Saturday, May 30, 2015

The conundrum of "Serenativity"

I'm borrowing one of WTA Backspin's special words because "Sernativity" is the only word that fits in this context. The conundrum is this: If you play Serena Williams and you get behind, she'll destroy you. And if you play Serena and you get ahead (unless you're having a Muguruza Moment), she'll destroy you. Ask anyone on the tour, only maybe not Vika Azarenka, at least not today.

Azarenka and Williams competed against each other at the French Open today, with a very on-target and aggressive Azarenka taking the first set, 6-4. The second set was close, and serving at 4-5 while facing a break point, Azarenka had to deal with more than she should have. She hit a ball in, it was called out, only late. Williams hit it, but claimed that the call interfered with her return. The point was replayed, to the discontent of Azarenka. Williams then proceeded to win the set.

After leaving the court and, so it seemed, re-focusing herself, Azarenka returned and immediately went up 2-0 in the third set. But you know how these things go: Williams put the clamps on, broke back, and the next thing you knew, she had won the set 6-2. It was a good enough match, and it surprised me a bit. When I wrote yesterday that I thought this match would be less dramatic than past Williams-Azarenka matches, I was guessing that Serena would take this one in straight sets.

So we've gotten throught the Williams vs. Azarenka drama, but next we have the Williams vs. Stephens drama. Or not. Maybe there will be no drama, just a quiet round of 16 match. Maybe.

The top seed moves on, but sadly, Francesa Schiavone does not. Schiavone lost today to Andreea Mitu, who beat her 7-5, 6-4. Mitu has made quite a pest of herself at this tournament, and now faces Alison Van Uytvanck, who efficiently took Kiki Mladenovic out of competition today. Van Uytvanck played well and was remarkably calm, but she was also lucky to get a sluggish, out-of-sorts Mladenovic.

Sara Errani defeated Andrea Petkovic today, and Julia Goerges defeated Irina Falconi. Stephens advanced by beating Tsvetana Pironkova, and Timea Bacsinszky defeated Madison Keys.

French Open officials continually schedule the matches I most want to see at a time when I just can't be awake. This has happened over and over, and will happen again tomorrow when  Elina Svitolina and Alize Cornet face off. I may actually have to find a way to get up and watch it, but I'm not counting on it.

Lucie Safarova of the tricky lefty serve gets the defending champion, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Ivanovic plays Ekaterina Makarova. Of interest is the fourth match, in which Flavia Pennetta takes on Garbine Muguruza. If Muguruza has one of her letdowns and starts double-faulting and everything that goes with that, Pennetta will be glad to move on to the quarterfinals. It's not at all an unrealistic scenario. But if Muguruza prevails, it puts her closer to really spoiling the good times of some other players. Muguruza hasn't figured out the head part of her game yet, but the potential is there for danger, should she snap her mentality into place.

Third seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic were upset today by the unseeded (but obviously dangerous) team of Daniela Hantuchova and Samantha Stosur. Also, the "older dream team" of Kimiko Date-Krumm and Francesca Schiavone were defeated by Michaela Krajicek and Barbora Strycova.


Todd.Spiker said...

I think I was expecting a straight sets Serena win today, too. So, I was both pleased AND frustrated by Vika's performance. Even though this one was against Serena (which is sort of an-encompassing "pass" for ANY loss), this pattern of losing leads this season is something she just has to break free of sooner or later.

I keep hanging on the notion that this whole climb back is aimed at peaking during the hard court season. Hopefully, the Vika we saw in the first set and half will win out in the end. Could make for a great Open.

Oh, and hey... PINK SHORTS! Even Serena liked them! :)

Diane said...

Yes, the shorts can only lead to better things :)

Is it I, or does anyone else think Vika is still carrying some extra weight?

Eric said...

I actually felt like Vika is starting to lose some of the extra weight... If you compare Vika 2012 when she won the her first grand slam to now, she is bigger than before...but I've always attributed that to added core strength. She's really strong. There's a youtube clip of her doing dead lifts like Olympic style weight lifters do. She added that to her training program for 2015.

Eric said...

I'm so surprised that Goerges is the last German standing. I thought it would have been Kerber.

Ana Ivanovic is playing well...but I feel like she always plays well for the "wrong" reason. Her boyfriend is here supporting her and she's playing motivated tennis. I know I should be happy for her since happiness is individual; and she deserves a good tournament for her persistence/professionalism and overall grace through the years...but I feel like she should recognize her inner strength and do well for herself for once.

This post is prob going to land me hot water. le sigh

Diane said...

Perhaps Vika is losing some of the weight. It's hard for me to tell, especially with the hideous outfits Nike gives her.

I was never very interested in figuring Ivanovic out, which turned out to be advantageous, since she's such an enigma. I just don't "get" Ivanovic. However, Eric, you bring up a good point--that perhaps she is too motivated by things outside herself. I'd never even thought of that, but again, I've never spent much time thinking about Ivanovic. It's too confusing!