Wk.38- Szummer & Fzall
You knew it would happen, and it looks as if it finally did on Sunday in Beijing. The long, overplaying '07 trek of Jelena Jankovic finally led to her hitting the physical wall and wilting on the court. She led the final by a 7-6/5-1 score, even holding a match point, before going down in flames seemingly in the face of (finally!) fatigue.
But then again, how much of what happened was because of way too much match play (Jankovic is heading full bore to 100 matches), a neck injury that caused Jankovic's body to stiffen, or even easily-distracted Jelena herself (it's not like this was the first time the Serb blew a big lead, after all), is debatable. The hungry 18-year old Hungarian who admires Lance Armstrong had more than a little to do with things. It's no small detail that Jankovic's match point wasn't just erased on a careless error. In a move befitting a future big-time champion, it was eradicated by an ace from 18-year old Agnes Szavay.
Szavay has been the revelation of the second half of the 2007 season. She won a title in Palermo, then ruled the court in New Haven before a back injury forced her to retire from the final she was leading against Svetlana Kuznetsova. As if to prove she was NOT an automaton, Szavay lost the Contessova rematch at the US Open, szuccumbing to the pressure of the moment in the QF... but, hey, she reached the quarters as an unseeded player.
But in Beijing, Szavay proved to be more than just a szummer szensation, as she opened the fzall by taking title #2 in her third tour singles final since mid-July. As of Monday, she's a Top 20 player for the first time, reaching the stated goal in her WTA bio with quite a bit of time to spare. Considering how she's played the last couple of months, maybe Szavay's new ranking goal should be sliced to a single-digit number.
*WEEK 38 CHAMPIONS*
BEIJING, CHINA (II-Hard)
S: Agnes Szavay def. Jelena Jankovic 6-7/7-5/6-2
D: Chuang/Hsieh d. Han/Xu
KOLKATA, INDIA (III-Greenset Indoor)
S: Maria Kirilenko def. Mariya Koryttseva 6-0/6-2
D: King/Kudryavtseva d. Brianti/Koryttseva
PORTOROZ, SLOVENIA (IV-Hard)
S: Tatiana Golovin def. Katarina Srebotnik 2-6/6-4/6-4
D: Hradecka/Voracova d. Klepac/Likhovtseva
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Agnes Szavay
... Now, of course, if she goes through Venus to win in Seoul this week, the tone of the Hungarian's story would be ramped up a few notches.
RISERS: Maria Kirilenko & Tatiana Golovin
... occasionally, these two will put up results that remind us why their names were on everyone's lips just a short while ago... and that it had nothing to do with what they were wearing at the time. Two more of those moments occurred this weekend. In Kolkata, Kirilenko knocked out the likes of Flavia Pennetta and Daniela Hantuchova to reach her first final since she won her only title in Beijing in '05. Title #2 came with a dominating win over Mariya Koryttseva, as she became the eighth different Russian to win a tour singles title in 2007. Meanwhile, Golovin's good and bad '07 rollercoaster turned good in Portoroz. After taking out Vera Dushevina in the SF, she won a three-setter against Katarina Srebotnik in front of a Slovenian crowd. It was the Frussian Pastry's second title this season after having come into the year still looking for her career's first.
SURPRISES: Shuai Peng & Anne Keothavong
...Na Li aside, Peng (who entered the week at #49) has often appeared to have the most potential amongst the contending Cookies, but her off the court dramas always have overshadowed (and maybe stunted?) her on-court growth. Finally, in Beijing, she had some results that harkened back to her huge upset of Kim Clijsters during the Belgian's juggernaut North American hardcourt run in '05. Okay, so her wins over Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo maybe should be marked with an asterisk considering the physical conditions of the two former world-#1's, but anything that can get the 21-year old Peng back in the game is worth mentioning just a year before the Olympics take place in Beijing. In Kolkata, world #144, Britain's Anne Keothavong, reached her first career tour SF with wins over Sara Errani, Sunitha Rao and Tzipora Obziler.
VETERANS: Katarina Srebotnik & Lindsay Davenport
... Slovenia's Srebotnik, 26, reached her first singles final in over a year ('06 Cincinnati) in Portoroz, highlighted by wins over Meghann Shaughnessy and Gisela Dulko before her three-set loss to Golovin. Davenport didn't win another title, and lost the rematch with Jelena Jankovic in the Beijing SF, but easy wins over Eleni Daniilidou and Elena Dementieva still made for a successful second week of her comeback.
FRESH FACES: Mariya Koryttseva & Chia-Jung Chuang
...their's aren't the fresh faces of teenagers, but this pair of 22-year olds did manage to set themselves apart from the crowd last week for possibly the first time. Ukrainian Koryttseva (#164) reached her first tour final (Yay! I picked her to reach at least a first career SF back in January.) in Kolkata, taking out Vania King, Stephanie Foretz and Anne Keothavong along the way. She also reached the doubles final. Taiwan's Chuang, usually seemingly tied at the doubles hip with Yung-Jan Chan, gave herself a slight edge over her usual partner when she won her fourth title of the season (one more than Chan) in Beijing with Su-Wei Hsieh. The win moved her to a new career-high doubles ranking of #7, two spots ahead of Chan.
DOWN: Olga Poutchkova & Jelena Jankovic
... Poutchkova lost her eleventh straight match last week, and thirteenth in her last fourteen matches. She hasn't won a match since Roland Garros, and faces qualifier Julie Ditty in the 1st Round in Guangzhou. Jankovic knows all about horrendous losing streaks, having gone through a similar one of her own last season. She pulled out of it, but she's still prone to blow huge leads in matches. She did it again in the Beijing final, losing a 7-6/5-1 advantage during which she held a match point against Agnes Szavay, dropping six straight game to lose the 2nd set and twelve of the final fourteen to blow the match as her fatigue finally got the best of her. It's moments like this that make me question whether she'll ever win the grand slam so many predict for her. These types of losses are a bit too common for someone who'd have to win seven straight under intense pressure to take a slam. Still, I suppose she gets the benefit of the doubt for this one considering the opponent and the loooong season that Jankovic has put herself through over the first nine months of '07. Thing is, she doesn't like to practice, and some of her worst results have come after extended (well, by her norm) breaks as she struggled to regain her game's rhythm. 2008 is going to be an interesting test for her if she holds to that promise of cutting back her schedule.
1. Beij F - Szavay d. Jankovic
...6-7/7-5/6-2. Szavay led the tie-break 5-0, and lost it 9-7. Jankovic led the 2nd set 5-1, but lost it 7-5. The Hungarian won the rubber in the 3rd.
2. Beij SF - Jankovic d. Davenport
...6-3/7-5. Well, at least Davenport looks like she won't serve as a brick wall into which Jelena can ram her head every time they meet.
3. Kol F - Kirilenko d. Koryttseva
...6-0/6-2. In the Kolkata singles final, it was Kirilenko vs. Koryttseva. In the doubles final, it was King & Kudryavtseva over Koryttseva & Brianti. Obviously it was Brianti's fault... her named didn't start with the correct letter.
4. Port F - Golovin d. Srebotnik
...2-6/6-4/6-4. "Good Tatiana" didn't care if Srebotnik's Slovenian fans went home unfulfilled. "Good Tatiana" is fun.
5. Beij QF - Peng d. Mauresmo
...4-6/6-4/6-2. Amelie's back. Well, at least she's on the court.
HM- Lecce $25K F - Alisa Kleybanova d. Marta Marrero
...6-1/6-0. One of the "forgotten" young Russians, Kleybanova won her second ITF title of the season.
**2007 WTA TITLES**
7...Justine Henin / BEL
4...Jelena Jankovic / SRB
4...Anna Chakvetadze / RUS
2...Ana Ivanovic / SRB
2...Serena Williams / USA
2...Venus Williams / USA
2...TATIANA GOLOVIN / FRA
2...AGNES SZAVAY / HUN
2...Gisela Dulko / ARG
**2007 WTA FINALS**
8...Justine Henin (7-1)
8...JELENA JANKOVIC (4-4)
6...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-5)
4...Anna Chakvetadze (4-0)
4...Ana Ivanovic (2-2)
4...Amelie Mauresmo (1-3)
**BEST FINAL WIN PCT IN 2007 - 2+**
1.000 ...Anna Chakvetadze (4-0)
1.000 ...Serena Williams (2-0)
1.000 ...Venus Williams (2-0)
1.000 ...TATIANA GOLOVIN (2-0)
0.875 ...Justine Henin (7-1)
0.667 ...AGNES SZAVAY (2-1)
0.667 ...Gisela Dulko (2-1)
**2007 DOUBLES TITLES - TEAMS**
6...Cara Black/Liezel Huber (RSA/USA)
5...Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur (USA/AUS)
3...Yung-Jan Chan/Chia-Jung Chuang (TPE/TPE)
2...LUCIE HRADECKA/RENATA VORACOVA (CZE/CZE)
2...Zi Yan/Jie Zheng (CHN/CHN)
**2007 WEEKS IN TOP 10**
[of 38 weeks]
38...Justine Henin *
38...Svetlana Kuznetsova *
38...Maria Sharapova *
34...Jelena Jankovic *
33...Nadia Petrova *
23...Anna Chakvetadze *
20...Ana Ivanovic *
19...Serena Williams *
6....Daniela Hantuchova *
3....Venus Williams *
*- in Top 10 on Sept.24
KOCKELSCHEUER, LUXEMBOURG (II-HCI)
2006 FINAL: A.Bondarenko d. Schiavone
2007 TOP: Chakvetadze/Ivanovic
Chakvetadze d. Hantuchova
Petrova d. Golovin
Chakvetadze d. Petrova
GUANGZHOU, CHINA (III-HCO)
2006 FINAL: Chakvetadze d. Medina-Garrigues
2007 TOP: Medina-Garrigues/Razzano
Medina-Garrigues d. Peng
Razzano d. Cibulkova
Medina-Garrigues d. Razzano
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (IV-HCO)
2006 FINAL: Daniilidou d. Sugiyama
2007 TOP: V.Williams/Szavay
V.Williams d. Pennetta
Szavay d. Kirilenko
V.Williams d. Szavay
All for now.