Wk.41- Everything Old is New Again
Everything "old" was new again in Week 41, which was about climbing back and refusing to stop climbing.
In Linz, Ana Ivanovic, who was a slam champion and the #1-player in the world only two years ago (though it seems so much longer), once again showed signs that she might finaly be emerging from her career's twenty-eight month mostly-bad results stall-out. Any win of any kind is a good thing for a player who has battled confidence issues ever since she reached a place in her career when her confidence SHOULD have been at an all-time high. Winning a singles title in Austria, which AnaIvo did on Sunday, should provide the Serb with an even bigger sense of accomplishment, proving that all her coaching decisions and stop-and-starts of the past year or so have been worth it.
But, then again, how do we know?
After all, the last time Ivanovic won a title was two years ago. She won it in Linz, too. So, is this really some sort of resurgence, or simply a case of a player finding their comfort zone in a place where she's previously had success, and that single result might not mean a thing once she escapes over the Austrian border? At the very least, AnaIvo has shown that indoors in Linz she's able to block out all the white noise that has surrounded her since the spring of '08. When -- and if -- she can prove it somewhere else, though, is when we'll know whether this particular title means anything other than being a one-line entry in her career bio.
Meanwhile, in Osaka, the lionesses of Asian tennis, doubles partners at this year's Wimbledon, faced off in singles for the third time in three seasons to decide which player would become the oldest WTA singles champion of 2010. AnaIvo might still be struggling to learn how to successfully exist on tour at age 22, but she need only look to 33-year old Tamarine Tanasugarn and 40-year old Kimiko Date-Krumm to see that there IS indeed a knack to it.
After returning to the tour two seasons ago and winning a WTA title in Seoul at age 39, Japan's Date-Krumm was looking to make an even more indelible mark in the tour's record book this weekend by becoming the WTA's first over-40 singles champion. But she was prevented from doing so by Tanasugarn. The Thai vet, too, knows a thing or two about late-career success. She's now won four career singles titles, but three of them have come since she celebrated her thirtieth birthday. In 2008, she reached her first and only slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. Generally seen in recent years as a grass court specialist, her hard court crown in Osaka was her first non-grass tour win she was victorious in Hyderabad back in 2003.
Tanasugarn was but a young whippersnapper of twenty-five back then, nearly three years older than AnaIvo is now. In other words, no matter what happens next for Ivanovic, she still has a lot of time to learn how to do things right.
Of course, that doesn't mean that she shouldn't use that time wisely.
*WEEK 41 CHAMPIONS*
LINZ, AUSTRIA (Int'l $220K/hard indoor)
S: Ana Ivanovic def. Patty Schnyder 6-1/6-2
D: Voracova/Zahlavova-Strycova d. Peschke/Srebotnik
OSAKA, JAPAN (Int'l $220K/hard outdoor)
S: Tamarine Tanasguarn def. Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-5/6-7/1-6
D: Chang/Osterloh d. Aoyama/Fujiwara
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ana Ivanovic/SRB
...after following up her QF result in Beijing (wins over Bartoli and Dementieva) with a title run in Linz (def. Cirstea, Zahlavova-Strycova, Goerges, Vinci & Schnyder), there IS reason for optimism when it comes to AnaIvo's attempts to work her back from her post-#1 nosedive. She's back in the Top 30, and should be seeded at the Australian Open come January. There's no reason career title #9 shouldn't be joined by many more in the next few seasons. The Serb is still a few weeks away from her 23rd birthday, and she should be about to enter the prime contending years of her career with her head held high. We figured at the time that her Roland Garros title and #1 ranking came a bit earlier than expected. Now it's up to Ivanovic to prove that that WAS the case, plain and simple, and that her first taste of incredible success won't also be her last.
RISERS: Shahar Peer/ISR & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE
...after an oft-rocky '09, Peer has proven to once again be one of the more consistent players on tour in '10. Her semifinal berth in Osaka was her seventh this season, good for sole posession of second place on the season's leader list behind Caroline Wozniacki. Problem is, she's only 1-6 in those final four matches. In Linz, Zahlavova-Strycova grabbed her fifth doubles title of the season (only Gisela Dulko has more), and did it with a third different partner. After previously celebrating with Iveta Benesova and Polona Hercog, she split her latest winner's check with countrywoman Renata Voracova.
