Sunday, February 04, 2018

Wk.5- SuperPetra Conquers All

"You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And, sometimes, you just don't mess around with SuperPetra."

Showing lethal form in Saint Petersburg (or was it "Saint Petrasburg?"), Petra Kvitova put forth the sort of sustained level of performance that has sometimes left former slam champions and Hall of Famers with jaws dropped, singing her praises and declaring her the next, great, dominant figure in women's tennis.

Kvitova played five matches en route to her 21st career tour title, leaving the likes of Elena Vesnina (2 games), Alona Ostapenko (2) and defending champ Kristina Mladenovic (3) gasping in her wake, Irina-Camelia Begu (who won a 6-1 set between 3 & 1 losses) feeling pretty good about herself and, maybe, only Julia Goerges (vanquished "just" 5-7/6-4/6-2 in the SF) feeling as if she may have had even a slight chance to alter the Czech's inevitable march toward lifting the championship trophy. Kvitova dropped seventeen games in four matches, with thirteen addition being surrendered to Goerges alone in a fifth. Otherwise, her path was a fairly uncluttered stroll, easily her best week since her return from hand and finger injuries sustained in a home invasion in December 2016.

Of course, this is also the same Kvitova whose last match before heading to Saint Petersburg was a marathon 1st Round loss in Melbourne to Andrea Petkovic (who lost in qualifying in Russia to soon-to-retire Roberta Vinci) which ended with a 10-8 3rd set that finally went in the German's favor when Kvitova double-faulted on MP. But that match took place in outdoors in the Australian summer heat, while this week's event was in a controlled indoor climate. Indoor Petra has always been a force to reckon with, though injuries, illness and lack of match play have served to somewhat dull that particular edge the last couple of seasons (which included a 0-3 indoor mark in Fed Cup play in '16). Still, she's the tour's active career match win leader indoors, and eight of her twenty-eight career tour finals have come in event under a roof, including three of her last four.

So, January gave us Caro, Simona and Angie, raising the bar to clear ever higher for future months in 2018... and now month #2 immediately responds with Petra.

Bravo, February. Bravo.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUS (Premier/Hard Indoor)
S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Kristina Mladenovic/FRA 6-1/6-2
D: Timea Bacsinszky/Vera Zvonareva (SUI/RUS) d. Alla Kudryavtseva/Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) 2-6/6-1 [10-3]
TAIPEI CITY, TPE (Int'l/Hard Indoor)
S: Timea Babos/HUN def. Kateryna Kozlova/UKR 7-5/6-1
D: Duan Yingying/Wang Yafan (CHN/CHN) d. Nao Hibino/Oksana Kalashnikova (JPN/GEO) 7-6(4)/7-6(5)

...Petra wasn't messin' around in Russia, as she colluded with the Tennis Gods to obstruct any sort of personal justice that the likes of several of her younger opponents (and a couple her senior) may have been hoping to attain. Call her what you will. Good Petra, Lethal Petra, Scary Petra... take your pick, or make up your own. It's all good.

RISERS: Timea Babos/HUN and Dasha Kasatkina/RUS
...while her AO title-winning teammate Kiki Mladenovic garnered more attention all week in Saint Petersburg, it was Babos (also a MX finalist in Melbourne) who was the AO WD champ leaving Week 5 with a singles title in Taipei City. The Hungarian's third career singles title run included wins over Arina Rodionova, Dalila Jakupovic, Magda Linette, Wang Yafan and Kateryna Kozlova in the final. Babos dropped just one set all week (2nd Rd. to qualifier Jakupovic), and also reached the WD semis as the #1 seed with defending champion Angel Chan (who'd won the title the last two years w/ sister Latisha). Babos has gone a combined 17-2 in singles, doubles and mixed since following up her win over CoCo Vandeweghe in the AO 1st Round with a loss to Carla Suarez-Navarro.

For a bit, Kasatkina's history of superior tour-level results on Russian soil -- a RU, two SF and a QF in singles, plus a doubles W and RU from 2015-17 -- looked as if it would produce a rare lemon smashed against a brick wall in the form of teenager Viktoria Kuzmova. The teen Slovak was dominating the Hordette in their 1st Round match, only to begin to lose her grip late in the 2nd set and then see Kasatkina's blend of defense and opportunistic offense snatch the victory from her grasp. She followed up with wins over Alize Cornet and a (finally tiring) Caroline Wozniacki for her second career #1 victory (w/ Kerber' 17). Kasatkina led defending champ Mladenovic by a set and a break in the semis, only to see the Pastry rise up and take control of the match and return to the final. The semifinal result still isn't enough to finally allow Kasatkina to break into the Top 20, though, as she's 120 points out and, with Kvitova's title on Sunday, Dasha will actually slip back one spot on Monday to #24.

SURPRISES: Wang Yafan/CHN and Kateryna Kozlova/UKR
...#152 Wang, in the Taipei City draw with a protected ranking (she missed the first five months of '17), shined in both singles and doubles. Wins over Risa Ozaki, Pauline Parmentier and Genie Bouchard put the 23-year old into her third career WTA semi ('14 Guangzhou, '17 Nanchang). In doubles, Wang and Duan Yingying didn't drop a set on their way to the title, experiencing both extremes of straight sets wins in the semis (love & love over Chang/Chuang) and final (7-6/7-6 over Hibino/Kalashnikova). It's Wang's third tour-level WD title (she won two with Liang Chen in '15) in her fifth final, with all coming in Asia (Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur-2, Zhuhai & Taipei City).

Kozlova, 23, became the fourth different Ukrainian (K.Bondarenko, Svitolina & Tsurenko) to reach a tour final over the past year, advancing to her maiden tour-level championship match in Taipei City with wins over #2-seeded Zhang Shuai, Duan Yingying, Yulia Putintseva and Sabine Lisicki. She fell in straights to Timea Babos. Kozlova has now posted her two best career singles results since summer, also winning a WTA 125 Series title in Dalian in September. She'll jump twenty spots to a new career high of #65 this week.


VETERANS: Julia Goerges/GER and Roberta Vinci/ITA
...her role as semifinal victim who found herself in the unfortunate path of the Petra Express in the semis aside, Goerges had another good week. Saint Petersburg wins over Maria Sakkari, Roberta Vinci and Magdalena Rybarikova ran her record to 18-1 going back to last fall before she was ultimately ousted in three sets by the eventual champion Czech. But what Kvitova taketh away, she also giveth... as Petra's win over Mladenovic in the final allowed Goerges to climb over the Pastry and into the Top 10 for the first time. She's the eighth German woman to do so, and the first since Angie Kerber made her debut in 2012. With Kerber also there after her AO semi run, it'll be the first time in twenty-one years that *two* Germans have been ranked in the Top 10 (Graf & Huber) at the same time.

Meanwhile, as Vinci makes her way closer to her announced retirement event in Rome this spring, the 34-year old (ranked #147) made a stop in Saint Petersburg, where she'd been crowned the champion in the event's maiden outing as a tour-level event in 2016. Entered in the qualifying, Vinci reached the MD with victories over Heather Watson, Danka Kovinic and Andrea Petkovic, then added a 1st Round win over Tereza Martincova before falling 7-5/6-0 to Goerges. If this result is a good omen for her final stretch of events, Vinci may yet have a few good moments left to show us before she exits through the out door.

COMEBACKS: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA, Sabine Lisicki/GER and Rebecca Marino/CAN
...while Mladenovic wasn't able to follow up her AO doubles title with a rebound week that included a successful defense of her only WTA singles title, she surely rediscovered the form and confidence that totally abandoned her on the massive 15-match losing streak that started last summer and didn't end until she posted a 2nd Round win in Saint Petersburg over Dominika Cibulkova. Following that win, in true Kiki style, she declared herself cured and patted herself on the back for never being bothered by outside negativity, while failing to recognize the reason for such reactions against her was her *own* nastiness and negativity toward others. Needless to say, I was shocked by the development... shocked, I say.

To her credit on the court, Mladenovic only got better as the week progressed, taking out Katerina Siniakova and keeping Dasha Kasatkina at bay (being especially impressive by upping her aggression in tight 3rd set moments vs. the Russian) while returning to the singles final riding a nine-match winning streak in the event. As long as the beatdown she suffered at the hands of a peerless Petra Kvitova (it's not as if she was the only player to be ambushed by the Czech) doesn't shake her confidence yet again, Mladenovic can likely consider her "blue period" over as she heads into the spring. Of note, after *rising* into the Top 10 after losing her fifteenth straight match in Australia, the Pastry will now slip back to #13 after finally righting the ship. Ah, 2018.

In Taipei City, Lisicki made a surprisingly sharp return to action following a late '17 knee injury. This was the second straight year in which the oft-injured German's season kicked off late, having missed the opening five and half months of last season with a bad shoulder. In 2017, she opened with a QF run in Mallorca, but never reached a tour-level semi all season (and only played in any singles SF in the WTA 125 event in Limoges in November). Lisicki quickly knocked down that door last week, but only after staging a comeback from 5-1 (and double MP) down in the 3rd in the 1st Round against #360 Zhang Yuxuan. After a win over Nao Hibino, she once again battled back from a set down to defeat Monica Niculescu. Lisicki fell in the semis to Kateryna Kozlova, but has reason to be thrilled by this initial result. She'll jump seventy-two spots to #174 on Monday.

And, in some very nice news, Canada's Marino returned in fine form from a five-year absence brought on by depression. The 27-year old announced her intention to return last October, but saw administrative regulations delay her comeback by three months. Finally, last week, in her first tournament of any kind since playing a tour-level event in Memphis in 2013, she hit the court in a $15K in Antalya, Turkey. Marino made her way through qualifying, ultimately winning seven matches without dropping a set, including a 6-3/6-3 win in the final over Romanian Christine Ene to claim her sixth career ITF crown, her first since 2012. A Top 40 player in 2011, Marino reached a WTA singles final that season, finished as runner-up to Magdalena Rybarikova in an event in Memphis that February.

FRESH FACES: Elena Rybakina/RUS, Anastasia Potapova/RUS and Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
...even while it was the site of a slew of successful comebacks, Saint Petersburg also hosted some early signature moments in the careers of several teens.

18-year old Russian Rybakina -- last year's #3-ranked junior behind #1 Whitney Osuigwe ('17 RG champion) and #2 Marta Kostyuk ('17 AO), and ahead of Claire Liu ('17 Wimbledon), Liang En-shuo ('18 AO) and Amanda Anisimova ('17 U.S.) -- shined the brighest in front of the home fans. After making her way through qualifying, she posted her first career WTA MD victory over the returning Timea Bacsinszky, then staged multiple comebacks (down a set and a break twice, and facing a MP) in pulling the upset of Caroline Garcia to record her first Top 10 win in just her second official outing on tour. She lost to Julia Goerges in the QF, but only after jumping to a 3-0 lead in the 1st set before the veteran took control and won twelve of the final fifteen games. She jumps from #450 to #268 on Monday.

16-year old Hordette Potapova, the '16 Wimbledon girls champ, used her wild card into the MD to great benefit, knocking off German vet Tatjana Maria to notch her first career tour-level MD victory. She fell in short order a round later to Caroline Wozniacki. Still, Potapova will move up thirty-one spots this week and break into the Top 200 for the first time.

Meanwhile, 19-year old Slovak Kuzmova (Backspin's "Name You'll Know..." pick for '18, of course) powered her way through qualifying, putting up wins over Dayana Yastremska (the '16 Wimbledon Jr. RU months before Kuzmova was the same at the U.S. Open that summer) and #2-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova, then was out-hitting Dasha Kasatkina at every turn in the first third of their 1st Round encounter. The world #122, coming off an AO qualifying run, led by a set and and break at 4-3 in the 2nd before feeling her nerves and having too many errors creep into her game. Kasatkina settled, played some spectacular defense, and waited out the youngster, winning in three sets. Kuzmova will tick up one spot on Monday to a new career high of #121.

DOWN: Caroline Garcia/FRA and Alona Ostapenko/LAT a week in which her countrywoman, former doubles partner and one-time civil acquaintance fed off of her recent doubles success in Melbourne, Garcia failed to do the same following her own Round of 16 AO result. In her lone Saint Petersburg match, the Pastry had multiple opportunities to put away young Hordette Elena Rybakina (#450) only to fall to teenager in the 2nd Round. Garcia twice held a set-and-a-break lead, served for the match at 6-4/5-4, led 3-0 and 4-1 in the 2nd set TB and held a MP against the Russian, and then found herself in the unenviable position, down MP, of having to argue with the chair umpire over her refusal to replay the final point in which her swing and netted forehand was likely interfered with by an incorrect linesperson's call (the ball was called out close enough to Garcia's swing to make it questionable, and the umpire corrected the call to "in," which was backed up by replay, and awarded the youngster the point), therefore forcing Rybakina to awkwardly wait at the net for the dust to settle before she could shake hands following the first Top 10 win of her career.

Meanwhile, Ostapenko's slow start carried over another week, as she struggled for a set against veteran Vera Zvonareva before pulling away, then was wiped out by Great Petra love & 2 in the QF. It's hardly time for panic on the Latvian Thunder front, though, as she took a bit of time to get fully engaged a season ago, as well. In 2017, she started 5-3, which a retirement loss in her opening match and a 1st Round exit in Saint Petersburg. She ultimately ended the year on a 26-9 run that began with her Roland Garros title. In 2018, she's 3-4, not including that exhibition "win" over Serena Williams.
ITF PLAYERS: Madison Brengle/USA and Marta Kostyuk/UKR
...Brengle claimed the first $100 ITF challenger of the season, winning the Midland, Michigan event to pick up the biggest title of her career. Going the entire week without dropping a set, Brengle posted wins over Jil Teichmann, Julia Boserup, Evgeniya Rodina, #1-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu and Jamie Loeb in the final. Loeb had already upset the #2 (Jen Brady) and #4 (Sonya Kenin) seeds, and had been looking to add another over #3-seed Brengle She'd been 7-1 in pro finals before losing on Sunday. Brengle, 27, started 2018 at 1-3, with losses to the likes of Wozniacki, Nara and Konta in tour-level events. But she's proven over the last three seasons that she can spark with a great result when she's on her game, which she was happy to say she was his past week. Her 2015-17 highlights included three Top 10 wins over Serena Williams (she's the last player to defeat her, in fact, in January '17) and Petra Kvitova (twice), as well as an appearance in a tour-level final in Hobart in '15.

Meanwhile, Kostyuk is still ripping it up Down Under. Already with a history of success in Australia (one year after being Backspin's AO "Junior Breakout" winner with her title run, she was the "Q-Player of the Week" and "It Teen" this January en route to reaching the 3rd Round as a 15-year old), last week she wandered (by air) 229 miles over the Bass Strait from Melbourne, Victoria to Burnie, Tasmania, where she picked up her second -- and biggest -- career pro title, taking the $60K challenger with a 6-4/6-3 win in the final over Viktorija Golubic.



JUNIOR STAR: Gabriella Price/USA
...touted as a "future great" since she was a pre-teen -- and compared favorably to the likes of Jennifer Capriati, no less -- the now 14-year old Price picked up her first career Grade 1 junior title at the Mundial Juvenil event in Ecuador, a follow up to her semifinal result at the Grade 1 in Barranquilla, Colombia a week ago. The #9 seed, Price didn't drop a set in her five matches, defeating the #5 (3rd Rd.) and #3 (Guam's Maria Gabriela Rivera Corado in a 7-6(5)/6-4 final) seeds en route to the title, which will lift her from #148 into the Top 100 in the girls rankings.

DOUBLES: Timea Bacsinszky/Vera Zvonareva (SUI/RUS) one could have rightly expected the weeks of Bacsinszky (back after a six-month absence due to what was apparently a *career*-threatening hand injury) and Zvonareva (just inside the Top 200 after her return to the tour after getting married and having a child) to end with a doubles title, but 2018 is proving to be like that.

Their appearances in singles had been highlights of the early rounds, as Bacsinszky's long-awaited return ended after just one match (a lost to Elena Rybakina) while Zvonareva's (a 1st Round win over a retiring/ill Kiki Bertens, then a tighter-than-expected straight sets loss to Alona Ostapenko) was on the surprising side of the ledger. But their extended stay proved to be the *real* show, as the pair won a 10-8 TB over Kalinskaya/Lapko in the QF, upset #1-seeded Dabrowski/Xu in the semis, and then won another deciding TB in the final over Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik by a 10-3 score. Bacsinszky's last doubles title came in 2014, though she'd since won Silver in the Rio Olympics with Martina Hingis, as well as reached the Biel final with the Swiss Miss last year. Zvonareva, back from her two-year break and now able to celebrate her title close to home with her daughter Evelyn, last picked up a WD title with Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Australian Open in 2012. Her singles results will allow her to jump twenty-eight spots in rankings to #169 on Monday.


Slam Champions: After the Glory...

Episode 1: Diede the Great & Grandma

After her AO title, de Groot is just 135 points behind #1 Yui Kamiji

Episode 2: You Can Take the Canadian Out of Canada, but...

1. Saint Petersburg 2nd Rd. - Elena Rybakina def. Caroline Garcia
The Garcia 2.0 that we saw in the closing weeks of 2017 wasn't in evidence here, as the Pasty twice led by a set and a break, failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the 2nd, couldn't convert a MP and dropped a TB she led 3-0 and 4-1 as the #450-ranked teenager forced a 3rd set and won it in another TB to notch her first career Top 10 win. Finally, Garcia failed to convince the umpire to replay her lost MP, during which she fired a forehand into the net at approximately the same time (give or take) that a linesperson shouted an incorrect line call.
2. Taipei City 1st Rd. - Sabine Lisicki def. Zhang Yuxuan
Sure, it was #246 vs. #360, but it was Lisicki's first match back from her latest injury (knee), and she had to battle back from 5-1 down, and double MP, in the 3rd set to get the win en route to what turned out to be a season-opening semifinal result. 2018.

3. Taipei City 2nd Rd. - Magda Linette def. Johanna Larsson
In 3:08, Linette and Larsson shared a total of nine MP, with Linette finally winning on her fifth. She'd led 4-1, twice served for the win and held four MP in the 2nd only to see Larsson force a TB and win it, then Linette staged her own comeback from 5-3 down and saved four Larsson MP in the 3rd to force another TB, where *she* finally won it.

4. Saint Petersburg 1st Rd. - Dasha Kasatkina def. Viktoria Kuzmova
Kuzmova out-hit Kasatkina while building a 6-1/4-3 with a break lead, but the #122-ranked Slovak stumbled near the finish and Kasatkina's less powerful, but more consistent game rose to the occasion to get the win. And...
5. Saint Petersburg QF - Dasha Kasatkina def. Caroline Wozniacki
After putting up a fight in the 1st, and threatening to get back on serve after having fallen behind 5-2 in the 2nd (hey, she did it at 5-1 down vs. Fett in Melbourne), Wozniacki's three-week run of perfection finally ran out of steam. Kasatkina is now tied with Maria Sharapova for the most #1 wins (of 7) posted by Russians since the start of the 2012 season.

6. Saint Petersburg SF - Kristina Mladenovic def. Dasha Kasatkina
The Russian opened the week by falling behind a set and a break to Kuzmova and winning, and she ended it by taking a set and a break lead and losing to Mladenovic. The Pastry's strong and aggressive play in the clutch down the stretch prevented Kasatkina from taking advantage of the opportunities she *did* have to get back on serve.
7. Saint Petersburg Final - Petra Kvitova def. Kristina Mladenovic
In 1:05, with thirty winners in fifteen games, Kvitova treated the defending champion like an overmatched hitting partner.

8. Taipei City Final - Timea Babos def. Kateryna Kozlova
Before this loss by Kozlova, Ukrainians had won in their last eight appearances in WTA singles finals since the start of 2017.

9. Taipei City 1st Rd. - Genie Bouchard def. Zhu Lin 1-6/7-5 2-0 ret.
Taipei City 2nd Rd. - Genie Bouchard def. Ana Bogdan 7-5/7-5
Taipei City QF - Wang Yafan def. Genie Bouchard 6-4/6-0
the week that was for Bouchard. She finally notched her first back-to-back wins since her Madrid QF run last May, but then was easily bounced by the world #152. Of course, she had other things to get attention for... err, I mean do this weekend. So...

CANADIAN RANKINGS UPDATE: #116 Bouchard, #123 Abanda, #138 Zhao, #173 Andreescu

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
10. Saint Petersburg 1st Rd. - Anastasia Potapova def. Tatjana Maria 6-2/6-4
Saint Petersburg 1st Rd. - Elena Rybakina def. Timea Bacsinszky 6-4/6-3
the next Revolution begins, with two Hordettes getting their maiden MD wins on home soil.
11. Saint Petersburg Q1 - Oceane Dodin def. Bojana Jovanovski
BoJo makes her return... and in Saint Petersburg, RUSSIA, not Florida. Progress.
12. Saint Petersburg Q1 - Jana Cepelova def. Sara Errani
While Vinci qualified and won a 1st Round match...
13. Saint Petersburg Q2 - Deborah Chiesa def. Jana Fett
Fett got a "match after" win in qualifying, but then fell to the world #185. I know the match is easy, but that's 184 places below Wozniacki.
14. Saint Petersburg 2nd Rd. - Katerina Siniakova def. Ekaterina Makarova
The Czech saved SP in the 1st, then rallied from 4-1 down in the 2nd.
15. $60K Burnie Final - Vania King/Laura Robson def. Momoko Kobori/Chihiro Muramatsu
After defeating #1-seeded Krejcikova/Stojanovic in the semis, King and Robson take the crown. It's the first title for the returning-from-ankle-surgery King since 2016.

HM- Taipei City 1st Rd. - Nao Hibino def. Samantha Stosur
Fighting to stay in the Top 50, Stosur is off to a 1-4 start in 2018. Since her Strasbourg title run in May, she's gone 7-10 while missing time last summer (including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) with a hand injury.


1. First Photo of the 2037 Wimbledon Champion?


The world according to Petko...

Hmmm, maybe the WTA should consider separate "Top Performance" and "Player of the Month" honors in months with include majors. Otherwise, something just doesn't *feel* right.

**WTA TITLES - 2016-18**
7 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [1/5/1]
5 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN [2/2/1]
5 - Simona Halep, ROU [3/1/1]
5 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE [2/3/0]
4 - Angelique Kerber, GER [3/0/1]
4 - PETRA KVITOVA, CZE [2/1/1]
4 - Caroline Garcia, FRA [2/2/0]
4 - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK [4/0/0]
4 - Sloane Stephens, USA [3/1/0]

**WTA FINALS - 2015-18**
15 - 5/3/5/2 - Simona Halep (8-7)
15 - 5/8/1/1 - Angelique Kerber (8-7)
15 - 3/2/8/2 - Caroline Wozniacki (6-9)
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)
9 - 4/3/1/1 - PETRA KVITOVA (7-2)
8 - 4/3/1/0 - Aga Radwanska (6-2)
8 - 3/2/3/0 - Venus Williams (4-4)
8 - 0/7/1/0 - Dominika Cibulkova (4-4)
8 - 1/2/3/1 - KRISTINA MLADENOVIC (1-7)

[extended in '18]
11 years - Serena Williams (2007-17)
11 years - Caroline Wozniacki (2008-18)
8 years - Petra Kvitova (2011-17)
6 years - Simona Halep (2013-18)
6 years - Elina Svitolina (2013-18)
5 years - Karolina Pliskova (2013-17)
4 years - Garbine Muguruza (2014-17)

Shenzhen: Simona Halep, ROU (F-Siniakova)
Brisbane: Elina Svitolina, UKR (SF-Ka.Pliskova)

#122 Sachia Vickery/USA (Auckland)
#103 Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE (Auckland)
#100 Camila Giorgi/ITA (Sydney)

[in final]
Brisbane - Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR (23, #88, Q) = L
[lost in SF]
Auckland - Sachia Vickery, USA (#122, Q)
Sydney - Camila Giorgi, ITA (#100, Q)
Hobart - Heather Watson, GBR (#74, Q)
[WTA 125]
Newport Beach - Danielle Collins, USA (#162, WC) = W
Newport Beach - Sofya Zhuk, RUS (#180, Q) = RU
Newport Beach - Mayo Hibi, JPN (#232, Q) = SF

**WTA TOP 10 DEBUTS - 2016-18**
2016 [4] Bencic,Vinci,Keys,Konta
2017 [5] Svitolina,Ostapenko,Garcia,Mladenovic,Vandeweghe
2018 [1] GOERGES

1981 Syvlia Hanika
1981 Bettina Bunge
1984 Claudia Kohde-Kilsch
1985 Steff Graf
1992 Anke Huber
2011 Andrea Petkovic
2012 Angelique Kerber

**#1 WINS BY RUSSIANS - since 2012**
2012: #2 Maria Sharapova d. Azarenka (Stuttgart F)
2012: #2 Maria Sharapova d. Azarenka (WTA SF)
2016: #19 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. S.Williams (Miami 4r)
2017: #26 DASHA KASATKINA d. Kerber (Sydney 2r)
2017: #16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Kerber (Monterrey F)
2017: #40 Ekaterina Makarova d. Kerber (Roland Garros 1r)
2018: #23 DASHA KASATKINA d. Wozniacki (St.Petersburg SF)

6 yr - CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (Jan.2012-Jan.2018, 312 wks)
5 yr,1m - Serena Williams (Aug.2003-Sep.2008, 265 wks)
4 yr,11m - Kim Clijsters (Mar.2006-Feb.2011, 256 wks)
4 yr - Maria Sharapova (Jun.2008-Jun.2012, 208 wks)
3 yr - Chris Evert (Jun.1982-Jun.1985, 156 wks)
2 yr,9m - Lindsay Davenport (Jan.2002-Oct.2004, 144 wks)

Shenzhen: Begu/Halep (F-Krejcikova/Siniakova)
Auckland: Errani/Schoofs (F-Hozumi/Kato)
Sydney: Dabrowski/Xu (F-L.Chan/S.-Hlavackova)

Coffee Bowl: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Copa Barranquilla: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Traralgon: Liang En-shou/TPE
Prague: Maria Timofeeva/RUS
Australian Open: Liang En-shuo/TPE
Mundial Juvenil: Gabriella Price/USA
Ascuncion Bowl: [February]
Banana Bowl: [February]
Yeltsin Cup: [February]

57...Chris Evert
52...Billie Jean King
34...Rosie Casals
33...Lindsay Davenport
31...Martina Navratilova
23...Gigi Fernandez
23...Kathy Jordan
ALSO: S.Williams (16), Vandeweghe (12)

The opening round of Fed Cup competition in 2018 arrives next weekend. I'll be back later this week with my preview and picks.

And, finally...

Nine slam singles titles... and Elena Dementieva. (Sorry, that was too easy to pass up.)

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Petra obliterated the field this week.

Always love trophy pics with kids in them. They can look back at them years from now and realize they were included-re Zvonareva/Bacsinszky.

Nike always has Color Rush type stuff. So why are this year's outfits the same style and color for all?

Stat of the Week-14-The amount of slams won by members of the San Jose State University Hall of Fame.

That may surprise you. But it is not fake news, just that I left out one very important fact. That these wins are from LPGA members.

I wanted to use tennis stats, but although the men have 7 members in their HOF, actually 6, as one person is in both as a player and coach, the woman don't have any.

So why is this relevant? It shows that SJSU has been able to support women's sports, and with the news last week that the Stanford tournament is now going to be played at the campus of San Jose State, plus adding a 4,000 seat stadium, SJSU will become relevant in college tennis.

Stanford has won 19 titles, SJSU none. But SJSU has been mediocre at best. Stanford has had 35 20 win seasons. SJSU? None. In fact, Stanford has more titles than SJSU has had winning seasons-14, with a program that only has played 3 less years than Stanford. But with a WTA tourney on campus, it becomes a great recruiting tool if used wisely, especially for a sport that recruits so many foreign players.

Oh, you probably want to know who those slam winners are. Actually, they are names that most casual sports fans know-Pat Hurst, Patty Sheehan, and Juli Inkster.

Quiz Time!
26 women have won Stanford at least once. Aleksandra Wozniak was the only winner who was never Top 10 in her career, which means her odds of winning were twice as good as a QB catching a TD in the Super Bowl. But of the HOF/Slam winners, who had the most titles there?

A.Kim Clijsters
B.Serena Williams
C.Martina Navratilova
D.Chris Evert

I will piggyback on the Fed Cup picks later in the week, although without changes, Germany and Ukraine are on the hit list.

It is not Williams, who might have been a good guess for a couple of reasons, even though her 3 puts her with Evert on the bottom of this list. Of the 4 listed, she is the only one not to have lost a final. Also, because you might have got her results confused with Venus, who also won twice. Venus also lost 4 times, which ties her with Navratilova as having the most losses. But C is the answer, as Martina reached the final 9 times.

Mon Feb 05, 09:22:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

OT-but I have to tease you.

2007 Michigan State Depth Chart
1-Brian Hoyer-SB52
2-Kirk Cousins
3-Nick Foles-SB52

Cousins' backup has a ring. With that said, why does the front office hate Cousins? Smith isn't Manning, so you guys are trading a guy in his prime, for one with 7 yrs more experience.

Mon Feb 05, 09:32:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yes, I never mentioned that the tournament was saved for the area with the deal between SJ State and IMG. Great work by both.

Ah, went with Clijsters (4-1 in finals).

Preaching to the choir on the Cousins/Redskins stuff, for the most part. Generally, I think Cousins and Smith are pretty close to being the same player at QB, with Smith (who *should* be able to plug into Jay Gruden's offense well) getting a big nod as far as being able to use his feet to make plays, and Cousins somewhat evening things out by being 5-6 years younger. If they'd offered him the contract two years ago that they're giving Smith now the stupid offseason/in-season will he/won't he/will they/won't ridiculousness would never have happened. They low-balled him with their offer after his first year as starter, and I don't think he or his agent ever forgot it, and had their sights set on eventual free agency after that. Whether it was all linked to their preference for RGIII or Cousins' link to the fired Mike Shanahan, the front office would just never get on board and commit to him, would always be leaking info to the media about it, yet somehow hoped something would happen over the last two years that would change the dynamic. But it never really did.

I think they made the most of a bad situation of their own making with the trade (even while giving up a draft pick and player), and will have money to spend elsewhere they wouldn't have had with the even larger deal that Cousins' would have garnered, but the fact is that they poisoned the water back and 2015 and set things on their inevitable course from that moment on (barring a Foles-like December/January run that never happened in 2016-17).

I'm sure they'll be carping about Smith by midseason next year, too, since he's always been criticized for not throwing the ball down the field enough. Many fans *already* are, but that's mostly because they've essentially been conditioned to do so for a couple of decades now (save for that one season w/ Griffin in '12).

The opportunity was there for Cousins to be the first long-term QB the team has had since Joe Theismann (1978-85), and he could have been a major personality in the area for the next 25+ years (as has been the case w/ Theismann and Sonny Jurgensen, who's now been untouchable in D.C. for *54* years), but... no, of course not. Smith will be a short-timer, too, likely ultimately replaced by another player from the outside that the team is willing to throw money at even while they they so often don't take care of their own players in the same way.


I'm just glad I was old enough to enjoy the glory of the Gibbs years when I was a kid, because I don't know if there will ever be even a small taste of anything like that happen again.

Mon Feb 05, 01:20:00 PM EST  

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