Welcome back for the overview of a rainy Tuesday in Paris, where a shortened order of play unfolded.
Match of the day: The first two days had featured plenty of five-setters but no matches that reached 6-6 in the fifth set. On a non-televised court, journeymen Ivan Dodig and Guido Pella finally produced the first overtime of the tournament. Dodig deserves the lion’s share of the credit, for he trailed by two sets to one, trailed by a break early in the fifth set, and saved a break point at 5-5. Pella then escaped a situation when he stood two points from defeat and eventually earned the decisive break at 10-10.
Comeback of the day: Nobody rallied from two sets down to win, so this award goes to Mikhail Youzhny for winning three relatively routine sets after dropping the first frame to Pablo Andujar. Consecutive semifinals in Madrid and Nice had ranked the Spaniard among the tournament’s dark horses, whereas Youzhny usually struggles on clay.
Surprise of the day: Bookended by two 9-7 tiebreaks was Dmitry Tursunov’s straight-sets upset of Alexandr Dolgopolov. Tursunov had stunned David Ferrer on Barcelona clay last month to continue an encouraging early 2013, but he had lost a two-tiebreak match to Dolgopolov in Munich. The mercurial Ukrainian fell in the first round for the second straight major.
Gold star: Playing with the initials of two deceased friends on his shoes, the 20-year-old Jack Sock won the first Roland Garros match of his career. Sock knocked off veteran Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets despite his relative inexperience on clay.
Silver star: Another Spanish dark horse in the same section as Andujar, Fernando Verdasco cruised through an uncharacteristically uneventful victory over local hope Marc Gicquel. A path to the second week or even the quarterfinals could lie open for Verdasco if he maintains this form (always a big “if”).
Last stand of the day: Trailing two sets to love against much superior clay talents, Thiemo De Bakker and Vasek Pospisil won third-set tiebreaks to extend their matches. De Bakker would lose a tight fourth set just before darkness, while Pospisil parlayed the momentum into an early fourth-set lead that he will carry into Wednesday’s completion. We’re curious to see if he can come all the way back.
Americans in Paris: Counterbalancing Sock’s breakthrough was the disappointment suffered by the recipient of the Roland Garros reciprocal wildcard, Alex Kuznetsov. After he had toiled through three April challengers to earn this main-draw entry, Kuznetsov lost to unheralded Frenchman Lucas Pouille. Still, he should feel proud of earning the wildcard for its own sake rather than as a means to an end.
Question of the day: Four men retired from first-round matches in singles on Tuesday, a high number for a single day. Did the increase of prize money for first-round losers dissuade players from withdrawing who knew that they were unfit to compete?
Match of the day: A former semifinalist at Roland Garros, Marion Bartoli survived 12 double faults (not a shocking quantity for her these days) in a three-hour drama on Court Philippe Chatrier. Having propelled Monfils to victory the day before, the Paris crowd redoubled its energies to help the top-ranked Frenchwoman edge Olga Govortsova. Bartoli struck fewer winners and more unforced errors than her opponent, won fewer total points, and failed to achieve all three of the supposed “keys” that the IBM Slamtracker identified for her. Tennis is a strange sport sometimes.
Comeback of the day: None. The woman who won the first set won every match, and only two of ten completed matches reached a third set.
Oddity of the day: After rain postponed the majority of the women’s singles schedule, top-eight seeds Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova will not make their Roland Garros 2013 debuts until Wednesday, the fourth day of the tournament. Azarenka opens play on Chatrier at 11 AM after organizers had scheduled her to end play on Chatrier today.
Gold star: Les bleus may have struggled today, but les bleues more than compensated. While Guillaume Rufin and Florent Serra fell, and Benoit Paire dropped his first set in an incomplete match, Strasbourg champion Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic followed Bartoli into the second round.
Silver star: Three times a Roland Garros semifinalist, Jelena Jankovic started her 2013 campaign in promising fashion by winning a tight two-setter from Daniela Hantuchova. Jankovic saved set points in the second set when another of her tortuous three-setters loomed. Her ability to close bodes well for her future here in a year when she has shone sporadically on clay.
Statement of the day: Kimiko Date-Krumm stood little chance from the outset against the weaponry of Samantha Stosur, who bludgeoned everyone’s favorite old lady in 64 minutes. Stosur needed just 21 of those minutes to serve a first-set bagel, extending her streak of consecutive matches with at least one bagel or breadstick to four.
Americans in Paris: After the undefeated record to which they soared on Monday, Tuesday brought everyone back to earth with a salutary if unwanted dose of reality. Coco Vandeweghe and Lauren Davis each ate first-set bagels en route to losses, although Vandeweghe did swipe a set from 2012 quarterfinalist Yaroslava Shvedova. On the other hand, neither Vandeweghe nor Davis ranks among the front ranks of American prospects.
Question of the day: Could Bartoli’s victory become the moment that turns her season around?
Here’s the breakdown of matches to watch as the first round concludes.
Novak Djokovic vs. David Goffin: The baby-faced Belgian spurred a flurry of headlines last year when he reached the second week of Roland Garros and took a set from Roger Federer there. Goffin has mustered barely any quality wins since then, losing to Grega Zemlja in Dusseldorf last week. An enigmatic Masters 1000 clay season behind him, Djokovic hopes to resemble the man who defeated Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo more than the man who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid.
Nicolas Mahut vs. Janko Tipsarevic: Just about anyone has managed to knock off Tipsarevic this year, from Dmitry Tursunov to Guido Pella. Struggling for confidence and fitness, the Serb briefly slumped outside the top 10 before currently returning to its edge. Mahut has not won a main-draw match at the ATP level all season, losing to such unremarkable figures as Laime Ouahab and Romain Jouan. An ugly encounters on both sides could ensue, in which Mahut could gain strength from the vigorous show-court crowd. A second top-ten upset by a Frenchman in two days still seems like a long shot.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Thiemo De Bakker: An untimely muscle tear in Wawrinka’s thigh cast his participation here into doubt. The Madrid finalist has defeated four top-eight opponents on clay this spring, and his high volume of matches might have contributed to his injury. De Bakker should not challenge a healthy Wawrinka, so this match will offer a barometer for the Swiss No. 2’s health.
Jack Sock vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: On Sock’s shoes are written the names of two friends who recently passed away, extra motivation for him this fortnight. He will look to extend the encouraging and unexpected trend of American success here against Bucharest finalist Garcia-Lopez, less of a clay threat than most Spaniards. Big servers also have fared well here in general from Querrey and Isner to Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson.
Bernard Tomic vs. Victor Hanescu: Without his father to monitor him relentlessly, Tomic enjoys his first taste of independence. Off-court distractions should undermine his focus on his weakest surface, though, and he is still nowhere near the player outside Australia that he is on home soil.
Mikhail Youzhny vs. Pablo Andujar: On the heels of reaching the Madrid semifinals as a wildcard, Andujar reached the semifinals of Nice as well. He did not defeat anyone more notable than Gilles Simon at either tournament, but he will hold the surface advantage against Youzhny. The Russian did win a set from Djokovic in Monte Carlo before recording consecutive victories over clay specialists Fabio Fognini and Nicolas Almagro in Madrid.
Alejandro Falla vs. Grigor Dimitrov: Despite the increasing threat that he poses to the ATP elite, Dimitrov never has won more than one match at a major. Questionable fitness may cost him in the best-of-five format, or these events may expose his lack of experience more starkly. A duel with a Colombian dirt devil could test Dimitrov’s resilience two rounds ahead of a rematch with Djokovic.
