Sunday, June 07, 2015

WOWrinka! *

Stan Wawrinka didn't come to the Roland Garros final armed with a Swiss Army knife. He came with his backhand. And that was more than enough.

Who knew a Swiss could be so stubborn?

Of course, maybe if we'd just looked at his forearm. It was all right on there.

Against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals, Wawrinka saved sixteen of seventeen break point chances, and he saved eight of ten today against Djokovic, the game's best returner of serve. There's something to be said for the will involved in weathering so many storms on such a big stage, especially with the crowd pulling for the Frenchman and the Serb playing for all the history within his grasp in the final.

Riding a 28-match winning streak, Djokovic was looking to complete a Career Grand Slam by adding a win in Paris to claim the only slam title that has so far eluded him. In past years, it was Rafa Nadal (six times, twice in finals the last three years) that brought an end to the current world #1's dream. But last week Nadal (seeded #6 after missing time with injury and having a mediocre clay season) was conquered by Djokovic in the QF as he completed as thorough a win as you'll ever see of an all-time great on the stage that he's dominated his entire career. The Serb not only defeated Rafa on the scoreboard, he seemed to take away a bit of his heart for safe keeping down the stretch, as well. Maybe it was too early to peak, though? Djokovic struggled to put away Andy Murray a round later, a match that had to be extended over two days and to five sets when the Scott won back-to-back 7-5 sets to knot the match. As a result, Djokovic never got a day off in the closing stages of this Roland Garros.

Early on, though, nothing seemed to bother him, including Wawrinka. Djokovic took a break lead in the 1st set when Wawrinka double-faulted on break point to fall behind 4-3. It took the Serb three set points to serve things out three games later, but he did to win the set 6-4. In the 2nd, he held back the tide of the Swiss man's powerful groundstrokes -- especially a one-handed backhand that was unleashing thunderous shots all match long -- to keep a nose ahead. He saved four BP over three straight service games as the set remained on serve at 4-4, but with Wawrinka serving first the Serb had to hold in order to keep the set knotted. He had no margin of error. On his fifth BP of the set, Wawrinka converted when Djokovic ended a rally by firing a shot long and suddenly the MATCH was tied.

Wawrinka broke to take a 4-2 lead in the 3rd, saved a BP a game later and then served out at 6-3 set to take a one set advantage into the 4th. Djokovic jumped up a break at 3-0 there, but couldn't hold the lead. Wawrinka won three straight games to get to 3-3, then held double break points on the Serb in game #7. After saving the second BP with a beautiful backhand volley winner, Djokovic punched the sky, showing the emotion that had been curiously missing from him during the first three and a half sets. If the Serb's old fire had returned, Wawrinka was likely doomed. But it didn't, and he wasn't.

Djokovic had three BP on Wawrinka's serve a game later, but couldn't convert any. The old "Comeback King" Novak would have. On the third BP, Wawrinka's serve up the T was called out, but Djokovic played the ball and was unable to return it. The chair umpire checked the mark and called the ball in, awarding the point to Wawrinka, who'd go on to hold for 4-4. The Swiss fired a backhand passing shot from behind the baseline in game #9 to reach break point. Djokovic pulled out one of coach Boris Becker's old hallmarks -- a serve-and-volley combo -- to save it, but when he tried to do it on the next point on a second serve Wawrinka fired a backhand return winner down the line. Another backhand winner to the corner ended a rally and gave Wawrinka a 5-4 lead and the chance to serve out the match.

There, things seemed over for a moment when Wawrinka appeared to serve an ace on his first match point, but the chair umpire looked at the mark and called the ball out, extending the match. Djokovic saved the MP, then reached BP after his shot -- which appeared to be heading out -- bounced off the net cord and landed in the court. Wawrinka fired a crosscourt forehand that the Serb dug off the baseline, sending a backhand winner down the line. He had his chance to get back into the match. But he sailed a forehand long, then Wawrinka's big serve went off the Serb's racket to give the Swiss a second match point. He won it, naturally, with a perfect backhand (winner #60 on the day, though oddly only his eleventh off the backhand that had controlled so many rallies) off the baseline on his first groundstroke of the point, winning his second major 4-6/6-4/6-3/6-4.

Wawrinka, winning another slam as the #8 seed taking out the #1 in the final, immediately ran off court to find a path into the stands to celebrate with coach Magnus Norman, to whom he credits so much of his success. Meanwhile, Djokovic sat on his chair in the changeover, contemplating a sixth loss in his last nine slam finals, three of them coming in the last four years in Paris. During the trophy ceremony, the Serb was greeted by an extraordinarily long ovation from the French crowd (yeah... who'da thunk it, huh? The French crowd!). It had to help. But not enough to take away ALL the sting.

Of course, with this result, one has to wonder if Wawrinka is really this good or just an expert at being in the right place at the right time. After all, he won his first major in Melbourne against an injured Nadal in the final, and we'll probably never know if Djokovic having to prepare to play three straight days after his semifinal with Murray was suspended on Friday had anything to do with the way he was gradually overtaken in today's match. Whatever the truth is, the OTHER Swiss man is a multiple slam winner, as well.

A single slam win might be a fluke. Two is not.

As for Djokovic, he NEEDED to win this title. Sure, he's still having a superior season, and this is his first loss in twenty-nine matches. He'll still be the favorite to win in BOTH London and New York, too. He's the unquestioned #1, but not winning today may have cost him his seat at the table of history somewhere down the line. A Grand Slam season is something that neither Federer nor Nadal will be able to claim once their careers have wrapped. 2015 may have been Djokovic's best chance to pull it off. He still could win three slams in a season for the season time in his career, but that's only enough to get a mention ALONG WITH Roger and Rafa. A subversive "numbers guy" case cannot be made for him to be a true "equal" without it. At least not at this point.

He'll likely complete his Career Slam in Paris, possibly as soon as next year. Though you have to think that if Nadal is going to ever get #10 it might be in 2016, after having gone out the way he did at this event. But Djokovic's consummate take down of the Spaniard last week in Paris ultimately went for naught. It's lost to history. A footnote. It could have been the linchpin in his calling card for greatness.

Now it's just a nice victory, and will forever be seen as more of a comment on the state of Nadal than that of the Serb. It's a shame, really.

But, hey, congrats to Stan. He truly was The Man on Chatrier on this day.

=DAY 15 NOTES= the Women's Doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova defeated Casey Dellacqua & Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets to take their second 2015 slam title and keep alive the notion of becoming the first duo to achieve a true Doubles Grand Slam since Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver did it in 1984 (they actually won eight straight majors stretching from 1983-85 during the run). Martina Hingis pulled off a solo Doubles Grand Slam in 1998, winning the AO with Mirjana Lucic and the other three slams with Jana Novotna.

Mattek-Sands swept both the doubles and mixed titles in Paris, becoming the first woman to do so at a slam since Andrea Hlavackova at the U.S. Open in 2013. The last time it happened at Roland Garros was 2001, with Virginia Ruano Pascual taking home both championships.

...on the ITF circuit, Monica Niculescu won the $100K Marseille event, defeating Francoise Abanda, Sachia Vickery, Denisa Allertova, Mariana Duque and Pauline Parmentier in the final. The 27-year old Swarmette is a two-time WTA singles champ (2013-14), but this is her biggest title on the challenger level.

In the $50K grass court challenger in Eastbourne, Estonia's Anett Kontaveit won the biggest title of her career. The 19-year old defeated Alla Kudryavtseva in a pair of tie-breaks in the final to claim career circuit title #10. In doubles, Bannerettes Coco Vandeweghe & Shelby Rogers defeated Brits Jocelyn Rae & Anna Smith in the final. Vandeweghe is in the Netherlands this week, seeking to defend the maiden WTA singles title she won there last year.

