Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Jersey Girl McHale Bounced From U.S. Open (UPDATED)
NEW YORK — The Jersey Girl is gone.
Despite playing in front of a pro-American crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Christina McHale, a native of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., saw her U.S. Open run come to end in the third round Saturday at the hands of No. 13 seed Ana Ivanovic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.
McHale saved one match point with a swinging forehand volley winner into the open court, but then sailed a backhand long on Match Point No. 2, causing Ivanovic to scream in joy and pump her fist.
McHale served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but appeared to be shaken by nerves and was broken. She was broken again in the 12th game, giving Ivanovic the set and new life.
“I’m still thinking about that now, like what I could have done differently,” McHale said of the 10th game when she served for the match.
“But, I mean, you know, I think I just need more experience in this stage of a slam to try with more experience, I think I’ll be able to do better next time.”
In their previous two meetings, McHale was unable to take a set from the former world No. 1.
Despite not advancing to the fourth round, she can take something positive knowing she made strides at this Open.
“Yeah, I definitely think I’m heading in the right direction,” McHale said. “Yeah, you know, I played her a couple times. This is the closest score we’ve had. I’m definitely playing better. It shows me still what things I need to work on to get to that level.”
While McHale will go home thinking about what might have been, Ivanovic will meet No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, who needed three sets to survive a scare from No. 26 Alize Cornet, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2.
Azarenka leads their all-time series, 4-2, including a straight-sets win in the fourth round of this year’s French Open.
Ivanovic will need to play a cleaner match against Azarenka than she did against McHale, especially on her serve. She had five double faults and 51 unforced errors compared with 45 winners.
“Well, obviously my big goal is to win another Grand Slam,” Ivanovic said. “You know, I really want to work hard for it. It’s long way. I have to beat players like Vika, Serena, other top players to get there. I’m aware of that. I have luxury that I’ve been there, so I know what it takes.”
Said Azarenka: “Ana is a great player. She really improved. I think especially this year she’s been showing some consistent results.
“She’s definitely in great form, and I’m sure she’s motivated and pumped up. It’s going to be a good match. She’s a great champion, as well. I’m looking forward to that.”
While McHale is out, the day was not a complete loss for the American women.
Alison Riske, a wildcard, stunned No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-0, to advance to the fourth round.
Riske, ranked No. 81, played brilliantly in making 70 percent of her first serves and hitting 12 winners against seven unforced errors.
“It was really emotional for me,” said Riske, who was born in Pittsburgh and lives in Washington, D.C. “It’s cool because I feel like I’m playing within myself and not doing anything too crazy. It’s just really comfortable for me out there.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.