Saturday, January 01, 2011

Odds & Ends Between Brisbane and Miami

The opening weeks of a new year often casually reveal a slew of clues about the upcoming WTA season.

The Dorothy Tour and the entire 1st Quarter of the WTA season can be the start of something big for players who get off on the right foot, as early-season good tidings can change a player's entire seasonal outlook, while out-of-the-box missteps can immediately turn a young campaign into an uphill trek that a player's initial misgivings might effectively judge as a losing battle seemingly before the fighting has barely started.

One year ago, players such as Mariana Duque-Marino, Alisa Kleybanova and Anastastia Pavlyuchenkova rode 1Q maiden tour titles to the seasons of their young careers. In Fed Cup, Flavia Pennetta rescued Team Italia from a 0-1 deficit in a 1st Round tie against Ukraine, knotting things up by winning Match #2 and sending herself and her teammates on to their third FC championship in five years. In Melbourne, Karolina Pliskova won the Australian Open Girls title, paving the way for her sister to make history in London during the summer as they became the first siblings to ever lift junior slam crowns in the same season. Meanwhile, for the second straight year, Victoria Azarenka seemed well on her way to a huge upset of Serena Williams at the Australian Open (she led 6-4/4-0), only to stumble and lose. Again, Williams went on to win the title; while the Belarusan, though she's made continual strides (she's tied for third on tour in total titles won over the past two seasons, behind only Wozniacki and Clijsters), went on to complete another year in which she finds herself on the proverbial "outside looking in" at the game's elite, leavng many to wonder if she will ever have a breakthrough and join the slam-contending contingent on tour. She'll get another chance to raise her game Down Under later this month.

Who'll be looking to reverse trends, pick up steam, or just simply survive to play another day during this opening stanza of 2011? Here are a few ideas for the goal-oriented between Brisbane and Miami:

**MOST IMPORTANT**
[1Q]
Vera Zvonareva, RUS: the Russian's potential path to the #1 ranking begins in the 1st Quarter. With both Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up points in her column until July, and with only a single small tournament title (Pattaya City) to defend, the world #2 could very well see herself at the top of the WTA singles rankings in the first half of this season after missing out on a chance to steal away the year-end #1 spot from Caroline Wozniacki at the Tour Championships. A good opening few months of '11, especially if the Dane has her customary slow start, might be the recipe by which Zvonareva can cook up even more success.

Russian and U.S. Fed Cup Teams: the Italians have ruled the Fed Cup roost in recent seasons, and very well could again. But in the 1st Round in February, it'll be the Russians and Americans in the spotlight. Before Team Italia's rise, the Russians were the dominant FC nation, winning four of five titles from 2004-08. With the likes of "big guns" Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova scheduled to play in the opening round tie against France, no excuses will be accepted. If the Hordettes win there, the two-time defending champion Italians (vs. Australia in 1st Rd.) could be waiting in the semis. As for Mary Joe Fernandez's Bannerettes, surprise finalists the last two years... well, they'll be staring down their fate early this time around in the form of a Belgian team that could feature one or both of the two-headed Henin/Clijsters monster on home turf in Belgium. Venus Willliams has said that she intends to play in that 1st Round tie... and MJF has to surely be hoping she makes the date, as well.

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Ana Ivanovic, SRB: a former Oz runner-up (2008), Ivanovic finally managed to climb back into the Top 20 as '10 came to a close after she won titles in Linz and Bali in the season's final weeks as her work with Heinz Gunthardt produced big dividends. With Gunthardt not intending to serve as a full-time coach for the Serb in '11, it'll be up to AnaIvo to carry over her momentum on her own. A SF-or-better result in the season's first slam, which would be her first since she won in Paris in '08, would certainly seem to bode well for a huge comeback in the coming season.

Victoria Azarenka, BLR: the last two years in Melbourne, Azarenka looked ready to topple Serena Williams. But in 2009 she succumbed to the heat before she could down the American, and then in '10 she simply succumbed to the force that is Serena, blowing a 6-4/4-0 lead as Williams won her second of back-to-back Australian Open titles. Well, Serena won't be in Oz this year. Vika... it's your move.

