Tennis Prose



US Open Qualies: Katie Swan Samprases Her Way To Victory


Katie Swan stepped up to the service line, it was match point 40-30 at 5-3 in the third against Deborah Chiesa.

At the line, about to serve Swan suddenly began to lightly cough, as if to clear her throat. It made me cough to clear my throat, hoping she would fix her physical malfunction at the most inopportune moment. Or maybe this was something else. Maybe it was a clever stall tactic? Then Swan paused a few seconds, still bothered by something. Though she was in some kind of adversity, she kept a calm, composed demeanor.

Then things got worse. The 19 year old from Great Britain, ranked 179, bent over and vomited a, please pardon the colorful details but full disclosure is a tenet of this site, a yellow liquid, onto the court, Pete Sampras style. The young Brit waved the ballkids over to towel up the mess which they did. Another brought her a water bottle to clear the aftertaste. The umpire came down to make sure she was okay.

After about a two minute delay, during which the crowd sat in frozen silence, Swan stepped up again to serve. There were no exhortations or applause, because everybody was too stunned by what just happened. But everybody watching at court at court 15 knew what was going to happen next.

Swan is no Pete Sampras and did not serve an ace or even a second serve ace like we all remember in the famous Alex Corretja match. No, Swan double-faulted and then bungled the next two points and the game. But she was still ahead 5-4 on serve in the third.

Deborah Chiesa, a 22 year old from Trento, Italy, ranked 180, seized her second life in the match and raced to a 40-love lead in the next game. Just a point away from 5-5.

But Swan, who remained stoic and showed no negative emotion through this disastrous five minutes, somehow managed to regain the brand of tennis that got her to the match point.

She hit a winner, then Chiesa double-faulted and then Swan hit another winner on the line in the corner. Deuce.

Both players are baseliners and all the rallies were duels from the back court. I did not see one volley in the two games I saw. From deuce at 5-4, Swan and Chiesa battled to two or three deuces until finally Swan prevailed. Again her reaction after surviving this epic drama was pure stoic. At the next the two combatants shook hands with kindness. Chiesa asked her what happened and Swan explained as they walked to the chair ump stand.

This was the only time I ever saw any player throw up before match point. This was the second match I decided to stop to watch, a few minutes after leaving Kecmanovic vs Opelka which was on serve in the first. I saw Swan was two points away from victory at 30-all and decided to watch her try to close it out. In the end, Swan showed some Pete Sampras qualities in how she managed to escape a pressure cooker US Open match with uncommon grace and poise.


I spoke with one of the US Open hitting partners who hits with both men and women pros during the Open and he noted some differences. He said most of the women hit the same, flat and hard and few have any variety. He says if any player slices or uses drop shots or kick serves it will break their rhythm. He said the women rarely practice with each other and often complain about things. He said, Diatchenko hits the ball extremely flat and hard and he had to take a step back to gain extra time to handle the pace. He mentioned another American veteran who was not nice at all and showed no manners.

He said the men players are much friendlier and engaging, citing Donald Young as one of the nicest.

A very recognizable figure at the US Open will be out of a USTA job after this tournament.


Danielle Lao, the Little Giant, who blew match points in her heartbreaking third round quali match last year, is back again this year and won today 63 63 vs French. Veteran Lao is still looking to persevere to her first main draw of a major.

Vitalia Diatchenko lost to Muchova 16 76 16.

American teen sensation Coco Gauff, 14, lost to Heather Watson 64 61. Gauff won Roland Garros juniors this year and lost in the US Open girls final last year to Anisimova.  Gauff, of Delray Beach, FL, earned her first WTA points earlier this year at an ITF in Florida and is currently ranked 926 in the WTA.





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  • Duke Carnoustie · August 22, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Wow is Katrina Adams done? That is great news indeed!

    Good scoop on Diatchenko, who lost and can now get ready for her wedding I presume.

    Harry beat Krajinovic in a match in which he was jawing with the chair umpire. Also the handshake was a curt one from Kraj. You never see a friendly shake with Harry; seems like the entire Tour hates him. Medvedev tomorrow so both guys may want to fight!