Elena Vesnina vs. Victoria Azarenka: With the other top-four women’s seeds advancing so convincingly, Azarenka needs to keep pace with a statement of her own. After a 10-1 start to 2012, Vesnina has cooled off and lost in the first round at three of four clay tournaments. Azarenka started cooling her off by dismissing her in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where Vesnina lacked the weapons to threaten her. Never past the quarterfinals in Paris, Vika should conserve energy with some quick early wins in a weak section of the draw.
Petra Kvitova vs. Aravane Rezai: Three long years have passed since Rezai won the Premier Mandatory title in Madrid over Venus Williams. The fiery Frenchwoman with a fondness for flamboyant outfits has won just one main-draw match since last year’s clay season. Kvitova has made a habit of struggling at the most unexpected moments against the most anonymous opponents, so a three-setter would not surprise in this slugfest of wildly erratic shot-makers.
Jelena Jankovic vs. Daniela Hantuchova: This match struck me as the most interesting of the women’s first round, partly because of the history between them. Meeting more than once in the fraught environment of Fed Cup, the two have collaborated on several tight encounters and have played their last five matches on clay. Jankovic has regained traces of her vintage clay form by winning Bogota and upsetting Li to reach the Rome quarterfinals, while Hantuchova upset Kvitova in Madrid. Both lost to Simona Halep in the wake of those top-ten ambushes, though, showing how much they struggle to sustain momentum as they age.
Kristina Mladenovic vs. Lauren Davis: After American women posted a perfect record on Day 2, Davis hopes to continue that trend despite winning just two clay matches this year (one against Christina McHale). That task will prove difficult against a Frenchwoman who shone on home soil in February, reaching the semifinals of the Paris Indoors. Mladenovic has struggled almost as much on clay as Davis has, but she won sets from Maria Kirilenko and Dominika Cibulkova in difficult early-round draws.
Klara Zakopalova vs. Kaia Kanepi: A tireless counterpuncher with a vulnerable serve, Zakopalova has extended both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova to final sets at Roland Garros. She came closer than anyone to threatening Sharapova’s surge to the career Slam, and her retrieving should test Kanepi’s patience as well. Returning impressively from injury last month, Kanepi won Brussels on Saturday after collecting six wins at her two previous tournaments. To continue defending her quarterfinal points, she will need to take control of rallies immediately with serve and return.
Jamie Hampton vs. Lucie Safarova: The small American won three consecutive three-setters over higher-ranked opponents, including Roberta Vinci, to earn a semifinal berth in Brussels. Limited in her clay experience, Hampton attracted international attention by severely testing Azarenka in the first week of the Australian Open. Flaky Czech lefty Safarova also arrives with momentum after winning her home challenger in Prague and taking a set from Sharapova in Stuttgart.
By Jane Voigt
MIAMI, FL (March 24, 2013) — How does a tournament fare when it loses star power? Sure, Venus Williams is out, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were never in, and Juan Martin del Potro lost early. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see here at Sony Open Tennis, where a slew of story-lines and drama played out today.
Case in point: American and “Lucky Loser” Lauren Davis.
Davis’ chance to play in the main draw of the Sony Open Tennis finally materialized, as luck would have it, a couple of days ago. In her three previous appearances in Miami, Davis lost in qualifications with her first attempt coming in 2010 when she was ranked No. 896 in the world.
But when the No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka withdrew with an ankle injury the day of her second round opener (as a seed, Azarenka had a bye in the first round) on Friday, Davis jumped all over what many would call fate or a godsend. For Davis the green light was an obvious invitation to swing out.
Up against her friend and fellow American teen, Madison Keys in the second round, Davis fought through to a win taking the dramatic third-set tiebreak 9-7. Her victory came the same day as Jamie Hampton, another team America player lost her third-set tiebreak to Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, the No. 20 seed.
Davis had landed on the high plain and awaited Alize Cornet of France, the tournament’s 32nd-seed, in the third round.
