November 25, 2015

US Falls to Italy in Fed Cup World Group Play-off

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

(April 19, 2015) Italy has now won five straight Fed cup ties against the United States with their 3-2 win on Sunday in the World Group playoff in Brindisi, Italy.

No. 1 Serena Williams had to fight her way back against Sara Errani to take the first match of the day 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead over Italy.

“Today has been a big eye opener,” Williams said. “I need to go home and train.  I am totally not ready for clay court season as I thought I was.  This was a great match for me, even if I had lost, I think it would have been a wonderful match.  That is one good thing about playing Fed Cup and things like this it gives you the practice that you normally would not get.”


In the second match, hometown girl Flavia Pennetta demolished Christina McHale 6-1, 6-1 to even up the tie at 2-2.

The final rubber of the tie which was the doubles, saw Williams lost her first match of her Fed Cup career when she paired with Alison Riske and fell to Pennetta and Errani 6-0, 6-3 which sealed the tie for Italy.

Williams is now 13-0 in Singles and 3-1 in doubles in Fed Cup competition.

On playing against Pennetta and Errani in doubles, Williams said: “They are a very solid team and obviously, they have both been No. 1 in doubles.  I have been No. 1, so I felt like I had the opportunity to take some chances and do the best I can.  They were the better team today and ultimately, they got the win, which they deserved since they played better.”

Italy will return to the World Group and can compete for the Fed Cup trophy in 2016 while the U.S. will fall to World Group II.

Asked about the future of the U. S. Fed Cup team, Captain Mary Joe Fernandez said: “I think it is a big challenge.  We have to work harder.  We came close today and just keep plugging away.  The good news is that we have a lot of players in the Top 100 and hopefully, we can get two wins next year and get back into the World Group.”


The 2016 Fed Cup draw will be made in June.


U.S. and Italy End Day One at 1-1 in Fed Cup


(April 18, 2015) After day one, the United States and Italy are ties at 1-1 in the Fed Cup World Group Playoff being played at Circolo Tennis Brindisi in Brindisi, Italy.

World No. 1 Serena Williams led off the day holding off world No. 36 Camila Giorgi, 7-6(5), 6-2, raising her Fed Cup singles record to 12-0.

“The first set was tough,” said Williams. “I needed to stay calm and make more shots, especially the deeper ones. I think I was hitting them short. So once I started hitting deeper, things worked out.”

“Camila played really well and had a great game plan. That is the player she is. She goes for it a lot. I love to watch her play because she is so feisty on the court. I love her game how she hits so hard.  I know her game really well, so it was not a surprise.”

Sara Errani leveled the tie in the next match, demolishing Lauren Davis, making her singles debut for the United States 6-1, 6-2 in 70 minutes.

“It was a good experience for me,” Davis said.  “I thought I handled myself well.  Sara played very well and was solid and consistent. Given the situation, I think I did okay.”

“Lauren competed really well,” said US Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “It is a tough match-up on clay.  Sara has so much experience and defends so well and is also very aggressive.  I thought there were a few games where Lauren had opportunities where it was deuce or break point.  Against a player of that caliber, you have to win those games and then maybe you have a chance.  Sara played really well under pressure and those points very well.”

The winner of the tie this weekend will return to World Group 1 and can compete for the Fed Cup next year while the loser will fall back into World Group II.


Serena Williams Leads US Fed Cup Team Against Italy


(April 17, 2015) For the fifth time in the last seven years the U.S. and Italy face-off in Fed Cup. Italy has won the last four contests, but the U.S. leads overall 9-4. The teams last faced each other last year in the World Group Quarterfinal in Cleveland, where Italy won, 3-1.


The United States will take on Italy in the Fed Cup World Playoff on the outdoor red clay court at Circolo Tennis Brindisi in Brindisi, Italy. Play begins Saturday at 1:00 pm local time (7:00 am ET).


No. 1 Serena Williams and world No. 36 Camila Giorgi will open the tie on Saturday. Williams is a perfect 11-0 in singles record in Fed Cup competition for the United States. She represented the USA earlier this year in the World Group II First Round against Argentina in Buenos Aires.


“Every time I step on the clay, I feel refreshed,” Williams said after the draw ceremony on Friday. “I love playing on the clay and my clay court game feels great.  It’s a great surface for me. I feel good playing one, two, or three matches this weekend.”


This will be the fourth straight Fed Cup tie for Giorgi where she’s 2-2 in singles. She made her debut in Fed Cup last year in the World Group Quarterfinal against the U.S. in Cleveland, where she beat Madison Keys.


“We all know from Cleveland last year that Camila is very dangerous,” said USA Fed cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “She hits the ball extremely hard and flat and goes for it. You have to be ready for anything playing Giorgi. She is coming off a good week by reaching a WTA final last week, so it will be tough.”


The second match on Saturday will feature the Fed Cup singles debut of American Lauren Davis, ranked No 57 in the world Davis will take on world No. 15 Sara Errani.


“I am very excited and love being a part of this team of three great girls,” Davis said. “This will be my first singles match for Fed Cup, so it will be a great experience for me and great opportunity to play for my team.”


Errani has played in 16 Fed Cup ties for Italy and has an 11-8 singles record. Errani leads Davis 2-1 in head-to-head competition.


“With Errani, you have to work and earn your victory, especially on clay, since she is so consistent,” Fernandez said. It comes down to discipline, constructing your points, and being patient with her. We are going to have two tough matches. Hopefully we can get quick starts and keep it up throughout the weekend.


The winner of this tie advances to the World Group in 2016 for a chance to compete for the Fed Cup trophy. The losing nation will fall back to World Group II in 2016.



Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

Singles A: Serena Williams (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Singles B: Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Singles C: Serena Williams (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Singles D: Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Doubles: Doubles: Alison Riske/Christina McHale (USA) vs. Flavia Pennetta/Karin Knapp (ITA)


With Upset of Flavia Pennetta, Lauren Davis Joins Young American Women’s Generation Next at Wimbledon


(June 25, 2014) WIMBLEDON – The list of young American women in the third round of Wimbledon has grown longer as Lauren Davis upset 12th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Wednesday. The victory for the No. 55 player means that she has equaled her best performance of her 10 major tournament appearances. She joins American women’s generation next – Madison Keys, Alison Riske and Victoria Duval  who remain in the draw at Wimbledon.

“I’m really pleased with how I am progressing and how much I’ve improved. Over the off-season I improved my fitness a lot,” said Davis. “So I think it a base was a really good foundation, a base to start off for a great year ahead of me.”

The difference in the match said Davis “I played just a bit more solid in the tiebreaker.”

“Flavia is a great player, I wasn’t sure going out there what was going to happen but I gave it my all.”

The 20-year-old Davis from Ohio lost in the first round of all four Grand Slam tournaments last year before making it to the third round of the Australian Open this year. Last week she earned a spot in the quarterfinals of Eastbourne, upsetting another Italian player, Sara Errani along the way.

Davis says that grass is her favorite surface now.

For a woman who is only 5’ 2,” Davis plays a big game. “I have a lot of assets that taller girls don’t, she said. “I’m fast, I move well, I’m very athletic…and I really want it.

“I just want to want to stay in the present and just enjoy myself and take it match by match.”

Davis makes it a practice not to the look ahead and see who she plays until the day after the win. Said that she’ll look at the draw tomorrow morning.

“Doesn’t matter who it is,” she says. I’m just going to be doing the same thing I’ve been doing, so we’ll see how it goes.

She may not know it yet, but she’ll be facing Shuai Peng for a chance at the round of 16 on Friday.


Related articlesVictoria Duval:

Victoria Duval Joins Pack of Young U.S. Women into Second Round of Wimbledon



Ailing Victoria Azarenka Falls at the BNP Paribas Open




(March 7, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California –

Nursing a left foot injury, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka fell out of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night in her first match in more than a month. American Lauren Davis winning 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Azarenka had been off the tour since the Australian Open due to some never damage between her toes. She had to wear a boot on her foot for three weeks.

“Basically, all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.”

Azarenka is uncertain if she’ll participate in the Sony Open in Miami in 10 days.

“I want to be pain-free because it’s not to the most fun to be out there like that,” Azarenka said.

“It means so much to me,” Davis said.  “My first top 10 win, and just being in the third round of Indian Wells really boosts my confidence.

“I just tried to focus on myself, and, I mean, at times blocked them (the crowd) out.  Because like when you’re up and you’re about to beat the No. 3 girl in the world is kind of a high and you kind of look towards the end of the match.

“So I just really just tried to focus on myself and just block them out.”

The only other seed to fall on Friday was former two-time champion Hantuchova, seeded 29th, losing to American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 6-2.

Other seed to advance included second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, No. 9 Sara Errani and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

On a packed Stadium court 2, 2008 Olympic Doubles Gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka paired up for a 6-2, 6-7 (4), (10-6) win over Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

“I don’t know if it was sold out, but it felt like very, very full,” said Federer. “You’re not probably going to achieve that on center court (which holds 16,100) for a doubles. But that was a perfect setup, a feeling, and we can thank the tournament and (owner) Larry Ellison for building such a court so quickly.”

“It’s nice to see the game grow and seeing people coming out and enjoying it. It’s great. I really had a great time out there with Stan today.”

“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open,” said current champion and No. 3 seed Wawrinka.

“Still when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam it’s still strange for me, but that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.



Knapp Sacks Riske: Italy Advances in Fed Cup Over USA


By Steve Fogleman

(February 9, 2014) Karin Knapp followed up on her win over Christina McHale yesterday with a clinching 6-3, 7-5 victory today over Alison Riske in the first round of the 2014 Fed Cup season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Italians defeated the American team in all three live rubbers.

Knapp did had some trouble closing it out over Riske, who was a last-minute replacement for Madison Keys in an effort by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez to get some momentum for the US. Riske acquitted herself well. She elevated her game in the second set, and after drawing even with the Italian, she was broken at 5-5 in the next game. Knapp served it out from here.

Overall, the match was more competitive than it might appear.

“It’s not easy because she came back. I got a little bit nervous. I got a little bit of emotion.”

Knapp told the press that the team made a pact to jump in the Cleveland snow if they won the tie.

“After this, we will all put the jacket on, the scarf on and we will jump in the snow!”, she said.

No word on when and where that photo opportunity will occur, but the snowy tundra of Cleveland Public Square is conveniently located between the venue and the Fed Cup hotel.

The snow didn’t stop the crowd from arriving to cheer on the US team, but it did slow them down. There were many empty seats at the start of the tie, but the fans filled in to create a boisterous cheering section by the beginning of the second set. The Public Auditorium was noticeably louder than yesterday.



Riske had a “big group of people from Pittsburgh” to join her for the event. She called the tie “an unbelievable experience” and noted the “awesome” support from the fans.

She’ll be in training in the two weeks leading up to Indian Wells.

Madison Keys and Lauren Davis won the inconsequential doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Italy will advance to the quarterfinals, while the US will be attempting to simply avoid relegation from the World Group in their next outing.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

Related article:

Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland



Italy Sweeps USA on Day 1 of Fed Cup to Take 2-0 Lead


By Steve Fogleman

(February 8, 2014) CLEVELAND – Team Italy blanked the USA on Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 2-0 lead in Fed Cup first round action.

Christina McHale played a horrendous first set, ceding second serves to Karin Knapp. Knapp’s powerful backhand threatened to make the match a runaway for the Italian. McHale settled down in the second and broke twice to level the score at 6-4.

The ultimate result was a big bang for Italy with a victory by Karin Knapp in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. McHale ran her Fed Cup career record to 5-3 with the loss.

After the match, McHale admitted that “by giving her that lead she really relaxed and started playing much better.”

The Italian team was especially loud and supportive. Karin Knapp acknowledged that she feeds off of them and predicted that they would feed off of her win.

“We are not a lot, but we are loud. They helped me”, she said.  “They gave me confidence”.

“If I get the point, maybe Camila goes on the court a little relaxed.”

Maybe you’re right, Karin Knapp.

As predicted by Knapp, Camila Giorgi did come out relaxed…and focused.

Giorgi thrashed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-1, notching a victory for the Italian in her first Fed Cup rubber. Keys seemed to be confused and having one of those days, and she was unable to hold serve on a regular basis.

Giorgi said it did help her composure knowing that her nation was already on the board before she hit her first ball in a Fed Cup.

Keys summed it up best. “She was playing amazingly. I can only control so many things. Great job to her today”, she said.

The Americans are now in danger of losing a fourth straight tie to the Italian team dating back ten years. They’re 0-10 in ties where they’ve started with a pair of singles losses.

But US Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has every reason to believe that this team, at least on paper, should have a realistic shot at pulling a sweep of their own tomorrow. I agree.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.


Video Bonus:
Fed Cup Cleveland: Better Than the Winter Olympics



US Hopes Youth Will Triumph When They Face Italy in Fed Cup this Weekend

Fed Cup logo

(February 5, 2014) The USA will face Italy for the fourth time in the last six years when both teams meet again in Cleveland this weekend in Fed Cup quarterfinal play.

Neither team will have its “A” team so youth will be served, especially for Team USA. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez named the team last month – Madison Keys (18), Alison Riske (23), Christina McHale (21) and Cleveland native Lauren Davi (20).

“It’s exciting to have young members, new members on the team, said Captain Fernandez to media on Wednesday in a pre-draw news conference.  “Christina (McHale) is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?

“And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23.  So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it’s your first time.  You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses.  I don’t really see any negatives.  Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
“I think that’s a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it.  For me’s really it’s all positive.”

“I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they’re big hitters,” said Fernandez. “They hit the ball hard and they’re aggressive.  Good indoors.  Probably one of their favorite surfaces.”

Team Italy who will be sporting a team of mostly first-timers are up to the challenge.

“I think will be a tough match, very talented match,” said Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti.  “They are young team against, so we come here to try hard to win this match and we know that will be difficult.”
“I think it’s pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it,” Fernandez said of the US squad.  “This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
“When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100.  I believe we’re at 11 or 12 now.  So everybody is improving and pushing each other.  We’re seeing the results.
“We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it’s very positive.  It’s extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.

As the lone member of the Fed Cup team with any Fed Cup experience, Christina McHale offer some advice to her teammates:

“I’ve had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I’m really excited to be back on the team.
“I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
“I mean, I think just, you know, it’s such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do.  I think that’s the best advice.”

Italy beat the US in the first round of Fed Cup last year. Overall, the US has a 9-3 record versus Italy in Fed Cup play. The US has the record for the most Fed Cup titles at 17, while last year’s winners Italy have now won the cup four out of the past eight years.






Mattek-Sands, Hantuchova and Davis Receive Main Draw Wild Cards into Cincinnati

D Hantuchova

CINCINNATI (August 6, 2013) — Four of the nine women’s wild card recipients for the 2013 Western & Southern Open have regional ties to Cincinnati and the surrounding area.


Two of the three main draw wild cards were born in the Midwest – Lauren Davis from Cleveland and Bethanie Mattek-Sands from Rochester, Minn. The third wild card went to Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.


Qualifying wild cards were awarded to back-to-back NCAA singles champion and Cincinnati native Nicole Gibbs, as well as Pittsburgh’s Alison Riske. The remaining four qualifying wild cards went to New Jersey’s Christina McHale, Georgia’s Melanie Oudin and California’s Maria Sanchez along with Slovenian Polona Hercog.


“We take great pride that we have ticket buyers from all 50 states, and so much of that support comes from around the region because of the number of tennis fans who live within driving distance of the event,” said Tournament Director Vince Cicero. “We’re excited about this talented group of wild card recipients, and we hope that the Western & Southern Open can be a ‘home’ tournament for these players from this region.”


Davis, 19, who is from the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills, won the 2008 Ohio High School Division II singles title while playing at Gilmour Academy. Early this season she reached her second WTA quarterfinal in Hobart.


Mattek-Sands will be making her fifth appearance at the Western & Southern Open. A semifinalist here in 2005, she also won the doubles title in 2007. In 2013, she has reached the final at Kuala Lumpur, the semifinals in Stuttgart and the fourth round at the French Open.


Hantuchova, who is playing Cincinnati for the sixth time, reached the 2005 semifinals here and was a quarterfinalist on two other occasions. She owns six career titles, including a win earlier this summer in Birmingham.


The six qualifying wild cards will begin play Saturday in a two-round tournament to earn one of 12 spots in the main draw.


Gibbs, 20, just completed her junior year at Stanford by winning her second straight NCAA singles title. In addition to her collegiate success this year, Gibbs has reached a pair of ITF event finals, winning the title in Yakima.


Riske, 23, reached the semifinals at the grass court event in Birmingham earlier this summer for the second time in her career. She has reached the semifinals or better in three ITF events this season.


McHale, 21, has had previous success in Cincinnati, reaching the main draw third round two of the last three years, including in 2011 when she defeated World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.


Oudin, 21, reached the US Open quarterfinal in 2009, and in 2012, she won her first career WTA title. This year she has successfully qualified at WTA Premier events in Rome and Brussels.


Sanchez, 23, was an All-American at the University of Southern California. In 2013, she has reached the third round at the WTA event in Birmingham as well as two ITF quarterfinals.


Hercog, 22, owns two career WTA titles and this season has claimed two ITF tournament titles. She has been ranked as high as No. 35 in her career.


The draws for both the main draw and qualifying will be made on Friday. Qualifying begins Saturday, which is also AdvancePierre Foods Kids Day, and tickets start as low as $5. WTA main draw play begins Monday. All matches will take place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.


The Western & Southern Open hosted 176,000 fans in 2012, recording a record 10 sellouts over the 16 total sessions spanning nine days. The event drew fans from all 50 states and 19 countries. Cincinnati is one of the last stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series leading up to the US Open, and often critical points and bonus money are on the line adding drama to the week.


Donna Vekic and Madison Keys head the youngsters’ Charge in Birmingham and Beyond


Madison Keys

Madison Keys

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 13, 2013) BIRMINGHAM, UK – Women’s Tennis Association – says who? It’s the kids who are taking over the city of Birmingham. They’re seemingly hiding behind every corner, popping out of every doorway, exploiting every nook and cranny and wreaking havoc on the actual grown women, whose images the tour was named in.

With every glance towards this group of young adolescents, they appear to be multiplying, evolving and becoming increasingly impossible to shun or ignore. Whenever seemingly all up-and-comers are accounted for, a new player smashes through into relevance and demands to be counted. When one youngster crumbles, another stands tall. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course; the glorious past has reaped far younger supernovas, far more talented youngsters and in far quicker time. But at a time when the well of everlasting talent appeared to have all but impossibly dried up, this group of fresh, new faces yet to bear the battle scars and wear-and-tear of life on tour are a welcome, or at least necessary quench to this thirst.

A myriad of pretenders have already said their hopeful hellos, before fruitlessly sweeping off into the night. Heather Watson and Laura Robson, supposedly the main event, were brushed aside yesterday on home turf without a set between them. Meanwhile, 20 year-old Ajla Tomljanovic, whose ranking came to a screeching halt just inside the top 200 for the better part of a year before contracting a difficult bout of mononucleosis, continued her glass ceiling-smashing comeback by qualifying and brushing aside defending champion Melanie Oudin before pushing top-seeded Kirsten Flipkens to the brink, in a performance undermined only by her inexperience. Only months into her return, she has already strolled effortlessly back to her career-high ranking with the promise of a deadly assault on the top 100 by year’s end. Others to make brief appearances in Birmingham included the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Alison Van Uytvanck, Lauren Davis, Jana Cepelova, Elina Svitolina, Timea Babos, Yulia Putintseva and more – the list is mindnumbingly endless.

Today was the turn of former Junior Roland Garros champion and Junior
Wimbledon finalist Kristina Mladenovic to take her final bow. After also arriving at the gates of the top 200 quickly after her junior success, she too found the final transitional hurdle an irritant. 2013, however, has been generous to her, and as she served for the match at 6-5 in the second set against Daniela Hantuchova, things were only improving. Until that point, the young Frenchwoman looked in cruise control, using her devastating serve to supreme effect against an aging Hantuchova. But the Slovak, who appears to be reveling in her role of pantomime villain, devoured yet another child with cruel efficiency.

As of today, only two remain. Interestingly, they are the two youngest top 100-ers in this small army of youngsters, and perhaps the most promising.  Madison Keys was up first. After years of hype and expectations following her first WTA victory at the grand old age of 14, 2013 has been quite the coming-out party for her. Already she has ratcheted up a smattering of impressive results; not least her three different WTA quarterfinals on the pounding hardcourts of Sydney, the anonymous green clay of Charleston and today on the hallowed lawns of Birmingham; possibly hinting at an all-court domination to come.

Against Mona Barthel, Keys chuckled at the difference in rankings and delivered a stone-cold dismissal of her foe, making a mockery of the German’s sixth seeding with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. The result wasn’t exactly met with any surprise, but the manner in which she coolly brushed aside any challenge from the talented German was priceless. Usually, even when playing at the height of their powers, it’s the lower ranked player exerting the most effort as they fight to remain at a level they can only dream of maintaining consistently. However, the roles were reversed and it was Keys who played with such calm irreverence, competing with energy to spare. The American finished off the match with two booming aces – each down the ‘T’ – having faced only one break point in the entire match, sending a Serena-esque message to the rest of the field that screamed: “You can’t beat what
you can’t put your racket on.”

Vekic was next. Even younger than Keys, her ascension through the rankings should prove a valuable lesson to all those who follow in her footsteps. She and her coach, David Felgate, shrugged aside the conventional route of first competing in juniors – and usually acquiring countless dreadful habits in the process. Instead, they headed straight for the futures and challengers. Not the ones around her native Croatia or where she resides in the UK, no. Rather, they targeted the ITFs in the anonymous parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, picking like vultures at the weakest points on offer. It allowed her to play at the level appropriate to her age whilst earning points and finding herself in situations – both on and off the court – actually relevant to her future in the sport.

And here she is in her second tour quarterfinal. Two days ago, she quickly fell down 0-2 to seeded Urszula Radwanska. It was then that, seemingly on a whim, she decided to teach her eighth-seeded opponent a lifelong lesson in pure, unadulterated aggressive tennis. It was a battering, a demolition job so loud and clear that the pole’s ears are likely still  ringing from the sound the balls made as they bounced squarely on every line and passed her by, hopelessly out of reach.

But today was different. Against an irritatingly generic grinder in the American college tennis graduate Maria Sanchez, and on an energy-sapping outside court, Vekic was forced to retreat within herself in order to conquer and advance. She played with far more control and caution, righting the ship by forcing the American into high-paced rallies that simply overwhelmed her underpowered college-groomed game and left her hemorrhaging errors. It hinted at yet another benefit borne out of her enriching experiences on the challenger circuit – a self-awareness far beyond that of the average sixteen year-old junior.

One of the enduring and undeniably true critiques of this new, upcoming generation – one that can be heard frantically whispered with every new youngster’s success – is the one-dimensionality of almost each and every one of them. The sophisticated layers previously required to be a top player – the hybrid between defense and offence, variety and simplicity – are nowhere to be seen. Instead, they fit far too snugly into the boxes of playing styles. Some are underpowered retrievers, others are immobile attackers and few can pull off a remotely passable impersonation of any other style of play. But, at least for now, this group of youngsters who have ascended almost simultaneously onto the tour, overwhelming us by their pure numbers and stealing our attention both this week, before and beyond, are
surely here to stay. And we will be watching.

Tumaini Carayol covering the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

Birmingham, England
June 10-16, 2013

Results Thursday, June 13, 2013
Singles – Third Round
(16) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. (1) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 76(5) 62
(3) Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (13) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 61 16 61
(5) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 75 26 64
Madison Keys (USA) d. (6) Mona Barthel (GER) 63 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (12) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 36 76(6) 64
(15) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 76(3) 63
Donna Vekic (CRO) d. (Q) Maria Sanchez (USA) 46 62 62
(Q) Alison Riske (USA) d. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 61 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) d. (2) Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 26 63 107 (Match TB)

Doubles – First Round
(1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Castaño/Daniilidou (COL/GRE) 61 61
(4) Hantuchova/Hsieh (SVK/TPE) d. Jurak/Tanasugarn (CRO/THA) 36 61 102 (Match TB)
Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja (JPN/ESP) d. Aoyama/Moulton-Levy (JPN/USA) 61 75
Barthel/Mladenovic (GER/FRA) d. Dushevina/Watson (RUS/GBR) w/o (Watson: mid back injury)

Order Of Play – Friday, June 14, 2013
Ann Jones Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Sorana Cirstea vs. Donna Vekic
2. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Francesca Schiavone
3. Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Madison Keys
4. Sabine Lisicki vs. Alison Riske

Court 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Barthel/Mladenovic
2. Barty/Dellacqua vs. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova
3. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja vs. Hantuchova/Hsieh (NB 16.30hrs; after suitable rest)