Monday, June 18, 2018

Wk.24- In the Name of The Bracelet

It's the grass court season. Do you know where your Bracelet is?

Why, she's in the WTA winner's circle for the very first time, of course.

(Hmmm, am I wrong to think that this is a *very encouraging* start to the grass court season?)

S: Ash Barty/AUS def. Johanna Konta/GBR 6-3/3-6/6-4
D: Alicja Rosolska/Abigail Spears (POL/USA) d. Mihaela Buzarnescu/Heather Watson (ROU/GBR) 6-3/7-6(5)
DEN BOSCH (Rosmalen), NETHERLANDS (Int'l/Grass)
S: Aleksandra Krunic/SRB def. Kirsten Flipkens/BEL 6-7(0)/7-5/6-1
D: Elise Mertens/Demi Schuurs (BEL/NED) d. Kiki Bertens/Kirsten Flipkens (NED/BEL) 3-3 ret.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Ash Barty/AUS and Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
...ever since she began the season by reaching the Sydney final and Australian Open 3rd Round, went 4-0 in the #1 singles position in a pair of Aussie Fed Cup victories, and then won a pair doubles titles in Miami and Rome, Barty has seemed to be on the verge of something big. She's not quite there just yet, but she *did* get her first singles title of the season this weekend in Nottingham. It's the second of her WTA career after winning in Kuala Lumpur early last year then dropping three straight singles finals (albeit to players named Kvitova, Garcia and Kerber) before this triumphant result on the grass. The 22-year old Aussie reached the final without dropping a set, defeating Stefanie Voegele, Duan Yingying, Katie Boulter and Naomi Osaka to set up a match with '17 finalist Jo Konta. She won a tight three-setter, prevailing 6-4 in the 3rd vs. the Brit, then seeing her win rather healthily overshadowed by Konta's protests over a non-overrule from the chair umpire, then storming off the court post match and delaying the trophy ceremony. Still, Barty's first grass title, in her second tour-level grass final (Birmingham '17), will surely fuel hope for her upcoming trip to SW19, where she's still seeking her first MD Wimbledon win despite being a former junior champ at the event in 2011.

Meanwhile, have no fear, The Bracelet in here! The one-time Fed Cup Apprentice-turned-Good Luck Charm is now the official leader of *all* the Bracelettes, both on the international team competition stage *and* as a singles player of high standing in her own right. Yay!

While Barty won what was arguably the "bigger" title this weekend, the exciting news around these parts is that our gal Aleksandra Krunic can now officially be called a WTA singles champion. The 25-year old Serb, filling in the rather gaping hole left in her nation's women's tennis landscape after the retirement of Ana Ivanovic and maybe-retiring-maybe-not-we'll-see-I-don't-know (what else would one expect from JJ?) existence in the WTA atmosphere of one Jelena Jankovic, took the title in raging comeback fashion at Rosmalen. After defeating the likes of Valentini Grammatikopoulou (allowing 1 game), Bibiane Schoofs and Veronika Kudermetova, things got *really* interesting. Reaching into her bag and pulling out far too amazing many shots to recount, Krunic saved a MP against #1-seed and two-time champ CoCo Vandeweghe in the semifinals, erasing a set and 4-2 deficit, saving a MP in the 3rd, to reach her second tour-level singles final (w/ Guangzhou last September). The win made Krunic the only player so far this year to record *two* wins over a tournament's #1 seed, having previously defeated a retiring Garbine Muguruza in Brisbane in Week 1. Once in the final, after dropping the 1st set (via a love TB) despite having led 5-3 and served for it vs. Kirsten Flipkens, who was playing in her second final of the weekend after having retired from the WD championship match due to leg cramps, Krunic came back again for the victory, this time from another set and a break (twice, in fact) hole. Flipkens served for the match at 5-4 in the 2nd, only to see Krunic get the break and proceed to take nine of the final ten games en route to the win.

No stranger to publicly (and sweetly) comforting her opponents after beating them -- she ended *both* the careers of Kimiko Date and Roberta Vinci in the past nine months -- Krunic was humble in victory and heaped praise on the physically-compromised-but-still-fighting Flipkens, saying, "I don't know how you pulled this off, mate, but the fact that you didn't show how much pain you were in today, makes me respect you more."

Krunic is just the second first-time tour singles winner in 2018 (after Naomi Osaka in Indian Wells), and her win improves the record of title-less WTA singles finalists to 2-7 in championship matches this season. Such competitors were 12-10 in '17, and 45-51 overall from 2014-17. Meanwhile, she's also the first Serbian woman to win a tour singles title since Jankovic in 2015 (Guangzhou). She'll rise to a new career high of #39 on Monday.

RISERS: Donna Vekic/CRO, CoCo Vandeweghe/USA and Naomi Osaka/JPN
...Vekic, while she was a player who showed promise early in her career (reaching four WTA singles finals as a teenager, doing so in her first tour-level MD in '12 and winning one in '14, as well as reaching the RG 3rd Round at age 18 in '15), was something of a surprise winner in Nottingham a year ago after finishing just outside the Top 100 in back-to-back seasons. Her win in last year's final over then-#8 Jo Konta gave her her biggest career title *and* win in one fell swoop. The now nearly 22-year old (on June 28) Croat returned to Nottingham to defend her title sporting a ranking of #42, a career best, but without a WTA semifinal result since her title run 52 weeks ago. Vekic didn't successfully defend her crown, but she played well, reaching the semifinals after getting wins over Gabriella Taylor (via a 3rd set TB, so... whew!), Vera Lapko and Mona Barthel. Her run had an unfortunate end, as she lost the rematch with Konta in the SEMIfinals. The Osijek-born (ala Jelena Dokic, FYI) Vekic will slip outside the Top 50 on Monday, but will surely hope she won't be returning to Nottingham in 2019 looking for her *next* SF-or-better result.

Vandeweghe has finally reached *her* part of the WTA schedule. Aside from a surprise clay final appearance in Stuttgart (a 4-1 week, with wins over *both* eventual RG finalists *and* Caroline Garcia), Vandeweghe had been in something of a holding pattern all season heading into her '18 grass debut at Rosmalen. She'd gotten a Fed Cup win in February (vs. NED), but lost to Kiki Mladenovic in the U.S.'s April semifinal win over France, ending her long FC unbeaten streak. Otherwise, she'd gone just 2-6 in WTA play, with four one-and-done tournaments. This week, though, was the unofficial "start of summer" for her. It's the stretch of the season where she's had her most consistent success. It's where she's won both her tour titles (at Rosmalen in 2014 and '16), reached big hard court finals in Stanford (2012 and '17), and was a home soil semifinalist at the U.S. Open nine months ago. While she's never reached the final four stage at Wimbledon, it's still her most consistent slam (QF-4r-QF the last three years). She returned to Rosmalen as the #1 seed this past week. She put up a good result, reaching the semifinals after notching victories over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Arantxa Rus and Alison Riske. Although, she had to save *seven* MP vs. Riske to advance, then ended up failing to convert her own MP vs. Aleksandra Krunic a day later in the semifinal, falling to the eventual champ in three sets. Still, one can't help but thing that Vandeweghe's season has only *now* officially begun, as whether or not she'll ultimately determine her '18 campaign to be a success will be based on what her results are between THIS tournament and the U.S. Open three months from now. Things didn't get off to a perfect start, but it was surely a memorable one, as well as one to build on.

CoCo battles and wins! ???????? #LibemaOpen

A post shared by Libéma Open (@libemaopen) on

Everything involves a learning process for world #18 Osaka. Her Indian Wells title run showed the (so far) top end of her potential result scale, but her big game will likely eventually play well on the grass every summer, as well. While she did reach the $100K Surbiton final on grass three years ago, Osaka's tour-level success on the surface is still a work in progress. In her Wimbledon debut in '15 she lost in the opening round of qualifying. When she returned to London last year she knocked off Barbora Strycova and pushed Venus Williams. Last year in Nottingham, she lost 1 & 1 in her opening match to Kristie Ahn. This year she notched victories over Sachia Vickery, Denisa Allertova and Mihaela Buzarnescu en route to the semifinals, where she fell to eventual champ Ash Barty. So, stay tuned for something significantly bigger from the 20-year old. Maybe at Wimbledon in a few weeks or, if not there, probably at about this time *next* summer, or the one after that.

It may take a *tad bit* longer for her to master billiards, though.

SURPRISE: Katie Boulter/GBR can't talk about British women's tennis without touching on the results of *at least* one Katie, and this week it's Boulter's turn.

The 21-year old Leicestershire product has been making great strides in 2018. After being "devastated" by her defeat in a winnable three-setter vs. Christina McHale in her slam MD debut at Wimbledon last summer (she'd been granted a WC by the AELTC after having spent 2015 and early '16 battling injury and illness, missing a year of action on the court), Boulter has used the first half of the new year to set herself up for another go at SW19 in a few weeks. Having already won her first $25K and $60K titles this season, Boulter reached the $100K Surbiton QF a week ago, then followed that up in Nottingham (as a WC) with her first tour-level QF result after knocking off veterans Yanina Wickmayer and Samantha Stosur. She lost there to eventual champ Ash Barty. After an 8-8 start in '18, Boulter has gone 14-5 since. The top Brit not named Jo, Heather or Naomi, and the *highest*-ranked Katie, she'll rise into the Top 150 for the first time (#139) on Monday and is about as much of a lock for a Wimbledon WC berth as *any* player on the list of potential "invitees."

Feels when you make your first @wta QF ????

A post shared by Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter) on

VETERANS: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL and Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU
...Flipkens was all over the tournament at Rosmalen this past week. Quite literally. The 32-year old Waffle reached both the singles and doubles finals, playing a trio of matches on Friday, two more on Saturday (though she retired from the WD final), and then added another three-setter in the final on Sunday. Along the way to her first singles final in two years (her third '18 QF+ result, and second SF+), Flipkens defeated doubles partner Kiki Bertens, and blew four MP in the 2nd set vs. Viktoria Kuzmova and then stormed back from 4-1 down in the 3rd to get the win anyway. In the final, the Belgian, slowed by a leg injury, failed to defeat Aleksandra Krunic despite holding a set and a break lead. If Flipkens had gotten the win, she'd have surpassed Pauline Parmentier (by two months) as the oldest WTA singles champion this season, and picked up her first crown since winning her lone tour singles title in Quebec City in 2012. Somewhat surprisingly, this was just the second grass court singles final of Flipkens' career. Other than her loss in this same Rosmalen event's final in 2013, her other 25 career finals (+2 WTA, 23 ITF) have come on hard, clay or carpet. She was semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2013.

In Nottingham, Buzarnescu's late-blooming, hard-earned, run of much-appreciated success added yet another chapter. Following up on her best-ever slam performance in Paris -- where she got her first slam MD win, upset Elina Svitolina en route to the Round of 16, *and* reached the doubles QF -- Buzarnescu shifted over to the grass courts and posted her fourth QF-or-better WTA result of the year on a third different surface. At this time a year ago, the then 29-year old hadn't even played in her first career MD tour-level match. In the same week in which her clay court work got her the WTA's Breakthrough of the Month award, the Romanian won back-to-back three-setters over Veronica Cepede Royg and Irina Falconi, and joined with Heather Watson to upset #1-seeds L.Kichenok/Kudryavtseva on her way to her third WD final of the season with her third different partner (the duo lost to Rosolska/Spears).

