Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wk.45- The Joy of Six

It's never been a surprise when the Czechs have won a Fed Cup title. This year's run is no different.

For the sixth time in eight years, and the fourth time in the last five, the Maidens are the FC champions, extending their dynasty by dethroning the U.S. (though none of the Bannerettes on the roster for the final had a hand in carrying Kathy Rinaldi's charges into the winner's circle a year ago) via a 3-0 shutout in Prague that was far closer than the final scoreline would suggest. With the nation's two top-ranked players sidelined, a veteran Maiden in her final Fed Cup stint and a youngster assuming a lead role on the big stage for the first time (of many) led the way, both while being pushed to the limit by a teenager making her FC debut. The victory is the first over the U.S. by the Czechs in FC competition in thirty-three years.

What's the best thing about a Czech Fed Cup title celebration? Hmmm, maybe that they never show a hint of being jaded about their latest accomplishment because of their past success. While the circle dance and all the rest is nothing *we* haven't seen before, to those uninitiated to the Maidens' tennis history and their all-for-one strength as a *team*, it might appear that the latest championship is actually their first.

And maybe that's why it's anything *but* their first. Or their last.

FED CUP FINAL (PRAGUE, CZE) (Hard Court Indoor)
Czech Republic def. United States 3-0
LIMOGES, FRANCE (WTA 125 Series/Hard Court)
S: Ekaterina Alexandrova/RUS def. Evgeniya Rodina/RUS 6-2/6-2
D: Veronika Kudermetova/Galina Voskoboeva (RUS/RUS) d. Timea Bacsinszky/Vera Zvonareva (SUI/RUS) 7-5/6-4

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Katerina Siniakova/CZE
...Siniakova playing a big role in the Czech Fed Cup effort? Well, get used to it. Oh, pity poor Petr Pala... he's going to get *so* stressed out.

For her part, Siniakova was originally on the FC final roster as a back-up singles player and doubles "last line of defense." Then an injured Karolina Pliskova withdrew, allowing Siniakova's doubles partner Barbora Krejcikova to join the squad, seemingly further solidifying the 22-year old's "supporting" role in the tie. But when Petra Kvitova's illness took her off the available list, as well, Siniakova was shoved to the head of the line. Veteran Strycova got the #1 match slot, but that only meant that Siniakova would play back-to-back matches over Saturday and Sunday, and *still* might be called on by Captain Pala to play a deciding doubles match if the underdog Bannerettes managed to get two match wins. She held up well vs. Alison Riske, avoiding a 3rd set by winning a 7-2 2nd set tie-break to get a straight sets win.

Sunday's match #3 vs. Sonya Kenin was something else, though.

For 3:44, tying the Halep/Davis Australian Open marathon as the longest matches of '18, the two battled back and forth, taking leads and losing them, getting within a few points of a monumental game win, then often seeing it slip away and find themselves with *their* back against the wall soon afterward. After almost squandering her big 1st set advantage, Siniakova *did* blow a big lead in the 2nd and then was forced to save two MP in the 3rd (the first on a 25-shot rally) before eventually winning 7-5/5-7/7-5 on her own second MP. She's the third different Czech to clinch a FC title in singles (Kvitova four times, Ka.Pliskova once) in the event's current format during the nation's near decade run of dominance.

It goes without saying that the Czech dynasty can't persist forever on Petra and Pliskovas alone, as their unavailability this weekend showed, and with something of a dearth of top juniors at the moment (the top Czech girl is probably #136 Linda Noskova, who's still just 13 and a good ways away from reaching the tour) the future of the Maidens' Fed Cup will eventually rest on the Generation PDQ set of which Siniakova is currently the top-ranked (and most versatile, as she's co-#1 in doubles with Krejcikova). With the FC exit of Barbora Strycova and January retirement of Lucie Safarova, Siniakova's valuable abilities in both singles and doubles could make her the "switch-hitting" heart of the franchise as soon as 2019, and either she or Marketa Vondrousova (who jumped into the FC fray in '17) *should* be groomed for a long-time leadership role. It's possible, too, that U.S. Open (def. Yastremska and Muguruza) revelation Karolina Muchova will soon be called upon to see just what role she play have moving forward. And, of course, there's always the other half of the Pliskova twins, too... but one doubts Pala's nerves could survive having both Siniakova *and* Kristyna on the same team.

So, Siniakova, with all her rises and falls, spectacular and frustrating moments, nerves of steel and emotional inconsistencies (hmmm, maybe she's the *perfect* Strycova replacement?), will surely need to take her clutch (the pearls) performance this weekend to heart. She may be called upon to repeat it very soon.

RISER: Ekaterina Alexandrova/RUS
...while the Fed Cup final was populated with Czechs, the Limoges, France challenger was essentially overrun with Hordettes, with five reaching the QF, four (over)populating the semis, two (of course) facing off for the the title, and three Russian-born players competing in the doubles final. In the end, it was Alexandrova who was the last Russian standing in singles, as she won her second career WTA 125 Series crown (the other, also in Limoges, came two years ago).

The 23-year old hit a good stride this summer, reaching two $100K semis (on clay and grass) and another $100K final (clay). But she came into the fall on a six-match losing streak. Alexandrova has picked things up recent weeks, though, getting her first career Top 10 win in Seoul (Ostapenko), reaching the Linz final and now taking this week's title, getting wins over Olga Govortsova, Renata Voracova, Pauline Parmentier, Vera Zvonareva and Evgeniya Rodina in a straight sets final.
SURPRISE: Maia Lumsden/GBR
...another week, another good result from yet another young player from the U.K..

In this case, it's 20-year old Scot (Glasgow-born) Lumsden, who picked up her biggest career title in the $25K challenger in Shrewbury. After two qualifying wins, Lumsden post five more in the MD over the likes of Barbara Haas, Greet Minnen (3 sets) and Valeria Savinykh (3 sets) in the final.

VETERANS: Barbora Strycova/CZE, Evgeniya Rodina/RUS and Timea Bacsinszky/Vera Zvonareva (SUI/RUS) what she has decided will be her final Fed Cup tie, 32-year old Strycova put on one more vintage clutch performance for her country. Facing off with FC newcomer Sonya Kenin in the opening match, she overcame a nervous start and dropping the opening set to the teenager to ultimately win in three, erasing her previous 0-4 mark in FC contests in which she lost the 1st set. Had she dropped the match, far greater pressure would have been shifted onto the shoulders of Katerina Siniakova, who was taken to a 2nd set tie-break in her opening match with Alison Riske and was forced to save two MP vs. Sonya Kenin on Sunday.

But, hey, thanks to Beezus, the first step proved to be both the truest, and (maybe) most important. And off she goes into the Fed Cup night.

In Limoges, #88-ranked Russian Rodina was the runner-up in the week's WTA 125 Series event, matching her biggest career final (she won a 125 title in Taipei in '16). The 29-year old, who became a mom in 2012 before it was "WTA chic," earlier this year qualified and reached the Wimbledon Round of 16 (def. Madison keys in the 3rd Rd.), a slam first in her career, before losing to the tour's most famous mother, Serena Williams. This week she posted wins over the likes of non-mothers Ana Bogdan and Margarita Gasparyan (who retired in the SF), and will match her career high (#74) in the rankings on Monday.

Also in Limoges, while they didn't walk away with a title, both Bacsinszky and Zvonareva continued their late season surges. A week after winning a $25K title, her first singles crown since her comeback from wrist surgery, Bacsinszky upset #2-seed Alize Cornet in the opening round, then lost to Zvonareva, who took the proverbial baton and reached the semis (the all-Hordette semis, that is) with an additional win over Tatjana Maria. A Moscow River Cup WD champ, U.S. Open qualifier and Kremlin Cup quarterfinalist in recent months, the 34-yea old lost to countrywoman and eventual champ Ekaterina Alexandrova, but will climb eleven spots to #112, edging ever so closer to her first Top 100 ranking since 2013. After wrapping up their respective singles runs, Bacsinszky & Zvonareva, who won a title in Saint Petersburg earlier this season, reached the doubles final without dropping a set. They lost to Veronika Kudermetova (a Russian) & Galina Voskoboeva (a Russian-born Kazakh).

Meanwhile, raise a (insert appropriate beverage choice) to Timea for this...

COMEBACK: Margarita Gasparyan/RUS
...take a bow, Margarita.

The 24-year old Russian, who finally fully returned to the courts this spring following three knee surgeries, has spent the last six months working. And then working some more. And after that, she's worked still more. A journey that began in May with a $25K semifinal when she was ranked in the #1100's, after fifteen events, on Monday will see her back in the Top 100 (#92) for the first time in over two years. This past week, after knocking off Limoges 125 Series defending champ Monica Niculescu (assuring her Top 100 return) and countrywoman Anna Blinkova to reach the SF, she was forced to retire three games into her match with another Russian, Evgeniya Rodina. The finish adds another good result to a run since September that has produced, in order, a tour-level title in Tashkent, followed by QF in Linz and Luxembourg, then Series 125 semis in Mumbai and Limoges the last two weeks.
FRESH FACE: Sonya Kenin/USA's hard to think of too many *better* 0-2 performances in recent Fed Cup ties than the one put on by Kenin in Prague. The #52-ranked 19-year old, making her debut for Team USA, was suddenly thrust into a front bench singles position due to the absence of higher-ranked big-name stars, and then was chosen to take *the* lead over #36 Danielle Collins (also making her FC debut) this weekend.

If one was looking closely, it wasn't a shock that Captain Kathy Rinaldi would rely on her (that she went with Alison Riske on the ultra-important Day 1 rather than Collins, who was preparing to take the court for match #4 had it been played, was more of a "Hmmm..." decision). Her role with the USTA has given her an up-close look at the teenager for years, and as she watched from the stands at Flushing Meadows at this summer's U.S. Open as Kenin nearly upset Karolina Pliskova it was pretty clear she liked the cut of her competitive jib, and her motherly pats on her head in the changeover area during this tie's breaks speak to just the sort of thing that has helped Rinaldi develop such a close relationship with her two U.S. teams in contrast to the oft-awkward rosters, personal dynamics and visuals during the Mary Joe Fernandez years.

In all, Kenin spent six and a half hours on the court in her two matches, rallying from 3-1 down in two of three sets vs. Barbora Strycova in match #1, only to lose in three, then then engaging in a game of momentum chicken against Katerina Siniakova in match #3, recovering from 7-5/3-0 down while playing with an injured thigh, then 3-0 in the 3rd (with the Czech holding a GP for a 5-2 lead) to find herself serving at 5-4, 40/15 with two MP to extend the tie to a fourth singles match.

Problem is, in the end, Kenin continued to show that she's nearly perfected the art of (barely) losing big matches on big stages to big-time Czech stars. With the match in the balance, Kenin saw Siniakova break for 5-5, recover from love/40 to hold for 6-5 and save a GP in game #12, then win the match on her own second MP in the season's last and longest (3:44) match. While the Czechs celebrated, the entire U.S. team surrounded the crushed Kenin, comforting the sobbing Bannerette who was the youthful heart and soul of this particular underdog unit.

She didn't post a win, but chalk this up as another learning experience for Kenin. Just as her U.S. Open defeat by idol Maria Sharapova last year was her better-than-anticipated introduction to the big stage, and her U.S. Open loss this summer to Pliskova proved that she could very well thrive there, this weekend showed she has no quit in her, even if she's not quite yet ready to win these sort of matches. A little more work (especially, say, on her ability to respond to balls in the fore court, as she squandered a number of opportunities on Sunday after having reached a ball, only to usually push her shot beyond the baseline) and she'll start winning these type of matches. A lot of them.

In stark contrast to the classless fans after the U.S. Open final, the Czechs *knew* the proper response to Kenin's heart and guile. Good for them.

DOWN: Team Simona sort of dropped from the sky without warning on Friday, but the great four-year partnership between world #1 Simona Halep and coach Darren Cahill has come to an end. Well, at least temporarily. The Aussie announced a 12-month "coaching hiatus" to spend more time with his family as his kids approach a few milestones in 2019. What happens after that is unknown.

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I would like to announce that Simona and I will not be continuing our partnership in 2019 purely for family reasons on my part. . After much thought and discussion, and many years with 30 plus weeks on the road away from my family, I’ve decided to take a 12 month break from coaching to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives with the final year of high school, sports and college preparations all becoming more time consuming. . I’d like to thank Simona for the last 4 amazing years. Her understanding, personality, work ethic, generosity and professionalism made it a pleasure to stand by her side as her coach. She’s a young woman of total class and someone I respect greatly which is something more important than any result achieved. . Basically, I had the dream job and I want to thank her for making it that way, and the opportunity to work with someone so talented and dedicated. . I wish Simo and her team nothing but continued success and I look forward to supporting her from the sidelines next year. . A special mention to Theo Cercel, Andrei Cristofor and Virginia Ruzici for all of the support, belief, friendship and great work through the years. . And finally, to the Romanian fans that show unwavering passion and support for their girl. You guys rock, seriously. Thanks for adopting this Aussie as one of your own for the last 4 years and making me feel welcome in your country. Mul?umesc ?? . I will continue to work with the ESPN team at the AO, Wimbledon & US Open tournaments in 2019. . Cheers, Darren

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It's been no secret that the combination has been super effective for Halep, as she's learned from Cahill to loosen up, not be as negative as she naturally tends to be on the court, and bulk up on confidence. The teamwork finally produced a slam title in Paris last spring, as well as back-to-back #1 campaigns, but Halep will have to find a new normal without the daily prompt from Cahill next season. I guess we'll see how well his teachings have stuck to her bones and psyche, as well as whether or not the Romanian will seek out a temporary or more full-time coach to fill the void.

If she chooses to seek a big-name addition to the team, she'll be included in the (still) growing mix of top players seeking similar new working relationships. A few of the new combinations/additions/job titles...

Victoria Azarenka: Wim Fissette (redux)
Belinda Bencic: ???
Kiki Bertens: added Elise Tamaela (Raemon Sluiter still #1 coach)
Genie Bouchard: Michael Joyce
Simona Halep: ???
Angelique Kerber: ???
Johanna Konta: Dimitry Zavialoff
Elise Mertens: David Taylor
Karolina Pliskova: Rennae Stubbs (w/ Conchita Martinez)
Maria Sakkari: Mark Petchey
Sam Stosur: ???
Elina Svitolina: Andrew Bettles (promoted to full-time)

ITF PLAYERS: Ivana Jorovic/SRB and Belinda Bencic/SUI 2018's thirteenth of fourteen ITF $100K challengers (the last comes in Dubai in December), 21-year old Serb Jorovic took home the biggest title of her career with a run in Shenzhen. After winning a 3rd set TB against Danka Kovinic in the semis, the unseeded Jorovic outlasted #1 seed Zheng Saisai in the 6–3/2–6/6–4 final. Zheng hadn't lost a set en route to the final, and was seeking her second $100K title in recent weeks at the end of a season that saw her reach a tour-level final in Nanchang, go 1-1 in WTA 125 finals and claim an additional $50K crown.

Jorovic, the '14 RG junior runner-up (to Dasha Kasatkina) who made her slam debut at his year's AO, will jump *fifty* spots in the new rankings, climbing to #135, just one off her career high.

At the latest stop on the USTA's AO Wild Card Playoff competition (one more remains in Houston in next week WTA 125 event), the $80K Las Vegas crown wasn't won by a Bannerette, but by Swiss Belinda Bencic, who grabbed her first singles title of '18 after seemingly hording them by taking an armful of challenger crowns last fall after missing most of the season due to injury. The recent tour-level Luxembourg finalist, Bencic dropped just one set this week (to Czech Marie Bouzkova) while notching additional wins over Jasmine Paolini, Naomi Broady, Kurumi Nara and Nicole Gibbs in the final. Bencic still has points from a pair of '17 titles set to come off her ranking totals: next week's WTA 125 in Taipei and the final $100K challenger of the year in Dubai in mid-December.

Going into the week, recent title winners Varvara Lepchenko and Whitney Osuigwe were tied atop the USTA's Playoff standings with 125 points each, with Danielle Lao third with 63. Gibbs, who had 2 points, will climb closer in the standings, while Lao will add to her total with her QF result in Las Vegas this week. Lepchenko lost in the 1st Round. Lepchenko, Osuigwe and Gibbs are all in the MD in Houston. Lao is not.
JUNIOR STARS: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL, Caty McNally/USA and Lulu Sun/SUI
...Osorio Serrano, 16, began the season in top form, and she's finishing it in quite similar fashion. The Colombian's three most recent junior events saw her reach the U.S. Open semis, win two Youth Olympic Games medals (singles Bronze and mixed Silver, as well as a 4th place finish in doubles) and reach the Junior Masters final. This week, in her Cucuta hometown, the #4-ranked junior won her maiden pro crown in the $15K challenger without dropping a set, defeating fellow Colombian Yuliana Lizarazo 6-3/7-6(2) in the final. A year ago, at 15, she's reached the semis in the same event.

In Lawrence, Kansas it was McNally (jr. #9) picking up her first pro title in the hard court $15K challenger. The 16-year old has been a big event junior star in '18, taking her place as a Roland Garros girls finalist on clay and Roehampton grass court singles runner-up (and doubles champ, with Whitney Osuigwe), as well as RG GD champion (w/ Iga Swiatek), Wimbledon finalist (w/ Osuigwe) and U.S. Open champ (w/ Coco Gauff). McNally upset Bianca Andreescu in the QF in Lawrence, and finished off her week with a 6-2/6-2 win over fellow Bannerette Catherine Harrison (ex-UCLA) in the final.

Meanwhile, 17-year old Swiss Sun (jr. #34) won the Grade 2 Inka Bowl in Lima, Peru without dropping a set, defeating three seeds and finishing up with a victory of Ukrainian Viktoriya Petrenko in the final. It's Sun's first singles title of '18, after her previous best results had been semifinals in a pair of junior (G1 Nanjing in July) and pro ($25K Obidos in June) events. The New Zealand-born Sun gained headlines earlier this season when she briefly played under the Kiwi flag during the Wimbledon junior competition, a move apparently precipitated as much by her goal of becoming eligible for last month's Youth Olympic Games as any long-held desire to play for her birth nation. Swiss passport issues had put her ability to play for Switzerland in question, though her NZL representation move appeared to come too late to allow her to pull off a "technicality dipsy-do." As turned out, Sun ended up playing in the YOG for SUI, losing in the 1st Round in singles and reaching the Bronze Medal Match in mixed.

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Hey..look at that I have a normal face ????

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DOUBLES: Veronika Kudermetova/Galina Voskoboeva (RUS/KAZ)
...Kudermetova has become the queen of the 125 Series doubles, winning her second straight title this weekend in Limoges, and an all-time best fourth in her career. The 21-year old Russian, a week after winning in Mumbai with Natela Dzalemidze, took the crown with veteran Moscow-born Kazakh Voskoboeva, 33, by her side. The #3 seeds, the duo knocked off #1 Buzarnescu/Niculescu in a 10-4 match TB in the semis, then #2 Bacsinszky/Zvonareva by a 7-5/6-4 score in the final. Voskoboeva, a five-time tour-level champion (the last came in '14) had previously lost in the Moscow River Cup final (w/ Alexandra Panova) this season to Potapova/Zvonareva.

WHEELCHAIR: Giulia Capocci/ITA
...the 26-year old Italian (WC #6) swept the titles at the Bath Indoors Series 1 event in England. With wins over Dana Mathewson (QF), Marjolein Buis (SF) and Kgothsatso Montajne in a 6-3/6-2 final, Capocci claimed the singles, and she teamed with France's Charlotte Famin to win the doubles crown, defeating Buis & Katharina Kruger in the final.


And what did *you* do during the offseason? Said Vania King, "Well..."

Fewer players have more to "prove" (all over again) in '19 than Vandeweghe. She on her way..

1. Fed Cup #3 - Katerina Siniakova def. Sonya Kenin
Oh, 2018... you little devil.

Naturally, the official '18 season would end with a FC-clinching, 3:44 drama that saw a new generation Maiden and a new Generation Bannerette face off in a back-and-forth affair with as many swings of emotion and momentum as rackets. With the Czechs up 2-0 after Day 1, there was no wiggle room for the defending champion U.S. squad. It was do or see their title defense die in Prague. For a bit, it looked as if the latter would happen in short order. Siniakova took a 5-3 1st set lead, but held off the late surge of Kenin, who got within two points of forcing a TB. The Czech broke to win the set 7-5.

Up 3-0 in the 2nd, and holding two BP for 4-0 at 15/40 on Kenin's serve, Siniakova lost her place in the battle. The Bannerette held and broke back a game later. Two games later, she broke the Czech from 30/love and took a 4-3 lead. Siniakova pushed back, breaking Kenin from 30/love, only to see Kenin soon respond by breaking *her* at love to lead 6-5. She then sent things to a 3rd set, serving out the 2nd by converting on her fourth SP opportunity.

Siniakova led 3-0 again in the 3rd, and saved five BP in a 19-minute hold to take a 4-1 lead. She had a GP for 5-2, but again Kenin, even while battling a thigh injury, had only begun to fight. She got the break to pull the match back from the edge and won three more games in a role. Serving up 5-4, 40/15 she held two MP to send the tie to a fourth singles match (Danielle Collins had already been tapped to finally join the fray after being held back on Day 1). But Siniakova had a final act of her own. She saved the first MP on a 25-shot rally, and got the break to keep the Czechs' hopes of a sweep alive. She held from love/40 down to take a 6-5 lead. Kenin had a GP in game #12, but couldn't get the set back to even. She saved a MP, but after retrieving a ball in the forecourt only to fire it beyond the baseline, Siniakova had a second chance. A wide Kenin forehand ended it, and the Czechs were champions. Again.

Siniakova was the Maidens' new Fed Cup star. Kenin, with the distinctive twinkle of perhaps one day being a star in her own right, was left to live with what she *didn't* get done in this match, even while everyone else was looking at her, smiling and saying, "Look what you did!" It's good that she wants more. It means she won't stop striving to attain it.

The Czechs? Well, they *already* have it all. They just rented it out for a while in 2017.

2. Fed Cup #1 - Barbora Strycova def. Sonya Kenin
Separated by thirteen years and a load of FC experience, Kenin fell behind 3-1 in all three sets. She battled back to win the 1st in a TB, and had two BP chances in game #2 of the 2nd. But the Czech vet seized control, knotting the match and taking a 4-1 lead in the 3rd before the 19-year old got back into the set with back-to-back love breaks. Strycova managed to stay a step ahead of Kenin's wave, serving out the match and ending it all with serve-and-volley tactics on MP.

3. WTA 125 Limoges Final - Ekaterina Alexandrova def. Evgeniya Rodina
The first all-Russian WTA 125 Series final in the (so far) 40-tourament history of the series since 2012. There have been twenty-nine on the WTA tour, with the most recent being Margarita Gasparyan's win in Tashkent over Anastasia Potapova.
HM- $15K Monastir TUN Final - Mia Eklund/Bojana Marinkovic def. Tamara Curovic/Eliessa Vanlangendonck
A week after Vanlangendonck finally claimed her first pro title in another $15K Monastir challenger doubles event, she reached another final. Back-to-back didn't happen, though, as the 21-year old Belgian Waffle falls to 1-6 in pro doubles finals (1-5 in '18). She reached the QF in singles, so she didn't get a chance to improve on her 0-9 singles SF mark (0-4 in '18).

All right, after putting it off all year, it's almost time to have to begin to understand all this...


- In 2019, players will only earn WTA ranking points at the $25,000 level and above.
- Players will earn ITF World Tennis Ranking points at $15,000 tournaments, which will form a player’s ITF World Tennis Ranking.

Many players, especially those currently outside the ATP/WTA Top 300 will have both an ATP/WTA ranking in 2019 as well as an ITF World Tennis Ranking."

I guess it'll make total sense in 2019. So, I'll think about it all then.

1. $15K Cucuta COL Final - MARIA PAULINA PEREZ/PAULA ANDREA PEREZ def. Ana Maria Becerra/Daniela Carrillo
A week after the Kichenok sisters took the Elite Trophy crown in Zhuhai, the 22-year old Perez twins won career ITF title #4 as a duo back home in Colombia.

2. $25K Shrewsbury ENG Final - Sarah Beth Grey/Olivia Nichols def. TAYISIYA MORDERGER/YANA MORDERGER
...0-6/6-3 [10-4].
The German Morderger sisters weren't able to follow them into the winner's circle, though, falling to the British pair on English soil (well, on an indoor hard court in an arena building constructed upon British soil, at least).


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Desert ??????

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Wim Fissette's future location has been revealed due to his present location...

Translated interview

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Dad ????

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100% recovery

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1963 United States def. Australia 2-1
1964 Australia def. United States 2-1
1965 Australia def. United States 2-1
1966 United States def. West Germany 3-0
1967 United States def. Great Britain 2-0
1968 Australia def. Netherlands 3-0
1969 United States def. Australia 2-1
1970 Australia def. West Germany 3-0
1971 Australia def. Great Britain 3-0
1972 South Africa def. Great Britain 2-1
1973 Australia def. South Africa 3-0
1974 Australia def. United States 2-1
1975 Czechoslovakia def. Australia 3-0
1976 United States def. Australia 2-1
1977 United States def. Australia 2-1
1978 United States def. Australia 2-1
1979 United States def. Australia 3-0
1980 United States def. Australia 3-0
1981 United States def. Great Britain 3-0
1982 United States def. West Germany 3-0
1983 Czechoslovakia def. West Germany 2-1
1984 Czechoslovakia def. Australia 2-1
1985 Czechoslovakia def. United States 2-1
1986 United States def. Czechoslovakia 3-0
1987 West Germany def. United States 2-1
1988 Czechoslovakia def. USSR 2-1
1989 United States def. Spain 3-0
1990 United States def. USSR 2-1
1991 Spain def. United States 2-1
1992 Germany def. Spain 2-1
1993 Spain def. Australia 3-0
1994 Spain def. United States 3-0
1995 Spain def. United States 3-2
1996 United States def. Spain 5-0
1997 France def. Netherlands 4-1
1998 Spain def. Switzerland 3-2
1999 United States def. Russia 4-1
2000 United States def. Spain 5-0
2001 Belgium def. Russia 2-1
2002 Slovak Republic def. Spain 3-1
2003 France def. United States 4-1
2004 Russia def. France 3-2
2005 Russia def. France 3-2
2006 Italy def. Belgium 3-2
2007 Russia def. Italy 4-0
2008 Russia def. Spain 4-0
2009 Italy def. United States 4-0
2010 Italy def. United States 3-1
2011 Czech Republic def. Russia 3-2
2012 Czech Republic def. Serbia 3-1
2013 Italy def. Russia 4-0
2014 Czech Republic def. Germany 3-1
2015 Czech Republic def. Russia 3-2
2016 Czech Republic def. France 3-2
2017 United States def. Belarus 3-2
2018 Czech Republic def. United States 3-0

18 - United States
11 - Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia
7 - Australia
5 - Spain
4 - Italy
4 - Russia
2 - France
2 - Germay/West Germany
1 - Belgium
1 - Slovakia
1 - South Africa

2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2016 Caroline Garcia, FRA*
2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
2018 Petra Kvitova, CZE
*-non-championship team member

2015 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA*
2016 Paul Haarhuis, NED*
2017 Kathy Rinaldi, USA
2018 Kathy Rinaldi, USA*
*-non-championship team captain

2005 Elena Dementieva, RUS
2006 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2012 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2013 Roberta Vinci, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2015 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2016 Barbora Strycova, CZE
2017 CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
2018 Katerina Siniakova, CZE

2002 Janette Husarova, SVK
2003 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2007 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2008 Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2009 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2010 Flavia Pennetta, ITA
2012 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2013 Sara Errani, ITA
2014 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2018 Katerina Siniakova, CZE

3:44 - AUstralian Open 3rd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Lauren Davis
3:36 - Strasbourg Final - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Dominika Cibulkova

Newport Beach - Danielle Collins, USA (23/#162)
Zhengzhou - Zheng Saisai, CHN (24/#139)
Anning - Irina Khromacheva, RUS (22/#210)
Bol - Tamara Zidansek, SLO (20/#122
Chicago - Petra Martic, CRO (27/#47)
Mumbai - Luksika Kumkhum, THA (25/#103)

2 - Belinda Bencic, SUI (2017)
2 - Zhang Shuai, CHN (2013,17)
2 - Zheng Saisai, CHN (2015,18)
4 - Wang Yafan, CHN
3 - Chuang Chia-Jung, TPE

*2018 $100K CHAMPIONS*
Midland, USA (hci) - Madison Brengle/USA
Khimki, RUS (hci) - Vera Lapko/BLR
Cagnes-sur-Mer, FRA (rco) - Rebecca Peterson/SWE
Trnava, SVK (rco) - Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
Surbiton, ENG (gr) - Alison Riske/USA
Manchester, ENG (gr) - Ons Jabeur/TUN
Ilkley, ENG (gr) - Tereza Smitkova/CZE
Southsea, ENG (gr) - Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
Contrexeville, FRA (rco) - Stefanie Voegele/SUI
Budapest, HUN (rco) - Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK (2)
Vancouver, CAN (hco) - Misaki Doi/JPN
Suzhou, CHN (hco) - Zheng Saisai/CHN
Dubai, UAE (hco) - [December]

...though I won't be handing out awards for the final two 125 events on the calendar. So immediately after you finish this you might want to leave for a few hours... the second we close up, they use this place to shoot porn. #TheGoodPlace

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (WTA 125/Hard Court Indoor)
2012 Kristina Mladenovic d. Chang Kai-chen
2013 Alison Van Uytvanck d. Yanina Wickmayer
2014 Vitalia Diatchenko d. Chan Yung-jan
2015 Timea Babos d. Misaki Doi
2016 Evgeniya Rodina d. Chang Kai-chen
2017 Belinda Bencic d. Arantxa Rus
2012 Chan Hao-ching/Kristina Mladenovic
2013 Caroline Garcia/Yaroslava Shvedova
2014 Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan
2015 Kanae Hisami/Kotomi Takahata
2016 Natela Dzalamidze/Veronika Kudermetova
2017 Veronika Kudermetova/Aryna Sabalenka
WS: #1 Zheng Saisai, #2 Kumkhum

HOUSTON, TEXAS USA (WTA 125/Hard Court Outdoor)
=new event=
WS: #1 Bencic, #2 Niculescu

And, finally...

NEW NOW: Rankings Round-Up
COMING SOON: 2018 WTA Year in Review
LATER:: WTA Yearbook and the initial "Decade's Best (2010-19)" Players of the Decade nomination list

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Had I known Safarova was going to be on the Czech bench.... I kid, but her retirement, Strycova's from Fed Cup, she is a year older than Lucie, so I souldn't be surprised, and the O2 crowd made this an almost impossible task.

With that said, the US had their chances. Up a set in match #1, up a break in the 2nd set of match #2, and holding match points in match #3. Riske was the turning point though. If she levels the tie at 1, then there is more pressure to dress Kvitova. And had Kenin won on Sunday, both Strycova and Siniakova would have compromised for the later matches.

The losing side has had a player take the next step the last couple of years. I don't think that Kenin's will be as dramatic as 2016 Bertens or 2017 Sabalenka, but this feels like Vinci the year she finally got to play singles after being backup to Schiavone/Pennetta. She lost, but kept it close. The probable Heart Award winner for this round will have a good 2019.

Going dark here. Saw the Cahill/Halep split and have a take that I haven't seen online yet. Like Sharapova and Azarenka, but not Serena when she took a break, they let their coaches go. My take is that this means that Simona won't be read for the start of the season. I would gladly be wrong, but as the #1 player, she can get almost anybody. If she gets a coach in the next two weeks, I am probably wrong. But the longer she goes without one, that becomes a bigger red flag by the day.

The twist of her ending her career at the Australian Open is that is isn't directly in the draw. That wont be official for another 3 weeks, but she sits at 106 with 125K's still being played. With the AO going to 16 qualifiers plus 8 WC, that is 24. Project 4 SR/PR and that is 28, which leaves her approx. 6 out.

So will she play qualies, or get a WC? AO has reciprocal with France and US, so that takes 2. Aussies normally give one to playoff winner, plus runner up, so 4 down. Plus Asia Pacific playoff winner. 3 left, and it probably stays that way as Liang En-Shou probably gets WC for qualies.

Speaking of the race to AO, 125K offers 160 pts for winner, 95 for final and 57 for SF. So everybody between 100(Boulter), and 128(Dolehide) has a chance to play their way in. Gasparyan did last week, and Zvonareva is in striking distance.

The person in trouble? Niculescu. She dropped to 102, and pulled out of Chicago, which now has 4 LL.

Mon Nov 12, 06:43:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Stat of the Week-16-Year end ranking drop for Garbine Muguruza, the 6th biggest drop for #2 since the computer rankings started in 1975.

The similarity between 2017 Kerber and 2018 Muguruza was too much to take. Similar to Kerber, Muguruza didn't have any injuries to blame it on. So why not take a look at some of the other drops to find some context. Listed will be the year they were #2, then ranking the next season.


