Wednesday, June 29, 2016

W.3- Rad, Rad Go Away, Come Back Again Some Other Day

On this day three years ago, The Radwanska unleashed hell. Thus, we continue to commemorate the sacrifice of the fallen.

In this third year of remembrance and heightened vigilance, The Radwanska once again made Its lingering presence known in southwest London. One year after bringing the plague of historic heat to the grounds of the All-England Club, the malevolent entity this time used rain as Its weapon of choice on Day 3.

But, once again, It did not win. Try as It might, The Rad must never win. Together we will continue to survive.

Long live The Cause.

...the AELTC had an extra set of eyes keeping watch over the grounds on this Remembrance Day. It needed them, too.

After a day of rain on Tuesday, the Day 3 schedule was packed with potential action. From six women's 1st Round matches that were interrupted yesterday, to twelve more that had yet to finish, the 2nd Round for the top half of the draw and similar numbers when it comes to the men's side, as well. Not to mention the start of doubles play. Needless to say, Wednesday was set to be busy, busy, busy.

But the weather... or Something... had other ideas for the day.

Rain delayed the start of play, then interrupted things again after a brief early window saw just two of yesterday's interrupted matches completed and winners -- Andrea Petkovic, who'd been a game short at 5-1 in the 3rd, and wild card Evgeniya Rodina -- declared. One match between Karin Knapp and Ana Konjuh had only played a single game before they had to pack up and trudge off court. It was to be the first chapter of an afternoon in which the resumption of play on the outer courts was pushed back time and time again, no matter how much false hope to the contrary was periodically floated every hour or so.

Of course, SOMEONE was immune to such nonsense. Hardly surprisingly, her name was Aga Radwanska. Could it be that that malevolent entity that once used her body as a willing/unwilling host is flirting with a rekindling of their past relationship? Only further (nailbiting) time will tell.

In any event, Radwanska was the one headlining player that didn't have to wait for anyone today. Or anything. Fittingly, she was already scheduled to promptly open play at 1 p.m. on Centre Court on this Radwanskian Massacre Remembrance Day. When she and Kateryna Kozlova arrived, the roof was already in place for their convenience.

The 22-year old Ukrainian (#97) played well enough, but #3-seeded Radwanska was not going to lose. Some might even say it was fated to play out as such, which may or may not be "bad news" for humanity. After arriving with a 10-0 record, 20-for-20 in sets, for her career in Wimbledon 1st Round matches, Aga made it 11-0 and 22-for-22 with a 6-2/6-1 win that took 63 minutes.

As for the rest, including some real contenders, things didn't go as smoothly.

Finally, around 5 p.m. London time, the covers were off and match play resumed all over the grounds.

Enter Petra Kvitova, aka "Merciless Petra."

Yep, SHE was back today, and with not a single sign of her evil doppelganger to be found in her 1st Round destruction of Sorana Cirstea on Court 18.

As if she was trying to keep one step ahead of an evil pursuer (hmmm, did she know something?), Kvitova opened the match by breaking the Romanian. She held at love to take a 3-0 lead after just seven minutes. Eight minutes later, the Czech closed out a love set win in FIFTEEN minutes with an ace to hold at love again. In all, it was Kvitova's third love game of the set, an opening stanza in which she won 24 of 28 points, losing as many as two in a single game just once.

Cirstea played better in the 2nd set, which lasted :38. She at least let it be known that she wasn't going to be simple roadkill, as in the opening game the Swarmette saved two break points and held in a three-deuce game. But Kvitova went up 40/15 in game #5 and got the 3-2 break advantage that she never relinquished. She won 6-0/6-4 in :53, losing just two points on her 1st serve on the day and eight total points on serve. She never faced a BP, and committed just eight unforced errors.

Let me repeat that... Petra Kvitova committed just eight unforced errors. Not in a stretch of play between changeovers, either. In a single match.

It's a good thing she arrived on the grounds alone today, without any of her formidable and worrisome alter egos, since if she'd been forced to go three sets in this match she wouldn't have finished it today. Play was suspended for the day on the outer courts at 6:26 p.m. as "Our Old Friend" had the final say on the majority of Day 3 at Wimbledon. Again.

Only seven women's matches on the outer courts (w/ six men's) were completed on Wednesday, and five of those were carried over from yesterday. Only Kvitova/Cirstea and Ana Konjuh's win over Karin Knapp were both started and finished under the threatening skies.

Amongst the suspended matches completed, Johanna Konta (the first British woman seeded at SW19 since 1984) advanced past Monica Puig, while Bannerette Julia Boserup took out lawsuit-loving German Tatjana Maria in a battle of qualifiers. Konta joins Tara Moore as the only Crumpets in the 2nd Round.

Heather Watson seemed a good bet to advance to today, but after taking the 1st set vs. Annika Beck she lost the next seven games. When play was suspended today she was officially trailing in the match for the first time, with the German up 3-6/6-0/1-0. With a day to get things together, Watson may turn out to be the luckiest player on Day 3 on year after she filled the "winning for losing" role in her near-miss vs. Serena.

In another match of note, Sloane Stephens and Peng Shuai are soon set to begin a 1st set tie-break in one of the more interesting 1st Round encounters at this Wimbledon. This is '14 U.S. Open semifinalist Peng's first slam match since the 2015 Roland Garros, as she's only recently returned in singles from back surgery; while Stephens arrives sporting an impressive 20-6 season record with three titles (tied for the tour lead w/ Azarenka), though she's just 4-6 in the tournaments she didn't win.

On the final point of Stephens' game #12 service hold, the Chinese vet slipped and fell in the backcourt. She called over the chair umpire to check the grass surface's slipperyness. He rubbed his palm all over the ground, then walked back toward the changeover area while wringing out his wet hand with spider-like flexes -- I was waiting for him to wipe it on his crisp white trousers or colorful coat, but no luck... apparently, he didn't want the AELTC to take a digit of a random member's choice tonight in a post-match "meeting" -- before climbing the chair and talking into a walkie-talkie as the players covered up with towels in their seats. A few minutes later, with the rain getting heavier, play was suspended everywhere but on Centre Court.

...oh, but that wasn't QUITE all. With the rest of the courts silenced for the day, one final women's match was moved to Centre, as the schedule that started under the roof there with a Radwanska also would include a Pironkova. Of course it would.

Remember, it was Pironkova who came back after a two-day rain delay to defeat Radwanska at this year's Roland Garros in conditions that left the Pole (and maybe Something Else) more than a bit perturbed. So, I guess that pretty much assured the Bulgarian, even with a rich history of Wimbledon success, of abject disappointment on this Remembrance Day... especially with the whiff of Aga's win still floating around somewhere in the C.C. rafters.

And that's just what happened, too.

Bencic, still on her way back from a back injury that cost her the clay court season, fired eighteen winners in the 1st set, and thirty-two overall (vs. 15 UE's) in a 6-2/6-3 win in which Pironkova was never really in it. Well, at least not until she broke the 19-year old when she was serving for the match at 5-2. Bencic broke back to close things out a game later.

With the win, the Swiss teen became the second woman with three Radwanska Remembrance Day wins in her career column, joining Day 3's previous winner Andrea Petkovic.

All, but that STILL wasn't all.

In maybe a first-ever move, the AELTC pulled the uncompleted Bouchard/Rybarikova match from Day 2 -- the only one of the fourteen suspended matches that didn't even get re-started earlier in the day -- from the "cancelled" list from Court 12 and put it on as the last Centre Court match after the quicker-than-expected Bencic/Pironkova contest.

The Canadian led the wrist brace-wearing (on her off-hand) Slovak by a break at 6-3/2-1, and rushed out to a 4-1 lead, and was serving for more. But Bouchard was broken and soon found herself serving for the match at 5-4, but 15/40 down. Bouchard saved all four BP that would have tied up the 2nd set at 5-5, with the match ending in odd fashion (how could it not today?) with Rybarikova stopping play to challenge a line call on MP. The replay showed that Bouchard's ball had indeed hit a line and the match was over, with Bouchard winning 6-3/6-4. With the win, she became the THIRD woman with three Radwanska Day match wins.

And so, finally, Day 3 was over.

...there are still eight women's 1st Round matches to finish, so I'll hold off on any of the usual awards that are dispensed at this point in a slam.

Only two seeds have lost so far, and not one of the Top 22. A few (incomplete) stats of note: with one player still to play for all three nations, Germany is 6-3, Russia 6-2 and the Czech Republic 5-1. There are three Italians (w/ the Vets leading the way... again) in the 2nd Round, three Spaniards and eight Bannerettes (so far, w/ two still to finish) remaining.

On the flip side, Romania is 1-3 (w/ only Halep with a win, though Niculescu must still face Krunic), China 1-3 (Peng must finish, but so far the only win has come from LL Duan).


Let's push aside the fact that none of the ESPN commentators (including Serena Williams' coach Patrick Morouratoglou, since the network can't resist persistent conflict-of-interest issues with its tennis talking heads, even as Simona Halep's coach Darren Cahill continues as part of the team, though in a somewhat reduced capacity) seemed to have any clue that Aga Radwanska is the Queen of ANY poll, so expressing shock that she won this one so handily is just the latest example of the network "experts" really not paying attention most of the time.

But, of course, the most ridiculous thing about this poll is that, after years of pumping up U.S. players unnecessarily, now that there are actually a few players who SHOULD be included on that poll -- hello, Madison Keys... hello, is anyone home at ESPN? -- they get left off while a player about to drop out of the Top 50 (and one that ESPN commentators constantly criticized when she was #1) is suddenly included on it.

Makes absolutely zero sense, other than that they just picked former #1 and/or slam finalists without major titles. But all the recent slam-less major finalists (Safarova, Cibulkova, Vinci, Bouchard and Errani) aren't even there, and most of them may be more likely slam winners than half of the given choices. And of what interest is it to talk about players past their prime (like JJ) when it comes to winning an elusive slam, rather than who is actually capable (now or in the near future) of doing such a thing? Radwanska and Halep could possibly crossover on both versions of the list, but it's still difficult to determine what the thinking was behind this particular four-player grouping.

Well, unless there really wasn't much thinking involved. Ah, I think I understand it all now.

Nevermind, then.

LIKE ON DAY 3: On a side note, I'll give a nod to Mary Joe Fernandez for having the "audacity" to talk about Novak Djokovic going for "the Grand Slam." Not a "Calendar Slam" or a "Calendar Grand Slam," since calling it that is akin to calling a "grand slam" in baseball a "four-run home run."

What is it with MJF this season? She's suddenly making sense. On occasion, at least.

(Of course, Chris McKendry later made up for MJF's moment of clear thinking by chirping about Djokovic's possible "Calendar Slam" at the end of the day... so, as usual, what ESPN giveth it always will eventually taketh away.)

SAD FACT ON DAY 3: While we have fun with make-believe Massacres, we've already needed far too many of these sort of posts this year about the real thing.

SAD REALIZATION ON DAY 3: We can do this, but we can't accomplish so many other things.

On the other hand, that's SO COOL!

LIKE ON DAY 3: Another stat for the "The Numbers Guy," I guess. ;)


Aga would be proud.

DISLIKE ON DAY 3: That this is probably the only time ESPN and Sania Mirza will be mentioned in the same sentence at this Wimbledon until -- if or when -- she reaches the mixed doubles final and tries to complete her Career Mixed Slam, or attempts to defend the WD w/ Martina Hingis. In a bit of a shock, ESPN will actually air both the doubles and mixed finals this year.

LIKE ON DAY 3: Now if only she can maintain that thought...

"SIGH..." ON DAY 3: They can't even avoid producing almost identical promotional ads.

Although I really like the Simona one...

LIKE ON DAY 3: Hope for us all?

Because, you know, if something else had happened... well, the Threat Level would have been stuck somewhere between Panic and Eerie Silence and we might already be past the point of no return before we'd even realized what had happened.

Still, how could a movie not be made about this guy? It's got a bit of comedy, a love interest, a touch of "Rudy" and, as "Rocky" showed us, the protagonist doesn't always HAVE to literally "win" in the end. It's the journey that's the story.

Hey, and Roger Federer could even play himself in the final act.

...and, finally, on this "observed" Remembrance Day of the third anniversary of the Radwanskian Massacre of Wimbledon 2013, the particulars have been sorted out.

Essentially, the London weather served as The Rad's proxy on this day. Seventy-four singles and doubles matches had been scheduled. Forty-one were cancelled (including all the doubles), fifteen were interrupted (4 women's, 11 men's) and eighteen completed (10 women's, 8 men's). Six of the ten women's matches (and 6 of the men's) that reached conclusion were suspended Day 2 matches. So, of the six matches that both started and finished on Day 3, four of them (2 each) were played under the Centre Court roof, with just two (both women's matches -- Kvitova/Cirstea and Konjuh/Knapp) fully played on the outer courts.

So, it was quite the day of havoc. But a Radwanska (the mortal one) played and won without incident, and the damage to SW19 was largely minimized.

Hmmm, is the entity getting to be less of a malevolent force and more of a prankster in Its old age?


=2013 (inciting event)=
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
"The Radwanskian Massacre" - 7 former #1's lose, w/ 4 additional walkovers and three ret. on day filled with falls, slips and stumbles
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
First unofficial commemoration of The Radwanskian Massacre. With the Radwanskian Threat Level meter in place and all on guard and vigilent, calm prevails.
June 26 (official)
Aga Radwanska & the seagull (in Eastbourne, bird swoops at Radwanska as she serves... one day later, she loses in the singles final)
Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The hottest day ever recorded in Wimbledon history (35.7 C / 96 F), fire alarm evacuates Centre Court
June 26 (official)/Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The wet London weather rains... err, reigns. 74 singles and doubles matches are scheduled: 41 are cancelled (all the doubles), 15 interrupted and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident and, in a previously unscheduled C.C. match, Radwanska's '16 RG conqueror, Tsvetana Pironkova, loses.

2013 Radwanskian Massacre Edition (well, actually this was two days earlier...but it led to her Rad Day walkover)

2013 Radwanskian Massacre Edition

2013 Radwanskian Massacre Edition

2013 Radwanskian Massacre Edition

[multiple wins]
3...Belinda Bencic, SUI
3...Genie Bouchard, CAN
3...Andrea Petkovic, GER
2...Alize Cornet, FRA
2...Zarina Diyas, KAZ
2...Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
2...Madison Keys, USA
2...Aga Radwanska, POL
2...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Sloane Stephens, USA
2...Serena Williams, USA
[multiple losses]
3...Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE
3...Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
2...Sorana Cirstea, ROU
2...Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2...Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
2...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
[played match all four years, 2013-16]
3-1...Andrea Petkovic, GER
# - [Remembrance history]
2013: June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
2014: June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
2015: June 26 (Eastbourne) & July 1 (Wimbledon Day 3)
2016: June 26 (no WTA matches) & June 29 (Wimb.Day 3)

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: #7 Tamira Paszek/AUT d. Andrea Hlavackova/CZE 6-3/5-7/10-9 ret. (Paszek MP in 2nd, ankle injury; Paszek up 5-3 3rd; Hlavackova ret. w/ cramps, collapses onto back after match)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST WINNER: #29 Daria Kasatkina/RUS (def. Duval/USA in :51)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (lost 1st Rd. to Witthoeft/GER)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: M.Sakkari/GRE, J.Cepelova/SVK, E.Alexandrova/RUS, M.Erakovic/NZL, J.Boserup/USA
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: T.Moore/GBR, E.Rodina/RUS
LAST BRIT/CRUMPET STANDING: 1st Rd. wins: T.Moore, J.Konta
IT ("??"): xx
ZOMBIE QUEEN (TBD at QF): Nominees: #28 Safarova (1st Rd. - down 7-6/5-2, 5-3 in 3rd and saved 3 MP vs. Mattek-Sands); (Q) Erakovic (saved MP vs. Falconi in 1st Rd.; won 10-8 3rd set)
THE RADWANSKA AWARD (June 26 official/Day 3 observed): 74 s/d matches are scheduled: due to rain, 41 are cancelled, 15 interrupted and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident, while her '16 RG conqueror Tsvetana Pironkova loses in previously unscheduled C.C. match.

All for Day 3. More tomorrow.


Blogger colt13 said...

Match of the tourney-that I have seen-Nara/Brengle. If Nara brings the same level to her next match(es), she can do some damage.

Bouchard got pushed through because she's playing Konta. Also was initially surprised that Serena isn't on the schedule for tomorrow(is in doubles), but her(or McHale's) 3rd round match is in the section where Mladenovic hasn't played her first.

Stat of the Day-10- Number of titles Venus Williams has won since last winning Wimbledon. Putting this out now because I am picking Sakkari. Her backhand is a liability, but only inside the baseline. In theory, a Niculescu type should cause Sakkari more problems than Venus. With that said, Venus has pulled a Sharapova on clay, but for her it is hardcourt. 8 of her 10 titles have been on hard- 2 on clay, and she is better on that surface now than on grass. Not a shock as she was never much for tuneup tournaments. In fact, the 5 times she won, she didn't. Since? Eastbourne Once, plus the Olympics is all she has played on grass besides Wimbledon.

Wed Jun 29, 06:49:00 PM EDT  

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