Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wk.20- Kiki, Caroline & Suzanne

"La Divine" Suzanne awaits in Paris, but Week 20 must be chronicled...

S: Caroline Garcia/FRA def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/CRO 6-4/6-1
D: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja (ESP/ESP) d. Maria Irigoyen/Liang Chen (ARG/CHN)

S: Kiki Bertens/NED def. Mariana Duque/COL 6-2/6-2
D: Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE) d. Shuko Aoyama/Renata Voracova (JPN/CZE)

...Bertens finally found a way to carry over her Fed Cup success to the WTA courts, winning in both singles and doubles in Nurnberg. After making it through qualifying, Bertens knocked off Tatjana Maria, #1 seed Roberta Vinci, Irina Falconi, Julia Goerges and Mariana Duque in the final. It's Bertens' second career title, but she hadn't reached a WTA final since she won her maiden crown in Fes in 2012. She teamed with Johanna Larsson to take the doubles.

Bertens is the first player to sweep the singles and doubles title at an event since Margarita Gasparyan in Baku last August. Interestingly, the player who did it one month earlier in '15 was Bertens' doubles partner Larsson, who teamed with the Dutch woman in Bastad to claim the WD that week.
RISER: Mariana Duque/COL Nurnberg, the 26-year old Colombian advanced to her first tour-level singles final since 2010 (def. Kerber in Bogota) with victories over Catarina Witthoeft, Laura Siegemund, Varvara Lepchenko and Annika Beck. The latter two matches were both played on Friday and kept Duque on the court for over four hours. Not surprisingly, she only put up four games in the final vs. Kiki Bertens a day later.
SURPRISE: Pauline Parmentier/FRA
...quietly, the 30-year old Pastry has had a great spring run. 13-5 in her last five events (9-4 on clay), Parmentier has scored a $50K runner-up, a tour-level SF (Katowice) and QF (Rabat), $100K QF and final eight result last week in Strasbourg in successive outings. Wins over Zhang Shuai and #2-seeded Sloane Stephens gave Parmentier her fourth WTA-level QF-or-better result of the season.

VETERANS: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni/CRO and Virginie Razzano/FRA
...Lucic, 34, reached the Strasbourg final nineteen years ago in 1997. This weekend, she returned. After qualifying with wins over Lyudmyla Kichenok and Virginie Razzano, the Croat advanced past Wang Qiang, Timea Babos, Pauline Parmentier (preventing a four-Pastry-strong semifinals) and Kristina Mladenovic to reach her fifth career tour final. She finally lost in her fourth match-up vs. a Frenchwoman on the week, falling to Caroline Garcia in straights. She jumps from #66 to #52 heading into Paris, where she'll face 33-year old Daniela Hantuchova in the 1st Round.

Razzano's week didn't end with her qualifying loss to Lucic. The 33-year old, #186-ranked Pastry (a Roland Garros WC this week) reached the MD as a lucky loser. She then proceeded to become the seventh LL to notch a MD win this season (over Yaroslava Shvedova), then proceeded to put up two more (over Monica Puig and Elena Vesnina) to become the fourth LL to reach a semifinal over the last three seasons (the other three came last year).

COMEBACKS: Caroline Garcia/FRA and Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...the Pastries' doubles success has been so high-flying of late that their lacking results in singles were getting too easy to overlook. With the shadow of Roland Garros encroaching on the tour schedule, both played (singles only) in Strasbourg in Week 20. They nearly ended up facing off in the final.

Garcia reached her fourth career final with wins over Kirsten Flipkens, Jil Belen Teichmann and Virginie Razzano -- as well as a walkover from '15 champ Sam Stosur (wrist). A straight sets victory in the championship match over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni gives the Pastry her second career title to lift her ranking back into the Top 40 from #55.

Mladenovic, a finalist a year ago in Strasbourg, reached the semifinals this time with wins over Madison Brengle, Alison Riske (in a struggle) and Alla Kudryavtseva. It's her first three-win event since her QF run at last year's U.S. Open.
FRESH FACES: Annika Beck/GER and Jil Belen Teichmann/SUI
...Beck ended her four-match losing streak with Nurnberg wins over Teliana Pereira, Nicole Gibbs and Anna-Lena Friedsam to reach her first tour-level semifinal since winning her maiden tour title in Quebec City last September.

In Strasbourg, 18-year old Swiss Teichmann (#369) got into the qualifying draw as an alternate, then won two matches (one over Mandy Minella) to reach the MD, where she put up her first career tour victory over Kurumi Nara.

