AO 6.5 - Lists-a-Palooza!
*2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN'S FINAL 16*
#1 - Angelique Kerber
#2 - Serena Williams
#5 - Karolina Pliskova
#7 - Garbine Muguruza
#9 - Johanna Konta
#10 - Svetlana Kuznetsova
#16 - Barbora Strycova
#17 - Venus Williams
#26 - Dasha Gavrilova
#27 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
#34 - Ekaterina Makarova
#35 - CoCo Vandeweghe
#78 - Sorana Cirstea
#79 - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
#116 - Jennifer Brady
#181 - Mona Barthel
4...United States (Brady,Vandeweghe,S.Williams,V.Williams)
2...Czech Republic (Ka.Pliskova,Strycova)
1...Great Britain (Konta)
[by career slam Round-of-16's]
55 - Serena Williams
47 - Venus Williams
30 - Svetlana Kuznetsova
14 - Angelique Kerber
14 - Ekaterina Makarova
7 - Garbine Muguruza
5 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
4 - Johanna Konta
3 - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
3 - Barbora Strycova
3 - CoCo Vandeweghe
2 - Sorana Cirstea
2 - Dasha Gavrilova
2 - Karolina Pliskova
1 - Mona Barthel
1 - Jennifer Brady
[w/ consecutive slam Round of 16's]
[by career AO Round of 16's]
[w/ consecutive AO Round of 16's]
6...Serena Williams (last 10 appearances, DNP '11)
=Tiers: Green 1-3, Blue 4-13, Pink 14-21, Orange 22-32,
Red 33-37, Purple 38-45, White 46-50, Missed List (5)=
2 - Angelique Kerber
3 - Karolina Pliskova
11 - Garbine Muguruza
12 - Venus Williams
17 - Johanna Konta
19 - Svetlana Kuznetsova
25 - Dasha Gavrilova
26 - Barbora Strycova
31 - CoCo Vandeweghe
32 - Ekaterina Makarova
Missed List - none
Unlisted - Mona Barthel
Unlisted - Jennifer Brady
Unlisted - Sorana Cirstea
Unlisted - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Unlisted - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
(Argh! The Pavlyuchenkova Conundrum continues!)
[WTA slam Round of 16's since 2010 - active]
=NIGHT 6 NOTES=
...in the women's matches contested during Night 6's exceedingly late evening session, "The Dasha Show: The Sequel" saw its run extended yet another round as #22 Gavrilova thrilled the Australian crowd on Laver for yet another episode by eliminating #12-seed Timea Bacsinszky 6-3/5-7/6-4. It's Gavrilova's fifth straight three-set match at the last two AO.
The Swiss had forced a deciding set after dropping serve and losing her 2nd set lead as Gavrilova knotted things at 5-5, but Bacsinszky then immediately broke back and served out the set. Again keeping her emotional tendencies contained and using them for good, Gavrilova took an early lead in the 3rd. Things got a tad tight late, as Gavrilova held two MP at 5-2 before Bacsinszky forced her to take a bit longer before she could match her breakthrough Melbourne 4th Round result from a year ago with another in '17.
Gavrilova's exuberant celebration, and long and loud yell, signified that she's now carried herself over the biggest obstacle that'd been placed before her coming into Melbourne -- proving that '16 wasn't a flukey, emotion-driven, one-time thing.
She's now the Last Aussie Standing in singles. Female, or male.
...the more noteworthy women's match of the night, though, may have been the one that was taking place simultaneously on MCA between #5 Karolina Pliskova and the last teenager left in the draw, Jelena Ostapenko.
Pliskova wasn't in quite the fine form that she's been in thus far in '17 here, but much of that might have been because the young Latvian was controlling the rallies in the match with her power as she moved Karolina back and forth along the baseline. Ostapenko took an early break and held onto it, serving out a 6-4 set. It seemed as if it'd be a hiccup, though, for the Czech, who got her serve working in the 2nd set and put it away at love.
But the 3rd saw Ostapenko return to her 1st set form. She did just about all that she could to put herself in position for her first big slam breakout, though she'd already posted her best-ever result simply by reaching the 3rd Round. Dragging Pliskova to both sides, Ostapenko went up a double break and served for the match at 5-2. Could she hold it together and finish off the Czech?
It should be noted, though, that at this time last year, Pliskova hadn't advanced to a slam Round of 16, either. This slam, and this match, hold much importance for her, too. Her run to the U.S. Open final last summer, with wins over both Venus and Serena, makes it easy to forget that she's never been in the position that she finds herself in this slam, as a favorite placed in big slots on the schedule, on the big courts in matches that she's EXPECTED to win, no matter the level of competition.
So what happened in the second half of the 3rd set could prove to be VERY big when it comes to Pliskova's immediate future. Getting run in the first week of a slam after having changed the narrative of her entire career over the past year would have put the questions regarding her past slam difficulties immediately back in the lead paragraph in any discussion of the Czech, while backing up that Flushing Meadows result might only make the unwavering focus that guided her in New York that much stronger from here on out.
As it turned out, how Pliskova managed to win this match may have just made her career. Champions have to learn how to win big matches vs. good opponents when they're not playing their best, and that's just what the twin did here.
With Ostapenko hurrying through her 5-2 serve game, the teenager gave up the break, double-faulting on BP. Two games later, serving at 5-4, Pliskova was forced into a defensive position against Ostapenko's shots, but won a long rally to earn another break when it was the Latvian who ended things with an error. While Pliskova is not close to the likes of Angie Kerber when it comes to playing defense and getting to every ball, she put forth great effort here while trying to hold onto her chances in this match. Finally back even at 5-5, she turned back to her more well-known strengths.
Behind her big serve, Pliskova continually forced Ostapenko's back against the wall in the closing games, routinely holding and then pressuring her opponent to do the same to stay in the match. Ostapenko saved a MP and held for 6-6 in an impressive game that shows that she's getting close to turning the corner and figuring out how to win this sort of a match. But the Czech's service game prowess didn't allow Ostapenko a crack through which she could slip through and grab the advantage that she'd had a few games earlier. Still, the pattern continued. Pliskova would hold, then Ostapenko would, usually far less easily, hold right back.
Finally, in game #18, up 9-8, the Czech held three MP at love/40 on Ostapenko's serve. On the second, the teenager's backhand error ended the 4-6/6-0/10-8 contest.
It was apparent on this night that if Ostapenko can play like this the rest of '17, no matter how tight she got in the clutch here, she's going to fly up the rankings from her current position at #38.
Ostapenko: “My team told me, don’t be pity, be proud of yourself b/c you showed some good tennis today.” #AusOpen— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 21, 2017
For Pliskova, though, who battled against the tide for most of the night before finding a way to successfully assert her authority, this should provide a huge boost to a player whose confidence has grown leaps and bounds since this time last year. She's now, for the most part, backed up her U.S. Open result with her second career slam Round of 16 result, is still the favorite to reach the semis in her quarter (though Gavrilova is going to try to move her around the baseline, too, in the next round, but since she has less power than Ostapenko it might be easier for Pliskova to seize control of rallies in the first few strokes), and now she KNOWS that she can find a way to win even when things are stacked against her.
This could be one of those "Katie, bar the door!" moments when it comes to the remaining line of opponents for the Czech. Pliskova is on the way, and it might be difficult, if not impossible, to stop her from storming inside the WTA's inner circle. If not at this slam, then at another one in the very near future.
AS IT SHOULD BE, I GUESS, ON NIGHT 6: Now, everyone is putting in a Konta claim.
*AO "LAST AUSSIE STANDING" WINNERS*
2008 Casey Dellacqua (4th Rd.)
2009 Jelena Dokic (QF)
2010 Samantha Stosur (4th Rd.)
2011 Samantha Stosur (3rd Rd.)
2012 C.Dellacqua, J.Dokic & O.Rogowska (2nd)
2013 Samantha Stosur (2nd Rd.)
2014 Casey Dellacqua (4th Rd.)
2015 Dellacqua/Gajdosova/Stosur/Tomljanovic (2nd)
2016 Dasha Gavrilova (4th Rd.)
2017 Dasha Gavrilova (in 4th Rd.)
*RECENT AUSTRALIAN WOMEN IN AO ROUND OF 16*
[since 7-round event in '87]
1987 QF - Elizabeth Smylie
1987 4th Rd. - Janine Tremelling
1987 4th Rd. - Wendy Turnbull
1988 QF - Anne Minter
1989 4th Rd. - Nicole Provis
1990 4th Rd. - Rachel McQuillan
1991 4th Rd. - Rachel McQuillan
1993 4th Rd. - Nicole Provis
2003 4th Rd. - Nicole Pratt
2004 4th Rd. - Alicia Molik
2005 QF - Alicia Molik
2006 4th Rd. - Samantha Stosur
2008 4th Rd. - Casey Dellacqua
2009 QF - Jelena Dokic
2010 4th Rd. - Samantha Stosur
2015 4th Rd. - Casey Dellacqua
2016 4th Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova
2017 4th Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova (still alive)
*PLISKOVAS CAREER SLAM RESULTS*
0 / 0 - W
1 / 0 - RU [Karolina best: 16 US]
0 / 0 - SF
0 / 0 - QF
0 / 0 - 4th Rd. * - Karolina in '17 AO
3 / 2 - 3rd Rd. [Kristyna best: 15 WI/17 AO]
7 / 4 - 2nd Rd.
7 / 7 - 1st Rd.
7 / 13 - lost in qualifying
*"PLISKOVA SLAM STAKES" WINS*
16 - Karolina best twin result (w/ '17 AO)
6 - Kristyna best twin result
4 - same result
1 - both didn't play = 2011 Wimbledon
Karolina SLAM MD W/L TOTAL: 22-18 (post-3rd Rd.)
Kristyna SLAM MD W/L TOTAL: 8-13 (post-'17 AO)
Karolina SLAM Q W/L TOTAL: 2-7
Kristyna SLAM Q W/L TOTAL: 7-13
Karolina WTA SINGLES TITLES: 7
Kristyna WTA SINGLES TITLES: 1