Monday, March 25, 2013

Wk.12- A Kvitova Crash, a Serena Save & Caro Knowing How Rory Feels

Hmmm, what's been going on in Miami over the past week or so? I mean, other than Vika not playing, recent "big-name" players flaming out and Dominika Cibulkova, for the second straight year, having a huge win seemingly on her racket only to see it float away like the hint of spring on a March day that suddenly turns very "cold." But, then again, the Slovak has been there before. 364 days ago, in fact.

Of course, none of it is likely as interesting as the conversation that might soon take place between Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy now that the Dane is no longer the only "former #1-ranked player" in the relationship (courtesy of Tiger Woods' weather-delayed victory on Monday that pushed HIM past McIlroy and back atop the world golf rankings).

Hmm, maybe there was a reason #1-ranked Serena was "illegally" taking those photos of Woods the other week.

RISER: Sorana Cirstea/ROU
...a former slam quarterfinalist (RG '09), and one of the few of the Swarmette Romanians who have actually won a tour singles crown (even if it was back in '08, when she had her only year-end Top 40 ranking), Cirstea has been upping the consistency of her results over the past year. As a result, she came to Miami fresh off recent wins over Sloane Stephens and Anabel Medina-Garrigues and pushing Agniewszka Radwanska to three sets, ranked #27 in the world and within striking distance of soon rising above her career-high rank of #23. So far, so good in Florida, too. Wins over Siliva Soler-Espinosa and Angelique Kerber (in which she went had an un-goddessly streak of domination) put her into a 4th Round match with Jelena Jankovic, one of the players she's hot on the heels of in the current WTA singles rankings.
SURPRISE: Lauren Davis/USA
...the Bannerette failed in her attempt to get past Alize Cornet in the 3rd Round (a match which which left both players worse for wear), but she had quite a wild ride getting there. After losing in the final round of Miami qualifying to Mallory Burdette (who'd go on to lose her 1st Round match), Davis continued to travel to the tournament grounds every day with the hope that a seeded player would pull out and she'd get a late Lucky Loser pass into the main draw, skipping the 1st Round altogether. When, not unexpectedly, Victoria Azarenka pulled out late with her lingering ankle injury (which looks like it'll probably curtail her clay season participation, or at least delay it), Davis was shifted into the #2-seed slot in the draw against Madison Keys. In the match-up with her fellow American, Davis saved three match points and got the win. Not a conventional week of work for the teenager, but a good one in the end, even with the injury Davis picked up during the Cornet match.
VETERANS: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL & Li Na/CHN
...with Kim Clijsters gone and Yanina Wickmayer a you-never-know proposition, Flipkens (as long as she's not playing in Fed Cup) has become the best Belgian player on tour. Miami wins over Stefanie Voegele, Petra Kvitova and Ajla Tomljanovic has her into the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Li, finally recovered from her injuries in Melbourne, is there, too, after she followed up her wins from last week over Kiki Bertens and Varvara Lepchenko with a victory Monday over Garbine Muguruza.
COMEBACK: Andrea Petkovic/GER
...slowly, though while never what one could say is surely, Petkovic is making her way back from her latest battle with injury. Wins over Bojana Jovanovski and Marion Bartoli (who, ironically, retired to give Petko the WIN) put the German into the 3rd Round, where she lost to Ajla Tomljanovic.
FRESH FACES: Garbine Muguruza/ESP & Ajla Tomljanovic/CRO
...both 19-year old wild cards battled their way into the Miami 4th Round before losing on Monday. Muguruza, quickly becoming a player to watch in '13, as she also just qualified in Indian Wells and reached the Round of 16 there (she lost to Sharapova), got upset wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Caroline Wozniacki before being taken down in straights, 7-6/6-2, against Li Na. Tomljanovic, who trains at the Evert Academy in Florida, took out both Ksenia Pervak and Julia Goerges before her 4th Round loss to Kirsten Flipkens.
DOWN: Petra Kvitova/CZE & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
...back to what has often become "normal" for her over the last almost two years since she won Wimbledon, the asthmatic Kvitova wasn't prepared to take on the heat and humidity of Miami. After having to come back from a set down to win in three in her first match against Peng Shuai, the Czech was bounced out in three sets -- she won just one game in the 1st and 3rd sets combined -- by Flipkens in the 3rd Round. Remember how great the newly-fit Pavlyuchenkova looked at the start of the season when she coasted into the Brisbane final with two Top 10 wins, only to be shellacked by Serena once she got there? Well, she's lost her opening match in five of the six events she's played since (with a Kuala Lumpur SF thrown in), most recently being upset in the 2nd Round in Miami by Garbine Muguruza.
ITF PLAYER: Reka-Luca Jani/HUN
...the 21-year old Hungarian is, quite simply, cleaning up on the ITF circuit this season, This weekend, for the second straight week in Madrid, she put away a $10K challenger title, defeating American Bernarda Pera in the final, 2-6/6-4/6-4. Jani is leading the ITF tour in 2013 in finals (five, while no one else has more than three), as well as titles (four, one ahead of a few others). "Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani!"
JUNIOR STAR: Ipek Soylu/TUR Soylu, 16, won the G1 International Junior Championships in the Philippines, defeating Sara Tomic (yes, HIS sis) in the semis before defeating Brit Katie Boulter in three sets in the final.

[Miami Week 1]
1. Miami 2nd Rd - V.Williams d. Date-Krumm
Combining for neary 75 years of life experience, the meeting of the tour's two most accomplished and veteran players once again made for compelling tennis. Two years ago at Wimbledon, Venus survived an 8-6 3rd set against KDK, and this time she saw herself broken while serving at 3-1 and 5-3 in the final set. On her sixth match point, Venus prevailed, but then pulled out of her next match with a back injury. Date-Krumm, with Casey Dellacqua, had another hard luck loss in the doubles, as the pair fell to top-seeded Errani/Vinci in an 11-9 3rd set tie-break.
2. Miami 4th Rd. - S.Williams d. Cibulkova
It was just about this time last year in Miami that Cibulkova held a 6-1/5-2 lead on Victoria Azarenka, only to see it slip away and the Belarusian maintain her season-opening 26-match winning streak (though it'd end a round later). This time, the Slovak led 6-2/4-1 against the seemingly unmotivated Williams. Of course, we're talking about Serena, so we know what CAN happen in this sort of situation. And, well, it did. Serena got wind of her "dire" situation, shot an ace to hold for 4-2, broke back, held at love and wiped Cibulkova's advantage off the board by winning four straight games to knot the match. When Cibulkova double-faulted on break point to open the 3rd, you could see the ending to this story. So could Cibulkova, even if she did get the break back soon afterward, only to lose it again. Ultimately, after struggling with her second serve during the first set and half of action, Serena fired her 13th ace of the day on match point to send Cibulkova packing, 364 days after Vika did the same in this event last year.
3. Miami 3rd Rd - Flipkens d. Kvitova
The U.S. Open Series last summer is looking like a North American aberration for Kvitova. Hopefully, her recent nearly-back-to-form stretch in the Middle East won't turn out to be a career one.
4. Miami 3rd Rd - Cirstea d. Kerber
Kerber, still playing every week with her lingering back injury, lost twelve straight points to end the 1st set, then saw the slide carry over into the 2nd, too. In total, the German lost 28 of 31 points in one stretch en route to dropping the final eight games of the match.
5. Miami 2nd Rd - Petkovic d. Bartoli
...6-3/4-1 ret.
I guess we should forgive Petkovic if she asked the umpire is she was SURE she was actually going to WIN a match via retirement.
HM- Miami 4th Rd - A.Radwanska d. Stephens
The defending champ faces Sloane, minus any time machines. After an encouraging start for the American, it wasn't pretty. A-Rad double-faulted on SP for Stephens to drop the 1st set on the Grandstand court (why there, with last year's winner and the "next American star" in action?), but then pretty quickly strangled her opponent into submission with all her weird/clever shots, as well as getting an assist from Stephens, who's back to being unable to close out wins against top players. Radwanska went up 3-0 in the 2nd and never looked back, finishing Sloane off with an ugly bagel in the 3rd.

1. Miami Q2 - Ka.Pliskova d. Vandeweghe 6-2/6-3
Miami Q2: Cepelova d. Kr.Pliskova 1-6/6-2/7-5
one Pliskova qualifies. One does not.
2. $25K Ipswich AUS QF - Storm Sanders d. Y.Sema 6-1/6-4
$25K Ipswich AUS SF - Storm Sanders d. E.Sema 6-3/6-3
the Aussie took out both Japanese sisters, but failed to get past the single Croatian Pandzic (Jelena) in her way the final.

2005 Kim Clijsters d. Maria Sharapova
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Maria Sharapova
2007 Serena Williams d. Justine Henin
2008 Serena Williams d. Jelena Jankovic
2009 Victoria Azarenka d. Serena Williams
2010 Kim Clijsters d. Venus Williams
2011 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova
2012 Agnieszka Radwanska d. Maria Sharapova

1991 Monia Seles (L-W)
1994 Steffi Graf (W-W)
1996 Steffi Graf (W-W)
1999 Serena Williams (W-L)
2000 Lindsay Davenport (W-L)
2000 Martina Hingis (L-W)
2005 Kim Clijsters (W-W)
2006 Maria Sharapova (W-L)
2012 Maria Sharapova (L-L)
2013 Maria Sharapova???? (won '13 I.W. final)

All for now.


Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

An incident which is worth mentioning is the Cornet match where both players were leaving the court after 2h 30m in each a wheel-chair - never heard about that before. Seems A-Rad is grinding back a victory over Stephens - well you know what that means.

Mon Mar 25, 04:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

I think we've got two new types of shots in womens tennis the Aga limbo-shot and the Aga back-loop - were quite spectacular among many fascinating shots from Aga - well wonder where she get's that from.

Mon Mar 25, 05:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, missed that -- but I edited the Davis section to include a note/link.

Yeah, that wasn't exactly a ready-for-the-big-time-right-now performance from Stephens, was it?

Mon Mar 25, 05:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

when did wtatennis start airbrushing their front page photos...and it's so obvious and unnatural too

Tue Mar 26, 12:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

They're actually airbrushing them much less than they used to.

Tue Mar 26, 12:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Radwanska's oh-so-Aga 360-degree, backhand flip volley off a net cord shot vs. Flipkens. (Rolls eyes.) Geez.

You sort of knew she was going to win after this, so what if she was down 4-6/2-0 at the time. Of course, she did, 4-6/6-4/6-2.

Tue Mar 26, 11:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


I saw this on the wtatennis site. Is this true? Serena has only lost 15 3 set matches in her career?

I tried to see if this was for a set amount of time...but it doesn't look like it is...but we both know how "accurate" stats are..

And you wouldn't happen to have like the historical 3 set stats would you? With the other greats?

Don't spend too much time on this. :)

Wed Mar 27, 12:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Also, I thought it was interesting how Serena had such a slow start in 4th round...same thing happened last year with Woz. She didn't recover though.

It's interesting...she's got the passion for tennis...but sometimes her body doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

Wed Mar 27, 12:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

After a quick rundown of her stats:

1995 -
1997 2-1 (lost to Serna)
1998 9-5 (Hingis, Sanchez Vicario 2, Spirlea, Testud)
1999 8-5 (Graf, Testud-2, Venus, MJF)
2000 7-1 (Capriati) (2 3rd-set ret. vs. Hingis/Suarez)
2001 7-4 (Hingis, Capriati-2, Seles)
2002 9-3 (Schnyder, Henin, Rubin)
2003 6-2 (Mauresmo, Henin)
2004 9-4 (Capriati-2, Sharapova, Davenport)
2005 8-0
2006 2-1 (Mauresmo)
2007 6-4 (Bammer, Schnyder, Henin, Dementieva)
2008 9-4 (Safina, Dementieva, Li, Venus)
2009 11-6 (Venus, Zakopalova, Schnyder, Kuznetsova, Stosur, Petrova)
2010 6-2 (Jankovic, Stosur)
2011 5-1 (Zvonareva)
2012 7-1 (Razzano)
2013 3-1 (Azarenka)

That would make her 104-45 (w/ 2 3rd set retirements) in three-setters for her career. She HAS lost 15 since 2008, though, against 41 wins. Give or take a spare adding error, of course.

Wed Mar 27, 01:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Aga's trick shot. Really cool

Wed Mar 27, 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Might I say, very "Jedi-like?"

Wed Mar 27, 01:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Ugh. I need to learn to read.

The Wtatennis chart was: Top 10 Win Percentage After Losing First Set Among Active Players

That's a lot of qualifiers...
And then I didn't interpret the columns correctly either.

Thanks Todd.


But now I'm totally the wta site is saying she won 69 3-set matches after losing the first set; but lost 84 matches?

So going by your 104-45...69 wins is possible...but 84 losses is not.

Am I missing something? Or just the noggin ins't up-to-snuff...

And i can't keep watching the Aga shot. I would've thrown my racket to the ground too.

Wed Mar 27, 01:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

perhaps the losses column means total 3 set matches played when losing the first set...??

anywho...Aga's shot was number 1 on ESPN Sportscenter top plays!

I almost dropped my mug when I saw it in the breakroom

Wed Mar 27, 02:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

and by "can't keep watching," I mean I can't stop watching or I keep watching.

Needed to clarify lest someone/thing comes after me.

Wed Mar 27, 02:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Eric, I think what maybe you're not factoring in while thinking about that chart is that many of those 84 losses by Serena after losing the 1st set ended up being straight-sets losses that never went to three sets at all. That total would surely be possible under those circumstances. ;)

Either way, Serena, of course, is still never an "easy out," and more often than any other player finds a way to erase an early disadvantage. As Cibulkova found out the other day, and Li sort of did, too, in the 2nd set last night.

Wed Mar 27, 02:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

oh I finally got it. Losses after losing the first set can be 2 setters or 3 setters. But wins after the losing the first set can only be 3 setters.

my lord. that took entirely too long for me to synthesize.

I kept thinking...well if you're looking at 3 set matches, you can only compare 3 setters to 3 setters and it just wasn't clicking that they were simply asking "Top 10 Win Percentage After Losing First Set Among Active Players." And that can mean two set losses.

Twisted logic in my head.

Wed Mar 27, 05:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks for explaining that to me. :)

Wed Mar 27, 05:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

One of those not-seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees moments, I guess. :D

Wed Mar 27, 10:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

or the blind man and the elephant...or whatever that fable was

i was not able to change my line of thinking. i knew you were the right person to ask :)

Wed Mar 27, 11:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Funny how less-than-scary a certain you-know-what seems when Serena is around, huh?

Thu Mar 28, 11:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, Jo put her comment on the other post rather than this one. So, here it is (along with mine): ;)

Blogger jo shum said...

For one set and half Maria was posed and for the third set she completely went away. My conclusion is that WTA players should never have on court coaching. You don't want to let your opponent knows that you are in any bit of discomfort. In this respect I love the attitude of vika in this 2 years, she once said she knew exactly what needs to be done. It's only about execution. I actually was looking forward to Maria finally beating Serena in 10 years. But I also was looking forward to Serena turning the tide around. It was entertaining for first 2 sets.

Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Of note, Williams' comeback prevented what could have been a rather interesting post-match discussion, and a similar one to those that normally find Serena on the other side of the equation than she would have been this time around. Remember, a loss in the Miami final to Sharapova would have meant that Serena would have recently lost finals on the court this year to both the current #3/AO winner Azarenka and #2 Sharapova, while herself being ranked ahead of them at #1 in spite of those results. Usually, it's Serena with the on-court victories but ranking-deficits, rather than the other way around.

It might have been interesting to see how people would have attempted to spin that one.

Sun Mar 31, 12:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Karen said...

Probably Serena was thinking the same thing as well. I don't think she minds losing to Vika as much as she minds ever losing to Sharapova again. For whatever reason she has never put 2004 out of her mind and it is a constant reminder every time she sees Sharapova across the net. It does not help when Sharapova says in her press conference that she feels she can beat Serena and that the best place would be Wimbledon. I doubt that any of the reporters in her press conference were able to pick their jaws up off the floor after that one.

Sun Mar 31, 08:37:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha! Yeah, Paris would be a much better possibility for her.

Sun Mar 31, 12:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

You know...I agree that MaSha would have a better chance at Paris...but I think Maria is thinking that with one-two shot exchanges, she would eliminate Serena's athletic mobility advantages. During the final, I kept thinking that Sharapova kind of panicked as the rally got longer. I don't think all of her rally errors were forced errors. She could have made some of them...

Mon Apr 01, 03:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

From the transcripts from Miami:

reporter to Sharapova:
2006 you lost in the semis of Australia and you won at Indian Wells and then you lost in the finals here. Then you went on to win the US Open.

Mon Apr 01, 03:43:00 PM EDT  

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