Sunday, January 07, 2018

Wk.1- Act 1, Scene 1 (2018)

Welcome, 2018. Nice to see that you're already spreading your wings.

The new season arrived with a Week 1 opportunity for three players to seize the #1 ranking (and top seed in Melbourne), and that was just the appetizer to the action. The week's "risotto with mushrooms" included:

* - singles titles by two of the Top 6 players on tour

* - 2017's #1-ranked player lifting *two* trophies, 2017's title leader winning her first in '18, and 2017's final leader reaching, you guessed it, yet another final

* - both 2016 *and* 2017's 's top-ranked Germans going undefeated (9-0) in singles play

* - last year's breakout Fed Cup star managing to give her new success a tasty WTA "glow"

* - and one of last year's slam champs announcing that she will not defend her crown, while the other '17 major champions failed to notch an official win in three tries between the white lines

And that just scratches the surface of Week 1 of the 2018 season. So, let's open the floodgates of another year of The Most Interesting Tour in the World.

Ready, set, go...

BRISBANE, AUS (Premier/Hard Outdoor)
S: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR 6-2/6-1
D: Kiki Bertens/Demi Schuurs (NED/NED) d. Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (SLO/ESP) 7-5/6-2
SHENZHEN, CHN (Int'l/Hard Outdoor)
S: Simona Halep/ROU def. Katerina Siniakova/CZE 6-1/2-6/6-0 (indoors)
D: Irina-Camelia Begu/Simona Halep (ROU/ROU) d. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova (CZE/CZE) 1-6/6-1 [10-8]
AUCKLAND, NZL (Int'l/Hard Outdoor)
S: Julia Goerges/GER def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN 6-4/7-6(4)
D: Sara Errani/Bibiane Schoofs (ITA/NED) d. Eri Hozumi/Miyu Kato (JPN/JPN) 7-5/6-1
HOPMAN CUP 30 (Perth, AUS; Hard Outdoor)
F: Switzerland (Bencic/Federer) d. Germany (Kerber/A.Zverev) 2-1

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Simona Halep/ROU could scarcely think of how Week 1 could have gone any better for Halep than it did in Shenzhen. After one year ago the Swarmette Queen began what would turn out to be her #1-ranked season with a 2nd Round loss in Shenzhen to Katerina Siniakova, what are we to make of what will happen in 2018 when we factor in the fun fact that Halep just began *this* season by taking the title at that very same Shenzhen event with a three-set win in the final over the very same Siniakova. How about that she did it with a 3rd set bagel of the Czech? How about when you consider that this was her sixteenth career singles title (tying her with Elena Dementieva... setting up an it-writes-itself match note for the upcoming AO), and it secured her first #1 slam seed (both #2 Garbine Muguruza and #3 Caroline Wozniacki arrived this January with a chance to supplant her) in Melbourne? And that her path included additional nothing-to-sneeze-at wins over Duan Yingying, Aryna Sabalenka and Irinia-Camelia Begu? How 'bout that she also won the doubles title with Begu to claim her very first WTA WD crown? Yep, she did *that*, too. And that she did it all with a beaming smile, brimming confidence (hey, getting your meals for free these days will do that for you), and a brilliantly new Simona 2.0-ish sense of fun (rain delays are for hitting balls with kids, not fretting about the weather)? Oh, and let's not forget that Serena Williams also announced that she'll be skipping her AO title defense, removing one very imposing obstacle potentially blocking the Romanian's path to a possible maiden slam title run?

At the moment, everything just seems to be coming up Simona.

Undefeated, and already with as many titles in '18 as she earned in '17, Halep will next bring her new attitude to Melbourne, where she's fallen in the opening round the last two years. Can Si-mo-na keep this up, on all fronts, and soon write the next big chapter of her career? We're about to find out.

RISERS: Elina Svitolina/UKR and Julia Goerges/GER
...while Halep was beaming in Shenzhen, Svitolina may have had the *most* impressive opening week of the new season, as she was thrown head first into the 2018 fire and emerged unscathed, and clutching her tenth career tour title.

A semifinalist in Brisbane a year ago, the Ukrainian came back this year and went about taking care of unfinished business. Down went Carla Suarez-Navarro, Ana Konjuh and #9 Johanna Konta. Svitolina erased a set disadvantage vs. the Brit, winning a 2nd set TB and then outlasting former AO semifinalist JoKo, who retired with a hip injury (it doesn't look like it'll prevent her from trying to defend her Sydney crown, though, so that's good). Next up was defending champ and world #4 Karolina Pliskova, who was sent out 5 & 5, giving Svitolina her 22nd career Top 10 win, and 14th over a Top 5 player. It was a quick 2 & 1 final victory over hard-worked qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich that ended the week, allowing Svitolina to continue to do something she's never had much difficult with -- winning singles titles. She led the tour with five a year ago, and has immediately picked up where she left off. Now 10-2 in tour finals, not having lost one since the summer/fall of '16, she's also 1-0 in 125 Series and 6-2 in ITF finals, giving her a sterling 17-4 career mark in pro singles finals that would be the envy of nearly every (non-Serena, at least) player on tour. The one thing the Ukrainian has yet to check off her personal "To-Do" List is a maiden deep slam run, having come within a big lead and MP of her first major semifinal last year in Paris. So, stay tuned.

Speaking of hitting her stride, no one has been doing it as routinely as Goerges of late. The German vet put on a late season run to end '17 on a nine-match, two-title winning streak that pushed her to a career high of #14. She didn't break that winning stride in Auckland, adding five more match wins to her streak by taking out Monica Puig, Victoria Kuzmova, Polona Hercog, Hsieh Su-Wei and world #3 Caroline Wozniacki in a straight sets final (she dropped just one set all week). It's Goerges' first Top 3 win since 2012 (Aga at the Olympics), and the fourth of her career. Three of them have come vs. the Dane, it should be noted, with the other two over a #1-ranked Caro back in 2011. Having done all she needed to in order to prepare for the AO -- Goerges has pulled out of Sydney -- the German will now rise to *another* new career high of #12 this week, and is breathing down the neck of a certain karma-riddled Pastry currently positioned at #11.

SURPRISES: Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR and Sachia Vickery/USA
...perhaps boosted by her '17 Fed Cup heroics, Sasnovich began her '18 season in Brisbane by putting on a gutsy, Team BLR-style push from the outside lane (in this case, qualifying) through nervy traffic (four straight wins after losing the 1st set) to reach her biggest-ever final (Seoul '15 was her only previous appearance) before finally coming up short just before the finish line (a 2 & 1 final loss to Elina Svitolina for which she apologized to the fans, despite having having given her all and then some while winning seven matches in a little over a week to get there). A virtual quote machine all week -- "I think everyone can beat everyone. It's tennis. You know, the ball is round." and "I will do my favorite thing. Eat." just to pick two -- Sasnovich knocked off the likes of Kristina Mladenovic, Anett Kontaveit, Alize Cornet and Anastasija Sevastova en route to the final, all the while revealing the power of eating risotto with mushrooms along the way. She'll jump from #88 to a new career high of #53 (it was formerly #85!) this week.

Here's another example of the personality-driven spin that should be the heart of a new WTA ad campaign but, alas, likely never will be.

In Auckland, Vickery arrived to "Congratulations, Sloane!" comments...

but left New Zealand after having turned a successful qualifying run into her first tour-level semifinal, two Top 50 wins (one over defending champ Lauren Davis, and the other a 2 & 2 demolition of Aga Radwanska) and a new career high ranking (up to #105 from #122). The Bannerette fell to Caroline Wozniacki 6-4/6-4 in the semis.

VETERANS: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN, Anastasija Sevastova/LAT and Kaia Kanepi/EST happened often in the first half of '17, Wozniacki's good week didn't end exactly as she might have desired, but the water-logged Auckland event still provided her with a good opening week of match play heading into the first slam of the year. The Dane, still aggressive in the wake of the exit of Big Sascha, notched straight sets wins over Madison Brengle and Petra Martic before the weather began to truly back up the schedule. After dropping the opening set to teenager Sonya Kenin, Wozniacki knocked off the Bannerette as well as her countrywoman Sachia Vickery to extend her winning streak (back to the WTA Finals) to six and reach her 51st career singles final. After losing her first six finals of '17 before taking her final three, Caro began '18 with another loss to Julia Goerges, 6-4/7-6. While she didn't manage to swipe the #1 ranking (and AO top seed) from Simona Halep, Wozniacki's week will allow her to pass #2 Garbine Muguruza and set herself up on the opposite end of the Serena-less Melbourne draw as the Romanian, who has dropped her last three Australian Open matches.

While Alona Ostapenko "began" her '18 season with an exhibition win in Abu Dhabi over Serena Williams (then dropped two tour-level matches), it was Sevastova who had the best opening week of the season of the two Top 20 Latvians. Looking to put on a Top 10 run of her own, the #16-ranked two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist reached the Brisbane semis after posting a trio of match wins over Samantha Stosur, Sorana Cirstea and Aleksandra Krunic (The Bracelet will still break into the Top 50 for the first time this week) before being the last foe to fall at the hands of Sasnovich. She'll rise to a new career high of #15 on Monday.

Also in Brisbane, Kanepi warmed up with a qualifying run that included wins over Kimberly Birrell, Sara Tomic and Heather Watson, then followed up with MD upsets (or not, depending on the Estonian's general health, I guess) over Dasha Kasatkina and Lesia Tsurenko. She very nearly added another layer of success to her week, but was unable to hold off defending champ Karolina Pliskova as the Czech staged a successful comeback from a set and a break deficit. The 32-year old will jump from #99 to #79 this week.

COMEBACKS: Angelique Kerber/GER and Belinda Bencic/SUI
...Bencic walked away with the Hopman Cup trophy along with her Swiss partner (some guy named Roderick Frederling, or something like that), but it was Kerber who might have gained the most from a week in Perth.

Bencic had already managed to right her ship after an injury-riddled season-plus on tour, putting on a finally-healthy fall run that ended with a 15-match, three-tournament winning streak in WTA 125 and challenger events that lifted her ranking back into the Top 75 and earned her a spot in the Australian Open main draw. In the 30th edition of the mixed team event named for 1930's Aussie player/coach Harry Hopman, Bencic went 3-0 in round robin play without losing a set against Naomi Osaka, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and CoCo Vandeweghe. She and Mr. Frederling (?) took the final with a title-deciding mixed doubles match win, but only after Bencic had suffered a rare singles loss at the hands of Kerber, 6-4/6-1.

2016 #1, and that season's AO and U.S. Open champ, Kerber just showed just how happy she was to get 2017 behind her. Ever since January 1 of last year the German had seen all the brilliant mojo she'd had working in her favor the season before almost always go against her, as she was never able to get on anything resembling the roll she'd been on so often in '16. She failed to win a title, and fell from #1 to #21 in the season-ending rankings, the biggest non-injury/retirement related drop ever for a reigning #1 in tour history. But 2018 is already looking up for Angie, as she didn't lose a singles match in Perth. Elise Mertens, Genie Bouchard and Dasha Gavrilova also fell in straight sets before Bencic went down, and if Kerber had gotten a bit more help from *her* partner Germany might have won its first HC title since 1995 rather than the Swiss getting their first since 2001 (oddly enough, Mr. Frederling was involved in *that* one, too). Kerber is assured of celebrating her 30th birthday in Melbourne, but her form in Week 1 at least gives rise to some renewed hope that it won't be her final celebration of 2018. Thank you, Tennis Gods... the payments should arrive in your bank accounts soon.

Angie had the moves *outside* the lines in Perth, as well. Here she is saying, "Shut up, Sascha. We won... now go sit down." (or something like that)

FRESH FACES: Katerina Siniakova/CZE and Sonya Kenin/USA
...21-year old Siniakova's breakthrough '17 season included her maiden title run in Week 1 in Shenzhen (she won another crown later in the year, but was inconsistent enough to finish with a .500 won/lost record and failed to raise her season-ending ranking, finishing at #49 for a second consecutive year). The Czech battled her way back to the final in China this year, a run highlighted by a three-set SF defeat of the player she calls her tennis idol, Maria Sharapova (on MP #4, after falling down during the rally, no less), in their first career match-up. She ultimately lost to Simona Halep in three sets (w/ a love 3rd) in the final, assuring the Romanian of a featured role in Katerina's bad dreams for a few days, as Halep & Irina-Camelia Begu *also* defeated Siniakova & fellow Czech Barbora Krejcikova in a 10-8 deciding TB in the doubles final. Siniakova had pulled off a 2nd Round upset of Halep en route to her title at the event last year.

Had a lot of fun with cooking traditional sweet dumplings. ????

A post shared by Katerina Siniakova (@siniakovakaterina) on

Kenin, 19, took advantage of her wild card into the Auckland main draw, defeating Jana Fett and Varvara Lepchenko before taking the 1st set from Caroline Wozniacki in a three-set defeat at the hands of the Dane. Nonetheless, it was first career tour-level QF appearance. Kenin reached the 2015 U.S. Open girls singles final, won the USTA's U.S. Open Playoff Challenge in both 2016 and '17, and took down the First Seed Out (#32 Lauren Davis) at last summer's Open at Flushing Meadows.

DOWN: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA and Genie Bouchard/CAN
...well, this feels awfully familiar, doesn't it? The flip of the calendar didn't change the fate of either of 2017's karma queens, as both extended their winless streaks into the new year.

In Brisbane, the losing streak that began last summer in Washington (clears throat... I'm just sayin') hit thirteen as Mladenovic was the first main draw victim of eventual finalist Aliaksandra Sasnovich, falling 1-6/6-3/7-5.

The Pastry didn't even make it to the weekday schedule of Week 2, falling in the Sydney 1st Round on Sunday to #341st-ranked Aussie wild card Ellen Perez when she retired due to the heat while down 6-4/4-2. One is tempted to have sympathy for Mladenovic's plight in this one, as she's seemingly been oh-so-close in recent outings to ending her slump with a victory, but then the thought crosses the mind that she'd likely question her opponent's "lack of constitution" or "professional offseason preparation" (or some similar jab) should she have been on the same end of this match as Perez. So, well...

At any rate, she'll arrive in Melbourne on a 14-match losing streak, the longest in tour history not at least somewhat bolstered by a few wins on the ITF circuit, and just three off the all-time women's record of seventeen in a row.

If one is looking for a "hopeful" note, Mladenovic is *still* two losses off the most recent long losing streak by a WTA player, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova's 16-defeat string in 2016. But while the Pastry is likely to end her slump soon, as she's too talented to flail about forever, can the same be said of Bouchard?

The Canadian ended '17 on a five-match skid, and was just 3-11 after her season-highlight run in Madrid. While her Hopman Cup outings in Perth don't count as *official* matches, Bouchard failed to notch a singles "W" all week, going 0-3 and failing to win a set vs. the likes of Elise Mertens, Dasha Gavrilova and Angelique Kerber. On the final day of round robin play, she even had to skip the tie-ending mixed doubles match alongside Vasek Pospisil with what was listed as a "gluteus maximus injury," which is sort of too perfect for words, really.

It wasn't a good start to an '18 campaign that sets up as something of a season of reckoning for the former two-time slam semifinalist and Wimbledon runner-up (all those results came in 2014, while she's posted just one QF result in the last thirteen majors, and just seven match wins in the last eight). While she's likely to finally see a resolution to her drawn out court case vs. the USTA for her slip-and-concussion locker room incident a few seasons back, what happens *on* the court this year rather than *in* one could prove to be even more contentious. Since her #7 finish in '14, Bouchard's ranking and results have been in steady decline with finishes of #48, #47 and #81. In 2018, unless she can work herself up for a few more instances similar to her attention-getting, well-past-its-expiration-date outrage that fueled her sometimes-brilliant Madrid quarterfinal run last spring, the player who recorded all those "first Canadian to..." results not that long ago could very well lose her standing as the best (or at least highest-ranked) Canadian woman on tour. She entered Week 1 at #83, still holding off the likes of Franckie Abanda (#125), Carol Zhao (#146) and the ever-improving Bianca Andreescu (#189), but her hold on that fleeting, mythical "title" could become very slippery very soon. She's already facing a defense this week of a '17 semifinal in Sydney (w/o those points she'll likely drop outside the Top 100), and the countdown has begun for the defense of her 215-point result in Madrid. Until then...

