Wednesday, September 05, 2018

US.10 - Building a More Perfect Naomi

20-year old Naomi Osaka has been a whispered-about future force lingering in the back of the mind of many for a while now. Well, she's beginning to elbow her way to the front.

With a Serena-inspired serve and power to spare, Osaka reached the 3rd Round of the first three majors she played in her career in 2016. At the U.S. Open, she led would-be U.S. breakout star Madison Keys 5-1 in the 3rd set in their match-up at Flushing Meadows. But she wasn't ready to conquer the demons often faced by young players who rely on power and momentum (Latvian Thunder in Paris notwithstanding), losing the match to the Bannerette, who at one time had found *herself* in the same position as the Japanese teen, with so much talent but not yet with a full understanding of what to do with it. Keys' early career had been littered with blown leads lost in a hail of late-match errors.

I titled my recap of that match "Building the Perfect Madison, Pt. 21 (or so)," as Keys, three years older than Osaka, was quite clearly a work in progress though she'd already reached the Australian Open semis a season earlier, as well as the Top 10. Her performance in defeating Osaka, turning what had been *her* mid-match collapse into a day now remembered for the lead squandered by her opponent, was further proof that Keys was inching closer to something big. Since then, Keys has gone on to climb as high as #7, reached a U.S. Open final and the Roland Garros semis, and she's still alive in the draw at Flushing Meadows as we speak.

As 2018 beckoned, Osaka was looking for a way to build a more perfect Naomi. She was still something of an unformed slab of superpowered clay waiting to be formed, it was just a matter of who'd get the chance to help sculpt it. Then, fate stepped in. Caroline Wozniacki and coach Sascha Bajin parted ways. It may be that the rest will soon be history.

Osaka's late-offseason hiring of former Serena, Vika and Caro hitting partner/coach Bajin was a signficant shot fired across the bow of the Most Interesting Tour. With first-hand knowledge of what it takes to be a champion, combining Bajin's know-how with Osaka's talent was something that begged to be flagged as a possible turning point. In my preseason preview, I wrote, "Big Sascha was the intriguing, ultimate 'big fish' coaching free agent of the offseason. Ultimately, he landed in the boat of one of the most intriguingly talented prospects on tour. Powerful and with more personality than consistency at the moment, Osaka is a diamond that could prove to be HUGE if someone can find a way to polish her game to its potentially shiniest form. It may never FULLY happen, but Bajin, in his first solo coaching gig, now gets a chance to help make it happen. If Osaka can 'pinish,' their teaming could prove to be one of the biggest stories of 2018."

Well, so far, so good.

With Bajin in camp, the improvements in Osaka's fitness, on-court movement, consistency and confidence (likely coming into being in that exact chronological order, too) have been apparent.

In March, Osaka blazed a trail to stardom while winning Indian Wells, becoming the youngest winner of the event in a decade and the first woman from Japan to win a Premier Mandatory title. She posted wins over Maria Sharapova, Aga Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Dasha Kasatkina en route to her maiden (and, so far, still only) tour title. With her big shots, shy demeanor and winning, refreshingly honest charm (her tiny "Ommm..." response at the start of most of her post-match answers serves as an almost Pavlovian instigator of a smile for her audience, preparing them for whatever wonderfully unvarnished answer might be about to come out of her mouth) finally brought her to the attention of those who'd previously turned a blind eye and ear to the whispered notions about the Osaka-born, Florida-raised Great Wave of talent that was coming, if it could only find its way to the proper shore.

Even then she still had work to do, but she now *knew* what she was capable of.

Osaka came to this U.S. Open saying that the "fun" was back in her game after a few months of up-and-down moments since her win in the desert in the spring. She coasted, dropping just seven games in her first three matches, before winning the Bash Sister Battle for a maiden slam quarterfinal berth against Aryna Sabalenka in the Round of 16. She did it by better keeping her head in the moment and out-dueling *the* breakout star of the summer hard court season

Meanwhile, Lesia Tsurenko seemed to barely survive her Round of 16 match against Marketa Vondrousova, going three sets in the blistering heat two days ago, when on more than one occasion she seemed THIS CLOSE to retiring before rallying to reach her own maiden slam QF (only to then, unfortunately, be accused of "faking" her ailments by the Czech, who only sets even a partial "pass" because she's so young and should be soon expected to not only realize how factually wrong she was, but also how much poor sportswomanship she showed in defeat by "going there"). Naturally, the 29-year old Ukrainian since contracted a viral illness (not a surprise, I guess, after her body was so weakened), but refused to *not* play today in what was the biggest match of her career. It's a pity she didn't have much of herself left to give.

It didn't take long to see it, either.

Osaka broke for 2-0, and Tsurenko was already bending over at the waist. Osaka seemed unbothered by the occasion, and simply went about her business. She never lost a point on her first serve in the opening set, and just three points on serve overall, while winning 6-1. She broke Tsurenko from love/40 down to open the 2nd, and finished things off soon after, wining 6-1/6-1 in fifty-seven minutes to become the first Japanese woman to reach the U.S. Open semis, and the first to do so at any major since 1996 (Kimiko Date at Wimbledon, in her first of three SF at three different slams from 1994-96). She won 20 of 22 first serve points in the match, and 30 or 37 overall.

Osaka didn't outwardly celebrate much after the win, though she admitted she was "freaking out on the inside." She decided, she said, not to be so emotional since after crying at the conclusion of her previous win some people "made fun of" her.

So, there's another thing she still has to work on.

Aside from revealing she doesn't think the NYC weather is so hot, being used to Florida ("I like sweaty."), Osaka also noted that she was happy that she didn't break a racket today, and that she fought for every point, something she acknowledged that she's had a problem with in the past. "So I've matured."

And thus the process of building a more perfect Naomi reaches a big milestone, yet still continues. Just as it did with Keys two years ago.

When Keys staged her comeback vs. her in 2016, the Bannerette did it by replacing a string of flailing errors with a confident stream of winners, while Osaka's final set that day played out in precisely the opposite way. Two years later, Osaka's potential opponent in her maiden slam semi could be Keys.

In '16, I said:

"Only three years separate Keys and Osaka, buy they're an important three. What Keys has learned about herself and her tennis since she was 18 is enough to fill two Osaka heads at this point. While Keys still has more to learn to reach her potential, Osaka, while on schedule for great future success, is still a few big steps behind. But the raw materials are surely there.

It's days like this that can make a player like Keys, a Top 10er whose next logical career step involves a grand slam final and/or title, into an elite star on the WTA tour. She'll use this experience to get better, just as she has so many over the past two or three years. It could be that this is the match that she had to win to get take that "final step" at the end of this tournament. But this day can also make (or break, I suppose, depending on her psyche) Osaka something more, too. She now knows she can challenge the current "NextGen future major winner" on a big stage. She just needs to learn how to close the deal. She just needs to get a little bit better. Then, a short ways down the road, she might be looking to take the final step toward reaching her own tennis dream. Just like Keys is now.

Both may just get there, too. And if or when that happens, what happened today will still be important. This is all part of how champions are built. From the ground up. Keys is eyeing the penthouse, while Osaka is eyeing the 'up' elevator."


When the elevator doors open up on Ashe Stadium over the next few days, Osaka alone could be the one stepping out. Maybe even on the penthouse level. Whether she faces off with Keyes in the next round, or even Serena Williams the round after that, the 20-year old can now feel that funny feeling in her stomach that often comes with the sudden movement up an elevator shaft.

Up, up, up she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows. But we may very soon.

...speaking of Osaka's next opponent, the USTA seems intent on making Madison Keys *the* most recognizable U.S. player on the planet not named Williams. At least it seems that way considering how often she's been given night session matches on Ashe the last few seasons even while having yet to be crowned a slam champion. So that she and Carla Suarez-Navarro were given the Day 10 night slot is no shock.

Still, it would have been nice to see Osaka/Tsurenko get the spot. Not just considering the Ukrainian had been brutalized by her day placement on Monday, or that Osaka has yet to have been given the big stage night experience at this Open, even while being the reigning Indian Wells champ. But it also might have forced Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez to comment on the USTA's lack of interest in developing Osaka's talent when it had the chance to bring her in under the organization's wing. She'd lived in the U.S. since she was 3, after all, and is as close to a "pseudo-Bannerette" as you're going to find as far as a player representing another country. But, of course, I don't believe I've ever heard MJF even make *one* comment on ESPN about Kathy Rinaldi's Fed Cup captaincy of the last two years, let alone how much better constructed, cohesive and more successful *her* teams have been since MJF *finally* stopped being the U.S. Captain. So I guess one can't expect any sort of primetime mea culpas by anyone in position to have had a voice in the Osaka story, either.

Neither McEnroe nor Fernandez were involved in ESPN's coverage of Osaka's match today, though Chris Evert and Pam Shriver *did* bring up how she got "lost in the shuffle" with the USTA. Shriver did note how Rinaldi had asked Shriver to check in on a camp at which Osaka was in attendance when she was a kid. She recalled watching her blast a second serve winner while playing practice games, and telling her to "do that (her) entire career." She asked Osaka about it recently, and she remembered the moment.

In the end, considering all that goes along with Osaka being *the* women's tennis star in Japan, even with all the hurdles due to her mixed race background, and the fact that she'll likely even rise about Kei Nishikori's fame with her eventual (maybe slam-winning) success, the path she and her family eventually traveled down was the smarter one. Plus, she's still got all her U.S. ties, which could make her the rare tennis star who could be equally promoted in both Asia *and* the West.

After being formed in the springtime in California, The Great Wave of Osaka has now officially been spotted off shore in New York. Sound the alarms.

As far as tonight's last QF: Keys is 3-2 in career slam quarterfinals (she's trying to reach her third major semi in the last five slams), while CSN in 0-6 heading into the match. doubles, Sam Stosur & Zhang Shuai advanced to the semis with a win over the Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova & Anastasija Sevastova. It's the Aussie's best slam WD result since the 2011 Wimbledon, and is her 14th slam WD SF+ result. Stosur has won two major doubles titles (including the U.S. Open in '05) in seven career finals, as well as going 3-0 in MX finals. And, of course, she has one U.S. Open singles crown (2011).

Still to play in the SF as of this post: #1 Krejcikova/Siniakova vs. #7 Mertens/Schuurs.

In mixed, Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Jamie Murray (the latter won the U.S. title in '17 w/ Martina Hingis) defeated McHale/C.Harrison to reach the final. It's the fourth career MX final for BMS, who has so far won two. A win here would give her three-fourths of a Career Mixed Slam (she and Lucie Safarova also have 3/4 of Career Doubles Slam, needing only SW19). They'll face Rosolska/Mektic. juniors, if a third straight Bannerette ('16 Kayla Day, '17 Amanda Anisimova) is to be crowned the U.S. Open girls champ she'll have to come from the top half of the singles draw.

#2 Alex Noel was bounced 6-0/6-1 (ouch) by Brit Emma Raducanu today, and Hurricane Black lost to #14 Zheng Qinwen, meaning the bottom half of the Round of 16 is now Bannerette-less. In the top, #1 Coco Gauff, #5 Caty McNally, #16 Lea Ma and unseeded Eli Mandlik remain.

The other big seed to fall today was #6 Claura Tauson, taken out by Ukraine's Dasha Lopatetskaya, 1-6/6-2/7-5. The 15-year old, a qualifier into the girls draw, made a minor ITF stir this summer when she swept her first two pro challenger events. She still stands 11-0 in her pro career.

...the wheelchair competition begins tomorrow. Marjolein Buis is the most active social media poster on tour, so here she is in NYC...

Aniek van Koot was the star of the Open tune-up event in St.Louis, defeating both #1 Diede de Groot and #2 Yui Kamiji en route to the title. Kamiji is the defending singles champ and a two-time winner in New York, while de Groot has yet to win the Open.

If de Groot is to keep alive her shot to have an uncluttered path next season to become the first player to win all eight slam WS/WD crowns, she'll need to win her first Open singles crown this weekend. She still needs the US singles ('17 RU), AO doubles ('17-18-time RU) and RG singles ('18 RU) for her set of eight, so she could pull off the feat in Paris if all works out before Kamiji would have a chance to beat her to it. Kamiji only needs to win the singles at Wimbledon (semis '17-18) to complete her unique eight-piece hardware set.


The 6-4/6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova puts Serena Williams into her 36th slam semi, behind only Chris Evert (52), Martina Navratilova (44) and Steffi Graf (37) in tour history. She's now 36-13 in major quarterfinals. And she's 30-5 in semis.

LIKE ON DAY 10: Petko remembering Petko times previously forgotten...

NOTE ABOUT NIGHT 9 ON DAY 10: ...also the reaction of many to not having all the way-too-overzealous Kiki cut-ins from the players box in the next round, too.

JUST A REMINDER ON DAY 10: AnaIvo had a baby six months ago.

LIKE ON DAY 10: The CoCo/Ash celebration after winning their QF match yesterday.

LIKE ON DAY 10: Forever Martina.

HOPE ON DAY 10: That boy's qualifier Henry von der Schulenberg of Switzerland, alive in the 3rd Round, becomes a player of note. Because, you know, who doesn't want to see a "von der Schulenberg" in as many major draws as hmuanly possible?

Of course, still waiting for Tessah Andrianjafitrimo to fill the same role on the women's tour, so...


Washington Capitals: 2018 Stanley Cup champions
Washington Valor: 2018 Arenabowl champions
Washington Mystics: 2018 WNBA champions????

Somewhat makes up for the s***-show the Nationals have been all summer, I guess.


We haven't seen the last of her. She wants to coach someone to a grand slam win. Some player is going to win the lottery.

Here's a quick Backspin Time Capsule of my recap from her maiden slam win in Paris eight years ago...

"Viva Francesca!" - June 5, 2010

Kiss, kiss. Bang, bang.

At first glance, Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone presented totally different images when they met to decide the Roland Garros women's championship today. One wore black, the other white. While one's short mop top was allowed to fly haphazardly on every groundstroke, the other's long hair was neatly tied back and trapped under a hat. One dressed in a tight, business-like tennis dress, while her opponent wore a loose, almost baggy shirt-and-skirt combination. And while one's expressive face showed every wince and exultation throughout the match, the other preferred to keep her emotions "under glass" with glasses both shielding her from the sun's glare, as well as likely assisting her in her attempt to keep in check the sort of emotional responses that so often used to prevent her from truly taking flight on the court.

Still, both were in the same proverbial tennis boat on this day, trying to find a way to navigate their way around an environment neither had ever experienced -- a grand slam singles final. To be accurate, it was the first match-up of two first-time slam women's finalists to decide a major title since it happened six years ago on the very court the two walked onto this sunny Paris afternoon, Court Philippe Chatrier.