COMEBACKS: Jo Konta/GBR and Mandy Minella/LUX
...a year ago, Konta reached the final in Nottingham, seeking to become the first Brit to win a WTA title on home grass since 1975. She lost to Donna Vekic in three sets, then went on to reach the Wimbledon semis (the first British woman to do since Virginia Wade in '78) as she wrapped up a 13-3 (not counting a walkover loss after that nasty fall in Eastbourne) grass court campaign. She reached #4 in the rankings, but the past year has been a time of coaching changes and oft-disappointing outcomes. Konta returned to Nottingham this past week ranked outside the Top 20, having not reached a final since last year's event, gone 1-3 in slams since Wimbledon and just 13-17 in WTA matches over the past twelve months (not counting her 5-0 mark in Fed Cup). The return to grass, even for a player who has often been her *best* on hard courts, sparked a not-unexpected resurgence, as she reeled off wins over Kurumi Nara, Heather Watson, Dalila Jakupovic and even Vekic in a semifinal rematch of last year's final, returning to the championship match without losing a set. Again, she played a tough three-setter in the championship match, this time against Ash Barty, but again she came up short. In the middle of all this she nearly melted down -- in that awkward, British-accented way, wagging "naughty" finger and all, in which things don't sound nearly as disrespectful as they might with an American accent, but even so that she went a bit off the rails *is* still quite apparent -- after the chair umpire didn't overrule a line call at 4-4 in the 3rd (Konta had scrambled back from 4-1 down), giving Barty the game and her final and definitive lead in the match. She later refused to shake the umpire's hand and stormed off the court, delaying the trophy presentation.

Hmmm, what hath Karolina wrought, anyway?

(Of course, at least Jo didn't destroy any property... but, you know, why not go ahead and do that since you're just going to get a slap on the wrist anyway, right?)

In Essen, Germany, it was Minella picking up her second ITF crown since giving birth to her daughter nearly eight months ago. The 32-year old Luxembourgian vet defeated Romania's Irina Bara in a 7-5/4-6/6-4 final to claim her thirteenth career circuit crown and win her seventh consecutive singles final (in ITA & WTA 125 events) since 2013.

(The third picture below hits all points of the story, by the way... she probably should have put *it* first.)

FRESH FACES: Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK, Veronika Kudermetova/RUS and Antonia Lottner/GER
...Kuzmova's progress in 2018 has, honestly, moved along at an ever quicker pace than anticipated.

The Slovak began the year having appeared in just two tour-level main draws, at the U.S. Open last summer after a successful Q-run and in Linz. She qualified for the AO in Melbourne in January, became a sudden Fed Cup star in February (when she got the clinching win in Slovakia's first ever victory over Russia), then reached the semifinals in Budapest (as a LL) in just her sixth career WTA MD. She won her first $60K title in March, became a clutch FC stalwart (at 19) in April by sweeping Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Aryna Sabalenka in SVK's 3-2 loss to Belarus, won her first $100K crown in May, made her Top 100 debut, and recorded her maiden slam MD win at Roland Garros. Having just turned 20 last month, Kuzmova was at Rosmalen last week, in her ninth career WTA MD. After notching wins over Alison Van Uytvanck (from down a set and a break) and Antonia Lottner she reached her second WTA semi, and came within a blade of grass (seemingly) of adding "first-time finalist" to her list of accomplishments. Kuzmova saved four MP against Kirsten Flipkens, at one point firing back-to-back-to-back forehand winners from 5-4 and 40/30 down in the 2nd set, winning a TB to send things to a 3rd set, where she led 4-1 before stumbling at the finish and dropping the final five games to the veteran Belgian.

Sigh. If she'd reached her first final, with her challenger results, it would have given singles final appearances on three different surfaces in 2018. Additionally, she won a grass court challenger title in Australia early last season, as well as another title on carpet last summer, as well. Sounds a bit like the sort of all-surface we saw from Anett Kontaveit early in the '17 season.

Kuzmova will rise to a new career-high of #66 on Monday, the same day she'll try to get the win (vs. Sofya Kenin) to qualify for the Mallorca MD (#10). After that, she could soon get her first career Top 20 win. And, who knows, maybe the next "big step" will be to finally get a photo on her official WTA bio page.

(I know *I'm* on the edge of my seat about that last one. How 'bout you?)

Come on. Hop to it, WTA.

A year ago, 21-year old German Lottner got her first career WTA MD win at Rosmalen via an upset of then world #6 Dominika Cibulkova. Come July, she reached her first career tour QF in Gstaad. She returned to the Netherlands this past week and brought her two biggest career achievements together, reaching her *second* QF at the tournament where she got her first win. She had to go through qualifying to do it, though, staging a comeback in her opening match from 6-2/5-3 down to defeat Ula Radwanska. In the MD, she upset Anna Blinkova and #2-seed Elise Mertens before finally losing to Kuzmova.

Meanwhile, Kudermetova is just the latest NextGen Hordette to put up a career best result. At Rosmalen, the 21-year old reached her first career tour QF after posting wins over defending champion Anett Kontaveit and Belinda Bencic.

DOWN: Marketa Vondrousova/CZE
...the "year after" her initial tour-level success has been a grind for Vondrousova, as she's continued to show promise but hasn't seen it come her way as "easily" as it seemed to in 2017, when she won her maiden WTA title in Biel in just her second tour-level MD appearance. In retrospect, when the site of the tournament where she won her title last spring was moved to Lugano (and transformed from an indoor hard court to outdoor clay event), she probably should have known (she fell in the 2nd Round in the April event to Elise Mertens, who won it). This week, the Czech opened her grass campaign by falling in three sets to Aryna Sabalenka at Rosmalen, after having served for the win in the 2nd set and led 3-1 in the 3rd, only to see the Belarusian sweep the final five games. The loss continues a close-but-not-quite sort of season for the 18-year old. She's posted wins over the likes of Julia Goerges, Johanna Konta, Yulia Putintseva and even Sabalenka (in two short sets in Indian Wells), but lost previous three-setters in would-be upset bids vs. Mertens, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Garcia that might have changed the entire course of her season. The Czech is 13-11 overall in '17, but a 5-1 chunk of that is from qualifying rounds, so she's just 8-10 in MD outings. Vondrousova reached the Top 50 in March, but will be #104 on Monday.
ITF PLAYERS: Alison Riske/USA and Ons Jabeur/TUN honor of the two $100K grass court challenger champs of the spring.

Riske won in Surbiton during the second week of play at Roland Garros (she lost in the 1st Round in Paris to Simona Halep), where she maintained her career-long prowess on the surface by not dropping a set all week vs. the likes of Irina Falconi, Katy Dunne, Kristie Ahn, Priscilla Hon and Conny Perrin to take her first singles title since she won the tour-level event in Eastbourne in 2016. This week, Riske was at Rosmalen, where she reached the QF after posting wins over Tatjana Maria and Fanny Stollar, and very nearly advanced even deeper in the draw. She held seven -- seven! -- MP vs. two-time tournament champ CoCo Vandeweghe before ultimately falling to her countrywoman in the nearly three-hour battle.

This week in Manchester, Jabeur, a Roland Garros girls champ in 2011, won the biggest title of her career on the grass without dropping a set. Career ITF win #11 is her first since the 2016 season, and her first on grass since winning two in '13. Unseeded in the event, the 23-year old Tunisian (who finished at #88 in' 17, but came into the week at #180), knocked off three seeds en route to the title, defeating Naomi Broady, #3 Viktorija Golubic, #6 Evgenina Rodina and #5 Sara Sorribes Tormo. Jabeur started 2018 at 1-9 (and was 1-11 extending back into last season), but since her 1st Round loss in Charleston to Dasha Gavrilova she's gone 15-5. She'll be #133 on Monday.

JUNIOR STARS: Lea Ma/USA, Wang Xiyu/CHN and Wang Xinyu/CHN
...all-Bannerette junior finals barely make one blink an eye anymore, and so may have been the case again this weekend in Offenbach, Germany if not for the familial relation of one of the last two players standing. In a Grade 1 clay event, the U.S. girls featured included #41-ranked girl Lea Ma (by way of the IMG Academy) and #84 Elizabeth "Elli" Mandlik (by way of Hall of Famer mom Hana Mandlikova's womb... sorry it was sitting right there, so I had to go for it). You remember Hana...

Both 17-year olds were going for their maiden G1 title. Mandlik reached the G1 Coffee Bowl semis in January, while the very same month saw Ma lose in a pair of G1 finals in Colombia & Costa Rica (both times to Maria Camila Osorio Serrano during her outrageous early-season run). On Sunday, it was Ma who prevailed, winning 6-4/7-5.

Lea Ma (USA)
Crédito: Matheus Joffre/CBT

Meanwhile, it's officially getting to the point where we're going to have to be wary and aware of the difference that one letter can make when discussing Wang and Wang.

17-year old *Xiyu* picked up her first pro title with a doubles win (w/ the U.S.'s Jessica Ho) in the $25K challenger in Barcelona, in her third ITF doubles final, defeating the duo of Carolina Meligeni Rodrigues Alves & Jade Suvrijn 6-3/6-1. The junior #11, Xiyu twice lost in the Traralgon G1 final and Australian Open girl singles QF to eventual champ Liang En-shuo in January, then in the Roland Garros QF to eventual runner-up Caty McNally last week. She was the girls doubles RU (w/ Lea Boskovic) to Danilovic/Kostyuk at last year's U.S. Open.

16-year old *Xinyu*, the girls #4, reached her first pro singles final at this weekend's $15K in Maribor, Slovenia. Wang, the AO girls doubles champ (w/ Liang) who lost in the RG singles 3rd Round to eventual champ Coco Gauff, advanced to the Maribor final without dropping a set. She defeated Victoria Kan (a 19-time ITF singles title winner) in a pair of TB in the semis, then fell in straights to Pastry Irina Ramialison in the final.

DOUBLES: Elise Mertens/Demi Schuurs, BEL/NED and Alicja Rosolska/Abigail Spears, POL/USA
...while she's still looking for slam success, Schuurs has "pulled a Svitolina" in doubles this year and seems to have this "regular season" stuff down cold. At Rosmalen, the Dutch woman added still another title to her tour-leading '18 haul (this makes it 5), winning the national "I'm-Dutch-and-I-want-a-Belgian-doubles-partner" competition by joining forces with Mertens to defeat countrywoman Kiki Bertens, who had Waffle Kirsten Flipkens by her side. Of course, Flipkens' heavy workload -- a three-match Friday, then two on Saturday, with the singles final awaiting on Sunday) -- contributed to Mertens/Schuurs claiming the title when their opponents retired at 3-3 in the opening set of the championship match. In the end, Schuurs picked up her eighth career tour title, and her third overall with Mertens, who won her third of the season. They're the first duo in this season's game of "doubles teams musical chairs" to win a second '18 title together, while both have now won WD crowns this year on three different surfaces (hard/clay/grass).

Of course, the Rosmalen final was a study in virtually all the ways in which the tour "Doubles Rubik's Cube" can be solved. Not only did it feature two different Dutch-Belgian teams, but Schuurs has also won an '18 title with Bertens, and played with Flipkens in '17. Mertens won her non-Demi '18 WD with Flipkens, while Flipkens was the defending Rosmalen doubles champ. In last year's final, she and Dominika Cibulkova defeated, naturally, Bertens & Schuurs. Oh, and Bertens and Flipkens also played each other in the 2nd Round of singles this week. Sooo, you know.... WTA doubles exists in its own alternate universe

In Nottingham, Rosolska (32) and Spears (36) combined to become the oldest (68 years) doubles title-winning duo of 2018. They survived a 10-6 3rd set TB against the British Katies (Boulter & Swan) in the 1st Round, then didn't drop another set all week, wrapping things up with a win over Mihaela Buzarnescu & Heather Watson in the final. For San Diego native Spears it's career title #21, her seventh win her last eight WD finals (she als won the '17 AO Mixed crown in the stretch), and her second Nottingham title in four years (she won with Raquel Atawo, then Kops-Jones, in '15). Rosolska picks up her first grass court crown, and her eighth career WTA doubles win with, yes, an *eighth* different partner. (See alternate universe theory above.)


Meanwhile, though not techically coming on "Justine Henin Day," it's never a bad time to celebrate LPT's most recent birthday with some old highlights.

1. Rosmalen SF - Kirsten Flipkens def. Viktoria Kuzmova
Flipkens held a MP as she served up 7-5/5-4, only to see Kuzmova fire three straight forehand winners to get the break, then save three more MP in the TB. The Slovak didn't lose a point on her serve in her first three service games in the 3rd, and led 4-1. But then it all fell apart. Flipkens won the final five games of the match, overcoming Kuzmova's 44 total winners to win in 2:36.


