Monday, December 21, 2009

ITF Backspin (Wk.50)- Casey at the Baseline & Kim Being Kim?

One final goodbye to the 2009 season.

Shahar Peer wasn't there, but that didn't stop the final "big event" of the '09 season from going forward in Dubai -- not that that made it any different than the WTA tour's stop in the U.A.E. earlier this year. The season-concluding $75K challenger was won by Kulikova, 20, who notched wins over Anna Lapushchenkova, Kaia Kanepi, Evgeniya Rodina, Bojana Jovanovski and Sandra Zahlavova in a 7-6/6-3 final.
RISER: Casey Dellacqua/AUS
a couple of seasons ago, Dellacqua became an Australian Open star, making her grandmother cry (in a good way) in front of a proud nation-full of Aussies. She missed most of the '09 season, though, when she finally decided to undergo surgery to fix her troubled shoulder. Last week, in her first event back, she won Tennis Australia's playoff tournament for a wild card berth into next month's Oz draw. In the final, she knocked off top-seeded Olivia Rogowska in three sets. The last two years, it was Jelena Dokic who came out on top in this playoff.
SURPRISE: Garbine Muguruza Blanco/ESP
the 16-year old Spaniard won the $10K in Vinaros, Spain to claim her first career pro singles title with a victory over a retiring Ema Burgic 6-2/3-0. It was her second career final, after having lost, at just 15, to Brit Amanda Carreras in her initial ITF final in May.
VETERAN: Mashona Washington/USA
the 33-year old American vet lost in the 1st Round to the eventual singles champion Chieh-Yu Hsu in the $10K in Veracruz, Mexico. But she "sort of" made up for it by taking the doubles title with Dominika Dieskova, defeating Nika Kukharchuk and, you guesse dit, the teenaged Hsu in the final. Oh, and Washington didn't tear up any hotel rooms before leaving town. Okay, everyone bow their head as we honor this ongoing '09 joke, which is now fitfully sent to its final resting place.
FRESH FACES: Chieh-Yu Hsu/USA & Andrea Gamiz/VEN
Taiwan-born American Hsu, 17, won that Veracruz $10K singles title, her first career ITF singles crown. She defeated Vivian Segnini 7-5/6-4 in the final. 17-year Gamiz of Venezuela also won her first career pro singles title over the weekend, taking the $10K Quito, Ecuador event with a straight sets win over favorite Ecuadorian daughter Marie Elise Casares.
DOWN: Nicole Vaidisova/CZE
on the bright side, Vaidisova now realizes she's going to need to rebuild her game (and her confidence, and I guess you could throw in her desire, too) on the challenger level if she's ever going to become relevant in a good way again in tennis. Of course, the bad news was that she failed to advance past the QF of the Dubai $75K, losing in the final eight to eventual runner-up Zahlavova by a hardly-close 6-3/6-2 score. Hey, not that long ago, Dokic was suffering even worse indignities in the qualifying rounds of $10K events... so I guess a start is a start is a start.
JUNIOR STAR: Marianne Jodoin/CAN
the 16-year old Canadian swept the singles and doubles crowns at the Grade 4 Prince Cup in Miami, taking out 15-year old American Julia Elbaba 5-7/6-3/6-3 in the final.
?????: Kim Clijsters/BEL
the calendar still says 2009, but consider this the first shot across the Clijsters bow for 2010. Last week, I mentioned how the U.S. Open champ won an exhibition match over Venus Williams in Antwerp, Belgium. The post-match quote from KC that I hadn't heard then struck me like a thunderbolt when I read it this week, though, so I just have to mention it. Apparently, she said that winning this "practice" match in front of her countrymen/countrywomen was "more exciting" for her than winning the Open a few months ago. Really? You didn't actually say that, did you, Kim? I mean, you're almost making this TOO easy. Winning an offseason exhibition match is more exciting than winning a grand slam after being away from the sport for two years? Should I go ahead and make the prediction now that she'll NEVER win that third slam?

1. Australian Open Wild Card Playoff Final (Australia) - Dellacqua d. Rogowska
The Aussie hadn't played an event since her February '09 shoulder surgery.
2. Australian Open Wild Card Playoff QF - Jessice Moore d. Alicia Molik
Still, the comeback has been very fruitful for the Steamer.
3. Athens, Georgia Exhibition - Melanie Oudin d. Serena Williams
Yeah, this one means absolutely nothing. Hmmm, but SOMEONE might say it was "more exciting" than Little MO's U.S. Open QF run.
4. Brisbane 1st Rd. - Wickmayer vs. ???
Hey, whoever she plays, the good news is that with the ITF lifting her "whereabouts" suspension it means she gets to plays SOMEONE. No, not THAT someone. Someone else. Of course, there are enough "someone's" scheduled to play in that tournament, including a particular LPT, that she might very well meet some a well-known SOMEONE in Week 1. All right, I'm finished now.
5. USA TODAY's (lack of) Sports Section Editors
or maybe the paper's news about the court injunction against Wickmayer's suspension was supposed to read "Wickmayer hopes the injunction will make him eligible to play as soon as possible. No, that's not a typo. Again, I say Pam Shriver is somehow behind this.
HM- $75K Dubai 1st Rd. - Vaidisova d. Marosi
A decent come-from-behind win. Ah, but was it "more exciting" than a night on the town with Radek?

