W.11- To Be or Not To Be LPT? That is the question.
There were no REALLY big deals going on on the courts of the All-England Club today. But that doesn't mean there was no news to kick around. Of course, the biggest occurrence in women's tennis over the last twenty-four hours concerns who WON'T be around for the next couple of months -- Justine Henin.
It turns out that that elbow injury she incurred during her fall against Kim Clijsters was far more serious than anyone anticipated at the time. It surely explains her big drop-off in play during the final two sets. Henin announced on her website that she has a partial ligament fracture and will miss two months, meaning it's highly unlikely that she'll be at the U.S. Open (and if she does show up, she'd have no tune-up events beforehand). Grrrr. Henin's comeback season started off so well back in January, but has been subjected to sputtering fits and starts every since. A good moment has been followed by a bad one, and vice versa. Much like with Clijsters last fall, the best either returning Belgian has been in their 2.0 careeer was during their first month out of retirement. It just goes to show how mentally and physically draining the long haul of a WTA season is. Even the best athletes in the sport have a hard time maintaining the high success level that their talent would suggest if they are forced or decide to step away from the grinding routine for a year or more. It sort of makes what Serena and Venus have done at times in their careers, returning from long periods of inactivity to win slam titles, seem even more remarkable in retrospect. In many ways, though, maybe this break will be good for Henin. To let her body heal, and her mind reassess just what she wants to accomplish -- and how she plans to do it -- in her second go-around. There have been myriad questions about those aspects of her game for the last five months, not to mention precisely WHY she really returned in the first place.
She did it to win Wimbledon, then that wasn't her "ultimate goal." She wanted to be more aggressive and play with her head up and body moving forward, but she's never really seemed to take to the change naturally. Often, she's been seemingly caught in the middle of her old game and her new one, leading her to become tentative, then her mind to "drift" soon after she'd put together an inspired set of play. How does she REALLY want to go about all this? Does she even know? Does she really want to at all? She has to pick a path and go down it at full speed, or this whole second career enterprise is simply an exercise in wasting time.
For Henin to come close to resembling the LPT of the past, in mind and spirit rather than only memory, she has to FULLY commit to a course of action just as she did in the past. Truthfully, I'm not sure that she's capable of that. There's been little evidence of it in 2010 outside of her first few weeks of action. She said at the start that she wanted to do things "differently" this time around. To enjoy it more. To appreciate things. To share the experience. Well, how's that gone so far? Somehow, I doubt that losing with a smile is better than winning with a "scowl," or at least any sort of expression that would be considered "unClijstersarian." I figured that the offseason was going to finally give her the chance to produce her own internal State of Justine report, then react accordingly in 2011. But maybe now she'll get a head start on the details.
Her '10 slam chances look to be over. But she can still qualify for the WTA Championships, so consider that her new target. She's recently been quick to call this a "transition year" once it became obvious that she wasn't going to simply pick up where she left off when she retired as the #1-ranked player in the world. Rather than get better as the year has progressed, she's seemed to regress instead. At least the layoff will force her to make some tough decisions.
Thus, everyone waits to find out what she decides to do, and how.
=DAY 11 NOTES=
...Serena Williams will now replace Henin in that exhibition match in Brussels in a few weeks, joining Clijsters in the event that will attempt to break the attendence record for a tennis event.
...it'll be Rafael Nadal, riding a thirteen-match Wimbledon winning streak, against Tomas Berdych in the Men's final. Berdych defeated Novak Djokovic in straights sets, 6-3/7-6/6-3; while Nadal took out Andy Murray (the Queen breathes a sigh of relief, I expect... she won't have to even think about being forced to sit and watch tennis for three hours on Sunday now) 6-4/7-6/6-4. So, Fred Perry remains the last British man to win a slam title, in 1932.
If Berdych wins the title, he'll be the fourth consecutive different men's slam singles champ (after Juan Martin del Potro at the '09 U.S., Roger Federer in Australia and Nadal in Paris). Either Federer or Nadal have won nineteen of the last twenty-one slams, and twenty-one of twenty-four. The last time four different men won four consecutive slams was 2002-03, when eight straight slams were won by eight different players: Thomas Johansson ('02 AO), Albert Costa ('02 RG), Lleyton Hewitt ('02 WI), Pete Sampras ('02 US), Andre Agassi ('03 AO), Juan Carlos Ferrero ('03 RG), Roger Federer ('03 WI) and Andy Roddick ('03 US).
