Wednesday, September 02, 2015

US.3 - Fly, Brengle, Fly

Sometimes, hard work actually pays off. Even in tennis. Oh, what a year it's been for Madison Brengle.

An Australian Open junior runner-up in '07, and an ITF singles champion at age 15, Brengle was a player with promise a decade ago. But it took that full decade for the American to complete a ten-year quest to finally get her first career slam MD victory. After falling in qualifying at twenty-four consecutive majors (she was 0-for-27 in slam qualifying attempts in her career) at last year's Wimbledon, she received a wild card into the women's field at the U.S. Open. She'd played four MD slam matches in career (she'd received three previous WC), going 0-4.

But then it finally happened. Brengle responded with a victory over Julia Glushko. Nothing has been the same since.

A few weeks later, she reached her first tour QF in Linz (winning the 1st Round, then getting a walkover in the 2nd). Notching two of her five career WTA main draw victories last year, Brengle had her first Top 100 season (finishing #94) after having made her professional debut as a 14 -year old in 2004. She opened '15 by reaching her first WTA final in Hobart, then followed up with a Round of 16 run at the Australian Open, putting up big wins over Andrea Petkovic, Irina Falconi and Coco Vandeweghe. She began the season on a 14-3 run, and in May she reached a career-high ranking of #35.

Things haven't been PERFECTLY smooth this season, though. She came into this Open after slipping a bit to #47, having finally snapped a nine-match mid-season losing streak last month in Toronto.

Today, two days after winning an Open record-setting 3:20 1st Round match, the 25-year old Delaware native reached the 3rd Round of the Open for the first time with a quick 6-3/6-2 win over fellow Bannerette Anna Tatishvili, who'd ridden #8 seed Karolina Pliskova out on a rusty rail in the 1st Round two days ago, only to hitch a ride on that very same rail today. Brengle won 89% of her 1st serves (Tatishvili: 56%) and never faced a break point, while Tatishvili committed 34 unforced errors to Brengle's six, leading to a 54-32 edge in points

Brengle is now 29-20 on the season, with twenty-three MD tour wins. Almost six times the number she'd had for her ENTIRE CAREER coming into 2015.

Brengle will next face qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who dispatched #31 Anastasia Palvyuchenkova, who once again failed to live up to even the modest expectations of her seeding at a major.

So, a player who had to wait a decade to get ONE win in a major is the FAVORITE in a match where a victory would send her into her second slam Round of 16 THIS SEASON.

Perseverance, baby. Perseverance. Spread your wings, BrengleFly... and fly, baby, fly.

=DAY 3 NOTES=, has this Open's "Zombie Queen" been found? Umm, yeah, I believe so. And it's Daria Kasatkina, who has shockingly risen from the dead of qualifying to reach the final 32.

A former junior slam champ, Kasatkina was a "lucky loser" whose Open was over before Maria Sharapova's Sunday withdrawal. But the 18-year old Russian has more than made the most of the opportunity her second chance has given her. After winning the Battle of the Darias over Gavrilova on Monday, she faced one of the bright young tour stars on the rise in Ana Konjuh today. Kasatkina won in straight sets, lifting her game on the big points, breaking the Croat late in both the 1st and 2nd sets to take 5-4 leads and then calmly serving things out for a 6-4/6-4 victory.

The #133-ranked Hordette's 3rd Round arrival means she's the first LL to advance so far at a slam since 1997, when Czech Sandra Kleinova did the same at the Australian Open. Kasatkina is the first to do it at the U.S. Open since 1993 (Argentine Maria Jose Gaidano, who reached the Round of 16). Of course, despite her "unbecoming" LL status, the teenager knows a little about winning. So far in her young career, she's reached six singles challenger finals. And she's a perfect 6-0 in those matches, too.

It was great scene after the match, as well, as the usually rather-serious-looking Kasatkina slowly walked to the side of the court and embraced members of her team, getting a big hug from either one of her coaches (two are listed on her ITF bio page) or father as she held on tight and did that lifting-both-her-feet-in-unison behind her thing which always make someone her age look even younger than she already actually is. After that, she seemed to pretty much take a selfie with everyone in the stands who had a camera. Though it wasn't as if the court was packed... but more on that in the Like/Dislike section. While the U.S. Open official behind her patiently waited for her to clear the court, Kasatkina made sure to get in an impromptu autograph session and a few more photos before she finally had to go.

Enjoy it, Daria. You deserve it.

Reading Twitter after this match, it seems that many are making the expected jokes about how Kasatkina should be thanking Sharapova for her "great draw" at this Open. But, fact is, while the #3-seeded Russian's exit got her into this tournament, Kasatkina has been steely and determined all on her own while taking out Gavrilova (who defeated Sharapova earlier this season) and Konjuh (a '15 tour title-winner). She doesn't have to apologize to anyone for her run.

I said before the tournament that Gavrilova would win that match-up with Sharapova in that spot in the draw, and that she'd be the star of the first week. Well, I was right about the whole "Daria becomes a star" thing out of that spot, but I just had the wrong one. Who knew? The star turn HAS begun, only the "understudy to the understudy" has assumed the lead role.

Kiki Mladenovic, who gets this unexpected package of danger next, had better watch her back. the second Battle of Poles at this Open, one round after Magda Linette took out Ula Radwanska on Monday, #15 Aga Radwanksa got her sibling revenge with at 6-3/6-2 victory.

Meanwhile, Coco Vandeweghe will now have all the time in the world to do interviews. Just not on the court in the middle of a match, since she was run out of this Open on a rusty rail (wow, that thing is getting a lot of use!) by wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands, losing 6-2/6-1 in sixty-eight minutes today.

While Vandeweghe generally followed up a good point with an awful one all day, BMS was on her from the start, jumping to quick 3-0 leads in both sets and never showing any nerves or taking a step back in focus. Afterward, in a POST-match interview, newly-thirtysomething Mattek-Sands joked that "30 is the new 21" as she enjoyed the moment of reaching her first Open 3rd Round in her thirteenth appearance in the event.

As for Vandeweghe, well, this was another ass-tastic result for the talkative American. So maybe now ESPN & Co. can step back on talking about how great Coco can be just because she hits hard, has a big mouth and likes to talk to the media with an edgy tone that makes then collectively forget for a moment that she's a tennis player and act as if she's a female version of Charles Barkley (only without the natural, easy humor that comes along with the former basketball star) combined with Rhonda Rousey (only, you know, without the similar record of success).

Virginia Wade said Vandeweghe didn't appear to be prepared for the match, and I couldn't help but think Coco had been up all night thinking about what she was going to say in front of a microphone rather than thinking about the opponent on the other side of the net.

Hmmm, maybe she just needed Pam Shriver to come out and calm her down. Wow, I bet that's the first time THAT phrase has EVER been uttered in the history of humankind. But I'm just guessin'.

...well, Serena Williams slipped right into "slam mode" today against Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens. In other words, she started slowly, gave her opponent a chance to solidify a lead, but then put things together and crushed the 23-year old's dreams on Day 3.

With Williams' serve again being balky in the early going, Bertens got an early break for 2-1 in the 1st and held it until she served for the set at 5-4. She blinked and was broken. After Williams held in a nearly ten-minute game in which she double-faulted four times, Bertens held to force a tie-break, where she led 4-0. Then she blinked again. Serena won five straight points to take the lead, then won the set with a 7-5 TB win via a net cord shot that hit the sideline. Bertens raced to get her racket on the ball, but pushed it long, then threw her racket across the court.

Williams got the early break in the 2nd set for 2-1, then carried it out to a 7-6(5)/6-3 victory, running her career record in slam 2nd Rounds to 58-2. She committed ten DF on the day, and after the match skipped past the media session and instead hit the practice court and worked on her serve for thirty minutes, and had a full practice session with coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

...meanwhile, with Monday's string of upsets having opened a gap in the draw, #25 Genie Bouchard came into Wednesday trying to salvage something from what has been a disaster of a "year after" season.

For a bit against Polona Hercog, she seemed to be cruising to a victory. She served for the match at 5-4 in the 2nd, but was broken at 15 and soon had to fight off a Hercog set point. Things went to a tie-break, and that's where the Slovenian woman took control of things, jumping out to a 6-1 lead and winning 7-2.

With a 1-8 record in three-set matches in '15, there was a real question whether or not Bouchard's confidence (which has sagged so often this year, sometimes because of lingering injury -- but that hasn't always been the excuse) would be high enough to get a better result. Bouchard rebounded from the lost set, but Hercog helped out, too, as she didn't respond well to the moment in the early going.

Bouchard took a 4-0 lead, but things ultimately tightened. Serving for the match, and to avoid the set getting back on serve, at 5-3, Bouchard upped her game and went on to win 6-3/6-7(2)/6-3, converting her second match point to advance to the 3rd Round and win her first consecutive matches since Indian Wells in March.

In the same section of the former AnaIvo/JJ Section as Bouchard, Dominika Cibulkova staged a successful comeback to take out qualifier Jessica Pegula. The American led 7-5/3-1, but then went 0/4 on BP opportunities in the remainder of the 2nd set. The Slovak broke Pegula in back-to-back service games to take a 4-2 lead in the 3rd, but the Bannerette didn't go out without a final fight. With Cibulkova serving for the match, Pegula had a BP to get back on serve. But, once again, Cibulkova saved it and won 5-7/7-5/6-3.

Bouchard and Cibulkova will next meet for a spot in the Round of 16, where the winner will face either Roberta Vinci or Mariana Duque.

