Sunday, May 07, 2017

Wk.18- Anastasia on an Ascent?

All of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's off-court work in 2016 is finally paying off. In 2017.

Blessed with the power and talent to succeed since she was a dominant junior star, the now 25-year old Russian's pro career has often been marked by inconsistency, fitness issues and hit-or-miss slam results. Last season, during a brief coaching stint with Dieter Kindlmann (who this week joined Madison Keys' team) that began last spring, Pavlyuchenkova took the first steps toward "figuring things out." While she'd still been able to put up good results during her career, winning eight titles from 2010-15, playing in a pair of slam QF in '11 and reaching a career high (#13) that same season, she'd been spinning her wheels, stuck in the #20's in the rankings since her breakthrough season, doing just enough to maintain her position but showing no signs of real progress.

Kindlmann pushed the Russian to consistently put in the work off the court and, slowly but surely, more consistent (if not yet spectacular) results started to show up ON it, as well. Weird, huh? After years of hearing people tell her that she should do better at Wimbledon, but never believing it to be true, she put together a no-sets-lost jaunt into her first quarterfinal at the AELTC (her first at any major in five years) before falling to someone named Serena. Pavlyuchenkova credited her more consistent off court work schedule for allowing her to come to London fitter and more prepared for the grass court season. After revealing that she'd always hated the grass, she even admitted that it really wasn't so bad, after all, now that she was *ready* to play on the surface. Go figure.

While her stint with Kindlemann didn't carry over into '17, it appears as if the bulb he helped to illuminate above Pavlyuchenkova's head has remained lit this season. What has happened to her during the opening months of this year is a good example of how a player can move from coach to coach, holding close the ideas that work, while discarding others and replacing them with new notions that help to fill in other sore spots in her game. While she improved many things in '16, she didn't win any titles for the first time since 2012 (even while matching her #28 finish from '15 with the same final standing last season) and went 0-7 in singles quarterfinals. With Simon Goffin installed as coach (he's gotten some attention this season for the coarseness of his miked on-court sessions with Pavlyuchenkova during changeovers), in January she reached her first career QF at the Australian Open, completing a "Career QF Slam" with her second such result at a major in less than seven months, matching her total through the first eight years of her slam career. After losing her first three quarterfinals this season, her 0-10 run finally ended last month in Monterrey. Having cleared that hurdle, she won the Mexican event for the fourth time in her career, her first title since Linz in '15, and put up her first career #1 win with a victory over Angelique Kerber in the final.

While Pavlyuchenkova has yet to figure out Fed Cup, where Captain Anastasia Myskina continues to place her in unenviable positions despite a decided lack of success (4-8 in FC singles), she didn't allow her role in the latest Russian collapse of two weekends ago to thwart her progress. Instead, she went to Rabat and picked up where she left off in Monterrey, running her tour-level winning streak to ten matches, winning a second singles title in a season for the first time since 2014.

With a rare hard court/clay court title streak (just the fifth on tour since '09, with the others achieved by players named Williams and Azarenka, though there were three weeks between the Russian's runs), Pavlyuchenkova could soon find herself with more chances to hit the ground running in a slam event over the next few months in tournaments where some of the bigger names in the sport will still be absent or having just returned. With the birth of so many first-time slam semifinalists in the majors in recent seasons, could Pavlyuchenkova soon add *her* name to the list? She's already been one match away from such a result at all four slams during her career, but never has she been as prepared or in a more advantageous position to take the next step in such a match as she may find herself in Paris, London and maybe even New York in what remains of 2017.

Is she finally ready to take the plunge?

Feeling fresh winning a title ... ?????? wohoo #2inarow

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S: Mona Barthel/GER def. Kristyna Pliskova/CZE 2-6/7-5/6-2
D: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke (GER/CZE) d. Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova (CZE/CZE) 6-4/7-6(3)
S: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Francesca Schiavone/ITA 7-5/7-5
D: Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (HUN/CZE) d. Nina Stojanovic/Marina Zanevska (SRB/BEL) 2-6/6-3 [10-5]

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
...not only does WTA win #10 tie Pavlyuchenkova with Anastasia Myskina for seventh in career singles titles amongst the Russians, but also for the top spot as far as WTA players named Anastasia. Wins over Conny Perrin, countrywoman Ekaterina Makaraova, Lauren Davis and two veteran Italians, Sara Errani (SF) and Francesca Schiavone (F), gives the Hordette a ten match winning streak and a head of steam heading into the truly B-I-G EuroClay events of the spring circuit. Ranked #16, with nothing more than a handful of QF results to defend the remainder of the season, Pavlyuchenkova might just edge out her fellow Hordette, #14 Elena Vesnina (now officially on a bit of a slide since her Indian Wells title, with a 2-5 record following her 1st Round loss in Madrid on Saturday), in the race to become the 14th Soviet/Russian to reach the Top 10.

And, best of all, no more Fed Cup for her in 2017.

Of course, "Pavlyuchenkova being Pavlyuchenkova," and all that particular phrase means in this space, she's already out of Madrid, losing to Sorana Cirstea 6-1/3-6/7-6(5) in the 1st Round. But, considering the total disadvantage any player who did ANYTHING in Prague or Rabat has in Spain this week in a SATURDAY-starting event where they not only don't receive a 1st Round bye, but they don't even get a single day off after arriving on tournament grounds, Pavlyuchenkova should probably be credited for putting up a fight at all vs. the Romanian twenty-four hours after winning in Rabat, let alone overcoming a 4-0 3rd set deficit to push things to a deciding TB.
RISERS: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE and Camila Giorgi/ITA
...her twin sister Karolina came into Prague as the #1 seed and, even with her scratchy history on clay, was a better bet to put together a run to the final. But it was Kristyna who actually did as much, while Karolina fell in the 1st Round to Camila Giorgi. Wins over Jelena Jankovic, Beatriz Haddad and Jelena Ostapenko, along with a 2nd Round walkover from ill defending champ Lucie Safarova, pushed Pliskova into her second career tour-level final (she'd yet to reach a semi in '17). Kristyna took the opening set vs. Mona Barthel, but ultimately fell in three, then was yet another victim of the two-quick Week 18/19 changeover to Madrid, as one day after playing in the Prague final she was in Spain facing defending champ Simona Halep in a 1st Round match there. She won just three games. Still, she'll rise to a new career high of #46 on Monday, breaking through the Top 50 barrier for the first time.

Thank you Prague? #bestfans

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While Italian vets Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani were putting up good results in Rabat, Giorgi came out of the gate with great strength in Prague, knocking off #1-seeded, '15 tournament champ Karolina Pliskova in the 1st Round. She followed up with another victory over Wang Qiang before losing to eventual champ Mona Barthel in the QF in a pair of tie-break sets. It's the third QF-or-better result this season for the 25-year old Italian (world #99), with her Shenzhen SF and Biel QF.

SURPRISES: Beatriz Haddad Maia/BRA and Dejana Radanovic/SRB
...the most quickly improving player on the South American continent, so soon after she picked up her second Bogota doubles title in three years, Brazil's Haddad Maia had another eye-opening week. In Prague, the 20-year old world #144 (her career high) became the second South American to reach a tour-level singles QF (w/ Veronica Cepede Royg) in '17, making her way through qualifying with wins over Ekaterina Alexandrova, Rebecca Sramkova and Donna Vekic, then pulling off main draw upsets of #45 Christina McHale and '16 tournament finalist #19 Samantha Stosur (just 5 games won) for the two biggest wins of her career. In fact, it's apparently the first time in twenty-eight years that a player from Brazil notched a Top 20 victory (Andrea Vieira def. #10 Conchita Martinez in '89, one of three Top 20 wins she had that season). Haddad lost to Kristyna Pliskova in the QF, but will reach another new career high ranking of #115 this week.

In Khimki, Russia, 20-year old Serb Radanovic picked up her fourth '17 challenger title, tying for the season circuit lead. Ranked #340, she defeated Hordette Anastasia Potapova in the semis, then another Russian, Anna Morgina, by a 6-3/6-3 score to claim the singles title and improve to 4-1 in finals on the year.

VETERANS: Francesca Schiavone/ITA and Varvara Lepchenko/USA close, oh so close.

Schiavone's recent title run in Bogota was easily seen as maybe the soon-to-retire, soon-to-turn-37 year old's last great result. But hold on. In Rabat she was once again armed with a wild card, as she was in Colombia, and the Italian very nearly did it again. Reaching her twentieth career tour final, all eight since the start of 2010 coming on clay, Schiavone put up victories over #4-seeded Timea Babos, Gaby Dabrowski, Tatjana Maria and Varvara Lepchenko to run her winning streak to nine matches. She lost a tight 7-5/7-5 final to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but her run will lift her from #100 to #77 in the rankings and assure her an automatic berth in her seventeenth consecutive main draw at Roland Garros, where she's gone 40-15 in her career, reaching two finals and winning her sole slam crown in 2010.

