Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wk.15 (Part 1)- The Brazilian Graduate

Where have you gone, Neige Dias? A nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.


There was so much happening in Week 15 that it'll take two posts to contain it all!

S: Teliana Pereira/BRA def. Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ 7-6(2)/6-1
D: Goncalves/Haddad Maia (BRA/BRA) d. Falconi/Rogers (USA/USA)

..."This has been the best week of my life," Pereira said after becoming the first Brazilian to claim a WTA singles title since 1988. A week after winning her then-biggest title at a $50K challenger in Medellin, the 26-year old won in the tour-level event in Bogota with victories of Francesca Schiavone, Mandy Minella, Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, #1-seed Elina Svitolina and Yaroslava Shvedova in the final. Her previous WTA bests had been semifinals in this same event in '13 (as a qualifier) and in Rio in 2014. 21-5 on the season, Pereira has now won ten straight matches, and jumps from #130 to a career-high #81 in the new rankings. Her win over #27-ranked Svitolina ties the Brazilian's career-best set with a win over Sorana Cirstea last season in Charleston.

Hey, hey, hey... hey, hey, hey.
RISER: Mariana Duque/COL
...not surprisingly, the Colombian has been a consistent winner in Bogota, and on clay (she was the '07 RG girls RU to Alize Cornet). She won her only WTA singles title in the city in 2010 (def. first-time finalist Angelique Kerber), and just last year she reached the semifinals there in a $100K challenger. Duque was at it again this past week, defeating Timea Babos, Tatjana Maria and Julia Glushko to reach the first tour SF since she won in Bogota in '10. The 25-year old lost there to Teliana Pereira, who also defeated her in a SF a week ago in the $50K Medellin challenger. The result bumps Duque up twenty spots in the new rankings from #134 to #114.
SURPRISE: Irina Falconi/USA 2011, Falconi was in prime position to be one of the players that U.S. FC Captain Mary Joe Fernandez could totally ignore on at least two weekends every year. She upset Klara Koukalova (then Zakopalova) and Dominika Cibulkova at the U.S. Open, climbing into the Top 75 and completing her only Top 100 season. Her upward progression didn't continue, but she's shown signs of a resurgence of late. Her multi-tournament challenger run last year won her the USTA's wild card into this season's Australian Open (she reached the 2nd Round), and her Bogota wins over Sorana Cirstea and Dinah Pfizenmaier gave Falconi her first tour-level QF result since Birmingham '12. The 24-year old is 17-9 on the season, is back inside the Top 100 (#83) and is even showing signs of being a "dual threat" after also reaching the Bogota doubles final (the third of her career) with Shelby Rogers. So, I guess she's free game for Mary Joe to ignore again. After all, isn't that what all up-and-coming American players aspire to?

VETERAN: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ
...the 27-year old actually won a tour title in Bangalore back in 2007 when she was representing Russia, but ever since she joined the legions of new Kazakhs beginning in 2008 Shvedova has been the leading contender to become the first Kazakh woman to win a tour-level singles title. Well, we're still waiting (and Zarina Diyas still has a shot!). Shvedova, troubled by inconsistency throughout her career, IS at least getting close. She's reached a pair of QF at Roland Garros in her career (and the Round of 16 twice at Wimbledon) but Shvedova's run to the final in Bogota was her first since she won her lone title eight years ago. Her wins over Maryna Zanevska, Sachia Vickery, #2-seed Monica Puig and Mariana Duque lifted her standing in the new rankings from #75 all the way up to #56.
COMEBACK: Nastassja Burnett/ITA
...the 23-year old Italian is finally back on the board after taking time off for elbow surgery last summer. In February '14, Burnett had made a semifinal run at the tour-level event in Rio and rose to #121, but she saw the bottom drop out of her results soon after. When she fell to Alexandra Dulgheru in Wimbledon qualifying, she'd dropped six straight matches and ten of eleven. She came into last week's $10K challenger in Pula -- just her second tournament back -- ranked at #765, but managed to string together multiple wins for the first time since her Rio run and ended up walking away with her first ITF title since 2011 when she defeated countrywoman Alice Balducci in the final.
FRESH FACES: Elina Svitolina/UKR & Beatriz Haddad Maia/BRA
...Svitolina, 20, is the second-youngest player (behind Madison Keys) in the Top 30, and had her first #1-seeded experience in a WTA event last week in Bogota. The Ukrainian has been adept at handling such pressures in the past, as she became a rare teenager to defend a tour singles title when she repeated as Baku champ last season. But while her wins over Louisa Chirico, Danka Kovinic and Irina Falconi were nice, her semifinal loss to Teliana Pereira proved to be a tad bit disappointing. But it's already Svitolina's second semifinal of '15 after putting up four SF-or-better results a year ago. Meanwhile, 18-year old Haddad became the youngest singles or doubles champion on tour this year when she teamed with fellow Brazilian Paula Cristina Goncalves to claim the first WTA title for either with a win in the final over Irina Falconi & Shelby Rogers. Earlier this season, Haddad had held three match points against Sara Errani in the Rio QF before seeing the Italian defeat her and then go on to win the title. In Bogota, she made it through qualifying and put up a 1st Round win before falling to Lourdes Dominguez-Lino.
DOWN: Francesca Schiavone/ITA
...Schiavone will turn 35 in June and, except for the occasional nice run, her results generally speak to a career well beyond twilight these days. She put up five wins earlier this season in Monterrey, but she's 2-8 elsewhere in '15, including her 1 & 4 1st Round loss to eventual Bogota champ Teliana Pereira last week. Since she won a title in Marrakech last April, the former Roland Garros champ (and two-time finalist) has put up a 7-10 record on clay courts.
ITF PLAYER: Anhelina Kalinina/UKR
...the 18-year old Ukrainian notched her second challenger title in as many weeks with her win in the $25K in Pelham, Alabama. Kalinina put up victories over Olga Ianchuk, new-Bannerette Edina Gallovits-Hall (ah, another player for MJF to overlook!) and #2-seeded Laura Siegemund (the defending champ in the event) in straight sets in the final.

JUNIOR STARS: Tereza Mihalikova/SVK & Charlotte Robillard-Millette/CAN
...Mihalikova was the Australian Open girls champ earlier this season, and now she's a first-time ITF singles crown winner, as well. The 16-year old Slovak took the title at the $10K in Cairo with wins over the #2 and #5 seeds, then downed #3-seed Dea Herdzelas 7-5/6-3 in the final. She also reached the doubles final. Meanwhile, no matter how disappointing Genie Bouchard's efforts were in Montreal, 16-year old Robillard-Millette joined Francoise Abanda in the encouraging column for the Canadians. The #53-ranked junior, CRM (the #2 seed) won the Grade 2 event in Istres, France to claim her biggest title yet. She took out top-seeded Lucie Wargnier in the final, and was also the doubles runner-up.
DOUBLES: Paula Cristina Goncalves/BRA
...Goncalves joined Haddad Maia as the final piece in Brazil's sweep of the titles in Bogota. The 24-year old's win gives her her maiden tour-level doubles title after winning fourteen times in her career on the ITF circuit. With BHM, the Brazilians are the seventh and eighth first-time doubles champions on tour this season.

1. Bogota Final - Pereira d. Shvedova
Pereira was still a few months away from being born when Neige Dias became the last Brazilian woman to claim a WTA singles title when she won in Barcelona in April '88. Of course, thanks to the WTA website reconstruction of a few years ago that eliminated so much tour history and detailed biographical information on players' careers, there's no actual bio page of Dias on the current site. But if you want to know something about Sabrina Dias (born in 1993) and Verusa Dias (1989), then you're in luck! For the record, Dias won two WTA titles in her career, though she was barely a .500 player (78-77) during her time as a professional. At the '87 U.S. Open, she defeated Arantxa Sanchez in the future #1's debut at Flushing Meadows, then lost to Chris Evert a round later. She was 0-2 vs. Steffi Graf, including a "not bad" 6-4/6-3 loss to the German at Amelia Island in 1986 (she was double-bageled in their other meeting), and had a win over Jana Novotna in Rome in '88. Said Pereira of Dias, "I've never seen her, but I know her name because two years ago when I made the semifinals here, it was a big result for Brazil and I heard her name." At least there's proof of her existence on the ITF site.
2. Bogota 1st Rd. - Haddad Maia d. Herazo
It'd been nice if we'd had an all-Brazilian quarterfinal, but I supposed Haddad Maia was fortunate just to escape the 1st Round. Herazo served at 5-4 in the 3rd set.
3. $10K Heraklion Final - Raluca Georgiana Serban d. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar
The former Texas A&M star is still making progress toward that first ITF singles title. But she's not there yet. She didn't have to qualify in Heraklion, and was the #8 seed. But she's now winless in five singles finals over the last eleven weeks.
HM- Stuttgart Q2 - Mattek-Sands d. Friedsam
Maybe BMS was busy rebuilding her ranking -- on clay, by the way -- after her injury layoff. But Bethanie sure would have been useful in Brindisi. I'm just sayin'. I wonder if she was even asked if she was free?

1. Bogota 1st Rd. - Falconi/Rogers d. Maria Paulina Perez Garcia/Paula Andrea Perez Garcia
Down go the Colombian twins!
2. Bogota QF - Falconi/Rogers d. Anastasia Rodionova/Arina Rodionova
Down go the Russo-Aussies! Ah, but taking out TWO pairs of sisters does NOT ensure victory in the end.
Although, losing to BOTH Radwanskas doesn't hurt a bit. Right, Martina?

My, how things have changed.

Maria didn't play in Sochi, but she DID celebrate a birthday on Sunday. Her 28th, in fact.

**WTA CLAY TITLES - active**
11...Serena Williams, USA
10...Maria Sharapova, RUS
10...Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
7...Sara Errani, ITA
7...Flavia Pennetta, ITA
7...Venus Williams, USA
6...Jelena Jankovic, SRB

#181 Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE - Kuala Lumpur
#158 Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL - Acapulco
#110 Lucie Hradecka/CZE - Charleston
#105 Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL - Katowice

19 - Rebecca Peterson, SWE (Rio)
20 - Ysaline Bonaventure, BEL (Rio,Katowice)
20 - Wang Yafan, CHN (Kuala Lumpur)

Kiki Bertens, NED
Lydmyla Kichenok, UKR
Nadiia Kichenok, UKR
Rebecca Peterson, SWE
Demi Schuurs, NED
Wang Yafan, CHN

So, which one is it that is going along for the ride with whom, anyway?

Beats being in Brindisi, I suppose.

?? #titanic #pose #tobadthereisnoDiCaprioInthepicture #sorrysascha #nothingpersonal ??????

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Queen of the world!

STUTTGART, GERMANY (Premier $731K/red clay indoor)
14 Final: Sharapova d. Ivanovic (Sharapova 2012-14)
14 Doubles Final: Errani/Vinci d. Black/Mirza
15 Top Seeds: Sharapova/Halep

#1 Sharapova d. #3 Kvitova
Muguruza d. #8 Suarez-Navarro
Muguruza d. #1 Sharapova

...yes, Muguruza would likely have to run something akin to a WTA gauntlet to do this, as Halep, Radwanska, CSN and either Sharapova or Kvitova would probably have to be taken down in successive rounds. But it's time for the Spaniard to finally begin to put up the consistent sort of results that back up her potentially prodigious talent. This would be as good a time as any to start.

That said, she'll probably lose in the 2nd Round to the Swarmette Queen (getting revenge for Muguruza's Fed Cup thrashing of her in February), who'll then go on to take the title and next week's post will be about how Simona might be the favorite to win in Paris.

All right, with both sides of that coin now covered... how did Petko and Co. drown their Fed Cup sorrows?

Here's to what might have been, and what no one will ever really know. But more on that in Part 2 of the Week 15 recap.

All for now.


Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Great credit to the Brazilian. Now to question about Stuyygart:

When has it happened on the wTA tour that 7 of 8 finalist in the qualification is through to the maindraw?

Mon Apr 20, 04:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Argh - sorry for the mistyping - Stuttgart of course ;)

Mon Apr 20, 04:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, if it has happened before it might have been after a Fed Cup weekend when so many players go into group think mode and decide, "Umm, no. I'm not going to play there NOW." :)

Mon Apr 20, 06:06:00 PM EDT  

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