This week, I was gratified and thrilled to see Maria Sharapova back on her game. Well, games--both of them--her tennis game and her geography game. The perennially dissatisfied Caroline Wozniacki, unhappy with losing her second round U.S. Open match, took a swipe at Sharapova on her way out, and it was all worth it for this:
Sharapova about Wozniacki's comments: All that matters to me that I'm in the fourth round and I'm not sure where she is (📽 US Open/ESPN) pic.twitter.com/NcaBbhnXLc— Ilya Ryvlin (@ryvlin) September 2, 2017
Sharapova's remarks are, of course, reminiscent of a similar press moment that she had regarding Aga Radwanska at the 2012 Australian Open. When told that the Polish star--who had just lost her quarterfinal match to Victoria Azarenka--described the Russian's on-court vocalizations as "pretty annoying and just too loud," Sharapova immediately responded "Isn't she back in Poland already?"
Welcome back, Pova.
Sharapova, whose return to the tour has been riddled with injuries, is wearing an arm sleeve on her right arm to keep it warm, and there's a bandage on her left arm. It appears, however, that she is in no pain, which is a wonderful thing. The 2006 champion is into the round of 16, having defeated 2nd seed Simona Halep (in an outstanding match), Timea Babos and Sofia Kenin. Next, she will face Anastaija Sevastova, whose return to the tour has been dramatically successful, but relatively ignored by the media.
Ekaterina Makarova, who has had a great summer, couldn't survive Carla Suarez-Navarro, and the formidable Aleks Krunic fell to the even more (lately) formidable Julia Goerges. Aga Radwanska, of all people, took CoCo Vandeweghe to the edge in three very well-played sets, but the 20th seed prevailed. And top seed Karolina Pliskova had to fight off a very in-form Zhang Shuai, who held a match point against the Long Tall One. Pliskova is looking rather "Czech" at this point, and seems quite vulnerable.
Daria Kasatkina reached her first major round of 16 with a win over French Open champion Alona Ostapenko, who has been dealing with an illness which began as a sore throat several days ago. Kasatkina also beat Ostapenko in this year's Charleston final. The Russian's next challenge comes in the form of a blast from the past, Kaia Kanepi, who defeated rising star Naomi Osaka in the third round.
On the other hand, Petra Kvitova looks like she's at Wimbledon. But Scary Petra, as much as she has suddenly adapted to Flushing Meadows, next faces an immense threat in the form of Garbine Muguruza. If Kvitova continues to play at the level she's shown in the first week, this could be one hell of a match. But if her level drops, she could get swept off the court by the force that is Mugu.
Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Halep (even though she's out of the tournament) are still in the running for the world number 1 ranking. Pliskova's next opponent is the USA's Jennifer Brady, who appears to have a fondness for big stage tennis. Next up for Svitolina is the winner of tonight's very late match to be played between Elena Vesnina and Madison Keys. If Keys wins, there will be five players from the USA in the round of 16, for she will join Jennifer Brady, CoCo Vandeweghe, Venus Williams, and Sloane Stephens.