Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dementieva moves to semifinals in Tokyo

Elena Dementieva, the 7th seed in Tokyo, defeated 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-2 today in the quarterfinals. Also advancing were 5th seed Francesca Schiavone, who defeated Kaia Kanepi 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 (the match lasted over three hours), and 8th seed Victoria Azarenka, who defeated qualifier Coco Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-1. 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska had to retire against top seed Caroline Wozniacki because of a left foot injury.

In doubles, the two top-seeded teams were upset. Shahar Peer and Peng Shuai defeated number 1 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta. Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova defeated number 2 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Two other teams won because of walkovers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote of the day

"I said to her at the end it was an honor to play her. I've followed her career and she's not just a great tennis player, she's a great person. To come back and show the people anything is possible is really inspiring. And today we were playing on the senior tour--we were 70 together!"
Francesca Schiavone, who defeated Kimiko Date Krumm in Tokyo today

Vandeweghe advances to Tokyo quarterfinals

World number 172 Coco Vandeweghe hit her way into the quarterfinals in Tokyo today when she defeated Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-0 in the third round. Vandeweghe is the only qualifier remaining in the tournament. Kaia Kanepi upset 3rd seed Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-4, and top seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2. Wozniaki has also become the first player designated to compete in the WTA Championships in Doha.

Also winning today were 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva (def. qualifier Roberta Vinci), 5th seed Francesca Schiavone (def. wild card Kimiko Date Krumm), 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska (def. Andrea Petkovic), 7th seed Elena Dementieva (def. Flavia Pennetta), and 8th seed Victoria Azarenka (def. Marion Bartoli, who retired because of a viral illness).

In doubles, tops seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta moved to the second round. Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, however, were defeated 7-6, 6-2 by Tathiana Garbin and Francesca Schiavone.

Here is the singles quarterfinal draw:

Wozniacki vs. Radwanska
Vandeweghe vs. Azarenka
Schiavone vs. Kanepi
Dementieva vs. Zvonareva

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Miscellany

Kim Clijsters has withdrawn from the China Open.

Serena Williams says she may play in Moscow. She has withdrawn frm the China Open.

The popular tournament in New Haven (formerly Pilot Pen Tennis) tournament is still searching for a sponsor.

The Commonwealth Games will commence on October 3. And of course, Sania Mirza's interviewer just had to use the "b" word.

Julia Goerges' upset of Sam Stosur was her first-ever top-10 win.

Kerry Melville Reid talks about her career and her place in history.

Happy Birthday to Kimiko Date Krumm!

Stosur upset in 2nd round in Tokyo

Julia Goerges, who defeated Dinara Safina in the first round of the Toray Pan Pacific Open, took out 4th seed Sam Stosur today. Goerges upset Stosur 7-5, 6-3.

Stosur wasn't the only seed to exit. 10th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was upset by Andrea Petkovic, 13th seed Shahar Peer lost to Kaia Kanepi, and 14th seed Aravane Rezai lost to qualifier Coco Vandeweghe. Flavia Pennetta defeated Maria Kirilenko, and Daniela Hantuchova had to retire against Kimiko Date Krumm in the third set; Hantuchova injured her right shoulder.

In doubles, the team of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez--one of 2009's biggest success stories on the tour--lost in the first round to Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez were set back considerably this year because of an injury sustained by Martinez Sanchez.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Date Krumm defeats Sharapova in Tokyo

Wild card Kimiko Date Krumm, playing in the first round of the Pan Toray Pacific Open, defeated 12th seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova today. Date Krumm, who will celebrate her 40th birthday tomorrow, defeated Sharapova 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. She will play Daniela Hantuchova in the second round.

Also going out was 15th seed Nadia Petrova, who lost to qualifier Roberta Vinci. Julia Goerges defeated Dinara Safina, Anna Ivanovic defeated Seoul champion Alisa Kleybanova, and qualifier Coco Vandeweghe defeated Seoul runner-up Klara Zakopalova.

In the second round of play, 3rd seed Jelena Jankovic defeated Alona Bondarenko 6-4, 6-1, and 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-3.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ITF updates

This weekend, Mirjana Lucic won the $75k ITF tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She defeated 3rd seed Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

Rebecca Marino won the $50k tournament in Saguenay, Quebec. Marino defeated Alison Riske 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 in the final. Riske was the top seed.

The champion of the $100k tournament in Saint Malo, France is Romina Oprandi. Oprandi defeated 2nd seed Alize Cornet 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 in the final of the clay court tournament.

Tokyo play begins

Number 1 qualifying seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez did not get through qualifying, but she became the Toray Pan Pacific Open lucky loser when Li Na withdrew from the tournament because of a gastro-intestinal illness. Martinez Sanchez lost in the first round, however, to Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko defeated her 6-3, 6-7, 6-1.

The only qualifier to win today was Greta Arn, who defeated qualifier Laura Robson. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, seeded 16th, defeated Dominika Cibulkova, and Andrea Petkovic defeated Gisela Dulko.

Number 2 qualifying seed Jarmila Groth went out in the final round to qualifying, as did Anastasia Rodionova.

The tournament's top four seeds are Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, and Sam Stosur.

Kleybanova wins Seoul championship

Alisa Kleybanova won the Korea Open today. She defeated Klara Zakopalova 6-1, 6-3. Kleybanova was seeded fifth at the tournament.

Julia Goerges and Palona Hercog won the doubles title. They defeated 4th seeds Natalie Grandin and Vladamira Uhlirova 6-3, 6-4.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Zakopalova & Kleybanova to play in Seoul final

Top seed Nadia Petrova retired with a gastro-intestinal illness today during the first set of her semifinal match in Seoul. Her opponent, Klara Zakopalova, will play 5th seed Alisa Kleybanova in the final. Kleybanova defeated 8th seed Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

The doubles final will be contested between the teams of Natalie Grandin and Vladamira Uhlarova and Julia Goerges and Palona Hercog. Grandin and Uhlirova are seeded fourth in the tournament.

Kudryavtseva wins Tashkent title


Alla Kudryavtseva won her first tour title today. The 7-seeded Kudryavtseva defeated 4th seed Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-4 at the Tashkent Open. This is the fourth time that Vesnina has played in a final, and the fourth time she has lost one.

The doubles title was won by Alexandra Panova and Tatiana Poutchek, who defeated Alexandra Dulgheru and Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-4.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Defending champion out of Korea Open

Defending champion Kimiko Date Krumm was defeated today in the quarterfinals of the Korea Open. 8th seed Agnes Szavay's 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 victory puts her into the semifinals. Also advancing were top seed Nadia Petrova, Klara Zakopalova and 5th seed Alisa Kleybanova, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens, wild card Dinara Safina and Ekaterina Makarova, respectively. Date Krumm and her partner, Ayumi Morita, also lost their semifinal doubles match.

In Tashkent, Elena Vesnina and Alla Kudryavtseva will face each other in the final. Vesnina has appeared in three tour finals, but has never won a title. This will be Kudryavtseva's second tour final.

Friday cat blogging--relaxation edition


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Miscellany

Sabine Lisicki, the number 2 seed in this week's 75k Shrewsbury ITF tournament, was upset in the second round by Heather Watson. Watson lost to 8th seed Eva Birnerova in the quarterfinals.

Rosie Casals talks with Adam Lincoln.

And here is David Rosenberg's interview with Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs.

Dinara Safina recently had a coaching session with her brother, Marat.

The city of Opitter, Belgium, where Kim Clijsters grew up, has honored her with a fountain and sculpture.

Chanda Rubin and Katrina Adams have been nominated to serve on the USTA board of directors. Adams is already a director at large.

Date Krumm advances to both quarterfinals and semifinals in Seoul

Defending champion Kimiko Date Krumm upset 2nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova today in Seoul. Date Krumm's 6-2, 6-1 victory puts her into the quarterfinals, in which she will face 8th seed Agnes Szavay.

3rd seed Maria Kirilenko was upset by counrywoman and wild card Dinara Safina, 4th seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez was upset by Ekaterina Makarova, and 6th seed Yaroslava Shvedova was defeated by Kirsten Flipkens.

Shvedova and partner Vania King--Wimbledon and U.S. Open champions--were upset in the doubles quarterfinals by Date Krumm and partner Ayumi Morita.

In the Tashkent quarterfinals, top seed Alexandra Dulgheru was upset 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 by 5th seed Monica Niculescu. 7th seed Alla Kudryavtseva upset 2nd seed Akgul Amanmuradova 7-6, 6-3.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Petrova defeats Groth in Seoul

Top seed Nadia Petrova defeated Guangzhou champion Jarmila Groth 6-3. 6-2 in the first round of the Korea Open today. Rain has postponed much of early round play. 2nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced by defeating Anastasia Rodionova 7-6, 6-1, and defending champion Kimiko Date Krumm also advanced to the next round. Vera Dushevina defeated wild card and 7th seed Ana Ivanovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

3rd seed Anna Chakvetadze retired today in Tashkent. Chakvetadze is suffering with a viral illness.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Miscellany

Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson won the doubles title in Quebec City today. They defeated top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 2-6, 10-6.

Lu Jing-Jing upset qualifying top seed Ayumi Morita in the first round of qualifying in Seoul. (Lu was subsequently defeated by Hsieh Su-Wei.)

Zheng Jie could be out as long as six months because of her wrist surgery.

The Family Circle Cup has announced its partnership with the City of Charleston Department of Recreation's Courting Kids inner-city youth program. The tournament has committed over $50,000 in financial, material and promotional support to the program, in the form of equipment, clothing, parties, and Family Circle Cup seats. There will be two fund-raising events for Courting Kids at the 2011 Family Circle Cup tournament.

Vera Zvonareva did a photo shoot for Glamour.

Justine Henin has begun practicing again.

The ITF and BNP Paribas have agreed to sponsor Fed Cup for a new five-year period, beginning in 2012. 

Paszek wins Bell Challenge

Bethanie Mattek-Sands led qualifier Tamira Paszek throughout the first set in their Quebec City final today. Paszek forced a tiebreak, however, in which Mattek-Sands held two set points. Paszek, however, went on to win the tiebreak. Mattek-Sands took the second set, 6-2, and went up an early break in the third. Paszek eventually went up 6-5, and broke Mattek-Sands when she served to stay in the match. The match lasted over 2 hours and 47 minutes, so spectators were treated to a lot of tennis.

This is Tamira Paszek's second WTA title. Once considered a star on the rise, Paszek has had to contend with many odd twists and turns--all of which have been troublesome--in her brief career. She is currently ranked number 151 in the world.

Groth wins Guangzhou title

Jarmila Groth won her first tour title today. Groth defeated Alla Kudryavtseva 6-1, 6-4 to claim the Guangzhou International Women's Open championship. Groth was the top seed at the tournament.

Edina Gallovits and Sania Mirza won the doubles championship. They defeated Han Xin Yun and Liu Wanting 7-5, 6-3.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Matttek-Sands and Paszek to contend for Quebec City title

Qualifier Tamira Paszek advanced to the Bell Challenge final today, with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Christina McHale. In the final, she will play Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who defeated 3rd seed Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-1. Mattek-Sands was the runner-up in 2008. Mattek-Sands and her partner, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, are also in the doubles final.

In Guangzhou, 1st seed Jarmila Groth clinched her spot in the final by defeating Edina Gallovits 6-0, 6-1. Her opponent will be Alla Kudryavtseva, who defeated Zhang Shuai 6-0, 6-4.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mirza out of Guangzhou

Sania Mirza's comeback was cut short today by Zhang Shuai, who defeated her 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the Guangzhou quarterfinals. Meanwhile, top seed Jarmila Groth advanced to the semifinals with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Maria Elena Camerin.

In the Quebec City quarterfinals, Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated wild card Rebecca Marino 6-4, 7-5. Christina Mchale defeated qualifier Alexa Glatch, and qualifier Tamira Paszek defeated Sophie Arvidsson. Number 3 seed Lucie Safarova had to content with a challenge from Melanie Oudin, but Safarova came back from a 0-3 score in the final set to win the match, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.


Spain's top players to boycott February's Fed Cup competition

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Arantxa Parra Sontonja, Carla Suarez Navarro, Nuria Llogostera Vives, and Lourdes Dominguez Lino will not play in the first round of 2011 Fed Cup competition. Yesterday, Spain's top six players signed a statement in which they refuse to play because of the Spanish Tennis Federation's "lack of support, communication and enthusiasm" for women's tennis. The players maintain that support declined upon the arrival of Prime Minister Jose Luis EscaƱuela.

In late 2009, the Federation agreed to improve conditions for women's tennis. The players who signed the statement said that, a year later, nothing has improved. The 2009 agreement called for better medical care, more hard courts, and more support for Spanish tennis tournaments. The players are also protesting a reduction in prize money.

According to press repoerts, the Spanish Tennis Federation has released a statement which outlines proposed improvements for women's tennis, but the players say that these proposed improvements are "patchy" at best.

Spain is scheduled to play Estonia in the first round of 2011 Fed Cup competition.

Friday cat blogging--overexposed edition

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top seed Bartoli upset in Quebec City

Rebecca Marino, who impressed spectators when she played her first-ever match against a top 50 player (Venus William) at the U.S. Open, took out number 1 seed Marion Bartoli in the second round of the Bell Challenge this evening. Wild card Marino, who hit numerous forehand winners and ten aces (three of them came in her first game), defeated Bartoli 6-3, 6-1. "I felt she could put the ball wherever she wanted to," Bartoli said, "and I had no chance to win the match with her playing like that."

Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated 6th seed Julia Goerges, 5th seed Melanie Oudin defeated Anna Tatishvili, and 3rd seed Lucie Safarova defeated Johanna Larsson. Safarova is the highest seed still in the tournament.

In Guangzhou, Sania Mirza defeated 3rd seed Akgul Amanmuradova; the 5th, 7th and 8th seeds were all upset, also.

Dulko & Pennetta first to qualify for Championships

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta have become the first doubles team to qualify for the 2010 WTA Championships. Dulko and Pennetta--who used to be partners on occasion, but who formed an ongoing partnership this season--have won five titles in 2010, and enjoyed a 17-match win streak earlier this year. Dulko also won a title this year with Elena Gallovits.

This is the first time that the team has qualified for the Championships.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Miscellany

Jill Craybas upset 2nd seed Aravane Rezai today at the Bell Challenge in Quebec City. Craybas, who is ranked number 123 in the world, defeated Rezai 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Sabine Lisicki went out in straight sets to Alexa Glatch.

Zheng Jie has had disappointing results lately. She has stopped playing for the season and will soon have surgery performed on her wrist. Zheng underwent ankle surgery in 2007. Zheng was a semifinalist at the 2010 U.S. Open, and won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles championships in 2006.

World number 1 Serena Williams is practicing again, but says she hasn't yet determined when she will return to the tour.

Elena Baltacha has reached the top 50 for the first time in her career. Baltacha is currently ranked number 49 in the world.

Steve Tignor gives Maria Shavapova a C+ for her U.S. Open performance.

Zoo Tennis reminds us that the team of Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens has won three of four majors in junior doubles this year. They did not play together in Melbourne, but won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My U.S. Open top 10


Here, in ascending order, are my top 10 U.S. Open happenings:

10. Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her: Many a thing she ought to understand. And I expect she does understand those things, but Maria Sharapova still has to figure out how to get back to her former status. She can choose to change her game, or she can continue to work on her wayward serve, and use it once again to control points. Caroline Wozniacki beat the error-prone Russian in straight sets in the round of 16.

9. Dazed and confused: It was a scary moment for everyone watching when Victoria Azarenka crumpled onto the court during her second round match. Azarenka sustained a mild concussion when she fell while running sprints before the match.

8. Someone has to win: The three-hour ordeal contested between Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and their opponents, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, must have been maddening for the Czech team, who failed to save five set points in the first set, and--at the very end--failed to save four match points. For spectators, it was both maddening and thrillng. Only one team can walk away with the win, but credit has to go to Benesova for some very fine serving and some very exciting shot-making.

7. Still crazy-making after all these years: While she was calling the match, Elise Bergen said of Patty Schnyder, "When Schnyder gets out on the court against a big hitter like Wickmayer, her goal is to drive her crazy." How true. And Schnyder almost had her way, though she ended the match with a most unfortunate double fault; Wickmayer earned a 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory. Still, it was great to see Schnyder hit all of her vintage looping shots--over and over--for more than two and a half hours. Despite seeing her lose (she's a big favorite of mine), I was thoroughly entertained by this under-the-radar thriller.

6. Iced Danish: After all the build-up, top seed Caroline Wozniacki fell in the semifinals to wind-controller (remember the 2009 Indian Wells championship?) Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva was at her best, and it didn't hurt her any that Wozniacki was flat from the outset.

5. So near, and yet so far: Both Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva must have felt the title within their grasps, but Kim Clijsters prevented one from winning her third U.S. Open title, and the other from winning her first major. Williams' serve became wobbly during her semifinal match against Clijsters, and just about everything became wobbly for Zvonareva during the final.

4. Break, blow, burn: The weather was a major player in this U.S. Open. During the first week, on-court temperatures blazed well over 100 degrees, and during the second week, winds gusted as high as thirty miles per hour. Both extremes--and especially the wind--made it quite difficult for the players to compete. To top it off, there was rain, too, which caused the doubles final to be completed a day late.

3. The late-late show: It isn't unusual for Elena Dementieva to play in a drama-filled three-set match. She used to almost always win these contests, but lately, she has struggled with some of them. She and Sam Stosur played until 1:30 in the morning, providing the crowd with one of the best matches played in the tournament. The momentum swung wildly, and Stosur came back from being down 0-3 and 3-5 in the third set. She saved four match points, and then advanced to the quarterfinals when Dementieva lost her focus during the tiebreak.

2. Queen of the hill, top of the heap: 2nd seed Kim Clijsters won her third U.S. Open title when she easily defeated Vera Zvonareva in the championship match. Clijsters was impressive throughout the tournament, taking out both Sam Stosur and Venus Williams before reaching the final. The Belgian won the tournament last year, shortly after she returned to the tour, and many tennis-watchers thought her momentum had slowed down too much for her to pull a repeat. But Clijsters knew how to win the big points, and she put on her impressive return-of-serve show throughout the U.S. Open.

1. That was fun--want to do it again?: For me, the "real" final was the one that was played in doubles. Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, the joyful pair who got together shortly before Wimbledon and won the championship, did it again in Flushing Meadows, and under very difficult circumstances. Playing against world number 1 Liezel Huber and partner Nadia Petrova, they were three points from a loss when the match was postponed because of rain. They came back on Monday, saved a match point, and forced a tiebreak. And they continued to go for everything. If they lost, they were going to go out in a blaze. But they won--their second major in a row. Tested by a three-hour thriller in the third round, and by the number 1 seeds in the quarterfinals, King and Shvedova brought the right balance of steadiness and flash to a memorable championship.

Miscellany

A reminder to U.S. viewers: Unmatched, a documentary about the rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, will have its premier showing tomorrow night, September 14, at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN. It will also be shown at 11 p.m. on the 14th on ESPN2. Viewers can also watch at 8 p.m., Thursday, September 16 on ESPN Classic, and Saturday, September 18 at 1 a.m on ESPN 2.

Navratilova was given the Eugene L. Scott Award on Friday at the Legends Ball in New York.

USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier says that putting a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium would mean there would be no money available to fund grassroots tennis in the U.S.

Vania King says that she began playing doubles with Yaroslava Shvedova because Anna-Lena Groenefeld, with whom she had been playing, sustained a stress fracture in her foot. She expected Groenefeld to return for the clay season, but that didn't happen. King and Shvedova formed a team during the grass season and decided--for obvious reasons--to stay together.

This is the second year in a row that Esther Vergeer has won the U.S. Open women's wheelchair singles final with a score of 6-0, 6-0. 

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour "Looking Back at a Legend" series continues with a look back at Tracy Austin.

Wild card Rebecca Marino has advanced to the second round of the Bell Challenge in Quebec. She defeated countrywoman and wild card Heidi El Tabakh 7-6, 7-6.

They did it again! King & Shvedova win U.S. Open title

Yesterday, the rain came when Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were down 2-6, 6-4, 4-5, 0-15. It was also Shvedova's birthday, but, as it turns out, she had to wait a day to receive her most lavish gift. Today, at 3 p.m. New York time, King and Shvedova--and their opponents, number 2 seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova--returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium to complete the U.S. Open championship match.

The circumstances could not have been more tense. Huber and Petrova were only three points from the title, and suddenly, King was serving at 30-40. King saved that championship point (the second onw the team saved) with a ferocious forehand swipe down the line. Later, spectators would cheer loudly when Shvedova hit a backhand lob with heavy topspin and painted the back line. Despite increased aggression by Petrova, some formidable volleys from Huber, and a fast service game for the 2nd seeds at 5-all, King and Shvedova were able to force a tiebreak. Under the most challenging conditions, they held serve.

This match "deserved" a tiebreak, so to speak, for only a tiebreak could increase the drama for spectators who had waited overnight for a result. Throughout the match, but especially during the tiebreak, King and Shvedova did the same thing they did at Wimbledon--they enjoyed themselves. And when Shvedova hit yet another line-skimming lob--this one with her forehand--at match point, it was the perfect ending to a great doubles championship match.

King and Shvedova had a quite a tournament. They defeated the top seeds, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, in straight sets in the quarterfinals.  And in the third round, they won a wild three-hour thriller against Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

King and Shvedova had played together only twice when they entered the 2010 Wimbledon tournament and won it. Now they have done it again. In her speech, King said that, two years ago, she wasn't sure she wanted to play tennis anymore, and she didn't know if she believed in herself. How fortunate--for us, and for Yaroslava Shvedova--that King decided to keep going.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In case you missed it...

Daria Gavrilova's press conference is worth watching. "That was a really bad match, actually," she said of her championship contest against friend Yulia Putintseva.

Quote of the day

"It's gonna be a relief--sort of."
Esther Vergeer, commenting on the day her streak is broken

Women's doubles final to be concluded tomorrow

Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova were serving at 2-6, 6-4, 4-5, 0-15 when rain fell and caused a delay in their U.S. Open championship match. The match was expected to resume within a hour or so, but the rain continued, so King and Shvedova, and their opponents, Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova, will conclude their match tomorrow.

Gavrilova wins U.S. Open junior girls championship

Daria Gavrilova, the top seed, won the U.S. Open junior girls' title today, defeating the unseeded Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2. Both Gavrilova and Putintseva are from Russia.

Vergeer wins 5th straight U.S. Open title

Esther Vergeer , the number 1 seed, won her fifth consecutive U.S. Open women's wheelchair singles championship today, defeating Daniela Di Toro 6-0, 6-0. The final was much easier for Vergeer than the semifinal was. In that match, she had to save a set point.

Vergeer and partner Sharon Walraven won the doubles title yesterday. In singles, Vergeer is now on a 396-match win streak.

3 questions to ponder

Last night's final left me with questions, all of which I have pondered before, but which now seem more relevant than ever:

1. What is it with the Russians? With the exception of the "old" Sharapova, some of the best players on the women's tour are known as much for not handling pressure as they are for their forehands and volleys. Among Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Dementieva, Zvonareva, and Safina, there are only five major championships, all won by Sharapova and Kuznetsova.

2. What does Vera Zvonareva's tennis future look like? She is considering dropping out of doubles competition in order to stay physically fresher. She said that in the final, she felt physically unable to compete.

3. Does Kim Clijsters now have enough confidence to win majors on grass and/or clay? I may be projecting something onto her in which she has questionable interest. Clijsters may not wish to be on the tour much longer--I don't know. And if she retires with three U.S. Open titles, that's still a lot nicer for her than retiring with only one U.S. Open title. But the question is nevertheless tempting to ask.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Clijsters re-claims her U.S. Open title

A wry smile appeared, for just a moment, on Vera Zvonareva's face when Kim Clijsters double-faulted at 6-2, 5-1, 30-all in the U.S. Open women's final tonight. Break points had eluded the Russian throughout the match, and now she had one, and at such a strange point in the proceedings. Clijsters responded with an ace, and won the championship on her first match point.

It was a masterful performance by the defending champion, who showed off not only her signature movement and solid groundstrokes, but also a tidy and beautifully placed serve. Zvonareva was barely allowed into the match, so decisively did Clijsters dictate the rallies. In short, Clijsters could hardly do anything wrong, and Zvonareva could hardly do anything right. And when Zvonareva did have opportunities, she was unable to gather enough composure to take advantage of them.

The match was over in exactly an hour. There hasn't been a three-set women's final at the U.S. Open since 1995, when Steffi Graf lost all the games in the second set, but still still won the championship, defeating Monica Seles. The best recent final was played in 2008, when Serena Williams won a spirited and entertaining two-setter over Jelena Jankovic.

Clijsters lost the 2003 U.S. Open final in straight sets to Justine Henin. She won in 2005, when she defeated Mary Pierce; Pierce won only four games. Clijsters was injured in 2006, and did not compete. She then retired from the tour, so she was absent in 2007 and 2008. After she returned in 2009, the U.S. Open was just her third event, but she defeated Caroline Wozniacki and took the title again. She has now won 21 straight matches in Flushing Meadows.

Zvonareva managed to get one good racquet-crack in during the short match. When the final was over, she told her opponent how frustrated she felt because she had not played well. Clijsters reminded her of all the finals she had lost to Henin, and said that, afterwards, she, too, felt frustrated because she knew she could have played better.

This was Zvonareva's second major final. Earlier in the season, she lost the Wimbledon final to Serena Williams. That, too, was a match in which she was totally dominated. Zvonareva--whose career has been repeatedly interrupted by serious injury--has a solid and varied game, and has become mentally stronger than she used to be. But in tonight's match, she made a stream of unforced errors that took her out of the competition. The woman who had looked so steady against Caroline Wozniacki suddenly looked so tentative and confused against Clijsters.

Vergeer and Walraven win U.S. Open women's wheelchair doubles championship

2nd seeds Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven won the women's wheelchair doubles championship at the U.S. Open today. Vergeer and Walraven defeated Daniela Di Toro and Aniek Van Koot, the top seeds, 6-3, 6-3.

Vergeer, the top seed, will play Di Toro in the singles final.

In junior girls' competition, top seed Daria Gavrilova defeated 15th seed Sloane Stephens 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, Yulia Putintseva defeated On Jabeur 6-4, 6-3. Both Gavrilova and Putintseva are from Russia.

In junior girls' doubles, Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens, the 3rd seeds, won the championship when they were given a walkover by An-Sophie Mestach and Silvia Njric.

Bartoli top seed in Quebec City

The Bell Challenge begins Monday in Quebec City. Marion Bartoli is the top seed, and Aravane Rezai is seeded second. Rebecca Marino has a wild card for the event.

The Guangzhou International Women's Open also begins on the 13th.

Because you can't watch too much Esther Vergeer...