With Cornet at 23 years old and Davis at just 19, both young women had a lot riding on their match today. Davis, ranked No. 81, continued to feel the breezes of a breakthrough and wanted nothing more to move on in the draw. Cornet aimed to sustain her upward trend in the rankings, which peaked in February 2009, at world No. 11, and fell to a low of No. 89 in 2011.
However, Lauren Davis’ luck ran out today. On fire from the first game and throughout the first set, Davis completely overwhelmed Cornet. Davis blasted winners off first serves and smacked backhands with the conviction of a champion. The match would certainly go her way, at least that was the vibe a predominantly American audience exuded.
Both women hunkered down as rallies lengthened, with fan murmurs rising as each stroke popped inside the small stadium and an anticipation became palpable. Who would make the error, the gusty winds proving a technical hazard from one end of the court.
They threw in loopy moon balls and Cornet executed precise drop shots that forced Davis to peddle with the speed of light up to the net and face the foreseen error. She consistently arrived late.
In the eighth game, Davis went down 0-40, and saved three break points only to lose her hold on the match with a double fault.
To add insult to injury, Davis was stung by a wasp.
In the third set, Davis obviously had nothing in the tank and a welt on her upper thigh to boot. Her crisp groundies struggled to penetrate the court. Cornet, although dragging, was quicker to take advantage of opportunities that had propelled her at the start of the match.
As the time clock ticked away — for a grueling 2 hours and 23 minutes — Cornet found rhythm and stamina and her serve, which were totally missing early on, while Davis meanwhile struggled to maintain her form. Cornet pressed the 19-year-old American in the second set, staking ground for her comeback and eventual win, 2-6 6-3 6-2.
“We were both pretty worn down at the end,” Davis admitted. “She kept the ball in play better in the end.”
Davis, though, was not discouraged by her loss. She knew the experience would benefit her game and pro career, which only began two years ago.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said, still showing signs of disappointment. “It was a pleasant surprise to make it this far. I’m happy to improve. I need to adjust my diet and fitness. I needed more endurance today.”
Davis will now return to the Evert Tennis Academy. She moved from Cleveland, her birthplace, to Boca Raton and smiled as she recalled the moment.
“It was the best decision of my life to move from Cleveland,” she said emphatically. “It’s like a family there for me. I’ve learned so much.”
Over the course of her young career, Lauren has scored wins over Yanina Wickmayer, a top 25 player, and Sorana Cirstea earlier this year in Hobart. Today, Cirstea surprised No. 6 seed Angelique Kerber in a lopsided 6-4 6-0 victory also in Miami.
Although Davis’ match could be categorized as lopsided, it ended up as a match of attrition.
Fans were obviously disheartened, as they tromped down the stairs and out to another match. But they should remain heartened. Davis’s five-foot-two stature embraces a huge heart, competitive spirit and game that could lift her to the top 20 in the near future.
As the third round begins in the men’s draw, the women finish deciding who will reach the final sixteen at the Sony Open.
Maria Sharapova vs. Elena Vesnina: The world #2 has won 14 straight matches against fellow Russians, but she lost her last meeting with Vesnina in the fall of 2010. An Indian Wells doubles champion, her opponent has compiled a quietly solid season in singles that has included her first career title and a second-week appearance at the Australian Open. Each Russian handled a rising young star in her opener with ease, Sharapova crushing Eugenie Bouchard and Vesnina dismissing Donna Vekic. The only Indian Wells finalist still in the Miami draw, the women’s champion there may face her greatest challenge from the heat and humidity of a tournament that she never has won.
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Ana Ivanovic: Sony Open organizers showed their knowledge of tennis when they chose this match for the evening marquee ahead of those featuring higher-ranked champions. While neither Kuznetsova nor Ivanovic has won a major in nearly four years, one should not miss this battle of fellow major champions with ferocious forehands. Kuznetsova possesses the superior athleticism and Ivanovic the superior serve, an advantage less compelling on a slow surface where she never has reached the quarterfinals. A champion here in 2006, the Russian aims to build on her miniature upset of countrywoman Makarova, but Ivanovic looked as brilliant as she has all year in an opener beset by rain and power failures. Nerves beset both women when they try to close out sets and matches, so no lead will be safe.
Albert Ramos vs. James Blake: An unthinkable prospect when the tournament began, a quarterfinal appearance for James Blake now looms well within the range of plausibility. Much improved from recent form at Indian Wells, he continued to turn back the clock with a resounding victory over seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Meanwhile, the upset of Juan Martin Del Potro in this section has left him no significant obstacle to overcome. The Spanish lefty across the net plays a steady game that will test Blake’s consistency, but the American should relish the opportunity to showcase his flashy skills under the lights at this prestigious event.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Tommy Haas: Each man survived talented opponents in the previous round, Dolgopolov dominating 2008 champion Nikolay Davydenko and Haas weathering a three-setter against Igor Sijsling. The unpredictable quirks in the Ukrainian’s game could fluster the veteran of the famously flammable temper, but the latter has produced more impressive results over the past several weeks. When they met in last year’s Washington final, Dolgopolov rallied from losing the first set to outlast Haas.
Kevin Anderson vs. Janko Tipsarevic: Profiting from his vast advantage in height, Anderson defeated the second-ranked Serb three years ago on North American hard courts. He started this year more promisingly than any year before, outside a February injury, and has won multiple matches at every tournament. In contrast, Tipsarevic had lost ten consecutive sets (some resoundingly) from the Australian Open through Indian Wells before snapping that skid against a qualifier here. Hampered by nagging injuries, he has suffered a sharp loss of confidence that could trouble him when he attempts to break the South African’s intimidating serve. When the rallies unfold, however, Tipsarevic’s superior movement and balance could reap rewards.
Roberta Vinci vs. Carla Suarez Navarro: On the gritty, slow hard courts of Miami, these two clay specialists look to continue their encouraging results from last month. While Vinci reached the semifinals in Dubai, Suarez Navarro reached the Premier final in Acapulco. Gone early from the California desert to an unheralded opponent, the Italian narrowly avoided a similar disappointment in navigating past Christina McHale. She has lost all of her previous meetings, and all of her previous sets, to Suarez Navarro in a surprising head-to-head record considering their relative experience. Just six rankings spots separate these two women, so one can expect a tightly contested encounter of elegant one-handed backhands.
Jelena Jankovic vs. Nadia Petrova: Among the most entertaining women’s finals in recent Miami history was the three-setter that Jankovic contested against Serena Williams in 2008. The sluggish court speed showcased her counterpunching game at its best, a level from which it has long since receded. While she has won her last four meetings from Petrova, none of those has come since her precipitous plunge from the #1 ranking that started in 2009. The Russian’s game has aged more effectively, allowing her to stay within range of the top ten even at the age of 30, and she enjoyed an unexpected renaissance with two titles last fall. Like Jankovic, her two-handed backhand down the line remains her signature shot, but she will look to set the tone with penetrating first serves and aggressive court positioning as well.
Alize Cornet vs. Lauren Davis: The only singles match not on a televised court, this overlooked encounter pits a French former prodigy against an extraordinarily lucky loser. When Azarenka withdrew from the Sony Open, Lauren Davis filled her shoes with poise in an epic victory over countrywoman Madison Keys that climaxed with a third-set tiebreak. Having benefited from Azarenka’s bye as well, Davis has progressed through more rounds in the main draw than she did in the qualifying draw. The last American woman left in this half, she faces a winnable match against Cornet, who also survived a tense clash with Laura Robson in which she remarkably never lost her serve through the last two sets.
By Romana Cvitkovic
Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is in Strasbourg, France covering the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament live all week. Main draw action continued today and saw several more seeds fall including Maria Kirilenko, Mona Barthel and Marina Erakovic, while number two seed Francesca Schiavone eased through.
2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone may not have had her best serving day, but she converted enough break points to give her a solid win over Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, 6-1, 6-2, and was the only seed to survive the day. Number three seed Maria Kirilenko retired with an ankle injury giving American Sloane Stephens a pass to the next round after splitting the first two sets, 6-3, 5-7. Number five seed and newest WTA Tour breakout player, Germany’s Mona Barthel went down to Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova 3-6, 6-7(7). Barthel double faulted ten times, struggled to hold her second serve and faced 18 break points, while only converting on three. Shahar Peer refueled in the second set against Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak, handing her a bagel to seal the win, 7-5, 6-0. Japan’s Ayumi Morita sent the day’s last seed, number six Marina Erakovic, home in commanding form, 6-1, 6-3.
Other notable wins include Mirjana Lucic’s handling of Anne Keothavong. After easily winning the first set, Keothavong served for the match at 5-3, before Lucic fought back to win the next four games and force a third set which she won with a final score of 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Johanna Larsson of Sweden sent American qualifier Lauren Davis home in three hotly contested sets that lasted just under three hours, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5). Timea Babos, a former junior doubles champion at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and the U.S. Open, moved onto the next round when Anastasija Sevastova retired just three games into the match. 2009 Strasbourg runner up, Lucie Hradecka moved on as did French wildcards Alize Cornet and Virginie Razzano.
Check back each day to catch all new action direct from the courts by our photographer Rick Gleijm! Scroll down for the full gallery below.
By Romana Cvitkovic
Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is in Strasbourg, France covering the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament live all week. Main draw action kicked off today with top seed Sabine Lisicki on court, as well as number eight seed Tamira Paszek. The last day of qualification also concluded today. Full results and photo gallery below.
Top seed Sabine Lisicki toppled in the first round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Monday, as she was defeated by French player Pauline Parmentier, 6-4, 6-4. Eight seed Tamira Paszek survived a second set bagel to come back and win in three against Alberta Brianti, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Converting on only 4 of 15 break points, the Austrian barely held her first serve in the second set.
Elena Baltacha also saw her time in Strasbourg cut short by another French player, Stephanie Foretz Gacon, with a score of 6-4, 6-0 for Foretz Gacon. Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei came out victorious over Irina Camelia-Begu of Romania, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1. Both women struggled to hold their second serve in the first set, with Begu continuing to struggle for the rest of the match, winning only 7 of her 32 second serves.
The last day of qualification also wrapped up with a few surprises. Number eight seed Mirjana Lucic of Croatia ousted the top seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain in a tough two-and-a-half hour battle, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. 18-year-old American Lauren Davis fought back from a set down to claim the win over Mandy Minella, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. Number two seed Alexandra Panova defeated Stephanie Dubois, 6-3, 6-4, as Anastasija Sevastova ousted Lenka Jurikova, 6-0, 6-1.
Check back each day to catch all new action direct from the courts by our photographer Rick Gleijm! Scroll down for the full gallery below.
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012
CENTRAL start 11:00 am
Alexandra Panova vs. Mona Barthel
Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. Anna Tatishvili (tbc; NB 12.00hrs)
Alexandra Cadantu vs. Francesca Schiavone
Sloane Stephens vs. Maria Kirilenko
Alizé Cornet vs. Olga Govortsova (NB 17.30hrs)
COURT 1 start at 11:00 am
Mandy Minella vs. Lucie Hradecka
Timea Babos vs. Anastasija Sevastova
Marina Erakovic vs. Ayumi Morita (tbc)
Virginie Razzano vs. María José Martínez Sánchez
Cadantu/Keothavong vs. Minella/Parmentier
COURT 2 start at 11:00 am
Johanna Larsson vs. Lauren Davis
Mirjana Lucic vs. Anne Keothavong
Shahar Peer vs. Aleksandra Wozniak
Brianti/Foretz Gacon vs. Gámiz/Hermoso
Babos/Hsieh vs. Perrin/Shamayko
COURT TBA Not Before 5:00 pm
Jurikova/Kucova vs. Adamczak/Bengson (NB 17.00hrs)
Most tennis fans remember Lauren Davis as the young American who suffered a lopsided first round loss to Samantha Stosur at the 2011 Australian Open.
That match did not do much to turn heads, but her most recent win at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells just might.
The 18-year-old Davis, standing at only 5’2’’, earned her first WTA main draw victory when she defeated Croatia’s Petra Martic in the first round at Indian Wells. Ranked a career high No. 221 in the world, Davis defeated her more experienced and higher ranked opponent – Martic is world No. 55 – in straight sets 6-2, 7-6(7). She will play the 30th seed, Nadia Petrova of Russia, in the second round.
The win is a significant milestone for Davis. She turned pro in January 2011 but has struggled on the WTA Tour. Besides playing in the 2011 Australian Open, Davis’ only other Grand Slam experience was when she earned her way into the 2011 U.S. Open main draw by claiming the USTA Girls’ 18 National title. She put up a much stronger fight in Flushing Meadows than in Melbourne, eventually falling to surprise semifinalist Angelique Kerber in two close sets.
Born in Cleveland, the daughter of a heart surgeon and a nurse, Davis attended Gilmour Academy in Gates Mill, Ohio until her sophomore year. She relocated shortly after to the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla, where she still trains.
Despite her small stature, Davis had an extremely successful junior campaign. In addition to the National Girls’ 18 title, Davis is a two-time USTA 16-and-under champion and won the Orange Bowl and Eddie Herr junior tournaments in 2010. Her professional titles reach back to 2010 and include three ITF 10ks (2010 Williamsburg, 2011 Buffalo, and 2011 Atlanta) and two ITF 25ks (2010 Bayamon and 2012 Plantation.)
Among her recent accolades, Davis was named one of the most interesting people of 2012 by her hometown publication, Cleveland Magazine.
And Davis, who has a Twitter account but seldom tweets, proudly tweeted about her Indian Wells victory shortly after the match.
All three tournament wildcards went to young Americans. Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and Melanie Oudin all received the free pass into the main draw.
The banner boldly proclaims: “See the future of American tennis.” And on Dec. 16-18, tennis fans looking to see upcoming American stars and top pros during the “offseason” are in luck. Sixteen American men and women are set to faceoff at the 3rd annual USTA-sponsored Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, GA, vying for a chance to play in the main draw at Melbourne in January.
The playoffs, hosted by the Racquet Club of the South, gives fans a chance to watch future top tennis talents in a setting far more intimate than most tennis events. The two winners, one male and one female, will earn a wildcard into the 2012 Australian Open main draw.
The eight men are former U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, NCAA champion Steve Johnson, U.S. Open wildcard playoffs champion Bobby Reynolds, U.S. Open Mixed Doubles winner Jack Sock, Daniel Kosakowski, Denis Kudla, Jesse Levine and Rhyne Williams.
The women featured are former U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, this year’s U.S. Open juniors champion Grace Min, U.S. Open wildcard playoffs winner Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Gail Brodsky, Jamie Hampton and Alison Riske.
Last year’s winners were 19-year-old Ryan Harrison and 18-year-old Lauren Davis. Long touted as the future of American tennis, Harrison has seen his stock rise in 2011 and finished the season ranked No. 79 in the world. Davis, an accomplished junior player, made two Grand Slam main draw appearances this year and is currently ranked No. 320.
At No. 127 in the world, Bobby Reynolds is the highest ranked player in the men’s draw. The 29-year-old also has home-court advantage, hailing from nearby Acworth, GA. Reynolds was once ranked as high as No. 63 in 2009 but suffered a severe wrist injury that sidelined him for nearly a year. Reynolds looks to ride the momentum he built this summer with the WTT champions Washington Kastles and the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs victory to another Grand Slam main draw berth in Australia.
While Reynolds is a tour veteran, the majority of the playoffs feature fresh faces of the game. At this year’s U.S. Open, Jack Sock, 19, made headlines with a first round victory and by winning the mixed doubles title with partner and fellow playoff participant Melanie Oudin. Sock was last year’s runner-up and is poised to take it one step further. Former college standouts Daniel Kosakowski (UCLA), 19, who reached the finals of the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs, and USC’s Steve Johnson, 20, also have a great chance to start the 2012 season strong with a win here.
Coco Vandeweghe, who has spent time training this off-season by boxing, leads the women’s draw at No. 122 in the world. The imposing 20-year-old stands at 6’1’’ and has a game to match her size. Vandeweghe played in the main draw at all four Grand Slams this year and reached the second round at the U.S. Open.
Other notable young players include 16-year-old Madison Keys, the winner of the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs and 2011 U.S. Open juniors champion Grace Min. Keys went on to win her first ever Grand Slam main draw match in Flushing Meadows, upsetting Jill Craybas in the first round and taking a set off top-30 player, Lucie Safarova in the second. Seventeen-year-old Min won the juniors tournament without dropping a set, toppling No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia in the finals.
A win at these playoffs could create momentum going into the new season for the players and fans will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of future stars to watch out for in Australia and years to come.
We’ve reached the final four on the women’s side of the draw at the US Open 2011 and if you’ve being keeping up, you know that there’s a rather unexpected name left on the bottom half. 23 year old German, Angelique Kerber, beat Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals to advance to her first career Grand Slam semifinal against Samantha Stosur.
To be perfectly honest, at the start of the tournament, I hadn’t given Angelique Kerber a second thought. Ranked 92 in the world, it seemed unlikely that she would cause any major damage. She played a very winnable first round match against American wildcard Lauren Davis, but then she was expected to bow out quietly to No. 13, Agnieszka Radwanska. Kerber made a few headlines by upsetting Radwanska, but there were several early exits by top seeds and Angelique Kerber once again became a footnote in the US Open story. However, unlike Simona Halep, who upset Li Na, or Alexandra Dulgheru, who took out Petra Kvitova, Kerber continued winning. Granted, she lucked out a bit with the draw, playing Alla Kudryavtseva in the third round, followed by Monica Niculescu in the fourth, before beating three time quarterfinalist Flavia Pennetta.
Angelique Kerber, or Angie as her friends and family call her, was born in West Germany on January 18, 1988. She’s a lefty, who claims that she has no favorite surface, but cites the Australian Open as her favorite Slam and Indian Wells as her favorite tournament. Her highest career ranking came early this year when she reached No. 46 in the world, but she has since fallen to No. 92. She has never won a WTA singles title, but holds 11 ITF titles. Prior to the 2011 US Open, her best performance at any Slam was reaching the third round. In fact, she lost to Laura Robson in the first round of Wimbledon this year.
Kerber joins a growing number of talented young Germans making their mark on the tour, including Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki, and Julia Goerges. Three of them made it to the round of 16, two to the quarterfinals, and Angie is the last woman standing in the semis. While she is certainly considered the underdog in her next match, she’s on the right half of the draw to pull an upset. Samantha Stosur has only appeared in one final in thirty three Grand Slam appearances. Although Stosur has been playing some spectacular tennis over the last week and a half, Kerber has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this matchup. Plus, she has the element of surprise. When asked to assess her potential match against Kerber, Samantha Stosur responded, “ Well, I don’t actually know much about Kerber except that she’s a lefty. That’s about it. We’ve never played and never practiced together or anything like that. Might be interesting to watch a little bit of that match.” Hopefully Sam at least sent her coach out to watch Flavia and Angelique because with the way things have been going in New York this week, anything could happen.