As you may know, I like the sport of tennis. This has been a relatively new development for me, as I mainly started watching tennis while bored at college in the winter of 2016. I’ve studied up though, and I think it’s time to flex those sports-coveragey skills with a breakdown of the 2017 US Open. The keyword of the tournament is “bizarre”. It’s been weird, folks.
Instead of doing something normal, like write about Roger Federer, I am just going to cover every single match that has occurred at the US Open since Monday. That’s 192 matches. I have a take on every single one. That’s what a good memory will do to you. They are ranked in order of interest to me.
No. 3 Roger Federer def. Frances Tiafoe (4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4)
This was one for the ages. Roger Federer does not get pushed in the first round. That just doesn’t happen. I don’t need to break down stats for you, you already know Federer is on some godlike plane and that this was unexpected. We should talk about Frances Tiafoe.
Tiafoe has a great story and is a rising star, but Tiafoe’s play in this match will provide the main storyline for the men’s side of the tournament. The way Tiafoe bossed Roger Federer around the court in the first and fourth set with big groundstrokes and speed should be worrying to the legions of Federer fans out there. Federer has feasted on opponents who have just refused to go for anything this year. Wawrinka played conservatively at Indian Wells and parts of the Australian Open. Nadal was far too passive in all of his matches against Federer this year. Most players, from Bautista Agut to Mischa Zverev, have failed to make the aggressive approach against Federer work. The guys who we expect to push Federer are injured, and yet Tiafoe came along and nearly toppled the GOAT.
Tiafoe has not been having a very good summer at all. After his absolutely abysmal loss to Paolo Lorenzi in Montreal, I was not expecting much. He definitely rose to the occasion, but I’m not sure he will be a consistent ATP Tour player in the near future. I’d at least wait until he turns 20. For me, his biggest issue is that he seemingly allergic to closing out matches quickly. You saw in the Federer match how his level totally fell off in the second and third sets (Fed was playing great, but still, Tiafoe barely competed in the third). This was Tiafoe’s seventh deciding set loss of the summer. While this one was far more impressive, he still needs to gain the consistency to really beat down opponents in straight sets and without the lottery of tiebreaks to cement his position. But the athletic talent and groundstrokes are there. He needs a better second serve (don’t we all) and a 23-year-old’s decision making, but this match was a great showcase of his potential.
On the other side, Roger Federer has been almost untouchable this year, but when he has lost, it’s been through some absurdly bad performances under pressure. Against Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai, a player well outside the top 75, Federer failed to convert on serve at 5-3, failed to win the second set breaker (losing 9-7) and blew a 5-1 lead in the third set. Against Tommy Haas in Stuttgart, Federer also failed to serve out the match and lost despite having match points on serve.
For a while, Roger Federer was extraordinarily “unclutch” against top players. Federer squandering break points became something of a joke. In this match, Federer lost 4/5 break points to Tiafoe, which is not good. He likely won’t play that badly under pressure again (Fed actually has been the best player under pressure according to the ATP during this latest run), but he will have matches, like everyone, where he plays really, really badly under pressure. If that happens, and an opponent can keep up with Federer’s ground game like Tiafoe, there could be trouble ahead.
Denis Shapovalov def. No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-4, 6-4, 7-6 [7-3])
Shapovalov is something else, isn’t he? Those winners he cracked all over the couch brought me to my feet multiple times in my living room. My personal favorites were the two winners off short Tsonga returns he hit serving up 4-3 in the third set. He has the serve, he has good net skills and instincts, he has a killer forehand, and a killer one-handed backhand. He even played good tactical match against Tsonga, directing everything he could to Tsonga’s unreliable backhand. Go Canada!
Hitting to Tsonga’s backhand is an old trick, but you have to be actually good to pull it off. Denis Shapovalov is really, really good. It’s hard to imagine him losing Challenger matches to Peter Polansky and sets to Yuki Bhambri given what we’re seeing, but the bigger stage has just made him better. I think he’s become significantly more aggressive than he was in Challengers. Playing at the Rogers Cup with no pressure has apparently freed up his game. Shapovalov’s 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Daniel Medvedev on Monday was actually equally impressive. Shapovalov was not quite at his best, but he still beat another good youngster without any trouble. He was at his best against Tsonga, and it paid off.
Tsonga, on the other hand, doesn’t look right. I watched him defeat Marius Copil on Monday, and he was screaming at himself a lot, throwing in a lot of double faults and unforced errors, and generally looking uncomfortable on serve. Tsonga’s lost a lot of matches at the big tournaments this year (Renzo Olivo, Querrey, Mannarino etc.) and he’s definitely had a rough summer. He should probably take some time off and refocus before the final Masters swing, where he has a lot of points to defend.
Maria Sharapova def. No. 2 Simona Halep (6-4, 4-6, 6-3)
The blockbuster match of Monday night was really entertaining. As many have said, it felt like the final. I don’t have much to say about this one, though. Sharapova was back to her old self enough to take two sets. Maria should’ve just taken it in straights, but her general rustiness caused a massive five-game collapse after going up 4-1. That rustiness showed through again on Wednesday after a scratchy first set against Timea Babos. Sharapova did prevail 6-7, 6-4, 6-1, but I don’t think she’s going to win the tournament.
I could write a short novel on the trials and tribulations of Simona Halep, but for this article, I will just say that Sharapova is a terrible matchup for her.
Aleksandra Krunic def. No. 7 Johanna Konta (4-6, 6-3, 6-4)
Say what you want about Zverev, Wozniacki, or Kyrgios losing, Johanna Konta going out in the first round to Aleksandra Krunic on Grandstand was the biggest upset of the first three days. Konta really should’ve just broken Krunic on three break opportunities in the second set. Then, Konta fought back from losing serve early in the third, but, critically, failed to generate any pressure with Krunic serving at 15-30, 2-3 in the decider. Konta then gave away a break, and the match was over. Konta had gone 48-16 in the last calendar year, and she has been a lock to make deep runs at non-clay Grand Slams for a year now. A first round exit is massively disappointing, especially when she had a shot to become No. 1 in the world.
Krunic, somewhat surprisingly, knocked off Alja Tomljanovic 6-3, 6-2 in the Second Round on Wednesday. She’s playing well, and shown the capacity to get hot for a few matches or so. I think Krunic’ll come back down to earth against Goerges.
Borna Coric def. No. 4 Alexander Zverev (3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6)
I can’t get over how badly Alexander Zverev played in this tournament. Let’s start with his comfortable straight sets win over Darian King on Monday. Oh yeah, it was somehow far from comfortable, despite the fact he was playing Darian King. King is a decent Challenger player, but was making his Grand Slam debut at Ashe at nearly 10:00 p.m. Darian King should’ve won the first set against Zverev. He broke Zverev twice, but double-faulted with set point on serve in the breaker and also missed like 25 easy forehands which could’ve sealed him the set earlier.
Zverev was just unbelievably passive against Darian King, and he continued that against Borna Coric. I mean, seriously, if you’re going 1-of-11 on break chances, you have to try something different on the 11th time, right? Nope, Zverev just kept heaving backhands to the middle of the court, which Coric was able to get back easily. Zverev’s beatdown of Federer in Montreal was based on aggressive groundstrokes and excellent serving. None of that happened in New York. He looked tired in the fourth against Coric, simply hoping that Coric would make an error, despite the fact Coric’s entire game is based around not making any errors.
I firmly believe Zverev is a top-five player in best of three matches. In best of five, he’s probably outside the top 10 right now. He’s younger than I am by a month, so he has time to do some cardio and get better for the long haul, but gosh, this was a massive disappointment. Not a huge upset though, Brad Gilbert and others thought this could be very dangerous for A. Zverev.
Ekaterina Makarova def. No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki (6-2, 6-7, 6-1)
This match was the epitome of the bizarre US Open we’ve been witnessing. Makarova destroyed Wozniacki in the first set, hitting winner after winner from basically anywhere on the court. Makarova got a break in the second set, then got broken to love while serving it out. Then, she blew the tiebreak. Advantage to Wozniacki, right? The Dane had all the momentum, and had just made a huge fightback to get to a third. Then, Wozniacki got humiliatingly breadsticked by the 29-year-old Russian. Um, that’s what happens sometimes when counterpunchers run out of gas? Can someone tell Zverev that’s what you’re supposed to do when facing a good counterpuncher?
Makarova, by the way, is having a great American swing, highlighted by her win in Washington D.C. That being said, if she wins the US Open, it would be kinda bad for women’s tennis.
Naomi Osaka def. Angelique Kerber (6-3, 6-1)
Osaka destroyed 2016’s MVP. There was nothing to be done about it. Much like Shapovalov beating Tsonga, Osaka just came out hoping to hit as many winners as possible, and Kerber just let her do it. Kerber has not beaten a top 20 player in 2017. She hasn’t made a final in months. She’s barely managing to defeat lower-ranked players. It’s really bad, folks.
However, Naomi Osaka, future top 10 player. Book it now. I suggest following her on Snapchat because it’s highly entertaining.
John Millman def. Nick Kyrgios
It’s just sad at this point.
American tennis! It’s still miserable, most of the time.
Coco Vandeweghe def. Alison Riske (2-6, 6-4, 6-4)
Gosh, Coco Vandeweghe is really fucking annoying…I’m just going to try to recuse myself from this one…
(But thanks Coco for endlessly retweeting your own highlights on Twitter, and supporting Donald Trump. Good job.)
Nao Hibino def. CiCi Bellis (6-3, 4-6, 7-5)
Bellis choked away a 5-3 lead in the third set. She went to serve for the match and then proceeded to win 3 of the next 15 points. She’d beaten Hibino twice in her career before this. This was bad. This was really awful. I’m mad online.
Tomas Berdych def. Ryan Harrison
Philip Kohlschreiber def. Tim Smyczek
Too lazy to put the scores, but these were routine straight-set routs. Harrison took the third set to a breaker, but that was flattering how poorly he played. At least Harrison can still make a deep run in doubles with Michael Venus
Jordan Thompson def. Jack Sock (6-2, 7-6 [14-12], 1-6, 5-7, 6-4)
I was so sure that Thompson would blow the 2-0 lead after losing two match points in the fourth. I made very clear how certain I was as I was leaving Flushing Meadows in the car. As soon as I said, “there’s no chance for Thompson now”, while Jack Sock was up a break in the fifth, Sock failed to win another game and he lost.
After one of the worst stretches of his career in the summer of 2017, Jack Sock shall be referred to as Sack Jock.
I also watched Jared Donaldson get a nice win over Nikoloz Basilashvili in person on Monday. It was great. He was set to face Pouille, who disposed of Ruben Bemelmans. Donaldson looks like the real deal, at times. And then Wednesday, there was this BS:
Lucas Pouille def. Jared Donaldson (7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4)
The best two American tennis players right now are John Isner and Sam Querrey. John Isner is extremely boring, and he took two easy victories over Pierre Hugues-Herbert. More on Isner’s second match later.
I watched Querrey completely destroy Simon 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in its entirety. It was funny to watch Querrey out-rally Simon after years of expecting every Querrey backhand to hit the net. Seriously, that backhand really is the most improved shot in tennis this year. After Zverev’s loss and Sam’s comfortable win over Dudi Sela (the Israeli who knocked out another American, Christopher Eubanks, with ease), Querrey has a really good shot of making another Grand Slam semifinal. But he has to get by Isner, possibly, to do so. Honestly, this is good for everyone, because you really can’t have two quarterfinals involve Sam Querrey and John Isner if you want to preserve your brain.
It would be peak John Isner to ruin Sam Querrey’s chances of making World Tour Finals, by the way.
Taro Daniel def. Tommy Paul (6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2)
I was very ready for former Winnetka semifinalist Tommy Tennis to win his first Grand Slam match. However, Paul told some reporter that he was there at the Open to win the tournament this week, which is ludicrous and stupidly cocky. He lost, of course, in an incredibly painful fashion.
Adrian Menendez-Maceiras def. Patrick Kypson (6-4, 7-6 [11-9], 6-1)
Katrick Pypson is a strong spoonerism.
Madison Keys def. Elise Mertens (6-3, 7-6 [8-6])
I didn’t watch this match, but Mertens seems way too good to be a round 1 opponent for Madison Keys. Not Sharapova-level, but still way too good. When you have Sofya Zhuk and Yulia Putintseva playing in Round 1, you’d think they could give Mertens a break here.
Marin Cilic def. Tennys Sandgren, the tennis player from Tennessee
For about 5 minutes, I thought Tennys could push it to a fifth. That’s not bad, actually, for Tennys.
Steve Johnson def. Nicolas Almagro (6-4, 7-6, 7-6)
Kyle Edmund def. Steve Johnson (7-5, 6-2, 7-6)
It’s been a really tough year for Steve Johnson, given the death of his father and all. I was really hoping he’d make a deep run at the US Open, but he lost to Kyle Edmund for the second time in two weeks. Johnson’s ranking has fallen from the 20s in 2016 to the mid 40s, and it’s going to be really tough for him to get back, especially since he had such a bad season on his preferred US hard court swing. Edmund also dominated Robin Haase in straight sets on Monday, which was surprising.
Sloane Stephens def. Dominika Cibulkova (6-2, 5-7, 6-3)
Sloane Stephens def. Roberta Vinci (7-5, 6-1)
Sloane Stephens is back! She’d good again! Stephens’ run of really impressive victories in the United States continued with two wins over top players. Vinci is not in her US Open finalist form, but she’s been hanging around in the mid 40s and is a dangerous opponent. Stephens broke VInci 5 times and won the total points battle 69-57. Next, Stephens faced Dominika Cibulkova, who made the final at New Haven and had survived a tough match against Jana Cepelova in the first round. Despite failing to serve out the match, Stephens rallied to win 6-3 in the third and is now a potential candidate to make a quarterfinal. Wow.
Taylor Fritz def. Barcos Maghdatis
Wow! A straight sets win for Fritzy! He’s really turned his season around in August, making a quarterfinal in Winston-Salem last week and now winning his first Grand Slam match after 7 tries. That paycheck is really helpful for a new father…I’m not kidding, Fritz is 19 and has a kid. Congrats on the sex?
Shelby Rogers def. Kayla Day (6-2, 4-6, 6-4)
I have no idea if Shelby Rogers is ever going to put together a really good year. She’s in the Ryan Harrison Zone right now, and I don’t rate her very highly on any surface that’s not clay. However, she survived a tough test from 17-year-old Kayla Day in the first round, so credit to her.
Daria Gavrilova def. Allie Kiick (6-2, 6-1)
Kiick was coming off a long injury and it’s impressive that she even qualified for the US Open. Gavrilova, who I think is basically the female version of David Goffin, is having a great couple weeks and took her momentum from winning her first WTA title in New Haven and won easily.
Tatiana Maria def. Ashley Kratzer (6-1, 6-1)
I have no idea who Ashley Kratzer is, but she won the Girls’ Championship to get a wildcard to this event. It did not go well.
Donald Young def. Maximilian Marterer
Is that the right spelling of Marterer? I kid, Marterer has been a Challenger legend this year, but he still couldn’t manage more than a set off Young. Young will have to play Gael Monfils (def. Jeremy Chardy) in Round 2 though, which is where his US Open will probably end.
Nicole Gibbs def. Veronica Cepede Royg
Ceronica Repede Voyg
Ana Bogdan def. Taylor Townsend
Toylor Tawnsend and Ba Anogdan, imo.
Ons Jabeur def. Brienne Minor
Who are these people?
Ying-ying Duan def. Claire Liu
Liu really proved the doubters wrong by qualifying for this tournament. She probably should’ve beaten Duan as well, but she lost the first set despite being up a break, and lost a set point in the tiebreak.
Sofia Kenin def. Lauren Davis (7-5, 7-5)
Lauren! You had a 4-0 lead in the first set!
Sachia Vickery def. Natalia Vikhlyantseva
Huge upset for Vickery, who was ranked almost 100 spots lower than Natasha before this match.
Sofia Kenin def. Sachia Vickery (6-3, 4-6, 7-6 [7-0])
Sofia Kenin qualified for this event by accumulating points in the ITF Circuit and getting that wildcard berth, and she’s backed it up with two impressive wins.
Is Garbiñe Muguruza just going to walk to the title?
Muguruza had two dominant wins over Varvara Lepchenko and Ying-Ying Duan. After winning Wimbledon, Muguruza has continued her good form into the hard court swing. She’s notched seven victories over top 20 players, and she was completely in form against Lepchenko and Duan. With Wozniacki out, Muguruza’s only contenders in her section are Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams. Kvitova defeated Jelena Jankovic and Alize Cornet (Cornet defeated Heather Watson, who’s lost in the first round in 7 straight Slams) in two solid victories, although her second set against Jankovic still showed the rustiness Kvitova has dealt with since recovering from that stabbing attack over the winter. Venus dropped a set to Victoria Kuzmova but rallied to win on Monday. She then dispatched French youngster Oceane Dodin to make the third round. Dodin played pretty well, showing the form she had in her dramatic win over Pauline Parmentier in round 1, but it just wasn’t enough.
However, Muguruza dismantled Venus at Wimbledon, and it’s hard to see Muguruza not being the favorite to win the whole tournament at this point. In the rest of the bottom half, Halep and Cibulkova are both out, leaving Sharapova, Stephens and…I guess Anastasia Sevastova (two easy wins over Kozlova and Witthoeft) as the possible challengers in the semifinals. Sevastova beat Muguruza at the US Open last year, by the way, in case you were wondering why I included her.Other dark horses in the bottom half include Julia Goerges and Donna Vekic, who are both on fire right now. Goerges lost 4 games through her first two matches and is looking very dangerous. Vekic knocked out Beatriz Haddad Maia and Shuai Peng and has lost just 5 games through her first two matches. Peng was coming off a good win over Amandine Hesse, and was seeded.
Muguruza is definitely the favorite though. I’d put Elina Svitolina as the second favorite, as she survived a first round match against Katerina Siniakova. Svitolina’s comeback from a break down in the third was one of the few upset avoidances we’ve had this week, and just as I finish writing this, she’s already defeated E. Rodina for a spot in the third round.
The best matches you probably didn’t see
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Marketa Vondrousova (6-4, 4-6, 7-6 [7-2])
Love too lose three match points and then fade away completely in the tiebreak. This was brutal, all joking aside. Vondrousova lost some ridiculous 30+ shot rally on match point that she almost certainly should’ve won. It was really bad.
Albert Ramos Vinolas def. Denis Istomin (4-6, 7-6 [7-4], 7-5, 6-7 [7-3], 7-5)
This match clocked in at 4 hours 59 minutes without reaching a fifth set tiebreak. Istomin and Ramos played 418 total points. It was a truly grueling marathon that was completely untelevised. However, I saw a bit of it, and I can confirm it was a battle of a not very good on hard court player against a desperate man from Uzbekistan. Istomin saved 21-of-27 break points, but eventually lost serve at 5-5 in the fifth set in a 27-point slugfest of a game.
Understandably, Ramos Vinolas was exhausted, but two days later he played another five-setter against Nicolas Mahut. This time, Ramos completely fell apart physically in his ninth hour on court in three days, getting bageled (which, for you non-tennis fans, means you lose 6-0) by Mahut in the fifth. Over the span of 72 hours, Ramos played 717 points, which actually sounds like torture.
Mischa Zverev def. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3)
Mischa Zverev def. Benoit Paire (6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7, 7-5)
Once again, the lefty serve and volley Zverev brother has gone further in a major than the flashy young talented Zverev brother. Mischa played two classics in three days. His first match came against NCAA Singles Champion Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who looked very talented. Kwiatkowski was up a break in the fourth but totally imploded, and while he was really fun, he needs some work to become a regular ATP player. This was super awesome though:
— Parsa (@Parsa_Nemati) August 28, 2017
In the second match, Zverev and Paire had an epic battle of shitty groundstrokes. However, Zverev’s awful backhand was slightly better than Paire’s awful forehand in the end, and Zverev did not allow Paire to make a comeback from 2-0 down and saving three match points in the fourth. Paire had a decent tournament, I guess, with a nice win over Lukas Lacko, but he probably regrets what happened in the fifth here.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni def. Monica Puig (6-4, 6-7 [7-4], 7-6 [7-4])
An absolute classic. Lucic-Baroni blew a double break lead in the second set and Puig roared back to win the tiebreak. Then, Puig saved another three match points in the third and forced a final set tiebreak. Unfortunately, because final set tiebreaks at Grand Slams are kinda bad, Puig’s hard work was undone when she lost 7-4 in the breaker.
A bunch of inexplicably awful performances in men’s singles
Fabio Fognini got bageled in the fourth set by Stefano Travaglia and lost in four. Travaglia, an unheralded Challenger Warrior, is having a breakout summer at age 25. This was peak Fabio, who apparently started tearing a racket apart with his teeth out of frustration during this match. Travaglia plays almost all his matches on clay, and despite being one of the best Italian Futures players of all time, should be beating anyone on a hard court. Because this is tennis, he’s now won four straight matches and notched his first ever ATP Tour victory. Catch him at some random Italian Challenger this fall!
Bjorn Fratangelo def. Ivo Karlovic (7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6)
This was the first time I ever thought Ivo should just hang up the racket and enjoy the millions of dollars he’s made off of being extremely tall. Karlovic really, really, really screwed this up. He absolutely should’ve won the second set after breaking Fratangelo early on. Instead, he lost serve twice in a row and blew it. He mounted a comeback, but lost a tough tiebreak in the fourth despite breaking Fratangelo late in that set as well. Karlovic is lucky to break someone once in a match. I can’t explain how Karlovic broke Fratangelo four times and still lost in four sets.
Leonardo Mayer def. Richard Gasquet (3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2)
Gasquet could fall out of the Top 30 after this week, and I have no idea how he’s going to make it back to prominence. Mayer made good use of his lucky loser spot.
Paolo Lorenzi def. Gilles Muller (6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3)
Lorenzi has been the underdog in all but one of the 17 hard court matches he’s played this year, including his first round win over Joao Sousa (not Joao Souza). Somehow, he’s still 7-10, which isn’t bad for a clay court specialist at age 36. The Bartolo Colón of the ATP continued his inexplicably great two seasons with a stunning win over Wimbledon darling Gilles Muller. Muller is on an lengthy Wimbledon hangover, but he should still be beating Lorenzi. Muller looked quite good in his win over Bernard Tomic on Monday, and he did the world a favor by knocking Tomic the Tank Engine out of the Top 100 and main draws at most tournaments.
Malek Jaziri def. Thiago Monteiro (7-6 [7-5], 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4)
This was a rollercoaster. Jaziri is not very good and Thiago Monteiro is an awful hard court player, and yet Jaziri conspired to choke away as many chances as he possibly could. Up 40-15 and serving out the match? I’ll just lose four straight points. Get to a breaker? Nah, I’ll just lose 5-7. Go up a break early in the fifth set? I’m going to just give that back. Serving out the match again? Nah, I gotta go to 3-40 and give myself a heart attack before finally winning.
Santiago Giraldo def. Vincent Millot (6-1, 6-0, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4)
Despite winning 1 game in the first hour of play, Millot managed to take this to a fifth. Millot got broken 10 times.
Timea Babos def. Viktorija Golubic (7-5, 5-7, 7-5)
The best scoreline of the tournament was only attained through a massive choke from Golubic, who was up a break and lost 3 points to go up a double break. I watched a few points, and the stands were totally empty, but it was a really exciting contest for the 6 people who watched it.
EASTERN EUROPEAN INVASION
LIGHTNING ROUND TIME!!!! Can we get every single country from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union?
Viktor Troicki (Serbia), who nobody really likes, defeated Norbert Gombos (Slovakia) in five sets. Gombos has rocked the Challenger circuit this year, but really fell apart in the final two sets despite going up 2-1. I am literally the only person in the world who cares about this. Troicki, despite being injured and terrible on all surfaces for much of this year, is probably going to make the third round of a Grand Slam to save his ranking.
Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) dropped a set 1-6 to Arruabarrena (as Ostapenko tends to do), but won the final set 6-1 in response. The best part of this match was that it got moved to Ashe on Tuesday, but Ostapenko wrapped up the final three games in about 7 minutes. Ostapenko just knocked out Sorana Cirstea (Romania) about six minutes ago. Cirstea is a dangerous player, and she had a pretty good win over Lesley Kerkhove on Tuesday before the rain.
Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) is back! She beat former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the Italian’s final US Open appearance. She just upset Yanina Wickmayer and is in the third round. Wickmayer shockingly obliterated Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 3 and 1 in the first round, but failed to back it up. Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) and No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova represented their nation well with easy round 1 victories over Misaki Doi and Magda Linette (Poland). However, Strycova just lost to Jennifer Brady, winning just 26 points in the match overall. That’s horrendous and very surprising. Brady, incidentally, defeated Andrea Petkovic (Germany) in a tough three-setter in round 1. Kristýna Plíšková demolished Misa Eguchi in Round 1, but lost to Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) in two tiebreaks in the second round. Rybarikova, fresh off an excellent run at Wimbledon, could challenge Muguruza, I guess, but I doubt it. Rybarikova got past Camila Giorgi in Round 1 and has been impressive.
Alexander Dolgopolov (Ukraine) was determined to not fix this match and defeated Struff in five sets. Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) crushed Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas has now been knocked out in round 1 of his last six tournaments. Jared Donaldson defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) as previously mentioned, but Basil is apparently playing doubles with Andreas Haider-Maurer, which is crazy to me. Haider-Maurer was struggled with injuries and was forced to retire from his match against Evgeny Donskoy (Russia). Mikhail Kukushkin (Kazakhstan) upset David Ferrer. The Spaniard was in peak “actually, he’s declining” form. Kukushkin is now in round 3 after defeating Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. Could this be enough to get him away from the Uzbek Challenger circuit? We shall see.
Cameron Norrie defeated Dmitry Tursunov. Tursunov looked really out of shape from my perspective, and he didn’t finish the match. Norrie then lost to my boy Pablo Carreno Busta, who has gotten some ridiculously easy draws this year (RIP Evan King). With Tsonga out of the quarter, Busta should really make the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam despite struggling with injuries and not being too great on hard. Marton Fucosvics (Hungary) lost to Nicolas Mahut, who apparently should not just retire into doubles just yet. I think we covered Istomin from Uzbekistan already, but we’re in the Eastern European lightning round, so he’s back. Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) crushed Alessandro Giannessi (who got in after Raonic withdrew) and then lost to Kevin Anderson. Anderson destroyed UVA No. 5 JC Aragone in Round 1.
Quick sidenote, how deep can Kevin Anderson go in this tournament? If Anderson can get past Borna Coric (Croatia, also he beat Jiri Vesely (CZE) in the first round, that happened), the toughest players in his quarter are the other big servers [Isner, Querrey, etc.]. Anderson can beat those guys, and Anderson will have no trouble against Thomas Fabbiano, another Challenger Warrior he barely scraped past John-Patrick Smith and then defeated an exhausted Jordan Thompson in five sets.. He’s playing great tennis this summer. Go Fighting Illini. He’s the last Big Ten tennis player alive in the main draw, I think.
Monica Niculescu (Romania) upset Kiki Mladenovic in round 1. Radu Albot (Moldova), r/tennis mascot, is in the third round of the US Open after defeating Ernesto Escobedo and Yen-Hsun Lu. Lu shocked next-gen darkhorse Karen Khachanov in round 1 but couldn’t back it up. Next Genner Andrey Rublev (Russia) is playing some great tennis this summer and totaled Aljaz Bedene in straight sets. He’s currently losing to Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria). Dimitrov had an easy first round matchup against qualifier and Challenger Warrior Vaclav Safranek. Elena Vesnina also beat Anna Blinkova. Blinkova has a great name.
Is Turkey in Eastern Europe? No. However, Carla Suarez Navarro knocked out Ipek Soylu, and there’s no other place to put it. CSN then survived a crazy second set to defeat Lucic-Baroni. Is Greece in Eastern Europe? Not really. However, Maria Sakkari is inexplicably in the third round of this tournament, defeating Kiki Bertens (NED) and Arina Rodionova (not Eastern Europe!). Rodionova beat Richel Hogenkamp in round 1, which I’m contractually obligated to mention. If her name was Hochel Rigenkamp, would that be weird for pro tennis? Absolutely not.
Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) is still around and defeated Blaz Kavcic (Slovakia), another Challenger Superstar. Agniezska Radwanska (Poland) defeated Petra Martic (Croatia). She will not win the tournament because it’s Agniezska Radwanska. Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) defeated ITF Circuit battler Sofya Zhuk (Russia). Ekaterina Alexandrova (Russia) defeated Anna Zaja (Germany), but then blew a set and break lead and totally collapsed against Caroline Garcia last night. Garcia defeated Teresa Martincova (CZE) in the first round. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the best name on tour, wrecked American Julia Boserup in round 1. I thought Boserup could pull the upset there, but as usual, I bought into American hype for no reason. Oh, and former cricketer Ashleigh Barty is having a good tournament, knocking out No. 21 seed Ana Konjuh (Croatia) and then defeating Sasnovich to make the third round. Tomljanovic, fresh off her breakup with Kyrgios, defeated Johanna Larsson (Sweden), but lost to Krunic, as mentioned. Adrian Mannarino continues his crazy summer with a dominant win over Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania). Berankis has to go get some more experience with Asian Challengers. Tanko Jipsarevic (Serbia) picked up an amazing five-set win over Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Lastly, Daria Kasatkina, who, in my opinion, could be dangerous in this tournament, defeated Qiang Wang and is currently playing Christina McHale. McHale rebounded from a tight loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchekova (Russia) in New Haven and advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over the Russian in Round 1. Eugenie Bouchard is bad now, and she lost to Evgeniya Rodina on the worst match to be played at Arthur Ashe Stadium I can remember. Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) escaped a tight scrape with Anett Kontaveit (Estonia), who choked away another lead. Swiss but really Finnish player Henri Laaksonen lost three close sets to Juan Martin Del Potro.
Rafael Nadal has been relegated to the bottom of this list, but he survived a tight first set against Dusan Lajovic and then really picked it up. Feliciano Lopez defeated Andrey Kuznetsov 3-1.
Belgian and Asian tennis roundup
Oh yeah, it’s the segment you’ve all been waiting for. Hyeon Chung, the Korean No. 1, defeated Horacio Zeballos in four sets. If you know me, you know I have pretty big legs from running so much. However, Chung has the biggest quads I’ve seen on any Korean dude. His serve sucks though, and he lost to Isner in straights in the second round, including a double fault to lose the first set. How do you double fault against John Isner?
David Goffin def. Julian Benneteau (6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2)
Goffin just does not play easy matches. It seemed like every single point in this match involved a brutal groundstroke rally. Benneteau is just not good enough though.
Guido Pella def. Steve Darcis
Not a good day for Deve Starcis. Good win for Puido Gella though.
Yuichi Sugita def. Geoffrey Blancaneaux
King Geoffrey is not ready for the ATP yet.
Risa Ozaki def. Danielle Lao
Ugh, you should read Danielle Lao’s blog instead of mine. Tough loss in a third set tiebreak for Lao. Also…Lanielle Dao.
Shuai Zhang def. Sabine Lisicki
Lisicki is awful on all non-grass surfaces. She’s the Randy Choate of the WTA.
Saisai Zheng def. Alison van Uytvanck
Considering Zheng’s main strategy is to loft moonballs into the air and hope her opponent misses, I’m a bit surprised she even won a match. Goerges obliterated that strategy in round 2.
Kurumi Nara def. Sara Sorribes Tormo
Sorribes Tormo is low-key the worst server on tour. She won 11 points on serve in the entire match and double faulted 10 times.
Supposedly, Dominic Thiem defeated Alex de Minaur. It’s entirely possible that Thiem actually just got a bye to the next round instead. Boberta Autista RGut is the best hard court player who does not play like a good hard court player. He looked awful at times, and yet he still beat Andreas Seppi in four sets. The highly amusing Dustin Brown had a routine win over Thomaz Bellucci. That’s not surprising because Bellucci is actually a nutcase. Fernando Verdasco benefitted from a Vasek Pospisil retirement. Cedric-Marcel Stebe is healthy and apparently very good again. He beat Nicolas Kicker, the match fixer, quite handily. In a battle of Argentines, Diego Schwartzman defeated Carlos Berlocq. Schwartzman, the best returner on tour not in the top 20, defeated Tipsarevic in the next round and is suddenly a decent hard court player. And last (and probably least) Florian Mayer/Morian Flayer defeated Dogerio Rutra Silva. Cilic blew out Mayer on Court 17 on Wednesday night.
I really hope I didn’t miss anything, because this is almost 6,000 words.