Saturday, August 12, 2017

U.S. hard court swing as full of mystery as the rest of the season

Madison Keys sealed her comeback at Stanford by winning the event. Ekaterina Makarova took the smaller Washington, DC title, and--as I write this--the Rogers Cup will go to either Caroline Wozniacki or Elina Svitolina. Then it's on to Cincinnati and New Haven, followed by the last major of the year, the U.S. Open.

We know nothing at this time about whether that last major will include Maria Sharapova, though I earnestly hope it does. We do know that there's a good chance it won't include Vika Azarenka, who is preoccupied with a very difficult family situation. And of course, Serena Williams won't be in Flushing Meadows.

World number 1 Karolina Pliskova, who just lost to Wozniacki in the Toronto quarterfinals, is the defending champion in Cincinnati. Though she's known for having an excessive amount of cool, I have to wonder how the pressure of being number 1 in the world is affecting her. Pliskova hasn't won a major, but was the runner-up in last year's U.S. Open, which may create even more pressure.

In the meantime, popping up as serious contenders in the U.S. hard court season are Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki. Stephens lost to Wozniacki in the Rogers Cup semifinals, but she has played exceptionally well this week, seemingly out of nowhere (which is Sloane's way). Simona Halep, defending Rogers Cup champion, was holding her own until Elina Svitolina ate her alive in the semifinals (which must have felt pretty good after what she went through at Roland Garros). Svitolina knocked out two top 5 players in one day, which may be some kind of record. Keep an eye on the Ukrainian--she's on a roll. Also, like Pliskova, she appears to get over disappointments quickly and move on, which is a very nice quality in an athlete.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza hasn't returned to muguing around the court, which is a very good thing. She made it to the semifinals in Stanford, where she was defeated by eventual champion Keys. In Toronto, the Spaniard lost to Svitolina in the quarterfinals. Given her obvious preference for the big stage, she could do quite well in Flushing Meadows.

I'll be in Cincinnati next week and will keep everyone up to date.


colt13 said...

Enjoy Cinci, it should be great.

Diane said...

Thanks colt. I hope it's cloudy. Last year, it was brutal, the heat and humidity were so bad. I missed a lot of tennis I wanted to see.