Monday, October 03, 2005

Wk.39-You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

The buzz surrounding the happenings on the WTA tour this past weekend centered around "the future." From an established champion like Killer Kim Clijsters, to the gaggle of newcomers who stomped around the stages in Korea, China and Luxembourg... the appropriate promise that comes to mind is, "Just you wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet."

Consider, the steps made by many players this weekend promise to be but the first in a series of even bigger ones they'll make in the (near) future:

Seoul champion Nicole Vaidisova is still just 16-years old and already had two WTA titles to her credit before this weekend. Guangzhou titlist Zi Yan is only 20, and put her name in the record book as the third Chinese woman in history to hoist a tour singles trophy... and she'll hardly be the last as the Cookies' tennis build-up continues in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Meanwhile, 20-year old Girl Friday Anna-Lena Groenefeld, while still seeking her first WTA title, left Luxembourg having put together back-to-back runs to finals the last two weeks and entered the Top 20 for the first time on Monday. She and her big-time serve might push for Top 10 in 2006. Also, 16-year old Belarussian Viktoria Azarenka reached her first tour SF in Guangzhou, proving that her 2005 junior titles at the Australian and U.S. Open were no lacking-in-competition flukes of fate.

And last, but not least, Killer Kim continued her worldwide barnstorming tour across the backs of her fellow players in Luxembourg, grabbing her eighth title of the season and moving to within striking distance of #1-ranked Maria Sharapova this week as the injured Supernova will fail to defend her 2004 championship in Tokyo... and this time her rise to the top of the heap would come without that "grand slam-less" asterisk attached to the accomplishment.

It was a great week for all of them, but one gets the feeling that even bigger things will be headed their way very soon.


============================
KOCKELSCHEUER, LUXEMBOURG (II-HI)
S: Kim Clijsters d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-2/6-4
D: Raymond/Stosur d. Black/Stubbs
============================
GUANGZHOU, CHINA (III-HO)
S: Zi Yan d. Nuria Llagostera-Vives 6-4/4-0 ret.
D: Camerin/Gagliardi d. N.Uberoi/S.Uberoi
============================
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (IV-HO)
S: Nicole Vaidisova d. Jelena Jankovic 7-5/6-3
D: Chan/Chuang d. Craybas/Grandin
============================


**PLAYER AWARDS**

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kim Clijsters
...21 straight wins. 4 straight titles to run her career total to 29. She could be #1 again next Monday. Killer Kim's taking all the suspense out of the Player of the Year race.
============================
RISERS: Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Jelena Jankovic
...ALG is gaining ground in leaps and bounds. In Luxembourg, she knocked out the likes of Daniilidou, Smashnova, Petrova and Safina before falling to Clijsters in the final. She's made three finals in 2005, two of them the last two weeks, but the new world #19 needs to win one soon before losing in the deciding match of the tournament becomes too much of a habit. Meanwhile, Jankovic seems to have gotten her new coaching relationship in order if her Korean string of wins over Shaughnessy, Douchevina and Golovin en route to the Seoul final are any indication.
============================
SURPRISES: Zi Yan & Samantha Stosur
...it's no shock that the winner in Guangzhou was one of the Cookies, but who'd think it wouldn't be one of Na Li, Jie Zheng, Shuai Peng, Tiantian Sun or even Ting Li, for that matter? Certainly very little money was placed on the head of #163-ranked, mostly doubles specializing, Yan. But she did it, upsetting defending champion Na Li along the way, and joining her and Zheng as the three Chinese women to have claimed WTA titles in the past year. Stosur's surprising early season success hasn't held out in singles, but it has in doubles. She teamed with Lisa Raymond to take the Luxembourg title. It was Stosur's fifth doubles title on the year (and tour-leading sixth if you count her Australian Open Mixed crown). She's now the #5-ranked doubles player in the world.
============================
VETERAN: Lisa Raymond
...the Luxembourg title was Raymond's third with Stosur in 2005, and helped to raise her to #3 in the doubles rankings. She was the doubles #1 at various times from 2000-02.
============================
FRESH FACES: Nicole Vaidisova & Viktoria Akarenka
...Vaidisova, 16, is the youngest WTA singles titles this season -- and this wasn't even her first career title (she won in Vancouver & Tashkent last season). After notching her biggest Seoul win over Jankovic in the final, she rose to a career-best #21 singles ranking on Monday. Minsk's own Azarenka, also just 16, qualified and took out Shuai Peng on her way to the Guangzhou SF, a career-best on the big tour.
============================
DOWN: Vera Zvonareva
...Vera the Almost, even with that early season title under her belt, has to be almost ready to write off 2005 as one long nightmare. The latest chapter was a 1st Round loss in Guangzhou to Ting Li.
============================

**MATCHES**

1.Lux 1r - Hantuchova d. Medina-Garrigues
...6-7/7-5/6-0. A match that was so early last week it almost went unnoticed. It was further proof that Wonder Girl is on her way back. AMG led this one 7-6/6-5 before Hantuchova virtually grabbed her by the throat and mugged her of the victory, winning the tie-break 7-2 and then breezing through the final set at love. Not long ago, it was Hantuchova who lost matches like this, rather than pull them out.
----------------------------
2.Lux Final - Clijsters d. Groenefeld
...6-2/6-4. Clijsters is 26-1 for her career in Luxembourg.
----------------------------
3.Guang Final - Yan d. Llagostera-Vives
...6-4/4-0 ret. Llagostera-Vives retired with a hamstring injury. Even with this win, Yan hasn't cracked the Top 100 in singles (she's at #101), but how can you not like a player who's WTA bio says she "admires Jimmy Connors' sense of humor?"
----------------------------
4.Guang 1r - T.Li d. Zvonareva
...6-3/7-5. 2006 can't get here fast enough for Vera.
----------------------------
5.Seoul Final - Vaidisova d. Jankovic
...7-6/6-3. Ah, Darth Vaidisova won... and the spectators in the front row are safe from flying projectiles for one more tournament.
----------------------------
6.Lux QF - Groenefeld d. Petrova
...2-6/6-3/6-2. Petrova gets her shot at an immediate rematch in the 1st Round in Filderstadt.
----------------------------
7.Guang QF - Yan d. N.Li
...6-7/7-5/7-6. Li seems to always lose these Cookie vs. Cookie matches in tour events.
----------------------------
8.Guang QF - Zheng d. Kirilenko
...6-3/6-7/6-1. The Supernovette's run comes to an unceremonious end.
----------------------------
9.Seoul SF - Jankovic d. Golovin
...6-4/5-7/6-4. All in all, it was still a nicely resurgent week for the Frussian Pastry.
----------------------------
10.Guang 1r - T.Sun d. Harkleroad
...5-7/6-1/6-0. A Splendor Sighting, though not a particularly brilliant one in the same week Mr.Harkleroad... err, I mean, Mr.Bogomolov... was suspended by the ATP on a banned asthma medication case.
----------------------------

============================

*SEPTEMBER AWARDS*

--PLAYERS OF THE MONTH--
1.Elena Dementieva
2.Kim Clijsters
3.Lindsay Davenport
4.Anastasia Myskina
5.Maria Kirilenko
HM-Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Klara Koukalova

RISER: Anna-Lena Groenefeld
SURPRISE: Zi Yan
VETERAN: Lindsay Davenport
FRESH FACE: Maria Kirilenko
DOWN: Vera Zvonareva

TOP PERFORMANCE: Dementieva in Fed Cup
----------------------------
MATCH: Beijing Final - Kirilenko d. Groenefeld... 6-3/6-4. The Supernovette comes of age.
----------------------------
UPSET: Beijing 2r - T.Sun d. S.Williams... 6-2/7-6. 2005 has been all about two big weeks in January, then eight months of frustration, for Williams.
----------------------------


============================

**WTA LISTS**

**2005 MOST CONSECUTIVE TITLES**
4...Kim Clijsters (Aug-Oct)#
4...Justine Henin-Hardenne (April-May)
-
#-active streak

**MOST 2005 TITLES**
8...Kim Clijsters
4...Lindsay Davenport
4...Justine Henin-Hardenne
3...Maria Sharapova

**LONG 2005 WIN STREAKS**
24...Justine Henin-Hardenne (April-June)
21...Kim Clijsters (Aug-Oct)#
17...Kim Clijsters (March-April)
-
#-active streak

**MOST 2005 FINALS**
8...Kim Clijsters (8-0)
8...Lindsay Davenport (4-4)
5...Justine Henin-Hardenne (4-1)

**WORST 2005 FINAL PCT. (2+)**
.000 - Anna-Lena Groenefeld (0-3)
.000 - Jelena Jankovic (0-3)
.000 - Samantha Stosur (0-2)

**YOUNGEST 2005 CHAMPIONS**
16...Nicole Vaidisova (Seoul)
17...Ana Ivanovic (Canberra)
17...Maria Sharapova (Tokyo TPP)
17...Maria Sharapova (Doha)

**LOW-RANKED 2005 FINALISTS**
#193...Lourdes Dominguez-Lino (Bogota-L)
#163...Zi Yan (Guangzhou-W)
#155...Lucie Safarova (Estoril-W)
#134...Sania Mirza (Hyderabad-W)

**MOST LOSSES BY 2005 TOP 10er**
[in WTA events]
18...Patty Schnyder
17...Nadia Petrova
16...Vera Zvonareva
15...Svetlana Kuznetsova
15...Anastasia Myskina

**MOST 2005 DOUBLES TITLES**
[doubles/mixed]
6...Samantha Stosur [5/1]
5...Virginia Ruano-Pascual [5/0]
5...Elena Likhovtseva [5/0]

**MOST 2005 TITLES - TEAM**
3...Ruano-Pascual/Suarez
3...Raymond/Stosur



============================

**WEEK 40 PREDICTIONS**

FILDERSTADT, GERMANY (II-HI)
04 FINAL: Davenport d. Mauresmo
05 TOP: Davenport/Clijsters
----------------------------
SF: Davenport d. JHH; Clijsters d. Mauresmo
FINAL: Clijsters d. Davenport

...is Killer Kim getting a bit greedy?

TOKYO AIG, JAPAN (III-HO)
04 FINAL: Sharapova d. Washington
05 TOP: Zvonareva/Vaidisova
----------------------------
SF: Golovin d. Mirza; Vaidisova d. Nagyova
FINAL: Vaidisova d. Golovin

...the spectators will be safe once again? But Golovin still has time to put a positive spin on her 2005 season.

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (III-HO)
04 FINAL: Vaidisova d. Razzano
05 TOP: Bychkkova/A.Bondarenko
-----------------------------
SF: K.Bondarenko d. Bychkova; Camerin d. Voskoboeva
FINAL: K.Bondarenko d. Camerin

...I was going to pick #2-seed Alyona Bondarenko, but she was dumped out in the 1st Round on Monday by an Uzbeki wild card. So, I'll keep the prediction in the family, at least.

All for now.

4 Comments:

Blogger thesupernova said...

Maybe I missed something, but how do you not give the September player of the month to Killer Kim? And top permormance......her run at the USO?

Other than that another outstanding Backspin:)

Tue Oct 04, 01:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, I know it's something of a "flaw" in the system.

But I gave Clijsters the August and 3Q awards, and I basically included the U.S. Open results in that period even though it carried into September. Last year, I split things up since Davenport dominated the pre-U.S. Open period, but then didn't win the Open (so I gave Davenport the August award, and Kuznetsova the one for September).

This year, since Clijsters dominated both I just kept her U.S. Open title in the August+US Open period. So, her September #2 slot was all based on her winning last week in Luxembourg. Plus, I wanted to give Dementieva a big nod for carrying Russia to the Fed Cup title, and doing the bookkeeping like this was "cleanest" way to do it.

A long explanation, I know, but that was the reasoning behind the "executive decision." :)

Tue Oct 04, 03:16:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Looking back, I guess I didn't specifically have "August" awards. Instead I just folded those into the 3Q Awards and named Clijsters "North American hardcourt season" as the "Top Performance."

Tue Oct 04, 03:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger thesupernova said...

In that case Dementieve totally deserves it. I'm sure her shoulders are sore from carrying The Horde.

Tue Oct 04, 03:43:00 PM EDT  

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