Monday, May 16, 2005

Wk.19 - now for All. (The Backwards Column)

Now for all.

**WEEK 20 BATTLE OF "WITS"** was a pretty lean week for the Backspin Battle Royale. Your friendly neighborhood columnist pulled an 0-fer. Yes, that's right. 0 champions correct. 0 finalists. 0 semifinalists. But, the ol' Holy Webmaster didn't do much better. He got 3 semifinalists, but that was the end of his "good news." So, for the two weeks-old "battle of the wit-less," here are the overall numbers:

5 semifinalists
4 finalists
1 champion

7 semifinalists
0 finalists
0 champions

Don't tread on us. We'll bust ya up, boy. Yeah, right. On to this week's picks:

04 F: Schaul d. Davenport
05 TOP: Dechy/Golovin
================================= SF: Dechy d. Loit, Farina Elia d. Golovin
FINAL: Farina Elia d. Dechy

...SFE has won three titles in her career. All three have come at this tournament (2001-03).

05 TOP: V.Williams/Vaidisova
SF: Venus d. Peer, Smashnova d. Vaidisova
FINAL: Venus d. Smashnova

...sure, it's clay. But Venus can play on the stuff (she won Warsaw last year, remember?). Still, this is her first red clay outing on the season. Either way, she got to play in both Asia and Europe this weekend... in the same exhibition match. (more on that later) And now for Pierre's theories about this week's action:


Pierre's Picks:
SF: Asagoe d. Benesova; Farina Elia d. Sugiyama
FINAL: Farina Elia d. Asagoe

SF: V.Williams d. Morigami; Vaidisova d. Smashnova
FINAL: V.Williams d. Vaidisova




**MOST 2005 WTA SF**
6...Sharapova (3-3)
5...Davenport (5-0)
5...Mauresmo (3-2)
5...Schnyder (1-4)


2...Maria Sharapova, 18
2...Dinara Safina, 19
1...Ana Ivanovic, 17
1...Lucie Safarova, 18
1...Sania Mirza, 18

9...Olga Morozova (1969-75)
9...Maria Sharapova (2003-05)
9...Anastasia Myskina (1999-04)
5...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2002-04)
4...Elena Dementieva (2003-04)
4...Dinara Safina (2002-05)


10.Rome 1r - Ondraskova d. Dokic
...6-4/6-1. So much for that Debutante rebound, I guess. Now it looks like she'll be absent, by choice, from the tour for the next seven weeks. Whatever.
9.Rome 1r - Ivanovic d. Golovin
...6-3/6-4. A nice rebound for Dokic's fellow Serb Ana Ivo, though, after that disappointing 1st Round loss in Berlin.
8.Charlottesville $50K Doubles F - Harkleroad-Bogomolov/Lee-Waters d. Reeves/Wheeler
...this was the second of back-to-back ITF doubles titles for this team. It was an extra-special week for 20-year old Harkleroad, who also made the singles SF. But, really, is there any more mouth-twisting name than Harkleroad-Bogomolov? Just thinking about it makes your teeth hurt.
7.Prague F - Safina d. Ondraskova
...7-6/6-3. Marat's sis has been winning titles since 2002, but she's still "only 19." Maybe she should talk to Maria and tell what that'll be like.
6.Rome 2r - Zvonareva d. Jankovic
...6-4/6-1. Vera the Almost... well, I'll say it, almost completely righted her ship for Paris. A run to the Tier I SF, which also included a win over Schiavone, at least makes her one of the Russians to keep an eye on starting next week in Paris. And after the season she's had, that's something to feel good about.
5.Rome 2r - Dulko d. Dementieva
...7-5/6-4. Punch-Sober's a hip gal, but is her hip up to seven matches in Paris?
4.Rome 2r - Suarez d. Kuznetsova
...6-2/6-4. What about the Contessova's shoulder?
3.Rome F - Mauresmo d. Schnyder
...2-6/6-3/6-4. Mauresmo's 2005 red clay cup is at least half full, as she defended one of her two 2004 Tier I crowns from Berlin & Rome.
2.Rome SF - Schnyder d. Sharapova
...3-6/6-3/6-1. Patty thwarts the Supernova's efforts to become #1 (she needed to win the Rome title). Still, Sharapova is improving on the clay. She and the surface aren't quite "friends" yet, but they are in the getting to know each other better stage. Paris couldn't be the site of a whirlwind romance... could it?
1.Rome 2r - Schiavone d. S.Williams
...7-6/6-1. Serena dubbed this the "worst loss" of her career. It's not an excuse ala her sister, but it is consistent with her tendency to put her every loss on the back of her own poor play rather than the skills of her opponent. Still, it's hard to get angry with her for saying it, since most of the time the assessment is dead on. But not 100%, all the time. Congrats to Schiavone for getting up off the mat after her Fed Cup collapse against Dementieva a few weeks ago.


...okay, so this is a little self-serving. But it's always nice to get a mention from's Jon Wertheim Mailbag (but you'll need a working knowledge of George Orwell to fully get the point here.


...this weekend, Venus Williams played an exhibition match with Turkey's Ipek Senogul on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge, which connects Europe and Asia. This is the "Pic of the Week" because, well, it looks like the photographer had the best view of the action here. Story here.


DOWN: Karolina Sprem
...her 1st Round loss to Paola Suarez in Rome was her fourth straight defeat. Has it not even been a year since Sprem upset Venus at Wimbledon?
FRESH FACES: Carly Gullickson & Johanna Larsson
...18-year old Gullickson, "The Natural" around these parts (her dad was a pro baseball player for the Montreal Expos, who are now the Washington Nationals, who just so happen to be my new local team -- go Nats!), won her first pro singles title at the $50K in Charlottesville, winning five matches with only one dropped set (including a SF win over Harkleroad). The American moved up to #210 on Monday. 16-year old Larsson, the Swedish Fed Cup revelation, won her first pro title, too. It was in Falkenberg, Sweden over Sofia Arvidsson. Larsson's only #868, but you get the feeling that might change soon.
VETERANS: Paola Suarez & Conchita Martinez
...Suarez, 28, took out Sprem and Kuznetsova in Rome before losing in the 3r to Elena Bovina in a 3rd set tie-break. Martinez, 33, knocked off Anna Smashnova and tied Steffi Graf for #5 on the all-time matches played list with her 1015th career outing.
SURPRISES: Zuzana Ondraskova & Laura Pous Tio
...25-year old Czech Maiden Ondraskova knocked out Dokic, Kostanic, Diaz Oliva and Koukalova in Prague en route to her first career WTA final. Spaniard Pous Tio, 20, has been a force on the ITF circuit (four titles in '04, one this season -- just two weeks ago, in fact), but her SF in Prague was her best big tour result. Ranked #123, she qualified and took down Nagyova and Brandi to get there.
RISERS: Dinara Safina & Patty Schnyder
...Safina made the most of skipping Rome, taking home her second title of the season in Prague (and fourth in her career, as many as fellow Horde member Dementieva). Schnyder didn't have to face Justine Henin-Hardenne this week, so things went rather well. Teenagers were her enemies this time out as Sharapova, Ivanovic, Linetskaya and Groenefeld shriveled in her presence as she went all the way to the Rome final before losing a tough three-setter. Her reward: a Top 10 ranking on Monday.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Amelie Mauresmo
...a half cup of coffee is almost as good as a full one, a year later. Her Rome defense might just be her best "pressure" result ever, maybe because she didn't feel any at all. Might she have found the key to grabbing her holy grail? (more on that later)


S: Amelie Mauresmo d. Patty Schnyder 2-6/6-3/6-4
D: Black/Huber d. Kirilenko/Medina Garrigues
S: Dinara Safina d. Zuzana Ondraskova 7-6/6-3
D: Loit/Pratt d. Kostanic/Strycova

All right, in case you were wondering what this, um, "different structure" for this week's Backspin is all about, I'll reveal it now.

I could be cute about it and say the week before a slam is a slow one when most of the top players aren't playing and a little shakeup is necessary to make this particular week's musings relevant. And as far as the thought process initially went, that's at least partially true... but then Mauresmo won Rome and let loose with this comment afterward: "I really came here without any rhythm and just tried to relax, and here I am the last day with the trophy. Maybe I should try this at the grand slams or the French." With that, I thought, what if Mauresmo did live up to her "Roman approach" in a few weeks?

If it worked, it'd surely set the tennis world on its head. Think of it. Amelie Mauresmo... grand slam champion. It sends a wicked shiver down your spine, doesn't it? Yikes! Why, if that were to happen, practically anything could. By the end of the year, Kim Clijsters would be arrested for running an illegal prostitution ring (Madam Kim?). Jennifer Capriati would enter a convent. Rumors of Conchita Martinez's illicit affair with Brad Pitt would be the talk of the internet messageboards. Justine and Patty would become doubles partners. Venus Williams would be overly complimentary of an opponent who just beat her. Heck, even the U.S. Open might suddenly be played on blue courts later this season. What's that? Oh, they really are going to have blue courts in Flushing Meadows in August? Well, maybe all those things I just mentioned are possible, after all.

I know, the Venus thing is really stretching credibility, but I guess you never know. But Amelie winning a slam? Come on. Don't be ridiculous.

All for now. Oops, I mean... now for all

16 May 2005


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