Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Triumph of the Resilient Romanian

Finally, it was Simona's time.

Over the sport's history, tennis has routinely produced players whose career journeys have resembled the path of the legendary daredevils who would get themselves shot out of a cannon. They fly far, fast and so suddenly that not only is everyone else stunned by their precocious accomplishments but, sometimes, so are they. A few of those players even come to *expect* such success, having never known anything else. Imagine that. We know it's true. We've seen it happen quite often, in fact. Some handle the celebration of *them* with aplomb, while others don't. But having blown through a door without ever really having been faced with being "locked out" of anything, they're presented with the early present of quite possibly being able to avoid the sort of dark passages where personal doubt can so easily lurk, and consume their already-attained dreams.

Simona Halep was most definitely not one of those players.

Some players, on the other hand, are made to wait. To work. To slog. To climb. To crash. To get back up again. To get knocked down once more. Some of those sort of players, in the end, never fulfill their greatest dreams and/or expected "destiny." But those that do are bestowed not only with the honor of lifting a grand slam trophy, but they're also rewarded with the even more significant, well-earned knowledge about just how hard it is to do it. Or to even get the chance. Once, twice, thrice or, for some, four times or more. But no matter how many chances that sort of player may get, *nothing* is assured. Nothing is going to simply be *given.* They know it. They've lived it. And so they go back to work.

Being made to live with such a harsh reality, though it may not be a fatal condition, over time becomes a load to bear that can become heavier and heavier. Some collapse under the weight of it all. After having been stopped just short of their career goal on multiple occasions, a cruel, frustrating and often heartless pattern which sometimes plays out for years at their expense, some may lose the will and stomach necessary to continue the fight. They may secretly begin to fear the opportunity they once strove for, not wanting to suffer the same fate yet again. Eventually, they could even cease being angry or frustrated when they come up short. It spares them the (even greater) pain that may have awaited them around the next corner.

Simona Halep was most definitely not one of those players, either.

Still others choose to muster the resiliency to pick themselves up again, put on a brave face in order to cope with the familiar pain, and then begin the process all over again, hoping for a different result the *next* time, or maybe the *next*, and if not then, then quite possibly the *next* time after that, whenever (or if) it might come. Thus, if the moment of action should some day arrive, the simple act of finally raising one's arms in triumph is not only one of elation, but also relief. Near incredulity, even. But also, finally, and most importantly, satisfaction.

Simona Halep became one of *those* players today in Paris.

Playing in her fourth career slam final, and third at Roland Garros since 2014, #1-ranked Halep came into her match against #10-seeded Sloane Stephens with not only her own checkered past -- three three-set losses in finals, a blown set-and-a-break lead a year ago in Paris against Alona Ostapenko, and a warrior-like effort this past January that nonetheless came up one victory short of completion in Melbourne -- but also the hopes and dreams of an entire nation on her mind. Perhaps no player has a more extensive (and boisterous, to say the least) traveling band of countrymen & women in her corner than Halep, likely the greatest player that Romania has ever produced, but her desire to achieve her own dream *and* make her nation proud was still missing the legacy-defining major title run that would end the country's 40-year slam drought. The last Romanian to be crowned a slam champ was Virginia Ruzici, Halep's mentor and manager, who won in Paris in 1978. Halep's junior title run in Paris a decade ago had made Roland Garros her most favored event, and her idolization of four-time RG winner Justine Henin (the two crossed paths during the week), as well as her own triumphs and failures on the terre battue in recent years, all have served to inextricably tie the Romanian to this particular slam. To win here would be everything. To lose here again would be, again, another devastating obstacle to overcome.

As it was, Stephens stood in her way. And it would be no easy ask to go around her to claim the title.

The Bannerette has become something of a hybrid of those slam contender archetypes, having achieved early success in her career (an AO semi in '13) before experiencing an extended downturn (multiple seasons ranked in the #30's), a comeback (winning her first title in '15, and finding the seemingly "perfect match" in coach Kamau Murray), then a broken foot that kept her out of the game for eleven months. Her time away allowed her to reassess her efforts, and when she returned last June (ranked #957) she seemed to no longer be held back by doubt, or any sort of fear that her best might not be enough. The player who missed last year's RG, attending a wedding in Ireland during the first week as she prepared to return to action during the grass season, rose on the summer circuit quite possibly like no player, well, ever. Stephens regained her form in leaps and bounds, displaying an unusual calm under pressure that ultimately led to her concluding the North American hard court season by winning the U.S. Open. After finding her way through a long post-Open title losing streak that extended into 2018, Stephens has once again in recent outings resembled the "Future Sloane" version of herself that often has the ability to expertly control, in "Boss"-like fashion, her fate between the lines while seeming to barely bat an eyelash. Her "know-how" fully returned in time for a Miami title run in March which improved her career record in finals to 6-0.

After having survived Italian Camila Giorgi twice serving for the match against her in the 3rd Round in Paris, Stephens came into her second final in the last three majors looking to impose her will on Halep. Halep had won their only previous clay court meeting in 2015, but *this* Stephens was one improved by her experiences, while the Romanian was looking to not repeat some of her own.

Halep walked onto Court Chatrier to the familar "Si-mo-na!" chants that follow her around the world. It wouldn't be the last time she'd hear them on this day, either. Thankfully, for her, she had a "long game" plan that would eventually work in her favor.

Halep wasn't ready to burst out of the gate against Stephens as she had in the semis against Garbine Muguruza, though. She opened the match with three consecutive errors. Stephens' crosscourt backhand winner held for a 1-0 lead. The 1st set would proceed with a distinct pattern of results. Halep could chase down Stephens' more powerful groundstrokes, while Sloane's anticipation and pre-shot maneuvers would seemingly have her waiting in just the right spot for a reply. Even while the set was on serve in the opening games, it was apparent that Stephens was winning the hitting battle between the two because she had more power to work with, as well as a bit more in reserve.

Halep held for 1-1 on a 26-shot really before Stephens finally committed an error. Two games later, Stephens moved the Romanian side to side on the baseline before eliciting an error that got her the break for a 3-1 lead. In game #5, while Halep managed to fight off several huge Stephens forehands into the corner, her netted forehand ended that rally, then another ended the game as Sloane led 4-1. In the closing games of the set, Halep began her first attempts to go away from her hard, flat shots and changed up the pace, putting more air under many of her balls. The tactic produced a Stephens error and a 15/30 lead in game #7. But a backhand return error gave Stephens a game point, which she put away with a crosscourt forehand to hold for 5-2. But the tactics that led to the brief opening were ones Halep would get back to later.

By the time Stephens served at 5-3, Halep hadn't been able to make any significant dent in Sloane's unaffected suit of armor. The thought crossed one's mind that maybe Halep's continued act of hitting out might be part of a "long game" plan that included forcing Stephens into longer rallies now, albeit ones the Romanian would likely lose, in order to possibly tire her out later if she could force things to a 3rd set. But time was running out when it came to competing for the 1st. Stephens' big serve and forehand combination gave her a 30/15 lead, but Halep remained relentless in her defense, extending points for as many additional shots as possible. A Stephens error made it 30/30. Halep came in off a short backhand reply, pulling off a drop shot that got her her first break point of the day (and only the 13th Stephens had faced in nearly seven full matches in Paris). But Halep's backhand error, then Stephens' body serve that she had to get out of the way of in order to even get a racket on, handed Sloane a set point. Halep missed a backhand and Stephens took the 1st by a 6-3 score.

The 2nd set began with Stephens again controlling the action. Halep saved three BP in game #1, but when both chased balls close to the net Stephens pushed a shot back too high for Halep to return, getting the opening game break of serve. Soon after, down 2-0, Halep held serve to stay within contact on the scoreboard. Still, Stephens led by a set and a break, the same position Halep had *herself* been in during last year's final against Ostapenko.

And just as that final turned, so did this one.

Stephens' double-fault (just her third at this RG) to fall down love/30 was her first lapse of the match. Down love/40, she missed on her previously lethal forehand and Halep got the break to pull even at 2-2. The Romanian reeled off nine straight points, holding at love with a wide Stephens return, then broke Stephens as she netted another forehand, winning her fourth straight game. Stephens snapped out of it just in time, rediscovering her big forehand stroke. She fired a down the line winner to go up love/40, then got the break to pull within 4-3 on a Halep error. Sloane ran off seven straight points of her own, firing her first ace and winning a baseline rally reminiscent of those in the 1st set, when Halep showed great defense but often then missed a routine shot.

Needing a hold, Halep got it to keep one step ahead at 5-4, as she became more dedicated to taking pace off her shots rather than trying to hit with Stephens. The tactic seemed to interfere with Stephens' flow, and she'd later scold herself for not recognizing the need to adjust her own game to Halep's course change. Instead, she was occasionally off-balance, and tried to go for too much on the slower shots, all leading to an increase in errors. Halep took a 15/30 lead in game #10 as Stephens missed on a forehand down the line while rushing to try to keep ahead of the scrambling Romanian. Another Stephens error gave Halep a SP. From the Chatrier stands, chants of "Si-mo-na!" welled up. Stephens sprayed a backhand wide and Halep took the 2nd 6-4 to even the match and head into her fourth 3rd set in four slam finals.

Whether it was in the original gameplan or not, Halep's "long game" proved to have legs in the 3rd, as when she upped the level of her performance once more Stephens was not able to respond quickly enough to keep up. The Romanian held in game #1 from love/30 down, then got the break for a 2-0 lead with back-to-back Stephens errors after she'd used a forehand put-away shot to level the game at 30-all. Halep saw her 30/love lead slip away a game later, but she held firm, firing shots from the baseline and winning another rally when Stephens netted a backhand. Halep took a 3-0 lead, just a hair off the 3-1 edge she'd held in the 3rd (and squandered) vs. Ostapenko a year ago... as Halep's past continued to nip at her heels even as she surged toward the match's finish line.

Halep's backhand return error gave Stephens a GP in game #4, which she then saved with a series of defensive gets and a backhand angled out of Stephens' reach. Still more insane defense from the Romanian, and a shot off the net cord that Stephens could only swat her racket at, gave Halep a BP. With her "holy grail" now fully within sight, Halep absorbed Sloane's power shots, then raced to get a drop shot and put away a high backhand to get the break for a 4-0 bulge on the scoreboard.

After having promised after her semifinal win to "stay chill," Halep backed up her words down the final stretch. Rather than press and possibly allow her lead to slowly slip away, she simply remained centered, displaying an uncharacteristic calm as she let the (hopefully) inevitable happen. She took a 30/love lead in game #5, and held for 5-0. Up love/30 on Stephens' serve a game later, she got no closer as Sloane finally held serve for the first time in the 3rd set. But rather than beat herself up over seeing the closure of a *small* opening to end things there, she went back to work. Halep fired an ace (her first in the match) to take a 30/15 lead, then completed a smash at the net to reach match point.

In the end, there was no drama. In fact, the finish was quick. Stephens netted a forehand return shot and, just like that, Halep's career-long series of grand slam nightmares and neverending near-misses was over. Her 3-6/6-4/6-1 victory lifted the burden of the hopes of millions of her fellow Romanians from her shoulders, and cleared away the remaining cobwebs, scar tissue and scratchy feelings at the base of her own soul. She'd done it. Finally, she was the Roland Garros champion. The relief on her face was soon replaced by a brief version of disbelief, then satisfaction over her hard-earned accomplishment.

Stephens crossed around the net post to meet Halep on her side of the net to offer congratulations. Though her own journey was different, it's familiar enough that she knows the footsteps that Halep now steps in. Though this is her first lost in seven tour-level finals, Stephens is now the highest-ranked U.S. woman. The Future (Sloane) is still now, she just wasn't today.

Meanwhile, Halep is the first Romanian slam champ in forty years, the third straight maiden slam winner at Roland Garros, and the seventh first-time major champ in the last eleven slams. She also gets a much-needed "1" added to her name on a whole bunch of lists, and does *not* join Kim Clijsters as the only women to start a career by losing her first four slam finals.

