The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Lindsay Gibbs, August 20, 2019

Madison Keys triumphs — OMG the U.S. Open is in a week — We are not worthy of Svetlana Kuznetsova

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New York, baby!

So, friends, I have some wild and crazy news for you: This time next week when we talk, the U.S. Open will be underway.

This is, honestly, nearly an impossible fact for my mind to grasp.

Wasn’t I just right here writing the same thing about the French Open? Didn’t Simona Halep win Wimbledon, like yesterday? What is time?

Anyway, it doesn’t matter how overwhelmed I am by that fact. It is true. And no amount of shock at how the calendar works will keep me from being extremely, extremely excited. As an American — and a person who spent most of my 20s as a New York City resident — the bright lights and excessive enormity of Arthur Ashe Stadium just gets me PUMPED. UP.

So, it’s hard to get deep into what to expect at the U.S. Open without an actual draw.

Naomi Osaka is the top seed, but she’s dealing with injuries, and, I mean, to say the spotlight will be on the defending champion is a a gross, gross understatement. Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova have also been dealing with injuries.

Ashleigh Barty or Simona Halep could definitely win their second major of the year, Karolina Pliskova is more than capable of finally winning her maiden major — or I think she is, at least. Bianca Andreescu can’t be counted out after her triumph in Canada, and Madison Keys is definitely one of the favorites after playing the best tennis I’ve maybe ever seen from her to win Cincinnati last week. And, for that matter, 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova made it to the finals in Cincy, and dazzled along the way, and oh my gosh I love her so much but even I can’t talk myself into considering her one of the favorites.

The truth is: Nobody knows what’s going to happen in New York. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be a phenomenal showcase for women’s tennis. I’m just excited to sit back and watch.

This week in tennis

Terrible news: 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova’s father and coach, Konstantin Anisimov, died suddenly this week, and she has understandably withdrawn from the U.S. Open. We are sending condolences to her family.

Before this news came out, espnW did a deep dive on Anisimova.

Here’s the great WTA Insider podcast with Keys after her Cincinnati win.

Great article on Kuznetsova’s shocking and delightful run to the final.

Sloane Stephens has split with her coach, Sven Groeneveld. It had only been three months. The timing is, um, not ideal.

Naomi Osaka retired from a match in Cincy because of a knee injury, and yes, we should be concerned about her status for the U.S. Open.

Madison Keys wrote a piece for ESPN about her connection to the Cincy tournament.

Carlos Ramos won’t be calling a Serena or Venus match for the rest of this year, and honestly, that makes sense and is a pretty normal thing for certain umpires to not work matches for certain players and it’s not a big deal.

ESPN looks back at Osaka/Serena. There’s going to be a lot of that over the next two weeks.

Love this look back at Melanie Oudin’s U.S. Open “Believe” run, which was 10 years ago, because we are old.

The Wall Street Journal asks: Do women play with faster tennis balls?

Here’s a look at the WTA international event taking place in the Bronx this week.

The Aurora Games, which our own Erica Ayala has been keeping you up-to-date about, has a phenomenal tennis field. Team World is Garbine Muguruza, Belinda Bencic, and Victoria Azarenka. Team Americas is Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu, and Monica Puig. That’ll do.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: The Best of Svetlana Kuznetsova

I was going to share another Citi Open interview with you all this week, but honestly, we have a full week of Svetlana Kuznetsova press conference transcripts, and I would be doing a disservice to my dear readers if I didn’t share a few of my favorite Sveta answers.

Q. You said Russian mentality is taking risks. So what do you think makes that kind of mentality? Is it culture, running in the DNA?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: DNA? In Russia we say believe today and not tomorrow. So some people can have not much money but they will spend everything today. We say we don’t take money to the grave. You never know.

It’s something you have to enjoy today. We go crazy. We go for everything. So sometimes patience works good. I think it’s a culture, it’s in DNA, it’s in everything. Also in the environment, where you live in Russia and how the times are tough, you don’t know what’s gonna be tomorrow, if it’s gonna happen. So you rather have something good today.

Q. Do you plan on taking money to the grave?

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: It’s very difficult question. I fight it. I fight it. I want to live today and I want to live tomorrow. It’s like angel and other guy, bad guy, is there fighting in my head.

Q. How does it feel to come back and still be crossing things off of things that you have never done before?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: As they say, it’s always something for the first time. No, really, I’m really happy. I think I have analyzed all my mistakes. I’m not really analyzing person, but somehow, like, on my intuition, I’m doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes. Just playing smarter and wiser now. At 34 I should start, I think (smiling).

Q. You mentioned I think before when you were talking about your visa problems that you were going to drop in the rankings or you weren’t sure if this means you had to stop playing. Curious if you feel like this tournament has sort of saved your career? Your ranking has gone way, way, way up after this.

SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Well, sometimes in life it’s like this. It’s like really small things change everything. Definitely it’s different momentum I have now.

I was coming here trying to enjoy the tennis, and I still have the same goal. Taking losses not so hard on myself, as the wins as well. Yeah, I’m really happy I’m in the finals, but it’s not so happy or end of the life if I lose or amazing.

I’m still happy person. I enjoy what I do. And this is the main thing, to stay stable everywhere in the life.

Q. Fourth time you have played [Keys]. Anything change — they are all different matches — but with respect to today’s game plan as opposed to other ones as a result of how well you’re playing this week versus her?
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Oh, I don’t — when I saw I lost to her three times, I won’t even remember. Like, this is good about me. I don’t remember anything like good or bad, but my memory is like Dory from ‘Looking for Nemo.’ I’m totally Dory on this.

I remember one time in Sydney she killed me with her strokes, but now, as I was feeling I’m moving well and I’m confident in my movement. I don’t know. It was new match. Of course it changed everything. I felt like I had chances, and it motivates me to play her next time, because I see the things what I can change in the future. I felt like if I would play two more sets I would have more chances (smiling).

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team