Friday, April 10, 2009

WTA Backspin 1Q Awards

One quarter of the way into the 2009 season and rather than knowing more than we did three months ago, we know less than we'd ever have imagined we could.

Jelena Dokic returns, then disappears again. Dinara Safina's game loses its edge, but she's set to become #1 anyway. Jelena Jankovic tries to give her top ranking some added heft, but loses it as a result. One of the Waffles is waiting in the wings... but it's probably not the one most people thought it might be.

Have no fear, we still have another eight months to figure things out... hmm, or is it to become even more confused?

**1st Quarter Awards / Week 1-13*
1. Serena Williams, USA
...the computer won't say she's #1 come next week, but who really believes that nonsense anyway?
2. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
...the waiting game finally paid off. And the best may be yet to come in '09.
3. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
4. Elena Dementieva, RUS
...but did she go all out too early? Probably. But she might never have a better opportunity to get to #1 than she will before this season is over.
5. Venus Williams, USA
...speaking of a potential #1. Last year, Venus' season didn't really start until Wimbledon. This time around she's got two titles and is in the Top 5 before mid-April. Venus, by the way, has never finished a season at #1 and last held the top spot seven years ago..
6. Marion Bartoli, FRA
...quietly re-asserting herself.
7. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
...Dokic possibly aside, maybe the best comeback story of the season (and one with likely more staying power over the next eight months than the Aussie's).
8. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA happened a year ago, they've been toppled early in more tournaments over the season's opening stages than one would expect. But, by and large, they're still having the best year of any team so far (and Huber was a Fed Cup star, too).
9. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
...not that far behind Black/Huber, but can they do it on the bigger stages all season long? Black and Huber have, and surely will again.
10. Iveta Benesova/ CZE
...she's already achieved a personal-high ranking and is setting herself up for a career year at age 26.
HM- Petra Kvitova, Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, Williams/Williams, Dechy/Santangelo, Kuznetsova/Mauresmo.

"It's really emotional to win today. What I had to go through, it's really great to have this win. I don't think a lot of people know what it means to me. It's great to be here at a slam." - Jelena Dokic

1. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2. Marion Bartoli, FRA
3. Petra Kvitova, CZE
4. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
6. Zheng Jie, CHN
7. M.J. Martinez-Sanchez/N.Llagostera-Vives, ESP
8. Iveta Benesova, CZE
9. Samantha Stosur, AUS
10. Li Na, CHN
11. Shahar Peer, ISR
12. Hsieh S-W./Peng S., TPE/CHN
13. Kaia Kanepi, EST
14. Elena Vesnina, RUS
15. Gisela Dulko, ARG
16. Virginie Razzano, FRA
17. Agnes Szavay, HUN
18. Alize Cornet, FRA
19. Sara Errani, ITA
20. Anne Keothavong, GBR
HM- Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE & Agnieszka Radwanska/POL

1. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
3. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
4. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
5. Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
6. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
7. Melanie Oudin, USA
8. Urszula Radwanska, POL
9. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
10. Sabine Lisicki, GER
11. Gabriela Paz, VEN
12. Jessica Moore, AUS
13. Christina McHale, USA
14. Alexa Glatch, USA
15. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
16. Anastasia Pivovarova, RUS
17. Kristie Haerim Ahn, USA
18. Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN
19. Tatjana Malek, GER
20. Mathilde Johansson, FRA
HM- Julia Goerges, GER & Sharon Fichman, CAN

1. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
2. Chelsey Gullickson, USA (Univ. of Georgia)
3. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, THA
4. Laura Robson, GBR
5. Ana Bogdan, ROU
6. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
7. Elena Bogdan, ROU
8. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
9. Anna Orlik, BLR
10. Maryna Zanevska, UKR
HM- Camila Silva, CHI & Heather Watson, GBR

1. Jelena Dokic, AUS
2. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
3. Anne Keothavong, GBR
4. Julie Ditty, USA
5. Mervana Jugic-Salkic, BIH
6. Masa Zec-Peskiric, SLO
7. Patricia Mayr, AUT
8. Anastasiya Yakimova, BLR
9. Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
10. Elena Baltacha, GBR
HM- Galina Fokina, RUS & Galina Voskoboeva/KAZ

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Elena Dementieva, RUS
3. Venus Williams, USA
4. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
5. C.Black/L.Huber, ZIM/USA
6. M.J. Martinez/N.Llagostera-Vives, ESP
7. Iveta Benesova, CZE
8. S.Williams/V.Williams, USA
9. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
10. Jelena Dokic, AUS
HM- Samantha Stosur, AUS & Nathalie Dechy, FRA

1. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2. Jelena Dokic, AUS
3. Sania Mirza, IND
4. Li Na, CHN
5. Shahar Peer, ISR
6. Agnes Szavay, HUN
7. Michaella Krajicek, NED
8. Laura Granville, USA
9. Elena Bovina, RUS
10. Julia Vakuleno, UKR
HM- Angela Haynes, USA & Karolina Sprem, CRO

1. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2. Dinara Safina, RUS
3. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
4. French Fed Cup team
5. Maria Sharapova, RUS
6. Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
7. Patty Schnyder, SUI
8. Anna Chakvetadze, RUS
9. Maria Kirilenko, RUS
10. Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
HM- Meghann Shaughnessy, USA & Bondarenko/Bondarenko, UKR

1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2. Liezel Huber, USA
3. Petra Kvitova, CZE
4. Melanie Oudin, USA
5. A.Bondarenko/K.Bondarenko, UKR
HM- Julie Ditty, USA

1. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
2. Gabriela Paz, VEN
3. Darya Kustova, BLR
4. Katie O'Brien, GBR
5. Abigail Spears, USA
6. Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN
7. Violette Huck, FRA
8. Sarah Gronert, GER
9. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
10. Oksana Kalashnikova, GEO
HM- Chanelle Scheepers, RSA & Bianco Botto, PER

"You should never be surprised by anything that I do." - Serena Williams

Serena Williams wins the Australian Open, her tenth career slam singles title
Elena Dementieva opens her season by winning back-to-back titles in Auckland and Sydney
Jelena Dokic blooms once more, reaching the Oz quarterfinals in front of the Australian fans
Amelie Mauresmo defeats three Top 10 players in Paris, winning her first title since 2007 and returning to the Top 20
Venus Williams wins back-to-back titles on hard (Dubai) and clay (Acapulco) courts
Vera Zvonareva wins Indian Wells without dropping a set, then pairs it with the doubles crown, too
Victoria Azarenka wins Miami, knocking off then-#1 Serena one tournament after defeating soon-to-be #1 Safina in I.W., reaching the Top 10 for the first time
At the Australian Open, Carla Suarez-Navarro upsets Venus Williams and reaches her second slam QF in four tries
Liezel Huber leads Team USA to a come-from-behind win over Argentina in Fed Cup action, headlining the deciding doubles match with partner Julie Ditty
Flavia Pennetta and Team Italia obliterate France 5-0 in the 1st Round of Fed Cup action

[Singles/Most Emotional]
Australian Open 4th Rd. - Jelena Dokic def. Alisa Kleybanova
The Queen of the Melbourne Night's final gift to the tournament, a come-from-behind (she was down 3-1, love/30 on her own serve in the 3rd) win under the lights during the on-the-seventh-day-Laver-Arena-exploded spectacular, that solidified her out-of-nowhere-after-all-these-years run that became the tournament's best story.
Australian Open QF - Hantuchova/Sugiyama def. Black/Huber
Hantuchova/Sugiyama didn't win the title, but their 3:00 take down of a very game world's #1 doubles team was probably the best match in Melbourne that was almost ignored by the most people.
[Drama-101... but with no JJ in sight]
Australian Open 1st Round - Jessica Moore def. Christina McHale
What is it about players cramping during matches that is just SO dramatic? Well, whatever it is, it happened in this matchup of two wild cards. McHale seemed well on her way to victory in the 2nd set, then suddenly could barely make it around the court. She nearly pulled out the match anyway, serving for the whole ball of wax in the 3rd. But Aussie Moore eventually took control of things and put the American out of her misery.
[Most Overwhelmed by Outside Forces]
Dubai SF - Venus Williams def. Serena Williams
Little seen (Tennis Channel boycotted the event, even if the WTA didn't)... but it MUST have been a good one, right? I mean, how many times have the Sisters gone to a 3rd set tie-break?

"It was like an out-of-body experience." - Serena Williams, on the intense Melbourne heat during her Oz match vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

Australian Open 4th Rd - Dinara Safina def. Alize Cornet
Safina hasn't been the same since her Oz run to the final, but she WAS up to her old slam tricks in Melbourne. Cornet led 5-2 in the 3rd here and twice served for the match, holding two match points.
Australian Open QF - Serena Williams def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova served at 5-4 in the 2nd, but couldn't close out the match. The Laver roof WAS closed between the 2nd and 3rd sets, though... and Serena used the altered conditions to her advantage, running away with the match, acing the Russian on match point, and going on to take the title.
Sydney 1st Rd - Serena Williams def. Samantha Stosur
How close did Stosur come? Well, she twice double-faulted on match points.
Fed Cup (AUS/THA) - Samantha Stosur def. Tamarine Tanasugarn
From 2-5 down in the 2nd, Stosur roared back to wipe away at least a few of her own bad memories about matches she let slip away (Serena in Sydney, Dementieva in Melbourne and Vaidisova at Wimbledon).
Fed Cup (USA/ARG) - Melanie Oudin def. Betina Jozami
Needing to win to keep American hopes alive, the 17-year old Oudin found herself down 0-2 in the 3rd but slowly reeled Jozami back and sent the USA/ARG tie to the deciding doubles match.

"I love my job. I love hitting balls, running and jumping, chasing after the ball. I love what I do, so I think that's what keeps me motivated." - Venus Williams

=The Good=
U.S. Coach Mary Joe Fernandez picks Melanie Oudin for the roster in the USA/ARG tie, and replaces an injured Bethanie Mattek with doubles specialist Julie Ditty.
Jelena Dokic fully embraces Australia... and has her feelings reciprocated
Samantha Stosur decides to focus on her singles over her doubles play, and has already shown great progress
Svetlana Kuznetsova with Olga Morozova (to be continued)
Yanina Wickmayer gets coaching from Carlos Rodriguez (to be continued)
Serena funds a school in Kenya
Vera Zvonareva takes part in Diplomat School
Justin Henin and the aforementioned Rodriguez start up a tennis academy in Florida
Anne Keothavong becomes the first British woman in the Top 50 since 1993, and Laura Robson becomes the #1-ranked junior girl
Jarmila Gajdosova + ATP Player Sam Groth = Jarmila Groth (finally, the answer to those "who's that?" questions when the name "Groth" suddenly began to appear in WTA singles results a few weeks ago). They were married in February.
Jelena Jankovic comes up with a brilliant idea: air-conditioned shoes, perfect for those January trips Down Under

"The hunger is back." - Kim Clijsters, in March

=The Bad=
Yanina Wickmayer gets herself defaulted from a $50K challenger in Clearwater after she hits a ball that strikes a linesperson. A finalist in both singles and doubles, she forfeited her ranking points and prize money.
Jelena Jankovic, trying to become the best she could be, overtrains during the offseason in Mexico and loses the asset -- her court movement and quickness -- that got her to #1 in the first place
Svetlana Kuznetsova with Olga Morozova?

"I just thought, 'My eyes, my innocent eyes.'" - Serena Williams, on her thoughts when a streaker interrupted her match with Venus

=And the Ugly=
The WTA allows itself to get suckered by the Dubai tournament when a visa was denied to Israel's Shahar Peer at such a late date that it would have been a "nightmare" for the tour to cancel the tournament. After paying lip service in "support" of Peer, the players don't back a boycott, siding with "the sponsors" over a fellow player. Dubai is fined a "record" amount ($300K) and put on notice for 2010. A few weeks later, tour chief Larry Scott resigns to take over the reigns of the Pac-10 athletic conference, unsuring that next year he won't have to deal with the "year-after" fallout of the controversy over which he presided.
Mashona Washington is arrested for vandalism in California, and charged with causing $5,000 damage to a hotel room.

"I'm eating too many chocolates out of depression from not being allowed to play." - Shikha Uberoi, on the new rules that prohibit U.S. citizen-playing-under-India's-flag Uberoi from participating in India's Fed Cup ties

Australian Open 2nd Rd - Carla Suarez-Navarro def. Venus Williams
Venus led 4-1 in the 3rd, served for the match at 5-3 and held a match point at 5-4. CSN's win ends the Sisters' combined 25-match winning streak vs. the field at slams dating back to last year's Wimbledon.
Australian Open 3rd Rd - Alisa Kleybanova def. Ana Ivanovic
AnaIvo's slam results since winning Roland Garros? How about, "3rd-2nd-3rd" (after previously having five straight 4th-Round-or-better results).
Indian Wells 2nd Rd - Urszula Radwanska def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
U-Rad makes her big move (and was it the proverbial straw that broke the back of the Contessova/Morozova relationship?).
Indian Wells 2nd Rd - Petra Cetkovska def. Elena Dementieva
Elena might still be carrying on a conversation with herself about how she shouldn't even have been playing in this tournament (or at least that might explain her performance in Miami the next time out... I mean, other than that she played far too much in the season's first two months and is now paying for it, that is).
Indian Wells 2nd Rd - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Jelena Jankovic
Soon, everyone will HAVE to learn how to say her name with flair. Altogether now...

"For three months I haven't been doing very well at all, and I hope to begin my season sometime soon." - Jelena Jankovic, in March

The Dastardly Depressing Dubai Debacle
Dokic Comes Home
Waiting for the Supernova... still
Serena is #1 again... but not for long... though she'll probably be #1 again soon
The (Temporary) Falls of the Houses of Jankovic, Safina and Ivanovic
World... meet Victoria Azarenka
Lindsay Davenport is pregnant, Ashley Harkleroad is a new mother... and Kim Clijsters is set to become a working mom
Sarah Gronert battles (and seemingly wins) a gender controversy (Julia Glushko's coach declares that the German shouldn't be allowed to compete on the women's tour), winning two ITF singles titles so far in 2009

"The more you know, the worse you sleep." - Dinara Safina

Finally, a sentiment we can all get behind, from the soon-to-be-newly-crowned #1. On that note...

All for now.


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