Sunday, September 1, 2013

Crazy from the heat

Detail of building near Morningside Heights, New York City
Sloane Stephens predicted that her U.S. Open round of 16 match against Serena Williams would be "epic." It wasn't, but the one between Angelique Kerber and Carla Suarez Navarro was. In fact, I had trouble taking my eyes off of it. Talk about a match having everything! The first two sets were so seesaw in nature, it was hard to believe. Rise, slump, rise, slump. The opponents each won clusters of games, then lost clusters of games. Kerber took the first set 6-4 and Suarez Navarro took the second set 6-3.

Consider the personalities involved. No one gets down on herself quite like Kerber, and few can choke big matches away quite like the Spaniard. The final set, postponed after a break--the extreme heat permitted the players to take a ten-minute rest--was so physical in nature that I think I burned a few hundred calories just watching it. Kerber looked like she was going to drop. Yet still, I thought she would win because I didn't think Suarez Navarro had the mental toughness to close.

But she did. She also did some fine, and very tricky, serving. Kerber, gathering all the strength she could, broke Suarez Navarro at love when the Spanish player served for the match at 5-4. "There it is," I thought. "The end has come for Carla." But the next thing I knew, the players were in a tiebreak, and--after working so hard to keep things even--Kerber blinked. Repeatedly. The final insult came when the German's superior forehand up the line fired past the baseline on match point.

They played for 2 hours and 41 minutes and, between them, they made 97 unforced errors. They also hit 75 winners, with 45 of those coming off of Suarez Navarro's racket. Suarez Navarro's celebration was kind of intense. However, this was her first time to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, and her next opponent will be Serena Williams, so why not?

Williams had a fight on her hands in her first set against Stephens. She won that fight 6-4, then won the second set 6-1. In the end, it was a routine win for Williams, though if Stephens had kept up her first set mode of play, it would certainly have been more interesting. More interesting, yes--but I don't think the result would have been different.


sunny nine said...

I was watching both. We have a tiny apt and our computer is a few steps away from the TV. I liked the Kerber/Suarez Navarro match also. I thought the Spaniard would take it though-it reminded me a bit of Kerber getting herself out scrapes w Bouchard. I just didn't think she would pull it off again. I enjoyed Suarez Navarro's celebration. I want someone like that, that pumped, to go up against Serena for hopefully a good match.

The hyped match? So many times I heard myself saying to Stephens-Haven't you watched any tapes of S.Williams? Stephens just looked lost sometimes and relied heavily on the rocket forehand. There really wasn't any nuance to her game. Stephens is still learning but the media has hyped her so much that she is not getting time to grow in her game. She needs to do more on the tour. Stephens doesn't seem to get up for those tournaments. She has yet to be in any final on the WTA tour. And only about 3 international semis in her career.

Diane said...

I think Sloane is a really good athlete, but she still has some maturing to do. In fact, she seems less mature than some of the other players in her age group. But the potential is definitely there.