Thursday, July 07, 2016

W.11- Time for an Encore

Thursday was women's singles semifinal day at Wimbledon, and for the sixth time ever at the AELTC (as many times as at the other three slams -- one, one and four -- combined) the schedule was filled to the brim with Williams Sisters. But, in the end, only one would be left standing with their Ladies singles title hopes intact.

First up on Centre Court was six-time SW19 champ Serena.

As this Wimbledon has moved along, especially since Christina McHale led her by a break at 2-0 in the 3rd set in the 2nd Round, it hasn't been difficult to see Serena Williams' game (and resulting confidence) increase as each round has passed. Williams ended that match with McHale with a very Serena-esque back-to-back-to-back aces. She's spent no time looking over her shoulder since then, even when given a tight match from Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the QF (when she had a somewhat slow start and could carve out just two BP on the day), keeping her eyes on the chance for an historical weekend and finally ending the quest to catch Steffi Graf on the Open era slam list with title #22 (of course, once that moment becomes reality -- whether here or elsewhere -- Aussie Margaret Court's top spot on the all-time slam win ledger with 24 will then simply replace that of the German as the next "target"... but that's for later).

Against Russian Elena Vesnina, a first-time slam semifinalist, Williams was dialed in from the beginning. She reached BP in the opening game of the match, converting with the Hordette's forehand error. A game later, Serena fired her first ace to take a 40/love lead, then backed up the break with a big serve down the "T" that Vesnina couldn't get back. Vesnina aced Williams on the first BP of game #3, but Williams' crosscourt forehand return winner gave her another chance, which she converted when the Russian netted a backhand off Serena's deep forehand return of a 2nd serve down the middle. Williams led 3-0, with a double break, and for all intents and purposes it was all over.

Fighting against an overwhelming Williams tide, Vesnina managed to hold for 4-1 when Serena missed on a lob, slowly settling into the match. But it was to no avail. Even a second consecutive hold for 5-2 only delayed the inevitable, as Williams held at love (w/ an ace, of course) to take a 6-2 set in twenty-eight minutes. The set-ending ace was her seventh, and gave her 15 winners to just 5 unforced errors. She faced zero BP. Experience tells us that Williams will never lose any match while putting up those sort of numbers, so...

As far as the specifics go, the 2nd set slipped away even faster for the Russian. Williams broke in the opening game, and never let up. She took the set at love in twenty minutes, ending things with a forehand volley to finish off a set in which she never lost a point on serve. For the set, she won 24 of 29 points overall, and for the match claimed 28 of 31 of her points on serve. Her 11 aces were accompanied by zero DF, and she never faced a BP nor for a fleeting moment allowed even a hint of doubt to creep in about the ultimate result of this match.

Even Vesnina knew it. "I felt like I had no chance today, first of all. I felt like Serena was playing really good. She was in a great mood, and serve was working really well for her. She had a really high percentage of the first serves. She was placing it amazingly. I couldn't say that I was a bit fast with my legs today. I would prefer to be a little bit faster, you know, to defend a bit better. But she was just better all over the court." Asked what the whole Serena experience felt like on this day, Vesnina said, "It felt like..., and then blew on her fingertips as if blowing a kiss in the air.

The Russian smiled when she greeted Serena at the net, likely knowing that this wasn't even going to be the last time she'd meet her in a similar "Congratulations, Serena" role on Day 11 alone. She and doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova were scheduled to face both Venus AND Serena later in the day. At this point in the day, Serena said, "See you later."

I'm sure she said it with an innocent smile, but still.

For Williams, in her sixth final in the last eight slams (and third straight in '16, one off from becoming the first to play for all four major titles in a season since soon-to-be-Hall of Famer Justine Henin in 2006), the win provides her with a chance to erase a rare "0" when it comes to her tennis success, even if it IS only a short-term shut-out. And in 0-2 in slam final this season, and 0-for-3 in titles at the last three majors. And don't think Serena isn't hyper-aware of it, either. Immediately after this match, it was in the front of her mind and on the tip of the tongue. "It's never easy out there. Every point you have to fight for," adding, "It's weird. I can't believe I'm in the final again. Obviously I'm oh-for-two (in '16 slam finals), so... determined to get one."

She knew she would next go up against a familiar face in the final on Saturday, either her five-time SW19-winning big sister Venus (which would assure the name of a Williams being on the trophy, the "ultimate goal," noted Serena), or Angelique Kerber, the woman who handed her a rare loss in a slam singles final just five and a half months ago in Melbourne.

Venus has arguably been THE story of this Wimbledon, at 36 becoming the oldest to reach a Wimbledon semifinal in twenty-two years. So Kerber, yet to drop a set at this tournament, was still playing "second fiddle" heading into this second semifinal match of the day. At least for about seventy-two minutes, though, that changed.

As was the case in the German's QF match vs. Simona Halep, the opening set was nearly overwhelmed with breaks of serve. The first five games of the match all had the same result until Kerber finally held for 4-2. With Williams seeming a big sluggish at the end of a long fortnight at the AELTC, her game wasn't quite as sharp as it has been throughout much of this Wimbledon. Kerber broke her for a third straight time for 5-2 and served for the set. Looking to lift her game in the nick of time, Venus led love/30 in game #8, but missed on a long volley that would have given her triple BP. But a big return of a second serve forced a Kerber backhand error and Williams got her BP chance. On her second try, Venus saw Kerber's wide backhand deliver the break. Williams finally held serve for the first time in game #9, and the German tried once more to serve out the 1st set. This time she didn't falter. She had two SP when Williams netted forehand up the line shot. Venus saved the first with a big return and put away shot, but her rally-ending forehand error gave Kerber a 6-4 set victory, her eleventh set win in eleven sets at this Wimbledon.

Kerber opened the 2nd with another break of serve, at one point firing a crosscourt forehand passing shot that a stretching Venus volley couldn't get back in a moment that inadvertantly brought to mind all the successful moments under similar situations Williams had on this same Centre Court lawn over the years, when her large wingspan and net coverage visually (and viscerally) embodied her early-career Wimbledon success as much as her court-eating long strides made it appear as if there were no balls that she couldn't chase down.

It was a great memory to imagine in the mind's eye, but it wasn't a realistic fit for this day.

Kerber held at love for 3-1 and held three BP for a larger lead a game later. Venus held there with a half-volley drop shot and again for 3-4 as she slowly began to finally rediscover the late-career game that has returned her to the Top 10 this season and to her first SW19 semifinal since her roaring twenties. Williams was hanging on, hoping for Kerber's nerves to alter the course of the match. And, for a bit, it appeared as if she may be in luck. The German double-faulted three times in two service games in games #6 and #8, but she managed to hold both times and led 5-3. Venus held at love for 5-4, looking close to being ready for one final stand at this Wimbledon. But was it already too late?

As Kerber prepared to serve for the match at 5-4, despite having won the 1st and now nearly the 2nd set, only held a thin 59-57 lead in total points heading into game #10. But she wasn't about to blink with her eyes so close to seeing Centre Court in person on the final weekend. She took a 40/15 lead. On what would be the final -- and longest -- point of the match, a wonderful crosscourt rally put the groundstrokes of both women on display at the last possible moment. Finally, Kerber, from at least ten feet behind the baseline, fired a short angle forehand winner out of the reach of Venus to suddenly take MP and close out a 6-4/6-4 victory. It gave a her a final 63-58 edge in total points.

"It's just amazing. To beat Venus in the semis is always really tough, she's a champion and has won so many times here. That's why I'm really happy with my game. I was trying to just go for everything, moving really well and the last point was a amazing," said a beaming Kerber. "I knew she was playing really well. I was trying to go for it and it worked, just a really good feeling. Right now I have a lot of experience from my last few years on tour. I am playing the best tennis and have a great team around me."

Thus, while admiration for Venus' efforts (and, technically, her Wimbledon isn't OVER, either) will linger, Kerber now steps back onto the slam centerstage, facing off with Serena in a second major final in 2016. The last time two players met in two such finals in a single season was 2006, when Henin and Amelie Mauresmo played for, hmmm, the Australian and Wimbledon titles. Mauresmo won both, and now Kerber will try to match the feat. Of course, once again she'll be attempting to pull a fast one on history, denying Serena #22 once more while also seeking to become the first to take out BOTH Williams Sisters in a single slam since 2009 (Clijsters '09 U.S.), and the first time at ANY event since 2010 (Jankovic '10 Rome). The only player to EVER defeat Serena in two slam finals? Venus, eight and fifteen years ago. The last person not named Serena to win as many as two slam titles in the same season? Once again, Henin, in 2007.

