Monday, July 03, 2017

Wk.25/26- The Awards The Radwanska Didn't Want You to See

Oh, the many plagues of The Radwanska. Upsets, seagulls, heat, rain... and squirrels that gnaw through communication lines and knock Backspin offline for two weeks.

=2013 (inciting event)=
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
"The Radwanskian Massacre" - 7 former #1's lose, w/ 4 additional walkovers and three ret. on day filled with falls, slips and stumbles
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
First unofficial commemoration of The Radwanskian Massacre. With the Radwanskian Threat Level meter in place and all on guard and vigilent, calm prevails.
June 26 (official)
Aga Radwanska & the seagull (in Eastbourne, bird swoops at Radwanska as she serves... one day later, she loses in the singles final)
Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The hottest day ever recorded in Wimbledon history (35.7 C / 96 F), fire alarm evacuates Centre Court
June 26 (official)/Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The wet London weather rains... err, reigns. 74 singles and doubles matches are scheduled: 41 are cancelled, 15 interrupted and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident and, in a previously unscheduled C.C. match, Radwanska's '16 RG conqueror, Tsvetana Pironkova, loses.
June 26 (official)/Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
Eastbourne defending champ Dominika Cibulkova loses in opening match to WC Heather Watson; 4 LL's win MD matches (one LL vs. LL match-up); LL Tsvetana Pironkova advances to 2nd Rd. w/ 1st Rd. bye when Petra Kvitova withdraws, wins 2nd Rd. match

S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Ash Barty/AUS 4-6/6-3/6-2
D: Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) d. Chan Hao-Ching/Zhang Shuai (TPE/CHN) 6-1/2-6 [10-8]
S: Anastasija Sevastova/LAT def. Julia Goerges/GER 6-4/3-6/6-3
D: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI) walkover Jelena Jankovic/Anastasija Sevastova (SRB/LAT)
S: Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN 6-4/6-4
D: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI) def. Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) 6-3/7-5

PLAYERS OF THE WEEKS: (Week 25) Petra Kvitova/CZE; (Week 26) Karolina Pliskova/CZE
...with all the celebration of her return to the tour having taken place in Paris, Kvitova returned to her beloved English grass courts with just as much heartwarming support, but a bit less of the fascination involved with her Roland Garros return after hand surgery following a home invasion knife attack. We already know she can grip the racket just fine, so now it's about how much match play she needs to regain her old form. As it turned out, the Czech picked up right where she left off. In 2014, when she won her last grass title at Wimbledon, not 2016, when Kvitova went a combined 3-3 on the surface (and, interestingly, perhaps, lost to RG champ and former Wimbledon girls winner Jelena Ostapenko), as she dropped as many matches last summer as she did on the grass from 2013-15 combined. Her Birmingham title gives her career win #20 (tying her with the likes of Vika Azarenka and Aga Radwanska as far as active tour players), and her first singles crown on grass outside the gates of the AELTC. Wins over Tereza Smitkova, Naomi Broady, Kristina Mladenovic and Lucie Safarova (ret.) without dropping a set put the Czech into her 27th career final, where she was tested by Ash Barty, dropping the 1st set and pulling ahead in the middle of a tight early 3rd to take the title. Kvitova has now won a title in seven consecutive seasons, behind only Serena Williams' current eleven-year streak and Caroline Wozniacki's nine (though the Dane hasn't extended that run to ten years in '17), and now officially a step ahead of Radwanska's run of six years (still without a '17 win to make it seven).

The fire of the summer that changed Pliskova's career was lit during last year's grass court season, when the Czech won Nottingham and reached the Eastbourne final. A title run in Cincinnati, U.S. Open final, Roland Garros semi and Top 3 ranking would soon follow. One year later, she improved upon that '16 result at Devonshire Park by winning her second career grass title, dropping just one set all week against the likes of Alison Riske, Peng Shuai, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Woznicki in the final. The win gives Pliskova nine career titles, one behind Helena Sukova (1982-92) and Regina Mariskova (1976-81) on the all-time Czech list, as well as a 3-0 mark in finals this season alone. She's now one behind Elina Svitolina (4) for the tour lead in 2017.
RISERS: (Week 25) Caroline Garcia/FRA, Garbine Muguruza/ESP and Camila Giorgi/ITA; (Week 26) Caroline Wozniacki/DEN and Johanna Konta/GBR
...a year ago, Garcia picked up her third career title and first on grass at the inaugural tour-level event in Mallorca, defeating Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets in the final. Back for a second year, the Pastry had another good week, knocking off Jelena Jankovic, Jana Cepelova and Roberta Vinci to reach the semifinals where, wouldn't you know it, Sevastova was waiting to get her revenge. This time, the Latvian was the one who won in straight sets. Despite nursing a back injury and having to deal with a good deal of nonsense from the French tennis federation and her former doubles partner, Garcia has now reached three '17 semifinals on three different surfaces (hard in Monterrey, clay in Strasbourg), though with this loss it's now been a full year since she reached a tour-level final (though she did end her '16 season with an appearance in a WTA 125 Series final in Lim in November).

In Birmingham, '15 Wimbledon finalist Muguruza provided some hope that a week from now she'll be ready to begin her attempt to reach at least the Round of 16 at a third straight slam (tying her career-best run from two seasons ago), and keep alive the dream of going four-for-four at a single season's majors for the first time (yes, of course, I'm rooting for my pre-season prediction to come true!). Last week, the Spaniard posted wins over Elizaveta Kulichkova, Alison Riske (a former semifinalist at the event) and CoCo Vandeweghe (who retired) before playing well, but ultimately falling, to Ash Barty in the semifinals.

In Mallorca, 2012 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Giorgi ran off five straight victories before finally retiring from her QF match against Ash Barty. The Italian posted qualifying wins over Emily Appleton, Grace Min and Jana Fett, the added main draw victories over Natalia Vikhlyantseva and Elina Svitolina, taking down the Top 10 Ukrainian in three sets.

With the clay season finally over, Konta jumped right into the fray on the grass, signing up for and playing in tournaments all three weeks of the pre-Wimbledon tune-up season. The Brit managed to get in ten matches (going 8-2), reached a final and, in Eastbourne, another semifinal. Though she almost got a little *too much* action. After wins over Sorana Cirstea, Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber (because of rain delays, she actually defeated the RG champ and world #1 in the same afternoon!), Konta ultimately pulled out of her semi match-up with Karolina Pliskova after falling late in her win over Kerber. After failing to put away two MP, one an easy forehand at the net into an open court, Konta slipped and fell flat on her back behind the baseline on MP #3. After rolling around and eventually getting over the general shock of it all, she came back and won back-to-back points to put away her first #1 win on MP #4.

Wozniacki's week, while it didn't include any wins over a slam champ or world #1, was quite nice, as well. Eight years after winning a title in Eastbourne, the Dane returned to the final after posting victories over Naomi Osaka, Elena Vesnina, Simona Halep (after being down a set and two breaks in what turned out to be the Romanian's second three-setter of the day) and Heather Watson. But after her fourth appearance in a final in 2017, Wozniacki is still seeking title #1. In fact, she lost in her second final this season to Karolina Pliskova (w/ Doha), after having previously been 4-0 in her head-to-head vs. the Czech. Still, the Dane is making good on her opportunity to make up for all the ground she lost while fighting through injury last spring/summer, as she closes in on a return to the Top 5 after having been ranked as low as #74 around ten months ago.
SURPRISES: (Week 25) Anastasija Sevastova/LAT; (Week 26) Lara Arruabarrena/ESP
...with younger countrywoman Ostapenko having assumed the leading role in Latvian women's tennis in recent weeks, in Mallorca, Sevastova went about reminding everyone that it was *she* who reached finals last season on both clay and grass courts, and then put on on a QF run on U.S. Open hard court.

A runner-up to Caroline Garcia in the inaugural grass court tournament in Spain a year ago, Sevastova returned to go one better this time around. Wins over Elise Mertens, Varvara Lepchenko and Ana Konjuh set up a rematch with Garcia in the semis. The Latvian won in straight sets to reach her fourth career final, which she won in three sets over Julia Goerges to pick up her first tour singles title since winning in Estoril in 2010. That seven years and nearly two months between titles is one of the top 10 longest spans between titles in tour history. Sevastova nearly had an even *better* week, as she also reached the doubles final with Jelena Jankovic but got her priorities in order and decided to only play for one crown, handing Chan Yung-Jan & Martina Hingis a walkover win for the WD title.