Jelena Jankovic, SRB: it'd be easy to say it's time to close the book on JJ's chances to win a slam, as her short window for a championship likely closed during those few months in '09 when Clijsters returned from retirement and Henin announced her intentions to do so. Ah, but hold on one minute. The Serb suffered through a string of nagging injuries last season, and was never at full strength over the last half of the season -- so she'll probably arrive in Oz in better physical condition than she's been in quite some time. With no Aussie Open Queen Serena to contend with, EVERY player's chances to win are better, and Queen Chaos is no exception. With a little luck, maybe something wild COULD happen Down Under. Hey, no one ever thought Schiavone was going to win in Paris when last season began, right?



**LEAST IMPORTANT**
...obviously, a player would never turn her back on a good start, but a few top players might have something in their pockets for later in the year should their '11 campaigns stumble out of the gate.

[1Q]
Kim Clijsters, BEL: sure, Clijsters opened '10 by winning Brisbane, and then won a 1Q-closing title in Miami, too. But they were bright spots in an otherwise mediocre/disappointing campaign before she caught fire once again on North American hardcourts in the summer and then closed out '10 by winning the Tour Championships. After being a virtual afterthought in the season's first three slams a year ago, the Belgian ended up winning the tour's "Player of the Year" honors. So, really, she needn't really be expected to shine until July again in '11. Of course, with the top of the women's game being essentially a loose confederation of players HOPING to take advantage of a Serena-less landscape, that doesn't mean that Clijsters won't suddenly become the tour's dominant player until Williams returns. After all, other than Serena, Clijsters is the only other woman to have won multiple slam titles over the last thirty-nine months.

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Venus Williams, USA: Venus hasn't been a true factor in Melbourne since she reached the final in 2003. In fact, she usually goes down in flames in one of the upsets of the tournaments every January in Oz. Since she's never won a slam in which her sister didn't play, the same will likely happen again this year. (Continued below)

Francesca Schiavone, ITA: really, after a 2010 season that saw her climb into the Top 10, win Roland Garros and be a part of another Fed Cup-winning Italian team, a case could be made that the entire 2011 season is an exercise in "what does it really matter?" for Schiavone. No matter what she does the rest of her career, her personal niche in tennis history is secure. Of course, it'd be nice if she could produce at least a few more good moments to savor.



**POISED FOR "GREATNESS"**
..."greatness" being a relative term, meaning anything from true "breakout" success to a reclaiming of a former position in the sport.

[1Q]
Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS: for 90% of last season, Kuznetsova's head, heart and body were somewhere other than on the tennis court. Her ranking fell from #3 to #27, her worst year-end rank since 2003. And, really, she was fortunate to even finish as high as she did. But Kuznetsova has been a great rebounder over the years. Her season-ending ranking has never fallen in back-to-back seasons, and the last time she finished outside the Top 15 (2005) she surged back to #4 the following year. The 1st Quarter is where she can get a fresh start once again.

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ: hmmm, let's see. They'll be no Williams/Williams at the Australian Open. No Black/Huber, either. The #1-ranked Dulko/Pennetta team has never won a slam. Who's to say that King/Shvedova CAN'T win a third straight slam title? Of course, it'd be nice if they didn't have to come back from match point to do it for once.

Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: hey, if she can do in Melbourne what she didn't do in New York, she'd finally be "minted" as a "legitimate" #1. Of course, if that were to happen, I'm sure the main thing we'd hear would likely be, "yeah, but Serena didn't play."

Kim Clijsters, BEL and/or Justine Henin, BEL: speaking of a slam draw without a Serena in it... it goes without saying that no players have taken advantage of such situations as much as the Belgians. Of the eight slams missed by Williams since she won the '99 U.S. Open, either Clijsters of Henin have won five of them. That's half the ten total slams the pair have won in their careers. Henin, for her part, has won four times without having the possibility of Serena knocking on her door in the middle of the slam night. Of course, it should be noted that Henin is 4-3 against Williams in slams, and won two of those titles in Paris, Serena's worst slam. She also won Serena-less titles in New York and Melbourne. Meanwhile, the only other active player who has won a slam that was missing Williams is Clijsters, who did it in NYC last year. If the Tennis Gods saw fit to have these two Belgians meet in the Australian Open final, it would have to be viewed as something just short of a definitive reckoning when it came to their "second" careers. Since the pair returned, Clijsters has won two slams. Henin none. Barbie's gone 3-0 against LPT, too, and their early '11 schedules will preclude a pre-Melbourne meeting from occurring. If Clijsters were to win again over her countrywoman, as well as claim a second straight slam title, well, she'd have litererally turned their career comparisons on their heads in their "comeback phases," and Justine might have a very difficult time EVER coming close to catching up. Of course, if Henin returned from her elbow injury and won... well, the first concussive blast of the 2011 season will have been delivered.



**READY TO TURN HEADS**
[1Q]
Venus Williams, USA: no first career Australian Open title? No matter. The most important thing for Venus is to just stay healthy, allowing her to play Fed Cup right after things wrap up in Australia and maybe also giving a go at pulling off what would have to be considered a "Navratilovian" feat if she were to three-peat in back-to-back events in Dubai and Acapulco once again.

Shahar Peer, ISR: Peer served for the match against Serena in the Australian Open QF in '07. She lost the match and, naturally, Williams went on to win the tournament. After dealing with the Dubai Debacle in '09, the Israeli rebounded wonderfully last year, reaching a career-high ranking and advancing to seven semifinals (tied for second-best on tour). She was runner-up in Hobart, and an Auckland & Dubai semifinalist during last year's 1st Quarter. A Top 10 ranking is within her grasp if she can find a way to get over her SF slump -- she was just 1-6 in those matches in '10 -- and win at least one title.

Kazakhstan tennis: last 1st Quarter, both Yaroslava Shvedova and Sesil Karatantcheva reached the SF in Pattaya, a WTA first for Kazakh tennis. By the end of the year, Shvedova had notched two slam Doubles titles, and an actual Kazakhstan-born star (Shvedova was born a Russian, Sesil a Bulgarian) -- Zarina Diyas -- was the youngest player ranked in the Top 200. The race to become the tour's first-ever Kazakh singles champion would seem to be on, and if Shvedova's upward progression as '10 went on is any indication (she was a titlist as a Hordette in '07), we might not have to wait much longer for a winner.

Laura Robson, GBR: it seems like Robson has been around forever, but she's still just 16. Ranked just outside the Top 200 in '10, the Brit was the youngest player ranked in the Top 350. She began last season with a surprise win in the Hopman Cup over Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez that very nearly pushed Great Britain to its first title in the event's history, then turned around and reached the Australian Open Girls singles final, as well. After that, well, she turned more heads with her ill-conceived "sluts" commentary than with her play. But it's now 2011... so, Take Two.

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Alisa Kleybanova, RUS: Kleybanova has been a Hordette on the verge for a couple of seasons now. Her big game made her dangerous every time out, but a slight lack of conditioning and big match experience led to her just missing out on seizing the spotlight in Melbourne in each of the last two seasons when she took, but ultimately squandered, commanding leads against back-to-back "story of the tournament" stars in Jelena Dokic and Justine Henin. But if she learned anything from those two losses, they'll end up serving her well. After her defeat by Henin, she went on to have a career year, winning her first two tour titles, notching some big wins (including one over Clijsters) and ending her season by reaching the Tournament of Champions final. Kleybanova has seemingly been a magnet for hot-playing contenders in Melbourne, so she'll likely be led into the lioness' den again in 2011. If she can finally "slay the beast," well, then the sky may be the limit for her this season.

The Jr. Bannerettes: for the first time in multiple generations, America has a slew of youngsters to believe in. As it stands, Coco Vandeweghe's '08 Girls title at the U.S. Open is the only junior slam championship won by a female American since 1995. In comparison, Russians have lifted eight junior slams over the same time span. While the current Girls #1 is still a Hordette (Daria Gavrilova), the Jr. Bannerettes might be in position to notch one, and maybe more, titles in '11. Lauren Davis dominated the junior circuit in the closing weeks of '10, winning Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl titles, and then claiming the U.S.'s Australian Open wild card playoff when she blasted Vandeweghe in the final. Ranked #3 in the world, Davis is suddenly THE player to watch. But don't forget the likes of Sloane Stephens, Krista Hardebeck, Madison Keys and others. The last time an American girl won in Melbourne was 1989, but don't be surprised if that particular historical note is amended about a month from now.



**HOLD YOUR HORSES**
[1Q]
Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: Wozniacki is the #1-ranked player in the world, will lead the field as the top seed in Melbourne and might have her best chance to win a slam in '11 in a tournament which won't include Serena and includes so many other top players with bigger physical/mental question marks than her so far slam-less self. But while she's won more tour titles than any other player over the last three seasons, she's NEVER raised a WTA singles trophy during a season's 1st Quarter. With that fact in mind, it's hard not to view her 1Q prospects through somewhat cloudier lenses. If she gets off to her annual slow start (she notched no finals and just one SF in the 1Q last year, and that didn't come until March in Indian Wells), while Zvonareva simultaneously gets out in front of things, Wozniacki and the Russian could end up trading the #1 ranking back-and-forth every few weeks this summer. But, hey, look on the bright side. Thanks to C-Woz's debut in the Twitterverse, we now get to learn about all the little spare thoughts that drift through the 20-year old's mind on a daily basis, like how she'd never sign up for the job of clearing golf balls from a driving range because she'd be afraid of getting hit (really, she DID release that groundbreaking announcement the other day).

Kaia Kanepi, EST: the Estonian had a Wimbledon semifinal berth within her grasp last year, then squandered her opportunity. A few weeks later, though, she won her first career title. A left elbow injury, a hinderance to her two-handed backhand, ended her '10 season a little early, and while I'm still sticking with her to be one of the prime movers on tour in '11, I'm sort of resigned to possiby seeing her struggle a little bit more than hoped for in the season's opening months while she gets her game adjusted on her way to a full recovery.

Justine Henin, BEL????: hmmm, has La Petit Taureau morphed into a Belgium Opossum as the 2011 season is set to begin? Surely, one could make a case that her recent comments about not yet being fully healed from her elbow injury -- even saying it could be a few more months before she's pain-free and 100% -- and how she considers herself "just a player in the draw" in Melbourne are rather convenient ways of lowering expectations after having not played a match since Wimbledon. Considering she has some points to defend from the opening months of her '10 comeback -- from two finals (including the AO) and another semi in her four 1Q events -- it's probably not a bad idea. It not only provides her some cover if she starts slowly after not playing 26 of the last 32 months, but it also gives her something of an "underdog" status, even if the latter will quickly evaporate if her game looks up to snuff in the season's opening weeks. Sneaky, Justine.

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: of course, as might end up being the case with her ENTIRE season, Wozniacki's "worthiness quotient" would probably be raised quite a bit in many circles -- even if she won fewer titles and lost the #1 ranking -- if she could somehow slip in a slam title before it becomes, over time, an albatross on her shoulder that would sooner peck that smile off her face as serve as a novel topic of conversation in worldwide sporting circles as she more naturally, but only gradually, works her way toward shooing it away and back into the wild. So, if Caroline wants to avoid some proverbial "cuts and bruises" down the line, it'd be a great career move to leave Melbourne with a little hardware.

Samantha Stosur, AUS: is Stosur capable of winning a slam? Sure. Will she have great support in Melbourne to push her along? You bet. But she still hasn't totally put to bed those old questions about her big match durability, as her inability to put away the Roland Garros title despite notching earlier wins over Serena and Henin last year showed. As Australia's best chance for a women's champion in its home slam in several tennis generations (the last Aussie female champ in Melbourne was back in 1978), Stosur will be carrying a tremendous amount of pressure on her shoulders starting in Day 1 (and countrywoman Anastasia Rodionova's well-intentioned comments about Stosur being ready to win a slam in '11, maybe even in Melbourne, only adds to the weight). If she were to come through that gauntlet and be the last woman standing on the tournament's final Saturday, it feels like it'd be something of a minor miracle.

Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA: they're the #1-ranked doubles team in the world, but they've never won a slam. They've never even reached a final. Their Tour Championships title will give them confidence, but winning two matches en route to claiming a big crown in Doha is far different from maneuvering through a slam draw without being tripped up on "a bad day" somewhere along the way and as the matches get bigger and bigger.



**LURCHING TOWARD DISASTER?**
[1Q]
Dinara Safina, RUS: she went from #2 to #62 over the run of the 2010 season as her head issues were trumped by her back troubles. Neither is a good thing for an elite tennis player to contend with, but it's the latter that could prematurely end a career. She's still a Safin, so she could never be overlooked, and no one could ever honestly be "shocked" if she were to suddenly play lights-out tennis for a brief period of time (maybe even in Melbourne, where she was runner-up in '09, and where her brother won the title in '05) and give everyone a taste of what has always been possible, but only witnessed in fits and starts, in her career. Still, for a player who's never been able to get over the grand slam hump (Marat did so early, winning at age 20 before his Shakespearean tendencies turned him into one of the biggest talent-teases in the sport's history) , another free fall in '11 could very well lead to Safina having to make a very difficult decision by the end of the season. Many players hope for a good start to give them some encouragement, but maybe none may truly NEED one more than Dinara. She needs to summon her "inner Serena."

[DOROTHY TOUR]
Maria Sharapova, RUS: did someone say something about "tough choices?" Suddenly, 75% of the leading edge of the Russian Revolution are facing questions about their futures... and Sharapova isn't exempt. She hasn't been "Supernovic" for what seems like ages, and while her post-shoulder surgery serve is still an inconsistent weapon, it's really the mental side of her game that has let her down the most over the past year. Unable to string together big wins last season and return to the Top 10, one has to wonder if she continues to be unable to "go big" how long will it be before she decides to start thinking about "going home?" Already financially secure and diversified, Sharapova is also now engaged. Might a Clijsters-like sabbatical be in her future? The WTA surely hopes not, but a successful return to the top level of the game is no longer a sure thing for the Russian. She hasn't reached a slam SF since she won in Oz in '08, and no longer begins slams with her old aura being able to intimidate players who used to shrink a little in her presence on the big stages. Now they KNOW they can beat her, and often times do just that. A trip to the final four (or better) in Melbourne would change all that in one fell swoop.

-------------------------------------


*SLAM CHAMPIONS WITHOUT SERENA IN THE DRAW*
[since Williams won '99 U.S. Open]
2000 Roland Garros - Mary Pierce
2002 Australian Open - Jennifer Capriati
2003 U.S. Open -- Justine Henin
2004 Australian Open - Justine Henin
2005 Roland Garros - Justine Henin
2006 Roland Garros - Justine Henin
2006 Wimbledon - Amelie Mauresmo
2010 U.S. Open - Kim Clijsters
2011 Australian Open - ???


=AUSTRALIAN OPEN - POWER RANKINGS... from two-plus weeks out=
1. Kim Clijsters: Oz and Barbie SHOULD be a good fit, but it's never really worked out
2. Justine Henin: 3.0's early reviews will soon be in for the 2010 runner-up, whether she likes it or not
3. Caroline Wozniacki: this might be her best slam shot in '11
4. Vera Zvonareva: will a third straight slam final be the charm?
5. Victoria Azarenka: no Serena... so here's her chance
6. Ana Ivanovic: she seems to be back, but just how much back is she REALLY?
7. Alisa Kleybanova: if she can avoid another first week clash with the "story of the tournament"...
8. Samantha Stosur: can you say, "pressure?"
9. Maria Sharapova: The Make-or-Break Season: Chapter 1
10. Svetlana Kuznetsova: of course, she could just as easily say "screw this (and you, too)" and lose in the 1st Round
Wild Card- Jelena Jankovic: no Serena in Melbourne is sort of the very definition of "chaos"
WILD Wild Card- Dinara Safina: it'd be just like a Safin to finally win a slam right when everyone's almost given up on her

Meanwhile...



She... is... coming. Sooner, rather than later. Take advantage of your clear path to a slam title while you can, ladies.

And, thus, let the season AFTER the not-nearly-as-great-as-we-thought-it-was-going-to-be season in WTA history begin...





BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (Int'l $220K/hard court outdoors)
10 Final: Clijsters d. Henin
11 Top Seeds: Stosur/Peer
=============================

=SF=
#7 Kleybanova d. #1 Stosur
#6 Pennetta d. #2 Peer
=FINAL=
#7 Kleybanova d. #6 Pennetta

...well, we won't be getting a rematch of what turned out to be 2010's "Match of the Year" between the Belgians, as neither are entered this year. Still, this is a great Week 1 draw and a very difficult one to pick. The list of potential semifinalists is at least six or seven players deep in women who've had Dorothy Tour success in recent seasons (even potential Stosur QF opponent wild card Jelena Dokic, who says she's in the shape she was in '09 during her Oz QF run, and enters this season calling '11 "the most important year" for her so far, as she wants to stay healthy enough to play a full season as she hopes to be able to play for six more seasons, until she's 33). I probably should go with Stosur, but as I said in the "Prediction Blowout," Kleybanova is sort of my "2011 version of Stosur" as far as predicting her to finish the season in the Top 10 as I (successfully) forecast for the Aussie a year ago. So, I step out on the first branch of the new year, hoping that it won't snap off TOO violently next week.


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (Int'l $220K/hard court outdoors)
10 Final: Wickmayer d. Pennetta
11 Top Seeds: Sharapova/Wickmayer
=============================

=SF=
#1 Sharapova d. (WC) K.Bondarenko
#3 Kuznetsova d. #2 Wickmayer
=FINAL=
#3 Kuznetsova d. #1 Sharapova

...Wickmayer will have less "stick-it-in-your-eye" motivation one year after, newly released from suspension, she won this title and made it through qualifying for the AO. She'll get a test in her very first match back when Safina appears across the net. K-Bond will have a tough 1st Round match against Date-Krumm, but if she survives that a deep run in Auckland would be a good way to kick off what could be a successful comeback campaign after an injury-marred '10. Speaking of players looking to find what has been lost, a Sharapova/Kuznetsova final would provide a very intriguing Week 1 status check. Is Sharapova's serve and late-match nerve sound, and is Kuznetsova going to actually be serious about her '11 season? Additionally, this event will mark the official "beginning of the end" of the Black/Huber legacy, as the points from the first of their '10 titles will officially drift away into the computer rankings ether.


HOPMAN CUP; PERTH, AUS (Team Exhibition/Hard Indoors)
10 FINAL: Spain (MJMS/Robredo) def. Great Britain (Robson/A.Murray)
=============================

=FINAL=
Serbia (Ivanovic/Djokovic) def. Great Britain (A.Murray/Robson)

...with Ivanovic and Djokovic, Serbia easily has the best, most balanced team. So, I'll go with them. Of note will be a where-do-they-stand-as-of-now? group round robin meeting between AnaIvo and Justine Henin. The wild card here, though, is Robson. A year ago, she got a big win in the final against Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, and GBR would have actually won the title had Andy Murray not been upset by Tommy Robredo in the men's singles. Hmm... so, actually, maybe it's Murray who's the real wild card in this.


HONG KONG, CHINA (Team Exhibition/Hard Outdoors)
10 FINAL: Russia (Sharapova/Zvonareva/Kafelnikov) def. Europe (Wozniacki/Azarenka/Edberg)
=============================

=FINAL=
Americas (V.Williams/Oudin/J.McEnroe) d. Europe (Wozniacki/Rezai/Edberg)

...although, I wonder if the whole house of cards for this pick might collapse if the "male legends" match-up in the 1st Round between McEnroe and Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) ends up deciding which team advances to the final. I figure the Russian would have the edge over Mac, so Oudin is going to need to find a way to take down Kirilenko in #2 Singles. If it would end up being Europe vs. Russia, we'd be treated to a nice world #1 (Wozniacki) vs. world #2 (Zvonareva) match-up in Week 1, launching the new season on an extremely encouraging note... even if it'd be even better if such a meeting could take place in a match that actually counted.

Well, see y'all next Monday. Cross your fingers for 2011.

All for now.

11 Comments:

Blogger NC said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sat Jan 01, 04:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger NC said...

Sorry for my woeful naiveté, but what is the "Dorothy Tour?"

Sat Jan 01, 04:16:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Aw, that. Well, it's just a play on Australia sometimes being called "Oz" (and the AO the "Oz Open"), and refers to the Australia/New Zealand-centered first month of the WTA season.

Oz = The Wizard of Oz = Dorothy Gale = "The Dorothy Tour" :)

It's something of a holdover from when I did a weekly column on Australia's Jelena Dokic, and took to calling her "Dorothy"... usually, unfortunately, when she DIDN'T play in Australia for so long, and there was a longing for her to "click her heels and go home."

Here's how I describe it on the Backspin Nicknames page:

THE AUSTRALIAN/NEW ZEALAND CIRCUIT: "The Dorothy Tour." Originally used on Jelena-Dokic.com in my Jelena Corner columns, The Dorothy Tour refers to the season's opening month on the calendar that takes place in New Zealand and Australia, sometimes referred to as "Oz." Dorothy... The Wizard of Oz... get it? It provides a great opportunity to use all sorts of (hopefully) clever Oz puns and references -- yellow brick road, the Emerald City, ruby slippers, etc. -- for a few weeks.

Sat Jan 01, 07:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Hoergren said...

Thanks for the explaining - I thoight it had something to do with the American poet Dorthy Parker. They are actually arrangeing small tours of NY - as Dorothy tours ;-) Another thing not far from "The wizard of Oz" to "the wizard of Woz" :-) - get it!

Sun Jan 02, 09:26:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Hoergren-

Hmmm, if you-know-who were to win in Melbourne, you might have just given me the title to my post for the women's final. Now that I think of it, maybe I should use that earlier in the tournament if I get the chance... just so it doesn't go to waste. :)

On another note: the first listed official main draw match of 2011 in Brisbane: Peers d. Kleybanova 3-6/6-3/6-4

Umm, sorry for doing that to you, Alisa.

Sun Jan 02, 01:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger News Updates said...

Dear author, while i am searching for some tennis news, i landing your blog. I came to know that You are updating your blog with latest tennis news. I have added your blog link in my all about tennis(http://whatever4ever.blogspot.com/) blog. I am also updating my tennis blog with hot current tennis news. If you provide a link to my blog, it would be more useful to me. Thanks in advance.

Tue Jan 04, 07:56:00 AM EST  
Blogger Hoergren said...

A little news from Hongkong Classics where Europe won against Asia in style 4-0. Here is a little (as written in France24) about Caros fight against Li Na - who she hasn't beaten for 2 years(?):
Li was unable to deal with Wozniacki's blistering forehand and dropped another service game to concede the first set 6-4.

The Chinese number one started the second set more consistently and appeared to have shaken off a tendency to commit unforced errors as she went 3-0 up.

But Wozniacki demonstrated the kind of tenacity which saw her take her 12th WTA title in Beijing in October, staging an impressive comeback to level the set at 3-3 before turning the thumbscrews to win 6-3.

Later she won the mixed with Stefan Edberg 6-3, 6-2. All in all a good start of the year and it seems that she has fine control over her new Yonex racket. Optimistic about AO - definitely - she'll meet Barbie in the final.

Wed Jan 05, 11:52:00 AM EST  
Blogger Hoergren said...

It's a nice one Caro just tweeted:

Good quote: " I didn't make a hundred mistakes on my way to the top, I just found a hundred ways not to do things:)"

That's the way you turn negative thinking into positive thinking.

Sorry for my fascination of this young player but she a good role model.

Thu Jan 06, 01:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

oh well, caro just lost 6160 to vera.

Sat Jan 08, 10:22:00 AM EST  
Blogger Hoergren said...

Yeah jo shum - wake up call isn't it, but I still have a positive feeling about the WTA events. She's first planned to peak at AO, but you're right 6-1,6-0 are not nice fugures. As she said afterwards I didn't play well and made some shots I shouldn't have done and Vera played very well. Admits and congratulates - nice. See how it goes in Sydney where she's going to meet Kirilenko in the second round Tuesday.

Sat Jan 08, 10:48:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

News Updates-

Thanks. I've added your link. :)

Mon Jan 10, 02:24:00 PM EST  

Post a Comment

<< Home