Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Miami Musings: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Jelena (and Dinara and Ana and...)

It hasn't quite been like Indian Wells, but Miami's first four rounds have been another case of many best laid plans going awry.

With the happenings in Miami moving along at a brisk pace (the QF are already set, with the semifinalists scheduled to be determined tomorrow), this is an ultra-abbreviated edition of Backspin. Of course, it's probably for the best, considering it's once again getting pretty lonely at the top in South Florida,

Another week, another string of high-seed upsets (some, like that of Vera Zvonareva, forgivable... others not so much), bring to mind so many thoughts that have been uttered, considered or assured in recent days, weeks and months that have turned out to not even be worth a fraction of the brain power it took to devise them in the first place. Such as...

-- how Jelena Jankovic was going to improve her stamina and become the #1 player she wanted to be, thanks to her offseason training in Mexico. Umm, check that. Another early round loss in Miami -- to Gisela Dulko in the 2nd -- just continued 2009's downtown. But Queen Chaos did get off a very Jankovician line the other day, saying, "For three months I haven't been doing very well at all, and I hope to begin my season sometime soon." Maybe there's a light at the end of the tunnel... April Fool's Day is almost here.

-- how, at least in Lindsay Davenport's perspective, Ana Ivanovic was going to get a big confidence boost from her run to the final in Indian Wells. Hmmm... after losing in the 3rd to Agnes Szavay in Miami, not exactly a picture of good on-court mental health herself over the last year, the facts say otherwise.

-- how Kim Clijsters was going to settle into marriage and motherhood and stay retired, while Justine Henin's competitive juices would more than likely mean she'd be the Waffle to return to the WTA. So far... nope. But give it a little time.

-- how Larry Scott was going to get to "redeem" himself in 2010 for his massive Dubai miscalculation, stand firm and put his foot down for the rights of all the women he's been representi- ...umm, scratch that.

-- and how Dinara Safina was ready to assume the mantle of a top-flight player and challenge for #1. Ugh, I guess that "a" at the end of her name fooled everyone, huh?

Oh, well. Since Miami has essentially been presenting all the tournament's participants with a "Williams Family Fun Pack" goody-bag for the better part of the last almost a dozen years, it might be smart for the field to simply step aside and let nature take it's course, anyway. Either Venus or Serena has won the Miami title in eight of the last eleven years, with Serena taking the title in 2007-08, and they seem on a collision course for a semifinal meeting once again this time around. I guess with the elbow room the Indian Wells boycott gives the field, the yin/yang principle says they all must be elbowed in the side soon afterward.

the 16-year old American won the $25K in Hammond, Louisiana to claim the biggest title yet in her career (she won two $10K events in '08). She defeated Sophie Ferguson in the final, 0-6/6-4/6-4, after having already secured earlier victories over the likes of Lindsay Lee-Waters, Jorgelina Cravero, Gabriela Paz and Renata Voracova.
JUNIOR STAR: Polina Leykina/RUS
Leykinva, 14, won the first G1 title of her career in the Mitsubishi Lancer International Junior Championships in Manila, Philippines. She upset #1-seed Timea Babos in the 1st Round, then eventually took out fellow Hordette Ekaterina Nikitina in the final.

1. Mia 2nd - V.Williams d. Peer
I wonder if Venus thought Shahar's play was "brave?"
2. Mia 2nd - Dulko d. Jankovic
She's still crazy, but she's doing something about it now.
3. Mia 3rd - Stosur d. Safina
Family bloodlines run deep.
4. Mia 3rd - Szavay d. Ivanovic
Well, at least Davenport was right about Clijsters coming back. By the way, she said she expects Henin to return, as well. As for Szavay, who also put together a win after being a set down to Francesca Schiavone, things have really started to look better for her lately.
5. Mia 3rd - Wozniacki d. Dokic
C-Woz wins the '09 rubber match in her series (so far) with Dokic.
6. Mia 2nd - Vaidisova d. A.Bondarenko
Whoa, Nicole. Whoa, Alona. Whoa, Vaidisova still ended up losing to Kuznetsova in her next match. So much for that.
7. Mia Q1 - Rezai d. Larcher de Brito
The Kid can at least take heart in the fact that Pavlyuchenkova was having a hard time of things on tour at this time last year.
8. Mia Q1 - Craybas d. Karatantcheva
In case you were wondering what she's been up to lately (insert own Sesil pregnancy joke here).
9. Mia 2nd - Azarenka d. Pavlyuchenkova
Coming "soon" to a big-time final near you?
10. Mia 4th - Wozniacki d. Dementieva
C-Woz is getting jealous of all of Azarenka's gains, maybe? Oh, and at least Dementieva managed to stick around for a few rounds this time out.

1998 Venus Williams d. Anna Kournikova
1999 Venus Williams d. Serena Williams
2000 Martina Hingis d. Lindsay Davenport
2001 Venus Williams d. Jennifer Capriati
2002 Serena Williams d. Jennifer Capriati
2003 Serena Williams d. Jennifer Capriati
2004 Serena Williams d. Elena Dementieva
2005 Kim Clijsters d. Maria Sharapova
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Maria Sharapova
2007 Serena Williams d. Justine Henin
2008 Serena Williams d. Jelena Jankovic

5 - SteffI Graf (1987-88, 1994-96)
5 - Serena Williams (2002-04, 07-08)

YOUNGEST CHAMP: Monica Seles (1990) - 16 years, 3 months
OLDEST CHAMP: Chris Evert (1986) - 31 years, 2 months
LOWEST-RANKED CHAMP: Kim Clijsters (2005) - #38

All for now. (1Q Awards & "Odds & Ends Between Miami & Paris" coming next week)


Blogger Diane said...

How things change. As far as I can see, right now, it's all about Serena, Venus, Vera, and Vika. And I imagine it will change again. However, all four of those players are good on clay--some more so than others--so JJ and Dinara and Ana have some catching up to do. I think the French Open is up for grabs.

And I miss Maria.

Wed Apr 01, 12:53:00 PM EDT  

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