Friday, September 12, 2014

3Q BSA's: 18 and Far From Over

"It is a pleasure for me to win my first Grand Slam here and then this #18. So I'm really emotional. I couldn't ask to do it at a better place." - Serena Williams, with her voice cracking, after winning the U.S. Open

*3Q Awards - Weeks 28-36*
1. Serena Williams, USA
...sure, she might have finished #1 anyway, but Serena "saved" her '14 season. Not with her two-title U.S. Open Series-winning run, but with her three-peat in Flushing Meadows. This season will still go down as one of Williams' least-intimidating displays, but grabbing career slam #3, U.S. Open crown #6 and running her winning streak in Queens to twenty-one matches (in the crosshairs in 2015: matching Chris Evert's four-peat from 1975-78) makes up for -- or at least comes close to it -- a whole host of season-long ills. As it is, she secures her fourth career year-end #1 ranking (fourth all-time, one behind Evert's five), a thirteenth Top 10 season (third, behind Martina Navratilova's 20 and Evert's 19) and the first-ever back-to-back USO Series + Open titles the past two years. Now... onward to (still more) history.

2. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
...the Dane turned what could have been an emotionally crushing summer into the battlefield for her own career redemption, as a renewed focus and a new gameplan decorated with aggressive tendencies made all those Wozniology-101 lectures worthwhile. All that followed was a title in Istanbul on the same weekend as you-know-who won the British Open, the best summer hard court record (19-4, with three losses to the world #1) of anyone not named Serena, three Top 10 wins, her own return to the Top 10 and a second appearance in the U.S. Open final.

3. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
...the best Hordette of the summer wasn't named Maria. After semifinal results in Washington and Montreal, Makarova finally managed to pull off back-to-back big slam victories (def. Bouchard & Azarenka) en route to her first major semifinal. The run raised her ranking to a career-best #15, and she left New York with her first U.S. Open women's doubles title, too.
4. Peng Shuai, CHN may not have ended well for Peng, who was wheeled off the court suffering from heat illness in her final match, but her summer was quite impressive. She's still without a tour-level singles title, but she's getting closer. She picked up a WTA $125K Challenger win in Nanchang, then capped things off with a terrific serve-holding run in Flushing Meadows as she became the third Chinese woman to reach a slam semifinal. It almost makes up for the disappointment of seeing her super-successful doubles pairing with longtime friend Hsieh Su-Wei -- which helped Peng become the first Chinese player to ever reach #1 -- come to an end.
5. Elena Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
...the all-Russian pair has been underperforming as a duo since since winning Roland Garros last season, but they made up for it with one sterling stretch in New York. Defeating the Williams Sisters BEFORE the semifinals (for the second time in '14), Makarova & Vesnina didn't allow themselves to peak too early and added a U.S. Open crown to their career column.
6. Aga Radwanska, POL
...once again, Radwanska's NYC results left a lot to be desired, but she finally grabbed her first title of '14 with a great run in Montreal, where she knocked off old Wimbledon '13 nemesis Sabine Lisicki, Vika Azarenka, soon-to-be Open semifinalist Makarova and Venus Williams in the final to claim her biggest crown in over two years.

7. Venus Williams, USA matter what happens next, during the summer of '14 Venus let it be know that she was still nowhere near the end, as she collected wins over three Top 10 players and returned to the Top 20. While she'll still have her "bad days," her good ones are becoming more plentiful as she better learns to deal with her Sjogren's condition. After taking eventual Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova to a 7-5 3rd set at the All-England Club, Williams came to North America and reached her biggest final in four years in Montreal, getting her first win over Serena since '09.
8. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
...with the demise of Hsieh/Peng, the Italians would seem to have a third straight season as the top-ranked doubles duo locked down. After completing a Career Doubles Slam at Wimbledon, the Italians played just three hard court events this summer. They had a disappointing early loss in New York, but only after picking up a big title in Montreal.

9. Washington Kastles
...led by Martina Hingis, the defending World Team Tennis champions came together for a fifth title in six seasons, and a record-tying (Sacramento Capitals, 1997-00) fourth straight title.

10 Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears, USA/USA
...the veteran American duo aren't the Bryan twins, but they shine their brightest on North American hard courts. A season ago, they put up wins in Stanford and Carlsbad. This time around, they won even bigger in Cincinnati, and threw in a Stanford SF and Montreal QF for good measure. At a career-tying best-ever co-ranking of #11, the duo stands ready to reach the year-ending WTA Finals for the first time (currently standing 5th in the Race to Singapore). With the field expanding to eight, they'd stand a good chance anyway, but with the end of the Hsieh/Peng pairing, Kops-Jones & Spears might rise into a Top 4 seed that would have been enough in the previous four-team field. "Moonlighting" in Flushing Meadows, Spears even put on a run to the Mixed Doubles final with Santiago Gonzalez.

11. Elina Svitolina, UKR
...the Ukrainian (then-) teen was on the leading edge of the WTA's NextGen title winners, taking her first career crown a year ago in Baku. She became the first to grab #2 this summer, defending her title to become the first teen with multiple titles since Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 2010, as well as winning her first WTA doubles title in Istanbul. In Cincinnati, Svitolina put up her first career Top 5 win, taking out SW19 champ Petra Kvitova. At #34, the only younger players ranked ahead of the now 20-year old (as of September 12) are Madison Keys and Belinda Bencic. Speaking of...
12. Belinda Bencic, SUI
...ranked one spot ahead of Svitolina, 17-year old Bencic emerged from her spring/summer mini-dip in results to become the one young breakout star to last deep into the second week at the U.S. Open. The New Swiss Miss notched two Top 10 wins in New York en route to her first slam quarterfinal. She's the youngest player ranked in the Top 100.

HM- Aleksandra Krunic, SRB
...a younger player lasted longer than the Serbian Good Luck Charm in New York, and she's still only now just breaking into the Top 100 (and she dropped her first post-Open match in Tashkent, too), but perhaps no player -- Serena included -- was as exciting in Flushing Meadows as the charm bracelet-sized 21-year old with the big shots, amazing wheels and heart as big as Serbia. After apprenticing under the likes of JJ and AnaIvo in Fed Cups past, a late coaching change brought out the offense in Krunic as she ran off three qualifying wins and three more in the main draw of the U.S. Open, upsetting Madison Keys, Petra Kvitova and very nearly two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka in a three-set Round of 16 battle. Hopefully, this won't be an Oudin-like flash, but the start of a something bigger than Krunic ever imagined for herself.

...the 20-year old from Japan has seized control of a wheelchair tour that no longer sports future Hall of Famer Esther Vergeer. Kamiji's sweep of the singles and doubles at the U.S. Open not only gives her a true Doubles Grand Slam with partner Jordanne Whiley this season, but her second singles slam means she's won six of the seven WC slam titles contested this season. The only one she failed to grab, the Australian Open singles, saw her playing into a 3rd set in the final. Bring on 2015...


"She's loyal and is fun to hang around. That's something that I think is very important in a friend." - Caroline Wozniacki, on Serena Williams, early in the 3Q

1. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
2. Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
3. Peng Shuai, CHN

4. Aga Radwanska, POL
5. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
6. Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
7. Garbine Muguruza & Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP/ESP
8. Coco Vandeweghe, USA
9. Camila Giorgi, ITA
10. Mona Barthel, GER
11. Kaia Kanepi, EST
12. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
13. Madison Keys, USA
14. Kurumi Nara, JPN
15. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
16. Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
17. Karolina Pliskova & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE/CZE
18. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
19. Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS
20. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
HM- Teliana Pereira, BRA

1. Elina Svitolina, UKR
2. Belinda Bencic, SUI
3. Aleksandra Krunic, SRB

4. Shelby Rogers, USA
5. Duan Yingying, CHN
6. Ana Konjuh, CRO
7. Zarina Diyas, KAZ
8. Jana Cepelova, SVK
9. Nicole Gibbs, USA
10. Zheng Saisai, CHN
11. Lauren Davis, USA
12. Taylor Townsend, USA
13. Wang Qiang, CHN
14. Maryna Zanevska, UKR
15. Ons Jabeur, TUN
16. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
17. Antonia Lottner, GER
18. Jana Fett, CRO
19. Sachia Vickery, USA
20. Gabriela Dabrowski, CAN
21. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
22. Barbara Haas, AUT
23. Carol Zhao, CAN
24. Victoria Rodriguez, MEX
25. Marcela Zacarius, MEX
HM- Annika Beck, GER

1. Cici Bellis, USA
2. Marie Bouzkova, CZE
3. Jamie Loeb, USA (North Carolina)
4. Francoise Abanda, CAN
5. Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
6. Danielle Collins, USA (Virginia)

