Saturday, November 18, 2006

WTA Player of the Year

To say that this year's "Miss Backspin" title should have a French twist -- Madame or Mademoiselle -- wouldn't in any way give away the name of 2006's Player of the Year, other than revealing that she's not a certain lanky blonde from Siberia.

Thus, the countdown begins:

10. Nicole Vaidisova
9. Kim Clijsters
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova
7. Martina Hingis


...Dynamova Vaidisova finally broke out in Paris, upsetting Amelie Mauresmo and reaching the Roland Garros SF. Sure, she squandered a lead there and missed out on her first grand slam final (it was something of a trend with her, considering her 1-6 record in semifinals in '06), but she ultimately held onto her Top 10 singles ranking by a single point over Dinara Safina (1191 to 1190). Clijsters didn't follow up her '05 U.S. Open crown with a flash of realization about what she could still accomplish in her career. Instead, injuries (including her wrist, again), bad decisions (Montreal) and failures to grab another major title dominated what she continues to maintain will be the penultimate season of her career. Kuznetsova put that '05 slump (Curse?) out of its misery, reached the final of RG and dominated for short stretches during a season in which she regained her Top 5 ranking. Hingis returned from her three-year retirement/sabbatical and immediately became a force on tour, reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals. Over the course of the season, she continued to be troubled by Top 10ers (5-12), but won two titles (one a Tier I) and exceeded all January expectations by returning to the Top 10.

6. Italian Fed Cup team
5. Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
4. Nadia Petrova
3. Maria Sharapova


...Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Mara Santangelo and Roberta Vinci turned Italy's early '06 singles success into a team triumph, upsetting France early and then later outlasting Belgium in the final to claim a surprise Fed Cup championship. Raymond/Stosur wasn't a dominant doubles tandem in the tradition of Navratilova/Shriver in days of yore, but the doubles co-#1's won ten titles, four Tier I's, Roland Garros and the YEC. Not too shabby. Petrova's best slam result was a QF in Melbourne (after being hurt before RG, she missed Wimbledon altogether), but she dominated the pre-Paris tour on the clay, was briefly the top-ranked Russian and won five singles titles after not claiming her career's first until late in '05. Sharapova built her strength and improved her game with each passing month of '06, seeing it pay dividends as she was the top player during the last half of the season (winning the U.S. Open, and 19 consecutive matches). She'll go into '07 as everyone's favorite to emerge as the game's top player by season's end.



2. Justine Henin-Hardenne
1. Amelie Mauresmo


...you never know what the theme of a particular season will be when the first ball is served up in January (just look at every other prediction made here eleven months ago). 2006, as far as Backspin was concerned, turned out to pivot on the continuing defense of Le Petit Taureau, and Mauresmo's placing of her career into a proper context for history.

Sharapova dominated the last half of the year, but Mauresmo and Henin-Hardenne were the stories of the season. Their individual highs and lows often ran in parallel. They won three of the four slam titles, meeting in the finals of two of them (Mauresmo won both, the first after JHH retired in Melbourne) before wrapping up their seasons in yet another major final in Madrid as Henin-Hardenne managed some vindication with a YEC title and year-end #1 ranking.

In five years, though, the 2006 season will not be looked back upon as the season Henin-Hardenne reached all four slam finals and finished up on top. As great as her accomplishments were, 2006 will be known as the year Mauresmo won two slams. Justine is the best in the world, but this was Amelie's year.

She is Mademoiselle Backspin.