One suspects her Paris goodbye will, while sad, also be just as affirming as her words after Saturday's final...

Pressed into (too) early action in the ridiculously early 1st Round in Madrid, Schiavone fell in three sets to Johanna Larsson on Sunday, 5-7/6-3/6-1.

In the same Rabat event, soon-to-turn-31 Lepchenko (#73) notched her first tour-level semifinal since 2015 (and first since her name was featured prominently in the other messy ITF "suspension" incident from last year). Wins over Kirsten Flipkens, Yulia Putintseva and CiCi Bellis preceded a final four loss to Schiavone. Securely in the MD in Paris with a #66 ranking, Lepchenko will soon be looking for her first Roland Garros match win since 2014. She reached the Round of 16 there in 2012, her first of two career slam 4th Round results (w/ '15 U.S. Open).

COMEBACKS: Mona Barthel/GER and Sara Errani/ITA
...based on her Prague title run, Barthel has recovered pretty well from a '16 season scuttled by back issues and illness. Not that she didn't have to fight back against adversity ON the court over the past week, as well. After starting the '17 season down at #183 in rankings, the German (nearly Top 20 in '13) entered this past week having already improved to #82 over the first four months of the season. She barey escaped the qualifying rounds in Prague, though, saving three MP vs. Jasmine Paolini in her second Q-match. An additional qualifying win over Denisa Allertova got her into the MD, where she put up wins over Zhang Shuai, Oceane Dodin (firing 14 aces vs. the Pastry), Camila Giorgi (coming back from 5-2 down in a 2nd set, with the Italian serving for the set, and 5-1 down in the TB, saving 3 SP, to win 7-6(0)/7-6(6)), and Barbora Strycova to reach her seventh career final. Against Francesca Schiavone, she won out over the veteran by a 7-5/7-5 score. The final appearance was her first since Luxembourg in 2015, and the win -- the fourth of her career -- her first since Bastad in 2014. The 26-year old will climb to #56 in the new rankings.

Newly 30 and off her 2-0 delaying-the-inevitable record in Team Italia's Fed Cup win over Taiwan, #102-ranked Errani put up her best result since last summer's Olympics. Rabat wins over Anna Blinkova, Alison Riske and Dasha Gavrilova gave the veteran her first multiple-win singles event since Rio, her first tour semifinal since last year in Charleston, and her first SF on red clay since 2015 in Bucharest. After beating a hastry retreat from Morocco, she made it to Madrid in time to lose her opening qualifying match to Pauline Parmentier, 6-2/2-6/6-2. She's 12-11 on the season.

FRESH FACES: Jelena Ostapenko/LAT and CiCi Bellis/USA
...more and more often, Ostapenko is walkin' here.

In Prague, the 19-year old Latvian walked all the way to her third SF-or-better result of the season with wins over Lesia Tsurenko, Caroline Wozniacki (she put up 70 winners to defeat the Dane for a third time this season) and Ana Konjuh (in a two-day match that picked up at 1-1 in the 3rd set on Friday, with her winning 6-3). After finishing off Konjuh, Ostapenko had to play her semi vs. Kristyna Pliskova later in the day, losing in straight sets. Then, in a theme for this week's post, Ostapenko's good run in the Czech Republic prevented her from event being able to participate in Madrid, as she probably smartly skipped her qualifying round date in Spain altogether. The two-time '17 WD title winner will still play doubles, though. She's teaming with Chan Hao-Ching.

Meanwhile, Bellis is putting up quite an argument for her inclusion on a future Captain Kathy Rinaldi Fed Cup roster. The 18-year old's Rabat week, which ended a three-match losing streak (her first since summer '15), included wins over Nao Hibino and defending champ Timea Bacsinszky, against whom she saved a MP. She lost in the QF to fellow Bannerette Varvara Lepchenko, but still achieved her second final eight result of '17 in just five events (after ending '16 with back-to-back-to-back titles in two $50K challengers and a WTA 125 event in Hawaii, giving her a 14-match win streak and 21-2 record from the start of U.S. Open qualifying until the end of the year). In Madrid, likely because her not-too-late exit in Morocco allowed her a moment to catch her breath before her next event, she's already posted a three-set win over Dasha Gavrilova on the clay there. Positioned just off her career high of #54, the Top 50 will be the next hurdle for Bellis to leap over. The moment may arrive this week.

