Sunday, January 20, 2019

Curiouser and curiouser......

 Off with their heads!

As WTA fans, we're used to upsets, especially at majors. But sometimes, things become so topsy-turvy, we have to stop, take a deep breath, and say "what was that?" The 2019 Australian Open is one of those times.

Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Last night, I took a short break from watching the Open so that I could relax with some hot suds. When I emerged, less than an hour later, 2nd seed and 2016 champion Angie Kerber had been blown out of the tournament by Danielle Collins. I had to look at the scoreboard several times. I suspected an illness or an injury. And then I learned what really happened--Collins simply walked onto the court with the full intention of obliterating the mighty Kerber. And then she did it--just like that. 

I watched the match this morning so that I could see for myself what happened. Interestingly, commentator Louise Pleming immediately gave a nod to Collins and hinted at a possible upset. In a word, Collins was--scary. She hit so flat, and she performed such seamless transitions, it's a wonder Kerber's head didn't spin.

It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards….

When I woke up this morning, I looked at the scoreboard and saw that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was serving for the match against 5th seed Sloane Stephens. Yesterday, I wrote "We're accustomed to seeing Pavlyuchenkova pull off a big win, but not two in a row. The Russian's next opponent will be 5th seed Sloane Stephens; can she do it again?"

Theoretically, I thought she could, given Stephens' tendency to do "Sloaney" things at majors. But Pavlyuchenkova, the Queen of Inconsistency, pulling off a series of big wins in a single tournament? It didn't seem possible. But she did it, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. The Russian, who was a teen star, has never been short on talent, but she has never had the kind of mental toughness and resolve that could make her an elite player. Now, at the age of 27--at least for now--Pavlyuchenkova looks like a real threat.

 You used to be much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.

Ash Barty's defeat of Maria Sharapova wasn't an upset. An upset would have taken place if Sharapova had won. But a match is about more than seeding and ranking. What made Sharapova's loss especially painful was the fact that--in her third round victory over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki--she had looked like herself. She was the powerful, determined Maria who dictates almost every part of the match, but who also knows how to work the net. 

In the round of 16, that all fell apart. Sharapova's service woes returned to haunt her, and she experienced something of a meltdown after winning the first set. Barty easily won the second set, and dominated the first half of the third set, but then Maria the fighter showed up, changing the scoreline from 0-4 to 4-all. The set became very tense, and--against a different opponent--Sharapova could well have emerged the winner. But Barty--whose game is a marvelous combination of what I call "real" tennis and crack serving--was too tough in the end. 

I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

It's easy to say that fans fell for the "hype" about Amanda Anisimova (I've already seen that on Twitter), but it isn't hype. Anisimova is the real thing if any young player is. She not only has exquisite tennis skills--she has poise one wouldn't expect from a 17-year-old. But when Good Petra (whom I prefer to call Real Petra) is in the house, no one stands a chance. And so far--fingers crossed--Real Petra Kvitova has been showing up with a vengeance in Melbourne. 

The Barking Czech hasn't dropped a set, and she's lost only 17 games in four rounds. She beat Anisimova 6-2, 6-1, which was undoubtedly quite a comedown for the teenager, but not a disaster. And not a surprise.

All quotations are from the works of Lewis Carroll.


jwr said...

This was probably the first time I saw Collins play. If I saw her before it made no impression whatsoever.

So my reaction to the entire match was: WHAT?...WHAT???

Adding her to my ever-growing "must watch" list.

Nondisposable Johnny

Diane said...

I'd seen her play a few times before and thought was a really good hitter, but I hadn't seen her put it together like she did against Angie. My goodness.

Anonymous said...

Some of us say there are 3 possible Petras. "Bad" Petra, who can lose to just about anybody because she isn't making many shots, "Good" Petra, who plays well and is tough to beat, and "Scary" Petra, who is in the zone and cannot be beat by anyone.

Diane said...

I like that, and have, in fact, often called that one "Scary Petra."