Friday, November 13, 2009

2009 WTA BSA's



Lists have always been a stock and trade component of WTA Backspin, and that's never more the case than with the annual Backspin Awards.

The final "Ms. Backspin" standings won't show up in this space for a day or two, but don't expect me to suspend myself for a year for such an instance of "unknown whereabouts." I know just where they are! As for what those pesky Belgians might do to me? Well, hopefully, they'll take into account my history with Justine rather than my off-and-on antagonism toward Kim when it comes to passing judgment... and, please, no one mention that I predicted Yanina to reach a slam SF a few months before she actually did it.

Anyway, here are 2009's "secondary" player and match lists (hopefully it'll tide the anti-doping zealouts over for a few days):

*RISERS*
1. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
3. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
4. Samantha Stosur, AUS
5. Aravane Rezai, FRA
6. Marion Bartoli, FRA
7. Shahar Peer, ISR
8. Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
9. Elena Vesnina, RUS
10. Li Na, CHN
11. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
12. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
13. Vera Dushevina, RUS
14. Zheng Jie, CHN
15. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
16. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
17. Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
18. Virginie Razzano, FRA
19. Gisela Dulko, ARG
20. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
21. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
22. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
23. Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS
24. Agnes Szavay, HUN
25. Lucie Safarova, CZE
HM- Jarmila Groth, AUS & Ioana-Raluca Olaru, ROU

*FRESH FACES*
1. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2. Melanie Oudin, USA
3. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
4. Sabine Lisicki, GER
5. Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
6. Petra Kvitova, CZE
7. Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
8. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
9. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
10. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
11. Urszula Radwanska, POL
12. Alexa Glatch, USA
13. Chang Kai-Chen, TPE
14. Stefanie Voegele, SUI
15. Petra Martic, CRO
16. Julia Goerges, GER
17. Viktoriya Kutuzova, UKR
18. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
19. Tatjana Malek, GER
20. Ayumi Morita, JPN
21. Laura Robson, GBR
22. Polona Hercog, SLO
23. Arantxa Rus, NED
24. Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
25. Mallory Cecil, USA
HM- Mathilde Johansson, FRA & Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS

*UP-AND-COMERS*
1. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
2. Noppawan Lertcheewakern, THA
3. Sloane Stephens, USA
4. Heather Watson, GBR
5. Madison Keys, USA
6. Richel Hogenkamp, NED
7. Ksenia Lykina, RUS
8. Daria Gavrilova, RUS
9. Zarina Diyas, KAZ
10. Gabriela Paz, VEN
11. Camila Silva, CHI
12. Yulia Putintseva, RUS
13. Irina Falconi, USA
14. Chelsey Gullickson, USA
15. Beatrice Capra, USA
16. Miyabi Inoue, JPN
17. Jessica Moore, AUS
18. Olivia Rogowska, AUS
19. Yana Buchina, RUS
20. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
21. Silvia Njiric, CRO
22. Zsofia Susanyi, HUN
23. Christina McHale, USA
24. Ester Goldfeld, USA
25. Maryna Zavenska, UKR
HM- Kurumi Nara, JPN & Anna Orlik, BLR

*SURPRISES*
1. American Fed Cup Team
2. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
3. Vania King, USA
4. Olga Govortsova, BLR
5. Andrea Petkovic, GER
6. Melinda Czink, HUN
7. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
8. Carly Gullickson, USA
9. Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears, USA
10. Zhang Shuai, CHN
11. Klaudia Jans/Alicja Rosolska, POL
12. Mariya Koryttseva, UKR
13. Lenka Wienerova, SVK
14. Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
15. Galina Voskoboeva, KAZ
16. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
17. Alberta Brianti, ITA
18. Anastasiya Yakimova, BLR
19. Vesna Manasieva, RUS
20. Liga Dekmeijere, LAT
HM- Patricia Mayr, AUT & Ekaterina Dzehalevich, BLR

*VETERANS*
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
3. Kim Clijsters, BEL
4. Elena Dementieva, RUS
5. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
6. Venus Williams, USA
7. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
8. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
9. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
10. Nadia Petrova, RUS
11. Virginie Razzano, FRA
12. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
13. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
14. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
15. Jelena Dokic, AUS
16. Rennae Stubbs, AUS
17. Virginia Ruano Pascual/Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
18. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Nadia Petrova, USA/RUS
19. Roberta Vinci, ITA
20. Ai Sugiyama, JPN
21. Sybille Bammer, AUT
22. Lisa Raymond, USA
23. Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
24. Iveta Benesova, CZE
25. Julie Ditty, USA
HM- Akgul Amanmuradova, UZB & Klara Zakopalova, CZE

*COMEBACK PLAYERS*
1. Kim Clijsters, BEL
2. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
3. Jelena Dokic, AUS
4t. Maria Sharapova, RUS & Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
5. Shahar Peer, ISR
6. Sania Mirza, IND
7. Alicia Molik, AUS
8. Agnes Szavay, HUN
9. Yan Zi/Zheng Jie, CHN
10t. Angela Haynes, USA & Shenay Perry, USA
HM- Sharon Fichman, CAN & Zuzana Ondraskova, CZE

*DOUBLES TEAMS*
1. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA
2. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP/ESP
3. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
4. Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
5. Virginia Ruano Pascual/Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP/ESP
6. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Nadia Petrova, USA/RUS
7. Rennae Stubbs/Samantha Stosur, AUS/AUS
8. Nathalie Dechy/Mara Santangelo, FRA/ITA
9. Alisa Kleybanova & whoever she partners with, RUS/???
10. Svetlana Kuznetsova/Amelie Mauresmo, RUS/FRA
HM- Olga Govortsova/Tathiana Poutchek, UKR/BLR

*DOWN*
1. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2. Anna Chakvetadze, RUS
3. Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
4. Russian Fed Cup Team
5. French Fed Cup Team
6. Dinara Safina, RUS (in slams)
7. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
8. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
9. Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
10. Kveta Peschke, CZE
11. Alona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
12. Patty Schnyder, SUI
13. Alize Cornet, FRA
14. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK (and that's even after reaching the Roland Garros SF!)
15. Tamira Paszek, AUT
16. Chinese Fed Cup Team
17. Alona Bondarenko, UKR
18. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
19. Marina Erakovic, NZL
20. Kaia Kanepi, EST (in slams)
HM- Maria Kirilenko, RUS & Anne Keothavong, GBR
EXTRA HM- the M.I.A. Tatiana Golovin, FRA

*FED CUP (WG) MVP's*
1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
3. Melanie Oudin, USA
4. Alexa Glatch, USA
5. Liezel Huber, USA



=ITF STARS=

*CIRCUIT PLAYERS OF THE YEAR*
1. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
2. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
3. Sacha Jones, NZL
4. Jelena Dokic, AUS
5. Polona Hercog, SLO
6. Lucie Kriegmannova, CZE
7. Chan Yung-Jan, TPE
8. Maria Irigoyen, ARG
9. Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
10. Valerie Tetreault, CAN
11. Mailen Auroux, ARG
12. Maria Elena Camerin, ITA
13. Karolina Sprem, CROM
14. Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
15. Regina Kulikova, RUS
HM- Julie Coin, FRA & Rossana de los Rios, PAR

*ITF MOVERS*
1. Petra Martic, CRO
2. Andrea Petkovic, GER
3. Tatjana Malek, GER
4t. Kristina Kucova, SVK & Zuzana Kucova, SVK
5. Sofia Arvidsson, SWE
6. Sarah Gronert, GER
7. Elena Baltacha, GBR
8. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
9. Sophie Ferguson, AUS
10. Oksana Kalashnikova, GEO
HM- Yvonne Meusburger, AUT & Michaella Krajicek, NED

*ITF PLAYERS-TO-WATCH*
1. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
2. Timea Babos, HUN
3. Richel Hogenkamp, NED
4. Elena Bogdan, ROU
5. Gabriela Paz, VEN
6. Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR
7. Cristina Dinu, ROU
8. Chanel Simmonds, RSA
9. Sharon Fichman, CAN
10. Kristie Haerim Ahn, USA
HM- Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN & Daria Kuchmina, RUS

*ITF UP & COMERS*
1t. Lyudmyla Kichenok, UKR & Nadiya Kichenok, UKR
2. Bianca Botto, PER
3. Jacqueline Cako, USA
4. Elora Dabija, ROU
5. Ani Mijacika, CRO
HM- Caitlyn Williams, USA

*ITF SURPRISES*
1. Galina Fokina, RUS
2. Darya Kustova, BLR
3. Katie O'Brien, GBR
4. Estelle Guisard, FRA
5. Abigail Spears, USA
6. Eva Fernandez-Brugues, ESP
7. Violette Huck, FRA
8. Amanda Carreras, GBR
9. Sandra Zahlavova, CZE
10. Heidi El Tabakh, CAN
HM- Irini Georgatou, GRE

*ITF COMEBACKS*
1. Alicia Molik, AUS
2. Julia Vakulenko, UKR
3. Arantxa Parra-Santonja, ESP
4. Elena Bovina, RUS
5. Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
HM- Laura Granville, USA & Lilia Osterloh, USA

*ITF SEMI-DISAPPOINTMENT*
Julia Vakulenko, UKR... her season's total of ITF singles titles (3) equaled her number of in-match retirements this season. Of course, considering Vakulenko's medical history, that's a pretty good victory-to-injury ratio. Still, it was just under two years ago that she was at a career-high rank of #31. Now, largely because of her inability to stay on the court on a week-to-week basis, she's ranked #156.



*CHOKES OF THE YEAR*
1. The Dubai Debacle
...
Shahar Peer was set to become the first Israeli woman to play in the WTA event in Dubai, until the government's eleventh hour decision to deny her a visa into the Muslim nation. Caught with its pants down and the door unlocked, the WTA and Peer's fellow players set new marks for the number of wrong turns taken over the course of a week. Rather than immediately pull the plug on the tournament (or at least threaten to do so) and assert at least a slight tinge of righteous indignation after being lied to by the Dubai government and touranment organizers about opening the borders, the tour instead chose to kowtow to the U.A.E. and the event's sponsors, rather than looking out for the personal and religious liberties of one of its own players. Citing how expensive it would be to pull up stakes at such a late date (as if those who denied the visa didn't have the same thought), a company line of "reason" parroted by no less than Venus Williams, the WTA went on with the tournament with, in the WTA's words, Peer's "blessing," as if she should have been the one walking to the front of the protest line ahead of the supposed "supporting body" that is the tour and its leadership. What about the players, you ask? Oh, as if they cared. It didn't individually effect them, so they did nothing. Hey, with one less top player, they had a better chance to win, right? No boycott, which would have been justifiably supported and applauded in all corners, was seriously considered. No outright expressions of even mild protest, overt or implied, took place during or after the event. Worse yet, after winning the title, Williams spoke with a straight face of how all the players "were with Peer," and Venus was later commended by certain tennis commentators for her "leadership" during the whole sorry situation. Around the sport, the likes of "upstanding" players such as Federer and Nadal remained mum, and Israeli player Dudi Sela actually seemed to blame Peer for the entire incident. For their part, both Tennis Channel (which decided to cancel plans to broadcast matches) and Andy Roddick (who withdrew from the upcoming ATP Dubai event in support of Peer) emerged with the ability to hold their heads up. Ultimately, the WTA fined the Dubai event, and the ka-jillionaires who run it, a "whopping" $300,000 and allocated prize money and ranking points to both Peer and her doubles partner, Anna-Lena Groenefeld. A day late, a dollar short and totally missing the point, not to mention the opportunity. The Dubai tournament is still on the 2010 schedule, once again with the "promise" that all players entered will be allowed to compete, and the one-time chief of the tour during the debacle, Larry Scott, has since resigned and taken over similar duties for the Pac-10 athletic conference. Perhaps, things will go smoothly when the WTA returns to Dubai next year, and Peer will make history one year later than planned. But none of that will alter the memory of how things went down in the heat of the moment, when support and the hint of a backbone, at the very least, were necessary... but disappointingly absent.
=============================
2. The F-Bombs Heard 'round the World
...
Serving down 6-4/6-5 against Kim Clijsters in the U.S. Open semifinal, Serena Williams was charged with a foot fault on a second serve, giving the Belgian two match points. Serena then proceeded to verbally explode at the line judge who'd made the call, being caught on audio cursing her and threatening to shove a tennis ball down her throat. Once the line judge reported the comments to the chair umpire, Williams was charged with a game misconduct for abusive language. Having received a game misconduct earlier in the match after breaking a racket, the latest penalthy resulted, by rule, in a lost point. Being that it was on match point, Clijsters was declared the winner. Clijsters, who was bewildered about the situation as Williams shook her hand at the net, went on to win the title. Williams was fined for the incident, but, as of today, the "investigation" into whether or not a suspension is warrented is still "ongoing." Since the Open, Williams has gone on to win the Season-Ending Championships title and wrap up the year-end #1 ranking.
=============================
3. Fed Cup SF - Huber/Mattek-Sands (USA) def. Benesova/Peschke (CZE)
...2-6/7-6/6-1.
In the final match in the tie, the Czechs led 6-2/5-2 and held a match point to become the first team from the Czech Republic to reach the FC final since then-unified Czechoslovakia reached the '88 final. On that MP, Kveta Peschke framed a wild shot. From there, the Czech team completely collapsed.
=============================
4. U.S. Open 4th Rd. - Pennetta def. Zvonareva
...3-6/7-6/6-0.
Under the lights, the Italian overcame six match points as the Russian suffered another of her painful-to-watch meltdowns.
=============================
5. Then-#1 in Name Only?
...
Formerly top-ranked Dinara Safina's late-round grand slam no-shows and collapses have grown to legendary status, but she'll be hard-pressed to "top" her loss in this year's semifinal to Venus Williams at Wimbledon. She was downed 6-1/6-0, then proceeded to seemingly lose much of the in-your-eye sentiments toward her critics the rest of the season. By the time the season had ended, she'd broken a WTA record as the #1 losing to the lowest-ranked player (#226) ever and finished the season at #2, with an injured back that threatens to delay the start of her 2010 campaign.
=============================
6. Beijing 2nd Rd. - Zhang def. Safina
...7-5/7-6.
This was the loss to the #226-ranked player, China's Zhang Shuai. It came after Safina had lost to Taiwanese teenager Chang Kai-Chen, ranked #132, one week earlier.
=============================
7. Australian Open 4th Rd. - Safina def. Cornet
...6-2/2-6/7-6.
Oh, there were better times for Safina, though. Here, Cornet held a 5-2 3rd set lead, twice served for the match and held two match points before the Russian pulled off one of her patented early-in-a-slam comebacks to grab the victory. Of course, this loss pretty much set the tone for Cornet's forgettable '09 season.
=============================
8. "V" is Not for "Vaidisova: Champion"
...
It's difficult to believe that Nicole Vaidisova was one swing of a racket away from having a match point to reach the Roland Garros final three seasons ago. This year, her downward spiral continued unabated, and she currently finds herself fighting just to stay in the Top 200 at #188. The former world #7's nadir, so far, is probably this year's loss to wild card Stacey Tan in the opening round of qualifying in Stanford. Of course, the way things are going for the disinterested Vaidisova, she may not be anywhere near rock bottom yet.
=============================
9. Fed Cup SF - Italy def. Russia
...4-1.
Tour domination does not always a Fed Cup champion make. Not in 2009, at least.
=============================
10. Sydney 1st Rd. - S.Williams def. Stosur
...6-3/6-7/7-5.
Stosur, still fighting against her inability to close out matches, opened her season with more of the same. She served for the match at 5-4, 40/love, but two double-fault-at-match point moments later, the Aussie was well on her way to another defeat.
=============================
HM- U.S. Open 1st Rd. - K.Bondarenko def. Ivanovic
...2-6/6-3/7-6.
AnaIvo led 6-2/3-1 and had a match point in the 3rd set tie-break, which she ultimately lost 9-7. One year after going out of the Open as the #1 seed in the 2nd Round, the Serb followed up with an even earlier defeat. Since winning Roland Garros in '08, she hasn't advanced past the Round of 16 in any slam, and she only played one more match after this one in the '09 season.
=============================

*COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR*
1. Comeback Kim Clijsters
...
rarely has a player's comeback been so successful so quickly. After two years away from the sport, Clijsters returned in Cincinnati. In her first match, against Marion Bartoli, she won twelve of the first fifteen points and took the match in straight sets, with a 28-5 advantage in winners. By the end of the summer, at the conclusion of just her third tournament, Clijsters was holding up the U.S. Open singles championship trophy for the second time in her career.
=============================
2. Wimbledon SF - S.Williams def. Dementieva
...6-7/7-5/8-6.
Dementieva took a 3-1 lead in the 3rd, and held a match point at 5-4. After failing to convert it, she spent the weekend watching Williams go on to win the SW19 title that could have been her's.
=============================
3. The Story of the Tournament
...
Jelena Dokic, former Wimbledon semifinalist and world #4, came into 2009 having not won a maid draw slam match since 2003. After getting into the Australian Open draw by winning the wild card tournament held by the Tennis Australia, just being able to play in her once-again-adopted home country seemed to be enough. Who could have guessed that she'd put on an under-the-lights, feel-good run in front of the Aussie fans that made her comeback the highlight of the tournament? Winning a series of three-setters, including one against eventual U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, Dokic reached the QF before losing to Safina in three sets. Injury and fatigue sidelined her and/or effected her results for much of the season after that, but by early November she'd reached the finals of three straight ITF challengers (winning two, giving her three circuit titles on the year) and finished the season at #57.
=============================
4. Roland Garros 3rd Rd. - Azarenka def. Suarez-Navarro
...5-7/7-5/6-2.
The Belarusian trailed CSN 7-5/4-1 as darkness approached. Then, rallying her previously-wayward game by smacking every ball as hard as she could and battling the crowd as she demonstrably celebrated or bemoaned every good or bad shot she made, Azarenka tied the match at a set a piece and sent the contest to a second day. There, she quickly wrapped up the match. But her battle with her ability to control her temper, and the negative effect it has on her game, continues to this day.
=============================
5. Fed Cup 1st Rd. - USA def. ARG 3-2; Oudin (USA) def. Jozami (ARG)
...2-6/6-1/6-2.
Needing to get a win to force the tie into a decisive doubles match, the 17-year old game back from a set down, and 0-2 in the 3rd, in a gutsy display that foreshadowed her heroics at the U.S. Open later in the season.
=============================
6. Australian Open QF - S.Williams def. Kuznetsova
...5-7/7-5/6-1.
An angry Kuznetsova maintained afterward that the heat-related closing of the Laver Arena roof between the 1st and 2nd sets adversely affected her ability to win this match. Of course, it had nothing to do with her inablity to close out the match while serving at 7-5/5-4. Serena went on to win the title.
=============================
7. The Story of the Rising Kimiko
...
After twelve years of retirement, Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm returned to tennis in 2008 at age 37. At first, she limited herself to ITF events in Japan, in which she proved to be very succesful. This season, she left the borders of her home nation and began showing up in the draws of WTA tournaments. All she did was win her first non-Japan title since 1996 with a $75K championship, then go on to claim her first WTA tournament in thirteen years when she won in Seoul one day before her thirty-ninth birthday. In that event, she overcame a 6-4/5-2 deficit and a match point in the 2nd Round against Alisa Kleybanova. Date-Krumm ended the season at #82.
=============================
8. The Princess of Charming Comebacks
....
Caroline Wozniacki's stick-to-it-ness has resulted in quite a few three-set dramas over the last two seasons, enough to turn her into a Top 5 player and grand slam finalist. Maybe her two most memorable '09 comeback victories came against Elena Vesnina in Ponte Vedra Beach, then Victoria Azarenka at the Season-Ending Championships. In the heat of PVB, C-Woz roared back from a 2-4 3rd set hole, with Vesnina serving at 5-3 and holding a match in a five-deuce game, then holding two more on Wozniacki's serve (one of which the Dane won courtesy of a friendly net cord bounce). Wozniacki converted her own third match point, as the emotional Russian's own Shakespearean drama turned tragic on the other side of the net. In the SEC, a cramping C-Woz trailed 5-4 in the 3rd and was a match point down in the 2:38 match. As Azarenka was getting frustrated, breaking rackets and sailing a ball into the stands, Wozniacki was keeping her head. She won the match, and then another cramp-filled drama in the desert in her next outing against Vera Zvonareva en route to her first appereance in the SEC SF.
=============================
9. The Tragic Heroine
...
A one-time Top 100 player, Angela Haynes had pretty much dropped off the face of major tennis after her brother's death in a motorcycle accident in 2005. In Indian Wells, she re-introduced herself by taking advantage of a wild card into qualifying and reaching the main draw 3rd Round.
=============================
10. $25K Darwin Final - Molik def. Peers
...6-3/6-4.
After retiring a year earlier, Molik made a successful singles comeback on the ITF circuit in the latter portion of the season. In her first tournament back in Darwin, Australia, she evolved into a champion once again.
=============================
11. Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Sharapova def. Petrova
...6-2/1-6/8-6.
Petrova led 4-2 and had a point for a 5-2 lead, but Sharapova used consistent serving and big point prowess to win here. In just her second tournament back after ten months off the tour with shoulder surgery, she reached the RG QF. The road was at times rocky for the Russian in the months that followed, but by the end of the season she appeared well on her way to becoming a top tier force on the tour once again in 2010.
=============================
12. One Final Victory?
...
When Amelie Mauresmo won the Paris Indoors title back in February, it seemed a great comeback moment. Finally claiming a title in the city where her Roland Garros fortunes had always been poor, she notched three wins over Top 10 players for her first title since 2007. At the time, it pushed her ranking back into the Top 20. Flashforward to the end of the season and that Paris title was the Frenchwoman's only singles title of the year, one which she ended early as she opening discussed the possibility of retirement. Ranked #21 to close out '09, this title might turn out to be Mauresmo's last.
=============================
13. Roland Garros 1st Round - Diatchenko def. Johansson
...2-6/6-2/10-8.
It's not often a young player saves seven match points in a grand slam contest and wins, but that's just what the young Hordette did in her RG debut this year.
=============================
14. Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Round Robin - Stosur d. Tanasugarn
...4-6/7-5/6-0.
Stosur opened her season with blown matches against Serena in Sydney, then Dementieva at the Australian Open. Somewhere along the way in '09, though, Stosur learned how to win. And this might be where it happened. She found herself down 6-4/5-2 here to Tanasugarn, but one break of the veteran's serve and Slingin' Sammy was on her way. She won the final eleven games of the match, then pulled a victory from the clutches of defeat against Tatjana Malek at Wimbledon (a year after blowing a big lead against Vaidisova there). By the end of the year, she'd finally won her first career tour singles title in Osaka and had the Top 10 in her sights. Coincidence? I don't think so. After all, rising confidence lifts all tennis boats.
=============================
15. No Matter What Serena Says, Rome is a Big Tournament
...
and Safina's win there this year, after coming back from a 2-5 deficit against Zheng Jie in the 3rd Round, then from a set and a break down against Venus in the SF, was more than impressive.
=============================

*UPSETS OF THE YEAR*
1. Of Mary Joe and Women
...
Mary Joe Fernandez's plans in her first season as the sole American Fed Cup coach rarely went awry. Playing with "B" rosters (in other words, without a Williams or a pregnant Lindsay Davenport) all year along, every move seemed to work. In the 1st Round, she picked FC newbie Melanie Oudin for the roster, then replaced an injured Bethanie Mattek-Sands with veteran/FC newbie Julie Ditty. Oudin won a huge tie-saving match after Team USA fell behind 1-2, then Ditty teamed with Liezel Huber to defeat the Argentines in doubles to win 3-2. Down 1-2 again against the Czechs in the SF, MJF's pick of Alexa Glatch for the roster proved to be the saving grace, as the Cali Girl went 2-0 in singles to push the tie to a decisive doubles match, where Huber & Mattek-Sands overcame match point to send the U.S. team to its first FC final since 2003. Her moves didn't result in a championship win over the Italians, but that was expected. The Cinderella run to the final surely wasn't, though.
=============================
2. Safina's Autumn Fall
...Tokyo 2nd Rd. - #132 Chang d. #1 Safina 7-6/4-6/7-5; Beijing 2nd Rd. - #226 Zhang d. #1 Safina 7-5/7-6.
The numbers say it all, really.
=============================
3. U.S. Open 3rd Rd. - Oudin d. Sharapova
...3-6/6-4/7-5.
Sure, Sharapova threw in 21 double-faults in this one. But this win, more than any other, erased the notion that the girl with "Believe" on her shoes was anything resembling a fluke at Flushing Meadows.
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4. Sometimes the Last Decision is the Best Decision
...
Travis Parrott was supposed to play U.S. Open Mixed Doubles with Abigail Spears via a wild card entry into the draw. But when Spears had to pull out of the draw with a late injury, she suggested Parrott play with Carly Gullickson. The two had only played together for one set in WTT action several years before, but both were game to give it a try. After surviving a match point in the 1st Round, all the American pair did was defeat teams seeded #1, #2, #3 and #6 and win the first slam title in either's career.
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5. Australian Open 2nd Rd. - Suarez-Navarro def. V.Williams
...2-6/6-3/7-5.
CSN has a history of upsetting name players at slams, and Venus was her victim in Melbourne. Williams led 4-1 in the 3rd, served at 5-3 and held a match point at 5-4, but the little Spanish "Annie," in her first AO main draw, broke the American in back-to-back games and then served out the match for her biggest win yet. It ended the Williams Sisters' 25-0 singles run versus the field in slams.
=============================
6. Ponte Vedra Beach 1st Rd. - Keys def. Kleybanova
...7-5/6-4.
American Madison Keys, an Evert Academy full-time resident, made her WTA debut at age 14 with a wild card into the main draw of PVB a memorable one by upsetting the Russian and averaging over 100-mph on her serve for the match.
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7. U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Oudin def. Dementieva
...5-7/6-4/6-3.
Dementieva came in as the U.S. Open Series champion.
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8. Wimbledon 3rd Rd. - Oudin def. Jankovic
...6-7/7-5/6-2.
A qualifier at SW19, Oudin was just getting her slam batteries revved up at the All-England Club.
=============================
9. A Future Wimbledon Final?
...Tokyo 2nd Rd. - Pavlyuchenkova def. V.Williams 7-6/7-5; Beijing 2nd Rd. - Pavlyuchenkova def. V.Williams 3-6/6-1/6-4.
In back-to-back weeks, the Russian teenager made that potential "What If?" future meeting at SW19 not look all that bad, if I do say so myself.
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10. Luxembourg 2nd Rd. - Kremer def. Wozniacki
...5-7/0-5 ret.
When Melanie Oudin was too ill to play, Kremer entered the draw of her home nation's event as a lucky loser. When Wozniacki realized she was too injured to be willing to risk playing her next match, less than a week before the SEC, she decided to gift the Luxembourg vet with a "free pass" to the next round. Naturally, after she'd talked about retiring with her father during a changeover, the action at such a point in the match set off alarm bells all over the anti-gambling establishement. Of course, suspecting that something "untoward" had taken place here would mean assuming that C-Woz was as stupid as a pocket-full of vibration suppressors, thinking that no one would notice anything odd taking place. It didn't. She's not. Now, back to that "investigation" into Serena's outburst in New York.
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HM- Luxembourg 2nd Rd. - Schnyder def. Clijsters
...6-4/3-6/7-6.
Lost in all the Kremer/Wozniacki talk in the Luxembourg tournament was this match, in which Clijsters played her first event since the U.S. Open and promptly went out without much fanfare to a player having a less-than-mediocre season who she'd actually already beaten earlier in her '09 comeback outings before winning the Open. Don't think that this little result won't become a constant go-to for me in this space if KC's fortune's are anything less than slammin' in 2010.
=============================

NEXT: Ms. Backspin (with "Performance of the Year" and "Match of the Year" winners, plus 2009 season-ending ranking lists)

All for now.



2009 SEASON REVIEW EDITIONS OF WTA BACKSPIN:
...Revolving Doors - 2010 WTA Guide Preview
...2009 Regional Honors & '10 All-Intriguing Team and Market Tips
...Backspin Awards
...Ms. Backspin (next)
...WTA Yearbook (next week)

3 Comments:

Blogger Diane said...

This was a great read, espcially Chokes of the Year. I would probably have ranked them in about that order.
And I'd like to add another Honorable Mention: Dementieva's massive collapse in the 3rd set of her Charleston semifinal against Wozniacki.

Fri Nov 13, 09:29:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hmmm, I think the reason I omitted that one here was because I'm going to include it in the "Match of the Year" rankings. If my memory serves, I believe that was the one where Wozniacki fell "head over tea kettle." :)

Sat Nov 14, 11:36:00 AM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Yes, that's the one. Dementieva had to dig deep to lose that one.

Sat Nov 14, 10:28:00 PM EST  

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