The Tennis Hall of Fame of August

Aug 23, 2022, 6:00:00 AM | by Quentin Ballue

The Tennis Hall of Fame of August
Caroline Garcia
No Novak Djokovic and no Grand Slam for the Augusters, but a gala Caroline Garcia, an ever fanciful Nick Kyrgios and some young wolves with big teeth. Before the US Open kicks off, let's take a look at the highlights of the past few weeks. PS: Queen Serena has not been forgotten.

MVP of the month: Caroline Garcia

Coming out of qualifying and winning a WTA 1000? Nobody imagined it, but in Cincinnati, Caroline Garcia did it. The 28-year-old from Lyon first beat Diane Parry, then Andrea Petkovic, each time in three sets, to enter the main draw. She then went on to defeat Petra Martic, Maria Sakkari, Elise Mertens and Jessica Pegula in turn to advance to the last four. In the semi-finals, the Frenchwoman faced Aryna Sabalenka, but despite two rain interruptions, she kept her calm to win in three sets and claim the scalp of her third world top 10 in Ohio. "To be back in a WTA 1000 final after so many years is great," she said. "It was a long wait. You never really know what you have to do so it's hard. I'm very happy with the last preparation for the return to the court at 3-1 in the third set. I was ready for every point, that made the difference." The Frenchwoman concluded an idyllic week by lifting the trophy the next day at the expense of Petra Kvitova (6-2, 6-4). Her third title of the year and the third WTA 1000 of her career after those won in Wuhan and Beijing in 2017. More? Between 19 June and 21 August, the former world number 4 won 26 matches on the WTA Tour. No one does it better, Simona Halep having stopped at "only" 19. And now Caroline Garcia is back in the top 20 for the first time since 2019. Boss.

 

Achievement of the month: Ben Shelton

Ben Shelton goes fast. Very fast. The 19-year-old American made a name for himself by crushing world number 5 Casper Ruud (6-3, 6-3) in the second round in Cincinnati, without conceding a single break point. This feat was made all the more impressive by the fact that it came the day after a nearly three-hour battle with Lorenzo Sonego (7-6 [5], 3-6, 7-5). In May, the university champion was ranked 548th in the ATP rankings. He has just entered the top 200 and will have the opportunity to continue his rise at the US Open, which has logically invited him to the party. Quite a progression for the nearly two-metre tall (1.93m) left-hander, who was practically born with a racket in his hand since his father is none other than Bryan Shelton, former 55th player in the world and eighth place finalist at Wimbledon in 1994. Dad can be proud. And he is, even if he points out a shortcoming in his sense of movement: "At the moment, he's a bit of a bull in a china shop!"

 

Announcement of the month: Serena Williams

It was both expected and regretted: on 9 August, Serena Williams announced the imminent end of her tennis career. "There comes a time in life when we have to decide to go in a different direction," she posted on Instagram. "This moment is always difficult when you love something deeply. I love tennis so much. But now the countdown is on." The earthquake, then the wave. A flood of tributes and praise, from Rafael Nadal to Iga Swiatek, via Billie Jean King or John McEnroe, which has placed her at the table of icons Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tom Brady. The American with 23 Grand Slam titles returned to the circuit at the end of June after almost a year's absence. The results were far from those of a player of her status: a single victory, over Nuria Parrizas Diaz, and three defeats, against Harmony Tan, Belinda Bencic and Emma Raducanu. The US Open, which she has won six times, could be her last chance to take the stage. It is also getting dangerously close to the end for her sister Venus, who didn't last long in Washington, Toronto and Cincinnati, walking out the door on her debut. Get the tissues ready.

 

Controversy of the month: Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu has been working with Dmitry Tursunov since the end of July in preparation for the US Open. The Briton has made second round stops in the first three majors of the year and will return to Flushing Meadows as the defending champion. The former world number 20 is certainly a good tennis advisor, as evidenced by his playing CV and recent collaborations with Aryna Sabalenka or Anett Kontaveit. But the decision to partner with a Russian has exposed Raducanu to criticism across the Channel. Labour MP Chris Bryant called on her to reconsider her choice in the Telegraph: "The Kremlin will present this as an indication that the UK doesn't really care about the war in Ukraine, so it would be a real shame if Emma continues. I would urge her to think again and, at the very least, condemn Putin's barbaric war." The nugget didn't flinch, and the Russian was by her side in Cincinnati, where she brushed aside Serena Williams and then Victoria Azarenka, before falling in the third round to Jessica Pegula. "He's here, we're continuing the trial. We just need to see how we work with each other, how we complement each other. It's too early to tell," she said. In Ohio, Raducanu said he "feels like I'm playing with the same freedom I had last year [...] and I'm going in the right direction again". It's all talk, but Tursunov probably had something to do with it.

 

Surprise of the month: Jack Draper 

Jack Draper snatched a set from Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2021 and defeated Diego Schwartzman at Eastbourne in June, but the Brit took it to the next level by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal (7-5, 7-6 [4]). It was the biggest win of the 20-year-old left-hander's career, followed by a forfeit win over Gael Monfils and a respectable quarter-final loss to eventual winner Pablo Carreño Busta. The Londoner had been knocked out by Andrey Rublev in the second round in Washington the week before, but was not sure if he would play in the Canadian tournament, as he was planning to spend a week training to "build his confidence". He was right to change his mind.
 

Comeback of the Month: Borna Coric

Rafael Nadal would have been eligible to appear in this category as he returned to the circuit in Cincinnati after more than a month away. Except that Borna Coric ejected the Majorcan from the tournament as soon as he entered the fray. So much the worse for him, and so much the better for Simona Halep, who certainly deserves a big tip of the hat. After more than a year of fluctuating between 11th and 27th place in the WTA rankings, the Romanian returned to the top 10 thanks to her title in Toronto. In sixth place precisely, her best ranking since July 2021. The Romanian has been in a state of flux for the past few months and is beginning to reap the benefits of her new collaboration with Patrick Mouratoglou. In Canada, she beat Coco Gauff in the quarters, Jessica Pegula in the semis and Beatriz Haddad Maia in the final to win her first WTA 1000 since 2020. A thigh injury prevented her from continuing her success in Cincinnati, but the two-time Grand Slam winner is already looking ahead to the US Open. All aboard Simo!

 

Pump of the month: Iga Swiatek

The players on the circuit owe a debt of gratitude to Alizé Cornet: ever since the Frenchwoman ended Iga Swiatek's incredible 37-match winning streak by ousting her at Wimbledon, the Pole has been stalled. The world number 1 was ousted by Caroline Garcia in the quarter-finals in Warsaw and then left in the third round of the WTA 1000 in Toronto and Cincinnati, beaten by Beatriz Haddad Maia and Madison Keys. Four defeats in the space of a month and a half, whereas she had only lost three times in the entire first half of the year. The spring cannibal is finally leaving crumbs for the rest of the circuit, and one man's misfortune is another's gain...

 

Coach of the Month: Nick Kyrgios

The ATP 500 in Washington allowed Nick Kyrgios to win the seventh title of his career, three years after his last. True to form, the Australian put on a show throughout the tournament, starting with his opening match against Marcos Giron. The Wimbledon finalist had no trouble getting rid of the American, who was swept aside 6-3, 6-2 in less than an hour. Before serving for the win, he even allowed himself a little exchange with a spectator, to whom he asked which side he should engage. His coaching did not pay off immediately, as the Australian sent his first ball into the net. But he finished with his second, much to the delight of the crowd. If it didn't exist, it would have to be invented.