Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wk.47- Carlsbad, Carlisnotbad... Carlsbad, Carlisnotbad...

Once more, with feeling.

S: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL def. Nicole Gibbs/USA 6-3/7-6(4)
D: Veronica Cepede Royg/Gabriela Ce (PAR/BRA) d. Oksana Kalashnikova/Tatjana Maria (GEO/GER) 6-1/4-6 [10-8]

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL
...the former world #12 and slam semifinalist has put together her best season since 2012 (when she finished #23), and she ended her Top 50 year (#49) with a title run at the WTA $125K Series event in Carlsbad. In Tokyo in September, Wickmayer won her first tour-level singles crown in over five and a half years. The 26-year old Belgian strung together wins last week over Julia Boserup, Kristie Ahn, CiCi Bellis and Maria Sakkari before taking out Nicole Gibbs in straight sets in the final. Wickmayer didn't lose a set all week.
RISERS: Nicole Gibbs/USA & Daniela Seguel/CHI
...Gibbs didn't let her disappointment over just missing out on the Australian Open wild card get her down. Instead, she rebounded with a run to the biggest final of her career at the 125 Series event in Carlsbad, knocking off Alla Kudryavtseva (via default... more on that later), Veronica Cepede Royg, #2-seeded Tatjana Maria and Jennifer Brady before losing to top-seeded Yanina Wickmayer. Of course, if she'd won the title the #122-ranked Bannerette would have lifted her ranking into the Top 100 to assure herself a spot in the AO main draw anyway. But, well... Nicole seems to be getting into the habit of coming up just short. As it is, she'll be at around #109. At least she gave us another example of some of the things NOT to ask her if you happen to cross paths, though.

Santiago-born Chilean Seguel, 23, took the lead for 2015 ITF singles titles with her victory in the $10K Santiago final when Argentina's Catalina Pella retired in the final. As a duo, the pair lost in the doubles final to Montserat Gonzalez and Ana-Sofia Sanchez.

SURPRISES: Prerna Bhambri/IND & Marina Melnikova/RUS
...Bhambri, 23, is currently the third-highest ranked Indian woman in singles, but her third ITF title of the season (all since late October) gives her more than anyone from her nation in 2015. She won her second consecutive $10K challenger in Gulbarga, India with a victory in the final over countrywoman Natasha Palha.
At the 125 Series event in Carlsbad, 26-year old Hordette Melnikova continued to have late-blooming success during her '15 campaign. The Russian has spread out her good results not only all over the calendar this year, but also across the globe. She put up a MD win in Stuttgart as a lucky loser in April, reached a career-best singles ranking of #170 in May, appeared in qualifying at all four slams in 2015 (she'd only been in the '14 U.S. Open Q-rounds prior to '15), won a $50K doubles title in Turkey with Spanish vet Laura Pous Tio in July, reached the final at a pair of additional $50K events this fall in Mexico and then again at the Taipei 125 Series event last weekend to lift her doubles ranking to a career-best #132. Melnikova was back in North America last week, where she reached the singles QF in Carlsbad with upset victories over Sharon Fichman and #3-seed Bojana Jovanovski.
VETERAN: Tatjana Maria/GER
...the 28-year German continued her '15 comeback surge this past week. Maria's season results have included a pair of $100K finals (winning one), as well as a title at a $50K challenger in Toronto in October. This week in Carlsbad she added a doubles RU (she reached the WTA-level final in Bastad in July) and a QF result in singles. At #71 in singles, 2016 will be the first season she'll begin with a Top 100 ranking since 2010.
COMEBACK: Alisa Kleybanova/RUS
...ah, here she is again. The Hordette's second comeback is (so far) going rather swimmingly. After returning to action for the first time since the '14 Wimbledon last week with a title turn at a $10K challenger in Antalya, Kudryavtseva is currently still at it in another $10K in Turkey. After rain interrupted play at the end of the week, she finished off her QF match and won a SF to reach the final after having entered the draw as a qualifier. With her winning streak at twelve matches, the Russian will play for her second straight title on Monday against Hungary's Anna Bondar.
FRESH FACES: Maria Sakkari/GRE, Jennifer Brady/USA & CiCi Bellis/USA Carlsbad, a slew of young players put up nice results. World #182 Sakkari, 20, reached the semifinals with victories over Amra Sadikovic and Samantha Crawford. The Greek woman has won three ITF titles this season, and made it through qualifying at the U.S. Open to make her slam MD debut in the summer. College star (UCLA) Brady, 20, also reached the semis with wins over Danielle Lao, Elitsa Kostova and Marina Melnikova. Brady won a $25K challenger title in October. 16-year old Bellis reached the QF after posting nice victories over Julia Glushko and Katerina Stewart. Her week in Carlsbad was Bellis' first action since losing in the final round of U.S. Open qualifying to Jelena Ostapenko.

DOWN: Alla Kudryavtseva/RUS
...Kudryavtseva's season ended on a sour note, to say the least, as the Russian was defaulted from her 2nd Round singles matches against Nicole Gibbs in Carlsbad, precipitating her removal from the doubles draw (where she'd been partnered with Vania King), as well. Kudryavtseva took to social media to issue an apology for her on-court behavior.

According to an eyewitness report of the incident at

"They moved the match to the stadium court (court 1) due to darkness because it is equipped with lights. Right before they moved, Alla took a medical timeout and was complaining about lots of stuff. As soon as they moved to the stadium court, she started complaining about one corner of court on her side being dark and that she couldn't see the ball while serving. As she gets more frustrated, she hit all her shots so hard where many landed far out. After she missed an easy put away, she hit a ball out of the court and got a code violation. During the change over after she lost 3 games in a row, she threw the racquet on the ground so hard and it jumped into the audience and almost hit the guy in front of me. After that, WTA supervisor came on court to calm her down but her emotion was just out of control. Then she stormed out of the court and the chair umpire announced that Nicole won the match.

Bonus: When I was walking towards my car, I saw her crying on the side of the parking lot." - from JeffreyGOLU

...clearly, the Force is with Fett. The 19-year old Croat grabbed the biggest title of her career (two $15K crowns were the previous best) at the $75K challenger in Toyota, Japan with a three-set win in the final over Luksika Kumkhum. She put up impressive wins over #2 seed Patricia-Maria Tig, #6 Misa Eguchi and #7 Naomi Osaka to reach the final. The win is the fifth of Fett's career, and her third title run of 2015. Having come in ranked at a career-best #215, she'll climb to a new career high of #151 on Monday.

JUNIOR STARS: Kayla Day/USA & Karman Thandi/IND
...Day, 16, won the biggest title of her junior career at the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup in Mexico. The #5 seed, lefty Day defeated #2 Usue Arconada in the semis and then #4 Bianca Andreescu in the final to run her record to 16-1 since the U.S. Open junior competition. Her recent stretch of good results also included a Grade B1 title at the Pan American Championships in Tulsa in Week 41 (for which she also won a share of Backspin's "Junior Star" honors). Earlier this season, Day was a member of the U.S. team that lost to the Czechs in the Fed Cup 16s final.

Meanwhile, Thandi, 17, picked up her second professional title with her second straight doubles win with fellow Indian teen Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal in a $10K challenger in Gulbarga, India. The pair defeated Nidhi Chilumula & Eetee Maheta in a 10-7 final set tie-break in the final.
DOUBLES: Veronica Cepede Royg & Gabriela Ce (PAR/BRA) another case of South American tennis showing signs of life, Cepede and Ce (who got into the main draw as alternates thanks to Kudryavtseva's default in singles, and Vania King's suddenly partner-less situation) grabbed the biggest title of both their careers with a three-match run at the 125 Series event in Carlsbad. The duo defeated #2-seeds Dabrowski/Fichman in a 10-8 tie-break 3rd set in the 1st Round, as well as #1-seeded Kalashniskova/Maria in a 10-8 3rd TB in the final. It's the 23-year old Venezualan and 22-year old Brazilian's first title together of any kind, as they'd never played together before this event.

Of note, 25-year old Georgian Oksana Kalashnikova, the RU in Carlsbad with Tatjana Maria, was also the RU (w/ Gasparyan) at another 125 Series event in Limoges earlier this year, and won a tour-level title in Bucharest with Demi Schuurs.

An Instagram that, I suspect, only Sharapova could post. At least, unlike a certain Canadian pop star who visited the Anne Frank House a while back, Maria didn't give an opinion about whether little Anne would have thought Sugarpova was yummy. Smart move.

Maria does Denmark.

Where is the guard when you need them #denmark #travel

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

1. Carlsbad 1st Rd. - Gibbs d. Kudryavtseva
...6-2/3-2 default.
Nicole expressed no lingering issues with Alla's default-precipitating antics.

By the weekend, all was forgotten.

2. Carlsbad QF - Sakkari d. Crawford
Crawford's loss prevented a possible face-off in the final with Gibbs, the player Crawford "stole" the USTA AO wild card berth from with a title run in the final playoff event.
3. Carlsbad Final - Wickmayer d. Gibbs
The Waffle becomes the tenth woman to win both WTA and WTA 125 singles titles during her career, and the second (w/ JJ) to win at least one of each during the 2015 season alone.
4. Carlsbad 1st Rd. - Bellis d. Glushko
CiCi's first MD win at a pro event since a $50K challenger in Sacramento in July.
5. Carlsbad 1st Rd. - Sakkari d. Brett Berger
It didn't end well for the 16-year old local girl making her pro debut, but it's still a scrapbook-worthy moment (or whatever the digital equivalent is these days).

6. Carlsbad SF - Gibbs d. Brady
In an all-Pac 12 clash, two-time NCAA champ (and former Stanford Cardinal) Gibbs finishes off current UCLA Bruin Brady.

7. $10K Pereira Final - Laura Pigossi/BRA d. Victoria Bosio/ARG
The Brazilian wins the all-South American affair against the Argentine in an event that did NOT include her countrywoman Teliana Periera. Go figure. Pigossi swept the titles in the event, taking the doubles with Swarmette Jaqueline Cristian.

8. $10K Port El Kantaoui Final - Isabella Shinikova/BUL vs. Chiraz Bechri/TUN
this final won't be played until Monday, but the winner will be notable. 24-year old Bulgarian Shinikova, 5-1 in finals this season, will be looking to tie Daniela Seguel for the ITF lead (6) in 2015 titles. Tunisia's Bechri has put together a dream run in her home nation event. The #634-ranked 17-year old will be playing for her maiden professional singles title.

You never forget your previous (temporary) doubles partner of 2015.

The SUPER Dream Team?

Ummm, the Super DUPER Dream Team?

And... can you spot the USTA spy with (I'm sure) a hidden camera ready to get a shot of Genie smiling and not holding her head because she's perpetually dizzy?

Needless to say, the USTA didn't retweet that one. Or, then again, maybe they will... I mean, Bouchard isn't curled up in the corner, so I suspect they'd think that this image bolsters their case.

Meanwhile, Venus is looking a little bit different... and is already thinking about Rio.

Ok, excited already for The Rio 2016! #olympics

A photo posted by Venus Williams (@venuswilliams) on

1. Carlsbad 2nd Rd. - Crawford d. Naomi Broady
The USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff winner carries over her momentum, coming back from 0-4 down in the 3rd to defeat the Brit, who lost nine of her last ten points on serve. A week ago, Broady blew a 5-1 lead in another come-from-ahead defeat.
2. Carlsbad Q2 - Francoise Abanda d. King
The 18-year old Canadian makes it through the Q-rounds at her biggest event since she did it at the 2014 U.S. Open. Aside from not getting to play in the doubles, King still had a memorable week...

3. $10K Gulbarga Final - Prerna Bhambri d. Palha
Prerna is the cousin of current ATP #91 Yuki Bhambri, whose sisters Ankita and Sanaa played professionally. Her brother Prateek also played on the ATP tour.
HM- Toyota $75K Final - Omae/Peangtarn Plipuech d. Kumkhum/Tanaka
...3-6/6-0 [11-9].
23-year old Thai Plipuech, sister of 18-year old fellow player Plobrung, picks up her 23rd ITF doubles title. She's won five with five different partners in 2015.

Just wait until the USTA gets hold of this! They'll try to force her to give back her 2015 U.S. Open prize winnings!

Sharapova wasn't the only one in Denmark this week.

I'll give Luke Saville the benefit of the doubt and say he's most definitely NOT having trouble with the task at hand.

Presenting with @lukesaville18 #newks15

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Sometimes it's not just a metaphor.

Vote Gavrilova!

#25 Jelena Jankovic (Nanchang)
#35 Caroline Garcia (Limoges)
#71 Zheng Saisai (Dalian)
#82 Yaroslava Shvedova (Hua Hin)
#84 Timea Babos (Taipei)

**2015 WTA $125 SERIES FINALS**
NANCHANG: Jelena Jankovic/SRB d. Chang Kai-Chen/TPE
DALIAN: Zheng Saisai/CHN d. Julia Glushko/ISR
LIMOGES: Caroline Garcia/FRA d. Louisa Chirico/USA
HUA HIN: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ d. Naomi Osaka/JPN
TAIPEI: Timea Babos/HUN d. Misaki Doi/JPN
CARLSBAD: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL d. Nicole Gibbs/USA

Lara Arruabarrena, ESP
Timea Babos, HUN
Caroline Garcia, FRA
Jelena Jankovic, SRB (*-won both in 2015)
Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
Shahar Peer, ISR
Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
Elina Svitolina, UKR
YANINA WICKMAYER, BEL (*-won both in 2015)
Zhang Shuai, CHN

Dalian - Julia Glushko (#158, 25/ISR) (L)
Limoges - Louisa Chirico (#120, 19/USA) (L)
Hua Hin - Naomi Osaka (#203, 18/JPN) (L)
Carlsbad - NICOLE GIBBS (#122, 22/USA) (L)

#203 Naomi Osaka, JPN (Hua Hin) (L)
#191 Chang Kai-Chen, TPE (Nanchang) (L)
#158 Julia Glushko, ISR (Dalian) (L)
#122 NICOLE GIBBSs, USA (Carlsbad125) (L)
#120 Louisa Chirico, USA (Limoges) (L)
#253 Lu Jiajing/CHN (Nanchang 125)
#232 JENNIFER BRADY/USA (Carlsbad)
#203 Naomi Osaka/JPN (Hun Hin) (RU)
#191 Chang Kai-Chen/TPE (Nanchang) (RU)
#183 Han Xinyun/CHN (Nanchang)
#182 MARIA SAKKARI/GRE (Carlsbad)
#158 Julia Glushko/ISR (Dalian) (RU)
#139 Petra Martic/CRO (Dalian)
#122 NICOLE GIBBS/USA (Carlsbad)

**2015 ITF TITLES*
5...Fatma Al-Nabhani, OMA
5...Daria Kasatkina, RUS
5...Deniz Khazaniuk, ISR
5...Anne Schaefer, GER
5...Isabella Shinikova, BUL *
5...Valeriya Strakhova, UKR
5...Tamara Zidansek, SLO
* - Shinikova in Port El Kantaoui final on Monday
NOTE: Anna Bondar/HUN (4) in Antalaya final on Monday

Announcing an Olympic-friendly all-Pastry doubles pairing for 2016 will likely be the first step in another doubles teams shake-up for next season. Timea Babos and Katarina Srebotnik, '14 partners of Mladenovic and Garcia, respectively, made things rather tidy by just announcing that they would play TOGETHER in the new year.

Hey, it's always prudent to be ready. For what, I'm not sure. But, whatever it is, Sveta is ready for it. Most definitely.

Speaking of Russians, here's another Serena Williams U.S. Open 1st Round Victim Update...

Meanwhile, I think we know who's going to win this award (since she always does). Although, one has to wonder if the WTA was stacking the deck and trying to spread out Aga's total votes to give her LESS of a chance to win. I mean, she's got four of the ten nominations for "Shot of the Year." Silly, WTA... Radwanskian fans are as such that they might just find a way to have their favorite Pole win BOTH groups of nominations!

And, finally, when in doubt, hug a tree beach umbrella...

Do we look good together? #boyfriend

A photo posted by Karolina Pliskova (@karolinapliskova) on

This is the last regularly-scheduled weekly Backspin update of 2015. But the Backspin Awards continue this week, with the '16 season preview -- with the "Grand Slam Master List" and "Prediction Blowout" -- awaiting in December.

All for now.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 BSA's: Upsets of the Year

At the end of a long season, some matches are more memorable than others. For those who won, as well as those who lost. Ahh, to win is wonderful, but to upset is divine.

"Today is my day. Sorry, guys." - Roberta Vinci


1. U.S. Open SF - Roberta Vinci d. Serena Williams
Is a loss to a fighting world #43-ranked player who climbed as high as #11 two years ago and has been doubles #1 REALLY a "greatest upset ever in sports" contender, as some who couldn't name more than four current Top 20 players would have you believe? Umm, no... at least I don't think so. But under the circumstances, it was HUGE as, with an eye on an all-Italian final following countrywoman Flavia Pennetta's win in the first semifinal, Vinci wielded her racket as if it was a magic wand. With an array of drop shots, slices and angles the Italian vet kept Williams off-balance while ALSO keeping her nerve in the clutch after Williams took a break lead early in the 3rd set, only to never be able to right her error-prone game as she had while running off thirty-three straight slam wins and getting within one victory of playing in the final with a chance at a Grand Slam. Vinci had never taken a set off Williams in four previous meetings (one a few weeks earlier in Toronto), and this was just the fifth loss by Serena in twenty-nine career slam semifinals. Solidifying the moment as an all-time memory, Vinci then followed up by stealing the show with a crazy-honest post-match interview that brought to mind the very best of Li Na... with an Italian accent.

"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me. If you have any other questions, I'm open for that." - Serena Williams, in her post-SF press conference

2. Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Jelena Jankovic d. Petra Kvitova
Good Petra, Bad Petra... Good Petra, Bad Petra. Let's call the whole thing off. And that's what happened, too, as far as Kvitova's defense of her Wimbledon title was concerned. The Czech led JJ 6-3/4-2, winning thirteen straight points in one stretch and still having not been broken in the tournament. But once Jankovic got a break to get back on serve at 4-4, the slide began, then a second break to win the 2nd set sent Kvitova "down the other side." A nearly ten-minute off-court break between sets didn't turn the match in her favor, as errors and a curious case of brain lock (stopping play to challenge a line call when she up was up 30/15 on JJ's serve at 4-4, and in complete control of the point -- the ball was in, and instead of having two BP for a shot to serve FOR the match Kvitova was soon serving to stay IN it) proved to be Petra's final undoing against the resurgent Serb.
3. Miami 2nd Rd. - Daria Gavrilova d. Maria Sharapova
Already 0-5 in Miami finals, Sharapova didn't come close to such a result this time around. Instead, the world #2 was expertly ousted by a #97-ranked wild card in former girls #1 and U.S. Open junior champ Gavrilova, 21, who notched her first career Top 10 win. The Russo-Aussie, Moscow-born but the latest full-fledged Hordette to transfer Down Under, outshined her idol (at 12, she watched then-countrywoman Sharapova play at Wimbledon) at nearly every turn just two weeks after having forced eventual Indian Wells champ Simona Halep to go three sets in their 2nd Round encounter.

"I'm just so excited, I'm so happy, I can't explain it. I always believed and that's probably why I won." - Daria Gavrilova

4. WTA Finals SF - Aga Radwanska d. Simona Halep
After failing to put away set point in the 1st against #1-seeded Halep in her final RR match, Radwanska was staring down the barrel of her second 0-3 Finals week in three years (at the moment, she'd gone 1-9 in her last ten matches at the event dating back to 2012) when she trailed 5-1 in the 1st set TB, knowing that dropping even one set would eliminate her from semifinal contention. But when the Little Pole That Could charged back with six straight points she changed the direction of the event, as well as quite possibly both Halep's career (for good or bad... we'll maybe begin to see in '16), as well as her own (ditto). Her straight sets win, coupled with Maria Sharapova's sweep of Flavia Pennetta later in the day, pushed A-Rad into her third year-end tournament semis. What happened on the weekend was Radwanskian history.
5. Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Jana Cepelova d. Simona Halep
A healthy Cepelova (unfortunately, a rare sight) is a dangerous Cepelova, and the world #106 was just that against the #2-seeded Halep. The Romanian won the 1st set and seemed on her way to victory before dropping her last two service games in the 2nd. Halep nearly got back on serve late in the 3rd, getting to 40/love on the Slovak's serve as she tried to finish things off at 5-3. But Cepelova swept the final five points of the match to record her second career Top 5 win (w/ that win over Serena in Charleston last year).
6. Australian Open 3rd Rd. - Madison Keys d. Petra Kvitova
The 19-year Bannerette arrives on the slam stage as she out-hits the #4-seeded Wimbledon champ, breaking her five times and serving out both sets in a calm, cool, collected and routine fashion. She'd go on to become the latest North American teen -- after Sloane Stephens and Genie Bouchard -- to have a breakthrough slam semifinal result in Melbourne.

7. Madrid 1st Rd. - Alize Cornet d. Simona Halep 7-6(6)/6-3
Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Simona Halep 7-5/6-1

Halep came into the clay season off a very good, though not perfect, 1Q. On the surface that is generally considered her best, and where she put up great results the last two springs, the Swarmette Queen went a combined (and mediocre) 6-4 in '15, with these two early round straight sets losses the giant elephants wearing polka dot socks in the middle of her 2Q results. The first match was Cornet's fourth Top 2 victory since last February, but Halep was the runner-up in Paris just last year. After losing the #2 ranking (and #2 seed) before heading to Roland Garros, Halep was bounced by Lucic, the same player who knocked her out of last year's U.S. Open. Falling behind 5-0 in the 2nd set, Halep was out-hit 29-5 in winners for the match. This was her her worst slam result in nearly two years... until she lost in the 1st Round a Wimbledon a month later.
8. Australian Open 1st Rd. - Madison Brengle d. Andrea Petkovic
The #13-seeded German had thirty-one career slam match wins vs. Brengle's one, but that didn't prevent Brengle from following up her "Summer of Brengle" in North America with a "Summer of Brengle: Down Under Edition" run in Melbourne by overcoming Petkovic, who served at 7-6/5-3, and then going on to reach her first career slam 4th Round.

9. Stuttgart 2nd Rd. - Madison Brengle d. Petra Kvitova
BrengleFly's hard-earned upward mobility continued, as she skipped over one milestone in favor of an even greater one. The Bannerette had never defeated a Top 10 player in her career, but that didn't stop her from taking out Top 5er Kvitova in the wake of the Czech's undefeated Fed Cup weekend.

10. Fed Cup World Group Playoff - Italy d. United States 3-2
Match #5 - Sara Errani/Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Serena Williams/Alison Riske (USA) 6-0/6-3
on her first weekend of play on red clay this season, the poor roster makeup of the U.S. team and absence of sister Venus proved to simply be too much for even Serena to overcome. Of course, a resurgent Italian team still smarting from a February FC collapse had something to do with it, as well. After being forced to a tie-break in a straight sets win on Saturday, then having to battle for three sets to defeat Errani (the Italian took just the second ever set lost by Serena in FC competition and even served for a straight sets win) earlier in the day, Williams was forced into action yet again for Mary Joe Fernandez's why-would-we-ever-need-a-doubles-player? squad and simply wasn't able to bring anything to the table. Serena hadn't played FC doubles in a dozen years. Playing with Riske for the first time (they hadn't even met until earlier in the week) in the deciding doubles match, the Americans fell behind 5-0 in just seventeen minutes as the Italian duo thrilled the crowd -- Pennetta was playing in her hometown -- and proved that the fabled veteran squad had at least one more heroic weekend left for which history would be able to judge them. Williams was broken at love twice in the 2nd set, as she suffered her first loss in seventeen career Fed Cup matches.
11. Australian Open 1st Rd. - Lucie Hradecka d. Ana Ivanovic
After her most consistent year, and coming off a nice run to the Brisbane final, AnaIvo was a Top 5 seed in the same slam at which she upset Serena Williams in '14. In other words, she had expectations... so maybe getting knocked off by the qualifier Czech vet on Day 1 in Melbourne wasn't that big of an upset, after all. Her late-match meltdown is something we've seen before, too. The loss set the stage for a predictable "step back" season for the Serb.
12. Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Andreea Mitu d. Karolina Pliskova 2-6/7-6(5)/6-4
Roland Garros 3rd Rd. - Andreea Mitu d. Francesca Schiavone 7-5/6-3
a year ago, Mitu was ready to quit the sport, then she made it through Wimbledon qualifying and won four ITF titles late in the season. Fastforward to 2015, and the Romanian reached the Top 100, recorded her first tour main draw win, made her Fed Cup debut and notched her first Top 10 victory (def. Bouchard), then reached the Round of 16 in Paris after taking out Pliskova after the Czech led 6-2/4-3 with a break before ending the run of former RG champ Schiavone in straights after the Italian vet led 4-1 in the 1st and served at 5-3. As it turned out, despite being the lowest-ranked of the five Romanians in the RG draw, Mitu was the Last Swarmette Standing.

13. Istanbul 1st Rd. - Kateryna Bondarenko d. Venus Williams
One half of the Ukrainian Bondarenkos takes out one half of the Williams Sisters to grab her first Top 20 win since 2012. Venus won four consecutive games to serve for the 2nd set at 6-5, only to see Bondarenko close out the match by claiming eleven of the final fifteen points.

14. Europe/Africa I Zone - Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR d. Elina Svitolina/UKR 6-3/4-6/6-0
Europe/Africa I Zone - Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR d. Heather Watson 6-3/3-6/7-5
the Turkish Fed Cup team failed to pull a shocker and advance to the E/A I promotional playoff, but an upset round robin win over Great Britain was nearly the tipping point feat that did the deed. Still, Buyukakcay was a star, upsetting off #36 Svitolina and #38 Watson on back-to-back days for the two biggest wins of her career.
15. Hopman Cup RR - Genie Bouchard d. Serena Williams 6-2/6-1
Hopman Cup Final - Aga Radwanska d. Serena Williams 6-4/6-7(3)/6-1
sure, the wins in Perth's team exhibition competition didn't actually "count." Neither Bouchard nor Radwanska have ever defeated Williams in their combined ten official tour match-ups, as both have taken just one set each off the world #1. Aga even got a second win over Serena, teaming with Jerzy Janowicz to defeat Williams and John Isner to in the doubles to take Poland's first Hopman Cup title. Bouchard's '15 season never really hit such a "high" again.
16. Stuttgart 1st Rd. - Petra Martic/Stephanie Vogt d. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza
Martic & Vogt, playing in their first match as a duo, become charter members of the We Beat the Dream Team Club, ending the initial undefeated run of Hingis/Mirza after fourteen straight wins. Of course, it likely helped that Hingis wasn't exactly 100% after a weekend of Fed Cup singles action, and both she and Mirza had to fly into Germany (Sania all the way from Hyderabad) after both had participated in FC action just a few days earlier. Petra and Stephanie will leave that part out when they recount the feat later.
17. Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Sloane Stephens d. Venus Williams
Sloane gets her second career slam win over a Williams, joining Ekaterina Makarova as the only players to defeat both Serena and Venus in a major who have never themselves been ranked #1. Stephens came within three points of an additional RG win over Serena in the Round of 16.
18. Australian Open 1st Rd. - Julia Goerges d. Belinda Bencic
After reaching the quarterfinals in her last slam appearance at the U.S. Open, 17-year old Bencic, the #32 seed, wasn't just the "First Seed Out" in Melbourne on Day 1, she was the first player in the entire tournament to go down in defeat in the 1st Round.
19. Australian Open Doubles 3rd Rd. - Goerges/Groenefeld d. Errani/Vinci
The Germans end the #1-ranked, two-time defending AO doubles champions' dreams for a three-peat. No women's doubles team has won three consecutive titles at a slam since Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suarez won the U.S. Open from 2002-04. As it turned out, this loss was the "canary in the coal mine" for the future of the Italian pair. About a month -- and an horrific Fed Cup loss -- later their Career Grand Slam winning partnership was suddenly kaput. They won a total of five slam crowns during a stretch of just over two years.
20. Eastbourne 2nd Rd. - Johanna Konta d. Ekaterina Makarova 6-2/6-4
Eastbourne 3rd Rd. - Johanna Konta d. Garbine Muguruza 6-4/4-6/6-3
the Brit notched her first career Top 10 win over the Russian in a result that foreshadowed the then-Top 10er's disappointing Wimbledon (2nd Rd.) and injury-plagued close to the '15 season, then followed up with a win over then-Top 20 player Muguruza in a result which hardly told us anything about what would happen at Wimbledon. The Spaniard would reach her first career slam final in London, climbing into the Top 10 for the first time at #9 (knocking Makarova out of the Top 10.)

21. Wimbledon 2nd Rd. - Bethanie Mattek-Sands d. Ana Ivanovic
The American qualifier, a former Round of 16er (2008) staging a successful comeback from '14 hip surgery, took it to AnaIvo. "Old school" style. In a performance filled with net rushes and continual movement, BMS converted 28/39 net points, including 19 volley winners (she led the #7-seeded Serb 32-15 in overall W's).
22. U.S. Open Q2 - Claire Liu d. Jana Cepelova
The 15-year old wild card makes an early name for herself, taking out the Slovak who has defeated the likes of Serena Williams AND Simona Halep during the last two seasons. Liu's play belied her lack of experience (she was the first player born in the 2000's to be ranked by the WTA), as she survived blowing a 5-1 1st set lead to win a tie-break, then overcame a 4-2 deficit in the 2nd to win in straight sets.
23. U.S. Open 1st Rd. - Anna Tatishvili d. Karolina Pliskova
The #8-seeded Czech's shaky status as the new U.S. Open Series champ was quickly (in :52, to be exact) taken to the ground in Flushing Meadows by the qualifier. Tatishvili made Pliskova one of the first high seeds to be run out of town on an oft-used (as it turned out) rusty rail by breaking Pliskova's big serve five times, leading 6-1/5-0 before things were made to look "better" in final scoreline. To add insult to ignominy (Pliskova's 1st Round exit is the earliest ever by a women's Series winner, and matches only Andy Roddick's opening round defeat as the men's '05 champ), Tatishvili ended things against the tour's ace leader with a 2nd serve ace up the "T" of her own on match point to officially bring down the curtain.
24. Roland Garros 4th Rd. - Timea Bacsinszky d. Petra Kvitova 2-6/6-0/6-3
Roland Garros 4th Rd. - Lucie Safarova d. Maria Sharapova 7-6(3)/6-4
not "tremendous" upsets, considering many factors. The Swiss reached the semifinals, while Safarova would go on to play in her first slam singles final. Also, Bacsinszky had already beaten Kvitova earlier in the season, and Bad Petra was most definitely present after the Czech won the opening set. Safarova had battled defending champ Sharapova (23-2 at RG since '12) in close losses in recent match-ups, as well. But Sharapova was the #2 seed and Kvitova #4 -- and they BOTH went out on Day 9 in Paris, the same day that #1 Serena Williams was close to being upset by Sloane Stephens, too. Shocking, huh, that Williams survived the carnage and went on to win the title? Yeah, right.
25. Indian Wells 3rd Rd. - Jelena Jankovic d. Madison Keys
JJ can still boast a far-more-noteworthy career than the 20-year old Keys. But this win, which fueled her surprise run to the I.W. final, was the Serb's first over a Top 20 player since knocking off Sloane Stephens the previous August in Montreal.
26. Australian Open Q1 - Wang Yafan d. Luksika Kumkhum
In 2014, Kumkhum upset Petra Kvitova in the 1st Round of the Australian Open. A year later, she, as the #7 seed, was the one getting upset in the opening round of qualifying in Melbourne.
27. Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Annika Beck d. Aga Radwanska
Aga's pre-summer troubles continued. The last time she met the German in Indian Wells last year, A-Rad won 6-0/6-0. This loss was the Pole's worst slam result since the '09 Australian, and only her third career 1st Round exit at a major.

28. Rising Stars Final - Naomi Osaka d. Caroline Garcia
This might not be considered an "upset" by this time next year, but at the time of Singapore's four-player Rising Stars exhibition Garcia was by far the most well known and highest ranked player in the mix. After going undefeated in round robin play (including a three abbreviated-set win over Osaka) and leading her #202-ranked opponent in the final by a set and 3-0, holding four MP, Garcia fell to the Japanese teen. This might turn to be a true "I knew her when" moment for the Serena-idolizing Osaka. Stay tuned.
29. Fed Cup World Group II Playoffs - Sara Sorribes Tormo/ESP d. Paula Ormaechea/ARG
Ormaechea has been Argentina's best FC player the last few years, but the Spanish teenager made her debut for Team Espana a memorable one, setting the tone for a disappointing performance for the host nation. Sorribes dropped the 1st set, then staged a successful comeback despite twice being down a break in the 2nd. After having nearly pushed the Williams-stacked U.S. squad to the doubles in February, Argentina went on be shut out by the Spanish "B"-team, with Ormaechea dropping a second match against Lara Arruabarrena, who was also playing in her first career FC tie.
30. Wimbledon Q1 - Katie Swan d. Kristina Kucova
The 16-year old British junior, ranked #866 on the WTA computer, takes out a player ranked 748 spots above her.
HM- Indian Wells 3rd Rd. - Belinda Bencic d. Caroline Wozniacki
This didn't turn out to be much of an "upset" by the end of 2015, but its worth a mention. This was the New Swiss Miss' best career win and her first over a Top 5 player. Bencic would eventually pass Wozniacki in the rankings and put up a 4-0 record against the Dane.

[The Means to a New Swiss Miss End]

Toronto SF - Belinda Bencic d. Serena Williams
In a crazy match that played out like "The Three Faces of Serena," 18-year old Bencic becomes the youngest player to defeat Williams in a completed match since a 17-year old Sharapova in 2004. For the day, Serena's serve was as "off" as it's ever been (12 DF vs. her 16 aces) as she was broken seven times and had 59 UE. Still, Bencic's nerves -- and Williams "near-Serenativity" -- nearly got the best of her. She served up 5-3 in the 2nd, but double-faulted on SP and lost 10 of 11 points as Williams knotted things at 5-5. Bencic battled back from love/40 on serve two games later to hold, and then broke Serena to take things to the 3rd. The teenager took a two-break, 4-0 lead in the final set after saving six BP in two serve games (three each), then served for the match at 5-1 and 5-3, missing on a backhand pass up 30/15 in game #9 that would have given her MP. She double-faulted on BP and Williams closed to 5-4, seemingly putting her in position to steal a victory in a manner that she often does. But perhaps Bencic unwittingly heeded Rogers Cup HOF inductee Justine Henin's comments from the week about players not believing they can beat Serena as much as they should, for she bounced right back and broke Williams to take the match for her first career win over a world #1. It was Serena's first defeat in a three-set match in 2015, and her first since she dropped a three-setter to Venus in LAST year's Rogers Cup semifinals. Bencic went on to win her biggest career title to round out a week-long performance that came in at #1 on Backspin's "Performance of the Year" list for 2015.

Toronto Final - Belinda Bencic d. Simona Halep
...7-6(5)/6-7(4)/3-0 ret.
The "day after" curse didn't lay a hand on the New Swiss Miss' gumption. This one might have gone down as a true classic had it played out differently in the 3rd set, but it still will be remembered for the drama-filled first two sets. After starting with five straight breaks of serve, Halep eventually took a 4-3 lead but the long rallies common to both players' games likely played a part in the leg injury that led to the first of her multiple visits with the WTA trainer. Throw in Bencic's changeover meltdown with her father, then her comeback from 1-4 down in the tie-break to claim the 1:08 1st set and the stage was set. While both players were experiencing physical difficulties at the end of a long week, Halep's issues were far more obvious. The leg, combined with the heat and her flat-out exhaustion following her SF win over Sara Errani led to her plodding around the court between points in the 2nd, bending over due to pain or looking as if she was trying to keep the contents of her stomach right where they belonged. In the late going, Bencic failed to put the set away while Halep refused to stop fighting to keep it alive. She actually seemed to be working against her own desires, as after she'd win points she'd appear to sigh and be disappointed because it meant that the end continued to be anything but near. Bencic's growing frustration led to her tossing her racket, while Halep got a break for a 6-5 lead, then seemed to pick up her game a bit more while winning the tie-break to force a 3rd set. After taking the long walk to leave the court, Halep returned to give things a go, but after falling down 3-0 she finally decided to preserve herself to fight another day and retired, giving Bencic the first gigantic title of her promising career.

Australian Open WC Final - Jiske Griffioen d. Yui Kamiji
The Dutch 29-year old wins her first WC slam singles crown, taking out the world #1 who was seeking her third straight singles slam title to go along with five straight slam doubles titles.
U.S. Open WC Final - Jordanne Whiley d. Yui Kamiji
Against her doubles partner and best friend, Whiley defeats the two-time slam champ Kamiji in the literal shadow of a rocking Ashe Stadium as Novak Djokovic was taking down Roger Federer in the men's final. It's the Brit's first career slam singles title.


[The Fall of Bouchard... no pun intended]

1. Fed Cup World Group Playoff - Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU d. Genie Bouchard/CAN 6-4/6-4
Fed Cup World Group Playoff - Andreea Mitu/ROU d. Genie Bouchard/CAN 4-6/6-4/6-1
after at first deciding against it, Bouchard's late announcement that she would indeed join the Canadian team back home in Montreal was initially greeted with enthusiasm. Little did everyone know that it would simply be the first act of Genie's "lost weekend." Playing against a Romanian team without Simona Halep, Bouchard was expected to carry the team on her shoulders. Instead she caused it to bite the dust, losing on Day 1 to Alexandra Dulgheru in the injury-plagued Swarmette's first FC action since 2011. The last game, a hold by the Romanian, included three break points and four match points. But the final result was still the same, no matter the too-little-too-late fight that Bouchard put forth. Afterward, Dulgheru openly mocked Bouchard's refusal to shake hands with her opponents during the ceremony attended by both teams earlier in the week. Day 2 proved to be even worse for the (what-does-it-take-for-her-to-be-chagrined?) Canadian, as she was taken down by Irina-Camelia Begu's late replacement, Andreea Mitu, who clinched the tie in her FC debut.

"I don't want to comment on the gesture, it depends on the person's education. I would never do that but it's maybe just how she was raised and we have to accept this attitude. Alex played really well and I'm very happy she beat Bouchard. (The Celebration) was very well thought of and actually funny." - Simona Halep, on Genie Bouchard and Alexandra Dulgheru

2. Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Duan Yingying d. Genie Bouchard
The freefall of the 2014 Wimbledon finalist recorded its arguable "nadir" against the world #117 Duan, a qualifier whose rangy size has led her to be dubbed the "Lindsay Davenport of China." It was Bouchard's second straight 1st Round slam loss, as she dropped to 2-12 in her last fourteen matches.
3. Charleston 1st Rd. - Lauren Davis d. Genie Bouchard
In this case, Davis grabbed her first career Top 10 win as Bouchard suffered her third consecutive loss, all to players ranked #65+. Numbers four and five in a row would come a week later in the Fed Cup play vs. Romania.
4. Antwerp 2nd Rd. - Mona Barthel d. Genie Bouchard
No, not a tremendous upset, especially since the German has often been at her best at indoor events. But Bouchard was the #1 seed here and playing her first match with new coach Sam Sumyk, who she'd recently swiped from Vika Azarenka. A Princess and the Pea scenario would soon play out... as Sumyk was an ex-employee of Bouchard, as well, by the end of '15 while the Canadian was barely ranked in the Top 50, battling concussion symptoms and engaged in a lawsuit vs. the USTA because of a slip and fall in the U.S. Open locker room.
5. Indian Wells 4th Rd. - Lesia Tsurenko d. Genie Bouchard 6-7(5)/7-5/6-4
Miami 2nd Rd. - Tatjana Maria d. Genie Bouchard 6-0/7-6(4)
the first loss in I.W. turned multiple times. Bouchard led 3-0 and 4-1 in the opening set, breaking Tsurenko three straight times to begin the match, but was pushed to a tie-break. She served for the match at 5-4 in the 2nd, but an abdominal injury made serving difficult and Tsurenko pushed things to a 3rd set. Bouchard took a two-break lead there, but became less and less effective as Tsurenko, injured ankle and all, found a way to wait out the storm and prevail. That defeat begat the Canadian's Miami exit, as Bouchard was again hampered by injury while losing to the German qualifier, who notched her first Top 10 win since 2010. Bouchard's first four losses of the season, in order, came against players ranked #2, #42, #85 and #113. She'd ultimately lose five more times during the season to players ranked outside the Top 50.
HM- Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Kristina Mladenovic d. Genie Bouchard
For all her "regular season" problems, Bouchard could, for a while, at least stand by her consistent slam success. Well, that notion came to an end in Paris. The #6 seed suffered her worst loss in nine career slams appearances, dropping out of the Top 10 as a result (and that was BEFORE her Wimbledon '14 runner-up points came off), though Kiki's inability to close things out after leading 5-0 in the 2nd made things "interesting." A year ago, Mladenovic upset Li Na at Roland Garros.

[The Radwanskian Massacre: Junior Edition?]
Wimbledon Girls 1st Rd. - Anna Brogan d. #1 Marketa Vondrousova 6-1/6-2
Wimbledon Girls 1st Rd. - Maia Lumsden d. #3 Dalma Galfi 7-5/6-3
Wimbledon Girls 1st Rd. - Viktoria Kuzmova d. #4 Anna Kalinskaya 7-6(4)/6-4
on Day 7, evil lurked in the shadows of the All-England Club. At least for the juniors. Three of the top four seeds lost in a matter of hours, including both of the Roehampton finalists (Galfi and Vondrousova) and the Roland Garros girls RU (Kalinskaya). On the same day on the women's side, Aga Radwanska won a crazy good 4th Round match against Jelena Jankovic en route to the semifinals, setting the stage for a fall campaign that would lead to Aga winning three titles, including the WTA Finals and seemingly righting her career. Hmmm... wasn't the malevolent entity said to have originally gained Its power through the fear and upset of children? I'm just sayin'.

All for now.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Wk.46- Bare Bones and Babos

The number of matches that remain to be played in 2015 are dwindling, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to talk about at the regularly scheduled time.

Yes, the clues about the 2016 season are already being strategically placed along the path toward January. It'll be here before AnaIvo can change coaches, I'm sure. Well, maybe not. But it's still pretty close!

But the biggest news around Backspin HQ this was that the our old friend Carl dropped by for a visit. In between elking trips, our lumbering Backspinner-hating, malevolent entity-despising, squish-happy, sometimes-contributor agreed to answer a few burning questions regarding his far-too-long absence from these parts. So I'll drop in his answers as the Week 46 (yikes!) recap moves long.

Oh, and he'll be making picks for Week 47, too. For the 125 Series event in Carlsbad, of course. Err, I mean Carlisnotbad.

S: Timea Babos/HUN def. Misaki Doi/JPN 7-5/6-3
D: Kanae Hisami/Kotomi Takahata (JPN/JPN) def. Marina Melnikova/Elise Mertens (RUS/BEL) 6-2/6-2

...more than three years after her one and only WTA level singles title in Monterrey, the 22-year old Hungarian swept through the field at the WTA $125K Series event in Taipei. Babos took the title with wins over Elise Mertens, Stefanie Voegele, Kirsten Flipkens and #1-seeded Misaki Doi without dropping a set all week. She fired fifteen aces (w/ zero DF) in the final against Doi, and will now be able to share her Taiwan experiences with doubles partner and friend Kristina Mladenovic. The Pastry (as the #4, just like Babos) won the singles crown at this same 125 event in 2012, the first year of the tour-sponsored challenger series event. Babos is up to #70 in the rankings, putting her in good position to surpass her singles career high of #59 (in '12) sometime in 2016.

RISER: Misaki Doi/JPN was just a month ago that Doi became a maiden WTA singles champion in Luxembourg, and there she was this weekend in Taipei trying to double up and become a maiden WTA $125K Series winner, as well. The Japanese #1 (at #60, after having briefly fallen behind Nao Hibino after she'd beaten Doi into the WTA winner's circle) put up wins over Luksika Kumkhum and Evgeniya Rodina to reach the 125 Series final, but ultimately fell to Timea Babos in straight sets. It's enough to bump Doi up to #54, keeping her a step ahead of #66 Hibino (who moved up after reaching a $100K final this weekend).
SURPRISE: Gabriella Taylor/GBR
...the 17-year old Brit, ranked #954 last week, won her first career pro singles title at the $10K challenger in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Taylor defeated three seeds -- including #2 Francesca Stephenson and #1 Naomi Totka in a three-set final -- en route to her maiden crown.

My, it's rather nice in South Africa in November, isn't it?

VETERAN: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
...the 29-year old Waffle has slipped into the #90's this season after three consecutive seasons with year-end rankings in the Top 54. After a pair of 2015 semifinal results on tour in Istanbul and last month in Linz, as well as a runner-up at the $100K Vancouver challenger this summer, Flipkens added a SF at the 125 Series Taipei event this weekend. The Belgian put up wins over Zhang Kai-lin and Yaroslava Shvedova (the champion in Hua Hin last week).

Speaking of veterans...

COMEBACK: Evgeniya Rodina/RUS
...having already completed her first Top 100 season since 2011, Rodina added a WTA $125K Series semifinal to her '15 ledger last week. The #3 seed in the event, Rodina knocked off three unseeded Chinese opponents before losing to top-seeded Misaki Doi. The Russian's previous season best was a tour-level semifinal in Tashkent last month.

And, hopefully, another comeback can be discussed in 2016...

Initially, Hampton was finally set to make her return this week in Carlsbad, having used her protected ranking to get a wild card into qualifying. But it looks like the wait for her comeback will last a little bit longer, as she ultimately wasn't included in the qualifying draw.
FRESH FACES: Ivana Jorovic/SRB & Oceane Dodin/FRA
...18-year old Jorovic swept the singles and doubles titles (a career first) in the $25K challenger in Zawada, Poland. The Serb defeated Swarmette Mihaela Buzarnescu in the final to run her career record in ITF singles finals to 7-0. In the U.K., 19-year old Pastry Dodin defended the $25K Shrewsbury title she won a year ago with a 7-6(3)/7-5 win in the final over British teen Freya Christie. The fifth highest-ranked French woman in the WTA rankings, Dodin now has six career ITF singles crowns.

...just because. Really, though, how much further can the USTA sink than it already has by having lawyers try to use Instagram postings as "proof" of the lack of impairment of a professional athlete who suffered a concussion on USTA property? Yeah, I know... that question sort of answers itself, doesn't it?

I mean, does Instagram use erase the details surrounding the fall, or that lingering concussion symptoms prevented Genie Bouchard from playing tennis in a condition that was considered safe? Apparently, though, the USTA Grand Poobahs have some sort of special knowledge that confirms that having one's photo taken with The Rock (or even Duane Johnson, I'm assuming) and dressing up for a Halloween party is equivalent to playing tennis at a world class level. Hey, maybe the Poobahs are right. I mean, it would explain a lot about some of the USTA's practices... and why they seem to be decked out in clown outfits over there more times than not. I'd love to see the USTA's defense of Mary Joe Fernandez's continued Fed Cup Captaincy.

(In exalted Grand Poobah voice) "Well, it's because she knows the names of all the players, of course."

Hmmm, don't speak so soon. The same goes with the Bouchard lawsuit.
...injuries have sent Zhang down the rankings of late, as the 26-year old who was ranked as high as #30 in July of last year entered the week having dropped over 120 spots since the end of last season. With the '16 season just around the bend, the Chinese woman has began to turn things around before the flip of the calendar with her title run at the ITF season's final $100K challenger in Tokyo. Despite a sub-.500 season, Zhang saved her best for last, taking out Mayo Hibi, Wang Qiang (#4 seed), Kurumi Nara (#2) and Nao Hibino (#1) in the final to put away her sixteenth career circuit title, but her first since the 2013 season.


JUNIOR STAR: Amanda Anisimova/USA the Abierto event in Mexico City, 14-year old Bannerette Anisimova won out on the red clay to claim her first career Grade A title (in just her second GA appearance, after this summer's U.S. Open). The #3 seed, Anisimova knocked out Kayla Day early on in the 2nd Round, then finished things off by taking out current junior #6 Katie Swan, defeating the 16-year old Brit 7-5/3-6/6-3 in the final.

DOUBLES: Kanae Hisami & Kotomi Takahata (JPN/JPN) the WTA $125K Series event in Taipei, the all-Japanese pair won the biggest title of their career with a win in the final over the Russian/Waffle duo of Marina Melnikova & Elise Mertens. Hisami, 28, and Takahata, 26, have gone 2-4 in ITF finals this season. Both have been pretty successful on the lower circuit during their careers, with Hisami winning eight titles there, and Takahata cashing in nineteen times.

Oh, and then there's this little historical note...


Q: Where have you been, Carl?!
CARL: Why care!?!? Writing book about Carl? Leave out chapter! Carl no have time for stupid questions! Carl have to pick up Carlo and Carlita from school... and Carl have to buy diapers for baby Conrad... and Carl have to do list of chores Carla tape to front door or won't let Carl back in cave! And Carl had to work hard to get bigger cave for bigger family! Carl no have time for self, let alone stupid questions! Carl barely have time to go elking anymore. Ask again and Carl squish!

Q: Conrad?
CARL: Carla name for relative lost in moose stampede.

1. $125K Taipei Final - Babos d. Doi
Babos is now one of nine women who've won both WTA and 125 Series singles titles.
2. Mexico City Grade A Final - Evgeniya Levashova/Anna Blinkova d. Katie Swan/Sonya Kenin
So, Swan was a two-time loser in Mexico City this weekend. I sure hope she doesn't take it personally and decide to join the Cult of Trump or anything.
3. $125K Taipei 1st Rd. - Date-Krumm d. Tig
KDK lives!!!!!
4. $10K Gulbarga Final - Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal/Karman Thandi d. Prerna Bhambri/Kanika Vaidya
...1-6/6-3 [10-7].
17-year old Thandi, the junior Future Star winner at last year's WTA Finals extravaganza, wins her first professional title along with her fellow Indian teenager.
5. $10K Antalya Final - Ekaterine Gorgodze d. Elena Rybakina
16-year old Hordette Rybakina didn't win her first title, but she did reach the final in just her third career ITF event and defeated #1-seeded Dia Evtimova en route to the championship match. Rybakina defeated Claire Liu and Charlotte Robillard-Millette in this summer's U.S. Open girls competition. There have been a lot of young Russians winning and/or playing for junior slam titles the last couple of years. 2016 is coming up soon. I'm just sayin'.

Q: You always mention "elking," Carl. What IS it, anyway?
CARL: What "elking?" WHAT "ELKING?!" Carl world champion elker. You not. If never go elking never understand. Carl do drawing to show, but Carl know only confuse.

$100K Tokyo QF - Nara d. Varatchaya Wongteanchai
It was that sort of week for tennis sister results.

Q: Carl, is Carol as cool as she seems? And can I wear your dad's old police hat if I ask nicely?

I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that Caro posted a photo of herself and Anna Wintour. Not. :)

Not quite sure what we are looking at?? #lastnight #courtside #annawintour

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

I hope she's not injured or anything, because according to what we've learned from the USTA this means that she's faking and is actually perfectly healthy. You can't eat popcorn and be injured. Everybody knows that.

?? #nottalented

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Q: Carl, have you met Galileo West of ATP Backspin? Do you like him better than Todd?
CARL: Carl like Galileo. Might take elking one day. But Carl not sure if legal for Australians to elk. Carl took Dasha Gavrilova elking a few weeks ago. But she still some Russian in her. Elking VERY big in Russia. Dasha get Carl because Carl get Dasha sense of humor.

Q: Carl, what's your dream job?
CARL: Coach of Simona. Carl expect call sometime in 2016. Carl teach Simona to squish.

#25 Jelena Jankovic (Nanchang)
#35 Caroline Garcia (Limoges)
#71 Zheng Saisai (Dalian)
#82 Yaroslava Shvedova (Hua Hin)

**2015 WTA $125 SERIES FINALS**
NANCHANG: Jelena Jankovic/SRB d. Chang Kai-Chen/TPE
DALIAN: Zheng Saisai/CHN d. Julia Glushko/ISR
LIMOGES: Caroline Garcia/FRA d. Louisa Chirico/USA
HUA HIN: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ d. Naomi Osaka/JPN
TAIPEI: Timea Babos/HUN d. Misaki Doi/JPN

**2015 $100K FINALS**
MIDLAND: Tatjana Maria/GER d. Louisa Chirico/USA
CAGNES-SUR-MER: Carina Witthoeft/GER d. Tatjana Maria/GER
TRNAV: Danka Kovinic/MNE d. Margarita Gasparyan/RUS
MARSEILLE: Monica Niculescu/ROU d. Pauline Parmentier/FRA
CONTREXVILLE: Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU d. Yulia Putintseva/KAZ
VANCOUVER: Johanna Konta/GBR d. Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
BIARRITZ: Laura Siegemund/GER d. Romina Oprandi/SUI
NANJING: Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE d. Yulia Putintseva/KAZ
POITIERS: Monica Niculescu/ROU d. Pauline Parmentier/FRA
TOKYO: Zhang Shuai/CHN d. Nao Hibino/JPN

2013 WTA Final: Stosur d. Azarenka
2013 WTA Doubles Final: Kops-Jones/Spears d. HC.Chan/Husarova
15 Singles Top Seeds: Wickmayer/Maria

Jaksic d. #6 Glushko
#2 Maria d. #3 Jovanovski
Jaksic d. #2 Maria

...CARLSBAD -- CARLISNOTBAD! No Dasha in Carlsbad because never go where insult friend Carl. Carl would pick BoJo, but Carl not sure Bojo show up. Carl no forget -- Jovanovski go to wrong Carlsbad Carlisnotbad four years ago! So Carl pick OTHER Serb. Carl may not be right... but Carl know picks probably better than whatever Todd would have said.

TS: Unfortunately, he may be right! Thanks for checking in, Carl. (I know he's not reading this... but Carla would be angry with me if I didn't say that.)

Anyway, the Top Performances edition of the 2015 Backspin Awards has been posted. Next up: Matches of the Year.

(Oh, and while I thought the case for "Ms. Backspin" was closed months ago... well, on second thought, that might not necessarily be the case. So stay tuned!)

Meanwhile, just for the record, Kiki is at it again...

And so am I. So... another Serena's 1st Round U.S. Open Victim Update. (Note: Diatchenko won last year's $125K event in Taipei.)

"Just a girl on a bench, drinkin' coffee." Haha. Yeah, sure. ;)

The rare quiet Sunday morning #instapic

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

And... scene.

All for now.