*BACKSPIN 2006 MONTHLY TOP PLAYERS*
JANUARY: Amelie Mauresmo
FEBRUARY: Amelie Mauresmo
MARCH: Svetlana Kuznetsova
[1Q: Amelie Mauresmo]
APRIL: Nadia Petrova
MAY: Nadia Petrova
JUNE/ROLAND GARROS: Justine Henin-Hardenne
JULY/WIMBLEDON: Amelie Mauresmo
[2Q/clay: Justine Henin-Hardenne]
[2Q/grass: Amelie Mauresmo]

JULY(3Q): Kim Clijsters
AUGUST: Maria Sharapova
SEPTEMBER/U.S.: Maria Sharapova
[3Q: Maria Sharapova]
SEPTEMBER(4Q): Svetlana Kuznetsova
OCTOBER: Maria Sharapova
NOVEMBER: Justine Henin-Hardenne
[4Q: Maria Sharapova]
2006: Amelie Mauresmo


*PAST "MISS BACKSPIN" WINNERS*
2001 Jennifer Capriati
2002 Serena Williams
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne
2004 Maria Sharapova
2005 Kim Clijsters



*TOP 20 BY AGE*
27...Patty Schnyder
27...Amelie Mauresmo
26...Francesca Schiavone
26...Martina Hingis
25...Anastasia Myskina
25...Elena Dementieva
24...Justine Henin-Hardenne
24...Nadia Petrova
23...Daniela Hantuchova
23...Kim Clijsters
22...Marion Bartoli
21...Jelena Jankovic
21...Svetlana Kuznetsova
21...Anna-Lena Groenefeld
20...Dinara Safina
19...Anna Chakvetadze
19...Maria Sharapova
19...Shahar Peer
19...Ana Ivanovic
17...Nicole Vaidisova


*TOP 20 BY NATION*
7...Russia
2...Belgium
2...France
2...Serbia
2...Switzerland
1...Czech Republic
1...Germany
1...Israel
1...Italy
1...Slovakia


*TOP 20 BY CAREER TITLES*
42...Martina Hingis
33...Kim Clijsters
29...Justine Henin-Hardenne
23...Amelie Mauresmo
15...Maria Sharapova
10...Anastasia Myskina
10...Patty Schnyder
8.....Svetlana Kuznetsova
6.....Elena Dementieva
6.....Nadia Petrova
6.....Nicole Vaidisova
4.....Dinara Safina
3.....Marion Bartoli
3.....Shahar Peer
2.....Anna Chakvetadze
2.....Ana Ivanovic
1.....Anna-Lena Groenefeld
1.....Daniela Hantchova
1.....Jelena Jankovic
0.....Francesca Schiavone


*TOP 100 BY NATION*
16...Russia
11...USA
10...France
6.....Italy
4.....China
4.....Czech Republic
4.....Germany
4.....Spain
3.....Japan
3.....Slovakia
3.....Ukraine
2.....Australia
2.....Belarus
2.....Belgium
2.....Croatia
2.....Israel
2.....Poland
2.....Serbia
2.....Switzerland
1.....Argentina
1.....Austria
1.....Bulgaria
1.....Canada
1.....Colombia
1.....Estonia
1.....Finland
1.....Greece
1.....Hungary
1.....India
1.....Netherlands
1.....Slovenia
1.....Sweden
1.....Taiwan
1.....Thailand
1.....Uzbekistan


*REGIONAL RANKINGS*
==EUROPE==
#1 Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL)
#2 Maria Sharapova (RUS)
#3 Amelie Mauresmo (FRA)
#4 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
#5 Kim Clijsters (BEL)
#6 Nadia Petrova (RUS)
#7 Martina Hingis (SUI)
#8 Elena Dementieva (RUS)
#9 Patty Schnyder (SUI)
#10 Nicole Vaidisova (CZE)

==ASIA/PACIFIC==
#21 Na Li (CHN)
#26 Ai Sugiyama (JPN)
#29 Samantha Stosur (AUS)
#33 Jie Zheng (CHN)
#56 Shuai Peng (CHN)
#59 Aiko Nakamura (JPN)
#66 Sania Mirza (IND)
#75 Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA)
#78 Nicole Pratt (AUS)
#81 Tiantian Sun (CHN)