Now for the context-Goolagong became pregnant in 1976,and had no ranking as she took 13 months off. So when she won the Australian Open in 1977, it was the second one played that year, and those ranking points went toward the 1978 season, hence how she has no ranking in a year in which she won a slam.

Safina actually played 16 events in 2010, but only 9 more the rest of her career. Azarenka only played 9 in 2014, and Clijsters even less with 6 in 2004. That leaves pregnancy break Serena, who played 2 events last year.

Muguruza played 22 events this year. 1 Win, 1 RU, 4 SF, 1 QF. QF or better in only 7 events. For an elite player, this isn't good enough. But this also may be the new normal. Between 1975-2000, Goolagong was the only #2 not to end the year in the Top 5 the next year. From 2001-2017 it happened 9 times. In fact, every time it has happened is on the above list.

Quiz Time!
Lucie Safarova played her first slam main draw at the French in 2005. She played 53 of a possible 55 slams. In that time period, which player played more?

A.Alize Cornet
B.Samantha Stosur
C.Jelena Jankovic
D.Francesca Schiavone
E.Svetlana Kuznetsova

Interlude-It may be way down the road, but getting the feeling that Lisa Raymond is being groomed for Fed Cup Captain.


(A)Cornet is wrong, as she has only played in 51 during this time, but has the longest current streak at 48.

(B)Stosur is wrong as she is at 52. Missed one due to Lyme Disease, and two to her broken hand, and one we may be doing this about this time next year.

(D)Schiavone came into the year one up on Lucie, but her infamous qualies at the AO a couple of years back, combined with missing the last two this year also leaves her at 52.

You may be wondering why (C)Jankovic is on this. Well Serena and Maria were both at 46, and were not viable options. Venus was more of one. Even with Sjogren's, she has answered the bell 51 of the last 55 times. So has Jankovic. She actually had entered 56 consecutive slams, and was two up on Lucie, but taking 2018 off means she is 2 behind, leaving her at 51.

That leaves (E)Kuznetsova, but this was a trick question, as she also ends up at 52. The former French Open winner has played that event 16 years in a row, but missed each of the others once. So the supposedly always ill Lucie managed to play more than any other during the last 14 slam seasons.

Mon Nov 12, 07:24:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, very interesting take on Halep at the start of the year. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right that her situation with her back may very well compromise the first half of her season (or more), perhaps opening the door for Cahill and making the decision, if he'd been hesitant, an easier one.

It *will* be interesting to see as we get close to January and whether she's going to even be up for making the trip Down Under at all. A back injury is just not something to mess with or push on any level.

I think Safarova said something this weekend about her AO situation and how she might have to play qualifying. She seemed fully up for doing it, so I guess she'll just take it as it comes.

Muguruza might be the most fascinating case for a top player in 2019. As I've been poking a stick at the last month or two, her career pattern (barring injury) says she'll have a GREAT season next year. Should be interesting.

Quiz: went with Schiavone because I remember she nearly had that record-breaking streak but didn't get an AO wild card in '16 and it ultimately ended. Shows how much of a trooper Safarova has always been. It was so unlucky that she first started to be hit with all her viral illness issues right as her singles career was starting to take a big step with a SF at Wimbledon in '14 and RG Final in '15. Another "What If...?" :\

Sort of had the same feeling seeing Raymond on the sidelines this weekend. Of course, she would have been a good Captain choice, too. Though I think it's played out that Rinaldi was the right woman at the right time. Her closeness to so many of the current young players thanks to the USTA developmental program would seem to put her in the perfect position for a long run as Captain, unless she ultimately decides to go back to her former position at some point.

I gave her the FC Captain of the Year award again (actually, it's almost always gone to a non-championship nation Capt., so...), though I know it almost feels like a slight to Pala, who I've never given it to. I guess it's sort of like Belichick always being overlooked as Coach of the Year... success is too *expected*.

Mon Nov 12, 01:32:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Agree about Mugu, but I’m more optimistic about her season IF she gets a new coach.

Halep may indeed have to sit out the early oart of the season; I wouldn’t be surprised.

Mon Nov 12, 05:43:00 PM EST  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

AGA ends her carreer - she'll be missed

Wed Nov 14, 11:00:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Awwl, too bad... though I guess it was almost inevitable. :(

Wed Nov 14, 11:30:00 AM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

Now I have to go down the Youtube rabbit hole watching Radwanska clips.

It does mean that Vandeweghe and Safarova are one step closer to AO main draw.

And one question for the group. Kerber just got a new coach. But since sports always copies the successful teams/players, should we be surprised that very few copied the hitting partner to coach aka Bajin/Osaka this offseason?

Wed Nov 14, 11:47:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Although, of course, Sascha's title of "hitting partner" with Serena and Vika was a bit of an understatement, as he was pretty much an "assistant coach." Not sure how many current hitting partners have quite as big a role in the team dynamic as he did.

Wed Nov 14, 01:01:00 PM EST  

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