Sunday, January 08, 2006

Wk.1-Act 1, Scene 1 (2006)

In the opening scenes of the 2006 season, there were already several subplots playing out that will bear watching.

While a group of "big guns" were firing off shots in an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong (where the usual -- Clijsters won, Davenport lost in a final, and the Williams sisters were injured -- took place), there were some headline-grabbing moments taking place in Australasia during the first week of "Dorothy Tour" action (Hingis won...and won...and won as she raised eyebrows; while Dokic lost, re-injured herself, lost her coach, and pulled out of an event to cause more eyes to roll than George W. Bush's Iraq policy).

In the end, though, the week was about a Maiden and a Pastry.


S: Lucie Safarova def. Flavia Pennetta 6-3/6-4
D: Safina/Shaughnessy d. Black/Stubbs

S:Marion Bartoli def. Vera Zvonareva 6-2/6-2
D: Likhovtseva/Zvonareva d. Loit/Strycova

S: Kim Clijsters def. Lindsay Davenport 6-3/7-5

HOPMAN CUP; Perth, Aus. (Exhib.-HI)
F: USA (Raymond/Dent) def. Netherlands (Krajicek/Wessels) 2-1



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lucie Safarova
...the nearly 19-year old arrived in Gold Coast as "Maiden #2," the other teen Czech, but she left it as "#1b" to Nicole Vaidisova's "#1a"... for now, at least. This was Safarova's third career title, and she went through a fine group of players to get it, including #1 seed and defending champ Patty Schnyder, Dinara Safina and Flavia Pennetta.
RISERS: Marion Bartoli & Flavia Pennetta
...French Pastry Bartoli was just as impressive in Auckland, going though the likes of Emilie Loit and Vera Zvonareva, while outlasting a retiring Nadia Petrova in the SF, to gain her first career WTA singles crown. After closing '05 by winning an ITF title, the 21-year old's now on an 11-match winning streak. Maybe Marion should think about changing her name to "Dorothy" (or maybe "Kiwi," to be more precise), considering all the success she's experienced in and around Oz. This was Bartoli's first career final, and of her six other career WTA SF results, half ('03 Canberra SF, '04-05 Auckland SF) have also come in the season's opening month. Meanwhile, Pennetta took out Na Li (who she'll meet again in the 1st Round in Sydney this week), Tatiana Golovin and Martina Hingis en route to the Gold Coast final. She was a pretty good actress, too, considering when asked before the SF match against Hingis if she thought she could win, she matter-of-factly said, "No."
SURPRISES: Vera Zvonareva & Svetlana Kuznetsova
...the Horde rides back into town? Zvonareva, despite winning an early title, had a miserable 2005. But she opened 2006 in New Zealand with beat-them-down wins over Maria Kirilenko and Daniela Hantuchova as she made the singles final, and won the doubles title with Elena Likhovtseva. Kuznetsova's '05 was maybe even more miserable, but she was 3-0 in Hopman Cup play last week, getting a big win over Ana Ivanovic.
VETERAN: Martina Hingis
...the Swiss Miss just missed out on pulling a coup in her first event back at Gold Coast. She got her first WTA win since 2002 over Maria Vento-Kabchi in the 1st Round, but her most impressive victory was her straight sets destruction of Maiden Klara Koukalova. She was a game away from taking out Pennetta in straights, but was caught and passed. Still, a good start.
FRESH FACES: Lucie Safarova & Michaella Krajicek more title and Safarova will start to elbow Vaidisova to the edge of the Maiden spotlight (temporarily). 17-year old (as of January 9) Krajicek didn't help the Netherlands win the Hopman Cup, but she and Peter Wessels won a playoff over China to get into the event, then made it to the final and took it to a deciding doubles match. Overall, Krajicek was 3-2 in singles, with wins over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Gisela Dulko.
DOWN: Jelena Dokic & Venus/Serena Williams
...stop me if you've heard this before:

1)Dokic lost her 1st Round match
2)Dokic re-injured her groin
3)Dokic decided to drop Leslie Bowrey as her coach in Australia because she wouldn't/couldn't pay her
4)Dokic pulled out of Canberra
5)Dokic is now a big question mark...again
6)Serena got hurt in her first match in Hong Kong, and didn't play again
7)Venus got her in her first match in Hong Kong, but played another match anyway
8)not in form, Venus lost it to Davenport
9)Serena's ankle is still acting up
10)Venus' exact injury is still a question, but something "isn't right"


1.Gold SF - Pennetta d. Hingis
...1-6/7-6/6-2. If she can stay healthy, Hingis will do fine against most of the tour. But she didn't really play any of the big girls last week. Playing in events like this, Hingis might benefit greatly from the excising of quality points from the WTA's rankings.
2.HK exhib. F - Clijsters d. Davenport
...6-3/7-5. Technically, this was a #1 vs. #2 matchup -- something which never happened on tour in '05. But, unfortunately, this match "doesn't count."
3.Auck F - Bartoli d. Zvonareva
...6-2/6-2. I think Marion deserves a piece of her mother's apple pie.
4.Gold F - Safarova d. Pennetta
...6-3/6-4. Tag Nicole. You're it.
5.Hopman F - Raymond/Dent(USA) d. Krajicek/Wessels(NED)
...4-6/6-2/7-6. Raymond went 0-4 in singles, but got a title anyway. If 2006 is going to be like this, then look out.
6.Auck QF - Zvonareva d. Kirilenko 6-2/6-0; SF-Zvonareva d. Hantuchova 6-2/6-2
...the scorelines say it all.
7.Hopman Group Play - Stosur(AUS) d. Groenefeld(GER)
...6-3/7-5. ALG went 0-3 in Hopman play, nearly getting bageled by Dulko. Ouch. Stosur, though, went 3-0 with wins over Groenefeld, Krajicek and Dulko. Maybe Slingin' Sammy should have been playing a tour event last week -- she might have won it. Her first "real" match will be against Vaidisova in Sydney.
8.Auck 1st - Schruff d. Dokic
...5-7/7-6/6-1. Dokic had 28 DF's, including 6 in a row. Now she's wandering the Outback without a coach. Yeah, because going forward without proper direction has worked out so well for her in the past.
9.Hopman Group Play - Kuznetsova d. Ivanovic
...6-1/6-4. Curse? What Curse?
10.Auck 1st - Azarenka d. Frazier
...6-2/5-7/6-2. Frazier is 33. Azarenka is 16.
HM-Gold 1st - Hingis d. Vento-Kabchi
...6-2/6-1. October 2002 was so long ago.
HM-Auck SF - Bartoli d. Petrova
...3-6/6-4/2-1 ret. Oh, Nadia. Not again.



==TEEN WTA CHAMPIONS - 2005-06==
[by nation]
6...Czech Republic
1...Serbia & Montenegro

51...Martina Navratilova (1974-81)#
27...Hana Mandlikova (1978-87)
24...Jana Novotna (1988-99)
10...Helena Sukova (1982-92)
10...Regina Mariskova (1976-81)
5....Nicole Vaidisova (2004-05)
3....Lucie Safarova (2005-06)
3....Radka Zrubakova (1989-92)
3....Renata Tomanova (1975-76)
#-Navratilova won 116 more as American citizen, 1981-94

==2005 JUNIOR GIRLS TOP 10==
1.Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
2.Agnes Szavay, Hungary
3.Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
4.Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
5.Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia
6.Raluca-Ioana Olaru, Romania
7.Alexandra Dulgheru, Romania
8.Alexa Glatch, USA
9.Yung-Jan Chan, Taipei
10.Mihaela Buzarnescu, Romania


==WEEK 2...and already crossing my fingers==

...sheesh! Here we go again. After an 0/4 start in 2005, I start 0/4 again (with two picks going out after various degrees of injury). Oh, well. I certainly can't replicate that 0/9 or 1/16 slump from a year ago. Right? My picks rebounded very well after that awful 1st Quarter, but I sure hope I don't have my back against the wall all over again going into Melbourne. The Curse isn't on me now... is it?

05 F: Molik d. Stosur
06 TOP: Clijsters/Mauresmo
SF: Clijsters d. Vaidisova; Henin-Hardenne d. Kuznetsova
FINAL: Clijsters d. Henin-Hardenne

...JHH is scheduled to face Hingis in the 1st Round.

05 F: Zheng d. Dulko
06 TOP: Srebotnik(w/d)/Koukalova
SF: Krajicek d. Smashnova; Koukalova d. Benesova
FINAL: Krajicek d. Koukalova

...does the Hopman mean anything in Week 2?

05 F: Ivanovic d. Czink
06 TOP: Medina-Garrigues/Bartoli (w/d)
SF: Medina-Garrigues d. Peer; Safarova d. Kutuzova
FINAL: Safarova d. Medina-Garrigues

...Maiden #1b? Last year, the final here pitted a qualifier (Ivanovic) vs. a lucky loser (Czink) she'd already beaten once in qualifying.

UPDATE: Week 1 champ Safarova joined fellow champ Bartoli by pulling out of this event. Both were in the bottom half of the draw, so it's opened wide for someone now. I'll amend my picks by moving Julia Scruff into Safarova's SF/F slot just for the purposes of a prediction, though I suspect the beneficiery here might be Virginie Razzano, who moved into Bartoli's #2-seed position at the bottom of the draw. I'll make AMG my champion pick.

ALSO: Australian Open Qualifying

All for now.


COMING UP: Intriguing Question #1

NEXT WEEK: Waltzing Mathilda Oz Preview


Post a Comment

<< Home