For all the late-career bests that Stosur has been congratulated on for achieving the last few days, Schiavone's path to this moment was even more unexpected. While the Aussie's talents have been admired for a few frustrating years, surely neither Schiavone herself nor anyone else thought the Italian would have a chance at grand slam immortality a mere eighteen days before her thirtieth birthday. Ready to enter the Top 10 for the first time at a time in her career when many of her peers have either moved on to another phase of their lives or are winding down their current one, with each progressive round in Paris, Schiavone had taken on even more of the look of woman playing to WIN. Rather than celebrate and settle for what was already her best-ever career slam result, Schiavone and everyone in her corner chose to emphasize what was STILL possible.

The backers in the Italian's cheering section, en masse, donned black shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Nothing is Impossible," and their presence served as a suitable backdrop for a player who has always been at her best when playing for her country in Fed Cup, with a gang of ardent supporters in the stands living and breathing with every point. It was quite the savvy bit of art direction for this only-in-the-movies moment.

But Schiavone's preparation didn't end there.

While Stosur's power point presentation had been enough to, at times, overwhelm and ultimately defeat three straight former or current world #1's -- Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic -- to become the first Aussie woman to reach a slam final in thirty years and making her the heavy favorite today, Schiavone came armed with a tactical masterpiece of a game plan. Essentially, it was a brilliant bit of "misdirection." Where most expected to see her force long rallies in the match, she would instead be more aggressive and seek to move forward. Countering her clay courter image, her serve was depended upon to be a bigger weapon on this day, and her volley potent. If all went well, it would give her a chance to dilute Stosur's power, taking away the effectiveness of the Aussie's forehand and serve which had consistently discombobulated the best players of her generation during this tournament.

Schiavone wasn't content with seeing if Stosur could hit through HER as she had her other six opponents. She had other ideas. As a certain Detroit rapper once asked, "Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?"

This was HER shot, and she wasn't going to leave any regrets behind on the terre battue.

As it turned out, everything went according to plan.

Early on, though, Stosur maintained her previous "Saminator" pattern. She held at love in her first two service games. But as the set wore on, Schiavone grabbed more and more in-game leads. She hit high-bouncing and angled backhands that kept Stosur moving and unable to impose the power game that had carried her through the previous rounds. Forced to the net more often than she had been in other matches, Stosur's volleys proved to be less than effective, in spite of her doubles background.

After a missed volley, Stosur found herself down love/40 on her serve. Schiavone surprised her by coming to the net off one of the Australian's second serves. Two points later, Stosur double-faulted on break point #3 and fell behind 5-4. Serving for the set, Schiavone quickly fell behind love/30 after a missed drop shot and a long backhand, but she employed Stosur's bread-and-butter tactics by getting back into the game via a big serve, forehand winner and unreturnable serve to get to her first of two set points. A Stosur error would hand Schiavone the set at 6-4, an opening stanza highlighted by the Italian's surprising aggression (she was 5-for-5 on net approaches) and service pop (she had more aces than the Aussie and didn't face a break point).

In the 2nd set, Schiavone got fired up after what she felt was a bad line call. She briefly seemed to lose her concentration, and Stosur took advantage. She got her first break point chance in the fourth game, and broke for a 3-1 lead. Stosur held to go up 4-1, but Schiavone finally rebounded and went up triple break point on her serve two games later. Stosur missed a short forehand shot on break point #2, and the set was back on serve.

Stosur's game had not collapsed on this day by any means, but she was not fully the same player she'd been in Paris prior to the final, either. Much of the reason was Schiavone. Except for the moments following her questioning of the line call, the Italian never wavered from her gameplan, and seemingly refused to let the pressure of the moment get to her. Maybe she never felt it after such an unexpected run? Whereas Stosur is best rewarded when she keeps her emotions under control, rarely ever even reacting too much when she wins important points, Schiavone's occasional fist pumps, twirls and after-point half-skips to the baseline prove to be ideal illustrations of how visible emotion can serve as life-affirming fuel for another player's game.

In this particular contest, it also effectively served to foreshadow the match's conclusion.

In the set's deciding tie-break, Stosur took a 1-0 lead. But Schiavone managed a mini-break for 3-2 when a bad Stosur running drop shot was easily put away for a winner by the Italian. Playing the breaker with a line of sweaty hair indiscriminately matted to her forehead, Schiavone got the best of her controlled and everything-in-its-place opponent more and more with each point. A volley winner made gave her a 4-2 lead. She jumped into the air. A forehand winner made it 5-2, and a low backhand volley gave her a match point at 6-2. With Schiavone's momentum seemingly unstoppable, Stosur framed a forehand off the court and it was over.

With a three-set final still absent at Roland Garros since 2001, Schiavone won 6-4/7-6(2).

She becomes the first-ever Italian women's slam champion, and the oldest first-time slam champ in the Open era. When it was over, Schiavone collapsed onto her back on the court, then quickly rolled over and gave the red clay a long smooch. Best. First. Date. Ever. So what if it came in her 39th slam, the second-longest wait before lifting a major trophy in women's tennis history? When she hopped up to shake Stosur's hand at the net, her white shirt was covered in red. On this day, winning a grand slam didn't have to be pretty... even when the new champ's game turned out to be far more beautiful than anyone anticipated.

Over the years, climbing into the stands in celebration of winning a slam title has almost became a rote, forced and unnecessary procedure since Pat Cash impetuously inaugurated the trend at Wimbledon back in 1987. But that wasn't the case with Schiavone's trip to the seats. After climbing over the railing and wading through the stands to get to her cheering section (she was ultimately dragged into it, really), she received a group hug of epic proportions in one of the most heartwarming scenes following any slam in recent memory. Ah, those life-loving Italians.

But the Schiavone scene didn't end there. In the trophy ceremony, she continued to let her joy flag fly.

Singing along with the Italian national anthem (the music was surprisingly monotonous, so I assume the words have great meaning), she flashed the huge smile that once again threatened to steal the world. A few feet away, Stosur, now sans glasses, looked down and ahead as she tried very hard to not allow her obvious-in-her-naked-eyes deep emotions of disappointment to consume her. A few moments later, while addressing the crowd, Schiavone turned to the Aussie and told her to not feel too sad, saying, "You are young. You can do it." Even after substituting her opponent's dream with her own, Schiavone was still able to make her (finally) flash a smile. Stosur seemed to be thankful for the moment of relief... even if in the back of her mind, she might have been thinking that she's only three years younger than the "old" Italian.

In between hugging and lovingly kissing the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen as if the occasion was the reuniting of herself with a long lost child she never knew she had, Schiavone still managed to grab the microphone one last time to thank trophy presenter Mary Pierce (it's the tenth anniversary of her RG title), telling her how much she loved her and was glad that she was there. The Frenchwoman seemed truly touched by the unexpected gratitude.

Sometimes, you can almost viscerally sense the moment when a player becomes something more in everyone's mind's eye from that day forward and forever. Anyone who watched Jana Novotna cry on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent could never be an uninterested bystander the rest of her career. Even more than her heroic play today, it was Schiavone's oh-so-thankful, oh-so-joyful, oh-so-life-affirming post-match moments that served as the moment for the Italian and anyone who was watching her. Nasty comments, intense rivalries and in-your-face outbursts often garner the most headlines in tennis, but it's the small, more intimate moments like this that make a player go from a familiar name to a person that you can't help but want to see succeed. Needless to say, it was a nice change.

Two weeks ago, you would have been thought demented to say it: "Francesca Schiavone is the champion of Roland Garros." Now, you would be called a crazy genius. Wonders never cease.

Oh, I get the feeling there's going to be a hot time in the old city tonight. And the next day. And maybe the one after that, too.


...and, finally...

If Tom Petty was singing it, it was always worth listening to. Best known as the lead singer of the Heartbreakers (formed in 1976) and as a co-founding member of the supergroup Traveling Wilburys (w/ George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Oribson and Jeff Lynne), he was a multi-decade producer of timeless hits. Inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Famer in 2002. He was still active and touring up until his sudden death a year ago this October.

["American Girl"]


["Don't Do Me Like That"]

["Don't Come Around Here No More" - the "Alice in Wonderland" theme video is fantastically weird]

"Full Moon Fever" (1989) was essentially Petty's first solo album (he only had three), producing a number of signature hits. Including...

["I Won't Back Down" - from the 9/11 telethon special in 2001]

["Runnin' Down a Dream"]

["Free Fallin'"]

Like so many singers, Petty also did a bit of acting. But, personally, I'm partial to his voice work on one of my all-time favorite animated comedies, "King of the Hill." Petty had a recurring role as the voice of Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt from 2004 to 2009. It's still hard to believe it's him, but the animators *did* make the character resemble him, at least a little.

He even did the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008...

His last performance on Septmber 25, 2017:

#17 Serena Williams/USA def. #8 Karolina Pliskova/CZE
#19 Anastasija Sevastova/LAT def. #3 Sloane Stephens/USA
#30 Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP vs. #14 Madison Keys/USA
#20 Naomi Osaka/JPN def. Lesia Tsurenko/UKR

#1 Krejcikova/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) vs. #7 Mertens/Schuurs (BEL/NED)
#13 Barty/Vandeweghe (AUS/USA) def. Jakupovic/Khromacheva (SLO/RUS)
Stosur/Sh.Zhang (AUS/CHN) def. Pavlyuchenkova/Sevastova (RUS/LAT)
#2 Babos/Mladenovic (HUN/FRA) def. #6 Hradecka/Makarova

Mattek-Sands/J.Murray (USA/GBR) def. (WC) McHale/C.Harrison (USA/USA)
Rosolska/Mektic (POL/CRO) def. Sh.Zhang/Peers (CHN/AUS)

#1 Coco Gauff/USA vs. Oksana Selekhmeteva/RUS
Eli Mandlik/USA vs. Dasha Lopatetskaya/UKR
#3 Wang Xiyu/CHN vs. #16 Lea Ma/USA
#9 Naho Sato/JPN vs. #5 Caty McNally/USA
#8 Leylah Annie Fernandez/CAN vs. Taisya Pachkaleva/RUS
Moyuka Uchijima/JPN vs. #4 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Violet Apisah/PNG vs. #11 Clara Burel/FRA
#14 Zheng Qinwen/CHN vs. Emma Raducanu/GBR

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

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

23 - Venus Williams, USA (16-7)
20 - Maria Sharapova RUS (10-10)
7 - Angelique Kerber, GER (4-3)
7 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (4-3)
7 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (3-4)
6 - Simona Halep, ROU (4-2)
6 - Jelena Jankovic, SRB (1-5)
5 - Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (4-1)
5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (2-3)
5 - Samantha Stosur, AUS (2-3)
5 - Aga Radwanska POL (1-4)
4 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (3-1)
4 - Vera Zvonareva, RUS (2-2)
NOTE: 3 - Keys (1-2) = to play QF

52 - Chris Evert
44 - Martina Navrtailova
37 - Steffi Graf
36 - Margaret Court

AO: Sloane Stephens/USA
RG: -
WI: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
US: Flavia Pennetta/ITA
AO: Genie Bouchard/CAN
RG: Simona Halep/ROU (RU), Andrea Petkovic/GER
WI: Lucie Safarova/CZE
US: Ekatarina Makarova/RUS, Peng Shuai/CHN
AO: Madison Keys/USA
RG: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
WI: Garbine Muguruza/ESP (RU)
US: Roberta Vinci/ITA (RU)
AO: Johanna Konta/GBR
RG: Kiki Bertens/NED
WI: Elena Vesnina/RUS
US: Karolina Pliskova/CZE (RU)
AO: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
RG: Alona Ostapenko/LAT (W)
WI: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
US: -
AO: Elise Mertens/BEL
RG: -
WI: Julia Goerges/GER
US: Naomi Osaka/JPN, Anastasija Sevastova/LAT
NOTE: Suarez-Navarro would be first-time SF w/ QF win

4 - United States (Keys,Stephens,S.Williams-2)
3 - Germany (Goerges,Kerber-2)
2 - Latvia (Ostapenko,Sevastova)
2 - Romania (Halep-2)
1 - Belgium (Mertens)
1 - Denmark (Wozniacki)
1 - Japan (Osaka)
1 - Spain (Muguruza)
NOTE: Keys (USA) vs. Suarez-Navarro (ESP) in QF

[BEL Champions]
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2005 Kim Clijsters
2007 Justine Henin
2009 Kim Clijsters
2010 Kim Clijsters
[BEL Finalists]
2003 Kim Clijsters
2006 Justine Henin-Hardenne
[BEL Semifinalists]
2009 Yanina Wickmayer
[BEL Quarterfinalists]
2001 Kim Clijsters
[BEL Rd. of 16]
1992 Sabine Appelmans
1999 Sabine Appelmans
2001 Justine Henin
2002 Justine Henin
2002 Kim Clijsters
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2005 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2010 Yanina Wickmayer
2018 Elise Mertens

[ASIAN NATION Champions]
[ASIAN NATION Finalists]
[ASIAN NATION Semifinalists]
2013 Li Na, CHN
2018 Naomi Osaka, JPN (still active in '18)
[ASIAN NATION Quarterfinalists]
1993 Kimiko Date, JPN
1994 Kimiko Date, JPN
2004 Shinobu Asagoe, JPN
2009 Li Na, CHN
2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
[ASIAN NATION Rd. of 16]
1975 Kazuko Sawamatsu, JPN (3rd Rd.)
1981 Lee Duk-hee, KOR
1994 Mana Endo, JPN
1994 Elena Likhovtseva, KAZ
1995 Kimiko Date, JPN
2003 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
2003 Ai Sugiyama, JPN
2004 Ai Sugiyama, JPN
2005 Sania Mirza, IND
2006 Li Na, CHN
2008 Li Na, CHN
2011 Peng Shuai, CHN
2016 Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ

JAN: Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
AO: -
FEB/MAR: Rebecca Marino, CAN
MARCH: Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
APR: Varvara Flink, USA
MAY: Vera Lapko, BLR
RG: -
2Q Clay Court: VERA LAPKO, BLR
JUN: Alison Riske, USA
WI: -
JUL/AUG: Laura Siegemund, GER
AUG: Fernanda Brito, CHI
[2018 Weekly ITF Award Wins]
3 - Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
2 - Madison Brengle, USA
2 - Fernanda Brito, CHI
2 - Varvara Flink, RUS
2 - Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
2 - Vera Lapko, BLR
2 - Rebecca Marino, CAN
2 - Andreea Amalia Rosca, ROU
2 - Iga Swiatek, POL
2 - Gabriella Taylor, GBR
2 - Taylor Townsend, USA

Unseeded - 2000 Elena Dementieva, RUS
Unseeded - 2009 Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
Unseeded - 2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
Unseeded - 2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
Unseeded - 2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
Unseeded - 2015 Roberta Vinci, ITA (RU)
Unseeded - 2016 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
Unseeded - 2017 Sloane Stephens, USA (W)
Wild Card - 2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL (W)
#28 - 2011 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#26 - 2015 Flavia Pennetta, ITA (W)
#20 Naomi Osaka, JPN
#20 - 2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
#19 Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
#19 - 2006 Jelena Jankovic,SRB
#17 Serena Williams, USA
#17 - 2014 Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
#15 - 2017 Madison Keys, USA (RU)
#12 - 2005 Mary Pierce, FRA (RU)
#12 - 2007 Venus Williams, USA
#10 - 2001 Serena Williams, USA (RU)
#10 - 2002 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
#10 - 2012 Sara Errani, ITA
#10 - 2014 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (RU)
#10 - 2016 Karolina Pliskova, CZE (RU)
[IN 2018 U.S. OPEN QF]
#14 Madison Keys
#30 Carla Suarez-Navarro

**OUTSIDE TOP 16 SEEDS IN SLAM SF, since 2000**
8 - #17-19 (last 2: #19 Sevastova '18 US, #17 S.Williams '18 US)
17 - #20-25 (last 2: #25 S.Williams '18 WI, #20 Osaka '18 US)
4 - #26-29 (last 2: #28 Petkovic '14 RG, #26 Pennetta '15 US)
4 - #30-32 (last 2: #30 Bouchard '14 AO, #30 Bacsinszky '17 RG)
25 - unseeded (last 2: Stephens '17 US, Mertens '18 AO)
4 - wild card (last 2: Henin '10 AO, Lisicki '11 WI)
NOTE: #30 Suarez-Navarro to play QF

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

1998 Serena Williams/Max Mirnyi, USA/BLR
1999 Ai Sugiyama/Mahesh Bhupathi, JPN/IND
2000 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario/Jared Palmer, ESP/USA
2001 Rennae Stubbs/Todd Woodbridge, AUS/AUS
2002 Lisa Raymond/Mike Bryan, USA/USA
2003 Katarina Srebotnik/Bob Bryan, SLO/USA
2004 Vera Zvonareva/Bob Bryan, RUS/USA
2005 Daniela Hantuchova/Mahesh Bhupathi, SVK/IND
2006 Martina Navratilova/Bob Bryan, USA/USA
2007 Victoria Azarenka/Max Mirnyi, BLR/BLR
2008 Cara Black/Leander Paes, ZIM/IND
2009 Carly Gullickson/Travis Parrott, USA/USA
2010 Liezel Huber/Bob Bryan, USA/USA
2011 Melanie Oudin/Jack Sock, USA/USA
2012 Ekaterina Makarova/Bruno Soares, RUS/BRA
2013 Andrea Hlavackova/Max Mirnyi, CZE/BLR
2014 Sania Mirza/Bruno Soares, IND/BRA
2015 Martina Hingis/Leander Paes, SUI/IND
2016 Laura Siegemund/Mate Pavic, GER/CRO
2017 Martina Hingis/Jamie Murray, SUI/GBR
2018 ?
AO: Gaby Dabrowski & Mate Pavic, CAN/CRO
RG: Latisha Chan & Ivan Dodig, TPE/CRO
WI: Nicole Melichar & Alexander Peya, USA/AUT
US: ?

1991 Monique Kalkman, NED
1992 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1993 Chantal Vandierendonck, NED
1994 Monique Kalkman, NED
1995 Monique Kalkman, NED
1996 Maaike Smit, NED
1997 Daniela Di Toro, AUS
1998 Esther Vergeer, NED
1999 Daniela Di Toro, AUS
2000 Esther Vergeer, NED
2001 Sonja Peters, NED
2002 Esther Vergeer, NED
2003 Esther Vergeer, NED
2004 Maaike Smit, NED
2005 Esther Vergeer, NED
2006 Esther Vergeer, NED
2007 Esther Vergeer, NED
2008 --
2009 Esther Vergeer, NED
2010 Esther Vergeer, NED
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED
2012 --
2013 Aniek van Koot, NED
2014 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2015 Jordanne Whiley, GBR
2016 --
2017 Yui Kamiji, JPN
2018 ?
2005 Korie Homan & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2006 Jiske Griffioen & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2007 Jiske Griffioen & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2008 --
2009 Korie Homan & Esther Vergeer, NED/NED
2010 Esther Vergeer & Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer & Sharon Walraven, NED/NED
2012 --
2013 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2014 Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley, JPN/GBR
2015 Jiske Griffioen & Aniek van Koot, NED/NED
2016 --
2017 Marjolein Buis & Diede de Groot, NED/NED
2018 ?