Arruabarrena lists clay as her favorite surface, but the Spaniard has posted 1st Round SW19 wins the last two years. In Eastbourne, she made her way through qualifying, getting nice wins over Richel Hogenkamp and (yes) Tsvetana Pironkova, then MD victories over Yulia Putintseva and Dasha Gavrilova (now that's quite the demonstrative opponent two-fer, wouldn't you say?) before falling to top-seeded Angelique Kerber in the 3rd Round.
VETERANS: (Week 25) Lucie Safarova/CZE; (Week 26) Barbora Strycova/CZE
...a week after a no-fuss trip to the Nottingham semifinals, Safarova became the only player to pull a grass run two-fer by producing a matching final four run in Birmingham which turned out to be quite a more "fussy." The Czech had to save MP in two of her first three matches, finding a way past adversity and Dominika Cibulkova (1st Rd.) and Dasha Gavrilova (QF), with a far less edge-of-oblivion win over Naomi Osaka in between. Her work put Safarova in her fourth SF of the season, one off the tour lead. Unfortunately, her run was then ended by the hamstring injury she'd carried with during her week. After losing the 1st set to countrywoman Petra Kvitova in the semis, then being broken to start the 2nd, Safarova called it a day. With a little over a week to get healthy for Wimbledon (in singles as well as doubles, as she and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will be going for a "Bucie Slam" with a fourth consecutive slam crown), hopefully she's given herself time to heal up.

Strycova's Wimbledon QF run in 2014 was one of the results that kicked into the gear the best stretch of the Czech's career that has since followed. In Eastbourne, wins over Genie Bouchard, Garbine Muguruza (1 & love!) and Lauren Davis advanced her to her fifth '17 tour-level QF, though she couldn't get past Heather Watson once she got there.
COMEBACKS: (Week 25) Julia Goerges/GER; (Week 26) Heather Watson/GBR, Polona Hercog/SLO and Petra Martic/CRO
...while Kvitova's title run in Birmingham proved to be *the* story of the week, and the Mallorca returns of Vika Azarenka (a 1st Round win after saving three MP) and Sabine Lisicki (QF) provided some mid-to-early-week refreshment, I'm going with Goerges' run to the final as the comeback result of the week in Spain. The German came into the week having played in just one tour-level singles final since 2012, in Auckland nearly a year and a half ago. Last week, Goerges handled the likes of Lara Arruabarrena, top-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1 & 1), Lisicki and CiCi Bellis (1 & 1) to reach her seventh career WTA singles final, and her first on grass. With a three-set loss to Anastasija Sevastova, she failed to win her first title since 2011 (Stuttgart), but the result will lift her back into the Top 50 (a standing, for all her periodic success, that Goerges has only managed to hold at the close of three seasons, all back-to-back from 2010-12). She also reached the doubles semifinals while parnter Xenia Knoll.

Watson's comeback was already in full swing before she hit the courts at Devonshire Park. Having reached the $100K grass court challenger final in Surbiton and then given a wild card into the Wimbledn MD, she was simply carrying over her good vibes when she reached her first '17 WTA semifinal in Eastbourne. Wins over Lesia Tsurenko, defending champ Dominika Cibulkova, Anastasia Palvyuchenkova and Barbora Strycova allowed the wild card entrant to make it *two* Brits in the final four. A three-set loss to Caroline Wozniacki didn't allow Watson to crack open some of those "first British woman" to play for on win on grass, on British soil, yadda-yadda-yadda factoids, but it *was* enough to nearly lift her back into the Top 100 (#102, up from #126) as she heads to Wimbledon, where she already has two (2012 and '15) 3rd Round results and a Mixed Doubles crown (2016). Watson has finished in the season-ending Top 100 five times in the last six years.

In Wimbledon qualifying, #263 Hercog's spring return (after injuries and health kept her own since the U.S. Open) reached new summertime heights. The Slovenian fell in the second round of RG qualifying in her initial return, but has since claimed an ITF title and, in Roehampton, won three matches -- def. Taylor Townsend, Barbara Haas and Antonia Lottner -- to reach the women's main draw at SW19.

Doing even better in the pre-Wimbledon qualifying event was #134 Martic, Backspin's SW19 "Q-Player of the Week." The Croat, who returned in April after recuperating from a summer '16 back injury, immediately found ITF success. She soon qualified in Paris, then posted her first slam MD wins in four years with victories over the likes of Madison Keys and Anastasija Sevastova, and led Elina Svitolina in the RG Round of 16 by a 5-2 score in the 3rd set before crumbling down the stretch. She was at it again in Roehampton, qualifying for a second straight slam with wins over Basak Eraydin, Mihaela Buzarnescu and #1-seeded Aleksandra Krunic in a 7-5 3rd set in the final Q-round.
FRESH FACES: (Week 25) Ash Barty/AUS and CiCi Bellis/USA; (Week 26) Jelena Ostapenko/LAT and Anna Blinkova/RUS
...Australia (Sam aside, of course) has a long history of grass court success, and 21-year old Barty is surely hoping to write another chapter. The former Wimbledon girls champ didn't ultimately take the singles title, but she rose to the occasion on nearly front in Birmingham. She took out Marketa Vondrousova in a match-up of potentially major NextGen proportions, notched the biggest win of her career over #22 Barbora Strycova a round later, saw Camila Giorgi retire in the QF, then topped her previous win with her first Top 20 victory over #14 Garbine Muguruza in the semis to reach her second 2017 singles final. It didn't end with that, either. Barty claimed the 1st set from Petra Kvitova in the championship match, and threatened to take the lead mid-way through the 3rd before the Czech finally wrestled control of the match and carried the momentum through the final stages to the title. As with her previous singles final earlier this season in Kuala Lumpur, when the Aussie swept the titles, Barty doubled up by also reaching the Birmingham WD final with Casey Dellacqua. They won it to pick up their third win of the season.

In Mallorca, 18-year old Bellis continued her impressive climb up the tour ladder, reaching her first tour-level semifinal (she won a WTA 125 Series title last November) after posting wins over Carla Suarez-Navarro, Mona Barthel and Kristyna Pliskova. She met her match in the semis vs. Julia Goerges, but there's no denying the momentum involved in the Californian's ascent. We'll soon see just how much Bellis '17 progress might influence U.S. Captain Kathy Rinaldi when it comes to picking the roster for the Fed Cup final, or at least the opening squad of Bannerettes for 2018.

Ostapenko's got no strings to hold her down. Not now. The Roland Garros champ didn't put on a championship run in Eastbourne in her first action since winning in Paris, but much of the same verve and fearlessness was still there. She played a pair of three-setters in her two-match stint at Devonshire Park, defeating Carla Suarez-Navarro (with a love set in the 2nd, where she won just eight points and posted a measly four winners as the stresses of a first match on grass led to a minor thigh strain) despite losing the overall points race in the match by a 71-67 total. Of course, in the Latvian's three-set loss to Johanna Konta, when she very nearly broke the Brit when she was serving for the match before finally seeing her convert on her third MP, Ostapenko actually won the most points, 104-103.

Blinkova (#115) qualified for her second '17 slam (w/ AO) in Roehampton, reaching the Wimbledon MD with victories over Connie Perrin, Ipek Soylu and Jana Fett, the latter coming in three sets after dropping a 6-1 1st in what turned out to be the Croat's third three-set match through the three rounds of SW19 qualifying. Blinkova was the Wimbledon girls singles runner-up to fellow Hordette Sofya Zhuk in 2015.
DOWN: (Week 25) Jelena Jankovic/SRB; (Week 26) Dominika Cibulkova/SVK
...yes, a week after losing in shocking fashion in Rosmalan to #277 Petra Krejsova, Jankovic went out again in the 1st Round in Mallorca. But at least it was to defending champion Caroline Garcia, so it wasn't quite as troubling. Plus, JJ teamed with Anastasija Sevastova for doubles success, reaching the final (but issuing a walkover to Y.Chan/Hingis since Sevastova had also reached the singles final). But, still, unlike many of the other thirtysomethings on tour, the now 32-year old Serb's results have certainly been trending significantly downward since her 30th birthday season in 2015. She won two singles titles that year (she's reached just one final since, last fall in Guangzhou), but the trend of a falling season-ending ranking had already begun. Since ending 2013 at #8, Jankovic's final rankings have slippped to #16, then #21 and #55. As things stand, she's got work to do to avoid an ever steeper fall at the end of 2017. JJ posted a grass win at Wimbledon over Petra Kvitova as recently as '15 en route to the Round of 16, what was at the time her fifth such result at a slam in an eight-major stretch, and sixth in ten. Since then, her combined match record in slams is just 5-7, and that's with a 3rd Round finish this year in Melbourne, her best result at the last seven majors.

Cibulkova's form and results are still lagging as she heads to London a year after reaching the QF at the AELTC. The defending champion in Eastbourne, she fell in her opening match to wild card Heather Watson this year. While she hasn't been blitzed and doesn't look so far off form that she couldn't ultimately regain it over the course of things at Wimbledon, this was still the Slovak's fourth straight defeat, and her sixth loss in seven matches. Overall, she's 2-6 since injuring her wrist in practice during Fed Cup week this spring.
ITF PLAYERS: (Week 25) Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK; (Week 26) Tatjana Maria/GER
...Rybarikova's comeback from last summer's wrist surgery has officially hit peak stride during the grass court season. Over a three week stretch, with her challenger win in Ilkey this past weekend, the Slovak has picked up two $100K grass titles and reached the semifinals at the WTA-level event in Nottingham. Her fourth ITF title run of 2017, all since the first week of May, concluded with a 7-5/7-6(3) win in the final over Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck.

In the final big grass court challenger heading into Wimbledon, #93 Maria claimed the $100K Southsea event with a 6-2/6-2 win in the final over Irina-Camelia Begu. It was the German's third $100K ITF final in 2017 (a circuit best). She's previously reached the Midland (hard Court indoor) final in February, defeating Naomi Broady, as well as the Marseilles (red clay) challenger in June, losing to Jasmine Paolini.
JUNIOR STARS: (Week 25) Jule Niemeir/GER; (Week 26) Anastasia Potapova/RUS and Bianca Andreescu/CAN
...the 17-year old German picked up the Grade 1 Allianz Kundler German Juniors event on red clay, improving her season junior record to 19-7.

In Wimbledon qualifying, '16 girls champ Potapova played her way into her first slam women's MD with Q-round wins over #7-seeded Patricia Maria Tig, Cagla Buyukakcay and Evgeniya Kulichkova. At 16, the WTA #294 is the youngest player in the women's competition. Joining her in the big event will be fellow teenager Andreescu (WTA #187). The 17-year old is already a two-time girls doubles slam champ in '17 (and singles semifinalist), the Canadian (countrywoman Francoise Abanda, too, qualified for her second consecutive slam) knocked off Kayla Day, Akiko Omae and Viktoria Kuzmova to reach the MD.
DOUBLES: (Week 25) Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) and Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI); (Week 26) Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI)
...the slam exploits of Mattek-Sands/Safarova are still the leading doubles story on tour in 2017, with the world's top team having won three straight majors and with two of their three season titles coming in majors. But Barty/Dellacqua and Chan/Hingis are maintaining just as high a winning trend across the regular tour schedule. Both duos picked up titles over the weekend on a third different surface -- hard, clay and now grass -- this season.

In Birmingham, Barty/Dellacqua picked up where they left off on the surface in their first go-around as a pair. Before Barty's brief sabbatical from the game, the Aussies reached two previous Birmingham finals in 2013-14 (winning in their first attempt), and finishing as runners-up as Wimbledon '13, as well. In Week 25, they recorded a win over the rare duo of Cibulkova/Muguruza, got a walkover from Mirza/Vandeweghe in the semis, then won a 10-8 3rd set TB over Chan Hao-Ching & Zhang Shuai in the final (their third straight finals, after Strasbourg & Roland Garros). It's their fifth overall tour-level title as a team.

In Mallorca, Chan Yung-Jan & Hingis' partnership continued to flourish. In their eighth tournament together, they won their fourth title (their overall results line goes like this: SF-QF-W-SF-W-W-SF-W). A semifinal win over Nicole Melichar & Anna Smith got Chan into her sixth '17 WD final, and Hingis her fifth, but they didn't need to actually *win* it to claim the title. With Anastasija Sevastova, who reached the doubles final with Jelena Jankovic, also playing for the singles crown, Chan & Hingis were awarded the WD title via a walkover. Hingis now has 59 career WTA doubles titles (one away from tying Rennae Stubbs and Cara Black for 12th all-time), while Chan has 22.

The run of Chan & Hingis (ch-ch-ch-Chingis???) continued in Eastbourne, as the pair won their fifth title in nine tournaments, taking out the likes of Peschke/Groenefeld, Melichar/A.Smith and, in the final, fellow grass court achieving duo Barty/Dellacqua via a 3rd set tie-break. Undefeated in finals since joining forces, Chan leads the tour (one ahead of Hingis) with six '17 titles, having also won one additional crown with her sister Hao-Ching this year. The win not only makes Hingis the fourteenth woman to win sixty tour-level doubles titles, but Chan's 23rd career title breaks her out of a tie with Venus Williams, and put her into one with Serena, on the active WD title list.

