Monday, October 23, 2006

Wk.42- The Supplemental Scenario

"Becoming #1 is a huge achievement, but I don't personally think ending the season as #1 is a huge deal. I honestly can't remember who finished last year #1. You remember who won the Grand Slams and who has been #1, not who finished the year #1."

That's what Maria Sharapova said this weekend after claiming her fourteenth career title by defeating Daniela Hantuchova in the Zurich final. The win, combined with the injury-related absences of Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin-Hardenne, sets her up for a potential run at the 2006 year-end #1 ranking. To do so, she'd have to win both Linz this week, and then the WTA Championships in Madrid two weeks after that (as long as JHH doesn't reach the Championships final, which she's never done in her career).

1. Amelie Mauresmo (3741)
2. Justine Henin-Hardenne (3473)
3. Maria Sharapova (3337)

Personally, I agree with Sharapova on this matter of Slams vs. rankings/titles (detailed in any pre-slam title comments/swipes on/at Clijsters and Mauresmo)... but it's still hardly an ugly feather for a player to put in her cap at the end of a long season (though, in 2006, it might be a more important accomplishment for someone like Henin-Hardenne, who's been on the wrong side of so many situations this season)

But in the Supernova's case, setting up a target to knock down might be good practice for that "Sharapova Scenario" issue that Backspin will continue to flog until it's beaten into submission.

Of course, Sharapova saying that the year-end #1 isn't important doesn't mean she doesn't want it... and unless she pulls a disappearing act in Linz before her first scheduled match, I'd say it's a pretty good bet that she does.

Thus, the target is set up. Let's see if she can hit the bull's eye.

(Oh, and for the record, Lindsay Davenport was the 2005 year-end #1... further proving Sharapova's point, I'd guess.)

**WEEK 42**

S: Maria Sharapova d. Daniela Hantuchova 6-1/4-6/6-3
D: Black/Stubbs d. Huber/Srebotnik

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Maria Sharapova
...Sharapova doesn't do anything small, does she? Her four titles this season include the U.S. Open and three Tier I's. Since losing to Elena Dementieva in the Los Angeles SF, she's won twelve straight matches around that walkover against Anna Chakvetadze in the Moscow QF.
RISER: Daniela Hantuchova
...Wonder Girl should try to duplicate the apparent hit she took by falling out of the Top 20 a few weeks ago every week. Zurich arguably provided her with her best week of results in more than four years, since the last time she reached (and won her only career title) a Tier I final was in Indian Wells in March 2002. She got resurgent victories over Patty Schnyder, Ai Sugiyama and Svetlana Kuznetsova around a walkover in the QF when Mauresmo withdrew with her bum shoulder. Of course, her ability to follow this up with something good in Linz might determine whether she'll be able to carry over any momentum into 2007.
SURPRISE: Katarina Srebotnik
...the 25-year old Slovenian reached her first Tier I SF since Tokyo '00 with wins over Elena Dementieva and Maria Kirilenko. She also was RU in doubles with Liezel Huber.
VETERANS: Martina Hingis & Cara Black/Rennae Stubbs
...the Swiss Miss hadn't played in Zurich for six years, and she returned to her home country's big event with wins over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Nathalie Dechy before falling in three sets to Kuznetsova in the QF (dropping her to 4-10 vs. Top 10 players this season). Black & Stubbs won their second Tier I of the season, adding Zurich to their San Diego crown.
FRESH FACE: Timea Bacsinszky

...the Swiss 17-year old had a nice run in Zurich, qualifiying with wins over Meghann Shaughnessy & Lisa Raymond, then reaching the main draw QF with upsets of Anastasia Myskina and Francesca Schiavone.
DOWN: Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Nicole Vaidisova
...ALG lost to Hingis in the 1st Round in Zurich. That's no great upset, but the loss drops her record to 10-15 on hard courts this season. She's 20-9 on other surfaces. This week in Linz, she opens against repeat giant killer Agnieszka Radwanska. Uh-oh. Vaidisova followed up her Moscow SF by being wiped out by Tatiana Golovin in the 1st Round in Zurich, ending her chances to qualify for the YEC (barring a rash of withdrawals), but probably not necessarily her ability to finish in the Top 10 if she has a super week in Linz.

1. Zur F - Sharapova d. Hantuchova
...6-1/4-6/6-3. Sharapova's 14th career title ties her with Jennifer Capriati. In the end, eight of the ten Tier I titles this year went to Russians, with 12 of the 20 finalists being Hordettes.
2. Zur 1st - Golovin d. Vaidisova
...6-2/6-0. Obviously, the Dynamova needs to work on consistency in '07.
3. Zur 1st - Bacsinszky d. Myskina
...6-3/6-3. First, the Czarina doesn't play in Moscow. Now this. Hopefully, she'll still be around in '07.
4. Zur QF - Hantuchova walkover Mauresmo
...Mauresmo's shoulder, not her head or heart, might ultimately cost her the 2006 #1 ranking.
5. Glasgow $25K F - Angelique Kerber d. Kirsten Flipkens

..6-4/6-2. The 18-year old German won her second straight ITF title, and her tenth consecutive match without dropping a set.

**MOST 2006 TITLES**
[w/ chronological event levels]


**MOST 2006 WTA SF**
13..Kuznetsova (5-8)
11..Henin-Hardenne (9-2)
11..SHARAPOVA (6-5)
9....Mauresmo (6-3)
8....Petrova (6-2)
8....Clijsters (3-5)

Tokyo - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Ind.Wells - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Miami - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Charleston - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Berlin - Zi Yan/Jie Zheng
Rome - Daniela Hantuchova/Ai Sugiyama
San Diego - Cara Black/Rennae Stubbs
Montreal - Martina Navratilova/Nadia Petrova
Moscow - Kveta Peschke/Francesca Schiavone

...come on Maria, give me another.

2005 FINAL: Petrova d. Schnyder
2006 TOP: Sharapova/Petrova
SF: Sharapova d. Zvonareva; Chakvetadze d. Vaidisova
FINAL: Sharapova d. Chakvetadze

...the Moscow match is finally rescheduled in Austria.

All for now.


THIS WEEK: "How Smart We Were, How Dumb We Were"


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