Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wk.33- Truth Isn't Truth (but Kiki Bertens really ISN'T just a "clay court specialist" anymore)

What exactly has gotten into Kiki Bertens?

Hmmm... maybe commitment, fitness and aggression?

After all, some combination, in varying amounts ( along with doses of power and/or creativity, depending on the individual), of those three is what has given the foundation (and future) of the Most Interesting Tour its sturdy legs over the past few seasons. Even as the top big-name players of the past decade (or two) have gone through various trials, tribulations and changes that have reminded everyone that nothing lasts forever (not that we ever really thought it could), the recipe for success in the *next* era of WTA tennis has been pretty clear. As more and more players have caught on, each and every week seems to bring a new headshake-worthy plotline to address.

This week in Cincinnati, as she has for the bulk of the season, Bertens expertly showed how a player can change the scope, trajectory and, yes, even perception of an entire career simply by focusing on three those aforementioned things that have become the unofficial "Rosetta Stone" of the present and future of professional tennis. Alone or in combination they can reshape a player's life's work while simultaneously (eventually) conquering an on-court opponent. Any opponent. It can break a career "mold," too. Or, in the Dutch woman's case, something of a self-imposed "glass ceiling."

For years, Bertens, for good reason, has been considered a "clay court specialist." Her best results came on the surface, including her first five tour titles and eight finals. Her best slam was, hardly surprisingly, Roland Garros. She reached the semifinals in 2016. On clay she was feared, especially at Fed Cup time. But elsewhere (maybe even in her own thoughts) she was, well, "beatable."

That has changed. A large reason likely comes down to commitment, fitness and aggression.

Bertens overcame a health scare (a swelling on her neck in '14 led to year's worth of fear-filled sleepless nights) along the way, as well as admitting that the pressures of the sport made playing it anything but "fun." She questioned her future on the court. Eventually, the decision to fully commit to being the player she had the potential to be led her down the path to what has happened this season.

It took a few months for everything to fully "click," but as spring has turned to summer Bertens' reputation has transformed as her results have grown bigger and her victories more grand. When she won a title on the green clay in Charleston in April it wasn't exactly shocking. I mean... clay. But her five Top 20 wins (two Top 10) during the clay season, during which she reached her biggest final in Madrid, was something new. Still, though, it was clay.

Since then, Bertens' new on-court aggression and improved fitness, and a nice "groove" found with coach (since '15) Raemon Sluiter, has brought her success on other surfaces. Big success. She reached the quarterfinals on Wimbledon grass, defeating Top 10ers Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams. Then came the North American hard court season. Pliskova (again) and Petra Kvitova fell in Montreal, obliterating Bertens' career 0-9 record vs. the Top 10 on hard courts. She reached her first Premier HC quarterfinal since 2013.

A week later in Cincinnati, she embraced the change... and grew even stronger wings. Naturally, she soared still higher. Very much so, in fact.

How high?

Well, all she did was record FOUR more Top 10 wins, giving her ten for the year (the most on tour), including victories in EIGHT straight such match-ups (six in a row on HC, after she had zero for her career two weeks ago). Wins over U.S. Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe and Anett Kontaveit were strung together with connective wins in Ohio over #2 Caroline Wozniacki (retired), #7 Elina Svitolina and #6 Kvitova to push Bertens into her first tour-level hard court final. There she faced down a MP in the 2nd set vs. #1 Simona Halep, found the belief within herself to "go for it," increased her aggression and walked off with the biggest title of her career.

Boom. A clay court specialist all-surface contender is officially born.

Not only is the Halep win Bertens' first over a world #1, but her previous win over Wozniacki makes her the second player since 2012 (Muguruza last year in Cincy) to record wins over the top two ranked players in the world in the same event. It's the 36th time it's happened since 1978. Oh, and this is the SECOND title she's won a title this year after having been down MP. Her win in Charleston came after Bertens saved a MP in the semifinals against Madison Keys.

(shakes head and chuckles)

Oh, the Tennis Gods are really just mischievous little scamps sometimes, aren't they?

CINCINNATI, OHIO USA (Premier Mandatory/Hard Court)
S: Kiki Bertens/NED def. Simona Halep/ROU 2-6/7-6(6)/6-2
D: Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova (CZE/RUS) d. Elise Mertens/Demi Schuurs (BEL/NED) 6-2/7-5

...ah, yet ANOTHER story embedded within the Most Interesting Tour's multi-headed plot as we get closer to New York City. Bertens will now *have* to be included in the discussion.

Notching wins over the current world #1, three-title and slam winner (Halep), the recent world #1 and current #2, two-title and slam winner (Wozniacki), a five-time '18 champ (Kvitova) and a three-time trophy lifter (Svitolina) all IN THE SAME WEEK tends to elevate a player's name when it comes to the list of big title contenders. I'm just sayin'.

RISER: Simona Halep/ROU
...all right, truth be told, I'd prepared to open this week's post with a "Church of Simona" sermon that would end with the entire congregation chanting "Si-mo-na!" in unison. But, of course, it was incumbent upon Miss Halep to win the title in Cincinnati for it to be included here. She got close, holding a MP in the 2nd set vs. Bertens before finally hitting the physical/emotional/psychological wall following the disappointment of *not* finally winning her first title at the event (this was her third final in the last four years), as well as becoming the first woman since 1973 (Evonne Goolagong) to sweep the Rogers Cup and Cincy crowns -- the first *ever* to do so in back-to-back weeks.

Hopefully, Halep will have time to fully recuperate in time for a U.S. Open run, for her performances the past two weeks show her to be in top form, physically and mentally, for maybe her best NYC result. She reached the SF in '15, followed up with a QF in '16, then was the unlucky loser in last year's 1st Round encounter with Maria Sharapova (aka the match that almost *has* to have injected a large dose of crazy into the chunk of the tennis establishment that now wishes to junk the 32-seed system next year in favor of a 16-seed set-up that would allow for more headline-grabbing, though draw-damaging, early round match-ups such as that one).

After her ultra-physical title run in Montreal, it wouldn't have been a shock to see an early "injury-related" exit in Cincinnati, but give Halep much credit. She gave it her all. All week. Overcoming deficits (3-0 down vs. Ajla Tomljanovic in the 3rd in the 2nd Rd.), rain delays, heat, at least one ticking-timebomb-of-an-opponent-who-is-going-to-explode-on-someone(s)-in-a-major-very-soon, and threatening exhaustion to reach the final. She added a second win in two weeks over Ash Barty to victories over Lesia Tsurenko and Aryna Sabalenka (staving off a hella challenge from the 20-year old to try to force a third set in the SF) to reach her tour-leading sixth final of '18. Against Bertens in the final, Halep saved a SP in the 2nd and reached MP at 6-5 in the TB. All seemed well, but the Dutch woman responded by upping her game and took the TB 8-6. Halep couldn't fight off both Bertens and a dose of frustration in the 3rd.

But, even down 4-1 in the final set, she was able to pull off this...

Halep she enters the Open flying *almost* as high as anyone ever has. If she'd won, it'd been very easy to make some La Petit Taureau '03 comparisons, both in stats and mindset. 28-4 on hard courts this season, she's won 9 of her last 10 matches, and 18 of 20. The Montreal/Cincy turn was her third run of consecutive finals this season, after Shenzhen/AO and Rome/RG.

But, alas, the visit to the Church of Simona will have to wait. Well, I guess I *can* reveal our official flag (which includes the Simonian crest in a prominent center position, of course)...


SURPRISE: Lizette Cabrera/AUS New Haven, Tennis Australia conducted the organization's annual (well, for the last few years) eight-player U.S. Open Wild Card Playoff tournament for the final WC berth into the MD at Flushing Meadows. 20-year old Cabrera, whose only two previous slam MD appearances came at the Australian Open (as a WC the last two years), claimed the honors, opening with a three-set win over Kimberly Birrell, then defeating Abbie Myers in straights in the semis. In the final vs. Ellen Perez (Univ. of Georgia), who won the PO in '16, Cabrera grabbed the victory via another straight sets triumph.

By the way, that's Cabrera in the upper right corner (the "Greg Brady position," I guess).


VETERAN: Lesia Tsurenko/UKR
...the 29-year old Ukrainian has often been at her best on North American hard courts. Earlier this year Tsurenko successfully defended her Monterrey title ("Sombrerenko!) in Mexico. Already with an 8-4 mark on hard courts on the continent in '18, she added three more impressive wins this past week in Cincinnati. After opening with a win over Danielle Collins (herself performing a step above on N.A. HC this year), she knocked off defending Cincy champ Garbine Muguruza in three sets, coming back from a 4-1 final set deficit to end her eleven-match losing streak vs. Top 10 players, recording her first since 2015 as the Spaniard's 43 UE's foretold her doom in her summer hard court debut. A victory over Ekaterina Makarova preceded an eventual defeat at the hands of Simona Halep in the quarterfinals. Tsurenko will jump nine spots to #35 on Monday.
COMEBACK: Madison Keys/USA's almost been a year since Keys' run to the U.S. Open final, and she's still searching for the sort of consistency *and* health combo that will make such results expected rather than *just* a hint of the promise she's had for so long.

Ugly tennis face ft sweat - but got the job done ??

A post shared by Madison Keys (@madisonkeys) on

Keys has had some superior results this season, from a semi in Charleston to the QF in Melbourne and semis at Roland Garros. But two weeks after pulling out of San Jose (she was the DC) with a wrist injury (though *not* the same one she missed so much time with early last year), when she returned this week in Cincinnati it was her first action since Wimbledon. She'd played just three matches since Paris, and Cincy was only her thirteen TOURNAMENT since last year's U.S. Open. With the start of opening round play at Flushing Meadows just a week away, surely pre-event discussions will center around which of the all-Bannerette semifinalists from last year stands the best chance to return to the final four. After proving herself sound *enough* for such a run this past week, might it be Keys?

Both Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe (who's already retired from a 1st Round match in New Haven) are dealing with injuries, while Sloane Stephens will encounter a whole new type of pressure as she's called on to try to defend her maiden slam crown. Keys has the ability, but a bit less pressure to back up what she did a year ago. In Cincinnati, she showed mettle in her return. She came back from a set and break down vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her first match (winning on her 7th MP), then defeated Camila Giorgi and again erased a set and a break disadvantage to take out Angelique Kerber (firing 55 winners while getting just her second win in nine matches vs. the German in their competitive-despite-those-numbers series, her first since 2014). Keys was ultimately the final Ohio victim of Aryna Sabalenka in the QF, but her week of work at least gives rise to the hope that she may just be able to time her summer hard court peak so that in coincides with her home slam. If so, she might be spending a lot of time under the lights in yet another batch of episodes of "The Late Show with Madison Keys" in New York City.
FRESH FACES: Aryna Sabalenka/BLR and Amanda Anisimova/USA
..."Sabalenka. One of these days."

That's what I said last week... and "one of these days" almost happened in Cincinnati as the exciting (though still just a tad "raw") 20-year old Belarusian once again pushed and shoved her way through a loaded draw while shining an it-could-STILL-happen-this-year light on the preseason thought that *she* may very well be the sort of player who could "pull a Latvian Thunder" and catch a wave of momentum and ride it to a HUGE result before anyone knew what hit them. "Belarusian Boom," anyone, as the latest official member of Generation PDQ's Justice League squad?

Serving big, sometimes hitting even bigger and showing the same sort of fearless aggression that we first glimpsed on a big stage in Fed Cup last year, Sabalenka followed up a week in Montreal that included a win over #2 Caroline Wozniacki in which she saved three MP, with an even better accounting of herself in Cincinnati. After coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Johanna Konta, she saved two MP in a win over #8 Karolina Pliskova, then another MP vs. #6 Caroline Garcia. Against #13 Madison Keys, she saved ten of ten BP and won in straights, setting up a match with #1 Simona Halep in the semis. The Romanian won in straights, but only a slight drawback in aggression from Sabalenka (who acknowledged as much) likely prevented another three-setter (she already leads the tour with 22 of those). Halep held a set and 3-1 lead, but the Belarusian made things tight late (saving a MP with a 116-mph ace), and only another bare-knuckles defense-to-offense sermon from Simona in the closing games held off the onslaught in 6-4 2nd set. She'll be at a career-best #25 on Monday.

@cincytennis Semifinal here I am ??????????

A post shared by Aryna Sabalenka (@sabalenka_aryna) on

Anisimova's junior U.S. Open title last year this past week earned her a wild card into the women's MD of the '18 event, and she showed on the court in Cincinnati that her 1st Round opponent wouldn't be wise to view her as simply a junior who'll be "happy to be there" for the first time. Since returning from a late March foot injury that ended a spring that included wins over the likes of '18 WTA title winners Petra Kvitova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Wang Qiang and Pauine Parmentier in Indian Wells and Miami (she started the season 12-3), the 16-year old (for about another week and a half, at least) has qualified in San Jose and notched a 1st Round win (def. Anna Blinkova and Wang, as well as pushing eventual champion Mihaela Buzarnescu to three sets), then came back this week to post wins over Timea Babos and Petra Martic before falling to Elina Svitolina in the 3rd Round. The Bannerette will climb 36 spots on Monday to #137, as she edges closer to the career high of #126 she set in April before being forced to sit out three months.

DOWN: Alona Ostapenko/LAT and Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
...Ostapenko's U.S. Open prep hasn't been, how would one say it? Umm, "ideal.") In just her second post-Wimbledon SF match, a week after going off the rails in the 2nd/3rd sets vs. Jo Konta in Montreal after winning a 1st set TB, the Latvian crashed out in the 1st Round in Cincinnati at the hands of Alize Cornet, dropping a love 3rd set after having forced a decider by taking the 2nd at 7-5. It's her first stretch of back-to-back 1st Round exits since her slow Week 1 & 2 start after her busy, travel-heavy offseason. While the 21-year old, who'll nonetheless climb back into the Top 10 on Monday, may yet rebound for a good turn at Flushing Meadows, it may be worth noting that she's yet to reach the second week at either of the hard court slams, falling in the 3rd Round in her last three majors on the surface.

