Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wk.21- Stosur Shines in Strasbourg (& other pre-RG stories)



Hold up, Elina.

Roland Garros *is* just hours away, but there's still a week of pre-Paris tennis left to recap. So...




*WEEK 21 CHAMPIONS*
STRASBOURG, FRANCE (Int'l/RCO)
S: Samantha Stosur/AUS def. Dasha Gavrilova/AUS 5-7/6-4/6-3
D: Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) def. Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) 6-4/6-2
NURNBERG, GERMANY (Int'l/RCO)
S: Kiki Bertens/NED def. Barbora Krejcikova/CZE 6-2/6-1
D: Nicole Melichar/Anna Smith (USA/GBR) def. Kirsten Flipkens/Johanna Larsson (BEL/SWE) 3-6/6-3 [11-9]


PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Samantha Stosur/AUS
...don't look now, but here comes Sam.



With new coach Joshua Eagle in her camp, Stosur lost her first three matches of the season, then went 9-8 before beginning to stir a bit in Madrid, taking eventual champ Simona Halep to three sets in the 3rd Round. A three-set 1st Round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Rome made Strasbourg something of a litmus test when it came to whether or not the Aussie might be in good enough form to defend her '16 RG semifinal starting this week. Well, she passed with flying colors, and will now hope that she has perfectly timed her "peak spring" form. Wins over Duan Yingying (1 game lost), Madison Brengle (1 game again), Carla Suarez-Navarro and Peng Shuai without dropping a set put the 33-year old into her first final since Prague in spring '16. In the first all-Aussie WTA singles final in twelve years (Molik def. Stosur, Sydney '05), Stosur came back from dropping the 1st set to defeat Dasha Gavrilova and hold onto her top Aussie ranking. Had she lost, her streak of 450 weeks as the nation's top-ranked woman would have come to an end. It's Stosur's ninth career title, tying her with Wendy Turnbull on the all time AUS list.
===============================================
RISERS: Kiki Bertens/NED and Dasha Gavrilova/AUS
...Bertens prepared for her '16 RG semifinalist defense attempt by defending the singles title in Nurnburg that she used as her launching pad heading into Paris a season ago. Wins over the likes of Annika Beck, Alison Riske, Misaki Doi and Barbora Krejcikova paved the way for career title #3. A year ago, she also took home the doubles title. She skipped the double duty this time around (her winning partner, Johanna Larsson, returned to the final with Kirsten Flipkens), and used the extra energy to win the singles title without dropping a set. The 25-year old Dutch star will climb to a new career high ranking of #18.



Hot off her QF run as a qualifier in Rome, when she played four three-setters in six matches, Gavrilova carried over her momentum and form to Strasbourg, where she played three more three-set contests. Wins over Louisa Chirico, Elizaveta Kulichkova (3 sets), Ash Barty (3rd set TB) and defending champ Caroline Garcia put her into her second career final (Moscow '16), but after winning the 1st set over countrywoman Sam Stosur she lost the final two sets 4 & 3, failing to get her maiden title and end Stosur's eight-plus year run as the Aussie #1.


===============================================


SURPRISES: Nicole Melichar/Anna Smith (USA/GBR)
...in their first tour-level event as a duo (after two challenger pairings this spring), Melichar & Smith both picked up their maiden WTA doubles title while teaming to take the Nurnberg crown with an 11-9 3rd set TB win over Kirtsten Flipkens and Johanna Larsson in the final (after having opened with a 12-10 TB win over Lepchenko/Rodina in the 1st Rd.). For Melichar, the win comes in her third final this season, while Smith gets hers in her first tour final with a new partner after recently ending her three-year doubles partnership with fellow Brit Jocelyn Rae. The duo were 0-3 in WTA finals over those three seasons, but were just 1-7 in tour events in '17 (though they did win a pair of recent ITF events, one in November and another in February).


===============================================
VETERAN: Peng Shuai/CHN
...Peng isn't seeded at Roland Garros, but she could be for Wimbledon. In Strasbourg, she put up wins over Alize Cornet, Amandine Hesse and Shelby Rogers to record her second SF-or-better result of the season. Her loss to Sam Stosur kept her out of her second '17 final, but she'll inch up three more spots in the rankings to #36 and is less than 100 points behind top-ranked Chinese woman Zhang Shuai.
===============================================
COMEBACK: Sorana Cirstea/ROU
...in Nurnberg, two weeks after her QF run in Madrid, Cirstea improved her four-event '17 clay record to 8-4 with her first semifinal result of the season. After Monica Niculescu retired in their 1st Round match, the Romanian got additional wins over Varvara Lepchenko and Yulia Putintseva, the latter win wrapping up on Friday after play had been suspended at 4-4 in the 3rd set the previous night. Not happy with the Kazakh's usual on-court antics, Cirstea noted that her "best revenge" was to win the match. She couldn't get past Dasha Gavrilova later in the day, though.
===============================================


FRESH FACE: Barbora Krejcikova/CZE
...the former junior doubles star (she and Katerina Siniakova reached all four girls doubles slam finals in '13, winning the final three) was the revelation of the Nurnberg event, reaching her maiden tour singles final as a #254-ranked qualifier. The 21-year old was just 3-8 in career WTA MD matches coming into the week, and had never won back-to-back matches, with her last MD WTA win coming last year in Prague (the others were in Kuala Lumpur last season, and Quebec City in '14). But after Q-round wins over fellow Maidens Jesika Maleckova and Petra Krejsova, Krejcikova took out Alexandra Cadantu, benefited from Laura Siegemund's knee injury (the German was forced to retire, wheeled off on a stretcher up 6-4/5-5), saved five MP and won a 3rd set TB over Carina Witthoeft and bageled Sorana Cirstea in the 3rd to reach her first tour final. The Czech took a medical timeout during her semifinal match, then only got three games off Kiki Bertens one day later in the final. If she'd won, she'd been the fourth lowest-ranked WTA champion ever (excluding unranked title winners), even higher than recent title-winner Marketa Vondrousova (the fifth-lowest ranked winner when she won Biel at #233). Still, it was the biggest week of her career, and she'll rise to a career-best #142 this week, 112 spots higher than she was a week ago.
===============================================
DOWN: Sania Mirza/Yaroslava Shvedova (IND/KAZ)
...so many potential "honorees" here, many of them do to injury-related circumstances.

First, Caroline Wozniacki retired from her 1st Round match in Strasbourg against Shelby Rogers in a precautionary move after feeling something in her back, after just returning this week at the end of a spring clay circuit that saw her nursing an ankle injury and never advancing past the 2nd Round in any event. Meanwhile, Elena Vesnina fell in the 1st Round in that same Strasbourg draw, losing to Camila Giorgi to make it six straight tournaments in which she hasn't gotten past the 2nd Round since winning the title in Indian Wells. Meanwhile, Genie Bouchard learned that she "almost" tore an ankle ligament (karma on Line 1?) in Nurnberg, though she was practicing in Paris by week's end, as was Simona Halep, who announced that she *had* torn an ankle ligament in *her* fall in Rome and was just a "50/50" prospect to play at Roland Garros, according to her doctor. Sigh.

Then Laura Siegemund, who came into the clay season with a roar while winning Stuttgart, went out of May on a stretcher with a Strasbourg 2nd Round knee injury (when leading qualifier Barbora Krejcikova 6-4/5-5) that will put her out of Paris. Sigh.




But I'll go with Mirza/Shvedova here because, well, I don't expect there will be many more opportunities to select them. The clay season duo, the top seeds in Nurnberg, lost in the 1st Round to Chuang Chia-Jung/Misaki Doi, 7-5/6-2.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.



That sound you hear is Sania getting Medieval on... well, let's just say that it's her patience wearing then (or disintegrating altogether) with this particular experiment. While former partner Martina Hingis has struck gold with new doubles mates Chan Yung-Jan (19-3 together, with three titles) since they joined forces in March, Mirza has gone a combined 9-6 with three partners (Strycova, Hlavackova and Shvedova, with zero finals) over the same stretch. She's 2-3 with Shvedova, and you know that that will just not do. After defending her half of the WD title (won w/ Hingis last year) in Brisbane with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in Week 1, Mirza lost the #1 ranking to BMS after having barely held onto it at the end of the 2016 season. The Bannerette has been there ever since, while Mirza had fallen to #8 heading into this week.

Expect the musical chairs game that is the weekly existence of the WTA's not-quite-established doubles duos to experience yet another shift very soon when Sania rolls the dice yet again. Hmmm... you know, Chan Hao-Ching might be available on a semi-regular basis (at least). Sania and Martina may not share the court any longer, but there's nothing that says they can't share the Chan sisters.
===============================================
JUNIOR STARS: Claire Liu/USA and Elena Rybakina/RUS & Iga Swiatek/POL
...on Sunday, girls #6 (and WTA #349) Liu, 17, will seek her second of back-to-back ITF challenger titles in the $25K in Caserta, Italy, just two weeks after winning another $25K event in Naples, Florida. Already 2-0 in career ITF finals, Liu will face 19-year old Spaniard Paula Badosa for the crown. She heads into the final on a 12-match winning streak, and 15-1 in her last sixteen matches.

In the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio junior event, 17-year old Russia Elena Rybakina will face off with 15-year old Pole Iga Swiatek (she'll turn sweet 16 on Wednesday) in the final. Of note, Swiatek won the Traralgon tune-up title heading into this year's Australian Open, as well, but then was upset in the 1st Round of the junior event in Melbourne.
===============================================


DOUBLES: Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS)
...playing in their first clay court event together since 2014, the duo made it an Aussie sweep of the Strasbourg titles with wins over #2-seeded Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, #4 Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan and #1 seeded Chan Hao-Ching & Yung-Jan in the final, dropping just one total set all week. It's their fourth title as a pair, and second this season. Meanwhile, Barty's singles game was on point, as well. She qualified (def. Virginie Razzano) and posted MD wins over Cagla Buyukakcay and Camila Giorgi en route to the QF, where she lost a 3rd set TB to countrywoman Dasha Gavrilova. Oh, and Dellacqua publicly called out Aussie tennis legend Margaret Court on her increasingly ill-placed (and, in this case, personally directed at Casey) intolerance, too (and was commended for her actions from all corners of the tennis world immediately afterward).


===============================================





1. Nurnberg QF - Barbora Krejcikova def. Carina Witthoeft
...3-6/6-3/7-6(2).
In 2:28, Krejcikova saved five MP in the 3rd set, then won a deciding TB to highlight a week that included her maiden tour final.
===============================================
2. Strasbourg Final - Samantha Stosur def. Dasha Gavrilova
...5-7/6-4/6-3.
We came *so* close to a clay court spring where BOTH Dashas won singles titles. Oh, well.


===============================================
3. Nurnberg 2nd Rd. - Barbora Krejcikova def. Laura Siegemund
...4-6/5-5 ret.
Sigh. She deserved a better end to her clay season.


===============================================
4. Nurnberg Final - Kiki Bertens def. Barbora Krejcikova
...6-2/6-1.
Bertens joins Simona Halep (Madrid) as the only players to successfully defend tour-level singles titles in 2017.
===============================================
5. Strasbourg 1st Rd. - Shelby Rogers def. Caroline Wozniacki
...7-6(8)/1-0 ret.
Rogers led 4-1 and 6-5 in the 1st, but Wozniacki took things to a TB. After falling behind 5-0, Rogers won it 10-8 after saving three SP, and then saw the Dane offer a "cautionary" retirement with an ailing back.
===============================================
6. Nurnberg 1st Rd. - Yanina Wickmayer def. Amra Sadikovic
...7-6(15)/6-7(4)/6-2.
The first twenty-eight games of the match featured *zero* breaks of serve. In the 1st, the Waffle saved five SP, winning on #8 of her own when she closed out a 28-point TB.
===============================================


7. NCAA Team Final - #1 Florida Gators def. #6 Stanford Cardinal
...4-1.
Led in Athens, Georgia, by tournament Most Outstanding Player Belinda Woolcock, the Gators won their seventh NCAA women's title.



===============================================
8. Nurnberg 1st Rd. - Chuang Chia-Jung/Misaki Doi def. Sania Mirza/Yaroslava Shvedova
...7-5/6-2.
People wonder whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound when no one is around to here it. Well, we can hear the end of "Mirza/Shvedova" long before *it* comes crashing to the ground.
===============================================





1. Strasbourg Final - Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua def. CHAN HAO-CHING/CHAN YUNG-JAN
...6-4/6-2(4).
The sisters were in their second final of the year, but Yung-Jan was in *her* third straight, having won back-to-back titles with Martina Hingis in Madrid and Rome. Even with this loss, Yung-Jan still leads the tour in '17 doubles titles (4) and finals (5, tied w/ Hlavackova). While she and Martina have gone 19-3, her record with Hao-Ching this season has been hit-and-miss. They won the title in Taipei City, but had been 0-4 in their other events together before this week.
===============================================
2. Strasbourg 2nd Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Monica Puig
...6-2/6-3.
In their only previous meeting, in the AO in 2016, Pliskova set an ace record (31) but failed to convert five MP en route to dropping a 9-7 3rd set in the 2nd Round. This 2nd Rounder went a little better.
===============================================
3. $25K Goyang Final - MARI OSAKA vs. PEANGTARN PLIPUECH
...TBD.
Naomi's 21-year old big sister will play for her first career singles title. Her only previous ITF final came in 2012.
===============================================
HM- $15K Benavidez Final - CATALINA PELLA vs. Stephanie Mariel Petit
...TBD.
The 24-year old sister of ATP player Guido Pella, Catalina seeks career title #7 in an all-Argentina affair.
===============================================










The most touristic picture I could possibly take ??voila ???? #parisjetaime

A post shared by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on























*MAY PLAYERS OF THE MONTH*
1. Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis, TPE/SUI: swept Madrid and Rome, and are 19-3 on the year. #Chingis?
2. Simona Halep, ROU: the first back-to-back Madrid/Rome singles finalist in four years. But her emails ankle.
3. Elina Svitolina, UKR: it'd been nice to have seen that final vs. Halep play out with a healthy Swarmette
4. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA: the best player this spring *not* to win a clay title
5. Samantha Stosur, AUS: Aussie lurking in the clay dust?
6. Kiki Bertens, NED: can she do the Nurnberg title/RG semi combo again?
7. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS: she won in Rabat, but can she carry things over to Paris?
8. Mona Barthel, GER: the Prague champ as a qualifier, she might get an early shot at Svitolina in Paris
9. Dasha Gavrilova, AUS: hitting her stride in time for Paris, or peaking a week too soon?
10. Genie Bouchard, CAN: but karma looks to already be closing in around her. Just a bit, at least.

ALSO...
FRESH FACE: Anett Kontaveit, EST
SURPRISE: Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
VETERAN: Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
COMEBACK: Sorana Cirstea, ROU
DOUBLES: Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova, HUN/CZE
JUNIOR: Marta Kostyuk, UKR
DOWN: Angelique Kerber, GER
MOST IMPROVED: Beatriz Haddad Maia, BRA
ITF: Marketa Vondrosova, CZE


*2017 OLDEST SINGLES CHAMPIONS*
36y,9m,3w - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota)
35y,4m - Serena Williams, USA (Australian Open)
33y,2m - SAMANTHA STOSUR, AUS (STRASBOURG)
30,7m,3w - Elena Vesnina, RUS (Indian Wells)

*2017 ALL-NATION SINGLES FINALS*
JAN - Australian Open (USA): S.Williams d. V.Williams
MAR - Indian Wells (RUS): Vesnina d. Kuznetsova
MAY - STRASBOURG (AUS): STOSUR d. GAVRILOVA

*2017 TITLE RUNS WITHOUT LOSING A SET*
Sydney - Johanna Konta. GBR
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL
Australian Open - Serena Williams, USA
Bogota - Francesca Schiavone, ITA
[Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE - none MD, 2 in Q's]
NURNBERG - KIKI BERTENS, NED

*2017 WTA FIRST-TIME SINGLES FINALISTS*
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (#127/21) [W]
Saint Petersburg - Yulia Putintseva, KAZ (#34/22)
Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty, AUS (#158/20) [W]
Charleston - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (#42/19) [W]
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (#233/17) [W]
Biel - Anett Kontaveit, EST (#99/21)
NURNBERG - BARBORA KREJCIKOVA, CZE (#254/21)

*2017 WTA LOW-RANKED FINALISTS*
#254 BARBORA KREJCIKOVA/CZE - NURNBERG
#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
#100 Francesca Schiavone/ITA - Rabat
#99 Anett Kontaviet/EST - Biel

*2017 QUALIFIERS IN FINAL*
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (21, #127) [W]
Kuala Lumpur- Ash Barty, AUS (20, #158) [W]
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (17, #233) [W]
Prague - Mona Barthel, GER (25, #82) [W]
NURNBERG - BARBORA KREJCIKOVA, CZE (21, #254)

*2017 NATIONS w/ MOST DIFF. SINGLES CHAMPIONS*
3 = RUS - Kasatkina,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
3 = CZE - Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova
2 = AUS - Barty,STOSUR
2 = GER - Barthel,Siegemund
2 = UKR - Svitolina,Tsurenko
2 = USA - Davis,S.Williams

*2017 #1 SEED WON TITLE*
Taipei City - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Budapest - Timea Babos, HUN
Istanbul - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Rabat - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
NURNBERG - KIKI BERTENS, NED

**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)
NURNBERG 2016-17 - KIKI BERTENS, NED

**2017 DOUBLES TITLES - TEAMS**
3...Y.Chan/Hingis (IW/Madrid/Rome) - 1 HC/2 RC
2...BARTY/DELLACQUA (K.Lumpur/STRASBOURG) - 1 HC/1 RC
2...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (AO/Charleston) - 1 HC/1 GC

*MOST CAREER WTA TITLES - AUSTRALIA*
92 - Margaret Court, 1968-76
68 - Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, 1970-80
17 - Kerry Melville-Reid, 1968-79
15 - Dianne Fromholtz-Balestrat, 1973-79
9 - SAMANTHA STOSUR, 2009-17
9 - Wendy Turnbull, 1976-83
6 - Jelena Dokic, 2001-11
5 - Alicia Molik, 2003-05

*NCAA WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT TEAM CHAMPIONS*
[since 2010]
2010 Stanford
2011 Florida
2012 Florida
2013 Stanford
2014 UCLA
2015 Vanderbilt
2016 Stanford
2017 Florida
[most all-time team titles]
18...Stanford
7...Florida
2...Georgia
2...UCLA
2...USC
2...Texas



All for now.

3 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Week-25-Years since a lefty has won the French Open. And there is one less chance now that Kerber is already out.

Quiz time! And this is a follow up from RG-Q
Q-Samantha Stosur has lost twice to players at the French who reached the final, but did not win-Who were they?








A-Sara Errani-2012
Maria Sharapova-2015

Sun May 28, 09:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, unfortunately I don't know whether I'd have gotten the quiz answers (or, you know, 50% of them) because I accidentally saw the answers before I read the question. No, really, I *did*. :(

(I doubt I'd have gotten *both*, though.)

Sun May 28, 10:52:00 AM EDT  
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Mon Jun 05, 10:32:00 PM EDT  

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