Saturday, August 23, 2014

U.Q- The Week Before the Open

The U.S. Open doesn't officially begin until Monday, but celebrations have already begun for the sixteen players who made their way through qualifying over the past week.

Some reacted to their accomplishment with introspection...

While some were just plain ol' happy...

They won't be the last to have such varied responses to what will go on over the next two weeks. But here are the women who've already had a moment in the New York sun...

Q-PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Aleksandra Krunic/SRB (#143)

...the Serbian Good Luck Charm, 21, qualified at her second straight U.S. Open by going 3-0 against what was arguably the toughest string of qualifying opponents faced by any of the sixteen women who advanced. Krunic, the #32 seed, opened up with a win over Petra Martic, then followed up with victories over '14 ITF star Denisa Allertova and #10-seed Katerina Siniakova, emphatically advancing with a 3rd set bagel against the Czech (after having been bageled herself in the 2nd set) in the final round.
RISERS: Ashleigh Barty/AUS (#186) & The Chinese

...Barty is still only 18 and has never risen above #129 in the singles rankings, but her qualifying run means she'll already be playing in her ninth career slam MD, thanks mostly to a series of wild card entries (including at this year's AO and RG). Having to earn her way into the Open, she did so by eliminating '09 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin in the final round. Elsewhere in qualifying, more Chinese women (three) qualified than players from any other nation. Wang Qiang (age 22, #139) reached her first career slam MD by upsetting #1 Q-seed Lara Arruabarrena in the final round, six-foot-one Duan Yingying (25/#161) successfully pulled off a second '14 slam qualifying run (and her second straight at the Open) after saving match point in her final match, and Zheng Saisai (20/#147) will now make her slam MD debut after winning an all-Chinese final round battle with Zhu Lin. In the recent WTA $125K Challenger in Nanjing, Zheng defeated Japan's Misaki Doi and pushed eventual champ Peng Shuai to three sets in the semifinals.
SURPRISES: Paula Kania/POL (#158) & Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR (#125)
...the best Polish WTA player not named Radwanska has had quite a summer. Not only has she now qualified for back-to-back slams, Kania's Open Q-wins mean she's on an eight-match winning streak, having claimed a challenger title in Pennslyvania in her final tune-up before her qualifying attempt. At Wimbledon, Kania put up a nice effort against Li in the 1st Round, and has since reached two tour level doubles finals in Istanbul and Stanford (where she also had a successful singles Q-run). Sasnovich, at 20, will now make her slam MD debut after eliminating Banner Maria Sanchez in the final round of qualifying. The third-ranked Belarusian, Sasnovich is 11-0 ITF singles finals.
VETERANS: Lesia Tsurenko/UKR (#128) & Alla Kudryavtseva/RUS (#137)
...25-year old Ukrainian Tsurenko qualifier for her second straight slam, running her recent stretch to 9-2 after reaching a $100K challenger final in July. She knocked out #3-seeded Anna-Lena Friedsam in the final qualifying round. Kudryavtseva, 26, has now put on successful Q-runs at three slams in 2014, adding NYC to her exploits in Melbourne and London. Q wins over teenagers Tornado Black and Barbora Krejcikova will give her a chance to try to match her U.S. Open MD best of a 3rd Round result in 2011. Actually, Alla had such a good week that EVERYONE wanted to join her for a selfie!

COMEBACKS: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/CRO (#119) & Ksenia Pervak/RUS (#127)
...Lucic-Baroni, 32, is the oldest slam qualifier of 2014, and as the #13 Q-seed was the highest seed to actually win the three matches necessary to reach the Open MD. Of course, as one would expect, it wasn't an easy road for the 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist, as Q3 opponent Sofia Shapatava twice served for the match. Lucic-Baroni, whose personal/family problems resulted in her barely playing on tour during the mid-2000's, has won a total of ten MD slam matches since reaching that semi at SW19 fifteen years ago. Pervak, the Hordette turned Kazakh turned Hordette all over again, is still looking for her first slam MD match win since rejoining the Russian Tennis Federation in June '13, having last notched a victory at a major in Melbourne last year. Also a qualifier this season in Paris, 23-year old Pervak currently sports a 0-3 MD record at Flushing Meadows.
FRESH FACES: Maryna Zanevska/UKR (#130) & Ons Jabeur/TUN (#166)
...20-year old Zanevska is set to make her U.S. Open MD debut after pulling off her second successful slam Q-run (w/ RG) of 2014. Meanwhile, 19-year old Tunisian Jabeur, her game still simmering after reaching a $25K challenger final in Pennsylvania (she lost to fellow Open qualifier Kania), has reached her first slam MD after knocking out two seeded qualifiers and erased a 4-1 3rd set deficit in her Q2 match-up with unseeded Tatjana Maria. Hey, it's no "Ellen DeGeneres Show," but it's pretty close.

