Sep/19

7

Serena Stumbles; Bianca Leaps

Serena Williams, the 23-slam champion, started the US Open finals against Bianca Andreescu, the ultra-confident 19-year-old Canadian, by hitting an ace out wide. She then proceeded to get broken by Andreescu when she served her second double fault of the game.

Andreescu has matched Serena’s power and pace and added a little more spin. Her forehand has continually hurt Serena particularly when Andreescu goes out wide to Serena’s forehand side. On a number of Andreescu’s cross-court forehands, the 37-year-old American with a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium of supporters including her friend, Meghan Markle, has not even given chase or gotten a racquet on the ball.

Chrissie Evert commentating for ESPN on the match, loves to talk about how well Serena is or isn’t getting out of the corners. In this match, Serena is often not getting into the corner, her forehand corner, against Andreescu’s power and angle. Nothing seemed to be going right for Serena as Andreescu captured the first set 6-3 and quickly went up a break in the second.

Serena’s vaunted serve is way off as she misses again and again on first serves. At one point early in the second set, Serena missed nine first serves in a row. At 2-0 Andreescu hit a long ground stroke that Serena felt was out and she challenged it only to see it called in on the Challenge. Serena did get the break two points later on a ball she hit that hit the net and trickled over on Andreescu’s side.

The Canadian quickly broke back for 3-1 and Serena super-fan, Spike Lee, looked sick in the stands. Serena continued to unravel in the set’s fifth game hitting one forehand return of serve 20 feet long at 30-love Andreescu. With Andreescu going up 4-1, Serena mis-tracked a backhand on a high ball by Andreescu and then proceeded to stand flat-footed as the 19-year-old pffted it back into the open court.

Maybe, looking back, Serena will rue her flawed serving or the fact that she wore a purple dress instead of the black cat-suit she was 3-0 with in this tournament. Two years ago, Evert pointed out, Andreescu just worried about making enough money on tour so she could afford to have her parents travel with her.

Today she beat Williams in similar fashion to her idol and fellow Romanian, Simona Halep, did in winning Wimbledon this year only ceding four games to Williams. Serena went down swinging, but she shot her box a telling glare right before returning serve at 1-5. Her sister, Venus, looked back at her in seeming disbelief. But as much as Serena tried to hit harder and harder, her shots were mostly long or returned with better accuracy by the fleet-footed Andreescu.

Serena with all her slam doubles titles has never been called a “complete player,” but her vanquisher today, Andreescu, the super-confident and super-competitive Canadian, is. She almost matched Serena today in the power department while clearly out-doing her in the serving, moving and touch departments. In fact, in chasing down Williams’ blasts in all the corners of the court, Andreescu might be dubbed the first women’s gymnast-tennis player; an uncanny combination of Nadia Comaneci and Halep with a little Mike Tyson throw in.

Just as it seemed a fait accompli that Andreescu would match Halep in defeating Williams in a slam finals by only dropping four games, Williams rallied with a raucous AA crowd behind her every point of the way, to break Andreescu at love to get back on serve at 4-5. Although, she double-faulted twice, Serena pulled even when Andreescu suddenly continued her nerves-filled tennis by mishitting two backhand returns.

When Serena couldn’t find her best tennis, she cried out to her box, but Andreescu never showed much or any frustration when her play went south. Andreescu steadied herself after Serena won four games straight by hitting a second serve in the corner of the box (after she had to catch her own toss twice) that Serena tattooed into the net with her forehand. While Serena’s backhand is mostly mint, her forehand shows that it can go astray at times.

And then it was over at 5-6 Serena could not get a racquet on two of Andreescu’s returns, one to her backhand side (which was not even in the corner of the court, more to the left quadrant of the court) and at 30-40 on a Serena second serve, to Serena’s forehand side that Serena feebly waved at. Andreescu wins her first slam in straight sets, but my guess is she will surely not be a one-slam wonder. Starting the year ranked No. 152, the athletically zoftig brunette just had too much game for the women’s GOAT, who fell short once again and now is 0-4 in slam finals since returning from giving birth to her first child two years ago and amazingly has not captured a single set in those four finals.

In all four slams finals matches where there’s been a 15-year age-gap between the two finalists (male or female), they younger play has won. An underdog coming into this match, Andreescu shows that youth can prevail and that she might become the next player for the ages! Serena has to be crushed by this resounding defeat and one wonders how she can rebound again and resurrect her slam title hopes.

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173 comments

  • Jeff · September 7, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    What a show of strength for Bianca. Surviving Serena and her crazed maniac fan base. She really is destined to be an all-time great. Congrats to Hartt and all the Canadians for this title. Canada seems to dominate sports now, winning the NBA and the US Open.

    It’s up to Coco Gauff to grow up soon and find a way to end Bianca’s dominance. She could be our best hope.

  • Hartt · September 7, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    This was so exciting! I honestly did not expect Bianca to win the title. She served better than Serena, which was huge surprise.

    The country is going nuts! The # “She the North” will go viral. Bianca was given a red cap with “She the North” after today’s ceremony. Her win will increase the attention tennis gets here, and that is so important. Who knows, maybe we will even get TV coverage of WTA tourneys!

  • catherine · September 7, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    My reverse jinx worked. After the first set I knew she’d be ok. Patrick M is right – she really is the complete player. And what an intelligence. Good night now 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · September 7, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Excellent writing and analysis from DanM. I do not believe we’ll see as fine an analysis of the match on the wires, though Chris Clarey may have some good work. We seem to have seen some form of passing of the torch this tournament – on both tours. With the WTA, I think it’s passed. Serena still has a chance for more slams – she made two slam finals this year, and in three of the last five slams. But despite making the finals in three of the five slams, lost all three to three different players. From Serena’s own admission she needs more finals. Her confidence is down.

    But as Dan noted so too is her game. Her strong prep hasn’t translated into better finals matches. At least she can take away the fact that she got herself back in the second set. But a small consolation for someone that expects more from their game, which seems to be betraying. If she has a wobbly and misfiring forehand, that’s going to need some work.

    She may need a strategy tweak too.

    But enough about the super champion and on to the future. Andreescu has an even chance of winning more slams, which is pretty darn good in the scheme of things. She’s an exciting new champion. Everyone has had great wins – Osaka, Barty, Halep, Andreescu. This is a nice time for the Hunger Games tour. Business is good.

    On the men’s tour I’m convinced it’s not 2014, where Cilic and Nishikori came out of seemingly no where to play a final without a big four player, or a spare wheel like Wawrinka, who had disrupted the Big Four order with his Australian victory , or like Del Potro in 2009. The 2014 US open was two non big four players dueling for a title. We haven’t had that since.

    But we did have 75 percent of men’s semifinalist players being non big four or big four plus Stan, and I don’t think we’ve had that for a while, either. Two of the semifinalists were next genners or graduates of next gen land, including Medvedev and Berretini.

    The big guys aren’t going away yet. But if they suffer injuries like this they aren’t going to have amazing results. And this is how I think the big three monopoly on the slams ends. It hasn’t ended. But it has begun to show cracks.

    Nadal is the favorite tomorrow by far. But that doesn’t change the shifting landscape around the big guys.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    I think Serena needs a fresh new voice, a new coach, to replace the coattail rider she has now. Look, when a legend loses four major finals in a row, someone’s head has to roll. Simple as that. Something is missing, something is failing. Lendl lost his first four major finals in row. Agassi lost his first three. Serena needs a super coach – I would hire Lendl if I was Serena. Or McEnroe. Nice article Dan, you should cover more womens matches, you’re getting the hang of it now 🙂 Catherine is this Dan’s first women’s major final article? Think it is.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 7, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    I was interested in this match; much more so than any other women’s match I can remember. There was a lot at stake. On Serena’s side, could she right herself after the disappointment of losing three slam finals in a row? And after pulling out of Canadian Open against Bianca. And she looked so good against Svitolina.

    On Andreescu’s side, as impressive as she’s been, could she knock out the Queen in her stadium? We know Osaka had done that last year, but there was an asterisk to that match.

    I never thought the match reached its potential level. Serena never played her best tennis and that had a lot to do with Bianca and how right away she took the aggressive side and would foul Serena up with backhand slices and drop shots. But Serena’s serve was shockingly mediocre and that also had a lot to do with Bianca and how Serena couldn’t ace her much and she attacked Serena’s second serve.

    If Serena was a better tactical player she might have made this a better match. I thought her comeback in the end was as much to do with Bianca choking as it was with Serena raising her game. I think Serena’s done. She just cannot move nearly well enough to beat Andreescu. There were some balls that got by her tonight that she didn’t even give chase to. Also, if she wants to have a second child–with the difficult pregnancy of the first one–she should try right away and not wait another year.

    What was striking to me though during this whole tournament was the passion and hunger of Serena’s husband. He and her trainer, Mackie Shilstone, geez, what a name–he likes to be known as the “career-extension specialist”–the dude’s 68, but he and Serena’s husband, man, they wanted Serena to win this title bad

    Good thing for women’s tennis because Andreescu is a far more interesting and appealing personality and player than the Halep’s et al.

  • Jeff · September 7, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    No doubt Patrick should be fired immediately but we know this will never happen. It should have happened last year as well.

    Coattail rider could not be any more appropriate. The guy was on TV giving every interview in sight. He is bad for Serena and for women’s tennis in general, I think. And clearly he has no input otherwise he would tell her she needs more match practice. But Serena will also never hire someone to tell her what she doesn’t want to hear. Her statements in her presser about how horrible she played were equally classless as was her lunatic feminist fan base blaming the umpire as usual – even though as I told you it was going to be a female.

    No doubt the WTA young guns have figured Serena out. She can still overpower the smaller girls like Svitolina and Wang but someone with the power of Bianca or Naomi isn’t intimidated in the least and shouldn’t be. And those gals have equally powerful serves, an edge that Serena usually has on every foe.

    Bianca has set a high bar for many of the girls now. Players like Sabalenka and Yastremska now know they must improve and quickly at that although are still young. And how will vets like Stephens and Keys react? Not to mention the fact that champions like Muguruza and Kerber look like washed-up has-beens now. In many ways, the WTA has never been more interesting.

    Excellent writing Dan, very impressed. You definitely should cover more of the women’s tour.

  • Jeff · September 7, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Nice of Serena to throw in as well that Kerber beating her last year “didn’t count” in her presser as well. So both that Wimbledon final and this final now didn’t count since her opponents didn’t play that great. I wonder if Halep’s win “counts?”

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Mouratoglou may be a better promoter like Bolletieri etc than coach. I notice has has fine players at his facility, but they could train with a hitting partner and a grocery cart filled with tennis balls at the public park and its cracked hardcourt and still be close to their current rankings.

    re coaches, I think Serena likes to figure this stuff out. She has a lot of people looking at it. Hope she keeps JJ Jarmere Jenkins. He’s an excellent hitting partner. If I were her I’d get a stroke doctor on her forehand and second serve, help her figure out what new shots she needs, and get to work to have a few new combos for the Australian. She doesn’t need many.

    I’d get the physio back too.

    I don’t think Serena’s strategic sense is any worse at all, she thinks very well on court. But the Andreescu game is a mix of old and new world – off pace (old), defensive skills (new) so Serena might have to +serious+ watch Rio’s, McEnroe, pick up some things she’d like to try to bring a little different game next four to twelve months.

    She has to. This is kind of it!

  • Jon King · September 8, 2019 at 12:25 am

    It is what it is, age and outside interests like her husband and kid. It was painful to watch Jordan and Kobe at the end, just like any great. Prime Serena destroys all these women. Bianca is a nice player, Osaka is a nice player, Halep is a nice player, and on and on and on. These nice players will come and go like they always have. But none of them would win more than 2-3 games from prime Steffi Graff or prime Serena or prime Seles or prime Hingis or prime Henin or prime Venus. We are in an era of players who will win 1-2 slams and no more, and some other 3-4 solid players will come along take their place. Not one all time great in the bunch. And no Gauff is not going to be more than another solid player, she has no special physical advantage or any signature shot that is an all time great shot. And if she continues to try to compete with that extreme forehand grip, she likely will never sniff even 1 grand slam.

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 1:14 am

    Come on Jon – Bianca is more than just a ‘nice’ player. And Steffi, for eg, didn’t win every match she played. She got beaten by ‘nice’ players. We all know distance lends enchantment to the view but how do you know how Bianca, aged 19, is going to turn out ? You don’t.

    Serena is nearly 38 and she’s too old to get back to where she was. Old Father Time doesn’t look backwards. Anyone who thinks Serena can regain dominance is living in a dream. She doesn’t need a new coach or anything like that. She needs to retire. It’s not pleasant growing old and to recognise that the natural process of life is coming to an end – not pleasant for any human being and worse for an athlete.

    Serena and her fans should face reality.

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 1:43 am

    Jeff – yes, that was an absolutely classless remark from Serena about Kerber’s win ‘not counting’. If I were Angie I’d be furious. Angie reached the final, Serena was in front of her and she beat her. Kerber’s name is there on the wall and no moaning from Serena can wipe it out. Halep beat her fair and square as well.

    Maybe hearing that comment will wake Angie from her competitive slumbers. I hope so. And nothing can take away Simona’s trophy. She unravelled Serena. Both Simona and Angie have their little badges. That’s enough.

    What is it about Serena that makes people go so crazy ? I certainly don’t think she’s ever had the perfect game (yes yes I know how many titles she’s won) and her personality needs a bit of work too. Always has.

    Bianca is a special player. She’s bringing something different to the game. I’ve seen a lot of players come and go in my life, so many who are ‘promising’ and remained so. Bianca is not looking like one of them.

    I agree with Dan (!) – Serena’s done. And indeed, if she wants to add to her family she ought to get moving.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 2:42 am

    I think Bianca will be a multi-Slam winner. She has wonderful technical skills, but even more important, she is tough mentally. The big concern has been injuries. Even before this year she had injuries that kept her off for weeks, and even months. But she has a full-time physio now, and she said she had no physical problems during the USO.

    On the Tennis Podcast they said Mary Carillo and I think Tim Henman watched Bianca practice and said there is nothing wrong with her service motion. Carillo’s view was that this year’s shoulder injury was purely from overplaying. Bianca and her team learned the hard way about managing her schedule, so hopefully injuries won’t be a big problem.

    There is no reason a healthy Andreescu can’t win many tournaments, including Slams. She has that drive, the craziness that we talked about top players having. She has a game that is very tough for her opponents to contend with because she has so many tools. If one thing isn’t working she has other shots to go to, and of course she is a master at continually changing her shots during a match.

    Plus she is one tough cookie. I wrote about the Fed Cup tie last year where, because she had to substitute for Abanda at the absolute last minute, she wasn’t properly prepared to play and cramped so badly she was wheeled off the court in a wheelchair. The next day she wasn’t able to play singles, but she did win the doubles match along with Dabrowski, to give Canada the tie. That kind of toughness will take Bianca a long way.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 2:59 am

    Bianca has received a ton of congratulations from other players, Canadian sports teams, and of course politicians. One of the best, I thought, was this tweet from Kirsten Flipkens, whom Bianca defeated earlier in the tourney.

    “For all of you wondering what those words were after our 2nd round.. “Congrats girl. You can win this tournament here. Believe in it ok?” Very happy for @Bandreescu_
    on winning her 1st (and trust me, not last) grand slam
    🏆”

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Bianca certainly wants more Slam titles. A tweet by Carolyn Cameron;

    “Bianca when asked about the idea of fame: “I never really thought of being famous. My goals have been to win as many Grand Slams as possible, and become the number one player in the world. I’m not complaining though,” she says with a smile.

    Just a reminder, she’s 19.”

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 4:26 am

    It sounds like Bianca is planning on winning more big trophies. From twitter:

    “After her #USOpen
    press conference, @Bandreescu_
    presented Sylvain Bruneau with the coach’s trophy.