...elsewhere, in Rosmalen qualifying for the 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands event, Ula Radwanska won an all-WTA sisters battle in the final round of qualifying, defeating Arina Rodionova after trailing 6-3/5-0. Saving one match point and breaking the Aussie's serve six straight times, U-Rad went on to win 3-6/7-6(6)/6-0. She won the last two games of the match at love.

Meanwhile, Aga is the top seed in the tour's return to Nottingham this week. Hmmm.

Well, grass court season has arrived. Who knows what evil lurks between the blades of grass.




...SOMEONE WAS EXCITED ON DAY 15: Even if he mispelled "holy." Well, unless there's actually a cow in Switzerland named Holly, I mean.

...A THANK YOU ON DAY 15: And maybe a little warning?


Well, at least we won't see any copycats at Wimbledon.


...and, finally...

[new tour event]
14 Final: ($75K ITF) Ka.Pliskova d. Diyas [Last WTA event: 1973 - B.J. King d. V.Wade]
14 Doubles Final: ($75K ITF) Rae/Smith d. Fichman/Sanchez
15 Top Seeds: A.Radwanska/Diyas

#1 A.Radwanska d. Niculescu
Konjuh d. #5 Riske
#1 A.Radwanska d. Konjuh


14 Final: Vandeweghe d. J.Zheng
14 Doubles Final: Erakovic/Parmentier d. Krajicek/Mladenovic
15 Top Seeds: Bouchard/Jankovic

#3 Vandeweghe d. Erakovic
Van Uytvanck d. #2 Jankovic
#3 Vandeweghe d. Van Uytvanck


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

#8 Stan Wawrinka/SUI def. #1 Novak Djokovic/SRB 4-6/6-4/6-3/6-4

#7 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) def. #12 Dellacqua/Shvedova (AUS/KAZ) 3-6/6-4/6-2

#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)

Sunday early walk #quite #nature #beauty @sunny.cali ????????????

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Sundays ?? #snuggletime #onesie #bruno

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2007 Alicia Molik & Mara Santangelo
2008 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual
2009 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual
2010 Serena Williams & Venus Williams
2011 Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka
2012 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
2013 Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina
2014 Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai
2015 Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova

13...Serena Williams
13...Venus Williams
9...Martina Hingis
6...Lisa Raymond
5...Cara Black
5...Sara Errani
5...Liezel Huber
5...Roberta Vinci
2...Lucie Hradecka
2...Hsieh Su-Wei
2...Vania King
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova
2...Ekaterina Makarova
2...Anabel Medina Garrigues
2...Peng Shuai
2...Yaroslava Shvedova
2...Samantha Stosur
2...Elena Vesnina
2...Zheng Jie
2...Vera Zvonareva

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 Stan Wawrinka def. Novak Djokovic 4-6/6-4/6-3/6-4

5 - Roger Federer (3-2)
4 - Andy Murray (2-2)
3 - David Ferrer (3-0)
3 - Kei Nishikori (2-1)
3 - Tomas Berdych (0-3)

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 15. Clay Court Awards this week.


Blogger Diane said...

I felt really sad for Novak. All credit to Stan, who has been amazing in this tournament., but I was a bit surprised. Of course, even a physical specimen like Novak can finally wear out, given the scheduling and his long match against Andy (I was sad for Andy, too).

So you have the Big 4, which is sort of the Big 2 right now, and you have Wawrinka, who perhaps will be part of the Big 3. Things are definitely changing, but "things" don't include Dimitrov and gang.

Sun Jun 07, 09:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, they haven't really stood up, have they? And it's not like there haven't been slams out there to be won by someone outside the Big 4. The last six have included wins by Wawrinka (2) and Cilic. Maybe Nishikori is the one who will be the first to break through with a title. He's the only one to reach a slam final, so far.

Sun Jun 07, 09:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I do think Nishikori will be next, and after that, I have no idea.

