WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 30, 2013) Tuesday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. included players Jack Sock, Angelique Kerber, Ryan Harrison, Caroline Garcia, Heather Watson, Eugenie Bouchard, Alize Cornet, and Sorana Cirstea.
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.
As the Premier Five tournament in Canada looms, four of the top ten women hone their skills at tournaments on opposite coasts. The resort atmosphere at Carlsbad, long a player favorite, contrasts with the urban surroundings of the national capital.
Top half: World No. 3 Victoria Azarenka has not lost a match away from clay all season. Of course, Azarenka has played only four matches away from clay since winning the Doha title in February. Walkovers and withdrawals ended her campaigns at Indian Wells, Miami, and Wimbledon, so attention will hover around her battered knee this week. Azarenka’s health may attract even more attention than it would otherwise because she faces a relatively mild early slate of opponents. An all-Italian battle between Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone tantalizes only for nostalgic reasons, and Urszula Radwanska seems little more likely than her elder sister to vanquish Vika. Among the surprises of the spring was Jelena Jankovic, a semifinalist in Miami and quarterfinalist at Roland Garros. Jankovic troubled Azarenka in her prime, but the momentum has shifted in that rivalry to reflect their divergent career arcs
The most compelling first-round match in Carlsbad will pit defending champion Dominika Cibulkova against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. Defeating Bartoli to win last year’s title, Cibulkova exploited a much weaker draw in the week of the Olympics. Still, she will bring plenty of confidence from her title at Stanford, whereas coaching turmoil once again enshrouds the Serb. The route will not grow much smoother for whoever survives that early test. Although the second round looks uneventful, Roberta Vinci could await in the quarterfinals. This crafty Italian has domianted Cibulkova on all surfaces, winning five straight from her, and she has taken her last three outdoor matches from Ivanovic. The relatively slow surface in San Diego should help Vinci outlast the heavy serve of Bethanie Mattek-Sands before then.
Semifinal: Azarenka vs. Vinci
Bottom half: Around this time last year, Petra Kvitova caught fire with a Premier Five title at the Rogers Cup and a semifinal in Cincinnati. The somewhat slower surface in San Diego may suit her game less well than those events, and North America historically has not brought out her best tennis. A rematch of her epic Australian Open loss to Laura Robson might await in the second round. Both women have oscillated wildly in their results this year, suggesting another rollercoaster ahead. A former Carlsbad champion lurks unobtrusively near eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, enjoying her best season so far. That former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, has revived her career with two major quarterfinals in 2013. An abdominal injury has sidelined Kuznetsova since Roland Garros, but she should have time to play herself into the tournament.
The fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska reached finals in each of her last two Carlsbad appearances. Disappointed at Stanford on Sunday, Radwanska wil aim to erase that memory with her second title here. She should outmaneuver Daniela Hantuchova, whom she has defeated here before, and may not have much to fear from Samantha Stosur unless the Aussie’s form improves dramatically. Little in Stosur’s dismal performance at Stanford boded well for her chances of escaping a challenging opener against Varvara Lepchenko. That 27-year-old American lefty could meet Radwanska in a quarterfinal for the second straight week.
Semifinal: Kuznetsova vs. Radwanska
Final: Azarenka vs. Radwanska
Top half: Overshadowed by the men’s event at the same tournament, this WTA International event did succeed in luring a top-10 player as a wildcard. World No. 9 Angelique Kerber has fallen on hard times over the last few months, so a dip in the quality of opposition could prove just what the doctor ordered. Some of the women who might face her in the quarterfinals exited early at Stanford. Formerly promising American Christina McHale continues a rebuilding campaign in 2013 against Magdalena Rybarikova. Her period of promise long behind her, Melanie Oudin hopes to stay somewhat relevant nearly four years after her illusory surge at the US Open.
Like McHale, Rybarikova, and Kiki Bertens in the top quarter, Madison Keys looks to bounce back from a disappointing Stanford loss. Anchoring the second quarter, she might meet star junior Taylor Townsend in a second-round preview of future matches on more momentous stages. The reeling but canny Monica Niculescu hopes to fluster Townsend with her distinctive style before then. More young talent stands atop the section in Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and France’s Caroline Garcia. These impressive phenoms must navigate around Australian Open quarterfinalist Ekaterina Makarova, a lefty like Townsend. Plenty of storylines and suspense will unfold in a very short time.
Bottom half: Building on her momentum from Stanford, Sorana Cirstea eyes one of the draw’s softer sections. Home hope Alison Riske looks to prove herself as a threat outside the small grass event in Birmingham, while Heather Watson traces the same trajectory as McHale on the long, slow road back from mononucleosis. Ending her clay season on a high note, Alize Cornet won an International title in May. But she threatens much less on hard courts and might well fall victim to the enigmatic Yanina Wickmayer at the outset.
By far the most established of the home threats, second seed Sloane Stephens faces high expectations this summer. American fans know much more about the Australian Open semifinalist, Wimbledon quarterfinalist, and conqueror of Serena Williams than they did a year ago. The 15th-ranked Stephens has produced much more convincing tennis at majors than at non-majors, where she barely has cracked the .500 threshold in 2013. Her sturdiest pre-semifinal obstacle could come in the form of Andrea Petkovic, still producing results more disappointing than encouraging in her comeback from serious injuries. A relatively minor illness may blunt Petkovic’s injuries this week, though, while compatriot Mona Barthel retired from her last tournament with a sore shoulder.
Final: Makarova vs. Stephens
(June 15, 2013) There has been plenty of great play and memorable moments at the WTA Aegon Classic, and we’ve compiled the best photos from days 3, 4 and 5 around the grounds.
Players include Daniela Hantuchova, Kristina Mladenovic, Heather Watson, Sabine Lisicki, Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sanchez, Magdalena Rybarikova, Kristen Flipkens and Ajla Tomljanovic.
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.
MIAMI, FL (March 20, 2013) — The Sony Open Players’ Party took place on Tuesday evening at the prestigious JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami with world-renowned DJ Calvin Harris spinning tracks, and as usual, the players came out in full glam and force. Check at bottom to see who our pick for “Best Dressed” of the night was! (Click images to enlarge)
As one of the first to arrive, Slovak stunner and last year’s ESPN Body Issue cover girl, Daniela Hantuchova turned heads in a flirty white summer dress.
Andreas Seppi looked cool and casual in a Euro-style shirt and v-neck black sweater.
After doing a spunky couples’ look last week for the BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party, this week Tomas Berdych and his girlfriend Ester Satarova went for opposite looks. Ester in an off-the-shoulder orange/pink find and Tomas spiced up the military cargo print in luscious satin fabric.
Sugarpova queen Maria Sharapova — who just launched four new flavors, including her new favorite “Quirky Sour!” — looked elegant in a purple floral number and matching earrings.
The fabulous Jelena Jankovic has always been known to push the envelope when it came to extravagant Players’ Party ensembles and she didn’t disappoint, looking fiery in a bright orange sheer silhouette. The aqua accents bring just the right amount of kick!
Reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka may not have had RedFoo at her side, but she didn’t travel solo either. Here she is with a mystery lady friend, with both working the camera angles. Looking fierce, ladies!
There was one power couple on hand for the Players’ Party, and they couldn’t take their eyes off each other! Caroline Wozniacki and pro golfer Rory McIlroy came hand-in-hand looking relaxed. They may want to re-check the spelling of Rory’s last name though — oops!
Elena Vesnina came out as the “lady in red” and looked every bit the part — gorgeous!
Next on the red carpet was world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and longtime girlfriend and natural beauty Jelena Ristic. A spirited Novak spiced up the simple blazer look with palm trees, and Jelena accessorized with a stunning blue suede clutch.
Defending Sony Open champ Agnieszka Radwanska turned heads in a short lacy black number and Louis Vuitton pale clutch. She has said that she loves doing her own hair and makeup and those eyelashes are out of this world — stunning!
Heather Watson may have lost in the first round already, but that didn’t stop her from glaming up her look and enjoying the evening in hot pink glasses style!
David Ferrer hit the red carpet with his other half and, as usual, they kept to their relaxed and happy red carpet style.
Janko Tipsarevic hit the arrivals line with beautiful wife Biljana, and both seemed to be having a good time even before the DJ started spinning tracks.
Drum roll, please! It’s time to announce Tennis Grandstand’s pick for “Best Dressed,” and it’s none other than Slovak beauty Dominika Cibulkova! Not only was the hair perfectly coifed, and the black dress and red Louis Vuitton clutch on point, but the heels were to die for! No, really, she could probably take someone out with those spikes! Beautifully-assembled look.
That’s it from this year’s Sony Open red carpet arrivals! Stay tuned for photos from Tuesday’s Miami Seaquarium player excursion and also match play from this week!
Players like Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Victoria Azarenka took time out of their busy schedules on Thursday evening to walk the “green” carpet at the IW Club for the annual BNP Paribas Open players’ party. This years theme? Disco. But don’t expect many disco themed outfits. As usual, the green carpet saw everything from players in jeans and sweatshirts to mini skirts and six inch stilettos. Let us know what you think of the players’ fashion.
Shifting down the Persian Gulf, eight of the top ten women move from Doha to Dubai for the only Premier tournament this week. In North and South America are two International tournaments on dramatically different surfaces. Here is the weekly look at what to expect in the WTA.
Dubai: Still the top seed despite her dethroning last week, Azarenka can collect valuable rankings points at a tournament from which she withdrew in 2012. She looked far sharper in Doha than she did for most of her title run in Melbourne, and once again she eyes a potential quarterfinal with Sara Errani. Although the Italian has rebounded well from a disastrous start to the season, she lacks any weapons with which to threaten Azarenka. Between them stands last year’s runner-up Julia Goerges, an enigma who seems destined to remain so despite her first-strike potential. If Sloane Stephens can upset Errani in the second round, meanwhile, a rematch of the Australian Open semifinal could loom in the quarterfinals. The top seed might expect a test from Cibulkova in the second round, since she lost to her at Roland Garros last year and needed a miraculous comeback to escape her in Miami. But Cibulkova injured her leg in Fed Cup a week ago and has faltered since reaching the Sydney final.
Having won just one match until Doha, Stosur bounced back somewhat by recording consecutive wins in that Premier Five field. The Aussie may face three straight lefties in Makarova, Lepchenko, and Kerber, the last of whom has the greatest reputation but the least momentum. While Makarova reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Lepchenko displayed her newfound confidence in upsetting both Errani and Vinci on clay in Fed Cup—a rare feat for an American. Vinci herself also stands in this section, from which someone unexpected could emerge. Azarenka need fear little from either Kerber or Stosur, both of whom she has defeated routinely in most of their previous meetings, so a semifinal anticlimax might beckon. Not that Doha didn’t produce a semifinal anticlimax from much more prestigious names.
Atop the third quarter stands the greatest enigma of all in Petra Kvitova, who won four straight matches between Fed Cup and Doha before nearly halting Serena’s bid for the #1 ranking. Considering how far she had sunk over the previous several months, unable to string together consecutive victories, that accomplishment marked an immense step forward. Kvitova can capitalize immediately on a similar surface in the section occupied by defending champion Radwanska. In contrast to last week, the Czech can outhit anyone whom she could face before the semifinals, so she will determine her own fate. If she implodes, however, Ivanovic could repeat her upset when they met in last year’s Fed Cup final before colliding with Radwanska for the third time this year. Also of note in this section is the all-wildcard meeting between rising stars Putintseva and Robson.
Breaking with her usual routine, Serena has committed to the Middle East hard courts without reserve by entering both Doha and Dubai. Whether she plays the latter event in a physical condition that looks less than promising may remain open to question until she takes the court. So strong is the draw that Serena could open against world #11 Bartoli, who owns a Wimbledon victory against her from 2011 but has not sustained that success. The eighth-seeded Wozniacki proved a small thorn in her side last year by defeating her in Miami and threatening her in Rome, so a quarterfinal could intrigue if the Dane can survive Safarova to get there and if Serena arrives at less than full strength.
Final: Azarenka vs. Kvitova
Memphis: Overshadowed a little by the accompanying ATP 500 tournament, this event has lacked star power for the last few years. Rather than Venus, Sharapova, or Davenport, the top seed in 2013 goes to Kirsten Flipkens, a player largely unknown in the United States. This disciple of Clijsters may deserve more attention than she has received, however, rallying to reach the second week of the Australian Open in January after surviving blood clots last spring. Former finalist Shahar Peer and 2011 champion Magdalena Rybarikova attempt to resurrect their careers by returning to the scene of past triumphs, but lefty Ksenia Pervak may offer the most credible challenge to Flipkens in this quarter.
Of greater note is the hard-serving German who holds the third seed and should thrive on a fast indoor court. Although Lisicki has struggled to find her form away from grass, she showed flickers of life by charging within a tiebreak of the Pattaya City title earlier this month. Kristina Mladenovic, a potential quarterfinal opponent, delivered a key statement in the same week at the Paris Indoors, where she upset Kvitova en route to the semifinals. Before then, though, this French teenager had displayed little hint of such promise, so one feels inclined to attribute that result more to the Czech’s frailty for now.
Part of an elite doubles team with compatriot Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Hradecka has excelled on surfaces where her powerful serve can shine. Like Lisicki, she should enjoy her week in Memphis amid a section of opponents who cannot outhit her from the baseline. Among them is the largely irrelevant Melanie Oudin, who surfaced last year to win her first career title before receding into anonymity again. Neither Oudin nor the fourth-seeded Heather Watson possesses significant first-strike power, so their counterpunching will leave them at a disadvantage on the indoor hard court. But Watson has improved her offense (together with her ranking) over the last few months and should relish the chance to take advantage of a friendly draw. Interestingly, Hradecka’s doubles partner Hlavackova could meet her in the quarterfinals if she can upset Watson.
Finishing runner-up to Sharapova here in 2010, Sofia Arvidsson holds the second seed in this yaer’s tournament as she eyes a potential quarterfinal against one of two Americans. While Chanelle Scheepers anchors the other side of the section, Jamie Hampton could build upon her impressive effort against Azarenka at the Australian Open to shine on home soil. Nor should one discount the massive serve of Coco Vandeweghe, which could compensate for her one-dimensionality here.
Final: Lisicki vs. Hradecka
Bogota: Like the ATP South American tournaments in February, this event offers clay specialists an opportunity to compile ranking points in a relatively unintimidating setting. Top seed and former #1 Jankovic fits that category, having reached multiple semifinals at Roland Garros during her peak years. She has not won a title in nearly three years, but a breakthrough could happen here. In her section stand Pauline Parmentier and Mariana Duque Marino, the latter of whom stunned Bogota audiences by winning the 2010 title here over Kerber. As her wildcard hints, she never quite vaulted from that triumph to anything more significant. Serious opposition to Jankovic might not arise until the semifinals, when she faces the aging Pennetta. Once a key part of her nation’s Fed Cup achievements, the Italian veteran won their most recent clay meeting and looks likely to ensure a rematch with nobody more notable than the tiny Dominguez Lino blocking her.
The lower half of the draw features a former Roland Garros champion in Schiavone and a French prodigy who nearly broke through several years ago before stagnating in Cornet. Testing the latter in a potential quarterfinal is Timea Babos, who won her first career title around this time last year with a promising serve. For Schiavone, the greatest resistance could come from lanky Dutch lefty Arantxa Rus. Known most for her success on clay, Rus won a match there from Clijsters and a set from Sharapova, exploiting the extra time that the surface allows for her sluggish footwork. Also of note in this half is Paula Ormaechea, a rising Argentine who probably ranks as the most notable women’s star expected from South America in the next generation. Can she step into Dulko’s shoes?
Final: Jankovic vs. Schiavone
Check back shortly for the companion preview on the three ATP tournaments this week in Marseille, Memphis, and Buenos Aires!
Our esteemed tennis photographer is currently at Melbourne Park and will be providing daily tennis galleries from the 2013 Australian Open. Make sure to check back each day for a new gallery and don’t miss the fun from down under!
January 15, 2013 — Our Tennis Grandstand photographer is back and today’s featured gallery includes Heather Watson, Donna Vekic, Tommy Robredo, Jesse Levine, Garbine Muguruza, Christina McHale, Olivia Rogowska and Josselin Ouanna.
The first day of the second round looks rather sparse in general, but we picked out a few potential diamonds in the rough. Let’s start with the ladies for a change.
Zheng vs. Stosur (Rod Laver Arena): When they met a week ago in Sydney, the Aussie suffered from a slow start, rallied to reach a final set, and then let a late lead slip away in a match of unpredictable twists and turns. Although Stosur improved on last year’s performance here by escaping the first round, her first victory of 2013 did not come without a series of wobbles such as donating an early break and failing to serve out the first set. She won fewer free points from her serve than she usually does, which could spell trouble against Zheng again. Despite her limitations on return, due to her short wingspan, the Chinese doubles specialist competes ferociously and should outlast Stosur from the baseline with her more balanced weapons. But she struggled even more to survive her opener and had stumbled through a string of losses before that upset of the Aussie in Sydney.
Venus vs. Cornet (RLA): At the 2009 Australian Open, Cornet stood within a point of the quarterfinals and a signature victory over then-#1 Safina. Match point upon match point slipped away, confidence evaporated, shoulder trouble sidelined her soon afterwards, and the petite Frenchwoman remained too mentally and physically dubious to fulfill her promise as a junior. The relatively slow court might suit her game more than the volatile, inconsistent style of Venus, but the American raised her level dramatically from the Hopman Cup while dropping just one game in the first round. By contrast, the Frenchwoman struggled to hold throughout that match, especially under pressure, so only an implosion by Venus could repeat the Suarez Navarro upset from the same Australian Open in which Cornet faced Safina.
Sharapova vs. Doi (Hisense Arena): On a late afternoon without many marquee matches, the Sharapova Show offers a decent way to end the day session. The 2008 champion has blitzed almost all first-week opponents at majors since the start of 2012, but the caliber of those opponents often has prevented one from accurately judging her form. Doi, who defeated Schiavone last year, may surpass expectations after defeating the more familiar Petra Martic in the first round. In general, though, the value of this match comes from juxtaposing Maria’s form here against what Venus shows in the night session, two days ahead of their highly anticipated third-round collision.
Pervak vs. Watson (Court 8): While Murray and Robson attract most of the attention currently circulating around British tennis, and justly so, Heather Watson may develop into a meaningful talent in her own right. The Bolletieri-trained baseliner twice has taken sets from Sharapova and defeated fellow rising star Sloane Stephens last year before finishing her season with a title in Osaka. Not lacking for durability, she won one of the season’s longest finals there and will attempt to grind down Pervak with a combination of depth and court coverage. Teenagers have excelled in the women’s draw so far, eleven reaching the second round, so this youth movement might bode well for the 20-year-old Watson.
Djokovic vs. Harrison (RLA): The Serb has won all five of their sets and looked his usual imposing self in the first round against Paul-Henri Mathieu, showing off his elastic movement and transition game at the major that most rewards it. For Harrison, who avenged his Olympics loss to Giraldo in four sets, an upset bid will require greater focus and competitive stamina than he has shown so far in his career. Typical of his stop-and-start results was a week in Brisbane when he defeated Isner and lost meekly to Benneteau in the next round. Harrison will need to take more chances earlier in the rallies than he did against Giraldo, especially on his forehand, to take Djokovic outside his comfort zone against an opponent who does nothing better than he does. As with his match against Murray last year, this meeting offers a useful measuring stick to test Harrison’s progress.
Malisse vs. Verdasco (MCA): Even in the twilight of his career, the Belgian defeated the Spaniard on the latter’s weakest surface at Wimbledon last summer. Malisse still can unleash blistering backhands when he times his short swings effectively, and Verdasco looked thoroughly human in a five-set rollercoaster against David Goffin. Both men have shown a tendency to alternate the sublime with the ridiculous, often finding the latter at the least opportune moments, but a comedy of errors could provide its own form of entertainment.
Lacko vs. Tipsarevic (Court 2): The eighth seed played his best tennis in months when he battled past Hewitt in a straight-setter closer than it looked. Ripping winner after winner down the sidelines, Tipsarevic looked every inch the elite player that he has become and could charge deep into a draw where he inhabits the least formidable quarter. He has struggled for much of his career with sustaining a high performance level from match to match, though, which makes a letdown a plausible possibility. If he does, Lacko might have just enough talent to punish him for it.
Lopez vs. Stepanek (Court 3): Aligned opposite each other are two net-rushers from opposite sides, the Spaniard from the left and the Czech from the right. As a result, the tennis might trigger memories of decades past before baseline tennis established its stranglehold over the ATP. Stepanek rallied from a two-set deficit in the first round to ambush Troicki, but a comeback would prove more difficult against a server like Lopez, who has won sets from Federer before. While the Czech has dominated most of their rivalry, the Spaniard did win their last meeting on a similar speed of court in Montreal.
Querrey vs. Baker (Court 6): The man who mounted a long-term comeback meets a man who mounted a more ordinary comeback that culminated last year when he rejoined the top 30. Querrey typically has struggled at majors other than the US Open, however, and he lost a set to an anonymous, underpowered Spaniard in his opener. If he can bomb a high percentage of first serves, Baker may not match him hold for hold. On the other hand, a sloppy effort from Querrey would open the door for his compatriot to expose his meager backhand, one-dimensional tactics, and unsteady footwork.
By Romi Cvitkovic
With the absence of Rafael Nadal giving the men’s draw a shakeup, many were expecting early upsets and surprise winners on the men’s side, but it was several seeded women who went crashing out today in the first round. Check out this and other big headlines from Day One of the U.S. Open below, including Andy Murray, Sorana Cirstea, Jack Sock, Petra Kvitova, Roger Federer, and Brits Laura Robson and Heather Watson.
Andy Murray struggles more than scoreline reveals
In what turned out to be a closer match than anyone anticipated, Murray struggled getting his rhythm early on against Alex Bogomolov, Jr. with four breaks of serve to start the match. He eventually prevailed 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, but his 28% first serve percentage made it very touch-and-go in the first set. He began cramping in his left leg after running down a dropshot in the third set, and admitted that he was “struggling a bit” with the wind, humidity and cramping, and needed to “better hydrate” for his next match.
Upon winning match point, there was not even the hint of contentment in his demeanor, and it was obvious he was not satisfied with the way he played. If he expects to go far, he’ll have to get his mental game in order … and drink more fluids.
Jack Sock outplaying his No. 243 ranking
Defending US Open mixed doubles champion, 19-year-old Sock almost had the biggest win of his career, but instead he’s into the second round when his opponent No. 22 seed Florian Mayer retired due to dizziness, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2 ret. Breaking the typically hard-hitting Mayer with his immense serving, Sock bombed his fastest serve at 134 MPH, and hit 34 winners to Mayer’s 8. Mayer was clearly not on top of his game, but Sock did everything right: held his serve, approached the net, and won several Hawkeye challenges in a row.
I had Sock as my “upset of a seeded player” pick last week, even venturing so far as to say he could easily make the third or fourth round. That seems to be all reality now instead of a distant vision.
Giant-killer Sorana Cirstea stuns Sabine Lisicki
If you know women’s tennis, it’s really not that big of a stretch to see Cirstea win this matchup. For those not familiar, Cirstea took out several top players this year already: world No. 7 Sam Stosur in the first round of the Australian Open, No. 11 Marion Bartoli in Madrid, and No. 8 Na Li in the second round of Wimbledon. The 22-year-old Romanian seems to do her best damage at Slams, but has failed to capitalize on the US Open — her best showing being the third round back in 2009. With the surprise takedown of Julia Goerges by Kristyna Pliskova today, Cirstea’s 1/8 has opened wide up, giving her a clear path to a fourth round matchup against No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka.
Roger Federer gives Donald Young some space
In what was supposed to be a straight-forward opener for Federer, the Swiss Maestro allowed Young to win nine games. It’s unacceptable for a guy that only recently broke a 17-match winning streak to take more than the equivalent of one set from the “King of Tennis.” Sure, it’s just the first round and players tend to have the worst nerves then because anything can happen, but Young won 39% of all points played! Federer needs to stop these shenanigans and get it into gear next round. Oh, and Federer is now 22-0 for all US Open night matches played. No pressure.
Petra Kvitova burning out
Not a fan of the humidity of North America, Kvitova recently got a new inhaler and it seemed to be doing the trick for the summer hardcourt season: Montreal title, Cincinnati semifinals, and New Haven title over the weekend. But all the tennis and travelling has been catching up to her, as she was forced to a first set tiebreak against No. 65 Polona Hercog which she barely won. With her movement and energy clearly hampered, she would be lucky to make it to the fourth round against Marion Bartoli. And don’t even think about seeing Sharapova in the quarterfinals. Sorry.
Young British women split successes
The younger of the two, Laura Robson, hit a bit of luck as she drew 17-year-old newbie Samantha Crawford in the first round. Her compatriot Heather Watson, however, drew world No. 8 Na Li. Robson struggled with her serve hitting under 50% and only converted on three-of-nine break points. But she used grit and prevailed in the second set tiebreak finally winning 6-3, 7-6(6). Watson wasn’t so lucky. Li came out firing on all cylinders, keeping Watson to only five total games. The take-away from both British youngster? There’s still time to develop, but those serves are really hindering you. Robson will get her reward in the form of a second round matchup with Kim Clijsters.
Venus Williams career ender? Is Madison Keys the new American star? Roger Federer to break an old record – The Friday Five
By Maud Watson
Potential Career Ender
In one of the more unfortunate pieces of news to make headlines this year, Venus Williams announced that she has been diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, which subsequently forced her withdrawal from the US Open. The positive for Venus, as she herself stated, is that now that she has a correct diagnosis, she can begin proper treatment to keep the disease in check. But there’s little doubt that she is facing a bit of an uphill battle, and despite her statement that she plans to work on returning to the courts, many are correct to wonder if she will in fact make any significant return to the game. She hasn’t been a major factor in awhile, even when healthy, and you never really feel that she can flip the switch quite like little sister Serena. Couple that with her age, previous injury layoffs, and it has to be said, a general lack of interest and focus at times, and you really have to wonder if the drive is still there to come back and have any type of impact in the sport. Hopefully she will find a way back and potentially serve as an inspiration to others with similar health problems, but with the other irons she has in the fire, it would be understandable if she didn’t. Either way, we wish her the best.
On the Horizon?
With so many of America’s top tennis talents being on the latter end of their careers, anxious U.S. fans have desperately been searching for their next generation of stars. Though it’s still a little too early to tell, results this summer, and in particular at the US Open, seem to suggest that a handful of young stars may have arrived. Jack Sock is suddenly making some noise, and despite his crashing out in the opening round to Cilic, Ryan Harrison has also shown some promise (though he needs to get out of his own way in regards to that temper). But the women’s side seems to be showing even more promise. Young 16-year-old Madison Keys nearly found herself in the third round of the Open had nerves not foiled her impressive play against the seeded Lucie Safarova. A little bit more big match experience, and this tennis talent is sure to go places. But the most impressive of the bunch may just be Christina McHale. The teen upset No. 1 Wozniaki in Cincinnati earlier this summer, and she’s followed that up with an upset of No. 8 seed Bartoli in New York. She’s learned a lot from the meltdown she had at 5-0 up against Errani at this year’s French, and fans shouldn’t be surprised to see her soon surging toward the upper echelons of the WTA. For the first time in awhile, American tennis has something to cheer about.
One to Watch
Well, there isn’t exactly a group of them like with the Americans, and their drought for success has lasted longer, but the Brits may have another legit player to cheer on for years to come. Her name is Heather Watson. Watson already raised some eyebrows during the grass court swing earlier this season, but she showed something in her opening round loss in New York to Maria Sharapova has well. Granted, Sharapova helped the cause by making numerous unforced errors, but you have to give Watson credit for a lot of that. She exhibited great anticipation skills, moved the ball around the court beautifully, and showed that she had the ability to inject a variety of shots over the course of any given point. She also seemed to possess solid composure throughout the bulk of the match. If she finds a way to get a little more pop on the serve and groundies, along with some more big match experience, she just might prove to be one of the answers British tennis has been searching for.
He hasn’t made headlines with nearly the same frequency as he has in previous years, but Roger Federer moved one step closer to being top dog in yet another historical category with his win over Dudi Sela. His second round win put him in second place alone behind Jimmy Connors’ number of 233 for most wins in a major (Federer was previously tied with Andre Agassi). Barring a major injury layoff, Federer will more than likely pass Connors next year. That in and of itself is a historical achievement, but considering how many years Connors played to amass that total, it makes Federer’s achievement that much more remarkable. Well done, Maestro!
Serena Williams may have looked good on the court this summer, but her US Open press conference left much to be desired. As Serena didn’t play the Open in 2010, it was only natural that she was going to be asked about the infamous tirade that ended her singles campaign there in 2009. Her response to the questions? That she hadn’t really thought about it, that people thought she was “really cool” afterwards, and that as it’s two years after the fact, she can’t see why people haven’t moved on. For sure, how much of that was said in all seriousness and how much in sarcasm is unknown, but either way, it was a poor effort on her part, especially given how shoddy her apology for the incident was back in 2009. A simple but sincere admission of wrongdoing and vow to do a better job of keeping her emotions in check would have gone a lot further towards helping people let go of the incident.