing a "perfect set."

And then that other Sveta showed up. For a little while.

Kuznetsova's double-break lead ultimately protected the Russian from disaster, but it still took her two tries to finally serve out the match to win 7-5/6-4 to record her 24th career Wimbledon win. This is the Hordette's least productive major by a decent margin, but she's still now won twice as many matches as she's lost at the AELTC. Not bad for a "worst" slam.



Oh, and this...




In the other under-the-roof match, 2015 quarterfinalist CoCo Vandeweghe defeated 2004 Wimbledon junior champ Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2/7-6(3). The Bannerette, a two-time Rosmalen title winner (including just a few weeks ago), had five aces and only faced one BP in the match.



LIKE ON DAY 2: Praise from near and far. But especially near.


Kinda in love with my wimbledon dress @niketennis #audemarspiguet #nike

A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on



HMMM... ON DAY 2: I'm not sure I'd characterize a 6-3/6-2 with an over-selling "What. A. Win." comment, or call it a "shock" considering Moore earned her wild card into the main draw by reaching the $50K Eastbourne challenger final and tour-level Birmingham QF (as a qualifier) on the grass a few weeks ago. Even with Van Uytvanck being ranked 100 places above Moore, the Belgian is still outside the Top 100, and she came in with a 1-2 record at Wimbledon and was 0-3 in tour MD matches on grass this month. Just sayin'.



Maybe the "British Shock" thing is just an unused Brexit headline, or the BBC is now simply shocked that ANY British athlete not named Andy can win anything at all at the moment?

LIKE ON DAY 2: This is the sort of thing that the tour should use to promote itself and honor its great champions. Simple, but kinda cool...



GOOD NOTE ON DAY 2: Say what you will about Wimbledon, at least the AELTC does routinely pay respect to its history. I suspect those in charge would lose digits if they didn't. "Hey, that's not a strawberry in my cream!"



LIKE ON DAY 2: How they just always seem to drift into each other's orbit without really trying...



SISTERLY SUPPORT ON DAY 2:



And, remember, the coast is officially clear since Ostapenko is gone.

LIKE ON DAY 2: Cicak, naturally.



JUST WONDERING ON DAY 2: What sort of crack would CoCo make if opponents stoked the crowd (amongst other things) against her as she often does when playing them?



It doesn't make anything there wrong. I just wonder. She's been notoriously touchy in the past about less, after all. Although, I admit to raising fewer eyebrows regarding CoCo in this discussion this season than last.

SOMETHING NEW ON DAY 2?: I don't I've ever seen a photo of an actual player eating actual strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. For what that's worth.



LIKE ON DAY 2: Hantuchova's new perspective...



LIKE ON DAY 2: Jamie Lee Curtis Judy Murray answering not-that-interesting questions very interestingly.




...and, finally... with the rain today, that means Day 3 -- part of the whole "observed" Radwanskian Massacre remembrance -- will now feature even more players who are potentially in the path of a certain malevolent entity who likes to hide out at the All-England Club.

Don't let your guard down now!

Vigilance pays.












The changing momentum part came in handy today...












**BEST SLAM "LUCKY LOSER" RESULTS - since 2006**
=3rd Rd.=
2015 US: Daria Kasatkina, RUS
=2nd Rd.=
2006 US: Nicole Pratt, AUS
2006 RG: Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
2007 WI: Alize Cornet, FRA
2008 US: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
2009 RG: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
2009 WI: Kristina Kucova, SVK
2010 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
2011 WI: Stephanie Dubois, CAN
2012 RG: Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
2013 US: Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT
2014 AO: Irina Falconi, USA
2016 WI: Duan Yingying, CHN *
==
Most Recent 4th Rd.: Maria Jose Gaidano, ARG (1993 US)
Most Recent AO 3rd Rd.: Sandra Kleinova, CZE (1997)
Most Recent RG 3rd Rd.: Gloria Pizzichini, ITA (1996)
Most Recent WI 3rd Rd.: Tine Zwaan, NED (1974)




