Monday, April 09, 2007

Wk.14- Tatiana et Tatiana

I've come to the conclusion that time travel is indeed possible. Or is it teleportation? Or maybe both. How else do you explain Tatiana Golovin and, umm, Tatiana Golovin?

The sustained excellence and confidence that the 19-year old Frussian Pastry displayed over the course of play in Amelia Island -- knocking out Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Nadia Petrova with only a few hiccups -- didn't really resemble the Golovin we've seen over the last twelve months. She did look like the player that appeared ready to make a monumental career leap last March in Miami, though.

More than a year ago, Golovin came home to Miami and raised the hopes of the locals that they might witness her breakthrough first career title. After wiping out Elena Dementieva, she'd overcome a 5-1 2nd set deficit and stared down four match points against Maria Sharapova in the semifinals to find herself on the opposite side of the net of a flagging Supernova seemingly ready to fold under Golovin's pressure. Then the French teenager suffered a nasty ankle injury while chasing a ball into the court's sidelines, ending the match as well as any of the momentum she was surely going to carry with her into the clay season.

She didn't get back onto the court until Roland Garros and, while she managed to have her moments (she reached the U.S. Open QF, and her third career final in Stuttgart while compiling a 16-12 post-Miami record in '06) here and there, she couldn't rediscover her Miami mojo and return to her hometown level of play. After a mediocre start to '07, there was recently some hope expressed here that maybe her return to Miami would re-ignite her game, but Golovin instead went out meekly in the 3rd Round to Anna Chakvetadze.

I had actually predicted Golovin to end 2007 in the Top 10 based largely on Miami Tatiana returning, but when it didn't happen a few weeks ago there was the passing thought that maybe THAT Tatiana was something of a mirage... but then she went to Amelia Island and finally picked up where she left off in Miami, even if it took a full year for it to happen. Miami Tatiana was back, and that OTHER Tatiana was no where to be found. After coming up short so many times, THIS Golovin simply refused to be left behind.

What happened? Hmmm, maybe Tatiana is the "victim" of a bodysnatching... by herself.

Hey, it's just as good an explanation as any, isn't it? Golovin searched for and found a brilliant scientist with a background in timebending and said, "Professor, I want the whole shabang -- I NEED to be the Tatiana I was last year in Miami. And I need you to make it happen RIGHT NOW... and I'll do ANYTHING -- short of a Sesil impression -- to seal the deal."

A few whiz-bang, abracadabras later and the pre-injury Tatiana from the Sharapova match physically switched places with the post-injury Tatiana and... VOILA!... the rest is Amelia Island history.

Well, either that or it's some weird balancing act by the tennis gods who noted that I'd dropped Golovin from my year-end Top 10 before last week and decided to finally make sure she looked the part.

Hey, a Reverse Curse, baby!

Of course, that's just another wild theory.


S: Tatiana Golovin d. Nadia Petrova 6-2/6-1
D: Santangelo/Srebotnik d. Medina-Garrigues/Ruano-Pascual

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tatiana Golovin
reaching WTA singles finals has been a yearly ritual (most recently in Stuttgart late in' 06) for Golovin since 2004, but until Sunday the ceremony always ended with her accepting a runner-up check. After an impressive string of wins over Castano, Stosur (who played doubles without Lisa Raymond, by the way, and as a result lost her co-#1 doubles ranking), Venus, Ivanovic and then Petrova (her conqueror in Stuttgart) in the final, though, the fourth time was the Frussian Pastry's charm. Petrova's great '06 clay run started with this same A.I. title. Can a confident Golovin follow suit?
RISERS: Tatiana Golovin & Ana Ivanovic
AnaIvo ultimately lost the battle against Golovin in the SF, but wins over Peng, Dechy and Jankovic still made for a very effective (and much needed) week of work.
SURPRISE: Sybille Bammer & Maret Ani
with her season's fourth SF appearance in Amelia Island, it might be time to remove the "surprise" label on Bammer. She had victories over Tanasugarn, Razzano, Sprem and Hantuchova this time around (and might get a shot at Vaidisova in Charleston). 25-year old Estonian Ani has been ripping up the ITF so far in '07. She picked up her fourth title of the season at the Putignano $25K (def. Carmen Klaschka in the final) for her 15th consecutive tour victory. She's 24-1 in ITF matches this season, but just 1-2 in WTA qualifying matches.
VETERAN: Meilen Tu
the American reached the Amelia Island 3rd Round with wins over Pennetta and Muller. (This award seemed like a lock all week for Cara Black and Liezel Huber, but they were stunned in the Doubles SF by eventual champs Santangelo/Srebotnik.)
FRESH FACEs: Dominika Cibulkova & Edina Gallovits

the 17-year old Slovakian Cibulkova was awarded a wild card into tha A.I. main draw, and she reached the 3rd Round with wins over Medina-Garrigues and Dushevina. She's now at at career-high rank of #131. Gallovits, 22, is the latest Romanian to bubble up with a good result. She won the Pelham $25K with a win in the final over Greta Arn.
DOWN: Zi Yan/Jie Zheng
the Chinese pair's results have dipped in '07 (while the Taiwanese team of Chan/Chuang has in many ways replaced them as the rising pair to watch), and last week's A.I. 2 & 2 QF loss to Husarova/Shaughnessy was just another example. Since losing to Chan/Chuang in the Oz SF, Yan & Zheng have gone a rather pedestrian 7-4 with no titles.

1. AI Final - Golovin d. Petrova
The Perfect Storm matchup. It was good news for Tatiana, and bad news for Nadia. Not including Petrova's Hopman Cup win over her earlier this season, Golovin now holds a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over the '06 A.I. champ.
2. AI SF - Golovin d. Ivanovic
Maybe if Petrova had played in the opening SF rather than the 2nd, she could have mentally willed Ivanovic into the final from the lockerroom rather than her Frussian nemesis?
3. AI QF - Golovin d. V.Williams
And Tatiana is no longer wearing those frightening low-riding, hip-hugging skirts & shorts, either. Of that everyone can be glad. All right, here's where I grumble that Golovin's win over Petrova makes it SEVEN times this season that my tournament champion pick has reached the final only to lose it. Grrrrrr. But, hey, in January I DID pick Golovin to win her maiden WTA title this season... so maybe there IS something to that notion of a balancing process by the tennis gods.
4. AI QF - Bammer d. Hantuchova
Wonder Girl is 3-2 since she won Indian Wells.
5. AI 2nd - Sprem d. Li
Sprem is still only 22, so maybe there's something left to her career yet. After qualifying, she got wins over Meghann Shaughnessy and Li.

Sybille Bammer (AUT/26) - Pattaya City
Yaroslava Shvedova (RUS/19) - Bangalore
Roberta Vinci (ITA/24) - Bogota

19...Yaroslava Shvedova (Bangalore)
19...Anna Chakvetadze (Hobart)

Yaroslava Shvedova, Bangalore (def. Santangelo)

RUS (4) - Chakvetadze/Petrova/Safina/Shvedova
BEL (2) - Clijsters/Henin
USA (2) - S.Williams/V.Williams

10..RUSSIA (4)
5...Belgium (3)
5...FRANCE (3)
4...Italy (1)
3...United States (3)
3...Serbia (1)
2...Switzerland (1)

Round of 16: Backspin 37-34
SEMIFINALS: Pierre 19-17
FINALISTS: Backspin 12-8
CHAMPIONS: Backspin 3-2

2006 FINAL: Petrova d. Schnyder
2007 TOP: Vaidisova/Jankovic

Vaidisova d. Bammer
Zvonareva d. Ivanovic
Safina d. Dominguez-Lino
Golovin d. Schnyder
Li d. Medina-Garrigues
S.Williams d. V.Williams
Peer d. Srebotnik
Santangelo d. Jankovic

Vaidisova d. Zvonareva
Golovin d. Safina
S.Williams d. Li
Peer d. Santangelo

Golovin d. Vaidisova
S.Williams d. Peer

S.Williams d. Golovin

Vaidisova(1) def Bammer(15)
Ivanovic(7) def Zvonareva(9)
Safina(4) def Bartoli(13)
Golovin(10) def Schnyder(6)
Na Li(8) def Schiavone(11)
SWilliams(3) def VWilliams
Peer(5) def Rezai
Jankovic(2) def Harkleroad

Vaidisova(1) def Ivanovic(7)
Golovin(10) def Safina(4)
SWilliams(3) def Na Li(8)
Jankovic(2) def Peer(5)

Vaidisova(1) def Golovin(10)
SWilliams(3) def Jankovic(2)

SWilliams(3) def Vaidisova(1)

All for now.

Do yourself a favor and pick up the latest issue of Tennis magazine (May '07, with Sharapova on the cover). Robert Rand's article on the FIRST Russian tennis revolution is a must read.

No, it didn't start with Anna Kournikova... but with Anna Dmitrieva. Olga Morozova, largely because she was Elena Dementieva's coach during her slam final runs, hasn't been forgotten from the group of first-on-the-scene Russian players from the 1970's... but do you know about Natasha Chmyreva? She was a serve-and-volleying grand slam semifinalist at age 16 in 1975, but she was unfortunately caught in the web of time. Had she arrived on the scene thirty years later she might have become a multimedia star just like the current crop of Russian teens. Instead, her career was essentially over just a few years after it had begun. In large part, the reason for the destruction of Chmyreva's career and the first Russian tennis revolution wasn't injury or burnout, it was... South Africa and the Olympics? Intrigued?

Check it out. It's a very illuminating read.


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