Monday, July 25, 2016

Wk.29- Venus Being Venus

Thank goodness for Venus Williams. She was a flesh-and-blood saving grace in a week when up was down on a seemingly disintegrating landscape.

In a week in the U.S. that featured an excrement-throwing circus in Cleveland, there was Venus half-way across the country at Stanford, worrying that she'd sound like a nerd for outing herself for having a poem that had inspired her. Bless her.

Meanwhile, the dual tour stop in D.C. continued a sorry 2016 tennis theme of shoving WTA matches into a corner while the tournament director, when confronted with the situation, had things tumble out of his mouth such as, "There's television obligations, television requests. There's also the tournament, from my perspective, what I feel is best for the fans in terms of popularity, seedings as well, and some player preferences that we take into consideration." Umm, yeah... okay. At the same time, for example, the "boffo" Tomic/Young men's match was put on a quarter-full (maybe) Center Court, while at the same time a match-up of a grand slam winner/#1 seed (Sam Stosur) and a very popular former #1 (Caroline Wozniacki) was relegated to a packed side court; and then all four men's QF were played back-to-back on the bigger stage without a single women's match finding its way onto the schedule (not even nudging aside, say, the less-anticipated Paire/Zverev match-up) on the same day later in the week.

But, thankfully, on the far coast, we had Venus being Venus to make us smile all week long. Bless her (and her sister, too).

Twenty two years after she made her tour debut at the very same Bank of the West tournament, a now 36-year old -- and still Top 10-ranked -- Venus staged a run to the 80th singles final of her legendary career mere weeks after she woke up the echos of her fabled past with a semifinal result at the All-England Club.

She also, once again, made a point to remind everyone that just because some may wish certain "feelings" to be facts in tennis -- just as was the case in Cleveland -- doesn't make them, you know, ACTUAL facts. In other words, she's not planning on going anywhere at the moment, Olympics or no Olympics. Yep, Venus is a living, breathing B.S.-free zone at a time when one is sorely needed. Bless her.

Ignorant mobs aren't shouting for Venus to be "locked up," either, nor is she being accused of treason because of the latest made-up "scandal" posing as cover for a variety of long-held, deep-seated ill feelings and/or anxieties. And when she's around we don't have to listen to an otherwise weasely termite of a politician and then be essentially coerced to acknowledge, beyond all the "normal" reason that's gone out the window of late, that he may have been the only person with a "conscious" (albeit a self-serving one) within a gathering of the so-called leaders of a real life political party that has led the most powerful nation in the world for a large portion of the last 150 or so years, but which now seems to barely be able organize a lunch menu without simultaneously trying to turn back the clock by nearly all those 150 or more years.

But have no fear, back in the "real world," Venus need only to listen to a little music to make us smile and, for now, whistle as we walk past the wreckage. Bless her.

Of course, Venus isn't a REAL super hero, and she can't make everything better and ensure a sane world. But her presence in our lives surely served an unintended -- but important -- purpose this past week, no matter whether or not she managed to win or lose in the end.

After all these years, Venus is still the sport's trump card. And without a hint of an unnaturally orange hue, either. Just a bit of red on occasion... which is oh so much better.

She's still something at which to marvel amid all the chaos. Still something to be proud of. So take a deep, comforting breath. At least we have Venus. And, for now, that's enough.

Bless her.

S: Johanna Konta/GBR def. Venus Williams/USA 7-5/5-7/6-2
D: Raquel Atawo/Abigail Spears (USA/USA) d. Darija Jurak/Anastasia Rodionova (CRO/AUS)

S: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL def. Lauren Davis/USA 6-4/6-2
D: Monica Niculescu/Yanina Wickmayer (ROU/BEL) d. Shuko Aoyama/Risa Ozaki (JPN/JPN)

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l/Red Clay)
S: Laura Siegemund/GER def. Katerina Siniakova/CZE 7-5/6-1
D: Andreea Mitu/Alicja Rosolska (ROU/POL) d. Lesley Kerkhove/Lidziya Marozava (NED/BLR)

...the rise of Konta continues in 2016. Since finishing a season in the Top 100 (#47) for the first time in her career last year, the Sydney-born Brit has lurched forward in leaps and bounds over the last seven months. Her surprise semifinal run at the Australian Open (which began with a 1st Round upset of Venus Williams) rocketed her into the Top 30, then a semifinal in Eastbourne pushed her into the Top 20 for the first time. Throughout her first-time run to a tour-level final in Stanford, Konta served her way to her maiden WTA title in California, taking out Julia Boserup, Zheng Saisai and Dominika Cibulkova before fittingly ending her latest career-best week with another win over Venus in the final. It all now brings the Top 10 within Konta's reach, as she'll be at a new career-best of #14 on Monday, with still quite a bit of elbow room left for additional growth.
RISERS: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL and Alison Riske/USA
...Wickmayer had the full D.C. experience. She began the week by making her way around town...

And then ended the weekend by making off with ALL the trophies.

The 26-year Waffle won her fifth career tour singles title after a run of victories that included wins over Madison Brengle, Zhang Shuai, Kristina Mladenovic, Yulia Putintseva and Lauren Davis in the Sunday final. She'd already picked up career doubles title #2 with Monica Niculescu on Saturday. After having gone thirty-two months without appearing in a tour-level singles final, Wickmayer has now won two WTA titles since last September (w/ Tokyo last fall), and also picked up a WTA 125 Series crown in Carlsbad in late November, as well. The D.C. singles win bumps Wickmayer up to #40 this week, putting her within striking distance of a seed at the U.S. Open, where she had her sole career slam semifinal result back in 2009.

Meanwhile, Riske continued her sneaky good '16 campaign, reaching her third tour-level semifinal in Stanford after surviving a 3rd set TB in the 1st Round vs. Varvara Lepchenko, taking out qualifier Ana Bogdan in three, and then seeing CoCo Vandeweghe retire after rolling her ankle in the QF. After a slow start, Riske pushed Venus in the 2nd set of their semifinal, holding two SP after Williams suffered through a briefly horrid serving stretch when originally trying to close out the match. Though Riske didn't reach her third final of the season, the only U.S. player with more SF than her three is Serena (w/ five). Even with a hugely disappointing slam mark (0-3 this season), Riske (who'll jump twenty spots alone on Monday) has climbed 39 spots in the rankings since ending '15 at #97. She'll be #58 on Monday.
SURPRISES: Jessica Pegula/USA, Risa Ozaki/JPN and Lesley Kerkhove/Lidziya Marozava (NED/BLR)
...last summer, Pegula was one of the surprise belles of the early rounds of the U.S. Open, as the daughter of the owners of the Buffalo Bills (NFL) qualified, notched a 1st Round upset over Alison Van Uytvanck and pushed Dominika Cibulkova to three sets. As a wild card into the D.C. draw last week, the world #173 reached her first career tour singles QF and SF in a career-best week that included wins over Aleksandra Wozniak, Christina McHale and #1-seed Samantha Stosur (her first career Top 20 win). The 22-year old will top off her week appropriately, as well, as she'll rise to a new career-high of around #135 as Week 30 begins.

Ozaki, 22, also reached her first tour QF in the Washington event, opening up by knocking off defending champ Sloane Stephens in the 1st Round, then backing up the victory with a win over Naomi Broady. The singles #136, Ozaki, who hadn't played doubles on any level since 2014, pulled double duty this past week by also reaching the doubles final with D.C. warhorse Shuko Aoyama (the three-time champion of the event from 2012-14).

In Bastad doubles, surprise finalists Lesley Kerkhove & Lidziya Marozava lost in the final to Andreea Mitu & Alicja Rosolska, ending a dream week that had included three 3rd set TB wins over four rounds -- 11-9 vs. Bucharest champs J.Moore/Wongteanchai in 1st Rd., 10-3 vs. Olaru/Siniakova in the QF and 10-8 in a SF win over Schuurs/Voracova. It was the first career WTA final for both. Dutchwoman Kerkhove, 24, has won six career ITF doubles titles, and came in ranked #182 on the WTA computer; while 23-year old Belarusian Marozava has collected fourteen ITF crown, and was ranked #105 after having spent time in the top 100 just last month.

VETERANS: Laura Siegemund/GER & Venus Williams/USA
...the clay and Siegemund just go together like David Duke and Donald Trump's political coattails. A week after the German welcomed a return to clay with a semifinal result in Bucharest, the 28-year old reached her second final of the season (w/ Stuttgart, both on clay) in Bastad and walked away with her maiden tour singles title. Wins over Kateryna Kozlova, Lucie Hradecka, Lara Arruabarrena, Julia Goerges (ret. in 3rd) and Katerina Siniakova did the trick. Siegemund's work will have her at a career-best #32 on Monday, making her the second-highest ranked German on tour. At the end of the 2015 season, she was at #90 and stood as the ninth-best player in her nation. I guess that says a great deal about Siegemund, as well as the collectively sagging '16 results of nearly every German player not named Angie this season.