TOP QUALIFIER: Mandy Minella/LUX
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): xx
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #7 Tamira Paszek/AUT d. Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 6-3/5-7/10-9 ret. (Paszek MP in 2nd, ankle injury; Paszek up 5-3 3rd; Hlavackova ret. w/ cramps, collapses onto back after match)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): xx
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): xx
=============================
FIRST WINNER: #29 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA in :51)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
UPSET QUEENS: xx
REVELATION LADIES: xx
NATION OF POOR SOULS: xx
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: M.Sakkari/GRE, J.Cepelova/SVK, E.Alexandrova/RUS, M.Erakovic/NZL
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: T.Moore/GBR
LAST BRIT/CRUMPET STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: T.Moore
IT ("??"): xx
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: xx
COMEBACK: xx
CRASH & BURN: xx
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): Nominees: #28 Safarova (1st Rd. - down 7-6/5-2, 5-3 in 3rd and saved 3 MP vs. Mattek-Sands); (Q) Erakovic (saved MP vs. Falconi in 1st Rd.; won 10-8 3rd set)
THE RADWANSKA AWARD (June 26 official/Day 3 observed): TBA Day 3
DOUBLES STAR: xx
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): xx
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: xx





All for Day 2. More tomorrow.

Read more...

Monday, June 27, 2016

W.1- Add 1 AnaIvo to Bowl. Pour in 1 Russian. Stir.

Day 1 at Wimbledon was the moment when a qualifier turned into a wedding crasher.

Not much attention was paid to the 1st Round match-up between #23 Ana Ivanovic -- a former #1, slam winner and Wimbledon semifinalist (though all of those came back when the Serb was actually driven to build a successful tennis career from 2007-08 -- and #223-ranked Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova. It was scheduled on Court 12 -- to start following the unseeded match-up of Sabine Lisicki and Shelby Rogers, and before Daniel Evans vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (w/ JJ as the spicy dessert at the end of the day, with or without "helicopter shoes"). I highlighted the match in my Wimbledon preview, mostly by default, but partially because of AnaIvo's questionable motivation and the 21-year old Hordette's obvious desire to be here.

Remember, Alexandrova battled through 14-12 and 13-11 3rd sets in her final two qualifying matches. The Russian played six and a half hours over three rounds to get into the her first slam main draw, and did so after having arrived in London not even knowing if she'd be allowed to play at all, and having never played a grass court match in her life. She was an alternate for the qualifying tournament, but it wasn't until Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor's late withdrawal that she officially secured her place in her first slam draw of any kind. When she reached her first major MD, both she and her father celebrated on Friday.


Clearly, she wanted this.

Could Ivanovic say the same, really? Who knows? As has been case for most of, well, let's be honest, large chunks of the last eight years, just what the Serb wants is usually up for debate. Does she want tennis success, or not? Does she want this coach, or that one or the one behind door #3? Does she breathe a sigh of relief after a narrow slam escape and see it as something on which to build a brilliant run, or as simply an open door she didn't run through before she falls through the hole in the floor a round later. Usually, in her case, it's been the latter since the June day in Paris in 2008.



Today, Ivanovic seemed to have other things on her mind for most of the match. Which, of course, she did. Her upcoming wedding, as well as a wrist injury that she said today has been bothering for her two weeks. But would 100% health have made any difference, or would she have simply found another way to cut short her pre-honeymoon trip to London today, or maybe two days from now? Considering her history, it's an open question.

And an unnecessary one, too, as nothing should be taken away from the lanky young Russian with the smooth groundstrokes and good (if sometimes inconsistent) serve. She handed it to the Serb on Monday, quite possibly demoralizing her at some point, or at least making her realize that if she was going to win her 1st Round match she was going to have to work much, much harder than she was prepared to on this day. On the other hand, the Russian, as we saw in recent days, is willing to work as hard and as long as she has to.

Playing very composed tennis, Alexandrova raced out to a 6-2/2-1 lead with a break advantage, as one had to wonder if AnaIvo was thinking about her big upcoming whoop-di-do. Finally, the moment seemed to dawn on the Hordette, as she was broken to even things at 2-2. But she quickly recovered, as would be her pattern down the stretch of this match, breaking back and holding for a 4-2 lead. Again, Alexandrova's nerves cracked ever so slightly, just as Ivanovic held her own. It provided a slight opening for success for the Serb, but she failed to fully take advantage of it. The Russian held game point for a 5-3 lead, but failed to convert as AnaIvo got back on serve at 4-4 with a break and then won a third straight game to go up 5-4.

