Sunday, September 06, 2015

US.7 - Sister Sunday

Serena. Venus. The U.S. Open. It's like they were all made for one another.

With both Sisters having reached their mid-thirties, the ticking clock of tennis time and Venus and Serena's roles in its daily existence aren't at their end. Not yet. But you can see it from here.

Showing rare wisdom, the USTA moved to take advantage of the still-strong-after-all-these-years magic of the Williams Sisters, with everyone crossing their collective fingers that the possible QF match-up between the two that was set up last week by the Draw Gods would actually come to pass and produce the first Venus vs. Serena match-up in Flushing Meadows in seven years. Setting the stage for hopeful good karma to come the tournament's way, the USTA scheduled the Sisters to play back-to-back matches on Ashe Court on Day 7.

First up was the older Williams sibling.

#23 Venus made quick work of qualifier Anett Kontaveit. The 19-year old was appearing in her first career slam Round of 16, while Williams was in her forty-third. It showed. Venus got early breaks in both sets and coasted to a 6-1/6-2 victory in fifty-two minutes. Hitting four aces, Williams won 84% of her 1st serves, and 71% of her 2nd. This is Venus' second slam QF of the year (AO, where she lost to Madison Keys), and the thirty-fifth of her career. Her first, of course, came in her U.S. Open in 1997, when she went all the way to the final.

Of course, it was Serena who tasted U.S. Open (and slam) championship glory first, winning the title in 1999 as a 17-year old. Venus took her turn the next two summers. On this day, though, it was Serena who followed Venus into the Ashe spotlight, facing off with #19-seeded Keys, who was the second player (after Belinda Bencic, down by Venus two days ago) looking to become the first to defeat BOTH Williamses during the 2015 season. While Serena was surely the favorite in the match, there was at least the thought that she was going to be facing her best foe yet... so would her serve arrive on time to lend a helpful assist after she's had to struggle with it throughout her three-set 3rd Round win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands?

Umm, yeah.

Things are getting serious as this slam turns into its second week, and Serena surely looked the part today against Keys. Focused and calm from the start, she didn't have trouble getting her ducks in a row in the early going as she did in her previous matches at this Open. Having defeated Keys in the Australian Open semis earlier this year, with the younger American having put up quite a right down the stretch, it was apparent that Williams was making sure to mind her "p's and q's" this time around.

And that's not generally a good thing for whoever is on the other side of the net. It wasn't for Madison, either.

Both players strung together easy holds of serve early in the 1st set. Williams lost just four points in her first four games, while Keys dropped four in her first three. But as soon as Keys left the door ajar just a tad, Serena barged through it and took control. She got to double break point on Keys' serve in game #8, and with the 20-year old feeling the pressure she double-faulted to hand Williams a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve out the set. After taking a 30/15 lead a game later, Serena dumped an easy short ball into the net. But she didn't waver and let Keys back into things. A deep crosscourt backhand caused Keys to hit a forehand into the net to reach set point, then when she sailed a return it meant that Williams had taken the set 6-3. Serena won 80% of her first serve points.

Keys held up under the pressure of Serena in game #3 of the 2nd set, saving four break points (one when a Williams shot clipped off the net cord and barely landed outside the sideline) to take a 2-1 lead. But Williams couldn't be held back for long. In game #7, a big Serena return caused a Keys error and Williams took a break lead at 4-3. After Keys closed to 40/30 with a shot into the corner that left Williams shaking her head at its precision, Serena fired an ace to hold for 5-3. It would be Keys' last stand. Faced with Williams' first match point a game later, Keys double-faulted and Serena advanced to her twenty-ninth career slam QF with a 6-3/6-3 victory.

Her sister will be waiting.

It'll be the second straight slam (Wimbledon 4th Rd.) in which the Sisters have played -- that hasn't happened since their 2008 Wimbledon/U.S. Open combo -- and it comes fourteen years after they met for the first time in a slam final in New York in 2001 in the first nighttime Open final, a phenomenon that their rise alone made possible.

