No one ever says that the old school white-wearing, understated Ekaterina Makarova "likes the big stage," but obviously, she does. The "other" blonde Russian has so much hitting talent that for years, I've asked "Why isn't she ranked higher?" and "Why isn't she winning tournaments?" And then Makarova will play wildly inconsistently, and I'll be reminded, yet again, of the answer to those questions.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the majors, Makarova brings her best tennis. She's reached the quarterfinals of a major five times; today marked the second consecutive year that she has reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. In doing so, Madarova upset 7th seed Genie Bouchard today, and what will the commentators/sponsors/WTA executives//marketing specialists do now?
The Canadian star has had a remarkable season at the majors, reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. Today, however, she was done in by the heat in the stadium, and by the fierce serving and hitting of Makarova. It seemed to me to be Makarova's match to lose, even before it started. Bouchard hasn't had much of a summer hard court experience, and also, it seems to me that the Russian stores up her mental energy for these huge occasions, and then just lets loose.
Today, Makarova looked like she was going to take the first set 6-3, but her serve went to pieces (this is Makarova we're talking about) and she was easily broken when she served at 5-3. The set went to a tiebreak, with Makarova playing a few stunning points to get the score even. She won the first point of the tiebreak on Bouchard's serve, and then all but cruised through the rest of it, taking it 7-2.
Makarova led 3-2 in the second set when Bouchard took a medical timeout and was treated for heat illness. By this time, both players were sweating like crazy, and Makarova's face was bright red. Perspiration dripped from the edge of Bouchard's dress onto the court as she took a seat to be given an ice rubdown and a blood pressure check (it could have been worse--she could have been playing that other Russian). Usually, during this type of break, an experienced opponent would be on the court practicing her serve, or at least moving around, but it was too hot and humid for that; Makarova sat in her chair, wrapped an ice towel around her neck, and drank liquids.
When Bouchard returned to the court, she was broken right away, but then she broke her opponent right back. Neither of them looked as though they could endure much more of the weather. But it was the Russian who stayed steady. Serving at 4-5, Bouchard went down 0-40, and Makarova won on her first match point.
Earlier in the day, Flavia Pennetta reached her second straight U.S. Open quarterfinal, defeating Casey Dellacqua 7-5, 6-2, and top seed Serena Williams defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-4, thereby reaching her first major quarterfinal of 2014.
There was a big upset in doubles. Kimiko Date-Krumm and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat 2nd seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai 7-6, 6-4. In mixed doubles, life-long friends Taylor Townsend and Donald Young reached the semifinals when they defeated Ashleigh Barty and John Peers.