Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wk.7- The Pliskova Way

Last week, the reigning Queen of Fed Cup decided to double down on success in Doha... and the result was never in question.


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One never knows what to expect from players who find their way back on tour just days after playing in their respective nation's latest Fed Cup outing. Whether it be the elation of a successful weekend, or the letdown after a poor one, it's always a roll of the dice when it comes to what comes next. Most of the time, though, things don't turn out all too well. And since everyone is pretty much anticipating it, no one worries too much when such low expectations are met.

And then there was Pliskova, showing everyone else how it's done.

In Week 7's only tour-level event in Doha, players not bearing the name of a certain Czech twin who were also involved in the various FC scrums that took place in Week 6 went a combined 3-9, with one victory coming when two such players faced off against one another. That match, between Yulia Putintseva and Timea Bacsinzky, ended in a retirement from the Swiss. A round later, it was the Kazakh who retired from her own 2nd Round match. Garbine Muguruza won a 1st Round match, too, but failed to make it past another opponent, and then noted the difficulty of returning to action so soon after the shock-to-the-system emotions of a Fed Cup tie. It's a common conundrum that few manage with aplomb.

And then there's Pliskova. She was in Doha, too.

Unlike the rest, though, she never lost a match, going 4-0 and winning eight of nine sets en route to lifting her first trophy at the event. It's her eighth overall on tour, with half of them coming since last summer. The world #3 not only found success in Doha after struggling there in the past (2-3 combined from 2014-16), but she notched her first career wins over both Dominika Cibulkova (she was 0-3) and Caroline Wozniacki (0-3), further solidifying her position in the rankings (#3) and proving that her composure and new results-oriented mindset (when quality outweighs quantity) are fully taking hold. Pliskova is the first player to grab a second title in 2017, and her 15-1 mark leads the field, with her only loss coming in Melbourne as the final piece in Mirjana Lucic-Baroni's Cinderella SF run.

Don't look now, but wherever the Czech goes these days, the chances that celebratory fireworks will be set off are quite likely...

And, by this point, it's no longer a surprise. It's becoming the Pliskova way.

DOHA, QATAR (Hard/Outdoor)
S: Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN 6-3/6-4
D: Abigail Spears/Katarina Srebotnik (USA/SLO) d. Olga Savchuk/Yaroslava Shvedova (UKR/KAZ)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Karolina Pliskova/CZE
...even in a "normal" week, let alone after the pressure of once again successfully assuming the lead role carrying the Czechs back to a ninth straight FC semifinal, Pliskova's time in Doha would have been especially impressive. Wins over Caroline Garcia, Zhang Shuai, Dominika Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki, after having been 0-4 vs. the latter two opponents, while dropping just one set (vs. Cibulkova) has allowed Pliskova's '16 momentum to carry into the spring of '17, just as her best-ever AO result (QF) maintained the flow of success she established last summer in New York, even if some may have looked upon her Melbourne finish as somewhat disappointing considering she'd been dubbed one of the tournament favorites heading into the event. Just since last June, the Czech has won four titles, reached her first slam final, posted her two best career slam results, piloted yet another FC title run and risen to a career-best #3. With Elina Svitolina still looking to clear a significant hurdle by winning a truly BIG "regular season" title (a Premier 5/Premier Mandatory, which she'll have a go at again this week in Dubai), is there another player other than Pliskova who has progressively climbed the ladder to a point where the leap to "slam champion" status and challenging for the top ranking would seem the natural "next step?" Aside from the flashy ace totals, she's fifth on the tour in singles titles (one away from moving up to a tie for third) over the last three seasons, second in finals, and third in semifinals. After going 4-8 in her first twelve WTA finals from 2013-15, she's gone 4-2 in her last six in 2016-17. The arrival of the elusive "next level" result seems only a matter of time. If not this season, then the next.

