Friday, October 18, 2013

Once is not enough

Stefanie Voegele is having a good season. She was aggressive and creative in beating Caroline Wozniacki in Charleston, and suddenly, she has beaten Sloane Stephens twice in a row. Today, Voegele beat 2nd seed Stephens 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the Luxembourg quarterfinals; a week ago, she beat the world number 12 in Linz, also in the quarterfinals. In both matches, Voegele won five straight games in the final set to get the victory.

What's going on with Sloane Stephens? Well, first, Voegele has finally started to put all of that long-time-coming potential together. But the other side of the equation is that Stephens just doesn't seem to have any spark. She goes for big, showy shots, but then backs away when consistency is called for, and the errors add up quickly. In other words, she doesn't appear to want to work the points.

Even Stephens' negativity lacks fire. I admit to sometimes "enjoying" an Angelique Kerber tantrum or a Victoria Azarenka meltdown. But Kerber and Azarenka have a passion that fuels their on-court antics; with Stephens, there just seems to be a lack of emotional energy.

Oh, and a commentator inadvertently referred to Stephens as "Williams." I'll let that speak for itself.

Stephens, by the way, is now officially an alternate in the WTA Championships, which begin next week in Istanbul.

Voegele's opponent in the semifinals will be Annika Beck, who saved a match point and beat Katarzyna Piter (I think we'll see more of her) 6-3, 6-7, 7-6. It took Beck 3 hours and 12 minutes to pull that off.

In the other semifinal match, Caroline Wozniacki will play Sabine Lisicki. In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki defeated Bojana Jovanovski, and Lisicki defeated Karin Knapp.

The Luxembourg draw was an interesting one, and there has been a lot of exciting competition. It's a nice end-of-season treat to see the likes of Voegele, Beck and Jovanovski doing so well.

In Moscow, Sam Stosur beat Ana Ivanovic, and will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals. Kuznetsova defeated number 2 seed (number 1 seed Angelique Kerber withdrew from the tournament) Roberta Vinci. In the other semifinal, Simona Halep will face off against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Halep and Pavlyuchenkova beat Alisa Kleybanova (making a nice comeback) and Daniela Hantuchova, respectively.

Pavlyuchenkova lost in the Moscow first round seven years in a row, so her fortunes have changed considerably. Pavlyuchenkova lost to Halep recently in Tokyo.

Both top-seeded doubles teams were upset today in Moscow. Kristina Barrois and Laura Thorpe beat number 1 seeds Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. Polona Hercog and Lisa Raymond defeated 2nd seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Katarzyna Piter 7-6, 6-7, 10-8.


Unknown said...

Nice Write up. and I agree with your assessment of Sloane Stephens. Let us see how she goes about in the next year, will be interesting to see it.
As for Pavlyuchenkova, I guess she lost 5 times in the first round of Kremlin Cup.

Diane said...

Thanks, Omair. There seems to be a maturity problem with Stephens. She went from being the next potential USA star to actually being the next USA star--only the results don't reflect the hype. Too much too soon? Or just someone who hasn't learned how hard you have to work on the big girl tour?

Doug said...

Sloane believed the hype. She appears to be confused about not having the doors to the palace opened for her without having to earn the right to enter. Methinks that there's narcissism at work. It's not a pretty picture. I hope that she'll overcome her problems. The big girl tour is tough. By way of contrast, a not-hyped-at-all kid is tearing it up. It's little Simona Halep, a brave and very bright player, who moves better than anybody else and who truly knows how to build a point. GO SIMONA!

Diane said...

I'm trying to think the best of Sloane and not read too much into it, but it's hard not to believe that she's looking for a shortcut. In the words of our esteemed Australian Open champ: Good luck with that.

So many things come easy for Sloane, but in the post-Hingis era, that just doesn't cut it. Sloane is a really, really good doubles player, and I'd put back on the doubles court if I were in charge; let her be responsible for someone besides herself.

Anonymous said...

The word that comes to mind ré Sloan is 'petulant'.

Anonymous said...

If Simona were to win in Moscow, she will have equalled Serena's haul for the year so far: 5 titles. No majors though.

Unknown said...

Agreed Diane. You are spot on about the maturity problem with Stephens. She needs to learn to work hard , she has the necessary tools, she only needs to to learn how to use them effectively.

Let us see how she builds on her results of this year in the next year.

Bobby Skipsey said...

Serena has won ten. Nobody close, not even Simona.

Karen said...

If there was a little thought bubble over Sloane's head it would basically ask the question, why am I even out here with these minions. I always get the feeling that Sloane believes that she is too good for tennis. She is happiest when she is giving interviews and in the studio on tv and everyone is going crazy over her. When it comes to actually playing tennis she could care less. I think she has potential but if she does not work on her game she will be just another player with potential.