Saturday, January 02, 2016

2016 Pre-Game Post: Ready, Set... Play

Well... the new season has apparently slipped in through the back door in the middle of the night. Hopefully, no innocents were hurt in the process. So now, please, check your weapons at the door.

Yes, 2016 is here.

We know the latest WTA season is ready to begin because, well... mantras are in place.

On-site practice sessions are underway, and "impromptu meetings" are brief, but exciting.

But what about seeing the sights? Check ✓.

Photobombing some BFFs? Check ✓.

What about a Serena Williams U.S. Open 1st Round Victim Update? Cheeeeck ✓.

Of course, NEW games will also be learned over the course of the long season.

But, at least, we know that Simona Halep is all smiles again. At least for now.

Bring on the laces!

Dasha is ready to jump into things with both feet...

How's your arvo? ????

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Both of her... err, I mean, all four of them. Whatever.

**HOPMAN CUP CHAMPIONS - since 2001**
2001 Switzerland (Hingis/Federer)
2002 Spain (Sanchez-Vicario/Robredo)
2003 United States (S.Williams/Blake)
2004 United States (Davenport/Blake)
2005 Slovak Republic (Hantuchova/Hrbaty)
2006 United States (Raymond/Dent)
2007 Russia (Petrova/Tursunov)
2008 United States (S.Williams-Shaughnessy/Fish)
2009 Slovak Republic (Cibulkova/Hrbaty)
2010 Spain (Martinez-Sanchez/Robredo)
2011 United States (Mattek-Sands/Isner)
2012 Czech Republic (Kvitova/Berdych)
2013 Spain (Medina-Garrigues/Verdasco)
2014 France (Cornet/Tsonga)
2015 Poland (A.Radwanska/Janowicz)

8...Serena Williams, USA
3...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
3...Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
3...Patty Schnyder, SUI
2...Ana Ivanovic, SRB
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE
2...Aga Radwanska, POL
2...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Venus Williams, USA
2...Zheng Jie, CHN
NOTE: Hingis won 5 singles titles

2002 Venus Williams, USA
2003 Serena Williams, USA
2004 Lindsay Davenport/USA, Eleni Daniilidou/GRE (co-PoW)
2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2007 Dinara Safina, RUS
2008 Li Na, CHN
2009 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2010 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Serena Williams, USA
2014 Serena Williams, USA
2015 Maria Sharapova/RUS, Simona Halep/ROU (co-PoW)

**CAREER WEEK 1 TITLES - active**
2...Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
2...Patty Schnyder, SUI
2...Serena Williams, USA
2...Venus Williams, USA
1...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
1...Ana Ivanovic, SRB
1...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
1...Kaia Kanepi, EST
1...Petra Kvitova, CZE
1...Aga Radwanska, POL
1...Lucie Safarova, CZE
1...Maria Sharapova, RUS
1...Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
1...Zheng Jie, CHN
NOTE: Srebotnik won 1 singles title

**FINAL 2015 GIRLS TOP 20**
1. Dalma Galfi, HUN
2. Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
3. Katie Swan, GBR
4. Bianca Andreescu, CAN
5. Anna Blinkova, RUS
6. Tereza Mihalikova, SVK
7. Usue Arconada, USA
8. Sonya Kenin, USA
9. Charlotte Robillard-Millette, CAN
10. Kayla Day, USA
11. Miriam Kolodziejova, CZE
12. Anna Kalinskaya, RUS
13. Francesca Di Lorenzo, USA
14. Evgeniya Lavashova, RUS
15. Vera Lapko, BLR
16. Tamara Zidansek, SLO
17. Katharina Hobgarski, GER
18. Zheng Wushuang, CHN
19. Julieta Estable, ARG
20. Pranjala Yadlapalli, IND

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (Premier $886K/hard outdoor)
15 Singles Final: Sharapova d. Ivanovic
15 Doubles Final: Hingis/Lisicki d. Garcia/Srebotnik
16 Top Seeds: Halep/Muguruza

#3 Sharapova d. Azarenka
#2 Muguruza d. #4 Kerber
#2 Muguruza d. #3 Sharapova

...on the first day of qualifying for 2016 in Brisbane, #1-seeded Tsvetana Pironkova (and #3 Daniela Hantuchova) were both upset, so if that's an omen for what will happen in this event then things could get crazy really fast. There are certainly many opportunities for big names to be shipped out in the blink of a eye here. A year ago, Azarenka opened her season by facing Pliskova. This year, two matches in she could face Halep. Why not? Talk about a quick season barometer. There are some great FIRST Round matches in this event, including JJ/Vinci, Sharapova/Makarova (Sharapova won her first-ever Week 1 title here in '15), Bencic/Errani, Bacsinszky/Pavlyuchenkova (the Swiss def. Kvitova in the Shenzhen SF last year, then lost to Halep in the final), Mladenovic/Cornet and Kerber/Giorgi, with the 2nd Round also making it possible for Week 1 clashes between Muguruza/Schmiedlova and others. So, Sharapova, Halep, Muguruza, Azarenka, Kerber, Bacsinszky, Bencic, JJ, Petko, Cibulkova... sheesh. Needless to say, heading into the Australian Open, this event could give us some IMMEDIATE storylines to chew on next week.