No matter what happens next, never, ever forget to enjoy moments like the one that will arrive one more time in two days. We're never, ever going to see anything like the Sisters again.

Generations from now, people who didn't get to experience the Williams in real time are going to wish they were us.

Those Futures... they just won't know what they're talking about. Am I right?

(Sorry, is it too early to start a generational rivalry with a generation that might not yet exist? Oh, well.)

=DAY 7 NOTES= the the Round of 16 match that never happened, Roberta Vinci advanced to her third career slam QF (all have come at Flushing Meadows, with the others being in 2012-13) when #25 Genie Bouchard withdrew due to the concussion she suffered in a locker room fall on Friday night, thus ending her best tournament run since March. Talk about not being able to catch a break.

Of note, all of the late-blooming Vinci's career slam QF results have come since she turned 29. In fact, all six (w/ three additional Round of 16's) of her best results at majors have come between ages 29-32. She's the third thirtysomething veteran in the quarterfinals of this Open, and a fourth will be decided on Monday in the match-up between Samantha Stosur (31) and Vinci's countrywoman Flavia Pennetta (33).

This is the third straight year that at least one unseeded woman has reached the final eight in New York, and sixth time in the last seven Opens. There are still three more unseeded players -- Kristina Mladenovic, Varavara Lepchenko and qualifier Johanna Konta -- who could join her.

Vinci will face the winner of the night session-concluding 4th Rounder between #13 Ekaterina Makaraova and Mladenovic, a cool little match (and one that might get REAL interesting in the late stages when one -- or both, eventually -- of the two is trying to close out a win). I'd say good for the USTA for putting Makarova/Mladnovic on the big stage, but I won't. I know this is just a "happy accident" that probably wouldn't have happened at all had Bouchard not been injured and it wasn't clear whether she could have played if her match with Vinci had been placed under the lights on Ashe (which you kind of feel would have been the case, since having Serena and Venus play back-to-back matches during the day would always have been too good to pass up). doubles, Hingis/Mirza advanced to the QF, along with Garcia/Srebotnik, Errani/Pennetta, Groenefeld/Vandweghe and the Chan sisters.

But, alas, Jankovic/Krunic are no more. The delightful all-Serbian pairing was sent packing by Dellacqua/Shvedova. Boo! JJ and The Bracelet won the 1st set 6-2, and were a break up in both the 2nd and 3rd before losing both sets at 7-5. But...

So at least there was that. Maybe JJ ends out signals that only little critters can hear.

As of this post, there are just three woman still alive both the WD and Mixed draws (Hingis, Chan Yung-Jan and Yaroslava Shvedova), three in the singles and WD (Mladenovic, Pennetta & Vinci) and one in the singles and mixed.

The woman alive in singles and mixed is -- surprise -- Simona Halep. The Swarmette won today with countryman Horia Tecau over #8-seeded Goerges/Zimonjic to reach the quarterfinals. They'll meet #4-seeded Hingis/Peas. Uhh, YEAH... that sounds sort of interesting. ESPN3 might get a workout with that one. junior play, Scot Maia Lumsden knocked off #6-seeded Hordette Anna Kalinskaya. Two weeks ago, Lumsden lost to the Russian in the QF of the International Hard Court Junior Championships in College Park, Maryland (Kalinskaya went on to win the title). Also, Iryna Shymanovich (BLR) defeated #12 Luisa Stefani (BRA) and #13 Vera Lapko (BLR) defeated Tornado Alicia Black (USA) when the American retired down 7-5/5-5.

...well, it happened. Patty Schnyder is a champion once again, taking the $10K challenger in Prague with a 6-1/6-2 win over Slovak Zuzana Luknarova 6-1/6-2. It's her first singles title since 2008. The 36-year old has now won four ITF singles crown to go along with the eleven she on on the WTA tour during her career. Schnyder's last ITF title was in... wait for it... 1995.

It was nearly two full years before fellow Swiss Belinda Bencic was born.

...meanwhile, in the Grade 1 Canadian Open Junior Championships in Repentigny, 15-year old Canadian Bianca Andreescu claimed her first career G1 title. As the #11 seed, she mowed down a series of seeded opponents, including #8 Kimberly Birrell (3rd), #1 Katie Swan (QF), #14 Tessah Andrianjafitrimo (SF) and #2 Charlotte Robillard-Millette in a 6-1/6-2 victory in the final. In Andreescu's previous G1 final in April, she lost to fellow Canadian CRM in Beaulieu Sur Mer, France.

LIKE FROM DAY 7: When the USTA actually gets something right for a change...

LIKE FROM DAY 7: Another great photo from Maria Shara-... no, wait. That's Elina Svitolina doing a right good photographic impersonation of Maria! Hey, maybe this more artistic trend will catch on.

Speaking of...

LIKE FROM DAY 7: Maria-Eye-View

Spent the afternoon under flying olive trees. #landscape #design

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

LIKE FROM DAY 7: From someone who knows a little about pulling the good out of a bad situation...


DISLIKE FROM DAY 7: Bye, Bracelet. See you next time. :(

LIKE FROM DAY 7: Good camera angles are cool.

LIKE FROM DAY 7: Sloane is long gone, but this is just PERFECT!

WTA Reactions rules.

PICTURE-PERFECT RUSSIAN FROM DAY 7: There's even a rainbow in there!

LIKE FROM DAY 7: Stereo Petra still going strong...

...and, finally... tomorrow is Labor Day in the U.S., and it marks the 24th anniversary of the greatest non-championship run in the history of the tournament (and maybe all slam history) by Jimmy Connors in 1991. His holiday takedown of Aaron Krickstein in the Round of 16 is maybe the most famous of his amazing string of performances at age 39 that took him all the way to the semifinals. I posted a "Backspin Time Capsule" on that '91 Open (multiple times, in fact) in past years. I won't do that this year but, you know, there's the link to it. Ha!

Oh, and here's the 5th set tie-break between Connors and Krickstein, which was given even more legendary status just recently when it was revealed that, after being friends prior to becoming adversaries in this match, Connors didn't speak to Krickstein for over twenty years after he defeated him that Labor Day afternoon. See... Jimbo and Genie DO have some competitive personality parallels. Although, Connors DID shake hands with Krickstein both before AND after the match.

Connors and Krickstein did finally talk again recently, and played against each other once more in an exhibition earlier this year that was marked as the last time Connors would play tennis on a public stage because of his ailing hips. Connors just turned 63 on September 2.

This weekend is also the anniversary of this point, which occurred in the QF vs. Paul Haarhuis one round after defeating Krickstein.

CBS always eventually found a way to replay large parts of the Krickstein match, as well as the Haarhuis point, over the years on Labor Day weekend, be it when being in a nostalgic mood or during a rain delay. But now that ESPN is airing the entire event, one wonders if we've seen the last of those unofficial tradition. I guess we'll see on Monday.

#1 Serena Williams/USA def. #19 Madison Keys/USA
#23 Venus Williams/USA def. (Q) Anett Kontaveit/EST
Kristina Mladenovic/FRA vs. #13 Ekaterina Makarova/RUS
Roberta Vinci/ITA walkover #25 Genie Bouchard/CAN
#5 Petra Kvitova/CZE vs. (Q) Johanna Konta/GBR
#22 Samantha Stosur/AUS vs. #26 Flavia Pennetta/ITA
Varvara Lepchenko/USA vs. #20 Victoria Azarenka/BLR
#24 Sabine Lisicki/GER vs. #2 Simona Halep/ROU

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #23 Roberto Bautista Agut/ESP
#18 Feliciano Lopez/ESP def. #32 Fabio Fognini/ITA
#19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/FRA def. Benoit Paire/FRA
#9 Marin Cilic/CRO def. #27 Jeremy Chardy/FRA
#5 Stan Wawrinka/SUI vs. Donald Young/USA
#15 Kevin Anderson/RSA vs. #3 Andy Murray/GBR
#6 Tomas Berdych/CZE vs. #12 Richard Gasquet/FRA
#13 John Isner/USA vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 M.Hingis/S.Mirza (SUI/IND) vs. #9 Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE)
x/x vs. #11 S.Errani/F.Pennetta (ITA/ITA)
x/x vs. #4 C.Dellacqua/Y.Shvedova (AUS/KAZ)
A.Groenefeld/C.Vandeweghe (GER/USA) vs. #5 C.Garcia/K.Srebotnik (FRA/SLO)

x/x vs. L.Mayer/J.Sousa (ARG/BRA)
x/x vs. #8 J.Murray/J.Peers (GBR/AUS)
#12 P.Herbert/N.Mahut (FRA/FRA) vs. x/x
x/x vs. D.Inglot/R.Lindstedt (GBR/SWE)

A.Hlavackova/L.Kubot (CZE/POL) vs. #7 R.Kops-Jones/R.Klaasen (USA/RSA) or An.Rodionova/M.Mirnyi (AUS/BLR)
B.Mattek-Sands/S.Querrey (USA/USA) vs. #6 Y.Shvedova/J.Cabal (KAZ/COL)
#8 J.Goerges/N.Zimonjic (GER/SRB) or S.Halep/H.Tecau (ROU/ROU) vs. #4 M.Hingis/L.Paes (SUI/IND)
SW.Hsieh/H.Kontinen (TPE/FIN) vs. #2 Y.Chan/R.Bopanna (TPE/IND)

From every angle, yesterday was a good day for Vika.

So, I guess "pinish" is officially a thing now.

Yeah, I know that's Serena. But, you know, she DID defeat Caro in last year's final. So it SORT OF counts.

Bye bye Us Open 2015! #atleastmyhairlookedcool ??

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

2001 Daja Bedanova, CZE
2002 Elena Bovina, RUS
2004 Shinobu Asagoe, JPN
2007 Agnes Szavay, HUN
2009 Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL [WC] - won title
2009 Melanie Oudin, USA
2009 Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
2010 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
2013 Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2014 Belinda Bencic, SUI
2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
2015 Roberta Vinci, ITA
TO PLAY in 4th Rd.: Konta/GBR(Q),Lepchenko/USA,Mladenovic/FRA

AO 2nd Rd. - Azarenka d. Wozniacki
AO Final - S.Williams d. Sharapova
RG 3rd Rd. - S.Williams d. Azarenka
WI 4th Rd. - S.Williams d. V.Williams
WI QF - S.Williams d. Azarenka
WI SF - S.Williams d. Sharapova
US QF - Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams

AO Q1 - Kristina Kucova d. Chan Yung-Jan
AO 3rd Rd. - Venus Williams d. Aga Radwanska
RG Q2 - Chan Yung-Jan d. Ula Radwanska
WI 4th Rd. - Serena Williams d. Venus Williams
US QF - Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams

[28-13 in slam QF]
2000 U.S. Open - Lindsay Davenport
2001 Australian Open - Martina Hingis
2001 Roland Garros - Jennifer Capriati
2001 Wimbledon - Jennifer Capriati
2004 Roland Garros - Jennifer Capriati
2004 U.S. Open - Jennifer Capriati
2007 Roland Garros - Justine Henin
2007 Wimbledon - Justine Henin
2007 U.S. Open - Justine Henin
2008 Australian Open - Jelena Jankovic
2009 Roland Garros - Svetlana Kuznetsova
2010 Roland Garros - Samantha Stosur
2013 Australian Open - Sloane Stephens

