Monday, August 04, 2014

Wk.31- A Wobbly Serena Stands (Sorta) Tall in Stanford

Well, things surely weren't easy last week for Serena Williams in Stanford. Nor were they particularly pretty. Rarely did she get off to a good start, play a match without a slippery patch of frustration, or have a moment when she didn't find herself at some point staring up at a somewhat surprisingly big deficit on the scoreboard. And, because of her 2014 track record, the moments were also few when it was a mental "given" that she'd pull herself out of the many ruts in which she found herself, no matter how many times she'd done just that in similar circumstances in seasons past.

But, still, through the first week of her North American hard court swing, Williams gradually rediscovered bits and pieces of her form in each of her four outings in northern California, though she really still hadn't TOTALLY found her game by the time she was lifing her sixty-first career singles title trophy above her head at the end of a week that nevertheless saw her notch wins over three Top 20 players, including one Top 10er and a second who would climb into the Top 10 immediately after the tournament.

Through it all, her return to a WTA court for first time since her double dose of Wimbledon disappointment -- a 3rd Round loss in singles to Alize Cornet, then an even more embarrassing and/or disturbing, stumbling exit in doubles -- can rightly be declared a "success." After beginning the week by taking on (in typically-vague Serena language) a slew of surely uncomfortable questions about what happened on the court at the AELTC, Serena didn't (literally) stumble or crash out of the draw in headline-grabbing fashion. She was hardly perfect, but she found a way to do what she often does best. Just win.

2014 has been a bad slam year for Williams, as she hasn't advanced past the Round of 16 at any of the season's three majors. But, still, she's ensconced at #1 in the rankings, her Stanford run gives her a tour-best four titles on the season, and she's 7-0 against Top 10 players this year, running her record against the very best players in the game to 46-4 since 2012. One could make a case that... no, make that CAN put together a pretty clear argument that Serena is the WTA's most dominant "regular season" player of 2014, save for Maria Sharapova during her brief spring clay court campaign.

But does last week mean anything as we inch closer to New York and the U.S. Open at the end of the month, when Williams will attempt to win her third straight title at Flushing Meadows? Umm, well... probably not. After years of being the best player in tour's four majors, the opposite has been the case with Serena this season. The pressure, maybe her age (which has to play a part at SOME point, right?) and whatever the things are that Serena doesn't talk about have made her seem ready to be fitted with a Riddler, Matthew Lesko-style question mark-filled outfit.



The last person to three-peat at the Open was Chris Evert, who won four straight titles from 1975-78. The last before that? Well, how about Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly, who competed her three straight run -- sixty-one years ago -- in 1953.

We DO know that Serena leads the U.S. Open Series, for now, and will be the top seed this week in Montreal. That's about it. As we race toward the fall, we won't really know if Williams' game will once again be slam-worthy in NYC until she is -- or isn't -- lifting her eighteenth major trophy on Arthur Ashe Court in September.

So, let the countdown to the "big reveal" begin. Once more, history is waiting for Serena. Whether Williams promptly arrives for the rendezvous will be the "great unanswered question" for what remains of this summer.



*WEEK 31 CHAMPIONS*
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA USA (Premier $710K/Hard Court)
S: Serena Williams/USA def. Angelique Kerber/GER 7-6(1)/6-3
D: Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. Kania/Siniakova

WASHINGTON, D.C. USA (Int'l $250K/Hard Court)
S: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS def. Kurumi Nari/JPN 6-3/4-6/6-4
D: Aoyama/Dabrowski (JPN/CAN) d. Kuwata/Nara (JPN/JPN)



PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Serena Williams/USA

...Williams' third career Stanford title came a day before she marked her 200th career week as the #1 player in the world. The road to title #61 was a rollercoaster, though. Serena fell behind 5-1 while losing the 1st set in the QF vs. Ana Ivanovic, then saw her 3-1 3rd set led turn into a 4-3 deficit before she pulled out the win. In the SF against Andrea Petkovic, a tight 1st set turned her way late as she ran off the final eight games of the match. Then, in the final, Angelique Kerber led 5-1 in the 1st set and had two set points before Williams won in straights. Serena was hardly the dominating version of herself that has been in the past, but it'll do. For now. This version of Serena would likely lose in New York, though. So, stay tuned.
=============================
RISERS: Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez-Navarro (ESP/ESP) & Varvara Lepchenko/USA
...while both Spaniards have claimed their first career WTA singles titles in 2014, Muguruza & CSN have also fallen into a very successful doubles team, as well. In Stanford, they finally grabbed their first title as a duo after putting up QF (Miami), SF (Roland Garros) and RU (Madrid) results earlier this season. Muguruza, who also knocked off defending champ Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova last week, claims her third career doubles title, while Suarez-Navarro now has her first. Meanwhile, Lepchenko's Stanford semifinal run -- with wins over Caroline Garcia, Aga Radwanska & Sachia Vickery -- makes her the tenth different Bannerette to reach a WTA semi in '14.
=============================
SURPRISE: The Japanese
...there have been a few Japanese players not named Kimiko putting up noteworthy results in 2014, but the group truly made their presence felt in Week 31. Four of the six Washington, D.C. singles/doubles finalists hailed from Japan, including three of the four doubles participants. 22-year old Kurumi Nara, a first-time singles champ earlier this season in Rio, reached her second career tour singles final, taking out Madison Keys, Zarina Diyas, Kristina Mladenovic and Marina Erakovic before losing the three-set final to Svetlana Kuznetsova. Nara also reached the doubles final with 23-year old countrywoman Hiroko Kuwata. Kuwata, the world singles #200, had earlier defeated Alison Riske in her tour main draw debut. Kuwata/Nara lost the doubles final to Japan's Shuko Aoyama (w/ Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski), the 26-year old who claimed her third straight Washington title. In Stanford, another Japanese newcomer, 16-year old world #406 Naomi Osaka, a qualifier, upset former U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur in the 1st Round, saving match point and claiming a three-set win in her tour main draw debut.
=============================
VETERANS: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS & Emma Laine/FIN

...you never know which Sveta you're going to get, but "the good one" showed up in Washington, D.C. and walked away with her first title in four years ('10 San Diego). The 29-year old Russian got wins over Polona Hercog, Kirsten Flipkens and Ekaterina Makarova to reach the final. After having blown a 4-1 3rd set lead in the Oeiras final against Carla Suarez-Navarro earlier this year, Kuznetsova had to fight against squandering another lead in the D.C. decider against Kurumi Nara. She led 6-3/3-1 but was forced to a 3rd. Finally, though, the two-time slam champ came through down the stretch, saving a break point in the ninth game of the 3rd, holding to take a 5-4 lead in a break-free set. Break-free, that is, until the Hordette broke Nara a game later to secure the title, the 14th in her career. On the ITF circuit, veteran Fin Emma Laine, 28, continued her resurgence. Earlier this year, the former top 50 player (2006) assumed the role of playing captain of Finland's Fed Cup team after having not played a FC match in two years and coming in barely in the WTA Top 1000 after playing just three pro singles matches in 2012-13. Laine went 5-1 in singles/doubles pool play in a near-miss loss in a promotional playoff vs. Georgia. In March, she won her first ITF singles title since 2010. This weekend in the $10K challenger in Savitaipale, Finland, Laine won her second title of '14, taking a 6-0 3rd set in the final against Greece's Maria Sakkari, the 19-year old who was playing in her circuit-best eighth final of the season. It's Laine's ninth career ITF singles win, and she's now up to #786 in the new rankings.
=============================
COMEBACK: Andrea Petkovic/GER
...Petko, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open back in '11 before injuries dragged her down the rankings, continued to post new chapters in one of the 2014 season's best stories, reaching her fourth semifinal (she's gone on to win two titles) after notching victories over Ajla Tomljanovic, Stosur conqueror Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams.
=============================
FRESH FACES: Sachia Vickery/USA & Denisa Allertova/CZE
...ah, a Backspin rarity: Vickery wins a share of this award for the second straight week for her results in a single tournament. A week ago, the 19-year old was honored after qualifying in Stanford with a final Q-round win over former Stanford champ (2008) Aleksandra Wozniak. This time time it's for her main draw victories over a pair of past WTA singles champions, Zhang Shuai and Monica Puig, en route to reaching her first career WTA quarterfinal. Meanwhile, 21-year old Czech Allertova continues to make hay on the ITF circuit. The Maiden claimed her ITF-leading sixth season title at a $10K in Plzen, CZE, defeating Ukrainian Anastasia Vasylyeva in the final to lift her career circuit record in finals to 10-3. She's up to a new career high of #172 this week.
=============================
DOWN: Samantha Stosur/AUS & Victoria Azarenka/BLR
...the former slam champs were rudely welcomed, in very different fashions, to the '14 North American hard court season in Stanford. Stosur was bounced in the 1st Round by 16-year old qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan, the world #406, who was making her tour debut. Stosur held a match point in the 2nd set tie-break, and served for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd. Oddly enough, Stosur's long-awaited first tour title came IN Osaka, Japan in 2009. Go figure. Azarenka opened her U.S. Open Series with a 2nd Round straight sets loss to Venus Williams. That wasn't a big surprise, really, but the result puts an end to Vika's tour-best run of 200 straight weeks in the Top 10. She drops down to #11 in the new rankings, as Maria Sharapova takes over as the current active Top 10 streak leader, with 175 weeks.
=============================
ITF PLAYER: Jarmila Gajdosova/AUS
...the 27-year old Aussie won the second $100K ITF challenger of her career, adding a title run in Vancouver to the one she had in Taipei in 2008 (she's since won a pair of WTA singles crowns in 2010-11). Wins over Grace Min, Madison Brengle and Lesia Tsurenko in a 3rd set tie-break in the final gives Gajdosova a 14-4 mark in ITF singles title deciders.
=============================
JUNIOR STAR: Olga Fridman/UKR
...the 15-year old Ukrainian, the #18-ranked junior in the world (#1068 on the WTA computer), claimed her first pro singles title in the $10K challenger in Istanbul. Fridman began her '14 season on a junior circuit tear, stringing together sixteen straight wins at one point during a 21-1 start (26-1 going back to November) that saw her win three Grade 1 titles in the opening month while reaching four straight finals. In Turkey, qualifier Fridman defeated China's Ye Quiyu, 16, in the final.
=============================


1. Stanford 1st Rd. - Osaka d. Stosur
...4-6/7-6(6)/7-5.
"The Road to Osaka" used to mean something so different to Stosur.
=============================

2. Stanford 1st Rd. - Ivanovic d. Lisicki
...7-6(2)/6-1.
Still, the headline here involved Lisicki, as the German set the WTA serving record with a 131 mph bullet. Venus Williams had held the official record (128 mph in the '07 U.S. Open), while Brenda Schultz-McCarthy ('06 Cincinnati) held the "unofficial" mark in a qualifying match.

Still, AnaIvo got the last laugh. Not only did she win here, but her QF result was enough to lift her back into the Top 10 for the first time since her '08 Roland Garros title points fell off in June '09.
=============================
3. Stanford SF - Kerber d. Lepchenko
...4-6/7-6(4)/6-2.
Kerber saved MP in the 2nd set before going on to win a 2:40 Saturday evening match, then couldn't replicate her performance in the afternoon on Sunday. Considering her Wimbledon fate, the German is having really "poor luck" when it comes to late tournament match schedules.
=============================
4. Wash DC 1st Rd. - Rogers d. Cornet 7-5/4-6/6-4
Wash DC 1st Rd. - Nara d. Keys 7-5/6-3
....
so much for that Keys/Cornet rematch.
=============================
5. Wash DC 1st Rd. - McHale d. Stephens
...6-4/4-6/6-0.
Different coach, same result. Thomas Hogstedt...watch your back.
=============================
6. Wash DC Doubles QF - Rae/Smith d. Black/Mirza 6-4/6-3
Wash DC Doubles SF - Kuwata/Nara d. Rae/Smith 6-1/1-6/12-10
...
the Brits are still getting it done, pulling off a big upset and nearly going even deeper in the draw, as they held a MP at 10-9 in the match tie-break against the Japanese pair.
=============================
7. Stanford 1st Rd. - Zhao d. Wickmayer
...6-2/1-0 ret.
Hey, it doesn't matter how exactly it came about. It's still the Canadian's first MD WTA win.
=============================
8. Wash DC 1st Rd. - Mladenovic d. Safarova
...2-6/6-3/6-3.
Mladenovic Magic was alive and well in D.C. ...for a while. The Pastry eventually lost in the QF to Nara.
=============================
9. Stanford 1st Rd. - Davis d. Peng 1-6/6-4/6-2
Montreal Q1: Rogers d. Peng 6-1/6-3
...
the Chinese vet hasn't exactly carried over her momentum after winning that WTA $125K Challenger Series crown.
=============================
10. $10K Copenhagen Final - Mai Grage/DEN d. Karen Barbat/DEN
...6-4/7-5.
The 22-year old Dane wins her first ITF title. Meanwhile, the 24-year old Dane announced her plan to run her first New York City Marathon.

=============================
HM- $10K Rovereto Final - Laura Pous Tio/ESP d. Lisa Sabino/SUI
...6-2/4-6/6-1.
The 29-year old Spaniard has grabbed five ITF singles this season, just one off the circuit lead.
=============================


1. Stanford Final - Serena Williams d. Kerber
...7-6(1)/6-3.
Kerber led 5-1 and held two set points in the 1st, but her eventual loss, her fifth straight in WTA finals, dropped her to 0-4 in finals this season and to 3-9 for her career.
=============================

2. Stanford 2nd Rd. - Venus Williams d. Azarenka
...6-4/7-6(1).
The scoreline wasn't the shocking thing in this one. Yeah, it's the outfit. (Said in the same sort of tone as the final line in that AT&T ad.)

=============================
3. Stanford QF - S.Williams d. Ivanovic
...2-6/6-3/7-5.
One of Serena's typical Stanford rollercoasters. She fell behind 5-1 en route to losing the 1st set, then grabbed a 4-2 lead in the 2nd as AnaIvo called a trainer to tend to her hip. Williams led 3-1 in the 3rd, only to see Ivanovic soon take a 4-3 lead. If Serena had lost, headlines would have been made. But she held on to win for the sixth time in seven tries against the Serb, quite possibly sending herself off on a successful North American hard court campaign.
=============================
4. Stanford 2nd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Karolina Pliskova
...7-5/6-2.
Another case of, all together now... "sister-on-sister crime." Such a pity.
=============================
5. Stanford 2nd Rd. - Lepchenko d. Aga Radwanska
...6-3/3-6/6-4.
Aga's evil eye is becoming less and less lethal all the time.

=============================





...umm, or not. Seriously, I didn't think Nike could come up with an outfit that suited Vika worse than that THING she wore at last year's U.S. Open. But I may stand corrected. Just goes to show, I guess, that there are "good" shorts and "bad" shorts, with the latter looking like the person wearing them might have raided her dad's clothes hamper because there was nothing clean in her own.


Meanwhile, Cheesecake Factory break:


Which means, the latest issue of the Polish version of Shape magazine might come in handy:




**2014 WTA TITLES**
4 - SERENA WILLIAMS, USA
3 - Maria Sharapova, RUS
3 - Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2 - Li Na, CHN
2 - Simona Halep, ROU
2 - Andrea Petkovic, GER

**2014 WTA FINALS**
4...SERENA WILLIAMS (4-0)
4...Ana Ivanovic (3-1)
4...Simona Halep (2-2)
4...ANGELIQUE KERBER (0-4)
3...Li Na (2-1)
3...Maria Sharapova (3-0)
3...Dominika Cibulkova (1-2)
3...Klara Koukalova (1-2)

**ALL-TIME WEEKS AS WTA #1**
377...Steffi Graf
331...Martina Navratilova
260...Chris Evert
209...Martina Hingis
200...SERENA WILLIAMS
178...Monica Seles
117...Justine Henin

**2014 SINGLES/DOUBLES FINALS AT EVENT**
Hobart = Klara Koukalova, CZE (L/W)
Bogota = Caroline Garcia, FRA (W/W)
Marrakech = Romina Oprandi, SUI (L/W)
Rome = Sara Errani, ITA (L/L)
Nurnberg = Karolina Pliskova, CZE (L/W)
Washington DC = KURUMI NARA, JPN (L/L)

**2014 WTA CHAMPIONS - LONGEST TITLE DROUGHTS**
8yr,5m,1w - Klara Koukalova, Florianopolis [Portoroz '05]
4yr - SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA, Wash.D.C. [San Diego '10]
3yr,11m - Flavia Pennetta, I.W. [Marbella '10]
3yr,7m,2w - Ekaterina Makarova, Paris [Eastbourne '10]

**CAREER WTA TITLES - ACTIVE**
61 - SERENA WILLIAMS (2014: 4)
45 - Venus Williams (1)
32 - Maria Sharapova (3)
22 - Caroline Wozniacki (1)
17 - Victoria Azarenka (-)
14 - Ana Ivanovic (3)
14 - SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (1)

**ALL-TIME RUSSIAN TITLES**
32...Maria Sharapova (2003-14)
16...Elena Dementieva (2003-10)
14...SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (2002-14)
13...Nadia Petrova (2005-12)
12...Vera Zvonareva (2003-11)
12...Dinara Safina (2002-09)
10...Anastasia Myskina (1999-05)

Now, the tour comes to Canada. And, predicably, you-know-who is everywhere...




Also, the Montreal-invading Genie Army debuted a new fight song:





MONTREAL, QUEBEC CAN (Premier 5 $2.44m/HCO)
13 Toronto Final: S.Williams d. Cirstea
12 Montreal Final: Kvitova d. Li
13 Toronto Doubles Final: Jankovic/Srebotnik d. Groenefeld/Peschke
12 Montreal Doubles Final: Jans-Ignacik/Mladenovic d. Petrova/Srebotnik
14 Top Seeds: S.Williams/Kvitova
=============================

=QF=
#1 S.Williams d. #5 Bouchard
#4 Sharapova d. V.Williams
#8 Azarenka d. Keys
#9 Ivanovic d. #2 Kvitova
=SF=
#1 S.Williams d. #4 Sharapova
#9 Ivanovic d. #8 Azarenka
=FINAL=
#1 S.Williams d. #9 Ivanovic

...it's still a no-slam zone, so it's a good bet to pick Serena again. Of course, if the Inside-Out Keys Reverse Curse (thanks, Diane!) comes about, I guess Team Madison would be scheduled for a celebration a week from now, huh? Hmm, maybe not... but I picked her as far as a could, though I guess I could have pushed her into the final four.

Of course, Montreal is where we'll get our first look at a post-Wimbledon Petra, Take Two, as well. Let's hope it'll be better than the original after-SW19 version from three years ago. If not, well, Kvitova can catch up on her reading...



...and maybe hope that Li has a SECOND book in her. Unfortunately, the AO champ will have some free time on her hands, as a knee injury led to her announcement last week that she'll miss the U.S. Open. Sigh. Melbourne seems so long ago now, doesn't it?


All for now.

35 Comments:

Blogger Zidane said...

Kvitova is also an unofficial defending champion, being the last woman to win in Montréal. (The tournament's promotion likes to play with having 2 defending champions with Toronto and Montréal switching every year. Looking at the results, it does make sense. For instance, while Serena won 3 times in Toronto, she never did in Montréal. Similar results for Federer on the men's side.)

Mon Aug 04, 06:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, good point. I'll add that. ;)

Mon Aug 04, 06:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Funny how it worked out that Kvitova's Wimbledon win ended up lifting her above Radwanska in the rankings, meaning she got the #2 seed this week, so both the most recent Toronto and Montreal champs are the top two seeds. :)

Mon Aug 04, 06:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I thought the shorts were fine...I didn't like the top.

Tue Aug 05, 12:37:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I liked the idea of the outfit, but didn't like the outfit. At least, not on Vika. But I do like those "old school" looks. I think you have to be able to pull them off, though. That just looked too "summer camp" for me.

Tue Aug 05, 09:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

First off, at least they're finally giving her shorts to wear. But I think it's just the color of the shorts that defeat the purpose of them. It makes them look like someone took men's dress slacks and made shorts out of them, I think.

Why Nike doesn't "get" that Azarenka's style should be more "athletic attire" is a mystery, rather than things like the dress from last summer or some attempt to be "fancier" on top, then "athletic" with the shorts on the bottom. That top I could see being a good fit with quite a few players (Kirilenko, just because of the collar, maybe Hantuchova). And why she's continually given grey clothes to wear is puzzling.

That said, not surprisingly, what Venus is wearing in that photo w/ Vika just looks so naturally good on her.



Tue Aug 05, 12:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Remember when Lascoste used to put Stosur in something that looked like a potato sack with a crocodile logo? (Don't even get me started on Andy Rddick wearing his Lacoste shirts one size too large and totally ruining the cut.)

It amazes me that both the manufacturers' reps and the players permit this type of "bad look" when it isn't that hard to get a nice one.

Tue Aug 05, 12:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hard to forget! (I think I even remember calling it a potato sack! Ha!)

Actually, I was going to say that Stosur's body type (not thin, not naturally larger like Serena... but, I don't know, more "square," for lack of a better word), while more muscled, is actually fairly close to Azarenka's, and they both are better served with outfits that take note of that.

