Friday, September 13, 2013

3Q BSA's: Serena in the City

"I haven’t thought of a number or an age when I want to stop. I can tell you this: I don’t see myself retiring anytime soon."-- Serena Williams

*3Q Awards - Week 28-36*
1. Serena Williams, USA
...after she lost at Wimbledon, Serena didn't immediately give off the usual "I'll show them all" vibe that she sports when she suffers such a surprising slam loss. Her immediate post-SW19 return to the clay in Bastad to win a title there seemed a slightly odd choice heading into the hard court season, too, and her title in Toronto seemed more routine than single-minded. But then she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the Cincinnati final. Afterward, Williams "thanked" Vika for giving her back her focus just in time for the U.S. Open. Well, you know what happened after that. She'd lose just one set (not ironically, to the Belarusian) in Flushing Meadows, and was back in "mission mode" as the final approached. Seventeen slams down, one more to go to catch Chris & Martina. Then, Steffi & Margaret Court can officially begin to look back over their shoulders.
2. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
...after missing time following her injury-related exit from Wimbledon, Azarenka looked for most of the hard court season like a player working off the rust of too much time out. Her serve never really did cease to become a problem to be overcome. Still, she called upon her hard-won experience and getting-it-done skills to reach the final in Carlsbad, defeat Serena in Cincinnati and somehow compensate for her erratic level of play (and that dress) to return to the U.S. Open final. Once there, she raised the level of her NYC game to once again give Williams her only real competition of the tournament. In the end, she'd earned some of the respect that used to elude her (though Serena and the Williams clan seem to have always looked upon Vika as an equal on the court... or as close anyone can be in the face of the guiding power of Serenativity), having reached four straight hard court slam finals and measuring space for the name to eventually be engraved onto the silver U.S. Open championship cup. Well, that is, if Serena ever lets her vice-like grip loosen just enough for Azarenka, a runner-up two years running in a pair of classically-played finals, to finally wrestle it away from her.
3. Simona Halep, ROU

...the Swarmette has proven to be THE leader of the group of young Romanians whose presence was noticed on the horizon a few years, but only this season have finally begun to live up to their promise. Halep opened the 3Q with a clay court win in Budapest, giving her three titles in four events (missing out, not shockingly, only at Wimbledon), then closed out the hard court circuit by winning her fourth title (on three different surfaces) of the season in New Haven and reaching her first career slam Round of 16 in NYC, surging into the Top 20 for the first time.
4. Li Na, CHN
...Li 2.0 has often been impressive in 2013, as the coaching/training tactics of Carlos Rodriguez have paid obvious dividends when it's come to the veteran's game tactics and fitness. But, alas, eliminating all of Li 1.0's "what-the-heck-was-that?" proclivities -- which can sometimes fall out of the sky, causing Li to seem to show up unprepared for any given match -- will be the next chore for this pairing. Still, this summer's hard court success was promising, as Li reached semifinals in Toronto, Cincinnati and the U.S. Open, the latter of which coming as she was a factor in NYC for the first time in four season ('09 QF). One more full offseason of work with Rodriguez and maybe a third appearance in an Australian Open final will be Li's charm. Of which she already has much.
5. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
...the Czech began the 3Q by reaching her first career tour singles final in Bad Gastein, then she ended it by wiping the court with everyone at the U.S. Open by sweeping both doubles titles -- taking the Women's with partner Lucie Hradecka, and the Mixed with Max Mirnyi.
6. Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
...two years after taking their first slam crown in Paris, the Czechs teamed to take out the Williams Sisters in New York... and then smartly realized that their work wasn't done, going on to win the title, too.
7. Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears, USA/USA
...the best (regular) American doubles combo in the world, RKJ and Spears won back-to-back titles early on in the hard court season, taking Stanford and defending their '12 Carlsbad crown. They didn't have the same success at the U.S. Open as a duo, but Spears reached the Mixed final with Bruno Soares.
8. Washington Kastles

...even without the efforts of Serena Williams (replaced by an out-of-retirement Martina Hingis, who went on to win the WTT's Female MVP award), the Kastles claimed their third straight World Team Tennis crown, defeating the same Springfield team in the final that had earlier ended the Kastles' record 34-match winning streak.
9. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
...her comeback from wrist surgery took nearly a year, but the thirtysomething Italian showed that she's still got some big results left in her. After reaching a tour semifinal as a qualifier earlier this season, she did so as an unseeded entrant in Bastad to begin the 3Q, then ended it -- while ranked #83 -- by reaching her first career slam semifinal at the U.S. Open. With Pennetta pushing toward the Top 20 for the first time since before last year's Open, the WTA's Italian Renaissance might just have one of the original "masters" (Flavia was the first Italian woman to ever reach the Top 10) around for a while longer, after all.
10. Roberta Vinci, ITA
...Vinci is still looking to become the fourth Italian woman to reach the Top 10, and she's been attempting to do it by walking over many of her countrywomen this season. In the 3Q, she defeated Sara Errani in the Palermo final (her second win over her doubles partner in '13), then took out two more (Knapp & Giorgi) at the U.S. Open en route to her second straight QF there. Waiting for her? Why, long-time friend Pennetta. It was just one match too many for Vinci, who put up a bit of a fight in the 1st set, then essentially breezed through the 2nd to get out of town. Oh, well. One questionable effort doesn't erase everything Vinci did this quarter, or has done in 2013.
11. Samantha Stosur, AUS & Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
...both turned what looked to be fabulous stepping stone results -- Stosur winning in Carlsbad, defeating Azarenka in the final, while Cibulkova took Stanford with a win in the decider over A-Rad -- into nearly-forgotten high points over the course of their (overall) disappointing North American hard court campaigns. Both saw the bottom drop out of their results after their wins. Cibulkova went 3-5 (losing her last four) and was upset in the 1st Round of the Open (by Elina Svitolina), while Stosur parted ways with coach David Taylor, went a mediocre 4-3 and was knocked out of the 1st Round in NYC by 17-year old qualifier Vicky Duval. By the end of the 3Q, both their singles rankings were lower than they'd been then it began.
12. Yvonne Meusburger, AUT 29, the Austrian reached her first tour singles final since 2007 in Budapest, only to lose to Simona Halep. But, have no fear, Meusburger surged to yet another final a week later in Bad Gastein... and this time she finally became a first-time tour champion, defeating Andrea Hlavackova in the final.
JUNIORS - Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
...the Czech 17-year olds had quite the 3Q. Krejcikova won the singles title at the European Junior Championships, sharing the doubles crown with Siniakova. The pair then reached the doubles final of a $25K ITF event, with both advancing to the QF in singles. Siniakova followed up with a singles title in a $25K before the duo came back together at Flushing Meadows. Both lost early in singles, #4 Krejcikova falling to Tornado Alicia Black in the 2nd Round and #3 Siniakova to Mayo Hibi in the QF, but that ultimately allowed them to focus on the doubles competition -- well, and their dance moves, apparently. As the #1 seeds, they won the title, claiming their third straight junior slam after previous wins in Paris and London.


1. Simona Halep, ROU
2. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
3. Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
4. Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears, USA/USA
5. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
6. Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
7. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
8. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
9. Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
10. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
11. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
12. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
13. Sara Errani, ITA
14. Alize Cornet, FRA
15. Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
17. Mona Barthel, GER
18. Coco Vandeweghe, USA
19. Johanna Larsson, SWE
20. Zhang Shuai, CHN
HM- Misaki Doi, JPN

1. Alison Riske, USA
2. Elina Svitolina, UKR
3. Sloane Stephens, USA
4. Camila Giorgi, ITA
5. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
6. Jamie Hampton, USA
7. Kurumi Nara, JPN
8. Zheng Saisai, CHN
9. Vicky Duval, USA
10. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
11. Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
12. Lauren Davis, USA
13. Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
14. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
15. Nicole Gibbs, USA
16. Alexandra Cadantu, ROU
17. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
18. Timea Babos, HUN
19. Karolina Pliskova & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE/CZE
20. Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
21. Grace Min, USA
22. Madison Keys, USA
23. Duan Ying-Ying, CHN
24. Chanel Simmonds, RSA
25. Jana Cepelova, SVK
HM- Ons Jabeur, TUN

1. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2. Ana Konjuh, CRO
3. Tornado Alicia Black, USA
4. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
5. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
6. Antonia Lottner, GER
7. Belinda Bencic, SUI
8. Mayo Hibi, JPN
9. Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
10. Iryna Symanovich, BLR
11. Louisa Chirico, USA
12. Elise Mertens, BEL
13. Usue Arconada, USA
14. Sachia Vickery, USA
15. Ivana Jorovic, SRB
16. Darya Kasatkina, RUS
17. Petra Uberalova, SVK
18. Brooke Austin, USA
19. Ioana Ducu, ROU
20. Harriet Dart, GBR
HM- Jasmine Paolini, ITA

1. Lisa-Maria Moser, AUT
2. Julia Glushko, ISR
3. Karin Knapp, ITA
4. Mandy Minella, LUX
5. Maria Joao Koehler, POR
6. Estrella Cabeza-Candella, ESP
7. Magda Linette, POL
8. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT
9. Sandra Klemenschits & Andreja Klepac, AUT/SLO
10. Shelby Rogers, USA
11. Danka Kovinic, MNE
12. Irina Buryachok, UKR
13. Shuko Aoyama, JPN
14. Olga Govortsova, BLR
15. Lyudmyla Kichenok, UKR
16. Paula Ormaechea, ARG
17. Eri Hozumi, JPN
18. Tereza Martincova, CZE
19. Tetyana Arefyeva, UKR
20. Kerrie Cartwright, BAH
HM- Kateryna Kozlova, UKR

"My problem isn't that I lost. I've lost a million times in my life. My problem is trying to find the desire to fight and be on the court ready to fight. For a few weeks, I haven't felt like I wanted to be on the court. That's the problem." - Sara Errani, after losing in the 2nd Round at Flushing Meadows, opening up about the pressure she feels to live up to on-court expectations

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Li Na, CHN
3. Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
4. Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
5. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
6. Roberta Vinci, ITA
7. Samantha Stosur, AUS
8. Yvonne Meusburger, AUT
9. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
10. Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
11. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
12. Zheng Jie, CHN
13. Klara Zakopalova, CZE
14. Vera Dushevina, RUS
15. Sania Mirza, IND
16. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
17. Jelena Jankovic & Katarina Srebotnik, SRB/SLO
18. Shahar Peer, ISR
19. Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Kveta Peschke, GER/CZE
20. Virginie Razzano, FRA
HM- Cara Black, ZIM & Chanelle Scheepers, RSA

1. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
3. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4. Shahar Peer, ISR
5. Andrea Petkovic, GER
6. Alisa Kleybanova, RUS
7. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
8. Arantxa Rus, NED
9. Martina Hingis, SUI
10. Vera Dushevina, RUS
11. Christina McHale, USA
12. Lauren Albanese, USA
13. Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN
14. Evegniya Rodina, RUS
15. Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
HM- Zhang Shuai, CHN

1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Maria Sharapova, RUS
3. Nadia Petrova, RUS
4. Maria Kirilenko, RUS
5. Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
6. Venus Williams, USA
7. Melanie Oudin, USA
8. Sara Errani, ITA
9. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
10. Laura Robson, GBR
HM- Julia Goerges, GER & Angelique Kerber, GER

1. Johanna Konta, GBR
2. Polona Hercog, SLO
3. Stephanie Vogt, LIE
4. Nadiya Kichenok, UKR
5. Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
6. Arantxa Rus, NED
7. Anna Morgina, RUS
8. Shelby Rogers, USA
9. Denis Khazaniuk, ISR
10. Richel Hogenkamp, NED
11. Madison Brengle, USA
12. Kristina Kucova, SVK
13. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
14. Fatma Al Nabhani, OMA
15. Valetini Grammatikopoulou, GRE
HM- Karen Barbat, DEN & Bernarda Pera, USA


1. [15...16...17...!]
Serena Williams makes it seventeen major titles with her fifth U.S. Open victory celebration
2. [The Cincinnati Kid]
Victoria Azarenka defeats Serena Williams in the Cincinnati final, her second three-set win in a championship match against Williams this season
3. [A Spectacular Simona Summer]
Simona Halep wins on clay (Budapest) and hard court (New Haven), giving her four '13 titles on three different surfaces this summer, along with her pre-Wimbledon grass win
4. [Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold]
Dominika Cibulkova wins Stanford, notching come-from-behind wins over both Radwanska sisters, erasing a 4-2 3rd set deficit in the final against Aga to gain some measure of payback for her 6-0/6-0 loss in the Sydney final to A-Rad back in Week 2
5. [One for the Road]
Samantha Stosur wins Carlsbad, getting Top 4 wins over Azarenka and Radwanska, to pick up her first title since the U.S. Open in 2011. She parts ways with longtime coach David Taylor shortly thereafter.
6. [Two for the Road]
...Andrea Hlavackova sweeps the U.S. Open women's and mixed doubles title, becoming the first woman to do so at a slam since Cara Black at the U.S. Open in 2008
7. [Six + 2... A Pastry's Doubles Half-Dozen?]
Kristina Mladenovic wins the Budapest title with Katarzyna Piter, her eighth doubles/mixed title with an eighth different partner over the course of a year.
8. [Hey, It's Nothing Personal]
In Palermo, Roberta Vinci defeats friend and doubles partner Sara Errani in the final to claim her ninth career title
9. [Czech Maidens III]
...Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova win the U.S. Open Girls doubles title, their third straight junor slam crown
10. [Winning...the Hard Way]
...Croat Ana Konjuh wins the U.S. Open Girls singles, completing her bookend set of '13 hard court slam crowns after having won in Melbourne in January

And then there's...
11a. Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears win back-to-back doubles titles in Stanford and Carlsbad
11b. Anabel Medina-Garrgiues' title in Bastad with Klara Zakopalova gives her three doubles titles on three surfaces with three different partners in 2013
11c. Serena Williams wins in Bastad, her tour-leading fifth clay court title of the season
11d. Yvonne Meusburger wins her first career tour title in Bad Gastein at age 29, making her the oldest first-time WTA singles winner since Alberta Brianti (31) in April '11
11e. Washington Kastles win a third straight WTT title
11f. Magdalena Rybarikova defends her title in Washington, D.C.

"She's a champion. She knows what it takes to get there. I know the feeling, too. When two people who want that feeling so bad meet, it's like a clash. That's what happened out there. A battle." - Victoria Azarenka, on Serena Williams and their U.S. Open final

Cincinnati Final - Victoria Azarenka d. Serena Williams
Matching the accomplishment of her three-set win over Serena in the Doha final, Azarenka pushes Williams to three and emerges with a win. After the first two sets' scoreline read the same as the '12 U.S. Open final, Azarenka breaks for 4-2 in the 3rd but fails to convert a game point for 5-2. The match is decided by a tie-break, where Serena overcomes a 4-2 deficit and takes a 5-4 lead. With the match on her racket, Williams loses back-to-back service points, missing long on an open court shot and then double-faulting. Azarenka gives herself a second match point in the TB with a low-angled volley off a hard Williams forehand passing attempt, then wins when Serena nets a forehand. Later, Williams credits the loss with renewing her focus for Flushing Meadows. Speaking of...
US Open Final - Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka
A great championship-level performance by Serena in the second straight three-set Open final between the two. Even with Williams' victory, this one is most highlighted by Azarenka, who came within two points of taking the 1st set, and her remarkable 2nd set comeback. Down a double-break at 4-1, Azarenka twice saw Serena serve for the title (a year after Vika had failed to do the same against her in the '12 final) and come as close as two points from locking away the match before a tie-break was needed to decide the set. There, Azarenka overcame another disadvantage -- a mini-break deficit at 3-1 -- and won 8-6 to forced a deciding 3rd. In the end, Serena's experience came to the forefront... but -- for now, at least -- BOTH players emerged as "winners," having done something for which they could be proud.
Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Sloane Stephens d. Maria Sharapova
Down a set and 2-0, Stephens comes back to get her first career win over an uncomfortable and less-than-match-tough Sharapova, who commits 62 errors to 16 winners. Buh-bye, Jimbo! And maybe Sharapova until 2014?
US Open 4th Rd. - Carla Suarez-Navarro d. Angelique Kerber
In 2:41, the Spaniard and the German played an exhausting contest that included nearly 100 combined unforced errors, 75 winners and a CSN who served for the match at 5-4 and was broken at love, but lived to tell about it and advance to her first U.S. Open quarterfinal after prevailing in a 3rd set tie-break.
Carlsbad QF - Virginie Razzano d. Petra Kvitova
In 3:35, Kvitova doesn't implode, but she does squander a big opportunity by failing to put away a break point at 5-5 that would have allowed her to serve for a straight sets victory. As it is, the Czech saved three match points while down 5-4 in the 3rd, but failed to put away a MP of her own at 6-5 and 8-7 in the deciding tie-break. Razzano won on her second MP of TB, and her fifth overall.
US Open 2nd Rd. - Zheng Jie d. Venus Williams
Zheng holds break point for a 5-1 3rd set lead, but Williams battles back to 5-5 and forces a deciding tie-break. There, Zheng leads 4-1, only to see Venus even things at 5-5 yet again. But with the dramatic 3:00 match in the balance, Williams dumps a volley into the net and knocks a return shot out to close the match in anticlimactic fashion.
Stanford Final - Dominika Cibulkova d. Agnieszka Radwanska
Coming in with a 0-4 record against A-Rad, and with the memory still fresh from of her double-bagel loss to the Pole in January, Cibulkova was never discouraged while going 0-for-7 in break point attempts through the first set and a half. On BP #8, Cibulkova converted and went on to take the 2nd set. In the 3rd, the Slovak was twice down a break, and A-Rad served at 4-2, up 40/15. With Aga's usually-clever shot selection abandoning her down the stretch, Cibulkova outhit Radwanska, finally putting away the 2:28 match with a crosscourt winner on her fifth MP.

She's Back!
Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor Alisa Kleybanova plays her first WTA tour event in seventeen months in Toronto, then later at the U.S. Open gets her first slam match win since her 1st Round victory at the 2011 Australian Open, right before her diagnosis.
She's Back in the Winner's Circle!
Shahar Peer wins the WTA 125 challenger in Suzhou, China to cap a summer that included an appearance in a WTA final in Baku, her first on the regular tour since 2011
She's Back... and in the Winner's Circle!
Sandra Klemenschits wins the Bad Gastein doubles for her first career tour crown, five years after the death of her sister Daniela. Both sisters, who'd combined to reach a tour doubles final in '05, had been treated for the same rare form of cancer, forcing them to retire in 2007.
She's Baaaaack... again
recent Hall of Fame inductee Martina Hingis comes out of retirement for a second time. After winning the Female MVP award for the WTT champion Washington Kastles, the Swiss Miss returns to tour doubles action with Daniela Hantuchova.
Little Miss Turnaround
Arantxa Rus, fresh off her WTA record-tying losing streak of seventeen matches that dropped her ranking from #61 to #262, finally gets a win in the 1st Round at Bad Gastein, erasing a 4-2 3rd set deficit to defeat Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor. She reaches the QF, then continues her resurgence by winning back-to-back ITF circuit events while putting together a ten-match winning streak.

"It took Daniela a lot courage and inspiration to kind of dig me out of a grave." - Martina Hingis, who last played professionally in 2007, on Daniela Hantuchova convincing her to return to the WTA tour as her doubles parter

Toronto 2nd Rd. - Sorana Cirstea d. Caroline Wozniacki
The Dane battled back from a 5-3 2nd set deficit and held two match points at 6-5. After she failed to convert either, she dropped the tie-break at love and lost the 3rd set. Cirstea went all the way to the final.
US Open 3rd Rd. - Daniela Hantuchova d. Julia Glushko
The Slovak vet trailed 5-2 in the 2nd set and saved four match points en route to reaching her first U.S. Open quarterfinal in eleven years.
US Open 3rd Rd. - Ana Ivanovic d. Christina McHale
Already with a checkered slam history of blowing leads (once, even a 5-0 advantage in the 3rd!), this time McHale's Open resurgence became endangered the moment she failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the 2nd set.
US Open 1st Rd. - Sloane Stephens d. Mandy Minella
No stranger to losing leads herself, Stephens turned the tables on the veteran from Luxembourg. Minella led 4-2 in the 3rd set, then 3-1 in the deciding tie-break, before the American reeled off five straight points and escaped what would have been a deflating end to her successful 2013 slam season.


US Open 1st Rd. - Vicky Duval d. Samantha Stosur
In just her second career main draw slam match, 17-year old qualifier Duval served for all three sets, but narrowly avoided a straights loss to the '11 U.S. Open champ when she trailed 4-2 in the 2nd. Stosur's DF to hand a break to Duval lit the fire of the young Bannerette and she broke the #11-seeded Aussie again two games later. After breaking Stosur for 4-3, world #296 Duval expertly held her nerve (and her serve) in the closing games of the 3rd, smacking a winner on her fourth match point.
Washington DC Q1 - Usue Arconada d. Maria Irigoyen
The 14-year old, the #5 Q-seed who was given a late wild card into the draw, overcomes a 5-2 1st set deficit to defeat the Argentine, becoming the youngest player to get a win in a WTA event since Madison Keys (14) in 2009.
Toronto Q2 - Lauren Davis d. Svetlana Kuznetsova 5-7/6-4/6-4
Toronto 1st Rd. - Lauren Davis d. Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6/7-5/7-5
it's one thing for the 19-year old to pull off one come-from-behind win over a multiple slam winner, but to turn around and do it all over again when the same veteran stands across the net from her again as a "lucky loser" is something to stand up and take note of.
US Open 3rd Rd. - Camila Giorgi d. Caroline Wozniacki
Fiery, never-give-up Italian -- do they make them any other way? -- Giorgi stuns Wozniacki in the qualifier's nighttime debut on Ashe, showing no nerves and a personal style that will likely get her a bit of off-court acclaim. Sample next-day headline: "Tiny Blonde Bombshell Italian Goes Wild at Open."
US Open Doubles SF - Hlavackova/Hradecka d. Williams/Williams
Hey, isn't it always an upset... even with a diminished Venus?

**By the Numbers...**
0... number of players not named Sloane in the current Top 39 who have never reached a WTA singles final in their career. #13 Stephens has not. #40 Kristina Mladenovic hasn't, either, but she DID reach and win a WTA 125 challenger final in 2012.
0-3... record in 2013 grand slam doubles finals of the Aussie duo of Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua. They might want to take heart, though, as now-reigning U.S. Open champions Hlavackova & Hradecka went 0-4 in finals at Wimbledon, the Olympics the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships in 2012.
1-3... Sorana Cirstea's record after her run to the Toronto final, which included wins over two former world #1's (Wozniacki/Jankovic) and a pair of slam winners (Kvitova/Li).
2... number of #1 seeds defeated in '13 junior grand slam singles by German Antonia Lottner. What's more, while Lottner failed to notch a slam crown this season, the two top-seeded girls she beat -- Ana Konjuh & Belinda Bencic -- ended up sweeping all four crowns, with both claiming a pair of championships
2 & 3... after her win over Serena in the Cincinnati decider, the number of times (2) that Victoria Azarenka has defeated Williams in finals in 2013, matching Maria Sharapova's 2004 feat to join her as the only two women to have ever done it. For her career, Vika has defeated Serena three times in finals, a total matched only by Venus Williams during Serena's time on the WTA tour.
3... times the #1 seed -- Azarenka, and Serena twice -- won the singles at the four slams this year. It's the first time that has happened in a season since #1 seeds -- Seles, and Graf three times -- swept all four slams in 1996.
3... number of career Top 10 wins for Sloane Stephens, after her win in Cincinnati over Maria Sharapova
3.6... millions of dollars (US) won by Serena Williams for claiming both the U.S. Open Series and U.S. Open singles titles this summer. It set a record for the largest amount of prize money awarded for winning a single event... and then was matched one day later when Rafa Nadal completed the same two-for-two summer accomplishment when he won the men's title.
4-0... Simona Halep's record in 2013 tour singles finals. The only players with more impressive single season records in finals over the past decade have been named Serena (7-0 in '12), Kim (9-0 in '05, 5-0 in '10) and Justine (5-0 in '04).
6... #1 vs. #2 match-ups in 2013 alone, as many as occurred from 2008-12 combined. And it's just one off the seven 1-vs.-2 matches that happened over the eight-year stretch from 2005-12.
7 of 8... number of slams won by the "Big 3" of Williams, Azarenka & Sharapova since none of them won major titles in 2011.
9-1... Roberta Vinci's career mark in singles finals, including six in a row over the last three seasons.
17-4... Serena Williams' career record in slam singles finals. Her 80.95% win percentage is the best of any woman in the Open era who has appeared in more than three major finals.
#25... Liezel Huber's current doubles ranking, right below former partners Cara Black (#24) and Lisa Raymond (#23). What is it they say about karma again?
34... match winning streak completed by the WTT's Washington Kastles, breaking the North American team record held by the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, who won thirty-three consecutive games in 1971-72.
40... career wins by Serena Williams in matches against either world #1's or #2's

Sabine Lisicki & the squirrel

Martina Hingis is safely enshired in the Hall of Fame... then she almost immediately announces her comeback
A roof is coming to the U.S. Open: on Ashe Stadium, as well as on a rebuilt Louis Armstrong. Eventually... but finally, nonetheless.

After starting play at nearly midnight, Sloane Stephens flashes Future style to get her first night match victory on the Ashe Court stage, obliterating Ula Radwanska 1 & 1 in 58 minutes without facing a break point
Danka Kovinic, 18, make her main draw tour debut in Budapest and becomes the first player -- man or woman -- from Montenegro to reach a singles quarterfinal
Casey Dellacqua announced that she'd recently become a mother, along with her partner Amanda, to a son named Blake
The effective Darren Cahill courtside visits with Sorana Cirstea in Toronto

Camila Giorgi's winning debut on Ashe


Rogers Cup tournament officials, in an effort to prop up business at the traditionally lesser-attended event in Toronto (this year's host to the women's event), bring in eliminated men's players -- with all expenses paid, as well as additional money awarded -- from the simultaneous event held in Montreal to play in nighttime exhibition events... making it appear as if the women weren't a big enough draw to support the event without the help of the men. Good work, Stacey.

Olga Puchkova was defaulted in Washington, D.C. when she smacked a ball in anger and it hit a linesperson
Ye Olde Pink-and-Battleship Grey (Thanks, Nike.)

Agnieszka Radwanska's disappointing summer, which included a semifinal loss at Wimbledon when she was the highest-remaining seed, continued in the 3Q when she was faced with the loud and critical reaction to her ESPN the Magazine nude photos from Catholic groups back home in Poland, a stuffed-to-capacity hard court schedule that produced no titles (and one lost opportunity in Stanford) and extended her title-less streak to thirty-four weeks. Then, she had to return home right before the U.S. Open to attend the funeral of her grandfather. In the Round of 16 in NYC, Aga won the first four games of the match against Ekaterina Makarova, then dropped twelve of the final sixteen to once again fail to reach the Open QF. Meanwhile, The Radwanska was no where to be found in New York City... maybe it was simply exhausted?

No-Level Risk: Maria Sharapova splits with Jimmy Connors (who DIDN'T think this was doomed from Day 1?)
Low-Level Risk: Ana Ivanovic splits with Nigel Sears (what's she on, Coach #114 by now?)
Mid-Level Risk: Samantha Stosur splits with David Taylor (early results notwithstanding, she went two years without a title after winning the U.S. Open... and that was WITH Taylor)
High-Level Risk (well, at least if it was anyone else): Maria Sharapova splits with Thomas Hogstedt. Considering the odd "chaos" (see below) that has surrounded the Russian ever since, might karma -- remember, Sharapova essentially swiped Hogstedt from Li Na a few seasons back -- be coming back to bite her? She'll likely land on her feet, though.


22-year old Austrian Lisa-Maria Moser, ranked #725, with a sub-.500 career record and under $10K in earnings, was given the last wild card into Bad Gastein when the player it was supposed to go to was too injured to participate. In her main draw tour debut, Moser upset #1-seeded Mona Barthel and went on to reach the quarterfinals.

Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli retired after a 2nd Round loss in Cincinnati. Retired... from tennis. Effective immediately.

In the U.S. Open Round of 16, in their first meeting since Sloane Stephens' upset in the Australian Open quarterfinals (and all sorts of "extracurricular activity" between the two via social media and interviews over the past eight months), Serena Williams handled her countrywoman -- but definitely not "protégé " -- 6-4/6-1.

American wild card Tornado Alicia Black put on an unexpected run to the U.S. Open junior singles final, ultimately losing in a 3rd set tie-break. Tornado has a tennis-playing younger sister... naturally, her name is Hurricane. What are the odds on Jelena Jankovic eventually losing to one of them, quite possibly with the playing court being shaken by an earthquake in the middle of the match?

In 2012, Coco Vandeweghe lost in Stanford qualifying, then entered the main draw as a "lucky loser" and advanced all the way to the final against Serena Williams. One year later, she was forced to go through qualifying once again, but made it through this time... then lost in the 2nd Round to Sorana Cirstea. Epic fail?

Since being publicly blasted by Serena Williams in a Rolling Stone interview and responding by uncharacteristically offering up a biting retort of her own, then falling and injuring her hip in an early-round loss at Wimbledon, Maria Sharapova has fired Thomas Hogstedt, the coach who helped guide her successful comeback from shoulder surgery, then hired Jimmy Connors to replace him. After losing her first match under Connors to Sloane Stephens, Sharapova fired Connors. Rumors soon swirled that Sharapova was considering temporarily changing her name to "Sugarpova" during the U.S. Open in order to promote her gummy candies, only to have it announced that the idea was called off because it was "too complicated," and not because it was looked upon as a bit laughable. Soon afterward, she pulled out of the Open with shoulder bursitis, amid unconfirmed reports that she would also miss the remainder of the season. What the heck is going on here, anyway?

Tweets by Iveta Benesova about the training plans of Nicole Vaidisova sparked rumors that the former teenage star (still only 24) might be planning a potential WTA comeback

Brit Anne Keothavong retired



*Longest Active Streaks*
[Top 10]
154 weeks...Victoria Azarenka
128 weeks...Maria Sharapova
101 weeks...Agnieszka Radwanska
75 weeks...Serena Williams
69 weeks...Angelique Kerber
66 weeks...Sara Errani
57 weeks...Li Na
31 weeks...Caroline Wozniacki
10 weeks...Marion Bartoli
1 week...Jelena Jankovic
[Top 20]
327 weeks...Marion Bartoli
291 weeks...Agnieszka Radwanska
278 weeks...Victoria Azarenka
264 weeks...Caroline Wozniacki
222 weeks...Li Na
216 weeks...Samantha Stosur
153 weeks...Maria Sharapova
137 weeks...Petra Kvitova
104 weeks...Serena Williams
84 weeks...Ana Ivanovic
82 weeks...Angelique Kerber
73 weeks...Maria Kirilenko
66 weeks...Sara Errani
56 weeks...Roberta Vinci
33 weeks...Sloane Stephens
24 weeks...Jelena Jankovic
17 weeks...Carla Suarez-Navarro
14 weeks...Kirsten Flipkens
10 weeks...Sabine Lisicki
2 weeks...Simona Halep

1. Serena Williams, USA...a second straight "Ms.B" honor is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered
2. Victoria Azarenka, close, but yet so far
3t. Italian Fed Cup Team...suddenly, the Italian team seems even deeper than it was before
3t. Russian Fed Cup Team...the Revolution is over, but the "B+"-team still might be good enough to grab a fifth FC title
5. Simona Halep, ROU...if she can carry over her 2013 summer to '14, she might become the first Romanian to make her debut in the Top 10 in nearly twenty years (Spirlea in '96)
6. Marion Bartoli, FRA...oh, La Trufflette. This is just a temporary parting, right?
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS...has any player had more of a rollercoaster season?
8. Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA), Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS), Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) & Hlavackova/Hradecka (CZE/CZE)...the four slam-winning teams in a season without a dominant duo.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL...after starting the season with two titles in two weeks, her season has been a bit of a letdown. Still, she's the highest-ranked player outside the Big 3.
10. Li Na, CHN...a couple games here or there and she might be nipping at the heels of the woman (Vika) who defeated her in the Australian Open final. On this ranking list... and maybe in the actual rankings, too.


"Never say never." - Marion Bartoli, on the possibility of her one day ending her retirement and returning to tennis

All for now.


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