That's a lot of history to turn over on its head. For the second time in six months.

If Serena, still the defending SW19 champ, were to lose in her third straight slam final (two was already a new career experience for her), it'd mark the first time in over four years (when she lost to Virginie Razzano in the 1st Round in Paris in '12, an upset that precipitated the changes that have led to her recent heights) that she wasn't the reigning champ at at least one slam at any given time. Even with the loss in Melbourne, Williams is 5-2 in her career head-to-head vs. Kerber, but the German KNOWS she can win now. And she's yet to learn that she can even lose a set (12/12) at this Wimbledon.

But sometimes the overlooked "back-up singer" emerges from the shadows to become a true star. Not necessarily by removing the person standing at the front of the stage by pushing them over the side and into the darkness, but by proving themselves worthy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder and belting out the tunes at the top of BOTH their lungs. Once again, world #4-seeded Kerber is assured of rising to #2 in the rankings after this final, behind only you-know-who, but it'll take a win to TRULY share the spotlight without Melbourne being viewed by some as having been a one-night-only performance Down Under.

Could it possibly happen again? At Wimbledon?

If so, the tennis world as we've known it for most of the past two decades may be changed forever.

=DAY 11 NOTES= women's doubles, both of the top two seeded pairs were knocked out of the tournament on Day 11.

#1 seeds and defending champs Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza were taken down in straights by Timea Babos & Yaroslava Shvedova. The Hungarian/Kazakh duo got an early break in both sets, winning the 1st 6-2 and then having to battle a bit to put out the top-ranked team in the world a set later. Shvedova served for the QF match up 5-2, but failed to secure the hold. Two games later, the big-serving Babos did the honors, winning at love to advance 6-2/6-4. The #5 seeds will face #10 Atawo/Spears in the semis.

#2-seeded Roland Garros champs Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic lost in straights, as well, but it was all more complicated vs. Julia Goerges and, wouldn't you know it, a Pliskova! Karolina, to be more specific, bucking the family trend (at least since her and Kristyna's junior years) and still lurking around the grounds in the latter stages of week two at a slam. Goerges served down 5-6 in the 1st set, saving a SP and forcing a tie-break. There the French pair went up 3-1, only to see the German/Czech duo get back to 3-3 in short order. A Garcia backhand volley into the open court gave the team a second SP at 6-5, but on the very next point she crouched for a volley smash of a low ball and, despite just being a few feet from the net and with her racket appropriately out in front of her, somehow didn't get the shot over. A third and fourth SP went by the wayside, as well, as did a Goerges/Pliskova SP at 9-8. Finally, Goerges/Pliskova did put away SP #2 for an 11-9 TB win. They then took a 5-1 lead in the 2nd, and held a MP at 5-2 on the Pastries' serve only to see the French duo get the hold. With Goerges serving up 30/love, Mladenovic failed to get back a low ball and MP #2 arrived. Pliskova (!!), acting as if she's playing Fed Cup deciding doubles, put it away with a volley winner up the middle off a service return to get the 7-6(9)/6-3 victory.

They'll next face the Williams Sisters, who upped their career Wimbledon record to 42-2 with a win over Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina (who'll be seeing Serena in her sleep tonight... though she won't be the first opponent to experience that phenomenon, I'm sure) in a 7-6(1)/4-6/6-2 match. The Sisters last won a slam WD title, their 13th, at SW19 in 2012. They've won five Wimbledon titles. Only Navratilova/Shriver (20) and G.Fernandez/Zvereva (14) have more Open era slam championships as a pair than Venus & Serena.

...later in the day, Shvedova advanced with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi to become the only woman to reach the semis in both WD and MX. The pair defeated Katarina Srebotnik & Marcin Matkowski in the QF. Shvedova's volley gave the duo a MP in the 3rd set, and she followed up with a raging return shot that Matkowski couldn't control with a volley, sending the ball well out to end the match.