JUNIOR Q-STAR: Francoise Abanda/CAN (#205)

...a year ago, Abanda lost in the 2nd Round of the girls singles in New York, but this time around she lost just SIX TOTAL GAMES while winning three straight women's level matches to reach her first slam main draw. The Canadian, 17, is now set to break into the WTA Top 200 after being a junior semifinalist at this year's Roland Garros (and reaching the girls 3rd Round at Wimbledon).
SISTERS: Anastasia Rodionova/AUS (#219) & Chan Yung-Jan/TPE (#227)

...while her sister Arina fell earlier in qualifying, 32-year old Anastasia advanced after having come up short in six straight attempts to make it through the qualifying rounds of a major. With five career slam 3rd Round results, this will be Rodionova's first slam singles MD appearance since the 2012 U.S. Open. 25-year old Chan, who reached the Open 3rd Round in 2010, was the last woman to wrap up a qualifying berth, playing into the evening after a weather-interrupted day of action, defeating Kateryna Kozlova to round out the field.
DOWN: Allie Kiick/USA & Lara Arruabarrena/ESP
...the 19-year old Bannerette, the #28 seed, fell in the opening round of U.S. Open qualifying for the third straight year, retiring with a lingering knee injury in her first match back on court since late June. She played just three games against Paula Kania before realizing she wasn't ready to return. It's the third time Kiick has lost in slam qualifying this season, so she'll have to have a go at reaching her first career slam MD again come 2015.

Meanwhile, top Q-seed Arruabarrena, 22, failed to advance back into the main draw of the only slam at which she's got a MD win (2012). Hmmm, I guess playing and winning that $100K challenger on clay in Bogota didn't prepare her to win three hard court matches in New York a week later. Of course, seeds mean little in slam qualifying anyway, but it was especially the case this time around, as none of the top twelve seeds were able to win the three required matches to advance to next week.

Q1: Paula Kania d. #28 Allie Kiick 3-0 ret.
...believe it or not, Kiick's blink-and-you-missed-it participation in the 2014 U.S. Open has already been topped, as Thiemo de Bakker retired after just one game in the men's opening round of qualifying.
Q1: Michaella Krajicek d. Vesna Dolonc 6-1/6-4
Q1: #32 Aleksandra Krunic d. Petra Martic 6-4/6-3
...Serbian Bad Luck Charm. Serbian Good Luck Charm. Sometimes, things just go as expected. Krunic, of course, won two more matches and was "declared" the Q-Player of the Week by SOMEONE.
Q2: Carina Witthoeft d. #2 Luksika Kumkhum 6-3/6-4
....the Thai's slam season began with a loud upset in Melbourne of Kvitova. It ends quietly with a loss in the second round of qualifying.
Q2: Ons Jabeur d. Tatjana Maria 0-6/7-5/7-6(4) admirable comeback X two for the Tunisian, who erased the memory of a 1st set bagel, then turned around a 4-1 3rd set deficit.
Q3: #29 Wang Qiang d. #1 Lara Arruabarrena 0-6/7-5/6-3
....and it all started so well for the #1 Q-seed, too.
Q3: #27 Alla Kudryavtseva d. Barbora Krejcikova 7-6(1)/6-3
#32 Aleksandra Krunic d. #10 Katerina Siniakova 7-5/0-6/6-0

...and there were no Czech dance routines this year in NYC.
Q3: Ashleigh Barty d. #26 Melanie Oudin 7-6(7)/6-3
....maybe if Barty has been Russian?
Q3: Duan Yingying d. Irena Pavlovic 6-3/1-6/7-6(5)
....Pavlovic led 5-1 in the 3rd and held a match point. Ouch.
Q3: #13 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Sofia Shapatava 6-4/4-6/7-5
....Shapatava led 5-2 in the 3rd and twice served for the match. Double ouch.

=Sisters & Former Juniors, Former Juniors & Sisters=
Q1 - Ula Radwanska d. #11 Ana Konjuh 6-1/4-6/6-4
Q2 - #27 Alla Kudryavtseva d. (WC) Tornado Alicia Black 6-4/6-3

...a tennis sister takes out 2013 U.S. Open girls champion Konjuh, then Black, last year's U.S. junior runner-up and a tennis sister herself, joins the Croat a day later.

=Sibling-Flavored Roadkill: The Appetizers Round=
Q1 - (WC) Maria Sanchez d. Erika Sema 4-6/6-4/6-3
Q1 - Sofia Shapatava d. #23 Kristina Kucova 6-3/6-3
Q1 - Gioia Barbieri d. Nadiya Kichenok 6-4/0-6/6-2
Q1 - Mariana Duque Marino d. Lyudmyla Kichenok 2-6/6-1/6-3
Q1 - #30 Cagla Buyukakcay d. Hsieh Su-Wei 6-2/7-6(3)

...sisters are often left behind on the side of the road in clusters at slam qualifying time.

