Friday, September 30, 2011

Kvitova self-destructs in Tokyo semifinals

The question "What's wrong with Petra Kvitova?" popped up again today as the Czech star went to pieces in the Tokyo semifinal after going up 4-0, then 5-1, in her first set against Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva, reacting to the pressure put on her by Kvitova, couldn't do much of anything for most of that set. But then she broke Kvitova, and after that, the 5th seed's backhand, second serve and confidence began to decrease.

Slowly at first, Kvitova's game unraveled. Zvonareva, having come back from almost certain loss, practically cruised through the first set tiebreak. Then it was effectively over for Kvitova, whose game became a mass of unforced errors. She got a little of her hitting savvy back toward the end, but it was too late. Zvonareva's 7-6, 6-0 win puts her into the Tokyo final.

Her opponent will be Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

In doubles, top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond defeated Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko when Azarenka and Kirilenko retired early in the first set. Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta defeated Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Friday cat blogging--garden view edition

Passing shots

Melanie Oudin has split from coach Brian DeVilliers and is currently being coached, on a trial basis, by the USTA's Tom Gullickson.

Li Na has parted ways with coach Michael Mortensen.

Kim Clijsters has stopped working with coach Wim Fisette and will be coached again by Carl Maes. Fisette says that Clijters offered him a position at her new tennis academy, but he turned it down because wants to coach a top player before taking a role at an academy.

World number 4 Vera Zvonareva will be featured in the third edition of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. The magazine will be on the stands October 7.

Get to know Anastasiya Yakimova.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sharapova retires in Tokyo quarterfinals

Midway in her first set against Petra Kvitova, Tokyo 2nd seed Maria Sharapova had to retire when she fell and hurt her left ankle in today's quarterfinals. Sharapova is awaiting the results of an MRI and an examination.

Vera Zvonareva ended countrywoman Maria Kirilenko's impressive run by beating her 6-3, 6-3. Agnieszaka Radwanska defeated Kaia Kanepi, and Victoria Azarenka defeated Marion Bartoli.

In doubles, top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond advanced to the semifinals, as did the teams of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, and Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kirilenko keeps going in Tokyo

Maria Kirilenko, who defeated 6th seed Sam Stosur in second round play in Tokyo, defeated 12th seed Ana Ivanovic today in straight sets. 9th seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated 8th seed Jelena Jankovic, 7th seed Marion Bartoli defeated 10th seed Peng Shuai, and 5th seed Petra Kvitova defeated Vania King, who had upset Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova earlier in the tournament.

The biggest upset in the third round, however, came at the hands of Kaia Kanepi, who beat top seed and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

The defending doubles champions also made an exit. 2nd seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta defeated Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Original 9 to attend 2012 Family Circle Cup

On the final weekend of the 2012 Family Circle Cup, April 6-8, the Original 9 will be in attendance as the tournament is played in its 40th year. The group called the Original 9, led by Billie Jean King, signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, and the Virginia Slims tennis circuit was formed. The women risked their careers in order to obtain access to reasonable prize money and recognition, and they were ostracized by many men on the tour.

The Virginia Slims tour led to the creation of the WTA. Heldman, who founded World Tennis magazine, died in 2003.

The Original 9 include King, Rosemary Casals, Peaches Bartkowicz, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, and Kristy Pigeon.

"In celebrating our 40th anniversary, the Family Circle Cup is thrilled to host the reunion of the Original 9," said Bob Moran, Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup. "This event has been around for almost as long as women’s professional tennis. It’s more than just a tennis tournament. It’s a celebration of women’s tennis, and we are proud to honor these nine incredible champions at the Family Circle Cup."

The tournament, which is played on green clay, will be held March 31 through April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island, just outside Charleston. World number 1 Caroline Wozniacki is the defending champion in singles, and Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina are the defending doubles champions.

Stosur upset by Kirilenko in Tokyo

Maria Kirilenko and Sam Stosur, after just playing the longest women's tiebreak in major tournament history, met again in Tokyo today, and this time, Kirilenko was the winner. The Russian defeated the 6th seed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round of play. Also going out today was 11th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who lost to Vania King.

Iveta Benesova defeated Dominika Cibulkova, and earlier in the tournament--in the opening round--Kaia Kanepi defeated 15th seed Flavia Pennetta. U.S. Open semifinalist Angelique Kerber got to the second round as a qualifier, but was defeated by 9th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

Chakvetadze seeks seat in Russian parliament

Anna Chakvetadze, whose tennis career has been interrupted lately because of both injury and problems with dizziness, is running for a seat in Russia's parliament. Chakvetadze represents Russia's Right Cause Party, which supports free market reforms, privatization and protection of middle class interests. There is no word yet as to whether the former world number 5 intends to keep playing professional tennis.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Martinez Sanchez wins first hard court title

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez won the Korea Open today. She defeated Galina Voskoboeva 7-6, 7-6 in the final in Seoul. Martinez Sanchez, seeded 6th at the event, holds four other WTA titles, all of which she won at clay court tournaments. This was Voskoboeva's first WTA final.

Voskoboeva was the runner-up in the doubles competition, also. Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova--the top seeds--defeated her and partner Vera Dushevina 7-5, 6-4. Dushevina and Voskoboeva were seeded 2nd.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scheepers wins her first title

Photo courtesy of Daniel Ward
Chanelle Scheepers won her first WTA title today when she defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-2  in the final of the Guangzhou International Women's Open. Scheepers was seeded 7th and Rybarikova was seeded 8th.

Scheepers, who upset number 1 seed Maria Kirilenko in the semifinals, is the first South African woman to win a WTA singles title since Amanda Coetzer won the event in Acapulco in 2003.

The doubles title went to Hsieh Su-Wei and Zheng Saisai. They defeated Chan Chin-Wei and Han Xinyun 6-2, 6-1.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stosur enters 2012 Family Circle Cup

2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur has entered the 2012 Family Circle Cup, which will be held in Charleston March 31-April 8. Stosur, who won the tournament in 2010, is the first player to enter the 2012 event, which will mark the tournament's 40th anniversary. This will be Stosur's sixth appearance in Charleston; she and Lisa Raymond won the doubles championship in 2006.

The Australian star played in the shortest final in Charleston history in 2010. It took her only 52 minutes to defeat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-0.

The Family Circle Cup is known as a tournament that launches big champions. In its 40-year history, 14 of 20 Charleston champions have won at least one major tournament.

Passing shots

2nd seed Marion Bartoli was upset by Vania King in the second round in Seoul today. King defeated Bartoli 6-3, 7-5. This is her first top 10 victory.

Dominika Cibulkova is blogging from Seoul.

 Top seed Maria Kirilenko has advanced to the quarterfinals in Guangzhou.

Serena Williams and Andy Roddick will play mixed doubles together at the 2012 Australian Open.

Here are the WTA Backspin awards for the third quarter.

Martina Hingis, whose new Tonic line of tennis clothes is arriving in March of next year, talks about emotions, the mental aspect of tennis, and her regard for Petra Kvitova.

Sam Stosur gets the key to the city:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pervak and Zahlavova Strycova win their first titles

Top seed Ksenia Pervak won her first WTA title this weekend when she defeated Eva Birnerova 6-3, 6-1 in the Tashkend final. The doubles title went to 2nd seeds Eleni Daniilidou and Vitalia Diatchenko, who defeated Lyudmyta and Nadiya Kichenok 6-4, 6-3.

Meanwhile, in Quebec City, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won her first singles championship by defeating Marina Erakovic 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Zahlavova Strycova, seeded 6th, is ranked number 16 in the world in doubles.

Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, the number 1 seeds, won the doubles title. In the final, they defeated 
Jamie Hampton and Anna Tatishvili 6-1, 3-6, 10-6.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pervak goes to Tashkent final

Top seed Ksenia Pervak advanced to the final of the Tashkend Open today when she defeated Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-4. Also advancing was Eva Birneova, who, at 3-6, 5-3, received a retirement from 6th seed Alla Kudryavtseva.

Quarterfinals will be played in Quebec City today. In the second round, top seed Daniela Hantuchova went three sets against Melinda Czink, but prevailed.

Friday cat blogging--corner fit edition

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My U.S. Open top 10

Nike, Goddess of Victory (detail on Central Park statue of Gen. Sherman)
My top 10 U.S. Open occurrences, in ascending order:

10. This time, the opponent was too tough: Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament because of illness. She played her first round match, but then couldn't go on because of pain, and had to give Sabine Lisicki a walkover. Williams, it turns out, has Sjogren's Syndrome, but it took her years to get a correct diagnosis. She is currently undergoing treatment and plans to return to the tour.

9. Don't stop believing: 2009 U.S. Open star Melanie Oudin, aka Little Miss Upset, quickly turned into a falling star after that tournament. But she and partner Jack Sock won the 2011 U.S. Open mixed doubles title, and they took out the top seeds along the way.

8. Don't stop competing: 38-year-old Lisa Raymond won her sixth major doubles title when she and Liezel Huber defeated defending champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets. King and Shvedova were close to winning on several occasions, but Shvedova's nerves got in the way, and the 4th seeds hung in and overtook the defending champions.

7. Some things never change: Serena Williams and world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki met in the semifinals, and Williams defeated Wozniacki in straight sets, proving--yet again--that Wozniacki's defensive game is not sufficient to get the job done. Williams, gone for almost a year, won the U.S. Open Series, and then went all the way to the final of the U.S. Open, proving--yet again--that she should never be counted out.

6.  Advanced math: Sam Stosur said she lost track of the score in the historic tiebreak she played against Maria Kirilenko in the second set of their round of 16 match. Kirilenko won that utterly thrilling tiebreak 17-15, and it was the longest tiebreak ever played in a women's match at any major. Stosur, however, would go on to win the match.

5. It's enough to make you vomit: Flavia Pennetta tried, repeatedly, to vomit whenever she could take a moment during her round of 16 match against Peng Shuai. She heaved, she staggered, she breathed heavily, she foot-faulted; she also got a warning for taking too much time in between points. Though there was obviously something wrong with her, the Italian somehow won the first set 6-4. But during the second set, with her eyes glazed over and sweat pouring down her face, Pennetta looked like would barely be able to make it to the handshake. She stepped away from the wall and served for the match, but was broken. She went down 0-5 in the tiebreak. It was almost over--but then it wasn't, and Pennetta won the tiebreak 8-6, which meant that she had won the match.

4. German surprise: The German stars were expected to make a big splash at the Open, but after injury, nerves and an easy defeat by the 2nd seed got in the way, the last German standing was world number 92 Angelique Kerber, who went all the way to the semifinals. Kerber defeated the 12th and 26th seeds--both hard court stand-outs--and went on to take a set off of the eventual champion. She played spirited and aggressive tennis throughout the tournament, and made her exit after having one of the most unexpected runs ever. 

3. I can't stand the rain: There were rain delays throughout the U.S. Open, and the tournament was completely rained out for two consecutive days. There is no roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and--to add to the troubles--Louis Armstrong Stadium had to be closed because of water bubbles that kept seeping in. Some players became angry about the scheduling, and chaos ensued.

2. That didn't just happen, did it?: For the first time ever, both the French Open champion (Li Na) and the Wimbledon champion (Petra Kvitova) were upset in the first round. Worse, they were both upset because they played so poorly. In the second round Marion Bartoli, Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova were also upset.

1. Sam I am!: The tournament's 9th seed was virtually ignored by tennis journalists and commentators both before and during the tournament. In the third round, she played the longest women's match (3 hours and 16 minutes) in the history of the U.S. Open. In the round of 16, she lost the longest tiebreak (32 points) ever played by two women at a major, but went on to win the match. Samantha Stosur didn't play on Arthur Ashe Stadium--not even when those in charge finally scheduled her to do so. Because of the rain delays and the closing of Louis Armstrong Stadium, Stosur's semifinal was moved to the Grandstand. Stosur's moment on the big stage finally came during the final, when she played runaway favorite Serena Williams, and beat her in straight sets. Stosur's performance was nothing less than brilliant, and the former doubles star is now a U.S. Open champion in singles. Stosur is the first Australian woman to win the tournament in 38 years.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quote of the day

"That's everything you would ever want to do in a  moment like that. I couldn't have dreamed of playing a better match."
Sam Stosur

Passing shots

Lang Whitaker, writing for The New York Times, takes a look at tennis video games.

As of today, Maria Sharapova is ranked number 2 in the world. Victoria Azarenka has moved to the number 3 spot, and U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur is now number 7 in the world.

In doubles, Liezel Huber has moved back to the number 1 ranking.

2nd seed Bojana Jovanovski was upset today in the first round of play in Tashkent. Jovanovski lost in straight sets to Sorana Cirstea.

Steve Flink writes about the rise of Samantha Stosur.

Stosur, by the way, had to use three alarm clocks to wake up this morning so she could get to all of her news media appearances.

Want a tennis lesson with Kim Clijsters? You have until September 30 to participate in the contest.

Fish and foul

Following an "investigation," officials have fined Serena Williams $2,000 for her lengthy one-way conversation with chair umpire Eva Asderaki during the U.S. Open women's final. Officials also determined that the "outburst" (it was more of a rambling nonsensical rant) was not a major one, and therefore could not be used to extend Williams' probation, which ends with the close of the tournament. I heard a commentator complain that the fine was symbolic and therefore useless. I'll certainly go with "symbolic":

Serena Williams
Behavior: Called chair umpire a "hater," a "loser" and "unattractive inside" when she disagreed with the umpire's call

Reason given for behavior: "It was just so intense out there."

Media attention: Immediate and dramatic

Fine assessed: $2,000

Mardy Fish
Behavior: Called his opponent (some reported it was the chair umpire) a "dumbass" for what he thought was a ridiculous assumption that he (Fish) could actually understand a language other than English

Reason given for behavior: "We were fired up out there."

Media attention: Mentioned in passing

Fine assessed: $0,000

Sunday, September 11, 2011

U.S. Open--what they said

You want to play your best tennis, but we were just struggling today. I think they're a team that we've lost to before, and we've actually felt like we played--probably the time we played them before we played a better match than we did today. But today was kinda what we're talking about, just fighting and having each other's back and just kind of grinding it. Doesn't matter how ugly it got, the base part of it all was the tiebreak at the end. We actually played free. That was probably the part of the entire match that we felt like this is how we played the whole US Open.
Liezel Huber

Were you aware of the hindrance rule?
I thought it was the same as the hat rule; I guess I need to read the rule book.
Serena Williams

It's a little different because I've watched her like, play on TV. I watched her play Sharapova at the French. That just seemed like a long ways away. But I think us both being in the finals it like, leveled the playing field, and kind of, you know, brought her down from a little pedestal that I might have put her on like a few months ago.
Grace Min

After that first set, I kind of sat down, and I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest, and I thought, "Okay, I'm a set up now; I've got a chance to win one out of the next two, and I've got a chance."
Sam Stosur

She's an underdog from Down Under.
Mary Carillo

I didn't think I'd be standing here today. I didn't think I'd be standing, let alone standing here.
Serena Williams

You didn't have a big celebration. You didn't sort of fall to your knees or anything like that.    
Oh, my gosh. No. No.
Grace Min

Two years ago the umpire was from northern Europe, Danish or Swedish, Louise; today was a Greek called Eva. Blonde both. Did you confuse them?
I don't know. I mean, I don't know. Maybe. Probably for sure.
Serena Williams

Does it feel the way you thought it would?

I think it does. I think so.
Sam Stosur

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Sam Stosur ended her 2011 U.S. Open historic run in style today when she defeated Serena Williams 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Stosur's third round match was the longest women's match in U.S. Open history, and the second set tiebreak in her round of 16 match was the longest tiebreak played by women in any major tournament.

Stosur, seeded 9th at the Open, was the runner-up at the 2010 French Open. After taking out all the top players at that tournament, the Australian was the favorite to win the title, but she was defeated by a stunningly in-form Francesca Schiavone. In today's final, Stosur was clearly not the favorite, yet she won in straight sets.

Whereas world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Williams in the semifinals, relies too much on her defensive skills, Stosur has sometimes relied to much on her offensive skills and has occasionally appeared lost when her serve has failed her. Today, however, Stosur brought the perfect blend of expert serving and keen defensive play. She forced Williams into long rallies, and she used her backhand slice to change the pace of play.

Stosur got off to a fast start, showing dominance from the very beginning. With her improved backhand and a less hesitant attitude about coming forward, the Australian star looked comfortable taking command of the points, and she used her powerful forehand to keep Williams at bay. Stosur's serving was superb, and she went after Williams' second serve with a ferocity that has eluded Williams' other opponents.

Stosur won the first set in 31 minutes.  When Williams served at the beginning of the next set, Stosur broke her, but the break itself was overshadowed by some drama when chair umpire Eva Asdiraki called out Williams on a hindrance violation. On break point, Williams screamed "Come on!" between the time she hit a forehand shot and the time that Stosur's racquet made contact with the ball. The point was given to Stosur, and Williams stopped play in order to express her anger toward Asderaki.

It seemed, though, that Williams had Asderaki confused with another umpire, as she accused her of perpetrating a pattern of negative behavior toward Williams. Given the incident that occurred when Williams played Kim Clijsters at the Open in 2009, the moment contained a considerable amount of tension. Williams was angry, and she threw her anger into the next game, breaking Stosur back.

