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.
JR: Jonathan, this week is officially over, and it’s flown by. Today, we got two finals that should have been much better on paper than they actually were. Thoughts?
JN: Definitely. The men’s final was fine: Grigor won 6-3 7-5. It had its moments, and Grigor gets his big breakthrough at long last. In other news, the women’s final was an absolute shocker. Muguruza blasts away Halep 6-1 6-0, leaving Halep apologizing to the fans for the second time in a week.
JR: I was kind of hoping that Nick would get the title, if only because he had a tougher road to the final. He took out Nadal easily and put in a great performance against the surging David Ferrer. Dimitrov, though, was clearly the fitter player. He was quick, relentless, accurate - everything was working well for him today. Nick wasn’t terrible but it looked like the week wore on his fitness a bit.
JN: You’re just going to ignore the women’s final then and pretend it didn’t happen?
JR: Ha! I can only handle one topic at a time. I’m sure Simona Halep and all of Romania would prefer to forget it. Halep didn't give Muguruza anything surprising; she tried to rally from the baseline and win with her quickness. Surely, Muguruza was excellent in every facet today, but Simona could have mixed paces, ventured to the net … basically, try something or anything to frustrate Muguruza.
JN: Simona even said in her presser that she was unable to execute the advice Cahill gave her today, presumably some of the things that you just delineated. As for why she was unable to do it? Your guess is as good as mine. She did not dismiss out of hand the possibility that it had something to do with going for number one again. Man, it was just such a big letdown up in the press room and absolutely for the fans. Every credit to Muguruza, though. She built from match-to-match and did everything well in the final.
JR: Let me just say, when I saw Muguruza deal with Madison Keys late in the third set, I *knew* she was going to win this title. I just had a feeling. Her play since Roland Garros (save for that crappy match against Strycova) has been scary. As in, a great player entering a peak phase kind of scary. She didn't agree that her mentality has changed since the French, but it sure looks like that from my perspective.
JN: Let’s get through the U.S. Open before we make any of those proclamations. She did say that it was a goal of hers to play well this hard court swing, one that she has historically not done very well at, and she has done it: semis in Stanford, quarters in Toronto, and winning here in Cincinnati. So, maybe this is, as you say, a bit of a peak phase she’s entering. She certainly has the game for it, but I’d wait to see how she fares in New York first. Let me say though that you are the Muguruza oracle at this point, having predicted her Wimbledon win and now this first title on American soil.
JR: OK! I will now predict that Serena will beat her all over 2018! Back to Cincy, it’s a shame that the women’s semis and final flopped so hard, because overall the women’s tournament was very good: obviously Svetlana-Muguruza, Kerber-Makarova, CoCo-Madison, Sloane-Makarova, Sloane-everyone, etc. Plus, we saw 6 of the 8 top seeds in the quarters.
JN: What were some of the men’s matches that stood out for you?
JR: Kyrgios-Ferrer, definitely. I loved the atmosphere, the varying styles of play; overall it was just so entertaining. Tiafoe def. Zverev. Thiem def. Fognini, not for the tennis but for the theater. Overall, though, there was a dearth of compelling men’s matches here, partly due to the decimated draw.
JN: You nailed those matches. Tiafoe beating (an understandably tired) Zverev on Center Court, on home soil, was a fantastic moment for the young American and the crowd. Ferrer’s continued resurgence will be one of the big stories of the tournament; that match against Kyrgios gave the Saturday night folks bang for their buck. What about disappointments? For me, Dominic Thiem was the standout. His loss to Ferrer was a bit of a shocker.
JR: Dominic was terrible against Ferrer. Tsonga losing in his first round was disappointing to me, as a fan. Nadal’s performance against Nick Kyrgios, as I said before, was uninspiring. He seemed pretty angry about the Shapovalov loss going into Cincy; I can’t imagine what his head is like right now (although I think best-of-five at the US Open will benefit him). Overall, it was a weird tournament but one that was a lot of fun to cover.
JN: So much fun! Between our interviews with Francoise Abanda and Ash Barty, drama-filled matches like Kerber-Makarova, and the possible match of the year, Muguruza vs. Kuznetsova, it was well worth the trip to Cincinnati to cover the tournament. My only regret is that the women’s final could have been an exclamation point on an already pretty good week, with Halep battling for the top ranking. Alas, it was not meant to be. Are you happy with your first press experience?
JR: Very. We’ll talk more about it on our next episode - look out for Body Serve #93! I do think press will spoil me a bit: you always have shelter from the rain, you participate in press conferences, etc. It’s hard work but it’s been very rewarding. Thanks to our listeners and readers for making this all worthwhile! That’s all, folks.