2. Rosmalen SF - Aleksandra Krunic def. CoCo Vandeweghe
Krunic's master class in shotmaking took down the two-time Rosmalen champ and #1 seed, erasing a set and a break deficit and saving a MP in the 3rd. But, really, all you really need to do is watch. Just a few...

3. Rosmalen Final - Aleksandra Krunic def. Kirsten Flipkens
After both staged comebacks to reach the final, you have to know another was coming *in* it, right? After failing to take the 1st after leading 5-3, then losing in a 7-0 TB and falling behind 2-0 in the 2nd, Krunic grabbed hold and began her climb back against an opponent hurting at the end of a long week, but giving it all she had left to give. Flipkens took another break lead in the 2nd, and served for the match at 7-6/5-4. Krunic got the break, and won nine of ten matches to close out her maiden tour title.

4. Rosmalen QF - CoCo Vandeweghe def. Alison Riske
It says something about the matches this week in Den Bosch that one where the winner saved SEVEN match points almost gets lost in the shuffle in the end. Well, that happened here. Vandeweghe won the 1st set on her sixth SP. In the 3rd, she failed to convert at MP before Riske forced things to a TB. Ultimately, CoCo saved seven MP before finally winning on her own fifth MP... then went on to squander a MP in the SF vs. Krunic, who then took the title a day later.

5. Nottingham 1st Rd. - Donna Vekic def. Gabriella Taylor
A loss vs. the defending champ, but with this match and her QF run a week ago in the $100K Surbiton event (in which she defeated Heather Watson and Fanny Stollar) has 20-year old Taylor (like Boulter) essentially put herself in an unassailable position for a Wimbledon wild card?
6. Nottingham SF - Jo Konta def. Donna Vekic 6-2/6-3
Nottingham Final - Ash Barty def. Jo Konta 6-3/3-6/6-4
the more things changed in Nottingham for Konta, the more they eventually stayed the same. That may not be a bad thing in few weeks, though.
7. Rosmalen Q1 - Fanny Stollar def. Demi Schuurs
Schuurs' first singles match since losing in Rosmalen qualifiying in 2015.
8. Rosmalen 2nd Rd. - Kirsten Flipkens def. Kiki Bertens
Doubles partners in singles.

9. Nottingham 2nd Rd. - Mona Barthel def. Magdalena Rybarikova
Barthel nearly let slip a 5-2 3rd set lead, but got the win over the '17 Wimbledon semifinalist.
10. Rosmalen 1st Rd. - Arantxa Rus def. Ekaterina Alexandrova
Alexandrova fired eighteen aces, but was error prone, squandering two MP against one of the few Dutch players NOT to reach a final this weekend in Den Bosch.
11. Rosmalen 1st Rd. - Aryna Sabalenka def. Marketa Vondrousova
Vondrousova served at 6-0/5-4, and led 3-1 in the 3rd, but Sabalenka swept the final five games of the match to get her first win in four tries vs. the Czech.
12. Toyota Open International de L'ile de Re Final - Yui Kamiji def. Dana Mathewson
Kamiji, who just lost her #1 ranking to Diede de Groot (by 25 pts.) last Monday (despite beating her in the RG final), extends her singles winning streak to twenty matches. She hasn't lost since de Groot defeated her in the Australian Open final in January.

And, hey, a nice result from a Mathewson, who also reached the final at this event in 2017, when she also lost to Kamiji. Mathewson describes herself on Instagram as "Just a tennis-playing, ear-studying, dessert-loving, California girl." So, there's that.


13. Rosmalen 1st Rd. - Veronika Kudermetova def. Anett Kontaveit
Defending champ Kontaveit's battle of results high's vs. low's continues.

14. $25K Obidos POR Final - Dejana Radanovic def. Nuria Parrizas Diaz
The 22-year old Serb wins her second straight challenger title in her third consecutive final. But she did it the same week that countrywoman Krunic won her maiden WTA title, so...
15. $25K Sumter USA Final - Taylor Townsend def. Alize Lim
Townsend's sixth challenger title since October.
16. $25K Kofu Final - Misaki Doi def. Lisa-Marie Rioux
Doi swept the s/d titles here, getting her first singles crown of any kind since 2015.
HM- $15K Maribor SLO Final - Irina Ramialison def. Wang Xinyu
Pastry Ramialison is on a 16-2 run on the challenger circuit.

... Juste trooooop happy ???? @bidi_badu

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Grass court season is here, so...

Into the final????Sisters final tomorrow??#15k

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The Czech siblings faced off for the fourth time, the second time in a pro final ($10K Bol '16), with 23-year old Gabriela collecting her first career win over her 19-year old sister. It's the Maiden's tenth career title, but her first since 2016. Magdalena had been seeking her second crown of 2018.

2. Rosmalen Q1 - Antonia Lottner def. ULA RADWANSKA
While Aga hasn't played since retiring in Istanbul in April, and hasn't posted a win since recording her first career #1 victory in six years over Simona Halep in Miami in March, Ula has made something of a mini-comeback of late. Since mid-April, she's qualified in there straight $60K challengers and posted RU/SF results in a pair of $25K events. This loss though, in a match in which she led 6-2/5-3 and served for the win against eventual quarterfinalist Lottner (who'd go on to upset #2-seeded Mertens), dropped her to 21-13 on the season.
3. $25K Singapore Final - JULIA GLUSHKO def. Risa Ozaki
The 28-year old Israeli completed a three-week run in Asia by playing in her third straight final, winning in Singapore after going 1-1 in previous championship matches in Hua Hin.

HM- Rosmalen 1st Rd. - Ajla Tomljanovic def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
After losing early in the Netherlands, Kristyna has now officially landed in Great Britain.