2...Irina Falconi
2...Laura Granville
2...Melanie Oudin
2...Shenay Perry
2...Abigail Spears
1...Kristie Haerim Ahn
1...Jacqueline Cako
1...Beatrice Capra
1...Julia Cohen
1...Alexa Glatch
1...Jamie Hampton
1...Macall Harkins
1...Chieh-Yu Hsu
1...Lindsay Lee-Waters
1...Varvara Lepchenko
1...Elizabeth Lumpkin
1...Alexandra Mueller
1...Alison Riske

All for now.

NEXT: What If Parody: In Search of "Citizen Anna" (and this time, I mean it -- blame the digging out from nineteen-and-a-half inches of snow this weekend for the latest delay) and the ATP 2010 Top 10 preview


Blogger Diane said...

When I first saw that comment from Kim, after the exhibition match, I thought I must have read it wrong. I have no idea what's going on with her; I guess we'll all find out soon enough.

Tue Dec 22, 05:46:00 PM EST  
Blogger Karen said...

Clijsters has never been anything but media savvy. She has always had the smile, the right words and the persona that most people in tennis (read commentators, writers etc) like. The good girl. This is one of the main reasons why her comeback was greeted with such fanfare. She is coming to rescue the Tour from these players who cannot play. Who cannot serve. She is coming to take down those WS. As you can tell I am not a fan of Clijsters, never have been. All that smiling and good girl image, please give me a break. I rather have my champions showing their championship heart on the court and being annoyed when they lose a match they should win. When a player comes back to the Tour at the most gruelling time of the year, when all the regular players are nursing all sorts of injuries and wins it, I say kudos to you for being smart enough to do that. Does not take away your title or anything, but then when said player basically downplays that victory, you have to wonder if the win has not placed pressure on that head that was never strong to begin with. Someone wrote elsewhere that we could see a second retirement coming soon. As she is the main breadwinner in the family now, I doubt it very much.

Thu Dec 24, 03:07:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

In a way, Diane, Clijsters' comment is shocking... but not really, when you consider who said it. There's always been that dichotomy between what she can be (and occasionally is) and how she usually chooses to portray herself. Champagne, anyone? She's maybe the most frustrating player to follow that I can recall, and not because everyone wishes she'd win more, either. You just wish a player that good could muster the "in your eye" trait necessary at times to elevate a legacy to something more. But I guess there are the Serena's of the world, who push forward and don't really care all that much about the snide comments that come from the peanut gallery whenever she stubs her toe, and there are the Kim's who so often worry about how they'd look if they stubbed their toe that they spend too much of their time talking to people with a smile affixed to their face in the hope that everyone will overlook the fact that she hardly ever tries to fit into tight, potentially-toe-stubbing spaces.

Or something like that. :D (Too much egg nog, I guess)

Karen - I don't disagree with anything there. :)

I, too, wondered aloud at the end of the season whether at this time next year if both Henin and Clijsters would still be active players. And I surely wasn't thinking that Justine would walk away again.

I suspect injuries will end up stalling out KC 2 and giving her an excuse to eventually flee the battlefi-... err, I mean thank all her fans for their love and support one final time.

Selfishly, I want her to stick around because the tour is more fun for me -- even if it's for all the wrong reasons -- with Clijsters around. ;)

Thu Dec 24, 09:52:00 AM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

On Vaidisova--

She's playing a 25k in Florida instead of the Australian Open-- she seems pretty serious now

Fri Dec 25, 01:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

She probably couldn't get into the AO draw with her ranking... maybe not even the qualifying tournament. Still, a good move if she's going to break free from her lethargy.

Fri Dec 25, 05:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

What I find interesting is that the sports media all but ignored Clijsters' truly nasty--and honest--comments about why she was returning to the tour. In an interview, she more or less said she was returning because the players on the tour were so bad--why shouldn't she? And she went on and on...

Despite the champagne, etc., I now think the media has as much to do with Kim's image as she does. No matter what she says or does, she'll be portrayed as smiling Kimmie.

I don't have a problem with Clijsters; in fact, I enjoy just about everything about her (except for the losing).

Sat Dec 26, 01:09:00 PM EST  
Blogger AIr said...

welcome to sprocket

Wed Dec 01, 09:20:00 AM EST  

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