Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wk.20- In a Rut? Call Simona Svitolina.

Another week, another grandstanding president with a narcissistic streak and authoritarian tendencies taking to an online format to talk about how wonderful he is.

No, not that one. I'm talking about the French Tennis Federation President/Facebook star, Bernard Giudicelli. But more on all that later... Elina is kissing another trophy.






*WEEK 20 CHAMPIONS*
ROME, ITALY (Premier 5/RCO)
S: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Simona Halep/ROU 4-6/7-5/6-1
D: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI) d. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 7-5/7-6(4)




PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Elina Svitolina/UKR
...we'll never know what might have happened in the Rome final had Simona Halep *not* rolled her ankle late in the 1st set, but the continuation of Svitolina's career year (even while she's yet to reach the half-way point of '17) eventually made her title-winning weekend a fait accompli once the Romanian had determined that her injury prevented her being able to chase down balls, and the Ukrainian smelled the finish line.

8-2 in career WTA finals (4-0 in '17), she's 14-4 in all pro (WTA/ITA) singles finals, 12-2 since the start of 2012.

Svitolina's week began with a straight sets win over Alize Cornet that included a 13-11 2nd set TB win, followed by her dropping the opening set of her next match against Mona Barthel. But Svitolina responded with back-to-back bagel sets vs. the German, then won another long TB (11-9) to defeat Karolina Pliskova in straights (ending her 0-5 career run vs. the Czech) before seeing Garbine Muguruza retire with a neck injury five games into a semifinal match. In the final, Halep was in control early, but rolled her ankle late in the 1st. With the Romanian's mobility hindered, and the pain constant, Svitolina seized command late in the 2nd and coasted through the 3rd to wrap up a 4-6/7-5/6-1 win.

After a sizzling 18-2 start through February, Svitolina hit a slight rut (hmmm, maybe *that* was the "rut" Pam Shriver was talking about this week... which is a funny notion, actually, because I'm sure she doesn't even know of that rut's existence, but that's another conversation altogether, isn't it?), going 3-3 up through Ukraine's Fed Cup loss to Germany last month. But she's carried herself through the clay court season with increasingly more successful form. After Rome, she's gone 10-1 in three events, winning two titles, and ending with a big Premier event win to go along with the International title she picked up in Istanbul. As has been the case for much of the season, she's leading the pace on the stats lists, too.

2017 title #4 leads the tour, and she's tied atop the WTA lists (w/ Kristina Mladenovic in both, though the Pastry has just one title) for finals and semis. She leads the Singapore race, as well, and her 31 match victories are more than any other player on tour. After becoming the first Ukrainian to reach the Top 10 earlier this year, she's now up to #6, less than 100 points from becoming the first in the Top 5. Her 5-0 record vs. Top 5 players this season is the tour's best. For her career, Svitolina now has ten Top 5 wins, and fifteen over players in the Top 10 (since February of last year alone, she's posted nine and eleven, respectively).

Does it mean she's now a Roland Garros favorite? Well, her best slam result *is* a QF in Paris in 2015, and she was the junior RG champ in 2010. This title run on clay (on the heels of a similar win in Dubai in February) takes away most of the "International Event Queen" knocks that might come her way, but she still has some honest-to-goodness slam stripes to earn. She surely isn't the "favorite," as really *no* player is in anything but numbers-and-name only in what should be a very competitive major. She very well *could* slip up...



But Svitolina's time is coming. At some point it'll arrive. Maybe even three weeks from now.
===============================================
RISERS: Simona Halep/ROU, Kiki Bertens/NED and Dasha Gavrilova/AUS
...Halep rolled into Rome with the sort of pace that was sure to place a great deal of expectation on her shoulders when it comes to the deep-but-lacking-in-one-name-superstars competition that kicks off in Paris next Sunday (ugh... let's make this the first official crabby reaction to that Sunday start). The Romanian picked up in Italy where she'd left off in Madrid.



Still talking about her "2.0" attitude and how important the tough-love (but brief) walk-out by coach Darren Cahill had set her straight about how to approach things on court when things get tough, Halep added to her '17 tour-leading clay court win total with victories over Laura Siegemund, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (winning a love 3rd after dropping the 2nd, giving her another chance to talk about how she's changed), Anett Kontaveit and Kiki Bertens to reach her second straight final, riding a ten-match winning streak. She was on her way to winning the opening set vs. Elina Svitolina, too. She led 5-2. Then she pretty much completely rolled her right ankle in the backcourt.



Halep played on, and even won the set and was even mid-way through the 2nd. But with the pain persistent, and her inability to run full-out hindering her chances to stay even with the Ukrainian, it all felt apart, piece by piece. After a quick loss of a service game to fall behind 5-3, Halep managed to break with Svitolina serving for the set, but another loss of serve in game #12 sealed Halep's fate. Svitolina took the 2nd at 7-5, and ran off to a 5-0 lead in the 3rd as Halep's lack of mobility (and caution with Paris a week away, combined with a lack of desire to retire) ended the truly competitive part of the final, which would be a great QF/SF/F match-up in Paris should both players be healthy and in good enough form to get that far.



14-2 in the clay season, Halep will be in the RG title mix, assuming this injury (on the opposite foot where she's had previous issues) doesn't linger, and that her somewhat swift move for the exit in the 3rd set was motivated more by pain/desire-to-gut-it-out-to-a-finish than the sort of frustration that she's worked hard to remove from her gameday S.O.P. over the last few months.

Bertens, set to defend her '16 Nurnberg title and RG semifinal over the next three weeks, posted her best result of the clay season in Rome, following up her Madrid QF with a semifinal run. Wins over Monica Niculescu, CiCi Bellis, Ekaterina Makarova and Dasha Gavrilova inspire hope that the 25-year old Dutch woman will finish out her spring clay schedule on another high note, after a 4-9 start to '17 on hard courts (which even included the showing of a few cracks in her sterling Fed Cup reputation in February) had raised a few eyebrows when it came to backing up what was a career season in 2016.



Meanwhile, Gavrilova apparently enjoys taking the long route when she visits Rome. In 2015, in her Italian Open tournament debut, she made her way through qualifying and then upset Belinda Bencic, Ana Ivanovic and Timea Bacsinszky en route to the semifinals. Last year, she'd already earned her place in the draw (and entered the event). After notching wins over Sabine Lisicki and Simona Halep, she fell short with a three-set loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the 3rd Round. This year, once again Dasha was set to made a MD appearance... except for the fact that she forgot to enter the event. Whoops.

No bother, though. The world #27 put up Q-round wins over Aliaksandra Sasnovich (3 sets) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands to reach the MD, then proceeded to get three more wins -- all over Top 25 players -- on her way to a QF result. A trio of three-set victories over Madison Keys (7-5 in the 3rd, after losing the 1st, dropping the Bannerette to 3-5 on the season), Caroline Garcia and Kuznetsova (again after losing the 1st) in a rematch of last year's tussle, putting an end to her winless head-to-head (0-4) vs. the Russian. She finally fell to Bertens in straights in the final eight, but she's now 13-3 in her Rome career and will move up to #25 this week, one off her career-best ranking.


===============================================
SURPRISES: Karolina Pliskova/CZE and Gao Xinyu/CHN
...CoCo Vandeweghe hasn't been the only big-hitting hard/grass court maven who has been surprisingly effective on the clay this spring. While Pliskova expressed little expectation of clay results for what remains of May after her 2nd Round loss a week ago in Madrid, she nevertheless went to Rome and had a nice tournament. Coming in with zero wins in two appearances in the Italian Open MD, the Czech knocked off Lauren Davis and Timea Bacsinszky before losing 6-2/7-6(9) to eventual champion Elina Svitolina in the QF, giving her a decent (for her) 4-4 mark on dirt this season heading into Paris. Pliskova's not going to win Roland Garros (she's 2-5 there in her career) but, if nothing else, her eight matches on clay this spring might provide some fitness and confidence dividends on her better surfaces through the summer schedule. Positioned quite nicely at #3 in the rankings, with #1 Kerber's results sagging badly and #2 Serena (just 10 points ahead of Pliskova) out until 2018, the Czech might get "first dibs" at a chance to challenge for the #1 ranking later this season. If she got to high ground, Pliskova would become the first Czech woman since Martina Navratilova to hold the top spot.



On the ITF circuit, 19-year old Gao picked up her second consecutive title, and third this season, with a championship run at the $25K challenger in Qujing. Her 6-1/3-6/6-3 win in the final over Italy's Giulia Gatto-Monticone gives the Chinese teen a 6-0 mark in ITF singles finals for her career. She'll jump up to a career-best #224 in the new rankings.

===============================================
VETERAN: Venus Williams, USA
...though last year she did put up her best result (4th Rd.) in Paris in six years, Williams isn't a good bet to follow up her '17 Australian Open final with another at Roland Garros. But she's at least in good spring form at the moment, which would seem to only be a good sign for the soon-to-be 37-year old's summer schedule on grass and hard courts. In Rome, she posted wins over Yaroslava Shvedova, Lesia Tsurenko and Johanna Konta (ending her three match losing streak vs. the Brit) before falling in three sets in the QF against Garbine Muguruza. Venus first reached the final at the tournament nineteen years ago in 1998, and won her only Rome title a year later. This QF run was her best since reaching the same stage in 2012.


