Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Andreescu and Bencic advance to U.S. Open semifinals

A very long time ago, when I was in the public relations profession, I had a very gifted boss who would often round us up at the last minute to work on projects, and there was usually a lot of pressure. I kind of thrived on the pressure for a while, but I didn't care for the direction my career was taking, so I left and started my own shop. Not long after I made this move, one of our clients called me and asked me to take over the account.

I protested that I didn't think I could because it was so chaotic and there was so much pressure involved. No, the client told me, it's really pretty easy--she made it that way. I accepted the invitation, and yes, it turned out to be pretty easy. That was when I realized that my former boss thrived on chaos, and wasn't happy unless she and everyone around her were working under intense pressure.

Watching Bianca Andreescu has made me think of this lesson from long ago. Andreescu is many things, and one of them is that she is a very impressive problem-solver. But I'm getting suspicious that she may need a problem in order to come alive and play her best tennis. She may even need to participate in creating a problem.

We know that she's injury-prone, which isn't a good sign. She also has quite an on-court temper, but that could (and probably will) subside as she gets older. For someone with as much talent and intuition as Andreescu possesses, she certainly brings with her a lot of complications.

Tonight, in her quarterfinal, she appeared flat in the first set, as her opponent, Elise Mertens masterfully took it, 6-3. It seemed almost inevitable, though, that the "problem" of losing the first set would ignite the young Canadian--and it did. She went on to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Earning a spot in the semifinals is pretty good for someone playing in her first U.S. Open.

I was thinking and talking about Dinara Safina today, so she is on my mind. On Women Who Serve, the Russian star was known by the nickname, "Thrill Ride" because she couldn't seem to win a match unless she had taken herself (and the rest of us) to the edge. Andreescu is hardly the bundle of nerves that Safina was, but she does have a touch of Thrill Ride in her, which I don't think it will serve her very well in the long run.

Earlier in the day, two close friends who are also former phenoms faced each other for a spot in the U.S. Open semifinals. Belinda  Bencic and Donna Vekic--who both had to take the long way around in order to begin to meet their often-touted potentials--did not disappoint. It was a well-played match, with both women serving well. Bencic won, 7-6, 6-3, but Vekic performed well.

Bencic is another one with a temper problem. I haven't seen much of her during the U.S. Open, but when I have seen her, I haven't noticed any episodes of anger. It isn't that episodes of anger are bad--but common sense informs us that they can be harmful if chronic because of the energy they drain from a player.

Here is the singles semifinal draw:

Belina Bencic (13) vs. Bianca Andreescu (15)
Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Serena Williams (8)

In doubles, Kuzmova and Sasnovich upset 3rd seeds Dabrowski and Xu. Also upset were 14th seeds Kichenok and Ostapenko, who were defeated by Dolehide and King.

Still alive in doubles is Elise Mertens, who--with partner Aryna Sabalenka--has advanced to the semifinals. Mertens and Sabalenka are seeded 4th.

In mixed doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray have advanced to the final (def. Stosur/Ram), in which they will play either top seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Michael Venus or 4th seeds Latisha Chan and Ivan Dodig.

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