Monday, January 22, 2018

AO.8 - Freedom! '18

Over the past eight days, this Australian Open has established something of a reputation. At *this* slam, great, head-spinning matches are seemingly born in the most indiscriminate corners. While we have sometimes expected great things and instead gotten a block of proverbial coal in our stockings in some highly valued sections of the draw (Kerber/Sharapova, Keys/Garcia), we've conversely been treated to some of the most memorable moments in other more moderately appraised areas (Halep/Davis, Wozniacki/Fett) that many onlookers might have strolled by without a second glance if they weren't careful.

Today, we stumbled upon another of *those* matches.

2016 AO champ Angelique Kerber has spent the opening weeks of 2018 finally escaping the quicksand and slow-motion demise that she experienced over the course of the '17 season, perhaps reaching the zenith of "Angie 3.0" in the 3rd Round in Melbourne with her thumping destruction of Maria Sharapova. Hsieh Su-wei, two years the German's senior at age 32, reached her first slam Round of 16 in a decade in Melbourne with back-to-back career highlights in which she flummoxed two-time slam winner Garbine Muguruza, who could never find an answer to her designed-to-frustrate brand of ball, and former slam finalist Aga Radwanska, who found out that expert anticipation and angled, unconventional wizardry can sometimes come from the *other* side of the net in one of her matches. One expected Kerber, undefeated so far this season and showing no signs of the inability to get on a roll that plagued her a season ago, to find a better way to handle the Taiwanese vet.

She did, eventually, once Hsieh had used up what remained of her physical reserves and was no longer able to twist the former #1 into a soft pretzel with her varied series of drop shots, slip-sliding forehand slices, hooks, flat change-of-direction winners down the line, angled brain-twisters, curling hand-cuffers, and, of course, her more "normal" corner-to-corner groundstrokes that served to leave Kerber perpetually out of position for most of two full sets on Monday, all while Hsieh's great shot anticipation never appeared to force *her* to have to actually chase balls down, as she was always there waiting, with every option and shot within arm's reach. The tactics bewitched, bothered and bewildered Kerber almost to the point of being on the brink of defeat.


While she'd quickly outgrow the inherent tension of the biggest match of her career, Hsieh started quite slowly in the match. Her own errors contributed mightily to Kerber's early 3-1 advantage. But as soon as she got into the habit of keeping her off-speed shots within the lines, they had the intended effect of thwarting Kerber's brilliance as a ball machine-like whacking machine (last seen vs. a certain Russian) with the ability to park herself on the baseline, standing up to the most powerful of shots and returning them on the rebound with just as much (or more) sting as they'd arrived. With little pace to work with, Kerber couldn't use it against Hsieh. The dynamic often resulted in the German running down balls in the corners and putting back defensive crosscourt shots that Hsieh stepped in on and cut off with nary a hint of hurry, sending flat two-handed forehands (or two-handed backhands) down the line (or behind Angie) for an uncontested winner while Kerber was seen two or three steps away, trying in vain to catch up (that is, if she was able to get off the mark to make any attempt at all).

Hsieh soon got back on serve and notched holds to edge ahead, forcing Kerber to do the same to stay even. An ace and two service winners did the trick to knot the score at 4-4, but two games later Kerber found herself having to do it again to stay alive in the set. Down love/30, she used a forehand winner and drop shot to even the game score, then saved a set point with a forehand down the line. But on Hsieh's second SP, the Taiwanese vet got the full benefit of a net cord, as her ball barely made its way over onto Kerber's side of the court to allow her to claim the opening set at 6-4. For the 1st, she had twenty winners to just nine for the former champ.

