Saturday, September 01, 2012

US 6.0 - The Pink Lady vs. A-Rad

In the first match on Arthur Ashe court on Day 6, it was "The Pink Lady vs. A-Rad" in the hot sun of Flushing Meadows. (You knew it was inclement because Jelena Jankovic was asking for ice bags after Game #2, of course.)

While there was an anticipation here for this one, it was an ultimately frustrating match. Neither player was able to sustain anything good during the contest, but Agnieszka Radwanska had just enough to get past the more error-prone, pink-clad JJ.

Radwanska actually opened the match with a love hold, but there were multiple breaks of serve in the early-going. A-Rad broke to go up 4-2, then saved three break points in the next game to hold for 5-2. Two games later, again, Jankovic got close to a break (getting to deuce). She missed on an open court backhand volley, then saved two set points, but a long backhand on SP #3 gave the 6-3 set to Radwanska. The set was tight, but JJ's sixteen errors to A-Rad's seven was enough to sway things to the Pole.

Jankovic saved a game point on Radwanska's serve early in the 2nd set and got a break to take a 2-0 lead. But she immediately gave it back, then was broken again to fall behind 3-2. After Radwanska unwisely attempted a second drop shot in a single point, Jankovic put the point away and got to break point. When A-Rad threw in a 68-mph second serve, JJ hit a backhand return winner to knot things at 3-3. But, again, she couldn't sustain it. Radwanska, finally showing a little in-point aggressive, immediately got the break back to take a 4-3 lead. But then it was Jankovic's turn to surge. She got the break back, then held at love. While JJ looked ready to push things to a 3rd set, A-Rad's game was reminiscent of the sometimes jab-less form she was showing before she replaced her father as coach after last year's Wimbledon.

But it was Radwanska who surged last. And best. She held at love for 5-5, then broke Jankovic to go up 6-5. She served out the match, winning 6-3/7-5 in 1:38.

It surely wasn't vintage Radwanska -- as in the player who's climbed to #2 -- on Day 6. But she didn't need to be that. How much of her recent slide has to do with her injured shoulder is unknown, but what she was able to give today was enough. Jankovic isn't her-#1 ranked anymore, either. But she DID, at times, resemble that player today. But never for more than a few points in a row. Oh, well... maybe we can expect a little more "crazy" next time.

As it is, I'm just wondering what the melon looked like that Radwanska practiced on in anticipation of this match. Was it decorated with pinwheels, sparklers and thorns to best represent JJ?

Ah, these are the things that run through a Backspinner's mind at moments like this. Bless me.

=DAY 6 NOTES= the night session, Sloane Stephens got the chance to prove whether or not she's a "primetime player." As it turns out, "Current Sloane" is not yet up to "Future Sloane's" standards.

After having lost multiple matches this season that were hers for the taking, Stephens had managed to maneuver her way through some tough spots against Francesca Schiavone and Tatjana Malek in the first two rounds of this Open. Up against Ana Ivanovic, the same player who defeated her in Flushing Meadows in '11, in the 3rd Round (the same round, too), Stephens once again found herself in the position of playing with the lead. Again, she wobbled. But this time she fell down.

Stephens solidified an early break in the 1st set to least 4-2, but was broken for 4-4 soon afterward. Serving at 4-5, she held firm, and even hit an ace on game point to stay alive in the set. She then broke AnaIvo's serve for 6-5 and served for the set. Again, she was broken. But, also again, she found a way at this Open to not let the set slip away. She won a 7-4 tie-break and the match moved forward. Ivanovic got a break late in the 2nd to take a 5-4 lead, then held for 6-4 to knot the match. So, again, Stephens was going to have to find a way to come up with her best in the tightest situation. This was her chance to take a big step in her career.

But it will have to wait.

In the 3rd, the power and aggression that Stephens showed earlier in the match was gone. She ceased being an offensive threat, and allowed Ivanovic to determine the finish of the match. Now, AnaIvo has had her own difficulties in this type of situation, so one never knows how this MIGHT have turned out. So, after three consecutive breaks of serve that had Ivanovic serving with a 3-2 lead, it's safe to say that the match came down to one game: a ten-minute, five-deuce game in which Stephens held two break points but was unable to convert either. AnaIvo held for 4-2, and it would be over soon afterward. When Stephens' tenth double-fault gave Ivanovic a BP in the next game, it was soon 5-2. Ivanovic won 6-7/6-4/6-2.

Stephens is now 0-10 against Top 15 players in her career. She's getting close, but the future is most definitely not now. Not yet.

Of course, it might have been nice if Stephens had had her coach in the stands to offer a little encouragement, since it's become pretty apparent this season that she's having trouble keeping her gameplan in order, her feet moving and her aggression up in tight situations in big matches against higher-ranked players this season. But, of course, David Mankin was too busy watching Sam Querrey's match from courtside to bother with that. You cannot help what you don't see.

(By the way, Querrey lost to Tomas Berdych after winning the 1st set... so good work there, too.)

The Tennis Channel announcers were talking about how he'll watch the video of this match later, and then have to make sure Stephens views it, too, so that she can see where she's been lacking when it matters most. Yeah, but should he have TO WATCH the video to know what happened? I'm just asking.

...earlier in the day, Serena Williams, in a rematch with the Hordette who upset her in Melbourne, looked like she was going to have another tough match against Ekaterina Makarova today. Slugging it out, they were tied 4-4 in the 1st. But once Serena took the final two games of the set, Makarova was ready to go home (and prepare for her next match -- see below). She lost the match's remaining six games, too, as Williams won 6-4/6-0 to advance to her twelfth U.S. Open Round of 16 in her last twelve appearances.

In the only real "upset" on the women's side -- and, really, it's not THAT big -- Andrea Hlavackova took out #23-seed Maria Kirilenko 5-7/6-4/6-4 to reach her first slam 4th Round. Also, #20 Roberta Vinci defeated #13 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2/7-5 to reach her second straight slam Round of 16.


NUMBER OF DIFFERENT NATIONS REPRESENTED: thirteen. Nations with more than one: Russia (2), the Czech Republic (2) and Italy (2).

FIRST-TIME SLAM ROUND OF 16ers: Andrea Hlavackova, Laura Robson & Anna Tatishvili. Robson had two main draw slam wins in her career before this Open, but has notched two wins over the likes of Clijsters and Li in the last few days. Sheesh.

PLAYERS WHO'VE REACHED THE ROUND-of-16 AT ALL FOUR 2012 SLAMS: Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova & Maria Sharapova

GOOGLE MAP AWARD: Tsvetana Pironkova has reached her first Round of 16 at any slam other than Wimbledon. In fact, even before she won today, she'd already reached her first 3rd Round at any slam other than Wimbledon. Maybe she's been catching BBC America in her hotel room at nights? I'm sure she's a "Doctor Who" fan.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Serena Williams' 40th grand slam Round-of-16 ties her with Venus for the most by any active women.

WELCOME BACK X 4: the only women to repeat their 2011 U.S. Open 4th Round results are three of last year's semifinalists -- Serena, Sam Stosur and Angelique Kerber -- and Ana Ivanovic.

LEAVING ANNA & ANABEL IN THE DUST?: Roberta Vinci has matched her career-best slam result, a mark she just set at this year's Wimbledon. So, again, she's one win away from never having to worry about joining Anna Smashnova and Anabel Medina-Garrigues as the only women with 10+ tour singles titles (Vinci has 7) but no slam quarterfinal results.


college football's opening weekend. Sure, I like to watch the games, but it also means ESPN2 is otherwise occupied on this middle weekend, and Tennis Channel gets to broadcast the night session. So, Martina Navratilova in primetime! Never a bad thing. (Well, I'm at least trying to just forget about the whole "Dancing with the Stars" thing.)


as much as I've often blanched at the over-the-top attention usually given James Blake at this event over the years, I DO wish his match with Milos Raonic had been scheduled for the night session tonight rather than the Mardy Fish/Gilles Simon contest.

And to continue to theme, once again, defending champ Samantha Stosur is still being kept away from the night session -- and, tomorrow, Arthur Ashe Stadium, as well. Even with her ultra-interesting match with Laura Robson up on Sunday. Sharapova/Petrova (not a shock, it IS Maria) gets the night session slot, while Stosur/Robson is third-up... on Armstrong. Nothing against Vika, but her late-in-the-day-session match tomorrow with Tatishvili has no business being on Ashe when the FAR better alternate is staring the organizers right in the face.

I'm not sure what Sam has to do to get a little attention. Or Robson. I mean, I'd say, "win the tournament," or "pull off the two biggest wins of the tournament." But, you know... they've ALREADY done that. But, of course, such scheduling might work in Stosur's favor... just like last year.

...????? FROM DAY 6:

all right, all right. Enough already. Be professionals, people, and stop literally breaking down on air because a player is retiring. Geez, it's enough to bring some old-school bashing of Barbie-loving media members back out into the light. Then again...

...and, finally, it's over. Really most sincerely over. On Court 17 this evening, Kim Clijsters and Bob Bryan lost their 2nd Round Mixed Doubles match to Ekaterina Makarova & Bruno Soares, ending Barbie's MVP-worthy career. After dropping the 1st set, Clijsters and Bryan won the 2nd to force a deciding tie-break (to 10 points). They actually took a 3-0 lead, but after Clijsters failed to hold back-to-back service points, the momentum changed. As Bryan played tentatively, Soares was the best player on the court. He and Makarova stormed back to take a 5-3 lead. Two Soares aces gave him and his partner a 7-4 edge. Soon, they reached match point at 9-6.

Then things got interesting. Clijsters and Bryan saved three straight MP, then a fourth on a beautiful crosscourt backhand lob from Clijsters to get to 10-10. But when she missed a down the line forehand that would have given her and Bryan a MP, the end was near. On the 5th MP, Clijsters neted a forehand return and that was it. Makarova/Soares won 6-2/3-6/12-10.

Addressing the assembled crowd (after Bryan apologized to KC for not being able to help her extend her career), Clijsters noted how she hadn't cried during this whole farewell experience at this Open. And she didn't choose now to change that, either. She's happy her career is over, and ready for what comes next. There won't be any gnawing feeling in a few years that she has some unfinished business. Not like last time. Not after 2.0 changed everything.

As she was signing autographs alongside of the court, I remembered the great scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird." To paraphrase, a voice in my head said, "stand up... Kim Clijsters is passing."

And so I did. I guess that makes me Scout.

The final "Dear Kim" letter -- the second, or third, depending on how you count things up -- will show up in this space soon. It'll be the last... and then that will be that.

#1 Victoria Azarenka/BLR vs. Anna Tatishvili/GEO
Laura Robson/GBR vs. #7 Samantha Stosur/AUS
#3 Maria Sharapova/RUS vs. #19 Nadia Petrova/RUS
#11 Marion Bartoli/FRA vs. #5 Petra Kvitova/CZE
Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL vs. #12 Ana Ivanovic/SRB
Andrea Hlavackova/CZE vs. #4 Serena Williams/USA
#6 Angelique Kerber/GER vs. #10 Sara Errani/ITA
#20 Roberta Vinci/ITA vs. #2 Agnieszka Radwanska/POL

#1 Roger Federer/SUI vs. xx
#11 Nicolas Almagro/ESP vs. #6 Tomas Berdych/CZE
#3 Andy Murray/GBR vs. #15 Milos Raonic/CAN
#12 Marin Cilic/CRO vs. Martin Klizan/SVK
xx vs. xx
xx vs. xx
xx vs. xx
xx vs. xx

[U.S. Open]
2008 Serena Williams (W)
2009 Serena Williams (SF)
2010 Venus Williams (SF)
2011 Serena Williams (RU)
2012 Serena Williams (in 4th Rd.)
[2012 home nations]
AO: Casey Dellacqua, Jelena Dokic & Olivia Rogowska (all 2nd Rd.)
RG: Mathilde Johansson (3rd Rd.)
WI: Heather Watson (3rd Rd.)
US: Serena Williams (in 4th Rd.)

2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS (3rd Rd.)
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB (2nd Rd.)
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS (2nd Rd.)
2010 Victoria Azarenka, BLR (2nd Rd.)
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE & Li Na, CHN (both 1st Rd.)
2012 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1st Rd.)
AO: Samantha Stosur, AUS (1st Rd.)
RG: Serena Williams, USA (1st Rd.)
WI: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1st Rd.)
US: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1st Rd.)

[by ranking]
#1 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
#2 - Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
#3 - Maria Sharapova, RUS
#4 - Serena Williams, USA
#5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE
#6 - Angelique Kerber, GER
#7 - Samantha Stosur, AUS
#10 - Sara Errani, ITA
#11 - Marion Bartoli, FRA
#13 - Ana Ivanovic, SRB
#19 - Roberta Vinci, ITA
#22 - Nadia Petrova, RUS
#55 - Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
#73 - Anna Tatishvili, GEO
#82 - Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
#89 - Laura Robson, GBR
[by age]
22...Kvitova, Tatishvili
23...Azarenka, A.Radwanska
24...Ivanovic, Kerber, Pironkova
28...Bartoli, Stosur
30...Petrova, S.Williams
[by career slam Round-of-16's; career 4th Rd. at US]
40...Serena Williams (12) - AO,WI
26...Maria Sharapova (4) - AO,RG,WI
21...Nadia Petrova (5)
14...Ana Ivanovic (4) - AO,WI
14...Agnieszka Radwanska (3) - AO,WI
13...Victoria Azarenka (2) - AO,RG,WI
10...Petra Kvitova (2) - AO,RG,WI
9...Marion Bartoli (3)
8...Samantha Stosur (3) - RG
4...Angelique Kerber (2) - RG,WI
3...Sara Errani (1) - AO,RG
3...Tsvetana Pironkova (1)
2...Roberta Vinci (1) - WI
1...Andrea Hlavackova (1)
1...Laura Robson (1)
1...Anna Tatishvili (1)
AO - also AO Rd. of 16
RG - also RG Rd. of 16
WI - also Wimb. Rd. of 16
[by preseason "Grand Slam Master List" rankings]
1 - S.Williams
2 - Kvitova
4 - Stosur
5 - Azarenka
6 - Sharapova
8 - Bartoli
16 - Radwanska
19 - Ivanovic
28 - Petrova
29 - Pironkova
41 - Kerber
42 - Vinci
53 - Robson
unlisted - Errani,Hlavackova,Tatishvili

40...Venus Williams, USA
23...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
17...Francesca Schiavone, ITA
16...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
16...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
12...Li Na, CHN
12...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

[through 3rd Rd.]
15-9...Russia (Petrova,Sharapova)
10-6...Czech Republic (Hlavackova,Kvitova)
10-15...United States (S.Williams)
8-6...France (Bartoli)
6-2...Serbia (Ivanovic)
6-3...Italy (Errani,Vinci)

[Monthly/Quarterly winners]
JAN: Taylor Townsend, USA
FEB: Ashleigh Barty,AUS
MAR: Anna Danilina, KAZ
APR: Taylor Townsend, USA
MAY: Yulia Putintseva, ex-RUS (now KAZ)
JUN: Nicole Gibbs, USA (NCAA Champ)
JUL: Antonia Lottner, GER
AUG: Victoria Duval, USA
[2012 Weekly "JUNIOR STAR" Wins]
3...Yulia Putintseva, ex-RUS (now KAZ)
2...Ashleigh Barty, AUS
2...Annika Beck, GER
2...Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
2...Anna Danilina, KAZ
2...Irina Khromacheva, RUS
2...Jamie Loeb, USA
2...Sabina Sharipova, UZB
2...Taylor Townsend, USA
2...Sachia Vickery, USA

TOP QUALIFIER: #1q Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #7 Samantha Stosur/AUS
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: (WC) Krista Hardebeck/USA def. Tamaryn Hendler/BEL 7-6(9)/5-7/7-6(3)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - #6 Angelique Kerber/GER def. Venus Williams/USA 6-2/5-7/7-5
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION MATCH: Nominee: 2nd Rd. - #6 A.Kerber/GER d. V.Williams/USA 6-2/5-7/7-5 (2:45, ends at 12:20 am)
FIRST WINNER: Anna Tatishvili/GEO (def. Foretz-Gacon/FRA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #27 Anabel Medina-Garrigues/ESP (lost to Hradecka/CZE)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (four of five highest-ranked Germans fell in 1st Round)
CRASH & BURN: #8 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN (lost 1st Rd. to I.Begu/ROU -- was Open #1 seed in 2010-11; second straight 1st Rd. slam loss)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Nominee: #6 Kerber/GER (down 4-2 in 3rd set vs. V.Williams, 2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Mallory Burdette/USA & Kristina Mladenovic/FRA (3rd Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: Serena Williams/USA (in 4th Rd.)
IT: Nominee: L.Robson/GBR
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: M.Bartoli/FRA, N.Petrova/RUS, A.Ivanovic/SRB
BROADWAY-BOUND: Nominee: S.Stephens/USA, L.Robson/GBR

All for Day 6. More tomorrow.


Blogger Diane said...

I enjoyed the tracking shot of Clijsters leaving the stadium, guarded closely by security, mobbed by fans. It had a true "rock star" quality about it, but not because of any glamour or anything like that--people just like Kim. For me, that was kind of a "moment."

Sun Sep 02, 11:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

"Ladies and gentlemen... Kim has left the building." :)

Sun Sep 02, 02:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Steve Johnson's game is really cool. I'm watching him play against Gasquet and his tactics (changing direction, looping shots, powerful) should be really effective...but right when he has the shot he wants, he overpresses. But if he were to execute, he would be winning. Big upside.

Sun Sep 02, 05:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Oh...but now Gassy's reading him like a book. Johnson likes to go inside-in on his's a penetrating shot and probably got him a lot of points in college...but Gassy just sends it back cross-court and Johnson can't track that ball. I just saw them do this for 3 straight points.

Sun Sep 02, 05:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

now he's overpressing almost everything and he's rushing...

gassy's talent is making him nervous...


hope more experience help johnson get over the hump. his game is pretty interesting.

Sun Sep 02, 06:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Mmm stosur winning expected, kvitova losing not. What happened to her, with those scoreline like a major lapse.

Sun Sep 02, 09:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

i don't know if the loss could be totally attributed to a Petra Lapse. Petra might lose the plot for a few games...but she usually gets it back by the end of the match. Bartoli was making some amazing shots and didn't let her back in.

Sun Sep 02, 11:47:00 PM EDT  

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