Vergeer explains wheelchair tennis:



Esther hits with Rafa:

Watch it with the sound off

I haven't had the television on for very long, but I have already heard enough sexism to convince me to turn the sound off:

Kevin Frasier believes that women automatically take their husbands' surnames.

Dick Enberg apparently believes that all police officers and firefighters are men (What decade are we in? To recognize September 11 by thanking a "policeman" or a "fireman" utilizes language that is all the rage again, I know, but that doesn't make it any less sexist--makes it more so.)

Earlier in the tournament:

John McEnroe found a way (I knew he would) to make fun of Denis Istomin because he is coached by his mother.

Commentators continued, ad nauseum, to ask Kim Clijsters about the "balance" in her life.

Commentators regularly call female players, even those in their late 20s, "girls."

Martina Navratilova, who routinely asks the other commentators to please call the players "women," referred to them as "guys."

Headlines proclaimed that Schiavone "does a Federer," when--in reality--Schiavone has been hitting 'tweeners for years.

Virginia Wade is carrying the message about women's desperation to "keep looking young."

As relentless as the sexism* is, there are also plenty of other comments, unrelated to gender, that reveal other prejudices. For example:

Enberg believes that if you are Russian and read Russian literature, you are " a serious sort."

A commentator actually bragged about mispronouncing a player's name (then immediately insulted a commentator who regularly mispronounces a name).

Liezel Huber continued her non-stop USA flag-waving every time she spoke.

And finally, in a moment of significant tone-deafness, Mike Bryan accepted a stole from the ambassadors of India and Pakistan, and immediately suggested he could "make a shirt out of it." (Perhaps his doubles partner, Huber, who "came from a third world country with only a suitcase and a dream," could educate him.)

*There are people all over the Worldwide Web who express so much concern about racism and ethnic prejudice, but the vile gender-related (and sometimes homophobic) things they are saying about Kim and Venus (and, at other times, just about any woman who is playing) demonstrate bigotry at its most disgusting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

You know, some things I already saw--you know, in my head I already knew. Okay, I've played it there, so the next ball will be here. But I need to focus on the ball I was hitting. You know, just made a few mistakes and she took advantage of it.
Caroline Wozniacki

I feel like my career hasn't been traditional in any way. I feel like as long as I'm striking the ball well, I'm gonna keep playing. At this point I'm striking the ball well, so there is no end in sight at the moment.
Venus Williams

I play with passion, but I leave it on the court. Off the court, I'm very calm, and, you know, just not that emotional at all. The tennis is an emotional game. As long as you know yourself and you know which emotions are good for you, which are bad, you can use it to your advantage.
Vera Zvonareva

She hits those flat groundstrokes that stay low to the ground. Is that especially difficult on a day when you're not really in sync with your forehand, or like you said, you're not really feeling it?
No, because, I mean, I was playing really well at periods, and there were periods where, you know, I made mistakes. That's life. You know, I've beaten her before. So, no, it doesn't matter.
Caroline Wozniacki

I always feel good here. If I can give myself the opportunity to get to the second week, play these kind of matches and not get surprised by opponents at the beginning of the tournament, anything is possible.
Kim Clijsters

There are some beautiful players out there today, but all the points look the same.
Chris Evert

Never look back. I'm just looking forward all the time.
Vera Zvonareva

I was hitting into wind; you can hit it harder and flatter. It's instinct, you decide to do it. And it worked.
Kim Clijsters

I mean, in one hour to go through five racquets, it's quite a lot. But, you know, it happens. I will just have to bring some more racquets tomorrow.
Vera Zvonareva

She's always been high-strung; today, she's been unstrung.
Mary Carillo, referring to Vera Zvonareva

I kept the same strings for two years.
Chris Evert

Paths to the final

Tomorrow evening, 2nd seed and defending champion Kim Clijsters will play 7th seed Vera Zvonareva in the U.S. Open women's singles final. Here are their paths to the final:

VERA ZVONAREVA
round 1--def. Zuzana Kucova
round 2--def. Sabine Lisicki
round 3--def. Alexandra Dulgheru (25)
round 4--def. Andrea Petkovic
quarterfinals--def. Kaia Kanepi (31)
semifinals--def. Caroline Wozniacki (1)

KIM CLIJSTERS
round 1--def. Greta Arn
round 2--def. Sally Peers
round 3--def. Petra Kvitova (27)
round 4--def. Ana Ivanovic
quarterfinals--def. Samantha Stosur (5)
semifinals--def. Venus Williams (3)

Defending champion Clijsters to play in U.S.Open final

The stats for today's second women's semifinal match at the U.S. Open tell a lot: Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters made a combined 93 unforced errors and hit a combined total of 53 winners. They broke each other four times apiece. The wind blew, and the momentum of the match swung, sometimes surprisingly. It took two hours and 23 minutes to sort it all out, but in the end, it was defending champion and 2nd seed Kim Clijsters who walked off the court a winner.

Venus Williams, seeded 3rd, took the first set 6-4, after breaking Clijsters in the seventh game. The wind began to blow with more force when the second set started, and it became harder to serve, though Williams did hit three consecutive aces early in the set. After a furious exchange of breaks, Clijsters took the lead at 5-4, then suddenly suffered a service collapse, easily giving Williams yet another break. The set would go to a tiebreak--the first the pair had ever played against one another. The 3rd seed double-faulted her way to a 0-3 deficit, and never recovered. In almost no time, Clijsters had six set points, and she took the set on her second one.

Williams began the final set with more service errors, and Clijsters got an early break. But then the 2nd seed made back-to-back double faults and lost her focus again, resulting in a break for Williams. Clijsters was to break back, however, with a backhand lob that turned out to be the shot of the match. With a 5-4 lead, she held easily.

The defending champion's 4-6, 6-7, 6-4 win gives her a 20-match streak at the U.S. Open. She won the Open in 2005, with a decisive victory over Mary Pierce. Clijsters retired from the tour, and didn't play in Flushing Meadows again until 2009, shortly after her return to professional tennis. In that tournament, she defeated both Venus and Serena Williams, and then beat Caroline Wozniacki in the final.

Venus Williams won the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001. She last reached the semifinals in 2007, when she was defeated by eventual champion Justine Henin. Williams did not play in this year's U.S. Open Series because of problems with her knee.

Windy and clear, but no Sunshine

Vera Zvonareva had to use five racquets in her semifinal match against top seed Caroline Wozniacki at the U.S. Open this afternoon. The 7th-seeded Russian broke her racquet strings four times, but it didn't distract her from breaking Wozniacki four times, also. Maintaining a high level of aggression and again handling the wind with patience and precision, Zvonareva used her strong serve to stop the 1st seed's campaign to win a major title.

At 2-1, 40-30 in the second set, Zvonareva used poor judgment in hitting a volley, and Wozniacki broke her on her first break point. This might have been a turning point in the set, but Zvonareva immediately broke her back at 15.

Zvonareva won points on 70% of her first serves, and she hit five aces. She was also successful at the net 76% of the time.

This is Zvonareva's second trip to a major final. Her first occurred earlier this summer, when she reached the finals at Wimbledon, where she was defeated by Serena Williams.

Friday cat blogging--vanity edition


Thursday, September 9, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

This could really go either way!
Nick Bollettieri's choice for the Williams-Clijsters semifinal match

Could go either way. Wouldn’t be surprised to see if either wins it.
Bollettieri's choice for the Wozniacki-Zvonareva semifinal match

We just had compassion for each other.
Chris Evert, commenting on her rivalry with Martina Navratilova

Venus never, ever loses her cool on court.
Ravi Ubha

He wants to chest bump, chest bump, chest bump. I'm like, no. Do it with your girlfriend; don't chest bump me.
Liezel Huber, referring to Bob Bryan

Miscellany

Mary Joe Fernandez has signed a contract with the USTA that will extend her role as captain of the USA Fed Cup team for two more years.

It isn't your imagination that players ignore the 20-second service rule.

Caroline Wozniacki hit with Novak Djokovic today.

"I'm not the player I was two years ago," Anne Keothavong recently told the BBC. Keothavong says that various injuries have kept her from being as fit as she should be. "Who knows what's going to happen?" she said. "I'm going to need time to reassess and decide what I want to do."

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will enter the top 20 next week.

Birthday girl!

King & Shvedova 1 match away from back-to-back championships

The surprise champions of the 2010 Wimbledon tournament, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, advanced to the final of the U.S. Open today with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over 9th seeds Cara Black and Anastasia Rodionova. The third set was especially entertaining, as Rodionova brought up the level of her play and challenged the 6th seeds. Shvedova blew some volleys by being over-eager, but then steadied herself.

There was one amazing moment when a ball flew through the center of the court. King yelled "me!" but Shvedova, who probably didn't hear King, went for it. Standing side by side, each woman--one with a backhand and one with a forehand--was a mirror image of the other. Shvedova's racquet got the ball over the net. For just a moment, though, the synchronized swings created a really beautiful sight.

In the women's wheelchair singles quarterfinals, Esther Vergeer had to fight harder than usual to defeat Florence Alix-Gravellier 7-5, 7-5. Korie Homan is not playing in the U.S. Open (I'm not sure why--possibly continued wrist problems), so the Vergeer-Homan team will not be competing. Vergeer's partner will be Sharon Walraven. Vergeer was hitting today with Martina Navratilova.

