Tuesday, July 07, 2015

W.8- Serena and Vika, Just Like "Old" Times

In 2015, we've been treated to the experience of being able to re-live how things used to be.

No, I'm not talking about Serena Williams' seemingly unstoppable march to a "Serena Slam," but the world #1 DOES have something to do with it. I'm talking about how a few years ago, while every other player wilted in Serena's presence, Victoria Azarenka often rose to the occasion and played the "Greatest of All Time" contender (and surely greatest of her generation and, so far, THIS century at least) toe-to-toe, showing not a hint of fear in the face of a hard-hitting and often wailing Williams assault.

It was thrilling, and sometimes odd and crazy. Sure, Serena still usually won. But not always. The Belarusian is tied with Venus Williams with the most wins (3) in finals over Serena over the course of her career. And both players knew that, too, so we got their very best in multiple quality matches.

Earlier this season, we were treated to a pair of matches between Williams and Azarenka that reminded us of those good ol' days of (it's-still-too-recent-to-call-it) yore. Today in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, we were awarded with a third helping.

Watching one of the greatest of a sport's champions have to raise the level of their game to take out an opponent is a wonderful thing. Necessary, even. Players of such high caliber need to be challenged on occasion, to see just how good they really can be. Thanks to the lax security at a tournament in Germany, we never got to see what Steffi Graf's true response was going to be to the sudden appearance of a surging Monica Seles back in the 1990's, and Williams' head-to-head meetings with her sister Venus have almost always been more painful to watch (and for the sisters to play) than exciting. The same goes with Serena's decade-long dominance of Maria Sharapova, the most successful non-Williams foe on tour who has managed to stick around until these latter years of the Williams era.

But Azarenka is here, and after a 2014 season that saw her slide down the rankings during an injury-riddled campaign, it's looking more and more like she might be back. For real. This spring in Madrid, she had triple match point against Williams, then at Roland Garros she held a set and 4-2 advantage. Azarenka lost both of those matches, but she truly believed she was going to win them (whether she had Serena's former hitting partner Sascha Bajin by her side or not), and that she'd win the next time they met, as well.

That makes all the difference in a "rivalry" match, after all. Just look at the Serena/Sharapova series, as the usually confident Russian has often seemed to be psyched out before the first ball had been struck in most of the sixteen matches they've played over the last eleven years. That's never been the case with Vika. Today, Azarenka arrived on Centre Court on Day 8 thinking about how she was going beat Serena, not how close she was going to keep a loss. And, once again, she put herself in a good position to get that win.

But, still, we're talking about THE Serena Williams. So it doesn't necessarily mean Azarenka is going to ACTUALLY win... and that's precisely what happened today, too. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a very good match, and one that makes you eagerly wait with anticipation the arrival their next meeting, perhaps on Azarenka's most-favored hard courts.

Right from the start, Azarenka was into this match. Aside from having to save a single break point in the opening game (the only one she'd face in the set), the #23-seeded Belarusian hit the ground running and needed no time to adjust. Williams held her first service game at love, but Azarenka got the first break of the match for a 3-1 lead soon afterward. Looking as assured as she was when she was ranked #1 in the world, Vika held for 4-1 while both players were striking balls with lawn-killing intent that echoed through the rafters of Centre Court all set (and day) long. Showing no signs of wavering, Azarenka held for 5-2 and was soon at double set point, up 40/15 on Serena's serve.

Forced to raise her game, Williams did. She served up the middle and hit a forehand winner to save the first SP, then a deep shot forced an Azarenka error on the second. She held for 5-3, making Azarenka attempt to serve out the set. At 30/30, Vika's tension was visibly rising, as she had to deal with getting the ball kids to set up their ball exchange process the way she prefers, but she never let the moment of truth overtake her, reaching her third set point by winning a hard-hitting corner to corner rally, then taking the opening stanza 6-3 with a forehand down-the-line winner.

But Williams, as she surely knew she had to be heading into the day, was in this match for the long haul. It was just a matter of staying focused and not veering off course. Not coincidentally, Williams never goes into the sort of extended walkabouts against Azarenka that she sometimes does against "lesser" players. She knows she can't. Not if she wants to win. Which she most assuredly does, as an in-form Vika is a prized pelt for her tennis victory wall.

At 1-1 in the 2nd, Serena held serve as she outlasted Azarenka in a furious exchange of groundstrokes with a huge crosscourt forehand that went off Vika's racket. Still, the "verisimilitude of Vika" was strong. She fearlessly dueled with Williams in multiple rallies in game #4, but Serena still managed to carve out a BP chance. After saving three BP, Azarenka held for 2-2 on her fourth game point. But the stage was set in that game, as the match turned in Williams' favor over the next four games as Serena swept them all to take the 2nd set at 6-2.

Williams saved three BP in games #5 and #7, using big serves and a down-the-line winner to hold in the former, then climbed her way out of a 40/15 hold two games later. She broke the Azarenka serve in back-to-back attempts in games #6 and #8. After being 0-for-4 in BP chances prior to that point in the match, she overcame five total GP for Vika in those two games, breaking with a passing shot that elicited an audible obscenity warning for the Belarusian (whose edginess was growing as the set slipped away) after the first loss of service, then kicking off a brief battle with frustration that carried over into the 3rd set after she broke Vika again to knot the match.

The first three games of the 3rd set went by in a flash, as Williams won her fifth, six and seventh straight games, and Azarenka looked to be in one of the sort of match-ending tailspins that unfortunately characterized the end of her losses to Serena in Madrid and Paris. Williams began teeing off on her groundstrokes, and Azarenka could do little to stop it. Through her first four service games, Serena easily held serve, while Azarenka became all about righting her ship enough to hold her own serve and give herself a shot at something -- anything -- while she was still just one break down. After saving a BP and holding for 3-1, Vika began pumping herself up after nearly every point in order to keep her head in the match. She managed to do it, too, forcing Williams to serve out the match at 5-3 while leading by just a single break.

Then, wouldn't you know it, after having lost just two points on serve in the set, Serena saw Azarenka eke out one last chance for herself in what would be the final game of the match. Vika took at 30/15 lead, only to see Williams fire an ace. Still fighting to stay alive, Azarenka reached BP with a chance to get back on serve after Serena netted a forehand. Again, Williams fired an ace. Another huge serve gave Serena a match point, then Azarenka's forehand miss ended things, with Williams winning 3-6/6-2/6-3.

It's Serena's twenty-sixth straight slam match win, and leaves Azarenka 71-3 in her last seventy-four slam matches after winning the 1st set. Guess who's defeated her in those three matches. Yep. Still, this match only serves to create still more hope that we'll see another chapter -- or two, or three? -- of this possibly re-ignited rivalry before the end of the summer.

Hmmm, how about a Serena-vs.-Vika meeting in a third U.S. Open final, with Williams' Grand Slam dream on the line? Yeah, that's be quite nice.

...the women held center stage today... which is good as long as you're capable of following two matches simultaneously, I suppose. Though it WOULD be nice to maybe only have one match taking place at the same time as another, considering there were only FOUR women's quarterfinals matches to be completed on Tuesday. But I guess we only get the slams we HAVE, not the slams we WANT.

#4 Maria Sharapova def. Coco Vandeweghe 6-3/6-7(3)/6-2

...after looking so good through the opening rounds of this Wimbledon, the slight bobbles Sharapova had in her Round of 16 match against Zarina Diyas -- failing to serve out the 1st and losing much of a huge lead, then falling behind 3-1 in the 2nd -- seemed to point to a slight door being ajar for Vandeweghe to be capable of pulling off an upset here. After all, her serve is bigger and better than Sharapova's, and she hits harder than the Russian, as well... two of the same advantages that a player such as Serena has used to her advantage against her for over a decade. And the Californian Bannerette DID have a shot to turn her slam breakthrough into a monumental leap. If only she'd been able to take full advantage of her #1 weapon. But a bad 1st serve percentage, combined with Sharapova's great return game (especially vs. Coco's 2nd serve) ultimately proved to be the difference over the course of the match.

Right from the start, Vandeweghe had a big opportunity, but Sharapova saved four BP in the opening game of the match. It set the tone for the set. Sharapova hit five double-faults in the 1st, had more errors (10 to 4) and fewer winners (6 to 7) than the American, but she took the set 6-3 on the back of Vandeweghe only being able to put 56% of her 1st serves into play, and then winning just 36% of her 2nd serves. She was also 1-of-7 on BP chances, while the opportunistic Sharapova was 2-of-3.

The issues with Vandeweghe's serve continued into the 2nd. Her toss was problematic and all her service numbers were down from her previous three matches. A third of the way into the set, she's missed ten of eleven 1st serves, making it that much easier for Sharapova to break at love for a 2-1 lead, then hold for 3-1. From there, with the help of her topspin forehand and better speed around the court, though, Vandeweghe finally began to show signs of life in the match (to go along with her lively personality, which often included pumping up the crowd in arm-waving, almost Connors-esque fashion to try to garner some support). She went up 40/love on serve in game #5, though she soon found herself facing a deuce point after three straight errors. She held with a body serve, whipped up the crowd and exposed once again a few of the cracks in Sharapova's mid-match closing abilities that had showed against Diyas.