The usual climb into the stands followed, as Halep shared the moment with her family and tennis team, including coach Darren Cahill, whose pushing and prodding attempts to lighten Halep's mental load in order to allow her to focus and let her talent lead the way have proved to have been a good match to the Romanian with a perfectionist streak nearly as lethal as her will and desire are unending.

Calling Paris her "special city," Halep would soon raise the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen overhead (after Stephens directed her during a little sideline coaching stint during the ceremony), officially lifting whatever cloud hovered over her career, securing a place in the hearts of all who saw her quest play out over the past few years, and settling into the warm cradle of tennis history.

As the Romanian anthem played on Chatrier court, Halep rested her cheek on the trophy's lid, as it was evident that the memories of her entire tennis journey flashed through her mind. Through still more chants of "Si-mo-na!" during the ceremony, her 32 slam appearances, four finals, heartbreak, anger, injury, blood, sweat, tears and disappointment were now joined by a recollection of "triumph." It makes all the difference. All the "bad" moments were now mere stepping stones to *this* one.

In her interview with NBC's Mary Carillo's after the match, Halep admitted that when she was a little girl she "didn't have the courage to dream" of lifting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. But courage isn't something that the Romanian lacks these days.

Nearly seven months after the death of Jana Novotna, on the very day that the Czech was honored in a ceremony at Roland Garros, Halep can now be listed alongside the late Hall of Famer, who in so many ways is her "historical doppelganger", as a player once hounded by near-miss efforts in slams until finally overcoming and re-writing her career legacy with a single victory.

As much as it's overdue, more than anything else, it just feels right.

While slam runs such as that of Ostapenko in Paris a year ago are glorious things to behold, they also something of a brilliant "one-off." Watching Latvian Thunder rise, even at the expense of Halep, was dramatic and exhilarating. Intoxicating, really. But is there anything better than seeing the completion of a journey such as Halep's? There's just something about a player having to traverse a rocky terrain en route to her triumphant moment that makes it special in a wholly different, longer-lasting, and moving way. Halep said before this final that "no one died" when she lost her first three slam finals, so she'd surely survive if she lost a fourth.

But she didn't. Instead, "Simonativity" truly lived in Paris today.

The Cliffs of Simona will never be quite so trecherous again. Thank goodness.

...the latest Bannerette junior slam champ was crowned just before the start of the women's final, with #16-seeded Coco Gauff outlasting Caty McNally in a 1-6/6-3/7-6(1) final. The 14-year old is the fourth different U.S. girl to win a slam since Whitney Osuigwe began the recent run (four of five slams have featured all-Bannerette finals) with her win last year in Paris. Gauff ended today's match by covering consecutive McNally shots at the net, looking like a snapshot of a long-limbed Venus Williams at Wimbledon at the peak of her career, until finally taking the title with a point-ending volley.

Roland Garros has a history of super-young junior champs. All three of the players who won RG girls crowns at a younger age than Gauff did today went on to win women's slams and were inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame.

McNally came back later in the day and won the girls doubles title along with Poland's Iga Swiatek, defeating Japan's Yuki Naito & Naho Sato 6-2/7-5. McNally is the first U.S. girls doubles champ in Paris since Sloane Stephens in 2010, while Swiatek is the first Pole since Ula Radwanska in 2007.

...Yui Kamiji is still the #1-ranked wheelchair player in the world. She successfully defended her RG singles crown with a 2-6/6-0/6-2 win today in the final over #2 Diede de Groot. It's her sixth career slam singles crown, and third in Paris the last five years.

The two returned later on Saturday to contest the doubles title. de Groot managed to not go home empty-handed, joining with fellow Dutch player Aniek van Koot to defeat '17 champs Kamiji & Marjolein Buis 6-1/6-3.

2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 RG - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 WI - Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED
2018 AO - #2 Diede de Groot/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2018 RG - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

...I couldn't find much about the ceremony that honored Jana Novotna today (plus, it was entirely in French)...

But I figure that it came off pretty well considering what happened later in the afternoon.

Resilient tennis spirits have to stick together, after all.

Hopefully, Wimbledon will give her a larger showcase, at a time when more people will be able to experience it than occurred today, considering her career left behind quite large footprint at the AELTC. They might even want to consider doing something similar to what the Luxembourg tournament has in order to honor her memory...

At any rate, I'll begin choosing an honoree in her name in the awards section for *this* space starting at this year's Wimbledon.



This is how we roll. ?? • • • ??: Amélie Laurin / FFT #RG18

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

...Well... ON DAY 14: During NBC's coverage of the final, while running down the series of notable women's slam champions of late (Garbi, Sloane, Caro and now Simona), Mary Carillo said, "Women's tennis has become so interesting."


I'm just sayin'.

...LIKE ON DAY 14: Reverse-jinxies-dipsy-do predictions that actually work out for everyone in the end.

(wink, wink)

...LIKE ON DAY 14: From "Si-mo-na!" to "O-vie!"

...LIKE ON DAY 14: When this...

Becomes this...

...LIKE ON DAY 14: Sometimes you need the nudge...

...LIKE ON DAY 14: That special moment...

...and, finally... to destinies achieved...

And shared...

We should have seen this coming. After all, Simona *was* given the magic touch earlier this week...

Yep, (almost) all roads ultimately lead back to LPT.

#1 Simona Halep/ROU def. #10 Sloane Stephens/USA 3-6/6-4/6-1

Hozumi/Ninomiya (JPN/JPN) vs. #6 Krejcikova/Siniakova (CZE/CZE)

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

#16 Coco Gauff/USA def. Caty McNally/USA 1-6/6-3/7-6(1)

McNally/Swiatek (USA/POL) def. #3 Natio/Sato (JPN/JPN) 6-2/7-5

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED 2-6/6-0/6-2

#2 de Groot/van Koot (NED/NED) def. #1 Kamiji/Buis (JPN/NED) 6-1/6-3

*RG WOMEN'S FINALS - since 2008*
2008 Ana Ivanovic/SRB d. Dinara Safina/RUS 6-4,6-3
2009 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS d. Dinara Safina/RUS 6-4,6-2
2010 Francesca Schiavone/ITA d. Samantha Stosur/AUS 6-4,7-6
2011 Li Na/CHN d. Francesca Schiavone/ITA 6-4,7-6
2012 Maria Sharapova/RUS d. Sara Errani/ITA 6-3,6-2
2013 Serena Williams/USA d. Maria Sharapova/RUS 6-4,6-4
2014 Maria Sharapova/RUS d. Simona Halep/ROU 6-4,6-7,6-4
2015 Serena Williams/USA d. Lucie Safarova/CZE 6-3,6-7,6-2
2016 Garbine Muguruza/ESP d. Serena Williams/USA 7-5,6-4
2017 Alona Ostapenko/LAT d. Simona Halep/ROU 4-6,6-4,6-3
2018 Simona Halep/ROU d. Slaone Stephens/USA 3-6/6-4/6-1

[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
2018 Simona Halep, ROU
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
2018 Roland Garros - Simona Halep, ROU
NOTE: 7 first-timers in last eleven slams

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)
32 - Amelie Mauresmo (2006 Australian Open)
29 - Jennifer Capriati (2001 Australian Open)

33y,6m,6d - Flavia Pennetta, 2015 U.S. Open
29y,347d - Francesca Schiavone, 2010 Roland Garros
29y,9m,3d - Jana Novotna, 1998 Wimbledon
29y,5m,3d - Kerry Melville-Reid, 1977 Australian Open
29y,3m,9d - Li Na, 2011 Roland Garros
28y,9m,5d - Marion Bartoli, 2013 Wimbledon
28y,13d - Angelique Kerber, 2016 Australian Open
27y,6m,2w - Caroline Wozniacki, 2018 Australian Open
26y,8m,1w - SIMONA HALEP, 2018 Roland Garros
26y,7m - Amelie Mauresmo, 2006 Australian Open
26y,5m,2w - Samantha Stosur, 2011 U.S. Open

0-4 - Kim Clijsters *@
0-3 - Chris Evert *@
0-3 - Mary Joe Fernandez
0-3 - Simona Halep *
0-3 - Jana Novotna *@
0-3 - Dinara Safina
0-3 - Helena Sukova @
0-3 - Wendy Turnbull
*-eventually won slam; @-in HOF

