Monday, November 05, 2007

Wk.44- 2007 I.A.'s: The Top 20

The intriguing fates of some of the current Top 20 players in the world were considered back at the start of the world, but some were left to chance and the occasional whim of the tennis gods. Thus, we now sort through the nearly-gone season and attempt to determine what we learned about each of these women in 2007.

1. Justine Henin/BEL - at the start of the year, the thought was that the only way Henin could top her 2006 campaign -- in which she won Roland Garros, reached all four slam finals plus the last match at the YEC, as well as the Fed Cup decider, and finished #1 -- would be to win half of the slams this around. Well, needless to say, 2007 ended up being the best season of her Hall of Fame career.
2. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS - her lack of a finishing punch, after going 1-5 in finals, prevents what should have been a memorable season from really having any truly memorable moments outside of her leading of Team Russia to a Fed Cup championship.
3. Jelena Jankovic/SRB - in January, it was said in this space that Jankovic looked like a slam contender at times, then at others crumbled like a sand castle at high tide. Hmmm, still sounds like an apt description, even with her improved consistencey.
4. Ana Ivanovic/SRB - the first Serbian Fantastovic to reach a slam final, AnaIvo still has room to improve and climb even higher in the rankings.
5. Serena Williams/USA - she's still capable (see Oz and Miami) as well as questionable (most of the rest of '07), and still full of those biting opinions (about an "overrated" Sharapova and "lucky" Henin) that would be more fun to recount if she could be on the court often enough to back them up.
6. Maria Sharapova/RUS - she was due for an off-year, but even she couldn't have envisioned battling a shoulder injury, lacking confidence, and exhibiting a decidedly reduced aura all season long. Of course, there's still Madrid... yeah, that trip's probably not going to have a great ending, either.
7. Anna Chakvetadze/RUS - a great year has been marred somewhat by a rather awful 4Q. But, still, Little Babe 2.0 has outlasted the Swiss original.
8. Venus Williams/USA - her season, with a series of dizzy spells prompting her absence from the YEC, didn't really have the great finish her Wimbledon crown hinted was possible. Hmmm... what if '07 was just the start of a late-career push? (hint, hint)
9. Daniela Hantuchova/SVK - Wonder Girl finally found the consistency, heart, emotional control and ability to win somewhere other the Indian Wells that have eluded her all these years.
10. Marion Bartoli/FRA - Olga Poutchkova told us a year ago that Bartoli was a grand slam contender. No one believed her. But, at least for one brief shining moment at SW19, La Trufflette was indeed that in '07. Monsieur Bartoli (and Mr. Brosnan) should be given an official assist, though.
11. Elena Dementieva/RUS - Punch-Sober had a quiet year, but still won two titles, including a big one back home in Moscow that completely changed the complexion of her season.
12. Nicole Vaidisova/CZE - Mono. No meeting with Sharapova. No titles, or even a singles final. Guess that next step WILL take another season, after all.
13. Amelie Mauresmo/FRA - after 2006, she had nothing to prove. Good thing, too, since after winning that diamond racket in Antwerp, an appendectomy pretty much put the kibosh on any plans she'd had for the rest of her season.
14. Nadia Petrova/RUS - have Nadia's health issues (she had five retirements in '07) given teeth to her restless talk of potential retirement earlier this season? What if 2006 WAS her best shot at a slam final berth... and her fragile body caused her to miss out on things in Paris?
15. Tatiana Golovin/FRA - we saw Bad Tatiana (that Fed Cup implosion) and Good Tatiana (two titles, and a Zurich RU) in '07. Mats Wilanders' coaching seems to have brought out the best in the Frussian Pastry more often than not, though. I'm feeling another Top 10 prediction for 2008.
16. Dinara Safina/RUS - as runs in her family, Dinara's results were spotty. Still, she stayed in the Top 20 all year... which is more than Marat can say.
17. Patty Schnyder/SUI - the White Mile was a bit longer for Sneaky in 2007, but she's still a hoot to watch.
18. Shahar Peer/ISR - after a breakout start Down Under, Peer's North American tour proved that she had star power in New York City, too. Now, if she could just fill in the time span in between with better results next year she'll have a shot at making some real noise.
19. Martina Hingis/SUI - sure, she won a Tier I at the start of the season. But faltering results, a broken engagement and a hip injury had already turned Hingis' 2007 into one to forget... and that was before her revelation of a positive drug test for cocaine at Wimbledon and her sudden retirement last week. Now, how it ended might be ALL that is remembered. Pity.
20. Agnes Szavay/HUN - the star of the "Summer of Szavay," the teenager has the serve to challenge the top level stars. Better yet, during her best moments in '07, she looked as if she BELIEVED that she belonged... and that's half the battle right there.

Now, imagine what odd and/or excilerating happenstances await them (and us) in 2008.


S: Lindsay Davenport def. Julia Vakulenko 6-4/6-1
D: Fusano/Kops-Jones d. Dubois/Voracova

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lindsay Davenport
31-year old Davenport put a second 2007 title in her pocket in Quebec City after gaining entry into the draw with a wild card. Her 13-1 season record after having her first child should make her an interesting dark horse candidate in Melbourne in January.
RISERS: Julia Vakulenko & Vera Zvonareva

Ukraine's Vakulenko, 24, rounded out a good season (which could have been better if not for a few poorly-timed injuries) that has allowed her to match her career-best #33 ranking after her first appearance in a tour singles final in Quebec City. Meanwhile, Zvonareva is one of the few Hordettes actually playing well as the season comes to its conclusion, as she reached the Quebec SF and pushed Davenport to three sets.
SURPRISES: Renata Voracova & Julie Ditty

