Friday, July 07, 2017

W.5- Vika on the Verge?

For most of the past year and a half, Victoria Azarenka has been setting up and making dates. For doctor's appointments, a delivery, feedings and moments to catch her breath. In recent months, she's been pulling extra-duty, adding in training sessions between the wellness breaks and quality time.

Now she's got a date for a Round of 16 match at the All-England Club on Monday. Yep, Vika is back. Maybe not quite in the form that she once was and has been in the past. Not yet, anyway. But enough for now.



In the only women's match played on Centre Court on Day 5, Azarenka wasn't technically the "headlining star." That would be British wild card Heather Watson, as her presence in the match played a large part in the big stage scheduling. But so did the curiosity surrounding the two-time slam winner from Belarus. By the end of the day, things were getting curiouser and curiouser.

While new mom Azarenka was five matches into her return to action, Watson has been playing out of her shoes on the grass courts for weeks, earning a WC into the main draw while also returning to the Top 100 with a month of good work after having seen her results slump over the past year. Two years ago, Watson came within two points of upsetting Serena Williams at the AELTC, and surely had her shot to recapture the spotlight and emerge with more spring in her step than she did had in 2015.

Watson took advantage of the moment early on, getting a break of serve and leading 4-1. But two bad games filled with forehand erros, then a double-fault on break point, got things back on serve at 4-3. But while the Brit got off to a quick start, Azarenka wasn't quite ready to do the same. She double-faulted to fall behind 15/40 a game later, then a long backhand handed the break back to Watson. Her inability to seize control of the momentum that Watson had been seemingly willing to concede carried over to what would be the final game of the opening set, as a long Azarenka return of a second serve, then a missed forehand, gave the Brit a 6-3 win.

With a fed-up look on her face after the 1st, you sort of figured Vika, if she was anywhere close to returning to her old form, would bounce back with her usual verve in the 2nd set. She did, breaking for 2-0 and finally allowing Watson's game to settle down from its previous heights without and propping up by errors off the Belarusian's own racket. Saving a BP, Azarenka held for 3-0, and took the set 6-1.

In the 3rd, the play was characterized by errors from both players, and a stubborn inability by either to take the match and run with it. Still, the server managed to hold in each of the first six games until, in game #7, Watson's failure to hold in a ten-minute serve game proved to be the key moment in the match, if only Azarenka could keep the momentum on her side long enough to get over the finish line for the biggest win of her comeback, that is. In that game, Watson wasn't able to convert on four game point chances. On her second BP of the game, Azarenka drove a backhand into the corner off a Watson slice forehand that landed in the middle of the court, forcing a forehand error from the Brit as she wasn't able to pull off a crosscourt passing shot. The break gave Azarenka a 4-3 lead.

Vika fell behind love/30 a game later, but a drop shot and a win in a face-to-face volley battle got things to 30/30. Watson earned a BP with a successful replay challenge, then won a baseline rally that ended with a long Azarenka backhand to get things back on serve. But Azarenka picked up where she'd left off in the previous game on Watson's serve. A perfect lob over a close-to-the-net Watson gave her a 15/40 lead, and it was followed by five consecutive forehands in a single rally, the final two deep-in-the-court blasts, and the last a winner to get the break for 5-4.

A Watson backhand lob that dropped over in over Azarenka's shoulder, then a forehand winner down the line, gave the Brit two BP at 15/40. Then Watson's past finally caught up with her. In the match's biggest moment, she flew a forehand return, then framed another off a second serve. A big Azarenka serve up the "T" produced an error (the umpire failed to notice Watson's challenge in time for a replay look), then a long Watson backhand on MP gave Azarenka the 3-6/6-1/6-4 victory. The former #1 wasn't "great" on Day 5, but it was good enough to reach her fifth Wimbledon Round of 16. She's into the second week of a slam for the first time since January of last year, but also in her first slam back.

The hard court summer and the U.S. Open, then the Fed Cup final in the fall, are likely where Azarenka's comeback season will find its true form and potential grace. But a huge opportunity may present itself to her at SW19 over the next week, as well. She came back to the tour a little earlier than expected, and it may turn out the be quite a decision if she can, like another multi-slam winning former #1 with motherhood on her mind, work her way into peak form over the course of this two-week stretch.

We'll next see if she's already up to doing such a thing, and it could be a rather fascinating watch.

Hey, it's not the Most Interesting Tour in the World for nothing.



=DAY 5 NOTES=
...in the other 3rd Round matches of Day 5, familiarity was the name of the game (even for the likes of Pam Shriver), as past slam success continued to breed still more.

37-year old Venus Williams, playing an opponent in 19-year old Naomi Osaka (a Williams Sisters fan, though she admits she favored Serena) who has the power to match and even supersede her own. The Japanese player, in the 3rd Round in her Wimbledon MD debut (just like she was in her first appearances in Melbourne, Paris and New York last season), led in both winners and unforced errors for the match, showing that her (like a certain Latvian) big shots have the ability to control the flow of action in virtually any match she plays. But, unlike the Roland Garros champ, Osaka hasn't quite learned how to control and harness all that, especially in the biggest moments on the biggest stages. Not yet.

On Day 5 at last year's U.S. Open, Osaka led Madison Keys 5-1 in the 3rd set, and twice served for the match, only to lose in crushing fashion. She didn't collapse like that against Venus, but she did have a chance to make more noise than she ultimately did. Venus led 4-1 in the 1st set, but Osaka got things back on serve late, forcing a TB and taking a 3-0 lead there. Venus met the challenge, winning seven straight points to claim the set, the getting a break and keeping ahead throughout the 2nd to win 7-6(3)/6-4 to reach the Round of 16 at the All-England Club for the 15th time (she's the oldest woman to do since Martina Navratilova in 1994), and at the sixth straight major (and 8 of 9, and 9 of 11).



Of note (maybe), the then 37-year old Navratilova reached the Wimbledon final in 1994, losing to a Spaniard (Conchita Martinez). It's still possible that Venus could face a Spaniard in this slam's final, as well.

While she still lost in straights, it was a good sign that the teenager didn't just go away in the 2nd set after failing to secure the TB, losing 6-0 or 6-1. That's progress. Osaka's potential is still eye-popping, but she's just not there yet. Of course, neither was the previously alluded-to Jelena (or, as a local Washington D.C. sports radio host called her today, "Juh-leena") Ostapenko a year ago, when *she* was still a teenager. Even at 20, and with a slam title in her back pocket, the Latvian likely isn't a "finished" product at this point, either.

Tennis Gods help us all when she is.

...early in the day, approximately a year after a bad step on a rolling ball (eventually) ended Ana Konjuh's Wimbledon in her 2nd Round match vs. Aga Radwanska, against whom the Croat had held three MP, the 19-year old became the last teenager alive in the draw by taking out 2016 quarterfinalist Dominika Cibulkova in three sets. It was the veteran Slovak who ultimately ended Radwanska's run at SW19 last year, so this was as close to SW19 "revenge" against the Pole as Konjuh is likely to get. Although she *did* get a big helping of that at Flushing Meadows last September, when she defeated Aga there en route to her first major QF.

Today, Cibulkova took a commanding 5-1 lead in the 1st set, only to see Konjuh charge back and force a TB. After going up 3-0, the teen won it 7-3. The Slovak broke to start the 2nd set, and won it 6-3. In the 3rd, it was Konjuh who opened things with a break of serve. She broke again for a 3-0 lead, and later served out the match to win 7-6(3)/3-6/6-4. She'll next face Venus.



Cibulkova has been struggling for results since her spring wrist injury, and her bad stretch is now snapping back at her as her grass season ends, as a year ago she won the Eastbourne title and reached the Wimbledon final eight. She was ranked as high as #4 in May, but entered this Wimbledon at #9, and very well could fall out of the Top 10 with the right combination of results. And, remember, she has her WTA Finals championship points coming off (she won't likely be able to defend the title, barring a glorious late summer/early fall) at the end of the year, as well.

...Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep won't be able to continue their recent on court tete-a-tete series in London unless they both reach the semifinals, but they're playing on the same days until the potential meeting, at least. Both won again today.

Svitolina, completing her nearly anonymous run through the first week, took out Carina Witthoeft, winning her sixth straight set, but at least being made to work a bit more in a 6-1/7-5 victory to reach the Wimbledon 4th Round for the first time.

Halep was in the SW19 semifinals in 2014 (you know, before she was *expected* to perform well at every slam), losing to Genie Bouchard (who?). Today the Romanian was faced with another opportunity to work on her set and match-closing skills. She'd avoided dropping a set in the 2nd Round to Beatriz Haddad Maia, surging from behind to win the opening set en route to a straights victory. Against veteran Peng Shuai, she did it again. In the 1st, she gained a late break in game #9 and served out a 6-4 set, then in the 2nd she rose to the occasion in a TB to win her sixth straight set at this slam. But it wasn't an open/shut situation.

Serving two points at 5-4 in the TB, Halep fired a long forehand, then netted another to lose them both and give Peng a set point. Uh-oh. But she saved it with a nifty (and deft) backhand volley winner that she took out of the air at around waist level (or maybe slightly lower) and angled it crosscourt and out of reach of Peng. After winning a rally to reach MP, Halep stopped play to challenge a Peng shot at her feet on the baseline. The ball *was* in, though, and it was 7-7. But Halep fired an ace to get a second MP chance, then ran around her backhand to fire a big second serve return forehand that forced an error from her Chinese opponent to close out the TB, giving her a 6-4/7-6(7) win to set up a Round of 16 clash with Azarenka.



...while the British press and fans attempt to put WAY too heavy a load on her shoulders by talking about a "British double" title turn involving herself and Andy Murray this weekend, Johanna Konta is at least holding up her end of the deal, maintaining the high level of play she's shown by playing all four weeks of this grass court season (and now she'll play into the fifth, too). Against Maria Sakkari, she was clearly the better player, securing breaks of serve early on in both sets and cruising to a 6-4/6-1 win her third match at the AELTC this week after having arrived with a scary (in a "The Rad" way, not an Ostapenko way... well, unless... but more on that later) 1-5 career MD record at Wimbledon.



She'll next face Carolina Garcia, who defeated Petra-conquering Madison Brengle, officially outlasting that *other* Pastry who was getting much more attention coming into this slam by a full TWO rounds. And *that's* something good to Tweet about. LOL

Garcia has now posted career-best results in each of her last four slam appearances: '16 U.S. 3rd, '17 AO 3rd, '17 RG QF and now a Wimbledon 4th.

...and, now, Latvian Thunder.

In her first career 3rd Round match at Wimbledon, Jelena Ostapenko did what she does: she played a back-and-forth sort of match, but never lost faith in her shots, making no scoreboard deficit a death sentence, and reserved her right to intimidate an opponent with her power... then win, do the double-fist pump, and flash a big smile as she walks away from the carnage she left behind her on her road to continued glory.

Day 5's victim was Camila Giorgi.

Ostapenko actually got off to a quick start, getting an early break, only to see the Italian surge back and serve for the 1st set at 5-3. Naturally, the 20-year old didn't lose another game in the set. She served things out by converting a set point by hitting a crosscourt backhand, then a crosscourt forehand. Both could have been winners, but only the second one officially was. Cue the double-fist pump. Done and done.

It was pretty much the same old story in the 2nd set, only this time it was Giorgi who got the early break. She held to lead 5-2, and served for the set two games later. Naturally, Ostapenko never lost another game from 2-5 down. While the Latvian won five straight games, Giorgi won a total of five POINTS over the same stretch. Suddenly serving for the match at 6-5, Ostapenko took a quick 40/love lead, and closed things out at 7-5/7-5 two points later.

Double fist-pump. Done and done.

She fired 24 winners on the day (Giorgi had 15), and Jelena didn't even have to play her ninth straight three-setter to do it.

See? She's still getting better.

"Today I wasn't feeling very nervous because, as I said, it was very tough to play against Giorgi. She had no rhythm, she was hitting every ball so hard. But I'm glad I finished my way."

Back in January, Ostapenko had two slam MD wins to her name. A little over a month ago, she had four for her career. Now she's won ten straight, and is tied with Venus Williams for the most slam match wins in 2017, with 12.

"I have a couple of days off now," Ostapenko, said as her mid-tournament weekend break beckons. "So I'm going to try maybe on a couple of these days to see London a little bit or to see something, because I didn't really have much time to go anywhere because I was playing all these days and practicing."



Hmmm, maybe she'll even find an Abbey to her liking. (Hint.)

...in women's doubles, the race is officially on to see which duo will take full advantage of the sudden absence of top-seeded Mattek-Sands/Safarova (there's no crying in baseball, and there's no sentimentality when slams are on the line, either).

Some of the favorites -- #2 Makarova/Vesnina, #3 Y.Chan/Hingis and Kuznetsova/Mladenovic -- advanced rather routinely, but the same couldn't be said for #8-seeded Barty/Dellacqua, one of the two (w/ Chan/Hingis) most dominant WD teams of this grass season. The Aussies faced off with Chuang/Doi, and had to fight for their lives.

Down 0-3 to the Taiwanese-Japanese pair, Barty/Dellacqua saw their opponents serve for the match at 5-3. But they got the break, saving a MP and ultimately going on to win 10-8. Whew! The Aussies were SW19 runners-up in 2013.

...the mixed doubles is underway, as well. Amongst the winners today were the all-sibling pair of Naomi & Liam Broady, while Sloane Stephens (who also lost in WD) saw her time with partner John-Patrick Smith last just one match in London.

Of course, the most interesting match-up was that between Vika Azarenka and Heather Watson. No, no *that* match-up, the one that took place a few hours later. There, defending champs Watson/Henri Kontinen defeated Azarenka/Nenad Zimonjic 6-3/6-4. A nice consolation prize for Watson, but I'm sure Vika is just fine with the result, as well.



...in the Roehampton Grade 1 junior tune-up event, Bannerette Claire Liu (the RG girls RU) defeated Slovenia's Kaja Juvan 6-2/6-2. A year ago, Anastasia Potopova's SW19 girls title run was preceded by a Roehampton win.



Marta Kostyuk (AO girls singles winner) and Carson Branstine (AO & RG jr. doubles champ w/ Andreescu) took home the doubles.




AND THE NEXT CHAPTER BEGINS ON DAY 5:



"OH, SHUT THE HELL UP" ON DAY 5:



If another player chooses to stand behind a player (Tomic, in this case) who is now a chronic "disrespecter" of the sport on the court, and hardly someone worthy of defense off it, either, then so be it. It really says more about *that* player than whatever so-called, hardly relevant gripe said player decides to dredge up concerning sponsors, any slam, either tour or, surely, Sharapova, for that matter.

I-DIDN'T-SEE-THIS-ON-DAY-4, so here it is on DAY 5: Cute (even if she did eventually lose).



Maybe the emojis needs to be a little "stronger?"

Proof that research CAN be done at ESPN on ON DAY 5:



...and, finally...

I realized today that all the "Alternate" Rad Days, of which yesterday is now surely one, since the 2013 original are linked in an odd way. They've all either been a Day 4 (2016 & '17) or taken place on July 6 (2015 & '17). So I wondered about the 2014 Wimbledon, the year after The Rad's machinations were first noticed, but before they were "remembered" in this space in any official way, and whether something had slipped through the cracks on either Day 4 or July 6th of that fortnight.

Well, I noted on Day 4 of that Wimbledon that things had been "peaceful," so there wasn't anything of note there. But I did find something interesting on July 6, the final day of the tournament that year. On that day, well, here's what I found in the Backspin files...



"...in the junior singles final on Sunday, played on Court 1 while the men's championship was being contested on Centre Court, 17-year old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko grabbed the girls crown, becoming the first player representing her country to win a junior slam with a come from behind 2-6/6-3/6-0 victory over Slovak Kristina Schmiedlova. Ostapenko hit 40 winners in the match, while 16-year old Schmiedlova had just 17.


So, hey, at least I got one grass court champion pick right this year (and picking Ostapenko to win a slam at the third straight major proved to be the charm, too). Bam! Victory! (Or close enough.)

Also, you've got to hand it to the Latvian, as she's already an expert when it comes to buttering up the AELTC. After the match, she said, “I love everything here because I think it’s one of the best grand slams. The atmosphere here is really nice, the people are really nice, also the grass courts. That everyone is playing in white clothes. I think it looks really nice.”

So, she had a nice time, I'm surmising.

She even managed to scratch the back of Genie Bouchard on her way out the door. Said Ostapenko of the '12 Wimbledon girls champ and '14 Ladies runner-up, "I think I have to maybe follow her and try to do the same. I will try my best. I think she improved really a lot and she’s one of the best players on the tour.” The Latvian, who sports a career 13-0 record in ITF singles & doubles finals, admitted she hadn’t even considered what sort of outfit she might wear to the Club's Champions Ball.

Shocking, I know. Maybe this focus on winning tennis matches thing will catch on, after all. “Maybe, after winning junior grand slam, I will try to improve my ranking in the WTA and try to, in the end of the year, be maybe top 300, 200 in the WTA," Ostapenko added. Go-go, Jelena-O.

Little did we know. Or maybe we did, but we just didn't know it.

Now, I'm not day that our most loved/hated entity secretly discovered a new future host one year after making It's name a little TOO known, and then hoped it'd go unnoticed by everyone until it was too late. But, well, some things have happened, you know? The Latvian has kind of captivated the masses of late, and it would be just like You-Know-What to be snickering in the corner while it all took place. I mean, it might explain the evil little stares that Jelena has been known to flash at times, only to have them totally disappear and be replaced by a winning smile a few moments later, as if there were two different beings inhabiting the same body, you know?

Does Ostapenko's tentative link to The Rad mean something? Anything? Hmmm, there's no significant evidence to state any definitive conclusions but, well, it very well could be grounds for future investigation.



I'm just sayin'.





=LADIES' SINGLES ROUND OF 16=
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. x
x vs. s
#27 Ana Konjuh/CRO vs. #10 Venus Williams/USA
#13 Jelena Ostapenko/LAT vs. #7 Elina Svitolina/UKR
#6 Johanna Konta/GBR vs. #21 Caroline Garcia/FRA
Victoria Azarenka/BLR vs. #2 Simona Halep/ROU





*WIMBLEDON "LAST BRIT STANDING"*
2008 Elena Baltacha & Anne Keothavong (2nd Rd.)
2009 Elena Baltacha (2nd Rd.)
2010 Heather Watson (GBR 0-6 in 1st, Watson last to lose)
2011 Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong & Laura Robson (2nd)
2012 Heather Watson (3rd Rd.)
2013 Laura Robson (4th Rd.)
2014 Naomi Broady & Heather Watson (2nd Rd.)
2015 Heather Watson (2nd Rd.)
2016 Johanna Konta & Tara Moore (2nd Rd.)
2017 Johanna Konta (in 4th Rd.)

*WIMBLEDON GIRLS/WOMEN'S SLAM CHAMPS - OPEN ERA*
Martina Hingis (1994 Jr. champion; 1997 Ladies champion)
Amelie Mauresmo (1996 Jr. champion; 2006 Ladies champion)
[other best combined results]
Martina Navratilova (1973 Jr. RU; 9-time Ladies champion)
Hana Mandlikova (1978 Jr. RU; 1981 & '86 Ladies RU)
Zina Garrison (1981 Jr. champion; 1990 Ladies RU)
Maria Sharapova (2002 Jr. RU; 2004 Ladies champion)
Aga Radwanska (2005 Jr. champion; 2012 Ladies RU)
Genie Bouchard (2012 Jr. champion; 2014 Ladies RU)

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




TOP QUALIFIER: Petra Martic/CRO
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #6 Johanna Konta/GBR
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): x
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): x
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Petra Martic/CRO def. #1q Aleksandra Krunic/SRB 3-6/7-6/7-5
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): x
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): x
=============================
FIRST VICTORY: Wang Qiang/CHN (def. K.Chang/TPE)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Roberta Vinci/ITA (1st Rd. - lost to Kr.Pliskova/CZE)
UPSET QUEENS: USA
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 QUALIFIER STANDING: In 3rd Rd.: Hercog, Martic
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: In 3rd Rd.: Diyas, Watson(L)
LAST BRIT STANDING: Johnna Konta (in 4th Rd.)
IT ("??"): x
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: x
COMEBACK: Nominees: Azarenka, Rybarikova, Martic, Hercog, Diyas, Cirstea
CRASH & BURN: Nominees: Pavlyuchenkova (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); Ka.Pliskova (#3 seed; 2nd Rd. loss from set and break up vs. Rybarikova; considered tournament "favorite" and shot at #1); Russians? (trying to avoid no women in Wimb. 4r for just second time since 2001, and third time in 68 slams - Kuznetsova to play 3rd Rd.)
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): Nominee: Ar.Rodionova (1st Rd. - saved 7 MP vs. Pavlyuchenkova; won 9-7 3rd; lost 2nd Rd.); Witthoeft (1st Rd. - down 0-5 in 3rd vs. #26 Lucic-Baroni); A.Radwanska (2nd Rd. - saved 2 MP vs. McHale)
DOUBLES STAR: x
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominee: V.Williams
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: x
THE RADWANSKA DAY REMEMBRANCE AWARD
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 5. More Tomorrow.

5 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

Just beating on Bouchard, huh.

Some nice matchups for round 4.

Stat of the Day-1-Number of slam titles for Ivan Lendl in his first 21 slams.

Obviously, Lendl's supposed struggles at Wimbledon bring fellow Czech Pliskova to mind. But is that fair to either of them? Lets look inside the numbers.

First 21 slams-Pliskova
1-F
1-SF
1-QF

At Wimbledon 1 1st, 5 2nd rd.

First 21 slams Lendl
1-W
5-F
2-SF
2-QF

At Wimbledon 2 1st, 1 3rd, 2 SF

Lendl was better at Wimbledon that he was given credit for, but also was both lucky and unlucky in the timing of his career. A 3 time USO winner, his first appearance there was the year after they switched from clay to hard. A 2 time winner of the AO, they were both on hard, as his grass efforts were not nearly as good.

Another thing to notice were his title splits. 33 on carpet, 31 hard, 28 clay. Yet only 2 on grass. However, Pliskova is 6 hard, 2 grass, 1 clay. Seems that here first slam win should be on hard.

Another way they might be linked? Lendl was a slamless #1, becoming #1 1 1/2 years before winning his first slam. Pliskova still has a chance to be #1 here, in similar fashion.

Pliskova and Lendl may be tied together by what happens the rest of Wimbledon. On the mens side, in 1983, Lendl, Connors and McEnroe passed the #1 rank 10 times, a high for one year. The most for different players? 5 in 1999 with Sampras, Moya, Kafelnikov, Agassi and Rafter holding the top spot.

The women's side might have some of that same drama, because of the points coming off before the USO.

Pliskova -2305
Halep -1960
Kerber -2965
Wozniacki -811
Svitolina -541
Konta -1005

With the boatload of points coming off for the top contenders, it is possible for Pliskova and Halep to trade off, with Halep losing Bucharest and Pliskova Cinci, and Svitolina to possibly be #1 after the USO.

Should be fun.

Fri Jul 07, 07:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Juh-LEENA is dreadful, but so is the usual pronunciation, Yuh-LANEA. It's YELLinuh. I wish the players would demand correct pronunciations of their names. I wish the tour would demand it. Kasatkina's name was mispronounced throughout the VCO. It will probably be mispronounced throughout her career.

I'm loving every moment of Ostapenko, and remain convinced that her ballroom dancing background has a lot to do with her non-poise poise. She looks all loopy and wild, but there's a body-mind marriage there that's quite impressive.

Fri Jul 07, 08:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

C-
Who? ;)

Well, at least Karolina hasn't tried to act as if she's "allergic to grass" like Ivan did early in his career. ;)

D-
We'll finally see whether Svitolina's first three rounds mean anything or not when she faces Ostapenko. It *is* quite nice that Jelena doesn't seem to realize that she's apparently *supposed* to be overwhelmed by her success. So far, not so much. ;)

Sat Jul 08, 12:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

I think I'll allow myself to Wozniackis diggin deep today - not often we see a fighter like that.

Sat Jul 08, 03:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Sebastian said...

I don't like to contradict Diane, whom I respect, but I don't think that the pronunciation she gives for Jelena (Ostapenko) is right, given that Jelena's parents are Ukrainian and would therefore use the Russian pronunciation, where the accent is on the second syllable. It's the Serbs and Croats who put the accent on the first.
Sebastian

Sun Jul 09, 06:11:00 AM EDT  

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