Sunday, October 01, 2017

Wk.39- Karmic Kiki, Caroline & the Wuhan Title Run Heard 'round the World (and beyond)

Oh, those sneaky little Tennis Gods.

noun kar·ma \ ˈkär-mə
- the force created by a person's actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person

The members of the Karma Division of the TG operation were working overtime this past week, weren't they? After a year or more of labor that included strategically placing clues and foreshadowing fates until the proverbial cows came home, Wuhan turned out to be where Kiki Mladenovic's chickens came home to roost, while those of Caroline Garcia crossed the road to greater things. And a nice farm, I'm guessing.

You remember, Kiki. Gloriously beautiful game, with an attitude and soul proven to be far, far less than that after a series of mean, condescending, selfish and detestable put-downs to no less than what turned out to be two of 2017's slam champions, a former slam semifinalist, as well as at least one future Hall of Famer and, more importantly, the countrywoman, teammate and former doubles partner who stood side by side with her in some of her greatest moments. But when you're so much better than everyone else, are a self-professed more accomplished and greater human being, and speak so many more languages (because, you know, that's how we humans judge things like this), what you say goes, and if anyone disagrees, isn't 100% loyal, has a slightly different take on things, or has the temerity to stand up for herself in the face of the great Mladenovic intellect and outlook on life, well, then they're no better than the red dirt on the bottom of her shoes that she removes with one whack of a tennis racket between points during clay court season.

But the Tennis Gods don't often let such behavior occur without eventual karmic justice being levied.

There once were two Pastries who grew up far from Nantucket,
Who won so much together they had enough trophies to fill a big bucket.
But the first's true dark self led her to turn up her nose,
And sneer as she insulted and stepped on everyone's toes.
And speaking now for the second*, the first one can Nantucket.
* - since she wouldn't do it herself

While the aforementioned two Pastries close in on a potential passing the in rankings night, we take this moment to honor and acknowedge that the TG's are always watching.


WUHAN, CHINA (Premier 5/Hard)
S: Caroline Garcia/FRA def. Ash Barty/AUS 7-6(3)/6-7(4)/6-2
D: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI) d. Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan (JPN/CHN) 7-6(5)/3-6 [10-4]

S: Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR def. Timea Babos/HUN 6-4/6-4
D: Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (HUN/CZE) d. Nao Hibino/Oksana Kalashnikova (JPN/GEO) 7-5/6-4

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caroline Garcia/FRA've got to hand it to Garcia. Over the course of a season in which she was mocked on social media (and later attacked and insulted) by players she once thought were both friends and teammates, as she did when "The Darkness" stirred over the issue of Olympic uniform regulations in Rio last summer and it was Caroline who was smartly and politely diplomatic while her doubles "partner" blamed everyone within earshot -- except herself, of course -- for a disappointing loss, Garcia has kept her head down and moved forward with her preseason plan intact to focus on her singles after just beginning to scratch the surface of her potential during the 2016 season.

While dealing with a back injury that played a role in some of the resulting controversy, Garcia got off to a slow start, going 11-10 while her former friend got off to the best season start of her career. While *she* was soaring, Garcia was seemingly treading water. But she continued to work, and it all eventually turned in her favor. Here are her results since that mediocre start...

3-1: Strasbourg SF (where she was DC)
4-1: Roland Garros QF (best careeer slam)
3-1: Mallorca SF (where she was DC)
3-1: Wimbledon 4th (best Wimbledon result)
1-1: Gstaad 2nd
3-1: Bastad SF
3-1: Toronto QF
0-1: Cincinnati 1st
2-1: U.S. Open 3rd (tied U.S. best)
2-1: Tokyo QF
6-0: Wuhan W (sixth final, fourth career title)

That's QF-or-better results in seven of eleven events, with a 30-10 record over the span and, now, a career-best ranking of #15, one spot behind top-ranked Pastry Mladenovic. Garcia's wins in Wuhan included the dispatching of Angelique Kerber, Christina McHale, Dominika Cibulkova (her first Top 10 win of '17), Ekaterina Makarova, Maria Sakkari and Ash Barty in the final, during which the Aussie twice served for the match in the 2nd set. Garcia had been 0-4 in her previous semifinal appearances this season, but seemed quite at home in the latter stages of this event. Her title run is the biggest for a French woman since Marion Bartoli won Wimbledon in 2013. Like Mladenovic, Garcia's prospects have been noticeable since way back (Andy Murray called her a "future #1" when she was a teenager, while watch her faced off with Sharapova in Paris), but it's taken her a little while to embrace the big stage. Remember, she once asked the FFT to not schedule her on Chatrier at Roland Garros because it was too much pressure. It was surely an eyebrow-raising moment, but she's no longer seems to be the player who doesn't take to such a challenge.

Since leading (w/ Mladenovic) France to the Fed Cup final a year ago, and winning the RG doubles (again w/ Mladenovic), Garcia has grown into her talent. Next is to do the same in regards to her getting-bigger-all-the-time place in the game. While Mladenovic has won, she's also been concerned with petty controversies, so-called affronts and disagreements. Garcia has simply focused and done what she said she would.

It's nice to see her rightfully rewarded for that. Heartening, in fact. Or should I say positively "karmic?"

RISERS: Timea Babos/HUN and Alona Ostapenko/LAT
...for the second time this quarter, Babos advanced to both the singles and doubles finals at the same event. Unfortunately for the 24-year old Hungarian, as she did in Quebec City, she went 1-1 in her attempt to sweep the Tashkent titles, coming up short once again in singles (though she did pick up her fourth doubles title of the year, winning her third w/ Andrea Hlavackova). Wins over Johanna Larsson, Denisa Allertova, Stefanie Voegele and Aryna Sabalanka advanced her to her third final of '17 (and sixth of her career), completing the turn around of a season that included a nine-match losing streak in the spring/early summer. She'll jump nine spots to #43 this week, further recovering from her slump. Babos finished 2016 at #26.

For a while, Ostapenko looked as if she might follow up her Seoul title run with another in Wuhan. She was eventually the final victim in Ash Barty's remarkable run to the final, perhaps helped along by her post-midnight match the previous round and an ailing wrist. Still, Latvian Thunder was a sight to behold once again, digging and hitting her way out of holes as if it was commonplace, if not expected. She won a trio of three-set matches, running her record to an amazing 21-3 in her last twenty-four three-setters with wins over Barbora Strycova, Monica Puig and Garbine Muguruza, the latter to post her first career #1 victory. Rather than admire her Parisian experience and endure the usual aftershock results, Ostapenko has traversed her post-slam win quite well, throwing in a few clunkers along the way, but usually brimming with confidence as she's gone 15-6 since winning Roland Garros. She's at a new career-high of #8 this week.

SURPRISES: Wang Qiang/CHN and Magda Linette/POL
...Wang has found hereself in the right place at the right time quite often of late. First, in Tokyo, she was there to personally deliver a pair of inedible bagels to Kiki Mladenovic, then she saw off Sloane Stephens in Wuhan in the U.S. Open champ's first "post-title" match. She added another win over Sorana Cirstea to reach the 3rd Round. Not the final result her past week probably deserved (she's since pushed Caroline Wozniacki to three sets in a loss in Beijing this weekend), but it's another chapter is what has turned out to be a breakout season for the 25-year old. The third-highest ranked Chinese (behind Peng and Zhang) at #52, just four off her career high (#48 in June), Wang had reached four tour-level QF this season, won a WTA 125 Series event and posted victories over Mladenovic (2), Ostapenko, Garcia and Vesnina. After her first Top 100 season (#73) a year ago, she's looking to secure her maiden Top 50 finish in 2017's closing weeks.

Coming off a week in Tokyo that saw her qualify with a win over Kateryna Bondarenko (who'd go on to win the Tashkent title) and 1st Round victory over Dasha Gavrilova, Linette qualified again in Wuhan (her sixth successful Q-run on tour in '17), then got MD wins over Anett Kontaveit (1-7 in recent weeks) and Katerina Siniakova (2-7) to reach the 3rd Round, where she pushed Garbine Muguruza in a three-setter. The result adds some late season success to what has already been a breakthrough campaign for the Pole. Her season previously included her first tour-level SF (in Kuala Lumpur in February) since her sole final appearance in Tokyo two years ago, and a QF in the spring in Bogota. While her career-high is #64 in September '15, Linette has never finished a season ranked higher the #89. She enters the coming week at #70.

VETERANS: Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR and Alize Cornet/FRA Tashkent, Bondarenko won her first tour-level singles title in nine years (the third-longest span between wins in tour history) and celebrated the occasion with the customary outfit for champions at the tournament, as well as a kiss from daughter Karin.

#TeamUkraine #Bondarenko ?????????? ???? ?????? ????? #WTA #TashkentOpen ???? ???????????? ? ???100 ??

A post shared by Ukrainian Tennis Portal (@ukrainiantennisportal) on

The 31-year old, who left the game in 2012 to have a baby before returning in '14, hadn't reached a tour singles final since 2008, a Birmingham title run that included a 3rd set TB win over Yanina Wickmayer to claim the crown. Last week, Bondarenko posted wins over Anna Blinkova, two-time Tashkent finalist Nao Hibino ('15 champ), Kurumi Nara, Vera Zvonareva (in an all-mother showdown) and Timea Babos in a 4 & 4 final. The Ukrainian arrived in Uzbekistan with just one MD tour win since May, and hadn't played in a WTA singles QF since Tokyo 2015. Ranked #133 last week, Bondarenko will climb to #87 in the new rankings. Her career high of #29 came in 2009.

Meanwhile, Cornet was stirring in Wuhan, where the Pastry strung together wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Varvara Lepchenko to reach the QF, her second consecutive such result after another recent final eight run in Guangzhou. Neither are Cornet's best result of '17 (Brisbane final after wins over Vesnina, Cibulkova and Muguruza), but it's her best back-to-back tournament results in a season since her Guangzhou RU/Wuhan QF combo in September '14. The win over Kuznetsova was Cornet's fourth Top 10 victory this season, and the fourteenth of her career. She's opened with a 1st Round win in Beijing, and will next Angelique Kerber.

On another note, Cornet also found time to send out congratulations to Garcia. Cornet, remember, was part of the three-member French Fed Cup team that "LOL'd" Garcia's claim (later proven true) of a back injury when announcing she wasn't going to play for the national team. Cornet should have known better than to follow the lead of the bridge-burning-and-petty Mladenovic, and seemed to acknowledge that when she did her best to publicly make up with Garcia after they met in a singles match following the whole FC debacle. In my opinion, it absolved her of the stain. But, of course, some continue to hold onto the memory with both hands (check out the many "LOL"-laced comments on her tweet)...

Of course, when a commenter essentially dares her to "win matches" AFTER she'd already posted her recent results, it sort of speaks to how closely some of those people are really following things. Or not, in this case. Still, for now, I suppose a reminder of the previous incident isn't out of bounds at this point, though it *is* getting a bit long in the tooth considering her "make good" attempts, of which this congratulatory tweet is another try. It might not be enough for some, but it is for me. After all, can you imagine the ringleader of the entire incident doing the same? To this point, I can't. And that says a great deal about the difference between how one should, I think, hold Cornet's feet to that particular fire in comparison to Mladenovic. A sincere "I'm sorry, I was wrong" -- or the equivalent -- can (and should) go a long way toward reconciliation.

Unfortunately, some have yet to grasp that concept, and as they encounter rocky times and resulting criticism instead choose to point fingers and blame in all directions while continuing to show zero ability to recognize that the same antagonistic attitudes and actions focused against *her* at the moment are prevalent to a very large degree within herself, as well.

Hence, Mladenovic's re-tweeting of this following one of her recent defeats...

Oh, the irony.

COMEBACKS: Vera Zvonareva/RUS and Stefanie Voegele/SUI
...Zvonareva's return took another step up the ladder in Tashkent, as the 33-year old world #308 qualified and then proceeded to record her first WTA MD win this year (def. Irina-Camelia Begu). She'd reach her first tour-level QF since 2015, and first SF since 2011 on the back of additional victories over Pauline Parmentier and Aleksandra Krunic. She finally fell to Kateryna Bondarenko in the second of two matches on the same day after half the singles semis had been postponed the prior day due to rain. She'll re-enter the Top 200 on Monday.

Also in Tashkent, 27-year old Voegele (#196 and in the draw with a protected ranking after a wrist injury kept her off tour for six months) posted wins over Sabina Sharipova and Marketa Vondrousova to reach her first tour QF since this same tournament a year ago. This was Voegele's sixth event back, after having retired in the second round of qualifying at the U.S. Open and gone 0-4 in four ITF challengers.
FRESH FACES: Ash Barty/AUS, Maria Sakkari/GRE and Aryna Sabalenka/BLR
...Barty, 21, came up just short of a truly remarkable run in Wuhan that, had she taken the title, surely would have qualified as one of the three -- if not THE -- top non-slam performances by any player this season. She came up just short, but the Aussie's third trip to a singles final this season has already marked her as an essential part of the NextGen group of players elbowing their way to the front of the WTA line. Another Barty Party is surely on the schedule for Melbourne come January.

In her own way, Barty actually falls in line with the recent string of players who have taken time off (by choice/injury) and come back to the sport as strong or stronger than ever, only she did it at the start of her career rather than the middle or near the end. Her year and a half sabbatical from tennis -- which included a stint as a pro cricket player Down Under -- wasn't a case of needing to recuperate and rediscover a lost love of the sport, but one of slowing down and reclaiming a bit of sanity before returning to the grind of the tennis tour once she felt she was finally ready for such a life. Well, she's surely taking to it now. Already a doubles success, Barty has added a load of singles accomplishments to her career resume this year. Her appearance in a third singles final (she swept the S/D titles in Kuala Lumpur, and lost in three sets to Petra Kvitova in Birmingham) in Wuhan was noteworthy, but it was her path there that was so impressive. She posted a win over CiCi Bellis, then reeled off four straight Top 20 wins, three of them Top 10 victories and one a Top 5. Johanna Konta fell in three after the Brit had led 4-2, then another win over Aga Radwanska went the distance, as did Barty's win over Karolina Pliskova. A straight sets win over Alona Ostapenko included the Aussie's fourth match of the week with a bagel set (also vs. Bellis, Konta and Radwanska). In the final against Garcia, a second title and a fifth Top 20 win were within Barty's grasp. She twice served for the match, but ultimately fell in three sets. She'll still rise to a career-best #23 (one spot behind top Aussie Dasha Gavrilova) in the rankings, and more than displayed a fan-friendly, good natured attitude about the sport and her enjoyment of competition by how she sincerely congratulated the French woman upon her own biggest career accomplishment, and spoke of what *Garcia* could look forward to in the future.

Meanwhile, 22-year old Sakkari is now fully grasping her role as the best Greek player since Eleni Daniilidou. Her semifinal result in Wuhan will lift her into the Top 50 for the first time, joining Daniilidou (former #14) and Angeliki Kannellopoulou (#43) as the only women to climb so high. Sakkari's recent teaming with coach Thomas Johansson is looking to be a fine fit, as her aggressive play over the past week was a game-changer when it comes to her potential future. After making her way through qualifying, she knocked off Yulia Putintseva, Caroline Wozniacki (both her first Top 20 and Top 10 victory), Elena Vesnina (who just fell out of the Top 20) and Alize Cornet to reach her maiden tour semifinal. She finally met her match in eventual champ Caroline Garcia, but not until after winning seven matches on the week.

Fed Cup star Sabalenka finally saw her team-related success translate on the WTA tour in Tashkent. The 19-year old reached her first career tour-level semifinal while recording victories over Evgeniya Rodina, Tatjana Maria and Kateryna Kozlova. Sabalenka will just miss out on her first Top 100 ranking (#101) this week, but will continue to gear up for Belarus' big opportunity as the host nation in the FC final vs. the U.S. later this fall.

DOWN: ????
...hmmm, where to go here?

I mean, last week I sort of ruled out a certain Pastry after her weekend loss in Wuhan *before* the start of weekday play, right? Essentially, her appearance here for Week 38 was for the combination of her 1st Round exit in both Tokyo AND the Week 39 China Open. So...

Maybe Jelena Jankovic, who didn't even play? She *is* dropping out of the Top 100 for the first time in fourteen years. Nah. Simona Halep? She was knocked out in a consummate performance in the 2nd Round in Wuhan by Dasha Kasatkina, thereby adding another tournament to the list of them in which the Romanian had a chance to end the week as the #1-ranked player, but didn't. Nope. Aga Radwanska? The Pole fell in the 3rd Round in Wuhan to Barty after winning the 1st set. She's already fallen out of the Top 10, and surely isn't likely to defend her Beijing title this week. No... especially since Aga actually said this week what we already knew, that so many players are so exhausted by this time of the year that early round upsets are hardly surprising (not that a win by Barty will be considered a true "upset" for much longer).


Come on, you knew she'd come through in all her karmic glory, didn't you?

DOWN: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA

Just as she did a week ago, Kiki fell before the weekend. This time it was in Beijing, via a 7-5/6-4 defeat at the hands of Duan Yingying. It's her ninth straight loss, all in straight sets. While she didn't cop to any debilitating injury during this stretch, she did admit during the week that she's never gotten back her momentum or form since tweaking her knee at Wimbledon. But it sounds more mental than anything else.

Now, with Garcia's title run, Mladenovic's reign as the top-ranked French woman for 2017 is in jeopardy, as she holds a razor-thin lead over her former doubles partner, and former Fed Cup teammate, and former friend (I'd believe, not that Kiki will now ever admit to being friends, since Garcia, in Kiki's eyes, is such a lower standard of person when compared to herself, of course).

Of course, the WTA social media office, obviously not recognizing the poor timing of such a thing (sort of like using Twitter to attack a city's major for begging for help in the wake of a natural disaster because you think it makes *you* look bad... but, I mean, who'd be such an a-hole that they'd do something as selfish and distasteful as that, right?), still managed to post *this* this weekend...

ITF PLAYER: Aleksandra Wozniak/CAN
...the 30-year old Canadian (#335) wins her twelfth career ITF crown, defeating Marie Bouzkova 7-5/6-4 in the final. The Czech had defeated her 6-0/6-4 in a $60K QF back in February. Wozniak entered this event in Oklahoma on a five-match losing streak that had started the week after she won her last challenger title at a $25K in Gatineau in July. Wozniak was ranked as high as #21 back in 2009.

JUNIOR STARS: Eva Guerrero/ESP and Paula Arias Manjon/ESP
...18-year old Guerrero (#36 Jr/#1026 WTA) claimed her third career challenger title (first in '17) at the $15K in Melilla, Spain, defeating fellow Spaniard Marina Bassols Ribera 6-4/6-0 in the final. In doubles, she joined forces with Arias Manjon ('16 RG girls doubles champ w/ Olga Danilovic) as the 17-year old picked up her first professional title of any kind. Guerrero had defeated Arias 6-1/6-1 in the singles semis.

DOUBLES: Chan Yung-Jan/Martina Hingis (TPE/SUI) and Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (HUN/CZE)
...Chan & Hingis' rampage through the '17 season continued in Wuhan, as the veteran pair extended their current streak to a tour-best fourteen straight matches -- Hingis also won five MX matches at the Open -- and back-to-back-to-back tournament title runs. After reaching the final without dropping a set, they needed at 10-4 3rd set TB over Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan to get the win. They've won seven of their last nine tournaments, and are 48-6 on the year. While Chan, courtesy of a title run with her sister Hao-ching, leads the WTA with nine WTA WD titles, Hingis has a 54-10 record (66-12 w/ MX results) this season and ten (8 WD/2 MX) overall doubles crowns.

The final took place on Martina's 37th birthday...

In Tashkent, Babos & Hlavackova won their second straight title (w/ Quebec City -- Babos was singles RU in both events, as well), and fourth of 2017, with a straight sets win over Nao Hibino & Oksana Kalashnikova in the final. The pair's closest battle was a 10-6 3rd set TB win over the all-Aussie duo of Adamczak & Cabrera in the QF.


When it's Wuhan, you get Petra Kvitova and her Li Na...

Does selfie proficiency matter? We may find out if the potential Kvitova/Pavlyuchenkova 3rd Round match-up takes place in Beijing.


1. Wuhan Final - Caroline Garcia def. Ash Barty
While Garcia had opportunities to seize control of the match in the 1st set, serving at 5-4 and 6-5, it was Barty who appeared on her way to victory in the 2nd. Up a break on four different occasions, the Aussie served for the the title twice, but saw her serve let her down as she dropped the 2nd set TB. The Pastry then surged ahead in the 3rd, winning the 2:45 match to claim her first title of the season.

Hmmm, does this count as the present that Caroline admitted that she didn't buy her dad for his birthday? Probably, I'd say.


2. Wuhan QF - Alona Ostapenko def. Garbine Muguruza
After an erratic start, Ostapenko dialed in her game. At 3-3 in the 2nd, the Latvian denied two Muguruza GP and got the break, then saved two BP to hold for 5-3. She broke to take the 2nd set, then after dropping the first two games in the 3rd ran off six straight against the ever-more-frustrated Spaniard to notch her first career #1 victory despite eight DF (she trails only Mladenovic for most on tour in '17), 39 unforced errors and a 49% first serve percentage. A match-up of the RG and SW19 champs, this was the latest meeting of a season's slam winners since 2014 (Sharapova/Kvitova).

3. Wuhan 1st Rd. - Peng Shuai def. Petra Kvitova
Peng was 0-7 vs. Kvitova and the two had never before faced off in a TB. Well, that all changed here. In a match that went 3:34 and carried past midnight, Peng failed to serve it out, then had a MP on Kvitova's serve, saw the Czech take a MTO, and finally got her first career Wuhan match win in the night's *third* TB. But, win or lose, Petra was still Petra when it was all over (in a good way, of course)...

4. Beijing 1st Rd. - Simona Halep def. Alison Riske 6-3/3-6/6-2
Beijing 1st Rd. - Maria Sharapova def. Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(3)/5-7/7-6(7)
Saturday's early play in Beijing produced a pair of three-setters -- one a rematch of the U.S. Open Round of 16 match that saw Sharapova's run at Flushing Meadows come to an end -- that leave us one victory from each winning player away from *another* sequel to a recent NYC clash. Are you ready for Maria vs. Simona again? Rybarikova and Makarova, respectively, must first comply.

5. Wuhan 2nd Rd. - Alona Ostapenko def. Barbora Strycova
Strycova got as close as two points from the win at 15/30 on Ostapenko's serve in the 2nd. But -- stop me if you've heard this before -- once Latvian Thunder's shots began to find their target she took control.

Of course, considering the participants, when you get Ostapenko & Strycova, everyone's eyes stay glued to the court until the "official" end...

Meanwhile, proving that drama is not always inherent...

6. Wuhan 1st Rd. - Wang Qiang def. Sloane Stephens 6-2/6-2
Wuhan 1st Rd. - Varvara Lepchenko def. Madison Keys 6-2/7-6(4)
Toto, I don't think we're in New York City anymore. In their first outings since the Open final, Sloane was tired and Madison again was having her wrist examined by a trainer.
7. Wuhan 2nd Rd. - Dasha Kasatkina def. Simona Halep
With #1 once again in play, it was another no-go for Simona. Maybe the Swarmette Queen should follow Dasha's Rules of Order and turn off her head. Winning more than 12% of second serves would help, too, I'd imagine.

Speaking of the (still) Hordette Dasha...

While it's easy to dismiss such a comment as a "tryout" for a job at ESPN, it actually also opens up a debate about how to view a season such as that of Kasatkina's in 2017, with her results being unusually pliable no matter which side you'd wish to take. While I personally wouldn't label it a "fairly poor" year, it has been an up and down ride. She hasn't been as consistent in an overall sense as she was in 2016, but her best results have been the best of her career so far. Some examples:

2016: 3rd-3rd-3rd-1st (6-4 W/L)
2017: 1st-3rd-2nd-4th (6-4 W/L)

While Kasatkina had only had two 3rd Round-or-better results in majors this season, she had her BEST ever results (U.S. Round of 16) and took out RG champ Ostapenko in NYC. She had the same match record both years.

2016: 1 SF, 5 QF; 6 QF+/15 non-QF+
2017: 1 W, 2 QF; 3 QF+/17 non-QF+

A mixed bag. While Kasatkina had a higher QF-or-better rate (6/21 vs. 3/20), she reached her first final and won her maiden tour title in 2017, not '16. Also, she recorded her first career #1 win (Kerber) this season, and after ending last year at #27 (with a high of #24), she enters this week at #34, still with a chance to improve upon her season-ending finish and maybe even get a new career high with a superior late result.

So, is her 2017 a "fairly poor" year, or a "fairly good" one? A case could be made for both, depending on how you look at it.
8. Wuhan 2nd Rd. - Ash Barty def. Johanna Konta 6-0/4-6/7-6(3)
Beijing 1st Rd. - Monica Niculescu def. Johanna Konta 6-1/6-2
oh, Jo. It seems as if 2017 is done with Konta, and is looking forward to handing her off to 2018. She led 4-2 in the 3rd vs. Barty, but didn't even scratch the surface against the Romanian, who recorded her first Top 10 win of the year. The Brit has lost five straight, and is 2-6 since her Wimbledon semifinal run.
9. $25K Clermont-Ferrand SF - Bibiane Schoofs def. Belinda Bencic
Bencic's eight-match comeback winning streak ends a match short of a second straight final. Meanwhile, speaking of injured Swiss, Timea is out of surgery...

10. Beijing 1st Rd. - Magadalena Rybarikova def. TPFKAGB
And, no, you're not forgotten, TPFKAGB. For the record, this is four straight defeats, five in six matches, and a 3-9 record since the headline-grabbing (clutching desperately?) QF run in Madrid (which itself had followed a previous 2-7 slide).


Pick a needless, fact-deficient public fight with someone for inspiration? Yeah, I know... *someone* has already sort of "perfected" that skill, making it a bit passe for others to try to keep up.


1. Wuhan SF - CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis def. Sania Mirza/Peng Shuai
Hingis is now 5-2 vs. Mirza in the post-"Santina" era.

2. Tashkent Final - KATERYNA BONDARENKO def. Timea Babos
Between Bondarenko, Svitolina and Tsurenko, Ukraine is a combined 7-0 in tour singles finals in 2017.
3. Wuhan QF - Ash Barty def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
Pliskova got within two points of victory, then saved two MP and broke for 5-5 in the 3rd as things went to a deciding TB. But Barty, who claimed her first career Top 5 win and third straight three-setter over a Top 15 player, prevailed in the final stretch, finishing with 46 winners to 36 for the Czech. Pliskova, coached in Wuhan by her father after parting ways with David Kotyza, went over 400 aces for a fourth consecutive season last week, but this defeat ensured that she wouldn't overtake Muguruza and reclaim the #1 ranking after the event.
4. Tashkent 2nd Rd. - Kurumi Nara def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA 7-6(5)/6-7(4)/6-4
Tashkent 2nd Rd. - KATERYNA BONDARENKO def. Nao Hibino 6-4/7-5
Tashkent is notoriously hard on defending champions, as Pliskova learned last week. But Hibino, the '15 champ and '16 runner-up, proved that the "Tashkent curse" doesn't necessarily expire after one year.
5. Wuhan Q1 - Liu Fangzhou def. ANASTASIA RODIONOVA 6-1/4-2 ret.
Wuhan Q1 - Magda Linette def. ARINA RODIONOVA 6-3/6-3
Tashkent doesn't like defending champs. Wuhan doesn't like Rodionovas. Apparently.
6. Beijing 1st Rd. - Petra Kvitova def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
Make it twenty-three straight wins from Kvitova over fellow Czech Maidens.
7. Beijing 1st Rd. - Angelique Kerber def. NAOMI OSAKA
And Kerber wins the Part III rubber match between herself and Osaka, who drops her fourth straight match.
8. $15K Kiev Final - MARYNA KOLB/NADIYA KOLB def. Martina Colmegna/Michele Alexandra Zmau
...6-2/4-6 [13-11].
The Ukrainian sisters pick up their third ITF title as a duo, though they're still just 3-13 in finals.
HM- $60K Templeton 1st Rd. - Sophie Whittle def. FRANCKIE ABANDA
Raising the question of why Abanda, a recent first-time WTA quarterfinalist in Quebec City, was playing a $60K challenger in the first place. 20-year old Whittle is a junior at Gonzaga who was making her pro singles match debut, and lost in the next round to Laura Robson.

Hmmmm. The Australian Open is how many weeks away?

Obviously feeling much better about things, Vika went a little social media crazy this week...

Unicorn on a unicorn... the Gavrilovian version of a turducken?


A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

Speaking of the other Dasha...

Hello dear friends and haters!???? I get a lot of messages with questions from you everyday. So I’ve decided to share something personal with you every week. Let it be on Fridays. Introducing hashtag - #LifeWithDasha ?? During the first week, I would like to share with you one of the aspects, what motivates me everyday. #Music!???? It plays an important role in my whole life. With music I can share my mood and my emotions????????Everyday sports routine is a hard job…How to make it different? With music! My #Top5?? songs, what give me new breath during long day of training! #Share yours with me - #DashaChart. 1. Kygo - Stargazing ft. Justin Jesso 2. ZAYN - Dusk Till Dawn ft. Sia 3. Kygo - Here for You ft. Ella Henderson 4. Kygo - Carry Me ft. Julia Michaels 5. Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina (@kasatkina) on

Sharapova doing the InstaTwitter thing well again...

The locks of #Beijing

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

More end-of-year "album titles?"...

Rooftops at dawn #beijing

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Catching ladybugs ??

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

36 - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota)
35 - Serena Williams, USA (Australian Open)
33 - Samantha Stosur, AUS (Strasbourg)
31 - Peng Shuai, CHN (Nanchang)
30 - Elena Vesnina, RUS (Indian Wells)
41 - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague)
36 - Martina Hingis, SUI (7 titles)
36 - Abigail Spears, USA (Stanford)

9y,3m,2w = K.BONDARENKO [6/08 Birmingham >> 9/17 Tashkent]
7y,7w = A.Sevastova [5/10 Estoril >> 6/17 Mallorca]
5 yr = T.Babos [2/12 Monterrey >> 2/17 Budapest]
4 yr = Sh.Zhang Shuai [9/13 Guangzhou >> 9/17 Guangzhou]
M.Lucic-Baroni: 16y,4m = 1998 Bol/2014 Quebec City
K.Date-Krumm: 13y,1m = 1996 San Diego/2009 Seoul
J.Dokic: 8y,8m,3w = 2002 Birmingham/2011 Kuala Lumpur
B.Rittner: 8y,8m,3w = 1992 Schenectady/2001 Antwerp
K.Zakopalova: 8y,5m,1w = 2005 Portoroz/2014 Florianopolis

.000 - Julia Goerges (0-3)
.000 - Nao Hibino (0-2)
.000 - Venus Williams (0-2)
.143 - Wozniacki (1-6)
.250 - Simona Halep (1-3)
.250 - Kristina Mladenovic (1-3)
.333 - Anett Kontaveit (1-2)
.333 - TIMEA BABOS (1-2)
.333 - ASH BARTY (1-2)

3 - Madrid/Rome/RG - Simona Halep (WLL)
2 - Doha/Dubai - Caroline Wozniacki (LL)
2 - Bogota/Rabat - Francesca Schiavone (WL)
2 - Monterrey/Rabat - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (WW)
2 - Stuttgart/Madrid - Kristina Mladenovic (LL)
2 - Bastad/Toronto - Caroline Wozniacki (LL)
4 - STRAS/BIRM/EAST - Barty/Dellacqua (WLWL)
3 - Madrid/Rome/Strasbourg - Chan Yung-Jan (WWL)

#254 Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (Nurnberg)
#233 Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel - W)
#171 Miyu Kato, JPN (Tokyo JO)
#168 Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota - W)
#158 Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur - W)
NR - Maria Sharapova/RUS (Stuttgart)
#934 Sloane Stephens/USA (Toronto)
#340 Jana Fett/CRO (Hobart)
#254 Barbora Krejcikova/CZE (Nurnberg - RU)
#233 Marketa Vondrousova/CZE (Biel - W)

*2017 WINS OVER "#1 CLUB"*
6 - Elina Svitolina
4 - J.Konta, K.Mladenovic, G.Muguruza, A.OSTAPENKO
3 - E.Makarova, A.Pavlyuchenkova, Ka.Pliskova, C.Vandeweghe
Azarenka, Jankovic, Muguruza, Kerber, Ka.Pliskova, Sharapova, S.Williams, V.Williams, Wozniacki

Shenzhen: Alison Riske (A.Radwanska)[lost in F to Siniakova]
Australian Open: CoCo Vandeweghe (Kerber)[lost in SF to V.Williams]
Stuttgart: Kristina Mladenovic (Kerber)[lost in F to Siegemund]
Cincinnati: Garbine Muguruza (Ka.Pliskova)(W)
New Haven: Dasha Gavrilova (A.Radwanska)(W)
Tashkent: KURUMI NARA (KR.PLISKOVA)[lost in QF to K.Bondarenko]

4 - CZE: Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova
4 - RUS: Kasatkina,Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
4 - USA: Davis,Keys,Stephens,S.Williams
3 - AUS: Barty,Gavrilova,Stosur
3 - UKR: K.BONDARENKO,Svitolina,Tsurenko

8...Y.CHAN/HINGIS (7-0+W)
6...Barty/Dellacqua (3-3)
5...Makarova/Vesnina (3-2)
5...Hradecka/Siniakova (0-5)
3...Bertens/Larsson (3-0)
3...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (3-0)
3...Adamczak/Sanders (1-2)
3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)

2017 - 9 - Chan Yung-Jan; 8 - Martina Hingis
2016 8 - Sania Mirza
2015 10 - Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza
2014 5 - Sara Errani, Peng Shuai, Roberta Vinci
2013 5 - Hsieh Su-Wei, Sania Mirza, Peng Shuai, Kristina Mladenovic
2012 8 - Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci
2011 6 - Kveta Peschke, Katarina Srebotnik
2010 8 - Gisela Dulko
2009 7 - Nuria Llagostera Vives, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
2008 10 - Cara Black, Liezel Huber
2007 9 - Cara Black, Liezel Huber
2006 10 - Lisa Raymond, Samantha Stosur
2005 7 - Samantha Stosur
2004 7 - Cara Black, Nadia Petrova, Meghann Shaughnessy
2003 8 - Ai Sugiyama
2002 9 - Lisa Raymond

41 - Sania Mirza, IND
37 - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO
28 - Kveta Peschke, CZE
26 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
25 - Sara Errani, ITA
25 - Roberta Vinci, ITA

Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina, RUS
Miami - Johanna Konta, GBR
Madrid - Simona Halep, ROU
Rome - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Toronto - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Cincinnati - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
Wuhan - Caroline Garcia, FRA
Beijing -
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
Toronto - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Cincinnati - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Wuhan - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Beijing -

3:36 - Kuznetsova def. Jankovic (AO 3rd Rd.)
3:34 - PENG def. KVITOVA (WUHAN 1st Rd.)
3:33 - Rogers def. Gavrilova (U.S. Open 2nd Rd.)
3:32 - Mladenovic def. Watson (Acapulco 2nd Rd.)
3:27 - Wozniacki def. Niculescu (Madrid 1st Rd.)
[ 3:25 - Wickmayer def. Cirstea (FC WG II - BEL vs. ROU) ]
3:22 - Bacsinszky def. Bertens (Indian Wells 2nd Rd.)
3:21 - Strycova def. Wozniacki (Sydney QF)

How about a Chris AND Martina story based around the Rivals book? Think of the opposing paths to the same point played out on screen, from childhood to adult players and into their post-career lives.

When you see a tennis player on the street in everyday life, there's often a clue that gives her away. Do you see it?

Ni Hao ????#Wuhancity

A post shared by Garbiñe Muguruza (@garbimuguruza) on

BEIJING, CHINA [Premier Mandatory/Hard]
16 Singles Final: A.Radwanska d. Konta
16 Doubles Final: Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. Garcia/Mladenovic
17 Top Seeds: Muguruza/Halep

#1 Muguruza d. Pavlyuchenkova
#3 Svitolina d. #10 Kerber
#9 Ostapenko d. #4 Ka.Pliskova
(WC) Sharapova d. Kasatkina
#1 Muguruza d. #3 Svitolina
#9 Ostapenko d. (WC) Sharapova
#1 Muguruza d. #9 Ostapenko

#1 Chan/Hingis d. #5 Siniakova/Strycova
#4 Babos/Hlavackova d. #2 Makarova/Vesnina
#1 Chan/Hingis d. #4 Babos/Hlavackova

All for now.


Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was todays opponent to Caroline Wozniacki and again the #7 is involved. In Tokyo they met in their 7th meeting on the 7th day. Today Wozniacky won her 7th victory over Pavlyuchenkova - don't tell me I'm superstitious but it helps ;)

Mon Oct 02, 11:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Surprisingly little fanfare over Hingis being #1

Stat of the Week-15- The amount of WTA titles for Jelena Jankovic.

Am I saying that she is going to retire? No, but she is in a tougher spot than Ivanovic was at this time last year. When Ivanovic shut it down, she was projected to be at 65-70 if she came back at the AO, or could stay out until March and use a PR of 35. Jankovic is at 117, and with the 125K being played at the end of the season, she most likely will drop even more, making qualies her route in.

If Jankovic stays at 15 titles, it is almost fate in a weird way. Why? Because Ivanovic also has 15, making both Serbia's biggest winners. But even with the tie, that wasn't a given. To explain why, let's talk about how long Jankovic has been around.

Only 32 in real world years, her first slam attempt-2002 USO- was so long ago that she represented the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When she won her first ITF title in 2003(Dubai), that was for Serbia and Montenegro. Now as Jankovic and Ivanovic are always linked, both won 1 WTA title for Serbia and Montenegro, being the only 2 players to do so. Montenegro gained it's independence in 2006, and both won 14 titles after. So they tie for the lead for 2 countries.

One of the bizarre stats regarding Jankovic's career is not the fact that she lost 21 finals(more on that later), but her 2007 campaign. She went an insane 72-25, going 4-4 in finals. But burning herself out, she actually lost her last 6 matches that year, 3 at the YEC.

Quiz Time!
1.Jankovic has 21 losses in finals. Of the active players in the Top 100, who has the most?

A.Svetlana Kuznetsova
B.Caroline Wozniacki
C.Serena Williams
D.Venus Williams

2.Montenegro was never had a player win a title, but have reached 2 finals. Name one of the two?

More Up/Down Side coming, which is more negative than usual.

1.I wanted to add Maria Sharapova, but she was ranked 104. However, she is not the right answer, as she is tied for 2nd with 23 finals losses, the same as both Kuznetsova and Wozniacki. Serena only has 20. So that leaves D.Venus as the answer. The though is that Serena put her here. And with a 3-9 record in finals, that is partially true. But give Davenport some credit too, as they actually met 12 times in finals, with Venus winning 7-5.

2. This was actually a trick question, as although A. Radwanska and Buyukakcay stopped a player from winning, it was the same one in Danka Kovinic. Kovinic is just out of the Top 100 at 102, but Jankovic being below her this week means that for the first time since Serbia and Montenegro split, Jankovic is ranked behind someone from Montenegro.

Mon Oct 02, 11:33:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side

1.Svitolina-Has a tough match with an improving Barty, but has a chance to leave Beijing as #1 with Muguruza already out. Will Barty have anything left? Will Svitolina be rusty? We shall see.
2.Sabalenka-Already out this week, but is one of the few teens playing well right now(more on that later). The ultimate ballbasher, seriously, no nuance in her game right now, but she has time, she may be 5 weeks away from a star making turn as Belarus' lead dog at Fed Cup. And the US isn't a lock because....
3.Bertens/Goerges-Second week they have teamed up, and they have potential. Larsson might just be on a break, but Bertens would be better off sticking with Goerges. She would probably improve on hard. Bertens already lost in singles, but Goerges still has a chance at Zhuhai. More as a replacement. But moving up a couple of spots, plus having Vandeweghe, Keys and Stephens in the field at week before Fed Cup means there may be changes to the field. Would Keys really play both? Or any?
4.Kasatkina-Starting to look like the Feb-Apr version that won Charleston. Could make it out of the Eastern Bloc of Death, the quarter in which 9 women's names ended in ina, ova or eva.
5.Zvonareva-At 198, 2 spots behind Bencic, 2 in front of Azarenka, and 6 in front of Lisicki. And she looks like a Top 30 player. Just a matter of time.

Mon Oct 02, 11:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side

1.Bellis-Not here, and on a 5 match losing streak. However, I am not just singling her out, but all of the teens in the Top 100. Vondrousova won 80K Prague, but has one WTA win since Birmingham. Osaka also has lost her last 5, though the draw did her no favors with another match vs Kerber. And Konjuh is out for the year.
2.Kr.Pliskova- 6-7 since the thumb injury stopped her momentum. Dropped from 35 to 58 in rankings. Was 8-5 in previous 13 matches before injury. Karolina dropped her coach, will Kristyna?
3.Bouchard- Plays to the level of her opponent, so it must be mental. 5-8(including Rybarikova match) vs players ranked above her, yet 6-10 vs those below, Sharapova being one of the 6. Had the dubious distinction of being Duan's only Top 20 win before Mladenovic lost the other day.
4.Davis-Needs to send Petkovic a christmas card, as she kept her from going full on Mladenovic. Ended a 7 match losing streak, is 1-9 in last 10, part of a putrid 8-19 stretch.
5.Petkovic-Has actually been doing well in qualies, but her 3 wins in DC obscured the fact that until she won the other day, she has only had 4 MD wins since Charleston.

Mon Oct 02, 12:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Potentially tough road, but at this time of year endurance might be even more important than usual. And she's got that.

Ah, I was wondering if Hingis might be about to get back there, but I hadn't seen anything about it on the WTA Twitter feed. She's never finished a year as WD #1, though, so there are still things she hasn't accomplished yet.

Ha! So like JJ that she'd be involved in weird stats like that. :)

For me, aside from the obvious eccentricities, I think what I'll remember about JJ's career -- linked with AnaIvo once again -- is how she lost the essential "battle for #1" in the '08 RG semis, but then ended up finishing that season at #1 *ahead* of Ivanovic anyway.


(two weeks in a row!)
1. I went with Venus after some noodling, figuring Serena had helped a great deal, though I was thinking Hingis' early record against Venus (but they only met in four finals, w/ MH 3-1), rather than LD, would put her over the top. Two paths to the same destination, I guess. ;)

2. I could only think of Kovinic, but that ended up being all I needed ;)

And, of course, JJ and Kovinic are personally linked, as well. So it makes the circumstances even more interesting.


*Some Beijing Results*
Cornet d. Kerber 6-4/6-4 (a kind word leads to...)

McHale d. Stephens 6-3/6-0 (clearly Sloane's not really into this right about now)

Mon Oct 02, 12:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Halep has another chance at #1.

My opinion is thatPeng only played because it was in China

Mladenovic can't win, Garcia can't lose. Garcia has won 16 matches since Mladenovic's last win.

Fri Oct 06, 02:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And Ostapenko has another chance to keep it just out of Simona's reach, too. (eek)

Even with all the breaks of serve today, super-impressive win by Garcia over Svitolina. She had a thousand opportunities to throw her hands up and lose that one (and she probably would have not long ago), but never blinked and eventually won it.

And Garcia still has a shot to reach Singapore now, too. How incredible would it be if she, not Mladenovic (who had such a chance if she'd, you now, done ANYTHING good since Wimbledon) slipped in at #8 ahead of Konta? It probably won't happen, but still.

Of course, if she doesn't we could see BOTH Garcia and Mladenovic in Zhuhai. Oh, the possibilities.

Fri Oct 06, 05:24:00 PM EDT  

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