Wednesday, May 31, 2017

RG.4- Once Upon a Petra

And on Day 4, reality won out over fairy tale. Though not where everything is concerned.

Three days ago, two-time slam champion Petra Kvitova returned to the court five months after a knife attack in her own home threatened to end her career (or worse). In fact, even with her left hand and fingers not 100% healed, she became the first player to record a 1st Round victory at this Roland Garros. While visions of gingerbread houses and glorious magic couldn't help but at least begin the first stages of dancing in the heads of all who witnessed her return, it was inevitable that reality was going to set in sooner or later. At it turned out, it was the former.

Cherry-topped 32-year old singles qualifier (and doubles #1) Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who has battled against injuries (including hip surgery in 2014) that led to comebacks of her own in the not too distant past, defeated Kvitova today, winning a close-as-the-scoreline-appears 7-6(5)/7-6(5) match to advance to her first 3rd Round in Paris in four years.

After the Czech held break point for a two-break lead in the 1st set, but failed to convert, she was later forced to hold to force a tie-break. BMS won it 7-5, holding onto a set in which she committed just four unforced errors. After Mattek-Sands took a medical timeout between sets to have her thigh wrapped, the 2nd set went the way of the 1st, with the winner being determined by another TB. Kvitova led it 4-1, but a missed a forehand at 5-5 gave BMS a match point on which the Czech proceeded to double-fault. She tossed her racket into the middle of the court in frustration, while Mattek celebrated her big victory.

But the Bannerette recognized that the moment was one to be shared. While Kvitova didn't win this *match,* she was victorious in so many *other* ways just by showing up at this Roland Garros.

This is the end of one chapter for Petra, but it's also the beginning of the next.

Courage. Belief. P❤jd!

...the Tennis Gods weren't finished donning their masks to secretly giggle as they dumped wet sand on and ended some of the bigger stories of the 1st Round, either.

Ekaterina Makarova? You know, the always underrated Russian who made Angelique Kerber the first #1 seeded woman to ever lose in the 1st Round in Paris? Yeah, she won just four games off Lesia Tsurenko today. And Rio Gold medalist Monica Puig, who made #31 Roberta Vinci the first seed to exit this RG? Well, she won just five games on Wednesday in her loss to Jelena Ostapenko.

Week 21's singles champions, incidentally *also* both semifinalists at RG a year ago, experienced opposite ends of the Paris experience today.

Strasbourg winner Samantha Stosur defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-2/7-6(6), advancing to the 3rd Round in Paris for a ninth straight year. The Aussie has won seven matches in a row, and twelve of her last thirteen sets since the start of last week, dropping only the opening set in Saturday's final against Dasha Gavrilova. Meanwhile, Nurnberg champ Kiki Bertens was stunned today by 18-year old Bannerette CiCi Bellis, 6-3/7-6(5). The youngest player in the Top 50, this is Bellis' first RG main draw, but the second time she's advanced to the 3rd Round at a slam, having also done so last summer at the U.S. Open. Bertens came close to pushing things to a 3rd set, closing from 6-1 down in the 2nd set TB to within 6-5, only to see a poorly executed drop shot signal the end of her "year after" experience at this Roland Garros. She'll drop out of the Top 20 with this result.

...meanwhile, two nations from the same general area of the world, and one this not exactly a tennis hot bed, either, had players in the mix on Day 4. Once again, not surprisingly, their fortunes were split.

Cagla Buyukakcay, who last year in Paris became the first Turk to play in and win a slam MD match, had the chance to become the first to ever reach the 3rd Round at a major. She fell short, though, falling to Shelby Rogers 7-6(6)/6-4. Meanwhile, two-time RG junior finalist ('10 RU/'11 champ) Ons Jabeur, whose 1st Round win made her the first Arab woman to record a win at a major since 2008, faced off with #6-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, who barely appeared on tour this clay season while nursing a wrist injury.

Jabeur lost in the final round qualifying (just as she did in Melbourne in January), but reached the MD as a "lucky loser" when hers was the name picked from four placed in a hat at the end of the Q-rounds, with one getting "second life" in Paris due to the spot that opened up when Laura Siegemund had to withdraw after her knee injury last week. In April, the Tunisian reached the 3rd Round of the first big clay court event of the spring in Charleston, and with today's 6-4/6-3 win over Cibulkova, the first of her career over a Top 10 player, she's done it again in THE biggest clay tournament. The Slovak led 3-1 in the 2nd set, but saw her lead slip away, then ended it all by her own hand with a double-fault on MP. The 22-year old is now the first Arab woman to ever reach the 3rd Round at a slam.

Jabeur ended 2016 at #193, but better coaching, management, and a focus on training (she was right there -- with photo evidence -- working out with an Empire Academy player group that included no less than Daria Kasatkina this offseason) she'll now come close to breaking into the Top 100 for the first time with this result.

Jabeur's 3rd Round (so far) lucky loser result in the first at any major since (well, well) Kasatkina's same result at the U.S. Open in 2015, and the first at Roland Garros since 1996. The last time a LL reached the Round of 16 at a major was 1993. She'll next face Timea Bacsinszky.

