Monday, July 21, 2014

Wk.29- The Dane Stands Tall in the Land of the Turks

With hints of both the good and bad aspects of the 1974 "Love Double" of Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors, in events held over 1700 miles apart this weekend, both Caroline Wozniacki and her ex-fiance Rory McIlroy seized the moment in their own special way.



Ever since the former couple's engagement was broken off via a brief, three-minute phone call from the golfer last May, Wozniacki, who soon after changed her Twitter avatar to a photo of herself dressed as a witch stirring her brew, has been making the rounds with WTA friends, smiling and making it pretty clear that she's doing just fine not having to plan on making a trip to Georgia next spring for some mid-week caddying duties. Last week, she even found a moment to take a thinly-veiled swipe at McIlroy when she posted a photo of herself enjoying a day on the town... in heels:



It only took a quick glance at some photos of a heel-wearing Wozniacki during her three-year relationship with McIlroy to get the picture.



It was a cute jab, and more than a bit funny. In a (oh-so-good) nasty way. But nothing compares to what Caro actually did on the court in Turkey, where her more focused, post-engagement, post-coaching carousel, post-lost in the woods blue period game finally got some traction and produced a string of consistent performances. In the end, she was the last woman standing in Istanbul, lifting a tour singles trophy for the 22nd time in her career.



Of course, as the "Non-Love Doubles" weekend ended, McIlroy had his own moment in Liverpool, concluding a dominant week on the links by winning the British Open to claim his third major title, something that Wozniacki had yet to be able to do on the WTA tour.



While it's hardly fair to compare their wins or careers, Wozniacki's jab will surely cause it to be the case now. At least in the short term.

But, hey, after the way the Dane has managed to stand tall in recent weeks after a few seasons of being lost in the WTA darkness, maybe she's finally found the inspiration to push her to be the best player she can be -- to show a certain someone just what he left behind. Spite can be a wonderful thing, and if it's focused in order to accomplish something good, it can be a pretty powerful tool, as well.

If a scorned Caro turns out to be better player, well, who's to argue with results, right? After all, the Tennis Gods do sometimes work in mysterious ways. And if she's looking to trump a British Open title... well, there could be an opportunity waiting to be taken in about a month in, depending on Serena Williams' personal situation by then, what could be as wide open a U.S. Open competition as we've seen in years.

I'm just sayin'.



*WEEK 29 CHAMPIONS*
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (Int'l $250K/Hard Court)
S: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN def. Roberta Vinci/ITA 6-1/6-1
D: Doi/Svitolina (JPN/UKR) d. Kalashnikova/Kania (GEO/POL) 6-4/6-0

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l $250K/Red Clay)
S: Mona Barthel/GER def. Chanelle Scheepers/RSA 6-3/7-6(3)
D: Klepac/Torro-Flor (SLO/ESP) d. Rae/A.Smith (GBR/GBR) 6-1/6-1



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...it was quite a week for Wozniacki. She celebrated her 24th birthday the Friday before the start of play in Istanbul, then opened the week with a double-bagel win (her first in four years) over Belinda Bencic. After getting off that feel-good shot at the height of ex-fiance McIlroy, who was soon leading the British Open, Caro survived three-setters over Karin Knapp and Karolina Pliskova before taking out Kristina Mladenovic in straights to reach the final. While McIlroy was stretching, then barely holding onto, then stretching his lead again on Sunday, Wozniacki went about her business, as well, eliminated Roberta Vinci 6-1/6-1 in the final to take her first title of the season, and the 22nd of her career. Of course, the "Caro Buzz Kill Stat of the Week" says that title #22 now makes the Dane the player with the MOST career titles (breaking a previous tie with Pam Shriver) without an accompanying slam title. But, hey, why spoil the celebration? The win also gives Wozniacki seven straight seasons with a title. The only WTA players with longer active streaks? Sharapova and Serena.
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RISERS: Mona Barthel/GER & Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...ah, but Caro wasn't the only player who just celebrated a birthday who ended up winning a title this weekend. Yep, the week's other singles champ, Barthel, was ALSO born on July 11, 1990. The German's talent has been evident for a few seasons, but her ability to sustain consistent results has been in deep question over that time. So, here we go again. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Barthel grabbed her third career tour singles title in Bastad, taking her first clay court crown and lifting a trophy for the first time since she took home a big one in the Paris Indoors last February. Barthel put up wins over Gabriela Dabrowski, Kaia Kanepi, Silvia Soler-Espinosa (SSE led 3-1 in the 3rd) and Chanelle Scheepers in the final this past week, giving her as many titles over the past three seasons as the likes of players named Cibulkova, Cornet, Ivanovic, Kerber, Pavlyuchenkova and Vinci (and just one less than Li and Wozniacki). Meanwhile, after starring most of the last year in doubles, Mladenovic has finally been asserting herself a bit more in singles lately. She upset Li Na at Roland Garros, and last week reached her first WTA singles semifinal since February '13 (Florianopolis) by reaching the final four in Istanbul. The 21-year old's victories over Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, Klara Koukalova and Francesca Schiavone lifted the Pastry (who reached #36 last August) back into the Top 100 at #81 in the new rankings.
=============================
SURPRISES: Andreja Klepac/Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (SLO/ESP) & Jocelyn Rae/Anna Smith (GBR/GBR)
...a week after Klepac & Torro-Flor lost in the Bad Gastein final (where the Slovenian was the defending champ), the pair reached the championship match in Bastad, as well. This time, though, they won, taking their first tour title as a duo, while both woman won the second crown of their respective careers. Klepac has one tour level singles final to her credit (losing in Budapest in '08 to Cornet), while Torro-Flor was a first-time winner in Marrakech earlier this year. Klepac & MTTF won the final in a quick forty-three minutes over Brits Rae & Smith, who were making their maiden appearance in a WTA final. Still, the loss didn't diminish the great week they had as they carried over their ITF success to the big tour. Rae & Smith have won eight challenger crowns while reaching ten finals, including going 5-1 in '14 while reaching finals in a combination of hard, clay and grass court events. They won the Nottingham title before Wimbledon, as 25-year old Smith has claimed 21 ITF doubles titles, while 23-year old Rae has 15.

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VETERANS: Roberta Vinci/ITA & Chanelle Scheepers/RSA
...has Vinci finally gotten things under control? After starting her season with a loss to a 16-year old making her tour debut, the 31-year old Italian opened '14 on a 0-6 stumble. Standing at 3-11 for the season, she won four of five matches, only to then lose five straight and fall to 7-17. Since completing a Career Doubles Slam at Wimbledon with Sara Errani, though, Vinci has gone 8-2 over the last two weeks, reaching back-to-back finals. She didn't win either one, but her victories last week in Istanbul over Anna Tatishvili, Alexandra Dulgheru, Kurumi Nara and Ana Konjuh (the aforementioned 16-year old from Week 1) brings the Top 20 again within the reach the world #23. First up... #22 Sloane Stephens? Scheepers, 30, advanced to her second career tour final (she won Guangzhou in '11) in Bastad, notching wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Laura Siegemund, Lara Arrubarrena and Jana Cepelova. The world #91 sees her standing jump twenty spots to #71 in the new rankings.
=============================
COMEBACK: Petra Cetkovska/CZE
...the Czech's climb back from her ranking plummet after missing the first four months of '13 with a stress fracture in her foot continues. After reaching the Top 25 in '12, Cetkovska ended '13 at #132. She went into the $50K challenger in Olomouc, CZE last week having climbed back into the Top 70, and the top-seeded 29-year old ultimately put up wins over Sofia Shapatava, Barbora Krejcikova and Denisa Allertova en route to her 22nd career ITF title. She won the doubles with Renata Voracova, too, taking out Krejickova & Aleksandra Krunic for her 25th career ITF doubles win. Cetkovska has never won a tour level singles crown, having lost to Wozniacki in the '11 New Haven final. Cetkovska is #66 in the new rankings.
=============================
FRESH FACES: Jana Cepelova/SVK & Ana Konjuh/CRO
...the hope last week was that Charleston runner-up Cepelova might have turned a corner with her tight 1st Round loss to eventual Bad Gastein champ Andrea Petkovic, the same German who'd beaten her in the Family Circle Cup final last spring. Coming to Bastad on a 1-10 skid, Cepelova strung together her first back-to-back wins (over Swede Rebecca Peterson and #1 seed Alize Cornet conqueror Anett Kontaveit) since April and added a third (Yulia Putintseva) to reach the semifinals. In Istanbul, 16-year old Konjuh qualified with wins over Sesil Karatantcheva and Kristyna Pliskova, then ran off victories over Magdalena Rybarikova, Misaki Doi and Elina Svitolina to reach her first career WTA semifinal. At the end of the same week that fellow 2013 two-time junior slam winner Belinda Bencic was bounced love & love in Istanbul, the Croat's spoils following the best week of her pro career is a new best-ever ranking of #116 on the WTA computer.
=============================
DOWN: Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL
...I guess we sort of knew things would play out this way, huh? After winning a slew of big matches but never winning a tour title for so many years, a huge obstacle was cleared by Pironkova when she claimed her first WTA crown with an 8-0 run through qualifying and the main draw to take Sydney champion honors in January. Flashforward seven months, though, and the Bulgarian has gone 10-13 since, and just 6-11 in WTA MD action. She even went 0-2 on grass! Her 1st Round loss to Stefanie Voegele last week in Istanbul was her fourth straight, and her sixth in her last seven matches. But don't cry, or blink, for the Weeping Angel, for she'll surely spring an attack again... after everyone has stopped looking. In that case, I'd say the time may be coming soon, I guess.

=============================
ITF PLAYERS: Patricia Maria Tig/ROU & Andreea Mitu/ROU
...Swarmettes rule! Tig, 19, claimed her circuit lead-tying fifth ITF title of the season with a win in the $10K Galati, Romania final over countrywoman Irina Maria Bara. Tig has raised her ranking nearly 500 spots since the start of the season, going 42-8 in all singles action. 22-year old Mitu, a recent qualifier at Wimbledon, took the $25K Darmstedt challenger in Germany, defeating Viktorija Golubic in the final to grab her third ITF title of the season, matching her biggest wins in two previous $25K tournaments. Both Romanians have now won a total of ten challenger titles in their careers.
=============================
JUNIOR STARS: Tornado Black/USA & Katie Boulter/GBR
...juniors were grabbing titles on the ITF circuit this weekend. 2013 U.S. Open girls runner-up Black, 16, won her second career (w/ the '13 Amelia Island $10K) pro singles title, taking the $10K challenger in Evansville, Indiana with a 6-4/4-6/6-2 win in the final over fellow American Caitlin Whoriskey. Meanwhile, 17-year old Boulter, the Australian Open girls doubles RU (w/ Ivana Jorovic) in January, won her third ITF doubles title in the $15K challenger in Imola, Italy along with a fellow Brit, 19-year old Katy Dunne, who also claimed the singles title. Boulter reached the singles semifinals, as well.
=============================

Meanwhile, Caro wasn't the only tennis player towering over a star from another sport last week... not with Maria Sharapova presenting an ESPY Award with boxer Floyd Mayweather:




1. Istanbul Final - Wozniacki d. Vinci
...6-1/6-1.
While she's only appeared in seven over the last three seasons, Caro has reached a total of 35 tour singles finals in her career. Her 22 wins place her 23rd on the all-time WTA title list. She's two behind Jana Novotna, three back of Amelie Mauresmo and has just five fewer than Gabriela Sabatini and Hana Mandlikova. All of those women are enshrined in Newport, but only Mauresmo was ranked #1 (for 39 weeks, compared to Wozniacki's 67). All won slam titles, though, while Caro still seeks her first.
=============================
2. Bastad Final - Barthel d. Scheepers
...6-3/7-6(3).
Barthel's three career titles is more than (Goerges-2), equal to (Kerber & Lisicki) or nearly as many as (Petkovic-4) all the "bigger-named" Germans of her generation.
=============================
3. Istanbul 1st Rd. - Wozniacki d. Bencic
...6-0/6-0.
This was the Dane's third career double-bagel victory. Oddly enough, none of them came while she was ranked #1, as she posted love & love wins over Edina Gallovits (2009 New Haven 1st Rd.) and Chang Kai-Chen (2010 U.S. Open 2nd Rd.) before she topped the rankings for the first time in October '10.
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4. Bastad 1st Rd. - Kontaveit d. Cornet
...7-6(3)/6-3.
Cornet took out #1 Serena at Wimbledon, but suffered the same fate as the #1 seed in Bastad in her first post-SW19 outing.
=============================
5. Istanbul 2nd Rd. - Schiavone d. Jovanovski
...6-1/6-4.
Schiavone came in ranked #75, while BoJo was #40. It's the Italian's fourth Top 40 victory in the past year.
=============================
6. Istanbul QF - Mladenovic d. Schiavone
...3-6/6-3/7-5.
Schiavone nearly pulled off her best result since reaching the SF in Seoul last October, losing out to the Pastry when Kiki bounced back after failing to convert two MP at 5-4 in the 3rd. After breaking for 6-5 on her fifth BP of the game, Mladenovic held to take the match, finally converting on her third MP.
=============================
7. Istanbul SF - Vinci d. Konjuh
...6-4/6-2.
Ah, sweet revenge. Back in Week 1, before the calendar had even officially turned over to 2014 (on December 31st), the just-turned-16 Konjuh made her WTA main draw debut and upset Vinci in the 1st Round in Auckland. It's taken Vinci nearly seven months to finally get her season turned around, but with back-to-back finals she seems to have righted the ship.
=============================
8. $50K Olomouc CZE Final - Cetkovska d. Allertova
...3-6/6-1/6-4.
Might the 21-year old Allertova at some point follow in fellow Czech Tereza Smitkova's footsteps and put on a qualifying run at a slam and take her chances in a main draw? Already a five-time ITF title winner in '14, the unseeded Maiden took out the #2 (Hlavackova) and #5 (Tsurenko) seeds to reach the final, then extended #1-seeded Cetkovska to three sets. At a new career-high of #177 in the current rankings, Allertova is now 7-2 in career ITF single finals (5-1 this season).

=============================
9. $50K Carson Final - Gibbs d. Oudin
...6-4/6-4.
The 21-year old, former two-time NCAA singles champion has now won $50K challengers on U.S. hard courts in each of the last three Julys.
=============================
10. Istanbul Doubles Final - Doi/Svitolina d. Kalashnikova/Kania
...6-4/6-0.
With her first tour level doubles crown, Svitolina has now won at least one WTA singles, WTA doubles, ITF singles, ITF doubles and WTA 125 singles title in her career. If the 19-year old can pick up a 125 doubles win later this year, she'll have collected one of all six women's pro titles out there to be had.
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1. WTT - Hingis/Venus Williams d. Medina-Garrigues/Jurak

...5-2.
Fancy meeting you here. Washington Kastle teammates Martina & Venus combined to hand a loss to AMG & Jurak. Seventeen years ago in 1997, Hingis & Williams faced off in the U.S. Open final. The then 16-year old Swiss Miss won in straight sets, winning her third slam crown. 17-year old Venus was playing in just her third slam main draw.
=============================
2. Istanbul Doubles 1st Rd. - Kalashnikova/Kania d. Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiya Kichenkok
...6-7(3)/6-4 [10-8].
If you want to put up a good doubles result, draw the Kichenoks in the early rounds. At Wimbledon, Errani/Vinci overcame 6 MP and went on to take the title. Kalashnikova/Kania won a tight one here and went on to reach the final.
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Rubbin' elbows with a great in the WTT!





**CONSECUTIVE YEARS WITH A WTA TITLE - active streaks**
12 years - Maria Sharapova, 2003-14
8 years - Serena Williams, 2007-14
7 years - CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, 2008-14
5 years - Li Na, 2010-14
4 years - Dominika Cibulkova, 2011-14
4 years - Petra Kvitova, 2011-14
3 years - Alize Cornet, 2012-14
3 years - MONA BARTHEL, 2012-14
[current streaks, no 2014 title]
5 years - Victoria Azarenka, 2009-13
5 years - Roberta Vinci, 2009-13
3 years - Agnieszka Radwanska, 2011-13
3 years - Daniela Hantuchova, 2011-13
3 years - Magdalena Rybarikova, 2011-13

**CONSECUTIVE 2014 WTA FINALS**
[singles]
2...Li Na, January (2-0)
2...Klara Zakopalova, Feb-Mar (1-1)
2...Ana Ivanovic, April (1-1)
2...Maria Sharapova, Apr-May (2-0)
2...ROBERTA VINCI, July (0-2)
[doubles]
4...Errani/Vinci, May-Jun (2-2)
3...Peng Shuai, Feb-Mar (3-0)
2...Errani/Vinci, January (1-1)
2...Kveta Peschke, February (1-1)
2...Hsieh/Peng, Feb-Mar (2-0)
2...Chan Hao-Ching, April (1-1)
2...Chan Yung-Jan, April (0-2)
2...Black/Mirza, Apr-May (1-1)
2...KLEPAC/TORRO-FLOR, July (1-1)

**MOST WTA TITLES WITHOUT A SLAM WIN**
22...CAROLINE WOZNIACKI *
21...Pam Shriver
19...Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere
19...Nancy Richey
16...Elena Dementieva
15...Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat
14...Zina Garrison
13...Nadia Petrova *
13...Jelena Jankovic *
13...Agnieszka Radwanska *
--
*- active

**2014 WORST WINNING PCT. IN WTA FINALS - 2+**
.000 - Angelique Kerber (0-3)
.000 - Sara Errani (0-2)
.000 - Karolina Pliskova (0-2)
.000 - ROBERTA VINCI (0-2)
.333 - Dominika Cibulkova (1-2)
.333 - Simona Halep (1-2)
.333 - Klara Koukalova (1-2)

**2014 ALL-UNSEEDED FINALS**
Dubai - V.Williams/USA (WC) d. A.Cornet/FRA
Marrakech - M-T.Torro-Flor/ESP d. R.Oprandi/SUI
Strasbourg - M.Puig/PUR d. S.Soler-Espinosa/ESP (Q) *
's-Herto. - C.Vandeweghe/USA (Q) d. J.Zheng/CHN
Bastad - M.Barthel/GER d. C.Scheepers/RSA #
--
*-all unseeded SF; #-all unseeded QF

**2014 WTA CHAMPIONS BY COUNTRY**
4 USA - S.Williams,V.Williams,Keys,Vandeweghe
3 RUS - Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,Sharapova
3 ESP - Muguruza,Suarez-Navarro,Torro-Flor
2 FRA - Cornet,Garcia
2 CZE - Koukalova,Kvitova
2 GER - Barthel,Petkofic
1 - BUL,CAN,CHN,CRO,DEN,ITA,JPN,PUR,ROU,SRB,SVK
[recent winning nations by season]
2007: 17
2008: 18
2009: 20
2010: 21
2011: 20
2012: 23
2013: 19
2014: 17

**2014 LOW-RANKED SEMIFINALISTS**
#166 Kristina Kucova/SVK - Bucharest SF
#160 Nasstasja Burnett/ITA - Rio SF
#147 Shelby Rogers/USA - Bad Gastein RU
#140 Belinda Bencic/SUI - Charleston SF
#139 ANA KONJUH/CRO - Istanbul SF
#138 Grace Min/USA - Bad Gastein SF

**2014 ITF TITLES**
5...Denisa Allertova, CZE
5...PATRICIA MARIA TIG, ROU
4...Elise Mertens, BEL
4...Nadia Podoroska, ARG
4...Ana Sofia Sanchez, MEX
4...Zhu Lin, CHN


ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!!
Laura Robson has been spotted in a photo WITHOUT her wrist brace!!!! See?



More evidence...



Just had to get that in there.






BAKU, AZERBAIJAN (Int'l $250K/HCO)
13 Final: Svitolina d. Peer
13 Doubles Final: Buryachok/Kalashnikova d. Daniilidou/Krunic (Buryachok 2012-13)
14 Top Seeds: Cirstea/Svitolina
=============================

=SF=
#5 Jovanovski d. Peer
#8 Cepelova d. Mladenovic
=FINAL=
#8 Cepelova d. #5 Jovanovski

...hmmm, bypassing #1-seed Cirstea and #2-seed/defending champ Svitolina might be a big no-no, but Cepelova's recent upswing makes her a feel-good player to root for this week, so I'll go with that.


NAN CHANG, CHINA (WTA 125 Series Challenger/HCO)
=new event=
14 Top Seeds: Peng/J.Zheng
=============================

=SF=
#1 Peng d. #6 Sa.Zheng
#2 J.Zheng d. #4 Kumkum
=FINAL=
#2 J.Zheng d. #1 Peng

...Peng has never won a WTA level singles title (0-6 in finals). A win here wouldn't, technically, give her a first... but it would be closer. It still probably won't happen. I should probably be picking Zheng Saisai, but I'll go with the veteran Zheng. The best chances for a non-Chinese winner here are Kumkhum, Doi and Minella.


WORLD TEAM TENNIS PLAYOFFS
13 Final: Washington Kastles d. Springfield Lasers
=============================

=FINAL=
Washington Kastles d. San Diego Aviators

...going for the four-peat, and a fifth title in six years, with Hingis (for sure) and Venus (maybe, crossing fingers) leading the way. Although, if Vika's around for the postseason matches, look out for the dark horse Philadelphia Freedoms.


And, now, while there wasn't really anywhere to naturally fit this in this week, I can't let the week go by without using this:



While Petra Kvitova might not be able to sing a lick, it goes without saying that she at least LOOKS the part of a musician, doesn't she? Imagine if she CAN sing, though. Oh, Petra!


All for now.

Read more...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wk.28- Pride & Petkovic

Wimbledon is over and finished, so now it's time to get back to building a season. And, right on cue, Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic stepped right up with their brick and mortar.



As great as Halep's season has been as she's climbed to a Romanian-best ever ranking of #3 in the world, reached a pair of slam semifinals and her first major final, the one thing that was the hallmark of her climb up the rankings in 2013 -- her ability to salt away singles titles -- has been mostly missing in '14. After going 6-0 in finals last year, Halep was just 1-2 heading into last week, with her only winning weekend coming in Doha five months ago. Ah, but wouldn't you know it, the Pride of Romania managed to steal the show in the inaugural Bucharest Open, racing through the draw while dropping just one set all week and firing the first shot across the bow of BOTH world #2 Li Na and Road to Singapore points leader Maria Sharapova as the '14 season nears it's turn down the back stretch when things head to North America in less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, in Bad Gastein, Petkovic was both rekindling an old flame AND staking out new territory. Five years ago, as the then-#98 ranked player in the world who'd never won back-to-back WTA main draw matches, the German went to Austria and made off with her maiden career singles title. Within eighteen months, she was starting down the path of an '11 season in which she'd reach a trio of slam quarterfinals and finish the year in the Top 10. Injuries and aggravation have ruled much of Petko's day since then, until this season. In 2014, the dancing and smiling German has returned in nearly full force, putting up big time Fed Cup wins, returning to the Top 20, winning Charleston and reaching first career slam semifinal at Roland Garros. With her career trajectory tracking upward once again, Petkovic returned to the tournament where she first cut her teeth and took another big bite. Her title run gives her multiple singles crowns in a season for the first time in her career.



With quite a few weeks left in the '14 season, it'd surprise no one if both Halep and Petkovic aren't finished their step-by-step march toward seasons they'll never forget. Crossing fingers. They're two of the main reasons that, even as the world #1 and '13 #2 have been mostly afterthoughts when it's come to on-court high points, this WTA campaign has turned out to be one of the most interesting in recent memory.



*WEEK 28 CHAMPIONS*
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (Int'l $250K/Red Clay)
S: Simona Halep/ROU def. Roberta Vinci/ITA 6-1/6-3
D: E.Bogdan/Cadantu (ROU/ROU) d. Buyukakcay/Knapp (TUR/ITA) 6-4/3-6 [10-5]

BAD GASTEIN, AUSTRIA (Int'l $250K/Red Clay)
S: Andrea Petkovic/GER def. Shelby Rogers/USA 6-3/6-3
D: Ka.Pliskova/Kr.Pliskova (CZE/CZE) d. Klepac/Torro-Flor (SLO/ESP) 4-6/6-3 [10-6]



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Simona Halep/ROU
...Halep's second title of the year finally puts her on equal -- or nearly so -- footing with the rest of the players potentially in the running for 2014 Player of the Year. Her wins in Bucharest over Indy De Vroome, Aleksandra Krunic, Lara Arruabarrena, Monica Niculescu and Roberta Vinci get her to eight career titles, just four off the all-time Romanian lead. She's still at #3 in the rankings and 175 points behind #2 Li Na, but while the Chinese vet's level of play heading into North America is anyone's guess, Halep looks ready to tackle what comes next. Of course, Li's lead is still a huge gulf compared to the measly eleven point advantage Maria Sharapova currently holds over Halep in the Road to Singapore standings, as the Romanian's first-ever qualification for the season-ending championships is pretty much just a matter of time at this point.
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RISERS: Karolina Pliskova/Kristyna Pliskova (CZE/CZE) and Monica Niculescu/ROU
...while both Pliskovas lost out to a pair of Bannerettes in singles (Karolina at least made the QF), the Power of Two proved to be too much for anyone to handle in the doubles. The 22-year olds, the only twins to share a WTA doubles title, won the second of their careers in Bad Gastein (Karolina won an additional title earlier this year w/ another partner), pulling them into a tie for third place -- behind the Williams and Bondarenko sisters -- on the all-time WTA title-winning sisters duos list. Niculescu, 26, reached her first tour singles finals in 2011 and '12, then won her first singles title last year. The Swarmette hasn't made a similar step forward in '14, but after going 0-3 in quarterfinals she did reach her first semi of the season this weekend in her own backyard in Bucharest. Befoer her three-set loss to Halep, her three wins -- including victories over Klara Koukalova and Polona Hercog -- were Niculescu's first back-to-back triumphs in a tour main draw since her attempted defense of her Florianopolis title in February (she reached the QF), and her SF result is her best since a final four finish in Monterrey in April of last year.
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SURPRISES: Elena Bogdan/Alexandra Cadantu (ROU/ROU) and Kristina Kucova/SVK
...while Halep took the inaugural singles title at the Bucharest Open, fellow Swarmettes Bogdan and Cadantu grabbed the doubles. It's the first tour level doubles crown for both. Bogdan and Cadantu came into the event ranked #245 and #496, respectively, and jump to #134 and #175 in the new rankings. Also in Bucharest, #166 Kucova became the lowest-ranked semifinalist on tour this season, as the 24-year reached her first career final four with wins over Anna Schmiedlova, Cristina Dinu and Danka Kovinic.
=============================
VETERANS: Roberta Vinci/ITA & Sara Errani/ITA
...as has often been the case with Italians in recent seasons after big results, it'd been easy for Vinci and Errani to lean back and enjoy the fruits of the Career Doubles Slam they just won at Wimbledon. But in separate tournaments, both took to the court and put up good singles results the "week after." For Errani, it wasn't a big leap, as her semifinal run in Bad Gastein after wins over Katerina Siniakova, Paula Ormaechea and Chanelle Scheepers was predictable. But Vinci entered Bucharest sporting a 7-17 singles record this season and had lost five matches in a row, so the 31-year old's run to her first final since her Palmero win exactly one year ago served as quite the potential season-turning event. Wins over Alexandra Dulgheru, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Petra Cetkovska and Kristina Kucova gave Vinci her first four-match win streak since last year's U.S. Open, and it's the first time she's beaten three Top 100 players in an event since she did it in Cincinnati last August.
=============================
COMEBACK: Andrea Petkovic/GER

...Petkovic's Bad Gastein (2009) to Bad Gastein (2014) full circle trip managed to put a few more check marks in the column for this current season being the German's best ever, even if she's so far "only" climbed up to #18 in the new rankings. Career title #4 came via wins over a mostly-inexperienced lot -- Jana Cepelova, Dinah Pfizenmaier, Grace Min & Shelby Rogers, along with the more-experienced Stefanie Voegele -- but her trip wasn't without potential pitfalls that had to be overcome. Cepelova held set points in both sets in Petkovic's straights sets win in a rematch of the Charleston final, while Min won the 1st set in their three-set semifinal.
=============================

FRESH FACES: Shelby Rogers/USA & Grace Min/USA
...following in the pre-Wimbledon footsteps of Madison Keys and Coco Vandweghe, another pair of young Bannerettes simultaneously stretched for career-best results, only this time in the same tournament. Not only that, but they even shared a defeated opponent and BOTH knocked off a Pliskova sister. Rogers, 21, qualified in Bad Gastein and reached a tour level semifinal and final for the first time in her career, becoming the lowest-ranked (#147) singles finalist on tour in 2014 after entering the event without back-to-back WTA main draw wins on her WTA resume. Rogers, who notched the first two Top 20 wins of her career last week (def. Carla Suarez-Navarro and Sara Errani, and adding hardly-shabby wins over Camila Giorgi and Kristyna Pliskova, too), has a history of raising her game when the stakes are high, though. Remember, she put up multiple good results in challenger events over a short stretch last year while twice winning the USTA's wild card berths into Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. 20-year old Min, the '11 U.S. Open junior champ, reached her first career tour semifinal as the #138-ranked player in the world heading into the Austrian event. After getting a break and seeing top-seeded Flavia Pennetta withdraw, Min got a win over "lucky loser" Beatriz Garcia-Vidagany (who Rogers def. in qualifying), then took out Irina Falconi and Karolina Pliskova. In the semis, she was up a set on eventual champ Petkovic before losing in three. Rogers is now up to a career-best #104, while Min checks in a new high of #114.
=============================
DOWN: Serena Williams/USA
...yeah, she didn't play this past week. Meanwhile, Jana Cepelova did, and lost again... after having chances in multiple sets to win. Again. But since she "won" the Down award the week before Wimbledon, I don't have the heart to pile on the young Slovak whose results have been reeling since she reached the Charleston final. Speaking of, Cepelova lost her rematch with Charleston champ Petkovic in the 1st Round in Bad Gastein this week, but played well, even if she did squander some chances at a tournament-upending upset. So, I'll go with Serena here. Yeah, again. But this is for missing out on her Bastad defense attempt this coming week, citing whatever it was that took her out of Wimbledon as the reason. Remember, she was a somewhat surprising participant in the Swedish event last year as she added one more week to her '13 clay court season right after the completion of Wimbledon, picking up her seventh of what would be eleven singles titles last season. She's got just three so far this year, and it doesn't look like #4 will be coming anytme soon.
=============================
ITF PLAYER: Kaia Kanepi/EST
...the 29-year old had a disappointing Wimbledon (losing in the 2nd Rd. to Yaroslava Shvedova after defeating JJ in the 1st Rd.), but she's followed it up with back-to-back runs to $100K challanger finals. After losing last week in Contrexeville, the Estonian took the title this weekend in Biarritz with wins over Stephanie Vogt, Mandy Minella and Teliana Pereira in the final. A past winner of four WTA singles titles, this is Kanepi's first ITF win since 2010. Her first came fourteen years ago in 2000.
=============================
JUNIOR STAR: Francoise Abanda/CAN
...the 17-year old hasn't played much junior tennis in '14, appearing in just a pair of slams -- RG semis, Wimbledon 3rd Rd.. Still, she gets the honor this week for, naturally, her second career appearance in an ITF singles final. In the $25K challenger in Gatineau, Canada, Abanda lost to veteran Stephanie Foretz-Gacon, after having won her first pro title in Port St. Lucie, Florida earlier this season.
=============================

Meanwhile...

Lindsay Davenport, Nick Bollettieri and Chantal Vandierendonck (the first ITF Wheelchair World Champion in 1991) were among the group of people inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island this weekend.


1. BG 1st Rd. - Petkovic d. Cepelova
...7-6(8)/7-5.
Perhaps looking for a chance to right her season precisely where it started to go wrong, when the Slovak lost to the German in the Charleston final, Cepelova had her opportunities. After climbing out of a 5-2 hold in the 1st set, she held three set points in the tie-break, then two more in the 2nd set. Alas, she fell in straights to drop her seventh straight, and to 1-10 in her last eleven matches.
=============================
2. BG SF - Rogers d. Errani
...7-6(10)/6-3.
Errani held two SP at 5-4 in the 1st, had three more in the TB, and led 2-0 in the 3rd.
=============================
3. BG 1st Rd. - Meusburger d. Smitkova
...7-6(9)/4-6/7-5.
While Smitkova qualified in Bad Gastein, the Wimbledon Round of 16er couldn't take out defending champ Meusburger despite holding a pair of SP in the 1st. The Austrian finally took the set on her seventh SP in the tie-break. The 2nd set saw seven consecutive breaks of serve as the Czech teenager sent things to a 3rd, where she went up an early break and served for the match at 5-4, only to lose while dropping the final four games of the match.
=============================
4. Istanbul Q1 - Eguchi d. Smitkova
...6-4/6-0.
Things weren't quite as dramatic in Smitkova's next match.
=============================
5. Bucharest Final - Halep d. Vinci
...6-1/6-3.
Halep is tied with Ana Ivanovic for the most final appearances (4) this season.
=============================
6. BG Final - Petkovic d. Rogers
...6-3/6-3.
Rogers joins McHale and Keys to make it a trio of first-time finalist Bannerettes in 2014, tying the Spaniards for the '14 tour lead.
=============================
7. BG Doubles 1st Rd. - Ormaechea/Pfizenmaier d. Krejcikova/Siniakova
...4-6/7-5 [10-7].
I'm assuming there were no on-court dance routines for the young Czech Maidens after this one.
=============================
8. $50K Sacramento Final - Rogowska d. Boserup
...6-2/7-5.
The Aussie grabs her eleventh career ITF crown, and her second $50K event this season, both being her biggest titles ever. Rogowska whipped up on a five-pack of Bannerettes, adding wins over Macall Harkins, Peggy Porter, Sachia Vickery and Madison Brengle to her final victory over Boserup.
=============================
HM- $10K Sharm El Sheikh Final - Jan Abaza d. Pauline Payet
...6-4/6-4.
The 19-year old American has reached a combined six singles & doubles finals over the last three weeks in Egypt. Her sweep of the singles and doubles this weekend gives her 2-1 records in both sets of finals during the span.
=============================


1. BG Doubles Final - Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova d. Klepac/Torro-Flor

...4-6/6-3 [10-6].
Battling back from a 5-0 deficit in the match tie-break, the Pliskovas win their second tour title and prevent Klepac from defending the crown she won a year ago with Sandra Klemenschits. Oddly enough, both of the Czech sisters' titles have come in Austria, as they won in Linz last season.
=============================
2. Bucharest 1st Rd. - Kristina Kucova d. Anna Schmiedlova
...6-3/6-3.
Kucova won the '07 U.S. Open junior title, while Schmiedlova was the girls runner-up at RG in '12. Anna's sister, Kristina, was just the RU in the Wimbledon juniors, as well. So, I guess things held to form here... family wise.
=============================
3. $10K Bangkok Doubles Final - Varatchaya & Varunya Wongteanchai d. Kumkhum/Tanasugarn
...6-3/4-6 [10-8].
The Thai siblings take out their more-accomplished countrywomen to grab their third ITF title as a duo.
=============================



Hmmm, two to choose from as the return of Vika as a "regular" tour presence gets closer and closer. First, a nice photo.


And, second, well... this just looks like an accident waiting to happen, doesn't it?



**2014 WTA TITLES**
3...Serena Williams [Brisbane,Miami,Rome]
3...Maria Sharapova [Stuttgart,Madrid,Roland Garros]
3...Ana Ivanovic [Auckland,Monterrey,Birmingham]
2...Li Na [Shenzhen,Australian Open]
2...SIMONA HALEP [Doha,Bucharest]
2...ANDREA PETKOVIC [Charleston,Bad Gastein]

**WTA FINALS - 2012-14**
23 - Serena Williams (21-2)
17 - Maria Sharapova (8-9)
16 - Victoria Azarenka (9-7)
11 - SIMONA HALEP (8-3)
11 - Sara Errani (5-6)
11 - Li Na (4-7)

**CAREER CLAY TITLES - active**
11...Serena Williams
10...Anabel Medina-Garrigues, Maria Sharapova
7...Flavia Pennetta, Venus Williams
6...Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic
5...Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vinci
4...ANDREA PETKOVIC, Caroline Wozniacki

**2014 WTA TITLES - MULTIPLE SURFACES**
2 - Serena Williams = Hard,Red Clay
2 - Ana Ivanovic = Hard,Grass
2 - SIMONA HALEP = Hard,Red Clay
2 - ANDREA PETKOVIC = Green Clay,Red Clay

**2014 #1 SEED WON TITLE**
Brisbane - Serena Williams, USA
Shenzhen - Li Na, CHN
Acapulco - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
Miami - Serena Williams, USA
Oeiras - Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
Rome - Serena Williams, USA
Birmingham - Ana Ivanovic, SRB
Bucharest - Simona Halep, ROU

**2014 LOW-RANKED FINALISTS**
#147 SHELBY ROGERS, USA - Bad Gastein (L=Petkovic)
#137 Jovana Jaksic, SRB - Monterrey (L=Ivanovic)
#118 Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP - Strasbourg (L=Puig)
#107 Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL - Sydney (W=Kerber)
#101 Romina Oprandi, SUI - Marrakech (L=Torro-Flor)

**2014 WTA SF**
6...SIMONA HALEP (4-2)
6...Maria Sharapova (3-3)
5...Ana Ivanovic (4-1)
5...Eugenie Bouchard (2-3)
5...Aga Radwanska (1-4)
5...Jelena Jankovic (1-4)

**2014 LOW-RANKED SEMIFINALISTS**
#166 KRISTINA KUCOVA/SVK - Bucharest SF
#160 Nasstasja Burnett/ITA - Rio SF
#147 SHELBY ROGERS/USA - Bad Gastein RU
#140 Belinda Bencic/SUI - Charleston SF
#138 GRACE MIN/USA - Bad Gastein SF
#137 Jovana Jaksic/SRB - Monterrey RU

**REACHED 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)

**WTA TITLES - ROMANIANS**
12 - Virginia Ruzici (1975-85)
8 - SIMONA HALEP (2013-14)
4 - Irina Spirlea (1994-98)
4 - Ruxandra Dragomir (1996-97)
[active]
2...Alexandra Dulgheru
1...Irina-Camelia Begu
1...Sorana Cirstea
1...Monica Niculescu

**WTA DOUBLES TITLES - ALL-SISTERS DUOS**
21 - Serena & Venus Williams, USA
3 - Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
2 - KAROLINA & KRISTYNA PLISKOVA, CZE
2 - Chan Hao-Ching & Yung-Jan, TPE

**2014 $100K ITF FINALS**
-FEB-
Midland, USA - Heather Watson/GBR d. Ksenia Pervak/RUS
-MAY-
Cagnes-sur-Mer, FRA - Sharon Fichman/CAN d. Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
-MAY-
Prague, CZE - Heather Watson/GBR d. Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
-JUN-
Marseille, FRA - Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU d. Johanna Larsson/SWE
-JUL-
Contrexeville, FRA - Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU d. Kaia Kanepi/EST
-JUL-
Biarritz, FRA - Kaia Kanepi/EST d. Teliana Pereira/BRA





BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l $250K/RCO)
13 Final: S.Williams d. Larsson
13 Doubles Final: Medina-Garrigues/Koukalova d. Dulgheru/Pennetta
14 Top Seeds: Cornet/Pavlyuchenkova
=============================

=SF=
#1 Cornet d. #4 Shvedova
Larsson d. Min
=FINAL=
#1 Cornet d. Larsson

...not a lot of "sure things" here, but Cornet on the clay is as good as anything available.


ISTANBUL, TURKEY (Int'l $250K/HCO)
=last held in 2010: A.Pavlyuchenkova champion=
14 Top Seeds: Wozniacki/Vinci
=============================

=SF=
#7 Jovanovski d. #1 Wozniacki
#2 Vinci d. Niculescu
=FINAL=
#2 Vinci d. #7 Jovanovski

...Vinci's on a nice run over the last week and a half, so maybe she can make it a multi-continental affair. Caro -- who just had a birthday on Friday -- might be due for a final, but I just can't pull the trigger.


All for now.

Read more...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

2Q BSA's: Up and In in Paris and London


Some were down and out in Paris and London in the 2nd Quarter... but it's so much more beneficial to be "up and in."



Of course, sometimes, just being back is more than enough.



But those who were more fortunate in the 2Q got to do all sorts of fun things. Such as bark...


Or be "very French"...


Or, even more successfully, just "naturally French"...


Some got to take great -- but not blessed... not yet -- selfies...


And dance the day away. Either by herself...


Or, umm... with, umm... yeah.


And then there's...


"I am heartbroken I'm not able to continue in the tournament. I thought I could rally this morning, because I really wanted to compete, but this bug just got the best of me." - Serena Williams, in a statement, explaining her retirement from her doubles matches after being unable to catch, bounce or serve balls through the warm-up and first three games

Hmmm. Well, needless to say, there were a whole range of possible emotions on tour over the past few months. Right, Maria?



Exactly.



*2Q Awards - Weeks 14-27*
**PLAYERS-OF-THE-QUARTER**

1. Maria Sharapova, RUS
...her clay court season was the most consistent (if not always dominant) stretch of winning tennis put up by any player in 2014. A second Roland Garros title -- her first multiple slam-winning turn at a major -- elevates her overall career an additional notch, too.
=============================
2. Petra Kvitova, CZE
...she was still up and down throughout the 2Q, but Kvitova's second Wimbledon title and yet another turn at leading the Czechs to the Fed Cup final made her additional semifinal finish in Madrid seem less of an aberration and more of a hopeful sign that her good results won't remain relegated to FC venues and the AELTC in the near future.

=============================
3. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
...a second '14 slam semifinal in Paris, her first major final at Wimbledon, her first tour singles title and a leading role on the suddenly-interesting Canadian Fed Cup team has turned Bouchard from a "future star" into one who'll head to NYC at the end of the summer not only looking for her first slam win, but being expected by most to contend for it. If she can handle the "expectation game" as well as she has everything else, look out.
=============================
4. Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA
...the Italians came into the 2Q without a clay court title since 2012. They won two, reached the RG final, then won on the grass at Wimbledon to complete a Career Slam and reclaim the #1 doubles ranking.
=============================

5. Simona Halep, ROU
...the Pride of Romania is leading the Swarmette Fed Cup team to potential great heights, reached her first slam singles final in Paris and then followed it up with a semifinal in London. Actually, the only thing Halep didn't do in the 2Q was what she couldn't stop doing in 2013 -- win a title. The one good week, one bad week string of results has prevented the world #3 from climbing even higher. So far.
=============================
6. Andrea Petkovic, GER
...the Charleston champ reached her first career slam semifinal in Paris, but her season highlight still might be on the horizon in the Fed Cup final. It's amazing what a difference a long stretch of good health makes, huh?
=============================
7. Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
...they've been in and out of the #1 ranking all season, and their first Roland Garros title will keep them in the year-end #1 hunt heading into the U.S. Open.

=============================
8. Angelique Kerber, GER
...a dominant closer for the German Fed Cup finalists, Kerber hasn't quite been able to get "over the hump" in tour events, failing to win a title in '14. It's fitting that her best match (maybe ever), a win over Sharapova at Wimbledon, came in just the Round of 16.
=============================
9. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
...AnaIvo added a clay court and grass title to her season haul in the 2Q as she climbed to #11, providing for her best start to a season since 2008. So, naturally, as the Serb has done at every turn the last few years, she's already changed coaches in the wake of her disappointing early exit at Wimbledon.
=============================
10 Caroline Garcia, FRA
...she swept the singles/doubles titles in Bogota, then was born as a new Fed Cup star a week later.

=============================
11. Alize Cornet, FRA
...2014's "Most Improved Player" continues to move through the schedule with drama following along behind her every step of the way. Sometimes it's not great for Cornet (vs. Keys in Fed Cup), but sometimes it takes her to the moon (vs. Serena at Wimbledon) and back.
=============================
12. Lucie Safarova, CZE
...after missing out on an overdue great slam run in Melbourne, the Czech took advantage of her opportunities in London to reach her first major semifinal.

=============================
13. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
...if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try and try again. In her sixth career singles final, CSN finally became a WTA champion in Oeiras.
=============================
14. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
...Makarova swept in to prevent the Russian Fed Cup team from falling off a cliff, then later crushed Aga Radwanska's Wimbledon dreams.
=============================
15. Donna Vekic/CRO, Madison Keys/USA, Coco Vandeweghe/USA, Monica Puig/PUR & Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor/ESP
...the ranks of the teen and/or young twentysomething "First-Time Champions Not Named Sloane" Club gets bigger and bigger. It's almost as big as the Genie Army.
=============================

"Best friend on tour? I don’t have one. I don’t think the tennis tour is the place to have friends. For me, it’s all competition." - Eugenie Bouchard

**RISERS**

1. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
2. Simona Halep, ROU
3. ROU Fed Cup Team
4. Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
5. Angelique Kerber, GER

6. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
7. Caroline Garcia, FRA
8. Alize Cornet, FR
9. FRA Fed Cup Team
10. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP

11. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
12. POL Fed Cup Team
13. CAN Fed Cup Team
14. Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
15. Aga Radwanska, POL
16. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
17. Alison Riske, USA
18. Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
19. Kiki Bertens, NED
20. Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Jung-Jan, TPE/TPE
HM- NED & SUI Fed Cup Teams

"For three years I've been playing in Strasbourg, they just don't like me there. I don't know how it can be possible, but apparently, they just don't like me." - Alize Cornet

**FRESH FACES**

1. Madison Keys, USA
2. Belinda Bencic, SUI
3. Anna Schmiedlova, SVK

4. Donna Vekic, CRO
5. Taylor Townsend, USA
6. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
7. Coco Vandeweghe, USA
8. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
9. Camila Giorgi, ITA
10. Lauren Davis, USA
11. Jana Cepelova, SVK
12. Monica Puig, PUR

13. Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
14. Kurumi Nara, JPN
15. Zarina Diyas, KAZ
16. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
17. Vicky Duval, USA
18. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
19. Elina Svitolina, UKR
20. Ana Konjuh, CRO
21. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
22. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
23. Grace Min, USA
24. Chan Hao-Ching, TPE
25. Danielle Collins, Univ. of Virginia (NCAA)

"She's going to be even better as she continues to play. I see wonderful things for her." - Venus Williams, after losing to Anna Schmiedlova at Roland Garros

**JUNIORS**
1. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
2. Darya Kasatkina, RUS

3. CiCi Bellis, USA
4. Kristina Schmiedlova, SVK
5. Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
6. Paula Badosa Gibert, ESP
7. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, ESP
8. Ivana Jorovic, SRB
9. Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
10. Katie Boulter, GBR
11. Irina Shymanovich, BLR
12. Francoise Abanda, CAN
13. Fiona Ferro, FRA

14. Nina Stojanovic, SRB
15. Naiktha Bains, AUS
HM- Tornado Alicia Black, USA

**SURPRISES**
1. Tereza Smitkova, CZE
2. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
3. Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
4. Jovana Jaksic, SRB
5. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
6. Lyudmyla Kichenkok & Nadiya Kichenok, UKR/UKR

7. Danka Kovinic, MNE
8. Paula Ormaechea, ARG
9. Paula Kania, POL
10. Naomi Broady, GBR
11. Andreea Mitu, ROU
12. Stephanie Vogt, LIE
13. Sofia Shapatava, GEO
14. Tatiana Bua & Daniela Seguel, ARG/CHI
15. Cagla Buykakcay, TUR
HM- Tami Grende & Qui Yu Ye, INA/CHN

"I'm not looking for anyone to believe in me or anything like that. You have to believe in yourself these days. I have nothing to prove, nothing to hide, nothing to lose." - Venus Williams

**VETERANS**
1. Maria Sharapova, RUS
2. Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA

3. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
4. Lucie Safarova, CZE
5. Serena Williams, USA
6. Sara Errani, ITA
7. Venus Williams, USA
8. Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik, CZE/SLO
9. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
10. Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears, USA/USA
11. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
12. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
13. Klara Koukalova, CZE
14. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
15. SWE Fed Cup Team
16. Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Yaroslava Shvedova, ESP/KAZ
17. Cara Black & Sania Mirza, ZIM/IND
18. Vania King, USA
19. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
20. Martina Hingis, SUI

**COMEBACKS**
1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Andrea Petkovic, GER
3. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE

4. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
5. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
6. Heather Watson, GBR
7. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
8. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
9. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
10. Michaella Krajicek, NED
HM- Jarmila Gajdosova, SVK & Maria Kirilenko, RUS

"My first few months I don’t think has been great at all. I haven’t gotten past the 4th Round of a grand slam this year. I have a couple words to describe it, but I think that would be really inappropriate, so I’m going to leave it at that." - Serena Williams, after her 2nd Round loss at Roland Garros, but before her 3rd Round loss at Wimbledon

**DOWN**

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. SRB Fed Cup Team
3. SVK Fed Cup Team
4. Sloane Stephens, USA
5. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
6. Karin Knapp, ITA
7. USA Fed Cup Team
8. Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
9. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
10. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
11. Li Na, CHN
12. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
13. Aga Radwanska, POL
14. Sabine Lisicki, GER
15. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
HM- Laura Robson, GBR

"You cannot lose a match like this. I'm really an idiot." - Flavia Pennetta, following her 2nd Round loss at Wimbledon

**ITF PLAYERS**
1. Denisa Allertova, CZE
2. Heather Watson, GBR
3. Taylor Townsend, USA

4. Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
5. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
6. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
7. Elise Mertens, BEL
8. Ana Sofia Sanchez, MEX
9. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
10. Nadia Podoroska, ARG
11. Patricia Maria Tig, ROU
12. Ipek Soylu, TUR
13. Sharon Fichman, CAN
14. Maria Sakkari, GRE
15. Zhu Lin, CHN
16. Elena-Teodora Cadar, ROU
17. Katerina Stewart, USA
18. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
19. Polina Leykina, RUS
20. Wang Qiang, CHN

*FED CUP*
1. Angelique Kerber, GER
2. Caroline Garcia, FRA
3. Aga Radwanska, POL

4. Petra Kvitova, CZE
5. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
6. Andrea Petkovic, GER
7. Kiki Bertens, NED
8. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
9. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
10. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
11. Lucie Safarova, CZE
12. Johanna Larsson, SWE
13. Sofia Shapatava, GEO
14. Stephanie Vogt, LIE
15. Alicja Rosolska, POL



"It’s my second title, so I hope that now it's going to be a little easier for me." - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova

**TOP PERFORMANCES**

#1 -Petra Kvitova puts to rest her lingering troubles since winning Wimbledon in '11, blasting Genie Bouchard 6-3/6-0 in the final to become the eighth woman in the Open era with multiple SW19 title runs. With just three games lost in the 55-minutes match, the Czech's victory is the most lopsided Wimbledon final in twenty-two years.
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#2 -Maria Sharapova once again proves to be the best clay court player on the WTA tour, reaching her third straight Roland Garros final and taking her second title in Paris, closing out her run by winning four straight three-set matches (the first three after dropping the opening set) en route to the title

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3 -Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci win their first Wimbledon title, becoming the sixth duo to complete a Career Doubles Slam. The Italians had saved six match points in their 3rd Round match against Lyudmyla & Nadiya Kichenok.

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#4 - In South Carolina, the U.S. state where her father once played college tennis, Andrea Petkovic wins the biggest title of her career in Charleston. Unfortunately, she didn't dance the ACTUAL Charleston in celebration. Oh, well... maybe next year?
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#5 -Maria Sharapova wins Madrid, defeating two Top 5 players (Aga Radwanska and, in a final that would be a preview of RG championship match, Simona Halep)
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#6 -Despite her slam difficulties, Serena Williams has managed to be a dominant force in regular WTA events. Her tour-leading third title of the season came in a defense of her Rome crown. It was an event at which she entered with an injury question hanging over her head, but she played without a leg wrap and exited having lost just one set in five matches (never allowing more than three games in any of the ten sets she won).
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#7 - Angelique Kerber personally leads the Germans past Australia, demolishing Casey Dellacqua and getting her first career win over Sam Stosur to send Germany to the Fed Cup final for the first time since 1992

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#8 -Ana Ivanovic wins her first career grass court title in Birmingham, becoming the only player in 2014 to reach singles finals on three different surfaces

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#9 - Caroline Garcia sweeps the Bogota singles and doubles for her first career WTA titles, becoming the first woman to win both titles in an event since the '12 Olympics (Serena). Then...
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#10 - Garcia follows up, in her FC debut, by having a hand in all three points in France's take down of the Americans in Fed Cup play in St.Louis
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#11 -Coco Vandeweghe ('s-Hertogenbosch) and Madison Keys (Eastbourne) win their maiden tour titles on the same weekend, becoming the first U.S.-born women to win titles in the same week since 1999. Keys notched two Top 10 wins, defeated the defending champion and lost just one set all week. Vandeweghe qualified and served 81 total aces for the week, losing just two sets and winning 27-of-28 1st serve points in the final.
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#12 - Alize Cornet defeats Aga Radwanska to reach the Katowice final, then saves match point there against Camila Giorgi en route to the title
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#13 - Aga Radwanska loses a total of fifteen games as she accounts for all three of Poland's points against Spain to send the Poles to the World Group in 2015. With 41 career FC singles/doubles wins, A-Rad has now won 14 straight singles matches while playing for her country.
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#14 - Maria Sharapova achieves the first "three-peat" of her career by once again defending her Stuttgart title, notching a tour singles title for the twelfth straight season
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#15 - Eugenie Bouchard wins her first title on the clay in Nurnberg, becoming just the second Canadian woman in the last twenty-six years to claim a tour singles crown
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#16 - Ana Ivanovic wins Monterrey (in the first-ever all-Serb WTA singles final vs. Jovana Jaksic), grabbing her second title in a single season quicker than she ever has in her career
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#17 - Donna Vekic wins her first career title in Kuala Lumpur, coming back from a set down three times and getting her first career Top 10 win (def. Cibulkova) in the final. The Croat is the youngest singles champion on tour since 2006 (Vania King).
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#18 - Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai win their first Roland Garros title
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#19 - In her sixth career final, Carla Suarez-Navarro finally wins her first tour singles final in Oeiras.
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#20 - Monica Puig wins Strasbourg, becoming the first Puerto Rican to win a WTA singles title. #PicaPower
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HM - Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor becomes the second 21-or-under Spaniard (Muguruza) to become a first-time champion in 2014, winning in Marrakech
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"It's amazing to do this coming from such a small island, where tennis isn't necessarily recognized as one of the main sports. But all of the athletes there always represent their country as best they can, and I'm just happy I'm able to be here playing tennis not only for myself, but for my country, too." - Monica Puig, after winning Strasbourg

[ITF+]
Talk about a good, and long, day. Thanks to weather delays, Taylor Townsend's final Sunday at the $50K challenger in Indian Harbor Beach included two singles matches and two doubles matches. She saved two match points against Anett Kontaveit in the singles semis to clinch the USTA's wild card berth in the Roland Garros main draw (her slam MD debut), then went on to defeat Yulia Putintseva in the final to win her second career ITF singles crown one week after having grabbed her first. But she wasn't finished. Townsend and Asia Muhammad then combined to claim both semifinal and final match wins to also claim the second of back-to-back doubles titles, giving the Bannerette, in the span of eight days, her first four professional titles and a ticket to play to Paris. Townsend advanced to the 3rd Round at RG, becoming the youngest American to advance so far in the event in eleven years.

[Juniors]
Darya Kasatkina sweeps the Roland Garros girls singles and doubles titles, becoming the second Russian to do so at a slam this season, after Elizaveta Kulichkova did the same at the Australian Open
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Jelena Ostapenko wins the Wimbledon girls singles, becoming the first Latvian to win a slam junior crown


[Team]

The Czech Fed Cup team power over the Italians in the semifinals to reach the nation's third FC final in four years
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UCLA wins the women's NCAA team championship


[Team Captain]
French Fed Cup captain Amelie Mauresmo, for running circles around U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez even while having one and a half hands tied behind her back (2013 French #1 Bartoli is retired, Mladenovic was out injured and Cornet was hurt during her match on Day 1).


[Non-Winning]
Jana Cepelova, in Charleston without a coach or trainer and nursing shoulder and leg injuries, upsets Serena Williams and rides her fighting spirit all the way to her first career WTA singles final

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Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard continue their dual, step-by-step mastery of the grand slams. After Bouchard opened the year with a semifinal at the Australian Open, both reached the semifinals at Roland Garros, with Halep advancing to her first major final. They met in the Wimbledon semifinals, with the Canadian winning to become the first man or woman from her nation to play in a slam singles final. With 16 and 15 wins, respectively, Bouchard and Halep have the most slam match victories on tour in 2014.
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Andrea Petkovic (RG) and Lucie Safarova (Wimb) post career-best semifinal results as grand slams
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Sara Errani reaches the Rome final, becoming the first Italian woman to do so since Raffaella Reggi won the event in 1985, two years before Errani was born.

[Wheelchair]
Yui Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley win the WC doubles at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Along with their Australian Open title, they're three-quarters of the way to a calendar Grand Slam. 20-year old #1 ranked Kamiji has won four of the five WC slam competitions played this season, and reached the AO singles final in the fifth.


[On Another Level]

Vicky Duval, after receiving an early diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma after winning in the opening round of Wimbledon qualifying, decided to continue to play the event. She won two more matches to reach the main draw, where she picked up another match victory before losing in the 2nd Round to Belinda Bencic.


"I have experienced many things over the last few months. I have made lots of progress. I have lived through many emotions. Today it probably was a bit too much for me. I'm going to take as much as I can from this experience." - Caroline Garcia, following her disappointing 6-1/6-3 1st Round loss to Ana Ivanovic at Roland Garros

*2Q MATCHES ON THE MIND*
Wimbledon 4th Rd. - Angelique Kerber d. Maria Sharapova
...7-6(4)/4-6/6-4.
The German stares into the Sharapova light and lives to tell the tale. Keeping her error total low in a match filled with hard-hitting rallies, Kerber's defense forces Sharapova into errors as she tries to do more in order to wrestle away points. Kerber held off a Sharapova comeback from 4-2 in the 1st that forced a tie-break, then another after the Russian had saved a match point in the 3rd at 5-3 and threatened to pull another of her patented "lean-in-at-the-finish-line" victories when she got a break to get things back on serve at 5-4. Finally, on MP #7, Kerber ends Sharapova 11-match winning streak in three-setters as Sharapova still hasn't come back from a set down to win at Wimbledon since her title there a decade ago. The last time she did it? In the '04 semifinals vs. Lindsay Davenport.
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Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Petra Kvitova d. Venus Williams
...5-7/7-6(2)/7-5.
In 2:30, a fitting "Cool Classic" that was the first match-up on grass between two woman who, by the end of the tournament, would have won the title at SW19 a combined seven times in the last fifteen years, and five in the last ten. Only three break points were carved out in the match: Venus saved one to hold in the first game of the match, then converted the second to take the 1st set before Kvitova finished things off with a break to win the match. Williams came within two points of the match in the 2nd set, but five errors in the tie-break prevented what could have been a story for the ages from spinning into reality (as Venus lost in the third straight slam in a match in which she'd won the opening set), and instead provided a follow-up chapter in the Wimbledon career of perhaps the next dominant SW19 champion in Kvitova, who'd go on to claim her second championship at the All-England club.

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Fed Cup World Group PO - Madison Keys/USA d. Alize Cornet/FRA
...6-7(4)/7-6(4)/6-3.
Keys learned the lesson that never giving up sometimes pays off in the end. After putting up an unsuccessful fight in the hour-long 1st set (breaking Cornet when she served for the set) and dropping an equally frustrating battle against the Pastry in Game #4 of the 2nd (it ended with a 14-minute Cornet service hold for 3-1), Keys could have thrown in the towel. It she had, she'd have missed out on the always-dramatic Cornet slowing down while experiencing leg cramps that turned her service games into an adventure. Unable to push off, the Pastry threw in three DF to break herself for 3-3, yet still was able to right back enough to manage to keep the set even up until 4-4 in the 2nd set tie-break. Keys stayed with it and took the TB, then grabbed a two-break lead in the 3rd. Cornet twice cut the double-break advantage in half, but Keys held firm -- mentally and physically -- long enough to notch her first career FC singles win and keep the U.S. hopes alive at the end of Day 1. Keys went on to learn from the whole experience, picking up her first title in Eastbourne as she began to look more and more like the equal (at worst) to Sloane Stephens when it comes to career prospects.
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Roland Garros Final - Maria Sharapova d. Simona Halep
...6-4/6-7(5)/6-4.
In her third straight RG final, Sharapova wins her second title against the first Romanian to reach a major final since 1980. In the first three-set final in Paris since 2001, Sharapova's forehand ruled the day as she locked away her 20th consecutive three-set match win on clay in 3:00. Afterward, the Russian said it was the most competitive and "best" grand slam final in which she's ever played.
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Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Alize Cornet d. Serena Williams
...1-6/6-3/6-4
After winning five straight games to take the 1st set after a rain delay, Williams' game went awry as Cornet's came into focus. The Pastry won the first five games of the 2nd and, on her second attempt in the 3rd, served out the match with a love game... just how her win over Williams in Dubai earlier this year wrapped up. Cornet had been 0-20 in grand slam vs. Top 20 players, while Serena had lost before the Round of 16 at Wimbledon just twice before, in 2005 and in her 1998 debut.
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Stuttgart 1st Rd. - Maria Sharapova d. Lucie Safarova
...7-6(5)/6-7(5)/7-6(2).
Sharapova's Stuttgart title run almost never happened, as Safarova, as she did with Li Na in Melbourne, once again nearly got the upset, only to actually provide the fuel for an eventual champion's fire. Safarova erased Sharapova's 5-1 3rd set lead, saving three match points before sending the match to a deciding tie-break. The Russian won in 7-2, getting her footing on dirt in preparation for yet another spring EuroClay campaign that ended with a Roland Garros title.
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Charleston SF - Jana Cepelova d. Belinda Bencic
...6-4/5-7/7-6(7).
A NextGen instant classic, as Bencic raced to a 5-1 2nd set lead, only to see Cepelova knot things at 5-5 and force the Swiss teen to take six set points to send things to a 3rd. There, Cepelova overcame an early break to hold a match point at 5-4. Bencic forced another tie-break, taking a 4-1 lead before the Slovak provided the final comeback of the 2:35 match by winning on her fourth match point.
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Charleston SF - Andrea Petkovic d. Eugenie Bouchard
...1-6/6-3/7-5.
The match before Petko's Sunday triumph turned in Game #6 of the 2nd set, with Bouchard looking to add a break advantage to her 6-1/3-2 lead. The German saved three break points and held for 3-3, then a game later grabbed a 40/love lead on the Canadian's serve, getting the break on her fourth BP of the game to end a 0-for-7 drought in the match. Petkovic finished off four straight games to take the 2nd set, then overcame a 4-2 3rd set deficit and got to match point at 5-4 on Bouchard's serve. Bouchard saved it and held, setting up a potential Petkovic last minute collapse. But it didn't happen. Petkovic held and then broke the Canadian a game later to reach the final.
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Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Taylor Townsend d. Alize Cornet
...6-4/4-6/6-4.
Against a French crowd and vs. a drama-loving Pastry, the American wild card combines powerful groundstrokes with a hint of variety to grab a two-break lead in the 2nd, only to see Cornet force a 3rd set. Townsend went up a double break there, as well, only to see a 5-1 lead shrink to 5-4 after she failed to convert on four MP in game #7. The 18-year old finally holds to win, becoming the youngest Bannerette to reach the RG 3rd Round since Ashley Harkleroad in 2003.
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Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Tereza Smitkova d. Bojana Jovanovski
...4-6/7-6(5)/10-8.
The Czech qualifier pulls out the 2:53, back-and-forth match against BoJo. Jovanovski had a MP at 6-5 in the 2nd, then overturned Smitkova's 4-2 lead in the 3rd and served for the match at 6-5 and 7-6, holding another MP. Smitkova held three MP of her own at 8-7, finally winning on #5 two games later.
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Charleston 3rd Rd. - Eugenie Bouchard d. Venus Williams
...7-6(6)/2-6/6-4.
In a multi-generational, multi-North American nation match-up in the U.S. South, Bouchard saved two set points in the 1st set tie-break after Venus had overcome an early 4-2 deficit. In the end, it turned out to be the most important moment of the match.
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Kuala Lumpur Final - Donna Vekic d. Dominika Cibulkova
...5-7/7-5/7-6(4).
Vekic fumbled her 4-2 lead and dropped the 1st set, then fell behind Cibulkova 7-5/5-4. But the Croat didn't go away quietly, taking the 2nd and then going up 4-0 and 5-1 in the 3rd. She held four MP at 5-2, but the Slovak pushed things to a tie-break, where Vekic won on MP #7, closing out the 2:51 match to claim her first career title.

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Eastbourne Final - Madison Keys d. Angelique Kerber
...6-3/3-6/7-5.
With 17 aces, Keys becomes the latest first-time title winner from North America not named Sloane, showing how much she learned in that FC match against Cornet by outlasting the German and claiming the most important points down the stretch, finally winning on her fourth MP.
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Fed Cup World Group PO - Sorana Cirstea/ROU d. Bojana Jovanovski/SRB
...6-3/6-7(7)/6-3.
With Bojo looking to force things to the deciding doubles, Cirstea led 6-3/5-2 and failed to put away three MP (double-faulting on one), then lost a 2nd set tie-break that saw the server lose thirteen of sixteen points. The two and a half hour match ended when Cirstea finally put away MP #6, clinching Romania's advancement and Serbia's fifth straight lost FC tie.
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Fed Cup World Group II - Kiki Bertens/NED d. Kurumi Nara/JPN
...7-6(5)/4-6/9-7.
In the 3:00 match, the second long FC match lost by Nara this season (a 3:39 defeat vs. Irigoyen in February), Bertens turned the tie in the Dutch team's favor in Match #3, overcoming a 3-1 3rd set deficit to win in 3:00 on her fifth MP.
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Madrid 2nd Rd. - Aga Radwanska d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
...6-3/4-6/7-6(6).
Kuznetsova led 4-1 in the 3rd, but Radwanska served for the match at 5-4. Kuznetsova held three MP in the TB at 6-3, only to see A-Rad end the match on a five-point winning streak.
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Fed Cup SF - Angelique Kerber/GER d. Samantha Stosur/AUS
...4-6/6-0/6-4.
Stosur was aggressive and on fire early, taking the 1st set. But Kerber rebounded with even more verve, bageling the Aussie in the 2nd and racing to her first victory in three tries against Stosur to clinch Germany's first FC final appearance since 1992.
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Birmingham 2nd Rd. - Kimiko Date-Krumm d Monica Puig
...2-6/6-4/9-7(7).
KDK saved a MP at 6-5 in 3rd, then another in the TB after Puig had also saved three MP. Finanlly, the 43-year old wins on her fourth.
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Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Coco Vandweghe d. Garbine Muguruza
...6-3/3-6/7-5.
Fresh off her title in the Netherlands, Vandeweghe fires 15 aces. After failing to put away any of four MP at 5-4 in the 3rd, Coco needs nine MORE at 6-5 to finally get the win. After being 2-of-23 on break points in the match, Vandeweghe gets a gift -- two, in fact -- as the Spaniard ends the match with back-to-back double-faults.
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[Memorable Idol-vs.-Fan Ending]
Charleston 1st Rd. - Belinda Bencic d. Maria Kirilenko
...6-1/7-5.
In her first match of 2014, Kirilenko fell down 6-1/5-2, 40/love against the Swiss teen who admitted she'd grown up with a poster of the Russian on her wall. Perhaps not wanting to leave her fan with a bad impression of her, Kirilenko saved six match points to get to 5-5 and even held a break point to take the lead. Bencic still won in straights, but she's stretched the 2nd set out to 1:22. Whew... no fallen idols here.

[Memorable Swiss Daughter-vs.-Swiss Pupil]
Wimbledon Mixed Doubles 3rd Rd. - Hingis/Soares d. Bencic/Klizan
...6-3/5-7/9-7.
Original Swiss Miss Hingis faces off with New Swiss Miss Bencic, coached by Hingis' mom, Melanie Molitor, who also coached Hingis when she was the #1 player in the world. "Old school" takes the classroom. Barely.

[The Storm Before the Calm]
Rome 2nd Rd. - Zhang Shuai d. Petra Kvitova
...7-6(6)/5-7/6-3.
Not long before her triumph at Wimbledon, Kvitova was up to her old, "Oh, Petra" tricks. She led 4-0 in the 1st, only to see Zhang hold a set point at 5-4. In the tie-break, the Czech led 3-1 and held two SP of her own before losing 8-6. In the 2nd set, Kvitova charged back from 4-2 down to knot the match after Zhang served for the victory at 5-4. In the deciding 3rd, the Chinese woman led 3-0, saw Kvitova tied things at 3-3, then Zhang won the final three games to take the victory. Whew! Kvitova is often breathtaking... in her losses, as well as her wins.
Roland Garros 3rd Rd. - Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Petra Kvitova
...6-7(3)/6-1/9-7.
In a 3:13 match, Kvitova loses a 3-1 lead in the 3rd, but serves for the match at 5-4. She can't put it away, and Kuznetsova holds two MP at 6-5. Kvitova served for the match again at 7-6, but once more is broken. Kuznetsova breaks again -- at love -- to end the match two games later. Who knew what would come Kvitova's way a month later? The only REAL clue might have been...

[The Dust-Up Before the SW19 Domination]
Eastbourne 1st Rd. - Petra Kvitova d. Lucie Safarova
...6-1/5-7/7-6(4).
In a preview of the Wimbledon semifinals, Kvitova serves at 6-1/5-4 and holds MP, but Safarova forces a deciding 3rd set. Kvitova led 3-1 there, served at 6-5 and held two more MP, but was forced to a TB. Down 4-2, Kvitova won the last five points to advance. And the rest is history. Kvitova won in straights over Varvara Lepchenko the next round, then withdrew with a hamstring injury. Two and a half weeks later, she was Wimbledon champion once again. Sometimes the path to a grand slam title is a strange on. Oh, Petra!

[JJ On Clay...for a set]
Roland Garros 4th Rd. - Sara Errani d. Jelena Jankovic
...7-6(5)/6-2.
In an opening set that lasted 1:21 and was filled with more rallies than you -- or Jelena -- could wag a finger at, the Serb battled back from a 4-1 hole and twice served for the set, holding a set point at 6-5 before Errani's defense and drop shot-heavy game plan seized control of the set, and then the match.

[The Incomplete Almost-Classic]
Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Yaroslava Shvedova d. Madison Keys
...7-6(7)/6-6(0) ret.
Keys, still on a roll after her Eastbourne title, kept Shvedova from serving out the 1st set, then had four set points in the TB before the Kazakh won it 9-7. Late in the evening, with darkness overtaking the AELTC, an injured Keys broke for a 6-5 lead, then called for the trainers to treat her leg. Trying to hold and knot the match, the American's compromised movement led to her being broken and a TB being necessary. The match was then called for the night on the middle Saturday, setting up a classic and dramatic re-start on Monday... but it never happened, as Keys pulled out of the tournament due to the injury. Drat.

[The Best... and the Worst]
Wimbledon 4th Rd. - Ekaterina Makarova d. Aga Radwanska
...6-3/6-0.
Radwanska, trying to erase the memory of her '13 SW19 semifinal collapse at her favorite tournament, took a 3-2 over the Russian... and then never won win another game, double-faulting on set point in the 1st, and then being forced to think about her disastrous performance when the match was delayed due to rain with Makaraova leading 5-0 in the 2nd. Makarova played great, spotless tennis. But, really, Radwanska's play was so bad the Hordette probably would have won handily even while playing her "C" or "D" game.

*COMEBACK-BACK-BACK-BACK...*
Wimbledon Doubles 3rd Rd. - Errani/Vinci d. L.Kichenok/N.Kichenok
...5-7/7-6(10)/6-1.
History turns on a single point. Well, six of them actually. The Kichenoks held six match points in the 2nd set tie-break, but Errani/Vinci fought them all off... then went on to win Wimbledon, completing the Career Doubles Slam and maybe carving out a Hall of Fame-worthy niche for themselves in the game's history.
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Stuttgart Final - Maria Sharapova d. Ana Ivanovic
...3-6/6-4/6-1.
AnaIvo led 6-3/3-1 and had a point for 4-1, only to give the break back. She even had a break point for 4-2 to immediately take the advantage back. But a Sharapova backhand winner saved it, then the Russian won eleven of the final thirteen games to notch her seventh straight win over the Serb and defend her Stuttgart crown yet again. AnaIvo would get some revenge with a win over Sharapova in Rome... but then the Russian would win Wimbledon, and the Serb would soon move on from yet another coach. Game, set, match, career... Maria.
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Katowice Final - Alize Cornet d. Camila Giorgi
...7-6(3)/5-7/7-5.
Cornet nearly made quick work of the Italian, leading 7-6/3-0, and then 5-3. But Giorgi took things to a 3rd set, and even held a match point for her first career title at 5-4 before the Pastry surged back to win in 3:11.
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Roland Garros QF - Eugenie Bouchard d. Carla Suarez-Navarro
...7-6(4)/2-6/7-5.
The second of Bouchard's three SF-or-better slam runs this season foreshadowed her "B"-game ride to the Wimbledon final, as she overcame CSN's 4-2 lead, with the Spaniard twice serving for the set and holding a SP, to take the 1st, then overturned another 4-1 deficit in the 3rd.

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Stuttgart 1st Rd. - Jelena Jankovic d. Mona Barthel
...2-6/7-6(8)/6-3.
Barthel led 6-2/3-1, but lost the lead and saw Jankovic get to 5-4. Barthel saved six set points, finally breaking JJ on the fourth BP of the game, then took a 6-2 lead in the 2nd set tie-break. Jankovic saved the four match points, then took the 3rd set to send the German packing.
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Oeiras Final - Carla Suarez-Navarro d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
...6-4/3-6/6-3.
No one said winning a title would be easy. In her sixth career final, CSN had to come back from 4-1 down in the final set before finally getting to lift her maiden singles trophy.
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Monterrey 2nd Rd. - Jovana Jaksic d. Luksika Kumkhum
...3-6/7-6(5)/7-6(2).
En route to her surprise first WTA final, Jaksic saved three match points at 5-4 in the 2nd.
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Wimbledon Doubles 2nd Rd. - Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova d. Black/Mirza
...2-6/7-6(7)/6-4.
Black & Mirza looked as if they were going to win in straight sets, but the Russian/Czech pair saved five match points at 5-4 in the 2nd, then four more in the tie-break to force a 3rd set. Then, in the deciding stanza, Pavlyuchenkova & Safarova came back from an early break down at 2-1 to win.
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Strasbourg Doubles Final - Barty/Dellacqua d. Bua/Seguel
...4-6/7-5 [10-4].
Down 6-4/5-1, the Aussies saved 3 match points and claimed their first clay court title.
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Wimbledon 2nd Rd. - Dominika Cibulkova d. Alison Van Uytvanck
...6-3/3-6/8-6.
The Belgian led 5-2 in the 3rd before the Slovak took six of the final seven games to advance.
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Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Garbine Muguruza d. Grace Min
...7-5/7-6(6).
Min led 4-2 in the 1st set, serving at 5-4 and holding a set point. She led 4-1 in the 2nd, too. Still, Garbi, in Bouchardesque fashion, won in straight sets.
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[Peng Taketh, and Peng Giveth Away]
Charleston 2nd Rd. - Peng Shuai d. Madison Keys 6-1/6-7(3)/7-6(4)
Charleston 3rd Rd. - Sara Errani d. Peng Shuai 7-6(6)/7-6(5)
...
Peng survived vs. Keys despite giving up a 6-1/5-1 lead, then losing a 4-1 advantage in the 3rd, as well. But, have no fear, the most hard-luck singles player on tour (a WTA-worst 0-6 in career finals), Peng failed to take a set in her next match vs. Errani although she held set points at 6-5 in both the 1st and 2nd sets.

[Special Fed Cup Mention]
On the road in St.Louis, the French Fed Cup team erases a 2-1 deficit against the U.S. as Caroline Garcia collects two points on Sunday, one in singles and the other in the deciding doubles (w/ very nervous vet Virginie Razzano) when the American team had no established doubles players on the roster to call upon if the tie came down to a final match. Another good call, MJF.

"I'm sad my streak is broken. But obviously there's nothing I can do. It feels like the end of the world now, but fortunately it's not." - Sloane Stephens, after her 1st Round loss to Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon ended her streak of six straight slam Round of 16-or-better results

*YOU CAN'T SPELL "CHOKING" WITHOUT "C-H-O-K-E"... well, maybe you can*
Katowice SF - Alize Cornet d. Agnieszka Radwanska
...0-6/6-2/6-4.
The perfect example of the "Bad Aga" that we've seen since the 2013 Wimbledon SF. Radwanska had gone 6-for-6 in sets vs. Cornet before this match, then took the 1st set at love. She led 3-0 in the 3rd, too, and was a point away from 4-0. Still, she lost, and still has yet to reach a tour final in Poland.
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Fed Cup World Group PO - Aleksandra Wozniak/CAN d. Jana Cepelova/SVK 4-6/7-5/7-5
Fed Cup World Group: Eugenie Bouchard/CAN d. Jana Cepelova/SVK 7-6(6)/6-3
...
with Cibulkova and Hantuchova absent, Charleston finalist Cepelova was forced to assume the lead role for the Slovaks. She put up an early fight in both her matches, only to crumble badly down the stretch. Against Wozniak, she led 6-4/5-2 and served at 5-3, then led 3-1 and served at 5-3 in the 3rd. Against Bouchard, she led 5-3 in the 1st and had a set point at 6-5. Still, she went 0-2 for the weekend and hasn't yet found a way to pull out of her post-Charleston tailspin.
=============================
Oeiras QF - Elena Vesnina d. Roberta Vinci
...7-6(5)/4-6/7-5
Even at the end of her best week of results all season, Vinci went down badly, leading 5-2 in the 3rd and twice serving for the match in this 2:40 loss.
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Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Carla Suarez-Navarro d. Yuliya Beygelzimer
...7-5/7-5.
Beygelizmer led 4-1 and 5-2 in the 1st, serving at 5-4, then 4-0 in the 2nd, including holding a set point at 5-4. The Ukrainian is 0-9 in grand slam main draw play.
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Madrid 2nd Rd. - Maria Sharapova d. Christina McHale 6-1/4-6/6-4
Strasbourg SF - Siliva Soler-Espinosa d. Christina McHale 5-7/7-6(7)/6-3
...
McHale still has trouble closing out matches. She led 4-1 in the 3rd against Sharapova, then served at 7-5/5-3 against SSE and led 5-1 in the 2nd set TB, holding a match point.
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Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Karolina Pliskova d. Karin Knapp
...6-7(4)/6-4/10-8.
Where has the 2013 Wimbledon Round of 16 and 2014 Fed Cup 1st Round star Knapp wandered off to? The Italian led 5-2 in the 3rd before losing the set at 10-8 in another example of her continued search for "the missing link" to her M.I.A. success.
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Birmingham Doubles 1st Rd. - Barty d. Dellacqua d. Babos/Mladenovic 5-7/7-6(3)/12-10
Netherlands Doubles Final - Erakovic/Parra-Santonja d. Krajicek/Mladenovic 0-6/7-6(5)/10-8
...
the Mladenovic Magic was lost in the blades early in the grass court season, as Kiki and Babos lost a 7-5/4-2 lead and held three MP in a 1st Round exit in Birmingham, then she and Krajicek had three more MP after leading 6-0/5-2 in a loss in 's-Hertogenbosch. The ol' MM was rediscovered, for a while, at Wimbledon as Mladenovic reached the Women's Doubles final and Mixed semis at the All-England Club.
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[Special Dishonorable Mention]
With a second 2014 loss (this one to Romania), the Serbian Fed Cup team has now lost five straight ties since reaching the 2012 final. The nation will find itself back in zone play to start 2015. In such a case, it might be wise to carry along a "Serbian Good Luck Charm. I'm just sayin'.


"Before I felt very small, but today I thought, 'I’m not going to feel very small.'" - "big" Garbine Muguruza after defeating Serena Williams, her favorite player as a child, at Roland Garros
"Since I was a child, I thought, 'Oh, I want to play against Serena on center court.' And today was the day, and I think I did very good." - Muguruza

*PUTTING THE "UP" in UPSETS*
Charleston 2nd Rd. - Jana Cepelova d. Serena Williams
...6-4/6-4.
Falling behind 5-0, and playing with a wrapped thigh, Serena wasn't quite up to par. But the 20-year old Slovak surely was. She gathered up the momentum gained here and reached her first career final... even if her results have totally fallen off the table ever since. Cepelova has gone 1-10 since reaching the Charleston final.
=============================

Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Garbine Muguruza d. Serena Williams 6-2/6-2
Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Anna Schmiedlova d. Venus Williams 2-6/6-3/6-4
...
sixty-three minutes apart, both Serena and Venus are sent packing in Paris, as the Sisters lose on the same day at a slam for the fourth time. In a particularly bad outing, Serena had her worst slam loss ever, claiming just four games, winning only 55% of her 1st serves and putting up a paltry eight winners to twenty-nine unforced errors. Venus lost eight of nine games after taking a 6-2/2-1 lead against Schmiedlova, who entered having never won back-to-back WTA main draw matches.
=============================
Roland Garros 1st Rd. - Kristina Mladenovic d. Li Na
...7-5/3-6/6-1.
Li is the fourth Australian Open champ to lose in the 1st Round in Paris in the Open era, but the first since 2000 and just the second in the last thirty-five years.

=============================
Fed Cup WG II PO - Sorana Cirstea/ROU d. Ana Ivanovic/SRB
...3-6/6-1/6-2.
Best friends or not, Cirstea put down AnaIvo in the opening match of the ROU/SRB tie, setting the tone for Serbia's fifth consecutive lost FC tie as well as Romania's 2015 attempt to reach the World Group by this time next year.
=============================
Monterrey 1st Rd. - Kimiko Date-Krumm d. Flavia Pennetta
...7-5/6-2.
Just weeks after Pennetta's Indian Wells triumph, KDK gets her eleventh Top 20 victory since her 2008 comeback.
=============================
Wimbledon 1st Rd. - Michelle Larcher de Brito d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
...3-6/6-3/6-1.
A year after knocking off Sharapova at SW19, qualifier MLdB moves on to kicking another slam-winning Hordette out the front gate at the AELTC.
=============================
Monterrey 1st Rd. - Jovana Jaksic d. Karin Knapp
...6-3/6-4.
Knapp has fallen down the rabbit hole since her February FC heroics. Meanwhile, this "JJ" -- not the other one -- ended up being one half of the first-ever all-Serbian WTA singles final. Hello, historical footnote.
=============================
Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova d. Li Na
...7-6(5)/7-6(5).
Bounced early at a second straight slam since winning the AO, Li sees BZS's match point overruled in the 2nd set tie-break, but then double-faults to end the Czech's 0-24 career run vs. Top 10 players. This turned out to be Li's last match with Carlos Rodriguez as her coach.
=============================

"Nobody say if you are #2 in the world, you have to win all the matches." - Li Na, following her 1st Round loss at Roland Garros

**By the Numbers...**
1... singles titles won by players ranked in the Top 3 at the last five slams ('13 U.S. Open - Serena Williams)
=============================
2... 2014 wins by Alize Cornet over Serena Williams
=============================
3... number of Czechs who reached the Wimbledon QF, the most ever.
=============================
3-0... score in the 1st set of the Williams Sisters' 2nd Round doubles match at Wimbledon against Kristina Barrois & Stefanie Voegele when the Sisters retired following a disoriented and uncoordinated Serena's four-straight-DF serve game.

=============================
1 & 2... career Top 5 wins by Eugenie Bouchard & Sloane Stephens
=============================
7 & 2... career Top 10 wins by Eugenie Bouchard & Sloane Stephens
=============================
12 & 5... career Top 20 wins by Eugenie Bouchard & Sloane Stephens
=============================
6-3... Serena Williams' 2014 slam match record
=============================
7... years since Ana Ivanovic had defeated Maria Sharapova before her 3rd Round win over the Russian in Rome. The loss was Sharapova's only loss in twenty clay court matches during the 2Q, and the only time she's lost on the surface to anyone other than Serena Williams over the last three years.
=============================
#7 (and #6)... all-time best Canadian WTA ranking obtained by Eugenie Bouchard after Wimbledon, though she's still behind Milos Raonic, who moved up to a career-best #6 in the ATP rankings following Wimbledon. Canadian-born Greg Rusedski climbed as high as #4 while representing Great Britain.

=============================
10 of 10... number of different women's singles finalists at the last five slams
=============================
19-1... Roland Garros champ Maria Sharapova's 2014 clay court record
=============================
24... consecutive failed slam qualifying attempts by Madison Brengle; the American is 0-for-27 in career attempts to qualify at the four majors
=============================
29-6... Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova's career record at the AELTC in grand slam and Olympic competition
=============================
32 & 16... total career tour singles won by all-time Russian leader Maria Sharapova, and the total claimed by the woman ranked #2 on the Hordette list (Elena Dementieva)
=============================
183... tour-leading number of consecutive weeks in the Top 10 by Victoria Azaranka, who is currently ranked #10, just 152 points ahead of #11 Ana Ivanovic, who hasn't been ranked in the Top 10 since June 2009
=============================
1985... year that the last Canadian woman (Carling Bassett) debuted in the WTA singles Top 10
=============================
1992... year that 2014 finalist Germany last appeared in the Fed Cup final

=============================
2012... the last time Vera Zvonareva won back-to-back tour matches -- since the London Olympics -- before her 3rd Round run as a wild card entry at Wimbledon
=============================

=THE GOOD...=

The shorts are back!!!

=THE BAD...=


=THE BAD RAD...=


=THE BADASSSSSS CARO...=

After...

=THE END=


=THE DYNMAMIC DUO (drowning Paris sorrows, South Beach style)=



=THE "Umm, hello, I hate to interrupt, but we must be going..."=


=THE PROPOSAL=


=THE PROPOSAL: THE SEQUEL=


=THE WEDDING... crasher=


=THE SHARAPOVA "NO KNOW?"=


=THE SHARAPOVA LOGO?=


=THE BOUCHARD ROBE..OH?=


=THE ANYWHERE YOU GO...=


=THE PAST?=


=THE NEW FUTURE?=
"She speaks the way she plays right now -- with great clarity. She knows what she's about. She's very comfortable, even though she doesn't have much experience in life terms. She's the real deal, isn't she?" - Pam Shriver, on Genie Bouchard

=THE NEAR FUTURE?=

As in "U.S. Open final match-up?"

=THE FIRST STEPS ON THE ENDORSEMENT MOON?=

...and by "moon," I'm not talking about any Bouchard flashing incidents. Other Canadians do that sort of thing. You know, like...

=and BIEBER, too=
"He's kind of been in trouble recently. I'm not associated with that at the moment. But, you know, if he cleans up his image." - Genie Bouchard, on dating Justin Bieber

=THE BEST SIGN=



=THE WORST SIGN???=

Still kidding!!

=ANSWERING THE HELP WANTED SIGN?=


=THE FINALLY HANGING THE "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS" SIGN=


=THE HARDLY UNEXPECTED=
Sloane Stephens parts ways with coach Paul Annacone after her worst slam result in eighteen months
=THE WORRISOME=
Li Na parts ways with coach Carlos Rodriguez after her second straight early slam exit following her AO win. How much longer will she be around?
=THE WHAT ARE YOU DOING?=
Ana Ivanovic parts ways with coach Nemanja Kontic after having the best results of her career since her RG-winning season of 2008

=THE ANYTHING AGA CAN DO, I CAN DO BETTER...by Venus W.=



=THE ARTFUL THRILL OF MUGURUZA VICTORY, AND THE AGONY OF PARMENTIER DEFEAT=


=THE ART OF THE CENTRE COURT RETURN OF "La Trufflette," ONE YEAR LATER=



=and THE ART OF BEING MARIA=





*2014 Weeks in Top 10*
[through 27 weeks]
27...Serena Williams, USA *
27...Li Na, CHN *
27...Petra Kvitova, CZE *
27...Agnieszka Radwanska, POL *
27...Maria Sharapova, RUS *
27...Angelique Kerber, GER *
27...Jelena Jankovic, SRB *
27...Victoria Azarenka, BLR *
24...Simona Halep, ROU *
14...Dominika Cibukova, SVK
12...Sara Errani, ITA
3...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
1...Eugenie Bouchard, CAN *
--
* - current Top 10

*Longest Active Streaks*
[Top 10]
198 weeks - Victoria Azarenka
171 weeks - Maria Sharapova
144 weeks - Agnieszka Radwanska
118 weeks - Serena Williams
112weeks - Angelique Kerber
100 weeks - Li Na
41 weeks - Petra Kvitova
40 weeks - Jelena Jankovic
24 weeks - Simona Halep
1 week - Eugenie Bouchard
[Top 20]
334 weeks - Agnieszka Radwanska
321 weeks - Victoria Azarenka
307 weeks - Caroline Wozniacki
274 weeks - Li Na
196 weeks - Maria Sharapova
180 weeks - Petra Kvitova
147 weeks - Serena Williams
127 weeks - Ana Ivanovic
125 weeks - Angelique Kerber
109 weeks - Sara Errani
76 weeks - Sloane Stephens
67 weeks - Jelena Jankovic
60 weeks - Carla Suarez-Navarro
45 weeks - Simona Halep
24 weeks - Dominika Cibulkova
24 weeks - Eugenie Bouchard
17 weeks - Flavia Pennetta
5 weeks - Andrea Petkovic
1 week - Ekaterina Makarova
1 week - Lucie Safarova



=and, unfortunately, the final goodbye=


Elena Baltacha 1983-2014


All for now.

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