Americans Have Lackluster Performance at 2017 Women’s French Open

Twenty-year old  Jelena Ostapenko was the story at the 2017 Women’s French Open. Along her path to the title, the 47th-ranked and unseeded Ostapenko beat Louisa Chirico, Monica Puig, Lesia Tsurenko, Sam Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky, and SImona Halep.

The road to victory was not easy for Ostapenko. She won five of her seven matches in three sets.

Unfortunately, there were no Cinderella stories for the 16 American women. As a group they finished 13-16. With the exception of Venus Williams, they demonstrated their strength was not playing on the red clay at Roland Garros.

First round losers were:
• Louisa Chirico
• Alison Riske
• Coco Vandeweghe
• Christina McHale
• Julia Boserup
• Jennifer Brady
• Amanda Anisinova
• Lauren Davis
Chirico lost to Ostapenko, McHale lost to 8th seed Kuznetsova, Brady lost to 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic. Admittedly, these women had tougher than normal first round matches. On the other hand, Coco Vandeweghe (seeded 19th) and Lauren Davis (seeded 25th) did not hold their seeds.  It is noteworthy that Amanda Anisimova played in both the girls’ junior singles and the championships.

The following American women were 1-1. They bowed out in the second round:
• Madison Brengle
• Varvara Lepchenko
• Taylor Townsend
• Madison Keys
Unfortunately, Keys did not hold her 12th seed.

Four American women had 2-1 records, losing in the third round:
• Shelby Rogers
• Catherine (CiCi) Bellis
• Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Bellis, an 18-year old, is the youngest of the group. She has shown promise since defeating 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova at the 2014 U.S. Open. Bellis has improved since that match and is on track to be a force in the top ten.

Venus Williams, seeded 10th, was the only American woman to hold her seed with a 3-set loss to Timea Bacsinszky in the round of 16.

The next Grand Slam stop is WImbledon. Will Venus Williams continue to play well and be the American woman with the most wins? Will Madison Keys finally have a break through tournament? WIll one of the younger players such as Jennifer Brady, Shelby Rogers, or Coco Vandeweghe have a break through event? Check back in a couple of weeks.


It’s Three in a Row for Serena

The 2016 French Open was the third Grand Slam in a row where Serena Williams was upset in the finals by an unlikely competitor. This time her loss came at the hands of the rising Spanish star, Garbine Muguruza.

Even with the loss, Williams remains almost untouchable. So far this season she is 24-4 in 5 tournaments, bringing her career singles win-loss record to 761-127. This year Williams has won 1 tournament, lost in the finals of 3 tournaments and bowed out in the round of 16 in the other tournament. Impressive!

Serena Williams was one of 18 American women playing at the 2016 French Open.

First round losers for the Americans were:
• Samantha Crawford
• Sachia Vickery
• Lauren Davis
• Bethanie Mattek-Sands
• Madison Brengle
• Nicole Gibbs
• Varvara Lepchenko
• Christina McHale
• Alison Riske

The following American women were 1-1 and bowed out in the second round:
• Taylor Townsend
• Louisa Chirico
• Irina Falconi
• Coco Vandeweghe

Sloane Stephens held her #19 seed and exited in the third round with a 2-1 record.

Venus Williams, #9 seed, and Madison Keys, #15 seed, had solid tournaments finishing with 3 wins and 1 loss each. They bowed out in the round of 16.

Shelby Rogers had the best tournament of her career. She finished 4-1, while losing in the quarterfinals to Muguruza.

Overall the American women had a strong tournament with a combined total of 22 wins and 18 losses.

There is also good news with the American junior girls. Amazingly, they all won their first round matches.

In the second round, the following girls were defeated and finished with1-1 records:
• Maria Mataes
• Caty McNally
• Claire Liu
• Alexandra Sanford
• Morgan Coppoc

In the third round 4 girls lost and finished the tournament with 2-1 records:
• Usue Maltano Arconada
• Kayla Day
• Sofia Kenin
• Michaela Gordon
Kenin held her #10 seed by reaching the third round.

Amanda Anisimova held her number two seed and lost 7-5, 7-5 in the finals to the number 12 seed, Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland. Overall, the Americans girls posted a cumulative 18-10 record.

Wimbledon is right around the corner and hopefully there will be more good news for the American women and girls.

WTA Rankings Point to Solid Grand Slam Season for Americans

The release of the March 7th WTA rankings portends reasonable success for the American women in the remaining 3 Grand Slams this year.

Serena Williams is the only American woman in the top 10. Without a doubt she will be the player to beat if she remains healthy. Nine countries have players ranked in the top 10. Spain is represented by Muguruza and Suárez Navarro. The average age of the top 10 players is 26.4 years.

Top Ten WTA Through March 7th 2016

Ranking Player Country Age Points
1 Serena Williams United States 34 9,245
2 Angelique Kerber Germany 28 5,700
3 Agnieszka Radwanska Poland 27 5,450
4 Garbiñe Muguruza Spain 22 4,831
5 Simona Halep Romania 24 4,745
6 Carla Suárez Navarro Spain 28 4,015
7 Maria Sharapova Russia 29 3,562
8 Belinda Bencic Switzerland 19 3,505
9 Petra Kvitova Czech Republic 26 3,483
10 Roberta Vinci Italy 33 3,455

There are 13 Americans ranked in the top 100. With the exception of Serena they are excellent players who will occasionally have some great wins, but their lack of points demonstrates they are not capable of consistently competing with the top 10 players. The average age of the American women ranked in the top 100 is 26.7 years. The Williams sisters and Mattek-Sands are the only players over 30.

American Women Ranked in the Top 100

Ranking,Player, Country Age, Points

Ranking Player Age Points
1 Serena Williams 34 9,245
12 Venus Williams 36 3,082
22 Sloane Stephens 23 2,215
24 Madison Keys 21 2,060
38 Coco Vandeweghe 24 1,271
52 Varvara Lepchenko 30 1,057
58 Madison Brengle 26 1,005
62 Christina McHale 24 990
80 Irina Falconi 26 800
88 Bethanie Mattek-Sands 31 744
91 Alison Riske 26 733
95 Nicole Gibbs 23 714
99 Lauren Davis 22 678

Looking ahead to the remaining Grand Slams, Venus, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Varvara Lepchenko are expected to play solid tennis. They may have some upset victories; however, given their age, it is unlikely they will win any tournaments.

Several years ago some coaches felt that Sloane Stephens would follow in the footsteps of the Williams sisters. To date she has been less successful in the Grand Slam events than others. Fortunately, she has time on her side.

Unlike Stephens, Madison Keys has demonstrated that she is the real deal. Her best showing was in 2015 when she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open.

The remaining players have shown flashes of brilliance at times, but have not excelled in the Grand Slams. They are young and this may be their breakout year.

Next Stop, the French Open on May 16th.

Serena Still the Most Dominant Player in Women’s Tennis

Bummer! Serena Lost!

After being the most dominant player in women’s tennis for the past decade, it is disappointing that Serena Williams was not able to cap off 2015 with a calendar Grand Slam.

At the same time the fairy tale finish of Italian finalists Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta gives hope to underdogs everywhere. They demonstrated that even against the most staggering odds, it is possible for unseeded and lower ranked players to win matches they are “supposed” to lose.

Day-in and day-out Serena Williams has been the player to beat at the U.S. Open since her first match there in 1998. Her win-loss record in the tourney is 84-10; she has won the championship six times, and has been the runner-up on two occasions.  Even though Serena has dominated the U.S. Open, she has raised the bar for how the sport should be played and she has made her competitors better players.

Overall, the American women were a force to be reckoned with. In addition to Serena’s strong showing her sister, Venus, reached the quarters while Madison Keys and Varvara Lepchenko were ousted in the 16s.

American Women 1st Rd 0-1 2nd Rd 1-1 3rd Rd 2-1 16s 3-1 Qrtrs 4-1 Semis 5-1 Finals
Serena Williams X
Bethanie Mattek-Sands X
Coco Vandeweghe X
Sloane Stephens X
Madison Keys X
Irina Falconi X
Samantha Crawford X
Venus Williams X
Madison Brengle X
Anna Tatishvili X
Lauren Davis X
Vania King X
Sofia Kenin X
Alison Riske X
Jessica Pegula X
Nicole Gibbs X
Louise Chirico X
Christina McHale X
Jamie Loeb X
Varvara Lepchenko X
Shelby Rogers X
Sachia Vickery X
TOTAL W-L 13-9 7-6 4-3 2-2 1-1 0-1

Combined, the 22 American women had a solid 27-22 win-loss record.

It is exciting to see promising Americans working their way through the ranks as top junior players. Over the next three months they will have a chance to hone their skills in China and neighboring countries in hopes that some day they can fill the void that will be left when the Williams sisters retire.

Next stop! Australian Open January 18, 2016

American Women – More Fizzle than Sizzle at U.S. Open

With the exception of Serena Williams, there was more fizzle than sizzle on the courts for the American women at the 2014 U.S. Open.

The pre-match publicity set high expectations for the American women. Unfortunately, they didn’t live up to the hype.

The best news was that twelve of the seventeen women advanced past the first round and Serena captured her 18th Grand Slam.

First round losers included Taylor Townsend, Lauren Davis, Alison Riske, Grace Min, and Danielle Collins.

The second round reduced the number of American women from twelve to four.

The losers included Vania King, Coco Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers, Madison Keys, Christina McHale, C.C. Bellis, Sloane Stephens, and Madison Brengle. The losses by Keys and Stephens were particularly painful.

Varvara Lepchenko, Nicole Gibbs, and Venus Williams bowed out in the third round, with 2-1 records.

There were some bright spots. Overall, the American women won 21 matches and lost 16. (Serena Williams won seven of those matches).

Despite first round loses, Americans Taylor Townsend and Donald Young teamed up to reach the semifinals of the Mixed Doubles. Unfortunately, success in professional tennis is usually measured in Grand Slam singles wins and trophies.

C.C. Bellis charmed spectators with her tennis and innocence. Time will tell if she turns out to be a rising star or the next Melanie Oudin.

The 2014 U.S. Open was a test of not only the player’s tennis skills, but their physical strength and fitness level. Eugenie Bouchard and Peng Shuai can attest to that. Much of the event was played under the WTA Tour’s extreme heat rules, which presented an extra challenge to players in all brackets.

What is in store for the American women when the Williams sisters retire? At the moment the answer is simple. There is heir apparent among the younger American women.

Congratulations to Serena Williams on another great Grand Slam performance.