Tuesday, August 30, 2016

US.2 - It's Gotta Be the Shortz!

Please, Simona... don't hurt 'em!

Oops. Sorry, Kirsten. Too late.

Unlike some players who chose to put their fans and supporters through the proverbial tennis wringer on Day 1, Simona Halep did nothing of the sort on Day 2 against Belgian Waffle Kirsten Flipkens. Well, at least not until very, very end.

The Romanian came into this U.S. Open with tires warm and her engine revved today, hitting Flipkens right where it hurt most, when she wasn't looking, and taking the opening set at love on Arthur Ashe Stadium court. She even raced to a 5-0 lead in the 2nd. But, being the benevolent sort (that's my story and I'm stickin' to it), she chose to give her opponent at least a tiny snack to "feast" on in the closing minutes. Serving for the match, on match point, Halep double-faulted pretty much out of nowhere.

A few moments later, her serve was broken, then Flipkens held to make it 5-2.

Was it the lure of The Cliffs that proved too strong? Ummm, I'll go with no (that's my story and I'm stickin' to it). In game #14, on her second MP of the day, Halep put things away to close out a 6-0/6-2 win in fifty-nine minutes (according to the official match stats, anyway, as the on-court clock had just rolled over to 1:00 a few seconds before it was all over).

One down. (Insert appropriate number here) more to go.

Meanwhile, on another front at the we-want-everyone-to-look-alike-so-no-one-has-to-actually-learn-anyone's-face-or-name Slam, at least Simona didn't adhere to the general dress code today.

She wore shorts!

And no one even had to beg for such a momentous occasion to take place, either. Ah, it brought back memories of Vika... who was actually on the court herself a little today (see below).

Ah, but they weren't just your ordinary shorts -- they were "sorta-mesh" with multiple colors underneath. So, let's go with SimonaShortz!

Still all-in.

...meanwhile, Ana Ivanovic dropped in out of the sky like an alien visiting a strange land on Tuesday. At first, things seemed all right, and then all holy hell broke loose. Before you knew it, E.T. AnaIvo was D.O.A. and Elliott Serbia was bawling his its eyes out.

Ivanovic was up an early break on Denisa Allertova, and soon served for the 1st set at 5-4. And 6-5. She held a set point, too. Naturally, she lost the set in a tie-break with some horrendous "attempts" at professional tennis shots, then went away pretty quickly in the 2nd in a 7-6(4)/6-1 loss. You know, sort of the never-ending video loop of her career since 2008.

I suppose AnaIvo fans should savor that seed number listed next to her name for this Open, since it wouldn't be a shock if it's the last time we'll ever see that sort of thing in a grand slam. Ivanovic came in at #31 in the world, while Allertova is #89. But it'll be interesting to see how close they may be in the rankings at the end of the season. AnaIvo hasn't finished a season lower than #22 since 2004, but she'll have to really want it to avoid an even steeper fall between now and November.

Does anyone really think she does?

So, considering her history, does this mean we should expect an AnaIvo announcement involving the "r"-word within the next six months?

I'm just sayin'.

Yep, I'm still holding to the notion that that prediction I made at the start of the 2015 season that the Serb would reach her first slam semifinal in seven years (she did it, in Paris, about six months later) is the best and will always be the best pick ever made in this space... because there was no earthly reason to believe she'd REALLY do it. And once she did, she seems to have come to the internal realization that she just didn't really care about tennis anymore, if she ever did in the first place.

Personally, I wouldn't even bother with phoning home on this one.

...meanwhile, #20-seeded RG semifinalist (and Dutch tennis queen) Kiki Bertens fell on Day 2 to the OTHER Ana. Konjuh, that is. Bertens' countrywoman, qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, whose '16 season has consisted of great Fed Cup and ITF play but little as far as good results on the WTA tour, pulled the upset over an injured Heather Watson (stomach). Hogenkamp, coming off a $25K challenger title run and three qualifying wins has now strung together eight straight singles victories.

Yeah, something like that.

...Timea Babos slipped a piece of paper with her name scribbled onto it into the For Your Consideration for Zombie Queen suggestion box today, coming back from 4-0 down in the 3rd set to steal a victory from the grasp of Austrian qualifier Barbara Haas, 5-7/6-3/7-5 in 2:41.

It's the Hungarian's first MD win at the U.S. Open.

...here's where we play the sad Backspin music.

The Bracelet is no more. Not sure what happened with her today, but she broke Nicole Gibbs to even the 1st set at 1-1... then didn't win another game in the match. On the bright side, though, good for Gibbsy.