Sharapova's seventh DF of the day gave Vandeweghe a chance to get into the set in game #6. The Russian held for 4-2, but the Bannerette had gotten the scent of hope. She got an important hold from 30/30 in game #9 and then, with Sharapova serving for the match at 5-4, went up 40/love after the Russian followed up two errors with another DF. Vandeweghe got the break for 5-5, then finally took the lead in the set a game later after going up 40/15 on her own serve, saving two BP, then holding on the strength of the forehand that had gotten her back into the match. Vandeweghe held two set points on Sharapova's serve in game #12, but the #4 seed forced a tie-break. The server lost the first three points of the TB, but then Vandeweghe held with a forehand winner to take a 3-1 lead that she never relinquished. A backhand winner took the breaker 7-3, as Sharapova lost her first set of the tournament. Vandeweghe had managed to knot the match despite six DF in the set and sixteen total errors, but she out-hit Sharapova with nineteen winners to just five for the Russian and used her one well-timed break to make a match of what looked like it would be a straight sets defeat.

But, of course, Sharapova is an expert at winning three-set matches, especially in slams, And the same would be true here (if only the American had been less sloppy on serve in the 1st set maybe it wouldn't have come to that, though). She quickly grabbed a break lead at 2-0, then after giving it back in game #5 immediately broke the American a game later to go up 4-2. Sharapova hit nearly twice as many winner (9) in the eight games played in the 3rd as she did in the twelve+TB in the 2nd, while Vandeweghe had just six. Sharapova flashed her big point prowess, too, converting three of four BP chances, and firing three of the four aces she had in the match in the final set alone.

The win sends Sharapova into her 20th career slam semifinal, but just her second at Wimbledon in the last nine years. Next up is Serena, as the Russian will once again try to end the sixteen-match, eleven-year losing streak against Williams that began after she defeated the world #1 twice in 2004, at Wimbledon and the WTA Championships.

After the match, Vandeweghe complained about Sharapova moving around during her 2nd serve motion. "She was moving around in the middle of my motion on my second serve," Vandeweghe said. "[The umpire] said she didn't believe she was doing it during the motion. I strongly disagreed. Toward the later end of the second set, I said if she has a problem speaking to Maria, if she's too scared to do it, I had no problem speaking to her." She added, "What I experienced, what I felt from her moving around in between my serving motion was not, I don't think, sportsmanlike, in my opinion. I try to play as fair as I can. You know, when I felt like it wasn't being reciprocated, that's when I spoke with the umpire for her to deal with."

Yeah, you know, but maybe if Coco hadn't missed so many 1st serves that wouldn't have been as big an issue. I'm just sayin.

#20 Garbine Muguruza def. #15 Timea Bacsinszky 7-5/6-3

...in a match-up of a baseline ball-striker from Spain and a Swiss (called by Muguruza's coach "one of the three smartest players on tour" earlier in the day) with a game intent on never allowing her opponents to know exactly what sort of shot they're going to get from her next, there was very little margin for error. The battle for a slam semifinal -- which would be Muguruza's first, or Bacsinszky's second straight -- turned on just a few points. And sometimes less.

#15 Bacsinszky saw just two break point chances on the Spaniad's serve in the 1st set, failing to convert either in game #5 as things stayed on serve through eleven games. In the twelfth game, Bacsinszky held a game point on her own serve, but when #20 Muguruza got a look at the chance to hold a rare BP, she fired a wide backhand that forced an error from the Swiss to reach her one and only break point of the set. When Bacsinszky framed a forehand on a low bouncing shot, that was all the Spaniard needed to take the set at 7-5. Muguruza only held a 40-39 advantage in total points in the 1st... with the difference being her lone converted BP.

Bacsinszky finally got her break in the opening game of the 2nd, but immediately gave it back a game later. The Swiss would only see one more BP the rest of the day, failing to convert it in game #5, as Muguruza's power seized control and never went awry in any sort of way that would have allowed Bacsinszky to take advantage (and the sometimes-inconsistent Spaniard has lost quite a few matches under those circumstances the last two seasons, so that's a major step forward). Meanwhile, in game #8, Muguruza broke again in just the second game of the set in which she held a BP (actually, she eventually broke Bacsinszky in all three games in which she had a BP) to take a 5-3 lead. Serving for the match, the Spaniard won it with backhand down the line that landed in the corner to round off a victory that sends her to her first career slam semifinal.

She's the first Spanish woman to reach the Wimbledon semis since 1997.

#13 Aga Radwanska def. #21 Madison Keys 7-6(3)/3-6/6-3

...really, this one went the only way that Radwanska could have hoped in her SW19 dreams. In a match in which Keys out-hit the Pole (12-1 in aces, 48-13 in winners and with a 98-95 point advantage) Radwanska used her ability to absorb power groundstrokes, chase down balls, and keep errors to a bare minimum while not falling into the trap of trying to go for too much on her shots in order to "keep up" with Keys' power (yet still manage to pull out some aggressive offensive moves of her own when absolutely necessary) and make the hard-hitting American take aim at a few additional balls on important points. The tactics, as they often do against players who haven't quite figured out how to harness all their weapons for an entire match, allowed Aga to fell a player whose big game seems tailor-made for Wimbledon success.

Ultimately, Keys may well win this tournament, but she's still got some cleaning up to do with her game. Her forty unforced errors (to just seven for A-Rad) -- though, in a match vs. Radwanska, even "UE's" are often "divined" in some way by the racket-wielding magician's will and strategy -- surely set the stage for her defeat. While Radwanska had her extravagant bag of tricks at the ready, she really didn't have to empty it today. Instead, she played a more straightforward game (for her, as she's always going to have her "spinny" variety) in which she waited out her opponent, taking the initiative on the important points, but generally allowing Keys to experience lingering moments of regret (which she already had from her PREVIOUS encounter with the Pole at Wimbledon two years ago).

In the 1st set, Keys' errors -- some forced, but hardly all -- prevented her from taking a lead against the Pole despite having numerous chances to do so. In game #3, she missed an easy volley on BP, then Radwanska held for 2-1. In game #5, she held two BP on A-Rad's serve, but the #13 seed held for 3-2. After falling down 15/40, Keys used big serving to hold for 4-4, but she was forced to continue to need to hold to stay even with Radwanska after having not taken a break lead earlier in the 1st. Down 6-5, a Keys' DF gave the Pole her first set point. The #21-seeded American eventually saved three SP in the game, holding to force a tie-break by pulling off, of all things vs. Radwanska, a giving-her-a-taste-of-her-own-medicine drop shot. In the TB, though, Keys' errors again put her in the position of having to chase her opponent. Radwanska took a 5-1 lead, then reached SP when a bad bounce caused Keys to whiff on a forehand return. On her fifth SP, A-Rad won the set when Keys fired a forehand long.

In the 2nd set, Keys pulled her game together and cleaned up the sloppiness. She won 88% of her 1st serves (up from 68% in the 1st), and cut her errors from twenty-one to seven.. After breaking Radwanska for 5-3, she served out the set and went to the 3rd looking to win her third match at this Wimbledon after having dropped the opening set.

In the 3rd, at 3-3/deuce, Radwanska pulled out her offense. A big serve up the middle and forehand crosscourt winner combo got her to game point, highlighting a misnomer about the Pole. With good placement, she CAN serve big and effectively. She just chooses to not do it ALL the time because it's more risky, and she always leans more to the smart-and-creative side of her style and personality on game day. (Interestingly, she pulled out serves like that more often as she climbed up the rankings in 2012-13, but hasn't as much since then as she's often sported therapeutic tape on her serving shoulder... something which she is no longer wearing, maybe signaling the willingness to use such tactics more often?). Radwanska held for 4-3, the seventh straight hold of the set, with a Keys error. Then it suddenly happened.

The Pole took a 40/15 lead on Keys' serve in game #8, carving out what would be the only BP chances for either player in the 3rd. A poor lob attempt (from Aga!) was put away with an overhead smash by the American, but the missed opportunity would prove to be Radwanska's final mistake of the day. A Keys forehand error on the second BP gave A-Rad the break at 5-3 and the chance to serve out the match. In the next game, Aga's net approach was rewarded with a volley and overhead winner to take a 30/15 lead. Another Keys forehand error and it was double match point. Radwanska couldn't get back Keys' return off the baseline on MP #1, but a wide serve to Keys' forehand a point later allowed the Pole to come in and put away a forehand winner behind the American, who slipped and fell behind the baseline as Aga's final shot landed inside the line to secure the victory.

Keys, whose 1st serve win percentage dropped back down to 62% in the deciding set, never held a BP in the 3rd, and her twelve UE's were exactly twelve more than Radwanska (who had none). Even in the 6-3 final scoreline of the set, Radwanska only held a 28-25 point advantage. But she won all the ones that mattered.

Radwanska next faces Muguruza, and she'll likely employ a similar game plan for the Spaniard as she did today. The two met in the Round of 16 of last year's Australian Open, and that match played out in a way that one could easily see happen again if Aga has her way (Here's how I described that night match on Laver last year). Against a potentially dangerous opponent who could very well hit her off the court, Radwanska won that one in straight sets as her variety vexed Muguruza and eventually punctured the psyche of a player who can have fits of inconsistency. In fact, whether Aga's mind games had anything to do with it or not, Muguruza lost in her opening match at four of her next five tournaments after losing that match against Radwanska.

It'll be interesting to see how much Garbi has learned since then. The Spaniard is 2-0 vs. A-Rad since that Melbourne match, winning both of those matches against her on hard court this season.

