Sunday, September 22, 2019

The G.O.A.T. in the living room


There are a lot of tennis discussions that turn me off, but perhaps none tires me as much as the one entitled "Who is the greatest player of all time?"

There are a couple of reasons I thoroughly dislike this discussion:

1. There is no way to measure such a thing.

Who decides what factors come together to determine who is the "greatest"? Does it involve winning majors (more on that in a moment)? Or does it involve the totality of a player's career--winning majors in different categories, remaining in the top 10 over a period of time, winning Fed Cup titles, etc.? There is no objective method of measuring such greatness.

Many people, however, believe that the number of singles majors won is an objective measurement. It is not. First, it doesn't take into account other achievements, such as those mentioned above. And perhaps even more significant, it isn't valid. Back when such outstanding players as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were playing, winning majors was not the be-all and end-all as it is now.

Consider, for example, that many top players skipped the Australian Open because it was held during the Christmas holidays. Consider that Chris Evert skipped three French Opens (and she would surely have won at least one of them, and probably all three) to play World Team Tennis. (Consider that Rod Laver was not even permitted to play in several majors.)

Players of different eras simply cannot be compared, yet people insist on comparing them. I recall someone on Twitter once saying "Could have, would have' doesn't count." She missed the point entirely. The values were different, the rules were different, the schedules were different. More recently, someone on Twitter told me that "there has to be a gold standard for a sport." No there does not, and that brings me to:

2. Why does it matter? 

The obsession with choosing the "best" anything is something I don't understand. Not only is it objectively impossible, it reflects an obsessive desire to idealize something or someone to the detriment of appreciating so many similar things or people. I have no desire to determine whether a particular player is (or was) the greatest player of all time; it means nothing to me. I also have no desire to determine whether a player was the greatest of her era, even if there were objective criteria.

I much prefer to appreciate players for their outstanding contributions--as champions, as shot-makers, as surface specialists, as Fed Cup stars, as leaders. Too many discussions revolve around the G.O.A.T., a mythical creature whose existence serves to create pressure on players, to rely on the use of unreliable statistics, and to bring out the worst kind of fan over-identification.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

My U.S. Open top 10





Here, in ascending order, are my top 10 U.S. Open happenings:

10. Higher and higher depths: Having ESPN Plus is a great thing--first, because one can choose among all of the matches being played, but also because the commentary, though certainly not perfect (too many mispronunciations), is way better than the mess that is on ESPN. But as the tournament winds down, the ESPN commentary team is all that's left for the big matches (besides wheelchair and juniors), so we're stuck with it.

We were subject to the exceedingly annoying fake dramatics of Tom Rinaldi. Then there was the rush to turn interviews with Elina Svitolina into discussions of Gael Monfils (Chris McEndry, to her credit, tried to put a stop to this). Of course, there was the usual list of mispronunciations (and hey--U.S. Open, maybe your match announcer could learn how to pronounce the players' names?), and who knows how many minutes' worth of useless comments.

During the final, Chris Fowler kept repeating that Andreescu's victory was "unbelievable." This stuck me as odd since I had picked her as the most likely player to win the tournament. Do these people even watch tennis? Best of all, though, was Chris Evert's assertion that a player had reached "higher and higher depths"--and that is exactly how I would describe ESPN.

9. Still hot: Coco Gauff made it to the third round, defeating Anastasia Potapova and Timea Babos. She was done in by Naomi Osaka, who allowed her only three games, but Coco, at 15, is still quite impressive.

8. Tennis in the age of You-Know-What: I used to think of the U.S. Open crowd as an example that should be followed by, say, the French crowd, which can be really rude--or the British and Australian crowds, which can be really sexist. But the crowd at this year's Open was a disgrace. People sauntered in and forced the players to wait before serving. They yelled both during points and just as a player was serving. They applauded faults. They were horrible.

7. You'll remember me this time: Taylor Townsend has game, and serious tennis fans know it. The 23-year-old U.S. player was a standout in juniors, but--as is so often the case--her junior accomplishments did not translate to the tour (the USTA did her no favors, either). But Townsend had a memorable U.S. Open experience, taking out Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in the second round, then giving eventual champion Bianca Andreescu a head-turning fight when she continued her habit of rushing the net--over and over. She took a set off of Andreescu, too, but was unable to stop her in her pursuit of the title.

6. Patience is a virtue:  27-year-old Kristie Ahn, ranked 141 in the world, got a wild card into the U.S. Open main draw this year. Eleven years ago, she got in through qualifying, but lost in the first round. That was the last time she was able to get through qualifying. Ahn, realizing the importance of the occasion, gave that wild card a workout. In the first round, she took out 2004 U.S. Open champion and 2019 Cincinnati runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova. In round 2, she defeated the talented Anna Kalinskaya, and in the third round, Ahn defeated 2017 French Open champion Alona Ostapenko. She kost to eventual semifinalist Elise Mertens in the next round, but the drama of the Stanford graduate's U.S. Open run was one of the best stories of the event.

5. Diede de Great just got greater: Top wheelchair singles seed Diede de Groot got quite a fight from 2nd seed Yui Kamiji in the final, but she prevailed, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, and in doing so, defended her 2018 title. de Groot has now won seven singles majors (last year, she just missed attaining a Grand Slam), and has completed a Career Slam in both singles and doubles.

de Groot and her partner, Aniek Van Koot, the top doubles seeds, also won the doubles title, defeating Sabine Ellerbrock and Kgothatso Montjane in straight sets in the final. This is de Groot's third consecutive U.S. Open doubles victory.

4. Miss USA with knee socks: We like to talk about the inspiring qualities of tennis players who overcome great obstacles, yet often missing from that conversation is perhaps the queen of overcoming obstacles--Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Mattek-Sands has fallen down (sometimes literally) and gotten up so many times, yet she always returns to the court to play her old-school brand of tennis. At the U.S. Open--where she wore a pop Americana kit, one of my favorite BMS outfits of all time--she and partner Jamie Murray defended their mixed doubles title. And they did it by upsetting top seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Michael Venus in straight sets.

3. So close: Serena Williams, after returning from giving birth to her daughter, made a run to the 2018 Wimbledon final and was defeated by Angie Kerber (she said that one didn't count because of the state of her body). She then lost the 2018 U.S. Open final to Naomi Osaka, and the 2019 Wimbledon final to Simona Halep. This time around, she lost the U.S. Open final to Bianca Andreescu.

Clearly, there is pressure on Williams that has never existed before, and that pressure has to do with her advancing age and her quest to achieve a statistic that has many fans in a frenzy. There's no doubt that Williams is playing extremely well (though it's also unfair to assume that she would win every final if she were in a calmer state of mind). The Serena Watch will be intense in 2020, as the great champion seeks to win more majors.

2. Fire and ice: Elise Mertens had success with her former doubles partner and long-time friend, Demi Schuurs, but the they split because the Belgian star wanted to concentrate on her singles career and didn't want to commit to playing doubles at every event (Schuurs plays doubles only). So Mertens teamed with Aryna Sabalenka and this year, they won the Sunshine Double. Now, they've won the U.S. Open, defeating Ash Barty and Vika Azarenka in the final. The calm, low-key personality of Mertens combines well with the intense, sometimes goofy, persona of Sabalenka.




1. She the North/She the Boss: I don't know why anyone is surprised (certainly some commentators were) that Bianca Andreescu won the U.S. Open. Her victory certainly didn't seem inevitable to me, but it did seem very highly likely. The 19-year-old Canadian deserves the title "phenom" more than anyone I can recall in a long time. It's hard to describe Andreescu because she is so many things--a good server, hard-hitting, dramatic, inventive, instinctive, and mentally tough (while not always seeming to be so).

As I noted earlier in the week, I was concerned that Andreescu's perhaps unconscious need to have problems to solve would get her into trouble. But as the tournament progressed, she became more proficient at solving those problems. Also, after watching her for a while, it becomes clear that what may appear to be Andreescu's "frustration" face is more like her 'I have to figure this out" face.

A year ago, most people had never heard of the Canadian star; she wasn't even in the top 200. At the beginning of this season, she held a ranking of 153. Then she won Indian Wells. And then, in Miami, she sustained a shoulder injury which kept her off of the tour for a few months. Andreescu's junior career was plagued with injuries, and one hopes that she'll figure out a way to keep them at a minimum.

When she did return to the tour, it wasn't long before Andreescu won the Rogers Cup, defeating Serena Williams in the final when Williams had to retire. So there was a certain poetic satisfaction in having the two of them meet in the U.S. Open final. Now, Andreescu is the first Canadian in history to win a singles major

By now, most fans have heard that, when she was a kid, Andreescu wrote herself a U.S. Open prize money check (she didn't cash it, of course; rather, she added to the amount every year, to match the annual increase). This is akin to a young Roger Federer's having practiced falling to his knees in anticipation of one day winning Wimbledon. It is a mindset which few have. Andreescu credits her mother, Maria, with helping her to develop it. Such a skill is supposedly available to all of us, but few are able to live it. So far, Bibi Andreescu has shown quite a mastery of it.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

"TRICKS ARE FOR...KIDS": Bianca Andreescu turns her U.S. Open debut into a championship victory

 

"You look ready"
 
19-year-old Bianca (Bibi) Andreescu, making her debut at the U.S. Open, today defeated Serena Williams in a major final, as she took out the six-time champion 6-3, 7-5. Playing in only her fourth major main draw, the young Canadian woman--for a set and a half--looked as though she were going to break her come-from-behind, do-it-the-hard-way habits. But, as it turned out, they were exactly what she had to produce to overcome Williams.

"You and I have unfinished business"

Andreescu and Williams were involved in a big final earlier this summer in Toronto at the Rogers Cup, but it was not really played because Williams had to retire in the middle of the first set. We didn't get to see what could transpire between them during a match until today.

 "Do you believe you are my match?"

Andreescu, who easily vacillates between looking really chill and looking like a bundle of nerves, came out in chill form and immediately broke Williams. The seventh game of the first set was intense, lasting ten minutes, with a double break on the line. Williams saved five break points to keep the score close, but Andreescu wound up winning the set 6-3.

"You have every right to want to get even"

The second set was when it got crazy. Andreescu came out for it exactly as she did in the first set, totally dominating her opponent. Williams's serve, usually the best in the business, was off, and even when it was "on," she was getting explosive returns, the likes of which she doesn't see that much. Andreescu went up 5-1.

"You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?"

The Canadian star served for the match and held a match point, and that's when Williams blew the whole thing up, winning four straight games, and looking for all the world like the Serena who has won 23 majors by doing whatever she had to do. Suddenly, it was 5-all, and it looked like a third set was probably in Andreescu's future (as it so often is). Meanwhile, while Williams was undergoing a total change in accuracy, confidence and body language, her opponent began to wilt. We saw the "bundle of nerves" version of Andreescu.

But, much as she had done against Belinda Bencic, the Canadian upstart prevented the agony of a third set by winning the next two games and defeating Williams 6-3, 7-5. In doing so, she became the first Canadian to win a major.

"...you're a killer, a natural born killer"

Everything about Bibi Andreescu's tennis is jaw-dropping. She began the year as number 152 in the world, and next week, she'll be number 5. Pretty much out of nowhere, she won Indian Wells in March, then had to retire in Miami and was out for several months because of a shoulder injury. She missed both the French Open and Wimbledon. Then she popped back up and won the Rogers Cup, looking as though she had never gone away.

Any time a player, young or "old," reaches a major final for the first time, we expect her to have to confront nerves. And nerves often do a first-time major finalist in. When Andreescu got tight in the second set, I thought, "Well, we'll go to a third, and she'll overcome it, just like she always does." But she overcame it sooner, just as she did in her semifinal match. In other words, during the U.S. Open, the Canadian star seems to have become even scarier in terms of her mentality.

Holding this kind of nerve and mindset--even when you feel shaky--is a special gift. Chris Evert had it. Justine Henin had it. Serena Williams has it. And Bibi Andreescu certainly has it. I think that her main concern will be to stay healthy; she has quite a tendency to get injured. She's now traveling with a physio, however, which is a good decision on her part. 


 

In the meantime, the great Serena Williams doesn't look to be going anywhere, and we should continue to see her in big matches. Powerful new blood is pulsing through the tour, though, with Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Bianca Andreescu, and a few others who are fighting to get their turn.

With her very good serve, powerful groundstrokes, mental toughness, amazing improvisational skills, and vast shot variety, Bibi Andreescu stands out as a force with which to be reckoned. Yes, #ShetheNorth, but I think she's so much more.


 

Friday, September 6, 2019

A look at the draw on day 12 of the U.S. Open

Though it's hard to keep one's mind off of the singles drama, there are other matches being played at the U.S. Open. Here's a breakdown of where everything is, as of today:

Doubles

4th seeds Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka just defeated Caroline Dolehide (a day after her 21st birthday) and Vania King 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a highly entertaining match. It was great to see King on the court again, and to see her go all the way to the semifinals. In the final, Mertens and Sabalenka will face 8th seeds Vika Azarenka and Ash Barty. Mertens also made it to the quarterfinals in singles. Barty is the defending champion; she and CoCo Vandeweghe won the event last year.

Mixed Doubles

Top seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Michael Venus will play Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray in the final. To reach the final, Chan had to defeat her sister, Chan Yung-Jan, and her partner, Ivan Dodig.

Wheelchair Singles

Play begins later today. Diede De Groot is the top seed, and her quarterfinal opponent will be Sabine Ellerbrock. De Groot is the defending champion.

Wheelchair Doubles

Top seeds Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot have reached the final, in which they will play Sabine Ellerbrock and Kgothatso Monjane. Van Koot is the defending champion, and she also won the event in 2017. Van Koot won the event in 2013 and 2015.

Junior Singles

Third round play has concluded. The highest seed remaining is Zheng Qinwen, who is seeded 5th.

Junior Doubles

Quarterfinal play has concluded.

I have already covered women's singles here. 15th seed Bianca Andreescu, playing in her first U.S. Open, will face off against six-time champion Serena Williams in the final.

The Upstart vs. The Queen--and would you want it any other way?




Back in 1999, an amazing upstart named Serena Williams won the first of her six U.S. Open titles. She was 17 years old. Bianca Andreescu, on the other hand, was yet to be born (that would happen around nine months later). And if Williams was an upstart, Andreescu--who will face Serena in the 2019 U.S. Open women's singles final on Saturday--is something beyond an upstart.


 

It doesn't surprise me at all that these are the last two women standing in Flushing Meadows; in fact, I expected it. After all, Serena is Serena, and Bianca, or "Bibi," is a peculiar force of nature who--so far--defies classification. This is her U.S. Open debut, and I suppose she wanted to make it last as long as possible because here she is, in the final. That alone, is a head-turning fact. But there's more: Since undertaking her pro career, Andreescu is 7-0 against top 10 players. Consider also that, when the season began, the 19-year-old Canadian was ranked 152 in the world. Next week, she'll be in the top 10.

But back to Serena. Last night, she dismantled the game of Elina Svitolina with a kind of surgical skill. She had plenty of help from the Ukrainian star, who--after getting a quick taste of her opponent's resolve in the opening two games--faded (literally) into the background. Svitolina, who is as fast of foot as anyone on the tour, and clever, to boot, was simply not able to combine her skills to put together a fight plan against Williams. It didn't help her cause that Serena was serving in top form.

It wasn't that she didn't have opportunities, but Svitolina failed to convert any of the six break points given to her throughout the match. Williams got the job done in a little over an hour, and walked away with a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

Much more dramatic was the second semifinal, which featured former phenom Belinda Bencic and current phenom (to say the least) Andreescu. Both were playing in their first major semifinal, and their straight sets match had just about everything for which fans could hope. (Unfortunately, it had too much, as  the U.S. Open crowd continued to provide an alarming display of rudeness.)

This was one of those matches about which one needs to say "You had to be there" (literally, or watching on television). Because what transpired was a kind of trickery that even the great Aga Radwanska would find impressive. It didn't involve trick shots (thought there were a few of those), but rather, it involved what we might call a "trick mindset" on the part of the Canadian star. Belinda Bencic clearly led the first set. She was aggressive, she was consistent, and--most important--she was ahead. But if you're Bibi Andreescu, you consider that a minor detail that can be brushed away at the right time.

Andreescu saved all of the six break points that she faced in the first set, and, for good measure, she saved a set point. That put the set--which was on the Swiss player's racket--to a tiebreak, and before you could say Abracadabra, Alakazam, I'm Bibi the Beast, I am! Andreescu was up 5-0. She won the tiebreak 7-3.

Bencic, though, would have none of it. Rather than retreat into the corner, she came out fighting in the second set, and with her shot variety and her keen anticipatory ability, was able to flummox her opponent and take a 5-2 lead.

I suppose, at this point, we might say "Andreescu had her opponent right where she wanted her," for--as I wrote a couple of days ago--the Canadian woman thrives on problem-solving, and even participates in creating some of her problems. In her press conference, Andreescu said that when she was one game short of losing the second set, she knew she didn't want the match to extend to three sets. And so, just like that, she won five straight games, taking the set (and the match) at 7-5. Because that's the Andreescu way.

And as entertaining as that method may be for fans, it could be Andreescu's undoing against Serena Williams in a major final. When you're playing Serena, there's little time for performing side shows. Serena's serve is too good, and her returns are too good.

Andreescu says that she utilizes meditation and visualization to enhance her game. Today would be a good day for her to do a quick scan of her unconscious mind and perhaps focus on ways to win that don't involve making a dramatic comeback from a down position. She has skills galore, but against Williams, she'll need the ones that put her in the lead and keep her there.

Here are the players' paths to the final:

BIANCA ANDREESCU (15)
round 1--def. Katie Volynets
round 2--def. Kirsten Flipkens
round 3--def. Caroline Wozniacki (15)
round of 16--def. Taylor Townsend (Q)
quarterfinals--def. Elise Mertens (25)
semifinals--def. Belinda Bencic (13)

SERENA WILLIAMS (8)
round 1--def. Maria Sharapova
round 2--def. Caty McNally (W)
round 3--def. Karolina Muchova
round of 16--def. Petra Martic (22)
quarterfinals--def. Wang Qiang (18)
semifinals--def. Elina Svitolina (5)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Andreescu and Bencic advance to U.S. Open semifinals



A very long time ago, when I was in the public relations profession, I had a very gifted boss who would often round us up at the last minute to work on projects, and there was usually a lot of pressure. I kind of thrived on the pressure for a while, but I didn't care for the direction my career was taking, so I left and started my own shop. Not long after I made this move, one of our clients called me and asked me to take over the account.

I protested that I didn't think I could because it was so chaotic and there was so much pressure involved. No, the client told me, it's really pretty easy--she made it that way. I accepted the invitation, and yes, it turned out to be pretty easy. That was when I realized that my former boss thrived on chaos, and wasn't happy unless she and everyone around her were working under intense pressure.

Watching Bianca Andreescu has made me think of this lesson from long ago. Andreescu is many things, and one of them is that she is a very impressive problem-solver. But I'm getting suspicious that she may need a problem in order to come alive and play her best tennis. She may even need to participate in creating a problem.

We know that she's injury-prone, which isn't a good sign. She also has quite an on-court temper, but that could (and probably will) subside as she gets older. For someone with as much talent and intuition as Andreescu possesses, she certainly brings with her a lot of complications.

Tonight, in her quarterfinal, she appeared flat in the first set, as her opponent, Elise Mertens masterfully took it, 6-3. It seemed almost inevitable, though, that the "problem" of losing the first set would ignite the young Canadian--and it did. She went on to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Earning a spot in the semifinals is pretty good for someone playing in her first U.S. Open.

I was thinking and talking about Dinara Safina today, so she is on my mind. On Women Who Serve, the Russian star was known by the nickname, "Thrill Ride" because she couldn't seem to win a match unless she had taken herself (and the rest of us) to the edge. Andreescu is hardly the bundle of nerves that Safina was, but she does have a touch of Thrill Ride in her, which I don't think it will serve her very well in the long run.



Earlier in the day, two close friends who are also former phenoms faced each other for a spot in the U.S. Open semifinals. Belinda  Bencic and Donna Vekic--who both had to take the long way around in order to begin to meet their often-touted potentials--did not disappoint. It was a well-played match, with both women serving well. Bencic won, 7-6, 6-3, but Vekic performed well.

