Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Latvian Thunder Rolls

Consider us thunderstruck. Latvian Thunderstruck.

Though this year's Roland Garros kicked off without numerous big names in the draw, leaving open the possibility -- and maybe likelihood -- that a maiden slam champ would be crowned on the final weekend, the end result *still* turned out to be a surprise. A bevy of established veterans, former #1's, and previous as well as future major title winners all failed to seize control of the Paris stage over the course of the tournament's two-week run. But Jelena Ostapenko did. In fact, the 19- 20-year old and her monster (though hardly flawless, not that it mattered in the end) forehand were never anything short of a constant source of wonder throughout. A Force of Nature out of Riga, world #47 Ostapenko grabbed the moment by the throat, then proceeded to strangle the life out of it until it slumped to her feet on the terre battue surface of Chatrier Court.

In the final, with a sly smile and her heart on her sleeve, Ostapenko closed out this Roland Garros the same way she'd played it from Day 1... without an ounce of fear, nor any desire to agonize about or overthink any lost opportunities. For the unseeded Latvian, redemption was always and forever just one thunderous groundstroke away.

Her opponent in the women's final, 2014 RG runner-up Simona Halep, has spent the spring clay court season trying to ingrain the sort of positive vibes and ability to "move on" from mistakes that Ostapenko seems to have come by naturally. For the Romanian, though, it's been a trial by fire -- including a brief split with coach Darren Cahill when he became fed up with her defeatist attitude -- to replace her own natural on-court negativity and perfectionist tendencies with something that propped her up in times of strife in the middle of a match rather than hasten a bitter end to the proceedings. Up until Saturday, it seemed to have worked. She'd been arguably *the* in-form player of the spring, had coaxed Cahill back into the fold, and at times appeared to reach her full height in Paris. Showing no signs of her Rome ankle injury, she even managing to win after falling behind 6-3/5-1 and facing a match point in the QF against the clay season's *other* top player, Elina Svitolina. It was a comeback that proved that Halep's new course was true, validating her efforts to change. But after the victory she still needed two additional wins to claim her first slam title, as well as the #1 ranking (a first for a Romanian woman). The #3 seed, though she'd never faced Ostapenko, arrived for the final with an edge in experience. She said after her semifinal win over Karolina Pliskova (who, too, has been playing for the #1 ranking), "I'm not finished," though she'd admit after today's match that she'd been an emotional mess for twenty-four hours heading into Saturday, feeling the "heaviness" of the moment as it weighed on her shoulders and mind.

Just out of her teen years for a few days (she celebrated her 20th with a semifinal win over Timea Bacsinszky, who turned 28 on the same day), Ostapenko entered the final never having won a tour singles title. 0-3 in finals the last three seasons, she last came up short in an all-teen battle with Daria Kasatkina for the Charleston crown in April. Firing dozens of winners -- and, usually, committing just as many unforced errors -- Ostapenko's attacking groundstroke game had already allowed her to take down a former slam winner (Samantha Stosur) and former #1 (Caroline Wozniacki) in Paris, becoming the youngest major finalist since the vanquished Dane at the U.S. Open in 2009 and the first unseeded player to be one win away from the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen since 1983 (so long ago that the nation that the player, Yugoslav Mima Jausovec, represented has ceased to exist for longer than the Latvian has been alive). To defeat a player seeking to match the accomplishments of both Stosur and Wozniacki, Ostapenko would have to emerge in a battle of opposing styles of play.

Ostapenko's big-shot/big-risk game would generally seem more comfortable on grass and hard courts, surfaces that she understandably lists as her favorites. Before this season, she'd won a total of two main draw WTA matches on red clay in her career, and only six in total when she showed up at Roland Garros knowing it'd take *seven* to secure the title. But her footwork and body control, keys on the clay, are underrated, having been honed by years of ballroom dancing training (yep), and her Paris stint with player/coach Anabel Medina-Garrigues has helped to shape her ability to strategize and harness her power on the surface, while still allowing it be *the* most lethal weapon in every match she played over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Halep's patient, defensive-minded (spiked with well-timed aggression) and consistent game is a perfect fit for the surface, and her speedy athleticism makes her quite possibly the best clay courter in the women's game. Already a junior RG champ (2008) and previous women's finalist, she would be right to target Roland Garros as the most likely site of her maiden slam title run. Both women share the liability of having issues when it comes to holding serve, being especially susceptible to having opponents attack their second serves, making the ability of both to "keep in their lane" and do what they do *best* throughout the day even more important.

The final, case of the Latvian's sometimes overwhelming force vs. the Romanian's hopefully-unrelenting will, would play out as a day-long battle to see which style would be the most effective and hold up the longest. It was a quickly-moving, just-under-two-hour encounter, a three-setter somewhat surprisingly loaded with the sort of short points that would seem to favor Ostapenko, but didn't for much of the day as the Lavtian's unforced error totals climbed, preventing her from surging ahead, while her winner numbers did the same, keeping her in the match until the moment came for her to truly strike. For the first set and a half, the 25-year old Halep weathered the barrage of huge shots from her younger opponent, and remained steady as she keep just enough ahead to see the finish line not so far away. But Ostapenko was unbowed by her errors and missed opportunities, smirking and/or glaring after a missed shot, but immediately moving on to the next point and leaving her disappointment behind a moment later. At one point, Halep seemed to find herself in a "commanding" lead position, but her failure to convert multiple chances to go up a set and double-break opened the match's door a crack. Not only for Ostapenko to shoulder her way through, but also for the "old" Simona to stick her foot through the opening and get some measure of revenge against her host after being locked in a dark room for much of the spring. With new life, and no outward hint of nerves, Ostapenko took the moment and ran with it... all the way to the finish.

In the opening set, with neither deviating from their established plan of attack, Halep ultimately edged out Ostapenko. The Latvian opened the first game flashing her booming power, firing multiple winners to break at love, only to fall behind love/40 and ultimately give back the break a game later on a forehand error. Four of the first six games featured breaks of serve. Ostapenko missed a backhand down the line on BP in game #7, and Halep held for 4-3. The Latvian led 40/15 a game later, but saw the game go to deuce (she was already "up" 17-1 in unforced errors in the match) before getting her own service hold. As would be the case throughout the day, it would be Ostapenko who was be the focus of attention. When she was in rhythm, her power usually prevailed. When she lost, it was because she missed. Halep was able to drive her groundstrokes deep into the court and use her defense to force a few more shots in the rally, often producing an error, but things were still behind dictated by Ostapenko's level of play. She led 14-1 in winners at the close of the 1st set, as well as 23-2 in UE's. On average, the rallies were short, but her error totals prevented her from taking a lead, as did her 27% winning percentage on her second serve (on par with Halep's own 25%). After the Romanian held for 5-4, she went up 15/30 on Ostapenko's serve after reaching a drop shot and forcing an error. She attacked the Latvian's second serve, producing another error, to reach set point. A long Ostapenko forehand gave it to her at 6-4.

Early in the 2nd, the recipe continued to work for Halep. Playing within herself, she was weathering Ostapenko's power, waiting for and getting the errors that helped her maintain a scoreboard lead. But Ostapenko never stopped firing those big shots, even as a flash of brilliance would soon be offset by a momentum-thwarting error. Eventually, though, her I'm-not-going-to-stop-so-try-and-stop-me mentality would start to pay off.

Halep held from love/40 down in game #1, aided by two Ostapenko forehand errors and her own service winner. The Latvian saved a BP with a lashing forehand down the line, but overshot a backhand on game point. Back-to-back errors gave the break to the Romanian. In game #3, though, a hint of the change to follow would be seen. Halep nearly held at love, as an Ostapenko error sent both headed to the changeover area with the Romanian up 3-0. The call was then changed by the chair umpire. Halep still held for 3-0, but the game went to deuce. In retrospect, one might wonder if the game produced a tickle in the back of Halep's perfectionist's mind.

She needed to squash it. But she didn't.

