Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wk.41- To Swing in Asia (and Linz)

Pastry wishes...

And Ukrainian dreams...

The WTA season is almost over, but there's still more than enough story to go around.

TIANJIN, CHINA (Int'l/Hard Court)
S: Caroline Garcia/FRA def. Karolina Pliskova/CZE 7-6(7)/6-3
D: Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke (USA/CZE) def. Monique Adamczak/Jessica Moore (AUS/AUS) 6-4/6-2
HONG KONG, CHINA (Int'l/Hard Court)
S: Dayana Yastremska/UKR def. Wang Qiang/CHN 6-2/6-1
D: Samantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai (AUS/CHN) def. Shuko Aoyama/Lidziya Marozava (JPN/BLR) 6-4/6-4
LINZ, AUSTRIA (Int'l/Hard Court Indoor)
S: Camila Giorgi/ITA def. Ekaterina Alexandrova/RUS 6-3/6-1
D: Kirsten Flipkens/Johanna Larsson (BEL/SWE) def. Raquel Atawo/Anna-Lena Groenefeld (USA/GER) 4-6/6-4 [10-5]
YOUTH OLMYMPIC GAMES (Buenos Aires/Hard Court)
Singles Gold: Kaja Juvan/SLO def. Clara Burel/FRA
Singles Bronze: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL def. Wang Xinyu/CHN

Doubles Gold: Kaja Juvan/Iga Swiatek (SLO/POL) def. Yuki Naito/Naho Sato (JPN/JPN)
Doubles Bronze: Wang Xinyu/Wang Xiyu (CHN/CHN) def. Maria Carle/Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (ARG/COL)

Mixed Gold: Yuki Naito/Naoki Tajima (JPN/JPN) def. Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/Nicolas Mejia (COL/COL)
Mixed Bronze: Clara Burel/Hugo Gaston (FRA/FRA) def. Lulu Sun/Damien Wenger (SUI/SUI)

...Garcia finally had the week that she's been wanting (needing, really) for a while now.

Garcia's brilliant back-half of the season run a year ago pushed the French woman into the Top 20 and Top 10, earned her the Wuhan and Beijing titles in back-to-back weeks, her maiden appearance in the WTA Finals and, over the course of '18, provided the foundation for a climb that topped out at #4 last month. With the inability to produce results suitable enough to hold her position, Garcia finally dropped outside the Top 10 last week for the first time in a year after failing to defend either of her big ticket titles from last fall. Worse, Garcia often found herself faltering down the stretch in big moments and losing the sort of tight matches that winning had helped her establish her *new* name last season. Case in point: last week's Beijing defeat at the hands of Aryna Sabalenka, despite having held a 7-5/5-2 lead.

With time running out on a "season-righting" (saving?) result in a consistent-but-unspectacular campaign, Garcia's title run in Tianjin, her first in a year that hadn't even seen a final since Beijing last October (or a SF since Madrid in the spring), arrived just in the nick of time. Granted, Garcia had a good draw. Early wins over a pair of qualifiers was followed by Petra Martic's 2nd set retirement. But her straight sets victories over Hsieh Su-wei and Karolina Pliskova more than gave her title run merit. For a player who thrives as much or more on a rising confidence level as any player on tour, Tianjin likely erases any pesky doubts that may have kicked in during a long offseason staring at a trophy case that hadn't added any new hardware since positively demanding addition space in the room at this time last year, as well as Garcia potentially allowing moments of silence spent contemplating how she dealt (or hadn't) with 2018's higher level of expectation. In the "in between months," it might have gotten the better of her and led to a slow start next season. Even any potential issues with Garcia's father remaining her coach may now never surface, after a series of moments occurred during the season in which she seemed sent off the rails and saw her performance suffer in matches *after* a court-side visit from Louis-Paul. Whether a change -- or an addition -- needed to made was an legitimate topic of discussion.

Now, though, those "worst case scenarios" may have been averted with one shining week.

It could be the difference between a Konta-esque step-back in '19 and one that could go a substantial way toward proving correct some of what Andy Murray saw in Garcia all those years ago one afternoon in Paris.
RISERS: Camila Giorgi/ITA, Wang Qiang/CHN and Karolina Pliskova/CZE
...from her off-court squabbles with Italy's tennis federation, and sometimes "above-it-all" commentary ("I don't watch tennis") that might be seen by some as indifference, Giorgi has always, above all else, been a ball-striking fighter between the lines. She's often seemed snake bit, and even lost two early finals after holding MP while seeking her maiden tour title. She finally got win #1 at Rosmalen in 2015. It took until this weekend for her to finally get #2 and show that that tough exterior *can* be punctured a bit under the right circumstances.

In a event that saw just one seeded player reach the semifinal stage, #5 Giorgi rose above the field in Linz, dropping just a single set (QF-Gasparyan) while handling the likes of Pauline Parmentier, Jil Teichmann, Alison Van Uytvanck and streaking qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova (in the final, her first since April '16) in straights. The win will bump Giorgi up to a new career high of #28, as in a season of transition for Italian women's tennis (with Vinci and Schiavone retiring, and Errani on suspension), Giorgi is the first tour singles champ from Italy this year.

Wang has been Asia's superstar during this fall's 4Q swing. While she didn't pick up her third title of the season in Hong Kong (which would be a Chinese first, as Li Na never won more than two), she put down another big result in what has been a remarkable run. Wins over Zhang Ling, Christina McHale, Elina Svitolina (who ended her U.S. Open run in the 3rd Rd.) and Garbine Muguruza (after finishing off the Ukrainian earlier in the day on Saturday to wrap up their rain-interrupted QF) put Wang into her third final of the season (all in China). It was her fifth consecutive SF-or-better result since successfully defending her Asian Games Gold this summer and then ushering the "First Seed Out" at Flushing Meadows (the second time she'd done that in a major in '18). She'll achieve *another* career high ranking this week, climbing to #23.

Pliskova seemed destined to pick up her second 4Q title in Asia in Tianjin. The #1 seed, she continued her late summer/early fall momentum-riding wave to her third '18 final with wins over Varvara Lepchenko, Polona Hercog, Katie Boulter and Timea Bacsinszky. But Caroline Garcia got the best of the Czech in a straight sets final, handing Pliskova her first defeat in a final since 2016 after winning five straight championship matches.

SURPRISES: Ekaterina Alexandrova/RUS and Kristina Kucova/SVK
...23-year old Hordette Alexandrova has made a series of minor breakthroughs in recent seasons, including qualifying to make her tour (Katowice) and slam debuts (Wimbledon) in '16 and going on to since record MD wins at all four majors, winning a WTA 125 Series title ('16) and climbing into the Top 70 ('17). But the Russian has stepped things up this fall. She reached her initial WTA QF in Seoul after notching her first career Top 10 win (Alona Ostapenko). This week, ranked at #119, she sent to Linz and, as has often been her path toward a breakthrough, she qualified with wins over Mona Barthel and Mandy Minella. She followed up with victories over Katerina Siniakova, Johanna Larsson and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her first SF, then knocked off Andrea Petkovic (sealing the win with a MP ace) to reach her maiden final. She fell in straight sets to Camila Giorgi, but will climb 32 spots to #87 in Monday's new rankings.

Kucova had her best season two years ago in 2016, a campaign highlighted by a surprise SF run in Montreal and her first Top 100 finish. The '07 U.S. Open junior champ seemed on her way to something bigger, only to fall victim to injury the following season. She returned in January after a five-month absence. She's mostly toiled on the challenger level in '18, while using her protected ranking on occasion for tour events. She sparked in March with a $25K final, and again in late summer with back-to-back $25K QF/SF results in her two most recent outings. This week in Hong Kong, again utilizing her PR as she stood at #317, the Slovak recorded her first WTA MD win in over a year against Ostapenko (whose wrist injury and own inconsistency has had a hand in delivering quite a few "career memory" moments to lower ranked players lately), and then reached the QF with a victory over LL Viktoriya Tomova. Kucova lost to eventual champ Dayana Yastremska. The trio of good weeks won't immediately right the 28-year's old path, but she's managed to climb nearly 100 ranking spots during the span, including a 49-spot jump on Monday to #268.


VETERANS: Andrea Petkovic/GER and Samantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai (AUS/CHN)
...Petkovic's under-the-radar resurgence over the course of the '18 season added yet another good run in Linz, where the 31-year old wild card recipient began the week by recording her second Top 10 win of the season by saving a MP and taking out countrywoman Julia Goerges, staging a comeback from 6-1/4-1 down and saving a MP. She added a win over another German, Tatjana Maria, and performed her usual put-down of Kristina Mladenovic (improving to 7-0 vs. the Pastry, winning 14 of 15 sets) to reach her third tour-level SF since August. She fell in three sets to Ekaterina Alexandrova, but is now 8-3 in her last three events, and 12-7 since her final four run in Washington before the U.S. Open. She'll be up fifteen spots to #67 this week.

Winners are grinners, and Sammy and Shuai were sporting as much from ear-to-ear this weekend in Hong Kong. I know I've been something of a broken record when it's come to the Aussie over the past year, so it's great to see at least a *small* sign that she *may* be starting to do what I've been calling for for a while now -- for her to return to her fabulous early-career doubles roots (#1 ranking, 20+ titles, including five slam titles and five finals to go along with her slam-winning singles success) -- for the final stretch of her career, which could still be Hall of Fame worthy if she could even come close to a Hingis-like final chapter.

Stosur's late-season teaming with Zhang appears to have clicked. While they've been infrequent partners over the years, they first teamed up in 2013 and reached a final in their debut event in Osaka that season. Their U.S. Open semifinal this summer run may have set the stage for something more. In Hong Kong, they took the title without dropping a set, taking out Miyu Kato/Makoto Ninomiya early, and finishing things off with a 6-4/6-4 win in the final over Shuko Aoyama/Lidziya Marozova. For Stosur, 34, it's career win #25 (in her 39th final), but her first since taking the Kremlin Cup with Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2013. 29-year Zhang now has seven tour-level WD title runs, but three this season alone with three different partners. In fact, she's teamed with different partners in her last seven doubles finals, and has played with eleven different women while reaching her thirteen career finals (only Stosur and Kimiko Date, with two finals each, have joined her more than once). Zhang also reached the singles semis in Hong Kong, falling to Dayana Yastremska.
COMEBACKS: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI and Margarita Gasparyan/RUS
...Bacsinszky's injury-related absence (July '17 to early February '18 with a wrist injury) finally crushed her ranking this spring, as in one week she fell from #63 to outside the Top 300 after Roland Garros. The former Top 10er was #751 in August, and without a singles win since last year's Wimbledon. The 29-year old Swiss finally got on the board with a $80K final run in September, and followed up with a $60K QF. Still, she arrived (at #329 and using her protected ranking) in Tianjin without a tour-level MD win in sixteen months. Well, she made up for lost time. Danielle Collins, who'd just beaten her in Beijing, retired from their 1st Round match to end Bacsinszky's long drought. She posted a comeback win from a set down vs. another player recently searching for her form, Misaki Doi, and then toppled a Gen PDQ giant in Aryna Sabalenka, finally ending the Belarusian's lingering WTAF hopes, to reach her first tour-level SF since last year's RG. She lost to Karolina Pliskova, but has now managed to step back out into the light before the end of her '18 season. She'll be at #238 this week.

While the 4Q has often been about players named Wang, Sabalenka, Pliskova and Wozniacki in recent weeks, one shouldn't overlook (as the WTA did this week) the comeback of Gasparyan. The 24-year old Russian wasn't on the list of Comeback Player of the Year nominees (Serena, Tomljanovic and, somewhat less credibly, Mattek-Sands and, in a real misfire, Bencic were) released by the tour this week, she *should* have been. She proved it this week in Linz. Still using her protected ranking after undergoing three knee surgeries, Gasparyan played her first event since winning her first title in three years in Tashkent. She knocked off Monica Puig then, even while playing with a wonky ankle and having to come back from break down in the 3rd set, recorded her first career Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens even while the Dutch woman was fighting for a berth in the WTA Finals. She ultimately lost to eventual champ Camila Giorgi in three sets in the QF, but will see her ranking get another double-digit bump up to #124 this coming week. She was outside the Top 1000 in April, and the Top 500 in July.

FRESH FACES: Dayana Yastremska/UKR and Katie Boulter/GBR could almost *feel* the restless urges seeking to explode through the skin of Yastremska in recent months when, after trying but failing to get through slam qualifying to reach her maiden MD at a major (and losing a $100K final, her second such loss of '18, that would have earned her a SW19 wild card), she then had to watch her generational junior counterparts reach tour finals (Potapova) or win titles (Danilovic). The 18-year old Ukrainian, a Wimbledon girls finalist two years ago, finally made her slam debut at this summer's U.S. Open and climbed into the Top 100 for the first time. In Hong Kong, she took things to a whole other level.

The 18-year old who'd never before reached a tour semi, became the second youngest WTA singles champ (behind Danilovic) of '18, and she did it in style. Yastremska never lost a set while taking out Fanny Stollar, Zheng Saisai, Kristina Kucova and Zhang Shuai to reach her maiden final. She then took out Asian swing superstar Wang Qiang 2 & 1 to become the eighth first-time tour champion of the season. She'll jump to #66 on Monday, making her the second highest ranked teenager on tour (#51 Sonya Kenin) and the highest ranked age 18-or-under.

Now, getting her out of Hong Kong...

In a week where *two* of Backspin's leading contenders for 2019's "Name You'll Know..." pick (Boulter & Kaja Juvan) posted noteworthy achievements, the 22-year old Leicester native put herself in the running for Britain's top-ranked woman. In Tianjin, Boulter recorded her biggest career win with a 1st Round victory over #42 Maria Sakkari, then followed it up with another over Barbora Krejcikova. In her second career WTA QF (w/ Nottingham this summer), she nearly brought the house down, only to fall to top-seeded Karolina Pliskova 5-7/6-0/6-3.

Boulter will post her first Top 100 ranking (#96) on Monday, not far behind British #2 Heather Watson (#89), with top-ranked Jo Konta (#44) now yet again seeking her third coach in three years.

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Those top ?? debut feels ???? (on Monday ??)

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DOWN: Belinda Bencic/SUI
...while this year's nominees for the tour's official awards are a generally good lot, there *was* one sore thumb in the mix -- Bencic being included as one of the eventual non-winners (since we know Serena will take the honor) for Comeback Player of the Year. Fittingly, to open the week Bencic did what she's done most of this season. She lost early. The Swiss fell in the Linz 1st Round to Vera Lapko by the ignominious scoreline of 1-6/6-1/6-0. After out-pointing the Belarusian 30-18 in the opening set, Bencic lost 49 of 69 points in the final two sets. The defeat was Bencic's sixth straight loss, with her only win since mid-August coming in a 2nd Round match vs. Camila Giorgi in New Haven (*after* losing in qualifying, then getting a 1st Round bye as a LL).

What the tour overlooked while including Bencic on the nominee list is that her current Top 50 ranking is propped up by one great lower level stretch in challengers between the end of the '17 season and Week 1 of 2018. Remember, Bencic's run of a $100K SF, two WTA 125 titles and a $100K win (18-1 overall) gave her a golden glow in late December, and still accounts for 520 of her 1147 rankings points. While her current ranking is substantially better than it was one year ago (#228 this past week in '17), she hasn't come close to carrying over her momentum into the actual season. With the Linz loss, she fell to 11-19 since January, and stood at 9-15 in WTA MD and Fed Cup WG matches for the season. Does that sound like a "Comeback Player of the Year" nominee? Certainly not when compared to, say, someone like the not nominated Margarita Gasparyan, who returned from near-retirement and three knee surgeries to win a 4Q tour title and, days after the nominations, record her first career Top 10 win.

Will Bencic even play during the winter this year, and lose all those points? She played last year because she missed much of '17, was finally healthy and needed to improve her ranking. Assuming she doesn't lose *all* those rankings points, and only say maybe 400, she'd drop outside the Top 80. If you subtract 520 points from her current numbers, she'd almost be outside the Top 100.

Bencic has thus far won two qualifying matches this weekend in Luxembourg, but will need another to reach the MD in her final tour-level outing of '18.
ITF PLAYER: Pranjala Yadlapalli/IND Lagos, Nigeria the 19-year old Yadlapalli wins her second of back-to-back $25K titles in the city, once again defeating Swiss Conny Perrin in the final for the second straight week. She's won all three of her career ITF titles since July of last year. With a 109-spot jump on Monday to #340, Yadlapalli will be the third-ranked Indian woman in singles, behind Ankita Raina (#201) and Karman Thandi (#215).


...while she never quite climbed the junior ladder (reaching #5, never winning a MD girls slam singles match in her career), Juvan has been quite successful in pro challengers (3-2 in '18 finals, reaching the WTA Top 200). But at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, the 17-year old finally had *her moment* against her age group peers in her only junior event of the season. With the top two seeds (#1 Wang Xiyu and #2 Liang En-shuo, both '18 girls slam winners) falling early, the Slovenian teenager virtually coasted upon a consistently fine wave throughout the week. The #4 seed, Juvan dropped just one set en route to the singles Gold (QF vs. Russia's Oksana Selekhmeteva), double-bageling Viktoriia Dema in the 2nd Round, defeating #5 Wang Xinyu 6-0/7-5 in the semis and then #7 Clara Burel (a two-time '18 girls slam finalist who'd defeated #3 Iga Swiatak and #6 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano while not dropping a set on her way to the final) by a 7-5/6-4 score in the Gold Medal Match.

The Sunday singles win allowed Juvan to sweep the singles and doubles Golds at the event, as the '17 Wimbledon girls doubles champ (w/ Olga Danilovic) had already previously won her maiden medal alongside Swiatek. After winning every set on their way to the final match, the duo battled past Yuki Naito & Naho Sato via a 6-7(5)/7-5 [10-4] scoreline to climb atop the medal stand.

While Juvan was the only tennis double Gold medalist in Buenos Aires, she wasn't the only teen with multiple medals in the competition. Silver medalist Burel also won Bronze in mixed doubles, Yuki Naito won mixed Gold and doubles Silver, while Colombia's Osorio Serrano won Bronze in singles and Silver in mixed (while also dropping the doubles Bronze Match with Maria Carle to Wang/Wang).

DOUBLES: Nicole Melichar/Kveta Peschke (USA/CZE) and Kirsten Flipkens/Johanna Larsson (BEL/SWE)
...the multi-generational duo of Melichar & Peschke have become a force in a season without a truly dominant (*and* consistent) doubles partnership. The two teamed in Tianjin to reach their fourth '18 final on a third different surface, winning their second title after taking a pair of 3rd set TB (in the 1st Rd. and semis) before defeating Monique Adamczak & Jessica Moore 6-4/6-2 in the final.

2018 has been 25-year old Czech-born Melichar's career season, as she's won two of her three career WD titles, reached a slam final and won a mixed slam (both at Wimbledon), as well as having reached the doubles Top 20 for the first time. Peschke, 43, has won three '18 titles (she picked up another with Latisha Chan), giving her 31 in a career that began with her pro debut in April 1993. A debut, by the way, that came just two months before that of Melichar. And by "debut" I mean Melichar was *born* in July that year.

In Linz, Larsson pulled off a rare three-peat, defending along with Flipkens the WD crown she'd won the last two years with Kiki Bertens. Playing in their fifth overall final as a duo (since 2016), #3-seeded Flipkens/Larsson dropped just one set all week while defeating the likes of #2 L.Kichenok/Srebotnik and #1 Atawo/Groenefeld in a 10-5 match TB in the final. It's 32-year old Flipkens' 13th title (second in '18) and Larsson's 14th. In a era where many players freelance in doubles, reaching finals with a variety of partners, the Swede's recent doubles career has essentially existed almost exclusively (at least when she's been successful) with just *two* partners. From 2015-18, all seventeen of her WD finals have come with either Bertens (9-3) or Flipkens (2-3) by her side.


WHEELCHAIR: Yui Kamiji/JPN the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, world #2 Kamiji improved on the Bronze medal she won in the event four years ago, taking the Gold with a 6-3/6-4 win the final over #21 Zhu Zhenzhen. Zhu had earlier defeated #13 Sakhorn Khanthasit (THA), the winner of the previous two APG competitions. Khanthasit, 46, ended up with no singles medal, losing in the Bronze medal match. In the doubles final, Zhu & Huang Hui Min upset #1-seeded Kamiji & Manami Tanaka in the SF, then Khanthasit & Wanitha Inthanin in the Gold medal final.

Off-key Offcourt Tennis Encounter of the Week...


1. Linz 2nd Rd. - Margarita Gasparyan def. Kiki Bertens
The Russian gets her first career Top 10 win. She broke Bertens to win the 1st set 7-5, then came back from a break down (3-1) in the 3rd, holding games from 15 & love even while dealing with an ankle injury. Bertens' loss may have ended her hopes for the WTAF singles debut, though she'll have another shot this week as she'll be forced into action in Luxembourg to keep her Singapore dream alive.

2. Hong Kong QF - Wang Qiang def. Elina Svitolina 6-2/6-4
Meanwhile, Svitolina still hasn't officially wrapped up her own Singapore slot (Pliskova and Bertens could still knock her out of the field), despite being determined to play "mean" in order to do it in Hong Kong. She may have gotten a break in this match, as it was called due to rain on Friday with Wang up 6-2/5-2.

As it turned out, Svitolina *did* make things closer, but Wang won anyway, then went back out later and took down Muguruza, 6-7(5)/6-4/7-5, coming back from a break down in the 3rd to get the win.

Meanwhile, Svitolina didn't get a wild card into any of this week's events, so it'll be a waiting game to see if she holds her Singapore spot. If both Pliskova and Bertens reach the semis, Svitolina will have additional reason to be "angry." Meanwhile, her coaching search is officially "on," as Nick Saviano's brief "until the end of the season" run is over, and finding a full-time #1 coach (Andrew Bettles is still around) and trainer will be on the Ukrainian's offseason "To-Do" list.
3. Linz Final - Camila Giorgi def. Ekaterina Alexandrova
Italy is the 22nd different nation to produce a WTA singles champ in 2018.

Speaking of Italians...

4. Hong Kong Final - Dayana Yastremska def. Wang Qiang
Finally, Yastremska gets something before two-time tour finalist Anastasia Potapova. The two met in a memorable Wimbledon junior final two years ago, with Potapova winning in dramatic fashion, and Yastremska has seemingly been chasing the Russian's accomplishments ever since (except when they won an ITF WD title together in Prague last year). While the Hordette won her first tour WD title in '18 (Moscow WD w/ Zvonareva) and reached two tour-level singles finals, though she lost them both. Things are starting to change. First, Yastremska defeated Potapova (6-1/6-0) in an ITF final earlier this summer, and now this.

5. Hong Kong 1st Rd. - Kristina Kucova def. Alona Ostapenko
The 21-year old, suffering from a wrist injury, has now lost matches to the world #122 and #317 in her last four events, as well as pulling off the the rare Kristina Kucova (HK) and Kateryna Kozlova (RG 1st Rd. upset) exacta this season.
6. Tianjin 1st Rd. - Misaki Doi def. Yulia Putintseva 6-0/3-6/7-6(6)
Tianjin 1st Rd. - Timea Bacsinszky def. Danielle Collins 6-3 ret.
Tianjin 2nd Rd. - Timea Bacsinszky def. Misaki Doi 1-6/6-3/7-5
Doi hadn't won a WTA MD match since Nurnberg '17, while Bacsinszky's drought extended back to last year's Wimbledon. Naturally, after breaking loose of their losing streaks, they had to face off with each other. Those Tennis Gods...

7. Linz 1st Rd. - Andrea Petkovic def. Julia Goerges
Down 6-1/4-1, Petko saved a MP (at 5-4) and notched her second Top 10 win of the season. Though it's sort of become her cross to bear, still, you know things are pretty good when the German breaks out the Petko Dance...

8. Hong Kong 1st Rd. - Monica Niculescu def. Ons Jabeur 4-6/7-6(0)/6-4
Hong Kong 2nd Rd. - Dasha Gavrilova def. Monica Niculescu 6-3/4-6/7-6(3)
Niculescu gets her first MD win since Indian Wells, despite Jabeur twice serving for the match, breaking the Tunisian at love on both occasions. A round later, the Romanian nearly recovered from a 5-1 3rd set deficit, preventing Gavrilova from serving out the match three times before the Aussie won a deciding TB to end the 2:52 encounter, her first ever with the unique Niculescu game.

9. Youth Olympics 1st Rd. - Yuki Naito def. #1 Wang Xiyu 7-6(3)/7-5
Youth Olympics 1st Rd. - Daniela Vismane def. #2 Liang En-shuo 7-5/6-2
and how was *your* opening round? Not good for the reigning '18 U.S. and Australian Open girls champs, respectively.
10. Linz QF - Andrea Petkovic def. Kristina Mladenovic
Kiki is still winless vs. Petko, but at least she notched wins over Harriet Dart and doubles partner Timea Babos. The QF result was her deepest run in a singles draw since Acapulco in February.
11. Linz 1st Rd. -Alison Van Uytvanck def. Magdalena Rybarikova
Van Uytvanck had lost seven straight matches before her win over Rybarikova. After saving 3 MP in her 2nd Round match, the Belgian knocked off defending champ Barbora Strycova in the QF to get her second win over a DC in '18 (tying her with Sabalenka for the tour lead).
12. $25K Pula ITA Final - Cristina Dinu/Reka-Luca Jani def. Giorgia Marchetti/Camilla Rosatello 3-6/6-1 [13-11]
$25K Pula ITA SF - Martina Di Giuseppe def. Reka-Luca Jani 3-6/7-6(4)/6-2
Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani! Reka-Luca Jani! (Hey, it's a tradition.)
13. Tianjin QF - Timea Bacsinszky def. Aryna Sabalenka
Nope. Didn't see that one coming.

