Sunday, September 10, 2017

3Q Awards: I Know What You Did This Summer

The U.S. Open is over, so who were the stars of the summer?

1. Sloane Stephens, USA
...after starting the summer hard court season without a win on the season after returning from foot surgery, Future Sloane was suddenly and unexpectedly unleashed on the WTA landscape as Stephens reached back-to-back Premier semis in Toronto and Cincinnati, notched three Top 10 wins, rose from #957 to #17 in the rankings in less than two months and won her maiden slam title at Flushing Meadows. Now what? Will this Sloane become the default version of Stephens, or will she recede from the big stage once again once the bigger expectations return?
2. Madison Keys, USA
...the Stanford champion pushed aside her penchant for inconsistency and was often a dominant force on summer hard courts after an injury-plagued first seven months of the season. In New York, she became the Open's Queen of the Nighttime World and reached her first slam final, only to be undone by a bad day and a performance from Stephens that belied Sloane's similar lack of big final experience.
3. Chan Yung-Jan & Martina Hingis, TPE/SUI
...after struggling to find a suitable post-Sania partner, Martina seems to have hit the lottery with Chan. The pair added Cincinnati and U.S. Open titles to their season haul this summer, and Hingis grabbed her second straight slam Mixed crown to run her career combined slam total to 25 titles.

4. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
...the Spaniard won Cincinnati and came to Flushing Meadows as the Open favorite. It wasn't mean to be, as she ran into a resurgent Great Petra in the Round of 16. It worked out all right, though, as her consolation prize was to inherit the #1 ranking from Karolina Pliskova, giving Spain the top player in both the men's *and* women's games for the first time.
5. Elina Svitolina, UKR
...the breakthrough SF-or-better slam performance will have to wait until 2018, but the Ukrainian is getting closer, reaching the 4th Round at the Open (she led Keys 4-2 in the 3rd set) and winning her third big Premier title of the season at Toronto. She was one of the final three woman (of eight at the start of play) with a shot at #1 at the Open.

6t. CoCo Vandeweghe, USA and Venus Williams, USA
...the "other half" of the first all-Bannerette U.S. Open semifinals in New York since 1981 (and first at any slam since '85), Vandeweghe and Venus saw the spotlight stolen from them with career-best performances from both Keys and Stephens, respectively. Still, it's Williams' third SF-or-better slam result this season (her first such season-long run since '02) and CoCo's second major semi (w/ AO) of 2017. Vandeweghe also reached the Stanford final, and won the doubles title there before the hard court tour headed east for the rest of the summer.
8t. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS and Elena Vesnina, RUS
...Makarova won her first tour singles title in three and a half years with her run in Washington, then joined with longtime partner Vesnina to take the Cincinnati doubles title in a worthy follow-up to their Wimbledon crown. Makarova didn't produce a deep run at the Open, but eliminated Caroline Wozniacki in the 2nd Round.
10. Julia Goerges, GER
...the German didn't actually win anything, but the consistency of her results was notable. She reached singles finals in Bucharest and Washington, the QF in Cincinnati and the U.S. Open 4th Round before losing to Stephens in three sets.

Irina-Camilia Begu, ROU and Kiki Bertens, NED: they swept the singles and doubles in Bucharest (Begu) and Gstaad (Bertens)
CiCi Bellis, USA: her early Open exit and the subsequent runs by fellow Bannerettes at Flushing Meadows shoved her way down in the conversation list, but during the summer Bellis was one of the eyebrow-raising stories of hard court season with a Stanford SF run and wins over Cornet, Goerges, Kuznetsova and Kvitova over a two week stretch
Simona Halep, ROU: She *still* didn't take the #1 ranking, but she reached the Cincinnati final and was one of just two women (Wozniacki was the other) to defeat Stephens in Sloane's eighteen (15-3) summer hard court matches. In fact, Simona did it twice.
Petra Kvitova, CZE: The right woman at the right time. Petra's unexpected -- but oh so welcome -- flashes of brilliance en route to the QF at Flushing Meadows (which included a win over Wimbledon champ and new #1 Muguruza) was just what tennis, and everyone else, needed.

Karolina Pliskova, CZE: she lost her #1 ranking and, with her serve failing to heat up as it did last summer, couldn't return to the U.S. Open final. But the Czech still might end up as the season-ending #1, as she was just 4-5 in tour events last 4Q following her '16 Open run and won't be asked to defend many points.

Lucie Safarova, CZE: the Maiden assumed the #1 doubles ranking in place of injured partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands and, briefly, gave the WTA top ranked players in BOTH disciplines who hailed from the Czech Republic

When #1 meets #1! ??Czech represent!!! ???? #pojd????#proud #jsme #nejlepsi #cesko @karolinapliskova

A post shared by Lucie Safarova (@lucie.safarova) on

Anastasija Sevatova, LAT: She followed up her '16 U.S. Open QF with another, ending Sharapova's run along the way and coming closer than anyone (up 3-1 in the 3rd) to derailing what turned out to be Stephens' title turn
Maria Sharapova, RUS: she returned to action in New York, immediately stole the spotlight with a headline-grabbing upset of #2 Halep on Night 1, brought out the worst in some people and the best in others, and then ran out of steam mid-tournament after a spring and summer of spotty match play and injury issues, proving her worth to the sport, even if the return of her slam-winning capability still lags a little behind
Katerina Siniakova, CZE and Peng Shuai, CHN and Dasha Gavrilova, AUS: the Czech (Bastad) and Chinese vet (Nanchang) won early 3Q crowns, while Gavrilova closed out the pre-Open tune-up season with a career-boosting maiden tour singles title in New Haven, giving her a more tangible honor to go with her recent rise to the top of the Aussie rankings
Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: whining about Sharapova's match placement at the Open (after *she* had been eliminated early) notwithstanding, the Dane had an impressive summer, reaching finals in Bastad and Toronto. She's still looking for her first 2017 title in six finals, though.

And, of course...

Serena: Otherwise known as the newest Mama Williams... and probably as "the new (insert slam here) champion" once again by this time next year

To be continued...

=DAY 14 NOTES= of the final two WTA players to lift a title at this U.S. Open did so for the second time this weekend.

Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan picked up their first slam title as a pair, and seventh overall this season (they're 44-6), with a 6-3/6-2 win over Czechs Lucie Hradecka & Katerina Siniakova in the doubles final on Sunday. It's Hingis' 25th overall slam title, and her 13th in women's doubles (one behind both Williams Sisters among active players), while it's Chan's first major title. She'd been 0-3 in previous WD slam finals -- 0-2 in 2007 and with another loss in '15 -- and 0-1 in MX finals, as well.

...16-year old Amanda Anisimova won the all-Bannerette girls singles final over Coco Gauff, the third straight such U.S.-dominated championship match this slam season on the junior level. Her 6-0/6-2 win not only makes it three straight junior slam winners from the U.S. but four at the last five majors, two in a row at Flushing Meadows, and four in seven in New York.

U.S. Open 2017 Junior Champion ????????

A post shared by AMANDA (@amandaanisimova) on

Gauff, 13, didn't go down meekly, though, saving ten MP on serve in the final game of the match before Anisimova finally won.

Olga Danilovic & Marta Kostyuk won the girls doubles crown, defeating Lea Boskovic (CRO) & Wang Xiyu (CHN) in a 6-1/7-5 final. Serb Danilovic won the girls doubles at Wimbledon earlier this year, while Ukrainian Kostyuk was the AO singles champ. the women's wheelchair singles final, top-seeded Yui Kamiji made her case for holding onto her high position in the women's game, as the 23-year old from Japan held off the latest rush from 20-year old #2-seed Diede de Groot. In the first singles match-up between the two on a slam stage, Kamiji claimed her fifth career slam singles crown with a 7-5/6-2 victory. The 23-year old from Japan won three of the four singles slams in 2017 (de Groot won SW19), as well as the RG & WI doubles (her 10th & 11th slam titles).

She'll enter 2018 with a chance to become the first player to win all eight slam singles & doubles crowns, needing only a singles win at the AELTC to complete the Career Slam set. the WTA 125 Series event in Dalian, China it was Kateryna Kozlova denying Vera Zvonareva her biggest title since 2011, defeating the 32-year old Hordette 6-4/6-2. It's the Ukrainian's biggest title.

...on the ITF circuit, still more comebacks.

Polona Hercog has already made her way back from injury this season, returning in Paris for RG qualifying after having been out since last year's U.S. Open. She then qualified for Wimbledon and reached the 3rd Round. She won her second ITF title of the summer this weekend at the $25K in Balatongolar, Hungary (she's 13-1 in ITF singles finals, 2-2 in WTA), defeating... wait for it... Greta Arn for the title. Yes, that Greta Arn. The now 38-year old Hungarian (she also played for Germany for nearly a decade) won a pair of tour singles titles in her career before retiring in 2013, only to do the "in" thing and return to the sport earlier this year. This was Arn's fifth tournament back this summer (she reached a SF in her second), and she entered the week ranked #731. She qualified at the event, and put up wins over Kristina Schmiedlova and Irina Maria Bara to reach her first singles final since winning the WTA Auckland event in 2011 (defeating Sharapova, Goerges and Wickmayer).

The only player older than Arn who currently holds a tour ranking is fellow 38-year old Patty Schnyder, though the soon-to-retire Kimiko Date, 46, does appear in the tour-level Tokyo singles draw in the upcoming week in what will be her farewell tournament.

"HEY, NOW..." ON DAY 14: Is there an echo in here?

LIKE ON DAY 14: Hana speaks!

It was thirty-two years ago that Mandlikova defeated both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova en route to the Open title, winning the final in a 3rd set tie-break.

LIKE ON DAY 14: A unexpected new tradition?

LIKE ON DAY 14: ...and a not-unexpected continuing one.

ANSWERING THE QUESTION... ON DAY 14: ...what does the world #1 do on an uneventful Sunday?


...and, finally...

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC CAN [Int'l/Carpet Indoor]
16 Singles Final: Dodin d. Davis
16 Doubles Final: Hlavackova/Hradecka d. Kudryavtseva/Panova
17 Top Seeds: Safarova/Dodin

#1 Safarova d. #3 Babos
#2 Dodin d. Krejcikova
#1 Safarova d. #2 Dodin

(WC) Andreescu/Branstine d. #1 Babos/Hlavackova

TOKYO, JAPAN [Int'l/Hard]
16 Singles Final: McHale d. Siniakova
16 Doubles Final: Aoyama/Ninomiya d. Rae/Smith
17 Top Seeds: Mladenovic/Sh.Zhang

#6 Osaka d. Krunic
#2 Sh.Zhang d. #3 Mertens
#6 Osaka d. #2 Sh.Zhang

#1 Ninomiya/Voracova d. #2 Kato/Hozumi

Sloane Stephens/USA def. #15 Madison Keys/USA 6-3/6-0

#2 Y.Chan/Hingis (TPE/SUI) def. #7 Hradecka/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) 6-3/6-2

#1 Hingis/J.Murray (SUI/GBR) def. #3 H.Chan/Venus (TPE/NZL) 6-1/4-6 [10-8]

#4 Amanda Anisimova/USA def. (WC) Coco Gauff/USA 6-0/6-2

#1 Danilovic/Kostyuk (SRB/UKR) def. Boskovic/Wang Xiyu (CRO/CHN) 6-1/7-5

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED 7-5/6-2

#1 Buis/de Groot (NED/NED) def. Mathewson/van Koot (USA/NED) 6-4/6-3

Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State) def. Ingrid Neel (Florida) 4-6/6-4/6-4

The stage at The West End Theater watching The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

2005 Victoria Azarenka/BLR def. Alexa Glatch/USA
2006 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2007 Kristina Kucova/SVK def. Urszula Radwanska/POL
2008 CoCo Vandeweghe/USA def. Gabriela Paz/VEN
2009 Heather Watson/GBR def. Yana Buchina/RUS
2010 Daria Gavrilova/RUS def. Yulia Putintseva/RUS
2011 Grace Min/USA def. Caroline Garcia/FRA
2012 Samantha Crawford/USA def. Anett Kontaveit/EST
2013 Ana Konjuh/CRO def. Tornado Alicia Black/USA
2014 Marie Bouzkova/CZE def. Anhelina Kalinina/UKR
2015 Dalma Galfi/HUN def. Sonya Kenin/USA
2016 Kayla Day/USA def. Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
2017 Amanda Anisimova/USA def. Coco Gauff/USA

AO: Vera Lapko, BLR
RG: Rebeka Masarova, SUI
WI: Anastasia Potapova, RUS
US: Kayla Day, USA
AO: Marta Kostyuk, UKR
RG: Whitney Osuigwe, USA
WI: Claire Liu, USA
US: Amanda Anisimova, USA

1978 Linda Siegel
1979 Alycia Moulton
1980 Susan Mascarin
1981 Zina Garrison
1982 Beth Herr
1986 Elly Hakami
1988 Carrie Cunningham
1989 Jennifer Capriati
1992 Lindsay Davenport
1994 Meilen Tu
1995 Tara Snyder
2008 CoCo Vandeweghe
2011 Grace Min
2012 Samantha Crawford
2016 Kayla Day
2017 Amanda Anisimova

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

14...Serena Williams, USA
14...Venus Williams, USA
5...Sara Errani, ITA
5...Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
5...Lucie Safarova, CZE
5...Roberta Vinci, ITA
[Open era]
31...Martina Navratilova, TCH/USA
21...Pam Shriver, USA
18...Natasha Zvereva, USSR/BLR
17...Gigi Fernandez, USA
14...Serena Williams, USA*
14...Venus Williams, USA*
12...Jana Novotna, TCH/CZE

**TOTAL SLAM TITLES - active**
39...Serena Williams (23-14-2)
25...MARTINA HINGIS (5-13-7)*
23...Venus Williams (7-14-2)
64...Margaret Court, AUS
59...Martina Navratilova, TCH/USA
39...Billie Jean King, USA
39...Serena Williams, USA*
37...Margaret Osborne duPont, USA
35...Louise Brough, USA
35...Doris Hart, USA
31...Helen Wills Moody, USA
26...Elizabeth Ryan, USA
23...Venus Williams, USA*
23...Steffi Graf, GER

3 - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
3 - Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3 - Barty/Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
2 - Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE
2 - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
7 - MARTINA HINGIS, SUI (+2 Mixed)
4 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
3 - Ash Barty, AUS
3 - Casey Dellacqua, AUS
3 - Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
3 - Lucie Safarova, CZE
3 - Elena Vesnina, RUS

2013 AO - #1 Aniek Van Koot/NED def. #2 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2013 RG - Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2013 US - #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED def. #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2014 AO - #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2014 RG - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2014 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 AO - Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2015 RG - #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 US - Jordanne Whiley/GBR def. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 AO - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 RG - Marjolein Buis/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2016 WI - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 PA - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #4 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 RG - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 WI - Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #3 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #20 CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): Sloane Stephens/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: Jamie Loeb/USA def. (PR) Vera Zvonareva/RUS 7-6(4)/5-7/6-4 (3:16; delay after fan faints as Loeb to serve out at 5-4 in 3rd)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - (WC) Maria Sharapova/RUS def. #2 Simona Halep/ROU 6-4/4-6/6-3 (Night 1)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - #9 Venus Williams/USA def. #13 Petra Kvitova/CZE 6-4/3-6/7-6(2)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): SF - Sloane Stephens def. #9 Venus Williams 6-1/0-6/7-5
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION WOMEN'S MATCH: (WC) Maria Sharapova def. #2 Simona Halep 6-4/4-6/6-3 (Night 1)
FIRST VICTORY: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE (1st Rd. - def. Eguchi/JPN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #32 Lauren Davis/USA (1st Rd. - lost to Kenin/USA
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (2-7 1st Rd.; DC Kerber out; one of two w/ a win defeated another German)
CRASH & BURN: #6 Angelique Kerber/GER (lost to Osaka/JPN; second U.S. DC to lose 1st Rd.loss, w/ '05 Kuznetsova; out of Top 10)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Sloane Stephens/USA (QF - down 3-1 in 3rd vs. Sevastova) and Madison Keys/USA (4th Rd. - down 4-2 in 3rd vs. Svitolina) = both reach first slam final
IT ("Teen Wild Card"): CoCo Gauff/USA
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Bannerette Semifinalists (Keys,Stephens,Vandeweghe,V.Williams - first all-U.S. semifinalists at U.S. Open since 1981; at slam since '85 Wimbledon))
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Maria Sharapova/RUS (4th Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: Sloane Stephens (Champion)
DOUBLES STAR: Martina Hingis/SUI
BROADWAY-BOUND: Maria Sharapova/RUS & Simona Halep/ROU (Opening Night)
LADY OF THE EVENING: "The Late Show starring Madison Keys" (3rd Rd. - 1:45am finish, second-latest women's finish to own 1:48 finish last year)
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Maria Lourdes Carle/ARG & Emiliana Arango/COL (South American girls singles semifinalists)

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

I own a copy of the 1985 U.S. Open final. I haven't watched it in a while, maybe I'll do that soon. Hana is just stunning in it.

Sun Sep 10, 11:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

So Venus turned 36 in June of 2016. Has 4 SF or better in her last 6 slams. I bet that there aren't 20 active players with that on their resume, yet she did it at 36/37.

Stat of the Week-4-The amount of Top 20 wins for Laura Robson in her career.

Before you go gaga over 13 yr old Coco Gauff, though that was an incredible run, let's take a look back at what a 14 yr old did.

Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in 3 sets to win the title, but also notable are three other players she beat for various reasons. Lesley Kerkhove is just now breaking through, reaching her first MD slam at the USO in 2017. Melanie Oudin had her magical run in 2009, and I guess for karma for that loss, won her only singles title in Birmingham. The other is Bojana Jovanoski, who due to injury, has her career on pause.

Robson is still only 23, and reached a career high of 27 in 2013, the year in which she got 3 of her 4 Top 20 wins. Then a whole bunch of wrist injuries, and she is making her comeback.

The good thing? Even though she is having to grind her way back, the wrist held up for 27 tournaments last year, and 17 so far in this one.

Her current ranking is a low 243, but the silver lining is that she doesn't have much to defend. One of the higher ITF titles would get her to 180, and in the AO qualies. And from there, opportunity awaits.

Mon Sep 11, 11:08:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I still enjoy the fact that I got to see Mandlikova win what turned out to be her final title in person in Washington (over Barbara Potter) when I was a kid. Interestingly, the thing I remember most is how she'd stalk the court between points like a mad housemaid, picking up all the little pieces of tennis ball fuzz that she could find and then "throwing them away" near the back wall.

It always strikes me when I realize how young Robson still is. It seems like forever now since she was considered a potential breakthrough star, but you realize young she was when that was being said about her.

Mon Sep 11, 01:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ha! That sounds just like Hana. I saw her play in New Orleans at a Virginia Slims tournament. They had an event there for 2 years, at 2 different venues, and Navratilova won both times, but she had a hell of a time pronouncing "Times-Picayune" (sponsor). The first year, they got started late because Zina Garrison took a N,O. city bus to the stadium. Good times.

Mon Sep 11, 10:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Can you put up a Radwanska threat meter for Mladenovic? Too talented for this. Assume she's injured, because she's playing like Niculescu, which isn't her style.

Note that her ranking probably wont change much. She has 8 tournaments with 10 pts or less and most aren't being counted.

Krunic just may win this week. She has gotten much better.

Wed Sep 13, 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Now guaranteed a first time winner this weekend.

Now that Van Utyvanck has reached the final, 20th year in a row that someone with 2 or fewer titles has reached the final at Quebec City. And works either way as Babos only has 2.

Sat Sep 16, 05:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And Diyas is the first first-timer (or only, depending on Van Uytvanck...) of the weekend.

Andreescu & Branstine could grab their maiden doubles title, too.

Sun Sep 17, 04:03:00 AM EDT  

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