1. I never knew all of this about Timea Bacsinszky, who lost in straight sets to Venus Williams tonight:
After middling results on the lower tiers of the tour, Bacsinszky chose to pursue another career, taking internships to prepare her for hotel management school. She worked in restaurants, bars and kitchens, honing a love of baking she developed as a child while spending time at home with nannies.
“I guess it’s my personality that I love to take care of people,” she said. “Cooking for someone is also giving love.”
But one Tuesday while working as an intern last May, Bacsinszky received an automated email stating that she had made the cutoff to participate in the qualifying of the French Open. She informed her boss, and without even having her rackets strung, drove the five hours from Lausanne, Switzerland, to Paris the next day on her own.
2. This was a great piece by Steve Tignor, describing the experience of watching Jelena Jankovic on Grandstand:
Jankovic has been on tour for 14 years, half of her life, and played 900 WTA matches. At this point, she’s the consummate old pro, happy to be on the road and in front of a crowd. The modest environs of the Grandstand were also well-suited to JJ’s on-court personality. She doesn’t dominate a stadium with her presence, à la Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova. And today she didn’t seem to have the energy for the extended kvetching she’s famous for—10 years ago on this court, I heard JJ yell at a chair umpire in exasperation, “You’ve missed hundreds and hundreds of calls today.” But she still brings the audience in and involves us in her game. She’s more of a smiler, and a chatterer, than she is a fist-pumper.
Early in the match, after Jankovic hit a service winner, two (possibly soused) guys behind her yelled, “Nice serve!” She whipped her head around at them, narrowed her eyes, and, after a couple of seconds, flashed them a smile. Later, she bantered with a woman at one end of the court, and with a couple at the other end; I didn’t hear what JJ said, but she left the fans laughing. After her mistakes, she let out a stream of chatter in Serbian. When one overrule went against her, she barked at the chair umpire, “Why are you always so late?
3. I am still laughing at this.
Here’s what she said about the incident in her presser after it happened:
Q. Can you describe what happened when your racquet and your hair met on a certain point.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, actually it used to happen when I didn’t braid my hair. That’s why I started braiding it. Once it gets to a certain length sometimes it can get stuck in the arm or the racquet. It’s a first, you know, when it’s braided that it’s been stuck that good in my racquet. You know, I still tried to hit the ball. Almost took my head off (smiling).
Q. What was going through your mind as that was happening?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I didn’t know. I was like, Okay, which way is it tangled? I was trying to kind of figure it out. I was like, Maybe if I pull it, it will untangle itself. But it just didn’t happen. I didn’t know whether to just laugh at it or be annoyed or which emotion to have.
Q. Have you had a chance to see a replay?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, I have. It was really tangled up good. I think all my hair would have to come off first before that was going anywhere.
Q. What were your thoughts as you watched the replay?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I just laughed. We women keep it interesting.
Also from the same presser, ugh:
Q. You were quoted a few days ago saying you really haven’t had any conversations with your former ex. Is that still true? Did you get a good luck message at all?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t really think that’s relevant here. I think we should just move on.
4. Ah, social media. Telling us stuff we never needed/wanted to know about our favorite tennis players!
Wow Nick is chasing Vika hard, yes? pic.twitter.com/hSiOvopzaQ
— Kait (@kait_oc) August 27, 2014
1. Ernie senses your vulnerability, Novak. He’s probably not going to do anything about it, but he does sense it:
Q. What did you learn about winning six matches at the French, or playing six matches?
ERNESTS GULBIS: The biggest lesson I learned was that in semifinal against Novak that he felt similar to me. You know, it wasn’t that I walked up on court against somebody who is overwhelming me with confidence. He’s been there a lot of time. But anyway, every time is something different. Every semifinal, every final is something different. Final I never was, so I wish that I can experience that. But just to understand that you can be on the same level, that was the biggest lesson. Because I was feeling extremely tired because of the heat and because of the condition that day, because it was really humid and hot the first day of the whole two weeks. He felt the same. The first two sets I lost. I thought, That’s it. The guy is a machine. But in the third set I saw him already breaking down the same as I did. So that’s it about me. Yeah, even more confidence.
2. I’m absolutely gutted for Steve Johnson, who was forced to retire due to severe all-body cramps in the fourth set of his match against Ito today. He was up two-sets-to-one with an early break in the fourth when they came on, and it was painful to watch him writhe around on court in agony. He took game penalties and tried to buy time, but it was just not possible to continue.
Q. What was the sensation when you tried to play through it and he was serving?
STEVE JOHNSON: It sucked. That’s the first time I felt pretty useless on the tennis court. I’m a competitive guy. I’ll lay it on the line as much as I can. I really would not have liked to retire from that match, but physically I just couldn’t walk. I mean, if I could have walked I would still be out there. I would have competed. I mean, it’s a tough one to swallow for me because I’m just so competitive.
Johnson’s ranking has risen about 110 places this year, and after watching him at both the Citi Open and Winston I can attest that it is really fun to watch him play and compete. He had a great draw here, and I was sure he could win a couple of rounds.
It was another disappointment for the American men, who I was cautiously optimistic about before the tournament. I really did think that Donald Young, Jack Sock and Johnson–who have all had great summers–could at least make the third round.
Now, it’s just Smyczek, Isner, and Querrey. Tomorrow, Isner plays Struff, Querrey plays GGL, and Smyczek plays doubles. So we’ll see.
3. Sloane Stephens had shown signs of life earlier this summer, but she was just absolutely, positively awful in her loss to Larsson today. She hit 61 errors and looked like the court was the last place she wanted to be.
Sloane’s mental state is a popular topic of conversation, but it is also still an interesting one for me. I actually found myself agreeing with Chrissie today as she talked about the fact that Sloane’s “don’t care” attitude is a defense mechanism–that way she doesn’t give her all and then still fail anyway.
I guess part of me can’t buy that someone with that much talent and who has worked that hard and gotten so far in her career could really and truly, deep down, just not give a crap.
Maybe she’ll grow up and get it together. Maybe she won’t. We’ll have to wait and see. It’s just yet another example of how mental this game really is.
4. Just abysmal stuff from Radwanska. I think it’s time to change things up to make another step forward, because she is stagnating and soon to go tumbling backwards. As much as I like the guy we call #hotcoach, perhaps it’s time for a new voice to be added to the mix.
5. Thiem is just the best. The mega best.
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) August 28, 2014
6. Random tweets I fav’d:
Sharapova has enough money, she could just buy a forehand. Just buy one. Somebody must have one spare. Graf isn't using hers.
— Andrew (@BackSwings) August 27, 2014
Cool to see Donald Young again signed up for #USOpen mixed doubles with Taylor Townsend, who he's known since she was an infant.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 27, 2014
Stephens: "It's just a little speed bump. I'll work through it and get better."
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) August 27, 2014
"She had HEAVY problems but overcame them"—Russian Eurosport commentator on Halep's transformation from a journeywoman to a top player.
— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) August 27, 2014
7. The end of that Petko/Puig match was FUN. I don’t have any more insight than that. I just want to watch it again.
Also, kudos to Sousa and Anderson for surviving in a 5th set tiebreak on a hot day.