Monday, July 18, 2016

Wk.28- Justine's Legacy Finds a Permanent Home, Simona Gets Her Groove Back (Maybe) and Vika Now Serves for Two

Well, it was just your "typical" week on the WTA tour. And it was as interesting as ever.

First, a decision was rendered delayed. Make of that what you will.

Then, a new star was born, right out of the gate...

A new trend continued...

Rio absences were announced and explained...

Another longer term situation came to light...

One can quibble with the timing, of course. After all, Vika is currently ranked #6 in the world, leads the tour in season titles (3), best record in finals (3-0) and best win percentage (89.7%). She still has the longest uninterrupted WTA win streak (16 matches) in the world this year, and a few months ago became the third woman to ever complete the Indian Wells/Miami sweep. She won two Olympic medals four years ago, and the summer hard court season and U.S. Open had been looked at as possibly her "time to shine." But that can wait. Obviously, this was an unexpected situation, and one that I can't really remember happening with a top-level player (unlike in some other sports) in the prime of her career without it being a planned life choice, usually late in their career. But Azarenka has already stated her intention to return in 2017... so we've already got a major plot point for next season, and THIS season is barely half over.

Of course, now the wait goes on for our first Vika Baby dabbing photos...

And something along the lines of what we saw with Azarenka and her "Mini Vika" fan in Brisbane back in January. Little did she know.

Of course, that wasn't all. Elsewhere, the Swiss took over Gstaad on the court, while Amelie Mauresmo (about a month and a half late to be included in my Roland Garros "La Divine" series) did a good Suzanne Lenglen impersonation in Newport...

Speaking of Amelie, she belatedly got her Hall of Fame moment in the sun this weekend, one year after being unable to attend the ceremonies due to her pregnancy. As usual, she spoke with great class and feeling, taking time to emotionally touch on the Bastille Day attack in Nice and similar one elsewhere, saying, ""In Paris, Brussels, Tel Aviv. It has to stop. The only thing we can do to continue to be free, continue to be happy."

Of course, for this space's purposes, the centerpiece of the HoF ceremony involved the induction of "La Petit Taureau herself," Justine Henin, the first Belgian ever inducted in Newport (beating Kim Clijsters by a full twelve months -- whew!)

After Marat Safin's comedic and free-wheeling speech ("It's almost as hot as in Russia. Jesus.") in the sizzling Newport heat, Monica Seles introduced Henin. Naturally, she singled out the Belgian's one-handed backhand for praise, calling it "one of the signature shots in tennis history," adding, "And as an opponent, I hated it." Of Henin's four-title run at Roland Garros, Seles noted that the "clay court was her canvas, and her racket the paint brush." "She was an artist; power, touch, court sense, creativity. Justine's game was like a rainbow. The full spectrum of color. But Justine was also a warrior. Drive, dedicated, focused. One of the toughest competitors we'll ever see."

Henin came without a prepared speech, but she made due, pointing out that when Seles mentioned her and her mother attending the 1992 RG final and a young Justine making her fabled promise to become a champion, that she'd failed to note that the match INCLUDED Seles herself. Though Henin did remember the 3rd set over Steffi Graf as having gone 8-6 in Seles' favor, even if it was actually 10-8... but that's okay.

She hit on all the expected points of her career, thanking her parents and saying that through tennis she learned that if you work hard enough for your dreams, as the old adidas ad campaign noted, "Impossible is nothing."

Earlier, Henin had spoken about Clijsters, who'll be in this same position next summer, and their unbreakable linkage in tennis history. "We were very lucky to be there at the same time," she said. "I always say I wouldn't have been the player I was without Kim. It was challenging being from a small country and being almost the same age. We traveled a lot together when we were young and were pretty close. When we became rivals on the tour, it became more competitive, but the respect was always there."

"Because of and with Kim, I was able to accomplish a lot of things. Seeing her succeed made me think I could do the same. Being #1 and #2 from a small country made the story different and made it more beautiful. She pushed me to get better and improve. It made us better players than we might have been."

Ah, but that only took us up to SATURDAY. On Sunday, another new star put down her footprints (err, backprints?)...

And then an already-a-star gave another hint that she may finally be ready... maybe for everything?

(clears throat)

And how was your week? As interesting as the Most Interesting Tour in the World?

If so, well... congratulations!

S: Simona Halep/ROU def. Anastasija Sevastova/LAT 6-0/6-0
D: Jessica Moore/Varatchaya Wongteanchai (AUS/THA) d. Alexandra Cadantu/Katarzyna Piter (ROU/POL) 6-3/7-6(5)

S: Viktorija Golubic/SUI def. Kiki Bertens/NED 4-6/6-3/6-4
D: Lara Arruabarrena/Xenia Knoll (ESP/SUI) d. Annika Beck/Evgeniya Rodina (GER/RUS) 6-1/3-6 [10-8]

...suffice to say, it looks like I'm "all in" with Simona this hard court summer. Oh, no. What have I done?

The fact is, so far, Halep has done pretty much everything I've asked of her in recent weeks and months to escape the bull's eye and Cliffs-dragging reputation she'd developed over the previous year or so. Even her decision to skip the Olympics might work in her favor on the court, as she'll be able to have an uninterrupted U.S. Open preparation and, Zika fears aside, won't have to deal with the pressure of competing for (and maybe failing to live up to the expectations of) her country.

As it is, Halep was all smiles in Bucharest, as she claimed the tournament title on Romanian soil for the second time in three years. After dropping the 1st set in the 1st Round vs. Barbora Krejcikova, she showed little mercy the rest of the way. She finished off the Czech 1 & 1, then took out Isabella Shinikova, Danka Kovinic and Vania King (though with a lost TB in the 1st) before serving Anastasija Sevastova a double-bagel in the final in just forty-six minutes. With the win, Halep moves past Virginia Ruzuci into first place on Romania's WTA title list with fourteen wins in her career, and is 9-1 in her last ten matches, 12-2 since the start of Roland Garros and 18-3 since beginning what was a march to her first '16 title in Madrid.

Has Simona finally found her groove again? Maybe so (he said hesitantly).

RISERS: Kiki Bertens/NED and Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
...Bertens and Bacsinszky met on the terre battue in Paris in the QF, with the Dutch woman emerging with the victory. Back on the clay in Gstaad, they faced off again in the semis, and with the same result.

Bertens picked up right where she left off on the red clay about a month and a half ago. Already in 2016, the surface has been very, very good to the 24-year old. She went 2-0 in singles (def. Garcia and Mladenovic) in the Fed Cup semis vs. France on clay, reached the Rabat SF on the stuff, then won her first tour title in four years in Nurnberg on the dirt AND pulled off a surprise Roland Garros semifinal, as well. Last week in Gstaad, she was the lone non-Swiss in the event's final four as she defeated Tamira Paszek, Claire Feuerstein, Irina Khromacheva and Bacsinszky to reach her third career final. She lost in three sets to another Swiss, Viktoriya Golubic, but is now on the cusp of her first Top 20 ranking. She'll be #21 on Monday.

Bacsinszky, as the #1 seed, didn't manage to become the champion of the first WTA event held in Switzerland since 2008, but her victories over Sara Sorribes Tormo, Mandy Minella and Johanna Larsson put her into her first SF since her title run in Rabat in April (she also had semi in Miami). And, of course, she's never not a good egg.

SURPRISES: Viktoriya Golubic/SUI and Isabella Shinikova/BUL
...did anyone really see Golubic coming in 2016? I mean, like THIS? The 23-year old had never finished a season higher than #178, after all, and she was more than a little ways down the pecking order when it came to the suddenly burgeoning organism that is Swiss tennis. Although, to be fair, there WERE signs if we'd known to be looking for them. Golubic was proving herself all over the world. First, she joined with Timea Bacsinszky to win the deciding doubles over Poland in a road World Group Playoff tie in April '15, taking a 9-7 3rd set over A.Radwanska/Rosolska. In the season's closing months, she won a $25K singles title in Great Britain in August, reached another $25K final in France in October, won a pair of $50K doubles events in France and the U.S., then a $50K singles crown in November in Waco, Texas and immediately followed that up with a season-ending singles/doubles final combo in another $50K in Scottsdale, Arizona. She opened the 2016 schedule with a Week 1 $25K title run in Hong Kong, then qualified for her first slam MD in Melbourne. In the spring, she couldn't hide any longer. She was the star of the Swiss Fed Cup effort, shockingly putting the team on her back in the semifinals vs. the mighty Czech squad, going 2-0 in singles (def. Ka.Pliskova and Strycova) in what was a losing team effort. Another qualifying run in Paris, and her first career MD slam win, continued the forward progression. Then, last week in Gstaad, she rose above a field of super-achieving Swiss (three of four semifinalists, and a doubles champion) to claim the title at the first tour-level event held in Switzerland in eight years. Wins over Mona Barthel, Evgeniya Rodina, Carina Witthoeft, Rebeka Masarova and Kiki Bertens garnered Golubic her first career WTA singles title AND her first-ever Top 100 ranking this coming week. Her #72 placement puts her 106 spots higher than she was at the start of the season, and she's surely not finished climbing the WTA ladder.

24-year old Bulgarian Shinikova has been burning up the ITF circuit in 2016, salting away six titles over the course of the season. I noted a few weeks ago that we'd likely be seeing her in some WTA draws soon. She managed to qualify and get into the Katowice MD in the spring, where she lost to Alize Cornet in three. But after three consecutive stalled efforts to qualify at WTA-level grass events, Shinikova finally got another chance on the clay in Bucharest. After winning three matches to reach the MD, she notched her first career tour win in the 1st Round over Kateryna Kozlova before falling to Simona Halep a round later. She rises into the Top 150 for the first time this week at #143.
VETERAN: Laura Siegemund/GER
...the 28-year old, #43-ranked German who was the revelation of the spring clay season last week welcomed (with open arms, no doubt) the brief summer clay court window that comes before the full-force hard court circuit kicks in. Earlier this year, Siegemund reached the Charleston QF and Stuttgart final, going 15-3 in one stretch, before a disappointing follow-up in Paris (1st Rd. loss to Bouchard) and 1-3 grass season. Last week in Bucharest, she put up her best result outside of Stuttgart with a SF run that included wins over Teliana Pereira, Misa Eguchi and Polona Hercog without dropping a set, with Siegemund not losing more than five games in any match. She fell in the semis to Anastasija Sevastova, but her week's work puts her back into the Top 40 (she reached her career high of #37 earlier this season)
COMEBACKS: Anastasija Sevastova/LAT and Vania King/USA
...Sevastova, 26, is more than a year and a half into the comeback from her mid-2013 retirement, and she suddenly will find herself back in the Top 50 as the new week begins. Once upon a time, the only Latvian to win an Open era tour title (2010) ranked as high as #36 before injuries and illness led to a premature end to her first career. In 2016, she's garnered 1st Round victories in both Melbourne and Paris, her first slam MD victories since 2011. Currently, though, she's working on clearing another hurdle -- winning a "big" title. While she won four ITF titles in 2015, Sevastova hasn't claimed anything larger than a $50K since her return. In May, she lost to Katerina Siniakova (via a love 3rd set) in a $100K challenger decider, then fell to Caroline Garcia in the Mallorca grass court final before Wimbledon. Last week in Bucharest, she defeated the likes of Gabriela Elena Ruse, Patricia Maria Tig, Sara Errani and Laura Siegemund without dropping a set to reach her second final in her last three events. But against Simona Halep in the final, Sevastova was simply schooled by the Swarmette, falling 6-0/6-0. That HAS to leave a very bad taste in her mouth after a very tasty week. Still, she's up to #49 this week, and that's nothing but good news in the big picture view.

27-year old King, too, is making her way back after taking most of '15 off in order to heal her body. Her semifinal run in Bucharest was her first on the WTA tour since 2014 (Bogota), and her wins over Paula Kania, Cagla Buyukakcay and Pauline Parmentier edges her just a little bit closer to the Top 100. She'll jump from #144 to #119 this week. She ranked as high as #50 as a teenager in 2006.

FRESH FACES: Carina Witthoeft/GER and Irina Khromacheva/RUS
...while the latter stages of the Gstaad draw was seemingly overrun with Swiss, there WERE a few players representing other nations there, too. One was Witthoeft, the 21-year old German who was ranked in the Top 50 last summer but came into last week at #100, though off putting up a nice fight vs. Angie Kerber at Wimbledon in a 3rd Round match that included a 13-11 TB. Her QF run in Switzerland was her best tour-level result since Nurnberg in May '15, as she knocked off Stefanie Voegele (a Swiss!) and Lara Arruabarrena before falling in two TB sets to eventual champ Viktoriya Golubic (another Swiss! Sheesh!).

Another non-Swiss achiever in the Gstaad draw was Khromacheva, the former junior #1 who was sporting a WTA singles ranking of #118. The 21-year old Hordette reached her first WTA QF with wins over Lucie Hradecka and Julia Goerges. Of course, in the same week that Justine Henin was inducted into the International Hall of Fame, it should be noted that Khromacheva's training base is at the Henin Academy in Belgium.
DOWN: Caroline Garcia/FRA
...Garcia's fortunes have been on a definite upswing in recent months, so it's probably wise to view her 1st Round loss in Gstaad to Lara Arruabarrena (after winning the 1st set in a TB) as a temporary setback rather than a return to past habits. After all, this was her first one-and-out exit in two months, since her opening match loss in Rome. In the period since then, the Pastry has won two singles titles (on clay AND grass) and the Roland Garros doubles.
ITF PLAYERS: Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL and Elizaveta Kulichkova/RUS
...though it's not a WTA-level event, the North American hard court season essentially kicked off with this past week's $50K challenger in Stockton, California. And in the week in which Justine Henin became the first Belgian inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, fellow Waffle Van Uytvanck walked away with the title. The 22-year old, who finished last season at #42, has been having a hard time of things in 2016. She's missed time with an ankle ailment, and was forced to skip Roland Garros, meaning she lost all her points from her first career slam QF last year. Because of the injury and loss of RG points, she's fallen all the way out of the Top 100 and arrived in California at #125 and riding a seven-match MD losing streak on all levels that dated back to March. But she managed to recoup a little of that lost ground with her string of wins over Bannerettes (Melanie Oudin, Jamie Loeb & CiCi Bellis) and then a three-set victory in the final over Hordette Anastasia Pivovarova. It's Van Uytvanck's tenth career ITF title, and her first singles crown of any kind since winning the WTA 125 Series event in Taipei in late 2013. She'll move up to #116 this week.

In the $50K in Olomouc, Czech Republic, it was 20-year old Russian Kulichkova who grabbed her seventh career circuit crown with a win over fellow Hordette, RG qualifier and AnaIvo SW19 conqueror Ekaterina Alexandrova in a three-set final (does Alexandrova play anything else? Luckily, she's 11-5 in three-setters in '16). For Kulichkova, the win equals her previous biggest-ever title, which won in China in March of last year with a victory in the final over Jelena Ostapenko.

JUNIOR STARS: Rebeka Masarova/SUI and Emeline Dartron/FRA
...mark it down, Week 28 of 2016 was when Masarova became a star. Yeah, the 16-year old spent the spring clay court season running roughshod over junior competition, winning the Roland Garros girls title (def. the #1 and #2 seeds) while going 26-3 (winning sixteen straight at one point). In all, the Swiss teen has gone 34-6 vs. junior competition in 2016. But what she did in Gstaad in another thing altogether. Making her WTA tour debut as a wild card, ranked #797 in the world, Masarova opened up by upsetting #2-seeded Jelena Jankovic, a former #1 (current #27), then followed up with two more Top 100 wins over #92 Anett Kontaveit and #38 Annika Beck en route to the semifinals. Just like that, the LATEST Swiss Miss jumps 483 spots to #314 in the new rankings. And so it begins.

While Justine Henin was getting inducted in Newport, back at the Henin Academy in Limelette, Belgium the Grade 4 Justine Henin Cup was being held. The winner was Emeline Dartron, a 16-year old Pastry (#960 jr.) who grabbed not only her first junior singles title (def. Chile's Fernanda Labrana in a love 3rd set in the final), but her first doubles crown, as well. She won that one with Maria Amelie Dardaine. Because, you know, it was only right that a Pastry with Amelie in her name would share in some honors, right?
DOUBLES: Lara Arruabarrena/ESP and Xenia Knoll/SUI
...sure, Arruabarrena and Knoll won the Gstaad title as a team, but it's appropriate to honor them individually here because both have found success with all sorts of partners and have never actually played with EACH OTHER before this past week. This was Arruabarrena's second '16 title (w/ Tatjana Maria in Bogota), and the seventh tour-level win of her career. She's won her titles with seven different partners.