DOWN: Sara Errani/ITA and Roberta Vinci/ITA
...heading into Roland Garros, the Italian hopes are sagging. Badly. Both Errani and Vinci were #1 seeds this past week, and they combined for just one match victory. Errani, apparently dealing with some sort of injury since her Charleston semifinal run, has nevertheless continued to play and gone 0-3 since on red clay, losing in the 1st Round in Strasbourg to Monica Puig. Vinci lost in the 2nd Round in Nurnberg to eventual champ Kiki Bertens, dropping her to 3-6 on clay in 2016.
ITF PLAYER: Patty Schnyder/SUI
...the 37-year old Swiss claimed the second challenger title of her comeback (last September Schnyder won her first ITF singles crown since 1995) at a $10K event in Bastad, Sweden. The #3 seed, Schnyder knocked out #5 Karen Barritza (formerly Barbat) and #4 Melanie Stokke in a 6-1/6-3 final. She's 2-1 in finals since her return from a four-year retirement. Earlier this spring, she played the first WTA level match of her comeback in Charleston. She hasn't won a tour singles crown since 2008, or played a slam match since the '11 RG, but her ranking was at #436 heading into Week 20, so you never know what's down the road. Remember, Schnyder is still eight years younger than Kimiko Date-Krumm, who is planning yet another post-knee surgery comeback at age 45.
JUNIOR STARS: The Trofeo Bonfiglio Girls
...the Grade A Internazionali d'Italia Junior Trofeo Bonfiglio event in Milan has been the site for some big results this past week. Three of the four semifinalists were Hordettes, with Amina Anshba (16) having completed a glorious single day sweep that included a win over #2 seed Dayana Yastremka and #7 Georgia Andreea Craciun, as well as a doubles win (w/ Elena Rybakina) over Claire Liu and Charlotte Robillard-Millette.

Anshba lost her semifinal match to fellow Russian Oleysa Pervushina (16), a winner of two ITF challenger titles in '16, while another Hordette, 15-year old Anastasia Potapova (a girls quarterfinalist at the AO) fell to Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan. Juvan, 15, upset the U.S.'s Morgan Coppoc in the 1st Round, as well as Rybakina (another Russian, and the winner of two Grade 1 titles this season) in the 3rd.

Juvan and Pervushinva will face off in the final on Sunday.
DOUBLES: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja (ESP/ESP) and Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE)
...the thirtysomething Spaniards won their third title of 2016 in Strasbourg, taking a second title (w/ Acapulco) without dropping a set all week. AMG was the Nurnberg champ (w/ Chan Hao-Ching) this week one year ago. It's the fourth overall title for the duo in seven finals since February of last season, and AMG's 28th career crown. APS has eleven.

In Nurnberg, Bertens & Larsson claimed their third tour title as a pair, having now gone 3-2 in finals since the start of 2015.


Not the Paris trip Maria was hoping for, but...


A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

It was surely still an eventful week in the Land of Sharapova...

Of course, then Shamil Tarpischev crawled out of the woodwork to troll his favorite home-grown target (his #1 pastime when he's not making "jokes" about Serena, sabotaging the Russian Fed Cup team or wielding Olympic berths as weapons), making needless headlines written by a group of which 99.9% likely have no idea about his own personal character and/or bare knuckle tactics

Of course, the latest running-of-the-mouth was soon followed by the obligatory "apology/rescinding of statement" stage just like most Tarpischev-related "situations"...

While others were left to rightly wonder while pretty much all the other Meldonium cases are over and the athletes put back into play, except for a certain tennis racket-swinging candy seller...

So, what's the real "ending" for this tale of "crime" & punishment, and when will we hear about it? Trying to read the tea leaves is tricky...

But, no matter what, Maria still has her Instagram photographic game going strong...


A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

And, of course, still the editorial position of this space...

1. Strasbourg 2nd Rd. - Mladenovic d. Riske
Mladenovic led 5-1 in the 3rd set, only to see it nearly all slip away. Riske saved four MP and knotted the set at 5-5. With heavy crowd support, Kiki continued to push, but Riske saved a 5th and 6th MP in the deciding tie-break. Finally, Mladenovic corralled her serve and finished off the Bannerette with a match-ending ace.
2. Strasbourg 1st Rd. - Vesnina d. Zheng Saisai
In 3:09, Vesnina comes back from a break down at 4-5 in the 3rd to steal the victory.