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Meanwhile, Sara Errani's week began with her reaching last weekend WTA 125 semifinal, then withdrawing after seeing her suspension extended by another eight months (she'd already lost points and served two months last season, then fought her way back into the Top 100) for the fabled "Tortellini Incident" accident which *was* accepted as the reason for her positive test in '17. But never wanting to *not* go overboard in the desire to make an example of someone, a frustrated Errani was pushed to the point of being "disgusted" and talking about maybe not returning to tennis. Thankfully, she's since calmed down and regained her fighting Italian spirit.

"Thank you so much for your beautiful messages of encouragement... you're giving me a crazy strength! I hope to return as soon as possible in CAMPO...VI hug all ??"

Hey, she won Roland Garros, so Simona she gets extra attention this week.

?? is special

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina?? (@kasatkina) on

It’s still the weekend over here ??

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Australian Open - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2 - 2r/Fett)
Charleston - Kiki Bertens, NED (1 - SF/Keys)
Anning 125 - Irina Khromacheva, RUS (3 - F/Sai.Zheng)
Strasbourg - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (2 - F/Cibulkova)
Rosmalen - ALEKSANDRA KRUNIC, SRB (1 - SF/Vandeweghe)

Auckland: Julia Goerges, GER (F-Wozniacki)
Australian Open: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (F-Halep)
Doha: Petra Kvitova, CZE (SF-Wozniacki)
Budapest: Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (F-Cibulkova)
Indian Wells: Naomi Osaka, JPN (SF-Halep)
Rome: Elina Svitolina, UKR (F-Halep)
Strasbourg: A.Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (SF-Barty)
Rosmalen: ALEKSANDRA KRUNIC, SRB (SF-Vandeweghe)

**2018 WTA DOUBLES...**
[most titles]
2 - Gaby Dabrowski, CAN - 2 HC (+1 MX HC)
2 - Ash Barty, AUS - 1 HC/1 RC
[most finals - duos]
3...Krejcikova/Siniakova (1-2)
3...Makarova/Vesnina (1-2)
3...Klepac/Martinez-Sanchez (0-3)
2...Babos/Mladenovic (1-1)
2...Garcia Perez/Stollar (1-1)
2...Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik (1-1)
2...Melichar/Peschke (1-1)
2...Flipkens/Larsson (0-2)
[most finals - individuals]
5...DEMI SCHUURS (5-0)
3...Katarina Srebotnik (2-1)
3...Barbora Krejcikova (1-2)
3...Ekaterina Makarova (1-2)
3...Katerina Siniakova (1-2)
3...Elena Vesnina (1-2)
3...Andreja Klepac (0-3)
3...Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (0-3)
[oldest champion]
42 - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague)
37 - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (Charleston/Nurnberg)
36 - ABIGAIL SPEARS, USA (Nottingham)
35 - Raquel Atawo, USA (Stuttgart)
33 - Vera Zvonareva, RUS (Saint Petersburg)
32 - Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (Lugano)
32 - Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER (Stuttgart)
32 - Hsieh Su-wei, TPE (Indian Wells)
32 - ALICJA ROSOLSKA, POL (Nottingham)
[oldest championship combination]
68 yrs - ROSOLSKA/SPEARS (32/36) = Nottingham
67 yrs - Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik (30/37) = Charleston
67 yrs - Atawo/Groenefeld (35/32) = Stuttgart
66 yrs - Melichar/Peschke (24/42) = Prague
[oldest finalist]
42 - Kveta Peschke (Stuttgart-L/Prague-W)
37 - Katarina Srebotnik (Charleston-W/Nurnberg-W)
36 - Katarina Srebotnik (Saint Petersburg-L)
36 - Anastasia Rodionova (Strasbourg-L)
35 - MJ Martinez Sanchez (Brisbane-L/Doha-L/Charleston-L)
35 - Raquel Atawo (Stuttgart-W)

2011 6 - Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik
2012 8 - Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
2013 5 - Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai
2014 5 - Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci
2015 9 - Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza
2016 5 - Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza
2017 9 - Latisha Chan & Martina Hingis
2011 6 - Kveta Peschke, Katarina Srebotnik
2012 8 - Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci
2013 5 - Hsieh Su-Wei, Sania Mirza, Peng Shuai, Kristina Mladenovic
2014 5 - Sara Errani, Peng Shuai, Roberta Vinci
2015 10 - Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza
2016 8 - Sania Mirza
2017 11 - Latisha Chan

**2018 $100K FINALS**
Midland, USA (hci) - Brengle/USA (#88) d. Loeb/USA (#153)
Khimki, RUS (hci) - Lapko/BLR (#111) d. Potapova/RUS (#238)
Cagnes-sur-Mer, FRA (rco) - Peterson/SWE (#113) d. Yastremska/UKR (#180)
Trnava, SVK (rco) - Kuzmova/SVK (#106) d. Cepede Royg/PAR (#88)
Surbiton, ENG (gr) - Riske/USA (#83) d. Perrin/SUI (#193)
Manchestser, ENG (gr) - Jabeur/TUN (#180) d. Sorribes Tormo/ESP (#114)

Coffee Bowl G1: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Copa Barranquilla G1: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Traralgon G1: Liang En-shou/TPE
Prague G1: Maria Timofeeva/RUS
Australian Open GA: Liang En-shuo/TPE
Mundial Juvenil G1: Gabriella Price/USA
Asuncion Bowl G1: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Banana Bowl G1: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL
Yeltsin Cup G1: Lenka Stara/SVK
Porto Alegre GA: Leylah Annie Fernandez/CAN
Nonthaburi G1: Zheng Qinwen/CHN
Sarawak Chief Minister's Cup G1: Naho Sato/JPN
Perin Memorial G1: Clara Tauson/DEN
Trofeo JCF G1: Diane Parry/FRA
U.S. Int'l Spring Chsp G1: Hurricane Tyra Black/USA
Beaulieu-sur-Mer G1: Eleonora Molinaro/LUX
Mediterranee Avenir G1: Yasmine Mansouri/FRA
Santa Croce G1: Zheng Qinwen/CHN
Trofeo Bonfiglio GA: Eleonora Molinaro/LUX
Astrid Bowl G1: Alexa Noel/USA
Roland Garros: Coco Gauff/USA
Offenbach G1: Lea Ma/USA

