Sunday, May 06, 2018

Wk.18- Rumble, Young Waffle, Rumble

Petra is great (and she was again in Prague), but save a spot at the table for a Belgian whose rumble caused a double-take in January, and has continued to get louder and louder ever since.

S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU 4-6/6-2/6-3
D: Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke (USA/CZE) d. Mihaela Buzarnescu/Lidziya Marozava (ROU/BLR) 6-4/6-2
S: Elise Mertens/BEL def. Ajla Tomljanovic/AUS 6-2/7-6(4)
D: Anna Blinkova/Raluca Olaru (RUS/ROU) d. Georgina Garcia Perez/Fanny Stollar (ESP/HUN) 6-4/6-4
ANNING, CHINA (WTA 125/Red Clay)
S: Irina Khromcheva/RUS def. Zheng Saisai/CHN 3-6/6-4/7-6(5)
D: Dalila Jakupovic/Irina Khromacheva (SLO/RUS) d. Guo Hanyu/Sun Xuliu (CHN/CHN) 6-1/6-1

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Petra Kvitova/CZE Elise Mertens/BEL
...sure, a case could be made for Kvitova as "PoW" for Week 18, but it's time for some much-needed rumbling about the Belgian.

And Mertens' has the numbers to stand shoulder to shoulder with Petra for the honor, anyway. Her run in Rabat produced what is also *her* third title of the season. She's the *first*, though, to rack up a pair of clay court titles in '18, and she's currently riding a match winning streak that, in a few days, could surpass Kvitova's own tour-best string of fourteen straight from earlier this season.

Yes, number 4??! ?? Thank you for all the support ?? #wta #Rabat

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The 22-year old Waffle let it be known pretty quickly last week how things were going to be, taking down Kristina Kucova 6-0/6-0 in the 1st Round. She'd ultimately win four bagel sets in the ten she won en route to the title. The only player who took a set off the Belgian was Laura Siegemund, who'd eventually retire with a calf injury early in the 3rd. Mertens rumbled to the win with additional victories over Sara Errani, Hsieh Su-wei and Alja Tomljanovic in a 2 & 6 final, improving her pro singles final record to 15-3.

Hmmm. Belgian Rumble put on a semifinal run in Melbourne, but she's arguably been even more impressive as we head toward the clay court slam where Latvian Thunder was born a season ago. With two consecutive clay titles (plus a WD title and undefeated FC weekend), Mertens STILL is yet to lose on clay in '18, going 18-0 (13-0 ws, 5-0 wd) after posting a 1st Round win on Sunday in Madrid. She'll set another career-high ranking mark this week, coming in at #16.

While Mertens' late-season stretch might be worth paying attention to, as she's racking up matches (25-6 in singles through Sunday, plus 14-5 in doubles) this season in a fashion similar to Anett Kontaveit in '17 (and the Estonian suffered for it in the fall), she's made it clear that she's capable of great things when momentum (and a fearless streak she sported through the QF stage Down Under) is on her side. She had a brief 3-5 skid immediately following her AO semi, but she bookended that with a 9-1 and (now) 13-0 streaks.

Interesting, huh?

RISERS: Elise Mertens/BEL Petra Kvitova/CZE and Camila Giorgi/ITA
...hmmm, could Petra be a threat in Paris? We'll see about that, but between her Fed Cup leadership and regular tour prowess in recent months the Czech is certainly making a case for the "Player of the First Four-Months-and-Change."

Feeling grateful ?????? #23

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Kvitova picked up her third title of the season in Prague, becoming the third Czech-born champion at the event since the city's reclaiming of a spot on the tour schedule in 2015 (and sixth since this tournament's inception as an ITF challenger event in '10). She only lost one set all week (the 1st in the final vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu, after having led 4-1) while slugging her way to her 30th career final with straight sets wins over Tereza Smitkova, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Katerina Siniakova and Zhang Shuai. Kvitova now has 23 career tour singles titles, as she closes in on Hana Mandlikova's tour record for TCH/CZE players (she has 27, with Jana Novotna with 24... Martina Navratilova, of course, is FAR ahead of the pack when it comes to wins for a Czech-BORN player).

