Friday, September 11, 2015

US.12 - Those Inconceivable Italians!

Today was like a storybook story. At least if your name is Roberta Vinci.

Faced with long odds, history steadfastly being against her and, of course, Serena Williams on the other side of net, Vinci made the most of the biggest moment of her career in today's U.S. Open women's semifinal. Playing in her forty-fourth slam, but later than she ever has in singles, the Italian wasn't about to allow her big chance to slip away without at least attempting to wrap her fingers around it. Did she REALLY think she was going to defeat the world #1 and prevent her from even getting the chance to PLAY to complete a Grand Slam in the final on Saturday?

Oh, hell no. Even she wasn't that crazy.

For Vinci, today was about having fun. Enjoying the moment. And, of course, putting up a fight (as if). While, for Serena, this match was the one after her emotional defeat of her sister Venus in the quarterfinals, and the one before her long summertime nightmare of neverending scrutiny and pressure to seal her legacy with a fourth straight 2015 slam title run. On a day on which four -- two women's, then two men's -- semifinals were scheduled to take place, Williams vs. Vinci was the "afterthought." The "foregone conclusion." The one that no one could come up with a truly viable scenario in which Williams wouldn't win handily and then move on to face her destiny twenty-four hours later.

And that was no intentional disrespect directed toward Vinci, either. After all, she'd not only never advanced this far in a slam (while Serena had WON twenty-one majors), but she'd never taken a set off Williams in four career matches. She'd only won as many as four games in a set against her once -- and that was six years ago. That Vinci might actually win was, well, pretty much inconceivable. Oh, sometimes we really do get ahead of ourselves, don't we?

"Never go in against a Sicilian Italian when death is on the line." (Hey, it's close enough.)

That said, Williams gave no early indication that she was set to be tripped up or trapped by the moment, or the pressure, or even Vinci's shifty, off-balance approach designed to make Williams hit as many balls as possible and to keep Serena either on her heels or be forced to chase after short balls at the net that would then provide the Italian with an opportunity to then send her scrambling back to the baseline to chase down still yet another shot. In fact, even well into the match, Serena path seemed golden.

Although Vinci challenged Williams' serve in the 1st set, forcing her to deuce in just the third game of the match, it didn't seem to be cause for Williams' (or ESPN, or the WTA or...) to worry. On her fourth baseline error of the game, Williams sailed a forehand long to hand the Italian the first break of the day and a 2-1 lead, but Serena then changed rackets during the changeover and immediately broke back. She did it again two games later to go up 4-2. Moving forward and striking her groundstrokes accurately and with power, THIS Serena wasn't the one the Vinci surely needed to see in order to have even a Taranto native's chance of victory on this day. Williams reached double set point on Vinci's serve in game #8, then when the Italian's approach shot went long on Serena's third BP she'd taken the set at 6-2. It all seemed quite elementary.

Vinci got the break for a 3-2 lead in the 2nd set, but Williams had been down this road often this year, and in season's past. She'd get the break back, then end it all in short order, right? But, wait. The Italian held for 4-2. Serena held at love for 4-3, and the thought was STILL that her sudden lack of visible intensity would soon past. "She knows she can take this match whenever she wants it." She got to BP on Vinci's serve, and the time seemed to have finally come to conduct business on Ashe.

But Vinci had other ideas.

The Italian's approach shot gave Williams a chance to put away the game, but her forehand shot over Vinci landed beyond the baseline. A Vinci ace gave her a game point, then she pressed Serena to hit a few extra shots until she sent a shot out that gave Vinci a hold for 5-3. Still, Serena had a shot get back on serve two games later. Vinci saved a BP with a crosscourt forehand to the corner, then a Williams return error gave her a set point. Serena's running backhand went out a point later and Vinci had taken the 2nd at 6-4, winning her first set ever off Williams to force her to go three sets yet again to continue a '15 slam title quest.

18-1 in three-setters on the season, including 11-0 while winning all twenty-six of her previous slam matches this year, Williams still was seen to have the huge advantage. When she took a 2-0 lead with a break in the 3rd, nothing had been seen that would change the expected ending of this story in anyone's mind's eye. Maybe not even Vinci's... not yet.

But then everything changed.

Vinci never stopped forcing Williams to hit extra balls. She never stopped bringing her forward, or pushing her back. She never stopped fighting (it's just not in her green, white and red blood). And as Serena began to feel the moment, and Vinci could tell she was struggling to right her tilting ship, the momentum slowly went in the Italian's favor Vinci got to break point in game #3... and Serena double-faulted. Taking pace off her shots and forcing Williams to go for too much, she then held for 2-2. Lobbing over Serena in the first point of the next game, Vinci claimed her eighth of nine points. Williams began to yell. LOUDLY. After every point in her service game. A quick look at Vinci saw the veteran smile. "She's having to pump herself up to have enough to beat me... I just might be in this thing, after all," she must have thought (in Italian, of course).

A howling and thunderous Williams won four consecutive points to hold for 3-2 but, after a long slam season in which she's escaped from the hook of defeat so many times, it was the last time she'd be able to depend on her "Serenativity" to save her.

The now obviously woefully underestimated Vinci didn't flinch. She masterfully held for 3-3, then saw Williams DF on back-to-back points as she took a 30/15 lead on the American's serve. Serena got to game point, but missed a volley. She fired an ace to hold another GP, but Vinci dragged her all over the court until she couldn't reach a drop shot volley. An animated Vinci, feeling the moment, called for the crowd to appreciate her efforts. They did.

A Williams backhand error soon gave Vinci a break point, and she converted with a Williams forehand error to take a 4-3 lead. The Italian didn't relent then, either, as she continued to make Serena work to hit almost every conceivable shot to win points. She saved two BP in game #8, then held for 5-3 on her second game point with an off-speed (69-mph) serve that Williams sent wide. Serena's big serve helped her get to 5-4 and forced Vinci to serve out the match, as it was now or never.

Was this REALLY going to happen?

A successful half-volley put Vinci up 30/love, while Williams missed on a volley to give the Italian triple match point. Another half-volley pick up ended it all, giving Vinci a 2-6/6-4/6-4 victory that obliterated Williams' quest for history and burst the bubble that has kept this Open afloat above the clouds for nearly two weeks.

Vinci celebrated the moment that no one saw coming, while everyone else experienced a bout with conflicting emotions. History HAD been made. And it was great... it just wasn't the history that so many were hoping to be able to witness this weekend.

Afterward, though, Vinci made everything all right. Calling it "the best moment of her life," the unexpected winner of a battle of thirtysomethings viewed by most through opposite ends of the tennis spectrum conducted an honest, funny on-court interview (see it below) that brought to mind the very best of Li Na. Did she think she'd win? Of course not. What did she think about how the American fans felt? She was truly sorry, but it was her day... even if her #1 goal was just to keep the ball in the court.

"Put the ball and run. Don't think. And I won."

Meanwhile, Williams' own Grand Slam scenario comes up three sets short of immortality, though she's still got much within her grasp. Another title and she'll tie Steffi Graf's Open era record of twenty-two, and with three she'd catch Margaret Court's all-time mark of twenty-four. But that didn't register in her mind on this day. It was over. And while part of her was probably relieved, the champion's mindset that made such success a possibility had a difficult time dealing with failure in the public spotlight. Serena left the court quickly, took part in a brief press conference filled with curt answers while still dressed in her tennis outfit, then was soon off the tournament grounds. It'll take her a day or two to center herself... but we'll see her best again. Though, with her 34th birthday arriving in a few weeks, the chances of matching Graf's Grand Slam achievement may be forever lost.

Just don't mention to her that Steffi's '88 run was called the "Golden Slam" and, um... that there IS an Olympic tennis event being held in Rio in 2016. I'm just sayin'.

But it's Vinci who'll be playing for history now. The FOURTH Italian to reach a slam singles final after her countrywoman's own successful upset bid earlier in the day, she'll now do battle with a friend for the right to join Francesca Schiavone in tennis lore.

"Never go in against a Italian when death history is on the line."

Of course, what do you do when it's TWO Italians? Hide... or get as close as possible?

Up until now, no one has every had rhyme or reason to know or predict... but we're about to find out everything we need to know in one the most unanticipated slam match-ups ever.

...Day 12's semifinal schedule got started sixteen hours later than originally planned after Thursday night's rain out. The first women's match took place beginning at 11 a.m. Friday as #2 Simona Halep took on #26 Flavia Pennetta.

33-year old Italian Pennetta, playing in her second semi at Flushing Meadows in three years, came into the day having already had a history of putting up her best career slam results at the U.S. Open, and she leaves it still having not yet officially found her ceiling at the 2015 edition after advancing to her first career major final with a focused, consummate 6-1/6-3 take down of her Romanian opponent in just under an hour.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, (insert correct number at time of reading) hours later, we're still waiting for Halep to show up to play.

After a regrettable performance, or lack of one save for but a few games that showed a hint of the guts and gall present in her "Simonativity"-heavy wins over Sabine Lisicki and Victoria Azarenka at this event, Halep leaves New York after having in one blink-and-you-missed-it loss managed to dredge up all the thought-buried questions from this past spring about the Swarmette's (in)ability to deal with the stress of pressure situations on some of the sport's biggest stages. While Halep had her moments of good play on this day, and was in apparent control of the 2nd set at one stage, she allowed her frustration at not playing a perfect game and losing her break advantage to devolve into an uncontrollable crash on Ashe court that saw her lose eighteen of nineteen points down the stretch, and nineteen of the last twenty-one points of the match.

Halep's troubles, and Pennetta's ability to keep her head while the Romanian was losing hers, were in evidence right at the start. In the third game of the match, Halep held a break point on the Italian's serve. But after playing a great defensive point that included an awkward save shot when she got caught mid-court by a Pennetta ball while she was transitioning from the front court to the back, Halep missed on a crosscourt backhand chance that appeared to be open for a winner. Pennetta held for 2-1, and the momentum would soon turn in her favor. A game later, she went up 40/15 on Halep's serve, then an error from the Romanian on BP #2 (after having lost five of five break points on serve vs. Azarenka in the QF) gave Pennetta a 3-1 lead. A quick hold made it 4-1, then a rushing Halep found herself down 15/40 again on serve a game later. She saved both BP and reached game point, but Pennetta got a third chance and converted in a rally in which she moved Halep side to side on the baseline until she failed to get a shot back. Serving up 5-1, with Halep's "Simonativity" AWOL, the Italian never faltered a moment, knocking a put-away shot out of the air to hold for 6-1 and -- snap -- just like that, the 1st set was over seemingly before half the crowd had even arrived for a match that ESPN's Chris Fowler, in a poor choice of (somewhat insulting) words at the time for what was expected to be the BEST of the day's two semifinals, had an "undercard" feel to it with Serena Williams waiting in the wings. Of course, little did we know that he was actually RIGHT about that designation.

Needing to get out of the gate more quickly in the 2nd set, instead Halep fell behind 15/40 on serve in the opening game and then committed yet another unforced error to fall into a 1-0 hole. It was then, finally, that she began to awaken. Pennetta, down love/30 on serve, gave her a good assist by netting a poor volley to go down triple break point in game #2, then Halep got the break back by running Pennetta around the court and producing an error.

The first pumps that marked Halep previously strong performances at this Open were suddenly back, as was her more aggressive play. She held for 2-1, then saved a game point and broke Pennetta to go up 3-1. Belatedly, Halep's new-found and hard-fought-for "Simonativity" had arrived.

But it was only a short visit.

But immediately afterward, Halep played an awful game, while Pennetta's level of play rose. The Italian even pulled off a perfect down-the-line shot off a high backhand volley -- a shot she'd terribly dumped into the net in the sixth game of the 1st set, though Halep had failed to take advantage of the error -- as she got the break to get back on serve at 3-2. During the changeover, a far too frustrated Halep slammed her racket and towel and was overly bothered by having lost her advantage. With her brief moment of failure having been allowed to get inside her head, Halep less loose of the success she'd had just a few minutes earlier when grabbing the early momentum of the set.

She never got the moment back, while Pennetta proceeded ran away with it.

In game #7, Halep's poor decision to attempt a drop shot from the baseline and then not begin to follow it into the court allowed Pennetta to reach the ball and put away a drop shot winner of her own. The Italian took a 40/love lead on the now hazy-thinking Romanian's serve, and then smacked a forehand return winner to get the break and take a 4-3 lead and win her eleventh consecutive point.

By this point, Pennetta was a woman of purpose. Halep, though, seemed to have none. The Romanian's bubble had been permanently burst by the Italian's sharp pin.

Another Halep error gave Pennetta fifteen straight points and a 5-3 lead. Firing away from the ground, the Italian's backhand up the line winner gave her a match point at 40/15 a game later. Halep saved the first BP with a forehand winner, but it was far too little too late. Pennetta hit a forehand crosscourt winner to the corner to put away MP #2 to become the third (but just the first on Day 12) Italian woman to reach a slam singles final.

So, finally, after all these years. After all those heroic performances in Fed Cup ties. After public off-court heartbreak, and now just as public happiness. After forty-eight slams in her career, #49 is when Pennetta will get her moment in the spotlight. And it comes in New York City.

No one ever accused an Italian of playing it safe.

...some notes coming out of today's semifinals and tomorrow's women's final:

* - the Italians' dueling maiden slam final runs means we've seen seven first-timers ascend to the championship match in the last eight slams.

* - the last time two maiden slam finalists met for a major title was five years ago, when another (well, I guess, now we can say THE FIRST) Italian woman became a slam singles champion. Francesca Schiavone defeated Samantha Stosur in the 2010 Roland Garros final, the first in the career of both. Schiavone would return to the final in Paris a year later, losing to Li Na, while Stosur would win her first slam a few months later that season by defeating Serena in the '11 U.S. Open final.

* - the last all-nation final was the '09 Wimbledon decider between Venus and Serena, while the last at the Open was the 2004 all-Hordette final pitting Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva that provided a fitting end to the Russian slam revolution that took place that spring and summer.

* - if Pennetta were to win the title, at 33rd, she'd be the oldest first-time slam champ (29y,347d - Francesca Schiavone, '10 RG), as well as the player who had to play the most majors before doing it (47 - Bartoli, Wimbledon '13) in her 49th career slam. If it's Vinci, SHE'D be the oldest, and would rank third (at 44 slams) when it comes to the longest wait.

* - this Open will be just the fourth slam of the last sixteen not won by either Serena, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka since the start of the 2012 season (when Vika won the AO and became #1). It will also be just the thirteenth not claimed by a Russian, Belgian or Williams in the last fifty-five majors since 2002. doubles on Friday, the first champions of this Open were crowned as Martina Hingis & Leander Paes won their third Mixed slam title of the season (AO/WI), defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands (who won the RG Mixed w/ Mike Bryan) & Sam Querrey in a match-deciding 10-7 super tie-break.

It's Hingis' first U.S. Open Mixed title, and the fourth of her slam career. She's now won nineteen overall slam titles -- 5 singles, 10 dobules, 4 mixed -- and still has a shot at #20 in New York when she and Sania Mirza play in the doubles final against Casey Dellacqua & Yaroslava Shvedova, who finally took out Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Coco Vandeweghe in the 3rd set on their fifth MP today in a 6-7(3)/7-5/7-5 semifinal.

Hingis has already swept the WD and MX at Wimbledon this season. wheelchair action, #1-seeded Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, winners of six of the last seven slams, were sent out in the semis by the duo of Marjolein Buis & Sabine Ellerbrock. The Dutch/German pair will face off with #2-seeded Jiske Griffioen & Aniek Van Koot, the Dutch pair who've lost six of the last seven major finals to Kamiji/Whiley.

They may have lost in the doubles, but Kamiji and Whiley both won their doubles QF matches today, though. Kamiji will face #1-seeded Griffioen, while Whiley gets #2 Van Koot, in the semifinals.

...Serena might be out of the women's singles, but there's still a chance for an all-Bannerette junior girls final. #9 Sonya Kenin and Francesca Di Lorenzo are into the girls semis. Kenin will face Hungary's #11-seeded Fanni Stollar, while DiLorenzo gets another Hungarian, #2 Dalma Galfi (who def. Wimbledon champ Sofya Zhuk today).

The boys finals could be all-American, as well. #1 Taylor Fritz and #5 Tommy Paul are in the semis.

The girls doubles final will feature three Hordettes. Anna Kalinskaya & Anastasia Potapova will face Aleksandra Pospelova & Viktoria Kuzmova (the lone Slovak). the Billie Jean King Collegiate Invitational tournament, many of the participants had to double up on matches today due to yesterday's rain. When the dust settled, an all-UCLA Bruin final match was what remained. Unseeded Chanelle Van Nguyen and #2 Robin Anderson will play for the second-ever title in the competition.

LIKE ON DAY 12: Vinci channels Li Na in her post-match interview. Great stuff.

DISLIKE FROM DAY 12: People on ESPN who couldn't have picked Vinci out of a lineup a few hours earlier running around like their hair is on fire shouting about how AMAZING today's upset was because, you know, THEY knew nothing at all about Vinci or any other Italian player so it MUST be an upset of which the likes no one has EVER seen.


SAD TRUTH OF DAY 12: The elation of the moment is actually a BIG missed opportunity for women's tennis to seize the spotlight on Saturday.

REALITY TV ON DAY 12: The James Blake take down video was released.

Come now, we all know that it wasn't that just-minding-his-own-business-by-the-luggage-cart Blake "looked so much" like the suspect as much as it was... "hey, there's a black guy in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt -- that CAN'T be right, so he has to be our guy." At least a little.

HISTORY'S TRICKS ON DAY 12: The Tennis Gods are little twerps sometimes.

And sometimes they're just too smart for their own good, too.

LIKE ON DAY 12: Those in the know... purr.

...and, finally... of course, this day will be longer remembered for other things.

Roberta Vinci/ITA vs. #26 Flavia Pennetta/ITA

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 M.Hingis/S.Mirza (SUI/IND) vs. #4 C.Dellacqua/Y.Shvedova (AUS/KAZ)

#8 J.Murray/J.Peers (GBR/AUS) vs. #12 P.Herbert/N.Mahut (FRA/FRA)

#4 M.Hingis/L.Paes (SUI/IND) def. B.Mattek-Sands/S.Querrey (USA/USA) 6-4/3-6 [10-7]

#9 Sonya Kenin/USA vs. #11 Fanni Stollar/HUN
Francesca Di Lorenzo/USA vs. #2 Dalma Galfi/HUN

#1 Taylor Fritz/USA vs. #11 Chung Yunseong/KOR
#5 Tommy Paul/USA vs. (Q) Alex DeMinaur/AUS

V.Kuzmova/A.Pospelova (SVK/RUS) vs. A.Kalinskaya/A.Potapova (RUS/RUS)

B.Holt/R.Smith (USA/USA) vs. F.Aliassime/D.Shapovalov (CAN/CAN)

Chanelle Van Nguyen (UCLA) vs. #2 Robin Anderson (UCLA)

#4 Gonzales Austin (Vanderbilt) vs. #2 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA)

#1 Jiske Griffioen/NED vs. Yui Kamiji/JPN
Jordanne Whiley/GBR vs. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED

#1 Shingo Kunieda/JPN def. Joachim Gerard/BEL
Stephane Houdet/FRA vs. #2 Nicolas Peifer/FRA

M.Buis/S.Ellerbrock (NED/GER) vs. #2 J.Griffioen/A.Van Koot (NED/NED)

#1 S.Houdet/G.Reid (FRA/GBR) def. G.Fernandez/M.Scheffers (ARG/NED)
M.Jeremiasz/N.Peifer (FRA/FRA) vs. #2 J.Gerard/S.Kunieda (BEL/JPN)

8...Serena Williams (6-2)
4...Venus Williams (2-2)
2...Victoria Azarenka (0-2)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
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)
NOTE: Hingis (1-2)

[25-4 in slam SF]
2000 Wimbledon - Venus Williams
2003 Roland Garros - Justine Henin-Hardenne
2009 U.S. Open - Kim Clijsters
2015 U.S. Open - Roberta Vinci

49 - Flavia Pennetta???
47 - Marion Bartoli (2013 Wimbledon)
45 - Jana Novotna (1998 Wimbledon)
44 - Roberta Vinci???
39 - Francesca Schiavone (2010 Roland Garros)
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)

33 - Flavia Pennetta???
32 - Roberta Vinci???
29y,347d - Francesca Schiavone, 2010 Roland Garros
29y,9m - Jana Novotna, 1998 Wimbledon
29y,5m - Kerry Melville-Reid, 1977 Australian Open
29y,3m - Li Na, 2011 Roland Garros
28y,9m - Marion Bartoli, 2013 Wimbledon

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 - Agnieszka Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Sabine Lisicki
2014 Australian Open - Dominika Cibulkova
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep
2014 Wimbledon - Genie Bouchard
2015 Roland Garros - Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon - Garbine Muguruza
2015 U.S. Open - Flavia Pennetta
2015 U.S. Open - Roberta Vinci
ALSO: M.Hingis (1997 AO - W)

Unseeded - Roberta Vinci???
Unseeded/Wild Card - Kim Clijsters, BEL (2009)
#26 - Flavia Pennetta???
#9 - Samantha Stosur, AUS (2011)
#9 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2004)
#7 - Serena Williams, USA (1999)
#6 - Virginia Wade, GBR (1968)

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
2015 ???

