Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Most Interesting Champion in the World

Quite simply, Serena Williams is the most interesting champion in the world. She doesn't ALWAYS win majors, but when she does, she prefers to make them memorable.

As Williams has been mercilessly hunting down Steffi Graf's all-time slam title mark the last few seasons, it's worth noting that most of the German's 22 career slam title runs weren't particularly memorable for their "Grafic" drama. While Graf played seventeen three-set slam finals, winning thirteen of them, most of the dramatic slam moments and images that come to the mind's eye where she's concerned involve her opponents. The look of Martina Navratilova when she realized that she could hold back the overwhelming tide of the young upstart no longer. A crestfallen Jana Novotna crying on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent. An overmatched Natalia Zvereva getting double-bageled in Paris. Martina Hingis crossing over to the other side of the net and eventually having to be corralled by her mother (and that was during the German's final slam win in '99, after a three-year drought, knee surgery and the general knowledge that she was close to calling it a career -- making that win probably her most dramatic moment of all). Oh, Graf played some great, tight finals (a 10-8 3rd set in a RG win vs. Sanchez in '96, for example) but, though we know it wasn't the case, since she visibly betrayed few of her emotions on court during play, it was often easier to see her as something of a Fraulein Forehand machine rather than a massive collection of nerve endings and firing brain synapses sometimes struggling to find a way to work together to discover a way to achieve a lasting success on the final point of the match.

The far more emotionally demonstrative Williams betrays nothing. In fact, she's a virtual kaleidoscope of expression. If she's feeling great, you know it (and hear it). If she's not, you know that, too. Sometimes even when you'd think she'd be feeling great, she's yelling (or more) at herself to get it together and play at an even HIGHER level. One that befits her abilities. Only Serena, as she did during the last two weeks in Paris, would think to say that she considered a come-from-behind victory at this Roland Garros to be "unprofessional." Early on, before things REALLY got hairy later in the tournament, Williams said, "I never set the bar low for myself. That means I accept defeat -- and I never accept defeat." She added, "I think you have to be mentally ready and prepared for anything. And I'm not ever going to put myself in a position where I say I'm not good enough, because I know I am."

Even with the sight of a TRUE "Serenativity" moment on court being similar to driving past a car accident -- you almost don't want to look at the carnage left behind from a fallen Williams opponent on one of her very good days, but you just can't help but do it -- Williams' slam runs usually come with at least one edge-of-your-seat moment that would have altered the course of the tournament if things had only gone slightly differently. Three of Serena's slam wins have come after she's saved match point during the event. Four more times opponents have served for the match again her, only to fail. At her last RG title run in '13 she was down a break in the 3rd, while during the past two weeks she came back from a set down four times, including trailing Timea Bacsinszky in the semifinals 6-4/3-2 and a break down while she was suffering from a debilitating flu that caused her to appear ready to keel over at any moment during the match.

Maybe more than any of her previous nineteen slam title runs, the one that Williams finished off in Paris today may be her greatest, simply for what it took for her to reach the finish line. But that's just how she does it.

Serena has managed to carve out a niche in tennis history for herself where she is BOTH the dominating force AND the troubled champion fighting against outside and inner forces to overcome her circumstances and climb to the top of the tennis mountain. Again. And again. And again. Maybe only Andre Agassi (ironically, Graf's husband) was ever able to even come close to being able to manipulate the moments of a career in quite so many opposing ways. Not by treachery or cynical machinations (which marked Agassi's early career), no matter the whispers that still frustratingly linger in her wake after all these years, but by the act of Serena simply being Serena. For all her drama and athletic dramatics. For all her excellence, as well as the old frustrations that once led Chris Evert to publicly call for her take a chance on living up to the fantastic possibility of her talent before it was too late for the good of herself and the sport. To all of Williams' positive attributes, of which there are so many, as well as to her faults, many of which most have a hard time agreeing upon, and some of which have been rounded off over the years for better public consumption. Serena is the total package. So much so, as with most stars that project a larger than life persona, that people will always have to agree to disagree about her on some level. Where Williams is concerned, three people could look at the same body of career evidence, with all the questions and athletic earthquakes combined therein, and you'd likely get three totally different opinions, both personally and professionally, and no one of the three would likely choose to truly alter their opinion no matter any conflicting evidence to the contrary that might be presented.

Serena is tennis' version of a flesh-and-blood Rorschach test... or maybe a physical manifestation of the internet's "The Dress," be it white or blue or neither.

But Williams still needed to win her third Roland Garros, or else all her extraordinary work in Paris will have gone for naught. Lost TO history, rather than another chapter in her drive to make it. All that was required was one final push in the final against Lucie Safarova. A win would give her a third Career Grand Slam (only Graf has managed the feat), make her the first woman since 2001 to open a season with back-to-back slam titles, and become the first to win three consecutive majors since the "Serena Slam" run that saw her win four in row from 2002-03. After forty-eight hours to recuperate from her illness, Williams came out like a house a-fire in the final. She quickly came within five points of a dominating straight sets win. But it just wouldn't have been representative of Williams' body of work over the past two weeks if things had been easy. Thanks to what Serena later called a "choke" which opened the door for her 28-year old Czech opponent -- the first woman form her nation to reach the RG final in 34 years -- to reclaim the form she'd displayed while sweeping all twelve sets to reach her first career slam final. With Williams' dip in play meeting Safarova's surge, suddenly a competitive final was born.

Well, until Serena put a stop to it. Yep... we've seen that before. And, really, it never gets old. Superior achievement in any endeavor never does. Or at least it shouldn't. Pity us all if, in the latter stages of her career, we ever overlook that fact where Williams is concerned.

As the match began, Williams wasted no time showing that she had no intentions of being "unprofessional" on this day. With her serve immediately in top gear, she lost just one point in her first service game and ended it with an ace. Despite overrunning a short ball and failing to hit an appropriate overhead smash (Safarova lobbed her and got to 30/30), Serena held with another ace two games later to go up 2-1. A big return produced a Safarova error to give Williams double break point, and her crushed forehand crosscourt return winner gave her the opening break of the match and a 3-1 bulge on the scoreboard.

After deliberately pacing herself two days ago, almost to the point of sometimes looking to be moving in slow motion, Williams was playing swiftly this time out. It was almost as if she was rushing around trying to get all her work done before the arrival of a stinky housemate (her ol' buddy the Mr. Influenza, maybe?) who'd come home and clutter everything up all over again.

With Safarova falling into the trap of playing Serena's game -- quick points that favored Williams, and often ended with the Czech going for too much too soon and committing an error, precisely the opposite of what she did in the six match wins that got her to the final -- the only points the American was losing were her own fault. An error here or there, or a double-fault. But it wasn't enough to slow her down. She held to lead 4-1, and appeared settled into a routine that didn't include her having to overexert herself and would produce a match that wouldn't include any of the usual drama.

The plan continued to work through the end of the 1st set. Safarova's forehand crosscourt return winner into the corner got her to 30/30 on Williams' serve in game #7, but the Czech's error and Serena's third game-ending ace made the score 5-2. Safarova saved a break point a game later with a forehand winner up the line, but Williams' big serve locked away the set at 6-3. At this point in the match, it was apparent which player was winning the tactical game, as well, as 80% of the points were lasting four shots or less... and Williams was winning the vast majority of them.

In the opening game of the 2nd set, on her third BP attempt of the game, Williams weathered a series of huge Safarova forehands and got the break with an inside-out backhand fired behind Safarova. In game #2, Serena opened with a 126-mph ace, then hit another, then fired back-to-back service winners, the second of which thudded off Safarova'a racket and didn't travel more than six inches forward before it fell harmlessly to the terre battue, an innocent victim of another huge Williams power shot. The love hold put Serena up 2-0, and then she held for 3-1 with a crosscourt backhand winner. She'd still yet to be taken to deuce in any service game. Another backhand crosscourt winner, this time in response to a Safarova serve, broke the Czech a game later.

At this point, the final was looking to be a very (Graf-like) clean affair for Williams. Maybe one of the best of her career, coming off one of her messiest (but still greatest) outings in the semis. The thought was that maybe Safarova never had a shot in this match against a Williams who was looking to erase the memory of the danger she'd found herself in vs. Bacsinszky, but the fact was that the Czech had been doing herself no favors. She was failing to extend points with her defense, and not making Williams hit the extra shots that might produce more errors. But, then again, Serena was often in control of most of the points from her first swing up until this point, initiating a sometimes desperate reaction from Safarova as she tried to win the point in sudden fashion. It's a common condition when it comes to Williams' fallen opponents. Just ask Maria Sharapova.

Serving up 6-3/4-1, 40/15 Williams seemed to be coasting to slam title #20. But then she opened the door, and Safarova took advantage.

Williams suddenly began to hit double-faults. Her first service game all day went to deuce, a DF gave the Czech a BP, then another handed her the break to close things to 4-2. Seizing her moment, Safarova held in a game which saw her pull out a drop shot, (finally) extend rallies and place her serve more effectively. But, at 4-3, was it too little too late? As it turned out, no, as the Williams service game that has sometimes gone in and out in Paris (whether it be because of her illness or the elbow injury that had limited her before heading to Roland Garros) continued to slide. Down love/15, Williams hit a big serve and yelled, "Come onnnnnnn!" (it'd be one of her more sanitary entreaties to herself the rest of the day, the whole of which eventually resulted in a code violation for language), but after she sprayed a backhand to end a long rally, then double-faulted again (her fourth in two games) on break point things were suddenly back on serve. Safarova held to win her fourth straight game and take a 5-4 lead.

Williams fired a big serve up the middle a game later, but still admonished herself. "What are you doing!?!," she screamed, as she battled against her Petra-like dark side's attempt to sneak in and steal away this match like a thief in the Parisian night. An ace knotted things at 5-5. "Come onnnnnnnnnn!!!!!" Safarova's errors gave Williams the chance to reclaim the momentum of the set, and Serena got the break for 6-5 with another backhand crosscourt return winner. As Williams served for the match, Safarova missed an open down-the-line forehand and Serena took a 30/15 lead, but followed up with a forehand winner off the line to get back to even. Williams netted a forehand and Safarova had break point, which she converted with a backhand up the line to send things to a tie-break.

As she had while grabbing tide-setting momentum during earlier wins over Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic, Safarova played the tie-break with aggression. She pressed Williams on the first point and won it, then saw Williams slip still further. Serena double-faulted again, then committed a backhand error to fall behind 3-0, dropping both her service points. Safarova would win the TB 7-3, with six of her points coming off Williams errors as the bottom dropped out of the world #1's game.

Credit goes to Safarova for not giving up and getting back into the match (no small feat after she'd gotten off to such a quick and lethal start) and causing the final result to be a legitimate question. By managing to extend points, force a few more errors and seize in-point opportunities during her crucial comeback stage of the match, the Czech made it a certainty that no one will forget why she was playing for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in the first place. But, still, Williams knew she was mostly to blame for allowing the Czech to begin to play her game for the first time after being at the very edge of defeat. When Safarova opened the 3rd with a break after Williams fired back-to-back errors, she'd broken the American's serve in four of her last five service games. The Czech held at love for 2-0... then Serena turned things up a notch.

To "11."

Williams' backhand up line got her to 30/30 on Safarova's serve, and a big return gave her a BP. Then it was the Czech who double-faulted (her first in the match), getting things back on serve at 2-2. Serena opened game #5 with an ace, and held at love. A game later, Safarova held a game point, but with Williams heating up her back-to-back errors handed Serena a break point and the look of frustration on the Czech's face was apparent. A long backhand gave Williams the break and a 4-2 lead. By the time game #7 was over, it was Serena who was winning the long rallies. A 19-shot exchange ended with a wide Safarova ball. Williams held for 5-2, winning her fifth consecutive game.

"Come onnnnnn!!!!"

There was no stopping her now. Serena took a 30/love lead on Safarova's serve, then when the Czech fired a shot long it was triple match point.

"Come onnnnnn!!!!"

Serena hooked a forehand return into the short court, and Safarova failed to get it back. It was over, and Williams had won. Again. 6-3/6-7(3)/6-2, pulling yet another rabbit out of a hat full of them... and surprising no one by it.

As Williams officially became just the second woman in the Open era to claim a 20th career singles slam, she let loose her racket and raised her arms to the sky. Her expression spoke volumes. Depending on which "dress color" one saw, there were various captions that could have been placed with it.

"Are you not entertained?" Or maybe, "I can't believe I just did this again... oh, wait, YES I can." Some might have even seen something along the lines of, "F*** this s***... now let me go to sleep for a week." Although, honestly, maybe you would have had to have been within earshot of the many moments in which she cursed herself out to have immediately gone with that last one. Hmmm, or maybe not. Either way, it was assuredly the most "drop the mic and walk off" moment as can be remembered in tennis in ages. At least since the end of the Connors/McEnroe era, I'd say.

Now, but not quite yet, Serena is more and more history's subject to examine. This win makes her 20-4 in slam finals. She's won seven straight, losing only one major final ('11 U.S. Open vs. Stosur) since 2008, and only once to a player not also named Williams since Sharapova shocked her in the Wimbledon final in 2004 (and then was made to never, ever forget it).

With Graf's career total now not only within sight but within her grasp (she could catch the German by the end of the summer), it's interesting to consider the (now) odd "passing of the torch" moment that occurred under our noses back in 1999. While Graf was winning slam #22 in Paris that spring, Williams had lost in the 3rd Round. The 17-year old Serena had defeated Graf (her only win in their two career meetings) earlier in the year in the Indian Wells final, but they'd never both appear in the same slam draw again.

Graf reached her last slam final at Wimbledon a few weeks later, while Serena didn't play at SW19 that year due to injury. By the time the U.S. Open had rolled around later the summer, Graf had retired from the sport. With Graf out of the game for good, Williams won her first slam title at Flushing Meadows that September, winning three straight matches after dropping the 1st set (the only other time she'd done that in her career until she did it again at THIS Roland Garros). Sixteen years after Graf won #22 in Paris, Williams today won #20 there. She could return to New York in two months with a shot at her own #22.

Strange? Or maybe not. The Tennis Gods are always looking for ways to boggle our minds, after all... even if it takes sixteen summers for us to realize it.

As things stand, Williams has now won seven slam titles since she turned 30. Graf won her last in the final days of her 29th year. And Serena doesn't look to be close to slowing down just yet, either. And why should she? What does she have to be afraid of? She's so far stared down illness, injury, life, death, controversy and all sorts of other things said or left unspoken. She's a living, breathing icon of sport, not just in the U.S., or in "women's sports." But in SPORT, period, all over the world. There's no excuse not to appreciate that fact, for we'll never see the likes of her this way again. We've been lucky to have witnessed what we have so far, let alone what's left to see.

Her next stop? Why, London, of course. In fact, in her on-court interview with NBC today Williams was almost ashamed to admit that she was already thinking about Wimbledon. That's what they call the "eye of champion," I suppose. And she SHOULD be glancing ahead, since there's so much there to see. Aside from everything else in her Graf chase, she's a win away from "Serena Slam II," and two from a true Grand Slam. Oh, and the record for consecutive slam wins is six, just in case anyone was wondering.

Needless to say, there's still a lot of history to chase and make. Not that she needs it for her place IN it to last forever. On Chatrier Court today, Serena received the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen (THE star of her day) from Navratilova, who at one time headed the "greatest ever" conversations, before being joined by Graf and, later, Williams. Martina, it should be noted, won her final slam crown at an age slightly older than 33-year old Serena, and reached her last final at age 37. Weeks away from her 50th birthday, she won a Mixed slam crown. Sure, it'd be selfish to think we'll have some version of Williams playing for anything close to that long. But could you imagine?

Sigh. Even a champion's work will one day be done. But Serena's isn't. Not yet. There's still more "Serenativity" to come.

=DAY 14 NOTES= the junior finals, Paula Badosa Gibert became just the second Spanish girl to win a junior slam singles crown, taking the RG title sixteen years after Lourdes Dominguez Lino won in Paris in 1999. She defeated Russian Anna Kalinskaya 6-3/6-3 today.

Meanwhile, Tommy Paul became the fourth U.S. boy to take the RG crown with a three-set win in the first ever All-American junior boys final in Paris over Taylor Harry Fritz.

Czechs Miriam Kolodjiekova & Marketa Vondrousova backed up their AO doubles crown with another major victory, defeating Bannerettes Caroline Dolehide & Katerina Stewart 6-0/6-3; while Paul (w/ William Blumberg) failed to get the singles/doubles sweep, losing to the Spanish duo of Alvaro Lopez San Martin & Jaume Munar. men's doubles, the Bryan twins barely missed out on completing a third Career Grand Slam, losing their fourth RG final in three tight sets to first-time winners Ivan Dodig & Marcelo Melo.

Safarova & Bethanie Mattek-Sands will face off with Casey Dellacqua & Yaroslava Shvedova in the women's doubles final on Sunday.

...LIKE FROM DAY 14: Time to start a second title collage?

...NOTE FROM DAY 14: And, remember, she reached the semifinals at WIMBLEDON last year, too.


I just realized that I really missed seeing Pammy at this slam!


...MISSED-IT-BY-THAT-MUCH FROM DAY 14: Serena is the second-oldest women's champ at RG, missing on knocking 1958 champ Zsuszi Kormoczy out of the top spot by just six weeks. Also, she's the second-oldest woman to win a slam in the Open era behind only Martina Navratilova, who was just nine days older than Serena is now when she won Wimbledon in 1990. Oh, well... Williams may just revisit these situations at a later date. The first one being coming up in London in a few weeks.



Well, some of them. Ha!

...and, finally, ummm. Well. I guess I have no words for this. "Garbi & Woody, everyone!," maybe? Oh, well.

That should be her official bio pic on the WTA website.

#1 Serena Williams/USA def. #13 Lucie Safarova/CZE 6-3/6-7(2)/6-2

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #8 Stan Wawrinka/SUI

#7 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) vs. #12 Dellacqua/Shvedova (AUS/KAZ)

#3 Dodig/Melo (CRO/BRA) def. #1 Bryan/Bryan (USA/USA) 6-7(5)/7-6(5)/7-5

#2 Mattek-Sands/M.Bryan (USA/USA) def. Hradecka/Matkowski (CZE/POL) 7-6(3)/6-1

#12 Paula Badosa Gibert/ESP def. #16 Anna Kalinskaya/RUS 6-3/6-3

#13 Tommy Paul/USA def. #2 Taylor Harry Fritz/USA 7-6(4)/2-6/6-2

#1 Kolodziejova/Vondrousova (CZE/CZE) def. #6 Dolehide/Stewart (USA/USA) 6-0/6-3

Lopez San Martin/Munar (ESP/ESP) def. #4 Blumberg/Paul (USA/USA) 6-4/6-2

#2 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED 6-0/6-2

#1 Shingo Kunieda/JPN def. #2 Stephane Houdet/FRA 6-1/6-0

#2 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED) def. #1 Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR) 7-6(1)/3-6 [10-8]

#2 Kunieda/Reid (JPN/GBR) def. Fernandez/Peifer (ARG/ARG) 6-1/7-6(1)

[ Click! ]

Some fitness on the beach ??

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

[Open era]
22...Steffi Graf
18...Martina Navratilova
18...Chris Evert
11...Margaret Court
9...Monica Seles
8...Billie Jean King
24...Margaret Court
22...Steffi Graf
19...Helen Wills-Moody
18...Martina Navratilova
18...Chris Evert
12...Billie Jean King
12...Suzanne Lenglen
[total slam titles - active - singles/doubles/mixed]
35...SERENA WILLIAMS (20-13-2)
22...Venus Williams (7-13-2)
16...Martina Hingis (5-9-2)
11...Lisa Raymond (0-6-5)
10...Cara Black (0-5-5)
[slam singles titles - active]
7...Venus Williams, USA
5...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE
ALSO: Hingis w/ 5 singles titles

14...Venus Williams (7-7)
10..Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)
ALSO: 12 Hingis (5-7)

306...Martina Navratilova
299...Chris Evert
278...Steffi Graf
224...Venus Williams*
210...Arantxa Sanchez
198...Lindsay Davenport
180...Monica Seles
174...Maria Sharapova*
174...Conchita Martinez
164...Gabriela Sabatini

7...Serena Williams (2 at 30, 2 at 31, 1 at 32, 2 at 33)
3...Martina Navratilova (2 at 30, 1 at 33)
3...Margaret Court (2 at 30, 1 at 31)
2...Billie Jean King (30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert (30 & 31)
1...Li Na (31)
1...Virginia Wade (31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones (30)

1969 Margaret Court
1970 Margaret Court
1973 Margaret Court
1988 Steffi Graf
1991 Monica Seles
1992 Monica Seles
2001 Jennifer Capriati
2015 Serena Williams

1969-71 Margaret Court
1983-84 Martina Navratilova
1988-89 Steffi Graf
1993-94 Steffi Graf
2002-03 Serena Williams
1972 Billie Jean King
1981-82 Martina Navratilova
1982-83 Chris Evert
1989-90 Steffi Graf
1991-92 Monica Seles
1995 Steffi Graf
1996 Steffi Graf
1997-98 Martina Hingis
2014-15 Serena Williams (active streak)

3 - Simona Halep [Shenzhen,Dubai,IW]
2 - Maria Sharapova [Brisbane,Rome]
2 - Petra Kvitova [Sydney,Madrid]
2 - Angelique Kerber [Charleston,Stuttgart]
2 - Timea Bacsinszky [Acapulco,Monterrey]

1999 Lourdes Dominguez Lino/ESP def. Stephanie Foretz/FRA
2000 Virginie Razzano/FRA def. Maria-Emilia Salerni/ARG
2001 Kaia Kanepi/EST def. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
2002 Angelique Widjaja/INA def. Ashley Harkleroad/USA
2003 Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER def. Vera Dushevina/RUS
2004 Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL def. Madalina Gojnea/ROU
2005 Agnes Szavay/HUN def. Raluca Olaru/ROU
2006 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
2007 Alize Cornet/FRA def. Mariana Duque-Marino/COL
2008 Simona Halep/ROU def. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Daria Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER def. Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI def. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Darya Kasatkina/RUS def. Ivana Jorovic/SRB
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert/ESP def. Anna Kalinskaya/RUS

AO: Karolina Pliskova, CZE
RG: Elina Svitolina, UKR
WI: Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
US: Daria Gavrilova, RUS
AO: An-Sophie Mestach, BEL
RG: Ons Jabeur, TUN
WI: Ashleigh Barty, AUS
AO: Grace Min, USA
AO: Taylor Townsend, USA
RG: Annika Beck, GER
WI: Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
US: Samantha Crawford, USA
AO: Ana Konjuh, CRO
RG: Belinda Bencic, SUI
WI: Belinda Bencic, SUI
US: Ana Konjuh, CRO
AO: Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
RG: Darya Kasatkina, RUS
WI: Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
US: Maria Bouzkova, CZE
AO: Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
RG: Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP

2007 Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
2008 Simona Halep, ROU & Elena Bogdan, ROU
2009 Daria Gavrilova, RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina, UKR
2011 Monica Puig, PUR
2012 Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic, SUI
2014 Darya Kasatkina, RUS
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP

[Men's Doubles]
2003 Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan
2004 Xavier Malisse & Olivier Rochus
2005 Jonas Bjorkman & Max Mirnyi
2006 Jonas Bjorkman & Max Mirnyi
2007 Mark Knowles & Daniel Nestor
2008 Pablo Cuevas & Luis Horna
2009 Lukas Dlouhy & Leander Paes
2010 Daniel Nestor & Nenad Zimonjic
2011 Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor
2012 Max Mirnyi & Daniel Nestor
2013 Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan
2014 Julien Benneteau & Edouard Roger-Vasselin
2015 Ivan Dodig & Marcelo Melo
[Girl's Doubles]
1999 Flavia Pennetta & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2000 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez & Anabel Medina Garrigues, ESP/ESP
2001 Petra Cetkovska & Renata Voracova, CZE/CZE
2002 Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Barbora Strycova, GER/CZE
2003 Marta Fraga & Adriana Gonzales, ESP/ESP
2004 Katerina Bohmova & Michaella Krajicek, CZE/NED
2005 Victoria Azarenka & Agnes Szavay, BLR/HUN
2006 Sharon Fichman & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, CAN/RUS
2007 Ksenia Milevskaya & Urszula Radwanska, BLR/POL
2008 Polona Hercog & Jessica Moore, SLO/AUS
2009 Elena Bogdan & Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, ROU/THA
2010 Timea Babos & Sloane Stephens, HUN/USA
2011 Irina Khromacheva & Maryna Zanevska, RUS/UKR
2012 Daria Gavrilova & Irina Khromacheva, RUS/RUS
2013 Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2014 Ioana Ducu & Ioana Loredana Rosca, ROU/ROU
2015 Miriam Kolodziejova & Marketa Vondrousova, CZE/CZE

25...Roger Federer, SUI (17-8)
20...Rafael Nadal, ESP (14-6)
8...Andy Murray, GBR (2-6)
4...Lleyton Hewitt, AUS (2-2)
2...Robin Soderling, SWE (0-2)

25 - Roger Federer (17-8)
20 - Rafael Nadal (14-6)
19 - Ivan Lendl (8-11)
18 - Pete Sampras (14-4)
17 - Rod Laver (11-6)
16 - Bjorn Borg (11-5)
16 - Ken Rosewall (8-8)

2011 Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1
2012 Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic 6-4,6-3,2-6,7-5
2013 Rafael Nadal def. David Ferrer 6-3,6-2,6-3
2014 Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic 3-6,7-5,6-2,6-4
2015 Novak Djokovic vs. Stan Wawrinka

[AO-RG-WI-US, title time span]
Fred Perry, GBR [1-1-3-3, 1933-36]
Don Budge, USA [1-1-2-2, 1937-38]
Roy Emerson, AUS [6-2-2-2, 1961-67]
Rod Laver, AUS [3-2-4-2, 1960-69]
Andre Agassi, USA [4-1-1-2, 1992-03]
Roger Federer, SUI [4-1-7-5, 2003-12]
Rafael Nadal, ESP [1-9-2-2, 2005-14]
Novak Djokovic, SRB [5-0-2-1, 2008-15]

TOP QUALIFIER: Veronica Cepede Royg/PAR
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #11 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #13 Lucie Safarova/CZE
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): #1 Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Wang Yafan/CHN d. #15 Richel Hogenkamp/NED 2-6/7-6(7)/8-6 (saved 4 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - Francesca Schiavone/ITA d. #18 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS 6-7(11)/7-5/10-8 (3:49; saved MP; third-longest RG match)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #1 Serena Williams/USA d. Sloane Stephens/USA 1-6/7-5/6-3
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): SF - #1 Serena Williams/USA d. #23 Timea Bacsinszky/SUI 4-6/6-3/6-0
FIRST VICTORY: (Q) Teliana Pereira/BRA (def. WC Ferro/FRA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Caroline Garcia/FRA (lost 1st Rd. to Vekic/CRO)
REVELATION LADIES: The New Australians
NATION OF POOR SOULS: United States (most players in draw w/ 17, but tied for 4th w/ just 4 1st Round winners)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP, Paula Kania/POL, Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL, Teliana Pereira/BRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Virginie Razzano/FRA & Amandine Hesse/FRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Alize Cornet (4th Rd.)
MADEMOISELLE/MADAM OPPORTUNITY: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI & Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL (play for spot in first slam SF)
IT "??": (Swarmette) Andreea Mitu/ROU (last Romanian standing)
COMEBACK PLAYER: #7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB (1st RG QF since '08 title)
CRASH & BURN: #2 Simona Halep/ROU (lost 2r to Lucic-Baroni/CRO)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #19 Elina Svitolina/UKR (2nd Rd. vs. Putintseva - down 6-1/3-0, then 4-1 in 3rd; won 9-7 deciding set)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Francesca Schiavone/ITA
DOUBLES STAR: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/USA

All for Day 14. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

I love the idea of Serena being a human Rorschach test; that's a wonderful way of putting it. What always interests me is how many non-tennis fans (or very casual fans) are inspired by Serena. When people I meet, including my clients, find out I'm into pro tennis, they often tell me how amazing they think Serena and Venus are and how much they admire them. These aren't people who are spewing things all over the Internet--just regular people who recognize Serena for the person she is. Some of them don't know about the embolism, and when I tell them about that, they're even more amazed.

The kitchen manager of my local restaurant will sometimes tell his staff to stand aside when he sees me come in "I need to talk to Diane about Serena." His wife sits outside in the car, and when she sees me, she wants to talk about Serena (and Sabine!)

This is a great post--thanks for writing it.

Sat Jun 06, 09:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Agree with Diane. Liked the Rorschach comment.

Thought you'd find this interesting: Tumaini Carayol retweeted this today -- "Justine 'Yes, Serena may be a drama queen. But she is not a faker. She was really unwell. I was so scared for her. I know her.'"

The mind boggles... right!??!

Also this:

Sat Jun 06, 11:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Haha! That's a great story about the restaurant!

When you think about it, maybe casual fans can get a better "take" on Serena because they can see the obvious things about her that are inspiring and, athletically, one of a kind without all the personal issues, pet peeves, side comments/moments involving Serena that might involve another player a bigger tennis fan might follow that could stick in their mind and cause them to hold something against her, warranted or not.

And then, of course, some people are just going to find a reason to be against her or anyone else who might be different or unique (Vika, Mauresmo, etc.). You know the type.

I tend to enjoy writing about Serena when she wins a slam, since I take on a longer-form format and touch on history since I figure there's a chance I might end up going back to her slam-winning posts at some point for a perspective on how things were viewed at that moment in time. You'd think after so many slam wins, it'd be hard to find something to latch onto. But there are so many historical and personal angles with her, and they change and/or are added to regularly, that there's always something to talk about.

It's only when you really think about it that you truly realize the breadth of her career/life to this point and how it's truly an amazing thing.

Example: if Djokovic wins tomorrow I'll at least be able to say something about the whole "numbers guy" thing that I dragged out after Melbourne, and use this season as a way to compare his career to Federer and Nadal's. Djokovic's "generally-viewed-as-secondary" role in that trio is interesting, and I like trying to carve out an argument for him forever being underrated and never being able to get his "due" no matter what he does when it comes to those two. Oh, a true Grand Slam would be an interesting thing to add to the mix, wouldn't it? Meanwhile, if Wawrinka wins, I'll really draw a blank. I mean, how many wisecracks can you make about the shorts, you know? I mean, it'd be impressive that he beat Djokovic and Nadal to win the AO, and would have taken out Federer and Djokovic to win in Paris... but beyond that, that's all I've got.


Sat Jun 06, 11:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Ha! That's great! You know, I can almost hear what Evert might sound like as she sarcastically would say some of that. Probably somewhere in her head she really IS thinking, "I know I asked you to take things seriously, Serena... but this is ridiculous. You're making all the rest of us look bad now." :)

Sat Jun 06, 11:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Novak at FO= Maria at Miami.

I think it says more good about Stan the man, than anything negative about Novak.

Sun Jun 07, 12:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

That was a nice, warm reception he got from the French crowd (shocking!), too. Maybe took a little bit of the sting out of it, at least.

Sun Jun 07, 01:43:00 PM EDT  

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