Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Future (Sloane) is Now

Suddenly (and once again) the future for Sloane Stephens is as bright as her biggest smile.

While new mother Serena Williams was away, the atmospheric conditions were perfect at this year's U.S. Open for the official coming out party to take place for a new generation of Bannerette stars who'll soon be asked to carry their home nation's tennis hopes for glory into the eventual post-Sisters era. As things turned out, not totally unexpectedly considering they'd both been hailed as a potential star at various times earlier in their careers, it was Stephens and Madison Keys who managed to serve notice at Flushing Meadows that they are ready, willing and able to assume a leadership role over the multi-layered Band of Bannerettes who are once more populating the WTA's Top 100, winning junior slam titles and challenging for a Fed Cup crown.

While we've been seeing signs of life on this front for a few years now, including previous slam semifinals runs (all of them in Melbourne from 2013-17) from three of the historic group of four U.S. semifinalists at this Open (with the fourth of the fabulous four being the most fab of them all, two-time '17 slam finalist Venus Williams at age 37), the one thing this NewGen of U.S. players had yet to do was win a slam, or even reach a major final. Since Serena claimed her first slam title in 1999, and Venus her own in 2000, only Lindsay Davenport (once in 2000) and Jennifer Capriati (three in 2001-02) have managed to get the red-white-and-blue into the winner's circle at a major. Until tonight, when Keys and Stephens met to decide who would be both "the next" and "the first" to etch their name into U.S. tennis history in the first all-Bannerette slam final to not include a Williams since 1990, and the first to feature two U.S.-born women since 1979.

Friends, teammates and unlikely slam finalists after 2016 injuries (Stephens' foot, Keys' wrist) delayed the start of their seasons, and '17 surgeries made there level of play a question mark for the remainder of the year, neither Sloane nor Madison would have never have predicted their ultimate New York fate. Until this summer, there was no real reason to think that it wouldn't be 2018 before they might hit their stride once again. But it was on North American hard courts that all that changed, with Keys winning in Stanford and Stephens reaching back-to-back Premier semifinals before their dueling exploits at Flushing Meadows over the past two weeks. At times at this slam, Keys had looked to be a dominant -- and consistent -- force without peer, while Stephens' grit and inner desire (once questioned in her first go-around with stardom) were trait that were necessary to pull her through several tight matches.

As Keys and Stephens prepared to face off, Serena publicly congratulated their efforts, and subtly reminded everyone that she was watching to see exactly what each woman brought to the table in the biggest moment of both their careers. In the end, only one would live up to her future.

While Keys came armed with her power, though it was a weapon quite possibly lessened by a leg injury (her thigh was wrapped) and a recognition of the momentous occasion that likely did her no favors once the first ball was struck, for Stephens, her calling card was to be her defense, offensive opportunism and, as it turned out, a more calm and patient approach that would guide her through the early stages of the match before being joined by a true killer instinct when it mattered most.

The action was a bit subdued at the start of the match, as the serving player never allowed more than a single point in any of the first four games, with Stephens posting back-to-back love holds. But while Sloane held firm to the strategy of playing the same sort of consistent, unspectacular-because-it-wasn't-yet-necessary tennis that had worked so well for her to get a quick opening set win vs. Williams in the semifinals, Keys was far from the player who began her destruction of CoCo Vandeweghe in *her* semifinal pretty much from the jump. In that match two days ago, Keys committed just nine total unforced errors. She had that many today after just five games, with the last being a forehand fired long to give Stephens a break lead at 3-2. It ended a 21-game string of consecutively held service games for Keys, and it established a pattern in *this* match that was never altered.

With her seemingly being a bit nervous, the wayward errors that have often hounded Keys' game in the past returned vs. Stephens, who once again found a way to turn defense into offense to keep a step ahead, frustrate her friend, and maintain a steady pace until she was called upon to step up her game to shine in the key moments that would lead her to victory. With Keys serving down 5-3 to stay in the set, Stephens fired a shot up the line that tagged the far baseline, giving her a set point. She missed a routine backhand and didn't convert the MP, but saw another error off Keys' racket (Madison had 17 UE in the set) give her the definitive lead anyway, as a backhand that landed long gave Sloane the 1st set at 6-3.

After the U.S. Open women's final had been a continuous string of two-set affairs from 1996 until 2011, three of the last five years had seen the matches go the three-set distance. But this one would not join that list.

Stephens' stepped up her power groundstroke game in the 2nd, perhaps sensing that her opportunity to run away with the title was at hand. A backhand pass put her up love/40 on Keys' serve in the second game, then a forehand passing shot put away BP chance #3 for a 2-0 lead. Down 15/30 on serve a game later, Stephens ventured to the net to volley and fired a winner to take the lead. An overcooked Keys forehand return allowed Sloane to hold for 3-0. Madison fell behind love/40 a game later, then double-faulted on Stephens' third BP chance.

Two breaks down at 4-0, Keys had one final chance to inch her way back into the match. She led Stephens love/40 in game #5, but once again Sloane lifted her game to thwart the challenge. She moved forward and fired a backhand past Keys on the first BP, brought out some power on the second, then used her footspeed to reach a sliced ball in the short court and get things to deuce. Stephens held for 5-0, as Keys' high-risk game continued to produce a no-rewards day in the final.

Stephens misfired on a forehand on her first match point on Keys' serve, and saw a no-longer-anything-to-lose Keys finally appear to get her previous Open footing back for a few moments, as she slapped a winner past Sloane to save a second MP. But Stephens reached MP #3 with an angled forehand shot that took Keys well into the sideline of the court, and her response went long. Keys netted a final forehand and Stephens' 6-3/6-0 triumph was over in just 1:01.

The final error was the thirtieth for Keys to just six for Sloane, as Madison surely didn't show the form today that she would have liked. She won only 50% of her first serves, and never broke Stephens' serve.

As for Stephens. Well, now we can say it loudly... The Future is Now. "Future Sloane," that is.

Stephens' remarkable summer journey is thus complete, with her ranking going from #957 to, on Monday, a return to the Top 20 (#17) for the first time since a three-week stint there in the spring of last year (which itself was her first in nearly two years). Asked on the ESPN set whether she thinks she's ready this time for what comes next, after having struggled with higher expectations after her AO semi result four years ago, Stephens said that she thinks she is. She's certainly given every indication of such, both on court and off, handling the latter stages of this Open like a seasoned slam champion before she even had become a maiden one. Why, it was almost as if she'd traveled back from the future to assume the form of Current Sloane and show her how it's done, knowing all the while that once she learned from the experience she'd be set for her tennis life from then on out.

Of course, that's all wild conjecture generally reserved for storytime and sci-fi specials. But today surely *was* a momentous one. Two days ago, we saw the unofficial, hand-out-the-commemorative-cigars birth of "Future Sloane" in the closing stages of Stephens' semifinal win over Venus, when she fired a backhand winner down the line to avoid going match point down to the seven-time slam singles champion.

She hasn't looked back since.

And as of September 9, 2017 all the documents (and one big check) are signed, sealed and delivered. Future Sloane and Current Sloane are one in the same. With their powers combined, they're the new U.S. Open Champion.


(Now cut to the smile that can launch a million ships, if she plays things right.)


...earlier in the day, Martina Hingis made good on her first attempt to leave Flushing Meadows with a title, taking home the Mixed crown with Jamie Murray and winning their second straight slam title together after taking Wimbledon two months ago. They won a 3rd set TB to defeat Chan Hao-ching & Michael Venus 6-1/4-6 [10-8].

It's Hingis' seventh career slam MX title (the most of any active player, and tied w/ Billie Jean King in the Open era behind the only woman who's won more -- the other Martina, as in Navratilova, who won ten... including a final title in NYC a month before her 50th birthday back in 2006). Hingis, now with two U.S. Open MX titles ('15 w/ Paes), will turn 37 on September 30.

With twenty-four total slam titles (5-12-7), Hingis moves one beyond Venus Williams (7-14-2) into second on the active list, and still has a chance to pick up #25 in Sunday's women's doubles final. Serena Williams is the active leader, with 39 (23-14-2). the juniors, the all-Bannerette final run will continue.

Wild card Coco Gauff, 13, and Amanda Anisimova, 16, both won out over South American opponents to set up the third consecutive all-U.S. girls slam final, and the first at Flushing Meadows since 1992 (which had been the last such final until it happened in Paris this season).

Gauff defeated Argentina's Maria Lourdes Carle 7-5/6-0, while #4-seeded Anisimova (the '16 RG jr. runner-up) took out Colombian Emiliana Arango 6-4/6-1.

Especially impressive about this U.S. junior slam run is that these three finals will have featured five different players. Whitney Osuigwe defeated Claire Liu at Roland Garros, then Liu won out over Ann Li at Wimbledon. Osuigwe (the #1 seed) and Li lost in the U.S. Open girls competition, while Liu qualified for the women's main draw and didn't play the junior event. Starting with Kayla Day's 2016 title run in New York, this will make it four of the last five majors with Bannerette girls champions.

In the girls doubles, Serbia's Olga Danilovic will play for her second straight junior slam title on Sunday. She and Marta Kostyuk (the #1 seeds) will play Lea Boskovic/Wang Xiyu (CRO/CHN) for the title.

...the women's wheelchair singles final is set, and #1 Yui Kamiji and #2 Diede de Groot will now get the slam face-off that they didn't at Wimbledon. With Kamiji seeking to become the first to win all eight slam singles and doubles crowns in her career (she needed the SW19 singles), she lost in the SF to Sabine Ellerbrock. de Groot went on to defeat Ellerbrock in the final to claim her maiden slam crown.

On Saturday, Kamiji defeated Aniek Van Koot in three sets, while de Groot took out doubles partner Marjolein Buis in two, setting up the first of what is likely to be many meetings with slam singles titles on the line between the leading members of the new WC generation (Kamiji is just 23, and de Groot 20). Kamiji *did* defeat de Groot in the Wimbledon doubles final.

Later, de Groot and Buis returned for the WC doubles final, facing off with Van Koot and Bannerette Dana Mathewson (subbing for the injured Jiske Griffioen), who was looking to be become the first U.S. woman to ever claim a wheelchair slam crown. But such a history-making accomplishment -- in a rare moment for U.S. tennis at this Open -- wasn't meant to be. After having taken out #2-seeds Kamiji/Shuker in the SF, Mathewson & Van Koot fell to #1's Buis & de Groot in straight sets, 6-4/6-3.

The result gives Diede the Great her first doubles slam crown, and her second major title in the last three slam S/D draws. She'll play for her third win in her fifth career slam final (all in '17, w/ AO WD loss while partnering Kamiji) on Sunday, looking to sweep the Open's wheelchair competition.

If she doesn't do it, the young Dutch woman will eventually. If she does, it won't be the last time.

...Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo outlasted Florida's Ingrid Neel to become the fourth women's champ in the American Collegiate Invitational tournament held on the USTA BJK National Tennis Center grounds, winning 4-6/6-4/6-4. Dalian, Vera Zvonareva advanced to her biggest singles final since 2011 at the WTA 125 Series event in China, defeating fellow Hordette Vitalia Diatchenko 6-4/6-2 in the semifinals. She'll face Kateyrna Kozlova of Ukraine for the title. With a win, Zvonareva would jump back into the Top 250.

...meanwhile, another comeback story (wrist) continues on the ITF circuit. Argentina's Paula Ormaechea picked up a doubles title (her first since her return), and also reached the singles semis (best so far) at this week's challenger in Trieste, Italy.

NOTE ON DAY 13: Oh, yeah...

Maybe someone should "remind" Chris Evert that Stephens actually won those four titles in less than a year *before* her injury and comeback.


Come on, name something after this woman.


While Stephens will climb to #17, and Keys to #12, did you know that Alona Ostapenko will be at #10 on Monday? Well, she is, and she's the first Latvian woman to ever reach the Top 10.

LIKE ON DAY 13: Billie Jean... once a seer, always a seer, I guess.

Well... ON DAY 13: I don't know if I'd say *that*, but is it pretty cool.

LIKE ON DAY 13: Yes, $3.7 million...

Same as the men's winner tomorrow, of course.

LIKE ON DAY 13: The Most Interesting Tour in the World: Chapter 55 (or so)

...and, finally... yes, in case you were wondering, I've been waiting to use the title of this post for over four years now.

From baby-steppin' to walking like a giant.

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

#7 Hradecka/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) vs. #2 Y.Chan/Hingis (TPE/SUI)

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

(WC) Coco Gauff/USA vs. #4 Amanda Anisimova/USA

#1 Danilovic/Kostyuk (SRB/UKR) vs. Boskovic/Wang Xiyu (CRO/CHN)

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN vs. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

#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

**WOMEN'S U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONS since 1999**
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
2017 Sloane Stephens, 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
2017 US: Sloane Stephens, USA

2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Roland Garros - Li Na, CHN
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova, CZE
2011 U.S. Open - Samantha Stosur, AUS
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Wimbledon - Marion Bartoli, FRA
2015 U.S. Open - Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber, GER
2016 Roland Garros - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2017 U.S. Open - Sloane Stephens, USA
NOTE: 5 of last 9 slams w/ first-time champion

[Open Era]
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
2017 Sloane Stephens, USA

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...MADISON KEYS (0-1)
1...Jelena Jankovic (0-1)
1...Karolina Pliskova (0-1)
1...Roberta Vinci (0-1)
1...Vera Zvonareva (0-1)

Unseeded/Wild Card - Kim Clijsters, BEL (2009)
Unseeded - SLOANE STEPHENS, USA (2017)
#26 - Flavia Pennetta, ITA (2015)
#9 - Samantha Stosur, AUS (2011)
#9 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2004)
#7 - Serena Williams, USA (1999)
#6 - Virginia Wade, GBR (1968)

2007 AO: Serena Williams
...Petrova/3r and Peer/QF - both served for match
2007 WI: Venus Williams
...Kudryavtseva/1r - 2 pts from win; Morigami/3r - served for match
2009 AO: Serena Williams
...Kuznetsova/QF - served for match
2010 AO: Serena Williams
...Azarenka/QF - up 6-4/4-0, served for match twice
2011 RG: Li Na
...Kvitova/4r - down 0-3 in 3rd set
2012 US: Serena Williams
...Azarenka/F - served for title at 5-4 in 3rd
2013 AO: Victoria Azarenka
...Hampton/3r - down break in 3rd set
2013 RG: Serena Williams
...Kuznetsova/QF - down break in 3rd set
2015 RG: Serena Williams
...Bacsinszky/SF - down 6-4/3-2 break; Safarova/F - down 2-0 in 3rd
2015 WI: Serena Williams
...Watson/3r - down 2-bk. 3-0 in 3rd, served for match at 5-4, 2 pts. from win
2016 WI: Serena Williams
...McHale/2r - down break in 3rd
2016 US: Angelique Kerber
...Ka.Pliskova/F - down 3-1 in 3rd
2017 RG: Alona Ostapenko
...Halep/F - 6-4/3-0, 3 BP for 4-0
2017 US: Sloane Stephens
...Sevastova/QF - down 3-1 in 3rd

[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 Coco Gauff vs. Amanda Anisimova

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 Coco Gauff vs. Amanda Anisimova

2007 Kristina Kucova, SVK
2008 Gabriela Paz, VEN
2009 Heather Watson, GBR
2010 Yulia Putintseva, RUS & Sloane Stephens, USA
2011 Grace Min, USA
2012 Vicky Duval, USA
2013 Tornado Alicia Black, USA
2014 Marie Bouzkova, CZE
2015 Dalma Galfi, HUN
2016 Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
2017 Maria Lourdes Carle, ARG & Emiliana Arango, COL
AO: Marta Kostyuk, UKR
RG: Whitney Osuigwe, USA & Claire Liu, USA
WI: Ann Li, USA
US: Maria Lourdes Carle, ARG & Emiliana Arango, COL

**SLAM MX TITLES - active*
5...Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
3...Sania Mirza, IND
3...Samantha Stosur, AUS
[Open era]
10...Martina Navratilova, TCH/CZE
7...Billie Jean King, USA
6...Margaret Court, AUS
21...Margaret Court, AUS
15...Doris Hart, USA
11...Billie Jean King, USA
10...Margaret Osborne duPont, USA
10...Martina Navratilova, TCH/USA

**TOTAL SLAM TITLES - active**
398...Serena Williams (23-14-2)
24...MARTINA HINGIS (5-12-7)*
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

2006 Martina Navratilova, USA
2007 Nathalie Dechy, FRA
2008 Cara Black, ZIM
2009 Carly Gullickson, USA
2010 Liezel Huber, USA
2011 Melanie Oudin, USA
2012 Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
2013 Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
2014 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR (WC)
2015 Martina Hingis, SUI
2016 Laura Siegemund, GER
2017 Martina Hingis, SUI
AO: Abigail Spears, USA
RG: Gaby Dabrowski, CAN
WI: Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR (WC)
US: Martina Hingis, SUI

2005 Sania Mirza, IND
2006 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2007 Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2008 Coco Vandeweghe, USA [Jr.]
2009 Melanie Oudin, USA
2010 Beatrice Capra, USA
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED [Wheelchair]
2012 [Brit] Laura Robson, GBR
2013 [Bannerette] Vicky Duval, USA
2014 [Girl] CiCi Bellis, USA
2015 [Kiki] Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2016 [Teen] Ana Konjuh, CRO
2017 [Jr. Wild Card] Coco Gauff, USA
AO: [Party] (Ash) "Barty Party" (AUS)
RG: [Teen] Alona Ostapenko, LAT
WI: [Next Wheelchair Great] Diede de Groot, NED
US: [Jr. Wild Card] Coco Gauff, USA

AO: Venus Williams (3rd)
RG: Vania King & Bethanie Mattek-Sands (3rd)
WI: Serena Williams (4th)
US: Serena Williams (RU)
AO: Serena Williams (4th)
RG: Sloane Stephens (4th) & Varvara Lepchenko (4th)
WI: Serena Williams (W)
US: Serena Williams (W)
AO: Sloane Stephens (SF)
RG: Serena Williams (W)
WI: Sloane Stephens (QF)
US: Serena Williams (W)
AO: Sloane Stephens & Serena Williams (4th)
RG: Sloane Stephens (4th)
WI: L.Davis, M.Keys, A.Riske, S.Williams, V.Williams (3rd)
US: Serena Williams (W)
AO: Serena Williams (W)
RG: Serena Williams (W)
WI: Serena Williams (W)
US: Serena Williams (SF)
AO: Serena Williams (RU)
RG: Serena Williams (RU)
WI: Serena Williams (W)
US: Serena Williams (SF)
AO: Serena Williams (W)
RG: Venus Williams (4th)
WI: Venus Williams (RU)
US: Sloane Stephens (W)

A: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
R: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
W: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
U: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
A: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
R: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
W: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
U: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
A: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
R: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
W: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
U: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
A: Buis/Kamiji, NED/JPN
R: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
W: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
PARALYMPICS (no U.S. Open): Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
A: Griffioen/Van Koot, NED/NED
R: Buis/Kamiji, JPN/NED
W: Kamiji/Whiley, JPN/GBR
U: Buis/de Groot, NED/NED

2013 AO - #1 Aniek Van Koot/NED d. #2 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2013 RG - Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2013 US - #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED d. #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 - Diede de Groot/NED vs. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN

2014 Jamie Loeb, UNC (Soph.)
2015 Robin Anderson, UCLA (Sr.)
2016 Danielle Collins, Virginia (Sr.)
2017 Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (Soph.)

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 Day 13. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Mladenovic is playing again this week.

Vinci reached the final, and it was a once in a lifetime thing. Pliskova reached it, and it felt like something that would happen again. Keys is more the latter.

Stat of the Day-88-16- The Houston Cougars record in college basketball between 1982-84.

How is Houston relevant to tennis? You will find out. Couldn't I have used a tennis related number? Yes, but even Serena never had 80 wins in a season, although she did have a better winning percentage than Houston did, as she went 76-5 in 2013.

Actually, I chose Houston, because if you are a fan new to the sport, they seem irrelevant, although they had this era with Olajuwon and Drexler, plus the late 60's one with Elvin Hayes. There is a similarity, and it is South Africa.

For those who may have missed it, South Africa has had 3 women reach slam finals. None have been in the open era. Irene Bowder Peacock in 1927, Renee Schuurman in 1959, and Sandra Reynolds in 1960. Schuurman and Reynolds did win 4 doubles slams together, Schuurman winning 5 total. Reynolds was probably one of the top 2 players before the Open Era, as she reached #3 in 1960, and reached the QF of all the slams in her career, topped off by the Wimbledon final in 1960.

The other may have been Annette Van Zyl, who never reached a slam final, but also reached the QF of all 4, reaching the SF at the french twice, and the AO in 1965, when she reached her career high of 6.

The 70's brought a twist to their success. The men. Between 1970-1983, Frew McMillian(who also won one in 1966 with Van Zyl), Bob Hewitt, and Kevin Curren won 13 mixed doubles slams. Some were with Frew's regular partner in Betty Stove, others were with countrywoman Ilana Kloss, who won both the women's doubles and mixed in 1976, becoming #1 in doubles.

Singles also brought some success, as future Fed Cup captain Greer Stevens reached a slam QF in 1980 and reached #7.

The 70's brought one more shining light, as in 1972, they won Fed Cup by beating Great Britain. Led by Pat Walkden, whose claim to fame was reaching the French Open doubles final in 1967, they lost to Virginia Wade, but came back and won the deciding doubles rubber.

The 80's were pretty nondescript. The highlight was Wimbledon in 1983, when both Yvonne Vermaak and Jennifer Mundel both reached the QF. Mundel beat Hanika and Mandlikova, while Vermaak beat Wade and Ruzici, then reached the SF.

The last chapter belongs to 3 women. Natalie Grandin, Amanda Coetzer, and Liezel Huber. Grandin might be a surprise, as the doubles specialist only got to #22, but has 33 Fed Cup wins in her 10 years, which are both records. Coetzer is 2nd with 31.

Most of you know Coetzer's story. Short, but with a big game. 9 WTA titles. 3 slam SF. 1 slam final in doubles-93 USO. #3 ranking. 2000 Hopman Cup winner with Wayne Ferreira. Still involved in the sport.

The last is Liezel Huber. Her career was half South Africa, half USA. And that happens. Opportunity opened doors for her, just like it did Johann Kriek, the last South African man to have won a singles slam. The second of his back to back titles was won representing the USA.

Huber was the ultimate cheerleader. In a Fed Cup format, where there will be people sitting out, Huber was the perfect person to sit on the side, wave the flag of her adopted country, and root for her team. She may not have won, but was part of the few US teams to even come close, something she would not have gotten a chance to do for South Africa, as they have not been in World Group 1 since 1996.

Huber, the Houston resident, became a US citizen in 2007, the same year she became #1 for the first time. So South Africa doesn't get the credit, but planted the seed.

Sun Sep 10, 04:58:00 PM EDT  

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