Sunday, August 06, 2017

Wk.31- The U.S. and Russia... naturally

The North American hard court season is a week old. And we've already learned a few things, or at least have some talking points for what remains of the summer.

In good time, despite missing out on multiple opportunities in '17, Simona Halep may indeed ultimately rise to #1, but it'd be nice if she didn't back into it largely because of Karolina Pliskova's inability to fully replenish the points cache she picked up *last* summer while winning Cincinnati and reaching the U.S. Open final. Yeah... it'd be nice. Unfortunately, it may not be likely.
So, apparently other players *do* see a certain Bully Pastry for what she appears to be. Well, at least one does.
Garbi looked like she might have finally found the recipe for post-slam success in Stanford. And then Madison Keys came along.
Ditto for CoCo Vandeweghe.

But, still, Stanford may very well have given us a preview of much -- if not all -- of the roster that Captain Kathy Rinaldi might ultimately bring to the Fed Cup final this fall. Venus or no Venus, no one would sneeze at a lineup of Keys, Vandeweghe, CiCi Bellis and (in the Bethanie role) maybe veteran Abigail Spears. Or... three-quarters of the Stanford singles semifinals and both doubles champions.

Proving that America *is* great, it just depends on where you're looking -- while Bannerettes dominated in Cali, they went 0-4 in the 1st Round of singles in Washington last week.
Maria Sharapova *is* back, but only "sort of." Another injury exit in Stanford makes one wonder if the Russian's 2017 return is going to be a continuing frustration, what with her ailments (forearm, leg/thigh strains) surely looking like the sort of things that hound a player returning from a long period of inactivity and a lack of match play that practice sessions simply can't duplicate. We may not see Sharapova as a true factor in any event until after she's had a proper offseason and gradual introduction to tournament play in 2018.

Meanwhile, your *other* 2017 slam champions were spinning their own tales *off* the court this week.

For Serena, everything had a glorious 1950's feel...

For Latvian Thunder, well, it was simply wonderful...

Samba ?????? @max.kravchenko #me#dancing#lesson#samba#greattime#professionaldancer#ballroomdancing#riga#latvia#2017

A post shared by Jelena Ostapenko (@jelena.ostapenko1997) on


Jelena finally sambas back onto the court this week in Toronto. We'll have to wait a while longer for Serena.

As for the rest...

S: Madison Keys/USA def. CoCo Vandeweghe/USA 7-6(4)/6-4
D: Abigail Spears/CoCo Vandeweghe (USA/USA) d. Alize Cornet/Alicja Rosolska (FRA/POL) 6-2/6-3
S: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. Julia Goerges/GER 3-6/7-6(2)/6-0
D: Shuka Aoyama/Renata Voracova (JPN/CZE) d. Genie Bouchard/Sloane Stephens (CAN/USA) 6-3/6-2
World Team Tennis (Carlsbad, CAL)
F: Orange County Breakers def. San Diego Aviators 22-18

...2017 hasn't gone anywhere near the way Keys was expecting it to last winter. Wrist surgery delayed the kickoff of her season, then she returned too early and ended up having to have another surgery. Finally, just two events back, and after posting just a 5-7 record this season in limited action, Keys got *everything* right in Stanford.

Dropping just one set all week -- her opening set, vs. qualifier Caroline Dolehide in the 2nd Round -- Keys reached her first SF since last summer's Olympics, and her first final since Montreal nearly a full year ago. Wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza (overpowered by the Bannerette) set up an all-Bannerette final against CoCo Vandeweghe. In a display of great serving prowess from both women, they played an entire 1st set and nine games into the 2nd before there was a break of serve. Keys had claimed the lead in the match by taking an early lead in the 1st set TB and winning it 7-4, then took advantage of a rare BP opportunity to break Vandeweghe to lead 5-4 in the 2nd. She served out the match to claim her third career title, and first on hard court. Returning to the Top 20 (#17) with this win, Keys once again places a level of expectation on her shoulders, just as she did when she reached the AO semis in 2015. This time, though, she's got some legit company to make things competitive (in a friendly way, which could serve to help lift *all* boats), as the likes of Vandeweghe, CiCi Bellis, a returning Sloane Stephens and others head a growing list of U.S. contenders who will arrive en masse at Flushing Meadows in a few weeks, trying to stake a claim to their own little parcel of land while Serena Williams is away. At least one will likely thrive in the Open spotlight, which hasn't shined for long in NYC on a Bannerette named something other than Williams since 2009, when "temporary comet" Melanie Oudin was the last U.S. woman to reach the QF other than either Serena or Venus. Before that, it was Lindsay Davenport in 2006, in her final second week slam run of a Hall of Fame career. The odds may finally be good that another -- or two -- could make their way into the final eight very soon... maybe even before the close of this summer.

RISERS: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA and Julia Goerges/GER
...the construction of the perfect CoCo machine continues. With Pat Cash aboard, as well as a "mental coach" (though the "prove it" task remains part of the equation), Vandeweghe is still searching for the balance that will allow her to produce on a regular basis the sort of tennis she's displayed while reaching the AO semifinals and leading the U.S. squad to the Fed Cup final in '17. Thus far in her "breakout season," her "regular tour" results -- no SF+ in eight non-slam events -- have been wanting all season. Until this week. While she didn't claim her first career hard court title, in her second Stanford final (w/ 2012, when her potential was still a cross-your-fingers proposition, as she'd reached the final as a lucky loser), Vandeweghe pointed what remains of her summer in the right direction. Wins over Ajla Tomljanvoic, Nicole Gibbs, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and CiCi Bellis put her into her first singles final since Rosmalen last summer, and just her second ever on hard court. She did so while losing just thirteen games in the four matches, and only dropping serve on one occasion (vs. Bellis in the SF). She kept up the pattern through nearly the entire final against Madison Keys as the Bannerettes combined for twenty straight holds, with Keys winning a 1st set TB, until Vandeweghe finally blinked to fall behind 5-4 in the 2nd. Keys, serving even better than CoCo, ended the match a game later. Like Keys, Vandeweghe will climb four spots to edge back into the Top 20 (at #20) on Monday.

After losing the singles final, Vandeweghe returned to the court to claim the doubles title with Abigail Spears, defeating Cornet/Rosolska in straight sets to win her second career tour WD title (CoCo won Indian Wells with Bethanie Mattek-Sands last year). The last sweep of the Stanford S/D titles was in 1999, when Lindsay Davenport took home both honors.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Goerges continued her quest to lift her first WTA singles championship trophy since 2011. The German has been giving herself quite a few opportunities this summer, as her D.C. final run was third in her last five events. Wins over Franckie Abanda, Alison Van Uytvanck and Monica Niculescu set up a semifinal clash with countrywoman Andrea Petkovic. Played in the evening hours, it turned out to be detriment to her chances in the final, as it lasted 2:30, until around midnight. She won, overcoming a near 5-2 deficit in the 3rd set (Petko led 4-2 and had a GP on her racket at the net), to reach her ninth career tour-level singles final. Serving up 6-3/6-5 in the final against Ekaterina Makarova, her long wait seemed about to end. But she couldn't close out the Russian, and a mix of disappointment, a consistent Makarova and, probably, the aftereffects of the long three-setter the night before, served to produce a 3rd set bagel that does a disservice to the fine string of performances she'd posted throughout the week. Even with her sixth straight loss in a final since 2012, though, Goerges is inching close to U.S. Open seed territory, and will come in at #35 on Monday.

SURPRISE: Caroline Dolehide/USA
...the members of Generation PDQ have become a weekly factor more and more on tour as the 2017 season has progressed, and 18-year old Bannerette Dolehide added her name to the lengthening membership list in Stanford. After making her way through qualifying with wins over Gaby Dabrowski and Lizette Cabrera, the big-hitting teenager took down Naomi Osaka 6-4/6-2 in her WTA MD debut, then pushed eventual champion Madison Keys to three sets in the 2nd Round. In her doubles debut, one week after another pair of teens (Jiang Tang) won the title in Nanching in *their* WTA debut, Dolehide and 17-year old Kayla Day reached the semifinals. At this point, Dolehide has committed to play college tennis at UCLA, where her sister Courtney was the team captain of the Bruins' 2014 national championship team.

VETERANS: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS and Andrea Petkovic/GER
...a former slam semifinalist and Top 10 singles player, Makarova has seen her standing slip in recent seasons as she's had to deal with injuries that have precipitated her season-ending ranking falling from #12 in 2014, to #23 and #30 the last two years. She stood at #58 (she last finished a season that low in 2009) heading into this week's action in Washington. The 29-year old Russian has had great doubles success with fellow Hordette Elena Vesnina -- winning Olympic Gold and, most recently, Wimbledon to move within an Australian Open WD title from the duo having claimed Gold, all four slams and the WTA Finals in their career -- but she hadn't played in a singles final since Pattaya '14 before her D.C. run. In fact, her last *semifinal* was in 2015... in Washington. Wins over Jamie Loeb, Monica Puig, Simona Halep (with an assist from the heat) and Oceane Dodin changed all that.

In the final, already down a set, Makarova squandered a 4-1 2nd set lead and saw Julia Goerges serve for the match at 6-5. But she wasn't able to close, and the Russian swept the final eight games of the match, taking a 7-2 TB and then bageling the German in the 3rd set to pick up her third career singles title. She'll climb to #42 on Monday.

Petkovic, 29, used her trip to Washington to maintain the feeling-out process that has turned out to become her '17 season, as while the German hasn't exactly put up spectacular results this year she *has* managed to begin to get her proverbial "ducks in a row" to a point where renewed success is finally possible again. And she had some in D.C., too, as her "in between album" had its first minor, charting hit. Petko opened up with a win over Kurumi Nara, then served up a 3rd set bagel to Genie Bouchard and outlasted Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu in another three-setter, resurrecting some of her old post-match dance moves along the way. In her first tour-level semifinal since Doha early last season, Petko twice had a break lead on countrywoman Julia Goerges in the 3rd set, and had a point for a 5-2 lead on her racket at the net. But she missed that shot, and saw Goerges surge to a 7-5 final set win. Nonetheless, Petkovic will return to the Top 100 this week after having come into Washington having dropped nearly fifty spots (#102) in the rankings after ending last season at #56. Her three wins will lift her overall '17 record over .500 (21-20) despite before this week having recorded just one MD tour-level win since Charleston and being forced to go through qualifying on more than one occasion just to get a chance to put up a good result. At the end of it all, she's had an encouraging summer, one which saw her enter a pair of $100K grass challengers (w/ SF & QF results), and push Dominika Cibulkova to a 9-7 3rd set in the 1st Round at SW19 prior to her affirming run this week.

COMEBACKS: Sabine Lisicki/GER and Sloane Stephens/USA was an encouraging week in Washington for Lisicki. After delaying the start of her '17 season until mid-summer because of a shoulder injury, the German reached her second QF of the season in just her third tournament back on tour. In her first non-grass event of the year, she notched wins over Valentini Grammatikopoulou (two TB) and Aryna Sabalenka (in three sets, after the Belarusian had knocked off '16 semifinalist Lauren Davis in the 1st Round) before falling in a 3rd set TB to Oceane Dodin. The result will bump up her ranking from #192 to #159 as she looks to rebound from a poor (sub-.500) '16 season (which included an horrendous summer HC campaign, with a 2nd Round loss in D.C., a 1st Round at Flushing Meadows and two failed qualifying attempts). She fell outside the Top 100 last summer before ultimately managing to finish at #92, sixty spots lower than her '15 finish. It was her worst season standing since 2010 and only her second finish outside the Top 54 since 2007.

Meanwhile, Stephens was in Washington playing in just her second event back following foot surgery, after her 1st Round Wimbledon loss in her first action since last summer's Rio Olympics. The world #957 (!!) is still seeking her first win in a year, but she pushed Simona Halep to three sets in the 1st Round this week, then stayed around until the weekend as she reached the doubles final (her first doubles final since her junior days -- she won three girls slam crowns in '10 w/ Timea Babos). It was her first final of any kind on tour since she claimed the Charleston singles title last year. Remember, that was already Stephens' third singles title of the '16 season (and it was only April). She and Genie Bouchard won a pair of 3rd set TB -- vs. #3 Duque/Irigoyen in the 1st Round, then #1 Mirza/Niculescu in the SF -- to reach the final, where they lost in straight sets to #2 Aoyama/Voracova.

FRESH FACES: CiCi Bellis/USA and Oceane Dodin/FRA
...last year, the 18-year old decided against pursuing a college career at Stanford. But, thanks to the North American summer hard court schedule, Bellis can still have a Californian tennis experience in the shadow of the university on an annual basis. Last summer, Bellis received a wild card into the WTA's Stanford event and, after defeating the likes of Jelena Ostapenko (yes, the seemingly weekly example of a player's abilities being complimented via the mention of a past win over the Latvian continues), reached her first tour-level quarterfinal. A year later, ranked at #44, she earned a spot in the main draw based on her own success over the past year (including a 14-match win streak to end last season, during which she claimed two $50K titles and a WTA 125 Series crown, and her first career tour-level semifinal earlier this summer in Mallorca). Three years after a then 15-year old Bellis created great buzz with a 1st Round upset of Dominika Cibulkova as the U.S. Open (becoming the youngest player to record an Open match win in eighteen years), she became the first teenager to reach the Stanford semifinals since 2006 (Tatiana Golovin & Nicole Vaidisova), putting up victories over Alize Cornet, Veronica Cepede Royg and, in dominating fashion, #2-seeded Petra Kvitova. She'll jump to a new career-high of #36 on Monday.

In Washington, 20-year old Dodin reached her first semifinal of 2017, her best tour-level result since she won her maiden WTA singles title last September in Quebec City. Last week, after arriving in D.C. riding a four-match losing streak, she spent her week taking down a string of former slam finalist veterans. First, it was Jelena Jankovic, then Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki, the latter coming despite fourteen double-faults in the same match in which the German fired eighteen aces. She took eventual champion Ekaterina Makarova to three sets in the semis. The Pastry will rise from #55 to #46, matching the career-high ranking she achieved two months ago.
DOWN: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...the Bully Pastry's forward-moving '17 campaign has run into a patch of quicksand this summer, as after a fast 17-7 start (w/ a title, a final and SF) to her season, then 15-4 follow-up (two more finals and a RG QF), has cooled off to a 7-5 stretch since Paris. In Washington, #2-seeded Mladenovic took three sets to dispense of Tatjana Maria in the 1st Round, and was treated for a thigh injury in the final set. A round later, she fell 2 & 3 to 17-year old Canadian Bianca Andreescu (#167), serving at just 38% and committing ten double-faults. In the past, a bad week in singles was often offset by Mladenovic's good doubles results, but since her nasty break-up with RG-winning partner Caroline Garcia the results haven't come for her with other partners. Last week, she and Sabine Lisicki fell 6 & 1 in the 1st Round to Cornelia Lister & Lu Jiajing, dropping Mladenovic to 11-9 in WD since the Garcia split. They'd gone 5-2 in the 2017 1Q, opening their schedule with a semifinal run in Melbourne.

Oh, and it should be noted that at least one player has finally seen fit to reflect a little of the darkness back at Mladenovic that the Pastry seems to take so much pride in directing at others...

ITF PLAYERS: Grace Min/USA and Sonya Kenin/USA Lexington, Kentucky, Min claimed the crown at this week's $60K challenger event, defeating Kenin in a 6-4/6-1 final to claim her ninth career circuit title. The 23-year old, who had to win a 3rd set TB in her semifinal vs. Belarus' Vera Lapko, had lost her last four challenger singles final (she was 2-4 in 2016). Still, 18-year old Kenin claimed the USTA's three-$60K-event Wild Card Challenge prize of a WC berth into the U.S. Open women's MD for the second straight year, having already won the Stockton event two weeks ago and reached the semis in Sacramento last week. Kenin, who also got an Open WC in '15 as the U.S. National Championship winner as a junior, wrapped up the Challenge win when Amanda Anisimova lost in the Lexington QF to Emina Bektas.

JUNIOR STARS: Bianca Andreescu/CAN and Wang Xin Yu/CHN
...Andreescu's outlook continues to improve with every passing month this season, as the 17-year old future Canadian #1 leaves Washington after having grabbed her first career tour-level MD win (def. Camila Giorgi, becoming the youngest from Canada to record a WTA win since 1988) and her first Top 20 victory (def. Kristina Mladenovic, becoming the first player born in the 2000's to notch such a win) to reach her maiden WTA singles quarterfinal. In the QF, she took the 1st set from Andrea Petkovic before the veteran rallied to win in three.