Serving at 1-2, Stosur went down 15-40, and it looked for all the world as though the "turning point," fueled by Williams' wrath, had arrived. But then Stosur hit an ace, then she threw Williams off balance with a slice backhand. At deuce, Stosur hit a forehand down the line, then passed Williams on the return. Williams got the game back to deuce, but then there was another ace from Stosur, followed by a huge serve. The Australian had held serve when she appeared the most vulnerable, and that indeed, was the match's turning point, though not the one many were expecting. In retrospect, it was the very likely the biggest moment in Stosur's singles career.

Williams was broken again when she served at 2-3. Serving at 3-5, she saved a match point, and then she hit a big serve to save a second match point. But on the third match point, Stosur prevailed. Throughout the match, she hit 20 winners and made only 12 unforced errors.

The last time an Australian woman won the U.S. Open was in 1973, when Margaret Court took the title. The last Australian woman to win any major was Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won Wimbledon for a second time in 1980.

Stosur's U.S. Open win is a huge one. Not only did she play a record-breaking long match and then a record-breaking tiebreak during her two weeks in New York, but she also decisively beat the tournament's only real favorite in the final. Though Williams was seeded 28th, she was chosen by virtually every expert to win the title.

After Stosur lost the 2010 French Open final to Schiavone, her career went into a slump. Her run at the U.S. Open marks a dramatic reversal of fortune. Formerly the world's number 1 doubles player, Stosur gave up playing doubles, for all practical purposes, to concentrate on her singles career. She is the only player other than Jana Novotna to make a transition from being an elite doubles player to being an elite singles player.

Huber and Raymond win U.S. Open

Defending champions Vania King and Yarslava Shvedova were so close, on two occasions today, to winning their second consecutive U.S. Open doubles title, but nerves got the best of Shvedova and her serve, and Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond were only too glad to take advantage of their opponents' vulnerability.

King and Shvedova won the first set 6-4, and after breaking Huber and Raymond, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Shvedova, who can go from brilliant to horrible within two points, obviously couldn't handle the occasion, and her serve was broken. King and Shvedova broke back, and had break points to go up 6-5, but failed to convert them, and the second set went to a tiebreak, which Huber and Raymond won 7-5.

Huber and Raymond played even more aggressively in the final set, but again, King and Shvedova fought back and were a couple of points away from a win yet again, and again--Shvedova could not control her nerves. That set also went to a tiebreak.

At 6-2 in that tiebreak, Huber got confused and thought the match was over. She jumped in the air and ran over to embrace Raymond, who had to inform her that there was still another point to play. She and Huber won the tiebreak 7-3.

The match was very entertaining and featured some thrilling rallies; Raymond was the stand-out player. King was steady most of the time, and did everything she could to steady her partner, but it just wasn't Shvedova's day. When she can control her anxiety, Shvedova has a big serve, but today, her serve was problematic more often than not.

Vergeer wins U.S. Open wheelchair singles and doubles titles

Top seed Esther Vergeer won her sixth U.S. Open wheelchair singles title today, defeating countrywoman Aniek Van Koot 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

Vergeer and partner Sharon Walraven, the number 1 seeds, also won the doubles championship. They defeated 2nd seeds Jiske Griffoen 7-5, 6-7, 6-4. This is also Vergeer's sixth U.S. Open doubles title.

Grace Min wins junior U.S. Open title

"I'm just trying to play tennis," Grace Min said last year when she talked about all the pressure on the tour "to look good, to get noticed." She made herself noticed the real way today when she won the junior U.S. Open singles championship. Min, a 17-year-old from Georgia, defeated top seed Caroline Garcia 7-5, 7-6 in the final. Min, who was unseeded at the tournament, was up 5-0 in the tiebreak when rain began falling and she and Garcia had to stop playing. She won that tiebreak 7-3.

Min and Eugenie Bouchard won the junior doubles title at Wimbledon this year.

Irina Kromacheva of Russia and Demi Schuurs of The Netherlands won the doubles championship. they defeated the team of Gabrielle Andrews and Taylor Townsend, who are both from the USA. Townsend, playing with Jessica Pagula, reached the third round of the main draw this year. Kromacheva was part of the team who won this year's junior French Open doubles championship, and Schuurs was part of the team who won the junior Australian Open doubles title.

U.S. Open--what they said

What are your expectations now in terms of challenging next year?  What do you think you're capable of?
I think for sure now if I go to the Grand Slam I will try the second week, because I know that I can play with everyone here.  Yeah, but I think there are some  --  yeah, I need to practice for sure or make my fitness a little bit better. Yeah, and I will do this in the end of the year.
Angelique Kerber

What were you telling yourself before the start of the third set?  You put yourself into so much adversity already this tournament, and it felt like you were just doing it to yourself again.
Well, I went off, changed my clothes again, and just tried to settle down and really just think about what was going on.
Sam Stosur

She has the power to overpower us.
Caroline Wozniacki, referring to Serena Williams

Was there any part of the day where you were kinda wishing you could have gone out on Grandstand and just gotten it done, or did you prefer waiting around and getting the prime time?
I honestly don't think about could, what I could do, unless that option is available.  Once that option becomes available, then I'll think about it. I was just reading my book. Like I said, I'm great at waiting. I can wait forever.
Serena Williams

...I felt like we had the disadvantage before this match, considering Caroline and Serena were told they were going on at 8:00 24 hours before we even had a start time and a court. So everything is kinda gone a little crazy and haywire.
Sam Stosur

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We finally have finalists!

Between the rain delays and the closing of Louis Armstrong Stadium, we had to wait a long time to get our 2011 U.S. Open finalists, but now we have them: 9th seed Samantha Stosur, and--surprise!--28th seed Serena  Williams.

Williams had to have a medical time-out during her semifinal against world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki; she had some problems with the toe on her injured foot. But that didn't stop her from defeating Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4. The 28th seed had a few wobbles when she tried to close the match, but she recovered, and will go for her fourth U.S. Open title tomorrow.

Wozniacki, for all her skills, was just no match for Williams, who dominated the match from the start.

More interesting--at least, to me--was the semifinal played between Stosur and the unseeded Angelique Kerber. They had never played each other before, and in the first set, Kerber, as expected, appeared to be somewhat beset by nerves. Stosur used her big serve to take that set 6-3. I wasn't expecting a beat-down, though, and--sure enough--Kerber came to life in the second set, improved her own serve, and put on the kind of show that got her to the semifinals.

Down 1-4 in the second set, Stosur saved three break points. Down 2-5, 0-30, she hit struck a serve that broke Kerber's racquet handle. Kerber only got better, though, hit confidently to Stosur's backhand, and won the second set 6-2. Her momentum went away, as did her serve, in the final set, however. Stosur easily moved to a 5-0 lead, but the world number 92 wouldn't go away. Kerber finally held, then broke the 9th seed when she served for the match at 5-1, and then she held at 15.

Stosur served for the mach a second time and went down 0-30, then 15-40. Angelique Kerber appeared ready to turn the match around, and she played what may have been the point of the match to get a break opportunity. But Stosur saved it, then she saved a second break point. She wasn't able to win on her first match point, but--after four deuces--she was victorious on her second match point.

She didn't make it to the final, but Angelique Kerber had an amazing run at the U.S. Open, and today, she showed what a fighter she is. Others in her position might have faded away, but Kerber hung in until the absolute last moment, and impressed spectators with the type of forehand superiority for which the German players have become known.

Stosur has had a long, difficult tournament. She played in the longest U.S. Open women's match in history, and the longest match ever played by two women in a major. Williams, on the opposite end of the spectrum, hasn't dropped a set. Each has impressed in her own way. Stosur--who is often reluctant to go to the net--has played with increased and precise aggression. Williams, of course, has served exceptionally well.

Williams and Stosur have played each other six times; Williams has won four of those matches. She also gave Stosur a walkover in Cincinnati this summer. Stosur's only hard court victory against Williams occurred in 2009 in Stanford. Stosur was the runner-up in the 2010 French Open. Her best run at the U.S. Open, prior to this year, was in 2010, when she got as far as the quarterfinals; Stosur lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.

We also have finalists in the junior draw. Top seed Caroline Garcia of France will play the unseeded Grace Min of the USA. Three of the four semifinalists were players from the USA.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Only one semifinal to be broadcast live on USA television

If you live in the USA and you rely on Tennis Channel, ESPN and CBS for your U.S. Open coverage, you're out of luck tomorrow. The re-scheduled semifinal between Sam Stosur and Angelique Kerber will  not be televised live on any of those channels. I assume, however, that the match will be shown live on the U.S. Open website, which--for me--has been good venue for viewing the tournament. The Stosur-Kerber match will take place in the Grandstand. U.S. Open officials have shut down Louis Armstrong Stadium because of water bubbles, and Arthur Ashe Stadium will be used for men's semifinals, the men's doubles final and the Caroline Wozniacki-Serena Williams semifinal.

The Wozniacki-Williams final will be broadcast at 8 p.m. New York time, on CBS. The match is listed on the schedule as starting at 7 p.m. I assume there will be some pre-match entertainment. The Stosur-Kerber match begins at 6 p.m. New York time.

