The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, June 15, 2021
Wrapping Up Roland Garros — Quotes from Paris — Must-click women's tennis links
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Au revoir, Roland Garros!
We’re halfway through the Grand Slam season and I’m going to continue ending Slams with my own version of Jon Wertheim’s Parting Shots, which is always a must-read.
Not only should you pour one out for Barbora Krejcikova, but grab another for the Czech star sweeping both the singles and doubles titles at Roland Garros. She’s the first player since Mary Pierce in 2000 to leave Paris with both trophies in hand. Krejcikova said it best, if she can do it, anyone can. Also, I know we’ve realized I’m not a betting man, but throwback to last week when I randomly picked Krejcikova to win from a rotating gif of the remaining quarterfinalists. Does that count toward my street cred?
What a tournament for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She finally got over her Slam quarterfinal hump, reaching her first semifinal on her sixth attempt and then outlasting Tamara Zidansek to reach the final. In an occasion that can bring a lot of nerves, it was great to see a three-set final that showcased solid tennis. I hope we’re finally past the “Pavs, the junior GOAT” stage and entering “Pavs, the Slam contender.”
Collegiate tennis also had representation with Desirae Krawczyk (Arizona State ‘16) teaming up with Joe Salisbury (Memphis ‘14) to capture the mixed doubles title. It was the first Grand Slam title for Krawczyk, who reached the women’s doubles final at last year’s Roland Garros.
Women’s doubles delivered, especially Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek, who saved seven match points en route to upsetting top-seeded Elise Mertens and Hsieh Su-Wei.Two hours later, we’re going ⓷. The showdown between No.1 seeds Hsieh/Mertens and No.14 seeds Swiatek/Mattek Sands is a treat, thanks to points like this.
You couldn’t not be happy for Krejcikova, who lost longtime coach and mentor, 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, to cancer in 2017. She often mentions the former World No. 3 in press and glowingly dedicated her run to Novotna:
An Open Era-record six first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists made their mark in Paris, but it’s still mind-blowing that Coco Gauff is still eligible for juniors. She had set points against Maria Sakkari, who then had match point in the semifinal before making the cursed move: thinking ahead.
For the sixth consecutive Roland Garros, we have a first-time women’s Grand Slam champion. Why is that? According to legend Chris Evert, most of it lies in the red clay itself. Greg Garber also says variety is becoming the dominant force in the women’s game, with players like Krejcikova and Ashleigh Barty becoming the norm.
To continue her fine form in 2021, Krejcikova also became the first player to capture the Internationaux de Strasbourg and Roland Garros back-to-back. She’s well-liked on tour, especially based off of the social media compliments she received.
An honorable mention has to go to Tamara Zidansek, who after nearly upsetting Garbine Muguruza last year, took out Bianca Andreescu in a first-round epic and went all the way to the semifinals. She’s the first Slovenian to reach that far in a Grand Slam and was thisclose to a final berth.
Czechs also did well in the junior tournament, with Linda Noskova becoming the first player from her country since Hana Mandlikova in 1978 to win.
The French Federation of Tennis continues to halt the sport’s growth — this time continuing to strike social media posts that have millions of views, views that could bring casual fans to the sport. We must do better and that starts with governing bodies quit blocking tweets and YouTube videos due to copyright claims.
Obviously Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal and the “debacle” with press conferences took a front seat during the week’s first tournament, but be sure to check out this tennis.com podcast between coach Kamau Murray and reporter Ben Rothenberg. It’s important to get all perspectives from those in the game.
I’m no fashion guru, so fortunately Marija Zivlak has you covered for the best-dressed in Paris.
Like I mentioned last week, doubles players are still considered second-class citizens. Sharon Fichman, who won the WTA 1000 in Rome, penned to Twitter to share her lens and you must read:
This Week in Women’s Tennis
Wimbledon announced that capacity will be held at 50%, but the final weekend will have full attendance, sparking some outrage in Great Britain.
Johanna Konta won her first WTA singles title in over four years by taking the Viking Open Nottingham over Zhang Shuai, becoming the first Brit to win on home soil since Sue Barker in 1981. Lyudmyla Kichenok and Makoto Ninomiya left Nottingham with the doubles trophy.
Jasmine Paolini captured the biggest title of her career at the Croatia Bol Open, a WTA 125 event. She knocked out Aranxta Rus in the final, while Aliona Bolsova and Katarzyna Kawa won the doubles title.
Barbora Krejcikova returned to the No. 1 doubles position this week, but also moved into the singles Top 15 for the first time after her Roland Garros sweep. Ashleigh Barty still leads the Porsche Race to Shenzhen, but there were plenty of shakeups following Paris.
Will there be a China swing? Most likely not, but we should know come June 30. It will be a major loss for the WTA if they lose a second consecutive season in China, but I’m curious to see where the WTA Finals would be moved to if so.
For Pride Month, Johnette Howards reminisces the three months in 1981 where both Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova were publicly outed. Fast forward 40 years, players like Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen are blazing their own trail as a couple.
Digital tennis learning tool TopCourt and the WTA are teaming up to become the tour’s first e-learning platform. TopCourt is doing some amazing work throughout the pandemic and it’s my goal to have a few perspectives from staff members this summer for The IX.
Congratulations to former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who welcomed daughter Olivia this week with husband David Lee.
Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez is perhaps even more busy nowadays than she was on tour. She opened up to Steve Flink about her road post-retirement and enjoying the coaching — and administrative life.
The WTA announced a partnership with the University of Palermo to give the Spanish-speaking player contingent an opportunity to continue their education while on tour.
In case you missed it, here are your May Shot of the Month winners voted by fans.