Meanwhile, there are few cases where you sort of hope that a player is injured, but whatever has been going on of late with Krunic surely takes one in that direction. Since otherwise, well, you know. Ever since the Serb had her long awaited breakthrough moment with an oft-brilliant maiden tour title run on the grass at Rosmalen before Wimbledon, the Bracelet has been something short of even a thin shadow of that exciting player. Her 1 & love 1st Round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Cincinnati leaves her 1-5 since lifting her first WTA singles trophy. Not only that, but she's won just four TOTAL games in her last three matches. Combined. This was her second straight 6-1/6-0 defeat, and she's lost a bagel set in three consecutive matches.
ITF PLAYER: Heather Watson/GBR or Misaki Doi/JPN
...the $100K Vancouver final won't be contested until Sunday night, but it will pit two players trying to work themselves back somewhere near their former standings on tour.

Watson was unseeded in the event, ranked #133, but battled her way into the final with wins over Ekaterina Alexandrova, Ysaline Bonaventure (in 3) and Katie Boulter (in 3), and then defeated Doi's countrywoman Nao Hibino in straights in the semis. Ranked as high as #38 in 2015, the Brit fell outside the Top 100 over the summer. Her last singles title came in her third career tour-level final in Monterrey in 2016. Doi entered the week ranked all the way down at #240, and had to make it through qualifying. A Top 30 player in 2016, she was still ranked in the Top 100 last September, and was Top 50 early last year. She famously held MP vs. eventual champ Angelique Kerber in the 1st Round of the Australian Open two years ago. Wins over Katherine Sebov, Irina Khromacheva (6-0/6-0) and Alexandra Dulgheru (4 & love) set up a semifinal vs. Italian Martina Trevisan. Doi won it 4 & 5 to reach her third singles final (1-1) of '18 and her biggest since WTA 125 title run in San Antonio in March 2016.

No matter who comes on top on the court in British Columbia, though, Watson got off a bright and shining playful jab at countrywoman Naomi Broady during the week...

UPDATE: Doi won 6-7/6-1/6-4 and will improve to #163.

JUNIOR STARS: Wang Xinyu/CHN, Wang Xiyu/CHN and Amber Marshall/AUS
...a week ago, 17-year old Wang Xiyu claimed her first pro singles title in Nonthaburi, Thailand. This week in another $25K in the city, her 16-year old fellow Chinese junior (Wang Xinyu) claimed her own maiden crown, defeating her doubles partner in the final in their first-ever pro meeting, 6-1/4-6/6-1. The teen duo joined forces to win the Wimbledon GD title last month, becoming the first all-CHN combo to win a junior slam, and picked up this week's event win, as well, their first pro title as a pair, defeating Aussies Destanee Aiava & Naiktha Bains in a 10-4 3rd set TB in the final. Unseeded Xinyu, the #4 junior, dropped just one set in singles all week (to Xiyu). The leading members (or at least the first to truly break through) of the "Li Na Generation" of new Chinese stars, Wang and Wang been forces to reckon with at all three of 2018's junior slams. Xinyu reached the AO singles semis and won the doubles with Liang En-shuo, #6 Xiyu reached the Aussie & RG QF and Wimbledon semis (defeating Coco Gauff en route in the latter), where she was joined by Xinyu in the final four in addition to their historic GD title run.

In Lautoka, Fiji the Oceania Closed Junior Championship crown was claimed by 17-year old Aussie Marshall. The #3 seed lost just one set (2nd Rd.-Natasha Russell/AUS) on her way to the title, defeating #1-seeded Valentina Ivanov (NZL) in the semis and #4 Carol Young Suh Lee (NMI - that's the Northern Mariana Islands, of course) in a 6-1/6-4 final. She and Ivanov won the doubles, too. Marshall has won twenty straight junior singles matches, as well as sixteen straight in doubles, since June. She's 23-6 in mostly Grade 4 & 5 action in 2018, aside from a 3rd Round junior AO result in Melbourne. She went 2-3 in limited ITF action in January/February.
DOUBLES: Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova, CZE/RUS years ago, Hradecka & Makarova joined forces to play doubles in Luxembourg. They reached the final after defeating the team of Medina-Garrigues/Pavlyuchenkova via a 13-11 3rd set TB, only to fall to Benesova/Strycova. Many years (but not that many WD partners, as Hradecka has teamed often with Andrea Hlavackova, and Makarova with Elena Vesnina, in the interim) later, they teamed up for a second time in Cincinnati. They finished things off on a better note this time.

In Vesnina's summertime absence, recent doubles co-#1 Makarova has been forced to look elsewhere for partners. After going a combined 3-3 with the likes of Kalinskaya, N.Kichenok and Zvonareva, she and Latisha Chan reached the final in Montreal last week, but with Chan off in Indonesia for the Asian Games this week (she'll lose the #1 ranking to Timea Babos as a result) the 30-year old Russian turned to the veteran Czech in Cincinnati. Hradecka, 33, has spent most of '18 working her way back to the tour after missing nine months with a knee injury. Since returning in June, she'd only played in two tour-level events (RG/Wimbledon) while competing in seven ITF challengers (sometimes *only* in singles) over the past few months. After opening the week by slipping past Mattek-Sands/Safarova (Team Bucie led 7-5/4-4 when BMS retired with a thigh injury), Hradecka/Makarova won back-to-back 3rd set TB over Konta/Ostapenko and Babos/Mladenovic to reach the semis, where (just like seven years ago) they found Pavlyuchenkova waiting for them (this time w/ Sevastova). The pair swept through the Anastasia/Anastasija combo and then Elise Mertens & Demi Schuurs (seeking their third title together in '18) in straights to take the title. It's Hradecka's 22nd on tour, and first since '16 in Moscow with Hlavackova. For Makarova, it's #14 and her first without Vesnina since '09 (Morocco w/ Kleybanova). It's the Russian's second big WD win of the year, having won the Premier Mandatory title in Madrid with Vesnina in the spring.
WHEELCHAIR: Katharina Kruger/GER
...the 28-year old German picks up her second '18 title, successfully defending the Ath Open crown she won a year ago in Belgium. After dropping one set in four matches in '17, her path to the title was completed without dropping any this time around. The #8-ranked player in the world, Kruger took out two Top 4 seeds, defeating #4 Emmanuelle Morch (FRA) and #2 Michaela Spaanstra (NED) in a 6-2/6-4 final. This was Kruger's sixth singles final this season, and she's now won two of the last three after having taken the German Open in July with a victory over Marjolein Buis in the final.


Chavetadze sighting!

Preparation for the 2035 U.S. Open has begun...

1. Cincinnati Final - Kiki Bertens def. Simona Halep
I think Halep is going to have 70% of the nominees for Match of the Year. This won't likely be one of them, but it was still a great final. Halep seemed ready to embrace the history of becoming the first Canada/Cincy back-to-back champ, but Bertens had other thoughts. The Dutch woman led the 2nd set 4-1, but once the world #1 battled her way back, saved a SP at 5-4 and had a MP at 6-5 in the TB, Halep's first Cincinnati title appeared destined to be hers. But Bertens threw caution to the wind, upped her aggression, and stole the TB 8-6. With Simona frustrated and tiring in the heat after two LONG weeks, Kiki seized her opportunity and turned up the heat just a little more. After Halep broke serve in game #3 after falling behind 2-0, Bertens' immediate break back a game later showed that she wasn't going to wilt. She ended things with an ace. Of course... because that's what a good hard court player does, right?

Hmmm, maybe THIS is what's gotten into Kiki... ;)

2. Cincinnati 3rd Rd. - Aryna Sabalenka def. Caroline Garcia
Garcia served at 5-4 and had a MP, but couldn't stop Sabalenka from recording her third win from MP down in her last two events. She swept the final four games and, in a moment very similar to last week, a late coaching visit to Garcia from her dad resulted in, well, absolutely nothing but a *worse* performance from his daughter after he was gone.
3. Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Lesia Tsurenko def. Garbine Muguruza
Defending champ Muguruza led 4-1 in the 3rd, but 43 UE contributed to Tsurenko's first Top 10 win since 2015. But this likely means absolutely nothing when it comes to Garbi's chances at Flushing Meadows. That's just how she rolls.
4. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Viktoria Kuzmova def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Fed Cup flashback.
5. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Kristina Mladenovic def. Julia Goerges
...6-4/3-2 ret.
The German's retirement (calf) gave Mladenovic her first Top 10 win since the '17 RG. Her 2nd Round win over Kuzmova was her first full match victory on North American hard court since the 1st Round in Washington last summer. She fell 4 & 2 to Kvitova in the 3rd.
6. Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Kiki Bertens def. Caroline Wozniacki
...6-4 ret.
Already nursing a shoulder injury, Caro retires with a knee and appears to be legitimately "iffy" for the Open. She might be able to get some work as a stunt double in a "Mummy" remake, though.

7. Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Ajla Tomljanovic
It's a good thing Halep was playing against Tomljanovic when she took an MTO down 3-0 in the 3rd. If it happened against a handful of others players, she'd been "branded" for life. As it was, she won four games before the match was suspended due to rain at 4-3, 30/15. She finally got on the court late in the afternoon the next day, broke serve and served out the match before yet another weather delay. Of late, that's usually how *she* rolls.
8. Cincinnati SF - Kiki Bertens def. Petra Kvitova
Petra succumbs to the heat and Bertens. With her last chance for '18 slam success (so far she's just 2-3 in majors, despite winning five tour titles) just a week away, is this a very bad sign? Cincy title or no Cincy title, Halep is running away with Player of the Year honors unless Petra changes things big-time in NYC.

But, hey, we got this...

9. New Haven Q3 - Dayana Yastremska def. Belinda Bencic
NextNextGen def. NextGen. Bencic had defeated (Next?) NextNextGen Whitney Osuigwe in three sets a round earlier. One shouldn't be made to feel "old" by her peers at age 21.
10. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Stefanie Voegele
Sveta led 3-1 in the 3rd, then was down 3-1 in the deciding TB. She saved a MP, but after two net cords went her way, she got the win. Of course she did.

Later, she lost her 2nd Round match to Svitolina, but still won "Shot of the Day"... on the same day she received a U.S. Open wild card, which she learned about on Twitter.

Of course she did.
11. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Kiki Bertens def. CoCo Vandeweghe 6-2/6-0
New Haven 1st Rd. - Magdalena Rybarikova def. CoCo Vandeweghe 2-6/6-4/2-3 ret.
what are the current odds of CoCo getting anywhere close to successfully defending her '17 U.S. Open semi?

12. Cincinnati Q1 - Stefanie Voegele def. Monica Puig 6-2/6-0
New Haven Q3 - Monica Puig def. Margarita Gasparyan 5-7/6-2/6-2
New Haven is probably closer to Rio than Cincinnati.
13. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Petra Martic def. Dasha Kasatkina
The Russian still rises to a new career-high of #11 this week. So there's that.
14. $15K Guayquil ECU Final - Fernanda Brito def. Barbara Gatica
The Chilean sweeps the singles and doubles titles for a second straight week. Brito has won five straight lower-level challengers, going 25-0. She 29-1 in her last 30 matches, as well as 22-2 in doubles over the same stretch.

15. $25K Leipzig GER Final - Varvara Flink def. Julia Grabher
The 21-year old Hordette wins her fourth '18 challenger crown, and first career $25K.

16. $25K Las Palmas ESP Final - Basak Eraydin def. Chloe Paquet
The 24-year old Turk wins her second straight challenger in Las Palmas, her third title this season.


HM- $15K Oldenzaal NED SF - Greet Minnen def. Eliessa Vanlangendonck 6-4/6-0
$15K Oldenzaal NED Final - Annick Melger/Eva Vedder def. Dominique Karregat/Eliessa Vanlangendonck 3-6/6-2 [11-9]
21-year old Vanlangendonck continues to scratch the surface without breaking a nail. The Waffle is now 0-5 in career doubles finals, and 0-8 in career singles semis.

When she finally breaks through, though, it'll be time to c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e.

Based on the comments, I take it that Cornet's words are of an overdue anti-Bernard Giudicelli (FFT President) bent. Too bad it took the whole Davis Cup thing for some of the French players to truly stand up against the corrupt nature of tyrannical "leadership," since it was pretty clear what the deal was back whenever Giudicelli first began to shake his scepter via threats of retaliation against French players who didn't wish to play "the game" by the rules he'd rewritten. Unfortunately, some players (you know who) played along with and often strengthened the bullying force in power.

Of course, while sitting watch in a nation where we're still waiting (I suggest not holding one's breath, either) for such actions to be taken by certain actors in the political realm, I suppose one shouldn't sit in judgment of the slow-to-speak-up-and/or-take-action measure of others, though, huh?

Whew! It's a good thing truth isn't truth. Because, you know if it was...

Meanwhile, since I suppose the same re-making (destruction?) of Fed Cup could soon follow in the footsteps of the "new" Davis Cup format (I mean, assuming the Powers That Be even care enough to throw money at the *women's* team event), one should probably familiarize oneself with the pros & cons of the altered landscape. In an odd turn, it's both as bad as some say, while also *not* quite as awful as advertised by some:

1. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. AGA RADWANSKA
Pliskova was 0-7, and 0-for-14 in sets, vs. Aga before this. But after sending her (last) Czech coach (Tomas Krupa) packing, and continuing her recent more "positive" collaboration with Rennae Stubbs, she managed a breakthrough.

2. Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Aryna Sabalenka def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
Stubbs couldn't help vs. Sabalenka, though. After previously this summer falling to the Belarusian in Eastbourne despite holding a 4-1 3rd set lead, Pliskova failed to close her out in Cincy even after holding two MP at 5-4 in the 3rd. A game later, the Czech DF'd on BP and Sabalenka served out yet another comeback win. After recording seven QF-or-better results in her first eight '18 events, Pliskova has just one in her last seven. A year ago, she was the #1-ranked player in the world heading into the U.S. Open.

3. Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Petra Kvitova def. SERENA WILLIAMS
In just their seventh meeting, and first since 2015 (when Petra ended Serena's 27-match unbeaten streak), Kvitova pulled away in the 3rd after after the score was tied 2-2.

