Monday, September 03, 2018

US.8 - Boom-shaka-Osaka

The all-20 year old, U.S. Open Round of 16 match-up between #26 Aryna Sabalenka and #20 Naomi Osaka wasn't just a first-time meeting between a pair of Generation PDQ "Bash Sisters," it was a look into something of the soul of the future of women's tennis. Not all of it, mind you, but a large subsection where power rules, the potential for it to intimidate excites, and individual stardom awaits for those who can corral it all and rise above.

Alona Ostapenko was the first of the new generation of players to break through at a major and become a maiden slam champ, and the smart money at this point is that one of these two very well could be the next. But after today only one would survive to reach their first career slam quarterfinal.

Over the course of the summer in North America, Sabalenka has stirred imaginations, admiration (and sometimes awe) with her booming shots, clenched fists and warrior air on court as she's defiled a series of Top 10 players over the course of the U.S. Open hard court series.

But while "Belarusian Boom" sometimes looks like a superhero-in-training, the story surrounding Osaka, just as big a hitter (if not an even bigger one than the Belarusian), runs deeper. Not because of anything to do with their similar games, or that her tennis upbringing was in large part patterned after that of the Williams Sisters (especially her idol Serena), but because of what she represents by just, well, by just being.

Half-Japanese and also half-Haitian, born in Osaka but raised in the U.S., Naomi's life as a mixed-race person in Japan (known as a hafu, from "half" in English) was a big point of interest in her recent New York Times profile, which raised the issue of what she represents while representing so many things. Stated Brook Larmer in the piece, "(She) symbolizes something as large as the world’s multicultural future. In playing under the flag of an island nation noted for its racial homogeneity, Osaka challenges assumptions about whether and under what circumstances a biracial person might be accepted as truly Japanese" within the borders of a country obsessed with "racial purity."


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There was never going to be a great deal of variety in the match-up itself. Mostly, it was about power. But raw, sometimes stunning power from two players whose task it usually is to corral their strengths and use them for good. Osaka was much more adept at it early in the season, when she was thrust into the spotlight after winning Indian Wells in March, than she has been since having to navigate the balance of the season while also adapting to her newly burgeoning stardom. She recently admitted on social media that she'd had a few difficult months, but that she believed that the "fun" aspect had returned to her game as she was set to arrive in New York.

Sabalenka played more matches on summer hard courts than anyone, seemingly getting better with every outing (and every Top 10 win), and ultimately claimed her maiden tour singles title in New Haven the weekend before the start of play at Flushing Meadows.

Both had ripped their way through the first three rounds in New York. Sabalenka went three sets in the 1st Round vs. Danielle Collins, just days after the Connecticut Open wrapped up, but hadn't lost a set since. She out-hit #5-seed Petra Kvitova in the 3rd Round to reach her first slam Round of 16. Osaka dropped just seven total games in three rounds, double-bageling Sabalenka's countrywoman Aliaksandra Sasnovich in her most recent match.

Sabalenka had the first BP opportunity in Monday's Labor Day match, when she led 2-1 in the 1st set. After failing to convert, in game #5, she went down love/30, then missed an open court forehand just long to fall down triple BP. It would be one of the many holes she'd be forced to climb from on serve on the day. The Belarusian brought out her big serve and nearly got back to deuce, but a DF ultimately handed the first break to Osaka. Looking to consolidate the break, Osaka fired back-to-back aces to lead 30/15, then held with a big (117 mph at Sabalenka's body) service winner two points later for 4-2. Down 15/30 a game later, Sabalenka's ace got her to 30/30 and she took the final three points of the game. Osaka didn't blink, though, holding with an ace (one of two in game #8) for 5-3.

Speaking of blinking... the set would soon be over in the blink of an eye. Patrolling the back court with good defense, Osaka moved into the court to end a rally and take a love/30 lead as Sabalenka served to stay in the set. A forehand crosscourt winner gave her triple SP, and then Sabalenka's backhand error (her 14th UE in the 1st ) ended it, with Osaka winning the set at 6-3.

Osaka opened with a love service game in the 2nd, while Sabalenka handily held, as well. A tight game #3 went to multiple deuce points, but Sabalenka could never quite get an opportunity to seize control of the action with her return game until she finally fired a forehand return into the corner and then followed the shot into the net for a put-away that earned her a BP. But a forehand error allowed the opportunity to slip away, and then Osaka fired an ace. Sabalenka's swing volley backhand winner saved GP, but an error from Osaka gave her another BP chance.

A long, high quality rally (probably the best of the match) ended with Osaka's backhand traveling beyond the baseline, meaning Sabalenka had finally wrestled away an advantage to lead 2-1. Her big serve, then volley net cord and follow-up volley winner gave her a 30/love lead in game #4. She held at 15 with another aggressive move on GP, won with a volley winner. Sabalenka's slice to one corner, then forehand winner into the other opened game #5 with a flash of the sort of play that boosted her summer run. A loose backhand error from Osaka then gave Sabalenka another BP chance, and she was soon up a double-break at 4-1 while maintaining her more "error-lite" style in the 2nd.

At 5-1, up love/30 on Osaka's serve, the Belarusian reached double SP at 15/40 with a long Osaka backhand. Osaka saved one with a laser forehand into the corner, followed by Sabalenka sailing a return of an on-the-line serve. Osaka got the hold for 5-2 after several GP chances, forcing Sabalenka to serve out the set. At 30/30, Osaka's long return gave the Belarusian her third SP, on which she left no doubt with a set-ending ace... and an arm-pumping scream before stalking to the changeover area with a 6-2 set in her column.

After the ten-minute between-set break, Osaka held at 15 to open the 3rd, looking fresh again after seeing her game take step back in the 2nd. The Japanese player being able to stave off a BP in her last 2nd set serve game now allowed her to open the deciding set on serve, preventing her from having to face the constant pressure of serving from behind. Instead, it would be Sabalenka's lot in the 3rd.

Sabalenka followed suit on her own service hold at 15 with a down-the-line forehand that painted the side line. In game #3, Osaka found herself in a love/30 hole, causing her frustration to leak out just a bit as she tapped rather forcefully (but never fully slammed) her racket on the court. A netted forehand put her down double BP, then Sabalenka charged the net behind her return and put away a breaking volley to go up 2-1. But rather than Sabalenka taking the wind-in-her-sails moment and carrying it to the finish, it was Osaka who lifted her level in the final games, better controlling her power (and UE) and playing with the sort of consistency that was always going to be necessary for *one* of these two if they were going to have any sort of real say in the outcome of the match.

She got the break back a game later, then followed with a strong hold, ending it with an ace to lead 3-2. A missed backhand down the line put Sabalenka down love/30, then a DF gave Osaka triple BP. But Sabalenka, as she has so often this summer in a series of three-setters, often coming back from MP down to win, managed a final push with her back against the wall. She pulled herself out of the hole with big serves and aggressive play, holding for 3-3 with a game-ending forehand winner. A Sabalenka error on a short ball off an Osaka return put her down love/30 two games later, but she held again for 4-4.

But remember, Sabalenka was the one who was tasked with holding to keep contact in the set, and the pressure to continually do so proved to be too great, and the Great Wave of Osaka too strong to hold back. Feeling the moment and recognizing her time to shine, Osaka held at love, punctuating the game with an ace for a 5-4 lead. Again serving to get even, this time to stay in the match, the Belarusian again fell behind. But this time she couldn't battle her way back. A backhand bounced off the net cord and landed out, leaving her love/30 down. A DF gave Osaka triple MP.

In one final flourish, Sabalenka got the game back to deuce, saving three MP with a wide second serve and forehand winner combo, an Osaka return error and a service winner up the middle. On GP, Osaka fired a big return at Sabalenka's feet and the game continued, with MP #4 soon coming after another large return. This time, rather than pull herself back up, Sabalenka served herself out of the U.S. Open with another DF, giving Osaka a 6-2/2-6/6-4 win and her maiden slam quarterfinal result.

