Sunday, August 27, 2017

U.S. Open Preview: Halep Hears a Who

Ah, so, here we are. The final slam of 2017.

"Oh, the places you'll go!
There is fun to be done!

There are points to be scored.
There are games to be won.

And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est
winner of all."

"Dr. Seuss"
Theodor Geisel (1904-91)
...children's book author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, book publisher, and artist

Was it really eight months ago that Serena Williams added one more major title, beating Venus yet again in a final, while Mirjana Lucic reached another major semifinal, albeit eighteen years after her first, while CoCo Vandeweghe became the latest (at the time) first-time slam semifinalist?

Yeah, it does seem like even *longer* ago than eight months, doesn't it? But, oh, this nearly three-quarters finished season has so many "under construction" storylines.

"You have to be odd to be number one."

Fastforward to late August, and the WTA circus, without the likes of Serena or Vika Azarenka, arrives in New York City with a whopping eight players with a shot at #1, some with a far more realistic chance than others.

Oddly enough, the player who walked off with the Open title (and the #1 ranking) a year ago might be the LEAST likely of the group to come out on top two weeks from now. Oh, Angie.

"I’m afraid sometimes you’ll play lonely games, too. Games you can’t win because you’ll play against you."
"Dr. Seuss"

Hmmm, maybe rubbing elbows will help the German find her New York groove?

After a banner run in Paris, then an encouraging follow-up in London, Latvian Thunder has been a bit less noisy on North American hard courts. But does that matter?

"I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends. My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!"
"Dr. Seuss"

Back in the big time, will it be difficult once again to put Jelena... err, Alona... in the corner?

Garbine Muguruza, meanwhile, has spent the last few weeks looking as if she's ready, willing and able to traverse the golden staircase to the top of the game. But will the hustle and bustle of the big city prove to be a far more difficult environment to navigate than the quiet district of southwest London proved to be a few months ago?

"And will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)"
"Dr. Seuss"

And what of the Dane?

"Everything stinks till it’s finished."
"Dr. Seuss"

Caroline Wozniacki has shined brighter on the New York stage than on any big court in the world, though she's never won the title there. Her best chance to finally knock down her last career obstacle seemed to be at this tournament a few weeks ago, but the Draw Gods were not kind to her heading into Day 1. The summer hard court exploits of the likes of Muguruza, Svitolina, Keys, Stephens and others have taken away much of the pressure that might have been on the Dane's shoulders at this Open just a short time ago, but will that be enough to allow her to slip through "unnoticed?"

And, then, of course, there's Simona Halep.

DARREN: They made the draw.
SIMONA: Who'd I get?
DARREN: Maria.
SIMONA: Who? Her?
DARREN: Yes, that who.
SIMONA: Who, me?
DARREN: Yeah, you.
SIMONA: That's what I thought you said.

Sometimes you visit the Cliffs. Sometimes the Cliffs visit you.

Of course, one could simply plan one's trip a little better, effectively being her own guide.

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
"Dr. Seuss"

Anyway, away we go...

1999 Serena Williams, USA
2000 Venus Williams, USA
2001 Venus Williams, USA
2002 Serena Williams, USA
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2006 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2007 Justine Henin, BEL
2008 Serena Williams, USA
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2010 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2012 Serena Williams, USA
2013 Serena Williams, USA
2014 Serena Williams, USA
2015 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER

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: Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2017 WI: Garbine Muguruza, ESP

8...Serena Williams (6-2)
4...Venus Williams (2-2)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
2...Victoria Azarenka (0-2)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (0-2)
1...Angelique Kerber (1-0)
1...Maria Sharapova (1-0)
1...Samantha Stosur (1-0)
1...Jelena Jankovic (0-1)
1...Karolina Pliskova (0-1)
1...Roberta Vinci (0-1)
1...Vera Zvonareva (0-1)
ALSO: Hingis (1-2)

