Monday, July 14, 2008

Wk.28- Inheriting the Earth... for a week

Cockroaches and other insects are set to one day inherit the earth from the human race, but such is not the case when the top players are "resting up" following the conclusion of a long grand slam fortnight.

A week after Wimbledon, it was time for the up-and-comers on tour to stand up and make their intentions for the second half of 2008 crystal clear (Ms. Szavay, not so fast). As it turned out, the finals in the two clay events in Budapest and Palermo included four players looking to grab a first career WTA singles title. In fact, three of them were first-time finalists.

Nope. No cockroaches in sight.

Of course, more attention was probably garnered (at least in the U.S.) by World Team Tennis action featuring, amongst others, both Williams sisters. Though, for the Backspinning life of me, I'm not sure why. Or maybe it's just me who's come to believe the idea of the WTT is far, far more intriguing than the product that actually hits the court.

Every time I catch some WTT action on television, I think, "Ooh." Then, ten minutes later, I'm usually watching something else rather than whatever's taking place on a playing surface that's the tennis equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, with less apparent intent. Quite possibly there's more inherent entertainment value to the enterprise when it's taken in in person. But as a television event, World Team Tennis makes Arena Football almost seem like a real live serious "sport."

Meanwhile, in the matches that counted, 18-year old Pastry Alize Cornet continued to solidify her new status as France's best player in Budapest, winning both her first career singles and doubles titles. Not to be outdone, Italy's Sara Errani pulled the exact same dual-first titles feat in Palermo.

As far as the weekend results of the Washington Kastles or Boston Lobsters? Ummm, I don't really know.


S: Alize Cornet def. Andreja Klepac 7-6/6-3
D: Cornet/Husarova d. Henke/Olaru

S: Sara Errani def. Mariya Koryttseva 6-2/6-3
D: Errani/Llagostera-Vives d. Kudryavtseva/Pavlyuchenkova


AP PHOTO/MTI, Tamas Kovacs
it took Cornet three tries in '08 singles finals to get things right, but she finally did it in Budapest, ending the surprising run of Andreja Klepac in the final. With her first career singles and doubles titles under her belt, the Pastry with the lovely-sounding name shot to a career-best #18 ranking. She's just the second teenager (with Agnieszka Radwanska) to win a singles title this season and, at 18 years and five months, she's the youngest so far.
RISERS: Mariya Koryttseva, UKR & Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER
23-year old Koryttseva was one of the three first-time finalists this weekend, falling in the Palermo decider after having notched wins over youngster Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and veteran Anabel Medina-Garrigues. Groenefeld reached the QF in Budapest, her best tour result since reaching the Stanford QF in 2006. She warmed up for her return WTA breakthrough by winning three ITF events in recent weeks.
SURPRISES: Andreja Klepac, SLO & Karolina Sprem, CRO
Klepac was the surprise of the week, upsetting top-seeded Agnes Szavay and Petra Kvitova en route to her first career final in Budapest. The 22-year old Slovenian, ranked #135 coming into the event, had reached two previous tour QF in 2008. She's now #99. Meanwhile, Sprem's return to something resembling past form was a nice thing to see. She returned to the court in March, ten months after undergoing elbow surgery, and her SF in Hungary was her best tour result since she reached the Kolkata final in 2005.
VETERANS: Greta Arn, HUN & Margalita Chaknashvili, GEO
veteran Hungarian Arn sparked much better in her home country than Szavay did, defeating Iveta Benesova and Klara Zakopalova to reach the QF. Chaknashvili, a 26-year old Georgian who has mostly made a living on the ITF circuit (winning seven titles), reached her first tour-level QF in Palermo. Ranked #208, she qualified and got a win over Yanina Wickmayer.
FRESH FACES: Sara Errani, ITA & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS

after trying to pinpoint the week that Errani was going to win her first title earlier this season (after a couple of failed Backspin Picks, I shut down the enterprise), she finally pulled it off in a week in which I didn't pick her. Naturally, I shifted my will-to-a-title action to Carla Suarez-Navarro... who, perhaps not so ironically, retired from her QF match with Errani due to a finger injury last week. Oh, well. Errani's singles/doubles sweep in Palermo nearly pushed her into the Top 50 as she posted some nice wins over Hsieh Su-Wei, Julia Vakulenko, Flavia Pennetta and Mariya Koryttseva. (It pays to not have to face Nuria Llagostera-Vives, I guess --Errani's 0-3 against HER this season.) Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova took a week that looked like chicken you-know-what and turned it into some tasty chicken salad. After losing in Palermo qualifying, she entered the draw as a Lucky Loser. She defeated vets Roberta Vinci and Rossana de los Rios to reach her first tour QF, then topped things off by reaching the doubles final with Alla Kudryavtseva, who likel gave her fellow Russian fashion tips on what NOT to wear next year at Wimbledon.
DOWN: Agnes Szavay, HUN
Agnes' homecoming wasn't exactly a successful one. A year ago, she opened up her 3rd Quarter schedule by winning the Palermo title. This time around, she suffered a loss in her first match in Budapest. Hopefully, this isn't the return of the early-season Szavay who found new and exciting players to lose to each and every week. That it was Klepac, who ended up having a career week, who defeated her is probably a good sign. I guess we'll see this week in Bad Gastein.
ITF PLAYER: Petra Martic, CRO
following in the wake of Kvitova and Cetkovska, there's another Petra to keep an eye on. This one -- Petra Martic -- is a 17-year old Croatian who won her first ITF title over the weekend in the $75K event in Zagreb. Along the way, she defeated Kirsten Flipkens, Anastasia Pivovarova and Yvonne Meusburger. In May, she knocked off Evgeniya Rodina in a $50K event. This week, her ranking jumped from #371 to #236.

1. Bud F - Cornet d. Klepac
Ah-li-zeh COR-neh, Ah-li-zeh COR-neh, Ah-li-zeh COR-neh. How can you not enjoy saying it out loud?
2. Pal F - Errani d. Koryttseva
It was the second time this season that two first-time finalists met to decide a tournament champion.
3. Bud 2nd - Klepac d. Szavay
Bad 1st Quarter flashback, man. Baaaaad.
4. Bud SF - Klepac d. Sprem
Ranked #329, if Sprem had made the final she'd have had a shot to become the second lowest-ranked tour champion ever, behind only #579 Angelique Widjaja in Bali in 2001.
5. Bud Q3 - Zoric d. Karatantcheva
...6-3/6-3. Zoric is an 18-year old Serb who was ranked #462.
Bad Gastein Q2 - Zahlavova d. Karatantcheva
...6-2/6-3. Obviously, it wasn't a very good week for the Sesil-meister.
HM- Stan Q1 - Stevenson d. Black
A rare singles appearance from Black, a former junior #1 who won the Wimbledon & U.S. Open Girls titles (and was RU at Roland Garros) in 1997.
HM- Stan Q3 - Wozniak d. Stosur
The U.S. Open Series has begun, so is it time for another Canadian to surprise? First it was Dubois, then Dancevic. Could A-Woz be next?

4...Serena Williams (3-1)
4...Vera Zvonareva (1-2 + L)
3...Maria Sharapova (3-0)
3...Agnieszka Radwanska (3-0)
3...Ana Ivanovic (2-1)
3...Elena Dementieva (1-2)
3...Dinara Safina (1-2)
3...ALIZE CORNET (1-2)
3...Svetlana Kuznetsova (0-3)

13...United States

FEB - Memphis - Lindsay Davenport
APR - Estoril - Maria Kirilenko
JUL - Wimbledon - Venus Williams

JUN - Birmingham - K.Bondarenko d. Wickmayer

#140 M.J. Martinez-Sanchez (Birmingham-L)
#132 Iveta Benesova (Estoril-L)
#114 Nuria Llagostera-Vives (Bogota-W)

JANUARY: Maria Sharapova, RUS
FEBRUARY: Maria Sharapova, RUS
MARCH/APRIL 1Q: Serena Williams, USA
APRIL 2Q: Serena Williams, USA
MAY/pre-RG: Dinara Safina, RUS
JUNE/pre-Wimb: Agnieszka Radwanska, POL

2004: Davenport-Mauresmo-Likhovtseva
2005: CLIJSTERS-Pierce-Mauresmo
2006: Ivanovic-SHARAPOVA-Clijsters
2007: Sharapova-Jankovic-HENIN
CAPS: won U.S. Open

07 FINAL: Chakvetadze d. Mirza
08 TOP: S.Williams/Chakvetadze

S.Williams d. Zvonareva
Peer d. Sugiyama

S.Williams d. Peer

...does the assault on New York begin in California?

07 FINAL: Schiavone d. Meusburger
08 TOP: Szavay/Cornet

Szavay d. Meusburger
Cornet d. Llagostera-Vives

Cornet d. Szavay

...maybe Szavay has less pressure to succeed in Austria than she did back home in Hungary. Maybe Cornet has finally got the formula memorized, and is raring to show the world.

All for now.


Blogger Eric said...

davenport just withdrew from stanford...for serious, give the spot to lisa raymond.


did you get a chance to see serena play at WTT? (wait...are the washington kastles for DC or the state of w??)

Mon Jul 14, 09:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Black probably played in singles in order to get some preparation for the Olympics.

I was truly amazed to see Wozniak beat Stosur. Let's say it was a good surprise, especially if she can take some momentum from her good slam performances.

Oh, and no comment for the Cornet pronunciation. I believe it sounds better in English than in French. In French, a cornet is a cone, like in an ice cream cone.

Mon Jul 14, 11:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

You know, Eric, even if Davenport couldn't go to Beijing... Vania King might be picked to fill the singles slot. ;)

Yeah, the Kastles are in Washington D.C. The first outing got a lot of coverage, mostly because Serena was there. Of course, that's the only time she'll be playing in any home games... so I doubt if the interest will be quite as high then.

Truthfully, I'm not even sure if they've shown the game she played on TV (usually, the WTT matches that I see televised are a week or two old). It looks like it might be aired on Wednesday on Tennis Channel, and Thursday on the Washington regional sports channel... so maybe I WILL watch some of that one. I caught some of a doubles match that included Venus the other day, and even with her there I ended up changing the channel. Maybe McEnroe or Navratilova or someone like that would hold my attention, since you never see them play for real anymore. Actually, a Seniors WTT would be more interesting, come to think of it.

And it's been a long time since I've even gone to a Redskins game after going to quite a few when I was in high school and soon after, so I don't think I'd even consider seeing the WTT, truthfully.

Zidane, I like to say her first name mostly. Of course, the WTA website and guide have two different phonetic pronuniciations of "Alize," though. One makes it seem as if her first and last names could be said in a way that they rhyme (ah-li-zeh cor-neh), while the other doesn't (ali-zay cor-neh). And, of course, one never knows which ESPN commentator/announcer actually is using a credible pronunciation.

Even if they're not supposed to, I'll probably always have a rhyming combination in my head when I see her name. :)

Tue Jul 15, 01:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Well, I have nothing against pronuncing names your way. I do that often, in both languages. But just so you know, her name is pronounced a (no h) - li - zay (like in "play"). Just so you know, and it might help you for a nickname, in French, Alizé is the name of a wind. I don't know if her parents named her in relation to that though...

Tue Jul 15, 06:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

So, essentially, NEITHER of the phonetic pronunciations on the WTA website OR in the guide are technically correct. Oh, brother.

Ah, then a good title for a week when Cornet might win a title would be "She's Like the Wind." :)

Tue Jul 15, 06:57:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home