Wk.37- 37 Down, 8 To Go
The 2007 season is quickly nearing the homestretch.
Lindsay Davenport is a champion again, while Russia has another Fed Cup title (even the Supernova was there to celebrate)... and with just two months to go before the WTA closes up shop until 2008, it's time to take a quick look at how things stand in the "Ms. Backspin" race.
*PAST "Ms. BACKSPIN" WINNERS*
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
Truthfully, though, we're not going to need a photo finish like the one we had last season to determine 2007's top player. In fact, the engraving for the trophy can begin right now. But, after that, there's quite a bit of wiggle room.
*TOP PLAYERS OF 2007... as of now*
1. Justine Henin, BEL
...the official naming of the first two-time "Ms. Backspin" winner is just a mere formality at this point.
2. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
... consistent, but she hasn't been EXCEPTIONAL as often in 2007 as you'd like for your #3-ranked player in the world
3. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
... the first Serb to a slam final, one gets the notion that she might be the first to win one, too. Well, unless Djokovic beats her to it.
4. Venus Williams, USA
... after sitting out the beginning of the season, she's actually played far more than you realize.
5. Serena Williams, USA
... after opening the season on such a high in Melbourne, she's ultimately played far less than we'd have hoped back in January.
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
... she's putting a nice late-year shine on a season that's seen her rise to #2 in the world.
7. Anna Chakvetadze, RUS
... always overlooked, but no Russian has accomplished more over the past twelve months than the Doll.
8. Cara Black & Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
... the best doubles team in the world.
9. Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
... had a fast start, but Stosur's injury trouble has contributed to diminishing returns of late.
10. Marion Bartoli, FRA
... no matter what, she'll always have SW19... and Pierce Brosnan.
11. Yung-Jan Chan & Chia-Jung Chuang, TPE/TPE
... the doubles revelations of the year, but they missed out on that grand slam title in New York.
12. Maria Sharapova, RUS
... Oz runner-up. Roland Garros semifinalist. A Tier I winner in San Diego. But #12? The Supernova's current standing is the very definition of "wiggle room."
==IN THE CONVERSATION==
S.Peer/ISR (2008's big riser?)
A.Mauresmo/FRA (just because of Antwerp)
M.Santangelo/ITA (five doubles titles)
S.Bammer/AUT (though Lindsay is stealing her mother thunder)
G.Dulko/ARG (two titles)
N.Petrova/RUS (Hopman & Fed Cups, plus a title)
A.Radwanska/POL (the first-ever Polish champion)
D.Hantuchova/SVK (finally, another title)
A.Szavay/HUN (2008's "It" Girl?)
*WEEK 37 CHAMPIONS*
BALI, INDONESIA (III-Hard)
S: Lindsay Davenport d. Daniela Hantuchova 6-4/3-6/6-2
D: C.Ji/S.Sun d. Craybas/Grandin
FED CUP FINAL (Moscow, Russia)
Russia def. Italy 4-0
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lindsay Davenport
...a 31-year old mother ranked #234 in the world wins a title in her first singles action in nearly a year. If it was anyone other than a handful of players, it would be a stunning development... but the former world #1 is one of those players, so Davenport's Bali title doesn't necessarily floor anyone. But, still, getting three-set wins over Jelena Jankovic and Daniela Hantuchova probably isn't the road down which most would have thought her first comeback title would have strolled down. Just goes to show you how much of a role injuries have had in Davenport's title drought of nearly two years. As it is, she said this was the first tournament in about that long where she hasn't had some sort of lower-extremity injury to contend with between matches.
RISERS: Svetlana Kuznetsova & Tsvetana Pironkova
...the Contessova had a pretty hard-luck year (thanks to a string of big match losses) going up until a few weeks ago. Then, three retirements gave her a title in New Haven, and the quickly dissolving bottom half of the draw presented her with the chance to reach her second US Open final. With momentum going her way, she was the Russian MVP of the Fed Cup final, breezing through Mara Santangelo and then coming back from match point down against Francesca Schiavone to wrap up a shutout of the defending champion Italians. Meanwhile, with Sesil Karatantcheva coming back on tour in '08, fellow Bulgarian Pironkova is starting to make her way through the ranks after that brief, short-lived spark in '05. She just won a $100K ITF event in Bourdeaux, defeating Alize Cornet 6-2/6-3 in the final.
SURPRISES: Sara Errani & Chinmei Ji/Shengnan Sun
...Italy's Errani, 20, made it all the way to the Bali SF with wins over Akgul Amanmuradova, Anabel Medina-Garrigues and Aiko Nakamura. Meanwhile, yet another Chinese doubles team emerged less than a year away from the Beijing Olympics. This time it was Chinmei Ji & Shengnan Sun, ranked #93 and #68 in doubles heading into the tournament, who grabbed their first tour crowns with a title in Bali.