It was here where Alexandrova would prove her mettle. After holding to stay in the set, she broke AnaIvo to take a 6-5 lead. After having needed three tries to finally serve out Harriet Dart in her final Q-round match, the Hordette now had the chance to do the same vs. Ivanovic. As her nervous dad watched from the stands, the qualifier fell behind 15/40 after a poorly executed drop shot failed to even get close to making it over the net. But she forced her way back into the game, firing an ace to reach deuce. After a double-fault and a slammed racket, she did it again. Another big serve produced an Ivanovic error and it was deuce once more. A big wide serve and shot behind the AnaIvo gave Alexandrova a MP... and you could sort of forecast what was going to happen next (at least I did) -- an ace up the "T" that made Ivanovic a runaway soon-to-be bride as the Hordette crashed her party and finished off a 6-2/7-5 win that took just 1:10 to complete.



Alexandrova led Ivanovic 19-9 in winners and fired six aces (with, as would seem to be her pattern, also six DF) on the day. Wimbledon has often been the host to breakout performances in which players make their first big stage splash, from Jennifer Capriati (1991) and Anna Kournikova (1997) to Jelena Dokic (1999), Maria Sharapova (2004) and, somewhat, most recently Garbine Muguruza (2015). Could Alexandrova be the next to add her name to the list? She'll face Anna-Lena Friedsam next, with the likes of easy-slam-success-adverse Karolina Pliskova and is-she-REALLY-healthy-or-is-she-not? Angelique Kerber possibly down the line.

While the qualifier has her first career slam MD victory, this is Ivanovic's second 1st Round loss at SW19, but her first since 2010. She's fallen in her opening match at three of her last seven majors. She'll get -- and got -- all the headlines after this match.

But it's Alexandrova who's deserving of the attention.

No matter what happens next for her, at least the Russian rid us of having to do the AnaIvo dance at this Wimbledon for any longer than necessary. Plus, hey, without Vika in London, SOMEONE had to wear the white shorts, right? So far, they're a good fit.




=DAY 1 NOTES=
...Venus Williams was playing in grand slam finals when Donna Vekic was in diapers. Literally. Her first major final was at the 1997 U.S. Open when the Croat was fourteen months old. The 36-year old, the most senior player in the draw, used all of that experience against the 19-year old today to prevent what was a very tight match from getting sticky and infringing upon her chances to do something special at this Wimbledon.

I mean, other than tying Amy Frazier's professional tennis record with her 71st career appearance in a grand slam main draw. She did that just by showing up today.



Vekic, while still a teenager, is a former WTA singles title winner (though it was two years ago now). But she's won just two main draw matches in 2016 and fallen outside the Top 100 (#112). This season, her twentieth on tour, Venus has won a title (her third since last October), returned to the Top 10 and put up her best Roland Garros result (4th Rd.) since 2010. Vekic played well today, taking a lead in the 1st and twice serving for the set. After not challenging the call on her DF (the ball was good and would have given her a 40/love lead), the Croat nonetheless still held two SP on serve in game #12. But Williams, who'd raised her game in the closing moments of the set, secured the break and took things to a tie-break. She jumped out to a 4-0 lead and won it 7-3.

Vekic didn't wilt in the 2nd set, but could never quite get the moment back. Venus won her 77th career Wimbledon match 7-6(3)/6-4.




...it didn't take long for the First Winner of the fortnight to be uncovered on Day 1. In fact, the clues were there just a few seconds into the start of play.



In just fifty-one minutes, #29 Daria Kasatkina made her presence felt in her Wimbledon MD debut by taking the first eight games of the match against Vicky Duval, playing in just her fourth match of the year as she continues her comeback attempt from Hodgkin's lymphoma. As the 19-year old Hordette tried to serve out the match at 6-0/5-4, things got a little hairy as she was broken at love. But Kasatkina immediately broke back and then served for the 2nd Round once more, taking a 40/love lead and closing things out on her second MP for a 6-0/7-5 win to secure her first EVER career grass win. She outdistanced Duval 23-8 in winners.



And so the Fear is officially real at SW19.




...not long after Kasatkina became the first winner of this Wimbledon, the first seed fell in just the third completed match of the day as 2016 clay court achiever Irina-Camelia Begu looked rather out of it in proving that grass is maybe not her most favored surface (though she reached the 3rd Rd. last year -- so maybe she's finally feeling the effects of an overworked spring schedule?), falling to Carina Witthoeft 6-1/6-4 as the German notched her first career Wimbledon match victory.