101...Chris Evert
89...Martina Navratilova
89...Serena Williams*
73...Steffi Graf
71...Venus Williams*
62...Lindsay Davenport

1968 Virginia Wade, GBR
1979 Tracy Austin, USA
1990 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1998 Lindsay Davenport, USA
1999 Serena Williams, USA
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2015 Flavia Pennetta, ITA

1997 U.S. Open - Venus Williams
1999 U.S. Open - Serena Williams (W)
2004 Wimbledon - Maria Sharapova (W)
2004 U.S. Open - Svetlana Kuznetsova (W)
2008 U.S. Open - Jelena Jankovic
2009 U.S. Open - Caroline Wozniacki
2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone (W)
2010 Roland Garros - Samantha Stosur
2010 Wimbledon - Vera Zvonareva
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova (W)
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka (W)
2012 Roland Garros - Sara Errani
2012 Wimbledon - Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Sabine Lisicki
2014 Australian Open - Dominika Cibulkova
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep
2014 Wimbledon - Genie Bouchard
2015 Roland Garros - Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon - Garbine Muguruza
2015 U.S. Open - Roberta Vinci
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber (W)
2016 U.S. Open - Karolina Pliskova
2017 Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko (W)
NOTE: Hingis (1997 AO - W)

1970 Margaret Court, AUS
1972 Billie Jean King, USA
1976 Chris Evert, USA
1982 Chris Evert-Lloyd, USA
1983 Martina Navratilova, USA
1986 Martina Navratilova, USA
1987 Martina Navratilova, USA
1988 Steffi Graf, GER *
1989 Steffi Graf, GER
1993 Steffi Graf, GER
1995 Steffi Graf, GER
1996 Steffi Graf, GER
1997 Martina Hingis, SUI
2000 Venus Williams, USA *
2001 Venus Williams, USA
2002 Serena Williams, USA
2012 Serena Williams, USA *
* - also won Olympic Gold

10..Serena Williams, USA (age 30-35)*
3...Martina Navratilova, USA (age 30-33)
3...Margaret Court, AUS (age 30-31)
2...Billie Jean King, USA (age 30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert, USA (age 30 & 31)
1...Flavia Pennetta, ITA (age 33)
1...Virginia Wade. GBR (age 31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones, GBR (age 30)

*TEEN SLAM CHAMPS - since 1997*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (AO)*
1997 Iva Majoli, 19 (RG)*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (WI)
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (US)
1998 Martina Hingis, 17 (AO)
1999 Martina Hingis, 18 (AO)
1999 Serena Williams, 17 (US)*
2004 Maria Sharapova, 17 (WI)*
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, 19 (US)*
2006 Maria Sharapova, 19 (US)
* - first-time slam winner
NOTE: Ostapenko (won '17 RG at 20 yrs, 2 days)

**U.S. OPEN TOP SEEDS - since 2002**
2002 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2003 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
2005 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2006 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2007 Justine Henin, BEL (W)
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2009 Dinara Safina, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2011 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2014 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2015 Serena Williams, USA
2016 Serena Williams, USA
2017 Karolina Pliskova, CZE

*CAREER SLAM #1 SEEDS - active*
20...Serena Williams
6...Caroline Wozniacki
4...Maria Sharapova
3...Victoria Azarenka
3...Angelique Kerber
1...Venus Williams
1...Jelena Jankovic
1...Karolina Pliskova*

06 Sharapova (W), Henin-H. (F); Jankovic/Mauresmo
07 Henin (W), Kuznetsova (F); Chakvetadze/V.Williams
08 S.Williams (W), Jankovic (F); Dementieva/Safina
09 Clijsters (W), Wozniacki (F); Wickmayer/S.Williams
10 Clijsters (W), Zvonareva (F); V.Williams/Wozniacki
11 Stosur (W), S.Williams (F); Kerber/Wozniacki
12 S.Williams (W), Azarenka (F); Errani/Sharapova
13 S.Williams (W), Azarenka (F); Li/Pennetta
14 S.Williams (W), Wozniacki (F); Peng/Makarova
15 Pennetta (W), Vinci (F); Halep/S.Williams
16 Kerber (W), Ka.Pliskova (F); S.Williams/Wozniacki

2000 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2009 Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
2015 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2016 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2009 (WC) Kim Clijsters, BEL (W)
#28 - 2011 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#26 - 2015 Flavia Pennetta, ITA (W)
#19 - 2006 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
#16 - 2014 Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
#12 - 2005 Mary Pierce, FRA (RU)
#12 - 2007 Venus Williams, USA
#10 - 2001 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#10 - 2002 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
#10 - 2012 Sara Errani, ITA
#10 - 2014 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (RU)
#10 - 2016 Karolina Pliskova, CZE (RU)

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: Alona Ostapenko/LAT (W)
2017 WI: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
NOTE: 17 consecutive w/ first-timer (18/19)

2005 Victoria Azarenka/BLR d. Alexa Glatch/USA
2006 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS d. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2007 Kristina Kucova/SVK d. Urszula Radwanska/POL
2008 Coco Vandeweghe/USA d. Gabriela Paz/VEN
2009 Heather Watson/GBR d. Yana Buchina/RUS
2010 Daria Gavrilova/RUS d. Yulia Putintseva/RUS #
2011 Grace Min/USA d. Caroline Garcia/FRA
2012 Samantha Crawford/USA d. Anett Kontaveit/EST
2013 Ana Konjuh/CRO d. Tornado Black/USA
2014 Marie Bouzkova/CZE d. Anhelina Kalinina/UKR
2015 Dalma Galfi/HUN d. Sonya Kenin/USA
2016 Kayla Day/USA d. Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
#- players now represent AUS & KAZ

[won Girls & Ladies titles]
Lindsay Davenport (1992 Jr. Champion; 1998 Women's champion)
Martina Hingis (1994 Junior RU; 1997 Women's Champion)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2001 Junior RU; 2004 Women's champion)
Victoria Azarenka (2005 Junior champion; 2012-13 Women's RU)

[since end of Evert/Navratilova era]
1991 Monica Seles (Roland Garros)
2002 Jennifer Capriati (Australian Open)
2002 Serena Williams (U.S. Open)
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne (Australian Open)
NOTE: Ka.Pliskova is '17 U.S. Open #1 seed (first at slam)

1991 Monique Kalkman, NED
1992 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1993 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1994 Monique Kalkman, NED
1995 Monique Kalkman, NED
1996 Maaike Smit, NED
1997 Daniela Di Toro, AUS
1998 Esther Vergeer, NED
1999 Daniela Di Toro, AUS
2000 Esther Vergeer, NED
2001 Sonja Peters, NED
2002 Esther Vergeer, NED
2003 Esther Vergeer, NED
2004 Maaike Smit, NED
2005 Esther Vergeer, NED
2006 Esther Vergeer, NED
2007 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 --
2009 Esther Vergeer, NED
2010 Esther Vergeer, NED
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 --
2013 Aniek van Koot, NED
2014 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 Jordanne Whiley, GBR
2016 --
2005 Korie Homan & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2006 Jiske Griffioen & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2007 Jiske Griffioen & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2008 --
2009 Korie Homan & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2010 Esther Vergeer & Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer & Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2012 --
2013 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2014 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2015 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2016 --
NOTE: event not held due to 2008/12/16 Paralympics

2014 Jamie Loeb (North Carolina)
2015 Robin Anderson (UCLA)
2016 Danielle Collins (Virginia)

#1 Ka.Pliskova d. Brady
Bellis d. #20 Vandeweghe
#15 Keys d. #4 Svitolina
#28 Tsurenko d. #12 Ostapenko
#5 Wozniacki d. #9 V.Williams
#3 Muguruza d. #18 Garcia
Stephens d. #30 Goerges
#2 Halep d. #22 Peng

...if Pliskova doesn't handle the pressure of her #1 seed well, the top quarter could break open wide like at least one section has at so many recent slams. Hence, the seventeen consecutive majors with at least one first-time slam semifinalist. The most likely newcomer to emerge if such a thing happens? If she can maintain her level of play from a few weeks ago, maybe Bellis. Radwanska has never produced much in New York, while Vandeweghe continues to lurk, though one wonders if it might be 2018 when her coaching/pupil partnership with Pat Cash truly clicks as far as results are concerned. Mladenovic is in here, too, but when a tight straight sets loss (7-5/7-5) to a recently faltering player (Babos) a week ago is the only "good" recent result to call upon for optimism (4 con. losses on summer HC, 1-5 in her last 6 matches), it's hard to hang a hat on her turning things around here. She could get upset by Monica Niculescu in the 1st Round. And, of course, Sveta is hanging around... but, well, nah, I'm not even going there. The Curse still lives and breathes, after all.

Quarter #2 is filled with semifinal and champion contenders, but all have issues to contend with. Defending champ Kerber has been "in search of..." all season. Svitolina has yet to pull everything together for a final four run (though she came achingly close in Paris, but has rebounded well in North America). Keys looked magnificent at times on hard court this summer, but will her wrist hold up? Ostapenko has experienced her first post-RG speedbump in North America, going 0-2. Might a Tsurenko, or the Dashas (Kasatkina or Gavrilova) catch an emotional wave and capitalize on the others' inabilities to ignite? Any of those three would qualify for the first-time slam semifinalist role at this Open.

Wozniacki's season has seemingly been revving up for this slam, but she might have to survive multiple big-name battles to duplicate or better her semifinal result from a year ago. The Dane might have the worst draw of any top seed, as she could have to knock off Makarova in the 2nd Round, followed by Lucic-Baroni, Venus and Muguruza just to return to the final four. Muguruza, looking to (at least) put up Round of 16 result at all four majors in a season for the first time, but in the sort of form that could see her in line for a rare SW19/US title combo, has a string of tricky opponents in front of her (starting with Lepchenko), but there's none she can't beat and won't be the favorite against. The Spaniard has the chance to step into the "big shoes" left by the absent former slam winners in this draw and assume the lead role on the tour until Serena (a player Garbi has had big stage success against, it should be noted) returns in '18 and tries to reclaim what she left behind.

The 1st Round match-up between Halep and Sharapova looms over the entire bottom quarter. The Romanian is the most likely to emerge from the 32 players there, but she's 0-6 vs. Sharapova, whose lack of match play and injured forearm makes her a wobbly bet for the deep run that her upset of Halep might give her the opportunity to pull off, so it'd probably be "best" for Simona to advance. Thus, I'm picking Halep to go through, though it's a *really* sketchy pick. So, if you remove the players in the "do-over on hard court" of the '14 RG final from the conversation, who's left to pick? Well, Konta has been disappointing on hard court this summer after her Wimbledon SF run, so I wonder if she'll even get past an in-form Goerges in a possible 3rd Round match-up. Stephens has looked remarkable at times in recent weeks, only seemingly being ultimately felled by finally running out of steam deep into back-to-back big events in Toronto and Cincinnati. With matches spread out a bit more at a major, she might not have that same issue in New York. Meanwhile, Peng (a former semifinalist), Konjuh ('16 QF) and Sevastova ('16 QF) -- and maybe even a real wild card like Donna Vekic, who watched from the sidelines as BF Stan Wawrinka won the title a year ago, and has gone on to have her best season in ages in' 17 -- stand by looking for a "Ms. Opportunity"-like chance to make a run.

#1 Ka.Pliskova d. Bellis
#15 Keys d. #28 Tsurenko
#3 Muguruza d. #5 Wozniacki
Stephens d. #2 Halep

...again, it could be chaos at the top of the draw of Pliskova falls early. As much as I'd like to pick Wozniacki, I wonder if she'll make it this far with her draw. The pick of the Dane in her match vs. Venus from the Round of 16 stands out like a sore thumb, after all. Halep has beaten Stephens twice on HC this summer, but this is a slam and a great deal could be at stake (especially if the #1-ranked Czech is no longer in the draw)... and that hasn't exactly been the recipe for success for Simona, has it?

#15 Keys d. #1 Ka.Pliskova
#3 Muguruza d. Stephens

...I feel much better about the Spanish part of this equation than the other side. But these *would* be highly-anticipated semifinals.

#3 Muguruza d. #15 Keys

...the only players to win in London and NYC back-to-back in the Open era have been named Court, King, Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Hingis and Williams. Is Mugu ready to rise to such a level? She seems to be. But we shall have to see.

Here's ATP Backspin's Galileo West's take on the upcoming action at Flushing Meadows.

This BACKSPINNER thought there were nine potential candidates for the top ranking. There are only eight. Here are the power rankings of the eight, in order from most likely to least.

1- G. Muguruza
2- E. Svitolina
3- S. Halep
4- V. Williams
5- S. Kuznetsova
6- K. Pliskova
7- J. Konta
8- C. Wozniacki

Muguruza has been in great form and only has to make the fourth round to make herself eligible. Svitolina is not a good slam player, even in France, but she has to break the hoodoo eventually. Halep landed the Supernova. Plus, she has never lived up to the hype. Venus and Kuznetsova are in the same boat - former champions with good form recently. But you can trust Venus. You might trust Sveta to boil an egg, but to win a slam? We've seen very little from the world number one. Konta would need a lot of help, but she has the weapons. To have a shot at the top spot the Dane would need to win a slam. The day that happens is the day the New York Jets win a Super Bowl.

#1 Pliskova d. #14 Mladenovic
#8 Kuznetsova d. #20 Vandeweghe
#15 Keys d. #25 Gavrilova
#13 Ostapenko d. #6 Kerber
#9 Williams d. #5 Svitolina
#3 Muguruza d. #18 Garcia
Stephens d. #7 Konta
#22 Peng d. Sharapova

...Pliskova is 3-0 in finals this year, all of them premier. She made back to back semi-finals in March and another semi at Roland Garros. It's not exactly stellar. But this is her slam. And her draw is easy. Unless Lisicki catches fire she'll be fine. I see Strycova there but I also Kiki. She could upset the top seed, the Frenchwoman, but I'll put my faith in the world's best player. The Russian opens with Vondrousova. She also has Safarova lurking. Toughest of all is going to be her third round clash with Catherine Cartan Bellis. She missed out on a seed by a whisker. But if she makes it to the third round you would think the Russian would have too much slam experience. Radwanska up the top is ripe for the upset. I'll take Coco over Yulia.

It's a horror draw for Svitolina. She has Siniakova, Bouchard, Gavrilova and then Keys. I'll take the field in that scenario. She hasn't looked good at slams and one of them will pick her off. Why not Dasha? If Keys can survive Mertens she'll roll to the quarters. Last year Ostapenko went 0-4 in slams. The year before she lost in qualies at Roland Garros, but did win two slam matches that year. This year I think she'll make it three quarterfinals [or better] in a row. She'll get past Dasha K, A-Pavs and then Kerber. It won't be smooth, but that doesn't matter. I don't know about Kerber. She'll win three matches, though.

Watch out for Maria Sakkari. Apart from her, this section is all about Venus and Caro. Aggression and defense. The number one versus the slam winner [you know what I mean]. And there isn't a slam in the world where I'd take Caro over Venus. And with the American crowd here combined with the fact Venus is a two-time winner...well, it's a no-brainer. Plus, the Dane has never figured out how to play at slams. She has been to six semi-finals at slam level, five of them in New York. She has beaten an unseeded player in the two she won. In the other four in which she played a seeded player she has won just a single set. In the other section, the Spaniard will reign supreme. Garcia will beat Kvitova, who isn't really back yet.

A fourth round would be a fantastic result for Stephens, backing up her two semi-finals. She'll beat Vinci, Cibulkova and Barty. Konta has gone 2-2 on the hard-courts. If she even wins four matches she'll be no match for Stephens. Now that the Brit has finally found self belief she is a far better player. In the final quarter, Halep drew the worst name possible. She is 0-6 against the Russian. I just can't go against that. But how much does 'Pova have in the tank?

#8 Kuznetsova d. #1 Pliskova
#15 Keys d. #13 Ostapenko
#3 Muguruza d. #9 Williams
#7 Konta d. #22 Peng

...Kuznetsova is 2-2 in the head-to-head with the Czech. But she is 2-1 on hard-courts, and knows how to beat her. If Sveta gets here and Pliskova is still struggling, the Russian should win. In the other the NY crowd will push Keys over. If that matchup happens it will be one of the best of the whole tournament. I am not picking against the Spaniard. Not even Venus can beat her on top form. We know this. In the final quarterfinal, Stephens is just a better player than Peng. The home crowd will give her a boost, too.

#8 Kuznetsova d. #15 Keys
#3 Muguruza d. Stephens

...The last time Sveta made the quarters of Wimbledon she got trounced by Justine Henin in the final in New York. The same will happen here. Keys has been hurt this year and she may struggle to find rhythm against the Russian. The American is going to run out of steam here. Muguruza will singlehandedly end American hopes at the slam. Unless, of course, Taylor Fritz does something extraordinary.

#3 Muguruza d. #8 Kuznetsova

...You thought it'd be Sveta, didn't you? Nope. Each time the Spaniard has beaten her this year she has won the title. It'll happen again here. The inside-out backhand of Muguruza will be key, and the return of the Russian's second serve.


NOTE: Galileo and I did our first "Backspin Slam Draft" for this U.S. Open with a roster of 64 players (32 men and 32 women) for both of us garnering points with wins in each round. I'll update that once play begins, as well as the latest Colt Slam Challenge, though I doubt it'll be called *exactly* that again over the next two weeks. - tds

All for now. Day 1 awaits.


Blogger colt13 said...

Because of the timing of the last 3 posts, the comments are rolled into one.

To get the big one out of the way-I too, initially had Kvitova on my preliminary down list. Then I saw the hand, which I have to give the doctors and staff credit, because that looked like an amputation waiting to happen. Assume Kvitova is just trying to get some "normalcy" by traveling, but no real expectations.

Vondrousova and Osaka are in doubles(not together), so hopefully close to 100 pct. And Sharapova looks good enough to get through one match.

I wanted to pick Bellis, but I hated her draw. It is worth mentioning that Vandeweghe and Muguruza have never been past the 2nd rd here, Bellis already has reached the 3rd.

And what we thought would happen has, Maria/Simona(after Shania) on night 1, Keys on night 2. Guesstimate of night 3? Williams/Dodin or Muguruza/Liu.

Sun Aug 27, 04:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, that's why, while it's a headline-grabber, Halep/Sharapova might not be a good thing for the tournament/tour. Halep is probably more likely to go deep, but Sharapova will be (well, should be) healthy enough for one match, at least. So Maria might win that match, but still be gone by the weekend.

I suspect Halep might hope to make it a long match and hope Sharapova isn't able to go the distance (say, a TKO in the 10th, right off the top of my head).

Hard to imagine it won't be Venus under the lights (esp. w/ no Serena around).

Sun Aug 27, 04:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Regarding Angie, Kiki and Alona

And when you’re
in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

Sun Aug 27, 05:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha! I think the dynamics of this slam work quite well with such shenanigans, don't they? :)

Sun Aug 27, 06:50:00 PM EDT  

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