Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wk.30- Czech, Peng, Patty, Teens... Czech, Peng, Patty, Teens...

And, finally, the WTA tour turns its eyes back to North American hard courts.

Meanwhile, in Bastad...

Now, who's gonna clean up *that* mess, Katerina?

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l/Red Clay)
S: Katerina Siniakova/CZE def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN 6-3/6-4
D: Quirine Lemoine/Arantxa Rus (NED/NED) d. Maria Irigoyen/Barbora Krejcikova (ARG/CZE) 3-6/6-3 [10-8]
S: Peng Shuai/CHN def. Nao Hibino/JPN 6-3/6-2
D: Jiang Xinyu/Tang Qianhui (CHN/CHN) d. Alla Kudryavtseva/Arina Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 6-3/6-2

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Katerina Siniakova/CZE
...Siniakova blasted out of the gates of the 2017 season back in Week 1, claiming her maiden tour title in Shenzhen while defeating the likes of Peng Shuai, Simona Halep and Johanna Konta (the latter two her first two Top 10 wins) en route to the crown. After that, though, things got tough. The Czech arrived in Bastad, where she'd reached her first tour title a year ago, having produced just a single QF result and posting a 10-15 record since her title run. She'd lost three straight, and five of six matches. But, as it did last summer, Siniakova's trip to Sweden proved quite fruitful.

Posting more Top 20 wins (3) in a week than she had previously (2) in her entire career, Siniakova's game rounded into better and better shape as the week went along. After being forced to go three sets in the 1st Round against Swedish wild card Rebecca Peterson, Siniakova lost just one set in her next four matches, taking out Arantxa Rus, #2-seeded Anastasija Sevastova (7-5 3rd), #3 Caroline Garcia (w/ three rain delays) and #1 Caroline Wozniacki, closing out the Dane for Top 10 win #3 in her best match (3 & 2) of the week after having to wait out the rain (again) for a few hours before the start of play. The title will lift Siniakova seventeen spots in the next rankings, bringing her back into the Top 40 (#39) as she chases down the career-high of #36 she set in April.
RISERS: Nao Hibino/JPN, Wang Yafan/CHN and Han Xinyun/CHN
...Japan's Hibino crashed the Chinese party in Nanchang, but couldn't quite emerge as the belle of the tournament ball. The 22-year old world #92 took advantage of a good draw (wins over Zhang Kailin, Lu Jingjing and Wang Yafan) and good fortune (Kristyna Pliskova retired after cutting her hand on a courtside electric fan during the first changeover break) to reach her fourth career tour singles final. Hibino, you might recall, burst onto the WTA scene in 2015 by winning her maiden title in Tashkent in just her second career tour-level MD appearance, climbing into the Top 100 (and nearly the Top 50 three months later), then returned to the final in her attempt defend her title a year later (she lost to Kr.Pliskova). She lost in the Kuala Lumpur final earlier this year to Ash Barty, and fell again in the Nanchang decider on Sunday against Chinese vet Peng Shuai. With season-ending finishes of #78 and #86 the last two years, this result should go a long way toward getting Hibino (up to #72 on Monday, leapfrogging Doi & Ozaki to become the #2 Japanese player behind Naomi Osaka) her third straight Top 100 finish.

In the game Nanchang event, hardly shockingly, three of the four semifinalists were Chinese, as 16 of the 32 MD slots were filled by native players. Aside from Peng Shuai, the other two from the bunch to reach the final four Han and Wang. For 23-year old Wang, the result matched her career-best tour finish, and was her big first tour-level run since she shocked the field in her tour-level MD debut in Guangzhou in 2014 (reaching the semis after upsets of Stosur and Martic). A wild card in this past week's event, #147-ranked Wang reached the semifinal stage without dropping a set, defeating the likes of Miyu Kato, Chang Kai-Chen and Hsieh Su-Wei. Once there, though, she was routed love & 2 by Hibino, losing the first six games of the match, as well as the last six. Still, Wang will now climb to #118, two off her career-best singles standing.

#126-ranked Han, 27, reached her second career WTA SF (and second of '17, w/ Kuala Lumpur) by surviving a 2nd Round clash with yet another Chinese player, Wang Qiang, which included a comeback from a 7-5/5-1 deficit, with Wang serving for the match three times, and Han saving two MP. Han also defeated Q.Wang en route to the KL semis in March. An additional win over Arina Rodionova got Han into the Nanchang final four, but she ultimately met the same fate as Wang Yafan, losing in a love & 3 rout to eventual champ Peng Shuai. Two years ago, when the Nanchang event was on the WTA 125 Series schedule, Han lost to eventual champ Jelena Jankovic in another semifinal. And, yes, she defeated Q.Wang on the way there that time, too. Han will be three spots off her career-high ranking next week, coming in at #108.

SURPRISES: Arina Rodionova/AUS and Lu Jingjing/CHN
...Rodionova has been experiencing pretty heady times of late. At Wimbledon, after making it through qualifying, the 27-year old Aussie notched her first career MD win at a major when she saved seven MP and upset #16-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, reaching a new career-high ranking. Last week in Nanchang, she knocked off defending champ Duan Yingying, then got another over Liu Fangzhou to reach her first career tour-level singles QF. She lost to Han Xinyun, but she wasn't finished. Teaming with Alla Kudryavtseva, Rodionova advanced to her second doubles final of the season with a semifinal victory over top-seeded Miyu Kato & Nao Hibino, but wasn't able to add her first career tour-level WD title to her growing list of accomplishments. Still, Rodionova will reach a new career-high singles ranking of #132 this week, as well as jump back into the doubles Top 100.

Also in Nanchang, 28-year old Lu also reached her own first tour-level singles QF. Ranked #272 (she was as high as #178 in '11), the Chinese woman made her way through qualifying, then put up wins over Zarina Diyas (saving a MP) and veteran Jelena Jankovic, who won the Nanchang singles title two years ago when it was a WTA 125 Series tournament. She'll climb to #216 in the rankings on Monday.

