Things We Learned on Day 12 of the 2014 US Open


1. I was happy to see that Tomas Berdych tweeted an apology for his behavior towards Louise Engzell from yesterday. I hope he delivers an apology in person to her as well:

2. Judy Murray is a big Stefan Kozlov believer (I agree with her!):

3. That was a really sad, upsetting way for Peng Shuai’s first Grand Slam semifinal to end. Just awful to watch.

As for the debate about the rules, I do think the rules need re-examining regarding MTOs for cramping. It seems arbitrary to single out cramping and not offer medical treatment when it’s not necessarily an issue of physical conditioning. And I think I agree with this:

I was really impressed by Wozniacki’s reaction to the situation. She didn’t make a big deal about what some perceived to be an unfair situation for her, and when Peng collapsed after coming back out to play again, her only reaction was concern.

4. I wish Ekaterina Makarova would’ve been able to make the match more interesting against Serena Williams, but Serena turned in a pretty flawless performance. Also, Serena has once again rebounded from a rough stretch, reaching her fourth consecutive US Open final. I hope Wozniacki can play her best tennis to make things interesting, but Serena is still the heavy favorite. To cap off her 2014 with a Slam title would salvage Serena’s difficult season.


1. There were about 15 minutes during the first set of the Wozniacki-Peng match where I was absolutely convinced that Peng was going to win the match. She came out playing so incredibly well, Woz seemed a step slow, and I could just see The Narrative: Bestie Edition absolutely blowing up in our faces. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Of course, you all know what happened next Wozniacki got stronger as Peng got, quite literally, weaker, and we ended up with one of the most bizarre, disturbing, and distressful endings to a match that I’ve ever seen.

A few thoughts:

-I understand the desire for strict and clear rules in regards to MTOs in tennis. Trust me. I get frustrated when I feel like the rules are being abused and the healthy opponent is being put at a disadvantage.

However, I think it’s important to remember that we are dealing with the health of humans. If in extreme situations it takes a longer evaluation period to figure out what is going wrong and how to treat it, I’m okay with that. There is no subbing a player in during tennis matches, and the stakes are so high that it seems unfair to not give a player a chance to actually get a minimal amount of help so that they can keep competing if at all possible. (For their sake, and also for the paying audience and broadcasters.) There has to be a little bit of flex room in the rules to ensure the best care. Not every situation is the same.

-The doctor should absolutely, positively have the right to call a match if a player is as sick as Peng was. The fact that she went back out there to compete and claimed in press that she doesn’t even remember Woz coming over to her is just terrifying.

-I also agree with Amy, Ben, and Lindsay that the game should be forfeited if you need a MTO during. Or at least a couple of points. There has to be some sort of exchange to discourage the rules from being abused, plus an incredibly long mid-game break is simply not at all fair to the opponent.

-I get that cramps aren’t considered an injury and everyone’s all blahblahblah fitnessfitnessfitness, but seriously, every body isn’t created the same and every situation isn’t the same. Cramps can often be the indicator of something much more serious, as we saw today with Peng. So many players with cramps fake another injury to get a MTO anyway, it seems like they should just go ahead and make it okay by the rules, even if the trainer visits for cramps is capped at one. After all, better safe than sorry.

2. This is such a great piece on Serena by S.L. Price. Apparently she’s a catfish:

It’s not clear when, exactly, Serena Williams decided to create a grown human being. But for some five weeks, a period that encompassed a disastrous loss at the French Open and her bizarre breakdown during a Wimbledon doubles match in July, Williams kept herself busy assembling a woman. Gorgeous. Tan. Part Latina, maybe. She named her Heidi. Williams worked up a Facebook page, complete with bio and photos, and even provided Heidi with her own French phone number.

Then she attacked. Carefully. Knowing that her hitting partner and “brother” of eight years, Sascha Bajin, would recognize her texting style, Williams made sure to tap out flirty messages with non-Serena-like spelling and phrases. And suddenly Bajin’s phone was filling up with texts from “Heidi,” who somehow got his number from “a friend” and yearned to meet him, go to dinner, anything. “Oh, my God. This went on for almost a month and a half. It was so detailed,” Bajin says. “I mean, there was some serious master planning.”

On a more serious note, I love this quote:

“I feel more proud than you can ever imagine that I am black and I am in this sport,” Serena says. “I feel great about it. At the same time, I’m human. I’m woman. I’m powerful. I’m minority. I’m not only black. I’m playing for women. We fight for equal prize money, we fight for equal rights. I mean, I’m not just fighting one war here. It’s much bigger than that. And that’s what I’m proud to be a part of — not just for one group of people.”

3. I previewed the Battle of the Besties for Bleacher Report, and also examined Nishikori’s chances against Djokovic.

4. Bruno Soares and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles crown on their sixth match point against Santiago Gonzalez and Abigail Spears, who also lost in the final here last year.

Some great excerpts from their presser:

Q. I know obviously in men’s doubles and women’s doubles and mixed there is lots of change and go so forth. Can either of you tell me how many partners you have had in your careers? And also, kind of what’s at work? Is it scheduling? Availability? Are you looking for a partner that does certain things well that go with yours? And do doubles teammates have to like each other?

BRUNO SOARES: In my case, yeah. There is a few guys that can do it business-only situation. I can’t. I mean, I have to get along well with my partners off court because I think it’s very important. But, I mean, I don’t know how many partners I played, but it’s like a relationship. It’s not easy. I mean, you practice, I mean, on men’s and women’s doubles, basically 24 hours together with your partner. In mixed it’s different because you play four times a year. But it’s pretty much the same. You’re looking for someone that complements you, plays on the same side, other side that you like to play. I mean, we tried to keep the same point. I guess now Sania, she will accept my offer to play Australia.

SANIA MIRZA: We have to win. My standards are very high. We have to win a slam. (Laughter.) I’m joking.

BRUNO SOARES: It’s like this. It changes. It’s normal. You start trying it with somebody and you think it’s going to be good but it just doesn’t work the way it is. It’s normal to change.

5. The fact that this picture exists is just way too perfect:

6. Serena was in GODDESS MODE today, but kudos to Makarova for her fantastic tournament. I hope she continues to build on this. She’ll be ranked No. 15 after the tournament, and I’d love to see her make a push for the top 10.

Q. Many of us in the media love that phrase you used earlier about being in the shadow. Do you think you’ll still be in the shadow now, or maybe not?

EKATERINA MAKAROVA: I think yes. (Smiling.)

Q. You’re okay with that?

EKATERINA MAKAROVA: Yeah. Perfectly okay. (Smiling.)

7. I’m so, so excited for Wozniacki and Serena to face off in this final, and that is just a big compliment to Woz and how much she’s improved lately because I actually think it will be a fun match.

Plus, after all of the upsets, the two players who played at the highest level all summer face off in the final, and they just happen to be two of the most famous players on the WTA and great friends. Hard to ask for more.

8. Tweets I favorited: