Saturday, May 30, 2015

RG.7- Tennis As She Is Taught *

This is how she does it. And not only to Vika.

Sporting pink shorts and the same look that made her a champion a few years ago, for a time on Day 7 Victoria Azarenka more than resembled the bouncy, confident player who won multiple slams, reached #1 and (briefly) became the only player who truly seemed capable of becoming an honest-to-goodness challenger to Serena Williams, even when the American was close to top form. In fact, she WAS that player Rediscovered, polished and unleashed upon the Parisian landscape like an escaped -- and famished -- lioness looking for a meal.

For a set and a half, Vika feasted on the still-thriving lifeforce of Williams. While the #1-seed wasn't her sometimes-elite self -- they just shut down the tournament early and hand her the check when that happens -- she was hardly a shadow of her nineteen slam-winning self, either. It was like it was 2013 in North America again. For that was inarguably the high water mark for Azarenka in her career series with Serena. She defeated Williams in two finals that summer, and nearly claimed a third. At the time, their meetings were the most anticipated matches on the WTA tour, before an injury-riddled '14 campaign saw Azarenka's ranking slip and put her in her current role of challenger rather than the something-close-to-equal-footing position she inhabited two years ago.

But while Azarenka has had success against Williams in the past, the specter of "Serenativity" -- the ability of Serena, with varying levels of fierceness, to call upon her all-time talent to win ANY match, whether she be in blisteringly dominant form, or in the mode of surging forward until something "clicks" -- arriving at the last moment to save the day has always a factor. Williams came into today's match with a 15-3 record against Azarenka, but with her Belarusian opponent having lost multiple matches against her that were seemingly within her grasp. Often, it's happeend on Azarenka's favored hard court. In 2009 in Melbourne, heat illness forced a retirement from a match Vika was leading. A year later in Australia, she failed to close out a match in which she led 6-4/4-0. In the 2012 U.S. Open final, Azarenka served for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd, but still lost. Just a few weeks ago on the clay in Madrid, she served for the match and held triple match point. A few double-faults later, Vika had lost twelve of thirteen points and Serena advanced.

But as they met in the 3rd Round in Paris, Azarenka seemed to have put Madrid behind her. Her 2015 issues with closing out matches after her return from injury -- which popped up right out of the gate when she lost a match to Karolina Pliskova in Brisbane after having held two MP -- weren't evident through the first two rounds at Roland Garros. She finished off both her wins on her first match point, while Williams had struggled to pull away from #105 Anna-Lena Friedsam in notching her 2nd Round victory.

But Serena is never more dangerous than when she's backed into a corner, and Azarenka learned that lesson today. Yet again. But she also learned that she's close to getting back to where she wants to be. Also, once again.

In the 1st set, there was no "fuzzy math" in Azarenka's performance. She was aggressive and focused, with her return game in top form and her groundstrokes keeping Williams at bay. She broke Serena in her first service game of the day then, after having given the break back, got another to lead 4-2. With the old gleam in her eye, she held for 5-2 with a wide serve and volley put-away combination that forced Williams to implore herself ("Come on, Serena!) to get things into gear before it was too late. Williams held serve to force Azarenka to serve things out. She did, winning the set 6-3.

Williams was even more solid and aggressive early in the 2nd set, but Azarenka maintained her position. She crushed a crosscourt backhand return, and Williams' replay went long as Vika got another break to take a 2-1 lead. Azarenka got to within 30/30 on Williams serve in game #5, but Serena got the important hold for 3-2. A game later, Williams yanked a backhand return wide, then sailed a forehand return as Azarenka held to lead 4-2.

Serena wasn't going away, but Vika needed to only hold twice to win. Easier said that done.

Ever so slightly, Azarenka blinked and kept Williams in the match, turning a tight game in Serena's favor and then shooting a shot long to deliver a break that knotted the score at 4-4. Then what may have been the point of the match -- or at least it'll be the one we'll see replayed quite a bit the next time these two play -- changed everything. Briefly, and then for the rest of the match. Serving down 4-5, Azarenka faced a set point. During a rally, her shot landed deep in the right corner of the backcourt. Williams' swung at the ball, sending it into the net. A split second after Serena had struck the ball, the linesperson had called the ball out. As chair umpire Kader Nouni checked the mark -- the ball was actually in -- Serena argued that the late call had interrupted and affected her shot.

Nouni ruled that the point would be replayed. But Azarenka was having none of it, as she and Williams had a brief exchange that ended when Vika incredulously waved her hand and walked back to the baseline. Still down SP, Azarenka served again and ended up losing the point as Williams evened up the match by winning the 2nd set 6-4.

"When angry, count four; when very angry, swear."
- Mark Twain

Still testy about Nouni's ruling, Azarenka walked to the changeover area and cursed loudly as she looked in the players box. She was given a code violation.

After a bathroom break between sets, Azarenka channeled her anger into another good start. She quickly went up love/40 on Williams' serve, and took the lead on a Serena double-fault. Vika held for 2-0 and it seemed that it was a "game on" moment. But it didn't turn out that way.

Because that's when the "Serenativity" set in. Williams turned things on, while Azarenka belatedly hung onto the bad call at the end of the 2nd, becoming more and more distracted any time she disagreed with any additional calls. Williams quickly got back on serve, then took the lead when Vika shot a forehand long to give Serena a break lead at 4-2. With another potential win over Williams slipping away, Azarenka's frustration grew. After narrowly missing a shot, she flailed at a bouncing ball, framing it and sending it into the stands. Meanwhile, Serena's confidence grew. She was the lioness now, and Vika was her prey.

It didn't last much longer. Williams swept the final six games of the match, winning 3-6/6-4/6-2 in a little over two hours,

While Serena, having faced down possibly the biggest challenge she'll face before a possible semifinal meeting with Petra Kvitova (who defeated her in Madrid, Williams' only loss in '15), is now the first woman to garner fifty match wins at all four slams in the Open era. She now moves forward in search of career slam #20. Meanwhile, Azarenka will have to resume fighting her way back up the rankings on the grass, with an eye on the summer hard court season where she has so often thrived in the past.

She didn't win this match, and stated that she and Serena "have no air to clear" after their on-court disagreement, but Vika is clear on her current path.

Azarenka is close to being "close to equal" with Williams again. To be continued. Maybe in New York. If we're lucky.

...earlier in the day on Saturday, none of the other seven 3rd Round women's matches even went three sets.

#4 Petra Kvitova finally had an day where she didn't have to sweat out the result, defeating #30 Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3/6-2. She'll face #28 Timea Bacsinszky, who hasn't given up hope of adding a "Queen of Clay" crown to the "Queen of Mexico" one she claimed earlier this year. She defeated #16 Madison Keys 6-4/6-2 to reach her first career slam Round of 16.

"How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it." - Mark Twain

There was the possibility of an all-German 4th Round match-up two days from now, but only unseeded Julia Goerges held up her end of the deal, reaching her second 2015 slam Round of 16 with a 6-4/6-1 win over Irina Falconi. She would have faced countrywoman and '14 RG semifinalist Andrea Petkovic next, but the #10 seed lost to #17 Sara Errani as the Italian avenged her QF loss to Petko in Paris a year ago with 6-3/6-3 win this time out. the Section That Time Forgot, the emerging quarterfinalist will be ranked outside the Top 90.

#93 Alison Van Uytvanck eliminated Kristina Mladenovic (Alize Cornet... your "Last Pastry Standing") 6-4/6-1, while there's still a chance that a non-Simona Swarmette will reach a quarterfinal, as #100 Andreea Mitu continued her remarkable run in Paris after having entered without a main draw win at a major in her career.

Mitu, 23, ended the electric run of Francesca Schiavone, winning 7-5/6-4. The 35-year old Italian had led 4-1 in the 1st set, and served at 5-3 before dropping her serve three straight times to lose the set. Mitu broke her a fourth straight time to start the 2nd. After giving back the break in game #6, the Romanian got another in game #9 to give herself a chance to serve out the match. After saving a break point, she won on her third match point.

Mitu has had a quite a year, and it wasn't even SUPPOSED to happen at all. As noted in "The Beginners Guide to Andreea Mitu", the Swarmette planned to retire at the end of last year's grass court season, having missed seven months with shoulder tendonitis earlier in '14 and having problems with her mind, game and finances. But then she made a qualifying run at Wimbledon, and suddenly had great success on the ITF circuit, winning four post-SW19 titles last summer. This season, she's won her first main draw WTA match, broke into the Top 100, pulled off a tie-turning win over Genie Bouchard in Fed Cup for her first Top 10 win and then made this RG run, which included a come from behind win over #12 Karolina Pliskova in the 2nd Round. Now she has a win over a former slam champ, too. the day's other 3rd Round match, Sloane Stephens had another drama-free afternoon, never losing control of the momentum of her match (though she WAS broken when serving for the match up 5-0 in the 2nd) and eliminating Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4/6-1. She'll next face Serena in their fourth meeting since Stephens upset Williams in the QF of the 2013 Australian Open. Just last week in Strasbourg, Stephens reached her first tour singles semifinal since that run in Melbourne, so might that be a good omen for her in the Round of 16 match?

2013 Brisbane QF (H) - Williams 6-4/6-3 ("disrespectful")
2013 AO QF (H) - Stephens 3-6/7-5/6-4 (1st younger US to beat)
2013 US 4th (H) - Williams 6-4/6-1 (post-Twitter/ESPN Magazine)
2015 IW 4th (H) - Williams 6-7(3)/6-2/6-2
2015 Madrid 2th (C) - Williams 6-4/6-0
2015 Roland Garros 4th (C) - ??

Fact is, she's a huge underdog now that Serena has seemingly gotten into something of a groove in this event. But it is on clay... so maybe Stephens has a SMALL shot. But she only got four games off her in Madrid a few weeks ago.

At least she's learned something through experience... doubles, Chan Yung-Jan & Zheng Jie won their match today to reach the Round of 16. They were all smiles afterward...

But it might not stay that way, since they'll face off against each other with different partners in the Mixed QF.

Other doubles winners included Makarova/Vesnina, Mattek-Sands/Safarova and Dellacqua/Shvedova. But Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic lost to the all-vet pair of Daniela Hantuchova/Samantha Stosur, while the SuperVet duo of Kimiko Date-Krumm & Francesca Schiavone lost to Michaella Krajicek & Barbora Strycova.

In Mixed, Martina Hingis & Leander Paes lost to Katarina Srebotnik & Horia Tecau in a 10-6 match tie-break.

...The junior draws have been released. Here are the girls seeds:

1. Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
2. Xu Shilin, CHN
3. Katerina Stewart, USA
4. CiCi Bellis, USA
5. Dalma Galfi, HUN
6. Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN
7. Usue Arconada, USA
8. Katie Swan, GBR (AO finalist)
9. Gabriela Ruse, ROU
10. Tereza Mihalikova, SVK (AO champ)
11. Sonya Kenin, USA
12. Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP
13. Miriam Kolodziejova, CZE
14. Anna Blinkova, RUS
15. Julieta Estable, ARG
16. Anna Kalinskaya, RUS

#1 Vondrousova d. #5 Galfi
#6 Robillard-Millette d. #14 Blinkova
#9 Ruse d. #13 Kolodziejova
Bolsova d. Andreescu
#1 Vondrousova d. #6 Robillard-Millette
Bolsova d. #9 Ruse
#1 Vondrousova d. Bolsova

...for what it's worth. The Czech Maiden has been the most in-form junior this spring, with CRM a close second.

...LIKE FROM DAY 7: Ummm, Roger who?

..."DAY OF THE WAFFLE" FROM DAY 7: Sometimes you find the real danger in the oddest places.

...LIKE FROM DAY 7: Ipek Soylu... doing her best Sania impression?


A photo posted by Ipek Soylu (@ipek_soylu) on

...DISLIKE FROM DAY 7: Here's a thought: why not include the first names and nations of players on the actual draw pages shown on the Roland Garros website rather than force visitors to clink on yet another link to go to yet another page that includes such relevant information? That "redesign" has so many things that it doesn't need, as well as missing so many things that it should.

The Wimbledon and U.S. Open sites should be improved upon based on the many complaints posted about the one for Roland Garros.

"Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain

But what are the odds of that?

..."The Nascent Ad Campaign Draws Closer" FROM DAY 7: You don't know Jack! But Born Coric does.

...and, finally, here's a mini-look at some stats involving the women who've reached the 4th Round in the top half of the draw:

#1 Serena Williams: her 4th Rd. match-up with Stephens is the first all-American Round of 16 match in Paris since 2002 (Venus d. Chanda Rubin)
#4 Petra Kvitova: this is just her second slam 4th Rd. in her last seven (w/ last year's Wimbledon title run the other)
#17 Sara Errani: she's reached the 4th Round at 7 of 14 slams. She'd been 0-for-17 before the current stretch.
#23 Timea Bacsinszky: her best two career slam results have been her last two (w/ AO 3r)
Julia Goerges: this is the first time she's reached the Round of 16 at a slam other than the AO
Andreea Mitu: her only previous slam MD appearance was last year at Wimbledon after a successful Q-run
Sloane Stephens: she's reached the Round of 16 in Paris four of the five times she's played there
Alison Van Uytvanck: this is the Waffle's sixth slam. She was 1-5 for her career before this current run. She's the first Belgian in the RG 4th Round since Henin in 2010.

The full Lists-A-Palooza for the Round of 16 follows...

#1 Serena Williams/USA vs. Sloane Stephens/USA
#17 Sara Errani/ITA vs. Julia Goerges/GER
#4 Petra Kvitova/CZE vs. #23 Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
Andreea Mitu/ROU vs. Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL
#7 Ana Ivanovic/SRB vs. #9 Ekaterina Makarova/RUS
#19 Elina Svitolina/UKR vs. #29 Alize Cornet/FRA
#28 Flavia Pennetta/ITA vs. #21 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
#13 Lucie Safarova/CZE vs. #2 Maria Sharapova/RUS

#1 Novak Djokovic/SRB vs. #20 Richard Gasquet/FRA
Jack Sock/USA vs. #6 Rafael Nadal/ESP
#3 Andy Murray/GBR vs. Jeremy Chardy/FRA
#9 Marin Cilic/CRO vs. #7 David Ferrer/ESP
#5 Kei Nishikori/JPN vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili/RUS
#14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga/FRA vs. #4 Tomas Berdych/CZE
#8 Stan Wawrinka/SUI vs. #12 Gilles Simon/FRA
#13 Gael Monfils/FRA vs. #2 Roger Federer/SUI

#1 Hingis/Mirza (SUI/IND) vs. #14 Knapp/Vinci (ITA/ITA)
Bencic/Siniakova (SUI/CZE) vs. #7 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE)
#4 S-W.Hsieh/Pennetta (TPE/ITA) vs. Husarova/Kania (SVK/POL)
#8 Garcia/Srebotnik (FRA/SLO) vs. #12 Dellacqua/Shvedova (AUS/KAZ)
#13 Krajicek/Strycova (NED/CZE) vs. Hantuchova/Stosur (SVK/AUS)
Soler-Espinosa/Torro-Flor (ESP/ESP) vs. #11 Y-J.Chan/J.Zheng (TPE/CHN)
#15 Rodionova/Rodionova (AUS/AUS) vs. #2 Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS)

x/x vs. x/x
Albot/Rosol (MDA/CZE) vs. x/x
x/x vs. #3 Dodig/Melo (CRO/BRA)
x/x vs. x/x

YJ.Chan/Peers (TPE/AUS) vs. J.Zheng/Kontinen (CHN/FIN)
x/x vs. x/x
Srebotnik/Tecau (SLO/ROU) vs. Martinez-Sanchez/Lindstedt (ESP/SWE)
x/x vs. #2 Mattek-Sands/M.Bryan (USA/USA)


A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

2006 Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
2007 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2008 Dinara Safina, RUS
2009 Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
2010 Ons Jabeur, TUN (jr.)
2011 Caroline Garcia, FRA
2012 Sara Errani, ITA
2013 [post-Vergeer WC champ] Sabine Ellerbrock, GER
2014 [Spaniard] Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2015 [Swarmette] Andreea Mitu, ROU

2008 Alize Cornet & Emilie Loit (3rd Rd.)
2009 Virginie Razzano & Aravane Rezai (4th Rd.)
2010 Marion Bartoli & Aravane Rezai (3rd Rd.)
2011 Marion Bartoli (SF)
2012 Mathilde Johansson (3rd Rd.)
2013 Marion Bartoli, Alize Cornet & Virginie Razzano (3rd Rd.)
2014 Pauline Parmentier (4th Rd.)
2015 Alize Cornet (in 4th Rd.)

AO - 2nd Rd. - Azarenka d. Wozniacki
AO - Final - S.Williams d. Sharapova
RG - 3rd Rd. - S.Williams d. Azarenka

[by ranking]
#1 - Serena Williams
#2 - Maria Sharapova
#4 - Petra Kvitova
#7 - Ana Ivanovic
#9 - Ekaterina Makarova
#13 - Lucie Safarova
#17 - Sara Errani
#20 - Garbine Muguruza
#21 - Elina Svitolina
#24 - Timea Bacsinszky
#28 - Flavia Pennetta
#29 - Alize Cornet
#40 - Sloane Stephens
#72 - Julia Goerges
#93 - Alison Van Uytvanck
#100 - Andreea Mitu
[by age]
33...Serena Williams
33...Flavia Pennetta
28...Lucie Safarova
28...Maria Sharapova
28...Sara Errani
27...Ana Ivanovic
26...Ekaterina Makarova
26...Julia Goerges
25...Alize Cornet
25...Petra Kvitova
25...Timea Bacsinszky
23...Andreea Mitu
22...Sloane Stephens
21...Garbine Muguruza
21...Alison Van Uytvanck
20...Elina Svitolina
[by nation]
2...Czech Republic (Kvitova, Safarova)
2...Italy (Errani, Pennetta)
2...Russia (Makarova, Sharapova)
2...United States (Stephens, S.Williams)
1...Belgium (Van Uytvanck)
1...France (Cornet)
1...Germany (Goerges)
1...Romania (Mitu)
1...Serbia (Ivanovic)
1...Spain (Muguruza)
1...Switzerland (Bacsinszky)
1...Ukraine (Svitolina)
[by career slam Round-of-16's]
48...Serena Williams
34...Maria Sharapova
19...Ana Ivanovic
13...Petra Kvitova
13...Flavia Pennetta
10...Ekaterina Makarova
8...Sloane Stephens
7...Sara Errani
6...Lucie Safarova
4...Julia Goerges
4...Garbine Muguruza
3...Alize Cornet
1...Timea Bacsinszky
1...Andreea Mitu
1...Elina Svitolina
1...Alyson Van Uytvanck
[w/ consecutive slam Round of 16's]
6...Maria Sharapova
4...Ekaterina Makarova
3...Serena Williams
2...Julia Goerges
2...Garbine Muguruza
[by career RG Round of 16's]
11...Maria Sharapova
10...Serena Williams
5...Ana Ivanovic
4...Sara Errani
4...Petra Kvitova
4...Sloane Stephens
3...Flavia Pennetta
3...Lucie Safarova
2...Ekaterina Makarova
2...Garbine Muguruza
1...Timea Bacsinszky
1...Alize Cornet
1...Julia Goerges
1...Andreea Mitu
1...Elina Svitolina
1...Alison Van Uytvanck
[w/ consecutive RG Round of 16's]
5...Maria Sharapova
4...Sara Errani
4...Sloane Stephens
2...Garbine Muguruza
2...Lucie Safarova
[by preseason "Grand Slam Master List" rankings]
1 - Serena Williams
2 - Maria Sharapova
5 - Petra Kvitova
9 - Ana Ivanovic
11 - Ekaterina Makarova
13 - Garbine Muguruza
14 - Sara Errani
17 - Flavia Pennetta
20 - Lucie Safarova
26 - Alize Cornet
36 - Sloane Stephens
63 - Elina Svitolina
76 - Timea Bacsinszky
77 - Andreea Mitu
unlisted - Julia Goerges
unlisted - Alison Van Uytvanck
[WTA career slam Round of 16's - active]
41...Venus Williams
27...Svetlana Kuznetsova
21...Jelena Jankovic
21...Nadia Petrova
21...Aga Radwanska
19...Victoria Azarenka
18...Francesca Schiavone
[WTA slam Round of 16's since 2010 - active]
14...Victoria Azarenka
13...Aga Radwanska
11...Petra Kvitova
11...Caroline Wozniacki
10...Angelique Kerber
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - youngest]
19 - Madison Keys (AO)
20 - Elina Svitolina (RG)*
20 - Genie Bouchard (AO)
21 - Alison Van Uytvanck (RG)*
21 - Garbine Muguruza (AO)
21 - Garbine Muguruza (RG)*
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - oldest]
34 - Venus Williams (AO)
33 - Serena Williams (RG)*
33 - Serena Williams (AO)
33 - Flavia Pennetta (RG)*
29 - Peng Shuai (AO)
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - unseeded]
AO - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
AO - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
AO - Madison Brengle, USA
AO - Julia Goerges, GER
AO - Madison Keys, USA
AO - Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
RG - Julia Goerges, GER
RG - Andreea Mitu, ROU
RG - Sloane Stephens, USA
RG - Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - 1st-time GS 4th Rd.'s]
AO - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
AO - Madison Brengle, USA
AO - Madison Keys, USA
RG - Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
RG - Andreea Mitu, ROU
RG - Elina Svitolina, UKR
RG - Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - lowest-ranked]
#100 - Andreea Mitu, ROU (RG)*
#93 - Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (RG)*
#80 - Yanina Wickmayer, BEL (AO)
#73 - Julia Goerges, GER (AO)
#72 - Julia Goerges, GER (RG)*
#64 - Madison Brengle, USA (AO)
[2015 slam Rd. of 16's - by nation]


TOP QUALIFIER: Veronica Cepede Royg/PAR
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #11 Angelique Kerber/GER
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Wang Yafan/CHN d. #15 Richel Hogenkamp/NED 2-6/7-6(7)/8-6 (saved 4 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - Francesca Schiavone/ITA d. #xx Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS 6-7(11)/7-5/10-8 (3:49; third-longest RG match)
FIRST VICTORY: (Q) Teliana Pereira/BRA (def. WC Ferro/FRA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Caroline Garcia/FRA (lost 1st Rd. to Vekic/CRO)
REVELATION LADIES: The New Australians
NATION OF POOR SOULS: United States (most players in draw w/ 17, but tied for 4th w/ just 4 1st Round winners)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP, Paula Kania/POL, Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL, Teliana Pereira/BRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Virginie Razzano/FRA & Amandine Hesse/FRA (2nd Rd.)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Alize Cornet (in 4th Rd.)
MADEMOISELLE/MADAM OPPORTUNITY: Nominees: Svitolina/UKR, Muguruza/ESP, Van Uytvanck/BEL, Goerges/GER, Bacsinszky/SUI
IT "??": (Swarmette) Andreea Mitu/ROU
COMEBACK PLAYER: Nominee: Stephens/USA, Ivanovic/SRB, Martinez-Sanchez/ESP
CRASH & BURN: #2 Simona Halep/ROU (lost 2r to Lucic-Baroni/CRO)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: #19 Elina Svitolina/UKR (2nd Rd. vs. Putintseva - down 6-1/3-0, then 4-1 in 3rd; won 9-7 deciding set)
JOIE DE VIVRE: Francesca Schiavone/ITA
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Srebotnik/SLO, Mattek-Sands/USA, Mladenovic/FRA
KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM VETERAN CUP (KDK CUP): Nominees: Date-Krumm/Schiavone (78-year old doubles duo), S.Williams/USA, Pennetta/ITA

* - a nod to Mark Twain's English As She Is Taught (1887)

...born Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910). American author, lecturer and humorist. Writer of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain's writing and large personality made him a public figure and, ultimately, an American icon. A renowned traveler, Twain entertained fans around the world with his opinionated wit.

All for Day 7. More tomorrow.


Blogger Eric said...

Today was a battle of champions' auras.

I really think that what Vika does so well against Serena is not let Serena control the pace of play. She did that really well in the first set with her play -- her returns were amazing. At the end of the second set and start of the third set, she did that with her indignation.

Serena had momentum at the end of the second set, and Vika took a bathroom break. It was a smart move. Serena started the third set slow, seemingly having lost the momentum she had built. Serena fell behind 0-40 and at 15-30, she served an ace. Serena was starting to feel her grove. Vika, again, messed with Serena's groove and challenged the ace call. Serena double faulted on the next point to give Vika the break.

I really thought these moves whether planned or not were genius. I think this ability to pull the control of the match away from Serena sets Vika apart from the rest of the field and why Vika is able to give Serena trouble.

You could ***feel*** the parts of the match where Serena was gaining control. The pace of play started to slow and it was like Serena was sucking power to herself. That was when she reeled off 4 straight games to close the second set; and then 6 straight games in the third set.


I think Sascha has helped Vika with serve placement against Serena. Serena kept looking for serves down the T today (I'm assuming that was her old strategy). Vika hit a lot of wide serves and caught Vika off guard.


Pleasantly surprised at Gracious Serena

She mentioned yesterday that "Out of all the top players, Vika gives me the most trouble."

Today in her on court interview: "I didn't think I played that badly in the first set. She just outplayed me."

"I really didn't think I was going to win today since she was playing really well. I'm just so tired of losing early at Roland Garros. I just kept fighting for every point."


Really liked the handshake between the two after the match, despite the fire.


Where are you all reading/seeing the player interviews?

Sat May 30, 09:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think they've got some press conference videos on the RG site (here's Serena today), but I haven't really watched any of those because when I've checked the most recent ones are never up so I just gave up (can't find Vika from today there). They've really made it difficult to even want to go to the site at all. It's hard to find photos, and the individual player pages don't even let you look at the match stats directly from the listing of each player's matches. (Oh, but they make sure to give you the Twitter feed of the player, though... because no one could find that without their help.)

Mostly I've just been either looking at Twitter for post-match quotes that reporters have posted and on WTA site stories that might include them.

Sat May 30, 10:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

It really sucks to see how well Vika plays and how low her ranking is. Somehow she just keeps getting very difficult draw.
Anyway if any solice in the effort, who would have know hat she can actually play well in her worst surface?

Sun May 31, 12:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, if she can keep this progress going, hopefully she can peak on her best surface later this summer. That would be great. :)

Sun May 31, 02:52:00 AM EDT  

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