...in junior action on Day 8, the seeds continued to fall in the 2nd Round. #2 Xu Shilin lost to Russian Olesya Pervushina, while #7 Charlotte Robillard-Millette was taken out by another Hordette, Sofya Zhuk. AO girls champ #10 Tereza Mihalikova defeated Roehampton semifinalist Ingrid Neel, leaving #5 Katie Swan as the only remaining teen from the final four of this weekend's big grass court tune-up event in Roehampton.

As was the case in the women's draw, there are more Bannerettes remaining in the girls Round of 16 than players from any other nation. Six Americans survive (only two -- #6 Usue Arconada & #9 Sonya Kenin -- are seeded), while four Russians, two Brits, two Slovaks and a Belarusian and Hungarian round out the field.

...there weren't any women's doubles matches today, but Kristina Mladenovic (w/ Daniel Nestor) and her regular doubles partner, Timea Babos (w/ Alexandra Peya) advanced to the mixed doubles QF. Sania Mirza (w/ Bruno Soares) and Martina Hingis (w/ Leander Paes) did, as well.

LIKE FOR DAY 8: Timea still being Timea. And she'll surely be back to her new/now "old" slam tricks in New York.

DISLIKE FOR DAY 8: Mike Tirico and Chris Evert spending/wasting time during ESPN's match coverage talking about the noises Sharapova makes on court, microphones around the court, Monica Seles' loud beginning and the WTA's response to such "issues." Sharapova has been on tour for a dozen years... this isn't news.

LIKE FOR DAY 8: Even the British players know the deal with V-Wade...



...and, finally, even with several other slam winners still left in the draw, was today's only men's singles result (though they only played one set) a case of Roger Federer's best chance to win another Wimbledon slipping away?

#1 Serena Williams/USA vs. #4 Maria Sharapova/RUS
#20 Garbine Muguruza/ESP vs. #13 Aga Radwanska/POL

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #9 Marin Cilic/CRO
#4 Stan Wawrinka/SUI vs. #21 Richard Gasquet/FRA
Vacek Pospisil/CAN vs. #3 Andy Murray/GBR
#12 Gilles Simon/FRA vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 Hingis/Mirza (SUI/IND) vs. #9 Dellacqua/Shvedova (AUS/KAZ)
#3 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) vs. #5 Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA)
#7 S.Hsieh/Pennetta (TPE/ITA) vs. #4 Babos/Mladenovic (HUN/FRA)
C.Black/Raymond (ZIM/USA) vs. #2 Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS)

#9 Bopanna/Mergea (IND/ROU) vs. #4 Rojer/Tecau (NED/ROU)
#13 J.Murray/Peers (GBR/AUS) vs. (Q) Erlich/Petzschner (ISR/GER)

#1 Mattek-Sands/M.Bryan (USA/USA) vs. Olaru/Venus (ROU/NZL)
#8 Mladenovic/Nestor (FRA/CAN) def. #9 C.Black/Cabal (ZIM/COL)
#3 Vesnina/Matkowski (RUS/POL) vs. #16 Hlavackova/Kubot (CZE/POL)
#7 Hingis/Paes (SUI/IND) def. An.Rodionova/Sitak (AUS/NZL)
#6 Srebotnik/Tecau (SLO/ROU) vs. #10 Kops-Jones/Klaasen (USA/RSA)
Medina-Garrigues/Lindstedt (ESP/SWE) vs. Gajdosova/Zimonjic (AUS/SRB)
#5 Babos/Peya (HUN/AUT) def. Savchuk/Marach (UKR/AUT)
#2 Mirza/Soares (IND/BRA) def. Konjuh/Draganja (CRO/CRO)

(WC) Anna Brogan/GBR vs. (WC) Anastasia Potapova/RUS
#11 Fanni Stollar/HUN vs. Sofya Zhuk/RUS
(Q) Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK vs. Caroline Dolehide/USA
#9 Sonya Kenin/USA vs. #5 Katie Swan/GBR
#6 Usue Arconada/USA vs. #12 Anna Blinkova/RUS
Claire Liu/USA vs. (WC) Tornado Black/USA
Vera Lapko/BLR vs. #10 Tereza Mihalkova/SVK
Michaela Gordon/USA vs. Olesya Pervushina/RUS

#1 Taylor Harry Fritz/USA vs. Franco Capalbo/ARG
#11 Chung Yunseong/KOR vs. #8 Viktor Durasovic/NOR
Reilly Opelka/USA vs. Yosuke Watanuki/JPN
#10 William Blumberg/USA vs. (Q) Denis Shapovalov/CAN
#6 Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera/CHI vs. #12/WC Mikael Ymer/SWE
Alvaro Lopez San Martin/ESP vs. #4 Michael Mmoh/USA
#7 Tommy Paul/USA vs. Johan Nikles/SUI
Patrick Niklas-Salminen/FIN vs. #2 Lee Duck-hee/KOR

#1 Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR) vs. Hunt/Kruger (GBR/GBR)
Ellerbrock/Shuker (GER/GBR) vs. #2 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED)

#1 Houdet/Kunieda (FRA/JPN) vs. Fernandez/Peifer (ARG/FRA)
Gerard/Hewett (BEL/GBR) vs. #2 Jeremiasz/Reid (FRA/GBR)

2004 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2005 Venus Williams, USA
2006 Severine Bremond, FRA
2007 Marion Bartoli, FRA
2008 Zheng Jie, CHN
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2010 Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Aga Radwanska, POL
2013 Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
2014 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2015 Garbine Muguruza, ESP

2007 Venus Williams, USA
2008 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
2009 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2010 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2011 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 Mirjana Lucic, CRO
2013 Marion Bartoli, FRA
2014 The White Shorts (of Victoria Azarenka)
2015 Aga Radwanska, POL

[by career slam SF]
28 - Serena Williams
20 - Maria Sharapova
4 - Aga Radwanska
1 - Garbine Muguruza
[by career WI SF]
9 - Serena Williams
5 - Maria Sharapova
3 - Aga Radwanska
1 - Garbine Muguruza
[consecutive slam SF]
3 - Serena Williams
[consecutive WI SF]
[WTA most career slam SF - active]
19...Venus Williams (14-5)
7...Victoria Azarenka (4-3)
6...Jelena Jankovic (1-5)
5...Svetlana Kuznetsova (4-1)
5...Ana Ivanovic (3-2)
5...Petra Kvitova (2-3)
5...Caroline Wozniacki (2-3)
4...Samantha Stosur (2-2)
4...Vera Zvonareva (2-2)
[WTA most slam SF since 2010 - active]
7...Victoria Azarenka (4-3)
5...Petra Kvitova (2-3)
4...Caroline Wozniacki (1-3)
ALSO: Li Na (4-2), Kim Clijsters (2-1)
[WTA Slam SF since 2010 - by nation]
16...RUS (Sharapova)
14...USA (S.Williams)
4...DEN,POL (A.Radwanska)
1...BUL,ESP (Muguruza),SUI,SVK
[2015 Slam SF "Grand Slam Master List" rankings]
#1 - Serena Williams (AO/RG/WI)
#2 - Maria Sharapova (AO/WI)
#8 - Aga Radwanska (WI)
#9 - Ana Ivanovic (RG)
#11 - Ekaterina Makarova (AO)
#13 - Garbine Muguruza (WI)
#20 - Lucie Safarova (RG)
#24 - Madison Keys (AO)
#76 - Timea Bacsinszky (RG)
[2015 Slam SF]
2...Serena Williams
1...Bacsinszky, Ivanovic, Keys, Makarova, Safarova, Sharapova
[2015 First-Time Slam SF]
AO - Madison Keys, USA
RG - Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
WI - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
[2015 Slam SF - by nation]
[2015 WTA SF]
6...Simona Halep (2-3+W)
5...Karolina Pliskova (4-1)
5...Angelique Kerber (3-1+L)
5...Caroline Wozniacki (3-2)
4...Timea Bacsinszky (3-1)
4...Carla Suarez-Navarro (3-1)
[Players w/ "Career SF Slam" - active; when completed]
Victoria Azarenka, BLR - 2013 RG (30th slam)
Maria Sharapova, RUS - 2007 RG (18th)
Serena Williams, USA - 2003 AO (18th)
Venus Williams, USA - 2001 AO (15th)

**2015 WTA SF**
2...Madison Brengle (1-1)
2...Madison Keys (1-1)
2...Venus Williams (1-1)
2...Alison Riske (0-2)
2...Sloane Stephens (0-2)
1...Lauren Davis (0-1)
1...Varvara Lepchenko (0-1)
1...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-0)
1...Ekaterina Makarova (0-1)
1...Daria Gavrilova (0-1) - AUS
4...Carla Suarez-Navarro (3-1)
1...Lara Arruabarrena (0-1)

15 - Timea Bacsinszky (Feb-Mar)
14 - Simona Halep (Feb-Apr)
12 - Serena Williams (Jan-Mar) [ended by walkover]
12 - Serena Williams (Mar-May)
12...SERENA WILLIAMS (May-current)
11 - Maria Sharapova (Jan)
11 - Angelique Kerber (Apr)
10 - Anna Schmiedlova (Apr-May)

2006 Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
2007 Justine Henin, BEL
2008 Zheng Jie, CHN
2009 Serena Williams, USA *
2010 Serena Williams, USA *
2011 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Sabine Lisicki, GER
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE *
2015 Maria Sharapova, RUS
* - won title

2007 Venus Williams (W), Marion Bartoli (RU), Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic
2008 Venus Williams (W), Serena Williams (RU), Elena Dementieva, Zheng Jie
2009 Serena Williams (W), Venus Williams (RU), Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina
2010 Serena Williams (W), Vera Zvonareva (RU), Petra Kvitova, Tsvetana Pironkova
2011 Petra Kvitova (W), Maria Sharapova (RU), Victoria Azarenka, Sabine Lisicki
2012 Serena Williams (W), Aga Radwanska (RU), Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber
2013 Marion Bartoli (W), Sabine Lisicki (RU), Kirsten Flipkens, Aga Radwanska
2014 Petra Kvitova (W), Genie Bouchard (RU), Simona Halep, Lucie Safarova
2015 Garbine Muguruza, Aga Radwanska, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams

1974 Olga Morozova (RU) - USSR
1997 Anna Kournikova
2004 Maria Sharapova (W)
2005 Maria Sharapova
2006 Maria Sharapova
2008 Elena Dementieva
2009 Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina
2010 Vera Zvonareva (RU)
2011 Maria Sharapova (RU)
2015 Maria Sharapova

*MATCH-UPS of #1's in 2015 SLAMS*
2nd Rd. - Azarenka d. Wozniacki
Final - S.Williams d. Sharapova
3rd Rd. - S.Williams d. Azarenka
4th Rd. - S.Williams d. V.Williams
QF - S.Williams d. Azarenka
SF - S.Williams vs. Sharapova

unseeded - Ann Jones, 1968
unseeded - Rosie Casals, 1969
unseeded - Francoise Durr, 1970
unseeded - Judy Dalton, 1971
unseeded - Yvonne Vermaak, 1983
unseeded - Catarina Lindqvist, 1989
unseeded - Gigi Fernandez, 1994
unseeded - Lori McNeil, 1994
unseeded - Meredith McGrath, 1996
unseeded - Anna Kournikova, 1997
unseeded - Natasha Zvereva, 1998
qualifier - Alexandra Stevenson, 1999
unseeded - Mirjana Lucic, 1999
unseeded - Jelena Dokic, 2000
wild card - Zheng Jie, 2008
unseeded - Petra Kvitova, 2010
unseeded - Tsvetana Pironkova, 2010
wild card - Sabine Lisicki, 2011
#23 - Lucie Safarova, 2014
#23 - Sabine Lisicki, 2013 (RU)
#23 - Venus Williams, 2007 (W)
#21 - Vera Zvonareva, 2010 (RU)
#20 - Garbine Muguruza, 2015
#20 - Kirsten Flipkens, 2013
#18 - Marion Bartoli, 2007 (RU)
#16 - Nathalie Tauziat, 1998 (RU)
#16 - Kathy Rinaldi, 1985
#15 - Marion Bartoli, 2013 (W)
#14 - Venus Williams, 2005 (W)
#13 - Aga Radwanska, 2015
#13 - Genie Bouchard, 2014 (RU)
#13 - Maria Sharapova, 2004 (W)
#12 - Billie Jean King, 1982
#12 - Kimiko Date, 1996
#11 - Bettina Bunge, 1982
#10 - Billie Jean King, 1983
#10 - Gabriela Sabatini, 1986

47 - Marion Bartoli (2013 Wimbledon)
45 - Jana Novotna (1998 Wimbledon)
39 - Francesca Schiavone (2010 Roland Garros)
[ 37th - Aga Radwanska ]
34 - Samantha Stosur (2011 US Open)
31 - Amelie Mauresmo (2006 Australian Open)
29 - Jennifer Capriati (2001 Australian Open)
28 - Kerry Melville-Reid (1978 Australian Open)
26 - Lindsay Davenport (1998 U.S. Open)
25 - Victoria Azarenka (2012 Australian Open)