3. Strasbourg Final - Garcia d. Lucic-Baroni
France joins the U.S. (4) and Italy (3) with multiple different singles champions in 2016. Alize Cornet won in Hobart back in Week 2.
4. Nurnberg Final - Bertens d. Duque
With the Netherlands (Bertens), Colombia (Duque) and Croatia (Lucic) adding to the numbers this week, the tour's totals for successful nations jumped in many categories. Sixteen different nations have now produced WTA singles champs in '16, with twenty-seven nations being represented in finals and thirty-six in semifinals.
5. Nurnberg QF - Duque d. Lepchenko 5-7/7-6(4)/7-5
Nurnberg SF - Duque d. Beck 7-5/6-1
the nearly 3:00 and 1:11 matches were both put away by the Colombian on the same day.
6. Strasbourg 2nd Rd. - Kudryavtseva d. Diyas
The Russian made it through qualifying, defeated Cornet and then reached the QF after staging a comeback vs. Diyas from 5-3 down in the 3rd.
7. Strasbourg Final - Medina-Garrigues/Parra-Santonja d. Irigoyen/Liang Chen
Liang was the defending champion, having won last year with Chuang Chia-Jung. Liang (w/ Irigoyen) defeated Chuang (w/ Dariya Jurak) in the semifinals. Thanks, partner. Irigoyen has now reached three '16 finals with three different partners (Kania & Cepede Royg).
8. GA Trofeo Bonfiglio 2nd Rd. - Natasha Subhash d. Katie Swan
Another early upset in Milan. The 14-year old, D.C-born Bannerette also made nice runs at the Grade A in Porto Alegre (SF) and Grade 1 Banana Bowl (QF) in Sao Paolo earlier this season.
HM- $50K Zhengzhou QF - Lu Jing-jing d. Peng Shuai
Peng's comeback continues. She's gone 6-2 with a $100K final and $50K QF in her last two events.

Strasbourg 1st Rd. - Kateryna Bondarenko d. Watson
After losing seven straight games, including a 2nd set blowout, K-Bond used a rain delay to regain her bearings and send the Brit packing. Bondarenko faces off with Roberta Vinci in the 1st Round in Paris.

Lay up ??

A video posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

#132 Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Rio)
#118 Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR (Istanbul)
#92 Irina Falconi, USA (Bogota)
#84 Heather Watson, GBR (Monterrey)

Brisbane - Angelique Kerber, GER
Doha - Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP (won singles)
Istanbul - Danka Kovinic, MNE
Nurnberg - KIKI BERTENS, NED (won both)

Sydney - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (SF-Halep)
Australian Open - Angelique Kerber, GER (F-S.Williams)
St.Petersburg - Roberta Vinci, ITA (F-Bencic)
Indian Wells - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (F-S.Williams)
Charleston - Sloane Stephens, USA (SF-Kerber)
Nurnberg - KIKI BERTENS, NED (2nd-Vinci)

Sydney - Monica Puig, PUR (lost to Kuznetsova)
Charleston - Elena Vesnina, RUS (lost to Stephens)
Stuttgart - Laura Siegemund, GER (lost to Kerber)
Rabat - Marina Erakovic, NZL (lost to Bacsinszky)
Strasbourg - MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI, CRO (lost to Garcia)
Nurnberg - KIKI BERTENS, NED (def. Duque)

35 - Francesca Schiavone (Rio-W)
35 - Venus Williams (Kaohsiung-W)
34 - Serena Williams (AO-L,IW-L,Rome-W)
34 - MIRJANA LUCIC-BARONI (Strasbourg-L)
32 - Roberta Vinci (St.Petersburg-W)
32 - Samantha Stosur (Prague-L)

Sydney - Kuznetsova/RUS def. (Q) Puig/PUR
Dubai - Errani/ITA def. Strycova/CZE
Rio - Schiavone/ITA def. Rogers/USA
Monterrey - Watson/GBR def. Flipkens/BEL
Nurnberg - (Q) BERTENS/NED def. DUQUE/COL

#238 Paula Cristina Goncalves/BRA - Bogota
#199 Sorana Cirstea/ROU - Rio
#190 Zhu Lin/CHN - Kuala Lumpur
#186 VIRGINIE RAZZANO/FRA - Strasbourg
#186 Marina Erakovic/NZL - Rabat (RU)
#172 Tamira Paszek/AUT - Auckland
#170 Silvia Soler-Espinosa/ESP - Bogota (RU)

2012 Stanford - Coco Vandeweghe
2008 Quebec City - Angeles Haynes
2008 Tokyo - Jarmila Gajdosova
2012 Fes - Mathilde Johansson
2012 Linz - Irina-Camelia Begu
2013 Brisbane - Lesia Tsurenko
2013 Paris - Kiki Bertens
2015 Acapulco - Sesil Karatantcheva
2015 New Haven - Lesia Tsurenko
2015 Quebec City - Naomi Broady
2016 Strasbourg - VIRGINIE RAZZANO
2nd Rd. - Veronica Cepede Royg (Hobart)
2nd Rd. - Anna-Lena Friedsam (St.Petersburg)
2nd Rd. - Jana Cepelova (Charleston)
2nd Rd. - Richel Hogenkamp (Rabat)
2nd Rd. - Sara Sorribes Tormo (Rabat)
2nd Rd. - Barbora Krejcikova (Prague)

7...Hingis/Mirza (5-2)
5...Garcia/Mladenovic (3-2)
2...Chan/Chan (2-0)
2...Hozumi/Kato (1-1)
2...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (1-1)

And, finally, Aga the Achiever...

All for now. More on Day 1.


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