Monday, September 28, 2015

Wk.38- The Land of the Rising Radwanska (and other Ms. Backspin race notes)

Summer is over. The chill in the air assures us that fall has arrived.

Could "Ms. Backspin" be far behind?

Well, I mean, we pretty much KNOW who THE "Ms. B" is going to be this year, Grand Slam or no Grand Slam. But the best part of the annual Backspin Player-of-the-Year list (at least in my opinion) is seeing where all the other contenders cross the finish line after nearly 50 weeks of action. I haven't done an update on the season's race since things wrapped up in Paris, so I thought I'd be a good moment for the last update before the real thing.

Here are the previous standings:

=2015 "Ms. Backspin" Updates=
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Simona Halep, ROU
3. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4. Martina Hingis, SUI
5. Andrea Petkovic, GER
6. French Fed Cup Team
7. Hingis/Mirza, SUI/IND
8. Maria Sharapova, RUS
9. German Fed Cup Team
10. Venus Williams
11. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
12. Sania Mirza, IND
13. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
14. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
15. Madison Keys, USA
HM - Russian & Czech Fed Cup Teams
Special Mention: Lucie Safarova, CZE
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3. Czech Fed Cup Team
4. Hingis/Mirza, SUI/IND
5. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
6. Simona Halep, ROU
7. Lucie Safarova, CZE
8. Maria Sharapova, RUS
9. Petra Kvitova, CZE
10. Babos/Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
HM- Karolina Pliskova, CZE

And here's how things stand as we dive into the final stretch of the 2015 season...

1. Serena Williams: The Divine Miss S's third win in four years was sewn up months ago.
2. Martina Hingis: And here just having Martina win a slam title of some kind in '15 seemed a "nice" season for her nine months ago. Who thought she'd become THE dominate doubles player on tour AGAIN (yet not even be ranked #1)? If she wants it, it would seem she could play and pick up slam trophies into her forties ala the other Martina, doesn't it?
3. Hingis/Mirza: Six titles, two slams, the top two spots in the rankings. And the season isn't over.
4. Simona Halep: Her "lock" on being the highest-standing singles players not named Serena on this list is now being threatened in the closing months by Kerber (and maybe Bencic with the right combination of results)... mostly because of Simona.
5. Angelique Kerber: Neither a lack of a great slam result or a Fed Cup title, nor even a Top 10 ranking, is enough to prevent the German from pushing for the second singles slot behind Serena. Four titles on four surfaces is enough for her to press the issue. A fifth title would really help her case, though.
6. Fed Cup Champs: This year's champs -- either the Maidens or Hordettes -- won't claim the "Ms. B" title as has happened twice before (the Italians in '09, and the Czechs last year), but depending on what happens in November the winners could rise as high as #2 or #3. Hard to believe, but the Russian Fed Cuppers have never won "Ms. Backspin" (only finishing as high as #8 in '08, when they won title #4 in six years).
7. Mattek-Sands/Safarova: they won the first two slams of the year, but Safarova's singles results might ultimately push her higher as an individual on this list (assuming she's able to be on the Fed Cup roster).
8. Belinda Bencic: If she'd won in Tokyo and entered the Top 10, she might stand at #5 or #6 right now. There's still time.
9. Lucie Safarova: the RG singles finalist is the only player ranked in the Top 5 in both singles and doubles, but she has just the one singles title in '15. She might need a competitive role in the FC final to move up, but with her health situation at the moment that isn't a given.
10. Petra Kvitova: A bad Wimbledon hurts her, but she still has Fed Cup (and those titles in Sydney, Madrid and New Haven).
11. Maria Sharapova: Remember when she reached the AO final and won in Rome? Remember?
12. Timea Bacsinszky: The Queen of Mexico has faded a bit down the stretch, but she's assured of a place on the list no matter what happens the rest of the way.
13. Flavia Pennetta: Ditto (especially since she keeps setting career ranking highs without playing).
14. Washington Kastles: And with this Hingis "sort of" makes her THIRD appearance on the list.
15. Garbine Muguruza: It'd be nice to see one more good result (a final, at least?) before the end of the year.

Chan/Chan, Jiske Griffioen, Griffioen/Van Koot, Kamiji/Whiley, Madison Keys, Karolina Pliskova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sania Mirza, Kristina Mladenovic, Aga Radwanska (just getting in at the last moment -- but still subject to removal), Anna Schmiedlova, Elina Svitolina, Roberta Vinci, Jordanne Whiley

(Of course, the nominee list could still expand or shrink by the end of the season.)

TOKYO, JAPAN [Toray Pan Pacific] (Premier $881K/HCO)
S: Aga Radwanska/POL def. Belinda Bencic/SUI 6-2/6-2
D: Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez-Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) 7-5/6-1

SEOUL, KOREA (Int'l $427K/HCO)
S: Irina-Camilia Begu/ROU def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR 6-3/6-1
D: Lara Arruabarrena/Andreja Klepac (ESP/SLO) d. Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE) 2-6/6-3 [10-6]

S: Jelena Jankovic/SRB def. Denisa Allertova/CZE 6-2/6-0
D: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND) d. Xu Shilin/You Xiaodi (CHN/CHN) 6-3/6-1

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Aga Radwanska/POL Aga back? We've had some tantalizing moments of hope -- most of them on the grass -- in recent months, but the Pole's no-sets-lost run in Tokyo is surely the most promising sign yet that Radwanska may just be able to lift herself back into the upper-tier WTA conversation. Aga's fifteenth career title, her second in Tokyo after winning there in 2011 and reaching three finals in five years, lifts her back into the Top 10 (hopefully for longer than the month-long stay after her Wimbledon SF result) and extends her seasons with a title streak to five. Better yet, Aga's wins in Tokyo were quite impressive: Coco Vandeweghe, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Dominika Cibulkova and Belinda Bencic, a virtual "who's who" of Rising Stars and a veteran on the comeback trail with her best result in a year and a half. Radwanska's long 187-week run in the Top 10 ended last spring, but after it looked as if she might have to soon begin to sweat out her tour-best string of weeks in the Top 20 this title should secure her spot well into 2016. The Pole is in the Top 20 for the 397th straight week as of Monday.

RISER: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU
...Simona Halep didn't have the sort of week she'd have liked in Guangzhou, but fellow Swarmette Begu had a great one in Seoul. The 25-year old claimed her second career tour singles title ('12 Tashkent) with a string of victories that included wins over Polona Hercog, Johanna Larsson, Alison Van Uytvanck and qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final, the fifth of the Romanian's WTA career. Begu last reached a tour final in Moscow last October, and carried over her late season momentum into '15. She began the season with a career-best slam run to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and has continued to show occasional flashes all year, including in Rio (SF), Charleston and Madrid (both QF) before a pair of 3rd Round results at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. She'll rise to a career-high #26 on Monday.

SURPRISE: Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR
...Belarus (and even Minsk) isn't just about Vika (or Olga, for that matter) anymore. 21-year old Belarusian Sasnovich became the second woman from her nation to reach a '15 WTA singles final this season with her stunning turn from qualifier to runner-up last week in Seoul. The Minsk native had never before reached a tour-level QF before last week, but wins over Alexandra Dulgheru, Magdalena Rybarikova, Sloane Stephens and Anna Schmiedlova (all tour title-winners during their careers!) made the world #136 one of the most unlikely participants in any tournament's final weekend festivities all season long. After notching victories over the #2, #3 and #6-seeded players at the event, though, Sasnovich wasn't able to also take out #1 Irina-Camelia Begu and become the first qualifier to win a tour title since Coco Vandeweghe at Rosmalen last summer. Still, it was enough to nearly lift her into the Top 100 (#102), but not enough give her a career-best ranking. She rose as high as #92 last October.

Meanwhile, as Sasnovich was winning matches in Korea, Azarenka was back in Minsk last week looking to inspire the NEXT generation of Belarusian players. As it turns out, though, the current gen is looking better and better, as Vika, Govortsova and Sasnovich are at the top of a current crop of players that also includes juniors Iryna Shymanovich and Vera Lapko. If every one would ever commit playing a Fed Cup tie or two, the red-and-green flag might just fly high as BLR would be capable of a sizable upset or two. The Belarusian team is currently ranked #15 by the ITF, one spot behind the U.S. squad (!!) and one ABOVE the coalescing Spaniards (!!!).
VETERAN: Jelena Jankovic/SRB
...still thirty, and still flirty. But now a 2015 WTA singles champion, too. Just two months after she won the WTA $125K Series event in Nanchang, then reached the Cincinnati semis before her disappointing 1st Round exit at Flushing Meadows, Jankovic ran her recent successful match stretch to 15-3 by winning in Guangzhou to claim her first tour-level singles title since Bogota in 2013, and her first on hard court since being crowned Indian Wells champ in 2010. After opening up with a win over a retiring Elena Vesnina, JJ defeated Francesca Schiavone, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Yanina Wickmayer (saving a MP) and Denisa Allertova in the final to win the fourteenth title of her career in the same week in which she became just the third active player with 600 match wins.


COMEBACKS: Garbine Muguruza & Carla Suarez-Navarro (ESP/ESP) and Dominika Cibulkova/SVK
...Muguruza and Suarez-Navarro inched forward with a bit of success in singles, but surged upward in doubles last week in Tokyo. Muguruza got just her second win since reaching the Wimbledon final (2-5 in her last seven) with a victory over Barbora Strycova, while CSN finally ended her eight-match losing streak with a win over Kateryna Bondarenko. Both lost in their second outings in singles, but one year after they reached the doubles final of the event as a pair they improved upon the result by taking the title with a victory over the Chan sisters this time. The Spanish duo won a title on the grass at Birmingham this summer, but had gone 3-4 since then before their undefeated week. It's their third title overall, having also won in Stanford last year.

Meanwhile, Cibulkova's post-Achilles' surgery form continues to improve. After ending last year at a career-best season-ending ranking of #11 the Slovak nearly fell out of the Top 60 after her spring surgery. Last week in Tokyo, she put together her first semifinal run since April of last year in Kuala Lumpur with victories over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Carla Suarez-Navarro and Ana Ivanovic (matching her 1st Round U.S. Open upset of the Serb). Cibulkova is back in the Top 40 on Monday, and very well could (again) be a super dangerous "Bracket Buster" come January in Melbourne (where she reached the final in '14).

FRESH FACES: Belinda Bencic/SUI & Denisa Allertova/CZE
...Bencic continues to make her mark on tour, putting up two more Top 10 wins (giving her eight in '15) in Tokyo over Muguruza and Wozniacki (she's 4-0 vs. the Dane this year!), as well as a victory over Sam Stosur. The 18-year old failed to climb into the Top 10 for the first time heading into this week, but she reached her fourth final of the season, losing to Aga Radwanska and, like so many of us, finding herself oohing, aahing and bowing down to the Pole after losing to her 2 & 2.

22-year old Czech Allertova had a career week, getting victories over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Bojana Jovanovski, as well as her biggest career win (over #2 Simona Halep, after getting a previous Top 10 victory over CSN at the U.S. Open) in Guangzhou, then following that up with a semifinal victory over Sara Errani to reach her maiden tour singles final. She lost to Jelena Jankovic, but it was all still a big next step after reaching a $75K challenger final in Prague last month. Allertova is up to a career-best #57 this week.
DOWN: Simona Halep/ROU & Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...losing in the Guangzhou quarterfinals to #74-ranked Denisa Allertova wasn't exactly the type of result Halep was looking for to follow up her U.S. Open semifinal implosion. The Swarmette will be be back at it in Wuhan this week.

Meanwhile, in her first outing since her U.S. Open QF run, Mladenovic lost 0-6/6-3/3-6 in the 1st Round in Tokyo to Ana Konjuh, then pulled out of her scheduled doubles pairing with Belinda Bencic (they'd won the title in Washington in their previous -- and only other -- event together).


ITF PLAYER: Michaella Krajicek/NED
...Krajicek had a pretty exciting summer, and she looks to be kicking off autumn with the intention of making it fairly memorable, too. The 26-year old Dutch vet -- who, in a somewhat forgotten note these days, won three WTA singles titles nearly a decade ago and reached the Top 30 in '08 after reaching the '07 QF at Wimbledon, where her brother Richard was the men's champ in '96 -- grabbed her largest singles title since 2006 with a win over big-serving Brit Naomi Broady in the $75K challenger final contested in Albuquerque this weekend. Recently married to ATP player Martin Emmrich, Krajicek had only played one other singles event since her July wedding, a semifinal run at a $25K challenger in Winnipeg before the U.S. Open. Last week, she qualified and notched wins over Vicky Duval and Danielle Lao before winning in a final over Broady that included a combined forty-nine aces and just one break of serve. 11-1 in ITF singles finals in her career (14-1 in all pro singles finals), Krajicek sees her singles ranking catapult from #435 to #242 as the new week begins.


JUNIOR STARS Katie Swan/GBR, Xu Shilin/CHN & Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
...16-year old Swan's week ended better than it began. The Australian Open girls runner-up and current junior #6, won her second challenger title of the season at the $10K event in Madrid. She defeated Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar in the final to end the Spaniard's attempt to win her second singles title in as many weeks after she'd struggled for nearly nine months this season to finally win her first (she's now 1-7 in '15 singles finals, though the ex-Texas A&M Aggie did win another doubles title).

Former girls #1 Xu, the '14 Youth Olympics Gold Medalist and a girls semifinalist at this year's AO, reached her first career tour-level final with an appearance in the Guangzhou doubles championship match with 19-year old You Xiaodi (def. by Hingis/Mirza). Xu, 17, reached a $15K singles final in a challenger in Hong Kong at the beginning of August. 17-year old Slovak Kuzmova, who just won a share of the U.S. Open girls doubles crown (and def. #1-seeded Marketa Vondrousova in singles) won her third '15 singles challenger title at the $15K in Sharm El-Sheikh, defeating Brit Freya Christie in a 7-6(4)/7-5 final.

DOUBLES: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
...the Dream Team -- err, I mean "Santina"...but I think I'll stick with my nickname -- was at it again in Guangzhou, combining to grab their sixth title of the season to run their current winning streak to nine matches. They're 42-7 overall as a duo this season. The win in the final over the teenage Chinese pair of Xu Shilin & You Xiaodi gives Mirza twenty-nine career tour doubles titles, while Hingis has picked up forty-seven to go along with her forty-three in singles and four slam mixed titles.


1. Guangzhou SF - Jankovic d. Wickmayer 6-3/2-6/7-5
Guangzhou Final - Jankovic d. Allertova 6-2/6-0
JJ saved a match point at 5-4 in the 3rd vs. Wickmayer, then added an overdue win to her ledger after going 1-9 in her last ten tour-level singles finals. This is the eleventh title won this year by a thirtysomething champion.

2. Tokyo TPP QF - Wozniacki d. Kerber
Wozniacki reaches her seventh semifinal of '15 (behind only Serena and Halep), but she still falls out of the Top 10 in the latest rankings. After just getting back in, so does Kerber.

3. Guangzhou 1st - Wickmayer d. Linette
Days after defeating the Pole in the Japan Open final, Wickmayer does it again in China.
4. Guangzhou QF - Allertova d. Halep 6-4/6-3
Seoul Final - Begu d. Sasnovich 6-3/6-1
two sides of the Swarmette coin in Week 38.

5. Guangzhou 1st Rd. - Kuznetsova d. Hantuchova 6-4/7-5
Guangzhou 2nd Rd. - Jankovic d. Schiavone 7-5/4-6/6-4
Guangzhou QF - Jankovic d. Kuznetsova 6-2/7-5
hmmm, was the Guangzhou draw just a photocopy of the one from the 2009 event?
6. Wuhan 1st Rd - Pavlyuchenkova d. Kuznetsova
Now, THAT's the current Sveta, not the '09 version. Of course, how could you tell? What day is it?
7. Tokyo TPP SF - Bencic d. Wozniacki
Caro must have nightmares about BB by now. She's 0-4 against her this year, losing six of six sets (and retiring in the middle of a seventh while down 3-1). Guess who could meet again in the Wuhan semis.
8. Tokyo TPP 2nd Rd. - Bencic d. Stosur 5-7(5)/6-3/6-4
Wuhan 1st Rd. - Lucic-Baroni d. Stosur 6-2/6-1
Sam misses Osaka.
9. Tokyo TPP QF - Cibulkova d. Ivanovic
The possible Part III of this match-up won't happen in Wuhan, as Madison Brengle has dumped out the Slovak in the 1st Round.
10 Tokyo TPP 1st Rd. - Nara d. Doi
The doubles duo then went out and got a win over Kops-Jones/Spears.
11. Seoul 1st Rd. - Date-Krumm d. Tomljanovic
A week earlier, Tomljanovic took out the 44-year old in straights at the Japan Open. The Croat-Aussie's opponent age went down significantly in her next match, as she defeated 35-year old Schiavone in Wuhan qualifying. By the way, Seoul was where KDK won her only post-comeback tour singles crown in 2009... back when she was just 38. She turns 45 this week.

12. Seoul Final - Arruabarena/Klepac d. Bertens/Larsson
...2-6/6-3 [10-6].
Arruabarrena won the Seoul doubles with Begu a year ago. This time they took separate paths to titles at the event.
HM- Tokyo TPP 1st Rd. - Giorgi d. Garcia
Come now, we can't forget about the Pasty squandering a 6-4/3-1 lead, now can we?

That feeling you get when you realize...

But then you remember there might be some people there who've never heard of Sugarpova or Supergoop! Some of them might even be in this photo:

But probably not.

1. Tokyo TPP Final - Aga Radwanska d. Bencic
With Poland and Serbia (JJ) now added, eighteen different nations have produced WTA tour singles champions in 2015.

2. $75K Albuquerque Final - Michaella Krajicek d. Broady
In the 2:42 match that included just ONE break of serve in thirty-six service games, Krajicek fired eighteen aces to Broady's thirty-one! There has to be a record -- or two -- in there somewhere.

3. Tokyo TPP Final - Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro d. Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan
This loss ended the Chan sisters' seven-match winning streak. They'd been 17-2 in their previous nineteen matches, with both losses having come against Hingis/Mirza.
4. Tokyo TPP 1st Rd. - Suarez-Navarro d. Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6(3)/6-2
Seoul 1st Rd. - Anna Schmiedlova d. Kristyna Pliskova 3-6/6-3/6-4
K-Bond had handed CSN her eighth consecutive loss last week, as this win was the Spaniard's first since defeating -- you guessed it -- Svetlana Kuznetsova during the grass court season. She lost her next match to drop to 1-9 since falling to the Russian. So, I guess Kristyna Pliskova (1-8 after her loss in Seoul) hasn't been the only player dealing with that strain of the Kuznetsova Curse in recent months. Someone call the CDC!
5. Tokyo TPP 1st Rd. - Aga Radwanska d. Vandeweghe
"Hey, does anyone want to interview me on the court again? Anyone? Hey!" (Crickets.)
HM- $25K Bucha Final - Kristina Kucova d. Cadantu
It was that sort of weekend for sisters in singles finals, I guess. Kucova has won three ITF titles this season.

On court selfie????Thank u guys for a great support ??????#wuhanopen

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Classic Vika... and case in point.

And Confusing Caroline in the City.

Pretty sure my long run wasn't THAT long..?! #Tokyo.... Or NY?!??

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

**2015 WTA FINALS**
5...Serena Williams, USA (5-0)
5...Simona Halep, ROU (3-2)
5...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (1-4)
4...Angelique Kerber, GER (4-0)

32 - Serena Williams (30-2)
22 - Maria Sharapova (11-11)
17 - Simona Halep (11-6)
17 - Victoria Azarenka (9-8)
15 - Angelique Kerber (7-8)
13 - Petra Kvitova (10-3)
13 - AGA RADWANSKA (8-5)
13 - Sara Errani (6-7)

Antwerp - Andrea Petkovic, GER (8 MP - 2nd/Van Uytvanck)
Rio - Sara Errani, ITA (3 MP - QF/Haddad)
Pattaya - Daniela Hantuchova, SVK (2 MP - SF/Erakovic)
's-Hertogenbosch - Camila Giorgi, ITA (3 MP - QF/Shvedova)
Toronto - Belinda Bencic, SUI (1 MP - 3rd/Lisicki)
Guangzhou - Jelena Jankovic, SRB (1 MP - SF/Wickmayer)

Hobart - Heather Watson, GBR
Bogota - Teliana Pereira, BRA
Bastad - Johanna Larsson, SWE
Bucharest - Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
Washington - Sloane Stephens, USA
Tokyo TPP - Aga Radwanska, POL

13 years - Maria Sharapova, 2003-15
9 years - Serena Williams, 2007-15
8 years - Caroline Wozniacki, 2008-15
5 years - Petra Kvitova, 2011-15
5 years - Aga Radwanska, 2011-15

Hobart - Madison Brengle (24/USA - lost to Watson)
Prague - Lucie Hradecka (29/CZE - lost to Ka.Pliskova)
Baku - Patricia Maria Tig (21/ROU - lost to Gasparyan)
Seoul - Aliaksandra Sasnovich (21/BLR - lost to Begu)

#154 Patricia Maria Tig, ROU (Baku - lost to Gasparyan)
#136 ALIAKSANDRA SASNOVICH, BLR (Seoul - lost to Begu)
#130 Teliana Pereira, BRA (Bogota - def. Shvedova)
#112 Margarita Gasparyan, RUS (Baku - def. Tig)
#101 Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (Quebec City - lost to Beck)

**2015 WTA SF**
9...Serena Williams (5-3+L)
9...Simona Halep (4-4+W)
6...Karolina Pliskova (5-1)
6...Angelique Kerber (4-1+L)
6...Maria Sharapova (3-2+L)
6...SARA ERRANI (2-4)
5...Elina Svitolina (1-4)
4...Timea Bacsinszky (3-1)
4...Petra Kvitova (3-1)
4...Carla Suarez-Navarro (3-1)

#251 Virginie Razzano/FRA (Strasbourg SF)
#188 Anastasiya Sevastova/LAT (Florianpolis SF)
#181 Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE (Kuala Lumpur SF)
#158 Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL (Acapulco SF)
#157 Naomi Broady/GBR (Quebec City SF)
#154 Patricia Maria Tig/ROU (Baku RU)

3 - Mar/Apr - Hingis/Mirza (IW-Miami-Charleston)
2 - Jan - Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Sydney-AO)
2 - May - Babos/Mladenovic (Marrakech-Rome)
2 - Sep - HINGIS/MIRZA (US-Guangzhou)

Miami - Martina Hingis, 2014-15
Istanbul - Elina Svitolina, 2014-15
Baku - Alexandra Panova, 2014-15
Seoul - Lara Arruabarrena, 2014-15

7...SANIA MIRZA (7/0)
6...Bethanie Mattek-Sands (5/1)
4...Kristina Mladenovic (4/0)
4...Lucie Safarova (4/0)
3...Timea Babos (3/0)
4...Chan Hao-Ching (4/0)
3...Chan Yung-Jan (3/0)

4...Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3...Babos/Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
2...Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE
2...Kops-Jones/Spears, USA/USA

23.Caroline Wozniacki (23)*
24.Pam Shriver (21)
25t.Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere (19)
25t.Nancy Richey (19)
27t.Victoria Azarenka (17)*
27t.Petra Kvitova (17)*
27t.Mary Pierce (17)
27t.Kerry Melville (17)
31t.Ann Haydon Jones (16)
31t.Elena Dementieva (16)
33t.Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat (15)
33t.Agnieszka Radwanska (15)*
33t.Ana Ivanovic (15)
36t.Jennifer Capriati (14)
36t.Jelena Jankovic (14)*
36t.Zina Garrison (14)

2003 NED def. CAN
2004 ARG def. CAN
2005 POL def. FRA
2006 BLR def. RUS
2007 AUS def. POL
2008 USA def. GBR
2009 RUS def. GER
2010 RUS def. CHN
2011 AUS def. CAN
2012 USA def. RUS
2013 RUS def. AUS
2014 USA def. SVK

2001 Jennifer Capriati / USA
2002 Serena Williams / USA
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne / BEL
2004 Maria Sharapova / RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters / BEL
2006 Amelie Mauresmo / FRA
2007 Justine Henin / BEL
2008 Cara Black & Liezel Huber / ZIM-USA
2009 Italian Fed Cup Team
2010 Francesca Schiavone / ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova / CZE
2012 Serena Williams / USA
2013 Serena Williams / USA
2014 Czech Fed Cup Team

It was fifteen years ago...

And Singapore's many competitions will be here before you know it.

Speaking of on-the-horizon competitions...

WUHAN, CHINA (Premier $2.2m/HCO)
14 Final: Kvitova d. Bouchard
14 Doubles Final: Hingis/Pennetta d. C.Black/Garcia
15 Top Seeds: Halep/Sharapova

Azarenka d. #10 A.Radwanska
#3 Kvitova d. #8 Ka.Pliskova
#4 Wozniacki d. #5 Muguruza
#11 Bencic d. #2 Sharapova
#3 Kvitova d. Azarenka
#11 Bencic d. #4 Wozniacki
#3 Kvitova d. #11 Bencic

...Kvitova is looking to recapture her '14 magic, while Bencic could notch three more Top 20 wins without winning the title.

14 Final: Knapp d. Jovanovski
14 Doubles Final: Krunic/Siniakova d. Gasparyan/Panova
15 Top Seeds: Beck/Witthoeft

#7 Ostapenko d. (Q) Kania
(Q) Gasparyan d. #4 Larsson
#7 Ostapenko d. (Q) Gasparyan

...the Latvian teen could get another shot at the woman who beat her in the Quebec City final -- Annika Beck -- in the QF. Could that be the de facto final for this event?

14 Final: USA d. SVK

Pick: United States

And, finally...

The WTA minus one.

Serena plus one.

Simona plus one.

Puig plus one...

...and time to dance.

And you know you're having a good month when...

And Flavia moves up to ANOTHER career this week at #6. Are the Tennis Gods trying to tell her something?

All for now.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Wk.37- Out with the Old, In with the New

Out with the old, in with the new.

It may sound harsh, but it's really just the cruel reality of the WTA. Time, nor the tour, stops for no one.

It's been one year since Li Na walked away from the WTA, and while we're all still pining for the moments she'd often provide, things have gone on.

Flavia Pennetta just won the U.S. Open, then announced that she was retiring. While there may never be another Italian generation quite like the one she's led, the Quartet will surely be replaced in some -- though never all -- ways by a surprising generation of achieving women from another country without any real women's tennis legacy on which to build. And one day, they'll be replaced by another version, as well. Not the same, but wonderful in their own right, for totally different reasons.

It's just the way it is. We've gotten to the point where the tour is big enough, and its reach far and wide, for the talent pool to be replenished many times over, generation after generation.

Just this week, we saw two more first-time finalists in a Pole NOT named Radwanska, and a Latvian teen who was crowned a junior slam champion barely a year ago. While we're still waiting for the next GREAT Belgian champ, a Waffle DID win her first title in five years this weekend, too. And there to congratulate her was... well, you can probably guess.

One week after Pennetta and Roberta Vinci played in the oldest (33 vs. 32) final on tour in 2015, this weekend we saw the youngest between 21-year old Annika Beck and 18-year old Jelena Ostapenko. Six different women have played in all-thirtysomething finals the last two seasons, but we've also seen three match-ups of two players 21-or-under facing off to decide a champion just this year. We've had three 18-or-under singles winners this year, as many as the last three seasons combined (and there was just one each in 2010 and '11, as well), but players 30+ have grabbed ten crowns (and Serena only has five of them).

Interestingly enough, the aforementioned Belgian in question last won a title by defeating an Italian in the Auckland final in 2010. Her name? Why, Flavia Pennetta, of course. Shake it up... it all comes out perfectly blended together in the end.

Those Tennis Gods... they're just smartypants like that sometimes.

TOKYO, JAPAN [Japan Open] (Int'l $227K/HCO)
S: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL def. Magda Linette/POL 4-6/6-3/6-3
D: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) d. Misaki Doi/Kurumi Nara (JPN/JPN) 6-1/6-2

S: Annika Beck/GER def. Jelena Ostapenko/LAT 6-2/6-2
D: Barbora Krejcikova/An-Sophie Mestach (CZE/BEL) d. Maria Irigoyen/Paula Kania (ARG/POL) 4-6/6-3 [12-10]

...late last season, Beck won her maiden tour title in Luxembourg and finished up 2014 at #55, the fifth consecutive rise in her year-end ranking. Playing in the shadows of the more well-known German stars, Beck's '15 campaign has put down the groundwork for another season-closing rise in standing. She reached the 3rd Round at Roland Garros, but heading into Week 37 she hadn't yet had a real "signature moment" for her season. She put together a good candidate for such an honor in Quebec City, though. The 21-year old reached her second '15 final (w/ Florianopolis) with wins over Sharon Fichman, Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka (both in singles, not doubles), defending champ Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Jelena Ostapenko, the teenager who just upset her in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open, in the final. Of Beck's four career finals, three of them have now been at indoor events (w/ Luxembourg 2013-14). She's up to #43 in the new rankings, tying her career-best standing... and still looking for more.


RISERS: Zheng Saisai/CHN & Ajla Tomljanovic/CRO-AUS
...Zheng, 21, has been spreading herself around quite nicely of late. She's won a tour-level doubles title at Stanford (one of two WTA titles this season), played in the second-longest women's match in U.S. Open history vs. Madison Brengle and swept the singles and doubles titles at the WTA $125K Series event in Dalian, China. Last week, she reached her second WTA-level QF of '15 in Tokyo with victories over Alison Riske and Irina Falconi. This week marked a full year without Li Na on tour, and so far this season Zheng is the only Chinese woman to reach as many as two singles QF.

Also in Tokyo, Tomljanovic reached the semifinals, defeating Timea Babos, Kimiko Date-Krumm and Madison Brengle to put up her best result since reaching the Pattaya City final in February. This was only the Croatian-Aussie's second multiple win event (w/ Stanford) since May, but it improved her season mark to nearly .500 (21-22) and has almost returned her to the Top 50 (#53). Tomljanovic reached a career-high #47 seven months ago.

SURPRISES: Magda Linette/POL & Naomi Broady/GBR
...Polish women's tennis isn't just about the Radwanskas anymore. Just this week alone, Paula Kania reached the Quebec City singles QF and doubles final, while Magda Linette advanced all the way to the Tokyo final, bettering the career-best semifinal she had in Baku last year. The 23-year old, ranked #84, put up victories over Lauren Davis, #2-seed Zarina Diyas (the runner-up when the tournament was held in Osaka last year), Hsieh Su-Wei and Christina McHale before losing in three sets to Yanina Wickmayer. Linette has won two $25K challengers this year, and reached the final of a $50K, as well, to help her compile what is now a nice 40-20 record that has lifted her to a career-best #64 in the new rankings.

Apparently, 2015 is the year of the lucky loser. Or so it seems. With Brit Naomi Broady's LL run the Quebec City semis, three such entrants in tour-level draws have reached the final four this season, as well as three more who have reached the QF... and that's not even counting the most celebrated of them all, recent U.S. Open LL Daria Kasatkina, who reached the 3rd Round at Flushing Meadows. Broady, 25, had already been having a good summer on the courts as she's focused on taking advantage of her big serve. She qualified in Washington, won a $25K challenger event in Landisville, and nearly qualified for the U.S. Open (losing in three sets in the final round to Anett Kontaveit, who'd reach the Round of 16). She lost in Quebec qualifying to Jessica Pegula, then joined the MD when Klara Koukalova withdrew due to illness. The world #157 then put up wins over Alla Kudryavtseva, Alexa Glatch and Anna Tatishvili to reach the semis, falling to Jelena Ostapenko, but getting the attention of the ATP Tour's Patron Saint of WTA Fandom Andy Murray, who tweeted his congratulations on her accomplishments. Broady is up to a career-best #127 this week.

VETERANS: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL & Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR
...Wickmayer, a U.S. Open semifinalist six years ago in just her seventh career slam appearance, hasn't had the sort of career that such a result might have created hope for, but she's been a capable player who sometimes pulls off big wins on big stages. She's got four Top 20 wins over the last two years, and all have come against former slam finalists (at least) in big events -- Sara Errani ('15 Australian Open), Samantha Stosur ('14 Wimbledon), Caroline Wozniacki ('14 Roland Garros and '14 Doha premier event). Tokyo wasn't quite such a stage, but the Belgian still reached her tenth career final, winning for the first time since 2010 (Auckland) -- the longest title drought by any '15 singles champion -- to grab career title #4. Ranked #86 at the start of the week, Wickmayer didn't have to defeat any player ranked higher than #61, putting up victories over Katerina Siniakova, Johanna Larsson, Kateryna Bondarenko, Ajla Tomljanovic and Magda Linette. She climbs to #56 in the new rankings.

Bondarenko's post-motherhood resurgence has been a season-long process. She's successfully qualified at eight tour events (three in a row heading into last week), reached the Istanbul QF, defeated Venus Williams and reached the 2nd Round of the U.S. Open. Last week in Tokyo she got her second Top 20 win of '15 by knocking off #1 seed Carla Suarez-Navarro and reached the QF after a win over Jarmila Gajdosova. This weekend, she made it through the qualifying rounds of her ninth tournament of the season in this week's Premier level event in Tokyo. Up to #83 in the rankings, Bondarenko, who sat out the '13 season having her baby, has a good chance to have her best season-ending ranking since she finished #32 in 2009. All she has to do now is climb into the Top 80 and stay there until November.
COMEBACKS: Christina McHale/USA & Vania King/USA
...McHale's recent upswing in results -- multiple wins at five of her last seven events -- continued in Week 37's International level event in Tokyo, as she strung together wins over Yulia Putintseva, Risa Ozaki and Zheng Saisai to reach the semifinals, her best result since reaching the stage in Seoul last September. Meanwhile, in the $25K challenger in Redding, California King put her best singles result in any event since a WTA-level semi in Bogota of April of last year. The former doubles #1 missed eight months after the '14 U.S. Open dealing with a herniated disc (rest avoided surgery), returning to action in May. She'd only gone 1-4 heading into last week, but wins over #1-seeded Jennifer Brady, Julia Jones and #6 Caitlin Whoriskey put King into the final four of the event, where she lost to eventual champ Heidi El Tabakh.

FRESH FACES: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT & Samantha Crawford/USA
...the former junior slam champions are climbing the ladder. Ostapenko, 18, made a HUGE leap this past week. The Latvian, 2014's Wimbledon girls champ, had put up her first MD slam wins at Roland Garros and SW19 earlier this season, but she hadn't reached a tour-level QF (she's won seven ITF titles). Coming in at #101 in the world, she defeated Mona Barthel, staged a comeback against Jessica Pegula (who served for the match twice), Paula Kania and Naomi Broady to make it all the way to her first tour final in Quebec City. She failed to become the first Latvian to win a tour title since Anastasija Sevastova in 2010, but she makes her Top 100 debut at #77 on Monday. Crawford, 20, was the 2012 U.S. Open girls champ, and has put up some good challenger results in North America in recent months. She reached a $50K final in Lexington and another in a $25K in Raleigh, with a $25K Baton Rouge semi, as well. Still, she arrived for Quebec City qualifying riding a four-match losing sterak. She made it through with wins over Marie-Eve Pelletier (in her first match since the '13 Australian Open) and Maria Sanchez, then pulled off MD upsets over Mandy Minella and Evgeniya Rodina to reach her first tour-level QF. She'll rise to a career-best #178 this week.

DOWN: Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP & Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/CRO
...Genie Bouchard may have pulled out of her tailspin in Flushing Meadows (well, before, you know...), but CSN is still in a full-on descent at break-neck speed. The #1 seed in Tokyo, she nevertheless dropped her eighth consecutive match with a 1st Round loss to Kateryna Bondarenko. She'll face a qualifier in the 1st Round of THIS week's event in Tokyo in an attempt to slow the slide that had knocked her out of the Top 10 before she slipped back in at #10 this week as Karolina Pliskova and Ana Ivanovic fall out after losing a week's worth of '14 points. A year ago, Lucic won the title in Quebec City, her first on tour since taking a title as a 16-year old sixteen years earlier. Things haven't gone nearly as well since, but she was back as the #2 seed at this year's event despite a #104 ranking -- and she effectively became the top seed when #1 Madison Keys withdrew. She put up a good effort, getting wins over Francoise Abanda, Tamira Paszek and Samantha Crawford, but her efforts hit a wall in the semis vs. eventual champion Annika Beck. To show how fluid the rankings are from #75-100+, it was enough to jump her all the way back up to #85. Still, even with her best result since winning the tournament last year, she's still just 19-24 on the season.
ITF PLAYERS: Daria Kasatkina/RUS & Cristina Sanchez Quintanar/ESP
...don't toss out those "Fear the Kasatkina" signs just yet. The U.S. Open lucky loser star was at it again at the $50K challenger in Saint Malo, France. The 18-year old Russian, seeded #6, took out #2-seed Kaia Kanepi, #3 Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, Irina Khromacheva, Nastja Kolar and #5-seeded Laura Siegemund (who won a $100K last week) in the final to claim her circuit-leading fifth title of the season. In fact, she's still undefeated in pro singles finals in her career, going 7-0 to date. She makes her Top 100 debut (#93) this week.

Sanchez-Quintanar's story is still the same as it was earlier this season. Well, almost. Born in Campo de Criptana, Spain, CSQ's "first love" was soccer. But she was pretty good at tennis, too, and the opportunities there were greater, so she ended up traveling to the University of Maryland on a tennis scholarship in 2009. She arrived there mid-semester, and received permission to play on the soccer team, but she eventually had to give that up in order to fulfill her tennis commitments. When her coach left for Texas A&M in 2011, she went with him, and was able to play soccer there, as well. She ended up playing in the NCAA postseason tournaments for tennis, soccer and basketball. But her tennis scholarship came first, and the sport soon became her #1 priority again. In her last year of tennis eligibility, Sanchez-Quintanar climbed as high as #5 in the NCAA rankings and A&M reached the women's team final in the NCAA Championships in 2013. With one year left on campus, CSQ once again fed her soccer desire. In late October of last year, she played in her first professional tournament as a pro (she won a pair of ITF doubles titles back in '09, and reached her first singles final that year, too). CSQ had a devil of a time trying to get her first pro singles title during the opening months of 2015, reaching and losing six finals, the last coming in May. As she moved up to bigger challenger events, things slowed down in recent months. She lost seven consecutive MD matches... but she surely wasn't going to be discouraged. As it turned out, the end result she was hoping for was waiting for her back home in Spain. In the $10K Madrid challenger this weekend, Sanchez-Quintanar won her fourth '15 doubles title... and her FIRST singles title (in her eighth final) with a victory over Russian Ekaterina Yashina. CSQ moves up to a career-best #422 in the new rankings. Whew! Okay... now what's next, Cristina?

JUNIOR STAR: Tamara Zidansek/SLO
...17-year old Slovenian Zidansek hasn't played a junior event since Roland Garros (where she def. soon-to-be U.S. Open girls runner-up Sonya Kenin), but she's been tearing up the ITF circuit during the spring and summer. Running off seventeen straight wins in $10K events, she won three singles titles. She's currently on another 14-1 run that has included a fourth $10K title, a $15K final and, this weekend, her biggest-yet $25K crown in a challenger in Dobrich, Bulgaria with a win over Polina Leykina in the final. Ranked at a new career-best #397 this week, she's tied (w/ Daria Kasatkina and Israel's Denis Khazaniuk) for the ITF circuit lead with five titles in 2015.
DOUBLES: Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
...the recent Cincinnati champions added yet another piece of hardware (two, actually) to their shared trophy case with a title run in Tokyo, defeating home favorites Misaki Doi & Kurumi Nara in the final. It's the sisters' third title of '15, and their fifth as a team, padding their position as the second-most successful all-sibling doubles team (behind Venus & Serena, winners of twenty-one titles) in WTA history.




Meanwhile, in other Canadian tennis news:

1. Quebec Final - Beck d. Ostapenko 6-2/6-2
Tokyo JO Final - Wickmayer d. Linette 4-6/6-3/6-3

this weekend's finals were about rematches, in the here-and-now and to-come. Ostapenko upset Beck in three sets in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open almost three weeks ago, while Wickmayer and Linette are set to meet AGAIN in the 1st Round this week in Guangzhou. Both instances -- and the rounds of the matches -- gives a hint as to how unlikely these two final match-ups really were. Meanwhile, Ostapenko is the first Latvian to reach a tour singles final this season, while Wickmayer is the first Waffle. That makes it twenty-four different nations with finalists through thirty-seven weeks of play, and if you factor in the WTA $125K Series events the number goes up to twenty-seven.
2. Quebec 2nd Rd. - Ostapenko d. Pegula
Pegula, a U.S. Open qualifier (Backspin's Q-PoW, actually), led 4-1 in the 3rd here, and served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5.
3. Quebec SF - Beck d. Lucic-Baroni
We're not one year into the 16-year gap between Lucic-Baroni WTA singles titles are we?
4. Tokyo JO 1st Rd. - Date-Krumm d. Doi
KDK, still showin' the whippersnappers how it's done.

5. $25K Monterrey 1st Rd. - Hsu Chieh-yu d. Laura Robson
Robson, still ranked outside the Top 500, managed to get a qualifying win to get into the MD of this challenger, but she wasn't able to put away the 23-year old world #309 from Taiwan.
6. $25K Podgonia Final - Barbara Haas d. Doroteja Eric
The Austrian, 19, wins her seventh career ITF title, and second this year.
7. $10K Hyderabad Final - Fatma Al-Nabhani d. Prerna Bhambri
The 24-year old from Oman claims her fourth ITF title of 2015, and the eighth of her career. I expect she'll be making an appearance in Backspin's "Regional Honors" lists later this year.

8. $10K Sharm El-Sheikh Final - Jaqueline Adina Cristian d. Madrie Le Roux
The next wave of Swarmettes are stirring. 17-year Cristian, who came in at a cool #1234 (#44 jr.) grabbed her first career singles crown over the weekend with a win in Egypt over a South African. Spanning the globe.
HM- Quebec Final - Krejcikova/Mestach d. Irigoyen/Kania
...4-6/6-3 [12-10].
Krejcikova & Mestach saved a MP in the deciding TB.

I think someone in the the WTA's social media department had a little extra time on their hands.

Meanwhile, Sloane didn't even need hands. Just lips.

And, since you have hands (or even if you don't)... why not vote Arruabarrena this fall?

1. Tokyo JO Final - Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Doi/Nara
The Chan sisters' three hard court titles in Pattaya, Cincinnati and Tokyo are matched this year only by Hingis/Mirza's three on the surface at Indian Wells, Miami and the U.S. Open.
2. Quebec QF - Naomi Broady d. Anna Tatishvili 3-6/7-5/6-3
Quebec SF - Ostapenko d. Naomi Broady 6-4/6-2
Naomi's brother is ATP player Liam. Naomi's not the only Broady who's gotten Murray's attention, either, as he also congratulated Liam on a comeback win at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

Of course, if Naomi wants to come out on top of this sibling Twitter rivalry, she'll need to keep it up.

3. Tokyo JO 1st Rd. - Kateryna Bondarenko d. Suarez-Navarro
K-Bond is just the second player this year to post two wins over a tournament's #1 seed (she also defeated #1 Venus in Istanbul this summer). The other player to accomplish the feat is Kristina Mladenovic.

4. Quebec Q1 - Sanchez d. Malika Auger-Aliassime
16-year old Malika's younger brother Felix just won a share of the U.S. Open boys doubles title with fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

5. Quebec 1st Rd. - Anna Tatishvili d. Nadiia Kichenok
Like Broady, Kichenok got into the draw as a lucky loser, moving into Madison Keys' spot in the draw when the #1 seed withdrew on Wednesday. Unlike Broady, she didn't last long. But what was Nadiia, who'd lost in weekend qualifying, still doing in town in the middle of the week, anyway? Playing doubles with her sister Lyudmyla, that's what. They reached the QF.

Vika binge watches, too.

And coming back soon to a network near you... never mind that pesky detail about the main character dying and all.

When she's not re-watching a revived Fox series...

Another cover.

The Flying Dane.

Making people who post photos with a "#nofilter" hashtag wonder if they're doing something wrong.

Scaryyyyyy #usesunscreen #grumpygranny

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Our new puppy Aceyyyy

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

**2015 WTA LOW-RANKED...**
#130 - Teliana Pereira, BRA (Bogota)
#112 - Margarita Gasparyan, RUS (Baku)
#87 - Ana Konjuh, CRO (Nottingham)
#78 - Teliana Pereira, BRA (Florianopolis)
#154 - Patricia Maria Tig, ROU (Baku)
#130 - Teliana Pereira, BRA (Bogota-W)
#112 - Margarita Gasparyan, RUS (Baku-W)
#101 - JELENA OSTAPENKO, LAT (Quebec City)
#99 - Ula Radwanska, POL (Istanbul)
#251 - Virginie Razzano, FRA (Strasbourg)
#188 - Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT (Florianpolis)
#181 - Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE (Kuala Lumpur)
#158 - Sesil Karatantcheva, BUL (Acapulco)
#157 - NAOMI BROADY, GBR (Quebec City)
#154 - Patricia Maria Tig, ROU (Baku) [RU]

**MOST 2015 WTA TITLES - by nation**
7 - United States
6 - Germany
5 - Czech Republic
4 - Italy, Switzerland
3 - Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic
[most different champions]
4 - ITA [Errani,Giorgi,Knapp,Pennetta]
3 - CZE [Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Safarova]
3 - GER [Beck,Petkovic,Kerber]
3 - USA [Stephens,S.Williams,V.Williams]
2 - RUS [Gasparyan,Sharapova]
2 - SVK [Hantuchova,A.Schmiedlova]
2 - SUI [Bacsinszky,Bencic]
2 - UKR [Svitolina,Tsurenko]

**2015 WTA YOUNGEST...**
39 yrs - Quebec City = Beck (21) d. Ostapenko (18)
41 yrs - Marrakech = Svitolina (20) d. Babos (21)
41 yrs - Baku = Gasparyan (20) d. Tig (21)
41 yrs - 's-Hert. = Giorgi (23) d. Bencic (18)
41 yrs - Toronto = Bencic (18) d. Halep (23)
[singles champions]
17 - Ana Konjuh, CRO
18 - Belinda Bencic, SUI (2)
20 - Margarita Gasparyan, RUS
20 - Anna Schmiedlova, SVK (2)
20 - Elina Svitolina, UKR
[doubles champions]
18 - Belinda Bencic, SUI (2)
18 - Beatriz Haddad Maia, BRA
19 - Rebecca Peterson, SWE
19 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE

5y,8m,1w - Yanina Wickmayer (Tokyo JO) = January '10 Auckland
5y,4m - Timea Bacsinszky (Acapulco) = October '09 Luxembourg

Hobart - (un) Watson d. (Q) Brengle
Pattaya - (un) Hantuchova d. (un) Tomljanovic
Doha - (un) Safarova d. (WC) Azarenka
Nottingham - (un) Konjuh d. (un) Niculescu
Istanbul - (un) Tsurenko d. (un) U.Radwanska
Baku - (un) Gasparyan d. (Q) Tig
Washington - (un) Stephens d. (un) Pavlyuchenkova
Tokyo JO - (un) Wickmayer d. (un) Linette

Hobart - Madison Brengle (24/USA)
Pattaya - Ajla Tomljanovic (20/CRO-AUS)
Rio - Anna Schmiedlova (20/SVK)
Bogota - Teliana Pereira (26/BRA) [W]
Strasbourg - Kristina Mladenovic (22/FRA)
Nottingham - Ana Konjuh (17/CRO) [W]
Istanbul - Lesia Tsurenko (26/UKR) [W]
Baku - Margarita Gasparyan (20/RUS) [W]
Baku - Patricia Maria Tig (21/ROU)
Washington - Sloane Stephens (22/USA) [W]
Tokyo JO - Magda Linette (23/POL)
Quebec City- Jelena Ostapenko (18/LAT)

4- Kerber = Green Clay,Red Clay,Grass,Hard
3- Ka.Pliskova = Hard,Red Clay,Grass
3- S.Williams = Hard,Red Clay,Grass
2- BECK = Red Clay,Carpet
2- Bencic = Grass,Hard
2- Giorgi = Hard,Grass
2- Kvitova = Hard,Red Clay
2- Safarova = Hard,Red Clay
2- A.Schmiedlova = Red Clay,Hard
2- Sharapova = Hard,Red Clay
2- Suarez-Navarro = Hard,Red Clay
2- Vinci = Red Clay,Hard
2- Wozniacki = Hard,Red Clay

5...Hingis/Mirza, SUI/IND
4...Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3...Babos/Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
2...Kops-Jones/Spears, USA/USA
2...Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE

21...Serena & Venus Williams
3...Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova
3...Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko

Auckland - Venus Williams, USA (F def. Ivanovic)
Sydney - Petra Kvitova, CZE (SF def. Pironkova)
Katowice - Anna Schmiedlova, SVK (QF def. Cornet)
Charleston - Angelique Kerber, GER (SF def. Petkovic)
Stuttgart - Angelique Kerber, GER (2nd def. Sharapova)
Strasbourg - Samantha Stosur, AUS (1st def. Puig)
Bastad - Johanna Larsson, SWE (F def. Barthel)
Quebec City - Annika Beck, GER (SF def. Lucic-Baroni)

[advanced past 1st Rd.]
SF...Acapulco - Sesil Karatantcheva, BUL
SF...New Haven - Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
QF...Brisbane - Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS
QF...Katowice - Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
QF...Eastbourne - Daria Gavrilova, RUS/AUS
3rd...U.S. Open - Daria Kasatkina, RUS
2nd...8 players
2nd (w/ 1st Rd. bye)...2 players

As noted, Andy is always watching. And the proper reciprocation is undertaken by the Brits on the women's tour, as well.

Better week.

Good week. Still.

Good week... then really bad week.

They meet again... is a second title in their future?

Kiki & Belinda are in the doubles draw... but there's a chance they could meet in the Tokyo SINGLES semis, too.

TOKYO, JAPAN [Toray Pan Pacific Open] (Premier $881K/HCO)
14 Final: Ivanovic d. Wozniacki
14 Doubles Final: C.Black/Mirza d. Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro
15 Top Seeds: Wozniacki/Ivanovic

#5 Kerber d. #8 Bencic
Svitolina d. #2 Ivanovic
#5 Kerber d. Svitolina

...some interesting possibilities here, including a U.S. Open rematch of Ivanovic/Cibulkova (the Serb was the First Seed Out) and Kerber/Mladenovic (can Angie add another entry on the "Match of the Year" ballot, which already includes a least half a dozen of her outings?) in the QF. The German is finally back in the Top 10 this week at #9, so this would be a nice consolidating-the-break sort of effort.

And, yes, this is the second consecutive week with an event in Tokyo. Last week's was actually the Japan Open, formerly held in Sam Stosur's old stomping grounds (she won three titles there, and reached a fourth final) in Osaka.

SEOUL, KOREA (Int'l $427K/HCO)
14 Final: Ka.Pliskova d. Lepchenko
14 Doubles Final: Arruabarrena/Begu d. Barthel/Minella
15 Top Seeds: Begu/A.Schmiedlova

#4 Lepchenko d. #1 Begu
#2 A.Schmiedlova d. #3 Stephens
#2 A.Schmiedlova d. #4 Lepchenko

...'14 champ Karolina isn't in the draw this time around, but KRISTYNA Pliskova is. Schmiedlova plays her in the 1st Round. So, would defeating the Czech be a case of "passing the baton by proxy" if she went on to win the title?

14 Final: Niculescu d. Cornet
14 Doubles Final: Chuang/Liang d. Cornet/Linette
15 Top Seeds: Halep/Petkovic

#1 Halep d. #3 Errani
#4 Jankovic d. #6 Niculescu
#1 Halep d. #4 Jankovic

...mostly because I want to see a rematch of the Indian Wells final.

Nothing to do with tennis, but because this is quite the striking photo.

Since things can't end with that, let's go with... when you turn around and see yourself turning around to see yourself turning around to see... well, you get the idea.

No big deal ?? #NYC #TechPack

A video posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

All for now.