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 (1-3)
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 (1-3)
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)
3...SIMONA HALEP (1-2)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone (1-1)
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)

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

Sue Barker = 1974 Jr. Champion; 1976 Women's Champion
Mima Jausovec = 1973 Jr. Champion; 1977 Women's Champion
Hana Mandlikova = 1978 Jr. Champion; 1981 Women's Champion
Jennifer Capriati = 1989 Jr. Champion; 2001 Women's Champion
Justine Henin = 1997 Jr. Champion; 2003, '05-'07 Women's Champion
Simona Halep = 2008 Jr. Champion; 2018 Women's Champion

[since Azarenka first #1 in January 2012]
2012 Miami - won by Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - won by Marion Bartoli
2014 Australian Open - won by Li Na
2014 Wimbledon - won by Petra Kvitova
2014 Montreal - won by Aga Radwanska
2015 Indian Wells - won by Simona Halep
2015 Madrid - won by Petra Kvitova
2016 Australian Open - won by Angelique Kerber
2018 Indian Wells - won by Naomi Osaka
2018 Roland Garros - won by Simona Halep

2004 Anastasia Myskina, RUS & Elena Dementieva, RUS
2005 Mary Pierce, FRA
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2009 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2010 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2011 Francesca Schiavone, ITA & Li Na, CHN
2012 Samantha Stosur, AUS
2013 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2014 Simona Halep, ROU
2015 Timea Bacsinszky, SUI & Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
2016 Kiki Bertens, NED & Shelby Rogers, USA
2017 Simona Halep, ROU & Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2018 Simona Halep, ROU

2008 Simona Halep/ROU d. Elena Bogdan/ROU
2009 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA d. Dasha Gavrilova/RUS
2010 Elina Svitolina/UKR d. Ons Jabeur/TUN
2011 Ons Jabeur/TUN d. Monica Puig/PUR
2012 Annika Beck/GER d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Antonia Lottner/GER
2014 Dasha Kasatkina/RUS d. Ivana Jorovic/SRB
2015 Paula Badosa/ESP d. Anna Kalinskaya/RUS
2016 Rebeka Masarova/SUI d. Amanda Anisimova/USA
2017 Whitney Osuigwe/USA d. Claire Liu/USA
2018 Coco Gauff/USA d. Caty McNally/USA

[Australian Open]
1989 Kim Kessaris def. Andrea Farley
[Roland Garros]
1980 Kathy Horvath def. Kelly Henry
2017 Whitney Osuigwe def. Claire Liu
2018 Coco Gauff def. Caty McNally
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

1999 Flavia Pennetta & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2000 Maria Jose Martinez (Sanchez) & Anabel Medina (Garrigues), ESP/ESP
2001 Petra Cetkovska & Renata Voracova, CZE/CZE
2002 Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Barbora Strycova, GER/CZE
2003 Marta Fraga & Adriana Gonzales, ESP/ESP
2004 Katerina Bohmova & Michaella Krajicek, CZE/NED
2005 Victoria Azarenka & Agnes Szavay, BLR/HUN
2006 Sharon Fichman & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, CAN/RUS
2007 Ksenia Milevskaya & Urszula Radwanska, BLR/POL
2008 Polona Hercog & Jessica Moore, SLO/AUS
2009 Elena Bogdan & Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, ROU/THA
2010 Timea Babos & Sloane Stephens, HUN/USA
2011 Irina Khromacheva & Maryna Zanevska, RUS/UKR
2012 Dasha Gavrilova & Irina Khromacheva, RUS/RUS
2013 Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2014 Ioana Ducu & Ioana Loredana Rosca, ROU/ROU
2015 Miriam Kolodziejova & Marketa Vondrouosva, CZE/CZE
2016 Paula Arias Manjon & Olga Danilovic, ESP/SRB
2017 Bianca Andreescu & Carson Branstine, CAN/CAN
2018 Caty McNally & Iga Swiatek, USA/POL

2007 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 Esther Vergeer, NED
2009 Esther Vergeer, NED
2010 Esther Vergeer, NED
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 Esther Vergeer, NED
2013 Sabine Ellerbrock, GER
2014 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 Jiske Griffioen, NED
2016 Marjolein Buis, NED
2017 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2018 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2007 Maaike Smit/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2008 Jiske Griffioen/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2009 Korie Homan/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2010 Daniela Di Toro/Aniek van Koot, AUS/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer/Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2012 Marjolein Buis/Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2013 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2014 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2015 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2016 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2017 Yui Kamiji/Margolein Buis, JPN/NED
2018 Diede de Groot/Aniek van Koot, NED/NED

*CAREER WC MAJOR TITLES - slams/Paralympics/Masters YEC*
[Yui Kamiji]
AO S: 2017
AO D: 2014,15,16,18
RG S: 2014,17,18
RG D: 2014,17
WI S: [SF-2017]
WI D: 2014,15,16,17
US S: 2014,17
US D: 2014
PA S: [QF-2012]
PA D: [QF-2012]
MA S: 2013
MA D: 2013,14
[Diede de Groot]
AO S: 2018
AO D: [RU-17,18]
RG S: [RU-18]
RG D: 2018
WI S: 2017
WI D: [RU-17]
US S: [RU-17]
US D: 2017
PA S: [SF/4th Place-2016]
PA D: [RU/Silver-2016]
MA S: 2017
MA D: 2016,17

*WC SLAM SINGLES FINALS - since 2013, post-Vergeer*
10 - YUI KAMIJI, JPN (6-4)
7 - Aniek Van Koot, NED (2-5)(0-1 Para)
6 - Jiske Griffioen, NED (4-2)(1-0 Para)-ret.
6 - Sabine Ellerbrock, GER (2-5)
1 - Marjolein Buis, NED (1-0)
1 - Jordanne Whiley, GBR (1-0)

25 - Esther Vergeer, NED [9-6-0-10]...[14+4]
6 - YUI KAMIJI, JPN [1-3-0-2]...[1+0]*
4 - Jiske Griffioen, NED [2-1-1-0]...[3+1]
3 - Monique Kalkman, NED [0-0-0-3]...[2+1]
2 - Diede de Groot, NED [1-0-1-0]...[1+0]*
2 - Daniela Di Toro, AUS [0-0-0-2]...[0+0]
2 - Sabine Ellerbrock, GER [1-1-0-0]...[0+0]*
2 - Maaike Smit, NED [0-0-0-2]...[1+1]
2 - Chantal Vandierendonck, NED [0-0-0-2]...[1+0]
2 - Aniek van Koot, NED [1-0-0-1]...[1+0]*

21 - Esther Vergeer, NED [7-5-3-6]...[10+3]
14 - Jiske Griffioen, NED [5-3-2-4]...[7+1]
12 - Yui Kamiji, JPN [4-3-4-1]...[2+0]*
11 - ANIEK VAN KOOT, NED [3-4-2-2]...[3+1]*
9 - Jordanne Whiley, GBR [2-2-4-1]...[2+0]*
7 - Sharon Walraven, NED [2-1-2-2]...[2+1]
5 - Korie Homan, NED [1-1-1-2]...[1+1]
5 - Marjolein Buis, NED [2-2-0-1]...[1+1]*
3 - Maaike Smit, NED [2-1-0-0]...[4+2]
2 - DIEDE DE GROOT, NED [0-1-0-1]...[2+0]*
2 - Florence Gravellier, FRA [2-0-0-0]...[0+0]

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 LATE-ROUND (SF-F): #1 Simona Halep/ROU
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)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Girls SF - Caty McNally/USA def. Iga Swiatek/POL 3-6/7-6(6)/6-4 (saved MP)
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.)
IT "NextGen Hordette": Dasha Kasatkina/RUS (first career slam QF)
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 STARS: Nominees: Krejcikova/Siniakova (won RG Jr. GD '13), Hozumi/Ninomiya (to be first all-JPN WD slam champs)
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 14. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

Nicely done, Todd :) What a relief!

Sat Jun 09, 09:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks. ;) With so many first-timers lately, I'm not sure what's left on the to-do li-... oh, wait. I guess I just answered my own question, didn't I?

