Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Caracas Conqueror

Twenty-three years ago, a Spanish woman showed up at Centre Court and ripped a storybook slam singles title from the clutches of a 37-year old Wimbledon legend, denying her a chance to relive her former glory one more time. Today, it happened again.

In 1994, when Conchita Martinez defeated all-time great Martina Navratilova in the aforementioned SW19 Ladies final, Garbine Muguruza was a nine-month old Venezuelan. Born in Caracas the previous October, Muguruza would first wield a tennis racket at age three, move to Spain along with her family at age six, where she'd train at the Bruguera Tennis Academy near Barcelona and ultimately decide to represent her adopted nation as she began her tennis career. In 2015, she became the first Spanish woman since the Martinez/Sanchez glory years to reach a slam singles final, falling to Serena Williams at Wimbledon. A season later, she'd defeat Williams to claim her maiden slam crown at Roland Garros. Thirteen months later, on the third Saturday of July, she played in another Wimbledon championship match, this time against another Williams, 37-year old Venus, who was looking to cap off yet another of her recent resurgent runs with her eighth career slam win, her first major title since 2008 and one which would make her the oldest women to win a slam singles crown in the Open era. But serving as the "secret weapon" in Muguruza's corner -- her players box, in fact, serving as her coach while Sam Sumyk has been away -- was none other than Spanish Fed Cup Captain Martinez, who knows a little something about defeating a 37-year old legend with "USA" next to her name on the most fabled tennis court in the world.

It was almost as if history was destined to repeat itself. And it did, too.

Williams arrived on the final Saturday of play with a racket bag filled with history, and looking to add still more. In her ninth Wimbledon final, twenty years after her SW19 debut, she was playing in her second slam final of 2017 alone, having lost to Serena in January as her 35-year old sister became the oldest Open era slam champ. After coming into the fortnight riding a wave of unwelcome headlines following her involvement in a tragic auto accident in Florida in June, she altered the narrative of her story by turning back the clock with a series of vintage performances in which she expertly downed two rising teenagers, the 20-year old reigning Roland Garros champion, and Britain's first female Wimbledon semifinalist in thirty-nine years, serving with great force and firing penetrating forehands with a furious tenacity that allowed her to control the court against her much younger opponents, handcuffing their ability to adequately fight for their Wimbledon lives.

But would all that Williams had going for her be enough to overcome Muguruza, who'd been displaying a Serena-like dominance for most of the tournament? The 23-year old, while garnering far fewer headlines, had gone about *her* business at this tournament with a ruthless efficiency. Free of the self-imposed shackles that her year-long stint as RG champ turned out to be -- she was playing in her very first final since winning in Paris in 2016 -- Muguruza had for two weeks controlled her sometimes troublesome mental game while also flashing a nearly untouchable physical one, especially on serve, where she was broken just four times in six matches, three of those coming in her 4th Round clash with then-#1 Angelique Kerber before the Spaniard finally ended her stay atop the WTA rankings. She'd lost just one of thirteen sets while advancing to her third career slam fnal.

In the first Wimbledon women's singles final to take place under the Centre Court roof, in front of a throng of tennis luminaries that included the likes of Billie Jean King and, yes, Navratilova, both woman arrived hoping to impose their game on the other, to control the rallies with power strokes that would thwart any aggressive tendencies that their opponent might wish to employ. What happened, though, was a 1 set which would often be a contest in which one, and then the other, attempted to corral a wayward forehand wing, hoping that it wouldn't become a lethal liability on the biggest points of the day. Ultimately, the match turned on a proverbial dime, as Muguruza battled her way out of a corner when her back was seemingly plastered against the wall, then used the momentum she achieved to grab a bigger advantage, quickly seizing total control of the match. As her game strengthened, that of Williams began to lose the strong grip it'd shown throughout this Wimbledon and, in the end, left Venus to lament her missed opportunity late in the opening set in a game that turned out to be *the* key swing moment of the final. While Williams' latest fairytale run came to an end by the close of the day, Muguruza had managed to start yet another chapter in a story of her own that is largely still unwritten.

In contrast to how she'd finish it, Muguruza was a little shaky at the start of the match. Venus, meanwhile, was not. She fired a ace on the very first point. A long Muguruza forehand of a Williams 2nd serve gave her the opportunity to secure the hold, which she did with a backhand winner down the line. The Spaniard then double-faulted to begin game #2. But she quickly recovered, moving forward and putting away a backhand volley to go up 40/15, then utilizing a body serve to kick off a point that included a series of big shots from both women from the baseline, then ended with Muguruza venturing inside the lines to execute a drop shot from the middle of the court to hold for 1-1. While the Spaniard would continue to hold serve to stay even in the set, she did so while overcoming a series of forehand errors. But when the moments were big, she maintained her focus and kept the ball in the court. It would be a skill that would serve her well in the second half of the opening set.

After a DF to even the game #6 score at 30/30 (she'd hit a DF on both of her first two second serves of the match), Muguruza saw a Williams forehand passing shot produce the first break point of the day. But Venus netted an open forehand shot down the line. A Muguruza ace and long Williams forehand got the hold for 3-3. Venus would save a BP on her own serve a game later with Muguruza's long forehand return of a deep second serve. Overcoming a few DF in the game, Williams' ace got her to game point, and she secured the hold.

Serving down 5-4, back-to-back Muguruza forehand errors put her behind 15/40, giving Venus a pair of break point/set point opportunities. But, when the stakes were their highest, the Spaniard got control of her forehand, winning a big-hitting, 19-shot rally that ended with a Williams error. A long Venus forehand return on SP #2 got things back to deuce. She held for 5-5 after another forehand error from Williams, then got her own BP chance a game later when Venus netted a forehand down the line. A wild Muguruza forehand squandered her first chance, but on her second of the game, on a point in which Venus had been moving the Spaniard side to side along the baseline, Williams pulled a forehand out and Muguruza grabbed a break lead at 6-5.

We didn't know it at the time, but at that point the match was over, as Williams wouldn't win another game.

Muguruza's defensive lob turned into an offensive winner when it carried over Venus' shoulder without an attempt to take it out of the air, landing in the corner. Williams saved a SP with a forehand winner, but a backhand into the net game Muguruza the set at 7-5.

With a 1-7 record in slam finals after dropping the opening set, Williams already found herself in a tough situation after losing her lead and failing to close out the 1st. But then the 2nd set saw more and more errors creep into her game just as Muguruza's own level of play began to resemble the dominating force it'd been in the first six rounds of this Wimbledon. Often looking off balance, sometimes because of Muguruza's shot and sometimes not, Williams struggled to hold in the opening game. After saving one BP, she fired an ace on another, only to see Muguruza successfully challenge it and force her to re-serve, then she double-faulted to fall down a break at 1-0. In Venus' next service game, Muguruza's backhand pass off a Williams deep approach shot put her up 15/30. A backhand winner down the line off another approach shot gave her a BP at 30/40. Williams knocked a volley attempt wide and she was suddenly down two breaks at 3-0.

With a look of determination on her face and the confident body language that have become a common sight at this Wimbledon, Muguruza would not be slowed. She held for 4-0, then saw Williams' now error-strewn arsenal lead to a love/40 advantage. A backhand down the line gave Muguruza a triple break lead at 5-0. Her dominance at this event was no longer a "quiet" one. In control of all within her reach, she took a 40/love lead while trying to serve out the title. It took her three MP attempts to get the job done, with a failed replay challenge on the first, then ending with a successful one on the third that overturned a bad line call of a Williams baseline shot, but she once again closed the door without a break in stride. The call change, somewhat anticlimactically, ended the match, but it made Muguruza's 7-5/6-0 victory official.

With the win, Muguruza becomes the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon since Martinez and the first to become a multiple slam winner since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won her second crown at Roland Garros in '94, a month before Martinez's sole win in London. Muguruza is now the only player to defeat BOTH Williams Sisters in a slam final. Her blistering, nine-straight-games finish here to close out a magical two-week run of phenomenon performances will return her to the Top 5 on Monday, and her second career slam title will once again place her squarely in the middle of the discussion about which woman is best equipped to not only assume the lead role on the women's tour during the temporary absence of the pregnant Serena, but also to consistently contend for major titles for the foreseeable future once she returns in '18, and beyond.

While the variety of passing shots that allowed Martinez to defeat Navratilova in '94 brought an end to Martina's long run of appearances in major singles finals, Venus may not be out of chances. At least she doesn't seem to think so, as after the match she stated her belief that there will be "other opportunities" for her. She may be right, especially when you consider that a Serena-less U.S. Open will likely only open the door for more night matches on Ashe Court for Venus, keeping her out of the brutal summer heat that might serve to be a detriment to another deep slam run should she be forced to play a few too many three-setters.

Recounting the words of encouragement she received from her first Wimbledon final appearance in 2015, Muguruza said, "Two years ago I lost to Serena and she told me maybe one day I would win. Here I am!" Since then, she's won both of her major titles. So, aside from everything else, Serena can see the future, too. Of course she can.

But, now, the question that begs to be asked is, "What happens next?" The third player (once Karolina Pliskova becomes the top-ranked player on Monday) with slam wins over Serena and Venus to never be ranked #1, Muguruza (23y,9m) is the youngest player to win a SECOND slam since Victoria Azarenka (23y,6m) defended her Australian Open title in 2013. But, unlike the returned new mother from Belarus, the Spaniard has won slam crowns on two different surfaces, and surely has the ability to win one on hard courts, as well. Her Melbourne quarterfinal in January is her best result at either the Australian or U.S. Open. But, as of yet, Muguruza hasn't exactly embraced the title of "slam champion" beyond the immediate emotional high such an accomplishment produces. Her year as Roland Garros champion often more resembled a "sentence" than a reign, and her relief was evident once it was over.

Still, it's encouraging that she (unlike, say, an AnaIvo), seemed determined at this slam to seek the winner's circle yet again so soon after having vacated it. No matter her previous experience, she wasn't afraid to return. A big event player, two of her four career singles titles have come at majors, and few players have the sort of game that its owner can rightfully believe that it can the rule the court on any occasion. Muguruza, when she's on a roll like she was at this Wimbledon, is one of those players. It's just a matter of whether she is now ready to fully embrace and accept the challenge. By this time next year, will she have taken her turn in the #1 position, be contending for it, or maybe even be positioned there atop a full women's field?

It's your move, Garbi.

...late in the day, after a long men's final forced the closure of the Centre Court roof (because of lack of light, not potential weather) and threatened to carry things over to Sunday (with the Saturday night curfew of 11PM), Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina arrived and played as if they had a flight to catch. Which, you know, they sort of did.

In the most dominant performance in a slam WD final in over forty-six years ('71 AO - Court/Goolagong), the Hordettes became the first-ever Russians to claim the Wimbledon women's doubles title with a crushing 6-0/6-0 win over Chan Hao-Ching & Monica Niculescu in around fifty-five minutes. The only other Wimbledon WD to end with the double-bagel scoreline came in 1953.

The win adds to the Hordette pair's great big event results, bringing them one RG title away from completing not only a Career Doubles Slam, but a Career Golden Doubles Slam. With their Rio Gold last summer, they only need the win in Paris to join the Williams Sisters (and Bryan twins and the Aussie "Woodies" on the men's side) with all four major titles, plus the Olympics, on their resume. They also won the WTA Finals last year, meaning they have five of the six biggest WD titles out there. Even Serena & Venus haven't pulled that one off (mostly because they've hardly ever played doubles at the season-ending championships, but still). the wheelchair singles final, "Diede the Great" has ascended to her expected thrown. The 20-year old (whoops -- I forgot earlier that she'd celebrated her birthday right before the start of the year, so she's not 19 anymore), in her Wimbledon debut, walked away with her first slam title in yet another dominating performance, defeating 41-year old Sabine Ellerbrock 6-0/6-4. The Dutch champ dropped just fourteen total games in her three SW19 wins over the German, Aniek van Koot and Jordanne Whiley, who've combined for five slam singles crowns in their careers. With 31 winners today (vs. 14 for Ellerbrock), de Groot had a 90-39 edge over her opponents for the tournament.

This win is surely just the beginning of her major title trophy collection, and maybe even just the first of this weekend. Her Wimbledon singles win now goes right next to her teenage highs of 2016: a Masters Doubles title, Rio Paralympic Doubles Silver, 3rd place Masters Singles finish and 4th place in the Paralympic Singles. She might not be finished with the AELTC, either. De Groot has been using the hashtag "#StrawberrySlam" this week on social media. I think she was just referencing the tournament as a whole, but it could very well take on a different meaning on Sunday, when she'll join with countrywoman Marjolein Buis to try to sweep the titles in her first appearance in London. The Dutch pair will face Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, who are playing to claim their fourth straight Wimbledon WC doubles crown. the juniors, #3-seeded Claire Liu won the all-Bannerette singles final with a 6-2/5-7/6-2 victory over unseeded Ann Li. Liu, trying to avoid becoming the first girl to lose back-to-back slam finals since 2011 (Monica Puig AO & RG), served for the match at 6-2/5-4, and had triple MP before Li forced a 3rd set. Liu reclaimed control here, becoming the first U.S. girl to win the SW19 title since Chanda Rubin in 1992.

Meanwhile, Carson Branstine's quest for girls doubles Grand Slam ended today as she and Marta Kostyuk (the #1 seeds) lost to the all-Bannerette pair of Caty McNally & Whitney Osuigwe (#4). They face Olga Danilovic & Kaja Juvan (SRB/SLO) for the title.

THE NEW SPANISH ARMADA ON DAY 12: First it was AMG coaching Ostapenko in Paris, now Martinez with Muguruza.

"Hey, Arantxa, are you busy in late August/early September? And will you be anywhere near New York City?"

KUDOS ON DAY 12: ESPN's Chris Fowler, at least, who managed to note on several occasions the storyline of 37-year old Martina Navratilova losing to Conchita Martinez in the '94 Wimbledon final, and Martinez being Muguruza's coach today as another Spaniard tried to take down another 37-year old for a title at SW19. The "all-inclusive" pre-match coverage couldn't bother to even take note of it today while everyone (as anticipated) was picking Venus to win the match, not seeming to even really entertain the notion that Muguruza, in top form all fortnight (and being a former slam champ and Wimbledon finalist), might actually, you know, be able to win, and that the match should have been considered, at worst, a "pick 'em" situation.

WERE WE FORTUNATE ON DAY 12...?: ...that things didn't turn out to ultimately be close enough that line calls made a huge difference? I mean, some of the missed calls -- and there were many, most thankfully overturned by replay -- weren't even close to being correct judgments by the linespeople, right down to what turned out to be the last point of the final. It's the story of the match that won't actually be a story of the match.

LIKE ON DAY 12: Angie Kerber. She should feel good about how this Wimbledon ended. After all, she broke the Wimbledon champ three times in her match against her, while Muguruza's other six opponents managed the same feat a combined ONE time during the tournament. Maybe the German IS close to getting that elusive "it" back.

REALIZATION ON DAY 12: So, officially, Karolina Pliskova will become #1 on the seventeenth day of the seventh month of the year 2017. That HAS to mean something significant, right?


When asked if she had a message for Sam Sumyk, Muguruza simply smiled and said, "Yes, well, here it is," as she looked into the camera and held up the Venus Rosewater Dish. The reality of her holding up the trophy today is precisely what Sumyk has been trying to convince her was possible since he originally signed on, and stuck around through all those (sometimes embarrassing) changeover "coaching sessions."

Maybe even Garbi believes it now.

VENUS... ON DAY 12: ...on the other thirtysomething Wimbledon legend going for a singles title this weekend: "I've always been a Federer fan. I think if you're not, it's kind of uncool. So I wish him the best of luck."

...and, finally... "Calculated and Combustible Colt Championships Challenge Competition" shoots one final time, and juuuust misses. But maybe the third time will be the charm in New York.

V.Williams (RU)

After all, as I've noted before, my "unscientific" tactic of picking Jelena Ostapenko to win a junior slam title in 2014 took three attempts before the odds finally went in my favor. The Latvian destroyed the FIRST "Colt Challenge" in Paris, so maybe there's a winning connection in there somewhere.

#14 Garbine Muguruza/ESP def. #10 Venus Williams/USA 7-5/6-0

#2 Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) def. #9 H.Chan/Niculescu (TPE/ROU) 6-0/6-0

#1 Hingis/J.Murray (SUI/GBR) vs. Watson/Kontinen (GBR/FIN)

#3 Claire Liu/USA def. Ann Li/USA 6-2/5-7/6-2

#4 McNally/Osuigwe (USA/USA) vs. Danilovic/Juvan (SRB/SLO)

Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER 6-0/6-4

Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR) vs. #2 Buis/De Groot (NED/NED)

2000 Venus Williams/USA d. Lindsay Davenport/USA
2001 Venus Williams/USA d. Justine Henin/BEL
2002 Serena Williams/USA d. Venus Williams/USA
2003 Serena Williams/USA d. Venus Williams/USA
2004 Maria Sharapova/RUS d. Serena Williams/USA
2005 Venus Williams/USA d. Lindsay Davenport/USA
2006 Amelie Mauresmo/FRA d. Justine Henin-Hardenne/BEL
2007 Venus Williams/USA d. Marion Bartoli/FRA
2008 Venus Williams/USA d. Serena Williams/USA
2009 Serena Williams/USA d. Venus Williams/USA
2010 Serena Williams/USA d. Vera Zvonareva/RUS
2011 Petra Kvitova/CZE d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2012 Serena Williams/USA d. Aga Radwanska/POL
2013 Marion Bartoli/FRA d. Sabine Lisicki/GER
2014 Petra Kvitova/CZE d. Genie Bouchard/CAN
2015 Serena Williams/USA d. Garbine Muguruza/ESP
2016 Serena Williams/USA d. Angelique Kerber/GER
2017 Garbine Muguruza/ESP d. Venus Williams/USA

2014 RG: Maria Sharapova, RUS
2014 WI: Petra Kvitova, CZE
2014 US: Serena Williams, USA
2015 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2015 RG: Serena Williams, USA
2015 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2015 US: Flavia Pennetta, ITA (ret.)
2016 AO: Angelique Kerber, GER
2016 RG: Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2016 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2016 US: Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2017 RG: Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
2017 WI: Garbine Muguruza, ESP

Ekaterina Makarova = Serena (2012 AO), Venus (2014 AO)
Garbine Muguruza = Serena (2014/16 RG), Venus (2017 WI)
Sloane Stephens = Serena (2013 AO), Venus (2015 RG)
PREVIOUSLY ON LIST: Angelique Kerber (became #1 in 2016)
TO BE REMOVED FROM LIST ON 7/17/17: Karolina Pliskova (def. Serena & Venus at '16 US)

29...Serena Williams (23-6)
10..Maria Sharapova (5-5)
[5=Hingis 5-7]
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
3...Angelique Kerber (2-1)

9...Serena Williams (7-2)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Maria Sharapova (1-1)
[1=Hingis 1-0]
1...Genie Bouchard (0-1)
1...Angelique Kerber (0-1)
1...Sabine Lisicki (0-1)
1...Agnieszka Radwanska (0-1)
1...Vera Zvonareva (0-1)

*2017 WTA TITLES BY NATION - multiple different winners*
4 CZE - Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova
3 RUS - Kasatkina,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
2 AUS - Barty,Stosur
2 GER - Barthel,Siegemund
2 LAT - Ostapenko,Sevastova
2 UKR - Svitolina,Tsurenko
2 USA - Davis,S.Williams
[titles by one player]

2002 Vera Dushevina/RUS d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2003 Kirsten Flipkens/BEL d. Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
2004 Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR d. Ana Ivanovic/SRB
2005 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL d. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2006 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN d. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
2007 Urszula Radwanska/POL d. Madison Brengle/USA
2008 Laura Robson/GBR d. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA
2009 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA d. Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
2010 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE d. Sachie Ishizu/JPN
2011 Ashleigh Barty/AUS d. Irina Khromacheva/RUS
2012 Eugenie Bouchard/CAN d. Elina Svitolina/UKR
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Taylor Townsend/USA
2014 Jelena Ostapenko/LAT d. Kristina Schmiedlova/SVK
2015 Sofya Zhuk/RUS d. Anna Blinkova/RUS
2016 Anastasia Potapova/RUS d. Dayana Yastremska/UKR
2017 Claire Liu/USA d. Ann Li/USA

[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
2017 Claire Liu def. Ann Li
[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 Steve

2014 US: Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
2015 AO: Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2015 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2015 WI: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2015 US: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2016 AO: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2016 RG: Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic, FRA/FRA
2016 WI: Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2016 US: Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2017 AO: Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2017 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2017 WI: Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS

*SLAM WD TITLES - active*
14 - Serena Williams, USA
14 - Venus Williams, USA
12 - Martina Hingis, SUI
5 - Sara Errani, ITA
5 - Liezel Huber, USA
5 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
5 - Lucie Safarova, CZE
5 - Roberta Vinci, ITA
3 - Sania Mirza, IND
[Open era]
31 - Martina Navratilova
21 - Pam Shriver
18 - Natasha Zvereva
15 - Gigi Fernandez
14 - Serena Williams*
14 - Venus Williams*
12 - Martina Hingis*
12 - Jana Novotna

2016 Jiske Griffioen, NED
2017 Diede de Groot, NED

2004 Lindsay Davenport, USA
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL *
2006 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2008 Dinara Safina, RUS
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2011 Serena Williams, USA
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Serena Williams, USA *
2014 Serena Williams, USA *
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2016 Aga Radwanska, POL
* - also won U.S. Open title

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #6 Johanna Konta/GBR
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #14 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): #14 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Petra Martic/CRO def. #1q Aleksandra Krunic/SRB 3-6/7-6(4)/7-5 (saved 6 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - #6 Johanna Konta/GBR def. Donna Vekic/CRO 7-6(4)/4-6/10-8 (3:10; nearly 100 total winners)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #15 Garbine Muguruza/ESP def. #1 Angelique Kerber/GER 4-6/6-4/6-4
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Nominee: MX SF - H.Chan/Niculescu d. Ninomiya/Voracova 7-6(4)/4-6/9-7 (2:58)
FIRST VICTORY: Wang Qiang/CHN (def. K.Chang/TPE)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Roberta Vinci/ITA (1st Rd. - lost to Kr.Pliskova/CZE)
REVELATION LADIES: GBR (two women -- Konta & Watson -- in 3rd Rd. for first time since '86; WC Boulter played well vs. McHale)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: CZE (0-6 2nd Rd., including"co-favorites" Kvitova & Ka.Pliskova w/ two other seeds; first time no Czechs in Wimb. 3r since '09, second time since '04)
LAST WILD CARDS STANDING: Heather Watson/GBR and Zarina Diyas/KAZ (3rd Rd.)
LAST BRIT STANDING: Johanna Konta (in SF, best British result since 1978)
IT ("Next WC Great?"): Diede de Groot/NED
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
COMEBACK: Victoria Azarenka/BLR
CRASH & BURN: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS (1st Rd. loss to Ar.Rodionova after having 7 MP, one year after Wimb. QF and "Career QF Slam" completed at this year's AO; won two titles '17)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Arina Rodionova/AUS (1st Rd. - qualifier saved 7 MP vs. Pavlyuchenkova; won 9-7 3rd for first career GS MD win; lost 2nd Rd.)
DOUBLES STAR(s): Nominees: Watson, Makarova/Vesnina, Kamiji/Whiley
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Venus Williams/USA (37 - oldest finalist since 1994)
June 26 official: Eastbourne DC Dominika Cibulkova loses opening match to WC Heather Watson; 4 LL's win MD matches (one LL vs. LL match-up); LL Tsvetana Pironkova advances to 2nd Rd. w/ 1st Rd. bye when Petra Kvitova withdraws, gets 2nd Rd. win
Day 3 observed: On "Flying Ant Day," newly-emerged insects swarm the AELTC grounds. Meanwhile, six women's seed fall, including two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
"Alternate" Rad Day (Day 4): In muggy conditions, four women's seeds (and four men's) fall, including "favorite" #3 Karolina Pliskova, as no Czech woman reach the 3rd Round for the first time in eight years. Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffers a devastating knee injury. Aga Radwanska saves two MP vs. Christina McHale to advance.

All for Day 12. More tomorrow.


Blogger Galileo Sutherland-west said...

Would just like to point out the ladies doubles final was abysmal. It wasn't enjoyable viewing. Chan/Nic were so underpowered. They couldn't do anything and only mustered about two game points. The Russians weren't even Steffi Graf level of superb they were just good. I can't remember watching a worse match. No drama, no memorable rallies, no excitement. Blegh. The other problem was that it came on after a great men's dubs.
I wonder if Mugu will win her third before Halep gets her first?

Sat Jul 15, 07:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

I need to watch the Liu/Li match. The highlights look good.

Venus had a huge smile at the end. I know that she is not just happy to be there, but appreciates what it took to get back there. Doing things at 37 that others can't do at 27.

Stat of the Day-19-The highest number on the Billboard charts(US) for Timbuk 3.

Timbuk 3 is considered a one hit wonder, as their one hit "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" is their charting song. Now a two slam wonder, the phrase applies to Muguruza, as she now projects as a 6-8 slam winner. Why?

To get to the future, lets talk about the past. The Chicago Bulls have been average before and after the Michael Jordan era, but special during it. Some teams, like the Lakers had Magic/Kareem, and Shaq/Kobe.

Spain was not such. To begin the Open Era, they were rather nondescript, playing Fed Cup for the first time in 1972. In an era of youngsters, they led off with 39 yr old Ana-Maria Estalella-Manso, who promptly lost to 19 yr old Rosalba Vido of Italy. Followed by 32 yr old Carmen Mandarino.