    He holds it up backwards. “Sorry, I’m not used to this.”

    “Get used to it,” she grins.

    This kid.”

  • Dan Markowitz · September 8, 2019 at 6:12 am

    One thing we know about age with the great ones is that it makes their play very choppy. They can look and are very beatable at times, but every once in a while they summon their past greatness and perform close to their past glory. If Serena wants to continue–and there’s no indication she doesn’t–I think it’s still possible for her–a greater chance than Federer I think–to snatch another slam title. Andreescu is the only player now who may be consistently able to beat her. Fed, LeBron, Brady…they are all past their primes, but still at the top of their sports.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 8, 2019 at 6:28 am

    I don’t know if I want Catherine writing my obituary, but there’s a lot of truth in what she says.

    Jon, I’m curious, what makes you think Andreescu is just a “nice” player. I might say that about Katie McNally, who is a nice player, but doesn’t seem to have greatness written over her. But Andreescu checks the box in all the major categories: strokes, movement, variety and competitive will. I can’t imagine she won’t win at least five slams and possibly much more.

    Who’s the attractive raven-haired woman who always sits to the right of Bruneau?

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Dan – Hartt will know but I think the woman you mention is the Canadian Fed Cup captain, or else Bianca’s trainer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 7:55 am

    This verbal display of Quiet simple confidence of Andreescu indicates she already knows she will win many more.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 8:18 am

    The dark-haired woman is Heidi El Tabakh, who became Canada’s Fed Cup captain when Sylvain Bruneau left to become Bianca’s coach. Bruneau loved that job, and did not want to leave it, but it was obvious he was the best choice for Bianca’s coach. I don’t think anyone at Tennis Canada would say no to Louis Borfiga!

    Heidi was a pro tennis player, but partly due to injuries, never got high in the rankings. When people used to fuss about Bouchard’s looks, I always thought they should see Heidi! I noticed the cameras show her often during Bianca’s matches.

    Bianca’s trainer, Sylvie Tremblay, sitting next to Heidi, is an attractive blonde.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Andre LaBelle, one of Bianca’s former coaches, tells a story that shows her determination:

    “Labelle, who got a big hug from Andreescu after the win, noticed a sign that she was bound for greatness more recently. Andreescu was 17, with two stress fractures in her foot. She still wanted to practice, so he took the back off a business-style chair — no wheels on this seat — and he plunked it down on the court. Andreescu sat in that chair and he fed her ball after ball after ball for an hour every day, moving the chair to different areas of the court periodically so she could volley and practice overhead smashes and groundstrokes. “She just loved it,” Labelle said. This went on for two and a half months.” (Sportsnet)

  • Harold · September 8, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Shocked SW didn’t come up with “ her baby has a cold, or teething, and she was up all night” and in her Mother of the Century persona was up all night.

    Talking about yourself in the 3rd person is not a good look

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 9:23 am

    SW is very good at doing what we call ‘giving with one hand and taking away with the other’. She congratulated Bianca and then went on about how badly she, Serena, had played, therefore suggesting the result had nothing to do with Bianca’s performance. Did the same with her Wimbledon comment. Ungenerous.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Hartt, thanks for this insight about Andreescu hitting shots from a chair for 2 1/2 months whens she had stress fractures in her feet. This is what Thomas Muster did when he had knee surgery. This is the kind of dedicated training most players would not do or even think to do. It also helps develop and bolster all strokes by overcompensating to make up for no legs involved. Then when the legs come back the upper body stroke and mechanics part is stronger. It’s like creating a new better stroke. And it shows Nothing can stop Andreescu, nothing can break her spirit, she has the best attitude.

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Greatness is sublime on the court, but once you’re up there you’re defending a lot, such as legacy, history, all sorts of things. All sort of things that you to I or we could not fathom. Agassi was a champion that saw the tea leaves and recognized reality – he played Federer in the 2005 US Open final, and had a chance to put another set on the scoreboard (Agassi got himself into the match, was competing we’ll finally against this Federer kid that was rattling off slams left and right).