===============================================
COMEBACKS: Garbine Muguruza/ESP and Laura Robson/GBR
...finally, after a 0-2 start to her clay campaign, the soon-to-be-defending '16 Roland Garros champion began to look the part in Rome. After outlasting Jelena Ostapenko in three sets in her opener for her first win since Miami, Muguruza's sudden Mucho Mugu Mojo carried her to victories over Julia Goerges and her first win in four meetings with Venus Williams. Against Elena Svitolina in the SF, though, a pre-match neck injury (the Spaniard said she hurt it with a sudden movement when returning serves) led to a retirement after just five games. The third of the three Rome semifinalists who leave Italy with both good memories and possible lingering injuries heading into RG, Muguruza is the one with the pressure to back up a superior result in Paris, where her experience and previous success (QF-QF-W the last three years) will be called upon to get her through.

Hmmm, is it a "clear skies" moment for Mugururza, or are the clouds lurking? Or possibly both? Even her posted Twitter photo isn't certain.



In Japan, Robson took home the title at the $60K Kurume challenger. The 23-year old Brit was part of some odd headlines early in the week after opponent Rika Fujiwara took to doing push-ups between points during their 2nd Round match.



But it was Robson who became the focus as the week went on, with her ultimately winning a 6-3/6-4 final against 20-year old countrywoman Katie Boulter, who'd upset the top seed (Ksenia Lykina) and was seeking her biggest career title. Robson, who'll jump forty-nine spots to #169 on Monday, will next appear on the grass court circuit, where she'll try to pick up enough forward motion to get a MD win at Wimbledon, where she's likely now assured of getting a wild card after this encouraging result (she was awarded berths the last two years during her prolonged comeback from wrist surgery). Robson's last slam MD win came at the U.S. Open in 2013, about two months after she'd posted her best career slam result (4th Round at SW19). She reached #27 in the rankings that July, then injured her wrist the following January.


===============================================
FRESH FACES: Anett Kontaveit/EST and Sofya Zhuk/RUS
...quietly, Kontaveit is having quite a breakout season. Last week, she made her way through Rome qualifying, getting wins over Jana Cepelova and Mariana Duque. With her head of steam appropriately fueled, the 21-year Estonian went veteran headhunting. First, it was the noggin of Andrea Petkovic, then Angelique Kerber in a 4 & love win for her first career victory over a world #1. The wins over the Germans was followed up by a 1 & 1 destruction of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. She lost in the QF to Simona Halep, but her 22-7 run in her last twenty-nine matches (which included the Biel final) has her on the cusp of the Top 50. She'll jump sixteen spots on Monday and land at #52 on the WTA computer.



In Naples, Florida, 17-year old Hordette Zhuk claimed career ITF title #5. The '15 Wimbledon girls champ's weekend included wins over #3-seed Michelle Larcher de Brito in the semis and #1 Taylor Townsend in a 6-4/7-6(5) final. This is the Justine Henin Academy-trained teen's first title this year, but she's currently on a 12-1 run, with two finals (one a walkover loss) and a semi in her last three events. She'll climb to a new ranking high inside the Top 230 this week.

25k champion?? P.S had to jump in the pool with ball kids after lol?????

A post shared by Sofya Zhuk (@sofya_zhuk) on



===============================================
DOWN: Angelique Kerber/GER
...after being injured in Madrid, holding onto her spot in the Rome main draw seemed either a risk too great to take so close to Roland Garros, or an exercise in futility for Kerber. It turned out to be the latter. The German lost her opening match to Anett Kontaveit, getting just four games off the Estonian, and being bageled in the 2nd set. She's already lost twelve times this season (she was 63-18 in all of '16), including seven defeats as the world #1.

The "good" news: Angie doesn't have anything to defend in Paris, as she was upset in the 1st Round a year ago by Kiki Bertens. The bad news: she *does* have a whole lot of points to back up this summer. The good news (for the rest of the tour): unless Kerber gets it together, we could see a wild scramble by quite a few players for the #1 ranking come September.
===============================================
ITF PLAYER: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
...the 17-year old Czech's star continues to rise. Already a winner of a WTA title (Biel) this season, as well as $15K and $25K crowns, Vondrousova stormed to a win at the $100K challenger in Trnava, SVK this week. The world #109 knocked off Alison Van Uytvanck, top-seeded Yanina Wickmayer, Ekaterina Alexandrova (ret.) and Veronica Cepede Royg in a 7-5/7-6(3) final to earn the right to hold the trophy. Vondrousova gave up just thirteen total games through her first four matches before losing eleven against Cepede Royg. VCR, 25, was looking to become the second straight South American to pick up a $100K title this spring, on the heels of Beatriz Haddad Maia's win in Cagnes-sur-Mer (of note, the Brazilian defeated Vondrousova in a $25K final in March). She'll have to settle for not only reaching her biggest final, but also her very first in Europe. The Paraguayan's previous twenty-three ITF final results were achieved in events in either South (22) or North (1) America. Both players will climb into the Top 100 for the first time on Monday.
===============================================
JUNIOR STAR: Ylena In-Albon/SUI
...it was an all-Swiss match-up for the Grade 1 Santa Croce title in Italy, as unseeded In-Albon defeated #7-seeded Simona Waltert 6-4/6-4 to win her first career G1 crown.