The next generation brought Bird and Taurasi..I mean Martinez and Sanchez Vicario. Need a #1? Sanchez Vicario took care of that. Need slams won? Martinez ans ASV did that too. Need Fed Cup won? Spain won 5 between 1991-98!

So Muguruza is the next generation. 4 titles seems small, but here are some stats that will make that seem better.

Total Titles career/slams
Sanchez Vicario-29/4

Titles/slams at age 23
Sanchez Vicario-20/3

Looks bad, until you realize that Muguruza didn't win her first title until she was 20. The others did at 16, leaving her 4 years behind. In this day and age, that puts her ahead of the curve.

Another thing to know. As bad as it looked for Muguruza to go 13 months without a title after the French, Sanchez Vicario actually went 11 after her first title, which similar to Garbine, was her 3rd career title. On the other hand, Martinez won Wimbledon, then won 5 titles in the next 52 weeks.

The last thing to note is that Muguruza is now a threat to be #1 at the end of the year. With only 701 pts to defend the rest of the year, 350 from Cinci, she, along with Svitolina, Konta and Wozniacki have thrown themselves into the mix for what should be a great summer.

Sat Jul 15, 07:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Shortly after the match ended, there was a massive storm that flooded part of my yard and blew out either my digital box or my TV--can't determine from tests I ran. Unable to use cable or ATV. I believe this has something to do with Muguruza, and she is scary.

Sat Jul 15, 07:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Galileo Sutherland-west said...

Yes Diane. She foresaw the worst grand slam final ever coming up and saved you. The one interesting thing about it was hearing all the different ways you could say Makarova.

Sat Jul 15, 08:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ha! I ended up watching some of it on my iPad, but you know, there wasn't much to watch, was there?

Sat Jul 15, 08:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah I think the length of the MD final probably had something to do with that, since Chan/Niculescu were likely going to be a little on edge anyway, and then waiting and waiting and waiting probably one made things far worse. That said, what ultimately happened *was* a bit extreme, no matter the circumstances. ;)

Hey, and I'm 3/4 of the way to getting that preseason prediction of Muguruza reaching at least the Round of 16 at all four majors for the first time. Of course, now it'll never happen. :(

Squirrels at the start of Wimbledon, storms at the end, flying ants in between. Hmmm... :D

Sat Jul 15, 10:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Rajendra Parihar said...

Hall of Famer? Conchita Martinez is not a Hall of Famer !
She was a one fluke slsm wonder! She was David Ferrer of 1990s who got lucky in Wimbledon 1994 (Steffi upset in 1st round , Seles stabbed n sidelined, and grandma Navratilova choked in the final)

Sat Jul 15, 11:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

She isn't, you're right. But she commands a lot of respect: 1 major, 2 major runner-up finishes (and another 2 in doubles), top 10 for 11 straight years, 3 Olympic medals in doubles, and a whole lot of titles in s and d.
Also, MN does not deserve the ageist slur (nor does anyone).

Sat Jul 15, 11:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, you're right, she isn't in the HoF yet. I thought I remembered her going in recently.

Oh, well. While she only won the one slam, I can't imagine she won't end up there eventually. Aside from the things that Diane noted, she won 33 singles titles (including 9 Tier I's) and FIVE Fed Cup championships, too. Actually, looking at it all now, I'm kind of surprised she HASN'T been inducted yet. Without the Wimbledon title, the wait wouldn't be eyebrow-raising, but with it it's really sort of an open and shut case (albeit with a few arguments to make against it because of her results being "disappointing," esp. when compared to what ASV did) especially when you look at some of her contemporaries who are already in.

Sun Jul 16, 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger FerchoR said...

Actually the stats sheet of Conchita is kinda the same of Roddick's but for the No. 1 ranking. Mind you he got the No. 1 and the USO title when Roger wasn't at his very best...

Sun Jul 16, 12:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Conchita has been nominated but hasn't made the short list yet.

Sun Jul 16, 01:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, good point on Roddick.

Yeah, she'll get in at some point.

I will say that CM's Wimbledon title does sort of have to be seen as a bit "fluky," considering where it happened. If she'd won at RG, not at all. She reached thirteen straight 4th Rounds in Paris (8 con. QF, 3 con. SF), but didn't reach the final until #13.

Sun Jul 16, 01:55:00 PM EDT  

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