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.


American Tennis Without the Williams Sisters

Since they first hit the tour, Venus and Serena Williams have been the face of women’s tennis in the U.S. The following tables show the gap between the Williams sisters in age, ranking, and earnings.

Seventeen American women were entered in the first Grand Slam of the year, the 2016 Australian Open. The following table shows the age, earnings, and rank of the first-round women losers who represented the U.S. in Melbourne.

Name Age Career Earnings February 9 Ranking
Alison Riske 26 $1.7 million 92nd
Christina McHale 24 $2.2 million 62nd
Sloane Stephens 22 $3.7 million 25th
Anna Tatishvili 26 $1.4 million 116th
Coco Vandeweghe 24 $2.2 million 46th
Samantha Crawford 20 $277,000 110th
Victoria Duval 20 $290,000 587th
Venus Williams 35 $32.6 million 12th
Bethanie Mattek-Sands 30 $4.5 million 77th

The second and third round losers are listed in the table below.

Name Age Career Earnings February 9 Ranking
Irina Falconi 25 $1.2 million 75th
Nicole Gibbs 23 $730 105th
Vania King 27 $3.6 million 227th
Varvara Lepchenko 29 $3.3 million 49th
Madison Brengle 25 $1.2 million 57th
Lauren Davis 22 $1.4 million 99th

The following table lists the same information finalist Serena Williams and Madison Keys, who reached the round of 16.

Name Age Career Earnings February 9 Ranking
Madison Keys 21 $3.1 million 24th
Serena Williams 34 $75.4 million 1st

Despite being the oldest American players, the Williams sisters still continue to dominate in the rankings. It is unlikely the Americans who are 24 or older will make it into the top ten – they are able to compete internationally, but they are not elite players.

Given the track record of the USTA Player Development program, it is not a comforting thought to envision what American tennis will look like without the Williams sisters.

Will the Americans Show up at the 2015 French Open?

The 2015 French Open is right around the corner and the American men and women hope to erase their abysmal performance in 2014.

Last year Taylor Townsend and Sloane Stephens were the only American women to advance past the second round. Townsend lost in the third round and Stephens lost in the round of 16.

On the men’s side John Isner had the top performance last year. He held his seed by winning three matches before being defeated in the round of 16.

The expectations are low for the seven American men in the 2015 draw. Going into the tournament the following six American men were ranked in the top 100 on the ATP tour:
• 16 John Isner
• 37 Jack Sock
• 38 Sam Querrey
• 52 Donald Young
• 56 Steve Johnson
• 73 Tim Smyczek
Frances Tiafoe was not ranked in the top 100.

Isner is seeded 16th. He is a steady performer who usually holds his seed. With good fortune, he will hold his seed this year.

The outlook for the women is slightly brighter, if for no other reason than 17 American women are in the draw. Unfortunately, 13 of them are in the upper half.

The four players in the lower half will be fortunate to get past the second round (Chirico, Gibbs, Davis, and Brengle).

There are three American women seeded. As expected Serena Williams is first. Her sister, Venus, is seeded 15th, and Madison Keys is seeded 16th. The outlook for these seeds follows:
• Venus will play Sloane Stephens in the first round. That is an intriguing match-up.
• Keys has had a solid year; however, she is in a tough bracket. It is unlikely she will hold her seed.
• Because Serena is so dominant it will be hard to cheer against her to win the tournament, especially since she lost in the first round last year. Unfortunately, the upper half of the draw is clearly more loaded with talent than the lower half.

Going into the French Open the following 13 American women were ranked in the top 100:
• 1 Serena Williams
• 15 Venus Williams
• 16 Madison Keys
• 33 Coco Vandeweghe
• 34 Varvara Lepchenko
• 36 Madison Brengle
• 41 Sloane Stephens
• 46 Alison Riske
• 55 Christina McHale
• 64 Lauren Davis
• 80 Shelby Rogers
• 84 Irina Falconi
• 97 Nicole Gibbs
Alexa Glatch, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Taylor Townsend, and Louisa Chirico were not ranked in the top 100.

Best wishes to the Americans for a strong performance and some upsets at the 2015 French Open.

U.S. Women – Hope and Change at Australian Open

Very early this morning Mountain Standard Time, Victoria Azarenka maintained her number one ranking with the defense of her title at the Australian Open. For the Americans, the theme of the tournament was hope and change – led by Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. There is hope that the change in American women’s tennis will include players who have the potential to consistently play at the level of the Williams sisters.

Oddly enough, Taylor Townsend was absent. As the 2012 junior winner, Townsend was given an automatic slot in the qualifying tournament for the Open; however, she reportedly did not enter the event because the USTA did not provide sponsorship funding. (Last fall, the USTA chose to stop funding her because she was “out of shape.”)

The Americans were represented by 3 junior girls and 11 women.

Junior Girls

Overall, it was a weak performance for the girls (3-3).

First Round

Jamie Loeb and Alexandra Kiick won their first round matches.

Christina McHale lost in the first round.

Second Round

Kiick advanced and Loeb was defeated.

Third Round

Kiick lost to eventual champion Ana Konjuh.

Women’s Open

Overall, the 11 American women won 14 matches and lost 11. Serena and Venus Williams accounted for 6 of the 14 wins and Sloane Stephens added another five victories.

First Round

Jamie Hampton, Varvara Lepchenko, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, and Venus Williams won their first round matches.

Lauren Davis, Christina McHale, Vania King, Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, and Madison Keys lost their first round matches.

Second Round

Jamie Hampton, Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens, and Venus Williams won their second round matches.

Varvara Lepchenko lost in the second round.

Third Round (Round of Sixteen)

Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens won their third round matches.

Jamie Hampton and Venus Williams lost their third round matches.


Stephens upset Williams in the best win of her career.


Stephens was ousted by Azarenka.

Stephens demonstrated that she may have the ability to follow in the footsteps of the Williams sisters.

Unfortunately the other “talent” appears to be several notches below Stephens. The other unknown in the equation is Taylor Townsend. It seems rather bizarre that the USTA would drop sponsorship of her at a time when she was number 1 in the world in juniors. Hopefully that situation can be resolved to the benefit of all parties.