  • catherine · August 23, 2018 at 2:42 am

    Scoop – did someone turn down that guy as a hitting partner ? Same old stuff. Women do practise together – I’ve seen them doing it. But it would make sense for many high ranked players to hit with a man because that’s better for their games. And quite a few women hit slices and dropshots, just maybe not with him.

    I bet guys complain a lot too – just do it differently. And as for the men being friendlier and more engaging, it’s possible most women don’t want to buddy around with some guy who’s a casual hitting partner and not someone they really know. He should understand that.

    So I’d take those comments with a pinch of salt.

    Katie Swan is off the production line of most British women players who wouldn’t know a volley if they fell over one – which they probably would, it being a foreign object. A friend of mine watched some women’s doubles at W’don not so long ago, featuring a British pair, juniors I think, and they went through two long sets without volleying once. Sad.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 23, 2018 at 8:12 am

    No, not Kat Adams Duke. Who is the second most visible USTA presence at the US Open?

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 23, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Catherine, he said the men don’t complain at all. Totally different animals. He has the experience and he shared it, it’s up to you if you want to accept it. Yes some of the women do practice together but only a small minority. I haven’t seen any practice together yet this week.

  • catherine · August 23, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Scoop –
    It doesn’t make that much sense for women to practise together regularly if there’s a male hitting partner around because women need someone who hits harder etc than they do. So most women will either have a male h/p on their teams or look for one at tournaments.

    I’m always suspicious about these kind of comments because they fit a stereotype of women players as bitchy, unhelpful and unfriendly. On the whole I don’t think it’s true. Men socialise and behave in a different way around other men. Women, in the situation we’re talking about, are probably a little more wary.

  • dan markowitz · August 23, 2018 at 9:37 am

    A few shocking results. Firstly, Opelka loses to a guy younger than him and ranked just inside top 200. That’s a bad loss. Mattel-Sands got dusted after she was upset about USTA not granting her a wild card into Main Draw. And 14 year old Coco Grauff got dusted by Heather Watson. Not exactly a Capriati or even Bellis-like debut for young Ms. Grauff.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 23, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Catherine, I could go into more details about what this hitting partner told me and other tales but I won’t, you can believe what you want. But I will say that I discussed this with Claire Liu at Eddie Herr two years ago and asked if any of the veteran WTA Americans reached out to her to help her or to train with her or even hit with her and she said none did. Remember, Lendl trained with young Sampras, Fed always trains with young players, Rafa does too, So does Djokovic. But the top women of today? Almost never. Steffi Graf I’m learning from doing Facing Steffi also would train with certain players she was friendly with, usually Germans or South Americans because she had a connection to South America vs Bettine Bunge who was German but grew up and trained many years in Peru.

  • catherine · August 23, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Scoop –
    I’ve heard gossip from people such as hitting partners in the past and I never took much notice of it. Stories I heard, you wouldn’t believe. Maybe a grain or two of truth, no more. Doubt that’s changed.

    And it really doesn’t matter if veteran women or older players do not get involved in the game in the same way as some men. Maybe their interests are different when they are retired (tend not to coach so much)or they are not so high profile. Doesn’t mean any more than that.

    As I said, it’s rarely an advantage for a woman to train with another woman. So they don’t do it. That’s what they have teams for. Fed, Rafa, Djoko might find it useful to practise with younger players but that would not be the same with top women.

    Steffi has helped a few players in the past few years – mainly Germans. But she doesn’t publicize it.

    The subtext here seems to be that women players are on the whole pretty selfish. More likely we’ve just got different interpretations, but in sport, and other fields, great performance is often constructed around a degree of selfishness.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 23, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    What this hitting partner is saying is well known and frankly can’t be contested. I remember going to events and seeing his phenomenon.

    I don’t even think it’s something unusual to tennis. You go to public parks and see groups of boys playing but rarely see girls unless it is an organized event. It is just how they are socialized.

    I applaud the women for being petty and selfish, with Serena at the top of the list. Well known how she refused to help Sloane. That is just one of many examples.

    If anything, this is what is wrong with men’s tennis is that Fed’s nice attitude makes everyone behave that way. Kyrgios is considered the bad boy and he’s not a tenth of the jerk that Connors was. Tennis needs rivalries fuled by hate to attract attention and it is lacking in the men’s game.

    I only wish the women would be publicly petty but I understand it paints the tour in a bad light. But people like me who understand competition would welcome such antics and behavior.

  • catherine · August 23, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Duke –
    Why on earth should Serena help someone who may very well beat her ?

    Still, women don’t get much out of training with other women. Nothing much to do with pettiness. Men just hit harder.

    (But you are right that girls are socialised differently. They don’t do groups in the same way)

    Yes, men are a bit nicey nicey now. Wasn’t always like that back in the day.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 23, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Serena shouldn’t. But why does Novak hit with Grigor? Tsitsipas said he hit with Novak and that helped him beat him in Canada. So the better question is why did Novak do it?

    I think it’s just the way men look at it and as part of how they fit into the history of the game and their legacy once their careers are done.
    The women don’t look at it that way since they seem content to be known more as mothers post career than as tennis champions.

    I’ll say this – if Serena could somehow play Shazza in the Open, it would be the highest rated match. Everyone wants to watch that, why? Because they hate each other! Sign me up too.

  • Dan Markowitz · August 23, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Alright alright I think you’ve beaten to boredom the subject of hitting partners and who’s the nicer, more sociable sex. Getting back to the tennis…how about Scoop’s fave Estrella Burgos whipping Frantangelo? Strike another two wins for the old boys with Tommy R losing a total of three games in his second round Qualis match and Mahut bageling his opponent in the decisive third set. DY too is onto final round of Wualis. Wish I could watch the Felix v Eubanks match tonight. Both are highly emotional players who are big hitters.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 23, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    How about Novak being in Fed’s quarter? Crazy stuff. Makes you wish the Open had fixed the draw and given Fed an easier path. I think he deserves it.

    Everybody thinks the Williams sisters will meet in round 3 but Venus will go right out. She is playing terribly. I think Halep can beat Serena in that quarter so we will see.

    Chung got demolished by Carrena Busta. He is not ready yet to star. SteveJo destroyed Edmund, who is falling apart fast.

    The DY-Polansky match should be interesting and I will be rooting hard for DY. Why? Polansky has a chance to make history by becoming a lucky loser in all four Slams! It’s an incredible feat if it happens.

  • Jg · August 23, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    What about JC Aragone winning again, he can’t lose in the qualifying

  • Hartt · August 23, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    I will be rooting for Polansky. It would be fun if he were the LL at all four Slams, but it is a big risk. The poor guy deserves a break. He feels that he is playing well, so I hope he can win over Young.

  • catherine · August 23, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    Georges bts Makarova in NH – one of the best women’s matches I’ve seen since W’don. Julia plays Sabalenka next – S powered past Bencic. Shame the crowds have been so poor this week.

    Kvitiva retires which is just as well.

  • Hartt · August 23, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    In the USO qualies Felix beat Eubanks 7-6, 6-2 in 1 hour, 23 minutes. As the score indicates, the first set was close. Felix broke Eubanks when he was serving for the set. Then FAA pretty well ran away with the 2nd set.

    I do hope Felix can make it to the main draw, last year he lost in the third round of qualies.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 23, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Here is the great Chrissie Evert on Australia’s No 1:

    CHRISSIE EVERT: Okay, so Kyrgios is — it’s frustrating to watch him. He, as Brad says, kind of brings talent to another level that we’ve never seen — that we haven’t seen, I don’t think, in the tennis world. This is a new level of talent. But you can’t change DNA. You can’t change the wiring of somebody. This change has got to come within himself. You know, he’s going to coast as long as he wants, as long as he can, but at some point I think we all who are fans of his and love his tennis are probably wanting this more than he is right now. Right now he’s happy — I don’t know if he’s happy. I don’t know if he’s happy. But he’s a complicated guy, and I wonder if — he just doesn’t want to give up a lot. He doesn’t want to give up — because you have to make sacrifices to be the best to win Grand Slams. You have to make mental and emotional sacrifices, as well as physical, which is the training, which I think he doesn’t train like the top men do, and I don’t think mentally and emotionally he’s at that level of the top players. But he’s gotten by with not having to work that hard at any of those components.

