Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wk.24- Bare Bones Backspin

The fortnight is nigh. Thus, Backspin is bare-boned.


EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND (Premier $600K/grass outdoors)
S: Ekaterina Makarova def. Victoria Azarenka 7-6/6-4
D: Raymond/Stubbs d. Peschke/Srebotnik

's-HERTOGENBOSCH, NETHERLANDS (Int'l $220K/grass outdoors)
S: Justine Henin def. Andrea Petkovic 3-6/6-3/6-4
D: Kudryavtseva/An.Rodionova d. King/Shvedova

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS
all Makarova did last week was qualify to get into the Eastbourne draw, then knock off five Top 20 players (Pennetta, Petrova, Kuznetsova, Stosur and Azarenka) to win her first career title. She's the sixth different Hordette to grab a tour title in 2010, and the third first-timer.
RISER: Victoria Azarenka/BLR & Andrea Petkovic/GER
the two runners-up in this weekend's grass court finals. Petkovic took down the likes of Ana Ivanovic and Kirsten Flipkens en route to the Rosmalen final in 's-Hertogenbosch, then took the first set off Justine Henin in the final. It was the first set the Belgian lost all week, but Petkovic couldn't get another. Azarenka looked great all week. Almost. Healthy, hungry, in control of her emotions and maybe ready for a Wimbledon breakthrough, she was her old promising self in the early rounds. She beat Agnieszka Radwanska, kept her head and didn't squander a match against Barbie that nearly turned into a tightrope walk, and handled Marion Bartoli to reach the final. But there against Makarova, the lower body injuries that dogged her throughout the clay season made a return appearance. She played on, ultimately losing in two close sets, but her mobility was clearly diminished, she was doubling over in pain, had trouble rising from her knees and was visibly frustrated by her inability to continue what had been a great week of play. Her coach essentially just told her to do as well as she could, and not worry about winning. It was a good sign that she didn't become unhinged in the process, but not necessarily a hopeful one right before the start of a slam.
SURPRISE: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
the forgotten Waffle definitely wasn't stale in the Netherlands. A former Wimbledon Girls champ, Flipkens was impressive in dispatching the likes of Vania King, Maria Kirilenko and Dominika Cibulkova to reach the SF. There, she pushed Petkovic to 6-4 in the 3rd, narrowly missing out on making it an all-Belgian final.
COMEBACK: Justine Henin/BEL
Henin didn't have to traverse the tougher Eastbourne draw in her first grass court tournament since 2007, but her Rosmalen run was still impressive. She reached the final without dropping a set, getting wins over Angelique Kerber, Roberta Vinci, Kristina Barrois and Alexandra Dulgheru. In the final, she fell behind Petkovic after losing the opening set, then swept through the German in the next two to win her fourth career grass title (just one behind Venus for the lead amongst active players).
VETERANS: Belgian Barbie/BEL & Lisa Raymond/Rennae Stubbs, USA/AUS
while Henin was playing her first grass court event since 2007, Barbie was in her first since 2006. For a while in Eastbourne, she looked pretty awesome, too, allowing just two games against Yanina Wickmayer and erasing Lucie Safarova to reach the QF. She had her chances there against Azarenka, but the Belarusan played the big points better to win in straights. Still, a good tune-up for SW19. Meanwhile, 36-year old Raymond and 39-year old Stubbs claimed their first title together as a team since they won the same Eastbourne title in 2005. It's their thirty-third title as team. Raymond has now won back-to-back titles this grass season to reach 70 overall for her career, and just moved back into the doubles Top 20. Stubbs now has 60. She's currenlty ranked #7.
FRESH FACES: Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU & Heather Watson/GBR
Romania's Dulgheru continued her breakthrough season, reaching the 's-Hertogenbosch SF with wins over Julie Coin, Alla Kudryavtseva and Yaroslava Shvedova. British teen Watson qualified in Eastbourne with wins over Tsvetana Pironkova and Bojana Jovanovski, then upset Aleksandra Wozniak (a '09 semifinalist) in the 1st Round. She's been given a wild card into the Wimbledon draw, and faces qualifier Romina Oprandi in the 1st Round. If she and #31-seed Dulgheru win their opening matches this week, they'll meet in the 2nd Round.
DOWN: Dinara Safina/RUS & Li Na/CHN
a week after winning in Birmingham, Li retired in her opening match against Elena Baltacha in Eastbourne with a thigh injury after winning the opening set in a tie-break. Typical. Safina withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday, meaning the '09 semifinalist who's already gone from the #1-seed at SW19 a year ago to falling out of the Top 20 will soon take another huge tumble in the rankings. It's time to start to wonder whether we'll ever see her in a meaningful tour match again.
ITF PLAYER: Mathilde Johansson/FRA
the Pastry opened up play in the $25K challenger in Montpellier, France by double-bageling Bianca Botto. She ended it by defeating countrywoman Claire de Gubernatis 5-7/6-4/6-2 in the final to claim the title.
JUNIOR STAR: Elina Svitolina/UKR
two weeks ago, the 15-year old Ukrainian was winning the Roland Garros junior title on red clay. This weekend, she claimed the Gerry Weber title in Halle, Germany on grass. After defeating world Girls #1 Irina Khromacheva in the SF, she took out fellow Ukraine teen Olga Ianchuk 6-4/6-4 in the final. A look at her bio on the ITF junior site turned up a few gems, too. First, she says her favorite surface is grass. Second, she says her tennis ambition is "to win all the slams." Well, after Paris, she looks like she might be able to at least attain HALF of that goal (junior-style) in London two weeks from now.

1. Neth Final - Henin d. Petkovic
Career title #43 ties Henin with Venus and Hingis for tenth place on the all-time WTA career list.
2. East Doub Final - Raymond/Stubbs d. Peschke/Srebotnik
Raymond & Stubbs saved two match points before winning the title, and maybe could give Black & Huber a little hope for the distant future. Former great doubles teams CAN still be great again.
3. East QF - Azarenka d. Barbie
It took Azarenka NINE set points before she finally locked away the 1st set, but SHE DID IT. She fell down a break in the 2nd set, but she got it back and took the set. If she'd lost it, the thought was that the Belgian likely would have found a way to win this. It's a shame that just as Azarenka's emotions are getting under control, her body is failing her.
4. East Final - Makarova d. Azarenka
If Azarenka had won, she'd have tied Natasha Zvereva for the all-time lead in WTA titles won by players from Belarus. Ah, I'm once again a dispenser of a useless tidbit.
5. East 2nd Rd - Kuznetsova d. Cirstea
Hmmm, Kuznetsova saved a match point here. She got a win over Kleybanova and reached the QF, too. Could we finally be seeing signs of life?
6. East 1st Rd - Rezai d. Wozniacki
With C-Woz entering this event as the #1 seed and defending champion, when Rezai retired from her 2nd Round match with MJMS it meant it's the first time in 2010 that a player who defeated the #1 seed/defending champ in an event didn't go on to win it. Useless tidbit #2!! As it turned out, MJMS ended up pulling out of Wimbledon with an injury of her own.
7. Eastbourne 1st Rd - Cirstea d. Schiavone
Francesca isn't through celebrating Roland Garros YET? I guess that's okay.
8. East SF - Makarova d. Stosur
Stosur seemed to be making nice grass court progress up to this point, so the question now will be whether it was enough to get her the sort of momentum that will result in her first result of note at Wimbledon. She DID finally beat Schiavone at something, though -- she moved past her in the latest singles rankings.

**2010 WTA FINALS**
4...Venus Williams (2-2)
3...Elena Dementieva (2-1)
3...Maria Sharapova (2-1)
3...Samantha Stosur (1-2)

3...JUSTINE HENIN (hard/red clay/grass)
3...Maria Sharapova (hard/red clay/grass)
2...Jelena Jankovic (hard/red clay)
2...Flavia Pennetta (hard/red clay)
2...Samantha Stosur (green clay/red clay)
2...Venus Williams (hard/red clay)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (hard/green clay)
2...Vera Zvonareva (hard/green clay)

FEB - Mariana Duque-Marino, COL (age 20) - Bogota
FEB - Alisa Kleybanova, RUS (age 20) - Kuala Lumpur
MAR - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (age 18) - Monterrey
MAY - Anastasiya Sevastova, LAT (age 20) - Estoril

FEB - Sofia Arvidsson, SWE - #102 (Memphis, lost to Sharapova)
MAY - Simona Halep, ROU - #145 (Fes, lost to Benesova)

29...Cara Black/Liezel Huber
20...Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
19...Serena Williams/Venus Williams
11...Yan Zi/Zheng Jie
11...Cara Black/Rennae Stubbs
9...Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez

11...RUSSIA (8-3)
7...BELGIUM (5-2)
6...United States (3-3)
5...Italy (3-2)
3...Australia (1-2)
3...Spain (1-2)
3...BELARUS (0-3)
3...GERMANY (0-3)

It's only hours before the start of Wimbledon. Has your lawn been mowed?

All for now.


Blogger jo shum said...

makarova was impressive. only saw the highlights but she was very much in control and looked very comfortable playing the top players. ranked 100 in the world who won...again the question, is this a true rising star? or WTA tour problem again... guess venus will test her out in her quarter at wimby. while barbie was playing asarenka, i was so sure that asarenka would crack anytime but she really held it together this time. another surprise was to see barbie getting frustrated and hitting her thigh with her racket at one point. so the emotional demon passed on ?

in holland, i watched justine's matches online, she played well througout except the final really. some of the points were painful to watch (mishits, missed forehands etc), she didn't sweep petkovic after 1st set. she played well in 2nd, but had to perform a major comeback in 3rd down 0-3. even i thought errrr, how shameful for an unicef ambassador not winning unicef open. but credit to her, still tough mentally to swing it around, i'd say she won it uglily this time round (which is a virtue i think). :)

Mon Jun 21, 12:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Makarova had some really good moments last year, too. I believe she reached back-to-back finals at one point, but lost them both.

Beating Venus at Wimbledon, though, might be a tall order.

Mon Jun 21, 05:51:00 PM EDT  
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