SHENZHEN, CHINA (Int'l $427K/hard outdoor)
15 Singles Final: Halep d. Bacsinszky
15 Doubles Final: Kichenok/Kichenok d. Liang Chen/Wang Yafan
16 Top Seeds: A.Radwanska/Kvitova

#1 A.Radwanska d. #7 Diyas
#2 Kvitova d. Babos
#2 Kvitova d. #1 A.Radwanska a "Backspin Special," Aga faces The Bracelet in the 1st Round. Radwanska likely gets past the Serb, and will have a shot to continue the momentum she picked up on the Asian continent to end '15. The Pole has been successful in the season's opening weeks before, winning back-to-back titles in Auckland and Sydney in '13, then the Hopman Cup a year ago. But Kvitova lurks in the bottom half, perhaps looking for a chance to avenge her WTA Finals loss to Aga. I doubt if the Czech is thinking such thoughts, but a rematch would be quite interesting... especially if Aga were to win again.

Oh, and remember, this is Li Na's home tournament, so Petra has her friend (and, likely, the crowd) behind her.

Li Na Kids Day... how perfect is that?

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (Int'l $227K/hard outdoor)
15 Singles Final: V.Williams d. Wozniacki
15 Doubles Final: Errani/Vinci d. Aoyama/Voracova
16 Top Seeds: V.Williams/Ivanovic

#1 V.Williams d. (WC) Schiavone
#2 Ivanovic d. Kovinic
#1 V.Williams d. #2 Ivanovic Radwanska, Venus opened and closed her '15 season with a title. She's in Auckland to defend her first career title there, and enters as the favorite to do it (she faces Kasatkina in her opening match). AnaIvo has performed fairly well on the AUS/NZL circuit of late and she could surely reclaim the crown she won in 2014. Honestly, though, it'd be more interesting to see the likes of a Stephens or Kovinic emerge from the bottom half of the draw. Caro, last year's runner-up, is down there, too. Yep, I'm covering my eyes and pushing wild card Schiavone (who could face Kuznetsova in the 2nd Round... ooooh, boy) into the semis because this is her last chance to put up the sort of result that could assure her of appearing in a record-tying 62nd straight slam main draw in Melbourne. Embrace the drama.

Meanwhile, in Perth, where Radwanska began her '15 season with a title, Gavrilova is set to officially represent her newly official nation of Australia, while Elina Svitolina has the opportunity to grab a little early-season spotlight (with singles matches on tap vs. Serena and Pliskova).

HOPMAN CUP; PERTH, AUS (team exhibition/indoor)
15 Final: POL (A.Radwanska/Janowicz) d. USA (S.Williams/Isner)
AUS (Gajdosova/Hewitt)[gold]
CZE (Ka.Pliskova/Vesely)
UKR (Svitolina/Dolgopolov)
USA (S.Williams/Sock)
AUS (Gavrilova/Kyrgios)[green]
GER (Lisicki/Zverev)
GBR (Watson/Murray)
FRA (Garcia/de Schepper)

USA d. AUS Green

...but it's difficult to go against Serena, even in a "meaningless" exhibition event. Remember, last year she lost to both Aga and Bouchard (and asked for an espresso while playing Pennetta), yet still made the final with John Isner. Oh, speaking of...

Nope. She's not back. Oh, well.

Anyway, the Americans lost the HC final to the Poles in a deciding mixed doubles match. I like Gavrilova's chances in Group B with Kyrgios, though Murray might be able to carry the Brits to the final like he did in Davis Cup. Either way, the Aussies surely have two excitable duos to give their support. (Hmmm, TWO Australian teams for the first time... why didn't they think of that earlier?)

Well, buckle in. It's all about to get real all over again.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

That French table video is mesmerizing, and looks like it came right off of the Petkorazzi site!

Sat Jan 02, 08:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

both halep and sharapova withdraw with a leg and arm injury respectively.

Tue Jan 05, 12:09:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

...and Serena needed an extra day in Perth, too (so Duval played in her place). Not exactly an auspicious start to the season. :\

On the bright side, maybe Vika's chances in Brisbane just got a little bit better. Though I guess I'll still stick with Muguruza to win, with Azarenka now in final, and Bencic replacing Sharapova in the SF.

Tue Jan 05, 12:33:00 AM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

if vika get passed bencic, i can't wait to see how she reacts playing muguruza with sumyk on the side. should be fun.

Tue Jan 05, 12:41:00 AM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Kvitova retires, Venus and Ana is out in Auckland surprised by the young guns - Woznaiicki survived another young player. I think the establised top 10 players may have to be careful not to lose their positions quite fast MHO.

