Saturday, August 31, 2019

Round of 16 set at U.S. Open

Third round play in singles was completed today at the U.S. Open, leaving us with several interesting and/or emotional stories, and a few stories that weren't so pretty.

Anett Kontaveit, suffering with an acute viral illness, gave a walkover to Belinda Bencic, Julia Goerges defeated close friend, Kiki Bertens, in straight sets (it was the first time they had ever competed against each other on a hard court), and Alona Ostapenko made 45 unforced errors in her straight-set defeat by Kristie Ahn.

Ostapenko hit eight aces and twelve double faults. Her insistence on hitting big, flat and into the corners almost every single time has become the undoing of her. As I've said before, Ostapenko sometimes reminds me of a young Petra Kvitova, only Kvitova's serve was better, and she was able to learn how to construct points so that she didn't have to rely on constant wild swinging of her racket. Ostapenko appears to be near implosion, and that is a real shame. She is too talented to let this happen to her.

Donna Vekic defeated Yulia Putintseva in straight sets, Elise Mertens defeated Andrea Petkovic, and Taylor Townsend continued her run with a defeat of Sorana Cirstea.

And then there was Bianca Andreescu, who defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4 in a match that was fun to watch. The Canadian star had a dip in the second set, and it looked like we were going to be treated to a third set, but Andreescu would have none of it. The variety of her shot-making--some of which she appears to make up on the fly--is stunning. Even when she's in an awkward court position, she figures out a way to get the ball back, often as a winner (remember the overhead drop shot at the Rogers Cup).

The night match featured defending champion and top seed Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. I canceled my roller derby plans (last home bout of the season) to stay home and watch this match, and--while I didn't expect it to be a thriller--I was hoping for a little more than I got. Osaka won, 6-3, 6-0, and what followed had fans and the media expressing some strong, even tearful, emotions. Osaka asked Gauff to stay on the court and participate in the post-match interview.

The problem is that Gauff didn't want to stay on court. She wanted to go to the locker room and cry, and I think she should have been permitted to do so. I understand Osaka's gesture, though, which was coming from a place of generosity. But what really troubles me was ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez telling Gauff to "wipe those tears away," which is a terrible thing to tell a person who is crying. The whole thing made me really uncomfortable, but I am obviously in the minority.

Here is the round of 16 draw:

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Belinda Bencic (13)
Donna Vekic (23) vs. Julia Goerges (26)
Taylor Townsend (Q) vs. Bianca Andreescu (15)
Kristie Ahn (W) vs. Elise Mertens (25)
Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Madison Keys (10)
Jo Konta (16) vs. Karolina Pliskova (3)
Serena Williams (8) vs. Petra Martic (22)
Wang Qiang (18) vs. Ash Barty (2)

In doubles, top seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic advanced to the third round, as did Vika Azarenka and Ash Barty.

No comments: