The Y̶e̶a̶r̶ Month of the Kat

In my list of favourite tennis players, Katerina Siniakova is usually mainly part of the doubles team I cheer for most. The 2022 US Open, saw Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova take the title to complete an amazing set this year. They have won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, three Grand Slams, 18 matches undefeated. The only reason they could not defend the Roland-Garros title was because Krejcikova contracted Covid. Amazing dominance and it completes a sixth Grand Slam women’s doubles title for the pair along with an Olympic gold medal and the 2021 year end championship. Truly one of the best teams of recent years.

Once again, the toughest match in Krejcikova and Siniakova’s run was against Perez and Melichar-Martinez. The tight semi-final match was the biggest test as it was in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon against the same pair. However, in the final they were up against Taylor Townsend and Caty McNally, an American pair well supported by a decent crowd. McNally and Townsend are a new doubles pair, and consequently the Czechs seemed unsure how to deal with their attacking brand of tennis. Taylor Townsend has long been one of the most talented players out of America and McNally made the finals last year alongside Coco Gauff.
The Americans won the first set and were 4-1 up in set 2. It looked like curtains for our Czech girls and another year without the elusive US Open title.  Krejcikova in particular seemed off her game, and was hitting the net more than the court. Siniakova played much better than in the semi-final where she was uncharacteristically average, but as a pair they just weren’t clicking in this final. At 1-4 down they seem to relax and just go for for it, and consequently started playing so much better, Krejcikova in particular. Siniakova was superb from the back of the court, at the net and even her serve was solid. However, once Krejcikova raised her game, the Americans got nervous. The Czechs confidence grew, and once they broke to reach 5-4 in set 2, the match was all but over. The 6-1 final set was a breeze for such an experienced team.
Three slams in 2022 to follow up an 2021 that brought Olympic gold and the Year End Championships and the historic singles/double RG for Krejcikova.

This victory also put Siniakova back to world doubles number 1, with Krejcikova at #2. They also leap to the top of the race and qualify for the Year End Championships – which was a doubt with no ranking points for Wimbledon. With the injury woes for Barbora Krejcikova this year, they have played very few doubles tournaments together, and to win three slams is immense. Siniaková also won doubles titles with Pera in Melbourne and Berlin with Sanders.

However, this post is prompted by an even more remarkable feat in many ways. Katerina Siniakova has just won the WTA 250 event in Portoroz, Slovenia. Beating Wimbledon. Champion Elena Rybakina in the final. Last Sunday, Siniakova and Krejcikova were celebrating the Grand Slam doubles titles. The next day Siniakova was flying to Slovenia and on court on Wednesday. Due to bad weather she ended up having to play both the quarter-final and semifinal on Saturday and in Sunday‘s final, the match was over three hours. It is a massive testament to Siniakova’s fitness that she was able to win this tournament. 

Rybakina is an enigma. For several years on the tour she has been superb but stumbled at the final hurdle, losing big matches she should’ve won. Wimbledon appeared to be a turning point for her. She was a set down to Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon, final yet turned it around and took the title with THE most understated celebration ever. Classic Rybakina!

This final was one she will probably look back on and say she should’ve won. However, what was incredibly impressive was the quality of play in the latter stages of this tournament. Brilliant rallies, superb winners, Siniakova ‘s wonderful athleticism, Rybakina’s power. It was glorious. A bit of a shame that the crowd was a little apathetic in contrast to the event over in India and Chennai, won by young Czech Linda Fruhvirtova where the crowd looked amazingly enthusiastic. Here, it was quiet, subdued, apart from the odd person, shouting out at the wrong time! Not really a great sense of excitement. However, for fans of Siniakova this was extremely exciting.

Siniakova is a talented tennis player. She’s doubles world number one, has a superb backhand, unorthodox, but highly effective and probably one of the best on the tour. She is one of the best players poaching at the net that there is. A fantastic athlete as evidenced by the energy she was able to display this week. Siniakova‘s main weaknesses have been inconsistent serve and also her mental attitude. So often a single error has seen her throw mini-tantrums, throw a racket, berate herself. One of the reasons she and Krejcikova seem to make a good team is because they have such different personalities, with Krejcikova super calm, super steady on court. As a singles player Siniakova has all the tools and it seemed to come together this week. Great athleticism, wonderful shotmaking from the back of the court, fantastic at the net and importantly, this week has served much more consistently. Having come straight from New York she did not have a coaching team with her and said on the court she was on her own this week. Maybe that helped. There was no one to blame or rant at. She just kept her head down and played tennis.

I’m a big fan of Siniakova. I went to watch her in round one at Wimbledon this year and sat right behind her chair. You live the match with her – her emotions are there on her face on the court, and in her body language. It’s engaging, it’s likeable. It’s also maddening when she can’t string it together! This was a bad loss to a young Polish player and was full of the usual Siniakova drama! However, when she does go in a run, like this week, it’s glorious. Her happy smile, the officially best hair on WTA bouncing behind her…

My photo of Siniakova at Wimbledon 2022

Undoubtedly tired, this was a very good event for her, a lovely victory and hopefully the start of a rise in the singles ranking. There is no reason why she can’t do what Barbora Krejcikova did, but I still question her nerve in a Grand Slam. Krejcikova had the mental fortitude and strength to keep going. Not sure Siniakova does, but I’d love to see her back up into the top 30, and if she plays as she did this week. There’s no reason why that can’t happen.

Meanwhile, to wrap up the USOpen, Petra Kvitova fell to Jessica Pegula in round 4, looking a little weary after that epic win over Muguruza. Still, a good summer for Petra with title #29, final of the Cincinnati WTA1000 and her 40th WTA final, and back to the top 20.

The US Open title was won by Iga Swiatek, cementing herself as the clear number 1. The hottest player on tour, Caroline Garcia finally crashed back down to earth with a nervy loss to Ons Jabeur in the semi finals. Jabeur herself had a nervy start in the final but Swiatek takes no prisoners in finals so couldn’t recover. Despite having points to take it to a final set, Jabeur faltered and Swiatek pounced for her third grand slam title and second of 2022. An amazing thing when the year started with Ash Barty an undisputed number 1 and Swiatek still very much one of the pack.

I’m not a fan of men’s tennis, but the victory of 19 year old Carlos Alcaraz seems a big moment. All time great Roger Federer has announced his retirement this week too and here in the UK we are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II so quite a changing of the guard all round.

By Kvittycat53

WTA tennis fan, especially Petra Kvitova, Barbora Krejcikova, Kateřina Siniaková

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