Saturday, August 29, 2015

U.S. Open Preview: Pulp Serena

The time has come. Or nearly so. Serena Williams is at history's -- and Steffi's -- doorstep. Who dares to be the one to deny her entrance?

Sure, so far this summer, Serena's serve has been lagging just a little bit behind. But it'll catch-up.

Don't worry, they'll be dancing together at Arthur Ashe Stadium like it was Jack Rabbit Slim's in no time.

For once, all things seem lined up for Williams and the WTA to get their fair and overdue share of the attention come slam time. Serena is everywhere. On the cover of New York Magazine, the New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated (that has to be a rare, if not singular, feat for ANY player leading into the U.S. Open), with the prospect of a Grand Slam and an Open era record-tying 22nd major title on her racket if she can get through the next two weeks unscathed. Or as unscathed as she CAN be at a slam. She usually has to die a little before she really lives at these times of the year.

But she'll never live louder, better or with more vigor than she will if she is once again the last woman standing at the U.S. Open for the fourth straight summer, and for the fifth consecutive slam. Discussions and arguments could then ensue (or not, depending on your preference and patience for such things), but make no mistake -- Williams will forever be involved in "the conversation."

"I cant sit here and say (I'm the greatest). But I can sit here and say that I'm the greatest player that I've been able to be." - Serena

Sixteen years after her breakthrough slam performance as a 17-year old in Flushing Meadows, the soon to be 34-year old Williams is still hitting her stride.

*Serena vs. Current Top 10*
#2 Simona Halep (6-1)
#3 Maria Sharapova (18-2)
#4 Caroline Wozniacki (10-1)
#5 Petra Kvitova (5-1)
#6 Lucie Safarova (9-0)
#7 Ana Ivanovic (9-1)
#8 Karolina Pliskova (1-0)
#9 Garbine Muguruza (3-1)
#10 Carla Suarez-Navarro (6-0)

Yes, it goes without saying, that Serena is the one with the wallet that says "BMF" on it.

[Remember... language and weapons warnings here. We ARE talking Tarantino.]

Now, on with the show...

"It's all up to me. If I decide to play right, it'll be great." - Serena

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... go.

Here's a quick overview of the women's draw, quarter-by-quarter:

1. Serena Williams, USA (#1) ...history is there for the taking, and it's hard to see Serena NOT grabbing hold of it and squeezing tight. Lucic-Baroni (2nd), Stephens/Vandeweghe/Mattek-Sands (3rd) and Keys/A-Rad will put up early resistance, whiles the likes of Bencic/Pliskova/Venus (yikes!) could be there in the middle rounds. But will any one have enough to derail the biggest women's slam achievement (with only Sampras and Federer's all-time slam records possibly equaling it on the men's side) in a quarter-century? When Williams reaches the SF/Final stage at a slam, she generally kicks things into another gear, so the best chance at an upset would probably come earlier. It's not impossible that it could happen, but not likely, either.

Look back at it.

A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

2. Belinda Bencic, SUI (#12) ...the 18-year old knocked off Serena in the Toronto semis en route to the title earlier this month. The Swiss reached the Open QF a year ago when few people were paying her great attention. They will be this time around. How much of a difference will it make? Before a possible QF rematch with Serena, Bencic could face Venus in the 3rd Round. If nothing else, the teenager would get the chance to become the first player this season to notch '15 victories over both Sisters. Surprise Stat of the Day: At least one player has defeated both sisters in a single season every year since 1997.
3. Aga Radwanska, POL (#15) ...Aga raised her game during the grass season, but has gradually lost a little steam on hard courts. Still, she had a shot at winning the U.S. Open Series, and comes to NYC feeling better about her game than she has in a while. She's had four Open Round of 16's during her career, but might get an interesting test from Siniakova in the 1st. Sister Ula could be her 2nd Round opponent (their only slam meeting came at the '11 U.S. Open, with Aga winning easily). The key (wink) to Radwanska's Open might be her possible 3rd Round meeting with Keys, against whom she's 4-0, having defeated her twice at Wimbledon (2013 & '15) in three-set matches in which the Pole's style of play eventually got the best of the American, frustrating her and taking her out in a hail of errors.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #29 Sloane Stephens, USA ...the D.C. champ has looked good this summer, but there are many obstacles in her path in NYC. Vandeweghe in the 1st, Mattek-Sands in the 2nd... and then someone named Serena in the 3rd.
THE BRACKET BUSTER: #19 Madison Keys, USA the last hard court slam, Keys took out Kvitova and Venus en route to the semifinals in Melbourne, where she pushed Serena (1st set TB, and she saved 8 MP in the 2nd). Her recent results don't seem to make her a dark horse, but she's capable of some draw-changing wins, including against her slam nemesis Radwanska (on a hard court, not Aga's favored AELTC grass) in the 3rd Round...a match after which she'd likely get a rematch with Serena.
DON'T COUNT HER CZECHENS: #8 Karolina Pliskova, CZE ...the (cough, cough) U.S. Open Series champ STILL hasn't advanced past the 3rd Round at a major (even her sister outlasted her at Wimbledon, though Kristyna lost in Open qualifying this week). Qualifier Tatishvili in the 1st Round, Brengle in the 2nd or Pavlyuchenkova in the 3rd could keep the Czech out of another Round of 16, where she'd likely meet either Venus or Bencic.
THE POOR SOUL: Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS ...Serena's 1st Round opponent. Serena is 59-1 in slam 1st Rounds.

1. Maria Sharapova, RUS??? (#3) ...Maria says her leg injury is "day-by-day," and with Gavrilova on deck in the 1st Round (she def. Sharapova in Miami) that could be a very bad thing. It could be a "Crash-and-Burn" moment waiting to happen. Losing the #2 seed to Halep at the last moment might turn out to be a VERY big deal, and not because Sharapova could have been on the other side of the draw from Serena. A few days could make all the difference for her at this Open, and it'd been beneficial to have a somewhat less tricky opening round opponent in her first match back. Can Gavrilova take advantage of her good fortune?
2. A Serb (#21 JJ or #7 AnaIvo) ...if Sharapova isn't the "favorite" here, it might be a Serb, one of which could meet her in a potential QF match. After Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic face off in the 4th Round, that is. While AnaIvo has Cibulkova in the 1st Round and only has one Open QF on her resume, JJ faces a wild card (Dodin), then gets the Kenin/Duque winner, then probably either the slumping CSN or Vinci at the only slam at which Queen Chaos has ever reached a final (2008, when she played Serena close). Could Jankovic's resurgent summer continue? Oh, and Bojana Jovanovski is in here, too... just to cover ALL the bases.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #30 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS ...Sveta won the title in 2004, but you know how this goes. ANY result is possible, even one no one would EVER see coming. She faces Kiki Mladenovic in the 1st Round, and her Open could end right there. Also, she's in the same section as Sharapova (3rd Rd.), with the Makarova/Svitolina (4th) section survivor nearby. Of course, this could mean Kuznetsova is destined for a second week run. Sveta. (rolling eyes)
THE BRACKET BUSTER: Daria Gavrilova, RUS-AUS ...if Sharapova's leg injury lets the Russo-Aussie get her teeth into this Open, she might be THE story of the tournament in the first week. She's put up three Top 10 wins this season (one over Sharapova in Miami) and six vs. Top 20 players. She was physically compromised in her Rome rematch with Sharapova, but still put up a good fight (esp. in a 7-5 1st set). If Sharapova is healthy in their third '15 meeting in the 1st Round, Gavrilova's story will likely end before it begins. But if Gavrilova (the 2010 U.S. Jr. champ) pulls off the upset, a star will be born.
THE WILD CARD: Dominika Cibulkova, SVK ...back from her injury absence, the Slovak's results have been improving this summer (def. Stephens, close vs. Safarova). She reached the final and QF at the last two Australian Opens on hard court, but has lost in the 1st Round the last two years at Flushing Meadows. She faces Ivanovic in the 1st Round this year.
DON'T COUNT HER CHICKENS: #13 Ekaterina Makarova, RUS ...the '14 semifinalist has been battling injury and bad form this summer, and her draw doesn't appear kind to a repeat performance. She'll probably get past Pereira in the 1st, but Watson (2nd), Svitolina (3rd) and a potential "Russian-born blockade" of either Sharapova, Kuznetsova or Gavrilova (4th) would seem far too many hurdles to clear. Plus, she's the #13 seed... and maybe that means something unlucky awaits.
THE POOR SOUL: #25 Genie Bouchard, CAN ...I hope Genie gets a photo with Jimmy Connors since he won't likely be allowed to hang around practice for very much longer if the Canadian's stay in the Open draw is as short as it appears it might be. Alison Riske is an "upset" waiting to happen in the 1st Round, as would be a match against Zarina Diyas (who ended Bellis' storybook few days in NYC last year) in the 2nd. If she somehow survived to the 3rd, she'd probably face AnaIvo. But does anyone REALLY expect her to be around that long?

1. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (#4) ...the '14 runner-up, if healthy, is a threat to return to the final weekend. She was in good form in New Haven, but comes to Flushing Meadows with a nagging knee issue that begs for a few easy matches in the first week before she'd have to face Pennetta in the 3rd Round.
2. Flavia Pennetta, ITA (#26) ...the Italian vet has reached four QF and a SF in her last six Open appearances. She loves NYC, and NYC loves Flavia... especially under the lights. Hmmm, just where that 3rd Rounder vs. the Dane "surely" would be if she survives a 1st Round match vs. Gajdosova, and a possible 2nd Rounder against "unconventional" Swarmette Niculescu.

ENDANGERED SEED(s)?: #9 Garbine Muguruza, ESP or #18 Andrea Petkovic, GER a perfect world, both these two could take advantage of what could be a semi wide-open section of the draw. But Muguruza hasn't won a match since her Wimbledon final run (and could get tested as early as the 1st Round by Witthoeft, or the 2nd by qualifier Konta), while Petkovic has to stave off an upset bid from Garcia in the 1st Round in NYC. If they survive the first four days, they'll face each other in the 3rd Round BEFORE Kvitova could even come up in the draw.
THE BRACKET BUSTER: Aleksanda Krunic, SRB ...The Bracelet was the first week star of the Open in '14, qualifying and defeating Keys and Kvitova, and nearly Azarenka, too, en route to the Round of 16. She's got a tough draw again, but history could repeat itself. Potential first seed up: #32 Anna Schmiedlova in the 2nd Round.
THE WILD CARD: #32 Anna Schmiedlova, SVK ...the Slovak has had a breakthrough season in '15, winning two titles and just slipping into the seeds with a QF run in Cincinnati. She's yet to reach the 4th Round at a slam, though. She opens this week with Julia Goerges, then might get '14 star Krunic before a 3rd Rounder vs. Kvitova. She's capable of winning all those matches. But is her maiden second week run at a slam more likely to happen in 2016 than here?
DON'T COUNT HER CHICKENS: #5 Petra Kvitova, CZE ...Kvitova isn't the highest-seeded player in this section (Caro is, though the Czech just defeated her in New Haven), so when she goes out early it won't be QUITE as big a headline as usual. Remember, she's only reached the Round of 16 twice in New York, and the last time was 2012. Her recent mono diagnosis gives hope that she might figure out her health issues soon, but it won't likely mean much here. Sure, her NH run this week has been admirable, but she won the title last year then was dumped out in the 3rd Round of the Open by Aleksanda Krunic (and the east coast humidity). Same story, different name this time around. Hmmm, or maybe not... she could face Krunic in the 3rd Round again this year.
THE POOR SOUL: #22 Samantha Stosur, AUS ...since the Aussie's title run in 2011, her Open results haven't exactly been encouraging. She followed up with a QF a year later (def. by Vika in a 3rd set TB), but was upset by Vicky Duval in the 1st Round in '13 and failed to convert a MP in a 2nd Round match vs. Kanepi last year. She faces Babos in the 1st Round this year (not a gimme). The draw -- her section is filled with #16 Errani and four qualifiers, including potentially dangerous Latvian teen Ostapenko -- says she could reach the Round of 16 and face either the Dane or Pennetta. But when we expect such things of Sam, well...

1. Simona Halep, ROU (#2) ...Halep's slam results over the last year -- 3rd-QF-2nd-1st -- leave a lot to be desired, but the Romanian seems to have turned the corner this summer on hard courts, rediscovering her defense-into-offense mojo and learning to block out some of overbearing pressure on her shoulders. But things are different in a slam. Lucic-Baroni upset her in NYC last year, and Erakovic gets the first crack this time. With so many questions hanging over other contenders, Halep might be Serena's most intriguing opponent for the final (assuming Vika isn't up to par). Much like with Williams, getting that far would seem to be on Simona's racket.
2. Angelique Kerber, GER (#11) ...Kerber's season pattern has been to have great pre-slam results, but hardly back them up when the majors come around. Still, she's the Stanford champ and a former Open semifinalist. Her 1st Rounder vs. Dulgheru is potentially worrisome, and Azarenka could be around for a big-time (nighttime!! -- he said, to surely deaf USTA ears) 3rd Round clash. 1 a.m. finish, anyone?
3. Lucie Safarova, CZE (#6) ...could the Czech be peaking right on schedule for another slam? Her week in New Haven after a mediocre hard court summer hints that it could be so. She's reached two slam semifinals in the last fifteen months. She'll have to beat Tsurenko for the second time in a handful of days in the 1st Round, though... and that won't be easy.
ENDANGERED SEED?: #24 Sabine Lisicki, GER's not Wimbledon, so it's possible that Sabine hits the ejector button early. She's only had one Round of 16 result at the Open, and has lost on hard courts this summer to players spanning the age spectrum from 18 (Bencic) to 44 (Date-Krumm). She'll get qualifier Sasnovich in the 1st Round, then maybe Camila Giorgi in the 2nd. Yep, that's the same Italian whose game Lisicki's countrywoman Petkovic said the other week "defies physics."
THE BRACKET BUSTER: Lesia Tsurenko, UKR ...the Ukrainian can get on a roll, as we've seen this season. She knocked off two Top 10 players to reach the QF at Indian Wells, won in Baku and put together a 10-match winning streak, then this past week in New Haven she was a "lucky loser" who reached the semis (the second time she's done that as a LL in her career) before losing to Safarova. She'll meet up with the Czech again in the Open 1st Round, and if she gets some revenge in that one and (once again) gets and stays hot, it's not out of the question that SHE might the one who emerges to face Halep in the QF.
THE WILD CARD: #20 Victoria Azarenka, BLR ...Vika's progress this season has always seemed aimed at a good result at the Open, but then a thigh injury ended her Cincinnati run early and put into question whether she'll even be able to be a full strength for this slam. She might be able to get past Hradecka (1st) and Wickmayer/Schiavone (2nd) if she's not 100%, but if Kerber is waiting for her in the 3rd Round, anything that hinders her movement could be lethal. If she's healthy, though, it sure would be interesting to see what would happen should the two-time U.S. Open finalist (and QF last year) last long enough to see Halep in the final eight.
DON'T COUNT HER CHICKENS: #14 Timea Bacsinszky, SUI ...the Swiss' comeback season hasn't produced much to speak of on the hard courts this summer, and she's been passed in the rankings by countrywoman Bencic. Bacsinszky HAS managed to bring out the good stuff at the slams (SF in Paris and a near upset of Serena, QF at SW19), but it's hard not to look at her 1st Rounder vs. Strycova and wonder if she might end up having a lot of time to see the sights in the Big Apple.
THE POOR SOUL: Francesca Schiavone, ITA ...the Italian vet will be appearing in her 61st consecutive slam, one off the WTA record (62) held by Ai Sugiyama. Schiavone, 35, comes to NY on a four-match losing streak (she's 12-20 on the season, 8-15 in MD), having lost in the 1st Round at the last three U.S. Opens and at eight of the last nine slams. She's in danger of finishing the season outside the Top 100 for the first time since 1999. She faces Wickmayer in the 1st.

**U.S. OPEN TOP SEEDS - since 2002**
2002 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2003 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
2005 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2006 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2007 Justine Henin, BEL (W)
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2009 Dinara Safina, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2011 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2014 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2015 Serena Williams, USA (W)

101...Chris Evert
89...Martina Navratilova
73...Steffi Graf
62...Lindsay Davenport

2006: Maria Sharapova (W), Justine Henin-Hardenne (RU), Jelena Jankovic, Amelie Mauresmo
2007: Justine Henin (W), Svetlana Kuznetsova (RU), Anna Chakvetadze, Venus Williams
2008: Serena Williams (W), Jelena Jankovic (RU), Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina
2009: Kim Clijsters (W), Caroline Wozniacki (RU), Yanina Wickmayer, Serena Williams
2010: Kim Clijsters (W), Vera Zvonareva (RU), Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki
2011: Samantha Stosur (W), Serena Williams (RU), Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki
2012: Serena Williams (W), Victoria Azarenka (RU), Maria Sharapova, Sara Errani
2013: Serena Williams (W), Victoria Azarenka (RU), Li Na, Flavia Pennetta
2015: Serena Williams (W), Caroline Wozniacki (RU), Ekaterina Makarova, Peng Shuai

2005 Victoria Azarenka/BLR def. Alexa Glatch/USA
2006 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2007 Kristina Kucova/SVK def. Urszula Radwanska/POL
2008 Coco Vandeweghe/USA def. Gabriela Paz/VEN
2009 Heather Watson/GBR def. Yana Buchina/RUS
2010 Daria Gavrilova/RUS def. Yulia Putintseva/RUS
2011 Grace Min/USA def. Caroline Garcia/FRA
2012 Samantha Crawford/USA def. Anett Kontaveit/EST
2013 Ana Konjuh/CRO def. Tornado Black/USA
2014 Marie Bouzkova/CZE def. Anhelina Kalinina/UKR

[Open Era]
1968 Virginia Wade, GBR
1979 Tracy Austin, USA
1990 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1998 Lindsay Davenport, USA
1999 Serena Williams, USA
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Samantha Stosur, AUS

1997 U.S. Open - Venus Williams
1999 U.S. Open - Serena Williams (W)
2004 Wimbledon - Maria Sharapova (W)
2004 U.S. Open - Svetlana Kuznetsova (W)
2007 Roland Garros - Ana Ivanovic
2008 U.S. Open - Jelena Jankovic
2009 U.S. Open - Caroline Wozniacki
2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone (W)
2010 Roland Garros - Samantha Stosur
2010 Wimbledon - Vera Zvonareva
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova (W)
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka (W)
2012 Roland Garros - Sara Errani
2012 Wimbledon - Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Sabine Lisicki
2014 Australian Open - Dominika Cibulkova
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep
2014 Wimbledon - Eugenie Bouchard
2015 Roland Garros - Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon - Garbine Muguruza

2012 AO: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2012 RG: Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2012 US: Serena Williams, USA
2013 AO: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 RG: Serena Williams, USA
2013 WI: Marion Bartoli, FRA
2013 US: Serena Williams, USA
2014 AO: Li Na, CHN
2014 RG: Maria Sharapova, RUS
2014 WI: Petra Kvitova, CZE
2014 US: Serena Williams, USA
2015 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2015 RG: Serena Williams, USA
2015 WI: Serena Williams, USA

1999 Serena Williams, USA
2000 Venus Williams, USA
2001 Venus Williams, USA
2002 Serena Williams, USA
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2006 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2007 Justine Henin, BEL
2008 Serena Williams, USA
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2010 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2012 Serena Williams, USA
2013 Serena Williams, USA
2014 Serena Williams, USA

8...Serena Williams (6-2)
4...Venus Williams (2-2)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
2...Victoria Azarenka (0-2)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (0-2)
1...Maria Sharapova (1-0)
1...Samantha Stosur (1-0)
1...Jelena Jankovic (0-1)
1...Vera Zvonareva (0-1)

[won Girls & Ladies titles]
Lindsay Davenport (1992 Jr. Champion; 1998 Women's champion)
Martina Hingis (1994 Junior RU; 1997 Women's Champion)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2001 Junior RU; 2004 Women's champion)
Victoria Azarenka (2005 Junior champion; 2012-13 Women's RU)

1970 Margaret Court, AUS
1972 Billie Jean King, USA
1976 Chris Evert, USA
1982 Chris Evert-Lloyd, USA
1983 Martina Navratilova, USA
1986 Martina Navratilova, USA
1987 Martina Navratilova, USA
1988 Steffi Graf, GER *
1989 Steffi Graf, GER
1993 Steffi Graf, GER
1995 Steffi Graf, GER
1996 Steffi Graf, GER
1997 Martina Hingis, SUI
2000 Venus Williams, USA *
2001 Venus Williams, USA
2002 Serena Williams, USA
2012 Serena Williams, USA *
* - also won Olympic Gold

Unseeded - 2000 Elena Dementieva, RUS
Unseeded - 2009 Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
Unseeded - 2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
Unseeded - 2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
Unseeded - 2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
Wild Card - 2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL (W)
#28 - 2011 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#19 - 2006 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
#16 - 2014 Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
#12 - 2005 Mary Pierce, FRA (RU)
#12 - 2007 Venus Williams, USA
#10 - 2001 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#10 - 2002 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
#10 - 2012 Sara Errani, ITA
#10 - 2014 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (RU)

1970 Margaret Court (completed Grand Slam)
1984 Martina Navratilova (lost in AO semifinals in Dec.)
1988 Steffi Graf (completed "Golden Slam" w/ GS + Olympic Gold)
2015 Serena Williams (???)

1969-71 Margaret Court
1983-84 Martina Navratilova
1988-89 Steffi Graf
1993-94 Steffi Graf
2002-03 Serena Williams
2014-15 Serena Williams (active streak)
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

8...Serena Williams, USA (age 30-33)
3...Martina Navratilova, USA (age 30-33)
3...Margaret Court, AUS (age 30-31)
2...Billie Jean King, USA (age 30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert, USA (age 30 & 31)
1...Virginia Wade. GBR (age 31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones, GBR (age 30)

2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova (W), Elena Dementieva (RU)
2005 Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova
2006 Maria Sharapova (W)
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RU), Anna Chakvetadze
2008 Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina
2009 -
2010 Vera Zvonreva (RU)
2011 -
2012 Maria Sharapova
2013 -
2014 Ekaterina Makarova

AO (4): 1969,1970,1974,1993
RG (1): 1992
WI (10): 1973,1976,1978,1979,1988,1992,1995,2003,2006,2009
US (1): 1975

2004 Lindsay Davenport, USA
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL *
2006 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2008 Dinara Safina, RUS
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2011 Serena Williams, USA
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Serena Williams, USA *
2014 Serena Williams, USA *
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
* - also won U.S. Open title

#1 S.Williams d. #19 Keys
#12 Bencic d. #8 Ka.Pliskova
Gavrilova d. #17 Svitolina
#21 Jankovic d. #7 Ivanovic
#9 Muguruza d. Krunic
#4 Wozniacki d. (Q) Ostapenko
#6 Safarova d. #11 Kerber
#2 Halep d. #14 Bacinszky

...yep, I did it. I actually DID pick Gavrilova to knock off (an injured) Sharapova in the 1st Round. Hey, why not? With the final prediction difficult to waver from, you've got to take some big chances SOMEWHERE to make things interesting, right? Of course, Gavrilova will probably lose in the 1st Round, and this prediction (and those that follow) will go up in smoke in a flash. But what if it DOES happen? Oh, it'd be nice to have picked it. So I did. A sucker... that's what I am, I guess. Well, either that or the Eternal Sunshine of the Gavrilovian Mind is contagious.

#1 S.Williams d. #12 Bencic
Gavrilova d. #21 Jankovic
#4 Wozniacki d. #9 Muguruza
#2 Halep d. #6 Safarova

...I probably should pick JJ out of the Sharapova section, which will be up for grabs big-time if Maria isn't physically ready for a run. But I can't up the Gavrilovian ghost.

#1 S.Williams d. Gavrilova
#2 Halep d. #4 Wozniacki

...hey, I'm not THAT crazy.

#1 S.Williams d. #2 Halep

...Serenativity def. Simonativity.

#1 Djokovic d. #18 Lopez
#9 Cilic d. #4 Nishikori
#3 Murray d. #5 Wawrinka
#2 Federer d. #6 Berdych

...Cilic/Nishikori is a better QF than final.

#1 Djokovic d. #9 Cilic
#2 Federer d. #3 Murray

...I'm not against Cilic maybe revving up his serve yet again and reaching another final, just like last year. But... nah.

#2 Federer d. #1 Djokovic

...that'd be a nice ending, I think. Plus, it'd keep me from writing another Djokovic-Gets-His-Due post after the final.

All for now. Day 1 -- and the Daily Backspin -- awaits, as well as a quick Week 34 recap.


Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, with Sharapova pulling out of the Open... needless to say, I'm liking my Gavrilova to win the 1st Round pick even better now. ;)

What a loss of star power, though. Ugh. :(

Sun Aug 30, 06:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

I think that's why she pulled out last min.

Did the promotion round for her candies and Nike

Mon Aug 31, 01:50:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I think she got the promotions in while she could (and also, maybe she was hoping for the best and buying time). Pova doesn't run from a fight.

Mon Aug 31, 10:11:00 AM EDT  

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