Wk.10- The Bad, the Good and the Indian Wells
Hmmm, what's happened through two and a half rounds of action at Indian Wells? Well, some bad things... and some good.
The Bad: Indian Wells 2002-14
The Good: Indian Wells 2015: The Return
The Indian Wells: The future.
The Bad: In 2014, an injured Vika Azarenka valiantly-but-unwisely playing in Indian Wells getting blitzed 7-6/6-0 by Lauren Davis in her first match.
The Good: Vika returning in better form in 2015, with new coach Wim Fissette and hitting partner Sascha Bajin in tow, and showing good match toughness in turning around a 4-2 2nd set deficit to defeat Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets.
The Indian Wells: With a 4-2 record vs. Top 20 players this season, Azarenka will next face world #2 Maria Sharapova in their first meeting since the 2013 Roland Garros semifinals. Vika leads the career head-to-head 7-6.
The Bad: Hsieh/Mirza and Hingis/Pennetta go a combined 9-8 in 2015, with no titles.
The Good: Hingis/Mirza go 2-0 in the first week of action in the desert...
The Indian Wells: while Hsieh/Pennetta lose their only match.
The Bad: Bacsinszky can't play in Mexico forever, no matter how long she holds onto the great memories...
The Good: But Timea's Mexico memories are SO much fun...
The Indian Wells: Well, all good things must come to an... no, wait, maybe they DON'T! It looked like Bacsinszky's magic carpet ride was going to end in the 3rd Round against Ekaterina Makarova. She lost the 1st set, but then rallied to force a 3rd. She fell behind 4-2 there, but then surged back to win four straight games, breaking the suddenly error-prone Russian twice to extend her winning streak to fourteen matches. She's 9-1 in three-setters in 2015, and 20-2 overall.
As a reminder, my simple BACSINSZKY mnemonic device: Backhand And Clever Serving Imbue Newest Swiss Zenith's Killer Year!— Jonathan Kelley (@jokelley_tennis) March 15, 2015
The Bad: A tribute to Chrissie... but isn't that really Steffi?
The Good: So, what has the Frussian Pastry (Tatiana Golovin) been doing lately? Getting a meal... or becoming one?
The Indian Wells: Making sure no Sloane Stephens fan has a "Williams moment" to use against HER years from now? Just wondering.
The Bad: Well, you know...
"Sometimes you just wonder what goes through the mind of Sloane Stephens..." Rennae Stubbs— Diane Elayne Dees (@WomenWhoServe) March 12, 2015
The Good: A moment of sincere optimism...
The Indian Wells: Maybe Stephens should ask the tour to REALLY make Indian Wells a "fifth slam."
The Bad: Little MO needs to catch a break, man.
The Good: Dream Team
The Indian Wells: Oh, no. Not again! Stacey get out of there!
The Bad: No one really believed a Radwanskian repeat of an appearance in the I.W. final was in the cards this time around, but not making it past the first weekend wasn't on the radar, either.
The Good: The Cheesecake Queen lives!
The Indian Wells: Well, there's always 2016, I guess. And more cheesecake.
The Bad: Creep alert.
The Good: One of the benefits of tennis: former champions CAN show their stuff years later...
The Bieber: Acting all Bieber-y and such...
RISERS: Heather Watson/GBR & Lesia Tsurenko/UKR
...just before former British #1 Laura Robson takes the first on-court steps of her comeback in Miami, current British #1 Watson is rounding into good form after staging her own comeback over the last year or so. She opened 2015 by winning a title in Hobart, but hadn't put up a main draw win since before getting on the board in Indian Wells. She's taken the momentum and dashed off with it, too. The victory over Julia Goerges has already been followed by additional wins over Camila Giorgi (who reached the Round of 16 at I.W. in '14) and last year's runner-up Aga Radwanska. Radwanska defeated then-qualifier Watson in the 2nd Round a year ago in the desert, but couldn't take a set off her on Sunday in a frustrating, error-strewn contest (yes, AGA's game was error-strewn). After being 0-11 in previous matches, this was Watson's first win over a Top 10 player. Tsurenko has had a front row seat to Timea Bacsinszky's recent run, losing to her in BOTH Acapulco and Monterrey in the Swiss woman's back-to-back title runs. She even led the Queen of Mexico 6-4/4-2 in their 2nd Round match in Monterrey. The Ukrainian has had her own moments to savor so far in Indian Wells. After having a career year in '13, she posted just four MD tour wins in '14, but Tsurenko already has four in 2015, including wins this past week over Germans Annika Beck and Andrea Petkovic, countrywomen who have combined to win five WTA singles titles over the past year.
SURPRISES: Zhu Lin/CHN & Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar/ESP
...Zhu, 21, is closing in the Top 100. Coming in as the #119-ranked player in the world, she qualified in Indian Wells with victories over Paula Kania and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, then took out Francesca Schiavone in the main draw before losing in the 2nd Round to Sara Errani. Meanwhile, back in Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia there was CSQ STILL trying to get that first career ITF singles title. Once again, for the fourth straight event there, the former Texas A&M star reached the final, defeating the #6 seed and winning a semi over Margot Decker 4-6/6-0/6-0. But, in the final, #3-seeded Pastry Clothilde de Barnardi grabbed her eighth career title in a straight sets victory. Sanchez is 20-5 in singles in 2015 and was #758 at the start of the week, edging close to surpassing by what was her last official year-end WTA ranking (#761 in 2009). But the quest continues...
VETERANS: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
...after sometimes struggling to find consistent success with their regular partners of late, Top 10 doubles stars Hingis (#7) and Mirza (#5) teamed up for Indian wells and have found immediate success. So far. Their two wins have them in the quarterfinals. Coming into this week, Mirza had gone 6-4 (w/ no titles) with regular partner Hsieh Su-Wei, while having won her other event when partnering Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Hingis was 3-4 with regular partner Flavia Pennetta, but won her other event while partnering Sabine Lisicki. Interestingly, Hsieh & Pennetta teamed up in Indian Wells, losing their 1st Round match.
COMEBACKS: Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL & Sloane Stephens/USA
...Karatantcheva, still riding the high of her lucky-loser-to-semifinalist run in Acapulco, made it through qualifying in Indian Wells with wins over Cagla Buyukakcay and Pauline Parmentier. She got her first main draw I.W. win since 2005 (def. Marlene "The Blue Angel" Weingartner) when she took out Tsvetana Pironkova, then lost a round later to Coco Vandeweghe. Meanwhile, Sloane has been mostly "Current-proof" in Indian Wells. Good moments have been few and far between for Stephens since her 2013 Australian Open semi run, but trips to the desert have served to remind many of what she's sometimes capable of. She lost in her opening match as the #17-ranked player two years ago, but has since used Indian Wells as an oasis in her persona WTA, well, desert. Last year, she reached the QF. This year, at #42 and fighting to just stay in the Top 50 before the clay court season begins, she's put up wins over Chanelle Scheepers and Angelique Kerber. The win over #14 Kerber was Stephens' first Top 20 win of the season, and her best since taking down then-#13 Ana Ivanovic last year in this same tournament. The last time Sloane had multiple main draw victories in any event was last August in Cincinnati. She plays Svetlana Kuznetsova later on Sunday , with the "reward" for the winner a likely meeting with Serena Williams in the 4th Round.
FRESH FACES: Yulia Putintseva/KAZ & Ons Jabeur/TUN
...the 20-year olds both made it through Indian Wells qualifying and then put up main draw victories, as well. Putintseva knocked off Edina Gallovits and Arina Rodionova to reach the MD, then took out Czech Tereza Smitkova before losing to Ana Ivanovic in the 2nd Round. Putintseva came in at #107, and she may soon return to the Top 100. Her career high was #88 in 2013. Jabeur had Q-round wins over Denisa Allertova and Julia Boserup before upsetting #51 Kaia Kanepi in the 1st Round, her third-best career win (topped only by victories over #37 Bojana Jovanovski and '13, and #33 Zheng Jie in '12). The 2011 Roland Garros girls champ, who ultimately lost in the 2nd Round to Caroline Wozniacki, could achieve a new career-high rank when the singles rankings are posted after Indian Wells. She entered at #130, with her career-best an easily-within-grasp #126 (which she just reached last month).
DOWN: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE), Angelique Kerber/GER and Aga Radwanska/POL
...in January, BMS & Safarova teamed up for the first time and won the Australian Open. In their second pairing, well, things didn't go quite so well. They lost their 1st Round match in Indian Wells to Raluca Olaru & Olga Savchuk, dropping an 11-9 match tie-break after having led it 9-5 and holding four consecutive match points. Olaru/Savchuk won the last six points of the match. Meanwhile, Kerber's mini-freefall continues. After beginning 2015 in the Top 10, the German opened with back-to-back QF and SF results and a 5-2 record. Since then she's dropped to #14 and gone 2-6, dropping her third consecutive match (fourth in five) in her 2nd Round opener in Indian Wells to Sloane Stephens. Depending on what a few other players do, Kerber could fall as low #17 once things have finished up in the desert. Radwanska, a finalist a year ago in Indian Wells, was bounced on Sunday in the 3rd Round by Heather Watson in straight sets. A year after defeating Watson in the 2nd Round in California, Aga won just eight total games this time around and committed twenty-nine unforced errors to drop to 7-7 on the season (not including her 3-1 Hopman Cup record). Hmmm, considering the fickle notion of most coach-consultant/player arrangements of late, might Martina Navratilova's time in the Aga camp be nearing its end?
ITF PLAYERS: Katerina Stewart/USA & Olga Ianchuk/UKR
...Stewart, 17, is another of the rising Bannerettes. As the #1 seed, the Miami native won her fourth career ITF title at the $10K challenger in Gainesville, Florida with wins over fellow American teens Ingrid Neel (a lucky loser, in the QF) and Sonya Kenin (in a three-set final). Ianchuk, 19, grabbed her sixth career ITF singles title in the $10K event in Amiens, France. She put up wins over her sister Elizaveta (in the SF) and Pastry Alize Lim in the final. The Ianchuk sisters also teamed up to reach the doubles final.
JUNIOR STARS: Usue Arconada/USA, Kimberly Birrell/AUS & Sonya Kenin/USA
...16-year old Arconada, the junior #34, won her first career Grade 1 singles crown at the Banana Bowl in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. After three semifinal and two runner-up results at Grade 1 events over the past fourteen months, Arconada finally got over the hump (as the #1 seed) with victories over the #3 and #12 seeds to reach the final, then #9-seeded fellow Bannerette Francesca di Lorenzo in a 6-1/6-7(6)/6-4 win in the decider. Birrell, 16, reached her first career ITF singles final on the grass Down Under in the $15K Mildura challenger. The '14 AO girls semifinalist got victories over Priscilla Hon, #2-seed Jang Su-Jeong and Sherazad Reiz before losing to fellow Aussie Alison Bai. Birrell is ranked #887 on the WTA computer, and #24 in the junior standings. Meanwhile, world #1034 (#19 girl) Kenin reached first-ever career pro finals in the singles and doubles at the $10K challenger in Gainesville. A member of the reigning U.S. Junior Fed Cup championship team, Kenin made it through qualifying as the #9 q-seed and ran off a total of seven straight wins before losing to Katerina Stewart in the final.
DOUBLES: Anna Bondar/Dalma Galfi (HUN/HUN)
...the junior Hungarians won the title at the $10K ITF challenger in Solarino, Italy. Bondar, 17, is the girls #49, while 16-year old Galfi comes in a #4 (she also reached the singles SF last week), and their win over Sofiya Kovalets & Janina Toljan gives them two titles in three career pro final appearances. For Bondar, it's her third ITF doubles win.
[I.W. Week 1]
1. I.W. 1st Rd. - Olaru/Savchuk d. Mattek-Sands/Safarova
...3-6/7-5 [11-9]. The AO champs led 9-5 in the match tie-break and had four consecutive MP, losing the last six points of the match to officially christen their partnership as a "feast-or-famine" proposition.
2. I.W. 1st Rd. - Niculescu/Panova d. Babos/Mladenovic
...3-6/7-6(4) [11-9]. Babos/Mladenovic held a MP in the 2nd set, then three more starting at 9-6 in the match tie-break.
3. I.W. 1st Rd. - Townsend d. Mattek-Sands
...6-4/5-7/7-5. Unfortunately, BMS' trip to the desert didn't include a lot of tennis. Although, she DID manage to get in an extra set here after coming back from 6-4/3-0 down to force a 3rd.
4. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Stephens d. Kerber
...7-6(6)/6-2. Future Sloane makes a cameo appearance. But Current Kerber might have had a say in the result, too.
5. I.W. 1st Rd. - Stephens/Townsend d. Kops-Jones/Spears
...6-4/2-6 [10-8]. Nice to see two young American singles players teaming up in doubles. Both Stephens and Townsend were doubles achievers as juniors, picking up three girls slam titles each, though none with the other as a partner.
6. I.W. 3rd Rd. - Bacsinszky d. Makarova
...3-6/7-5/6-4. Whew! Sorry, Serena, but you won't be matching Timea's tour-best 14-match season winning streak, after all. Well, not in Indian Wells, at least.
7. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Makarova d. Vesnina
...6-4/6-0. When doubles partners meet. Hopefully, no hard feelings about that bagel.
8. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Jankovic d. Davis
...6-7(5)/6-0/6-4. Well, well. JJ lives. Davis reached the Round of 16 a year ago in Indian Wells, while Jankovic was a quarterfinalist. So maybe this IS an important match win for the Serb, who entered with a 2-4 record for the season, and her best win since last September coming over the world #77 earlier this year. She'll face Madison Keys next, looking for her first Top 20 victory since she defeated Sloane Stephens in Montreal last August.
9. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Tsurenko d. Petkovic
...6-3/4-6/6-4. For all that Petko has accomplished in 2015, this loss drops her to 6-6 for the season.
10. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Lisicki d. Vinci
...6-1/5-7/6-4. A win from the German -- just her second in eight matches this year -- didn't come without a "Sabine moment," as she served at 6-1/5-4 before being forced to win in three sets.
11. $10K Antalya Final - Victoria Kan d. Anna Schaefer
...6-1/6-0. The 19-year old Hordette wins her twelfth career ITF title, while Schaefer loses in her circuit-best fifth '15 singles final (she's 2-3).
12. $10K Sao Jose dos Campos Final - Nadia Podoroska d. Victoria Bosio
...6-7(6)/7-6(2)/6-3. The 18-year old Argentine is now 6-0 in career ITF singles finals.
1. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Niculescu
...7-5/7-5. In her first match in the desert since defeating Kim Clijsters in the 2001 final, Serena was a bit taken aback by the moment -- and the Romanian's odd, spinny game -- in the early going. Niculescu served for the set in the 1st. But after the cheers and tears were over (the first batch, anyway), Williams got everything together and won in two tight sets.
2. I.W. 3rd Rd. - Watson d. Aga Radwanska
...6-4/6-4. Maybe Radwanska should call on Citizen Anna for some assistance?
3. I.W. 3rd Rd. - Karolina Pliskova d. Muguruza
...7-5/6-4. If the race is on to see which one can reach the Top 10 -- or a slam semifinal -- first, then it's worth noting that the Czech is now 2-0 vs. the Spaniard in 2015.
4. $10K Amiens SF - Olga Ianchuk d. Elizaveta Ianchuk
...6-4/6-3. Meeting for the first time since 2012, Olga takes out her older sister Elizaveta to run her career record in their head-to-head meetings to 3-0. Thanks, sis?
5. $10 Amiens Final - Olga Ianchuk d. Alize Lim
...3-6/6-3/6-4. Olga now has six career ITF singles titles to Elizaveta's four.
6. $10K Amiens Final - Daniilidou/Csoregi d. Elizaveta Ianchuk/Olga Ianchuk
...6-1/6-4. I guess Elizaveta was a bit of a bad luck charm in Amiens. On a side note, 32-year old Eleni Daniilidou takes her 16th career pro doubles title since 1998, but her first title of any kind since winning the $75K Albuquerque doubles with Coco Vandeweghe in 2013. By the way, 18-year old Ilka Csoregi, a former Swarmette, is now representing Hungary.
7. I.W. 1st Rd. - Kuznetsova/Vandeweghe d. Anastasia Rodionova/Arina Rodionova
...4-6/6-2/12-10. Speaking of Coco, she was part of the winning effort here, as well. The Rodionova sisters held a match poit at 10-9 in the match tie-break.
On Caro Corner, she's at it again...
Bless her heart.
**SHARAPOVA vs. AZARENKA**
2007 Moscow 2r - Azarenka 7-6/6-2
2009 Los Angeles 2r - Sharapova 6-7/6-4/6-2
2009 Beijing 2r - Sharapova 6-3/6-7/7-5
2010 Stanford F - Azarenka 6-4/6-1
2011 Miami F - Azarenka 6-1/6-3
2011 Rome QF - Sharapova 4-6/3-0 ret.
2012 Indian Wells F - Azarenka 6-2/6-3
2012 Australian Open F - Azarenka 6-3/6-0
2012 Stuttgart F - Sharapova 6-1/6-4
2012 US Open SF - Azarenka 3-6/6-2/6-4
2012 Beijing F - Azarenka 6-3/6-1
2012 WTA Chsp. SF - Sharapova 6-4/6-2
2013 Roland Garros SF - Sharapova 6-1/2-6/6-4
2015 Indian Wells 3r - ???
**2015 ITF TITLES**
2...Amanda Carreras, GBR
2...Clothilde de Bernardi, FRA
2...Magarita Gasparyan, RUS
2...Daria Gavrilova, AUS
2...Victoria Kan, RUS
2...Sofia Kvatsabaia, GEO
2...Magda Linette, POL
2...Nudnida Luangnam, THA
2...Anne Schaefer, GER
2...Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
2...Isabella Shinikova, BUL
2...Julia Terziyska, BUL
2...Sachia Vickery, USA
**2015 ITF TITLES - NORTH AMERICANS**
2...Sachia Vickery, USA
1...Usue Arconada, USA
1...CiCi Bellis, USA
1...Gloria Liang, CAN
1...Katerina Stewart, USA
1...Marcela Zacarius, MEX
**RECENT INDIAN WELLS FINALS**
2006 Maria Sharapova d. Elena Dementieva
2007 Daniela Hantuchova d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2008 Ana Ivanovic d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2009 Vera Zvonareva d. Ana Ivanovic
2010 Jelena Jankovic d. Caroline Wozniacki
2011 Caroline Wozniacki d. Marion Bartoli
2012 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova
2013 Maria Sharapova d. Caroline Wozniacki
2014 Flavia Pennetta d. Aga Radwanska
All for now.