Saturday, September 19, 2015

3Q BSA's: Always Leave 'em Wanting More

Sometimes the end really IS the beginning, and the beginning really IS the end.

"I need to say one thing more. Before I started this tournament, like one month ago, I take a big decision on my life, and this is the way I would like to say goodbye to tennis." - Flavia Pennetta, after winning the U.S. Open

*3Q Awards - Weeks 28-36*
1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
...for the top spot in the quarter, one brilliant result is apparently enough. Over the span of two weeks, Pennetta turned around a mediocre season (17-15 and 3-3 in slams in '15, 2-4 on summer hard courts and 21-20 since last year's U.S. Open) and produced a career-defining series of moments in New York. With two Top 4 (Kvitova & Halep) victories, and then a straight sets win in the all-Italian U.S. Open final against Roberta Vinci, in one fell swoop Flavia became the oldest first-time slam champ (at 33) and the woman who'd waited the longest (49 slams) to step into the champion's circle. The first-ever Italian woman to reach the Top 10 in 2009, she's suddenly at her highest-ever ranking (#8). But having announced her impending retirement only moments BEFORE she lifted the Open's championship cup, Pennetta has already fastforward to the epilogue stage of her career. Whatever comes next (Fed Cup Captain, a Hingis-esque doubles comeback in 2017?), her place in tennis history is now secure. The next conundrum... which of the Italian Quartet has had the best career?
2. Martina Hingis, SUI
...the Original Swiss Miss turns 35 in two weeks, and her career renaissance is in full swing. Coming to North America off her sweep of the doubles and mixed titles at Wimbledon, Hingis was arguably the hottest and most consistent player on the summer hard courts on the entire tour. Once again, she swept both doubles titles at a slam, claiming a second straight major crown with Sania Mirza and getting her third '15 mixed slam with Leander Paes at the U.S. Open. The titles run her career slam trophy total to twenty and are her first at Flushing Meadows since 1998, when she took home both the singles and doubles hardware. But that wasn't all of Martina's summer swing. She also helped mentor Swiss teen (and her coach mom's young charge) Belinda Bencic to her Toronto title, and led the Washington Kastles to yet another World Team Tennis championship, as well.
3. Serena Williams, USA
...her Grand Slam quest came up three sets short in the Open semifinals, but Williams was still one of the top players of the summer hard court season. It says something about the expectations placed on Serena's shoulders that putting up a 15-2 record, reaching a slam semi and defending her Cincinnati title all seem somehow lackluster accomplishments in lieu of what she DIDN'T pull off in New York. Make no mistake, though, this hard court season was Williams' least dominating stretch in a while, as after not losing a three-set match in a year (vs. Venus last summer in Montreal) she dropped TWO (vs. Bencic in Toronto, and Vinci in NYC) in the last few weeks. Still, at 53-3 (.946 winning pct.) she's in contention for the most consistent season of her career (a .951 clip in '13), and is now 241-19 since 2012.
4. Belinda Bencic, SUI
...a year after pushing her name near the top of the "NextGen" In Box with a QF run at the Open a year ago, the 18-year old legitimized her status with a star-making title run in Toronto that included four Top 10 wins, including over #3 Simona Halep (who rose to #2 the following Monday) and, wait for it... #1 Serena Williams in her first three-set loss in a full year. Bencic was the youngest player to defeat Williams in a completed match since Maria Sharapova in 2004, and she followed up her Rogers Cup win with additional victories in Cincinnati over Angelique Kerber and U.S. Open champ-to-be Flavia Pennetta before finally retiring in her next match. The loss (to Safarova) dropped her season mark vs. Top 10 players to 7-2, but she still ultimately ended up 11-3 on summer hard courts after falling to Venus Williams in the 3rd Round in New York, and added a doubles title in Washington with Kristina Mladenovic, too.
5. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
...even with Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova threatening to put on a Grand Slam run at midseason, the Dream Team of Hingis & Mirza have risen to the top of the rankings on the WTA computer and in the 2015 Road to Singapore race. They won their second straight slam as a duo at the U.S. Open, building on their summer hard court semis in Toronto and Cincinnati. In all, the vets have played twelve tournaments together, winning five and reaching another final, as well as three additional semis. Their three non-SF or better results all came on red clay, and were after Hingis physically compromised (and injured) herself playing two singles matches for Switzerland's Fed Cup squad in April.
6. Simona Halep, ROU
...what to make of Halep. She might be the player who has proven to be quite possibly the best hard court player on tour in '15, going 37-6, including 13-3 on the surface this summer (after a mediocre 8-6 clay/grass stretch) with "Simonativity"-heavy final runs in Toronto and Cincinnati and a semi at the U.S. Open during a stretch in which she went 6-1 in full three-set matches and 8-1 vs. the Top 25 (with the loss in both coming via a hard-fought retirement vs. Bencic). But she also might be the who once again put forward a weak-kneed performance in her closing slam match, falling away against (then-#26) Pennetta in the semis in a performance that likely kept her from leaving New York with a slam title in her possession. The Romanian opened '15 on a 24-3 hard court tear that saw her win titles at three of her first four events, but she's title-less in her last ten since then. At #2 in the rankings, Halep is STILL a "future slam champ" in the eyes of most, if not all, but if that view continues to, not coincidentally, weigh her down just when she gets close to being able to claim a major title... well, she'll soon go from the player "most likely" to an "underachiever" at some point down the line. Maybe even by this time next year.

7. Angelique Kerber, GER
...again, the German's career season followed a familiar pattern in the 3Q. She shined early, winning her fourth '15 title on a fourth different surface in Stanford, but wasn't able to carry over her momentum (she was 4-3 post-Stanford) to a deep slam run. While Kerber and amazing matches have pretty much been synonymous this year, her latest was the 3rd Round loss to Vika Azarenka in the Open (she lost to her at Wimbledon, too) that also dropped her slam mark to 6-4 this season. It's the sole reason why Kerber has yet to secure a return spot in the Top 10 even with her 41 match wins and undefeated record in finals.
8. Washington Kastles
...the reigning World Team Tennis champs -- Martina Hingis, Leander Paes, Anastasia Rodionova, Madison Brengle, Sam Querrey and, at times, Venus Williams, Rajeev Ram & Denis Kudla -- became the first team to win five straight WTT titles with a victory in the final over the Austin Aces. The Kastles have been champions in six of the last seven seasons, and a few years after setting the North American team record for consecutive victories, they're now challenging the continent's record for consecutive championship seasons (8), as well.
9. Roberta Vinci, ITA
...even more so than Pennetta, Vinci rescued a mostly forgettable season with one great run at the U.S. Open, where she became the fourth of the greatest Italian generation -- after Schiavone, Errani & Pennetta -- to reach a slam singles final (three of them had already reached doubles #1, and all but Vinci the singles Top 10) at age 32. She sported just a 21-20 record coming into New York, and was 5-10 in three-setters on the season. A week before heading to Flushing Meadows, Vinci was relegated to New Haven qualifying with a ranking outside the Top 40 just a few weeks after a quick loss to Serena Williams in Toronto. In New York, though, she won four straight three-setters and pulled off what will be a legendary tennis upset with her win over #1 Williams in the semis, ending Serena's Grand Slam dream. It was Vinci's first Top 20 win since last September in Beijing (def. A-Rad & Makarova). While Pennetta announced that she is retiring, Vinci did nothing of the kind. She's back in the Top 20 for the first time in fifteen months, and the six best slam results of her entire career have ALL come since she turned 29 (the same age that Steffi Graf retired), with the top three (two QF and this year's final) coming at the Open.
10. Petra Kvitova, CZE
...following her post-Wimbledon mono diagnosis, Kvitova had a predictably slow start (0-2) to the North American hard court season, where she's traditionally been bedeviled by the humidity due to her asthma and other breathing issues. But she rebounded in New Haven, defending her title and stringing together four Top 20 (two Top 6 -- Wozniacki & Safarova) victories en route to the title. She ultimately ended the quarter on an 8-1 run before going out -- breathing heavily while losing in the heat to Pennetta in the QF after what was still her best-ever U.S. Open result. It's been an odd season for Kvitova, she's 34-11 with three titles, but her best slam result came at what has traditionally been her WORST major. Meanwhile, she's lined up for a third Top 5 finish in five seasons and is 3-1 against the Top 10 and 6-3 vs. the Top 20, but eight of her eleven losses have come to players ranked outside the Top 20. Oh, Petra.

Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
Casey Dellacqua & Yaroslava Shvedova, AUS/KAZ
Jiske Griffioen & Aniek Van Koot, NED/NED (WC)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
Samantha Stosur, AUS
Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
Jordanne Whiley, GBR (WC)

"It might not go your way, but at least you're out ther trying." - Sloane Stephens

1. Simona Halep, ROU
2. Angelique Kerber, GER
3. Petra Kvitova, CZE
4. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
5. Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
6. Johanna Konta, GBR
7. Sloane Stephens, USA
8. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
9. Jordanne Whiley, GBR (WC)
10. Madison Keys, USA
11. Aga Radwanska, POL
12. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
13. Zheng Saisai, CHN
14. Johanna Larsson, SWE
15. Karin Knapp, ITA
16. Sabine Lisicki, GER
17. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
18. Monica Niculescu, ROU
19. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO/AUS
20. Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS
21. Mona Barthel, GER
22. Caroline Garcia, FRA
23. Misaki Doi, JPN
24. Madison Brengle, USA
25. Anna Tatishvili, USA
26. Kiki Bertens, NED
27. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
28. Christina McHale, USA
29. Wang Yafan, CHN
30. Monica Puig, PUR
HM- Mariana Duque, COL

1. Belinda Bencic, SUI
2. Elina Svitolina, UKR
3. Daria Gavrilova, RUS-AUS
4. Anett Kontaveit, EST
5. Daria Kasatkina, RUS
6. Jelena Ostapanko, LAT
7. Margarita Gasparyan, RUS
8. Danka Kovinic, MNE
9. Oceane Dodin, FRA
10. Annika Beck, GER
11. Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
12. Denisa Allertova, CZE
13. Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
14. Shelby Rogers, USA
15. Jessica Pegula, USA
16. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
17. Maria Sakkari, GRE
18. Mayo Hibi, JPN
19. Louisa Chirico, USA
20. Carina Witthoeft, GER
21. Maria Bouzkova, CZE
22. Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
23. Samantha Crawford, USA
24. Robin Anderson, USA
25. Chanelle Van Nguyen, USA
HM- Julia Jones, USA

1. Dalma Galfi, HUN
2. Sonya Kenin, USA
3. Russian Fed Cup 14s
4. Claire Liu, USA
5. Bianca Andreescu, CAN
6. Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN
7. Francesca Di Lorenzo, USA
8. Fanny Stollar, HUN
9. Vera Lapko, BLR
10. Sofya Zhuk, RUS
11. Xu Shilin, CHN
12. Sara Tomic, AUS
13. Julia Estable, ARG
14. Kylie McKenzie, USA
15. Iryna Shymanovich, BLR
16. Jil Teichmann, SUI
17. Elena Rybakina, RUS
18. Elena Gabriela Ruse, ROU
19. Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, FRA
20. Tornado Alicia Black, USA
21. Vlada Koval, RUS
22. Anastasia Potapova, RUS
23. Raveena Kingsley, USA
24. Emily Arbuthnutt, GBR
25. Maia Lumsden, GBR
26. Jessica Pieri, ITA
27. Karman Thandi, IND
28. Georgia Andreea Craciun, ROU
29. Anastasia Detiuc, MDA
30. Victoria Kuzmova, SVK
HM- Anna Kalinskaya, RUS

1. Teliana Pereira, BRA
2. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
3. Lara Arruabarrena, ESP
4. Patricia Maria Tig, ROU
5. Victoria Rodriguez, MEX

6. Andreea Mitu, ROU
7. Laura Siegemund, GER
8. Julia Glushko, ISR
9. Alexandra Panova, RUS
10. Naomi Broady, GBR
11. Olga Govortsova, BLR
12. Magda Linette, POL
13. Kateryna Kozlova, UKR
14. Tereza Mrdeza, CRO
15. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR
16. Han Xinyun, CHN
17. Lu Jia-Jing, CHN
18. Zhu Lin, HKG
19. Alize Lim, FRA
20. Tereza Martincova, CZE
HM- Liu Fangzhou, CHN

1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2. Martina Hingis, SUI
3. Serena Williams, USA
4. Roberta Vinci, ITA
5. Angelique Kerber, GER
6. Sania Mirza, IND
7. Samantha Stosur, AUS
8. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
9. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
10. Sara Errani, ITA
11. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
12. Lucie Safarova, CZE
13. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
14. Venus Williams, USA
15. Varvara Lepchenko, USA
16. Andrea Petkovic, GER
17. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
18. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
19. Anastasia Rodionova, AUS
20. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
HM- Maria Irigoyen, ARG

"30 is the new 21." - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 30

1. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
3. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
4. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
5. Polona Hercog, SLO
6. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
7. Vicky Duval, USA
8. Patty Schnyder, SUI
9. Ula Radwanska, POL
10. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
11. Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
12. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
13. Chang Kai-Chen, TPE
14. Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU
15. Irina Falconi, USA
16. Nastassja Burnett, ITA
17. Ulrikke Eikeri, NED
18. Vania King, USA
19. Melanie Oudin, USA
20.Genie Bouchard, CAN
HM-Laura Robson, GBR

1. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
2. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
3. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
5. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
6. Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP/ESP
7. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
8. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
9. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
10. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
11. Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
12. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
13. Taylor Townsend, USA
14. Alize Cornet, FRA
15. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
DM- Karolina Pliskova, CZE

1. Martina Hingis, SUI
2. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza, SUI/IND

3. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
4. Casey Dellacqua/Yaroslava Shvedova, AUS/KAZ
5. Jiske Griffioen/Aniek Van Koot, NED/NED (WC)
6. Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
7. Zheng Saisai, CHN
8. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
9. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
10. Belinda Bencic/Kristina Mladenovic, SUI/FRA
11. Daria Gavrilova/Elina Svitolina, RUS-AUS/UKR
12. Demi Schuurs, NED
13. Sara Errani/Flavia Pennetta, ITA/ITA
14. Laura Siegemund, GER
15. Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Coco Vandeweghe, GER/USA
16. Oksana Kalashnikova, RUS
17. Alexandra Panova, RUS
18. Gabriela Dabrowski, CAN
19. Gabriela Dabrowski/Carol Zhao, CAN/CAN
20. Julia Goerges/Lucie Hradecka, GER/CZE
21. Victoria Rodriguez/Marcela Zacarias, MEX/MEX
22. Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson, NED/SWE
23. Miriam Kolodziejova/Marketa Vondrousova, CZE/CZE
24. Maria Irigoyen, ARG
25. Maria Irigoyen/Paula Ormaechea, ARG/ARG
HM- Danka Kovinic/Stephanie Vogt, MNE/LIE


1. Johanna Konta, GBR
2. Laura Siegemund, GER
3. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
4. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
5. Ana Bogdan, ROU
6. Romina Oprandi, SUI
7. Tamara Zidansek, SLO
8. Katharina Lehnert, PHI
9. Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
10. Alexa Glatch, USA
11. Diana Buzean, ROU
12. Anna Bondar, HUN
13. Lou Broulou, FRA
14. Lee So-Ra, KOR
15. Duan Yingying, CHN
16. Sherazad, Reix, FRA
17. Ayla Aksu, TUR
18. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
19. Alexandra Nancarrow, AUS
20. Lee Ya-Hsuan, KOR
21. Myrtille Georges, FRA
22. Greet Minnen, BEL
23. Daniela Seguel, CHI
24. Laura Herring, USA
25. Tena Lukas, CRO
26. Georgia Brescia, ITA
27. Valentini Grammatikopoulou, GRE
28. Deniz Khazaniuk, ISR
29. Elyne Boeykens, BEL
30. Fatma Al-Nabhani, OMA
HM- Jelena Simic, BIH

#1 - Belinda Bencic claims her biggest career title in Toronto by defeating four Top 10 players, including #1 Serena Williams (SF) and #3 Simona Halep (Final, before the Romanian moved to #2 in the rankings a day later), becoming the first Swiss woman to win the Rogers Cup since 2000. The 18-year old is the youngest to defeat Williams in a full match since Maria Sharapova at the WTA Championships in 2004. In all, two of Bencic's defeated foes were slam champs (Williams/Ivanovic) and three have reached #1 (Williams/Ivanovic/Wozniacki). All six wins came against players who have played in slam finals (Williams/Ivanovic/Halep/Wozniacki/Lisicki/Bouchard). She saved a MP in her 3rd Round victory over Lisicki.
#2 - At 33, Flavia Pennetta becomes the oldest first-time slam champion in tour history at the U.S. Open, getting wins over two Top 4 players (Kvitova & Halep) and topping Roberta Vinci in the first-ever all-Italian final at a major.

#3 - Martina Hingis sweeps the doubles and mixed at a second consecutive slam, winning her second '15 major with Sania Mirza and third this season with Leander Paes. Now with a combined twenty career slam titles, Hingis hadn't won any U.S. Open title since she swept the singles and doubles competitions seventeen years ago at age 18.

"I (would) rather win, alongside Sania and Leander, grand slam titles than having to struggle with my body... I was just, like practicing yesterday and I almost hurt myself." - Martina Hingis, on the possibility of a singles comeback

#4 - Petra Kvitova defends her New Haven title, knocking off four Top 20 players (Wozniacki, Safarova, Radwanska and Keys) en route to her third career title at Yale.
#5 - Angelique Kerber wins in Stanford, defeating Aga Radwanska, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova in the final to grab her fourth title this season on a fourth different surface (hard + green clay, red clay & grass).
#6 - Serena Williams defends her Cincinnati title with wins over Ana Ivanovic, Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep in the final. Her fifth '15 singles title leads the tour.
#7 - Teliana Pereira, after earlier this season becoming the first Brazilian singles champ in thirty years, wins a second title in Florianopolis. She's just the second Brazilian in the Open era to win a WTA title in Brazil.

#8 - Samantha Stosur wins on the clay in Bad Gastein, coming back from a set and 4-2 down in the final vs. Karin Knapp.

#9 - Anna Schmiedlova reaches her third 2015 final in Bucharest, winning title #2 by defeating Sara Errani in the final in a rematch of the Rio final won earlier this year by the Italian. The Slovak didn't drop a set all week.

#10 - Johanna Larsson (Bastad), Lesia Tsurenko (Istanbul), Margarita Gasparyan (Baku) & Sloane Stephens (Washington) all claim maiden tour singles titles. Larsson and Gasparyan swept both the singles and doubles. Larsson became the first Swede to win in Bastad in nineteen years, while Gasparyan is the first maiden Hordette champion since 2011. Tsurenko's win streak hit ten matches, then she reached the semis in New Haven after getting into the draw as a lucky loser after going out in qualifying. Stephens finally notched her first career title in her very first appearance in a final, taking the title without dropping a set all week.

turnin tuna into lobster.

A photo posted by Sloane Stephens (@sloanestephens) on


"I feel good right now. I can maybe touch the sky with my finger." - Roberta Vinci

[Best Non-Championship Runs]
Roberta Vinci wins four three-set matches through six rounds (one of which was a walkover from a concussed Genie Bouchard) at the U.S. Open, including an upset of #1 Serena Williams in the semis, to become the fourth Italian woman from the current veteran generation to reach a slam singles final.
Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina gets into her first career slam MD at the U.S. Open as a lucky loser due to Maria Sharapova's withdrawal, and she advances all the the way to the 3rd Round. It's the best slam result by a LL since 1997, and the best at Flushing Meadows since 1993.
Lesia Tsurenko loses in New Haven qualifying, then enters the draw as a lucky loser when #1-seed Simona Halep pulls out after reaching the Cincinnati final. The Ukrainian lasts until the semifinals, her second career SF result as a LL ('13 Brisbane).
Simona Halep rebounds from her disappointing clay and grass seasons with final runs in Toronto and Cincinnati, and her best-ever result (SF) at the U.S. Open as she re-takes the #2 ranking from an injured Maria Sharapova.

[Laboring in the Shadows]
Johanna Konta dominates hard courts one level below the regular tour, winning back-to-back challengers. She then qualified for the U.S. Open and extended her winning streak to sixteen matches with victories over Garbine Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic to reach her first career slam Round of 16. The Brit's lead-up grass season had shown signs of what was to soon come, as she got wins over Ekaterina Makarova and soon-to-be Wimbledon finalist Muguruza. She's up to a career-best #58 after having never finished a season in the Top 100.
Zheng Saisai may have lost in a 1st Round moonballin' marathon at the U.S. Open, but the 21-year old from China was in fine form elsewhere. Her summer "To Do Did List" included winning the doubles with Chang Kai-Chen at the WTA $125K Series event in Nanchang, then taking the tour-level Stanford doubles crown with Xu Yifan. During the second week of the Open, Zheng swept both the singles and doubles (w/ Zhang Kai-Lin) at the WTA $125K Series tournament in Dalian, as well.

Dalma Galfi wins the U.S. Open junior title (def. Sonya Kenin) and climbs into the #1 girls ranking, joining Aniko Kapros (2000) and Agnes Szavay (2005) as past junior slam champs from Hungary. Both finished the season as the Girls overall #2 those years.
The Russians take the Fed Cup 14s title, defeating the U.S. team in the final with an undefeated Vlada Koval leading the way. Anastasia Potapova clinched the win with a three-set victory over Hurricane Tyra Black. It's the Hordettes' second straight 14s title, and third consecutive final appearance.

Brit Jordanne Whiley, who won a doubles Grand Slam with Yui Kamiji last season, defeats best friend Kamiji in the U.S. Open women's Wheelchair singles final 6-4/0-6/6-1 to claim her first slam singles crown. The match took place simultaneously with the Djokovic/Federer final on the last day of play.

[The Open Run That Never Was]

Genie Bouchard was finally looking like herself. Her old self. Her 2014 self, when she reached a pair of slam semifinals in Melbourne and Paris, and then the Wimbledon final. Since then, injuries, distraction, the microscope that accompanies winning and various other things have combined to send the Canadian (and her confidence) tumbling down the rankings. In Flushing Meadows, though, she was looking good. She'd already handily defeated Alison Riske, then took out Polona Hercog and Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets and was beginning to show a bit of her old bravado (the pre-Open meeting on the practice courts w/ Jimmy Connors might have helped), as she made a point to note that she was the only player still alive in the singles, doubles and mixed.

Well, then Bouchard slipped in the locker room and hit her head following her mixed doubles victory, suffering a concussion and leading her to withdraw from all three competitions. She had been set to face Roberta Vinci in the Round of 16. She'd lost 1 & 0 to the Italian a week earlier in New Haven, but that was pretty clearly a drop-in-and-drop-out tournament visit by Bouchard, judging by how quickly she beat it to NYC for a Nike promotion. Had she defeated the Italian this time, would Bouchard have lasted until the semifinals and then defeated Serena Williams, as Vinci did? Or would Serena have instead reached the final and pulled off the Grand Slam? Did untimely Bouchard's fall change tennis history?

The Tennis Gods work in mysterious ways.

[Fancy Meeting You Here, Pt.1]
After Anna Tatishvili retired from a late night (1:40 a.m.) singles match, she pulled out of the Istanbul doubles with partner Kristyna Pliskova. Inserted in their place in the draw was the first alternate team of Daria Gavrilova and Elina Svitolina (the Ukrainian was the defending doubles champ, after winning the '14 crown with Misaki Doi), who'd never played together as a duo. All they did was knock off the #1 seeds in the QF (in two tie-breaks and 10-5 super tie-break), the #4 seeds in the SF and then came back from a set down to take the final against Cagla Buyukakcay & Jelena Jankovic in a 10-4 STB.

[Pan-American Games Achievers]

Mariana Duque claims the singles Gold medal. It's the Colombian's fourth career Pan-Am medal (two s/d Silvers in '07, and a doubles Bronze in '11). She just missed out on a sixth medal, losing in the mixed doubles Bronze Match.
20-year old Mexican Victoria Rodriguez is a surprise star at the Toronto games, winning Silver in both singles and doubles. Rodriguez defeated #2-seed Monica Puig in the semis before losing to #3 Duque in the final.
Gabriela Dabrowski & Carol Zhao win the doubles Gold in front of a home crowd. Dabrowski also won the mixed Silver.


[Sister Acts]
The Ukrainian Kolb sisters -- 22-year old Nadiya & 18-year old Maryna -- were apparently born with the "persevere & fight" gene. After reaching -- and losing -- ten ITF doubles finals as a duo over the last three seasons, the sisters finally claimed their first career title, ending the 3Q with a championship run in a $10K challenger in Prague. Nadiya and Maryna... are you sure you aren't Italian?
The Chan sisters -- Hao-Ching & Yung-Jan -- are successful doubles players with other partners, but there's just something special about them playing together. It showed in Cincinnati, as they teamed for the biggest title ever for both. The siblings saved a MP in a match-deciding super tie-break in the 2nd Round against #3-seeded Garcia/Srebotnik, won a 19-17 STB to down Errani/Pennetta in the QF, upset #1-seeded Hingis/Mirza in the SF in another STB, and the took the crown from #4-seeded Dellacqua/Shvedova in a straight sets victory in the final. The title is the fourth as a team by Chan/Chan, moving them into sole possession of second place on the all-time WTA list behind the Williams Sisters for the most tour doubles titles won by an all-sister pair.


[LI NA AWARD - Best Post-Match Interview]

[Best Trophy]
Swedish Open (champion: Johanna Larsson)

[Best Player/Umpire Interaction]

[Fancy Meeting You Here, Pt.2]
Ranked #25 and having a resurgent summer (def. Kvitova) and season (she reached Indian Wells final), Jelena Jankovic showed up as the #1-seed in a WTA $125K Series event draw in Nanchang, China. She was SUPPOSED to win and she did, without losing a set while never facing a Top 100 player (def. #105, and four ranked between #179-245). She won the title with a victory over Chang Kai-Chen. While it was JJ's smallest singles title since she won a $50K challenger in 2003 at age 18, it was also her first of any kind since winning the WTA event in Bogota in 2013 and it ended a 0-4 run for the Serb in finals.

[Worst/Most Typical Mess]
From the people who brought you the spectacle from earlier this year in which Katerina Stewart led the "playoff" race for a Roland Garros wild card, won the final tournament in the assigned three-week stretch, and then dropped down to SECOND behind Louisa Chirico, a player she beat twice during the period because only two results "counted" and the "tie-breaker" was which player had the highest ranking, I bring you the latest mess overseen by the USTA: the 2015 U.S. Open Series. And this one comes from the total opposite end of the tennis insanity spectrum. The "winner" of this summer's Series was Karolina Pliskova. Not because she performed the best over the assigned stretch of North American tournaments, but because she had one high-level result and then entered more tournaments than anyone else.


The Czech's QF result in New Haven sealed the deal. But, once again, only after the mess that the USTA's rules made of another "playoff/race" situation. Pliskova went a mediocre 6-4 in North America this summer before the Open, winning no titles (though she did reach the Stanford final) and losing to a "lucky loser" on the day she clinched the title. In all, Pliskova totaled 75 points, well behind Cincinnati champ Serena Williams' 145 (for 2 events) and Toronto/Cincy runner-up Simona Halep's 140 (for her 2 finals), but since the Czech played in at least three events (four, actually, though she got a "zero" for an early loss in Toronto -- among the players in contention for the title, Aga Radwanska was the only other to play in three events) she got her point total DOUBLED to 150, edging out the field for the "win" because of a rule that began to be enforced in 2014, some ten years after the inaugural U.S. Open Series in 2004.

Interestingly, the rule went into effect in the first year AFTER both winners of the 2013 U.S. Open Series -- Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal -- also went on to win the U.S. Open and claim their accompanying $1 million bonuses, the only time that situation has occurred during the run of the Series.

So, while they'd surely say the rule was designed to help the tournaments get a better field of players, one might also wonder if the USTA and its partners were attempting to make it easier for an overworked (and not necessarily highly-achieving) player to win the Series... and not be in as advantageous a position when it came to winning the Open and claiming the bonus prize money. What? They wouldn't... would they?

I'm just sayin.

Oh, and Mary Joe is still the Fed Cup Captain, too. So there's ALSO still that.


U.S. Open 3rd Rd. - Victoria Azarenka d. Angelique Kerber
In the women's match of the tournament, Voracious Vika battled Angie Excellent in a high-quality affair that lived up to the advance billing that their potential early round encounter (at a second straight slam) kicked up on the day the draw was made.
Vika flashed much of her aggressive game of old (she was 37/51 on net points), while Kerber often held her in check with get-to-everything defense and winners down the line. Azarenka made a set of things after falling behind 5-2 in the 1st, winning it 7-5. After Kerber held onto her early 3-1 lead in the 2nd, Azarenka pulled away in the 3rd with a break for 3-2. Still, Kerber saved six MP and held for 5-4, forcing Vika to hold her nerve and serve things out. And she did, following Sascha Baijin's words to a "T" by finding a way to "pinish" (finish + punish).

Stanford QF - Angelique Kerber d. Aga Radwanska
In a cool match filled with all the great points, long rallies, drop shots, lobs, etc. that one would expect from this match-up, Radwanska's double-fault and error combination to break herself in game #9 of the 3rd set proved to be too much for the Pole to overcome. Kerber held at love as Aga tired down the stretch, then went on to take the title.

Stanford Final - Angelique Kerber d. Karolina Pliskova
While Kerber is a great defensive player, even the German would have been stunned to know beforehand that she'd break Pliskova's serve ten times in the final, including in the deciding game to win the title. Both players -- Kerber's thigh, Pliskova's ankle -- were battling with physical ailments in the long final at the end of an even longer week, but it was the seemingly more worn down German who battled through the weeds the best to put herself in rather rarefied air. Her fourth 2015 title (in four finals) gives her season titles on four different surfaces. She's has won titles on more different surfaces this year than she'd won titles (period.) before '15 began.
U.S. Open 3rd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
This was Williams' last example during the '15 slam season of a match in which she fell behind and looked dead in the water, only to rise up and dominate her opponent down the stretch. Mattek-Sands' pesky play gave her a 3-0 lead in the 1st and her 3-for-3 opportunism on BP chances in the first two sets got her to 6-3/5-5 before Serena "flipped the switch" and began to play a bigger, bolder game. Williams converted just one of her first twelve BP chances, and just three-of-sixteen in the match, but she edged out BMS in the 2nd and ran off a winning stretch of fifteen out of nineteen points as she swept the final eight games of the match.

U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Petra Cetkovska d. Caroline Wozniacki
Under the lights on Ashe in a match that finished up after midnight, Wozniacki battled back from a 6-4/4-1 deficit to hold four match points in the 3rd. But Cetkovskva saved them all with great, aggressive shots and forced a tie-break. The Czech ran away with it 7-1, ending the 3:02 match at 12:12 a.m. and sending the '14 Open finalist off for an early summer vacation.
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Daria Kasatkina d. Daria Gavrilova
In the Battle of the Darias, lucky loser Kasatkina (in for Maria Sharapova) was up a break 6-2/3-2, only to see Gavrilova force a 3rd set. After being treated by a trainer early in the final set, Gavrilova led 3-1 but began to cramp down the stretch and eventually fell behind 5-6 (the Aussie didn't even sit down during the changeover). Kasatkina served out the match for her first slam win, and eventually reached the 3rd Round, the best Open result by a LL since 1993.
U.S. Open QF - Simona Halep d. Victoria Azarenka
Halep led in both winners and unforced errors, while Azarenka took advantage of nearly every opportunity she got (5/5 on BP chances). But, ultimately, a 1:25 rain delay with Azarenka up 2-1 in the 3rd may have proven to be the difference. Given time to refresh herself, one round after gutting out a three-set Round of 16 match against Sabine Lisicki in the heat with an injured thigh, Halep came out of the locker room in great form. She jumped on Azarenka early and never relented... but then she failed to show up with the same intensity for her semifinal match one round later. One suspects that the same wouldn't have happened with Vika.

U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Belinda Bencic d. Misaki Doi
Bencic's play often belies her age, but sometimes her youth shines through. It certainly did here, as the 18-year old's anger flared in the heat of battle and she had a near-meltdown in the changeover area. Bencic squandered a 5-2 lead in the 2nd set and failed to convert eight set points over a two-game stretch, ultimately seeing Doi hold three MP at 6-5 before the Swiss pushed things to a 3rd on her tenth SP. With the moment of danger having passed, the teen grabbed a quick 3-0 lead in the deciding set, calmed down, and went about her business in closing out the match. You love the passion and fight, but Bencic need only look to a young Martina Hingis ('99 RG final) to see the necessity in learning to corral such emotions before they become detrimental to her game.

U.S. Open 4th Rd. - Simona Halep d. Sabine Lisicki
In a U.S. Open display of Swarmette perseverance, the match notes for Halep's day ultimately looked a little like this: Play. Errors. Drop serve. Break. Fight. Wince. Struggle. Drop serve. Break. Wince. Struggle. Limp. Fall behind. Treat. Struggle. Throw racket. Run down balls. Fight. Wince. Fight. Punch the air. Run. Hit winners. Watch opponent fall away. Fight. Win. Raise arms in victory. It was that "simple." Halep didn't play well on this day, but with "Simonativity" on her side she persevered in a match that wasn't hardly a work of art (the two combined for seventeen breaks of serve). Lisicki (72 UE, and only two aces) couldn't take advantage of the Romanian's vulnerable state, while Halep's heart pulled her through.
U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Anna Schmiedlova d. Danka Kovinic
Kovinic claimed the 1st on her fourth set point, but the Slovak took the 2nd to force a deciding set. In the 3rd, Schmiedlova led by a double-break at 5-1, but was broken for 5-3 to give back half her advantage. She held three MP in game #9 but failed to convert any, then a game later had to save two BP to avoid going back on serve before finally winning on her eighth MP.
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Andrea Petkovic d. Caroline Garcia
Garcia won the 1st, but failed on four BP attempt at 3-3 in the 2nd as Petkovic held and went on to knot the match. In the 3rd, the Pasty led 4-2 and held BP for a 5-2 lead. Petko ultimately won the 2:34 contest on her second MP as one again the stage proved to be just a little too big for the young French woman.
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Madison Brengle d. Zheng Saisai
A year ago, Brengle finally got her first career slam MD victory at the U.S. Open to end a decade-long quest. This time around, it nearly took as long for her to win her opening rounder in New York. In the longest women's match (a moonball-laden 3:20) in tournament history, in the New York summer heat, Brengle led 6-2/4-2, only to see Zheng battle back to serve for the match at 5-2 and 5-4 in the 3rd. On her sixth MP of the final game, via a DF by the Chinese woman, Brengle broke Zheng to secure the victory. Exhausted, Brengle threw herself into her chair in the changeover area and lived to play another day.

U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Johanna Konta d. Garbine Muguruza
Soon after Brengle/Zheng set the U.S. Open record for longest women's match, these two broke it with a 3:23 contest in which the #97-ranked British qualifier defeated the #9-seeded Wimbledon finalist to win her fifteenth straight summer hard court match and reach her first career slam 3rd Round (she'd get to the Round of 16, losing a tight contest to Petra Kvitova). Muguruza served thirteen DF and finished up a disappointing post-SW19 stretch with a 1-3 record, and had already fired her coach before she came to NYC.
Bad Gastein 1st Rd. - Andreea Mitu d. Barbara Haas
Mitu served up 6-1/5-3 and held two match points at 5-4, only to see the Austrian win the 2nd in a tie-break and then go on to hold two MP of her own at 5-4 in the 3rd. Ultimately, the Romanian took out Haas in another tie-break, sending the local fans home unhappy.
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Dominika Cibulkova d. Ana Ivanovic
A seesaw match. Back-from-Achilles'-surgery Cibulkova came back from 0-2 to take the 1st, while AnaIvo recovered from a 1-3 deficit to claim the 2nd. After dropping serve to open the 3rd, Cibulkova rebounded to break Ivanovic's serve twice in a row as the Serb was the "First Seed Out" at Flushing Meadows.
Toronto 1st Rd. - Alison Riske d. Timea Bacsinszky
Bacsinszky's story is still great, but her magic has waned a bit over the summer. In this 3:04 match, she served at 6-5 in the 2nd set and held two match points. After a five-week break, this was her first post-Wimbledon match after reaching the QF at SW19. It was as close as she got to a hard court win this summer, as she ended up losing all four matches she played, the final three in straight sets.

U.S. Open Final - Flavia Pennetta d. Roberta Vinci
In the first all-Italian slam final, the oldest-ever first-time slam finalists met to decide the oldest maiden slam champion. As it turned out, 33-year old Pennetta (in her 49th slam -- also a record) joined Francesca Schiavone as the only Italian slam winners, then announced her impending retirement during the post-match ceremony.

[Fancy Meeting You Here, Pt.3]
Baku Final - Margarita Gasparyan d. Patricia Maria Tig
In January, with both ranked outside the Top 200, these two met in the 2nd Round of a $25K challenger in Andrezieux-Boutheon. Six months later, they faced off to decide which would become a first-time WTA singles champ in the maiden tour-level final for both women. Just as happened in France, when Gasparyan won 6-2/7-5, the Russian emerged with the victory this time, as well, but only after being forced to a 3rd set despite serving for the title at 6-3/5-4.

Cincinnati QF - Chang Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Sara Errani/Flavia Pennetta
...6-7(4)/7-6(1) [19-17].
En route to their biggest-ever title, the Chan sisters take out the Italian Fed Cup all-star team after saving six match points and surviving a 36-point match-deciding super tie-break.

[UCLA-NYC? Edition]
Billie Jean King Collegiate Invitational Final - Robin Anderson d. Chanelle Van Nguyen
In the second annual exhibition held at Flushing Meadows, it was an all-UCLA affair, as #2-seeded Anderson took out a fellow Bruin to succeed North Carolina's Jamie Loeb (who'd go on to win the 2015 NCAA title) as the BJK champion.

Washington 1st Rd. - Samantha Stosur d. Kristina Mladenovic
Sam's 500th career victory.

[Sister-vs.-Sister XXVII]

U.S. Open QF - Serena Williams def. Venus Williams
On the 14th anniversary of their landmark primetime U.S. Open final match in 2001, the Sisters pay high-quality homage to their own impact on the sport on a night that was essentially a celebration of their legacy as much as a tennis contest. In their first meeting in New York since 2008, but their second at the last two slams, Serena extends her head-to-head edge over Venus to 16-11, winning her seventh of the last eight meetings with an ace on match point. In the end, their losing-big-sister-comforts-winning-little-sister embrace at the net may go down as the lasting image that defines an entire era.

Bad Gastein Final - Samantha Stosur d. Karin Knapp
Rain forced Knapp to play a two and a half hour semifinal early on Sunday, then come back for the final later in the day. She nearly pulled it off, leading Stosur 6-3/4-2 and serving at 5-4 before finally running out of steam as the Aussie claimed the win in the Italian's second two and a half hour contest of the day.

Istanbul 1st Rd. - Ipek Soylu d. Anna Tatishvili
...5-7/7-5/2-0 ret.
In a match that didn't finish until 1:40 a.m., Soylu recovered from a 7-5/5-2 deficit in front of a home crowd, then won when Tatishvili retired with dizziness early in the 3rd. The American then withdrew from the doubles w/ Kristyna Pliskova, allowing the duo of Gavrilova/Svitolina to get into the draw... and they went on to win the title.


U.S. Open 3rd Rd. - Sabine Lisicki d. Barbora Strycova
Unable to keep the ball in the court and down 4-1 in the 3rd, Lisicki called for a trainer. The move stopped her negative momentum (and her opponent's positive run), and soon the German couldn't miss. After dropping a game to fall behind 5-1, she won 24 of 31 points, and 11 of the last 12 to take the 2:45 match under the lights. Meanwhile, Strycova, never one hide her emotions or snarky accusations, offered a quick, tepid handshake at the net along with a few one-can-only-imagine choice words. Lisicki -- having committed 72 UE and elicited some raised eyebrows -- barely noticed, though, and proceeded to take an emotional bath in the spotlight while the Czech fumed off the court.

Toronto 2nd Rd. - Daria Gavrilova d. Lucie Safarova
Safarova served for the match at 5-4 in the 2nd. After the Czech erased Gavrilova's 3-1 lead in the 3rd, the Russo-Ausie broke Safarova to close out the match. With the Eternal Sunshine of the Gavrilovian Mind, all things are possible.

Istanbul QF - Lesia Tsurenko d. Kateryna Bondarenko
Bondarenko held four set points in the 28-point 1st set TB, but Tsurenko won on her own fifth set point. In the 2nd, Bondarenko held three SP at 5-3 and a fourth at 5-4, only to see her fellow Ukrainian survive and and go on to win her first tour title.
Istanbul QF - Ula Radwanska d. Tsvetana Pironkova
Pironkova served at 5-4 and 6-5 in the 3rd, but Ula forced the tie-break. She took a 6-1 lead, then finally put away the match on her fifth consecutive MP. As a pair, the Radwanska sisters are now a combined 12-2 vs. the Bulgarian.
Baku 1st Rd. - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Elizaveta Kulichkova
In a rare case of Pavlyuchenkova rising above the fray, the Russian saved four MP at 5-4 in the 3rd and took out her fellow Hordette. Of course, she didn't advantage of her good fortune and go on to take the title, though. She lost in the semis to a qualifier. Naturally.
Cincinnati 3rd Rd. - Anna Schmiedlova d. Varvara Lepchenko
Lepchenko held a double-break advantage in the 3rd set, but Schmiedlova charged back to get the win and advance to the QF, earning just enough points to move up to #32 in the rankings and get her first career slam seed at the U.S. Open.
New Haven 2nd Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki d. Roberta Vinci
Vinci served at 5-3 in the 3rd, and held three MP in the tie-break. Things went a little differently for both of them in their next tournament at Flushing Meadows.
U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Dominika Cibulkova d. Jessica Pegula
Qualifier Pegula led 7-5/3-0, but wasn't able to put away any of four BP chances in the 2nd that might have made her lead insurmountable. Cibulkova held off the Bannerette again in the 3rd, saving BP when serving for the match at 5-3.

