Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wimbledon day 6: Jankovic and Kvitova upset defending champion

Glitter on the mattress
Glitter on the highway
Glitter on the front porch...
The whole shack shimmies!
from  The B-52s' "Love Shack"

The whole shack, as in Wimbledon Centre Court, shimmied today when the Glitter Queen, aka Jelena Jankovic, aka JJ, aka Queen Chaos, masterfully defeated defending champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Let me be quick to add that Jankovic had plenty of help from Petra's evil twin, who made her appearance halfway through the match and never left the court (though Petra certainly did, during that seven-minute disappearing act).

It was a shock--and it wasn't. When Jankovic shows up to play, strange things tend to happen: Shots are hit from a legs-up--ass-down position, fans are called on to repair a sports bra, an earthquake commences and the stands shake, you know how it goes. Today, during the opening set, Scary Petra was present, and JJ's minutes looked numbered. But then the Serb raised her level and began to sweetly hit her trademark backhand down the line to great advantage. She was also serving well.

And Scary Petra disappeared, to be replaced by she who is sometimes known as P3tra, but whom I prefer to call the Evil Twin. Having lost the first set 3-6 and having gone down 2-4 in the second set, Jankovic won that second set 7-5. It took a long time for the third set to begin because of the above-referenced very long break taken by Kvitova. During those seven minutes, JJ hit the ball and chatted with fans because--she's JJ.

Kvitova started the final set in shaky fashion but then got back some of her service mojo, and things looked better for her. But then, at 4-all, with Jankovic serving, the defending champion did something so shockingly mindless--and I hate to say this--that it made me think of her dear friend Li Na and the costly mental vacation she took when she played Kim Clijsters in the 2011 U.S. Open final. The Czech star stopped play to challenge a call at 15-30--even though the instinctive crosscourt backhand she hit was obviously a winner. She was close to breaking Jankovic, but then she challenged, lost the challenge, and saw Jankovic hold for 5-4. 

We will never know what was going through Kvitova's mind when she did that, but it arguably cost her the match. There was something really wrong with Petra during the second half of the match. On ESPN, Chris Evert was quick to point out a chronically-repeated piece of misinformation--that Kvitova is troubled by heat. No, she has asthma and is troubled by humidity. That wasn't a problem today at Wimbledon, though. But something was. I always wonder whether Kvitova's lapses are at least partly a consequence of her left-handedness. Whatever it was about, it was painful to watch.

But not to take anything away from JJ, who played the best match she's played in a long time, on her least favorite surface. It's been five years since the Serb has advanced beyond the second round at Wimbledon. Her next challenge will be to play Agnieszka Radwanska, who--after having a terrible first half of the season--has very much found her winning ways at her favorite major. Radwanska defeated Casey Dellacqua in straight sets in today's third round.

Madison Keys defeated Tatjana Maria, Caroline Wozniacki easily defeated a flustered Camila Giorgi, Monical Niculescu beat Kristyna Pliskova, and Olga Govortsova defeated Magdelena Rybarikova. Thats right--Olga Govortsova has advanced to the second week of Wimbledon competition.

Garbine Muguruza, who runs hot and cold with such rapidity that I can't keep up, upset 10th seed Angelique Kerber 7-6 (14-12), 1-6, 6-2. That one surprised me. The one that didn't surprise me was Timea Bacsinszky's straight set win over Sabine Lisicki. Magic grass or not, the Queen of Mexico is a better, smarter player. 

In doubles, 3rd seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won their second round match against Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith, and 4th seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenvic defeated Monica Niculescu and Olga Savchuk.

Lucie Safarova and Coco Vandeweghe are the only players left in both singles and doubles. Lucie is going at it old school, just like she did at the French Open. She's also the last Czech standing. On Monday, she plays Vandeweghe for a spot in the quarterfinals.


Eric said...

Diane, Have you noticed that people are hating on Serena's dominance? i was thinking how Federer, even when he was at his obnoxious best, he was/is always loved.

I was trying to figure out if the ire was bc Serena-is-polarizing thing, or a woman thing, or a race thing... I mean I suppose Rafa never experienced the hate bc he has never totally dominated. Djoker is more similar in terms of domination...but he is still *respected*. I mean, maybe this is bc Serena (Goliath) beat Heather (David)... but seriously, I've heard so many negative comments about Serena/state of women's game/wish she'd lose already. Maybe it's all of the above.

I mean enjoy her skill while it lasts...bc like everything, it will fade/end, probably sooner than err one thinks.

Was it like this for Steffi? I mean Martina and Chris Evert balanced each other out... Steffi was utterly dominant...especially after The [horrible and unthinkable] Incident with Seles.


TOTALLY did not expect Kvitova to lose today. I thought she was going to steamroll some more.

Diane said...

I've actually been under the impression that Serena's dominance is more appreciated now than it used to be, but maybe I shield myself from the worst of it (I do try to stay away from Internet things that upset me a lot). But yes, she has a history of being polarizing, though not so much the last few years, since we got the "charm school" version (I liked the old version) of Serena. And I think that race will always be a factor.

For overt bigots, the only thing worse than a successful, large, black woman would be a successful, large, black, lesbian woman! But there is, of course, an unconscious cultural bigotry that always runs in the background. Remember that women's sports isn't taken seriously--only men's sports--so Serena's dominance may not be seen as the mind-boggling accomplishment that it is, but rather just a symbol for "those girls who play tennis." In that case, I'm sure people would much prefer a Sharapova or a Wozniacki (I say this with no disrespect whatever to Maria or Caroline--just making a point).

I saw a thread on some sports forum yesterday in which commenters were discussing how "gracious" Serena was toward Heather. "Oh, yes--she's always been so gracious," people said. I cracked up. For years, the main complaint against her was that she incapable of being gracious to her opponents! It just goes to show you--revisionist history is happening every moment. People remember nothing and do not relate anything to anything. Don't get me started.... :)

Diane said...

Ah, Eric, I forgot to address your other question, but the answer is "I don't know." During the Steffi-Monica era, I was involved only in watching the tennis and kind of took a break from attending to the culture of tennis. I think that, for me, anything after Chris and Martina may have been a letdown, or maybe I just didn't find Graf that compelling as a personality. As for Chris and Martina, the first was considered the sweetheart, and the second was that iron curtain lesbian who keeps beating our Chris! In the U.S., at least, I don't really remember much balance.

jwr said...

As to Eric's question, Martina Navratilova simplified it for me several years ago during a Tennis Channel commentary. I don't remember the match or the exact quote but the essence was this (and she was specifically relating it to how she and Evert were perceived vs. the way Roger and Rafa were then being perceived).

"When a woman dominates the tour it always proves how weak the tour is. When a man dominates the tour it always proves how great the man is."

I also remember that Bill McAtee basically bullied her into silence. The Narrative always has to be protected. Granted Serena's race (or, more accurately, the culture's abiding racial insanity) complicates things even further, but ALL dominant female champions, including Evert, have caught some degree of the same.

Diane said...

Thanks for reminding us of that quote, jwr. It says it all.