VETERANS: Peng Shuai/CHN, Caroline Wozniacki/DEN and Patty Schnyder/SUI
...rather quietly, Peng has been gradually moving back up the WTA rankings, and the 31-year old's title run this week in Nanchang, after she'd ended last season ranked outside the Top 100 following her return from 2015 back surgery, has nearly got her back into the Top 20 (#23). Peng dropped just one set in Nanchang, defeating the likes of Kurumi Nara, Tereza Martincova (making Peng the tournament's sixth quarterfinalist hailing from China), Zhu Lin, Han Xinyun and Nao Hibino in the final to collect her second career title. With Peng winning in the same week in which Caroline Wozniacki fell to 0-5 in 2017 finals, it's good to note how Peng has overcome in the second half of her career the "can't win a title" label that hounded her early on, when she lost her first six WTA singles finals. Interestingly, Nanchang may have played a role in the change, as Peng's title run there in 2014 when the event was a WTA 125 Series stop can be seen as the moment when her career results took a turn for the better. Less than two months after she'd claimed what was then her biggest career singles title, she reached the U.S. Open semifinals and, since coming back from her back injury, has won two of the three tour finals she's played since last fall. In February, she lost to Elina Svitolina in the Taiwan Open final, and was forced to retire in the 3rd set from a WTA 125 final in Zhengzhou in April.

Peng's career high (#14 -- in 2011, not after her '14 U.S. Open SF run) is still at least one very good result from coming into play, but she's now the top-ranked Chinese player on tour, moving past Zhang Shuai on Monday after having started the season ranked eighty-five spots behind her countrywoman.

While Peng has seemingly gotten over her personal "hump," Wozniacki has suddenly built a new one for herself. Even when she was #1 and wasn't able to claim her first *major* title, the Dane was always able to compete and win titles all over the regular tour schedule. While 2017 has seen Wozniacki return to the Top 10 and play well enough to reach finals on three different surfaces (only she and Anett Kontaveit can claim as much), she's still searching for her first title after losing in Bastad for the fifth time in five final appearances this year. Granted, Wozniacki's didn't show the greatest form in Bastad, and was treated for a wrist injury in the final, so even getting as close to title #26 as she did is probably a fortunate result, as she often committed an uncharacteristically high number of errors and was forced to three sets in three -- vs. Pauline Parmentier, Viktoriya Golubic and Elise Mertens -- of her four matches leading into the final, which she lost 3 & 4 to Katerina Siniakova, making her 0-for-10 in sets in her '17 finals. Still, Wozniacki is the first player to post forty match wins this season, and the five finals are her most in a season since 2011, the last of three straight seasons in which she played in nine (though she won 3, 6 and 6 titles, respectively, from 2009-11).

But the hard court circuit is where the Dane has always thrived the most (her appearance in Bastad for a rare Scandinavian tour-level event likely had more to do with "off court" commitments than good preparation for Flushing Meadows, where she'll be attempting to defend her '16 SF points), so what remains of the summer could still prove to be her time to shine.

On the ITF circuit, Sneaky Patty is getting sneakier and sneakier. With the twentieth anniversary of her U.S. Open debut coming up in a few weeks, the 38-year old Swiss vet won her second ITF singles crown of the season with a title run at the $25K challenger in Norb am Neckar, Germany that comes a week after she posted a tour-level win in Gstaad (her first in a WTA match since 2011). Schnyder closed out her no-sets-lost run on Sunday with a 6-3/6-1 win over fellow Swiss Conny Perrin, running her singles record to 16-4 since the start of June.
COMEBACKS: Alisa Kleybanova/RUS and Kaia Kanepi/EST
...after another extended absence, one of several since her diagnosis of Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma back in the summer of 2011, the now 28-year old Kleybanova is back once more. Playing in her first tournament since May of last year (a match in which she retired after just eight games), the Russian deemed herself healthy enough to accept a wild card into the MD of the $25K Hua Hin, Thailand challenger. After not having played a full match since December 2015 (when she won a $10K event as a qualifier), Kleybanova rode her WC all the way to the final without dropping a set, putting up wins over the likes of Fatma Al Nabhani and Yana Sizikova. With the talent on the other side of the net raised a new notches in the final vs. #1-seeded Luksika Kumkhum, Kleybanova finally lost, but only after taking the Thai native to three sets in a 7-5/6-7(4)/6-3 contest. The former #21-ranked player in the world (2011), the Russian is a two-time slam Round of 16 participant, as well as a two-time WTA singles title winner (2008-09).

Also on the ITF circuit, 32-year old Kanepi claimed the title at the $25K Parnu challenger in her home nation of Estonia, giving her two singles titles in her four '17 events (she also lost in Wimbledon and Bucharest qualifying). Kanepi didn't lose a set all week, and dropped just ten games in her five matches (three from the QF-F), taking the title with a 6-1/6-0 win in the final over Russian Polina Golubovskaya. Coming in ranked #446, Kanepi had been out since June '16 until her return earlier this summer. Constantly struggling with injuries throughout her career (during last year's RG qualifying, she said that her body "is not built for being consistent and doing this physical activity."), she's had illness-related issues, as well. She was diagnosed with Epstein Barr virus in the summer of '15 after playing for half a year with it before the cause of her symptoms (feeling bad, and tired) was discovered, then saw the virus return in early '16, leading her to determine that she needed to take a break, she returned a few months later and (naturally) hurt in back last spring. She ultimately only played fifteen matches in 2016, none after mid-June. So far, she's 11-2 in 2017. Kanepi ranked as high as #14 in 2012, has won four WTA titles and is a five-time slam quarterfinalist.
FRESH FACES: Elise Mertens/BEL and the young Swedes (Mirjam Bjorklund and Cornelia Lister)
...21-year old Waffle Mertens' wild all-surface '17 campaign continues. Remember, after ending the '16 season at #124, Mertens began the year with a title run on hard court in Hobart that almost didn't happen (advancing deep into the tournament would mean she'd miss AO qualifying, but the Belgian qualifier lost a game of chicken with the similarly-minded LL Sachia Vickery in their 2nd Round match, as the Bannerette beat her to the punch, retiring from their match before Mertens could do the same, after just one game). Mertens went on to claim her maiden title (she had wins that week over Mladenovic, Bertens and Niculescu!) and climb into the Top 100. But after winning eight total matches in Hobart, it took her six tournaments to notch her next eight WTA Q/MD victories (though she did go an additional 3-0 in Fed Cup play for the surprising Belgian squad). Finally, in post-Hobart event #7 she reached her second tour final on the clay in Istanbul (a loss to Elina Svitolina), but has often had a hard time getting over the proverbial hump in big matches. She lost to Venus Williams in the 3rd Round (still a career slam best) in Paris, then again in the 1st Round at Wimbledon (a close 7-6/6-4), and also dropped three-setters vs. Anastasija Sevastova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on grass. Last week, after having gone 5-7 since her Istanbul RU result, Mertens got wins over Irina Bara, Carla Suarez-Navarro and Aleksandra Krunic before losing (again, in three sets) to Caroline Wozniacki. Mertens win rise into the Top 50 for the first time on Monday, to a new career-high of #47.

Meanwhile, though none actually recorded MD wins in Bastad, the young Swedes in the draw did manage to do enough to get some attention outside of just the cheers from the home fans. 18-year old (she just turned 19 this weekend) Mirjam Bjorklund, just two months past earning her first WTA ranking, made her tour debut a the event. The world #730 -- a $15K title winner in Knokke, Belgium two weeks ago (and an ITF finalist a week later) -- led Kateryna Kozlova 4-2 in the 3rd set, served for her maiden win at 6-5 and even held a MP, but ultimately fell in a 7-4 deciding TB. She'll be at #658 this coming week. Cornelia Lister, 23, didn't get her maiden MD win at a tour event, either, but the world #550 made it through qualifying (her second successful tour Q-run, with the other coming at Rosmalen a few weeks ago) with wins over Danka Kovinic (ret.) and Louisa Chirico. She fell in the 1st Round against Aleksandra Krunic, but will break into the Top 500 (476) on Monday. Lister has filled an important Fed Cup role for the Swedes in '17, as well, joining up with Johanna Larsson in doubles after the retirement of Swedish vet -- and usual Larsson FC partner -- Sofia Arvidsson. They went 2-0 as a duo for the national team this season.

The other two Swedes in the Bastad MD didn't post wins, either, but both put up a good fight. #9-seeded Larsson, hot off her doubles title last week in Gstaad, lost in a 3rd set TB to Mona Barthel, while WC Rebecca Peterson took Siniakova to three sets in the 1st Round.
DOWN: Jelena Jankovic/SRB
...unfortunately, Jankovic is qualifying for this spot on an almost weekly basis these days.

First, the good news: she's at least ended her five-match losing streak. Of course, she did it with a win in Nanchang over #378 Kang Jiaqi, and even then failed to put away triple MP, then another on serve, before being broken before eventually finishing off the win on MP #6. One round later, she fell to Lu Jingjing, 2-6/6-1/6-2, committing twelve DF while adding a loss to the world #272 to previous '17 defeats at the hands of players ranked #277, #109, #105 and #87. The 32-year old is now 6-17 in MD matches this season, and has just one multiple-win event -- it was at a big event, though, the Australian Open) -- aside from going 3-0 in Doha qualifying back in February. Jankovic's last non-slam event in which she posted back-to-back wins was in Hong Kong last October. Incidentally, that happened the same month she defeated Jelena Ostapenko in Moscow.

Much has changed since then for the two Jelenas.

Riga ???????? #me#sunny#days#home#latviangirl#riga#lovemycity#latvia#2017

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Maybe the return to North American hard courts will be good for JJ, as the last time she played in the U.S. she came THIS CLOSE to some big results. Her "anti-Sunshine Double" included losses in a pair of springtime contests in which she held MP, three vs. Venus Williams in Indian Wells and a fourth against Yaroslava Shvedova in Miami.

Jankovic will still be the highest-ranked Serb next week, coming in at #68 (up from #70), still nineteen spots ahead of Aleksandra Krunic, who'll jump up nine to #87 after reaching the Bastad QF.
ITF PLAYERS: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE and Amanda Anisimova/USA
...Latvian Thunder (now 20, but still) aside, no teenager has made more eyebrows raise in 2017 than Vondrousova. Just a month past her 18th birthday, the Czech has already won her maiden tour-level singles title (at 17, in Biel), proved her Fed Cup mettle and climbed into the Top 100. She's still seeking her first breakthrough slam performance, though, so at this point she's still often plying her trade on the ITF circuit. Not surprisingly, she's been quite good there, as well. After already banking $15K, $25K and $100K titles this season, she showed up as the #1 seed in this week's $80K event in Prague and walked away with her fourth circuit title of 2017, dropping just one set all week while notching wins over Tereza Smitkova, Anastasiya Komardina, Chantal Skamlova and Denisa Allertova before claiming a 7-5/6-1 final win over 20-year old wild card Czech Karolina Muchova, who'd lost in the 2nd Round in last week's $80K Olomouc challenger to Kristyna Pliskova in a 7-5 3rd set. Vondrousova will climb to a new career high of #68 on Monday, as she jockeys for position in the deep field of Czechs on tour. Siniakova inches past Lucie Safarova this week to reach the nation's Top 5 at #39, while fourth-ranked Czech Kristyna Pliskova reaches another career high of her own at #35. Vondrousova is still only the seventh-highest ranked player from her nation, but expect that number to continue to shrink over the next year.