Stick around for probably what will be the best (surprise) champagne bottle moment of the season during the trophy ceremony:

In Stanford, even while she didn't ultimately win the title, Venus was THE story of the week. As great on the court as she was off it, she reached her 80th career final twenty-two years after she made her WTA tour debut as a wee fourteen year-old back in the Bank of the West Classic in 1994 (w/ a win over Shaun Stafford, then a 2nd Rd. loss to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in a love 3rd set) when the event was held in Oakland. After being forced to three sets in her opening match against Magda Linette, Williams dispatched younger countrywomen CiCi Bellis and Alison Riske in straight sets (with a close set vs. each) before finally not being able to corral Brit Johanna Konta in the final. Her week moves her up to #6, past the pregnant Vika Azarenka in the rankings and with a Top 5 season-ending finish clearly within reach considering all the points #4 Aga Radwanska will have to defend in Asia come the fall.

COMEBACK: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova/SVK
...all right, so the bar was VERY low here. But, by such standards, AKS did have a "comeback" performance in Bastad. A week after she gave Aliaksandra Sasnovich a good run in Bucharest (squandering a lead and losing in the 1st Round of a tournament she won in '15), the Slovak finally got over the proverbial hump (well, a preliminary, small one) with a 1st Round victory over Swedish wild card Susanne Celik. It ended Schmiedlova's streak of fifteen straight WTA MD losses. She lost in three sets to eventual finalist Katerina Siniakova in the 2nd Round, but... baby steps.

FRESH FACES: Katerina Siniakova/CZE, Lauren Davis/USA and CiCi Bellis/USA
...Siniakova was welcomed into the Czech WTA finalist circle in Bastad, as the #92-ranked 20-year old made her way through qualifying and strung together MD wins over Jana Cepelova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, #2-seeded Sara Errani and defending champ Johanna Larsson to reach her maiden tour-level singles final. After a close 1st set vs. Laura Siegemund, Siniakova's veteran opponent pulled away for a 7-5/6-1 victory to secure what was HER first career WTA singles title.

Davis, 22, joined Konta and Siniakova as one of the three first-time tour singles finalists this week. In Washington, the #122-ranked Bannerette became the ninth different U.S. player to reach a tour-level final in '16 (they're a combined 9-9). Wins over Shelby Rogers, Monica Puig, Camila Giorgi and Jessica Pegula put the Ohio native in her first singles final of any kind since a 2013 challenger and will lift her ranking to #104 on Monday. With a win in the final vs. Yanina Wickmayer, Davis would have jumped all the way into the #80's. She reached a career high of #43 back in 2014.

While Siniakova and Davis lasted until the weekend, Bellis was the young star of the first half of Week 29. Set to commit to play at Stanford next year if her SAT scores meet the school's standards, the 17-year old reached her first career tour QF on the university's campus. And she did it after being hit in the face by her opponent's overhead shot in a doubles match at the starting of week. The incident left her with a bloody eye, fuzzy vision and an overnight headache (but, apparently, no concussion). Still, she was able to proceed in singles and opened with a 1st Round win over Jelena Ostapenko (her third win in five matches vs. Top 50 players) on Tuesday, then followed up with another over Sachia Vickery. Against Venus, who made her WTA debut in the tournament in '94 (five years before Bellis was born), in the quarters the teenager put up a good battle with the 36-year old in the 1st set of a 6-4/6-1 loss. Bellis will be the youngest player in the Top 200 in the new rankings, and her future continues to open up before her eyes.

DOWN: Sloane Stephens/USA, Caroline Wozniacki/DEN and Nicole Vaidisova/CZE
...a year ago, Stephens began her climb back to relevance with her turning-tuna-into-lobster maiden title run in Washington.

She's continued to live a trophy life in '16, piling up three more wins in 2016, albeit with an accompanying three one-and-out results over the course of her first six events of the season. Stephens, who briefly re-entered the Top 20 for three weeks in recent months, had gotten out of the feast-or-famine game in her last four events, going a combined 6-4 and notching at least one win in each tournament. But, in her first career title defense attempt, the current #23 was bounced in nasty fashion by #136 Risa Ozaki, who allowed Stephens just three games on the day.

Meanwhile, a little more than a year ago, Wozniacki was still dining out on the remains of her 2014 summer comeback run. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto, she was ranked #5 when she fell in the 2nd Round to eventual champion Belinda Bencic. Flashforward to this week, one week before the start of this year's Rogers Cup in Montreal, and the Dane was ranked #58, sporting an 11-11 record this season, and 20-21 since the end of last year's Wimbledon. An easy 1st Round win in Washington gave hope for another summer rebound, as did her set lead over #1-seed Sam Stosur one round later. But Wozniacki was then forced to retired with an elbow injury seven games into the 2nd set. As one of the top players (well, formerly top-RANKED players, at least) who has shown an excitement about heading to Rio, you have to hope this won't be a setback. Of course, Caro continues to expand her "brand" beyond the court, but if she doesn't find a way to get her ranking into a bit more respectable range over the next nine months or so for how long will she continue to be as "in demand" for such extracurricular activity?

Some comebacks work, but others just never gain traction. Consider Vaidisova's now-abandoned attempt to re-start her career most decidedly in the latter category.

A former Top 10 player and two-time slam semifinalist (at age 17), Vaidisova was one poor shot selection away from having a MP to reach the Roland Garros final in 2006 (she'd defeated Mauresmo and Venus before squandering a lead vs. Kuznetsova). She originally retired in 2010. but after a four-and-a-half year break which included a three-year marriage to Czech player Radek Stepanek, Vaidisova returned to tennis in 2014. She never rose above #200 in her comeback attempt, and only played four total MD tour matches (1-3), though her appearance in Miami in the spring of '15 (she defeated Timea Babos and took Simona Halep to three sets) gave some hope (false, as it was) that good health and good results would eventually come for her. Vaidisova 2.0's best result on any level was a $100K challenger semifinal in Midland, Michigan in February of last year. Before announcing her second retirement last week, the Czech had been just 5-6 in 2016, losing two of her last three matches via retirement, the last in the 2nd Round of a $10K challenger in Gyor, Hungary in May. Thus, the (still only) 27-year old takes up permanent residence in the "what might have been" room of WTA history, having picked up six singles titles in her short career. She's still the sixth-youngest WTA champ ever, having won in Vancouver in 2004 at 15 years, three months and twenty-three days old. And, of course, she'll always be remembered around these parts for an epically-on-the-nose-even-if-a-bit-condescending 2005 quote in which she said, "People who never care that they lose have never won so much."

...the 17-year took the lead in the USTA's U.S. Open Wild Card Playoff race by claiming the $50K challenger title in Sacramento with a 4-6/6-1/6-4 win over Grace Min in the final on Sunday night. Unseeded at the event, #10-ranked junior Kenin reached the final with additional wins over Jovana Jaksic, Greet Minnen and Valeria Solovyeva. On Monday, she'll join CiCi Bellis as the only two players under 18 ranked in the WTA Top 250.

JUNIOR STARS: Usue Arconada/USA, Vera Lapko/BLR and Amina Anshba/RUS her singles QF and doubles title run in the Wimbledon juniors, 17-year old Arconada carried over her momentum to the tour-level tournament in Washington, essentially her "home" event, as she's risen through the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland. Given a wild card into the MD, Arconada got her first career WTA victory with a 1st Round win over Canadian teenager Francoise Abanda, then pushed Yulia Putintseva to three sets as the Tiafoe twins (fellow JTCC'ers) cheered her on from the nearby stands... then got a loud post-match rebuke from the Kazakh once she wrapped up the victory over the young Bannerette.

In Astana, Australian Open girls champ Lapko, still the #7-ranked junior (though she hasn't played a girls event since Melbourne), won a $10K challenger by defeating Valeria Savinykh 7-6(3)/3-6/6-4 to pick up career title #2. The 17-year old Belarusian has reached two finals in her last three pro events, going 11-2 over the six-week stretch.

In Klosters, Switzerland, Hordette Amina Anshba upset the #2 (Olesya Pervushina) and #3 (last week's WTA Gstaad semifinalist and RG jr. champ Rebeka Masarova) girls to claim the B1 clay title at the European Junior Championships. The #9-ranked junior, 16-year old Anshba took out fellow Russian Pervushina 6-2/2-6/6-2 in the final.

DOUBLES: Raquel Atawo & Abigail Spears, USA/USA Stanford, the veteran American duo grabbed career title #14 as a team, tied with Hingis/Mirza for third-most amongst active pairs behind only the Williams Sisters and Errani/Vinci ("active," since they're scheduled to reunite in Rio), which both have 22. At 33 and 35 years old, respectively, Atawo & Spears' combined age of 68 is second to Venus & Serena (70 at Wimbledon) as the oldest championship duo on tour this season. Speaking of siblings, the pair climbed over both Rodionova sisters en route to the title, taking out Arina & Jelena Ostapenko in a 10-7 3rd set TB in the QF, then Anastasia & Darija Jurak in straight sets in the final. But, of course, the summer hard courts are where Atawo & Spears have often found success, having previously won five summer titles in North America in Quebec City (2011), Carlsbad (2012-13), Stanford (2013) and Cincinnati (2014). This week's title was their first title together since last October in Linz.

Hmmm... would the White House look better with zebra stripes?

As long as it doesn't have T-R-U-M-P emblazoned on the side by this time next year, I guess.

Meanwhile... it's never a bad time to say...

And then there's this...

1. Washington DC Final - Wickmayer d. Davis 6-4/6-2
Washington DC Final - Niculescu/Wickmayer d. Aoyama/Ozaki 6-4/6-3
Wickmayer joins Bertens (Nurnberg) and Serena (Wimbledon) as s/d sweeping champions this season, while Davis fails to become the seventh different Bannerette champion in a single season since 2002.

2. Bastad Final - Siegemund d. Siniakova
This was the third '16 meeting in a final between players facing off for their maiden tour title. Irina Falconi (def. Soler-Espinosa in Bogota) and Cagla Buyukakcay (def. Kovinic in Istanbul) won the previous two.

3. Stanford QF - Cibulkova d. Doi
The newlywed Slovak charged back from 2-5 down in the 1st to win eleven straight games and assure herself a return to the Top 10 in the new rankings.
4. Washington DC 1st Rd. - Ozaki d. Stephens
This was Stephens' worst ranking loss since she lost to another player ranked #136 -- Aliaksandra Sasnovich -- last September in Seoul.
5. Washington DC 2nd Rd. - Putintseva d. Arconada
As is often the case, with Putintseva comes a touch of over-emotive drama, this time after the Kazakh let go of her anger at a specific cheering section after finishing off the game teenager.

6. Washington DC 1st Rd. - Bellis d. Ostapenko
Did someone say something about drama? Here, Bellis came back from 2-4 down in the 1st to win in straights. Naturally, Ostapenko couldn't help buy try to make more new friends and influence still more people, saying afterward, "I mean, everything is so weird here, it's my first time here," noting, "The balls are Penn, which I never played anywhere. I think it's maybe on the American series, so it's not amazing conditions for me." Bless her Latvian heart.

7. Washington DC 2nd Rd. - Stosur d. Wozniacki
...5-7/4-3 ret.
Wozniology-101 class now has sections on "Catch 22" and "Murphy's Law."

8. Bastad 2nd Rd. - Arruabarrena w/o Kerber
it was easy to question Kerber's appearance in this particular draw, but after getting her tour-leading 35th win in the 1st Round she pulled out with an elbow injury. All right, it makes a little bit more sense now. She's set to play this week in Montreal, which makes a whole heck of a lot more sense.
9. Stanford QF - Riske d. Vandeweghe
...6-3/1-0 ret.
CoCo was one of the loudest when it came to expressing her desire to play in Rio.

But after badly rolling her ankle (it's 2:00 into the highlights on the video below) and being wheelchaired off the court, you hope she didn't rattle the Tennis Gods' cage a little TOO much with her words and they've decided to "teach her a lesson."