...former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, having a forgettable year but still a threat on this surface and especially at this tournament, was close behind Kasatkina in the First Win hunt today against RG quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers. Overpowering the Bannerette, the German won 6-1/6-3 in fifty-nine minutes, firing nine aces in a match characterized by short points. She served notice right from the start, winning her opening service game in FIFTY-TWO SECONDS with three aces and a service winner down the "T."

Meanwhile, with Victoria Azarenka absent with a knee injury, Olga Govortsova carried most of Belarus' hopes into this Wimbledon. And she had reason to believe, too, as she reached her first career slam Round of 16 at SW19 a year ago. But today against Lara Arruabarrena she got off to a very slow start, dropping the opening set 6-1 and then firing back-to-back DF to break herself in the opening game of the 2nd. But she soon righted herself and won six straight games to send things to a 3rd. Govortsova fell down an early break there, as well, but battled to get back on serve and go up a break at 3-2. But the Spaniard leveled the set and things carried on. Govortsova saved a MP at 5-4, but after falling down love/40 on serve in game #14 it was finally a bridge to far. Arruabarrena won on MP #3 with a backhand winner to reach the Wimbledon 2nd Round for the second straight year. Arruabarrena edged Govortsova by just two points (99-97) on the day, as the Belarusian threw in 42 winners (but w/ 41 errors, as well) in a match in which she found herself scrambling pretty much from the start.

...in a truly unfortunate 1st Round match, doubles partners/besties #28 Lucie Safarova (still coming back from illness and an inevitable loss of form and stamina>) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (returning from a broken thumb) faced off in singles. It turned out to be a seesaw affair in which neither really wanted to show TOO MUCH how much they wanted to win.

In the 1st, Safarova led 3-1, then 5-4 in the tie-break, only to see BMS steal it by a 9-7 score. In the 2nd, Mattek-Sands raced off to a 5-2 lead, served at 5-3 and held a MP at 5-4. But the Czech, defending a Round of 16 result from last year's Wimbledon, survived and won the 2nd in a 7-3 TB. The Bannerette again took the lead in the 3rd. Mattek-Sands held a second MP at 5-3, then another on serve at 5-4. But they went by the wayside, too, as Safarova knotted things at 5-5. Up 6-5 on return, Safarova finally reached her first (and only) MP in the 2:48 match, closing out a 6-7(7)/7-6(3)/7-5 by-the-skin-of-her-teeth victory with forehand winner.

No hard feelings, though. After all, these two still have work to do together no matter how long Safarova's singles journey lasts at this slam.



...RG champ and '15 SW19 finalist Garbine Muguruza returned to action today in a high-quality match (that seems to be a running theme w/ so many of her matches, win or lose, in '16) in a Centre Court meeting with Camila Giorgi. After the Spaniard took the 1st 6-2, the hard-hitting match grew seriously tight in the 2nd set, with Giorgi holding a set point at 5-4 (Muguruza saved it by winning a baseline groundstroke battle) before converting on her second chance two games later to take the set 7-5.

Muguruza began to slowly pull away in the 3rd, serving for the match at 5-4. She held at love, with a frustrated Giorgi committing four straight errors. But that didn't characterize the entire match, as the 6-2/5-7/6-4 win for Muguruza included both woman battling shoulder-to-shoulder in the winner column on the stat sheet. Garbi ultimately won 30-29, evening out her error total (30, to Giorgi's 42). Muguruza had 7 aces to six DF, while the Italian's 1-to-8 ratio was more problematic.

A loss from the latest first-time slam champ would have raised eyebrows, even with the toughness of the opponent, but so far, so good for the WTA's latest player to step into the "new star" spotlight.



...elsewhere, Birmingham champ Madison Keys took care of business vs. Laura Siegemund, winning 6-3/6-1. The still newly-minted Top 10er reached the final eight at the AELTC a year ago.



Samantha Crawford got a straight sets win over qualifier Paula Kania, the first MD victory at a major in her career. The Bannerette is back after six weeks in a cast after falling and breaking her hand in Charleston.

...a good start on Day 1 for Simona Halep, as she totally bypassed the trail that straddles The Cliffs on Monday. Well, except for one very brief off-the-marked-path moment in the final game of the 1st set... perhaps she saw a shiny pebble and had to investigate. Of course, she had reason to feel good about facing her opening round opponent, the hard-luck-and-falling-even-harder Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. The Slovak came in having lost fourteen straight WTA/WTA 125 Series matches (at least she's 2-1 in Fed Cup), and was 1-15 on the season with all but one of those losses coming in straight sets.

