Monday, October 24, 2005

Wk.42-Positional Geography

As the 2005 season winds down, players are assuming their deserved and/or unfortunate positions: the rankings, as Lindsay Davenport grabbed the Zurich title (finally, a Tier I!) and replaced now-#3 Maria Sharapova as the top-ranked woman in the game. a (hopefully) enjoyable retirement, as Maggie, the last of the Maleeva sisters, announced that she'd played her last match after sixteen years on tour. Debuting in 1989 at age 14, the now 30-year old Bulgarian won ten titles in her career, and reached a high singles ranking of #4 in 1996. The biggest splash Maleeva made during Backspin's existence came when she won her first grasscourt title at Birmingham back in 2003, stepping out of her career-long role as "The Silent Sister." Maybe now she'll devote even more time to Capasca. Yes, it's true -- tennis-playing sisters named Williams haven't cornered the entire clothing company market. (hopefully) temporary repose, as Alicia Molik, precisely one year after her career-highlight moment (after the Olympic brozne in Athens, of course) of upsetting Sharapova in the 2004 Zurich final, finally submitted (while denying rumors of her own premature retirement at age 24) to her balance-affecting bout with vestibular neuronitis, and will take an extended break from the WTA tour. She could possibly be gone for as long a year. Get well soon, Steamer.

Then there's the odd case of Jelena Dokic. the... well, I'm not sure what the appropriate name would be for where Dokic finds herself (oblivion?) at the moment. Wherever she is, the Debutante's string of challenger event no-shows led last week to a ban from ITF events until she pays a nominal ($700) fine for her unprofessional (non-)actions.

Ah, but there was some potentially great news for the future last week... and it involves Sania Mirza. The Princess arguably sports a carbon copy of Dokic's '99 game, six years removed, at the moment. But she's gone and done something the Debutante never saw fit to do (until it was maybe too late, that is) -- she's gotten herself involved with a new coach who might be able to broker her ascent to a higher tier in the women's game. Hopefully, Tony Roche will help Mirza soon make even more beautiful tennis music than she did throughout 2005.

On that note, on to what happened in Zurich:


S: Lindsay Davenport d. Patty Schnyder 7-6/6-3
D: Black/Stubbs d. Hantuchova/Sugiyama


PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lindsay Davenport
...always great indoors, Davenport's 51st career title was her fourth in Zurich. Also, her sixth 2005 title provided her with at least a little ammunition to back up what might be another year-end #1 season -- this was her first Tier I of her slam title-less season.
RISERS: Patty Schnyder & Francesca Schiavone
...Sneaky Patty might not have won her home country's event, but she did get wins over Maleeva (the last ever) and Ana Ivanovic en route to the final, and once again reminded everyone (cheer more for me, dammit!!) that they should always strive to be on her good side. Meanwhile, Schiavone continued her late-season surge with a win over Nadia Petrova and a three-setter against Davenport.
SURPRISE: Katarina Srebotnik
...the 25-year old Slovenian was forced to qualify for the packed Zurich draw. She did, and then wiped out #2-seed Amelie Mauresmo 6-2/6-0 in the 2nd Round.
VETERANS: Lindsay Davenport & Maggie Maleeva wasn't easy for Davenport, as she logged a pair of early three-setters (in the first, she survived two match points against Daniela Hantuchova) before eventually knocking out Schnyder in straights in the final. Maleeva said so long after defeating Anna Chakvetadze in the 1st Round, then losing to Schnyder. Her career highlight? Maybe winning the 2002 Kremlin Cup in Moscow, knocking off Top 10ers Venus Williams, Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport (in the final), as well as Anna Smashnova (who'd won four titles that season). Maleeva gutted out a pair of 3rd set tie-breaks against Williams and Davenport to round out a career-week.
FRESH FACE: Ana Ivanovic
...AnaIvo is finally back! She's been but a blip on the tennis radar screen since winning her Round of 16 match at Roland Garros to reach a career-best slam QF. Ever since, she'd gone 5-5 before finally hitting a good stretch in Zurich with victories over Tatiana Golovin, Jelena Jankovic and Katarina Srebotnik. So what if she double-faulted on match point against Schnyder in the SF, just getting that far in a Tier I is more than enough to send her into 2006 with her head held high.
DOWN: Amelie Mauresmo & Alicia Molik
...Mauresmo's season, reviewed in last week's first edition of Backspin's 2005 review is falling down around her ankles, as she was blitzed again, this time 6-2/6-0 by Srebotnik in her opening match in Zurich. Now, she's ready to defend Linz this week, right? Molik retired down 3-6/2-4 to Jelena Jankovic in the 1st Round, making her 1-10 in her last eleven matches. Get healthy, Steamer, then come back (at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, or wherever) and make everyone remember all the excitement you generated at this year's Australian Open.


1.2nd - Davenport d. Hantuchova
...3-6/7-5/6-2. Wonder Girl couldn't convert two match points, and Sharapova was the one who suffered. Oh, and I guess Daniela suffered a little, too, didn't she?
2.Final - Davenport d. Schnyder
...7-6/6-3. Davenport will carry a 12-match, three-tournament title streak into the WTA Championships and the "Battle for #1." Only Davenport and Clijsters have won more matches on tour than Schnyder in 2005.
3.1st - Jankovic d. Molik
...6-3/4-2 ret. Hopefully, Alicia won't be gone for too long.
4.2nd - Schnyder d. Maleeva
...6-3/6-2. The Maleeva sisters -- Manuela, Katarina & Maggie -- won 41 WTA singles titles between 1985-2003. All three reached the Top 10 during their careers, with all three ranked in the Top 13 simultaneously -- #11 Maggie, #12 Manuela & #13 Katarina -- in June/July 2003. In 1989, all three were on the Bulgarian Fed Cup team... with their mother serving as captain.
5.1st - Myskina d. Zvonareva
...6-2/3-0 ret. Mercy! When will 2005 end for Vera? Maybe this was her version of waving the white flag.


**MOST 2005 TITLES**
8...Clijsters (US Open, 3 Tier I, 4 Tier II)
6...Davenport (1 Tier I, 4 Tier II, 1 Tier III)
4...Henin-H. (R.Garros, 2 Tier I, 1 Tier II)

**MOST TITLES - 2004/05**
13...Davenport (7/6)
10...Clijsters (2/8)
9....Henin-Hardenne (5/4)
8....Sharapova (5/3)

**MOST 2005 FINALS**
10...Davenport (6-4)
8....Clijsters (8-0)
5....Henin-Hardenne (4-1)
5....Mauresmo (2-3)

4...Henin-Hardenne (April-May)
4...Clijsters (August-October)
3...Vaidisova (October-present)#
3...Davenport (September-present)#
#-active streak

**2005 TIER I TITLES**
3...Kim Clijsters
2...Justine Henin-Hardenne
2...Mary Pierce
1...Lindsay Davenport
1...Maria Sharapova
1...Amelie Mauresmo

11...Lindsay Davenport
9....Conchita Martinez
8....Justine Henin-Hardenne
7....Serena Williams

6...Samantha Stosur (+1 mixed)
5...Cara Black
5...Virginia Ruano-Pascual
5...Elena Likhovtseva
5...Emilie Loit

48...Navratilova (Toronto w/ Groenefeld)
34...Callens (Antwerp w/ Black)
34...Stubbs (Zurich w/ Black)
34...Stubbs (Stanford w/ Black)



...last week, the Backspin "Prediction Corner" finally hit the magic number of 20 champions picked correctly. It's a bit off the pace of the last two seasons, but it's the welcome result of a reputation-saving 19-of-47 run after that atrocious 1-of-15 start. (Thanks Lindsay for saving my butt. Not only for helping me hit the big 2-oh here, but also for salvaging my fantasy team's week after my ten-member club for Zurich had seven "Did Not Play's," two late pull-outs, one 1st Round exit... and Mrs. L.Davenport. Good thing you didn't lose that match to Wonder Girl, huh? If you'd done that, I'd had to talk endlessly about how you haven't won a slam in what seems like eons. Thankfully, I didn't feel the need to do that. Whoops...sorry. And this time I mean it.)

As for this week:

LINZ, AUSTRIA (II-Hard Indoor)
04 F: Mauresmo d. Bovina
05 TOP: Mauresmo(w/d)/Dementieva
SF: Hantuchova d. Ivanovic; Dementieva d. Petrova
FINAL: Dementieva d. Hantuchova

HASSELT, BELGIUM (III-Decoturf Hard Indoor)
04 F: Dementieva d. Bovina
05 TOP: Clijsters/Dechy
SF: Clijsters d. Safina; Schiavone d. Dechy
FINAL: Clijsters d. Schiavone

...coming up later this week, "700 Bucks & a Zero Bar" looks back at the seasons of Hantuchova & Dokic. And, remember, there's still time to vote for the Tennisrulz Awards!!

All for now.


Blogger Lindsayfan32 said...

Unless you were watching a different tournment to me in Zurich. Lindsay won her first two matches in three sets and the last two in two sets. You said in you're blogg she won her first three on three sets which is incorret.

Wed Oct 26, 08:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Typo. Sorry. :( Fixed it. :)

For the record, here's Davenport's full Zurich performance:

1r - bye
2r - d. Hantuchova 3-6/7-5/6-2
QF - d. Schiavone 6-4/4-6/6-4
SF - d. Myskina 6-0/6-4
F - d. Schnyder 7-6/6-3

Thu Oct 27, 03:35:00 PM EDT  

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