Obviously, the Genie/Domi match is a huge opportunity waiting to be grabbed. By someone.

...women's and mixed doubles action is underway, and Gavrilova's luck didn't hold up there, either. The Russo-Aussie (w/ Alison Van Uytvanck) lost in the 1st Round, in a match-up of four players already out of the singles, to Casey Dellacqua/Yaroslava Shvedova. They lost the 3rd set at love.

Other winners included both the Chan and Kichenok sisters, Muguruza/CSN (def. Date-Krumm/Minella), Vania King (welcome back!) & Zheng Saisai and -- really, how GREAT is this? -- Jelena Jankovic and The Bracelet herself, Aleksandra Krunic! Y.E.S.

DISLIKE FROM DAY 3: Oh! ESPN has finally gotten Hannah Storm into the mix in its Open coverage. That'll make things better.

(head hits desk)

She already got off to a flying start by pretty much making light of the whole Kyrgios/Wawrinka/Vekic/Kokkinakis issue at the start of last night's coverage... and then tried to cover her you-know-what by saying, "Not to make light of it."


Seriously, their coverage often feels like you're watching a small town local television news show. You'd think that if you paid through the nose to get the full coverage of an event that you'd try to put forth the best coverage you could. At this early stage of the tournament, I think this might be the worst slam coverage I've ever seen by any U.S. network... well, excluding NBC's we'll-embargo-everything-so-you-can't-watch-it-but-we-won't-show-it-for-another-five-or-six hours mess from a few years ago, I mean.

A MESSAGE ON DAY 3?: The first "victim" of Serena at this Open:

LIKE FROM DAY 3: When hearing the words are even MORE entertaining than just reading them...

SHAKING HEAD FROM DAY 3: the aftereffects of a nation weaned on ESPN tennis coverage

DISLIKE FROM DAY 3: No wonder "some people" can't tell one player from another. It doesn't help when you have a match like Konjuh/Kasatkina in which both players wear the exact same outfits (right down to the day-glo yellow shoes). At least Konjuh had the visor.

LIKE FROM DAY 3: La Trufflette news!

LIKE FROM DAY 3: Vika breaking new autograph grounds

LIKE FROM DAY 3: That NO tennis player other than Sharapova would post this photo.

Just an average NYC moment at the coffee bar #ILoveNY

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

And that's great!

...and, finally... a second Williams Sister will pop up on Ashe Stadium court tonight, as Venus leads off the night session against Irina Falconi, a 25-year old whose family moved to NYC when she was a toddler. Falconi had a celebrated run to the Open 3rd Round in 2011, a result which actually equals Venus' best result in the event over the last four years (in 2014).

As was the case yesterday, I'm posting the recap a little early... but if something major happens a follow-up post would be likely.

Classic shots.

Towards the bright light.... #usopen

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Green and yellow #takeflight

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Caro and Jeter. So, essentially, Wozniacki and her boss.

She has to REALLY be cramping up right about now. Sigh.

Fear the Kasatkina.

2008 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2011 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
2014 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
2015 Daria Kasatkina, RUS
AO: Maria Sharapova, RUS
RG: Elina Svitolina, UKR
WI: Serena Williams, USA
US: Daria Kasatkina, RUS

2006 US: Nicole Pratt, AUS (2nd)
2006 RG: Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (2nd)
2007 WI: Alize Cornet, FRA (2nd)
2008 US: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (2nd)
2009 RG: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (2nd)
2009 WI: Kristina Kucova, SVK (2nd)
2010 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (2nd)
2011 WI: Stephanie Dubois, CAN (2nd)
2012 RG: Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ (2nd)
2013 US: Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT (2nd)
2014 AO: Irina Falconi, USA (2nd)
2015 US: Daria Kasatkina, RUS (in 3rd Rd.)

2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS (3rd Rd.)
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB (2nd Rd.)
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS (2nd Rd.)
2010 Victoria Azarenka, BLR (2nd Rd.)
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE & Li Na, CHN (both 1st Rd.)
2012 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1st Rd.)
2013 Samantha Stosur, AUS (1st Rd.)
2014 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK (1st Rd.)
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE (1st Rd.)
AO: #5 Ana Ivanovic, SRB (1st Rd.)
RG: #3 Simona Halep, ROU (2nd Rd.)
WI: #3 Simona Halep, ROU & #12 Genie Bouchard, CAN (1st Rd.)
US: #8 Karolina Pliskova, CZE (1st Rd.)

JAN: Madison Brengle, USA
FEB: Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
MAR: Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
1Q: Madison Brengle, USA
APR/MAY: Teliana Pereira, BRA
MAY/JUN: Virginie Razzano, FRA
RG: Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
2Q Clay Court: Teliana Pereira, BRA
JUN: Johanna Konta, GBR
2Q Grass Court/WI: Johanna Konta, GBR
JUL/AUG: Andreea Mitu, ROU
AUG: Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
[2015 Weekly SURPRISE Wins]
3...Johanna Konta, GBR
3...Cristina Sanchez Quintanar, ESP
2...Denisa Allertova, CZE
2...Madison Brengle, USA
2...Duan Yingying, CHN
2...Tatjana Maria, GER
2...Andreea Mitu, ROU
2...Alexandra Panova, RUS
2...Victoria Rodriguez, MEX
2...Laura Siegemund, GER
2...Lesia Tsurenko, UKR

TOP QUALIFIER: (WC) Jessica Pegula/USA
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
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): Nominee: 1st Rd. - #18 Petkovic d. Garcia 3-6/6-4/7-5 (Garcia up 4-2, BP for 5-2 in 3rd)
FIRST VICTORY: Mariana Duque/COL (def. Kenin/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB (lost 1st Rd. to Cibulkova/SVK)
UPSET QUEENS: Nominees: USA, France, Czech Republic, Japan
REVELATION LADIES: Nominees: Baltic nations, USA, Japan
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, into 3rd Round after wins over Gavrilova & Konjuh -- best LL result since 1997)
IT ("xx"): xx
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: Bertens/NED(L), K.Bondarenko/UKR, Konta/GBR, Kontaveit/EST(W), Ostapenko/LAT, Pegula/USA(L), Rogers/USA, Tatishvili/USA(L)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: Dodin/FRA(L), Gibbs/USA, Mattek-Sands/USA(W)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: Brengle(W), Davis, Falconi, Gibbs, Keys(W), Lepchenko, Mattek-Sands(W), Pegula(L), Rogers, Tatishvili(L), Vandeweghe(L), S.Williams(W), V.Williams
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: Duval (lost in qualifying), Cibulkova, K.Bondarenko, Mattek-Sands

All for Day 3. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

Speaking of Zombie Queens--better call Bencic!

Wed Sep 02, 08:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha! Yeah, I know.

Last year she won "Broadway Bound," and I suspect she'll be in the running for that this time around, too. As well as the evening star since, technically, it was "at night."

She can now become the first person to defeat both Sisters in 2015. At least one player has done it every year since 1997, but not so far this year (granted, Serena's only lost TWICE at all). ;)

1997 Davenport
1998 Sanchez Vicario & Hingis
1999 Graf
2000 Davenport
2001 Hingis
2002 Clijsters
2003 Mauresmo
2004 Davenport & Sharapova
2005 Farina Elia
2006 Jankovic
2007 Henin
2008 Jankovic & Li
2009 Clijsters & Dementieva
2010 Jankovic
2011 Stosur
2012 Kerber
2013 Lisicki
2014 Ivanovic
2015 -

Thu Sep 03, 12:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Looking at Venus' tiebreak record, it isn't as bad as it seems. It just looks like she always loses the 2nd set tiebreaker.

Re:ESPN-Tennis gets away with something you can't in other sports. There is a great basketball announcer named Brenda VanLengen, who normally does Big 12 games. But you can put her on Division 2 playoff games, and she is prepared. In tennis, the announcers admit, in a youtube and tennistv age, that they sometimes have never seen a person play. It is sad when I know more(because of going to ITF events), than they do.

Thu Sep 03, 12:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, it's a top-to-bottom thing w/ tennis on ESPN.

You've got that willing/proud lack of knowledge thing with the announcers, the majority of SportsCenter people who do highlights as if they've never seen the sport before and don't even attempt to get names correct (although, mostly, they sound just like most NHL players and the many NBA players from Europe), the top talk show (PTI) often devolving into talking about either Federer being too old to win anything again or that no one outside 3-4 players are any good (even while freely admitting that their current knowledge is so poor that they've never even heard of half the Top 10 players), etc.

Even that recent Top Female Athlete Ever thing they did on ESPNw didn't include either Evert or Venus in a field of 32 (but had a snowboarder, a race car driver, etc.).

There's even disdain for the viewers who want to see more tennis on the air. USA Today had a story yesterday that talked about people complaining about the network not airing the first two hours of matches during the first week after shutting everyone else (TC, CBS) out of the Open, and then only showing things online. In a comment, one of the higher-ups in ESPN looked down his nose at the notion, talked about the lack of coverage "only" being ten hours during the first five days (you know, the part of every slam that MAKES it a slam, when so many matches are happening... otherwise, it's just like a regular event) and scolded the complainers by saying something about how this is the way things will be aired "in the future." Thing is, no one was arguing about having matches online, they were talking about they weren't even bothering to air ANYTHING on actual ESPN, and forcing people to go elsewhere to view an event that ESPN shelled out so much to cover from start to finish.

They have zero respect for the viewers... and it's not just the case with tennis viewers, either.

Thu Sep 03, 02:11:00 PM EDT  

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