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Australian Open

Australian Open — The WTA Restaurant Expanded Its Takeout Menu

Matt Zemek

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Geoff Burke -- USA TODAY Sports

The English language is endlessly fascinating.

You will see people on #TennisTwitter say during a tournament, “Take out the trash.” This commonly refers to fans hoping CoCo Vandeweghe, John Isner, Ryan Harrison, Tennys Sandgren, or Danielle Collins will lose.

You can take someone out for dinner, and it is the most pleasing thing in the world.

A player can take someone out, and it refers to an upset which destroys your bracket and makes you miserable.

This last example of “take out” can be fused with the restaurant-industry term “takeout” (one word, as a noun or adjective) to create the construct I will put forth here:

The WTA, if compared to a restaurant, increased its “takeout” offerings at the Australian Open.

We knew about Hsieh Su-Wei, who took out Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza in Week 1 at two separate major tournaments last year. She almost took out Naomi Osaka in the third round before Osaka rallied.

We know about Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whose game is bright and bold enough to take out formidable opponents on a given day when her shots are firing in perfect rhythm. She beat Sloane Stephens and altered the complexion of this tournament.

Yet, in Melbourne, we witnessed the expansion of this “takeout” list.

Amanda Anisimova took out Aryna Sabalenka in a devastatingly effective third-round ambush. Collins, mentioned above, took out both Julia Goerges in round one and Angelique Kerber in round four. Collins wiped away two players who made major semifinals or better in 2018 and, in the process, reached a major semifinal herself.

In our DM-thread editorial discussions at Tennis With An Accent, the notion of depth gets tossed around a lot. We — meaning myself, Saqib Ali, Andrew Burton, Mert Ertunga, and Susie Reid — are constantly trying to get a more precise handle on what “quality depth” truly means. Lots of good, nuanced thoughts are part of this discussion.

I don’t claim to know what the exact definition or standard of quality depth should be. I don’t insist that my definition or framing of the term “quality depth” should be used or referenced more than the definitions or framings used by others. My TWAA colleagues have equally valid, equally worthwhile answers and perspectives here.

I will merely say that in my observations of present-day women’s tennis, the detail which strikes me most centrally about the WTA Tour is that there are so many players who can spring an ambush, who can take out an elite opponent in the round of 64, 32 or 16 at a big tournament. That list increased with Anisimova and Collins making their statements, managing to join Hsieh and Pavs in Melbourne.

Players on the WTA Tour have said it in recent months, and it’s true: There are simply fewer and fewer tournaments in which players can expect easy matches in the opening rounds. This doesn’t mean you have to view this as THE primary manifestation of quality depth on the WTA Tour. It is, however, one aspect of depth which is worth keeping.

Don’t take this thought out of your analytical framework.

The WTA’s takeout options are continuing to expand.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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