Meanwhile, Knoll has been playing the role this season that Kristina Mladenovic used to play as she's found success at every level with all sorts of players by her side. This season alone, she's 2-2 in WTA finals, 1-0 in WTA 125 finals and 2-1 on the ITF circuit. She won her first WTA title with Aleksandra Krunic (her best friend and most common partner -- and they're back together this week in Bastad... go Bracelet!), as well as a WTA 125 event with Petra Martic and $25K with Ysaline Bonaventure. She's reached other finals with Viktorija Golubic, Danka Kovnic and now Arruabarrena.

Not that the pair's Gstaad title run was a breeze. They had to win three consecutive 3rd set breakers to do it -- 11-9 over Mertens/Naydenova in the QF, 10-7 over Rae/Smith in the SF and 10-8 over Beck/Rodina in the final.

Of course, Masarova and Jankovic had crossed paths before last week in Gstaad. Well, sort of...

"#Jelenaaswell," indeed.

Hmmm, you get the feeling there are a lot of pictures like that of JJ floating around out there? Yeah, me too.

1. Bucharest Final - Halep d. Sevastova
We'll choose to look past the likely fact that this scoreline -- the first double-bagel final on tour in three and a half years -- will provide easy fodder for the WTA haters to harp on the quality and depth of talent on tour, and instead focus on Halep's 46-minute mastery of the moment. She just breezed past The Cliffs of Simona at "Back to the Future" DeLorean speed in this one. Also, I'll note that scorelines and quality don't necessarily always inform one another. Example: You know that other double-bagel final I mentioned? Well, that took place in Sydney in 2013, with Aga Radwanska defeating Dominika Cibulkova. Ummm, I think we've seen -- quite a few times, in fact -- the sort of quality matches those two are capable of producing.
2. Gstaad Final - Golubic d. Bertens
Of course, I'm sure this will do nothing to prevent commentators from acting as if Golubic was suddenly dropped from the sky by space aliens (aka Trump-Pence supporters?) should the Swiss put up a result of note come the North American hard court season. We've seen situations similar to it enough to KNOW it'll happen again.

3. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Masarova d. Jankovic
Unfortunately, JJ won't be able to rebound anytime soon. A leg injury will keep her out of Bastad and Montreal. Oh, in case you might have wondered: JJ made her WTA MD debut in Indian Wells in 2001, defeating Brie Rippner in the 1st Round in a 3rd set TB. Nothing against Rippner, but I guess that's "Advantage, Masarova."
4. Gstaad SF - Bertens d. Bacsinszky
This was the third match-up between these two. Kiki is 2-1, with Timea's only win coming at the '14 U.S. Open when Bertens retired with a one set lead. So, even with a win in the series, Bacsinszky has actually lost all five complete sets they've played against one another.
5. Bucharest 2nd Rd. - Errani d. Schiavone
...1-6/6-2/0-0 ret.
A shoulder injury prevented what might have been a wonderful, thanks-for-the-Italian-memories 3rd set here. Hopefully, they'll get to play that deciding set somewhere else down the line.

6. Gstaad 1st Rd. - Siniakova d. Schnyder
This was 37-year old Schnyder's first tour-level MD match since the 2011 Roland Garros. But pity poor Siniakova, as she got to experience a special sort of "torture" by having to follow up her maddening Wimbledon loss to Radwanska with another contest against the spinny, Sneaky Patty. She was just getting over her Aga nightmares! But at least she got a win here, so that'll help her sleep.
7. $25K Winnipeg - Francesca Di Lorenzo d. Erin Routliffe
An all-NCAA match-up on Canadian soil, as 18-year old Ohio State sophomore Di Lorenzo picked up career ITF title #2 with a win over Univ. of Alabama senior Erin Routliffe. Both were qualifiers. Di Lorenzo also won her first career doubles title with Ronit Yurovsky, who just finished up her career as a Michigan Wolverine.
8. $25K Imola Final - Daniilidou/Sabino d. Di Giuseppe/Masini
...4-6/6-2 [10-4].
33-year old Daniilidou picks up her 16th career ITF doubles title. She won five tour-level singles and three doubles titles from 2002-08. This is her biggest title of any kind since 2013.

Am I the only one who thinks those trophies could double as serving dishes?
9. $25K Aschaffenburg Final - Anna Kalinskaya d. Dalila Jakupovic
The 17-year old Hordette (#19 jr.) is now 3-1 in 2016 ITF finals.
10. Washington DC Q2 - Lauren Albanese d. Shuko Aoyama
Albanese's second straight win over a Japanese woman in D.C. qualifying gets the world #275 into her first WTA MD since Bogota in 2010. Her next goal? Her first tour-level MD win since the 1st Round of the 2006 U.S. Open. She lost in the 2nd Round of that Open to Svetlana Kuznetsova, by the way. So, I guess THAT Kuznetsova Curse has been holding steady for a decade now.

Marion Bartoli update:

1. $50K Stockton Final - Kristyna Pliskova/Alison Van Uytvanck d. Robin Anderson/Maegan Manasse
Another Pliskova making her way in the world today... in doubles. It's Kristyna's eighth ITF doubles title.
2. Bucharest 1st Rd. - Aliaksandra Sasnovich d. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
She's still not there, but she's getting closer. AKS led 4-2 in the 1st set, then 5-2 in the 3rd and held a MP. Serving for the match up 5-3, she double-faulted on BP and never won another game. Even while she may be inching closer to, well, something, the Slovak is finally starting to feel her slide in the rankings. She's now dropped outside the Top 50. But, on the "bright side," she's still ranked AHEAD of both Wozniacki and Sharapova. So there's that.
4. Bucharest Final - Jessica Moore/Varatchaya Wongteanchai d. Alexandra Cadantu/Katarzyna Piter 6-3/7-6(5)
$10K Victoria Park Final - Mizuno Kijimi d. Varunya Wongteanchai 6-1/6-2
it was a mixed weekend for the Wongteanchai sisters. 26-year old Varatchaya won her second WTA doubles title of the season as she and Aussie Jessica Moore (22 ITF doubles titles, 14-3 in finals since '14) won three 3rd set breakers en route to the Bucharest final; while 23-year old Varunya saw her career ITF singles final mark fall to 0-2.
5. $10 Prokuplje Final - Veronica Miroshnichenko/Valeriya Zeleva d. Hulya Esen/Lutfiye Esen
The Turkish sisters are 6-11 as a duo in ITF doubles finals.
HM- $50K Olomouc 2nd Rd. - Ekaterina Alexandrova d. Magdalena Pantuckova 6-2/6-3
$50K Olomouc SF - Ekaterina Alexandrova d. Gabriela Pantuckova 6-1/3-6/6-1
the Pantuckova sisters weren't likely rooting for Alexandrova in the final vs. Van Uytvanck.

20 days till the Olympics!!???????? Follow the Danish Olympic athletes on @danmarktilol #allforrio

A photo posted by Caroline Wozniacki (@carowozniacki) on

Photo Booths, they never go out of style. This was one I can share from that fun night at Boca Grande ??

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Maria looks like she's levitating. Oh, no... now WADA will suspend her for that, too. And she'll only have herself to blame, I guess.

**2016 WTA TITLES**
3 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR
3 - Sloane Stephens, USA
2 - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
2 - Caroline Garcia, FRA
2 - Angelique Kerber, GER
2 - Serena Williams, USA

3-0 - Victoria Azarenka
3-0 - Sloane Stephens
2-0 - Caroline Garcia

0-2 - Genie Bouchard
0-2 - Alison Riske
0-2 - Barbora Strycova

**MOST WTA FINALS - 2014-16**
17 - Serena Williams (14-3)
13 - Karolina Pliskova (4-9)
12 - SIMONA HALEP (7-5)
8 - Maria Sharapova (6-2)
8 - Petra Kvitova (6-2)
8 - Venus Williams (5-3)

Bogota - Irina Falconi, USA (25/#92)
Istanbul - Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR (26/#118)
Gstaad - VIKTORIJA GOLUBIC, SUI (23/#105)
[WTA 125 Series]
Bol - Mandy Minella, LUX (30/#186)

Charleston - Sloane Stephens, USA
Stuttgart - Angelique Kerber, GER
Istanbul - Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
Prague - Lucie Safarova, CZE
Strasburg - Caroline Garcia, FRA
Bucharest - Simona Halep, ROU
Gstaad - Viktoriya Golubic, SUI

**2016 WTA SF**
6 - Angelique Kerber (4-2)
5 - Serena Williams (5-0)
5 - Dominika Cibulkova (4-1)
5 - Aga Radwanska (1-4)
4 - Caroline Garcia (2-2)
4 - KIKI BERTENS (2-2)
4 - Karolina Pliskova (2-2)

#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)

13 - SIMONA HALEP (2013-16)
12 - Virginia Ruzici (1975-85)
4 - Irina Spirlea (1994-98)
4 - Ruxandra Dragomir (1996-97)

23...Caroline Wozniacki*
21...Pam Shriver
19...Nancy Richey
19...Manuela Maleeva
17...Aga Radwanska*
16...Elena Dementieva
15...Jelena Jankovic*
15...Dianne Fromholtz
14...Zina Garrison
13...Nadia Petrova
*-active in 2016

7...Martina Hingis, SUI (5-2; + 1-0 MX)
7...Sania Mirza, IND (5-2; + 0-1 MX)
6...Caroline Garcia, FRA (4-2)
6...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA(4-2)
4...XENIA KNOLL, SUI (2-2; + 1-0 WTA 125)

You're nobody on that other tour unless you've posed with Serena. Just sayin'.

And let's not forget the brotherly love thrown Dinara's way by Marat, either. As noted in his HoF speech, the Williams Sisters are the only siblings to reach #1 on the WTA tour, but the Safin family is the only one to produce #1's on BOTH tours...

Speaking of Dinara, as she saw it...

#halloffame #legends #newport @tennishallofame

A photo posted by Dinara Safina (@dinarasafina2704) on

15 Final: Kerber d. Ka.Pliskova
15 Doubles Final: Xu Yifan/Zheng Saisai d. Medina-Garrigues/Parra-Santonja
16 Singles Top Seeds: V.Williams/Cibulkova

#1 V.Williams d. #4 Vandeweghe
#3 Konta d. #2 Cibulkova
#1 V.Williams d. #3 Konta

...if Venus can successfully go from the SW19 grass to the California hard courts it would say a great deal about the rest of her summer. The time of the year that, you know, used to belong to her about a decade and a half ago. She last won in Stanford in 2002, and last raised a singles trophy in the U.S. in 2007 in Memphis.

15 Final: Stephens d. Pavlyuchenkova
15 Doubles Final: Bencic/Mladenovic d. Arruabarrena/Klepac
16 Singles Top Seeds: Stosur/Stephens

#5 Bouchard d. Wozniacki
#2 Stephens d. #4 Mladenovic
#2 Stephens d. #5 Bouchard

...her D.C. title run a year ago kicked off what has been a fabulous twelve months for Stephens. Sloane could take the lead for 2016 titles (she has 3, tied w/ Vika), and defend a crown for the first time in her career.

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l/Red Clay)
15 Final: Larsson d. Barthel
15 Doubles Final: Gavrilova/Svitolina d. Buyukakcay/Jankovic
16 Singles Top Seeds: Kerber/Errani

#1 Kerber d. #3 Bertens
#8 Larsson d. #5 AK.Schmiedlova
#1 Kerber d. #8 Larsson

...not sure about Kerber picking to play this clay event in Europe, right after the grass season and before the North American hard court and South American Olympics (also on HC). Anyway, and still going with her here. And, yep, I'm also throwing AKS into the semifinal mix! Hey, the turnaround has to happen sometime, right? Hopefully, if it doesn't happen here, we'll be paying attention when it finally does.

And, finally, tangible proof of British tennis "immortality"...

Had to pop over to @wimbledon today... And just couldn't help myself! ?? #selfie #sorrynotsorry

A photo posted by Heather Watson (@heatherwatson92) on

And, then, umm, this...

All for now.


Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Another wedding - Pironkova ties the knot - time for a wedding special me thinks:

Wed Jul 20, 05:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

With all the wedding and baby stories, you wonder if a certain Dane is thinking about how that was what she was talking about so often not that long ago. You'd like to think it'd refocus her on successfully building back her career (#58! Jeez.). I guess we'll get some idea by the end of the summer, as this is about the time she picked things up two years ago.

Wed Jul 20, 09:46:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Yeah - it's influencing in her decisions me thinks, but seriously it's at least 2 years away. She's found a good coach and I think they (Piotr and her) will see what that brings first. I have a feeling she'll fairly quickly bounce back - maybe not top 10 but top 20 within 2016 and then 2017 is open for a real comeback with all the tournaments she hasn't taken part in - or am I too optimistic? Her gameplay will bevealed today against Stosur. Does she play as on grass Sam will not have a chance.

Wed Jul 20, 11:22:00 AM EDT  

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