Huber & Bryan win U.S. Open mixed doubles championship

Liezel Huber and partner Bob Bryan won the U.S. Open mixed doubles championship today, defeating Kveta Peschke and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Qureshi was able to save one match point off of Bryan's serve, but Peschke could not save the second.

Robson out of U.S. Open junior draw in 3rd round

Laura Robson, whose decision to not play in juniors somehow never come to pass, lost in the third round of the U.S. Open junior girls' competition today. Robson, seeded 8th, was defeated by the USA's Robin Anderson. Also going out was 4th seed Elina Svitolina, 6-4, 6-0. Stephens is seeded 15th.

Karolina Pliskova advanced to the quarterfinals. Her sister, Kristyna, lost in the second round.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

It was difficult to play your best tennis, and I had to find the right balance between being patient and being aggressive.
Vera Zvonareva

I've always been enthralled by the power of trends in the tennis world. Players have such a gift for copying each other at every level.
Patrick Mouratoglou

To deal with ponytail whiplash is something else...
Pam Shriver, commenting on Caroline Wozniacki's flying hair

Most of the people didn't believe in me, but you're not always going to play your best tennis, and to me, it didn't matter.
Vera Zvonareva

What are you gonna take away from your successful tournament here? What do you think was the best part that you learned about yourself making it this far?
The fighting spirit.
Kaia Kanepi

There haven’t been too many (comedians) on the women’s tour.
David Rosenberg, in reference to Andrea Petkovic
(Oops...there went Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Francesca Schiavone--just to name a few of the WTA's players who have repeatedly brought laugh-out-loud humor to the tour for years.)

It felt like playing in a hurricane or something.
Caroline Wozniacki

I would say it was the most difficult conditions I have ever played in.
Dominika Cibulkova

If you're emotional, doesn't mean you're not mentally tough.
Vera Zvonareva

Wind gusted up to 34 mph and played havoc with Wozniacki's shots--to say nothing of Trump's hair.
Associated Press reporter

So maybe she really means it this time?

Earlier today, I wrote about Martina Hingis's renewed contemplation of a return in doubles. Well, it could be more than just talk this time.

Top seeds to play in U.S. Open mixed doubles final

Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, the top-seeded mixed doubles team at the U.S. Open, advanced to the final today when they defeated 4th seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Daniel Nestor. They will play Kveta Peschke and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in the final.

Inherit the wind

The wind was bad enough when Vera Zvonareva and Kaia Kanepi played their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open this afternoon, but it became worse when Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova showed up for their match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Debris occasionally flew onto the court ball tosses looked almost impossible, and top seed Wozniacki's hair whipped around furiously.

Not surprisingly, Wozniacki figured out a way to deal with the wind about halfway through the first set, which she won 6-2. In the second set, Cibulkova learned to manage the wind a bit better and played with relative aggression. But it was the ever-steady Wozniacki who patiently held on while her opponent made 43 unforced errors. (Because of the wind, most of the errors in this match could probably pass as "unforced"). Cibulkova put up a fight in the second set, and--for a while--looked as though she were staging a serious comeback, but she was broken at 5-all. The 1st seed held for 7-5, and she is now scheduled to play a semifinal match against Vera Zvonareva.

Wozniacki hit twelve winners to Cibulkova's twenty, but she made only eighteen unforced errors.

Huber & Petrova advance to U.S. Open semifinals

2nd seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals today, with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 5th seeds Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. Also advancing were 7th seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Zheng Jie. They defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaugnessy 6-4, 6-4.

These U.S. Open doubles matches are quite entertaining. It's a shame so little attention is paid to them.

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

If Christina Rossetti were here to watch the U.S. Open, she might add a verse or two:


Who has seen the wind?
Not you, not I, not any.
But if you hit flat balls on Ashe,
The wind will take out many.

Who has seen the wind?
Not you nor I nor they.
But if you're not careful with your toss,
The wind goes Vera's way.

There were definitely three opponents in today's U.S. Open semifinal match featuring 7th seed Vera Zvonareva and 31st seed Kaia Kanepi. The wind gave both players so much trouble, and tennis balls were flying. Zvonareva was even knocked in the head by a stray toss from a ballboy. The Tall One from Tallin became discouraged now and then, but she fought on. In the end, though, after eleven breaks of serve, it was Zvonareva-- playing very carefully and serving as well as she could in windy conditions--who took the 6-3, 7-5 victory. The 7th seed hit only ten winners, but she made less than half the unforced errors her opponent made.

Advancing to the U.S. Open semifinals is the best day-late birthday gift Zvonareva could ask for. She turned 26 yesterday. Zvonareva reached the final at Wimbledon, and will try to repeat that feat when she plays the winner of tonight's match between Carolina Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova.

Miscellany

Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession, entered the New York Times best-seller list as number 5 last week. Author Venus Williams came to win last night, and is in the semifinals of the 2010 U.S. Open.

Martina Hingis is--once again--contemplating a return to the tour as a doubles player.

The late-night U.S. Open quarterfinal played by Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva took its toll on both of them. Stosur had trouble getting out of bed Monday morning, and was not able to hit for very long. Dementieva said that she felt "a bit sleepy" during the match.

I understand that U.S. commentators have neither the manners nor the motivation to learn how to pronounce "foreign" players' names, but maybe they can't help themselves, since some of them cannot pronounce "Huber" or "Evert," either. And how surprised am I than a multiple-major winner, long-time commentator and self-professed know-it-all cannot pronounce "athlete"?

Esther Vergeer, along with several other players, is featured in Vanity Fair. (Thanks to Forty Deuce for this link.)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands reports that: Lisa Raymond keeps taking Mattek-Sands' lucky number 23 locker, Maria Sharapova likes to play Scrabble on her iPad, Nadia Petrova drinks an "alien green" sports drink, and Timea Bacsinszky burned holes into her tennis skirt while ironing it at the last minute.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

She's just so feisty that you have to kind of keep her at bay.
Venus Williams, referring to Francesca Schiavone

A lot of times, I felt like I didn't know what to do--step forward, step back...
Kim Clijsters

I'm so angry. Instead of attacking and going for the lines, I should have played a little safer and put the ball in.
Francesca Schiavone

You've been here before, obviously, but do you feel any responsibility...like "I'm carrying America's hope" now that you're the last one?
If I felt like that, I don't think I'd be able to even raise my arms.
Venus Williams

They shouldn't let woman ushers work this long a day, should they, John?
Pam Shriver, to John McEnroe, after an usher let spectators in at the wrong time

Defending champion Clijsters to play Venus Williams in U.S. Open semifinals

It wasn't pretty, but defending champion Kim Clijsters prevailed tonight in a wind-swept, error-filled 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 quarterfinal match against Sam Stosur at the U.S. Open. Clijsters, the tournament's 2nd seed, had a lot of trouble with her serve, double-faulting eight times. For half of the match, Stosur was unable to hit a volley. There were fifteen breaks of serve, including all of Stosur's games in the final set. Clijsters made 36 unforced errors, and Stosur made 43.

Stosur's second set revival seemed to come out of nowhere, and she fought her way through the same way she did against Elena Dementieva in the round of 16. In that match, however, she was able to sustain a higher level of play, and she also had some help from a flustered Dementieva in the tiebreak. Tonight, she was able to break Clijsters in the third set, even though she couldn't hold her own serve. Clijsters, however, in her second career, has become better at closing big matches, and she was able to put a favorable end (with an ace) to an unfavorable contest.

This is the first time that 5th seed Stosur has advanced beyond the second round of the U.S. Open. Clijsters is now on a 19-match U.S. Open winning streak. She own the U.S. Open in 2005 and 2009, with the latter win coming shortly after she came back from retirement from pro tennis.

In the meantime, two-time champion Venus Williams, who--prior to arriving in Flushing Meadows--had not played since Wimbledon, made her way to the semifinals with a 7-6, 6-4 win over French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. The first set was very competitive, with Schiavone coming back from a 0-4 deficit in the tiebreak. Both sets were fun to watch because both women are such great movers and volleyers. But they, too, had to deal with the wind, and Williams committed nine double faults. There were mis-hit volleys and flying tennis balls. Schiavone hit with her signature spin, but the wind pulled even some of those shots outside the court. She threw in plenty of slices, but Williams was ready for her, and utilized her aggression to outplay the 6th seed.

Williams, who is seeded 3rd at the tournament, will play Clijsters in the semfinals. Last year, they met in the round of 16, and Clijsters won, with the odd score of 6-0, 0-6, 6-4. There is some indication that the wind may let up by Friday. Williams and Clijsters will play on Arthur Ashe Court, however, which is somewhat windy, even under normal conditions.

Top seeds Dulko & Pennetta out of U.S. Open

1st seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta were taken out of the U.S. Open today in the quarterfinals. The number 6 seeds, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, defeated Dulko and Pennetta 6-3, 6-3. Dulko and Pennetta looked a bit shaky yesterday, so this wasn't a complete surprise. Their opponents were simply too aggressive for them today. In the last game, the top seeds were broken at love when Flavia Pennetta double-faulted.