RISERS: Monica Puig/PUR and Lauren Davis/USA
...for the first time since her Gold medal run in Rio, Puig truly made her presence known. The Puerto Rican had gone just 5-8 (1-4 in '17) since becoming a national hero last summer, never being able to string together three straight wins (she won six in Brazil), and five times going one-and-out in her eight post-Olympics tournaments. In Doha, she opened with a win over Laura Siegemund, outlasted a retiring Yulia Putintseva in the 3rd set, and won another three-set, two-day affair against Daria Kasatkina in the QF, staging a comeback from a break down in the deciding set. Puig lost in straights in the semis to Caroline Wozniacki, but her week of work means she'll jump five spots (to #42) in the rankings on Monday.

Already a first-time champ in '17 (Auckland), Davis made her way through Doha qualifying with victories over Julia Boserup, Wang Qiang and Camila Giorgi, then posted a pair of main draw wins over veterans Roberta Vinci and Elena Vesnina. The Bannerette will climb nine spots in the rankings this week to #46, just three off the career-high she set in 2014.

???? ??????? ??????! ??????? @olgasavchuk87 ??????

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SURPRISE: Olga Savchuk/UKR
...the Ukrainian has been the blossoming doubles star on tour so far this season. Of course, the 29-year old has always been a good doubles player, finishing in the Top 85 all but one season since 2008 (and she was Top 65 in four of those years). But Savchuk, who has ranked as high as #44 in doubles, has never ended a season in the Top 50, and entered last week at #51. She'd won two tour WD titles (in '08 and '14) over the years before the start of '17, appearing in six tour level finals (as well as winning a WTA 125 Series event). But in Doha, teaming with Yaroslava Shvedova for just the third time ever, but for the first time in nearly a decade (they'd gone 1-3 in 2007-08, playing in slam draws in two of their three partnerships), Savchuk -- with wins over the likes of Hlavackova/Peng and YJ.Chan/Hingis, both in 3rd set TB wins -- advanced to her third WD final of '17 alone. Her previous runs came with Raluca Olaru, winning in Hobart after a Week 1 runners-up result in Shenzhen, while this time she and Shvedova lost in straights, as Spears/Srebotnik erased a 5-2 2nd set deficit to avoid sending things to a TB.

Also, with all the rain delays last week in Doha, Savchuk realized that tennis really IS the sport for her. Sad to say, a career in "trick-shot billiards" was just never going to happen.

When geometric is not your thing... ?? @slavasays @qatartennis

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VETERANS: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK and Zhang Shuai/CHN
...after a slow start to her season, Cibulkova seems to be slowly but surely getting her footing following a remarkable finish to '16 that saw her reach three finals (winning two, including the WTA Finals) in her last four tournaments and climb into the Top 5. After a 4-3 start to the new season, with the Slovak failing to win more than one match in two of her first three events, Cibulkova followed up her Saint Petersburg SF with another semi result last week in Doha. Wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Samantha Stosur preceded a loss to eventual champ Karolina Pliskova, where she claimed the only set lost by the Czech all week. It marks the third straight event in which Cibulkova has gone out of events in a three-setter, after having fallen in straights in her first two events of '17.

Meanwhile, Zhang was caught up in the rainy weather in Doha just like all the other players. But the situation allowed her to have one of the best days of her career, as she recorded wins over both Timea Babos and Garbine Muguruza on the same day, the latter giving her a fourth career Top 10 victory, en route to the QF, her best result of 2017. After her surprise QF run in Melbourne a year ago, Zhang had started the season with 2r-1r-2r results in January.
COMEBACK: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...on multiple levels, Week 7 marked the return of Wozniacki to the forefront of the tennis news. First, off the court, she appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for a third straight February. After years, largely due to a slip in her results on the court, of the inclusion seeming to be a hint that the Dane was seeking out avenues for her post-tennis career, it all has a much different feel this winter. Coming five months after her return to the U.S. Open semifinals last fall, when she lit the fire for her climb from outside the Top 70 to back into the Top 20, her modeling stint is more easier viewed as a fun sidelight that serves to promote herself and the sport. The switch was even further cemented by her week in Doha, where she reached her 43rd career final (giving her a full decade of consecutive seasons with appearances in finals) on the back of a string of good wins over Kiki Bertens, Aga Radwanska, Lauren Davis and Monica Puig. She'll rise three spots into the Top 15 on Monday, with her eyes on a healthy spring/summer that could see her return to Flushing Meadows in August armed with a new (again) Top 10 ranking that will allow many of the questions from the still-recent past to be noticeably (well, mostly) off the table.

