Sunday, July 22, 2018

Wk.29- Game of (Ms.Backspin) Thrones

Who will sit upon Backspin's "Fuzzy Throne" at the end of 2018? Well, here's the thing... there are a handful of worthy stars on the battlefield at hand, and the final blow in the long fight could very well prove to be the most decisive.


DW Design & Decor


Here's a short rundown of the "current standings" of the contenders involved in the race as we enter the heart of the summer, a week away from the official start of the North American hard court season...


=THE CONTENDERS=
1. Simona Halep, ROU: she "only" has two titles, but one's her cathartic first major. Plus, she reached a second slam final and has held onto the #1 ranking for all but four weeks in '18. In a season of great stories, Halep's triumph over her on-court demons is the light leading the way.

2. Petra Kvitova, CZE: with all her comeback success on the "regular" tour and in Fed Cup, Kvitova really should be higher. She would be, too, if she'd done anything at all in the three majors (2-3 overall). Still, she could very well have "Ms.Backspin" on her racket if she has a back-half of the season anything resembling her first, winning 3+ titles, leading CZE to another Fed Cup crown and reaching at least the QF in New York.

3. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: the Dane rose above Halep's warrioress run in Melbourne to become the initial maiden slam winner of '18, but aside from her sure-to-rank-very-high-on-the-season's-Performance-of-the-Year-list Eastbourne run, she's existed mostly in the shadows since then. But if she can turn around her diminishing slam results (W-4r-2r) in New York, she'll be able to make a strong "Ms.B" case.

4. Angelique Kerber, GER: Kerber's enchanted return from her lost-in-the-forest '17 campaign was overshadowed in many corners (even after the final) by the star power of Serena Williams' appearance in the final, but no player has been more consistent in the majors this year (16-2, SF-QF-W). Back in the Top 5, and with virtually no points to defend from her 5-9 mark in the 3Q/4Q in '17, the German could very well make a run at a second year-end #1 season in the last three.

5. Diede de Groot, NED: a wheelchair star has never been named "Ms.Backspin," but could the time be near? Probably not in '18 ('19, though...), but the 21-year old Dutch de Groot *has* officially assumed the lead role on the WC tour, claiming the #1 ranking and (after Wimbledon) extending her singles/doubles slam finals streak to ten. She's the reigning champ in the AO and Wimbledon singles, and RG, Wimbledon and U.S. doubles, not to mention both the year-end WC Masters events in both disciplines. With Yui Kamiji failing at SW19 (missing WS) to become the first player to win all eight slam titles in a career, de Groot has a shot to pull off the feat by the end of next year's RG, less than two and a half years after she made her slam debut.

6. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE: these two Czechs just know how to spin magic in the slams. They won three straight junior doubles majors back in 2013, and their first two wins together on tour have been at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year. They're the first team to sweep Paris and London in fifteen years. In a season in which doubles partnerships have been ended, interrupted or disrupted for anything from retirement to injury, illness, ineffectiveness and trainer stealing to who-knows-what, Krejcikova & Siniakova have so far been the most stable and successful pair.

7. Elina Svitolina, UKR: again the Ukrainian has proven to be able to win like clockwork on the "regular" tour, picking up three titles in '18 (she's 12-2 in career finals), but her continued inability to have a slam breakthrough (she's one title away from the becoming the only player in tour history with 13 singles titles but no slam semifinal berth) is now officially a "thing." And with Halep, who'd already had five SF+ slam results before she finally won her elusive first slam, now off the hook for not fully living up to her ranking, the pressure shifts onto Svitolina's shoulders.

8. CZE & USA Fed Cup Teams: either the Czechs will reclaim their FC dominance by winning a sixth title in eight years, or Kathy Rinaldi's Bannerettes will become the first back-to-back U.S. champs in the event in eighteen years.

=WORTHY NOMINEES=
...maybe not "Ms.B" worthy, but surely you can't tell the story of '18 without them.

9. Elise Mertens, BEL: the tour's preeminent double threat in '18, with three singles titles, a slam SF and three doubles titles.
10. Demi Schuurs, NED: while the biggest titles have so far eluded her, the Dutch doubles specialist is a threat with every partner she teams with. Her five WD titles lead the tour, and she's won them with four different partners.
11. Julia Goerges, GER: nearly 30, the newly confident Goerges has never been better. She's in the Top 10, and coming off her first career slam semi.
12. Yui Kamiji, JPN: she's been the #1 WC more weeks in '18 than de Groot, won the AO and is a dominant doubles player. She could be the Evert to de Groot's Navratilova in the sport's first long-running two-headed rivalry.
13. Sloane Stephens, USA: won in Miami, reached the final in Paris. Now comes North America all over again.
14. Kiki Bertens, NED: the Dutch has proven to be more than a clay "specialist" in '18. Yes, she won in Charleston and reached the Madrid final, but also the Wimbledon QF and won a WD title on hard courts. She's posted more Top 10 wins (4) this year than she had in her entire career.
15. Dasha Kasatkina, RUS: with one or two different match results the Russian might be in the "Ms.B" top tier
16. Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU: the climb to relevance of the fiery Romanian (is there any other kind?) has been a remarkable story, and every week -- either in singles or doubles, and sometimes both -- she writes another intriguing chapter.

=AND DON'T FORGET...=
...it wouldn't take much to insert them into the conversation.

17. Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA: the *other* slam doubles champions (AO), featuring the latest WD #1 (Babos), they could still turn out to be the top '18 duo
18. Alona Ostapenko, LAT: she's avoided a year-after slump, and when she's been at the top of her game (Miami F, Wimbledon SF) she's soared on big stages. She still needs to fill out the blank-ish spots her results page, though.
19. Gaby Dabrowski, CAN: three WD titles, and two MX slam finals (1-1) put the Canadian in the Doubles Player of the Year mix, but a lost 3rd set TB (at RG in the MX final) may have dashed those hopes.
20. Naomi Osaka, JPN: her Indian Wells title run spoke to her potential and star power. Her first huge slam run could happen in New York, or maybe not. Naomi's pace of improvement is, as always, a difficult thing to get a good handle on.
21. Serena Williams, USA: only four events into her return, but she's already reached her 30th slam final. Barring unforeseen circumstances, she'll likely be considered the favorite heading into the Open.
22. Ash Barty, AUS: the Aussie has won singles (1) and doubles (2) titles on three different surfaces, but without the retired Casey Dellacqua she's now without a consistent WD partner
23. Garbine Muguruza, ESP: the consistency of '17 has drifted, but she's won a title, reached two finals and a slam semi. New York could "make" her season, though she's never reached the QF.
24. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS: they won in Madrid, reached the AO & I.W. finals, and were (briefly) the doubles #1's. But more questions are currently raised about their partnership than their results are praised.
25. Caroline Garcia, FRA: maybe no player was better than Garcia from here until the end of the season in '17. She's been consistently good, but not yet great, so far in '18.


And, now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...



*WEEK 29 CHAMPIONS*
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (Int'l/Red Clay)
S: Anastasija Sevastova/LAT def. Petra Martic/CRO 7-6(4)/6-2
D: Irina-Camelia Begu/Andreea Mitu (ROU/ROU) d. Danka Kovinic/Maryna Zanevska (MNE/BEL) 6-3/6-4
GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND (Int'l/Red Clay)
S: Alize Cornet/FRA def. Mandy Minella/LUX 6-4/7-6(6)
D: Alexa Guarachi/Desirae Krawczyk (CHI/USA) d. Lara Arruabarrena/Timea Bacsinszky (ESP/SUI) 6-4/4-6 (10-6)
FED CUP AMERICAS II (Guayaquil, ECU/Red Clay)
PP: Ecuador def. Bahamas 2-0



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Alize Cornet/FRA
...give Cornet credit. 2018 hasn't been easy. After starting the year with a Brisbane QF and notching two wins in Melbourne, she saw her season threatened with being sidetracked for still more eye-rolling actions from the so-called "doping agencies" -- this time a ring-the-doorbell-and-run, broken intercom fiasco that nearly earned Cornet a ridiculously long suspension before yet another course correcting appeal led to the overturning of the attempt at an overzealous penalty. After her March hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport was pushed back to May, she continued to play, knowing full well her efforts could ultimately be for nothing (just ask Sara Errani about that). She reached the Charleston QF in April, getting her second '18 win over countrywoman Caroline Garcia. Though the ruling went her way a month later, it's been two months since her moment of relief and she came into Week 29 still looking for a good follow-up to her result on green clay. It hadn't come at Roland Garros (she lost in the 2nd Round, ironically, after defeating Errani in the 1st), nor during the grass season, as she left SW19 on a three-match losing streak. Back on the clay in Gstaad, though, the Pastry found her form. Wins over Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Conny Perrin, Sam Stosur and Genie Bouchard got her into her first final since January '17 (Brisbane). She defeated Mandy Minella in straights for career title #6, her first since Hobart '16 (def. Bouchard in the F). Four of the six wins have come on clay. Cornet will jump to #34 on Monday, further solidifying her spot as the second-highest ranked French woman, as Kristina Mladenovic has fallen to nearly outside the Top 60 as we edge near the one-year anniversary of the summer '17 result (in D.C.) that kicked off what became a 15-match losing streak.


