Catching up on Roland Garros, Wimbledon & NCAAs — Pam Shriver Talks Paris — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, May 24, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! It’s been quite the loaded week in the women’s tennisphere and although I did mention giving my predictions for Roland Garros last week, the news kept me from making a draw and it was Sunday before I knew it!

First, let’s talk perhaps the biggest news of the week: the WTA joining the ATP in forgoing ranking points at Wimbledon this year. Not only are they ignoring points from 2022, but the points from 2021 — and 2019 because of COVID — will be taken off, as well.

Honestly, I mentioned this in a previous Tennis Tuesday and it’s the only “logical” option to put the pressure on the Wimbledon officials. With this and the rumors of substantially less prize money, Wimbledon is looking more like a glorified exhibition this year. Wimbledon said they’re following guidance from the British government in banning players from Russia and Belarus participating in events held in their country, but it’s not a law. They are more than welcome to disregard the recommendations and adhere to the Grand Slam Code, though. Naomi Osaka has already alluded she may skip Wimbledon because she’s chasing points to rebuild her ranking. Many others will likely follow suit. I would like to see Wimbledon reverse their call sooner than later and with the other grass events in the United Kingdom giving points, it will be a very interesting grass season.

However, tennis is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. With the circumstances, it’s hard to be fully united.

Now, let’s talk Roland Garros. Today marks the end of the first round and we’ve had some shockers. Ons Jabeur, one of the favorites to take the title after reaching the final of Charleston and Rome and winning Madrid, was bounced out by Magda Linette in a titanic three-setter. 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza had the unfortunate luck of facing off against Grand Slam giant killer Kaia Kanepi. The Estonian continued her heightened play at the majors by knocking off the former World No. 1 in straight sets. 10 of Kanepi’s 15 Top 10 wins have come at Grand Slams and she moved to No. 4 on the active list of Top 10 wins. In probably not so shocking news, No. 2 seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova was upset by French teen Diane Parry in three sets. On paper, it’s a big result but the Czech had been out since February with an elbow injury and honestly, if she weren’t defending her title, I don’t think we would’ve have seen her in Paris. Anett Kontaveit was also another top seed to tumble out in the first round, losing to Ajla Tomljanovic.

Speaking of seeing in Paris, the day after I posted my storylines, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova shut down her season due to her knee injury. Last year’s Roland Garros runner-up looks to gain a protected ranking that includes her Paris points when she returns in 2023. Angelique Kerber hopes to emulate Krejcikova’s 2021 campaign that saw titles in both Strasbourg and Paris. A win next week would give the German a Career Grand Slam and by the looks of her epic first-rounder, she’s getting the crowd behind her.

For some pre-tournament reading, I would recommend checking out all of the qualifiers who found themselves in the main draw, Martina Navratilova guessing how former French Open champs will fare this year and Greg Garber using Maria Sharapova’s transition to clay court success for Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu.

Lastly, the NCAA Division I Team Championship concluded this weekend with the University of Texas capturing their second consecutive title. The Longhorns faced a stern battle from the University of Oklahoma but won 4-1 with freshman Allura Zamarripa clinching the Elite Eight, Final Four and championship matches. It was the end of a year Head Coach Howard Joffe wasn’t sure the team would overcome between injuries, the war in Ukraine affecting Sabina Zeynalova on top of the massive target on their back.

In other divisions, Barry University made it five in a row in Division II, Georgia Gwinnett took home their sixth consecutive NAIA Championship and Tyler Junior College won their 21st overall NJCAA crown.

The Division III team/individual events and the Division I individuals remain and I leave you with this tweet that shows just how good these women are:


This Week in Women’s Tennis

Honestly, if there is any link you click on, please let it be this feature Alex Macpherson did on Coco, Bianca Andreescu’s poodle.

Brandon Sneed at Sports Illustrated profiled Esther Lee, the former longtime physio of Venus and Serena Williams, as she continues her battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Angelique Kerber completed her surface set of WTA titles with an incredible three-tiebreak win over Kaja Juvan at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. The former World No. 1 has won on indoor/outdoor clay and hardcourt, as well as grass. The doubles title went to Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Daria Saville, who edged top seeds Lucie Hradecka and Sania Mirza.

At the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, Morocco, Martina Trevisan captured her first WTA title with a routine win over Claire Liu. The doubles title went to Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya over Monica Niculescu and Alexandra Panova.