FRESH FACES: Aryna Sabalenka/BLR, Marie Bouzkova/CZE and Caroline Dolehide/USA
...after playing a key role in the Belarus win over the Dutch in the 1st Round of Fed Cup play, 18-year old Sabalenka had a few days to unwind from all the excitement, and when she returned to the court in Dubai she maintained her high standards. Straight sets wins over Lyudmyla Kichenok and Aleksandriva Naydenova earned her a spot in the main draw, where she'll face Kateryna Bondarenko for the right to play Garbine Muguruza.

In Perth, 18-year old Bouzkova defeated fellow Czech Marketa Vondrousova, 17, in a 1-6/6-3/6-2 final to claim the $25K challenger title. Bouzkova posted previous victories over Barbora Krejcikova and Viktoria Kuzmova, and is now 9-2 in career ITF singles finals.

And in Surprise, Arizona, 18-year old Dolehide landed the biggest title of her career in the $25K challenger there, overcoming (in a Week 7 trend) a series of rain delays in the event to defeat both Mariana Duque (SF) and Danielle Lao (F) on Sunday. A college recruit, Dolehide is scheduled to play tennis for UCLA in the fall. Hers previous ITF title was a $10K in Buffalo last year.

DOWN: Angelique Kerber/GER
...Kerber is getting to be too common a presence here. And while she has a chance to reclaim the #1 ranking this coming in Dubai by winning the title on the fast courts in the desert, it should be noted that this might not be the week where she'll rediscover her consistency. She's 1-4 for her career in the event. In Doha, the German suffered another loss in an up-and-down match against Daria Kasatkina in the 2nd Round, falling in three sets after taking the 2nd at love. It's Kerber's second loss to the Russian this year, and she's now 4-4 on the season (3-1 in Melbourne, 1-3 elsewhere). She has a do-able draw in Week 8, with most of biggest-hitting and/or form players in the bottom half of the draw, but how likely is it that this is where "the turn" in her season occurs?
ITF PLAYER: Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor/ESP
...while Pliskova leads the WTA tour with two titles, Torro-Flor's win in the $15K challenger in Manacor, Spain, gives the Spaniard a circuit-leading three wins (in four finals) on the season. The 24-year old swept the singles and doubles (w/ Olga Saez Larra) titles at the event, defeating Ukraine's Anastasia Zarytska 6-4/6-2 in the final to run her career ITF final record to 16-4. She won her sole WTA singles title in Marrakesh in 2014.


JUNIOR STARS: Iga Swiatek/POL and Amanda Anisimova/USA
...the Polish Tennis Generation That Aga built is starting to poke its collective head out of the shadows. 15-year old Swiatek has already swept the doubles at the Grade 1 Traralgon event in Melbourne this year, as well as claiming the AO junior doubles with Maja Chwalinska (last year, they teamed to win the Junior Fed Cup title for Poland). This weekend, she claimed her second pro singles title at the $15K challenger in Bergamo, Italy, with a 6-4/3-6/6-3 win in the final over Martina di Giuseppi.

In Brazil, 15-year old Bannerette Anisimova, last year's RG junior runner-up, added the Grade A clay event in Porto Alegre to her increasingly good resume. She won both the Yucatan Cup and Coffee Bowl titles last season, when she also reached the Porto Alegre final (to Usue Arconada). The #6-ranked girl last week, the top-seeded Anisimova lost just seventeen games through five rounds before defeating fellow U.S. teen Sofia Sewing, 17, in a 7-5/6-1 final.

It surely helped improve her overall week. I mean, considering...

"Greys Anatomy is unavailable in this country"

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DOUBLES: Abigail Spears/Katarina Srebotnik (USA/SLO) a field packed with new and makeshift doubles duos, the 35-year olds took home the title in Dubai in just their second pairing (they reached the Brisbane semis in Week 1). After dueling careers which have seen Spears and Srebotnik, with various partners, face off fifteen times (Srebotnik winning 11 times) in matches as far back as 2002, they've turned out to be quite good together on the same side of the net. Last week alone, they took out the likes of top teams Groenefeld/Peschke (the latter is Srebotnik's most successful former partner, w/ ten titles) and Mirza/Strycova before defeating Savchuk/Shvedova in the final. For Spears, who won her first slam title last month when she picked up the AO mixed doubles crown with Juan Sebastian Cabal, it's her nineteenth career tour WD title (in 28 finals), but her first without Raquel Atawo at her side since 2009. For Srebotnik, title #37 (in her 77th final) is her first since Eastbourne '15, and her second in Doha after reaching the final there five times with three different partners over the last eight years.


Look who's (finally) on the comeback trail...

1. Doha 2nd Rd. - Daria Kasatkina def. Angelique Kerber
A round after a sloppy win over Irina-Camelia Begu in the 1st, the Russian gets her second win over Kerber in '17. But the evidence of Kasatkina's "imperfect" week can be seen in her bagel 2nd set here, as well as...
2. Doha QF - Monica Puig def. Daria Kasatkina
In the rain-marred event, the 3rd set was played on Day #2 of this match. Kasatkina was up a break at 3-2, but failed to convert BP in game #8 that would have allowed her to serve for the match. Puig held for 4-4, and didn't lose another game.

Still, Daria's high fives were on point...

She faces Wozniacki in the 1st Round in Dubai.
3. Doha 2nd Rd. - Zhang Shuai def. Garbine Muguruza
In Zhang's second match of the day, the Chinese vet gets her fourth career Top 10 victory.

4. Doha 1st Rd. - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Jelena Jankovic 6-1/6-4
Dubai 1st Rd. - Mona Barthel def. Jelena Jankovic 6-1/6-3
not the results JJ was looking for after making her way through Doha qualifying with wins over Hibino, Ozaki and Pironkova.
5. Dubai Q1 - Gabriela Dabrowski def. Nao Nibino
This match began its second day of action seven games into the 3rd set. Hibino ultimately served for the match twice, and held MP in the deciding TB. Finally, on her sixth MP, Dabrowski put away a win in a match in which her opponent won more games (18-16) than she did.
6. Dubai Q2 - Ons Jabeur def. Gabriela Dabrowski
The Tennis Gods giveth, and they also taketh away. Later in the day, Dabrowski lost to Jabeur after holding a set and a break advantage. Jabeur went on to notch a very big MD win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Sunday.
7. Doha 1st Rd. - Elena Vesnina def. Christina McHale
The Russian battled back from 5-3 down in the 3rd to win in 2:54.
8. Doha 1st Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. Kiki Bertens
Bertens' Fed Cup nightmare from last weekend in Minsk carried over the border into Qatar.
9. Budapest Q1 - Tereza Smitkova def. Rebecca Sramkova
Meanwhile, Slovak Fed Cup star Sramkova left her Fed Cup touch back in Italy.
10. Dubai 1st Rd. - Laura Siegemund def. Silvia Soler-Espinosa
In 2:57, Siegemund finally gets her first victory of 2017, breaking out of her 0-8 freefall.

11. $15K Wirral Final - Maia Lumsden def. Maja Chwalinska
British teen Lumsden, 19, wins the Maia vs. Maja battle to pick up her first pro singles title. Chwalinska, 15, failed to grab her maiden title on the same weekend in which her Polish junior doubles partner Iga Swiatek (they won the Traralgon GD title and reached the AO GD final in January) won her second. Still, the girl with her very own Radwanskian bag of tricks paired with Miyabi Inoue to win in ITF doubles for the first time in her career.

12. Budapest Q1 - Aliaksandra Sasnovich def. Galina Voskoboeva
In 3:00, Sasnovich, too, showed that she didn't leave her Fed Cup fight behind in Minsk. Must be a Belarussian thing.
HM- Doha 1st Rd. - Samantha Stosur def. Anastasija Sevastova
Things just weren't going Sevastova's way here...


It's that time of the year again...this time in triplicate

@serenawilliams is the greatest. Deal with it. ??

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Tennis in bathing suits... Who's in?! ?????? @si_swimsuit #SISwim

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1. Doha Final - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Caroline Wozniacki
5-0 vs. Top 10ers, and 11-0 vs. the Top 50, in 2017; and more titles (4) than any other player on tour since she "unlocked" the classified secrets to success last summer in Nottingham, England.

2. Doha 1st Rd. - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis def. Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson
The latest "vacation" in the Chan sisters' partnership -- occurring, incidentally, between events at which they won titles in '16 -- now allow Yung-Jan to team up with Hingis, who finally unshackled herself from the unsuccessful teaming with Vandeweghe. The duo ultimately reached the semis in their debut, falling in a 3rd set TB to Savchuk/Shvedova.

3. Doha 2nd Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. AGA RADWANSKA
Caro moves to 10-6 in her head-to-head with Radwanska, 5-2 since 2014. And she might have won the unofficial "Shot of the Month (vs. Aga)" award, too.

HM- Dubai 1st Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Roberta Vinci
A day after Karolina won in Doha, Kristyna survived in Dubai. Vinci led 6-3/5-4, but Pliskova won out in the first meeting between these two since 2008, when Kristyna was just 16.


Genie had quite the eventful week...

But now...

Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you gotta keep moving (and smile) ??

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Caro and the far less impressive-looking Doha runner-up trophy

?? @linabeagle

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Cheers to a Flirty day! ??#happyvalentinesday

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**2015-17 WTA FINALS**
13 - Angelique Kerber (7-6)
11 - Serena Williams (8-3)
8 - Simona Halep (6-2)
8 - Aga Radwanska (6-2)
7 - Petra Kvitova (5-2)
7 - Dominika Cibulkova (4-3)
6 - Venus Williams (4-2)

**2015-17 WTA SEMIFINALS**
19...Angelique Kerber (8/11/0)
18...Aga Radwanska (8/9/1)
16...Serena Williams (9/6/1)
15...Elina Svitolina (6/7/2)
15...Simona Halep (9/6/0)

35y,6m,2w - Abigail Spears, USA (AO MX)
35y,4m - Serena Williams, USA (AO WS)

71 years - Peshke/Srebotnik (2014 Rome)
70 years - SPEARS/SREBOTNIK (2017 DOHA)
70 years - S.Williams/V.Williams (2016 Wimbledon)
66 years - Kops-Jones/Spears (2015 Linz)

2+1 - Sania Mirza, IND (1-1,0-1 mx)
2 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (2-0)
2 - Andrea Hlavackova, CZE (1-1)
2 - Raluca Olaru, ROU (1-1)
2 - Peng Shuai, CHN (1-1)
1+1 - ABIGAIL SPEARS, USA (1-0,1-0 mx)

55 - Martina Hingis, SUI
53 - Liezel Huber, USA
41 - Sania Mirza, IND
28 - Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
27 - Kveta Peschke, CZE

10 - Kveta Peshke (2010-12,14)
4 - Tina Krizan (1998-01)
4 - Nadia Petrova (2008,13)
4 - Ai Sugiyama (2007-08)
3 - Shinobu Asagoe (2005-06)
3 - Emilie Loit (2005)
2 - Dinara Safina (2006-07)
1 - Caroine Garcia (2015)
1 - Laura Golarsa (1999)
1 - Anna-Lena Groenefeld (2009)
1 - Jelena Jankovic (2013)
1 - Mara Santangelo (2007)
1 - Abigail Spears (2017)
1 - Asa Svensson (2003)
2 - Nenad Zimonjic (2006,10)
1 - Bob Bryan (2003)
1 - Daniel Nestor (2011)
1 - Piet Norval (1999)

51 - Martina Navratilova (1974-81)#
27 - Hana Mandlikova (1978-87)
24 - Jana Novotna (1988-99)
19 - Petra Kvitova (2009-16)
10 - Helena Sukova (1982-92)
10 - Regina Mariskova (1976-81)
7 - Lucie Safarova (2005-16)
# - won 4 (1974-75) TCH pre Sept.'75 defection; 47 (1974-81) "stateless"
# - won 116 (1981-94) USA

**2017 ITF TITLES**
2...Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
2...Marketa Vondrousova, CZE

DUBAI, UAE (Premier 5/Hard Outdoor)
16 Singles Final: Errani d. Strycova
16 Doubles Final: Chuang/Jurak d. Garcia/Mladenovic
17 Top Seeds: Kerber/Ka.Pliskova

#7 Svitolina d. #8 Vesnina
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #10 Wozniacki
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #7 Svitolina

...can Pliskova keep it up? Is Svitolina ready to win her first BIG title? Will Kerber get her season back on course? There are a lot of stories wandering the desert in Dubai.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (Int'l/Hard Outdoor)
16 Singles Final: (2016 $100K: Kostova d. Tomova)
16 Doubles Final: (2016 $100K: Burgic Bucko/Garcia Perez d. Kuncikova/Stuchla)
17 Top Seeds: Babos/Safarova

(Q) Kontaveit d. #1 Babos
#2 Safarova d. #8 Beck
#2 Safarova d. (Q) Kontaveit

...why not keep the Czech train going without interruption?

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Although a righty, Kasatkina has a Nadal type hitch on the forehand. As good as she is on hard, she should be better on clay. SF or better this season on clay won't be a shock.

This is a little long, but hopefully worth it.

Stat of the Week-15-The age of Andrea Jaeger when she beat #1 Tracy Austin. When Kasatkina got her earlier win against Kerber(more on her later), Kerber was #1, adding her to the list of teens in recent years that have beat the #1. Since the beginning of 2013, that is only Stephens, Bencic and Kasatkina.

It isn't a surprise that Jaeger won, but a mild one that Austin got to #1. In an 11 1/2 yr span from early 76 to late 87, Austin was the only other player besides Chris and Martina to reach the top spot. They had such a lock on the top that Headband Hana(Mandlikova on your scorecard) reached 8 slam finals(4-4) and only made it to #3. Ironically, she did that in 1984 without reaching one.

History the repeated itself for 10 more years, with Graf and Seles, and Sanchez Vicario being the 3rd person. Contrast to now, where 12 women have been #1 the last 11 1/2 years.

Part 2 below.

Mon Feb 20, 09:23:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

The fact that Kerber has been playing uninspiring tennis even when she has won brings up the question-Is this a blip, or something more? Let's look at some numbers:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit A is someone, who like Kerber reached 3 slams in a 5 slam period. Although that also applied to Ivanovic(07-F,08-AO,08-F) and Azarenka twice(12-A, 12-USO, 13-A and last 2 with 13-USO), this is Safina. Now the 82 pct are Serena type numbers, and are unsustainable, so some regression was expected. However the red flag was that in the 09-10 stretch, she started 13-2, then went 13-11 the rest of the year. Kerber doesn't even match that standard, as she is 13-8 since the US Open.

Exhibit C is Mauresmo, as she is the last person before Kerber to win her first 2 slams in the same season. Also in a similar fashion, her winning percentage had not changed much in her two year hot streak, as she was having success, just not winning slams. This is another red flag for Kerber, as Mauresmo's winning pct dropped 11 pct, but won 18 less matches.

Exhibit B is Kerber, and the numbers aren't in her favor. If she only drops 11% like Mauresmo, that is a 59% win pct for this season. And the way she is playing, that is realistic. Another red flag is that after the career 52/53 wk streaks, Mauresmo and Safina both reached the SF at their next slam,Mauresmo-06/USO, Safina-09/W then never made it that far again. Kerber reached the 4th rd.

Rankings listed were those at the start of a particular period. Safina ended at 9, Mauresmo at 10. Realistically Kerber should be about the same. Right now, her USO points alone would have her at 20, and with Wimbledon at 12. But the ranking at the end of the year may mask how disappointing it may seem, although history shows that this is an expected dip.

Mon Feb 20, 09:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Interesting stats, as they also point out not only the possible mental aftereffects of such a great season, but the physical issues involved after playing at such a high, consistent level. Their success meant the player played far more matches in the two-slam season than in the one that followed, which can probably be attributed as much to being fatigued and worn down as having a loss of game form (though they do generally go hand-in-hand).

Although she's not in the mix here since she didn't win slams, you sort of wonder if Radwanska's current hit/miss run can be linked to her playing deeply in so many tournaments over most of the last two seasons.

That's where someone like Pliskova needs to watch herself. You sort of wonder if she might be better off to lose early in Dubai to avoid playing TOO much so early in the season, since I'd expect she'll also be playing in BOTH Indian Wells and Miami next month, as well.

Another thing with Kerber, and something that may make her the baseline by which to compare players in the future, is that she pulled off the two slams in a year feat at a later time in her career than the others, and if/when that happens again that player's year-after results will be able to be weighed against hers this year at a similar stage in a career.

I think I've made this comparison before, but Mandlikova's success is comparable to Wawrinka's, as both managed to win 3+ slams even while competing in an era when just a few all-time level players claimed the vast majority of the major titles won during the timespan. Mandlikova even almost completed a Career Slam (she only needed Wimbledon, and lost in the final there twice) while competing against Chris/Martina. She had one of the more underappreciated careers in the sport, I think.

Mon Feb 20, 01:56:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Agree on Mandlikova, she may not have won, but didn't roll over when she lost.

The interesting about mentioning Wawrinka, is that Safina's 08-09 run is extremely similar to Magnus Norman's(ATP Coach of the Year) 99-00 run. Complete with both having physical issues within 2 years.

Tue Feb 21, 10:21:00 AM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

As you know, Mandlikova is one of my favorite players of all time. If she hadn't been such a head case, she would have won even more majors "against the odds." I think of her and Sanchez Vicario as the two players who--though sandwiched in between two mighty champions throughout their careers--found ways to win big.

Tue Feb 21, 11:25:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

I think it is fair to say that The Big Four so far this season are Serena, Pliskova, Svitolina and Wozniacki. So they are the heavy favorites for IW/Miami. If someone else were to win, say Konjuh, since she uses her legs through a shot better than anybody except Serena, they might have to go through 3, if not all 4.


*Svitolina used although she will probably be in the 9-16 bracket. Even if she beats Wozniacki, she would need Keys and one other to withdraw.

Also, with Doha points off, Suzrez Navarro is out of the Top 20, and Ostapenko down to 70.

Sat Feb 25, 10:21:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, to this point, I think those would be the 1-4 top players so far this season, though special mention would likely have to go to the likes of Konta (who started January so well), Vandeweghe (who had some of the most attention-getting performances, in both good and somewhat not-so-good ways), Venus (for the best non-title winning performance) and Kasatkina (like Svitolina, she has two wins over Kerber, and has flashed brightly on a few occasions, though she's had trouble stringing together results).

Sun Feb 26, 12:30:00 AM EST  

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