Monday, March 11, 2013

Wk.10- At Indian Wells, Maria Puts the Sugar in Pova (so far)

Hmmm, what's happened through three and a half rounds of action at Indian Wells? Well, Maria Sharapova seems to be back (and with samples of Sugarpova, too), but Serena Williams wasn't, as her boycott of the event continued. "Future Sloane" is still M.I.A., while Fraulein Petkovic is no longer a distant memory (or at least she wasn't for a few days).

Oh, yeah. And Vika STILL hasn't lost in 2013.

RISER: Urszula Radwanska/POL
...while Aga got a bit of a scare on Sunday, having to come back from a set down to take out Sorana Cirstea, Ula hasn't had as much trouble. Wins over Arantxa Rus and Sloane Stephens have her in the 3rd Round, where she'll face off with Jamie Hampton for a potential shot at Victoria Azarenka in the 4th.
SURPRISES: Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino/ESP & Garbine Muguruza/ESP
...the overall improvement of the WTA's Spanish contingent has been apparent on the hard court -- not red clay -- of Indian Wells. Leading the way have been these two. Arruabarrena-Vecino is in the 4th Round (she'll face Sharapova) after wins over Sesil Karatantcheva and Varvara Lepchenko, while qualifier Muguruza is in the 3rd (vs. Rybarikova) after impressively upsetting the likes of Bojana Jovanovski, Ekaterina Makarova and Roberta Vinci.
VETERAN: Maria Sharapova/RUS

...if there'd been an award this week, I suppose Sharapova would be the "Half-Way Player of the Tournament," what with Vika struggling a bit with her serve the other day against Daniela Hantuchova and having to come back from being a break down in the 1st on multiple occasions before opening up her I.W. title defense with a deceptively "easy-looking" 6-4/6-1 win over the Slovak. Sharapova took down Francesca Schiavone 2 & 1 in her first match, then Carla Suarez-Navarro 5 & 3 in the 3rd Round. There's still a long way to go for Maria, though, as she may well have to face Petra Kvitova AND Azarenka, who she lost to in the final a year ago.
COMEBACK: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS Marion Bartoli/FRA Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS Marion Bartoli/FRA
...early-rounds wins over Andrea Hlavackova and Jelena Jankovic, the latter after dropping the opening set at love, seemed to set up Kuznetsova well for this award. Her quick 4-0 lead over Bartoli in their 3rd Round match did, as well. But, remember, this IS Sveta we're talking about... and Bartoli. With her 6-4/6-4 win in Doha over Bartoli fresh in her mind, Kuznetsova went on to lose the next eight games to La Trufflette as the French woman charged back to take a 6-4/2-0 lead. Then, of course, Kuznetsova woke up and got a break of serve to win a third straight game to lead 3-2. Naturally, Bartoli then broke the Russian's serve one game later and never lost another, closing out the match with her own four-game winning streak. Sheesh.
FRESH FACES: Taylor Townsend/USA & Allie Kiick/USA
...Townsend, 16, only lasted two rounds in Indian Wells, ultimately losing to Ana Ivanovic. But the Bannerette's 1st Round victory over Lucie Hradecka was the first WTA main draw victory of her career. On the ITF circuit, 17-year old Allie Kiick won the $10K tournament in Gainesville, Florida, defeating Czech Katerina Kramprova in the final to get her first circuit crown since winning at Amelia Island in 2011.
DOWN: Sloane Stephens/USA & the top doubles teams
...Future Sloane appears to be trapped somewhere in space and/or time. After blowing leads in recent losses, Stephens didn't even have anything to regret after her 1st Round loss to Urszula Radwanska in Indian Wells. She lost in straight sets. Since her upset win over Serena Williams in Melbourne, Stephens has gone 1-4. Meanwhile, the world's top doubles teams have really taken it on the chin in California. Five of the eight seeds have failed to escape the 2nd Round, including #1 Errani/Vinci (lost 2nd Round to Hsieh/Peng, ending the three-title, four-final streaks of the Italians), #2 Hlavackova/Hradecka (2nd), #5 Huber/Martinez-Sanchez (1st, after Huber won I.W. last year w/ Lisa Raymond), #7 Kops-Jones/Spears (1st) and #8 Mattek-Sands/Mirza (1st, to Raymond/Stosur, who then promptly lost THEIR next match).
ITF PLAYER: Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
...all hail, the Serbian Wonder Girl/Good Luck Charm. 19-year old Krunic (the big 2-oh comes up on March 15th, by the way) grabbed her seventh career ITF singles crown in a $25K challenger in Irapuato, Mexico. After getting past '13 circuit force (w/ an ITF-leading three titles) Tara Moore in the quarterfinals when the Brit retired after dropping the first five games of the match, Krunic went on to defeat Olga Savchuk in the final. Savchuk & Alla Kudryavtseva defeated Krunic & Amra Sadikovic in the doubles final.
JUNIOR STAR: Katerina Siniakova/CZE
...the 16-year old Czech, the #2-ranked junior in the world, claimed her first career ITF singles title in a $10K in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. Siniakova, the AO Girls runner-up defeated Kathinka von Deichmann (LIE) in this weekend's final.

[I.W. Week 1]
1. IW 2nd Rd - U.Radwanska d. Stephens
At least Sloane showed a bit of something near the end, saving two match points and breaking U-Rad when the Pole served for the win at 5-2 in the 2nd. While Stephens has now lost four of her last five, Ula, after a four-match losing streak in January, has put together a nice 7-2 record since.
2. NYC Exhibition - S.Williams d. Azarenka
Yes, there was an on-court Serena sighting early last week in New York. Not that a match like this really means anything. But, still... it's worth a mention.
3. IW Q1 - Petkovic d. Putintseva 6-0/6-2
IW Q2 - Puig d. Petkovic 7-6/6-3
well, Andrea. At least it was good while it lasted.
4. IW Q1 - Svitolina d. Bouchard
Svitolina gets a measure of "revenge" for the 2012 Wimbledon Girls final.
5. IW 1st Rd - Schiavone d. Pennetta
"Well this could be the last time? This could be the last time? Maybe the last time? I don't know.
6. IW 1st Rd - Peer d. Erakovic
Answering two lingering questions. One, "Is Shahar still around?" And, two, "How does a Kiwi react to winning her first tour singles title?"
7. IW 1st Rd - Keys d. Oudin
American hope, circa 2009, meet American hope, circa 2013. NewGirl wins.
8. IW 1st Rd - Begu d. Watson 6-2/6-4
IW 1st Rd - Arvidsson d. Robson 2-6/7-6/6-1
and during the same afternoon, too. Needless to say, not a good day for the Brits.

1. IW Q1 - Puchkova d. Ka.Pliskova
Courtesy of the Florianopolis runner-up, the Kuala Lumpur champion didn't extend her celebration into a second week. Well, at least not ON-court.
2. IW Q1 - Min d. Kr.Pliskova
Karolina's first career title a few days earlier didn't propel Kristyna to a singles win her next time out, as the '10 junior Wimbledon winner squandered match points and lost to the '11 junior U.S. Open champ.

1...Madison Brengle, USA
1...Lauren Davis, USA
1...Sharon Fichman, CAN
1...Noelle Hickey, USA
1...Sonja Molnar, CAN

Week 1 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS & Cara Black, ZIM
Week 2 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
Week 3/4 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (AO)
Week 5 - Sabine Lisicki, GER
Week 6 - Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ (FC)
Week 7 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN & Paula Ormaechea, ARG
Week 8 - Jelena Jankovic, SRB & Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
Week 9 - Olga Puchkova, RUS
Week 10 - Marion Bartoli, FRA

2006 Maria Sharapova d. Elena Dementieva
2007 Daniela Hantuchova d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2008 Ana Ivanovic d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2009 Vera Zvonareva d. Ana Ivanovic
2010 Jelena Jankovic d. Caroline Wozniacki
2011 Caroline Wozniacki d. Marion Bartoli
2012 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova

All for now.


Blogger jo shum said...

I can't stop smiling to see players following vika's fashion sense to wear leggings on court. Even Maria followed. ;)

Tennis wise, rusty first Match. And the strapping was a bit strange.

Mon Mar 11, 10:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, another slow start from Vika that slowly becomes a 3-6/6-3/6-0 win (over Flipkens). It might be enough to raise an eyebrow about... had she not already sort of "perfected" such an early-tournament rough road that eventually smooths itself out, then ends on a good note, on multiple occasions this season.

Tue Mar 12, 12:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

yep, i saw partly only and she seemed not excited throughout the tournament. wondering if there is any injury or just that she is not happy with her performance. definitely something. she is lucky to not have to play hampton, will be a nightmare matchup with her current form. U-Rad, quite impressive,took out 2 american rising stars. actually never thought she would have passed stephens and thought hampton would have too much power for her. oh well, maybe she is turning into a little aga. just imagine, how fun would it be if the sisters play doubles.... super cute and creative ball striking.

Tue Mar 12, 12:44:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Vika did have quite a few of those muscle-warming tape things on her body, so it could be any number of physical things, seen or unseen. On TC, Davenport noted that she didn't seem especially excited, as well. It was true, though I wonder sometimes now whether or not she's also just trying to keep her emotions in check since she's had trouble containing them -- in good or bad moments -- at times in the past. Especially in the early rounds of an event, it might be a good practice for her to get into the habit of employing (it's very Serena-like, actually).

Tue Mar 12, 02:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Speaking professionally: When you're under stress, you tend to regress to "old" behavior. Perhaps there's some stressful factor we don't know about. Or maybe just being defending champion is enough to do it.

Tue Mar 12, 03:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Congrats to Masha for her win - but 8 df and 48 ue - hrm - she's beatable if she continues to play like a mountain landscape. OK match by the way and Errani did her best - I specially liked her dropshots - quite effective when used. Well one thing we know for sure is that there will be a Maria in the final ;-) Coming up today is the battle of champions between Vika and Caro - I'm really looking forward to that.

Thu Mar 14, 03:28:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, it's a big moment for Wozniacki. Vika seems at least slightly vulnerable w/ her foot injury, and service issues (though she cleaned up the latter a bit last match). Caro HAS won this title before, after all.

Thu Mar 14, 12:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

No need to any speculations both Vika and Stosur have withdrawn. Todd when did we have that situation where both semifinalist in one semifinal got there by a walk over?

Thu Mar 14, 05:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, I don't recall it happening anytime recently under the circumstances of both coming in QF on the same side on the draw. Hopefully the WTA will crunch those results and say something about when such a rarity might have happened before. If it has.

It's good for Wozniacki, though.

And now, with TWO major asterisks attached, Vika is STILL undefeated in 2013. ;)

Thu Mar 14, 06:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

well saw that coming when vika winced and pushed back tears when playing U-rad at one point chasing down the ball. she had no joy playing all week as she is usually very expressive both angry or excited when healthy. miami...mmm...if this injury she picked up back in doha and still not fully recovered. might not see her play next week too. too bad, i thought it would be so cool to have her defend her title the 3rd time this year.

so, maria will rise to no. 2 soon passing vika. this is so weird now with the ranking, serena became no.1 with 2 losses vs vika none, maria will be become no. 2 without winning any tournament yet vs vika having won 2. loving this debate.

Thu Mar 14, 10:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I just hope Sam is okay for Charleston. She loves playing there, which is why she was the first player to enter this year. I also think she has a good chance repeat as the champion.

Thu Mar 14, 11:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

One thing w/ both Vika and Sam, since both will be seeded in Miami and (I believe) with 1st Round byes in a two-week event, they might have almost a week a recover before they'd be scheduled to play again.

Fri Mar 15, 12:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Funny you say that a loss through a walkover is not a loss - heh if you win a match which give you the right to play next round you loose that match if you can't play - quite simple. Else you have to say that a win through a wo is not a win - come on ridiculous.

Fri Mar 15, 01:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, the WTA doesn't count a walkover advancement as a "win" in the official records, and it's the same with a walkover "loss." I agree there should be some acknowledgement of both, though, in the totals. Say, as a record of 14-0 (1/0) with a walkover win, or 14-0 (0/1)with a loss.

I know that I don't count walkover wins/losses as numbers included in a winning streak, but situations usually doesn't come up where a player has long streaks around them. It's happened with Serena a couple of times, and now this season w/ Vika.

It's too bad, as well. Since it would have been interesting to see what Wozniacki might have done against Azarenka while she was hampered by a foot injury, and how Azarenka would have tried to counter it.

Fri Mar 15, 10:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

The comeback queen is back after being behind 26 02 Caroline turned the match around. Both playing terriffic tennis with one special descipline coming back moonballiin - have a look here:

Great I think. And welcome back as #9 to Sunshine. Looking forward to the final against Maria Sharapova.

Sat Mar 16, 02:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

wow, MaSha's first non-clay title in forever.

Sun Mar 17, 06:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Since Cincinnati '11, after going 0-6 in her last six HC finals (1-8 in last nine from 2010-12). Interesting note from the next regular post: prior to shoulder surgery, Sharapova had a 13-6 record in HC finals, while this win makes her just 3-9 on HC post-surgery.

Sun Mar 17, 08:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm proud of 'Pova. Following surgery, she had to go through rehab twice. Then she was a mess for a while, especially with her serve.

The one thing that hasn't returned is that outstanding second serve. But given Maria's determination, I'm thinking that may come back, too. If it does, watch out.

Today's final was just part of an old pattern. Maria's mission (should she choose to accept it), of course, is to beat Serena. That will require--among other things--the return of that second serve. Miami should be interesting (and especially with you-know-what hanging around to turn ankles and crack heads).

Sun Mar 17, 08:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I just think that MaSha's movement has improved so much and it's allowed her to construct points better. (That was primarily why she poached Hogstedt away from Li...Hogstedt has excellent movement drills.) But her movement is still not as good as Vika and Serena, which is why she struggles against them on hard.

Wait, Diane, who/what is "you-know-what"...??

And RAFA!!!!!!

Mon Mar 18, 12:02:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hint: THE "you-know-what"

(Sleep with a light on tonight, Eric.) :)

Mon Mar 18, 01:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

oh. dear. (got it.)

Mon Mar 18, 01:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Maria winning is expected. The WTA top 3 is holding up well

Mon Mar 18, 11:30:00 AM EDT  

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