...elswhere, in a match filled with double-faults and unforced errors, Samantha Stosur took out Camila Giorgi in three sets, 7-5/6-7(4)/6-1. Daria Kasatkina's post-Rio hangover wasn't overcome, as a year after reaching the 3rd Round in her Open debut (as a LL) she fell in three to Wang Qiang (China is really doing well at this slam), 6-4/4-6/6-2. Speaking of Rio (and a Dasha), few athletes had as much fun there (or on the court with the Russian) as Dasha Gavrilova. Not so much today, though. She lost, too, falling 6-4/6-4 vs. Lucie Safarova.

But, have no fear (lower case "F"), The Dashas are still scheduled for doubles.

And in perhaps a metaphor for what will now happen to the athletics infrastructure in Rio in the post-Olympics era, Brazilian Teliana Pereira was shipped out of this slam in a love & love thrashing by Carla Suarez-Navarro.

(Ah, but Ryan Lochte will be on "Dancing with the Stars," so who gets the "last laugh?" Are we really surprised? Don't worry about saying anything -- the "correct" answer was sort of implied.)

Meanwhile, what the hell is this?

...Genie Bouchard came into this U.S. Open still involved in that lawsuit against the USTA over the concussion that resulted from a fall on a wet floor in a poorly-lit locker room as last year's tournament. Now, it takes quite a bit of effort to make the Canadian a "sympathetic" figure, considering some of her own actions and comments in the past, but, not surprisingly, the USTA has managed to do it with relative ease by never missing the opportunity to insinuate that Bouchard was the one at fault in the accident, as well as make sideways (or full-on) comments that imply that, considering her results on the court the past year or more, she should be more focused on her tennis than this "silly" (my word, trying to read the USTA's mind -- as hazardous as that may be) legal battle.

Well, today will only provide more fuel for that fire, as Bouchard lost 6-3/3-6/6-2 to talent young Czech Maiden Katerina Siniakova. It's Siniakova's first career MD win at the Open, and Bouchard's worst result in four NYC visits (she was 7-2, with back-to-back Round of 16 results).

...as of this posting, Venus Williams -- playing in her record 72nd slam MD -- has been forced to a 3rd set by qualifier Kateryna Kozlova after looking to be coasting to a straight sets win, up a set and 3-0.

Serena makes her debut tonight on Ashe vs. Ekaterina Makarova, not your normal 1st Round pushover. So we'll get our first look at the shoulder that looked so bad in Rio. Patrick Mouratoglou was actually quite good on ESPN today, where he admitted that the shoulder isn't yet 100%, but "it's close." And that's about as close as we'll likely ever get to "inside info" from someone within the Williams camp.

I'll be back late tonight with a short follow-up post that covers (or at least mentions) the fate of the Sisters, as well as a quick look at some stats at the conclusion of the 2016 Open's 1st Round of play.

LIKE ON DAY 2: When you're the reigning U.S. Open champ, but don't have to worry about playing this year.

INTERESTING NOTE ON DAY 2: On the WatchESPN coverage of the Halep match, it was noted that the WTA says that the Romanian has been the "most clicked" on athlete on the tour's website for the last two years.

I'm not sure I would have thought that to be the case. Nice that it is, though.

DISLIKE ON DAY 2: Did Chris Evert really say on ESPN that Caroline Garcia "hasn't had a very good year?" Yep, she did... I went back and checked.

Disappointing, lately, yes. But I'd say that a season in which she's won two singles titles (she had one prior to '16) on two different surfaces, claimed the Roland Garros doubles title (and two other WD crowns in Charleston and Madrid), raised her singles ranking from #35 to #27 (her career high is #25, and her 1st Round win today might move her to her career-best standing after this Open) and attained a career-best doubles ranking (#3), while also leading the French team to the Fed Cup final, would probably make this her BREAKOUT CAREER YEAR rather than a not-very-good one.

But that's just me, I guess. Or not.

Thing is, even with all that, Pastry Caro still has room to improve.

LIKE ON DAY 2: Sania praise...

LIKE ON DAY 2: Petko, as only Petko can be...

LIKE ON DAY 2: The Rematch! Well, not really.

LIKE ON DAY 2: The nicely-sized, clear and easy-to-read, white-on-blue on-screen score graphic on WatchESPN, as opposed to the too-small, muddy and hard-to-read, black-on-white-on-pale-blue one used on ESPN (which is very similar to the hard-to-read, black-on-white-on-pale-blue one used by the network for its baseball and college football score graphics).

GRUDGING NOT-DISLIKE ON DAY 2: L.Z. Granderson isn't nearly as bad when they take him off set, put a microphone in his hand and have him doing reports from around the tournament grounds. There, I said it.

"AND SO IT BEGINS ANEW" ON DAY 2: Introducing "Timea Bacsinszky's U.S. Open 1st Round Victim" (sometimes we just have to change with the times, right?):

"SHEESH!" ON DAY 2: Kayla Day has a LOT of thick, long hair. (As seen on the ESPN set.)

The 16-year old wild card faces Madison Keys tomorrow.

Another note: Chris McKendy had Day lift up all the coffee mugs on set to prove that they contain no actual coffee.

So, the ESPN mugs are empty on the inside.

(Do I need to even say anything more?)

...and, finally...

Just finished practice :) I love tennis ??

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

#Focus ????

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

63-1...1st Rd. ['12 RG: Razzano]
61-2...2nd Rd. ['98 AO: Venus; '14 RG: Muguruza]
53-8...3rd Rd.
45-8...4th Rd.
28-4...SF [Venus '00, Henin-H. '03, Clijsters '09, Vinci '15]
22-6...F [Venus 01,Sharapova 04,Venus 08,Stosur 11,Kerber 16,Muguruza 16]
58-22 - slam three-setters
AO: 15-6 (2016: lost Kerber)
RG: 16-8 (2016: def. Putintseva)
WI: 16-4 (2016: def .McHale)
US: 11-4 (2015: def. Mattek-S., lost Vinci]
WHEN LOSES 1st SET: 37-34

1988 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1992 Monique van den Bosch, NED
1996 Maaike Smit, NED
2000 Esther Vergeer, NED
2004 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 Esther Vergeer, NED
1988 Monique van den Bosch, NED
1992 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1996 Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, NED
2000 Sharon Walraven, NED
2004 Sonja Peters, NED
2008 Korie Homan, NED
2012 Aniek Van Koot, NED
1988 Terry Lewis, USA/Ellen de Lange, NED
1992 Regina Isecke, GER
1996 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
2000 Maaike Smit, NED
2004 Daniela Di Toro, AUS
2008 Florence Gravellier, FRA
2012 Jiske Griffioen, NED

JAN: Aga Radwanska, POL
FEB: Elina Svitolina, UKR
MAR: Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
APR: Sloane Stephens, USA
MAY: Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic, FRA/FRA
JUN: Kiki Bertens, NED
JUN: Madison Keys, USA and CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
JUL: Angelique Kerber, GER
JUL: Johanna Konta, GBR
AUG: Karolina Pliskova, CZE
[2016 Weekly RISER Award Wins]
5...Timea Babos, HUN
5...Dasha Gavrilova, AUS
5...Madison Keys, USA
5...Monica Puig, PUR
4...Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4...Misaki Doi, JPN
4...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
4...Elina Svitolina, UKR
4...CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
3...Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
3...Kiki Bertens, NED
3...Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
3...Alize Cornet, FRA
3...Caroline Garcia, FRA
3...Angelique Kerber, GER
3...Sloane Stephens, USA
2...BLR Fed Cup Team
2...Jana Cepelova, SVK
2...Duan Yingying, CHN
2...ESP Fed Cup Team
2...Nicole Gibbs, USA
2...Camila Giorgi, ITA
2...Simona Halep, ROU
2...Johanna Konta, GBR
2...Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
2...Luksika Kumkhum, THA
2...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
2...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2...Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
2...Alison Riske, USA
2...TPE Fed Cup Team
2...Wang Yafan, CHN
2...Heather Watson, GBR
2...Zhang Shuai, CHN

TOP QUALIFIER: Taylor Townsend/USA
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: Eri Hozumi/JPN d. (WC) Amanda Anisimova/USA 6-1/2-6/7-6(1) [Hozumi trails 4-0 in the 3rd, saves a MP vs. the 14-year old]
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST VICTORY: Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR (def. Falconi/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #30 Misaki Doi/JPN (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
CRASH & BURN: Nominee: #32 Puig (Olympic Gold medalist; lost 1st rd. to Sai.Zheng/CHN)
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): Nominee: #31 Babos (1st Rd. def. Haas/AUT, trailed 4-0 in 3rd)
IT ("??"): Nominee: K.Day/USA ("teen")
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: C.Bellis/USA, A.Bogdan/ROU, Y.Duan/CHN, R.Hogenkamp/NED, Wang Yafan/CHN
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: C.Bellis, L.Davis, K.Day, N.Gibbs, M.Keys, C.McHale, S.Rogers
LADY OF THE EVENING: Nominee: M.Keys/USA (won latest-ending women's match - 1:48 a.m.)

All for Day 2. More later tonight.


Blogger colt13 said...

Forgot to mention the Griffioen workout clip. That was interesting.

Stat of the Day-30- The amount of tournaments Hingis and Mirza played together, making it her longest partnership.So the over/under on Vandeweghe is 15. Why? Kournikova, although they only played 18 times, is second, followed by Novotna and Pennetta with 12. Special mention goes to Hantuchova, who only played with her 8 times, but bookended Hingis 2.0(2007) and 3.0(2013).

The opposite would be Atawo/Spears, who have teamed up 165 times.

Tue Aug 30, 09:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I knew the WC athletes had to do a great deal of work on their arms, but I'm not sure I would have thought would be one of the workouts.

Though I guess it makes perfect sense.

Tue Aug 30, 10:42:00 PM EDT  

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