A game later, at 30/30, Ostapenko reached GP, and Halep tossed her racket as she walked to the backcourt. After not having a perfect hold in the previous game, it was clear that she wouldn't get one here, either... and it bothered her, just like it used to. Ostapenko's error (30-3 UE's) one point later was followed by Halep getting three chances to break for a double-break lead at 4-0 in the 2nd, but the Latvian held for 3-1. Though she still had the lead, Halep seemed to blink in the face of her final rush to a championship. Suddenly, her shots were no longer landing quite as deep, allowing Ostapenko to better impose her power upon her. She jumped on a Halep second serve and fired a backhand winner to go up 15/40 a game later, then Halep's error on BP #2 made it 3-2. With the door now officially ajar, Ostapenko fell behind 15/40, but dialed back her first serves just enough to avoid giving Halep the chance to jump on a 2nd serve and get the break lead back. She held for 3-3, then got the break a game later by moving into the net for a put-away shot angled out of Halep's reach. With her fourth straight game, Ostapenko led 4-3. She immediately gave the break back with her own errors, but used a big return game to take a love/40 lead in game #9. A Halep error handed Ostapenko a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve out the set. With a forehand winner, the Latvian reached triple SP at 40/love. Ostapenko then ended a multi-shot crosscourt rally with still another forehand winner to even the match, taking the 2nd set at 6-4.

Halep recovered from the dropped set to hold from 15/40 down in the opening game of the 3rd, but she didn't change her tactics down the stretch, meaning that the course of what was to come would continue to be on Ostapenko's racket. With the lethal aspects of the Latvian's shot gradually increasing as the match had gone on, it was just a matter of time. As long as she could keep her nerve, that is.

Ostapenko admitted to being nervous after the match. But, on the outside, the youngster seemed to practically laugh at the thought.

Halep held onto her early lead, breaking via an Ostapenko error for 3-1. But the Latvian got the break back with a return winner, and never looked back. Serving at deuce, she fired her third ace of the day, then held for 3-3 with a backhand winner. In game #7, Ostapenko's huge return gave her a love/30 lead. At 15/40, in a moment that sort of sums up her RG run in a nutshell, the Latvian saw an unforced error turn into a sudden winner when her backhand down the line was so off-target that it nearly hit the net post, only to smack into the doubles alley-section of the net cord with such overwhelming force that it flew high into the air, angled back toward the court and still had enough power behind it to cross over the net onto Halep's side of the net, bouncing in the short corner of the deuce court to hand Ostapenko the break for a 4-3 lead. While a shocked Ostapenko threw up her arms to "apologize," Halep trudged to the changeover area, likely recognizing that while she'd "blinked" in the middle of the 2nd set, the fates now seemed squarely against her.

Ostapenko's 50th winner gave her a 30/15 lead in game #8, and she held with another winner (a backhand) for 5-3. The Latvian's second serve return blasted off the Romanian's racket to give her a 15/30 lead a game later. She missed on a rocket forehand return attempt that would have given her a match point, but the misfire didn't hold her back. She got the benefit of a mishit return winner to reach MP, then fired a backhand return winner down the line to close things out, winning 4-6/6-4/6-3.

"At some point I was like a spectator on court," Halep admitted after the loss, acknowledging Ostapenko's ability to fire the ball out of range of her opponent (or, you know, into the net or past the baseline). And, to be sure, the thunder and lightning coming off the Latvian Force of Nature's racket didn't let up against the Romanian in the final. Her 54 UE's were equaled by her 54 winners (Halep was 8/10), meaning she accumulated 299 total winners in the event. An average of 42.7 per match. On red clay, no less.

One has to feel bad for Halep, and hope that this defeat won't be a setback for long in her efforts to become a "new Simona." She started Roland Garros with questions about her health, but answered them all, as well as most lingering wonders about the true nature of her attitude adjustment. She'll rise to #2 in the rankings, but will remember that her second opportunity to win a title in Paris ended just as her first did three years ago, with a loss in the final.

With a downbeat tone to her voice, Halep tried to be positive in the post-match ceremony. Calling it "a tough day," she nonetheless implored her team to "keep working. And let's believe." "I've been sick in my stomach with emotions for playing this final," she said, "So maybe I was not ready to win it." Saying she hoped to play another final in the future, only to finally *win* it. "It's my dream."

So, she's *still* not finished. But it'll only make the moment more amazing when she finally gets there. If she can remain positive, she will, too.

The Romanian, knowing how hard it is to have the honor of such a moment bestowed upon her, told Ostapenko to "enjoy it, be happy and keep it going because you're, like, a kid."

