Monday, March 18, 2019

Weekend Tennis Roundup

I must say, my faith in the next generation of tennis players -- male and female -- has been greatly tested lately. So I can't think of a better way to shut me up than to have Dominic Thiem and Bianca Andreescu win the year's first major non-major -- and to do it by beating veteran greats Roger Federer and Angie Kerber in thrilling three-set finals. 

With Federer it's less of a no-win situation for NextGen players than a must-win situation: If you lose to him, you can't even beat an aging legend. But even if you beat him, it feels like, "Well, of course you should be able to beat him now." Thiem held his nerve and beat him -- and that's what matters.

A view to a thrill ...

Thiem's first Masters 1000 title ... 

And I see Roger has been taking a tip from Novak Djokovic and being a better loser lately.

The 25-year-old Austrian rises to his highest ranking to date.

Oh, Vienna!

The 18-year-old Romanian-Canadian started the year ranked 178. Today she rose to 24. I was out celebrating St. Patrick's Day so didn't see much of the match. But Damian said Kerber fought back admirably only to suck some more -- so didn't really deserve to win. Good for Bianca for also holding her nerve.

In doubles: surprise finalists Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos capped off an incredible week of upsets with a 4-6, 6-4 10-3 victory over tournament No. 6 seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo. 

Obviously the other big news from the fortnight was the incredible run of Belinda Bencic -- could she finally be here for good? -- and Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams both pulling out with ailments. Of course it's impossible to write either of them off. While it is worth noting that Williams has not won a tournament since returning from childbirth and that she will be turning 38 this year, if anyone can pull off the hitherto impossible it is Serena. Also nice to see Karen Khachanov has snipped his losing streak and looked pretty impressive before coming up short versus Nadal. And a decent run from Garbine Muguruza, who made the most of Williams's withdrawal before getting blown out by Andreescu. Lastly, disappointing to see Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep all continue to underperform. 

When Nadal broke the crowd's collective heart by pulling out against Federer, they were treated to a Djokovic/Peter Sampras vs. Tommy Haas/John McEnroe doubles exhibition ... with Jon Lovitz in the umpire's chair!

Looks like fun!

Djokovic seems to have caught a case of what Serena Williams has had for ages, commonly known as "Now I only care about the majors" syndrome. (He lost to Kohlschreiber in the third round of singles but did make the real doubles semis with Fabio Fognini.) 

Other cuteness from around the compound: 

Forver, Lulu ...
And from the ATP Challenger circuit -- boy did I miss an opportunity by not being home in that other desert this week! The draw was stacked with stacked men -- David Goffin, John Millman and Matt Ebden to name a few. But it was Italian heartthrob Matteo Berrettini who picked up the crown, saving one match point en route to defeating Mikhail Kukushkin in a nearly three-hour thriller, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(2) at the Phoenix Country Club. 

Neal Skupski and Jamie Murray brought a little glamour to the Valley of the Sun ...

Marcos Baghdatis won the title in Shenzhen, beating Stefano Napolitano 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in Sunday's final. 

Top seed Ricardas Berankis is a force on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2019. The 28-year-old did not drop a set in clinching a pair of titles, following his convincing performance in Rennes, France, with an equally dominant showing in Drummondville. The 28-year-old Lithuanian capped his campaign in Canada with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Yannick Maden on Sunday, claiming his 11th Challenger title in impressive fashion.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

So glad you acknowledged Bianca Andreescu! And all the deserving winners at Indian Wells! But you forgot my fave, Naomi Osaka! She overcome the jitters of becoming first title defender and number one ranked in the world...and remained humble and refreshing to listen to!

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