Monday, April 23, 2018

Weekend Tennis Roundup

Not a whole lot to say about Monte Carlo. Rafael Nadal was his dominating self, winning the title for the 11th time. I ended up seeing the final versus Kei Nishikori and it was definitely one of those matches that was a lot closer than the score indicated ... until it wasn't. The resurgent Japanese looked awfully good in that first set before fading away after not being able to clinch it. I fully expect Nadal to sweep the clay season and pick up his 11th French Open, too.

Novak Djokovic fared a bit better than his previous events this year. Although he couldn't hold it together to defeat Dominic Thiem even after having won the first set, he was able to beat a red-hot Borna Coric and countryman Dusan Lajovic. (Imagine if you'd told me a couple years ago that Nole's beating Borna was seen as a big deal!) 

Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov, two players who might be expected to capitalize on the sudden opening at the top of the game, did each reach the semis. Yet you never really had the feeling either posed a real threat to win it. Just when I think they're underachievers, I remind myself that it's not their fault they came along in the era of Nadal (clay), Federer (grass) and Djokovic (hard), so there's probably not a lot of hope until all three are done at the same time. Still, Sasha and Grigor have each used the opening to reach career-high rankings, even if I feel they should have asterisks next to them. As much as I like to bitch about Simona Halep being on top of the game ,keep in mind that Zverev has reached just one round of 16 in a major in his entire career. (His current No. 3 ranking includes losing in the first round in Paris, the second round in New York and third in Melbourne!)

And speaking of people who can't seem to get over the hump. Milos Raonic looked like he was on the road back to the Top 10 -- until he pulled out of Monte Carlo with a yet another injury. (This time it's his right knee.) Sucks because he looked strong in Indian Wells and Miami. 

On the women's side, unseeded Zheng Saisai came from a set down to clinch the 125K Zhengzhou Open title Sunday. Saisai recovered to beat compatriot and No. 4 seed Wang Yafan 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in China.

Also caught some Fed Cup action. Call me a "casual American," but I was thrilled when CoCo Vandeweghe lost to Dominic Thiem's beard, Kristina Mladenovic, but then the U.S. won anyway. Madison Keys was a sight for sore eyes substituting for the big-cocked blond(e), beating Pauline Parmentier 7-6(4), 6-4 to put us in the second straight Fed Cup final. (I know Alize Cornet is a pain the country's ass, but does anyone know why Caroline Garcia wasn't there to help out instead of leaving the 32-year-old journeywoman to fight for her country's life?) 

Will be curious to see how we fare against the Czech Republic, who beat Germany to advance to their sixth final in eight years. Petra Kvitova defeated Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2 in under an hour to clinch the tie, with what proved to be a 4-1 win over Germany on Sunday. After Kvitova won the deciding rubber to make it 3-1, Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova also won the doubles match that they were leading 7-5 when Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld retired after 37 minutes. 

So nice to see Kathy Rinaldi lead the Americans on another successful Fed cup run. Rinaldi replaced Tracy Austin in my heart for a while after her Cinderella run at the 1981 French Open. (We were both born in 1967, so she was my first actual contemporary on the tour.) 

I got myself a Prince Woodie and found a tennis shirt that matched her blue/red "rugby" style Ellesse top and went to town. (Mine was made by Jockey, which I found at Ross Dress for Less!) I compromised on navy shorts, although that skirt was the best.

 She never really became the next Tracy -- let alone the new Chris Evert, as she was billed -- but she she did get a few endorsements (remember her Lee jeans ads?!) and won three WTA titles, hitting No. 7 on the computer after reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon. As it would happen, her second career title was in Mahwah, where she outlasted a 16-year-old "West" German named Steffi Graf ... who became my next true love! 

This is their 1986 semifinal clash at Amelia Island.

Oh, and Stevie Johnson made good on his heterosexual threat ...


Ung said...

Hey! I was born in 1967 too! ... Anyway, I seem to remember there was something about Rinaldi's serve motion that was peculiar. But I can't remember what it was.. am I confusing her with someone else?

Damian said...

There was a tournament in Mahwah?! That tickles this Jersey boy. :)