Bencic is another one with a temper problem. I haven't seen much of her during the U.S. Open, but when I have seen her, I haven't noticed any episodes of anger. It isn't that episodes of anger are bad--but common sense informs us that they can be harmful if chronic because of the energy they drain from a player.

Here is the singles semifinal draw:

Belina Bencic (13) vs. Bianca Andreescu (15)
Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Serena Williams (8)

In doubles, Kuzmova and Sasnovich upset 3rd seeds Dabrowski and Xu. Also upset were 14th seeds Kichenok and Ostapenko, who were defeated by Dolehide and King.

Still alive in doubles is Elise Mertens, who--with partner Aryna Sabalenka--has advanced to the semifinals. Mertens and Sabalenka are seeded 4th.

In mixed doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray have advanced to the final (def. Stosur/Ram), in which they will play either top seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Michael Venus or 4th seeds Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The mighty Serena logs 100 U.S. Open match wins



It took Serena Williams just 44 minutes to defeat Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-0 in tomight's U.S. Open quarterfinal match. Wang is a very good player, but there was nothing she could do about Williams. The 8th seed hit 25 winners (Wang hit zero winners), and had a first serve win percentage of 90. Case closed.

Williams' next opponent will be 5th seed Elina Svitolina, who defeated Jo Konta 6-4, 6-4 earlier today. Williams is 4-1 against Svitolina, and 2-1 against her on hard courts. Until this year, Svitolina had never gotten beyond the quarterfinals of a major, despite her very winning ways on the tour. But she made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon (she was defeated by eventual champion Simona Halep), and now she has made it to the semifinals in New York.

Svitolina will have her work cut out for her with Williams, who is playing at peak form, and who thrives at majors. However, the Ukrainian player is highly unlikely to be intimidated by either the opponent or the occasion, and she could give Williams a fight.

Today, when Pam Shriver interviewed Svitolina, she twice referred to "the Ukraine." This is an ongoing problem with both Tennis Channel and ESPN commentators and interviewers. A couple of years ago some of us corrected Leif Shiras, who then Tweeted a lame, self-serving "apology," then went on to repeatedly refer to the country as "the Ukraine."

They are not alone. Both guest Rep. Maxine Waters and host Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC have recently insulted the country in this way. The Soviet Union fell a long time ago, but I should lower my expectations (after all, people are still calling flight attendants "stewardesses").

Words matter!


Tomorrow's seminfals will feature Belina Bencic (13) vs. Donna Vekic (23) and Bianca Anreescu (15) vs. Elise Mertens (25).

 In doubles, top seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic were upset by 8th seeds Vika Azarenka and Ash Barty.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

2nd and 3rd seeds out of U.S. Open

 

Ash Barty, seeded number 2 at the U.S. Open, was knocked out of the event today by Wang Qiang, whose game has steadily gotten better and better this year, allowing the 18h seeded Chinese player's game to reach a crescendo in Flushing Meadows. Barty was a mass of errors, while Wang was efficient and mentally tough, defeating Barty 6-2, 6-4.

Karolina Pliskova, the 3rd seed, hasn't looked quite right throughout this tournament (and even in Cincinnati). She got off to a slow start against 16th seed Jo Konta, who had a healthy lead throughout most of the first set. Somehow, Pliskova caught up, the set went to a tiebreak, and then--almost out of nowhere--the Czech star stormed through, allowing her opponent only one point. It was as if she did it with mirrors.

That must have been discouraging for the Brit, but Konta won the second set 6-3, and went on to win the third 7-5.

8th seed Serena Williams, serving up a storm, defeated Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4. It's a nice trend, however, to see Martic making these second week appearances in majors.

Finally, speedy Elina Svitolina turned into big-serving speedy Elina Svitolina tonight, and defeated Madison Keys 7-5, 6-4. It was a masterful performance from the 5th seed, who has long needed a good serve to go with the rest of her game. Tonight, a first serve win percentage of 92 spoke volumes. Of course, we have seen WTA players suddenly serve really well and then not replicate that skill in the next match. Here's hoping that Svitolina has actually developed a reliable good serve.

In doubles, the 7th-seeded Chan sisters were upset by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anastasija Sevastova. The big news in doubles, however, was that Coco Gauff and Caty McNally upset 9th seeds Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke.