Nice matches for Friday

The BNP Paribas Open will really get kicking on Friday with lots to look forward to.

There are two former USC stars who will be playing on Stadium 1. Steve Johnson was one of the best men’s player around for the last few years. He got in on a wildcard and will face Pablo Andujar in the first match at 11 a.m.

Kicking off the evening session will be USC alum Maria Sanchez, who is coached by Chris Evert, taking on No. 3-seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Could be an interesting match.

The top matches will be Jelena Jankovic, a former BNP champion and No. 1 player, taking on Svetlana Kuznetsova, the winner of two majors and a former No. 2 player.

Maria Sharapova taking on Francesca Schiavone pits the winners of two of the past three French Opens.

Also in play will be former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, American Davis Cup star James Blake, rising American Christina McHale, who takes on Maria Kirilenko, Sara Errani, Marion Bartoli and No. 1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan.

And there will be the salute to heros.

BNP Paribas Open Sunday recap, Monday look ahead

American Christina McHale’s upset of No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova was the story of the day, but 22-year-old American Jamie Hampton closed out the evening by defeating Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 6-7 (1), 6-2. McHale and Hampton are the first two American women to reach the fourth round since Jill Craybas in 2009.

No. 5 seed Agnieszka Radwanska won her night match 6-4, 6-2 over Flavia Pennetta.

Here are story lines to follow Monday:

  • Will Americans John Isner and Mardy Fish win their respective matches, setting up an entertaining fourth-round match?
  • Will 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison advance to the fourth round for the second consecutive year? He is playing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who upset Andy Murray on Saturday.
  • Will the top women in the bottom half of the draw, including Maria Sharapova, Samantha Stosur and Caroline Wozniacki, continue to cruise like they did Saturday?
  • Will the gastrointestinal virus that knocked out such players as Gael Monfils, Jurgen Melzer and Vania King on Sunday affect any more players?

 

American McHale pulls off major upset

Christina McHale, a 19-year-old American from New Jersey, has just pulled off the biggest upset in the women’s draw so far. Seeded 32nd, McHale beat No. 3 Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

It’s not the biggest victory of McHale’s career. She upset then No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki last year in Cincinnati. McHale has now posted seven victories against top 20 players.

McHale will face No. 18 seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Christina McHale, redo

OK, looking at my earlier post of Christina McHale, I think I was pretty unfair and all over the place. Here comes some backtracking.

First of all, I think I took some undeserved shots at the USTA PR department, and got an email about it. And basically, the blog read like I was criticizing them for basically doing their jobs and spreading good news. Not my intention, but that’s what came out.

Here is what Tim Curry of the USTA sent me through an email. “We sent out a ‘player development news flash’ which we do for most notable results by young players – from 14 year olds who win major titles overseas, to Bjorn Frantangelo’s win at Roland Garros to Sloane Stephens run at Lacosta.  This really was nothing out of the ordinary.”

And Tim is right. I have gotten these news flash emails in the past. Getting Christina’s email about her upset over No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki did get my attention and probably not in the way the USTA intended. And certainly, McHale’s victory should be celebrated. At 19, she beat the No. 1 player in the world. Locally, we know her as a former Easter Bowl champion who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova at the BNP Paribas Open in March. But hopefully her victory will be put into perspective.

The email helps add visibility to McHale’s accomplishment. When I got the email so quickly after McHale’s victory, it had a feel of creating added expectation, and that’s what triggered my blog. That expectation will come from her result, not an email the USTA sent. In fact, it’s people in my position, the media, that has more to do with creating the unrealistic expectations. I participate in that when McHale had her victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova here in Indian Wells, and did it with Ryan Harrison when he had a strong showing here as well.

I would hope people fans will understand it was one great win for McHale, and not necessarily an indicator of things to come.  McHale has made great progress throughout this year, giving American fans someone to be optimistic about.

Nothing wrong with being optimistic. I just hope it’s also realistic.

For those of you who want to read what I wrote before (and to save some time), here it is below.

Today’s big news is Christina McHale upsetting No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of Cincinnai. At No. 76, the 19-year-old McHale is the youngest player in the top 100. So in a week where HBO’s Real Sports does a feature on the decline of U.S. tennis, the timing couldn’t be better for the USTA, who quickly sent out a press release on McHale’s big victory. Please.

Lets not get carried away. Anyone remember Melanie Oudin a few years ago, when she had her run to the U.S. Open? Or does anyone remember when Alexandra Stevenson reached the semifinals of Wimbledon? That’s not to say McHale will be a bust. She can be a very good player on the tour. She is one of the most promising players out there.

Will she be a top-10 player? Can she win a major? That’s how American players are measured, not upset victories, no matter how impressive they are. I’m not sure I’ve seen that in McHale, who won the Easter Bowl in 2009 in Rancho Mirage. So far she hasn’t won a title on the WTA Tour.

A lot to expect from a 19-year old? Yes. But that is the standard tennis players are measured by. And there’s been so many players — Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati. Monica Seles — who have accomplished so much more at a younger age. It’s just the nature of the sport.

This is a great victory for McHale, and she should be proud of her accomplishment. Anyone who is a fan of American tennis is hoping this is just the beginning for McHale.

But a press release? Obviously, this is probably a reaction to the stories about the decline of U.S. tennis. That’s not going to change until a U.S. player not named Venus or Serena Williams cracks the top 10. And even then, that might not be good enough.

Is Christina McHale upset victory really that big?

Today’s big news is Christina McHale upsetting No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of Cincinnai. At No. 76, the 19-year-old McHale is the youngest player in the top 100. So in a week where HBO’s Real Sports does a feature on the decline of U.S. tennis, the timing couldn’t be better for the USTA, who quickly sent out a press release on McHale’s big victory. Please.

Lets not get carried away. Anyone remember Melanie Oudin a few years ago, when she had her run to the U.S. Open? Or does anyone remember when Alexandra Stevenson reached the semifinals of Wimbledon? That’s not to say McHale will be a bust. She can be a very good player on the tour. She is one of the most promising players out there.

Will she be a top-10 player? Can she win a major? That’s how American players are measured, not upset victories, no matter how impressive they are. I’m not sure I’ve seen that in McHale, who won the Easter Bowl in 2009 in Rancho Mirage. So far she hasn’t won a title on the WTA Tour.

A lot to expect from a 19-year old? Yes. But that is the standard tennis players are measured by. And there’s been so many players — Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati. Monica Seles — who have accomplished so much more at a younger age. It’s just the nature of the sport.

This is a great victory for McHale, and she should be proud of her accomplishment. Anyone who is a fan of American tennis is hoping this is just the beginning for McHale.

But a press release? Obviously, this is probably a reaction to the stories about the decline of U.S. tennis. That’s not going to change until a U.S. player not named Venus or Serena Williams cracks the top 10. And even then, that might not be good enough.