Bienvenue! My name is Jamie and I like golf. I grew up playing tennis in eastern Massachusetts, but fell in love with the game after watching Se Ri Pak defeat Jenny Chausiriporn at the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. I studied Hospitality & Tourism Management (with a focus on Event, Tourism, and Convention Management) at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tennis is my first love, but golf is a very close second. I believe style should equal substance, and the latter is nothing without the former.
18 year old Taiwan native Kai-Chen Chang is ascending the WTA ranks quickly as she continues her first season out of juniors. Chang overshadowed by other juniors like Junior Wimbledon champion Noppwan Lertcheewakarn, KCC has begun to find her form, culminating in a 2R upset of World #1 Dinara Safina this week at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. After her 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 victory Chang has become the first player from Chinese Taipei to defeat a world #1.
Chang has a strong baseline game, hitting out and aggressively like many players coming up in her generation. She appears to have one key ingredient many of her Asian comrades lack, a fearless killer instinct. In her 2R match against Safina she was on the ropes on many occasions, but never stopped playing her game. She was down a couple set points in the opening set, but fought them off to tough out a tiebreak victory against a struggling Dinara Safina. Then after losing the second, and going down a break in the third she continued her strong fight.
KCC has a killer forehand, and that’s definitely her best asset. She’s a great mover, and a lot taller then the other Asian players on tour. Her serve could use some work, and her net game is atrocious. These are two things she can certainly work on, and should be in the top 100 very, very soon.
KCC has won once on the ITF tour, in 2008 in Kurume a $50K event. She has had her most success in the last few months. In July she made a semifinal of another 50K event in Lexington, then a few weeks later she qualified for her first grand slam main draw at the U.S. Open. In the opening round she beat 25th seed Kaia Kanepi for her then biggest win in her career, before falling in three sets to Magdalena Rybarikova.
She’s followed that up for qualifying in her next three WTA events in Guangzhou, Seoul, and this week in Tokyo. She takes on Iveta Benesova in the 3R.
After what felt like countless three set losses to top-30 players, Kimiko Date-Krumm finally came full circle today, upsetting 5th seed and 30th ranked Alisa Kleybanova in the 2nd round of the Hansol Korean Open earlier Thursday. Kimiko had to fight off a match point in the second set to Kleybanova at 5-3, to overcome the big babe Russian, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 to advance to her first tour quarterfinal in nearly 13 years.
Date-Krumm had won her first WTA main draw match since her comeback began last year, when she beat Korean wildcard Ye-Ra Lee in the opening round 6-3, 6-4. Lee, a former top 200 player who rarely plays outside of Korea, had been battling injury problems this year, and has dropped outside the top 500.
None the less Date-Krumm has a lot to be proud of. She has suffered some heartbreaking three set losses this year to Kaia Kanepi, Sabine Lisicki, Caroline Wozniacki, and to Anabel Medina-Garrigues last week.
It’s going to bet only tougher in the next round as she takes on top seeded Daniela Hantuchova who dispatched Chanelle Scheepers 6-1, 6-1 today.
I had a feeling Date-Krumm might tough it out against Kleybanova, a huge hitter, with her slower shots, and super flat game. Alisa is a tall girl, and getting down to her low balls is not her strength. Her blowing another lead is certainly troubling for a player who has gone downhill since her SF loss to Sharapova (where she lead midway through the 3rd set).
The story around the tennis world is of course Serena’s unfortunate outburst and the the most famous foot fault call in tennis history. Although Serena’s actions are inexcusable, there is something to be said about the most inconsistent call in the sport of tennis. The foot fault is a common occurrence in pro tennis and how strict these judges are in calling these things should be looked at. Serena (along with her sister) is notorious for standing so close to the line on her serve. If you’re going to call foot faults do so the entire match, not on the crucial 2nd serve points. Simple as that. Anyone who believes that this was the only time she foot faulted in that match is absolutely nuts.
For your viewing pleasure, here are some other players who have and have not reacted so well to bad calls.
Bruno Echagaray loses it after being called on a 2nd serve foot fault on MATCH point in a 50K challenger against USO darling Jesse Witten. Tell me if you see a difference between the 1st and 2nd serves.
Roddick keeps his cool after his foot fault call.
Safin is not very happy after his foot fault call.
Not a foot fault , but a crazy reaction from Mikhail Youzhny.
The last straw for me was hearing Chris Folwer talk about 114 ranked WC Vania King upset of 15th seeded Australian Samantha Stosur as “not a youngster.” Yes, Vania King has been around for quite awhile, and received her first WC into the U.S. Open in 2004 (qualifying WC). The fact of the matter is, Vania is ONLY 20 years old! I’d say she’s still a youngster!
She may seem like a journeywoman, but she’s still progressing and growing. She broke into the top 50 at the age of 16, won her first title that year (2005 Bangkok) and played the bulk of her Fed Cup in those years. So, yes she’s fallen on tougher times. She isn’t even old enough to drink!
So, perhaps we should give Miss King a break, and really enjoy the fact that she’s made the 3rd round a grand slam for the first time. She’s only 20 years old for pete’s sake!
On the flipside French veteran Amelie Mauresmo joined Sam Stosur in the loser’s circle after a 6-4, 6-0 whomp by French Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak. These upsets are especially disappointing considering the huge strides these players have made during the Olympus U.S. Open Series.
Agi Radwanska also lost to Adidas beauty Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko is playing her first tournament as an Adidas clone, after being dropped from the Stella McCartney line (who now has Caroline Wozniacki as her muse). It seems to have spark some added fuel to the fire for Kirilenko who’ll need all of that and more when she takes on Li Na of China in the 3rd round.
Li Na crushed a furious Michelle Larcher de Brito who moaned, squealed, and screamed through the 2R clash. Any unforced error of of Li Na’s racket equaled a fist pump and cheer from Larcher de Brito. I found her on court antics disgusting, and I don’t care if you’re 16 or not, you need to act professional, if you want to play professional tennis. She only had two winners this match, yet still found a way to fist pump/cheer every other point. Go figure.
For many top players, the opening round of a grand slam is a nervous affair. We saw Venus Williams struggle against Vera Dushevina last night, earlier today Dinara Safina was on the ropes against the Australian qualifier Olivia Rogowska, and in year’s past we’ve seen Camille Pin take Maria Sharapova to extra innings. Needless to say a random player, taking advantage of a nervous top seed, and nearly upsetting them is almost commonplace. Almost always, the top player shows why they are a top player, and comes through even when it looks impossible. Unfortunately for the 11th seed Ana Ivanovic, she wasn’t able to find the extra gear against the always dangerous Kateryna Bondarenko (who defeated Venus Williams earlier this summer).
Perhaps it was the sudden shock of being in this situation to begin with. Ana started the match strongly enough, and seemed to be in total control when she won 9 of the first 12 games, and lead the match 6-2, 3-1. Then something switched. Ana, who was once relentlessly punished her lower ranked opponents (she had never before lost in the opening round of a grand slam), froze up. Her forehand was finding the net more then it was finding the court, and Kateryna grew in confidence. Before you knew it, Kateryna strung together 9 of the next 10 games, and now the younger Bondarenko lead the match 2-6, 6-3, 4-1, which was a lead of two breaks.
Showing her true grit, Ana seemed to get things back under control, and was about to set things in place, puts things in order and finish off this match. Even though it wasn’t perfect, there was no doubt in my mind that Ana was going to pull off the third set tiebreak, and live another day. When she had a match point at 6-5, it seemed like it was over. When Kateryna clawed back and gave herself a match point at 7-6, and double faulted, I don’t think anyone thought she’d be able to recover. The true grit it seems, was actually within Kateryna, despite the double fault, she won the next two points (fittingly won on another error off the Ivanovic forehand), and claimed the biggest scalp in her grand slam career.
Where Ana goes from here is anybody’s guess. She’s fallen out of the top 10, and does not look like she’s gaining form anytime soon. Perhaps she should take a page out of her compatriot Jelena Jankovic’s book and take some time off. JJ did so after Wimbledon and has come out strong, and she won swiftly today.
Ivanovic wasn’t alone in being a seed going down today. The 16th seed Virgine Razzano has had a career best seasons so far, but Yanina Wickamayer’s comeback from injury seems to be going very well as she pulled off the upset in straights. Kleybanova lost her second straight match since her semifinal finish at Toronto where she beat Ana’s rival Jelena Jankovic, tumbling out to Petra Kvitova (incidentally her other loss since the SF was to Wickamayer). Agnes Szavay’s (pictured) come back to the top 20 was halted by another player looking to get back there Israeli Shahar Peer.
From what I’ve read so far, the early reaction to Venus Williams’s dress is a mixed bag. I personally love this dress, the bright pink looks great against her skin tone, the racing stripe is awkward, but this dress certainly needed something in the front. The side pleat-situation gives Venus some curves, which she could definitely use. I think the pink is a great color for the U.S. Open too. It’s just nice to see Venus in something new.
Dress aside Venus needed all of her game to fend off the charge of Russian Vera Dushevina. Dushevina took charge of a lethargic Venus from the get go, and really displayed some fine tennis against the much favored American. Dushevina gave herself a chance to serve out the match at 7-6, 5-4, but was unable to convert. That set off 7 games in a row for Venus to get her to 4-0 in the third set. Vera, not ready to give up just yet, fought all the way back to 4-3, before Venus closed her out 6-3 in the third.
According to the Australian media, Ai Sugiyama is set to retire at the end of 2009. The Japanese veteran has played over 60 grand slams, and has played more grand slams then any active player. Although Sugiyama has struggled lately in singles, she’s still keeping herself relevant in doubles. Partnering Daniela Hantuchova, they made the finals at the Australian Open (saving match points en route against the #1 ranked doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber), before falling to the Williams Sisters.
Not much was expected of her against the red hot Samantha Stosur, the 15th seed, who’s continued her incredible year through the U.S. Open Series. Despite going up a break and serving at 4-3, Sugiyama was unable to finish off the hard hitting, and epic topspin that Stosur was producing. In the end Stosur won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, not a bad way to end your grand slam career. Hopefully, even if she were to retire in singles, she’ll continue to play doubles. She’s a workhorse, and always seems to be enjoying herself out there, a true role model for the sport which is often inflicted by spoiled brats, who never seem to enjoy their court time.
17th seed Amelie Mauresmo looked to be cruising against young German Tatjana Malek taking what seemed to be an insurmountable lead of 6-2, 5-1. In what seemed to be a blink of the eye, Malek had climbed her way up to 5-4, and looked to threaten to take the second set away from the veteran Frenchwoman. Amelie who’s not had a great year, shown some great signs of life in defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova last week in New Haven. Amelie composed herself and finished off the German and will face Canadian Aleksanda Wozniak in the next round.
In the biggest surprise of the day 210 ranked qualifier Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei upset the 25th seed Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 to win her first main draw match at a grand slam. This is actually Kai-Chen’s first ever grand slam, and is surprisingly the only player from Taiwan to qualify for the main draw (higher ranked Yung-Jan Chan & Su-Wei Hsieh both fell in qualifying 3rd and 1st Rd respectively). Another Asian qualifier Yurika Sema’s upset bid against Anna Chakvetadze took a halt after she won the 1st set, falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Another upset falling short was that of Meghann Shaughnessy, unable to defeat Daniela Hantuchova [pictured]. Hantuchova won 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Other seeded winners today were (2)Serena Williams, (7)Vera Zvonareva, (8)Vika Azarenka, (10)Flavia Pennetta, (12)Agnieszka Radwanska, (14)Marion Bartoli, (18)Na Li, (20)Anabel Medina-Garrigues, (26)Francesca Schiavona, and (31)Elena Vesnina.
28th seed Sybille Bammer was the only other seed to join Kaia Kanepi in losing on opening day. This ruins the epic rematch of Bammer and Serena Williams. Bammer has beaten Serena twice, including once this summer.
Amateur Ricky Fowler at the U.S. Amateur Championships, on the right Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
143rd ranked Nicole Vaidisova’s loss to the 109th ranked and 6th seed Taiwaneese Yung-Jan Chan in the opening round of U.S. Open Qualifying on paper appears to be the expected result. Vaidisova is currently enduring the worst stretch of tennis in her career, and will soon find herself competing in the minor leagues, ITF Challengers, as her ranking will no longer be high enough to get into regular WTA tour events.
This is a curious case for a player that was once so good, that some debated her date of birth, saying she was much older then she actually was. The haters will come when you experience success at that young of age, and as quickly as she did, reaching her career high rank of #7 at the tender age of 18 (the first year she was no longer restricted from the Age Eligibility Rule).
This video, taken in the WTA event in Prague during her opening round 7-5, 6-2 loss to Alla Kudryavtseva shows just how bad it’s gotten.
At the end of her fine season in 2007, the Miami Herald reporter that Nikki had applied for a marriage lisence with then 29 year old Radek Stepanek, who was the ex-fiance of Martina Hingis (this when Hingis was going through a slump of her own). Although these rumors were later proved to be false, Stepanek and Vaidisova are still currently a couple. Has Vaidisova changed priorities?
Nicole has a big game, big serve, big ground strokes, and if she can find her game, she can certainly be a factor on the WTA tour again. Whether she wants to, is an entirely different question. She’s only 20, she has plenty of time.
What do you think? Can and will Nicole Vaidisova return to form?