Sunday, February 18, 2018

Wk.7- Oh! Petra!

Hey, who doesn't like a good revival? Especially if it just might turn out to be *more* fulfilling than the original production.

In Doha, the WTA's transformation into the Petra Tour continued for a *third* boffo week. Of course, we've seen similar versions of this award-winning show before. Petra Kvitova has run roughshod for rounds and weeks on end in the past, firing aces and thudding winners and often leading nearly every available Hall of Famer to arrive to see her in person (usually in London) in order to play homage and gather at the feet of the would-be new leader. They've been wonderful, Petra-affirming moments. Only, eventually, something always went awry.

In seasons past, right when many have expected to see her rise, the asthma-suffering Kvitova has proceeded to go down hard, and sometimes have a tough time getting back up. At some point, she would, and then the same cycle would begin anew. The first occasion happened when she won her maiden Wimbledon title in 2011, then three years later when she reached slam final #2 on the AELTC lawns in 2014. Alas, she's yet to reach a third major final. In fact, she's only gone as far as a slam QF twice in the nearly four years that have passed since she became a multiple slam title winner.

With her current run of near-greatness, might that change -- big time -- in 2018?

With Kvitova probably the most well-liked player on tour, one would be hard-pressed to find a soul who'd ever wish ill will or even truly root against all good things happening for her. That was the case before her home invasion scare in December 2016, and it's surely the case today. But, the question remains. Will this revival, too, be a lavishly-praised short-lived celebration of all things being possible, or something a bit closer to a permanent fixture? Or, at least something nicely, and satisfyingly, positioned somewhere between the two?

If the Czech's health and fitness, which usually go hand-in-hand, can be maintained -- and that has, and likely remains, a bigger "if" than most would wish -- maybe the "Petra era," or one where it *always* seems possible, that so many first envisioned seven (!) years ago very well could come to pass in 2018. We've certainly seen the early signs of what such a reality might be like. And much of the tour would have good reason to shudder, Petra-fied, at the thought, wouldn't they?

No matter what is to come, it's great to be able to enjoy it, and see Kvitova enjoying it, too.

It's a rare occasion when we collectively both realize what we had and nearly lost, as we did when Kvitova's career (or worse) nearly tragically ended fourteen months ago, and *then* get the opportunity to truly immerse ourselves in the experience all over again. Let alone having the revival possess the possibility of being an even *more* enjoyable ride than the original run, as glorious as it felt, could have ever hoped to be in its more innocent form. But, where Kvitova is concerned, we did, and now we are, and we still very well could. It doesn't get much better than that, does it? We -- and she -- know more now than we did before, and that makes it something of a crime to *not* appreciate today, and yesterday and, you know, the last three weeks.

Oh, Petra.

DOHA, QATAR (Premier 5/Hard Outdoor)
S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Garbine Muguruza/ESP 3-6/6-3/6-4
D: Gaby Dabrowski/Alona Ostapenko (CAN/LAT) d. Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (SLO/ESP) 6-3/6-3

...Kvitova's reign of good-natured, but still oh-so-lethal, dominance continued in Doha. While it often occurred under a bit more harried circumstances than in Saint Petersburg and Prague, where she rarely left any doubt about her conquests, it may have been a more lasting type of accomplishment. While on the edge of seeing exhaustion just around the corner, Kvitova had to battle nearly all week. After a quick 1st Round win over Cagla Buyukakcay (she wasn't ranked high enough to get a bye and didn't get much post-Fed cup rest), she lost the 1st set and had to win in three over Aga Radwanska. She handled #3 Elina Svitolina 4 & 5, then got a bit of a break when #10 Julia Goerges retired in the 2nd set. But the biggest fights were yet to come. #1 Caroline Wozniacki twice served for the match in the 2nd set of their semifinal, but Kvitova took the 2nd and won in three to record her fifth career #1 win (two have been over the Dane). In the final, she again had to come back from a set down vs. #4 Garbine Muguruza, constantly staving off BP chances -- any of which may have led to her doom in the match -- in the 2nd and 3rd sets en route to claiming her 22nd career title.

Kvitova's four Top 10 wins this week give her a total of six (with wins over #6 Alona Ostapenko and then-#10 Mladenovic in Russia) such victories during her 13-match winning streak. After knocking Mladenovic out of the Top 10 two weeks ago, her win in the Doha final will next knock out Goerges (0-2 vs. Petra during this run) on Monday as Kvitova bypasses a return to the Top 20 and jumps from #21 to #10.
RISERS: Garbine Muguruza/ESP and Simona Halep/ROU
...Muguruza had a "Remember me?" sort of week in Doha. She posted wins over Duan Yingying, Sorana Cirstea and Caroline Garcia (winning 11 of 15 games to close out a 3-6/6-1/6-4 victory) before getting a walkover into the final when Halep withdrew with a foot injury. That she didn't ultimately win the title, as she failed to put away a series of BP chances in the 2nd and 3rd sets as Kvitova claimed the lasting headlines, sort of holds the line of the majority of her career. Like the Czech, both have won a pair of slam titles, but only Muguruza has held the #1 ranking. She has an odd standing amongst the all-time WTA #1's. She's won fewer career titles (5) than any of the twenty-four other women to be ranked #1, but six of those (Wozniacki, Safina, Jankovic, Halep, Ivanovic and Pliskova) have failed to win as many majors as she has, and four with many more weeks at #1 (between 51 -- Azarenka -- and 22 -- Austin -- weeks in total at the top) have only won the *same* number of slams as Muguruza, who is likely a good bet to salt away at least one more before she's finished. So that Garbi declared this week, her first since bringing aboard Conchita Martinez as a team member (sort of like what happened last summer at SW19 when the former Wimbledon champ stepped in for an absent Sam Sumyk), a big success as her objective was to get matches and (one expects) prepare for the even *bigger* events a few months from now, is hardly a surprise. Mugu often lurks in the shadows, sometimes playing great and sometimes not, only to emerge in oft-dominant fashion to claim *the* biggest titles on the schedule.

Halep's sudden pull-out following her QF win over CiCi Bellis was a bit of a surprise. Not because we didn't know she was still dragging an injury from Melbourne (in this case, a second one not related to that ankle roll in the early rounds), considering she'd since talked about still playing with pain, but because she'd looked so good all week. Wins over Ekaterina Makarova (3 & love), Anastasija Sevastova (4 & 3) and Bellis (love & 4) had her and others eyeing a possible return to the #1 ranking immediately after Doha, rather than stepping away to rest the injury until at least Indian Wells. Perhaps that's why Halep spoke with an annoyed, frustrated tone when she answered questions about her continuing predicament. Still, with her game so dependent on her feet (with which she's often had injury issues), and with the clay court season (with perhaps her best slam chance in '18) not far off, the Swarmette Queen *must* be secure below the knees if she's to maximize her upcoming spring schedule. So it was must-do decision. At 14-1 on the season (not counting the walkover), Halep is just 45 points behind #1 Wozniacki, and with the Dane deciding not to defend her Dubai final points in Week 8 the Romanian will still (at least temporarily) reclaim the #1 ranking on February 26.

SURPRISE: Mihaela Buzarenscu/ROU
...the 29-year old Swarmette who earned her Ph.D. while she waited out an injury layoff and questioned whether she'd return to the sport, continues to shine in good health and form. In Doha, Dr.Buzanescu knocked off Lesia Tsurenko, then posted her first career Top 10 victory with a win over Alona Ostapenko before falling to Julia Goerges in the 3rd Round. Since starting 2017 at #540, she's won seven ITF titles and reached two more challenger finals, as well as her first on the WTA tour (Week 2 in Hobart), made her tour and slam debut (in the same match at Flushing Meadows, then, reached a semi in her second in Linz last fall)... and will begin the coming week at a new career-high of #39.

VETERANS: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN and Julia Goerges/GER
...though she held onto the #1 ranking (for now) with her semifinal result -- with wins over Carina Witthoeft, Monica Niculescu, and in three sets over Angelique Kerber -- combined with Halep's final four withdrawal, Wozniacki's week will likely be remembered as the one in which her twelve-match semifinal winning streak came to an end at the hands of Kvitova, though the Dane *did* twice serve for the match against the Czech. Wozniacki is the only player to reach tour finals in Doha and Dubai in the same season on two occasions, doing so in 2011 (Dubai W, Doha RU) and again last year (Doha RU, Dubai RU).

Meanwhile, Goerges had another good week (she's 12-3 in '18, and 21-3 since late last season) in Doha, surrounding a victory over Buzarnescu with a virtual "test-run" against the Czech Fed Cup squad should she join Germany's semifinal effort vs. the Maidens this spring. She notched wins over both Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, only to fall to Kvitova due to her early 2nd set retirement with a hip injury. She stated afterward that she'd been playing with the injury all week, and joked with Kvitova at the net that the Czech made it worse by running her all over the court en route to her SECOND win over the German during Petra's current win streak. Naturally, Kvitova's claiming of the title on Sunday *also* pushes Goerges out of the Top 10 in the new rankings. But, hey, what can you do when Petra is intent on a revival?
COMEBACK: Angelique Kerber/GER
...with her two-win QF run in Doha, Kerber improved her 2018 record to 12-3 (not counting her four-win Hopman Cup effort). The German didn't win her twelfth match a season ago until the round before she fell to Venus Williams in the Miami QF. After a straight sets victory over Sam Stosur, Kerber came back from a set down to defeat Johanna Konta, pushing her record this season after dropping the opening set to 4-1 after going 3-22 in such circumstances during her disappointing '17 campaign. She had an opportunity to add another win to the total in the QF vs. Caroline Wozniacki (or even avoid it altogether, as she *did* serve for the 1st serve). Kerber broke the Dane to open the 3rd and was up 40/love in game #2 only to see the world #1 rally and get the win. Still ranked #9, Kerber is in the third spot behind Wozniacki and Halep in the 2018 Points Race.

FRESH FACES: CiCi Bellis/USA and Anna Blinkova/RUS
...a year ago in Dubai, Bellis recorded her first Top 10 win with a victory over then-#6 Aga Radwanska. Last week she returned to the Middle East in Doha and got her first career Top FIVE win, taking out #5 Karolina Pliskova (the defending champ) in straight sets in a 3rd Round match that followed a successful Q-run and earlier wins over Dasha Kasatkina (2nd set ret.) and Madison Keys (coming back from dropping the 1st set and winning a love 3rd in windy conditions). The (still only) 18-year old ultimately fell in the QF to Simona Halep in two sets, but put enough pressure on the Romanian that she felt additional pain in her injured foot to pulled out of the tournament after the match. Bellis is up to #41 this week, not far off her career-high of #35.

Meanwhile, 19-year old Blinkova served notice to the currently reigning Hordette generation. The Russian qualified in Doha with wins over Jana Fett and countrywoman Ekaterina Alexadrova, then defeated another Hordette in Elena Vesnina in the 1st Round. An upset over Kristina Mladenovic (her first Top 20 win) followed before a tight 7-6(3)/7-5 3rd Round loss to another Pastry, Caroline Garcia. Blinkova, who has opened Week 8 with a Q1 win over #1-seed Denisa Allertova (AO 4th Rd.) in Budapest, will climb thirty-eight spots to #126 on Monday, just twelve spots behind her career-high of #114.

DOWN: Latisha Chan/Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova (TPE/CZE)
...sometimes good individual parts don't always fit together perfectly. While Chan and new partner Hlavackova haven't performed poorly -- though their 2nd Round loss on in Doha to Fed Cup stars Kato & Ninomiya is their worst result in four '18 outings -- the duo's track record so far doesn't show a great deal of promise when it comes to Chan holding onto the #1 ranking she earned while teaming with Martina Hingis last season, and which she finally took over sole possession of from her now-retired partner heading into Week 7 (as the Swiss Miss has continued to allow her results to be accounted for in the rankings... make of that what you will, I suppose). They've gone a combined 8-4 so far, with SF-RU-QF results prior to their early loss last week. A season ago, Chan was 53-7 with Hingis, winning nine titles (and reaching another final) in sixteen events together, with their longest title-less periods being just a pair of two-event stretches (Doha/Dubai and Wimbledon/Toronto). Chan also won a title with her sister Hao-Ching ("Angel"). Latisha hasn't won a tour-level doubles title with anyone other than Hingis or her sibling since 2010, and through two months of the new season as the world #1 that's *still* the case. At some point, with Chan/Hlavackova the #5-ranked duo in the '18 Points Race, the #1 doubles ranking may be "open for business" in a come-one-come-all scenario if Chan doesn't begin to hold onto her collected ranking points. First to challenge could be the "next-up" duo of Makarova/Vesnina, though they will be trying to defend a title in Dubai this week, and also won Wimbledon last summer, and don't pair on a week-in, week-out basis on tour. For the record, Chan's early exit in Doha will allow Hingis to *again* re-claim a portion of the top WD ranking, as they'll be co-#1's yet again in the new rankings.
ITF PLAYER: Rebecca Marino/CAN
...well, once could get used to this, huh? After a five year absence, Marino returned to action three weeks ago. She still hasn't lost. For the third straight week in Antalya, Turkey the Canadian claimed a $15K challenger crown. While her 30-set streak was ended by #1-seeded Ekaterine Gorgodze in the semifinals, Marino improved to 17-0 with wins over the #8, #4 and #7 (Italy's Gaia Sanesi in a 6-2/6-1 final) seeds during the week. Marino has now won 34 of 35 sets during the stretch, and will see her ranking rise to just outside the Top 625.
JUNIOR STAR: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
...the 16-year old, #6-ranked girl didn't compete in Melbourne, but she's been dominating the other junior competition in 2018. In Paraguay's Asuncion Bowl, the #1-seeded Colombian claimed her third consecutive Grade 1 title (after runs at the Coffee Bowl and Barranquilla events in January), extending her winning streak to sixteen matches with victories over the #4 (Hailey Baptiste) and #9 (Katie Volynets) seeds, then Argentina's Ana Geller (the girls #150, and sister of '17 Wimbledon & U.S. Open boys singles finalist Axel) in the 15-year old's first career Grade 1 final.

DOUBLES: Gaby Dabrowski & Alona Ostapenko (CAN/LAT)
...while Dabrowski has already had a banner '18 season in doubles, winning Sydney with Xu Yifan and the AO Mixed Doubles with Mate Pavic (who started *his* season a combined 22-0 in MD/MX before losing in a final this weekend), Ostapenko has used doubles to fill in some of the blanks of his (so far) inconsistent singles performance this season. A week after combining with Anastastija Sevastova to win a pair of deciding doubles matches to lift their country into this spring's WG II Playoffs, Latvian Thunder fell in the 2nd Round in Doha singles, but combined with Dabrowski to get the time on court that her earlier loss caused her to missed out on (always a good thing when a player is a semi-slow out of the gate as Ostapenko has been in '18 after a hectic offseason). The pair lost a set in their opening match against Melichar/Peschke, winning a 10-8 TB to advance, then swept through the field the rest of the way en route to the title. #3-seeds Safarova/Strycova retired just three games into the 1st set, then Dabrowski/Ostapenko handled K.Bondarenko/Krunic, Krejcikova/Siniakova and Klepac/Martinez Sanchez (who'd won three straight 3rd set TB to get to the final) without losing more than seven total games in any match. Their first title as a pair, it's the seventh of Dabrowski career and Ostapenko's third (in three finals). The 25-year old Dabrowski will now become the fourth Canadian woman to reach the WTA Top 10 in singles or doubles, joining Genie Bouchard (#5 WS), Carling Bassett-Seguso (#8 WS), and Jill Hetherington (#6 WD) when she debuts at #8 on Monday.