Halep took a 3-1 lead in the 1st, and served for the set at 5-4. Things got stuck in neutral for a while, as it almost made you wonder if Simona might be taking that "advice" about losing the 1st set to Schmiedlova, considering the only set she's won in all her WTA losses this year came in the 1st Round in Paris to Garbine Muguruza, who then went on to take the RG title. A big service return from AKS saved set point #1. On SP #2, the Slovak's forehand winner did the same. A Halep backhand error seemed to have given the Slovak a break point a few moments later, but she successfully challenged the "out" line call and got it overturned. Still, Schmiedlova saved a third SP with a volley winner, but Halep claimed the 1st with an AKS backhand error. The Romanian grabbed an early break in the 2nd and raced to a 6-4/6-1 win in 1:05, advancing to the 2nd Round a year after being upset in the 1st last year by Jana Cepelova.

As for Schmiedlova, well, now it's fifteen straight non-FC losses, and a 1-16 mark on the year. Ouch. Poor Schmiedy. She's STILL a Top 40 player. But not for much longer.

...meanwhile, RG semifinalist Kiki Bertens (now a #26 seed) seemed to have no trouble with that calf injury, and had even less with the usually-volatile (or hilarious, depending on your angle) Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian teen, the '14 Wimbledon junior champ, jumped out to a 3-1 lead against the Dutch woman today, but that was pretty much where it ended. Bertens won five straight games to claim the set, then finished Ostapenko off by winning eleven of thirteen games in a 6-3/6-2, far-easier-than-anticipated, victory, just the second of Bertens' Wimbledon career, and first since 2012.



Five years after losing to the Brit in the 1st Round of Wimbledon, in what would turn out to be VERY different stages of their respective careers (and a match that almost served as a ships-passing-in-the-daylight moment), Angelique Kerber returned the favor by quickly dispatching Laura Robson today by a 6-2/6-2 score in 1:09. While the two were equal in winners (15-15), the Crumpet's unforced error total dwarfed that of the German (32-7).

...late in the day, Marina Erakovic became the fourth qualifier to advance on Monday with a 4-6/6-3/10-8 win over Irina Falconi. On Court 14, the New Zealander led 4-2 in the 3rd set, only to see the Bannerette win three straight games to lead 5-4. She held a MP in game #10, but failed to convert. Erakovic got the break of serve to go up 9-8, then served out the match. It's the 28-year old's first slam MD win since the 2014 U.S. Open, and her first in London since 2013, when she reached the third round (her most recent of three career 3rd Round results in majors).

...and then we had a Pliskova. Pick one, any one. In this case, #17-seed Karolina vs. Yanina Wickmayer.

At the two previous slams this season, her twin sister Kristyna fell in a pair of 9-7 3rd sets in matches that began in daylight but didn't wrap up until the early evening. In Melbourne, she hit 31 aces and held five MP vs. Monica Puig before losing their 2nd Round encounter; and in Paris, she fell to Teliana Pereira in the 1st Round despite fifteen aces, finally tiring in a break-fest of closing games in cold and dark conditions.

A year ago, Kristyna (a former junior Wimbledon champ) actually outlasted Karolina in the Wimbledon draw, reaching the 3rd Round while Karolina fell in the 2nd. The result still ties the siblings with BOTH their best slam results being 3rd Rounds. Which is fine, except for the fact that Karolina is a recent Top 10 player, a winner of five career tour singles titles and with a history of Fed Cup (near)-brilliance. Kristyna, to date, had done NONE of those things.

Karolina has just got a grand slam block, and she really needs to GET OVER IT at this Wimbledon. After being ousted in Paris in the 1st Round, she rebounded on the grass, quite possibly being the best performer over the last three weeks, with a singles title in Nottingham, doubles crown in Birmingham and singles final in Eastbourne(ham). Last time, I promise. But her sorry state of slam affairs, for a player of her statue, arrived with her at SW19, where she's put up 1st-2nd-2nd-2nd results during her career, giving her seven 1st Round, six 2nd Round and three 3rd Round demises over the course of her slam career.