And what about that Petra-in-Paris notion? Well, this is her third career title on clay, with the other two coming in Madrid in 2011 and '15. Somewhat sneakily, she *did* have back-to-back Round of 16 and SF results at RG in 2011-12. But while she notched eight wins in those two years, Kvitova has won just ten combined matches in her five trips to Paris since.

Also in Prague, Giorgi, the world's top-ranked Italian at #58 (yep, it's true), put on a semifinal run to make it three straight multiple-win clay court events. After QF results in Charleston and Lugano, Giorgi posted three wins this week, taking down veterans Barbora Strycova and Samantha Stosur, as well as lucky loser Tamara Korpatsch. Against Mihaela Buzarnescu in the semis, the Italian served for the match and another shot to improve her career record in finals (1-4, with her last coming two years ago in Katowice), but failed to close out the Romanian. Giorgi semi-famously failed to win two finals in '14 despite holding MP in both before winning her maiden (and only) tour title a season later. Giorgi will inch up to #56 in the new rankings, her highest ranking since June 2016.

SURPRISES: Irina Khromacheva/RUS and Jasmine Paolini/ITA
...Khromacheva has been around for a while, but the 22-year old Hordette has surely placed her name into the mix as one of 2018's most improved players. A former junior #1 (2010), '11 Wimbledon girls RU to Ash Barty and three-time junior doubles slam champ (and finalist at all four), the Russian has made significant strides in recent months, winning a $25K title in Perth in February, grabbing her first tour-level doubles title in Bogota (w/ Dalila Jakupovic) in April and, this week, claiming the biggest singles title of her career at the WTA 125 Series event in Anning, China. In fact, Khromacheva became the first player to sweep both the s/d titles at a 125 event in three years. Oddly enough, the last player to pull off the feat was none other than Zheng Saisai, Khromacheva's opponent in this weekend's singles final. The Hordette recovered from a 6-3/4-1 deficit and saved 3 MP in the 3rd vs. Zheng in the final, winning 3–6/6–4/7–6(5) to end the Chinese player's 14-match winning streak and deny her a successful title defense at the event (and fourth win there in five years, with the previous years the event taking place on the ITF challenger level). Khromacheva has now won ten consecutive pro singles finals (17-4 overall). She'll jump sixty-three spots in the rankings, going from #210 to #147.

Meanwhile, 22-year old Paolini -- at #135 after this week, making her the *third* highest ranked Italian, which says much about the current state of her nation's (almost) post-Quartet landscape -- had the best week of her career while going about it all in an entirely unconventional way. In Prague, after falling in qualifying to Antonia Lottner, Paolini entered the draw as a lucky loser and pulled upsets over Dasha Kasatkina (her first Top 20 win, and just her second WTA victory) and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (the reigning champ in Bogota, where Paolini posted her first career WTA MD win a few weeks ago). In her first tour QF, she fell to Hsieh Su-wei, but at least proved, along with Giorgi this week, that maybe the sight of Italian women raising their games on red clay won't be a *totally* unknown occurrence a short while from now.

VETERAN: Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU was quite a week for Buzarnescu, just not quite as great a week as it *could* have been. On Friday, the Romanian celebrated her 30th birthday with not only her first trip to a tour-level doubles final, but also to her second (w/ Hobart) singles final of 2018. After having suffered through a 1-5 stretch (2-6 since defeating Ostapenko in Doha) in recent weeks after her 9-4 stretch in January/February, she picked up steam once again with wins over Beatriz Haddad, Antonia Lottner (who'd defeated defending champ Mona Barthel) Kristyna Pliskova and Camila Giorgi (the Italian had served for the match) to reach the final. As things turned out, though, Buzarnescu lost the doubles final with Lidziya Marozava, then fell in three sets in the singles decider to Petra Kvitova despite having scrambled to recover from a 4-1 deficit to take the opening set. She's since dropped her 1st Round match in Madrid to Maria Sharapova. Still, she'll rise to a new career-best #32 in the new rankings, up forty spots from where she ended '17.

COMEBACKS: Ajla Tomljanovic/AUS and Alexandra Dulgheru/ROU
...Tomljanovic's journey toward a return to form from 2016 shoulder surgery has been long, but the progress is real. This week, for the first time since playing for the Pattaya City title in 2015, the Aussie reached a tour-level singles final. In Rabat, the 24-year old went through the likes of Silvia Soler Espinosa (3 sets), Kirsten Flipkens, Jana Fett (3 sets) and Aleksandra Krunic to reach her second career WTA final. She fell in two to Elise Mertens, leaving her without a singles title of any kind since winning on the challenger circuit in Dothan, Alabama five years ago (she's lost six straight ITF/WTA finals since). But after being a Top 50 player in '15, then falling outside the Top 900 a year later due to the injury, Tomljanovic will find herself back in the Top 75 this week, having cut her ranking in half since the end of the '17 season.

In Rabat, the also injury-plagued Dulgheru, 28, made some small steps forward and upward. A Top 30 player in 2011, the fiery Swarmette (#176) lost in qualifying to young Pastry Fiona Ferro, but got into the draw as a lucky loser. She upset Timea Babos in her opening match despite seeing the Hungarian serve for the match and hold a pair of MP, recording her first WTA MD win since Bucharest last year with the 2-6/7-6(7)/7-5 comeback victory. She lost in three sets in the 2nd Round to Ukrainian teen Katarina Zavatska.

FRESH FACE: Katarina Zavatska/UKR
...the 18-year old Ukrainian utilized a wild card berth into the Rabat main draw and recorded her first WTA win (over 17-year old Moroccan Diae El Jardi, making her WTA debut), then followed up with another over Alexandra Dulgheru before losing to Hsieh Su-wei in the QF. Zavatska was coming off an appearance in a $25K challenger final in Wiesbaden (a run which included 1 & 1 1st Round win over Tamira Paszek, playing her first event since March of last year). She'll jump sixty-three spots in the new rankings, into the Top 200 for the first time.

DOWN: Dasha Kasatkina/RUS
...after some sterling play during the early hard court season, Kasatkina's results have been a bit spotty of late. The Russian's run of a Saint Petersburg SF, Dubai and Indian Wells finals and Charleston QF (in her title defense attempt) was one of the best, non-hardware earning, stretches by any player this season. But her 7-6/6-3 1st Round loss in Prague to lucky loser Jasmine Paolini was her third straight on clay this season, an odd occurrence for a player who lists Rafa Nadal as her tennis idol and inspiration. But such a slip on red clay isn't a new thing for Kasatkina. Last year, after winning on green clay in Charleston, she went 1-3 on red heading into Roland Garros, where she put together back-to-back wins before falling to Simona Halep in the 3rd Round. She's at least managed to break the string in Madrid, opening with a 7-5/7-6 win over Wang Qiang.
ITF PLAYERS: Vera Lapko/BLR and Taylor Townsend/USA
...Lapko's ladder-climbing spring continued its upward trend with a career-best title run in a $100K challenger in Khimki, Russia. The 19-year old Belarusian recently reached the Lugano semis as a qualifier (as well as the WD final), and had a hand in the deciding doubles win in the Fed Cup WG Playoffs vs. Slovakia. This week, she knocked off Julia Glushko, Vitalia Diatchenko and then Anastasia Potapova (playing in her biggest final after wins over #1-seeded Monica Niculescu, #3 Evgeniya Rodina and even Margarita Gasparyan, competing in her fourth '18 event after a long recovery from a knee injury) in a 6-1/6-3 championship match. Lapko didn't drop a set all week while picking up her fifth and biggest pro singles title. She'll break into the Top 100 in the new rankings.

In Charleston, Townsend's already successful March toward the USTA's Roland Garros wild card berth added yet another momentum-gathering result with a $80K challenger title run. The 22-year old posted wins over fellow Bannerettes Whitney Osuigwe, Katerina Stewart and Madison Brengle in a 6-0/6-4 final that gives her eight career challenger crowns and will lift her ranking to a career-best #73.
JUNIOR STARS: Kaja Juvan/SLO and Lina Glushko/ISR
...while neither Juvan nor Glushko have played a junior-level match in '18, they'll both have to qualify for this week's honor in lieu of a better junior circuit nominee.

