Monday, September 19, 2011

Wk.37- Double Trouble

It's a double-Backspin day!

After the conclusion of the longest U.S. Open in the history of civilization, with or without handi-wipes, I just couldn't bring myself to do the 3Q Awards last week. So they'll belatedly arrive (fashionably late... you know, sort of like Serena's Twitter "apology") today, following this semi-sweet regular Monday offering.

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (Int'l $220K/hard court outdoor)
S: Ksenia Pervak def. Eva Birnerova 6-3/6-1
D: Daniilidou/Diatchenko d. Kichenok/Kichenok

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC CAN (Int'l $220K/hard court indoor)
S: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova def. Marina Erakovic 4-6/6-1/6-0
D: Kops-Jones/Spears d. Hampton/Tatishvili

...the 20-year old Hordette apparently specializes in reaching tour singles finals in places that seem "far off" and have "z's" in their names. A few months ago, she reached her first career final in Baku, Azerbaijan, losing to Vera Zvonareva (geez... another "z"). This weekend, after making her way through the likes of Galina Voskoboeva, qualifier Victoria Larriere and Urszula Radwanska (another "z"), the #1-seeded Pervak defeated Czech (hello... a "z") Eva Birnerova to claim her first career WTA crown in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Only the third first-time titlist of 2011 (she'd be followed by a fourth winner's circle newcomer one day later in Quebec City), Pervak is up to a new career-high ranking of #37, making her the eighth-highest ranked Russian of the ten currently in the Top 50.
RISERS: Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE & Marina Erakovic/NZL

...these two were the women playing in the Quebec City final for the right to become the season's fourth first-time WTA champion. In the end, it was BZS kissing a trophy for the first time. At 25, Zahlavova-Strycova was playing in her second career final (Prague '10) after notching wins over Zhang Shuai, Mirjana Lucic, Andrea Hlavackova and Michaella Krajicek. At 23, Kiwi Erakovic was playing in her first final after taking out U.S. Open Girls runner-up Caroline Garcia, (temporary) Open star Irina Falconi, #1-seed Daniela Hantuchova and defending champ Tamira Paszek. With the Czech's victory in the final, Erakovic can now say that on two occasions in '11 she has managed to defeat both the #1 seed and defending champ at an event (after having defeated Azarenka, filling both roles, in Stanford), but didn't ultimately win the title either time. No other woman can say as much this season. So, at least she has that goin' for her. Which is nice.
SURPRISES: Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears (USA/USA) & Victoria Larriere/FRA Quebec City, the all-American pair of Kops-Jones & Spears won their second (w/ Estoril '09) tour title as a pair. It's 28-year old Kops-Jones' (who won Quebec in '07, as well) fourth WTA crown, and 30-year old Spears' sixth. Meanwhile, in Tashkent, 20-year old world #262, Pastry Victoria Larriere, a star on the ITF circuit this year with four titles, qualified and reached her first career tour QF before losing to eventual champion Pervak. She got main draw wins over Zuzana Kucova and Magdalena Rybarikova.
COMEBACK: Urszula Radwanska/POL
...a few years ago, U-Rad seemed ready to follow in the footsteps of her sister Agnieszka as a Top 20 player. In 2007, she won the Wimbledon junior crown and reached the U.S. Open Girls final, climbing to #1 in the junior ranks. But things haven't worked out all that well for her. She finished 2009 in the Top 100 for the first time after climbing as high as #62, but just as she was set to make a move on tour, injury took her out of the opening months of last season, and her climb back has been anything but quick. She finished last season at #191. This weekend in Tashkent, though, after arriving with a #121 ranking, the still-only-20 year old Pole finally reached her first career tour QF and SF, getting wins over Varvara Lepchenko, Akgul Amanmuradova and Eleni Daniilidou along the way. Her ranking is now at #105.
VETERANS: Eva Birnernova/CZE & Eleni Daniilidou/GRE
...the 27-year old Birnerova has been banging around the tour for a while now, qualifying for a slam here and there, but never making much of an impact in the WTA since reaching a career-high of #59 back in '07. After winning eight ITF singles crowns in her career, the world #115 reached her first career tour singles final in Tashkent after knocking off the likes of Evgeniya Rodina and defending champion Alla Kudryavtseva. Her week jumped her into the Top 100 at #93. Meanwhile, in the tournament's doubles competition, Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, 29 today (happy b-day!!), claimed the title with young Hordette Vitalia Diatchenko, defeating the Kichenok sisters -- Nadiya & Lyudmyla -- of Ukraine in the final. Daniilidou also reached the singles QF, getting wins over Misaki Doi and Pauline Parmentier.
FRESH FACES: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS & Ximena Hermoso/MEX
...Diatchenko, 21, recently added a $100K ITF singles challenger crown to a '11 resume that has included qualifying runs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. In Tashkent, she won her first career tour doubles crown with Daniilidou. She also got a win over Olga Govortsova in singles. Elsewhere, Mexico doesn't exactly have a great tennis history for current Mexican-born players to draw upon, but 20-year old Ximena Hermoso is doing her best to change that. Since she experienced a seven-match losing streak earlier this season, she's reached four ITF finals, winning her second this weekend by taking out Israel's Ofri Lankri in the final of the $10K challenger in Porto Rafti, Greece.
DOWN: Lucie Safarova/CZE
...there weren't really any good candidates for this award this week, what with most all the players who carry along expectations to every court on which they show up to play not participating this week. But, Safarova being Safarova, as the #2 seed in Quebec City, still managed to have one of her they-could-come-at-any-moment early-round losses to Andrea Hlavackova. So, she gets the Week 37 booby prize.
ITF PLAYERS: Anastasiya Yakimova/BLR & Silvia Soler-Espinosa/ESP
...once again, the ITF circuit doubled up on the $100K events last week, so there are co-winners for the second time in recent weeks. Yakimova, for her part, won her circuit-best SECOND $100K event of the season in the Ningbo, China event. She got wins over Stephanie Foretz-Gacon, Akiko Nakamura and Erika Sema in the final. In Sofia, Bulgaria, Soler-Espinosa, fresh off her "Last Qualifier Standing" 3rd Round run at Flushing Meadows, won the week's other $100K with a nice string of victories over Alexandra Cadantu (another recent $100K champ), Johanna Larsson, Catalina Castano and Romina Oprandi in the final.
JUNIOR STARS: Ilka Csoregi/ROU & Chalena Scholl/USA
...15-year old Swarmette Csoregi won the G2 Serbian Junior Open in Novi Sad, while 16-year old Scholl claimed the G3 Canadian World Ranking event in Montreal where, as the #8 seed, she knocked off the #2, #4 and #1 (Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR in the final) en route to the title.

1. Que Final - Zahlavova-Strycova d. Erakovic
A few Did-You-Know? facts: this was the fifth WTA singles final match-up in 2011 that included two unseeded players, and first-time career finalist Erakovic's loss means that the combined record of first-time finalists this season is now 0-8.
2. Tash Final - Pervak d. Birnerova

Pervak is the fifth different Hordette to win a tour singles title this year.
3. Que 1st Rd - Hlavackova d. Oudin
Proof that the U.S. Open Mixed Doubles title "carry-over" is zilch.
4. Que 1st Rd - Marino d. Dubois 6-2/6-4
Que 2nd Rd - Marino d. Wozniak 6-4/4-6/6-4
needless to say, Marino was the "Canadian of the Week."
5. Tash 1st Rd - Amanmuradova d. Rezai
Ugh, here we go again?
HM- $100K Ningbo 1st Rd - Karolina Pliskova d. Kristyna Pliskova
The Kichenok sisters didn't win in the Tashkent doubles final, but one of the Pliskova twins HAD to win when they faced off in the 1st Round in Ningbo. Karolina won, giving her a 3-2 lead over Kristyna in career pro match-ups. Together, they lost in the 1st Round in doubles. Afterward, they both traveled to Seoul for this week's WTA event. Kristyna managed to qualify, but Karolina didn't.

Dubai - Caroline Wozniacki
Indian Wells - Caroline Wozniacki
Marbella - Victoria Azarenka
Charleston - Caroline Wozniacki
Brussels - Caroline Wozniacki
Copenhagen - Caroline Wozniacki
Budapest - Roberta Vinci
Baku - Vera Zvonareva
New Haven - Caroline Wozniacki

[won title]
Auckland - Greta Arn (def. DC Wickmayer, #1 Sharapova)
Pattaya City - Daniela Hantuchova (def. DC/#1 Zvonareva)
[didn't win title]
Bogota - Han Xu (def. DC Duque-Marino, #1 Goerges = reached QF)
Bad Gastein - Laura Pous-Tio (def. DC/#1 Goerges = reached QF)
Stanford - Marina Erakovic (def. DC/#1 Azarenka = reached QF)
Toronto - Roberta Vinci (def. DC/#1 Wozniacki = reached QF)
Quebec City - MARINA ERAKOVIC (def. DC Paszek/#1 Hantuchova = reached Final)

4...Maria Sharapova (2-2)
3...Vera Zvonareva (2-1)
1...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1-0)
1...Nadia Petrova (1-0)
1...Svetlana Kuznetsova (0-1)
1...Elena Vesnina (0-1)

Brisbane - Petra Kvitova/CZE d. Andrea Petkovic/GER
Bogota - Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP d. Mathilde Johansson/FRA
Estoril - Anabel Medina-Garrigues/ESP d. Kristina Barrois/GER
Bad Gastein - M.J. Martinez-Sanchez/ESP d. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner/AUT (WC)

**LOW-RANKED 2011...**
#169 - Serena Williams, USA (Stanford - W)
#138 - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (Marbella - L)
#115 - EVA BIRNERNOVA, CZE (Tashkent - L)
#114 - Aravane Rezai, FRA (Dallas - L)
#109 - Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT (Bad Gastein - L)
#105 - Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK (Memphis - W)
#100 - Sabine Lisicki, GER (Birmingham - W)
#187 - Mona Barthel, GER (Copenhagen - SF)
#169 - Serena Williams, USA (Stanford - W)
#165 - Mariya Koryttseva, UKR (Baku - SF)
#162 - Galina Voskoboeva, KAZ (Baku - SF)
#150 - Michaella Krajicek, NED (Kuala Lumpur - SF)
#138 - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (Marbella - RU)
#138 - MICHAELLA KRAJICEK, NED (Quebec City - SF)
#121 - URSZULA RADWANSKA, POL (Tashkent - SF)

13...RUSSIA (7 titles)
8...Denmark (6)
6...Germany (4)
6...Italy (4)
6...Australia (3)
6...France (1)

**WEEKS IN 2011 TOP 10 - of 38 weeks**
38...Caroline Wozniacki *
38...Victoria Azarenka *
38...Vera Zvonareva *
38...Francesca Schiavone *
38...Kim Clijsters *
37...Samantha Stosur *
34...Li Na *
25...Maria Sharapova *
22...Jelena Jankovic
20...Petra Kvitova *
18...Marion Bartoli *
13...Venus Williams
9...Serena Williams
7...Agnieszka Radwanska
4...Elena Dementieva (retired)
1...Andrea Petkovic
* - currently in Top 10

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (Int'l $220K/hard outdoor)
10 Final: Kleybanova d. Zakopalova
11 Top Seeds: Schiavone/Bartoli
10 Doubles Champions: Goerges/Hercog

#1/WC Schiavone d. (Q) Shvedova
#7 Begu d. #3 Goerges
#1/WC Schiavone d. #7 Begu

...Schiavone hasn't won a hard court title since Moscow in '09. She's probably due.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA (Int'l $220K/hard outdoor)
10 Final: Gajdosova (still "Groth" at the time) d. Kudryavtseva
11 Top Seeds: Kirilenko/Gajdosova
10 Doubles Champions: Gallovits-Hall/Mirza

#1 Kirilenko d. #3 Pervak
Zheng Jie d. Zhang Shuai
#1 Kirilenko d. Zheng Jie

...correctly picking Pervak to win a title in back-to-back weeks seems a longshot, so I'll take a different Russian. Three of Kirilenko's five titles have come in Asia... plus, Stosur isn't in town.

3Q Awards soon. All for now.

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