Naturally, with that tweet, many started running in circles with the usual "How dare he (Rothenberg) criticize Serena!" overreaction. Even Chris Evert responded with "She just had a baby!" The most ridiculous? Probably, "Your stats are nonsensical." (Sort of in the new "Truth isn't truth" vain that we heard this weekend, I suppose.)

Geez. Relax, people. There *was* at least one dose of common sense, though...

4. $15K Cuneo ITA QF - Paula Cristina Goncalves def. ANNA TURATI 6-1/6-4
$15K Cuneo ITA Final - Paula Cristina Goncalves def. BIANCA TURATI 6-2/6-2
the Brazilian goes through the Turati Texas Longhorn tennis family to get the title, though Bianca's loss comes in what was her fourth straight challenger final (2-2).
5. Cincinnati 1st Rd. - Maria Sakkari def. NAOMI OSAKA
Osaka is nothing if not thoroughly, and refreshingly, honest.


More from the Dutch painter...

"Mony," not "Money."

The thread of this comment from Svitolina is a classic combiatination of Twitter-style grasping at straws, displays of a lack of real knowledge on the topic, the occasional unwarranted personal attack and, yes, even a few good points by, I'm sure, very fine people. On both sides.


A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Australian Open - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2 MP,2r/Fett)
Charleston - Kiki Bertens, NED (1 MP,SF/Keys)
Strasbourg - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (2 MP,F/Cibulkova)
Rosmalen - Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (1 MP,SF/Vandeweghe)
Eastbourne - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1 MP,SF/Kerber)
Washington - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (4 MP,F/Vekic)
Cincinnati - KIKI BERTENS, NED (1 MP,F/Halep)

1978 Boston: #5 Evonne Goolagong (#2 Navratilova/#1 Evert)
1979 US Open: #3 Tracy Austin (#2 Navratilova/#1 Evert)
1979 Filderstadt: #3 Tracy Austin (#2 Evert/#1 Navratilova)
1980 Tokyo LC: #3 Martina Navratilova (#1 Evert/#2 Austin)
1981 Toyota Chsp: #3 Tracy Austin (#1 Evert/#2 Navratilova)
1981 Tokyo LC: #3 Martina Navratilova (#2 Austin/#1 Evert)
1985 US Open: #4 Hana Mandlikova (#1 Evert/#2 Navratilova)
1989 A.Island: #3 Gabriela Sabatini (#2 Navratilova/#1 Graf)
1998 Philadelphia: #17 Steffi Graf (#2 Hingis/#1 Davenport)
1999 R.Garros: #6 Steffi Graf (#2 Davenport/#1 Hingis)
1999 US Open: #6 Serena Williams (#2 Davenport/#1 Hingis)
2000 Los Angeles: #6 Serena Williams (#1 Hingis/#2 Davenport)
2000 US Open: #3 Venus Williams (#1 Hingis/#2 Davenport)
2000 Wimbledon: #5 Venus Williams (#1 Hingis/#2 Davenport)
2000 Sydney: #9 Amelie Mauresmo (#1 Hingis/#2 Davenport)
2001 Aust.Open: #14 Jennifer Capriati (#2 Davenport/#1 Hingis)
2001 San Diego: #10 Monica Seles (#2 Capriati/#1 Hingis) #
2002 Miami: #9 Serena Williams (#2 V.Wiliams/#1 Capriati)
2002 R.Garros: #3 Serena Williams (#2 Capriati/#1 V.Williams)
2002 WTA: #6 Kim Clijsters (#2 V.Williams/#1 S.Williams)
2003 R.Garros: #4 Justine Henin-H. (#1 S.Williams/#2 Clijsters)
2003 Leipzig: #10 Anastasia Myskina (#1 Clisjters/#2 Henin-H.)
2005 Aust.Open: #7 Serena Williams (#2 Mauresmo/#1 Davenport)
2005 Wimbledon: #14 Venus Williams (#2 Sharapova/#1 Davenport)
2005 WTA: #5 Mary Pierce (#2 Clijsters/#1 Davenport) #
2006 US Open: #4 Maria Sharapova (#1 Mauresmo/#2 Henin-H.)
2006 WTA: #3 Justine Henin-H. (#2 Sharapova/#1 Mauresmo)
2007 Miami: #18 Serena Williams (#2 Sharapova/#1 Henin)
2008 WTA: #8 Venus Williams (#2 Safina/#1 Jankovic)
2009 R.Garros: #7 Svetlana Kuznetsova (#2 S.Williams/#1 Safina)
2010 Sydney: #5 Elena Dementieva (#2 Safina/#1 S.Williams)
2010 WTA: #4 Kim Clijsters (#2 Zvonareva/#1 Wozniacki)
2012 Madrid: #9 Serena Williams (#2 Sharapova/#1 Azarenka)
2012 WTA: #3 Serena Williams (#1 Azarenka/#2 Sharapova)
2017 Cincinnati: #6 Garbine Muguruza (#1 Ka.Pliskova/#2 Halep)
2018 Cincinnati: #17 Kiki Bertens (#2 Wozniacki/#1 Halep)
# - didn't win title

5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (5-0)
3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-0)
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL (3-0)
3 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2-1)
3 - Sloane Stephens, USA (1-2)
3 - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (1-2)

*2018 WTA SF*
8 - SIMONA HALEP (6-1+L)
6 - Petra Kvitova (5-1)
6 - Mihaela Buzarnescu (3-3)
5 - Elise Mertens (3-2)
5 - Angelique Kerber (2-3)
4 - Caroline Wozniacki (3-1)
4 - Elina Svitolina (3-1)
4 - Julia Goerges (2-2)
4 - Ash Barty (2-2)
4 - Anastasija Sevastova (2-2)
4 - Garbine Muguruza (1-2+W)

3 - Petra Kvitova = Hard(2-0),Red Clay(2-0),Grass(1-0)
3 - KIKI BERTENS = Green Clay(1-0),Red Clay(0-1),Hard(1-0)

*WTA FINALS - since 2015*
19 - 5/3/5/6 - SIMONA HALEP (10-9)
16 - 5/8/1/2 - Angelique Kerber (9-7)
16 - 3/2/8/3 - Caroline Wozniacki (7-9)
14 - 6/4/3/1 - Karolina Pliskova (7-7)
13 - 4/3/1/5 - Petra Kvitova (11-2)
12 - 1/3/5/3 - Elina Svitolina (10-2)
12 - 5/5/1/1 - Serena Williams (8-4)
10 - 0/7/1/2 - Dominika Cibulkova (4-6)

4...Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (2-2)
4...Kveta Peschke, CZE (2-2)
4...Katerina Siniakova, CZE (2-2)
4...Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (1-3)
4...Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (1-3)
4...Andreja Klepac, SLO (1-3)
4...Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP (1-3)
4...Krejcikova/Siniakova (2-2)
4...Klepac/Martinez-Sanchez (1-3)
3...Babos/Mladenovic (2-1)
3...Makarova/Vesnina (1-2)
3...Melichar/Peschke (1-2)