Meanwhile, 15-year old Anisimova finally picked up her first pro singles title at the $60K challenger in Sacramento, California after reaching her fourth final in five ITF MD appearances in 2017. Unfortunately, it came via a walkover from fellow finalist Ajla Tomljanovic, the Croat-turned(ing)-Aussie still on the road back from shoulder surgery who'd already defeated the #4 (Sachia Vickery) and #2 (Sonya Kenin, ending her eight-match win streak) seeds during the week. For her part, Anisimova notched victories over the #3 (Kayla Day) and #2 (Kristie Ahn, who'd defeated her in another $60K final in April) seeds en route to the final. The win will shoot Anisimova up sixty-two spots to #188, easily making her the youngest player in the Top 200. The only other players under 18 are #166 Bianca Andreescu, #152 Destanee Aiava, #147 Sofya Zhuk, and #129 Kayla Day, and they're all 17. In fact, you'd have to go down to #499 (Marta Kostyuk) to find a WTA-ranked junior player younger than Anisimova, and only #588 Maja Chwalinksa, #910 Helene Pellicano and #964 Alexa Ryngler in the Top 1000 are younger
JUNIOR STARS: Kaja Juvan/SLO and Ann Li/USA
...Juvan and Marta Kostyuk have crossed paths quite a bit in recent weeks, and in this week's European Junior Championships in Switzerland it was the Slovenian who came out on the top in the end.

At Wimbledon, it was the Ukrainian AO girls champ who get the best of Juvan in an unfortunate draw for both, taking out the Roehampton runner-up in a 1st Round encounter. Less than a week later, Juvan defeated Kostyuk in the SW19 girls doubles final. This week, they switched things up, as Kostyuk (w/ Viktoriia Dema) defeated Juvan (w/ Anja Gal) in the doubles semifinals en route to the title, but saw #6-seeded Juvan strike back against the #1-seeded Ukrainian by taking a 6-3/1-6/6-4 singles final. Kostyuk had reached the championship without dropping a set, while Juvan had gotten there with a SF win over #4 Olga Danilovic, the same Serbian teen she'd teamed with the take the Wimbledon GD title a few weeks ago.

Poland's mighty mite, Maja Chwalinska won the 16s European title. Someone was paying attention...

While Claire Liu was ultimately crowned the Wimbledon girls champion earlier this month, her run was an expected one. That of unseeded finalist Ann Li was not. Well, just a few weeks after her breakout performance at SW19, 17-year old Li has gone and won her first pro singles title at this week's $15K challenger in Evansville, Indiana. Unseeded yet again, the #14-ranked junior (she's yet to earn a WTA ranking) defeated fellow U.S. girls Whitney Osuigwe and Caty McNally during the week, then outlasted Mexico's Marcela Zacarias 4-6/6-4/6-3 in the final. This was just the third career MD ITF appearance from Li, with the other two coming in June of last year.

DOUBLES: Jiang Xinyu/Tang Qianhui (CHN/CHN) and Quirine Lemoine/Arantxa Rus (NED/NED)
...Week 30 saw two pairs of maiden WTA title-winners bound into the winner's circle.

In Nanchang, it was 18-year old Jiang Xinyu & 16-year old partner Tang Qianhui. The Chinese pair claimed the title in their tour debut without dropping a set, defeating the #3-seeded team of Ninomiya/Takahata in the QF and #4 Kudryavtseva/Ar.Rodionova in the final. They could be a duo with some staying power, too, as they've carried over their partnership's junior success (29-4 overall, winning six of seven finals, and going 20-1 in '16) by going 24-5 on the ITF circuit and now 4-0 in WTA play. Since May, they've won three $25K titles, a $60K and reached two other challenger finals (they went 1-1 in ITF finals last year), and now they're WTA champions, as well. Tang, for her part, has had some singles success, too, reaching the $15K Anning semis in early July before dropping a 6-7/7-6/6-4 decision there to Eudice Chong.

In Bastad, the all-Dutch duo of Lemoine & Rus -- a more veteran pair than the Chinese teens, at 25 and 26, respectively -- emerged with the crown after landing in the maiden tour-level final for both after quite a bit of previous success on the ITF circuit (Lemoine is 15-3 in ITF singles finals and has won 17 doubles crowns, while Rus has won 13 ITF singles and 8 doubles titles, not to mention being a longtime Fed Cup presence and RG 4th Rounder in '12). The duo took out #3-seeded countrywomen Mertens/Schuurs (Week 29's Bucharest RU) in a 3rd set TB in the 1st Round, #2 Kalashnikova/Rosolska in the semis and #4 Irigoyen/Krejcikova (another 3rd set TB) in the final.


Anything Kiki can do...?

1. Bastad Final - Katerina Siniakova def. Caroline Wozniacki
If Caro ever does lift a title trophy this season, it'd be a significant accomplishment, for it'd mark the tenth straight year in which the Dane has done so. Not only would that be the second longest active streak (Serena - 11) on tour, but she'd be just the eighth player to put up such a consistent, double-digit season run in WTA history.

*CONSECUTIVE YEARS w/ WTA TITLE - active streaks*
11 years - Serena Williams (2007-17)
7 years - Petra Kvitova (2011-17)
5 years - Karolina Pliskova (2013-17)
5 years - Elina Svitolina (2013-17)
5 years - Simona Halep (2013-17)
4 years - Garbine Muguruza (2014-17)
[streaks not yet extended in '17]
9 years - Caroline Wozniacki (2008-16)
6 years - Aga Radwanska (2011-16)
21 - Martina Navratilova, 1974-94
18 - Chris Evert, 1971-88
14 - Steffi Graf, 1986-99
13 - Maria Sharapova, 2003-15
11 - Serena Williams, 2007-17
11 - Evoone Goolagong, 1970-80
11 - Virginia Wade, 1968-78

2. Nanchang 2nd Rd. - Han Xinyun def. Wang Qiang
Han's best results usually come equipped with a win over Wang somewhere along the way, and it happened again in Nanchang en route to the semifinals. Of course, it took some doing this time around. As in over three hours on the court, overcoming a 7-5/5-1 deficit, saving two MP and seeing her countrywoman try (and fail) on three occasions to serve out the win.
3. Bastad 1st Rd. - Mona Barthel def. Johanna Larsson
For the second week in a row, Larsson loses in singles to her doubles partner for the week. In Gstaad, she and Kiki Bertens went on to win the title. In Bastad, she and Barthel lost in the 1st Round.
4. Nanchang Final - Peng Shuai def. Nao Hibino
Peng, after so much difficulty finally getting her maiden title, is now just the third Chinese woman (and Li Na and Zheng Jie) to win multiple tour-level singles titles in her career.

5. Nanchang 1st Rd. - Chang Kai-chen def. Zhang Shuai
Off her win in a $100K challenger, Zhang saved two MP in the 2nd set and forced a deciding 3rd, but saw Chang sweep the final three games of the match to send the #1 seed out early in Nanchang.
6. Bastad SF - Katerina Siniakova def. Caroline Garcia
Through three rain interruptions -- at early, middle and late stages of the match -- that caused this one to take four hours to complete, Siniakova saved two SP in the 2nd and held off Garcia to reach her second straight Bastad final. For Garcia, though she continues to seek her first appearance in a singles final since winning Mallorca last summer, it was a good week. She put up victories over Irina-Camelia Begu (a Week 29 champ in Bucharest), Sara Errani and Barbora Krejcikova. Still, Caro-vs.-Caro would have been interesting -- the Dane leads the Pastry 2-0, but they've played just once since 2012, and not for nearly two full years.

7. $80K Prague Final - Anastasia Potapova/Dayana Yastremska def. Mihaela Buzarnescu/Alona Fomina
They faced off in that wild Wimbledon girls final last year, but in Prague they joined forces to win a doubles title. For 16-year old Potapova, it's her second 2017 ITF WD win to go along with a singles title, while 17-year old Yastremska has won three ITF doubles crowns this season (she won her one ITF singles title in '16).

8. $15K Dublin Final - Jodie Anna Burrage def. Sinead Lohan
The 18-year old Brit (#891) picks up her first pro title, defeating NCAA star Lohan in the Miami Hurricane's second final in three '17 events. Lohan won in Cantanhede ($15K) in July, and is 11-2 on the season on the ITF circuit.
9. $15K Targu Jiu Final - Astra Sharma def. Belinda Woolcock
In a match-up of Aussies, recent college rivals and NCAA Team Championship MVP winners from the last two seasons -- Sharma/Vanderbilt '16, Woolcock/Florida '17 -- Sharma became the latest opponent to deny Woolcock her first pro singles title. This is Woolcock's second ITF singles final loss in two weeks, but at least she's won (w/ Samantha Harris) back-to-back doubles titles to take away a little of the sting.
10. $15K Ivano-Frankivsk Q2 - Tatiana Perebiynis def. Diana Bakuta
34-year old Ukrainian Perebiynis is back, playing her first matches in nearly two years. A former junior Wimbledon finalist (2000), tour singles finalist (2005), six-time doubles champ and Wimbledon MX runner-up (2005), she ranked as high as #55 in 2008.

Memory fuel for the tough moments during her next big title run in 2018?

1. Nanchang 1st Rd. - ARINA RODIONOVA def. Duan Yingying 7-5/6-4
Nanchang QF - Han Xinyun def. ARINA RODIONOVA 6-1/7-5
Rodionova opened her week with a win over the defending champ and put together a career-best result, but some people had *other things* on their mind. Arina had a few thoughts about that...

Alright, let's be honest it was far from my best performance, I'll be the first to admit that. But just letting all those people on different SM platforms who wished me and my family death from cancer know... 1) doesn't matter how many times you will message me this- it won't make me die sooner. 2) not only that I don't give a damn about your wishes, they actually make me laugh, so don't waste your time. 3) why cancer tho?? Why all of you have such poor imagination? I am requesting something with the chainsaw for the next loss- make it interesting god dammit! 4) By messaging me you showing me that you are frustrated cause you lost money on me- that makes me happy ??. 5) I am not even gonna have a bad day. I will continue to happily work hard and fight for every point on the court. So take that, suckers :) PS. To everyone else, THANK YOU for all the msgs of support, it's been great!?? Oh yeah, and about the photo. So apparently hawk eye decided that this ball touched the line. Thoughts? ?????????

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2. Nanchang Doubles Final - Jiang Xinyu/Tang Quinhui def. Alla Kudryavtseva/ARINA RODIONOVA
Arina is still trying to join her sister Anastasia in the doubles winner's circle, as she's now fallen to 0-2 in '17 finals (0-5 career). Anastasia won her eleventh career crown in Acapulco earlier this season (four of them have come while partnering Kudryavtseva). But at least Arina didn't get tempted quite as much (only to see the title snatched away at the last instant) this time, losing in straights after dropping 3rd set TB's in each of her previous four WTA finals.
3. Nanchang 2nd Rd. - Nao Nibino def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
...3-0 ret.
Hmmm, when something like this happen, is there some notion about the idea of the Tennis Gods balancing things out when it comes to the Pliskova twins?

4. $15K Les Contamines-Montjoie Final - TAYISA MORDERGER/YANA MORDERGER def. Kerrie Cartwright/Kariann Pierre-Louis
...2-6/6-4 [10-7].
The 20-year old, Kiev-born German twins pick up their third career ITF title as a duo, and second this season. Bahamian native, and Florida State alum, Cartwright was playing for her first career title. She also reached the singles QF, where she lost to, yes, Yana Morderger.
5. $15K Parnu SF - Polina Golubovskaya def. LAURA GULBE
Ernests Gulbis' 22-year old half-sister matches the best result of her career.

The official merging of mind and body of the WTA and Wheelchair tours?

The official moment when players would be given an approving nod if they just decided to abandon social media altogether. (See the eyeroll-worthy "supportive" comment from "Jack Dawg.")

Happy baby.

??dayz with my babes! So happy to see my favorite girls(missing Steph) love you @karinashulman @sheryshulman11

A post shared by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

The Eternal Gracefulness of the Gavrilovian Mind? Or maybe not.

Sunday was a funday.. but Monday is a bit like this ??

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Dasha: Up Close

• • ???? •••???? •••??

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Practice makes perfect.

I've been practicing ?? check the progress in my #story ??

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

4 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-0)
4 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-3)
3 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (3-0)
3 - Johanna Konta, GBR (2-1)
3 - Simona Halep, ROU (1-2)
3 - Anett Kontaveit, EST (1-2)

Budapest - Timea Babos, HUN (W)
Stuttgart - Laura Siegemund, GER (W)
Prague - Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
Nottingham - Johanna Konta, GBR
Bucharest - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (W)

36 = Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota)
35 = Serena Williams, USA (Australian Open)
33 = Samantha Stosur, AUS (Strasbourg)
30 = Elena Vesnina, RUS (Indian Wells)

3 - Karolina Pliskova (3-0)
1 - Petra Kvitova (1-0)
1 - Marketa Vondrousova (1-0)
1 - Barbora Krejcikova (0-1)
1 - Kristyna Pliskova (0-1)
1 - Lucie Safarova (0-1)

9 - Li Na (2004,08,10-14)
4 - Zheng Jie (2005-06,12)
2 - PENG SHUAI (2016-17)
1 - Duan Yingying (2016)
1 - Yan Zi (2005)
1 - Sun Tiantian (2006)
1 - Zhang Shuai (2013)

2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS = Hard,Red Clay
2 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE = Hard,Grass
2 - Elina Svitolina, UKR = Hard,Red Clay
[finals on most surfaces]
3 - Anett Kontaveit, EST = Hard,Grass,Red Clay
3 - CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, DEN = Hard,Grass,Red Clay

*2017 WTA SF*
6 - Johanna Konta, GBR (3-2+L)
6 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-3+W)
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-1)
5 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (4-1)
4 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (2-2)
4 - Simona Halep, ROU (3-1)
4 - Julia Goerges, GER (2-2)
4 - Lucie Safarova, CZE (1-3)
4 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (1-3)

Monique Adamczak, AUS
Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
Nao Hibino, JPN
Dalila Jakupovic, SLO
Nicole Melichar, USA
Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
Nadia Podoroska, ARG
Storm Sanders, AUS
Anna Smith, GBR
Gaby Dabrowski, CAN
Abigail Spears, USA

19 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (2-0)
20 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (0-4)
20 - Ash Barty, AUS (2-0)
20 - Beatriz Haddad, BRA (Bogota-W)
20 - Nadia Podoroska, ARG (Bogota-W)
20 - Nina Stojanovic, SRB (0-2)

Shenzhen - Peng Shuai, CHN
Taipei City - Chan/Chan, TPE
Charleston - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
Prague - Kveta Peschke, CZE
Bucharest - Begu/Olaru, ROU

2 - Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR (0-2)
1 - Beatriz Haddad, BRA (1-0)
1 - Nadia Podoroska, ARG (1-0)
1 - Mariana Duque, COL (0-1)

5 - Polina Monova, RUS
4 - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU
4 - Dejana Radanovic, SRB
4 - Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK
4 - Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
[North Americans]
2 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN
2 - Madison Brengle, USA
2 - Caroline Dolehide, USA
2 - Claire Liu, USA
2 - Bernarda Pera, USA
1 - Kristie Ahn, USA
1 - Danielle Collins, USA
1 - Nicole Gibbs, USA
1 - Quinn Gleason, USA
1 - Alexa Graham, USA
1 - Sonya Kenin, USA
1 - Ashley Lahey, USA
1 - Sanaz Marand, USA
1 - Asia Muhammad, USA
1 - Jamie Loeb, USA
1 - Giuliana Olmos, MEX
1 - Ana Sofia Sanchez, MEX
1 - Sabrina Santamaria, USA
1 - Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN

"I mean, because, otherwise, why would I even be here being interviewed, right?"

16 Singles Final: Konta d. V.Williams
16 Doubles Final: Atawo/Spears d. Jurak/An.Rodionova
17 Top Seeds: Muguruza/Kvitova

(WC) Sharapova d. #1 Muguruza (it'd be nice to see Garbi carry over her SW19 momentum to something more, though)
#6 Vandeweghe d. #8 Bellis
#6 Vandeweghe d. (WC) Sharapova

...jumping into the Vandeweghe pool yet again this summer. (Holding breath and dipping head under the surface of the water.)

K.Bondarenko/Ar.Rodionova d. #4 Chuang/Kato
#2 Dabrowski/Xu d. #3 Spears/Vandeweghe
#2 Dabrowski/Xu d. K.Bondarenko/Ar.Rodionova

16 Singles Final: Wickmayer d. Davis
16 Doubles Final: Niculescu/Wickmayer d. Aoyama/Ozaki
17 Top Seeds: Halep/Mladenovic

#1 Halep d. #3 Davis
#4 Goerges d. #2 Mladenovic
#1 Halep d. #4 Goerges

...there *has* been one tournament (Monterrey) this season where the top four seeds reached the semis. And there aren't any true "cliffs" in D.C. for Simona to topple over the side of. Well, as long as she doesn't visit the White House.

#1 Mirza/Niculescu d. Bouchard/Stephens
#2 Aoyama/Voracova d. Andreescu/Chirico
#2 Aoyama/Voracova d. #1 Mirza/Niculescu

...and Monica gets her turn in the Sania hot seat.

And so it went in the week of Czech, Peng, Patty, Teens... a combination even more odd than...

Or, on second thought.

All for now.


Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Not the easiest Sunday to be a Caro fan, but if you think positive she's done it quite well. Here is a conversation between father and daughter during the final - quite telling:

Caro doesn't seem to be in good mood.

Piotr Wozniacki:"Move her side to side, and that's it. Don't think much about power."
Caro: "I don't think about power!"

Piotr Wozniacki: "Try to find balance in your game. She does nothing. You are making errors so far."

Piotr: "I'm watching from box and I'm trying to explain."
Caro: "Okay, go, watch then!"

Time for hard court and still time to win a title.

Mon Jul 31, 11:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Siniakova is 21 now, so she will learn not to waste it next time.

WTA has streaming.

Stat of the Week-4- The number of slams won by players who played in the 2016 Olympics.

Well, a year has passed, so it probably is time to take a look back at some of the players that passed on olympic glory, and others that made the journey. Did it make a difference? The numbers, except for the slams, are similar.

Before I get to that, a quick note about 3 players. In an effort to compare numbers, I am using the 6/6/16 rankings, which were the cutoff date. So the highest ranked woman now that wasn't even eligible to be looked at? Kontaveit, who was then 97, and now is 28. Other impressive jumps belong to Kr. Pliskova 108 to 35, and Bellis 250 to 44.

So here is a look at both the 5 highest ranked players who went to the Olympics, and the 5 highest that passed or whatever reason. Listed first is ranking then, next the 2016 record from after the Olympics to end of year. Then 2017 record.

1.S.Williams 5-1/8-1
2.Kerber 16-4/23-14
3.Muguruza 10-8/29-12
4.Radwanska 23-7/14-11
7.Vinci 8-7/9-15

Obviously Serena has had a truncated season, but won a slam. Kerber used her Olympic final as a springboard to a USO title. Muguruza getting upset by Puig threw her off, but mathematically had a chance at #1 around Cinci/USO. Radwanska lost in the 1st rd, then regrouped and looked like the Aga of old in the 2nd half. This year, not so much. Vinci, nearing the end, finished over .500 last year, but 9-15 this year includes 3 losses to Kr. Pliskova.

Non Olympians
5.Halep 18-5/30-9
6.Azarenka 0-0/4-2
8.Bencic 3-8/1-7(3-8)
17.Pliskova 17-7/35-10
21.Cibulkova 18-8/16-15

Halep closed well last year, was this years queen of clay, and reached a slam final. Azarenka gets an inc as she took pregnancy break. Bencic was 8! The parenthesies is because she played an ITF event. Just a lost year. Pliskova is the poster child for doing you own thing. From 17 to 1. Won Cinci, reached the USO final, and became the 23rd #1. Cibulkova got married, closed well, and became one or the more unlikely YEC winners. This season has been underwhelming, but most would take that tradeoff.

So the numbers are pretty even. Halep, Pliskova and Cibulkova did better by doing their own thing, while Williams, Kerber and Muguruza won slams.

To close, when I said 4 slam winners, it is because Ostapenko did play the Olympics. She lost in the 1st round, ironically enough, to Stosur in 3 sets.

Mon Jul 31, 11:45:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

The premiers are back. Well, Stanford is, Washington DC isn't. So on to what may be an all over the place writeup.

5 On the Up Side

1.Bellis-"Alright Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up." Let's be honest, Stanford is going to be one of the barometers to see who is ready for prime time. Meaning that without Serena, there are going to be two night matches at the USO with somebody's name on them. Bellis has a huge chance to throw her hat in the ring, and Stephens and Keys are coming back from injuries, and Vandeweghe has not gotten past the 2nd rd. Assume that she will get a night natch tomorrow, and Sharapova/Brady and Liu/Gibbs have them tonight. Plus a good summer season gets her a seed. This is what she has been waiting for.
2.Hlavackova-A doubles player? Is she here because she's pregnant? No, that would be Whiley and Mitu. Did she get married? Yes, the same weekend as Wickmayer and Radwanska. But instead of using her as a throwaway line in the Bertens/Larsson bit, why not spotlight the good? You see, Andrea is likely to do what even Mirza could not last year. And that is qualify for the YEC with two different partners. If that happens, she gets to choose, which is good in case of injury. The reason why I think it seems likely? Because the dormant team(Peng) is 4th in the rankings. Effectively 3rd with Mattek Sands ahead of them. With 2776 pts and holding, that would have been good enough for 9th last year, and that will get them in. The one with Babos is 9th(8th), and has the rest of the season to improve.
3.Liu-How can I be up on someone who has never won a WTA level match? When they are the current Wimbledon Jr Champ, and playing the slumping Gibbs. Gibbs is 2-7 in WTA MD matches this year, and both wins were at the AO. She did recently win the ITF Baton Rouge event, but the quality wins arent there. In contrast, the 17 yr old Liu has a name win in on the comeback trail Alona Bondarenko, and even if she beat Gibbs(128), it would not be her highest win. That was Cepelova at 111. If she can hold serve 2 of the first 3 times, she should win.
4.Day-Another one of the young lefties, she is ranked right behind Gibbs at 129. Has a winnable match against Doi, and a measuring stick match against Muguruza. Losing 6-4, 6-4 might be good, as long as she hasn't blown a 4-1 lead.
5.Dabrowski-The pick to win doubles this week, she easily could be on the down list. Why? Because of poor scheduling. I happen to think that if she concentrated solely on singles, that she could be a Top 50 player. But her ranking is at 304. 8-8 in singles, and has lost her last 3 matches-all in qualies. 2 of the 3 may be because of jet lag. Case in point-Dabrowski won Mixed at the French on 6/8, then lost in Nottingham qualies on 6/10. Lost the Mixed QF at Wimbledon on 7/13, lost in Bucharest qualies on 7/15. So if she does as well as expected here, what happens to the Canadian next week?

Mon Jul 31, 12:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side

1.Bertens/Larsson-The preseason pick to be 7th or 8th, they are sitting 14th and are behind Hlavackova twice. Even though they won their last event, the clock seems to be ticking on this partnership if they dont reach the YEC.
2.Safarova-Not any fault of her own, but her YEC hopes took a massive hit. First person up to replace Mattek-Sands? Strycova.
3.Kr.Pliskova-Mainly because she had a Trevor Bauer moment. Bauer is the MLB pitcher for Cleveland, who before the playoffs last year, cut his hand on a drone, causing 10 stitches. Unfortunately, they opened up during his start, leaving him bleeding on the baseball, and getting pulled after 21 pitches. But he did eventually heal, setting a career high in strikeouts in a game this year with 14. Also note that Pliskova threw away a winnable match. That 3-0 start was her breaking Hibino twice, with a chance to serve and go up 4-0.
4.Lottner-Has nothing to do with her game. The skinny girl has some skill, and is a bet, although the draw might say differently, to get through qualies and win a round or two at the USO. No, she is on here, because as this year's IT Girl-Vondrousova won Prague, Lottner's points for winning last year came off, dropping her a whopping 44 spots this week. Even so, she is still 7 ahead of Lisicki, 11 in front of Schmiedlova and 16 up on Bencic.
5.Davis-Has gone 7-12 since IW, and the only good tourney she had since then was Eastbourne, when lost in qualies and got a reprieve as a LL. If the USO seeded today would be first seed out. Has a tough matchup against Sabalenka.

Mon Jul 31, 12:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Have to kind of chuckle at that exchange. It has a bit of a Garbi/Sam feel to it. Maybe Sascha should get the court visits.

Yeah, I know about Bencic. I see interview clips of her on Tennis Channel or elsewhere now and it seems like years since she was actually on the court and looking like a soon-to-be star. Hopefully, she'll lead the 2018 comeback charge. Well, after Serena.

And Cibulkova has been really scuffling since that wrist thing during Fed Cup week, too.

I get the feeling that noting 2015-16 losses by Ostapenko is going to be a common thing now when commenting on the players that beat her "before," or to show how quickly things change. I did it this week with Jankovic, too. :)

And, remember, Bellis decided against going to Stanford to turn pro, so this tournament will always occupy an odd corner in her career.

There seems to be a new young Bannerette who generates an early round buzz at the Open every year (Oudin, Bellis, etc.), maybe it'll be Liu (or Anisimova) this year.

Thing is, Bertens/Larsson have won quite a bit, just not in the big events. :(


And, of course, in keeping with the standard White House schedule, I'd like to now announce that all the regular commenters here are being immediately replaced by brand new commenters, who'll in short order go on a profanity-laced tirade against the past commenters, and then be replaced themselves by even newer commenters, who'll back bite and feud until the regular commenters return and we can begin the whole cycle all over again. Until the end of days, seemingly.

But, by no means should anyone see this sort of thing as "chaotic." It's just the en vogue blog management style around here.

( Like I said, Simona needs to stay as far away from Pennsylvania Avenue as possible. The temptation to jump into line and fling herself head-first off the roof in lemming-like fashion might be too great an urge to withstand. )

These are the times in which we live.

Mon Jul 31, 03:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this Backspinner and our blogosphere. As for the profanity-laced tirade about about my alleged Meldonium addiction, I have no reaction. I'm not going to get into the mud on that, not even the red mud of Roland Garros. I've seen how the world around the Backspinner works, and it's very healthy.

Mon Jul 31, 04:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

As usual, the failing new/former commenters are leading a witch hunt when it comes to the "Meldonium thing." Very disappointed. Sad. #FakeCommenterNews

Mon Jul 31, 10:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...


Mon Jul 31, 11:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Youngsters doing well this week.

Guess with Caroline winning today, this should be mentioned. In 2013, Jennifer Brady was a college teammate of Courtney Dolehide at UCLA. Both coached by Stella Sampras Webster. Yes, the sister of Pete.

Tue Aug 01, 05:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, nice. :)

(And a good win the other day from Andreescu over Giorgi, too. Future Canadian #1.)

Tue Aug 01, 10:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, what with the notoriously humid North American summer hard court season upon us (though it's not too bad *this* week), I wonder whose bright idea it was at adidas to send out all the black outfits for the players to wear? Whether they're slighty "meshy" or not.

Thu Aug 03, 03:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, I guess I spoke too soon about the heat not being as bad this week -- really it hasn't been compared to past summers -- as it was apparently 146-degrees (!!!) on court for Halep today. Making the idea of black outfits for day matches all the *more* ridiculous.

Thu Aug 03, 05:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Day/Dolehide are two wins away from a title. Notable, because even though they won the ITF event at Rancho Santa Fe, it is actually the first WTA doubles event for both.

And if you want a hint of what the quiz will be about on Monday-Think Courtney and Caroline Dolehide.

Sat Aug 05, 11:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

A litle curiosity with Caroline - she's never won a match in Toronto - may this time be the first. She won Rogers Cup in 2010 but that was when the tournamant was played in Montreal Little funny isn't it - ok not.

Sun Aug 06, 09:50:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm. So, sister-related, but how closely Dolehide-specific? We shall see. ;)

That is a bit odd. And, looking back, most of her Toronto losses were when she was ranked high enough to have a 1st Round bye. Sort of like this week... gulp. :|

Sun Aug 06, 10:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

If 5 was last week's number,then this week is 3. All 4 finalists have 2 career titles, with either Stanford winner getting their first Hardcourt title.

Sun Aug 06, 12:49:00 PM EDT  

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