    After the 2005 match and even before it, Agassi had lost so many times in a row to Federer from the 2003 ATP men’s final onwards, having lost in a crazy five setter in 2004 against Federer with conditions the worst he’d seen at the US open then beaten terribly by Federer in the 2005 Australian.

    Agassi said right then and there Federer was best he’d ever played. He was asked really what about Pete Sampras? Agassi said no, Federer. And it wasn’t just because Agassi and Sampras were total rivals. Or because Agassi wanted his record to look better against Sampras, whose record was clearly better. It was because Agassi played Federer in his prime and when Agassi still had the ability to put wins up on the board and even slams, and he could clearly say: this guy was better than Sampras.

    Monica Seles could do the same with the Williams. She knews THEY were better than she was. Seles was better than almost everyone until Hingis and the Williams came along. Then she recognized reality and said, hey the Williams, they are better. Serena? Great champion.

    Don’t expect a champion that’s still playing to put all their cards out for you to see. They have their reasons for being more guarded. And the pride you see in the press conference could be ugly to you or denial to you, but it could also be why they have 23 slams and we are here commenting on why they aren’t as charitable in front of the camera as fans want them to be 🙂

    Or as Lleyton Hewitt once said, when asked why he keeps going. “Maybe that’s why I’m up here and you’re sitting right there.”. Gotta appreciate it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Serena’s act is sophisticated disgraceful under a mask of beauty. Her wild and wacky fans all seem phony too, screaming and yelling for her when she rallied by winning those four games in a row. They all looked fake. As if they have been programmed by mass media to love Serena. What is there to love about a fire breathing dragon? Players that are lovable are Nadal, Hsieh, Osaka, Andreescu, Smyczek, Felix, Delpo, Schwartzman, Seles/Capriati for coming back from the rock bottom horrors they suffered.

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Good conditions, right draw, good luck, all play into the mix for Serena. For all the WTA strengths Serena still has been in three finals of the last five slams – that’s not just good, that’s amazing for anyone not named Serena Williams. That’s a successful year for any player not named Williams, and we’d be talking about how they may need this or that to get over the block.

    Why is it any different here. She puts herself there and she said that, her chances are even on winning that match. And remember few players work as diligently as the great players to give themselves those chances.

    I think Serena has better odds of another slam than Federer because she makes slam finals for a living – Federer did in previous recent years so he doesn’t get the fork. I also think Federer will be fine after the off season. We’re seeing him lose earlier in slams, but a QF, SF, F, QF year at slams again is better than most players not named Federer.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Scoop, we all have different preferences in players and different reasons for supporting our favourites. I know a die-hard Serena fan who was truly crushed by this defeat. I can understand how she feels because I am still trying to get over Fed’s Wimby loss.

    Although I find this hard to believe, I imagine there are a few tennis fans who aren’t keen on FAA. Of course, they are totally wrong, but here you are. 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 10:25 am

    As for Andreescu she’s an excellent player and an exciting new champion. She has a versatile and clever game, and the right mentality. But predicting the future isn’t my strong suite – I didnt see Kerber getting a third slam, Muguruza getting a second, Ostapenko getting her first and only maybe her last, Halep winning a Wimbledon title. Didn’t think Pennetta would get over herself to get one.

    She has a versatile game and an excellent tennis mentality. She’s formidable, she likes winning a lot. Doesn’t mind taking over the sport. All of that’s interesting.

    But compelling isn’t the same as getting the job done tournament after tournament. The player sheet has gone out on Andreescu and coaches are working on it, so she’ll lose more than she did. The tour is also different these days – healthy and competitive, and unpredictable.

    As Agassi once said if it were so easy a player could phone in the result. Can’t. She’s an excellent player and sports a fine game. But I thought Ivanovic was excellent too in her French run…just turned out Ivanovic had a serve that would go haywire at the strangest moments. Or her timing had to be just so. Or something else would go on. Or she’d lose matches that were on her racquet. Or she lost too much weight or whatever it was.