Since reaching the U.S. Open girls semis last year (falling in three sets to eventual champ Kayla Day), 2017 has seen Andreescu consistently put up impressive results. She reached the Australian Open junior semis, where she squandered a big lead vs. Rebeka Masarova and missed out on a chance to play for the girls title. But rather than be defined and held back by the loss, she rebounded to claim the AO girls *doubles* crown with Carson Branstine, instead, and then later teamed with her to win at Roland Garros, as well, where she also reached the junior singles QF. Away from the junior circuit, already this season Andreescu has won a pair of $25K titles, gone undefeated (4-0 singles/2-0 doubles) to lead Canada's Fed Cup Americas zone promotion in February, provided a key victory (def. Yaroslava Shvedova) in the nation's 3-2 win over Kazakhstan in April's World Group II Playoffs, and qualified for her first career slam MD at Wimbledon. She'll climb to a new career high of #143 this week, up from #167, as she closes in on Canadian #2 Franckie Abanda (#132), as well as now being able to see #1 Genie Bouchard (#70) just beyond the horizon.

In China, 15-year old girls #20 Wang Xin Yu (the #1 seed) swept the singles and doubles titles at the week's biggest (Grade 1) junior event, defeating another Chinese girl, #2-seeded Wang Xiyu 6-4/7-5 to claim the championship. She didn't lose a set in either competition en route to the two titles. Wang also won a Grade 1 crown (Nonthaburi) in March, defeating the likes of Zeel Desai and Simona Waltert (in the final) en route to sweeping both the singles and doubles there, as well. But some of her more impressive moments in 2017 have ironically come in losses, as she fell in the semis of the pre-AO tournament at Traralgon to Iga Swiatek, 6-7/7-6/7-5, and in the 3rd Round at Roland Garros in a three-setter to eventual girls champ Whitney Osuigwe.

DOUBLES: Shuko Aoyama/Renata Voracova (JPN/CZE) and Abigail Spears/USA
...maybe the Washington women's doubles title trophy should just be named after Shuko Aoyama -- she's certainly spent more time with it than anyone else. The 29-year old picked up her fourth D.C. title (after three straight from 2012-14, and a RU in '16) with a fourth different partner, as Voracova joins Chang Kai-Chen (2012), Vera Dushevina (2013), Gaby Dabrowski (2014) as one of the Japanese vet's co-champions. Risa Ozaki was Aoyama's runner-up doubles mate a year ago. The #2-seeds were forced to 3rd set TB wins in the first two rounds this week, but closed out things in style, losing just eleven total games in the SF/F, and defeating Bouchard/Stephens 3 & 2 to take the title in the final. It's Aoyama's seventh career tour win, and Voracova's tenth. The 33-year old Czech also won a WTA 125 Series WD title in Bol earlier this season.

In Stanford, Spears teamed with CoCo Vandeweghe to win her third doubles title at the event, defending the crown she won last year with Raquel Atawo (the duo also won in '13). Spears/Vandeweghe dropped just one set in the event (QF - a 1st set TB vs. Ahn/Gibbs) and defeated Alize Cornet & Alicja Rosolska 2 & 3 in the final, played after CoCo had lost the singles final to Keys. 2017 has been quite a season for the 36-year old Spears, as the veteran Bannerette won her first slam title (AO MX w/ Juan Sebastian Cabal), saw her longtime partnership with Atawo come to end, then winning a previous season title with Katarina Srebotnik in Doha, as well as reaching another final in Stuttgart. With her Stanford win, Spears now has twenty career tour-level WD titles, and joins Martina Hingis (also 36) as the second-oldest champions on tour this year, behind only 41-year old Prague WD champ Kveta Peschke.


1. Stanford Final - Madison Keys def. CoCo Vandeweghe
In the end, one break proved to be the difference. After twenty consecutive holds of serve (take that, men's tennis crybabies), Keys finally broke through in game #9 of the 2nd set, grabbing the break lead and serving out the match against the increasingly frustrated Vandeweghe to get the first non-grass court singles title of her career.

2. Washington 1st Rd. - Bianca Andreescu def. Camila Giorgi 5-7/6-3/6-4
Washington 2nd Rd. - Bianca Andreescu def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-2/6-3
the 17-year old WC (#167) gets her her first WTA win to become the youngest Canadian to notch a tour win since Maureen Drake in 1988, then becomes the first "2000 baby" to record a Top 20 victory with her upset of Mladenovic. In the latter match, Mladenovic led 2-0 in the 1st set before dropping six straight games to lose the set, then held a break lead early in the 2nd, as well, but then never held another BP opportunity for the remainder of the match. The Pastry served at just 38% on the day, and had ten DF.


3. Washington 2nd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Mariana Duque 3-6/6-4/6-2
Washington QF - Ekaterina Makarova def. Simona Halep 2-6/6-3/1-0 ret.
Halep, often doubling over in the 146-degree on-court temperatures, barely made it through her match against the Colombian, and despite requesting a night match, was forced to go through another afternoon "MTO Watch" the next day. This time, with a headache and feeling ill, she decided to stop before things got worse. You'd think that the tournament's most promoted member of the women's draw might be given a bit of a break, rather than the early week night sessions of the dual ATP/WTA event being dominated by men's matches. But, well, we've been here before, haven't we?