And she is. Technically.

But Ostapenko is also now a grand slam champion, and maybe one of the more unexpected -- and exciting -- ones in quite some time.

The first Latvian to win a major, she's the youngest RG winner since Iva Majoli in 1997, the youngest slam champ since Maria Sharapova in 2006, and the youngest first-timer since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2004. The first unseeded RG women's champ in the Open era, she's the first woman to make her maiden tour-level title a major since Barbara Jordan won in Australia in 1979. The last man to do the same? Guga Kuerten in Paris in 1997. On June 8, the day Ostapenko was born. Of course, this all happened on Ostapenko's worst surface, and she had to come back from 6-4/3-0, with three BP for 4-0, in the final to do it. She'll be #12 in the new rankings, and there's still room for improvement in her game. Quite a bit more, actually, and that's just where her serve in concerned.

I mean, what could she possibly do for an encore after all this?

Quite a bit more, maybe. While there have been surprise slam winners in the past, Ostapenko doesn't feel like a "fluke." It feels more like a slightly unformed, but still awesome, preview of what *could* be. Sort of like the 17-year old Maria Sharapova lived up to her much-talked-about promise at Wimbledon in 2004, or even how Boris Becker burst onto the scene at SW19 in 1985, age 17 and looking for all the world to be a natural at such awe-inspiring feats of tremendousness on a tennis court. Sort of how the Latvian often appeared in Paris. Ostapenko's run has the feel of being just a taste of what the her future may hold. Some day. Now, we wait and see how she handles it all.

Speaking of Wimbledon. Remember, *that* is where Ostapenko won her junior slam title and reached the mixed doubles final a year ago, and where her power game would seem to be even more appropriately rewarded.

In the end, the Latvian Thunder did indeed continue to roll. All the way through Paris. Where it stops, nobody knows.

=DAY 14 NOTES= the first all-Bannerette girls final in Paris in thirty-seven years (1980), #7-seed Whitney Osuigwe became the first U.S. winner of the RG junior title in twenty-eight years (Jennifer Capriati '89) with a 6-4/6-7(5)/6-3 victory over #6 Claire Liu. She joins Kayla Day (U.S. '16) as a reigning junior slam champ, the first time Bannerettes have won major girls titles over the span of a single year since 2012.

Canadians Bianca Andreescu & Carson Branstine backed up their AO girls doubles crown with a second in Paris. The #1-seeded duo defeated the Russian #2-seeds Olesya Pervushina & Anastasia Potapova, 6-1/6-3. The most recent duo to win the opening two junior slam doubles titles were Czechs Miriam Kolodziejova & Marketa Vondrousova in 2015. Before that it was Canada's own Sharon Fichman & Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 2006. wheelchair action, #2 seed Yui Kamiji picked up her fourth career slam singles crown (second at RG) with a win in the final over former Paris champ Sabine Ellerbrock, 7-5/6-4. The German lost in last year's RG final, as well. Already the '17 AO champ, the win from the 23-year old from Japan keeps alive the possibility of the first four-event Wheelchair Grand Slam singles season. Kamiji is a former U.S. Open champ (2014), while Jiske Griffioen won the inaugural Wimbledon singles competition last summer.

Kamiji swept the RG titles with an additional win in the doubles championship today alongside Marjolein Buis. The #2 seeds knocked off top-seeded Dutch duo Griffioen & Aniek van Koot 6-3/7-5 in today's final. Kamiji has won a share of ten of the last thirteen slam doubles crowns.

It's '16 RG singles champ Buis' first doubles win in Paris since she took the 2012 title playing alongside her soon-to-be Hall of Famer (tick-tock) countrywoman, Dutch superstar Esther Vergeer.

The clay courts at @rolandgarros were always great to play on! #rolandgarros #rg17

A post shared by Esther Vergeer (@esthervergeer) on the WTA 125 Series event in Bol, Croatia, it'll be The Bracelet, Aleksandra Krunic, playing in the final for her biggest career title against Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, competing in her biggest final since her lone tour-level final in Monterrey in 2012. Krunic defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia in the semis today, while Cadantu eliminated #2-seeded Mandy Minella. ITF action, well, well, well.

Apparently, winning breeds confidence. Go figure. After a year and a half of slippery-slope results that have taken her from being on the verge of the Top 20 to outside the Top 250, Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova has followed up her $25K title win in Grado, Italy last week with another run to a final this weekend in Stare Splavy, Czech Republic. She'll go for her second straight win in a match against Belarusian teen Vera Lapko.

In the $25K Essen final, it was...(wait for it)...Kaia Kanepi defeating Patty Schnyder, 6-3/6-7(5)/2-0 ret. Yes, *that* Kaia Kanepi and *that* Patty Schnyder. And, yes, it's *still* 2017. Playing in her first event in a year, the 32-year old Estonian won her first singles title of any kind since she claimed a $25K in Bangkok in 2015, when she defeated, yes, Schnyder in the final. The 38-year old Swiss was playing in her first ITF final since May 2016.

Meanwhile, two $100K challengers are being contested this week, as well. On the red clay in Marseille, German Tatjana Maria will face Italy's Jasmine Paolini in the final. On the grass in Surbiton, Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova will face Brit Heather Watson for the title. Rybarikova, still playing with a protected ranking (she's won two ITF titles in her comeback this spring, and has won 17 of her last 19 matches heading into Sunday), has already taken out the #5 (Chang Kai-Chen), #3 (Evgeniya Rodina) and #1 (Oceane Dodin) seeds, as well as Zarina Diyas (also using a PR in her comeback). Watson is the #6 seed in the tournament.

...LIKE ON DAY 14: AMG sharing the spotlight...

...LIKE ON DAY 14: Timea knew...

...LIKE ON DAY 14: Those sneaky Tennis Gods...

...LIKE ON DAY 14: Daughter Jelena and mom Jelena...


So many first-timers have learned that lesson the hard way. Hopefully, Ostapenko will continue to be too much of a Force of Nature to let it happen to her, as well.


Of course, it also means she'll avoid asinine headlines like this...

...and, finally... oh, well.


Jelena Ostapenko/LAT def. #3 Simona Halep/ROU 4-6/6-4/6-3

#1 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) vs. Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS)

#7 Dabrowski/Bopanna (CAN/IND) def. Groenefeld/Farah (GER/COL) 2-6/6-2 [12-10]

#7 Whitney Osuigwe/USA def. #6 Claire Liu/USA 6-4/6-7(5)/6-3

#1 Andreescu/Branstine (CAN/CAN ) def. #2 Pervushina/Potapova (RUS/RUS) 6-1/6-3

#2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER 7-5/6-4

#2 Buis/Kamiji (NED/JPN) def. #1 Griffioen/van Koot (NED/NED) 6-3/7-5

Could they meet on the grass in the next month?

At least Caro now knows she's no longer alone on Ostapenko Island. In some ways, she was the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" where the Latvian is concerned.

A preview of Dasha's match commentating future?

**FIRST-TIME SLAM CHAMPS - since 2010**
2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Roland Garros - Li Na, CHN
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova, CZE
2011 U.S. Open - Samantha Stosur, AUS
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Wimbledon - Marion Bartoli, FRA
2015 U.S. Open - Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber, GER
2016 Roland Garros - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 Roland Garros - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT

[Open Era]
1971 Evonne Goolagong, AUS
1974 Chris Evert, USA
1976 Sue Barker, GBR
1977 Mima Jausovec, SLO
1978 Virginia Ruzici, ROU
1987 Steffi Graf, GER
1989 Arantxa Sanchez, ESP
1990 Monica Seles, YUG
1997 Iva Majoli, CRO
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Anastasia Myskina, RUS
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Li Na, CHN
2016 Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
NOTE: Ann Haydon-Jones won first career slam at '61 Roland Garros, before Open era began in '68

2014 Australian Open: Li Na
...MP down vs. Safarova in 3rd Rd.
2015 Roland Garros: Serena Williams
...down 6-4/3-2 bk. vs. Bacsinszky SF; 2-0 3rd set in F vs. Safarova
2015 Wimbledon: Serena Williams
...down double-bk. 3-0 in 3rd vs. Watson 3rd Rd., who served at 5-4, 2 pts. from win
2016 Australian Open: Angelique Kerber
...down MP in 1st Rd. vs. Doi
2016 Wimbledon: Serena Williams
...down a break in 3rd set vs. McHale in 2nd Rd.
2016 U.S. Open: Angelique Kerber
...down 3-1 in 3rd set vs. Ka.Pliskova in Final
2017 Roland Garros: Jelena Ostapenko
...down 6-4/3-0, 3 BP for 4-0, vs. Halep in Final

Auckland - Lauren Davis, USA (23/#61)
Shenzhen - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (20/#52)
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (21/#127)
Saint Petersburg - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (23/#51)
Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty, AUS (20/#158)
Charleston - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (19/#42)
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (17/#233)

[singles champion]
17 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel)
19 - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (Charleston)
20 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (Shenzhen)
20 - Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur)
21 - Elise Mertens, BEL (Hobart)
[singles finalist]
17 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel-W)
19 - Ana Konjuh, CRO (Auckland-L)
19 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (Charleston-L)
19 - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (Charleston-W)
20 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (Shenzen-W)
20 - Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur-W)

Sue Barker, GBR (1974 Jr. W; 1976 Women's W)
Jennifer Capriati, USA (1989 Jr. W; 2001 Women's W)
Justine Henin, BEL (1997 Jr. W; 2003, '05-'07 Women's W)
Mima Jausovec, YUG (1973 Jr. W; 1977 Women's W)
Hana Mandlikova, TCH (1978 Jr. W; 1981 Women's W)
[best others]
Martina Hingis, SUI (1993-94 Jr. W; 1997/99 Women's RU)
Natasha Zvereva, USSR (1987 Jr. W; 1988 Women's RU)
Renata Tomanova, TCH (1972 Jr. W; 1976 Women's RU)
Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2001 Jr. RU; 2009 Women's W)
Simona Halep, ROU (2008 Jr. W; 2014/17 Women's RU)

[Australian Open]
1989 Kim Kessaris def. Andrea Farley
[Roland Garros]
1980 Kathy Horvath def. Kelly Henry
2017 Whitney Osuigwe def. Claire Liu
1977 Lea Antonpolis def. Mareen "Peanut" Louie
1979 Mary-Lou Piatek def. Alycia Moultron
[U.S. Open]
1979 Alycia Moulton def. Mary-Lou Piatek
1980 Susan Mascarin def. Kathrin Keil
1981 Zina Garrison def. Kate Gompert
1982 Beth Herr def. Gretchen Rush
1986 Elly Hakami def. Shaun Stafford
1992 Lindsay Davenport def. Julie Steven

AO: Karolina Pliskova, CZE
RG: Elina Svitolina, UKR
WI: Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
US: Daria Gavrilova, RUS
AO: An-Sophie Mestach, BEL
RG: Ons Jabeur, TUN
WI: Ashleigh Barty, AUS
AO: Grace Min, USA
AO: Taylor Townsend, USA
RG: Annika Beck, GER
WI: Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
US: Samantha Crawford, USA
AO: Ana Konjuh, CRO
RG: Belinda Bencic, SUI
WI: Belinda Bencic, SUI
US: Ana Konjuh, CRO
AO: Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
RG: Darya Kasatkina, RUS
WI: Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
US: Maria Bouzkova, CZE
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
RG: Whitney Osuigwe, USA

1998 Nadia Petrova/RUS def. Jelena Dokic/AUS
1999 Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP def. Stephanie Foretz/FRA
2000 Virginie Razzano/FRA def. Maria-Emilia Salerni/ARG
2001 Kaia Kanepi/EST def. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
2002 Angelique Widjaja/INA def. Ashley Harkleroad/USA
2003 Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER def. Vera Dushevina/RUS
2004 Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL def. Madalina Gojnea/ROU
2005 Agnes Szavay/HUN def. Raluca Olaru/ROU
2006 Aga Radwanska/POL def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
2007 Alize Cornet/FRA def. Mariana Duque-Marino/COL
2008 Simona Halep/ROU def. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Daria Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN def. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER def. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI def. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Daria Kasatkina/RUS def. Ivana Jorovic/SRB
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert/ESP def. Anna Kalinskaya/RUS
2016 Rebeka Masarova/SUI def. Amanda Anisimova/USA
2017 Whitney Osuigwe/USA def. Claire Liu/USA