In Balatonboglar, Hungary, 17-year old Juvan (girls #12) picked up her third career ITF crown with a 6-4/6-1 win in the final over Romanian Raluca Georgina Serban. Last season, Juvan post some impressive junior results, including reaching the final in Roehampton preceding Wimbledon, then winning the girls doubles at SW19 with Olga Danilovic. Also last summer, she was crowned the European Junior Champion when she defeated Marta Kostyuk in the event's singles final.

First 25k title! Thankful for everyone helping me on my way ??????????#3

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Fresh off some good Fed Cup results playing doubles beside her older sister Julia, 18-year old *Lina* Glushko won her maiden pro title in the $15K Akko event in her native Israel. Ranked #1062 on the WTA computer, Glushko didn't lose a set all week, wrapping up the title with a 6-3/6-3 win over Caroline Werner in the final. She'd never advanced past the QF round in any ITF challenger event prior to her title run.

The best way to finish the week?? #FirstProTitle?? #15k

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DOUBLES: Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke (USA/CZE) and Anna Blinkova/Raluca Olaru (RUS/ROU)
...a week after falling in the Stuttgart final to Atawo/Groenefeld, Melichar & Peschke got right back into the game in Prague, winning a 3rd set TB in the 1st Rd. (def. Krejsova/Maleckova), taking out top-seeded Hlavackova/Voracova and then defeating Buzarnescu/Marozava in straights in the final. While the win gives the pair their first title together, and 24-year old Melichar her second WTA crown, it gives 42-year old Peschke her 29th and allows her to successfully defend the title she won a year ago with Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Not surprisingly, Peschke has a long history with tournaments in her hometown, having played in her first tour-level doubles final there in 1998 (w/ Michaela Pastikova) in Prague's previous incarnation (1992-11) as a WTA host city before the city's 2015 return to the schedule.

In Rabat, Blinkova & Olaru picked up a title in their first tournament as a duo. An unseeded pair, they prevailed in two 3rd set TB's (1st Rd. vs. #4 Kalashnikova/Schoofs, 2nd Rd. vs. Jurak/J.Moore) and then defeated Garcia-Perez/Stollar 3 & 4 in the final. For Olaru, a full decade older than her 19-year old partner, it's career title #7 for the 2005 Roland Garros girls singles & doubles finalist (and '06 U.S. Open girls doubles champ with this week's singles & doubles finalist in Prague, Mihaela Buzarnescu), while Blinkova (the '15 Wimbledon girls runner-up) picks up her maiden tour-level title of any kind. With her ITF results, the Hordette is now 7-0 in career WD finals.


1. Anning 125 Final - Irina Khromacheva def. Zheng Saisai
Zheng, the defending champ at the Anning event and the winner of the title three of the last four years (before it went from ITF challenger to WTA 125 Series tournament), was riding a 14-match, two-title (WTA 125 and $60K) winning streak before failing to convert thee MP vs. Khromacheva here, after having also led 6-3/4-1. Still, after being out from the end of the U.S. Open until March of this year, Zheng has compiled a 20-4 record in '18.

2. Prague Final - Petra Kvitova def. Mihaela Buzarnescu 4-6/6-2/6-3
Rabat Final - Elise Mertens def. Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2/7-6(4)
Kvitova and Mertens can't quite escape each other. Both picked up their third title of the season, but neither have been able to lead the tour in that category all on their own this season. Kvitova's 14-match win streak is the season's longest, but Mertens (13 in a row after her 1st Rd. win in Madrid over Alison Van Uytvanck) is right on her tail.
3. Prague 1st Rd. - Samantha Stosur def. Dasha Gavrilova
...6-3/4-6 ret.
Before prevailing in this all-Aussie affair after Gavrilova retired, Stosur had dropped four straight matches (and 5 of 6). This was her first win on clay since her 3rd Round defeat of Bethanie Mattek-Sands at last year's Roland Garros, before a three-set loss to eventual champ Alona Ostapenko one round later. Stosur had come to Paris last spring off a title run in Strasbourg. In Prague, she reached the QF (losing to Camila Giorgi), and has already notched a 1st Round win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Madrid.
4. Rabat 1st Rd. - Johanna Larsson def. Rebecca Peterson
You say there aren't enough all-Swedish match-ups in tennis these days? Well, here's one to tide you over until the next.
5. Prague 1st Rd. - Petra Kvitova def. Tereza Smitkova 6-1/6-3
Prague QF - Petra Kvitova def. Katerina Siniakova 6-3/6-3
Petra notches two wins over fellow Czech Maidens following her 24-match, 5+ year streak-ending loss to Krystina Pliskova in Charleston. She's now 47-9 vs. her countrywomen during her career.
6. Rabat 2nd Rd. - Elise Mertens def> Laura Siegemund
...6-7(5)/6-0/3-1 ret.
Siegemund's calf injury ended her threat to Mertens, but not until after ther German had taken the only set the Waffle lost all week long. Siegemund put up a 1st Round win over Ana Bogdan, but her loss here dropped her to 5-5 in her comeback (3-4 in WTA matches). She came to Rabat ranked #226, after having been #32 (with a 12-3 season record on clay) the week of the spring '17 knee injury that kept her out of action for nine months.

7. Madrid 1st Rd. - Victoria Azarenka def. Aleksandra Krunic
She's back... and now on the road.

8. Prague 1st Rd. - Elena-Gabriela Ruse def. Bernarda Pera
The 20-year old Swarmette posted a qualifying win over Marta Kostyuk, then saved a MP here en route to a new career high (#205). Pera has rebounded with a 1st Round win over Aryna Sabalenka in Madrid.
9. Anning 2nd Rd. - Peng Shuai def. Yang Zhaoxuan
Peng has had a tough '18. She broke up with longtime (with extended breaks between stints) doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei (after a nasty public disagreement about a shared trainer) despite reaching the Australian Open and Dubai finals, and she entered last week 0-5 in singles this season, without a win since November. As the #1 seed, she narrowly avoided the upset threat from #794 Yang (better known of late as a Top 30 doubles player), and advanced to the semifinals, her best result since Tianjin last fall (SF loss to Sharapova). She was ousted in the 1st Round in Madrid by Garbine Muguruza.
10. Madrid 1st Rd. - Kristina Mladenovic def. CoCo Vandeweghe
Just like in Fed Cup, it's Kiki over CoCo on clay. But Sloane's not going to clean things up so everyone can go home with a smile on their face this time.
HM- Madrid 1st Rd. - Irina-Camelia Begu def. Alona Ostapenko
Latvian Thunder was 14-4 (9-4 WTA MD) on clay heading into what would become a title run at Roland Garros. So far, she's 3-2 (w/ her 2-0 FC mark) this year.

1. Madrid 1st Rd. - Anett Kontaveit def. VENUS WILLIAMS
The Estonian is at it again. This is Kontaveit's fourth career Top 10 win. All four have come against former slam champs (Muguruza, Kerber, Venus and Ostapenko), with three of the four (so far) having also spent time at #1.

2. Prague 1st Rd. - ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA def. Heather Watson
That feeling when you've gotten over a hump to a point where a 1st Round win is worthy of a selfie, but the moment isn't necessarily life-altering...

3. Prague 2nd Rd. - Jasmine Paolini def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
And you can then lose to a lucky loser one round later but...
4. Madrid Q2 - ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA def. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
...4-6/6-2/7-5. doesn't shake your confidence so much that you can't immediately rebound and qualify to reach the main draw of an even bigger tournament a few days later (and come back from 5-3 down in the 3rd set to do it). Alas...
5. Madrid 1st Rd. - Anastasija Sevastova def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
But AKS shall return.
HM- Prague 1st Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Karolina pulled out of the originally-schedule 1st Round match-up with her twin sister, allowing her the opportunity to cheer her on to victory from the stands. A year after reaching the final in Prague, Kristyna went out in the QF to Buzarnescu.


3 - PETRA KVITOVA, CZE [Saint Petersburg,Doha,Prague]
3 - ELISE MERTENS, BEL [Hobart,Lugano,Rabat]
2 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [Brisbane,Dubai]

Shenzhen: Simona Halep, ROU (d. Siniakova)
Dubai: Elina Svitolina, UKR (d. Kasatkina)
Monterrey: Garbine Muguruza, ESP (d. Babos)
RABAT: ELISE MERTENS, BEL (d. Tomljanovic)

Australian Open - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2 MP - 2r/Fett)
Charleston - Kiki Bertens, NED (1 MP - SF/Keys)
[WTA 125]

92...Serena Williams, USA
83...Venus Williams, USA
59...Maria Sharapova, RUS
52...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2 in '18)
40...Svetlana Kuznetsova,RUS
36...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
35...Jelena Jankovic, SRB
30...Vera Zvonareva, RUS
29...Simona Halep, ROU (2)
28...Aga Radwanska, POL

Brisbane - Aliaksandra Sasnovich/BLR (0-1) + L
Hobart - Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU (0-0) + L
Taipei City - Kateryna Kozlova/UKR (0-0) + L
Acapulco - Stefanie Voegele/SUI (0-0) + L
Ind.Wells- Naomi Osaka/JPN (0-1) + W
Lugano - Aryna Sabalenka/BLR (0-1) + L

2 - Julia Goerges = Hard(W),Green Clay(L)
2 - ELISE MERTENS = Hard(W),Red Clay(WW)
2 - PETRA KVITOVA = Hard(WW),Red Clay(W)
2 - MIHAELA BUZARNESCU = Hard(L),Red Clay(L)

Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (ws)
Dubai - Elina svitolina, UKR (ws)
Acapulco - Lesia Tsurenko, UKR (ws)
Stuttgart - Raquel Atawo, USA (wd)
Prague - KVETA PESCHKE, CZE (wd)

**WTA SF in 2018**
4...Simona Halep, ROU (2-1+L)
3...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2-1)
3...Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (2-1)
3...Julia Goerges, GER (2-1)
3...Angelique Kerber, GER (1-2)
3...Garbine Muguruza, ESP (1-1+W)

SF - Budapest - Viktoria Kuzmova, SVK
3rd - Aust.Open - Bernarda Pera, USA
2nd - Dubai - Wang Qiang, CHN
2nd - Miami - Oceane Dodin, FRA
2nd - Charleston - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (via w/o)

Shenzhen: Simona Halep/ROU (WW)
Shenzhen: Katerina Siniakova/CZE (LL)
Hobart: Elise Mertens/BEL (WW)
Lugano: Elise Mertens/BEL (WW)
Lugano: Aryna Sabalenka/BLR (LL)

19 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Lugano-L) - 19,11m,1w
20 - Naomi Osaka, JPN (IW-W)
20 - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (Dubai-L)
20 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (Miami-L)
20 - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (IW-L)
[WTA 125]
18 - Sofya Zhuk, RUS (Newport Beach-L)
19 - Fanny Stollar, HUN (Budapest-W/Rabat-L)
19 - Vera Lapko, BLR (Lugano-L)
19 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Lugano-L)
20 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (Doha-W)
[WTA 125]
19 - GUO HANYU, CHN (Anning-L)
20 - Jil Teichmann, SUI (Newport Beach-W)

27 - Hana Mandlikova (1978-87)
24 - Jana Novotna (1988-99)
23 - PETRA KVITOVA (2009-18)
10 - Karolina Pliskova (2013-18)
10 - Helena Sukova (1982-92)
10 - Regina Mariskova (1976-81)
7 - Lucie Safarova (2005-16)
6 - Nicole Vaidisova (2004-06)

3...Klepac/Martinez-Sanchez (0-3)
2...Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik (1-1)
2...Makarova/Vesnina (0-2)
2...Krejcikova/Siniakova (0-2)

Naomi Broady, GBR
Georgina Garcia Perez, ESP
Simona Halep, ROU
Irina Khromacheva, RUS
Bibiane Schoofs, NED
Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
Fanny Stollar, HUN

