If you would have asked me last week who the final two women vying for the US Open Championship title would be, never in all of my cat years would I have meowed teen sensations, Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu!
And yet, here we are! And I am SO excited and I just can’t hide it! I have not been this excited about women’s tennis since the late 80’s!
This match up makes this the first all-teen final at the Open since 1999. Both have set so many records already, I can’t keep track of them all! For instance, 18 year old, Emma, is the first qualifier, male or female, to make it to a final of a major tournament. Leylah, who turned 19 on Monday, beat world #2 Aryna Sabalenka, #3 Naomi Osaka, #5 Elina Svitolina, and #16 Angie Kerber, who is the 2016 US Open champ.
Last night, both women’s semifinal matches played on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and for me, the coolest part about it was the “Original Nine” were there to watch the drama. Billie Jean King and the rest of the women who fought for equal pay and eventually formed the WTA sat courtside while these phenoms made history. History witnessing history at its best!
Both are receiving unbelievable crowd support, so Saturday’s match should be incredibly interesting and fun to watch! Which way will the crowd sway? Who will rise to the occasion and claim victory? Who will be the darling of Flushing Meadows? So many questions, but only time will tell!
To be honest, I don’t have a favorite. I like them both equally and I think they are good for our sport! I will be torn, but I will survive. It will be a deserving winner, whatever the outcome.
My hope is this new buzz around women’s tennis will sustain over many decades and these two continue to grow and have success.
…Or maybe it’s a low down? Or maybe an unpacking of sorts! Regardless, the 2021 US Open begins tomorrow and there is a lot to cover. So find your favorite comfy spot and I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about this year’s US Open.
There is so much to cover, where to begin?
Let’s start with who you WON’T see at the Open. Ready for this?
Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and last year’s men’s victor, Dominic Thiem! Mother Time is roaring loud and clear! These incredible athletes are seeing their best days in their rear view mirrors. And you know what? I’m OK with this! Sports and sport stars are meant to evolve, and the evolution has begun.
Now, who WILL be there?
Let’s start with Novak Djokovic. He is vying for a year Grand Slam, having already won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. Can he win the US Open and make this a true calendar Grand Slam? We haven’t seen this since Steffi Graf in 1988. (Don’t ask me how a 13 year old cat can remember something that happened in 1988…it’s the miracle of blogging!)
The likelihood of Novak winning is high, however, let’s not forget what happened to him last year, when out of frustration, he hit a line judge in the neck with a tennis ball, which got him kicked out. And this year at the Olympics he committed code violations but wasn’t penalized for them (ugh!). So can he keep his temper in check? Will the chair umpires give him preferential treatment because he is Novak Djokovic?
Will his many formidable contenders finally step up and prove they should become household names? This, I have been hoping for for years! Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini...come on, guys!! The world is watching and waiting!
Let’s talk about the women’s side for a minute! I make no apologies for my unabashed love of Ash Barty! If I had to pick a winner, it would be her! However, the number of outstanding female players in New York will be something to watch! NaomiOsaka is back! Will she cinch US Open title #3? Barbara Krejcikova has had an incredible year…to be honest, she was not on my radar until very recently, winning the French Open, so she is one to watch! Ons Jabeur, Jen Brady, Coco Gauff, Aryna Sabelenka, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu, Maria Sakkari, Belinda Bencic! Whew, my purrty little kitty paws are exhausted! So many women to keep my cat eyes on! This US Open should be fun!
Lastly, the fans are back!! Yes, the roar of New York City crowd will be electrifying and I am living for it! Last year, understandably, the US Open was played in a bubble. And actually, it gave the tournament a very interesting, once in a lifetime, vibe. Players were able to watch matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium from the corporate box suites, which gave a private, intimate feel to the grandest tennis stage. Having the stands at Flushing Meadows full again with loud, rowdy fans, will be a welcome change!
And anyone attending the US Open has to show proof of vaccination, which I support wholeheartedly! I will always back policies that will make it a safe environment for the spectators, workers and everyone involved!
So stay tuned and I’ll keep you in the know for all things US Open!
Hi Furriends, I know it’s been a while since I roared in on the hottest tennis topics, and believe me, I know there is a lot to unpack before the US Open starts next week. More on that later!
Today, we need to address the current crisis…the backwards cap crisis!
At the beginning of this year, I purrclaimed that I would not post anything negative since we’ve had such difficult time these past 18 months or so during the pandemic. However, this has been going on too long and I have to let it out!
The biggest offender: John Isner
John Isner, American player, has been wearing his cap like this for as long as I can remember. I thought he was a one-off. A singular instance that I could easily ignore.
However, recently, I noticed that my current favorite player, Matteo Berrettini, ALSO wears his cap backwards.
This just breaks my faint little kitty heart in a million pieces! Especially when we know he looks like this WITHOUT that silly backwards cap distraction:
Is your heart breaking yet?
I wish I could say it was just a few players, but we have a crisis on our hands, folks! Everywhere I look, the players are getting it all backwards!
Tommy Paul: No, Tommy, just NO! I always enjoy watching you play, and I pegged you as the next great American rock star a few years ago. But I ask you…would a rock star look so backwards?
Ugo Humbert: You’re getting too good now to let this look slide under the fashion radar.
Diego Schwartzman: This is NOT a good look on you, young man!
Lucas Pouille: You are too handsome of a Frenchman to goof up your look with a backwards cap.
Fellas, need some inspiration to wear your cap the proper way? Look no further than the man himself, Andy Murray! Look how nice this looks! Take a cue from the legend!
OK, now that we have called this crisis out, I hope it can get better before the US Open next week! Please guys, I beg of you, put this fashion faux-paw to rest!
Now, if you ask the casual tennis observer (and expert commentators), they would say the Zverev/Djokovic was the match of the Olympic Games this year. Sure, this was the match to see who would be playing for Gold, but I could have told you that there was a slight chance that Zverev could win this match. And sure enough, he did. That means that Djokovic would get a chance to play for the Bronze.
His opponent, playing for Bronze, was one of my favorite players, Pablo Carreno Busta, from Spain. Odds were highly in Novak’s favor for this match. Novak is ranked number one in the world and has already won the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon this year. He is pretty unstoppable! But guess what? Zverev denied him his Gold, and now PCB had the opportunity to deny him the Bronze!
Let me remind you that PCB was the opponent Novak was playing at the US Open when he hit the line judge in the throat with the tennis ball, hitting it out of frustration! So, Pablo is no schlump! I knew there was a chance that Pablo could pull this off!
Pablo is a better cat than I am and kept his cool through the whole match! Meanwhile, Novak chunked his racquet into the stands after missing a ball (and didn’t get a penalty…excuse me, what is this!!! If this was Nick Kyrgios or another player, they would have been fined!), and then he smashed another racquet into the net post out of frustration. He did get a penalty for that one. However, right after that, when it was Pablo’s turn to serve, he thought he would see a point on the board for Novak’s penalties. When he realized that Novak didn’t get penalized for recklessly throwing his racquet, instead of questioning the umpire (and losing his own focus), like I would have done, he just kept his head in the game and kept on playing!
Needless to say, after losing the Bronze medal match, Novak Djokovic pulled out of his mixed doubles match, which I think showed very poor sportsmanship. Sure, he sited shoulder issues, but come on. It’s doubles. Play. Don’t let your partner down!
Anyway. in other Olympic news….Katie Ledesky is amazing!
P.S. Pablo Carreno Busta beat world #1 (Djokovic) AND world #2 (Medvedev) to win this Bronze medal! He’s pretty great, right?
Yesterday, we saw the exit of Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Am I the only one who was not surprised by his loss?
He was playing in his quarterfinal match against 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz and was taken down in three straight sets. The last set was a bagel! Final score: 6-3, 7-6, 6-0.
I said at the beginning of this year that I thought Federer should retire. Sure, it would be a nice fairytale ending if he could hold on and win Wimbledon one last time. But I just didn’t think it was possible.
No disrespect to Roger, but he had knee surgery (planned before the pandemic shutdown). So how good did we think he would be when he returned? Grand slam champion good? I never thought so. The few tournaments he played leading up to Wimbledon were met with dismal results. I just didn’t see championship Sunday in the cards for him.
So, there it was. A saddening Federer loss on Centre Court. Credit goes to Hurkacz who has been playing well this year, winning his first Masters level tournament in Miami earlier this year.
The rest of the quarterfinals were business as usual. Djokovic beat Fucsovics in straight sets, Berrettini beat Auger-Aliassime in four tough sets, and the match of the day…Shapovalov beat Khachanov in a stunning five-setter!
During the opening match on Center Court today between Christian Garin and Novak Djokovic – Manic Monday, as it is called – John McEnroe talked about the pressure that Garin must be feeling, playing on the most prestigious stage at the most historic tournament in tennis, against world #1, Novak Djokovic. He said Garin has four goals for this match.
Don’t embarrass yourself
Win a few games
Pull off a miracle
And Garin did just that…everything except number four…pull off a miracle! He made a good showing, but lost in three sets.
The pressure in sports, especially for the young players trying to break through, is real. And it can manifest in a multitude of ways. Today’s Manic Monday witnessed the range of results when the pressure is on.
Cool Under Pressure
Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20 years of age, was the coolest of all cats under the pressure of Alex Zverev today! FAA had an easy first two sets, looking confident, looking smooth. I thought this was going to be a swift victory. However, Zverev had a little slip going for a ball toward the back of the court and hyperextended his knee. Looked plainful. I thought he was done. Instead, he shook it off and came back with a vengeance and won the next two sets in quick order. It’s going to a fifth! Who will handle the pressure better? FAA shined like the bright young star that he his and won that final set!
Denis Shapovalov, 22 year old Canadian, was a runaway train against veteran Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, winning in three easy sets. Confidence city!
Ons Jabeur is making Wimbledon history, becoming the first Arab woman to make a Wimbledon quarterfinal. And, she has taken out three Grand Slam champions to get to the quarters…Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, and Iga Swiatek. She could win the whole thing!
Cooked Under Pressure
Unfortunately, the pressure is real and sometimes it plays out on court for the whole world to see.
Earlier in the day, 21 year old American, Sebastian Korda, just could not, for the life of him, close out the fifth set against Russia’s Karen Khachanov. There were thirteen breaks of serve before Khachanov finally won. No pressure, Sebastian…your dad is just an Australian Open champion from years ago, and your sister is currently the number one women’s professional golfer! No pressure, at all!
And then there was 18 year old Brit, Emma Raducanu. Talk about pressure!! She came into the tournament as a wildcard, so there really was nothing to lose. But, she kept winning…all the way into the fourth round. So she’s playing on the biggest stage she’s ever played on with all eyes on her. She started out pretty promising, winning some games in the first set, getting the crowd behind her. But she lost the first set, 4-6. At some point in the second set, she lets the chair umpire know that she will need the trainer at the change over. But she was holding her stomach. And then you could see she her breaths were shallow between points, as she would go to her towel to dry off. And she was grasping at her throat, as if she might vomit. And her eyes were watering. Was she trying not to cry? At one point, you could see the medical staff just mere feet away from her, on the other side of the gate, while she wiped her face with her towel trying to catch her breath between points.
Finally, the game was over and the medical staff could come in. They took her off the court, and shortly returned to let the chair umpire know that she could not continue.
No one wants a match to end this way. Just heartbreaking! A terrible way to end a day at Wimbledon.
At the end of the day, we can all appreciate the tremendous amount to pressure that is put on the athletes. We can celebrate the successes, and we can show grace for the ones who may struggle.
Let’s have a safe rest of the tournament, every cat!
How do you pack a stadium for a mixed doubles match? Pair Nick Kyrgios with Venus Williams and…vwa-lah! Magic!
Stylistically, they couldn’t be more different…Venus – classy, graceful, a legend; Nick – crude, unconventional, a “bad boy of tennis.” However, together they were sensational. The purrfect pair.
The partnership was Nick’s idea. It was “a dream come true” for him to play doubles with a Williams sister.
Obviously, they respect each other’s game, and they are both power players with big serves and big returns. If I was on the other side of the court from those two, I would be hiding behind my racquet and hoping for the best.
You could tell they were having a great time, too. Laughing, high-fiving, supporting each other. It was like watching a fun, low-stakes, exhibition, but it’s Wimbledon!
They won their first round match against American duo, Austin Krajicek and Sabrina Santamaria. Total blockbuster entertainment! Next up with be Eduoard Roger-Vasselin and Nicole Melichar. I don’t know much about mixed doubles, but I do know it will be fun to watch!
There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a player injure themselves during a match. It doesn’t matter if they are winning, losing, or flat out even against their opponent. Nobody wants to see a player unfairly robbed from competing.
But, it happened twice today at Wimbledon. On Center Court, no less! With the roof closed!
It had been raining in London and even though the roof was closed, the grass was slippery. The grass surface at the beginning of a tournament is always more slippery, than after it gets worn out a little by the players. Ugh!
First up, Adrian Mannarino was playing Roger Federer. He was up two sets to one. Roger was up in the fourth set, 4-2, so it was likely going to extend to a fifth set. It was really was anyone’s game. Mannarino won the first two sets easily, and by all accounts, was playing better than Federer. But he ran for a ball and one leg slipped one way, as his knee buckled the other way. He tried to recover and served out the set, but retired before the fifth set.
Then, immediately following that horrific outcome on Center Court, the slip and agony heard round the world! Just six games into her first round match, Serena Williams slipped and tweaked her ankle. It’s just painful to watch. She was vying for a 24th grand slam title and her favorite tournament, so to be out in this freak accident is just heartbreaking!
But let’s talk about some heartwarming stories of the day!
Big sister, Venus, entering the tournament as a wild-card (which is totally wild, to me!) won her first round match!! It took her three sets, but she did it! Let me remind you…Queen V is 41 years old and this is her 23rd Wimbledon! Just remarkable!
Then we had the Ash Barty vs. Carla Suarez Navarro match! We knew that this would be an emotional one. As previously mentioned, Carla is a survivor, so to see her back on the court in competitive fashion was a victory, in and of itself! To be on Center Court, playing world #1, Ash Barty, just set the match up to have all the feels!
Carla plans to retire at the end of the year, so this was her last Wimbledon. She plans on representing Spain in the Summer Olympics and say farewell at the US Open. Barty may have won the match, but Suarez Narravo had our hearts!
All of these emotions has worn me out. I think I’ll go take a cat nap!
Day one of Wimbledon was filled with Sweet Surprises!
Frances Tiafoe beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in swift three sets!! Some analysts might consider this an upset, but as I mentioned before, there are no upsets because it’s always a positive outcome for one of the players. And this player was Tiafoe! He was flawless.
Sloane Stephens beat two-time Wimbledon champ, Petra Kvitova in two quick sets! She looked incredible on the court today! Go Sloane!
Surprise #3: I saved the best for last….
Andy Murray made his Wimbledon comeback by ousting Nikolos Basilashvili in four sets. It was a real nail biter! Andy was up two sets, and 5-0 in the third when Basilashvili made a wicked run of winning seven games in a row, to win the third set. Ugh! Then they had to exit the court while the roof was being closed. Suspense! But finally, Murray got his act together to win the fourth set!! Go Andy!
Stay tuned to see what sweet surprises tomorrow will bring!
My meuw-sings for the men’s first round matches will be divided into three cat-egories: Americans, Interesting, and Sentimental. Here we go…
Americans – Tough MATCHES
Frances Tiafoe vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (Sorry Frances!)
Mackie MacDonald vs. Karen Khachanov (Not totally predictable, but MacDonald will have to play top-level to beat Khachenov…maybe an “upset”?)
Sebastian Korda vs. Alex De Minaur (Battle of the young guns. Alex has been on fire this season, so I give him the edge)
Nick Kyrgios vs. Ugo Humbert (Honestly, I didn’t even know Kyrgios was still playing. Knowing him, he will probably win!)
Dan Evans vs. Feliciano Lopez (Dan is playing for his home crowd, and he’s had a great season. My money is on Dan.)
Roger Federer vs. Adrian Mannarino (Let’s face it…Roger is winding down. It would be great to see him win one more major. However, Mannarino is on a roll, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he beats Roger in the first round. Tough luck for Federer)
Andy Murray vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (Andy got a wildcard into Wimbledon. I hope it’s not wasted on a first round match. My sentimental fave will always be Andy!)
Only time will tell. That is what I love about sports. You can analyze, speculate, use stats and predictors, but you never know what’s going to happen! See here we go! Wimbledon, we are ready!
Furrst up, let’s take a quick look at which first round matches to keep your cat eyes on.
Ash Barty vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Why?Because Barty is currently ranked #1 and Suarez Navarro just beat cancer!! Go Carla!! So happy to see you back. Go Ash! Really, I would be happy with any outcome.
Bianca Andreescu vs. Alize Cornet
Why? Because Andreescu won the US Open in 2019, beating Serena Williams, but hasn’t really let her tennis skills shine since. And Cornet is just a talented, sassy Frenchwoman and I love her!
Sloane Stephens vs. Petra Kvitova
Why? Because Sloane is one of my favorite American players, and Kvitova is one of my all-time favorite players. Who’s going to win? Probably Kvitova, but I will still root for my under-cat American, Sloane Stephens. Go Sloane!
Shelby Rogers vs. Sam Stosur
Why? See above. Rogers is one of the few American women I will always cheer for, and Sam Stosur is a former world #1 who is in the twilight of her career (but don’t tell her that). I like both players, so we will see what happens.
Serena Williams vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Why? Well, I would be remiss to not mention Serena. She’s 39 years old, playing at one of her favorite tournaments, trying to capture the elusive 24th major title! She hasn’t won a major since becoming a mom. Will this be her tournament? Don’t know. But she has to win her first match to move on to her next. The world will be watching!
OK, OK….it’s June! But you know no one ever celebrates “Christmas in June.” So play along, my furry friends!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for this tennis fan! Wimbledon is here!
The draw came out today. It’s like getting to open that one special gift under the tree that you’re allowed to open on Christmas Eve!
Reviewing first round matches is one of my favorite things to do. The anticipation and perceived expectations of Wimbledon are HUGE, so I always like to imagine which matches will be bah-humbug predictable and which matches will roast on an open fire (the dreaded “upset”). Of course, I never like to think of a match outcome as an “upset” because there is always a winner and there is nothing upsetting about that! At the end of the day, someone is happy they won and gets to move further in the draw.
With the exception of injuries. There is nothing happy about that outcome. The injured player is hurt, and the “winner” feels bad for the injured player. But, I also like to begin a tournament with the hope that no one is or gets injured and everyone is stays healthy! What can I say? I’m an optimist!
I will breaking down the first round matches into two posts, one for the men’s draw and one for the women’s. So stay tuned, and I’ll give my inside take.
Paw your calendars, set your alarms and wake your humans! Wimbledon starts bright and early Monday, June 28! Let the festivities begin!
Furriends, we are wrapping up the clay court season, and that means the start of the French Open!
We are only two days in, and everything is already topsy turvy!
Here are some French Open wagers I would have lost!
I would have been all in for Dominic Thiem to win the whole tournament! But yesterday, in an inexplicable match, the second best clay court player right now, and my purrsonal favorite, lost in the first round to Pablo Andujar! Thiem took some time off earlier this season to get his mind and body right, so I guess he’s just not totally back yet.
Given his track record on clay, I would have bet a straight flush against Daniil Medvedev winning a single match at Roland Garros! But sure enough, this morning, he wins his first round match in straight sets. Now whose $$$ would be flushed?
I would have played the odds and gave Francis Tiafoe the upper edge against fellow aging American, Steve Johnson. Tiafoe is young and fierce, so I thought he had the upper hand in this first round match. I was wrong. Steve Johnson came back from two sets down, to win it in five.
I would have never made a blind bet that World #1, Naomi Osaka, would withdraw from the French Open because she doesn’t want to do the press conferences, stating mental health issues. She was fined $15,000 for skipping her press conference following her first round match. She, subsequently, withdrew from the tournament. I just think it’s a real shame it had to escalate to this.
I would have won a small stack of change for this last bet: Roger Federer winning his first round match. He’s 39 years old, he’s been out with knee issues since before the pandemic, and clay is not his favorite surface. He looked good today, taking his opponent down in three sets. His next opponent is Marin Cilic, who, if I’m being purrfectly honest, is also in the twilight of his career, so this should be interesting.
The only wager that is safe to make at this point is the one you don’t make!
So in the wise words of the great American country singer, Kenny Rogers:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run.
And I know when to just relax on the sofa and keep my money in my pockets!
Clay court season is nice. Clay court season with Dominic Thiem is better!
And it couldn’t come at a nicer time!
We are midway through the 2021 clay court season that travels like my passport’s fantasy European vacation. Spain, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland…and leads up to the pièce de résistance in Paris, France…the French Open!
Dominic Thiem took a much needed wellness break during the first half of the season, but has returned in time for the Masters 1000 event in Madrid. Has he looked sharp as a tack, fresh as a daisy? Not quite. But he’s winning and that’s what counts. His biggest test so far came yesterday in the QF’s against John Isner, who is notorious for his booming first serves. He challenged Thiem for three sets, but Thiem eventually got the win.
He will play Alexander Zverev in the semis today. Zverev, in an inexplicable turn of events, beat Rafa Nadal in his QF match. And it only took his two sets to do it. I really couldn’t believe what my kitty eyes were seeing.
Let’s not forget that Rafa also lost to Andrey Rublev a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo, so maybe Rafa IS human! AND, Novak Djokovic was also taken out early in Monte Carlo by Dan Evans. I’ve said it before, so I don’t want to jinx anything, but…it there a bit of a breakdown in the Big Three? Time will tell.
In other Madrid news…one of my new faves, Casper Ruud, won his QF match and Italian cutie patooty, Mateo Barretini won his QF match, so those two will face each other in the semis. That will be a close match up, I think, but I am predicting Ruud will reign the winner.
So, settle in and enjoy the return on Dominic. Maybe this will be his year to hoist the La Coupe des Mousquetaires!
Hubert (Hubi) Hurkacz was summoned to do a press conference after his win today against Thomas Fabbiano. When he got there, there were no journalists on the Zoom, so he just sat in awkward silence, waiting. After a bit, he was allowed to leave.
He was cool about it. Polite and laughed it off. Turns out, this was an ill-communicated press conference and there were no journalists in the Zoom! That’s unfortunate because you have the winner of the last Masters 1000 event in front of you. He’s not one of the Big Three, or a trouble maker who makes a fool of himself on court. If you ask me, that makes him more interesting! I would have a lot to ask! I want to know more!
Tiny confession…my human is half Polish, so we are huge fans of anything that is from Poland! We make sure Grandma knows that Poland is being proudly represented on both the men’s and women’s tennis tours. I like Hurkacz, Kubot and Swiatek! And the others!
Anyway, I thought maybe I could right this wrong, and interview him, myself! Now, I know it takes two people to conduct an interview and I haven’t been in touch with Hubi. I’ve never been to journalism school, so some of my questions might not fit into a traditional press conference room setting, but seeing how the other journalists had ZERO questions, I figured I’d try my paw at an interview! Here we go!
How did you feel you played on court today?
2. It took three sets to secure your win? Was there any point in the match when you thought you’d lose?
3. You had your first Masters 1000 win in Miami last week! Congratulations! What did you do to celebrate?
4. With only a week between tournaments, how do you find the transition from hard court to clay courts?
5. Are you a fan of clay? What’s your favorite shot on clay?
6. What’s your favorite tournament and why?
7. How often do you get to go home to Poland?
8. I see that you were born and raised in Wroclaw! That is one of my favorite cities! Do you have a favorite gnome?
9. You play Dan Evans next. What do you think of him as a person? Are you friends with him on tour?
10. How will you prepare for the match?
OK, well thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with the rest of the tournament!