    Have seen too much tennis to see the future. I like Andreescu. Excellent player. We’ll see how she wears the mantle of tennis royalty. My guess is: she’s only human. The game’s competitive these days. She has an X on her back now. Only Osaka has pulled off back to back slams as a newly crowned slam champion. And given four slams and four champs this year and for the last three years on the WTA tour I don’t think any player will consolidate control of the tour. Not even the promising new chanp Andreescu.

    I mean, didn’t Osaka just do this a year ago? Then Osaka wins the Australian and proves it’s for real? Then somehow it isn’t? Didn’t we just do this…

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Press conferences aren’t where the action is anyways. Scoreboard is all that matters and the record book. Part of it is players often don’t say interesting things. We want them to say one thing and they say another. I’m waiting for Kyrgios to say he has been training hard and has his mind together and that he looks forward to the slams and how he has a physical trainer and now knows the sport matters to him.

    Why should I wait for Kyrgios to say these things that aren’t forthcoming? This isn’t happening. There’s no match in the press room.

    The press room is to fill out match summaries. It’s a part of the sport but it’s not the competition. Nadal doesn’t live for the press conferences. Sampras hated them and gave writers nothing, totally inscrutable.

    Mia Hamm, once the best soccer player in women’s history, was completely inscrutable. No one could get at her. One SI sports writer finally did. He was annoyed and fascinated so he went deep and came out with a winner of a piece. But that goes way beyond this.

    Basically you have a champion that is in the final phase of their career. Over twenty years now, twenty plus years! They’ve been playing pro tennis since at least fifteen, 22 years. And they were in the news well before then, at least four more years, so 26 years on tour. This is what they know.

    Serena says it herself. She’s played so many great players over 22 years. You really want her to predict what any one of them would go on to do? Sounds like we don’t have the same worldview as that player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Press conferences are where damage control is executed; where excuses are cleverly disseminated; where credit may given and not given; where delusions are synthesized with optimism; where reality is camouflaged by unreality; where cliches are as abundant as tennis balls on a drill court. Yes press conferences serve a function.

    Speech is given to man to disguise his thoughts. – said Charles Maurice de Tallyrand

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Andrew – no reason Serena has to be uncharitable – she’s been around long enough. No one’s doubting her status. But to me some of the stuff she came out with after this match just sounded like outright denial and unneccessary.
    It’s going to be very hard for her to retire. And I’m not a ‘fan’.

    Can’t say the tour is that much different. There are more pro players now but somehow the same ones remain at the top. On the whole.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Serena says she did not show up for the final vs Bibi. The first reaction is she is talking nonsense and making silly excuses. But in a sense she is right, beast mode Serena did not rear her ugly head in the match, Serena restrained her inner beast from making another horrible appearance. No raging tantrums against the umpire, or screaming at herself to exhort herself on. She played mild mannered with no emotional adrenaline. Serena is an emotional adrenaline player. After what happened in the Osaka final, Serena seems afraid and inhibited to let her inner beast mode out. Bibi identified Serena’s beast mode after the Toronto final, that may have helped to psyche out Serena to be afraid to let it out. If Serena wants to win 24 she will need to summon her beast mode horror show alter ego. But even that may not be enough.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Press conferences sometimes can give us a glimpse of the player’s personality, despite all the times the answers seem rehearsed. Bianca already has some stock answers, but it was interesting that she broke down briefly during yesterday’s press conference, when talking about how long she had been visualizing this win. She had been subdued during the awards ceremony, and positive and cheerful during her on-court interview with TSN right after the match.

    But that moment in the press conference was a clue to how much stress she has been under. Asked if she was OK to continue she smiled and said yes. Doing the press conference was preferable to her next task, doping control. And Dan I’m sure that was because it’s not a lot of fun, not because she is using PEDS!

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Serena’s fans are whacko. They want her to go on playing until she’s over 40. They think she can be like 25 again. Someone should remind them that time doesn’t run backwards. Insane.

    The other players know all about Serena’s beast mode and I’m sure they’d love to see her self-destruct. Bianca can play mind games until the cows come home. She’s old beyond her years.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 11:29 am

    I found the article where Bianca talked about how winning Les Petits As gave her a taste of what life on the pro tour would be like. It sounds like she was made for it.