*MOST WTA WD TITLES - since 2016*
15 - Latisha Chan, TPE (3/11/1)
14 - Martina Hingis, SUI (5/9 ret.)
10 - Andrea S.Hlavackova, CZE (4/6/0)
9 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (5/4/0)
9 - Sania Mirza, IND (8/1/0)
8 - Timea Babos, HUN (0/6/2)
8 - Kiki Bertens, NED (3/4/1)
8 - Johanna Larsson, SWE (4/4/0)

Timea Babos, HUN (1/2)
Ash Barty, AUS (1/3)
Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (1/1)
Simona Halep, ROU (3/1)
Tatjana Maria, GER (1/1)
Elise Mertens, BEL (3/3)

2016 Ellen Perez
2017 Arina Rodionova
2018 Lizette Cabrera

Doha - Petra Kvitova, CZE
Indian Wells - Naomi Osaka, JPN
Miami - Sloane Stephens, USA
Madrid - Petra Kvitova, CZE (2)
Rome - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Montreal - Simona Halep, ROU
Cincinnati - Kiki Bertens, NED
Wuhan - x
Beijing - x
Doha - Dabrowski/Ostapenko, CAN/LAT
Indian Wells - Hsieh/Strycova, TPE/CZE
Miami - Barty/Vandeweghe, AUS/USA
Madrid - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Rome - Barty/Schuurs, AUS/NED
Montreal - Barty/Schuurs, AUS/NED
Cincinnati - Hradecka/Makarova, CZE/RUS
Wuhan - x
Beijing - x

*2018 $100K CHAMPIONS*
Midland, USA (hci) - Madison Brengle/USA
Khimki, RUS (hci) - Vera Lapko/BLR
Cagnes-sur-Mer, FRA (rco) - Rebecca Peterson/SWE
Trnava, SVK (rco) - Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
Surbiton, ENG (gr) - Alison Riske/USA
Manchester, ENG (gr) - Ons Jabeur/TUN
Ilkley, ENG (gr) - Tereza Smitkova/CZE
Southsea, ENG (gr) - Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
Contrexeville, FRA (rco) - Stefanie Voegele/SUI
Budapest, HUN (rco) - Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK (2)
Vancouver, CAN (hco) - Misaki Doi/JPN

5 - Andreea Amalia Rosca, ROU
4 - Fiona Ferro, FRA
4 - Ylena In-Albon, SUI
4 - Rebecca Marino, CAN
4 - Anjelica Moratell, ITA

1994 Kimiko Date/JPN
1998 Yayuk Basuki/JPN
2002 Iroda Tulyaganova/UZB
2006 Zheng Jie/CHN
2010 Peng Shuai/CHN
2014 Wang Qiang/CHN
1994 Naoko Sawamatsu/JPN
1998 Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
2002 Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
2006 Sania Mirza/IND
2010 Akgul Amanmuradova/UZB
2014 Luksika Kumkhum/THA
1994 Yayuk Basuki/INA and Chen Li/CHN
1998 Li Fang/CHN and Yi Jingqian/CHN
2002 Shinobu Asagoe/JPN and Choo Yoon-Jeon/KOR
2006 Li Na/CHN and Aiko Nakamura/JPN
2010 Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN and Sania Mirza/IND
2014 Misa Eguchi/JPN and Eri Hozumi/JPN

Amanda Anisimova, USA (16) - last year's U.S. Open girls champ, the teenager makes her Flushing Meadows MD debut after recently returning from an injury break that followed an early-season run that included wins over Pavlyuchenkova and Kvitova in Indian Wells.
Victoria Azarenka, BLR (29) - the first of the high-achieving wild card recipients for Flushing Meadows, Vika is a two-time Open finalist (2012-13) who hasn't played in New York since 2015.
Lizette Cabrera, AUS (20) - the Aussie makes her U.S. Open debut with her maiden slam MD appearance outside of Australia after winning Tennis Australia's eight-player Wild Card Playoff, defeating Georgia Bulldog Ellen Perez in straight sets in the final.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (33) - another of the big-name wild cards for this Open (Stan Wawrinka also received one on the men's side) is Sveta, a former U.S. Open champ (2004). She earned her berth with a title run in Washington. Kuznetsova has only gone as far as the 3rd Round at Flushing Meadows once since 2011 (in '13).
Claire Liu, USA (18) - after winning the '17 Wimbledon girls title (and reaching the RG jr. final), Liu made her slam MD debut at last year's Open. This year, she arrives in NY having gotten her maiden slam MD win at Wimbledon and been the only player to take a set off eventual champ Angelique Kerber during the German's SW19 title run.

no monday blues

A post shared by Claire Liu (@cliu2000) on

Asia Muhammad, USA (27) - Muhammad makes her first slam MD appearance in a decade ('08 U.S. WC) after her against-all-odds claiming of the USTA's multi-event Wild Card Challenge title. She won the $60K Lexington challenger, but only earned the MD pass after two players come up one win short of earning the WC for themselves (Jessica Pegula squandered two MP in the Landisville SF vs. Kristie Ahn, who then retired in the final when a win would have gotten *her* the WC berth, leaving Muhammad atop the standings) in order to get the pass into the draw.
Whitney Osuigwe, USA (16) - the 16-year old former junior #1 (and '17 RG girls champ) makes her slam MD debut after winning the USTA 18s National Championship, won after staging a comeback straigths sets win from 5-1 down in the 1st set in the final vs. Kayla Day. With a birthdate of April 17, 2002 Osuigwe *should* be the youngest player in the draw, barring a Q-run from someone even younger.

Hard Courts singles and doubles champ ?? @usopen here I come ????

A post shared by Whitney Osuigwe (@whitney_osuigwe) on

Harmony Tan, FRA (20) - the Pastry is barely ranked inside the Top 400, is over a year past her career-high ranking (#324 in July '17) and was riding a five-match losing streak when the FFT chose her to fill the organization's WC slot for this slam. Still, she'll be making her slam debut. One has to wonder exactly what went into *this* selection, especially considering the shananigans undertaken by the FFT since the rise of Bernard Giudicelli.


I'm sure there's some "The WTA/tennis (especially during slams) could learn a lesson about..." notion related to this somehow.

The Radwanska of sidewalk basketball...

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT USA (Premier/Hard Court Outdoor)
2007 Kuznetsova d. Szavay
2008 Wozniacki d. Chakvetadze
2009 Wozniacki d. Vesnina
2010 Wozniacki d. Petrova
2011 Wozniacki d. Cetkovska
2012 Kvitova d. Kirilenko
2013 Halep d. Kvitova
2014 Kvitova d. Rybarikova
2015 Kvitova d. Safarova
2016 A.Radwanska d. Svitolina
2017 Gavrilova d. Cibulkova
=2017 WS=
QF: A.Radwanska d. Peng
QF: Gavrilova d. Flipkens
QF: Mertens w/o Sh.Zhang
QF: Cibulkova d. Pavlyuchenkova
SF: Gavrilova d. A.Radwanska
SF: Cibulkova d. Mertens
F: Gavrilova d. Cibulkova
2010 Peschke/Srebotnik d. Mattek-Sands/Shaughnessy
2011 Chuang/Govortsova d. Errani/Vinci
2012 Huber/Raymond d. Hlavackova/Hradecka
2013 Mirza/J.Zheng d. Medina-Garrigues/Srebotnik
2014 Klepac/Soler Espinosa d. Erakovic/Parra Santonja
2015 Goerges/Hradecka d. Chuang/Liang
2016 Mirza/Niculescu d. K.Bondarenko/Chuang
2017 Dabrowski/Xu d. Barty/Dellacqua
=2017 WD=
SF: Dabrowski/XU d. Melichar/Smith
SF: Barty/Dellacqua d. Mertens/Kr.Pliskova
F: Dabrowski/Xu d. Barty/Dellacqua
WS: #1 Halep, #2 Garcia, #3 Kvitova
WD: #1 S.-Hlavackova/Strycova, #2 Schuurs/Srebotnik

ASIAN GAMES (Palemberg, Indonesia)
1994 Kimiko Date/JPN d. Naoko Sawamatsu/JPN
1998 Yayuk Basuki/JPN d. Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
2002 Iroda Tulyaganova/UZB d. Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA
2006 Zheng Jie/CHN d. Sania Mirza/IND
2010 Peng Shuai/CHN d. Akgul Amanmuradova/UZB
2014 Wang Qiang/CHN d. Luksika Kumkhum/THA
2006 Yan Zi/Zheng Jie (CHN) d. Latisha Chan/Chuang Chia-Jung (TPE)
2010 Latisha Chan/Chuang Chia-Jung (TPE) d. Chang Kai-chen/Hsieh Su-wei (TPE)
2014 Kumkhum/Tanasugarn (THA) d. Hsieh Su-wei/Chan Chin-wei (TPE)
2006 Mirza/Paes (IND) d. Morigami/Iwabuchi (JPN)
2010 Latisha Chan/Yang Tsung-hua (TPE) d. Mirza/Vardhan (IND)
2014 Mirza/Myneni (IND) d. Angel Chan/Peng Hsien-yin (TPE)
WS: #1 Zhang Shuai (CHN), #2 Wang Qiang (CHN)
WD: #1 Chan/Chan (TPE), #2 Xu Yifan/Yang Zhaoxuan (CHN)
MX: #1 Ninomiya/Uchiyama (JPN), #2 Xu Yifan/Zhang Ze (CHN)

ALSO: U.S. Open Qualifying

And, finally...

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Searching the DSM for Serena Fanatic Delusional Disorder 👩🏼‍💻

Mon Aug 20, 09:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

The 4 yd old has skills.

Sharapova looking like Sgt Pepper.

Halep in Cincinnati=Sharapova in Miami. No shade, just noting the similarity in the fact that Sharapova and Halep have both won Indian Wells, plus Halep won Rogers Cup. Sharapova reached the final there, but lost in the round of 16 in 5 of the other 6.

Bertens doubles play might be the reason she does so well in rain delayed tournaments. Her body is used to playing a second match.

Bertens also won Cincinnati without ever being in the Top 10 in her career. Hasn't happened in the Open Era, and with her at 7 in the race, should be just a matter of time.

Stat of the Week-2388- The number of points amassed by Kiki Bertens at this point of the season in 2016.

By itself, that only tells a portion of the tale. But in 2016, Bertens was thought of as a clay courter. And should have been. Let's look at her splits.

1726- 72% Clay
532- 22% Hard
130- 5% Grass

And the numbers didn't change much the rest of the year, as she only gained 202 more points. You get 240 for USO R16, so just living up to her seeding will surpass that.

2018-3126 pts
1353- 43% Hard
1312- 41% Clay
461- 14% Grass

Pretty impressive. With the USO, China, and possibly the YEC in play, she has a chance to pick up another 2000 the rest of the way. Or do that in one shot in 3 weeks.

Quiz Time!
Aryna Sabalenka is having a breakout season. But this started last year, when she was the highest ranked woman from Belarus at 78. Victoria Azarenka had been the highest ranked every year since 2007. Who was the highest ranked woman in 2006?

A.Tatiana Poutchek
B.Olga Barbanschikova
C.Anastasiya Yakimova
D.Natasha Zvereva

More Up/Down Side, with another premier.

D. Zvereva is an obvious wrong answer, but deserves mention as she was the highest ranked woman for Belarus in the 20th Century. Actually the only one, as Zvereva led for evey year in the 90's that Belarus had representation- 1992-99.

A.Poutchek isn't right either, and that is because of timing. She was highest ranked from 2001-2003.

B.Barbanschikova is also wrong, but she was included as a choice over Govortsova because she was the highest ranked in 2000. That means that every player who was highest ranked will be accounted for.

C.Yakimova is your answer, and also fills in the gaps, as she not only was highest ranked in 2006, but also 2004 and 2005.

The one thing the pointed out to be is that we may be viewing Azarenka all wrong. She seems to project as a mid career Kuznetsova or Stosur. A former slam champ that is a tough out, but shouldn't be expected to win those titles.

We see 2016 as the pregnancy year, and 2017 as the custody one, but Azarenka hasn't finished the year in the Top 10 since 2013. Round of 16 is the USO ceiling.

Mon Aug 20, 10:31:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Suarez Navarro- Has been playing better, and is this week's pick. Starting with her USO R16 run last year, she's been better on hard than clay, actually didn't win on grass at all. Madrid QF doesn't translate, but the AO and IW QF do.
2.Pavlyuchenkova- Playing really good tennis lately, with nothing to show for it. Hasn't won back to back matches since she won Strasbourg, but her losses? Stosur on clay, Hsieh, then 4 Top 10 players in Halep, Kerber, Muguruza, Pliskova.
3.Schuurs-Who is having a better year, Bertens or Schuurs? Closer than you might think, with Schuurs having reached EIGHT doubles finals. One thing that she needs to improve on? The slams. Last 4- 2nd-1st-1st-3rd. As bad as that is, that is also her career best at each slam.
4.Bacsinszky-She's back. Like Lisicki and others, making it back isn't easy. Looking for her first singles win since Wimbledon 2017, and her first on hard since Indian Wells the same year, where she beat Bertens.
5.Goerges- Admittedly I am putting her on this list because she has already won a round in New Haven. The most talented woman expected to play, Halep has a bye, but expecting a "foot" injury later in the week, as she has a habit of that right before a slam.

Mon Aug 20, 10:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Muguruza-Hasn't won a match since Wimbledon. The arm injury is more troubling, as she is known for tight hamstrings and foot problems. And for fans of baseball, think Josh Donaldson. Arm problems don't just go away. In danger of having to shut it down early. With that said, future USO winner. Only clay event she ever won was the French. Only grass event she ever won was Wimbledon. Seems that she wins on hard, Cincinnati among them, so it will happen eventually.
2.Vandeweghe-Already lost, though she was leading, she is another candidate to shut it down with a 1st rd loss in NY. Which means she heads into NY on a 5 match losing streak. How weird/disappointing has Coco's season been? She has 9 wins on the season. Halep has 9 the last 2 weeks. 5 of her 9 wins were on clay, as well as her 3 Top 10 wins(Halep, Garcia, Stephens). 3 on grass, 1 on hard(Kanepi).
3.Vondrousova- On a 4-7 run, she has rarely resembled the player we saw in the first half on 2017. Keys' like durability hasn't helped, as the one time she got on a roll this year, it was stopped by a retirement.
4.Gavrilova- Last year's New Haven winner, she hasn't used that as a springboard. In fact, since her SF run in Acapulco this year, she has gone 11-13.
5.Cibulkova-Like a surprising number of seeds, hasn't won since Wimbledon. The difference, is that until yesterday, she had not played. At least she got that out of the way, but no belief that there will be a Wimbledon like run.