DOWN: Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova (CZE/CZE)
...the Czechs truly are a snakebit duo. In Prague, as the #1 seeds, they once again made their way through the draw without losing a set, taking out last week's Stuttgart champs (#3 seeds Atawo/Ostapenko) and reaching their fourth final in the seven events together in 2017. But, as happened in the other three matches, they failed to lift the championship trophy. This time it was a loss to #2-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Kveta Peschke that ended Hradecka & Siniakova's run, a 6-4/7-6(3) defeat that means the all-Maiden pair have lost eight of nine sets in their final appearances this season. The duo's results have an almost frightening consistency, as they go something like this: 1st-RU-1st-RU-1st-RU-RU, and it all began with a 1st Round defeat in Melbourne at the hands of... yep, you guess it, Groenefeld/Peschke.

They both share a tendency to let these sort of results pile up, as well. 20-year old Siniakova, after going 2-1 in her first two tour WD finals, has now lost five straight, having last won a doubles title in May '15. After dropping her first two tour singles finals in '16, she did win on her third try in Week 1 of this season in Shenzhen, though. Hradecka, 31, is still looking for her first tour singles title, having gone 0-7 in career finals, with the most recent being at this same Prague event in 2015 (to Karolina Pliskova). While Siniakova reached the QF in singles this week, Hradecka began this event by losing in the opening round of singles qualifying to 16-year old fellow Czech Karolina Berankova in her first career match in a WTA tournament.
ITF PLAYERS: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK and Madison Brengle/USA
...Rybarikova, now 28, has dealt with a slew of injuries throughout a career which has seen her snag four tour singles titles and climb as high as #31 in the rankings. Though the Slovak has only reached the 3rd Round of a major three times, she put together five consecutive Top 100 finishes, and seven in eight seasons, until a #154 finish in 2016 after her latest issue: July wrist surgery that kept her out of commission between Wimbledon and February of this year. After putting up a $25K semifinal result in her last outing, #384 Ryabarikova, in the main draw by way of a protected ranking due to her injury, won the title at this week's $80K challenger in Gifu, Japan. Wins over Eri Hozumi, Julia Glushko, Luksika Kumkhum and Zhu Lin in a 6-2/6-3 final give Rybarikova an 11-4 mark so far in her comeback. She'll rise to #246 in the new rankings, and is likely eyeing the grass court season where she's had some of her best successes in the past.

In Charleston, Madison Brengle wrapped up her second straight $60K challenger title by defeating two-time NCAA champ Danielle Collins in a 4-6/6-2/6-3 final. After taking the title in Charlottesville last weekend with a win in the final over Caroline Dolehide, Brengle opened her week in South Carolina with, yep, another win over Dolehide, as she followed up her 4 & 3 win with a 4 & 2 victory over the teenager. Next to fall, in order, were Ajla Tomljanovic, Lauren Embree and Claire Liu as Brengle ran her straight sets win streak to nine matches before finally dropping the opening set of the final in her three-set win over Collins.
JUNIOR STAR: Yasmine Mansouri/FRA
...15-year old Pastry Mansouri claimed her first career Grade 1 title at the Mediterranee Avenir tournament in Morocco. The #125-ranked girl, Mansouri reached the semifinals of another G1 event in Colombia in January, but improved that result by two wins this time around. The #13 seed, she defeated #3 Elysia Bolton (USA) 7-5/6-1 in the final, completing her biggest-ever title run without dropping a set all week.

DOUBLES: Anna-Lena Groenfeld/Kveta Peschke (GER/CZE) and Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (HUN/CZE)
...Groenefeld & Peschke's win in Prague gave the a Czech a share of the doubles title for all four years that the Prague Open has been a full-fledged WTA event (and five in a row back to when it was a $100K challenger). Peschke becomes the fourth different Maiden over the past four years (fifth in five, and sixth in eight back to the event's 2010 ITF debut) to claim a portion of the title.

2011 Petra Cetkovska (ITF)
2013 Barbora Strycova (ITF)
2014 Lucie Hradecka
2015 Katerina Siniakova
2016 Andrea Hlavackova
2017 Kveta Peschke

The #2-seeds, ALG/Peschke knocked off #4 Muhammad/Rosolska in the semis to reach their eleventh final together since 2012, then the #1-seeded all-Czech pair of Hradecka/Siniakova in straights sets to win their fourth title as a duo. For Groenefeld, it's career title #15, while 41-year old Peschke now has twenty-eight, but her first since 2014.