**2018 $100K FINALS**
Midland, USA - Madison Brengle/USA (#88) d. Jamie Loeb/USA (#153)

MADRID, SPAIN (Premier Mandatory/Red Clay)
2009 Dinara Safina def. Caroline Wozniacki 6–2, 6–4
2010 Aravane Rezai def. Venus Williams 6–2, 7–5
2011 Petra Kvitova def. Victoria Azarenka 7–6(3), 6–4
2012 Serena Williams def. Victoria Azarenka 6–1, 6–3
2013 Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova 6–1, 6–4
2014 Maria Sharapova def. Simona Halep 1–6, 6–2, 6–3
2015 Petra Kvitova def. Svetlana Kuznetsova 6–1, 6–2
2016 Simona Halep def. Dominika Cibulkova 6–2, 6–4
2017 Simona Halep def. Kristina Mladenovic 7–5, 6–7(5), 6–2
QF: Kuznetsova d. Bouchard
QF: Mladenovic d. Cirstea
QF: Halep d. Vandeweghe
QF: Sevatova d. Bertens
SF: Mladenovic d. Kuznetsova
SF: Halep d. Sevastova
F: Halep d. Mladenovic
2009 Black/Huber d. Peschke/Raymond
2010 S.Williams/V.Williams d. Dulko/Pennetta
2011 Azarenka/Kirilenko d. Peschke/Srebotnik
2012 Errani/Vinci d. Makarova/Vesnina
2013 Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova d. Black/Erakovic
2014 Errani/Vinci d. Muguruza/Suarez Navarro
2015 Dellacqua/Shvedova d. Muguruza/Suarez Navarro
2016 Garcia/Mladenovic d. Hingis/Mirza
2017 L.Chan/Hingis d. Babos/Hlavackova
SF: Babos/Hlavackova d. Begu Halep
SF: L.Chan/Hingis d. Parra Santonja/Soler Espinova
F: L.Chan/Hingis d. Babos/Hlavackova
WS: #1 Halep, #2 Wozniacki
WD: #1 Makarova/Vesnina, #2 Sestini-Hlavackova/Strycova

...Halep goes for the tournament's first three-peat. She'll face Mertens in the 2nd Round. Hmmm... a status report, or a previous of something down the line?

#1 Halep d. #14 Kasatkina
#7 Garcia d. Sevastova
#7 Garcia d. #1 Halep

#2 Sestini-Hlavackova/Strycova d. #7 Klepac/MJMS

And, finally, a sad farewell to Jhoon Rhee, the "father of American taekwondo" who taught the likes of Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali, who died this week at age 86. The television ads for Rhee's martial arts classes in the Washington D.C. area were ever-present throughout this Backspinner's childhood, with the jingle for the commercials (written and recorded by Nils Lofgren, who'd go on to become a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen) sticking like glue in the minds of everyone who heard it, and still being able to elicit a warm smile even now (as everyone's memories proved this past week when they heard the news).

"Noboby bothers me." "Nobody bothers me, either." (wink)



All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Kvitova still on track to be #1 after Wuhan, even if she loses to Puig.

4 Spaniards left, 3 Romanians as we enter rd 2.

Begu should be the favorite over Sharapova.

Konta/Pera again.

Quiz Time!
Mihaela Buzarnescu had a chance this weekend to win both her first singles and doubles titles. She lost both, but who was the last woman to do so on the WTA level?

A.Irina Khromacheva
B.Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
C.Jelena Ostapenko
D.Elise Mertens
E.Margarita Gasparyan

Interlude-Although it isn't official until the match actually starts, the fact that Azarenka has 4 other non US events listed is great news.

As usual, part of the fun is figuring out why the other answers are wrong. Khromacheva is not correct, as she won her first WTA doubles title in Colombia last month. However, she did win her first WTA 125 singles and doubles titles this weekend.

It also isn't Lucic-Baroni. Confusing, because she won the first singles event she ever entered, as well as doubles, but not only we they not the same event, they weren't the same year.

Ostapenko is the obvious wrong answer, as we are coming up on the one year anniversary of her French Open win. But also won her first doubles title last season in St. Pete.

Mertens is also the wrong answer, but just as the others, she has an interesting story too. She used Australia as a springboard, winning her first doubles title in Auckland in 2016, then winning her first singles title in Hobart in 2017. Cleaning it up, she chose 2018 to win both titles in Hobart, beating Buzarnescu for the singles title.

