Monday, October 17, 2005

Wk.41-Vaidisova on the Verge

This week's edition of Backspin (and all those for the rest of the season) will be broken up into two parts. The first comes today, with the recap and awards for Week 41. The second comes at mid-week with the first edition of the multi-part look back at the "Most Intriguing Questions" from the start of the year. These "Backspin Extras" will serve as an extended review of the nearly-completed 2005 season.

Now, let's get to the big happenings in Russia and Thailand.

S: Mary Pierce d. Francesca Schiavone 6-4/6-3
D: Raymond/Stosur d. Black/Stubbs
S: Nicole Vaidisova d. Nadia Petrova 6-1/6-7/7-5
D: Asagoe/Dulko d. Ruano-Pascual/Martinez


PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Nicole Vaidisova
...the 16-year old's temper was so explosive after she blew a lead to Nadia Petrova in the Round of 16 at the U.S. Open that she might as well have changed her named to Nicole Vesuvius. All she's done since is go 15-0 and win three straight titles, with her third in three weeks coming in Bangkok with a win over, you guessed it, Petrova. Talk about coming full circle. Should Petrova change her name to Pompeii?
RISERS: Francesca Schiavone & Dinara Safina Moscow, 25-year old Schiavone easily handled the likes of Iveta Benesova, Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva en route to the final. Alas, she's still looking for her first WTA title. Meanwhile, Safina proved who the "truer" Muscovite was with the Kremlin Cup QF victory over world #1 Maria Sharapova in the Supernova's not-so-grand return to her native country.
...another of the Cookies, Yuan added her name to the list of China's players to watch. The world #186 upset Japanese upstart Aiko Nakamura and outlasted a retiring Sania Mirza on her way the Bangkok QF.
VETERANS: Mary Pierce & Cara Black this case (thanks to Miss Vesuvius), a Tier I titlist was trumped by one at a Tier III. But that's not to overlook the 30-year old Pierce's continuing resurgence. Her title in Moscow was her second Tier I this season (and fifth in her career) and moved her up to #5 in the rankings. Black and partner Rennae Stubbs were only runners-up in the Moscow doubles, but the result was enough to make the 26-year old from Zimbabwe the twentieth woman to rise to the #1 spot in the doubles rankings, as she bumped Virginia Ruano-Pascual out of the top spot for the first time in over a year.
FRESH FACE: Nicole Vaidisova the way, her 15-match winning streak has only been bested by two women in 2005. Their names? Kim & Justine (hmmm... wonder what their last names could be?).
DOWN: Maria Sharapova & Nadia Petrova wasn't a very good week for the Supernova. She returned to Moscow after struggling with a chest muscle injury for weeks, then had to grin and bear a somewhat embarrassing opening match mulligan when Anna-Lena Groenefeld turned her ankle and was forced to retire after having pounded Sharapova into near-submission by a 6-1/4-2 score. Having been given what was generally viewed as an "unwarrented" second chance, Sharapova went on to blow a set lead in her next match to fellow Moscow-born player Safina. Oh, and Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters are still hot on her tail for the #1 ranking, too. And how was your week? Probably not on par with Nadia Petrova's. How, you ask, does a player who reached a final get a "Down" label stuck on her? Easy. Petrova, a Top 10 player, was one of the few top Russians not at the Kremlin Cup, choosing instead to be the top seed at the less-crowded Tier III in Bangkok. As expected, she made the final... and lost yet again, to 16-year old (and five-time WTA champion) Vaidisova. You get the feeling a RU trophy wasn't exactly was the Empress had in mind when she entered this one. Unfortunately for her, though, the Empress still has no clothes, or WTA singles titles to show for her efforts.


1.Moscow 2nd - Sharapova d. Groenefeld
...1-6/2-4 ret. Girl Friday gets the top match based purely on principle, since she deserves something for her efforts early last week. As it turned out, a turned ankle on the rarely-seen Supreme Indoor surface overturned what would have been a career-best highlight for Groenefeld. If she'd completed her Supernova throttling, ALG would have had two wins over #1-ranked players in 2005 (more than any other woman this season), after having advanced past a retiring Davenport in a Stanford match a few weeks ago.
2.Moscow F - Pierce d. Schiavone
...6-4/6-4. Vaidisova isn't the only one a big roll. This was Pierce's own third straight final, bridging Moscow to her big San Diego and U.S. Open.
3.Bang F - Vaidisova d. Petrova
...6-1/6-7/7-5. That makes three titles won in Asia in the 4Q by Vaidisova. Whew! How high will she be ranked one year from now? She's already up to #17.
4.Moscow QF - Safina d. Sharapova
...1-6/6-4/7-5. Justice delayed, don't ya think?
5.Moscow QF - Pierce d. Likhovtseva
...7-5/4-6/7-6(6). Likhovtseva led 6-0 in the 3rd set TB. To add insult to (literal) injury, the Horde's elder stateswoman had to retire in her opening match in Zurich on Monday.
6.Moscow 1st - Stosur d. Molik
...6-3/6-2. After starting 16-5 this season, Molik's inner ear problem paved the way for what has become a 1-8 rest-of-her-season downfall. Gee, Sydney and that Oz QF seem like ages ago now. A year ago, the Steamer was celebrating her first Tier I title in Zurich.
7.Moscow 1st - Zvonareva d. Kirilenko
...6-2/6-3. Finally, a good win for Vera. But, getting right back into the groove, she lost in the 2nd Round and then retired from her opening round match in Zurich against Myskina on Monday.
8.Moscow 2nd - Schiavone d. Mauresmo
...6-1/6-1. Nice effort, Albie.
9.Moscow 2nd - Kuznetsova d. Zvonareva
...3-6/7-5/6-2. Wonder if they made a deal before the match that the loser of this one would declare that it was she who had the more disappointing 2005 season?
10.Moscow QF - Schiavone d. Kuznetsova; Moscow SF - Schiavone d. Dementieva
...6-3/6-1. Yeah, both matches ended with the exact same lopsided scoreline.


24...Henin-Hardenne (April-June)
22...Clijsters (August-October)
17...Clijsters (March-April)
15...VAIDISOVA (Sept-current)

==2005 WTA TITLES==
8...Kim Clijsters
5...Lindsay Davenport
4...Justine Henin-Hardenne
3...Maria Sharapova

Tokyo TPP - Maria Sharapova
Indian Wells - Kim Clijsters
Miami - Kim Clijsters
Charleston - Justine Henin-Hardenne
Berlin - Justine Henin-Hardenne [2]
Rome - Amelie Mauresmo
San Diego - Mary Pierce
Toronto - Kim Clijsters [3]
Moscow - MARY PIERCE [2]
Zurich - ??

==2005 WINS OVER WORLD #1==
#4 Sharapova (Davenport/Tokyo F)
#6 Dementieva (Davenport/U.S. Open QF)
#7 S.Williams (Davenport/Australian F)
#16 V.Williams (Davenport/Wimbledon F)
#23 Pierce (Davenport/Roland Garros QF)
#24 SAFINA (Sharapova/Moscow QF)
#39 Groenefeld (Davenport/Stanford 2nd)
#43 Henin-Hardenne (Davenport/Charleston F)
#45 Kirilenko (Sharapova/Beijing SF)
#133 Clijsters (Davenport/Ind.Wells F)

10...Lindsay Davenport
9....Conchita Martinez
8....Justine Henin-Hardenne [2 in '05]
7....Serena Williams
6....Venus Williams
6....Amelie Mauresmo [1]
5....Kim Clijsters [3]
5....MARY PIERCE [2]

5...Davenport (Jan-April, 2-3)
4...Henin-Hardenne (April-May, 4-0)
4...Clijsters (Aug-Oct, 4-0)
3...PIERCE (July-current, 2-1)
3...VAIDISOVA (Oct-current, 3-0)

4...Henin-Hardenne (April-May)
4...Clijsters (August-October)
3...VAIDISOVA (October)

5...Czech Republic
1...Serbia & Montenegro

34...Lindsay Davenport
7....Maria Sharapova (current)
40...Virginia Ruano-Pascual
1....Cara Black (current)

3...Virginia Ruano-Pascual/Paola Suarez



Only one event this week, but since it's the final Tier I of the season it could have major repercussions as far as the year-end #1 ranking is concerned.

04 FINAL: Molik d. Sharapova
05 TOP: Davenport/Mauresmo
SF: Davenport d. Dementieva; Pierce d. Jankovic
FINAL: Davenport d. Pierce

...Davenport's quest for another "questionable" #1 year-end ranking begins here, as Prideful Mary goes for her fourth straight final. No Mauresmo in the SF picks. I'm going with Jankovic, since she had a bad result last week and her usual pattern says her fortunes might be on the upswing this time around. But, as is the case with hot-and-cold players like Mauresmo and Jankovic, it's never smart to try to predict exactly where on the rollercoaster they'll be any particular week.

[Updated Oct.20]
Of course, Pierce pulled out late yet again, screwing up another prediction. New picks:

SF: Davenport d. Dementieva; Jankovic d. Schnyder
FINAL: Davenport d. Jankovic


Don't forget to vote for the Tennisrulz Awards!!

Remember, Backspin looks back at Intriguing Questions #9 and #10 as the 2005 season review begins at mid-week. Until then...

All for now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Love your blog, but you forgot something. In the section for "Consecutive 2005 WTA finals", you forgot Lindsay Davenport. She reached 5 consecutive finals in Melbourne, Tokyo, Dubai, Indian Wells and Amelia Island, from January - April. She won 2 of those 5 (Dubai, Amelia).

Thu Oct 20, 05:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

You're right, I did miss that one. I know why, too. I started the season only keeping track of consecutive finals in consecutive weeks, rather than when a player had some time off between tournaments. I had the five straight Davenport finals recorded elsewhere, but not on that particular list. Hope I didn't miss any others from early in the season. :)

Thanks. I made the change in the list. :)

Thu Oct 20, 07:39:00 PM EDT  

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