I have to admit, I had some serious doubts about Sloane Stephens getting that first final/title anytime in the near future. The past year had its ups and downs as far as results go with losses aplenty and coaching changes.
But any kinds of doubts were erased this week in Washington as the young American won her first career title (in her first career final). She beat Sam Stosur in the semis, then turned around and tagged Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. In the last three sets played between those two matches, Stephens dropped only three games.
That's some serious ballin' right there.
(A side note: That's about how many games I've won in my last three sets. I'm really in a bad funk, right now.)
Extremely well done by Sephens. Here's hoping she can keep it up and live up to her potential.
After Samantha Stosur won the WTA stop in Carlsbad, Calif., in 2013, she immediately went to the top of my favorites list for that year's U.S. Open. I even wrote about it for Bleacher Report and everything. But things weren't meant to be for the '11 Open champ.
And that might actually be a bit of an understatement as she fell in the first round of the tournament to American Vicky Duval. Grand Slams have been a bit tricky for Stosur since her breakthrough. She managed a quarter and a semi in 2012, but nothing that deep since. You can almost mark her down for an early-round upset victim at any Major.
Call me crazy, but I'm getting those old '13 feelings about her again. She's in the quarters in Washington, D.C., this week and is currently riding a seven-match winning streak, having won her second clay-court title of the year in Austria last week. She's playing solid tennis on her favorite surfaces and can hurt almost anyone with her serve and forehand.
Of course, it's super-early in the hard-court swing and Stosur's only two matches into it. But let's say she wins Washington, which from her vantage point as the second seed, is very doable. A 10-match roll would be a perfect thing to build upon as she gets ready for New York.
It's a long summer, but it could be a great one for Sam.
There's nothing like a challenge to get the old blood flowing and the keys moving, I always say!
Let me tell you about one I've just been issued.
While figuring out some writing stuff, namely how to do more of it, my wife issued a challenge to me: Do at least four posts a week here up until the U.S. Open. Seeing as how it looks like I've fallen into doing four a year nowadays, I thought that would be kind of tough.
But you know what? Who says life is all fun and games? I'm going to take the missus up on her challenge and go for it. It should be doable and there are benefits all around: I get to write, you get to read (hopefully). It's a win-win all around!
So stick around here for more posts and the like. There is so much happening in the tennis world right now: TTA? aims to be along for the ride--four times a week!
Would you believe me if I told you I knew Stan Wawrinka and Serena Williams were going to win the French Open a few weeks ago?
Yeah, I wouldn't believe me either, especially without any proof in the form of a blog post to back it up.
So I figured I'd better get my Wimbledon picks up for documentation!
Here you go, for the men, in TTA? patented round-of-16-on fashion:
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Kevin Anderson (14)
Marin Cilic (9) vs. Kei Nishikori (5)
Stan Wawrinka (5) vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Richard Gasquet (21) vs. Milos Raonic (7)
Vasek Pospisil vs. Rafael Nadal (10)
Gilles Muller vs. Andy Murray (3)
Tomas Berdych (8) vs. Gael Monfils (18)
Feliciano Lopez (15) vs. Roger Federer (2)
Djokovic vs. Cilic
Wawrinka vs. Gasquet
Nadal vs. Murray
Berdych vs. Federer
Djokovic over Gasquet
Murray over Federer
Djokovic over Murray
And for the women
Round of 16
Serena Williams (1) vs. Venus Williams (16)
Victoria Azarenka (23) vs. Belinda Bencic (30)
Maria Sharapova (4) vs. Flavia Pennetta (24)
CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Lucie Safarova (6)
Paula Parmentier vs. Angelique Kerber (10)
Sabine Lisicki (18) vs. Simona Halep (3)
Ekaterina Makarova (8) vs. Madison Keys (21)
Elina Svitolina (17) vs. Petra Kvitova (2)
Williams vs. Azarenka
Sharapova vs. Safarova
Kerber vs. Lisicki
Makarova vs. Kvitova
Williams over Sharapova
Kerber over Kvitova
I hope I don't sound like too much of a broken record on this one, but I just can't figure out why the top American men don't play a heavier schedule on the red clay in Europe.
I know that that's a long way from home base. I know there are finances involved. I know that there's the inclination to save oneself for the faster surfaces. But there's so much potential there to do well on the clay, and pick up points and prize money.
Jack Sock just won the U.S. Clay Court Championships and did so in quite impressive fashion, counting among his wins Roberto Bautista Agut—no slouch on the clay at all. Why couldn't Sock hit Munich?
I think if there was ever a surface built for current U.S. number-one John Isner, it's clay. He's battled Rafael Nadal to the brink on it a couple of times, and beaten Roger Federer. I'd think he could've made a dent in that Istanbul draw if he'd played.
It might sound crazy, but I think an American male of this generation could have a better shot at going deeper at the French than Wimbledon. They can't follow the Courier/Agassi/Sampras/Chang model of showing up for the big warm-ups, either winning them or going deep in the draw, then advancing far at Roland Garros, mainly because those four are among the greatest players of all time.
If the commitment's there from this current crop, though, the results will come.
It's been an interesting 2015 so far for Andy Murray.
There was that Australian Open final. There was that return to the "Big 4." There was that stretch of tournaments without a sniff of a semifinal. There were those convincing defeats at the hands of Novak Djokovic.
But I guess you'd have to say the good outweighs the bad, for the most part, especially coming off a season where he was rebounding from back surgery--not really the easiest thing in the world for a professional athlete to deal with.
Anyway, the reason I bring up Andy Murray is because of Rafael Nadal and his upset loss to countryman Fernando Verdasco. Not that Nadal's exactly been a Miami world-beater, but in my mind, his loss makes a Murray run to the finals as close to a sure thing as it gets. I'd say the toughest player left in the bottom half of the draw is Tomas Berdych, and Murray's come through against him with regularity.
I'm not necessarily tapping Murray for the finals once he gets there--I don't know what can derail the Novak Djokovic express--but a title-round tilt can be another notch in what has been an interesting campaign so far.
Over the weekend, Kei Nishikori won his first title of the year in what's essentially become his home court, Memphis. Stan Wawrinka took home his second trophy of the season after winning Rotterdam.
Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych, a fellow member of the top 10, who has been having a very solid season as well.
This has got me wondering: Is this one of the best top tens in men's tennis in years?
You know Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are going to get theirs--and have been doing so for years.
What makes things different nowadays is that the other guys are showing such a high level of mental toughness. Nishikori fought all the way through that Memphis draw. Wawrinka bounced back nicely after failing to defend his Australian Open title. Berdych's consistency has been at a high level all season. And you can't overlook Milos Raonic and David Ferrer: at opposite ends point-in-their-career-wise, but both eager for continues improvement.
The jury's still out on Marin Cilic, who's been battling injury all year. Whenever he does return, he'll have a big battle ahead of him to maintain his spot among the above-mentioned players, who all appear eager for any challenge.
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.