Tuesday, July 11, 2017

W.8- History Favors Favours the Brave Brit

Before she walked onto Wimbledon's hallowed Centre Court today for a high-stakes quarterfinal match that could soon produce the greatest moment of her career, Simona Halep likely remembered the words that coach Darren Cahill has been attempting to hardwire into her brain and heart for months: "Be brave."

And she was, too. Playing what the Romanian said may be the best grass court match of her career, Halep was calm and smart. She served well, took appropriate chances and never allowed any of the negative thinking of her perfectionist past to get in the way of securing the victory that would send her to another slam semifinal and make her the first Romanian woman to top the WTA's singles ranking. In fact, she came within two measly points of completing her mission.

But it still wasn't enough to survive Johanna Konta.

As has been the case so often in her missed-it-by-that-much existence in the sport, Halep's was a dream denied, as her British opponent won a hotly contested 6-7(2)/7-6(5)/6-4 battle that allowed Konta to become the one to wrestle away a bit of history from Day 8's proceedings, becoming the first woman in thirty-nine years to advance to the final four on home soil at the All-England Club.

Quite often this season, Halep and Konta's paths have crossed in sometimes unexpected ways. The Romanian's loss to her in Miami in March was the "final straw" that led Cahill to briefly walk away from their established coaching relationship, fed up with her negative attitude and believing she'd "given up" down the stretch of the match. A risky tactic, it was nonetheless a successful one, as the shock to Halep's system led her to vow to battle past her acknowledged faults, stamping down and (hopefully) eventually eliminating her natural frustrations when things go wrong, promising to never "give up" again." The Brit was also present in a testy Fed Cup tie between Romania and Great Britain this spring, during which Romanian team Captain Ilie Nastase was ejected for derogatory comments made toward Konta and British Captain Anne Keothavong. That weekend, while Konta's human qualities were harshly exposed in a senseless moment of anger, Halep's own standing rose as, after showing frayed edges in the pressurized role as team leader in the past, she seemed to grow in many ways in the unexpected spotlight, taking the team's fortunes onto her shoulders on the court, while also being a voice of calm and reason off it (both when addressing the crowd, and in the press conferences that followed).

Through it all, it was a productive spring and summer for Halep. She won a title in Madrid, and reached finals in Rome and at Roland Garros while being the form player throughout the clay season. But with her success came more reminders of her star-crossed path to ultimate success in the sport, as an ankle injury prevented her from completing the Madrid/Rome title sweep, then she lost her second slam final in Paris, falling to maiden champ Jelena Ostapenko in three sets despite holding a set and 3-0 lead (in both the 2nd *and* 3rd) when a win would have given her her elusive first major title, as well as pushed her into the #1 ranking. She missed out on another (less simple) opportunity to become #1 during the grass tune-up season, then found herself again with the top ranking on her racket today (figuratively before the match, then literally during it). But, again, she'll have to deal with another near miss.

History was on the line for Konta, as well. The Aussie-born Brit has been slow to be fully embraced by the home crowd at this Wimbledon, but a classic early win over Donna Vekic, another three-setter over Caroline Garcia yesterday, and then today's clash will surely lift her to new heights. After seeing her tennis career "bloom" in her mid-twenties, she came into the day already a past slam semifinalist ('15 AO) and current Top 10er, a rarity for a British woman since before even Venus Williams was born. Konta has worked hard this spring/summer to improve her game. Already in the very top tier (Top 5, and maybe Top 3) of hard court players on tour, she's showed improvement on the clay and has played every week during the grass season, perfecting her form as she's gone along, and even getting past a bad fall at Eastbourne that left her with an aching head and tender back that briefly put her participation at SW19 in question. With the pressure on to become the first Brit in the Wimbledon QF since 1984, her win yesterday had already made this Wimbledon a personal triumph. After today, the next historical year marker in her path is "1977," the last time the fans saw a local favorite (in this case, Virginia Wade) play in the Ladies singles final and lift the Venus Rosewater Dish on the final weekend of the fortnight. That may still be a "big ask" for a player who arrived in London this month with a 1-5 career mark on the AELTC lawns, but as of tonight the nation's dream scenario of a "British Double" (with Andy Murray) is alive and well.

In the early stages of their quarterfinal match, though, it was Halep who looked primed to come out on top.

The Romanian's backhand return winner got her an early break for a 2-0 lead in the 1st, then she held for 3-0 when Konta missed on consecutive returns after holding break point. Two games later, Konta missed another return on BP as Halep held for a 4-1 lead. But the mistakes didn't deter Konta from going for her shots, as her aggression would never wane in the match. She worked her way into the opening set, holding at love and going up love/40 on Halep's serve in game #7 and getting back the break, then holding from love/30 down to knot the score at 4-4. Still tied four games later, things went to a tie-break. Halep took a 2-1 lead after a long point had left both players, particularly Konta, seemingly winded, and the Romanian didn't waste time moving onto the next point as quickly as possible to take advantage of her fitness. A double-fault put a temporary crimp in Halep's surge, as it cut her lead to 3-2, but she didn't lose another point in the set, sweeping the final four as Konta contributed three errors (Halep added a crosscourt forehand winner, too, for good measure), winning the TB 7-2.

Again in the 2nd set, Konta was presented with opportunities to make a move, only to see her aggressive errors get in the way. Up 15/40 on Halep's serve in game #2, she committed four straight errors as the Romanian held for 1-1. In game #8, another missed return on BP led to still another Halep hold for 4-4. Three consecutive errors put Halep up 40/love in game #10, but the Brit battled back to deuce by increasing her aggression and putting pressure on the Romanian. Halep held for 5-5, but Konta's perseverance and unwavering game plan to go for her shots would ultimately serve her well. A love hold from Halep took the two into another TB. Consecutive Konta return errors put Halep up 2-1, but a big return off the Brit's racket set up a winner that leveled the score at 3-3. A point later, Halep stopped a rally to challenge a Konta shot that had been called in, and the reversal of the call gave her a 4-3 advantage. A long Konta backhand turned the ball over to Halep, up 5-4 and serving two points, with the match (and #1) on her racket for the very first time.

It was time to be brave one last time. Time to rise to the occasion. Time to grab the moment. Halep seemed good to go, showing no signs of nerves or negativity in the moment. But the celebratory moment never arrived for the Romanian. She lost three straight points to lose the TB 7-5, as history was snatched from her clutches before she could fully wrap her fingers around it. A backhand error off a Konta return lost the first point, then Konta's aggressive play gave *her* a SP. A backhand fired into the corner by the Brit took the set, sending things to a deciding 3rd, altering (at least for now) what had seemed about to become a moment to remember in WTA history, with Halep as Centre Court's leading protagonist. But despite Halep having taken advantage of her only BP in the opening set, constructing points well throughout, saving six of seven BP chances on her own serve, and keeping her head about her, as well as generally holding it high, it was Konta who'd soon be the star.

After having never changed her approach despite early difficulties, the match had finally turned in the Brit's favor.

With the crowd now full-throatedly in her corner, Konta got the key break of the 3rd set in game #5, then held for a 4-2 lead. Halep maintained a brave face, though, and didn't throw in the towel. Playing well, she waited for a chance to turn the momentum in her favor, but it never came. She held at love to keep close at 5-4, but Konta seemed to have all the answers as she served for the match. As if driven forward by a wind at her back, as well as the people in the stands, she could now do no wrong. Actually, maybe the crowd was a little TOO much on her side as, just moments after chair umpire Kader Nouni had admonished the fans about shouting out during rallies, on match point, one woman couldn't contain her (premature) joy, giving Konta's big moment an unfortunately (slightly) bitter aftertaste.

As a Halep shot landed near the baseline, a woman on Konta's side of the court screamed in excitement. Konta fired the ball back, but Halep noticeably hesitated, not sure if it was an "out" call or if Nouni might stop the point. She hit the ball, but it failed to clear the net. The match was over, but no one was quite sure if it was *really* over. Halep looked confused, and Konta didn't even know if she should celebrate. As it turned out, Nouni ruled that that fan hadn't interfered with play enough to warrant a re-playing of the point (it didn't sound like an "out" call, and Halep should have just hit the ball and questioned things afterward), so Konta had indeed won.

The incident robbed the moment of the joy it would have otherwise had, but history will likely forget it rather quickly. It has other things to contend with, no doubt. And, anyway, Konta may have an even bigger Centre Court moment in store for her in the future, maybe even (one or more) by the end of the week. After another impressive performance, a persistently aggressive one in which she never allowed doubt to creep into her game even after a far from perfect opening two sets, there's no reason to believe that Konta *can't* carry this mindset and form all the way to the greatest moment of her career, and one of the biggest in British tennis history.

Halep, though, will have to wait still longer for a moment of her own. *Her* dream has been deferred yet again. But this was hardly a disaster. She played well today, and came oh so close. Now she'll have to continue to prove that she's *still* a "new Simona." Halep remains star-crossed, but she has no reason to feel defeated. So far, so good...

Halep will likely have another shot at the #1 ranking this summer (maybe more than one, actually), and if she continues on her current path a slam title chance should be within her grasp once again, as well. She just can't even give up, and must always remain brave. It worked out for Konta today, and it still can for Halep, too.

Hey, it's not supposed to be easy, right? No matter how Ostapenko made it *look* in Paris.

...and, thus, with Halep's defeat, Karolina Pliskova becomes the 23rd woman to become the singles #1, the second Czech (Navratilova) and the sixth to do so without having won a slam title (Clijsters and Mauresmo eventually did).

I will definitely remember today! Although right now I am not celebrating a victory on the court, I have become the world number one. And this really means a lot to me. Actually, I can’t even realize what I have achieved. I worked very hard, as did all the people around me. Thanks to everyone who believed in me, as well as to those who doubted. Being the world number one is also a big responsibility for me. I’m aware of that and I can promise I will do my best not to disappoint in this role. Hopefully I’ll succeed. Once again I’d like to thank my family, my team of the closest people around me. Without you I wouldn’t be where I am. ???? Dnešní den si budu rozhodne pamatovat. Prestože zrovna nejásám po vyhraném zápase prímo na kurtu, stala jsem se svetovou jednickou. A to pro me znamená strašne moc. Vlastne si ani porádne nedokážu uvedomit, ceho jsem dosáhla. Pracovala jsem opravdu tvrde, stejne jako všichni lidé kolem me. Díky všem, kterí mi verili a vlastne i tem, kterí o mne pochybovali. Být svetovou jednickou je pro me zároven velká zodpovednost, to si uvedomuju a mužu slíbit, že udelám maximum abych v téhle roli nezklamala. Snad se to povede. Ješte jednou dekuji rodine, mému týmu a nejbližším kolem me. Bez vás bych nebyla tam, kde jsem.

A post shared by Karolina Pliskova (@karolinapliskova) on

To be continued.

...meanwhile, in the day's other quarterfinal match-ups...

#14 Garbine Muguruza def. #7 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3/6-4
Early in the day, the only QF match-up of former slam champions took place on Court 1, as Muguruza looked to follow up her win over #1-seeded Angelique Kerber with another in her fifth career meeting with Kuznetsova, against whom she held a 3-1 advantage. While Kuznetsova's first Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance in a decade came almost shockingly after the Russian had gone through the first four rounds without dropping a set, Muguruza spent the opening half of this tournament somewhat quietly flashing the form that makes her such a dangerous opponent when she's in top game (and mental) form. Operating with former Wimbledon champ Conchita Martinez as her coach at this tournament, the Spaniard has seemed more calm and focused than is often the case with regular coach Sam Sumyk. She'd advanced past Kerber yesterday despite the German looking very close to her '16 form, and she didn't lose any momentum when facing the Russian today, never dropping serve and only facing three BP in the match.

Taking a love/40 lead in game #4 on Kuznetsova's serve, Muguruza broke for a 3-1 lead when the Russian fired a passing shot long. At 5-3, the Spaniard won a blasting baseline rally on set point, displaying surprising defensive skills to keep the point alive, then sending a big crosscourt forehand into the corner that Kuznetsova couldn't get back. With a 6-3 1st set in hand, Muguruza saved a BP in game #2 of the 2nd, coming in behind a backhand down the line to put away a volley to extend the game. She held serve, continuing her match-long pattern of moving forward when possible and aggressively taking advantage of opportunities whenever they presented themselves. She broke Kuznetsova with a forehand winner to go up 3-2, then steadfastly refused to give in to any of the nasty impulses that sometimes creep into her game, causing her to suddenly "go bad" and hang her head after a particularly bad shot. Serving at 4-3, up 30/love, Muguruza flew an easy forehand at the net, but didn't let it be the start of a momentum swing. Instead, she played a serve and volley point to put away a winner on the next point. She held, then two games later, serving for the match at 5-4, 30/15 she netted a backhand swing volley, but then made up for it by firing an ace on the next point. On MP, Muguruza served up the middle and Kunetsova sailed her return, sending the Spaniard into her second Wimbledon semi in three years, leaving her one win away from her first final of any kind since she won the Roland Garros title last year.

#10 Venus Williams def. #13 Jelena Ostapenko 6-3/7-5
20-year old Ostapenko may eventually be a great champion, but 37-year old Williams is still in the process of recapturing her past Wimbledon glory. One year after she reached the SW19 semifinals, she did it again today (for the tenth time in her SW19 career), perfectly executing a game plan which insisted that the best way to attempt to tame the big-hitting Roland Garros champ would be to serve well (she won 77% of first serves, and faced just two BP), attack Ostapenko's second serve (the Latvian won just 38%) and play short points (the vast majority of the rallies were four shots or fewer) that wouldn't allow her power to flourish as she fired shocking winners from all areas of the court.

Playing under the Centre Court roof, Venus opened the match by firing three aces in the opening game, then went about jumping on Ostapenko's second serve, getting a break lead after winning game #2. She'd hold it the entire set. As the match went along, Ostapenko seemed to be getting better and better at handling the Williams pace of shot, adjusting to the Centre Court surroundings, and finding her own rhythm, but it was never quite enough. Needing to hold and hope that Venus would give her an opportunity to pounce and get things back on serve, Ostapenko held up most of the bargain on her end, but never saw Williams blink in any significant way. Williams fired another ace to hold for 4-1, and maintained her edge on points that only lasted a few strokes, while Ostapenko held an advantage when things went a bit longer. The closest the Latvian got to an opening came in game #9, when she held a tiny love/15 lead on the Williams serve, but then missed on a forehand after having fired a big return. Rather than leading love/30, it was 15/15. Venus held to take the set a few points later.