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #13 Kiki Bertens/ NED
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: #23 Marta Kostyuk/RUS def. Valentyna Ivakhnenko/RUS 4-6/7-6(6)/7-6(4) (saved 6 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - #10 Alona Ostapenko/LAT def. Andrea Petkovic/GER 6-4/4-6/6-4
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): Nominee: 4th - #20 Osaka d. #26 Sabalenka
TOP NIGHT SESSION WOMEN'S MATCH: Nominee: 2nd - (Q) Muchova d. #12 Muguruza
FIRST VICTORY: (Q) Jil Teichmann/SUI (def. Jakupovic/SRB)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK (1st Rd. - Q.Wang/CHN; second con. FSO at major for Rybarikova)
REVELATION LADIES: Belarus (four -- Azarenka, Lapko, Sabalenka, Sasnovich -- into 2nd Round of a slam for the first time ever)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Switzerland (1-4 1st Rd.; Golubic double-bageled, Bacsinszky love 3rd set)
CRASH & BURN: #1 Simona Halep/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Kanepi/EST; first #1 to lost 1st Rd. at U.S. Open in Open era)
ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEW YORK: Katerina Siniakova/CZE (1r: Kontaveit served for match at 5-4, 30/love in 3rd, Siniakova wins set 7-5, taking 12/14 points; 2r: Tomljanovic served for match at 6-5 in 3rd; opponent served for match in 1st and 2nd Rounds and saved MP)
IT ("Court"): (new) Louis Armstrong Stadium (four of top 5 women's seeds -- #1 Halep, #2 Wozniacki, #4 Kerber, #5 Kvitova -- fall in first three rounds on the newly rebuilt #2 show court, as well as slam winner #12 Muguruza and summer stars #13 Bertens and #26 Sabalenka)
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Nominees: Osaka, Suarez-Navarro, Sevastova
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Karolina Muchova/CZE (3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Victoria Azarenka/BLR (3rd Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: In QF: Keys, Stephens(L), S.Williams(W)
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: S.Williams
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominees: S.Williams, Sevastova, Suarez-Navarro, Tsurenko
BROADWAY-BOUND: Kaia Kanepi/EST (new Armstrong Stadium premieres w/ Day 1 def. of #1 Halep)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Nominee: S.Williams, Suarez-Navarro

All for Day 10. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

2019 Australian Open: Will Venus be unseeded? When Serena won her QF match, she jumped back into the Top 20. However, doing that bounced Venus from it. As someone who is 37 in the race, it is unlikely that she will play/earn enough points to make it to Zhuhai or the YEC.

With YEC finalists points off, she would drop to 39, so it is looking likely that she will be one of the more dangerous floaters come January.

Stat of the Day-3- The amount of player in the final four that have been outside the Top 100 in the last 3 years.

Compiling the Final Four stats, this is rather unique. Williams had her pregnancy break, but Osaka was on her way up and was at 144 in January 2016, while Sevastova was on the way back and ranked 113.

Hardcourt record- last 3 years
65-38 Osaka
57-24 Keys
51-40 Sevastova
37-10 Williams

Nobody has ITF results, but Osaka and Sevastova have qualies results mixed in.

Keys had the most wins in 2016, 29, Sevastova in 2017, 16, although she was barely over .500(16-15), compared to 17-9 this year, Osaka leads this season with 22.

Head to Head
Williams leads Keys 3-0/2-0 on hard
Keys leads Osaka 2-0/all on hard
Osaka leads Williams 1-0/all on hard
Osaka tied Sevastova 1-1/all on hard

Keys-Sevastova 0-0
Williams-Sevastova 0-0

Top 10 wins -last 3 years.
10-Keys(Hard-8)Svitolina, Muguruza, Kerber, Garcia, Vinci, V.Williams, Kuznetsova, Cibulkova(Clay-2)Kvitova, Muguruza.
8-Williams(Hard-7)Halep-2, Radwanska-2, Konta, Pliskova, Sharapova(Grass)Kerber.
6-Sevastova(Hard-4)Svitolina, Stephens, Muguruza, Goerges(Clay-2)Pliskova, Konta.
4-Osaka(Hard-4)V.Williams, Kerber, Pliskova, Halep.

The numbers seem to say Keys/Williams final.

Start with Williams Sevastova. Vinci beat Williams, so you would assume that Sevastova has a chance, but Williams destroys Radwanska. So how does Sevastova keep it close? She likes to go crosscourt with the forehand, and if she is willing to wrongfoot Serena, and go behind her, she has a chance. Opening the court up just to let serena run and hit a backhand is a recipe for disaster. Williams in two if heat isn't an issue.

Keys and Osaka should be the better match. People like me are expecting a grip it and rip it match, and that is the key. I am expecting Keys' serve to be a weapon, but if Osaka is willing to stand inside the baseline, and try to hit winners off the serve, she has a chance to steal this. Keys in three.

If that happens, Keys over Williams, as I have to go younger.

Thu Sep 06, 10:17:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, good catch w/ Venus.

I'll go w/ Williams in whatever the match-up may be, though I'd give Osaka a slightly better chance for the surprise than Keys (in an Ostapenko at RG sort of way). Largely because I can't picture Serena losing to a younger U.S. player, and one who didn't really handle the moment all that great last year (and that was vs. an opponent who was equal to her in experience), in the U.S. Open final.

If Sevastova got the upset in the first match, though, oh the *tension* in the second one would be ramped up about a million levels for both of them.

Thu Sep 06, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home