SURPRISES: Chang Kai-Chen/TPE & Roxane Vaisemberg/BRA
...a year ago, Chang made something of a name for herself in the latter part of the year, qualifying at the U.S. Open and knocking off the first seed (Kaia Kanepi) to fall at Flushing Meadows. Weeks later in Tokyo, she defeated Kanepi again and, as the world #132, took down then-#1 ranked Dinara Safina. Her leaps-and-bounds improvement hasn't been a weekly thing this season, but she showed she has indeed progressed last week in Osaka. In singles, she reached the QF with wins over Lilia Osterloh and Maria Kirilenko, then won her first career tour title when she and Osterloh teamed to claim the doubles. On the ITF circuit, Brazil's Vaisemberg won her fourth singles title of the season in Sao Paolo, defeating Argentina's Catalina Pella in the final. Vaisemberg has reached seven challenger finals this season, just one behind Romina Oprandi's current season-leading total of eight.
COMEBACKS: Tamarine Tanasugarn/THA & Eleni Daniilidou/GRE
...nearly two months ago, when the 33-year old Tanasugarn lost in the 1st Round of a $25K challenger event in Japan to young Thai player Nungnadda Wannasuk, one wondered if the end might be near for the greatest female tennis player in the history of Thailand. But hold on. Five weeks ago, the veteran won a $25K challenger title. Then, last week, she just went absolutely nuts in Osaka. She defeated a slew of youngsters (Magdalena Rybarikova, Coco Vandeweghe, Chang Kai-Chen), a Top 20er (Marion Bartoli) and one of the few players on tour actually older than herself (Kimiko Date-Krumm) to win her fourth career tour singles title. After what had been a four-season drought from 2004-07, she's now won at least one title in each of the last three seasons, making her one of only nine women to currently be able to speak of such championship-winning consistency. In Linz, Greece's Daniilidou continued what had before been her recent ITF-based mini-resurgence (she was a $50K in Athens the first week of October) by qualifying to reach only her third tour main draw of '10 (defeating Sorana Cirstea to get there). Once there, she upset Dominika Cibulkova and Sybille Bammer. They were her first tour victories since March '08 in Indian Wells, and they placed her in her first WTA QF since she won a title via walkover against Vera Zvonareva in Hobart in January '08. This weekend in Luxembourg, she knocked off '09 finalist Sabine Lisicki in straight sets in the qualifying rounds, though she failed to make it through to the main draw today, losing to Ivana Lisjak.
VETERANS: Kimiko Date-Krumm/JPN & Patty Schnyder/SUI
...Date-Krumm's comeback has found footing elsewhere over the last couple of years, but it has found its true footing in Asia. A year ago, at age 39, she won her first tour title in thirteen years in Seoul. Last week in Osaka, she was at it again. She notched wins over Laura Robson, Aiko Nakamura, defending champion Sam Stosur (becoming the only woman in '10 to knock off the defending champ at a WTA event on two different occasions during the season) and Shahar Peer to reach the final. If she'd defeated Tanasugarn, she'd have become the first fortysomething to ever win a WTA singles title (her win in Seoul already made her the second-oldest tour champ in history). Alas, that'll probably have to wait until 2011. Meanwhile, Schnyder continues to refuse to fade away. She hasn't won a tour title since September '08, but she's managed to reach three finals over the last two seasons even while hardly making the on-court (and off) splash she used to on the WTA landscape. Last week in Linz, she reached her second singles final of '10 (Budapest in July) with a string of good wins over the likes of Gisela Dulko, Klara Zakopalova, Daniela Hantuchova and Andrea Petkovic before finally going down at the hands of Ivanovic on Sunday.
FRESH FACES: Rebecca Marino/CAN & Alison Riske/USA
...in Week 38, Marino defeated Riske in a tight three-set final in a $50K challenger in Saguenay in Marino's native Canada. Since then, neither player has lost a match, going a combined 20-0. Two weeks after their Canadian meeting, Riske claimed a $75K event. This past week, both put away $50K titles. Marino grabbed her third challenger crown in a row (all since her eye-opening U.S. Open loss to Venus Williams), winning the Troy $50K in Alabama, defeating Ashley Weinhold in the final to run her winning streak to fifteen matches; while Riske won in the $50K Joue-les-Tours event, taking out Vesna Manasieva in the deciding match. Might these two young hard-hitters (Marino is 19, Riske 20) be the two players to keep the closest eye on next season amongst the burgeoning group of up-and-coming North Americans?
DOWN: Samantha Stosur/AUS
...Stosur's road to her first WTA title finally reached its destination one year ago when the Aussie won her maiden crown in Osaka (defeating Francesca Schiavone in the final). This year, though, she turned down a dead end alley, likely because of the local "directions" of Date-Krumm, her Japanese quarterfinal conqueror this time around. The loss continues the decline of Stosur's results since she reached and lost the Roland Garros final to Schiavone. Before that slam final, Stosur was on a 27-4 run and had wins over Serena Williams and Justine Henin. From the RG loss on, she's a very uninspiring 13-10, and is just 2-3 in the season's 4th Quarter.
ITF PLAYER: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL
...after such a quick start in '10 after her "suspension," Wickmayer has sort of drifted from the spotlight. For the first time since her nine-month old title-winning turn in Auckland, though, the Belgian finally won something again, as in the $100K challenger event held in Torhout, Belgium. There, Wickmayer got early wins over Urszula Radwanska, Pauline Parmentier and Andrea Hlavackova before defeating Simona Halep 6-3/6-2 in the final. A single title wasn't enough for Wickmayer, though. She and Michaella Krajicek also won the doubles.
JUNIOR STAR: Madison Keys/USA
...the 15-year old claimed the title at the Pan American Closed Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The hard-serving American defeated Kyle McPhilips and Lauren Davis before defeating Christina Makarova 6-2/6-1 in the final. Keys also won the doubles with Annie Mulholland.
1. Osaka Final - Tanasugarn d. Date-Krumm
...7-5/6-7/6-1. Tanasugarn's title makes Thailand the twenty-first different nation to produce a WTA singles champion this season, one more than the twenty champion nations of 2009.
2. Osaka 1st Rd - Date-Krumm d. Robson
...6-3/6-3. Kirilenko touched both ends of the age spectrum in Osaka, opening with a win over the 16-year old Robson before closing out her week by playing a final where the combined age of both players was seventy-three.
3. Linz Final - Ivanovic d. Schnyder
...6-1/6-2. Will AnaIvo not lift another title until Linz '12? Will she better time her bathroom break so that she isn't docked points for taking too long? These are the questions we ponder.
4. Linz 1st Rd - Kvitova d. Rodionova
...6-2/1-0 ret. Rodionova was one of the few things that DIDN'T break down at the Commonwealth Games site in Delhi. She wasn't able to make it through her first post-Gold medal match in Austria, though.
5. Osaka 1st Rd - Brianti d. Morita
...7-5/3-6/6-4. The previous week, Morita had beaten Brianti en route to winning a $100K challenger title in Tokyo.
HM- $50K Joue-les-Tours 2nd Rd - Jelena Dokic d. Karolina Pliskova
...4-6/6-3/6-3. After double-bageling her 1st Round opponent to notch her first singles victory since her pre-U.S. Open three straight ITF tournament title run, Dokic got another over the Czech teen. Dokic ultimately reached the semifinals, losing to Vesna Manasieva in three sets.
**OLDEST 2010 WTA CHAMPIONS**
33y,4m,3w - TAMARINE TANASUGARN, THA (OSAKA)
29y,11m,1w - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Roland Garros)
29y,9m,3w - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Barcelona)
29y,8m,2w - Venus Williams, USA (Acapulco)
29y,8m,1w - Venus Williams, USA (Dubai)
**MOST 2010 WTA SEMIFINALS**
9...Caroline Wozniacki (7-2)
7...SHAHAR PEER (1-6)
6...Vera Zvonareva (6-0)
6...Elena Dementieva (4-2)
6...Samantha Stosur (3-3)
6...Victoria Azarenka (3-3)
6...Flavia Pennetta (3-3)
**WORST WINNING PCT. in 2010 FINALS - 2+ FINALS**
.000 - PATTY SCHNYDER (0-2)
.000 - Elena Vesnina (0-2)
.000 - Klara Zakopalova (0-2)
.167 - Vera Zvonareva (1-5)
.333 - Victoria Azarenka (1-2)
.333 - Flavia Pennetta (1-2)
.333 - Samantha Stosur (1-2)
**2010 - DEFEATED TOP SEED & DEFENDING CHAMP, DIDN'T WIN TITLE**
Eastbourne - Aravane Rezai (1st Rd. def. Wozniacki, reached 2nd Rd.)
Bad Gastein - Alize Cornet (2nd Rd. def. Petkovic, reached SF)
Cincinnati - Akgul Amanmuradova (3rd Rd. def. Jankovic, reached QF)
OSAKA - KIMIKO DATE-KRUMM (QF def. STOSUR, REACHED FINAL)
**CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH SINGLES TITLE**
8 years - Maria Sharapova, 2003-10
5 years - Elena Dementeiva, 2006-10
4 years - Jelena Jankovic, 2007-10
4 years - Flavia Pennetta, 2007-10
4 years - Serena Williams, 2007-10
4 years - Venus Williams, 2007-10
3 years - TAMARINE TANASUGARN, 2007-10
3 years - Caroline Wozniacki, 2008-10
3 years - Vera Zvonareva, 2008-10
ALSO: Medina-Garrigues has 6-year streak, 2004-09
**2010 - WTA TITLES BY NATION**
**NINE CAREER TITLES - ACTIVE**
ANA IVANOVIC, SRB 
Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP 
Flavia Pennetta, ITA 
Nadia Petrova, RUS 
**2010 - WILD CARD WON WTA TITLE**
Auckland - Yanina Wickmayer, BEL (#3 seed)
Stuttgart - Justine Henin, BEL
Strasbourg - Maria Sharapova, RUS (#1 seed)
Birmingham - Li Na, CHN (#1 seed)
's-Hertogenbosch - Justine Henin, BEL (#1 seed)
Stanford - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (#8 seed)
LINZ - ANA IVANOVIC, SRB (#7 seed)
**WON 2010 ITF & WTA SINGLES TITLES**
Anna Chakvetadze, RUS - 1 ITF & Portoroz WTA
Jarmila Groth, AUS - 1 ITF & Guangzhou WTA
Kaia Kanepi, EST - 2 ITF & Palermo WTA
Tamira Paszek, AUT - 1 ITF & Quebec City WTA
TAMARINE TANASGUARN, THA - 1 ITF & Osaka WTA
YANINA WICKMAYER, BEL - 1 ITF & Auckland WTA
**2010 ITF LEADERS**
8...Romina Oprandi, ITA (4-4)
7...Madalina Gojnea, ROU (6-1)
7...Jamie Hampton, USA (4-3)
7...ROXANE VAISEMBERG, BRA (4-3)
6...Magda Linette, POL (4-2)
6...Olivia Sanchez, FRA (4-2)
6...Johanna Larsson, SWE (3-3)
[titles won by North Americans]
4...Jamie Hampton, USA
3...REBECCA MARINO, CAN
2...Macall Harkins, USA
2...ALISON RISKE, USA
2...Coco Vandeweghe, USA
MOSCOW, RUSSIA (Premer $1m/hard indoor)
09 Final: Schiavone d. Govortsova
10 Top Seeds: Jankovic/Azarenka
#3 Li d. #1 Jankovic
#7 Kleybanova d. Kudryavtseva
#7 Kleybanova d. #3 Li
...this used to be such a big event that was attended by most of the top players. The field for the '10 version of the Kremlin Cup isn't bad, though. Schiavone isn't around to attempt to defend, but with the SEC and Fed Cup final still on her plate (as well a possible "Ms. Backspin" acceptance speech) for this season she's got a good excuse for staying home.
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG (Int'l $220K/hard indoor)
09 Final: Bacsinszky d. Lisicki
10 Top Seeds: Dementieva/Rezai
#4 Ivanovic d. #1 Dementieva
#3 Wickmayer d. Vinci
#3 Wickmayer d. #4 Ivanovic
...can the Belgian end her season the same way she started it, and forget all those mediocre results from February to September?
The "2011 All-Intriguing Team" arrives tomorrow, with the "2010 Regional Honors (with 2011 "Market Tips") coming up later this week. Oh, and happy birthday to Martina Navratilova.
All for now.
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