Once again, it was time for the felines to roam free in Doha...

1. Doha Final - Petra Kvitova def. Garbine Muguruza
In their first meeting in a final, Kvitova staged vs. the Spaniard what was her last of many comebacks during the week. Muguruza raced to a 5-0 lead in the 1st while the Czech was trying to find her serve, as she fired at just a 48% clip (vs. 75% for Garbi) in the set. While she continuously faced danger on serve for the rest of the match, she *always* found a way to prevail. She saved BP and held for 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the 2nd, broke to go up 4-2, then saved BP again in game #7 en route to evening the match with a 6-3 set win. Kvitova improved her serve percentage to 68% in the 2nd, and out-hit Muguruza 16-4 in winners. In the 3rd, it was a similar story. The Czech saved BP for a hold for 2-2, broke Muguruza a game later, then saved BP again in game #6 on her way to finally putting the Spaniard away to pick up her 13th straight victory. She's now 4-1 vs. Muguruza.


2. Doha SF - Petra Kvitova def. Caroline Wozniacki
The Czech and the Dane tangled for 2:35, trading off attempts in the 2nd and 3rd sets to serve out the match. First, Wozniacki served up 6-3/5-4 (a love break), then 6-5, in the 2nd. Kvitova won a TB to force a 3rd set, where she held from 15/30 (even w/ two DF, of the eleven she had on the day) for 4-4, broke a game later, and served for the match at 5-4. She was broken by the Dane, but then broke back a game later and finally served out the match. The win, Kvitova's 12th straight, ended Wozniacki's 12-match semifinal unbeaten streak (it's the first time she failed in an attempt to reach a final since the 2016 U.S. Open vs. Kerber), and improved her head-to-head lead over the Dane to 8-5, with four consecutive wins and a 7-3 mark on hard courts.

3. Doha QF - Caroline Wozniacki def. Angelique Kerber
Wozniacki, on the court when #2 Halep announced she was pulling out of the semifinal she'd just advanced to, retained her #1 ranking for Week 8 while winning a rare match over Kerber in which the German dropped the opening set (she'd been 4-1 in '18, having held MP in her one previous loss vs. Halep in the AO semis), denying her opponent's multiple opportunities to turn the match in her favor. Kerber served for the 1st set, and later served up 1-0, 40/love in the 3rd, only to drop serve. Serving at 3-4, the German was broken again after leading 30/love and reaching GP.
4. Doha 1st Rd. - Monica Niculescu def. Maria Sharapova
The Romanian's frustrating (to her opponents) game ultimately broke the Russian, who committed 52 unforced errors (to 17 for Niculescu), DF'd eleven times, and then withdrew from Dubai with an apparent forearm injury (the same malady that she struggled with for months after her return to action last season).

5. Doha 3rd Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. Monica Niculescu
Wozniacki complained to the umpire about Niculescu's grunts during her follow-through swings, accusing her of doing it to intentionally interfere with her own play. Needless to say, the Romanian didn't particularly take too kindly to the notion.

6. Doha 2nd Rd. - Caroline Garcia def. Dominika Cibulkova 6-3/6-7(3)/6-0
Doha 2nd Rd. - Anna Blinkova def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-3/6-3
we got a (semi) dust-up between Wozniacki and Niculescu, but the potential sideshow of the first Garcia/Mladenovic meeting since, well, you know, didn't materialize in Doha. One round away from facing each other, Garcia won 24 of the final 28 points to down Cibulkova, but Mladenovic became the first Top 20 victim of Blinkova.

7. Doha 2nd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Ekaterina Makarova 6-3/6-0
Doha 3rd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Anastasija Sevastova 6-4/6-3
Doha QF - Simona Halep def. CiCi Bellis 6-0/6-4
no wonder Halep was frustrated by having to pull out with her lingering foot injury. Even while pushing things and playing with pain, she'd been in fine form all week, including a thorough take down of Makarova, her "Simona 1.0" nemesis. The Russian frustrated and made the Romanian look for an "escape hatch" from a 6-4/6-0 QF defeat at the Australian Open three seasons ago, then further complicated her psyche in a tight three-setter in Dubai a few months later.

8. Doha 2nd Rd. - Mihaela Buzarnescu def. Alona Ostapenko 6-1/6-3
Doha Final - Gaby Dabrowski/Alona Ostapenko def. Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3/6-3
for the second week in a row, Ostapenko is registered by an opponent as their first career Top 10 victim. For the second week in a row, though, she rebounded by putting up some impressive doubles results.

9. Doha 1st Rd. - CiCi Bellis def. Dasha Kasatkina
...7-5/4-1 ret.
The Russian again failed to gather any positive momentum for her '18 season. Kasatkina opened with back-to-back losses and a 2nd Round exit in Melbourne, but then found her footing with a SF run in Saint Petersburg that included a win over #1 Wozniacki. But she slipped right back down the rabbit hole in Qatar, falling early in the match and then later retiring with a shoulder/nick injury.

10. $25K Perth Final - Irina Khromacheva def. Katy Dunne
After a week playing the role of The Smiter of Aussies on Australian soil -- she defeated Olivia Tjandramulia, Ellen Perez, Jamiee Fourlis and Maddison Inglis -- the Russian defeated a Brit for variety, claiming her sixteen ITF crown (16-4 in finals) with her ninth straight victory (from 2015-18) in a final.

HM- Dubai Q1 - Bernarda Pera def. Marketa Vondrousova
In her first outing since her LL-to-3rd Round run in Melbourne (which included a win over Konta), Pera immediately produced another eyebrow-raising scoreline. It was even more in (AO) character when you consider she trailed the Czech 6-0/2-0, and faced BP for 3-0. Though her run ended a round later with a straight sets loss to Sara Errani.

Did someone say something about an Italian who refuses to give up?

And Karolina found a game that just isn't for her...

1. Doha 1st Rd. - AGA RADWANSKA def. Mona Barthel
It's not as if we just met an umpire named Marija. But, in Doha, Cicak finally proved she isn't necessarily infallible. She called an incorrect score, and Aga only realized it after the game was "over" a few points later. It all got straightened out...

But, Marija (I'm just sayin')...


Don't look now, but...

**WTA TITLES - 2016-18**
7 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [1/5/1]
5 - PETRA KVITOVA, CZE [2/1/2]
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 - 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 - 4/3/1/2 - PETRA KVITOVA (8-2)
10 - 1/3/5/1 - Elina Svitolina (8-2)

Auckland: Julia Goerges, GER (F-Wozniacki)
Australian Open: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (F-Halep)

**DOHA & DUBAI... (since 2001)**
[reached finals at both]
2001 Martina Hingis = Doha W, Dubai W
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova = Dubai RU, Doha RU
2007 Justine Henin = Dubai W, Doha W
2009 Venus Williams = Dubai W, Doha Chsp RU
2011 Caroline Wozniacki = Dubai W, Doha RU
2017 Caroline Wozniacki = Doha RU, Dubai RU
NOTE: 2008 two Doha events (Feb/Oct); 2009-10 Doha only as Oct. WTA Chsp.

**2018 WTA SF**
2 - Julia Goerges, GER (1-1)
2 - Angelique Kerber, GER (1-1)
2 - Elise Mertens, BEL (1-1)

11 - Simona Halep (January) - ended by Wozniacki
10 - Elise Mertens (January) - ended by Wozniacki
10 - Angelique Kerber (January) - ended by Halep

2009 def. Dinara Safina (U.S. Open 3rd)
2011 def. Caroline Wozniacki (WTA Chsp. rr)
2015 def. Serena Williams (Madrid SF)
2016 def. Angelique Kerber (Wuhan 3rd)
2017 def. Caroline Wozniacki (Dohan SF)
[active leaders]
16 - Serena Williams, USA
15 - Venus Williams, USA
7 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
7 - Maria Sharapova, RUS
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR
4 - Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
4 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
4 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

[w/ last season w/ title]
72...Serena Williams (2017)
49...Venus Williams (2016)
36...Maria Sharapova (2017)
28...Caroline Wozniacki (2018)
22...PETRA KVITOVA (2018)
20...Victoria Azarenka (2016)
20...Aga Radwanska (2016)
17...Svetlana Kuznetsova (2016)
16...Simona Halep (2018)
15...Jelena Jankovic (2015)
12...Vera Zvonareva (2011)
11...Angelique Kerber (2018)
11...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2017)
11...Patty Schnyder (2008)
10...Elina Svitolina (2018)
10...Roberta Vinci (2016)
9...Sara Errani (2016)
9...Karolina Pliskova (2017)
9...Samantha Stosur (2017)
8...Marion Bartoli (2013)
8...Dominika Cibulkova (2016)
8...Francesca Schiavone (2017)
7...Lucie Safarova (2016)
6...Andrea Petkovic (2015)

2...GABY DABROWSKI, CAN (2-0 + 1-0 MX)
2...Demi Schuurs, NED (2-0)

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
Asuncion Bowl: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Banana Bowl: [February]
Yeltsin Cup: [February]

Naturally, there was no actual tennis news involving a certain Canadian. But...

Though she's still looking for her first win since the U.S. Open, five years after she preceded Bouchard's own '14 AO semifinal run, it was Sloane following in footsteps this time around...

DUBAI, UAE (Premier/Hard)
2001 Martina Hingis def. Nathalie Tauziat
2002 Amelie Mauresmo def. Sandrine Testud
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne def. Monica Seles
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2005 Lindsay Davenport def. Jelena Jankovic
2006 Justine Henin-Hardenne def. Maria Sharapova
2007 Justine Henin def. Amelie Mauresmo
2008 Elena Dementieva def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2009 Venus Williams def. Virginie Razzano
2010 Venus Williams def. Victoria Azarenka
2011 Caroline Wozniacki def. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2012 Aga Radwanska def. Julia Goerges
2013 Petra Kvitova def. Sara Errani
2014 Venus Williams def. Alize Cornet
2015 Simona Halep def. Karolina Pliskova
2016 Sara Errani def. Barbora Strycova
2017 Elina Svitolina def. Caroline Wozniacki
2001 Basuki/Vis d. Svensson/Habsudova
2002 Rittner/Vento-Kabchi d. Testud/Vinci
2003 Kuznetsova/Navratilova d. C.Black/Likhovtseva
2004 Husarova/C.Martínez d. Kuznetsova/Likhovtseva
2005 Ruano Pascual/Suarez d. Kuznetsova/Molik
2006 Peschke/Schiavone d. Kuznetsova/Petrova
2007 C.Black/Huber d. Kuznetsova/Molik
2008 C.Black/Huber d. Zheng Jie/Yan Zi
2009 C.Black/Huber d. Kirilenko/A.Radwanska
2010 Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sanchez d. Peschke/Srebotnik
2011 Huber/Martínez Sanchez d. Peschke/Srebotnik
2012 Huber/Raymond d. Mirza/Vesnina
2013 Mattek-Sands/Mirza d. Petrova/Srebotnik
2014 Kudryavtseva/An.Rodionova d. Kops-Jones/Spears
2015 Babos/Mladenovic d. Muguruza/Suarez Navarro
2016 Chuang Chia-jung/Jurak d. Garcia/Mladenovic
2017 Makarova/Vesnina d. Hlavackova/Peng Shuai
WS: #1 Svitolina, #2 Muguruza
WD: #1 Makarova/Vesnina, #2 L.Chan/S.-Hlavackova

...the draw took a hit with the withdrawals of Halep, Goerges and Keys. Meanwhile, Kvitova is (as of now) still in this draw, but one has to wonder if she'll be up to another full week of action. If she plays, she could face Mladenovic in the 2nd Round, and then Svitolina for a second straight week in the QF. In bottom half, Muguruza/Garcia, too, could cross paths again in a second straight QF.

#6 Kerber d. #1 Svitolina
#5 Garcia d. #7 Konta
#6 Kerber d. #5 Garcia

1993 Zina Garrison def. Sabine Appelmans
1994–1995 - Not Held
1996 Ruxandra Dragomir def. Melanie Schnell
1997 Amanda Coetzer def. Sabine Appelmans
1998 Virginia Ruano Pascual def. Silvia Farina Elia
1999 Sarah Pitkowski def. Cristina Torrens Valero
2000 Tathiana Garbin def. Kristie Boogert
2001 Magdalena Maleeva def. Anne Kremer
2002 Martina Müller def. Myriam Casanova
2003 Magui Serna def. Alicia Molik
2004 Jelena Jankovic def. Martina Sucha
2005 Anna Smashnova def. Catalina Castano
2006 Anna Smashnova def. Lourdes Dominguez
2007 Gisela Dulko def. Sorana Cîrstea
2008 Alize Cornet def. Andreja Klepac
2009 Agnes Szavay def. Patty Schnyder
2010 Agnes Szavay def. Patty Schnyder
2011 Roberta Vinci def. Irina-Camelia Begu
2012 Sara Errani def. Elena Vesnina
2013 Simona Halep def. Yvonne Meusburger
2014–2015 - Not Held
2016 - $100K event
2017 Timea Babos def. Lucie Safarova
1993 Gorrochategui/Vis d. Cecchini/Tarabini
1994–1995 - Not Held
1996 Adams/Graham d. Bobkova/Melicharova
1997 Coetzer/Fusai d. Martincova/Wagner
1998 Ruano Pascual/Suarez d. C.Cristea/Montalvo
1999 Kulikovskaya/Nacuk d. Montalvo/Ruano Pascual
2000 Bacheva/Torrens Valero d. Kostanic Tosic/Nacuk
2001 Husarova/Garbin d. Gubacsi/Zaric
2002 Loit/Barclay-Reitz d. Bovina/Gubacsi
2003 Mandula/Tatarkova d. Martinez Granados/Perebiynis
2004 Mandula/Schett d. Szavay/Nemeth
2005 Loit/Srebotnik d. Dominguez Lino/Marrero
2006 Husarova/Krajicek d. Hradecka/Voracova
2007 Szavay/Uhlírova d. Muller/G.Navratilova
2008 Cornet/Husarova d. Henke/Olaru
2009 Kleybanova/Niculescu d. A.Bondarenko/K.Bondarenko
2010 Bacsinszky/Garbin d. S.Cirstea/Medina Garrigues
2011 Medina Garrigues/Rosolska d. Grandin/Uhlirova
2012 Husarova/Rybarikova d. Birnerova/Krajicek
2013 Hlavackova/Hradecka d. Bratchikova/Tatishvili
2014–2015 - Not Held
2016 - $100K event
2017 S.Hsieh/Kalashnikova d. Ar.Rodionova/Voskoboeva
WS: #1 Rybarikova, #2 Cibulkova
WD: #1 Flipkens/Larsson, #2 A.Smith/Voracova

Of course, what does it matter. They're going to get all of us, anyway.

