Monday, July 30, 2007

Wk.30- The Princess and... Patty's Husband?

You might want to be wary of the White Mile, Sania... so don't say you weren't properly warned.

Well, it looks like Sania Mirza's hangover has finally been remedied. After producing the tour's biggest breakthrough season in 2005, the Indian Princess' "year after" wasn't nearly as successful. After having won a WTA singles title, just one of her numerous "first Indian woman to do" feats that season, she failed to get a second, reached only one semifinal, and won just two grand slam singles matches a year ago. It was easy to wonder if the then 19-year old might be destined to be the star of "Dokic II," minus the off-the-court meltdowns, and forever remain a one-dimensional player who was never able to recapture her once-great promise.

But 2007 is turning out to be quite a rehabilitative year for Mirza. After reaching SF in Hobart and Pattaya early in the season, Mirza's progress suffered a setback with a knee operation in March. She slogged through the clay and grass seasons with little to show for it in terms of victories, but it's now obvious that she was really just preparing for her favored hard court season in North America.

Just a few weeks into the 3rd Quarter, Mirza is sporting a decidedly fitter look to go along with that lethal forehand, winning smile and large dose of personality that garnered her so much attention two years ago. At 20, her forward progress is back on track. A SF in Cincinnati was followed up by her first final in nearly two years in Stanford. But maybe the most interesting development of last week involving Mirza might have been her request for a little coaching assistance from Rainer Hofmann, husband of Patty Schnyder.

Oh, there's nothing salacious there, but considering the sometimes-loopy past and present of Schnyder, combined with Mirza's former courtship of cheeky controversy, it's certainly a pairing that just begs for bizarre speculation... you know, like whether or not Patty and Sania might go on a t-shirt shopping spree.

Well, check that. Since Sania actually took out Schnyder in straight sets in the QF (with Rainer's "help"... boy, I wonder if he apologized to Sneaky after the match?), they probably won't be traveling the White Mile together anytime soon.

Oh, well. No matter. It's just nice to be able to talk of Sania's flights of fancy again, and to see her exciting crowds like she did in Stanford last week. The WTA tour is a more fun place with Mirza in the mix. Apparenty, one billion Indian fans WEREN'T wrong, after all. Whew!

But, really, could the tour even ever hope to survive the explosive potential of a Sania-Patty-Rainer smackdown? Probably not. Good thing Sania's as smart as she is clever.

Hey, at least if Patty ever decides to seek a little revenge, the Princess will be able to work on her reflexes... she only has to remember to duck.


S: Anna Chakvetadze d. Sania Mirza 6-3/6-2
D: Mirza/Peer d. Azarenka/Chakvetadze

S: Francesca Schiavone d. Yvonne Meusburger 6-1/6-4
D: Hradecka/Voracova d. Szavay/Uhlirova

Sacramento Capitals d. New York Buzz 24-20

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Anna Chakvetadze
the Doll's fourth title on the season in Stanford means that, at 6-0 in career WTA singles finals, she's half-way to the other Anna's -- Smashnova, not Kournikova -- 12-0 record in her first twelve tour finals. Even while extending her winning streak to ten matches, the Russian was uncharacteristically inconsistent, as her serve put her into holes from which she was forced to successfully escape. Of course, she can get away with such things against the likes of Daniilidou, Srebotnik, Hantuchova and Mirza. In order to earn her way past her current career-high rank of #6, she's going to have to find a way to put together a better record than the 2-11 one she has against four of the five women (she's 5-2 against #3 Jelena Jankovic) currently ranked ahead of her on the WTA computer.
RISERS: Sania Mirza & Daniela Hantuchova
before her run to the final in Stanford, Mirza hadn't gone as deep in a tournament in almost two years ('05 Forest Hills). Alongside her singles wins over Morigami, Golovin, Schnyder & Bammer was a third doubles title of the season, which she won with Shahar Peer. While Wonder Girl's advancements often come with even more questions, as was the case with a SF result in Stanford that was slightly muted by her failure to hold a lead against Chakvetadze, in the end, Hantuchova is back in the Top 10... and that can't be seen as anything but progress.
SURPRISES: Yvonne Meusburger & Yanina Wickmayer

with nine career circuit titles. 23-year old Austrian Meusburger has been successful on the ITF tour, but only recently has her success translated to WTA tour eyebrow-raisers. That's surely what happened in Bad Gastein, as she reached her first tour singles final and picked up victories over Loit, Birnerova, Dominguez-Lino and Knapp. A few weeks ago, 17-year old Belgian Wickmayer provided her country's only Fed Cup point against China with a win over Zi Yan. This week, she won an ITF title (the fourth of her career) by taking the $25K in Les Contamines with a win over Julie Coin. She also claimed the doubles crown with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
VETERANS: Francesca Schiavone & Elena Likhovtseva

if only Schiavone could bottle the adrenaline she gets from her Fed Cup participation, she'd have a nice little product to sell in between practice sessions. Just two weeks after guiding Italy into another FC final with wins over Mauresmo and Golovin, she FINALLY claimed her first tour singles title at age 27, winning the Bad Gastein Tier IV final over Meusburger. Hmmm, with her name now crossed off the list, NOW who's the best/most accomplished WTA player who's never won a singles title? Meanwhile, Likhovtseva was the Most Valuable Russian -- not Kournikova -- on the Sacramento Capital roster as she led the team to a World Team Tennis championship over the weekend.
FRESH FACES: Olga Govortsova & Stephanie Dubois

Belarus' Govortsova, 18, has been a mover-and-shaker in terms of slam qualifying this season, and last week in Stanford she showed her knack for successful qualifying runs again. In the main draw, she knocked off Catalina Castano and, in her first win over a top 20 player, Shahar Peer en route to her maiden tour QF. As the anniversary of her Montreal retirement win over Kim Clijsters approaches, the 20-year old Dubois is "feeling it" again. In the $50K in Lexington, she won her second straight ITF title (over Anne Keothavong), and picked up nice wins over Della'Acqua and Jidkova, too.
DOWN: Patty Schnyder
only Sneaky Patty would find herself in a situation where her husband is coaching her opponent, right? But it turned out to be the case when '06 Stanford runner-up Schnyder met Mirza in the Stanford QF, with husband Rainer Hofmann occupying the odd seat in the crowd. Since Patty lost in straight sets, it must have made or some interesting Team Schnyder pillow talk.

1. Stan Final - Chakvetadze d. Mirza
As usual, Chakvetadze was somewhat overshadowed in this match by crowd favorite Mirza, but the fact remains that no one has more hard court wins this season than the Russian Doll.
2. BG Final - Schiavone d. Meusburger
Schiavone avoids going 0-for-9 in career finals.
3. BG 1st - Groenefeld d. Vinci
Could it be that her Wimbledon post-match bloodletting was her first step back to better mental health? This nice win over the #3 seed, including a love set in the 3rd, will certainly give her something to feel good about. She lost her next match, but it went to a 3rd set tie-break. After so many down moments in' 07, even that is something she might be able to see the bright side of now that maybe her darkest moments have passed.
4. Stan 2nd - Osterloh d. Bartoli
At Wimbledon, Bartoli upset the world #1. In her first action since SW19, she fell to a player with a three-digit ranking. No one said this was going to be easy for La Trufflette.
5. Stan QF - Mirza d. Schnyder
Forget the White Mile, Rainer's penance might include the Green Mile.
HM- Stan Doub.F - Mirza/Peer d. Azarenka/Chakvetadze
The last time players met in both the singles and doubles final of the same event was Davenport and Clijsters in 2003.

6...Justine Henin (5-1)
6...Jelena Jankovic (4-2)
4...Amelie Mauresmo (1-3)
4...Svetlana Kuznetsova (0-4)
3...Ana Ivanovic (1-2)

Feb/Mar - Justine Henin (Dubai/Doha)
Jan/Mar - Serena Williams (Aust./Miami)
June - Justine Henin (R.Garros/Eastbourne)

28...Greta Arn, GER/Estoril
27...Akiko Morigami, JPN/Prague
26...Sybille Bammer, AUT/Pattaya
26...Milagros Sequera, VEN/Fes

15..Maria Sharapova, 2003-06
10..Anastasia Myskina, 1999-05
9...Olga Morozova, 1969-75
8...Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2002-06
7...Nadia Petrova, 2005-07 (1)
7...Elena Dementieva, 2003-07 (1)
6...ANNA CHAKVETADZE, 2006-07 (4)


1. Anna Chakvetadze, RUS -

The Russian Doll went 10-0 on the American hard courts while most of the rest of the Top 10 were on the sidelines.
2. Francesca Schiavone, ITA - clearly in her element, Schiavone starred in the Noodles' Fed Cup SF win, then finally won her first career title two weeks later.
3. Venus Williams, USA - in a losing American effort in the Fed Cup SF, Venus was the clear victor against Top 10ers Petrova and Chakvetadze in singles.
4. Sania Mirza, IND - with a SF and Final, the exciting game of the Indian Princess is back in the conversation.
5. Agnes Szavay, HUN - the teenager won her first career title in Palermo.

1. Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
2. Sania Mirza/IND
3. Daniela Hantuchova/SVK
4. Anabel Medina-Garrigues/ESP
5. Shahar Peer/ISR
6. Martina Muller/GER
7. Kaia Kanepi/EST
8. Alona Bondarenko/UKR
9. Maria-Emilia Salerni/ARG
10. Yaroslava Shvedova/RUS
HM- Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez/ESP

1. Agnes Szavay/HUN
2. Petra Cetkovska/CZE
3. Olga Govortsova/BLR
4. Agnieszka Radwanska/POL
5. Karin Knapp/ITA
6. Stephanie Dubois/CAN
7. Ayumi Morita/JPN
8. Dominika Cibulkova/SVK
9. Alexa Glatch/USA
10. Edina Gallovits/ROU
HM- Kimberly Couts/USA

1. Nika Ozegovic/CRO
2. Tatjana Malek/GER
3. Yvonne Meusburger/AUT
4. Lilia Osterloh/USA
5. Akgul Amanmuradova/UZB
6. Sara Errani/ITA
7. Andreja Klepac/SLO
8. Eva Birnerova/CZE
9. Yanina Wickmeyer/BEL
10. Ana Vrljic/CRO
HM- Julia Goerges/GER

