Wk.42- From Russia With Love
Ten years after the Hordettes ruled the WTA roost, the tour's annual stop in Moscow for the Kremlin Cup revolved around... wouldn't you know it, Russians.
While the week's biggest Russian-themed tennis headlines focused on eye-rolling and inexcusable comments by Russian tennis legend Shamil Tarpischev, who was fined and banned by the WTA for a year after his televised remarks about the Williams sisters (he has since issued a written apology), where WAS actually GOOD news happening on the court in Moscow, as well.
Some came at the end of the week, when the first Russian since 2007 was crowed singles champion of the event. But, actually, maybe the most Impressive Performance by a Hordette Award was wrapped up several rounds earlier.
Please, read on...
*WEEK 42 CHAMPIONS*
MOSCOW, RUSSIA (Premier $710K/Hard Indoor)
S: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU 6-4/5-7/6-1
D: Hingis/Pennetta (SUI/ITA) d. Garcia/Parra-Santonja (FRA/ESP)
LUXEMBOURG CITY, LUXEMBOURG (Int'l $250K/Hard Indoor)
S: Annika Beck/GER def. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE 6-2/6-1
D: Bacsinszky/Barrois (SUI/GER) d. Hradecka/Krejcikova (CZE/CZE)
Aga, making an appearance at the WTA Finals (since, if last year's effort from her is any indication, she won't likely make much of an impression ON the court this week in Singapore)...
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
...the player who was touted years ago as the best bet to pick up the lead and continue the Russian dominance on the WTA tour has so far had what would have to be called a "disappointing" career. Pavlyuchenkova, now 23, has led a WTA existence marked by terrible inconsistency, sparked by bright moments that seem to point to even greater things ahead, only to be soon followed by jaw-dropping upset losses and questions about whether the ball-thumping former junior #1 and three-time girls slam champ will EVER live up to her initial promise. It's been three years since Pavlyuchenkova reached a career high of #13 and had her only year-end Top 20 ranking, but what the Russian has managed to accomplish in 2014 might -- finally? again? -- point to the upcoming WTA campaign as being THE year: the season when Pavlyuchenkova is more than just an intriguing shadow. It says something about how good she COULD be that, even while she's seen as something of an "underachiever," her title run at this past week's Kremlin Cup gives Pavlyuchenkova seven career tour crowns, and her second straight multiple-title season puts her in a group that includes only players named Williams, Sharapova, Halep and Kvitova when it comes to accomplishing the feat of consistency in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Last week, wins over Ana Konjuh, Alison Riske, Vitalia Diatchenko, Katerina Siniakova and Irina-Camelia Begu led Pavlyuchenkova into the winner's circle, adding a second '14 indoor title to go along with her win at the Paris Indoors earlier this season. The titles are the biggest of the Russian's career, and her only Premier level championships thus far. Of course, she still hasn't reached a slam QF since her only two such results during the 2011 season. Perhaps 2015 will be the year she matches, or exceeds, those results and has her long-awaited "breakthrough year?" Then again, it could be just another false alarm.
I did It!!!!!?? What a nice end to the season...#7?? 25 ????????? ????? ??????...????????? #25jubileekremlincup
RISERS: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU & Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
...in Moscow, Begu became the third Romanian to reach a '14 tour singles final (w/ Halep & Niculescu), though she ultimately fell for the third time in four career finals. The 24-year old put up impressive victories over Donna Vekic, Ekaterina Makarova, Tsvetana Pironkova and Lucie Safarova en route to her first championship match since winning Tashkent in 2012. Begu is up to #42 in the new rankings, just four spots behind the career-high she set back in 2011, when she was bestowed with the WTA's Newcomer of the Year award. 2014 has been one long climb back up the ladder for Bacsinszky, a Top 40 player three seasons ago. She began the year ranked at #285, and now finds herself in the Top 50. Her best result last week in Luxembourg wasn't in singles (she lost to eventual champ Annika Beck in the 1st Round), though, it was on the doubles court. The Swiss teamed with German vet Kristina Barrois to win her second career title at the event, having been crowned champion with Tathiana Garbin back in 2010. In fact, this was by far the best doubles result that Bacsinszky has ever had with anyone other than the now-retired Italian vet. The pair reached five finals in '10, the only other tour-level doubles finals Bacsinszky has played in, winning three. Just like her singles ranking, her doubles standing has risen over 200 spots, as she's climbed from #531 in January to inside the Top 230.
SURPRISES: Denisa Allertova/CZE & Kristina Barrois/GER
...Allertova, 21, has nearly climbed into the Top 100 (#109) for the first time on the back of her ITF Player of the Year-worthy (hmmm, is that the first "unofficial Backspin Award announcement" of '14?), circuit-leading seven titles this season. Last week in Luxembourg, though, the Czech's success "jumped species" and took root on the WTA tour, as well. After making her way through qualifying, Allertova notched main draw victories over Ons Jabeur, Sabine Lisicki and Varvara Lepchenko to put up her first career semifinal result. Is it too early to made a prediction about her going one more step -- at least -- in 2015? In the same event, 33-year old German vet Barrois announced her retirement after her singles qualifying loss to Lucie Hradecka. Then, wouldn't you know it, just like a fairy tale, she advanced through the doubles draw with Timea Bacsinszky and ended up claiming her first (and last, I suppose) tour-level title of any kind when the pair defeated, oddly enough, Hradecka (hello, again) and Barbora Krejcikova in the final. Quite the send-off, I'd say.
VETERANS: Martina Hingis/Flavia Pennetta (SUI/ITA) & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE
...Hingis & Pennetta didn't make the field of eight in Singapore, but that didn't stop them from putting up a great season-ending result in Moscow. The veteran pair won their second title in eight events together in '14, taking the Kremlin Cup doubles crown a full thirteen years after the Swiss Miss won her last, in 2001 with Anna Kournikova. Hingis won the singles title in 2000, as well. Hingis' third '14 title is the fortieth of her career, while Pennetta picked up #17. The win leaves Hingis & Pennetta just 64 points (behind Kudryavtseva/Rodionova) outside the Singapore field, a difference that would have been made up with one more match win in just one of five of the six events (not Tianjin) they entered but didn't win. Meanwhile, feisty Czech BZS reached her fifth career tour singles final in Luxembourg, taking down Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Alison Van Uytvanck, Johanna Larsson and Mona Barthel along the way before falling to Annika Beck, failing to get career title #2 ('11 Quebec City). 2014 is Zahlavova-Strycova's first multiple final campaign (w/ a RU on the grass in Birmingham), and she's up to a new career-high of #26 in the rankings. She'll easily have her best-ever year-end standing (which was previously #33 in '11), as well.
COMEBACK: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS
...Pavlyuchenko lifted the singles trophy in Moscow, but Diatchenko was arguably the biggest winner of the week. At this year's Kremlin Cup event, Diatchenko officially pulled a tennis career back into the starting gate in full circle fashion, closing out her '14 WTA season ten months after she essentially "re-claimed" her career. What a long fight it's been, too. When the 23-year old Hordette won a $50K challenger in Ankara in December it came after a week that had included her first singles action in thirteen months. She had played just five matches in '12, as well, following an eight-month absence after suffering a knee injury at the Kremlin Cup in 2011. That single ITF result moved her from unranked into the Top 500, and she's been steadily climbing back into contention every since. She's won a $100K challenger this year, as well as two other ITF crowns, including an event held in Moscow just last month. But it was the Kremlin Cup, where all her troubles began, that the two-fisted-on-both-sides ball-striker finally officially announced her return to the WTA conversation. After making it through qualifying (def. Ekaterina Bychkova and Evgeniya Rodina), Diatchenko got her first tour main draw wins in over twenty-five months (def. Olga Govortsova, via a retirement, and then #1 seed Dominika Cibulkova) to reach her first career WTA quarterfinal. 24-4 since late July, Diatchenko now finds herself ranked just outside the Top 100 at #105, matching her career-high from July '09 when she was an 18-year old looking like a good bet to follow-up on the great success of the revolutionary Russians that had preceded her. The result qualifies her for direct entry into the 2015 Australian Open, where she'll play her first main draw slam match since the '11 U.S. Open. So... Take Two. Sometimes, hard work does pay off.
FRESH FACES: Annika Beck/GER & Katerina Siniakova/CZE
...a year after she reached her first career tour singles final in Luxembourg, losing to Caroline Wozniacki, 20-year old Beck returned and claimed the crown as her own. The German never lost a set all week, defeating Timea Bacsinszky, Roberta Vinci, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, Denisa Allertova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the final (as a qualifier, she'd also defeated the Czech in the 1st Round of this same event in '12) to become the fourteenth maiden title-winner in '14. Beck dropped a total of eight games from the QF to the final. In Moscow, 18-year old Siniakova put on quite a show. In singles, she qualified and then upset Elena Vesnina, Kristina Mladenovic and Camila Giorgi in the main draw to reach her first career WTA singles semifinal. In doubles, she and Aleksandra Krunic also knocked out Kremlin Cup crowd favorites Ekaterina Makarova & Vesnina. In fact, Siniakova was so good that her success rubbed off on others. Doubles partner Krunic upset Caroline Garcia in the 1st Round, while Barbora Krejcikova (who teamed with fellow Czech Siniakova to take the U.S. Open junior doubles last year, then the pair did a synchronized dance routine on court to celebrate) reached the doubles final in Luxembourg with another Czech, Lucie Hradecka.
DOWN: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK & Donna Vekic/CRO
...who would have thought, back in Melbourne, that NEITHER of the Australian Open's singles finalists would be playing in the WTA Finals in Singapore? Now, Li Na has a more logical reason, but what about Cibulkova? Last week in Moscow, where the Slovak was installed as the #1 seed, Cibulkova still had the chance to at least serve as the "second lady in waiting" -- aka 2nd alternate -- at this week's event, replacing Ekaterina Makarova, right behind waiting-for-an-injury Angelique Kerber. All she had to do was win one match, but she couldn't even manage to do that, losing her opener in the 2nd Round to Vitalia Diatchenko. Cibulkova's fate came down to a 3rd set in which she promptly fell down a double break at 4-0 before going on to lose it 6-2. Reaching just one QF since April -- a span that has included fourteen tournaments -- Cibulkova has just three match wins since Wimbledon. Meanwhile, Vekic has had a successful season, winning her first career title in Kuala Lumpur, but she still hasn't managed to rise into the Top 60 (she's currently just outside the Top 80, after finishing '13 at #86) nor win more than a single match at a grand slam. It's the last half of her '14 campaign that has served as her quicksand. The Croat won six straight matches and rode an 11-2 stretch back in April, but her 1st Round loss in Moscow to Irina-Camelia Begu drops her to 5-15 in her last twenty.
ITF PLAYER: Carina Witthoeft/GER
...the 19-year old -- and future German Fed Cup star? -- won the $50K challenger in Joue-les-tours, France, claiming her fourth ITF singles crown of the season, and the eighth of her career. Witthoeft, who reached three consecutive finals last month (winning two), took out Jelena Ostapenko (SF) and Urszula Radwanska (Final) on her way to the title.
JUNIOR STAR: CiCi Bellis/USA
...after failing to clear that second hurdle in Flushing Meadows after nothching her 1st Round upset win at the U.S. Open over the aforementioned Cibulkova, Bellis had no such trouble a week after winning her first professional singles titles in the $25K event in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Instead, she stayed in-state and moved on to Florence, where she won a second straight event this weekend in another $25K. The 15-year, #1-ranked junior knocked off fellow Bannerette teen Katerina Stewart (17) early on (for the second straight week), then allowed just three games in the final against 20-year old Waffle Ysaline Bonaventure to claim the title.
That awk moment when some1 tips over an entire stack of plates right in front of u as you're about to walk out&entire dining hall looks @ u??— Carol Zhao (@CarolZhao95) October 19, 2014
And a couple of "original Hordette" Russians being honored in Moscow.
Seems like old times ) ??
1. Moscow QF - Siniakova d. Giorgi
...7-6(3)/4-6/7-5. Days after failing to put away a match point for the second time in a final this season, Giorgi was on the wrong end of a three-hour marathon.
2. Lux Final - Beck d. Zahlavova-Strycova
...6-2/6-1. Still, Beck's title means seven of my eight pre-season first-time champion picks won maiden titles in '14. If Giorgi could have converted one of those match points I'd been eight-for-eight. Is this going to develop into a THING around here, Camila?
3. Moscow Final - Pavlyuchenkova d. Begu
...6-4/5-7/6-1. The eight tour singles titles won by Russians this season are the most since since 2010.
4. Lux 1st Rd. - Parmentier d. Petkovic
...6-4/6-2. Three straight losses heading into the Fed Cup final.
5. Lux 1st Rd. - Lisicki d. Hantuchova
...7-5/6-0. Is The Wonder gone for good from the Slovak's game?
6. Moscow Doubles 1st Rd. - Krunic/Siniakova d. Makarova/Vesnina
...6-2/2-6/10-8. Makarova and Vesnina went a combined 0-3 in singles and doubles at the Kremlin Cup. Siniakova was 2-0 against them all by herself, also defeating Vesnina in singles.
7. WTA Rising Stars Round Robin - Monica Puig d. Shelby Rogers 6-3/6-7(4)/11-9
WTA Rising Stars Round Robin - Zheng Saisai d. Zarina Diyas 6-7(4)/7-6(2)/10-5
...Sunday's final two Round Robin matches in the inaugural Rising Stars competition in Singapore set up a Monday championship between Puig (3-0) and Zheng (2-1). Diyas was the only member of the four-player competition to go win-less in RR action.
8. Moscow SF - Begu d. Safarova
...7-6(5)/1-6/6-3. The Czech's only other '14 singles semifinal came at Wimbledon.
HM- $50K Tampico MEX Final - Duque-Marino d. Mestach
...3-6/6-1/7-6(4). The 25-year old Colombian picked up her 17th career ITF singles title over the weekend.
1. Moscow 1st Rd. - Mladenovic d. Karolina Pliskova
...6-3/7-5. Mladenovic Magic strikes again! Meanwhile, it looks like we'll see Karolina in the Fed Cup final (the first of many?).
2. Moscow Doubles QF - Lyudmyla Kichenok/Savchuk d. Krunic/Siniakova
3. $25K Bangkok Doubles Final - Varatchaya & Varunya Wongteanchai d. Borecka/Kerkhove
...6-2/5-7/10-7. The Thai sisters win their third '14 crown as a duo, and their fourth overall.
HM- $25K Florence 1st Rd. - Tornado Black d. Tatishvili
...6-2/6-3. Unfortunately, Black didn't get to meet Bellis in an all-Bannerette Junior final. She pulled out of the event before her 2nd Round match.
Paris thank u for all these fun memories! That day and that One moment I will never ever forget! Till next time... Bisous
**2014 FIRST-TIME CHAMPIONS**
Sydney - Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL, age 26)
Hobart - Garbine Muguruza (ESP, age 20)
Rio - Kurumi Nara (JPN, age 22)
Bogota - Caroline Garcia (FRA, age 20)
K.Lumpur - Donna Vekic (CRO, age 17)
Marrakech - M-T.Torro-Flor (ESP, age 21)
Oeiras - C.Suarez-Navarro (ESP, age 25)
Strasbourg- Monica Puig (PUR, age 20)
Nurnberg - Eugenie Bouchard (CAN, age 20)
Eastbourne- Madison Keys (USA, age 19)
's-Hert. - Coco Vandeweghe(USA, age 22)
Tashkent - Karin Knapp (ITA, age 27)
Tianjin - Alison Riske (USA, age 24)
Luxembourg - Annika Beck (GER, age 20)
**REACHED 2014 FINAL IN HOME NATION**
Shenzhen - Li Na, CHN (W)
Shenzhen - Peng Shuai, CHN (L)
Miami - Serena Williams, USA (W)
Rome - Sara Errani, ITA (L)
Bucharest - Simona Halep, ROU (W)
Stanford - Serena Williams, USA (W)
Cincinnati - Serena Williams, USA (W)
U.S. Open - Serena Williams, USA (W)
Moscow - A.Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (W)
**RUSSIAN KREMLIN CUP SINGLES CHAMPS**
2003 Anastasia Myskina
2004 Anastasia Myskina
2006 Anna Chakvetadze
2007 Elena Dementieva
2014 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
**2014 MULTIPLE WTA CHAMPIONS - NATIONS**
5 - USA - S.Williams,V.Williams,Keys,Riske,Vandeweghe
4 - RUS - Sharapova,Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,Kuznetsova
4 - GER - Petkovic,Lisicki,Petkovic,Barthel,Beck
3 - CZE - Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Koukalova
3 - ESP - Muguruza,Suarez-Navarro,Torro-Flor
**2014 WTA TITLES**
5...Serena Williams, USA
3...Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE
2...Li Na, CHN
2...ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA, RUS
2...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2...ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA, RUS
1...ANNIKA BECK, GER
1...Alize Cornet, FRA
1...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
1...Maria Sharapova, RUS
**2014 LOW-RANKED WTA SEMIFINALISTS**
#251 Wang Yafan/CHN - Guangzhou
#189 Nigina Abduraimova/UZB - Tashkent
#166 Kristina Kucova/SVK - Bucharest
#160 Nasstasja Burnett/ITA - Rio
#155 Maria Kirilenko/RUS - Seoul
#147 Shelby Rogers/USA - Bad Gastein (RU)
#145 DENISA ALLERTOVA/CZE - Luxembourg
#140 Belinda Bencic/SUI - Charleston
**MARTINA HINGIS - WTA/Mixed TITLES w/ PARTNERS**
Anna Kournikova (1999-02)
Jana Novotna (1997-99)
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (1997)
Mirjana Lucic (1998)
Flavia Pennetta (2014)
Natasha Zvereva (1997-98)
Mahesh Bhupathi (2006=Mixed)
Lindsay Davenport (1997)
Gigi Fernandez (1995)
Mary Joe Fernandez (1997)
Maria Kirilenko (2007)
Sabine Lisicki (2014)
Barbara Schett (2002)
Nathalie Tauziat (2000)
**CAREER WTA DOUBLES TITLES - ACTIVE**
79...Lisa Raymond, USA
59...Cara Black, ZIM
53...Liezel Huber, USA
40...MARTINA HINGIS, SUI
35...Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
27...Kveta Peschke, CZE
**2014 WTA/Mixed DOUBLES TITLES**
5...Sara Errani, ITA (5/0)
5...Peng Shuai (5/0)
5...Roberta Vinci, ITA (5/0)
3...MARTINA HINGIS, SUI (3/0)
3...Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE (3/0)
3...Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS (3/0)
3...Sania Mirza, IND (2/1)
3...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (3/0)
3...Anastasia Rodionova, AUS (3/0)
2009 Serena Williams, USA
2010 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Serena Williams, USA
2013 Serena Williams, USA
14...Martina Navratiova (8-6)
8...Chris Evert (4-4)
6...Steffi Graf (5-1)
6...SERENA WILLIAMS (4-2)
[reached final in debut appearance]
1979 Tracy Austin
1981 Andrea Jaeger
1994 Lindsay Davenport
1996 Martina Hingis
2001 Serena Williams (W)
2004 Maria Sharapova (W)
2011 Petra Kvitova (W)
WTA FINALS; SINGAPORE (HCI)
13 Final: S.Williams d. Li
13 Doubles Final: Hsieh/Peng d. Makarova/Vesnina
14 Top Seeds: S.Williams/Sharapova
(1) S.Williams 3-0
(7) Ivanovic 2-1
(5) Bouchard 1-2
(4) Halep 0-3
(2) Sharapova 3-0
(3) Kvitova 2-1
(8) Wozniacki 1-2
(6) A.Radwanska 0-3
#1 S.Williams d. #3 Kvitova
#2 Sharapova d. #7 Ivanovic
#1 S.Williams d. #2 Sharapova
...close to #1, Maria. But no Sugarpova candy cigar.
In this instance, Genie has it right, I suspect... just on the fashion choices alone. Hmmm, which is more preferred? The outfits with a whole lot going on on the left, or the more conservative, classic choices on the right?
Let the Hunger Games begin ?? pic.twitter.com/P9Gxm7VMQV— Eugenie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) October 18, 2014
Overall, a good mix, I'd say.
The Regional Honors have been posted. Another quick look back at 2004 arrives soon.
All for now.