Who Will It Be?

by Savannah

Jelena Ostapenko
Caroline Wozniacki
Kristina Mladenovic
Timea Bacsinszky
Elina Svitolina
Petra Martic
Carla Suarez Navarro
Simona Halep
Alizé Cornet
Caroline Garcia
Veronica Cepede-Royg
Karolina Pliskova

Prepare yourselves hard core tennis fans. Memorize the names listed above. Bone up on their head to heads and past achievements. Their quirks. Their looks. Their games. The burden rests on our shoulders. No one outside of tennis cognoscenti will have a clue as to who any of these women are. If they’re golf fans they may have heard of Caroline Wozniacki but that’s it. The WTA has done such a fine job of promoting women’s tennis that whoever makes it to the Final is guaranteed the lowest US TV ratings ever. The good people at NBC must be seething that Venus Williams couldn’t do it today. There was a chance she’s make the Final but clay is her worst surface. Still she did very well in Paris. I’m a big fan but I always thought it was a long shot for her to go deep in the second week.

Wozniacki vs Ostapenko and Mladenovic vs Bacsinsky are already set for the Quarter Finals. The remaining women’s matches remain to be played. If the seeding holds it’ll be Svitolina vs Halep and Pliskova playing the winner of Garcia vs Cornet, a match either woman can win.

People  talked alot about there being no previous Slam winner in the bottom half of the draw. Now there is no previous Slam winner in either half. And since the WTA has done such a great job of promoting women’s tennis (Yes I’m saying it again)  people will be tuned in to watch and hang on every shot. I know I will. But then again I’m one of those people who know who most of these women are because I spend a lot of time following tennis. The casual fan will probably pass. And that is sad.

All of these women, household names or not, played their asses off on the most demanding of surfaces. They defeated whoever was across the net from them, household name or not (You can argue that the only real household name left was Venus but this column isn’t totally about that). They don’t deserve their matches going forward being called a “Scrub Bowl”. Whoever wins will have her efforts diminished because “quirky” results often come from Roland Garros.

The players are not to blame for this happening. They belong to the Women’s Tennis Association. It’s the WTA’s  job to make sure their members names are front and center. Women’s tennis is the most successful of women’s sports and yet few outside of hard core fans can discuss any of the women listed above with any knowledge. Add to that the fact the the WTA is virtually invisible on television in any shape form or fashion and you leave sports fans with the impression that women’s tennis is a side show, a lesser part of the tennis world while hey, what about those Next Gen guys huh?

We’ll know more soon. Best of luck ladies.

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

Milestones

by Savannah

Two years ago I started choosing two up and coming players, one male, one female, to look out for. The first two players were Madison Keys and Alexander Zverev.  Today both of them achieved milestones in their careers and I’m happy to say I picked both of them as potential stars.

Sky Sports photo e2e14eab-2553-4748-be85-f1e8afb34d15_zpssrlhbvoe.jpg
Sky Sports

Two years ago Sascha Zverev was a gangly seventeen year old whose arms and legs seemed to have minds of their own. I had the opportunity to see him live at the US Open and was impressed with his fight as well as his movement. His court sense was that of a seventeen year old – a very talented but raw seventeen year old. He was a far cry from the player I saw today who was able to hold onto his emotions – he is still an emotional player – and keep his focus on the man across the net from him –Roger Federer. Zverev was not intimidated and was able to win a tough first set tiebreak, drop an equally tight second set and come back to win rather easily 6-3 in the third.

Zverev is not only working hard on court. He is visibly bigger than he was two years ago. His quads, while not Berdychian are much stronger. When he goes after a shot out wide he is much more physically co-ordinated; the awkwardness is just about gone.

Watching him today I thought to myself how dangerous he’s going to be when he really gets himself together. I also thanked the powers above that Zverev was trained in Europe and that the USTA didn’t get its hands on him. He is tall and I’m sure they would’ve turned him into a servebot. Instead tennis is going to have a big, mobile player who can construct a point and stay in a rally. And yes he has a good serve. Some will not know how to handle that.

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe photo b4f04fb5-c49c-4458-9de7-c8f9f95d7087_zpsumcibtuf.jpg
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

As of Monday Madison Keys will join Venus Williams and Serena Williams in the WTA top ten, debuting at the number ten slot, the first American woman to debut in the top ten for many years. I just wish I could be happier about her ascension.

To say Keys in inconsistent is putting it mildly. A lot of her inconsistency has been blamed on nagging injuries. A lot of it has, in my opinion, been based on an inflated view of herself and a revolving door of coaches. I’m not even sure who her coach is now and don’t want to look it up because I’m willing to bet that she’ll be getting rid of him shortly.

From what I’ve seen of her this week Keys has been serving well and played with confidence. Most US trained players play better on grass because they’re trained to think that outside of a hard court grass best suits their game. Madison has also won a pre Wimbledon warmup before, (Eastbourne 2014) something that would surely have added to her confidence. She also made the semi finals at Rome on European red clay.

So why am I lukewarm to her? I don’t see that she’s progressed in her approach tennis. Her game is the same as it was two years ago. Her win at Birmingham against Carla Suarez-Navarro shouldn’t have been a big deal. CSN won a set off her her before she woke up and realized she could handle her opponent’s game. Like Zverev Keys is an emotional player. When her ball bashing first strike approach to tennis doesn’t work she loses it. Zverev seems to be working on keeping himself in check during the big points of a match. I’ve yet to see Madison play under pressure and not need to have her hand held to try and get herself together.

Still congratulations tare due o both Sascha and Maddy. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come.

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