Sunshine the Golden Retriever put up a good fight against JuJu the Allez Bitch for a tight rope during the day session but did not prevail: 7-6 (5), 3-6, 4-6. JuJu needed one medical timeout for her hip, which had been a problem for a few days as she admitted in her post-match presser. The difference in the match was that JuJu did a better job of breaking serve and putting pressure on Sunshine.
1st Serve %
1st Serve % Pts Won
2nd Serve % Pts Won
Break Points Won
Total Service Points Won
Total Points Won
Sunshine has taken a lot of flak lately for her counterpunching style. While I certainly think she needs to do more than counterpunch to be a Slam contender in the long-run, I tweeted that she has more game than people give her credit for. It seems I'm in good company, as JuJu said this about her:
Q. Were you surprised how she kept points alive for so long when they seemed won by and you they were still going?
Yeah, it was incredible. She has such a good defense. First time I played against her. I watched some videos and everything, but a lot balls were coming back into the court. And like I said, she's really smart. She never hits two balls in the row with the same rhythm. She does a lot different things, especially with her backhand. So that wasn't easy for me to find a good position in the court. Sometimes I was too far; sometimes I was too much in a rush. So finally, the third set I could find the good rhythm.
As expected, JuJu never underestimated Sunshine.
[Winning this match] gives me confidence. She's the number two player in the world. It's a great test for me. It's my fourth tournament back and I can play a good level against the best players in the world. I was surprised the way she played. I don't know her at all. I knew she's from the new generation, playing very consistent but when you're facing her she has been really tough
One thing that I don't think enough people notice about Sunshine's counterpunching is that it ain't just her movement. She's very tactically smart and puts a lot of spin on the ball. The highlight reel below mainly shows JuJu dictating play, but I'll focus on Sunshine.
In the first point, after a long crosscourt long rally, Sunshine demonstrates her athleticism by making a great BH smash after recovering a drop shot, and then retrieves JuJu's inside-in FH DTL approach with a lob. Notice in the set point she converts at 1:58, she teases JuJu into an error by hitting a high looper to JuJu's vaunted BH.
While I'm a big JuJu fan, the WTA needs a young 'un like Sunshine who is mentally tough. Sunshine, you lost to a great champion, and it's part of your learning curve. Here's to hoping that you pick up a few tricks from JuJu's game.