Monday, November 23, 2015

Wk.46- Bare Bones and Babos

The number of matches that remain to be played in 2015 are dwindling, but that doesn't mean there isn't something to talk about at the regularly scheduled time.

Yes, the clues about the 2016 season are already being strategically placed along the path toward January. It'll be here before AnaIvo can change coaches, I'm sure. Well, maybe not. But it's still pretty close!

But the biggest news around Backspin HQ this was that the our old friend Carl dropped by for a visit. In between elking trips, our lumbering Backspinner-hating, malevolent entity-despising, squish-happy, sometimes-contributor agreed to answer a few burning questions regarding his far-too-long absence from these parts. So I'll drop in his answers as the Week 46 (yikes!) recap moves long.

Oh, and he'll be making picks for Week 47, too. For the 125 Series event in Carlsbad, of course. Err, I mean Carlisnotbad.

S: Timea Babos/HUN def. Misaki Doi/JPN 7-5/6-3
D: Kanae Hisami/Kotomi Takahata (JPN/JPN) def. Marina Melnikova/Elise Mertens (RUS/BEL) 6-2/6-2

...more than three years after her one and only WTA level singles title in Monterrey, the 22-year old Hungarian swept through the field at the WTA $125K Series event in Taipei. Babos took the title with wins over Elise Mertens, Stefanie Voegele, Kirsten Flipkens and #1-seeded Misaki Doi without dropping a set all week. She fired fifteen aces (w/ zero DF) in the final against Doi, and will now be able to share her Taiwan experiences with doubles partner and friend Kristina Mladenovic. The Pastry (as the #4, just like Babos) won the singles crown at this same 125 event in 2012, the first year of the tour-sponsored challenger series event. Babos is up to #70 in the rankings, putting her in good position to surpass her singles career high of #59 (in '12) sometime in 2016.

RISER: Misaki Doi/JPN was just a month ago that Doi became a maiden WTA singles champion in Luxembourg, and there she was this weekend in Taipei trying to double up and become a maiden WTA $125K Series winner, as well. The Japanese #1 (at #60, after having briefly fallen behind Nao Hibino after she'd beaten Doi into the WTA winner's circle) put up wins over Luksika Kumkhum and Evgeniya Rodina to reach the 125 Series final, but ultimately fell to Timea Babos in straight sets. It's enough to bump Doi up to #54, keeping her a step ahead of #66 Hibino (who moved up after reaching a $100K final this weekend).
SURPRISE: Gabriella Taylor/GBR
...the 17-year old Brit, ranked #954 last week, won her first career pro singles title at the $10K challenger in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Taylor defeated three seeds -- including #2 Francesca Stephenson and #1 Naomi Totka in a three-set final -- en route to her maiden crown.

My, it's rather nice in South Africa in November, isn't it?

VETERAN: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
...the 29-year old Waffle has slipped into the #90's this season after three consecutive seasons with year-end rankings in the Top 54. After a pair of 2015 semifinal results on tour in Istanbul and last month in Linz, as well as a runner-up at the $100K Vancouver challenger this summer, Flipkens added a SF at the 125 Series Taipei event this weekend. The Belgian put up wins over Zhang Kai-lin and Yaroslava Shvedova (the champion in Hua Hin last week).

Speaking of veterans...

COMEBACK: Evgeniya Rodina/RUS
...having already completed her first Top 100 season since 2011, Rodina added a WTA $125K Series semifinal to her '15 ledger last week. The #3 seed in the event, Rodina knocked off three unseeded Chinese opponents before losing to top-seeded Misaki Doi. The Russian's previous season best was a tour-level semifinal in Tashkent last month.

And, hopefully, another comeback can be discussed in 2016...

Initially, Hampton was finally set to make her return this week in Carlsbad, having used her protected ranking to get a wild card into qualifying. But it looks like the wait for her comeback will last a little bit longer, as she ultimately wasn't included in the qualifying draw.
FRESH FACES: Ivana Jorovic/SRB & Oceane Dodin/FRA
...18-year old Jorovic swept the singles and doubles titles (a career first) in the $25K challenger in Zawada, Poland. The Serb defeated Swarmette Mihaela Buzarnescu in the final to run her career record in ITF singles finals to 7-0. In the U.K., 19-year old Pastry Dodin defended the $25K Shrewsbury title she won a year ago with a 7-6(3)/7-5 win in the final over British teen Freya Christie. The fifth highest-ranked French woman in the WTA rankings, Dodin now has six career ITF singles crowns.

...just because. Really, though, how much further can the USTA sink than it already has by having lawyers try to use Instagram postings as "proof" of the lack of impairment of a professional athlete who suffered a concussion on USTA property? Yeah, I know... that question sort of answers itself, doesn't it?

I mean, does Instagram use erase the details surrounding the fall, or that lingering concussion symptoms prevented Genie Bouchard from playing tennis in a condition that was considered safe? Apparently, though, the USTA Grand Poobahs have some sort of special knowledge that confirms that having one's photo taken with The Rock (or even Duane Johnson, I'm assuming) and dressing up for a Halloween party is equivalent to playing tennis at a world class level. Hey, maybe the Poobahs are right. I mean, it would explain a lot about some of the USTA's practices... and why they seem to be decked out in clown outfits over there more times than not. I'd love to see the USTA's defense of Mary Joe Fernandez's continued Fed Cup Captaincy.

(In exalted Grand Poobah voice) "Well, it's because she knows the names of all the players, of course."

Hmmm, don't speak so soon. The same goes with the Bouchard lawsuit.
...injuries have sent Zhang down the rankings of late, as the 26-year old who was ranked as high as #30 in July of last year entered the week having dropped over 120 spots since the end of last season. With the '16 season just around the bend, the Chinese woman has began to turn things around before the flip of the calendar with her title run at the ITF season's final $100K challenger in Tokyo. Despite a sub-.500 season, Zhang saved her best for last, taking out Mayo Hibi, Wang Qiang (#4 seed), Kurumi Nara (#2) and Nao Hibino (#1) in the final to put away her sixteenth career circuit title, but her first since the 2013 season.


JUNIOR STAR: Amanda Anisimova/USA the Abierto event in Mexico City, 14-year old Bannerette Anisimova won out on the red clay to claim her first career Grade A title (in just her second GA appearance, after this summer's U.S. Open). The #3 seed, Anisimova knocked out Kayla Day early on in the 2nd Round, then finished things off by taking out current junior #6 Katie Swan, defeating the 16-year old Brit 7-5/3-6/6-3 in the final.

DOUBLES: Kanae Hisami & Kotomi Takahata (JPN/JPN) the WTA $125K Series event in Taipei, the all-Japanese pair won the biggest title of their career with a win in the final over the Russian/Waffle duo of Marina Melnikova & Elise Mertens. Hisami, 28, and Takahata, 26, have gone 2-4 in ITF finals this season. Both have been pretty successful on the lower circuit during their careers, with Hisami winning eight titles there, and Takahata cashing in nineteen times.

Oh, and then there's this little historical note...


Q: Where have you been, Carl?!
CARL: Why care!?!? Writing book about Carl? Leave out chapter! Carl no have time for stupid questions! Carl have to pick up Carlo and Carlita from school... and Carl have to buy diapers for baby Conrad... and Carl have to do list of chores Carla tape to front door or won't let Carl back in cave! And Carl had to work hard to get bigger cave for bigger family! Carl no have time for self, let alone stupid questions! Carl barely have time to go elking anymore. Ask again and Carl squish!

Q: Conrad?
CARL: Carla name for relative lost in moose stampede.

1. $125K Taipei Final - Babos d. Doi
Babos is now one of nine women who've won both WTA and 125 Series singles titles.
2. Mexico City Grade A Final - Evgeniya Levashova/Anna Blinkova d. Katie Swan/Sonya Kenin
So, Swan was a two-time loser in Mexico City this weekend. I sure hope she doesn't take it personally and decide to join the Cult of Trump or anything.
3. $125K Taipei 1st Rd. - Date-Krumm d. Tig
KDK lives!!!!!
4. $10K Gulbarga Final - Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal/Karman Thandi d. Prerna Bhambri/Kanika Vaidya
...1-6/6-3 [10-7].
17-year old Thandi, the junior Future Star winner at last year's WTA Finals extravaganza, wins her first professional title along with her fellow Indian teenager.
5. $10K Antalya Final - Ekaterine Gorgodze d. Elena Rybakina
16-year old Hordette Rybakina didn't win her first title, but she did reach the final in just her third career ITF event and defeated #1-seeded Dia Evtimova en route to the championship match. Rybakina defeated Claire Liu and Charlotte Robillard-Millette in this summer's U.S. Open girls competition. There have been a lot of young Russians winning and/or playing for junior slam titles the last couple of years. 2016 is coming up soon. I'm just sayin'.

Q: You always mention "elking," Carl. What IS it, anyway?
CARL: What "elking?" WHAT "ELKING?!" Carl world champion elker. You not. If never go elking never understand. Carl do drawing to show, but Carl know only confuse.

$100K Tokyo QF - Nara d. Varatchaya Wongteanchai
It was that sort of week for tennis sister results.

Q: Carl, is Carol as cool as she seems? And can I wear your dad's old police hat if I ask nicely?

I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that Caro posted a photo of herself and Anna Wintour. Not. :)

Not quite sure what we are looking at?? #lastnight #courtside #annawintour

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

I hope she's not injured or anything, because according to what we've learned from the USTA this means that she's faking and is actually perfectly healthy. You can't eat popcorn and be injured. Everybody knows that.

?? #nottalented

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Q: Carl, have you met Galileo West of ATP Backspin? Do you like him better than Todd?
CARL: Carl like Galileo. Might take elking one day. But Carl not sure if legal for Australians to elk. Carl took Dasha Gavrilova elking a few weeks ago. But she still some Russian in her. Elking VERY big in Russia. Dasha get Carl because Carl get Dasha sense of humor.

Q: Carl, what's your dream job?
CARL: Coach of Simona. Carl expect call sometime in 2016. Carl teach Simona to squish.

#25 Jelena Jankovic (Nanchang)
#35 Caroline Garcia (Limoges)
#71 Zheng Saisai (Dalian)
#82 Yaroslava Shvedova (Hua Hin)

**2015 WTA $125 SERIES FINALS**
NANCHANG: Jelena Jankovic/SRB d. Chang Kai-Chen/TPE
DALIAN: Zheng Saisai/CHN d. Julia Glushko/ISR
LIMOGES: Caroline Garcia/FRA d. Louisa Chirico/USA
HUA HIN: Yaroslava Shvedova/KAZ d. Naomi Osaka/JPN
TAIPEI: Timea Babos/HUN d. Misaki Doi/JPN

**2015 $100K FINALS**
MIDLAND: Tatjana Maria/GER d. Louisa Chirico/USA
CAGNES-SUR-MER: Carina Witthoeft/GER d. Tatjana Maria/GER
TRNAV: Danka Kovinic/MNE d. Margarita Gasparyan/RUS
MARSEILLE: Monica Niculescu/ROU d. Pauline Parmentier/FRA
CONTREXVILLE: Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU d. Yulia Putintseva/KAZ
VANCOUVER: Johanna Konta/GBR d. Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
BIARRITZ: Laura Siegemund/GER d. Romina Oprandi/SUI
NANJING: Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE d. Yulia Putintseva/KAZ
POITIERS: Monica Niculescu/ROU d. Pauline Parmentier/FRA
TOKYO: Zhang Shuai/CHN d. Nao Hibino/JPN

2013 WTA Final: Stosur d. Azarenka
2013 WTA Doubles Final: Kops-Jones/Spears d. HC.Chan/Husarova
15 Singles Top Seeds: Wickmayer/Maria

Jaksic d. #6 Glushko
#2 Maria d. #3 Jovanovski
Jaksic d. #2 Maria

...CARLSBAD -- CARLISNOTBAD! No Dasha in Carlsbad because never go where insult friend Carl. Carl would pick BoJo, but Carl not sure Bojo show up. Carl no forget -- Jovanovski go to wrong Carlsbad Carlisnotbad four years ago! So Carl pick OTHER Serb. Carl may not be right... but Carl know picks probably better than whatever Todd would have said.

TS: Unfortunately, he may be right! Thanks for checking in, Carl. (I know he's not reading this... but Carla would be angry with me if I didn't say that.)

Anyway, the Top Performances edition of the 2015 Backspin Awards has been posted. Next up: Matches of the Year.

(Oh, and while I thought the case for "Ms. Backspin" was closed months ago... well, on second thought, that might not necessarily be the case. So stay tuned!)

Meanwhile, just for the record, Kiki is at it again...

And so am I. So... another Serena's 1st Round U.S. Open Victim Update. (Note: Diatchenko won last year's $125K event in Taipei.)

"Just a girl on a bench, drinkin' coffee." Haha. Yeah, sure. ;)

The rare quiet Sunday morning #instapic

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

And... scene.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

This USTA nonsense is exactly what insurance companies do to "catch" injured claimants as they "fake" it. He took out his garbage! She raked her leaves! Fakes! When you have chronic pain, some days you can rake your leaves, and some days you can't get out of bed. I guess the USTA is astounded that Genie isn't dizzy 24/7. Right.

Funny thing: Only yesterday, I was wondering if we were ever going to hear from Carl, and here he is! And he is a (cave)man with a plan--Simona needs some squishing lessons asap.

Tue Nov 24, 09:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

:D I bet Simona would be a champion elker!

About the Bouchard thing... I wonder where the WTA is in all of this? Have they said anything at all? I'm sure they won't want to get involved publicly, but you have to wonder if something might have been said/done if Allaster (a fellow Canadian, no less) was still in charge... at least a word of support at some point, considering how the WTA has used Bouchard as a promotional tool since her '14 success.

Or maybe not. I guess it'd just look a little WORSE if she was still there and the player was left to fend for herself against the USTA.

Wed Nov 25, 12:58:00 AM EST  

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