Looks like the hypothetical about the pressure shifting totally over to Svitolina if Halep were to win a slam is now a full-blown reality.

Sat Jun 09, 11:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Appreciate the wheelchair lists, they get overlooked sometimes.

Krejcikova/Siniakova did it! One thing I had not realized is that Siniakova had not won a doubles title in 3 years. Lost her last 8 finals.

Love the Ruzici/Halep pic.

What all the first timers winning does is put somebody else on the clock. For Wimbledon? Pliskova and Vandeweghe. US Open? Svitolina and Konta. With Keys lurking for both.

Today's stat later.

Sun Jun 10, 10:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

It's underappreciated. Still can't figure out why there aren't more top U.S. players in tennis (Mathewson is the only recent one in the slams, and that was only because she was a late fill-in for Griffioen), considering other WC sports seem to have a lot of participation. The USTA should be getting on that.

Looking forward to Wimbledon's WC competition. I really like watching it on the grass. ;)

(And I guess since I generally pull for de Groot's rise, I suppose I should get behind Kamiji this time as she tries to complete her Career Singles/Doubles Slam.)

Yeah, I considered Pliskova after I noted Svitolina yesterday. But since Karolina has at least reached #1 and a slam final, Svitolina has the most pressure now, I think, because it's easier for people to jump on her for what she hasn't done. (Well, Konta surely has some, but that's probably more because she's a Brit, especially with Murray out for so long.)

Sun Jun 10, 11:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Day-8 -The amount of times an Austrian woman has reached a slam QF.

With Thiem reaching the final, the contrast between the Austrian men and women is noticeable. Same with Argentina, but that is for another time.

Similar to Estonia, well Kanepi, until Kontaveit reaches one, Austria has met their roadblock in the QF. 0-8, and a non starter in Australia, it may be some time before another woman reaches one.

Austria- QF History
Petra Rittner 1994 French
Judith Wiesner 1996 Wimbledon
Judith Wiesner 1996 US Open
Barbara Schwartz 1999 French
Sylvia Plischke 1999 French
Barbara Schett 1999 US Open
Tamira Paszek 2011 Wimbledon
Tamira Paszek 2012 Wimbledon

The oddity? Petra Ritter is on the list, but never made past the 2nd rd in any other slam appearance. The other? That Top 10 player Barbara Paulus is not, having been stopped in the 4th rd 5 times.

Sun Jun 10, 11:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Will Corby said...

Nice post altogether, so happy for Halep breaking through even though she was playing an American I was pulling for her. I especially enjoyed your list on events with Serena Maria and Vika not won by one of the trio. How many events did that cover?

Sun Jun 10, 06:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I'm glad you said something here because it led me to realize that I'd updated that list on one file, but not another, and actually hadn't added this year's Indian Wells (won by Osaka) to the one I used here (it's updated now in the post).

I'd started that list a few years ago, and since all three have been out for various reasons there hasn't been much to update of late, but based on the research I did when I first compiled the information, here are all the events with all three since Azarenka first became #1 in January 2012 (w/ the winners):

AO - Azarenka
Madrid - S.Williams
Rome - Sharapova
RG - Sharapova
WI - S.Williams
Olympics - S.Williams
US - S.Williams
WTA - S.Williams

Brisbane (Sharapova w/d from MD) - S.Williams
AO - Azarenka
Doha - Azarenka
Miami (Azarenka w/d from MD) - S.Williams
Madrid - S.Williams
Rome - S.Williams
RG - S.Williams
Cincinnati - Azarenka

Brisbane - S.Williams
Montreal - A.RADWANSKA

Australian Open - S.Williams
Indian Wells - HALEP
Madrid - KVITOVA
Rome - Sharapova
RG - S.Williams
WI - S.Williams

Australian Open - KERBER



Sun Jun 10, 07:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Will Corby said...

Not as many as I thought but still just 10 of 31 tournaments entered by those three win by someone else. That’s a significant stranglehold on the top.

Sun Jun 10, 11:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

It'll be interesting to see how that may change now. 2-for-2 so far in '18 won by others. It it does, it'll provide an interesting comparison to the previous years.

Mon Jun 11, 11:44:00 AM EDT  

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