Wk.34- Bare Bones Backspin (U.S. Open Eve)
All the responses to my emails and calls to the offices of the Supreme Court of Tennis have apparently been lost in the vast otherworld-wide communications network... or at least that's what I'm going to assume, because otherwise it'd mean that the Tennis Gods are shunning your Friendly Neighborhood Backspinner for some strange reason.
I'm sure they're simply all busy. I hear they were all given a fine collection of mirrors from the Olympic Gods in conjunction with all the deal-making in the Dementieva-for-Gold campaign.
Hmmm, I hope revealing that didn't make any of them angry.
Anyway, with no guest columnist this time around, the pre-slam "Bare Bones Backspin" goes somewhat back to it's original roots, hence the inclusion of only the basic weekly elements on this U.S. Open eve.
*WEEK 34 CHAMPIONS*
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT USA (II-Hard)
S: Caroline Wozniacki def. Anna Chakvetadze 3-6/6-4/6-1
D: Peschke/Raymond d. Cirstea/Niculescu
FOREST HILLS, NY USA (IV-Hard)
S: Lucie Safarova def. Peng Shuai 6-4/6-2
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
...Cibulkova succumbed to the heat in the early going, then Bartoli, Cornet and Chakvetadze were handled by the suddenly deadly Dane, who's won two titles in three weeks. After finally winning in Stockholm a few weeks ago, the New Haven title just goes to show you how much one good result can boost the confidence of a young player. C-Woz is now one of twelve players with either two or three titles this season and with a shot at leading the tour in the category for the season one year after Justine Henin fairly well blew away the field with ten crowns.
RISERS: Anna Chakvetadze, RUS & Peng Shuai, CHN
...Chakvetadze has seemingly been up and down every other tournament in '08, and New Haven proved to be one of her good weeks, even if she did lose her first of eight career final appearances on tour. Highlighted by a win over Amelie Mauresmo, she reached the SF and at least showed that after a nice long offseason to rest, relax and get her head straight she might be able to recapture some of her '07 form in '09. Peng, with the Olympics behind her, reached her first singles final since 2006 (Strasbourg) in Forest Hills, getting some nice wins over Pauline Parmentier, Vera Dushevina and Carla Suarez-Navarro.
SURPRISE: Lucie Safarova, CZE
...Safarova would be the most disappointing Czech on tour were it not for the plight of Nicole Vaidisova. Still, she's managed to reach singles finals four straight years, and her Forest Hills title -- no matter how small -- is her first title since claiming three from 2005-06.
VETERANS: Amelie Mauresmo/FRA & Kveta Peschke/Lisa Raymond, CZE/USA
...is Amelie back just in time for a harken-all-the-way-back-to-2006 run at a third slam title? Maybe not, but back-to-back semifinals in Cincinnati and New Haven are a good sign that she might not be ready to be relegated to a "legacy draw entry" during what's left of her career, after all. Meanwhile, 33-year old Peschke & 35-year old Raymond -- hmmm, I wonder if they swapped stories about Rennae Stubbs? -- teamed to win the New Haven doubles, tying the Doha-winning team of Peschke & Stubbs for the oldest combined age champions on tour this season (68 years).
FRESH FACES: Alize Cornet, FRA & Sorana Cirstea, ROU
...Cornet strained her quad in New Haven, but still managed to make her way through Vaidisova, Katarina Srebotnik and Daniela Hantuchova en route to the SF. Cirstea, another 18-year old, reached the QF after knocking off Alla Kudryavtseva and Flavia Pennetta, and reached the doubles final with fellow Romanian Swarmette Monica Niculescu.
DOWN: Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
...another week, another early loss. This time it was a 1st Round New Haven exit in straight sets against Cornet, who Vaidisova managed to take to three sets in Beijing a week ago before losing. As has become the pattern for Vaidisova in '08, she's finding new ways to regress.
ITF PLAYER: Romina Oprandi/ITA
...remember her? Two years ago, the Swiss-born Italian made a splash by reaching the Tier I Rome QF, holding a match point against Svetlana Kuznetsova before finally falling against the Russian. In September of that year, Oprandi reached a career-best ranking of #46. By the middle of '07, her results had fallen off a bit, then after pulling out of Wimbledon with a forearm injury she didn't play again for more than year, until earlier this month. She entered last week with just a 1-2 record and no ranking (needing three events over twelve months to get one). Well, her third event turned out to be a title-winning one in the $10K tournament in Wahlstedt, Germany. Now 22, Oprandi has 13 ITF titles in her career and might be joining the suddenly overflowing group of former WTA stars-or-would-be-ones making comebacks on the ITF circuit.
1. N.Haven Final - Wozniacki d. Chakvetadze
...3-6/6-4/6-1. Might C-Woz ride her momentum and good draw to a shockingly deep-into-the-second-week U.S. Open result?
2. F.Hills Final - Safarova d. Peng
...6-4/6-2. With a ranking of #82 heading into last week, Safarova became the first Czech woman to win a title on tour this season.
3. N.Haven Doubles 1st - Dekmeijere-Schnyder d. Black/Huber
...6-3/3-6/10-6. Not exactly great prep for Black & Huber's last attempt to claim a slam title in '08.
4. F.Hills 1st - Jackson d. Erakovic
...7-6/7-5. With Jackson's back-to-back surprising weeks, the USTA's decision to grant her a wild card entry into the U.S. Open looks to be a case of great timing. She'll face Alona Bondarenko in the 1st Round, so if the Ukrainian has "one of those days"... you never know.
HM- Moscow 4 Multisport $25K Final - Pervak d. Kulikova
...3-6/6-3/6-1. The 17-year old Hordette has put together back-to-back ITF title runs.
**YOUNGEST 2008 CHAMPIONS**
18y3w - Caroline Wozniacki (Stockholm)
18y1m2w - CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (NEW HAVEN)
18y5m3w - Alize Cornet (Budapest)
18y11m - Agnieszka Radwanska (Pattaya)
**2008 WINS OVER TOURNAMENT #1 SEEDS**
**MULTIPLE 3Q FINALS**
3...Dinara Safina (2-1)
2...CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (2-0)
2...Sara Errani (2-0)
**ALL-TIME WTA DOUBLES TITLES**
101...Billie Jean King
68...Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
**OLDEST 2008 DOUBLES CHAMPIONS**
36 - Rennae Stubbs (Doha)
35 - LISA RAYMOND (NEW HAVEN)
34 - Virginia Ruano-Pascual (Hobart)
34 - Virginia Ruano-Pascual (Roland Garros)
34 - Lisa Raymond (Memphis)
33 - KVETA PESCHKE (NEW HAVEN)
32 - Kveta Peschke (Doha)
**FOUR CAREER TITLES- ACTIVE**
(w/ most recent title)
Maria Kirilenko, RUS (2008 - 2)
Agnieszka Radwanska, POL (2008 - 3)
Lisa Raymond, USA (2003)
LUCIE SAFAROVA, CZE (2008 - 1)
Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (2005)
**CAREER WTA TITLES - CZECHS**
4+47...Martina Navratilova, 1974-81 #
27...Hana Mandlikova, 1978-87
24...Jana Novotna, 1988-99
10...Helena Sukova, 1982-92
10...Regina Mariskova, 1976-81
6...Nicole Vaidisova, 2004-06
4...LUCIE SAFAROVA, 2005-08
# - Navratilova won 4 from 1974-75 representing Czechoslovakia, prior to her Sept. '75 defection, then 47 from 1974-81 when she was essentially "stateless." While representing the USA, she won 116 from 1981-94 after becoming an American citizen in Sept. '81
All for now.
STARTING MONDAY: The Daily Backspin
UPCOMING: Backspin Time Capsule: 1991 U.S. Open