In game #1 of the 2nd set, Ostapenko's striking forehand winner down the line while the Latvian was running into the right sideline of the court showed that she was still a problem waiting to blow up in Venus' face if she couldn't continue to play the sort of game she had in the 1st. Ostapenko's deep return got game #3 to 30/30, and a forehand winner fired behind Williams gave her her first BP of the day, but Venus held serve. Seemingly bothered by the lost opportunity, Ostapenko played possibly her worst serve game of the match moments later and was broken to fall behind 2-1. But the fearless Latvian didn't give up. Instead, she dug in and created another opportunity. Finally moving Williams around the court with deep power shots, she went up 15/40 in game #6, then Venus double-faulted to give the break back. Backing up the break, Ostapenko held for 4-3, winning a third straight game and taking her first lead. A game later, she started to jump on the rare second serve that Williams presented her, producing errors that allowed her to take a 15/30 lead. But Venus answered the threat yet again, firing another ace and holding for 4-4.

With such little margin for error, Ostapenko's brief string of errors in game #11 proved to be her final undoing, putting her behind 15/40 and breaking her serve to give Williams a chance to serve out the match at 6-5. The Latvian's final opportunity to get back into match, and take her chances in yet another 3rd set, never materialized. Williams held at love, tying sister Serena for third place on the all-time Wimbledon women's match win list with #86, edging ahead of Ostapenko for the tour lead with her 14th slam match win of 2017, and reaching the semifinal stage at the same slam in back-to-back years for the first time since her three-year run at the AELTC from 2007-09.

Magdalena Rybarikova def. #24 CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3/6-3
In what turned out to be the last quarterfinal to finish, shifted over to resume under the Centre Court roof following Konta/Halep after having earlier been suspended mid-way through the 2nd set on Court 1, Vandeweghe chose the very worst day to play a clunker of a match. While Rybarikova, continuing her Cinderella SW19 run and adding another chapter to her fairytale grass court season (she's now 18-1), was a virtual savant on this day, CoCo was nothing short of a disaster. In the 17-game match, she committed 28 unforced errors, had an atrocious 42% first serve percentage (and Vandeweghe without her serve as a weapon is pretty inconsequential) and was generally was out of sorts all day, unable to figure out a way to deal with Rybarikova's athletic game, and growing more and more frustrated as the match sputtered to its ultimately obvious conclusion.

Vandeweghe dropped her serve to open the match, double-faulting on BP. It set the tone for the day, as she would consistently played with less aggression than coach Pat Cash surely would have wished, and saw her biggest weapon become a crippling liability. Eight games later, Vandeweghe couldn't volley back Rybarikova's big return, nearly rolling her ankle when she landed, then (barely) refraining from whacking her racket on the changeover chair after dropping a set for the first time in the tournament. She managed to open the 2nd by breaking the Slovak at love, though, and seemed to be finding her way into the match even while serving below a 50% clip. But Rybarikova got the break back a game later, then play was suspended by the rain at 2-2. The thought was that the break might allow CoCo to talk to Cash and develop a better game plan. But if that happened, it didn't work.

It was more of the same when play resumed on Centre. Even when she tried to be aggressive, especially without her serve backing her up, CoCo saw Rybarikova read her movement and simply deliver a passing shot by her at the net. When she did get her first serve in on the day, she won 63% of the points, but she just couldn't string together any series of successes, and her flagging confidence simply played into Rybarikova's hands, never making her fully deal with the inherent pressure of extending her career-best slam run. A double-fault broke Vandeweghe to put her down 4-2 then, serving to stay in the match two games later, Vandeweghe tried to call up her "inner Serena."

For the former (and future?) SW19 champ, a comeback under such circumstances might be just one clutch hold and a frightful roar away. But CoCo's not Serena, no matter how hard she might have tried to be here. A missed fade-away overhead handed Rybarikova a MP, but Vandeweghe saved it and two more MP. Finally, she got a first serve in and produced an error, reaching game point, then secured the hold by winning a big groundstroke-heavy rally. She let out a yell, but it felt more desperate/hopeful than fierce. After the umpire ruled that an incorrect call and immediate correction by her didn't prescribe a re-play of the point, Vandeweghe fell behind love/30. She tried to argue her side, but it was to no avail.

It likely wouldn't have mattered anyway. Two points later, it was all over, as the #87-ranked Rybarikova made it seventeen straight slams with a first-time major semifinalist.

...only one of the four scheduled mixed doubles matches were completed today, as #1-seeded Martina Hingis & Jamie Murray advanced past #16 Hradecka/Jebavy to reach the QF, putting the duo one round ahead of everyone else in the field.