While the Belarusian tossed her racket in anger, an emotional Osaka, the first Japanese woman to reach the QF of a major since 2004 (Shinobu Asagoe/U.S. Open) fought back tears. Still, in her post match interview, she was able to activate her usual personal style, featuring a dose of honesty as well as a touch of oddball (in a good, winning -- literally and figuratively -- way) charm.

Thus, Sabalenaka's summertime story ends in the Round of 16 in her first U.S. Open main draw, leaving fellow Generation PDQ member Osaka with a chance for another round of glory... and, after that, who knows what might come next.


=DAY 8 NOTES= the first-up women's Round of 16 match on Ashe, '17 runner-up Madison Keys out-hit and dominated #29 Dominika Cibulkova, winning 6-1/6-3 to reach her second career U.S. Open quarterfinal, and fourth in the last five majors.

In the second game of the opening set, #14 Keys got the break in an 8-deuce game, and then never looked back. After an early break disadvantage in the 2nd, Cibulkova got things back on serve, but seemed tired down the stretch (she'd played three straight three-setters in the first week, including one of the longest U.S. Open women's matches ever, a 3:19 2nd Round win over Hsieh Su-wei), dropping the final four games. Keys had 25 winners to Cibulkova's 7, lost just four points on her first serve, as well as 65% of her second serves. She converted 5 of 12 BP chances on Cibulkova's serve, while facing just one on her own. Cibulkova won just 46% of her total service points. the final women's Round of 16 match to wrap in the daytime hours, the unseeded pair of Lesia Tsurenko and Marketa Vondrousova had as much (or more) trouble with the oppressive afternoon conditions on the Grandstand Court as they did with each other. Tsurenko, particularly, seemed on the verge of retirement. She'd led the 1st set 3-0, and 4-1, but saw it slip away. She was treated by a physio after the ninth game. Doubling over, and barely able to stand, it didn't seem possible that she'd finish the match. She could barely swing her racket as she tried to return serve as her 19-year old Czech opponent served out a 7-3 tie-break to win the 1st set. It was Vondrousova's third TB win in her last two matches.

But the 29-year old veteran, seeking just as Vondrousova was her maiden slam QF spot (in slam #29, though, rather than #7), battled on. By the time the 2nd set ended with Tsurenko serving it out at 7-5 to send things to a 3rd, the Czech was seen grabbing her calf and thigh, likely trying to hold back an attack of cramps. With the guts she utilized to defend her Acapulco crown in March ("Sombrerenko!") -- she was three points from a straight sets defeat vs. Stefanie Voegele in this year's final -- Tsurenko was the stronger player down the stretch.

She ultimately served out a 6-7(3)/7-5/6-2 win, saving a BP in the final game and winning on her third MP when Vondrousova netted a forehand return, ending the over two and half hour contest. The battle of attrition in the heat was evident in the final stats, as the two combined for 132 unforced errors (MV 75, LT 57) and 29 BP (LT 8/15, MV 5/14). Tsurenko is the sixth unseeded slam quarterfinalist in 2018. the night match on Ashe, the U.S. Open demise of #22 Maria Sharapova that one could somewhat see coming through the first three rounds, when supporters (and maybe the Russian herself) were forced to latch onto small spurts of competence and past results when trying to put a positive spin on her staying power at this slam, finally happened.

Facing off with #30 Carla Suarez-Navarro, on the Spaniard's 30th birthday, Sharapova's good moments were witnessed even fewer and farther between during tonight's match than they often were in her first three wins last week. Never able to get her service game straight (from the toss on down), Sharapova had difficult just holding serve. Five games into the 1st set, she'd already been broken twice. CSN got a bit tense while trying to close out the set, failing to serve it out at 5-2 and seeing Sharapova take a love/30 lead at 5-4. But the Russian's back-to-back-to-back-to-back unforced errors squandered her small opening for success. Suarez-Navarro claimed the 6-4 set, and proceeded to maintain her roll in the 2nd.