Sun Jun 07, 10:16:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

I don't worry much for Djkovic. The next generation really isn't there yet (except Nishikori to some extent), and the old guard (Federer, Nadal) is surely declining and is likely to be gone in the next two years. Djoko will have plenty of time to gather numbers that are at least comparable to Nadal's, and sometimes even to Federer's (Federer's records for straight slam quarters and semis are getting "close" (by their standards) to Djokovic's reach).

Dimitrov is certainly not mature enough, he has a Bouchard year. I don't believe in the phrase "Slam winner Milos Raonic". Federer and Nadal will, best case scenario, win one more Slam each. Djoko's main opponents for the next couple of years will be Murray, Wawrinka and Nishikori, at least until the younger generation takes its place. Sock has a promising future, I believe.

Sun Jun 07, 11:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I think he's got a good shot at that QF record, too. Though it's the sort of thing that it will be something that's more along the lines of "well, that's nice" to most people, rather than the spectacular sort of achievement that was possible this year. He still might have a shot at such a thing in the future, but this might be the last year in which Federer and Nadal were both considered "legitimate" slam threats (or close enough to it) that Djokovic slam wins wouldn't be looked at as having "less value" because of the competition.

Sort of like how I view a good many of Graf's slam wins that came during the two-and-a-half years immediately after Seles was stabbed.

Mon Jun 08, 12:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Wowrinka is right...How does someone hit that hard for hours? and then come back and do it 6 more times? Contrary to what he says, he's the mutant.

Re: numbers, Djokovic had a 95.7% winning percentage in matches when he won the first set...

So Wawrinka beat two world no 1's to get his two slams?

Maybe all the bad press at the French motivated Wawrinka to play well and change the narrative.

Wawrinka's had a really good career... gold medal, davis cup, 2 slams... I think his win really highlights the fact that people like berdych and tsonga really should have won slams by now. They can hit through the court like Wawrinka...they just don't have the courage. Soderling had the courage.

Diane - For me, it feels like there's a Big 1 right now and 2 - 8 are all about level. Nadal/Fed/Murray have just a bit more experience on the big stages...but in terms of current level...maybe Murray is a tick ahead of the rest...but the rest are pretty level. It feels like 05/06/07 when Fed was dominating.

I hope Nishikori stays healthy enough to win a slam. I like his shot making. Kind of like Wawrinka...but with less power and more speed.

Zidane - I think Raonic can win a major... I mean if Cilic can, Roanic can too. I can see him getting deep in a slam and the draw opening up for him ala Cilic. I mean, if Wawrinka or Nishikori takes out one or two of the Old Big 4, Roanic is able to beat those players. I don't know what to think about Jack Sock... I think it's good that the AUstralian boys are motivating him to get his ass in gear.

Mon Jun 08, 03:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Eric - Big servers rarely fare well in Slams: the 3-out-of-5 format gives a lot of time to their opponents to get used to it and read their serve and patterns. Raonic has improved over the years and will surely keep doing so, but not the aspects that can compensate for an opponent being able to return his serves. The best players in the world are (and should be) able to do that without much of a problem, hence explaining Raonic's regularity in both beating lesser-ranked players and being beaten by the best players. Unless he gets a Bartoli-at-Wimbledon draw, I don't see him beating 2-3 top 10 players in a best-3-out-of-5 like Cilic did.

Roddick is probably the recent big server that did the best in Slams. Despite not having a superior game, he had a much better game than Raonic's once the ball had been served.

I personally would like to see Raonic volley more, but that means working on his speed and footwork, the aspects of his game he shows the least intent at working on.

Mon Jun 08, 05:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

warinka always has nice strokes and powerful. i was especially impressed on his defensive skills, he slides beautifully into the mud, and returns everything from novak! novak was clearly out of ideas in the mid 3rd set. so, warinka is the real deal too! 2 slams, and could be more. the only shocking thing was that his type of play (very aggressive and very precise) doesn't last all year, so depends if he shows up in the right tournament for 7 matches.

Wed Jun 10, 03:56:00 AM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home