Monday, March 17, 2014

Miami: Like Old Times, or with a new twist?

Miami is here, and Serena Williams is back. But will she be partying again like it's 1989?

Or maybe 2002, '03 or '04? Or how about '07, '08 or '13?

Those last six years are the ones in which Serena won each of her record six titles at the event. So far in 2014, though, Williams hasn't quite been the be all to end all that she was for most of the last two seasons. But, seriously, how can a case be made to go against her here? Two-time champ Vika Azarenka is out with her foot injury, Maria Sharapova is a five-time runner-up (including each of the last three years) who has never won the big title in Miami, AO titlist Li Na battled herself in California as much as she did any of her opponents, and '12 champ Aga Radwanska was taken down by a lingering knee injury this weekend in Indian Wells. While the Rads celebrated Aga's birthday and nice final run last week, what are chances that A-Rad will be the belle of the Miami ball, as well?

Could we be looking at another big event that is subjected to a series of upsets, but ultimately has a heartwarming conclusion that pretty much everyone can get behind, ala Flavia Pennetta's just-completed career-best result in the desert?

Hmm, that would seem unlikely. But who knows? As Li said last week, welcome to the crazy women's tennis tour.

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
2013 Serena Williams 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 (W-L)

6...Serena Williams (2002-04, 07-08, 13)
5...Steffi Graf (1987-88, 1994-96)
3...Venus Williams (1998-99, 01)
2...Victoria Azarenka (2009, 11)
2...Kim Clijsters (2005, 10)
2...Martina Hingis (1997, 2000)
2...Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (1992-93)
2...Monica Seles (1990-91)

2004 Nadia Petrova & Meghann Shaughnessy
2005 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Alicia Molik
2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2007 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2008 Katarina Srebotnik & Ai Sugiyama
2009 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Amelie Mauresmo
2010 Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
2011 Daniela Hantuchova & Agnieszka Radwanska
2012 Maria Kirilenko & Nadia Petrova
2013 Nadia Petrova & Katarina Srebotnik

Victoria Azarenka
Kim Clijsters
Steffi Graf
Martina Hingis
Martina Navratilova
Monica Seles
Serena Williams
[active, won IW but not Miami]
Daniela Hantuchova
Ana Ivanovic
Jelena Jankovic
Flavia Pennetta
Maria Sharapova
Caroline Wozniacki
Vera Zvonareva

1994 - Steffi Graf
1996 - Steffi Graf
2005 - Kim Clijsters

MIAMI, FLORIDA USA (Premier $5.427m/hard outdoor)
13 Final: S.Williams d. Sharapova
13 Doubles Final: Petrova/Srebotnik d. Raymond/Robson (Petrova 2012-13 champion)
14 Top Seeds: S.Williams/Li

=4th Round=
#1 S.Williams d. #18 Stosur
#6 Kerber d. #23 Makarova
#4 Sharapova d. #18 Flipkens
#20 Pennetta d. #28 Kuznetsova
#28 V.Williams d. #10 Cibulkova
#3 A.Radwanska d. #18 Bouchard
#7 Jankovic d. #17 Stephens
#2 Li d. #16 Suarez-Navarro Venus still in Dubai form? If so, the "#28" next to her name might not mean much. I'll roll the dice and have her moving out of Halep's section, though surely the Romanian is still the favorite to do so at the moment. Kuznetsova gets revenge on Kvitova in the 3rd Round? I'll go with it. If Aga isn't capable, Miami could be Bouchard's first post-AO breakout result. Stickin' with JJ, too.

#1 S.Williams d. #6 Kerber
#4 Sharapova d. #20 Pennetta
#28 V.Williams d. #3 A.Radwanska
#7 Jankovic d. #2 Li

...Flavia couldn't put together another run, could she? Well, at least Maria won't have to face Serena in the final again. Still sticking with Venus. And JJ, too.

#1 S.Williams d. #4 Sharapova
#28 V.Williams d. #7 Jankovic

...if Serena lost and avoided a final with Venus, would the conspiracy theories go into overdrive again? We didn't get that Williams/Williams final a few weeks ago, so I'll take a deep breath and go for it here.

#1 S.Williams d. #28 V.Williams

...they've played each other in Miami four times, but in only one final. It was 1999, and it was the very first time that the Sisters faced off for a tour title. Could this be the last time they do it? Hmmm... maybe.

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Expecting a bunch of upsets, and could literally see 20 people in the final 4, but going with S.Williams, Safarova(from the headcase quarter w/ Kvitova, Kuznetsova, Lisicki), Cornet(from the feel good quarter w/ Halep, V.Williams, Bouchard, Cibulkova), and Jankovic.

Tue Mar 18, 01:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

"Headcase quarter" -- nice. :)

You could probably include AnaIvo as a member of that club in there, too.

Tue Mar 18, 03:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Some early Miami returns. A little old, a little new.

In the final round of qualifying, 17-year old Francoise Abanda lost in 2:37 to 43-year old Kimiko Date-Krumm. While it'd be a tight fit to try to cram a Pironkova into that age gap, a Radwanska would fit rather nicely, I do believe.

Meanwhile, in the 1st Round, Yaroslava Shvedova took out Francesca Schiavone, dropping the Italian to 1-8 in 2014, and 1-11 in her last twelve matches. Shvedova next faces Serena Williams. The Kazakh has given big names trouble in the past, and the #1 seed and defending Miami champion isn't one who's been immune to getting caught up in such Shvedovian shenanigans, either.

Tue Mar 18, 10:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

1st Rd. results of the day:

Petrova d. U.Radwanska (Oh, Nadia!)

Tomljanovic d. Mladenovic (unfortunately for the Pastry, doubles partner Pennetta's exploits in IW didn't rub off on her own singles results)

Thu Mar 20, 12:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I haven't seen Serena this vocal and emotional for awhile. Also her backhand has been going haywire all season so far.