Keeping up with the recent family tradition, Karolina engaged in a late-in-the-day match on Monday that turned out to be the final women's match to finish. Things started off well, with her winning the 1st set 6-2. But then as Wickmayer turned up the emotion and aggression in the 2nd, Pliskova (tiring, mentally and physically, after a busy long grass season, or just slow to realize this was a slam rather than a Premier or International level event?) just went away for a while. Wickmayer took the 2nd at love.

Pliskova righted herself in the 3rd, but failed to convert a BP at 2-2 when she netted what seemed to be a fairly routine backhand crosscourt return. But Wickmayer, almost desperately, suddenly began to go for too much in her game. It worked in the Czech's favor, as she got a break for 4-3, seized what appeared to be complete momentum, took a 5-3 lead and served for the match at 5-4. But right when she needed to bear down, Pliskova appeared to "double-clutch" and was once again tentative (much like Kristyna vs. Puig, as even with all those aces in Melbourne her serve was pretty average down the stretch when she really needed it). Wickmayer put away a BP with a forehand winner to tie things at 5-5 and ultimately won a third straight game to take a 6-5 lead.

In game #13 of the 3rd, Pliskova reached double BP on the Waffle's serve, but failed to convert either chance. The feeling here was that if she failed to get the break the match was probably going to be over one game later. Wickmayer ultimately held three game points, but Pliskova's big forehand return winner gave her a third BP chance. The Belgian aced her up the middle. BP #4 was there for the taking, though, and when Wickmayer netted a half-volley Pliskova, having been given a reprieve from living yet another chapter in her nightmarish grand slam history, was once again serving for the match at 7-6.

Finally, she played a steady game, pounding balls deep in the court. She even let out a rare shout of celebration and a clenched fist -- not as rare as a strong mental game from AnaIvo, but hardly a common occurrence, so you knew she was in it -- as a Wickmayer shot went wide to give the Czech a 30/15 lead. On MP, Wickmayer failed to dig out a forehand off the baseline and Pliskova won 6-2/0-6/8-6 as the clock read nearly 9 p.m.. The three-set match lasted only 1:39, but :54 of that came in the 3rd set alone.

So, one Pliskova disaster avoided. Now Kristyna arrives on the schedule tomorrow vs. big-hitting lucky loser Duan Yingying.

The lower-ranked Pliskova sister, currently at #107 after a career-high of #83 in April, probably has the more lethal serve of the twins. But it's more inconsistent. Sometimes, she has something of an "Ivo/Isner" vibe about her when she plays. Karolina leads the tour in aces this season, but has played over thirty matches to get her 250+ total. In fact, all of the Top 10 in that stat in '16 have played at least 28 MD matches. Save for one. Kristyna. She's #6 on the list, but with just thirteen MD matches being counted in the total.



LIKE ON DAY 1: Having Vicky back, even if only for a day.



LIKE ON DAY 1: A victorious Francesca!




DISLIKE ON DAY 1: Wimbledon Radio can't carry Radio Roland Garros' racket bag. Not shockingly, I suppose, especially when a major match isn't taking place on Centre Court, it often seems to be more concerned with talking about how great Wimbledon itself is, or interviewing fans who say the same, than, you know, actually calling tennis matches. An example:



Would someone REALLY say that waiting in line for hours is what makes Wimbledon "special?"

Anyway, rather than pat oneself on the back, I don't know, how about talking about some matches? ESPN actually had more match coverage early on on Day 1, and it didn't even come on the regular network until play had already been going on for half an hour.

While the commentators provided match calls from all over the grounds in Paris, WR seems to believe that only matches on Centre Court or Court 1 (which have dedicated feeds) are worthy of consistent play-by-play treatment.

It's not bad in a pinch, I suppose, but hardly worth seeking out, considering it has about 20% (being very generous) of RRG's entertainment factor.

LIKE ON DAY 1: When the familiar curl appears on the edges of a Backspinner's mouth. And it always does.



GET-TO-KNOW-HER-WHILE-YOU-CAN ON DAY 1: Since she probably won't be around for too long on Day 2. Nothing against her, it's just a likely fact.



SI DOING ESPN'S WORK FOR IT ON DAY 1:



LIKE ON DAY 1: Hopefully she'll enjoy her SW19 mood while it lasts (since it might not be long).



LIKE ON DAY 1: Qualifier Maria Sakkari's all-in celebrations. After having never played on grass before last week, she's now won four matches and stands a good chance to climb into the Top 100 for the first time following her win today over Zheng Saisai.