Czech Maiden Voracova, 24, knocked out an injured Nicole Vaidisova in the Quebec singles 1st Round and reached the doubles final with Stephanie Dubois. Meanwhile, the 28-year old American with the name that's so fun to say reached her first tour singles SF in Quebec. After qualifying, J-Ditty knocked off Alize Cornet, Maret Ani and Vania King and is now ranked a career-best #91.
VETERANS: Lindsay Davenport & Akiko Morigami
Davenport tied Monica Seles on the all-time list with career title #53. Morigami, who won her first tour title in Prague earlier this year, became the fourth woman this season to win both a WTA and ITF crown after taking the $50K Taoyuan final over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
FRESH FACE: Vania King
King's wins over Anne Kremer & Renata Voracova gave her a QF result in Quebec City, and allowed her to maintain her position as the only current American teenager who's managed to make a dent in any tour main draws for quite some time.
DOWN: Martina Hingis

everything Martina said while denying her positive Wimbledon drug test for cocaine rang true, but walking away from the sport for a second time because she doesn't want to fight the doping machine still leaves a bad taste (and probably some raised eyebrows). Unless she ultimately changes her mind, are headlines accompanied by a lingering dark cloud what she's going to settle for as she goes out the door? It just feels like a swing and a miss for the Swiss Miss.

1. Que F - Davenport d. Vakulenko
Maybe Julia can get that first career title in 2008. Hmmm, I sense an early prediction.
2. Que 1st - Voracova d. Vaidisova
...2-6/6-3 ret.
A wrist injury ended the Dynamova's season without a tour SF or Final to her credit.
3. Que SF - Davenport d. Zvonareva
It wasn't a total cakewalk in Quebec for Lindsay.
HM- Que Doub F - Fusano/Kops-Jones d. Dubois/Voracova
Quebec just brings out the best in Dubois, even if she doesn't get the big trophy as a prize.

167..Martina Navratilova
154..Chris Evert
107..Steffi Graf
92...Margaret Smith-Court
68...Evonne Goolagong-Cawley
67...Billie Jean King
55...Virginia Wade
53...Monica Seles
43...Martina Hingis

9...Justine Henin
4...Jelena Jankovic
4...Anna Chakvetadze
3...Ana Ivanovic
3...Venus Williams
2...Serena Williams
2...Daniela Hantuchova
2...Elena Dementieva
2...Tatiana Golovin
2...Agnes Szavay
2...Virginie Razzano
2...Gisela Dulko

2...GER (Arn-W, Meusburger-L)
2...ROU (Cirstea-L, Gallovits-L)
2...RUS (Bardina-L, Shvedova-W)
2...UKR (Koryttseva-L, Vakulenko-L)

**Q/LL/WC IN 2007 FINALS**
JAN - Vasilisa Bardina (Q, Hobart RU)
FEB - Amelie Mauresmo (WC, Dubai RU)
APR - Sorana Cirstea (Q, Budapest RU)
MAY - Greta Arn (Q, Estoril W)
AUG - Agnes Szavay (Q, New Haven RU)
OCT - Yung-Jan Chan (WC, Bangkok RU)

#325...Sorana Cirstea, Budapest RU
#234...Lindsay Davenport, Bali W
#176...Greta Arn, Estoril W
#164...Mariya Koryttseva, Kolkata RU
#143...Yaroslava Shvedova, Bangalore W
#114...Aleksandra Wozniak, Fes RU
#105...Tzipora Obziler, Guangzhou RU
#104...Milagros Sequera, Fes W

Pauline Parmentier / FRA (Tashkent IV, 3 ITF)
Agnieszka Radwanska / POL (Stockholm IV, 1 ITF)
Agnes Szavay / HUN (Palermo IV, Beijing II, 1 ITF)

1. Justine Henin (5405)
2. Jelena Jankovic (4097)
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova (3691)
4. Ana Ivanovic (3163)
5. Serena Williams (2767)
6. Anna Chakvetadze (2698)
7. Venus Williams (2470) (w/d)
8. Daniela Hantuchova (2431)
9. Maria Sharapova (2431)
10. Marion Bartoli (2224) (alt)
1. Black/Huber (6650)
2. Raymond/Stosur (3628)
3. Chan/Chuang (3146)
4. Sugiyama/Srebotnik (2812)
5. Peschke/Stubbs (2662) (alt)

8...Martina Navratilova
5...Steffi Graf
4...Chris Evert
3...Monica Seles
[Henin, Sharapova and S.Williams with 1 before Madrid]

**WTA CHSP FINALS - 2000-06**
2000 Martina Hingis d. Monica Seles
2001 Serena Williams d. Lindsay Davenport
2002 Kim Clijsters d. Serena Williams
2003 Kim Clijsters d. Amelie Mauresmo
2004 Maria Sharapova d. Serena Williams
2005 Amelie Mauresmo d. Mary Pierce
2006 Justine Henin-H. d. Amelie Mauresmo

2006 FINAL: Henin-H. d. Mauresmo
2006 DOUBLES F: Raymond/Stubbs d. Black/Stubbs
2007 TOP: Henin/Kuznetsova(s), Black & Huber(d)



Henin d. Hantuchova
S.Williams d. Kuznetsova

Henin d. S.Williams

Cara Black & Liezel Huber



Henin d. Sharapova
Kuznetsova d. S.Williams

Henin d. Kuznetsova

Yung-Jan Chan & Chia-Jung Chuang

All for now.

....Tennisrulz Awards nominations
...How Smart We Were / How Dumb We Were
...Intriguing Answers: Scratching an Itch
...2008 Revolving Doors
...Intriguing Answers: The Top 20

...2007 Backspin Awards
...2007 Ms. Backspin
...2007 WTA Yearbook


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