By Chris Oddo | Monday, August 4, 2014
Serena Williams won her 61st career title and David Goffin won his first. But both were heroes in our book.
Photo Source: Bet-at-Home Cup
Another week is in the books, and a fresh batch of heroes—and zeros—to go with it. With tour stops in Kitzbuhel, Stanford and D.C., there was a little bit of something for everybody to get excited about.
It wasn’t vintage, flawless and impervious Serena, but it was a spirited step in the right direction for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. It's at times like these, when Williams is forced to conduct a gut check to find a way to victory, that her legendary competitiveness and problem-solving skills come to the fore. Those skills were precisely what seemed to be missing for Williams at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Now that she’s wiggled her way out of a few difficult situations successfully, expect the confidence to come back. Williams has made a reputation as one of the game’s greatest pressure players for a reason. Though she’s struggled at times living up to that reputation in 2014, last week at Stanford she made us all remember why we expect her to come through no matter how dire the circumstances.
Without any further ado, on to the heroes and zeros.
Hero: Serena Williams
Things haven’t come easily for the world No. 1 this season, and her confidence has most certainly been wavering a bit after three premature exits at the Slams in 2014, but Williams went a long way towards re-establishing her dominion over the field last week at Stanford, putting forth a gritty effort to earn her 61st career title and fourth of 2014. There were some tense moments, particularly in her dramatic three-set victory over Ana Ivanovic in Friday’s quarterfinal, but Williams exorcised a few demons in that match, overcoming her doubts to rally to victory against Ivanovic in a battle that could have gone either way.
Her semifinal and final were not without complications either, but at each difficult moment Williams rose to the challenge and summoned her best tennis to wrestle control.
For her efforts, Serena increases her stranglehold on the No. 1 ranking, a post she has held for a remarkable 200 weeks now. Only eight players—male or female—have held the No. 1 ranking for longer.
Many believed that Goffin was destined for big things when he reached the round of 16 in his Roland Garros debut in 2012 as a lucky loser, but it has been two years, and Goffin has been relatively quiet—until last month. Let’s hope this is the beginning of something bigger for Goffin, who at 23, has his whole career in front of him.
Hero: David Goffin
Where it stops, nobody knows. The 23-year-old Belgian became the fifth player from the 90’s to win an ATP title on Saturday, capping off a remarkable streak of 20 consecutive wins with a three-set takedown of hometown favorite Dominic Thiem in Kitzbuhel.
Here’s the details on Goffin’s full 20-match streak, which includes three challenger titles and his first career ATP title, too:
Zero: Sloane Stephens
The fourth-seeded American continued her woeful ways at the Citi Open, dropping her first-round match to Christina McHale. It wasn’t just that Stephens fell—it was the third-set bagel that McHale dropped on her that makes us wonder about the promising young American.
Easier said than done, of course, but are we wrong to expect this type of mature tennis from Isner?
Zero: John Isner
Isner doesn’t get a zero for complaining about not being put on a showcourt at the Citi Open for his second-round match against Steve Johnson (though he easily could). He gets a zero for letting the fact that he wasn’t put on a showcourt get to him, and for losing a match that, based on ranking, he really should have won. This is supposed to be Isner’s time of year, and he had big points to protect in DC after making the final last year. He should have done a better job of compartmentalizing his anger, or—even better—turning it into aggressive, winning tennis.
Hero: Canadian Tennis
Sunday was all about Milos Raonic, but the Citi Open was all about the Canadians, who continue to impress with breakout performances. Add Vasek Pospisil, who upset Tomas Berdych for the biggest win of his career to the list. Pospisil, already a Wimbledon doubles champion as of last month, backed up his upset of Berdych with two wins on Saturday book a place in the first all-Canadian final in ATP history. Absolutely remarkable stuff.
Raonic won the match, notching his first 500-level title, but Canada won the Citi Open. Fittingly, both tours will head north of the border for massive summer events this week. Expect more noise from our friends north of the border in the coming days…
Some more studs and duds from the week that was
Stud: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Not only did Svetlana do a presser on a stationary bike, she also won her first WTA title in four years, taking out Kurumi Nara of Japan for the title.
Dud: Rafa’s Wrist, Li’s Knee
Injuries put a damper on the enthusiasm for the hard court summer, as Li Na withdrew from the U.S. Open due to a lingering knee issue and Rafael Nadal pulled out of both hard court masters events due to a wrist injury, leaving his U.S. Open title defense in doubt.
Stud: Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro
The Spaniards took the doubles title at Stanford. And they smiled with gusto!
Notes, Quotes and Tweets
These dudes really are a lot alike…
You MUST WATCH THIS POINT!!! NOW!!!
Cool shirt, Sveta. The Russian loves her dog, and it’s another reason for fans to love her…
Best practice of all-time? What is Roger gonna say about that?