September 6, 2020,

Giant stompers or giant slayers?

In today’s star studded action packed women’s tennis menu, you want to be one or the other.

The third option is a terrible one.

You’ll be a victim of your opponent’s success, be they the rising star or established luminary.

Any questions that this 2020 US Open is deserving of an asterisk, because six of the top players opted not to play, is nonsense.

Just look at the schedule.

Americans Serena Williams vs Sloane Stephens in a potential blockbuster. Greece’s Maria Sakkari vs USA’s experienced teen sensation in Amanda Anisimova. Then there is the sleeper match that could be the gem of the day in Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Coco Gauff’s best friend and doubles partner, Caty McNally.

Previously when the American teen names of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally were mentioned, due to her recent meteoric rise, Coco has been getting top billing. That could all change today, at least for the moment if Caty can pull off an upset against the Belgium veteran.

It is possible.

She did it in the last round against Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Ekaterina is no easy ticket to punch.

Ekaterina won one WTA singles title, three WTA 125K series titles and seven singles titles on the ITF Circuit. On 17 February 2020, she reached her best singles ranking of No. 25.

Those are heady statistics indeed for a teenager, rising star or not, to face up against.

Talk about a potential giant slayer.

Caty faced up to her and fought out a nail biting victory 4-6, 6-3, and 7-6.

As reported by usopen.org, “18-year-old Catherine “Caty” McNally showed impressive fight as she came back from a set down to defeat no. 21 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in a second-round match that was delayed due to weather on Day 4.”

If you’ve been watching this year’s Open, Ekaterina showed some grit herself as she withstood the charge of the legendary Kim Clijsters.

The news was brought to us by the WTA (wtatennis.com) who shared, “No.21 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova roared through the final six games to defeat former World No.1 and three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 and reach the second round. The Russian No.1 had her work cut out for her against an inspired Clijsters, who was five points from the first win of her latest comeback.”

We saw the match and thought Kim was going to steam roll her early on but Ekaterina surprisingly took some brutal shots but was resilient and won the all-important second set.

So you see, Caty’s victory over Ekaterina was a major step towards her one day playing the role of the giant.

She will need giant size courage and tenacity when she faces Elise Mertens.

A top fifteen player in both singles and doubles, Elise reached her career-high singles ranking of world No. 12 on November 26, 2018 and a career-high of world No. 2 in doubles on September 9, 2019.

Elise has won five singles and nine doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including one Grand Slam at the 2019 US Open with Aryna Sabalenka, as well as eleven singles and thirteen doubles titles on the ITF Circuit.

While her most prolific success has come in the form of doubles, including winning both the Indian Wells and Miami doubles titles in 2019 to complete the Sunshine Double, Elise has also been very successful in singles, including reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the US Open.

Caty will have her hands full. Will she be up to the task?

In terms of her credentials, she is the 2018 French Open juniors doubles and 2018 French Open girls’ singles runner-up and US Open junior doubles champion.

Caty has won two doubles titles on the WTA Tour, as well as two singles titles and five doubles titles on the ITF Women’s Circuit.

On September 9, 2019, she reached her best singles ranking of world No. 105. On February 3, 2020, she achieved her highest doubles ranking of world No. 39.

Very impressive.

So much for the talk. Time for the women to play.

The two warriors are battling and going toe to toe, back and forth and it appears that Caty does indeed have a chance to climb the beanstalk.

As she is reaching the top, there will be a giant named Elise waiting for her.

Caty is determined and appears to be ready for the dynamics of the moment.

From what we have seen, her recent work has been a little spotty and she certainly doesn’t look like the same player that pushed Serena Williams to the limits on August 28, 2019, at the US Open where she at times rushed the net and won the first set 7-5.

That being said, Caty still appears ready for prime time.

She raced off to a 3-0 first set lead.

Wobbly but unfazed, Elise has been down this road before and steadied herself to get back on serve.

Can Caty break her and close out the first set?

Tennis Magazine capsulizes it well. “Mertens served at 4-5. At 30-30, another constricted forehand lined its way into the net and gave McNally a set point.

On that first set point, Mertens struck a service winner down the T. At deuce, another netted Mertens forehand.  Set point number two for McNally saw her net a backhand return.”

Caty let a major first set opportunity slip away.

We could feel the winds drain from Caty’s sails.

At 5-5, Caty over hits way too many shots and the crafty veteran Elise breaks her to serve at 6-5.

Elise is determined not to let this opening close and swiftly closes out Caty and takes the first set 7-5.

Elise is playing like a giant.

After having two set point slip away, we sensed Caty was deeply wounded.

Too many double faults from Caty today. Way too many. Not enough winners when it mattered.

Elise is ranked number 18 in the world for a reason.

She now finishes Caty off in routine style 6-1 and wins the match.

Both Coco and Caty had a rough go this year at the Open. Coco lost in the first round to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova and as a doubles team, the young Americans were ousted by the number No. 3-seeded team, Nicole Melichar and Xu Yifan.

Call it the sophomore jinx.

Top seeds are tops seeds for a reason.

Giants are gigantic for a reason.

If you truly want to be a giant slayer, and Caty seems to sincerely want that, when your limited opportunities open, you must play large.

~ ~ ~

OPENING PHOTO grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, Cincinnati-Enquirer-photo-credit.

https://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2020-09-04/2020-09-04_getting_to_know_caty_mcnally.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekaterina_Alexandrova

https://www.wtatennis.com/news/1802858/alexandrova-quells-legend-clijsters-us-open-comeback

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elise_Mertens

https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2020/09/down-0-3-first-elise-mertens-fights-back-against-caty-mcnally/90520/

https://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2020-09-04/no_3_seeds_edge_past_fan_faves_coco_gauff_and_caty_mcnally_in_doubles.html

https://fciwomenswrestling.com/

https://www.fcielitecompetitor.com/

https://grapplingstars.com/

fciwomenswrestling2.com/ 

https://femcompetitor.com/