Monday, February 27, 2006

Wk.8-Justine's Port of Call

Justine Henin-Hardenne REALLY likes Dubai.

Maybe it's the weather. No, check that... the tournament had several rain delays last week, the first in a UAE-hosted event since the early 1990's. Hmmm, then maybe it's that she's never lost there. Her most recent title-winning Middle East sojourn makes her 13-0 over three trips.

Yeah, that's a "pretty good" reason. But is it as good as the axiom that says nothing sticks it to "the man" (and your overly-vociferous critics) quite like winning? Justine REALLY likes that one right about now, as well.

On her website the other week, JHH talked about how she should have never played the Australian Open final because of her condition (it might have saved her some grief... but probably not), and that "some understand and some don't. You can't make people like you."

No, but you can make them fear you. Again. So far in 2006, Le Petit Taureau is 14-1. 14-0 when she's been "healthy and able" (and, if you're so inclined, 0-1 when she's been "ably unwilling").

No matter how you look at it, by the end of the year, Melbourne will likely be a footnote written into the margins of a superior Henin-Hardenne season rather than the "tarnishing" agent it was cooked up to be.


S: Justine Henin-Hardenne d. Maria Sharapova 7-5/6-2
D: Peschke/Schiavone d. Kuznetsova/Petrova

S: Sofia Arvidsson d. Marta Domachowska 6-2/2-6/6-3
D: Raymond/Stosur d. Azarenka/Wozniacki

S: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino d. Flavia Pennetta 7-6/6-4
D: Dulko/Pennetta d. Szavay/Woehr

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Justine Henin-Hardenne

...redemption in Dubai? Maybe not (as if it was really necessary). But career title #25, after a fourth straight win over Sharapova in the final, certainly sets the JHH ship back on a true course.
RISERS: Sofia Arvidsson & Marta Domachowska

...both these twentysomethings faced off in the Memphis final in a fight to win their first WTA singles title. 22-year old Swede Arvidsson got it in her second career final appearance, while 20-year old "Poland's Pride" failed to do so in her third WTA final.
SURPRISE: Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
...all of LDL's siblings -- Jose, Javier, Enrique, Carmen, Isabel, Patricia, Sara, Natalia & Maria (that's nine in case you were wondering) -- are proud of her today. The 24-year old Spaniard reached her surprise first career WTA final a year ago in Bogota, losing to Flavia Pennetta. This weekend, the two met up for a 2006 Bogota final rematch. LDL got her revenge.
VETERANS: Martina Hingis & Lisa Raymond
...sure, Martina lost in the Supernova rematch in the Dubai QF, but before that she easily handled Sania Mirza and Anastasia Myskina. Meanwhile, Raymond won the Memphis doubles (with Stosur... way to go, Sammy!), her first at a tournament where she won singles titles in 2002 and '03 (and was RU in '04).
FRESH FACE: Maria Kirilenko Dubai, she knocked out Nadia Petrova and Lucie Safarova, then pushed Lindsay Davenport to three sets in the QF.
DOWN: Vera Zvonareva
...a year ago, Zvonareva won a title in Memphis. Last week, she skipped the small event in favor of the bigger one (with bigger names, and more prize money) in Dubai. Then she promptly lost to Salima Sfar in the 1st Round. After opening the season with four straight wins to reach the Auckland final, Zvonareva has since lost five straight.

1.Dub F - JHH d. Sharapova
...7-5/6-2. Sharapova led 5-3 in the 1st set, and five times she was two points from the set. But she tightened, after already being tentative about moving toward the net (and losing some points that should have easily been her's as a result), and lost her advantage. JHH grabbed hold of the match at that point, and never relinquished it.
2.Memph F - Arvidsson d. Domachowska

...6-2/2-6/6-3. Domachowska started extremely slowly in this match, while Arvidsson was as steady as could be. It was enough to withstand the pressure of Domachowska's eventual comeback. (By the way, the Swede's win fulfills one of my pre-season first-title predictions. Yay! Look how happy it makes Sofia, too!)
3.Bog F - Dominguez-Lino d. Pennetta
...7-6/6-4. LDL winning her first title isn't as surprising as her out-of-nowhere trip to the Bogota final a year ago. What is somewhat shocking, though, is that Pennetta's RU means more Italian Noodles (4) have reached WTA singles finals than Russians (3) this season.
4t.Dub QF - Sharapova d. Hingis
4t.Dub SF - Sharapova d. Davenport
...3-6/6-1/6-3. The Supernova was forced to complete this sweep of two former #1's in the same day thanks to the desert rain storms. It was a great accomplishment, but it likely left her fatigued against a third former #1 (JHH) in the final the following day.
6.Memph 1st - Azarenka d. Vaidisova
...7-6/2-6/6-4. Too bad for Azarenka that her high didn't last very long, as she lost in the 2nd Round to Lilia Osterloh (though she did rebound to reach the doubles final with Caroline Wozniacki). For the record, this was Vaidisova's first opening match loss in a tournament since June of last year, in Eastbourne to Zvonareva.
7.Dub QF - Kuznetsova d. Mauresmo
...7-6/6-4. Mauresmo was up 3-2 in the 1st set TB before rain stopped play for the day. When play finally resumed, her 16-match winning streak was soon over.
8.Dub 1st - Hingis d. Mirza
...6-3/7-5. Princess Sania is learning (so far) what "the year after" is often like.
9.Dub 1st - Sfar d. Zvonareva
...2-6/7-5/6-3. "The Tunisian Tornado" strikes! I say that because, well, how often do I get to mention Sfar over the course of a season? This could very well be the last mention in '06.
10.Dub 2nd - Davenport d. Likhovtseva
...6-0/6-0. Double-bageled by Lindsay. Now Likhovtseva and Sharapova have something in common other than being Russian.



1.Amelie Mauresmo
2.Elena Dementieva
3.Justine Henin-Hardenne
4.Maria Sharapova
5.Martina Hingis

Samantha Stosur

1.Ting Li & Tiantian Sun
2.Tatiana Golovin
3.Sofia Arvidsson
4.Marta Domachowska
5.Mara Santangelo

1.Jelena Kostanic
2.Lourdes Dominguez-Lino
3.Aleksandra Wozniak
4.Mariya Koryttseva
5.Caroline Wozniacki

1.Martina Hingis
2.Mary Pierce
3.Lisa Raymond
4.Lindsay Davenport
5.Kveta Peschke

1.Shahar Peer
2.Maria Kirilenko
3.Vania King
4.Victoria Azarenka
5.Tszvetana Pironkova

1.Vera Zvonareva
2.Sania Mirza
3.Anna-Lena Groenefeld
4.Lucie Safarova
5.Na Li

TOP PERFORMANCE: Amelie Mauresmo in Antwerp
...a third consecutive title runs her winning streak to 15 matches, and she defeats Clijsters in Belgium, too.
MATCH OF THE MONTH: Antwerp F - Mauresmo d. Clijsters
...3-6/6-3/6-3. #1 (that's Clijsters) vs #2 (that's Mauresmo). Kim's right... Mauresmo probably SHOULD be #1 right now, not her.
COMEBACK OF THE MONTH: JHH rebounds from Melbourne retirement with title in Dubai
BREAKOUT WIN OF THE MONTH: Memphis 1st Rd. - Azarenka d. Vaidisova
...7-5/2-6/6-4. The Belarussian teen wasn't the #1 junior a short time ago for nothing.
UPSET OF THE MONTH: Tokyo SF - Hingis d. Sharapova
...6-3/6-1. This is the match that Hingis was looking forward to during all those months when she was preparing for a return to the tour.
BIGGEST WIN (SINGLES): Tokyo F - Dementieva d. Hingis
...6-2/6-0. This is the one Punch-Sober was dreaming about, her first Tier I title -- and she wins it against her "favorite" player.
BIGGEST WIN (DOUBLES): Pattaya Doubles F - T.Li/Sun d. Yan/Zheng
...3-6/6-1/7-6. That Battle of China... in Thailand.
...Samantha Stosur became new doubles #1
...Martina Navratilova announced that she'll play a full doubles schedule
...there were four (Peer, Santangelo, Arvidsson & Dominguez-Lino) first-time WTA Champions
...the Williams sisters continued to be M.I.A.
...Kim Clijsters bought a whole bunch of champagne
...and Maria Sharapova got about as close to naked in public as she's ever likely to get.

(Okay, I admit that last one was just a way to include a gratuitous Supernova-in-a-bikini shot.)



05 Miami QF - Sharapova 6-1/6-7/6-2
05 Berlin QF - JHH 6-2/6-4
05 Roland Garros QF - JHH 6-4/6-2
06 Australian SF - JHH 4-6/6-1/6-4
06 Dubai F - JHH 7-5/6-2

04 Wimbledon SF - Sharapova 2-6/7-6/6-2
05 Tokyo F - Sharapova 6-1/3-6/7-6
05 I.W. SF - Davenport 6-0/6-0
05 WTA Chsp RR - Sharapova 3-6/7-5/6-4
06 Dubai SF - Sharapova 3-6/6-1/6-3

3...Mauresmo (3-0)
3...Henin-Hardenne (2-1)
2...Pennetta (0-2)
2...Kostanic (0-2)

5...France (4 titles)
4...Belgium (3)
4...Italy (1)
3...Russia (1)




DOHA, QATAR (II-Hard Outdoor)
05 F: Sharapova d. Molik
06 TOP: Mauresmo/Petrova
SF: Mauresmo d. Hingis; Myskina d. Petrova
FINAL: Mauresmo d. Myskina

...the potential QF matchup between Hingis & Kuznetsova could be one to keep an eye on, what with the Russian's power and evidence of her return to form (she's 12-3 overall this year, and got one of her biggest wins in a while over Mauresmo last week).

05 F: Pennetta d. Cervanova
06 TOP: Pennetta/Groenefeld
SF: Pennetta d. Sanchez-Lorenzo; Castano d. Dulko
FINAL: Pennetta d. Castano

...a year ago, Pennetta took both the Bogota and Acapulco titles in back-to-back weeks. She was RU in Bogota last week, so she's trying to at least defend half her haul. Interestingly, assuming LDL plays and wins after claiming her first title over the weekend, Pennetta could get a quick shot at revenge against her Bogota conqueror in the 2nd Round in Acapulco.

All for now.


COMING UP SOON IN BACKSPIN: "The Blessed & the Cursed (& the great unwashed)" & "Non-Sequitur Jubilee"


Blogger thesupernova said...

Thank you Todd, another wonderful supernova pic to brighten my day:)

Thu Mar 02, 02:27:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

By the way, the link is gone from the "Links of the Week" sidebar... but it IS still alive and kicking in the "Tennis Links" section. You know, just in case a fit of nostalgia breaks out. :)

Thu Mar 02, 03:19:00 PM EST  

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