=WS 2017=
QF: Safarova d. Gavrilova
QF: Kvitova d. Mladenovic
QF: Muguruza d. Vandeweghe
QF: Barty d. Giorgi
SF: Kvitova d. Safarova
SF: Barty d. Muguruza
F: Kvitova d. Barty
=WD 2017=
SF: Barty/Dellacqua w/o Mirza/Vandeweghe
SF: A.Chan/Zhang Shuai d. Atawo/McHale
F: Barty/Dellacqua d. A.Chan/Zhang Shuai
WS: #1 Muguruza, #2 Svitolina
WD: #1 Babos/Mladenovic, #2 S.Hlavackova/Strycova

#3 Ka.Pliskova d. #6 Kasatkina
#4 Kvitova d. #8 Vandeweghe
#4 Kvitova d. #3 Ka.Pliskova
Barty/Vandeweghe d. #2 Hlavackova/Strycova

=WS 2017=
QF: Goerges d. Lisicki
QF: Bellis d. Kr.Pliskova
QF: Garcia d. Vinci
QF: Sevastova d. Konjuh
SF: Goerges d. Bellis
SF: Sevastova d. Garcia
F: Sevastova d. Goerges
=WD 2017=
SF: L.Chan/Hingis d. Melichar/Smith
SF: Jankovic/Sevastova w/o Goerges/ Knoll
F: L.Chan/Hingis w/o Jankovic/Sevastova
WS: #1 Garcia, #2 Kerber
WD: #1 Klepac/MJMS, #2 N.Kichenok/An.Rodionova

#1 Garcia d. #4 Kontaveit
#2 Kerber d. ??? (I'll put Kuzmova here if she qualifies and is placed in that section... otherwise, the Sevastova/Sveta 1st Rd. winner)
#2 Kerber d. #1 Garcia
Azarenka/Kuznetsova def. Knoll/A.Smith (hey, who knows here, so why not?)

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

WTA scoreboard is still backwards during tiebreaks. They have the right score once the match ends, but weird that hasn't been fixed yet.

Have been studying Jakupovic's game. Nothing jumps out at me, maybe she will have to keep winning.

Part of the charm of Flipkens' game on grass is her commitment to coming in. She forces you to hit a good passing shot or lob, and a less accurate player than Krunic would have lost.

Stat of the Week-18- Different grass court winners in the 1990's.

That was 18 out of 35 events. Well, actually 33, as 2 finals were cancelled due to rain- 1997 Eastbourne and 1998 Birmingham.

The other odd thing? In 1990, Virginia Slims held Newport after Wimbledon.

Quiz Time!
Who won the most grass court titles in the 1990's? Multiple answers accepted.

A.Lori McNeil
B.Steffi Graf
C.Martina Navratilova
D.Meredith McGrath
E.Conchita Martinez

Interlude-Up/Down Side with a premier this week. And next week too!

How can I not have Jana Novotna as one of the answers? That is easily explained by telling you why Meredith McGrath is not the answer, as they both had 2 titles, along with Tauziat, making them 3 of the 7 players with multiple titles that decade. And yes, Novotna's 2 grass titles came in the same month.

Martinez only grass title famously was Wimbledon in 1994, when she beat before her prime Davenport in QF, past her prime Navratilova in F, and in her prime McNeil 10-8 in SF.

It also isn't the underrated grass specialist, at least the second half of her career, Lori McNeil. 1994 Wimbledon is the one that got away. Had she reached the final, she probably would have won.

McNeil won 3 titles on grass this decade, leaving her 3rd. But to show how her career went, her 10 titles were split this way- 4 grass, 4 hard, 2 carpet. Of her 21 finals, 6 were on grass, including 4 of her last 5. For a one month surface, she maximized her time on it.

So B & C are your answers, as both Graf and Navratilova won 5. Martina won all of hers in the first half of the decade, while Graf stretched it out some.

Since grass is so rare now that only grass specialists or top players win, really only 2 of the 18 stood out as an anomaly. Ruxana Dragomir only won 1 grass title, and Puerto Rico's Kristina Brandi won her only career title on the surface.

Mon Jun 18, 07:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Pliskova- This week's pick. The former Eastbourne and Nottingham winner is the only player to have reached a final on grass each of the last 3 years. Has a possible fun matchup with Osaka looming.
2.Kerber- This week's other pick, and the woman who defeated Pliskova in the Birmingham final back in 2015, if she brings her French open form, she is the clear favorite.
3.Osaka- She has the look. If you want to look for a "surprise" Wimbledon QF-ist, look no further. More comfortable on grass that clay, she showed signs that the future could be now. Or in 3 weeks.
4.Konta-19-8 on grass in 16-17, there is a comfort level for her, both in surface and country. And even though the ball looked in, the fact that Konta blew up may not be a bad thing. Serena has had her moments, Vika can be prickly, and Maria has been known to grab her bag and go, forcing a stoppage of play. Short version? Konta expected to win, and that hasn't been a given this year.
5.Riske-Another that loves the grass. One thing she will have to do is fix her slam/Wimbledon history, which is so ridiculous, you might think that I made this up. I didn't! Riske has been not been all or nothing at the slams, more like fair to middling or nothing. In her last 16 slams, she has either lost in the 1st rd(13 times), or reached the 3rd(3 times). Wimbledon is the same. 7 times in main draw, 4 1st rd exits, 3 3rd rd exits.

Mon Jun 18, 07:17:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Stephens-Not a true down, but Stephens isn't playing this week, and needs work on grass. After all, it is her "worst" surface. I kid, but the fact that she lost to Bartoli in 2013 Wimbledon QF means that it is the only slam in which she hasn't reached a SF. The other red flag is that in the last 2 years, Bencic has won as many matches on grass as Stephens has played-4. And Stephens is the one of this two that played on grass last year.
2.Vesnina- Obviously not faulting Vesnina for living out a once in a lifetime dream and watching Russia host the World Cup. They only got in as the host country, something that might guarantee US participation in 2026, as they won a joint bid with Canada and Mexico. Not sure if all 3 will get spots, but also talk of expanding from 32 to 48 teams. Back on topic, Elena missing this week isn't big, but is she misses Eastbourne, she will not have any leadup play for Wimbledon. Eastbourne's winner in 2013, she has played every year since 2011.
3.Sharapova-Every 4 or 5 years, she has a good run at Wimbledon. Don't expect this to be one of those years. By pulling out of Birmingham, Sharapova has become a one and done in Great Britain. Due to the fact that she was injured last year, and suspended in 2016, she hasn't played on grass since 2015. And add the fact that the Olympics were played on Wimbledon grounds, Maria hasn't played on grass away from Wimbledon since Birmingham 2010. Third round exit, if that, is expected.
4.Larsson-The streak is over! She won in qualies(Von Deichmann)-one match, that is, so the 11 match, 7 year streak of losses on grass is over. Is this the year her 0 for Wimbledon streak ends?
5.Kuzmova-She just reached a tour level semi final, how can I possibly have her on the down list? Blowing a 4-1 third set lead for starters. But in NBA Draft week, in which we split hairs over talented players-Doncic and Bamba are the best this year, let's split hairs over the 20 yr old Slovakian. The bad? Her footwork is between Davenport and Konta to the point that she will be at a disadvantage to anybody with a drop shot. At 5-11, she struggles getting to a low ball, and the attitude could be better, but she's young. Garcia went from being difficult to a model citizen on court. The good? The strokes are clean, and she has an idea of what to do on the court. Her slam breakout is coming. Real soon.

Mon Jun 18, 07:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Final notes-Bouchard trying to make the main draw coming from qualies. Has only done it once since Beijing 2013, in Cincinnati 2016. Has had 7 WC since then.

Makarova only playing singles this week, so will stay co #1. Chan with a win would be less than 100 pts away from the top spot.

Re-Konta and home soil- Saw a tweet about Sue Barker. She won in Brighton back in 1981, but on carpet. Konta will end the grass streak soon.

Mon Jun 18, 08:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

QUIZ: Hmm, well, it seems obvious it'd be Graf due to her Wimbledon titles, but I don't know how often she played the tune-up events. Navratilova always did that, even in her later years. I still went with Graf. (Ah, so it wasn't really an either/or then.)

Only thing, with Serena, we know she'll usually use such moments to inspire herself. Not sure if we know that's the case with Konta, or whether it's a sign of the pressure she's going to be under to replicate her '17 semifinal at SW19.

One interesting question: Would it help or hinder Konta if Murray plays and/or has a second week run at Wimbledon? After the year she's had since her semi, would the pressure of being maybe the *only* British threat/tabloid attention-getter bring back memories of her 12-months of frustration, or would the great support she'd get, ala in '17, fuel her to another huge result? Hmmm.

Ah, World Cup... the only time I actually bother with soccer. And, yes, armed with an arsenal of sketchy knowledge, one preview section in the Washington Post, and Sports Illsutrated's Final 16 picks, I *have* made predictions for the whole thing, and pick every match each day (oh, there's nothing quite like accurately predicting a tie, I tell ya! -- I've done it twice... yes!). I have Portugal def. Spain in the final (BEL over ENG for 3rd).

So, yeah, all that I just said means absolutely nothing. :)

Those are good Kuzmova comparisons. But it should be noted that Davenport won Wimbledon and Konta has reached the semis. So... (see above comment regarding my World Cup picks) :\

Well, technically, Barker didn't win on "home *soil*" though, I guess. :D

Not a big surprise there have been conflicting accounts about tournament winners from the 1970's/80's, since trying to wrap your head around all the non-slam events that were held via the various branches of the women's game back then is sometimes sort of like trying to decipher cave paintings.

Mon Jun 18, 09:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

WTA stars show off their soccer skills. Well, most of them.

I claim stupidity on the Pliskova pick.

Re-Konta: Low expectations for Murray, but any wildcard on the men's side that wins a match, and Heather Watson in mixed, can serve as a screen so Konta isn't the only one getting all the attention.

Wildcards will be announced tomorrow.

Eastbourne will finish too late to affect seeding, so a quick look at who is on the bubble this week.

Halep is locked in at 1, and Wozniacki/Muguruza will be 2 & 3, depending on what Muguruza does this week. Stephens is not locked in at 4, as Svitolina moves up to 4 if she wins.

On the bottom, Buzarnescu at 30 has a big enough gap that it is unlikely she gets passed. But starting with Radwanska at 31, there could be a shakeup. In order, next are Cibulkova(lost), Begu(no play), Makarova(lost), Sakkari(lost), and Babos(still playing).

Kuzmova lost, but is in, as well as Voegele as LL, since Krunic and Flipkens pulled out.

One note: I don't really want to see Serena as 32nd seed, but Wimbledon has done this before. In 1982, Goolagong Cawley got the 16th and last seed after having her 2nd kid. She promptly lost her first match to a wild card- Zina Garrison in the 2nd rd, as she had a bye.

Tue Jun 19, 09:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think we both whiffed (I had Pliskova in the final) on the significance of the tiny little fact that Karolina was playing Rybarikova in the 1st Round. :\

Tue Jun 19, 08:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Wimbledon wild cards (three of the seven are of the British Katie/Katy persuasion, for the record):

Katie Boulter, 21 - (2017-18 WC)
Naomi Broady, 28 - (WC or Q eight times since '08; only reached 2r in '14)
Harriet Dart, 21 - (slam debut)
Katy Dunne, 23 - (slam debut)
Ons Jabeur, 23 - ($100K Manchester champ; '17 qualifier)
Katie Swan, 19 - ('16 WC; '15 girls QF)
Gabriella Taylor, 20 - (slam debut)

Wed Jun 20, 12:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Broady's backhand is the reason she hasn't had much success.

Jakupovic has been overseas to the max. But with her doing well this week, she should make the US Open directly. This is HUGE, as she lost in qualies the last two years. The point I am getting to? She has never won a match in the US, the 2 USO losses, and 2 ITF events back in 2014.

But we should expect that to change. After all, before this season, she had not played a match on grass since 2015.

Wed Jun 20, 05:01:00 PM EDT  

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