U.S. Open--what they said

Mother Nature can be cruel. Though she's a few years older than the WTA's grande dame Jill Craybas, Ms. Nature is forever a dangerous floater in any Grand Slam draw she enters.
Jonathan Scott

She's a player you think "Wow, she's better than you think she is."
Virginia Wade

I think my semifinal is at 6 p.m. on Grandstand, if anyone wants to watch the ONLY SEMIFINAL not on Arthur Ashe Stadium, come out tomorrow.
Sam Stosur

...get ready for the WTA food chain to break in two.
Jonathan Scott

People spend more time playing doubles than watching it for a reason. It parallels too closely the struggles of our own lives: working with others; toiling in the shadows; getting second billing. Not getting paid enough.
Nic Brown

What a forehand! That was just what the doctor needed.
Virginia Wade

Obviously, we play faster than we can even think.
Nadia Petrova

Oudin and Sock win U.S. Open mixed doubles championship

Wild cards Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock won the U.S. Open mixed doubles championship tonight when they defeated 8th seeds Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank 7-6, 4-6, 10-8. It's tempting to say that Oudin and Sock defeated Dulko, because the great doubles player from Argentina often had to handle her team's duties on her own. Given the inconsistency of Schwank, it's notable that the match was as close as it was.

The tiebreak at the end got a bit dicey. Serving at 6-9, Schwank hit an ace that was called out by the line official. The team challenged the call, but the point had to be played again. Dulko and Schwank then saved a match point, after which Schwank hit another ace. But when Sock served at 9-8, Schwank was unable to return the ball inside the court.

Oudin and Sock, who upset top seeds Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan in the second round, played extremely well in the final. And after Oudin's dramatic fall from from popularity in singles, how nice it must feel for her to win this title.

Defending champions advance to U.S. Open final

Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, last year's unlikely U.S. Open champions, earned a chance to defend their title today when they defeated 5th seeds Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 7-6, 2-6, 6-3. King and Shvedova, seeded 3rd, will play 4th seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in the final. Huber and Raymond defeated Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Last year, King and Shvedova played Petrova and Huber in the final; now they are playing the pair in consecutive matches.

Top seed Esther Vergeer made it to the wheelchair final today when she defeated Annick Sevenans 6-2, 6-3. Her opponent will be Aniek Van Koot, who defeated 2nd seed Jiske Griffioen 6-3, 6-2. In wheelchair doubles, top seeds Vergeer and Sharon Walraven will play 2nd seeds Griffioen and Van Koot in the final.

1st seed Caroline Garcia advanced to the junior quarterfinals today. Defending champion Daria Gavrilova was defeated yesterday in the second round.

Queen of the hill, top of the heap

 I'll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you
New York, New York

World number 1 Caroline Wozniacki, whether she likes it or not, is having a "Liza Minnelli moment" at the U.S. Open. She's made it to the semifinals, and now she faces what many consider the ultimate test: She plays Serena Williams. They have played each other only twice, both matches were played in 2009, both were played on hard courts, and both were won by Williams. Wozniacki and Williams have never opposed each other at a major tournament (though one of their matches was played at the WTA Championships).

Seeded 28th, Williams has yet to drop a set at the Open. She looked a bit off her game in her first set against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals, but she won in straight sets, nevertheless. The other signirficant challenge she faced was from Victoria Azarenka, and she met that one.

Is it fair to say that Wozniacki "has" to beat Williams in order to rightfully own her number 1 ranking? Probably not, but it would give the Dane some breathing room so that she can work on her game without being constantly observed and picked apart by sports journalists and the like. Wozniacki claims she doesn't care what anyone thinks about her status, and perhaps she doesn't, but--in my opinion--her demeanor somewhat belies her words. Still, Wozniacki didn't create the ranking system--she just knows how to work it.

No matter what happens tomorrow, Serena Williams walks away owning one of the greatest comebacks in recent sports history. She's the runaway favorite to win the tournament, of course, but a loss for her wouldn't have the same meaning, in certain circles, as a loss for Wozniacki. Of course, in the film, New York, New York, Liza Minnelli also sings "But the World Goes 'Round":

Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes 'round

Let's not forget, by the way, that there are two other players involved. After looking kind of flat and uncreative for several months, Sam Stosur has made herself  noticed again--in a big way--in New York. She played in the longest women's match ever recorded at the tournament, and then she played in the longest tiebreak ever played by two women at a major. She lost that tiebreak 15-17 against Maria Kirilenko, but came back to win the match. This spirited and highly competitive Sam Stosur is a great addition to the final group of four.

And that brings us to the unseeded, unheralded Angelique Kerber, the "other" German, the one who survived the quarterfinals. Ranked number 92 in the world, Kerber has played the tournament of her career, taking out both 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska and 26th seed Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta has a 4-0 record against Stosur, so surely the Australian feels a certain amount of relief that she doesn't have to face the Queen of Fed Cup.

However, Stosur has never played Kerber, so we might see a set in which both players try to adjust to each other's games. So far, Kerber has gone merrily along through five rounds, but it would be surprising if the weight of the occasion doesn't affect her soon, even if she remains physically fit. Regardless, her U.S. Open run is a pleasant surprise, especially considering that she has outlasted her more famous countrywomen at a time when German tennis is on the rise again.

There are only four women standing. Here, for a little inspiration, is one of New York's classic survivors:

Friday cat blogging--private retreat edition

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Top doubles seeds upset in U.S. Open quarterfinals

Number 1 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik lost their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open today. They were defeated 6-2, 6-3 by 5th seeds Maria Kirilenko and Nadia  Petrova.

Defending champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova moved on with a 6-4, 7-5 win over 3rd seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. King and Shvedova are seeded 3rd at the Open.

4th seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond defeated 9th seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-4. Also winning in the quarterfinals were Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska. They beat 15th seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-3, 7-6.

In mixed doubles, Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock advanced to the final when they received a walkover from 7th seeds Elena Vesnina and Leander Paes. Their opponents will be 8th seeds Gisela Dulko and Eduardo Schwank. Dulko and Schwank defeated Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak.

Wheelchair singles competition began today, and both top seed Esther Vergeer and Aniek Van Koot won their quarterfinal matches.

U.S. Open--what they said

Knowing you were down, and you had to turn the match around, how do you stay so mentally tough and so focused?
It's definitely something that's innate. I don't think you can go out and get it. I just have it.
Serena Williams

You know, you just have to play inside the lines and over the net.
Caroline Wozniacki

We kind of seem like an old, like, married couple.
Melanie Oudin, on her doubles relationship with Jack Sock

I think Caroline is one of the most underestimated players out there, because you have to win each and every point against her.  If you don't do it, you lose. If Serena plays well, it's tough to beat her.
Andrea Petkovic

You say you keep learning from these experiences. What have you learned from this very last one?
I always go out wearing either shoes that cover all my foot or most of it. I'm serious.
Serena Williams

I don't know why she had the problem with her serve.  I can tell you I had a problem with my serve, because she's left-handed and everything was a little bit different for me.  My good serve on the T was not that good today, and it was going on her forehand and was the best shot she had.
Flavia Pennetta

This is the first time you're playing her since you were number 1. There [have] been so many questions about your rise. Do you think you can answer a lot of questions in that match on Saturday?
To be honest, I don't care. I don't care what people think and say or do. I care about what I know best. I go out there, and what I care about is that I give 100% every time.You win a match, you lose a match sometimes. It's sports. ...
Caroline Wozniacki

There were some who were wondering if you were being paid by the hour in the third and fourth round, but today it must have been a relief just to get that match over.
Oh, for sure. It's always nicer to finish them off in less than three hours. 
Samantha Stosur

Not the German we were expecting

The buzz before the U.S. Open was that German players were likely to make an impact on the draw. The players most talked about were Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic, and there was also some attention paid to Julia Goerges. Goerges did make an impact, in that--injured and unable to twist her body--she fought off four match points against Peng Shaui in the third round. Lisicki, not surprisingly, was easily defeated by 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva. Today, 10th seed Petkovic lost in straight sets to Caroline Wozniacki.

But we do have a German player in the semifinals, and that player is Angelique Kerber. Kerber, ranked number 92 in the world, defeated seed 26th seed Flavia Pennetta today, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Serving at 4-3 in the third set, Kerber survived four break points and was able to remain steady and win the match. Her upset of a tired and unfocused Pennetta books Kerber a semifinal meeting with 9th seed Sam Stosur, who prevailed over Zonvareva in the quarterfinals.

To get to the semifinals, Kerber defeated Lauren Davis, 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Alla Kudryavtseva, Monica Niculescu, and Pennetta. Going out earlier in that quarter were Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2006 U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova.

There was a moment, in the second set, when it looked as though Petkovic would take her match to three sets. Defeated 6-1 in the first set by world number 1 Wozniacki, the 10th seed became much more competitive and set up a tiebreak when she broke Wozniacki twice. But even when she was competitive, Petkovic made repreated errors, usually on simple shots she had set up as winners. Wozniacki beat her 6-1, 7-6.

Stosur is now 8-2 against Zvonareva. The Russian has not beaten Stosur since 2004. Stosur, by the way, has never beaten Pennetta, but now she doesn't have to worry about that particular problem.

The other winner today was Serena Williams,  who defeated 17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-1. Pavlyuchenkova double-faulted a lot, which is something we've come to expect from the young Russian star. Nevertheless, she broke Williams three times and entertained the crowd with some big shot-making. Williams got off to an especially slow start today, but was able to make up that deficit.

The  semifinals have been pushed back to Saturday because of the two-day rain delay. Wozniacki will play Williams, and Kerber will play Stosur. Williams has won the U.S. Open three times; Wozniacki was the runner-up in 2009. Stosur was the runner-up at the French Open in 2010.

The semifinal featuring Wozniacki and Williams is of particular interest, since--in the opinion of most observers of women's tennis--Serena Williams is the "real" world number 1. So far, no one has taken a set off of Williams in New York.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Passing shots

For the second day in a row, there was no tennis played at the U.S. Open. It would be nice if there were a roof.

Thanks to Courtney at Beyond the Baseline for this Women's Wear Daily article on Pam Shriver.

Jennifer Capriati is on the list of nominees for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Tracy Austin and Martina Navratilova "called" their 1981 final today on Tennis Channel. It was a very entertaining way to pass the time during the rain delay. Austin said that--if coaches, trainers and players knew then what they know now--she would not have had to retire because of her back problems. She also said that she would never have wanted anyone to tell her what to do, i.e., coach her, during a match.

If the rain stops tomorrow, Serena Williams and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will play their quarterfinal match in Aurthur Ashe Stadium. Caroline Wozniacki and Andrea Petkovic will play in Louis Armstrong Stadium, Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva will play on the Grandstand court, and Angelique Kerber and Flavia Pennetta will play on the new Court 17.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sometimes the show can't go on

All sessions--day and night--were rained out today at the U.S. Open today. That means that players got some rest, but they also got more time to think about things. If the weather cooperates, tomorrow's quarterfinal schedule will be really crowded, with Wednesday's feature match going to Serena Williams and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Also lined up for tomorrow: Sam Stusur vs. Vera Zvonareva, Caroline Wozniacki vs. Andrea Petkovic, and Angelique Kerber vs. Flavia Pennetta.

Petkovic and Pennetta should definitely benefit from getting some extra rest, since one has a (waning) injury, and the other had to fight illness in her last match.

In doubles quarterfinals, the defending champions--Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova--will face French Open champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. They are the 3rd and 8th seeds, respectively. 9th seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who upset 2nd seeds Dulko and Pennetta, will play 4th seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond.

Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska will play 15th seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, and top seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik will compete against 5th seeds Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pavlyuchenkova beats Schiavone at U.S. Open

The last time she played Francesca Schiavone, at the 2011 French Open, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was up a set and and a break, but lost the match. This time, in the U.S. Open round of 16, the Russian player was the victor. The match took two hours and 41 minutes to play, there were 16 breaks of serve, and the players committed 95 unforced errors. That statistic includes 21 double faults. There was a great deal of fighting back from Schiavone in the third set, as one would expect. But Pavlyuchenkova's shot-making was just good enough to get her to the next round. Schiavone, the 7th seed, couldn't get by on fight alone in this match; her tennis just wasn't good enough.

For her troubles, Pavlyuchenkova gets to face Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Williams, who is seeded 28th at the Open, defeated 16th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4 while the wind swirled all around them and made it very difficult for them to hit the kind of shots they like to hit. Ivanovic broke Williams once; she was also broken once by Victoria Azarenka in the previous round.

Williams and Pavlyuchenkova have met only once, on clay in 2010, and Williams won in three sets.

Wozniacki advances to U.S. Open quarterfinals

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova took a first set tiebreak off of world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki in tonight's U.S. Open round of 16 feature match. She then went up 4-1 in the second set. At that point, though, Kuznetsova got a bit shaky and made some errors. Anyone who has watched Kuznetsova for the last few years--and who has also watched Wozniacki--knew then that it was over for the Russian.

It was. She was broken in that game, and though she had a break point in the next game, she failed to convert it. Wozniacki served for the set at 5-4, and Kuznetsova broke with three stunning forehand shots, probably giving her fans some hope. But she was quickly broken back, and Wozniacki won the set 7-5. In the third set, Wozniacki dictated play, and Kuznetsova looked tired and slow. Serving at 1-5, the 15th seed saved four match points, but Wozniacki won the match on her fifth.

This was Kuznetsova's match to lose, and she lost it. The Russian player, who won the tournament in 2004, hit 40 winners, but she also made a whopping 78 unforced errors. It took Wozniacki over three hours to get past the Kuznetsova, but she was fit and ready to outlast her.

When I watch a match, I like one commentator or no commentators. I can tolerate two commentators. Three, however, is too many, and tonight on ESPN, Chris Evert was joined by Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert. I switched to Tennis TV, but didn't get much relief. There was so much talking. Brad Gilbert apparently thinks it's "clever" to say "tree" instead of "three." He also doesn't understand how impolite it is to call a player a nickname she has begged people not to call her.

And here's a note to McEnroe: When it's a women's match, no--the mystery answer isn't  to say "no person's land." Open your mouth like you're about to mispronounce the world number 1's name, and just say the "w" word. Same goes for commentators who say "linesperson" the moment they see a female official. It's very revealing, this avoidance of the word "woman."

Gilbert also insisted in praising Wozniacki for being a silent player. Thankfully, his co-commentators corrected him. How he's missed the constant "oompah," I don't know. But he misses a lot.

But back to the other "w" word: Wozniacki will play 10th seed Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals. seed Petkovic defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-4. Suarez Navarro waited until the last minute to get into the match and play her enjoyable game. In fact, she broke Petkovic when she served for the match at 5-2 in the second set.

U.S. Open--what they said

...I tried to be excessive aggressive....
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

She does try to intimidate. She stays close to the baseline so you feel like you have no space to hit to. That's something I expected going into the match. I really try not to look so much across the net.
Ana Ivanovic

When you see footage of your own serve, what goes through your mind as you watch it?
I feel kind of like lazy. I feel like it's like, you know, I don't do much and I kind of go slow, and then all of a sudden I hit it.
Serena Williams

They hit more balls in that rally than they hit in the entire match.
Virginia Wade, commenting on the Petkovic-Suarez Navarro match

When I played, they had what we called "ethical boundaries." I know it's not illegal, but I question the ethics of what she's doing.
Elise Bergen, on Taylor Townsend's stance at the net

Overall, how would you assess your performance over the entire tournament?
Not so good. You can save maybe one match or two match, but the average has to be much, much higher. I just say you can't play two points in eight points or ten points.... 
Francesca Schiavone

I don't have any more space. I mean, I have a new house in L.A. I created a karaoke room, so I can't put trophies in there.
Serena Williams

She doesn't say a word, but it would have been choice if she had.
Virginia Wade, after Schiavone made an error

She gets these unbelievable shots from the angles because she's moving so well. She's such a great fighter. So sometimes I have to realize that it's not only my fault missing the balls. She makes me miss, as well.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Has he (Djokovic) ever done your fist pump?
Yeah, of course. Even the guy in Starbucks did that.
Ana Ivanovic

Errani and Vinci upset Dulko and Pennetta at U.S. Open

15th seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci upset countrywoman Flavia Pennetta and her partner, Gisela Dulko today in the third round of the U.S. Open. Dulko and Pennetta were seeded second. Errani and Vinci lost the first set 4-6, but won the next two, 7-5, 6-2.

The surprise run of teenagers Jessica Pegula and Taylor Townsend ended when they were defeated 6-4, 6-2 by defending champions Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. King and Shvedova are seeded third at the tournament.

In mixed doubles, Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock continued their strong run. They won their quarterfinal match against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Philipp Petzschner, defeating them 6-3, 7-6.

12th seed Madison Keys won her opening round in junior singles. Keys won her main draw first round match.

Passing shots

Women's Tennis Blog gives us a good look at fashion at the U.S. Open. Mattek-Sands' tube socks are the best ever.

There are 26 gold badge chair umpires, but only thirteen of them are officiating at the U.S. Open. The rest of them decided it wasn't worth it. They said that the U.S. Open pay less than the other majors, and this year, the umpires told that their pay would be cut by 30%. One official said "We've heard they spend more on the flower arrangements at the Open than they do on officiating."

Li Na and Yanina Wickmayer have withdrawn from the Toray PPO in Tokyo.

Get to know Anastasiya Yakimova.

Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and the team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik have qualified for the WTA Championships, which will be played in Istanbul.

U.S. Open--what they said

If you give her a lot of angle it's better for her. So if you start maybe a little more in the middle and then you try to move her, she's starting to have some problems. I was trying to do that.
Flavia Pennetta

I'm actually very, very excited about it....
Ana Ivanovic, on her upcoming match against Serena Williams

...Steffi is Steffi, and we are the next generation.
Angelique Kerber

I think there is only one woman left who is still in the singles and doubles. Is it difficult for you to put in the same focus in both tournaments?
Yeah, I'm able to do that. I love to play doubles. They asked me yesterday if I would like to play doubles also today because we have few days more to play, and actually I prefer to play tomorrow  because today I know was really tough for me to play two matches. Tomorrow I will be ready to play doubles and the day after to play singles. We are used to play singles, doubles and don't have any day between one and the other one. So I think I'm fit.
Flavia Pennetta

It's not reality anymore. Why do they call it reality if it's not reality anymore?
Andrea Petkovic

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Round of 16 play continues Monday at U.S. Open

Here is the draw for Monday's round of 16 competition:

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Kuznetsova won the U.S. Open in 2004 and is arguably one of the most gifted players on the tour. But for years, she has had to deal with inconsistency, and is no longer considered an elite contender. Seeded 15th, Kuznetsova will face her biggest challenge yet in this tournament when she plays world number 1 Wozniacki. The Russian has a 2-6 record against Wozniacki, and the Dane has won the last three, all of which were played on hard courts.

Andrea Petkovic vs. Carla Suarez Navarro: Suarez Navarro hasn't been part of the conversation for a long time, but now she's popped up in the round of 16 in New York. Suarez Navarro likes to play on clay courts, and the slower 2011 U.S. Open courts probably appeal to her. 10th seed Petkovic has a knee injury that has affected her more mentally than physically. The injury is healing, however, which should keep the very fit Petkovic competitive in every way.

Serena Williams vs. Ana Ivanovic: There was a time when Ivanovic was feared because of her forehand, but this is not the same Ivanovic who won the French Open in 2008. The forehand is still there, but Ivanovic is no longer a consistent winner, and she can't rely on her serve the way Williams does. Williams has yet to drop a set at this tournament, though she was seriously challenged in her second set against Victoria Azarenka.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Francesca Schiavone: If any two players can come close to providing the kind of thrills we saw today at the U.S. Open, these are the players. Schiavone was down a set (1-6) and 1-4 against Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals of the 2011 French Open, but came back to win the match. The 7th seed's 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory was one of many come-from-behind thrillers in which Schiavone has been involved. In fact, only yesterday, the Italian star pulled off a big comeback in her third round match against Chanelle Scheepers. Schiavone can move around the court much better than the 22nd seed, but Pavlyuchenkova is a superb shot-maker.

Mirza and Vesnina out of U.S. Open in 3rd round

Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina, the 6th seeds at the U.S. Open, were defeated in the third round of doubles today by 9th seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. Zahlavova Stycova and partner Philipp Petzschner also advanced to the third round in mixed doubles competition. 4th seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond advanced, as did 8th seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the 2011 French Open champions.

In junior competition, top Caroline Garcia advanced to the second round. Jessica Pegula and Taylor Townsend, who are experiencing surprising success in the doubles main draw, won their first round singles matches in the junior draw.

Stosur wins thriller against Kirilenko

"Oh-oh, say can you see?" blasted from the speakers in Arthur Ashe Stadium while Maria Kirilenko and Sam Stosur played a historic second-set tiebreak in the Grandstand Stadium. If she could have taken a moment, Kirilenko would surely have answered a resounding "No! They can't see at all!"

On three occasions during that tiebreak--at deadly crucial times--line officials made incorrect calls against Kirilenko. She challenged all of them, and was able to breathe freely for a moment after each correction. The tiebreak, won by Kirilenko, went to 17-15, making it the longest tiebreak played by two women in a major tournament. In the course of that tiebreak, the Russian player, seeded 25th, saved five match points. She won the set on her sixth set point.

The third set was competitive; Kirilenko saved two more match points, but it was Stosur who advanced to the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3. The match lasted two hours and 37 minutes; the second set lasted an hour and 24 minutes.

9th seed Stosur will play 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals. Zvonareva improved her   3-0 winning record over Sabine Lisicki to 4-0 when she defeated 22nd seed Lisicki 6-2, 6-3 tonight. Lisicki made 28 unforced errors, while Zvonareva made only eleven. Zvonareva was the runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Open.

Pennetta retches, stumbles and sweats her way to U.S. Open quarterfinals

Perhaps from now on, the world "Italian" should always have the adjective "fighting" in front of it. Yesterday, it was Francesca Schiavone who fought her way back from a near-loss; today, it was her friend and countrywoman, Flavia Pennetta. The 26th seed had to fight more than a strong opponent, however. During the first set, Pennetta looked a bit woozy. When the first set was over, it became evident that she was ill. She grew pale, her eyes glazed over, she wasn't moving steadily, and she was pouring sweat.

Pennetta won that first set against Peng Shuai 6-4. Surely she could hang in for the second--or could she? Winning the first one wasn't easy: Peng seemed to be all over the court, getting back everything Pennetta gave her. When she served for it at 5-4, Pennetta faced three break points, two of which she saved with aces.

In the second set, no one held until the fifth game. By this time, Pennetta's illness was evident every moment. At 2-3, down 15-40, though, the (fighting) Italian found a way to hold. She was breathing heavily and dripping with sweat. But suddenly Peng was serving for the set at 5-3. Pennetta broke, then served for the match at 6-5. She soon received a warning from the chair umpire because she took too much time between points. Because time passes quickly when you're dry-heaving against the wall in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Pennetta yelled and gave the umpire a sharp "I'm trying to vomit over here!" look.

Pennetta then foot-faulted, which led to a double fault, which led to a break of serve. The tiebreak began, and Pennetta went for some more wall-slumping dry heaves. Throughout this display, Peng remained calm, and efficiently went up 5-0 in the tiebreak. It didn't look like there was any way the Italian could play a third set, so Peng appeared to be two points from a match victory.

But then Pennetta made her first point in the tiebreak. After that, she hit an ace. She prevailed when Peng had set points. On her fourth one, Peng saw an overhead she had hit come back from Pennetta's racquet and whiz past her. When the tiebreak reached 6-all, the crowd went crazy. And then, just like that, Pennetta won it, 8-6, when Peng tried to hit a drop volley that did not go over the net.

The occasion must have been a terrible one for Peng; for Pennetta, it was a scene more or less revisited. In 2009, she saved six match points against Vera Zvonareva in the round of 16 by going on a tear and hitting consecutive winners as Zvonareva went to melted down. Pennetta won that match, too.

In the quarterfinals, Pennetta will play unseeded Angelique Kerber, who defeated Monica Niculescu--also unseeded--6-4, 6-3.

After the match, Pennetta explained that her on-court illness was a reaction to the humidity. The weather in Flushing Meadows became suddenly humid today, which caused trouble for several players.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Round of 16 play begins on Sunday

I like the round of 16. There are enough matches to make for constant viewing, and the stakes have become higher. Also, there are usually some "surprise" players involved, and, for me, that makes things more interesting. Here is the round of 16--or fourth round, if you will--draw for September 4:

Monica Niculescu vs. Angelique Kerber: Here are two unseeded players with a chance to get to the quarterfinals of a major tournament. Niculescu ran over 27th seed Lucie Safarova to get to the round of 16, and she also defeated a worthy opponent in countrywoman Alexandra Dulgheru. Niculescu doesn't play like Kerber; an argument can be made that she doesn't play like anyone. Kerber will need to remain stready and be prepared to run forward and scoop balls.

Peng Shuai vs. Flavia Pennetta: Peng is having a wonderful season--if you don't count her chronic hip problems. She can be a really accurate and relentless returner of serve. Tomorrow, she'll be up against a determined, creative fighter who, when her serve is on, is very dangerous.

Maria Kirilenko vs. Sam Stosur: It's no secret that I really enjoy watching Kirilenko play. She's a great thinker on the court, and she knows her way around the net. When her serve is on, she can be hard to beat. Kirilenko, the 25th seed, will be playing a woman who is considered one of the best servers on the tour. Stosur has looked very strong at this U.S. Open. Kirilenko's all-court play could make the 9th seed uncomfortable--or Stosur could use her serve to cruise through the match.

Sabine Lisicki vs. Vera Zvonareva: This is the night match, and it should be. Zvonareva, the 2nd seed, was the runner-up at last year's U.S. Open. Lisicki, the 22nd seed, won the new Texas Tennis Open just before she came to New York. She had straight-set wins in the first and third rounds, and received a second-round walkover from Venus Williams.

Lisicki is a flashy player who tends to live by her serve, forehand and drop shot. When she's good, she's very, very good, and she wins with such seeming ease that you wonder how she did it. But Lisicki has also had an abundance of illness and injury issues, and it's taken her a long time to get back to her 2009 form. While trying to get to that form, she fell victim to the double-fault syndrome.

Zvonareva doesn't have Lisicki's serve, but her serve is not a problem, either. She has a formidable backhand, which should make for an interesting contrast to her opponent's forehand. And when it comes to injury and setbacks, the Russian is a true veteran--she's been there. Zvonareva does everything well, and she has beaten Lisicki in all three of their prior matches. One of those matches took place in the second round of last year's U.S. Open. Zvonareva also defeated Lisicki at the 2011 French Open, and in this summer's Carlsbad tournament.

Azarenka out of U.S. Open

When Serena Williams was given the 28th seed at the U.S. Open, it meant that someone important in the draw was going to run into her in the first week. That "someone" turned out to be 4th seed Victoria Azarenka, and today's third round match guaranteed that one of the two stars would be leaving New York early. Not surprisingly, it's Azarenka who is out of the tournament, but the story is a bit more interesting than the headline.

In the first set, Williams could do no wrong. Her serves and her returns looked so effortlessly struck and were so on-target--if you didn't know better--you would have thought that Azarenka was just some random soul whose luck was bad enough to get her blasted out of the tournament by the tour's greatest player. Azarenka didn't win a game in that set, but I had a feeling the second set would be different. Azarenka is no random bit part player, and anyway, no one--not even Serena Williams--can maintain that high a level for more than one set.

The 4th seed came into the second set a different player, and Williams--though she still looked great--became just the tiniest bit vulnerable. A tiny bit was all Azarenka needed. She began to put more on her first serve, and she also went for more on the defensive side. If Azarenka had a better second serve, there most likely would have been a third set. At 3-5 in the second set, the 4th seed saved three match points on her own serve. In the next game, she saved another match point, and she broke Williams when she caught a netcord ball and passed Williams with her return.

The set went to a tiebreak, which Williams won 7-5. Of course, it had to be a difficult loss for Azarenka, but the good part is that she fought so hard in the second set, and she made Williams really work for the victory. It was a high quality set, very exciting, and worth the publicity that preceded it.

Schiavone comes back from the brink

I miss Thrill Ride, but while she's off the tour, Francesca Schiavone is doing a more than adequate job of taking on her role. In what has become her usual fashion, the fighting Italian made a huge comeback today in the third round of the U.S. Open. Schiavone had trouble breathing, she had trouble hitting the ball, and she had trouble with Chanelle Scheepers, a savvy opponent who served for the match at 7-5, 5-4. Scheepers got a bit tight at the big moment, however, throwing in a double fault. Schiavone broke her (you knew she would), and then took control of the rest of the match, winning it 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

At the end of the second set, the 7th seed received treatment for her pain. She was advised by the trainer to breathe more openly in order to avoid further muscle injury. She returned fresh for the last set and looked much more like the Schiavone who thrills the crowds. The bad news is that it took her just under three hours to get the job done.

Another player dealing with injury, Andrea Petkovic, survived to dance again at the end of her match against 18th seed Roberta Vinci. The 10th seed said after the match that she put extra spin on the ball to frustrate Vinci. It worked; Dance Party won 6-4, 6-0.         

And then there was Vania King, who had some problems with her thigh during her match against top seed Caroline Wozniacki. She also made 39 unforced errors, and was defeated 6-2, 6-4. 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 15th, defeated Akgul Amanmuradova in 6-4. 6-2, and Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-0, 6-4.

17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who had beaten Jelena Jankovic both times they had competed, scored victory number three today when she defeated the 11th seed 6-4, 6-4. Jankovic looked sluggish and a little lost on the court, and was bested by Pavlyuchenkova's precise shot-making. In a first set game, Jankovic failed to convert five break points, and that game pretty much summed up how much the 11th seed was struggling to get anything going in this match.

And finally, the impressive run of Sloane Stephens came to an end when she came up against a rather in-form Ana Ivanovic in the women's night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. I hope that Stephens gets her hands on a copy of the Tennis Channel coverage because commentator Martina Navratilova did a really good job of deconstructing the young player's game and suggesting tweaks and additions. The 16th seed was rather shaky with her ball toss tonight, but she played well, and she defeated Stephens 6-3, 6-4. Ivanovic will have to get her serve under better control, however, if she has any hope of competing against Serena Williams in the next round.

U.S. Open--what they said

Two points in a row for Azarenka must feel like a moral victory.
Virginia Wade

I used to play well until a certain point, and then just, well, didn't take my chances at all. Now this year with all the experience of the tough matches and all these close key moments that I went through, I'm just calmer. I know what to do in the important moments. Not always. Still happens to me, but I think that happens to everybody. I just have more margin in my game. I play a little bit more spin and I play a little bit safer so then when you get nervous it doesn't affect your game that much. 
Andrea Petkovic

Against Scheepers Saturday, Schiavone almost lost the match, but she never lost hope.
Geoff MacDonald

I think I played really well [in the first set]. I probably should have kept doing those things. If I was in a zone, it didn't last long.
Serena Williams

Now, we all know Caroline also had trouble even reaching finals. What are your thoughts about that frame of mind, that it's not a real number 1?

I don't think as a player you should worry about what people say. You know, you're out there competing your hardest and your best. I mean, I can't comment on her, what she feels. I don't think you should worry about what people say.
With all due respect, I was asking you what your thoughts were on that mindset.
Well, I don't care what people say about me, so why should I care what people say about her?
Vania King

What is the best advice you get from your mysterious new coach?
Move your feet.
Caroline Wozniacki

You seem to specialize in playing long matches.
No, you say that, not me.
Francesca Schiavone

The groundstrokes for Azarenka are the same as Serena's--if you take away the problem of the serve and the returns.
Virginia Wade

I think I am one of the fittest players on tour. I work really hard and I practice a lot. If I know that I'm tired, I know that the other one is probably almost dying.
Andrea Petkovic

Top two mixed doubles seeds upset at U.S. Open

Katarina Srebotnik and Daniel Nestor, seeded 2nd in mixed doubles at the U.S. Open, went out in the round today to Irina Falconi and Steve Johnson of the USA. Falconi and Johnson defeated the 2nd seeds 6-4, 3-6, 10-8.

It was a team from the USA that took out the top seeds, also. Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock defeated their countrywoman and -man, Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.

All the seeds in women's doubles won their matches today. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Vera Zvonareva gave a walkover to 5th seeds Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Unseeded team advances to 3rd round of U.S. Open

All of the seeded teams won their matches at the U.S. Open today, but there's also an unseeded team worth mentioning. 17-year-old Jessica Pegula and 15-year-old Taylor Townsend, both from the USA, defeated Jelena Jankovic and Liga Dekmeijere 6-3, 6-3 today in the second round. Pegula and Townsend hardly know each other, and were not scheduled to play together. But when Krista Hardebeck left New York after failing to qualify for the singles draw, Pegula was left without a partner; Townsend then stepped in.

The team's first round victory was perhaps even more impressive: On Wednesday, Pegula and Townsend defeated Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska. In the third round, they will play 3rd seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. King and Shvedova won the U.S. Open in 2010.

U.S. Open--what they said

...I'm enjoying playing tough matches, but then those tough moments, I really feel like that's where I'm able to produce my best tennis.
Vera Zvonareva

We're just laughing on court half the time. There's no pressure or expectations on us when we go out there.
Jessica Pegula

When she double faulted to begin the final--  
I was happy.
How much confidence did you take from that?
Well, not too much confidence, but I was happy.
Flavia Pennetta

I just want to have the chance to use the challenge system!
Taylor Townsend

For me, if I want to go all the way, I have to beat anyone on my way. So it doesn't really matter, because, you know, there are so many tough opponents right now. You cannot just talk about Venus right now or Serena. There is Maria, there is Caroline, there is, I don't know, Francesca, there is, I don't know, so many. Just name them. I wish all of them to be playing. That creates a great competition, and in the end, whoever is going to win is going to be champion. I think that's great to see.
Vera Zvonareva

It's disappointing.  It's disappointing to lose in the middle of nowhere. It's disappointing to lose in New York. Losing isn't fun for anyone because we work to win. We don't work to try to lose. So when we're faced with a position where, you know, we can win and we didn't in the end, it's tough.  But it's all right.
Maria Sharapova

Obviously the volleys are getting better with me playing doubles. So I'm feeling more and more comfortable at the net.
Sabine Lisicki

Your coach...looked like he was having a heart attack at the end of that third set.
He's always having a heart attack with me. For him, it's normal.
Flavia Pennetta

Stosur advances to U.S. Open round of 16

It took her three sets, three hours and sixteen minutes, and five match points, but 9th seed Sam Stosur advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open tonight when she defeated 24th seed Nadia Petrova 7-6, 6-7, 7-5. This match had a bit of everything--pressure-induced errors, beautiful winners, frustration, humor--and lots of tension. The third set was possibly the best set of tennis seen at the Open so far.

Petrova played from behind throughout much of the match, but she saved two match points in the second set, and found her way to dictating play. The momentum swung a lot during the final set, and Petrova saved a third match point with a dramatic overhead, then saved another. It looked as though a third tiebreak was coming, but Stosur was simply too strong at the end, and she broke Petrova to finally bring an end to the proceedings.

Stosur's opponent in the round of 16 will be 25th seed Maria Kirilenko, who put on a show of her very best tennis tonight during the featured match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Kirilenko defeated home favorite Christina McHale 6-2, 6-3 with a combination of excellent serving, steady hitting and her graceful signature net play. When Kirilenko is in form, she can bring just about everything to a match, as she did tonight. She advances to the U.S. Open round of 16 for the first time in her career.

2nd seed Vera Zvonareva had a fairly smooth go of it for a set and a half this morning, but then Anabel Medina Garrigues saw and opening and took it. However, Zvonareva defeated the 30th seed 6-4, 7-5. She will play Sabine Lisicki in the next round. Lisicki ran over Irina Falconi, 6-0, 6-1, and  gave a stylish ending to the match with a drop shot. Lisicki will compete against Zvonareva in the round of 16. Last year, Zvonarea defeated the German player in the second round.

19th seed Julia Goerges hurt her back during her match against Peng Shuai. Peng beat her 6-4, 7-6, but the match will be remembered by spectators for Goerges' saving four match points at 5-6 in the second set. She could hardly twist her torso, but she fought with ferocity to stay in the match. 13th seed Peng's next opponent will be Flavia Pennetta.

There were two other matches today. Angelique Kerber defeated Alla Kudryavtseva 6-3, 6-1, and Monica Niculescu upset 27th seed Lucie Safarova 6-0, 6-1. This is a really surprising scoreline, and it's safe to say that the match was not what spectators were expecting. Niculescu had an average first serve speed of 72 mph, she made four unforced errors, and she hit five winners. Almost everything she did flummoxed Safarova. The Romanian player gave Safarova no chance to develop any rhythm, as she repeatedly hit shots that had Safarova scrambling forward. For her part, the Czech player hit five winners and made nineteen unforced errors. She never saw a break opportunity.

Niculescu will play Kerber in the next round.

Pennetta upsets Sharapova at U.S. Open

Flavia Pennetta's season wasn't too good after she injured her shoulder, but her performance at Wimbledon showed that she can still be fiercely competitive and quite creative on the court. Today, she brought her Queen of Fed Cup persona to Arthur Ashe Stadium and upset 3rd seed Maria Sharapova in the third round of the U.S. Open.

Sharapova made it easier for Pennetta. She made 60 unforced errors, and double-faulted twelve times. 

Pennetta went up 4-0 in the first set, but Sharapova broke her, then broke her again, to even the score. But then the 3rd seed had an error-filled game that gave Pennetta an opportunity to serve for the first set; the Italian took it on her first set point.

The second set was, in many ways, a mirror image of the first: Sharapova won three straight games, but then there were four consecutive breaks. Sharapova served for the set at 5-3 after Pennetta double-faulted twice in a row. Sharapova then won the set on her first set point.

The third set lasted exactly an hour, and it began with tension. Sharapova had three break point chances, but Pennetta held. Pennetta then broke the 3rd seed, but it didn't look like she would consolidate that break. Again, however, the Italian saved three break points. This was classic Fed Cup Flavia, but across the net was one of the biggest fighters on the tour, and serious tennis observers knew there was more to come. 

At 4-1, Pennetta got tight and lost her serve after she delivered a poorly-hit drop shot and followed it with a forehand error. Soon--and not surprisingly--it was 4-all. Serving at 4-5, however, Sharapova hit two consecutive double faults, and with Sharapova at 0-30, Pennetta hit a deadly forehand, then struck a backhand down the line to win the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Until today, Sharapova had won every three-set match she had played this season--twelve in all. Pennetta, seeded 26th at the tournament, has made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on two previous occasions. To get there again, she will have to defeat Peng Shuai, who won over Julia Goerges today.

Sharapova, who won the tournament in 2006, was upset in the third round the next year by Agnieszka Radwanska. She withdrew from the 2008 U.S. Open because of a shoulder injury, and in 2009, she was a third round victim of Melanie Oudin, who beat four notable Russians in a row. Sharapova made 60 unforced  errors in that match, also. Last year, Sharapova was defeated in the round of 16 by Caroline Wozniacki. 

Sharapova's  rotator cuff injury was not diagnosed in a timely manner, and she played for some time with an injured shoulder. She then had to undergo rehab twice, and--since her return to the tour--her once outstanding first and second serves have become problematic for her. As the accuracy of her serve has declined, so, it appears, has her confidence during matches, and she is now much more prone to make unforced errors, especially with her forehand. Earlier this season, she made it to the Wimbledon final, but was beaten in straight sets by Petra Kvitova. 

Passing shots

Forty years ago today, Chris Evert won her first U.S. Open match. She made it to the semifinals in that first tournament, and she would go on to win 101 more matches at the Open. Evert won the championship six times; four of those victories were consecutive.

When the new rankings are published, Sloane Stephens will be in the top 100 for the first time.

After Andy Roddick pointed out that it doesn't take a lot of mental agility to be a tennis commentator, Mary Joe Fernandez described Roddick as "somewhat disrespectful." I think perhaps "disrespectful" would be almost never pronouncing players' names correctly and sometimes pretending that one of the competitors on the court doesn't even exist.

Be sure to read Colette Lewis's preview of U.S. Open junior competition.

Venus Williams has enrolled at Indiana University East to study business.

Here is a short film that showcases photographer Dewey Nicks' year-long "Strong is Beautiful" (Silent is Sublime) campaign for the WTA. I have mixed feelings about the campaign, as I've mentioned before, but I think this film is worth watching for Kim Clijsters alone.

Friday cat blogging--Long night match edition

"I never got any answers"

Several years ago, a friend I hadn't seen in a while wrote to tell me she'd been sick for some time, but she had to go to many different doctors for months before she could get a diagnosis. In the first paragraph of her letter, she had described her symptoms, and it seemed pretty obvious to me what was wrong with her.

I reached the second paragraph, and discovered that I was right, and then I wondered: If I knew her diagnosis that quickly, why didn't all those doctors? My friend had a fairly common autoimmune disease, and autoimmune diseases affect mostly women.

"I'd go to doctors, but I never got any answers," Venus Williams told New York Times writer Karen Crouse yesterday, in an interview about her withdrawal from the U.S. Open. Williams has Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that has affected her for years. In the Times article, Crouse quotes Dr. Frederick Vivino, who says that: "Because they look a lot better than they feel, some of our patients have been told they're hypochrondriacs or they're depressed or they are experiencing these symptoms due to menopause, and they just accept that. That's why people go years before being treated for autoimmune diseases."

As a psychotherapist, I have heard this story many times. Some things never change. Autoimmune disorders and disorders that mimic autoimmune disorders affect women by the thousands, yet there is still a shortage of attention to symptoms and accuracy regarding diagnosis provided by medical professionals. It's the 21st Century, yet much of the time, when women are in pain, it's still assumed that the problem is "emotional."

Williams has suffered with swollen and painful joints, extreme fatigue, swollen hands, and respiratory difficulty for a long time. Considering the pain and discomfort she has lived with for so many years, it's no less than amazing that she has had an elite tennis career. She told Crouse that she has not had anything to help her "but my own will." That is one impressive will, but Williams--like so many other others with autoimmune diseases--should not have suffered alone for so long.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jankovic plays through back injury

Every once in a while, Jelena Jankovic's back goes out on her during a match. It happened today, while she played Jelena Dokic in the second round of the U.S. Open. Jankovic had treatment for the injury, but it was obvious that her movement was hampered. She also had some help from her opponent, who double-faulted fifteen times. Jankovic won in straight sets, and she has a day to get some rest and some more treatment, but the recurrence of the injury is troublesome.

It was a pity that there wasn't more of a crowd around to watch Francesca Schiavone this morning. The 7th seed put on a serving show, and defeated Mirjana Lucic 6-1, 6-1. Top seed Caroline Wozniacki very easily defeated Arantxa Rus in the night match, and 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Elena Baltacha. 31st seed Kaia Kanepi went out to Silvia Soler-Espinosa, and Carla Suarez Navarro (from whom we haven't heard in a while) defeated Simona Halep, the player who upset Li Na.

There was a big comeback today, too. Down a set and 0-3, Andrea Petkovic won seven straight games and eventually prevailed over Zheng Jie. It was a really good match, and it gave us even more evidence that Petkovic has made a lot of progress in the mental part of her tennis. She's dealing with a meniscus tear right now, and reports that--while the pain is occurring less frequently--it takes her by surprise and makes her afraid to move sometimes.