1999 Flavia Pennetta & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2000 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez & Anabel Medina Garrigues, ESP/ESP
2001 Petra Cetkovska & Renata Voracova, CZE/CZE
2002 Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Barbora Strycova, GER/CZE
2003 Marta Fraga & Adriana Gonzales, ESP/ESP
2004 Katerina Bohmova & Michaella Krajicek, CZE/NED
2005 Victoria Azarenka & Agnes Szavay, BLR/HUN
2006 Sharon Fichman & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, CAN/RUS
2007 Ksenia Milevskaya & Urszula Radwanska, BLR/POL
2008 Polona Hercog & Jessica Moore, SLO/AUS
2009 Elena Bogdan & Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, ROU/THA
2010 Timea Babos & Sloane Stephens, HUN/USA
2011 Irina Khromacheva & Maryna Zanevska, RUS/UKR
2012 Daria Gavrilova & Irina Khromacheva, RUS/RUS
2013 Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2014 Ioana Ducu & Ioana Loredana Rosca, ROU/ROU
2015 Miriam Kolodziejova & Marketa Vondrouosva, CZE/CZE
2016 Paula Arias Manjon & Olga Danilovic, ESP/SRB
2017 Bianca Andreescu & Carson Branstine, CAN/CAN

2007 Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (RU)
2008 Simona Halep, ROU (W) & Elena Bogdan, ROU (RU)
2009 Daria Gavrilova, RUS (RU)
2010 Elina Svitolina, UKR (W)
2011 Monica Puig, PUR (RU)
2012 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK (RU)
2013 Belinda Bencic, SUI (W)
2014 Daria Kasatkina, RUS (W)
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP (W)
2016 Rebeka Masarova, SUI (W)
2017 Whitney Osuigwe/USA (W) and Claire Liu/USA (RU) [1st all-U.S. Final since '80]

2007 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 Esther Vergeer, NED
2009 Esther Vergeer, NED
2010 Esther Vergeer, NED
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 Esther Vergeer, NED
2013 Sabine Ellerbrock, GER
2014 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 Jiske Griffioen, NED
2016 Marjolein Buis, NED
2017 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2007 Maaike Smit & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2008 Jiske Griffioen & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2009 Korie Homan & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2010 Daniela Di Toro & Aniek van Koot, AUS/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer & Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2012 Marjolein Buis & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2013 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2014 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2015 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2016 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2017 Marjolein Buis & Yui Kamiji, NED/JPN

TOP QUALIFIER: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #23 Samantha Stosur/AUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #3 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): Jelena Ostapenko/LAT
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)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #3 Simona Halep/ROU def. #5 Elina Svitolina/UKR 3-6/7-6(6)/6-0 (down 6-3/5-1, Svitolina served twice for match and had MP in TB)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F): Final - Jelena Ostapenko def. #3 Simona Halep/ROU 4-6/6-4/6-3 (down 6-4/3-0, 3 BP for 4-0)
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 PASTRY STANDING: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA and Caroline Garcia/FRA (both QF)
MADEMOISELLE OPPORTUNITY: Simona Halep/ROU and Karolina Pliskova/CZE
IT "Teen": Jelena Ostapenko/LAT
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)
DOUBLES STAR: Gaby Dabrowski/CAN
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominees: Dellacqua, Mattek-Sands/Safarova
JUNIOR BREAKOUTS: Whitney Osuigwe/USA and Claire Liu/USA (first all-U.S. RG final since 1980)
Légion de Lenglen HONOREE: Caroline Garcia/FRA

Artist: Paul Thurlby

All for Day 14. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

I know I sound like a broken record, but there are solutions to the "sick in my stomach" problems, and they are neither complicated nor overly time-consuming. Why aren't they being offered to players?

On another subject: Go. Schmiedy.

Sat Jun 10, 08:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

You know, it'd probably only take one big name following that path, talking about it and being successful, then it wouldn't seem so big a deal. Remember when so many raised their eyebrows when Djokovic went gluten-free? Not the same thing, of course, but still.

Sun Jun 11, 12:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Yes, the crystal ball broke.

