2011 3Q Awards: The Long Road to a Good End
"That's everything you would ever want to do in a moment like that. I couldn't have dreamed of playing a better match."
-- Samantha Stosur
*2011 3Q Awards - Wks.27-36*
1. Samantha Stosur, AUS
...as the U.S. Open began, who would have thought that the ultimate rising-from-the-ashes-of-2011 star of the 3rd Quarter wouldn't be named Serena? Stosur might have wanted to play on Ashe before the final, or enjoyed a little of the spotlight pretty much everyone else who reached the latter stages of the tournament enjoyed. But would she have held her nerve through it all to reach the final, and then pull off a career-defining performance against Williams in the final, too? We'll never know. And it doesn't matter anyway. The Ballad of Slingin' Sammy ends up with a delightful completion of a career arc, after all. Who'd have guessed?
2. Serena Williams, USA
...she was the class of the North American hard court circuit, and the Open. Well, at least until she played in the Open final.
3. Liezel Huber & Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
...the veteran pair ended the quarter with a flourish, winning in Toronto and then at Flushing Meadows, too. It gave Raymond her first tour title since '06, and Huber her first doubles slam since her bad break-up with Cara Black. It propelled Huber back to #1 in the doubles rankings, too. Ironic, since it was Black's (according to Huber, at least) preoccupation with her own #1 ranking that caused some of the tension between her and the woman with whom she won 29 of her 46 career doubles titles.
4. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
...her Open result was a disappointment, but her pre-NYC results (including a title in Carlsbad) is enough to lift her above a group of players with similarly-uneven 3Q results.
5. Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
...they won Cincinnati and (almost) defended their U.S. Open crown.
BEST OF THE REST:
6. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS
8. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
9. Angelique Kerber, GER
10. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
HM- Sabine Lisicki/GER, Andrea Petkovic/GER & Peng Shuai/CHN
1. Samantha Stosur, AUS
2. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
3. Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
4. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
6. Sabine Lisicki, GER
7. Andrea Petkovic, GER
8. Peng Shuai, CHN
9. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
10. Angelique Kerber, GER
11. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
12. Polona Hercog, SLO
13. Victoria Azarenka/Maria Kirilenko, BLR/RUS
14. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
15. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
HM- Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
1. Christina McHale, USA
2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
3. Monica Niculescu, ROU
4. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
5. Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
6. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
7. Tamira Paszek, AUT
8. Ayumi Morita, JPN
9. Sloane Stephens, USA
10. Madison Keys, USA
11. Irina Falconi, USA
12. Misaka Doi, JPN
13. Heather Watson, GBR
14. Laura Robson, GBR
15. Petra Martic, CRO
HM- Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
1. Grace Min, USA
2. Victoria Kan, RUS
3. Yulia Putintseva, RUS
4. Caroline Garcia, FRA
5. Anett Kontaveit, EST
6. Irina Khromacheva, RUS
7. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
8. Nicole Gibbs, USA
9. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
10. Krista Hardebeck, USA
11. Ellen Allgurin, SWE
12. Francoise Abanda, CAN
13. Demi Schuurs, NED
14. Nastja Kolar, SLO
15. Victoria Duval, USA
HM- Indy de Vroome, NED
1. Angelique Kerber, GER
2. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
3. Galina Voskoboeva, KAZ
4. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT
5. Natalie Grandin/Vladimira Uhlirova, RSA/CZE
6. Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
7. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
8. Marina Erakovic, NZL
9. Johanna Larsson, SWE
10. Sofia Arvidsson, SWE
11. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
12. Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
13. Alexandra Panova, RUS
14. Mariya Koryttseva, UKR
15. Romina Oprandi, ITA
HM- Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
3. Nadia Petrova, RUS
4. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
5. Roberta Vinci, ITA
6. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
7. Zheng Jie, CHN
8. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
9. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
10. Natalie Grandin, RSA
HM- Tatiana Poutchek, BLR
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
3. Melanie Oudin, USA
4. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
5. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
6. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
7. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
8. Urszula Radwanska, POL
9. Aravane Rezai, FRA
10. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
HM- Sania Mirza, IND
"You never know how it is going in the head." - Petra Kvitova
1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Li Na, CHN
3. Kim Clijsters, BEL
4. Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA
5. Venus Williams, USA
HM- Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
1. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
2. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
3. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
4. Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
5. Mathilde Johansson, FRA
6. Alexandra Cadantu, ROU
7. Nastassja Burnett, ITA
8. Victoria Larriere, FRA
9. Iryna Bremond, FRA
10. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
11. Victoria Kan, RUS
12. Yulia Putintseva, RUS
13. Polina Vinogradova, RUS
14. Carolina Pillot, FRA
15. Indire Akiki, CRO
"I just remember that I lost, and that was that. I got really popular, a lot of people were telling me I was, like 'super cool,' that they never saw me so intense." - Serena Williams, in the Open's early days, trying to put her '09 U.S. Open "incident" -- for which she was fined a record amount and put on "behavioral probation" -- behind her
1. Stosur at the Open.
Not only did she become the first Aussie woman to win a slam since 1981 (and first in NY since '73), she also won the longest-ever U.S. Open women's match (3:16 vs. Petrova) AND participated in the longest (32-point) women's tie-break in grand slam history. And she did most of it under the cover of darkness, away from the show courts while other "bigger-named" players were hogging the spotlight. Played a day late because of weather delays, the finals set all of that right, though, as Stosur's masterful 6-2/6-3 win over Serena fits in rather snugly next to Sharapova's win over Williams at Wimbledon in '04 as the most surprising performance by ANYONE against the American in a big-stage final.
2. Serena in North America
Williams ruled the courts before her loss to Stosur, claiming two titles and winning all eighteen matches she played. Oddly enough, the only match she didn't win during the stretch came when she pulled out of her 2nd Round contest against Stosur in Cincinnati due to an injured big toe.
3. The Wozniacki Open, Pt. IV
...after a summer filled with uncharacteristic early-round losses, a public relationship with golfer Rory McIlroy and stories about a new "mystery" coach, Caroline Wozniacki finally had an experience that felt familiar -- winning her fourth straight title in New Haven and celebrating with the Yale football team (and McIroy).
Doing C-Woz one better, Lucie Hradecka won her fifth consecutive doubles titles at Bad Gastein
Doing Serena one match better, Grace Min won the U.S. Open Girls title without dropping a set
The Washington Kastles, with both Serena and Venus for part of the season, completed the first undefeated (16-0) record in the WTT's 36-year history.
1. US Open 3rd Rd - Stosur d. Petrova
...7-6/6-7/7-5. Petrova saved four match points, but came up short in the Open's longest-ever women's match. Naturally, Stosur went on to win the title. Oh, Nadia.
2. Cincinnati 3rd Rd - Jankovic d. Schiavone
...6-3/5-7/6-4. JJ fails to put away a match point in the 2nd, then nearly blows a 5-1 lead in the 3rd before winning in 2:38. In between, trainers were called and arguments were had with coaches and the umpire. In other words, it was a mixture of "the usual" from these two.
3. US Open 3rd Rd - Pennetta d. Sharapova
...6-3/3-6/6-4. In a match of wild swings, the final one went Pennetta's way, as she build an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the 3rd by sweeping the trio of games in which Sharapova had held game points. In the end, the Russian's doubles-faults and unforced errors (60 in all) put the first blemish on her previously 12-0 record in three-setters in '11.
Victoria Azarenka served down 1-6/3-5, love/40 against Serena Williams in their 3rd Round U.S. Open match. She saved three match points in the game, then a fourth on Williams' serve. She then broke Serena's serve with a block-back winner to become the first to break the American's serve in the tournament. After saving break points in game #12, Azarenka pushed the set to a tie-break. Williams won it 7-5, but Azarenka proved herself worthy of the day's stage... as well as possibly the one reserved for a future grand slam champion.
In their Round of 16 U.S. Open match, Samantha Stosur and Maria Kirilenko did battle in a (women's slam record) 32-point tie-break to decide the 2nd set. Stosur held five match points during the TB, while Kirilenko took six set points (and three successful replay challenges) to finally win it 17-15. On her eighth match point, though, Stosur finally won the match -- and, later, the tournament -- in three.
1. US Open 1st Rd - Dulgheru d. Kvitova 7-6/6-3
US Open 1st Rd - Halep d. Li 6-2/7-5
...at the hands of two Romanians, the Wimbledon and Roland Garros champions crash out of what would be the "longest ever" Open before it had barely even begun. Hmmm, were they the lucky ones?
2. Cincinnati 1st Rd - McHale d. Wozniacki
...6-4/7-5. The young American's upset of the world #1 set the stage for the Bannerettes' unexpected successes at the Open.
3. Toronto 3rd Rd - Voskoboeva d. Sharapova
...6-3/7-5. Sharapova's title in Cincinnati was sandwiched between her self-destructing U.S. Open loss to Pennetta and this defeat at the hands of world #135 Voskoboeva.
1. US Open 4th Rd - Pennetta d. Peng
...6-4/7-6. With the humid conditions making Pennetta sick and near vomiting in the backcourt, she failed to serve out the match at 6-4/6-5, 30/love, committing an unforced error on match point. Seemingly needing to win in straight sets to have any shot to physically be able to complete the match, the Italian fell behind 5-0 and 6-2 in the 2nd set tie-break. But not one to go out without a fight -- especially at the Open -- Pennetta went for broke in her attempt to wrap up her unfinished business. Saving four match points, she won the tie-break 8-6. Unfortunately, her QF loss to Angelique Kerber prevented her from reaching her first-ever slam semi.
