Friday, June 02, 2017

RG.6- Ready, Set... Mugu (& Kiki)

Oh, yeah. I remember her.

We never quite know which Garbine Muguruza we're going to get. *that* Mugu, or THAT!!!! Mugu. And the difference between the two is more stark -- maybe even more than with a certain Russian -- than the "competing" versions of any of the other WTA players who might qualify to be nominated for the very unique distinction of being capable of being BOTH the best and worst player on tour, sometimes on the same afternoon.

But Paris tends to bring out the good that resides in the Spaniard's bones. She *is* the defending Roland Garros champion, after all. Three years ago, she upset Serena Williams in the 2nd Round there for her first truly huge slam match win. A year ago, she did it again. This time in the final. With her 7-5/6-2 win over the oft-troubling-to-her-easily-annoyed-opponents Yulia Putintseva, a quarterfinalist at RG in 2016, Muguruza is now 19-3 for her career at the season's second slam. She's won ten straight in Paris, and has now added a Round of 16 (as of now) result after consecutive QF-QF-W finishes the last three years.

Looking for a more consistent season in 2017, Muguruza has instead been only consistently unable to maintain her momentum through the first five months of the year. She started 7-2 Down Under, reaching a SF and the QF in Melbourne. But she lost three of her next five matches, only to rally (somewhat) with a 5-2 mark in Indian Wells and Miami. Of course, heading into the claycourt spring which would end with her defense attempt of her RG title, Muguruza lost her first two matches. But after getting her footing in Rome with wins over the likes of Jelena Ostapenko, Julia Goerges and Venus Williams, she retired in the semifinals with a neck injury.

Ah, to Mugu is to live.

On Day 6 in Paris, Muguruza's good side ultimately won out over her bad. A break at love for a 4-3 lead over Putintseva was soon followed up by her being broken herself (on BP #4) when she served for the set at 5-4. But the Spaniard immediately broke back, then served out the 1st. She opened the 2nd with a break of serve, then gained a double-break advantage (3-0) two games later, having broken the Kazakh in six of seven service games. On her third MP, Muguruza locked away the victory, keeping alive her chances to become the first women's champ to repeat in Paris since Justine Henin's 2005-07 three-peat.

Not that she's been given any break when it comes to her draw. After opening her week against former RG champ Francesca Schiavone, Muguruza got springtime mover-and-shaker Anett Kontaveit (23-8 since March) and reigning Paris quarterfinalist Putintseva. Now? Well, it'll be *only* one of the pre-event "favorites," and surely the most favored player around as far as the French crowd is concerned.

Yes, Muguruza's next opponent will be none other than Kristina Mladenovic, as this slam finally gets its first *true* headlining women's match.

The resident and new Zombie Queen of Paris survived another near-death tennis experience today. After arriving at this event nursing a lower back injury, and at least *saying* that she'd have pulled out of the event had it been anything other than Roland Garros, Mladenovic opened her main draw play by overcoming a 3-0 3rd set deficit against Jennifer Brady, winning a 9-7 decider. She followed that up by quickly ushering former RG finalist Sara Errani out of the event in quick order. Then, today, she was at it again.

This time with it being Shelby Rogers playing the role of Bannerette in the Middle between Mladenovic and the French crowd, Kiki trailed 5-2 in the 3rd before she caught fire. A love break in game #13 gave her the chance to serve for her first career Roland Garros Round of 16 appearance. Against Rogers' countrywoman Brady, Mladenovic needed three attempts (and two overdone arguments with the chair umpire) to serve out the win. This time, she did it on her first try, winning the 2:45 match 7-5/4-6/8-6, claiming 25 of the final 33 points.

The Pastry won her only previous encounter with Muguruza, a 7-6(4)/7-6(6) match in Marrakech in 2015. Since then, the Spaniard has gone to win the Roland Garros singles title, while Mladenovic has claimed the doubles. But after their second meeting, only one will still have a chance to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen two weekends from now.

To be continued...

...lost in all the talk of Kiki, Garbi, Elina, Simona and others is (so far) the only unseeded player to advance to the Round of 16 (at least one more will, at the close of tomorrow's all-South American clash between Cepede Royg and Duque) is 19-year old Jelena Ostapenko.

The Latvian, who'll turn 20 next week, advanced to her first career slam 4th Round today with a 1 & 4 win over Lesia Tsurenko. She's dropped four, five and five games, respectively, in her three matches in Paris after coming in having never won a MD match (0-1) at RG. The '17 Charleston finalist is 17-4 (Q+MD) on clay this spring.

...and on Day 6, Sveta went three. Again. Bless her.

For the second straight round, Kuznetsova was extended to a deciding 3rd set, this time by Chinese veteran Zhang Shuai. The Russian managed to survive 63 unforced errors on the day (only partly made up for with 35 winners), rebounding after failing to serve out the match or convert two MP at 5-4 in the final set, to finally win the 3:10 battle on MP #3.

Kuznetsova has now reached at least the 4th Round in Paris on twelve occasions, including six times in the last seven years.

Love it or leave it... ?? ????? ????? ????, ?? ??-?? ????????? ?????? @rolandgarros #????????????????????????

A post shared by ???????? ?????????/Kuznetsova (@svetlanak27) on for the rest of the veterans in the top half of the draw, Samantha Stosur continued her hot streak, defeating qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands by a 6-2/6-2 score, advancing to her sixth RG Round of 16, and third in four years. She's now won eight straight matches, and claimed sixteen of seventeen sets since the start of play in Strasbourg last week, including all six she's played in Paris.

And as Margaret Court continues to just keep talking, Stosur is doing the same. Of course, the best way for the Aussie to continue to play a leading role in standing up for herself, Casey Dellacqua and other players on tour, would be for her to continue to survive in this RG draw, providing herself with a prolonged and gradually bigger stage to speak out.

It might even relieve her mind of some of the inherent pressure that would come with a second week by a 33-year old who might not have *too* many of those left in her tennis bag.

Meanwhile, Venus Williams' somewhat silent assault on Paris continued as she notched another slam win (career #251), this time over a player that the 36-year old is a whole Amanda Anisimova older than, 21-year old Belgian Waffle Elise Mertens. Venus won 6-3/6-1, reaching the Round of 16 at a fifth straight major (and second in a row in Paris, where she's done it ten times). Since dropping ten games in the 1st Round, Williams has dropped eight in the last two rounds combined.

84 - Steffi Graf
72 - Chris Evert
72 - Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
62 - Conchita Martinez
60 - Serena Williams*
54 - Monica Seles
53 - Maria Sharapova*
52 - Svetlana Kuznetsova*
51 - Martina Navratilova
48 - Venus Williams*
94 - Steffi Graf
85 - Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
80 - Conchita Martinez
78 - Chris Evert
72 - Serena Williams*
67 - Venus Williams*
65 - Svetlana Kuznetsova*
64 - Maria Sharapova
62 - Monica Seles
62 - Martina Navratilova

And Timea Bacsinszky, the youngster of the group at 28 (well, as of next week), ended lucky loser Ons Jabeur's run, winning 6-2/6-2 to reach her third consecutive 4th Round in Paris after SF and QF results the last two years. the final match going at the end of day, Caroline Wozniacki won the opening set off 18-year old CiCi Bellis, who she defeated 3 & 2 in the Dubai QF earlier this year. Wozniacki then fell behind 5-2 in the 2nd as she spent half the set pestering the chair umpire -- then WTA tour supervisor Pam Whytcross in the stands -- about not being able to see in the fading light. Of course, the crowd booed, while Bellis seemed content to play on as the Dane quite possibly distracted herself rather than simply buckle down and try to end the match in two sets.

But then rains came and bailed out everyone. As the clock read 8:25 pm, things were finally stopped 1:17 into the match, and later suspended, set to reume on Day 7. doubles, wins were posted by Makarova/Vesnina, Hradecka/Siniakova, Bertens/Larsson and Flipkens/Schiavone. Dasha Gavrilova & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/Andrea Petkovic despite dropping the 1st set 6-2. Either Lucic or Pekovic retired in the first game of the 2nd set.

Kasatkina/Khromacheva fell to Duan/Peng, while Babos/Hlavackova (#5 seeds) were knocked off by Olaru/Savchuk.

In the mixed, four-time slam champs Martina Hingis & Leander Paes lost to #4 Katarina Srebotnik/Raven Klaasen in the 1st Round, dropping a 10-2 3rd set TB. A year ago, Hingis/Paes wrapped up a Career Mixed Doubles Slam as a pair by winning the Roland Garros title, but they were unseeded for this event.

So, last year's RG MX champs *and* this year's AO MX champs (Spears/Cabal, who def. the #1 seeds) were *both* unseeded in this draw. Those two duos were the only currently reigning mixed slam champions even in this RG draw at all. There's something just not quite right with *any* of that.

...meanwhile, the final 2016-17 NCAA women's singles rankings have Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo at #1. Back at the start of the year, I picked her to be this year's national champion. As the top seed, she ultimately lost in the 1st Round to Pepperdine's Mayar Sherif Ahmed in the just-completed NCAA tournament, but won the school's first national championship in doubles with Miho Kowase. Putting those two honors together, I guess that should at least count for *something* in the accounting when I do the '17 Prediction Blowout recap at the end of the year, right?

...LIKE ON DAY 6: A good example of all the moving tennis player parts on a single point, courtesy of Sveta...



...LIKE ON DAY 6: a "new" Bracelet to love?

...LIKE ON DAY 6: Finally, a Karolina Pliskova mention around here, right? Sometimes it works when you keep expectations low.


Really, at first, it seemed a long shot that Margaret Court Arena might get a name change. But the 24-time slam champ just keeps talking, piling up more and more dirt.

...and, finally, a win from just one of the three Hordettes in the 3rd Round was all that was needed, and a day before her other two countrywomen (Kasatkina & Vesnina) are even set to play, Sveta took care of things (well, it took a while) today all by herself. Kuznetsova's victory means we're officially assured that yet another major will have a Russian presence in the Round of 16. That makes it 65 of the last 67 slams, starting with the 2000 U.S. Open (with Elena Dementieva). The only two slams with no Hordettes in the 4th Round over the span have been the 2013 Wimbledon (the week of the original "Radwanskian Massacre") and 2016 U.S. Open (during Maria Sharapova's suspension, of course).

Jelena Ostapenko/LAT vs. #23 Samantha Stosur/AUS
x vs. #8 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
#4 Garbine Muguruza/ESP vs. #13 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
#10 Venus Williams/USA vs. #30 Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x

Being a Parisian is going to a boulangerie every morning to get ????

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Dinara Safina, RUS (2 MP down in 4r, 2 MP down in QF; reached final)
Victoria Azarenka, BLR (down 7-5/4-1 in 3r, match susp./darkness; reached QF)
Samantha Stosur, AUS (down MP in QF; reached final)
Maria Sharapova, RUS (down 6-3/4-1 in 2r; reached SF)
Victoria Azarenka, BLR (down 7-6/4-0 in 1r; avoided earlier #1 exit; reached 4r)
Marion Bartoli, FRA (down break 3 times in 1st & 2 MP in 3rd in 1r; 4-1 1st & break in 2nd set in 2r)
Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (down 3-1 in 3rd set, opp.served for match twice in 3r; to QF)
Elina Svitolina, UKR (down 6-1/3-0, 4-1 in 3rd set in 2r; wins 9-7)
Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL (down 6-2/3-0 vs. A-Rad 4r; wins 1st 10 games two days later)
Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1st Rd.- down 3-0 in 3rd to Brady, wins 9-7; 3rd Rd. - down 5-2 in 3rd, wins 8-6 vs. Rogers)

1.Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State [USA]
2.Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt [AUS]
3.Hayley Carter , North Carolina [USA]
4.Ena Shibahara, UCLA [USA]
5.Belinda Woolcock, Florida [AUS]
6.Blair Shankle, Baylor [USA]
7.Sydney Campbell, Vanderbilt [USA]
8.Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech [ROU]
9.Brienne Minor, Michigan [USA]
10.Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State [UKR]

TOP QUALIFIER: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #23 Samantha Stosur/AUS
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): 1st Rd. - #13 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Jennifer Brady/USA 3-6/6-3/9-7 (back injury; down 3-0 in 3rd; on third attempt to serve out match)
FIRST VICTORY: Petra Kvitova/CZE (def. Boserup/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Roberta Vinci/ITA (1st Rd.-lost to Puig/PUR)
UPSET QUEENS: South Americans (Duque Marino/COL & Cepede Royg/PAR)
REVELATION LADIES: Muslim woman (LL Jabeur/TUN first Arab in 3rd Rd.; Buyukakcay/TUR 1st Rd. win for second straight year)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (2-5 in 1st Round; Kerber first #1 out so early)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: In 3rd Rd.: Martic, Mattek-Sands(L)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: In 3rd Rd.: Cornet, Garcia, Mladenovic(W)
IT "??": Nominees: Bellis, Kasatkina, Ostapenko, Mladenovic
CRASH & BURN: #1 Angelique Kerber/GER (first #1-ranked woman to lost RG 1st Rd.; first at any slam since '01)
ZOMBIE QUEEN OF PARIS: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA (1st Rd.- down 3-0 in 3rd to Brady, wins 9-7; 3rd Rd. - down 5-2 in 3rd, wins 8-6 vs. Rogers)
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominees: V.Williams, Hsieh, Kuznetsova, Stosur, Sevastova
Légion de Lenglen HONOREE: Nominee: Mladenovic, Garcia, Jabeur, Muguruza, Kuznetsova

Artist: Paul Thurlby

All for Day 6. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

Stosur has found her voice this year--for better and worse. She is such an articulate woman, I suppose it had to come. The nastiness toward Maria, though, still surprises me. It just didn't "feel" like Sam.

Speaking of, I found myself more or less "cheering" for Mladenovic. If I think about just her tennis, I can do that. But I don't ever recall having sort of cheered for someone I consider--well, you know.

Fri Jun 02, 06:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Actually think that the Aussies will wait until Court passes to change the name.

Stat of the Day-9-The number of career main draw wins for Mallory Burdette.

With a post about college tennis and a week in which ex-UCLA star Jennifer Brady almost pulled off the upset of the week, it behooves me to go on a mini rant about how college tennis fails the WTA. And Burdette, in a way, shows both the good and the bad.

Burdette is the most successful college champion in terms of ranking since Laura Granville. Granville, the 2000-1 champ, reached a high of 28. Burdette and Nicole Gibbs both reached 68. Three of those wins were against Lisicki, Bacsinszky and Mladenovic, so she had talent. But injuries and burnout added to a short career, in which she lost her last 8 matches.

Now Burdette only won the doubles title with Gibbs, so Gibbs is the one that I used for ranking the USO MD WC.

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players was the tag used in the early years of Saturday Night Live. For the college singles winner that has got the WC at the USO, they have lived up, or down to that. Since 2009, the college winner has won 28 games in 7 years, as they didn't give a WC to the foreign Jana Juricova(Cal). Only one time have they won a set(Danielle Collins). It is at the point that a Q WC would be safer because they are getting smashed. Compare that to Burdette winning 26 games in 2012 and Bea Capra winning 27 in 2010. Both of those runs were stopped by Sharapova.

Where in other sports, colleges bring over foreign talent to hone them for the pro level, like Aussie Ben Simmons going from LSU to the NBA, or the LPGA's Caroline Hedwall from Sweden to Oklahoma State to the tour, tennis fails.

Look at Lina Qostal, the woman from Morocco who ended up in the draw a couple of weeks ago and got rolled by doubles player Dabrowski 6-1, 6-0 for her 2nd career md win in singles. She plays for Penn, and has a 39-30 career record. At 56%, she is the college version of Kerber. I kid, Kerber is 60% this season.

So on a day where Bellis, who famously skipped Stanford to turn pro, is showing why college isn't needed for her, I will add another name-Kayla Day. Day needs to turn pro sooner than later. She doesn't like to come into net, and the things she needs work on are the Niculescu/Radwanska/Zheng type games. She isn't going to get that on a college level.

Fri Jun 02, 07:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I get that. Part of me wants to be "anti," but I've wanted to see just what an "in form and ready" Mladenovic could really do for long that I end up just letting things play out and going with whatever happens. Well, with a few jabs when necessary. Although, some of the notes I've made for each day's post about her have generally been a good deal stronger than what I actually used. ;)

In my pre-RG picks, I had Muguruza playing Mladenovic, and I went with Kiki. While I guess I'd rather see Garbi now, you know, it's always nice to be right, too. :D

I felt that at the start of the week, too. I figured the most that would happen would be subtle signs of support (such as Robson's rainbow headband when she played there in '12) over even some sort of MCA boycott in 2018.

But. She. Just. Won't. Keep. Her. Mouth. Shut. At some point, even Tennis Australia might get fed up with the bad press. With no basis for it whatsoever, I'd still go 70%-30% (75-25?) that it wouldn't be changed anytime soon. But we'll see, I guess.

Interestingly, we're now seeing a men's NCAA champ (Stevie Johnson) actually making headway on the ATP tour. Of course, he may be a real exception.

Fri Jun 02, 08:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Mugu vs. Kiki could end up being an early "final." I'm so into it, sleep problems and all, I'll probably get up if they put it on at 11 (4 am my time). But I'm hoping to catch a break there.

Fri Jun 02, 09:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Hoergren said...

When do they put up lights at the French Open, so we don't have postponed matches because of darkness. Thunderclouds, trees and other things blocking the fading light. As TV viewer you can't judge how dark it is as the lenses are adjusting. Shame on French Open - let there be light! and let there be hawk eye too - seen a few matches where I think the umpire took the wrong spot and also occasions where I think it's the matter of good will judging the ball in and out. Fair play thanks!

Sat Jun 03, 12:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I'll really intrigued by that Halep/Kasatkina match on Saturday, too. It's sort of gotten lost in the shuffle. At least it's not the *first* match up on SL.

The roof(s) are supposed to be not too far away, which will allow some night tennis. Although I doubt if Wozniacki/Bellis would have been moved indoors anyway.

It was surprising that they went as long as they did, since it was apparently the darkest it's been at that hour all week long, and the schedule for Saturday would easily fit the match in with the other women's 3rd Rounders. Plus, I can't remember which men's match it was earlier this week, but the two players there were able to talk the supervisor into stopping things when it apparently wasn't all that dark, and nearly a full set more might have been played.

Sat Jun 03, 12:47:00 AM EDT  
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