...the junior singles Round of 16 is nearly awr, as fourteen of the sixteen scheduled matches managed to finish on this rainy Tuesday. So far, it's a virtual Bannerette party, as five U.S. girls have advanced, along with one each from nine other nations. The party could gain another invitee tomorrow as #1-seeded Kayla Day (vs. German qualifier Julie Niemeier) could still join her compatriots. The other match to finish features #12 Mai Hontama (JPN) vs. Chile's Fernanda Labrana.

Matches completed on Day 8 included wins from the Roland Garros junior champ (#2 Whitney Osuigue) and runner-up (#3 Claire Liu, who just won Roehampton and is 26-1 in her last 27 jr./pro matches). Polish qualifier Maja Chwalinksa pulled off the biggest upset, knocking off #5-seeded AO champ Marta Kostyuk (UKR) in straight sets. Yesterday, the little Pole left Bannerette Vicky Flores smashing her racket in rage after sending *her* packing.

Meanwhile Indian #15-seed Zeel Desai advanced past a retiring Marta Paigina (RUS). Swiss Simona Waltert defeated Hordette Amina Anshba, while Russia's Sofya Lansere took out #8-seeded Brit Emily Appleton. Other U.S. players advancing were Ann Li, Ellie Douglas and #14-seeded Sofia Sewing, while former U.S. player (now Canadian) Carson Branstine (#6) is still alive, along with #9 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) and #16 Lian En-shuo (TPE). Even the Brits have a contender, as Katie Swan (who has seemed to be eligible for junior slams for forever now, as she reached the AO girls final all the way back in January '15) defeated the U.S.'s Caty McNally.

...the wheelchair draw is out, and all the usual suspects are back, including Brit Jordanne Whiley following her wrist surgery. A year ago, Jiske Griffioen won the inaugural women's WC singles title at Wimbledon. The 32-year old Dutch vet is back as the #1 seed, but it's #2 Yui Kamiji, 23, who is still alive for the first true Grand Slam in WC tennis history, having already won the singles crowns in Melbourne and Paris this year. The Wimbledon singles is the only slam title the Japanese woman has never won, and a win at SW19 would allow her to become the first women to have ever won all eight titles. Griffioen is still missing a U.S. Open singles crown, but does have the Paralymic Golds in singles and doubles that Kamiji is lacking. Both have won Masters singles and doubles titles to round out the sport's biggest remaining titles. Of course, Esther Vergeer WOULD HAVE won everything, too, had Wimbledon had a WC singles competition years ago... probably a few times over, in fact.

Kamiji is back partnering Whiley in the doubles at this slam after Olympic considerations and Whiley's injury have kept them apart at recent majors. They won a Grand Slam as a pair in 2014, and have claimed eight wins together. Kamiji won this year's Roland Garros while playing with Marjolein Buis. The #1 seeds (and '17 AO champs) are Griffioen & Aniek Van Koot, who have won seven overall slams as a pair, as well as Paralympic Gold last year in Rio. While Kamiji/Whiley are unseeded, the two teams will face off in the opening semifinal round, so Griffioen and Kamiji won't extend their streak of meetings in slam finals to sixteen in a row (Kamiji won 10 of the previous 15 matches in the streak). Still, either Kamiji will reach her sixteenth straight final, or Griffioen her 19th (7-11). Van Koot has been with Griffioen her for seventeen of the last eighteen finals, as Griffioen was RU at the '14 AO with Buis.

The all-Dutch #2 seeded duo consists of Diede de Groot & Buis. 20-year old de Groot is looking for her first slam title, having won last year's Masters Doubles with Brit Lucy Shuker for her biggest crown thus far.

LIKE ON DAY 8: She'll be back.

IT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS ON DAY 8: One Williams moves out, another Williams moves in.

CONFESSION ON DAY 8: When I first saw these guys from a distance shot on screen today, I thought they were special red seats. Then I realized they were wearing those red coats.

...and, finally... it's down to Venus.


#14 Garbine Muguruza/ESP vs. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
#10 Venus Williams/USA vs. #6 Johanna Konta/GBR

Bellis/Vondrousova (USA/CZE) vs. #9 H.Chan/Niculescu (TPE/ROU)
Kuznetsova/Mladenovic (RUS/FRA) vs. Ninomiya/Voracova (JPN/CZE)
#12 Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) vs. #3 Y.Chan/Hingis (TPE/SUI)
#8 Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) vs. #2 Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS)

#1 Hingis/J.Murray (SUI/GBR) def. #16 Hradecka/Jebavy (CZE/CZE)
#12 Makarova/Mirnyi (RUS/BLR) vs. (WC) Rae/Skupski (GBR/GBR)
Lisicki/Peers (GER/AUS) vs. Martinez-Sanchez/Demoliner (ESP/BRA)
#9 Spears/Cabal (USA/COL) vs. L.Kichenok/Pavic (UKR/CRO)
Konjuh/Mektic (CRO/CRO) vs. #10 Dabrowski/Bopanna (CAN/IND)
Watson/Kontinen (GBR/FIN) vs. #4 Mirza/Dodig (IND/CRO)
Melichar/Begemann (USA/GER) vs. #11 Klepac/Nestor (SLO/CAN)
#15 Krejcikova/Venus (CZE/NZL) vs. #2 Vesnina/Soares (RUS/BRA)

x vs. #15 Zeel Desai/IND
Ann Li/USA vs. (Q) Maja Chwalinska/POL
Ellie Douglas/USA vs. #14 Sofia Sewing/USA
#10 Wang Xinyu/CHN vs. Simona Waltert/SUI
#6 Carson Branstine/CAN vs. x
#16 Liang En-shuo/TPE vs. #3 Claire Liu/USA
Sofya Lansere/RUS vs. #9 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Katie Swan/GBR vs. #2 Whitney Osuigwe/USA

#1 Jiske Griffioen/NED vs. Aniek Van Koot/NED
Jordanne Whiley/GBR vs. Deide De Groot/NED
Marjolein Buis/NED vs. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
Lucy Shuker/GBR vs. #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN

#1 Griffioen/Van Koot (NED/NED) vs. Kamiji/Whiley (JPN/GBR)
Ellerbrock/Shuker (GER/GBR) vs. #2 Buis/De Groot (NED/NED)

[by career slam SF]
22...Venus Williams
3...Garbine Muguruza
2...Johanna Konta
1...Magdalena Rybarikova
[by career WI SF]
10...Venus Williams
2...Garbine Muguruza
1...Johanna Konta
1...Magdalena Rybarikova
[consecutive slam SF]
[consecutive WI SF]
2 - Venus Williams
[WTA most career slam SF - active]
34 - Serena Williams (29-5)
22 - VENUS WILLIAMS (15-6)*
20 - Maria Sharapova (10-10)
[19=Hingis 12-7]
7 - Victoria Azarenka (4-3)
6 - Caroline Wozniacki (2-4)
6 - Jelena Jankovic (1-5)
5 - Svetlana Kuznetsova (4-1)
5 - Angelique Kerber (3-2)
5 - Petra Kvitova (2-3)
5 - Samantha Stosur (2-3)
5 - Aga Radwanska (1-4)
4 - Simona Halep (2-2)
4 - Vera Zvonareva (2-2)
3 - Sara Errani (1-2)
3 - Genie Bouchard (1-2)
[WTA most slam SF since 2010]
17 - Serena Williams (15-2)
10 - Maria Sharapova (6-4)
7 - Victoria Azarenka (4-3)
[6=Li 4-2]-ret.
5 - Angelique Kerber (3-2)
5 - Petra Kvitova (2-3)
5 - Aga Radwanska (1-4)
5 - Caroline Wozniacki (1-4)
4 - Simona Halep (2-2)
4 - Samantha Stosur (2-2)
[2017 Slam SF]
1...Jelena Ostapenko (1-0)
1...Serena Williams (1-0)
1...Simona Halep (1-0)
1...JOHANNA KONTA (0-0)*
1...Timea Bacsinszky (0-1)
1...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (0-1)
1...Karolina Pliskova (0-1)
1...CoCo Vandeweghe (0-1)
[2017 First-Time Slam SF]
AO - CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
RG - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (W)
WI - Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
[2017 Slam SF - by nation]
4...USA (3/0/1) = V.Williams (#11)
1...CRO (1/0/0)
1...CZE (0/1/1)
1...ESP (0/0/1) = Muguruza (#15)
1...GBR (0/0/1) = Konta (#7)
1...LAT (0/1/0)
1...ROU (0/1/0)
1...SUI (0/1/1)
1...SVK (0/0/1) = Rybarikova (#87)
[2017 WTA SF]
6 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-3+W)
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-1)
5 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (4-1)
4 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (4-0)
4 - Simona Halep, ROU (3-1)
4 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (2-2)
4 - Lucie Safarova, CZE (1-3)
[2015-17 WTA SF]
21 - Angelique Kerber (8/11/2)
20 - Karolina Pliskova (8/6/6)
19 - Simona Halep (9/6/4)
18 - Elina Svitolina (6/7/5)
18 - Aga Radwanska (8/9/1)
16 - Serena Williams (9/6/1)
15 - Caroline Wozniacki (7/4/4)
12 - Petra Kvitova (5/6/1)
12 - Dominika Cibulkova (1/9/2)
11 - JOHANNA KONTA (0/5/6)
11 - Kristina Mladenovic (3/3/5)
11 - VENUS WILLIAMS (5/3/3)
10 - Svetlana Kuznetsova (2/6/2)

Kiki Bertens, NED
Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
Madison Keys, USA
Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
Peng Shuai, CHN
Andrea Petkovic, GER
Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK (WI 17)
Patty Schnyder, SUI
Sloane Stephens, USA
CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
Elena Vesnina, RUS
Roberta Vinci, ITA
Yanina Wickmayer, BEL