[Serena leads 8-5 in slams; 25-11 overall]
1998 Australian Open 2nd - Venus 7-6(4),6-1
2000 Wimbledon SF - Venus 6-2,7-6(3)
2001 U.S. Open Final - Venus 6-2,6-4
2002 Roland Garros Final - Serena 7-5,6-3
2002 Wimbledon Final - Serena 7-6(4),6-3
2002 U.S. Open Final - Serena 6-3,6-4
2003 Australian Open Final - Serena 7-6(4),3-6,6-4
2003 Wimbledon Final - Serena 4-6,6-4,6-2
2005 U.S. Open 4th - Venus 7-6(5),6-2
2008 Wimbledon Final - Venus 7-5,6-4
2008 U.S. Open QF - Serena 7-6(6),7-6(7)
2009 Wimbledon Final - Serena 7-6(3),6-2
2015 Wimbledon 4th - Serena 6-4,6-3
2015 U.S. Open QF - ??

JAN: Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
FEB: Kristina Schmiedlova, SVK
MAR: Sonya Kenin, USA
1Q: Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
APR/MAY: Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN
MAY/JUN: Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
RG: Paula Badosa, ESP
2Q Clay Court: Marketa Vondrousova, CZE & Paula Badosa, ESP
JUN: Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
2Q Grass Court/WI: Sofya Zhuk, RUS
JUL/AUG: Russian Fed Cup 14s
AUG: Sonya Kenin, USA
[2015 Weekly JUNIOR STAR Wins]
5...Sonya Kenin, USA
5...Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
4...Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN
3...Bianca Andreescu, CAN
3...Paula Badosa, ESP
3...Aliona Bolsova, ESP
3...Dalma Galfi, HUN
3...Miriam Kolodziejova/Marketa Vondrousova, CZE/CZE
3...Vera Lapko, BLR
3...Claire Liu, USA
3...Katie Swan, GBR
3...Tamara Zidansek, SLO
2...Usue Arconada, USA
2...Kimberly Birrell, AUS
2...Hurricane Tyra Black, USA
2...Anna Blinkova, RUS
2...Aliona Bolsova/Priscilla Hon, ESP/AUS
2...Katharina Hobgarski, GER
2...Priscilla Hon, AUS
2...Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
2...Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
2...Olesya Pervushina, RUS
2...Manca Pislak, SLO
2...Kristina Schmiedlova, SVK
2...Jil Teichmann, SUI
2...Olivia Tjandramulia, AUS
2...Sara Tomic, AUS
2...Xu Shilin, CHN

TOP QUALIFIER: (WC) Jessica Pegula/USA
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #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 Azarenka d. #11 Kerber 7-5/2-6/6-4
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION MATCH: Nominee: 2nd Rd. - Cetkovska/CZE d. #4 Wozniacki/DEN 6-4/5-7/7-6(1) (saved 4 MP; ended 12:12 a.m. 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 ("xx"): Nominees: Mladenovic, Kontaveit, Keys
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Nominees: Mladenovic, Konta, Stosur, Vinci
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: In 4th Rd.: Konta/GBR, Kontaveit/EST(L)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/USA (3rd Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: In 4th Rd.: Keys, Lepchenko, S.Williams(W), V.Williams(W)
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: Azarenka, Vinci, V.Williams
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): Nominee: Vinci, V.Williams, Raymond, Stosur, Pennetta
BROADWAY-BOUND: Nominee: Bouchard, Cetkovska, Raymond (farewell tour)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Nominees: Kvitova, Cetkovska, S.Williams

All for Day 7. More tomorrow.


Blogger Eric said...

Azarenka's arm tape makes it look like she's wearing floaties...


Mon Sep 07, 11:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

After the match, she said she had blisters from her outfit rubbing against her arms. But before the match it was reported that she had a "rash" of some kind.

So take your pick. ;)

Mon Sep 07, 04:06:00 PM EDT  

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