Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2010 Dorothy Tour Awards

One slam down. Three to go. One month down. Nine more to go. And, in a few minutes, one Backspin monthly awards presentation down, too.

First, though, a casting call for the Backspin's 2010 production of "Oz":


DOROTHY GALE (Serena Williams, USA)
...do ruby slippers clash with white bandages?
Anti-Oz: Ana Ivanovic, also starring in the indie thriller "From Finalist to Afterthought in Two Short Years: The AnaIvo Story"
=============================
THE WIZARD (Stacey Allaster)
...she "rules against" the whereabouts policy. Is Dubai next?
Anti-Oz: Tennis Australia, who's decision to make Yanina Wickmayer go through qualifying only looked more and more foolish with each passing round in Melbourne. Just ask Flavia Pennetta, now 0-2 vs. the Belgian in '10, is she'd rather have faced her a little later in the draw.
=============================
THE SCARECROW (Victoria Azarenka, BLR)
...has she finally gotten a brain, and learned not to let herself and her anger be her own worst enemy?
Anti-Oz: the USTA, which for some reason believes that allowing anyone -- from Olympic skiing champs (Bode Miller) to possibly former Tom Cruise co-stars (Elisabeth Shue?) -- to play in an "open" tournament to gain a berth into the U.S. Open qualifying tournament. Can you say "sideshow?"
=============================
THE NOT-SO-COWARDLY LIONESS (Justine Henin, BEL)
...it takes some guts to try to change a game that's already produced seven slam crowns and 117 weeks at #1.
Anti-Oz: Venus Williams, who still hasn't managed to find a way to change her Melbourne script.
=============================
THE TIN WOMAN (Samantha Stosur, AUS)
...at the Australian Open, she found a way to find the heart to get past her own questions about her ability to traverse the new higher ground she finds herself occupying.
Anti-Oz: Jelena Jankovic, who USED to never lose early in slams in heart-less performances that make one wonder if the good ol' days are forever in the past.
=============================
THE GOOD WITCH (Yanina Wickmayer, BEL)
...winning eleven straight '10 matches after being banned means she would have likely found a way past a few trials in Salem, too. Of course, she really got the role because...
Anti-Oz: Pam Shriver campaigned for and easily beat out all challengers for The Wicked Witch. Hey, maybe she'll get a Broadway show out of it, though.
=============================
THE GOLDEN FLOWERS: (Li Na & Zheng Jie, CHN)
...future Chinese tennis generations will skip through their accomplishments en route to the Emerald City.
=============================
AUNTIE EM' (Cara Black, ZIM)
...the veteran has played three tournaments in '10, and reached four finals (winning three of them).
Anti-Oz: Caroline Wozniacki, the only teenager to reach the AO 3rd Round.
=============================
TOTO (Kim Clijsters, BEL)
...more bite than bark in Melbourne. I wonder if she donated her AO prize money to charity? I mean, it just wouldn't be as fun to grandstand and bask in the applause of the courtesy car drivers, after all.
=============================
THE MUNCHKINS (Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE)
...and more twins!
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THE LOLLIPOP GUILD (Zhou Yi-Miao, Yang Hao-Chen & Han Xinyun, CHN
...the NextGen Chinese stars are starting to emerge.
=============================
THE WINGED MONKEYS (The Russians)
...suddenly, they're all flying away. No Russians reached the SF for a second straight slam. The last time the Hordettes when zero-for-slam SF for an entire season was 2002.
=============================

Hmmm, with so many Russian/monkey "accidents," I guess somebody has to play "The Janitor," too. Note to all auditioners: Bring Your Own Mop and Rubber Gloves!



*Dorothy Tour Awards - January/Wk.1-4*
**TOP PLAYERS**
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Justine Henin, BEL
3. Williams/Williams, USA
4. Black/Huber, ZIM/USA
5t. Li Na, CHN
5t. Zheng Jie, CHN
7. Kim Clijsters, BEL
8. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
9. Elena Dementieva, RUS
10. Maria Kirilenko, RUS

**RISERS**
1t. Li Na, CHN
1t. Zheng Jie, CHN
2. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
3. Maria Kirileno, RUS
4. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
5. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
6. Shahar Peer, ISR
7. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
8. Alona Bondarenko, UKR
9. Hlavackova/Hradecka, CZE
10. Aravane Rezai, FRA
HM- Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS & Casey Dellacqua, AUS

**FRESH FACES**
1. Stefanie Voegele, SUI
2. Laura Robson, GBR
3. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
4. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
5. Han Xinyun, CHN
HM- Regina Kulikova, RUS

**JUNIORS**
1. Karolina Pliskcova, CZE
2. Timea Babos, HUN
3. Gabriela Dabrowski, CAN
4. Daria Gavrilova, RUS
5. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
6. Tang Hao-Chen, CHN
7. Sachie Ishizu, JPN
8. An-Sophie Mestach, BEL
9. Irina Khromacheva, RUS
10. Silvia Njiric, CRO
HM- Ester Goldfeld, USA

**SURPRISES**
1. Maria Kirilenko, RUS
2. Andrea Petkovic, GER
3. Angelique Kerber, GER
4. Vania King, USA
5. Peers/Robson, AUS/GBR
HM- Valerie Tetreault, CAN & Shenay Perry, USA

**VETERANS**
1. Cara Black, ZIM
2. Elena Dementieva, RUS
3. Raymond/Stubbs, USA/AUS
4. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
5. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
HM- Alberta Brianti, Tathiana Garbin & Roberta Vinci, ITA

**COMEBACKS**
1. Justine Henin, BEL
2. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
3. Raymond/Stubbs, USA/AUS
4. Nadia Petrova, RUS
5. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
HM- Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ & Alize Cornet, FRA

**DOWN**
1. Dinara Safina, RUS
2. Maria Sharapova, RUS
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
4. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
5. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
HM - Sabine Lisicki, GER & Jelena Dokic, AUS
=AO=
Singles: Kim Clijsters, BEL
Doubles: Llagostera-Vives/Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
Junior: Heather Watson, GBR

**ITF PLAYERS**
1. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
2. Natalie Piquion, FRA
3. Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN
4. Alize Lim, FRA
5. Sarah Gronert, GER
HM- Aleksandra Krunic, SRB & Annika Beck, GER


*OSCAR NOMINATION DAY SPECIAL*
Avatar (Serena Williams)
...what player wouldn't want to take her form? They'd hardly be blue at grand slam time.
=============================
The Blind Side (Maria Sharapova)
...courtesy of Maria Kirilenko.
=============================
District 9 (Vera Zvonareva)
...an Oz semifinalist in '09, Zvonareva was the #9 seed in '10. She lost the last nine-plus-one games against Azarenka in the 4th Round, and now she's ranked #14 (9+5).
=============================
An Education (Heather Watson)
...on the bright side, I guess it's good to learn early that expectations can be a b-i-you know what.
=============================
The Hurt Locker (Dinara Safina)
...maybe Obama should work on getting universal health care for all the Russian women tennis players?
=============================
Inglourious (Belgien) (Kim Clijsters)
...she saved one match point against Henin in Brisbane, then won one game against Petrova in Melbourne.
=============================
Precious (Laura Robson)
...if she starts spinning Gatorade ads during post-match ceremonies -- "My mum might declare that victory a 'G moment,' but I frankly think she's gone daft" -- something great will have been lost.
=============================
A Serious Man (Chris Fowler)
...he deserves SOMETHING for having to deftly maneuver around some of Shriver's wilder comments.
=============================
Up (Chinese tennis)
...the beginning of something outrageous?
=============================
Up in the Air (Russian tennis?)
...but likely only until the Hordettes get off the injured reserve list.
=============================

"You know that little voice we all have in our heads? Mine was talking a lot that afternoon. It was telling me Roger winning the French was very special. But it so bothered me to see him win. It made me think how much I'd missed by not winning Wimbledon" - Justine Henin, speaking about Roger Federer's 2009 title at Roland Garros


**TOP PERFORMANCES**
[1]
Serena Williams wins a fifth Australian Open title, her twelfth career slam singles crown
[2]
Justine Henin's comeback yields eleven wins and two finals in her first two events
[3]
Williams sisters win the Australian Open doubles, their fourth slam title in the last five majors
[Nations]
China puts two players in the AO singles SF, and another in the Girls SF, as Li Na becomes first Chinese woman to reach the Top 10 in the same week that Zheng Jie re-enters the Top 20 for the first time since last summer. Three weeks earlier, Belgium filled three of the four tour singles finalist slots in Week 1 as Kim Clijsters and Yanina Wickmayer both titles, while junior An-Sophie Mestach won a girls singles title the same weekend.

"As long as I'm playing great, I'm not putting a number on it yet." - Venus Williams, before the start of her seventeenth season on tour, answering a question about how much longer she intends to play


*TOP MATCHES*
Brisbane Final - Kim Clijsters def. Justine Henin
...6-3/4-6/7-6(6).
In 2:30, Clijsters went from walking on air with a 6-3/4-1 lead to nearly suffering a monumentally personal collapse against her countrywoman, who held two match points at 5-4 in the 2nd. In the tie-break, Clijsters led 4-0 and 6-3, but still had to sweat out another Henin comeback that closed the score to 6-6. Even though it occurred in the first week of the season, we might not see a batter match-up all year long.
=============================
Australian Open 2nd Rd. - Justine Henin def. Elena Dementieva
...7-5/7-6(6).
Punch Sober pulled the AO Joker card, drawing La Petit Taureau early in Melbourne. In 2:50, Henin served for the match twice, and fell behind 3-1 in the 2nd set tie-break, but still managed to succeed against Dementieva in all the areas where she'd failed against Clijsters two weeks earlier.
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Australian Open 3rd Rd. - Justine Henin def. Alisa Kleybanova
...3-6/6-4/6-2.
Kleybanova, who'd yet to face a break point in her any of her own service games, led 6-3/3-1 40/15 on Henin's serve. The Belgian survived the game, then used her experience to gradually take control of the match.
=============================
Australian Open SF - Serena Williams def. Li Na
...7-6/7-6.
Just to prove that there were indeed other good matches Down Under that DIDN'T involve Henin.
=============================
Australian Open 4th Rd - Justine Henin def. Yanina Wickmayer
...7-6/1-6/6-3.
In another all-Belgian clash, and yet another Henin match, La Petit Taureau saved three set points in the 1st to defeat Wickmayer and end her 12-match 2009-10 winning streak. Wickmayer is still the current high-ranking Belgian on the WTA computer.
=============================
Australian Open 1st Rd. - Vania King def. Dominika Cibulkova
...6-3/6-7/7-6.
King held match point in the 2nd set, only to see Cibulkova surge back to tie the match. It was the Slovak who surged ahead in the 3rd, but the American erased a 5-1 deficit and claimed the match.
=============================

*COMEBACKS*
Australian Open QF - Serena Williams def. Victoria Azarenka
...4-6/7-6/6-2.
In what has become an almost annual ritual Down Under, Williams managed to rise from the ashes of almost-sure defeat. Azarenka led 6-4/4-0 and twice served for the match. But Serena is never buried in Melbourne until the ground above her is level... and maybe not even then. When you face Serena, you have to play by her rules... or else.
=============================
Australian Open 2nd Rd. - Li Na def. Agnes Szavay 3-6/7-5/6-2
Australian Open QF - Li Na def. Venus Williams 2-6/7-6/7-5
...
Serena wasn't the only player dodging her own demise at the Australian Open. Li survived two match points against Szavay in the 2nd Round, then battled back from a 6-2/5-3 deficit against Venus, who served at 5-4 and came within two points of reaching her first AO SF since 2003.
=============================
Australian Open 1st Rd. - Alla Kudryavtseva def. Melanie Oudin
...2-6/7-5/7-5.
Oudin, who led 6-2/5-3 and had three match points, now knows what all those Russians felt like at last year's U.S. Open. Naturally, it was a Hordette who served up the payback, too.
=============================
Sydney SF - Serena Williams def. Aravane Rezai
...3-6/7-5/6-4.
Rezai led 6-3/5-2 and served at 5-3, and even after she lost said she "wasn't impressed" by Serena's play. I think the AO field deserves a prompt letter of apology from Ms. Rezai.
=============================
Australian Open 4th Rd. - Victoria Azarenka def. Vera Zvonareva
...4-6/6-4/6-0.
Azarenka turned a 6-4/3-1 (and point from 4-1) deficit and obscenity warning into a blur of a comeback that saw her win the match's last ten games.
=============================

"Well, like I said so many times before, if I would have gotten involved in what people said I would have never left the ghetto." - Venus Williams, after losing in the Australian Open QF and fielding more questions about people talking about the "end" of her career


*CHOKES*
Australian Open 3rd Rd. - Nadia Petrova def. Kim Clijsters
...6-0/6-1.
In :52, Clijsters suffered the worst loss of her career in her first slam since being lauded last September as the most favorite player in world history who also plays tennis and is oh so nice and friendly and gives away all her money when everyone is looking and she can so conviently be patted on the back for doing it and who's also a mother, and we all know no woman has ever done anything in their life after having a baby. (Breath!)
=============================
Antwerp Exhibition - Kim Clijsters def. Venus Williams 6-1/7-5
...
No, not Venus. And, no, not for Kim's play, either. But it's for winning this EXHIBITION in front of Belgian fans and then saying afterward that it was "more exciting" than winning the U.S. Open last year. Fans were given handkerchiefs on their way out the door so they could wipe Kim's lipstick off their rear ends.
=============================

"It sucks." - Kim Clijsters, on being so soundly defeated by Petrova at the Australian Open


*UPSETS*
Australian Open 1st Rd. - Maria Kirilenko def. Maria Sharapova
...7-6/3-6/6-4.
In 3:22 on Day 1, Sharapova, in her first AO match since she won the title in 2008, suffered her earliest slam exit since the 2003 Roland Garros.
=============================
Hopman Cup Final Singles #1 - Laura Robson def. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez
...6-1/7-6.
Coming back from a 5-3 hole in the 2nd, the 15-year old Brit finally converted her fifth match point. It didn't matter, though. Robson and Andy Murray lost the final to Spain. Yep, he finished second there, too.
=============================

=SERIES NOTES=
Kim Clijsters' win over Justine Henin is Brisbane cut Henin's career match-up lead to 12-11
=============================
For the second straight year, Elena Dementieva defeated Serena Williams in Week 2 in Sydney. For the second straight year, it was Williams, not Dementieva, who won the Australian Open title two weeks later.
=============================
Caroline Wozniacki might have predicted Li Na's run to the AO semifinals. She lost to her in Sydney, then again in Melbourne.
=============================
Nadia Petrova has lost three times to Justine Henin in her comeback, once in an exhibition in Cairo, then in Brisbane and the Australian Open. All three matches were tight two-set affairs, but Petrova's career mark against the Belgian still stands at 2-13.
=============================
A year ago, Victoria Azarenka saw the heat force her retirement in an AO match she was winning against Serena Williams in the 4th Round. In 2010, she blew a 6-4/4-0 lead against Serena in the QF. Hmmm, maybe it's time to re-think whether or not the Belarusian would have won that 2009 at all, heat or no heat.
=============================
Cara Black and Liezel Huber are still the #1-ranked doubles team in the world, but after losing to team #2 Venus & Serena the team veteran pair from Zimbabwe and the U.S. are now down 4-0 to the sisters when it comes to grand slam titles since the start of '09.
=============================
Venus Williams probably should have seen Li coming even earlier than Wozniacki, seeing that the Chinese star defeated HER at the Beijing Olympics in '08 before taking her out on yet another big stage in Melbourne.
=============================
Serena Williams and Justine Henin met in a grand slam final for the first time in Melbourne. Williams' win gives her an 8-6 advantage lifetime against the Belgian.
=============================

"I feel better today than when I retired, that's for sure. Better emotionally, mentally. Better with myself, and that makes a big difference." - Justine Henin, after defeating Nadia Petrova in the 1st Round of her first event back in Brisbane after her 20-month retirement


=THE GOOD=
Justine Henin quickly turns down a chance to taste some Vegemite on a cracker on the ESPN2 set
=============================
Yanina Wickmayer comes back from her brush with banishment with an even better attitude and great results
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Nadia Petrova proving she's not through yet, notching Australian Open wins over defending U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters and '09 RG winner Svetlana Kuznetsova
=============================
Tennis Australia's plans to add a roof to a third stadium -- Margaret Court Arena -- at Melbourne Park
=============================
Anastasia Rodionova and Jarmila Groth finally get to play under the Australian flag, Alicia Molik gets engaged, Casey Dellacqua returns to the court, Sam Stosur moves up to #11 in the rankings, Rennae Stubbs teams up with Lisa Raymond again, and Jelena Dokic is still banging away on the court even while her early-season results weren't as great as she'd have hoped.
=============================

=THE BAD=
Dinara Safina, believing she was past her back difficulties, decides to play Down Under and ends up retiring in the 1st set of her 4th Round Australian Open match when her back locks up.
=============================
Vera Zvonareva continues to be bothered by the ankle injury she suffered last spring.
=============================
Ekaterina Bychkova is suspended for a month and fined $5000 for failing to report an on attempt to get her to throw a match
=============================

=THE UGLY=
Auckland protesters demanded Shahar Peer pull out of the tournament because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Maybe "The Ugly" should read "The Are-You-Serious?"
=============================
Russian Fed Cup coach Shamil Tarpischev publicly sparred with Svetlana Kuznetsova over the star's neglecting of her Fed Cup duties after winning Roland Garros last year.
=============================

=THE FORGOTTEN=
The talk about Serena's U.S. Open fine disappeared in a puff of smoke once she changed the headline by winning the Australian Open. Hmmm, I wonder if Tiger Woods took notes? Speaking of a puff of smoke, anyone else seeing the new Michael Phelps television ad all the time these days? People's memories are very short.
=============================
The new slam rule regarding treatment for cramping made little news in Melbourne, as the normally scorching heat was as mild over the two weeks as it's been in years.
=============================

=AND THE STILL TO BE DETERMINED=
Dubai has promised to give Shahar Peer a visa to enter the country for this year's tournament
=============================
Mary Joe Fernandez's Bannerettes "B"-team 2.0 consists of Melanie Oudin, Shenay Perry, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber for the U.S.'s 1st Round Fed Cup tie vs. France. For how much longer can she gamble and win?
=============================

Well, she's managed to work with Pam Shriver for all these years without being arrested for assault, so who's to say what she can do?




ITF PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Wk.4): Annika Beck, GER
...the 15-year old made it through qualifying in the $10K in Kaarst, Germany, defeated Sarah Gronert in the SF and then took out France's Audrey Bergot in the final to claim her first challenger title.





FED CUP 1st Round
Italy def. Ukraina 4-1
...the defending champion Italian team hits the road, but they're not the annual FC contender most likely to go down in the 1st Round (see in a moment).
Czech Republic def. Germany 3-2
...the Czechs choked away a tie against the Americans a year ago, though.
Serbia def. Russia 3-2
...Kleybanova/Dushevina/Pavlychenkova & Makarova would be a pretty decent lineup for most nations, but not Russia. For the Hordettes, this is a definite "B"-team. Ivanovic and, especially, Jankovic thrive when playing for Serbia. Here's their chance to deliver a rare 1st Round knock-out punch to the most dominant FC team of the past decade.
United States def. France 3-2
...can MJF's second U.S. team fair as well as last year's surprising finalists? France's lineup of Cornet, Coin, Parmentier and Cohen Aloro isn't nearly as lethal as those that contained the likes of Mauresmo, Bartoli, etc. So, maybe this is the Americans' tie to lose, even on red clay.
=============================
FED CUP World Group II
Australia def. Spain 3-2
...in Europe on red clay, the Spaniards would be heavy favorites. But this one's on hard court in Adelaide.
Belgium def. Poland 3-2
...who needs Clijsters or Henin? I hope Wickmayer's back is strong enough to carry the load.
Estonia def. Argentina 3-2
...Argentina is being led not by Dulko, but by a slew of ITF stars (Auroux, Irigoyen, Ormaechea & Salut). Kanepi will need to shine again for Estonia.
Slovak Republic def. China 4-1
...the Chinese are still trying to get this Fed Cup thing right. It might take another year. Zheng and Peng are here, but the Slovak team of Hantuchova, Cibulkova, Rybarikova and K.Kucova is stronger. Maybe national momentum will rule the weekend, though.


All for now.

9 Comments:

Blogger Annika said...

1. Safina retired against Kirilenko in the 4th round, not the 3rd.
2. Kuznetsova is playing for Russia in Serbia this weekend, while JJ may be a no-show.

Tue Feb 02, 10:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Thanks for the Safina note. I didn't catch that.

And I just read about Kuznetsova and have updated by picks accordingly. :)

Wed Feb 03, 01:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

that was some letter by sveta to tarpischev...Go her!

did you see the clijsters dolls? what the? i feel like jada is like an accessory to the kim barbie...which is like the worst message ever. it doesn't even look like her.

Fri Feb 05, 01:42:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Sometimes she just makes it almost too easy, you know? :D

Hmmm, should Brian feel jilted that he didn't get the "Ken treatment?" ;)

Fri Feb 05, 12:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

All right, all right. I can't resist: Does the fact that the Clijsters Barbie is 100% plastic mean it's the most life-like doll ever made?

Ahh, fair or unfair, I STILL feel better now. :)

Fri Feb 05, 01:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

lol.

what type of weather do you have. sheesh. i've never seen this much snow in my life...and it's not like indiana doesn't have it's fair share of snow.

i was helping to shovel my uncle's driveway... we took a meterstick and measured between 26 and 32 inches early this afternoon...and it was still snowing then....but at least we still had power. hope you did too

Sat Feb 06, 11:57:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, this is like the worst winter... well, EVER.

And now another storm is coming Tuesday/Wednesday.

What's that old song? "We've got to get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do."

Mon Feb 08, 05:22:00 PM EST  
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Wed Jul 06, 11:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger sanbo said...

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Wed Jul 06, 11:07:00 PM EDT  

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