Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wk.38- Changes More than Surface Deep

Week 39 was the moment when the red carpet was rolled out in Japan for Naomi Osaka, who shined just as brightly in Tokyo as she did in New York, proving tha-... whoa, wait. Hold on.

Oh. Okay. Let's go with that, then.

TOKYO (PPO), JAPAN (Premier/Hard Court)
S: Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Naomi Osaka/JPN 6-4/6-4
D: Miyu Kato/Makoto Ninomiya (JPN/JPN) d. Andrea S.-Hlavackova/Barbora Strycova (CZE/CZE) 6-4/6-4
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (Int'l/Hard Court)
S: Kiki Bertens/NED def. Ajla Tomljanovic/AUS 7-6(2)/4-6/6-2
D: Choi Ji-hee/Han Na-lae (KOR/KOR) d. Hsieh Shu-ying/Hsieh Su-wei (TPE/TPE) 6-1/6-2
GUANGZHOU, CHINA (Int'l/Hard Court)
S: Wang Qiang/CHN def. Yulia Putintseva/KAZ 6-1/6-2
D: Monique Adamczak/Jessica Moore (AUS/AUS) d. Danka Kovinic/Vera Lapko (MNE/BLR) 4-6/7-5 [10-4]

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Karolina Pliskova/CZE and Kiki Bertens/NED the season enters its final stages, Pliskova finally seems to be finding her stride. Maybe all it took was jettisoning a coach to shake up the snowglobe for the better.

Since moving on from her latest (and "last") male Czech coach (Tomas Krupa) -- excluding her dad, who was with her in Tokyo -- before the U.S. Open in favor of Rennae Stubbs (though Conchita Martinez helped out in NYC) Pliskova has seem reinvigorated. While her results hadn't been bad prior to that, the "feeling" and undertone of her performances -- especially regarding her serve -- had lost some of the buzz that made her seem a sure-thing "next maiden slam" champ contender as recently as early 2017 (if not even later). Her QF run at Flushing Meadows brought back much of that "glow," and while she wasn't always at her best in Tokyo Pliskova nonetheless carried with her the inner belief that she was indeed *back*. Overcoming a 4-1 3rd set hole vs. Dasha Gavrilova, then saving two MP vs. Alison Riske, showed the fight was there. A win over Donna Vekic got the Czech into her second '18 final (her first on hard court since Doha in February '17), where she found her best form of the week in her biggest match against Naomi Osaka. While Osaka struggled to fine tune her game, Pliskova's was crisp from the outset. She never lost serve vs. the U.S. Open champ, carrying her good form to a straight sets win, an eleventh career title (she's on a 5-0 run in finals) that sets her up for a possible WTAF berth, as well as a leading role in the Fed Cup final vs. the U.S. this November. Maybe the "Ace Queen" *isn't* Julia Goerges now?

Meanwhile... now *that's* the kiss of a hard queen.

After a career of playing in the dirt, Bertens has earned her land legs this summer. Her title run in Cincinnati, after all her previous seven tour finals had come on clay, gave so much definitive proof that the 26-year old's game and training regimen had developed into the something that plays well on *all* surfaces that it's no longer even a *story* that she won her *second* hard court title of the summer in Seoul. That's what she did, though, picking up '18 title #3 with wins over Luksika Kumkhum, Dalina Jakupovic, Evgeniya Rodina, Maria Sakkari and Ajla Tomljanovic in a three set final. Bertens will climb to a career-best #11 on Monday, just 100 points behind #10 Goerges, and even closer to Pliskova for the final spot in the Race for Singapore. If she makes the next logical leap, Bertens would be the first Dutch woman to make her Top 10 debut in more than two decades, and just the third ever to do it, following in the footsteps of Betty Stove (1976) and Brenda Schultz-McCarthy (1996).
RISERS: Wang Qiang/CHN, Yulia Putintseva/KAZ and Camila Giorgi/ITA
...Wang's roll continued in Guangzhou, as she became just the fifth Chinese player in tour history to win multiple career singles titles, and only the third (w/ Li Na and Zheng Jie) to win more than one in a single season. After winning her maiden title in Nanchang in July, Wang followed up with a successful defense of her Asian Games Gold medal, upset Magdalena Rybarikova and Irina-Camelia Begu at the U.S. Open (she'd def. Venus at RG), and reached the Hiroshima semis a week ago before her most latest title run. Wins over Nicole Gibbs, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Fiona Ferro and Andrea Petkovic preceded her 1 & 2 handling of Putintseva in the final. In all, she dropped no sets en route, making her the first tour-level singles champion in 2018 to go from start to finish with such an unblemished record. Not that that's new for her, as she also did so while winning her Asian Games crown.

Meanwhile, Putintseva is still in search of her maiden tour title. The 23-year old reached her second career tour final (w/ Saint Petersburg last season) in Guangzhou, getting there after posting straight sets victories over Sara Sorribes Tormo, Sabine Lisicki, Kateryna Kozlova and Bernarda Pera. For all that she's done over the course of her career since May 2012 (when she won a $100K challenger in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, and then a month later stopped representing Russia in favor of Kazakhstan) -- including not only the two tour finals, but six more on the ITF level (2 $100K's), all twenty of her slam MD appearances (w/ 2 QF at RG), a Top 30 ranking in '17, and all five of her career Top 10 victories -- she's not won a singles title (WTA, 125 or ITF) over that same stretch.

In Tokyo, Giorgi once again proved to be a factor when she's on her game, which she has been for most of this season. Her final four finish with wins over Misaki Doi, Caroline Wozniacki and Vika Azarenka (ret.) gives her '18 campaign (now) three tour SF results (Sydney, Prague and this week), a slam QF (Wimbledon), a career-best win (#2 Wozniacki), a 33-19 overall mark and (on Monday) an equaling of the career high rank (#30) she set in 2015.

SURPRISES: Choi Ji-hee/Han Na-lae (KOR/KOR) and Bernarda Pera/USA
...wild card entrants Choi & Han were able to give the Seoul crowd something it hadn't seen in fourteen years -- a home grown champion. Cho Yoon-jeong & Jeon Mi-ra won the WD in the inaugural '04 event, but this year's WD title was the first by a Korean pair in the event since then, and just the second ever on tour. Both Choi and Han have made a good career on the ITF circuit, with Choi winning 17 doubles titles ($25K being the biggest) and Han 16 (also, with $25K being the high water mark), but nothing even closely compares to their maiden tour title run, which included a pair of 3rd set TB wins (1st Rd. vs. Hon/Sizikova and 2nd Rd. vs. #2 seeded Jakupovic/Jurak) that were followed by a 1 & 1 destruction of #3 E.Perez/Ar.Rodionova in the semis and a 3 & 2 final win over the Hsieh sisters, Shu-ying and Su-wei, the latter of which who followed up her Hiroshima singles title with a semifinal run this week. Of some note, Cho & Jeon's '04 title came with a final win over Chuang Chia-jung and... Hsieh Su-wei.

This was only the third pairing of Choi & Han, who posted a previous pair of $25K semis in 2015 and earlier this season.

In Guangzhou, a year after she made her tour debut in the event, Pera reached her maiden WTA singles semi with victories over Magdalena Frech, Viktoria Kuzmova and Aleksandra Krunic. It was Pera's first multi-win MD event since she defeated Aryna Sabalenka and Johanna Konta in Madrid in the spring. She reached the Charleston QF in April, losing to Madison Keys in a 7-5 3rd set, as well as the 3rd Round in her slam debut in Melbourne (qualifying and posting wins over Anna Blinkova and, again, Konta). The 23-year old Croatia-born Bannerette will climb ten spots to #72 on Monday, just four off the career high mark she set in June.

VETERAN: Andrea Petkovic/GER
...Petkovic began the year playing in Brisbane qualifying, hoving around #100 in the rankings and then losing her opening match to Polina Monova in straight sets. Things have gotten substantially better, and her season seems to be ending on what may be a much higher note. She's shined in the slams, even without a result better than the 3rd Round, as she upset Petra Kvitova in Melbourne and Kristina Mladenovic in Paris, then battled Alona Ostapenko in the 1st Round in one of the most exciting women's matches at the U.S. Open. After reaching a previous semifinal in Washington this summer (def. #3 Sloane Stephens, her biggest win in five years, and Belinda Bencic), Petko got her second this past week in Guangzhou with wins over Lizette Cabrera, Wang Yafan and Vera Lapko. Just two weeks after her 31st birthday, Petko will be at #69 on Monday, with a shot in the final weeks at her first Top 50 finish since 2015.

COMEBACKS: Ajla Tomljanovic/AUS and Rebecca Marino/CAN
...Tomljanovic came into Seoul on a high off her Hiroshima QF, and fought (survived) her way through another good week, staging a 1st Round comeback vs. Alison Van Uytvanck (5-3 down in the 3rd) and fighting off a comeback attempt from Mandy Minella in the QF. A win over Tamara Zidansek in between gave her her sixth QF-or-better result (more than any other Aussie this season), and her revenge win over Hsieh Su-wei (who defeated her a week ago) got her into her second post-shoulder surgery final of 2018. She failed to get her maiden tour title, losing to Kiki Bertens in three sets in her third WTA final, but will still rise to a new career high of #44 this week.

On the ITF level, Marino's successful return from her five-year retirement added a fifth '18 singles title in the $25K in Lubbock, Texas. The Canadian posted wins over Eudice Chong, Chang Kai-chen, Sanaz Marand, Hayley Carter and, in the final, former NCAA champ Robin Anderson, 6-4/6-1. She'll climb into the Top 200 this week. Marino won five ITF titles in the first phase of her career, as well as reaching a tour-level final in 2011 and ranking as high as #38 that same year.

FRESH FACES: Naomi Osaka/JPN, Donna Vekic/CRO and Maria Sakkari/GRE
...the week began with a lingering question revolving around just how much of the U.S. Open Osaka we'd see in Tokyo, what with the whirlwind trip around the world (and all points in between) and higher level of expectation that accompanies *any* maiden slam winner, let alone the first ever from Japan, one with potentially "generational talent," and who'd been the "other" part of a messy slam final that occurred in New York just a few weeks ago.


As it turned out, The Great Wave of Osaka wasn't yet ready to recede.

Of course, that doesn't mean there wasn't a moment to "hold your roll."

While the 20-year old was hardly overwhelmed by the Open experience, which she proved as the cut another swath through another draw with wins over Dominika Cibulkova (3 games), Barbora Strycova (7) and Camila Giorgi (5) to reach her second Tokyo final in three years. But, in the final, while her level of play vs. Pliskova wasn't *bad*, it wasn't quite up to the level that powered her ten-match winning streak, either. While the Czech was efficient, clean and with few errors, (the tired?) Osaka's UE totals were higher than what has become her "new" norm, and her frustration was more "post-Indian Wells"-like than what we saw in New York. Still, she kept the final scoreline (6-4/6-4) close, and recorded the best post-maiden slam result on tour in over six years.

Wave Warnings still apply.

Vekic closed up her summer schedule by adding another quality result to a list that already included a Nottingham SF, Wimbledon Round of 16 and Washington final, as well as a win over world #4 Sloane Stephens. Last week in Tokyo, the 22-year old Croat reached another semifinal, defeated Stephens again, taking down Johanna Konta, and then matching her career best win with a victory over #4 Caroline Garcia. Vekic moves into the Top 40 this week, just three spots behind the career-best mark (#37) she set in August.

Sakkari's '18 season hasn't exactly been one with a continual upward tilt. She lost her first five matches of the season, then four more in a row this summer, followed by a 2-4 slump following her best career result in San Jose, where she reached her maiden tour final. When she's been good, though, she's shown the promise that could ultimately make her the best Greek women's player ever (a title surely still owned at the moment by 5-time tour titlist and former world #14 Eleni Daniilidou). In addition to the San Jose final, Sakkari reached the Istanbul semis in April, a result she matched this week in Seoul (def. Schmiedlova, Gasparyan and Begu), as well as the Round of 16 in Indian Wells and her fourth slam 3rd Round (RG) over the last two seasons. Her win over #5 Karolina Pliskova in Rome was a career best, and the 23-year old will next find herself at a new career high of #29 on Monday.

DOWN: 2017-18 Slam Winners
...Osaka's encouraging event-after week aside, the courts were littered with the remains of grand slam champions from the last two seasons.

In Tokyo, Sloane Stephens fell in straight sets in the 1st Round to Donna Vekic, falling to 0-7 in post-U.S. Open matches in Asia in the last two seasons (after a 2017-18 combined 25-7 summer HC mark heading into the last two 4Q).

Also in Tokyo, Garbine Muguruza committed 22 UE in fifteen games, winning just three from Alison Riske in their 2nd Round match. She DF'd on MP. She's 4-6 since reaching the Roland Garros semis. Meanwhile, defending (2016-17) Tokyo champ Caroline Wozniacki, nursing injury all summer, lost in three sets to Camila Giorgi in the 2nd Round to fall to 2-5 since winning Eastbourne.

In Seoul, defending champ Alona Ostapenko saw her tenure end as she fell to 3-5 since reaching the Wimbledon semis. She lost 3 & 2 to Ekaterina Alexandrova, dropping serve five times and seeing the Russian nearly double her in winners. With her Seoul championship reign over, she's now gone title-less for a full year.


ITF PLAYERS: Liudmila Samsonsova/RUS and Fernanda Brito/CHI
...19-year old Hordette Samsonova picked up her biggest career title (4th career) at the $60K challenger in Saint-Malo, France, defeating 18-year old Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska 6-0/6-2 in the final (after having to qualify for the MD) and climbing into the Top 200 for the first time. Ranked outside the Top 550 this spring, Samsonova has had a fine summer, winning an additional $25K crown last month, as well as reaching another final, a semi and three QF.

In Buenos Aires, Brito won yet another $15K challenger, defeating Catalina Pella 6-1/6-4 to win her eighth straight title (in her 9th consecutive final) and extending her winning streak to 40 matches (part of a 44-1 run). She also swept the s/d titles at an event for the seventh time this season, claiming her fifth straight WD crown in her ninth consecutive final. Combining both disciplines, the Chilean has won 48 straight matches, 70 of 71, and gone 77-3 since late April.


...Duke commit Navarro, 17, picked up the title at the Grade 2 u18 Canada World Ranking Event in Montreal. The #2 seed defeated the #4 (Kylie Collins/SF) and #1 (Chloe Beck/USA) seeded girls in the SF and Final, respectively, and will leap into the girls Top 100. She also reached the girls doubles final with longtime doubles partner/friend Beck. Navarro, who lost in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open juniors to eventual champ Wang Xiyu (she'd earned a WC by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Clay Court Championships in Charleston in July), reached the Grade 1 Astrid Bowl final in June and B1 Easter Bowl semis in March. She's gone 41-10 since last fall.


DOUBLES: Miyu Kato/Makota Ninomiya (JPN/JPN) and Monique Adamczak/Jessica Moore (AUS/AUS)
...a week after reaching the Hiroshima final (and losing) as the #1 seeds, Kato & Ninomiya won in Tokyo, the first title as a duo for the recent Asian Games Bronze medalists and '18 FC stars (5-0), as an unseeded entry that survived a 10-7 3rd set in the QF vs. L.Kichenok/Srebotnik, then defeated the #2 (Dabrowski/Xu) and #1 (Hlavackova/Strycova) seeds in straight sets to claim the crown. It's the second title for both Japanese players, as Kato won in Katowice in '16 (w/ Hozumi) and Ninomiya at the tour's other Tokyo event that same season (w/ Aoyama).

In Guangzhou, the all-Aussie duo of Adamczak & Moore claimed the title with a 10-4 3rd set TB win over Kovinic/Lapko. It's the second title for both the 35-year old Adamczak ('17 Nottingham w/ Storm Sanders) and 28-year old Moore ('16 Bucharest w/ Varatchaya Wongteanchai). This was just the fourth event pairing of the two (all this summer, when they'd gone 2-3 before this week), who have now combined with a virtual (and nearly complete) Who's Who of Aussie Doubles Players to reach 52 career pro WD finals with their countrywoman since 2000.

Aussies who've reached finals with Adamczak:

Stephanie Bengson
Bojana Bobusic
Christina Horiatopoulos
Nicole Kriz
Olivia Lukaszewicz
Jessica Moore
Tammy Patterson
Arina Rodionova
Olivia Rogowska
Storm Sanders
Shelley Stephens
Samantha Stosur
Christina Wheeler

With Moore:

Monique Adamczak
Alison Bai
Ash Barty
Bojana Bobusic
Casey Dellacqua
Anja Dokic
Jarmila Gajdosova
Alenka Hubacek
Daniella Jeflea
Marija Mirkovic
Abbie Myers
Sally Peers
Ellen Perez
Storm Sanders
Olivia Tjandramulia

For her part, Moore was a junior star a decade ago, winning both the Roland Garros and Wimbledon girls doubles titles in '08, as well as reaching the RG girls singles final (losing to Arantxa Rus) that same year.

WHEELCHAIR: Giulia Capocci/ITA
...the 26-year old Italian, the world #8, was the home nation champ of the Sardinia Open in Alghero, Italy, defeating #9 Marjolein Buis 3 & 4 in the final to claim her first career ITF Series 1 title. Capocci, who also defeated second-seeded Katharina Kruger in the semis, swept the doubles, as well, teaming with Pastry Charlotte Famin to defeat Buis & Kruger 4 & 1 in the final.


Another entry in the continuing Should-Be-But-Never-Will-Be-a-WTA-Marketing-Campaign series...

Meanwhile, say hello to The Most Interesting Tour's spirit rodent...

1. Seoul Final - Kiki Bertens def. Ajla Tomljanovic
Yep, Bertens is now tied for the lead for the most hard court titles (2) in 2018. The others: Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Wang Qiang.

2. Guangzhou Final - Wang Qiang def. Yulia Putintseva
While Putintseva has lost her last eight singles finals (0-2 on tour and 0-6 on the ITF circuit, after winning her *first* six challenger finals in 2011-12), while Wang has gone 13-2 since 2014 (2-0 WTA, 1-1 125, 8-1 ITF, 2-0 Asian Games).

Qiang's getting used to the post-final ceremony thing.

3. Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - Caroline Garcia def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Garcia had never beaten, or take a set from, the Russian. But Pavlyuchenkova, the '17 runner-up, dropped the 1st after holding a break lead, served for the match and held 3 MP. In the end, she DF'd on Garcia's MP, squandering yet another match that should have been won, adding to quite a lengthy career list. Shocking, I know.

4. Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. Caroline Wozniacki
Wozniacki was the two-time defending champion, three-time Tokyo winner, and had won nine straight matches in the event. Giorgi, who notched her fourth career Top 5 win (and biggest), ultimately lost to Osaka, who lost to Wozniacki in the final two years ago.
5. Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - Barbora Strycova def. Anett Kontaveit
Strycova nearly blew a 5-1 1st set lead, but won in a TB. She led 4-1 in the 3rd, but saw the Estonian extend the set and save seven MP. Finally, on #8, the Czech went through.

6. Tokyo PPO 1st Rd. - Ash Barty def. CoCo Vandeweghe
It's never easy to figure out how to celebrate defeating the doubles partner that you so joyfully celebrated so much with just a few weeks ago. Trying to translate "shoot myself in the foot" for the Japanese crowd was probably equally quite the task.


7. Tokyo PPO 1st Rd. - Donna Vekic def. Sloane Stephens 6-4/6-4
Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - Donna Vekic def. Johanna Konta 7-5/6-2
a year after tearfully losing a 10-8 3rd set vs. Konta at Wimbledon, Vekic rebounded with a 2018 Round of 16 run that included a 1st Round upset of Sloane Stephens. Once again, Stephens and Konta entered the Donna conversation in Tokyo, as Vekic got her second straight win over Sloane, and second career win over the Brit.

8. Guangzhou 1st Rd. - Sabine Lisicki def. Vera Zvonareva
The German gets her first tour-level MD win since February (she'd gone 1-8 overall, only putting up a victory over Grace Min in a $60K), and her first *ever* over Zvonareva. Of course, they hadn't played since 2011, with the Russian holding a 4-0 edge in a quartet of 2010-11 match-ups.

9. Seoul 2nd Rd. - Evgeniya Rodina def. Kirsten Flipkens
The Russian vet was 6-for-6 on BP chances, but had to avoid squandering a 4-1 3rd set lead, finally serving out the win on her second attempt. On MP, a Flipkens shot was called "good" by a linesperson, then changed to "out," ending the Waffle's attempt at a comeback. She wasn't happy.


10. Seoul 2nd Rd. - Ekaterina Alexandrova def. Alona Ostapenko
The Russian took out the defending champ, and maybe even more shockingly outpaced her in winners (18-11). Alexandrova won just one game from Hsieh Su-wei in the next round. Not a Tennis Sudoku fan, I'm guessing.

11. Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - Alison Riske def. Garbine Muguruza
Muguruza, who ended this one with a DF, is (so far) closing out '18 with a whimper. So... a slam title run and return to #1 in '19, then?
12. Seoul 1st Rd. - Ajla Tomljanovic def. Alison Van Uytvanck 3-6/7-5/7-5
Seoul QF - Ajla Tomljanovic def. Mandy Minella 6-2/4-6/7-5
the Aussie's run to the final included an escape vs. the Belgian (Van Uytvanck led 5-3 in the 3rd and served for the match), while Tomljanovic led by a set and break vs. Minella, then lost a 5-2 3rd set lead before breaking the vet from Luxembourg late and serving it out.
with not-so-varying results.

Guangzhou Q1 - Ivana Jorovic def. Liang En-shou (AO Jr. champ) 6-1/6-1
Guangzhou 1st Rd. - Fiona Ferro d. Wang Xiyu (US Jr. champ) 6-3/6-3
Guangzhou 1st Rd. - Denis Khazaniuk def. Wang Xinyu (WI GD champ) 6-4/4-6/6-3
Guangzhou 1st Rd. - Danka Kovinic/Vera Lapko def. Wang Xinyu/Wang Xiyu (WI GD champs) 6-2/6-1

But things are already looking better in Week 39...

Wuhan Q1 - Wang Xiyu def. Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6(5)/6-2
Wuhan Q2 - Wang Xiyu def. Vania King 6-1/0-0 ret.

Wang plays Bernarda Pera, with the winner getting Dasha Kasatkina.
14. Wuhan Q1 - Wang Yafan def. Amanda Anisimova
The differences between Japan and China are stark.

15. Tokyo PPO QF - Camila Giorgi def. Victoria Azarenka
...5-3 ret.
Just when Vika Things start to look up (wins over Nara and Barty)...

HM- Wuhan 1st Rd. - Katerina Siniakova def. Kristina Mladenovic
For her third straight event, Mladenovic loses (dropping 12 of 14 games after leading 5-1 in the 1st) and avoids a next-round match-up with Caroline Garcia. In New Haven, she lost to Sasnovich, with Garcia awaiting in the 2nd Round. At the U.S. Open, a win by Suarez-Navarro prevented a 3rd Round meeting. Garcia, even with her QF loss to Vekic in Tokyo, is 20-6 in her last 26 matches in Asia.

After a week of struggles and perserverence that nonetheless resulted in an undefeated run to the final, Pliskova plays her best match of the week in the most important contest of the tournament, ending Osaka's 10-match losing streak, climbing into the eighth spot in the WTA Finals race and, maybe, even giving another recent sign that the '16 version of herself isn't gone for good and that she may yet still have that maiden slam run left in her.

2. Seoul Final - Choi Ji-hee/Han Na-lae def. HSIEH SHU-YING/HSIEH SU-WEI
And the Hsieh sisters *don't* become the eleventh all-sibling duo to claim a WTA doubles titles. The others:

22 - Serena & Venus Williams
10 - Chan Hao-Ching & Yung-Jan (Angel & Latisha)
3 - Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova
3 - Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko
2 - Lyudmyla & Nadiia Kichenok
1 - Chris & Jeanne Evert
1 - Katerina Maleeva & Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere
1 - Cammy & Cynthia MacGregor
1 - Aga & Ula Radwanska
1 - Adriana & Antonella Serra-Zanetta

3. Tokyo PPO 1st Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
Pliskova led 3-0 and 4-1 in the 3rd, and held two MP (at 5-4, and in the TB), while Gavrilova served for the match at 6-5 before the Czech forced the deciding breaker. In all, Kristyna converted 7-of-21 BP, held a 126-124 points edge, led 44-27 in winners, fired 7 aces to the Aussie's 12 DF, but Gavrilova won the 2:53 contest (which had 92 combined UE, 49 of them from Dasha) to advance to play the *other* Pliskova twin.

4. Tokyo PPO 2nd Rd. - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Dasha Gavrilova
You mess with one twin, you get the other. Karolina opened what turned out to be a title-winning week by coming back from 4-1 down in the 3rd to get her first win.
5. Tokyo PPO QF - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Alison Riske
Riske had a good week, qualifying and notching wins over Bouchard and Muguruza. But the Bannerette's Tachikawa experience ended when Pliskova rallied from a break deficit in the 3rd set (twice), saving two MP on Riske's serve en route to becoming the eighth '18 singles champion to survive being a point from defeat as a prelude to lifting a trophy.

HM- Tokyo PPO Q1 - Antonia Lottner def. MARI OSAKA
The event was ultimately bookended by losses by an Osaka sister.

Cue the Kool-Aid Man...

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Today’s plan? Drink coffee and be happy! ??????

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Not familiar with the posing here yet ??????????

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Hmmm, imagine if this was a prelude to an actual 2019 coaching session...

Could mean something. Could mean nothing.

5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE [S.P'burg,Doha,Prague,Madrid,Birm]
3 - Simona Halep, ROU [Shenzhen,Roland Garros,Montreal]
3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR [Brisbane,Dubai,Rome]
3 - KIKI BERTENS, NED [Charleston,Cincinnati,Seoul]
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL [Hobart,Lugano,Rabat]
2 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN [Australian Open,Eastbourne]
2 - Angelique Kerber, GER [Sydney,Wimbledon]
2 - KAROLINA PLISKOVA, CZE [Stuttgart,Tokyo PPO]
2 - Naomi Osaka, JPN [Indian Wells,US Open]
2 - WANG QIANG, CHN [Nanchang,Guangzhou]
2 - Pauline Parmentier, FRA [Istanbul,Quebec City]

Australian Open: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2-2r/Fett)
Charleston: Kiki Bertens, NED (1-SF/Keys)
Strasbourg: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (1-F/Cibulkova)
Rosmalen: Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (1-SF/Vandeweghe)
Eastbourne: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1-SF/Kerber)
Washington: Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (4-F/Vekic)
Cincinnati: Kiki Bertens, NED (2) (1-F/Halep)

2 - Simona Halep (Shenzhen-W/AO-L)
2 - Caroline Wozniacki (Brisbane-L/AO-W)
2 - Petra Kvitova (StP-W/Doha-W)
2 - Dasha Kasatkina (Dubai-L/IW-L)
2 - Elise Mertens (Lugano-W/Rabat-W)
2 - Petra Kvitova (Prague-W/Madrid-W)
2 - Simona Halep (Rome-L/RG-W)
2 - Simona Halep (Montreal-W/CincinnatiL)
2 - NAOMI OSAKA (US-W,Tokyo-L)

Sydney - Ash Barty, AUS
Miami - Sloane Stephens, USA [W]
Prague - Petra Kvitova, CZE [W]
Nottingham - Johanna Konta, GBR
Moscow MO - Anastasia Potapova, RUS
Nanchang - Zheng Saisai, CHN
Nanchang - Wang Qiang, CHN [W]
US Open - Serena Williams, USA

6 - Simona Halep, ROU (3-3)
5 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (5-0)
3 - NAOMI OSAKA, JPN (2-1)
3 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (3-0)
3 - Elise Mertens, BEL (3-0)
3 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (2-1)
3 - Sloane Stephens, USA (1-2)
3 - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (1-2)
3 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (1-2)

5-0 - Petra Kvitova, CZE
3-0 - Elina Svitolina , UKR
3-0 - Elise Mertens, BEL
2-0 - Anqelique Kerber, GER
2-0 - Pauline Parmentier, FRA

9 - Li Na (2004,08,10-14)
4 - Zheng Jie (2005-06,12)
2 - WANG QIANG (2018)
2 - Peng Shuai (2016-17)
2 - Zhang Shuai (2013-17)
1 - Duan Yingying (2016)
1 - Yan Zi (2005)
1 - Sun Tiantian (2006)

Stuttgart: CoCo Vandeweghe, USA [QF-Halep,2r-Siegemund]=lost F
Madrid: Karolina Pliskova, CZE [QF-Halep]=lost SF
TOKYO PPO: CAMILA GIORGI, ITA [2r-Wozniacki]=lost SF

8...Demi Schuurs, NED (6-2)
5...Elise Mertens, BEL (3-2)
5...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS (2-3)
4...Ash Barty, AUS (4-0)
4...Timea Babos, CZE (2-2)
4...Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (2-2)
4...Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (2-2)
4...Kveta Peschke, CZE (2-2)
4...Katerina Siniakova,CZE (2-2)
4...HSIEH SU-WEI, TPE (1-3)
4...Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (1-3)
4...Kirsten Flipkens, BEL (1-3)
4...Andreja Klepac, SLO (1-3)
4...Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP (1-3)

43 - Kveta Peschke, CZE (San Jose, w/ L.Chan)
42 - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague, w/ Melichar)
37 - Katarina Srebotnik, SLO (C'ston Kudryavtseva/N'berg Schuurs)
36 - Abigail Spears, USA (Nottingham, w/ Rosolska)
35 - Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, ESP (Mallorca, w/ Klepac)
35 - Raquel Atawo, USA (Stuttgart, w/ Groenefeld)
[young finalist]
17 - Tang Qianhui (Nanchang-W)
19 - Fanny Stollar (Budapest-W/Rabat-L)
19 - Vera Lapko (Lugano-L)
19 - Aryna Sabalenka (Lugano-L)
19 - Anna Blinkova (Rabat-W)
19 - Jiang Xinyu (Nanchang-W)

Doha (HC) - #21 Kvitova/CZE d. #4 Muguruza/ESP
Indian Wells (HC) - #44 Osaka/JPN d. #19 Kasatkina/RUS
Miami (HC) - #12 Stephens/USA d. #5 Ostapenko/LAT
Madrid (RC) - #10 Kvitova/CZE d. #20 Bertens/NED
Rome (RC) - #4 Svitolina/UKR d. #1 Halep/ROU
Montreal (HC) - #1 Halep/ROU d. #3 Stephens/USA
Cincinnati (HC) - #17 Bertens/NED d. #1 Halep/ROU
Wuhan (HC) - x
Beijing (HC) -x

WUHAN, CHINA (Premier 5/Hard Court)
2014 Petra Kvitova d. Genie Bouchard
2015 Venus Williams d. Garbine Muguruza
2016 Petra Kvitova d. Dominika Cibulkova
2017 Caroline Garcia d. Ash Barty
2014 Hingis/Pennetta d. C.Black/Garcia
2015 Hingis/Mirza d. Begu/Niculescu
2016 Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. Mirza/Strycova
2017 L.Chan/Hingis d. Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan
WS: #1 Halep, #2 Wozniacki
WD: #1 Babos/Mladenovic, #2 S.-Hlavackova/Strycova

2012 Begu d. Vekic
2013 Jovanovski d. Govortsova
2014 Knapp d. Jovanovski
2015 Hibino d. Vekic
2016 Kr.Pliskova d. Hibino
2017 K.Bondarenko d. Babos
2013 Babos/Shvedova d. Govortsova/Minella
2014 Krunic/Siniakova d. Gasparyan/Panova
2015 Gasparyan/Panova d. Dushevina/Siniakova
2016 Olaru/Soylu d. Schuurs/Voracova
2017 Babos/Hlavackova d. Hibino/Kalashnikova
WS: #1 Begu, #2 Lapko
WD: #1 Begu/Olaru, #2 Hibino/Kalashnikova

JUNIOR FED CUP 16s (Budapest, HUN)
2000 Czech Republic d. Hungary
2001 Czech Republic d. Poland
2002 Belarus d. Czech Republic
2003 Netherlands d. Canada
2004 Argentina d. Canada
2005 Poland d. France
2006 Belarus d. Russia
2007 Australia d. Poland
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 Russia d. Germany
2010 Russia d. China
2011 Australia d. Canada
2012 United States d. Russia
2013 Russia d. Australia
2014 United States d. Slovakia
2015 Czech Republic d. United States
2016 Poland d. United States
2017 United States d. Japan
5 - AUS
3 - CZE

And, finally...

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Really impressed by Osaka's week. She destroyed Cibulkova, and as that tweet showed, she almost did the unthinkable.

Getting into the homestretch for the YEC and Zhuhai.

Stat of the Week-22-the number of slam QF this year-out of 32 possible spots.

Putinseva's run to the final this week inspired this, as you will see that for 2018, the slams were both a predictor and precursor to WTA happenings.

Take the AO. It is the 6th event of the season, so it is impossible to only have that season's winners make up the QF. but as you will see, in regards to all slams, a SF on the regular tour, save one, was the minimum.

Slam QF 2018
Suarez Navarro-2
22 Tied-1

QF with 2018 title-last listed
Pliskova-Stuttgart-now Tokyo
Bertens-Cincinnati-now Seoul
Osaka-Indian Wells

13 of 22 have a title.
Suarez Navarro-Connecticut
Kasatkina-Indian Wells

Only 4 left-SF

That leaves Serena as the only slam QF not to have reached a SF or better on the regular tour. And she's always an outlier.

Quiz Time!
Kiki Bertens has multiple singles titles this season. Which Dutch player has the most singles titles in a single season?

A.Kiki Bertens
B.Betty Stove
C.Marcella Mesker
D.Brenda Schultz
E.Michaella Krajicek

More Up/Down with another premier, but think this over with the Magnum PI theme. They are remaking the show, but the old theme is a classic.

You actually get two for the price of one, because you will get to find out some interesting things.

C.Mesker is not the answer, as she was mainly a doubles specialist. She deserves notice, as her win in Oklahoma City in 1986 ended a 10 year singles drought for the Dutch women.

It is also not (B)Stove, as she only had the one singles win in 1976. However, had I asked who had the most doubles titles in a year, it would be Stove, who more than doubled Schuurs current output, winning 15 in 1979.

It isn't (E)Krajicek either. Now some may have guessed her, because she did win 3 titles in a 12 month span. But one(Tashkent) was in 2005, while the other 2 were in 2006. She hasn't won a title since. The other odd thing? Her rankings when she won her titles? 82, 60, 55, yet didn't win one when she was Top 40.

It is also not (D)Schultz. She may have won 7 career titles, which as of today is the same as Bertens, but never won more than 2 in one season. Not a shock, but the year she won 2, Oklahoma City was one of them. Dutch women loved that stop so much that Manon Bollegraf also picked up her one and only singles title there.

A. Bertens is the answer, her 3 being the most singles titles in a season, and her 7 tied for most in a career. The one negative thing that stands out about the Dutch women is that in singles, it really is just one at a time, similar to Poland with Radwanska. Since Bertens won her first title at Fes back in 2012, she is the only Dutch woman to have won a title.

Sun Sep 23, 11:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Kvitova- 2 time winner, in a tournament where there are about 20 favorites. Only 9-6 since her last title, if she can get by her 2nd rd match, she could win her 3rd.
2.Tashkent youngsters- Youth will be served. Kostyuk, Blinkova,Potapova, and a bunch of youngsters look for a title. Why am I pressing the young angle? because half of the field doesn't have a title. And take the other tournament, where Kvitova has 5 titles this year. Tashkent only has one player with 5 or more titles in their career-Zvonareva. Next is Begu and Barthel with 4.
4.Giorgi- has a possible 2nd match with Kvitova, so this may pay off in Linz instead. Known as a ballbasher, her willingness to come in off the backhand, and finish at net with the forehand has really improved her game. The red flag that will her top out between 11-20, are her recent losses. Bencic and Kuzmova don't matter much here. But the other four? Serena, Venus, Osaka, Keys. Obviously there is a certain style that is bothering her.
5.Bertens-Trying to make that YEC push. Oddly enough, she entered the week at 8 in the race, won a title, but dropped to 9th as Pliskova's event was worth more points. If Bertens can make it, she will try to be the first woman since Hingis in 1999-2000, to have reached the doubles final, then come back the next year and reached the singles final. This is where Todd would tell you that Novotna did so in 1996-97.

Sun Sep 23, 11:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Muguruza-Remember when Halep got ripped for "Quitting" against Osaka, when in truth, Osaka had just worn her down? Then explain what the heck Muguruza was doing last week? Just an awful performance, in which not only did she look like she didn't want to be there, it was Safina in the French Open final bad. Muguruza mad need to buy Kerber a fruit basket, not Sugarpova, because the smokescreen put up by 2017 Kerber has obscured the fact that 2018 Muguruza is the same. Both came off slam wins and the #1 ranking the previous year. 2017 Kerber to this point 27-18, 2018 Muguruza 26-16.
2.Sharapova-The end of an era. First full season without a title. Did not even reach a final. But the era bit isn't just about her, it is about the Big 3, or Big 4 if you count Radwanska playing the Ferrer role back in 2012. Serena didn't win a slam for the first time since 2011. She did win 2 titles that year, meaning that this will be the first time since 2006 that she doesn't have a title. Azarenka shows flashes, but has no durability. Sharapova will also be on the bubble for AO seeding with Tianjin points coming off, and 125K's available in November.
3.Radwanska- You feel she is playing out the string. The 4th member of the big 4, 12 of her 28 career finals were in 2011-13. So her peak had passed when she won the YEC, which she then used as a springboard to the 2016 AO SF. That is the last time she's been past the 4th rd at a slam.
4.Vesnina-No injury update, but she is now 83 in the singles rankings, even below banned Errani. At this point, might as well stay out the rest of the year and use the protected ranking, which for her would be around 40. Russian fans must be confused. They see the writeup on Sharapova, who is done for the year, know that 7 of them are in the Top 100, but the 8th-Kuznetsova is one of only two to have won a title this year. The other? Pavlyuchenkova.
5.Konta-Tried to play the long game with her, but this year is a loss. Always patchy footwork now with worse shot selection has made her a mess.

Mon Sep 24, 12:08:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Serena as the outlier *is* a common statistical theme, isn't it?

Quiz note (to self): I totally disregarded Bertens simply because I figured your answer wouldn't be the person who inspired the question in the first place. And that was my first mistake... Thus, I wrongly went with the Dutch Painter.

Any Jana career accomplishment mention is always a good thing. ;)

Ah, more "evidence" that Muguruza will probably have a super-strong 2019. Just because that's Mugu, who is well on her way to having one of the statistically oddest careers on record.

Well, unless you count Pavlyuchenkova's, I guess.

Some end-of-season coaching changes work, even after a "career year." Konta's last winter is most definitely not one of those.

Speaking of that, it's almost time for the offseason coaching change "hot stove league." After what happened with Osaka last winter, and Pliskova in recent weeks, I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. If you want to keep up with Naomi, you might have to think like Naomi.

Mon Sep 24, 02:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

I know you love Krunic, so do I, but take a look at the Vandeweghe match earlier this year, vs the Svitolina one. Krunic got a Top 10 win with her "B" game.

Sat Sep 29, 12:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, proving that the "process" may not necessarily be trustworthy for Svitolina, I guess. :\

Sun Sep 30, 12:42:00 PM EDT  

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