And, really, whose bright idea was it for adidas to outfit so many players in black outfits while playing in the (well known) summer humidity of the U.S. East Coast? Stupid (and I don't really think the look is so awe-inspiring and/or fashion forward that it makes it worth it, either).

4. Washington Final - Ekaterina Makarova def. Julia Goerges
For a while, it looked as if Goerges would *finally* get her first singles title in seven years. But, no. After overcoming a 4-1 2nd set deficit, the German led 5-2 and served for the match at 6-5. But Makarova denied her the win, and never looked back. Of course, as much as the disappointment likely played a part in the 3rd set bagel, Goerges having to play until around midnight on Saturday night likely didn't help when things went the distance on Sunday afternoon, either.

5. Washington SF - Julia Goerges def. Andrea Petkovic
While it wasn't the serving clinic that the Keys/CoCo final on the opposite coast would be a day later, the all-German semi in D.C. was quite an enjoyable affair. In 2:30, the countrywomen battled into the late evening hours for a shot at a great title opportunity, with Goerges ultimately twice coming back from break deficit in the 3rd -- Petko had a seeming put-away shot at the net on her racket for a 5-2 lead -- to get the win.

6. Stanford QF - CiCi Bellis def. Petra Kvitova
It's looking like we were all a bit presumptuous to think that Petra would suddenly become a tour factor again after her return this summer, huh? Oh, well. Of course, the 4Q indoor season might provide an opportunity for a nice finish.

7. Washington 1st Rd. - Oceane Dodin def. Jelena Jankovic
...4-6/6-3/2-0 ret.
And JJ admits that she's unsure whether she'll play again in 2017. If not, then the U.S. Open would be without all three of the giants of the great Serbian tennis generation that produced three #1-ranked players: JJ, AnaIvo and Djokovic. The last slam without any of the trio? The 2003 U.S. Open -- fourteen years and fifty-six majors ago.
8. Stanford 1st Round - Nicole Gibbs def. Claire Liu
It wasn't a return to her NCAA championship days while playing for the Stanford Cardinal, but recovering from a 5-2 3rd set deficit to defeat the rising teenager surely counts for something for Gibbsy.
9. Stanford SF - Madison Keys def. Garbine Muguruza
Wimbledon champ Muguruza surrendered just six games in matches vs. '16 U.S. Open girls champ Kayla Day and '16 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Ana Konjuh, but more than met her match against a super in-form Keys. Still, in her first action since lifting the Venus Rosewater dish, Muguruza did extend her winning streak to nine matches before the loss. Though her 1-4 '17 record in semifinals *does* look a bit of an odd fit for a player ranked #4 in the world.

10. Washington 2nd Rd. - Andrea Petkovic def. Genie Bouchard
If Bouchard stumbles this week in Canada -- as she often has during her career -- can we start referring to her as TPFKAGB? (The Player Formerly Known as Genie Bouchard.)

Pretty please, Tennis Gods?
11. Washington SF - Genie Bouchard/Sloane Stephens def. Sania Mirza/Monica Niculescu
...1-6/7-5 [10-8].
Mirza won a title (New Haven) in one summer 2016 outing with Niculescu, but could manage just a single match victory in D.C. in their maiden '17 event. There *has* to be a partner out there that Mirza will *eventually* click with in the post-Hingis era, right?
12. $25K Fort Worth Final - Katerina Stewart def. Emiliana Arango
The 20-year old West Point Prep cadet picks up her ninth career ITF title in her third summer event, making her way through qualifying and handling the 16-year old Colombian playing in *her* second challenger final appearance of the summer.

13. $15K Targu Jiu Final - Samantha Harris/Belinda Woolcock def. Margarita Lazareva/Milana Spremo
The Aussies pick up their third straight ITF doubles crown.
14. $25K El Espinar Final - Paula Badosa def. Ayla Aksu
The 19-year old Spaniard picks up her third career ITF win -- her first since July '15 -- while Turkey's Aksu falls to 0-5 in 2017 challenger finals. Maybe she and Caro should get together for a practice session?

15. WTT Final - Orange County Breakers def. San Diego Aviators
The Breakers -- who were the first squad to sweep the league's regular season awards, including wins for Female MVP Andreja Klepac, and Female Rookie of the Year Yanina Wickmayer -- deny the Aviators their second consecutive title, winning their first World Team Tennis title (and King Cup, as in Billie Jean) since 2004. In the final, Wickmayer defeated Naomi Broady 5-2 in the opening set of play, setting the tone and establishing the lead that O.C. never relinquished.


All right, new #1. You've got next...

#1 @wta ?? Getty Images Photo Credit

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1. Stanford 1st Rd. - CAROLINE DOLEHIDE def. NAOMI OSAKA
As good as the result was for Dolehide, it was just the opposite for Osaka, who suffered her sixth 1st Round loss in her last nine MD appearances in 2017.

2. Toronto Q2 - NAOMI OSAKA def. Barbora Krejcikova
But the 19-year old will get another chance in Ontario, after saving a MP in the 2nd and taking out the Czech to reach the Rogers Cup MD.

Another one for you! Comment if you have ever had a yellow ???? It's so goood!!!

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

5 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (0-5)
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)

*2017 WTA SF*
6 - Johanna Konta, GBR (3-2+L)
6 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-3+W)
5 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (5-0)
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-1)
5 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (4-1)
4 - Simona Halep, ROU (3-1)
4 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (2-2)
4 - Lucie Safarova, CZE (1-3)
4 - Caroline Garcia, FRA (0-4)

7 yr/7 wk = Anastasija Sevastova [5/10 Estoril = 6/17 Mallorca]
5 yr = Timea Babos [2/12 Monterrey = 2/17 Budapest]
3 yr/9 mo = Elena Vesnina [6/13 Eastbourne = 3/17 I.W.]
3 yr/6 mo = EKATERINA MAKAROVA [2/14 PATTAYA = 8/17 D.C.]
3 yr/2 mo = Donna Vekic [4/14 K.Lumpur = 6/17 Nottingham]

Australian Open (USA): S.Williams d. V.Williams
Indian Wells (RUS): Vesnina d. Kuznetsova
Strasbourg (AUS): Stosur d. Gavrilova

4 - CZE: Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova
4 - *RUS: Kasatkina,MAKAROVA,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
3 - *USA: Davis,KEYS,S.Williams
2 - AUS: Barty,Stosur
2 - GER: Barthel,Siegemund
2 - LAT: Ostapenko,Sevastova
2 - ROU: Begu,Halep
2 - UKR: Svitolina,Tsurenko

Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty/AUS (WW)
Istanbul - Elise Mertens/BEL(LL)
Birmingham - Ash Barty/AUS (LW)
Mallorca - Anastasija Sevastova/LAT (W,walkover L)
Bucharest - Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (WW)
Gstaad - Kiki Bertens/NED (WW)

41,9m - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague)
36,9m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Wimbledon MX)
36,9m,1w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Eastbourne)
36,9m - Martina Hingis, SUI (Mallorca)
36,7m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Rome)
36,7m,2w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Madrid)
36,5m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Indian Wells)

2013 Shelby Rogers
2014 Nicole Gibbs
2015 Samantha Crawford
2016 Sonya Kenin
2017 Sonya Kenin

[King Cup]
1974 Denver Raquets
1975 Pittsburgh Triangles
1976 New York Sets
1977 New York Apples
1978 Los Angeles Strings
1981 Los Angeles Strings
1982 Dallas Stars
1983 Chicago Fyre
1984 San Diego Buds
1985 San Diego Buds
1986 San Antonio Raquets
1987 Charlotte Heat
1988 Charlotte Heat
1989 San Antonio Raquets
1990 Los Angeles Strings
1991 Atlanta Thunder
1992 Atlanta Thunder
1993 Wichita Advantage
1994 New Jersey Stars
1995 New Jersey Stars
1996 St.Louis Aces
1997 Sacramento Capitals
1998 Sacramento Capitals
1999 Sacramento Capitals
2000 Sacramento Capitals
2001 Philadelphia Freedoms
2002 Sacramento Capitals
2003 Delaware Smash
2004 Newport Beach Breakers
2005 New York Sportimes
2006 Philadelphia Freedoms
2007 Sacramento Capitals
2008 Kansas City Explorers
2009 Washington Kastles
2010 Kansas City Explorers
2011 Washington Kastles (undefeated)
2012 Washington Kastles (undefeated)
2013 Washington Kastles
2014 Washington Kastles
2015 Washington Kastles
2016 San Diego Aviators
2017 Orange County Breakers

Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina, RUS
Miami - Johanna Konta, GBR
Madrid - Simona Halep, ROU
Rome - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Toronto - TBD
Cincinnati - TBD
Wuhan - TBD
Beijing - TBD
Dubai - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Indian Wells - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Miami - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
Madrid - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Rome - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI

[14s - ITF World Juniors]
2007 United States d. France
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 United States d. Czech Republic
2010 United States d. Ukraine
2011 Serbia d. United States
2012 Slovakia d. Great Britain
2013 United States d. Russia
2014 Russia d. Ukraine
2015 Russia d. United States
2016 Ukraine d. United States
2017 (Aug.7-12)
[16s - Junior Fed Cup]
2007 Australia d. Poland
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 Russia d. Germany
2010 Russia d. China
2011 Australia d. Canada
2012 United States d. Russia
2013 Russia d. Australia
2014 United States d. Slovakia
2015 Czech Republic d. United States
2016 Poland d. United States
2017 (Sept.19-24)

Hmmm, would this count as a "doubles duo?"

16 Singles Final: Halep d. Keys
16 Doubles Final: Makarova/Vesnina d. Halep/Niculescu
17 Top Seeds: Ka.Pliskova/Halep

Vandeweghe d. #1 Ka.Pliskova
#7 Konta d. #3 Kerber
#9 V.Williams d. #4 Muguruza
Ostapenko d. #2 Halep
#3 Konta d. Vandeweghe
#9 V.Williams d. Ostapenko
#3 Konta d. #9 V.Williams

...Stanford was the first tournament since 2004 (Philadelphia) where the top eight seeds all reached the quarterfinals. What are the odds of it happening again in Toronto?

Of course, Keys is currently situated in the bottom section, set to possibly face #2 Halep (DC) in the 2nd Round (after a 1st Round match-up w/ Lucic-Baroni). You have to wonder if she'll play this event, or at least if she'll be fully engaged in it. Same with CoCo. If they are, though... bring on the Open as quickly as possible for both of them.

#1 Makarova/Vesnina d. #5 Babos/Hlavackova
#2 Y.Chan/Hingis d. #3 Safarova/Strycova
#1 Makarova/Vesnina d. #2 Y.Chan/Hingis

...Peng Shuai takes her turn in the Mirza rumble seat this week, as well as some other rarely-seen doubles duos, including Konta/Svitolina (!!), Safarova/Strycova (no FC this fall, so...), Bouchard/Ka.Pliskova, Dabrowski/Ostapenko, and two-time 2017 GD slam winners Andreescu/Branstine.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Speaking as a "mental coach," I can say with some confidence that the "I don't 'believe in' this," "prove me wrong" attitude is a formula for failure, i.e., self-fulfilling phrophecy. She's really being an ass here. Who was the other player like that? (thinking....)--ah, yes, it was Radwanska, who held in contempt her peers who hired sports psychologists. Hmm....

Sun Aug 06, 11:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, I tend to agree to some degree, since she continues to want to place qualifiers such as "I don't really believe in it," but at least she didn't dismiss it out of hand and not even give it a try. Maybe some success will allow her to go with the usual, "Who gives a (bleep) what anyone thinks?" CoCo attitude and embrace it without reservation.

Of course, that might be wishful thinking.

Mon Aug 07, 12:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm glad she isn't my client :)

Mon Aug 07, 12:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

One of the best weeks of the year as there were stories everywhere.

Spoken in the little girl's voices from the Freddy Kruger movies- "1,2,Muguruza's coming for you."

Sharapova is kind of like an MLB player coming off of suspension. Most of the time, the body breaks down and the numbers fall off the cliff. Still has been 14 years since she played qualies.

Russia doesn't have doubles specialists. Since Makarova won, I might as well mention this. What do Makarova, Vesnina, Kournikova, Safina, Kuznetsova and Zvonareva have in common? All have won doubles slams, and all have been SF or better in singles slams.

Love the Minella and Serena Pics.

Stat of the Week-77- The amount of WTA main draws played by Mariana Duque-Marino so far in her career.

The pick to be this year's version of Laura Siegemund, and break out long after she should have. The woman with the Frankenstein game, seriously, she slides on hardcourt like Clijsters, has a backhand like Suarez Navarro, and a fun forehand which is effective when falling backwards. The drawback? I don't see a similarity, but statistically, she is Errani-like in regards to her serve. Has 2 aces on the season, same as Errani, but 52 double faults!

Duque-Marino has slam wins vs Rybarikova, Gavrilova, Dodin, Goerges, Kr. Pliskova, Chakvetazde and Tanasugarn. So why has it taken so long? Well, that number 77? She has done that in a career dating back to 2004. For comparison, when Nadia Petrova was at her peak(2004-06) she played 74 events.

She has a title, Bogota 2010, so long ago that she beat not only a slamless, but title-less Kerber in the final. But it had to be Bogota. She has been in the main draw 11 times, plus 13 slams. So a third of her md appearances have been in 5 events.

Like Vinci, she is a clay courter that projects to be better on hard as she gets older. Expect a breakout soon, if not the US Open, later on this year.

In a perfect world, she would break out this week, as she turns 28 on Saturday.

Quiz Time!
1.Colombians have won Bogota 5 times in it's 20 year history. Have any of the winners ever won another title?

2.Kayla Day and Caroline Dolehide reached the SF in their first WTA event. It seems likely that Dolehide will get a wc into the US Open doubles, doing something that her older sister Courtney did in 2009/w Ahn, possibly making them the 4th set of US sisters since 2004 to get a wc into doubles. Name 2 of the other 3?

Another premier, so another post coming up.

1.Well, although the title has been won 5 times, it only involves two people. Duque-Marino has not won another title, although she has 17 ITF ones. However Fabiola Zuluaga did win one other title besides the 4 there. And not surprisingly, was in South America-Brazil.

2.Let's start with the answer that is incorrect. The Uberoi sisters would have been a good guess, but there is a catch. Neha got the WC in 04, 05 and 06, and even got to play with her sister Shikha in 2004, but whole Neha represented the US, Shikha represented India.

So the first part involves the Williams sisters, who got the wc in 2012, and got bounced in the 3rd rd by Kirilenko/Petrova, in a year that Errani/Vinci won.

Part two are the Gullicksons, Carly and Chelsey, who lost in the 2nd rd after beating Errani/Vinci. They Gullicksons show the gamut of both US Open agony and estacy. The agony was Chelsey's only WTA level match, where she got walloped by Wonziacki. On the other hand, Carly won mixed with Travis Parrott in 2009.

The final answer is the one most similar to the Dolehide sisters, as they both made it together and apart. The Burdettes. In 2006, 18 yr Lindsay and 15 yr Mallory made it as a team. Lindsay(2010) and Mallory(2011,13) had to go separately, both managing to team up with Hilary Barte(10 &11).

Mon Aug 07, 12:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side

1.Wozniacki-Retiring Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson would say that she is this week's "Pick to Click". As we saw on Saturday, weather will affect this tourney. And the Montreal/Toronto, Connecticut, USO stretch that she is best at is known for this. Along with Vesnina, she is the best at handling delays. And since Goerges reached another final, losing her 6th in a row, maybe Wozniacki reaches her 6th.
2.Bouchard-Has another possible matchup against Kerber( Bouchard leads 4-2). Plus I have to pick both a Canadian, but now that Pliskova is #1, a twin. Genie is one, and like her sister, is named after the Dutchess of York-Eugenie and Beatrice. And where is this tournament held? York University.
3.Dellacqua/Barty-The pick to win, possibly because I expect Makarova to run out of gas. On track to be the first all Aussie team at the YEC since Stosur/Stubbs in 2009. But haven't they had good seasons before? Yes, they actually finished 5th in the race in 2013, but back then, only 4 teams went to the YEC.
4.Andreescu-Mainly because she avoided the rain, and qualies. Two different things going on here. One was that she was originally in the qualy draw, and got moved up when Sharapova pulled out. This helped her avoid the sticky situation of having to play the DC QF worried about staying in the draw. Ironically, her opponent in Petkovic was also originally in the qualy draw. The other bit is that 8 of 9 Canadians lost in the 1st rd of qualies. And only Zhao, the replacement for Andreescu, won. So no LL spots.
5.Duque-Marino-She made it through qualies, so starting off the birthday week right.