2. US Open 2nd Rd - Falconi d. Cibulkova
...2-6/6-3/7-5. Down 4-1 and two breaks in the 3rd, on a match moved to Ashe Stadium only after Venus Williams' unexpected withdrawal from the tournament, Bannerette Falconi battled back to serve for the match at 5-4. She failed to do it, but got another chance at 6-5, finally winning on a flip shot across the net after she'd chased down a ball into the changeover area. Her victorious Connorsican explosion, on the 20th anniversary of Jimbo's wild Open ride, proved to be "the (most likely to be replayed) moment" of the tournament.
Serena Williams won her first titles in over a year, while Nadia Petrova won her first in nearly three (and came the closest to knocking out eventual Open champ Stosur in NYC). Both their summers were brought to an end by the Aussie, actually.
Jelena Jankovic back with Ricardo Sanchez; Ana Ivanovic with Nigel Sears.
Young Bannerette newcomers Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe and Irina Falconi (not to mention juniors Grace Min, Nicole Gibbs, Krista Hardebeck and Victoria Duval) grabbing the spotlight at Flushing Meadows. In something of a shock, as many American women won 1st Round main draw matches as did the Russians. Throw in Melanie Oudin's Mixed crown, Huber/Raymond's doubles title, Vania King (doubles), Gabrielle Andrews & Taylor Townsend (junior doubles) and Serena's (singles) runner-up performances, and this year's U.S. Open had more of an American flavor than any in quite some time.
"Are you the one who screwed me over the last time here? ...Do you have it out for me? ... If you see me walking down a hall, look away. ...You are totally out of control. ...You're a hater, and you're just unattractive inside. ...We are in America, last I checked. ...And I never complain." - some of Serena Williams' comments to chair umpire Eva Azderaki after being given a point penalty for shouting during a point
The '11 slam champions in New York: Kvitova and Li choking in Flushing Meadows, and Clijsters not even being able to show up
Serena Williams, overblown "controversy" or not, giving all her critics something to harp on by once again sounding off against an umpire in a big match. She was fined only $2000, and spared a suspension for her less-than-"major" infraction... setting off yet another round of griping. Hmmm, maybe if someone's temper was controlled at the beginning of these incidents there wouldn't be such a long and distasteful aftertaste trailing behind them. Just a thought.
"My emotions did get the best of me this past weekend when I disagreed with the umpire." - Serena Williams, on Twitter, days after her on-court blow-up with umpire Eva Azderaki
=THE ?????? (TO BE DETERMINED LATER)=
Wozniacki and her "mystery coach," and what it will mean for her future.
=THE BET YOU DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING=
A German reached the U.S. Open semis, but it wasn't Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges, or even Steffi Graf. It was world #92 Angelique Kerber.
=THE "IF YOU'VE FORGOTTEN THAT HENIN PLAYED THIS SEASON, DID YOU ALSO FORGET THAT CLIJSTERS PLAYED IN NORTH AMERICA THIS SUMMER?" MOMENT=
Clijsters played a single match on hard courts, losing (6-3/1-2 ret.) in the 2nd Round in Toronto to Zheng Jie, retiring with a stomach muscle injury to go along with her previous ankle, toe, foot, shoulder and wrist injuries in 2011.
Jelena Jankovic (vs. Elena Vesnina in the 1st Round in New Haven) was playing a match when a 5.8 earthquake hit the American east coast a few days before the start of the U.S. Open.
After famously dramatic '11 slam turns in Melbourne (vs. Kuznetsova), Paris (vs. Pavlyuchenkova) and London (vs. Paszek), Francesca Schiavone weaved another spellbinder against Chanelle Scheepers in the 3rd Round in New York, coming back to win from 7-5/5-4 and a match point down.
=THE REALITY OF THINKING GOOD THOUGHTS=
Both Alisa Kleybanova (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) and Venus Williams (Sjogren's Syndrome) announced that they were dealing with health issues.
=THE PROOF THAT THE POWERS-THAT-BE HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO=
WTA head Stacey Allaster said that she'd consider the use of an on-court "decibal meter" to help dole out penalties/fines for players' in-match grunts/shrieks/moans
=and (more) THEATRE OF THE ABSURD=
With hurricane-related delays cancelling flights on the East coast, both of Venus Williams' scheduled early-round U.S. Open opponents -- Vesna Dolonts (coming from Russia) & Sabine Lisicki (Dallas) had difficulties getting into New York.
Alize Cornet's cell phone went off during a Bastad match right as Caroline Wozniacki was serving for the match against her.
Bojana Jovanovski left Washington D.C. for a flight to her next tournament in Carlsbad, California -- only to have her plane set down in Carlsbad, New Mexico, 983 miles away. She finally arrived on the tournament grounds thirty minutes before her 1st Round match. She lost to Roberta Vinci.
Of course, all that has nothing on trying to figure out which woman should be 2011's "Ms. Backspin." But more on that game of 52-card pick-up next week.
All for now.