Tue Jan 05, 11:38:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Leif -

Yes, it's nice to see the young group of players flagged for big '16 jumps ALREADY making moves. Gavrilova, Ostapenko, Kasatkina, even Broady (though AnaIvo getting upset is never a surprise, really -- watch your back, Nigel Sears!) etc. Kovinic and Gasparyan played well in losses, too.

Jo -

Ha! I hadn't thought of that possibility yet (whether it happens this week, or later). Another layer of drama. Go figure. ;)

Vika looks good -- says she's fitter than she's been in 3 years.

On a side note... unfortunately, no Schiavone/Kuznetsova in Auckland. :(

Tue Jan 05, 03:08:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, my Week 1 picks were ON POINT!

Hopman: USA (0-2 so far, with Serena replaced, retired and then withdrawing altogether)

Shenzhen: Kvitova (ret. from 1st Rd.)

Auckland: Venus (lost 1st Rd.)

Brisbane: Muguruza (ret. from 1st Rd.)

Although, I guess you can look at it like this: I was a perfect 0-for-4, with ZERO match wins. Yes!

Don't like Muguruza going out with a plantar fascia problem. Not at all. An awful thing for someone who relies on running around all the time, and something that can linger for month after month, often only getting better with extended rest. Hopefully it's not TOO bad, but it still may make truly contending in Melbourne very difficult... and if she manages to do that, it could adversely impact her entire spring schedule if a lot of AO play only serves to aggravate it even more.

Wed Jan 06, 10:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

There are a lot of interventions for p.f.--getting the right shoes!, sleeping with a splint, using a foot "rocker," doing lots of calf stretching, rolling the plantar area over a frozen water bottle or those little balls. As I mentioned on Twitter, a diagnosis of p.f. is often incorrect (kind of like carpel tunnel syndrome); other foot injuries can mimic p.f. However, I've seen my trainer cure the condition by getting the patient to engage in sled-pushing. I push the sled 3 times a week and it has made my feet (which have become problematic in the last decade, especially with neuromas) incredibly stronger, which really helps me. I have also used some unconventional treatments with great success.

I had a recurring Lister's corn for a while, caused by lack of flexion in my little toe. My doctor wanted to operate, which was out of the question for me. I went to my p.t., who diagnosed arthritis, did some massage and gave me some stretches to do. But then she discovered super-tight muscles in my leg (I had no idea), did massage and ultrasound, and then I had my lmt work on the leg and foot. The pain is gone and the Lister's corn has not returned. I have a bit of flexion in the toe now, apparently just enough to keep things okay. So it was my toe, but it was really my leg! I think a lot of p.f. and similar issues are like that--the actual source has to be found and treated.

Wed Jan 06, 08:57:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hopefully she'll get things taken care of. You just sort of wonder when she thought she could play through it, then found out otherwise. Something's not lining up at the moment... and this isn't a good moment in her career for there to be questions heading into a season.

[Now, to interrupt the news on the Probably/Hopefully Overreacting Tennis Network...]

Sam Crawford. Wow. (Or maybe, "Yikes!")

Wed Jan 06, 11:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

I agree--you do have to wonder. Foot pain is funny, though. Anything--stress, lack of sleep, other illness--can cause it to flare, or to become global. One assumes (not really) that an athlete of her caliber is getting the best treatment possible? Some p.f. is treatment-resistant, though (or it's not really p.f, but some doctor has said that it is). You can sometimes work with a hip injury or an arm injury, but you need your feet to be in top condition. Garbi is a contender to win the AO, but not with bad feet.

Wed Jan 06, 11:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh yeah--forgot--Sam Crawford is going all Kvitova on everyone. Goodness.

Wed Jan 06, 11:56:00 PM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

i actually though garbi would lose in first round based on her first match action, but not thought of retirement. did she sustain during the match or before.

it's one of the strangest start of the season when everyone is hurt or bombed out.

Thu Jan 07, 03:17:00 AM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Only this comment - Mean Machine WOW-ZNIACKI

Thu Jan 07, 03:32:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I believe Muguruza said she was bothered by the injury last week, but thought she could play with it. But it turned out to be too painful. :\

Yes, Caro's started her season great and is one of the few seeds to actually live up to their placement in the draw this week. Just the start she needed!

Thu Jan 07, 11:07:00 AM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

i thought i would never see that day. vika winning so dominantly. well done.

stephens starting well too. 2 matches in a day.

Sat Jan 09, 08:58:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, a lot of nice champion stories to "chew" on. Vika and Sloane, but also Radwanska and Gavrilova (who single-handedly saved a MP in mixed doubles that led helped get AUS/green out of RR and into the final... and then she got a BIG win over Svitolina there, too).

Of some note, all three singles champions went through the week without losing a set. I can't imagine that's happened in one week so many times for quite a few years. There were only seven such runs on tour through the entire '15 season (Sloane did it once then, and Aga twice).

Sat Jan 09, 11:28:00 AM EST  

Post a Comment

<< Home