Wk.6- And the
Vets Dream Teamers Shall Inherit the Earth
Hey, you don't win
The Dream lives on.
*WEEK 6 CHAMPIONS*
ST.PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (Premier $688K; HCI)
S: Roberta Vinci/ITA def. Belinda Bencic/SUI 6-4/6-3
D: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND) d. Vera Dushevina/Barbora Krejcikova 6-3/6-1
KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN (Int'l $427K; HCO)
S: Venus Williams/USA def. Misaki Doi/JPN 6-4/6-2
D: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) d. Eri Hozumi/Miyu Kato (JPN/JPN) 6-4/6-3
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
...it's bound to happen quite often this season, so I suppose this will just the first of what will be several times when the PoW award is a shared experience for the Dream Teamers. While no other players or duos have yet to reach multiple tour level doubles finals in 2016, Hingis and Mirza have so far won FOUR titles this season. The latest came in St.Petersburg, where they overcame a stern effort from Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Arantxa Parra-Santonja in a 7-5/6-7(6) [10-6] semifinal before taking out Dushevina/Krejcikova in straight sets to run their winning streak to forty matches (18-0 in '16, 19-0 for Hingis counting her FC win), the longest string of doubles victories on tour since Jana Novotna & Helena Sukova won forty-four straight in 1990. The span now includes NINE straight titles, and with the one-year anniversary of their pairing still a couple of weeks off Hingis & Mirza now sport a 13-1 record in singles finals as a duo. Why, this run has gone on for so long that even Martina is having a hard time keeping the numbers straight. Of course, maybe she's just a few weeks ahead when it comes to that "elusive" tenth straight title.
Until next time...
RISERS: Belinda Bencic/SUI & Misaki Doi/JPN
...days after leading the Swiss to the Fed Cup semifinals in Leipzig, Bencic was in St.Petersburg, sometimes suddenly bouncing in and out of form (and mood, as she admitted when questioned about a particularly volatile on-court coaching session with her dad) while reaching her sixth career tour singles final after putting up wins over Annika Beck (who saw the Swiss Rock's FC power at close range), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (from a set down vs. the indoor court-loving Russian) and Daria Kasatkina (dealing the home fans a second straight disappointing blow) before losing in straight sets to an aggressive Roberta Vinci. Still, just reaching the final made Bencic the fifth Swiss (fourth Swiss-born) woman to reach the Top 10, as she's up to #9 this week. A month shy of her 19th birthday, she's the youngest player in the Top 10 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
Top 10 be like pic.twitter.com/N66aFu7Hzx— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) February 13, 2016
TOP 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ??????????— Belinda Bencic (@BelindaBencic) February 13, 2016
In Melbourne, 24-year old Doi came THIS CLOSE to changing history when she held a MP against eventual AO champ Angelique Kerber. Back in action for the first time since that 1st Round match, Doi reached the Kaohsiung championship match -- the third WTA/WTA 125 final of her career, all since last October -- with wins over Kristyna Pliskova, Magda Linette and Hsieh Su-Wei. Up to a career-best #52 this week, Doi edges past Nao Hibino to once again become the highest-ranked Japanese woman. Hmmm, I hope Doi plays Elina Svitolina soon... just to see if she raises her game a little bit more for the occasion. (See below -- but it should be noted that Doi's idol was one La Petit Taureau... hint, hint.)
SURPRISES: Han Xinyun/CHN & Miyu Kato/JPN
...in a bit of "clean-up" from last week, the first half of the "Surprise" award goes to Han, who seems to be showing up here quite often as of late. After winning the Asia/Pacific AO Wild Card tournament last December, Han has since claimed her first WTA doubles title and notched her first career MD slam victory in Melbourne. In Week 5, she picked up her biggest-ever singles title in the $75K challenger in Launceton, Australia with a 6-1/6-1 victory in the final over Alla Kudryavtseva. In Kaohsiung, 21-year old Kato not only made it through qualifying, but she also got her first career MD tour victory when she defeated Sherazad Reix in the 1st Round. Perhaps playing on an adrenaline rush, she then joined with Eri Hozumi, a FC star for Japan a week ago, to reach her first tour doubles final (losing to the Chan sisters).
VETERANS: Venus Williams/USA & Roberta Vinci/ITA
...Venus, who turns 36 in June, added her name once again to the "Oldest WTA Titlist" list (for the record, she now holds three of the top six spots in the Open era) with her third title since last fall, claiming the inaugural tour event in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with five straight sets wins, the last four over Ula Radwanska, Anastasija Sevastova, Yulia Putintseva and Misaki Doi to grab career title #49. After opening up her season 0-2, Venus has now strung together seven straight victories.
In St.Petersburg, "youngster" Vinci (33 this coming week) won her tenth career title, but her first since 2013 (she lost four straight finals from 2014-15, after winning nine of her first ten from 2007-13). Of course, it wasn't a breeze. After an opening win over Yanina Wickmayer, she had to stage multiple comebacks against Timea Babos in the QF. The Hungarian led 5-2 in the 1st, but Vinci prevailed in a TB. In the 3rd, Babos served at 5-4, then led 4-2 in the TB only to see the Italian manage to advance. In the semis, Vinci fell behind 3-0 to Ana Ivanovic in the opening set before winning in straights. Oddly enough, the final against new Top 10er Belinda Bencic proved to be a more straightforward affair, as the Italian used the same sort of aggressive variety that she utilized to take down Serena Williams at the U.S. Open to put down the teenager in two sets (Bencic will be seeing those passing shots in her nightmares, but then probably forget about them once she wakes up -- she seems to be able to turn it on and off, after all). After previously announcing that '16 would likely be her final season, but since then winning her biggest title and being on the cusp of her first Top 10 ranking (apparently, it'll happen next week unless CSN reaches the Dubai semis) she now seems to be starting the process of walking back such declarations.
Interviewers tells Vinci she should play 2-3 more years. She wags her finger no: “Maybe one more. But maybe."— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 14, 2016
COMEBACKS: Ashleigh Barty/AUS & Kateryna Kozlova/UKR
...saying, "Tennis just makes sense to me," after a year and a half away, during which time her activities included a stint in a professional cricket league, the now 19-year old Barty returned to tennis last week. She picked up a title, too. In the $25K challenger in Perth, Barty teamed with fellow Aussie Jessica Moore to win the doubles title, defeating fellow Sheilas Alison Bai & Abbie Myers in a 10-8 3rd set TB in the final. The last time Barty played in a final was in Birmingham in 2014, just weeks before her most recent tour-level event at Wimbledon. "I'm starting from scratch and that's no worries at all," Barty says.
Great week with Jess! Pretty cool to be back on the winners list first tournament in. Pumped for next week 👊🏽🏆 #2.0 pic.twitter.com/0UQVohZ4r7— Ash Barty (@ashbar96) February 14, 2016
Kozlova, who served a reduced six-month suspension last season after testing positive for a banned stimulant (which had been provided by a doctor), qualified in St.Petersburg with wins over Vera Dushevina, Maryna Zanevska and #1 Q-seed Laura Siegemund. Even more impressively, she knocked off Barbora Strycova and Elena Vesnina in the main draw before being shut down fairly handily by Ana Ivanovic in what was her first career Premier level QF.
FRESH FACES: Daria Kasatkina/RUS & Yulia Putintseva/KAZ
...being "cool," just like coach Vlado Platenik always tells her to be, is working wonders for the latest Russian wonder. 18-year old Kasatkina, a week after helping to record Russia's only point in a 3-1 Fed Cup loss to the Dutch, reached her second career tour singles semifinal in St.Petersburg, losing out there to fellow 18-year old Bencic after a week that saw her defeat the likes of Kirsten Flipkens, Laura Siegemund (a lucky loser, something the Hordette knows a little about) and Dominika Cibulkova in three sets. She seems to rise to the occasion on home soil, having reached the Moscow SF (where she also won the doubles w/ Elena Vesnina) in just her sixth pro MD appearance last fall. This week Kasatkina jumps from #63 to a new career-high of #45, joining Bencic as the only teens in the Top 50. Beware the Excited Kasatkina?
In Kaohsiung, 21-year old Kazakh (and former Russian) Putintseva reached her second career WTA singles semi with victories over Marina Melnikova, Miyu Kato and Stefanie Voegele. She's up to a career-best #57 this week.