    What is going to be the trigger that’s going to open his eyes to — if at all this happens, the fact that I really want to win a Grand Slam, I really want to be No. 1 or whatever. The hunger is not there. He loves tennis, he loves to play, loves to compete. All that’s there. But he doesn’t have that champion hunger yet. Will he ever get it? Will somebody get it out of him? Or will he get it out of himself? That is the thousand-dollar question.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 24, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Catherine will enjoy this. The great Petko did the Si tennis mailbag and had this response to this strange question…

    Would you rather meet Thom Yorke or Win Butler?

    Win Butler. I‘ll be honest with you: I’m a simple girl and Win is very handsome in my eyes. Listen, it’s a weird kind of attraction, something almost gross—similar to the way I feel about Post Malone (I‘m not proud of it). I once raided the streets of Montréal, hoping to find him. I then realized he was on tour with Arcade Fire in Europe. Mission dismissed. For now.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 2:24 am

    Duke –

    Petko a simple girl ? Well, who’d’ve thought it ? As for Thom Yorke and Win Butler or Post Malone – I’ve no idea who they are but I suppose, knowing Andrea’s interests, they’re pop singers and my pop music collection ends somewhere around the 70s (Sir Rod’s Greatest Hits) so I can’t comment, except to say the picture of Andrea wandering around Montreal in search of a pop singer (who wasn’t there) is intriguing to say the least. In the snow ? She doesn’t say.

    IMO Petko should be permanently attached to the women’s tour regardless of her ranking just to provide us all with fun and laughter and maybe a bit of High Culture. She once had ambitions to be Chancellor but a chat with Angela changed all that.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 2:53 am

    Caroline Garcia should pull her socks up – Puig beat her in 3. Caroline maybe ought to swap Papa for a different type of coach. She’s got lots of talent but she’s going nowhere. Just lower top 10 and I’m sure she has bigger ambitions.

  • Hartt · August 24, 2018 at 4:55 am

    Petko’s SI “Mailbag” was as entertaining as you’d expect. I wish she would do it at least once a year.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Hartt – I wish she’d do it once a week 🙂

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Interesting – Ka Pliskova has snapped up Conchita Martinez as an addition to her team. Conchita may find Pliskova more receptive to her coaching than Muguruza appeared to be.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 8:57 am

    A lot of moans in UK over USO being shown only through Amazon Prime, thus restricting viewers and sending tennis towards minority spectator status. We’ll see how that turns out.

    Wimbledon is the only GS now available free to air I believe.

  • Hartt · August 24, 2018 at 8:57 am

    From what I read, Rennae Stubbs asked Martinez to fill in for her as Pliskova’s coach during the USO because of Rennae’s ESPN commitment. So this is just temporary. But let’s hope Conchita can help.

    As for Petko doing “Mailbag” I don’t want to put Wertheim out of a job. 🙂

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Well, I’m not sure if Conchita wants to be a mobile coach for hire and I don’t really see the point of that for player or coach. You just get to know the player and you’re off again… Karolina could do with some help though – as Duke said, only her wedding’s gone right for her recently 🙂

  • Hartt · August 24, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Further to the discussion about whether women players get along, young Marta Kostyuk has found a warm welcome on the WTA tour.

    “Kostyuk believes she’s improving fast and is happy to forge relationships with her peers on tour. She gets along well with the Ukrainian players and was a bit surprised by how welcoming everyone has been.

    “So many people outside of the tour have such a bad opinion about tennis players. Especially about WTA, because I heard a lot of times that ATP players, they practice with each other, they don’t need sparring partners – in general women are complicated, there’s nothing to do about it, but it’s very nice and very friendly,” she explains.

    “I speak with a lot of players. You feel good when you become part of something you were dreaming about.”

    (from a piece about Kostyuk on Sport 360)

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Hartt – thanks – it’s good to hear something about all this from a player who’s experiencing the tournament circuit for the first time. And she’s absolutely right – men don’t need sparring partners – women do.’Women are complicated’ – I wish people understood that more in relation to sport.

    This stuff, all that gossip etc gets back to the players, obviously. You wonder at the motives behind the bad-mouthing. I mean, I don’t wonder but the players might.

    Kostyuk didn’t qualify for the USO I don’t think but she’s talented and I hope she can work her way up through smaller events.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Saw Serena practising – she’s lost a bit of weight since W’don and she reached the final there, so I wouldn’t bet against her in NY.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 24, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Svitolina on the cover of Elle magazine in Ukraine.

    I would bet she is in the camp who does not practice with the gals. Though she probably has other reasons for working with male hitting partners than jealousy!

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Duke – are you serious ? Jealousy isn’t the reason women tend not to practise with other women, although a lot of men apparently prefer to think so. It’s because they need someone who hits harder, runs faster. And that’s my last word on that.

    I’m afraid the Curse of The Glossies will strike Svitolina in NY. She and Muguruza will exit together.

    Plenty of time to sit back and read about themselves.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Halep and Radwanska are practising together right now 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Julian Alonso told me yesterday the Spanish players all work together and try to help each other, if one gets something that helps him he shares it, the Americans are all for themselves. I saw Kostyuk ending, she just got outplayed at the end, she battled and almost stole the second set but just missed it. Not a bad loss.

  • Hartt · August 24, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Peter Polansky lost his qualies match against Donald Young. So will he be extremely lucky and be a LL for a fourth Slam this year? The last I heard, there have been 2 withdrawals, so Peter does have a shot. He is among the top 4 third round losers in terms of rankings, so he could be lucky once again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 24, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    It’s 100% inevitable Polansky breaks the recored and LLers his way into the US Open. Such a rare and unique achievement could bolster his chances of being nominated for Hall of Fame induction. This is truly one of the most freaky situations in tennis, along with Isner Mahut, Nadal at Roland Garros, Graf Zvereva 60 60, Spadea’s losing streak, Victor Estrella cracking the top 100 and his first major main draw at 33, etc. Also Leander Paes is in the Winston Salem final with Cerretani, could win a title at age 45.

  • catherine · August 24, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Sabalenka beats below par Georges SS in New Haven. She’ll play Puig or Carla S-N. If she wins this will be her first title and she’s now ranked 25. But she’s going to be awfully tired for USO. Fourth t’ment in a row.

    I wonder who has played the fewest matches since W’don of the seeded players ? Of WTA Kerber has played 3.

  • Hartt · August 24, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Felix had a surprisingly easy win over Gerald Melzer, winning his 3rd round qualies match in SS – 6-3, 6-0.

    So Felix continues to be “the first to.” Someone tweeted that he is the first male player born in 2000 to get to a Slam main draw. It will be interesting to see who Felix gets for his first round opponent.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 24, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Hsieh and Siegemund into New Haven doubles finals, Paes Cerretani for the WS title. Crafty clever doubles works, variety works.

  • Joe Blow · August 24, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Muguruza practicing two a days the last two days at Open. Way too easy to judge from afar

  • catherine · August 25, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Puig retires so the final in NH will be between C S-
    N and Sabalenka.

    NH seems a bit problematic – lots of retirements and what looked like to me very poor attendance.

    Julia G is in a big slump – her aces are now almost level with her dfs. Maybe having her boyfriend on her team isn’t such a good idea. Better luck at the USO ? I see her going out early.

    Hope Hsieh and Siegemund win the doubles. As Scoop says, craft and variety there.

  • catherine · August 25, 2018 at 2:56 am

    Joe – what do you mean ? That Muguruza’s not practising enough ? I think that’s very likely.

  • Joe Blow · August 25, 2018 at 7:35 am

    No, she’s out there working hard, but you constantly kill her, and some other girls for doing Fashion shoots, as if they are not putting in the Tennis work.
    Not a big fan of Mugs game, she’s seems to not fight until the end, but she’s working out on the court two separate times a day( like most players)..thought she deserved some credit

  • catherine · August 25, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Well, I’m not really too bothered about fashion shoots per se but I think they can be a big distraction, particularly if the results on court aren’t showing up. Garbine is nowhere near the player she was last year, she’s often injured which suggests to me that her fitness isn’t what it could be. She’s tall, but she’s not particularly strong. It’s not the practice she needs so much as the day in day out tournament play and toughening up.

    Also, there must be a reason Conchita jumped ship earlier this year, after helping so much at W’don.
    I suspect that may have been to do with Garbine’s work ethic.

    I’d like to see her do better and go back to the variety she showed last year. She seemed to retreat to just a defensive baseline style and she has more shots than that.

    BTW – re practice, I read a quite prominent player, can’t recall who, saying she doesn’t like to practise too much before a big tournament. So it’s not a cure-all.



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