Sunday, November 08, 2015

Wk.44- Everything Old is New Again

By the time the WTA season reaches November, everything old is new again. Not that Venus is "old"... she's just "well-seasoned."

Don't believe me? Well, look at this...

And remember this...

Seeeeee?! Like I said. And, of course, this week there was also...

Yep, the now annual Simona Coaching Announcement. Like I said, everything old is new again....some more welcomingly so than others.

But, hey -- way to go, Venus!

ELITE TROPHY (Zhuhai, China; HCI)
S: Venus Williams/USA def. Karolina Pliskova/CZE 7-5/7-6(6)
D: Liang Chen/Wang Yafan (CHN/CHN) d. Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja (ESP/ESP) 6-4/6-3

...leave it to Venus to continue to meet her goals some twenty years into her tennis career. Williams opened the singles competition at the inaugural Elite Trophy event in Zhuhai with a three-set win over Madison Keys, and ended it with a straight sets win in the final over Karolina Pliskova that lifts her into the season-ending Top 10. She hadn't even been ranked in the Top 10 at all since 2011. At #7, the 35-year old is the oldest to finish in the Top 10 since a 38-year old Martina Navratilova ended up the 1994 campaign at #8. 5-0 for the week, Venus went over 40 match wins in a season for the first time since 2008 and grabbed career title #48 with her third crown of 2015. She hasn't won so many titles since 2008, when she also completed her season in the winner's circle by winning the WTA Championships. Of course, the second part of Venus' hope for this past week was that it would give her the boost for a great start to the 2016 season. Well... stay tuned. It's not really that far away. Less than the amount of time it's been since the end of the U.S. Open, in fact.
RISER: Karolina Pliskova/CZE
...Pliskova's work last week made her the fourth player to reach the 50-win mark in 2015 (after Serena, Radwanska and Kerber), while she became the first 50/500 player (50 wins, 500 aces) in WTA history, breaking Serena's 2012 record of 484 aces in a season. But Pliskova's inability to "finish what she started" continued in Zhuhai, as her 3-0 round robin and SF record (def. Errani, JJ & Svitolina) put her into her tour-best sixth final this season. The battle for the title and a year-end Top 10 spot against Venus Williams was won by the American in a 7-5/7-6 contest that dropped Pliskova to 1-5 in finals this season (she was 3-3 before '15). Her fellow members of the 50-Win Club are all ranked in the Top 10, with Serena (5), Kerber (4) and Aga (3) dwarfing the Czech's title totals. #11 Pliskova has one more shot at glory this season, as she's on the Czech Fed Cup team this week in Prague, where it's possible that she could find herself in a clinching singles position on Day 2 should things go well for the home favorites. Maybe she'll be able to finish something then.

SURPRISE: Lesedi Sheya Jacobs/NAM
...the 18-year old from Namibia -- yes, Namibia -- won her first career pro title at the $10K challenger in Stellenbosch, South Africa. An unranked wild card at the event, Jacobs defeated the #7 (Alexandra Riley), #1 (Naomi Totka), #6 (Madrie Le Roux) and #5 (Luisa Marie Huber, 7-6/5-7/6-1 in the final) seeds en route to the title. Other than Fed Cup participation, this was Jacobs' first non-junior action of the year. She'd won her (previously) biggest singles title at a Grade 3 junior event in Casablanca in May, as well as a series of Grade 4's on the African continent from 2012-14. She very nearly swept both titles at the Stellenbosch event, losing in the doubles final with Zimbabwe's Valeria Bhuna (so, yes, there is a player in Zimbabwe who plays tennis whose name is not Black).
VETERAN: Roberta Vinci/ITA
...Vinci's semifinal result in Zhuhai was her fourth of the season, but the third in her last five events beginning with that surprise run to the final at Flushing Meadows. She'd come to China with an outside shot at reaching the Top 10, but her straights sets loss to Venus instead ended her season and left her at #15. Still, it's a healthy rankings bump after finishing 2014 at #49. But the bigger story last week was the 32-year old's announcement that the "Italian Quartet" will be half-way finished (maybe more, depending on Francesca Schiavone's future plans when/if she breaks the all-time consecutive slam record) by this time next year, as Vinci said that the 2016 season will likely be her last.

...King lost in the 1st Round of singles to Anna Tatishvili in the $50K challenger in Waco, Texas. But the two-time doubles slam winner and former doubles #3, who came into the week ranked at #364, claimed the Waco title playing alongside Nicole Gibbs. It's King's best result since returning to action this summer after a year-long injury break. King's last title of any kind was in the $100K Cagnes-Sur-Mer doubles in 2013 (w/ Arantxa Rus), while her last final was at the tour-level Bogota event (w/ Chanelle Scheepers) in April of last year.

FRESH FACE: Elina Svitolina/UKR
...the 21-year old Ukrainian continued her rise up the rankings ladder in '15, finishing the season after her semifinal result in Zhuhai at a year-ending #19, up from #29 in '14, which was an improvement over a #40 finish in '13. Svitolina went 2-0 in round robin play at the Elite Trophy event, defeating both Andrea Petkovic and Carla Suarez-Navarro (the latter in a virtual playoff for a SF berth) in a pair of three-set matches. Such hard work at the end of a long season left Svitolina feeling, ummm, not like herself on the morning of her final four match with Karolina Pliskova, which she lost in straight sets to fall to 1-5 in 2015 semifinals.

Svitolina's season isn't quite over yet, though, as she's set to play as the #1 seed in the WTA $125K Series event this week in Limoges, France. We'll see how that goes.

DOWN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...the Dane's 2nd set retirement vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opening round robin match at the Elite Trohy event brings her injury-plagued, tactically-questionable, disappointingly mediocre step-back of a season to a merciful end. To add insult to injury, Wozniacki had arrived in Zhuhai healthy, only to cut her finger earlier in the week, causing her to be unable to properly hold her racket, and then injure her wrist as a result. Sigh. "Right now in my head it's frustration and disappointment," she said. Of course, she was even more descriptive -- not to mention, on the nose, too...

Wozniacki's #17 finish is her worst year-end ranking since 2007.
ITF PLAYER: Mathilde Johansson/FRA
...Johansson, 30, won the $50K challenger title in Nantes, France to claim her fourteenth career ITF singles title, and her second in 2015 (after having not won any since 2011). The Pastry notched wins over Nigina Abduraimova, Pauline Parmentier, Anhelina Kalinina and Katerina Siniakova to reach her third '15 final, then defeated Swarmette Andreea Mitu to take home the crown.

JUNIOR STARS: Olesya Pervushina/RUS & Zheng Wushuang/CHN
...don't look now, but the Hordettes are coming! Again. The young Russians have been a force in the junior slams the last two years, winning twice in '14 and taking another title this year (while filling three '15 finalist slots). But there are still more youngsters on the rise. Girls #21 Pervushina, 15, won her first pro singles title at the $10K Pula challenger this weekend, defeating Anastasia Grymalska in three sets in the final. Earlier this season, Pervushina put up victories over Dalma Galfi (the current junior #1 and U.S. Open champ), Xu Shilin (the former girls #1) and Sonya Kenin (current #3 and U.S. Open finalist). Aleksandra Pospelova, the 17-year old junior #20 from Russia, also reached a $10K final in Antalya this weekend. Meanwhile, in the Grade B1 Asia Oceania Closed Championships in Korea, 16-year old Chinese girl Zheng Wushuang (the #1-seed, and the 17-ranked girl) defeated #2-seeded Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan 6-0/6-3 in the final to grab the title.
DOUBLES: Liang Chen & Wang Yafan (CHN/CHN)
...the Chinese duo, 26 and 21-years old, respectively, are the top-ranked 2015 doubles pair from their nation (just ahead of Zheng Saisai & Xu Yifan). Liang & Wang, home nation wild cards in the Elite Trophy event, stepped up their efforts last week to maintain their position in '16 by walking off with the title with a 3-0 record in Zhuhai. Wins over top-seeded Jans-Ignacik/Klepac and the Kichenok sisters in round robin play advanced the #4-seeds into the final, where they took out the veteran, #2-seeded duo of Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Arantxa Parra-Santonja in straight sets in the final. It's Liang's third tour title of the season, with this the second she's won in 2015 with Wang. The pair, who are aiming to play together at the Rio Olympics, also won a title in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year.


Bad Hair Day Battle!

1. Elite rr - Kuznetsova d. Wozniacki
...7-5/2-2 ret.
It's finally over. Drop the microphone.

2. Elite rr - Suarez-Navarro d. Petkovic
Petko injured her knee in her previous match, but rather than pull out or retire she gutted through this one for the benefit of CSN, the fans and herself (though, honestly, I'm not sure where the "entertainment" value is in a match such as this). Afterward, she came clean about her own questions about whether she wants to continue her career. As it is, she'll now take time to re-group. To be continued...

3. Elite rr - Svitolina d. Suarez-Navarro
Her pass from Petko didn't ultimately help the Spaniard, as in a "play-in" match to reach the semis, CSN squandered a set lead against Svitolina and saw her season come (perhaps prematurely) to an end.

4. $50K Waco Final - Viktorija Golubic d. Nicole Gibbs
Had Gibbs won this match she'd have overtaken Anna Tatishvili in the USTA's Wild Card Playoff race for an Australian Open berth. As it is, both are tied in the standings with QF and RU results in the first two weeks of the three-week stretch that will determine who gets the automatic trip to Melbourne. Julia Boserup sits in third place, with Jennifer Brady within striking distance. With the "winner" only coming from a combination of two event totals a title run this coming week in Scottsdale would likely give the spot to the event's champion. At least Gibbs won the doubles with Vania King.
5. $50K Canberra Final - Asia Muhammad d. Eri Hozumi
The 24-year old American wins her third career ITF singles crown, with the other two coming in 2007 and '13. Hozumi & Misa Eguchi defeated Muhammad and Lauren Embree in the doubles final.


A photo posted by @asia.muhammad on

HM- Elite Trophy Final - Liang/Ya.Wang d. Medina-Garriges/Parra-Santonja
Oh, well. Better luck next time, AMG and ASP.


Belinda'a break (not from reality, hopefully) continues...

A Sharapova's work is never done...

And it doesn't look as if that will change anytime in the near future, either.

1. Elite Final - Venus Williams d. Karolina Pliskova
The first ever match-up of these tennis sisters was a battle for a spot in the year-end Top 10. Venus' re-entry into the elite group lifts the total number of woman who have made a 2015 appearance in the Top 10 to nineteen. Now BOTH Williams Sisters will have a story to tell when Venus gets home.

2. Elite rr - Venus Williams d. Keys
Venus' week opened with a tough win against Keys, who defeated her in Melbourne all the way back in January. Three times she was two points from defeat when down 6-5 in the 2nd set, but after she escaped that predicament it was the Keys balloon that was low on air in the 3rd. As with so many things with Keys this season, chalk it up as another learning experience.

3. Elite rr - Karolina Pliskova d. Jankovic
Pliskova's 50th win of the season put an end to JJ's hopes of reaching the semifinals.
HM- Elite rr - Anna Schmiedlova d. Vinci
Subbing for an injured Wozniacki, Schmiedlova's cameo appearance in Zhuhai proved to be a super-productive one. Not that it mattered in the nuts-and-bolts, as Vinci still reached the semis.

Caro's holiday has already begun.

**2015 WTA TITLES**
5...Serena Williams, USA
4...Angelique Kerber, GER
3...Simona Halep, ROU
3...Aga Radwanska, POL
3...Petra Kvitova, CZE

3...Simona Halep, ROU
3...Aga Radwanska, POL
3...Serena Williams, USA
2...Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
2...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE

Angelique Kerber, GER
Aga Radwanska, POL
Anna Schmiedlova, SVK
Venus Williams, USA

**2015 WTA FINALS**
5...Serena Williams (5-0)
5...Angelique Kerber (4-1)
5...Simona Halep (3-2)
4...Aga Radwanska (3-1)
4...Petra Kvitova (3-1)
4...Timea Bacsinszky (2-2)
4...Belinda Bencic (2-2)

15 - CZECH REPUBLIC (5-10)
11 - UNITED STATES (9-2)
11 - Germany (6-5)
9 - Russia (5-4)
9 - Romania (4-5)
8 - Italy (4-4)
8 - Switzerland (4-4)
6 - Poland (3-3)
6 - Spain (1-5)
4 - Slovak Republic (3-1)
4 - Serbia (2-2)

1.000 - Serena Williams (5-0)
1.000 - VENUS WILLIAMS (3-0)
1.000 - Samantha Stosur (2-0)
1.000 - Teliana Pereira (2-0)
0.800 - Angelique Kerber (4-1)
0.750 - Aga Radwanska (3-1)
0.750 - Petra Kvitova (3-1)
0.667 - Maria Sharapova (2-1)
0.667 - Jelena Jankovic (2-1)
0.667 - Anna Schmiedlova (2-1)
0.600 - Simona Halep (3-2)
.000 - Mona Barthel (0-2)
.000 - Caroline Garcia (0-2)
.000 - Roberta Vinci (0-2)
.000 - Carla Suarez-Navarro (0-2+L)
.333 - Garbine Muguruza (1-2)
.333 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1-2)
.333 - Lucie Safarova (1-2)
.333 - Caroline Wozniacki (1-2)
.500 - Timea Bacsinszky (2-2)

