Sunday, September 01, 2013

US 7.5 - Boo Rad (& Li)

There were no mockingbirds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sunday night (well, unless you count the loudmouths in the Ashe stands, I guess). But there certainly was an expert instructional given on how to "kill" an opponent on the tennis court by Li Na.

Tennis Gods save Queen Chaos.

After #5 seed Li's swift 6-3/6-0 destruction of #9 Jelena Jankovic to close out the action of Day 7 -- at around 10:15 p.m.! -- the Chinese veteran theorized that it might have been the best match she ever played. She might be right, too.

JJ could likely attest to it, for she was never in this match, as Li's mid-season "boot camp" with coach Carlos Rodriguez in order to help her catch a second wind in the back half of the season is looking more and more like a thing of genius with every round at this U.S. Open. Li has yet to drop a set, and really didn't even come close to doing so tonight. She quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead in the 1st set, going up two breaks and losing just two points. At times, she even resembled Rodriguez's former protege, one Justine Henin, serve and volleying on game point for 4-2, and later putting together a volley and fade-away overhead that was postively La Petit Taureau-esque. Li showed an ultra-aggression combined with, as Martina Navratilova noted on Tennis Channel, an ability to actually MAKE the shots, making the tactic that much more effective.

In the 2nd set, Li again went up 3-0... well, then again, maybe not. On what appeared to be her sixteenth straight point won, Li held at love to win a third straight game to open the set, and she and Jankovic went to their seats for the changeover. Meanwhile, JJ had routinely challenged the shot and, lo and behold, it was actually overturned by replay. So, both had to rise up (literally), laugh and go finish the game all over again. Of course, in a true Queen Chaos Moment, Jankovic proceeded to win three straight points and get the game to deuce as Li missed on three straight first serves. But this wasn't QC's night, so Li got the last two points and went up 3-0 for, umm, the third time in the match. She didn't lose another game, and Jankovic won just six points in the set (three of them coming in "OT" of that single game, after the replay).

Yep... Li Na, version 2.0, is looking pretty darn awesome right about now.

=NIGHT 7 NOTES= the other late-starting women's Round of 16 match, this Open's dissimilarity to this summer's Wimbledon was laid bare once again. No, not because a lower seed wasn't able to defeat a higher one -- that DID happen -- but because there will be no Radwanskas in the second week in NYC.

While #3-seed Aga Radwanska took a quick 4-0 lead on #24 Ekaterina Makarova, who despite her affinity for wins over high-ranked opponents had never beaten the Pole, the match was far from over. Of course, it soon would be, though. Just not in the way you might have thought. Rather than A-Rad sweeping through, the Hordette got super aggressive and sent Aga home for the summer. Makarova charged back to win the set at 6-4, and put together an eight-game winning streak. Converting 17 of 30 net approaches (in just 20 games!), she won 6-4/6-4, ending for Radwanska what has been a summer filled with quite a few match wins, but no titles -- and much disappointment -- to show for her efforts.


Li Na. As usual, she was her winning self after her victory. Yeah, it'd been nice if the crowd on Ashe had been a BIT more receptive to her easy humor -- though, I think part of that might have been because of the slightly clumsy interview by TC's Rennae Stubbs, but so be it. Stubbs' cliched-but-enthusiastic , "What did you have for breakfast?" query to begin the on-court talk was quickly countered by Li's, "I mean, you really want to know? Well, I'm not going to tell you" was spot-on stuff from the Chinese vet, and she proved once more to be just as sharp AFTER a match as she was on it tonight.

Her on-set Tennis Channel interview soon afterward was great, as well. There, she credited coach Rodriguez for "saving her marriage" to husband "Dennis," since they just couldn't continue to have him serve as her coach any longer.

Good stuff.

...and, finally, with the Labor Day schedule on tap for Day 8, there are no women's matches scheduled in the Ashe night session. Rafa Nadal will face off with Philipp Kohlschreiber, though.

Hmmm, I wonder if John Isner will be watching?

Meanwhile, things start off (and will end) early tomorrow with Riske/Hantuchova taking place at the same time as Halep/Pennetta AND Giorgi/Vinci, then immediately afterward Azarenka/Ivanovic likely being played simultaneously with a Williams Sisters doubles match on another court. Yeah, even on a holiday, apparently the organizers don't want anyone to be able to focus TOO intently on any -- and certainly not all -- of what remains of the women's Round of 16 matches.

#1 Serena Williams/USA def. #15 Sloane Stephens/USA
#18 Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP def. #8 Angelique Kerber/GER
#24 Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. #3 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL
#5 Li Na/CHN def. #9 Jelena Jankovic/SRB
(Q) Camila Giorgi/ITA vs. #10 Roberta Vinci/ITA
#21 Simona Halep/ROU vs. Flavia Pennetta/ITA
(WC) Alison Riske/USA vs. Daniela Hantuchova/SVK
#13 Ana Ivanovic/SRB vs. #2 Victoria Azarenka/BLR

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. Marcel Granollers/ESP
#21 Mikhail Youzhny/RUS vs. Lleyton Hewitt/AUS
#3 Andy Murray/GBR vs. Denis Istomin/UZB
#9 Stanislas Wawrinka/SUI vs. #5 Tomas Berdych/CZE
#8 Richard Gasquet/FRA vs. #10 Milos Raonic/CAN
#18 Janko Tipsarevic/SRB vs. #4 David Ferrer/ESP
#7 Roger Federer/SUI vs. #10 Tommy Robredo/ESP
#22 Philipp Kohlschreiber/AUT vs. #2 Rafael Nadal/ESP

x/x vs. x/x
#3 Petrova/Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) vs. x/x
#10 Mirza/J.Zheng (IND/CHN) vs. x/x
#8 Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) vs. x/x

#1 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) vs. #12 Fleming/Marray (GBR/GBR)
#4 Paes/Stepanek (IND/CZE) vs. x/x
x/x vs. x/x
J.Murray/Peers (GBR/AUS) vs. x/x

Hradecka/Cermak (CZE/CZE) vs. #5 Medina-Garrigues/Soares (ESP/BRA)
Spears/S.Gonzalez (USA/MEX) vs. #8 Huber/Melo (USA/BRA)
#7 Hlavackova/Mirnyi (CZE/BLR) vs. #4 Peschke/Matkowski (CZE/POL)
H-C.Chan/Emmrich (TPE/GER) vs. Mladenovic/Nestor (FRA/CAN)

All for now. More soon.


Blogger Eric said...

I don't really feel like Serena and Sloane are being insincere in their comments about each other. They might not like each other, but there's respect there (and finally some professionalism). Maybe it's just me. And I feel like Serena has been embracing the elder stateswoman role more and more lately. And while she doesn't want to lose to Sloane, I think that Serena recognizes that Sloane is an asset to the game. Those words felt sincere to me at least.


Re: Sloane. I'm glad she's a diva. It will drive her to have a successful career.

I feel like we're watching a modern version of Steffi Graf's game. Sloane's forehands are just something else.

Sometimes I felt like her killer forehand actually made Serena's game feel antiquated. LIke why play measured tennis if you can just kill the ball? And her serve down the T isn't just's sneaky. Does she quick serve it? I need to see a replay.

Mon Sep 02, 03:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


DId you see the piece on Serena that was narrated by Kelly Rowland? I really like how she said that Serena was "hard to define" and "always a work in progress."

I thought that was kind of perfect.

Mon Sep 02, 03:29:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Maybe Serena is "old" and doesn't realize that Sloane doesn't like her. I mean it happens. "Older" people are less concerned/aware with what other people think of them. Especially Serena.

Or maybe just the older people that I know seem to be that way lol.

Good night.

Mon Sep 02, 03:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

li was so efficient in her game that JJ didn't even get a chance to charm the audience, except that challenge. that's a player in a hurry.

Mon Sep 02, 04:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Karen said...

Eric, if Sloane is going to be a diva, she needs to have some kind of backstory. As it is, she is the highest ranked player in her generation and the one with the least amount of accomplishments, especially on the WTA Tour. With all her big game she still has very lazy footwork and while she was bombing serves yesterday, her return of serve was positively atrocious. When she was all out of ideas she resorted to Wozniacking the ball. She really does need more work

Mon Sep 02, 07:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Karen, that's a useful verb!

Eric, I'm not sure Serena ever cared what anyone thinks of her. I've never cared what anyone thinks of me, and I can't imagine what a burden it must be to care--though most people do! But you're right--if you're going to stop caring, it's likely to come with age.

Mon Sep 02, 09:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Karen, "wozniaking", hilarious! Shall we short form it to "wozzing"? Haha.

Serena clearly not care, when asked about what sloane can improve, she said she is already at the next level. What a load of craps.

Mon Sep 02, 11:02:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think both Serena and Sloane know the drill by now, and what needs to be said after a match in order to get on with things. I think while there is respect there, there's also a paint-by-numbers tone to some of the things they say.

Of course, Serena didn't even use to bother with. She has gotten better about it the last few years, as she's more embraced her role/position on the tour.

Yeah, Stephens needs to at least make a final at some point in order to not be Kournikova-ized at some point, as far as her rep being that she never actually wins anything.

Love the "Wozniacking," Karen!

Meanwhile, trying to keep head from spinning off while following THREE Round of 16 matches at once. Such crazy scheduling, though I was wondered if they were maybe expecting a rain-out later, and that's why they front-loaded everything? Ah, McEnroe just said that... maybe THAT explains it.

Mon Sep 02, 11:43:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Eric -

I liked the B&W of the Serena piece, though it DID almost make it indistinguishable from a Nike ad at times. ;)

Mon Sep 02, 11:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Wow, that rain is really coming down! If that keeps up, it looks like there might not be much laboring going on on Labor Day in Flushing Meadows.

Mon Sep 02, 12:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Rain rain pls stop. It's getting really late over my side here....Vinci raced through and beat both rain and her young compatriot. Giorgi has nice strokes, ultra aggressive type not so usual in Italian tennis?

And with rain interruptions I always wonder , which ones get un upper advantage with momentum swing? Halep, one point to 3rd set, riske, on the way to level up....

Mon Sep 02, 12:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Riske's momentum could be eroded. But, really, I wonder more about how Hantuchova will come out, considering her history and with her having been broken right before the stoppage when she was so close.

I'm sure she was thinking about that the whole time in the locker room.

Mon Sep 02, 01:03:00 PM EDT  

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