Monday, February 03, 2020

Weekend Tennis Roundup

What started out as an intriguing Australian Open ended in a way that I can only describe as kind of dumb. Russian-born American Sofia Kenin made a fan out of me -- and the world seemed to fall in love with her dad -- during her run to the title. After being down double set point in the first and second sets, Kenin managed to defeat World No. 1 Ash Barty in the semifinals and then rallied to beat Garbine Muguruza in the final (4-6, 6-2, 6-2).

.Still, despite her high tennis IQ and obvious hunger, I'm as inclined to think she's the next Jelena Ostapenko as the next, well, whoever is considered a reliable top women's player. 

And though she lost, in a performance that included a Kournucopia of ill-timed double faults, it still felt like a big win for Muguruza, who has been out of sorts the past year or so since winning Wimbledon in 2017, her second major title. Here's hoping she can build on this return to form.

As entertaining as Kenin's run through the draw was -- her dismissal of Osaka killer CoCo Gauff was masterful -- it was what we learned about her backstory. As a child, she apparently was a tennis darling who charmed her way into playing with various tennis greats over the years, including Kim Clijsters, Jim Courier and Andy Roddick. The photos that surfaced were simply adorable.

She knew a hot man when she saw one -- and he's a fan of hers, too.

Way to go, girl!

Sofia sandwich!

As I said on Thursday, I was hoping for someone new -- named Dominic Thiem -- to win, but would be just as happy to see Novak Djokovic come out on top. So you would think I would be happy with the outcome -- a drama-filled five setter. Yet instead it just reinforced my belief that the NextGen just doesn't have what it takes -- just like when Medvedev came back from two sets down only to lose to Nadal in five at the U.S. Open. 

When Thiem easily won the second and third sets in Melbourne, I went to sleep thinking I was wrong about Thiem -- that he was doing exactly what Wawrinka had done to Djokovic at the French in 2015 and U.S. Open in 2016. But after seeing Nole pulled it out in five, I watched what I had missed and realized Djokovic hadn't starting playing all that well -- Thiem just got nervous and squandered the moment. (Makes me appreciate that much more how del Potro, Wawrinka and Murray weren't too afraid of their own shadows when they had their chances.)

Back on top

Lots of eye candy in Djokovic's box -- most notably brother Djordje ... 

 whose manspread was more exciting than the match.

One down, three to go ...

Great to see Barbora Krejc√≠kova -- a protegee of the late Jana Novotan --  and Nikolas Mektic win the mixed doubles crown, defeating Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. (Did you hear Chris Evert "jokingly" question what kind of influence the kooky American might be having on doubles partner Sofia Kenin?!)

Hubba hubba!

I had the same reaction when Karen Khachanov lost to Nick Kyrgios after fighting back from two sets to love.

Around the net:

Team USA on the move ...

Looks like Jan-Michael Gambill is always the big man on campus -- which comes in handy while covering Florida vs FSU for the Tennis Channel. 

Gonna make you sweat.

Disgraced doubles specialist smiles through the shame.

Lucas Pouille definitely measures up ...


Thiem’s in good hands ...

Closing in on Federer 


jaragon said...

I'm with you on the hot brother

David K said...

there is an article on espn today talking about the 3 way race for the goat-it raises a good point that if all 3 finish within a few slams of each other, it's hard to call just one the goat.
I think Thiem etc. just hit a bit of bad luck in that they are up against 3 legends who have the benefit of modern science that allows them to play longer, I personally can't wait for the "young-uns" to break through and win those slams.
Meanwhile Kenin's victory barely registered in the US, I guess she doesn't have the great narrative in place yet like Gauff

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Tropicalcineaste: I used to believe in the "bad luck to be a tennis player in this era" idea. But del Potro during Roger's salad days. Thiem had it on his racket with little resistance and couldn't seal the deal, so I'm starting to blame the "victims"!

David K said...

you may be right! maybe Thiem is the new Agassi, lose lose lose at Slams then finally break through