Someone should just go back to the blue tank top/white shorts look she had when she won the first AO, then update and work forward from that. It'd be her signature. Can't see how it benefits either to have people making unfavorable comments about both Nike and Vika during the Open just because of how ill-fitting and totally not-for-her her clothing might be.

Tue Aug 05, 01:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Whew! Genie Bouchard was pretty "Sloaney" against Shelby Rogers, losing in her first match in her home tournament 0-6/6-2/0-6!

Tue Aug 05, 10:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Totally surprised by Genie... did she combust? too much pressure? or Rogers played out of her mind (at the Rogers Cup, no less).

------

I think Stosur should take tips from Elena Dementieva. I feel like they both have very athletic builds and Dementieva ended her career with a string of great outfits.

I think the reason why Nike doesn't get Vika's look is because Vika doesn't make a big deal out of her look. Vika's focus is not on things like that, unlike Serena and Maria, who actively pursue things like "style icon." (THis is my thinking. I've never read anything to support this claim.)

It could also have to do with pull. Serena and Maria probably have a lot more pull with Nike than Vika. But Todd, you're right. If they were smart, they would build an edgier, "jock-y" line for Vika to wear and maybe attract a different crowd.

Wed Aug 06, 02:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

At this point, Nike probably isn't going to do anything specifically for Azarenka (didn't happen when she was #1, after all), but since they tend to dress large numbers of the players they're associated with in identical clothes, you'd think they'd have a line of more "athletic" outfits for their players who'd be a better fitter with that style.

Of course, that's sort of like thinking someday the U.S. gov't would pull its head out of you know where, though. Neither "fantasy scenario" is very likely. ;)

Wed Aug 06, 11:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I saw a clip of Bouchard/Rogers...Genie was rusty...but I think what was striking to me is when I've seen her play earlier this year it's always with intent. It's like she's on a mission. She was kind of lackadaisical in the match. I mean who can blame her -- she's had a great year...but I figured she would have set the Rogers Cup as a primary goal for her season.

I had never seen Shelby Rogers play. Girl has power...and a nice attitude. Very nose to the grindstone. Her expression and elation after she won was nice.

Wed Aug 06, 01:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Shelby used to live a mile from the Family Circle Tennis Center. In 2010, she won the wild card challenge and got a spot in the qualifying draw, then lost to McHale in the first round (of qualifying). She was good, though, and she stuck around because it was her home.

There was a doubles withdrawal one night, so Shelby played in an exhibition match with Patty Schnyder, the Queen of Charleston. It was a lot of fun, and probably pretty thrilling for Shelby. I remember how nice Patty was to her. From the standpoint of the crowd, there couldn't have been a more popular doubles team.

I'm glad to see Shelby doing so well.

Wed Aug 06, 10:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

TOdd,

If Serena is able to be the title leader of the tour again in 2014, but doesn't end up winning a slam, would you put Sharapova as player of the year?

Would Serena even be year end #1 without a slam?

By the end of the year, the person leading the race to YEC becomes #1, right?

IN 2012, was Serena the leader of the race? but not #1? Is Maria in the same boat now?

Wed Aug 06, 11:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Wait, so the tournament already broke their attendance record in the first round? That's crazy.

“As for the tournament, it’s already a major success this year, thanks to the vibes she brought and all the fantastic results she had before the tournament. We have already broken the record of 175,000 spectators (for a one-week tournament). Now it will be up to the other great world players to make the show.”

Am I reading this wrong?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/more-sports/bouchard-knocked-out-in-rogers-cup-shocker/article19927407/

--------

Oh I forgot that Venus defeating APav is a good result for her. I remember when APav beat her twice in a row a few years back when Venus was playing her top ball. Too bad both players have fallen off since then.

Thu Aug 07, 12:08:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Eric - Attendance includes tickets already sold for the upcoming days. At this stage, the semifinal and final matches are probably sold out or not far. Don't expect the attendance number to increase that much from what it is now. Also, the promotion around Bouchard has been pretty intense. Magazines, TV commercials, metro ads, newspaper headlines, social media, Bouchard was everywhere the week before her match.

Staying in attendance statistics: as a matter of comparison, unless things have changed in the last couple of years with all these changes in the WTA, the Rogers Cup is the tournament in its category that gathers the biggest attendance, men and women. And men for men, women for women, Montréal always does a bit better than Toronto, with a bigger gap between the two cities for women than for men.

I am curious to know the official attendance at the end of the week. All this craziness around Bouchard might have created a first: more attendance for women than for men.

Thu Aug 07, 07:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks Zidane! I was clearly not thinking in the right vein.

When you say "tournament in its category" you mean Premier 5? SO you're comparing attendance against Doha/Dubai/Rome/Cincinatti/Tokyo? And the Rogers Cup has more people attend in total (men and women) than the other tournaments in the same category?

That's amazing.

Thu Aug 07, 10:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Zidane said...

Back when they were called Tier I, the Rogers Cup was the non-Indian Wells/Miami Tier I that gathered the most attendance, with a good margin. Idem with Masters on the men's side.

But that info might not be up to date, with tournaments of equivalent importance being held in new cities (Shanghai? although matches in Shanghai I've watched had many empty seats) and other tournaments that might have improved their attendance. I haven't looked this info for many years.

Thu Aug 07, 12:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Yes, I think tournaments in Shanghai haven't done well in terms of attendance. Something to do with the tournament being located a ways away from the city proper...and there not being convenient modes of public transit to the site.

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Coco Vandeweghe's game reminds me of Andy Roddick so much. Her service motion. Her fiery temperament. Even her "C'mon!" sounds the same. Same pitch and timbre.

Her attitude reminds me of Lindsay Davenport.

Thu Aug 07, 12:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I feel like the American girls finally have players besides The Sisters that can stay in the top50 easily -- Sloane Stephens, Maidson Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, and Jamie Hampton.

Shelby Rogers and Jamie Hampton have Top50 talent, too.

And then there's the Gritty Group: Lauren Davis, Christina McHale, Vania King, Varvara Lepchenko, Melanie Oudin, Irina Falconi, BMS. When their bodies are healthy, they are also top50 players.

Not sure where Alison Riske and Irina Falconi fall. I've never seen them play before. Also Victoria Duval, Anna Tatishvili, Grace Min, Sachia Vickery, Allie Kiick.

Also not sure about the college group: Madison Brengle, Nicole Gibbs.

Speaking of the college group: Whatever happened to Mallory Burdette. She was good.

---

I really think this might be the best top50 (overall) ever. The quality of the "average" player just keeps improving by leaps and bounds.

Thu Aug 07, 01:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Well Rogewrs have to wait a year. It seems that bakery products are in at Caro's - another impressive win 61 61. That gives a total of 4 time 61 and 1 time 60 in three matches - you're coming back Caroline better than ever. Hope you're watching the match.

Thu Aug 07, 01:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Sorry for the misprints - it should have been 61 60 ;)

Thu Aug 07, 01:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Leif, I love it when you talk about baked goods. :) Glad your girl is doing well!

Thu Aug 07, 03:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Eric-

Sorry, didn't see that comment way up there before now. :)

It DOES seem impossible that Serena could lose the #1 ranking at the end of the year w/o winning the Open, especially to, say, Sharapova, who is several thousand points behind her in the rankings. But, while not exact (since the computer rankings only take into account a set total of tournament point totals, while the Race counts them all), generally the Points Race leader is going to be the year-end #1. So Serena (current #4 in the PR) could surely fall out, if not to Sharapova, maybe someone like Halep, especially if Halep reached the final or won in NYC while Williams went out early again.

Serena still has four large tournament point totals to defend -- this week's Rogers Cup, the US Open, Beijing and the Tour Championships, while Sharapova, for example, has zero points to defend since she missed the last half of '13 with the shoulder.

If Serena doesn't defend or replace most of the those points, the 4Q could get interesting as far as year-end #1.

As far as my Ms.Backspin/POW race, this is shaping up to be "one of those years" where it could be anyone, and I might be "unconventional," as I have a few times in the past when picking a doubles or FC team. So far, there have been three different slam winners, six different slam finalists, the points leader isn't ranked in the Top 5, and the tour leader in titles hasn't reached the second week at a slam.

In the last "Ms.B" listing, I did have Sharapova on top. Li's lackluster year after the AO rules her out, and it'd be hard to give it to Serena even if she won the Open because she's graded on her slam results and 75% (at least) have already been pretty atrocious. Right now, I'd put Sharapova in the lead, with Halep lingering in the weeds, along with "unconventional" picks like Errani/Vinci, possibly Hsieh/Peng, the Fed Cup champs, Bouchard if she happened to win in Flushing Meadows, and, still with an outside shot, Kvitova.

Remember, in 2011, Petra won Wimbledon and then filled a vacuum in the final half of the season, taking the Tour Championships and leading the Czechs to the FC title and stealing away with "Ms.B". That same scenario could still play out and she'd get her second "Ms. Backspin" honor. It's a longshot, but not impossible. ;)

Thu Aug 07, 03:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Suarez-Navarro d. Sharapova 6-2/4-6/6-2
Makarova d. Kvitova 6-4/1-6/6-2

...not doing themselves any POW favors ;)

Thu Aug 07, 07:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

LOL! I would say that Serena has an outside shot, too... but I will refrain from listing specifics lest I invoke...that which shall not be named...

----

I think the race also only counts the top 16 results during the year. And I think Sharapova could get 3 or 4k points easily with a couple deep runs this summer. And this all depends on how well Serena defends her points. She seems more determined and calmer now. I really do feel like her troubles with Patrick earlier this year colored her year a lot. And then all the pressure.

So year-end #1 is probably between Sharapova, Halep, Serena.

---

Todd,

Bouchard isn't on the short list for POY?

Thu Aug 07, 07:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, meant that to be POY not POW up there. ;)

Yeah, Serena won't be "Ms.B," not with her being this far into the season and not really having resembled anything close to a POY candidate even with her four title. As I said, her standards are just different. If she won the tour's award, too, I think it'd be more than a bogus selection. Sort of like Errani/Vinci being the tour's "official" Doubles Team of the Year last season when it really should have been Hsieh/Peng, no matter which team was year-end #1.

I checked and you're right about the Race using the top 16 results. Just goes to show how little I pay attention to the Race during the season, since really all it does to qualify players for the Tour Championships. Yeah, with her big lead, #1 is Serena's to lose as long as she defends a good chunk of her points. Would really love to see Halep make a run, and since she'll be #2 next week she's in decent position to do it.

I did list Bouchard in my POY short list if you go back and look, but she'd only be a serious contender if she won the U.S. Open.

In the end, as far as "Ms.B," I don't even care about the year-end rankings. Sharapova could finish between #3-5 (or maybe even a little lower) and she'd still have a shot at my POY based on how things have gone through 31 weeks of a 40-something week season, especially if the outperforms the other POY contenders at the Open, whether she won the title or not. But there are still a lot of weeks left and there's been no dominant player, so there's room for a few to put a POY-spin on their season.

Still think Errani & Vinci have a real good shot to sneak in and win it, though, since I'm not sure I'll be able to really rank any single player above everyone once the end of the season gets here.

Thu Aug 07, 11:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Caroline Wozniacki looks tremendously fit.

I'm glad she's ditching her one-piece Stella dresses. I like the shorts.

Sat Aug 09, 12:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Overall, I think Caroline is playing more aggressive tennis...and her serve is much better...her serve placement is an underrated part of her game...but her forehand doesn't have enough penetration and it lands short and sits up. She also tends to block it back sometimes on the run. She does take powerful cuts at her forehand when she has time, so that's a plus.

Her champions spirit is still a lethal weapon.

-------

Serena's backhand is still very unreliable.

Sat Aug 09, 12:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Well said Eric. SO Wozniacki 2.0 is a factor you've to deal with. Hope she'll have a nice return to top 10 - she deserves it.

Sat Aug 09, 01:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I think POW was a spot-on Freudian slip :)

Sat Aug 09, 11:17:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So true, Diane. So true. :)

Hmmm, Serena vs. Venus only minutes away. Sort of forgotten what that feels like after so few match-ups in recent seasons.

Wouldn't it be great if Venus could push through deep into the second week at the Open, too?

Sat Aug 09, 01:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

How can every single tournament be voted player's favorite?

Indian Wells, Bastad, Montreal, some of the European clay tournaments...

It this posted anywhere? I feel like in teh same year, I'll hear this statement multiple times. What are the criteria even? Are tournaments from different categories compared against each other? Bc Bastad would have fewer players than Indian Wells.

Sat Aug 09, 02:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Leif, I think Caroline uses her forehand variety well, too. I know she gets crap for hitting moon balls sometimes, but she's using them more at appropriate times and SO MANY players have an issue with the change of pace.

If not for her forehand sitting up, it would be ok, too. But when it sits up, the big hitters just eat it up.

Sat Aug 09, 02:58:00 PM EDT  
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Sat Aug 16, 01:54:00 AM EDT  

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