Monday, November 03, 2008

Wk.44- Nadia's Canadian Keepsake

2008 has been an "interesting" year for Nadia Petrova.

For quite a while, it was very much a struggle. She was down and seemingly questioning her confidence and motivation to last much longer in the game. But somewhere along the way, she FOUND her way.

The second half of this season, while not quite a renaissance for the one-time #3-ranked player, has been something akin to a tale of rediscovery for her. A coaching change eventually led to better results, which allowed her to win a pre-U.S. Open title in Cincinnati this summer.

While her consistency was much improved, it still took her until this weekend in Quebec City to finally grab a second title on the season. Her come-from-behind win over Bethanie Mattek in the final doubles her title total from a season ago and solidifies her #11 ranking not that long after she'd dropped out of the Top 20.

Just looking at her ranking and titles as her '08 comes to a close, without any knowledge of the tribulations that she found her way past to get to her current position, it would appear that the past season had been a "routine" one where a veteran player did what she's "always" done.

Numbers sometimes lie (except in elections... but there was that Bush vs. Gore thing). But Nadia knows the truth. As is often the case, no matter the accomplishment, it's all about the struggle to get there.

Or, in this case, get BACK there... almost.

Quebec City might not be the biggest title she's ever won, or will one day win in the future. But it's a keepsake, for sure. One that's a nice prize that also serves as a reminder that hard work and never giving up can lead any player through the fog and back into the light.

It's nice to have Nadia back.


S: Nadia Petrova def. Bethanie Mattek 4-6/6-4/6-1
D: Groenefeld/King d. Craybas/Tanasugarn

Quebec City wins over Varvara Lepchenko, Melinda Czink, Angela Haynes and Bethanie Mattek finally made that third straight prediction of a well-earned Nadia title a charm. In her fourth singles final of the season, she evened her record at 2-2 and tied fellow Hordettes Safina and Kuznetsova with nine career titles.
RISERS: Bethanie Mattek/USA & Anna-Lena Groenefeld/GER

she's been out of the limelight in recent weeks (months, really), but Mattek's career-best season finally came to a fine zenith with her first-ever WTA singles final in Quebec. Knocking off two Canadians (Fichman and Wozniak) and a fellow American (Oudin), she ends her WTA year on a high note that will keep her hopes for a first title alive in '09. Meanwhile, ALG continued her October penchant for fairing a bit badly in singles (losing in the 1st Rd.), but DID maintain her 4Q ability to put up great doubles results, winning her second title of the quarter by taking the Quebec City championship with Vania King.
SURPRISES: Angela Haynes/USA & Rebecca Marino/CAN
who knew? Surely not Haynes, who could never have dreamed she'd exit the Quebec City qualifying with a loss... then enter the main draw as a lucky loser and go on to reach the first tour SF of her career. The world #189 notched wins over Stephanie Dubois, Severine Bremond and Nathalie Dechy before losing to Petrova in one of the oddest week of results we're likely to see anytime soon. Meanwhile, 17-year old Canadian Marino managed to make it through qualifying (where she'd been given a wild card as the #471-ranked player on the computer), and defeat Jill Craybas in the 1st Round.
VETERAN: Nathalie Dechy/FRA
Dechy's biggest moment in '08 was probably her role in a match she LOST -- the "Kiss of Life" contest against AnaIvo at Wimbledon -- but she did manage to have a nice week in her final WTA appearance of the season in Quebec. There, she defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Olga Govortsova to reach only her second QF (RU in Cincinnati to Petrova) of the season.
FRESH FACES: Aleksandra Wozniak/CAN & Melanie Oudin/USA
Wozniak hasn't followed up her Stanford win with a second title, but her third SF-or-better result of '08 in Quebec City is enough to prove that week in California wasn't a total fluke. Ending her WTA campaign back home, she got wins over Edina Gallovits, Carly Gullickson and Galina Voskoboeva en route to that SF. Meanwhile 17-year old Melanie Oudin, one of the band of young American sisters making an impression in the season's closing months, reached her first tour QF in Quebec with victories over Sybille Bammer and Olga Puchkova. On Monday, she broke into the Top 200.
DOWN: Stephanie Dubois/CAN
while A-Woz had a good week back home in Quebec, Dubois did not. She lost in the 1st Round, falling to lucky loser/eventual semifinalist Angela Haynes. Well, at least something good came out of Dubois' loss... even if she didn't get to experience it.
ITF PLAYER: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
look out, here she comes... even faster than a week ago. The Next One won a(nother) $100K in Bratislava with an impressive string of victories over Lucie Safarova, Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova, Monica Niculescu and Michaella Krajicek in the final. Her second of back-to-back $100K triumphs gives her four ITF titles in '08, tying her with Elena Kulikova for the most by any Hordette (which is very important, of course), and just one off the year's tour-leading total (with several weeks of circuit action still remaining). Again, it bears repeating, just how high can she climb in '09?

1. Que F - Petrova d. Mattek
Nice to have Bethanie's name back in the conversation.
2. Que QF - Haynes d. Dechy
Angela probably wishes someone had told her about this "secret path" to a tour SF years ago.
3. Que SF - Petrova d. Haynes

Hard to believe Haynes will feel TOO bad about dropping this match. At least not in retrospect.
4. Que SF - Mattek d. Wozniak
Hmmm, at the beginning of the season did anyone think this matchup might be looked at as a meeting between the two best players from North American tennis' "lost twentysomething generation," who might also be the two most improved players on tour in 2008?
5. Que Q3 - Maria Mokh d. Haynes
17-year old Russian Mokh also defeated Mara Santangelo, as the "who's-that?" nature of the Quebec results kicked off. By the way, Mokh celebrates her 18th on Tuesday.
6. Bratislava $100K Final - Pavlyuchenkova d, Krajicek
Krajicek has had a pretty miserable season, but she had a good week in Bratislava. She defeated Mariana Duque-Marino, Sesil Karatantcheva, Ekaterina Bychkova and Gisela Dulko in order to get the right to face the Russian.
7. Vila Real De Santo $10K Final - Nadia Lalami d. Lamia Essaadi
Okay, this one's a week old -- but who knew that this matchup was the first all-Moroccan final in ITF history? 18-year old Lalami claimed her first title, becoming the fourth Moroccan woman to ever win an ITF title. Three of them, including 29-year old Essaadi, did so in 2008. Lalami won the doubles with Fed Cup doubles partner Fatina El Allami, so it can be said that no matter what happens the Moroccan tennis establishment will always have Portugal.
8. Nantes $50K Final - Vesna Manasieva d. Stephanie Voegele
Or is it "Vogele?" I've seen it both ways. Oh, well, The focus here is another of the Russians winning another title, as 19-year old Manasieva also knocked off Kirsten Flipkens, Angelique Kerber and Julia Goerges.
9. Tokyo $50K Final - Ayumi Morita d. Jarmila Gajdosova
The Japanese youngster also knocked off countrywomen Kimiko Date-Krumm and Riki Fujiwara (who teamed to win the doubles).
10. Paris 1st Rd - Juan Monaco d. Marat Safin
Yeah, I know this is an ATP match. But after Marat talked about possibly retiring after this loss, one wonders if Dinara should call her coach to get him to talk her brother off the proverbial ledge. He seems to have a knack for such things. The coach, I mean. Well, I guess that line applies to Marat, too.

4...Dinara Safina
3...Elena Dementieva
3...Maria Sharapova
3...Maria Kirilenko
2...Vera Zvonareva
1...Anna Chakvetadze

19...Maria Sharapova (2003-08)
11...Elena Dementieva (2003-08)
10...Anastasia Myskina (1999-05)
9...Dinara Safina (2002-08)
9...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2002-08)
9...NADIA PETROVA (2005-08)
9...Olga Morozova (1969-75)
7...Anna Chakvetadze (2006-08)
7...Vera Zvonareva (2003-08)

8...Martina Navratilova
5...Steffi Graf
4...Chris Evert
3...Monica Seles
2008 PARTICIPANTS: Serena Williams (1)

**OCTOBER AWARDS - Week 41-44**

1. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
3. Nadia Petrova, RUS
4. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
5. Venus Williams, USA
HM- Elena Dementieva, RUS

1. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
3. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER (doubles)
HM- Bethanie Mattek, USA

1. Angela Haynes, USA
2. A-L. Groenefeld/P.Schnyder, GER/SUI
3. Lindsey Hardenbergh, USA (ITF)
HM- Jacqueline Caku, USA (ITF)

1. Nadia Petrova, RUS
2. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
3. Venus Williams, USA
HM- Elena Dementieva, RUS & K.Srebotnik/A.Sugiyama, SLO/JPN

1. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
3. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
HM- Melanie Oudin, USA

1. Agnes Szavay, HUN
2. Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
3. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
HM- Anna Chakvetadze, RUS

Flavia Pennetta, ITA

Ana Bogdan, ROU

1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
2. Alexa Glatch, USA
3. Irina-Camilia Begu, ROU
4. Jarmila Gajdosova, SVK
5. Mara Santangelo, ITA

Zurich 1st Rd - Alona Bondarenko defeats Alize Cornet after saving five match points

Jelena Jankovic wins her third tournament in three weeks by claiming the title in Moscow, securing the year-end #1 ranking

DOHA, QATAR (SEC-Hard Outdoor)
07 Madrid SEC FINAL (s): Henin d. Sharapova
07 Madrid SEC FINAL (d): Black/Huber d. Srebotnik/Sugiyama
08 TOP: (s)Jankovic, (d)Black/Huber

1. Jankovic (3-0)
2. Ivanovic (2-1)
3. Kuznetsova (1-2)
4. Zvonareva (0-3)

1. Dementieva (2-1)
2. V.Williams (2-1)
3. S.Williams (1-2)
4. Safina (1-2)

Jankovic d. V.Williams
Dementieva d. Ivanovic

Jankovic d. Dementieva

...why not? Serena, nursing an ankle, is such a wild card here.

Cara Black/Liezel Huber

...Ms. Backspin X 2?

Safina d. Jankovic
V.Williams d. Ivanovic
Safina d. V.Williams

All for now.

...Revolving Doors - WTA '09 Guide Preview
...Intriguing Answers, Pt.1
...Intriguing Answers, Pt.2
...The Best of Jankovic 2008
...Regional Honors
...Backspin Awards
...Ms. Backspin (next week)
...WTA Yearbook (coming soon)


Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hmmm... cast my vote in the presidential (and others) election today in the cafeteria of an elementary school. On a poster on the wall directly above me? Andy Roddick in a "Got Milk?" ad.

Not sure if that means anything or not. ;)

Tue Nov 04, 10:03:00 AM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

when was the last time a female player beat the top 4 women in the world in the same tournament?

congrats to venus!!

Sun Nov 09, 12:22:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Technically, since Dementieva was #5 going into the tournament (and ended up #4 only after it was over), Venus didn't QUITE get the 1-2-3-4 sweep by the rules of the WTA record book. But it was still one of the best performances by any player all year. :)

Balancing things out, of course, was Kuznetsova with one of the worst. She's now lost eight straight SEC matches over three seasons.

Mon Nov 10, 04:17:00 PM EST  
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