Monday, April 16, 2007

Wk.15- Shake It Up (The Scrambled Backspin)

2...Justine Henin
2...Serena Williams

**2007 FINALS**
3...Justine Henin (2-1)

4...Sybille Bammer (1-3)


Anna Chakvetadze (2006 Moscow)
Elena Dementieva (2006 Tokyo)
Ana Ivanovic (2006 Montreal)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2006 Miami)
Alicia Molik (2004 Zurich)
Patty Schnyder (2002 Zurich)


4...JELENA JANKOVIC (Mauresmo,Hingis-2,V.Williams)
3...Serena Williams (Sharapova-2,Henin)
2...Daniela Hantuchova (Hingis-2)
2...Lucie Safarova (Mauresmo,Henin)
2...Maria Sharapova (Clijsters,V.Williams)

Round of 16: Backspin 49-42
SEMIFINALS: Pierre 20-17
FINALISTS: Backspin 12-8
CHAMPIONS: Backspin 3-2

==1st Round==

=World Group I=
USA def. Belgium 5-0
...even if Serena isn't in action, neither are Justine or Kim.
Russia def. Spain 4-1 Supernova, but more Top 10 players than the rest of Fed Cup action combined
France def. Japan 3-2 Mauresmo (I detect a pattern here), but home court rules.
Italy def. China 3-2
...maybe Schiavone can get back her Fed Cup mojo from last year's title run.

=World Group II=
Czech Republic def. Slovakia 4-1
Germany def. Croatia 3-2
Israel def. Canada 3-2
Austria def. Australia 3-2

=World Group I=
USA def Belgium 4-1 (no way this will even be close...)
Russia def Spain 5-0!
France def Japan 3-2
Italy def China 3-2!

=World Group II=
CZE def SVK 3-2 (what a great one..!)
CRO def GER 4-1 (ALG continues to struggle)
CAN def ISR 3-2 (tough one but no way I'd actually predict a loss by CAN)
AUS def AUT 5-0

All for now.

Yes, I know the WTA SAYS that Charleston was a Tier I event. But was it REALLY?

Let's see, the defending champion wasn't in attendence. Neither was the world's #1-ranked player. Or #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, or #7. The #1 seed didn't win a match, and neither did Serena Williams (who didn't even COMPLETE a match). Dinara Safina reached the final after having BOTH her QF and SF opponents retire. Only ONE Top 10 player was even in action by the time the 3rd Round came about.

That player, Jelena Jankovic, won the title.

But, looking past what Charleston WASN'T, you have to give credit to Jankovic's title run for what it DID entail -- a good comeback win over Venus Williams in the SF, and remarkable poise while weathering (oh, what a clever pun you're about to experience) the adverse windy conditions during the final against Safina (oh, aren't you blessed to have gotten to experience that brilliant play on words).

As anyone who's ever played -- or tried to play -- tennis in windy weather knows, it's about as difficult as not making a totally crass nose joke about the Graf/Agassi racket incident from this weekend (after further consideration, though, I now prove that it IS indeed avoidable). Wind can play havoc with every aspect of a player's game, starting with the service toss and working it's way down to all the aggravation that builds up over the course of time, and proceeds to break down every other shot. Hmmm, under such a dicey situation, it's not really all that surprising that a member of the Safin family had a hard time keeping everything in order, huh? (Thank goodness Marat wasn't playing.)

When the smoke cleared and the wind stopped (well, if it HAS stopped, that is), Jankovic had her first career Tier I crown, solidified her Top 10 ranking (she's now #7) and picked up a head of steam for the remainder of the season for the player who already has more wins (28) than anyone else on tour in '07.

So, on second thought, maybe Charleston wasn't so bad after all.

1. Chas Final - Jankovic d. Safina
I wonder how Marat would have handled the Charleston conditions? Hmmm, maybe the better question might be whether he'd have run out of rackets.
2. Chas 2nd - Chan d. S.Williams
...5-3, ret..
Let's see... if Serena had won this match she would have faced Venus in the next round. I'm sure her groin was indeed injured, but a few years ago this result would have raised more than a few eyebrows, wouldn't have it?
3. Chas SF - Jankovic d. V.Williams
Venus was breezing (Get it? It's another craaazy weather pun. I kill myself.) midway through the 2nd set when her game started to stall. One difference between the sisters is that Serena will usually pull herself out of her swoon before it's too late.
4. Chas 2nd - Krajicek d. Vaidisova
Nicole surely hopes her 2Q clay season ends much better in Paris than it began in South Carolina.
5. Chas Doubles F - Yan/Zheng d. Peng/Sun
And an hour after it was over, the crowd was hungry again for more tennis.
6. Chas QF - Safina d. Golovin
Hmmm, Golovin retires with an ankle injury a week after her Amelia Island title. Apparently, that body switch has a short expiration date, and the OTHER Tatiana is already back with us.
7. Chas SF - Safina d. Zvonareva
...6-3/0-1 ret.
Back-to-back wins by retirement? Was Dinara trying to do a Mauresmo impersonation?
8. Chas Doub 2nd - Peng/Sun d. Raymond/Stosur
This was Raymond/Stosur's first loss in a Tier I event in '07 after winning three titles.
9. Dubai $10K F - Marinne Giraud d. Cagla Buyukakcay
The 20-year old's first 2007 ITF title (and second in her career) might not shake the rafters anywhere else. But in Mauritius, boy, it's cause for celebration. You see, the #549-ranked Giraud is the ONE AND ONLY player from Mauritius who is ranked on the WTA computer.

Editor's Note: Yes, this edition is another Backspin "gimmick" meant to make an unmemorable week (well, for everyone but Jelena J.) a little more spicy. "Scrambled" Backspin? Sheesh. Alas, I'm sorry to say I doubt that this will be the last three-ring circus hoisted upon you guys by T.S..


S: Jelena Jankovic def. Dinara Safina 6-2/6-2
D: Yan/Zheng def. Peng/T.Sun

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jelena Jankovic
finally, Jankovic "wins a big one." The Serb's first Tier I was her third career title, and ties her with Henin and Serena for the most titles (two) so far this season. And while the field was largely deplated, wins over Santangelo (who beat her a few weeks ago), Srebotnik, Venus and Safina at least bump up the "beauty contest" value of this Charleston title a little.
RISERS: Zi Yan/Jie Zheng & Vera Zvonareva
yeah, Safina made the final, but she did it by playing just six sets after two retirements in the QF and SF (vs. Zvonareva). Vera, though, reached the SF with wins over Dechy, Tu, Ivanovic and Krajicek... more than enough for the honor. As for Yan & Zheng? Well, I guess I should have figured that pointing out their '07 slump last week would mean that they'd win a Tier I title just days later.
SURPRISES: Yung-Jan Chan & Shuai Peng/Tiantian Sun
it was quite a week for the Asian players in Charleston. All four players in the doubles final were Chinese, including Peng and Sun, who defeated top-seeded Raymond/Stosur in the 2nd Round. Taiwan's Chan advanced past a retiring Serena Williams in the 2nd Round of singles after having upset Severine Bremond in the 1st. And Cookies Zheng, Li and Peng all reached the singles Round of 16.
VETERAN: Venus Williams
'04 Charleston champ Venus couldn't help but be a bit disappointed by her SF result this time around.
FRESH FACES: Michaella Krajicek & Sacha Jones

Krajicek, 18, had her best big event result with a QF in Charleston after wins over Jidkova, Bammer and top-seeded Vaidisova. Meanwhile, 16-year old Kiwi Sacha Jones won the USTA International Spring Championship, defeating "BrengleFly" Madison Brengle in the SF, then Mallory Cecil 6-3/6-1 in the Girls final. She's now at a career-best #11 in the junior rankings.
DOWN: Nicole Vaidisova
twice in Vaidisova's career she's been the #1 seed in a WTA event. In Charleston, she lost in her opening match to Krajicek. In Memphis '06, she did the same against Victoria Azarenka. As we learned in Paris last year, Nicole isn't necessarily the best frontrunner... yet. Hey, look on the bright side, at least Vaidisova didn't need stitches in her lip as Steffi Graf did this weekend after she got accidentally nailed in the face by Andre Agassi's racket during on-court action at a fundraiser. Andre, Steffi's got you over the proverbial barrel now. Graf, 40-love... for the foreseeable future.

Tous pour maintenant. (Psst...blame the powerful Charleston wind for all this.)


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