Or not.
...the 21-year old Aussie (world #378) picked up her second career ITF singles title (in her second final) in the $25K challenger in Playford, South Australia. Hives' week included nice wins over Basak Eraydin, Bianca Andreescu, Marie Bouzkova and 18-year old countrywoman Alexandra Bozovic in a 6-4/5-7/7-6(4) final.

JUNIOR STAR: Fiona Crawley/USA
...the 15-year old from San Antonio picked up the USTA Winter Nationals 18s title in Orlando, Florida. The #17-seed, a finalist in December's Orange Bowl 16s competition, defeated #3-seed Sophia Graver 6-1/7-5 in the final. Here's a rundown of the action by Zoo Tennis's Colette Lewis.

DOUBLES: Kiki Bertens/Demi Schuurs (NED/NED) a week that also included title runs by Irina-Camelia Begu & Simona Halep, as well as Sara Errani & Bibiane Schoofs, it was the all-Dutch duo of Bertens & Schuurs who shined the brightest. In Brisbane, the pair knocked off three of the top four seeds in the event, taking out #3 Gaby Dabrowski/Xu Yifan in a 10-6 TB, #2 Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua in a 10-8 breaker, and then #4 Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez in a straight sets final. It's the first title as a pair for the twosome, who previously reached a tour-level final together last summer on the grass at Rosmalen. Bertens, who usually lifts *her* trophies with Johanna Larsson (9-3 in Kiki's twelve non-Demi finals), now has ten WTA doubles titles to her name, while Schuurs has won four with four different partners.


1. Shenzhen Final - Simona Halep def. Katerina Siniakova
Her win in this final, forced indoors due to the rain, ended Halep's 0-4 run in championship matches since her title in Madrid last spring. This was the first time since 2009 that a tournament's singles final featured players who also faced off in the doubles final. There, as here, Halep (w/ Begu) emerged victorious in Shenzhen.
2. Auckland Final - Julia Goerges def. Caroline Wozniacki
Both players were going for their third straight final win after losses in their previous six finals (Goerges from 2011-17, and Caro all in the '17 season). Wozniacki was looking to claim a title in an eleventh straight season, which would tie her for the fifth-longest streak in WTA history.

3. Brisbane Final - Elina Svitolina def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Svitolina's fifth straight sets win in her six consecutive victorious final appearance. Her only three-setter in the run came vs. Halep in Rome last year.

Whoa. Hold up, 2018. We hadn't even settled into our seats yet when this happened...

4. Brisbane 2nd Round - Aleksandra Krunic def. Garbine Muguruza
...5-7/7-6(3)/1-2 ret.
Muguruza led 7-5/5-2, but was unable to close out the Serb, who'd saved six SP in the 1st before finally dropping the set. Having first started to feel her legs cramping when she led 2-0 in the 2nd, the Spaniard ultimately retired early in the 3rd.

5. Brisbane 1st Rd. - Aliaksandra Sasnovich def. Kristina Mladenovic 1-6/6-3/7-5
Sydney 1st Rd. - Ellen Perez def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-4/4-2 ret.
the non-White House related proof that 2017 stubbornly refuses to die.

6. Brisbane 1st Rd. - Anastasija Sevastova def. Samantha Stosur 6-1/6-3
Brisbane 1st Rd. - Lesia Tsurenko def. Ash Barty 6-3/6-2
generally, another Aussie following in Sam's footsteps would be good thing. Not THESE steps, though.
7. Brisbane 1st Rd. - Alize Cornet def. Caroline Garcia
...3-6/6-3/0-0 ret.
Lower back pain. Tennis Gods... Carl has promised he'll squish you if you do this again.

8. Auckland 1st Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. Madison Brengle
A year ago, BrengleFly upset Serena in Week 1. She's already lost again in Hobart qualifying in Week 2.

9. Auckland 1st Rd. - Sachia Vickery def. Lauren Davis
Last year, Davis started her season by joining Siniakova as a Week 1 maiden title winner. Vickery was part of the whole who-can-lose-first debacle vs. Mertens in Week 2 in '17, as both tried to get out of Dodge in time to play AO qualifying. Vickery did, but lost, while Mertens went out to win her first title. Now, a rule change will prevent such shenanigans from popping up in Week 2 this year.
10. Brisband 1st Rd. - Alize Cornet def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Does MLB have another slam semifinal run in her, or will we have to wait until 2035?
11. Auckland 1st Rd. - Barbora Strycova def. Sara Errani
Wind her up and...

12. Shenzhen Final - Irina-Camelia Begu/Simona Halep def. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova
...1-6/6-1 [10-8].
The Swarmettes won 3rd set tie-breaks en route to winning all four of their matches during the week. Begu has claimed seven tour doubles titles with seven different partners.
HM- Auckland Final - Sara Errani/Bibiane Schoofs def. Eri Hozumi/Miyu Kato
Yes, there is doubles life after Roberta. This is Errani's second title (and third final, all with a different partner) since the end of her Career Doubles Slam winning run with soon-to-retire Italian Vinci.


