Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Greatest Tennis Story Ever Told

In Melbourne, Serena and Venus Williams were together again. As always. Just as they've lived their lives, and as we've watched them live.

From the day we first set eyes on a Williams, we were told that nothing was ever going to be quite the same. Some believed it. Some didn't. It turned out, though, that none of us really knew what we were talking about. For the Williams who was going to change women's tennis forever didn't have just two legs and (back then) myriad rows of braids in her hair. She had four, and twice as many.

We saw Venus coming around the corner, but we were ultimately blindsided by her little sister Serena. While Venus was the first of the two to demand attention because of what she did on the court (try reaching the U.S. Open final at 17, in her very first appearance), it was Serena who was the first to win the big prize ('99 U.S. Open, also at 17). Venus dominated the tour for a while, winning back-to-back Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns in 2000-01, and likely would have tucked away far, far more slam titles than the seven she eventually claimed had it not been for Serena. In 2002-03, the younger Williams officially surpassed the older, accomplishing her first "Serena Slam," winning four straight major titles. Naturally, she defeated Venus in the final all four times.

In the many years that have since passed, the Sisters have re-written the tennis record books, changed the course of tennis history by ushering in (by necessity, since it was the only way for other players to compete with them) an era of power tennis never before seen in the women's game, elbowing aside one generation of players while simultaneously pushing their own to improve, and inspiring an entirely new generation of players to follow in their footsteps.

They weren't supposed to still be doing such things in 2017, though. Not even their dad Richard, who DID tell us all about Serena before we'd even fully gotten used to the idea of Venus, figured it would happen. He said they'd be retired long before they turned thirty. But here the siblings were, set to meet in yet another slam final (their ninth, but first since '09) at the close of this Australian Open, after a magical two weeks in Melbourne that have seen 35-year old Serena maintain her prominent place at the top of the game while 36-year old Venus went about turning back the clock to re-live something close to her own glory days. With their dual run Down Under, the Williamses have once again inspired the masses, some individuals of which remember them from twenty years ago, some contemporaries who compete against them now, but also yet another generation who'll be playing competitive matches two decades from now (though not against one of the Sisters... well, probably not).

Through it all, through all they've experienced, good and bad, the two have been joined not only in history, but in life. From early controversies to a sister's murder. From a diagnosis of Sjogren's syndrome, to a near-fatal pulmonary embolism. From career heights to injury-related absences. From questions about their focus on the sport, to the eventual recognition of two well-rounded lives. Venus and Serena. Serena and Venus. In whatever order, the mention of one will always precede and accompany the mention of the other.

We've had the privilege to watch it all play out, and wonder just how it will continue to unfold. For the sport will never produce a tale quite so rich in so many areas. Yes, the reach and influence of the Greatest Tennis Story Ever Told will continue to spread for quite some time.

But, on this day, all that was scheduled to be set aside for an hour or two. The Williams Sisters had another match to play.

For the 28th time, nineteen years after they met in a professional match in Melbourne for the first time, and fourteen years since they last played for the Australian Open championship, Serena and Venus once again walked onto the court with history, prestige and the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at stake. While Serena was playing to reclaim the #1 ranking and for career slam title #23, which would break her Open era tie with Steffi Graf and move her within one of the all-time mark held by Margaret Court, Venus was seeking title #8, which would be better known as the slam for which most thought she'd never again get the opportunity to even play for.

Both players came out blasting in the opening set, but the first half of the stanza was mostly characterized by Serena's tense, nervous edge. Still, Venus was never able to fully take advantage of the situation. Serena won the first two points on Venus' serve, stepping in to whack a backhand return to reach BP, then firing a forehand pass off a deep Venus volley to get the break. A game later, Venus used a net cord shot that wrong-footed Serena and elicited a wide forehand to reach BP. Serena's long error gave the break back. In game #3, another Venus net cord dropped over for a winner. Serena, who'd slightly slipped, crushed her racket on the court, nearly breaking it entirely in half with one swat. She broke Venus a few points later, only to then have a two-DF game to give the advantage back, as the match produced its fourth straight break to open the action.

Finally, Venus recorded the first hold of serve in the match in game #5, and went up love/30 in the following game. At 30/30, she flew an error long on a second serve return, pausing to disgustedly shake her head at the miss. She knew. The miss turned the momentum over to Serena, who quickly held and, finally settled into the match, broke Venus to take a 4-3 lead. She then held from love/30, and served for the set two games later at 5-4. Having lost ten of fourteen of her second serves in the set, Serena never let Venus see a single one with the set on the line. Putting in all four first serves, she held at love, firing back-to-back aces to put away the game and take the set at 6-4.

In the 2nd, Serena ran her streaks of consecutive points won on serve to eleven, going up 40/love in game #2 en route to a hold. Meanwhile, Venus found herself going more and more just to keep up. After a shaky serving start, she rebounded to hold from 15/40 with five straight points, but a game later missed on a pair of second serve returns, then netted a shot when in position for a clean forehand winner down the line as Serena held for 2-2. While the two combined to hold for the eighth and ninth straight game, the feeling was that Venus, with her error total climbing, was trying to swim against the tide. Finally, in game #7, Serena pounced. After reaching BP by winning a 16-shot rally, Serena missed on a second serve return, but two BP later, she jumped at another second serve and fired a stinging backhand crosscourt winner to break for 4-3.

It didn't take an eagle eye to see the tide carrying Venus out to sea.

In game #8, Serena held at love, firing an ace and three service winners, then two games later served for the title at 5-4. After losing the longest rally of the match, Serena fell behind 15/30, but won the next two points to reach match point. "Fight!," she yelled to herself. Finally, after racing to the net to reach a short ball, Serena hit a hard forehand that Venus got a racket on, only to see the ball sail long, ending the 6-4/6-4 match as Serena became the all-time Open era leader with slam title #23, set an AO Open era mark with career title #7 in Melbourne, and returned to the #1 ranking twenty-three weeks after having lost the position last September to Angelique Kerber following a record-tying 186 consecutive weeks in the top spot.

As they have so often over the last thirty-five years, at home and on the road, Venus and Serena embraced at the net. Once again, as always, they were sisters, not simply competitors striving for a common goal, inspiring each other as much as they've inspired others.

Addressing the crowd, and "the world," an almost-by-now professionally gracious Venus marveled at the feats of the woman who has defeated her many times on stages just like this. "That's my little sister, guys," she proudly said. Noting how she's been with Serena through all her victories, she told her, "Your win has always been my win. I think you know that."

Introduced as, "Our champion, the legendary Serena Williams," the new (and once again) AO champion and baddest tennis player on the planet casually addressed the crowd, which included the now-officially-looking-over-her-shoulder-at-history-gaining-on-her Court, for as long as she could. She humorously noted how she'd missed out on the opportunity last year when she lost to Kerber in the final.

In recent years, every time the Sisters (as always, with a capital "S") have played it sort of amounted to a valedictory to a dwindling era. And, for sure, the time on the biggest stages for Serena and Venus has far fewer seasons remaining than years behind. But this Australian Open, which also this weekend will include another Back-to-the-Future final on the men's side between 35-year old Roger Federer and 30-year old Rafa Nadal, has proven that time CAN loop back onto itself. Both Sister is still relevant in today's game. No one ever questioned Serena's continued occupation of such a position, and now Venus has staked out a new claim of her own. Combined with the rise of the late-blooming veterans like Kerber, the younger generation of new and would-be stars (Muguruza, Pliskova, Svitolina, etc.), the first sighting of a player born in the 2000's in a slam main draw, and the sprouting up of true-life stories (Lucic-Baroni's remarkable SF run) that sometimes seem more fiction than fact, the sport continues to thrive between the lines with an unchecked freedom that can't help but breath into it new and sustaining life.

Earlier this week, Venus referred to the lure of sport as "triumph and disaster witnessed in real time." In the moment of a win or a loss, she said, "there is no do-over, there's no retake, there is no voice-over."

"You can't fake it. you can't. It's either you do it or you don't. People relate to the champion. They also relate to the person also who didn't win because we all have those moments in our life."

And what a life it's been for these two, and will continue to be.

...for the first time since 2010, and just the third time ever, a Ukrainian girl has been crowned a slam junior champion.

14-year old Marta Kostyuk, the #11 seed at this AO, completed her run through the girls draw with a three-set win over junior #1 Rebeka Masarova. For a while, it looked as if the 17-year old Swiss might pull a rabbit out of her hat for a second straight match in Melbourne. After being broken to lose the 1st set 7-5, Masarova opened the 2nd with a break of serve and rushed to a 6-1 win. Kostyuk got an early break in the 3rd, but things were tied up again by the middle of the set. Ultimately, the Ukrainian teen served out the match (something Masarova's SF opponent couldn't do) for a 7-5/1-6/6-4 victory, making her the first junior slam champ from her country since Elina Svitolina in 2010.

On Thursday night, Bianca Andreescu (CAN) bounced back rather well after having blown her lead over Masarova in the singles SF (she served for the match, got within two points of the final, lost the 2nd set TB and then was bageled in the 3rd...ouch), joining forces with Bannerette Carson Branstine a few hours after her singles defeat to take the girls doubles title with a 6-1/7-6(4) win in the final over Poland's Maja Chwalinska & Iga Swiatek. Swiatek (the taller of the two Poles below) defeated Kostyuk in last week's Traralgon singles final. night after Jiske Grifioen (w/ Aniek van Koot) took the wheelchair doubles final over Yui Kamiji & Diede de Groot, she and Kamiji, already opponents in fourteen straight slam doubles finals (this wins makes Griffioen 5-9 in those match-ups), faced off again in the singles final on Saturday.

After having been on the losing end vs. Griffioen in a very important singles final in Melbourne two years ago, today Kamiji battled back from dropping the opening set in a tie-break to win 6-7(2)/6-3/6-3 to claim her first AO singles title. Kamiji was broken when serving for the set in the 2nd, but broke Griffioen a game later to send things to a 3rd. There, Kamiji surged back from 3-1 down to win the final five games of the match.

At this point in 2015, this title was the only singles/doubles slam crown that Kamiji didn't simultaneously hold. She reigned as the champion in six of the seven slam WC disciplines, the best run of dominance in the slams by any player since the retirement of the legendary Esther Vergeer. Kamiji was oh-so-close to sweeping all the slam titles in a single season, too, having only failed to claim the AO singles in '14 (she lost the final to Sabine Ellerbrook). In Melbourne in January '15, Kamiji defended her AO doubles title, but again came up one win short of holding all seven titles at once (losing to Griffioen in the singles final).

Since then, Wimbledon has added a WC singles competition, so a title at SW19 is now all that separates the 22-year old from a Career WC Slam in BOTH singles and doubles. To date, Kamiji has also claimed singles and doubles titles in the season-ending Wheelchair Masters events, though she's yet to win Paralympic Gold (taking singles Bronze last year in Rio).

...LIKE ON DAY 13: Yes, "Spiderman and the Czech Wall" DID do THAT dance last night after they won. And you KNEW they would, too.

...MEANWHILE... ON DAY 13: ...after the ceremony...

...LIKE ON DAY 13: Lucky 7


...LIKE ON DAY 13: Angie being Angie

...LIKE ON DAY 13: When you get a #23 special gift from #23...

...and, finally... here's ATP Backspin's Galileo West's take on the women's final...

It started with Venus serving and ended with Serena raising a single finger aloft, an indication of her ‘new’ ranking. Serena Williams, the greatest tennis player of all time, crowned by her sister.

If you look at the top five most dominant athletes of all time and you don’t put Serena in there you’re a moron. More dominant than Michael Phelps, a better player than even Roger Federer. She has dominated the tour for 19 years. Sure, Margaret Court still holds on by one, but she won 12 Australian Open titles.

Steffi Graf will almost certainly have sent out congratulations by now.

The commentators said at the start that Venus could not afford cheap errors, but Serena could. They repeated it until Hana Mandlikova, champion in 1980 and 1987, came on to give out the trophies. This was not a classic. It was messy with a few diamonds in the rough. Venus appeared to be clinging on for parts of this match. She didn’t take advantage of a first set Serena wobble. She did not break back when her opponent served for the match, though she could have.

No, this match was scrappy, and awkward. Neither sister ever really got in the zone and not at the same time. Venus knew the crowd was on her side and did not use that. The Melbourne faithful tried, they really did. They were vocal when Venus won an epic rally, the rally of the match, at 15-all in the last game. They screamed and hollered when she held at 3-5.

For the tennis aficionado this was a match you could enjoy, as heavily weighted with history as it was. But the average viewer would have expected better from these two. This is going to be the big question over the next few years. How does tennis remain fresh and vibrant? Two veterans with a combined age of over 70 will not do it despite the sparkling rallies. Casual watchers want drama. Wasn’t a Kyrgios-type player to be in these finals? It’s not fair. And it isn’t realistic, but tennis has to move with the times.

It feels like such a harsh question to ask at a time like this, but it has to be asked. Who on the WTA Tour is actually going to stand up?
Because the Williamses are a double-edged sword. They look great and having them still playing is wonderful, but isn’t it time for fresh blood? Lots of people I’ve spoken to, especially the ones outside of America, are sick of Serena. It’s boring and predictable.

Take the Mirjana Lucic-Baroni semi-final. Who actually enjoyed that apart from Serena? At the 2012 Australian Open, Maria Sharapova beat Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6 6-4. This BACSPINNER still remembers it because it was an instant classic. And the Azarenka/Clijsters matchup in the other was also spectacular. And we need more of that. The Venus/Vandeweghe match was good, but did either of them have a chance against Serena?

It isn’t just the WTA. The ATP has to decide what it is going to do after Roger and Rafa retire. Djokovic and Murray lack charisma. Murray lacks any kind of personality at all unless you include the one modeled after one of the seven dwarfs, Grumpy. People will love Kyrgios and Dimitrov. Well, certain aspects of the former. They already do. That might be the way to go.

So this slam, which has been brilliant and one of the better ones of late, gives us a lot of questions to think about. Both top seeds choked and lost quite badly. Muguruza and Pliskova imploded. Well done to Serena on another slam title. But this BACKSPINNER is worried. Because he can’t see where we go when these two retire.

He also hopes this was not an omen for tomorrow’s final. Nadal could simply sweep Federer aside. Let us hope that one lives up to the billing. This one sadly did not. But then we weren’t surprised.

Oh, boy, the Williamses. What athletes, what competitors.

#2 Serena Williams/USA def. #13 Venus Williams/USA 6-4/6-4

#2 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) d. #12 Hlavackova/Peng (CZE/CHN) 6-7(4)/6-3/6-3

Spears/Cabal (USA/COL) vs. #2 Mirza/Dodig (IND/CRO)

#11 Marta Kostyuk/UKR def. #1 Rebeka Masarova/SUI 7-5/1-6/6-4

#3 Andreescu/Branstine (CAN/USA) def. Chwalinska/Swiatek (POL/POL) 6-1/7-6(4)

#2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED 6-7(2)/6-3/6-3

#1 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED) def. #2 de Groot/Kamiji (NED/JPN) 6-3/6-2

My ?? ?

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

On set today shooting a new editorial. ??

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

34...Chris Evert (18-16)
32...Martina Navratilvoa (18-14)
31...Steffi Graf (22-9)
29...SERENA WILLIAMS (23-6)*
18...Evonne Goolagong (7-11)
15...VENUS WILLIAMS (7-8)*
13...Monica Seles (9-4)
34...Chris Evert (18-16)
32...Martina Navratilvoa (18-14)
31...Steffi Graf (22-9)
29...Margaret Court (24-5)
29...SERENA WILLIAMS (23-6)*
22...Helen Wills Moody (19-3)
18...Billie Jean King (12-6)
18...Doris Hart (6-12)
18...Evonne Goolagong (7-11)
29...SERENA WILLIAMS (23-6)*
15...VENUS WILLIAMS (7-8)*
12...Martina Hingis (5-7)
10...Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
3...Angelique Kerber (2-1)
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)
1...Genie Bouchard (0-1)
1...Dominika Cibulkova (0-1)
1...Sara Errani (0-1)
1...Simona Halep (0-1)
1...Jelena Jankovic (0-1)
1...Sabine Lisicki (0-1)
1...Karolina Pliskova (0-1)
1...Agnieszka Radwanska (0-1)
1...Lucie Safarova (0-1)
1...Roberta Vinci (0-1)
[active - AO finals]
6...Martina Hingis (3-3)
4...Maria Sharapova (1-3)
2...Victoria Azarenka (2-0)
1...Angelique Kerber (1-0)
1...Dominika Cibulkova (0-1)

