Monday, September 02, 2013

US.8 - To Reign in Rain

Oh, for a roof.

Labor Day used to be a great tennis day in America. Now, though, it seems to mostly just be an excuse to show old clips from past U.S. Opens as the rain ALWAYS seems to intrude. While seeing the old stuff is great fun -- as it was today -- it'll still be the greatest moment in the history of this tournament (all right, maybe that's an overstatement... but you get the idea) when there are multiple roofed stadiums on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Play. Will. Go. On.

Yep, we really DO need that time machine. Especially Victoria Azarenka, whose match with Ana Ivanovic was cancelled after the four-plus hour delay (though it surely seemed like it could have been rescheduled for a different court, or put on the nighttime docket), leaving it as the only women's Round of 16 match yet to be completed.

Oh, well... Vika has overcome far greater obstacles at previous grand slams. She can do so again.

...the only one of the three scheduled-for-11 a.m. women's Round of 16 matches to actually be completed before the rain was a match-up of two of the three Italians remaining in the draw. There, qualifier Camila Giorgi continued her momentum from her Ashe night match win over #6 Caroline Wozniacki, tossing in aces and breaking #10 Roberta Vinci for a 3-1 lead in the 1st. She led 4-1, but then her veteran countrywoman began to assert control.

Vinci closed to 4-3, then Giorgi fell behind 15/40 in Game #8. A double-fault put things back on serve, and her mop top dad was destined to not be nearly as active in the stands as he was the other night. Vinci won her fifth consecutive game to take the set at 6-4, then raced to a 3-1 lead in the 2nd as the pressure of the moment -- and maybe playing against another Italian, especially one with a very different game than the more "user-friendly" one the Dane put forth the other night -- began to show signs of feeling the pressure.

Still, Giorgi saved one match point and held for 5-2, but then Vinci served out the match just as the first drops of precipitation were beginning to fall, winning 6-4/6-2 to reach her second straight U.S. Open quarterfinal.

...for a few brief moments, Daniela Hantuchova probably thought that she, too, might be able to beat the rain.

Earlier this summer, Hantuchova defeated wild card American Alison Riske on her (former?) favorite surface -- grass -- in the semifinals in Birmingham en route to the Slovak vet taking the title to complete a "career surface slam." Hantuchova took the 1st set at 6-3 and was up a break near the end of the 2nd, leading 4-3. But Riske rose up just in time, breaking serve at love to knot things at 4-4 before the rain delay. What with Hantuchova's career-long history of mental questionability when it comes to handling pressure situations, the thought was that such a poor ending to play before the stoppage was going to play havoc with her psyche, even after she'd managed to come back from a set and 5-2 (and four match points down) deficit against qualifier Julia Glushko in the 3rd Round.

Right on cue, Hantuchova continued her skid as play began four hours later. Riske held serve at love and extended her points won streak to ten before Hantuchova got her footing and held serve for 5-5. With the American bouncing around, fist-clenching and brimming with positivity, the Slovak served to force a 2nd set tie-break. Riske went up 30/love, then successfully challenged a line call that had given Hantuchova a point via an ace. Given another opportunity with a "do-over" of the point, Riske put away an overhead winner and went up 40/love, then went on to get the break and take the set at 7-5 to knot the contest.

In the 3rd, in a virtual battle to determine this Open's "Zombie Queen" (and, according to Galileo West on ATP Backspin, maybe become engaged to marry Marcel Granollers?), it was the veteran whose experience -- replicating the good, not the bad, from her career -- pulled her through. Hantuchova got an early break for 2-1, then held in a tight service game for 4-2. With momentum on her side, the Slovak got another break to go up 5-2, then began the eighth game of the 3rd set with an ace. She ended it with one, as well, putting in #15 for the match and winning 6-3/5-7/6-2.

Hantuchova came in with five consecutive 1st Round slam losses (hope for Nadia in 2014??), and will now play in her second career U.S. Open quarterfinal, but the first since just her second appearance in a Flushing Meadows draw back in 2002.

...Flavia Pennetta quickly jumped on Romanian Summer Superstar Simona Halep in their Round of 16er, taking an early 3-1 lead and coasting to a 6-2 1st set win. The Italian vet saved two break points to hold for 2-1 early in the 2nd, but #21 Halep stayed strong, getting her first break of serve in the match to take a 5-4 lead and serving and getting to set point... right before play was suspended due to the torrential downpours.

The Romanian would now like to file some sort of lawsuit against Mother Nature, I think.

When play resumed, Halep's serve was broken for 5-5. Two games later, after getting another break of Pennetta's serve, she served for the set again. Once more, she was broken. In the deciding 2nd set tie-break, Halep went up a mini-break at 1-0, but then immediately gave the advantage back on the next point. She smacked her racket on the court... and then went on to lose five more points in a row, as Pennetta stood at quadruple match point. Of course, Pennetta would never consider this a "given" win. No, not her. And especially not at Flushing Meadows.

In 2009, she saved six match points and went on to defeat Vera Zvonareva in a Round of 16 match in NYC to reach her second career U.S. Open quarterfinal. In 2011, ill and nearly vomiting on court, the Italian served for a Round of 16 match at 6-4/6-5, 30/love against Peng Shuai, only to make an error on a match point, get broken and fall behind 5-0 and 6-2 in the 2nd set tie-break. She saved four set points and went on to take the match in straights by winning the breaker 8-6 to reach her third U.S. Open quarterfinal.

Today, Pennetta missed on a drop shot attempt on match point #1, and actually dropped back-to-back MP. But history wasn't going to be turned back on her. She won the breaker 7-3, and the match 6-2/7-6 to reach her fourth career U.S. Open quarterfinal, while Halep will be left to ponder just her fourth loss in her last thirty-five matches this summer... and maybe what-might-have-been for her at this slam.

Pennetta will face Vinci next, meaning that an Italian will reach the Open semis for a second straight year (Errani '12).

...the aforementioned Galileo has done a "Halfway Awards" report for the men's side of the Open over at ATP Backspin.


the long rain delay did enable a series of great old tie-breaks to be aired during CBS's coverage today. From 1997's Venus/Spirlea (alas, minus "The Bump"), 1986's Navratilova/Graf (with a very young-sounding Pammy Commentator in tow) and 1991's Connors/Kricksten.

Speaking of which, with all the extra time, I updated and re-posted the Backspin Time Capsule centering on Connors' 1991 semifinal run at the Open... extending what is quickly becoming a Backspin tradition at this time of the year.

...and, finally, while everyone was paying attention to Flushing Meadows, there were still ITF events taking place around the globe last week, so there are a few awards to dispense for Week 35.

"ITF Player of the Week" honors go to Arantxa Rus. The 22-year old from the Netherlands won the $25K event in Fleurus, Belgium when she defeated Diana Marcinkova in the final to complete a 5-0 week. This past week has been one of the few bright spots for Rus in 2013, which has quite simply been a nightmare. She reached the Round of 16 at Roland Garros last year, but it's all been downhill -- and fast -- since then. Earlier this year, she tied a WTA record when she lost her seventeenth straight main draw tour match. She finally ended that losing streak, coming back from 4-2 in the 3rd to defeat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in Bad Gastein. Still, she's got a whole lot of mess to clean up. Rus entered last week as the #290-ranked player in the work, after having ended 2012 at #68.

Elsewhere, Bannerette Bernarda Pera won her second circuit crown of the season in Rotterdam, while Italy's (of course) Gioia Barbieri won a $10K in Bagnatica. The 22-year old, ranked #413 won her second '13 title with victories over Maria Elena Camerin (QF), Alberta Brianti (SF) and Anne Schaefer in the final.

Last week's "Junior Star" is Czech Maiden Barbora Krejcikova. The top seed swept the singles and doubles (w/ Katerina Siniakova) crowns at the Canadian Junior Championships, notching wins over Jelena Ostapenko, Kristina Schmiedlova and #2 seed Siniakova in a three-set final.

#1 Serena Williams/USA vs. #18 Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP
#24 Ekaterina Makarova/RUS vs. #5 Li Na/CHN def.
#10 Roberta Vinci/ITA vs. Flavia Pennetta/ITA
Daniela Hantuchova/SVK vs. #13 Ana Ivanovic/SRB or #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. #5 Hlavackova/Hradecka (CZE/CZE)
#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. #5 Qureshi/Rojer (PAK/NED)
x/x vs. #16 Huey/Inglot (PHI/GBR)
J.Murray/Peers (GBR/AUS) vs. #2 Peya/Soares (AUT/BRA)

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)

[by career slam QF]
37...Serena Williams
10...[ Victoria Azarenka - to play 4r ]
9...Li Na (2 con.)
6...[ Ana Ivanovic - to play 4r ]
5...Daniela Hantuchova
4...Flavia Pennetta
3...Ekaterina Makarova
3...Carla Suarez-Navarro
2...Roberta Vinci
[by career US QF]
11...Serena Williams (6 con. US, absent 1 year)
4...Flavia Pennetta (2 con. US, asent 1 year)
2...Daniela Hantuchova
2...Li Na
2...Roberta Vinci (2 con. US)
1...[ Victoria Azarenka - to play 4r - in 2012 QF ]
1...[ Ana Ivanovic - to play 4r - in 2012 QF ]
1...Ekaterina Makarova
1...Carla Suarez-Navarro
[Most 2013 slam QF]
3...Agnieszka Radwanska,POL - AO,RG,WI
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR - AO,RG (to play 4r)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS - AO,RG
2...Maria Sharapova, RUS - AO,RG
2...Sloane Stephens, USA - AO,WI
[WTA most career slam QF - active]
33...Venus Williams
20...Maria Sharapova
14...Svetlana Kuznetsova
10...VICTORIA AZARENKA (to play 4r)
9...LI NA
9...Nadia Petrova
9...Agnieszka Radwanska
8...Jelena Jankovic
7...Petra Kvitova
7...Francesca Schivone
6... [ANA IVANOVIC - to play 4r ]
[WTA most slam QF since 2010 - active]
8...[ VICTORIA AZARENKA - to play 4r ]
7...Petra Kvitova
7...LI NA
7...Maria Sharapova
6...Agnieszka Radwanska
[2013 slam QF - by nation]
7...Russia (Makarova)
5...United States (S.Williams)
3...China (Li)
3...Italy (Pennetta,Vinci)
2...Belarus (Azarenka to play)
1...Czech Republic
1...Serbia (Ivanovic to play)
1...Slovak Republic (Hantuchova)
1...Spain (Suarez-Navarro)

2008 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2011 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
AO: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
RG: Marion Bartoli, FRA
WI: Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
US: Daniela Hantuchova, SVK

2007 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2008 Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
2012 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
AO: Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
RG: Jelena Jankovic, SRB
WI: Marion Bartoli, FRA
US: Flavia Pennetta, ITA