LATE ADD: Sydney 1st Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. Sloane Stephens
And another '17 slam champ gets caught up in the starting gate.

1. Abu Dhabi (Exibition) - Alona Ostapenko def. SERENA WILLLIAMS
...6-2/3-6 [10-5].
A start (Serena's first outing since the '17 AO title win), but not *the* start, as Williams won't be playing in Melbourne.

Ostapenko will be in the Australian Open, though she's yet to post an official WTA win through two early season events.
2. Shenzhen 1st Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Alona Ostapenko
Here's one of her losses. She fell behind 4-0 in the 1st, then saw the Czech post her second career Top 10 win.

There were none of the in-rally smiles here that we saw in the Serena exo, nor in her 7-6(3)/6-1 loss to Ekaterina Makarova in Sydney on Sunday. Latvian Thunder's game has a microwave quality to it, though, so maybe she'll be able to turn things on at the AO.
3. Auckland QF - Sachia Vickery def. AGA RADWANSKA
2018 is supposed to be different for Aga. Hmmm.
4. Shenzhen Q1 - Jasmine Paolini def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
2018 is supposed to be different for AKS. Hmmm.
5. Brisbane SF - Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez def. LATISHA CHAN/Andrea Sestini Hlavackova
...7-6(3)/3-6 [11-9].
Will doubles #1 Chan Yung-Jan (now officially listed as "Lastisha" by the WTA) be able to match her success with Martina Hingis with her new partner, who has also ordered a now-official name change? Not in Week 1, at least. Chan's last tour-level doubles title with someone other than Hingis or her sister Hao-Ching ("Angel") was back in 2010 (Zheng Jie in Kuala Lumpur).

2002 Venus Williams, USA
2003 Serena Williams, USA
2004 Lindsay Davenport/USA, Eleni Daniilidou/GRE (co-PoW)
2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2007 Dinara Safina, RUS
2008 Li Na, CHN
2009 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2010 Kim Clijsters, BEL
2011 Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Serena Williams, USA
2014 Serena Williams, USA
2015 Maria Sharapova/RUS, Simona Halep/ROU (co-PoW)
2016 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2017 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2018 Simona Halep, ROU

**CAREER WEEK 1 TITLES - active**
2...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2...Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
2...Aga Radwanska, POL
2...Patty Schnyder, SUI
2...Serena Williams, USA
2...Venus Williams, USA
1...Marion Bartoli, FRA
1...Lauren Davis, USA
1...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
1...Kaia Kanepi, EST
1...Petra Kvitova, CZE
1...Karolina Pliskova, CZE
1...Lucie Safarova, CZE
1...Maria Sharapova, RUS
1...Katerina Siniakova, CZE
1...Sloane Stephens, USA
1...Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
NOTE: Srebotnik won 1 singles title; Zheng Jie won 1 singles title

9...Serena Williams, USA
4...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
3...Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
3...Patty Schnyder, SUI
2...Petra Kvitova, CZE
2...Aga Radwanska, POL
2...Maria Sharapova, RUS
2...Venus Williams, USA
NOTE: Zheng Jie won 2 singles titles

1989 Czechoslovakia (Sukova/Mecir)
1990 Spain (A.Sanchez/E.Sanchez)
1991 Yugoslavia (Seles/Prpic)
1992 Switzerland (Maleeva-Fragniere/Hlasek)
1993 Germany (Graf/Stich)
1994 Czech Republic (Novotna/Korda)
1995 Germany (A.Huber/Bo.Becker)
1996 Croatia (Majoli/Ivanisevic)
1997 United States (Gimelstob/Rubin)
1998 Slovak Republic (Habsudova/Kucera)
1999 Australia (Dokic/Philippoussis)
2000 South Africa (Coetzer/W.Ferreira)
2001 Switzerland (Hingis/Federer)
2002 Spain (Sanchez-Vicario/Robredo)
2003 United States (S.Williams/Blake)
2004 United States (Davenport/Blake)
2005 Slovak Republic (Hantuchova/Hrbaty)
2006 United States (Raymond/Dent)
2007 Russia (Petrova/Tursunov)
2008 United States (S.Williams-Shaughnessy/Fish)
2009 Slovak Republic (Cibulkova/Hrbaty)
2010 Spain (Martinez-Sanchez/Robredo)
2011 United States (Mattek-Sands/Isner)
2012 Czech Republic (Kvitova/Berdych)
2013 Spain (Medina-Garrigues/Verdasco)
2014 France (Cornet/Tsonga)
2015 Poland (A.Radwanska/Janowicz)
2016 Australia Green (Gavrilova/Kyrgios)
2017 France (Mladenovic/Gasquet)
2018 Switzerland (Bencic/Federer)

**WTA TITLES - 2016-18**
5 - SIMONA HALEP, ROU [3/1/1]
5 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE [2/3/0]
4 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN [2/2/0]
4 - Caroline Garcia, FRA [2/2/0]
4 - Sloane Stephens, USA [3/1/0]
4 - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK [4/0/0]
14 - Latisha Chan, TPE (3/11/0)
14 - Martina Hingis, SUI (5/9/ret)
10 - Andrea Sestini Hlavackova, CZE (4/6/0)
9 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (5/4/0)
9 - Sania Mirza, IND (8/1/0)
8 - KIKI BERTENS, NED (3/4/1)
8 - Johanna Larsson, SWE (4/4/0)

**CAREER WTA TITLES - active**
72...Serena Williams, USA
49...Venus Williams, USA
36...Maria Sharapova, RUS
27...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
20...Petra Kvitova, CZE
20...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
20...Aga Radwanska, POL
17...Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
15...Jelena Jankovic, SRB

**WTA FINALS - 2015-18**
14 - 5/3/5/1 - SIMONA HALEP (8-6)
14 - 5/8/1/0 - Angelique Kerber (7-7)
14 - 3/2/8/1 - CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (5-9)
13 - 6/4/3/0 - Karolina Pliskova (6-7)
11 - 5/5/1/0 - Serena Williams (8-3)
10 - 1/3/5/1 - ELINA SVITOLINA (8-2)

Gibbsy and the internet... friends, foes or frenemies?

Petra and her doctor... definitely friends for life.

[pre-2000 results]
2000 Mauresmo def. Davenport
2001 Hingis def. Davenport
2002 Hingis def. Shaughnessy
2003 Ciljsters def. Davenport
2004 Henin-Hardenne def. Mauresmo
2005 Molik def. Stosur
2006 Henin-Hardenne def. Schiavone
2007 Clijsters def. Jankovic
2008 Henin def. Kuznetsova
2009 Dementieva def. Safina
2010 Dementieva def. S.Williams
2011 Li Na def. Clijsters
2012 Azarenka def. Li Na
2013 A.Radwanska def. Cibulkova
2014 Pironkova def. Kerber
2015 Kvitova def. Ka.Pliskova
2016 Kuznetsova def. Puig
2017 Konta def. A.Radwanska
[pre-2000 results]
2000 Halard-Decugis/Sugiyama d. Hingis/Pierce
2001 Kournikova/Schett d. Raymond/Stubbs
2002 Raymond/Stubbs w/o Hingis/Kournikova
2003 Clijsters/Sugiyama d. C.Martinez/Stubbs
2004 C.Black/Stubbs d. Safina/Shaughnessy
2005 Stewart/Stosur w/o Dementieva/Sugiyama
2006 Morariu/Stubbs d. Ruano Pascual/Suarez
2007 Groenefeld/Shaughnessy d. Bartoli/Tu
2008 Yan Zi/Zheng Jie d. Perebiynis/Poutchek
2009 Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai d. Dechy/Dellacqua
2010 C.Black/Huber d. Garbin/Petrova
2012 Peschke/Srebotnik d. Huber/Raymond
2013 Petrova/Srebotnik d. Errani/Vinci
2014 Babos/Safarova d. Errani/Vinci
2015 Mattek-Sands/Mirza d. Kops-Jones/Spears
2016 Hingis/Mirza d. Garcia/Mladenovic
2017 Babos/Pavlyuchenkova d. Mirza/Strycova
WS: #1 Muguruza, #2 V.Williams
WD: #1 L.Chan/Sestini Hlavackova, #2 Safarova/Strycova

...Mugu gives it one more try. If she's not yet ready, I'm sure she'll get outta Sydney early (wink, wink) and head for Melbourne.

1994 Endo def. Rachel McQuillan
1995 Meskhi def. Li Fang
1996 Halard-Decugis def. Endo
1997 van Roost def. Werdel Witmeyer
1998 Schnyder def. van Roost
1999 Rubin def. Grande
2000 Clijsters def. Rubin
2001 Grande def. Hopkins
2002 Sucha def. Medina-Garrigues
2003 Molik def. Frazier
2004 Frazier def. Asagoe
2005 Zheng Jie def. Dulko
2006 Krajicek def. Benesova
2007 Chakvetadze def. Bardina
2008 Daniilidou w/o Zvonareva
2009 Kvitova def. Benesova
2010 A.Bondarenko def. Peer
2011 Groth def. Mattek-Sands
2012 Barthel def. Wickmayer
2013 Vesnina def. Barthel
2014 Muguruza def. Zakopalova
2015 Watson def. Brengle
2016 Cornet def. Bouchard
2017 Mertens def. Niculescu
1994 Wild/Rubin d. Byrne/McQuillan
1995 Nagatsuka/Sugiyama d. Bollegraf/Neiland
1996 Basuki/Nagatsuka d. Guse/Park Sung-hee
1997 Kijimuta/Miyagi d. Rittner/Monami
1998 Ruano Pascual/Suarez d. Halard-Decugis/Husarova
1999 de Swardt/Tatarkova d. Dechaume-Balleret/Loit
2000 Grande/Loit d. Clijsters/Molik
2001 C.Black/Likhovtseva d. Dragomir/Ruano Pascual
2002 Garbin/Grande d. Barclay-Reitz/Wheeler
2003 C.Black/Likhovtseva d. Schett/Wartusch
2004 Asagoe/Okamoto d. Callens/Schett
2005 Yan Zi/Zheng Jie d. Medina-Garrigues/Safina
2006 Loit/Pratt d. Craybas/Kostanic
2007 Likhovtseva/Vesnina d. Medina-Garrigues/Ruano Pascual
2008 Medina-Garriges/Ruano Pascual d. Daniilidou/Woehr
2009 Dulko/Pennetta d. A.Bondarenko/K.Bondarenko
2010 Chuang Chia-jung/Peschke d. Chan Yung-Jan/Niculescu
2011 Errani/Vinci d. K.Bondarenko/Dekmeijere
2012 Begu/Niculescu d. Chuang Chia-jung/Erakovic
2013 Muguruza/Torro-Flor d. Babos/Minella
2014 Niculescu/Zakopalova d. Raymond/Zhang Shuai
2015 Bertens/Larsson d. Diatchenko/Niculescu
2016 Han Xinyun/McHale d. Birrell/Wolfe
2017 Olaru/Savchuk d. Dabrowski/Yang Zhaoxuan
WS: #1 Sh.Zhang, #2 Mertens
WD: #1 Olaru/Savchuk, #2 Flipkens/Melichar trophy news...

2017 Wickmayer def. Cirstea


And, unfortunately, not really a big surprise here...

All for now.


Blogger tennisings said...

Did I miss the memo that you weren't going to be doing W/F/SF predictions this year? They will be missed! Thanks as always for your writing.

Sun Jan 07, 08:00:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Thanks. No, I'm still going to be doing them some weeks, just not *every* week. I'll surely be starting off the predictions year with the AO, first off. ;)

(Same with the section with "Eternal Sunshine...," etc. I won't do the same players every week, but will change the groupings up each week -- I've still got a few new players with "dedicated" corners that didn't debut this week, too.)

Mon Jan 08, 12:25:00 AM EST  
Blogger tennisings said...

Glad to hear it! Happy new year :)

Mon Jan 08, 12:52:00 AM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

This was written by me in another tennis blog (Tennisprose) as an answer to a comment that said: Well it wasn't much of a "tennis" game. Mostly just big serves and returns...

I am writing about all Carolines matches in a Danish magazine and have to follow a tournament and how it develops. And this is not an ecuse. Both players had two matches the day before or less. Goerges had the longest rest time and the shortes court time 3h 37m. Caro had rain delays in her longest match 4 times - playing time for that match alone was 2h 27m + rain delays and it was played after Goerges match (no delays). So Caroline had less time to get her body ready again, and I spoke to two journalists on Danish TV2 Sport last year, when she was playing two matches on the same day in rainy!(never rains normally) Doha, about what's happening to the body. Even if you mentally want to play your best the body won't. Next thing about the final. Look at Goerges play she could have beaten anyone on that day because she didn't allow her oponent to play her game. Just look at the stats once more and I hope you agree - so you're right not much of a game but for a reason - OK? Here are the stats - look at aces and winners - actually Carolines numbers are not bad but look at Goerges - she's never played better and will be a dark horse in Ao IMHO.

Happy New Year to you all from the Scandinavian outpost

Mon Jan 08, 05:27:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Azarenka is officially out.

Would have picked Mladenovic over Perez.

Stat of the Week-13*- The amount of Australian Open seeds that did not play a tournament in week 1.

Asterik because Kuznetsova and Williams were not counted.

Not a red flag by itself, but in the last 10 years, technically only 2 players have won the AO without a warmup. They are...your trivia question.

However, almost the whole field rectified that in week 2 as every seed that missed except Pavlyuchenkova and Vandeweghe entered Sydney. Those 2 played Hopman Cup, as well as Kerber and Gavrilova.

Hopman Cup is not only good for tennis, but has been a relevant springboard the last couple of years. If players stay healthy, they can get as many as 4 singles and 4 doubles matches, instead of being one and done and an official event. And the last 4 years-2014 Bouchard/Radwanska, 2015 S.Williams, 2016 S.Williams, 2017 Vandeweghe, at least one player has reached the SF at the Open.

If I had to handicap those?
2/1 Mertens/Vandeweghe
4/1 Kerber/Bencic
6/1 Gavrilova/Pavlyuchenkova
Off Bouchard/Osaka-Inglis

The others that started week 2? V.Williams, Stephens, Vesnina, Rybarikova, Cibulkova, Kvitova, Safarova and Makarova.

The red flag belongs to Peng, who pulled out after the draw was made, so if looking for a seed to go out early, this may be one.

Everybody knows the importance of acclimating themselves to the weather. No shot taken at Mladenovic, as the temp was 117 F. Of those in the Top 100, we only have 6 that haven't played that are still in the draw- Bencic(Hopman), Shelby Rogers, Oceane Dodin, Kateryna Kozlova,Schiavone, and Saisai Zheng. With the exception of Bencic, probably first round exits for most.

Quiz Time!
Who is the last player to win the Australian Open without playing a warmup tournament? Multiple answers accepted.

A.Serena Williams
B.Kim Clisters
C.Victoria Azarenka
D.Maria Sharapova

More Up and Down side as Sydney is a premier, although it is called the Sydney International.

A & D. Sharapova in 2008 is the last to actually do it, but when Serena won in 2015, she played Hopman Cup, so I will give credit for that.

Mon Jan 08, 10:08:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side

1.Makarova-Has a good draw in Sydney, and loves the Open. Had made the 4th rd or better there 7 yrs in a row.
2.Bellis- Playing the long game here. Ended her 5 match losing streak, that due to her season ending early, dated back to Toronto. Also due to starting her year late last year, and playing ITF's in 2016, that was her first tour win in Australia.
3.Sestini-The Great Sestini? Sounds like a magician. Actually it is officially Sestini Hlavackova, the current YEC doubles winner, that picked up the magician's assistant in Chan. Chan is a #1 that manages to still be underrated, so even with the lack of match play, the should be one of the Open favorites.
4.Sasnovich/Sabalenka- Belarus' right handed answer to Czech lefties Safarova/Kvitova. Sasnovich will be the Lucie, a tough out everywhere, while Aryna is Petra, the mercurial one who will make it look easy when she is on. Safarova reached a slam QF in her 7th slam, Kvitova her 9th(SF). Sasnovich is playing her 12th, so it is coming soon. And if Sabalenka can get by Zhang, she might make another final.
5.Tomljanovic- Was on the list before Azarenka's pullout. This makes it easier, as she now gets Vika's WC. While we talk about players like Wozniacki having 50 win seasons, for Tomljanovic, the goal is to temper expectations until she can play 50 matches. After only playing 2 in 2016, she played exactly 50 in 2017, helped by those 125's. If there is a player to pick to have a deep slam run, or win a title like Kuala Lumpur, she is it. She's in form.

Mon Jan 08, 10:27:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side

1.Bouchard- Former NBA coach Frank Layden once said "You can't teach Height." Unfortunately, Bouchard is a 5-10 player that plays like she is 5-2. Always willing to to the Kerber/Radwanska crouch and rally, but it doesn't suit her game. Rarely goes for winners(she had 13 vs 27 errors in on Hopman match), and only goes for the forehand down the line. Look no farther than Goerges, who always had the serve and forehand, but can now step in and hit winners off the backhand. Bouchard should emulate that.
2.Suarez Navarro- Of all the players I saw if the first week, she may have been the most disappointing. Already known as a finesse player, she has lost power, and her movement is suspect. Unseeded, she is staring at a below.500 season, even on clay.
3.S.Williams-Down because father time is catching up. Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So I was going to pick Serena to go out in the 4th rd. Why? Because she had done this before. In 2011,she had been off for 11 months, but came in as the defending Wimbledon champ, ranked 25th(would have been 23rd at AO), but seeded 7th. Took a Top 10 player in Bartoli to take her out, which isn't a bad loss for mere mortals, but that is what makes Serena who she is. Two months after, she reached a slam final. Two months from now? Miami, which I assume is the next benchmark. If she doesn't play there, we may not see her until Wimbledon.
4.Ostapenko-Down, but not for the reason you think. See above. Serena isn't going to be around forever. So playing a once in a lifetime exo isn't the problem. Check chasing is, especially for a slam winner. But this is what 20 year olds do. Playing the exo-good. Having to go play 3700 miles away less that 3 days later? Bad. Having to go 4600 miles from Shenzhen to Sydney? Worse. Plus, the fact that she lost to Kr.Pliskova and Makarova may mean we have a thing. As in she has lost 4 of her last 5 against lefties-the one win being the Seoul final vs Haddad Maia.
5.Stephens-I was going to put Davis here(Mladenovic free until the AO draw), but Sloane managed to copy Serena the one time you don't want to-neither of them has won a match since winning a slam. Counting Fed Cup, 7 losses and counting, and if there is ever a time you can get away with putting a slam winner, much less a current one, on an outside court, this may be it.

Mon Jan 08, 10:48:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, Auckland's schedule was really overturned by the rain, but handling all those wayward and sometimes unbalanced situations is how it goes sometimes. Caro was happy with her prep, and that matters at this point more than a title, anyway.

The AO has produced quite a few surprising/new semifinalists in recent (almost every year for a while, actually) seasons, and maybe Goerges will fill that role this time around. Of course, in the past predicting Goerges in slams has almost been like predicting Pavlyuchenkova or Kuznetsova in them. But maybe that's all changed now. Hmmm.

I added the Vika announcement to the end of the post last night. Not really a surprise, unfortunately. Hard to see her situation being good for anyone involved, least of all her son.

Ha. Yes, Kiki would have probably said the same about Perez. ;)

Quiz: Hmmm, of course, I'm tempted to pick Serena, but it feels like she's often played a tune-up of some kind. So I went with Sharapova, though your "multiple answers" options makes me think Serena probably did it twice or something. :/

[Ah, so I got that one right, I guess. :)]

Oh, and nice comeback win today by Kerber vs. Safarova (saving MPs in the 2nd, then pulling away in the 3rd). Maybe she IS back. Versus Venus next.

As I noted in the Prediction Blowout, Serena being Serena, we always expect a great deal from her for good reason, but the thought was there that we may be jumping the gun a bit on her this time by expecting too much too soon. You're right that Miami is likely the next point to check in for a progress report, and it sort of institutes a "ticking clock" for the rest of the tour to take advantage of the remaining time left before they find out just how Serena will arrive on the scene when she finally does.

Hmmm, very good point about the mileage counter on Ostapenko in the first week of 2018. At least now she's got extra time to settle down and live in one time zone in Melbourne.

Oh, you're right... Sloane's streak is right up there with Bouchard's (she lost again today, hardly surprisingly, to Sabalenka in Hobart), though Mladenovic's is still a few months away.

Mon Jan 08, 11:19:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Correction to one thing I posted about the players that haven't played yet-Zheng Saisai had already withdrawn from the Open.

Was going to save this for after the MD comes out, but it is worth mentioning. As much as I have been picking on Stephens, Keys hasn't won a match since the USO either, though that is mainly due to an injury break.

Tue Jan 09, 12:46:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, through two official matches in 2018, Kerber has put together two comeback wins after dropping the 1st set. In the *entire* 2017 season, she was 3-22 after losing the opening set, and lost her last eight such matches (her last win from a set down had been vs. Shelby Rogers at last year's Wimbledon).

Vs. Cibulkova next.

Tue Jan 09, 01:26:00 PM EST  

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