Monday, October 08, 2007

Wk.40- Last Belgian Standing

For a year that began under such dark clouds, 2007 has turned out to be a pretty good one for Justine Henin.

Actually, it's been quite remarkable.

La Petit Taureau's wild ride from personal turmoil to the best season of her career continued this weekend in Stuttgart with her claiming her eighth title of the season (double the next two highest tour totals... combined) with a win in the final over Tatiana Golovin. Amazingly, she's claimed the eight championships while playing just twelve events (she reached a final and three SF in the four tournaments she didn't win), going 54-4 and stringing together three separate winning streaks of at least thirteen matches, and two 16-match runs (one of which is still active).

A year after reaching the final of all four grand slams, Henin did so again in '07 in two of the three majors she played. Her name is already being engraved on all the "Player of the Year" trophies, and her 1850-point lead on the computer over #2-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova means she'll be the year-end #1 for the third time in the last five seasons, and the second in a row.

Even with her record of reliability over the years, it would have been difficult to envision a season quite like the one Henin has produced if you'd been forced to give a "yay" or "nay" on the possibility back in January when her personal entanglements had just forced her to skip the Australian Open.

And to think that between then and now there was ALSO all the drama surrounding some OTHER Belgian, too. What was her name? It seems like a lifetime ago... almost as if she was never there at all.

Oh, well. At least we know which Belgian is still standing... and, all measurements aside, doing so in a very "tall" fashion, as well.


S: Justine Henin def. Tatiana Golovin 2-6/6-2/6-1
D: Peschke/Stubbs d. Chan/Safina

S: Virginie Razzano def. Venus Williams 4-6/7-6/6-4
D: T.Sun/Yan d. Chuang/King

S: Pauline Parmentier def. Victoria Azarenka 7-5/6-2
D: Poutchek/Rodionova d. Dzehalevich/Yakimova

wins over Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic (naturally) and Tatiana Golovin paved the way for career title #37, Henin's first indoor title of '07. Meanwhile, the other Belgian -- who'll soon produce a mini-Waffle -- has released a book of fan letters. (No comment is really necessary on that, of course... I'm sure the sound of eyes rolling is audible through the world wide web, right?)
RISERS: Virginie Razzano & Tatiana Golovin
Pastries accounted for two of this weekend's three singles champions, and three of the six singles finalists. Before last weekend in Guangzhou, Razzano had never won a tour singles title. Then on Saturday she won her second in a six-day span, taking the Tokyo title by overcoming three Venus Williams match points to win her tenth consecutive match and move into the Top 30 for the first time. Golovin didn't win the Stuttgart title, but the Frussian Pastry did claim the opening set from Henin after having previously handled the likes of Anna Chakvetadze, Alona Bondarenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
SURPRISES: Pauline Parmentier & Zi Yan

Week 40's third French finalist and second champion, 21-year old world #87 Parmentier played like anything but a player who'd never really any real success on the WTA tour. Although, 1st Round wins at Roland Garros and the US Open (for which she qualified) earlier this season did hint at something brewing below the surface other than the ability to win three ITF crowns in '07. In Tashkent, that potential became reality as Parmentier knocked off the #1 (Victoria Azarenka), #2 (Dominika Cibulkova) and #3 (Olga Govortsova) seeds en route to winning her first career tour title without dropping a set in the tournament. Elsewhere, while Zi Yan's fortunes with oft-injured doubles partner Jie Zheng haven't exactly panned out over the course of the season, a Toronto Tier I singles SF and her fourth doubles title of the year this weekend in Tokyo (with Tiantian Sun) have helped to fashion an otherwise pretty memorable '07 campaign for her.
VETERANS: Elena Dementieva & Kveta Peschke/Rennae Stubbs
don't write off Punch-Sober just yet. In Stuttgart, she pulled out a QF result and straight sets wins over Amelie Mauresmo and Daniela Hantuchova. This week, she's back home in Moscow for the Kremlin Cup. In the same event, Peschke & Stubbs won their second doubles title of the season.
FRESH FACES: Victoria Azarenka & Caroline Wozniacki
Azarenka is going to be kicking herself for losing the Tashkent final to Parmentier, especially after fumbling away leads in both sets in a straight sets loss. But still, the rising Belarussian's second final of the season (with Estoril) is just another step along the road to that first tour singles crown. Denmark's Wozniacki, too, is still looking for career title #1, but her first career SF in Tokyo means she's now one step closer, as well.
DOWN: Venus Williams & Lucie Safarova
looking for her second title in as many weeks, Venus blew three match points in the Tokyo final against Razzano. Safarova lost in the 1st Round in Stuttgart, making in ten straights events without a QF result after attaining three (Australian QF, Paris RU, Estoril SF) in her first six '07 tournaments.

