Why There Has Been Carnage In The Wimbledon Women’s Draw - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Comments

Why There Has Been Carnage In The Wimbledon Women’s Draw

The early exits of nine of the top ten Ladies’ seeds make more sense when you look at the reasons why.

Avatar

Published

on

zimbio.com

Ever since Serena William’s long spell of dominance in women’s tennis ended, it has been difficult to predict who will win Grand Slam titles.

 

Many talented players have filled the void left by the American, but none of them have even come close to establishing a stranglehold at the top of the game.

And the fact is that there are so many excellent players around that it the WTA tour has become an almost ever-changing landscape where as many as 20 or 30 women are potential winners of every event.

Because of this, none of the top players can ever relax or have a bad day. If they do, they usually lose, and it has never been better illustrated than at Wimbledon 2018.

These are the key reasons why nine of the top ten seeds were knocked in the first week:

Preparation

Sloane Stephens is the 2017 US Open champion and a high-class tennis player. However, she arrived in London three days before Wimbledon started having not practiced on grass at all.

When you consider that woefully inadequate preparation, her straight-sets loss to Donna Vekic in the first round suddenly seems unsurprising.

Mentality

zimbio.com

Simona Halep achieved her life-long goal of winning a Grand Slam tournament in Paris last month. That success followed good runs to the final in Rome and the quarter-final in Madrid.

Those exertions clearly took a lot out of her because, after her shock loss to Su-Wei Hsieh in the third round, she said: “I was too tired. I have pain everywhere.”

It is nothing new for a professional tennis player to be in pain as they have a punishing schedule. However, it seems entirely possible that Halep’s motivation was not as strong as usual because she recently fulfilled her biggest ambition.

That probably made her less inclined to play on through the pain and, whether she was aware of it or not, it probably also dulled her competitive spirit a bit. And we all know small margins can be crucial in top-level sport.

Madison Keys is a very different case. When she walked out onto Court 12 to face Evgeniya Rodina in the third round, everything was set up for her to go on and claim her first Grand Slam title.

Seeds were tumbling all around her, she had a chance to take on an under-cooked Serena in the fourth round and she loves playing on grass.

Bizarrely, the sense of opportunity seems to be what got the better of the American. “I wasn’t thinking about my match right now in that moment,” Keys said after her shock loss.

“I literally could have played anyone in the next round, but the fact that I felt my mind go there made it really hard to play really well, be super focused and find my timing in the middle of a match.”

On the plus side, Keys now knows what she has to do to try and prevent a repeat and she is willing to do it.

Strong Opposition

zimbio.com

It is so much easier to be a man in tennis because you are very unlikely to face a player of the calibre of Ekaterina Makarova in the second round of a major.

The Russian was once the World No.8 and has reached two Grand Slam semi-finals. She has a lot of tennis ability and she showed plenty of it in her win over Caroline Wozniacki.

The Dane prepared perfectly for Wimbledon by winning Eastbourne, but after losing she admitted, “Today I played someone who played extremely well.”

Sometimes it is that simple, and something similar happened to Petra Kvitova. The Czech, who was the favourite for the event after glory in Birmingham, lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who turned up on Centre Court feeling inspired and suddenly produced the best tennis of her career.

Garbine Muguruza will surely sympathise with Kvitova and Wozniacki. She lost to Alison Van Uytvanck, who has never been inside the World’s Top 40 but played like a Top 20 player.

“I just think it’s a very tough match,” the Spaniard said. “I think she was playing really well. So it was a little bit tough for me to have an opponent that is having a great day.”

Importantly, all three of these giant-killers have backed up their famous wins and are now preparing for fourth-round matches. This demonstrates they have the ability to be successful – they just need to learn to produce it more frequently.

Caroline Garcia received possibly the most difficult unseeded first-round opponent of all: Belinda Bencic.

The Swiss player reached World No.7 before a series of injuries got in the way of her career, but she looks to be on the way back now.

Bencic looked sharp against Garcia and, although the Spaniard could have played better, sometimes players just have to accept that they have been outplayed.

Venus Williams’ defeat is probably the most understandable as she lost to 20th seed Kiki Bertens. It was a very close match that the Dutchwoman just about shaded – and hardly an upset at all.

Grass Court Specialists

zimbio.com

There is another key reason why Stephens lost early at Wimbledon. Her first round opponent, Donna Vekic, is arguably one of the most talented young players on tour and, crucially, she loves grass.

The Croatian reached the final in Birmingham when she was just 16 and then won the event in Nottingham in 2017, before backing that result up with a run to the last eight this year.

Vekic is also a more mature player now. Where she once tried to hit winners from the baseline all the time, she now constructs points intelligently and is willing to defend and wait for the right moment to attack.

Like Makarova, Sasnovich and Van Uytvanck, the World No.55 has backed up her big win by making it to the fourth round. And she is definitely capable of beating last-16 opponent Julia Goerges, so she could go deep into the tournament this year.

Although she reached the fourth round last year, no-one talks much about Elina Svitolina as a contender for Wimbledon.

That is because the Ukrainian still looks uncomfortable on grass. She thrives on hard courts and clay courts where the bounce is predictable, but often looks lost when she ball skids low at venues like Birmingham.

This year, Svitolina was handed a tricky first-round tie with Mallorca winner Tatjana Maria. She competed well in the first two sets, which were shared, but fell apart in the decider against an opponent who played more consistently on the day.

The Ladies’ Singles at Wimbledon 2018 is Still Exciting

zimbio.com

As one Daily Mail writer put it, “There’s a school of thought that the ongoing obliteration of seeds from the women’s draw has lessened its appeal.”

However, it is unlikely that those who watch the last-16 matches at Wimbledon this year will be disappointed with what they see as there are exciting match-ups everywhere.

In the top half of the draw, Halep’s unpredictable conqueror Hsieh takes on fearsome fighter Dominika Cibulkova, big-hitting 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko faces Sasnovich, endlessly-inventive Daria Kasatkina meets Van Uytvanck and two-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber plays against Bencic.

In the bottom half of the draw, highest-seed-remaining Karolina Pliskova continues her quest for her first Grand Slam title against Bertens, big-server Goerges faces Vekic and aggressive Italian Camila Giorgi takes on Makarova.

All of which leaves just one match that is likely to be boring: Serena versus Rodina. The Russian is the World No.120 and should have been thrashed by Keys, so the 23-time Grand Slam champion will be expected to succeed where her fellow American failed.

[Also published on womenssporthub.com]

Comments

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.

Avatar

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Comments

Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

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

Avatar

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Comments

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

Avatar

Published

on

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending