Monday, November 10, 2014

Wk.45- One for All, and All for Three (in Four)

In the end, it was Petra and the Maidens. Again.

Fed Cup Fact #1: just three nations have won the last eleven FC titles, with the Czechs now just one championship behind the four-time winning Russian and Italian squads

Fed Cup Fact #2: the Czech Republic's three titles in four years run stands nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with the other stretches of FC dominance since the end of the U.S.'s Fed Cup dynasty (1976-82 champs) ended thirty-one years ago. The Russians won four of five crowns from 2004-08, the Spaniards took four of five from 1991-95 (three in a row from 1993-95), while Czechoslovakia won three straight from 1983-85. Another win in '15 and the current-day Czechs will have equaled or bettered them all.

World champions - Czech Republic!!!! Comoooon!!!! ?? ????????

A photo posted by Lucie Safarova (@lucie.safarova) on

Fed Cup Fact #3: Petra Kvitova's 2-0 mark this weekend in Prague gives her a career 23-6 mark in FC play. She's 21-3 indoors.

Fed Cup Fact #4: Martina is proud. And, really, that FC Fact is maybe the most significant of them all. She WAS 40-1 in Fed Cup singles & doubles play for her career, after all, with her only loss coming in doubles in 2004 in her final FC match. Navratilova was 47 years old at the time, having already been inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame four years earlier.

S: Czech Republic def. Germany 3-1
S: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS def. Chan Yung-Jan/TPE 1-6/6-2/6-4
D: HC.Chan/YJ.Chan (TPE/TPE) d. Chang/Chuang (CHN/TPE)

S: Tereza Smitkova/CZE def. Kristina Mladenovic/FRA 7-6(4)/7-5
D: Siniakova/Voracova (CZE/CZE) d. Babos/Mladenovic (HUN/FRA)

...while she'd had a huge -- majority? -- role in the Czech Republic's 2011 and '12 FC title runs, one thing Kvitova hadn't done was provide the singles win that clinched a championship. That changed this weekend when, after she (def. Petkovic) and Lucie Safarova (def. Kerber) had posted a 2-0 day on Saturday, Kvitova outlasted Kerber in a 2:57 marathon match on Sunday to lock away the title. Her place in Fed Cup lore, and probably Newport quite a few years in the future, are now secure.

Champagne shower!!!!! #czechfedcupteam #pojd

A photo posted by Petra Kvitova (@petra.kvitova) on

RISERS: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE & Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...Yung-Jan reached both the singles (her biggest since the WTA event in Bangkok in '07) and doubles finals at the WTA $125K Taipei challenger in her home nation, but it took some assistance from her younger sister Hao-Ching to take home a title. As a wild card in singles, Yung-Jan defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, Ekaterina Bychkova, Alla Kudryavtseva and #1-seeded Anna-Lena Friedsam before losing in three sets to Vitalia Diatchenko. In doubles, the siblings swept to the title without facing a break point in the final against Chang Kai-Chen & Chuang Jia-Ching. It's the Chan's first WTA $125K title as a duo (both have a second 125 title with other partners) after having claimed three on the ITF circuit during their careers, as well as a pair of tour-level WTA titles (including on the grass in Eastbourne earlier this year). For a while in Limoges, Mladenovic Magic was ruling the day. The Pastry reached both the singles and doubles finals at the WTA $125K challenger, putting up wins over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Maryna Zanevska, Yulia Putintseva and Oceane Dodin before falling to Tereza Smitkova in the final. If she'd won, Mladenovic would have become the very first two-time singles champion in the WTA 125 Series, having swept the titles at the inaugural tournament in the series in Taipei in October '12. She and Timea Babos, her most frequent doubles partner in '14 (eight pairings which produced four finals, but no titles), lost in the Limoges doubles final in a deciding match tie-break against Renata Voracova & Katerina Siniakova.


SURPRISES: Tereza Smitkova/CZE & Oceane Dodin/FRA
...Smitkova, 20, continues to make the case for herself being at the leading edge of the next generation of Czechs set to infiltrate the WTA tour, grabbing her biggest career singles title at the WTA $125K challenger in Limoges. Having qualified and reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon this summer, Smitkova put up wins last week over Urszula Radwanska, Alison Van Uytvanck, Lesia Tsurenko, Francesca Schiavone and Kristina Mladenovic in the final. The win jumped her ranking from #83 to a career-best #67. 18-year old Pastry Dodin has reached five ITF singles finals since May, winning three. In October, she lost in the $100K Poitiers final to Timea Babos. After getting a wild card into the WTA 125 in Limoges, she ran off victories over Pauline Parmentier, Katarzyna Piter and Ana Konjuh on her way to the SF. The result lifted her to a career-best #207. She's 38-11 for the season.
VETERANS: Lucie Safarova/CZE & Francesca Schiavone/ITA

...while it's generally known that, as far as the Czech Fed Cup team in concerned, its fate swirls around the "as Petra goes" mantra. But Safarova's recent success has provided the additional favor that has led to the current three-titles-in-four-years run of dominance. While Safarova was just 5-9 in FC play prior to 2012 (as Kvitova's first Wimbledon championship season was further fueled by her putting her countrywomen on her back and leading the Czech Republic to its first FC crown as an independent nation in '11), the team's success has fallen in line with Safarova's ever since. When she went 3-0 in singles in '12, the Czechs won title #2 as Lucie knocked off both JJ and AnaIvo in the final after an off-her-sick-bed Kvitova wasn't able to carry her usual load. Her 1-2 mark in '13 was part of a title-less campaign. She was 3-0 this year and -- what do you know? -- the Czechs picked up a third title. Safarova's Day 1 win over Kerber on Saturday put the Germans in a 2-0 hole that was essentially a death sentence in the tie, and her joining in on the celebration a day later puts a nice capper on a '14 season that has seen the Czech put up her second Top 20 finish in three years and reach her first career slam semifinal. Meanwhile, in Limoges, Schiavone proved that reports of her potential demise may be greatly exaggerated. She didn't win the title at the $125K challenger, but the 34-year old reached the semifinals after knocking off younger foes Alexandra Dulgheru, Anna Schmiedlova and Richel Hogenkamp.
COMEBACK: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS
...the Seles-admiring Hordette's comeback from a 2011 knee injury has progressed in leaps and bounds in '14. After suffering the injury at the Kremlin Cup in October '11, Diatchenko missed eight months of action, then played just five singles matches from 2012 to late '13 (focusing solely on doubles) before ending her 13-month singles absence by winning a $50K challenger title in December of last year, as she went from having no computer ranking to being inside the Top 500 in one fell swoop. Since then, her climb has been somewhat astounding. Over the course of '14, she's won three more ITF titles, including a $100K in July and a challenger crown in the city where IT all "began" for the Sochi-born Russian -- Moscow. She returned a month later, three years after her knee injury in the event, and reached her first WTA singles QF at this year's Kremlin Cup, notching her first career Top 50 win with a victory over Dominika Cibulkova to climb into the Top 100 for the first time. Last week, Diatchenko knocked off Melinda Czink, Duan Yingying, Luksika Kumkhum, Ana Bogdan and Chan Yung-Jan to claim her biggest title yet at the WTA $125K challenger in Taipei. She's now at a career-best #77 after having had no ranking at all on this date last year.

FRESH FACES: Katerina Siniakova/CZE & Anna-Lena Friedsam/GER
...18-year old Czech Siniakova continued her late season practice of knocking down career firsts. After taking her first tour doubles title in Tashkent, winning a pair of ITF singles crowns (she's 6-0 in career finals), and reaching her first tour-level singles semi in Moscow, Siniakova claimed her first WTA $125 Challenger doubles title in Limoges, teaming with Renata Voracova to defeat Timea Babos & Kristina Mladenovic in 10-6 match tie-break in the final. Friedsam, 20, has had a similar groundbreaking late summer/early fall run. She won the Suzhou $125K challenger that was held during the second week of the U.S. Open, and was a first-time tour semifinalist at Linz. In last week's Taipei 125, as the #1 seed, she notched wins over Shahar Peer and Ningo 125 champ Magda Linette on her way to the semis. Nestled in at #83 in the rankings, ALF is the seventh-ranked German, and the highest-ranked without a tour-level singles title. That detail could change in '15.
DOWN: Angelique Kerber/GER
...Kerber has had something of a hard luck season, reaching three singles finals but losing them all and just missing out on joining the field at the WTA Finals. Her one shining light had been her Fed Cup play, but after this weekend she's now 0-4 in 2014 finals. A 1st set-ending "hindrance" point in her first Fed Cup final match against Lucie Safarova was followed by twice being unable to hold a break advantage in the 2nd. Against Petra Kvitova on Sunday, trying to extend the tie, she led 5-2 in 1st, served for the set three times and held six set points. But she still dropped the set to concede the early advantage to the Czech. After taking the 2nd, she led 3-0 and 4-1 in the 3rd, but then failed to win another game.
ITF PLAYER: Evgeniya Rodina/RUS
...I suppose one could consider Phase One of Rodina's comeback now complete. The 25-year old Hordette, who as a teenager famously put the fear of the Tennis Gods in countrywoman Maria Sharapova in an 8-6 3rd set in the 1st Round of Roland Garros in '08, was a Top 100 player in 2011. After retiring with an injury in the Clearwater challenger in March '12, Rodina was away from the sport for fifteen months, during which she got married and had a child. She returned in August of last year with a ranking outside the Top 800, and has really kicked things into gear as '14 has moved along. Her final in the Sharm El Sheikh $25K event this weekend was her sixth of the season, and her victory over Laura Siegemund gives her four titles on the year (11 in her career). After beginning the season ranked #468, Rodina is now in the Top 150 at #148. All right... so Phase Two begins in 2015?
JUNIOR STARS: Dalma Galfi/HUN & Anhelina Kalinina/UKR
...Galfi, 16, claimed her second ITF title in as many weeks at another $10K challenger in Heraklion, defeating #5-seeded Greek Valentina Grammatikopoulou (she'd already defeated the #1 and #7 seeds at the event), and won her first career ITF doubles crown with Anna Bondar, too. 17-year old Kalinina, the U.S. Open girls singles runner-up (and Asian Games 4th place finisher and doubles Gold winner), reached the final at the $25K challenger in Equeurdreville-Hainneville, France. It was her fourth appearance in a challenger final over the past two years, though her retirement after seven games this weekend leaves her a 0-4 record in such matches.

What do former and current world #1's do when they're lounging by the pool in the offseason? Take competing POV bikini selfies, of course.

Life is good! #pooltime #nofilter

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

Oh, and they find time to skate...

And squeeze in a sprint triathlon in their spare time, too.

1. FC Final Match #3 - Kvitova d. Kerber
In one of more dramatic matches of the year, with the Czechs' FC title there for the taking in front of a partisan crowd, Kvitova battled against Kerber (and, naturally, herself on occasion) for 2:57 before finally clinching the title. Credit it to her 1st set comeback, when she came back from 5-2 down, saved six set points and survived the German serving three times for the set, which lasted 1:16. Kerber overcame a 3-0 deficit of her own in the 2nd to force a 3rd set, where she went up 3-0 and 4-1, but then saw the Czech cut into the lead and then surpass her down the stretch. After her fourth match point, it was finally over, and Petra's FC legacy tree grew yet another limb.
2. FC Final Match #1 - Kvitova d. Petkovic
Petkovic had slyly led Germany's charge to a first FC final since '92 by grabbing tone-setting Day 1 wins all year. It didn't happen against Kvitova, playing on indoor hard court and with the full force of a Czech crowd and her teammates behind her.
3. FC Final Match #2 - Safarova d. Kerber
Sometimes overlooked for her FC prowess during the Czech team's recent run, Safarova has been at her best in the final (especially in '12, when she took up the slack left unclaimed by an ill Kvitova to carry the day). She won a tight 1st which ended when she converted set point as the "hindrance rule" was enforced against Kerber when the German shouted, "Come on!," in celebration of a sure winner before the point was totally complete. In the 2nd, Safarova twice erased a break disadvantage. The loss put the Germans down 0-2, a deficit that had not -- and still hasn't -- ever been overcome in a FC final.
4. WTA $125K Limoges Final - Smitkova d. Mladenovic
There was so much Czech good will floating around this weekend, the Tennis Gods decided to bestow a bit of it on Smitkova, too.
WTA $125K Taipei 2nd Rd. - Linette d. Q.Wang 7-6(7)/6-3
WTA $125K Taipei QF - Friedsam d. Linette 7-6(0)/6-4
WTA $125K Taipei SF - YJ.Chan d. Friedsam 6-3/4-6/6-3
WTA $125K Taipei Final - Diatchenko d. YJ.Chan 1-6/6-2/6-4
Linette won again over Wang in a rematch of last weekend's Ningbo 125 final. Linette then fell to Friedsam, who lost to Chan, who was felled by Diatchenko in the Taipei final.
6. WTA $125K Limoges QF - Dodin d. Konjuh
The Croat's season ends here, after she'd put up nice wins over Annika Beck and Carina Witthoeft in France. She's the youngest player in the Top 100, and feels pretty good about it. As she should.

7. $25K Equeudreville-Hainneville FRA Final - Stephanie Foretz-Gacon d. Anhelina Kalinina
...5-2 ret.
The 33-year old Pastry's title is her fourth of '14, and ninth of her career.
8. $10K Casablanca Final - Ana Savic d. Valentina Kalikova
The 25-year old Croat takes her tenth career ITF crown, but her first since her comeback season on the circuit in '12.
9. $10K Oslo Final - Karen Barbat d. Cornelia Lister
So does THIS Dane run marathons or post oodles of pool-side pics on Instagram?
10. WTA $125K Taipei 1st Rd. - Tanasugarn d. Kozlova
37-year old Tammy made it through qualifying and got a main draw win.
11. $50K Captiva Island 2nd Rd. - Jennifer Brady d. Irina Falconi
Falconi lost early on to the 19-year old UCLA Bruin in South Carolina, but she claimed the USTA's three-event playoff for a wild card into next season's Australian Open. She's a little excited about it all.

12. $50K Captiva Island Final - Edina Gallovits-Hall d. Petra Martic
In a final delayed until Monday, 29-year old Romanian wild card EGH grabbed her first post-comeback title after additional wins last week over Michelle Larcher de Brito, Grace Min, Louisa Chirico and Jennifer Brady.
HM- USTA/ITA Nat'l Indoor Intercollegiate Chsp Final - Julia Elbaba (Virginia) d. Maegan Manasse (California)
The U-VA junior grabs her first NCAA major singles title, matching teammate Danielle Collins' win at the NCAA Championships last spring. Elbaba was the runner-up at the inaugural Billie Jean King Nationaal Collegiate Invitational -- losing to North Carolina's Jamie Loeb -- held at Flushing Meadows during the U.S. Open.


2015 will be here before you know it. Thus, preparations begin. Madison Keys will be working with Lindsay Davenport this offseason...

Laura Robson is seemingly preparing to test (surely) ONE of the All-England Club's policies...

I have purple hair! #yolo

A photo posted by Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) on

While Melanie Oudin is recovering after undergoing a heart procedure last week. Get well soon, Little MO!

1. WTA $125K Taipei Doubles Final - Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Chang/Chuang
This title doesn't count in the totals, but it should send a signal for 2015 to the Pliskovas, as the race to become the second-most winningest all-sisters doubles duo in WTA history IS ON. The Czechs currently have a second-best three titles, with two coming in '14; while the Chans have picked up two tour-level crowns, including one this season. Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko seperate the pairs on the list that includes only four multiple title-winning siblings. First place, of course, is quite far away, as the Williams Sisters have twenty-one tour wins.
2. $10K Oslo Doubles Final - Guarachi/Lodokova d. Maryna Kolb/Nadiya Kolb
For the second consecutive week, the Ukrainian Kolb sisters reach an ITF doubles final, but fail to take home their maiden crown as a duo. It'll come, though. Meanwhile, Nadiya also reached the QF in singles.

**FED CUP FINALS - since 2000**
2000 USA d. ESP 5-0
2001 BEL d. RUS 2-1
2002 SVK d. ESP 3-1
2003 FRA d. USA 4-1
2004 RUS d. FRA 3-2
2005 RUS d. FRA 3-2
2006 ITA d. BEL 3-2
2007 RUS d. ITA 4-0
2008 RUS d. ESP 4-0
2009 ITA d. USA 4-0
2010 ITA d. USA 3-1
2011 CZE d. RUS 3-2
2012 CZE d. SRB 3-1
2013 ITA d. RUS 4-0
2014 CZE d. GER 3-1
[most FC titles]
17...United States
3...Czech Republic
[recent FC title-clinching wins - singles]
2002 Janette Husarova, SVK
2003 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2012 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2013 Sara Errani, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE

2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE

**2014 WTA/WTA 125 CHAMPIONS - 20 or under**
17 - Donna Vekic
19 - Madison Keys, Elina Svitolina
20 - Annika Beck, Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Garcia, Garbine Muguruza, Monica Puig
[WTA 125]
20 - Anna-Lena Friedsam, Tereza Smitkova

Nan Chang - Peng Shuai, CHN (W)
Nan Chang - Liu Fangzhou, CHN (L)
Suzhou - Duan Yingying, CHN (L)
Ningbo - Wang Qiang, CHN (L)
Taipei - Chan Yung-Jan, TPE (L)
Limoges - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (L)

Hobart - Klara Zakopalova, 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, D.C. - Kurumi Nara, JPN (L/L)
Quebec City - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO (W/W)
Hong Kong - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (L/W)
[WTA 125]
Taipei - Chan Yung-Jan, TPE (L/W)
Limoges - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (L/L)

Chan Hao-Ching, TPE (2 WTA, 1 WTA 125)
Chan Yung-Jan, TPE (1 WTA, 1 WTA 125)
Chuang Chia-Jung, TPE (1 WTA, 2 WTA 125)
Olga Savchuk, UKR (1 WTA, 1 WTA 125)
Katerina Siniakova, CZE (1 WTA, 1 WTA 125)
Renata Voracova, CZE (1 WTA, 1 WTA 125)

4 - Polina Leykina
4 - Evgeniya Rodina
3 - Vitalia Diatchenko
3 - Elizaveta Kulichkova
2 - Natela Dzalamidze
2 - Darya Kasatkina
2 - Irina Khromacheva
2 - Ekaterina Lopes
2 - Anna Morgina
2 - Anastasia Rudakova

2007 Madison Brengle
2008 Madison Brengle
2009 Christina McHale
2010 Coco Vandeweghe
2011 Lauren Davis
2012 Madison Keys
2013 Madison Keys
2014 Sachia Vickery
2015 Irina Falconi
2007-14 Playoff Tournament winner; 2015 3-event USTA event points race

Sania can do glam, but she can do natural and workout-sweaty, too.

Back to work ??????

A photo posted by Sania Mirza (@mirzasaniar) on

Meanwhile, at the far end of Caro Corner...


A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

And, last but not least, Ms. Sharapova. With questions...

And anything but...

Vacation in one picture. I'll see you soon #Philippines #nofilter

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Up next, the Backspin Player Award Lists and, of course, the final "Ms.Backspin" countdown for 2014.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Both LSU and the Saints lost this past weekend. People were really upset about it. I was at the gym and some friends asked me if I was sad about the weekend. "Are you kidding?" I said. "The Czech Republic won Fed Cup!" MY team won :)

Mon Nov 10, 07:00:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


(Of course, I hope they didn't also say, "What's Fed Cup?") :)

Mon Nov 10, 08:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

They didn't! They're delightfully savvy about a lot of sports, even if they don't watch them.

That photo of Petra is maybe the best-ever photo of Petra.

Mon Nov 10, 08:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, Petra!!! :)

Mon Nov 10, 08:58:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, Li Na had her name removed from the rankings in the first week after the official end of the WTA season. The ripple effect: Cibulkova is now #10, with Makarova poised to possibly become the next Russian Top 10er in early '15. Muguruza is the seventh Spaniard in the Top 20.

Oh, and The Serbian Good Luck Charm moves from #101 to #100! So her week of "bad luck" has turned already turned good. ;)

Tue Nov 11, 05:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Seriously? Sharapova one of the WTA's nominees for Comeback Player of the Year? Yeah, she had the shoulder issue the back half of 2013, but she finished last year at #4.

If Lucic-Baroni doesn't win the award they should just shut the whole thing down, really.

Wed Nov 12, 02:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Also, how does Cornet at least not get a nomination for Most Improved Player?

Wed Nov 12, 02:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

And Petko for Comeback Player??

Wed Nov 12, 04:39:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Geez, yeah. I should have mentioned her (I AM doing the year-end lists, after all). I think she'd really be the only other legit alternative winner other than Lucic... and she's not even nominated.

A little surprised Wozniacki didn't get in there, considering Sharapova has to be there because it gets the voting a little extra attention. Caro would provide that, as well... and would probably be a better nominee than Maria, too.

Wed Nov 12, 05:28:00 PM EST  

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