1. Tok F - Razzano d. V.Williams
This match lasted 2:44, but it didn't have to take that long. In the 2nd set, which she eventually lost in a 9-7 tie-break, Venus held three match points. This is the second match since her Wimbledon triumph that Venus has failed to close out despite holding MP.
2. Stutt F - Henin d. Golovin
But this WAS the first set Henin's lost since that Wimbledon SF against Marion Bartoli.
3. Stutt SF - Henin d. Jankovic
Jelena must have a severe case of deja vu. She's now 0-8 against Henin, and even lost this one by the exact same score as their last match-up in the Toronto final.
4. Stutt 2nd - K.Bondarenko d. Ivanovic
The Radwanskas aren't the only sisters other than Venus and Serena who are causing waves on tour.
5. Stutt QF - Kuznetsova d. S.Williams
At least Serena is back on the court.
6. Tash F - Parmentier d. Azarenka
Parmentier is the fifth different French woman to win a title on tour this year, and the third first-time champion (Razzano & Golovin). In this one, Azarenka served at 5-3 in the 1st set and held two set points. She also led 2-0 in the 2nd. You can't say she didn't have her chances.
7. Tash 1st - Poutchkova d. Tulyaganova
Olga's long international nightmare is finally over.
8. Tok Doub F - T.Sun/Yan d. Chuang/King
In Tokyo, two Chinese players defeated a team composed of a player from Taiwan and an Asian-American. The face of the tour is changing, all right.
9. Stutt QF - Jankovic d. Petrova
...6-7/5-1 ret.
A hip injury gave Petrova her fifth loss by retirement this season.
10. Tok 1st - Pin d. Kirilenko
Pin finally beat one of the Marias.

16...JUSTINE HENIN (AUG-current)
16...Justine Henin (May-Jul)
13...Justine Henin (Feb-Mar)
13...Serena Williams (Jan-Mar)
13...Anna Chakvetadze (Jul-Aug)

2...Justine Henin (Dubai=Doha)
2...Serena Williams (Australian=Miami)
2...Justine Henin (R.G.=Eastbourne)
2...Anna Chakvetadze (Cincy=Stanford)

4...United States

25...Russia (11 titles)
16...FRANCE (7)
13...Serbia (7)
11...BELGIUM (9)

Agnieszka Radwanska / POL
Agnes Szavay / HUN

Paris SF - Lucie Safarova
Miami Final - Serena Williams
Berlin SF - Svetlana Kuznetsova
Wimbledon SF - Marion Bartoli

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (I-Supreme Indoor)
2006 FINAL: Chakvetadze d. Petrova
2007 TOP: Kuznetsova/Sharapova

Kuznetsova d. Bartoli
S.Williams d. Vaidisova
Chakvetadze d. Kirilenko
Dementieva d. Sharapova

Kuznetsova d. S.Williams
Dementieva d. Chakvetadze

Kuznetsova d. Dementieva

Kuznetsova d. Bartoli
S.Williams d. Vaidisova
Mauresmo d. Chakvetadze
Sharapova d. Schnyder

Kuznetsova d. S.Williams
Sharapova d. Mauresmo

Kuznetsova d. Sharapova

2006 FINAL: King d. Tanasugarn
2007 TOP: Jankovic/V.Williams

Jankovic d. Razzano
V.Williams d. Peer

Jankovic d. V.Williams

Jankovic d. Razzano
V.Williams d. Pennetta

V.Williams d. Jankovic

All for now.


Blogger Eric said...

okay, so this week in Zurich doubles, ai sugiyama/srebotnik and chan/chuang have the same ranking (like their totals are the same -- 15) who decides (and how do they decide) who gets to be the higher seed in the tournament? is it age? b/c currently sugiyama/srebotnik are no. 2 seeds and chan/chuang are no. 3 seeds...

and seriously what's up with the sisters? do you think this is a correct assessment: 5 years ago they were so far ahead of the game and just dominated everything -- jump to now and everyone has caught up and they haven't improved so therefore they aren't as dominant. add health issues and they can't challenge for titles they should win. i mean if you look at the power ranking index, henin is no. 1 and venus and serena aren't even no. 2 and 3...5 years ago, that wouldn't be the case which shows that henin has improved her game (not only does she have versatility, she's added power)

anywho, off to do hw BLEH

Mon Oct 15, 12:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, I think we've seen this year that when the sisters are in form and committed they're still right with or ahead of Henin (and/or Sharapova, when SHE'S right, which she hasn't been in '07, either). As far as Serena's result in Moscow, after not playing for a while a RU was still a great result.

In the doubles seeds, the tie-breaks go as follows:

1) the team with the greatest combined points

2) the team with the higher ranking the previous week

3) the team with the fewest combined number of tournaments over the 52-week period

I don't know if the tie-breaker for Zurich seeding went all the way down to #3 or not, but it does look as if Srebotnik and Sugiyama have played fewer tournaments than Chan/Chuang.

Mon Oct 15, 10:20:00 PM EDT  

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