1. Francesca Schiavone/ITA
2. Venus Williams/USA
3. Akiko Morigami/JPN
4. Elena Likhovtseva/RUS (WTT)
5. Sybille Bammer/AUT
HM- Katarina Srebotnik/SLO

1t. Amelie Mauresmo/FRA & Tatiana Golovin/FRA
3. Anastassia Rodionova/RUS
HM- Marion Bartoli/FRA

1. Francesca Schiavone/ITA
2. Sania Mirza/IND
3. Sharon Fichman/CAN
HM- Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER

1. Petra Cetkovska/CZE
2. Stephanie Gehrlein/GER
3. Andrea Petkovic/GER
4. Stephanie Dubois/CAN
5. Alize Cornet/FRA

TOP PERFORMANCE: Italy defeats France 3-2 in the Fed Cup SF, earning a chance to defend 2006's title

FC (ITA/FRA) - Schiavone d. Golovin
Golovin led 5-2 in the 3rd, needing just one more game to send the Pastries to the final. But the crowd unnerved her, Schiavone's sails were powered by the home support... and the rest was Fed Cup history.

COMEBACK OF THE MONTH: Just weeks after giving birth to her first son, Lindsay Davenport announced plans for a return from her abbreviated "retirement."

INGLORIOUS MOMENT OF THE MONTH: Anastassia Rodionova was DQ'd from her 1st Round match against Angelique Kerber in Cincinnati when she was deemed to have hit a ball in anger at/or in the direction of courtside fans who were cheering for Kerber. The Russian has denied the intent, but the DQ will remain.

2006 FINAL: Sharapova d. Clijsters
2007 TOP: Sharapova/Jankovic

=Rd. of 16=
Sharapova d. Golovin
Peer d. Safina
Chakvetadze d. Bammer
V.Williams d. Hantuchova
Schnyder d. Hingis
Petrova d. Srebotnik
Dementieva d. Bartoli
Jankovic d. Safarova

Sharapova d. Peer
V.Williams d. Chakvetadze
Petrova d. Schnyder
Jankovic d. Dementieva

V.Williams d. Sharapova
Jankovic d. Petrova

V.Williams d. Jankovic

...the Supernova is the defending champion here, as her San Diego title provided a nice warm-up for her win in New York a few weeks later. With all her issues in '07, a superior result here would surely be a welcome occurrence with such a big title defense coming up (and with Sharapova still looking for her first title this season). But Venus would seem to be coming to town in fine form and health, and based on the past month I'll go with her.

=Rd. of 16=
Sharapova d. Golovin
Peer d. Safina
Chakvetadze d. Sugiyama
V.Williams d. Azarenka
Hingis d. Schnyder
Petrova d. A.Bondarenko
Dementieva d. Bartoli
Jankovic d. Safarova

Sharapova d. Peer
V.Williams d. Chakvetadze
Hingis d. Petrova
Jankovic d. Dementieva

V.Williams d. Sharapova
Hingis d. Jankovic

Hingis d. V.Williams

2006 FINAL: Zheng d. Myskina
2007 TOP: Medina-Garrigues/A.Radwanska

Medina-Garrigues d. Birnerova
Zakopalova d. Loit
Kanepi d. Groenefeld
A.Radwanska d. Wozniacki

Medina-Garrigues d. Zakopalova
A.Radwanska d. Kanepi

Medina-Garrigues d. A.Radwanska

...AMG didn't attempt to extend her three-year title run in Palermo when it came up just a week after Fed Cup, so here's her chance to replace the points.

Dusehvina d. Medina-Garrigues
Loit d. Zakopalova
Kanepi d. Pironkova
A.Radwanska d. Vesnina

Dushevina d. Loit
A.Radwanska d. Kanepi

A.Radwanska d. Dushevina

All for now.


Blogger Topaz said...

Hey Todd, have you been catching any of the Washington Women's pro ciruit tourny this week?

Sat Aug 04, 12:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Topaz said...

Todd, I've put up a post on my blog (brand spanking new!) on the women's final at DC if you are interested...also have some pictures.

Sun Aug 05, 10:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Sure, topaz, put the link here for it and I'll either include it in this week's Backspin or in the Links of the Moment section (or both, I guess). :)

Yeah, and I know I promised myself to go this year... but I guess I'll have to try to check that off next year. I wish there was a WTA tour event in the area like their used to be. :(

I guess the REAL action was at the men's event, though, with Jonathan Isner going from nowhere to the final. Not sure if he's simply an American version of Ivo Karlovic, though. Still... 6-feet-9!

Mon Aug 06, 09:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Topaz said...

Isner was the story of the week! They didn't make it easy to go watch the women, that's for sure, and this year they didn't even put their final on center court. I know the organizers eventually would like to turn it into a WTA event, but I think if that happens it would be way off in the future.

My entry for the women's final is here, but there are other pictures and posts throughout the blog, which is still under construction!

Mon Aug 06, 12:10:00 PM EDT  

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