2018 AO This and That

by Savannah

Day 3 of the Australian Open ended mid morning in the Eastern United States. There’s been some interesting play no?

Belinda Bencic was finally playing up to her potential they said. She played Hopman Cup and managed not to fall flat on her face so she was going to make at least the quarters if not the semi’s they were saying. When Venus Williams played a sub par match and Bencic won there was figurative dancing in the aisles and there were whispers about her hoisting the trophy. Whoever her next opponent was didn’t matter. Bencic is the real deal and she’ll just roll over anyone else in her path they said.

I think it’s safe to say that Luksika Kumkhum from Thailand didn’t get the message that she was supposed to lose. She came out and played the best she could on that day and guess what? Aw, you all know already. Bencic is on her way to her next tournament. Tennis journalists are upset about the drubbing Bencic took – 6-1, 6-3 from Ms Kumkhum and seemed at a loss to explain her inability to find the court. Long time tennis fans weren’t. There’s a price you pay both mentally and physically when you beat some players. Even with a days rest Bencic wasn’t ready to play the Qualifier from Thailand.

You have to be a real tennishead to know who Jana Fett is. Her name is usually found on entry lists for ITF events or WTA International tournaments. If the crowd on RLA is anything like the folks who populate Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open I’m sure most of them figured Caroline Wozniacki would routine Ms Fett off the court and back to tennis oblivion. Instead Wozniacki had to mount a Herculean effort and take advantage of an epic mental melt down by Fett to come back and win their match after having been down 1-5 to her. Fett came apart after a shot went just wide and the veteran took full advantage.

It was very important for Wozniacki and her father that she win that match. Eyebrows were raised when at the end of last season they let Sascha Bajin go. Yes it was/is standard operating procedure for Victor and his daughter but you’d think they would want to continue their move on Number 1. If Caroline goes out first round the “I told you so” dance would’ve been performed in the stands. Instead Ms Fett’s inability to perform once it hit her where she was cost her the match. That inability to perform by an opponent can’t be counted on as Wozniacki moves forward.

That brings us to what for me was the most important match of Simona Halep‘s career. She faced Australian phenom Destanee Aiava in the first round and Ms Aiava was, like Ms Fett, poised to win the match up 5-2 and serving for it. Then things got really weird. Aiava pointed at her chest and called for the trainer during the changeover. The doctor arrived on the physio’s heels and Aiava was checked for problems with the heat. The comms began talking about Aiava’s lack of fitness and citing her age – 17 – as contributing to her lack of physical preparedness to play at the highest level. It is true that teenagers, who are still growing, can’t be put on the diet of an adult athlete. It’s true that Ms Aiava can, and will, shed a few pounds as she matures. But I’m sorry that MTO was just weird. She ended up leaving the court and Halep, who had been reeling, had time to be talked down by her team and to think about tactics when the match resumed. To her credit she had already started to force Aiava into long rallies that could have contributed to Ms Aiava’s physical issues. There was also a Tweet that Ms Aiava thought the score was 6-2 not 5-2.

At any rate that MTO was the turning point of the match. Halep came back to take the set and the match. It’s bad enough she’s wearing a mail order kit. If the WTA #1 lost in the first round there are people who would’ve literally gotten the vapors.

The other WTA match that is worth mentioning featured Alizé Cornet playing Julia Goerges . I didn’t see any of this match so there isn’t much to say except I’m shocked that Goerges has been playing so well of late, and that she was the #12 seed. Cornet acts nuts on court but she’s crazy like a fox when she’s on.

The other big match for me last night was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Denis Shapovalov . The Canadian had defeated Tsonga in New York in straight sets and it seems as if the much fitter Tsonga was out for blood. It didn’t look as if he’d have his revenge though as Shapovalov looked ready to win the match in four sets. Let me correct myself. Shapovalov looked desperate to win in four. When he started arguing a call with the chair I thought to myself that a veteran player, seeing that, would know he had his opponent on the ropes mentally and take advantage of the situation. Tsonga won the fourth set and cruised in the fifth.

I said after seeing Shapovalov live in New York that there were several things he needed to work on if he wants to be counted among the tennis greats. One is his balls to the wall style of play. He is not that big physically at six feet (I don’t think he’s that tall but he can still grow and may have since I saw him last summer) and being only 18 he can’t be put on a rigorous diet yet but if they don’t start correcting his mental approach to match play nothing will matter. He fell apart the same way Fett and Aiava did. He and Aiava are still young enough to gain the discipline needed to compete at the top levels of the sport. If you remember Alexander Zverev used to throw tantrums on court when things didn’t go his way. He still does but not the way he used to. All the talent in the world means nothing if you have no discipline.

End Notes

I was glad to see the article by Deadspin where the horrid online presence of the Australian Open was discussed. If you’ve had an IT giant like IBM doing your back office work and decide, for whatever reason, that you don’t require their services anymore you’d better have a replacement lined up that can do the job properly. I can’t imagine they thought IBM would leave it’s work in place when they left. I can’t imagine that a firm was hired that rendered the App worthless. It reminds me of the WTA kicking TennisTV to the curb and then being unable to provide a quality product for fans of women’s tennis. The folks in charge can’t be that myopic can they?

Then again, there’s talk that the WTA has chosen Shenzen for its YEC starting in 2019. What can you say?

© 2018 Savannahs World Tennis All Rights Reserved

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