Monday, March 09, 2009

Wk.9- .now for All (The 5th Annual Backwards Backspin)

[Helpful Hint: It might be easier to read this week's edition of Backspin from the bottom up]

All for now.

The draw comes out later this week, so I'll make picks then...

09 TOP SEEDS: Safina/Jankovic
08 FINAL: Ivanovic def. Kuznetsova
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA USA (Premiere $4.5m-Hard Outdoor)

2...Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN
2...Abigail Spears, USA
2...Gabriela Paz, VEN
2...Lucie Hradecka, CZE
2...Sarah Gronert, GER

2...Llagostera-Vives/Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
2...Black/Huber, ZIM/USA

16 months - LIEZEL HUBER (Nov. 12, 2007-CURRENT)
16 months - Virginia Ruano-Pascual (July 26, 2004 - Oct. 17, 2005)
17 months - Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (Nov. 13, 1995 - April 6, 1997)
20 months - CARA BLACK (July 9, 2007 - CURRENT)
41 months - Martina Navratilova (Aug. 18, 1986 - Feb. 4, 1990)

2...United States (S.Williams/V.Williams)
2...Russia (Dementieva/Zvonareva)
2...FRANCE (BARTOLI/Mauresmo)

4...Serena Williams (1-2 +L)
4...Elena Dementieva (2-1 +W)
**2009 WTA SF**

2...Dinara Safina (0-2)
2...Venus Williams (2-0)
2...Victoria Azarenka (2-0)
3...Elena Dementieva (2-1)
**2009 WTA FINALS**

Well, on the bright side, at least Urszula seems to be making progress this season. .7-6/4-6/6-0...
Li d. A.Radwanska - 1st Mont -HM

ALG seems to be sputtering a bit. She had a big lead in the 3rd in this one. .6-2/2-6/7-6...
Strycova d. Groenefeld - 1st Mont .5

Based on their talent, both of these players probably should have won more singles titles than they have to this point. .6-4/6-3...
Bartoli d. Li - Final Mont .4

Sure, Szavay eventually lost in three sets to Vania King in the 2nd Round, but it's just nice to see her have a 1st Round victory over a legit opponent in a rather, dare I say, "routine" match. It's been awhile. .6-2/6-2...
Szavay d. Parmentier - 1st Mont .3

Peer lost in the 1st Round in doubles, too. But she gets a pass for a little while. Hopefully, her results won't now take a Mirza-in-2008 type of turn the rest of the way. .6-4/6-2...
Benesova d. Peer - 1st Mont .2

Serena said she wants to play at MSG again next year, too... though she might want to consult BJK & Co. about them announcing the $50,000 being given to charity AFTER telling the crowd that Williams herself jus received $400,000 for winning the event. (Talk about an inadvertent eye-rolling moment.) .6-4/6-3...
S.Williams d. V.Williams - Final MSG .1

Lertcheewakarn, the #1-ranked junior in the world, got a spot in the draw in the $25K in Sydney and knocked off #1-seed Kumiko Iijima in straight sets in the 1st Round...
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA :JUNIOR STAR
Paz, 17, claimed her second ITF title of the season in the $25K in Fort Walton Beach. Wins over Aiko Nakamura, Abigail Spears and Ekaterina Dzehalevich, 1-6/6-4/7-5 in the final, did the trick...
Gabriela Paz/VEN :ITF PLAYER
While Agnes Szavay seems to have tentatively begun to turn things around, the same can't be said for Paszek. Her qualifying loss last week in Monterrey to Betina Jozami continued a recent trend that has her match record below-.500 for the 2009 season. A-Rad is still in the Top 10, but not for long. In Monterrey, losing in the 1st Round to Li isn't something to feel TOO bad about, but going down in a love set in the 3rd might be. She's now 4-5 on the season in WTA matches...
Tamira Paszek/AUT & Agnieszka Radwanska/POL :DOWN
Neither Li nor Zheng won titles this weekend, but 18-year old Zhou did in the $25K challenger in Sydney. It's her second ITF title of the season. Of note, Zhou wasn't the only Chinese title-winner this weekend, as Zhang Shuai won the $10K in Lyon, France, as well...
They held an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, and wouldn't you know it that Serena hogged the spotlight. In taking the Billie Jean Cup, Serena took out Ana Ivanovic in the one-set SF and then a probably-tired Venus in the best-of-three final 6-4/6-3. In Monterrey, Benesova reached her second of back-to-back SF with wins over Shahar Peer, Roberta Vinci and Strycova (with whom she teamed to reach the doubles final). It's the Czech's third SF of the year, behind only Serena and Elena Dementieva...
Serena Williams/USA & Iveta Benesova/CZE :VETERANS
A few years ago, Vania King became the first American teen to win a tour singles crown since Serena did so back in 1999. While King hasn't completely dropped off the WTA map, having some modest doubles success and a few appearances in Fed Cup action, she hasn't exactly progressed to another level since her big moment. She had a nice week in Monterrey, though, qualifying and knocking off Klara Zakopalova and Agnes Szavay to reach the QF (as well as the doubles SF w/ Zheng). Zahlavova-Strycova continued her upward mobility, getting some nice wins over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Flavia Pennetta in Mexico, as well as being the doubles RU with Iveta Benesova...
Vania King/USA & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE :SURPRISES
For a brief moment, it looked like we might see an all-Cookie final in Monterrey, but it turned out that only Li held up her end of the improbable deal. Still, the finally healthy (abeit probably only temporarily) Li reached her first tour singles final since she won Gold Coast in Week 1 of '08. She notched victories over Petra Cetkovska, Lucie Safarova and Iveta Benesova. Meanwhile, Zheng's post-Wimbledon SF '08 climb continues as the now world-#17 defeated the likes of Urszula Radwanska, Melinda Czink and Gisela Dulko en route to the SF. She also reached the doubles SF with Vania King...
Li Na/CHN & Zheng Jie/CHN :RISERS
One might have been hard-pressed to pull the fact out of the thin air going into Monterrey, but Bartoli's title this weekend was her first tour singles title since she made that surprise run to the Wimbledon final back in 2007. Actually, her fourth career title comes two and a half years since her third, in Quebec City in 2006. Along the way, she took out the two-headed Chinese monster of Zheng Jie and Li Na in the SF and Final, respectively...

Serena Williams def. Venus Williams 6-4/6-3
BILLIE JEAN KING CUP (Exhibition - Madison Square Garden, NYC)

D: Dechy/Santangelo d. Benesova/Zahalvova-Strycova
S: Marion Bartoli def. Li Na 6-4/6-3

MONTERREY, MEXICO (Int'l $220K-Red Clay)


ANSWER: True. Color me guilty. One of the side benefits of the "Backwards Backspin" is that it's something of a time-saver, as well. Yep, a time-saving, space-saving gimmick... that some might argue takes more "effort" to put together than a normal edition of Backspin. But, of course, I try not to think about that.

Oh, and my apologies to Marion. Maybe next time?

QUESTION: Still, you don't seem to be giving Marion a full opening segment of the column like you normally would. I repeat, why not? You could still talk more about her in this spot.

ANSWER: Good point, nameless Backspin reader most definitely not also named Todd. Of course, I have nothing against La Trufflette. This gimmick edition of Backspin, as you so rightly dubbed it, was scheduled before Bartoli won in Monterrey. It would have taken a monumentally odd/brilliant/mesmerizing/worrisome result at the tournament to scuttle plans for this fifth annual attempt to bridge the gap between Mondays during one of the tour's slow, "dead zone" periods, which usually come in late February/early March, then again in April (look out, here comes another edition of "Scrambled Backspin,' with or without eggs and/or bacon in a few weeks).

QUESTION: So, Todd, why are you once again using the gimmicky "Backwards Backspin" trick? It seems as if you're not giving this week's one tour singles champion -- Marion Bartoli -- equal credit compared to the "Players of the Week" the rest of the season.

Wk.9- .now for All (The 5th Annual Backwards Backspin)


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