The amusing thing about Ostapenko and the dancing is that her birthplace of Riga is the same as Mikhail Baryshnikov.

With apologies to Bud Collins, I am calling her backhand the Latvian Laser.

Nations with multiple players in the upcoming Top 20-USA 3, Czech Republic-3,Russia-3, Latvia-2

3rd set had a similarity to the Sharapova/Halep match. the only difference was that Sharapova was a foot inside the baseline, while Ostapenko was a foot outside. But both were in the middle, forcing Halep to go from side to side.

This one is a little strange, hope you enjoy it. Stat of the Day-2-The number of Gold Gloves won by former MLB player Graig Nettles.

Now you may wonder what Nettles has to do with Latvia? This is a stretch, but there isn't much new with Ostapenko, Sevastova, Neiland, Dekmeijere or Gulbis. So what comes to mind is Nettles, who once said "E5 is listed so much with me that I thought it was part of my name." The applies to Ostapenko, who will forever be known as Jelena Ostapenko, the first Latvian to... Especially since she has already had that name for three years.

Nettles was born in San Diego, and when he was born, and drafted in 1965 in the first MLB Draft, San Diego did not have a team. 19 years later in his first year in San Diego, he helped lead the Padres to their first World Series. Maybe Latvia gets a WTA tournament in 19 years.

Nettles was a 6 time All Star, and won 2 World Series. But even with the 2 Gold Gloves, he was in the Top 10 in errors 7 times. He also was in the Top 10 of fielding pct 12 times. Sometimes you make more errors because you have more range and get to more balls. So the error count stays high. This applies to Ostapenko, as she leads the tour in DF's, and was 2nd last year. Also makes a ton of errors, but they seem to be when she comes into net. With her style, she is never going to have a low error count, so stats won't do her justice.

Halep can also learn from Nettles, as she really doesn't have to change her game, just close. Known as a defensive player, he led the AL in home runs in 1976 with 32. Like Halep's low winners total, it doesn't matter if you win. There hasn't been a lower total since in a non strike year. And that total was tied 5 times previously, but there hasn't been a lower winning one since 1945.

Of course I needed an old stat, since Ostapenko was the first unseeded player to win the French since 1933, when Margaret Scriven beat, in an 8 seed field, #3 Simona, oops, I mean #3 Simonne Mathieu. Scriven became the first lefty to win a slam.

Sun Jun 11, 10:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

A thing I was too tired to Tweet last night was that if BC were with us, I wonder if he would call her the Latvian Laser. Great minds?....

Sun Jun 11, 10:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

I'll take it. First time my mind has ever been called great.

Diane, might as well get your take on Halep. Obviously I view things through a sports lens, but she sounds defeated/depressed, as though she has disappointed all of Romania.

And with your earlier comment. I have heard of sports psychology, but more with athletes dealing with injury and trying to get in the correct mindframe.

Sun Jun 11, 11:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Some nice video of Graig Nettles in the '78 World Series, by the way: here. ;)

Sun Jun 11, 11:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

colt: I do believe that Halep has turned a corner psychologically; the extradinary defeat of Svitolina proved it. But sometimes the brain-wiring is stubborn, so the body has more junk to carry. Hence, the nausea, etc. From what I know (which is, of course, limited), I would say that Halep has successfullly changed her attitude, but her brain chemistry hasn't caught up. This must be very frustrating for her. It happens all the time--you think you've conquered something mentally, but the old stuff comes back to get you. I go through that and know how it feels.

I don't know how broad a sports psycholgist's interventions are (I've asked this question several times), but I can't help but suspect that maybe they aren't broad enough. But again--I don't know.

Hypnosis would greatly benefit Halep and others (Czech?) who have so much trouble with nerves/expectations. So would the use of guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness exercises. I like to think all the top players are already doing yoga or tai chi, but it wouldn't shock me to learn otherwise. A yoga practice would be at the top of my list as an intervention.

I also get the feeling that Halep takes everything way too seriously, much in the way that Henin did. But Henin had a killer instinct that neutralized her darker side.

(And I think that Ostapenko was like a tsunami on an already tense day.)

Sun Jun 11, 12:52:00 PM EDT  

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