The last such stretch for the women came in 2007-08, when five slams were divided amongst five players: Justine Henin ('07 US), Maria Sharapova ('08 AO), Ana Ivanovic ('08 RG), Venus Williams ('08 WI) and Serena Williams ('08 US).
...all in all, it was a pretty awful day for the Brits. Murray lost in the Men's semis. Also, Laura Robson was defeated by Sachie Ishizu in the Girls semis, as was Oliver Golding in the Boys' final four. At least Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson, as well as Lewis Burton and George Morgan, advanced to the Boys Doubles SF.
...in the other Girls SF, Kristyna Pliskova advanced to her first junior slam final, defeating Yulia Putintseva. Her sister Karolina won the Australian Open Girls crown in January. No sisters have ever won junior slams in the same season. Ishizu will be trying to become the first Japanese girl to lift a major crown since 1969.
The Boys final will pit Australian qualifier Benjamin Mitchell against #13-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
...the Women's Doubles champs will be one of two unseeded teams, as Elena Vesnina & Vera Zvonareva followed up their upset of the Williams Sisters by knocking off #4 Dulko/Pennetta. They'll face Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova, who defeated #2 Huber/Mattek-Sands, in the final. Meanwhile, Cara Black (with Leander Paes) will be going after her fifth overall Wimbledon title (3 D/1 M) in the Mixed Doubles final against Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie.
...and, finally, in the comments section the other day it was wondered whether any player had ever defeated the Williams Sisters in doubles AND one of them in singles in the same slam event, a feat which Vera Zvonareva could pull off with a win in the final over Serena (after she and Vesnina beat the Sisters in the Doubles QF). Well, from what I can tell (and it's possible I missed one, but I don't think so), it HAS happened before. Once. Though there was another "sort of" situation, as well. The one instance that fits the bill:
--> at the 1999 Australian Open, Lindsay Davenport defeated Venus in the singles QF, and she and Natasha Zvereva defeated Venus & Serena in the Doubles SF.
The "close" one:
--> at the 1999 WImbledon, Steffi Graf defeated Venus in the singles QF, and teamed with John McEnroe to take out Venus and Justin Gimelstob in the Mixed Doubles QF. So, BOTH of the Williamses weren't involved here.
So, needless to say, Vera has history working against her. She wouldn't be the first to gets wins over a Sister in both singles and doubles in the same slam, but if she defeats Serena AND wins the Doubles title, too, she'd be the first to ever go through a Williams to win two championships at the same slam event, as Davenport didn't win either title in Melbourne in '99.
*2010 WTA FINALS*
4...Venus Williams (2-2)
4...Justine Henin (2-2)
3...SERENA WILLIAMS (1-1)
3...Maria Sharapova (2-1)
3...Elena Dementieva (2-1)
3...VERA ZVONAREVA (1-1)
3...Samantha Stosur (1-2)
*CAREER WIMBLEDON TITLES - ACTIVE*
9...Venus Williams, USA [5-4-0]
8...Serena Williams, USA [3-4-1]
4...Cara Black, ZIM [0-3-1]
2...Lindsay Davenport, USA [1-1-0]
2...Liezel Huber, USA [0-2-0]
2...Lisa Raymond, USA [0-1-1]
2...Rennae Stubbs, AUS [0-2-0]
1...Kim Clijsters, BEL [0-1-0]
1...Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER [0-0-1]
1...Daniela Hantuchova, SVK [0-0-1]
1...Jelena Jankovic, SRB [0-0-1]
1...Maria Sharapova, RUS [1-0-0]
1...Samantha Stosur, AUS [0-0-1]
1...Yan Zi, CHN [0-1-0]
1...Zheng Jie, CHN [0-1-0]
1...Vera Zvonareva, RUS [0-0-1]
*LOWEST-SEEDED WIMBLEDON FINALISTS - OPEN ERA*
unseeded - Judy Tegart (1968)
#23 - Venus Williams (2007) (W)
#21 - VERA ZVONAREVA (2010)
#18 - Marion Bartoil (2007)
#16 - Nathalie Tauziat (1998)
#14 - Venus Williams (2005) (W)
#13 - Maria Sharapova (2004) (W)
*MOST SLAMS BEFORE FIRST TITLE*
45 - Jana Novotna (1998 Wimbledon)
39 - Francesca Schiavone (2010 Roland Garros)
31 - Amelie Mauresmo (2006 Australian Open)
=[Vera Zvonareva in 30th slam]=
29 - Jennifer Capriati (2001 Australian Open)
*2010 JUNIOR SLAM FINALS*
AO: Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Laura Robson/GBR
RG: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Ons Jabeur/TUN
WI: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE vs. Sachie Ishizu/JPN
AO: Jana Cepelova/Chantal Skalmova (SVK/SVK) def. Timea Babos/Gabriela Dabrowski (HUN/CAN)
RG: Timea Babos/Sloane Stephens (HUN/USA) def. Laura Arruabarrena-Vecino/Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP/ESP)
*WOMEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#1 Serena Williams/USA vs. #21 Vera Zvonareva/RUS
*MEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#12 Tomas Berdych/CZE vs .vs. #2 Rafael Nadal/ESP
*WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#12 Vesnina/Zvonareva (RUS/RUS) vs. King/Shvedova (USA/KAZ)
*MEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
#16 Lindstedt/Tecau (SWE/ROU) vs. Melzer/Petzschner (AUT/GER)
*MIXED DOUBLES FINAL*
#11 Raymond/Moodie (USA/RSA) vs. #2 Black/Paes (ZIM/IND)
*GIRLS SINGLES FINAL*
#9 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE vs. #10 Sachie Ishizu/JPN
*BOYS SINGLES FINAL*
(Q) Benjamin Mitchell/AUS vs. #13 Marton Fucsovics/HUN
*GIRLS DOUBLES QF*
#1 Khromacheva/Svitolina (RUS/UKR) vs. Allertova/Butkovska (CZE/SVK)
#3 Jabeur/Puig (TUN/PUR) vs. #7 Kolar/Skamlova (SLO/SVK)
#6 Mestach/Njiric (BEL/CRO) vs. #4 Babos/Stephens (HUN/USA)
#5 Cepede Royg/Dinu (PAR/ROU) vs. #2 Pliskova/Pliskova (CZE/CZE)
*BOYS DOUBLES SF*
Burton/Morgan (GBR/GBR) vs. #5 Heller/Kraweitz (GER/GER)
Broady/Farquharson (GBR/GBR) vs. Biryukov/Rumyantsev (RUS/RUS)
TOP QUALIFIER: #1q Kaia Kanepi/EST
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Venus Williams/USA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #1 Serena Williams/USA
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): xxx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Junri Namigata/JPN def. Karolina Pliskova/CZE 6-2/4-6/14-12
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - #24 Daniela Hantuchova/SVK def. Vania King/USA 6-7/7-6/6-3
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - Petra Kvitova/CZE def. (Q)Kaia Kanepi/EST 4-6/7-6/8-6
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F): xxx
FIRST WINNER: Chan Yung-Jan/TPE (def. Patty Schnyder/SUI)
FIRST SEED OUT: #5 Francesca Schiavone (1st Rd. - lost to Vera Dushevina/RUS)
UPSET QUEENS: Czechs
REVELATION LADIES: Romanians
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Kaia Kanepi/EST (to QF)
IT GIRL: Petra Kvitova/CZE
MS. OPPORTUNITY: Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL
COMEBACK PLAYER: Vera Zvonareva/RUS
CRASH & BURN: Francesca Schiavone/ITA & Samantha Stosur/AUS (RG finalists, both lost in 1st Rd.)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Petra Kvitova/CZE (down 5 MP, and 0-4 in 3rd, to Kaia Kanepi/EST in QF; won 8-6)
LAST BRIT STANDING: Heather Watson/GBR (last of six to lose in 1st Rd.)
DOUBLES STAR xxx
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: xxx
All for Day 11. More tomorrow.