Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wk.8- A Cat in a Hat is Worth Two in the Backcourt

In Doha, the cats were on a perpetual "hot tin roof..."

Not just once, either. To the point where a "Cat Point" became a thing.

Why, it was enough to even put an Italian on edge (before a certain Pole came along and pushed her over it, of course).

Meanwhile, in Acapulco, the Future got a little bit closer...

Talk about a "cat in a hat"...

DOHA, QATAR (Premier $2.517m; HCO)
S: Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP def. Jelena Ostapenko/LAT 1-6/6-4/6-4
D: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) d. Sara Errani/Carla Suarez-Navarro (ITA/ESP) 6-3/6-3

S: Sloane Stephens/USA def. Dominika Cibulkova/SVK 6-4/4-6/7-6(5)
D: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja (ESP/ESP) d. Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE) 6-0/6-4

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP
...CSN failed to win a singles title in 2015, but her early-season success included runs to finals in Antwerp, Miami and Rome and a career-high ranking of #8 in May. She perhaps suffered for all the work in the back-half of the season, though, as she limped across the finish line with a 6-13 slump that included an eight-match losing streak from June into September. Last week in Doha, the Spaniard at least took care of a bit of that unfinished business, winning just her second tour singles title (she'd been 1-8 in finals), and her first since 2014 in Oeiras. Suarez-Navarro's impressive week -- which also included a trip to the doubles final with Sara Errani -- included wins over Timea Bacsinszky, Elena Vesnina, Aga Radwanska (2 & love) and Jelena Ostapenko in a three-set final secured by CSN after having gotten off to a slow start while dropping the 1st set to the teenager by a 6-1 score. She jumps back into the Top 10 this week from #11, all the way up to a NEW career-high of #6.


RISERS: Sloane Stephens/USA and Zheng Saisai/CHN
...while much of the talk at the start of the season when it came to pupil/coach combos centered on Muguruza/Sumyk and Halep/Cahill, the new duo that has risen to the top of the conversation as a result of actual success -- unlike the other two -- is Sloane Stephens' pairing with Kamau Murray. In their first event together, Stephens grabbed her second career title without dropping a set in Auckland. While her Australian Open didn't go quite as well as she would have liked, Stephens went into Acapulco last week and grabbed career title #3 in her third appearance in a tour singles title. After surviving a three-set 1st Round encounter with Louisa Chirico in which she dropped the opener, Stephens reeled off nine straight sets over Chirico, Olga Govortsova, Naomi Osaka, Yanina Wickmayer and Dominika Cibulkova in the final to take a one set advantage over the Slovak veteran. As it turned out, Stephens was forced to go three sets in the championship match, but she came through with flying colors in the clutch, winning a tight contest in a 3rd set tie-break to run her '16 season record to 11-1, become the first woman to win two singles titles and inch just a little closer (going from #24 to #23) to rejoining the Top 20 after a two-plus season quest for consistency following her '13 Australian Open semifinal result. As it's turned out, "second chance" success has bred only more of the same since Stephens raced to her maiden tour title last summer in Washington. Before that event, she'd been 0-6 in career tour semis. Since then, she's gone a combined 6-0 in semis AND finals. Now she's secured more career singles titles than the likes of Belinda Bencic, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and fellow AO semifinalists Genie Bouchard and Madison Keys, and has equaled the total of Elina Svitolina. Next stop...?
22-year old Zheng has been tennis' woman for all occasions since last spring. Since April '15, she's gone 2-2 in WTA doubles finals, won WTA 125 Series event titles in singles (1) and doubles (2), a pair of $75K challenger crowns in singles (and one in doubles), reached tour-level singles QF in Tokyo and Guangzhou, upset Petra Kvitova (Shenzhen) and Carina Witthoeft (AO) in January and, last week, reached another tour QF in Doha with victories over Varvara Lepchenko, Angelique Kerber (in the German's first tour action since winning in Melbourne) and Genie Bouchard. Her run lifts her past AO quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai (a Week 8 champ, oddly enough -- see below) in the tour rankings, as she's now the highest-ranked Chinese woman. After ongoing season-ending ranking improvements of #162 to #97 to #70 the last three years, Zheng is up to #63 this week.