WTA Insider has been busy at Roland Garros. Some pieces to check out:

  • Numbers behind the projected top seeds in Paris.
  • Barbora Krejcikova coming back from injury at the site of her Grand Slam triumph.
  • Ons Jabeur looking to continue her clay court form and make history.
  • Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu looking past their injuries and focusing on winning in Paris.
  • Iga Swiatek staying calm, cool and collected while having the largest target on her back.
  • Coco Gauff and Marie Bouzkova celebrating their own graduations with first-round wins.

Nine players are making their Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros, including former collegiate tennis players Leolia Jeanjean and Fernanda Contreras Gomez.

A year ago, Paula Badosa was making her breakthrough on the WTA Tour. Now, she enters Roland Garros as the No. 3 seed hungry to claim glory.

Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka and Belinda Bencic headline initial entries for the bett1open, a WTA 500 event on grass in Berlin, Germany.

Two-time Roland Garros women’s doubles champion Ros Fairbank continues to not only keep tabs on the current tours, but also continue to work on her own craft.

Representation matters globally and last week was a great example when Ines Ibbou captured the $15,000 ITF World Tour event in her home country of Algeria. She even got a shout out from footballer Adlene Guedioura ahead of the final:

Last week’s ITF World Tour results:

  • $60,000 Pelham, Alabama:
    • (1) Maria Lourdes Carle def. (2) Elvina Kalieva, 6-1, 6-1
    • Carolyn Ansari/Ariana Arseneault def. (3) Reese Brantmeier/Elvina Kalieva, 7-5, 6-1
  • $60,000 Rome, Italy:
    • Tena Lukas def. (4) Barbara Gatica, 6-1, 6-4
    • Matilde Paoletti/Lisa Pigato def. Darya Astakkova/Daniela Vismane, 6-3, 7-6(7)
  • $25,000 Akko, Israel:
    • (4) Haruna Arakawa def. (8) Elena-Teodora Cadar, 6-4, 6-2
    • (4) Nicole Khirin/Shavit Kimchi def. (3) Haruna Arakawa/Natsuho Arakawa, 5-7, 7-5, [10-8]
  • $25,000 Naples, Florida:
    • (3) Kayla Day def. (1) Ana Sofia Sanchez, 6-1, 6-1
    • (1) Anna Rogers/Christina Rosca def. (2) Rasheeda McAdoo/Ana Sofia Sanchez, 6-1, 6-4
  • $25,000 Warmbad Villach, Austria:
    • (7) Sinja Kraus def. Weronika Falkowska, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4
    • Lea Boskovic/Veronika Rekavec def. Miharu Imanishi/Kanako Morisaki, 3-6, 6-3, [11-9]
  • $25,000 Platja D’Aro, Spain:
    • (7) Guimar Maristany Zuleta de Reales def. (4) Jessica Bouzas Maneiro, 7-6(2), 6-4
    • (2) Angela Fita Boluda/Andrea Gamiz def. (1) Isabelle Haverlag/Valeriya Strakhova, 6-4, 3-6, [10-3]
  • $15,000 Antalya, Turkey:
    • (5) Daria Lodikova def. (1) Valeriya Yushchenko, 6-2, 6-4
    • (1) Martina Colmegna/Dia Evitmova def. (2) Doga Turkmen/Melis Ayda Uyar, 6-2, 3-6, [10-8]
  • $15,000 Cairo, Egypt:
    • (2) Barbora Matusova def. Noma Noha Akugue, 6-2, 7-5
    • (1) Diletta Cherubini/Antonia Schmidt def. (WC) Elizaveta Masnaia/Sofia Nagornaia, 6-1, 6-2
  • $15,000 Heraklion, Greece:
    • (JR) Lola Radivojevic def. (5) Martha Matoula, 6-3, 6-3
    • Michaela Laki/Lola Radivojevic def. (1) Gabriella Da Silva Fick/Stepanie Judith Visscher, 6-1, 4-6, [10-8]
  • $15,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • (5) Ayumi Morita def. (8) Xinxin Yao, 7-6(4), 7-5
    • (2) Sijia Wei/Xinxin Yao def. (3) Mei Hasegawa/Chihiro Takayama, 6-1, 6-1
  • $15,000 Cancun, Mexico:
    • (1) Dasha Ivanova def. (2) Ho Ching Wu, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4
    • Saki Imamura/Miho Kuramochi def. (4) Kariann Pierre-Louis/Kelly Williford, 3-6, 6-3, [10-8]
  • $15,000 Oran, Algeria:
    • (3) Ines Ibbou def. (2) Lexie Stevens, 6-4, 6-2
    • (1) Luisa Meyer auf der Heide/Lexie Stevens def. Elena Jamshidi/Divine Dasam Nweke, 6-0, 6-1

Sloane Stephens, please don’t ever change your style in the press room:

Last week’s Universal Tennis Pro Tennis Tour results:

  • $25,000 Newport Beach, California:
    • 1st place playoff: Megan McCray def. Taylor Cataldi, 3-6, 6-4,6-1
    • 2nd place playoff: Midori Castillo def. Kyle McPhillips, 6-3, 6-3
    • 3rd place playoff: Khrystyna Vozniak def. Kayla Meraz, 7-5, 7-5
    • 4th place playoff: Marley Lambert def. Constance Branstine, 6-3, 6-0
    • 5th place playoff: Tomi Main def. Alexandra Ozerets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • $25,000 Bucaresti, Romania:
    • 1st place playoff: Ioana Gaspar def. Maria Sara Popa, 6-3, 6-3
    • 2nd place playoff: Simona Ogescu def. Stefana Lazar, 6-2, 6-2
    • 3rd place playoff: Iulia Andreea Ionescu def. Carmen Andreea Herea, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
    • 4th place playoff: Eva Maria Ionescu def. Sara Gvozdenovic, 6-2, 6-0
    • 5th place playoff: Cemre Anil def. Senka Deletic, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
  • $25,000 Adelaide, Australia:
    • 1st place playoff: Monique Barry def. Katherine Westbury, 6-1, 7-6(4)
    • 2nd place playoff: Taylah Lawless def. Belle Thompson, 6-1, 3-0, retired
    • 3rd place playoff: Ashlee Narker def. Dasha Kamenoff, 6-4, 7-5
    • 4th place playoff: Georgia Plunkett def. Milan Krish, 2-1, retired

Tweet of the Week

Congrats, Coco Gauff! Not only do you make us feel old, but unaccomplished too! Who else can say they celebrated their high school graduation in Paris because they’re a Top 20 seed?


Five at The IX: Pam Shriver’s Pre-Roland Garros Presser

Thank you to Tennis Channel for including me in their roundtable with Pam just before Roland Garros. Here are a few of the best quotes:

Q. Who can stop Swiatek and when was the last time you saw someone this dominant entering Roland Garros?

PAM SHRIVER: Fascinating time in women’s tennis, Swiatek assuming the No. 1 ranking when Barty retired, and I don’t think we would have imagined that the No. 1 player on the women’s side would basically have an unbeaten streak since US Open round of 16. Obviously it’s shared between two players.

Who can stop Swiatek on her best surface, clay, at the major where she’s already won? I think right now given her form, given her confidence, I think the only thing that can really stop her is if she shows up below par, below what we’ve seen in the 28 matches in a row on average.

Obviously she had some battles during that streak, the Samsonova match in Stuttgart, the first set against Andreescu last week. There have been moments where she hasn’t been at her best, but her record in second sets or her record in even tight first sets has been tremendous.

So I think she goes in as the biggest favorite since I’d say the last person that’s had a dominant streak like this, 2014 when Serena Williams was the dominant player.

I was thinking about this yesterday. Okay, who has been this dominant, and you could say Ash Barty has some of these qualities, but I would say to win this many tournaments in a row, beating virtually all of your fellow top 10ers and beating a few of them a couple of times, it’s really Serena-like.

Back in my day, it would have been Monica- or Steffi- or Martina-like the way she’s done it. But I will tell you, in order to make a streak like this truly memorable, you have to win at least one major during the streak. And if the pressure starts to build, the combination of the streak plus trying to win Roland Garros, then we can sort of think back to what happened to Novak Djokovic almost 10 years ago when he had an even a longer streak.

Between the streak and trying to win Roland Garros of course he had somebody like Rafa Nadal in the draw, which Swiatek doesn’t have.

But it’s a fascinating thing that’s happened; very unpredictable out of the Australian Open where Barty looked like the dominant No. 1. Now we have a new dominant No. 1, and who can stop her in this era of women’s tennis?

I’ll say one last thing. We’ve seen in recent years unpredictable things can still happen in women’s tennis, especially at the majors, so keep that pattern in mind as we go into this Roland Garros that seems to be so heavily favored towards one player.

But just remember the unpredictability.

Q. Two questions: The last two Australian Open women’s draws had NCAA alums make the finals. This week the NCAA team tournament will conclude. I’m curious if you follow the collegiate game at all, and if you do, whether any specific players that stick out to you that might be able to break through within the next couple of years on tour.

PAM SHRIVER: Great question. First off, what Jen Brady did at the Australian Open almost a year and a half ago and then Danielle Collins five months ago, amazing.

And I hope to see Jen Brady back from her injury soon because it was really fun. Remember, she got to the semis, one of the greatest days of women’s tennis, semifinal in majors in probably a decade or two was the one where she lost to — I think she lost to Osaka and then Azarenka beat Serena.

Anyway, yes, college tennis is contributing in both the men’s and the women’s side in a big way. I do not follow it enough. I tend to follow who wins the teams. I don’t watch a lot of dual matches, although I know they’re covered sometimes on Tennis Channel or some of the streaming services.

It would probably be a good idea for me to follow it more carefully, given the fact it’s becoming more of a developmental pipeline for the pro tour.

Q. A lot of the top 100 WTA players on the doubles side come from a lot of different colleges and universities. Because you are a doubles legend, I’m curious on your thoughts on the current state of the WTA doubles and if there are any teams that in your eyes can break through at Roland Garros.

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I actually feel that the doubles specialists, the ones who are just really focusing on it, really have better chance at the majors. The Krejcikova situation with Siniakova is really unusual in the modern game, to have her come away last year with both titles.

Most of the time at the majors now, anyone who considers themselves a contender to do well in the singles, they really want to go all in. So any number of those teams that made the recent finals in Rome — actually, I was really saddened to see the picture.

I didn’t realize until I saw the social media posts that the women’s doubles final was played at the same time as the men’s singles final. That to me is just uncalled for, terrible programming. We could have a whole separate conference call on the scheduling of both Madrid and Rome, not to mention the prize money of Rome, but that’s for a different time.

To answer your question, I think the teams that have been together the most who have won recently, come through in finals, look at the ones who have won the most match tiebreaks. Even though at the French Open they’re going to play out the final set.

But look at the teams who have won. This is what Martina and I got on a roll with. We just won the pressure situations and we had so much confidence. Obviously we didn’t specialize; we were playing both. But it’s still the same philosophy. You get to know your teammate so well and you work as one in a way that helps in the pressure situations so that you have a lot of confidence in each other.

I think it could be any number of the teams that have done well recently.

Q. I wanted to ask you, who are your American favorites at Roland Garros? We’ve had some strong performances on clay over the last few weeks. Pegula, like Anisimova; on the men’s side, Opelka, Fritz. But there anyone in this current group that you think could have a good result?

PAM SHRIVER: Yes, I do think there are more Americans that have a better chance, say, to reach the second week of the French this year on the men’s and women’s combined. Maybe especially on the men’s side.

As usual, I think the women still have a better chance to have a deeper run……Pegula, based on Madrid, and also she followed up an exhausting run to the finals and doing well in doubles — she played pretty well in Rome — and Pegula is like no kidding, one tough out on the women’s tour right now.

So I think she for sure can be second week.

If Swiatek does falter, she would be in the handful or more than a handful, two, three handfuls of players that might have a chance.

Anisimova, I’m pleased that she’s gotten through a difficult March when the situation with Darren developed and she had to figure out again her coaching team. I feel like she’s responded pretty well.

I am still concerned about how she is emotionally in the tightest moments. I just want to see a little more maturity and a little more perspective and not kind of the look of anxiety, almost panic sometimes when the going gets tough…..It’s exciting. It’s exciting to have that many Americans with chances to win multiple matches at Roland Garros. We didn’t have that for a long time

Q. I just want to do a quick lightning round. A few others have been women’s tennis observers for a good while, and I want to briefly name the different strokes and just off the top of your head who is foremost at those strokes or attributes. Obviously the first one would be first serve.

PAM SHRIVER: Serena.

Q. Second serve?

PAM SHRIVER: Serena.

Q. The forehand?

PAM SHRIVER: Graf.

Q. The return?

PAM SHRIVER: Seles.

Q. And net play?

PAM SHRIVER: Navratilova.

Q. And speed or anticipation?

PAM SHRIVER: Graf.

Q. Mental toughness?

PAM SHRIVER: Chris Evert.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Eleni Demestihas, @strongforecheck, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon