Whew, what a day. From Flavia Pennetta playing some of the most inspired tennis I have ever seen in a 6-1 first set takedown of No. 9 seed, Angelique Kerber, to Ana Ivanovic returning Serena’s serve as if it was nothing, to finally seeing breakout star Eugenie Bouchard coming into her own and making the quarter finals of a Grand Slam to Li Na finally showing us what she can do when the end is in sight, Day 7 saw some epic matches on the women’s side.
However, the greatness of the matches have been overshadowed by players and media who have done the usual schtick by not focusing on what is important in women’s tennis, i.e. the tennis.
Ana Ivanovic played a magnificent match yesterday. For someone who has always been mentally fragile, for her to hold her nerve and serve out a match against Serena Williams shows where her mentality and indeed her game is at. I made mention on Twitter that I found it wonderful that she is having her best season in a long time with a coach that I had to research when I first heard his name.
Credit also to Serena Williams who gave a master class of a press conference after her defeat. She was professional, complimentary and ensured that even though she was carrying an obvious injury, that was not the take away from the match.
Flavia Pennetta, 31 years young is into her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. She played magnfiicent tennis yesterday in taking out Kerber. Putting the disappointment of serving for the match out of her head, Pennetta would regroup and with some real laser like forehands and backhands she had Kerber all over the court.
Of all the young players, I have always like Bouchard and Keys. I have always felt that the way they carry themselves on court said a lot about where they were mentally. You could see it in their eyes and body language that they were not out there to be cute. They wanted to win. They wanted the adulation. They are never satisfied with just reaching a semifinal or round of 16 at a Major. They both wanted more.
There is lots of room for improvement in her game but I think rather than constantly harping on the lack of movement, foot speed, forehand, backhands and serve, we should really focus on her mentality. I think we became so accustomed to players accomplishing so much in their teenage years that we expect a player to have a full arsenal of shots by the time they are 20 years old. We can’t all be Serena Williams at age 19 or 20.
Today’s matches features the final 8 matches from the bottom of the draw and there are some blockbusters on paper which I am hopeful will turn into blockbusters on the court. Ace’s picks are in brackets)
First up is Jankovic v Halep (Jankovic). Last year’s winner of the Most Improved Player and winner of 6 WTA title goes up against Jelena Jankovic, former No. 1 and 2008 USO finalist. Jankovic has been making great improvements since last year and even though those results have not been rewarded with any big titles, I agree with Ace that Jankovic should come through here. However, don’t be surprised if there is an upset and Halep makes her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
No. 3 seed and former champion here Maria Sharapova (Cibulkova) goes up against Dominka Cibulkova who annihilated Carla Suarez-Navarro in the previous round. This should be a blockbuster as if there is one player who is not intimidated by the top women it is Cibulkova. She not only believes she belongs in the top tier of women’s tennis, she plays like it. Looks for lots of breaks of serve as Cibulkova plays an extremely aggressive game. Lots of come ons and Pome’s in this one.
No. 5 seed Radwanska goes up against young up and comer Muguruza. I agree with Ace that this one could be the match of the day in the same way that Muguruza’s match against Wozniacki was so good. Radwanska pulled out a tough 3 setter in her previous round as her opponent succumbed to the heat. I think Muguruza will take this one in 3 tough sets.
This is the rematch that most tennis media who want validation for their views last year. Victoria Azarenka is the No. 2 seed and 2 time defending champion. She is steady, consistent, powerful off the ground and in my view the best returner on Tour especially when it comes to placing the ball in really uncomfortable positions. Sloane Stephens is again caught up in another Mean Girl controversy of her own making. As most people know my view is that Stephens did not have a chance to win that match last year and I am with Ace, I think Azarenka is willing to show that last year’s win was no fluke. Look for the World No. 2 to come out focused and determined to make a statement at this stage of the tournament (Azarenka).
THIS AND THAT
Sloane Stephens was shown on video either celebrating Ivanovic’s win over Serena or Serena loss to Ivanovic. Either way, she does not come across as looking very professional. I don’t care that Channel 7 have issued a rebuttal as to her behaviour. Even if she was mocking the celebration of Ivanovic’s team, it was still in poor taste, as was her comments about meeting her new coach Paul Annacone.
Doug Robson wrote an article about the never ending story of the women of the WTA not being friendly. I would tell Mr. Robson to take a look at a doubles draw at any WTA event and he will see that the majority of the doubles pairings are filled with women from different countries, speaking different languages, coming together to work together. In order to become a successful doubles team it is important for both players to not only be able to communicate but have some amount of regard for each other. In this sense, I think what the women are showing by teaming up with each other to work together shows a lot more than what the men do when they go to the net hug each other, and talk out of both sides of their mouths about the respect that they have for each other.
I don’t see the men going on vacation together and there are countless pictures of the women being seen out and about together all the time, even so far as going on vacation together.
Frankly, why is there this constant harping on whether the women are friendly or not. I don’t see Djokovic and Nadal teaming up for doubles, except when they were probably forced to do so. I don’t see Federer inviting Andy Murray over for chocolate and fine wine. There is no need for the women to be overly friendly to each other and this notion that there is a lack of friendliness on the women’s tour needs to stop.