[since 2001 Wimbledon]
01 US - Bedanova
02 AO - Ad.Serra-Zanetti
02 RG - Pierce,C.Fernandez,Suarez
02 WI - Likhovtseva
02 US - Bovina
03 AO - Shaughnessy,Ruano-Pascual
03 RG - Pierce
04 WI - Sprem
04 US - Asagoe
05 RG - Karatantcheva
06 AO - Hingis(wc)
06 WI - Bremond(q)
07 AO - S.Williams,Safarova [Williams won title]
07 US - Szavay
08 RG - Kanepi,Suarez-Navarro(q)
08 WI - Zheng(wc),Tanasugarn
09 AO - Dokic(wc),Suarez-Navarro
09 RG - Sharapova,Cirstea
09 WI - Lisicki,Schiavone
09 US - Wickmayer,K.Bondarenko,Oudin,Clijsters(wc) [KC won title]
10 AO - Henin(wc) [Henin reached final]
10 RG - Shvedova
10 WI - Kvitova,Kanepi(q),Pironkova
10 US - Cibulkova
11 WI - Lisicki(wc),Paszek
11 US - Kerber
12 AO - Makarova,Errani
12 RG - Shvedova(q)
12 WI - Paszek
13 AO - Kuznetsova
13 RG - Kuznetsova
13 WI - Kanepi
13 US - Hantuchova
13 US - Pennetta

AO: Venus Williams (3rd)
RG: Vania King & Bethanie Mattek-Sands (3rd)
WI: Serena Williams (4th)
US: Serena Williams (RU)
AO: Serena Williams (4th)
RG: Sloane Stephens (4th) & Varvara Lepchenko (4th)
WI: Serena Williams (W)
US: Serena Williams (W)
AO: Sloane Stephens (SF)
RG: Serena Williams (W)
WI: Sloane Stephens (QF)
US: Serena Williams (in QF)

[Monthly/Quarterly winners]
JAN: Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
FEB: Lauren Davis, USA
MAR: Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
APR: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
MAY: Jovana Jaksic, SRB
JUN: Andrea Petkovic, GER
JUL: Polona Hercog, SLO
AUG: Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
[2013 Weekly ITF Player Award Wins]
2...Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
2...Reka-Luca Jani, HUN

TOP QUALIFIER: Michelle Larcher de Brito/POR
Co-TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #1 Serena Williams/USA & #2 Victoria Azarenka/BLR
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Chanel Simmonds/RSA d. (WC) Taylor Townsend/USA 2-6/6-2/7-5
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - (Q) Vicky Duval/USA d. #11 Samantha Stosur/AUS 5-7/6-4/6-4
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF/Doub.): xx
FIRST WINNER: Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP (def. Davis/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #29 Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK (lost to LL Mayr-Achleitner/AUT)
UPSET QUEENS: United States
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Australia [1-4 overall, Stosur out 1st Rd, Rogowska double-bageled, only WC Barty advanced to 2nd Rd.]
CRASH & BURN: #11 Sam Stosur/AUS - '11 champ, lost 1st Rd. to Duval/USA, 17-yr. old qualifier in second career slam match, ranked #296
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Daniela Hantuchova/SVK - 0-5 in last five slams, 3rd Rd. def. (Q) Glushko/ISR, down set and 5-2 and saved four match points
AMG SLAM FUTILITY UPDATE: lost 1st Rd. to Mladenovic/FRA, once again failing to reach a slam QF in her career (so Anna Smashnova still has a buddy)
IT: Nominees: V.Duval/USA, Giorgi/ITA, Suarez-Navarro/ESP
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Nominees: Li/CHN, Vinci/ITA, Makarova/RUS, Ivanovic/SRB, Suarez-Navarro/ESP
BROADWAY-BOUND: Nominees: Giorgi/ITA, Duval/USA, Li/CHN (w/ a one-woman show)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Nominees: S.Williams/USA, Duval/USA, Giorgi/ITA

All for now. More tomorrow.


Blogger Eric said...

something i didn't know: gasquet had only been beyond the 4th round once prior to today...

i would have figured he was a regular QF player...

Mon Sep 02, 11:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

That was a huge win. Gasquet "should" have been doing that kind of thing for a long time.

Eric, do you remember when he used to wear his cap backwards, and someone ran a cartoon of a backwards hat--with no head--running around the court? That said it all.

Tue Sep 03, 12:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


Yes I do!! :) I was actually thinking yesterday that he should keep wearing a cap since his hair is thinning...

But that's neither here nor there...

Tue Sep 03, 01:14:00 PM EDT  

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