ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Darren Cahill held a conference call today wherein they discussed current events and observations of the game.
For one, Fernandez is fond of Christina McHale:
Christina is such a hard worker, with a great disposition. She wants to keep improving her game and she had a really good week. The next step for her is to finish off her matches. She had bad luck not finishing off Kerber, but I was proud of how she finished against Kvitova. She knows the keys to improving and her ranking just keeps going up.
Cahill was asked if he would compare the men’s top 10 of today to the top ten of ten years ago.
Every generation is different, but if you go back to Chang or Krajicek, Sampras and the others, if you were outside the top 10, if you could step your game up a notch, you felt like you had a chance. Now, these players today, the top 4, are more physical than I’ve ever seen. Djokovic had problems with his serve. He solved that problem. (Today’s Top 4) are the best movers and the best returners, too. We’re very lucky to be in this era.
On the hindrance rule of which Serena Williams fell afoul in last year’s US Open and Mardy Fish violated at Indian Wells before retiring to Matthew Ebden:
MJF: If you say “C’mon!” before the point is over, that’s hindrance. I think it was a good call on Serena at the US Open.
DC: The rule is quite simple. The point is awarded to the other player. Even if you smash a point and yell ‘come on’ before the second bounce. There needs to be a little more common sense in interpreting the rule. That was pretty rough that Mardy lost that point.
After declaring that Nick Bollettieri should definitely be in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Cahill opined to Tennis Maryland on the difficulties of a younger coach coming along in the style that Bollettieri or Braden did.
The question of putting together a tennis academy is much tougher than it once was. The elite juniors of the world and their associations hire away good coaches. But the best coaches in the world are the ones whose names we don’t know. They’re the ones on court with the 8-to-12 year olds day in and day out.
Cardiac Kid Christina McHale Barely Fails to Repeat as Quarter Finalist at Indian Wells; Hampton Retires #bnppo12
What a day of ups and downs for the USA WTA contingent. The sole surviving American interests in the women’s part of the BNP Paribas Open faced significant drama and yes, ’swings’ of all kinds.
First, Jamie Hampton, the New South’s new tennis darling (after ignominious hard times for Melanie Oudin), had placed #5 Agnieszka Radwanska in a difficult spot. After giving away the first set, Hampton rallied to win the second in the breaker and clearly had the momentum. Then, Hampton gave way and retired in the third set, yet another victim of the Infamous Indian Well Water Bug.
But the toughest news of today is that Christina McHale, our Mid-Atlantic sister, lost in dramatic style against 2011 US Open Semi-finalist Angelique Kerber of Germany. It was another topsy-turvy match for McHale, who won a comeback three-setter on Sunday against 2011 Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova. Today’s final score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(4) was even a tighter loss than the tight win McHale notched against Kvitova. McHale and her Navy failed to sail forward to face the winner of Kirilenko/Petrova, who play later tonight. Kerber will face that winner. But tonight, it was McHale who showed an aura of grit and determination about her that suggests that she will do much greater things in her career than simply getting back to a second straight Quarterfinal in Indian Wells.
This has been a stressful US Open. Between the weather, the warped courts, the men’s mutiny, recriminations that men are treated better than women, empty Arthur Ashe, the recurring roof ramblings and all of the court changes, Tennis Maryland sincerely believes that players, fans and officials will need months of group therapy to overcome the demons of Flushing Meadows.
While we’re all in this together, it feels as if the real battles of US Open 2011 have been fought off the courts. Now that we’re in semifinal mode, let’s hope that the stellar play of the next three days erases the memories of the last week.
We’re going to pick Angeliquie Kerber to upset Samantha Stosur tonight. We said it. That will be the last upset we pick in this tournament. Three sets, two tie-breaks. Kerber is already 1-0 on Grandstand and 3-0 on Court 17 this fortnight. If the match were to be held on Ashe, we wouldn’t give her a great chance. Stosur’s already won two matches on Armstrong, so she would have been ready to play in Ashe in a comfortable setting. Venue is always important in tennis. That’s why we’re going long and predicting Angelique.
In other news, Djokovic will beat Federer and Nadal will destroy Murray this afternoon. In the least shocking prediction, Serena will do a defensive linesman’s war dance on Wozniacki’s lifeless game tonight.