She looks fitter now at least than in early 2014.

Why isn't shvedova ranked higher? her game and athleticism are amazing.

Thu Mar 20, 06:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

finally some lift in her groundies...she seems to be having trouble getting short crosscourt angles off the forehand. that was her bread and butter all of 2013

Thu Mar 20, 07:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

her spin is making her shots sit up and land short in the court...disadvantageous...

is coco the john isner of the women's side. only able to play well in the states?

Thu Mar 20, 07:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...


Patrick is back...

Thu Mar 20, 07:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

some of these calls haven't been accurate...but no challenges.

Thu Mar 20, 07:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, Eric, I think we probably sort of saw why Shvedova isn't ranked higher. She can play the big players on big stages well, but often comes up small in big moments.

Against Serena alone today, she served for the 1st set at 5-4, 30/15 only to see a Williams shot bounce off the net cord and then head right behind Shvedova, who'd set up for a forehand volley. She made an attempt at the same sort of spinning 360-degree backhand volley that Aga pulled off vs. Flipkens last year, but she just wasn't Aga and entirely whiffed on the ball. Thankfully, Williams didn't offer one of those "obligatory" fake apologies after that point, either. Serena broke her that game, then held at love. Shvedova led 6-3 in the 1st set TB, but failed to convert either SP on serve, then saw Serena smack back-to-back aces to reach her own SP. A Shvedova volley tied things at 7-7, but Williams had another SP at 8-7, and she converted when she hit a backhand winner off a Shvedova shot that bounced off the net cord. She saved 3 SP, and won 9-7.

After long games to start the 2nd set, Williams broke for 3-2 and never looked back, winning 7-6(7)/6-2.

It was a pretty good illustration of why Serena is Serena, and Shvedova is Shvedova.

Earlier in the day, Kerber escaped an ever bigger hole to win over Peng. Peng led 5-2 in the 3rd, and served at 5-3, only to lose 6-3/1-6/7-6(5) despite getting more points than the German in the full match and having better W/UE numbers.

Thu Mar 20, 11:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

When Shvedova and Vania K. used to play doubles together, you could see Vania struggling not to cringe every time Shvedova had to hold serve at a big moment. She just goes to pieces when the pressure's on. Too bad because she does have a lot of skills.

Fri Mar 21, 06:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, some very "Sloany" results not involving Sloane on Friday:

1) Muguruza led Tomljanovic 6-3/4-2 and served at 5-3, then led 5-3 in the 2nd set tie-break before going on to lose in three. Geez, Aga really did a mental number on her in Melbounre. She just hasn't been the same player since, losing leads all the time.

2) JJ led Lepchenko 5-1 in the 3rd, and served at 5-2 and 5-4 but lost the match in a 7-2 tie-break.

3) Bouchard won the 1st set over Svitolina, then dropped the next two at 1 & 2. Ouch.

Meanwhile, Vinci lost. Again. Keys pulled off another win vs. a veteran (Hantuchova) and Halep pulled out with a toe injury. Aga played and won in straights, with some funky taping on her injured knee.

In doubles, Kops-Jones/Spears took out Mladenovic/Pennetta, who seem to either win the title or go out in their first match when they play together. Hingis/Lisicki defeated Hlavackova/Safarova, and Peschke/Srebotnik took out the intriguing duo of Kuznetsova/Stosur. Also, King/Zheng took out Huber/Raymond, who were playing together for the first time since 2012.

Fri Mar 21, 07:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

bad tourney for mladenovic and kuz...both out early in both events

Fri Mar 21, 09:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Stephens is starting Miami just like she did IW, by digging out of trouble. Against Zarina Diyas, Stephens trailed 4-2 in the 1st and the Kazakh served for the set at 5-3. But Stephens broke her in her final three service games of the set, saving a SP at 5-4, and going on to win 7-5/6-3.

Venus won, too. In straight sets over another tennis sister, Anna Schmiedlova. A good, non-three set start if she's going to have a better shot to last into the deep corners of this tournament, as someone I know predicted the other day.

Fri Mar 21, 09:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

And Caroline won a roller coaster math 61 16 63 in a Spanish arena - not easy win but important that she can do it in this atmosphere - good preparation before meeting Sloane:

Btw - is it still a Stella dress? doesn't look like that - changed?

Sat Mar 22, 06:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

And again this year - lousy, lousy, lousy TV from Miami - a disgrace IMHO only a TOTAL of 20 WTA maches from Miami on TV from beginning to the end. A Mickey Mouse tournament TV wise.

Sat Mar 22, 06:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, it doesn't look like it fits the theme of the things she's been wearing. I haven't heard anything.

Miami is the same tournament that a few years ago, because of the deal the tournament had with local Fox Sports stations that allowed them to show something else if they wanted, had players complaining during the event that they couldn't even watch the matches from their hotel rooms because the local Fox sports cable affiliate wasn't airing them!

Sat Mar 22, 05:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Not a good day for the Top 4 ranked doubles players in the world:

Date-Krumm/Zahlavova-Strycova d. Hsieh/Peng 6-2/7-6(7)

Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro d. Errani/Vinci 7-6(7)/1-6/12-10 (the Italians had a MP at 10-9 in the Match Tie-Break)

Serena didn't play well (especially w/ her serve), but she managed to outlast Caroline Garcia, who looks to have taken a big step up in '14. Williams won 6-4/4-6/6-4.

Sat Mar 22, 07:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Whew! Sharapova takes nearly three hours and nine match points (the final seven in the last game of the match, about an hour after her first two MP) to finally take out Safarova in three sets.

Sat Mar 22, 10:31:00 PM EDT  

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