TOP QUALIFIER: Petra Cetkovska, CZE
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Petra Kvitova/CZE
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #4 Maria Sharapova/RUS
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: #21 Michelle Larcher de Brito/POR d. Ysaline Bonaventure/BEL 1-6/6-3/12-10 (saved 4 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - #6 Lucie Safarova/CZE d. Alison Riske/USA 3-6/7-5/6-3 (Riske up set and 4-2, served 5-4, 2-0 in 3rd)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - #1 Serena Williams/USA d. Heather Watson/GBR 6-2/4-6/7-5 (Watson up dbl-bk 3-0 in 3rd, served at 5-4, 2 pts from win)
FIRST WINNER: #23 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (def. Kontaveit/EST)
FIRST SEED OUT: #24 Flavia Pennetta/ITA (lost 1st Rd. to Diyas/KAZ)
UPSET QUEENS: The Bannerettes
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Italy (Pennetta "FSO" - ITA 4/6 FSO at Wimbledon; Schiavone another 1st Rd; Knapp ret.; Vinci disappoints)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Olga Govortsova/BLR (4th Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT (2nd Rd.)
LAST BRIT STANDING: Heather Watson/GBR (3rd Rd.)
IT ("??"): ("Vandeweghe") Coco Vandeweghe/USA (1st slam QF, lives up to family history w/ New York Knick commentary)
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: #20 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
COMEBACK: #13 Aga Radwanska/POL
CRASH & BURN: #12 Genie Bouchard/CAN (1st Rd. loss to qualifier #117 Duan; was '14 finalist; two con. slam 1st Rd. losses) & #3 Simona Halep/ROU (1st Rd. loss to #106 Cepelova; lost to Bouchard in '14 SW19 semi)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #1 Serena Williams (3rd Rd. - down double-break 3-0 in 3rd set vs. Watson, who served for match at 5-4 and was two points from victory)
THE RADWANSKA AWARD (June 26): Aga Radwanska & the seagull (in Eastbourne, bird swoops at Radwanska as she serves... one day later, she loses in the final)
THE RADWANSKA AWARD (Day 3): Day 3 is the hottest day ever recorded in Wimbledon history (35.7 C / 96 F), fire alarm evacuates Centre Court
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): Nominees: Black/Raymond (combined 77 years old), S.Williams, M.Hingis, K.Srebotnik, C.Black

All for Day 8. More tomorrow.


Blogger jo shum said...

Coco's match was fun

But vika/serena one was amazing. As always I feel bad for vika as so many times a close match and not able to cross the line. But look at those stats! Just great match. It's goes both ways, vika has improved because of matches against serena. How she wins one tournament this year otherwise it's just too sad playing that well. Oh well. On to next. So maybe a revitalised aga making the final again ?! That would be interesting.

Tue Jul 07, 09:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hopefully the hard court season will prove fruitful, and she can head into NYC playing the best she has in about two years.

(fingers crossed)

Tue Jul 07, 11:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Is this the first time 7 of 8 seeds have made the doubles QF? Those are some tough doubles teams left. I don't think if Williams/Williams came back, they would be able to plow through those 8 teams that easily.

Cool - Elias Ymer has a brother.

I can't believe CoCo is so bold... don't you know what happens when you cross people like Sharapova? Be bolder on the courts bc you got schooled there.

The way Garbi is acting reminds me of 2004 Sharapova. Even though she's been around the block, she has that ingenue look.

I think the biggest difference between Garbi and Madison is that Garbi knows she can beat anyone because she's beaten tons of top players in big moments. Keys has only beaten Petra. Keys has more work to do for sure.

The Keys/Radwanska 1st set tie break happened at the same time as Serena/Vika's first set was concluding. It was really hard following both.


I really felt like Serena clued into the fact that Vika was hitting behind her in the middle of the second set. Once Serena started guess right, Vika kind of didn't know where to hit anymore. The second break in the second set killed Vika.

I haven't seen/felt the tension drain out of a match that quickly in a long time. But Serena's really good at sucking the will out of her opponent. I remember against Li Na in the 2010 AO SFs...Serena was 1-2 down in the second set tie-break (and Li Na was *in it*) and then Serena won the next point, let out a huge scream and the tension was gone. Serena won the next 5 points.

The second set scoreline was 62 but it lasted 53 minutes.

Serena is going to have a massive rankings point lead after Wimbledon...The biggest in history?


I wonder who the other two smartest players are? Todd, who do you think?

I was trying to think...

I don't think it's Serena. Serena's genius lies in her ability to control the flow of a match...but that's not tactical genius. That's why Patrick has helped her a lot.

Venus is pretty tactical...but her game plan is always simple...so...maybe not her.

Sharapova has will of steel, but keeps her tactics simple.


Wed Jul 08, 10:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, easily Aga. I think she's been #1 for a while (or at least since Henin retired). I can't immediately think who the other one was he might have been thinking about. Hmmm.

It's actually seven of the top nine seeds in the QF -- 1-2-3-4-5-7-9-un. I had to re-write that section the other day because I was confusing myself.

Still, that's impressive. I'm not sure about ALL the Top 8 seeds reaching the QF (I can't seem to find older Wimbledon WD draws beyond the mid-1990's). But this is still the best overall SW19 performance by the top seeds since 2004, when seven of the top eight -- 1-2-3-4-5-6-8-11 -- did get that far.

Wed Jul 08, 02:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I would think the other one would be Simona.

Wed Jul 08, 08:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Sheesh! Of course... that seems rather obvious now, doesn't it? Day 9 brain-lock.

Wed Jul 08, 09:36:00 PM EDT  

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