All for now???


Blogger colt13 said...

Ostapenko has more wins this year in doubles than singles.

The impressive thing about the big four this year-Kerber, Kvitova, Halep, Wozniacki, is the fight. Drop a set? No big deal. Face a match point? No big deal.

The Muguruza comments? You must have known where I was going this week.

Stat of the Week- 21- The number of wins for Maria Sharapova since her comeback.

Ah, Maria. Born long enough ago that Pat Andrzejewski was still got on the charts, though you might know her better under her ex-husband's name- Benatar, 10 months is long enough to see if this comeback has legs.

Obviously timely because of the loss to Niculescu, as the loss is the worst by rank(92) in her comeback. 21-9 is her record, and though that isn't bad for the average player, for a former slam winner, it raises multiple red flags.

Henin's first 30 matches in her comeback? 25-5. And her worst loss in a WTA event? Dulko, ranked 37, though she did lost to 126 Kanepi in Fed Cup.

Sharapova did beat Halep to get a Top 10 win, but even that is a red flag. Why? Because she also lost to Halep, but Simona is the only Top 10 player she has played. For someone used to getting to the business end of a tournament, she isn't getting there. If you expand it to the Top 20, she beat Sevastova and Lucic-Baroni, but also lost to those two, plus Kerber.

If comparing Sharapova to Henin isn't fair, what about to her former self? Note these numbers:
Henin- 30 Before retirement 26-4, after 25-5
Sharapova - 30 Before suspension 25-5, after 21-9.

Somewhat related, this is why I don't think Serena will play Miami. She sees the struggles of Maria, plus has been able to play exhibitions to document for Olympia. And for the record, her last 30? 26-4. Serena is like Graf. She wont comeback to rank 40. But Venus could.

Actually, Venus has. Pre Sjogren's break Venus went 22-8. After? 21-9.

So enjoy Maria because she is good for the tour. But don't expect Supernova to return.

Quiz Time!
With Halep returning to the #1 ranking, it means that 22 of 25 #1's have returned to that spot. Which of these women became #1 twice?

A.Goolagong Cawley

Another premier, so more Up/Down Side.

This should be one of the easier ones, but still some backstory. Is is not Muguruza, as her 8 weeks is the 3rd lowest total in history. Nor is it Pliskova, who at 7 weeks has the second shortest reign. Though both are still young enough in their careers that they can get back. More likely for Muguruza. Not Goolagong Cawley, who has the shortest reign ever at #1, holding the top sport for only 2 weeks. So the answer is Safina, who although she was number 1 for 26 weeks, only held it for 1 the 2nd and last time she was.

Sun Feb 18, 11:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Kerber-The pick to click this week, as Kvitova isn't expected to play, or hold up all week. Muguruza is still in the draw too. As Todd mentioned, already has 12 wins on the year, but didn't pick up her 12th last year until Miami.
2.Halep-Not playing, but a solid week in Doha, and a return to #1 is a good thing. Playing like someone who will not only win a slam, but 4 more titles this year.
3.Schuurs-The doubles pick for this week. A 32-22 record the last year in doubles, she reached a career high in doubles at 31 earlier this year, and is on track to reach the Top 20. And you can call her a doubles specialist, as she hasn't played a singles match since her home tournament of Den Bosch in 2015.
4.Sabalenka-Hasn't made it through qualies yet, but this draw is expected to fall apart, as the bodies already are less than 2 months in.
5.Bertens-She's back, unlike some others, but more on that below.

Sun Feb 18, 11:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Sharapova-Out of Dubai. Sharapova has never had less than 24 wins in a full season, yet only has 21 in 10 months. The red flag? The 24 was in her rookie year of 2003, when she didn't pick up her first WTA level win that year until Birmingham. Plus loses points for trying to play Niculescu slice for slice.
2.Stephens- Answer-V.Williams, Barty, Vandeweghe, Gavrilova, Bacsinszky, Sasnovich, Kuznetsova, Stephens. Question-Who were the only Top 50 players to skip both Doha and Dubai? The first 6 played Fed Cup, and Kuznetsova hasn't played all season. That leaves Stephens, who has been getting exposure from Sports Illustrated, plus playing in an exhibition with Bouchard. Not great optics, plus with 3 spots left in the Tie Break Tens, there is a chance she ends up there too. Those already named? S.Williams, V.Williams, Bartoli, Vandeweghe, and Svitolina. She needs to bank some points soon, because since the USO- 102 points. For comparison, Vinci- 165 pts. Vinci is ranked 156, and not planning on playing much longer. Stephens is, so she needs to get to work, lest she become.....
3.Vesnina- At 23 in the live ranking, if she loses in the 2nd rd at IW she would drop to about 45. 45 Would not have gotten her in the MD at Dubai, as the cutoff was 39, which is why Sharapova needed a WC at avoid qualies. Doing well this week might stave that off.
4.Keys-Also withdrew from Dubai, but she wouldn't have done anything there. Sounds mean, but lets look at her crazy stats. In the last year, Keys has played 13 events, 9 of those being US events or slams, the other 4 not. So that split would make you think that about 70% of her points are coming from the former. In reality it is 99%. So she's down now, but ride her as a pick to go deep at IW and Miami.
5.Pavlyuchenkova-Doesn't look bad, but on a 2-5 streak since Hong Kong. The true test will be about 5 weeks from now, as the 4 time Monterrey winner, and defending champ will have a chance to right herself on familiar soil. If she doesn't it is a red flag that this won't be a good year.

Sun Feb 18, 11:29:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

It's a good sign that Ostapenko's so willing to play doubles (let alone do it as well as she has), because it really *can* help her round into form a little bit quicker.

My biggest worry about Sharapova, more so than any ability to regain something close to her previous form, is the whole injury issue. If she really did pull out of Dubai with a return of the forearm issues, you wonder if she's going to be able to ever play enough to become truly relevant again, other than on a one-shot, any-given-match sort of level.

Of course, Henin's comeback ultimately ended due to injury. :(

Ah, heard a Pat Benatar song on the radio last night. ;)

"Well you're a real tough cookie with a long history
Of breaking little hearts like the one in me
That's okay, let's see how you do it

Put up you dukes, let's get down to it
Hit me with your best shot
Why don't you hit me with your best shot
Hit me with your best shot
Fire away

You come on with it, come on
You don't fight fair
That's okay, see if I care
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I get right back on my feet again

Good song. ;)

I want with Muguruza because of all the #1 exchanges last year. I think she was #1 for only four weeks, though that's of no importance as far as the question. ;)

Aside from the durability of the Dubai draw, the one in Budapest is more than a little sketchy and looks designed to be more than a little chaotic (hence my lack of picks there... though I *was* eyeing Buzarnescu before I decided to skip predictions for that one altogether).

Mon Feb 19, 12:23:00 AM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Petra has wisely withdrawn from Dubai. Nice to have a positive and smiling Petra back on the even more crazy WTA tour 2018. Interesting that generation Caro now has the places 4 to 7 in the ranking of most titles. I think we'll see IW and Miami at their best this season. About the Niculescu match which I saw of course - she not only said something when the ball had left her racket it was many times in a different way. If the grunting is when they serve it's not a problem and mostly it's the same sound but the problem is when the reciever is concentrating about a return it's wrong - as the rulebook says. So Caroline was right and I'm not the only one saying that. As always a good cover of the week Todd.

Mon Feb 19, 05:08:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Regarding Budapest-Was planning to ride Van Uytvanck this week, but with Dodin in the first round, and Buzarnescu in the 2nd, it is a tough draw. Might was well pick Babos.

Petra already has Player of the Month locked up.

Mon Feb 19, 08:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger dsm said...

"Still, the Spaniard has spent more weeks at #1 than another Czech, the slam-less Karolina Pliskova, as well as two other slam-less #1's (Safina and Jankovic) and two single-slam winners (Wozniacki and Ivanovic)"
Did you wrote it right? Because the fact is muguruza only top the woman ranking for 4 weeks, and all women you said above had been number one much longer than muguruza

Mon Feb 19, 10:05:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

As noted by the peanut gallery, corrections are needed.

Weeks at #1
Pliskova-8 weeks-3rd shortest
Muguruza-4 weeks-2nd shortest
Goolagong Cawley- 2 weeks-shortest in history.

Mon Feb 19, 10:44:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Whoosh, I really mangled those few sentences. (Truth: I originally mentioned Venus in that sentence, thinking she had fewer weeks than she had back in the day, and when I went back and took that out everything went this way and that.)

"That she didn't ultimately win the title, as she failed to put away a series of BP chances in the 2nd and 3rd sets as Kvitova claimed the lasting headlines, sort of holds the line of the majority of her career. Like the Czech, both have won a pair of slam titles, but only Muguruza has held the #1 ranking. She has an odd standing amongst the all-time WTA #1's. She's won fewer career titles (5) than any of the twenty-four other women to be ranked #1, but six of those (Wozniacki, Safina, Jankovic, Halep, Ivanovic and Pliskova) have failed to win as many majors as she has, and four with many more weeks at #1 (between 51 -- Azarenka -- and 22 -- Austin -- weeks in total at the top) have only won the *same* number of slams as Muguruza, who is likely a good bet to salt away at least one more before she's finished."

There, I think that's all up to speed... well, until further notice. :\

Sometimes the numbers are out to get us. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. :P

Mon Feb 19, 01:58:00 PM EST  

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