Feel so lucky and blessed to be back playing! Thanks for the memories ???? #GodIsGood @usopen

A photo posted by Vicky Duval (@vickyduvaaal) on

[Girl, Interrupted]
$25K Landisville 1st Rd. - Vicky Duval d. Sophie Chang 6-4/6-2
$25K Landisville 2nd Rd. - Vicky Duval d. Ivana Jorovic 3-6/7-5/6-1
U.S. Open Q1 - Vicky Duval d. Luksika Kumkhum 5-7/6-3/6-1
U.S. Open Q2 - Alla Kudryavtseva d. Vicky Duval 6-7(5)/6-4/6-0

...out since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma before last year's Wimbledon (she subsequently made it through qualifying and won a 1st Round match before losing a tight 2nd Rounder to Bencic), a now cancer-free 19-year old Duval returned to action this summer. She reached the QF in her first event (she w/d for precautionary reasons after playing far more than was to be expected her first time out, as she battled back from 6-3/4-1 down to defeat Jorovic), then played two more three-setters in U.S. Open qualifying after the brilliant USTA decided against giving her a MD wild card despite the obvious p.r. benefits, as well as the fact that Duval pulled off an upset of former champ Sam Stosur in her last appearance in the event in '13. No matter. Some steps are bigger than others, but Duval's have been positively gigantic.

"I didn't really realize how brave I was until I came home and everyone in my family and my friends, they told me that if they got told the same thing the day before they had to play a match, they wouldn't have been able to finish, because that's like the biggest emotional blow you can hear. To me, I was just thinking that I needed to keep winning so I didn't go home. For me, to keep playing was easier." - Vicky Duval

[The Long Road Back]
Eastbourne Q1 - Daria Gavrilova d. Laura Robson 6-0/6-1 [1st match since January '14]
Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Evgeniya Rodina d. Laura Robson 6-4/6-4 [1st slam match since 2014 AO]
$50K Granby 1st Rd. - Laura Robson d. Naomi Osaka 7-6(5)/6-7(5)/6-3 [1st win since September '13]
$25K Gatineau 1st Rd. - Barbora Stefkova d. Laura Robson 5-1 ret.
New Haven Q2 - Christina McHale d. Laura Robson 2-6/7-6(5)/6-3 [Robson led 6-2/5-2, served 5-3]
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Elena Vesnina d. Laura Robson 3-6/6-3/7-5 [Robson led 4-0 in 3rd]

...returning from a more than a year and a half absence after wrist surgery is bound to come with many ups and downs. Most of Robson's matches since her comeback began early this summer have included "her first since..." markers. Predictably, she's started slowly, seen a small up-tick in results, had a setback, shown encouragement, but lacks the match toughness, ability and stamina to see things through. Not yet, at least. The Brit, still just 21, continues to look for her first tour MD win, and is 0-2 in slams (last winning at the '13 U.S. Open). With a 3Q-ending ranking of #542, she's got work to do before those milestones will likely come her way. Steady goes it.

[Four, Five, Seven, ummm, TWENTY Years in the Making]
$25K Darmstadt 1st Rd. - Sofiya Kovalets d. Patty Schnyder 7-5/6-4/7-5
$10K Prague Final - Patty Schnyder d. Zuzana Luknarova 6-1/6-2

...back from her 2011 retirement, over the of course of six weeks, 36-year old Sneaky Patty played her first match in four years in her first event and got her first win two challengers later. Finally, in event #4 in Prague, Schnyder qualified and reached her first singles final since 2010, winning her first title since 2008 (WTA Bali) and her first on the ITF circuit since she was just 16 years old in the summer of 1995.

[Fancy Meeting You Here, Pt.4]
Quebec City Q1 - Samantha Crawford d. Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-0/6-1
...thirtysomething Canadian Pelletier, who hasn't played on tour since January '13, came to Quebec City to visit her friend Julie Coin, who was taking part in the qualifying rounds. She ended up being given a wild card into the Q-draw, losing to Crawford. Coin lost in the same round, going down to Danielle Lao.


*NOW, NOW...don't Choke on that loss*
Toronto 1st Rd. - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Karolina Pliskova 3-6/7-6(5)/6-2
Cincinnati 3rd Rd. - Jelena Jankovic d. Karolina Pliskova 6-2/3-6/7-5
New Haven QF - Lesia Tsurenko d. Karolina Pliskova 6-2/6-2
after opening the U.S. Open Series by looking very good while reaching the Stanford final, which she lost to Angelique Kerber in three sets, Pliskova's results degenerated into what turned out to be farce, as she was awarded the Series title after having her points total doubled because she played so often, allowing her to edge out Serena Williams and Simona Halep despite her mediocre 6-4 record and lack of a title. In Toronto, the Czech led Lucic 6-3/4-0, then 5-2, and served for the match. In Cincinnati, she led JJ 5-2 in the 3rd, served for the match and held a MP. But she took the cake with her New Haven exit, getting blown out by lucky loser Tsurenko while still achieving the QF result that gave her just enough points (x 2) to be crowned by the what-elephant-in-the-room-I-don't-see-any-elephant-in-the-room?, oft-clueless USTA. As "champion," Top 10er Pliskova wrapped things up her 3Q with a 1st Round exit at the actual Open with a loss to, you guessed it, a qualifier.
Stanford 1st Rd. - Kimiko Date-Krumm d. Sabine Lisicki
The #24-ranked German led 6-1/4-1 before her collapse allowed the 44-year old KDK to get her first Top 100 win since January, and her best victory since defeating a then-#12 Flavia Pennetta in Monterrey in March 2014.

Stanford QF - Elina Svitolina d. Alison Riske
Riske served for the match at 6-4/5-4, but completely fell apart after failing to secure the win. Beginning with the break of serve, she dropped nine of the final ten games.
U.S. Open Q3 - Tereza Mrdeza d. Yaroslava Shvedova
The #2 Q-seed, Shvedova maintained her long tradition of losing from ahead. She held a MP in the 2nd set, then served at 5-3 in the 3rd and held two more MP before dropping this 3:12 affair. The Kazakh made (nearly) the most of her lighter work schedule, though, sticking around in Flushing Meadows for the entire two weeks and reaching the doubles final with Casey Dellacqua.

Family workout ?? ???????? Granny is the best ?? #health #gym #fitness #workout #fit

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

"Today is my day. Sorry, guys." - Roberta Vinci
"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me. If you have any other questions, I'm open for that." - Serena Williams, in her post-SF press conference


U.S. Open SF - Roberta Vinci d. Serena Williams
Is a loss to a fighting world #43-ranked player who climbed as high as #11 two years ago and has been doubles #1 REALLY a "greatest upset ever in sports" contender, as some who couldn't name more than four current Top 20 players would have you believe? Umm, no... at least I don't think so. But under the circumstances, it was HUGE as, with an eye on an all-Italian final following countrywoman Flavia Pennetta's win in the first semifinal, Vinci wielded her racket as if it was a magic wand. With an array of drop shots, slices and angles the Italian vet kept Williams off-balance while ALSO keeping her nerve in the clutch after Williams took a break lead early in the 3rd set, only to never be able to right her error-prone game as she had while running off thirty-three straight slam wins and getting within one victory of playing in the final with a chance at the Grand Slam. Vinci had never taken a set off Williams in four previous meetings (one a few weeks earlier in Toronto), and this was just the fifth loss by Serena in twenty-nine career slam semifinals. Solidifying the moment as an all-time memory, Vinci then followed up by stealing the show with a crazy-honest post-match interview that brought to mind the very best of Li Na... with an Italian charm.


Toronto SF - Belinda Bencic d. Serena Williams
In a crazy match that played out like "The Three Faces of Serena," 18-year old Bencic becomes the youngest player to defeat Williams in a completed match since a 17-year old Sharapova in 2004. For the day, Serena's serve was as "off" as it's ever been (12 DF vs. her 16 aces) as she was broken seven times and had 59 UE. Still, Bencic's nerves -- and Williams "near-Serenativity" -- nearly got the best of her. She served up 5-3 in the 2nd, but double-faulted on SP and lost 10 of 11 points as Williams knotted things at 5-5. Bencic battled back from love/40 on serve two games later to hold, and then broke Serena to take things to the 3rd. The teenager took a two-break, 4-0 lead in the final set after saving six BP in two serve games (three each), then served for the match at 5-1 and 5-3, missing on a backhand pass up 30/15 in game #9 that would have given her MP. She double-faulted on BP and Williams closed to 5-4, seemingly putting her in position to steal a victory in a manner that she often does. But perhaps Bencic unwittingly heeded Rogers Cup HOF inductee Justine Henin's comments from the week about players not believing they can beat Serena as much as they should, for she bounced right back and broke Williams to take the match for her first career win over a world #1. It was Serena's first defeat in a three-set match this season, and her first since she dropped a three-setter to Venus in LAST year's Rogers Cup semifinals.

Toronto Final - Belinda Bencic d. Simona Halep
...7-6(5)/6-7(4)/3-0 ret.
The "day after" curse didn't lay a hand on the New Swiss Miss' gumption. This one might have gone down as a true classic had it played out differently in the 3rd set, but it still will be remembered for the drama-filled first two sets. After starting with five straight breaks of serve, Halep eventually took a 4-3 lead but the long rallies common to both players' games likely played a part in the leg injury that led to the first of her multiple visits with the WTA trainer. Throw in Bencic's changeover meltdown with her father, then her comeback from 1-4 down in the tie-break to claim the 1:08 1st set and the stage was set. While both players were experiencing physical difficulties at the end of a long week, Halep's issues were far more obvious. The leg, combined with the heat and her flat-out exhaustion following her SF win over Sara Errani led to her plodding around the court between points in the 2nd, bending over due to pain or looking as if she was trying to keep the contents of her stomach right where they belonged. In the late going, Bencic failed to put the set away while Halep refused to stop fighting to keep it alive. She actually seemed to be working against her own desires, as after she'd win points she'd appear to sigh and be disappointed because it meant that the end continued to be anything but near. Bencic's growing frustration led to her tossing her racket, while Halep got a break for a 6-5 lead, then seemed to pick up her game a bit more while winning the tie-break to force a 3rd set. After taking the long walk to leave the court, Halep returned to give things a go, but after falling down 3-0 she finally decided to preserve herself to fight another day and retired, giving Bencic her biggest title yet.
Istanbul 1st Rd. - Kateryna Bondarenko d. Venus Williams
One half of the Ukrainian Bondarenkos takes out one half of the Williams Sisters to grab her first Top 20 win since 2012. Venus won four consecutive games to serve for the 2nd set at 6-5, only to see Bondarenko close out the match by claiming eleven of the final fifteen points.

U.S. Open Q2 - Claire Liu d. Jana Cepelova
The 15-year old wild card continues to make an early name for herself, taking out the Slovak who has defeated the likes of Serena Williams AND Simona Halep during the last two seasons. Liu's play belied her lack of experience, as she survived blowing a 5-1 1st set lead to win a tie-break, then overcame a 4-2 deficit in the 2nd to win in straight sets.
U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Anna Tatishvili d. Karolina Pliskova
The #8-seeded Czech's shaky status as the new U.S. Open Series champ was quickly (in :52, to be exact) taken to the ground in Flushing Meadows by the qualifier. Tatishvili make Pliskova one of the first high seeds to be run out of town on an oft-used (as it turned out) rusty rail by breaking Pliskova's big serve five times, leading 6-1/5-0 before things were made to look "better" in final scoreline. To add insult to ignominy (Pliskova's 1st Round exit is the earliest ever by a women's Series winner, and matches only Andy Roddick's opening round defeat as the men's '05 champ), Tatishvili ended things against one of the tour's ace leaders with a 2nd serve ace up the "T" of her own on match point to officially bring down the curtain.

Conspicuously absent no more. Well, almost.

It's beginning to look a lot like fall in Portland. #NikeCourt

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

*2015 Weeks in Top 10*
37 weeks...Serena Williams
37 weeks...Simona Halep
37 weeks...Maria Sharapova
37 weeks...Petra Kvitova
37 weeks...Caroline Wozniacki
37 weeks...Ana Ivanovic
25 weeks...Ekaterina Makarova
22 weeks...Carla Suarez-Navarro
22 weeks...Aga Radwanska
22 weeks...Genie Bouchard
15 weeks...Lucie Safarova
12 weeks...Andrea Petkovic
11 weeks...Angelique Kerber
10 weeks...Garbine Muguruza
6 weeks...Karolina Pliskova
2 weeks...Dominika Cibulkova
1 week...Flavia Pennetta
red - in current Top 20

*Active Top 10 Weeks Streaks*
233 - Maria Sharapova
179 - Serena Williams
103 - Petra Kvitova
85 - Simona Halep
57 - Ana Ivanovic
54 - Caroline Wozniacki
15 - Lucie Safarova
10 - Garbine Muguruza
6 - Karolina Pliskova
1 - Flavia Pennetta

*Active Top 20 Weeks Streaks*
395 - Aga Radwanska
268 - Caroline Wozniacki
257 - Maria Sharapova
241 - Petra Kvitova
208 - Serena Williams
188 - Ana Ivanovic
186 - Angelique Kerber
121 - Carla Suarez-Navarro
106 - Simona Halep
66 - Andrea Petkovic
62 - Lucie Safarova
62 - Ekaterina Makarova
31 - Karolina Pliskova
15 - Elina Svitolina
15 - Timea Bacsinszky
13 - Garbine Muguruza
10 - Madison Keys
6 - Belinda Bencic
1 - Flavia Pennetta
1 - Roberta Vinci

*2015 Weeks Simultaneously in Singles/Doubles Top 20*
37 weeks...Ekaterina Makarova
36 weeks...Carla Suarez-Navarro
27 weeks...Sara Errani
21 weeks...Lucie Safarova
21 weeks...Garbine Muguruza
12 weeks...Flavia Pennetta
5 weeks...Peng Shuai
red - in current Top 20/20

And, finally...

Wonderful Additions

??? ?? #babyboy #mishutka

A photo posted by Maria Kirilenko (@maria_kirilenko87) on

An Addition Unwanted

Hmmm, the work of The Rad...?

Mutual Admiration = Hope. Eventually. Right?

Meanwhile... squirrel!!!!!!!




And Them...

Now REALLY together forever... in history. Meanwhile...

"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 Williams

To be continued in 2016, I suspect.

All for now.


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