=Sibling-Flavored Roadkill: Main Course of Radwanska, with sides=
Q2 - #1 Lara Arruabarrena d. Michaella Krajicek 6-7(3)/6-3/6-4
Q2 - Richel Hogenkamp d. Ula Radwanska 3-6/6-4/6-2
Q2 - Zhu Lin d. Arina Rodionova 6-4/6-2

...and the remaining Radwanska will go it alone.

=Sibling-Flavored Roadkill: Just Desserts=
...apparently, the Tennis Gods are on a diet. In something of a slam shocker, all three tennis-playing sisters -- F.Abanda, An.Rodionova and Y-J.Chan -- won their qualifying round final matches to move on to the main draw.

CiCi Bellis/USA = USTA Jr. Chsp. winner; at 15, is youngest in MD
Madison Brengle/USA = BrengleFly failed in 24 con. slam qual. tries; WC gets her into first slam MD since '08
Danielle Collins/USA = reigning NCAA champ gets automatic berth in first WTA main draw; opens on Ashe on Day 1 vs. Halep
Jarmila Gajdosova/AUS = was also a WC at Wimbledon; reached '06 US 3rd Rd.
Nicole Gibbs/USA = won USTA's multi-event playoff; US WC in '12-'13 as NCAA champ
Amandine Hesse/FRA = current eighth-ranked Pastry makes US MD debut; lost in RG 1st Rd. as WC
Grace Min/USA = the '11 US Open Jr. champ reached the RG main draw as a qualifier in June
Taylor Townsend/USA = 18-yr. old gets 3rd straight slam WC; reached 3r in Paris

none so far

2006 Chang Yung-Jan, TPE
2007 Alina Jidkova, RUS
2008 Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ & Barbora Strycova, CZE
2009 Eva Hrdinova, CZE
2010 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2011 Romina Oprandi, ITA (now SUI)
2012 Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
2013 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2014 Aleksandra Krunic, SRB

3...Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS (AO-WI-US)
2...Timea Bacsinszky, SUI (RG-WI)
2...Duan Yingying, CHN (AO-US)
2...Paula Kania, POL (WI-US)
2...Ana Konjuh, CRO (AO-WI)
2...Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR (RG-WI)
2...Tamira Paszek, AUT (RG-WI)
2...Ksenia Pervak, RUS (RG-US)
2...Lesia Tsurenko, UKR (WI-US)
2...Heather Watson, GBR (AO-RG)
2...Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN (RG-WI)
2...Maryna Zanevska, UKR (RG-US)
[consecutive US qualifying runs]
2...Duan Yingying, CHN
2...Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
2...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO

16...Ana Konjuh, CRO (AO)
16...Ana Konjuh, CRO (WI)
16...Belinda Bencic, SUI (AO)
17...Katerina Siniakova, CZE (AO)
17...Francoise Abanda, CAN (US)
18...Carina Witthoeft, GER (AO)
18...Vicky Duval, USA (WI)
18...Anett Kontaveit, EST (WI)
18...Ashleigh Barty, AUS (US)
19...Danka Kovinic, MNE (RG)
19...Tereza Smitkova, CZE (WI)
19...Ons Jabeur, TUN (US)
[wild cards]
15...CiCi Bellis, USA (US)
17...Fiona Ferro, FRA (RG)
17...Ashleigh Barty, AUS (AO)
18...Ashleigh Barty, AUS (RG)
18...Sachia Vickery, USA (AO)
18...Taylor Townsend, USA (RG)
18...Taylor Townsend, USA (WI)
18...Taylor Townsend, USA (US)
19...Tang Hao-Chen, CHN (AO)
19...Summer Sanders, AUS (AO)

*OLDEST 2014 SLAM...*
32...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO (US)
32...Anastasia Rodionova, AUS (US)
30...Yuliya Beygelzimer, UKR (RG)
28...Lucie Hradecka, CZE (AO)
26...Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS (US)
26...Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS (WI)
26...Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS (AO)
26...Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN (WI)
26...Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN (RG)
[wild cards]
29...Mathilde Johansson, FRA (RG)
29...Vera Zvonareva, RUS (WI)
28...Casey Dellacqua, AUS (AO)
28...Claire Feuerstein, FRA (RG)
28...Pauline Parmentier, FRA (RG)
27...Pauline Parmentier, FRA (AO)
27...Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS (US)
27...Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS (WI)

4th Rd. RG - Kiki Bertens, NED
4th Rd. WI - Tereza Smitkova, CZE
3rd Rd. AO - Zarina Diyas, KAZ
3rd Rd. WI - Ana Konjuh, CRO
3rd Rd. WI - Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
[wild cards]
4th Rd. AO - Casey Dellacqua, AUS
4th Rd. RG - Pauline Parmentier, FRA
3rd Rd. RG - Taylor Townsend, USA
3rd Rd. WI - Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2nd Rd. WI - Naomi Broady, GBR
2nd Rd. RG - Claire Feuerstein, FRA
2nd Rd. WI - Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS
2nd Rd. AO - Olivia Rogowska, AUS
2nd Rd. WI - Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
[lucky losers]
2nd Rd. AO - Irina Falconi, USA

All for now.


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