Mon Aug 07, 12:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side

1.Mladenovic-I was planning to put her here before she lost, honest. Why? Because she was favoring her shoulder last week and it looked bad. Reminded me of Azarenka circa 2010, when instead of taking time off, would come in injured every week, and play subpar tennis. The only way I pick her for the Open is if she skips Cinci.
2.Babos-WTA.COM has pointed out that she is on a 9 match losing streak. Which sounds horrid, then realize that she ended 16/started 17 with an 8 match streak, which she famously ended by winning Budapest. With her Florianopolis pts off, and a 19-28 record in the last year, which is even worse than Jelena "I may be shutting it down for the year, and the USO is in doubt" Jankovic, things don't look good-in singles.
3.Svitolina-Not really a down, but an unknown. Has only played Rogers twice, getting bounced by Kerber last year, and "upset" by lower ranked Azarenka the year before.
4.Team Pliskova-They are here because before Kristyna banged up her thumb, they were in the doubles draw. Don't know if it was a one off, or if Kristyna/Golubic are done(8 of 9 events). With the Williams era over in doubles, this is the team people are curious about.
5.Lucic-Baroni-Starting with the SF loss to Ostapenko at Charleston, she is 2-7. Has not played since that disaster at Wimbledon vs Witthoeft, where she lost a 5-0 lead. And (I am getting to revise this by the minute) she gets not Keys, but Rybarikova, which is a worse matchup as she doesn't play lefties well.

Mon Aug 07, 12:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

You're right about the Russians. Trying to think, maybe the "closest" might be someone like Kudryavtseva, though even she was as high in singles as #56 (though it was seven years ago -- in 2010, when she made her only two singles finals -- when she was 22 at the time... but she hasn't finished higher than #98 in any season since).

1. I had to go back and look at an old list of Colombian players to get any idea of who might have won Bogota in the past, and the two that seemed most likely were probably Castano and Zuluaga. I'm going to say at least one won a clay title somewhere else.

2. I'm going to pick some (possibly) long-hanging fruit and say Venus/Serena as one. Hmmm... maybe the Gullickson and Uberoi sisters? (I almost said the Rolles.)

1. Bam! ;)
2. Well, since you said two of three, even with a (sort of) miss, I *did* get two. :)

(And, of course, any mention of long ago Backspin fave Carly "The Natural" Gullickson, as her father was a MLB pitcher, is a good one.)

Hmmm, I think, unbeknownst to you, you might have been subconsciously leaked some information by the Tennis Gods since you had so many mentions of Errani (whose name hasn't come up much at all in '17) on this day, of all days. :(

Mon Aug 07, 07:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

"LOW-hanging," I meant, of course. ;)

Mon Aug 07, 08:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

What can I say, the Errani thing was pure luck.

The most interesting thing I found out was that Shikha Uberoi has a Ted Talk. And she does talk about her former career.

Mon Aug 07, 09:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Neha has a good wellness blog but she has stopped posting. I hope she picks it up again.

Tue Aug 08, 12:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

*Need to clarify an error I made-I meant to say Rybarikova has the style of a lefty, as she is a righty.*

Only took me a day to realize I did that.

Tue Aug 08, 12:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Sometimes that's how it goes. ;)

"Wait, did I say...?" (And then you check and, yep, you did.) :|

Tue Aug 08, 12:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Tentatively-scheduled Carl Talk for the offseason:

Sara Errani: "Leave the Gun, Take the Tortellini"

(Sorry, it was just too tempting to pass that one up.)

Tue Aug 08, 03:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Since Svitolina just won, it should be mentioned that the top 4 in the rankings now were also the final four at Cincinnati last year. Because of that, it is very possible that your top 4 USO seeds will be Pliskova, Wozniacki, Halep, Svitolina.

On the other end, #32 Suarez Navarro has QF points coming off, and is likely to be unseeded.

Tue Aug 08, 07:26:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Both Venus and Caroline hadn't won a match in the main draw in Toronto until this time. 6th time lucky after 5 defeats in her first match in the main draw (2007 Caroline was through the quallies). Oh no not the 5 number again - wonder where I've seen that before. Well sixth time lucky with style. ;)

Wed Aug 09, 09:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Only the truly hip tune in to Carl Talks.

Wed Aug 09, 12:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

First time for everything. The Kichenok Twins haven't played apart that much on the WTA level, but this is the first time they have each won two matches in the main draw with different partners.

Thu Aug 10, 01:39:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

And with the Svitolina-Wozniacki final set, it seems that 6 women will have a chance to be #1 after Cinci. Kerber is the 6th, as it seems that she will just barely be inside the 900 pt window.

Sat Aug 12, 07:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And the sad thing is that the defending US Open champion, even without the numbers making it more difficult, would seem to be the least likely to put up the results in what is left of the summer to take the #1 position. Well, unless you count the (so far disqualifying) "Simona Factor," I guess. ;(

(Of course, she might end up spending time at #1 anyway.)

By the way: Not the answer you want to hear after a match like today's.

Maybe it was the lingering effects of last week's heat exhaustion, then two matches on Saturday again. But maybe not, too. Hard to tell, unfortunately, considering her history.

Sat Aug 12, 09:03:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

"There'll be Elina and Alona
At the Cliffs of Simona" 🎵🎶

Sat Aug 12, 09:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I told her to stay away from the White House... but she wouldn't listen and went anyway.

Sun Aug 13, 03:33:00 AM EDT  

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