US Open qualifying begins — Quotes from Cincy — Must-click women’s tennis links
The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Aug. 23, 2022
(Editor’s note: I am speaking at the Baseball Hall of Fame tomorrow, so Basketball Wednesday will return next Wednesday, Aug. 31. We’ll be back in your inbox with Addie Parker for Golf Thursday on Aug. 26, however!)
Like I did last week about wildcards to look out for, I figured this week I would give a little bit of a taste of my famous predictions with three names I think will emerge out of the qualifying and find themselves amongst the main draw participants:
(4) Linda Noskova
If there’s a name you want to know for the future, a good pick is Noskova. The Czech native is only 17 years old and recently entered the Top 100. She captured the 2021 Roland Garros junior title and qualified for the main draw this year before narrowly losing to Emma Raducanu in a very tight two-setter. In the last 12 months, she’s captured four ITF World Tour titles, including a $100,000 event last month. While she’s had pretty much all of her success on clay, she did reach her first WTA semifinal in Prague recently on the hardcourts. Among her victims that week was Alize Cornet. A potential second-round match against Eugenie Bouchard can be tricky, but I expect the toughest test to come from American Katrina Scott, who has been playing stellar lately. Of course, it’s dependent on qualifier placements, but if Noskova qualifies, she could be due for a nice run.
Though she needed a wildcard to enter the qualifying tournament, I really like McHale’s draw. As a former World No. 24 and winner of 9 main draw matches in New York, she’s easily the most seasoned veteran in her section. While her summer hardcourt results haven’t warranted a greenlight to breeze through qualifying, she has the advantage of coming through three matches to make the main draw of Wimbledon this year. She’s one of four players in her section that’s played a Grand Slam main draw, with two only making their debut at Wimbledon. One intangible that many might not think about is that the US Open is McHale’s home tournament. She grew up in New Jersey and trained at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center throughout much of her career. If there’s any player to embrace the surroundings and get some fan encouragement to push them forward, it’s McHale.
Her name alone is worth cheering for because you won’t find a name in tennis that’s more fitting — at least on the women’s side. The 20-year-old captured the 2019 USTA National 18s Championship to play her first main draw in New York, where she played eventual champion Bianca Andreescu. Since, she’s steadily risen up the WTA rankings and finds herself the No. 13 seed. This year alone, she’s qualified for the Australian Open, won the USTA Wild Card Challenge for Roland Garros thanks to a $100,000 ITF World Tour title and also won WTA main draw matches in Paris and Indian Wells. She was the first alternate for a main draw wildcard and you wouldn’t be wrong to object the California native not receiving one. She’s been quietly sneaking up the rankings and currently sits at No. 113. As for her section, she may have a tight first round against Yue Yuan, but a potential third round opponent in Maddison Inglis — who reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open — could be the one to knock her out. Volynets is coming off of a quarterfinal showing at the WTA 125 in Concord with wins over defending champion Greet Minnen and then Harmony Tan. This could be the tournament that launches Volynets into the Top 100, so keep an extra close eye on the American.
Next week, we’ll discuss the main draw and Serena Williams’ final event. However, until then — ONTO LINKS!
This Week in Women’s Tennis
Todd Petty resigned from his head coaching position at Texas Tech after bringing the Red Raiders to be one of the premier Division I programs. USA Today uncovered that he was under investigation when he quit with allegations of a toxic environment that left multiple players in fear.
A la Emma Raducanu’s historic run at the US Open, Caroline Garcia made history as the first qualifier to win a WTA 1000 event since the tier was created in 2009. The Frenchwoman won her 10th WTA singles title at the Western & Southern Open with a win over Petra Kvitova in the final, re-launching her into the Top 20. The doubles title went to Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko, who defeated Toronto finalists Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez.
A la Garcia, Valentini Grammatikopoulou came through via qualifying to win the WTA 125 Odlum VanOpen in Vancouver for the biggest title of her career. Asia Muhammad and Miyu Kato downed Timea Babos and Angela Kulikov to take home the doubles crown.
A fan was removed from a match at the Western & Southern Open between Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya and Anastasia Potapova for having a Ukrainian flag:
Unsurprisingly, Venus Williams leads the list of main draw wildcards for the US Open.
Emma Raducanu hit one unforced error against Serena Williams and only dropped two games against Victoria Azarenka, ensuring that she’s leaving Cincinnati on a good path to defend her US Open title.
Andy Murray spoke out about Serena Williams’ pending retirement after the US Open:
Amy Bryant is one of the names in collegiate tennis you probably haven’t heard, but the legendary Division III coach at Emory University is retiring and reflects on her 20-year coaching career.
Victoria Azarenka alluded to a big announcement on social media yesterday, sending fans into a frenzy, but the former World No. 1 shared that season two of her podcast Think About It is available now.
Eugenie Bouchard made her official comeback from shoulder surgery this past week in Vancouver, but this credential mishap sure welcomed the former Top 5 player:
Even decades after retirement, WTA Legend Chris Evert still has the hunger that brought her to glory.
Julia Fliegler of the University of Michigan captured the singles title at the ITA National Summer Championship, while Furman University’s Ellie Schoppe and Jessica Dawson took home the doubles.
Tweet of the Week
I was fortunate enough to attend Serena Williams’ last match in Cincinnati against Emma Raducanu, but a certain player who lost earlier in the day thought she’d be able to sneak by and watch as well:
Five at The IX: Western & Southern Open
Q. Did you come here this week with the expectation and the belief that you are going to win, or does there come a point in the week when you get through a match where you start to think, hey, I might be able to get it done?
CAROLINE GARCIA: No (smiling). To be honest, not so much. It’s not really the way I think about things.
Obviously when you arrive in quarter and semi, you are, like, yeah, you know it’s getting closer, you know it’s around the corner. I was already there. I was, like, I’m tired and it’s only quarterfinal. It’s still a long way to go to the end.
So I don’t really think about it, like going all the way. I was really focused on every single match. Every single match it was a challenge. I was playing a good girl, like top 10, and I had to play my best every day, trying to recover as well, because it was a lot of matches in a row.
No, I mean, just things went on day after day and it went fast at the end.
Q. In terms of what you take from this week, obviously there is match play, there is the confidence of the wins that you were able to pull off, things like that, but what do you take forward? Or do you not take things forward anymore, because I know you are into kind of enjoying the thing that is right now.
PETRA KVITOVA: Well, I’m very pleased that I didn’t have to practice, so definitely having matches, it’s much, much better for me than have to have the practices.
The match play of course it’s important, and as I think you are teaching new things in the match and having better fitness, because you have to really move and everything, it just over 100%, which I don’t think that you can ever get it in practice. So that’s I think it’s very important, especially before US Open.
The big question right now is with my health, how everything will be in a couple of days, but still having a week before US Open will help me, I hope. Then will be new tournament and everything.
But I have to see probably more positive the things that even I didn’t play always the best, I always find a solution to came back, always waited, I was very patient in matches, I played my great game as well, I had some rallies as well. So I think I can find few positive things even in this stage of my career. So I think that’s very important and nice, actually.
Q. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Adelaide and Australian Open, you seemed very relaxed. You seemed very let’s-go-with-the-flow. Seems like a very similar energy around you here in Cincinnati this week. I’m curious if you feel that at all, and if you felt like coming into this week that there was a different vibe around Team Keys?
MADISON KEYS: I definitely think I feel very similar to the start of the year and honestly just not really worrying about winning and losing. It’s obviously hard, especially after having a good result, to keep that, Oh, it doesn’t matter, it’s fine. Then you start looking at the race and the rankings and all of that.
It’s hard to keep that mindset consistently, but after having not-great matches in San Jose and Toronto, and then being able to play doubles, it really just kind of helped me, one, just enjoy playing tennis, and it was great to have Sania there.
It was the first time and maybe the last time we will ever play doubles. I told her she has to play next year and we will play doubles all year (smiling).
Just having that opportunity to have some fun, play some matches, and get that just competitive, it’s-fine, go-out-and-play tennis really helped shift this week’s mentality.
Q. Do you feel as though, like last night you were joking that with the wobbles that you wanted to call your psychologist after the second set, but how mentally challenging has it been for you kind of this season, managing emotions, managing your game with all the ups and downs, and how proud are you that you have managed to make another WTA 1000 semi?
ARYNA SABALENKA: Well, yeah, this season was really crazy for me, a lot of challenges. Yeah, I’m super proud of myself that I was able to handle all these tough moments this year and I was able to fight. Even if something didn’t work, I was still keep trying my best, still fighting for it.
Yeah, I’m super happy to be in another semifinal, and I will do my best tomorrow.
Q. With the draw coming out relatively early, and you had days to kind of think about this match and everything, what were the nerves and what were the feelings like? How did you manage that? You only hit one unforced error today in the entire match today, which is a pretty remarkable stat.
EMMA RADUCANU: Yeah, I didn’t really know that stat, but I got the draw. I didn’t even open the draw. I mean, I got a text saying, You’re playing Serena, exclamation mark. I just landed from Toronto. To be honest, my initial reaction, I was just like, Wow, that is writ, and that is a gift. I can’t believe it.
I mean, the chances to play her may be one of the last opportunities I get to play her. You have to cherish the moment, and you’re going to have this memory for the rest of your career.
Yeah, I was just really trying to make the most out of every single point out there and give myself the best memories of when I played Serena once.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer|
|By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next|
|By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX|
|By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden|
|By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer|