How tennis times have changed.
Remember the bold talk among the Russophile jackasses of how Russian women were going to “dominate” the game? As the U.S. Open got underway last week in Flushing Meadows, New York, Russia did not have one player seeded in the top ten and had only one player in the top 19.
By Friday evening at the end of the first week, it was clear that at most two of Russia’s six seeded players could get as far as the quarterfinals. Russia’s second-highest seed, Nadia Petrova (#20), lost in the first round to an unseeded opponent. Its third-highest seed Elena Vesnina (#22) lost in the second round to an unseeded opponent, and its lowest seed Anastasia Pavalyuchenkova (#32) lost to the #3 seed in the third round.
This left the country’s top seed, #14 Maria Kirilenko as well as the #24 seed Ekaterina Makarova, and the #27 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova as Russia’s last hopes of denting the upper echelons of the tournament. But Kirilenko and Kuznetsova were drawn against each other in the fourth round, so only two of the three could have made the quarters.
Kirilenko is a player who in her entire ten-year career had never once reached the semifinals of any grand-slam tournament and who had gotten as far as the quarters only three times in nearly fifty tries. In Kirilenko’s first two matches she struck a pathetic total of just 8 winners; in other words, the #14-seeded Russian advanced not because of her own skills but because she faced extremely weak opponents who made a plethora of errors. Contrast that with the #15 seeded American Sloane Stevens, who hit a whopping 62 winners in her first two matches of the tournament, dominating her competition in the early rounds.
That’s was Russia’s “best” player at the final grand slam tournament of 2013. And knowing that, you may not be surprised to learn that hopes for this “best” player to reach the even the fourth round, much less the quarterfinals, were ill-founded. Kirilenko faced the tournaments’s #21 seed, from Romania, in the third round and lost every single game of the match except for one. She was blown off the court in fifty-one minutes after making 24 unforced errors and scoring a totally pathetic three winners.
Kuznetsova was no more able to salvage Russian honor than Kirlenko; in fact, her straight-set loss in the third round was to an unseeded Italian opponent and therefore that much more disgraceful. Kuzntesova was at least slightly more competitive than Kirilenko due to he weaker opponent; she managed to win five games in the first set and one in the second.
In other words, over 80% of Russia’s vaunted female seeds were eliminated from the U.S. Open before the fourth round. This left only Makarova as Russia’s last hope. She had scored an impressive third-round victory (the only one by a Russian to that point in the draw) over the higher-seeded Sabine Liseki of Germany. What’s more, though seeded much higher, her fourth round opponent Radwanska had never made it past the fourth round of this tournament, her Achilles’ heel, in seven years of trying.
Sure enough, Radwanska choked once again, tossing in nearly 30 unforced errors and losing in easy straight sets to Makarova, who moved into the quarterfinals to face the #5 seed Na Li. There Makarova’s journey ended, though she did push her opponent to a tiebreaker in the second set, which she won before meekly surrendering 2-6 in the third. She saw her serve broken seven times and served a mere 15 winners to her opponent’s 44. She struck more than twice as many unforced errors as winners. So the match was not quite as tough on her opponent as it appeared, to say the least.
On top of all this humiliation, there was the non-appearance of Russia’s top-ranked player Maria Sharapova, who announced before the tournament began that she was seeking court permission to call herself “Sugarpova” during the tournament in order to market her disgusting line of candy and then, when her advisors prevailed upon her that this notion was quite insane, claimed injury and dropped out of the tournament entirely. LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has a devastating indictment of “Sugarpova” over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog.
Russia sank just about as low as it could get this year, and in Russian women’s tennis that’s really saying something.
Pop Quiz #1: When was the last time a Russian player other than Maria Sharapova, who has lived most of her life in the USA and learned the game there, and is therefore not Russian in any way that counts, reached the finals of a grand-slam tournament?
A real head-scratcher, right? If you said that no other Russian has ever reached the finals in Australia or Great Britain, and that the last time a such a Russian reached the finals in the USA was 2007 (Kuznetsova was crushed by Justine Henin in the finals then, winning just four of 16 games played) and that the most recent such instance was 2009 when it was again Kuznetsova, who won the French Open because of the total collapse of her utterly feeble Russian opponent, Dinara Safina, in the finals, your tennis IQ is phenomenal. If you recall that total collapse in a final by Dementieva is responsible for handing Russia the second of its seven total grand slam titles, again to Kuznetsova, gold star!
Pop Quiz #2: When was the last time a Russian player other than Sharapova won a grand slam final by defeating someone who was not Russian in the finals?
Answer: Trick question! That has never happened in the history of tennis.
For another comparison to the United States, Venus Williams, the second-best American player in the game today, has won as many grand slam singles titles all by herself as all Russian women who have ever played the game combined.
Domination by Russians? Dream on, Russophiles, dream on.