DOWN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...the 2016 season hasn't been kind to Wozniacki, with the latest hit coming in the form of a 2nd Round loss in St.Petersburg which included a Dominika Cibulkova shot wrongly called out when Caro was down a set and 5-3. The call was overruled by chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph, but then he awarded the point to the Slovak instead of replaying it, though Wozniacki had returned the ball in court during the interrupted rally. Naturally, this set off a heated dispute which seemed to spark an angry Wozniacki's play (sounds familiar, see summer/fall of '14). She saved four MP before eventually losing in straight sets. The Dane has now failed to reach the Round of 16 at ten of her last thirteen events. Having subsequently pulled out of Dubai, the new world #19 is pretty much assured of soon falling out of the Top 20 for the first time in over five and a half years (this week will be her 290th straight week, behind only Aga Radwanska's 417 amongst active Top 20 streaks) considering she has upcoming '15 points losses/defenses from results in Dubai (SF), Doha (QF) and Kuala Lumpur (champion). She's 3-3 on the season. Now, I had predicted at the start of the season that she'd fall outside the Top 20 before beginning the long climb back into the Top 10 by the end of the season. But, well, we shall see. But, hey, at least the Dane still has Sports Illustrated to keep her mood afloat. It was announced this weekend that she's in the upcoming swimsuit issue yet again, this time as a body paint model along with fellow athletes Lindsey Vonn and Ronda Rousey. Of course, I'm sure Caro will manage to remind us of that on various social media platforms for the next twelve months or so... like, about a million times (I'm being conservative w/ that number, of course).
And so it begins... Of course, in retrospect, she was actually likely consciously dropping hints quite a few months ago...
Q: Would you ever consider doing Swimsuit again?— Gaspar Lança (@gasparlanca) August 25, 2015
Wozniacki: "I definitely would. [...] Maybe we should try chocolate body paint!"
ITF PLAYERS: Naomi Broady/GBR, Angelica Moratelli/ITA and Sofya Zhuk/RUS
...a bit more backtracking here, as Broady gets a share of the honor for her Week 5 win in Midland, Michigan in the season's $100K challenger. Finally hitting her stride for the first time since the "Ostapenko Incident" in Auckland, the Brit knocked off Nicole Gibbs, Jovana Jaksic, Madison Brengle (#1 seed) and Shelby Rogers before outlasting Robin Anderson 6-7(6)/6-0/6-2 in the former UCLA Bruin's biggest final ever. Broady's now gone 5-1 in her last six singles finals after losing seven straight from 2010-14. She also reached the doubles final in Midland with Rogers. The week lifted her into the Top 100 for the first time.
As for Week 6, 21-year old Italian Moratelli claimed a circuit-best third title of the year (her second in two weeks) in the $10K event in Hammamet, Tunisia. Ranked #775, she upset, in order, the #4, #6, #1 and #5 (Pastry Margot Yerolymos in a 2 & 2 final) seeds in the event. In Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt it was 2015 Wimbledon junior champ Sofya Zhuk who emerged with her second career title (first since '14). In her second final of the season, the 16-year old Hordette defeated two 19-year olds in her final outings, Russian Varvara Flink in the semis then Bulgarian Julia Terziyska in the final.
JUNIOR STARS: Jaimee Fourlis/AUS, Georgiana Andreea Craciun/ROU and Chiraz Bechri/TUN
...every time you turn your head, by the time you look back the Aussie Sheila corps have added another young achiever to the mix. Well, there they go again. 16-year old Fourlis, ranked #950 on the WTA computer, won her first career pro singles title at the $25K challenger in Perth, going from qualifier to champion in the span of a few days. In the main draw, the teenager knocked off #6-seeded Nigina Abduraimova, Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, Anastasia Pivovarova and #5 Jang Su-jeong in a 3rd set TB in the final.
So proud of @jaimeef17 !!! She just won her first 25k in Perth from qualifying! Give this girl a follow too ;)— Daria Gavrilova (@Daria_gav) February 14, 2016
Meanwhile, on the junior level, 16-year old Craciun won the Grade 2 Trofuel D. Sturdza girls event in Moldova, defeating Russian Junior Fed Cup star Vlada Koval 4-6/6-3/7-5 in the final. In the B2 African Closed Championship, 17-year old Tunisian Bechri defeated four seeded girls en route to the title -- #10, #4, #1 Innes Ibbou of Algeria (who retired down 7-5/1-0 in the semis) and #3-seeded Egyptian Lamis Alhussein Abdel Aziz in the championship match.
DOUBLES: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE)
...a week after winning the deciding doubles match in Taiwan's Promotional Playoff tie against Japan in Thailand, the sisters came back home to Taiwan and won the title in the inaugural WTA event in Kaohsiung, their sixth tour-level win together. This was the Chans' eleventh WTA/WTA 125 final together (they're undefeated in three additional ITF finals, too), and the ninth as a pair just since the spring of '14, which would be a wonderful stat unless, well, you know SOME PEOPLE didn't laugh at such a number and time span these days. After a disappointing January (5-3), the Chans have now gone 6-1 to up their record to 35-6 against non-Dream Teamers since last summer's event in Toronto. They're 1-5 vs. the you-know-who pair during the span. Madonna once sang that "second best is never enough," but in the era of the Dream Team...
1. St.Petersburg Final - Vinci d. Bencic
...6-4/6-3. With fourteen years separating them, naturally, it was Vinci who made as if time was short. She jumped out to an early break lead, only to see Bencic knot the score at 4-4 in the 1st. But from there the veteran pulled away, ending with 32 winners to just 12 unforced errors, and throwing in five aces on the day. Maybe she was thinking about all that during that post-match ceremony.
When everyone's all loved up on Valentine's Day and you're just there like pic.twitter.com/3RBs8uZY3P— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) February 14, 2016
Or maybe she was thinking of... umm, this:
When someone challenges you to a round of Sumo Tennis pic.twitter.com/EEfC8PPtqG— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) February 5, 2016
2. St.Petersburg QF - Vinci d. Babos
...7-6(3)/4-6/7-6(4). Babos lost both the 1st and 3rd sets in tie-breaks after seemingly having commanding early leads. Advantages of 5-2 in the 1st, then serving for the match up 5-4 in the 3rd before holding a 4-2 lead in the eventual deciding tie-break, weren't big enough for the Hungarian. This one also included an immediate nominee in the Worst Challenge Ever competition:
As Jankovic is relaxing, Vinci wisely used that to win 'The Worst Challenge of The Year' award against Babos today. pic.twitter.com/Slk7DE7X2i— Ognjen Mandic (@SerbOzy) February 12, 2016
3. St.Petersburg 1st Rd. - Siegemund (LL) d. Mladenovic
...1-6/7-5/6-1. This is why, in most cases, maybe you shouldn't race off to play an event just a few days after an emotional Fed Cup weekend. With few exceptions, you're just not likely to be at your best.
4. Kaohsiung 1st Rd. - Vekic d. Riske
...4-6/7-6(5)/6-3. This was Vekic's first MD win of the season, and it took her coming back from Riske serving for the match at 6-5 in the 2nd set (but being broken at love) to finally do it.
5. Kaohsiung 2nd Rd. - Sevastova d. Vekic
...7-5/2-6/7-5. Maybe it was the shock of actually winning one round earlier? After escaping in her opening match, Vekic gave this one away after leading 4-0 in the 3rd.
6. St.Petersburg 1st Rd. - Gasparyan d. Jovanovski
...6-1/6-2. So far in 2016, BoJo is 0-4 and has won a TOTAL of seven games in those four matches. Hey, at least she didn't get bageled this time -- she's lost four 6-0 sets (half of the eight she's played) already this season.
7. St.Petersburg 1st Rd. - Wickmayer d. Ostapenko 6-4/6-3
Dubai Q2 - Mattek-Sands d. Ostapenko 6-3/6-3
...while Broady has righted herself since that incident in Auckland, the same can't be said for the 18-year old Latvian. She's gone 2-6 since (1-2 of that in Fed Cup zone play), with only a single qualifying round win this weekend in Dubai in a tour level event.
8. St.Petersburg SF - Bencic d. Kasatkina
...6-4/6-3. Unlike that post-match meeting Ostapenko had with Broady last month, these two Top 50 18-year olds had quite a different reaction at the net.
9. St.Petersburg 2nd Rd. - Cibulkova d. Wozniacki
...6-4/7-5. After the "questionable" decision to hand a point on an overturned call to Cibulkova with the Slovak up 5-3 in the 2nd, Wozniacki saved four MP and got a break to get back on serve. Ultimately, Cibulkova served out the match a few games later. Now, if only Caro can carry over that anger/urgency to her next event maybe it won't be too late for it to matter.
Caroline Wozniacki loses match that featured the chair umpire awarding a point to her opponent for no reason https://t.co/izs0gJEuaq— Deadspin (@Deadspin) February 12, 2016
10. $10K Antalya Final - Anne Schaefer d. Sofia Kvatsabaia
...6-3/6-1. The 28-year old German, ranked #225, wins her second challenger of the season, and the 20th of her career. The #1 seed, Schaefer defeated the #7, #5 and #4 seeds en route to the title.
HM- Dubai Q2 - Friedsam d. Wang Qiang
...7-6(2)/2-6/7-6(6). The German who nearly upset Aga Radwanska in Melbourne, only to cramp up and stumble before the finish line, managed to outlast her opponent in three sets this time around, even saving MP along the way. Of course, defeating Wang is old hat for Friedsam -- she defeated her in straights in the 2nd Round of the Australian Open, too.
When you spent too much time watching the St. Petersburg cheerleaders https://t.co/0hibnFhD98— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) February 12, 2016
Bencic down 0-3. Tense coaching timeout ensues. pic.twitter.com/RQC9T9oudF— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) February 14, 2016
When you know you're gonna be on WTAreactions pic.twitter.com/vA6Lm1cPBH— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) February 13, 2016
Dustin Brown showtime!pic.twitter.com/6SdJObIft1— Tribun Dergi (@tribundergi) February 11, 2016
1. Kaohsiung 1st Rd. - Doi d. Kristyna Pliskova 6-3/6-4
Kaohsiung SF - Doi d. Hsieh Su-Wei
Kaohsiung Final - Venus Williams d. Doi 6-4/6-2
...Doi didn't think she was going to go 3-0 vs. sisters last week, did she?
2. Kaohsiung 2nd Rd. - Venus Williams d. Ula Radwanska
...6-4/6-2. Somewhat surprisingly, Venus has lost five times to the Radwanska sisters in sixteen career match-ups. She's 8-4 vs. Aga, and 3-1 vs. Ula.
3. Kaohsiung Final - Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Hozumi/Kato
...6-4/6-3. The Chan sisters' six career titles as a duo are twice as many as the third-most titles won by a pair of sibling duos on the WTA's all-time list. We know which sisters are first on the list, of course... and as long as the Dream Team are around the Chans aren't likely to win often enough to get close to them, either.
4. Kaohsiung 1st Rd. - Minella d. Naomi Osaka
...6-2/7-6(4). Hold off on sizing the crown for Naomi's head for a little while longer.
5. Kaohsiung QF - Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok d. Kristina Kucova/Sevastova
...7-6(9)/4-6 [10-4]. I hope the other three didn't spend the "down time" between points exchanging stories about what it's like to be an athlete in a sport that also includes your sister. Sevastova would have been conspicuously silent.
**2016 WTA TITLES w/o LOSING A SET**
BRISBANE - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
SHENZHEN - Aga Radwanska, POL
AUCKLAND - Sloane Stephens, USA
KAOHSIUNG- Venus Williams, USA
KAOHSIUNG - Chan/Chan, TPE/TPE
**WTA FINALS - 2014-16**
13...Serena Williams (12-1)
11...Angelique Kerber (5-6)
11...Karolina Pliskova (3-8)
10...Simona Halep (5-5)
8...Maria Sharapova (6-2)
8...Petva Kvitova (6-2)
8...VENUS WILLLIAMS (5-3)
7...Aga Radwanska (5-2)
7...Ana Ivanovic (4-3)
6...BELINDA BENCIC (2-4)
6...Caroline Wozniacki (2-4)
**OLDEST 2016 WTA CHAMPIONS**
35y,8m - VENUS WILLIAMS, USA (Kaohsiung)
35y,4-5m - MARTINA HINGIS, SUI (4 doubles titles)
32y,362d - ROBERTA VINCI, ITA (St.Petersburg)
30y,6m,3w - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (Sydney)
**ALL-TIME WTA SISTERS DOUBLES TITLES**
21...Serena & Venus Williams, USA
6...CHAN HAO-CHING & YUNG-JAN, TPE
3...Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
3...Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
**CAREER WTA SINGLES TITLES - active**
69 - Serena Williams, USA
49 - VENUS WILLIAMS, USA
43 - Martina Hingis, SUI
35 - Maria Sharapova, RUS
23 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
18 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
18 - Aga Radwanska, POL
17 - Petra Kvitova, CZE
16 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
15 - Ana Ivanovic, SRB
15 - Jelena Jankovic, SRB
13 - Nadia Petrova, RUS
12 - Vera Zvonareva, RUS
11 - Simona Halep, ROU
11 - Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
11 - Patty Schnyder, SUI
10 - ROBERTA VINCI, ITA
**ALL-TIME TOP 10 SINGLES PLAYERS, by nation/year of debut**
1990 Manuela Maleeva (as SUI; original Top 10 debut in '84 for BUL)
1996 Martina Hingis
1998 Patty Schnyder
2015 Timea Bacsinszky
2016 Belinda Bencic
2009 Flavia Pennetta
2010 Francesca Schiavone
2012 Sara Errani
2016 Roberta Vinci????
Mini me????The most creative and cutest gift for St.Valentines day?????? Wish love to all of you?? pic.twitter.com/WYyathVArb— Elena Vesnina (@EVesnina001) February 14, 2016
DUBAI, UAE (Premier $1.734m/HCO)
15 Final: Halep d. Ka.Pliskova
15 Doubles Final: Babos/Mladenovic d. Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro
16 Singles Top Seeds: Halep/Muguruza
Garcia d. Gavrilova
#6 Ka.Pliskova d. #7 Vinci
#6 Ka.Pliskova d. Garcia
...what does one win over a (questionable) Petra Kvitova give you? Well, confidence, apparently, since citing how she had played well as a reason (though needing to try to defend all her points after winning Dubai and Indian Wells, as well as reaching a semi in Miami, last year probably has SOMETHING to do with it), Halep decided to delay her nasal surgery indefinitely after getting that face-saving Day 2 victory over the Czech on Fed Cup weekend (after having lost to Karolina Pliskova a day earlier). As it's turned out, the Dubai defending champ is one of the few players who DIDN'T pull out of this event, so she's the #1 seed... though not necessarily the favorite even in a diminished field. The Swarmette's state of mind may be tested quickly, as her first match will be against either Ana Ivanovic or Daria Gavrilova, so we'll see if the surgery might get rescheduled yet again if she were to lose her opening match this week. Meanwhile, Bencic -- scheduled to play for the seventh straight week this season, so a sudden "injury" wouldn't be a shock -- is also in the top half of the draw, while the intrigue in the bottom half -- aside from a possible 2nd Round match-up between former doubles partners Vinci and Sara Errani -- is quite layered. Kvitova is back in action after her 0-2 FC weekend, while Ekaterina Makarova pokes her head back out into the sunlight after Russia's devastating FC loss to the Dutch. Kiki Mladenovic is present, and could face Pliskova, who fell to Halep in last year's final. The #2 seed is Garbine Muguruza, and she may face off with Elina Svitolina (w/ new "team member" Justine Henin in tow for the first time this week) in the 2nd Round.
Admittedly, I'm going a bit out on the "edges" of the draw for these picks, but after getting just one champion prediction correct so far this season (thanks, Venus), I figure, why not? The chances for a hardly-to-form final four here seems high. And, anyway, it's time for both Pliskova and Garcia to translate their Fed Cup prowess more fully to the regular tour, isn't it? Well, here's their chance.
RIO de JANEIRO, BRAZIL (Int'l $227K/RCO)
15 Final: Errani d. AK.Schmiedlova
15 Doubles Final: Bonaventure/Peterson d. Begu/Irigoyen
16 Singles Top Seeds: Pereira/Larsson
#1 Pereira d. #7 Maria
#2 Larsson d. (WC) Cirstea
#1 Pereira d. #2 Larsson
...well, Pereira gets her chance to win in Rio, which surely isn't likely to happen later this summer. And with Florianopolis soon falling off the WTA schedule, after the Olympics one has to wonder if this Rio event will eventually suffer the same fate. So Teliana needs to seize the moment while it lasts.
And, of course, in the wake of the Chinese New Year, we have to be served a small dose of Na. Li Na, that is.
All for now.