At the end of Day 11, the final MX quarterfinal spot was finally filled as Heather Watson & Henri Kontinen faced off in their first match of the tournament (they had TWO previous walkovers) with Hingis & Leander Paes, fresh off their Career Duo Slam-winning title at Roland Garros and seeking to defend their '15 Wimbledon crown (they've won four of the last six majors). Watson & Kontinen won in three sets, handing Hingis her second loss of the day and ending her four-slam streak of winning at least one major title (the Swiss Miss won three WD and three MX titles over the last four slams).

...okay, let's try this once more.

Once again, NextGen Hordettes #1 Olesya Pervushina and #4 Anastasia Potapova have reached the singles semifinals of a slam. They did so in Pairs, as well, only to BOTH fall at that stage. Today, Pervushina blitzed #8 Sonya Kenin 6-0/6-0 in forty-eight minutes, while Potapova took out another U.S. player, #9 Usue Arconada, 3 & 2 in :56. A third member of the four Bannerettes in the QF fell, as well, as unseeded Claire Liu (who'd already knocked out the #5 and #4 girls seeds) fell to #7-seeded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. One U.S. junior did advance, though, as #5 Kayla Day won when British wild card Gabriella Taylor retired at 1-1 in the 2nd set.

...the inaugural day of Wimbledon wheelchair singles action got underway on Day 11 with all four QF matches taking place one right after the other on Court 16. So, a seat in the stands there would rightly qualify as having had a courtside view of history.

As it turned out, the opening match was the most competitive, as two-time slam champ and #2 seed Yui Kamiji faced off with fellow two-time winner Aniek Van Koot. In the 26th main draw face-off of their careers, and seventh in a grand slam, Van Koot dropped the 1st set 6-2, but quickly rebounded to take a 3-0 lead in the 2nd. She served at 5-4, only to be broken after failing to put away three GP. The Dutch woman then polished off eight of the next nine points to win 7-5 and force a 3rd set. The final set began with five straight breaks, but Van Koot was the first to hold for 4-2. She then broke Kamiji and served for the match at 5-2. Again, she was broken. She got another chance at 5-4, holding at 15 with a forehand to the corner to put away the 2:08 match by a 2-6/7-5/6-4 score. While this was an "upset," per se, Van Koot is now 14-12 vs. the Japanese former #1, with a 4-3 edge in slams.

Kamiji's loss ended any hope of a SF match between best friends and doubles partner Jordanne Whiley (they've won seven slams as a duo, and Kamiji has won 8 of 10 slam doubles titles overall). Kamiji, again playing doubles with the Brit at this event, is still in line for a possible Doubles Grand Slam (and even the first true Golden Slam w/ wins in Rio and NYC, as well), as she won the WD in Melbourne with Marjolein Buis and in Paris with Whiley. Kamiji & Whiley won the Grand Slam in 2014. The #2 seeds, they could face off with #1-seeded Griffioen/Van Koot in the final. The Dutch pair won a Grand Slam of their own in '13 and are looking to play in their fifteenth consecutive slam final this weekend (they've gone 6-8).

The all-Brit match-up of the nation's top two WC players, '15 U.S. Open champ Whiley and Lucy Shuker (the two played doubles together at the AO, in lieu of their teaming at the Paralympics in Rio), wasn't nearly as close. Whiley mostly breezed through the action, until she served for the match up 6-1/5-1. She finally got the job done, but it took five deuce points and four MP before her backhand into the corner was not returned. She out-hit Shuker 29-8 in winners and is now 14-7 in their career head-to-head.