LIKE ON DAY 1: Memo to Sania: "If we lose early again, I've got my next partner ready to go... as long as his water dish is always full." - Martina



MEMO TO THE PLISKOVA/WICKMAYER COMMENTATORS ON DAY 1: When you talk about Pliskova having the advantage in the match because she has so much more big stage "experience" than Wickmayer, you might want to note that the only player in that match with a slam semifinal (not to mention four more Round of 16's) was the Waffle, not the Maiden. I'm just sayin'.

LIKE ON DAY 1: Sveta Day!



HOLD-ONTO-YOUR-WIGS-AND-KEYS ON DAY 1: One Pliskova down (and through), one to go. Maybe.

????

A photo posted by Kristyna Pliskova (@kristynapliskova) on



FAIR WARNING ON DAY 1: She's almost here. You've been warned.



...and, finally... well, I should have known not to go with that gut feeling about Margarita Gasparyan reaching the Round of 16. Even yesterday, I wrote that it was "a Russian hunch likely killed off quickly this week," but even I didn't expect her to fall in the 1st set while taking a split step today in her match against Denisa Allertova, with her feet sliding on the grass and the Russian terribly twisting her knee. She played a bit longer, but eventually retired down 6-3/3-0. Sorry, Margarita. Ummm, you don't think...? Nah. (That can't happen until Day 3... right?) Then again...



Hmmm... Rad Threat Level: Concern. But it's only precautionary. For now.















Credentials...??

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on





*WIMBLEDON "FIRST SEED OUT"*
2005 #10 Patty Schnyder, SUI (lost to Ant.Serra-Zanetta/ITA)
2006 #28 Sofia Arvidsson, SWE (lost to Birnerova/CZE)
2007 #30 Olga Puchkova, RUS (lost to Vesnina/RUS)
2008 #30 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK (lost to J.Zheng/CHN)
2009 #23 Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN (lost to Schiavone/ITA)
2010 #5 Francesca Schiavone ITA (lost to Dushevina/RUS)
2011 #22 Shahar Peer, ISR (lost to Pervak/RUS)
2012 #16 Flavia Pennetta, ITA (lost to Giorgi/ITA)
2013 #5 Sara Errani, ITA (lost to Puig/PUR)
2014 #17 Samantha Stosur, AUS (lost to Wickmayer/BEL)
2015 #24 Flavia Pennetta, ITA (lost to Diyas/KAZ)
2016 #25 Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (lost to Witthoeft/GER)

*WIMBLEDON "FIRST WINNER OF FORTNIGHT"*
2009 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS (def. Cetkovska/CZE)
2010 Chan Yung-Jan/TPE (def. Schnyder/SUI)
2011 Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN (def. O'Brien/GBR)
2012 Samantha Stosur/AUS (def. Suarez-Navarro/ESP)
2013 Lesia Tsurenko/UKR (def. Arruabarrena/ESP)
2014 Elena Vesnina/RUS (def. Mayr-Achleitner/AUT)
2015 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (def. Kontaveit/EST)
2016 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA)




TOP QUALIFIER: Mandy Minella/LUX
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): xx
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #7 Tamira Paszek/AUT d. Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 6-3/5-7/10-9 ret. (Paszek MP in 2nd, ankle injury; Paszek up 5-3 3rd; Hlavackova ret. w/ cramps, collapses onto back after match)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): xx
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): xx
=============================
FIRST WINNER: #29 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA in :51)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
UPSET QUEENS: xx
REVELATION LADIES: xx
NATION OF POOR SOULS: xx
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Day 1 wins: M.Sakkari/GRE, J.Cepelova/SVK, E.Alexandrova/RUS, M.Erakovic/NZL
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Day 1 wins: xx
LAST BRIT STANDING: Day 1 wins: xx
IT ("??"): xx
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: xx
COMEBACK: xx
CRASH & BURN: xx
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): Nominees: #28 Safarova (1st Rd. - down 7-6/5-2, 5-3 in 3rd and saved 3 MP vs. Mattek-Sands); (Q) Erakovic (saved MP vs. Falconi in 1st Rd.; won 10-8 3rd set)
THE RADWANSKA AWARD (June 26 official/Day 3 observed): TBA Day 3
DOUBLES STAR: xx
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): xx
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: xx





All for Day 1. More tomorrow.

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