7. Gabriela Elena Ruse, ROU
8. Caroline Dolehide, USA
9. Katerina Stewart, USA
10. Julia Elbaba, USA (Virginia)
11. Tornado Black, USA
12. Anna Kalinskaya, RUS
13. Xu Shilin, CHN
14. Iryna Shymanovich, BLR
15. Jil Belen Teichmann, SUI
16. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, ESP
17. Greetje Minnen, BEL
18. Ipek Soylu, TUR
19. Natalia Vikhlyantseva, RUS
20. Katie Boulter, GBR
21. Olga Fridman, UKR
22. Anna Bondar, HUN
23. Akvile Parazinskaite, LTU
24. Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
25. Usue Arconada, USA
HM- Kristie Ahn, USA (Stanford)


1. Jocelyn Rae & Anna Smith, GBR/GBR
2. Paula Kania, POL
3. Abigail Spears, USA
4. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR
5. Andreja Klepac, SLO
6. Chan Yung-Jan, TPE
7. Anna-Lena Friedsam, GER
8. Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
9. Misa Eguchi, JPN
10. Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
11. Nigina Abduraimova, UZB
12. Liu Fangzhou, CHN
13. Naomi Osaka, JPN
14. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
15. Hiroko Kuwata, JPN
HM- Zhang Ling, HKG

"People have been trying to retire me since I was, like, 25. For some reason in tennis, we always do that to our players, it's weird. We don't encourage them to stick around. It's like, 'get out of here.'" - Venus Williams

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Peng Shuai, CHN
3. Venus Williams, USA

4. Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
5. Sania Mirza, IND
6. Martina Hingis & Flavia Pennetta, SUI/ITA
7. Cara Black & Sania Mirza, ZIM/IND
8. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
9. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
10. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
11. Kimiko Date-Krumm & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, JPN/CZE
12. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
13. Roberta Vinci, ITA
14. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
15. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, CZE
16. Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
17. Lucie Safarova, CZE
18. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT
19. Anastasia Rodionova, AUS
20. Alla Kudryavtseva, RUS
21. Johanna Larsson, SWE
22. Emma Laine, FIN
23. Shuko Aoyama, JPN
24. Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
25. Varvara Lepchenko, USA
HM- Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA

"According to Kimiko, I have another decade." - Venus Williams

1. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO
3. Andrea Petkovic, GER
4. Heather Watson, GBR
5. Victoria Azarenka, BLR

6. Madison Brengle, USA
7. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
8. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP (singles/WTT)
9. Samantha Stosur, AUS
10. Urszula Radwanska, POL
HM- Melanie Oudin, USA

1. Maria Sharapova, RUS
2. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
3. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN

4. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
5. Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
6. Sloane Stephens, USA
7. Donna Vekic, CRO
8. Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
9. Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
10. Petra Kvitova, CZE
HM- Simona Halep, ROU


1. Denisa Allertova, CZE
2. Jocelyn Rae & Anna Smith, GBR/GBR
3. Laura Pous-Tio, ESP
4. Andreea Mitu, ROU
5. Patricia Maria Tig, ROU
6. Conny Perrin, SUI
7. Lara Arruabarrena, ESP
8. Quirine Lemoine, NED
9. Gabriela Pantuckova, CZE
10. Kristina Kucova, SVK
11. Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
12. Valeriya Strakhova, UKR
13. Maria Sakkari, GRE
14. Marta Sirotkina, RUS
15. Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
HM- Carina Witthoeft, GER

"I think everyone in general plays the match of their lives against me. So every time I step on the court, I have to always be a hundred times better. If I'm not, then I'm in trouble. If I'm not playing a great, great match, these girls when they play me, they play as if they're on the ATP Tour, and then they play other girls completely different. It's never easy being in my shoes." - Serena Williams


#1 - Serena Williams becomes the first woman in thirty-seven years to three-peat as the U.S. Open singles champion, defending her title without dropping a set
#2 - Caroline Wozniacki's summer redemption tour begins with a title in Istanbul, then ends with an appearance in the U.S. Open final

3 - Aga Radwanska wins in Montreal, her first title since last September and her biggest since 2012
#4 - Serena Williams wins her first Cincinnati title, claiming her second straight U.S. Open Series crown in the process
#5 - Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina defeat the Williams Sisters early, then go onto win their first U.S. Open doubles title

[non-title winning]
Aleksandra Krunic wins six straight matches at Flushing Meadows, qualifying and then reaching her first slam Round of 16 after upsetting Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova. She pushes Victoria Azarenka to three sets in the 4th Round.

Marie Bouzkova becomes first girl representing the Czech Republic to win the U.S. Open junior title


At the World Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Xu Shilin takes home the Gold Medal for the host Chinese, something that didn't happen when Beijing hosted the regular Olympics in 2008

World #1 Yui Kamiji wins the U.S. Open singles and doubles titles, adding two more '14 slams to her other slam wins (Wimbledon singles, and the doubles at the AO, RG and SW19) this season and coming within one match of a perfect record in the majors this season. Kamiji & Jordanne Whiley combined to win the Doubles Grand Slam.

[Mixed Doubles]
Sania Mirza wins her first U.S. Open Mixed Doubles title with Bruno Soares, moving her three-quarters of the way to a Career Mixed Slam. She needs only a Wimbledon crown to complete the set of trophies.


In the inaugural Bucharest Open in Romania, Swarmettes swept the titles. Simona Halep, in her best hard court result of the summer, took the singles, while Elena Bogdan & Alexandra Cadantu claimed the doubles.

[Comebacks Du Jour]

Andrea Petkovic wins the singles title in Bad Gastein, five years after she won her maiden tour title there in 2009
Svetlana Kuznetsova wins the Washington, D.C. title, her first singles win in four years

[Most Irrelevant Title, in retrospect?]
Petra Kvitova went 1-2 in North America after winning Wimbledon, then suddenly won four in a row to claim her second New Haven title in three years the week before the U.S. Open, as the other top-ranked players lost early and she was the only seed to reach the QF. Still, it seemed to provide a little hope for her in New York. But her run in Flushing Meadows ended in the 3rd Round at the hands of Aleksandra Krunic. Still, the Czech moved up to #3 in the rankings after the Open.

"I think the sport brings so many opportunities to women. It's brought me so many things in my life and my career. I don't regret any step I have taken. On one hand, sometimes I wake up and think, 'Well, I don't wish this on my kids!' But then when I'm playing the matches, I'm in front of thousands of people and the experience that the sport brings, I think, 'Of course I want my kinds to do this."" - Maria Sharapova

U.S. Open 4th Rd. - Victoria Azarenka d. Aleksandra Krunic
In the best women's match under the lights at this year's Open, world #145 Krunic's Cinderella run was finally brought to a close in a dramatic, momentum-shifting match chocked full of drop shots, defensive gets, lobs, fist pumps, full body thrusts, net cords and, for good or for bad, a "happy birthday" salute from Vika to Gael Monfils. In the end, the two-time finalist and former #1 Azarenka's experience won out, but the speedy Krunic's grit and surprising (maybe even to her) offensive firepower provided the fuel that made this one of those matches that will always make you smile when you think about it.
Cincinnati SF - Ana Ivanovic d. Maria Sharapova
AnaIvo led 6-2/4-0, but the ultra-competitive Sharapova's usual fight wrestled away the direction of the match. She took a 4-2 lead in the 3rd, served at 5-4 and held two match points. But back-to-back double-faults broke her own serve, and the Russian's expected 3rd set magic went with it in a match result that ultimately typified her less-than-successful '14 summer on the hard courts.
Cincinnati QF - Maria Sharapova d. Simona Halep
This rematch of the Roland Garros final had the same result as in Paris. Halep was up a break at 2-0 in both the 2nd and 3rd set, but still wasn't able to win either and grab her first win in five meetings with Sharapova.
U.S. Open 4th Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki d. Maria Sharapova
The Dane's newly-aggressive tactics pay off as Wozniacki is the latest -- and last -- to out-play Sharapova in a deciding 3rd set this summer.

Montreal SF - Venus Williams d. Serena Williams
In the Sisters' first meeting in Canada, Venus gets her first win over Serena since '09, losing serve only once thanks to a series of superior second serves. It was the only hard court match Serena lost all summer.

[1st Set]
U.S. Open 1st Round - Danielle Collins leads Simona Halep
...7-6 (2).
For one set, NCAA champ Collins looked ready to take down the #2-seed in Flushing Meadows in one of the biggest slam upsets in recent memory. But Halep stayed calm and figured one what she had to do to turn the tide. After scoring just two points in the 1st set tie-break, the Romanian lost just three total games in the 2nd and 3rd sets.

[The Quest is Complete]
U.S. Open 1st Round - Madison Brengle d. Julia Glushko
After twenty-seven failed attempts to qualify for a slam, including twenty-four straight, Brengle was mercifully given a wild card into this year's U.S. Open main draw. After being 0-4 in her previous 1st Round matches in majors, the Bannerette's 1st Round win over Glushko finally ended Brengle's ten-year quest to notch a victory at a major.

[Signs of Life... or not]
Cincinnati 2nd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Samantha Stosur 7-6(7)/7-6(7)
New Haven 1st Rd. - Samantha Stosur d. Kurumi Nara 7-6(5)/6-7(10)/6-2
U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Kaia Kanepi d. Samantha Stosur 3-6/6-3/7-6(8)
a tale of tie-breaks. After a mostly-miserable season, Stosur seemed to catch a breeze in her two tie-break loss to Serena in Cincinnati. In New Haven, in a another battle of tie-breaks, the Aussie overcame a 5-1 1st set deficit against Nara to take the lead. She then rebounded after failing to convert three MP in the 2nd set tie-break, losing 12-10, by taking the 3rd set en route to the semifinals. With her prospects for the Open looking up, Stosur... failed to convert two MP against Kanepi and lost in the 2nd Round in New York. Oh, Sam.

[To Choke or Not to Choke]
U.S. Open 2nd Rd. - Johanna Larsson d. Sloane Stephens
Others may have lost bigger leads than Stephens, who led 7-5/3-0, or failed to close out matches from a more advantageous position than Current Sloane's break lead at 2-0 in the 3rd. But that Stephens' 2014 slam campaign was closed out with yet another disappointing result, even after her second coaching change since the end of last season, is worth noting largely because unless the American can pull some unexpectedly huge result out of thin air in the 4Q, the player who was the talk of the tour a year and a half ago will have already (though it may still ultimately be temporary) become an afterthought in the eyes of the WTA by the time the 2015 season kicks off. Beware, Genie?


U.S. Open 1st Rd. - CiCi Bellis d. Dominika Cibulkova
The 15-year old wild card (ranked #1208) makes her tour debut a memorable one, taking down the #12-seeded, AO finalist to become the youngest player to win a U.S. Open main draw match since Anna Kournikova in 1996.
Stanford 1st Rd. - Naomi Osaka d. Samantha Stosur
Talk about coming full circle. In 2009, Stosur won her first tour title in Osaka, Japan. Five years later, the Aussie lost to Japan's Osaka -- a #406-ranked 16-year old making her tour debut -- after holding a MP in the 2nd set tie-break and serving for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd.
U.S. Open 3rd Rd. - Aleksandra Krunic d. Petra Kvitova
Once again, Kvitova proves that the bigger they are the harder they fall. In the sweltering heat of NYC, the wrung-out Czech is dispatched by the surprisingly powerful Serbian qualifier who never once showed an ounce of intimidation or fear concerning the prospect of sending the Wimbledon champ packing.

Montreal 2nd Rd. - Shelby Rogers d. Eugenie Bouchard
It's not that Rogers won the match that makes it a big upset, as the American had reached a final in Bad Gastein weeks earlier, it's that she served two bagels to the Canadian in front of her home crowd in an event that was catered to revolve around the recent Wimbledon finalist. Bouchard's summer improved a bit after this, and she reached the U.S. Open Round of 16. But, make no mistake, she'll have some "unfinished business" back in Quebec next August.

"Serena, you deserve it. You played better than me today and you deserve to be the champion. You are an inspiration on the court and off it. You're an unbelievable champion and a great friend and you definitely owe drinks later." - Caroline Wozniacki, after losing to Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final

All for now.


Blogger Eric said...

I hope that Sloane and Madison don't become the equivalent of Isner/Querrey...twin towers of disappointment.

Fri Sep 12, 11:05:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think Keys will be fine. Sloane, hmmm, I guess we'll see. It might take a while to find out, too.

Fri Sep 12, 05:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Krunic, back in her comfort zone. She's in the Tashkent doubles final, looking for her first WTA title.

Good luck... ;)

Fri Sep 12, 05:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I didn't want to be the one to say it. I don't necessarily think they're arguing...but I do think that they aren't as close as they used to be just as a function of them living their own lives. Venus wasn't at the final or at Serena's fashion show.

I do think that Venus wasn't too pleased by Wimbledon...and Serena really gave their doubles match away at the US Open, too.

I think Serena is really focused on Singles and Venus has her hopes set on doubles...

Obviously, this is all speculation...

Sat Sep 13, 07:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, certainly, it will be interesting down the line if Venus wants to focus on doubles and play into her late 30's or even beyond (see KDK). She mentioned earlier this year continuing to play doubles even if she stopped her singles, and that she wasn't necessarily wed to HAVING to only play with Serena. Her future path promises to be interesting.

Meanwhile, it's a little bit frustrating to pick five of six singles finalists correct this week, but not hit on any champion picks. And then the one predicted singles champion that didn't reach the final (Krunic) actually DID win the doubles title. Oh, me. ;)

Sun Sep 14, 02:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Me = Team Bracelet. :)

Sun Sep 14, 02:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And, of course, by "five of six" I meant "four of six." ;)

Sun Sep 14, 02:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Either way, I count that as a good week!

Sun Sep 14, 05:04:00 PM EDT  

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