2003 Australian Open - Serena Williams d. Venus Williams (USA)
2003 Roland Garros - Justine Henin-H. d. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
2003 Wimbledon - Serena Williams d. Venus Williams (USA)
2003 U.S. Open - Justine Henin-H. d. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
2004 Australian Open - Justine Henin-H. d. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
2004 Roland Garros - Anastasia Myskina d. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
2004 U.S. Open - Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
2005 Australian Open - Serena Williams d. Lindsay Davenport (USA)
2005 Wimbledon - Venus Williams d. Lindsay Davenport (USA)
2008 Wimbledon - Venus Williams d. Serena Williams (USA)
2009 Roland Garros - Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Dinara Safina (RUS)
2009 Wimbledon - Serena Williams d. Venus Williams (USA)
2015 U.S. Open - Flavia Pennetta vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Serena Williams, USA - 21/13/2
Venus Williams, USA - 7/13/2
Martina Hingis, SUI - 5/10/4 (in doubles final)
Samantha Stosur, AUS - 1/2/3

2006 Martina Navratilova/Bob Bryan, USA/USA
2007 Victoria Azarenka/Max Mirnyi, BLR/BLR
2008 Cara Black/Leander Paes, ZIM/IND
2009 Carly Gullickson/Travis Parrott, USA/USA
2010 Liezel Huber/Bob Bryan, USA/USA
2011 Melanie Oudin/Jack Sock, USA/USA
2012 Ekaterina Makarova/Bruno Soares, RUS/BRA
2013 Andrea Hlavackova/Max Mirnyi, CZE/BLR
2014 Sania Mirza/Bruno Soares, IND/BRA
2015 Martina Hingis/Leander Paes, SUI/IND
AO: Martina Hingis/Leander Paes, SUI/IND
RG: Bethanie Matteh-Sands/Mike Bryan, USA/USA
WI: Martina Hingis/Leander Paes, SUI/IND
US: Martina Hingis/Leander Paes, SUI/IND

AO: Siobhan Drake (1995); Nick Kyrgios (2013)
RG: Kristina Mladenovic (2009); Gael Monfils (2004)
WI: Laura Robson (2008); Stanley Matthews (1962)
US: Samantha Crawford (2012); Jack Sock (2010)
NOTE: Kenin & Di Lorenzo in U.S. girls SF; Fritz & Paul in U.S. boys SF

[1st Weekend]
MVP: Andrea Petkovic, GER
RISER: Karolina Pliskova, CZE
SURPRISE: French Fed Cup Team
VETERAN: Maria Sharpova, RUS
COMEBACK: Russian Fed Cup Team
FRESH FACE: Tereza Smitkova, CZE
DOUBLES: Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
DOWN: Italian Fed Cup Team
Captain: Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
[Semifinal/Playoff Weekend]
MVP: Sara Errani, ITA
RISER: Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
SURPRISE: Lara Arruabarrena, ESP
VETERAN: Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
COMEBACK: Italian Fed Cup Team
FRESH FACE: Andreea Mitu, ROU
DOUBLES: Elena Vesnina, RUS
DOWN: Genie Bouchard, CAN
CAPTAIN: Anastasia Myskina, RUS
[Junior Fed Cup]
MVP (16s): CiCi Bellis, USA
MVP (14s): Vlada Koval, RUS
FRESH FACE (16s): Michaela Gordon, USA
FRESH FACE (14s): Anastasia Potapova, RUS

TOP QUALIFIER: (WC) Jessica Pegula/USA
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #2 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Tereza Mrdeza/CRO d. #2 Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ 5-7/7-6(8)/7-6(4) [3:12; saved 3 MP]
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - #12 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Misaki Doi/JPN 5-7/7-6(3)/6-3 (down 3 MP in 2nd; outburst/crying/no shake umpire's hand)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - #20 Victoria Azarenka/BLR d. #11 Angelique Kerber/GER 7-5/2-6/6-4
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): SF - Roberta Vinci/ITA d. #1 Serena Williams/USA 2-6/6-4/6-4
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION MATCH: Petra Cetkovska/CZE d. #4 Carolina Wozniacki/DEN 6-4/5-7/7-6(1) (saved 4 MP; ended past midnight after 3:02)
FIRST VICTORY: Mariana Duque/COL (def. Kenin/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB (lost 1st Rd. to Cibulkova/SVK)
UPSET QUEENS: United States
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Serbia (1-4; #7 Ivanovic, #21 Jankovic and '14 star Aleksandra Krunic out in 1st Rd.)
CRASH & BURN: #8 Karolina Pliskova/CZE (1st Rd. loss to Tatishvili/USA; :52; U.S. Open Series "winner")
ZOMBIE QUEEN: (LL) Daria Kasatkina/RUS (lucky loser, reached3rd Round after wins over Gavrilova & Konjuh -- best LL slam result since 1997, best at Open since 1993)
IT ("Kiki"): Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Johnna Konta/GBR & Anett Kontaveit/EST (both 4th Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/USA (3rd Rd.)
COMEBACK PLAYER: #20 Victoria Azarenka/BLR
DOUBLES STAR: Nominee: Hingis
BROADWAY-BOUND: Lisa Raymond (farewell New York performance)
LADIES OF THE EVENING: #1 Serena Williams/USA & #23 Venus Williams/USA
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Nominees: Kenin, Di Lorenzo, Stollar, Galfi

All for Day 12. More tomorrow.


Blogger jo shum said...

Pressure got to Serena. Or her match against venus was too tough. She didn't play well from the start but I always thought she would pull it through. Too many errors, she had many bp opportunities. The last few games I saw the most timid player who didn't go for her shots. How amazing that she didn't capitalise all those 70 mph second serves.

Sat Sep 12, 12:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

What a difference a year makes. I am one that thought that Halep would win a major. Getting to a SF on hardcourt should be a good thing, but she is giving me Petrova like vibes in which I fear she can't make it through 7 matches.

How about Italy's 2009 Fed Cup team? All 4 members have made a slam final. Would have never predicted that.

This loss shows how great Serena is. During this streak, arguably her best matches have been last year's USO final, the AO final and the Wimbledon final. She has managed to win with dropping(for her) lots of sets, and not having a consistent A game, and still finding a way to win. She managed to peak in January, then again in May, then again in July. Almost impossible to pull off. And the fact that she got this close is amazing.

Sat Sep 12, 10:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Halep is a curious case. She has a great game , when she plays aggressive I can see a it if henin in her. But of course the backhand is not comparable :). But she doesn't wear pressure well. From start of the year till now whenever she is expected to do well she didn't. Then when people start questioning and discounting her , she plays well. It's like she is always trying to prove others wrong instead of confirming her status. I like her game but not so much her mental approach.

Sat Sep 12, 10:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yep, Halep still very much a work in progress. And with what happened in the second semi, she's going to regret her performance even more now. What a missed opportunity.

Sat Sep 12, 02:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

If Pennetta wins this, would it be possible that all 4 Italians get their place into Newport? So far, she has the weakest case of the four. It would feel so wrong for some of them to get in (Vinci and Errani are sure cases in my mind), while the others (Schiavone and Pennetta) are left out.

Sat Sep 12, 04:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, they do factor in Fed Cup, as well. And she's got multiple titles there (as the lead player), has been a doubles #1 and won a slam, and now a singles slam makes an interesting case.

She might be right on the edge, and her popularity could make a difference.

Errani/Vinci would have to be included as a team (as Gigi Fernandez/Natasha Zvereva), you'd think, but one wonders whether that they've stopped playing together might make a difference since they still could have added more slam titles. Their Career Slam took place in such a short window (2012-14).

It'd be great if they could be inducted as a group with some sort of Fed Cup connection, since they all were involved in Italy's great runs.

Sat Sep 12, 05:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

It's meant to be. Pennetta getting it with the retirement announcement.

Sat Sep 12, 06:52:00 PM EDT  

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