Closing in on a big prize

The times, they are dark. But the young people who play tennis for a living are shining brightly in New York at the U.S. Open tournament, which has been running for a week and a half. Today we have the Final Four of the women's singles competition. Caroline Garcia (pictured) of France plays Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, and Iga Swiatek of Poland goes against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

These four had to get past a lot of big names to make it to this point. Serena Williams put in an appearance so that she could be adored, but she lasted only three matches. American teen phenom Coco Gauff advanced to the second week, but she's not quite ready for the trophy. Simona Halep, GarbiƱe Mugurusa, Naomi Osaka, Andreescu, Bencic, Fernandez, Raducanu – they're all on to the next thing.

I'll be rooting especially for Garcia, who's the clear underdog of the remaining field. I don't think I'd ever heard of her until the French Open this year. I rarely watch doubles matches, but I was intrigued by the goings-on in Paris in which Garcia and her long-time partner, Kristina Mladenovic, came in as ringers and took the championship with a three-set finals win over Gauff and Jessica Pegula. The two French ladies were older, and way smarter on the doubles court, than their American opponents. Since then, Garcia's had an amazing summer winning singles matches all over the place.

But I won't be too sad if Jabeur wins today. A finalist at Wimbledon, she's an Arab woman from Africa. And she's real, and funny. That's all good for the sport and its fans.

In the second match, I will be rooting against Sabalenka. We don't need to be sending any trophies from New York to Belarus, thank you very much. And she's one of the worst screamers on the tour. Every time she hits the ball, she lets out a blood-curdling shriek. No, it's not a grunt of exertion. It's meant to distract and intimidate. I have no use for that. May Iga of Poland, who's been ranked no. 1 in the world all summer, make quick work of Sabalenka's tired act.

But whoever wins the title this weekend will deserve it. Unlike some of the bigger names, all four of these women have been grinding it out all season, and doing it quite well.


  1. Nice review and forecast, Jack. Thanks! Great tennis.


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