Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wk.34- Bare Bones Backspin: Wozniacki & Pototoes Edition

The Open is nearly here, so it's time to go bare here at Backspin. Bare Bones, that is.


Two-time New Haven champ Caroline Wozniacki lists "steak and potatoes" as her favorite food. Not long ago, she was asked a question about the notion that the toughest element for European players to adjust to when playing in the United States is the difference in the food. When asked what the toughest American food issue to deal with was for her, C-Woz said, "The big portions. I start eating more and that's not good."

Then, she was asked what her favorite difference was, she laughed and said, "Umm, the big portions."

There, consider that a case of putting a little meat on the bones of the pre-U.S. Open Bare Bones Backspin.


NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT USA (Premier $600K/hard outdoor)
S: Caroline Wozniacki def. Elena Vesnina 6-2/6-4
D: Llagostera-Vives/Martinez-Sanchez d. Benesova/Hradecka

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
if only C-Woz could play in New Haven every week. Well, maybe she can buy a summer homer there after she retires, which will hopefully be a long time from now. In defending her '08 title without dropping a set all week (indoors or out), she won career title #6 and moved into a tour-leading tie for first with three this season alone.
RISERS: Elena Vesnina/RUS & Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
Vesnina, quietly moving up the "drama scale" all season with her big wins and entertaining/self-critical on-court reactions when she loses, reached her second final of the season in New Haven. Wins over Gisela Dulko, Sam Stosur, Anna Chakvetadze and Amelie Mauresmo put her squarely in the discussion of the best players on tour without a WTA singles title (along with Stosur, Dominika Cibulkova and a few others). With a second hard court title in as many weeks, the team of Llagostera-Vives & Martinez-Sanchez are hot on the heels of Black/Huber heading into NYC. This was the team's sixth title of the season, more than any other duo in '09.
SURPRISE: Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
Chakvetadze was the runner-up in New Haven a season ago, and she held up pretty well this year, too, getting wins over Nadia Petrova and Sybille Bammer before losing a good three-setter against Vesnina in the QF. The past twenty or so months haven't been kind to the Russian Doll, but at least she has New Haven. Maybe she'll buy a place across the street from Wozniacki some day.
VETERANS: Flavia Pennetta/ITA & Amelie Mauresmo/FRA
Pennetta gave it a good run in an attempt to win the U.S. Open Series outright. She needed to win the New Haven title, but fell short with a SF result. She still finished tied for second with Jelena Jankovic, behind Elena Dementieva, in the Series and heads to Flushing Meadows feeling pretty good about her current form. Of course, with her history of sometimes-perplexing results, I'm not sure if that'll mean anything next week. Meanwhile, Mauresmo arrived on the scene and had to surprise pretty much everyone with the her result: a SF and wins over Ai Sugiyama, Alona Bondarenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Go figure.
FRESH FACE: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
the Slovak qualified in New Haven, then got a win over Francesca Schiavone, as well as a mid-match retirement from Marion Bartoli, to reach the QF.
DOWN: Marion Bartoli/FRA
speaking of which. Wow, Stanford seems likes ages ago, doesn't it? Obviously, La Trufflette was NOT meant to lead the tour into NYC, after all.
ITF PLAYER: Tatjana Malek/GER
the German won the $100K challenger in the Bronx, getting wins over Alina Jidkova, Yuan Meng, Masa Zec-Peskiric, Julia Goerges and Kristina Barrois in the final.
JUNIOR STAR: Chanel Simmonds/RSA
the 17-year old South African, #18 in the junior rankings and #922 on the WTA computer, has played well enough in the Arezzo $10K ITF event to reach this weekend's final against Giulia Gatto-Monticone.

1. NH Final - Wozniacki d. Vesnina
Wozniacki is now the only player this season to win titles on three different surfaces -- green clay, grass and hard court.
2t. NH SF - Wozniacki d. Pennetta
NH SF - Vesnina d. Mauresmo
If you saw the "highlights" of these matches, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were glorified practice sessions. That IS what they looked like. With the rains not going away, New Haven tournament head honchos decided to play the semifinals at the Yale indoor facility on Friday evening. With no fans and few cameras, it brought to mind that proverbial question about whether or not trees falling in the woods make a sound if there's no one around to here them. You know, except in this case it's all about rackets whacking tennis balls. As we all have always known, the trees DO make a sound... and even without a crowd to attest to what happenend, these semifinals DID indeed count.

**2009 WTA TITLES**
3...Dinara Safina, RUS
3...Elena Dementieva, RUS
3...Victoria Azarenka, BLR

**2009 WTA FINALS**
8...Dinara Safina (3-5)
4...Elena Dementieva (3-1)
4...Venus Williams (2-2)

10...Dinara Safina (8-2)
10...Elena Dementieva (3-6 +W)
7...Serena Williams (3-3 +L)

Tamarine Tanasugarn - 's-Hertogenbosh 2008-09

[last title]
Meghann Shaughnessy, USA [2007]
Ai Sugiyama, JPN [2004]
Nicole Vaidisova, CZE [2006]

1. Elena Dementieva, RUS
2. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
3. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
4. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

RISERS: Elena Vesnina, RUS & Samantha Stosur/AUS
SURPRISES: Vania King/USA & Heidi El Tabakh/CAN
FRESH FACES: Alisa Kleybanova/RUS & Sorana Cirstea/ROU
DOWN: Venus Williams/USA & Dinara Safina/RUS
COMEBACKS: Kim Clijsters/BEL & Maria Sharapova/RUS
JUNIORS: Ksenia Pervak/RUS & Richel Hogenkamp/NED

1. Llagostera-Vives/Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
2. Black/Huber, ZIM/USA
3. Stosur/Stubbs, AUS

1. Lucie Kriegsmannova, CZE
2. Yvonne Meusburger, AUT
3. Ani Mijacika, CRO
HM- Sun Sheng-Nan, CHN

TOP PERFORMANCE: Elena Dementieva wins Toronto, defeating Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova along the way toward securing the U.S. Open Series title

"I'm back." - Jelena Jankovic
"It's my brain." - Dinara Safina

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

I remember, several years ago, some non-U.S. players were asked to say the first thing that came to their mind when they heard the phrases "USA" or "United States." Nadia Petrova said "big portions."

Apparently, we have made an impression.

Sun Aug 30, 10:25:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

USA = Cowboys, country, bull. Alright..

Hey Todd, I find this interesitng, what do you tink of this?

It's about Ana Ivanovic. Well, I think 'she' will be back one day, but not now.

Sun Aug 30, 11:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Diane: Well, at least there's that. Hmmm, maybe there's a clue in there somewhere about why the U.S. doesn't seem to be able to produce the type of tennis talent it did in the past, too. I'm just sayin'. :)

xyz: Nice article. Thanks. You know, you just never know with young players. It wasn't that long ago that Hantuchova was a Top 5 player and being talked about as a future #1 (it's why I sarcastically, at the time, dubbed her "Wonder Girl"... because people were acting like she was the greatest thing to come along in a century), but it never happened. She wasn't ready, things came too fast and she ended up having to fight like hell just to avoid becoming irrelevant.

In many ways, it was the same with AnaIvo. She was a fine, developing top player. Then Henin retired, and everything got plopped down in her lap and on her head when she turned out to be the one "lucky" enough to survive and win Roland Garros. I think it said a great deal that, before her SF there against Jankovic in which the winner would rise to #1, that the people around Ivanovic made sure that she didn't know what was at stake in that match (even though JJ, the fans and commentators all knew the situation). They knew she was talented enough to accomplish it, but probably wasn't mentally ready for it all just yet. As it's turned out, that WAS the case.

One would think that the odds are with her, considering her talent and youth. But, then again, who would've guessed that the likes of Hantuchova (and, now, maybe Vaidisova) would turn out to be so much less than what seemed to be possible when she was first bursting onto the scene. If Ivanovic had been able to take things at her own speed, maybe she'd transitioned better. But the shock to her system that happened because of Henin's sudden retirement may have done enough "psychological" damage that she might never get back to where she was. Maybe a small part of her, even if she doesn't fully realize it, doesn't want to re-live that pressure -- it might explain the too-quick-on-the-trigger coaching change. (Ha, just call me "Armchair.")

So, if it doesn't work out for Ana, I guess Justine is to blame. :D

Sun Aug 30, 04:25:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Todd. You should be on ESPN :]

She almost achieved a great escape, that forehand showed no mercy.

I never thought Hantuchova could be the greatest thing, she looked like a player who didn't have a will to be the greatest and I'm right!

Looks like the match between Dementieva and Sharapova is set.

Wed Sep 02, 01:52:00 AM EDT  

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