Friday, September 09, 2011

US.12- Flushing Friday

Hmmm, did the U.S. Open actually take place today?

Pardon me for barely noticing, since the delaying of the women's semifinals until Saturday night left not only Friday's daylight hours a WTA singles-free zone, but tomorrow's similar under-the-sun invisibility will mean, when you factor in the two rain-outs, four out of five day sessions will have gone by without a single women's match being played.

And with today's main match -- the Nadal vs. Roddick quarterfinal -- turning into another of the bait-and-switch deals that the formerly top-ranked American male has presented at the slams over the last two years, even that turned out to be essentially a bust. (Seriously, Roddick jumped through all those hoops trying to get his matches played the last few days so he could get to THAT match?)

Needless to say, there wasn't much buzz going on around the corridors of Backspin HQ on Day 12 on what is turning out to be the most draaaaaawn-out Open in history.

"We have a good time together, even when we're not together." - Yogi Berra

Ah, not so fast there, Yogi.

...while the women's singles semifinals were pretty much an afterthought on Friday, we DID get our first champions of this Open. And, lo and behold, Melanie Oudin was one of them.

Back in '09, a then-17 year old Oudin took the Open by storm by reaching the women's singles (remember those?) quarterfinals. Today, she and fellow American Jack Sock completed their wild card ride through the Mixed Doubles draw by winning the final over the all-Argentine team of Gisela Dulko & Eduardo Schwank 7-6/4-6/10-8. It's the first slam career title for both, and the third straight year an all-American team has won the Open's Mixed crown.. With her win, Oudin get the "Doubles Star" award for this Open.

...with Serena still alive in the singles competition (ah, I remember it well... at least I think I still have the memory locked in there somewhere), an American can still win there, too. In Doubles, it's assured that one will earn the crown, as defending Open champions Vania King (USA) & Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) will face off with the all-American veteran duo of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the final. Huber will be looking to win her first slam Doubles title since her acrimonious break-up with partner Cara Black (they last won in Melbourne in '08), while Raymond is seeking her first slam title of any kind since she and Sam Stosur won the Roland Garros Doubles in '06. juniors, a Bannerette will have a shot at the Girls championship, too.

The juniors have been piling on the matches the last two days, and the seeds fell like flies. In the 1st Round, American Grace Min took out #2 Irina Khromacheva, while the 2nd Round alone saw the upsets of defending champ Daria Gavrilova (by the U.S.'s Victoria Duval), #4 Eugenie Bouchard (American qualifier Nicole Gibbs) and #12 Madison Keys (Canada's Francoise Abanda). #6 Yulia Putintseva ('10 U.S. Girls RU) fell in the QF to Gibbs, as well.

With the dust (mostly) settled, #1-seeded Caroline Garcia will face the Wimbledon Girls champ, #3 Ashleigh Barty, in one SF, while the other finalist will be the surivivor of the all-American semi between Gibbs and Min. This is Garcia's third Girls slam SF in 2011, but she's yet to reach her first junior slam final. The last American to win the Girls title in Flushing Meadows was Coco Vandeweghe in '08 (before that, you'd have to go back to Tara Snyder in '95).

...and, finally, in the Boys' SF, three of the final four players standing are Brits. Go figure. Could we actually be looking at an Open where the Men's, Women's, Boy's and Girl's singles titles could be won by a turn-back-the-clock-a-few-decades combination of Americans, Brits and Australians? Talk about "deja vu all over again."

#1 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN vs .#28 Serena Williams/USA
Angelique Kerber/GER vs .#9 Samantha Stosur/AUS

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #3 Roger Federer/SUI
#4 Andy Murray/GBR vs. #2 Rafael Nadal/ESP

#3 King/Shvedova (USA/KAZ) vs. #4 Huber/Raymond (USA/USA)

#9 Melzer/Petzschner (AUT/GER) vs. #6 Fyrstenberg (POL/POL)

(WC) Oudin/Sock (USA/USA) def. #8 Dulko/Schwank (ARG/ARG) 7-6/4-6/10-8

#1 Caroline Garcia/FRA vs. #3 Ashleigh Barty/AUS
(Q) Nicole Gibbs/USA vs. Grace Min/USA

#1 Jiri Vesely/CZE vs. Kyle Edmund/GBR
#13 Oliver Golding/GBR vs. #10 George Morgan/GBR

[U.S. Open]
2006 Martina Navratilova, USA
2007 Nathalie Dechy, FRA
2008 Cara Black, ZIM
2009 Carly Gullickson, USA
2010 Liezel Huber, USA
2011 Melanie Oudin, USA
AO: Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA
RG: Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
WI: Kveta Peschke, CZE
US: Melanie Oudin, USA

