Wk.12/13- It's Gotta Be the Earrings
Well, it's either that or it's gotta be... the Curse.
(sound of shrieking woman echoes in the background)
After seeing fit to issue the second Statement of the season following the Saturday afternoon posting of the latest edition of "Backspin Volley," which saw me and Pierre burn a proverbial cross on Justine Henin's front lawn by both predicting her as our revised year-end #1 pick, I'm holding out hope that Serena's hooped accoutrements are the culprits and not us. I mean, literally within the hour of the appearance of the Volley, Henin was well on her way to losing a match to Williams that she seemingly had in the pre-Volley bag after winning the 1st set at love and holding two match points in the 2nd.
Of course, Pierre and I don't want to take any responsibility for this series of frightful things that seem to befall every player on which we duly bestow our latest predicted year-end #1 title (I mean, Justine has her favored clay season coming up, after all). There has to be another reason for what happened in the Miami final. So...
Do ya know do ya know do ya know do ya know? In the spirit of the constant refrain of former Nike ad icon Mars Blackmon, "Money, it's GOTTA be the earrings."
While watching the Serena-Justine match, I often found myself squinting to try to determine what word it was that was inside the hoops on the earrings Serena was wearing (obivously, I really need to get a high-def TV). Finally, I realized what the word was... "Serena." Naturally.
(I probably should have guessed that, huh?)
Why can't the earrings be the reason for this latest dose of Serena heroics, and not Monsieur Cantin and myself? I mean, Mars always thought that Michael Jordan's brilliance HAD to be because of the shoes, right?
Hmmm, unless this week's anecdotal evidence of the Curse's power is really just much ado about nothing. Maybe Serena is just simply better than everyone else when she's ON, and it just took her a while to turn herself ON on Saturday. Hmmm, she was ON in Melbourne against Maria Sharapova, this season's previous Curse "victim," too. Ummm, now that I think about it, Jordan was "kinda" good no matter what shoes he was wearing, as well.
Aha! Pierre & I had nothing to do with it! I knew it!
(Of course, just to be sure, we'll have to see what happens to whoever gets the "gift" of the burning cross after Wimbledon when we revise our Top 10 again, won't we?)
*WEEK 12/13 CHAMPIONS*
MIAMI, FLORIDA USA (I-HO)
S: Serena Williams d. Justine Henin 0-6/7-5/6-3
D: Raymond/Stosur d. Black/Huber
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Serena Williams
...Serena's fourth career Miami title already brings her within 98 points of the Top 10. Look out above!
RISERS: Shahar Peer & Anna Chakvetadze
...the two young players with perhaps the most consistent week in and week out results continued to maintain their form in Miami. Corporal Peer followed up her Australian Open upset of Svetlana Kuznetsova with another, and reached a Tier I SF immediately after her Tier I QF in Indian Wells. Maintaining her "missed it by that much" streak in Miami, Peer lost to the tournament's eventual champion for the sixth time in seven events in '07. Chakvetadze waltzed to her Miami SF with impressive wins over Na Li and hometown girl Tatiana Golovin. With this result, she's back in the Top 10 (at least until Serena plays another event).
SURPRISE: Vera Dushevina
...the 20-year old Hordette continued to show progress, reaching the Miami Round of 16 with wins over Marion Bartoli and Kaia Kanepi.
VETERANS: Lisa Raymond & Tathiana Garbin
...do three Tier I titles beat one slam crown? No, not really. But what Lisa Raymond (with some help from Samantha Stosur, of course) has done this year in doubles is quite impressive, having so far taken all three Tier I crowns to date in '07 (they won four in '06). In Miami, the pair beat Australian Open champs Cara Black & Liezel Huber in the final, the team they lost to in the SF in Melbourne. Oh, well. At least Lisa & Sam have that shared #1 doubles ranking to crow about. Meanwhile, Garbin (who turns the big 3-0 in June) reached the Miami QF by having her way on the court with considerably younger foes named Harkleroad, Shvedova and Radwanska.
FRESH FACEs: Agnieszka Radwanska & Sorana Cirstea
...A-Rad knocked off Shenay Perry, Jie Zheng and (wait for it) MARTINA HINGIS (ahh, there it is) en route to the Round of 16 in Miami. In the girls Luxilon Cup event in Miami, 16-year old Romanian Cirstea easily handled Russia's Anastasia Pivovarova (the world junior #5 to Cirstea's #8) 6-2/6-1. Colette Lewis has a nice account of these happenings at Zoo Tennis.
...oh, where to start? Miami provided so many candidates. Ana Ivanovic, a straights sets 2nd Round loser to Yaroslava Shvedova? Hingis? Jelena Jankovic, who went down in three to Mara Santangelo in the 3rd Round? Kuznetsova, who was the defending champion at the event? Golovin, who went out meekly to Chakvetadze in the 3rd Round a year after nearly taking out Sharapova? Daniela Hantuchova, who followed up her I.W. win with a 2 & 4 loss to Zvonareva in the 3rd? Kim Clijsters, who not only recently sabotaged what little remains of her slam career, but also lost in the 3rd Round (but it was to the quickly charging Na Li, who's given her trouble in the past). Maybe that dope who was heckling Serena with racial slurs? Okay, okay... I can't avoid it any longer. It has to be Maria Sharapova, who got her second chance at Williams after that 6-1/6-2 loss in Melbourne. This time... she lost 6-1/6-1 (and just pulled out of Charleston and Russia's 1st Round Fed Cup tie). Hey, don't blame us.
1. Mia F - S.Williams d. Henin
...0-6/7-5/6-3. At the end, it was hard to remember that Henin was simply brilliant while winning the first seven games and holding two match points at 5-4 in the 2nd. After twice slipping and hitting the deck on the court, she showed mettle in nearly getting back into the match after falling down 4-1 in the 3rd. But, as has been the case before (and surely will be again), a healthy Serena with a breath of life is simly radioactive to opponents.
2. Mia 3rd - Henin d. Razzano
...6-2/2-6/7-6. Of course, after arriving in Miami having never gotten past the QF, then surviving this match after finding herself in a 5-1 hole in the 3rd set, then down 5-6 love/30 on her serve and 0-2 in the tie-break, maybe Henin had used up all her good fortune points BEFORE the final.
3. Mia 3rd - Sharapova d. V.Williams
...2-6/6-2/7-5. As it is, even the Supernova's wins are pretty ugly at the moment. In their first meeting since the '05 Wimbledon SF, Sharapova and Williams combined for 25 double-faults (Maria led the way with 13), 91 unforced errors and 13 service breaks.
4. Mia 4th - Peer d. Kuznetsova
...6-4/4-6/6-3. If only Shahar could avoid Serena, she might be the talk of the tour at this point in '07. But, alas... there are quite a few players who could (and will) say the same before the year is out.
5. Mia 4th - S.Williams d. Sharapova
...6-1/6-1. Serena never faced a break point on her serve. Boy, could the '04 Wimbledon final seem any longer ago than it does at this instant?
6. Mia 2nd - Henin d. King
...6-4/6-1. King sang on Ashe Stadium Court before she lost to Henin at the U.S. Open. This time, though, "Idol" Vania didn't get the shot to challenge Melinda or LaKisha (hmmm, American Standards week on "American Idol"...should be interesting).
7. Mia 2nd - Clijsters d. Morigami
...4-6/6-0/6-0. Apparently, the Party Planner was getting a jump on her "to do" list during the 1st set. Order monogrammed napkins... check. Oh, there's Akiko. What's she doing over there? Oh, yeah. THAT'S RIGHT.
8. Raanana $10K F - Linetskaya d. Hladikova
...6-4/6-4. The Russian won her third straight ITF title -- and 15th consecutive match -- of the season while the first week of action was taking place in Miami.
9. Mia QF - Henin d. Petrova
...7-6/7-6. Now, you could look at this match and say that Petrova got very close, having break points for 5-3 in the 1st and 5-4 in the 2nd, and say she's gearing up to peak during her important clay season. Or you could be Pierre. Don't worry, Nadia... at least someone around here has your back.
10. Rome $10K 1st - Gatto-Monticone d. Dokic
...6-2/6-4. A year ago, Dokic defeated Gatto-Monticone easily. It's one thing to scale "ant hills" and act as if you're a still an accomplished mountain climber, but when the "ant hills" start to knock over YOU the message is clear: take off the blinders, or simply take off... for your own good.
**2007 WINS OVER WORLD #1**
FEB - #16 Ivanovic d. Sharapova (Tokyo SF)
MAR - #20 Zvonareva d. Sharapova (I.W. 4th)
APR - #18 S.Williams d. Henin (Miami F)
**MOST 2007 SINGLES TITLES**
2...SERENA WILLIAMS (Australian/MIAMI)
2...JUSTINE HENIN (Dubai/Doha)
**CAREER TIER I TITLES - ACTIVE**
**LONG 2007 MATCH WIN STREAKS**
13...SERENA WILLIAMS (JAN-current)
13...Justine Henin (Feb-Mar)
15...EVGENIA LINETSKAYA (current)
15...CASEY DELL'ACQUA (current)
**2007 TIER I WINNERS**
Tokyo - Hingis def. Ivanovic
Ind.Wells - Hantuchova def. Kuznetsova
Miami - S.Williams def. Henin
Tokyo - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Ind.Wells - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
Miami - Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
AMELIA ISLAND, FLORIDA USA (II-GCO)
2006 FINAL: Petrova d. Schiavone
2007 TOP: Petrova/Jankovic
SF: Petrova d. Li; Jankovic d. V.Williams
FINAL: Petrova d. Jankovic
...no Justine here, so this might be Nadia's best chance (as opposed to the Tier I's in Charleston and Berlin) to defend one of those three '06 2Q clay court titles.
All for now.
ALSO THIS WEEK: March & 1Q Awards