Monday, March 26, 2012

Wk.12- Vika... the Savior?

Hmmm, what's happened in Miami? Well, Venus is back. But Petra isn't. Alisa has returned. But Kim is still dealing with "wedding issues." Oh, yeah. And Vika STILL hasn't lost.

(HALF-WAY) PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT: Victoria Azarenka/BLR far as headline-grabbing goes, Venus might be considered here. But when we're nearly into April and the #1 player still hasn't lost a match, she can't be passed up. The streak (it's being fitted for a capital "S," but it's not yet appropriate) is now at 25 matches heading into Azarenka's 4th Rounder today with Dominika Cibulkova. Mostly, Miami has provided more of the same of what we've seen throughout 2012 with Vika. She even wiped out Heather Watson again, just as she did in Melbourne (6-0/6-2 instead of 6-1/6-0, though... proof that Vika's dominance is "slipping"). Oh, she DID change things up a little! She was wearing blue shorts instead of white ones during the Watson match. Always keepin' us guessing.
RISER: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL
...for once, Wickmayer wasn't overshadowed by another Belgian. In fact, she beat that particular Waffle -- Kim Clijsters -- in the 3rd Round. The finally-returning KC is still being bothered by that ankle that first became a major issue last year when she injured it dancing at her cousin's wedding.
SURPRISE: Garbine Muguruza-Blanco/ESP
...GMB just made her first Backspin appearance last week in the Fresh Face category after winning the $25K challenger in Clearwater, Florida. Liking the weather down there, the 18-year old Spaniard decided to stick around while. With a wild card in hand to get into the Miami main draw (her first tour level event), she showed up and defeated Ayumi Morita, Vera Zvonareva and Flavia Pennetta in succession. Hello.
VETERANS: Venus Williams/USA & the winner of Serena vs. Stosur
...after dealing with her health issues since late last summer, Venus finally played her first tour singles match since the U.S. Open in Miami. In her first set back, she bageled Kimiko Date-Krumm. In her second match, she bageled Petra Kvitova in the 3rd set. In her third (loved the shorts... I sense a WTA trend), she went three hours against Aleksandra Wozniak, winning despite seeing the Canadian serving for the match up 5-4, 30/love. Meanwhile, the U.S. Open final rematch is taking place this afternoon in Miami between Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur. Sammy came is wearing that white "potato sack dress," so things didn't look good for her before the ball was struck. As this is posted, Serena has put away the 1st set.
COMEBACK: Alisa Kleybanova/RUS
...after ten months away getting treatment for Hodgkin's, Kleybanova returned with a 1st Round win in Miami over Johanna Larsson. "I'm just happy that I'm here and that I'm able to play again. And, I'm feeling healthy and having fun again," said Kleybanova. "It's not the most important thing in my life anymore. So I'm just going to try and enjoy every day that I'm on the court."
FRESH FACES: Sloane Stephens/USA & Madison Keys/USA
...if the tournament is held in the U.S., look for the Bannerettes to make some noise. Stephens and Keys did so once again in Miami. Both qualified (Keys got wins over Olga Govortsova and Anastasia Rodionova, while Stephens downed Sania Mirza), then advanced with 1st Round wins over Magdalena Rybarikova (Keys) and Pauline Parmentier (Stephens). The Happy Tweeter got an addtional nice victory over Sara Errani before losing to Maria Sharapova, while Keys was taken out by Agniewska Radwanska. Hmmm, speaking of what to expect when a tournament is held in the United States...
DOWN: Petra Kvitova/CZE
...whew, is the WTA lucky to have Victoria Azarenka right now. Otherwise, the biggest stories so far in '12 would be the absences of veteran stars like KC and the Sisters in recent months, Wozniacki's fall and Kvitova's failure to overcome illness or asthma or whatever happens to be troubling her of late. Kvitova's 2nd Round loss to Venus (getting bageled in the 3rd will just not do, no matter how well Williams might have played) drops her to 10-21 in matches played in the U.S.. Thankfully for her, and a tour hoping that this issue resolves itself right-quick, she'll be playing in Europe soon.
...three years ago, Savic took a break from tennis to travel the world with her sister, who's a model. Now 22, the Croat is back. Four events into her comeback, she's STILL undefeated. She won her fourth straight challenger title in Week 12's $10K Almaty event, defeating Lisa Sabino in the final when the Italian retired after five games. Savic is now 20-0 on the season, and leads the ITF circuit in titles.
JUNIOR STAR: Anna Danilina/KAZ
...the 16-year old wins this honor for the second straight week with another high-level junior event title. This time, the Top 20 junior won the Grade A Porto Alegre, Brazil tournament as the #10 seed, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2/6-3 in the final. Haddad Maia, by the way, seems to be specializing in losing junior event finals. She recently lost back-to-back deciders to Chalena Scholl, as well.

[Miami Week 1 - Tuesday-Monday afternoon]
1. Mia 2nd Rd - V.Williams d. Kvitova
Venus gets her 600th career match win. Though it's hard to remember right about now, Kvitova is still 14-4 on the season, with her Hopman Cup matches thrown in.
2. Mia 1st Rd - Kleybanova d. Larsson
"For everyone else it's just the 1st round, but for me it's very emotional. I'll always remember it. It will always be the first match of my comeback."
3. Mia 3rd Rd - V.Williams d. Wozniak
A-Woz's resurgence continues. Coming off her string of successful qualifying runs, a close loss to Stephens in Indian Wells, and a $100K title, she qualified in Miami and then came within an eyelash of taking out Venus. Of course, the way she crumbled when she got to within two points of the win also shows that she's still got a ways to go to come close to returning to her old Stanford title-winning self.
4. Mia 3rd Rd - Wickmayer d. Clijsters
Kim says she'll play out her final season until the end of the year. She saved six match points before finally going out here, but she's clearly not 100%. And that doesn't speak well for her prospects as the season advances. Hmmm, I wonder if KC will attend Maria Sharapova's November wedding in Istanbul? If she's invited, maybe she should take a pass for safety's sake... either that, or literally strap herself to a chair whenever the dancing music begins to play.
5. Mia 1st Rd - Watson d. Cirstea
At least Watson had something good to remember from Miami before she was once again crushed by Vika. She came back from a 5-0 3rd set deficit, saving two match points, to defeat Cirstea.
6. Mia Doubles 1st Rd - Goerges/Stosur d. Huber/Raymond
The duo's 16-match win streak comes to an unceremonious end. This was part of the doubles bloodbath in Miami, where the teams of Peschke/Srebotnik, Hlavackova/Hradecka and Benesova/Zahlavova-Strycova also went out shockingly early.
7. Mia 2nd Rd - Barthel d. Jankovic
Ouch. Where's Ricardo when JJ needs him?
8. Mia 2nd Rd - Cetkovska d. McHale
Another blown lead. Not the comeback after I.W. that Christina was hoping for.
9. $25 Ipswich Final - Sandra Zaniewska/POL d. Ashleigh Barty/AUS
The teenaged Aussie reaches her third '12 challenger final, losing for the first time.
10. Mia 2nd - Soler-Espinosa d. Kanepi
Under the radar, Kanepi is simply having a regrettable season so far.

1. Mia 1st Rd - K.Bondarenko d. U.Radwanska
K-Bond wins the battle of the two qualifying halves of a pair of famous tennis siblings.
2. $25K Phuket QF - Noppawan Lertcheewakarn d. #1 Erika Sema 6-4/2-6/6-1
$25K Ipswich QF - Tina Schiechtel d. #1 Yurika Sema 0-6/6-3/6-3
a pair of #1-seeded Semas = zero singles titles in Week 12.
3. $10K Antalya Doubles Final - Evelyn Mayr/Julia Mayr d. Giovine/Mircic
Hmmm, the Mayr sisters didn't win a singles title, either. But at least they made up for it in doubles. Unless the Semas possess cloning technology, that wasn't possible for them.

**LONG WTA WIN STREAKS - last 10 years**
32...Justine Henin, 2007-08
24...Justine Henin-Hardenne, 2005
22...Kim Clijsters, 2005
22...Lindsay Davenport, 2004
22...Justine Henin-Hardenne, 2003

25...VICTORIA AZARENKA, BLR (January 2012-current)
14...Petra Kvitova, CZE (October 2011-January 2012)
NOTE #1: Kvitova also won 4 exhibition matches at Hopman Cup
NOTE #2: Agniewska Radwanska won 10 straight matches, w/ walkover loss after 7th win (Feb-Mar)

NEXT UP: The Anti-Backspin Team

All for now.


Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

4th Rd. - Serena d. Stosur 7-5/6-3
...Stosur serves seven DF's, saves 2 MP at 5-2 in the 2nd. But Serena gets her revenge for NYC, hollow though it may be.

Mon Mar 26, 03:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I feel like there's always chaos in the draw when the veterans come back to play...not just with those guys playing and upsetting seeds...but ppl are looking to upset others...(i.e. cibulkova v. azarenka)


Todd, go back 15 years on the streaks!! :)

Thanks for quantifying the period of time though. :)

Mon Mar 26, 06:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Todd, were you watching at work???


Mon Mar 26, 06:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

wow. Vika has guts.

Dominika sure won me over tonight too.

Mon Mar 26, 08:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Cibulkova was amazing, but Vika showed just how much she's grown up tonight. She might have come back in a match like that in the past (and did once in a similar match against CSN), but it would have included a whole lot of histrionics. This time, she was calm and collected (only sailing a ball in frustration once), and did what a champion is supposed to do when trying to climb out of a DEEP hole against a player playing out of her mind.

Mon Mar 26, 10:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


I keep thinking about yesterday's match lol!

I'm curious to see how others play Vika now...Cibulkova kind of exposed some of her weaknesses...Vika's serve and her hesitant first step towards the ball...but man Vika's slice has really deep and accurate...and the pace is pretty quick too.

And I wonder about Cibulkova's shoulder...she must be hitting most balls at shoulder height and she's able to add so much power. She must do a lot of strength training.

Tue Mar 27, 09:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

One of the things Cibulkova has done is to re-frame her "problem." Her center of gravity is so low, she says, that she can generate all kinds of power. By keeping herself strong, she works (very well) with what she has.

Tue Mar 27, 10:33:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I need to learn to reframe my problems like that...

that's great insight Diane...did you read that in a presser?

Tue Mar 27, 10:55:00 AM EDT  

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