[recent U.S. Opens]
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
AO: Katarina Srebotnik/Daniel Nestor, SLO/CAN
RG: Casey Dellacqua/Scott Lipsky, AUS/USA
WI: Iveta Benesova/Jurgen Melzer, CZE/AUT
US: Melanie Oudin/Jack Sock, USA/USA

TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #28 Serena Williams/USA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #9 Samantha Stosur/AUS
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Alexandra Panova/RUS def. #6q Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 3-6/6-2/7-6(7)
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - Irina Falconi/USA d. #14 Dominika Cibulkova/SVK 2-6/6-3/7-5
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 3rd Rd. - #9 Samantha Stosur/AUS d. #24 Nadia Petrova/RUS 7-6/6-7/7-5
FIRST WINNER: Monica Niculescu/ROU (def. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner/AUT)
FIRST SEED OUT: #5 Petra Kvitova (lost to Dulgheru/1st Rd.)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Czech Republic (2-5 in 1st Rd., Cetkovska walkover in 2nd)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Silvia Soler-Espinosa/ESP (3rd Rd)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Sloane Stephens/USA (3rd Rd.)
IT: Nominees: V.King/Y.Shvedova, C.Wozniacki, E.Vergeer
MS. OPPORTUNITY: Angelique Kerber/GER
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominees: S.Williams, S.Stosur, L.Huber/L.Raymond
CRASH & BURN: Wimbledon champ, #5 Petra Kvitova/CZE (1st Rd./lost to Dulgheru) & Roland Garros champ, #6 Li Na/CHN (1st Rd./lost to Halep)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Flavia Pennetta/ITA - sick and nearly throwing up on court late in the 2nd set, overcomes 0-5 hole and saves 4 MP in tie-break vs. Peng Shuai/CHN to escape with straight sets 4th Round win
LADY OF THE EVENING: Samantha Stosur/AUS (two dramatic night wins, neither on Ashe Stadium court)
BROADWAY-BOUND: Francesca Schiavone/ITA (for combined '11 slam dramatic performances)
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Nominees: Grace Min, Nicole Gibbs

All for Day 12. More tomorrow (finally).


Blogger Eric said...

i know nothing about junior rankings...but if Gibbs reached 3 slam SFs this year...shouldn't she be ranked? why did she have to qualify...that seems a bit harsh...she doesn't play during the season? (is there a junior season??)


also, all the rain and weird scheduling has made me look at stats...i agree that in the couple years Caroline has definitely had an impressive resume, but according to WTA match notes, she's only had 5 or 6 wins over players in the Top 5. and out of all the former number ones, she only has multiple wins over 2 (jankovic - 3, and maria - 2). she's 1 - 11 against all active former number ones (ivanovic, williams sisters, kim, safina)...

I was going to write a whole bit about how i felt that the number one ranking should come with more quality wins...but i really examined her record over the last 3 years and she has faced top 10 players in roughly 12% of her 240 matches...winning 60% of those matches...which is not bad...

so i definitely agree she should be the top ranked player based on her consistency...but this makes me wonder if perhaps the point system should be weighted even more on the 13 major events of the year...because several of her titles have come not facing anyone in the top30...

when i watch her, i wish i could shake the feeling that she was winning the match, instead of the other girl is losing the match. i'm not sure if that makes sense...and i guess it all goes back to the definition of a forced error or an unforced caroline moving them out of position so they are making mistakes or not...

i was wondering what i would do if serena retired after the us would i have anyone i would want to follow...i guess, i might take a few tournaments to study caroline's game closer...and see exactly what she's doing to these other's so mysterious...perhaps, her biggest weapon is beating them with kindness??

Hoergren, I'm REALLY trying to like her. bc i definitely think she's a force for good...just her game is so blah...


so i was also looking at the honour roll for all past GS champs...and i thought that 2005 summed up the decade pretty well...

i like to call it the year of the comeback since serena, justine, venus, and kim all were coming back from something or another (they were nonfactors in 04)...and serena/justine/venus all fought off match points on their way to winning their slams. i also thought it was neat how they were the top 4 players of the decade and they all won "their" slam that year...

anyway...i'll stop


oh nice title, btw :)

Sat Sep 10, 01:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeppe said...

Eric, interesting comments. Stats can point in so many different directions. As a Woznut, the favorite stats I have stumbled upon over the last few days are these (note that I've been too lazy to check them):

- Caroline has won 14 of her last 16 matches against slam winners and former No. 1's.
- She is 16-3 against Top 20 opponents in 2011.
- She hasn't lost a QF match since Roland Garros 2010 (16 straight wins).
- She has won 5 of the last 10 big premier events (PM/P5).

I know it doesn't show that she plays like a No.1, but it kind of suggests that she's got more substance that people give her credit for.

Speaking of rankings, unless Caroline wins the US Open, the Top 4 ranked players will all be without a slam this year. Li Na is fifth and Kvitova sixth, but are they more 'worthy' No.1s?

Sat Sep 10, 08:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Hi Jeppe,

I checked Wozniacki's results from the last two years (2010 and 2011)...and not saying these are 100% accurate, but i used a combination of wikipedia, matchstat and wtatour stats:

- Against slam winners and former number 1's she's 13 - 4 (8 - 1 in 2011, 5 - 3 in 2010). I didn't count wins and losses against schiavone, kvitova, and li na until after they had won their slams. even if they beat them in their run to the title (2010 french - L to Schiavone), i didn't count it.

- if you throw in results against those three, her record becomes 15 - 9 in 2010 and 2011.

- she's 15 - 2 against top 20 in 2011. (17 - 2 if you count USO wins)

- the quarterfinal stat is impressive...but i don't know if it's that important...if you lose before the quarterfinals that doesn't affect that stat...

I don't disagree that she should be ranked number 1. But i question if the important events are weighted enough. but that's the system, caroline shouldn't be blamed for that.

i also don't think kvitova or li na have displayed the consistency to be number one. so no, i don't think they're worthy either. but to me, they play a more appealing game than caroline. but as i said, she's growing on me, especially her friendliness and her attitude/respect towards her peers...and i hope she continues to develop.

i mean, how can you dislike a person who is so grounded despite being so talented and successful. in terms of role models, the tour really can't go wrong with having someone like that at the helm. but in terms of flashy tennis that amazes people and draws people in because of the riveting tennis ala nadal/federer/djokovic/serena...not so much...

but that's not a bad thing. it just means that the sport will have a different following. my business mind is just wondering what impact on revenue will be like. because i'm sure that parents will love to have their kids watch/play a sport that is classy (like golf)...but in terms of television, where a lot of revenue is remains to be seen if the masses will tune in to watch caroline's tennis and the errors from all the other girls...i mean will such a gold-guilded, hazy white picture appeal to the gritty reality of the world? i mean, i don't follow golf for this reason...

i'm fearful that it will undermine the status of the WTA...instead of standing on it's might become a sideshow, if the quality of play and the rivalries don't improve.

women are equals...i mean the sport should be about athletic ability and the battle of competition. not fashion and cautious play.

i mean i think that's a big reason why serena is so polarizing. she has big muscles and competes...for lack of better term, like a man. she's aggressive and powerful. and the most condemning thing is that she trash talks like a man. and for a lot of people, that's not how a girl should be. to me, i think it's great because i'm amazed by her ability. and the tennis she can produce. (the way she spoke of her peers before 2009 always made me wince...but it wasn't unforgivable...)

anyway...back to work...

Jeppe, you're distracting me from work! :)

Sat Sep 10, 11:24:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now Eric you mention Federer and Djokovic - hrm - just watched the last 20 minutes of 1st set on Ashe. 85% baselineplay and serve. Rest was second serves with a little baseline play. In 20 minutes I saw maybe 5 netpoints. That kind of play is to me boring so I keep to the women. There is both grace and beauty to watch together with a more varied play. So Caroline keep up the good work and beat Serena - you can do it.

Sat Sep 10, 02:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeppe said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for taking the time to check the stats. You're right the QF streak is probably coincidental, but it gave me great comfort ahead of her match against Petkovic :)

I don't think anyone would call Caroline a flashy shotmaker, but to me she'll always represent an intriguing match-up against the harder hitters. And I know she looks kind of soft and sweet, but that shouldn't be mistaken for lack of athletic ability or fierce competitivenes.

Sat Sep 10, 03:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


That's a good point. Caroline definitely is fighting to win all the time.

I think what i wrote came out the wrong way...but i don't really know how to word, in my mind it's a complicated issue...anyway...looking forward to the match tonight.


I actually fell asleep during the Djoko/Fed match. yes, i guess it wasn't that interesting.

Sat Sep 10, 05:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...


Just a few (late) notes:

I think you read the Gibbs thing wrong, I was actually referring to Garcia there. Thing is, I had a typo there, too. I meant to say she was 0-3 in junior slam SF, but said this was her third one. It was actually her fourth (but she finally won one!). I said all that again in the Day 13 post.

Also, there used to be "quality points" factored into the rankings, which gave players bonus ranking points based on the ranking of the player they defeated. They took those out a few years ago. I always felt that they were a good component to include, but what do I know? :)

Sun Sep 11, 04:51:00 AM EDT  

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