Monday, April 29, 2013

Wk.17- April's No Place for Fools

April is almost over. Do you know where your WTA leading ladies are?

1. Roberta Vinci, ITA
...dominated Petra Kvitova in the Katowice final, then did it again (and even better) in Fed Cup
2. Serena Williams, USA
...a title in Charleston began her clay court season. Can she end it with an even bigger, eleven-years-in-the-making second crown in Paris?
3. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
...2013's Russian Fed Cup star. Of course, this doesn't mean she'll be honored with anything other than a possible doubles role in the final when the "bigger name" Hordettes are more likely to show up.
4. Italian Fed Cup Team
...five finals in eight years
5. Russian Fed Cup Team
...back from a 0-2 hole against the Slovaks in the FC semis to reach their eighth final since 1999
6. Maria Sharapova, RUS Stuttgart just the start of another Sharapova Spring?
7. Makarova/Vesnina, RUS
...two deciding doubles FC matches down, one more to go?
8. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
...proving her worth once again on clay, one good week in Marrakech just put her 2013 record over .500
9. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
...Monterrey makes you wonder, "Why doesn't she do this more often?"
10. Angelique Kerber, GER
...a runner-up in Monterrey, and a semifinalist in Stuttgart

COMEBACK: Jelena Jankovic, SRB
SURPRISE: Stefanie Voegele, SUI
FRESH FACE: Annika Beck, GER
JUNIOR STAR: Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
DOWN: Slovakian Fed Cup Team
ITF PLAYER: Mariana Duque-Marino, COL

S: Maria Sharapova/RUS def. Li Na/CHN 6-4/6-3
D: Barthel/Lisicki (GER/GER) d. Mattek-Sands/Mirza (USA/IND)

S: Francesca Schiavone/ITA def. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP 6-1/6-3
D: Babos/Minella (HUN/LUX) d. Martic/Mladenovic (CRO/FRA)


...once more, the clay season is bringing out the best in Sharapova. Oh, it wasn't easy to defend her Stuttgart title. She had to go three sets against Lucie Safarova, Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber before taking out Li Na in straights in the final, but career title #29 -- with four coming on red clay the last two seasons -- surely puts her in the driver's seat once more for Roland Garros. This was Sharapova's third straight final this season (w/ Indian Wells and Miami), and the 49th of her career. Her twenty-nine wins tie Arantxa Sanchez Vicario for 17th on the all-time WTA list, one behind Tracy Austin. On Monday, Sharapova heads to Moscow to promote the introduction of Sugarpova to the Russian market. I hope she brings some packages with her to Paris next month... they might be nice thank-you gifts for all the ball girls and boys after the women's final.
RISER: Angelique Kerber/GER
...Kerber's title drought is now nearly thirteen months, but her results continue to be consistent enough to keep her ranking comfortably nestled within the Top 10. Her week in Stuttgart was another example of a very good week -- singles wins over Anastasia Palvyuchenkova, who beat her in the Monterrey final earlier this season, and Yaroslava Shvedova, and a doubles SF run with Andrea Petkovic that featured wins over Makarova/Vesnina and Groenefeld/Peschke -- that nevertheless didn't actually produce any hardware for her trophy case.
SURPRISE: Mandy Minella/LUX
...the 27-year old from Luxembourg, after carving out a nice career on the ITF circuit, is turning out to be another of the tour's many late bloomers. Minella had her best year-end ranking (#75) last year, setting a career-high (#66) in September. Last week, she got wins over Estrella Cabeza-Candela, Kaia Kanepi and Silvia Soler-Espinosa to reach her second career semifinal (Bad Gastein '12). In doubles, where she'll soon be Top 50, Minella teamed with Timea Babos to win her second career tour doubles crown (both with Babos in '13, along with another runner-up result as a duo).
VETERANS: Li Na/CHN & Lourdes Dominguez-Lino/ESP Stuttgart, just her second event back since her injury-marred Australian Open final, Li is already showing the sort of form that got her a slam title in Paris two years ago. Wins over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Petra Kvitova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands put Li in her third final of the season, where she lost to Maria Sharapova. Remember, though, back in '11 Li opened her campaign with a runner-up in Melbourne that morphed into a title at Roland Garros five months later. I'm just sayin'. In Marrakech, LDL advanced to her fifth career tour singles final (she's won twice) with victories over Misaki Doi, Tsvetana Pironkova, defending champ Kiki Bertens and Mandy Minella. All five of Dominguez-Lino's finals have come on red clay (three times in Bogota).
COMEBACKS: Francesca Schiavone/ITA & Bethanie Mattek-Sands/USA
...Schiavone, 32, might not have anything near the presence on the tour that she did a couple of seasons ago, but put her on the red clay and there's a shot she might weave a little magic once again. She did in Marrakech to claim her sixth career WTA singles crown (five on red clay) and become the oldest tour singles champ this season. Schiavone hadn't reached anything as good as a semifinal since she won in Strasbourg right before last year's Roland Garros, and had put up a 14-20 record (5-9 in '13) since then, before her five-match winning streak in Morocco over the likes of Petra Martic, Simona Halep, Alize Cornet, Chanelle Scheepers and Lourdes Domingues-Lino. In Stuttgart, Mattek-Sands continued her dual-threat comeback in both singles and doubles. She and Sania Mirza reached their third final of the season, while BMS qualified in singles then upset Yanina Wickmayer, Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki to reach the semifinals.
FRESH FACES: Timea Babos/HUN & Ons Jabeur/TUN
...Babos, 19, made it through singles qualifying in Marrakech, then lost in the 1st Round. But she made up for that in doubles, teaming with Mandy Minella to reach and win her second straight tour final (she last won in Monterrey with Date-Krumm). Babos & Minella also won the title in Bogota this season, meaning the young Hungarian is tied with Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci (with 3) for the most doubles titles this season. Meanwhile, in a $25K challenger in Tunis, Tunisia's Jabeur, 18, claimed her first ITF title since 2010 -- and her biggest yet -- with wins over Renata Voracova, Yana Buchina and Sara Sorribes Torro in the final. Combined with her Fed Cup action last week, Jabeur has put together a nine-match winning streak.
DOWN: Petra Kvitova/CZE
...just when you think it might be safe to "go back into the water" -- i.e. the coast being clear enough to wonder whether Kvitova's strike-a-match comeback against Sara Errani in Fed Cup play last weekend might serve to wake up her potential for a few weeks -- Kvitova heads off to Stuttgart and barely escapes her 1st Round match against teenager Annika Beck, winning in a 3rd set after dropping a 2nd set tie-break at love to the German. Next up was another three-setter versus Julia Goerges, then a straight sets QF loss to Li Na. Clay, even indoor clay, isn't really Kvitova's best surface, but as the Czech's career continues to only occasionally resemble the one many thought she'd have by now when she won Wimbledon in '11 and earned Player of the Year honors, it's also time to wonder if Petra's career might ultimately less resemble that of a Serena (who took more than two years to win slam #2 after her surprise first major in '99) and instead look more like that of an AnaIvo (who showed great slam championship promise, until she actually won one).
ITF PLAYER: Shelby Rogers/USA
...the 20-year old Bannerette matched her biggest career title by picking up the $50K challenger in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rogers notched wins over Alison Riske, Allie Will, Patricia Mayr-Achleitner and, in the final, fellow American Allie Kiick, 17, who was looking to get by far her biggest title yet. Rogers won the match 6-3/7-5.
JUNIOR STAR: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT
...the Latvian Express that is 15-year old Ostapenko continues on without a stop for rest and refueling. One week after starring in Fed Cup zone play, she was back in junior action last week, winning the Grade 1 Beaulieu-sur-Mer event in France as the #1 seed. Never dropping a set throughout the week, Ostapenko defeated Serbian Nina Stojanovic 6-0/6-3 in the final.

1. Stutt Final - Sharapova d. Li

As Sharapova improves 2013 defending champs' combined record in finals to 5-1, she displays the open-arms victory stance that is starting to become a signature move.
2. Marr Final - Schiavone d. Dominguez-Lino
"Luck" of the draw, these two have been drawn to meet again in the 1st Round in Oeiras this week.
3. Stutt 1st Rd - Kvitova d. Beck 7-5/6-7(0)/6-3
Oeiras Q1 - King d. Beck 6-1/7-5
one could say that maybe Beck, with some nice recent results, is ready to make a move. But then came this weekend's qualifying in Portugal. Oh, Petra.
4. Stutt Doubles Final - Barthel/Lisicki d. Mattek-Sands/Mirza
This is Barthel's first career tour doubles title, and Lisicki's second (the last came in this same event in '11, partnering with Sam Stosur).
5. Stutt 1st Rd - Suarez-Navarro d. Wozniacki

Maybe Rory was still on Caro's mind? CSN held her to a "driver" and a "tee" on the scoreline.
6. Stutt 1st Rd - Pavlyuchenkova d. Makarova 6-7/7-5/6-4
Stutt 2nd Rd - Mattek-Sands d. Errani 6-0/4-6/6-1
Stutt Doubles 1st Rd - Kerber/Petkovic d. Makarova/Vesnina 6-1/7-6
so much for -- and likely proof of? -- a "Fed Cup hangover."
7. Marr Doubles 1st Rd - Kania/Olaru d. Pennetta/Schiavone
Hmmm, can you have a Fed Cup hangover if you didn't actually play in FC, and only watched? After what Francesca did after this, I guess that one's already been answered.
8. Stutt 2nd Rd - Lisicki d. Jankovic
Ricardo's revenge? JJ saved six set points in the 1st, and two match points in the 2nd... but she still lost in straight sets.
HM- $25K Tunis Doubles Final - Krunic/Piter d. Jani/Pashkova
A week after Fed Cup disappointment, Aleksandra gets right back on the horse in a big doubles match. Bravo! (Though, I am missing being able to chant the name of a certain Hungarian with the initials RLJ three times right now.)

1. Stutt Doubles 1st Rd. - Kops-Jones/Spears d. Black/An.Rodionova
Somehow, I doubt that Liezel -- who reached the QF with Janette Husarova -- has much sympathy. Arina may be another story, though.
2. $50K Istanbul Doubles Final - Bychkova/N.Kichenok d. Eraydin/Naydenova
Who says Nadiya needs Lyudmyla to pick up a doubles title?

2 - Sara Errani, ITA (hard,red clay)
2 - Jelena Jankovic, SRB (red clay,green clay)
2 - Petra Kvitova , CZE (hard,red clay)
2 - LI NA, CHN (hard,red clay)
2 - MARIA SHARAPOVA, RUS (hard,red clay) *
2 - Serena Williams, USA (hard,green clay) *
* - won titles on both surfaces

**MOST IN WTA IN 2013**
4...Serena Williams (3-1)
3...Sara Errani (1-2)
3...LI NA (1-2)
4...Serena Williams (3-0+W)
4...LI NA (3-1)
4...Agnieszka Radwanska (2-2)
[semifinals - North Americans]
4...Serena Williams (3-0+W)
2...Sloane Stephens (0-2)
2...Venus Williams (0-2)

[active streaks]
135...Victoria Azarenka
109...Maria Sharapova
103...Petra Kvitova
90...Samantha Stosur
82...Agnieszka Radwanska
56...Serena Williams
50...Angelique Kerber
47...Sara Errani
38...Li Na
12...Caroline Wozniacki

3...Sara Errani, ITA
3...Roberta Vinci, ITA
3...Errani/Vinci, ITA/ITA
2...Mattek-Sands/Mirza, USA/IND
2...Petrova/Srebotnik, RUS/SLO

32y10m1w - FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE, ITA (Marrakech)
31y6m1w - Serena Williams, USA (Charleston)
31y6m - Serena Williams, USA (Miami)
31y3m2w - Serena Williams, USA (Brisbane)
30y10m1w - Li Na, CHN (Shenzhen)
30y1m - Roberta Vinci, ITA (Katowice)

17...Hard Court
7...Red Clay
NOTE: 2012-13 - 4 red clay, 1 hard court

21-0 season indoor record
Extended official indoor streak to 27 con. wins (31 con. "unofficial" wins w/ Hopman Cup)
Sharapova ends indoor win streak in Stuttgart (red clay)
Loses Wimbledon match to S.Williams under roof
A.Radwanska hands first indoor hard court loss since 2010 (WTA Championships)
Goes 1-1 in Fed Cup final, indoors in Prague
7-3 indoor record for season (1-1 hard court w/ loss to Mladenovic, 6-2 on red clay)

167...Martina Navratilova
154...Chris Evert
107...Steffi Graf
92...Margaret Court
68...Evonne Goolagong
67...Billie Jean King
55...Lindsay Davenport
55...Virginia Wade
53...Monica Seles
49...Serena Williams
44...Venus Williams
43...Justine Henin
43...Martina Hingis
41...Kim Clijsters
33...Conchita Martinez
30...Tracy Austin
29...Arantxa Sanchez Vicario

Whoa! Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Maria.

OEIRAS, PORTUGAL (Int'l $235K/red clay outdoor)
12 Final (Estoril): Kanepi d. Suarez-Navarro
12 Doubles Champions (Estoril): Chuang/Zhang
13 Top Seeds: Bartoli/Cibulkova

#3 Pavlyuchenkova d. #1 Bartoli
Schiavone d. Kanepi
#3 Pavlyuchenkova d. Schiavone

...will it be either the Russian or Italian momentum that continues? Don't rule out Kuznetsova here, either, because, well, just because she's Sveta and you never know.

All for now.


Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hey -- Sara Errani is back into the doubles co-#1 ranking with Roberta Vinci starting today.

Mon Apr 29, 01:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oeiras 1st Rd. - U.Radwanska d. Cibulkova 2-6/6-4/6-4

So very Radwanskian, Ula breaking Dominika's heart like that. I guess Aga's double bagel of the Slovak earlier this year just wasn't enough. Shocking, I know... yeah, not really.

Tue Apr 30, 03:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ayumi to the rescue!

Wed May 01, 04:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

She knows not what she does!

Wed May 01, 08:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Her consequences came pretty fast, didn't they?

Thu May 02, 03:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm... now The Kanepi?!?!?!

Thu May 02, 10:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Houston we have a problem - well could be Apollo 13 all over again but this time I just signal HELP is needed for good ol Woz. No sparkle in the eyes, no commitment, no consistancy - she's a mental problem. It looks to me if she's fed up with tennis in way. I can be wrong but this match today was a sad thing to see as Woz fan. So next stop is Rome and I hope she'll appear as Phoenix and show as the beautiful swan she used to be. We can as fans suggest many things but she's got to deal with what she wants and I just hope she'll find a way to get up from that spiritual hole she's dumped into.

Sun May 05, 11:05:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

whoa...sloane on serena. i knew that the media was playing up their relationship but...just wow.

it strikes me as a tad unprofessional to air dirty laundry as a peer...especially someone who is so accomplished...which is why I'm kind of shocked that Sloane, who is very media-savvy, would take the bait. these types of statements don't just make serena look bad...

maybe Sloane is just feeling the pressure?

Serena really is the girl in the reality house with all the drama.

This situation really spoke to me since as a young professional myself, I encounter mentors and "mentors" all the time. And I think it's probably failure on both a mentee's lack of recognition on what a mentor is supposed to do; and a mentor's lack of understanding of their duties.

I remember when i first started working, my mentor talked with me a few times and put it on their annual review that they were an active mentor...and that didn't sit well with me since I didn't feel like they had actually done anything. now that I've worked for a few years...I understand that even putting aside a small amount of time for yourself, much less someone else, is quite difficult. Mentors can't do your job for you and can't anticipate all the challenges that you will face in your individual career...

But there *are* definitely people who say hi in the hallway and think they're mentors...

And mentors really don't like it when you disagree with them in meetings or get high-profile assignements...or in Sloane's case, beat them.

However, it really isn't good to talk smack. Especially when you're not performing well. It doesn't show maturity.

And i think trying to have distance from a fellow competitor isn't the same as not being a mentor...

Like Sloane should take it as a compliment that Serena regards her this highly. And that would be another "lesson"...

I feel like it would be newsworthy if Serena was doing something to derail Sloane. It's just drama and attention-seeking when all you're saying is that you don't have a relationship outside of being fellow competitors...which is how most girls are on the tour. Adding the touch of catty doesn't reflect well on the tour either.

I wonder how Sloane and Serena were during Fed Cup... Since the article was already finished by then, but hadn't been published. Wonder if both sides will retract statements. The fallout/repercussions will be interesting to see.

But mostly, I hope this will be a non-issue.

Sun May 05, 04:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Well, I'm sure Serena never got the memo that she was Sloane's mentor.

Sloane sounds like she's in the 7th grade. And really, I miss the old Serena--the one who really didn't give a damn about saying nice things about other women on the tour.

Sun May 05, 08:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

"Hang on, you aren't Tamara Paszek!" say Na Li and Kerrilyn Cramer as Madison Keys comes to the net

the last time Li Na smiled during that

Sun May 05, 08:57:00 PM EDT  

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