Friday, September 08, 2017

US.11 - And to Think That I Saw It on Ashe (or Future Sloane I Am)

It happened Thursday night on Ashe court. A champion was born, though she hasn't yet been crowned. Whether she'll turn out to be a Current or Future Champ we'll find out this weekend. But, after tonight, it can be said that it *will* happen.

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On Day 11 of the 2017 U.S. Open, Bannerette tennis celebrated its Independence Day. Naturally, a Williams showed up. But not Serena... Venus, playing in her third slam semifinal of the season, and joined by three members of a new generation of U.S. stars, all having their won slam semifinalist experience for the second time in their career. Needless to say, it was an historic occasion. One not seen in a major in thirty-two years (1985 Wimbledon), or at the U.S. Open in thirty-six (1981).

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As improbable as the time span between such occasions made this occurrence, what happened leading up to Night 11 on Ashe also showed just how difficult it is to pull off such a feat. Three of the four home-grown semifinalists had to come back from a break down in the 3rd set in recent days to advance at this Open, and the other found herself down a set and 3-1 in the 1st Round of the tournament. It would have been just as easy for the final four to have been named Pliskova, Kvitova, Sevastova and Svitolina. But, as it is, a U.S. champion is assured, it's just a matter of whose name will get carved into the trophy.

Obviously, there's safety in numbers.

In this final 2017 slam event, it took those three other U.S. players to manage to make Venus Williams *not* the lead story on this night, as the 37-year old was playing in her third major semi in a season for the first time in fifteen years, heaving already earlier reached the finals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. A week after she'd become an aunt with the birth of sister Serena's daughter, Venus faced off with Sloane Stephens, who was all of four years old when Williams made her U.S. Open debut (along with Ashe Stadium) twenty years ago in 1997, and not much older when she won back-to-back titles in 2000-01.

A month after she was ranked in the #900's after missing nearly a year with a foot injury, Stephens arrived seeking to extend a summer run that was already of epic proportions, as her long-hoped-for inner desire finally began to match her longtime potential en route to Premier semifinal runs in Toronto and Cincinnati that lifted her ranking into the Top 100 heading into this event. A win to reach her maiden slam final and she'd be assured of nearly returning to the Top 20. Stephens made her career bones with an upset of Serena in Melbourne to reach the AO semis in 2013, and saw her ranking top out at #11 soon after, followed by a slide down the rankings that only began to reverse course when she brought aboard coach Kamau Murray and went on to win three of the four singles titles she picked up in the year before her injury last summer. With a win over Venus at Roland Garros in their only previous meeting (one, incidentally, that Williams had to be reminded had happened before the match), Stephens remains one of only two players (Ekaterina Makarova, with new #1 Garbine Muguruza set to move off the list next week) with slam wins over both Williams Sisters without herself having ever been ranked #1.

Stephens came into the night having not yet shown her previous summer form, and she'd had to tough-out her way to her second career major semi. But what she did vs. Williams -- when it counted the most -- was something else entirely. In fact, it might even turn out to be history-changing.

Stephens, the crowd, the television viewers and, likely, Venus herself spent the entire 1st set waiting for Williams' game to show up on Ashe. As it turned out, Stephens didn't need to play especially great to get the early advantage in the match. Venus, with unforced errors routinely coming off her racket and with virtually every aspect of her game being out of rhythm, only won one game in the 6-1, blink-and-you-missed-it, set... and she had to come back from love/30 down on serve in the second game of the match to get the single game. As it was, Sloane was only required to play within self, and had no need to do anything spectacular. That's what she did, and it was enough to get her half-way to the U.S. Open final.

But would it be enough to help her actually get there?

The 2nd set led one to believe the answer to be "no." The key to the set may have been the very first game, as Williams faced three break points and nearly double-faulted away another lead right out of the gate. But Stephens then committed an error on a second serve return, Venus saved BP #3 by hitting a forehand past a racing-along-the-baseline Sloane, and Williams held for 1-0. It was easy to wonder if Sloane has prematurely relaxed after such an easy 1st set, and if she could pick up her game to keep up with that of her opponent if Venus had finally arrived, albeit a bit fashionably late, for this semifinal.

