Monday, March 21, 2011

Wk.11- Dear Kim...

A time out for a personal message from me to you-know-who:

Dear Kim,

It's not you. It's me. Really. Well, maybe. In any event, KC, this is a letter that I didn't want to have to write, but I guess I knew deep down that I eventually would. I suspect you felt the same.

I said a while back that I'd try to ♥ you in 2011. And, honestly, I think I've held up my end. I swallowed my pride and stuck with you in Melbourne. I even shocked myself by having fun doing it. But over the months since, especially after pondering the situation over the last couple of weeks and then seeing you leave Indian Wells with a shoulder injury and, once again, no title when I'd predicted you'd get one, I think the time has come to stick a proverbial pin in this balloon of a relationship.

After hearing your pal Lindsay talk over and over and over and over again about how you're so much better than any other women's player on earth and are so much better than the one who's currently ranked #1, I came to a clear realization. While being on your side has been an interesting experience, there's really no longer anything in it for me. I've got to look out for #1... me, not the Dane. Sydney, Paris, and now Indian Wells. Winning with you in Melbourne was great, but losing with you is just not the sort of thing that I can go along with. It only makes me angry with you all over again.

Yeah, yeah. I know you probably heard what I said about Jelena D a few weeks ago, and correctly remembered how I'd picked her over you way back when when I was trying to determine which of you I'd throw my allegiance to more than a decade ago. Since then, I've turned to Justine, Nadia, Serena and others for comfort, as well. Earlier this year, it was Petra... just after she'd treated you pretty badly during your trip to France. You forgave me and took me back in January, and I'm grateful for that. Still, I'm sure none of this surprises you. But, so be it. If I'm predictable, I'm predictable. Be sure, though, Jelena has nothing to do with this -- other than she once again clarified why I simply can't be in your corner all the days of the week -- and neither did any of the others.

Really, Kim, our "unholy" alliance has been an interesting one over the years, hasn't it? While I didn't beg you to stay or shed a tear when you left, I did admit to having missed you when you returned. Since then, we've both had some good times. In New York for you, and in Oz when you went up against Nadia for me.

But we'll always have Melbourne, though. That one worked out for both of us. It won't be forgotten by me.

But it's just not enough. I'm looking for more, and will have to look for it elsewhere. I'm sorry, but this relationship no longer works for me. Maybe we'll reconnect somewhere down the line, but I think we both know it won't likley happen until you walk away for good. I promise you, though, from here on out I'll strive to be a gentleman. I'll remember the good that we so recently shared, and not be too harsh on you when the moments to do so arise. But that's all I can guarantee. I've got to be me.

Sincerely, with as much ♥ as I can offer --


P.S. -- Say hi to Jada

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA (Premier+ $4.5m/hard outdoor)
S: Caroline Wozniacki def. Marion Bartoli 6-1/2-6/6-3
D: Sania Mirza/Elena Vesnina d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Meghann Shaughnessy

[IW Week 2 - Monday-Sunday]
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN

...the Wozniacki train continued to chug along in Indian Wells as the Dane solidified her #1 ranking by claiming her fourteenth career title (quickly leaving #13 behind after seeing what havoc Serena's 13th slam has wreaked) in twenty-three finals over the last four seasons. Wins over three Top 20 players -- a retiring Azarenka, Sharapova and Bartoli in the final, a near-Top 20er (Kleybanova) and a player against whom she'd been 0-3 (Martinez-Sanchez) provided the "goop that greatness is made of" (thanks, Steven Tyler) as she won her second top-level Premier event of the season and advanced to her third straight final. Once again, she's leading the tour with nineteen wins (22, if you count her three Fed Cup zone play outings). Not only that, but this makes it four straight seasons in which she's won multiple singles titles, tying the so-far-unextended in '11 four-year runs of the Williams Sisters as the only similar marks amongst active players (Elena Dementieva retired with an intact five-year run from 2006-10).
RISER: Marion Bartoli/FRA
...although she always presents an interesting sight when she's on the court, Bartoli tends to fly under the radar most of the time. Even with all the movement that generally occurs in the bottom half of the Top 20, she's been able to maintain her ranking there every week since the end of Roland Garros in '07 (a month before her surprise run to the Wimbledon final), though she hadn't been ranked in the Top 10 since July '08 (after her '07 SW19 runner-up points fell off) until she returned there today. In Indian Wells, the Pastry was in good form, fortunate, and not quite up to snuff in the end. She got nice wins over Andrea Petkovic, Ana Ivanovic and Yanina Wickmayer, but was losing to Kim Clijsters when the Belgian was forced to retire. She put up a good fight against Wozniacki in the final, but didn't have enough in reserve to complete her intended task. Still, her first appearance in a final since she won the season-closing Tournament of Champions in Bali in '09 after having lost five straight semifinals over the last two seasons, keeps her name in the conversation when it comes to listing some of the most dangerous players in any draw in which she appears.
SURPRISE: Sania Mirza/Elena Vesnina, IND/RUS
...while all the top-ranked doubles teams fell by the wayside over the last two weeks, it was the duo of Mirza and Vesnina who were the last pair standing. The IW title was Mirza's ninth on tour, and Vesnina was her seventh different winning partner. Meanwhile, Vesnina now has four crowns, including the '08 IW title, with four different partners. Mirza is the first non-Russian to lift a women's doubles trophy with her, though.
COMEBACK: Myriam Casanova/SUI
...Casanova was once a player to watch. She won a tour singles title in Brussels in '02, and was ranked in the Top 50 in '03. By the end of the next season, she'd retired and only made a few token Fed Cup appearances from 2005-09. She finally returned to the sport in late '09, and last season won an ITF event and claimed the Swiss Championships against a field of her countrywomen. She ended '10 ranked #793. Going into last week, the now-25 year old was still ranked outside the Top 800, but she managed to win her fifth career ITF title in a $10K event in Fallenden, Switzerland with a win in the final over Latvia's Diana Marcinkevica.
VETERAN: Maria Sharapova/RUS, apparently, all it took to get a good result out of Sharapova was to essentially lose faith that she was capable of one? Good to know. Though the Russian barely escaped her early round match with Anabel Medina-Garrigues with a well-played 3rd set, her game picked up significantly after that as she downed Aravane Rezai, Dinara Safina and Peng Shuai en route to the semis. Of course, she then went out quickly in an example of a bad match-up between contrasting styles versus Wozniacki, whose great/safe level-headedness only served to highlight the inadequacy of Sharapova's Plan A of going for big winners over consistent shot-making (even Dr. Bartoli pointed it out turing the final on Sunday) when she serve and overall confidence are still issues that look like they may never be fully triumphed over. Her 1&2 loss was even worse than the similarly error-strewn 3&4 one she suffered against the Dane at last year's U.S. Open.
FRESH FACE: Cristina Dinu/ROU
...two weeks ago, 18-year old Dinu won a $10K challenger in Antalya, Turkey. This weekend, she won her second of the season there (the third of back-to-back-to-back events held at the site), tying her for the overall circuit lead so far in '11. Her win in the final came over Reka-Luca Jani (HUN).
DOWN: Kim Clijsters/BEL & Samantha Stosur/AUS
...while Wozniacki has claimed two, Clijsters hasn't won a title since the Australian Open and has already lost in two finals in '11 (after losing none post-comeback in '09-'10)... or, in what would likely be Lindsay Davenport's words, a stretch akin to the "greatest run in the history of tennis," at least by a tennis-playing mom. Clijsters' retirement with a shoulder injury in the 4th Round against Bartoli put a thankfully abrupt end to Davenport's 24/7 awe-smothered Tennis Channel commentary about the Belgian in Indian Wells, even if ESPN2/ABC's jump-in-late-even-though-you-don't-deserve-to-be-able-to coverage of the event's latter stages would have done so a few days later, anyway. Clijsters had a small chance of reclaiming the #1 ranking from C-Woz in California, and now she's facing having to defend her '10 Miami title points (if she plays at all, or physically makes it through the whole two weeks) while nursing a bad shoulder heading into the EuroClay season, where she hasn't put up memorable results (and hardly played at all) since before she retired. Meanwhile, Stosur continued her taking-a-step-back '11 pattern. The Aussie reached the semis in Indian Wells in '10, but was dumped out by Dinara Safina in the 3rd Round this year. The loss dropped her to 7-7 on the season, while she's seen two OTHER countrywomen (Groth and Dokic) win tour titles this year.
ITF PLAYER: Anastasiya Yakimova/BLR
...while her countrywoman Victoria Azarenka retired after three games in the QF in Indian Wells after injuring her hip, Yakimova was busy winning the third $100K event on the ITF '11 schedule. In the Bahamas, Yakimova was crowned the Nassau champ with a 6-3/6-2 win in the final over Angelique Kerber. She'd also notched earlier wins over Kristen Flipkens, Anastasia Rodionova, Arantxa Rus and Magdalena Rybarikova.
"JUNIOR" STAR: Yuliana Lizarazo/COL 2010, then-16 year year old Colombian Lizarazo lost in the 2nd Round of the G1 Banana Bowl to Lauren Davis. The tournament was ultimately won by Beatrice Capra. This year, at 17, Lizarazo returned to Blumenau, Brazil and walked away with her first big junior title when she defeated Peruvian Patricia Ku Flores in the final.

[IW Week 2 - Monday-Sunday]
1. IW 4th Rd - Bartoli d. Clijsters
...3-6/3-1 ret..
The worsening of her previously-existing shoulder injury ended the Belgian's run of five straight appearances in finals going back to last season and, depending on its ultimate severity, could have more impact on the WTA '11 landscape than even Serena's absence has to date.
2. IW Final - Wozniacki d. Bartoli
As usual, Wozniacki outlasted her opponent in the 3rd set. A tiring La Trufflette did put on a final rush after falling behind early in the deciding stanza, but she wasn't able to keep it up.
3. IW 4th Rd - Wozniacki d. Kleybanova
Speaking of a player not being able to finish a match in good physical form. Is there any player on tour who loses more three-setters against top players than Kleybanova? Again, here was a case where the Dane got better as the match progressed while the Russian started strong and tailed off down the stretch. Kleybanova has Top 10 ability, but so far her consistency and fitness level have continued to not do it or herself justice.
4. IW 4th Rd - Ivanovic d. Jankovic
This was AnaIvo's first win over JJ since she defeated her in the '08 Roland Garros semis and claimed the #1 ranking.
5. IW SF - Wozniacki d. Sharapova
C-Woz's victory was so swift and decisive one wonders if, in the recesses of TPFKATS's brain, it might render null and void whatever good her Indian Wells results might have done the Russian leading into the match.
HM- $10K Madrid Final - Julia Mayr d. Guilia Sussarello
Mayr also won the doubles title wih her sister Evelyn.

3...Kim Clijsters (1-2)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Li Na (1-1)
[2011 Consecutive]
3...Kim Clijsters, January-February (Sydney-L, AO-W, Paris-L)
3...CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, February-March (Dubai-W, Doha-L, I.W.-W) (current)
2...Li Na, January (Sydney-W, AO-L)
[Last 3 Seasons]
19...CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (8/8/3 - 11-8)
9...Kim Clijsters (1/5/3 - 7-2)
9...Vera Zvonareva (2/6/1 - 4-5)
9...Venus Williams (5/4/0 - 4-5)

**MOST 2011 WTA SF**
3...Kim Clijsters (3-0)
3...Jelena Jankovic (1-2)
3...Vera Zvonareva (1-2)

[Sania Mirza - 9]
2004 Hyderabad - Liezel Huber
2006 Bangalore - Liezel Huber
2006 Kolkata - Liezel Huber
2007 Fes - Vania King
2007 Cincinnati - Bethanie Mattek
2007 Stanford - Shahar Peer
2007 New Haven - Mara Santangelo
2010 Guangzhou - Edina Gallovits
2011 Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina
[Elena Vesnina - 4]
2005 Quebec City - Anastasia Rodionova
2007 Hobart - Elena Likhovtseva
2008 Indian Wells - Dinara Safina
2011 Indian Wells - Sania Mirza

I'll put up a post with my (always bet against 'em) Miami picks later, which at least won't be hindered by having to factor in whether or not to pick you-know-who, as I AM going to adhere to my resolution from last week about not picking Jada's Mom to win anything the rest of this season.

All for now.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - you are a funny guy, and I enjoy reading your blog. How do you come up with an idea like writing a letter to Jadas mom? I haven't followed you that long so I don't know exactly what's behind. Well perhaps you tell us about that later. If you haven't read Steve Tignors report of the final here is a good quote which tells a lot about Woz - have a go:
"She plays a physical brand of tennis, but not an aggressive one—call it athletically defensive. Though “defensive” is a little unfair. Wozniacki plays with the defensive intelligence of a pool shark. It’s an axiom in that game that a good player never forces himself to take a difficult shot."
I agree with him and it's a good way to explain how she plays. Now it's Miami the third mandatory event - will Woz crack that also then the only mandatory event left is Madrid then she's caught them all - fun eh! Welcome to the Wozzy world.

Mon Mar 21, 03:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, people seem to be slowly coming around on Wozniacki (well, most everyone but Mrs. Davenport). A little slower on the uptake than one might expect, though, considering for how long so many complained about the only-blast-from-the-baseline, little-to-no-thought-involved game styles of so many top players.

As for the letter conceit, I've had fun with that for quite a while. And even "corresponded" with Kim before, about this time last year, in fact.

Tue Mar 22, 04:19:00 PM EDT  

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