Thursday, June 07, 2018

RG.12- Building the Perfect Simona

All right, Simona. Now what do you do for an encore?

If one of the goals of renowned perfectionist Simona Halep has been to play the perfect match, then she got pretty close to the feat today. Considering the circumstances, the combination of the quality of the Romanian's performance in Paris on Thursday with all the specific intangibles in play, she may have never been better than this. The where (Chatrier Court, in her most favored major), the what (a semifinal with the #1 ranking at stake, but more importantly a berth in her fourth career slam final within reach) and the who (vs. Garbine Muguruza, a former Roland Garros champion with a spotless 3-0 mark in major semis, and having looked like the player to beat after soundly crushing Maria Sharapova yesterday) all came together to produce a "perfect tennis storm" of activity revolving around the world #1.

As it turned out, though, she brought The Perfect Simona to the court.

The Romanian might as well have worn a bandit's mask, for she stole the look of a champion that the Spaniard arrived with, and made off with it like a thief in the Paris afternoon, leaving behind a round of admiration and nary a trace of doubt about what she's capable of achieving before the weekend is over. Now it's just about her follow-through. Once again.

Yesterday, Halep got off to a slow start against Angelique Kerber in their quarterfinal, falling behind 4-0 and being made to fight her way back into the match before winning in three sets. She arrived on Day 12 seemingly determined to re-write that script in today's match. She quickly grabbed a love/30 lead on Muguruza's serve in the opening game, reaching break point and seeing the Spaniard's double-fault give her a 1-0 edge. Halep faced three BP in game #2, but saw her opponent be initially bedeviled by a shot -- her forehand -- that would be a problem for the two-time major winner all day. Two forehand errors, followed by one on her backhand wing on Halep's game point, allowed the Romanian to maintain her early momentum.

With that, she was off and running, growing almost exponentially in confidence as the match progressed.

If there was one point that encapsulated the moment, it was the one in game #3 in which Halep's defensive scrambles prevented Muguruza, set up at the net and trying in vain to end a point, from finding a "safe" place. The Spaniard ultimately committed an error in the face of Halep's roving baseline barrage to lose a point she surely felt she *should* have won. Within moments, Halep's inside-out, angled backhand down the line went unreturned by the Spaniard, producing still another BP chance. She converted to take a two-break, 3-0 lead, riding a wave of confidence, accuracy and expert execution of her gameplan for victory. She fired an ace up the "T" to hold for 4-0, fully turning over her own slow start in the QF *and* Muguruza's blazing one (she'd led Sharapova 4-0 out of the gate) from a day before. From there, Halep felt even more compelled to turn her superb defense into instant offense by increasing her in-point aggression, firing powerful groundstrokes and winners all over the court, while often leaving Muguruza flat-footed and frustrated as she watched another ball go by.

Another break of serve had made it 5-0 before the Spaniard finally got on the board, taking a love/30 lead on Halep's serve and then seeing her first DF of the match get back one of the three breaks. A game later, at 30/30, Halep missed on a backhand shot and slapped her thigh. In the worst of times, the tiny crack in her wall of perfection might have caused her to crazily lose concentration. Muguruza *did* reach GP, her first of the day, in the game and approached the net inside the doubles alley to reach a short ball, only to fail to get her shot back, hitting the net post with her backhand. On her second set point, Halep came in on a short backhand and her down the line forehand winner officially claimed the 6-1 set.

While virtually everyone had expected Halep to struggle with an in-form Muguruza, what had occurred in the opening stanza was a case of the Romanian effecting jumping the Spaniard, knocking her off balance and daring her to regain it. She never really did. Muguruza had just two winners in the 1st, but totaled fourteen unforced errors. Halep converted on four of her six BP opportunities.

With a set in hand, Halep started the 2nd by crushing everything in sight. A Tennis Channel on-screen stat showed that her average groundstroke speed (75 mph) in the match was equal to that of the men's Nadal/Schwartzman QF that had preceded this match on Chatrier.

Muguruza finally found an opening a few games into the set when her shots -- from groundstrokes to perfectly placed lobs -- began to land inside the lines. She fired a forehand winner and went up 15/40 on Halep's serve, getting the break to lead 2-1. The Spaniard saved two BP a game later, holding for 3-1.

With Muguruza leading 4-3, the key remaining games in the match were about to come in back-to-back fashion. Muguruza fired a big serve and approached the net, but sailed a backhand and was down 15/30. Halep's deep return and forehand winner into the corner got her a BP, then Muguruza's wide backhand gave back the break she'd waited so long for. With the set knotted at 4-4, the Spaniard was now holding on by her fingernails. Her seventeenth forehand error put Halep up 40/15, but the two women then engaged in a nearly 14-minute game that seemed to hold the entire set (and, for Muguruza, her chances in the match) in the balance. While Halep had difficulty securing the hold, Muguruza had similar problems getting her break advantage back.

Halep failed to put away either of her first two GP, with Muguruzu denying the second with a big crosscourt backhand return spiced up with an acute Selesian angle. The Romanian would see a total of five GP come and go before the Spaniard had her first of what would be three BP opportunities, with Halep throwing in a pair of DF (half her total for the entire match) in the marathon game. But she was undeterred, and wouldn't allow herself to become frustrated. Finally, Halep got her sixth GP chance via a Muguruza return error, and when the Spaniard also netted the following return the Romanian held for 5-4.

It almost felt as if Halep had converted a match point with the point to hold, for though the next game came after a cooling-off changeover break it was hard to imagine Muguruza being able to fully erase the squandered opportunity from her mind, nor for Halep to take a step back after such an important win. Muguruza's 30th UE, at the net on a short ball, put her down love/30. Halep then ripped off a backhand to one corner, yanking the Spaniard to her right, then immediately took Muguruza's response and ripped it with forehand into the opposite corner to reach triple MP. Muguruza's long backhand finally ended it, with Halep winning 6-1/6-4, notching just her second career win in five meetings with the Spaniard, but improving to 2-0 against her on clay.

The win sends Halep into her third Roland Garros final in five years, her second major final in a row in 2018, and will allow to retain her #1 ranking after the tournament no matter what happens next.

What a day. Well, until maybe the one to come on Saturday, that is.

Halep's performance in the semifinal, as good an outing she or anyone else could have *ever* anticipated even in their wildest Simona dreams, further highlighted the resiliency of the Romanian. She just keeps coming back. Again and again. Even though the very act brings potential heartbreak once more to the table for her in a grand slam final.

With this week's tenth anniversary of the 2008 RG final between Ana Ivanovic and Dinara Safina, it's good to note how things *could* go for players who have experienced some of the same frustration as Halep. Ivanovic finally overcame the big stage pressure that had previously troubled her and won that final, reaching #1 at age 20, but then never won another major the rest of her career. Though consistently a top player, she only reached one more slam semi -- seven years later -- and often seemed to not be driven to return to the top in the sort of warrior-esque way that the undersized Romanian goes about her own business. Safina, another player who had to deal with an inability to win "the big one," reached #1 the following year and returned to the RG final, dropping to 0-3 in finals in her slam career (Halep's mark as we stand), having badly lost all three in straight sets. The Russian would only reach one more semi, a few weeks later at Wimbledon, and would never win a major. She was out of the sport entirely in two years at an age younger than Halep is now.

Halep, a grinder whose workwomanlike outings and crushing near-misses sometime overshadow her great talent, for all her issues and blown opportunities over the course of her career, *still* brings the fight. She consistently puts herself in position to win majors. Again and again. She may *not* finally do it on Saturday in Paris (a third RG loss without an accompanying victory would rank her near the top of all luckless lists of futility in the tournament's history). But she'd likely keep moving forward.

It must be a tremendous burden to have that perfectionist gene but be hounded by a history of imperfection at all the biggest moments of her career. Yet she persists. It says more good about her than anything "bad" that her losses might turn up. As much as she may *wish* to be, and as close as she got to pulling it off today, Halep *isn't* perfect. But she's a tenacious warrior who has fallen in battle more than once. After a moment to recoup from her disappointments, she's found it within herself to steel her mind, body and soul for another fight. Then another.

Of the seventeen women who have played for a slam crown in the last seventeen majors, the only player who has reached more slam finals than Halep since she reached her first in Paris in 2014 is named Serena. But of the seven women who have reached multiple major finals in the stretch, she's the only won without a title. Hopefully Halep will never get to the point of not being willing to fight for fear of facing more pressure, and maybe experiencing another failure. It's too sad to contemplate.

But she can take care of that in two days. Sweep it all aside and change the narrative of her career to one that resembles a pre-1998 Wimbledon, easy-to-criticize Jana Novotna to that of post-1998 Wimbledon Novotna that forever cast her as a champion whose perseverance ultimately paid off, transforming hers from a hapless tale of frustration and tears to one of redemption and triumph.

How much it means... • • • ??: Cedric Lecocq / FFT #RG18

A post shared by Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) on

Perhaps no player's journey more than Halep's has more resembled that of Novotna's in the twenty years since the Czech won her one and only slam singles title. Novotna died before the start of the 2018 season, leaving behind a legacy that she had to fight to ultimately claim, but her absence created a void, too. For without her there is no longer a living individual in the sport whose career experience can be defined by a single championship run that allowed her to triumph over a career peppered with frustration that she steadfastly refused to allow to get the best of her.

Halep only has one thing left to do. The Romanian can -- and should -- be the woman who fills the Novotna role. On Saturday, she'll have another chance to follow in Jana's footsteps.

(hmmm, what's that I hear?)

Si-mo-na! Si-mo-na! Si-mo-na!

...the day's second semifinal was the second of a (so far) two-part story featuring friends, countrywomen and look-at-where-they-were-a-year-ago-and-where-they-are-now club members Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Twelve months ago, Stephens missed Roland Garros while still a ways off from returning from foot surgery, while Keys exited Paris in the 2nd Round, leaving her glad to get on to the grass and hard court campaigns that she prefers. Since then, both have gotten healthy, and met to decide the U.S. Open final last summer in Flushing Meadows. Stephens overwhelmed Keys in that match. The same didn't *quite* happen here, but the #10 seed's win over her #13-seeded fellow Bannerette was still a fairly routine affair.

Keys just wasn't ready to face off with Stephens today in a clay court match that favored the reigning U.S. champion, often alternating between employing tactics she wasn't comfortable with and just outright missing on shots which are her bread and butter. For Sloane, though, this all seemed like old hat. Well past her I'm-losing-now-but-I'll-get-past-it post-Open slide, she's keyed in and focused once again. Camila Giorgi twice served for the match in their 3rd Round encounter last week but, remember, Anastasija Sevastova led Stephens 3-1 in the 3rd set in their QF match in New York last summer, too. Stephens might not be to the point of putting together an all-consuming, can-you-believe-this, two-week run of dominance ala Serena, but she now knows how to maneuver her way through a slam draw, picking up steam as she goes.

While Keys was trying a bit too hard to do what she *thought* she should do (multiple drop shots early on?), perhaps thinking she had to be something she's not quite ready to be to win on clay, Stephens knew *exactly* who she was on this day.

Run things down, fire off some big shots, stay calm, win.

Stephens got an early break lead in the 1st, and then raised her game whenever any potential bumps in the road popped up. At 3-2, she saved a pair of BP, serving big to impose her will on the proceedings, then got the hold when Keys donated a backhand return into the net. A love hold eventually secured a 6-4 set.

In the 2nd, Stephens rode another early break (and a quick 2-0 lead) to the finish. She failed to serve out the match on her first attempt, and then Keys held serve to force her to try again. She did, finishing things off with a backhand down the line to win 6-4/6-4.

Stephens compiled 25 winners to Keys' 9 on the day, while also keeping things remarkably clean with just 11 unforced errors. Keys had a whopping 41.

So, we'll either have a third straight (after Muguruza in '16 and Ostapenko last year) first-time slam champ at RG in Halep, or Stephens will become the first U.S. woman not named Williams to win two of three major titles since Jennifer Capriati won back-to-back AO/RG crowns to begin 2001. Halep has had recent success against Stephens, but it all came before Future Sloane finally became a reality last summer.

So the Romanian will have to slay another dragon -- a third straight former slam champ -- to reach her personal mountain top. All right, then... let's go.

...the first champions of this RG were crowned in the mixed doubles final, as Latisha Can & Ivan Dodig defeated Gaby Dabrowski (the defending champ) and Mate Pavic 6-1/6-7(5)/10-8 to deny the Canadian/Croat pair a second 2018 MX title. It's Chan's second slam title in nine months, having won the U.S. Open WD with Martina Hingis last summer, and takes a little of the sting away from her losing her doubles #1 ranking on Monday after struggling to find good post-Hingis doubles partnership through the first half of 2018.

...the junior semifinals are set. We're assured on an unseeded finalist, and the possibility of another all-Bannerette final is still in play. It'd be the second straight RG where it's happened after a 37-year stretch without an all-U.S. girls final, and the fourth such occurrence in the last five slams after it hadn't happened in 25 years until the Osuigwe/Liu face-off last year in Paris.

[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

The U.S.'s Caty McNally continued her stunning run at this tournament, getting her third win over a seed with a victory over #8 Wang Xiyu today. She'll face her RG doubles partner (they're in the semis), Iga Swiatek, who defeated #10 Yuki Naito for *her* third seeded win in Paris.

#16-seeded Bannerette Coco Gauff, the same 14-year who went all the way to the U.S. Open girls final last summer, defeated #6-seed Eleonora Molinaro, ending the 19-match winning streak of the 17-year old from Luxembourg. Molinaro & Clara Tauson, the #1-seeded doubles duo, advanced to the GD semis in the final match to be completed on Thursday. Meanwhile, Canada's #15-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez eliminated Taiwan's Joanna Garland to set up an all-North American final four clash.

...the wheelchair action finally began on Day 12 in Paris, and the march toward another Yui Kamiji/Diede de Groot slam final is one round closer. The #1-seeded Kamiji allowed just three games to Pastry wild card Charlotte Famin, while #2 de Groot took down countrywoman Marjolein Buis 2 & 0.

Japan's Kamiji, the defending RG champ, will next get Aniek van Koot in the semis, while de Groot, looking to win her second slam of '17 and her third singles crown in the last four majors, will face Sabine Ellerbrock (the 42-year old German won the RG title in '13, and reached the final the last two years).

The Dutch women just won the WC World Cup a few days ago...

...DISLIKE ON DAY 12: Come on, what kind of person wants to screw with Delpo of all people?

...LIKE ON DAY 12: Getting the last word...

...NOTE TO DASHA ON DAY 12: See, this is what can happen if you allow a champion a night to think about things...

...LIKE ON DAY 12: 31-5 in 2018, by the way.

...MEANWHILE ON DAY 12: Ms.Broady has arrived.

...LIKE ON DAY 12: That Svitolina pick is workin' out pretty well *so* far, huh? Shhhhhh.

[wink, wink]

...and, finally... One.More.Win.

(Crossing fingers.)

#1 Simona Halep/ROU vs. #10 Sloane Stephens/USA

Hozumi/Ninomiya (JPN/JPN) vs. #8 A.Chan/Yang Zhaoxuan (TPE/CHN)
#6 Krejcikova/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) vs. #2 S.-Hlavackova/Strycova (CZE/CZE)

#2 L.Chan/Dodig (TPE/CRO) def. #1 Dabrowski/Pavic (CAN/CRO) 6-1/6-7(5) [10-8]

Caty McNally/USA vs. Iga Swiatek/POL
#15 Leylah Annie Fernandez/CAN vs. #16 Coco Gauff/USA

#1 Molinaro/Tauson (LUX/DEN) vs. #3 Natio/Sato (JPN/JPN)
(WC) Belgraver/Bencheikh (FRA/FRA) vs. McNally/Swiatek (USA/POL)

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN vs. Aniek van Koot/NED
Sabine Ellerbrock/GER vs. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

#1 Kamiji/Buis (JPN/NED) vs. Ellerbrock/Kruger (GER/RSA)
Famin/Montjane (FRA/RSA) vs. #2 de Groot/van Koot (NED/NED

My granny been waiting for me wayyyyyy too long ??????????????????

A post shared by Elina Svitolina???? (@elisvitolina) on

2007 Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (RU)
2008 Simona Halep, ROU (W) & Elena Bogdan, ROU (RU)
2009 Daria Gavrilova, RUS (RU)
2010 Elina Svitolina, UKR (W)
2011 Monica Puig, PUR (RU)
2012 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK (RU)
2013 Belinda Bencic, SUI (W)
2014 Daria Kasatkina, RUS (W)
2015 Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP (W)
2016 Rebeka Masarova, SUI (W)
2017 Whitney Osuigwe, USA (W) and Claire Liu, USA (RU)
2018 Caty McNally, USA and Leylah Annie Fernandez, CAN

29...Serena Williams (23-6)
16...Venus Williams (7-9)
10...Maria Sharapova (5-5)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2-2)
4...Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
4...SIMONA HALEP (0-3)
3...Angelique Kerber (2-1)
3...Garbine Muguruza (2-1)
3...Caroline Wozniacki (1-2)

15 - Serena Williams (12-3)
6 - Maria Sharapova (2-4)
4 - Victoria Azarenka (2-2)
4 - Li Na (2-2)-ret.
4 - SIMONA HALEP (0-3)
3 - Garbine Muguruza (2-1)
3 - Angelique Kerber (2-1)
2 - Kim Clijsters (2-0)-ret.
2 - Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2 - Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
2 - Samantha Stosur (1-1)
2 - Caroline Wozniacki (1-1)
2 - Venus Williams (0-2)
2 - Vera Zvonareva (0-2)

*RG FINALS - active*
4...Serena Williams (3-1)
3...Maria Sharapova (2-1)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
3...SIMONA HALEP (0-2)
1...Garbine Muguruza (1-0)
1...Alona Ostapenko (1-0)
1...Sara Errani (0-1)
1...Lucie Safarova (0-1)
1...Samantha Stosur (0-1)
1...Venus Williams (0-1)

4...Roger Federer (2006,2007,2008,2011)
3...Jaroslav Drobny (1946,1948,1950)
3...Guillermo Vilas (1975,1978,1982)
3...Novak Djokovic (2012,2014,2015)
4...Martina Navratilova (1975,1985,1986,1987)
3...Steffi Graf (1989,1990,1992)
3...Arantxa Sanchez (1991,1995,1996)
2...Kim Clijsters (2001,2003)
2...Chris Evert (1973,1984)
2...Ann Jones (1968,1969 + 1963 pre-Open)
2...SIMONA HALEP (2014,2017)
2...Martina Hingis (1997,1999)
2...Mima Jausovec (1978,1983)
2...Mary Pierce (1999,2005)
2...Dinara Safina (2008,2009)

1977 Roland Garros - Florenta Mihai (L)
1978 Roland Garros - Virginia Ruzici (W)
1980 Roland Garros - Virginia Ruzici (L)
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep (L)
2017 Roland Garros - Simona Halep (L)
2018 Australian Open - Simona Halep (L)
2018 Roland Garros - Simona Halep

4 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (4-0)
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL (3-0)
3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-0)
2 - Timea Babos, HUN (1-1)
2 - Kiki Bertens, NED (1-1)
2 - Julia Goerges, GER (1-1)
2 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (1-1)
2 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1-1)
2 - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (0-2)
2 - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK (0-2)
2 - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (0-2)

6 (5 wins) CZE
6 (1 wins) ROU [Halep]
5 (4 wins) UKR
4 (4 wins) BEL
4 (1 wins) USA [Stephens]
3 (2 wins) GER
3 (1 wins) ESP,RUS,SVK
2 (1 wins) DEN,FRA,HUN,NED
2 (0 wins) AUS,BLR
1 (1 wins) JPN,SWE
1 (0 wins) LAT,SLO,SUI

*WTA FINALS - 2015-18*
17 - SIMONA HALEP (8-8)
15 - Angelique Kerber (8-7)
15 - Caroline Wozniacki (6-9)
14 - Karolina Pliskova (7-7)
12 - Petra Kvitova (10-2)
12 - Elina Svitolina (10-2)
11 - Serena Williams (8-3)
10 - Dominika Cibulkova (4-6)
8 - Aga Radwanska (6-2)
8 - Garbine Muguruza (5-3)
8 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (5-3)
8 - Venus Williams (4-4)
8 - Julia Goerges (3-5)
8 - Kristina Mladenovic (1-7)
7 - Timea Babos (2-5)

[Open Era]
1971 Evonne Goolagong, AUS
1974 Chris Evert, USA
1976 Sue Barker, GBR
1977 Mima Jausovec, SLO
1978 Virginia Ruzici, ROU
1987 Steffi Graf, GER
1989 Arantxa Sanchez, ESP
1990 Monica Seles, YUG
1997 Iva Majoli, CRO
2003 Justine Henin, BEL
2004 Anastasia Myskina, RUS
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Li Na, CHN
2016 Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 Alona Ostapenko, LAT
NOTE: Ann Haydon-Jones won first career slam at '61 Roland Garros, before Open era began in '68

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
2018 Australian Open - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
NOTE: 6 first-timers in last ten slams

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)
AO: Madison Keys (QF)
RG: Sloane Stephens

49 - Flavia Pennetta (2015 U.S. Open)
47 - Marion Bartoli (2013 Wimbledon)
45 - Jana Novotna (1998 Wimbledon)
43 - Caroline Wozniacki (2018 Australian Open)
39 - Francesca Schiavone (2010 Roland Garros)
34 - Samantha Stosur (2011 U.S. Open)
33 - Angelique Kerber (2016 Australian Open)
31 - Amelie Mauresmo (2006 Australian Open)
29 - Jennifer Capriati (2001 Australian Open)
28 - Kerry Melville-Reid (1978 Australian Open)
26 - Lindsay Davenport (1998 U.S. Open)
25 - Victoria Azarenka (2012 Australian Open)
23 - Sloane Stephens (2017 U.S. Open)
22 - Kim Clijsters (2005 U.S. Open)
NOTE: Halep in 32nd

*SLAM MX TITLES - active*
5...Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
3...Sania Mirza, IND
3...Samantha Stosur, AUS
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Gaby Dabrowski, CAN
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...Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova, CZE
1...Lucie Hradecka, CZE
1...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
1...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
1...Laura Siegemund, GER
1...Abigail Spears, USA
1...Elena Vesnina, RUS
1...Heather Watson, GBR

TOP QUALIFIER: Francesca Schiavone/ITA
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #4 Elina Svitolina/UKR (def. Tomljanovic/Kuzmova in straights)
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #3 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU def. Tamara Korpatsch/GER 6-1/5-7/7-6(7) (from MP down and 5-2 in the 3rd for final qualifying berth)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd.: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU def. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK 6-4/5-7/9-7 (Begu served for match at 5-3 3rd; AKS saved triple MP at 8-7; Begu converts MP #4 for 3:19 win, denying AKS first slam MD victory since 2015)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Round: #10 Sloane Stephens/USA def. Camila Giorgi 4-6/6-1/8-6 (Giorgi served for the match twice at 5-4 and 6-5 in 3rd)
FIRST VICTORY: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS (def. Zheng Saisai/CHN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #9 Venus Williams/USA (1st Rd/lost to Wang Qiang/CHN)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Latvia (0-2; first slam both DC/#5 Ostapenko and #20 Sevastova out 1st Round after ten consecutive; only second time happened since both first in same slam draw at '16 AO; also combined 0-3 in WD/MX, as well)
LAST QUALIFIERS STANDING: Dolehide/USA, Dulgheru/ROU, Duque-Marino/COL, Frech/POL, Garcia-Perez/ESP, Peterson/SWE (all 2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Pauline Parmentier/FRA (3rd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Caroline Garcia (4th Rd.)
MADEMOISELLE/MADAM OPPORTUNITY: Nominees: Halep, Stephens, de Groot (WC), Gauff (jr.)
IT "NextGen Hordette": Dasha Kasatkina/RUS
CRASH & BURN: #5 Alona Ostapenko/LAT (defending champ; lost 1st Rd. to #66 Kozlova; first RG DC out 1st Rd. since '05)
ZOMBIE QUEEN OF PARIS: Yulia Putintseva/KAZ (3rd Rd.: down 6-1/4-1 & 2 MP, 3-0 in 3rd, vs. Wang Qiang; reaches second career slam QF)
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Dabrowski, L.Chan and A.Chan, Siniakova/Strycova, Hozumi/Ninomiya
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominees: L.Chan, Hlavackova/Strycova
JUNIOR BREAKOUTS: Caty McNally/USA and Leylah Annie Fernandez/CAN
Légion de Lenglen HONOREE: Serena Williams/USA (The Catsuit/Bodysuit II)
Coupe LA PETIT TAUREAU: Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU [on LPT Day/June 1, #31 seed upset #4-seed, and one-time Henin pupil, Svitolina to record her first career Top 5 win and reach maiden slam Rd. of 16 -- she had zero slam MD win before this RG]

All for Day 12. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Day-10- The amount of times in the last 11 years that someone has reached 3 or more slams in a 5 slam period.

This is sort of a good omen for Halep, as Safina is the only one on the list without a title.

2007-08 Ivanovic 1-2
2008-09 Safina 0-3
2008-09 Serena 3-1
2011-12 Serena 2-1
2011-12 Sharapova 1-2
2012-13 Azarenka 2-1
2014-15 Serena 4-0
2016-16 Kerber 2-1
2016-17 Serena 2-2
2017-18 Halep 0-2 + ?

Serena has a habit of reaching 4 out of 5, including her Serena Slam. Azarenka reached the finals of the same slams in consecutive years, so 2-1 if 2012 AO, USO, 2013 AO, 1-2 if 2012 USO, 2013 AO, 2013 USO.

The other statistical thing in Halep's favor? 11 times in the Open Era, there have been players that have reached 3 or more French Open finals. All of them have at least one title.

Stephens' oddity is that she may have 2 slam titles, plus Miami, and not be number 1. Win or lose, she will be #4. But Clijsters did a similar thing, winning Miami in 2010, followed by the US Open, and 2011 Australian. Then became #1 in February 2011.

So who is winning this match? Halep is a slight favorite, due to the head to head. But Stephens has a chance to make this like the Osaka match, and keep her pinned to the baseline.

On the other hand, one of Halep's strengths is defending the crosscourt shot. If she is willing to get inside the baseline and shorten the points, she should be able to dictate, even if she gets passed a time or two.

Halep in two, maybe with a first set tiebreak.

Fri Jun 08, 09:06:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Seahawks, Sonics, Capitals. Wait, That Washington won a title? First this century! Enjoy!

Fri Jun 08, 09:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Haha! It's been a while.

If the Caps can travel through the muck and finally win a first championship, I know a certain Romanian shouldn't worry about getting her turn at some point. Maybe soon. ;)

Fri Jun 08, 10:00:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Off-topic, but I finally read that Sistine Chapel piece. That photo of Justine may be my favorite of any photo of her I’ve ever seen.

Fri Jun 08, 12:41:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home