Mon Aug 20, 10:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Textbook examples are quite common, unfortunately. I hear a sure symptom to look for during diagnosis is that the patient personally believes he or she is displaying absolutely NO signs of the condition. :\

Ah, *that's* what the Sharapova outfit reminded me of. I knew there was something about it (I just liked the look -- that's why I included it). ;)

Quiz: went with Yakimova (yes!). Though if you'd included Govortsova I might have been tricked into picking her. Speaking of her, she's bringing her new baby to his first U.S. Open.

Tend to agree on Vika.

I wonder if Schuurs' lack of real slam success so far might be able to be tied into her not having a genuine "regular" partner? Her ability to play well with anyone works in regular events, but maybe more "established" partnerships work out better over the course of a major. Hmmm.

By the way, THIS week she's playing with Srebotnik.

I'd be REALLY surprised if Simona plays (or "plays"...hint, hint) this week. Don't see *any* benefit in it after the last two weeks. And she's apparently safe at #1 through the Open, too, so there's not even that.

I wonder how much the Fed Cup final might play into CoCo's schedule decisions down the stretch?

Mon Aug 20, 11:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Hmmm, didn't consider Fed Cup, and with Bellis & Rogers still out, Serena and Venus eternally questionable, Keys and her wrist, etc, US may have a patchwork team.

One thing I was planning to mention but forgot, Svitolina had 0 winners off the backhand in the Bertens match.

Mon Aug 20, 12:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, Simona finally pulled out of New Haven with an "injury." Hardly a surprise. To New York... ;)

Mon Aug 20, 05:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Yep, Halep replaced by Bencic.

Time flies, and the USO qualifying draw is out. Some names that stand out are Stollar and Rybakina. All Canada matchup as Bouchard faces Zhao, Japan does the same with Doi and Hibino.

Danilovic gets back on the horse vs Andreescu, and one fun second round patch potentially is Broady-Garcia Perez.

But something that I was saving for later in the week with be mentioned now, as it may not be relevant by then. Heather Watson is 0-8 in New York, 0-7 in MD. Her reward? WC Cori Gauff.

Mon Aug 20, 05:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Andreescu *always* has tough slam Q-draws or at least always gets close. This is her *seventh* attempt to qualify for her first slam MD:

2017 RG - lost to Smitkova in 3 sets (Q1)
2017 WI - lost to Kucova (Q1)
2017 US - lost to F.Liu in 3 sets (Q1)
2018 AO - lost to Dulgheru (Q1)
2018 RG - lost to Hogenkamp (Q3)
2018 WI - lost to Lottner (Q3)

And now Danilovic. She needs to get healthy enough to play more so she can maybe be an automatic entry next year.

Mon Aug 20, 10:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Since it's been announced that Li, Martinez and Pierce will be on the '19 HoF ballot, here's what I said about them in the HoF or Not HoF, That is the Question post from earlier this year. Well, actually, it's what I said about Li and Martinez, but I realized I'd somehow left Pierce off that list and had to put something together and edit it in -- I listed her just under where I had Sveta.

CONCHITA MARTINEZ (retired 2006) - any question about whether Martinez would one day be a HOFer ended when Sukova was selected for induction. If Sukova *is* a long-overlooked Hall of Famer, then Martinez is even *more* overdue. It's easy to get lost in what Martinez wasn't and didn't do in an era that included the likes of Graf, Seles and countrywoman Sanchez, but what she did was quite impressive. The Spaniard reached slam singles finals on three surfaces, taking down Martina Navratilova (in her last slam final) at Wimbledon in one of more remarkable match-long barrage of passing shots you're ever likely to see. A five-time Fed Cup champ, Martinez had nine slam SF-or-better results in one fourteen-slam stretch in the middle of what was a very long career during which she played in 56 of 57 majors from 1991 to 2005, including eighteen consecutive appearances at Roland Garros. With singles titles over a seventeen-year span (first in 1988, last in 2005), Martinez made twelve straight season-ending championship fields, picked up 33 career singles titles (16th on the all-time list, w/ all fifteen ahead of her being either enshrined Hall of Famers, or sure-to-be-one-day active players -- Serena/Venus/Sharapova, along with four more HOFers directly following her on the title list) in 55 finals, winning nine Tier I titles (def. Sabatini, Graf, Navratilova, Sanchez, Hingis and Mauresmo -- five different players who reached #1 -- in those finals), picking up three Olympic medals in doubles (only the Williams Sisters and ASV have won more since the sport returned to the Games in '88), climbing as high as #2, she finished in the Top 5 four consecutive years from 1993-96. Seriously, Newport, get this done.

Wed Aug 22, 04:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

LI NA (retired 2014) - she only won nine tour singles titles, but two of them were slams and she was the first Asian champion at a major. Another Chinese player may ultimately rank higher than her (she reached #2), but none will have the impact she has, does and will have on the future landscape of the women's game. The "Li Na Generation(s)" will be a thing for a long time to come.

MARY PIERCE (retired 2008, last played in 2006) - though she surely belongs in the mix, and will likely be a Hall of Famer at some point, my one problem when considering the best category here for Pierce, an unquestioned superior talent, is the feast-or-famine nature of her career. A "big title sniper," she was always a huge hitter and potentially lethal, but was ever really seen as the second or even third best player on tour at any given point in her career. Also, she was never reliably effective late second week participant at the major level (she had sixteen Round of 16 losses, and eight in the QF... good, but not definitively HoF-worthy results). As opposed to, say, Sabatini's big slam result consistency (18 SF+ results over eleven years, with at least one SF in each season, though only three finals and one title), Pierce only produced SF-or-better results at majors in five years over a twelve-season stretch. And, true to her career pattern, all six of those results in that stretch were trips to slam finals (2-4). Amazingly, she never saw her path in a major end in the semifinal round. Granted, she faced BIG names in the era, losing major finals to Sanchez, Hingis, Henin and Clijsters, who all reached #1 and are enshrined in Newport. Pierce went five years between her slam titles ('95 AO/'00 RG), then five years between slam finals ('05 RG). She had one of early abusive "tennis dads" (Jim Pierce), who was estranged from his daughter for a time due to his behavior and was banned from tournaments. Additionally, Pierce is a legitimate test case for whether or not winning multiple slams means you're a *lock* for Newport (Garbi should pay attention), even if your career is marked by a raging inconsistency. While she could be dominant when she was "on," Pierce was also the "author" of two of the worst slam final performances of the last thirty years. Both came in 2005, a 1 & 1 RG loss to Henin and a 3 & 1 defeat by Clijsters in New York. Naturally, she matched her best career season-ending ranking (#5) that year. In October '06, her career was ended by a knee injury, though she didn't officially retire until 2008.

Wed Aug 22, 04:51:00 PM EDT  

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