SURPRISE: Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR
...since the breakout Heart Award-winning 2015 Fed Cup performance in which she put up career-best wins over Heather Watson and Elina Svitolina, 26-year old Buyukakcay had already registered additional victories over the likes of Alexandra Dulgheru, Klara Koukalova, Ana Konjuh and Julia Glushko BEFORE last week. Now, three straight Top 160 season finishes are already being looked to be trumped (small "T") by the Turk in '16, as her Week 8 3rd Round run included yet another career breakthrough, including a 1st Round victory over Lucie Hradecka and a career-best upset of world #12 and defending Doha champ Lucie Safarova in the Czech's long-awaited return to action. Buyukakcay's result lifts her from #162 to #128 this week, just twenty spots behind the career-high (#108) she reached last February.


VETERANS: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja (ESP/ESP), Andrea Petkovic/GER and Aga Radwanska/POL
...the all-33 year old Spanish combo of AMG & APS claimed the doubles crown in Acapulco, winning their second title as a duo in their fifth final together over the past year. They'd lost in three straight final appearances before defeating Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson in straight sets in the championship match. Medina-Garrigues now has twenty-six career WTA doubles crowns, while Parra-Santonja has nine.

Petkovic, a week after notching Dubai wins over Camila Giorgi and Jelena Jankovic en route to the QF, followed up with a Doha SF run that included victories over Ekaterina Makarova, CoCo Vandeweghe and Garbine Muguruza. Unfortunately, the German's nice stretch ended via retirement in her semi vs. Jelena Ostapenko due to the upper leg injury (not knee or ankle, thankfully) that began to noticeably bother her around the time she'd taken a 5-1 1st set lead (and held a SP). From that point, Petko lost seven straight games before finally being forced to throw in the towel after meekly dropping serve to open the 2nd set.

Meanwhile, one of the few exceptions to the burning dumpster fire that has been the WTA Top 10 in recent weeks has been Radwanska. For the past seven months, the Pole has been the model of consistency. With yet another semifinal result in Doha, the world #3 has put up W-1st-SF-W-W-W-SF-SF results since the U.S. Open. Beginning with the start of the grass court season last summer, she's gone 49-12, reached two slam semis and won the WTA Finals title. If she'd been able to win last week in Doha she'd have moved past Angelique Kerber into the #2 ranking, but after previous wins over Kateryna Bondarenko and Monica Niculescu, then a time capsule-worthy, clinic-in-amazing-shotmaking victory over Roberta Vinci, A-Rad's level of play was quite a few levels below normal in her semifinal loss to CSN.

COMEBACKS: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK and Elena Vesnina/RUS
...'15 Achilles surgery has caused Cibulkova's return to the top of the game to take some time. The '14 Australian Open finalist finished that year at #11, but fell to #38 a season ago because of her injury layoff. She arrived in Acapulco last week ranked #66, but rode a resurgent wave into her first final since winning the very same Acapulco event title in '14 a month after her runner-up result in Melbourne. Cibulkova opened with a double-bagel win over Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, then received a walkover from top-seeded Vika Azarenka before defeating Johanna Larsson and Christina McHale to advance to her twelfth career final, where she lost to Sloane Stephens in a 3rd set tie-break. The run only lifts her ranking to #57 this week, though.

Meanwhile, Vesnina qualified in Doha with wins over Ons Jabeur and Naomi Broady, then pulled off MD upsets of Simona Halep (from 7-6/4-1 down) and Caroline Wozniacki (3 sets) to reach her first Premier QF since 2013. In doubles, she and Daria Kasatkina (who teamed to win the Kremlin Cup last fall) ended the 41-match winning streak of Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza to reach the semifinals. The run lifts Vesnina's singles ranking back into the Top 100. The Russian's #111 finish last season brought to an end her nine-year run of Top 100 finishes.
FRESH FACES: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT and Elena Ruse/ROU
...18-year old Ostapenko finally looks to have managed to escape the short-term dark shadow of her controversial Week 1 debacle against Naomi Broady in Auckland, an incident characterized, depending on how you look at it, either by an immature and frustrated reaction on Ostapenko's part after losing a big lead or a vast overreaction in the case of the Brit after the Latvian wasn't defaulted for "throwing"/"letting slip" a racket that hit a ball kid. Or both. And that's not even addressing the post-match confrontation. At any rate, the teenager now looks to have re-assumed the role of "rising star" that she began to fill late last season. In Doha, the #88-ranked Ostapenko arrived thinking she'd have to play qualifying (where Broady lost, by the way), but enough players withdrew to get her into the main draw, where she knocked off Zarina Diyas before notching the biggest win of her career in the 2nd Round over Petra Kvitova (the teenager's second career Top 10 victory), then following that up by knocking out Zheng Saisai and outlasting a retiring Andrea Petkovic to reach her second WTA singles final ('15 Quebec City). After taking the opening set from Carla Suarez-Navarro, Ostapenko proceeded to allow her maiden title to slip gradually away after dropping back-to-back 6-4 sets. Still, she rises to #42 on Monday, having already reached her 2016 season objective of reaching the Top 50 before the calendar has even been flipped over to March.

For the second straight week, 18-year old Swarmette Ruse swept the singles and doubles titles at a $10K challenger in Antalya, Turkey. Ruse just broke into the Top 500 last week, and her third ITF title since December -- which included a three-set win in this weekend's final over Slovenia's Nina Potocnik -- will serve to give her even more momentum as she heads off into the spring
DOWN: Petra Kvitova/CZE, Simona Halep/ROU, Kristina Mladenovic/FRA and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK
...yep, this category is packed once again. Kvitova, for one, at least opened up nicely in Doha with a dominating win over countrywoman and Dubai finalist Barbora Strycova (her 18th straight win over fellow Czechs), but then she yet again returned one round later to turn a 1st set victory over #88 Jelena Ostapenko into another disheartening three-set defeat in which she won just three total games in the final two sets. Kvitova, 2-6 in '16 (and 6-12 since the U.S. Open) falls to #9 in the new rankings.

Not to be outdone, Doha #2-seed Halep lost to another player ranked outside the Top 100 (her third such loss in the past year, with another vs. a #98), falling to Elena Vesnina despite having held a 7-6/4-1 lead. The Romanian dropped eleven of the final twelve games, once again making it very easy to question her decision to indefinitely postpone nasal surgery because she was "playing well" (though the whole basis of that notion was a Fed Cup win over a badly stumbling Kvitova, so make of that what you will), as well as to bring in Darren Cahill as her full-time coach, as the "official" change of their relationship status hasn't exactly shown to have had the slightest positive impact on the Romanian's results. Her slide could pick up even more steam in the next few weeks as her '15 results in Indian Wells (W) and Miami (SF) are set to be defended. Or lost. With five losses in her last six matches, Halep falls to #5 this week.

Meanwhile, because they simply aren't doing enough to continue to be be exempt from this category, Schmiedlova's 1st Round loss in Doha to Yulia Putintseva drops her to 1-5 in WTA action this season, with all five defeats coming in straight sets. Her only "W", as well as her one Fed Cup victory, came in a match in which she had to come back from a set down to get the win (so she's lucky she's not 0-8). Even with her atrocious start, though, she's only dropped to #30 from her '15 season-ending rank of #26. So far. Meanwhile, Mladenovic's poor serving put her into an immediate 5-0 hole in her 1st Round Doha match vs. Strycova. She rebounded somewhat to avoid a whitewash, but she still lost 6-3/6-4 to fall to 3-6 on the season in WTA play (she's also 1-1 in FC). Days after dropping the Dubai doubles final, Kiki & Caroline Garcia lost their opening match in Doha, as well.
ITF PLAYERS: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE and Zhang Shuai/CHN least one of the Pliskova twins is seeing progress. And it's not Karolina, who lost 1 & 1 in the 1st Round in Doha to Margarita Gasparyan. Instead, it's Kristyna, who won the $50K challenger in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland to grab her ninth career ITF crown, defeating Swiss Amra Sadikovic 7-6(4)/7-6(3) in the final. Holding to form, the Czech's huge serve led her charge to the title, as she put in consecutive ace totals of 12, 10, 15, 12 and 19 through each round of the tournament.

Hmmm, well, mission accomplished, I guess. I'm not sure what business #67-ranked, Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shaui had playing a $25K challenger in Rancho Santa Fe (in southern California) this past week rather than taking part in one of the TWO WTA events on the schedule (including one in Mexico), but she at least made her efforts not a TOTAL waste of time, picking up the title in a 1-6/7-5/6-4 victory in the final over Vania King, who'd had five GP opportunities to take a 6-1/4-1 lead in the match. It's the 27-year old Chinese vet's seventeenth career ITF singles crown (she's also claimed single WTA and WTA 125 events in her career). Of some note, King has never won an ITF singles title, with her only pro singles crown (to go along with her combined nineteen doubles titles) being a tour-level win in Bangkok in 2006 when she was just 17.
JUNIOR STARS: Elena Rybakina/RUS and Tereza Mihalikova/SVK one of my pre-season junior slam winner picks, Rybakina wasn't very successful in Melbourne. But the 16-year old Hordette -- the #48-ranked junior -- jumped back into the mix in the Grade 1 Yeltsin Cup held in Kazan, Russia, where the late Russian president (and enthusiastic tennis fan and supporter) spent his childhood years.
The #4-seed, Rybakina defeated #10 Vlada Koval (last year's Jr. Fed Cup star) in the QF, then #1-seed Olesya Pervushina in the semis. A 6-2/6-4 win over #2 Valeriya Zeleva in the final handed Rybakina (below) the title, the biggest of her junior career thus far.
In Sharm El Sheikh it was #9-ranked girl Tereza Mihalikova -- the '15 AO junior champ and '16 finalist -- who improved her career record in pro singles finals to 3-0. The 17-year old Slovak defeated top-seeded Anna Morgina in the semis, then took out 19-year old Russian Flink (in her second straight ITF final, and still looking for her first pro singles crown after returning from injury) 6-1/6-4 in the final.
DOUBLES: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) & Sara Errani/Carla Suarez-Navarro (ITA/ESP)
...with Lucie Safarova's illness taking her doubles combo with Bethanie Mattek-Sands off the board, it was pretty much assumed that the Chan sisters were the SECOND-best doubles team on tour heading into 2016. In recent weeks, they've begun to prove the notion correct. Since securing Taiwan's Fed Cup zone promotion over Japan with a deciding doubles clincher, the sisters have now won back-to-back tour titles to officially slot themselves right behind Hingis/Mirza in the Road to Singapore. Title #7 as a duo (now one-third of the way to the Williamses' all-time sister record of 21) came this weekend in Doha as they ran the NEW tour-best active winning streak to eight matches (15-4 overall in '16) with SF/F victories over Kasatkina/Vesnina and Errani/Suarez-Navarro. Since last summer's event in Toronto, the Chans have gone 39-6 vs. all teams NOT the Dreamers (1-5), who avoided a showdown in the semis with the sisters when their 41-match streak came to an end in the QF.

Errani/CSN didn't win the Doha title, and how much they'll actually play together in '16 is in question (with their respective singles success, and CSN's long-standing partnership with Muguruza a sometimes-option), but it's become pretty clear the last two weeks that they're a force to be reckoned with whenever they DO join forces. A week ago, they knocked off top-seeded Mattek-Sands/Shvedova in Dubai and ultimately reached the SF. In Doha, they knocked off #5-seeded Hlavackova/Hradecka and #2 Mattek-Sands/Shvedova (again) to reach the final.

Just in case Carla and Garbi don't get as much practice as '16 moves along, Spanish FC Captain Conchita Martinez seems to be doing her due diligence and covering all the bases when it comes to finding a back-up Fed Cup doubles team.


It's not being "cocky" if it's true, right?

1. Doha 1st Rd. - Vesnina d. Halep
The #118-ranked Russian trailed 7-6/4-1 before winning eleven of the final twelve games to once again send Halep packing in the opening stages of an event. Halep, perhaps dealing with a calf injury (when isn't there an issue below the knees or above the neck with the Swarmette?) double-faulted to close out the 2nd. You've got to wonder if Cahill's tenure is about to be put "on the clock" before the end of spring... or maybe the official arrival of it?


2. Doha QF - Kasatkina/Vesnina d. Hingis/Mirza
...2-6/6-4 [10-5].
Navratilova/Shriver can rest easy (not that they ever lost any sleep that their 109-match streak was ever REALLY in jeopardy), as the Dream Teamers saw their undefeated stretch end at forty-one matches at the hands of the Kremlin Cup champs.

Hmmm, maybe additional Melanie/Martina hikes are going to have to wait for the offseason?

3. Doha 2nd Rd. - Ostapenko d. Kvitova
Something is rotten here, and Kvitova needs to either grab hold quickly, take a break or hire a new set of eyes before it gets much uglier. I hear there's a lefty, Czech-born Wimbledon champion out there who's professed an affinity for her game in the past. I'm just sayin... in case of emergency, break glass. Well...
4. Acapulco Final - Stephens d. Cibulkova
In 3:06, Current Sloane shows her mettle and moves to 3-0 in career singles finals. Of course, a certain Swarmette, circa 2013-14 or so, might choose to note how Stephens has become quite proficient in the "smaller" tournaments, but is still looking to hook a "bigger fish" in the Future.

5. Doha 1st Rd. - Sai.Zheng d. Kerber
Et tu, Angie? No, no, no. Not yet. It was just one of those days.

6. Doha Final - Suarez-Navarro d. Ostapenko
CSN might have gone 0-4 in finals before winning her first, then 0-3 again before winning her second... but the trend is heading in the right direction. Plus, she's now won as many career titles as Muguruza.

Meanwhile, the latest entry in our "Can You Guess Who Lost?" contest:


7. Doha 1st Rd. - Buyukakcay d. Safarova
After three months, Safarova finally returns from her illness-related absence in a short-lived attempt to defend her Doha title. Hey, so be it -- before she can take a second step, she had to take a first. And, anyway, it's hard to feel TOO bad when Buyukakcay, ranked #162, also gets a chance to celebrate her first career Top 20 victory. See, I was right to memorize how to spell Cagla's name before last season, after all.

B-U-Y-U-K-A-K-C-A-Y. ✓

8. $25K Port Pirie Final - Lee Ya-Hsuen/Riko Sawayanagi d. Barty/Dellacqua
Reunited, and it feels so good. But not as good as it likely will later in '16, though. Barty/Dellacqua last played in a final in Birmingham in the summer of '14. They're 2-4 in WTA finals, including 0-3 in slams in 2013, and 1-1 in challengers (they won a $75K in Tokyo when Barty was just 16).
9. Doha QF - Petkovic d. Muguruza
"Tell me something I don't know," a frustrated and angry Muguruza shot back at Sumyk during their coaching session. While the look on his face was priceless, his, perfectly-timed "you know everything" reply was perhaps as close as we'll get to seeing just how close coaching a temperamental athlete must be to raising a temperamental teenager.

10. Doha 1st Rd. - Wozniacki d. Konjuh 4-6/6-3/7-5
Doha 2nd Rd. - Wozniacki d. Gavrilova 6-3/6-3
Doha 3rd Rd. - Vesnina d. Wozniacki 7-5/5-7/6-3
it was a mixed bag sort of week for the Dane. Right after falling out of the Top 20, she struggled to get by Konjuh in 2:35 after being up a double break in the 3rd, serving at 5-2 and 5-4 (40/love) before finally putting away her ninth match point. She then took down The Unicorn with swift ease, but fell to the qualifier Hordette.

11. Doha 2nd Rd. - Niculescu d. Jankovic
After 2:46, twenty breaks of serve and Niculescu nearly blowing a 5-2 lead in the 3rd set, JJ was left with a few extra days before celebrating her 31st birthday. Hmmm, maybe THAT explains why the cats were going crazy in Qatar...

Also, it was announced last week that Alize Cornet would miss six months with a back injury. I'm not saying all this is related somehow, but still...
12. Doha 1st Rd. - Kuznetsova d. Goerges
A week after being crushed in Dubai by the German, Sveta gets some payback. Naturally, she lost her next match.
13. Doha 1st Rd. - Vandeweghe d. Bencic
After eight consecutive weeks of action, Bencic was bound to be bounced early at some point. CoCo lost just two points on serve in the 2nd set.
14. Doha 1st Rd. - Petkovic d. Makarova 6-3/6-2
Doha 1st Rd. - Gasparyan/Niculescu d. Hantuchova/Makarova 4-6/7-5 [10-3]
hmmm. What's the bigger story here, that Makarova is still looking for a post-Russian Fed Cup Debacle win, or that she was finally healthy enough to play doubles last week... but she didn't team up with (former, I guess) longtime partner Elena Vesnina?
15. Doha 1st Rd. - Allertova d. Svitolina 7-5/6-4
Doha 2nd Rd. - Suarez-Navarro d. Bacsinszky 6-2/6-2
what a difference a week makes for Svitolina (I GUESS Justine will give her a mulligan... but only one). What a difference a year makes for 2015 Queen of Mexico Bacsinszky, who showed up in Doha with BOTH thighs wrapped.
HM- Acapulco 2nd Rd. - Cibulkova walkover Azarenka
Vika pulls out with a left wrist injury, her fifth retirement/walkover exit from a tournament since last summer.


Ever wonder what tennis players do when they're bored? Well...

1. Doha QF - Aga Radwanska d. Vinci
Radwanska may have come up well short in the semifinals vs. CSN, but before that she delivered a brilliant performance in a crazy-good QF match vs. Vinci. In a contest that was either a criminally short 1:51 or a perfectly condensed masterpiece, the quality of the tennis was in no way evident in the deceiving final scoreline. With their somewhat similar, variety-loving styles perfectly complementing one another, Radwanska and Vinci alternated flashes of aggression and trick shot artistry for three complete, crowd-pleasing and awe-inspiring sets of competition that left not only the fans on the sidelines having to pick their jaws off the floor, but the players (well, at least Roberta, who was heard to loudly mutter "Not fair!" at one point), as well.

An on-fire Vinci dominated the 1st, but Radwanska slowly but surely began to seize control of the match's momentum soon afterward, pulling off roughly (and conservatively) a dozen to twenty shots (including three in a single game, if memory serves correctly) that would be in the running for Shot of the Month/Year if, you know, Aga was a regular mortal and the rules of shotmaking that apply to everyone else were something by which her particularly magical skills were even slightly constrained. Setting Twitter aflame, leaving an in-form Vinci nonetheless shaking her head and then admitting afterward that even she is occasionally surprised when some of her shots land in, this was a case of Aga at her Radwanskian best. So much so that you almost forgive her having nothing left to give a day later in the SF. Vinci's final surge to turn a 4-1 3rd set deficit into a not-a-runaway final stanza secured the goods that ensure this match being included on the short list for, at the very least, the Most Enjoyable match of the year for 2016.

Yep, Aga. We did.
2. Doha SF - Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Kasatkina/Vesnina 3-6/7-6(5) [10-8]
Doha Final - Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan d. Errani/Suarez-Navarro 6-3/6-3
we need a Hingis/Mirza vs. Chan sisters clash to cleanse the palate, and give us some clarity. We'll have to wait until Indian Wells, when the Dreamers celebrate their one-year anniversary.

3. Acapulco 1st Rd. - Pavlyuchenkova d. Ula Radwanska
...6-0/2-3 ret.
After defeating Richel Hogenkamp in qualifying to reach the MD, U-Rad's reward was to roll her ankle, knocking her out of Acapulco AND Monterrey.

4. $25K Port Pirie Final - Haas d. Arina Rodionova
A week after Rodionova defeated the Austrian en route to a challenger title in Perth, Haas did the same vs. the Aussie in the PP final. Rodionova led 4-2 in the 1st before losing it, then 5-1 in the 2nd before winning it to force a 3rd. In the end, it was Haas for career title #9.

5. $25K Moscow SF - Khromacheva d. Kristina Schmiedlova
The younger Schiedlova had a better week than her sister, taking down the #4 and #5 seeds in Moscow before finally losing to #2 in the semifinals. Khromacheva went on to take the title.

Whoever made this ?????????????? ????????????????????????

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Surprisingly, the answer WASN'T "post more Sports Illustrated photos..."

Kmart is life #24hours ?

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

@mbrengle it worked ?? what side effect? @lukesaville18

A video posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Brisbane - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
Shenzhen - Aga Radwanska, POL
Auckland - Sloane Stephens, USA
Kaohsiung- Venus Williams, USA
Kaohsiung - Chan/Chan, TPE/TPE

35 - Francesca Schiavone (Rio-W)
35 - Venus Williams (Kaohsiung-W)
34 - Serena Williams (Australian Open-L)
32 - Roberta Vinci (St.Petersburg-W)
35 - Martina Hingis (4-0 in finals)

64 - Hingis/Mirza (35/29) = 4 titles
62 - Chuang/Jurak (31/31) = Dubai

18 - JELENA OSTAPENKO (Doha-L) - 18,8m,3w
18 - Belinda Bencic (St.Petersburg-L) - 18,11m
17 - Kimberly Birrell (Hobart-L)

**2015-16 WTA SF**
10...Simona Halep, ROU (9/1)
10...Serena Williams, USA (9/1)
10...Angelique Kerber, GER (8/2)
8...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (8/0)
8...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (7/1)
7...Maria Sharapova, RUS (7/0)
7...Sara Errani, ITA (6/1)
7...Elina Svitolina, UKR (6/1)

8 - USA
5 - GER
1 - (17 nations)
[different nations, by season]
2010: 32
2011: 31
2012: 33
2013: 31
2014: 30
2015: 32
2016: 27 (through Week 8)

Meanwhile, the Belgian Barbie -- you remember her and her "accessory," right? -- were busy making Oscar predictions and celebrating a birthday.

Yep, Jada is eight. Time flies.

15 Final: Bacsinszky d. Garcia
15 Doubles Final: Dabrowski/Rosolska d. Rodionova/Rodionova
16 Singles Top Seeds: Errani/Wozniacki

Cibulkova d. #4 Konta
#5 Garcia d. Doi
#5 Garcia d. Cibulkova stands to reason that a good bet for the NEW Queen of Mexico might be the player who was the "lady-in-waiting" for the honor last year, right? Yeah, I know... do you eat with that mouth?

15 Final: Wozniacki d. Dulgheru
15 Doubles Final: Liang Chen/Wang Yafan d. Beygelzimer/Savchuk
16 Singles Top Seeds: Vinci/Svitolina

#1 Vinci d. #8 Sai.Zheng
#2 Svitolina d. #4 Beck
#1 Vinci d. #2 Svitolina

...Roberta has to get a gust of wind behind her just knowing Aga isn't anywhere in sight, right? Of course, last week's "mulligan" might lead Svitolina to wanting to "please the teacher" and make up for it by winning a title, too.

Okay, now let's see. This has been a week with JJ celebrating a birthday... AND Flavia... AND GENIE... AND Li Na?

That ALMOST explains EVERTHING. The Doha Kitty Revolution is totally understandable now. I think.

All for now.


Blogger Eric said...

That Nicole Gibbs tweet you posted re: "Adolf" is such an illustration of being a millenial... During facetime, she's checking google and posting on twitter.


I was reading through the link you posted about top lefties of all time. I didn't recognize a lot of the names since they were before my time, but do you agree that petra and kerber are top 5 lefties of all time? How did that list compare to yours? Obvi, Navratilova is #1, but I didn't know how to gauge the rest of the list.

Mon Feb 29, 03:27:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

What I was wondering was what exactly it was that sparked the idea to check on the Adolf thing. Have to agree, though, about the period AFTER World World II where there were still a high number of Adolfs. (I wonder if they included alternate spellings like "Adolph" and "Adolfo" in the numbers?)

Yeah, checking around for a large list of lefties to look over, I guess they were fairly close on that list. Of course, the list has to start with Martina, then with Seles #2. Unless Kvitova ever reaches expectations, the next tier is quite a few notches down form those two. After that, I suppose it'd be generational based on who you saw play, since the relatively few really good left-handers are spaced out over the decades, with really no one before Navratilova being in the "lengendary" category. I'd probably have Schnyder a little higher, but maybe that's just because of the recency of her career and first-hand knowledge of watching her play.

Still, Kerber (even with a slam) seems abnormally high at this point in her career... but the pool isn't all that large, is it? Of the current players not listed, Ekaterina Makarova should surely be on there, with her slam semis, doubles and Fed Cup success.

Here are a few more lists like that, but there's not much difference:

10 Best Lefties in Women's Tennis History (Bleacher Report, 2011)
Top 23 Men/Women Lefties in Tennis History (Bleacher Report, 2011)

I'm not sure any of these lists are including women's doubles specialists in the mix, which might shake up the order quite a bit. But, truthfully, I can't even think of anyone off the top of my head who'd be added. I guess, Casey Dellacqua amongst current players?

Mon Feb 29, 12:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Well, you know I don't even "believe" in these lists, though I decided to check the link. I was unable to view anything, though, which I guess is just as well! I'll add, though, that Patty's left-handed creativity does deserve special mention. It wasn't just her "leftiness," it was also the maddening way she looped the ball and made it spin every which way. She could drive an opponent crazy. Her long-time rival (a rich rivalry that is sadly ignored) with Hantuchova led Daniela to say that she would rather do just about anything than play Patty.

Too bad both of them lacked sufficient mental toughness--two superb players, in different ways.

Mon Feb 29, 05:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

This was the original list, by the way: ;)

1.Martina Navratilova
2.Monica Seles
3.Petra Kvitova
4.Angelique Kerber
5.Hilde Sperling (though the pictures of her show her being right-handed, by the way)
6.Ann Haydon Jones
7.Sylvia Hanika
8.Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat
9.Lucie Safarova
10.Patty Schnyder

Mon Feb 29, 07:47:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Yes, the Sperling inclusion appears to be an error. And--despite her lack of results--I do think that Petra, just in terms of talent/skill, is one of the best left-handers ever. Her lefty gifts are so great, in fact, that it makes her "issues" just maddening.

Thanks for posting, Todd!

Mon Feb 29, 08:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

i totally just realized that acapulco and monterrey were both "abierto" events. no wonder search was having a hard time when I just said abierto mexico.

Mon Feb 29, 11:32:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

What a non-issue:

Sat Mar 05, 10:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

Didn't now Kamau Murray used to be Taylor Townsend's coach...

Sat Mar 05, 10:38:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Speaking of, it's nice to see Townsend finally have a result in the Indian Wells Qualifying wild card challenge event to give her encouragement. It's been a pretty lean year.

Sun Mar 06, 06:27:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

Bernie has a short memory... Kyrgios stood up for him last year. Maybe this is a ploy to make Kyrgios look like a bigger baddie?

But the biggest question to me is why Hewitt didn't just ask Kokkinakis to replace Kyrgios? Isn't Kokkinakis a better singles player than Groth?

Sun Mar 06, 07:48:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

What do you think this announcement is going to be?

"Major" seems to imply:
- elopement
- pregnancy (which I doubt it is; would go against the image she's crafted...and a weird way to announce)
- severe injury / leave of absence
- retirement (I just don't see her retiring before the Olys)
- new business?
- new coach?
- sexuality?
- nationality?
- death in the family (weird way to announce)

she's announcing at a weird time too... 3PM PST... that's after the news cycle on the east coast.

I hope it's not retirement.

Sun Mar 06, 07:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Although, 3PM PST is 6PM in the east... right when SportsCenter starts. So it'd right in the heart of the "official" sports night.

The lingering forearm thing has been a concern, and that was the reason Sharapova gave the other day for her I.W. absence. If it was definitely going to be an immediate retirement announcement I wonder if that would have been handled differently. It could be something about this being her final season, though. It wouldn't be a shock, I suppose.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Sun Mar 06, 11:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thing is, there's not even a mention of the announcement at the moment on her Twitter or Instagram accounts, nor on that of the tour. You'd think there would be some sort of heads up there.

But Maria has always been and will always be her own person.

Sun Mar 06, 11:59:00 PM EST  

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