**MOST WTA FINALS - 2014-15**
12...Serena Williams, USA
10...Simona Halep, ROU
9...Angelique Kerber, GER
8...Petra Kvitova, CZE
8...Maria Sharapova, RUS
7...Ana Ivanovic, SRB

**2015 WTA SF**
9...Serena Williams (5-3+L)
9...Simona Halep (4-4+W)
8...Angelique Kerber (5-2+L)
8...Aga Radwanska (4-4)
7...Caroline Wozniacki (3-4)
7...Maria Sharapova (3-3+L)
6...Anna Schmiedlova (3-3)
6...Sara Errani (2-4)

["Tournament of Champions"]
2009 Aravane Rezai, FRA
2010 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2011 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2012 Nadia Petrova, RUS
2013 Simona Halep, ROU
2014 Andrea Petkovic, GER
["Elite Trophy"]
2015 Venus Williams, USA

9 - Hingis/Mirza, SUI/IND
4 - Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3 - Babos/Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
3 - Chan/Chan, TPE/TPE
3 - Kops-Jones/Spears, USA/USA
2 - Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE
2 - Gasparyan/Panova, RUS/RUS
2 - Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro, ESP/ESP
2 - Xu Yifan/Zheng Saisai, CHN/CHN

Shenzhen - Liang Chen/Wang Yafan, CHN (L)
Nanchang 125 = Zheng Saisai, CHN (L)
Nanchang 125 = Wang Yafan, CHN (L)
Guangzhou - Xu Shilin/You Xiao, CHN (L)
Tianjin - Xu Yifan/Zheng Saisai, CHN (W)
Elite Trophy - Liang Chen/Wang Yafan, CHN (W)

And in the biggest internet news of the week...

Sloane asks the eternal question...

And a new journey begins.

Fed Cup Final (Prague, CZE; HCI)
14 Final: CZE d. GER
CZE: Kvitova,Safarova,Ka.Pliskova,Strycova
RUS: Sharapova,Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina

Czech Republic d. Russia 3-1

...I'm thinking Kvitova replicates her Singapore win over Sharapova in front of the Czech crowd, while Safarova and/or Pliskova add to the final total. But if that Petra/Maria result flips, things could come down to the doubles... which might be determined by Makarova's health if Captain Myskina goes with the Makarova/Vesnina duo -- the only regular doubles team involved in this tie. Makarova, who hasn't played since the U.S. Open, is on the roster rather than the recently-in-form-FC-Goddess Kuznetsova... so the Czarina is rolling the dice here, assuming the roster doesn't change by the weekend.

14 Final: Smitkova d. Mladenovic
14 Doubles Final: Siniakova/Voracova d. Babos/Mladenovic
15 Singles Top Seeds: Svitolina/Tsurenko

#1/WC Svitolina d. #3/WC Garcia
#6 Gasparyan d. #4 Beck
#6 Gasparyan d. #1/WC Svitolina

...Svitolina ran out of gas in Zhuhai, so one wonders how much she'll offer in her 2015 season finale in Limoges. So I'll go with Gasparyan.

=new event=
15 Singles Top Seeds: Doi/Sai.Zheng

Kulichkova d. #1 Doi
#2 Sai.Zheng d. #5 Nara
#2 Sai.Zheng d. Kulichkova

...this event features the whole lot of (or most of) the young Japanese players on the move, including recent tour champions Doi, Nara, Hibino and "Rising Stars" winner Osaka.

The Backspin Awards continue this week with the 2015 "Rankings Round-Up."

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Thanks for posting Pova and Chelsea Handler. Maria, as usual, cracked me up. But then, I already thought she was funnier than CH.

Woz looks fabulous in a swimsuit, but hasn't the photo-posting gotten, um, compulsive?

Sun Nov 08, 10:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ha! You know, I didn't even think about that with her post this time. At least she's no longer posting her SI swimsuit issue photos every other day any longer.

Small steps. ;)

(Agree on the Handler/Sharapova thought process!) :)

Sun Nov 08, 11:07:00 PM EST  

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