Monday, April 25, 2011

Wk.16- .now for All (Backwards Backspin VII)

[Helpful Hint: It might be easier to read this week's edition of Backspin from the bottom up]

.now for All

...of course, what do I know?

Dulko d. Zahlavova-Strycova
Dulko d. #5 Errani
Zahlavova-Strycova d. Razzano
Cirstea/Medina-Garrigues :10 Doubles Champions
Kleybanova/Gajdosova :11 Top Seeds
Sevastova d. Parra-Santonja :10 Final
(red clay outdoor/$220K Int'l) PORTUGAL, ESTORIL

...hard to say much about these picks until (if?) I finally get one right again. But, then again, Gajdosova (formerly "Groth" -- so long, Sam) winning a post-breakup title would be a "Ms. Independent"-style triumph. Thus, it goes without saying that she wouldn't be included on any of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" lists. Plus, Jarmila IS the only champion pick other than Barbie that I've gotten correct this season. Maybe this is the right time... nope, I'm not even going to say it.

#2 Gajdosova d. #4 Sevastova
#4 Sevastova d. #6 Vesnina
#2 Gajdosova d. Medina-Garrigues
Errani/Vinci :10 Doubles Champions
Bartoli/Dulgheru :11 Top Seeds
Schiavone d. Vinci :10 Final
(red clay outdoor/$220K Int'l) SPAIN, BARCELONA

2...Bryanne Stewart, 2005
20...Lisa Raymond, 2005-07

#73 - Gisela Dulko, ARG (Acapulco)
#77 - Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, ESP (Bogota)
#88 - Greta Arn, HUN (Auckland)
#91 - Jelena Dokic, AUS (Kuala Lumpur)
#105 - Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK (Memphis)

29 years, 10 months, 3 weeks - Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, ESP (Bogota)
31 years, 3 weeks - ALBERTA BRIANTI, ITA (FES)
31 years, 9 months - Greta Arn, HUN (Auckland)

2...CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (Charleston-W, Stuttgart-L) (active)
2...March/April - Victoria Azarenka (Miami-W, Marbella-W)
2...January - Li Na (Sydney-W, AO-L)
3...February - Caroline Wozniacki (Dubai-W, Doha-L, Indian Wells-W)
3...January/February - Kim Clijsters (Sydney-L, AO-W, Paris-L)

And now there's one less spot in the RG draw remaining to be claimed.
...4-6/7-6/6-3 Irina Falconi d. Julia Boserup - USA Roland Garros Wild Card Final .10
This was Li's first win since she came back from match point down against Wozniacki in Australian Open semifinals. She didn't get a second, though.
.6-2/6-3 Li d. Sevastova - 1st Rd. Stuttgart .9
Of course, we've underestimated Schiavone in the Springtime before, haven't we?.
...6-1/6-3 A.Radwanska d. Schiavone - 2nd Rd. Stuttgart .8
Fed Cup camaraderie only lasts so long.
...3-6/6-4/6-2 Zvonareva d. Pavlyuchenkova - 2nd Rd. Stuttgart .7
Goerges nearly squandered a 4-2 3rd set lead, but pulled it out. Considering where she stood coming in, Stosur had to have increased her confidence level exponentially through each round of this event.
...6-4/3-6/7-5 Goerges d. Stosur - SF Stuttgart .6
After rain interrupted this match, the veteran came back better than the youngster in this match-up of players who were both looking for their first career tour title.
...6-4/6-3 Brianti d. Halep - Final Fes .5
Lalami was up 5-1 in the 2nd, and 5-2 in the 3rd. So she struggled to close things out. Fortunately for her, she was playing a woman in Rezai who STILL hasn't won two matches at an event since last July.
...2-6/7-6/6-4 Lalami d. Rezai - 2nd Rd. Fes .4
History changes in an instant, huh? Weird how the Belarusan always seems to be on the wrong side of these things. This is Azarenka's second retirement in her first eight tournaments of 2011. A season ago, she was forced out in six of her first nineteen events (nearly a third of the time!), before finishing out the year by completing two tournaments. She had exactly two retirements in seven events at this point in '10, so I guess she's making progress on that front. Barely.
...4-6/ret. Goerges d. Azarenka - 2nd Rd. Stuttgart .3
Petkovic led 4-1 in the 1st, and missed an easy swing volley on break point for 5-2. Wozniacki ended up holding serve. In the next game, the German missed another easy swing volley on game point, and another that gave the Dane the first of two break points, the second of which went her way when Petkovic missed wide with a forehand. Petkovic never got back into the match, and Wozniacki ended up winning eleven of the final twelve games.
...6-4/6-1 Wozniacki d. Petkovic - QF Stuttgart .2
Wozniacki was broken just once, but was 0-for-5 on her own break point opportunities. The last German to win this tournament was current tournament director Anke Huber.
...7-6/6-3 Goerges d. Wozniacki - Final Stuttgart .1

In the Grade 1 event in Beaulieu Sur Mer, France, the 15-year old Khromacheva (#1 seed/Girls #8) defeated Serbia's Natalija Kostic (#2 seed/Girls #10) 6-2/6-2 in the final. She also claimed the doubles crown with Danka Kovinic. Khromacheva was a Girls quarterfinalist in Melbourne in January, and reached a junior slam semifinal (RG) and quarter (SW19) a season ago...
RUS/Irina Khromacheva :JUNIOR STAR
In almost a "remember me?" moment, Groenefeld starred on the ITF circuit in the same week that her younger compatriots were ripping things up back home in Stuttgart. In a $25K challenger in Tesenderio, Belgium, ALG swept both the singles and doubles (with Tatjana Malek) titles. In the singles final, she defeated home favorite Alison van Utyvanck 6-3/7-5, ending the teenager's 2011 combined ITF/junior winning streak at thirty-five matches...
GER/Anna-Lena Groenefeld :ITF PLAYER
Did you know that Schiavone hasn't actually won a match on clay since she kissed the dirt after the final at Roland Garros? It's true. Lately, when she would have erased that fact from the ledger, she's skipped a few events citing fatigue. Apparently, she was on the fence about playing in Stuttgart, too. She ultimately did, but went out easily in her first match against Agnieszka Radwanska. A year ago, Schiavone won this week's tournament in Barcelona, but she isn't in the draw this time. As long as she's ready to Paris, I suppose, none of this matters at all, though...
ITA/Francesca Schiavone :DOWN
A runner-up in Fes a year ago, Swarmette Halep matched her performance a year later by reaching her second overall career tour singles final. Anastasiya Yakimova, Alla Kudryavtseva, Greta Arn and Kirsten Flipkens (hmm, almost sounds like a list of players who've recently beaten Goerges... wink, wink) fell at the hands of the 19-year old Romanian, but thirteen-years-her-senior Brianti proved too tough an out...
ROU/Simona Halep :FRESH FACE
At least for now, Lisicki is the picture of health. (Crossing fingers again.) As a wild card, she got Stuttgart wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Li Na to reach the QF and won the doubles with Stosur. In Fes, Safina rebounded from her retirement last time out to take down Jill Craybas, Alize Cornet and Anastasia Pivovarova to reach her first singles semifinal since August '09. She and Galina Voskoboeva reached the doubles SF, as well. Unfortunately, Safina had to pull out of both those semis with "gastrointestinal illness." Ooh, I don't think I even want to know the details about that. Hopefully, she's feeling better now...
RUS/Dinara Safina & GER/Sabine Lisicki :COMEBACKS
Brianti, 31, didn't reach her first career tour singles final until two seasons ago in Guangzhou. She didn't win then, but she did in career final #2 in Fes to become 2011's only first-time champion through sixteen weeks. Wins over Laura Pous-Tio, Ksenia Pervak and Melanie Oudin, plus a walkover in the SF past Dinara Safina, paved the way to the final against Simona Halep, in which the Italian vet won in straight sets. Meanwhile, Stosur didn't match her runner-up performance in Stuttgart from last year (when she lost to Justine Henin), but her decision to skip what turned out to be Team Australia's Fed Cup debacle looks like a good one after she notched victories over Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, Daniela Hantuchova and Vera Zvonareva to reach her first semifinal of the year. She won the doubles with Sabine Lisicki, too. It's Stosur's first doubles crown since she and Lisa Raymond won in Eastbourne in '07, and the 23rd overall in her career...
ITA/Alberta Brianti & AUS/Samantha Stosur :VETERANS
20-year old Moroccan Lalami has been an "ITF Player of the Week" (in 2010) and was named the Africa/Middle East "Riser" in last season's Regional Honors in this space in the past, so I'm glad that I was aware of her before her career run in Fes last week. As a wild card, the world #497 notched wins over Misaki Doi and #1-seed Aravane Rezai to become the first-ever WTA quarterfinalist from her country. Before last week, Lalami had played in only four main draw tour matches, all previous 1st Round losses at this same tournament...
MAR/Nadia Lalami :SURPRISE
Staying in Stuttgart after her Fed Cup heroics, Petkovic gots wins over Tamira Paszek and Jelena Jankovic (again), and had a great chance to jump on Wozniacki in the 1st set of their quarterfinal match. In the end, she had to settle for trying to figure out where to take Goerges to celebrate...
GER/Andrea Petkovic :RISER
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. But Goerges was BOTH in Stuttgart, and she walked away with her second career title as a result. The statuesque 22-year old German with the big shots handled the likes of Michaella Krajicek, '10 Stuttgart runner-up Sam Stosur and world #1 Wozniacki, and was fortunate enough to have #5 Azarenka retire with a shoulder injury after having won the 1st set off Goerges in the 2nd Round. By the end of the weekend, J-Go (oh, no... is Backspin getting "Jersey Shor-ified"... or am I just looking for a way to type Julia's name without reflexively transposing the "o" and the "e" all the time?) and her family were celebrating all over the arena, but only the champ herself was covered with red clay from cheek to thigh...


Hlavackova/Voracova d. Bratchikova/Klemenschits :D
6-4/6-3 Alberta Brianti/ITA def. Simona Halep/ROU :S

(Int'l $220K/red clay outdoors) MOROCCO, FES
Lisicki/Stosur d. Barrois/Woehr :D
7-6/6-3 Julia Goerges/GER def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN :S
(Premier $721K/red clay indoors) GERMANY, STUTTGART


Oh, yeah. In the latest ridiculous "honor" bestowed upon Kim Clijsters, Time magazine listed her amongst its "100 Most Influential People" last week because of her ability to "juggle" motherhood and a career. Yeah, okay. Now, if she was juggling knives and lit sticks of dynamite -- while blindfolded -- then I'd be all for it. But, come on. Are we still stuck on that, as if she's the only woman in the world who has a child and a career? Apparently, there are no men in similar situations, either. Or athletes. Or male athletes. Or even male tennis players. There's only one Barbie doing it, though, so I guess that while everyone else is (less than) equal, she's more equal than others. Then again, KC ALSO has a husband, a close family and team of payrolled helpers, too. Seems to me that a great many working moms don't have such assistance, but I wonder how many of them made the list? I'm sure I don't have to look to know the answer. Hey, at least Kim didn't change her name. See, there's something that she SHOULD get a pat on the back for, but no one says anything about it. As always, ♥ ya, Kim. :ANSWER

Speaking of married tennis players...? :QUESTION

Well, maybe something with Jarmila Gajdosova. Yep, she and Sam Groth are history, so she's back to her pre-Aussie name. Hmmm, didn't she move to Oz and get her Australian citizenship because of that relationship? Interesting. Just goes to show you that you shouldn't change your name and/or nationality on a whim or solely because of in-the-moment emotion. Hint, hint... Vesna Manasieva. Err, I mean Vesna Dolonts. Oops. Too late. :ANSWER

Any idea on how to turn back the "Backspin Picks" tide? I mean, other than maybe exorcising a few demons with the "Backwards" stuff. :QUESTION

What can I say? Another "perfect" week! At least my Stuttgart pick WAS the only player that Goerges faced who she wasn't able to defeat on the court. Naturally, Azarenka had a twelve-match winning streak going when I picked her last Monday, then had a set in hand against the German... but still didn't win match #13. Maybe that's when "Backwards Backspin" became a go? I was placing a lot of hope on Jelena Dokic, too. She had a great draw, then ended up pulling out late with a viral illness. If she'd been healthy and in the draw, she'd have faced a qualifier in the 1st Round -- Urszula Radwanska, who lost to Lucky Loser Eleni Daniilidou, who lost to Kirsten Flipkens, who defeated wild card Nadia Lalami 1 & 0, then lost to Simona Halep, who was defeated by 31-year old Brianti, who'd never won a title before Sunday. Man, what a lost opportunity that was. :ANSWER

All right, now I'll give you a chance to whine about your... cough, cough... "predictions." What about those? :QUESTION

Umm, well, it certainly raises those questions again, doesn't it? The fight is there, as always. She'll be a factor in Paris. But, again, against an aggressive player with power who didn't get "tennis leprosy" -- causing said player to fall in pieces all over the court... get it? -- she went down in straight sets. Petkovic let C-Woz off the hook, and lost. Goerges didn't, and won. Normally, one might expect Wozniacki to take advantage of Goerges' deficiency in the front court, but the German never let her. She'd often run Wozniacki wide with a crosscourt forehand, then bash a winner down the line that the Dane couldn't reach. Wozniacki never became (or was allowed to be) aggressive enough to counteract the tactic, and the final result was barely in doubt throughout the match as long as Goerges kept her wits about her. Chris Evert recently said she thought that Wozniacki would win at Roland Garros this spring, but I wonder what'd she say about that today? I was actually leaning toward maybe thinking about C-Woz in Paris, too. But now I can't really see picking her there. That said, I have no freakin' idea who I'd pick right now. Of course, as soon as I DO settle on that answer then that player will then have ZERO chance of winning, I suspect, so maybe shying away from Caroline is good news for her. Meanwhile, I'm sensing the potential need for a pseudo-Kierkegaardian analysis of my slam feelings regarding Wozniacki in a few weeks... maybe featuring a few of those "Tennis Gods" that I'm so fond of (hint, hint). :ANSWER

All right, you brought her up. What does last week say about Wozniacki? :QUESTION:

Sure it was. Just like her countrywoman Andrea Petkovic, Goerges has potential oozing from her pores. They've even both knocked off Caroline Wozniacki in recent weeks (AP did it in Miami, the only time the Dane hasn't reached the final in her last six events). Petkovic probably should have had a shot at doing it in Stuttgart again before Goerges finally did it in the final, but she couldn't make the big shots even when they were served up to her on a silver platter (maybe the Porsche distracted her?). Come to think of it, that's the one problem with the growing band of Germans -- as good as they are, coming through all the time isn't as open-and-shut case as one might think it'd be. After the "Lost Generation" of German stars that never really developed in the wake of Steffi Graf's success, though, the recent rise of the current "Found Generation" has really been exciting. Four Germans were in the final eight in Stuttgart, and Goerges was the first native champ at the event since the mid-1990's. Sabine Lisicki is healthy enough (cross your fingers) that she was able to have a good week in singles AND doubles. Heck, ironically, even the player who was supposed to be the leader of the "LostGen" -- Anna-Lena Groenefeld -- had a fabulous week of her own on the ITF circuit in Belgium while her countrywomen were stoking the crowd back home. At times, Goerges looked positively lethal last week, unless she was forced to move forward toward the net, at least. But it should be noted that she advanced past Victoria Azarenka without winning a set, as the Belarusan retired with a shoulder injury in the 2nd Round. Also, as good as she was last week, don't forget that Goerges has lost matches this season to Greta Arn, Polona Hercog, Han Xinyun, Ksenia Pervak, Elena Vesnina and Melanie Oudin. Those aren't bad players by any stretch, but that less-than-murderers row of conquerors surely speaks to Goerges' general inability to bring her best game to the court on a week in, week out basis. It could be that neither Wozniacki nor Goerges might succeed Francesca Schiavone in Paris, but you can likely be certain that the Dane will at least be in the mix in the late-going. With Goerges, who knows? :ANSWER

Speaking of Goerges (I'm ignoring the Kim comment, for now). So, was that title run impressive or what? :QUESTION

Good question, nameless Backspin aficionado most definitely not also named Todd. I'd pretty much decided to do the "Backwards" edition before the Stuttgart final was even set (sorry, Alberta Brianti, but you weren't going to get headline treatment anyway). I actually held off on this as long as possible. It usually arrives in February when the natural post-Oz lull takes place. It says a lot about this season that that lull never really happened, and really didn't this week, either. But some things just cannot be stopped. You know, sort of like needless Kim-aggrandizing honors that come out of nowhere, make no sense whatsoever and are actually offensive on some levels. :ANSWER

So, Todd, why are you once again using this gimmicky "Backwards Backspin" trick? Isn't it getting old? As usual when you do this, it seems as if you're not giving this week's tour singles champions -- especially Julia Goerges -- the proper attention compared to the "Players of the Week" the rest of the season. Didn't the result in Stuttgart qualify as another of those great-moments-overlooked-because-everyone-would-rather-talk-about-who's-NOT-playing that you've been stuck on for the last two months? :QUESTION

2011, 25 April, Monday


Blogger Jeppe said...

J-Go? You ought not split the 'oe' as it is really one German letter 'ö' as in Görges. End of lesson :-)

Julia reminds me a lot of Kvitova, except she is dark-haired and right-handed. Whatever happened to Petra, by the way - wasn't she supposed to be the next big thing?

Caroline is in the middle of a hard physical training programme in preparation for her monstrous 'all in' summer schedule, and she wasn't supposed to be competitive this week according to Piotr, so I wouldn't worry to much about her prospects based on the Stuttgart final. I'm pretty sure she will do very well in Madrid and Paris.

Mon Apr 25, 04:27:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fight was there you write - uhm was it? - I don't think so. It was a C-Woz on the brink of "enough is enough". The same morning she had been out running with a follow up of fitness like she had done ALL week in Stuttgart, because that tournament was only part of the training for RG. That's normally NOT the way you plan a final but Piotr told the press that there should be no difference to the other days. I don't know if I like the way they are handling her training. In fact I'm worried about C-Woz well being. In the game she had the same loss of glimpse in her eyes as I spotted in Miami. Her body was on the brink of calling it the day. Unprecise balls, no netgames which she actually has improved, 1 ace (I guess?) and that she has improved too - I could go on but my point is - Won't we rather have a healthy C-Woz than a robot which she's on the brink to be? I go for the healthy C-Woz. What do you say?

Mon Apr 25, 04:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

"You ought not split the 'oe' as it is really one German letter 'ö' as in Görges."

Yes--just ask the genius who made the photo shoot banner in Stuttgart :(

Tue Apr 26, 11:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...


I actually like that. From now on, "J-Goe" it is, then. Or maybe "J-Gö?" :)

Yeah, as I have noted, the one thing that Kvitova has had trouble doing is following up her big results. She had a prolonged lack of results after her Wimbledon SF, and then has again (though not for as long) after Paris. It should be mentioned that she did have some (minor?) injury issues after Paris, and performed rather well in Fed Cup the other week. So, I'm hopeful the wait for good results will end soon.

I'm sure Wozniacki will do well this spring, but the only thing anyone will talk about will be whether or not she wins in Paris. It's a great continuing story.

Speaking of that, I was working on the Capsule for '91 RG last night and saw that I was talking then about Novotna's lack of a slam title. Who knew it'd be SEVEN YEARS before she'd finally win one. Hopefully, Wozniacki's tale will be more "short story length" than "epic novel."


Well, I think the fight I was talking about was more in the Petkovic match than in the final. She really should have lost early in the week, but battled through it. Although, Wozniacki DID have a few opportunities to get back into things vs. Goerges, but that 0-for-5 BP number says a lot.

Sure, there's always the risk of pushing too hard physically. Look at Jankovic -- another #1 player with a similarly-loaded schedule -- a while back. Her training prepared her well for the pre-US Open hard court season, though. So I wouldn't rule anything out yet.



(I didn't have much to add there, but I wanted to say SOMETHING, I guess.) :D

Wed Apr 27, 04:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

It speaks for itself!

Thu Apr 28, 10:31:00 AM EDT  

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