Tweet of the Week
I mean — COME ON!? The cuteness is real
Five at The IX: Roland Garros Week 2
Q.This is obviously the greatest moment of your professional career. Can you just put into words your emotions, feelings. What does ‘Barbora Krejcikova, Roland Garros Champion’ sound like?
BARBORA KREJCIKOVA: Happy. I’m extremely happy. I mean, it’s a dream come true, for sure. It’s really hard to put the words together right now because so many emotions, so many things going through my mind.
I’m just really happy that I was able to handle it as I did, that mentally I think that was the biggest key. I spoke with my psychologist again, and we spoke about it a lot. Like I just knew that as soon as I’m going to enter the court, I’m just not going to be panicking anymore. That was actually happening. I was really happy about that.
I mean, it’s something I have always dream about, winning here, my first doubles title, then some doubles title, then winning the mixed ones. Now I was just telling myself, It would be really nice if I can get the Grand Slam in all three categories.
Now it’s happening. I cannot believe it. Now it’s happening. Wow.
Q.You said on the court jokingly that your friends flew all the way in because who knows if this day is going to come again. From a serious note, what do you make of that? Does your two weeks here, making a final physically compromised, a tough draw, does this give you confidence that the major trophy is closer, or is that something you don’t think about?
ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA: No, I don’t even think about it because I think there are no rules. Also who could have thought like I would be in the final now? I think I just going to keep on going the same, zero expectation, just working hard and doing my job. I know what I have to do. So that’s the key. Enjoy out there, as well, keep going.
Okay, of course, I believe in myself a little bit more maybe, yes. But I always knew I think I could have done it, I could do it. I’ll keep on going. Hopefully, you know, next time if I have a chance to be in the final I’ll handle it better and I’ll be more fresh and I’ll play better. That’s the goal right now.
I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that’s how I should approach the whole situation. I said to myself today, watching my friends, that at the start of course I was close to cry, it’s always sad to lose, but then when I looked at my friends, I think there are much more important stuff in life than sometimes even this trophy.
I feel loved. I think that’s the best thing you can have is friends and a life outside tennis, as well, which is actually even meant more than the trophy today.
Q.Bethanie, you look very energetic, you’re playing with a lot of joy. Four years ago when you get that serious injury on your knee, did you have some doubt if you can come back? Did you even consider about stop playing like that? What have you gone through?
BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS: In all honesty, I’ve probably had every range of emotion and thought possible between then and now. Has quitting come up? Of course. Has doubting, have those feelings of doubts come in? Could I ever make another final again in women’s doubles? Could I ever play some singles matches again? Could I move like I did before the injury? Of course, all of those thoughts have come in.
I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. One of those things that was difficult to kind of learn was the expectations I put on myself. I think a lot of times we compare who we are now to who we were in the past.
Even though I did a lot of great things in the past, you would think that’s good, I have to let go of a lot of that. I have to let go not of just the injury, but let go of the results I had before my injury. I’m a different person now, a different player now. I’ve learned a lot.
I want to enjoy this moment without any comparison to how I played before. If I do have to compare it, right now I physically feel better than I ever have. I’m 36. I’ve been training my ass off. I’ve been working hard. I feel like I’ve become a smarter player, whether it’s nutrition, whether it’s training, whether it’s recovery. I feel like every year you’re on tour, you learn a little bit more about yourself.
I feel like right now I’m at the prime. The moment is all you’ve got. I’m really focused on that and enjoying that. One day I’ll look back at the injury and talk maybe more about that, sort of the mental process I went through. There was a time where I had to address it, then there was a time where I had to sort of let it go and be the player I am now, whatever that is. Wherever my knee is at, my body, wherever my mind is at, that’s who I’ve got to play with right now. That’s my mindset.
Q.Tell me a little bit about your partnership, how it started, when you first started. What was your goal?
KATERINA SINIAKOVA: So we started play doubles in 2013 juniors. If I remember right, it was a little bit lucky, no? We started play actually here at Roland Garros because we couldn’t find part never. We won it. From that time we decided to play with each other because it went really good.
Then we won Wimbledon junior title, then US Open. So it was, like, really amazing year. We really enjoy it. I mean, from the time it’s long journey but I think we did really great job. We both keep fighting. We find our way to pro tennis.
I mean, I think our relationship is still improving and we really good as a team. We also trying to be much closer when we off the court.
I think that it’s really great, that it’s amazing. I enjoy it. I enjoy the time on the court. Hopefully we can enjoy more off the court.
Q.Can you tell me about your partnership, how you got together playing at Roland Garros?
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: Oh, well, we have played before. I think we played 2019? At US Open, we played there. And then we played at Oz, and I just kind of kept bugging him. And then, yeah, I mean, we just kind of paired up.
Yeah, no, I didn’t know Joe before I came on tour. Yeah, we have been playing a couple times together. It’s been fun.
JOE SALISBURY: I think we played, I think it was 2018 the first one we played at U.S.
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: Yeah, yeah, ’18 then. Then Oz.
JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, we have played pretty much every one together since then.
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: Yeah.
JOE SALISBURY: So, yeah, we’ve got a good partnership going, although I feel a bit bad because we are actually not playing together at Wimbledon.
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: He ditched me.
JOE SALISBURY: Because a couple months ago I said that I was probably going to play with a Brit for Wimbledon. I thought it would be good to have an all-British partnership for Wimbledon. So, yeah, unfortunately I ditched her for that. But I’m sure we’ll team back up again after.
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: Maybe we’ll play you first round (smiling).
JOE SALISBURY: Yeah. Maybe we’ll play U.S. together.
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK: Yeah, maybe.