The 18-year old, the #108-ranked girl, was playing in her first career G1 final, and didn't drop a set all week. 16-year old Waltert (jr. #33) lost for just the fourth time in twenty-six '17 matches. She lost another G1 final in Nonthaburi in March, and was also looking for her own maiden Grade 1 title. Doubles partners for the week, as well, In-Albon & Waltert advanced to the semifinals.
===============================================
DOUBLES: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI)
...the Chan/Hingis mojo continued in Rome, as the pair combined to win their third title together, all of them high-level Premier events this spring.



After coming together to win Indian Wells in March, the duo have raised their game even higher on the clay. A week after winning in Madrid, they escaped early-round trouble in Rome -- dropping the 1st set, then saving MP vs. Hibino/Rosolska in the 2nd Round, winning an 11-9 3rd set TB -- and then proceeded to close out the event by winning eight straight sets over their four matches vs. the likes of Spears/Srebotnik, Mirza/Shvedova (Hingis won Rome in '16 Mirza, their only red clay title together) and Makarova/Vesnina (last year's finalists) in the championship match. Hingis now has 58 career tour WD titles, while Chan comes in with 21. 19-3 together thus far in '17, they'll now head for Paris, where Chan will be looking for her first slam win, while Hingis seeks #23 (13th in WD).
===============================================



On FFT President Bernard Giudicelli, it should be noted that he took to the spotlight this week like a bird to flight. Or like a pig to slop, I guess, if pigs felt it was their role to inform that world that only *they* know the way things should be... and certain portions of the bleating sheep on the other side of the barnyard decided to chime in afterward about how right the oinkers are in their thinking.

Of course, Giudicelli was last seen before this week threatening to suspend French Davis and Fed Cup players for having the temerity to think they can decide for themselves whether or not they wish to sacrifice parts of their season to play for their nation in a team event while points and prize money-gathering events are taking place elsewhere around the world in what is an individual sport, and then forcing those players who declare injury as the reason for their absence to "prove it" to federation doctors or face the consequences.

Yeah, him.

Anyway, he was at it again this week when, rather than announcing or informing those involved well in advance (but, you know, he called *three* times before she was set to head out for a 2nd Round match in Rome), chose to make a show of it on Facebook Live when declaring it was his and the FFT's "moral obligation" to deny Maria Sharapova not only a wild card into the main draw of the event that she's won twice, but to also shut her out of the qualifying tournament.



Climbing upon the soapbox of good intentions (he said so, so it must be true) and future headlines sure to include his own name, Giudicelli stood up against the notion that the FFT would essentially not stoop to do what so many figured it would -- make its WC decision based on any money that Sharapova might help bring to the event (though, really, one player won't make any difference as far as the revenue generated) that will already be missing the likes of Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Vika Azarenka and Petra Kvitova, just to name a few. Of course, the tournament is *still* scheduled to start next Sunday, a day earlier than any of the other three majors in an attempt to squeeze out as much revenue as possible. So, yeah... there's still that. And that the FFT had previously offered the Russian a WC into another of its events, as well. So, there's that, too. Apparently, the moral high ground ends at the Strasbourg city limits.

Organizational -- and presidential -- hypocrisy and showboating crosses all language barriers.

Of course, it's been said in many corners that the FFT didn't owe Sharapova anything, and that is indeed true. It's the right of the powers that be to award or deny a WC berth to any player, especially to a player outside of the four slam-hosting natures (I mean, what's in it for the FFT, right?), let alone one coming off a fifteen-month suspension.



While WTA head Steve Simon stated that it was a case of the FFT leveling an additional penalty on a player who has already served an assigned punishment, others (including generally on-target voices, like Nicole Gibbs) didn't agree that denying a WC met the conditions of an "additional penalty." And, on it's face, it's hard to argue with the latter reasoning, except for the fact that the FFT and Giudicelli used the phrase "moral responsibility" when announcing the decision, which takes it from being a by-the-book decision based on rankings and points to one of an organization deciding that the assigned suspension wasn't enough for Sharapova, and that further punishment was necessary.

So, then, it *was* further "penalization."




But, so be it. Thank the Tennis Gods this whole thing is over, at least as far as this portion of the story in concerned. The event will go on, and so will Sharapova and her (so-called, as a certain insufferable Canadian called it) comeback. Later in the week, she announced that she won't even request a WC for Wimbledon, and will instead play the qualifying tournament.

So maybe (the all knowing and powerful, apparently) Pam Shriver, who took advantage of her so-called (by no one) brilliant take on the game to declare this rather exciting '17 season to be an example of the WTA being "in a rut" this week, can now be satisfied that Sharapova is being "grateful" and showing enough "humility" in a case that so many with such strong opinions really seem to know very little about when it comes to scientific evidence and official rulings.

Of course, facts, knowledge and context don't mean much when snide comments and loud voices are consistently given precedence over anything that doesn't highlight conflict and judgmental opinions.

But, hey, at least we know the FFT isn't in position to be blackmailed by the Russians, right? That's a start. I guess.




1. Rome Final - Elina Svitolina def. Simona Halep
...4-6/7-5/6-1.
The first meeting between these two since 2013...



surely won't be their last. Maybe not even this spring.



Hopefully, the next one will have an actual finish, rather than just an ending.
===============================================
2. Rome 2nd Rd. - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni def. Maria Sharapova
...6-4/3-6/1-2 ret.
It wasn't a day to remember for Sharapova. On the same afternoon -- within the same hour, actually -- that it was announced in look-at-me-because-you-should-know-my-name fashion by the FFT Prez that she wouldn't be playing Roland Garros *at all*, Sharapova seemed on her way to taking out Lucic for the second straight event. But a thigh injury slowed her roll, and eventually sent her home (and to the grass courts, including Roehampton) three games into the 3rd.


===============================================
3. Rome 1st Rd. - Barbora Strycova def. Daria Kasatkina
...6-4/4-3 ret.
Speaking of an injury changing the storyline. Kasatina was rockin' and rollin' against Strycova, but then rolled her ankle when her sliding foot seemed to catch the back line of the AD service box at 6-4/3-3.



It wasn't pretty...



The good news? While The Kasatkina can be hurt, she isn't down for long. She was back out on the practice by the weekend.

Back on the court???? #tennis

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina (@kasatkina) on


===============================================
4. Rome 2nd Rd. - Anett Kontaveit def. Angelique Kerber
...6-4/6-0.
Kerber has suffered seven losses as #1 through the first four and a half months of 2017, falling to players with an average ranking of #26. Kontaveit was #68 going into Rome.
===============================================
5. Rome 1st Rd. - Julia Goerges def. Kristina Mladenovic
...7-6(7)/7-5.
You want the French definition of "drinking the Kool-aid" (or maybe "Stockholm Syndrome," take your pick)? Well...



And, remember, this is coming from a player who had a royal, open air (and Twitter) conniption fit of Trumpian proportions last summer when the FFT didn't inform her and Caroline Garcia (also now on her s*** list) about matching uniform rules, and then fully blamed the federation for the loss (in a match in which the Pastry pair won the 2nd set at love to force a 3rd, it should be noted) because of the pre-match distraction.

Obviously, she's learned little by osmosis by teaming up in doubles with cool-as-an-autumn-breeze Svetlana Kuznetsova in recent weeks.


It's a good thing Kiki's tennis is so fulfilling to watch, because much of the rest of the mix leaves a great deal to be desired.
===============================================
6. Rome 1st Rd. - Wang Qiang def. Elena Vesnina
...6-2/6-4.
Since winning Indian Wells, Vesnina has gone 2-6 and failed to get past the 2nd Round at five straight events.
===============================================
7. The Rome Semifinals Serena's-Not-Playing-So-It-Doesn't-Count Final Four

...
hmmm, let's see. A semifinals consisting of the tour's hottest clay courter, Madrid champ and '14 RG finalist... and the tour's most consistent winner in '17... and a 2016 Roland Garros semifinalist... *and* the 2016 RG champ.

Or, as Pam Shriver would describe it, further evidence of the "rut" that the WTA now finds itself in the too-many-good-stories-to-keep-track-of 2017 season.

Said Shriver of this awful season: ""This is a rough time. I thought a year, year-and-a-half ago that the recession was over. Serena was winning, and the up-and-comers looked like they were going to be here for quite some time. Throw in Maria, and there was a lot of depth. But between injury, struggles and now Sharapova, the WTA finds itself in a bit of a rut again."

That the dumbassery of the likes of Shriver counts as an opinion of record in the U.S. when it comes to the goings-on in this sport says a great deal about the impossible corner that (especially women's) tennis will find itself in here (and elsewhere) once Serena and Venus are gone. If anything that happens on the court doesn't involve a Williams, it's been decided by many who don't play attention otherwise that it doesn't count, and when the Sisters *do* rise above the fray it's said by the same group to prove the lack of talent on the tour. On many levels, it's the same with Federer and Nadal on the men's tour, except for their '17 resurgence being judged as a continuation of a "golden era" rather than raising questions about the next generation. With the likes of Shriver, and those who believe anything she says should mean anything (since she really knows very little about what goes on in the sport -- just listen to her commentary, and that'll become clear fairly quickly) leading the way, it's looking to be a self-fulfilling prophecy that the sport will be dead in the States as far as big media coverage once the Roger/Rafa/Serena/Venus era officially ends, no matter how great the events that happen on the court from that point forward.
===============================================
8. Strasbourg Q1 - Camila Giorgi def. Dayana Yastremska
...6-7(1)/6-2/7-5.
Giorgi saved a MP en route to victory over the Ukrainian in a match where the two combined for 28 double-faults (20 from Yastremska, who celebrated her 17th birthday last week).


===============================================
9. $15K Oeiras Final - Panna Udvardy def. Gaia Sanesi
...6-7(5)/7-5/6-4.
The 18-year old Hungarian picks up her third career ITF title.


===============================================
10. $15K Antalya Final - Varvara Flink def. Maria Lourdes Carle
...6-4/7-6(5).
Hordette Flink, 20, went 0-4 in ITF singles finals in 2016, but finally picked her first career crown here with a win over 17-year old Argentine Carle, the reigning Eddie Herr 18s girls champ from last season.
===============================================
HM- Nurnberg Q2 - Barbora Krejcikova def. Petra Krejsova
...6-4/6-4.
Two Czechs. A Barbora, but not that Barbora. A Petra, but not that Petra. A Krejcikova defeating a Krejsova. The Maidens have mad depth... in all *sorts* of areas.
===============================================


Baby-swingin'...



And... baby!





1. Rome Final - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis def. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina
...7-5/7-6(4).
The Russians have a varied history with Hingis in big event finals. They 1-1 vs. the Original (and still standing) Swiss Miss, with Flavia Pennetta & Sania Mirza by her side, in slam finals, and defeated Hingis & Timea Bacsinszky for the Olympic Gold in Rio last summer. But they're now 0-5 against her in Premier finals since 2014, whether she's teamed with Sabine Lisicki, Mirza or Chan. Last year in Rome, Hingis/Mirza defeated Makarova/Vesnina in a three-set final.
===============================================
2. Rome SF - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis def. Sania Mirza/Yaroslava Shvedova
...6-3/7-6(7).
The post-"Santina" head-to-head between Hingis and Mirza is now 2-2. Hingis is 2-1 in 2017. Meanwhile, Mirza/Shvedova are just 2-2 this clay season. So Slava would be wise to line up a different partner for the summer.
===============================================


3. Rome QF - Garbine Muguruza def. VENUS WILLIAMS
...6-2/3-6/6-2.
Muguruza is now 1-3 in her career head-to-head vs. Venus. The other three match-ups were on hard courts. She's 2-3 vs. Serena.
===============================================
HM- Rome QF - Elina Svitolina def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
...6-2/7-6(9).
It was a week for getting maiden wins vs. WTA sisters. Svitolina is now 1-5 vs. Pliskova.
===============================================


Coming soon... Auntie V


















Though she falls out of the Top 10 again this week.



????

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on







Step one, heading off any potential B.S. next month...






**2017 WTA SINGLES TITLES**
4 - ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR [Taipei,Dubai,Istanbul,Rome]
2 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE [Brisbane,Doha]
2 - Johanna Konta, GBR [Sydney,Miami]
2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova , RUS [Monterrey,Rabat]

**2017 PREMIER MANDATORY/PREMIER 5 CHAMPIONS**
DUBIA: Elina Svitolina, UKR
INDIAN WELLS: Elena Vesnina, RUS
MIAMI: Johanna Konta, GBR
MADRID: Simona Halep, ROU
ROME: ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR
[doubles]
DUBAI: Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
INDIAN WELLS: Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
MIAMI: Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
MADRID: Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
ROME: Y.CHAN/HINGIS, TPE/SUI

**2017 WTA REPEAT CHAMPIONS**
Brisbane 2016-17 - Sania Mirza, IND (d)
Taipei City 2016-17 - H.Chan/Y.Chan, TPE/TPE (d)
Madrid 2016-17 - Simona Halep, ROU
ROME 2016-17 - MARTINA HINGIS, SUI (d)

**2017 LONG WTA WINNING STREAKS**
13...Elina Svitolina, UKR [ended by walkover]#
11...Elise Mertens, BEL [ended by Mladenovic]
10...SIMONA HALEP, ROU [ENDED BY SVITOLINA]
--
#-2 additional wins after walkover, then lost to Muguruza

**2017 WTA FINALS**
4...ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (4-0)
4...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-3)
3...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (0-3)
2...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (2-0)
2...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-0)
2...Johanna Konta, GBR (2-0)
2...SIMONA HALEP, ROU (1-1)
2...Elise Mertens, BEL (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone, ITA (1-1)
[clay finals]
2...ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (2-0)
2...SIMONA HALEP, ROU (1-1)
2...Francesca Schiavone, ITA (1-1)
2...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (0-2)

**2017 BACK-TO-BACK WTA TITLES**
2 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands (d) (Brisbane=>AO)
2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Monterrey=>Rabat)
2 - CHAN YUNG-JAN/MARTINA HINGIS (d) (MADRID=>ROME)

**2017 CONSECUTIVE SINGLES FINALS**
2 - Caroline Wozniacki (Doha-L,Dubai-L)
2 - Francesca Schiavone (Bogota-W,Rabat-L)
2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Mont.-W,Rabat-W)
2 - Kristina Mladenovic (Stuttgart-L,Madrid-L)
2 - SIMONA HALEP (Madrid-W,ROME-L)

**MOST 2015-17 WTA...**
[singles titles]
8 - Serena Williams, USA (5/2/1)
7 - Simona Halep, ROU (3/3/1)
7 - Angelique Kerber, GER (4/3/0)
6 - ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (1/1/4)
6 - Aga Radwanska, POL (3/3/0)
5 - Karolikna Pliskova, CZE (1/2/2)
5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (3/2/0)
[singles finals]
14 - Angelique Kerber, GER (7-7)
12 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (5-7)
11 - Serena Williams, USA (8-3)
10 - SIMONA HALEP, ROU (7-3)
8 - ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (6-2)
8 - Aga Radwanska, POL (6-2)
8 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (3-5)
[singles semifinals]
21 - Angelique Kerber, GER (14-7)
18 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (12-6)
18 - SIMONA HALEP, ROU (10-8)
18 - Aga Radwanska, POL (8-10)
18 - ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (8-10)
16 - Serena Williams, USA (11-5)

**#50+ def. #1 - since 2005**
2009 Beijing 2r - #226 Zhang Shuai d. Safina
2008 U.S. Open 2r - #188 Julie Coin d. Ivanovic
2005 I.W. Final - #133 Kim Clijsters d. Davenport
2008 Wimbledon 3r - #133 Zheng Jie d. Ivanovic
2009 Tokyo 2r - #132 Chang Kai-Chen d. Safina
2009 Marbella 1r - #95 Klara Zakopalova d. S.Williams
2008 Montreal 3r - #94 Tamira Paszek d. Ivanovic
2014 Charleston 2r - #78 Jana Cepelova d. S.Williams
2011 Cincinnati 2r - #76 Christina McHale d. Wozniacki
2011 Bastad 2r - #73 Sofia Arvidsson d. Wozniacki
2017 ROME 2r - #68 ANETT KONTAVEIT d. KERBER
2009 U.S. Open 3r - #52 Petra Kvitova d. Safina

**2017 DOUBLES TITLES - TEAMS**
3...Y.CHAN/HINGIS (IW/Madrid/ROME) - 1 HC/2 RC
2...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (AO/Chas.) - 1 HC/1 GC

**2017 WTA DOUBLES FINALS - TEAMS**
4...Hradecka/Siniakova (0-4)
3...Y.CHAN/HINGIS (3-0)
3...MAKAROVA/VESNINA (1-2)
3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)

**2017 ITF $100K FINALS**
MIDLAND, USA: Tatjana Maria/GER d. Naomi Broady/GBR
ANNING, CHN: Zheng Saisai/CHN d. Zarina Diyas/KAZ
CAGNES-SUR-MER, FRA: Beatriz Haddad/BRA d. Jil Teichmann/SUI
TRNAVA, SVK: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE d. Veronica Cepede Royg/PAR

**2017 ITF TITLES**
4 - Polina Monova, RUS
4 - Dejana Radanovic, SRB
3 - GAO XINYU, CHN
3 - GEORGINA GARCIA PEREZ, ESP
3 - Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic, GER
3 - Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
3 - MARKETA VONDROUSOVA, CZE



Italian made easy, by Roberta Vinci (w/ an assist from Sania Mirza)



Gelato & Laura Siegemund



And... holy selfie!







If only a good hair game was a sure-fire prelude to a great Roland Garros...








STRASBOURG, FRANCE [Int'l/Red Clay]
16 Singles Final: Garcia def. Lucic-Baroni
16 Doubles Final: Medina-Garriges/Parra-Santonja d. Irigoyen/Liang
17 Top Seeds: Wozniacki/Vesnina
=============================

=SF=
#1 Wozniacki d. #4 Suarez-Navarro
#7 Gavrilova d. #5 Garcia
=FINAL=
#1 Wozniacki d. #7 Gavrilova

=DOUBLES FINAL=
#2 Dabrowski/Xu Yifan d. #3 Jurak/An.Rodionova



NURNBERG, GERMANY (Int'l/Red Clay)
16 Singles Final: Bertens def. Duque
16 Doubles Final: Bertens/Larsson d. Aoyama/Voracova
17 Top Seeds: Bertens/Putintseva
=============================

=SF=
Mertens d. (Q) Bouzkova
Cirstea d. #6 Goerges
=FINAL=
Mertens d. Cirstea

=DOUBLES FINAL=
Knoll/Schuurs d. Voracova/Voskoboeva


ALSO: ROLAND GARROS QUALIFYING



All for now.

5 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

Actually not worried about Halep's ankle. She has a habit of getting minor injuries, then bouncing back quickly.

Another interesting thing she does is simulate deep slam runs. Since 2013, instead of pulling out of the next tournament when she has won the previous one, she stays in. And initially, even if she reached the final of the second one, her level dropped. Not so anymore. She is the favorite for RG.

Re:Shriver- I had this planned because of Muguruza, not because of Shriver.
Current winners of the Big Six events in 2016-17
Olympics-Puig-Hasn't won since
YEC-Cibulkova-Hasn't won since
USO-Kerber-Hasn't won since
F-Muguruza-Hasn't won since
AO-S.Williams-Hasn't won since(Although different reason)
W-S.Williams-Won 1 title

Off the top of my head, I can't remember a year in which the big title holders haven't built off of that.

Quiz Time!
Elina Svitolina was the 2nd woman from the Ukraine to reach a slam QF. Who was the first?









A-I am assuming that everybody guessed a Bondarenko. And although Alona had the higher career ranking, #19 to #29, and more titles, 2 to 1, it was Kateryna that reached the USO QF in 2009.

Stat of the Week in next post.

Mon May 22, 12:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Week-18-The number of years out of the last 20 in which the winner has reached a SF or better on clay the same season.

This is a how to pick the winner edition, and you can mock me in two weeks when it doesn't happen. But for now, let's have some fun to see who the winner may be.

Now Steffi Graf only reached the QF in Berlin before winning the French, making her an oddity. But if is only Graf, why is the number 18?

The answer has do with the twist Myskina put on the numbers in 2004. Similar to Graf, she only reached a QF before, but did reach the SF in Sopot, a tournament played so late that it was not only after the French, but after Wimbledon. So she gets credit.......for a match she didn't even play as she lost due to walkover.

Also note that the numbers stop after Rome. Even though there is play this week, assume that the winner is too beat up to win. Bertens in 2016 and Bouchard in 2014 both won Nurnberg and used that as a springboard to a SF run, but no farther. Side note-Bertens reaching the QF and then offering a walkover wouldn't be the worst thing.

So in 2017 28 women have reached SF or better on clay-All in order from when they met the standard-Kasatkina, Ostapenko, Lucic-Baroni, Siegemund, Pavlyuchenkova, Kerber, Suarez Navarro, Garcia, Schiavone, Arruabarrena, Larsson, Sorribes Tormo, Mladenovic, Sharapova, Halep, Svitolina, Mertens, Cepelova, Begu, Barthel, Kr. Pliskova, Strycova, Errani, Lepchenko, Kuznetsova, Sevastova, Bertens, Muguruza.

Now cutting from 128 to 28 doesn't really cut it. So next comes the Serena theory. Also dating back to 1999, nobody since Serena has won a slam without previously reaching a slam QF, although Pliskova came 2 games away from breaking that streak in New York. Doing that eliminates half, leaving you with Lucic-Baroni, Pavlyuchenkova, Kerber, Suarez Navarro, Schiavone, Mladenovic, Sharapova, Halep, Svitolina, Strycova, Errani, Kuznetsova, Sevastova, Bertens and Muguruza.

The last cut comes next. Schiavone probably stands out as least likely to win(of those in the draw), and she eliminates herself. You see, Schiavone, along with Mary Pierce, are the lowest seeded players to make the final the last 20 years, both at #21. Hence, no unseeded players, so Schiavone, Sharapova and Errani drop out, leaving you with 12.

Now some of the 12 will not make it past the 3rd round, as the seeds start meeting then, so don't be surprised by them being on this list and getting knocked out early.

To close, I will use Sevastova as an example. If she wins, she is probably a one slam wonder. But with a SF this clay season, a previous title on clay, and a current USO QF, she is not only having her career year, but meets more critera than last year's winner in Muguruza. An anomaly in the fact that she not only won the French without previously reaching a clay final, she did it a year after reaching the Wimbledon final, without ever previously reaching one on grass.

Mon May 22, 01:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I fell into the bottomless Bondarenko pit and first thought of Alona rather than Kateryna. I have the moral obligation to admit as much.

I think I might include your RG pick theory on the Daily Backspin for Paris, and eliminate the choices as the tournament goes along each day, since I'd probably lose track of the count otherwise. If it works, that little trick is going to have to become the *law* when it comes to the second slam of the year. ;)

Mon May 22, 01:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Including the picks would be cool.

One thing I planned to mention but forgot-with all of the doubles teams splitting up, the last person to win the French with multiple partners was Ruano Pascal, who won with Medina Garrigues after winning with Suarez.

Mon May 22, 04:32:00 PM EDT  
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