Stade Roland Garros
Monday, June 3, 2019
Women’s Round of 16
Amanda Anisimova over Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov
In Playford, Australia in January, she won $672. In Andrezieux-Boutheon, France, she banked $557. In Shrewsbury, Great Britain she scored big and took home $2,683. In Curitiba, Brazil in March, she made $408. In Prague, Czech Republic, she received a check for $730. And in her warm-up to the French Open, two weeks ago in La Bisbal D’Emporda, Spain, she walked away with $935. Yes, Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, the 21-year-old Spaniard-by-way-of-Moldova qualifier who will face off against American Amanda Anisimova in today’s Round of 16 in the French Open is really killing it! For all of those out there that think playing tennis on the professional Tour, whether it’s the men’s ATP Tour, or the Women’s WTA Tour, is exciting and especially lucrative, be aware that it’s only lucrative for the players whose names slide off of your tongue. Yes, players’ prize money has exploded since 1979 when John McEnroe took home the princely sum of $29,000 for winning his first of three consecutive U.S. Opens, but that prize money certainly doesn’t trickle down to tennis’ “rookie leagues”. Now that a Grand Slam champion will take home between $2.3 Million-$3.25 Million, depending on the Slam event, decent money does, in fact, make it down all the way to the qualifying draw. In fact, a first-round loser here in Paris will walk away with 46,000 Euros, certainly a decent payday for a player who doesn’t win a match. But in small lead-up tournaments, the prize money is not even close to this. Zadoinov has been working hard in the smaller tournaments looking for a break, and this would be it. But I think that break ends here. Amanda Anisimova, the 17-year-old new darling of American tennis, is playing well, having taken out 11th ranked Aryna Sabalenka in the second Grand Slam event in a row, having disposed of her in Melbourne in January also. And if this is seen as a break-through for Zadoinov, it is probably more so for the Yank, because first, she’s only 17, not 21, like Zadoinov, and second, she’s going to win this match and break through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, a giant achievement for any professional tennis player. Although some analysts give Anisimova a good chance of winning this tournament, I think she’ll probably hit the wall with a quarter-final match-up against 3rd seed Simona Halep, but if that happens, the American will walk away with 415,000 Euros, and Zadoinov will pocket 243,000 Euros. Either way, it sure beats playing in Curitiba, Brazil!
Ash Barty over Sofia Kenin
If this were a fairy tale, Sofia Kenin would learn from her complete demolition of Serena Williams and power herself into the Finals, where she would win a close match and hoist her first Grand Slam trophy. Unfortunately for the Pembroke Pines, FL resident, this is real life, and she now plays someone who has a completely different game than the smasher/basher/complainer/diva that Serena Williams now is at age 37. Whereas any opponent can expect over 35 unforced errors from Williams in a match (remember, it only takes four points to win a game, so 35 errors in almost the equivalent of nine full games given away), Barty does not miss anywhere near that frequently. The Aussie’s game is reliant on changing pace and direction, changing spin and speed, and mixing in an attacking, aggressive game with a terrific ability to defend. That game will find Kenin flummoxed, and no matter how hard and close to the lines Kenin bombs her groundies, Barty will find an effective way to defend and then turn defense into offense. And Kenin’s fairy tale will end.
Simona Halep over Iga Swiatek
Simona Halep, now the overwhelming favorite to retain her French Open title after the top two seeds have been eliminated, got a pretty lucky draw as she now faces Polish teenager Iga Swiatek for a spot in the quarters. Swiatek also had the good fortune of getting a good draw, having only to beat Puerto Rico’s inconsistent Monica Puig to get to the Round of 16, but she’s up against an immovable force now. Halep destroyed Lesia Tsurenko last round, giving up only 3 games to a very good player, and she’s ready for whatever challenge the just-turned-18-year-old can give her. If you’re betting, this one won’t go three.
Katerina Siniakova over Madison Keys
Katerina Siniakova, a 23-year-old from the Czech Republic is on fire. Her 2019 has been mediocre, at best, but then she came to Paris and literally dominated qualifier Elena Rybakina, 29th seeded Maria Sakkari, and then world #1 Naomi Osaka, on her way to the Round of 16. She couldn’t be more confident, and I doubt that she could be playing any better tennis. Madison Keys is a quality, top-tier Tour player, but she is notoriously inconsistent, and clay is not her favorite surface. I think Siniakova is going to beat Keys not because she’s better, but because she is playing better now. And that’s a real shame for the Yank, as this is a terrific opportunity for everyone left in the draw.