In the 2nd, Kerber's frustration and exasperation only grew. At 2-2, Hsieh saved a BP and held. Kerber got the elusive break two games later to lead 4-3, then went up 30/15 on her own serve, only to commit three consecutive errors (one a badly missed overhead) to hand the break back. While Kerber's head-shaking, sarcastic thumbs-up motions and what-the-heck-is-happening expressions were by now a common sight, she nonetheless battled on. A few unforced errors by Hsieh opened the door at 5-5, and on BP Kerber eschewed any sort of crosscourt shot and instead fired a forehand down the line for a winner to get the break and serve for the 2nd set at 6-5. After not long before having seemingly been holding onto her chances in the match by her fingertips, Kerber held to force a 3rd.

It was in the final set that Hsieh finally hit the physical wall, just as Kerber was hitting her stride.

The German broke to start the 3rd, only to give back the advantage a game later. But what turned out to be Hsieh's last stand was next to come. In game #3, a missed mid-rally line call prevented Hsieh from taking a 40/love lead on serve, and since she didn't challenge the call she led only 30/15 after going on to lose the point. Kerber would get the break, then proceed to run away from her opponent after having spent so much time having been made to run to all corners -- sunlit and otherwise -- for most of the afternoon.

As Hsieh's error totals began to climb, she finally started to show the noticeable effort that she'd made seem so casual before. She began to struggle to get to some balls, and often delivered tired looking shots when she did (barely) reach them. Up 3-1, Kerber's backhand at Hsieh's feet at the net was too hot to handle and the German broke for 4-1. She had two MP at 5-1, but failed to get the break and was made to serve out the comeback win, ending things on MP #3 for a 4-6/7-5/6-2 victory and the continuation of her peerless '18 run, which now stands at 9-0 (13-0 overall).

Hsieh, after a long career of doubles success, as well as occasional flashes of singles accomplishment, will now exit Melbourne (though she's still alive in doubles) having left her mark on this AO as the latest veteran to find a personal fountain of youth Down Under. Zhang Shuai, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and others... you now have some good company.

This win makes Kerber 3-0 in 2018 after dropping the 1st set. She was 3-22 in such matches in 2017, and 10-17 in 2016.

Fortified by both her dazzling '16 campaign as well as the deflating one of '17, Kerber is now, simultaneously, a different version of both those players from the last two seasons. She's now a more experienced, less weary (and wary) former champion who knows what she's capable of accomplishing, but also strengthened by the fact that she's already proven this season that she's not about to be defeated by simply being unable to live up to the expectations that her own accomplishments placed on her shoulders.

An argument could be made that the combination might make her a more dangerous player than ever, as she's not just riding an emotional and tactical wave, and is able to play with a more clear-minded and mentally unhampered approach. At the moment, Kerber may be experiencing a brand of new-found, hard-earned freedom that she's never before known.

What she does with that, both in Melbourne and beyond, should be fascinating.

...Madison Keys and Caroline Garcia both came into 2018 having finally hit their stride in the latter stages of last season. Both got off to slow starts due to lingering injuries -- Garcia's back ailment led to the whole LOL mess, while Keys' two wrist surgeries kept her out of the '17 AO and turned her season into a stop-and-start affair until the summer. But Keys returned to North America and won in Stanford, then reached the U.S. Open final. Garcia staged a sudden breakthrough fall, becoming the first to sweep the Wuhan and Beijing titles, qualifying for the WTA Finals and finishing in the Top 10. Both had false starts in Brisbane a few weeks ago, with Keys falling in three sets to Jo Konta in her season debut and Garcia retiring from only match against Alize Cornet.

Garcia had a bit more difficulty (winner 8-6 deciding set vs. Marketa Vondrousova, and another three-setters vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich) getting to the Round of 16 stage in Melbourne than Keys (no sets and just fourteen total games -- and five of those in one tight set vs. Wang Qiang), but when the Pastry broke the Bannerettes' serve to open the match it looked as if it was going to be a very even contest. But after Garcia failed to grab an opportunity to hold and back up the break, Keys got her foot in the door in the match and pretty soon had completely taken it over. She assumed the lead with break for 4-2, then served out the set at 6-3. Powering through Garcia, Keys raced to a double-break lead in the 2nd and finished off the French woman 6-3/6-2 to reach her second straight slam semifinal, and her first in Melbourne since 2015.

...the final women's Round of 16 match of the day session promised to be a test for Simona Halep, as much as a gauge of how she's physically recovered from an ankle injury *and* the nearly four-hour marathon win over Lauren Davis as it was for how she might handle the oft-erratic but always potentially lethal shots of Naomi Osaka.

What happened was the evidence that the 20-year old from Japan, while she has the raw material to work with (Sascha Bajin, your assignment is...), it still must be polished in order to truly shine. She's just not there yet.

With Halep needing a short match to help her continued recovery efforts, she got just that when Osaka failed to take advantage of the opportunities the world #1 gave her. Osaka was 0-for-5 on BP opportunities in the ever-important 1st set, failing on a handful of them in game #6 as Halep held for 3-3. In the immediate aftermath of the squandered chance(s), Osaka dropped her own serve a game later, then did so again as the Romanian closed out the set, amid a hail of Osaka errors, at 6-3.

Osaka finally got her first break in the opening game of the 2nd set, only to see it be a short-lived lead. Halep broke back in game #2, and pulled away with another break two games later. With Osaka serving to stay in the match at 5-2, Halep sealed the "two days after" victory with a big smile and clenched fist after whacking a second serve forehand return winner to close things out at 6-3/6-2.

...the all-Czech Maiden battle between Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova will close out the night session on Laver. the first of what might have been two doubles match-ups between the Chan sisters at this slam, #1-seeded Latisha (w/ Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova) defeated Angel (w/ Katarina Srebotnik) 6-3/6-2 to reach the QF. Also advancing were the Russian #2 seeds, Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, as they continued their quest to become the first duo to win all four slams, the WTAF and Olympic Gold. They defeated Czechs Katerina Siniakova & Barbora Krejcikova. Gaby Dabrowski & Xu Yifan and Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic also advanced.

Six of the Top 8 seeds have reached the QF, along with #10 duo. The only unseeded pair is Jennifer Brady & Vania King.

In mixed doubles, defending champs Abigail Spears & Juan Sebastian Cabal came back from a set down to defeat Kveta Peschke & Henri Kontinen, 3-6/6-3 [10-8]. But "Chan-vs.-Chan II" died on the vine when #1-seeded Latisha & Jamie Murray lost to the all-Aussie pair of Storm Sanders & Marc Polmans, 7-6(8)/6-4. Thus, it'll be up to Angel to carry forth the family name in the mixed. She and Michael Venus play their Round of 16 match tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Larsson/Middelkoop also eliminated the #2-seeded pair, Dellacqua/Peers.

...Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina decided to skip the trip to Melbourne and any attempt to qualify for the Australian Open. Her gamble paid off, as she maximized her ranking points potential over the past two weeks. On Sunday in Orlando, the 20-year old won her second straight ITF title of the season, taking the $25K challenger title with a 6-2/3-6/7-5 win over Austria's Julia Grabher. She won a $25K in Daytona Beach last week. Costa Rica, 16-year old Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL) took the title at the junior G1 Coffee Bowl with a 6-3/5-7/6-3 win in the final over Bannerette Lea Ma.

In the Czech Republic, Hordette Maria Timofeeva defeated Luxembourg's Eleonora Molinaro 2-6/6-3/6-3 to claim the G1 RPM Junior Open in Prague.


...LIKE ON DAY 8: So she's still got that goin' for her, which is nice.

...and, finally, Czech teammates being Czech doubles mates...