King and Shvedova won the Wimbledon championship.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Top seeds advance to U.S. Open mixed doubles semifinals

Top seeds Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan have made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open mixed doubles competition. They will play 4th seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Daniel Nestor. In the other semifinal match, Kveta Peschke and Aisam-Ul-Hak Qureshi will play Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Mark Knowles.

Groenefeld and Knowles defeated 2nd seeds Cara Black and Leander Paes in the quarterfinals.

Charleston named "Best Tennis Town" in U.S.

At the end of July, I reported that Charleston, South Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia were the three finalists of the ten cities nominated by the USTA for the second annual title of "Best Tennis Town." Today, the USTA announced that Charleston is the winner; the announcement was made today on Arthur Ashe Court at the U.S. Open. Charleston was selected for the title through online voting in July.

The city of Charleston will receive $100,000 to be used to enhance citywide tennis programming and/or facilities. There are 580 tennis courts in Charleston, which is the home of the Family Circle Cup, one of the most historically significant and fan-friendly tournaments in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's schedule.

U.S. Open--what they said

She's gonna come out at the wrong end of a bash-a-thon.
Elise Bergen, commenting on Dominika Cibulkova

Her game was difficult for you?
I played against myself, not against her.
Svetlana Kuznetsova

I don't think I'm crazy or anything like that; I'm trying to pump myself up...keep myself into the match.
Vera Zvonareva, answering questions about her on-court behavior

Is it disappointing, particularly after last year?
Well, last year has nothing to do with this year. So this is a different year. Yes, of course every match you lose is disappointing a little bit. I know I had my chances. I could have won the second set. Yeah, I mean, a lot of bad things happen in life. But that's okay. Still a good match for me. I'm going to learn out of it and take it to the next one.
Yanina Wickmayer

Everybody is getting a bit crazy about the results back at home, are they?
No, I think they are very polite. They are not approaching me that much. But I see that they recognize me, talk to each other. But, no, it's okay. It's very calm.
Kaia Kanepi

Her racquet head and her "head" head are in lockstep with each other.
Elise Bergen, commenting on Svetlana Kuznetsova

I think I'm a really tough player. I never give up. Doesn't matter what the score is. And I think that makes me tough to beat, as well. I think that's one of my strengths.
Caroline Wozniacki

Ah, being short. You know, I don't take this like disadvantage, because, you know, okay, I'm short, but, you know, I'm really quick. I can be fast on the court, and I have no problem with the low balls. I still can play fast and step into the court, so I really like the way I'm short. Maybe I could be little more centimeters taller for my serve, but it's still nothing like, you know, I really struggle with.
Dominika Cibulkova

Do you feel it was just a lack of aggression or was it sometimes just on execution?
It was a combination. Like I said, I mean, there's no doubt she played really well, the best she's played against me. You know, she served extremely well. But I still had many opportunities in the match. Being 1 for 8 in breakpoints, that's pretty bad, to say the least, especially when you have second serve opportunities, easy unforced errors. It's maybe a little bit of a lack of concentration.
Maria Sharapova

I would never say the field is wide open.
Vera Zvonareva

Top seeds falter, but advance to U.S. Open quarterfinals

It's probably a good thing that Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta are close friends. Dulko showed the expected (but perhaps hard to come by) restraint and support today when Penenetta hit volley after volley into the net, and then hit a few volleys long. The Italian's volley nightmare occurred in a U.S.Open round third round match the top seeds played against 13th seeds Monica Niculescu and Shahar Peer. I lost count of the number of volleys Pennetta missed in that set, and I have no idea what happened to her.

It was no surprise, given the net issues, that Dulko and Pennetta failed to convert several set points (five or six--I lost count of that, too), and lost the first set in a tiebreak. Pennetta arrived on court for the next set a different player, and she and Dulko won it 6-1. They won the final set 6-2. The stand-out player in this match was Dulko, whose returns were often inspired, and who moved fluently around the court, operating with keen doubles instinct.

The other stand-out doubles player I saw today was Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who--backed up by Meghann Shaughnessy's big serving--helped take her team to a 6-4, 6-1 upset of 4th seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Mattek-Sands and Shaughnessy are seeded 15th.

I don't feel like dancin'

No sir, no dancin' today

The Petkovic boogie is out, and the Zvonareva backhand is in. The 7th seed may have had a tiny bit of trouble with the wind, but she had practically no trouble with opponent Andrea Petkovic. Zvonareva broke Petkovic six times, hit eighteen winners, made ten of eleven volleys, and committed only fourteen unforced errors.

Petkovic, who possesses a big serve but doesn't always have it available for use, won on only 33% of her first serves. Toward the end of the match, she broke Zvonareva when the the 7th seed served for the match, but she was quickly broken back.

(In Zvonareva's post-match interview on ESPN, commentator Hannah Storm referred to Dominika Cibulkova as "inexperienced" in major tournaments. This statement, in one form or another, is just more of the usual. It's as if her semifinal run in last year's French Open never existed.)

After her first two wins, Petkovic put on an exhibition of dancing for the spectators. She was taken out 6-1, 6-2 tonight, so fans will have to wait to see what Petkovic's next moves will be.

"NO one's from Estonia"

Last year, Pam Shriver got into some trouble by dismissing U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer as more or less a nobody, and Belgium as more or less nowhere. Today, it was Wickmayer's opponent who got the treatment. Doug Adler, responding to Virginia Wade's comment that Kaia Kanepi was a shy person, said "Of course she's shy--she's from Estonia. No one's from Estonia."

It wasn't a terrible thing to say, but it reflects an almost consistent attitude that U.S. commentators have--that other countries have names that are "hard to pronounce," that other countries are not important. And--given all the comments made by commentators that are sexist, and that reflect a total ignorance of women's tennis--a little put-down of Estonia is a not-too-funny joke that perhaps isn't that significant.

I mention it, though, not because it's that disturbing, but rather, because it is representative of dozens of thoughtlescomments made by tennis commentators and writers. From Tracy Austin's patronizing description of players as "young ladies" to commentators calling 20-something-year-old women "girls" to Tim Henman's (successful) attempt to get ATP players to trash the WTA, to the mockery of players' names on both tours, it's often hard to keep the sound on.

Having said all that, it's only fair for me to also say that--except for one or two notable occasions--I think Pam Shriver is one the best commentators around. She's knowledgeable, witty, and, in the last couple of years, has become outspoken about bigotry directed toward women. I missed her this weekend, but she'll be back for the second week of the U.S. Open.

And she won't have to face Yanina Wickmayer.

It's alive, it's moving...it's ALIVE!

Kaia Kanepi has a history of freezing from anxiety, but she outdid herself today when she allowed 15th seed Yanina Wickmayer to roll over her 6-0 in the first set of their U.S. Open round of 16 match. Kanepi looked as though she had glue on the bottom of her shoes, and to make the contrast more dramatic, Wickmayer was jumping up and down between points and looking like she was powered by the Energizer bunny.

I was hoping that Kanepi had overcome the problem with her nerves, but apparently, she hasn't. But, to her credit, as the second set began, the Tall One from Tallinn slowly came to life, though she went down a break in the second set. She had a set point at 5-4, which Wickmayer saved. The set went to a tiebreak, which Kanepi won decisively, at 7-2. After that, the Estonian rolled, as Wickmayer made more and more errors, and Kanepi found her big serve. Kanepi went up 5-0, in fact, then Wickmayer finally won a game. But that was the only game she was to win in that set.

Wickmayer was a semifinalist in last year's Open, and for a while, she looked on track to meet either Andrea Petkovic or Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals. But now it will be the 31st seed who goes for a semifinal slot in Flushing Meadows. The turnaround on both sides in this match was dramatic.

There wasn't a turnaround--not a significant one, anyway, in the final daytime match. Maria Sharapova waited too long to adjust her game against top seed Caroline Wozniacki, and even when she did, the 2006 champion once again could not find her serve.

There were moments of hope for Sharapova fans, however. Down 2-4, 0-40 in the first set, Sharapova held, then broke Wozniacki. But the Russian was unable to hold her serve in the next game. She did save a couple of set points when Wozniacki served for the set at 5-3, but Wozniacki prevailed with a 6-3 first set win.

In the second set--when the 14th seed began to volley and to hit more angled shots--she had a break point when Wozniacki served at 1-2, but that was erased. She would go on to save a match point on her own serve, but the 1st seed had no trouble serving for a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Sharapova hit 32 winners, but she also made 36 unforced errors, and she double-faulted nine times. Wozniacki hit 16 winners and made only 10 unforced errors. She looked as solid as she could be, and I can only imagine what a straight-set win over Sharapova does for her confidence. Wozniacki is about as tough as they come. Sharapova, also known for her toughness, obviously isn't "back" yet.

I enjoyed the Sharapova-Wozniacki match, but it started while the Kanepi-Wickmayer match was still in progress, and I had trouble taking my eyes off of the strange goings-on in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Sometimes--at least for me--the more unusual matches are the compelling ones. So far, my favorite two have been the Stosur-Dementieva match and the Schnyder-Wickmayer match. I also enjoyed watching Venus Williams play Shahar Peer, and all of Francesca Schiavone's matches, just because she played in them.

