Thursday, April 08, 2010

1Q BSA's: Passionate Prologue

This was supposed to be "the greatest season ever." It still might be.

When 2010 began, the WTA tour was buzzing about the possibilities for a season that finally offered the chance to have all the game's major female players in action, in top form or finally reaching their potential within the same calendar year. The Williams Sisters were healthy and focused. The Belgians were back. Maria Sharapova was ready to attempt to return the the spotlight. The latest generation of young stars, most notably Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka, were ready to make their moves. Heck, even past #1's who fell on hard times in '09 were prepared to face up against their season of judgment. As it is, one quarter of the way into this season, updates have been added to all of those stories... but intriguing new chapters have yet to be written, and few conclusions can be made about where the plotines are headed.

Serena won the Australian Open, pulling yet another slam crown from the jaws of middle-round defeat, but she hasn't played a point since. Venus looked awful in Melbourne, but great in Dubai and Acapulco, and then hit the physical wall yet again in exiting Miami (and may or may not be up to helping Mary Joe Fernandez's charges in the Fed Cup SF). Ah, but a potential Serena Grand Slam is still in play, as is a possible "Sisters Slam" in doubles.
The All-Belgian/All-Comeback final in Brisbane in Week 1 whetted the appetite for an ongoing attempt to turn Part II of their rivalry into the classic series it never managed to be the first time around, but when the pair of old not-quite-enemies-but-hardly-BFF's met up again twelve weeks later the overwhelming notion that was born was that both had taken at least a temporary a step back in drama and effectiveness since January. Still, two 8-6 3rd set tie-breaks speak well for the chance for more compelling narrative to come.
Sharapova was dumped in the 1st Round in Melbourne by a fellow Russian, but rebounded to win a title in Memphis, only to be felled once again by injury. This time it's a bum elbow... perhaps the latest byproduct of the shoulder injury and service issues that have put any talk of a slam-ready Supernova on hold for more than a year now. Sharapova will continue to be a star, but will she ever again be able to back up her off-court renown with on-court dominance? If not, she could always be a stand-in/understudy for Anna Torv, the actress from "Fringe" who I've always thought bears a striking resemblence to a certain Siberian-born twentysomething.
Wozniacki rose to #2 in the rankings, but her game continued to be a work in progress, capable of holding up against and conquer the vast majority of her opponents, but often found to be lacking in "the right stuff" against the very best (hey, I hear Buzz Aldrin has some free time again, so many he can help). Azarenka looked like she'd finally conquered the emotional/anger issues that threatened to hold her back last year, but a poor March caused the Belarusian to throw her development ever so slightly in reverse... and without the help of a hot tub time machine, too.
Former #1 Dinara Safina came back earlier than she should have from the back injury that cut short her '09 season. The result: an Australian Open retirement and even more time off tour. Meanwhile, fellow former #1 Ana Ivanovic blamed her fall on "overtraining," then switched coaches... but the results remained the same. Not so for her Serbian countrywoman (and another ex-#1) Jelena Jankovic, who broke off her long-time connection with Ricardo Sanchez in favor of a why-not-try-it? period with Chip Brooks. The result: a title in Indian Wells and a glimpse of the wonderful chaos she used to bring to the tour on a regular basis not that long ago. AnaIvo DID appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, like #1's Serena, Sharapova and Steffi Graf before her, though. So at least she's got a second career waiting for her... you know, just in case.

Of course, all these loose ends and hangnails mean the rest of 2010 will continue to hold the promise of great expectations... at least until further notice.

Note: Since this is what I consider a "for the record" edition of Backspin, I'll suspend the Barbie-inspired moratorium on the use a particular player's name for today. But, have no fear, the self-imposed restriction will be reinstated immediately afterward and will remain until the "ban's" next temporary suspension during Roland Garros.

*1Q Backspin Awards - Wk.1-13*
1. Serena Williams, USA

...without the monstrous comeback against Azarenka in Melbourne that ultimately led to slam title #12, Serena would have been a 1Q nonentity. As it is, she's THE star of the quarter even though she hasn't played for more than two months. Of course, that's been the S.O.P. for Serena's career for most of the last decade... so the outlook for the rest of '10 is encouraging. What was it again that happened at the U.S. Open last year? By the time September gets here, it might REALLY be like it never happened (sort of like the WTA's version of one of those "sideways" realities on "Lost").
2. Venus Williams, USA
...who'd have thought she'd end up here at the end the quarter after the way she went out in the QF at the Australian? Three finals and two titles (four and three, counting an NYC exhibition) later, her "win, win, win, win, win, win, win" goals for 2010 don't sound so far fetched... especially when you consider that those seven "wins" would sync up quite nicely with the number of victories she'd need to pull off to snare that sixth career Wimbledon plate.
3. Kim Clijsters, BEL
...what's more important? That she won a pair of singles title around her 6-0/6-1 wipeout defeat in the Australian Open, or that KC 2.0 successfully went through Justine Henin 2.0 to win both of them? Ahh, but is either doll-worthy?
4. Williams/Williams, USA
...their quest to become the unquestioned best women's doubles team ever continues. Next slam stop: Paris. A win there and a Sisters Slam, barring injury, would almost be a certainty in '10.
5. Elena Dementieva, RUS
...even though she's had the handicap of carrying that Henin magnet in her tennis bag all season, she's still managed to win two titles when Justine wasn't around.
6. Li Na & Zheng Jie, CHN
...the so-dubbed "Golden Flowers" both reached the SF at the Australian, a first for Chinese players. Li became the first Top 10 player in her country's history, while Zheng continues to be the most oft-overlooked difficult out on tour. Neither may ever match their Melbourne heights, but they've set down a path for future Chinese generations. And generations. And generations.
7. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
...she emerged from the chaos of Indian Wells with a new lease on her career, then couldn't lift the champion's trophy. Ahhh, it's so nice to have HER back. And Jelena, too. JJ will probably never challenge for #1 again, and winning a slam will be a difficult (but not impossible, given the right circumstances) task, but her being "back in the game" means the game is better for it. Hmmm, given those parameters, she favorably compares in many ways to Andy Roddick on the ATP tour... minus the S.I. swimsuit cover model wife, that is.
8. Justine Henin, BEL
...after a 20-month retirement, she's had more memorable matches than anyone else in '10. She won a few of them, but lost some, too. Until -- or unless -- she finds more consistency in her serve and sometimes-drifting tactical gameplan, she'll continue to fill both sides of the LPT 2.0 success scale. It's hard to believe she won't work hard enough to eventually find it. That brilliantly-played 3rd set against Wozniacki in the Miami QF should be a template for the future.
9. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
...she obviously was playing on some added adrenaline at the start of the season (uh-oh, hopefully the WADA won't get any wrong ideas about THAT), winning a title, reeling off eleven straight wins and reaching the AO Round of 16 in the immediate afterglow of her reinstatement. But make no mistake, the talent is there for there to be THREE Belgians challenging for Top 10 status by season's end.
10. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
...she's been close to a breakthrough since early last year, and it finally happened in the 1Q with a big comeback win over Clijsters and her first tour singles title. With some fine-tuning and a little bit better fitness, especially considering all the issues her countrywomen are dealing with, Kleybanova could have a shot at being the top-ranked Hordette one year from now.
HM- Italian Fed Cup Team round down, thanks to Madame Butterfly Flavia Pennetta, and two to go to become the first non-Russian Fed Cup repeat champion since 2000.

"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

1.Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
2. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
3. Li Na & Zheng Jie, CHN
4. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
5. Samantha Stosur, AUS
6. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
7. Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA
8. Marion Bartoli, FRA
9. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
10. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
11. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
12. Maria Kirilenko, RUS
13. Shahar Peer, ISR
14. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
15. Alona Bondarenko, UKR
16. Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, CZE
17. Lucie Safarova, CZE
18. Kaia Kanepi, EST
19. Petra Kvitova, CZE
20. Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
HM- Elena Baltacha, GBR & Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP

1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
2. Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
3. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
4. Polona Hercog, SLO
5. Melanie Oudin, USA
6. Regina Kulikova, RUS
7. Stefanie Voegele, SUI
8. Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT
9. Chang Kai-Chen, TPE
10. Channel Simmons, RSA
11. Laura Robson, GBR
12. Kristina Antoniychuk, UKR
13. Ayumi Morita, JPN
14. Tatjana Malek, GER
15. Sharon Fichman, CAN
HM- Varvara Lepchenko, USA & Arina Rodionova, RUS

1. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2. Sloane Stephens, USA
3. Heather Watson, GBR
4. Sachie Ishizu, JPN
5. Tang Hao-Chen, CHN
6. Jana Cepelova, SVK
7. Gabriela Dabrowski, CAN
8. Beatrice Capra, USA
9. Lenka Jurikova, SVK
10. Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR
11. Irina Khromacheva, RUS
12. Yulia Putintseva, RUS
13. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
14. Timea Babos, HUN
15. Daria Gavrilova, RUS
16. An-Sophie Mestach, BEL
17. Silvia Njiric, CRO
18. Ester Goldfeld, USA
19. Caroline Garcia, FRA
20. Agustina Sol Eskenazi, ARG
HM- Grace Min, USA

1. Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT
2. Angelique Kerber, GER
3. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
4. Han Xinyun, CHN
5. Andrea Petkovic, GER
6. Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
7. Valerie Tetreault, CAN
8. Vania King, USA
9. Anastasiya Yakimova, BLR
10. Mariya Koryttseva, UKR
HM- Shenay Perry, USA & Yurika Sema, JPN

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Venus Williams, USA
3. Kim Clijsters, BEL
4. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA
5. Elena Dementieva, RUS
6. Justine Henin, BEL
7. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
8. Samantha Stosur, AUS
9. Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
10. Nadia Petrova, RUS
11. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
12. Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebonik, CZE/SLO
13. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
14. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
15. Nadia Petrova/Samantha Stosur, RUS/AUS
16. Roberta Vinci, ITA
17. Lisa Raymond/Rennae Stubbs, USA/AUS
18. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
19. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
20. Edina Gallovits, ROU
HM- Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA

1. Justine Henin, BEL
2. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
3. Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
4. Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
5. Lisa Raymond/Rennae Stubbs, USA/AUS
6. Agnes Szavay, HUN
7. Alicia Molik, AUS
8. Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
9. Sofia Arvidsson, SWE
10. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
11. Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
12. Anne Keothavong, GBR
13. Arantxa Parra-Santonja, ESP
14. Laura Pous Tio, ESP
15. Alize Cornet, FRA
HM- Elena Bovina, RUS & Anna Tatishvili, GEO

1. Dinara Safina, RUS
2. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
3. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
4. Sabine Lisicki, GER
5. Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
6. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
7. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
8. Chinese Fed Cup Team
9. Jelena Dokic, AUS
10. Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR

1. Williams/Williams, USA
2. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
3. Dulko/Pennetta, ARG/ITA
3. Peschke/Srebonik, CZE/SLO
4. Llagostera-Vives/Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
5. Black/Huber, ZIM/USA
6. Petrova/Stosur, RUS/AUS
7. Iveta Benesova, CZE
8. Lisa Raymond, USA
9. Hlavackova/Hradecka, CZE
10. Chan/Zheng, TPE/CHN

1. Johanna Larsson, SWE
2. Anna Lapushchenkova, RUS
3. Evelyn Mayr, ITA
4. Olivia Sanchez, FRA
5. Zhou Yi-Miao, CHN
6. Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
7. Zhang Shuai, CHN
8. Natalie Piquion, FRA
9. Julia Mayr, ITA
10. Alize Lim, FRA
11. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
12. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
13. Valentyna Ivakhnenko, UKR
14. Romina Oprandi, ITA
15. Giulia Gatto-Monticone, ITA
HM- Jarmila Groth, AUS & Abigail Spears, USA

1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova/Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
4. Melanie Oudin, USA
5. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
HM- Johanna Larsson, SWE & Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN

"I'd say that was a real 'G Moment'." - Serena Williams, getting in a word for her sponsor Gatorade during the Australian Open post-match ceremony

Serena Williams wins her fifth Australian Open title, coming back from the brink of defeat to do it (again)
Venus Williams wins titles on two surfaces and two continents in back-to-back weeks in Dubai and Acapulco, claims the Madison Square Garden exhibition in New York a few days later, and then reaches the Miami final a few weeks after that.
Flavia Pennetta, rallying the team from an early deficit against Ukraine, keeps Team Italia on course for a Fed Cup repeat
The Williams Sisters win the Australian Open doubles, giving the pair four of the last five slam championships (and eleven overall)
Jelena Jankovic surges back at Indian Wells, employing her old defensive gameplan with some aggressive tactics throw in for added panache to grab her first title since the summer of last year

"As long as I'm playing great, I'm not putting a number on it yet." - Venus Williams, on how long she intends to remain on tour

Australian Open 3rd Rd - Petrova d. Clijsters
In fifty-two minutes, the Belgian suffered the worst loss of her career. She had just five winners for the match.
Playing with just three players -- none of them named Zheng, Li or Peng -- China goes down to the Slovak Republic in the Fed Cup World Group II Playoffs one week after the nation placed two players in the Australian Open semfiinals.

"It sucks." - Kim Clijsters, on how it felt to notch just one game against Nadia Petrova in her shocking 3rd Round AO loss

[LPT 2.0 X 2]
Brisbane Final - Clijsters d. Henin
Right out of the box, the Belgians gave us something memorable. Clijsters raced to a 6-3/4-1 lead with near-brilliant shotmaking, only to see "Easy-Bake Kim" return as Henin won eight straight games and took a 3-0 lead in the 3rd. Henin served at 5-3 in the set, and held two match points at 5-4, but couldn't close things out. In the tie-break, Clijsters led 4-0 and 6-3, only to see Henin knot things at 6-6 (virtually the same thing happened in a 3rd set tie-break when the two met in the Miami SF three months later). Henin's eleventh double-fault of the match gave Clijsters her fourth match point, and moments later she drew first blood in this 2.0 rivalry. Then she pulled the grandstanding move of publicly donating all her prize money in the post-match ceremony... ironically upstaging herself even while she basked in the cheer-me-or-you're-all-heartless-swine approach to garnering adoration.
Australian Open 2nd Rd - Henin d. Dementieva
Dementieva held set points in both sets, but the newly-aggressive Henin game overcame her bad 1st serve percentage as she put away the win with a serve-and-volley move on match point. The 1st set alone lasted 1:23 of the 2:50 two-setter. If it'd gone three sets, this might have turned out to be an early-round slam classic. It'll just have to settle for going down as one of the best early-round slam matchups in recent memory.

[For History's Sake]
Australian Open 1st Round - Zahlavova-Strycova d. Kulikova
At 4:18, the longest women's match in AO history.
[For Queen Chaos' Sake...and our's]
Indian Wells 3rd Rd - Jankovic d. Errani
Down 6-2/4-2 and love/40 on her own serve, JJ saved four break points and pushed the 2nd set to a tie-break. She blew a 5-1 lead there, but managed to knot the match by taking the set. After winning a close 3rd, she went on to win the biggest tournament crown of her career four matches later.

"You know that little voice we all have 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, talking about watching Roger Federer win his first Roland Garros title in 2009

Australian Open QF - S.Williams d. Azarenka
A year after being felled by the Aussie heat while leading eventual champ Williams in Melbourne, Azarenka had another chance. She led 6-4/4-0 and served at 5-2 and 5-4. But Serena stormed back to take the 2nd set, then won sixteen of her twenty 3rd set serve points to take the match. The American defended her AO championship a few days later. Hmmm, maybe Azarenka wouldn't have won that '09 match, after all.
Australian Open 3rd Rd - Henin d. Kleybanova
Henin trailed 6-3/3-1 and 15/40 on her own serve, but the heat and the pressure got to the Russian at the worst possible time. Henin held serve, then carved out her first break point chance of the match one game later. The rest was history.
Indian Wells 3rd Rd - Kleybanova d. Clijsters
What Kleybanova had done to her by a Belgian in Oz, she did to another Belgian in California. Clijsters led 3-0 in the 3rd, then 4-0 in the deciding tie-break. But it was the Russian who moved on to the next round.
Sydney SF - S.Williams d. Rezai
Despite losing a 6-3/5-2 lead, and failing to close out things when serving at 5-3, Rezai said she was "not impressed" by Serena. Two weeks later, Serena won the Australian Open. Sometimes it's best to just not say anything.
Australian Open 1st Rd - Kudryavtseva d. Oudin
Beginning the string of revenge-minded Russians who've taken down Oudin in '10 after she took out so many of their countrywomen at last year's U.S. Open, Kudryavtseva came back from a 6-2/5-3 deficit and fought off three Oudin match points en route to victory.

Hammond $25K 1st Rd - Watson d. Vaidisova
The straw the broke Nicole's proverbial back? Soon after losing to the junior star who was barely holding onto a Top 500 WTA ranking, Vaidisova quit the game at age 20.
Indian Wells 2nd Rd - Dulko d. Henin
One of those results that makes Dulko's less successful efforts all the more frustrating.
Australian Open 1st Rd - Kirilenko d. Sharapova
In the 3:22 match, Sharapova led 4-2 and held a point for 5-2, in the 1st. She led 4-2 in the tie-break, too. She eventually regretted that failure to take advantage of her early lead, suffering her earliest slam loss since 2003. This was her first action in Melbourne since winning the title in 2008.
Monterrey 1st Rd - Sevastova d. Jankovic
JJ rebounded quite nicely in Indian Wells, to say the least.
Dubai 3rd Rd - Kulikova d. Kuznetsova
More early evidence that Kuznetsova's head just wasn't in the right place for '10... and now neither is her shoulder. Even the Russian Fed Cup coach can't guilt her into getting healthy.

"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, on the hardly-secret whispers from many corners about how she might have "lost it"... before her back-to-back-to-back run of tour final appearances, that is

Australian Open QF - Li d. V.Williams 2-6/7-6/7-5
Acapulco QF - V.Williams d. Pous Tio 4-6/6-3/7-5
Venus lost a 6-2/5-3 lead and was two points from the AO SF, but lost. A month later, she climbed out of a 5-1 3rd set hole, hitting an ace on her own match point to send her off toward the second leg of her late winter back-to-back title twist.
Australian Open 1st Rd - King d. Cibulkova 6-3/6-7/7-6
Indian Wells 2nd Round - Wozniacki d. King 5-7/6-2/6-4
King won despite being down 5-1 in the 3rd against Cibulkova, then turned around and lost a 4-1 3rd set lead of her own against C-Woz.
Australian Open 2nd Rd - Li d. Szavay 3-6/7-5/6-2
Indian Wells 2nd Rd - Baltacha d. Li 7-6/2-6/7-6
Li saved two match points against Szavay en route to her semifinal in Oz, but blew three match points on HER racket against Baltacha.
Australian Open 4th Rd - Azarenka d. Zvonareva 4-6/6-4/6-0
Miami 4th Rd - Clijsters d. Azarenka 6-4/6-0
after garnering an obscenity warning against Zvonareva, Azarenka centered herself and pulled together a ten-game winnng streak that turned a 6-4/4-2 score in sure-fire loss into an example of what an emotional player can do when she channels her anger just right. But against Clijsters she reverted to old form, falling apart down the stretch and double-faulting on match point. On the bright side, she didn't resort to the tried-and-true Zvonareva tactic of hitting herself in the head with her racket when things went badly.
Antwerp Exhibition - Clijsters d. V.Williams 6-1/7-5
MSG Exhibition - V.Williams d. Clijsters 6-4/3-6/75
Miami Final - Clijsters d. V.Williams 6-2/6-1
the Belgian Barbie said that winning the exhibition in Belgium was "more exciting" than her U.S. Open win. Yeah. Sure, Kim... and you didn't say that because you knew the crowd would HAVE to cheer after you said it, too. Venus won at MSG, coming back from a 4-2 3rd set deficit and punctuating things with a from-the-rafter smash at the net... but she didn't say it was as good as winning Wimbledon. In Miami, Venus hit the physical wall and could offer up only token resistence as her fifteen-match winning streak sputtered to a close in the only of these three matches that ACTUALLY COUNTED. Who said the Tennis Gods don't have a sense of humor?
Australian Open 3rd Rd - Petrova d. Clijsters 6-0/6-1
Miami 3rd Rd - Clijsters d. Peer 6-0/6-1
Kim should have given Peer a share of her prize money.

Tennis Australia decided against giving a wild card into the Australian Open main draw to Top 20 player Yanina Wickmayer because she failed to make the entry deadline when she was temporary suspended by the WADA for failing to report her whereabouts. No matter that the suspension was lifted... or, you know, that she was Top 20 player and semifinalist at the previous slam on the schedule. Thus, she had to make her way through qualifying, putting up four love sets against opponents in three matches. Once safely in the main draw, she upset #12-seeded Flavia Pennetta in the 2nd Round and reached the Round of 16 before losing to Henin.
The WTA continued the practice of waiting until the annual Miami awards ceremony in late March to announce the winners of its 2009 season awards. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense to tell the world that Serena Williams is the Player of the Year for a season that ended four months earlier, nearly a quarter of the way into the next season. Here's a thought: announce the awards in November, then officially hand out the hardware in March, since changing the latter practice is obviously off the table. Soylent Green is still people, ladies and gentlemen.
Of course, if the WTA's awards had been announced in November, it's highly unlikely that Wickmayer would have picked up that Most Improved Player honor she received in March. Even a one-legged Kate Gosselin would take a correct step on the dance floor occasionally, I guess.
For two weeks, the WTA's official website listed Liezel Huber as the sole #1 doubles player in the world. In truth, Cara Black never gave up her share of the top spot... a fact which suddenly "materialized" once again without explanation one day on the "updated" rankings page.
Dinara Safina should have known better than to believe the doctors who said that her back couldn't get any worse if she played Down Under. Ask Maria Sharapova about blindly following medical opinions. That's why there's such a thing as malpractice lawyers. I mean, doctors aren't infallible like the Pope. Of course, neither is the Pope. Which sort of proves my point all over again, huh?

The Australian Open final match-up between Serena Williams and Justine Henin was the first time they'd met in a slam final. Amazingly, after all the weeks both players have spent at #1, it didn't happen until the Belgian didn't even have an official WTA ranking at all (it was only her second event back, and three are needed to get a ranking). Serena wore the combat boots in this one, dominating with her serve and winning in three sets, 6-4/3-6/6-2, to grab her fourth slam title in the last six.

*THE START (or continuation?) OF SOMETHING BIG*
Martina Hingis will make a comeback in World Team Tennis
Sesil Karatantcheva reached the semifinals at Pattaya City, her best-ever tour result
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a former Girls #1 and three-time junior slam champ, won her first tour singles title in Monterrey
Katarina Srebotnik played her first Fed Cup match for Slovenia since 2005, while Kimiko Date-Krumm played her first for Japan since 1996
Laura Pous Tio, back after a suspension for a banned substance in 2008-09, reached the Acapulco final eight, her first tour QF since 2006
In Miami, Ashley Harkleroad returned from her pregnancy leave... but to far less fanfare than a certain Belgian mother did last summer


The WADA tried to get a TWO-year suspension for Yanina Wickmayer when she failed to report her whereabouts as required by the drug testing agency, even though she was very publicly playing in a tour event at the time.
Sania Mirza's first marriage engagement brought all the loonies out of the woodwork
In Auckland, protesters demonstrated against Shahar Peer because of the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians
Ana Ivanovic's swimsuit modeling career took off even while her tennis endeavors continued to falter

A Belgian court issued an injunction that lifted Wickmayer's one-year ban and allowed her to return to the court
Shahar Peer played in Dubai, reaching the semifinals one year after the Debacle. She upset Wickmayer, #1-seed Wozniacki, '09 runner-up Virginie Razzano and Australian Open semifinalist Li. And no hole opened up in the U.A.E. to swallow humanity, either.
Sania Mirza's second marriage engagement brought out more protesters, leading one to simply throw up their hands and learn to live with the fact that some people are going to react disproportionately to any and every reality just because they have nothing else better to do. Apparently, it makes them feel more important if they do.
Hey, so far there's been no Brian/Ken doll in basketball shorts rolling out of the Mattel doll factory. Of course, there's still more than eighteen months before 2012 rolls around.
Queen Chaos reigned in the chaotic Indian Wells main draw. But, despite all evidence to the contrary here and elsewhere, sometimes the end of a calendar is just the end of THAT particular calender... if that wasn't the case, Jelena would have dropped that ginormous trophy and it would have fallen all the way through the earth until it came out of the ground in China and somehow injured Li Na. Oh, wait...

Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva, proving that two heads are indeed better than one... especially when it comes to Hall of Fame voters

To Martina Navratilova

"It is another Justine Henin who will try and go out there and achieve her dream of finally winning Wimbledon." - Justine Henin, helping me end this BSA post the way I began it -- offering up the notion that the best is still yet to come in 2010

Thanks, Justine. All for now.

All right, the "suspension" is back on. You know, for ol' what's-her-name. All is right again in Backspinworld. Whew!


Blogger jo shum said...

hehe tod, i was thinking the same thing of how things have not cleared out by q1....the arguably the best players are somewhat murky in showing their dominant paths, say serena - out injured much more serious than expected as she might have put in her best to stop azarenka and justine from advancing in AO, that left her paralized still. barbie, looked very fit but what exactly is up with her losing in this marbella tournament to a world ranked 200 something qualifier! i guess this is only a blip of change of surface, but then how many blips already in alternate tournaments (AO, IW and Marbella)?! justine, justine, well we need mighty more patience to recover heart attacks from her erratic games until she gets the clicks together. venus though, that bombed out at miami is really wiping out the perception she built in her last 2 tournaments, it is like right back to the performance of AO.... so what do we get, a bunch of potential best players in the field but yet to shine brightly, and a bunch of young and old ones trying to breakthrough but unfortunately just not good enough. sigh what a state of WTA, can't wait until the end of q2 after french open where dusts will get settled. hehe.

Fri Apr 09, 11:10:00 AM EDT  
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Sat Apr 10, 02:04:00 AM EDT  

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