A year ago, the Williams sisters’ return to dominance was one of the lead stories at the Australian Open. Since then, the world of women’s tennis had seen the rise of the next generation. Bob Dylan described it best, “The times they are a changin”.
Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, seeded #1 and #2, put on an incredible display of shot making in the finals match won by Wozniacki, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4. Both players deserved to win the match! Their performance is great for women’s tennis.
Unfortunately, “The times they are a changin” for American women’s tennis. In 2017, the American women won 30 matches and lost 17. Combined, the Williams sisters won 13 of the 30 matches won by American women.
In 2018, the 18 American women won 9 matches and lost 18. Madison Keys won 4 of those 9 matches. Only 4 of the 18 women won matches. Ugh!
Four American women were seeded. Venus Williams, #5, Coco Vandeweghe #10, and Sloane Stephens #13 all lost in the first round.
Williams lost a tough match to up and coming star Belinda Bencic and Stephens botched an opportunity to close out the match in two sets. On the other hand, Vandeweghe redefined the phrase “ugly American” with her childish behavior on the court. She was fined $10,000 for yelling at her opponent, “F–k you, you, f—ing bitch.”
Madison Keys, #17 seed, is establishing a reputation as the most reliable young American player. She held her seed and advanced to the quarterfinals where she was decisively defeated by #21 seed Kerber.
First round losers included Madison Brengle, Kristie Ahn, Varvara Lepchenko, Shelby Rogers, Christina McHale, Venus Williams, Irina Falconi, Sophia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Jennifer Brady, Coco Vandeweghe, Alison Riske, Taylor Townsend, and Catherine Bellis.
In fairness, to the American women, 8 of the first round losers lost to seeded players, as follows: Brengle lost to Konta #9, Ahn was defeated by Strycova #20, Lepchenko was ousted by Sevastova #14, Rogers fell to Lucic-Baroni #28, Falconi lost to Gavritilova #23, Kenin was beat by Goerges #12, Townsend was ousted by Rybarikova #19, and Bellis was defeated by Bertens #30. An argument can be made that it is okay to lose to seeded players; however, none of the losses were to players seeded in the top 8.
Nicole Gibbs, a graduate from Stanford, posted a 1-1 record. She fell to #30 seeded Bertens in the second round.
Both Lauren Davis and Bernarda Pera had breakthrough tournaments. Davis lost a squeaker to #1 seed Simona Halep, 6-4, 4-6, 13-15. Pera finished 2-1, upsetting #9 seed Johanna Konta in the 2nd round and bowing out to Strycova, #3 seed in the 3rd round.
Typically, the American women have had solid-to-strong performances in the Grand Slams. Hopefully their overall results in Melbourne are an anomaly. The times they are a changin’ for the American women. It will be more evident how much “they are changin” in a couple of months at the French Open and Wimbledon.