VETERAN: Jagger (and his mom Lindsay, too)
FRESH FACE: Sorana Cirstea
...three Romanian women have reached at least the SF stage of WTA events this season, but 17-year old Cirstea is the only one to reach a final (in Budapest back in April). She didn't do it again in Bali, but she did qualify and reach the SF with victories over Alina Jidkova, Patty Schnyder and Edina Gallovits (another of those rising Romanians).
DOWN: Jelena Jankovic
... Jelena played. Again. She's set to play this week. Again. In the Bali QF, she went out to Davenport in the returning mother's first match against a Top 10 player in nearly a year. With the Serb's 2007 match tally now over 90 matches, will a "Jelena's-About-to-Drop Watch" need to be instituted during the 4th Quarter?
1. Bali QF - Davenport d. Jankovic
...6-4/2-6/6-2. The very definition of a statement win, as a totally healthy Davenport proves she can still beat 'em all if her body is right. Think the Williams sisters, without the catty comments if she happens to lose.
2t. FC Final/Match 1 - Chakvetadze d. Schiavone
2t. FC Final/Match 3 - Kuznetsova d. Schiavone
...4-6/7-5/7-5. The Fed Cup gods giveth, and they taketh away. In the SF, Schiavone upset Mauresmo and Golovin, erasing a big 3rd set deficit against the latter, to send Italy to the final. In Moscow, she led 3-1 in the 3rd against Chakvetadze on Saturday, and then held a match point against Kuznetsova in their 2:45 meeting on Sunday.
3. Bali F - Davenport d. Hantuchova
...6-4/3-6/6-2. What does Lindsay do for an encore?
4. Bali 1st - Davenport d. Daniilidou
...6-2/6-2. Hello, world. Davenport ran off a string of twenty consecutive points in this match during one stretch.
5. Bali 2nd - Cirstea d. Schnyder
...6-2/5-7/7-5. Hmmm, did Sorana get any coaching from Rainer? Just checking.
HM- Lleida $10K F - Heidi El Tabakh d. Eva Fernandez-Brugues
...6-2/6-3. Hey, another Canadian champion!=============================
**ALL-TIME CAREER WTA TITLES**
67....Billie Jean King
**OLDEST 2007 SINGLES CHAMPIONS**
28...Greta Arn, Meghann Shaughnessy
27...Emilie Loit, Amelie Mauresmo, Akiko Morigami, Francesca Schiavone, Venus Williams
**LOW-RANKED FINALISTS IN 2007**
#325...Sorana Cirstea/ROU (April-Budapest, L)
#234...LINDSAY DAVENPORT/USA (SEPT-BALI, W)
#176...Greta Arn/GER (May-Estoril, W)
#143...Yaroslava Shvedova/RUS (Feb-Bangalore, W)
#114...Aleksandra Wozniak/CAN (May-Fes, L)
#104...Milagros Sequera/VEN (May-Fes, W)
**NATIONS - MOST DIFF. 2007 CHAMPIONS**
7...Russia (Chakvetadze, Dementieva, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Safina, Sharapova, Shvedova)
4...USA (Davenport, Shaughnessy, Williams, Williams)
3...France (Golovin, Loit, Mauresmo)
2...Belgium (Clijsters, Henin)
2...Italy (Schiavone, Italy)
2...Serbia (Ivanovic, Janknovic)
**2007 FINAL RECORDS - BY NATION**
1-0....Austria, Poland, Spain, Venezuela
1-1....Hungary, Japan, SLOVAKIA
0-1....Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Israel, Ukraine
BEIJING, CHINA (II-HCO)
2006 FINAL: Kuznetsova d. Mauresmo
2007 TOP: Kuznetsova/Jankovic
Davenport d. Szavay
...Kuznetsova was the pick here. Then, of course, she pulled out after the 1st Round has been played. As a result, I'll go with Davenport, as she could pretty much go through this event playing the same people (Ditty, Daniilidou, Jankovic) she beat in Bali.
KOLKATA, INDIA (III-GSI)
2006 FINAL: Hingis d. Poutchkova
2007 TOP: Bartoli/Hantuchova
Bartoli d. Errani
Kirilenko d. Hantuchova
Kirilenko d. Bartoli
...it's become a tradition to pick Mirza to win a singles title at every tournament held in India, and then to watch her walk away with a doubles trophy instead. That was the plan this time around, too, but then a wrist injury forced a late withdrawal by the Princess (yep, that makes two-for-two in original picks pulling out of this week's tournaments). Now I'll go with Kirilenko, who usually raises her game in Asia.
PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA (IV-HCO)
2006 FINAL: Paszek d. Camerin
2007 TOP: Golovin/Bammer
Zvonareva d. Golovin
Dulko d. Shaughnessy
Zvonareva d. Dulko
...hey, at this point, when in doubt, pick a Russian. That is, unless they pull out of the tournament. So far, Vera is still around.
All for now.