Sharapova, serving to stay in the match down 5-3 with hope that the Spaniard would get nervous again, failed to convert two GP chances, losing one on a DF. It all ended on CSN's first MP when Sharapova couldn't go to her left quickly enough to get back her fellow thirtysomething's sweeping backhand shot sent deep and wide into the backcourt. The 6-4/6-3 win sends CSN into the final eight at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2013, and ends Sharapova's long undefeated (22-0) stretch under the lights on Ashe. Sharpaova won just 48% of her first serves, 39% of her second, and had eight DF. doubles, #7 Mertens/Schuurs (def. Hsieh/Sabalenka) advanced to the quarterfinals along with #13 Barty/Vandeweghe (def. #3 Hlavackova/Strycova), #6 Hradecka/Makarova and the Anastasia/Anastasija combo of Pavlyuchenkova/Sevastova. Sevastova is the only player still alive in both singles and doubles.

In mixed, Wimbledon champ Nicole Melichar (w/ Alexandra Peya) & Oliver Marach (the #2 seeds) fell to Zhang Shuai & John Peers in an 11-9 3rd set TB. With AO winner Gaby Dabrowski and RG champ Latisha Chan already out, we're assured of four different women winning MX slam titles in 2018. juniors, some top seeded Bannerettes (#2 Alexa Noel, #5 Caty McNally) were forced to go three sets to advance, while #7 Eleonora Molinaro (LUX) lost to Himari Sato of Japan, and #12 Joanna Garland (TPE) fell at the hands of Eli Mandlik of the U.S. (who's also the daughter of '85 U.S. Open women's champ Hana Mandlikova).

Daria Snigur (UKR) upset #15 Katie Volynets (USA), Papua New Guinea's Violet Apisah defeated Bannerette Gabriella Price, Emma Jackson (USA) knocked off Ukraine's Viktoriia Dema, and Hordette Oksana Selekhmeteva advanced past #13 Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy.

NEWS ON DAY 8: Donna. Has. Left. The. City.

(Also... the pants!)

Until next year NYC ???????????????????????

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YEAH, I'M *NOT* LIKING THIS, AFTER ALL (I figured I wouldn't) ON DAY 8: Nothing like making Hall of Fame-worthy individuals seem "less worthy" in the eyes of many people who likely never saw them play by pitting them against each other -- and reporting the ongoing results -- in a "fan poll." Not the way to go, IMO.

SEEN ON DAY 8: During the Sabalenka/Osaka match, a fan wearing a Joe Namath #12 jersey in the stands. Hey, it *is* New York, I guess.

JUST A REMINDER ON DAY 8: Sania Mirza is still very pregnant.

LIKE ON DAY 8: When you just did it, barely, but realize that now you have to come back out and do it *again*. And you internally accept the coming challenge, no matter how it ultimately turns out.

...and, finally...

The Nanci Griffith soundtrack of my car while driving back from a college night class. Her "Late Night Grande Hotel" album just played really well as the only sound in the middle of the night, allowing one to think *and* listen... well, not counting the time I split the uprights between two out-of-nowhere deer on a winding road in pitch blackness, with only a few hairs stuck around the edges of my headlight as evidence that the moment ever really happened at all.

["It's Just Another Morning Here"]

["Late Night Grande Hotel"]

["The Power Lines"]

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

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

(WC) McHale/C.Harrison (USA/USA) vs. #5 S.-Hlavackova/Roger-Vasselin (CZE/FRA)
Mattek-Sands/J.Murray (USA/GBR) def. N.Kichenok/Koolhof (UKR/NED)
Olaru/Skugor (ROU/CRO) vs. Rosolska/Mektic (POL/CRO)
Sh.Zhang/Peers (CHN/AUS) def. #2 Melichar/Marach (USA/AUT)

Trust the process

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*2018 U.S. OPEN FINAL 8*
[by career slam QF]
49 - Serena Williams
7 - Carla Suarez-Navaro
6 - Madison Keys
6 - Karolina Pliskova
5 - Sloane Stephens
3 - Anastasija Sevastova
1 - Naomi Osaka
1 - Lesia Tsurenko
[by career US QF]
15 - Serena Williams
3 - Karolina Pliskova
3 - Anastasija Sevastova
2 - Madison Keys
2 - Sloane Stephens
2 - Carla Suarez-Navarro
1 - Naomi Osaka
1 - Lesia Tsurenko
[w/ consecutive slam QF]
2 - Serena Williams
[w/ consecutive US QF]
3 - Karolina Pliskova
2 - Madison Keys
2 - Anastasija Sevastova
2 - Sloane Stephens
NOTE: Serena Williams 10 non-consecutive in a row (since 2007; DNP 2010/2017)
[2018 slam QF - unseeded]
AO - Elise Mertens, BEL
AO - Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
RG - Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
WI - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
WI - Camila Giorgi, ITA
US - Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
[2018 1st-time GS QF]
AO - Elise Mertens, BEL
RG - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS
WI - Camila Giorgi, ITA
WI - Julia Goerges, GER
US - Naomi Osaka, JPN
US - Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
[2018 slam QF]
3 - Angelique Kerber (AO/RG/WI)
3 - Madison Keys (AO/RG/US)
2 - Simona Halep (AO/RG)
2 - Dasha Kasatkina (RG/WI)
2 - Karolina Pliskova (AO/US)
2 - Sloane Stephens (RG/US)
2 - Carla Suarez-Navarro (AO/US)
2 - Serena Williams (WI/US)
1 - Kiki Bertens (WI)
1 - Dominika Cibulkova (WI)
1 - Camila Giorgi (WI)
1 - Julia Goerges (WI)
1 - Elise Mertens (AO)
1 - Garbine Muguruza (RG)
1 - Naomi Osaka (US)
1 - Alona Ostapenko (WI)
1 - Yulia Putinteva (RG)
1 - Maria Sharapova (RG)
1 - Anastasija Sevastova (US)
1 - Elina Svitolina (AO)
1 - Lesia Tsurenko (US)
1 - Caroline Wozniacki (AO)
[2018 slam QF - by nation]
7...USA (1/2/1/3) - Keys(3),Stephens(2),S.Williams(2)
4...GER (1/1/2/0) - Goerges,Kerber(3)
3...ESP (1/1/0/1) - Muguruza,Suarez-Navarro(2)
3...RUS (0/2/1/0) - Kasatkina(2),Sharapova
2...CZE (1/0/0/1) - Ka.Pliskova(2)
2...LAT (0/0/1/1) - Ostapenko,Sevastova
2...ROU (1/1/0/0) - Halep(2)
2...UKR (1/0/0/1) - Svitolina,Tsurenko
1...BEL (1/0/0/0) - Mertens
1...DEN (1/0/0/0) - Wozniacki
1...ITA (0/0/1/0) - Giorgi
1...JPN (0/0/0/1) - Osaka
1...KAZ (0/1/0/0) - Putintseva
1...NED (0/0/1/0) - Bertens
1...SVK (0/0/1/0) - Cibulkova
[WTA career slam QF - active]
49...Serena Williams, USA
39...Venus Williams, USA
25...Maria Sharapova, RUS
16...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
16...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
12...Aga Radwanska, POL
11...Simona Halep, ROU
10...Petra Kvitova, CZE
10...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
9...Angelique Kerber, GER
8...Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
8...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
7...Sara Errani, ITA
7...Garbine Muguruza, ESP
7...Francesca Schiavone, ITA
7...Patty Schnyder, SUI
7...Samantha Stosur, AUS
7...Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
6...Kaia Kanepi, EST
6...Madison Keys, USA
6...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
6...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
6...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
5...Sabine Lisicki, GER
5...Sloane Stephens, USA
[WTA slam QF in 2010's - active]
21...Serena Williams, USA
14...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
12...Maria Sharapova, RUS
11...Simona Halep, ROU
10..Angelique Kerber, GER
10...Petra Kvitova, CZE
9...Aga Radwanska, POL
9...Venus Williams, USA
9...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
7...Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
7...Sara Errani, ITA
7...Garbine Muguruza, ESP
6...Madison Keys, USA
6...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
6...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
6...Samantha Stosur, AUS
6...Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
5...Kaia Kanepi, EST
5...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
5...Sloane Stephens, USA

2005 Sania Mirza, IND
2006 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2007 Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2008 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA [Jr.]
2009 Melanie Oudin, USA
2010 Beatrice Capra, USA
2011 Esther Vergeer, NED [Wheelchair]
2012 [Brit] Laura Robson, GBR
2013 [Bannerette] Vicky Duval, USA
2014 [Girl] CiCi Bellis, USA
2015 [Kiki] Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2016 [Teen] Ana Konjuh, CRO
2017 [Jr. Wild Card] Coco Gauff, USA
2018 [Court] (new) Louis Armstrong Stadium
AO: [Teen] Marta Kostyuk, UKR
RG: [NextGen Russian] Dasha Kasatkina, RUS
WI: [GenPDQ Pole] Iga Swiatek, POL
US: [Court] (new) Louis Armstrong Stadium

1990 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1988 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
[SOUTH AMERICAN Semifinalists]
1968 Maria Bueno, BRA
1989 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1994 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1995 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
[SOUTH AMERICAN Quarterfinalists]
1980 Ivanna Madruga, ARG
1983 Ivanna Madruga, ARG
1987 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1991 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1992 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1993 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
2003 Paola Suarez, ARG
1972 Fiorella Bonicelli, URU (3rd Rd.)
1973 Maria-Isabel Fernandez-de Soto, COL (3rd Rd.)
1983 Pilar Vazquez, PER
1986 Gabriela Sabatini, ARG
1992 Florencia Labat, ARG
1993 Maria Jose Gaidano, ARG (LL)
1997 Florencia Labat, ARG
2005 Maria Vento-Kabchi, VEN
2009 Gisela Dulko, ARG

JAN: Demi Schuurs, NED
AO: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
FEB/MAR: Gaby Dabrowski, CAN
MARCH: Hsieh Su-wei/Barbora Strycova, TPE/CZE
APR: Raquel Atawo/Anna-Lena Groenefeld, USA/GER
MAY: Demi Schuurs, NED
RG: Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
JUN: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
WI: Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
JUL/AUG: Jiang Xinyu/Tang Qianhui, CHN/CHN
AUG: Ash Barty/Demi Schuurs, AUS/NED
[2018 Weekly DOUBLES Award Wins]
2 - Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
2 - Ash Barty/Demi Schuurs, AUS/NED
2 - Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
2 - Barbora Krejickova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2 - Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
2 - Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke, USA/CZE
2 - Demi Schuurs, NED

[since 32-seed draw in 2001]
2001 Daja Bedanova, CZE
2002 Elena Bovina, RUS
2004 Shinobu Asagoe, JPN
2007 Agnes Szavay, HUN
2009 Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
2009 Kim Clijsters, BEL (WC) - won title
2009 Melanie Oudin, USA
2009 Yanina Wickmayer, BEK
2010 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
2011 Angelique Kerber, GER
2013 Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
2013 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2014 Belinda Bencic, SUI
2014 Peng Shuai, CHN
2015 Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2015 Roberta Vinci, ITA - reached final
2016 Ana Konjuh, CRO
2016 Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
2016 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2017 Sloane Stephens, USA - won title
2017 Kaia Kanepi, ESP (Q)
2018 Lesia Tsurenko, UKR

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 - 2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
#19 - 2006 Jelena Jankovic,SRB
#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]
Unseeded - Lesia Tsurenko
#14 Madison Keys
#17 Serena Williams
#19 Anastasija Sevastova
#20 Naomi Osaka
#30 Carla Suarez-Navarro

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 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, Tsurenko
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Karolina Muchova/CZE (3rd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Victoria Azarenka/BLR (3rd Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: In QF: Keys, Stephens, S.Williams
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: S.Williams
VETERAN PLAYER (KIMIKO CUP): Nominees: S.Williams, Sevastova, Sharapova
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 8. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

" Last year we knocked on the door. This year we beat on it. Next year we're going to kick the son of a bitch in!"

Quote from Houston Oilers coach Oail Andrew(Bum) Phillips. Ironically, after losing to the Steelers the first two years, in which they won the Super Bowl, he made that statement, then lost to the Raiders, who then won the Super Bowl.

Sevastova was knocking in 2016, and beating in 2017. What does she have in store for 2018? Stephens should be the favorite, but if Sevastova can hang in and commit to every shot, and force Stephens to make plays, she can win this.

The clock may be the biggest barometer. If it is a 1 1/2 hr match, it is probably Stephens. If it is a 2 1/2 hr match, probably Sevastova.

Picking Pliskova over Serena. Venus lost at night, Maria lost at night, and Serena? The fact that it is a night match doesn't hurt Serena, but it helps Pliskova.

Stat of the Day-15- Number of first round losses at slams for Lesia Tsurenko.

That is out of 29. Not good numbers, but improvement can be shown in that it has happened in only 1 of her last 7.

Because of where Tsurenko is from, might as well do this comparison.

2018 Slam Results:
810 pts- QF-3rd-1st-4th- Svitolina
810 pts- 2nd-4th-2nd-QF*-Tsurenko

Tsurenko had a career high of 29 coming in, is at 26 in live ranking, and could go between 21-23 if she wins her QF? Why the uncertainty of her landing spot? Because Serena is 21, and Suarez Navarro is 22.

When Tsurenko had her heat issues, her serve went from 110 to 80. Svitolina's serve, which was already in the low 70's during crunch time, was in the mid to upper 60's this week. The Process isn't working.

Something else that might add pressure? Ukraine is a member of the Frustrating Four, the others being Austria, Kazakhstan, Estonia, in which all are 0 for the QF. In the last year, Kanepi-USO, Svitolina-AO, and Putinseva-FO, have had their chances. Tsurenko is next, following Svitolina and K.Bondarenko for Ukraine.

Osaka should be the favorite, because she is the more talented player, plus, even with the day off, Tsurenko will probably be 80%. Her mission, is to be the veteran, and hang in there, not give away free points, and see if the occasion catches up to her. Even though this isn't the same Osaka who folded against Keys, and that would make for a fun rematch, this is uncharted territory.

Tue Sep 04, 09:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, hard to wholeheartedly agree with The Process when she was actually one point from climbing the mountain (or at least the hill in front of the mountain) last year, and this year that same mountain has seemed farther and farther away as the season has gone on. It wasn't as if she needed to re-work her entire outlook after '17. It seemed more of a mental/confidence issue than a game style/training one, other than needing to improve her serve. We'll see.

Hmmm, and what if Tsurenko then becomes the first Ukrainian to a slam SF, and *not* Svitolina?

Tue Sep 04, 11:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I’m sorry that Tsurenko had auch a rough time of it because, as you say, she’ll be 80% when she plays Osaka, and she’s already at a disadvantage. I just hope she can hang in enough to make some kind of match out of it. I also hope that her 4th round experience has shown her a part of herself that maybe she didn’t know she had.i

Tue Sep 04, 12:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

It'd also be nice if she got the night match tomorrow (it's time to get Osaka there, too, since everyone else left in the draw has night session history), giving Tsurenko an extra half day and *maybe* slightly better conditions. But I suspect it'll be Keys (vs. CSN) again.

Tue Sep 04, 01:09:00 PM EDT  

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