As quickly as the 1st set went by (:24 to be exact), the 2nd went by even quicker, or at least it seemed as much. Venus fired a backhand winner down the line for a BP chance in game #2. Stephens double-faulted, and it was downhill from there. Williams won the set at love in :30 (what's six minutes between friends?) as the two headed to the 3rd to decide which set would be the *true* reality of the night.

The deciding 3rd set, which turned out to be one of the best of the entire tournament, opened with Stephens taking the initiative, firing a ball at Venus' feet at the service "T" to get the break in game #1. Stephens missed a high forehand volley to fall a BP down a game later, but outlasted Williams after the veteran Bannerette chased down multiple balls on opposite ends of the baseline only to the push a lob long. Venus failed to get another BP opportunity when she netted a forehand when trying to send a shot down the line over the high part of the net while Stephens was in no-woman's-land in the opposite sideline. Stephens soon after won a another long rally when Venus sent a backhand wide, taking a 2-0 lead. After falling behind love/30 with back-to-back misses, Williams held for 2-1 against a still-solid Stephens to avoid falling down a double-break.

In a Stephens service game that lasted nearly eight minutes, Williams carved out two BP chances at 15/40, overcame a wrong mid-rally call of a shot on the line that allowed Stephens to replay the point, and failed to convert either BP opportunity, but got the break back on her third chance when a Stephens backhand went wide. Venus saved one BP with an ace in game #5, then double-faulted on her own GP, but held anyway to take a 3-2 lead. Stephens fell behind 15/40 in her proceeding service game, but rallied for four consecutive points to hold. Then, in still another long service game, Williams again faced BP in her fourth of four service games in the 3rd. She saved two BP in the game, despite being made by the speedy Sloane to often seemingly win rallies "more than once" to get the point. She also missed on a forehand down the line on game point after Stephens had gotten the ball back with a running stretch shot on the baseline. It proved to be key in the game as, finally, on BP #3, Williams netted a forehand volley that put Stephens up a break at 4-3.

Venus won a battle of dueling drop shots in game #8, reaching BP when Stephens netted a crosscourt pass rather than attempt a seemingly more open shot down the line. A big Williams return of a second serve was too much for Sloane to get back, and Venus had evened the set at 4-4. After double-faulting and flying a forehand, Venus found herself down BP in her own service game, and a forehand that was called long seemed to have given Stephens the break and a chance to serve for the match. But Williams challenged the call, and the ball was shown to have clipped the line. She earned the point, and two points later held for 5-4.

Then, at 30/30 in game #10, it happened.

Sometimes champions (current or future) gradually grow into their new shoes. Sometimes they're born wearing them. Sloane Stephens has had to try on quite a few pairs of footwear to get there. But while she's moved along at this Open often while not playing her very best tennis, and had to scrape and claw and guide herself away from the dangerous edge, urging herself between points to get it done, in her QF win over Anastasija Sevastova, it was at this point that the champion that Stephens may indeed become -- either this weekend or later -- appeared to have been born right before our eyes. When she was two points from defeat.

Her 30-all low stretch to reach a seemingly perfectly-placed Williams slice shot into the corner, sending a backhand down the line for a winner, both pulled her back from the ledge in this match, but also lifted her higher than she'd ever climbed before. After not blinking -- and instead staring straight ahead with a laser-like focus -- in this crucial deciding set, Stephens seemed to grow exponentially in stature right at that moment. The Future suddenly came out from behind the clouds. Rather than being a point away from defeat, she was a point away from knotting the score at 5-5. But, really, it was so much more than that. With that single shot, belief was no longer a notion, it was a fact.

She blasted a big serve moments later to hold, and continued to perfect her defensive/offensive mix a game later. Racing to a Williams net cord shot, she reached the ball and flicked it across the net into the short court for a winner.

She seemed to grow still a few *more* sizes.

A deep return produced an error from Venus that broke Williams at love for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the match and her first career slam final appearance, Stephens went up 15/love, as she was still yet to lose a point since her low stretching winner at 30/30 two games earlier. Williams ended the string a point later (finally putting away a high backhand volley to end another long, tough rally that Sloane extended with a series of gets), but it was all that she could do to hold Stephens back. Stephens fired a forehand into the corner that Venus couldn't return, reaching match point. A deep serve handcuffed Williams moments later and it was all over. Stephens raised her arms in triumph, winning 6-1/0-6/7-5 after never wavering an inch, a speck or a whiff down the stretch of the biggest and most important set of her tennis career up til now, as well as her tennis career from this day forward.

As Venus left the court to a hail of applause from the crowd, Stephens joined in as the new generation honored the most longstanding member of the previous one. One who isn't yet finished doing battle on the court herself, it should be noted.

But it's Stephens who'll live to fight another day at this U.S. Open, which has become a showcase not only for U.S. women's tennis, but also for the remarkable difference that a better perspective can make, especially one fostered through adversity, time away from the game to take a breath and appreciate it, and the revelation that, yes, it really is more fun to win than the lose, so why now give it your all while you're lucky enough to be able to do so? It's a storyline we've seen play out all through this U.S. Open draw, from Venus to Petra to Kaia to Madison to Sloane to many others here and there, near and far.

"Future Sloane" was born as the moniker for the champion Stephens had the potential to be. On Ashe Court on Thursday night, she finally looked like that player she once seemed she could be, on the inside and out. Now she's just one win away form making the title official.

"You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!"
"Dr. Seuss"

...the second all-Bannerette semifinal of the night wasn't nearly as competitive. There, Madison Keys went about doubling (tripling?) down on her undefeated summer hard court record vs. CoCo Vandeweghe. A super in-form (or at least that's what it seemed at the time... after tonight, maybe it wasn't) Keys handled Vandeweghe in a 7-6/6-4 final in Stanford, then turned around and beat her in three sets in the opening round in Cincinnati a week and a half later. She didn't bother with all that in this one, adding her own comeback story following two wrist surgeries to the narrative of a slam that has come to about redemption, gratitude, hard work and the success that can sometimes go hand-in-hand with all three.

Tonight, in her fifth match under the lights in six rounds at this Open, it was "The Madison Show" all over again. Maybe even a "greatest hits" version. It was assumed that if Keys played up to her potential she'd likely handle Vandeweghe in straights, but what of the 6-1/6-2, fifty-six minute demolition we saw on Ashe tonight? Keys was pretty much untouchable, winning the first five games of the match (20-of-24 points), hitting 25 winners to just nine unforced errors in the match (an even more stunning stat than usual considering we're talking about Keys' go-for-a-lot game), and riding a golden cloud by picking up points in every way possible, such as via a net cord shot that skipped over Vandeweghe's waiting racket and by flicking running forehand passing shot from behind the baseline. Naturally, she ended the match with an ace on MP. Essentially, CoCo was just watching.

"Cat, you ruined mom's dress!"
"Honey, it was ruined when she bought it."

Stephens might have morphed into a champion tonight, but the slam-less Keys looked like she's been winning major titles for years. Of course, at this point, Ashe-under-the-lights must feel like a second home. A "quaint" summer place upstate.

That girl is on ??@madisonkeys #NYC belongs to you tonight. #USOpen (?? by @fcphotography)

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If Keys plays like this again on Saturday, Sloane will have to be even more Futuristic to stand a chance. But the stage DOES get bigger in 48 hours, so... And Keys *did* take a medical timeout for her leg while up 4-1 in the 2nd, so maybe Stephens' defense will be able to make her run and extend points against her as she did tonight against Venus.

They've only met once. Two years ago in Miami, Stephens won 6-4/6-2 in the 2nd Round.

...Sania Mirza & Peng Shuai advanced to the doubles semifinals today, as did Chan Yung-Jan & Martina Hingis (who defeat Yung-Jan's sister Hao-Ching & Zhang Shuai). The teams will play each other for a spot in the U.S. Open final, which Hingis/Mirza won in 2015.

Hingis is 3-2 in the head-to-head WD match-ups with Mirza since the end of their partnership, including a 3-1 record this year while partnering with Chan.

...the girls singles 3rd Round was played on Thursday, and four Bannerettes advanced to the quarterfinals (only three can reach the semis, though), along with more South Americans (2) than Russians (1), as well as a Serb.

Wild cards Coco Gauff and Katie Volynets will meet in the only head-to-head U.S. match-up in the QF. Gauff took out Hordette Anastasia Kharitonova, who'd earlier defeated #1 Whitney Osuigwe. #4-seeded Bannerette Amanda Anisimova and unseeded Elysia Bolton (def. #15 Sofya Lansere) round out the remaining U.S. players in the draw. South America boasts Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) and Emiliana Arango (COL) in the final eight, while #3 Elena Rybakina is the last surviving Russian. #8 Olga Danilovic of Serbia will face Anisimova in the only QF match-up of seeded players.

...wheelchair action returned to the U.S. Open on Day 11 after a year's absence due to the Rio Paralymics, and there's some big news on -- guess what -- the U.S. tennis front. After so long a time wondering where the Bannerette wheelchair players are, here comes Dana Mathewson.

You might remember Mathewson making her slam debut earlier this summer at Wimbledon when an injured Jiske Griffioen was a late withdrawal from doubles. She joined the field as an alternate and played as Aniek Van Koot's partner. Well, with Griffioen having not played since SW19 and also out of this slam, Mathewson (who recently climbed into the WC Top 10) again joined up with Van Koot today in the open of the doubles competition at Flushing Meadows. Playing on Ashe (!!), the pair defeated #2-seeded Yui Kamiji & Lucy Shuker (in for the pregnant Jordanne Whiley).

They'll play #1-seeded Marjolein Buis & Diede de Groot in the final, with Mathewson trying to become the first U.S. woman to win a wheelchair slam crown. Women's WC singles debuted at the U.S. Open in 1991, and the doubles first appeared in a major at the 2004 Australian Open.

Mathewson is also in the singles draw, where once again #1 Yui Kamiji leads the field, along with Wimbledon champ (#2 seed) de Groot, who'll be trying to get the sweep of the singles and doubles titles in her U.S. Open debut that she just missed out on in London when she made her debut there in July.

LIKE ON DAY 11: Oracene


Time for #coffeewithlucie in the #flatiron #nyc #goodtimes ??????? @tagheuer

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STUNNER ON DAY 11: I don't know how she resisted turning her phone around and showing herself. First time for everything, I guess.

...and, finally... "Taps" is playing...

No, not for that very early Tom Cruise movie (released in 1981, by the way, the last time there was an all-Bannerette semifinals at the Open). For the Colt (no, that's not him reacting to tonight's result in the clip) CoCo-Couldn't-Do-It-So-It's-Over Challenge...


Expect more tweaks to the formula to come. I'm thinkin' Stanford champ Keys and two-time summer HC semifinalist Stephens should have gotten onto the list.

#15 Madison Keys/USA def. #20 CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
Sloane Stephens/USA def. #9 Venus Williams/USA

#7 Hradecka/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) vs. #3 Safarova/Strycova (CZE/CZE)
#4 Mirza/Peng (IND/CHN) vs. #2 Y.Chan/Hingis (TPE/SUI)

#1 Hingis/J.Murray (SUI/GBR) vs. Vandeweghe/Tecau (USA/ROU)
#3 H.Chan/Venus (TPE/NZL) vs. An.Rodionova/Marach (AUS/AUT)

(WC) Katie Volynets/USA vs. (WC) Coco Gauff/USA
#3 Elena Rybakina/RUS vs. Maria Lourdes Carle/ARG
#8 Olga Danilovic/SRB vs. #4 Amanda Anisimova/USA
Emiliana Arango/COL vs. Elysia Bolton/USA

#1 Danilovic/Kostyuk (SRB/UKR) vs. #6 Appleton/Arango (GBR/COL)
Chwalinska/Hertel (POL/POL) vs. #7 Lansere/Rakhimova (RUS/RUS)
#8 Bolton/A.Li (USA/USA) vs. #4 Liang En-Shuo/Wang Xinyu (TPE/CHN)
Naito/Vismane (JPN/LAT) vs. Boskovic/Wang Xiyu (CRO/CHN)

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN vs. Lucy Shuker/GBR
Aniek van Koot/NED vs. Kgothatso Montjane/RSA
Marjolein Buis/NED vs. Dana Mathewson/USA
Sabine Ellerbrock/GER vs. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

#1 Buis/de Groot (NED/NED) def. Ellerbrock/Montjane (GER/RSA)
Mathewson/van Koot (USA/NED) def. #2 Kamiji/Shuker (JPN/GBR)

Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State) def. Sara Dravettila (North Carolina)
Ena Shibahara (UCLA) def. Brienne Minor (Michigan)
Sydney Campbell (Vanderbilt) def. Alexa Graham (North Carolina)
Ingrid Neel (Florida) def. Hayley Carter (North Carolina)

Well done better then well said

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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 - Agnieszka 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)
2017 U.S. Open - Sloane Stephens
2017 U.S. Open - Madison Keys
Hingis (1997 AO)-W

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

Unranked - Kim Clijsters, 2009 (W)
#66 - Venus Williams, 1997

[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 ?
[reached first slam final at U.S., active players]
1997 Venus Williams
1999 Serena Williams (W)
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova (W)
2008 Jelena Jankovic
2009 Caroline Wozniacki
2015 Roberta Vinci
2016 Karolina Pliskova
2017 Madison Keys
2017 Sloane Stephens

Unseeded/Wild Card - Kim Clijsters, BEL (2009)
#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)
Note: Keys is #15 seed, Stephens is unseeded

2008 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2011 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
2014 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
2015 Daria Kasatkina, RUS
2016 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2017 Madison Keys, USA and Sloane Stephens, USA
AO: Lucie Safarova, CZE
RG: Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
WI: Arina Rodionova, AUS
US: Madison Keys, USA and Sloane Stephens, USA

2004 Shinobu Asagoe, JPN
2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Tatiana Golovin, FRA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2009 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2010 Kaia Kanepi, EST
2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
2012 Sara Errani, ITA
2013 Li Na, CHN
2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
2015 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2016 Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
2017 Bannerette Semifinalists: Keys,Stephens,Vandeweghe,V.Williams
AO: CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
RG: Simona Halep, ROU and Karolina Pliskova, CZE
WI: Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
US: Bannerette Semifinalists: Keys,Stephens,Vandeweghe,V.Williams

2007 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2008 Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
2012 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2014 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2015 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2016 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2017 Petra Kvitova, CZE
AO: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
RG: Petra Kvitova, CZE
WI: Victoria Azarenka, BLR
US: Petra Kvitova, CZE

JAN: Anett Kontaveit, EST and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
AO: -
FEB/MAR: Tatjana Maria, GER
I.W./MIAMI: Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS
1Q: Maria Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
APR/MAY: Polina Monova, RUS
MAY: Marketa Vondrousova, CZE and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK
RG: -
2Q Clay Court: Polina Monova, RUS
JUN: Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK and Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU
WI: -
2Q Grass Court: Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
JUL/AUG: Sonya Kenin, USA
AUG: Maryna Zanevska, BEL
[2017 Weekly ITF PLAYER Award Wins]
3...Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
3...Maria Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
2...Zarina Diyas, KAZ
2...Beatriz Haddad, Maia, BRA
2...Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
2...Zheng Saisai, CHN

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #3 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #20 CoCo Vandeweghe/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.): Nominee: SF - Stephens def. #9 V.Williams 6-1/0-6/7-5
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION MATCH: Nominee: 1st Rd. - (WC) Sharapova def. #2 Halep (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 ("?"): Nominee: Mathewson (U.S. WC Star)
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.)
DOUBLES STAR: Nominee: Mathewson/USA (WC), 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: Nominee: Gauff/USA, Volynets/USA

Preview: "Halep Hears a Who" (Horton Hears a Who!, 1954)
1: "Mugu on the Loose" (Dr.Seuss on the Loose, 1973 [CBS TV])
1.5: "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" (The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, 1958)
2: "Thing One and Thing Two" (The Cat in the Hat, 1957)
3: "The 500 Hats of Svetlana Kuznetsova" (The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, 1938)
4: "Hop on Pop" (Hop on Pop, 1963)
5: "You'll Miss the Best Things If You Keep Your Eyes Shut" (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, 1978)
6: "A Czech Maiden is Faithful One-Hundred Percent" (Horton Hatches the Egg, 1940)
6.5: "Lists-a-Paleussical" (Seussical, 2000 [Broadway])
7: "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish!" (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, 1960)
8: "Daisy-Head Maiden" (Daisy-Head Mayzie, 1995/2016)
8.5: "The Waiting Place" (Oh, the Place You'll Go!, 1990)
9: "Did Venus Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" (Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? , 1956)
10: "One Fish Two Fish, Red-White-and-Blue Fish!" (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, 1960)
11 (a): "And to Think That I Saw It on Ashe" (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, 1937)
11 (b): "Future Sloane I Am" (Green Eggs and Ham, 1960)

All for Day 11. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Yes, there will be tweaking, especially since Serena will be between 20-30 down under, which will skew the numbers even more.

If Stephens wins, it will be the first time in the Open Era that none of the slam winners had titles in that season before winning it.

Picking Stephens, but the match is on Keys' racket. The idea is that Keys will come out firing, and Stephens will have to hang in there and withstand the onslaught until she can turn it around. So I say Stephens in 3. The tell is probably this:If Keys wins the first set 6-1, it's over. If it is 6-4, game on.

Stat of the Day-11- The amount of American women that have won a slam in the Open Era.

Stephens or Keys will be #12. This does include Navratilova, and Seles. Seles, did also win for Yugoslavia, but isn't the only representative, as Mima Jausovec also did. Seles is Hungarian, but they haven't had any. Not surprisingly, the slam nations are in the top 4 slots, with Russia, and now Spain tied with France and Great Britain for 3rd with 3.

Fri Sep 08, 10:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Practice makes perfect. :)

(Hmmm, and it'll be a little odd with Serena in the mix again, too. Maybe it should be a potential slam *at-least-finalist-and-maybe-champion* challenge, since Serena sort of skews the results if she's on the list.)

Meanwhile, though I haven't brought her up much during this slam, Kathy Rinaldi is just sitting back and going, "Yep, yep, yep..."

A bit of karmic justice, I'd say, that U.S. women's tennis truly comes fully alive again the year *after* MJF bowed out as Fed Cup captain. It's possible the entire four-member squad for the final vs. BLR played in the semifinals last night.

Fri Sep 08, 11:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Oooh, that would be a nice Fed Cup group. Without Mattek-Sands, it is a lock that no doubles only player goes, since Spears at #26 is the highest one playing.

Assume because of age and durability issues, that Bellis is on the short list if one can't go.

And for Belarus, the obvious wild card is Azarenka. If she can go, probably Sabalenka, Sasnovich, and Govortsova, to round it out which is a good group.

Fri Sep 08, 11:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

And a reminder that--during the days of playing juniors--one of the best doubles players around was Sloane Stephens.

Fri Sep 08, 01:53:00 PM EDT  

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