Saturday, September 3, 2016

Plishy breaks the curse, Keys gets mentally tough, Vinci stays alive

The third round of singles at the U.S. Open has contained a lot of thrills, though they may not have been the type fans were expecting. Most thrilling was Madison Keys' comeback from 1-5 down in the third set to defeat star-in-the-making Naomi Osaka. In the end, Keys found her champion mode, while Osaka blinked rather heavily.

Simona Halep cruised through her first set against Timea Babos, but Babos found her rhythm (not surprisingly--she's getting increasingly dangerous) and took the second set from a somewhat slumping Halep. It was obvious that Babos, who was on quite a streak in the second set, got into Halep's head, and we all know what that can mean. But the 5th seed calmed herself and slowed herself down in the final set to walk away with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory.

Former finalist Caroline Wozniacki surprised many by getting through the third round, Petra Kvitova probably surprised many, too (not a nice thing to have to write), when she prevailed over Elina Svitolina. Kvitova has cut her practice time drastically, which may be just the right move for the physically fragile Barking Czech.

Anastajia Sevastova, who retired from the sport and came back, has also survived three rounds, as has Ana Konjuh. Sevastova, in fact, played the now-recurring role of "the sweeper" who brushes away Garbine Muguruza in the early days of a major. And Cincinnati champion Karolina Pliskova, who had never before gotten beyond the third round of a major, put a stop to that nonsense today with a straight sets win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

And look which fighting Italian is still in the draw! 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci is still around and still fighting. Vinci has taken out Anna-Lena Friedsam, Christina McHale and Carina Witthoeft (who impressively took out both 30th seed Misaki Doi and Yulia Putintseva).

Here is the round of 16 singles draw:

Serena Williams (1) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova
Carla Suarez Navarro (11) vs. Simona Halep (5)
Agnieszka Radwanska (4) vs. Ana Konjuh
Karolina Pliskova (10) vs. Venus Williams (6)
Madison Keys (8) vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Johanna Konta (13) vs. Anastajia Sevastova
Roberta Vinci (7) vs. Lesia Tsurenko
Petra Kvitova (14) vs. Angelique Kerber (2)

Notes on the draw:

Johanna Konta is now my write-in dark horse for every major but the French. The Brit is not only talented, but mentally steady and a terrific server. She is not to be under-estimated in any circumstance.

The absolute "must watch" match is Kvitova vs. Kerber. They are 4-4 against each other and have never played one another in a major. Given Petra's "problem," the odds favor Kerber. But if Scary Petra should show up, things could get very, very interesting. Listen for the barks.

The U.S. Open is not generally a happy event for Radwanska, but she now has a pretty good chance of advancing to the quarterfinals. As always, it's been a joy to watch her so far.

Madison Keys needs to keep the errors down. Wozniacki has endurance from hell, and doesn't care how long the rallies last. When she's playing well, she can keep a point going on and on, waiting for her opponent's error. And while her defensive play has also been her downfall, Keys is prone to making quite a few errors and could fall into Woz's "I'll wait you out" trap.

Pliskova and Venus might just hit each other off the court. The Czech player has a wonderful serve and a lot of confidence concerning that serve. If she doesn't go to whatever planet Czech players sometimes visit, she'll do whatever she can to out-serve Williams and break down her forehand.

Tsurenko, who has had a poor season, seems to have found her game again, but she'll have to stay very pumped up againt the Fighting Italian.

I think Halep will prevail over Suarez-Navarro, but these days, you never know.

And then there's Serena. She shouldn't have any trouble getting past Shvedova, though--if Shvedova should bring her big serve--she could win more games that some may expect.

In doubles, top seeds Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic have made it through to the third round. In mixed doubles. defending champions Martina Hingis and Leander Paes were defeated in the second round tonight when they both fell apart during the super-tiebreak (they had an 8-4 lead before they were destroyed by nerves). Hingis and Paes lost to CoCo Vandeweghe and Rajeev Ram.

Hingis and Vandeweghe are doubles partners, and have advanced to the third round in women's doubles.


Sunny nine said...

thanks for the interesting updates and descriptions. the radio commentators are okay but don't give the extra insight you present. i heard the halep-babos match on the radio. sounded like a gritty win for simona. babos is dangerous, but remains a floater right now and not a contender. i remember seeing kerber play babos in miami-what a battle. i also hate the kerber-kvitova match-up as i hate to see 2 players i like cancel the other out. but.....i am glad it is on ashe at night because the commentators will have to stay on the match rather than move around to others. it has been great to "see" venus doing well and obviously enjoying herself. i have always been waiting for ka pliskova to get over the "premier" hump and she took the opportunity to get the win when i wanted kerber to win. it will be interesting w pliskova and venus especially if pliskova still has this new found confidence.
thanks again. give a scratch under the neck to velma and roxie.

Diane said...

Thanks Sunny!

I, too, hate to see either Petra or Angie go out. It could be quite a match. Eager to see how Pliskova holds up against Venus, who's looking pretty good.

Velma's oncologist tossed out the protocol and tried a new med last time. V had a bad reaction to it at first, but now she's eating a lot and running around the house. I don't know what this means, but for the time being, Velma is feeling a lot better, and I'm hoping she gains some weight.

Fred66 said...

I'm starting to think Muguruza might be the new Kvitova when in comes to inconsistency and baffling losses to lower-ranked players. Is this premature or right on the money?

Diane said...

Here you go, Fred: