Sunday, June 24, 2018

Wk.25- An Era of Unbridled Petraism

Well, it's grass court season. And in this year of unabashed adoration of all things Petra, well, you know...

This week, the Czech named Kvitova showed up at the site of her first post-home invasion title run. And, well, you knoooow...

To be continued... in London?

S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK 4-6/6-1/6-2
D: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic (HUN/FRA) d. Elise Mertens/Demi Schuurs (BEL/NED) 4-6/6-3 [10-8]
S: Tatjana Maria/GER def. Anastasija Sevastova/LAT 6-4/7-5
D: Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (SLO/ESP) d. Lucie Safarova/Barbora Stefkova (CZE/CZE) 6-1/3-6 [10-3]

...Birmingham was where everything began to come together again for Kvitova. Six months after emergency surgery that saved her career, the Czech returned to her beloved English grass courts last summer and showed just why she's been the most lethal and feared lawn ornament not named Serena since she burst through the field to claim her first Wimbledon championship in 2011. Exactly one year ago, the Czech made Birmingham the site of her first title run in her comeback.

Well, this week, she returned. After a spring in which she shined on the clay, quite possibly a better player than she was before. When it was all over, she'd won the sixth title since her return, reaching five season titles faster than anyone since 2013 (Serena again), improving her '18 record from the QF on to an insane 15-0, and becoming the first player since 2015 (Kerber) to win titles on three different surfaces in a season. Her 25th career title breaks her out of a third place tie with Jana Novotna (24) for the most on tour by a player representing Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, putting her two behind all-time leader Hana Mandlikova's 27 (Ms.Navratilova, of course, won most of *her* crowns as either a "stateless" player or when representing the U.S.).

Last week, Kvitova reached the final without dropping a set, taking down Johanna Konta, Dasha Gavrilova, Julia Goerges and Mihaela Buzarnescu allowing just 7, 4, 5 and 5 games, respectively, to her opponents. While trying to defend her title in the final against Magdalena Rybarikova, Kvitova dropped the 1st set to the Slovak, but quickly rebounded and won the final two at 1 & 2.

We'll find out this week just what the All-England Club is going to do with Serena Williams and her position in the draw, but we won't know just where the seven-time SW19 is (figuratively, and competitively, I mean) with the injury that caused her first career mid-slam withdrawal in Paris until a little after that. But, until then and if/when Williams looks the part she's played in London so many times in the past (she hasn't lost there since 2014, coincidentally-or-not also the last year a certain Czech lifted the Venus Rosewater dish at the end of the fortnight), I suppose it's pretty clear who the Wimbledon favorite will be heading into Day 1, huh?
RISERS: Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU, Anastasija Sevastova/LAT and Alison Riske/USA
...the surfaces change, but Buzarnescu doesn't.

Since the turning of the calendar to 2018, the 30-year old Romanian haven't favored any one surface over another. She's just been consistently better than average, and sometimes *very* good, on all of them as she's steadily moved up the rankings through the season's first half. What once was a #72 ranking at the end of 2017 will be another new career high of #28 in the Monday rankings following Buzarnescu's fourth SF-or-better result of the season. After recording an early season RU result (and $100K SF) on hard courts, then another RU, SF and RG 4th Round on clay, the veteran Swarmette following up her Nottingham QF with another SF in Birmingham this week, defeating both Timea Babos and Petra Martic (Wimbledon Round of 16 in '17) in three sets, then solidifying her first career Top 5/10 win in Paris over Elina Svitolina by taking down the #5-ranked Ukrainian for the second time in a matter of weeks. Petra Kvitova proved to be too much to overcome in the semifinals, but Buzarnescu's latest spark of success is just another chapter in what is turning out to possibly be a runaway Most Improved Player candidacy for 2018.

Meanwhile, Sevastova's appearance in the Mallorca final was her third straight since the tournament was founded in 2016 (she also reached the WD final in '17). This week the 28-year old Latvian put up wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Antonia Lottner, Ajla Tomljanovic and Sam Stosur in her title defense attempt, though her loss to Tatjana Maria in the final does drop her overall singles record in the event to 13-2.

Riske didn't add another *huge* result to a grass court season that already included a $100K challenger win in Surbiton and a QF result at Rosmalen, but the Bannerette's second straight tour-level QF in Mallorca, where she went from qualifier to an upset winner over Angelique Kerber in a two-day match that was suspended at 1-1 in the 3rd set. She then got another win over Polona Hercog before somewhat surprising going down at the hands of Sam Stosur. Still, her uneven week *does* give her more QF-or-better results on tour than *any* of her countrywomen this season. Riske's four such results top the three posted so far from Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. After being ranked outside the Top 100 for much of 2018, Riske will be back in the Top 60 on Monday, her best standing since last October.

SURPRISES: Dalila Jakupovic/SLO and Johanna Larsson/SWE
...after having mostly toiled in virtual obscurity over the past decade, 27-year old Slovenian Jakupovic has made a quantum leap in results this season. Just over the last four months, really. Since winning the biggest title of her career in March in a $60K in Canberra, Australia (def. Destanee Aiava in the final), Jakupovic has posted her best WTA result (a SF in Bogota) and has surged into the grass court season by producing her second/third best tour level results by reaching back-to-back QF in Nottingham (where she got her first Top 50 win over #49 Camila Giorgi) and Birmingham (where she notched two Top 20 victories). This week in Birmingham, she qualified for the MD with wins over Jasmine Paolini (on her 7th MP in the two-day match, which had been suspended at 5-3, 40/30 in the 3rd set after Jakupovic had failed to convert 2 MP), Sachia Vickery and Bernarda Pera. In the 1st Round against Elise Mertens, she saved three MP and notched her first career Top 20 win on her sixth MP, then got past a second Top 20 player when Naomi Osaka retired from their 2nd Round contest. Jakupovic fell in the QF to Magdalena Rybarikova, but will climb into the Top 100 for the first time on Monday as she'll come in at #92.

That Larsson had a successful week isn't a "surprise," per se. The 29-year old Swede did win a title in Nurnberg a few weeks ago. But this week in Mallorca the success came on grass, and that *is* a break from Larsson's normal career pattern. She arrived in Spain having not won a singles match on grass since 2014 (a Q1 Eastbourne victory that came via a retirement from Mirjana Lucic-Baroni), and hadn't converted a MP on the surface since 2011 (Rosmalen vs. Kirsten Flipkens). Other than the Lucci retirement win, Larsson had lost all thirteen *full* grass court matches she'd played starting with a loss to Jelena Dokic in the Rosmalen QF seven years ago. Over the course of this past week, though, Larsson notched three straight wins on grass, defeating Kathinka von Deichman and Maryna Zanevska (from 7-5/5-1 down and saving 6 MP) in qualifying, then one in the MD over Sorana Cirstea before falling to #1-seeded Caroline Garcia.

VETERANS: Tatjana Maria/GER, Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK and Barbora Strycova/CZE
...while she hasn't gotten the same sort of press as others on tour, the now 30-year old Maria has put up her best career results since having her daughter Charlotte in December 2013. Her best slam result (RG 3rd '16), highest ranking (#46 last November) and now maiden tour singles final and title this week in Mallorca have all come since she became a mother. Truthfully, she got more attention when she threatened to sue -- or at least didn't deny that she was looking into the matter -- because Alize Cornet took too much time doing all her usual "Alize stuff" in a match between the two in Paris in 2016.

Last week, Maria posted wins over Anett Kontaveit, Carina Witthoeft, Lucie Safarova and Sonya Kenin to reach her first tour-level singles final (she's won fifteen ITF crowns, going 5-3 in $100K challenger finals going back to 2007). Once there, she outlasted defending champ Sevastova 6-4/7-5, coming back from 0-4 down in the 2nd to win in straights and record her second career Top 20 win. It makes her just the third first-time WTA singles champ of 2018, but the second in the past two weeks (along with "The Bracelet" Krunic, after Naomi Osaka in March). At 30 years old and a little over ten months, Maria is the oldest first-time singles champ on tour since a 31-year old Alberta Brianti won in Fes in 2011, and just the third thirtysomething maiden WTA title winner (w/ a 30-year old Peng Shuai in Tianjin in '16) in the timespan.

In Birmingham, the same tournament where she won her maiden tour title nine years ago, 29-year old Rybarikova once again showed her affinity for grass court tennis. Essentially giving herself a "mulligan" for her Nottingham result -- going three vs. Gabriela Ruse, then losing in three to Mona Barthel -- Rybarikova reminded everyone that she's a former Wimbledon girls finalist (2006, a loss to Wozniacki), and won a pair of $100K grass challenger tune-ups last year preceding her semifinal result at SW19. She opened with a win over Karolina Pliskova (she also defeated the Czech in the 2nd Round at last year's Wimbledon), than ran off a string of victories over Kristina Mladenovic, Dalila Jakupovic and Barbora Strycova to improved her grass court record to 23-3 in her last twenty-six matches on the surface and reach her eighth career tour-level final. Of course, that's when she met up with good friend Petra Kvitova. Rybarikova took the opening set, but then saw the Czech lift her game to a place where the Slovak could not follow, as she won just three total games in the 2nd and 3rd sets. So, while Rybarikova *still* hasn't won a tour singles title since defending her Washington D.C. crown in 2013, she's now likely put herself in confident position for another second week experience at the AELTC. Starting with her semifinal there last year, she's had four consecutive personal best (new or matching) slam results, advancing as deep as she ever has at the U.S. Open (3rd), Australian Open (4th) and Roland Garros (3rd) since her breakthrough result in London last summer.

In Birmingham, 32-year old Czech Strycova reached her first singles semifinal since her final four run in Linz last October, courtesy of victories over Jennifer Brady (who defeated her in the U.S. Open 2nd Round last summer), reigning Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza (2 & 4) and Lesia Tsurenko (who retired mid-way through the 2nd set). She lost to Magdalena Rybarikova in the semis, but will head to SW19 with momentum as she looks to record a Round of 16 or better result at a third consecutive slam for the first time in her career (she did it at the AO & RG). Strycova reached the Wimbledon QF in 2014, her best singles result at a major.

As always you have been incredible Birmingham !! ??????

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COMEBACKS: Samantha Stosur/AUS and Lucie Safarova/CZE & Barbora Stefkova/CZE
...Stosur and Safarova have combined for eleven overall slam titles (and seven more finals) during their career, with both reaching the singles Top 5 and doubles #1. Going into this past week, though, neither could call herself a Top 50 player, and only one was ranked in the Top 100.

Stosur was #103, sporting a triple-digit ranking for the first time since 2008. But the 34-year old Aussie, coming off a spring that saw her post two QF results on clay heading into Roland Garros, this week in Mallorca warmed up for Wimbledon by reaching a semifinal for the first time on tour since she won in Strasbourg last year. Wins over Marketa Vondrousova, Lara Arruabarrena and Alison Riske (yes, THAT Riske, 4 & 2, on GRASS... yes, THAT Sam Stosur) put the Aussie into the final four at a grass event for the first time since 2011 (Eastbourne). The result will lift Stosur to #86 this week.

Also in Mallorce, 31-year old Safarova made the first big strides in her latest comeback after missing time due to a recurrence of the sort of viral illness that's knocked her down and out in the past. The Czech was #53 in singles heading into the week, and #27 in doubles, but put up significant results in both disciplines. In just her third event since having to take another break from the tour in February, Safarova came into the week having gone 2-2 (and 1-1 in doubles) since her return. She posted back-to-back wins over Marta Kostyuk and Victoria Azarenka, the latter her second straight over the former #1 in their first meeting since the 2015 Doha final (officially turning the tables on their eight-match head-to-head series, as she'd lost her first six career match-ups with Vika from 2007-11, winning just one set). Safarova lost in the QF to eventual champ Tatjana Maria, but her first two-win tournament since the Australian Open will bump her ranking up to #66 on Monday.

In doubles, after announcing that Team Bucie would reunite at Wimbledon one year after Bethanie Mattek-Sands' ugly knee dislocation injury at the All-England Club, Safarova teamed with fellow Czech Stefkova to reach the doubles final (her first without BMS since 2014) without dropping a set. They fell to Klepac/Martinez Sanchez, but as was the case with her countrywoman it was a very good week for Stefkova. She was out of action in 2017 from mid-March until December due to a wrist injury, after having taken an upturn and reached a new career high of #154 in February. She returned at the end of the year, but then missed an additional two months this year with a lower leg injury. She's since rebounded by winning a $15K doubles title in March, reaching the WTA 125 WD final in Bol a few weeks ago, and now putting up her first tour-level doubles final result with Safarova. Playing with a protected ranking, Stefkova had been #727 in singles this week, and #247 in doubles.


FRESH FACES: Sonya Kenin/USA and Kaja Juvan/SLO
...19-year old Moscow-born Hordette Kenin broke out of her mini-slump (a five-match clay court losing streak, four of them in tour-level events, and 0-5 in her last five WTA events starting with Charleston) in Mallorca. Big time. Kenin, a top junior just a few seasons ago (ranking as high as #2, winning a Junior Fed Cup crown and reaching the '15 U.S. Open girls final), had been hitting her stride on the pro tour earlier this year on hard courts. She reached the Auckland QF, defeating Jana Fett *before* the Croat nearly upset Caroline Wozniacki in Melbourne, and then taking the 1st set herself vs. the Dane before losing in three. Kenin then qualified in both Indian Wells and Miami, posting three combined MD wins in the two events, one of them over Dasha Kasatkina, and then following that one up by taking Petra Kvitova to three sets after taking the 1st. In Mallorca, the world #91 qualified (knocking off Rosmalan semifinalist Viktoria Kuzmova) then added additional victories over Kateryna Kozlova, Alison Van Uytvanck and top-seeded Caroline Garcia to reach her maiden WTA semi and finally garner her first career Top 10 win after having come so close in her only two previous matches against top-ranked players Wozniacki and Kvitova. Her run ended at the hands of Tatjana Maria, but she'll climb to a new career high of #76 on Monday as she moves past the likes of Venr Lapko and CiCi Bellis to become the highest ranked teenager on tour.

Meanwhile, 17-year old Juvan picked up her fourth career ITF challenger win in the $25K event in Ystad, Sweden. The Slovenian defeated Romania's Andreea Amalia Rosca (a four-time ITF champ in '18) in three sets in the final to take the crown, winning her second title in four events and improving to 17-2 overall on the circuit since the the first week of May. On the verge of breaking into the Top 300, the teenager hasn't played a junior match since last October, but she's still the #19-ranked girl, having won the European Junior Championship last summer (def. Marta Kostyuk in the final), reached the Roehampton final (falling to Claire Liu, who'd go on to win the SW19 girls crown), and won the Wimbledon girls doubles title in '17. In 2016, she was the Orange Bowl champ after running off a (now obviously) impressive string of victories over Ashley Lahey, Olga Danilovic, Maria Carle, Whitney Osuigwe and Anastasia Potapova.

Unreal support this week, winning another 25k ?????? #4 #thankyou #tack

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DOWN: Anett Kontaveit/EST
...Kontaveit has always had a good relationship with the grass in her tennis career, but her experiences on the surface so far this month have left her wanting. The 22-year old Estonian lists Wimbledon as her favorite tournament, and she has good reason. In 2012, she reached the girls semis there, and a year later she played the final junior match of her career at the AELTC (losing to eventual champ Belinda Bencic in the 3rd Round). She made her slam MD debut at Wimbledon in '14 after a successful qualifying run (which had followed a 10-2 run in grass court challengers at age 18). In '15, another Kontaveit string of successes on grass (successively, a $50K Eastbourne win, $50K Surbiton SF and $50K Ilkley SF) earned her a Wimbledon wild card from the All-England Club. In 2016, the Estonian recorded a win over Caroline Wozniacki en route to the Nottingham QF, and qualified at Eastbourne. Last year, she won her first seven grass court matches of the season, grabbing the title at Rosmalen and reaching the 3rd Round at Wimbledon (def. Wozniacki again). This year, though, Kontaveit will arrive in London without a grass win under her belt. A week after falling to Veronika Kudermetova in the 1st Round in her title defense attempt in the Netherlands, she lost her opening match in three sets to Tatjana Maria this week to fall to 0-2. She won't be in Eastbourne this week trying to rectify the matter before things get truly serious in the season's third slam a week from Monday, so she'll have to create her momentum from scratch this time around.
ITF PLAYER: Tereza Smitkova/CZE
...while 23-year old Czech Smitkova won the Wimbledon lottery this weekend in Ilkley, 18-year old former SW19 girls finalist Yastremska continued her recent history of being an unlucky runner-up.

At the last if-you-want-to-get-into-Wimbledon-do-something-here $100K grass court challenger of the month (there's another tune-up in South Sea this week, but winning won't get anyone a last second "call up"), after Alison Riske and Ons Jabeur had walked off with titles in Surbiton and Manchester, respectively, in recent weeks, Smitkova's title run in Ilkley will allow her to set up an overdue "second date" with the All-England Club four full years after her first encounter with the main draw there. In 2014, Smitkova successfully qualified and made her MD slam debut at Wimbledon, making it all the way to the Round of 16. She finished that season at #83 after winning a WTA 125 title, but has slowly drifted from the spotlight ever since. After appearing in her sixth straight slam MD at the '15 U.S. Open (she won at least one match in four of them), Smitkova had missed or failed to qualify for the last ten majors before her win in Ilkley garnered her the AELTC's final women's MD WC berth. She did manage to win her first ITF title (a $25K) in three years last season, and added another earlier this year. After reaching a high ranking of #57 in '15, the Czech found herself at #235 this week. The title run that ended with a 7-6(2)/3-6/7-6(4) win over Yastremska will lift her ranking to #167.

For Yastremka, ranked #151 but still seeking her first career slam MD berth, she'll have to make her way to through the Q-rounds in order to reach the Wimbledon Ladies singles field. She was part of a great girls final there (losing in three to Anastasia Potapova in what sort of resembled a "young Caro/Maria mash-up vs. Vika 2.0" battle) two years ago, and has now reached (but lost) three $100K challenger finals (on three different surfaces) since last September. The Ukrainian is the only player to reach multiple $100K finals in 2018, also falling to Rebecca Peterson in Cagnes-sur-mer this spring. She'll be at #127 on Monday. Yastremska recently celebrated her 18th birthday with, umm, understated fanfare.

Spread your wings, and fly ??#tb#birthday

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Happiness?? #tb#birthday

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?????? #tb#birthday

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JUNIOR STARS: Selma Stefania Cadar/ROU and Coco Gauff/USA the clay court Grade 1 Allianz Kundler German Juniors event in Berlin, 18-year old Romanian Cadar claimed her biggest career title, defeating four seeds, including #1 Margaryta Bilokin in the semis and #10-seeded Hordette Oksana Selekhmeteva (def. #11 Elli Mandlik in the SF) in a 6-3/6-0 final. Both were playing in their first G1 singles final. Earlier this year, Cadar lost to Clara Tauson in the Perin Memorial QF, while the 15-year old Russian last week fell to Offenbach champ Lea Ma in the semis.

And, if a Romanian isn't picking up a copy of something from Bram Stoker, I'd say this'll do...

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana it was Roland Garros girls champ Gauff causing a stir on the ITF level with a brief run in a $25K challenger. The 14 (and three months)-year old, playing in just her second pro event (w/ a $25K in Florida last month), made her way through qualifying (3 wins) for a second time *and* once again notched a MD victory, defeating countrywoman Hayley Carter (ex-UNC, and a coach last season at Oklahoma State), who took the doubles title at the event alongside Ena Shibahara (UCLA). Gauff should soon become the first player born in 2004 (!!) to earn a pro ranking.

DOUBLES: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic (HUN/FRA) and Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (SLO/ESP)
...while yet another shoe was dropping in the odd, mysterious and secretive world of WTA doubles in 2018 -- Elena Vesnina's sudden and (as yet) unexplained withdrawal from Eastbourne and Wimbledon, where she was the defending champ with co-#1 ranking Ekaterina Makarova and has played every year since 2006... speculation has ranged from her being pregnant to, well, who knows what -- two more doubles champion duos were crowned in this week's grass events.

AO champions Babos & Mladenovic finally lifted their second trophy of the year (they'd gone six events w/o reaching a final since Melbourne) while defeating the only other team to win multiple tour-level WD titles in 2018, Elise Mertens & Demi Schuurs. Last week's winners at Rosmalen, Mertens & Schuurs were looking for a second consecutive title run, which would have give Schuurs *three distinct* back-to-back title runs this season on a third different surface (after HC Brisbane/Hobart and RC Rome/Nurnberg). But Babos/Mladenovic put a stop to that, following up a banner week that saw them reach the final without dropping a set vs. the likes of Barty/Vandeweghe, King/Srebotnik and Krejcikova/Siniakova with a win on Sunday via a 10-8 3rd set TB, coming back from a set down take the crown. It's their fifth overall title together, and the eighteenth for both in their careers.

Winners!!!!!???????? #birmingham #title18 #amazing #happy #nexteastbourne

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In Mallorca, the veteran pair of Klepac & MJMS (who got the win over the Williams Sisters in Paris a couple of weeks back) finally got their first '18 title in their fourth apparance in a final this year. Like Babos/Mladenovic, they didn't drop a set on their way to the final, putting up wins over Medina-Garrigues/Parra-Santonja, Week 24 champs Rosolska/Spears and Knoll/A.Smith. The all-Czech duo of Safarova/Stekova forced things to a deciding super TB in the final, but Klepac & Martinez-Sanchez won it 10-3. Their second title together, it's Klepac's fourteenth WTA win and MJMS's nineteenth.


FED CUP MVP: Marcela Zacarias/MEX
...before the Fed Cup final this fall, there is still some unfinished business to take care of in zone play, as the Americas II region promoted one nation to Americas I play in '19 in a round of competition in Metepec, Mexico this week, while another will advance in Week 29 in Ecuador.

As it turned out, the host team from Mexico completed an undefeated week, sweeping through the competition (allowing just two games in Pool play in one match-up with Barbados) and closing things out with a 2-0 win over Peru in the Promotional Playoff. Marcela Zacarias (14-2 in her FC singles career) picks up MVP honors with her 3-0 singles performance, which included the clinching win over Anastasia Iamachkine to defeat Peru. Fernanda Contreras Gomez (Vanderbilt) went a combined 3-0 (2-0s/1-0d), while Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez (1-0/2-0) contributed, as well. As for the 2nd place Peruvians, 15-year old Dana Guzman's was a notable story. The #105-ranked girl made her non-junior debut in this FC competition. She took on the team's lead role, going a combined 3-1 (2-0/1-1) in pool play before falling 6-0/7-5 in the opening match (vs. Contreras Gomez) in the Promotional Playoff.

WHEELCHAIR: Diede de Groot/NED
...we got another dose of de Groot/Kamiji (or Kamiji/de Groot) this week in France. At the BNP Paribas Open de France, the #1-ranked de Groot and #2 Yui Kamiji once again crossed paths. First they teamed up to take the doubles title, defeating Dana Mathewson & Lucy Shuker 2 & love in the final, then were on opposite sides of the net for the 18th times in singles. In yet another singles final between the two (the eighth straight in their head-to-head series), the Netherlands' de Groot, who reclaimed the top ranking despite losing to Kamiji in the RG final (after having defeated her in the AO final), got her sixth career win over the Japanese woman (fourth in their last five meetings) with a 7-5/6-4 victory. The result ended Kamiji's 23-match singles winning streak since losing to de Groot in Melbourne. The win will keep de Groot at #1 (she was a semifinalist at the event in '17, while Kamiji won it), but the top ranking will likely be up in the air again in London, where de Groot is the defending champ while Kamiji (seeking to become the first to win all eight slam s/d titles) fell in the semis last summer.

*Kamiji vs. de Groot*
2018 BNP Paribas Open de France Final - DE GROOT 7-5/6-4
2018 Roland Garros Final - KAMIJI 2-6/6-0/6-2
2018 Australian Open Final - DE GROOT 7-6(6)/6-4
2017 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters Final - DE GROOT 7-5/6-4
2017 Open d'Amiens Hauts de France Final - DE GROOT 1-6/7-5/6-3
2017 US Open Final - KAMIJI 7-5/6-2
2017 US Open USTA Wheelchair Chsps Final - KAMIJI 5-7/6-3/7-6(12)
2017 British Open WC Tennis Chsps Final - KAMIJI 6-4/6-3
2017 BNP Paribas Open de France SF - KAMIJI 6-4/6-3
2017 Japan Open Final - KAMIJI 6-2/6-2
2017 Melbourne Wheelchair Tennis Open SF - KAMIJI 6-3/6-4
2017 Apia Int'l Sydney WC Tennis Open SF - DE GROOT 7-5/7-6(5)
2016 Paralympic Games Bronze - KAMIJI 6-3/6-3
2016 BNP Paribas Open de France Final - KAMIJI 6-3/7-6(4)
2016 Toyota Open Int'l de L'ile de Re SF - DE GROOT 4-6/7-5/1-0 ret.
2015 Sardinia Open QF - KAMIJI 6-1/6-1
2015 BNP Paribas Open de France QF - KAMIJI 6-2/6-4
2014 Swiss Open Starling Hotel Geneva 1st Rd. - KAMIJI 6-1/6-2


Apropos of nothing, is there any player whose appearance is changed more dramatically by the simple act of wearing her hair up or down than Magdalena Rybarikova?

1. Birmingham 1st Rd. - Dalila Jakupovic def. Elise Mertens
Mertens led 6-3/5-3, and held three MP. Jakupovic ultimately won on her sixth MP, getting her first career Top 20 win en route to the quarterfinals. Mertens has lost three of her last four singles matches.

2. Mallorca Q2 - Johanna Larsson def. Maryna Zanevska
The Swede's surprising grass court run almost didn't happen. And probably shouldn't have. Zanevska led 7-5/5-1 and held six MP before Larsson surged back to convert a MP of her own on the surface for the first time since 2011.

3. Birmingham Final - Petra Kvitova def. Magdalena Rybarikova
Rybarikova knows the feeling. She also lost to Kvitova in the New Haven final in 2014.

4. Birmingham 2nd Rd. - Magdalena Rybarikova def. Kristina Mladenovic
Sometimes the cycle that one begins is a never-ending one.

5. Mallorca Final - Tatjana Maria def. Anastasija Sevastova
Germany is the first nation to produce three different singles champions -- Goerges, Kerber and now Maria -- in 2018.

Meanwhile, in other German tennis news...

6. Birmingham Q1 - Dalila Jakupovic def. Jasmine Paolini
After failing to convert two MP and seeing play suspended while she was leading 5-3, 40/30 in the 3rd, Jakupovic finally won on her seventh overall MP the following day, ending the 2:32 (and overnight) contest.
7. Mallorca 1st Rd. - Victoria Azarenka def. Stefanie Voegele
These two have faced off four times, with the matches having a healthy, sometimes life-altering period of time between them (2010, '12, '14 and '18). Azarenka is now 4-0 vs. the Swiss, but this one had a bit of a similar feel to her win over Voegele four years ago. In Brisbane in 2014, it took Vika ten MP -- after having led 6-4/5-4, 40/love -- to finally secure the win.

8. Birmingham Q1 - Jodie Anna Burrage def. Bojana Jovanovski Petrovic
26-year old Serb Jovanovski was a Top 100 player from 2010-15, but saw injury send her crashing outside the Top 600 in 2016. After a nearly 20-month absence due to wrist and shoulder surgeries, she's posted an overall 7-6 mark since returning to the courts in January. And, hey, she didn't show up at an airport in Birmingham, ALABAMA for this match, either... so, bonus! Sometimes the cycle that one begins is a never-ending one.

9. Birmingham QF - Mihaela Buzarnescu def. Elina Svitolina
What does it say for Elina (and Mihaela) that she'd likely rather face Simona than Buzarnescu, if she could play a game of "Pick Your Romanian Opponent?" Since defeating Halep in the Rome final, Simona has won Roland Garros, while Svitolina has lost twice to her countrywoman on two different surfaces.

10. Mallorca QF - Sonya Kenin def. Caroline Garcia
Another teen Bannerette. Another eyebrow-raising result.

11. $25K Baton Rouge Final - Astra Sharma def. Maria Mateas
Shades of Danielle Collins, as all the graduating NCAA stars begin to pop out onto the pro tour. Aussie Sharma, the #1-ranked NCAA singles player for 2017-18 while at Vanderbilt, picked up her fourth career ITF crown here (and reached the WD final, too).
12. $25K Klosters SUI Final - Akgul Amanmuradova/Ekaterina Gorgodze def. Lucie Hradecka/Yuki Naito
Congrats to Amanmuradova/Gorgodze, but here's to Hradecka & Naito, as the 33-year old Czech and the 17-year old Japanase junior formed a rather unexpected duo and nearly walked away with a title. Why is Hradecka playing in a $25K, and reaching her smallest doubles final since 2009? Well, probably because she's only recently back after missing nine months due to knee surgery. This was her fourth event in her return, and she finally recorded her first post-surgery wins, getting one in singles and three more w/ Naito by her side.

The Pastry Whisperer gets a new job...

And... remember when Kazakhstan started to fill out its women's tennis ranks by siphoning off some of the young Russian players who were getting lost amid the horde of talent there a good many years ago? Well...


1. Birmingham 1st Rd. - Magdalena Rybarikova def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
Pliskova didn't know what hit her. Again. After losing to the Slovak on grass in three sets at last year's Wimbledon, Karolina got just five games this time. Rybarikova, already with an all-court style advantage, actually led the Czech 8-5 in aces on the day, too.

2. Birmingham 1st Rd. - Dasha Kasatkina def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA 3-6/7-5/6-4
Eastbourne Q2 - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Arantxa Rus 7-6(2)/7-5
there was little joy in Birmingham for the twins. Kristyna served for the match vs. Kasatkina, but lost (hmmm, I get the feeling I've heard a similar scenario involving Pliskova before... many times, in fact). But at least she'll get another shot at getting her grass court footing at Eastbourne. She'll face Harriet Dart in the 1st Round, and if she can win there and over Anastasija Sevastova in the 2nd Round, she COULD get another shot at the Russian.
3. Birmingham 1st Rd. - ANGEL CHAN/Yang Zhaoxuan def. LATISHA CHAN/Gaby Dabrowski
...6-4/3-6 [10-5].
While Latisha continues to bleed ranking points -- she was the defending champion in Birmingham, and is again in Eastbourne -- the players who surpassed her for #1 will miss another slam as a duo due to Elena Vesnina's sudden withdrawal (Makarova will play w/ Zvonareva). Does Birmingham champ Timea Babos now essentially have the #1 ranking on her racket for London?

Katie Boulter, GBR (21) - second straight Wimbledon WC, she lost a three-setter to Christina McHale in the 1st Rd. in '17. Boulter recently posted solid grass court QF results in the Surbiton $100K challenger and her best-ever at a tour-level WTA event at Nottingham.

Naomi Broady, GBR (28) - Broady (whose brother Liam also got a WC from the AELTC) has been in the Wimbledon draw as either a qualifier (2008-09) or wild card (2011-12,14-15,17-18) eight times since 2008. She lost in qualifying twice (2010,13) and has only been automatically placed in the draw once (2016, when she was #83). She's only won one SW19 MD match (2014).
Harriet Dart, GBR (21) - at her career-high ranking just outside the Top 200, the London native will make her slam debut in her back yard

Katy Dunne, GBR (23) - after falling in previous efforts to reach the MD as a Q-round WC, Dunne gets an outright pass into the big draw this time around. It'll be her slam debut.
Ons Jabeur, TUN (23) - a Wimbledon qualifier in 2017, Jabeur earned her WC with a title run at the $100K Manchester event
Tereza Smitkova, CZE (23) - the Czech reached the 4th Round of Wimbledon at age 19 in 2014, but hasn't played in a slam MD since 2015. Her win at the $100K Ilkley challenger got her into this one.
Katie Swan, GBR (19) - the *third* British Katie/Katy presented with a WC, Swan reached the Wimbledon girls QF in '15, and got a women's MD WC in '16. She lost in qualifying last year, though, when the All-England Club decided to not use up all its potential WC passes (Swan was #361 at the time). Finally 100% healthy, the teenager is currently pushing for her first Top 200 ranking.
Gabriella Taylor, GBR (20) - she'll make her slam MD debut after reaching the $100K Surbiton quarters, and pushing Nottingham defending champ Donna Vekic to a 3rd set TB in the 1st Round

AO - Wang Xinyu, CHN (16)
AO - Destanee Aiava, AUS (17)
AO - Jaimee Fourlis, AUS (18)
WI - Katie Swan, GBR (19)
AO - Lizette Cabrera, AUS (20)
WI - Gabriella Taylor, GBR (20)
AO - Jessika Ponchet, FRA (21)
RG - Jessic Ponchet, FRA (21)
RG - Fiona Ferro, FRA (21)
RG - Isabelle Wallace, AUS (21)
WI - Katie Boulter, GBR (21)
WI - Harriet Dart, GBR (21)

RG - Pauline Parmentier, FRA (32)
WI - Naomi Broady, GBR (28)
RG - Myrtille Georges, FRA (27)
AO - Olivia Rogowska, AUS (26)

Hello grass courts ?? my backside is pleased to meet you again ??

A post shared by Simona Halep (@simonahalep) on

I’m gonna stay dream chasing, even thru nightmares ??

A post shared by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

I was told to stay low ???????

A post shared by Daria Gavrilova (@daria_gav) on

I think he really likes me????

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Hip hop #london #town

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [HC/RC]
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL [HC/RC]
2 - Simona Halep, ROU [HC/RC]

**MOST WTA FINALS in 2018**
4 - Simona Halep, ROU (2-2)
3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-0)
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL (3-0)

**CAREER WTA TITLES - active**
72 - Serena Williams, USA (2017)
49 - Venus Williams, USA (2016)
36 - Maria Sharapova, RUS (2017)
28 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1)
20 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (2016)
20 - Aga Radwanska, POL (2016)
17 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2016)
17 - Simona Halep, ROU (2)

8 - Serena Williams
6 - Venus Williams
3 - Maria Sharapova
2 - Madison Keys
2 - Karolina Pliskova
2 - CoCo Vandeweghe

2003 3=Clijsters,Myskina
2004 3=Davenport,Myskina
2005 3=Sharapova
2006 3=Henin-Hardenne
2007 3=Henin,Jankovic
2008 3=Jankovic,A.Radwanska
2009 3=Wozniacki
2010 -
2011 3=Kvitova,Wozniacki
2012 4=S.Williams
2013 3=S.Williams,Halep
2014 3=Petkovic
2015 4=Kerber
2016 -
2017 -
2018 3=KVITOVA

3 - GER [Goerges,Kerber,MARIA]
2 - BEL [Mertens,Van Uytvanck]
2 - CZE [Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova]
2 - UKR [Svitolina,Tsurenko]

**CAREER FINALS - active**
92...Serena Williams (0 in '18)
83...Venus Williams (0)
59...Maria Sharapova (0)
52...Caroline Wozniacki (2)
40...Svetlana Kuznetsova (0)
36...Victoria Azarenka (0)
35...Jelena Jankovic (0)
31...Simona Halep (4)
30...Vera Zvonareva (0)
28...Aga Radwanska (0)
27...Angelique Kerber (1)
27...Patty Schnyder (0)
24...Samantha Stosur (0)

Elise Mertens, BEL - Hobart 2017-18
Elina Svitolina, UKR - Dubai 2017-18
Lesia Tsurenko, UKR - Acapulco 2017-18
Elina Svitolina, UKR - Rome 2017-18
PETRA KVITOVA, CZE - Birmingham 20178-18

Hobart: Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (#57, 29) -lost to Mertens
Taipei City: Kateryna Kozlova, UKR (#85, 23) -lost to Babos
Acapulco: Stefanie Voegele, SUI (#183, 27) -lost to Errani
Mallorca: TATJANA MARIA, GER (#79, 30) - def. Sevastova

**MOST WTA SF in 2018**
6 - Simona Halep (4-1+L)
4 - Elise Mertens (3-1)
4 - Garbine Muguruza (1-2+W)
3 - Elina Svitolina (3-0)
3 - Caroline Wozniacki (2-1)
3 - Dasha Kasatkina (2-1)
3 - Julia Goerges (2-1)
3 - Ash Barty (2-1)
3 - Karolina Pliskova (1-2)
3 - Angelique Kerber (1-2)

Brisbane - Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR (23, #88)
Auckland - Sachia Vickery, USA (22, #122)
Sydney - Camila Giorgi, ITA (26, #100)
Hobart - Heather Watson, GBR (25, #74)
Acapulco - Rebecca Peterson, SWE (22, #139)
Miami - Danielle Collins, USA (24, #93)
Lugano - Vera Lapko, BLR (19, #130)
Mallorca - SONYA KENIN, USA (19, #91)

TIMEA BABOS = S:Taipei City / D:Australian Open/Birmingham
Ash Barty = S:Nottingham / D:Miami/Rome
Kiki Bertens = S:Charleston / D:Brisbane
Simona Halep = S:Shenzhen/RG / D:Shenzhen
TATJANA MARIA = S:Mallorca / D:Acapulco
Elise Mertens = S:Hobart/Lugano/Rabat / D:Hobart/Lugano/Rosmalen

**2018 WTA DOUBLES...**
[most titles]
5 - Demi Schuurs, NED - 2 HC/2 RC/1 GR
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL - 1 HC/1 RC/1 GR
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)
[most finals - individuals]
6...DEMI SCHUURS (5-1)
4...Kirsten Flipkens (1-3)
[oldest champion]
42 - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague)
37 - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (Charleston/Nurnberg)
36 - Abigail Spears, USA (Nottingham)
35 - Raquel Atawo, USA (Stuttgart)
[oldest championship combination]
68 yrs - Rosolska/Spears (32/36) = Nottingham
67 yrs - Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik (30/37) = Charleston
67 yrs - Atawo/Groenefeld (35/32) = Stuttgart
67 yrs - KLEPAC/MARTINEZ SANCHEZ (32/35) = Mallorca
66 yrs - Melichar/Peschke (24/42) = Prague

**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)
Ilkley, ENG (gr) - Smitkova/CZE (#235) d. Yastremska/UKR (#151)

June 26 (Tuesday) is the fifth anniversary of the original Radwanskian Massacre at Wimbledon in 2013. Just so ya know.

=2013 (inciting event)=
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
"The Radwanskian Massacre" - 7 former #1's lose, w/ 4 additional walkovers and three ret. on day filled with falls, slips and stumbles
June 26 (Wimbledon Day 3)
First unofficial commemoration of The Radwanskian Massacre. With the Radwanskian Threat Level meter in place and all on guard and vigilent, calm prevails.
June 26 (official)
Aga Radwanska & the seagull (in Eastbourne, bird swoops at Radwanska as she serves... one day later, she loses in the singles final)
Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The hottest day ever recorded in Wimbledon history (35.7 C / 96 F), fire alarm evacuates Centre Court
June 26 (official)/Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
The wet London weather rains... err, reigns. 74 singles and doubles matches are scheduled: 41 are cancelled, 15 interrupted and 18 completed. Only 6 matches were both started and finished solely on Day 3, with 4 of those played under the Centre Court roof. But Aga Radwanska opens the Centre Court schedule and wins without incident and, in a previously unscheduled C.C. match, Radwanska's '16 RG conqueror, Tsvetana Pironkova, loses.
June 26 (official)/Wimbledon Day 3 (observed)
Eastbourne defending champ Dominika Cibulkova loses in opening match to WC Heather Watson; 4 LL's win MD matches (one LL vs. LL match-up); LL Tsvetana Pironkova advances to 2nd Rd. w/ 1st Rd. bye when Petra Kvitova withdraws, wins 2nd Rd. match. At Wimbledon on Day 3, on "Flying Ant Day," newly-emerged insects swarm the AELTC grounds. Meanwhile, six women's seed fall, including two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova.

Oh, and...


11 - Martina Navratilova
3 - Chris Evert
2 - Tracy Austin
2 - Justine Henin
2 - Chanda Rubin
NOTE: Jana Novotna (won in '98; abandoned final vs. ASV in '97)
ACTIVES (1): Kuznetsova (2004), A.Radwanska (2008), Wozniacki (2009), Makarova (2010), Paszek (2012), Vesnina (2013), Keys (2014), Bencic (2015), Cibulkova (2016), Ka.Pliskova (2017)
=2017 WS=
QF: Kerber d. Konta
QF: Ka.Pliskova d. Kuznetsova
QF: Watson d. Strycova
QF: Wozniacki d. Halep
SF: Ka.Pliskova w/o Konta
SF: Wozniacki d. Watson
F: Ka.Pliskova d. Wozniacki
=2017 WD=
SF: Barty/Dellacqua d. Babos/Hlavackova
SF: L.Chan/Hingis d. Melichar/Smith
F: L.Chan/Hingis d. Barty/Dellacqua
WS: #1 Wozniacki, #2 Ka.Pliskova
WD: #1 Sestini-Hlavackova/Strycova, #2 Klepac/Martinez Sanchez



And, finally, are you preparing for Wimbledon? Well, I know a place for you.

England's hottest secret club is "Slovaks & Pups." Brought to you by Reebok, it has everything. Grass tennis courts. A great view. Real Slovaks. And a "live" dog that lies perfectly still in the Ad service box while dining on a fuzzy yellow ball...

Secret place to practice on grass ?? s Buenkom ?? #buenko

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S Jankou a Buenom na trávicke ?????? #buenko

A post shared by Anna Karolina (@akschmiedlova) on

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Wimbledon Qualies are coming.

Buzarnescu is this year's Siegemund, who quietly pulled out of Wimbledon.

Yastremska's photos are Victoria Secret like.

Gauff is going to become an interesting study. Not just the success this year, but last year, and on a different surface. The challenge, especially if she wins at Wimbledon, is how to keep her motivated in Juniors, keep her healthy, and make her progression normal for her.

Stat of the Week- 0 - Amount of wins for Elena Vesnina as the #1 doubles player.

I am not obsessed, it just seems that way. But due to the fact that Vesnina has pulled out of Eastbourne and Wimbledon, she has the dubious record of winning no matches as #1. Even stranger is that she hasn't actually played a match as #1 before she drops it.

Makarova is actually playing this week, so even though it won't affect Wimbledon seeding, it is possible for Makarova to be a solo #1 the day Wimbledon starts. Also means that even if she loses this week, she has another chance to play as #1 at Wimbledon and not be a winless #1.

And Todd is right, Babos will lead the field, with Chan, Makarova, Vesnina, and Hlavackova to follow.

Quiz Time!
Eastbourne has been a virtual melting pot over the last decade. Women from 10 different nations have won in the last 11 years. Which is the nation that won twice?

D.Czech Republic

More Up/Down Side, which will surprise people.

Eastbourne has bee open to all comers. Some of the non used choices/winners were Austria-Pazsek, Switzerland-Bencic, and USA-Keys.

So the first wrong answer is (A)Belgium, but only because of the timeline. When I said 11 years, it counted Henin's 2007 win, but not her 2006 title. Nor did it count Clijsters in 2005.

Clijsters is an interesting story. If you need a comparison, 2018 Kvitova is looking mighty similar. But it does bring up the question- If Clijsters won Eastbourne, IW, Miami, and the US Open, how was she never #1 in 2005?

The numbers actually make sense. You see, Clijsters was out due to injury fro Sept 04 to Feb 05, and didn't play her first match until Antwerp. Ranked 87, she then dropped to 133 before IW. Winning that got her to 38. Leaving Miami 17th, she stayed there until she won Eastbourne. 13th entering Wimbledon, she didn't enter the Top 10 until after winning Stanford. 4th at USO, she left 3rd, and ended the year #2.

(D)Czech Republic is also wrong, although they have the defending champion in Pliskova, and the last runner up to have won Wimbledon that year-Kvitova 2011. That happens so rarely that the previous time was when the Nadal of Eastbourne did it-Navratilova in 1987. Oddly enough, Czechs also have the last winner to win Wimbledon the same year-Novotna in 1998.

The other wrong answer is France. They have had 3 finalists in this time-Mauresmo-07, Razzano-09, Bartoli-11, but only Bartoli won.

So that leaves (B)Russia as your answer. And I couldn't have scripted this any better. The two winners? Makarova 2010 & Vesnina 2013.

Mon Jun 25, 09:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Vekic- Vekic is ranked 42. Wawrinka is 261. Just though I would mention that. Hmmm, am I going to have to compare Thiem and Mladenovic too? Vekic is good on grass, but this week's pick mainly because Barty, Konta, and Rybarikova are all a different part of the draw.
2.Hlavackova Sestini-Here because she made it through qualies. Though she should be used to it by now. She hasn't made a draw directly in singles since Quebec in 2015. Which means that the last 19 times she has played singles, she had to come through qualies. She made it 6 times, which doesn't sound good, until you realize she has made it the last 3 times, and 4 of her last 5.
3.Rybarikova- Even if she loses early this week, she is on track for R16/QF at Wimbledon. The Bertens of Grass, she is 24-4 the last 2 years. I can't explain the Barthel(117) loss, but the other 3? Konta(8), Kvitova(8), Muguruza(15).
4.Jakupovic- She looks good on grass. 26-11 since the beginning of March, but has played 30 tournaments in the last year. Could make the 3rd rd at Wimbledon, and that would be great, as she will have to come from qualies.
5.Yastremska- Her stats don't really look good, but it think that is more of a product of moving up in class. One of her surprises? That after picking up her first WTA win in Istanbul last year, she doesn't have on in 2018-yet. Due to her finals loss in Ilkley, she will have to go through qualies, but should be one of the favorites.

Mon Jun 25, 09:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Sevastova-Somebody will have her listed as a darkhorse. Glance a side eye at them, because that is fake news. When she came back in 2015, her ranking was too low, so she just played ITF's of clay. 14-6 on grass the last 3 years, but only 1 win away from Mallorca/Calvia. If you are looking at a seed to go down the first two rounds, this is the one.
2.Sasnovich- 9-11 since her Fed Cup loss to Lottner, who she lost to again last week, Sasnovich looks like she is in a slump. But the numbers are far more sinister. She hasn't had back to back wins since IW and Miami. That means none on clay or grass. The problem? She didn't have back to back wins on clay or grass in 2017 either. Or 2016, for that matter. Yep, 2015. Somebody is waiting for the hardcourt season to start.
3.Vickery- Currently on a 3-8 run, make it 3-9, she just lost to Sabalenka, the numbers are bad. The only 3 wins she has in this stretch are over players ranked below 100. She also has 300 sub 100 losses.
4.Townsend- A loss to Konjuh is actually a good thing, as it means she is playing a WTA event. With being healthy, and having a good ranking, there is no reason why she has played more ITF events in the last year that WTA- 13 to 11. Time for her to play the big tournaments and become a Flipkens type. And no World Team Tennis either.
5.Halep-Had to pull out of Eastbourne. Expectations for Wimbledon are low. For her, that means R16/QF. As a reminder, Bucharest is the week AFTER Wimbledon, so she will have a busy few weeks. Obviously thrilled that Halep won her slam, but anybody that picks her with no match prep is viewing her with rose colored glasses. I mean Caroline Wozniacki became Dame Wozniacki. And Halep filled a 20,000 seat stadium with a trophy. It is hard to get back to business, and the French turnaround is the toughest.

Mon Jun 25, 09:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yastremska - you mean you didn't have an 18th birthday celebration like that? :D

In the pre-Capriati Rule years, Gauff would probably be on tour full time next season. It's been a while since a player seemed quite as talented as she does at such a young age. When I said she looked like Venus at the net on her RG match point, I meant not just tactically, but physically, with the height, long legs, reach, etc. compared to her opponent. Venus just looked like she was going to be a dominant force very early in her career. Hmmm, does Coco have a little sister?

Quiz: the pull was to say CZE, but I went with France. I like the Makarova and Vesnina congruence, though. :)

If you added another " ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ " category (her Eastbourne, or SW19), I'd offer up Ostapenko to head it. She handled the clay to grass (after winning a major) change well last year, reaching the QF and playing Venus fairly well there, but has been notoriously high and low this season, and is only finally playing on grass this week. She's a former Wimbledon girls champ, too, remember.

Anyone who isn't picking Kvitova (or taking a flyer w/ Serena) at SW19 is pretty much rolling the dice/trying to pull a rabbit out of their hat/attempting to be different, it feels. But there are certainly good options, like Muguruza (the DC, if anyone remembers that now), one of the twentysomething Bannerettes, or a "grass court Cinderella" type ala Rybarikova. I think Wimbledon is always the most interesting slam to try to predict because of all the variables, though in the end the top players almost always end up taking the title (so the real picks to focus on are for the semifinals, IMO).

Mon Jun 25, 12:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, Vesnina at least looks like she's doin' pretty well. ;)

Mon Jun 25, 12:53:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Agree that Ostapenko could very well "wake up" on grass. And that slam-bang style of hers is a benefit. And Muguruza is always a threat.

Petra's French Open results still worry me. There's no shame in losing to Kontaveit, who can be brilliant. But it still shouldn't have happened, given the momentum Petra had. All the same, her comfort level on grass is a totally different matter.

Mon Jun 25, 03:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Colette Lewis said...

Hayley Carter went to UNC, she just finished a year at Oklahoma State as an assistant coach.
And unless you know something I don't, Ena Shibahara is just a junior at UCLA.

Mon Jun 25, 07:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, I know never to question your tip-ins on the NCAA and the juniors, Colette. ;)

I saw Carter mentioned along with Oklahoma State yesterday, and it totally slipped my mind that she'd *played* at North Carolina. I must have seen something on Sunday that made me think Shibahara had wrapped things up at UCLA, though I went looking for it tonight and couldn't find whatever it was.

Anyway, I fixed those.

Tue Jun 26, 01:46:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, yeah, I mentioned that Tuesday was the anniversary of a certain memorable day. Well...

There must have (still) been some magic in that old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on her head, she began to dance around!

On the fifth anniversary of the original Radwanskian Massacre, Aga saves 2 MP (via 2 DF) vs. Gavrilova (who had 17 on the day), wins a TB and then takes a love 3rd set to win 5-7/7-6/6-0 in 2:56.

I'm just sayin'.

Tue Jun 26, 12:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Just written to WTA: When are you putting a silencer on the howlers like Sabalenka, Sharapova and Halep. Specially Sabalenka has a mighty "afterburner" on her -well -screams and I don'tthink they are allowed in that way. Very annoying to watch.

Thu Jun 28, 08:51:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

I don't know if you sometimes have the same eeling about a tennnisgame that it feels like a chess game. SO it was between Woz and Ash. Two brilliant slicers and tricky players against eachother - brilliant. First serve was essential. Hope you saw Carolines tweener ;)

Thu Jun 28, 12:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Leif - finally saw the tweener. (Not the most "graceful" one ever pulled off, but it got the job done. Haha.) :P

Good fight today vs. Kerber (saving MP, then BPs late in the 3rd). Will be interesting vs. Sabalenka... will it be reminiscent of her Ostapenko matches (not good for the Dane), or will her consistency wear down Sabalenka and lead her into a hail of errors (and get Caro her first grass title in NINE years)?

Fri Jun 29, 12:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Seems she's (Caroline) got the glow back - meaning wanting to win. Shot of the day two days in a row - nice. Let's see if she turns out to be a light horse at Wimbledon ;) She's good this week.

Fri Jun 29, 05:37:00 PM EDT  

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