10. Bastad 1st Rd. - Mattek-Sands d. Bertens
This was Berten's worst (winless) clay court event result since LAST year's 1st Round loss in Bastad. In her previous seven clay court events -- at all levels -- dating back to last season, the Dutch woman put up SF-W-SF-1st (but only after winning her way through qualifying)-W-SF-RU results.
11. $50K Sacramento 1st Rd. - Tara Moore d. Laura Robson
A subtle passing of British ships in the tennis night? Or a hopeful sign since Robson put up such a fight? Hmmm.
12. $50K Sacramento 1st Rd. - Caroline Romeo d. Alison Van Uytvanck
Days after winning the Stockton $50K event, #1-seeded Van Uytvanck fell in the 1st Round in Sacramento to a Lucky Loser.
13. Stanford 1st Rd. - Gibbs d. Zhao
Gibbsy wins the all-Stanford Cardinal battle on the campus at Palo Alto. They teamed in doubles for the week, too, losing in the 1st Round.
14. Bastad 2nd Rd. - Errani d. Golubic
The Gstaad champ couldn't carry over her roll to Bastad. Similar city names, yes... but very dissimilar results.
15. $25K Darmstedt Final - Tamara Korpatsch d. Fiona Ferro
The 21-year old, #250-ranked German picked up her second '16 title, finishing off a nice week that included earlier wins over #6-seed Jil Teichmann, Anna Kalinskaya, #2 Isabella Shinikova and #8 Dalila Jakupovic.
16. $10K Schio Final - Valeriya Strakhova d. Lucrezia Stefanini
The 21-year old Ukrainian picks up career title #11, outdistancing the 18-year old Italian (#1042) junior who put up a win over Tessah Andrianjafitrimo in the Roland Garros girls, and pushed both the Anastasia Potapova (RG) and Olesya Pervushina (Roehampton) to three sets in recent outings.
17. $10K Tampare Final - Piia Suomalainen d. Emma Laine
In a match-up of veteran Fins, 32-year old Suomalainen (#739) gets her first ITF singles title in four years over #570-ranked, 30-year old Laine.
18. $10K Evansville Final - Kennedy Shaffer d. Emina Bektas
The 19-year old University of Georgia Bulldog qualifies and picks up pro singles title #1 in Indiana. Shaffer knocked off '15 Wimbledon girls champ Sofya Zhuk in the 2nd Round.

Not a Vika-inspired baby boom, but...

1. Stanford Final - Konta d. Venus Williams
Getting over the finish line wasn't easy, but the Brit proved solid down the stretch. It'd taken Konta two attempts to finally serve out the 1st, but then she squandered a 4-1, two-break lead in the 2nd, failing to put away MP and seeing Williams push things to a deciding 3rd. Konta went up 4-2 in the final set, but on a few occasions Venus threatened make a game of things yet again before the first-time finalist finally wrestled the last stretch away from the 80-time finalist, denying Venus her 50th career title.

2. Stanford QF - Venus Williams d. Bellis
Just your typical tennis match between players nineteen (and nearly twenty) years apart. In other words, a full Ostapenko... with enough head room for a tossed racket or two, as well.
3. Stanford SF - Venus Williams d. Riske
Williams jumped on Riske to the tune of 5-0 in the 1st, but things tightened from there. Venus served for the match at 5-4 the 2nd set, only to see her serve suddenly go WAY off. Three straight DF later and the set was knotted. A game later, Riske went up 40/love, nearly gave back the break before staving off a BP and eventually holding two SP of her own. Williams pulled out the TB with casual ease, and didn't even realize until she was told in her post-match interview just how close she'd come to being forced to go three sets. Call it the "Venus bubble." Bless it.
4. Bastad 1st Rd. - Anna Karolina Schmiedlova d. Celik
The long international Schmiedlovian nightmare finally comes to an end. Or maybe it just experienced an intermission?
5. Stanford 2nd Rd. - Cibulkova d. Ula Radwanska
Without Aga, another Cibulkova/Radwanska match didn't provide another classic. But Ula (who defeated K.Bondarenko in the 1st Round) did force a 1st set TB.
6. Stanford 1st Rd. - Linette d. Kristyna Pliskova
Pliskova fires 15 aces and loses. In other words, the usual.
7. $10K Bad Waltersdorf Final - von Deichmann d. Gabriela Pantuckova
21-year old Pantuckova failed to pick up 2016 title #3, but the Czech has put up a quite a run of results since May. Her last eight events have gone like this: RU-W (def. von Deichmann)-QF-W-QF-QF-SF-RU.
8. $10K Saint-Gervais-les-Bains Final - Chiara Scholl d. Sibille
24-year Chiara (aka "Chi Chi") -- sister of Duke University senior Chalena -- wins career challenger title #3, her first since 2011.
HM- Stanford Q1 - Townsend d. Arina Rodionova 3-6/7-5/6-4
Stanford QF - Atawo/Spears d. Ostapenko/Arina Rodionova 2-6/7-5 [10-7]
Stanford Final - Atawo/Spears d. Jurak/Anastasia Rodionova 6-3/6-4
it was a week of "almosts" for the Rodionovas. Taylor Townsend came back from 4-2 down in the 3rd vs. the younger Rodionova sister in qualifying, then Atawo/Spears took out BOTH sisters en route to the doubles title.

Not a single cloud ????

A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on


A photo posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Turtles are going to miss Vika, too.

The Dashas. Sushi and shopping. 'Nuff said.

A bit of shopping therapy ??

A photo posted by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Gavrilovian Thesaurus?

Stranger Waiting on a Train.

Waiting for the morning train like...????

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Sharapova on ice water. No, not WALKING on water... cool your jets, WADA.

Bogota - Irina Falconi, USA (25/#92)
Istanbul - Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR (26/#118)
Gstaad - Viktoriya Golubic, SUI (23/#105)
Bastad - LAURA SIEGEMUND, GER (28/#40)
Stanford - JOHANNA KONTA, GBR (25/#18)
[wta 125]
Bol - Mandy Minella, LUX (30/#186)
[2016 first-time finalists]
Bogota - Irina Falconi, USA (#92, 25) (W)
Stuttgart - Laura Siegemund, GER (#71, 28)
Istanbul - Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR (#118, 26) (W)
Gstaad - Viktoriya Golubic, SUI (#105, 23) (W)
Stanford - JOHANNA KONTA, GBR (#18, 25) (W)
Washington DC - LAUREN DAVIS, USA (#122, 22)
Bastad - KATERINA SINIAKOVA, CZE (#92, 20)

35...Francesca Schiavone (Rio)
35...Venus Williams (Kaohsiung)
34...Serena Williams (5 finals)
34...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Strasbourg)
32...Roberta Vinci (St.Petersburg)
32...Samantha Stosur (Prague)

239 - Martina Navratilova
226 - Chris Evert
138 - Steffi Graf
93 - Lindsay Davenport
91 - Serena Williams *
85 - Monica Seles
77 - Arantxa Sanchez

**WTA FINALS - 2014-16**
17 - Serena Williams (7/5/5 = 14-3)
13 - Angelique kerber (4/5/4 = 6-7)
13 - Karolina Pliskova (5/6/2 = 4-9)
12 - Simona Halpe (5/5/2 = 7-5)
9 - VENUS WILLIAMS (4/3/2 = 5-4)

14 yrs - Vinci (32) d. Bencic (18) - St.Petersburg
13 yrs - S.Williams (34) d. Keys (21) - Rome
12 yrs - Muguruza (22) d. S.Williams (34) - R.Garros
12 yrs - Schiavone (35) d. Rogers (23) - Rio
11 yrs - V.Williams (35) d. Doi (24) - Kaohsiung
11 yrs - Konta (25) d. V.Williams (36) - Stanford
NOTE: older player is 4-2

5 - Serena Williams, USA (2-3)
3 - Sloane Stephens, USA (3-0)
2 - Madison Keys, USA (1-1)
2 - Genie Bouchard, CAN (0-2)
2 - Alison Riske, USA (0-2)
1 - Irina Falconi, USA (1-0)
1 - CoCo Vandeweghe, USA (1-0)
1 - Shelby Rogers, USA (0-1)
ALSO: Puig/PUR (0-1)

#186 Marina Erakovic/NZL (Rabat)
#170 Silvia Soler-Espinosa/ESP (Bogota)
#132 Francesca Schiavone/ITA (Rio - W)
#131 Shelby Rogers/USA (Rio)
#122 LAUREN DAVIS/USA (Washington DC)
#118 Cagla Buyukakcay/TUR (Istanbul - W)
#105 Viktorija Golubic/SUI (Gstaad - W)

Sydney - Monica Puig (22, #94/PUR)
Charleston - Elena Vesnina (28, #85/RUS)
Stuttgart - Laura Siegemund (28, #71/GER)
Rabat - Marina Erakovic (28, #186/NZL)
Strasbourg - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (33, #66/CRO)
Nurnberg - Kiki Bertens (24, #89/NED) (W)

6 - USA (Falconi,Keys,Stephens,Vandeweghe,S.Williams,V.Williams)
3 - ITA (Errani,Schiavone,Vinci)
2 - FRA (Cornet,Garcia)
2 - CZE (Ka.Pliskova,Safarova)
2 - ESP (Muguruza,Suarez-Navarro)
2 - GBR (KONTA,Watson)
2 - GER (Kerber,SIEGEMUND)
2 - SUI (Bacsinszky,Golubic)

36 - Venus Williams (Wimbledon)
35 - Martina Hingis (5 titles)
34 - Serena Williams (Wimbledon)
34 - Anastasia Rodionova (Eastbourne)
[team combined age]
70...S.Williams/V.Williams (34/36) = Wimbledon
66...Medina-G./Parra-S. (33/33) = 3 titles
66...Jurak/An.Rodionova (32/34) = Eastbourne
64...Hingis/Mirza (35/29) = 5 titles
[oldest finalist]
36 - Venus Williams (Wimbledon)
35 - Martina Hingis (7 finals)
34 - Serena Williams (Wimbledon)

Brisbane - Angelique Kerber, GER (L/L)
Doha - Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP (W/L)
Istanbul - Danka Kovinic, MNE (L/L)
Nurnberg - Kiki Bertens, NED (W/W)
Birmingham - Barbora Strycova, CZE (L/W)
Wimbledon - Serena Williams, USA (W/W)



15 Final: Bencic d. A.Radwanska
15 Doubles Final: Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. Garcia/Srebotnik
16 Singles Top Seeds: Kerber/Muguruza

#11 Cibulkova d. #15 Konta
#4 A.Radwanska d. #10 Keys
#5 Halep d. #9 Kuznetsova
#2 Kerber d. Kasatkina
#11 Cibulkova d. #4 A.Radwanska
#5 Halep d. #2 Kerber
#5 Halep d. #11 Cibulkova

...I ranked Bencic's run to the Rogers Cup title (which included four Top 6 wins -- three over past #1's and six over former slam finalists -- with upsets of #1 Serena and #3 Simona) as 2015's "Performance of the Year." It's a pity her wrist (or back?) injury prevents her from being in Montreal to defend her crown.

Oh, please, oh, please, dear Tennis Gods... give us another dose of Cibulkova/Radwanska.

And, finally, it shouldn't have taken Nike to come up with this campaign. With all the photos of WTA stars as kids-with-rackets floating around the internet, it's been a tour marketing campaign hiding in plain sight for years. Naturally, it was ignored in favor of the latest flashy, usually forgettable effort that was just a shade different from the previous one, as well as the next one.

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

One of the more enjoyable weeks of the year.

Only fitting that a Brit won her first title in the US, beating the Queen of Wimbledon. By the way, Konta was the highest ranked player without a title. Next in today's rankings would have been Siegemund, but she took care of that. So it is Kasatkina. Mladenovic and Ostapenko the only others in the Top 40 without one.

Putinseva let out her inner Gigi Fernandez this week.

To close, two odd bits from Montreal-Garcia got a WC-Canada gets Q-WC into French next year, and Halep has a WC into doubles.

Mon Jul 25, 09:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

I forgot to add-potential US Open seeds- Since you mentioned Bencic, Azarenka may save her. If she doesn't play until the Open, she is projected to be around 33. If Jankovic doesn't, she will be in the mid 40's.

Mon Jul 25, 10:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, Vika and Bencic... two good examples of seasons that started so well, but will ultimately be "what might have been" situations for both. Though Bencic could still pull out something in '16, I suppose.

Another thing I just realized: The horrible change of trophies in Bastad!

Remember, our odd-looking little friend given to the last three tournament winners:

Serena Williams (2013)
Mona Barthel (2014)
Johanna Larsson (2015)

And now this year's awful, boring replacement trophy:

Laura Siegemund (2016)

I wonder where the little guy is now? :(

Mon Jul 25, 04:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

The Summer of Simona has begun. Although I wish she was skipping Cincinnati instead of Rio.

Heavily on the Ana Bogdan bandwagon.

Sun Jul 31, 05:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Still all in on Simona (though I know such a thing isn't good for the heart, mind or body... due to to all the heads-slapping moments that come up during her matches). :)

Sun Jul 31, 05:23:00 PM EDT  

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