In Rabat, Babos & Hlavackova won their first title as a pair, advancing to the final without dropping a set (with a SF win over "The Bracelet & the Unicorn" -- Krunic & Gavrilova), then defeated Nina Stojanovic & Marina Zanevska in a 10-5 3rd set TB to take the crown. It's career title #21 for Hlavackova, who was 1-2 in previous '17 finals while partnering Peng Shuai, while Babos now has thirteen, including another earlier this season with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Not bad for a first-time team playing together not long after Peng ended her partnership with Hlavackova in order to focus on singles.


Baby stepp-...runnin'...

Baby dancin'...

Baby boy (Lalie has a new little brother)...

1. Prague Q2 - Mona Barthel def. Jasmine Paolini
Suddenly, the "other" Italians are stirring. First Trevisan in Fed Cup, and now Paolini. She served up 5-4, 40/love in the 3rd, but failed to put away three MP. Barthel stole the match, then eventually ran off with the tournament singles title six matches later.

2. Rabat 2nd Rd. - CiCi Bellis def. Timea Bacsinszky
In 3:08, Bellis wins after saving a MP at 5-4 in the 3rd set. "Hello...(pause)...Captain Kathy, there's a 'CiCi' for you on Line 1."
3. Prague 2nd Rd. - Jelena Ostapenko def. Caroline Wozniacki
In Charleston, the teenager out-winnered the Dane 40-14. Here it was 70-21, including a 35-6 edge in forehand winners (to go along with Ostapenko's 51 unforced errors for the match, of course). The Latvian finally won on her sixth MP (3 on serve) to get her third '17 win over Wozniacki. The Dane was pushed again on Sunday in Madrid, but managed to survive a 3:27 marathon against Monica Niculescu after the Swarmette saved a MP in the 2nd and forced a deciding 3rd, which was won 6-4 by Caro.

4. Rabat Final - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Francesca Schiavone
The Russian is now one of seventeen "active" players (counting Zvonereva, doubles specialist Hingis, and soon-to-retire doubles special Medina-Garrigues) with double-digit tour singles titles.

5. Madrid 1st Rd. - Zheng Saisai def. Elina Svitolina
Svitolina held two MP in the 2nd set, and led 4-2 in the TB before qualifier Zheng ran off five consecutive points to force a 3rd. The Ukrainian saved five MP to hold for 3-5, but Zheng accepted the challenge and served out the win. Those International title runs are nice point-getters and all, but one has to wonder if Svitolina is fully prepared for the big stage clay court events still to come this spring. Especially THE big one.

6. Madrid 1st Rd. - Timea Bacsinszky def. Garbine Muguruza
Speaking of maybe not being ready for Paris...
7. Rabat 1st Rd. - Elise Mertens def. Pauline Parmentier 4-6/7-6(7)/6-2
Rabat 2nd Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova def. Elise Mertens 6-2/6-1
after saving 2 MP vs. Parmentier, Fed Cup star and Istanbul finalist Mertens finally hit the wall.
8. Madrid 1st Rd. - Lauren Davis def. Monica Puig
In a 2:48 match, Davis nearly flopped, failing to serve out the match at 5-3, then seeing Puig attempt to do the same at 6-5. *She* didn't, either. A week after reaching her fourth '17 quarterfinal in Rabat, the most by any North American so far this season, the Bannerette survived.
9. Prague SF - Mona Barthel def. Barbora Strycova
The Czech has reached three semis in '17, but has yet to taste a singles final berth.
10. $60K Charleston 1st Rd. - Madison Brengle def. Caroline Dolehide 6-4/6-2
$60K Charleston 2nd Rd. - Elizaveta Ianchuk def. Vicky Duval 6-3/1-1 ret.
with the only two remaining contenders ousted early, 15-year old Amanda Anisimova wraps up the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Playoff Challenge berth. She'll be the first player born in 2001 to play a slam MD match, and the youngest in Paris since Alize Cornet in 2005.

11. $80K Gifu 1st Rd. - Zhu Lin def. Kimiko Date
And the 46-year old Japanese vet is officially back.

And then this happened...

12. $15K Gyos Final - Iga Swiatek def. Gabriela Horackova
As Aga sinks a little, Iga continues to rise. The #15-ranked junior improved her career record in ITF singles finals to 3-0. While Anisimova (born August 31, 2001) is slated to become the first '01-er to play in a slam MD, this one (born May 21, 2001) likely won't be far behind.

13. Madrid 1st Rd. - Misaki Doi def. Madison Keys
Doi finally gets her first Top 10 win. Of course, you remember how close she came to her first such victory at last year's Australian Open (hint: Angie Excellent).

14. Madrid 1st Rd. - Laura Siegemund def. Johanna Konta
The Stuttgart champ comes storming back from a 3-0 3rd set deficit. Meanwhile, the Brit is showing nice fight on the clay this season, but will it matter in Paris?
15. Madrid 1st Rd. - Roberta Vinci def. Daria Kasatkina
Kasatkina will have to be satisfied with this...

And this...

16. $25K Wiesbaden Final - Kathinka von Deichmann def. Petra Martic
In early April, Martic's comeback was kicked off by a qualifier-to-champion run topped off by a win in a singles final over von Deichman. The 22-year old Liechtensteiner got some revenge here. Still, the Czech is 17-3 in '17, with W-SF-SF-RU results put up so far.
HM- Madrid 1st Rd. - Genie Bouchard def. Alize Cornet 6-4/4-6/6-1
Madrid 1st Rd. - Maria Sharapova def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6/6-4/6-0
and so, with remarkably similar scorelines, the latest headliner, post-suspension match-up for Sharapova will be a 2nd Rounder against the player who once idolized her, then was beaten by her on the court, then called her a "cheater" who should be given a "lifetime ban" AFTER she'd served a 15-month suspension in which... awwwl, forget it, I'm tired of talking about it.

But, still, there was a time when Genie looked like she was trying to make a living doing a Maria impersonation...

In 2013, she enjoyed their "connection"...

But things change...

Of note in Madrid, though, is that Bouchard DID notch her first MD tour win since the Australian Open, while Sharapova staged a comeback against MLB that included a really odd-looking stat board that included numbers -- Lucic with a 41-16 winners edge, for one -- that one wouldn't normally expect to see in a match in which the Russian won at all, let alone ended up with an overall ten-point advantage.

Said Sharapova of the encounter and her opponent...

For the record, Sharapova is 4-0 vs. Bouchard, with their most recent meeting coming in Melbourne in 2015. She's got a 2-0 edge on the Canadian on the clay of Roland Garros, though Genie did manage to get her only set off the Russian in their '14 match there.

But now...


Czech on deck...

Kader being all... well, Nouni

1. The Week in Pliskova...
Prague 1st Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA 7-6(6)/6-2
Prague 1st Rd. - Asia Muhammad/Alicja Rosolska def. Viktorija Golubic/KRISTYNA PLISKOVA 6-4/4-6 [10-6]
not a good result for Karolina, the #1 seed who won the title in '15 and reached the semis last year. Kristyna was just warming up, though.
Prague 1st Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Jelena Jankovic
JJ is 2-3 vs. the twins.
Prague 2nd Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA walkover Lucie Safarova
Lucie has to treat her illness "moments" with kid gloves.
Prague QF - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Beatriz Haddad Maia
First semifinal of the year!
Prague SF - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Jelena Ostapenko
Second career tour final!
Prague Final - Mona Barthel def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA 2-6/7-5/6-2
Madrid 1st Rd. - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Lesia Tsurenko 7-6(5)/2-6/6-2
while Kristyna was ending her week on a sour note, Karolina was starting her own by rebounding in Madrid.
Madrid 1st Rd. - Simona Halep def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
And, suddenly, the twins have switched places. So to speak.
2. $25K Wiesbaden SF - Petra Martic def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
A semifinal *loss* for AKS. But, hey, a SEMIFINAL! The world #252, who was ranked #26 just eighteen months ago, had lost three straight and was on a 1-4 slide before this week. With her three wins, she's now 10-11 on the season and at least gets to sleep with only *one* eye open for a few days.
3. $15K Antalya QF - Barbara Gatica def. YANA MORDERGER 6-4/6-3
$15K Antalya QF - Elena Ryabakina def. TAYISIYA MORDERGER 6-2/6-1
$15K Antalya SF - Amina Anshba def. MAGDALENA PANTUCKOVA 6-4/6-0
apparently, one had to sacrifice a sister in order to reach the winner's circle in Antalya. Gatica went on to defeat Anshba in the singles final, while Anshba & Rybakina shared the doubles crown.

2017 continues to treat Belinda Bencic like it's still 2016 (a plight to be showcased next year in the blockbuster movie, "Coming to America II")

With movie-style athletic training montage music in the background...

New dance moves "The Hurdles" ??????

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The Bracelet & the Unicorn

???? photo credit: @arodionova1 ??

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3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [Taipei City,Dubai,Istanbul]
2 - Johanna Konta, GBR [Sydney,Miami]
2 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE [Brisbane,Doha]

**2017 WTA FINALS**
3...Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-0)
3...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-2)
3...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (0-3)
2...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-0)
2...Johanna Konta, GBR (2-0)
2...Elise Mertens, BEL (1-1)

**2017 WTA SF**
4...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (3-1)
4...Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-1)
4...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-2)
3...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (3-0)
3...Johanna Konta, GBR (2-1)
3...Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, CRO (0-3)

**2017 #1 SEED WON TITLE**
Taipei City: Elina Svitolina, UKR (def. Peng)
Budapest: Timea Babos, HUN (def. Safarova)
Istanbul: Elina Svitolina, UKR (def. Mertens)

Taipei City: Elina Svitolina, UKR (4 MP - QF/Jabeur)
[most MP saved en route to title, 2015-17]
8 - Andrea Petkovic, GER (2015 Antwerp)
4 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (2017 Taipei City)
3 - Sara Errani, ITA (2015 Rio)
3 - Camila Giorgi, ITA (2015 's-Hertogenbosch)
2 - Daniela Hantuchova, SVK (2015 Pattaya)
2 - Lara Arruabarrena, ESP (2016 Seoul)

Elina Svitolina, UKR = Hard,Red Clay
[finals on multiple surfaces]
Elise Mertens, BEL = Hard,Red Clay
Kristina Mladenovic, FRA = Hard,Red Clay
Elina Svitolina, UKR = Hard,Red Clay

Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (#127, Q) [W]
Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty, AUS (#158, Q) [W]
Bogota - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (#168, WC) [W]
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (#233, Q) [W]
Stuttgart - Laura Siegemund, GER (#49, WC) [W]

2 (FEB) - Caroline Wozniacki (Doha-L,Dubai-L)

Saint Petersburg - Mladenovic def. Putintseva
Kuala Lumpur - Barty (Q) def. Hibino
Charleston - Kasatkina def. Ostapenko
Biel - Vondrousova (Q) def. Kontaveit
Stuttgart - Siegemund (WC) def. Mladenovic

#233 Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel) [W]
#168 Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota) [W]
#158 Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur) [W]
#127 Elise Mertens, BEL (Hobart) [W]
#106 Nao Hibino, JPN (Kuala Lumpur)
#99 Anett Kontaveit, EST (Biel)

3 - RUS (Kasatkina,PAVLYUCHENKOVA-2,Vesnina)
3 - CZE (Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova)
2 - GER (BARTHEL,Siegemund)
2 - UKR (Svitolina-3,Tsurenko)
2 - USA (Davis,S.Williams)

71 yrs: Australian Open - S.Williams(35) d. V.Williams(36)
61 yrs: Indian Wells - Vesnina(30) d. Kuznetsova(31)
61 yrs: Bogota - Schiavone(36) d. Arruabarrena(25)

5 yrs: Timea Babos, HUN [2/12 Monterrey > 2/17 Budapest]
4 yrs: Elena vesnina, RUS [6/13 Eastbourne > 3/17 I.W.]
3 yrs: MONA BARTHEL, GER [7/14 Bastad > 5/17 Prague]

[since 2000]
2009 Venus Williams (Dubai/HC + Acapulco/RC) *
2010 Venus Williams (Dubai/HC + Acapulco/RC) *
2011 Victoria Azarenka (Miami/HC + Marbella/RC) *
2013 Serena Williams (Miami/HC + Charleston/GC)
* - on two continents
# - non-consecutive weeks (three weeks & Fed Cup loss between events)

3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)
2...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (2-0)
2...Jakupovic/N.Kichenok (1-1)
2...Makarova/Vesnina (1-1)
2...Olaru/Savchuk (1-1)
2...Spears/Srebotnik (1-1)
2...Mirza/Strycova (0-2)
3...Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (3-0)
3...Olga Savchuk, UKR (1-2)
3...Peng Shuai, CHN (1-2)
3+1...Sania Mirza, IND (1-2,0-1 mx)
2+1...Abigail Spears, USA (1-1,1-0 mx)

36,5m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Ind.Wells)
35,49w - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (Doha)
35,7m,1w - Abigail Spears, USA (Doha)
35,6m,2w - Abigail Spears, USA (Aust.Open MX)
34,9m,3w - Anastasia Rodionova, AUS (Acapulco)
34,4m,3w - Raquel Atawo, USA (Stuttgart)
[oldest combo]
72 yrs - GROENEFELD(31) & PESCHKE(41) = PRAGUE
70 yrs - Spears(35) & Srebotnik(35) = Doha
66 yrs - Jurak(32) & An.Rodionova(34) = Acapulco
63 yrs - Y.Chan(27) & Hingis(36) = Indian Wells

56...Martina Hingis, SUI
53...Liezel Huber, USA
41...Sania Mirza, IND
37...Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
28...Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP

2013 Shelby Rogers
2014 Taylor Townsend
2015 Louisa Chirico
2016 Taylor Townsend
2017 Amanda Anisimova

35 - Maria Sharapova (2003-15)
17 - Svetlana Kuznetsova (2002-16)
16 - Elena Dementieva (2003-10)
13 - Nadia Petrova (2005-12)
12 - Vera Zvonareva (2003-11)
12 - Dinara Safina (2002-09)
10 - Anastasia Myskina (1999-05)

Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina, RUS
Miami - Johanna Konta, GBR
Madrid - x
Rome - x
Canada - x
Cincinnati - x
Wuhan - x
Beijing - x
Dubai - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Indian Wells - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Miami - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
Madrid - x

MADRID, SPAIN [Premier Mandatory/Red Clay]
16 Singles Final: Halep d. Cibulkova
16 Doubles Final: Garcia/Mladenovic d. Hingis/Mirza
17 Top Seeds: Kerber/Ka.Pliskova

#14 Mladenovic d. (WC) Sharapova
#3 Halep d. Bacsinszky
#3 Halep d. #14 Mladenovic

...originally, I went with Sharapova. But she's got a million big-time, post-Bouchard obstacles in her way, so who knows if she'll reach the semis. And... I really wanted to go with Halep, anyway.

#4 Mirza/Shvedova d. Bertens/Larsson
#6 Hradecka/Siniakova d. #3 Y.Chan/Hingis
#6 Hradecka/Siniakova d. #4 Mirza/Shvedova the well once more. They'll win one... eventually.

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Ka. Pliskova on clay is similar to Djokovic on grass. She slips a bunch, doesn't slide well, but moves well coming in. Still a threat for a French Open QF with that serve.

Stat of the Week-19- The amount of losses in Jelena Jankovic's best year in 2008.

Yesterday, Jankovic lost another 3 set match. Seems like a broken record, so I took a look at 2008, and compared it to her last 52 weeks. The numbers are not good.

66-19 Total
52-8 2 set matches
14-11 3 set matches

Last 52 weeks
24-24 Total
18-9 2 set matches
6-15 3 set matches

At her peak, she was ending more matches in 2, and winning more than 50% in 3. Now her win % goes from 66% to 28% once you get her to a third.

Not surprisingly, Jankovic's last title(Hong Kong 2015) was a 3 setter. And to continue Todd's theme from his open, this also was a win against Kerber in the final.Fun fact-Jankovic's list doubles final? A loss with Pavlyuchenkova at Den Bosch, also in 2015.

Quiz Time!
Maria Sharapova only has 19 losses on clay the last 11 years. Had she lost to Lucic-Baroni, it would have fit the profile, as she in now in the Top 20. Sharapova only has 6 losses to players outside of that in this time period-Rezai, Safarova, Cibulkova and A.Bondarenko being four. Who are the other two? Hint:They are both grand slam winners.

Insert Jeopardy music.

Answer. Though one would assume that it was a coming off of injury Serena, it isn't. It is a coming out of retirement Henin(22 in 2010), and injury Kuznetsova(29 in 2015). And if Bouchard pulls off the unlikely upset, it should be noted that none of those players were outside the Top 50.

Mon May 08, 04:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Actually, I'm slightly surprised that JJ has even a .500 record over the last 52 weeks. It sure doesn't seem like she's been very close to that at all.

I picked Henin & Muguruza, so (like JJ) it seems like I'm maintaining about a .500 record w/ my quiz answers over the weeks. ;)

Mon May 08, 12:54:00 PM EDT  

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