Venus Is The Captain Of The American Revolution - UBITENNIS
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Venus Is The Captain Of The American Revolution

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Venus Williams is leading a strong American charge at this year’s US Open. Venus, Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe are already in the semifinals, and Madison Keys could join them tonight. Sam Querrey wastes a big opportunity in the men’s tournament. Nadal and Federer are on a collision course.

NEW YORK, FLUSHING MEADOWS – The two first ladies’ quarterfinals ended with the identical score of 6-3,3-6,7-6 and the winners climbed back from 1-3 in the third and final set of both matches. On paper, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens were not the favorites at the beginning of their matches: Venus was trailing 1-4 in the head-to-head against Petra Kvitova and No. 83-ranked Stephens was up against No. 17-ranked Anastasija Sevastova.

 

This will be the ninth US Open semifinal for 37-year-old Williams, who looked almost on the verge of retirement when she was diagnosed with Sjogren syndrome 6 years ago. Venus, who won these championships in 2000 and 2001, hasn’t reached the semis since 2010. She was asked about what the difference is now compared to when she won the title in her early twenties: “In the early 2000s my health was perfect. What a wonderful thing to have. I was lucky that I could live those moments and today, well… I am still living my dream and it’s incredible,” Williams said in her post-match press conference.

2017 has been a magical year for the American legend. She reached two Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open losing to sister Serena and at Wimbledon where she was defeated by Muguruza. She also reached the fourth round at the French Open, where she lost to Timea Bacsinszky. She is now in the semifinals at her home Slam. The last time that she reached at least the semis at three Grand Slams in the same season was 15 years ago.

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Venus should be the favorite in the semifinal clash against Sloane, unless the fatigue eventually catches up with her after the intense 2 hours and 34 minutes battle against Kvitova. At the end of the day, Venus is 13 years older than her semifinal opponent.

Sloane has enjoyed an incredible summer, winning 13 of her last 15 matches and reaching three consecutive semifinals in big tournaments such as the Canadian Open, Cincinnati and now the US Open.
Stephens has recently come back to the tour after being sidelined with a foot injury for almost 11 months. This will be her second Grand Slam semifinal after the Australian Open four and half years ago.

Venus will probably be the crowd’s sentimental favorite during the final weekend. The crowd certainly pushed her through the quarterfinal thriller against Kvitova, who committed a crucial double fault – her eighth – on break-point at 3-3 in third set. Another double-fault gave Venus a match-point in the tie-breaker that decided the match. The spectators that populate Arthur Ashe Stadium are usually 95% white, but I think that the African-American presence will substantially grow in the stands for the Williams vs. Stephens encounter, which will be the first all-American semifinal at the US Open since 2002, when five of the eight quarterfinalists were from the United States. This year the Americans had four out of eight.

Kvitova played an extremely risky and powerful tennis in her match against Venus, striking plenty of forehand winners but also giving herself very little margin for error. Both players competed using more power than finesse.

In the third women’s quartefinal, which was played early on Wednesday, CoCo Vandeweghe of the United States defeated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in two close sets. 7-6,6-3 was the final score in CoCo’s favor. With this defeat, Pliskova loses the No. 1 ranking to Garbine Muguruza, who enjoyed a great run this summer by winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati.

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In the last women’s quarterfinal, Madison Keys will be the favorite against 32-year-old Kania Kanepi of Estonia, who, after emerging unscathed from the qualies and already winning four matches in the main draw, might already be satisfied with her US Open this year.

We could have four American players in the semifinals for the first time since 1981, when Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Barbara Potter and Martina Navratilova were the final four. It is fair to say that this year’s record would be even more significant for American tennis, as all of the four players were born and learned how to play the sport in the United States. Despite becoming an American citizen between the late 1970s and early 80s, Martina Navratilova has always been more Czech than American tennis-wise: She was taught the sport in Prague and competed for Czechoslovakia early in her professional career.

In the men’s tournament, Sam Querrey wasn’t able to keep the American dream alive, losing 7-6(5), 6-7(9), 6-3, 7-6(7) to Kevin Anderson of South Africa in 3 hours e 24 minutes. Anderson will be the big favorite in the semifinal match against Carreno Busta of Spain.

As for the remaining men’s quarterfinals, I think that Nadal will beat Rublev, who is still relatively immature as a player to impose himself against Rafa. Federer will be the favorite against Del Potro, who will probably be extremely fatigued after the quarterfinal battle against Thiem in the best match of the men’s tournament so far.
(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions –www.t-lglobal.com)

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Laver Back In the Conversation For Greatest Player?

Daniil Medvedev thwarted Djokovic’s Calendar Year Grand Slam ambitions and is ready to take over as the best in the game.

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Who’s the greatest player ever?

 

How about Rod Laver, the owner of two Calendar Grand Slams?

Or what about Rafa Nadal, the owner of 21 major singles titles (including Olympic Gold)?

Or what about 20-20-20-Laver?

HOW DOES 20-20-20-LAVER SOUND?

Since Novak Djokovic failed in his bid to win a Calendar Grand Slam on Sunday, I nominate the last of the three possibilities. 20-20-20-Laver sounds like a winner.

For Djokovic just to enter the conversation was a major achievement, and that was spurred by the Serbian’s bid for a Calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended that conversation on Sunday, at least for now, with his straight-set 4-4-4 dismantling of Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.

DISAPPOINTING YEAR FOR NOVAK

As 2021 turned out, it was a really disappointing year for Djokovic, even though he won the year’s first three Grand Slam events. Most players would be out celebrating if they won three Grand Slams in one year.

The loss to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics ended Novak’s Golden Grand Slam. And then Medvedev took care of the Calendar Grand Slam talk and the possibility of Djokovic breaking a 20-20-20 deadlock with Nadal and Roger Federer.

So, what’s next? I doubt that Novak is planning to skip the Australian Open in January. Even that one won’t be easy for Djokovic as a result of what has happened in late summer.

NO PICNIC DOWN UNDER FOR NOVAK

Djokovic has practically owned the Australian Open with nine titles in Melbourne, and eight of the last 11. But Medvedev and Zverev will be major obstacles for Djokovic in Melbourne, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Australian Open isn’t likely to be a picnic for Novak, even if Federer and Nadal skip the trip. If so, Federer and Nadal will be leaving the Australian Open in capable hands.

Things should start heating up by the quarterfinals Down Under.

By the way, Djokovic is 34 years old. That’s about the age Nadal started having trouble winning Grand Slams.

A DOMINANT VICTORY FOR THE RUSSIAN

Medvedev beat Djokovic at just about everything he tried on Sunday. Djokovic was never in the game on serving competition or powerful forehands.

Those areas belonged to the 25-year-old Russian.

And movement? On this day, Medvedev had a picnic. The 6-6 first-time Grand Slam winner was everywhere with his amazing quickness. Djokovic couldn’t put a dent in his baseline defense.

Medvedev even out-did Djokovic in the Serbian’s usually solid drop shot department, pinning  even more disappointment on Novak.

Novak even caused a ball girl to change directions during the match as he swung his racket near the surface in  frustration after losing a point. Later, he punished his racket by smashing it into the court and destroying it.

MEDVEDEV’S SERVE MADE THE DIFFERENCE

The key to the relatively easy win for Medvedev was his serve. He was a perfect 15-for-15 on first-serve points in the opening set.

Medvedev obviously had little trouble with his serve until he was ready to end the match. With Medvedev owning a match point at 5-2 in the third set, the crowd tried to help Djokovic. Only then when the crowd got into the act of trying to break Medvedev’s attention did he double-fault twice in a row before netting a forehand to give Djokovic the game.

But in the final game of the match, Medvedev was ready for the crowd attack, although he double-faulted another match point away before ending the match with a big serve out wide for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic managed only to hit the bottom of the net with his backhand return.

And suddenly, the tall Russian looks like the best player in the game.


James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

The British sensation shocked the tennis world – can she keep it up in the coming years?

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They played in the largest tennis stadium in the world.

 

They were teenagers. They achieved a dream early in their careers.

It just as easily could have been a junior championship a year earlier in their careers.

Only a few people would have been watching then. Such an event might not even have drawn newspaper coverage.

REAL LIFE NOW SETS IN

This meeting was much bigger and more important. The two participants would be $2.7 million richer between them before the day ended. They would become famous the world over, at least for now.

But this was Saturday, 9/11/21.

Real life now sets in. There probably are at least 100 other players in the world who are just as outstanding as Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. Yet, most of them will never be involved in a Grand Slam singles final.

NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN

What Raducanu and Fernandez accomplished will never be forgotten, always listed in tennis annals.

England will always be proud of its new Grand Slam champion. At long last, Virginia Wade has company.

And Canada will never forget its feisty Grand Slam runner-up.

They stood the test while other more touted and talented players buckled at the knees. High-ranked players crumbled at the thought of losing to a mere teenager.

Next time, that advantage probably won’t exist.

BRITISH 18-YEAR-OLD WAS THE STRONGER PLAYER

Raducanu and Fernandez played the final like the teenagers they are.

Raducanu came close to making it a one-sided result when she held match point twice with a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Fernandez did not give up on her left-handed game that Raducanu had conquered before in the junior ranks.

After losing both points and the game to make the match closer, Raducanu fought off a pair of break points in the next game before making good on her third match point for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The British 18-year-old generally outplayed the 19-year-old Fernandez most of the 111-minute final. Raducanu had more firepower on her serve and ground strokes.

RADUCANU A PERFECT 10

Raducanu played like a tour veteran, even if it was only her fourth tour-level event. It was her 10th straight win without dropping a set, counting her three wins in qualifying just to get into the main draw. No women’s qualifier before even had advanced to a Grand Slam final.

She has the game to win consistently on the tour, but probably not strong enough to challenge the Top 10 players and Grand Slam titlists right away. She’s now no longer under the radar. Everyone wants to beat a Grand Slam champion.

This may have been just a one-shot opening that Raducanu took full advantage of to win a Grand Slam title.  Just in case the road ahead gets bumpy, she might want to be thrifty with the $1.8 million payday.


James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Novak Djokovic Was Pushed To An Amazing Performance

Zverev fell just short of beating the world N.1, and now Medvedev is the last obstacle still standing on his path to a Calendar Year Grand Slam

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Novak Djokovic was simply amazing Friday night.

 

True, he made a few mistakes against Alexander Zverev, but not when they counted most.

Zverev also was superb, but his mistakes came when they counted really big.

For those reasons, Djokovic is getting ready to play for the unthinkable. No one had thought much about a Calendar Grand Slam until back in June when Djokovic shocked the tennis world with a victory over Rafa Nadal at the French Open.

By the time Wimbledon came around without Roger Federer and Nadal in the field, the odds were high that Djokovic actually could achieve a Calendar Grand Slam. And then he won Wimbledon and in the process turned the race for most Grand Slam titles into a 20-20-20 battle.

ZVEREV CAME CLOSE TO SPOILING THINGS

When Federer and Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open, all of Djokovic’s goals except a Golden Grand Slam when he lost to Zverev at the Olympics were in play.

Nearly two weeks later, Djokovic is one victory away from breaking out of the 20-20-20 deadlock as well as completing a rare Calendar Grand Slam.

Zverev pressed Djokovic into playing his very best to escape with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals. Only a cold start to the fifth set chilled Zverev’s hopes of spoiling Novak’s dreams.

Even after losing the first five games of the fifth set, Zverev still came close to making things interesting by winning the next two games and going to 30-30 in the eighth game.

MEDVEDEV HAS THE GAME TO WIN

Zverev’s improving game, and his big strokes and serves probably were enough to make Novak hope he won’t have to face Zverev’s hard balls again in January at the Australian Open.

That leaves only Daniil Medvedev between Djokovic and immortality.

Medvedev will have to be at his best to beat Novak. The slender 6-6 Russian can’t afford even a brief meltdown if he is to take Djokovic to the wire.

Medvedev appeared to be in awe of Djokovic when the two met in  this year’s Australian Open final.  Djokovic won that one easily in straight sets.

DANIIL IS DUE TO MAKE HIS MARK; IT’S HIS TIME

Medvedev’s game is a piece of work. He is completely unpredictable.

His whip forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. He backs it up with incredible movement.

It all depends on whether Medvedev can stick with Novak until the end. If Medvedev is still there, Novak likely will feel the heavy legs from his 214-minute bout with Zverev.

Not even Djokovic can out-move Medvedev. And the Russian’s uniquely quick serve has plenty of pop. He is due to win a Grand Slam.

But Medvedev will have to pull off a miracle against one of the smartest and slyest players tennis has ever seen if he is to win this U.S. Open.


James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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