Things We Learned on Day Eight of the US Open


1. A tennis match can turn on a dime. Simona Halep was up set point on her own serve to force a decider when her match against Flavia Pennetta was suspended due to rain. After several hours, she came back, got broken in two separate attempts to serve out the set, and lost the set (and the match) in a tiebreak. It was an impressive performance from Pennetta, but a missed opportunity for Halep.

2. Angry Richard Gasquet is hilarious.

3. Props to Gasquet for making his first Grand Slam quarterfinal since Wimbledon in 2007. Particularly in the manner he did, beating Milos Raonic in five sets. Gasquet’s five-set record going into the match was an abysmal 3-9, which makes his win today that much more impressive. Gasquet has quietly become a mainstay in the top 10 since November (with the exception of one week in 2013), and his consistency has finally paid off at a bigger event.

4. Chrissie was in fine form tonight:

Juan José

1. There’s a reason why Camila Giorgi had to qualify for this US Open: the young Italian was cruising in the early stages of her fourth round match against countrywoman Roberta Vinci. She was up a break, 4-1. Things seemed quite easy for Camila: she was blasting away to the corners of the court (just like against Wozniacki), and finding space with ease. However, she only managed to win two more games after that. What happened?

First, Roberta Vinci, a super smart veteran, realized that this would be a short match for her if she didn’t find ways to get Giorgi on the run. So Roberta started using her trademark backhand slice with a little more angle, and she looked to attack with her own forehand. At the same time, Giorgi seemed to freeze a bit, perhaps realizing that a win (and a spot in the quarterfinals of a slam) was well within reach. The youngster lost control of the match and in quite convincing manner.

I’m still not quite sure how far Camila Giorgi can go. She says she wants to be No. 1, and she sure has some of the tools necessary to get there. But at the same time, she’s sorely lacking other very important ones, like tactical awareness, the ability to defend long enough to turn around the balance of power in points, the ability to adjust to mid-match if the opponent is trying something different, and finally, her shot selection isn’t super polished yet.

So, we gonna see.

2. The other day, Podmaster General asked me who Simona Halep reminded me of. I honestly had no idea what to say. That is, until today. As I watched Flavia Pennetta overcome the surprise package of the last few months, I realized that the answer to Podmaster’s question was right before my eyes: Halep reminds me a lot of Flavia. Neither is physically overpowering, both seem to lack some firepower, both compete well, and play smart tennis. Watching the latter stages of their match was like watching mirror images play each other.

So I guess we can slate Halep for a long stretch of dominance in Acapulco?

3. All my thoughts about Tommy Robredo’s extremely surprising straight sets win over Roger Federer can be found here.

4. Rafael Nadal’s match against Philipp Kohlschreiber was extremely entertaining. The quirky German gave the ATP Race leader everything he had … and then some. Kohls consistently found great angles with both his forehand and backhand, served with a ton of precision, and never really stopped fighting like a madman out there. Rafael Nadal struggled mightily with his return of serve, and his forehand was flying on him. Moreover, at one point he actually had a worse break point conversion rate than Roger Federer: 1 for 17. Still, Nadal has shown us throughout the years that he’s unrivaled in terms of problem-solving during matches, and he always finds ways to improve on something right in front of our eyes. By the end of his four-set win, Nadal was returning much better, his forehands were landing mostly within the confines of the court, and he ended up converting the last four break chances he had.

Of course, the reward for such a performance will be a clash against Tommy Robredo and not Roger Federer. The 12-time Major champ will surely fancy his chances in that match: he’s won all six matches against his countryman.

5. Richard Gasquet is into the quarterfinals of a Slam! The planets are aligning! That was quite a battle against Milos Raonic, and I was impressed by the fact that Gasquet withstood the physical challenge of playing such a long match without any of his classic leg cramps or worse.

Sadly for Reeshard, up next is the resurgent David Ferrer, who has an 8-1 edge in their H2H. But hey – he’s moved past the Round of 16 for only the second time in his life! Rejoice, France!


1. I was impressed by how Riske handled herself vs. Hantuchova. She didn’t win the match, but she certainly didn’t shy away from the occasion. I liked her gumption (to be as patronizing as possible) and was impressed at how she kept fighting and didn’t shy away from the big stage even though she was such an underdog. I’m going to keep an eye on her in the future–I think she’s going to be able to build on this event.

2. I still don’t understand why they pushed Vika/Ana to tomorrow. I mean, I have my guesses. Primarily, I think they wanted to keep it on Ashe because there aren’t that many big stars left on the women’s side, and yet they need to find 2-3 women’s matches/day to put on Ashe. With this being a match-up of two of the higher-profile WTAers left, they didn’t want to lose their chance to showcase it. (Or be forced to –horror–showcase another match!)

Also, they thought it was going to rain more, so since they didn’t want to move them to another court, they decided to send them home early so they could put them first-up the next day.

Still, it’s unfair to Vika and Ana that they didn’t just put that match on any court they could today so they could stay on par with their draw.

 3. Congrats to Daniela Hantuchova, who made her second career US Open quarterfinal–11 years after her first!

I didn’t realize that Hantuchova actually came into this slam on a six-match losing streak in Grand Slam matches–she hasn’t gotten past the first round of a slam since the AO in 2012!! She got an easy draw this week, but she took advantage, and that’s not always something you can say she’s done in her career.

Just look at this Grand Slam chart:

Screen shot 2013-09-02 at 5.47.28 PM

4. Here’s my take on Serena, Sloane, and narratives for Sports on Earth.

5. Take a bow, Richard Gasquet. It’s great to see him improve upon his 1-15 record in fourth-round matches. Now he’s into a quarterfinal, where he’s actually undefeated in his career! (Yes, just 1-0, but still.)

8 Responses

  1. Patrick of La Verne
    Patrick of La Verne September 3, 2013 at 7:11 am |

    Chrissie: “[Nadal]’s won this tournament many times before”

    Well, you know the old tennis saying, “E unum, pluribus.”

    1. Tamara Glenny
      Tamara Glenny September 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm |

      Unfortunately it would have to be “ex uno, plus”—”e” becomes “ex” when followed by a vowel; when a noun is governed by a preposition (such as “ex”), it takes the ablative case, which in the case of “unum” is “uno”; and here the “pluribus,” which is the ablative of the Latin word for “many”—has to revert to the nominative, which is “plus.” I’m sure you needed to know that!

  2. Master Ace
    Master Ace September 3, 2013 at 9:06 am |

    As someone posted on twitter, Hantuchova struggled in the qualifying draw : Sanchez, Duval, Glushko and Riske. NO disrespect to the players mentioned but you do not see these names in WTA tour events on a consistent basis and at this point in her career, this is what Hantuchova needed.

    Juan Jose,
    Yes, Richard “Red Shoes” Gasquet showed some guts in winning a 5 setter but at the same time, Raonic fitness played a role and his ace count was either 3 or 5 in the final set. I have not looked at the final stats in detail at the moment. Believe it or not, Federer match moved to Armstrong was a factor on why he lost in straight sets. He said that he practiced on that court but that is a different animal than match conditions and he did not make the proper adjustment and Robredo is used to playing on the outer courts. If that match was played in Ashe, Federer wins in 4 sets.

  3. Sabey
    Sabey September 3, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    Lindsay, your piece on Serena/Sloane and narratives is great! The best I have read so far on the subject.

  4. RZ
    RZ September 3, 2013 at 10:15 am |

    I thought the best match of day 8 was the Bryan Bros – Fleming/Marray match. The first set included some of the best doubles points I’ve seen. I was rooting for the Brits to take it to a 3rd set since I wanted to keep watching.

    1. Faye
      Faye September 4, 2013 at 4:16 am |

      agree! that 1st set tiebreak was incredible!

  5. Max
    Max September 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

    Riske’s strategy while returning Hantuchova’s serve was :

    1. LAME.
    2. She was daring Daniela to hit a certain spot as she wasn’t covering it at all yet Daniela always responded to the challenge with success.

    It may work on the ITF level but someone should tell her she’s playing WTAs and Grand Slams now.

  6. RZ
    RZ September 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

    Juan Jose, I’m curious as to why you and other tennis columnists/bloggers often refer to Richard Gasquet as “Reeshard” or “Reeshie.” I get that’s the French pronunciation, but I almost never see anyone, for example, write “Daveed” when referring to David Ferrer based on Spanish pronunciation. Has Gasquet made a big deal of how his first name is pronounced in interviews or something like that?

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