#1 Simona Halep/ROU def. Naomi Osaka/JPN
#20 Barbora Strycova/CZE vs. #6 Karolina Pliskova/CZE
#21 Angelique Kerber/GER def. Hsieh Su-wei/TPE
#17 Madison Keys/USA def. #8 Caroline Garcia/FRA
Elise Mertens/BEL def. Petra Martic/CRO
#4 Elina Svitolina/UKR def. (Q) Denisa Allertova/CZE
Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP def. #32 Anett Kontaveit/EST
#2 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN def. #19 Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK

#1 L.Chan/Sestini-Hlavackova (TPE/CZE) vs. #5 Babos/Mladenovic (HUN/FRA)
#4 Safarova/Strycova (CZE/CZE) vs. #8 S.Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN)
#10 Begu/Niculescu (ROU/ROU) vs. Brady/King (USA/USA)
#6 Dabrowski/Y.Xu (CAN/CHN) vs. #2 Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS)

(WC) Sanders/Polmans (AUS/AUS) def. #1 L.Chan/J.Murray (TPE/GBR)
Martinez-Sanchez/Demoliner (ESP/BRA) vs. #7 A.Chan/Venus (TPE/NZL)
Spears/Cabal (USA/COL) def. #4 Peschke/Kontinen (CZE/FIN)
King/Skugor (USA/CRO) vs. #5 Babos/Bopanna (HUN/IND)
#6 Sestini-Hlavackova/Roger-Vasselin (CZE/FRA) vs N.Kichenok/Granollers (UKR/ESP)
(WC) Stosur/Groth (AUS/AUS) vs. #3 Makarova/Soares (RUS/BRA)
#8 Dabrowski/Pavic (CAN/CRO) vs. Schuurs/Rojer (NED/NED)
Larsson/Middlekoop (SWE/NED) def. #2 Dellacqua/Peers (AUS/AUS)

x vs. x
#10 Lulu Sun/SUI vs. #5 Naho Sato/JPN
x vs. x
x vs. x
Elisabetta Cocciaretto/ITA vs. (Q) Wong Hong Yi Cody/HKG
#13 Daniela Vismane/LAT vs. Daria Frayman/RUS
#7 Alexa Noel/USA vs. #9 Wang Xiyu/CHN
x vs. x

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN vs. Marjolein Buis/NED
Lucy Shuker/GBR vs. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
Kgothatso Montjane/RSA vs. Aniek van Koot/NED
(WC) Katharina Kruger/GER vs. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

#1 Buis/Yamiji (NED/JPN) vs. Montjane/Shuker (RSA/GBR)
Ellerbrock/Kruger (GER/GER) vs. #2 de Groot/van Koot (NED/NED)

2007 Serena Williams, USA *
2008 Maria Sharapova, RUS *
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2010 Serena Williams, USA *
2011 Li Na, CHN
2012 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2013 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2014 Li Na, CHN *
2015 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2016 Serena Williams, USA
2017 Serena Williams, USA *
2018 Madison Keys, USA
* - won title

2015 Venus Williams/USA and Martina Hingis/SUI
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 Venus Williams/USA & Serena Williams/USA
2018 Hsieh Su-wei, TPE

2011 Andrea Petkovic, GER
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR (W)
2013 Laura Robson, GBR
2014 Li Na, CHN (W)
2015 Genie Bouchard, CAN
2016 "The Dasha Show" (Gavrilova)
2017 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2018 Elise Mertens, BEL

[began w/ 2001 Wimbledon]
2001 US - Bedanova
2002 AO - Ad.Serra-Zanetti
2002 RG - Pierce,C.Fernandez,Suarez
2002 WI - Likhovtseva
2002 US - Bovina
2003 AO - Shaughnessy,Ruano-Pascual
2003 RG - Pierce
2004 WI - Sprem
2004 US - Asagoe
2005 RG - Karatantcheva
2006 AO - Hingis(wc)
2006 WI - Bremond(q)
2007 AO - S.Williams[W],Safarova
2007 US - Szavay
2008 RG - Kanepi,Suarez-Navarro(q)
2008 WI - Zheng(wc),Tanasugarn
2009 AO - Dokic(wc),Suarez-Navarro
2009 RG - Sharapova,Cirstea
2009 WI - Lisicki,Schiavone
2009 US - Wickmayer,K.Bondarenko,Oudin,Clijsters(wc)[W]
2010 AO - J.Zheng,Kirilenko,Henin(wc)[RU]
2010 RG - Shvedova
2010 WI - Kvitova,Kanepi(q),Pironkova
2010 US - Cibulkova
2011 WI - Lisicki(wc),Paszek
2011 US - Kerber
2012 AO - Makarova,Errani
2012 RG - Shvedova(q)
2012 WI - Paszek
2013 AO - Kuznetsova
2013 RG - Kuznetsova
2013 WI - Kanepi
2013 US - Hantuchova,Pennetta
2014 RG - Muguruza
2014 WI - Zahlavova-Strycova
2014 US - Bencic,Peng
2015 AO - Keys
2015 RG - Van Uytvanck
2015 WI - Vandeweghe
2015 US - Mladenovic,Vinci[RU]
2016 AO - Konta,Sh.Zhang(q)
2016 RG - Bertens,Pironkova,Putintseva,Rogers
2016 WI - Shvedova,Vesnina
2016 US - Konjuh,Sevastova,Wozniacki
2017 AO - Lucic-Baroni,Vandeweghe
2017 RG - Ostapenko[W]
2017 WI - Rybarikova
2017 US - Kanepi(q),Stephens[W]
2018 AO - Mertens,Suarez-Navarro
[W]=won title; [RU]=reached final; [wc]=wild card; [q]=qualifier

Belinda Bencic, SUI
Kiki Bertens, NED
Alona Bondarenko, UKR
Elena Bovina, RUS
Sorana Cirstea, ROU
Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
Caroline Garcia, FRA
Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
Ana Konjuh, CRO
Michaella Krajicek, NED
Elise Mertens, BEL
Peng Shuai, CHN
Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
Shelby Rogers, USA
Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
Alexandra Stevenson, USA
Barbora Strycova, CZE [to play 4th Rd.]
Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
Elena Vesnina, RUS
Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
Zhang Shuai, CHN

*2018 AO OPEN FINAL 8*
[by career slam QF]
10 - Simona Halep
10 - Caroline Wozniacki
8 - Angelique Kerber
6 - Carla Suarez-Navarro
4 - Madison Keys
3 - Elina Svitolina
1 - Elise Mertens
TO PLAY: Ka.Pliskova (4) vs. Strycova (1)
[by career AO QF]
5 - Angelique Kerber
3 - Simona Halep
3 - Carla Suarez-Navarro
3 - Caroline Wozniacki
2 - Madison Keys
1 - Elise Mertens
1 - Elina Svitolina
TO PLAY: Ka.Pliskova (1) vs. Strycova (0)
[w/ consecutive slam QF]
2 - Madison Keys
NOTE: Ka.Pliskova reached '17 U.S. Open QF
[w/ consecutive AO QF]
NOTE: Ka.Pliskova reached '17 AO Open QF
[WTA career slam QF - active]
47...Serena Williams, USA
39...Venus Williams, USA
24...Maria Sharapova, RUS
16...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
16...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
12...Aga Radwanska, POL
10...Petra Kvitova, CZE
8...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
7...Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
7...Sara Errani, ITA
7...Francesca Schiavone, ITA
7...Patty Schnyder, SUI
7...Samantha Stosur, AUS
6...Marion Bartoli, FRA
6...Kaia Kanepi, EST
6...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
6...Garbine Muguruza, ESP
6...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
5...Sabine Lisicki, GER
4...Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4...Genie Bouchard, CAN
4...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
4...Andrea Petkovic, GER
4...Karolina Pliskova, CZE [to play]
4...CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
4...Roberta Vinci, ITA
3...Johanna Konta, GBR
3...Tamira Paszek, AUT
3...Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
3...Lucie Safarova, CZE
3...Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
3...Sloane Stephens, USA
2...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
2...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2...Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2...Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
2...(Jie Zheng, CHN)
1...Belinda Bencic, SUI
1...Kiki Bertens, NED
1...Alona Bondarenko, UKR
1...Elena Bovina, RUS
1...Sorana Cirstea, ROU
1...Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
1...Caroline Garcia, FRA
1...Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
1...Ana Konjuh, CRO
1...Michaella Krajicek, NED
1...Peng Shuai, CHN
1...Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
1...Shelby Rogers, USA
1...Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
1...Alexandra Stevenson, USA
1...Barbora Strycova, CZE [to play]
1...Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
1...Elena Vesnina, RUS
1...Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
1...Zhang Shuai, CHN
[WTA slam QF in 2010's - active]
19...Serena Williams, USA
14...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
11...Maria Sharapova, RUS
10...Petra Kvitova, CZE
9...Aga Radwanska, POL
9...Venus Williams, USA
7...Sara Errani, ITA
6...Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
6...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
6...Garbine Muguruza, ESP
6...Samantha Stosur, AUS
5...Kaia Kanepi, EST
5...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
4...Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4...Marion Bartoli, FRA
4...Genie Bouchard, CAN
4...Sabine Lisicki, GER
4...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
4...Andrea Petkovic, GER
4...Karolina Pliskova, CZE [to play]
4...Francesca Schiavone, ITA
4...CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
4...Roberta Vinci, ITA
4...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
3...Johanna Konta, GBR
3...Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
3...Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
3...Sloane Stephens, USA
2...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2...Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2...Tamira Paszek, AUT
2...Lucie Safarova, CZE
2...Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
1...Belinda Bencic, SUI
1...Kiki Bertens, NED
1...Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
1...Caroline Garcia, FRA
1...Ana Konjuh, SRB
1...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
1...Peng Shuai, CHN
1...Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
1...Shelby Rogers, USA
1...Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
1...Barbora Strycova, CZE [to play]
1...Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
1...Elena Vesnina, RUS
1...Zhang Shuai, CHN
1...(Zheng Jie, CHN)

**WTA "CAREER SF SLAM" - active**
[with slam at which completed]
Victoria Azarenka - 2013 RG (30th)
Maria Sharapova - 2007 RG (18th)
Serena Williams - 2003 AO (18th)
Venus Williams - 2001 AO (15th)
Vera Zvonareva - 2010 US (31st)
NOTE: Halep needs AO SF for all four (31st slam)

**SLAM MX TITLES - active*
5...Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
3...Sania Mirza, IND
3...Samantha Stosur, AUS
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
2...Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
2...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2...Serena Williams, USA
2...Venus Williams, USA
2...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
1...Elena Bovina, RUS
1...Gaby Dabrowski, CAN
1...Casey Dellacqua, AUS
1...Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova, CZE
1...Lucie Hradecka, CZE
1...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
1...Ekaterina Makarova, RU
1...Laura Siegemund, GER
1...Abigail Spears, USA
1...Elena Vesnina, RUS
1...Heather Watson, GBR

TOP QUALIFIER: Marta Kostyuk/UKR (first player born in 2002 in slam MD)
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #21 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #17 Madison Keys/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1 - Caroline Dolehide/USA def. Conny Perrin/SUI 5-7/6-3/7-6(7) (trailed 5-0 and 6-2 in the deciding TB, saved 5 MP to record first career slam match win)
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - Andrea Petkovic/GER def. Petra Kvitova/CZE 6-3/4-6/10-8 (Petko up 4-0 in 3rd, 3 MP saved by Kvitova; Kvitova for match at 6-5 and 8-7)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - #1 Simona Halep/ROU def. Lauren Davis/USA 4-6/6-4/15-13 (3:45; 3 MP saved from triple MP down; served out on fourth try in the 2:22 3rd set)
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr./Doub.): xx
FIRST VICTORY: Duan Yingying/CHN (def. Duque-Marino/COL)
FIRST SEED OUT: #13 Sloane Stephens/USA (1st Rd. - lost to Zhang Shuai; 0-8 since winning U.S. Open)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: USA (women lose first eight 1st Rd. matches, go 1-9 on Day 1, 3/4 of '17 U.S. Open all-Bannerette semifinalists ousted)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Denisa Allertova/CZE (in 4th Rd.) (LL: Bernarda Pera/USA - 3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Olivia Rogowska/AUS (2nd Rd.)
IT (TBD): Nominee: Kostyuk, (jr.)
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominees: Kerber, Wozniacki, King
CRASH & BURN: Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe & Venus Williams, USA (3 of 4 '17 U.S. Open semifinalist lose on Day 1)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN (2nd Rd. - Fett/CRO served up 5-1, 40/15 in 3rd set; 2 MP saved)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Elise Mertens/BEL (def. Gavrilova in 2nd Rd. in AO nighttime debut)

All for Day 8. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

When you check scores at 8 am, and realize that the Pliskova/Strycova match is still on :)

Pliskova won in 2:40, but like Hsieh, Strycova left everything out there.

Stat of the Day-7- Out of 18 matches the last 11 years at the AO in which a player like Halep followed up a match that went to at least 10 games in the 3rd set with a win.

Not close to 50%, but once you see the list, and who they lost in the next match, you will see that there is a 50/50 chance to come out with a win. Not as much of a hindrance as expected.

Listed is the long match, then result of the next.

2008 Jankovic d Paszek 12-10, won in 2
2010 Wickmayer d Dulgheru 10-8, won in 2
2011 Schiavone d Kuznetsova 16-14, lost in 3 to Wozniacki
2011 Makarova d Ivanovic 10-8, won in 2
2012 Arn d Cibulkova 10-8, lost in 2 to Serena
2013 Muguruza d Rybarikova 14-12, lost in 2 to Serena
2013 Mladenovic d Babos 11-9, lost in 2 to Stephens
2013 Robson d Kvitova 11-9, lost in 2 to Stephens
2013 Cornet d Erakovic 10-8, lost in 2 to Venus
2013 Hantuchova d Ka.Pliskova 12-10, loss in 2 to Serena
2014 Sharapova d Knapp 10-8, won in 2
2015 McHale d Foretz 12-10, loss in 2 to Witthoft
2016 Gavrilova d Mladenovic 11-9, loss in 3 to Suarez-Navarro
2017 Duan d Lepchenko 10-8, loss in 2 to Venus
2017 Ka.Pliskova d Ostapenko 10-8, won in 2
2017 Brady d Watson 10-8, won in 2
2018 Petkovic d Kvitova 10-8, loss in 3 to Davis
2018 Halep d Davis 15-13, won in 2

So as long as Team Williams isn't the next match, you have a fighting chance.

Mon Jan 22, 10:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Quiz Time!

1.Mirjana Lucic-Baroni famously reached the 2017 AO SF, 18 years after doing so at Wimbledon in 1999. In which 52 week stretch after this did she have a better record?

The reason this was a quiz, is because the stat is disappointing. The answer was not 1999-2000, as she followed up that run going 5-16 the next 52 weeks. Even the 2017-2018 had some similarity, as she went 15-17, ending on a 5-13 run. Similar to Todd's mention about Suarez Navarro making all of her QF runs unseeded, Lucic-Baroni hasn't used her SF runs as a springboard.

Mon Jan 22, 10:33:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, I was thinking you were going for her best *overall* 52-week W/L run since 1999 rather than only between the stretches immediately after both slam semis. So I didn't even make a guess on that one. :\

I'm guessing her overall best 52-week run since '99 was probably the year when she won her only post-1999 title, at Quebec City in September 2014. She finished #61 in '14, her best season-ending ranking rank since '99 before last year's #32.

Mon Jan 22, 01:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Has it happened before that both women and men quarterfinals are from 8 different countries?

Mon Jan 22, 01:27:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, if I get the chance I'll see if I can figure that out.

Meanwhile, just realized:

Mertens' tennis hero is Kim Clijsters, and she sometimes trains at her academy. Svitolina worked with Henin in 2016 and sometimes trained at HER academy. It's an impromptu "Battle of the Belgians: By Proxy Edition". They just can't seem to escape each other's shadow. ;)

Mon Jan 22, 05:25:00 PM EST  

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