Sunday, June 17, 2007

WTA Backspin Clay Court Awards

The Clay Court Awards are arriving a little later than normal (thanks WTA... we really needed that extra event in Barcelona) but, oddly enough, Justine still has that same smile on her face that she did a week ago.

1. Justine Henin, BEL
it's hard to beat perfection, which is just what Le Petit Taureau has pulled off at Roland Garros the last three years.
2. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
thankfully, that peg leg doesn't get in the way against anyone other than Henin.
3. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
the calm and collected man's Serb.
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
the Contessova's the best runner-up on tour this season, which isn't really a good thing when you've already proven you can win a grand slam.
5. Tatiana Golovin, FRA
if only the Tatiana who started the clay season with her first career title had stuck around long enough to see where it led. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be. But, hey, at least she had a nice spread in FHM, right?

HM- Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
she won a title in Strasbourg, and finally -- FINALLY -- didn't fade away in the early rounds in Paris.

1t. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
1t. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
3. Tatiana Golovin (FRA)
4. Anabel Medina-Garrigues (ESP)
5. Julia Vakulenko (UKR)
6. Mara Santangelo (ITA)
7. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE) / Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE)
8. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
9. Gisella Dulko (ARG)
10. Alona Bondarenko (UKR)
11. Dinara Safina (RUS)
12. Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)
13. Samantha Stosur (AUS)
14. Angelique Kerber (GER)
15. Karin Knapp (ITA)
HM- Olga Savchuk (UKR)

1. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE)
2. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
3. Aravane Rezai (FRA)
4. Ioana-Raluca Olaru (ROU) & Simona Halep (ROU)
5. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
6. Tamira Paszek (AUT)
7. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN)
8. Alize Cornet (FRA)
9. Agnes Szavay (HUN)
10. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)
11. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
12. Ksenia Milevskaya (BLR)
13. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) / Urszula Radwanska (POL)
14. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
15. Anastasia Pivovarova (RUS)
HM- Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)

1. Julia Vakulenko (UKR)
2. Edina Gallovits (ROU)
3. Yuliana Fedak (UKR)
4t. Greta Arn (GER)
4t. Milagros Sequera (VEN)
5. Alicia Molik (AUS) / Mara Santangelo (ITA)
6. Mariana Duque-Marino (COL)
7. Maria-Fernanda Alves (BRA)
8. Maria-Emilia Salerni (ARG)
9. Polona Hercog (SLO)
10. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB)
11. Maria Elena Camerin (ITA)
12. Stephanie Cohen Aloro (FRA)
13. Andreea Ehritt-Vanc (ROU)
14. Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
15. Mariya Koryttseva (UKR)
HM- Chin-Wei Chan (TPE)

1. Patty Schnyder (SUI)
2. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
3t. Greta Arn (GER)
3t. Milagros Sequera (VEN)
3t. Akiko Morigami (JPN)
4. Lisa Raymond (USA)
5. Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)
6. Venus Williams (USA)
7. Meghann Shaughnessy (USA)
8. Sybille Bammer (AUT)
9. Tathiana Garbin (ITA)
10. Nathalie Dechy (FRA)
HM- Cara Black (ZIM) / Liezel Huber (RSA)

1. Martina Hingis (SUI)
2. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
3. Chinese Fed Cup Team
4. Anastasia Myskina (RUS)
5. Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)
6. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
7. Maria Kirilenko (RUS)
8. Nicole Vaidisova (CZE)
9. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) - in finals
10. Nadia Petrova (RUS)
HM- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

1. Patty Schnyder (SUI)
2. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
3. Zi Yan (CHN) / Jie Zheng (CHN)
4t. Greta Arn (GER)
4t. Milagros Sequera (VEN)
6. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
7. Karolina Sprem (CRO)
8. Mirjana Lucic (CRO)
9. Rossana De Los Rios (PAR)
10. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
HM- Ashley Harkleroad (USA)

1. Yung-Jan Chan (TPE)
2. Angelique Kerber (GER)
3. Simona Halep (ROU)
4. Maria-Fernanda Alves (BRA)
5. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
HM- Casey Dell'Acqua (AUS)

TOP PERFORMANCE: Henin. Paris. Three straight titles. Thirty-five straight sets. Enough said.

MOST FANTASTIC PERFORMANCE X TWO: Serbian Fantastovics Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic both surged into the Top 10, won three straight Tier I titles (Charleston, Berlin & Rome) and reached the Roland Garros SF (with AnaIvo becoming the first Serbian-born player to reach a slam final since Monica Seles).

TOP PERFORMANCE BY ONE OF THE TATIANAS: Tatiana Golovin finally stayed healthy enough to win her first career singles title at Amelia Island, defeating Venus, Ivanovic and Petrova along the way. Soon after, the "other" Tatiana returned as she was hurt and missed Roland Garros. But, hey, at least she had that FHM- oh, sorry, already mentioned that, didn't I?

Charleston SF - Jankovic d. V.Williams
Jankovic took advantage of Williams' mid-match wobble, then went on to win a windy final against Safina to begin what was a glorious quarter for her whenever Justine wasn't around.
Berlin F - Ivanovic d. Kuznetsova
Injuries to opponents helped AnaIvo get this far with a little less effort required. It's a good thing, too, since she needed all she had left to give Kuznetsova yet ANOTHER loss in a final in '07.

Istanbul 2nd - Rezai d. V.Williams
A career win for the Pastry with the controversial pop.
Istanbul SF - Rezai d. Sharapova
Well, at least the other one was a "career win" until she got this one, "the fruit of (her) work".

Warsaw 2nd - Vakulenko d. Clijsters
The Ukranian shoved Clijsters into an early retirement, but then ended up retiring from the tournament with an injury.
Berlin 3rd - Vakulenko d. Mauresmo
Mauresmo didn't quit the sport after this one, though.
Berlin QF - Vakulenko d. Safina
On the same day she knocked off Amelie, Vakulenko took out Dinara, too. Of course, her fractured fairy tale continued when she had to pull out of her SF match.

BIGGEST CHOKE: China has followed a determined tennis path while preparing to make a splash in the sport during the Olympics in Beijing next year. Well, until Fed Cup week, that is. After climbing into Group I with solid '07 play, the federation misread the Fed Cup/Olympic eligibility rules and intentionally sat out the nation's two best players (Na Li & Jie Zheng) during the '07 1st Round. The Italians swept Team China 5-0, with China's #3 player Shuai Peng having to retire from a singles match.

FAVORITE CLAY COURT SEASON JOKE: In Charleston, the Doubles final included the all-Chinese teams of Zi Yan/Jie Zheng vs. Shuai Peng/Tiantian Sun. A half hour after the match was over, the crowd was hungry for more tennis. Buh-duh-bump.

Roland Garros 4th - Sharapova d. Schnyder
In Melbourne, Sharapova won the Bizarro Match of the 1Q over Camille Pin by a 6-3/4-6/9-7 score under Extreme Heat conditions. In Paris, she did it again with a strikingly similar score against Schnyder despite the Swiss veteran serving three times for the match and holding two match points. After taking mild heat for a well-timed racket change when Schnyder held a 40-15 lead at 7-8 in the 3rd, Sharapova uttered the classic post-match quote, "It's tough being Mother Teresa and playing tennis at the same time."


...Justine Henin ran her career record against Jelena Jankovic to 6-0 with three 2Q clay wins over the Serb, including a 3-6/6-4/6-4 win in the Berlin QF after Jankovic led 6-3/4-4 before rain stopped play for the day. Ever mindful of her White Whale, Jankovic, even after winning the Rome title a short time later, joked and hit the nemisis nail right on the head when she said, "You know why I won? Because Henin didn't come." Funny, but even more true.

....contrary to what the weekly picks say, sometimes Backspin IS right about something. All the pre-season talk about how the Romanians should be watched proved prophetic during the clay season. After having no Romanians reach tour SF in 2006, the 2Q clay season saw three of them -- Ioana-Raluca Olaru, Sorana Cirstea & Edina Gallovits -- do it, with two (Cirstea & Gallovits) reaching a final. None have won a title... yet. But give 'em a little more time.

"IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, HONEY... HONEST!": While hitting balls during on the court during a fundraiser, Andre Agassi's racket follow-through landed smack in the middle of wife Steffi Graf's face. Some blood and three stitches in her lip later, and suddenly all those items on Andre's honey-do-this list mysteriously began to be crossed off at record speed.

"JUST AN EXCUSE TO POST AN OLD ELISABETH SHUE COVER: the now 43-year old actress says she's training to become a professional tennis player on the lower rungs of the sport.

...following their ironically opposing career paths away from each other, as Kim Clijsters walked away, Justine Henin made efforts to get closer. During the clay season, as Clijsters prepared for her wedding just months after Henin's marriage ended, the well-liked Belgian retired from the sport, saying, "it's been more than fun, but the rackets are hung up." Meanwhile, the begrudgingly-accepted Belgian reconnected with her estranged family and seemed to make strides toward being accepted as something other than the Belgian who wins the grand slam titles but doesn't make any friends along the way. The black hat isn't exactly white, just a shade of gray. But, when Henin can say, "For the first time in my life, I feel at peace," it's clear that some significant change has taken place. Let's see, is the smile still there?

Yep, it is.


2006 FINAL: Henin-Hardenne d. Myskina
2007 TOP: Henin/Mauresmo

Henin d. Bartoli
Mauresmo d. Petrova

Henin d. Mauresmo

....if they meet at SW19, the result might be different, though.

Vaidisova def Dementieva
Mauresmo def Petrova

Mauresmo def Vaidisova

's-HERTOGENBOSCH, NETHERLANDS (III-Grass)2006 FINAL: Krajicek def. Safina
2007 TOP: Jankovic/Ivanovic

Jankovic d. Krajicek
Hantuchova d. Chan

Jankovic d. Hantuchova

....after the WTA season ends, Jelena is going to round up a few people off the street so that she can play a tournament against them.

Jankovic def Safina
Ivanovic def Chakvetadze

Jankovic def Ivanovic

All for now.


Post a Comment

<< Home