Jonathan Newman and James Rogers are the hosts of The Body Serve Tennis Podcast. This diary entry comes to you from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.
JN: Hey, Mr. Rogers.
JR: Oh hi! Not like you’re sitting right near me or anything.
JN: No need to spoil the mystery/give away all our secrets!
JR: We’re here watching Sveta and Mugu on Center - the Wimbledon champ is racing to the finish line, it seems. Such incredible hitting from her, court positioning, everything looks good today.
JN: You just told me this morning that you think she’s going to win the whole tournament. I think you’re just a Garbiñe convert at this point; she mesmerized you in her All Access Hour and that was that!
JR: She’s very charismatic, there’s no denying that. I was right about Garbi winning Wimbledon, and with Venus and Madison out in Cincinnati, I don’t feel so guilty predicting a victory here. I love Svetlana, but it doesn’t look like it’s going her way today.
JN: Ahhhhh, as of right now we’re on track to have seven of the eight top seeds on the women’s side make the quarters, no reason why Konta, Svitolina, or even Halep can’t take her out eventually. AND, I didn’t even mention Pliskova or Woz; Caro’s bound to win one eventually, no?
JR: That’s true. Sure, I would say that once you reach six finals in a year, you’re likely to win one. Of course, Pliskova is defending champion here, and as she mentioned in press, has learned to bend her knees ever so slightly more than last year! I am most looking forward to Konta-Halep, the first night session match Friday, a rematch of their incredible Wimbledon quarterfinal. Which upcoming matches are you excited about?
JN: I was hoping that Garbiñe and Sveta would be far more competitive - Muguruza is up 6-2 3-2 with a break as we type. I think Thiem vs Ferrer could be quite good to kick things off tonight on the Grandstand; Ferrer looks like he’s back to playing well again. The lowkey match of the day -- "lowkey" based on how the scheduling was done anyway -- is Pliskova vs Wozniacki, provided Karolina can win her first match of the day against Giorgi. Other than that, Nadal vs Kyrgios tonight could be dynamite if, like Pliskova, they win their first of two matches today. But, you are right, Halep vs Konta should be top stuff too.
JR: Unfortunately Thiem-Ferrer will be played at the same time as Konta-Halep. Ferrer sure is having a great stretch, having beaten countryman PCB here, and Sock and Edmund in Canada. Thiem still works a bit too hard out there for my liking; I think he often makes things too difficult. I hope that he looks to shorten points rather than grind with David.
JN: So, today will be great. But, what have been some of the more exciting moments of the tournament for you so far? For me, the answer is easily the back end of that third set with Kerber and Makarova. The match wasn’t anything special up until that point, but a 13-11 tiebreak finish with all those squandered match points by Makarova sure brought the drama. Not sure I’d ever seen anything like that in person before, so that was pretty special.
JR: I enjoyed CoCo-Madison and Mugu-Madison, which is a big reason I chose to write about those matches. I have to admit that I am transfixed by all-out aggression and power. The way Keys and Muguruza especially hit the ball is unearthly to watch in person. I’m also becoming a Carla Suarez Navarro fan! She lost to Kuznetsova on Court 10, but that match was a perfect storm of aesthetics: jocky and colorful kits on both players, an intimate and sunken court, Carla’s strong and cheeky backhand, and Sveta’s everything.
JN: Agreed 100% on Carla. We saw her in Toronto last week against Petra, and it almost didn’t even matter whether she was winning or not, if that makes sense? There’s an inherent beauty to the way she plays and how she strikes the ball, that I don’t think comes across at all on TV. We’ve talked a lot about Court 9 at Cincinnati the last couple of years, and it’s now Court 10! The tournament added another court (a new Court 5) which then pushed back the other courts by one digit.
JR: Changing the subject, what is something about the Cincinnati tournament that you think people should know?
JN: While the cocktails are a bit pricy, the margaritas here are da bomb (and I don’t even normally drink margaritas!). Nice and concise response, eh? Meanwhile, Muguruza called for Sumyk while she was still up a break in the middle of this second set, and Sveta’s just been unstoppable since. Muguruza now has to serve to stay in the set at 4-5. How quickly things can change!
JR: Yaasss Don Julio margaritas - and these bartenders make them strong. I think the organizers spend a lot of time thinking about the fan experience. There’s tons of seating, water is free (imagine!), there is a huge variety of food, and there's beer and cocktails everywhere you turn. As long as you can dodge the clueless drunk rich people, you’re set.
JN: I’m going to take this opportunity to do a bit of plugging for our next episode of The Body Serve: we’ve got an interview with Francoise Abanda coming your way! I have to say, she was delightful and can’t wait for y’all to hear it.
JR: It was wonderful talking with her - she felt like a real person and answered questions thoughtfully. This Kuznetsova-Muguruza match is getting really good now; Sveta just won the second set, gotta go. Check out the rest of our writing on this site, and stay tuned for the podcast. Til next time. (Ha! I got to say it this time!)