Sunday, April 14, 2019

Wk.15- Amanda-rama Does Bogota

And the hits keep on coming. On a cruelty-free spring weekend, it was time for another significant achievement flagged for immediate inclusion in the ever-more-impressive "Amanda-rama" oeuvre... well as an early nominee for the Best Trophy of 2019.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (Int'l/Red Clay Outdoor)
S: Amanda Anisimova/USA def. Astra Sharma/AUS 4-6/6-4/6-1
D: Astra Sharma/Zoe Hives (AUS/AUS) d. Hayley Carter/Ena Shibahara (USA/USA) 6-1/6-2
LUGANO, SWITZERLAND (Int'l/Red Clay Outdoor)
S: Polona Hercog/SLO def. Iga Swiatek/POL 6-3/3-6/6-3
D: Sorana Cirstea/Andreea Mitu (ROU/ROU) d. Veronika Kudermetova/Galina Voskboeva (RUS/KAZ) 1-6/6-2 [10-8]

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Amanda Anisimova/USA her young career Anisimova has seen her share of "youngest since..." tags associated with her accomplishments on the tennis court. This week in Bogota, she added another. As in becoming the youngest Bannerette to win a WTA singles title since someone named Serena, 17 like Anisimova, won in Indian Wells in 1999.

Over the past week, the #76-ranked teenager posted wins over veterans Sabine Lisicki and Varvara Lepchenko, fellow teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, up-and-coming Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia and, in the final, fellow maiden-title seeking Astra Sharma, playing in her first WTA singles final (Anisimova, while six years younger than the Aussie, had been there before, reaching the Hiroshima final last September). Down a set and knotted at 4-4 in the 2nd, Anisimova was the more solid of the two in the key moments, getting the break of serve that sent things to a deciding set, then closing out the title with a 1 4-6/6-4/6-1 victory.

After (at 15 in 2017) being the youngest player in the Roland Garros MD since 2005, Anisimova next became (at 16) the youngest player to defeat a Top 10er (Kvitova at I.W.) during the '18 season, then became the first player born in the 2000s to reach a slam Round of 16 at this year's Australian Open (defeating Aryna Sabalenka en route to becoming the youngest Bannerette to do it since 1998 -- that Serena person again). The '17 U.S. Open girls champ is *now* the youngest U.S. woman to win a WTA clay court title in twenty-six years. The youngest player in the singles Top 60, Anisimova will climb to #54 on Monday.

And more is sure to come, likely by the end of the not-cruel summer.

RISER: Beatriz Haddad Maia/BRA
...slowly but surely, Haddad is re-climbing the WTA ladder. After reaching her career high (#58) and lone WTA singles final (Seoul) in September 2017, she opened '18 by winning a 1st Round Australian Open match to become the first Brazilian woman to post a slam MD win since 1965 (Maria Bueno). But her follow-up campaign short-circuited come the clay season, first with a wrist injury in Charleston and then a back injury in Madrid that ended her season and led to surgery. 2019 has seen her qualify in Melbourne and get another 1st Round win, and record her first career Top 10 victory (Sloane Stephens) en route to the Acapulco QF. In Bogota, Haddad (ranked #165) qualified and reached her second career tour-level semi, notching wins over Laura Siegemund, defending champ Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Sara Sorribes Tormo before falling to Amanda Anisimova in three sets (after winning the 1st set and seeing the 2nd go to a TB). Her comeback will get a forty-one spot boost on Monday as Haddad will come in at #124.

SURPRISE(s): Astra Sharma/AUS (w/ Zoe Hives/AUS)
...Sharma has spent much of the 2019 proving the shortsightedness of the MD wild card decisions made by Tennis Australia a few months ago. After not receiving a WC into the Australian Open main draw, the former NCAA #1 (Vanderbilt) proceeded to successfully qualify (def. the #1 Q-seed) in order to make her slam debut. The 23-year old then posted a win over Priscilla Hon (who *did* get a TA WC), then reached the mixed doubles final. Three months later in Bogota, in her third tour-level MD, the world #138 had the biggest week of her career. She followed up a three-set 1st Round win over Shelby Rogers with additional defeats of Magda Linette, Sara Errani and Lara Arruabarrena to reach her maiden WTA singles final. On Saturday, she teamed with Zoe Hives to win the first tour doubles title for both, defeating Hayley Carter & Ena Shibahara (like Sharma, NCAA stars at North Carolina and UCLA, respectively) 1 & 2 for the crown. She's the only player this season to reach both the s/d finals at the same event, and the first Australian woman to do so since Ash Barty in Birmingham in 2017.

A day later, Sharma battled Amanda Anisimova in a clash of players seeking career singles title #1. After taking the 1st set, Sharma found herself knotted with the Bannerette at 4-4 in the 2nd. Down 5-4, the Aussie's serve was broken and the match went to a 3rd, where Anisimova pulled away for a 6-1 win. She'll still rise thirty-six spots to #102 this week, becoming the #5-ranked Aussie behind the "Big 5" of Barty, Tomljanovic, Gavrilova and Stosur... above all five of her countrywoman who got those AO free passes in January.

VETERANS: Polona Hercog/SLO and Sara Errani/ITA took nearly seven years, but Hercog has finally experienced the taste of being a WTA singles champion once again.

The 28-year old Slovenian, who won her most recent of two past tour-level crowns in July 2012 in Bastad, picked up career title #3 in Lugano with wins over Carla Suarez-Navarro, Sorana Cirstea, Veronika Kudermetova, Fiona Ferro and Iga Swiatek in a three-set final. A deliriously successful winner on the ITF circuit (17-1 in career finals), Hercog hadn't won a title bigger than her most recent $100K in 2013 since she last lifted a tour-level champion's trophy in '12. She played in a WTA 125 final in '16, and reached the WTA Istanbul championship match last season. Having been at her career high of #35 all the way back in 2011, Hercog will jump from #89 to #64 on Monday.

Surely, Errani could never have predicted her week in Bogota. Actually, she probably couldn't have predicted much of what's happened to her the last couple of years, as the attempts of the former world #5 (and doubles #1), RG singles finalist, Career Doubles Slam winner and three-time Fed Cup champ to traverse the final third of her career has led to a ten-month suspension carried out in two parts, various appeals, large points and prize money seizures, frustration that led her to publicly contemplate retirement, and multiple attempts to try to claw her way back to some sort of relevance between the lines. Ranked #243, 31-year old Errani lost in qualifying to fellow Italian Jasmine Paolini, but reached the MD due to the many withdrawals from the tournament. She then proceeded to post wins over Irina Maria Bara and Bibiane Schoofs to reach the QF, the best result by a LL in any tour-level event this season and Errani's first multi-win WTA event since last May. And she did it even while *this* was going on...

COMEBACK: Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
...out with a knee since last September, the 33-year old Original Hordette finally made her 2019 debut in Lugano. Not surprisingly, she was immediately addicted to three-set drama. Kuznetsova staged comebacks from a set down to defeat both Ekaterina Alexandrova and Timea Bacsinszky to reach her first QF since winning career title #18 in Washington last August. She took the 1st set vs. Kristyna Pliskova in their final eight match-up, only to fall in three to the Czech. She'll climb back into the Top 100 with the result.

FRESH FACES: Iga Swiatek/POL and Fiona Ferro/FRA
...perhaps it was (almost) meant to be. In the same week that the recently-retired Aga Radwanska was finally eliminated from her stint on Poland's version of "Dancing with the Stars," 17-year old Swiatek had the biggest week of her pro career. It didn't end with a title, just a final. But she'll change that soon.

The former junior star (she reached the girls SF at Roland Garros and won Wimbledon last year) has been gaining ground on the field for a while now. After going 7-0 in ITF finals from 2016-18, she qualified and won a MD match in her slam debut in Melbourne in January. Swiatek arrived in Lugano camped up a little outside the Top 100 at #115. She proceeded to post wins over Katarina Zavatska, Viktoria Kuzmova (to reach her first WTA QF), Vera Lapko (the last remaining seed in the event) and Kristyna Pliskova (allowing the Czech just one game) to gain her maiden WTA final in just her third tour-level MD appearance. She ultimately fell in three sets to veteran Polona Hercog, but Swiatek will make her Top 100 debut on Monday.

And after that, well, the sky's the limit.

Ferro has made significant strides over the past season and a half, winning four ITF crowns and recording her first slam MD win (RG) in '18, then this year making her Top 100 and debut in Janauary, her Fed Cup debut in February, and reaching a WTA 125 semi in March. Well, April got its highlight in Lugano as the 22-year old this week reached her first tour-level semi with wins over Mandy Minella, Alison Van Uytvanck and Stefanie Voegele. She'll climb sixteen places to #92 on Monday, reinstating herself as the fifth Pastry in the Top 100 after a three-month absence.

DOWN: Alona Ostapenko/LAT Charleston, Ostapenko staged a furious comeback to overcome a 5-1 3rd set deficit (and MP) in a 2nd Round match vs. Shelby Rogers, securing her first two-win event since last year's U.S. Open. She vowed to play a "fearless" brand of tennis this clay season, as we head toward the two-year anniversary of her Roland Garros triumph. As the #1 seed this week in Bogota, the Latvian seemed set up for second straight encouraging week. Due to injuries and withdrawals that knocked out the #2 and #3 seeds before play began, the MD (already with three wild cards and six qualifiers) included five lucky losers. Ostapenko even faced one in the 1st Round, and was in control vs. Kristie Ahn, holding a MP. But, again, her hopes went up in smoke in a hail of errors as she lost 2-6/7-6(5)/7-5 to the Bannerette.

Ostapenko will likely still be seeded in Paris (she's currently #29), but unless she begins to string together some good results soon (with upcoming points defenses of Rome and Eastbourne QF and a SF at Wimbledon) she could find herself looking up at a WHOLE-LOTTA-NAMES in the rankings by mid-summer.
ITF PLAYERS: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS and Barbora Krejcikova/CZE
...the Hordette is simply dominating the ITF tour. At the $60K in Istanbul, Diatchenko claimed her circuit-leading fifth '19 title and third in a row, defeating Jana Cepelova in the semis and then Ankita Raina in a 6-4/6-0 final to close out a week in which she dropped just twelve games over five matches, delivering five bagel sets while running her winning streak to fifteen matches, with a sets-won streak now standing at twenty-five in a row. India's Raina had prevailed over Cagla Buyukakcay and Marie Bouzkova before coming up short in her quest for her biggest career title.

Meanwhile, Krejcikova continued her *singles* tear in the $25K challenger in Pelham, Alabama by winning her second straight ITF crown on green clay a little over a month away from the start of play on the terre battue at Roland Garros, where the Czech played her only career slam MD singles match a season ago (a loss to Karolina Pliskova). It's career ITF singles win #12 for Krejcikova, who over the past fourteen months has reached the WTA doubles #1, won back-to-back majors in Paris and London (and the AO MX title in January) and reached the finals of the WTAF, Miami (2018) and Indian Wells (2019). Thus far, though, Krejcikova has yet to win a WD title this season.

She defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-4/6-3 in the Pelham final. The 20-year old Bannerette had already claimed the doubles title along with Usue Arconada.
JUNIOR STARS: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano/COL and Clara Tauson/DEN a week where the likes of 17-year olds Anisimova and Swiatak starred in the latter stages in Bogota and Lugano, respectively, the opening days of competition featured *another* pair of teens.

While Swiatak and Astra Sharma found great success in just their third career tour-level MD appearances, 17-year old Osorio Serrano (#438/Jr. #8) reached the QF back home in Colombia in just her second (both coming in Bogota the last two years in the only WTA event in which she's ever played, having previously lost in qualifying in 2016-17). After being a combined 0-3 in the event coming in, the teenage wild card posted wins over Conny Perrin (who'd beaten her in her Q1 tour event debut in Bogota three years ago) and Kristie Ahn. In the QF, she pushed Anisimova to three sets before the Bannerette rallied from a set down to win.

Meanwhile, Lugano saw 16-year old Tauson finally make her tour-event debut after having far more issues finding her way into pro events this season than one might expect for the reigning AO girls champ and junior #1. Having already won three straight ITF titles in recent weeks, the Dane made it through qualifying with wins over Rebecca Sramkova and Tereza Mrdeza. In her tour MD debut, she took a 1st set TB from veteran Evgeniya Rodina and led the Russian by a break twice in the 3rd set before experience finally won out.

DOUBLES: Sorana Cirstea/Andreea Mitu, ROU/ROU
...the Swarmettes became the latest duo to walk off with a title in their first tournament pairing, prevailing in a trio of 3rd set match tie-breaks -- vs. Kung/Tauson in the 1st Round, Lapko/Minnella in the QF and Kudermetova/Voskoboeva in the final in Lugano. It's 29-year old Cirstea's fifth tour-level WD title, but her first since taking taking the short-lived Texas Tennis Open crown in Dallas (w/ Alberta Brianti) in 2011. Mitu, 27, has won four, including her last four WTA finals dating back to 2016.

Between the two of them, Cirstea & Mitu have won (or reached the finals of) WTA & ITF tournaments while playing with a virutal who's who of Romanian women's tennis over the last fifteen years. The list (other than one another) of the Romanians they've paired with while getting to such a stage over the years:

Stefana Andrei
Irina Maria Bara
Irina-Camelia Begu
Bianca Ioana Bonifate
Elora Dabija
Alexandra Damaschin
Cristina Dinu
Diana Enache
Madalina Gojnea
Ionela-Andreea Iova
Diana Marcu
Simona Matel
Gabriela Niculescu
Monica Niculescu
Alexandra Orasanu
Elena-Gabriela Ruse
Oana Georgeta Simion
Agnes Szatmari
Patricia Maria Tig
WHEELCHAIR: Jordanne Whiley/GBR
...the Brit was at it again in South Korea. A week after sweeping the titles at the Busan Open, Whiley did it at the Daegu Open. She took the Series 1 singles crown with wins over #1-seeded Marjolein Buis (QF), #4 Manami Tanaka (SF) and unseeded Momoko Ohtani in a 6-2/6-3 final, giving her three straight titles and a 21-1 season record after returning from her maternity leave. She and countrywoman Lucy Shuker once again combined to claim a doubles crown, improving her '19 WD mark to 13-2. Whiley will return to the Top 20 on Monday.