#1-seed Jiske Griffioen, who has followed up countrywoman's Esther Vergeer's domination of the sport with the most slam wins (3) of any woman since the future Hall of Famer's retirement after the 2012 season, faced off with two-time slam winner (though both wins were a few years ago, at the '13 RG and '14 AO) Sabine Ellerbrock, at 40 easily the most senior player in the competition. Griffioen pulled out a 6-4/6-4 victory, overcoming the very impatient German (in three of the final four changeovers, she didn't even hang out in the designated area, choosing instead to roll back and forth behind the baseline, even bouncing the ball around with her racket while preparing for a service game while her calm Dutch opponent chose to hydrate next to the umpire's chair before game #8 while leading 6-4/5-2). There was a brief moment when it looked as if Ellerbrock might yet force a 3rd set when she broke Griffioen when she served for the match at 5-3, but she failed to back it up a game later, hitting her tenth DF of the day on Griffioen's second MP. In a very Sharapova-vs.-Serena sort of stat, Ellerbrock is now 2-28 vs. Griffioen in her career.

In the final match, unexpected RG champ Marjolein Buis, also Dutch, took out British qualifier Louise Hunt in a 6-2/6-0 match that lasted forty-eight minutes. Buis led 28-9 in winners, and is now 5-0 in their head-to-head. Of note, Hunt was the more powerful player (especially w/ her backhand), but her maneuverability didn't match that of Buis, who sports the most awkward-looking serve of the eight woman, as she is in such a hurry to get her off-hand/toss hand back on the wheel of her chair that her toss sometimes looks rushed and ill-conceived, resulting in quite a few re-sets of her service sequence in this match.

The singles semifinals will be second up on both Court 16 and 17 tomorrow, with the doubles semis coming up there soon afterward.


Of course, this is coming on the heels of an article highlighted yesterday by Google's tennis filters about the coming "extinction" of the women's game because of the prominance of the near-the-end-of-her-career Serena and other veteran players because of the "lack of talent that's coming into the women's game." You know, the usual misinformed tripe that not only highlights the laziness of the otherwise-seemingly-good writer, who manages to gloss over 2016's TWO first time slam champs by using Kerber's winning of her first slam at 28 as essentially a demerit for the tour rather than the mark of sustainability that it is, and disregards the win at RG of 22-year old Garbine Muguruza -- or "Muruguza," apparently -- because she lost early at Wimbledon as well as misinterpreting Williams' staying power and late-career improvements to her game to the inadequacies of the rest of the field rather than attributing it to the abilities of Serena herself (which is, as usual, the sort of casually insulting premise that always pervades such discussions) while also ignoring the fact that the argument could be made far more easily about the continuing merit of the men's side of the game considering four now 30+ year old (or nearly so) men have decimated the field for the past thirteen years and won 41 of 45 slams dating back to 2005 (and two of those four "non-wins" were claimed by now 31-year old Stan Wawrinka, with the others having come seven years ago by Juan Martin del Potro and two years ago by Marin Cilic, who couldn't hold a 2-0 set lead or convert three MP vs. a 35-year old Roger Federer this week) while the lack of additional contenders for slam titles from the following generation have been far, far more disappointing than in the women's game. I can't imagine the mental pretzel the writer would have to twist himself up into (actually, I didn't even even check to see if it's a he... but come now, I think we know) if Berdych this weekend were to win HIS first slam title at age 30. Somehow, I suspect the take would be something about the perseverance of the Czech, as it should be. But we know the same allowance would not be made to Kerber if she were to win a SECOND slam.

And, of course, the now-lost possibility of another Williams/Williams final means there will be no talk of the remarkable feat that that would have been... nor what surely would have been the knock from some corners that a slam final between 36 and 34-year olds wouldn't be so much a celebration of all that is right with the Sisters, but what is wrong with women's tennis.

Honestly, this B.S. has been tiresome for quite a while. But it's been especially asinine this year for all sorts of reasons.

The fact is that both tours are currently seeing the birth of what might be a new generation of stars just now coming into their own, or maybe it will take an additional 3-5 years for those players to truly hit their PEAK. But with careers lasting longer the need for players to win big as teens or from age 20-23 before they're "past their prime" isn't as important as it used to be when careers fizzled out at age 27-28 two decades ago. There's a new paradigm in the game now, with longer careers producing players who can challenge for slams near or past age 30, often reaching their peak (see Djokovic) at an age when past generations saw players in the thick of their inevitable decline, if not already past it. The fields on both tours will be put to a test of their collective mettle as the likes of Serena, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray transition from dominant to lesser roles or leave the game entirely. It will be fascinating to watch... though far easier to whine and complain about by many whose default position is to find fault, however small, and harp on that, no matter how out of context and/or misleading it may be. And it's not just a trend in the discussion of sports, either, as we know... it fills the headlines of the "world news" section of the website and/or newspaper and on the trending-on-Twitter list, as well.

I won't even give a link to that aforementioned article because, seriously, I don't think it deserves it. But you can seek it out if you want.

LIKE ON DAY 11: Serena being Serena...

REPORTER: "Can I touch on the subject of equal prize money. Do the women deserve equal prize money? I wonder what your thoughts were."

SERENA: "Yeah, I think we deserve equal prize money. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you happen to write a short article, you think you don't deserve equal pay as your beautiful colleague behind you?"

LIKE ON DAY 11: Take it away, Hannah...



THE REASONED REACTION: "Athletes' bodies are stronger, and better training techniques now allow them to play longer at a high level, giving them the opportunity to improve and tweak their games deeper into their careers at a time when their experience and intelligence are additional weapons in their arsenal."

THE A-HOLE REACTION: "That's because none of the players are any good!"

THE A-HOLE REACTION (when pressed): "Well, all right. I guess Serena is pretty good."

THE A-HOLE REACTION (after pause): "But she's like a man, so it doesn't really count."

The continued devolution of humanity personified.

LIKE ON DAY 11: Well, all right then...

LIKE ON DAY 11: It's just that time of the year...

...and, finally, these GIFs have been one of the greatest little things of this Wimbledon. Here's the latest...

The WTA should take this idea and run with it on the tour Twitter feed, commemorating all the wonderfully big moments of the season, but in bite-sized form.

#1 Serena Williams/USA vs. #4 Angelique Kerber/GER

#5 Babos/Shvedova (HUN/KAZ) vs. #10 Atawo/Spears (USA/USA)
Williams/Williams (USA/USA) vs. #8 Goerges/Ka.Pliskova (GER/CZE)

#14 Shvedova/Qureshi (KAZ/PAK) def. #11 Srebotnik/Matkowski (SLO/POL)
#15 Groenefeld/Farah (GER/COL) def. #10 Klepac/Peya (SLO/AUT)
Ostapenko/Marach (LAT/AUT) vs. Duque/Cabal (COL/COL)
Kudryavtseva/Lipsky (RUS/USA) vs. Watson/Kontinen (GBR/FIN)

#1 Olesya Pervushina/RUS vs. #7 Dayana Yastremska/UKR
#4 Anastasia Potapova/RUS vs. #5 Kayla Day/USA

#1 Pervushina/Potapova (RUS/RUS) vs. Christofi/Kankova (GRE/CZE)
#4 Arconada/Liu (USA/USA) vs. #5 Kenin/Kilnarova (USA/CZE)
Helgo/Minca (NOR/ROU) vs. #3 Juvan/Swiatek (SLO/POL)
Bolkvadze/McNally (GEO/USA) vs. #2 Anisimova/Sanford (USA/USA)

#1 Jiske Griffioen/NED vs. Marjolein Buis/NED
Jordanne Whiley/GBR vs. Aniek Van Koot/NED

#1 Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR) vs. Buis/Hunt (NED/GBR)
Ellerbrock/Shuker (GER/GBR) vs. #2 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED)

8...Venus Williams (5-3)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Maria Sharapova (1-1)
1...Genie Bouchard (0-1)
1...Sabine Lisicki (0-1)
1...Garbine Muguruza (0-1)
1...Agnieszka Radwanska (0-1)
ALSO: Hingis (1-0), Zvonareva (0-1)

34 - Chris Evert (18-16), 1973–1988
32 - Martina Navratilova (18-14), 1975–1994
31 - Steffi Graf (22-9), 1986–1999
28 - SERENA WILLIAMS (21-6), 1999–2016
18 - Evonne Goolagong (7-11), 1971–1980
14 - Venus Williams (7-7), 1997–2009
13 - Monica Seles, (9-4), 1990–1998

14...Venus Williams (7-7)
10..Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Garbine Muguruza (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
2...Samantha Stosur (1-1)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (0-2)
ALSO: Zvonareva (0-2), Hingis (5-7)

2001 U.S. Open - Venus Williams
2004 Wimbledon - Maria Sharapova
2008 Wimbledon - Venus Williams
2011 U.S. Open - Samantha Stosur
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber
2016 Roland Garros - Garbine Muguruza

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #5 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #4 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #7 Tamira Paszek/AUT d. Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 6-3/5-7/10-9 ret. (Paszek MP in 2nd, ankle injury; Paszek up 5-3 3rd; Hlavackova ret. w/ cramps, collapses onto back after match)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. #3 Aga Radwanska/POL d. Ana Konjuh/CRO 6-2/4-6/9-7 (3 MP, one on net cord; Konjuh rolled ankle stepping on ball)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #19 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK d. #3 Aga Radwanska/POL (6-3/5-7/9-7; 3:00; Radwanska MP, Cibulkova served for match three times, on MP #3)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Nominee: Girls 3rd Rd. - C.Liu d. #3 A.Anisimova 4-6/6-2/13-11
FIRST WINNER: #29 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA in :51)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: China (1-4 1st Rd.; only win by LL Duan Yingying)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Jana Cepelova/SVK, Marina Erakovic/NZL, Julia Boserup/USA (all 3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Tara Moore/GBR and Evgeniya Rodina/RUS (both 2nd Rd.)
LAST BRIT/CRUMPET STANDING: Johanna Konta/GBR and Tara Moore/GBR (both 2nd Rd.)
IT ("WC First"): winner will be the first WC singles champ at SW19
COMEBACK: Nominees: Y.Shvedova, S.Williams/V.Williams
CRASH & BURN: #2 Garbine Muguruza/ESP (reigning RG champ and '15 Wimbledon finalist; lost 1st Rd. in under an hour to qualifier Cepelova/SVK)
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): #19 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK & #3 Aga Radwanksa/POL (Cibulkova saved MP and won 9-7 3rd vs. Radwanska in 4th Rd.; Radwanska won 2nd Rd. vs. Konjuh, saving 3 MP, one on a net cord; Konjuh turned ankle stepping on a ball in game #15 of 3rd set, Radwanska won 9-7)
THE RADWANSKA DAY REMEMBRANCE AWARD (June 26 official/Day 3 observed): 74 s/d matches are scheduled: due to rain, 41 are cancelled, 15 suspended and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident, while her '16 RG conqueror Tsvetana Pironkova loses in previously unscheduled C.C. match.
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Y.Shvedova, Ka.Pliskova, H.Watson, J.Ostapenko
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Nominees: K.Day/USA, Junior Bannerettes (4 in QF), Junior Hordettes (2 in SF), D.Zavatska/UKR

All for Day 11. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Day- 9- The amount of times Alexandra Stevenson retired from a match in her first 3 years. If you are wondering why I am posting about her now, she was actually a bit piece regarding Bencic and her retirements. It is only fate that Williams' beatdown of Vesnina(48 min) is the quickest since Davenport beat Stevenson in 47 back in 1999.

Stevenson is the cautionairy tale for Bencic as she went from 1, then 2, then 6 ret in her first 3 full seasons. She also had 3 seasons where she retired 7 times(07, 09, 13) with the latter in only 39 matches. Strangest is the Lawrenceville event in which she retired in the final round of qualies, then got in as lucky loser----and retired again.

Thankfully, Bencic as more in common with Azarenka in this. If you take both of their first 3 years on tour, 14-16 for Bencic, 06-08 for Azarenka, they both have similar numbers 0/59 ,2/63, 4/30 for Bencic & 1/45 2/52 ,4/60 for Azarenka.

At the end of the third year, Both Bencic and Azarenka were or are 19, while Stevenson was already 21. Stevenson's ranking had already dropped to 78, while Azarenka's year end ranking was 15, about where Bencic is now. So don't overreact to the retirements.

Thu Jul 07, 06:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

colt, your contributions are gold!

Thu Jul 07, 09:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

What Diane said, Colt. ;)

Of note, Kerber's win today adds her to the list of players (w/ Makarova & Stephens) with slam wins over both Serena and Venus who have never reached the #1 ranking. As of now, at least. ;)

Thu Jul 07, 10:33:00 PM EDT  

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