==SOUTH AMERICA/ATLANTIC==
#55 Catalina Castano (COL)
#61 Gisela Dulko (ARG)
#101 Milagros Sequera (VEN)
#115 Clarisa Fernandez (ARG)
#136 Jorgelina Cravero (ARG)
#171 Kristina Brandi (PUR)
#179 Paola Suarez (ARG)
#187 Mariana Diaz Oliva (ARG)
#205 Maria Jose Argeri (ARG)
#210 Jenifer Widjaja (BRA)
#217 Maria-Emilia Salerni (ARG)

==NORTH AMERICA==
#25 Lindsay Davenport (USA)
#37 Meghann Shaughnessy (USA)
#43 Shenay Perry (USA)
#45 Jamea Jackson (USA)
#48 Venus Williams (USA)
#50 Vania King (USA)
#70 Laura Granville (USA)
#73 Jill Craybas (USA)
#86 Ashley Harkleroad (USA)
#89 Meilen Tu (USA)

==AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST==
#20 Shahar Peer (ISR)
#65 Anna Smashnova (ISR)
#110 Tzipora Obziler (ISR)
#199 Yevgenia Savransky (ISR)
#248 Nathalie Grandin (RSA)
#284 Cara Black (ZIM)


*NATION RANKINGS*
==RUSSIANS IN TOP 100==
#2 Maria Sharapova
#4 Svetlana Kuznetsova
#6 Nadia Petrova
#8 Elena Dementieva
#11 Dinara Safina
#13 Anna Chakvetadze
#16 Anastasia Myskina
#24 Vera Zvonareva
#30 Maria Kirilenko
#38 Olga Poutchkova
#42 Elena Likhovtseva
#44 Elena Vesnina
#72 Ekaterina Bychkova
#74 Vasilisa Bardina
#82 Anastassia Rodionova
#97 Vera Dushevina

==CHINA==
#21 Na Li
#33 Jie Zheng
#56 Shuai Peng
#81 Tiantian Sun
#112 Meng Yuan
#166 Zi Yan
#188 Yanchong Chen
#200 Shuai Zhang
#244 Yanze Xie
#252 Shengnan Sun

==CZECH REPUBLIC==
#10 Nicole Vaidisova
#41 Lucie Safarova
#60 Iveta Benesova
#80 Eva Birnerova
#108 Zuzana Ondraskova
#119 Hana Sromova
#125 Klara Zakopalova
#133 Kveta Peschke
#145 Katerina Bohmova
#154 Sandra Zahlavova

==ITALY==
#15 Francesca Schiavone
#28 Flavia Pennetta
#31 Mara Santangelo
#40 Tathiana Garbin
#46 Romina Oprandi
#54 Maria Elena Camerin
#102 Roberta Vinci
#106 Alberta Brianti
#123 Karin Knapp
#171 Sara Errani

==FRANCE==
#3 Amelie Mauresmo
#17 Marion Bartoli
#22 Tatiana Golovin
#39 Severine Bremond
#49 Aravane Rezai
#51 Nathalie Dechy
#58 Emilie Loit
#76 Camille Pin
#79 Mary Pierce
#87 Virginie Razzano

==SPAIN==
#27 Anabel Medina-Garrigues
#52 Lourdes Dominguez Lino
#67 Virginia Ruano-Pascual
#98 Laura Pous Tio
#109 Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez
#137 Maria Sanchez-Lorenzo
#139 Conchita Martinez Grenados
#173 Arantxa Parra-Santonja
#243 Estrella Cabeza Candela
#273 Nuria Llagostera-Vives

==UKRAINE==
#32 Alona Bondarenko
#68 Yuliana Fedak
#99 Olga Savchuk
#107 Viktoriya Kutuzova
#108 Kateryna Bondarenko
#120 Julia Vakulenko

==GERMANY==
#19 Anna-Lena Groenefeld
#34 Martina Muller
#83 Julia Schruff
#100 Sandra Kloesel
#124 Kristina Barrois

==SLOVAKIA==
#18 Daniela Hantuchova
#71 Jarmila Gajdosova
#84 Martina Sucha
#156 Dominika Cibulkova
#201 Henrieta Nagyova

==CANADA==
#91 Aleksandra Wozniak
#134 Stephanie Dubois
#239 Valerie Tetreault
#256 Marie-Eve Pelletier
#371 Sharon Fichman

==AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND==
#29 Samantha Stosur (AUS)
#78 Nicole Pratt (AUS)
#160 Marina Erakovic (NZL)
#163 Alicia Molik (AUS)
#172 Casey Dellacqua (AUS)

==CROATIA==
#47 Jelena Kostanic
#88 Karolina Sprem
#144 Ivana Lisjak
#152 Ivana Abramovic
#180 Sanja Ancic

==ROMANIA==
#111 Edina Gallovits
#19 Anda Perianu
#161 Simona Matti
#196 Madalina Gojnea
#222 Monica Niculescu


*2006 WEEKS...*
[of 45 weeks]
==IN TOP 10==
45...Justine Henin-Hardenne (#1)
45...Maria Sharapova (#2)
45...Amelie Mauresmo (#3)
45...Kim Clijsters (#5)
45...Nadia Petrova (#6)
45...Elena Dementieva (#8)
45...Patty Schnyder (#9)
33...Svetlana Kuznetsova (#4)

32...Lindsay Davenport (#25)
30...Mary Pierce (#79)
13...Martina Hingis (#7)
12...Venus Williams (#48)
11...Nicole Vaidisova (#10)
10...Dinara Safina (#11)
==IN TOP 20==
45...Justine Henin-Hardenne (#1)
45...Maria Sharapova (#2)
45...Amelie Mauresmo (#3)
45...Svetlana Kuznetsova (#4)
45...Kim Clijsters (#5)
45...Nadia Petrova (#6)
45...Elena Dementieva (#8)
45...Patty Schnyder (#9)
45...Nicole Vaidisova (#10)
45...Francesca Schiavone (#15)
45...Anastasia Myskian (#16)

44...Lindsay Davenport (#25)
43...Dinara Safina (#11)
43...Daniela Hantuchova (#18)

40...Mary Pierce (#79)
38...Anna-Lena Groenefeld (#19)
37...Flavia Pennetta (#28)
35...Ana Ivanovic (#14)
26...Martina Hingis (#7)

26...Venus Williams (#48)
22...Elena Likhovtseva (#42)
13...Jelena Jankovic (#12)
9,...Nathalie Dechy (#51)
6....Marion Bartoli (#17)
5....Anna Chakvetadze (#13)

5....Na Li (#21)
4....Ai Sugiyama (#26)
4....Maria Kirilenko (#30)
3....Serena Williams (#95)
1....Shahar Peer (#20)
1....Katarina Srebotnik (#23)

*ALL-TIME WEEKS AT #1*
377...Steffi Graf
331...Martina Navratilova
262...Chris Evert
209...Martina Hingis
178...Monica Seles
98....Lindsay Davenport
57....Serena Williams
46...Justine Henin-Hardenne (+7 to end '06)
39....Amelie Mauresmo
22....Tracy Austin
19....Kim Clijsters
17....Jennifer Capriati
12....Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
11....Venus Williams
7.....Maria Sharapova

*BIGGEST RISES IN THE RANKINGS*
=end of '05 to end of '06=
[in 2006 Top 25]
+36...Na Li (#57 to #21)
+25...Shahar Peer (#45 to #20)
+23...Marion Bartoli (#40 to #17)
+20...Anna Chakvetadze (#33 to #13)
+18...Vera Zvonareva (#42 to #24)
+14...Svetlana Kuznetsova (#18 to #4)
+10...Jelena Jankovic (#22 to #12)
NR....Martina Hingis (NR to #7)

[2006 Top 26-50]
+194...Romina Oprandi (#240 to #46)
+159...Olga Poutchkova (#197 to #38)
+152...Vania King (#202 to #50)
+140...Aravane Rezai (#189 to #49)
+75....Martina Muller (#109 to #34)
+69....Shenay Perry (#112 to #43)
+67....Elena Vesnina (#111 to #44)
+63....Severine Bremond (#102 to #39)
+54....Mara Santangelo (#85 to #31)
+52....Jelena Kostanic (#99 to #47)

[2006 Top 51-100]
+324...Agnieszka Radwanska (#381 to #57)
+174...Vasilisa Bardina (#248 to #74)
+123...Yung-Jan Chan (#219 to #96)
+99....Aleksandra Wozniak (#190 to #91)
+85....Anastassia Rodionova (#167 to #82)
+74....Jarmila Gajdosova (#145 to #71)
+69....Yuliana Fedak (#137 to #68)
+63....Olga Savchuk (#162 to #99)
+57....Tamarine Tanasugarn (#132 to #75)
+56....Kaia Kanepi (#120 to #64)

+54....Victoria Azarenka (#146 to #92)


*BIGGEST FALLS IN THE RANKINGS*
=end of '05 to end of '06=
[2005 Top 25]
-84...Serena Williams (#11 to #95)
-74...Mary Pierce (#5 to #79)
-39...Nathalie Dechy (#12 to #51)
-38...Venus Williams (#10 to #48)
-25...Elena Likhovtseva (#17 to #42)
-24...Lindsay Davenport (#1 to #25)

[2005 Top 50]
-224...Nuria Llagostera-Vives (#49 to #273)
-134...Alicia Molik (#29 to #163)
-107...Kveta Peschke (#26 to #133)
-89....Klara Zakopalova (#36 to #125)
-61....Roberta Vinci (#41 to #102)
-58....Vera Dushevina (#39 to #97)
-35....Sania Mirza (#31 to #66)
-34....Gisela Dulko (#27 to #61)
-22....Anna Smashnova (#43 to #65)
--
Retired: #32 Conchita Martinez, #38 Shinobu Asagoe
Suspended: #35 Sesil Karatantcheva



All for now.

============================


2006 SEASON REVIEW EDITIONS OF WTA BACKSPIN:
....Revolving Doors
....Intriguing Answers: A Swiss Miss, a Near-Miss & a Big Hit
....How Smart We Were, How Dumb We Were
....Intriguing Answers: Maria the Bear
....Intriguing Answers: A Tale of Two Champions
...2006 Backspin Awards

NEXT WEEK:
....2006 WTA Yearbook

4 Comments:

Blogger Zidane said...

Great summary of the season, it was pretty interesting to compare all these players and countries. However, one point: when you list all best ranked-players by region, how come you mention #95 Serena Williams in North America, but not #91 Aleksandra Wosniak?

Sat Nov 18, 03:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Whoops, I had that list labeled "North America" at first, then changed it to "USA" when I realized the Top 10 North Americans were from the U.S, then I added Serena. Then I changed it back to "North America" since I had it listed with the other regions. Obviously, I forget to take Serena off the list at that point. She was actually the 11th-ranked player listed (Wozniak would have been #11 in North America), so I was kind of cheating there anyway. Too bad for Serena, I'll just cut it back to Top 10. :)

Wozniak was actually the reason why I included the list of top Canadians. :)

So, is it safe to say she might be the best Canadian female player in the last 20 years, since Carling Bassett?

Sun Nov 19, 12:33:00 AM EST  
Blogger Zidane said...

Hehe, that's true, Wosniak has a lot of talent. She might get far if she can become more regular on the court and improve her clay game. What,s also very interesting is that Dubois is in a final of a 50k ITF now. Maybe the fact Wosniak entered the top 100 will push Dubois :D

Sun Nov 19, 01:16:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

I think you can expect the Canadians to get some attention during the "2007 Intriguing Questions" next month. :)

Sun Nov 19, 05:13:00 PM EST  

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