January BSA's: To the Vika Go the Spoils
The debate will rage on about whether or not The Radwanska won ground, lost ground or laid the groundwork for future havoc in Melbourne. But the discussion about who is 2013's first "Player of the Month" is a bit more cut and dry.
And, naturally, it's the one player that has always seemed to be immune to The Rad's evil ways. Some things never change.
*January Awards - Wk.1-4*
1. Victoria Azarenka, BLR ...Vika wasn't perfect. But do we really want her to be? She wasn't exactly mindful of how her actions would be interpreted, either, when her infamous ten-minute medical timeout helped her put away a match she'd essentially dominated from the start in the AO semifinals, save for a few minutes late in the 2nd set. But she wouldn't be Vika if she worried TOO much about such things. Her successful defense of her title in Melbourne wasn't helped along or welcomed by a large groundswell of support. But so what? Azarenka is now a MULTIPLE grand slam champion, has reached three straight hard court slam finals, and her experience weathering the media storm of yet another AO should only serve to help her win a third slam in the near future. At least. One season after opening with a 26-match winning streak, Azarenka has yet to lose in the nine matches (minus the walkover against Serena in Brisbane) she's actually played in 2013.
2. Li Na, CHN
...Li opened the season with a singles title back home in China, then took Carlos Rodriguez to Australia and proved that their coach/pupil pairing is, indeed, as intriguing as it sounded last summer. A dominating win over Maria Sharapova put the veteran in her second career AO final, and third slam, where Li, after injuring her ankle and twice tumbling to the court, became just the second woman (along with herself in Melbourne two years ago) in the last twenty-six slam finals to win the 1st set, but lose the match.
3. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
...for a while, A-Rad seemed unbeatable. Probably because she was. She opened her season by winning back-to-back titles without dropping a set, then reached the AO quarterfinals before oddly going out to Li while displaying little of the fight she's shown while climbing the rankings in the last year and a half.
4. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
...even as the #1 seeds, and with a hard court slam title in hand, the Italians weren't expected to contend for the AO crown. Of course, that was because the Williams Sisters were in their section of the draw. After seeing both Venus and Serena fail to serve out a straight sets win, Errani & Vinci came storming back to take the match, and then a third slam title to go along with their 2012 runs in Paris and Flushing Meadows.
5. Serena Williams, USA
...carrying over her dominance from last season, Serena breezed to a title in Brisbane. A rolled ankle in the 1st Round in Melbourne kicked off what she called the worst slam experience of her career. A doubles loss followed, along with a back injury and QF upset (for the first time ever) at the hands of an American younger than herself. Still, she was set to become the oldest-ever WTA singles #1 at 31... and then Azarenka came back from a set down to defend her title and retain the spot. The field might be smart to go ahead and start worrying about what Serena will do at Roland Garros to put this AO out of her mind.
6. Sloane Stephens, USA
...after waiting patiently for her arrival, the first actual sightings of "Future Sloane" took place Down Under, as the 19-year old reached two semifinals, including one at the Australian Open, became a sudden star by upsetting Serena Williams, and then an "honorary Aussie" because she wasn't Vika Azarenka.
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS
...she was the toast of the Aussie Open, losing a record-low total of nine games en route to the semis. Then she got run over by Li.
8. Elena Vesnina, RUS
...after going 0-6 in tour singles final, Vesnina finally got her first title in Hobart. She then followed up with a Round of 16 run in Melbourne, along with a doubles SF.
9. Jamie Hampton, USA
...before Stephens stole her thunder, Hampton was the Bannerette-with-the-mostest this January, reaching her first tour SF in Auckland by knocking off a defending champion (Zheng Jie) and holding a set point against A-Rad in a two tie-break loss. In Melbourne, she outplayed eventual champ Azarenka, going up a break in the 3rd before a chronic back injury spelled her eventual doom.
10. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
...set aside the Slovak's double-melon loss to A-Rad and 2nd Round AO loss. Cibulkova's run to the Sydney final, which included three Top 10 wins (including Kvitova & Kerber), will surely go down as one of the best non-title winning weeks of the season.
HM- Ana Konjuh, CRO
...after ending the '12 season by sweeping the Girls titles at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl events, the 15-year old Croat became the third straight Australian Open junior to sweep both the singles and doubles titles in Melbourne. Konjuh is the first Girls slam winner from Croatia in fifteen years, and she's the new #1 junior in the world.
1. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2. Elena Vesnina, RUS
3. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
4. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
5. Angelique Kerber, GER
6. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
7. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
8. Monica Niculescu, ROU
9. Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
10. Heather Watson, GBR
HM- Ayumi Morita, JPN
1. Sloane Stephens, USA
2. Jamie Hampton, USA
3. Laura Robson, GBR
4. Madison Keys, USA
5. Mona Barthel, GER
6. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
7. Ksenia Pervak, KAZ
8. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
9. Donna Vekic, CRO
10. Annika Beck, GER
11. Daria Gavrilova, RUS
12. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
13. Garbine Muguruza & Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP/ESP
14. Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
15. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
1. Ana Konjuh, CRO
2. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
3. Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
4. Anett Kontaveit, EST
5. Antonia Lottner, GER
6. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
7. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
8. Christina Makarova, USA
9. Ana Konjuh & Carol Zhao, CRO/CAN
10. Elise Mertens, BEL
1. Maria Joao Koehler, POR
2. Luksika Kumkhum, THA
3. Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS
4. Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
5. Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
HM- Valeria Savinykh, RUS
1. Li Na, CHN
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Klara Zakopalova, CZE
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
5. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
6. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
7. Nadia Petrova & Katarina Srebotnik, RUS/SLO
8. Sania Mirza & Bethanie Mattek-Sands, IND/USA
9. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
10. Cara Black, ZIM
HM- Greta Arn, HUN
1. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
3. Cara Black, ZIM
4. Alize Cornet, FRA
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Andrea Petkovic, GER
3. Samantha Stosur, AUS
4. Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
5. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
6. Sabine Lisicki, GER
7. Nadia Petrova, RUS (singles)
8. Sara Errani, ITA (singles)
9. Maria Kirilenko & Lisa Raymond, RUS/USA
10. Lucie Safarova, CZE
1. Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
2. Tadeja Majeric, SLO
3. Julia Kimmelman, GER
4. Sharon Fichman, CAN
5. Tara Moore, GBR
#1 - Errani & Vinci defeat Williams Sisters, then win third Doubles slam in less than seven months
#2 - Victoria Azarenka defends AO title amid swirl of needless controversy
#3 - Agnieszka Radwanska opens season with two-title, 13-match and 26-set winning streaks
#4 - Maria Sharapova drops a record-low nine games from the 1st Rd. through QF at AO
#5 - Ana Konjuh sweeps Girls singles & doubles titles at AO
"I guess I’m pretty tough." - Victoria Azarenka
ITF PLAYER: Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
...continuing her comeback from surgeries on both knees, the 23-year old Swarmette won her first title since her return, preventing Reka-Luca Jani from winning her third straight '13 ITF crown in the final of this past week's $10K in Antalya, Turkey. Dulgheru was a season-ending Top 30 player as recently as 2010.
1. Paris Q1 - Garcia d. Schiavone
...7-6/6-2. Francesca has had SUCH better results in Paris in the past.
2. $25K Andrezieux-Boutheon Final - Alison van Uytvanck/BEL d. Ana Vrljic/CRO
...6-1/6-4. I sure hope they didn't engrave "BLR" on Alison's trophy/plaque for winning this title. Oh, but what a great story it'd give her to tell Vika!
3. $10K Sharm El Sheikh Final - Mayar Sherif/EGY d. Aleksandrina Naydenova/BUL
...6-2/2-6/6-1. Hey, it's not often I get to single out a 16-year old Egyptian who just won her first career title. So here I am doing it now.
HM- $10K Eilat Final - Alla Kudryavtseva/RUS d. Raluca Olaru/ROU
...6-7/6-3/6-2. Not that long ago, these two were players to watch on the WTA tour. Now they're playing in a $10K challenger in Israel during the second week of the Australian Open.
Paris Q1 - Arruabarrena-Vecino d. Kr.Pliskova 3-6/6-3/6-3
Paris Q2 - Bertens d. Ka.Pliskova 7-4/7-6
...100% of Pliskova sisters agree -- forget Paris
*2013 ITF TITLES*
2...Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
2...Julia Kimmelman, GER
2...Tara Moore, GBR
PARIS, FRANCE (Premier $681K/indoor)
12 Final: Kerber d. Bartoli
12 Doubles Champions: Huber/Raymond
13 Top Seeds: Errani/Kvitova
#4 Cibulkova d. #1 Errani
#7 Goerges d. #3 Bartoli
#4 Cibulkova d. #7 Goerges
...a risk, what with Kvitova's past indoor record (even with Petra's recent record on any surface).
PATTAYA, THAILAND (Int'l $235K/hard outdoor)
12 Final: Hantuchova d. Kirilenko (Hantuchova 2011-12 champion)
12 Doubles Champions: Mirza/An.Rodionova
13 Top Seeds: Ivanovic/Kirilenko
#1 Ivanovic d. #3 Hsieh
#7 Vesnina d. #8 Watson
#7 Vesnina d. #1 Ivanovic
...I'll take a flier on the "surging" Russian and probably regret it afterward.
All for now.