2013 AO: Sloane Stephens/USA
2013 RG: -
2013 WI: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
2013 US: Flavia Pennetta/ITA
2014 AO: Genie Bouchard/CAN
2014 RG: Simona Halep/ROU (RU), Andrea Petkovic/GER
2014 WI: Lucie Safarova/CZE
2014 US: Ekatarina Makarova/RUS, Peng Shuai/CHN
2015 AO: Madison Keys/USA
2015 RG: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
2015 WI: Garbine Muguruza/ESP (RU)
2015 US: Roberta Vinci/ITA (RU)
2016 AO: Johanna Konta/GBR
2016 RG: Kiki Bertens/NED
2016 WI: Elena Vesnina/RUS
2016 US: Karolina Pliskova/CZE (RU)
2017 AO: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
2017 RG: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT (W)
2017 WI: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK

unseeded - Ann Jones, 1968
unseeded - Rosie Casals, 1969
unseeded - Francoise Durr, 1970
unseeded - Judy Dalton, 1971
unseeded - Yvonne Vermaak, 1983
unseeded - Catarina Lindqvist, 1989
unseeded - Gigi Fernandez, 1994
unseeded - Lori McNeil, 1994
unseeded - Meredith McGrath, 1996
unseeded - Anna Kournikova, 1997
unseeded - Natasha Zvereva, 1998
qualifier - Alexandra Stevenson, 1999
unseeded - Mirjana Lucic, 1999
unseeded - Jelena Dokic, 2000
wild card - Zheng Jie, 2008
unseeded - Petra Kvitova, 2010
unseeded - Tsvetana Pironkova, 2010
wild card - Sabine Lisicki, 2011
unseeded - Elena Vesnina, 2016
unseeded - Magdalena Rybarikova, 2017
#23 - Lucie Safarova, 2014
#23 - Sabine Lisicki, 2013 (RU)
#23 - Venus Williams, 2007 (W)
#21 - Vera Zvonareva, 2010 (RU)
#20 - Garbine Muguruza, 2015 (RU)
#20 - Kirsten Flipkens, 2013
#18 - Marion Bartoli, 2007 (RU)
#16 - Nathalie Tauziat, 1998 (RU)
#16 - Kathy Rinaldi, 1985
#15 - Marion Bartoli, 2013 (W)
#14 Garbine Muguruza, 2017
#14 - Venus Williams, 2005 (W)
#13 - Aga Radwanska, 2015
#13 - Genie Bouchard, 2014 (RU)
#13 - Maria Sharapova, 2004 (W)
#12 - Billie Jean King, 1982
#12 - Kimiko Date, 1996
#11 - Bettina Bunge, 1982
#10 Venus Williams, 2017
#10 - Billie Jean King, 1983
#10 - Gabriela Sabatini, 1986

*WIMBLEDON MATCH WINS - Open era women*
120 - Martina Navratilova
96 - Chris Evert
86 - Serena Williams*
74 - Steffi Graf
65 - Billie Jean King
50 - Jana Novotna
49 - Lindsay Davenport
46 - Maria Sharapova*

2015 Martina Hingis, SUI
2016 Venus Williams, USA
2017 Venus Williams, USA

2006 Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
2007 Justine Henin, BEL
2008 Zheng Jie, CHN
2009 Serena Williams, USA *
2010 Serena Williams, USA *
2011 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Sabine Lisicki, GER
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE *
2015 Garbine Muguruza, ESP & Maria Sharapova, RUS
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 Garbine Muguruza, ESP
* - won title

*WTA SINGLES #1's - by year first reached top spot*
1975 Chris Evert, USA
1976 Evonne Goolagong, AUS
1978 Martina Navratilova, USA
1980 Tracy Austin, USA
1987 Steffi Graf, FRG/GER
1991 Monica Seles, YUG
1995 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, ESP
1997 Martina Hingis, SUI
1998 Lindsay Davenport, USA
2001 Jennifer Capriati, USA
2002 Venus Williams, USA
2002 Serena Williams, USA
2003 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2005 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2008 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2009 Dinara Safina, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
[age at first title]
14 - Tracy Austin (Portland '77)
14 - Jennifer Capriati (Puerto Rico '90)
15 - Monica Seles (Houston '89)
15 - Martina Hingis (Filderstadt '96)
16 - Chris Evert (St.Pete '71)
16 - Steffi Graf (Hilton Head '86)
16 - Lindsay Davenport (Lucerne '93)
16 - Arantxa Sanchez (Brussels '88)
16 - Kim Clijsters (Luxembourg '99)
16 - Justine Henin (Antwerp '99)
16 - Maria Sharapova (Tokyo AIG '03)
16 - Dinara Safina (Sopot '02)
17 - Caroline Wozniacki (Stockholm '08)
17 - Ana Ivanovic (Canberra '05)
17 - Serena Williams (Paris Indoors '99)
17 - Venus Williams (Oklahoma City '98)
17 - Martina Navratilova (Orlando '74)
18 - Evonne Goolagong (Southport '70)
19 - Jelena Jankovic (Budapest '04)
19 - Victoria Azarenka (Brisbane '09)
20 - Amelie Mauresmo (Bratislava '99)
21 - KAROLINA PLISKOVA (Kuala Lumpur '13)
24 - Angelique Kerber (Paris Indoors '12)

#1 - Martina Navratilova (1978)
#2 - Jana Novotna (1997)
#2 - Petra Kvitova (2011)
#3 - Hana Mandlikova (1984)
#4 - Helena Sukova (1985)
#5 - Lucie Safarova (2015)
#7 - Nicole Vaidisova (2007)

August 2003 - Kim Clijsters (won 2005 US Open)
September 2004 - Amelie Mauresmo (won 2006 Australian)
August 2008 - Jelena Jankovic
April 2009 - Dinara Safina
October 2010 - Caroline Wozniacki
July 2017 - Karolina Pliskova
April 2015 - Sania Mirza (won 2015 Wimbledon)

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #6 Johanna Konta/GBR
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #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
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 ("??"): Nominees: Konta ("Brit"), Kamiji ("WC Career Slam Winner?")
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: Nominees: Ar.Rodionova (1st Rd. - saved 7 MP vs. Pavlyuchenkova; won 9-7 3rd for first career GS MD win; lost 2nd Rd.); Barty/Dellacqua (2nd Rd. - saved MP vs. Chuang/Doi, won 10-8 3rd)
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Venus Williams/USA (37 - oldest semifinalist 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 8. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Konta and Muguruza wene in the zone. Both of them were waiting for balls to come back, and stutter stepping because they had time.

Ostapenko actually played well after the first 3 games.

I did not realize that the wheelchair rankings would update this week, so Kamiji as already #1.

Stat of the Day-1-Number of WTA titles for Karina Habsudova.

It was just a coincidence that Habsudova goes with the seeming theme of this week, as similar to Mattek-Sands, she won Hopman Cup. That was in 1998 w/Karol Kucera, losing to Mary Pierce in singles, then beating her in doubles.

But the #1 is significant. Although there were others from her era, namely Henrietta Nagyova, who won 9 titles, the timing involved in her playing the 1993 AO made her the first woman to play under the Slovakian flag.

Finishing 1996 ranked at #11, she entered the Top 10 the next year, becoming the first Slovakian to do so. Since then, her ranking has only been eclipsed by the recently retired Daniela Hantuchova, and Dominika Cibulkova.

One career highlight? A winning record against Hingis 4-3.

Now for a look at the final four.

Grass records the last 3 years
Konta 25-11
Rybarikova 25-7
Muguruza 16-7
Williams 13-2

Venus is the only one on the list in which Wimbledon is the only tournament. Rybarikova is the only one with ITF numbers, going 10-0. None have a WTA grass title in this stretch.

Konta 3-2 Williams/no grass/Konta 3-1 hard
Williams 3-1 Muguruza/no grass
Rybarikova 2-2 Muguruza/Rybarikova 1-0 grass
Konta 2-1 Muguruza/Konta 1-0 grass
Konta 2-0 Rybarikova/both at Nottingham
Williams 2-0 Rybarikova/both on hard-haven't played since 2013

Quick note-Konta/Williams has been a fun rivalry, and she beat Williams in route to her Stanford and Miami titles.

Top 10 wins last 3 years(June 2015-current)
Rybarikova-4(Grass)Pliskova, Makarova(Hard) Bencic, Vinci
Williams-6(Grass)none(Clay)Konta(Hard)Kuznetsova, Kerber, Radwanska, Suarez Navarro, Muguruza
Konta-14(Grass)Halep, Kerber, Makarova(Clay)Vinci(Hard)Halep-2, V.Williams-2,Radwanska, Pliskova, Keys, Suarez Navarro, Kuznetsova,Muguruza
Muguruza-14(Grass)Kerber-2, Kuznetsova, Wozniacki(Clay)S.Williams, Bacsinszky,(Hard)Kuznetsova-2, Kvitova, Safarova, Kerber, Radwanska, Ivanovic, Svitolina

Ostapenko isn't top 10 yet, so Venus doesn't have one yet for this tournament, which fits her pattern, as she actually did not have any in 2016.

Two pretty good matchups, and a roof if needed. Should be fun.

Wed Jul 12, 12:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, Konta hasn't been intimidated by facing Williams in the past at all, even before she was in the Top 10. So far, she's seemed pretty immune to the pressure of winning matches at Wimbledon, too. I wonder if that'd be the case if she'd been an "original" Brit? Maybe it's helpful that she didn't have the chance to be psyched out by the notion all her life (though she was just 1-5 before this year).

Wed Jul 12, 04:48:00 PM EDT  

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