Sunday, September 11, 2016

US Open - final thoughts

First up, the ladies!

I am somewhat peeved, or maybe just disappointed, that I've read disparaging remarks in response to Kerber's ascent to WTA #1.  She is the Oz champ, Wimby finalist, and now also the USOpen champ.  Yes, she plays more than Serena, but is Kerber to blame for that?  Maybe the #1 should be the one willing to go out and test fitness and put up consistent results over the entire season, and not just some handpicked big ones.  On the other hand, when you've been playing as long as Serena and as dominant as her, I could see why she would not want to play all the tournaments.  But it comes at a price, and now we have a new, and IMO well deserved, #1 player.  Congrats Angie!

And she did it against a very tough, upcoming, and *impressive* player!  This tournament has been the first time I've really paid attention to Pliskova.  It is very easy to label her a baseline basher who will make a lot of great shots but also a lot of errors, but she proved herself to be much, much more.  Of special note are her hands around net...she was very willing to come forward and when she did, displayed very good feel.  Sure she's never going to have the defensive skills and movement of a Kerber or Halep, but she's got the goods and weapons to be at the top of the game.  Mentally she more than proved herself in her matches against Venus and Serena (when the crowd was so against her) as well as the final.  I'm excited!  Let's hope she continues this and we don't see a 'sophomore slump' next year.  (not that this year is over, but y'all know what I mean)

The men's final just wrapped up, but before that was a very fun, competitive women's dubs final, with Safarova/Mattek-Sands coming back from the literal edge of defeat to snatch the title away from French duo Mladenovic/Garcia.  The French duo did themselves in, IMO, with the lack of response and fight after the Mattek-Sands woke up and got her team back in the match with aggressive net play.  The absolute delight on the faces of Lucie and Bethanie after their win was almost as awesome as Bethanie's socks.  Almost.

And the men!  Whew!  One almost had to think, what with Nole's string of retirements along the way to the final, that he would be the fresher.  But the lack of matches costs a player too, because a player needs those matches to test themselves and build up confidence.  Much was made over commentary about how negative Nole's body language was, and how Stan had the crowd, and that was most definitely the case at the beginning of the match.  But the crowd also cheers for whoever they need to in order to see more tennis!  And at the end they were pretty even behind the two battling for the title.
Stan's win was well deserved, and his aggressive play and fight just wore Nole down, possibly literally wearing away the very skin from his toes!  It was an exciting match, but always hard to see the disappointment on the 'loser's' face at the end, especially after such a battle.  Evidently it was 143 to 144 points in the end.  So Stan won the big points at the right time.  Ahhh tennis, such a fickle game!

Hopefully all this tennis watching will bleed itself into my game somehow...personally I have 40+ Mid-Atlantic sectionals, 7.5 VA combo, and then the big one...18+ Nationals on the calendar.  Combo might get nixed though, even though its a favorite tournament in one of my favorite locations, due to not being able to take that FRI off of work and also having to work until 11:30...won't be driving down to VA Beach after work like I had originally hoped!  We shall see!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

US Open Thoughts, part 1

As I sat here, finally watching some US Open tennis (after a grueling week, not to mention a couple of years), I had some thoughts.  I shall share them now.

  • I had Nadal as a dark horse.  Not so much now.  He had been kind of under the radar (for him), especially after recent absences at Roland Garros and Wimby.  Its obvious his dominance is nearing its conclusion, and has been for awhile.  But why?  Is it the change of racquets?  Is there something else for the reason of the absences (which is always being whispered about in tennis circles)?  Has his style of play finally caught up with his body?  Or is he simply being passed by younger, stronger players who are not afraid to challenge him?
  • Krygios.  I agree with McEnroe.  Lots of other things to do, please top wasting court time.  Either get a coach and get serious, or get off the court.  I was never a fan, became less of one after his antics and comments on court to Wawrinka, less after his 'partnership' with Bouchard (and more on court shenanigans), less after he said he didn't even have a coach, and less more now.  Yup, I think I'm out.  
  • Oh Venus.  So nice to see her in the second week.  And so close against Pliskova!  
  • I had also given up on Monfils, much like I feel about Krygios.  Has he seen the light?  Is it too little too late?  Time will tell.  
  • Madison Keys.  It is time to buckle down and learn how to construct points and be patient.  Don't go for winners when you're stretched way out of the court.  Wozniacki was able to withstand the power and out think the young American, who remains such a promising star.  But she needs to learn strategy and how to use her wonderful weapons, or I do not think she will get any further than she is now.
  • Taylor Townsend.  Ok.  We get it.  You don't think you need to actually be in shape to play pro tennis and need to USTA.  Take a good luck around.  Do you see anyone else on the women's tour who looks like Townsend?  No.  And while she is unquestionable talented, talent will go only so far.  There are lots of talented players out there.  Talent combined with hard work and dedication is what gets players to the top.  Tick tock tick tock...time is running out. Body shaming?  I'm not sure it is.  She's supposedly a professional athlete.  And it IS an issue, as anyone who has seen her stand flat footed while her opponents hit past her will tell you.  Yeah she has weapons, but on this level, just about everyone does and that big forehand will come back to her.  Then what?
  • Wozniacki.  I like what I am seeing, even if she took out one of my favorites!  All around player, but able to step it up when she needs to (case in point, her match against Kutzy).  
  • Ana Konjuh!!!  Wow!  Just 19 years old, but plays an all around game, great serve, very willing to come to net, and while nobody would have blamed her for getting rattled serving out the match against Aga, especially after some bizarre feedback incident...she did not blink.  Loved watching her play and she, in my opinion, shows the most promise of all the young players.  Nice seeing Majoli in her camp too.  
Of course, on the women's side, it remains Serena's show.  Can anyone who is left threaten her?  Her next opponent, Halep (my favorite player right now, though she is also so frustrating sometimes!) has a chance, but Serena will look to attack the Romanian's serve.  Halep will not be able to have her usual ups and down against Serena.  Semi opponents would be either Konjuh or Pliskova, and Serena would be heavily favored against either. If the seeds hold, we will see another Kerber/Serena final, and as we know, Kerber can do it.  Though, will we see the same Kerber as we did in Australia?  Much has been reported about how she is mentally and physically tired at this point of the season, compared to Australia where just about everyone is fresher.  If she continues her form, I do not doubt that Wozniacki can and will take out Kerber if they meet in the semis.  Sevastova's run, I believe, will end against the Dane.  

As I write this, Monfils is up against Pouille, and is up a break in the third set.  Nole takes on Tsonga tonight, and Tsonga has been quietly winning.  If Nole has any arm issues and Tsonga is on his game, the Frenchman can certainly oust the #1 seed.  Down in the other half, I think it unlikely that Murray will not come through, though I think the delPo/Stan match will be the most entertaining of the men's quarters (with Nole/Tsonga second).  Most likely we will see Nole/Murray in the final, and I don't necessarily think it is a given for either player.  Delpo, if he keeps booming that FH, could certainly play a spoiler in there though.  So nice to see him playing at a hight level again, especially after so many surgeries and a lot of doubt if he'd be able to come back and compete at a high level at all again.