2001 U.S. Open - Venus Williams 6-2,6-4
2002 Roland Garros - Serena Williams 7-5,6-3
2002 Wimbledon - Serena Williams 7-6(4),6-3
2002 U.S. Open - Serena Williams 6-3,6-4
2003 Australian - Serena Williams 7-6(4),3-6,6-4
2003 Wimbledon - Serena Williams 4-6,6-4,6-2
2008 Wimbledon - Venus Williams 7-5,6-4
2009 Wimbledon - Serena Williams 7-6,6-2
2017 Australian - Serena Williams 6-4,6-4

22 - Evert/Navratilova
13 - Graf/Sanchez
13 - Evert/Mandlikova
12 - Graf/Sabatini

3...Martina Navratilova
3...Margaret Court
2...Billie Jean King
2...Chris Evert
1...Flavia Pennetta
1...Virginia Wade
1...Li Na
1...Ann Haydon Jones

**MOST WTA FINALS - 2015-17**
13...Angelique Kerber (7-6)
11...Karolina Pliskova (4-7)
8...Simona Halep (6-2)
8...Aga Radwanska (6-2)
7...Petra Kvitova (5-2)
7...Dominika Cibulkova (4-3)
239 - Martina Navratilova (167-72)
226 - Chris Evert (154-72)
138 - Steffi Graf (107-31)
93 - Lindsay Davenport (55-38)
92 - SERENA WILLIAMS (72-20)
85 - Monica Seles (53-32)
81 - VENUS WILLIAMS (49-32)
77 - Arantxa Sanchez (29-48)
68 - Martina Hingis (43-25)
61 - Justine Henin (43-18)

2010 Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Laura Robson/GBR
2011 An-Sophie Mestach/BEL def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Taylor Townsend/USA def. Yulia Putintseva/RUS
2013 Ana Konjuh/CRO def. Katerina Siniakova/CZE
2014 Elizaveta Kulichkova/RUS def. Jana Fett/CRO
2015 Tereza Mihalikova/SVK def. Katie Swan/GBR
2016 Vera Lapko/BLR def. Tereza Mihalikova/SVK
2017 Marta Kostyuk/UKR def. Rebeka Masarova/SUI

2007 Madison Brengle, USA
2008 Jessica Moore, AUS & Arantxa Rus, NED
2009 Ksenia Pervak, RUS
2010 Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE/CZE
2011 Japanese girls
2012 Taylor Townsend, USA
2013 Ana Konjuh, CRO
2014 Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
2015 Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
2016 Sara Tomic, AUS
2017 Marta Kostyuk, UKR

2004 Wimbledon - Kateryna Bondarenko
2010 Roland Garros - Elina Svitolina
2017 Australian - Marta Kostyuk

2010 Jana Cepelova / Chantal Skamlova, SVK/SVK
2011 An-Sophie Mestach / Demi Schuurs, BEL/NED
2012 Gabby Andrews / Taylor Townsend, USA/USA
2013 Ana Konjuh / Carol Zhao, CRO/CAN
2014 Anhelina Kalinina / Elizaveta Kulichkova, UKR/RUS
2015 Miriam Kolodziejova / Marketa Vondrousova, CZE/CZE
2016 Anna Kalinskaya / Tereza Mihalikova, RUS/SVK
2017 Bianca Andreescu / Carson Branstine, CAN/USA

AO: Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
RG: Paula Badosa, ESP
WI: Sofya Zhuk, RUS
US: Dalma Galfi, HUN
AO: Vera Lapko, BLR
RG: Rebeka Masarova, SUI
WI: Anastasia Potapova, RUS
US: Kayla Day, USA
AO: Marta Kostyuk, UKR

2002 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Sharon Walraven/NED
2003 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Maaike Smit/NED
2004 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Maaike Smit/NED
2005 Sharon Walraven/NED def. Korie Homan/NED
2006 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Florence Gravellier/NED
2007 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Florence Gravellier/NED
2008 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Korie Homan/NED
2009 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Korie Homan/NED
2010 Korie Homan/NED def. Florence Gravellier/FRA
2011 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Daniela di Toro/AUS
2012 Esther Vergeer/NED def. Aniek van Koot/NED
2013 Aniek Van Koot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2014 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2015 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Jiske Griffioen/NED

2014 RG - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2014 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 AO - Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2015 RG - #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 US - Jordanne Whiley/GBR def. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 AO - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 RG - Marjolein Buis/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2016 WI - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 PA - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #4 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED

**WC SLAM SINGLES FINALS - since 2013**
7 - Aniek Van Koot, NED (2-5)(0-1 Para)
6 - JISKE GRIFFIOEN, NED (4-2)(1-0 Para)
6 - YUI KAMIJI, JPN (2-3)
5 - Sabine Ellerbrock, GER (2-3)
1 - Marjolein Buis, NED (1-0)
1 - Jordanne Whiley, GBR (1-0)

TOP QUALIFIER: Elizaveta Kulichkova/RUS
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #5 Karolina Pliskova/CZE
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #2 Serena Williams/USA
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): #2 Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1 - Ons Jabeur/TUN def. Dalila Jakupovic/SRB 2-6/7-6(5)/7-5 (comeback from 6-2/4-1 down)
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - Lucie Safarova/CZE def. Yanina Wickmayer/BEL 3-6/7-6(7)/6-1 (saved 9 MP)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - #8 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS def. Jelena Jankovic/SRB 6-4/5-7/9-7 (3:36; blew 4-1 lead in 2nd, back from 0-3 in 3rd)
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr./Doub.): Nominee: Girls SF - #1 Masarova d. #7 Andreescu (Andreescu serving up set and 5-3, two points from final)
TOP LAVER/MCA NIGHT MATCH: 3rd Rd. - #5 Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Jelena Ostapenko 4-6/6-0/10-8 (double-break down at 5-2 in 3rd set)
FIRST VICTORY: #29 Monica Puig/PUR (def. Tig/ROU)
FIRST SEED OUT: #4 Simona Halep/ROU (lost to Rogers/USA)
UPSET QUEENS: United States
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Romania (First Loss, First Seed Out & two players ranked in Top 32 ousted in 1st Rd.)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Mona Barthel/GER & Jennifer Brady/USA (4th Rd.)
LAST AUSSIE STANDING: Dasha Gavrilova (4th Rd.)
Ms. OPPORTUNITY: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
IT (Party): (Ash) "Barty Party"
COMEBACK PLAYER: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/CRO
CRASH & BURN: #4 Simona Halep/ROU (1st Rd./Rogers; 2 con. AO 1st Rd. exits)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Lucie Safarova/CZE (1st Rd. - saved 9 MP vs. Wickmayer)
KIMIKO VETERAN CUP: Venus Williams/USA & Serena Williams/USA
LADY OF THE EVENING: Karolina Pliskova/CZE (back from 5-2 in 3rd vs. Ostapenko on Night 6; cancelled "The Dasha Show" on Night 8)
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Griffioen/van Koot, Spears

All for Day 13. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Day-20- The amount of slams won by other people since Serena won her first. It is a big number, compared to Graf's 10 in the time frame from 1-22. The thing is, when people say that the Williams sisters ushered in a new brand of tennis, the players changed too. There are only 2 players who won a slam in the Graf era and Williams era. One is Mary Pierce. The other is Lindsay Davenport, who deserves special mention because not only did she win in both, she won Wimbledon in 1999, the one right after Graf's last and before Williams first.

Sat Jan 28, 01:06:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So many members of the "What If? Hall of Fame" from the two time periods when it comes to them just missing out a far greater career than they ultimately had. Davenport, as you noted, who was sort of the Roddick (in the Federer/Nadal era) of the women's tour, but also Hingis (who was dominant until the big-hitters pushed her out), and Sanchez. Seles, too, of course, for various reasons.

That's what make the number of slams totaled up individually by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in the same era sort of remarkable. All would have more majors without the others, but none had their standing in tennis history negatively impacted by the others, as essentially happened with Graf and the Sisters (well, maybe just Serena, as Venus is a "What If?" candidate, too) and the top echelon of WTA players from the last twenty years.

Of course, on a smaller scale, quite a few of the woman still made their marks in slams. Capriati/Henin/Clijsters/Sharapva won quite a few, Kuznetsova (and Kerber, though she's come late in the time frame) won two and many others took home one. The same can't really be said for the men, as Murray has gorged on a stretch when Federer/Nadal's slam prospects were lessened. Wawrinka, though, has been about as opportunistic as a player could ever hope to be when it's come to the slams (excluding his inability to defeat Federer in the semis and maybe grab a fourth major at this AO).

Sat Jan 28, 02:41:00 PM EST  

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