Wk.2- Backspin on the Edge of Tomorrow (pre-Melbourne Edition)
Carl and Carla have gone off to parts unknown for their honeymoon, so I'm stepping in to assume the duties for this de-Boned, but still brief Backspin on the eve of the start of the Australian Open.
It's a good thing, too. Since The Radwanska was here, there and everywhere once again last week, and Carl might have been a little uncontrollable -- even more so than usual -- if he'd been around to do his normal job.
Well, we're half a month into the 2013 season and Aga Radwanska has STILL yet to lose. Come on, Citizen Anna... things are starting to look a little scary around here already! One would think that blowing through eight opponents without allowing one a single set would be enough for our "favorite" evil menace. But, nooooooooo. Apparently, The Rad whispered something grand into Aga's ear before she took the court against Dominika Cibulkova in the Sydney final, because she then proceeded to go out and double-bagel the poor Slovak, who'd built up so much confidence earlier in the week. Such a shame.
When it was all over, It had left Cibulkova sobbing under a towel. It was probably smiling as It watched. Well, if The Radwanska CAN smile, that is.
Now, Aga heads off to Melbourne and, wouldn't you know it, she's NOT on the side of the draw with either Serena OR Vika. Imagine that. The Rad is becoming adept at greasing the palms of tournament organizers now, too.
This is REALLY getting serious. I sure hope that time machine works.
*WEEK 2 CHAMPIONS*
SYDNEY, AUS (Premier $681K/HCO)
S: Agnieszka Radwanska/POL def. Dominika Cibulkova/SVK 6-0/6-0
D: Petrova/Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) d. Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA)
HOBART, AUS (Int'l $235K/HCO)
S: Elena Vesnina/RUS def. Mona Barthel/GER 6-3/6-4
D: Muguruza/Torro-Flor (ESP/ESP) d. Babos/Minella (HUN/LUX)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Agnieszka Radwanska/POL
...hmmm, if Vika is the "Face of Backspin," what exactly are A-Rad and her scorched-earth-policy-loving alter ego? The crusty bottom of its dirty foot, which Backspin tries to ignore but just cannot avoid picking at incessantly until it starts to bleed? After wins over Kimiko Date-Krumm, Roberta Vinci, Li Na and poor Dominika Cibulkova, Radwanska is 9-0 in 2013, has already grabbed two titles and has yet to lose a set. Career title #12 ties her with Jelena Jankovic and Vera Zvonareva amongst active players, one title behind Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and just two behind Victoria Azarenka (and Hall of Famer Jennifer Capriati, it should be noted). Oh, Radwanska, Radwanska... what do you have in store for us all next?
RISERS: Elena Vesnina/RUS & Dominika Cibulkova/SVK
...seven turned out to be the charm for Vesnina, who finally picked up her maiden tour singles crown after having gone 0-6 in WTA finals in her career. Wins over Siliva Soler-Espinosa, Yaroslava Shvedova, Jarmila Gajdosova, Sloane Stephens and defending Hobart champ Mona Barthel paved the way for the Hordette. Take that, Liezel Huber. Meanwhile, in Sydney, Cibulkova lived it up all week, pulling off three Top 10 wins (over Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Angelique Kerber), and a not-too-shabby one over Ekaterina Makarova, as well. And then she got double-bageled in the final against Radwanska. It wasn't enough to dim the light of her great... but it ALMOST was. I guess we'll find out when she plays in Melbourne against teen-aged crowd fave Ashleigh Barty, though.
SURPRISE: Jarmila Gajdosova/AUS
...Gajdosova received a wild card to get into the main draw for next week's Australian Open, and she got some nice tune-up work in last week in Hobart, too. The winner of the tournament's title in 2011, the Aussie reached the quarterfinals with wins over Romina Oprandi and Olga Govortsova. It's her best result since QF at this same tournament last year.
VETERANS: Nadia Petrova/Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) & Roberta Vinci/ITA
...teaming together for a title for the first time since 2008 (Moscow), doubles #5 Petrova & #16 Srebotnik got wins over teams with players ranked #1, #2, #3, #4, #8 and #12, including the top two teams in the world -- Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci in the final. For Petrova, who picked up career title #22, it was a bit of sweet revenge, since Vinci had defeated her in singles in the 1st Round earlier in the week. This was Srebotnik's 31st career title. Speaking of Vinci, not only did she reach the doubles final and get a singles win over Petrova, she also took out Jelena Jankovic en route to a QF result.
COMEBACK: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
...after not taking a wild card into the main draw in Sydney, Kuznetsova made the most of some much-needed additional match play. First, she qualified, then strung together three-set wins over Julia Goerges and Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarterfinals. It's the two-time slam champ's best result since Week 1 of last season.
FRESH FACES: Sloane Stephens/USA & Madison Keys/USA
...while "Future Sloane" does battle with The Rad, Current Sloane is having a much better time of things. After holding her own in Brisbane against Serena in Week 1, she reached the semifinals this week in Hobart with victories over Laura Robson (a potential 3rd Round foe in Melbourne), Simona Halep and Lauren Davis. Keys, 17, qualified in Sydney, then got the first Top 20 win of her career when she upset Lucie Safarova. She followed up with another big win over Zheng Jie, and managed a three-set battle with Li Na in her first career tour quarterfinal.
DOWN: Samantha Stosur/AUS & Maria Kirilenko/RUS
...another match in Australia, another loss for Sammy. The Aussie was dropped in the 1st Round for a second straight week, this time to Zheng Jie in Sydney. She'll face off against Chang Kai-Chen in Melbourne, and if she somehow manages to notch her first win of 2013 there, she'll likely see Zheng once again in the 2nd Round. Kirilenko had it bad all around last week in Sydney. First, she lost in the singles 2nd Round to Sara Errani, then, playing without Petrova as a partner, she lost in doubles (w/ Lisa Raymond) to the team of Jurak/Marosi in the quarterfinals. Oh, and the NHL settled its labor dispute, too, so Maria won't be getting any surprise visits from hockey-playing fiance Alexander Ovechkin for a few months now, either. Of course, being a Washington Capitals fan myself, I can assure Maria that The Great Eight will likely have a lot of free time come spring, if the Caps' recent postseason longevity is any indication of what will happen at this end of this season.
1. Sydney Final - A.Radwanska d. Cibulkova
...6-0/6-0. Before this week, Dominika had been smart enough to avoid A-Rad. They hadn't met since 2008 at the U.S. Open. Well, now she's on The Rad's radar. Poor thing. Thirty-six unforced errors and a 0-for-4 record on break point attempts in a match that lasted just 1:02 might just be the beginning of the horrors she'll see in 2013 if you-know-What decides to make an example of Dominika this season just to tell everyone else that they can run, but they can't hide forever.
2. Hobart Final - Vesnina d. Barthel
...6-3/6-4. All right, Jelena Jankovic and Yanina Wickmayer -- both 0-4 in finals since 2011 -- you're up! Of note, Barthel joins only A-Rad and Li as players to reach at least two semifinals in the first two weeks of this season.
3. Sydney SF - A.Radwanska d. Li
...6-3/6-4. Li had been 3-0 against A-Rad before this. In the closing games, she made Aga wait through eight match point attempts before she could advance to the final. Oh, Na... what have you done? (Shaking head.)
4. Sydney 2nd Rd - Keys d. Zheng
...6-0/6-4. Coming after the Bannerette's first career Top 20 win over Safarova, might this one have been even more impressive?
5. Sydney QF - Li d. Keys
...4-6/7-6/6-2. Or maybe this three-set LOSS by the teenager against the world #6 was?
6. Sydney 2nd Rd - Kuznetsova d. Wozniacki
...7-6/1-6/6-2. They could play again in the AO Round of 16. But looking at Caro's draw, I'd say that's a long shot.
7. Hobart QF - Stephens d. Davis
...6-3/4-6/7-5. Between Stephens, Keys, Davis and Jamie Hampton, the first two weeks of the season have been very encouraging ones for the Bannerettes.
$50K Quanzhou Doubles Final - Varatchaya Wongteanchai d. Nadiya Kichenok
...6-2/6-7/7-6. While sister Lyudmyla was trying (but not succeeding) to qualify for the Australian Open, Nadiya reached the singles final in Quanzhou, and won the doubles title with fellow Ukrainian Irina Buryachok.
**MOST SINGLES TITLES, ACTIVE - 2011-13**
10...Serena Williams, USA (2/7/1)
9...Victoria Azarenka, BLR (3/6/0)
8...AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, POL (3/3/2)
8...Petra Kvitova, CZE (6/2/0)
8...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (6/2/0)
5...Maria Sharapova, RUS (2/3/0)
**MOST WTA FINALS, ACTIVE - 2011-13**
14...Victoria Azarenka (9-5)
13...Maria Sharapova (5-8)
12...Caroline Wozniacki (8-4)
11...Serena Williams (10-1)
10...AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (8-2)
9...Petra Kvitova (8-1)
8...Li Na (4-4)
All for now. The Australian Open preview is coming on Sunday.