Unseeded Cibulkova upsets Kuznetsova at U.S. Open

There was talk among commentators this morning about what Cibulkova's ranking would be if she were not stuck with being five feet, three inches tall. One of the things I dislike most about the evolution of tennis into a "power game" is that short people are at such a disadvantage. Only last night, Martina Navratilova talked about what a great server Rosie Casals was, but one can only imagine what the diminutive Rosebud would have to go through if she played on the tour now.

Cibulkova suffers with almost chronic hip problems, and--not surprisingly--her share of back problems. Her thigh was wrapped in today's round of 16 match, and she did call for the trainer at one point. In the second round, she played a match that lasted 3 hours and 13 minutes, and I feared then for her physical health.

However, despite having a fragile thigh and being down in both sets, Cibulkova thoughtfully placed her sometimes-booming groundstrokes, holding her nerve while 11th seed and 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova made errors. Cibulkova won the first set 7-5, and served for the second set at 5-3. It was then that she showed her first sign of anxiety, and Kuznetsova saved two match points. The set ultimately went to a tiebreak, but--unlike some unseeded players who miss their chance and then fold--Cibulkova was again steady in her shot-making, and moved into the quarterfinals.

Cibulkova, who has been ranked as high as 19, is currently ranked number 45 in the world. Kuznetsova was considered by some to be a contender for this year's title, especially since she hired Amelie Mauresmo's former coach and fitness trainer, and looked good through the first three rounds of the U.S. Open. But she made 42 unforced errors in today's match, and double-faulted 10 times. It isn't the first time that Kuznetsova has wilted in an important match, and today she was unlucky enough to be playing a woman who doesn't give up easily.

Stosur wins U.S. Open late-night thriller

To a great extent, fans of women's tennis could predict what would happen in last night's very late round of 16 match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open: 12th seed Elena Dementieva would make 5th seed Sam Stosur's forehand suddenly look not so threatening, Stosur would become passive for part of the match, and--at some point--Dementieva would have some sort of mental collapse. What we couldn't predict was the order in which those things occurred.

This match had so much drama, and so many twists and turns, one could probably write a novella-sized text about it. Suffice it to say that Dementieva's returns did indeed neutralize many of Stosur's forehand shots, Stosur played several games without exhibiting any aggression, and--at the very end--Dementieva came unglued.

Stosur took the first set fairly easily because her serve was working so well for her. But it began to fail her, as it does from time to time, in the second set, (how many times will commentators continue to say "This is the first time I've ever seen Stosur's serve fail her"?), and she also made a stream of unforced errors. Dementieva was quick to take advantage of Stosur's service problems, took the second set, and--breaking her opponent five times in a row--went up 3-0 in the third set.

At this point, Stosur appeared locked to the baseline, not moving forward to put any pressure on Dementieva. But slowly, she came out of her passive mode, and broke back for a 3-all score, and then the real thrills began. Stosur began relying almost exclusively on her kick serve. Dementieva broke again, and held a match point when she served for the match at 5-3. Stosur saved that match point, but then quickly went down in her own service game, handing the 12th seed three more match points, all of which she failed to convert. Stosur then held a match point on her own serve, which Dementieva saved.

By this time, it was very late, and the crowd was completely enthralled with the over-the-top effort made by both women in their attempts to escape losing the match. It seemed only appropriate that the entire battle of nerves, athleticism and tennis savvy would wind up in a tiebreak. But it was at that point that Dementieva's focus broke down, and her winning forehand broke down with her. Stosur swept the tiebreak 7-2, handing Dementieva what had to be an extraordinarily disappointing loss, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6. (Stosur's point total for the match was 106, Dementieva's was 107.)

Stosur's comeback was noteworthy. Down 0-3, down 3-5, and facing four match points, she prevailed.

There were fifteen breaks of serve in the match, which didn't end until after 1:30 a.m. New York time. Dementieva hit 19 winners and made 38 unforced errors. Stosur hit 35 winners and made 58 unforced errors. The match may not have been that clean, but the third set was exciting enough to make up for it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

...I was on the big stage again. I didn't have that feeling for a long time. You know, lots of kind of emotions came back, and I felt just a little slow and just a little bit, you know, out of it.
Ana Ivanovic

Sorry about the ridiculousness of this question, but they were making a big deal on TV about you tugging at your dress. You just didn't seem comfortable out there. I know it was windy, but was the dress bothering at all?
No. The only thing that bothered me was when I didn't win the point, I think. That was it.
Venus Williams

Like a shark in the water.
Chanda Rubin, referring to Francesca Schiavone

But I do think it can give me more for the future, because every time I played Venus I had tough time and she was always kind of killing me every match. So today was much closer match, and I think I'm playing better. I just need to take it to the end of the year also, because I don't think I played very well the last couple of weeks.
Shahar Peer

baby-faced assassin
Ravi Ubha, describing Caroline Wozniacki

When you are inside and ballet or a concert or tennis, you are so inside of you that the show is to be, to do the best that you are. So this is similar things.
Francesca Schiavone

They have to hit hard, and when they have to change up, they hit harder.
Chanda Rubin, discussing current players

Obviously her game is better than ever now. Seems like everybody is hitting their stride at thirty. It's the new twenty.
Venus Williams, commenting on Francesca Schiavone

Don't tell me it's because of the racquet technology. It's not trained; it's not applied.
Luke Jensen, on the lack of net play on both tours

I think it's something, you can either look at it as something frustrating or you can look at it as, okay, this is something that tactically can help you maybe a little bit.
Kim Clijsters, commenting on the wind

For sure on the clay I have more time, so I can take you and go ten shots, twenty shots, thirty shots. Here is not like this. But in the same way, I can do serve and volley, I can play faster, I can play slow and back. Is a mix. It's like Capricciosa pizza. I don't give you margherita, I give you Capricciosa, different kind of ingredient.
Francesca Schiavone

King & Shvedova win 3-hour thriller

If ever there were a match you hated to see someone lose, it was the riveting 3rd round doubles match played at the U.S. Open today by Wimbledon champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova and their opponents, Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. It lasted over three hours, and featured play that was, at times, breathtaking. Seeded 6th, King and Shvedova won the first set in an 11-9 tiebreak, and Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova won the second, 6-3.

The final set was tension-filled, like a tightrope walk between two buildings that appear to be close together--unless you're on the rope. Benesova was a stand-out throughout much of the set, using her strong forehand to attack her oppenents' serve, and Zahlavova Strycova often shone at the net. At times, King and Shvedova put on the same kind of show they put on at Wimbledon, though not as consistently. King is steady and calm and can retain focus and accuracy for an extended period of time, and Shvedova is a risk-taker who moves splendidly at the net.

King and Shvedova served for the match at 5-3, but were broken. Serving a 6-5, Zahlavova Strycova double-faulted twice during the game, and a tiebreak ensued. The Czech went up a quick mini-break in the tiebreak, but then Benesova, who had served very well throughout the match, double-faulted twice in a row. Later in the tiebreak, each team held a match point but could not convert it. The Czech team held a match point at 7-6, but Benesova hit an easy volley into the net. Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova held another match point at 8-7, but that one was saved by Shvedova.

Benesova then mis-hit a ball, but got her team back on track with a huge serve. There was another big serve from the Benesova at 9-all, but King--stretched out wide at the net--hit an even bigger return. It was then Shvedova's turn to serve, and this time, she hit it long and flat, got an error in return, and she and King won the match 7-6, 6-3, 7-6.

This match had everything, and all four players are to be commended for providing the ultimate in excitement for fans. Both tiebreaks went to 11 points, and the momentum swung relentlessly. Commentators and writers pay attention to singles only, but the real thriller of the tournament, so far, was this one.

The elders gather

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had an elbow problem during her U.S. Open round of 16 match, but she had an even bigger Italian problem: French Open champion Francesca Schiavone sliced, spun, and out-served the Russian, and won the match 6-3, 6-0 in just an hour and eight minutes. 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, the highest-ranking teenager on the tour, has had a variety of physical problems lately--her hip, shoulder and arm have all given her given her trouble. Today, she said, the arm pain spread to her elbow. The 30-year-old Schiavone, who is seeded 6th, used her signature one-handed backhand to keep 20th-seeded Pavlyuchenkova on the run, and set up a number of volleys, which she executed with style.

Schiavone will face another volleying 30-year-old in the quarterfinals. Venus Williams, the tournament's 3rd seed, faced one of the tour's biggest fighters, Shahar Peer, today. The first set was all about breaks of serve. Williams had trouble getting her first serve in, and Peer was keen to take advantage of this. They played some great rallies, and produced an outstanding game when Peer served at 5-6. Earlier in the set, she had come back to hold after being down 0-40, and she did it again in this crucial game. She double-faulted for the first time when she reached the 5th deuce, but hung on. On the 7th deuce point, Peer stretched out for a winning volley, and followed it with a winning forehand down the line. (It was Peer's forehand, in fact, that helped her compete with Williams throughout the match.)

Williams dominated the tiebreak, won it 7-3, then went up 2-0 right away in the second set. And though she was broken in the latter part of that set, she put on a display of volleying that left Peer behind. Williams, who won 20 of 26 net points, defeated Peer 7-6, 6-3, giving her a 6-0 record against the 16th seed. The 3rd seed did not appear to be troubled by her knee, but perhaps was troubled by the wind when she served. 

There was one other daytime round of 16 match, and it lasted only 59 minutes. Defending champion Kim Clijsters broke Ana Ivanovic six times and defeated her 6-2, 6-1. Ivanovic had trouble with her ball toss again, and held serve only once. She made 28 unforced errors, and did not display the improvement we've seen from her in the last few weeks. 

In the quarterfinals, Clijsters will play the winner of the Sam Stosur-Elena Dementieva match.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

U.S. Open--what they said

You get frustrated with the wind because you want to hit balls, you know, in certain direction, and they go, you know, everywhere except where you want them to go. And then as well it's physical because you have to move your feet a lot more. You have to be alert. You have to really focus, because the ball is moving, you know, everywhere, and, you know, you're just about to hit it and it goes, you know, away from you. It's difficult.
Jelena Jankovic
This is using every ounce of her leftiness.
Elise Bergen, after Patty Schnyder spun a forehand down the line

...in certain situations -- you know, coming into juniors, I was playing girls that were much older than I am. You'd be in a position where it's 6-all in the third, and I'd have to battle it out. You know, I found a way to stay calm, and, you know, be tough inside of me. It wasn't really about, you know, seeing an error from the other side, and, you know, saying, "come on" or pumping the fist. It was more of a feeling you had inside of staying calm. That's kind of the toughness that I felt. Like I said, it's certainly won me many matches.
Maria Sharapova

Had you ever been double bageled before?
Yeah, like six months ago, actually.
Beatrice Capra

I can't do anything!
Jelena Jankovic, yelling at her box

I would go on the court, we'd set a date of when I can start hitting the ball and hitting a few serves, and I'd hit forehands and backhands and I was fine. I tried to hit a serve, and I couldn't. I was still in a lot of pain. That was even after the rehab and after surgery. Coming back from that and setting another timetable for yourself and doing it over and over again until, you know, I slowly found myself working myself up to hitting 10 to 15 serves, 20 serves, and being able to do that without pain and really being patient, and, you know, going back to Phoenix over and over again for months on end, I mean, that, I think that took a lot. You know, because I think I could easily at this stage in my career just say, you know, I have won Grand Slams; I have been there and done that. But I never felt like I had enough.
Maria Sharapova

When you were a junior, was the whole Maria image thing something that you thought maybe one day you'd emulate?
Um, which way?
Well, she's the big Nike girl. You're now Stella McCartney.
Well, you know, to be honest, Kournikova was always for me the girl that I thought was just I wanted to be like her, definitely, you know. I thought she was very pretty; she was handling everything really nicely. You saw her everywhere in the commercials. I think I would more go for Kournikova.
Caroline Wozniacki

Forget Rafael Nadal—if you want a gun show, just watch Kirilenko warm up for practice.
Sarah Unke

Who do you think will win this tournament? Yourself or somebody else?
That's a funny question. Going into a tournament, if you think that anyone else is gonna win but you, you've got some serious problems. You shouldn't enter it.
Maria Sharapova

When Schnyder gets out on the court against a big hitter like Wickmayer, her goal is to drive her crazy.
Elise Bergen

Zvonareva into U.S. Open round of 16

Most of us have watched Alexandra Dulgheru give opponents trouble on clay courts. Tonight, on a fast hard court, she gave Vera Zvonareva some trouble, and the wind gave both of them plenty of trouble. 25th seed Dulgheru, for all her clever shot-making, couldn't keep a lead because she made so many unforced errors. Over and over, she set up winners, only to erase them by hitting balls into the net or outside the lines. The second set was quite entertaining, and Zvonareva won the match 6-2, 7-6. The 7th seed will play Andrea Petkovic in the next round.

11th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova reversed a losing trend against 25th seed Maria Kirilenko, defeating her 6-3, 6-4. Kuznetsova took control of the match with a consistently good serve, and looked comfortable and confident. In the next round, she will play Dominika Cibulkova, who defeated Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-1.

In doubles, top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta advanced with a 6-0, 6-4 defeat of Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova. In mixed doubles, Melania Oudin and Ryan Harrison took the first set off of Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, but the top seeds won the match, 5-7, 6-1, 10-3.

Wickmayer wins thriller against Schnyder

If you're a fan of Patty Schnyder, I feel your pain.

Actually, I may be too preoccupied with feeling my own pain.

Wickmayer defeated Schnyder 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 today in Flushing Meadows, and now advances to the U.S. Open round of 16. Wickmayer, who was a semifinalist last year, was visibly relieved to escape Schnyder, who pulled out every shot for which she is known--and then some--against the 15th seed. The Swiss veteran dropped, spun, served out wide, changed pace, kicked the ball up in the wind, and generally made a nuisance of herself against a player who likes to play short  points.

The first set was tense, and Wickmayer won secured the tiebreak 7-5. In the second set, Schnyder appeared to conquer the wind, and was able to play her classic lefty, spinning, dropping, "I don't care how hard you want to hit the ball" game. She took the set 6-3.

The third set was so tension-filled, it was impossible to take your eyes away from it. Each player had multiple opportunities to get ahead, and--serving at 3-4--Schnyder saved three break points to hold serve. She then forced Wickmayer into a deuce service game, but the 15th seed hit a huge serve, which was followed by a point won on a mis-hit from Schnyder. Soon after, Wickmayer held a match point, which Schnyder saved, and the pair wound up in a second tiebreak.

As a viewer, I was exhausted at this point, and I could only imagine how the players felt, especially since the wind sometimes made it so hard for them to hit toward the lines. And just when you thought that one of them might let up mentally, a winner or a stunning defensive shot would be produced.

Schnyder went up 5-3 in the tiebreak, but could not hold on to the mini-break. Later, she held a match point, but Wickmayer saved it. Schnyder then saved another match point, and there was every reason to believe in her mental strength at that point. But at 6-7, she missed a serve out wide, and the second serve (which she either hit too far out wide, or it was carried a bit by the wind) went out, also. And just like that, it was over.

The match lasted two hours and 33 minutes, though it seemed to go on much longer. Schnyder hit 40 winners and made 41 unforced errors. Wickmayer hit 31 winners and made 47 unforced errors. It was hardly a clean match for the Belgian, but she fought impressively for every point she made, and was able to defeat not only a very clever opponent, but one whom she had never before played.

They call the wind Maria

Conditions were so windy at the U.S. Open today that players had to tone down their best shots, stay away from the lines, and deal with both with-the-wind and against-the-wind pressure. This seemed to do Jelena Jankovic in; however, I once saw Jankovic play expertly in post-tornado winds that were worse than what we saw in Flushing Meadows today. Granted, that court was slower, but that was also another Jankovic.

Today, Jankovic had to handle not only the wind, but also her opponent, Kaia Kanepi. The Tall One from Tallinn manged the wind, if not expertly, with considerably more control than Jankovic, and ran over her in a second set tiebreak. Kanepi, who was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, defeated the 4th seed 6-2, 7-6. To say that Jankovic has been "out of sorts" in this tournament would be to teeter on the brink of understatement. She's been rolling her eyes, yelling at the people in her box, and--more unusual (we are talking about JJ)--missing shots, even in good weather conditions, that are usually her keys to victory.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki had an easy time of it--again--today, defeating Chan Yung-Jan 6-1, 6-0. Dominika Cibulkova  also had an easy match, defeating Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-1.

And then there was Maria Sharapova, who blew Beatrice Capra over, 6-0, 6-0. The wind was really strong, of course, making the occasion especially difficult for Capra. Sharapova's next task is to play Wozniacki. Neither player has had any real difficulty so far; Sharapova's first match became easy when Jarmila Groth self-destructed.

Sharapova is seeded 16th, but the number--in this case--is not relevant. The 2006 champion appears to have overcome both her shoulder injury and her consequent service issues. Of course, under pressure, she could have problems again, and we won't know about that until she is standing across the net from Wozniacki. The two have played each other twice, and Sharapova won both matches in straight sets. However, these matches were played in 2008, and in tennis time, that's very old news. One thing is practically certain--the Sharapova-Wozniacki clash is going to be an exciting one.

Petkovic gets walkover to U.S. Open round of 16

Andrea Petkovic received a walkover in the third round of the U.S. Open today. Peng Shuai, who injured her wrist playing doubles, was not able to compete in the third round. Peng upset 9th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round. Peng, who is no stranger to injury, also missed quite a bit of time on the tour this season because of illness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

U.S. Open doubles update

2nd seeds Liezel Huber and Nadia Petrova defeated the Bondarenko sisters in straight sets today in the second round of the U.S. Open. Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko defeated Aravane Rezai and Yanina Wickmayer in the first round.

Wimbledon champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, who are seeded 6th at the Open, moved to the third round with a defeat of Jarmila Groth and Klara Zakopalova. 15th seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy defeated Daniela Hantuchova and Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.

Yesterday, top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta advanced to the second round.