    “That’s where I first got a taste of what it’s like to be a professional tennis player. Thousands of people come to watch, and the kids sign autographs and do events with their fans, and I loved every minute of it,” Andreescu recalls. “The travel was so cool, meeting new people, eating authentic food, and I thought, ‘If this is the tennis life, I definitely want to have it.’ ” (Globe and Mail, March 19, 2019)

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Hartt – I wanted to see Coco ! She wasn’t there. Maybe they thought the noise etc might upset her. Don’t think Bianca’s worried about a dope test. It’s not the worst procedure in the world 🙂

  • catherine · September 8, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Kerber has been given a WC into Zhengzhou. No mention of a coach. I wonder what’s going on in her mind now and if she heard Serena’s swipe at her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Hartt, please don’t antagonize Dan, he’s been a model journalist lately, even covering women’s tennis with his best stuff. 😎

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 11:47 am

    I was talking this week with veteran Queens Chronicle scribe Lloyd Carroll and he noted how no players say anything any more in press conferences, like he mentioned one of his favorites Thomas Muster being asked how he’s changed since the early days of his career…”More money, less hair.” Player wit and humor is extinct now in press conferences.

  • Harold · September 8, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Moving on, the real big news of yesterday was Tommy Paul beating Noah Rubin in the semis.

  • Andrew Miller · September 8, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Eurosport had a nice write up and commentary. It raised doubts about Serena’s chances for another slam, but no matter what it’s up to the competitors. There’s now at least a template for what to say to a crowd after beating Serena, “sorry to everyone” (then show off your trophy). I’m a fan of tennis so to me it doesn’t matter much. I’d like to see Serena get the record because it’s good to see old records broken.

    As for Andreescu I’m not putting her up as the next multi slam anything etc. The WTA tour is too competitive as of the moment.

    For big three there aren’t many records to break anymore. They’ve already gone where no men’s tennis player has ever gone!

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Scoop, OK, as long as Dan continues behaving so well (and this was a good article), I won’t give him a hard time. But I reserve the right to defend Bianca if the need arises again!

    I have been spending a lot of time updating my Andreescu notes, so if anyone has any questions about Bianca, I’m your woman. 🙂

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Catherine, I did not see Coco either, but one of the reporters said she was there. Maybe she was sleeping quietly. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t be there for Bianca’s big day.

    Honestly, if the journalists were on their toes, they would have asked Bianca about Coco at the press conference. It would have been more interesting than a lot of their questions, and would have elicited a lively response from Bianca.

  • Jeff · September 8, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Good comments all. Yes, Serena is done. Some players remain intimidated by her but many are not.

    The Serena fan base is full of fakes, frauds and phonies. So many of these faux fans are either part of the lunatic feminist fringe or the Nike marketing machine hype. And yes, they are all delusional. Serena is not a lovable champion, in any way. A fierce and dominating one, yes. But she isn’t very likeable. IMO I always liked Venus better and wish she had been the more successful one.

    To not give Andreescu any credit means we watched different matches. There is a reason Serena didn’t play her best – Bianca was dominating her. Bianca did not let her play. Yes, Serena missed serves but Bianca served 84 percent on 1st serves in the first set. She wasn’t giving her a chance.

    I think the sooner women’s tennis moves on from Serena the better. I think her attitude will get even more disgraceful as the years go by and her fan base even more radical. I hope one of them doesn’t try to do what that crazed guy did to Seles, though it wouldn’t surprise me given how delusional they are.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Coco The pooch got more tv airtime this tournament than Bouchard and Harrison combined.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Bibi will get massive attention now from media, fans, sponsors, everywhere. How it affects her remains to be seen.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Yes Jeff, to cheat Kerber and Andreescu out of their major title credit is ridiculous by Serena. It was an incredible feat by the teen to go into the Ashe lions den and conquer the queen and her rabid gallery of supporters. Bibi deserved more credit from Serena. Wonder what motormouthatoglou has to say.

  • Hartt · September 8, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Re Coco’s TV airtime, that is because she is having a better year.

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