Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wk.34- The Eternal Sunshine of New Haven

Come now. No one can *really* be surprised that an event that included a solar eclipse would eventually end with the eternal sunshine of a Gavrilovian title run, and Dasha Gavrilova with a championship trophy on her head. Right?

Ah, the Tennis Gods have a wicked sense of humor.

I mean, you've seen who Simona Halep faces in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open?

Case in point.

S: Dasha Gavrilova/AUS def. Dominika Cibulkova/SVK 4-6/6-3/6-4
D: Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan (CAN/CHN) def. Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) 3-6/6-3 [10-8]

...Gavrilova dropped the 1st set of the New Haven final against Dominika Cibulkova. But, as she's told us before, she's good from behind.

For the Aussie, her third career singles final (all since last October) was finally the charm, as her three-set win over the Slovak closed out a week that saw her post earlier victories over Kristyna Pliskova, Timea Babos, Kirsten Flipkens and Aga Radwanska during which she'd dropped just one set (vs. the Czech). The win over Radwanska, who was the #1 seed and defending champ, makes her just the second player (Muguruza last week in Cincinnati) this season to do that AND go on to win the title, and she's also just the second player (Mladenovic-3) with multiple wins over defending event champions this season, adding her win over Aga to one in Strasbourg against DC Caroline Garcia. She'll jump six places in the rankings and into the Top 20 for the first time in her career.

And, of course, now BOTH Dashas have been crowned maiden singles champions in 2017. As it should be.

Dasha + Dasha = Shelby?

Dasha+Dasha=Shelby?? @daria_gav @shelbsrogers #????

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina (@kasatkina) on

Your move, Rogers.

RISER: Ana Bogdan/ROU
...the 24-year old Romanian made her way through New Haven qualifying, garnering wins over Gaby Dabrowski, Johanna Larsson (winning a 2nd set TB after dropping the 1st) and Kateryna Bondarenko, then took out Elena Vesnina 7-5/7-5 in the 1st Round. She fell to Kirsten Flipkens in the 2nd, but will take the experience, learn from it, and continue to move forward. She'll climb to #108, four off her career high, and with a great chance to break into the Top 100 as things head to the fall.

SURPRISE: Magdalena Frech/POL
...19-year old Frech, at #241, is the fourth-highest ranked Polish woman, but has been arguably making more strides in 2017 than any of her countrywomen on the pro circuit. She'll play for her second consecutive ITF crown (and third in three career finals) on Sunday in the $25K in Braunschweig, Germany against Spaniard Olga Saez Larra. She's riding a nine-match winning streak, and is 11-1 in her last twelve. After raising her ranking from #459 to #320 last year, she came into the week at #241, and she'll rise to a new career high of at least #215 no matter what happens in the final. If she wins, she'll either be in (or close to it) the Top 200 for the first time.

LATE NOTE: Frech won 6-1/2-6/7-6(3)
VETERANS: Dominika Cibulkova/SVK and Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
...Cibulkova ultimately lost out in three sets to Dasha Gavrilova in a spirited final, but the Slovak's New Haven run is still her best outing since her Cinderella WTA Finals title to end 2016 (after going 1-2 in round robin play, she closed things out with a win over then-#1 Angelique Kerber). Cibulkova lost the 1st set to Alize Cornet, and was behind in the 2nd, in her opening match of the week, but she then ran off six straight sets to reach her first final of 2017. After claiming the 1st set vs. Gavrilova, Cibulkova was up a break late in the 3rd before the Aussie finally broke to get back on serve late and rode an emotional wave to the finish to run off with her first WTA singles title. Cibulkova will knock Aga Radwanska out of the Top 10 with this result, flipping #10 and #11 spots, though she'll still be seeded below the Polish vet at Flushing Meadows.

Also in New Haven, Flipkens wasn't the Belgian who put up the best result (Mertens-SF), but the 31-year old had a QF run that was her first since a final eight result in Acapulco in March. After getting three wins (def. Krejcikova, Maria and Rybarikova) to qualify, she added two more in the MD over Lesia Tsurenko and Ana Bogdan for her first multiple-win MD effort since Miami in the early spring. She lost in straights to eventual champ Dasha Gavrilova in her QF match. At #76 heading into the week (#73 heading out), Flipkens still has a shot to improve her season-ending standing of #63 from a campaign a year ago that included her huge upset of Venus Williams (and then Lucie Safarova) at the Rio Olympics (though, of course, she didn't get any ranking points for that 3rd Round result, not that that bothered her much). 9-3 on summer hard courts, the Waffle will next try to improve upon her '16 U.S. Open result. It wouldn't take a great deal, as she fell love & two to Simona Halep in the 1st Round last year in New York. She'll face Madison Brengle this time around.

COMEBACK: Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU
...the 28-year old Swarmette is still working her way back from her most recent injury, which led to knee surgery last year that kept her out from June until mid-January of 2017. She came into the $25K Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary challenger ranked #222, a far cry off her high of #26 back in 2011. But, as long as she can stay healthy, her path back to the WTA tour in 2018 looks on schedule. Aside from her QF result (as a qualfier) in the WTA event in her native Bucharest last month, she hasn't played in another MD at a tour-level event since her surgery (the next most recent was in May '16). Dulgheru's (mostly ITF) '17 campaign has moved along fairly well, though, as she's already won one $25K title and will play for another in the final on Sunday vs. Ukraine's Ganna Poznikhirenko. Heading into the final, she's 41-14 in all matches this season, including her current 22-4 stretch.

LATE NOTE: Dulgheru won 7-5/6-2
FRESH FACE: Elise Mertens/BEL
...apparently, there's just something about Mertens and the week before a hard court slam. Back in January, the 21-year old Waffle made it through Hobart qualifying and eventually won her first career WTA title, though her run caused her to miss out on attempting to qualify in Melbourne. Last week, heading into Flushing Meadows (where she was already assured of a MD spot after her breakout season), the Belgian again made it through qualifying, defeating the likes of Monica Puig, Aleksandra Krunic and Natalia Vikhlyantseva. In the MD, she continued her forward movement by taking out '17 tour singles champions Kiki Bertens and Daria Kasatkina. A walkover from Zhang Shuai got her into her fourth semifinal of the season. But then, finally, she sort of looked like she wanted to get to NYC a little early, going out in quick order to Dominika Cibulkova. Still, it's her first Premier semi (in singles and doubles), and she'll jump into the Top 40 for the first time (at #39) heading into the Open (she'll face Madison Keys), ahead of players named Makarova, Pliskova (her doubles partner), Siniakova and Barty, and just behind those named Kasatkina, Safarova and Bellis. Not bad, not bad at all. And things should only get better.

DOWN: Petra Kvitova/CZE
...the thought was that friendly surroundings might break Kvitova out of her summer results stagnation, as she arrived in New Haven as a three-time Connecticut Open champ. But she managed jut three games in her 1st Round match vs. Zhang Shuai, meaning she's won multiple matches in just one of her seven '17 events (her Birmingham title run). She went 1-1 in her other appearances this season, though, so this was her first one-and-done result.

But a picture (not the one here, but the grisly one on the other end of the tweet) often really does say a 1000 words (or more, in this case), and now we have visual proof of what Petra has been talking about when she's noted how appreciative she is of just being able to even hold a racket and play at all after surviving a home invasion knife attack last December.

So I think she'll be banned from this category for the rest of the year, no matter what her results from here out ultimately look like.

Picking up my @usopen credential like ??????

A post shared by Petra Kvitova (@petra.kvitova) on

ITF PLAYER: Valeria Savinykh/RUS
...Savinykh claimed the title at the $60K challenger in Artvin, Turkey, defeating Turk Ayla Aksu in a 3-6/7-6(10)/7-6(5) final to pick up her fourth career circuit crown, and second this year. The Hordette knocked off two Top 4 seeds in the event, #4 Aksu and #1 Sofia Shapatava in the 1st Round. After compiling a 2-8 record in her first ten ITF finals dating back to 2008, the 26-year old is 2-1 in 2017. A former Top 100 player in '12, Savinykh reached the Australian Open 3rd Round in 2013 as a qualifier, then notched additional victories over Mandy Minella and Dominika Cibulkova in Melbourne.

JUNIOR STARS: Jamiee Fourlis/AUS and CoCo Gauff/USA
...13-year old Bannerette Gauff made most of the headlines during the week at the Grade 1 International Hardcourt Championships in College Park, Maryland, but 17-year old Aussie Fourlis was the one holding the title once the proverbial dust had settled.

Fresh off leading Team USA to the ITF World Junior 14s title, wild card Gauff, in just her third ITF junior event, advanced all the way to the final while knocking off four consecutive seeded players. But a fifth straight such win wouldn't come vs. #7 Fourlis. To reach the final, Fourlis had to stage a huge comeback in the semifinals, taking out #1-seeded Elena Rybakina 4-7/6-4/7-5 after trailing by a double-break at 3-0 (with a GP for 4-0) in the 3rd before the Russian ultimately double-faulted on the Aussie's MP. She didn't have a letdown in the final, though, winning 6-4/6-4 in what was her first junior level event since last year's Wimbledon. Fourlis effectively began her '17 season last December by reaching the final of both of Tennis Australia's pre-AO wild card tournaments, losing in the junior final (to Destanee Aiava), but winning the bigger version (def. Abbie Myers). She got a 1st Round win over Anna Tatishvili in her slam debut before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova a round later.

DOUBLES: Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
...the duo adds the New Haven crown to the huge title they grabbed in Miami earlier this year. After winning a 3rd set TB (def. Klepac/MJMS) in the 1st Round, the #4 seeds ended their week with another TB win (10-8) over #2-seeded Ash Barty & Casey Dellacqua in the final. It's Dabrowski's fifth career WTA title (along with the Roland Garros Mixed earlier this year), while it's Xu's sixth.


1. New Haven Final - Dasha Gavrilova def. Dominika Cibulkova
While Slovakia didn't become the nineteenth nation to produce a singles champ in 2017, Cibulkova's appearance in the final means players form twenty-four different nations have done that. Gavrilova is the tenth first-time champ of the season, and the second Australian.

2. New Haven 1st Rd. - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni def. Anett Kontaveit
Just in time for the OTHER hard court slam (she reached the semis at the first, remember) Lucic finaly ends her six-match losing streak, which began, oddly enough, with a loss in Rome to Kontaveit.

3. New Haven 1st Rd. - Alize Cornet def. Yulia Putintseva
It's not an easy trick to be able to distract everyone's eyes and ears from what turned out to be a double-bagel loss, but that's precisely what Putintseva did by "pulling the flat earth video" card during a "coaching session." Speaking of flat earth videos, here's one. Enjoy, or not.

4. New Haven 1st Rd. - Timea Babos def. Kristina Mladenovic
After a spring of causing others headaches (for good and bad), Kiki's own summer of discontent continues. Speaking of headaches, she'll face Monica Niculescu in the 1st Round at Flushing Meadows.

5. New Haven 1st Rd. - TPFKAGB def. Lauren Davis
After being just 1-6 in her last seven matches since that Madrid QF run that included wins over Cornet, Sharapova and Kerber, the Canadian got on the board during the eclipse. Apparently, conditions have to be *just right* for her to do such things these days. So, her next win in North America will be in say, 2024, then?

6. New Haven 1st Rd. - Nicole Melichar/Anna Smith def. Monica Niculescu/Sania Mirza
Another hit to Mirza's doubles standing, as she and Niculcescu were defending Connecticut Open champions.
7. $15K Caslano Final - Karen Kennel def. Alberta Brianti
ALL the Italian vets aren't gone, or nearly so, quite yet. 37-year old Brianti -- remember her, a '09 tour singles champion and former Top 55 (2011) player -- reached a final in a small challenger this weekend. Ranked at #642, her run lifts her overall 2017 record to 14-13.
8. New Haven Final - Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan def. Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua
...3-6/6-3 [10-8].
All twelve of Barty's career WTA doubles finals have come with Dellacqua by her side. This loss drops them to 5-7 in those matches. Dellacqua is an additional 2-6 in tour finals with other partners.

1. New Haven SF - Dasha Gavrilova def. AGA RADWANSKA
After winning at least one title in six straight seasons, Aga is still looking for her first in 2017. This was just her second semifinal (w/ Sydney RU in Week 2) of the season, after having eight and nine, respectively, the last two years.

2. New Haven 1st Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
Gavrilova led 4-1 in the 3rd, then trailed 4-5. She won it 7-5. Dasha being Dasha.

Doing me

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

3. New Haven 2nd Rd. - AGA RADWANSKA def. TPFKAGB
No eclipse. No win.
HM- $15K Rotterdam - TAYISIYA MORDERGER vs. Karen Barritza
the Kiev-born German, 20, will go for her fourth career ITF singles crown on Sunday, with the Dane looking for #7.

LATE NOTE: Barritza won 2-6/6-4/6-4

1st title baby!!!

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Auckland - Lauren Davis, USA (23/#61)
Shenzhen - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (20/#52)
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (21/#127)
Saint Petersburg - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (23/#51)
Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty, AUS (20/#158)
Charleston - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (19/#42)
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (17/#233)
Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (20/#47)
's-Hertogenbosch - Anett Kontaveit, EST (21/#49)

[won title]
Garbine Muguruza - Cincinnati [SF-Ka.Pliskova]
[didn't win title]
Alison Riske - Shenzhen [QF-A.Radwanska] = RU
CoCo Vandeweghe - Australian Open [3r-Kerber] = SF
Kristina Mladenovic - Stuttgart [2r-Kerber] = RU

4 - CZE [Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova]
4 - RUS [Kasatkina,Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina]
3 - AUS [Barty,GAVRILOVA,Stosur]
3 - USA [Davis,Keys,S.Williams]

6...Y.Chan/Hingis (5-0+W)
5...Makarova/Vesnina (3-2)
4...Hradecka/Siniakova (0-4)
3...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (3-0)
3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)
6 - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
3 - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
3 - Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3 - Barty/Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
2 - Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE

Chakvetadze sighting! Ivo sighting!

With a giant of thought )) ? ???????? ????? ???)

A post shared by Anna Chakvetadze (@achak87) on

All for now.


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