Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wk.34- A Brief History of Time in New Haven... and Cave Picks

Since mid-June, no player has been hotter than Simona Halep. In New Haven, her summertime rise continued.

S: Simona Halep/ROU def. Petra Kvitova/CZE 6-2/6-2
D: Mirza/J.Zheng (IND/CHN) d. Medina-Garrigues/Srebotnik (ESP/SLO)

...the 21-year old Romanian is quite simply on fire. In New Haven, the flames went even higher than ever before. What began with a qualifier-to-semifinalist run in Rome, picked up steam before Wimbledon with back-to-back title runs on red clay and grass, then planted roots with another title in Budapest after leaving London, has added yet another color to its impressive pinwheel of success -- a hard court title. Halep's wins over Daniela Hantuchova, Carla Suarez-Navarro, Ekaterina Makarova and Caroline Wozniacki put her into her fourth final of '13, and after weathering an early storm in the championship match against Petra Kvitova she ran away with a 6-2/6-2 win to notch her fourth title of the season (behind only Serena Williams) on a third different surface (tying Serena for a tour-best). So, in a little over two months, Halep has gone from zero to tying for second place on the ALL-TIME Romanian WTA tour title list, behind only Virginia Ruzici (12). 28-3 in her last thirty-one matches, the Swarmette will rise to a career-best #19 in the new rankings... and, gazing over her draw for the Open, one has to wonder if she might still have one more summer surprise left to pull out of her hip pocket, too. (Hint, hint.)
RISER: Sania Mirza/IND
...Mirza may not have turned out to be the singles star many thought she'd be a while back, but she's continuing to put together a rather impressive doubles resume. She added to it in New Haven, winning the title with Zheng Jie to grab her third crown of the season and seventeenth of her career.
SURPRISE: Alison Riske/USA
...Riske is no longer simply a grass court specialist. After previously seeming to shine only on lawns, the Bannerette has found some modest success on hard courts this summer. She reached the final of a $50K challenger in Portland, then got tour wins over Vania King and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Last week in New Haven, she qualified with victories over Eleni Daniilidou, Irina-Camelia Begu and Yanina Wickmayer, then got a 1st Round win over Stefanie Voegele before pushing Petra Kvitova to three sets. Unlike in her previous pre-Wimbledon runs, Riske wasn't playing for a wild card into the Open last week, as the USTA had already awarded her one into the women's draw.
VETERAN: Klara Zakopalova/CZE
...sure, Zakopalova was pretty well plastered by countrywoman Kvitova (one and love) in the semis, but it was STILL the 31-year old's fourth semi of the season. And she got it with nice wins over Dominika Cibulkova, Monica Puig and Elena Vesnina. Not too shabby, no matter how her week ended.
COMEBACKS: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN & Petra Kvitova/CZE
...hmmm, what to make of the performances of these two heading into the Open? Wozniacki added a victory over Sloane Stephens in New Haven to her win over Kvitova in Cincinnati, but then was outclassed by eventual champ Halep in the SF. The Dane has now put up back-to-back semifinal results in New Haven after having won the title in Yale the previous four seasons. Kvitova battled through -- of course -- three three-setters against Annika Beck, Alison Riske and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, twice coming back from having dropped the opening set. She then destroyed fellow Czech Klara Zakopalova in the semis and jumped in with both feet against Halep in the final, only to come crashing down after the first few games. Both are former U.S. Open Series champions, as well as New Haven winners (Kvitova was the defending champ), but you won't be seeing anyone predicting anything of the sort for Flushing Meadows. Not even cave-dwellers.
FRESH FACE: Anna Schmiedlova/SVK
...the 18-year old Slovak has risen through the junior ranks and onto the regular tour over the last year. In 2012, she was the Roland Garros girls runner-up to Annika Beck. This year, she's qualified for Roland Garros (and notched a main draw win), added to her ITF singles title cache (she's now won seven) and was the runner-up at a $100K challenger in Biarritz. She was already in the U.S. Open main draw, but had to qualify this past week in New Haven with wins over Heather Watson, Zhang Shuai and Elina Svitolina. She lost in the 1st Round to Sloane Stephens.
DOWN: Angelique Kerber/GER & Maria Sharapova/RUS
...Kerber went down early yet again in New Haven, this time in the 2nd Round to Elena Vesnina. The German now has just one QF-or-better result in her last seven tournaments, stretching back to the middle of the EuroClay season. Meanwhile, Sharapova's proverbial 2013 car finally skidded off the road and into a ditch last week. After her disappointing Roland Garros turned into a disappointing Wimbledon AND a hip injury, one thought she'd rebound. Then she ditched coach Thomas Hogstedt and picked up Jimmy Connors. But after losing early in Cincinnati, she cut ties with Connors, too. Surely, that would be all, right? Umm, no. Last week reports surfaced that she was considering temporarily changing her name to "Maria Sugarpova" for the Open as a publicity stunt to promote her candies. Apparently, it proved too complicated a process... or someone belatedly came to their senses (take your pick). All right, crisis averted then, right? Nope. Within a day of the Sugarpova story getting out, it was replaced by Sharapova's withdrawal from the U.S. Open -- and possibly the rest of the season -- with bursitis in her shoulder. Yes, THAT shoulder. That can't be good, right? Whether this is some weird aberration, or a full-blown existential crisis, for the Russian, it's pretty clear that she'd prefer to get as far away from this summer as she possibly can. Hmmm, might I suggest... Siberia? There's something to be said for coming full circle, after all.
JUNIOR STAR: Darya Kasatkina/RUS
...the 16-year old Hordette won the International Hardcourt Championship at College Park, Maryland. The #1 seed, and the #9-ranked junior girl in the world, Kasatkina outlasted junior #142, Maria Shishkina, in the final when the Kazakh retired down 6-3/3-1. Kastaskina reached the Roland Garros girls singles QF earlier this year.

1. NH Final - Halep d. Kvitova
Kvitova got off to a quick start, forcing Halep to save multiple break points in her first two service games to keep things even at 2-2. But after missing one easy shot, Kvitova's strong-starting facade crumbled and the Swarmette ran her '13 final record to 4-0.
2. NH QF - Wozniacki d. Stephens
It'll be interesting to see if these two will carry over their respective performances in this match, or whether they might actually switches places -- as far as results -- at the Open. Stephens led 4-2 in the 1st and served at 5-4, while Wozniacki blew a 5-1 2nd set tie-break lead and ended up edging the American 8-6. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if Stephens outlasted the Dane in the Open draw. Of course, Sloane having Serena in her path (in the 4th Rd.) could ultimately put a crimp in that plan.
3. NH SF - Kvitova d. Zakopalova
The real Petra? Or is THIS Petra really the aberration?
4. NH 1st Rd. - Makarova d. Wozniak
You remember A-Woz, right? 2008 Stanford winner, the first Canadian to win a tour singles title in twenty years, and a three-time Top 50 finisher (including last year)? After continuing to rack up "first Canadian since" honors (reaching the QF in Montreal last summer, becoming the first home nation woman to do it since '92), Wozniak injured her shoulder in Quebec City after last year's U.S. Open. She made a brief comeback attempt in March, but then was out three more months until finally returning last week in New Haven.
5. NH 1st Rd. - Zakopalova d. Cibulkova
Since she won in Stanford, Cibulkova has put up one QF and three one-and-out performances.
HM- NH Doubles 1st Rd. - Huber/Llagostera-Vives d. Raymond/Pennetta 6-4/7-5
NH Doubles QF - Huber/Llagostera-Vives d. Black/King 4-6/6-4/10-4
Last week it was vs. Vesnina. This week, Raymond and Black. There are so many Huber grudge matches they're hard to keep track of these days.

**2013 WTA TITLES**
8...Serena Williams, USA
3...Victoria Azarenka, BLR

Hobart - Elena Vesnina, RUS (F-Barthel)
Cali 125 - Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino, ESP (2r-Dulgheru)
Memphis - Marina Erakovic, NZL (2r-Arvidsson)
Miami - Serena Williams, USA (SF-A.Radwanska)
Palermo - Roberta Vinci, ITA (F-Errani)
New Haven - Simona Halep, ROU (F-Kvitova)

**TITLES ON 3+ SURFACES IN SEASON - since 2003**
2003: Kim Clijsters, Anastasia Myskina
2004: Lindsay Davenport, Anastasia Myskina
2005: Maria Sharapova
2006: Justine Henin-Hardenne
2007: Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic
2008: Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska
2009: Caroline Wozniacki
2010: -
2011: Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki
2012: Serena Williams (4 surfaces)
2013: Simona Halep, Serena Williams

12...Virginia Ruzici (1975-85)
4...SIMONA HALEP (2013)
4...Irina Spirlea (1994-98)
4...Ruxandra Dragomir (1996-97)

8...United States

2004 Lindsay Davenport, USA
2005 Kim Clijsters, BEL*
2006 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2007 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2008 Dinara Safina, RUS
2009 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2010 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2011 Serena Williams, USA
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Serena Williams, USA
* - also won U.S. Open title

Carla: Whew! Carlo & Carlita are asleep!! Finally a moment to breathe.

Carl: Carl no breathe.

Carla: Sure you are, dahling. Otherwise, you'd be taking "the big sleep."

Carl: Carl no sleep.

Carla: All right, then. I guess you're just going to complain. Why don't we make some U.S. Open "Cave Picks" instead?

Carl: Carl have to?

Carla: Yes.

Carl: (grumble)

swilliams defeat aradwanska (Carl say, "Ha! Take that, Rad!")
azarenka defeat vinci
swilliams defeat azarenka

S.Williams d. Li
Stosur d. Kuznetsova
Stosur d. S.Williams

Carla: And, yes, the babies wanted to have their say, too. Here are their very first "Wet Bottoms" picks...

aga d. sloane
sam d. vika
aga d. sam

...psst, don't tell dad!

U.S. Open Preview next. All for now.


Blogger jo shum said...

Ah nice picks from the family!
I'd say the last four, Serena, LI, Halep, vika. Though I must say stosur does seem like a real dark horse here.
Can't wait for next week!

Sat Aug 24, 09:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

A family that picks together squishes together. ;)

Hmmm, Jo. I've got three of the same final four on my picks, but I won't say which four until the preview goes up. :)

Sat Aug 24, 11:27:00 PM EDT  

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