That leaves (E) Gasparyan, the 2015 Baku winner as the last to do both. Margarita has spent most of the last 2 years injured, so Baku as of now is her only singles title.

The interesting thing about that? Until that week, she had never had a WTA tour level win.

Sun May 06, 07:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Quiz: I got it this time. I remembered Gasparyan sweeping (nice to see her back playing a little, finally... so much promise early on, too), but had to think for a moment about Mertens... but then I remembered when she swept Hobart this year I'd noted that she hadn't done so in '17, so I eliminated her, and voila! :)

Sun May 06, 08:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Just to tease you a bit. You say RED clay in Madrid. It's actually blue from 2012 to 2014 ;)

Mon May 07, 02:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, yes. I think it might have been just that one year (2012) because it was so "controversial," but I wish they'd kept using it -- Tiriac said it was the same as red, just a different color, so it was mainly for television (or maybe the title sponsor). It gave the event a unique look. But some players were babies about it (largely Nadal, who lost in the 3rd Rd., so...) and they changed it back after one year (making Serena and Federer the only blue clay title winners, so there's another list they top).

When hard courts made the change to blue it felt and looked odd at first, but now it seems strange to see the old non-blue courts in highlights. Though it was only one event, I suspect the players would have gotten used to it.

#WhyWeCantHaveNiceThings ;)

Mon May 07, 12:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Ah, and Leif... good comeback from Caro (down 4-2 in 3rd vs. Barty) today. ;)

Mon May 07, 12:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Yeah Caroline always like to tease us fans. Btw did you hear that Monday the Danish queen Margrethe 2. made official that The Order Knight of the Dannebrog, a Danish order of chivalry instituted in 1671 by Christian V, is was given to Caroline Wozniacki. In our days, the Order of the Dannebrog is a means of honouring and rewarding the faithful servants of the modern Danish state for meritorious civil or military service, for a particular contribution to the arts, sciences or business life or for those working for Danish interests.
So Dame Wozniacki from now on - nice me thinks ;)

Tue May 08, 05:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, The Dane is a Dame. Not bad. ;)

Here's the Wikipedia page for the honor.

Tue May 08, 01:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Serena officially pulled out of Rome.

This brings up something somewhat related, as she has not pulled out of the French. Nor has anybody else in the MD. Others have pulled out of qualies or never entered, like the retiring Vinci and for unknown reasons Lucic-Baroni.

The new rules regarding the 50% payout have players waiting until the last minute to pull out. But if you need to know who not to pick to win a match, as a reminder, the 5 women in the Top 100 that came into the AO without any match play all lost.

With only a few weeks to go, we have double that number of women who have not played on clay-Top 100 plus selected others.

Niculescu and Nara go in their own category, as they have played ITF events on hard in the last month, but not clay, so they probably stay in the field.

Kanepi and Radwanska also are separated, as they did play, Kanepi in qualies, and Radwanska in Istanbul, stopping due to injury.

Rest are listed with last event played:
Bacsinszky*-Miami-Note-played doubles in Rabat, but injured before singles match.
Rogers*-IW- Officially 3 out, so assume she gets in, but doubt she can play

So that gives you 8 without a clay match, and 12 total that are at a disadvantage. We will see who decides to pass and play another day.

Wed May 09, 11:48:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Expected (hoped for) good form from Halep aside, this Roland Garros (as it always is, I guess) is looking to be super-threatening as far as trying to make picks. :/

Speaking of Serena, the second episode of her HBO show airs tonight. It appears that it will deal with some of the complications during Alexis Olympia's birth.

The first episode was quite good, and made me remember the short-lived behind-the-scenes show that aired a few years ago with both Serena and Venus. Oracene was an unquestioned "star" in that one, and she naturally managed to have a short, tells-it-like-it-is scene last week, too. ;)

Wed May 09, 06:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Match of the year? It is in the top 5 at the very least, but Kvitova vs Bertens-Blanco, if you don't get the joke, Blanco is Muguruza's other last name, was worth the price of admission. Arguably, both should be in front of Halep on the short list for the French. And both should pull out of Rome.

Sat May 12, 03:37:00 PM EDT  

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