Sunday, June 11, 2017

Clay Court Awards: As Dirty as They Wanna Be

Roland Garros is over. And the clay season is, too. So it's time for a quick review of the top performances and performers on the dirt...

1.JELENA OSTAPENKO TAKES PARIS (by the force of her own nature) = 20-year old Latvian wins maiden slam crown
2.SIEGEMUND SEIZES STUTTGART = hometown German Laura Siegemund defeats three Top 10 players en route to the title

3.THE HEIGHTS OF SIMONA = Halep kicks off her "2.0" spring by defending her Madrid crown
4.THEY JUST KEEP COMING, DON'T THEY? = 17-year old Czech Marketa Vondrousova wins Biel (on hard court, but still) in just her second tour-level event appearance
5.ROMAN/UKRAINIAN HOLIDAY = Elina Svitolina outlasts Pliskova, Muguruza & Halep en route to the biggest clay title of her career in Rome

6.FRANCESCA! = 36-year old Schiavone wins Bogota

7.THE BELARUSIAN HAMMER = Aliaksandra Sasnovich leads BLR past SUI and into its maiden Fed Cup final
8.FEAR THE KASATKINA = Daria Kasatkina outduels Ostapenko in all-teen Charleston battle to earn maiden tour title
9.A WAFFLE IN MOSCOW = Elise Mertens nearly single-handedly leads BEL past the Russians in Fed Cup play
10.COURTESY OF CoCo = Vandeweghe earns her Fed Cup "lifetime pass," leading Kathy Rinaldi's Bannerettes past the "B"-team Czechs in the FC semis...on clay


1. Simona Halep, ROU
...she didn't end on the very highest note, but was *the* form player of the clay court season, not to mention the behind-the-scenes story of the spring when it came to her "new attitude." A title winner in Madrid, and finalist in Rome and Roland Garros, Halep overcame an ankle injury but missed out on her maiden slam crown and the #1 ranking in the final set of the final tournament of the clay court campaign. She's still #2, though, and leads the WTA Race to Singapore.
2. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
...on the way to transforming from a talented teenager into a grand slam champion, the Latvian gave a small preview of what was to come with her 2Q-starting run to the Charleston final, then ended the clay season with one of the more miraculous and unexpected paths to a major title in memory. Unseeded in Paris, Ostapenko rode her big-time groundstrokes to wins over a former slam champion and a former #1, then knocked off Halep in the final as the Romanian was trying to become both.
3. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
...seemingly the soul survivors of the Doubles Team Wars of 2016-17, Team Bucie continues to skip into history with a collective smile on their faces. BMS & Safarova bookended the clay season with titles in Charleston and Roland Garros, winning their third straight slam and assurng themselves a shot at a non-single season Doubles Grand Slam with a win at the AELTC. And if they win there...
4. Elina Svitolina, UKR
...the Ukrainian continues to incrementally rise up the ranks, but she's also stopping short of pulling off the sort of bam-wow-pow sudden stardom moment that Ostapenko took to so naturally at Roland Garros. Svitolina was the only player to win multiple clay singles titles this spring, claiming a smaller event in Istanbul and then outlasting an injured Halep in Rome. She led the Romanian 6-3/5-1 and help a MP in the QF in Paris, as well, but couldn't close things out. Her love set loss in the 3rd will have to go down as a learning experience, since if it doesn't she'll experience the first "step back" of her career. Her 2017 To-Do List is an impressive set of accomplishments, but it's still missing a big check mark.
5. Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis, TPE/SUI
...while Sania Mirza is still seeking her new "right-hand woman" since the end of her amazing partnership with Hingis, the Swiss Miss seems to have found hers. After winning in Indian Wells in March, the new duo dominated the clay season, winning thirteen straight matches and sweeping the Madrid & Rome titles before finally seeing their run come to an end in the RG semis vs. Matteks-Sands/Safarova.
6. Laura Siegemund, GER
...though her clay season heartbreakingly ended early due to a knee injury, the German's clay court chops pushed her to the top of the springtime pile yet again this year. A Charleston semifinal was followed up by a title run in Stuttgart.
7. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
...while she often embarrasses herself off the court (even if she's yet to realize that fact), Mladenovic's game is sometimes peerless on it. In between bullying fellow French players and/or opponents, the Pastry reached finals in Stuttgart and Madrid, though she lost them both (and is now 1-6 in career tour singles finals), and was a true headline-grabber (sometimes for all the wrong reasons) during the first week of Roland Garros. Mladenovic isn't really the Kiki we want, or even the one we thought we had a few season ago, but she surely has a big-time presence on tour, for both good and bad.
8. Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
...the 17-year old burst onto the scene by qualifying and winning the hard court Biel title, then holding her own on clay in her Fed Cup debut. Her sometimes-dominating qualifying and early-round exploits in Paris gave rise to the notion that maybe Ostapenko won't be the last youngster to rise to stardom on a big stage over the next couple of seasons (or slams?). Certainly, so far, the Czech is *way* ahead of schedule.
9. Daria Kasatkina, RUS
...little did we know that the all-teenager battle for the Charleston final that began the clay season featured the player who'd become this year's Roland Garros champion. If we had, we'd likely have figured it was Kasatkina rather than Ostapenko who'd rise to prominence on the courts of Paris. Maybe if the Russian hadn't injured her ankle before RG, we might have even gotten *another* does of Kasatkina/Ostapenko in the most recent slam final (hey, she lost to Halep in the 3rd it was *possible*). Either way, give her time.
10. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
...could a player win two titles in a quarter more quietly than Pavlyuchenkova did this spring? A hard court title in Monterrey in April was a bit off the radar, and another lacking Fed Cup performance is best forgotten, but a clay win in Rabat at least brought the Russian marginally into the RG conversation one year after she reached the QF in Paris. But, maintaining the usual give-and-take aspect of her career, Pavlyuchenkova proceeded to lose in the 2nd Round in Roland Garros to Veronica Cepede Royg, knocking her out of contention for the semifinal berth that ultimately went to Karolina Pliskova. A real lost opportunity.

=FED CUP (April)=
1.Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR
2.CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
3.Elise Mertens, BEL
4.Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
5.Aryna Sabalenka, BLR
6.Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
7.Francoise Abanda, CAN
8.Kiki Bertens, NED
9.Julia Goerges, GER
10.Simona Halep, ROU

Kiki Bertens/NED, Mona Barthel/GER and Dasha Gavrilova/AUS
Veronica Cepede Royg/PAR, Barbora Krejcikova/CZE and Martina Trevisan/ITA
Samantha Stosur/AUS, Francesca Schiavone/ITA and Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
Petra Martic/CRO, Genie Bouchard/CAN, Maria Sharapova/RUS and Petra Kvitova/CZE
Anett Kontaveit/EST, Elise Mertens/BEL and CiCi Bellis/USA
Whitney Osuigwe/USA, Claire Liu/USA, Amanda Anisimova/USA and Bianca Andreescu/CAN
Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) and Gaby Dabrowski/CAN
Polina Monova/RUS, Beatriz Haddad Maia/BRA and Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
Angelique Kerber/GER, Mirza/Shvedova (IND/KAZ) and Russian FC Team
Brienne Minor (Michigan) and Florida Gators Women's Tennis
BLR & USA Fed Cup Teams
*WTA 125*
Wang Qiang/CHN and Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
Jelena Ostapenko/LAT, Anett Kontaveit/EST and Beatriz Haddad Maia/BRA
Yui Kamiji/JPN

All right, grass season... whattaya got?


...the final women's title at this Roland Garros was determined before Rafa Nadal chalked up his tenth men's title on Sunday, as Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova picked up their third straight slam title with a 2 & 1 victory over Ash Barty & Casey Dellacqua. The Aussies are now 0-4 in slam finals, with one appearance at all four majors.

And with that, with their third title on a third different surface this season, Team Bucie is one Wimbledon title away from completing a "Bucie Slam" in London.

Who knows, Ash & Casey might just have a say in this whole thing yet. Grass courts, here they come. Bol, the Bracelet ruled!

Aleksandra Krunic picked up the biggest title of her career on Sunday at the WTA 125 Series event in Croatia, leading in the final when Alexandra Cadantu retired with the Serb leading 6-3/3-0. It's her first singles title of any kind since 2014, and she'll jump twenty-three spots up to #101 in the new rankings. ITF action...

Yep. She did it. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, apparently now back with her old coach (hmmm), won her second straight challenger crown on Sunday in Stare Splavy, CZE to run her winning streak to ten matches. She defeated Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-4/7-5 in the final.

On the lawns, Magdalena Rybarikova's easily-forgotten grass court proficiency shined once more in Surbiton, where the Slovak (still using a protected ranking after her '16 back injury, the most recent of a slew of injuries in her career) picked up a $100K title with a 6-4/7-5 victory over Heather Watson. It's her biggest title since she defended a tour-level title in Washington in 2013, and her third ITF win in a row, with her previous two coming on hard court and carpet surfaces. 28-year old Rybarikova's first of four career WTA titles came on the grass in Birmingham in 2009.

In Marseille, Italy's Jasmine Paolini defeated German Tatjana Maria to claim the $100K red clay title there. It was a nice turn in Paolini's recent luck, as she'd lost in qualifying to Marketa Vondrousova in Biel and Mona Barthel in Prague in WTA level events, then saw them both go on to win the title.

In Brescia, Italy, Polona Hercog's comeback from a back injury continued. The Slovenian played for the first time since the U.S. Open when she took the court in RG qualifying. She lost in her second match in Paris, then again in the 1st Round of the Grado challenger last week. In this week's $60K, though, the two-time tour singles titlist (Bastad 2011-12) won her first singles title of any kind since 2013, defeating Ukrainian Ganna Poznikhirenko in the final.

Elsewhere, Russian Polina Monova moved into sole possession of the top spot on the 2017 ITF title list with her fifth win of the season. In the $25K in Namangan, Uzbekistan, she defeated Kazakh Gozal Ainitdinova to claim the championship. In Figueira da Foz, Portugal, Spain's Maria Teresa Torro-Flor won her fourth title of the season, defeating Germany's Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic (3 '17 titles) in the final.

Another Turk, 17-year old Berfu Cengiz, has made tennis news, winning her second career ITF singles crown (and sweeping both s/d titles for the first time) with a victory over Slovenia's Nina Potocnik in the $15K Baja Luka, BIH final.

Anna Karolina's sister, Kristina Schmiedlova, reached the semifinals at the tournament.

Two Aussies picked up their first pro singles titles. 18-year old Seone Mendez won the $15K Hammamet, Tunisia crown, defeating top-seeded Chilean Fernanda Brito in the final; while 27-year old Tammi Patterson defeated Thailand's Peangtarn Plipuech in the $25K Tokyo final.

And in Madrid, the all-Spanish match-up for a $15K title saw Rocio de la Torre Sanchez defeat Guiomar Maristany Zuleta de Reales by a 6-1/6-1 score. Of course, I only mention that one because it has to rank up there with the longest-named finalists *ever,* right?

...LIKE ON DAY 15: La Divine meets Latvian Thunder

...LIKE ON DAY 15: When the size of the ponytail rivals that of Serena's...

...LIKE ON DAY 15: Awwl, that's a nice thing to say...

...I GUESS... ON DAY 15: as far as visuals are concerned, I guess Witthoeft is as close as we'll get to seeing "Sharapova" playing on the grass this summer...


...LIKE ON DAY 15: Nice.

...IN CASE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW ON DAY 15: Dogs don't care about Fed Cup, or Roland Garros, or...

...LIKE ON DAY 15: Kasatkina, gettin' ready for what's next...

...and, finally...

16 Singles Final: Ka.Pliskova def. Riske
16 Doubles Final: Hlavackova/Peng d. Dabrowski/Z.Yang
17 Top Seeds: Konta/Sevastova

Barty d. #4 Riske
Pironkova d. #2 Sevastova
Barty d. Pironkova

...hey, "why not?" worked for picking Krunic in Bol, so why not Barty here? She *is* a former Wimbledon junior champ, after all. (Though the late arrival from Paris doesn't help the case.)

#1 Dabrowski/Savchuk d. #2 Jurak/An.Rodionova

16 Singles Final: Vandeweghe def. Mladenovic
16 Doubles Final: Kalashnikova/Shvedova d. Knoll/Krunic
17 Top Seeds: Cibulkova/Mladenovic

#5 Konjuh d. #6 Babos
#4 Vandeweghe d. #2 Mladenovic
#4 Vandeweghe d. #5 Konjuh

...CoCo has already won this title two of the last three years, and she's a better player now than she was then.

#3 Knoll/Vandeweghe d. #2 Bertens/Schuurs

Option 1 or option 2 @kirstenflipkens ???? #TeamYonex #TeamAsics @ricohopen

A post shared by CoCo Vandeweghe (@cocovandey) on

Jelena Ostapenko/LAT def. #3 Simona Halep/ROU 4-6/6-4/6-3

#1 Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) def. Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) 6-2/6-1

#7 Dabrowski/Bopanna (CAN/IND) def. Groenefeld/Farah (GER/COL) 2-6/6-2 [12-10]

#7 Whitney Osuigwe/USA def. #6 Claire Liu/USA 6-4/6-7(5)/6-3

#1 Andreescu/Branstine (CAN/CAN ) def. #2 Pervushina/Potapova (RUS/RUS) 6-1/6-3

#2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER 7-5/6-4

#2 Buis/Kamiji (NED/JPN) def. #1 Griffioen/van Koot (NED/NED) 6-3/7-5

Good luck to Casey and Ash for the RG final today! Bring it home #ABCD??we are all behind you!!

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Bikini weather is coming up ??????

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
2007 Alicia Molik & Mara Santangelo, AUS/ESP
2008 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP/ESP
2009 Anabel Medina-Garrigues & Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP/ESP
2010 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2011 Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka, CZE/CZE
2012 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2013 Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
2014 Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
2015 Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
2016 Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic, FRA/FRA
2017 Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE

2014 US: Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS)
2015 AO: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
2015 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
2015 WI: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
2015 US: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
2016 AO: Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (SUI/IND)
2016 RG: Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA/FRA)
2016 WI: Serena Williams/Venus Williams (USA/USA)
2016 US: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
2017 AO: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
2017 RG: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)

20 - Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver
14 - Gigi Fernandez & Natasha Zvereva
14 - Serena Williams & Venus Williams
8 - Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suarez
5 - Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
NOTE: Louise Brough & Margaret Osborne (20 wins pre-Open era)

14...Serena Williams, USA
14...Venus Williams, USA
12...Martina Hingis, SUI
5...Sara Errani, ITA
5...Liezel Huber, USA
5...Roberta Vinci, ITA

39 - Serena Williams, USA (23/14/2)
23 - Venus Williams, USA (7/14/2)
22 - Martina Hingis, SUI (5/12/5)
7 - Liezel Huber, USA (0/5/2)
6 - Sania Mirza, IND (0/3/3)
6 - Samantha Stosur, AUS (1/2/3)
6 - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (0/1/5)
5 - Roberta Vinci, ITA (0/5/0)
5 - Sara Errani, ITA (0/5/0)
5 - Maria Sharapova, RUS (5/0/0)

4 - Chan Yung-Jan, TPE
3 - Martina Hingis, SUI
2 - Timea Babos, HUN
2 - Ash Barty, AUS
2 - Casey Dellacqua, AUS
2 - Andrea Hlavackova, CZE
2 - Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE
2 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
2 - Alicja Rosolska, POL
3 - Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis - 1 HC,2 RC
2 - AsH Barty/Casey Dellacqua - 1 HC,1 RC

2015 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2016 Martina Hingis/SUI and Samantha Stosur/AUS
2017 Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE

**2017 ITF TITLES**
4 - Dejana Radanovic, SRB
3 - Gao Xinyu, CHN
3 - Georgina Garcia Perez, ESP
3 - Sarah-Rebecca Sekulic, GER
3 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE

TOP QUALIFIER: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #23 Samantha Stosur/AUS
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #3 Simona Halep/ROU
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): Jelena Ostapenko/LAT
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Quirine Lemoine/NED def. Arantxa Rus/NED 2-6/7-6(3)/6-3 (down 6-2/5-3, saved 2 MP)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - #13 Kristina Mladenovic/FRA def. Jennifer Brady/USA 3-6/6-3/9-7 (back injury; down 3-0 in 3rd; on third attempt to serve out match)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): 4th Rd. - #3 Simona Halep/ROU def. #5 Elina Svitolina/UKR 3-6/7-6(6)/6-0 (down 6-3/5-1, Svitolina served twice for match and had MP in TB)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F): Final - Jelena Ostapenko def. #3 Simona Halep/ROU 4-6/6-4/6-3 (down 6-4/3-0, 3 BP for 4-0)
FIRST VICTORY: Petra Kvitova/CZE (def. Boserup/USA)
FIRST SEED OUT: #31 Roberta Vinci/ITA (1st Rd.-lost to Puig/PUR)
UPSET QUEENS: South Americans (Duque Marino/COL & Cepede Royg/PAR)
REVELATION LADIES: Muslim woman (LL Jabeur/TUN first Arab in 3rd Rd.; Buyukakcay/TUR 1st Rd. win for second straight year)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (2-5 in 1st Round; Kerber first #1 out so early)
LAST PASTRY STANDING: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA and Caroline Garcia/FRA (both QF)
MADEMOISELLE OPPORTUNITY: Simona Halep/ROU and Karolina Pliskova/CZE
IT "Teen": Jelena Ostapenko/LAT
CRASH & BURN: #1 Angelique Kerber/GER (first #1-ranked woman to lost RG 1st Rd.; first at any slam since '01)
ZOMBIE QUEEN OF PARIS: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA (1st Rd.- down 3-0 in 3rd to Brady, wins 9-7; 3rd Rd. - down 5-2 in 3rd, wins 8-6 vs. Rogers)
DOUBLES STAR: Gaby Dabrowski/CAN
VETERAN PLAYERS (KIMIKO CUP): Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
JUNIOR BREAKOUTS: Whitney Osuigwe/USA and Claire Liu/USA (first all-U.S. RG final since 1980)
L├ęgion de Lenglen HONOREE: Caroline Garcia/FRA

Artist: Paul Thurlby

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Week-2-The amount of women the last 15 years that have won back to back slams.

Obviously, this topic is because of talk about Ostapenko winning the Channel Slam. That is fun to think about, but rather preposterous. The only women to win back to back slams in that period were Serena and Kim Clijsters, although if you go back two more years, Venus, then Capriati, then Venus did it again.

Now it has happened 8 times the last 35 years that someone has won the French and Wimbledon back to back. But at this moment, would you predict Ostapenko to win double digit slams? The three? Serena, Steffi and Martina.

So no real expectation of that happening. But it is worth taking a look at 10 players-5 first time slam winners at the French, and 5 young slam winners to see what they did in their next 4 slams.

French Winners


As you can see. There is a huge disparity between the young ones and the average French winners. This bodes well for Ostapenko, because unlike Radwanska, Wozniacki or Halep, she already has the monkey off her back. Statistically, she should at the least, be a 4 time slam winner.

Mon Jun 12, 10:26:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Extra Stat of the Week-4-The amount of women in the Top 100 with a grass title.

Unlike hard or clay, this list is extremely short. And most of them shouldn't be on this list next year.

#14 Keys
#25 Vandeweghe
#33 Konjuh
#99 Bondarenko

Quiz time!
Samantha Stosur has been the highest ranking Aussie at year end for the last 9 years. But Daria Gavrilova may end that streak. If she does, it would only be the 4th time, and 3rd person not born in Australia to top the list. Who were the other two?

While you ponder that, just a thought. When I do the hardcourt list, there are a bunch of people who only have titles at Tashkent, Quebec City and Kuala Lumpur. A good reason to keep them around.

Jelena Dokic was the highest ranking Aussie in 1999 & 2000, after the dark year of 1998, the only year since the ranking system began that they did not have a player in the Top 100 at year's end. The other? Hana Mandlikova in 1989.

One not so odd fact, because of timing, was that perennial #1 Margaret Court was never the year end #1 for them under the ranking system. Mainly because she only played 75-77 under it, and Cawley got her in 75 & 76. In 77, Fromholtz, Turnbull and Melville all finished top 10.

Mon Jun 12, 12:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Awwl, thanks for taking it easy on me. I got BOTH of them this time, as I should have, since I'm so linked in with Dokic and Mandlikova. I *knew* JD was one, but I had to think a second for Mandlikova. I knew she represented AUS at the very end of her career, but didn't win any titles, so I wasn't *certain* she was the highest-ranked "Aussie" in any particular season, but I couldn't think of anyone else who'd qualify (Gajdosova was too late, for example).


Hmmm, am I missing something on the grass court title list? Was there an extra part? Is it non-slam winners with 2+ titles or something like that, because I know there are quite a few other past one-time grass winners in the Top 100 (and then Serena, Venus and Kvitova w/ multiples)?

Mon Jun 12, 08:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Amazing how leaving out one word can change the context. The amount of women in the Top 100 with only grass court titles.

There are a bunch of women with grass court titles, but that is being saved for the how to pick the Wimbledon winner-which is much more twisted due to the grass "season" being almost non existent.

Tue Jun 13, 12:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Haha! I knew there had to be something missing there, because I figured your stat had to be more detailed than just that. That IS interesting! :)

Ah, a Grass Court Guidance (title attempt #1) system. (Then watch someone like a Vondrousova or someone like that come along a muck it up again.) ;)

Wed Jun 14, 08:34:00 AM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home