14. $15K Antalya TUR SF - Georgia Andreea Craciun def. Eliessa Vanlangendonck
The quest continues. 21-year old Belgian Vanlangendonck is *still* seeking her maiden ITF singles final appearance. With this loss, she's now 0-9 in her career. One of these days.

Your future mixed doubles duo at Wimbledon in 2038...

1. Tianjin Final - Caroline Garcia def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
The Pastry ties her head-to-head vs. Pliskova at three wins each, winning her third different Asian-based title ('17 Wuhan & Beijing) over the past two falls. Half of Garcia's six titles have come with straight sets final wins over players who've been ranked #1 ('14 Bogota vs. Jankovic, '17 Beijing vs. Halep).
2. Linz 2nd Rd. - Alison Van Uytvanck def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
AKS has had a resurgent '18 season, but she's not immune to still dropping the sort of come-from-ahead losses -- such as this one, when she easily swept through the 1st, then dropped back-to-back TB and didn't convert any of three MP -- that high(low?)-lighted her multi-season slump.
3. Hong Kong 1st Rd. - Ana Bogdan def. CAROLINE DOLEHIDE
Down 5-0 in the 1st to LL Dolehide, Bogdan nearly pulled out the win. But, have no fear, what goes around often comes around again. The Swarmette fell behind 5-1 in the 3rd, then stormed back to win six straight games, saving three MP in the process en route to the victory.

4. $15K Ashkelon QF - LINA GLUSHKO def. ANASTASIA PRIBYLOVA 6-2/6-3
$15K Ashkelon SF - ANNA PRIBLYLOVA def. LINA GLUSHKO 6-3/6-3
$15K Ashkelon ISR Final - ANASTASIA PRIBYLOVA/ANNA PRIBYLOVA def. Dorka Drahota-Szabo/Adrienn Naby 7-5/6-4
after losing to (and getting revenge against) Julia's sister Lina, the Pribs -- 22-year old Anastasia and 20-year old Anna -- grabbed their first WD title as a pair, and the first as a pro for the younger sister. Anna missed out on a title sweep, dropping the singles final to Israeli Maya Tahan.

5. $25K Obidos POR Final - MICHAELLA KRAJICEK/Ingrid Neel def. Cristina Bucsa/Diana Marcinkevica
The Dutch Painter wins ITF WD title #22 to go along with her 3 WTA singles, 5 WTA doubles and 14 ITF singles titles already picked up during her career. Just another chapter to the "Three Generations of Tennis" family story...


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Guangzhou - Wang Qiang, CHN
Beijing - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

Indian Wells - Naomi Osaka, JPN (20/#44)
Rosmalen - Aleksandra Krunic, SRB (25/#55)
Mallorca - Tatjana Maria, GER (30/#79)
Moscow MO - Olga Danilovic, SRB (17/#187)
Nanchang - Wang Qiang, CHN (26/#78)
San Jose - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (30/#24)
New Haven - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (20/#25)

3 = GER - Goerges,Kerber,Maria
3 = FRA - Cornet,GARCIA,Parmentier
3 = RUS - Gasparyan,Kuznetsova,Pavlyuchenkova
3 = UKR - Svitolina,Tsurenko.YASTREMSKA
2 = BEL - Mertens,Van Uytvanck
2 = CZE - Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova
2 = ROU - Buzarnescu,Halep
2 = SRB - Krunic,Danilovic

17 - Amanda Anisimova, USA (Hiroshima-L) - 17,2w
17 - Anastasia Potapova, RUS (Moscow MO-L) - 17,4m
17 - Anastasia Potapova, RUS (Tashkent-L) - 17,6m
17 - Olga Danilovic, SRB (Moscow MO-W) - 17,6m,1w
19 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Lugano-L) - 19,11m,1w

W - Tashkent - Margarita Gasparyan, RUS (24, #299)
RU - Gstaad - Mandy Minella, LUX (32, #226)
RU - Wimbledon - Serena Williams, USA (36, #181, #25 seed)
SF - Taipei City - Sabine Lisicki, GER (28, #246)

2 - Dasha Kasatkina (0-2)
2 - Anastasia Potapova (0-2)
1 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (1-0)
1 - Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-0)
1 - Margarita Gasparyan (1-0)
[WTA 125]
1 - Irina Khromacheva (1-0)
1 - Sofya Zhuk (0-1)

*2018 WTA CHAMPINOS - longest since last title*
9y,9m,1w = Pauline Parmentier [7/08 B.Gastein > 4/18 Istanbul]
6y = Hsieh Su-wei [9/12 Guang > 9/18 Hiroshima]
3y,4m = CAMILA GIORGI [6/15 Rosmalen > 10/18 LINZ]
3y,1m = Margarita Gasparyan [8/15 Baku > 9/18 Tashkent]

9...Demi Schuurs, NED (7-2)
6...Elise Mertens, BEL (4-2)
6...Barbora Strycova, CZE (3-3)
6...Andrea S.-Hlavackova, CZE (2-4)
5...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS (2-3)

71 - L.Chan/Peschke (28/43) = San Jose
68 - Rosolska/Spears(32/36) = Nottingham
67 - Klepac/Martinez Sanchez (32/35) = Mallorca
67 - Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik (30/37) = Charleston
67 - Atawo/Groenefeld (35/32) = Stuttgart
66 - Melichar/Peschke (24/42) = Prague

Raquel Atawo, USA - Stuttgart 2017-18
Kveta Peschke, CZE - Prague 2017-18
Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU - Bucharest 2017-18
Jiang/Tang, CHN/CHN - Nanchang 2017-18

*2018 WTA SF*
8 - Simona Halep, ROU (6-1+L)
6 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (5-1)
6 - WANG QIANG, CHN (3-3)
6 - Mihaela Buzarnescu, ROU (3-3)
6 - Anastasija Sevastova, LAT (3-3)
21 - USA
18 - ROU
17 - GER (Wk.41: Petkovic)
15 - CZE (Ka.Pliskova)
13 - CHN (Q.Wang,Sh.Zhang)
11 - RUS (Alexandrova)
#299 - Margarita Gasparyan/RUS (Tashkent) - W
#246 - Sabine Lisicki/GER (Taipei City)
#227 - Jessica Pegula/USA (Quebec City) - F
#226 - Mandy Minella/LUX (Gstaad) - F
#204 - Anastasia Potapova/RUS (Moscow MO) - F
#187 - Olga Danilovic/SRB (Moscow MO) - W
30 - Halep = 9/6/7/8
27 - Kerber = 8/11/3/5
27 - KA.PLISKOVA = 8/6/8/5
24 - Wozniacki = 7/4/8/5
23 - Svitolina = 6/7/6/4
20 - MUGURUZA = 5/3/7/5
20 - A.Radwanska = 8/9/2/1

2010 Dasha Gavrilova, RUS
2014 Xu Shilin, CHN
2018 Kaja Juvan, SLO
2010 Zheng Saisai, CHN
2014 Iryna Shymanovich, BLR
2018 Clara Burel, FRA
2010 Jana Cepelova,SVK
2014 Akvile Parazinskaite, LTU
2018 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, COL
2010 Timea Babos, HUN
2014 Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
2018 Wang Xinyu, CHN

Now we're getting somewhere...

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (Premier/Hard Court Indoor)
1996 Conchita Martinez d. Barbara Paulus
1997 Jana Novotna d. Ai Sugiyama
1998 Mary Pierce d. Monica Seles
1999 Nathalie Tauziat d. Barbara Schett
2000 Martina Hingis d. Anna Kournikova
2001 Jelena Dokic d. Elena Dementieva
2002 Magdalena Maleeva d. Lindsay Davenport
2003 Anastasia Myskina d. Amelie Mauresmo
2004 Anastasia Myskina d. Elena Dementieva
2005 Mary Pierce d. Francesca Schiavone
2006 Anna Chakvetadze d. Nadia Petrova
2007 Elena Dementieva d. Serena Williams
2008 Jelena Jankovic d. Vera Zvonareva
2009 Francesca Schiavone d. Olga Govortsova
2010 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Kirilenko
2011 Dominika Cibulkova d. Kaia Kanepi
2012 Caroline Wozniacki d. Samantha Stosur
2013 Simona Halep d. Samantha Stosur
2014 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. Irina-Camelia Begu
2015 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2016 Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Dasha Gavrilova
2017 Julia Goerges d. Dasha Kasatkina
1996 Medvedeva/Savchenko
1997 Sanchez/Zvereva
1998 Pierce/Zvereva
1999 Raymond/Stubbs
2000 Halard-Decugis/Sugiyama
2001 Hingis/Kournikova
2002 Dementieva/Husarova
2003 Petrova/Shaughnessy
2004 Myskina/Zvonareva
2005 Raymond/Stosur
2006 Peschke/Schiavone
2007 Black/Huber
2008 Petrova/Srebotnik
2009 Kirilenko/Petrova
2010 Dulko/Pennetta
2011 King/Shvedova
2012 Makarova/Vesnina
2013 Kuznetsova/Stosur
2014 Hingis/Pennetta
2015 Kasatkina/Vesnina
2016 Hlavackova/Hradecka
2017 Babos/Hlavackova
WS: #1 Halep, #2 Ka.Pliskova
WD: #1 Begu/Buzarnescu, #2 Atawo/Groenefeld

LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG (Int'l/Hard Court Indoor)
1996 Anke Huber d. Karina Habsudova
1997 Amanda Coetzer d. Barbara Paulus
1998 Mary Pierce d. Silvia Farina Elia
1999 Kim Clijsters d. Dominique Van Roost
2000 Jennifer Capriati d. Magdalena Maleeva
2001 Kim Clijsters d. Lisa Raymond
2002 Kim Clijsters d. Magdalena Maleeva
2003 Kim Clijsters d. Chanda Rubin
2004 Alicia Molik d. Dinara Safina
2005 Kim Clijsters d. Anna-Lena Groenefeld
2006 Alona Bondarenko d. Francesca Schiavone
2007 Ana Ivanovic d. Daniela Hantuchova
2008 Elena Dementieva d. Caroline Wozniacki
2009 Timea Bacsinszky d. Sabine Lisicki
2010 Roberta Vinci d. Julia Goerges
2011 Victoria Azarenka d. Monica Niculescu
2012 Venus Williams d. Monica Niculescu
2013 Caroline Wozniacki d. Annika Beck
2014 Annika Beck d. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova
2015 Misaki Doi d. Mona Barthel
2016 Monica Niculescu d. Petra Kvitova
2017 Carina Witthoeft d. Monica Puig
1996 Boogert/Tauziat
1997 Neiland/Sukova
1998 Likhovtseva/Sugiyama
1999 Spirlea/Vis
2000 Fusai/Tauziat
2001 Bovina/Hantuchova
2002 Clijsters/Husarova
2003 Sharapova/Tanasugarn
2004 Ruano Pascual/Suarez
2005 Raymond/Stosur
2006 Peschke/Schiavone
2007 Benesova/Husarova
2008 Cirstea/Erakovic
2009 Benesova/Zahlavova-Strycova
2010 Bacsinszky/Garbin
2011 Benesova/Zahlavova-Strycova
2012 Hlavackova/Hradecka
2013 Vogt/Wickmayer
2014 Bacsinszky/Barrois
2015 Barthel/Siegemund
2016 Bertens/Larsson
2017 Kerkhove/Marozava
WS: #1 Goerges, #2 Muguruza
WD: #1 L.Kichenok/Srebotnik, #2 Flipkens/Larsson

And, finally...

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Lots to get to, as we close out one or the more exciting seasons in recent times.

Has Aussie Kim found its counterpart in Austri Kiki?

Yastremska reminds me, both in look and style, of Anna C.

Minella needs home cooking. If she can win a couple of matches in Luxembourg, she will gain direct entry to the Australian Open.

YEC scenarios are simple. Bertens and Pliskova need to win multiple matches, and Svitolina needs help. Either way, one of the 3 will be the first alternate. The second one is up for grabs, as Sabalenka isn't playing this week. Mertens, Sevastova and Kasatkina have a chance to pass her.

Zhuhai is and isn't set. With Serena out, Ostapenko has the last spot, though her wrist makes her questionable. With Wang not playing, she has to hope for the WC, leaving Kontaveit and Suarez Navarro as the only ones with a chance to leap Alona.

Halep is my POY. And just in case things go wrong in Moscow, and I don't to any YEC related stuff about her, let me add this:
2018 Signature Halep Matches:

She may not have won them all, but she took on all comers. Faced everybody in the potential field this year, save Kvitova, who although she is 4-1 against, lost to in their last meeting 2 years ago in Wuhan, winning only 3 games. A YEC matchup seems fitting.

Stat of the Week-6- The number of times that a qualified woman has withdrawn from the YEC the last 11 years.

Obviously, the main question is if Simona will make it 7. Although it has happened 6 times, only 3 women have been involved. And I assume 2 are easy guesses. Serena(3), and Venus(2), anr the easy ones. The other is Sharapova , who did so in 2013.

Quiz Time!

Poland has been led by Radwanska for a long time. So much so that she has been the highest ranked player there at the end of the season since 2006. Who was the highest ranked in 2005?

A.Olga Brozda
B.Marta Domachowska
C.Joanna Sakowicz
D.Karolina Kosinska

Last regular season Up/Down Side coming up.


I was being charitable giving you choices, because one really wasn't needed. (B) Domachowska is the obvious answer, as she was ranked #60.

None of the other 3 were in the Top 200 that year, and none never made the Top 100. Brozda mever made a WTA md, but her claim to fame was beating Valeria Bondarenko(the older sister of Alona & Kateryna) for a doubles title back in 2004.

Kosinska only made one, but it holds some signifigance as she lost to Tamira Paszek in Potoroz, the event in which Paszek won as a 15 yr old.

Sakowicz at 138 acheived the highest ranking of the three, playing 4 WTA MD, mainly all Warsaw and Sopot.

Mon Oct 15, 09:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Up Side.

1.Kasatkina-The heavy favorite in need of a title. The progression is good. Guaranteed of a Top 20 finish, with Top 10 still possible. her red flag is that Bertens is in her section, possibly needing a win to reach Singapore.
2.Sevastova-The Junkwoman. The nickname needs work, but it is a takeoff of Randy Jones, the 1976 Cy Young Award winner called The Junkman. He threw so much of it, that in 315 innings, he struck out only 93, making him then, and still, the only Cy Young winner to have won over 20(22) games while striking out less than 100 batters. Like Jones, the key to Sevastova's junk is that her other rally shots are normal speed, making the dropoff much greater. Not only is Sevastova one of the favorites this week, she has the inside track at a Top 10 finish. If she wins Moscow and Zhuhai, that would guarantee it. And that obviously is doable, as Goerges did so last year. That is also why the 10 spot is up for grabs, as Goerges, in the 9 spot this week, drops to 10 without her Moscow points, but then 20 without Zhuhai. And by playing Luxembourg, she will have less points total even if she won both. So everybody down to Kontaveit at 21, except Barty, who isn't playing this week, still has a remote chance of a Top 10 finish.
3.Muguruza-Starting to have quality losses. If she brings her form from the last two weeks, she can win this. Looking like a Zhuhai favorite.
4.Linette-The reason for this weeks trivia question. Not playing this week, but the Polish woman is only 55 points behind Radwanska in the rankings. If she can pick up 56 points in ITF's before Zhuhai finishes, Radwanska's streak of top Polish player will end at 12.
5.Sasnovich-Don't love the draw, but feel obligated to pick another Russian or Russian adjacent to go deep. Needs a couple of wins to potentially lock in an AO seed.

Mon Oct 15, 10:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

5 On the Down Side.

1.Ostapenko- "On any given Sunday", "That's why we play the games". Statements made because you just don't hand out wins due to ranking. With that said, in no way should Ostapenko lose to #317. Last time she loss to someone below 200? Bellis, ranked 203 in July 2016. What about a loss to someone ranked lower than Kucova? The oddly relevant Alexandrova, ranked 350 back in July 2015.4-8 since reaching the Wimbledon SF, which is less impressive when you realize that one of thos wins was against Rybarikova. Unclear is she is playing Zhuhai, it might just be better to get the wrist looked at sooner than later.
2.Van Uytvanck-Ended her 7 match losing streak by beating Rybarikova. Not closing the season as strongly as her talent suggests, she may get back on track this week, as she will play doubles with her partner Greet Minnen.
3.Rybarikova- Since reaching the Birmingham final, she has gone 2-10. If you wonder how she could have beaten anybody in her current form, it should be noted that one of her two wins was against the similarly struggling Vandeweghe.
4.L.Chan- Oof, what happened. She's gone form being one of the most underrated to most overrated in one year. Injured, she hasn't played since the USO. After playing 78 matches last year, 15 of them after the USO, she has only played 41 this year, so few that even though she has only been out since August, and Vesnina since May, Vesnina is the higher ranked player.
5.HC Chan/Yang- If I am blasting Latisha for not having won since the USO, then I have to do the same for Hao-Ching, which is worse, as she has been playing. She is 0-5, and Yang is added because she has been the partner for all 5. Had they done anything down the stretch, they could have been the first(actually second) alternate for Singapore. But they sit as the third team out, 4th before Barty/Vandeweghe replaced Makarova/Vesnina, who actually would have been the 6th team in.

Mon Oct 15, 10:26:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Quiz: Yeah, Domachowska. I wasn't really even very familiar with the other two (though Sakowicz at least sounded a small bell). :\

Muguruza has seemed to find some form of late. If you're right that'd be an encouraging finish for a big comeback '19 season. If it happens, 2nd Rd. match vs. Yastremska this week should be interesting.

Mon Oct 15, 05:22:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Mid week YEC/Zhuhai update.

Even though Fissette only normally lasts a year, still surprised he split from Kerber.

YEC-With Pliskova's loss, Svitolina is in, and Bertens has to win her next two matches to bump Pliskova. One will be the alternate, and either Sabalenka or Sevastova, who passed Mertens will be the 2nd alternate.

*Even though I think Halep is just going to Singapore to pick up POY trophy, but not play*

Zhuhai-Minor changes here, although Halep, as well as potentially Keys(who may use this as a Fed Cup test or withdraw) and Barty(who had an arm injury in her last match and will be in Singapore for doubles), affect the final field. Kontaveit passes Ostapenko for the last official spot as of now, Ostapenko and Wang first two out, 3rd is Suarez Navarro, who still has a chance.

Wed Oct 17, 09:04:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

There's really no upshot, honestly, for Halep to do anything *but* pick up her year-end #1 trophy at the WTAF. She's got the ranking wrapped up, why risk anything physically? The injury is a big enough concern going forward as it is. In a(n almost) worse case scenario, it could end up crippling her '19 season anyway.

My, the coaching shuffles are getting a head start on the offseason this year, aren't they?

Fissette won't be player-less for long. Svitolina, Ostapenko... there are so many possible landing spots. And it'll probably be a good pairing for '19 success, however long it lasts.

Wed Oct 17, 12:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Wouldn't be at all surprised to see Angie go back to Torben Beltz

Wed Oct 17, 02:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

At this point in her career, especially, it would surely seem to be a right-headed option.

Wed Oct 17, 03:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Late week YEC/Zhuhai update- Halep is out, Bertens is in. Sevastova & Sabalenka are the alternates.

Zhuhai also clarified some things. Wang got the WC, plus Goerges, Muguruza & Keys confirmed. Keys had to, because she would have been ineligible for Nov. Fed Cup tie if she took fine and 0 pointer here.

This accounts for 4 of 12. Bertens is now ineligible, but Sevastova and Sabalenka are not, so that is 6. Mertens, Kasatkina, Garcia, Barty, Kontaveit, Ostapenko round out the potential field, with Suarez Navarro and Buzarnescu next in line.

Thu Oct 18, 04:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

8 On the Up Side-YEC/Todd was right edition.

From Week 41 2017
"1. Ugh, I went w/ Zvonareva. I wonder what the odds are that Svitolina might become the second with 2 YEC and no slam SF at the end of '18? Probably better than she'd wish to think. She can be expected to be consistent enough to rank high enough, but a semi is hardly a given."

Svitolina lived down to your statement, while the 3 newbies fit the normal criteria- Osaka-slam, Stephens-slam, Bertens-slam SF.

Halep's pullout means that 1998 is the last time that 4 current slam winners participated at the YEC-Davenport, Hingis, Novotna, Sanchez-Vicario.

2018 Points from events in which all 8 participated.

The 4 slams, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, and Beijing were the 9 used.

Kvitova's numbers are bad, Madrid not used as Kerber did not play. Shows that she fattened up on weaker fields.

Stephens is higher than Wozniacki without winning a slam.

V.Williams had the highest total last year and reached the final.

H2H notes.
Kvitova/Osaka is the only matchup between the 8 that hasn't happened. They would have to reach the weekend for it to happen here.

Kvitova has a positive h2h vs everybody in her group, as does Stephens in the other. Bertens has a negative h2h vs everyone in hers.

Stephens 1-0 vs Bertens, but they haven't played in 5 years.

Svitolina 8-5 vs Kerber, Svitolina won last 6.

Kvitova 8-5 vs Wozniacki, Kvitova won last 4, have met at least once a year since 2009.

Kvitova 7-1 vs Svitolina, won last 7.

Stephens 4-1 vs Kerber, all 5 matches have been in North America.

Svitolina 3-2 vs Osaka, as Svitolina won in Osaka.

Fri Oct 19, 10:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Listed are titles + this year's record vs Top 10.
1.Bertens-3 titles(10-5). Wozniacki had the most Top 10 wins last year and took the title. You normally have the Evert/Navratilova types that make it every year, or the Pierce/Kuznetsova types that are sporadic. Bertens goes in the Cibulkova group, as this might be her one and only time. Healthier than most, she could steal the title, after all, 3 non slam winners in a row(Radwanska, Cibulkova, Wozniacki) have won, why not make it 4?
2.Pliskova-2 titles(4-4). Last Top 10 woman standing at the last two majors, why not here. Indoors, there is a chance that she can finally get into a groove with her serve and dominate the week.
3.Kerber-2 titles(5-6). Does Kerber need the YEC title to lock in a Hall of Fame berth? More on that after Todd's next post, which I will put up doubles. A week ago, she was my favorite, but an ill timed split from Wim Fissette makes me wonder where her head will be at. Arguably, without Halep, this is the toughest out.
4.Wozniacki-3 titles(2-0). Not a typo, but almost a fluke that she has more titles than Top 10 wins. In fact, she hasn't played anybody in the Top 10 since Doha. The other thing that counts against her is history. Attempting to become the 9th woman to repeat, she would be the first since Serena(12-14), and Henin(2006-07). The difference is that she would be putting a twist on it. You see, Evert won in 1972-73 before she won a slam, as did Clijsters in 2002-03. The other 6 each won YEC and Slams in each year they won. Wozniacki would be the first to have won before winning a slam, then win the next season after winning one.
5.Osaka-2 titles(3-6). Has the talent to win, but seemed both mentally and physically tired recently. Has she had enough time off to recharge?
6.Stephens-1 title(4-4). The veritable wildcard. She literally has turned into the younger version of Serena. Shows up for the slams and Miami, and her footwork, or lack of it is a tell. Has a good setup as she has a positive h2h vs everybody except Wozniacki(1-6) who is in the other group.
7.Svitolina- 3 titles(3-3). Hasn't played a Top 10 match since Rome. Struggling so much that the only person she should be favored against is Kvitova, whom she is 1-7 against. The good thing is that she shouldn't have any pressure as she just squeezed into the field.
8.Kvitova-5 titles(7-1). Had played well vs the Top 10, but hasn't played one since Madrid. In fact, she only has 9 wins since winning Eastbourne, Svitolina has 10. Also has Fed Cup to think about, so if she loses her first match, it may be more of a tuneup than her trying to reach the weekend.

F-Bertens d Pliskova
SF-Bertens d Wozniacki
SF-Pliskova d Kerber

Fri Oct 19, 10:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Really hoping for a good coaching choice by Svitolina this offseason. Alona, too, of course.

I'm actually going to make picks this week, and some of what you said may have tipped me away from the player I was going to go with. Although, health and recent momentum might lead me down that garden path anyway. ;)

Where the last three non-slam winner WTAF champions were something of a surprise (Caro, though, not *quite* as much) the deck is so mixed up this year that a Bertens win wouldn't really be much of a surprise. To 2018... (raises glass).

Oh, and I have to embrace Wimbledon's new modified final set rule (at 12-12, things will go to a deciding TB in '19). On grass, specifically with the men, big serves just make for the most boring, drudgery the sport is capable of producing (see Anderson/Isner, which was finally the last straw).

Fri Oct 19, 06:11:00 PM EDT  

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