Monday, September 5, 2022

About last night

Both Caroline Garcia and Coco Gauff won their round of 16 matches yesterday in fairly straightforward fashion, though Gauff got quite a challenge from Zhang Shuai. Not so the for the night matches, in which Ajla Tomljanovic and Ons Jabeur took the scenic--and by "scenic," I mean "crazy curves over cliffs with potential rock slide activity"--route.

Liudmila Samsonova, arguably the hottest competitor on the tour right now, stepped onto Louis Armstrong Stadium on a 13-match win streak. She went up 5-2 in the first round, looking for all the world like she was headed for number 14, but then things went wrong. One of the things that went wrong was that Samsonova's already-fragile knee became more fragile as the match wore on. The Russian player looked tired, and she made repeated unforced error,

The other thing that went wrong for Samsonova was that her opponent played better as the match progressed. Tomljanovic won the first set in a 10-8 tiebreak--after "pulling a Serena" and saving eight set points in the ninth game, which lasted 18 minutes and featured 12 deuce points. By the second set, Samsonova was a mere shadow of herself, and Tomljanovic took that set 6-1. 

Then there was Ons Jabeur, who had to face her nemesis, Veronika Kudermetova, whom she had never defeated. Kudermetova is a double threat: She hits the ball flat and very hard, but she's also an excellent doubles player, so she has exceptional net skills. 

Once again, the perhaps-favored player, Kudermetova, led 5-2 in the first set. Jabeur looked somewhat tentative, remaining on the baseline (which isn't where she does her best work), but then some switch got turned on, and Jabeur began to work her special magic against the Russian. Jabeur took the set to a tiebreak, in which she all but ran over (7-1) Kudermetova, then she won the second set 6-4.

Now Tomljanovic and Jabeur will meet in the quarterfinals, and we'll see what kind of route they decide to take.

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