Most of the leading contenders in Cincinnati spent the day on practice courts and in press conferences, but the day did produce a few intriguing matches. We review the best of Monday for those who couldn’t catch all of the action.
Baker d. Kohlschreiber: The most surprising result of the day on the men’s side, this two-tiebreak affair contained 162 total points, of which each man won 81. After losing to Kohlschreiber at Wimbledon, Baker will have gained satisfaction from reversing that result closer to home. The 27-year-old comeback story had lost all three of his matches in the US Open Series, contrary to the usual spike in performance that Americans enjoy during this stage of the season. Kohlschreiber becomes the second top-20 player whom Baker has defeated this year, joining Monfils, and may have paid a penalty for spending most of his summer on European clay courts.
Levine d. Young: When a player has lost 16 straight matches, some luck must intervene to extricate him from the ensuing malaise. By drawing qualifier Jesse Levine to start Cincinnati, Donald Young seemed to have found that luck. Both of these American lefties play essentially the same style, covering the court efficiently but lacking an overpowering weapon to finish points. Although Young did not come as close to victory as he did against Chardy in Toronto, he led by a break midway through the second set before Levine regrouped and then predictably stood firmer in the tiebreak. Young now stands within four losses of Vince Spadea’s record losing streak.
Giorgi d. Schiavone: In this battle of two Italians at opposite ends of their careers, Giorgi built upon her unexpected appearance in the second week of Wimbledon with a comfortable victory over the only active major champion from her nation. Schiavone did not aid her own cause with 10 double faults, a pattern that has contributed to her fading results this year. The highest-ranked opponent whom Giorgi ever has defeated, the world #14 rarely has found her best tennis in North America. And, a proud patriot who contributes regularly to Fed Cup, she may find a measure of consolation in witnessing the rise of another Italian.
Peng d. Jankovic: The runner-up here last year, the Serbian former #1 continues to feature in dramatic matches even as she declines. Tightly contested throughout its three-hour sprawl, this match pitted two fierce competitors against each other in a series of prolonged rallies and tenuous service games. Jankovic served for the match in the second set, built 2-0 and 4-2 leads in the third set, and held no fewer than five match points in the tiebreak, three on her own serve. Unwilling to relent even in those dire circumstances, Peng continued to scorch the baseline with her backhands and calmly finish off points at the net with polish. Meanwhile, her opponent gradually unraveled under the pressure of the moment, double-faulting on one of her match points, glaring at her coach, and gazing at the sky in desperation. Although Jankovic normally embraces drama, her disastrous 2012 has featured several such losses, and memories of them must have crept into her mind. Since she relinquished all of her points from this tournament last year, she may enter the US Open unseeded depending on the performances of those around her.