...36-year old Venus Williams, the oldest woman in the draw, opened the day on Chatrier court against Kurumi Nara, who'd won a 1st Round match against 15-year old Amanda Anisimova, the younger player in the draw. Venus controlled the action, winning nine of the final ten games in a 6-3/6-1 win that included the sight of Serena arriving during the 1st set to watch from the stands.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza got off to a slow start in the third match up on Chatrier against Anett Kontaveit, who defeated the Spaniard earlier this spring in Stuttgart. The Estonian led 5-2 and served for the set, but Mugurza, gradually pulling her game together, broke for 5-4 and things eventually went to a TB. Kontaveit jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and won 7-4. But Muguruza continued to improve. Kontaveit had a BP chance to take a lead mid-way through the 2nd set, but failed to convert, then saw the match slip away, with the #4 seed winning 6-7(4)/6-4/6-2.

It's Muguruza's ninth consecutive win in Paris, where she's 18-3 for her career (17-2 since 2014).

...elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki positively blitzed Canadian qualifier Franckie Abanda, who recorded her first career slam win in the 1st Round. It's the Dane's first appearance in the RG 3rd Round since 2012. She reached the QF in 2010, when she was making her initial climb toward the #1 singles ranking.

Kristina Mladenovic showed little sign of the tournament-jeopardizing back issues that plagued her in the 1st Round, taking down former RG finalist-turned-qualifier Sara Errani, 6-2/6-3.

Although, I'm sure if Kiki loses before the second week she'll tell us once again that the pain was so great that she'd have pulled out of the event if it was anything other than Roland Garros, as we know there's nothing she enjoys more than laying it all on the line for France.

...oh, and, don't be *too* stunned now, but Sveta Kuznetsova ended the day by taking the opening set from big-hitting Pastry Oceane Dodin, and then being forced to three sets before winning 7-6(5)/5-7/6-3.

I know. Hard to believe.

...women's and mixed doubles play began on Wednesday, and we've already got another #1 seed out. Top-seeded Chan Yung-Jan & John Peers lost 6-4/6-2 to AO MX champs Abigail Spears & Juan Sebastian Cabal. And the #4-seeded WD duo of Sania Mirza & Yaroslava Shvedova fell 7-6(5)/1-6/6-2 to Dasha Gavrilova & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. It's the first time since the 2013 AO that Mirza lost in the opening round of WD at a major, and just the fourth time in her last twenty-six slam appearances.

Needless to day, with a 2-4 record and three straight losses as a pair this spring, Sania has to be looking to shed her coat of Slava as quickly as possible.

...meanwhile, I forgot to update the "Pliskova Slam Battle" afte Kristyna's loss yesterday, so...

==Karolina / Kristyna==
0 / 0 - W
1 / 0 - RU (Karolina best: '16 US)
0 / 0 - SF
1 / 0 - QF
0 / 0 - 4th Rd.
3 / 2 - 3rd Rd. (Kristyna best: '15 WI/'17 AO)
8 / 4 - 2nd Rd. [Karolina in 2r]
7 / 8 - 1st Rd.
7 / 13 - lost in qualifying
17 - Karolina best twin result (2017: AO,RG)
6 - Kristyna best twin result (2017: -)
4 - same result
1 - both didn't play = 2011 Wimbledon
Karolina SLAM MD W/L TOTAL: 24-19 (in '17 RG 2r)
Kristyna SLAM MD W/L TOTAL: 8-14
Karolina SLAM Q W/L TOTAL: 2-7
Kristyna SLAM Q W/L TOTAL: 7-13

...LIKE ON DAY 4: In the end, the result *was* incidental...

...LIKE ON DAY 4: Serena, watching Venus with an Oracene-esque cool factor turned up to nearly "11"...

...LIKE ON DAY 4: Sometimes, the coverage gets it all right...



...LIKE ON DAY 4: Little Petra looking a bit like little Steffi (and, at the end -- foot fault!).

...THINKIN' ON DAY 4: That that phone is ringing in Captain Rinaldi's office again...

...and, finally, all right, maybe it *is* time.

Players, no matter how many slams they've won, aren't *required* to have tennis arenas named in their honor.

Evonne Goolagong Arena has a nice right to it, don't you think?

It's 2017. We should be honoring people who break down barriers rather than those who seek to erect them.

We always have a blast on set with @si_swimsuit ! A couple of outtakes from my last shoot ???? @mj_day #parrotcay

A post shared by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

Windows. South of France

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

2007 Patty Schnyder, SUI
2008 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2009 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2010 Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
2011 Casey Dellacqua, AUS
2012 Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
2013 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2014 Andrea Petkovic, GER
2015 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2016 Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
2017 Petra Kvitova, CZE

2006 US: Nicole Pratt, AUS (2nd)
2006 RG: Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (2nd)
2007 WI: Alize Cornet, FRA (2nd)
2008 US: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (2nd)
2009 RG: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (2nd)
2009 WI: Kristina Kucova, SVK (2nd)
2010 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (2nd)
2011 WI: Stephanie Dubois, CAN (2nd)
2012 RG: Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ (2nd)
2013 US: Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT (2nd)
2014 AO: Irina Falconi, USA (2nd)
2015 US: Daria Kasatkina, RUS (3rd)
2016 WI: Duan Yingying, CHN (2nd)
2017 RG: Ons Jabeur, TUN (in 3rd Rd.)
Last Slam 4th Rd.: 1993 US - Maria Jose Gaidano, ARG
Last AO 3rd: Sandra Kleinova, CZE (1997)
Last RG 3rd: Gloria Pizzichini, ITA (1996)
Last WI 3rd: Tine Zwaan, NED (1974)

QF - Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR (Hobart)
3rd - Ons Jabeur, TUN (Charleston)
2nd - Sachia Vickery, USA (Hobart)
2nd - Donna Vekic, CRO (Saint Petersburg)
2nd - Evgeniya Rodina, RUS (Indian Wells)
2nd - Anna Kalinskaya, RUS (Istanbul)

TOP QUALIFIER: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Quirine Lemoine/NED def. Arantxa Rus/NED 2-6/7-6(3)/6-3 (down 6-2/5-3, saved 2 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST VICTORY: #15 Petra Kvitova/CZE (def. Boserup/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Roberta Vinci/ITA (1st Rd.-lost to Puig/PUR)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (2-5 in 1st Round; Kerber first #1 out so early)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: Abanda(L), Errani(L), Hogenkamp(L), Martic, Mattek-Sands(W), Van Uytvanck, Vondrousova (LL: Jabeur - in 3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Chloe Paquet/FRA (in 2nd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: In 2nd Rd.: Cornet, Dodin(L), Garcia, Mladenovic(W), Paquet, Parmentier
IT "??": xx
CRASH & BURN: #1 Angelique Kerber/GER (first #1-ranked woman to lost RG 1st Rd.; first at any slam since '01)
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBA at QF): Nominees: Mladenovic (1st Rd.- down 3-0 in 3rd to Brady); Jabeur (lucky loser, in 3rd Rd.; named picked out of hat for MD spot)
Légion de Lenglen HONOREE: Nominee: Jabeur
LA PETIT TAUREAU TROPHY: TBA June 1 (Justine Henin Day)

Artist: Paul Thurlby

All for Day 4. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Bellis is trending up well. Although she has never played on grass, she might be seeded for Wimbledon, and has a legit chance to win her home tourney at Stanford. The kids(her and Vondrousova) are coming.

Stat of the Day-1-The number of career singles titles for the Dutch star Betty Stove.

Now you might think that I am putting this up because Bertens lost. Not really, as this has more to do with Mladenovic. You see, Stove reached the 1977 Wimbledon final with 1 career title(Toray 1976 where she beat Margaret Court), so if Mladenovic reaches the final here, it would also be with one.

Stove, similar to Pam Shriver, was a tall player who would have been better off, and probably would have won a slam in a different era. She won 75* doubles titles-unofficially, as the WTA has her listed with 11, even though she won 6 slams.

At the time of the 77 final, she had 45. But I talk about career seasons, and Stove's 77-78 year long stretch starting from Wimbledon was impressive. Although she didn't win a singles title, she reached 4 finals, 8 SF, and 6 QF. In doubles, she reached 14 finals, going 7-7. She also finished 77 at #7 in singles, and probably would have been #1 in doubles, but they weren't ranked until 1984. She had to settle for being named doubles team of the year with Navratilova.

One of the quirks of the era is that almost all of Betty's results are from hard, carpet or grass. Like others, she avoided the AO, but with the exception of the French and Fed Cup, also avoided clay.

One of the other things that leaves her underrated, is that she wasn't always available for her star turn. A 12 time Fed Cup participant, the Netherlands made the final in 1968, but Stove was ill and did not appear in any ties.

Wed May 31, 06:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

When I think of Stove I always think of her being the longtime coach of Hana Mandlikova, and then Mandlikova eventually becoming the coach of Jana Novotna (and I starting enjoying watching her before I even knew she was being coached by Mandlikova, so there must have been *some* similarities there that caught my eye... so I suspect there was probably at least a little bit of Stove in that mix, too). ;)

Wed May 31, 08:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

I know you can't comment everything but forget the first double bagel this year is disappointing and not only because it's Caroline doing this. She met another arrogant broad who before the match said that she's sure thatCaroline couldn't blow her of the court - which she did. After she the match she turned up with a lot of excuses like her fifth match. May I remind you that when Caroline was 20 she was #1 playing day in day out and never complaining. Arrogant Canadian me thinks.

Thu Jun 01, 01:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I mentioned Caro's double bagel, but I didn't catch the Abanda comments until after I'd already posted. Yeah, I agree, not exactly the sort of thing you'd like to see a player say after losing love & love.

Thu Jun 01, 01:35:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Sorry Todd - my mistake. You should actually have seen this match. They are training dropshots Sacha and her and wow they have improved together with her forhand which I think is a weapon for her now. Second serve win in first set was 100%. So Calyniaki is back - at least I hope she is. Btw her 4th double bagel on the WTA tour.

Thu Jun 01, 04:04:00 AM EDT  
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