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RISERS: Anastasija Sevastova/LAT and Petra Martic/CRO
...Sevastova barely escaped her 1st Round match vs. Dalila Jakupovic in Bucharest, overcoming a 3-0 3rd set deficit before winning a deciding tie-break (7-1). Things went her way after that. Her three-setter vs. Sorana Cirstea in the QF was bookended by a straight sets victory over Arantxa Rus and Polona Hercog's 2nd set retirement. In the final, the Latvian defeated Martic 6 & 2 to claim her second career title. Sevastova retired from the sport in 2013 due to injuries and illness, having reached and won just a single tour-level final in 2010. Since her '15 return the 28-year old has posted a pair of slam QF and played in five tour singles finals. She'll climb back into the Top 20 on Monday, leapfrogging soon-to-be #21 Barbora Strycova and #22 Maria Sharapova.



Sevastova's final opponent in Bucharest, Martic has also found success after returning to the sport after being forced to exit due to injury. A back injury kept the Croat off court from the '16 Wimbledon until the spring of last year. Since her return, she's put together Round of 16 runs in Paris ('17), SW19 ('17) and Melbourne ('18). Wins over Rebecca Sramkova, Claire Liu, Laura Siegemund (3:08) and Mihaela Buzarnescu got her into her first WTA singles final since 2012 (a loss in Kuala Lumper to Hsieh Su-wei in which she retired in the 3rd set). After having been in the Top 50 since March, Martic had slipped to #60 after losing her '17 Wimbledon points. This result, though, will push her back up nine spots and nearly right back in at #51 on Monday.


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SURPRISES: Alexa Guarachi & Desirae Krawczyk, CHI/USA
...former NCAA players are popping up more and more on tour, and Guarachi (Alabama) and Krawczyk (Arizona State) are the latest to pick up maiden WTA titles.



In their first event together, the pair won two 3rd set TB -- vs. Korpatsch/Marcinkevicva 1st Rd., Soler-Espinovsa/Sorribes Tormo SF -- en route to the final, where they defeated Timea Bacsinszky & Lara Arruabarrena in yet another (10-6). This was the first WTA final for Guarachi, who was born in the U.S. but holds dual passports and has played for Chile since 2015. She's been impressive in ITF WD finals, going 19-3 since late '14 (including 5-0 in '18, four with Erin Routliffe), after a 1-5 start in finals in her career. It's also Krawczyk's first tour title. She's gone 5-2 the last two years in ITF finals while partnering fellow Pac-12er Giuliana Olmos (USC), with whom she reached her first WTA final in Monterrey in April.
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VETERANS: Mandy Minella/LUX and Evgeniya Rodina/RUS
...two more WTA moms, two more great results.



After being out since last year's Wimbledon, 32-year old Minella (at #226 last week, as she's playing with a protected ranking) returned in February after giving birth to daughter Emma Lina in October. It didn't take her long to find success, winning a $25K title in her fifth event, then another in June, then another on the first day of July. This week in Gstaad, she got her first tour-level MD wins since April of last year -- defeating the likes of Johanna Larsson, Sara Sorribes-Tormo and Marketa Vondrosova -- and rode the momentum all the way to her first WTA singles final. She didn't become the oldest '18 singles champion (at least she could have been until that other WTA mom gets one), but she'll make a one-week leap of 84 spots into the Top 150 on Monday.

Meanwhile, another tennis mother (in November 2012), Rodina followed up her Wimbledon qualifying-to-Round-of-16 experience (ended by Serena, naturally... I sense a theme here) with a QF in Gstaad, falling one round short of a SF match vs. Minella. Still, it was another good week, one that included the Russian saving three MP vs. Carina Witthoeft and battling past Mona Barthel, finally securing the win on her third attempt to serve it out, getting her first win in three career meetings with the German. It was Rodina's first tour-level QF since a semi in Guangzhou last September. She'll rise to #84 on Monday, just ten spots off the career high she set seven and a half years ago in 2011.
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COMEBACKS: Genie Bouchard/CAN and Laura Siegemund/GER
...while her week in Gstaad ended with a retirement (groin) in the semifinals against Alize Cornet, Bouchard added another good result to her SW19 Q-run and 1st Round victory (with a $100K 1st Rd. loss squeezed in between). While she was two points from a loss in her first match, as the returning Timea Bacsinszky served up a set and 5-4, and had to save five SP vs. Viktorija Golubic while winning 7-6/7-6, Bouchard's win over Veronika Kudermetova got her into her first SF since Sydney '17 and lifted her ranking to #123, once again making her the top-ranked Canadian on tour.



In Bucharest, fresh off her first challenger final since returning from knee surgery, Siegemund reached her first tour-level QF since she won the Stuttgart title in April of last year (she'd be hurt a month later). Last week, the German posted victories over Jasmine Paolini and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (having trouble with the heat, a weather delay in the 3rd set the stage for a rally from an early break deficit). She fell to Petra Martic in the QF in a 3:08 three-setter.
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FRESH FACES: Claire Liu/USA and Bianca Andreescu/Carson Branstine, CAN/CAN
...18-year old Liu, who'll be at a new career high of #170 on Monday (she's the fifth highest-ranked player age 18 or under), was the only player to take a set off Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon. The Bannerette took her talents to the red clay of Bucharest this week, where she made it through qualifying and posted a MD win over Romanian Andreea Amalia Rosca. She pushed eventual finalist Petra Martic to three sets in the 2nd Round, forcing the decider by winning a 2nd set TB. Next stop: North American hard courts.

Serving up week 6 on this European grind @brdbucharestopen

A post shared by Claire Liu (@cliu2000) on



In the $25K challenger in Gatineau, the all-Canadian/BFF duo of Andreescu (18) and Branstine (17) picked up their first pro title as a pair, after teaming to win the AO and RG girls doubles last season, and reaching a tour-level final in Toronto last summer. They found still more success in Quebec this week, defeating Hsu Chieh-Yu & Marcela Zacarias in a 10-4 3rd set TB in the final. It's Andreecsu's fourth ITF WD crown (second in three Gatineau finals -- she has 2 ITF WS wins, as well), and Branstine's first as a pro Branstine, who was playing in her first event since February, is California born, and represented the U.S. as recently as during the AO GD title run in '17 before joining Canada, her mom's birth country.


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DOWN: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (singles)
...things didn't go quite as planned for Begu in Bucharest, where a year ago she swept the singles and doubles titles (a career first). After not dropping a set in singles in '17, the Romanian didn't win a set this time around, falling in straights in the 1st Round to Ons Jabeur. It's her fourth consecutive loss. Begu opened the season with a semifinal result in Shenzhen, but has gone 3-7 since a nice stretch in the spring when she was 7-2 (w/ a win over Ostapenko) in a period that covered Charleston, Fed Cup, Istanbul and Madrid.




Thankfully, her week had a good ending. See below.
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ITF PLAYERS: Fiona Ferro/FRA and Sonya Kenin/USA
...Ferro, 21, picked up her fourth challenger win of the season and extended her winning streak to fifteen matches with a 6-4/6-4 win in the $80K Olomouc (CZE) final over Czech Karolina Muchova. She posted previous wins over Olga Danilova and #2-seeded Kateryna Kozlova. This is the Pasty's biggest title, and she'll jump to a new career-high of #124 on Monday, slightly ahead of some players named Kuznetsova and Zvonareva.

Olomouc champion!! 4th title of the season ??

A post shared by Fiona Ferro (@fioferro) on



The USTA's Wild Card Challenge (which this year includes WTA events in D.C. and San Jose along with 5 ITF challengers) for a berth in the U.S. Open MD began two weeks ago in the $60K Honolulu event, with Jessica Pegula reaching the final (a loss vs. Nao Hibino). This week, the winner of the Challenge the last two years -- Sonya Kenin -- hit the courts in Berkeley, California. Of course, the 19-year old #1 seed won the title, picking up career title #4 without losing a set, defeating #3 seeded Hibino in the semis and #2 Nicole Gibbs in a quick 4 & love final. Kenin won the 1st in just eighteen minutes, dropping only eight points. Last year, Kenin used her Open WC berth to reach her first slam 3rd Round, where she lost to idol Maria Sharapova under the light on Ashe on Night 5. This result came on the heels of Kenin's successful Q-run on the grass in Mallorca, which she then turned into her first tour-level SF berth that she followed up with a 1st Round SW19 win over Maria Sakkari. With the win, Kenin retains her spot as the highest ranked teenager on tour (a loss in the final would have ceded the spot -- by just a few points -- to Vera Lapko).
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JUNIOR STARS: Daniela Vismane/LAT and Dasha Lopatetskaya/UKR
...the next wave of Latvian players is already making a move. Well, at least one is. 17-year old Vismane, a girls quarterfinalist in Melbourne in January (though she had a 1st Round exit at SW19 on the grass vs. Clara Burel), grabbed her first pro title at the $15K Parnu (EST) challenger with a 4-6/6-4/6-2 win over Hordette Angelina Zhuravleva. Vismane ended 2017 on a 17-0 s/d run, winning a pair of G2 titles in both disciplines, and this was her fourth SF+ result on the ITF circuit in 2018.



Meanwhile, 15-year old Lopatetskaya is *still* undefeated through her first two pro events. The Ukrainian made her pro debut two weeks ago with a 6-0 (1 Q/5 MD) week that ended with a title in an Antalya $15K. She followed that up this week with another $15K title in Baja, Hungary. She lost just twenty total games in her five matches, never more than the four she lost in the second set of her straight sets win over Romania's Cristina Ene in the final.



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DOUBLES: Irina-Camelia Begu & Andreea Mitu, ROU/ROU
...though Begu's singles title defense in Bucharest went horribly wrong, the defense of her doubles crown went positively swimmingly. Naturally, her success came with another Swarmette by her side.



After winning in Shenzhen with Simona Halep, reaching the AO semis with Monica Niculescu and the Eastbourne final with Mihaela Buzarnescu, Begu was a wild card entry with fellow Romanian Mitu, yet another of the WTAers who recently became a mom (January),



The pair won a 10-6 3rd TB over another all-ROU duo (Cristian/Ruse) to reach Begu's 14th career WTA WD final, nine of them coming while partnering six different Romanians (in order, Niculescu, Cadantu, Olaru, Halep, Buzarnescu and now Mitu). They defeated Kovinic/Zanevska 3 & 4 to take the crown. It's Begu's eighth on tour (fourth w/ a Romanian), and Mitu's third, though her first since 2016. Mitu was a previous Bucharest finalist three years ago with Patricia Maria Tig, yet *another* Swarmette.


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WHEELCHAIR: Diede de Groot/NED
...in their third face-off in three weeks in England, WC #1 de Groot backed up her Wimbledon title in Nottingham with a come from behind, 2-6/6-3/6-3 hard court win over #2 Yui Kamiji to take the British Open crown. In a tight match that included streaky, non-"A" game play from both players, who'd picked up play in this tournament immediately after leaving London, Kamiji's movement (far better than on the grass) got her off to a good start. De Groot pulled away in the 3rd, leading 3-1, but Kamiji broke to get back on serve at 3-3. The Dutch #1 got the break back a game later and, with Kamiji serving to stay in the match at 3-5, de Groot battled back from love/40 down to close out the match. She converted MP with a backhand down the line return that caught the net cord and dropped just inside the line. De Groot wasn't at her best (especially on serve, as she had 1 ace vs. 13 DF), but won the big points to close to 12-7 in the head-to-head series vs. Kamiji, though she's now won five of the last six (not including Kamiji's Surbiton Invitational victory the week before SW19).

The two combined in doubles to win their third straight title together in their undefeated summer stint, defeating Sabine Ellerbrock & Charlotte Famin 6-3/6-0 in the final of what was announced as the most attended British Open wheelchair event in the tournament's history. WC seems to have developed a real following in the U.K., likely based on the popularity of Wimbledon's competition and that there are some slam-winning British stars on both the women's and men's sides. Now, if only a U.S. player could slide in there maybe the same up-tick could happen here, as pretty much every comment I even see about people who take a moment to view WC tennis is a positive one, usually with the add-on that they didn't realize how competitive and fun (and I'll throw in "fascinating," due to the intricacies of the movement of the chairs around the court) to watch it'd be.


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FED CUP: Charlotte Roemer/ECU
...the last of 2018's regional FC zone play was wrapped up in Guayaquil, Ecuador with the home team advancing out of Americas II with a 2-0 Promotional Playoff win over the Bahamas. Roemer, who reached her first pro singles final in a $15K in Cairo in April (ending her 0-5 career victory drought in semis), led the way for the Ecuadoran team. In her first action after a two-month absence, the 24-year old had an undefeated (3-0) week that concluded with the clinching PP win over Kerrie Cartwright in the shutout victory over the Bahamas.



For her part, Cartwright had also been undefeated coming into the match. The all-time BAH lead in FC singles wins, she'd won all three of her group play singles matches, as well as having a hand in a tie-winning doubles victory vs. Trinidad & Tobago.
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Welcome, Helena...








And still waiting for Conchita.




1. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Genie Bouchard def. Timea Bacsinszky
...4-6/7-6(1)/6-4.
In her first match in a month following a calf injury, and her first off the challenger circuit since SUI's Fed Cup tie vs. Romania in April, Bacsinszky's singles (though not her doubles) week ended early. But only after she came within two points of victory in the 2nd set when she served for the match at 6-4/5-4. Bouchard went on to reach her first SF in a year and a half.
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2. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Samantha Stosur def. Francesca Schiavone
...6-3/6-2.
Stosur and Schiavone have met under far different circumstances in the past. Especially in one instance (these highlights are done over an Italian song, which actually works quite well)...


As it is, though she lost in their biggest match in '10, Stosur stands at 10-4 in her head-to-head with the first Italian woman to win a major. This was their first meeting since 2014, and the first on clay since Rome in 2011.
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3. Gstaad 2nd Rd. - Samantha Stosur def. Patty Schnyder
...6-4/6-1.
Sam was just dialed in for nostalgia is Gstaad. In her first meeting with teh 39-year old Schnyder since 2011, the Aussie improved to 3-2 in the head-to-head, and still hasn't loss to the Swiss et since 2007. Schnyder was trying to reach her first WTA QF since 2010.


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4. Bucharest Final - Anastasija Sevastova def. Petra Martic
...7-6(4)/6-2.
after not winning a title for seven years, Sevastova has now won one in two consecutive seasons, on grass (Mallorca '17) and red clay. Meanwhile, none of her six career WTA finals have come on hard courts, the surface on which she's reached the QF for two years running at the U.S. Open, the two best slam results of her career.


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5. Gstaad Final - Alize Cornet def. Mandy Minella
...6-4/7-6(6).
Had Minella won, at 32, she'd have become the oldest first-time WTA singles champion since, well, I'm not really sure. Some WTA records are notoriously difficult to figure out without hours and hours of research time, an abacus *and* a divining rod. From what I can tell, after going back into the mid-1990's, she'd have been the oldest since at least then. There have been precious few 30+ first-timers over the past two decades, with the only others I've been able to find being Nicole Pratt (2004 Hyderabad, age 30), Alberta Brianti (2011 Fes, age 31), Peng Shuai (2016 Tianjin, age 30) and Tatjana Maria (2018 Mallorca, age 30). Marie Pinterova won a title in Tokyo in 1981 at age 35, which *may* have been a maiden title, except for the "minor" detail that some resources (but not all) list her with a previous title in Florida in 1972, as well. Add to this the fact that not that long ago the WTA's records didn't list her with *any* titles, and she only recently showed up in official lists as having been one of the oldest tour WS champs with that win in Tokyo. So...

Oh, well. Minella didn't win, anyway. Thus, at least for now... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


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6. Bucharest 1st Rd. - Ons Jabeur def. Irina-Camelia Begu
...6-2/6-1.
Jabeur carries over her grass court success (a $100K Manchester titles and $100K Ilkley QF that got her WC into SW19, where she got a MD win). Her QF result in Bucharest (after a 2nd Rd. win over Zvonareva) combines with her $100K challenger QF of a week ago to make good strides in putting her frustrating Wimbledon 2nd Round exit -- when she served a 5-3 in the 3rd set vs. Siniakova, holding a MP before losing 9-7 -- behind her.


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7. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Johanna Larsson def. Leonie Kung
...6-4/6-1.
The Swiss junior who reached the Wimbledon singles final as a qualifier makes her tour-level debut (as a WC).



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8. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Evgeniya Rodina def. Carina Witthoeft
...6-7(3)/6-4/7-6(11).
Off her Wimbledon Round of 16 finish, the Russian saves three MP vs. the German.
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9. $15K Don Benito ESP Final - Maria Jose Luque Moreno def. Olga Helmi
...7-5/6-0.
The 22-year old Spaniard downs the 18-year old, the latest Dane putting up a career-best result in her first pro final.
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10. $25K Gatineau CAN Final - Astra Sharma def. Victoria Rodriguez
...3-6/6-3/6-4.
The Aussie-born former Vanderbilt Commodore ("Roo") was at it again this weekend.


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????you have my heart?? ??Monika Majer/RvS.Media

A post shared by Markéta Vondroušová (@marketavondrousova) on



11. Gstaad SF - Mandy Minella def. Marketa Vondrousova
...4-6/6-2/6-2.
Czech Maiden Vondrousova should lobby to play *all* her matches in Switzerland. The 19-year old famously broke through with a title in the inaugural (and only, as it turned out) tour event in Biel last year. When that tournament moved to Lugano, and switched from indoor HC to clay, she fell in the 2nd Round to Elise Mertens (in a 7-5 3rd, so it was hardly a washout). She returned to her new Swiss "homeland" this week and reeled off wins over Lara Arruabarrena and Evgeniya Rodina to reach her first WTA semi since her title run in Biel.
===============================================
12. $15K Brussels BEL SF - Julyette Maria Josephine Steur def. Eliessa Vanlangendonck
...6-7(6)/6-4/6-1.
The 21-year old Waffle was in Belgium this week, unfortunately going out at semifinal stage for the second time in 2018, once more falling one win short of her maiden pro final (0-7 in career WS semis). Hang in there, Eliessa!


===============================================


It was a good tennis week on "Jeopardy!"



Elsewhere, though...


Yet...



1. Bucharest 1st Rd. - ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA def. Ana Bogdan
...4-6/7-6(4)/7-5.
In a match punctuated by chants of "Ana!" (not "Anna!"), AKS plays past midnight to get the win in 3:20. This one is tied for the third-longest match of '18, just one minute longer than another 3:19 Schmiedlova match vs. Begu in the RG 1st Round.
===============================================
2. Bucharest 2nd Rd. - Laura Siegemund def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
...6-4/3-6/6-2.
AKS was up an early break in the 3rd before a weather delay took both players off court and changed the momentum of the match.
===============================================
3. $80K Olomouc CZE Final - Petra Krejsova/Jesika Maleckova def. Lucie Hradecka/MICHAELLA KRAJICEK
...6-2/6-1.
The Dutch Artist can still play a little tennis, too.


===============================================










Sort of the Romanian version of the old "Bo Knows..." Nike ads. Sort of.


Thanks @stejariicountryclub for a great morning! #home #bestplace ????

A post shared by Simona Halep (@simonahalep) on





U.N.R.E.A.L. ???? @brunomars #24K

A post shared by Elina Svitolina???? (@elisvitolina) on













D O P E #TGIF got my outfits for the weekend! @sportsillustrated #Fashionable50

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Pozi ??

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*2018 #1 SEED WINS TITLE*
Shenzhen - Simona Halep, ROU
Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Monterrey - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
Rabat - Elise Mertens, BEL
Roland Garros - Simona Halep, ROU
Nottingham - Ash Barty, AUS
Eastbourne - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
BUCHAREST - ANASTASIJA SEVASTOVA, LAT
GSTAAD - ALIZE CORNET, FRA

*2018 WTA REPEAT CHAMPIONS*
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL
Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Acapulco - Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
Stuttgart - Raquel Atawo, USA (d)
Prague: Kveta Peschke, CZE (d)
Rome: Elina Svitolina, UKR
Birmingham - Petra Kvitova, CZE
BUCHAREST - IRINA-CAMELIA BEGU, ROU (d)

*2018 LOW-RANKED SINGLES FINALISTS*
#226 MANDY MINELLA, LUX (GSTAAD - L Cornet)
#183 Stefanie Voegele, SUI (Acapulco - L Errani)
#181 Serena Williams, USA (Wimbledon - L Kerber)
#132 A.K. Schmiedlova, SVK (Bogota - W Arrubarrena)
#122 Pauline Parmentier, FRA (Istanbul - W Hercog)
#105 Alison Riske, USA (Nurnberg - L Larsson)

*2018 WTA FIRST-TIME SINGLES FINALISTS*
Hobart - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (#57, 29)
Taipei City - Kateryna Kozlova, UKR (#85, 23)
Acapulco - Stefanie Voegele, SUI (#183, 27)
Mallorca- Tatjana Maria, GER (#79, 30) [W]
GSTAAD - MANDY MINELLA, LUX (#226, 32)

*OLDEST 2018 WTA SINGLES FINALISTS*
36 - Serena Williams, USA (Wimbledon-L)
32 - MANDY MINELLA, LUX (GSTAAD-L)
32 - Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (Rosmalen-L)
32 - Pauline Parmentier, FRA (Istanbul-W)

*2018 LOW-RANKED WTA SF*
#246 Sabine Lisicki/GER (Taipei City)
#226 MANDY MINELLA/LUX (GSTAAD)-RU
#186 Victoria Azarenka/BLR (Miami)
#183 Stefanie Voegele/SUI (Acapulco)-RU
#181 Serena Williams/USA (Wimbledon)-RU
#152 Wang Yafan/CHN (Taipei City)
#146 GENIE BOUCHARD/CAN (GSTAAD)

*2018 FIRST-TIME WTA WD CHAMPIONS*
Anna Blinkova, RUS
Naomi Broady, GBR
Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU
Georgina Garcia Perez, ESP
ALEXA GUARACHI, CHI
Simona Halep, ROU
Irina Khromacheva, RUS
DESIRAE KRAWCZYK, USA
Bibiane Schoofs, NED
Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
Fanny Stollar, HUN
[Mixed]
Latisha Chan, TPE
Nicole Melichar, USA

*2018 LONG MATCHES*
3:44 - Australian Open 3rd - Halep d. Davis
3:36 - Strasbourg Final - Pavlyuchenkova d. Cibulkova
3:20 - FC Americas I PP - Cepede Royg d. Haddad
3:20 - Bucharest 1st - AK.Schmiedlova d. Bogdan



Remember this...


And this too...








MOSCOW, RUSSIA (Int'l/Red Clay Outdoor)
=WS/WD FINALS=
-new event-
=======================================
'18 TOP SEEDS
WS: #1 Goerges, #2 Kasatkina
WD: #1 Kudermetova/Marozava, #2 Adamczak/J.Moore

*SINGLES FINAL PICK*
#2 Kasatkina d. #1 Goerges
*DOUBLES FINAL PICK*
Kalinskaya/Kuzmova def. Bara/Kalashnikova



NANCHANG, CHINA (Int'l/Hard Outdoor)
=WS FINALS=
2014 Peng Shuai d. Liu Fangzhou (WTA 125)
2015 Jelena Jankovic d. Chang Kai-chen (WTA 125)
2016 Duan Yingying d. Vania King
2017 Peng Shuai d. Nao Hibino
=WD FINALS=
2014 Chuang Chia-Jung/Namigata d. Chan Chin-wei/Xu Yifan (WTA 125)
2015 Chang Kai-chen/Zheng Saisai d. Chan Chin-wei/Wang Yafan (WTA 125)
2016 Liang Chen/Lu Jinjing d. Aoyama/Ninomiya
2017 Jiang Xinyu/Tang Qianhui d. Kudryavtseva/Ar.Rodionova
=======================================
'18 TOP SEEDS
WS: #1 Zhang Shuai, #2 Wang Qiang
WD: #1 Hozumi/Savinyk, #2 Duan Yingying/Han Xinyu



Meanwhile, IT.IS.COMING...

Come fly with me?????? #G6 #views #summerinthecity #nyc #centralpark @sdaviators

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And by "IT" I mean the U.S. Open... but, I guess, World Team Tennis, too. ;)


All for now.

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