Wk.39- The Race is On
In the season's closing weeks, berths in the YEC are still to be decided, as well as the final year-end spots in the rankings behind world #1 Justine Henin.
(Oh, and don't forget about the "Tennisrulz Awards," of course. The ballot for the reader-voted awards will arrive on Tennisrulz soon, and the preliminary TRA nominations will be posted here on Backspin this week. All right, that takes care of that gratuitous and/or self-serving plug.)
Ah, but as for September...
*SEPTEMBER/4Q AWARDS - WEEK 37-39*
PERFORMANCE/PLAYER OF THE MONTH: The Russian Fed Cup Team (and Svetlana Kuznetsova). With the first part of the month actually taking place in the 3Q, the Hordettes' latest FC triumph stands out as the biggest 4Q moment of September. Anna Chakvetadze opened the final against Italy with an important tone-setting singles win, but it was Kuznetsova's 2-0 record that clinched Team Russia's third FC title in the last four years.
1. Ana Ivanovic / SRB
2. Maria Kirilenko / RUS
3. Tatiana Golovin / FRA
4. Daniela Hantuchova / SVK
5. Anna Chakvetadze / RUS
HM- Marion Bartoli / FRA
1. Agnes Szavay / HUN
2. Chia-Jung Chuang / TPE
3. Vera Dushevina / RUS
4. Mariya Koryttseva / UKR
5. Elena Vesnina / RUS
HM- Sorana Cirstea / ROU
1. Virginie Razzano / FRA
2. Shuai Peng / CHN
3. Anastasia Rodionova / RUS
4. Anne Keothavong / GBR
5. Sara Errani / ITA
HM- Julie Ditty / USA
1. Lindsay Davenport / USA
2. Venus Williams / USA
3. Katarina Srebotnik / SLO
4. Tzipora Obziler / ISR
5. Flavia Pennetta / ITA
HM- Eleni Daniilidou / GRE
1. Francesca Schiavone / ITA
2. Martina Hingis / SUI
3. Olga Poutchkova / RUS
1. Valentina Sassi / ITA
2. Tsvetana Pironkova / BUL
3. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez / ESP
Fed Cup Final 3 - Kuznetsova d. Schiavone
...4-6/7-5/7-5. In a 2:45 match, Kuznetsova survives a match point in the 2nd set, and goes on to clinch the FC title for Russia.
Beijing F - Szavay d. Jankovic
...6-7/7-5/6-2. Jankovic led this one 7-6/5-1 and held a match point.
Lindsay Davenport returned to singles action for the first time in nearly a year, and won her initial comeback event in Bali with three-set victories over Daniela Hantuchova and Jelena Jankovic.
*MOST TELLING RESULT...for 2008?*
Agnes Szavay won the Beijing title with a monster come-from-behind win over Jelena Jankovic, as an ace on match point down led the way toward the title that put the Hungarian in the Top 20 for the first time. With the vibrations of the "Szummer of Szavay" having already stretched into the Fzall, might 2008 be the epic battleground on which Szavay could become a Valkyrie picking off her victims at will (and, yes, that is a potential "nickname alert") en route to even bigger triumphs?
*WEEK 39 CHAMPIONS*
KOCKELSCHEUER, LUXEMBOURG (II-Hard Indoor)
S: Ana Ivanovic def. Daniela Hantuchova 3-6/6-4/6-4
D: Benesova/Husarova d. Azarenka/Peer
GUANGZHOU, CHINA (III-Hard)
S: Virginie Razzano def. Tzipora Obziler 6-0/6-3
D: Peng/Yan d. King/T.Sun
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (IV-Hard)
S: Venus Williams def. Maria Kirilenko 6-3/1-6/6-4
D: Chuang/Hsieh d. Daniilidou/Woehr
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ana Ivanovic
... in her first action of the 4Q, AnaIvo edged closer to top-ranked Serb Jelena Jankovic by taking the Tier II title in Luxembourg, defeating Tatiana Golovin and Vera Zvonareva before erasing a 6-3/3-0 deficit against Daniela Hantuchova in the final. It's her third title of the season, and fifth of her career.
RISERS: Maria Kirilenko & Marion Bartoli
... Kirilenko's Far Eastern surge continued with the second of back-to-back trips to singles finals, as she followed up her title in Kolkata with a berth in the Seoul final against Venus Williams, who she pushed to three sets. Meanwhile, La Trufflette continued to put some steam behind her recently improving results with Luxembourg wins over Alona Bondarenko, Sybille Bammer, and top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze en route to a SF.
SURPRISES: Virginie Razzano & Anastasia Rodionova
... after failing to do so in her second career appearance in a final at Forest Hills days before the start of the US Open, 24-year old Razzano finally claimed her first tour singles title by defeating Tzipora Obziler in the Guangzhou final. Rodionova, at the center of that default controversy a while back, has rebounded well. In Guangzhou, the 25-year old Russian defeated Aleksandra Wozniak, Camille Pin and #1-seed Anabel Medina-Garrigues to reach her first tour SF since 2002 in Quebec City.
VETERANS: Venus Williams & Tzipora Obziler
... with the possibility of Hantuchova and/or Bartoli edging closer to her in the qualification race for the YEC ever-present, Venus did precisely what she needed to do and claimed the Tier IV in Seoul with a three-set win over Kirilenko in the final for her third title of the season. 34-year old Israeli Obziler, a career-best semifinalist in Guangzhou a year ago, did that result one better by reaching her first career tour final after wins over Shuai Peng, Raluca Olaru and Anastasia Rodionova.
FRESH FACES: Ksenia Pervak & Mariana Duque-Marino
... 16-year old Russian Pervak, the #5-ranked junior in the world, won her first ITF singles title with a win over Corinna Dentoni in the final of the $25K Batumi event. Meanwhile, 18-year old Colombian Duque-Marino, a surprise Girls finalist at Roland Garros this year, won the $25K Juarez event in Mexico.
DOWN: Daniela Hantuchova
... it would be easy to go with Olga Poutchkova again this week after she extended her losing streak to twelve matches, but I'll go with Wonder Girl even though she defeated Patty Schnyder and Marion Bartoli to reach the Luxembourg final. Against Ana Ivanovic in that match, Hantuchova held a 6-3/3-0 lead before quite possibly seeing her hopes of qualifying for the YEC go up in smoke, barring an injury-related absence of one of the top eight women in the points race. She currently trails Venus by 249 points and Serena (who's set to return to action this week) by 335.
1. Lux F - Ivanovic d. Hantuchova
...3-6/6-4/6-4. The quest for a title somewhere -- anywhere -- other than Indian Wells continues for Wonder Girl. Still, at least she's finally giving herself some opportunities after a few seasons of fighting both her opponents as well as herself.
2. Seoul F - V.Williams d. Kirilenko
...6-3/1-6/6-4. As Sharapova (still bothered by the shoulder) sees her season stumble to the finish line, the other Russian Maria very nearly won her tenth straight match here.
3. Seoul QF - Daniilidou d. Szavay
...4-6/7-5 ret. It's rare to ever see a player retire from a match she's leading or that's tied, but Szavay's done it twice in less than two months. This time the culprit was a thigh injury.
4. Guang F - Razzano d. Obziler
...6-0/6-3. Not a bad feat when you can have a career-best result at age 34.
5. Seoul Doub F - Chuang/Hsieh d. Daniilidou/Woehr
...6-2/6-2. This was Chuang's fifth doubles title of the year (just one off the tour lead), and her second in two weeks while partnering Hsieh.
HM- Lux 1r - Azarenka d. A.Radwanska 4-6/7-5/6-1
Lux 2r - Azarenka d. Petrova 6-2/6-1
...not a bad week for Azarenka, who was also half of the Luxembourg doubles RU with Shahar Peer. The 18-year old Belarussian is the #1-seed in Tashkent this week, which means she has a golden opportunity to grab her first career title.
**2007 WTA TITLES**
7...Justine Henin / BEL
4...Jelena Jankovic / SRB
4...Anna Chakvetadze / RUS
3...ANA IVANOVIC / SRB
3...VENUS WILLIAMS / USA
**2007 WTA FINALS**
8...Justine Henin (7-1)
8...Jelena Jankovic (4-4)
6...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-5)
5...ANA IVANOVIC (3-2)
**MOST 2007 WTA SF**
14..Jelena Jankovic (8-5 +L)
10..Justine Henin (8-2)
8...Svetlana Kuznetsova (6-2)
8...Anna Chakvetadze (4-4)
8...DANIELA HANTUCHOVA (4-4)
**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...CHIA-JUNG CHUANG/SU-WEI HSIEH (TPE/TPE)
2...Lucie Hradecka/Renata Voracova (CZE/CZE)
2...Zi Yan/Jie Zheng (CHN/CHN)
**2007 TEENAGED CHAMPS - BY NATION**
2...Russia (Chakvetadze-1, Shvedova-1)
**OLDEST 2007 FIRST-TIME FINALISTS**
34...TZIPORA OBZILER (GUANGZHOU - L)
28...Greta Arn (Estoril - W)
26...Sybille Bammer (Pattaya - W)
24...Roberta Vinci (Bogota - W)
**HIGH-RANKED 2007 FIRST-TIME CHAMPIONS**
#20...Tatiana Golovin, Amelia Island
#31...Francesca Schiavone, Bad Gastein
#35...Agnieszka Radwanska, Stockholm
#39...VIRGINIE RAZZANO, GUANGZHOU
*BACKSPIN 2007 PLAYERS OF MONTH/QTR*
JANUARY: Serena Williams
FEBRUARY: Amelie Mauresmo
MARCH: Serena Williams
Q1: SERENA WILLIAMS
APRIL: Jelena Jankovic
MAY: Jelena Jankovic
Q2/CLAY: JUSTINE HENIN
JUNE: Justine Henin
Q2/GRASS: VENUS WILLIAMS
JULY: Anna Chakvetadze
AUGUST: Maria Sharapova
Q3: JUSTINE HENIN
SEPT: Russian FC Team/S.Kuznetsova
STUTTGART, GERMANY (II-HCI)
2006 FINAL: Petrova d. Golovin
2007 TOP: Henin/Kuznetsova
Henin d. Jankovic
Kuznetsova d. Ivanovic
Henin d. Kuznetsova
TOKYO, JAPAN (III-HCO)
2006 FINAL: Bartoli d. Nakamura
2007 TOP: V.Williams/Mirza
V.Williams d. Pennetta
TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (IV-HCO)
2006 FINAL: T.Sun d. Tulyaganova
2007 TOP: Azarenka/Cibulkova
Azarenka d. Olaru
Amanmuradova d. Rodionova
Azarenka d. Amanmuradova
All for now.