[Week 25]
1. Mallorca 1st Rd. - Victoria Azarenka def. Risa Ozaki 6-3/4-6/7-6(7)
Mallorca 2nd Rd. - Ana Konjuh def. Victoria Azarenka 6-1/6-3
Vika jumped out of the frying pan and into the proverbial fire in her first match back since delivering son Leo, saving three MP vs. Ozaki in a match that was finished up on a second day, then having to come back and face Konjuh soon afterward. That one didn't go so well, but the impressive ability to win such a dramatic match in her first game action in a year surely gives reason to be optimistic about the summer hard court season and Belarus' appearance in the Fed Cup final, which could very well provide Azarenka with a launching pad-like performance for her to take into 2018.
2. Birmingham 1st Rd. - Lucie Safarova def. Dominika Cibulkova 5-7/7-6(7)/7-5
Birmingham QF - Lucie Safarova def. Dasha Gavrilova 6-7/6-3/7-6(5)
Safarova saved MP in both matches en route to her second grass court semifinal in two weeks. Gavrilova led 5-3 in the 3rd, and served at 5-4, only to DF on break point down. The deciding tie-break was just as tight, tied 5-5 when Safarova's expert volley gave her her first MP (after she'd saved three). She put away the win in 3:03, but her ailing hamstring ended her SF vs. Petra Kvitova early.
3. Birmingham Final - Petra Kvitova def. Ash Barty
Hmmm, just what does Petra have in store for us at SW19? Of course, we know that even if she *does it* we'll have to endure a few "in just her third event back" jabs at the tour from the usual corners. But just remember that the ATP had *two* 35-year old singles champions (both will be 36 by the end of the summer) this weekend, but that the same sort of tour-bashing won't occur there that would happen if the same thing had just happened in the WTA. Isn't it easier (and more enjoyable) to embrace the good aspects of both realities, rather than search for ways to read in detrimental opinions? Of course it is.
4. Mallorca Final - Anastasija Sevastova def. Julia Goerges
*Someone* was going to win her first title in quite a while. While Sevastova only previous tour singles title cam in Estoril in May 2010, Goerges' most recent title run was in Stuttgart in 2011. Sevastova (w/ Jankovic) also advanced past the German (w/ Xenia Knoll) in the doubles semis.
5. Birmingham 2nd Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. Elina Svitolina
And Svitolina has since "hinted" that, because of a bad ankle, her participation at Wimbledon isn't a given.
6. Birmingham QF - Garbine Muguruza def. CoCo Vandeweghe
...6-4/4-6/0-0 ret.
Otherwise, Vandeweghe had a rather productive week, looking dominant against the likes of Christina McHale and Johanna Konta, and teaming well in doubles with Sania Mirza (after not being very successful in a previous stint with Mirza's old partner, Martina Hingis).
7. Mallorca SF - Anastasija Sevastova def. Caroline Garcia
Caroline didn't remember it going this way a year ago.
8. Mallorca 1st Rd. - Sabine Lisicki def. Kiki Bertens
...6-2/3-6 ret.
Oh, the irony. The always injury-prone Lisicki returns to action, and wins her first match when her *opponent* retires.
9. Mallorca 1st Rd. - Francesca Schiavone def. Genie Bouchard 6-7(5)/6-4/6-3
Birmingham QF - Petra Kvitova def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-4/7-6(5)
poor, Genie. Poor, Kiki. Yeah, not really.
10. Eastbourne Q1 - Tsvetana Pironkova def. Marketa Vondrousova
Hmmm. The Bulgarian is back on the grass. As dangerous as ever (see above), but also as unpredictable (see her Q2 loss to Lara Arruabarrena, 3-6/6-2/6-2).

[Week 26]
1. Eastbourne QF - Caroline Wozniacki def. Simona Halep
One might look at this as another trip over the side of the Cliffs of Simona, but there were certainly extenuating circumstances involved. After a series of delays produced a scheduling crunch late in the week -- tell me, why is the most prestigious pre-Wimbledon event, with the biggest draw, scheduled the week BEFORE SW19 and, therefore, forced to squeeze more matches into a tighter window than any other event all season, when it'd all run more smoothly if the tournament was moved a week earlier in the schedule since there is now a three-week, rather than two, tune-up period in effect? -- Halep had to play a 6-7(6)/7-6(4)/7-5 match against Tsvetana Pironkova early in the day, then what turned out to be another three-setter vs. the Dane, as well. Granted, while Halep's wilting down the stretch was understandable, she really *should* have put things away before then, when she led 7-5/3-0, up two breaks in the 2nd set (just like in the RG final vs. Ostapenko). Then again, she'd had to battle just to win the 1st, coming back from 5-2 to win eight straight games, only to see Wozniacki win six of seven to force a 3rd, which she then took rather handily. Halep had a shot to claim the #1 ranking at this event but, in the words of one Karolina Pliskova, "maybe next time."
2. Eastbourne QF - Johanna Konta def. Angelique Kerber
Things very nearly turned ugly late in this one, the Brit's first win over a world #1. On Konta's first MP, Kerber wrong-footed her, then on #2, Konta over-hit an easy forehand at the net, missing what was a totally open court. On MP #3, while chasing a ball behind the baseline, Konta slipped and fell, landing squarely on her back (and maybe feeling a little whiplash, too). Things didn't look good as she rolled around on the ground, but Konta generally reacts rather "largely" when she goes down unexpectedly on the court (remember her U.S. Open heat issues last summer?), only to eventually come back strong. She did it here, as well, firing off two quick points to end the match moments later. Though she *did* do the smart thing, just days before the start of Wimbledon, and withdrew from the SF as a precaution.
Eastbourne 2nd Rd. - Heather Watson def. Dominika Cibulkova
Yeah, sure, the defending champ lost in her opening match to a wild card Brit. But that was just *one* aspect of The Rad's machinations this year. In all, FOUR lucky losers -- Veronica Cepede Royg (over Hsieh Su-Wei, who's now 0-4 in Rad Day action), Sorana Cirstea, Lauren Davis and, naturally, Tsvetana Pironkova -- notched 1st Round MD wins on the day, including one (Davis) over another LL (Kristina Kucova), while Pironkova's 2nd Round win came after she'd actually gotten a 1st Round bye when she replaced Birmingham champ Petra Kvitova in the draw. Of course.
4. Eastbourne 2nd Rd. - Jelena Ostapenko def. Carla Suarez-Navarro
In her first action since winning Roland Garros, Ostapenko didn't seem as distracted as many other first-time slam champs of recent years. She was her old (young) self in the 1st set, overcame a love 2nd (and a slight injury) in which she notched just eight total points, as well as failing to serve out the match at 5-3 in the 3rd, breaking CSN to bring a victorious close to a match in which the Spaniard actually won more points (71-67).
5. Eastbourne 3rd Rd. - Johanna Konta def. Jelena Ostapenko
Ostapenko went out, but not without a fight. Things were knotted at 4-4 in the 3rd when the Brit broke the Latvian and served for the match. Ostapenko had two BP chances to get back on serve, but Konta held on and finally won on MP #3. Naturally, Ostapenko actually *won* more points in this loss, edging out Konta 104-103.

[Week 25]
1. Mallorca Final - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis walkover Jelena Jankovic/Anastasija Sevastova
it hasn't taken long for Chan's spring/summer partnership with Hingis to rise to the heights of being one of the Hall of Famer's most successful pairings. With four titles together, Chan/Hingis has now claimed as many titles as the Swiss Miss' histories with all but three past duo partners: Mirza (14), Kournikova (11) and Novotna (8).
2. Birmingham Final - Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua def. CHAN HAO-CHING/Zhang Shuai
...6-1/2-6 [10-8].
While the Chan sisters have continued to be occasional doubles partners during Yung-Jan's successful stint with Hingis, Hao-Ching hasn't quite come up with a consistently winning, non-sibling duo mate to call her own. She *did* nearly match her sister's title run in Week 25, though, coming within a 3rd set TB of picking up the title in Birmingham while Yung-Jan was off winning a tournament WD crown in Mallorca.

[Week 26]
1. Eastbourne Final - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Caroline Wozniacki
Now with thirteen tour singles final appearances since 2015, only Angelique Kerber (14) has played in more over the same stretch than Pliskova.
2. Eastbourne Final - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis def. Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua
...6-7(4)/6-4 [10-3].
The one thing that Hingis/Mirza was never able to successfully do was traverse the red clay and grass court seasons without missing a beat. But that's precisely what Chan/Hingis has done. In their last five events, the duo has won back-to-back clay titles in Madrid and Rome, and have now done it again on the grass in Mallorca and Eastbourne (w/ a RG SF in between). Since they combined forces earlier this year in Doha, they're reached at least the semis at seven straight events, and finals in five of their nine tournaments together, taking home the title on all five occasions.

8...Serena Williams, USA
6...Venus Williams, USA
3...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Martina Hingis, SUI (
2...Madison Keys, USA
2...CoCo Vandeweghe, USA

4 - Elina Svitolina, UKR
2 - Johanna Konta, GBR
2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS

72 - Serena Williams, USA (1 in 2017)
49 - Venus Williams, USA (2016)
43 - Martina Hingis, SUI (2007)
35 - Maria Sharapova, RUS (2015)
25 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2016)
20 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (2016)
20 - PETRA KVITOVA, CZE (2016)
20 - Aga Radwanska, POL (2016)
17 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2016)
15 - Simona Halep, ROU (1 in 2017)
15 - Jelena Jankovic, SRB (2015)

*2017 WTA SINGLES FINALS - Czechs*
1...Katerina Siniakova (1-0)
1...Marketa Vondrousova (1-0)
1...Barbora Krejcikova (0-1)
1...Kristyna Pliskova (0-1)
1...Lucie Safarova (0-1)

4...CZE - KVITOVA,KA.PLISKOVA,Siniakova,Vondrousova
3...RUS - Kasatkina,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
2...AUS - Barty,Stosur
2...GER - Barthel,Siegemund
2...LAT - Ostapenko,SEVASTOVA
2...UKR - Svitolina,Tsurenko
2...USA - Davis,S.Williams

*WTA FINALS - 2015-17*
14 - Angelique Kerber (7-7)
11 - Simona Halep (7-4)
11 - Serena Williams (8-3)
8 - Aga Radwanska (6-2)
8 - Elina Svitolina (6-2)

Saint Petersburg: Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (QF-Vinci)

7 yr/7 wks = ANASTASIJA SEVASTOVA [5/10 Estoril >> 6/17 Mallorca]
5 yrs = Timea Babos [2/12 Monterrey >> 2/17 Budapest]
3 yr/9 mo = Elena vesnina [6/13 E'bourne >> 3/17 I.W.]
3 yr/2 mo = Donna Vekic [4/14 K.Lumpur >> 6/17 Nottingham]
2 yr/10 mo = Mona Barthel [7/14 Bastad >> 5/17 Prague]

Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty/AUS (W/W)
Istanbul - Elise Mertens/BEL (L/L)

5...Y.CHAN/HINGIS (4-0+W)
4...Hradecka/Siniakova (0-4)
3...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (3-0)
3...Makarova/Vesnina (1-2)
3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)

Surbiton: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK def. Heather Watson/GBR
Manchester: Zarina Diyas/KAZ def. Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
Ilkley: Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK def. Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL
Southsea: Tatjana Maria/GER def. Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU
[most 2017 $100K finals]
2 - Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK (2-0)
2 - Zarina Diyas, KAZ (1-1)

2006 Meilen Tu, USA
2007 Hsieh Su-Wei, TPE & Olga Govortsova, BLR
2008 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, ESP & Eva Hrdinova, CZE
2009 Viktoriya Kutuzova, UKR
2010 Kaia Kanepi, EST
2011 Alexa Glatch, USA
2012 Sandra Zaniewska, POL
2013 Petra Cetkovska, CZE
2014 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
2015 Petra Cetkovska, CZE
2016 Mandy Minella, LUX
2017 Petra Martic, CRO
[2017 slams]
AO: Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
RG: Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
WI: Petra Martic, CRO

All for now.


Blogger tennisings said...

Glad to see you back! And yes, it seems so ridiculous to have a 48-person draw the week before Wimbledon, especially with all the potential havoc of getting rained out. Why would they do that?!

Mon Jul 03, 10:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks. ;)

Yeah, it was understandable and unavoidable when there were only two weeks between RG and Wimbledon, but the extra week should really lead to an eventual schedule change (I don't know if that's ultimately in the works or not, but it *should* be at some point).

Tue Jul 04, 12:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger tennisings said...

Actually, I'm pretty sure Birmingham used to be the 48-draw, and was the first week, followed by 28-(or 32-)draw Eastbourne. So they've made the change since the grass season was extended, which is all the more perplexing.

Tue Jul 04, 12:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Hello again nice to "see" you back. ABout the Pliskova vs Wozniacki: It was best player of the day, but I really would like to see them play when they have the same conditions. In Doha it also rained even if it's hard to believe. I know theyBOTH had to play two matches the same day but their schedules were different. Pliskova had a great deal longer rest. I remember Caroline had to play 3 matches (incl,final) within 26h, and I asked Patrik Wozniacki (interviewed him in May) what it does to your body and recovery, and he said it's nor possible, you just do your best. In Eastbourne same problem - pliskova could rest a whole day before the final, and again they BOTH had double duty the day before the semi. I think a quarter final meeeting in Wimbledon will give another resultif they both have the same conditions IMHO.

Tue Jul 04, 03:18:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I checked, and in the last two-week pre-Wimb grass season, Birmingham (56-draw) was the first week, while Eastbourne (32-draw) led into Wimbledon, along with Rosmalen (32-draw). So at that point I'd suspect the Eastbourne draw was small because there were two events, while it's been the only lead-in tournmament played in the three three-week tune-up seasons. In '15, Birmingham (56) was in the middle week, while Eastbourne (48) the week before Wimbledon. Then in 2016-17, Birmingham shifted to a 32-draw as it was joined by the Mallorca (32) event in the middle week, while Eastbourne has remained 48 in the third week as the lone tournament played there.

So I guess the bigger draw is because of it being the only tour-level option that week, but it would *still* seem better to have two 32-draw events so that the mess (delays, doubling-up of matches and player w/d's because of such a schedule heading into a slam) at this year's Eastbourne isn't repeated to quite that extent.

Good point on the oddities of the Wozniacki/Pliskova match-ups this year, as the Dane hadn't lost to her in prior meetings. Pliskova has made quite a leap in a lot of areas over the past year anyway, and this year's situations might have just further tilted the odds in her favor.

Tue Jul 04, 09:22:00 AM EDT  

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