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Prime position at the trophy ceremony ????

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Mariana Duque Marino announced her retirement in her home event in Colombia last week...

Meanwhile, Sania is getting ever closer to a return...

1. $25K Sunderland ENG 1st Rd. - Tara Moore def. Jessika Ponchet
Moore's historic escape brought to mind Chanda Rubin's 1995 Roland Garros win over Jana Novotna after having trailed 5-0, 40/love in the 3rd set and facing nine MP. The Brit's week didn't have a fairy tale ending, as she didn't build upon her win from 0-6/0-5, 30/40 down (saving two MP) to win the title. She reached the SF, as well as the doubles final.

2. Bogota Final - Amanda Anisimova def. Astra Sharma 4-6/6-4/6-1
Lugano Final - Polona Hercog def. Iga Swiatek 6-3/3-6/6-3
greater final experience won out in the end in both of Week 15's championship matches, which featured the two highest-ranked players under age 18 (both Anisimova and Swiatek will the only players 17-and-under in the Top 100 on Monday) and the two lowest-ranked of 2019's (now) eighteen singles champions in the season's first eighteen events (#76 Anisimova and #89 Hercog).

3. Lugano 1st Rd. - Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Ekaterina Alexandrova
Sveta's first win in seven months after recovering from a knee injury. Naturally, she had to rally from a set down to do it. She did it again from 0-1 vs. Timea Bacsinszky a round later, then won the 1st set over Kristyna Pliskova in the QF and lost in three. Sveta.
4. Bogota 1st Rd. - Kristie Ahn def. Alona Ostapenko
A run at a tournament title seemed there for the taking for #1-seeded Ostapenko, who arrived after a few good moments in Charleston and with a vow to be "fearless" during the clay season. She had two MP vs. Ahn. But "fearless" doesn't also mean "errorless." Thus, the #1 seed fell to a lucky loser, while the other end of the draw saw the #2 seed (Martic) replaced by one (Errani).

And, apparently, Ahn suddenly became invisible after the match (unless the ump just "forget" there were two players in the match)...


5. Lugano 1st Rd. - Antonia Lottner def. Belinda Bencic
#182 upsets #20, her good friend, in a match-up of the 2013 Roland Girls finalists (a week after Bencic def. '13 Wimbledon girls final opponent Taylor Townsend in Charleston).

Apparently, someone placed a bet that this one wouldn't go the way it did...

6. Bogota Q2 - Jasmine Paolini def. Sara Errani
Errani ultimately reached the main draw as a LL and advanced to the QF, but her qualifying loss to countrywoman Paolini left her 1-4 in her last five meetings vs. Italians. Interestingly, those five matches have come against five DIFFERENT woman.

2015 Bad Gastein - vs. Karin Knapp (L)
2016 Madrid - vs. Camila Giorgi (L)
2016 Bucharest - vs. Francesca Schiavone (W, ret.)
2017 Mallorca - vs. Roberta Vinci (L)
2019 Bogota - vs. Jasmine Paolini (L)

Sort of a good thumbnail sketch of Errani's career the last few years, eh? Well, minus the tortellini.
7. Bogota 1st Rd. - Lara Arruabarrena def. Timea Babos
A week after falling to now-40 year old Greta Arn, Arruabarrena found a younger, higher-ranked Hungarian to take it out on. The #106-ranked Spaniard advanced all the way to the semifinals.
8. Lugano QF - Polona Hercog def. Veronika Kudermetova 6-4/6-1
Bogota QF - Lara Arruabarrena def. Tamara Zidansek 6-4/6-2
if you were wondering just how rare an occasion it is to see TWO Slovenians reach tour-level QF in the same week...

With all the young SLO talent currently in the mix, it won't likely take quite that long for it to happen again.
9. $25K Hong Kong CHN Final - Ma Shuyue def. Maddison Inglis
The 19-year old Chinese teen wins her second challenger crown of the season.
10. $15K Shymkent KAZ Final - Kamilla Rakhimova def. Tamara Curovic
The 17-year old Russian sweeps the singles and doubles titles in Kazakhstan, picking up her second pro singles crown without losing a set. She's 17-3 on the year.

HM- $15K Antalya TUR Final - Marie Mettraux/Vera Zvonareva def. Karolina Kubanova/Nikola Tomanova
...6-3/0-6 [12-10].
Yes, it was THAT Vera Zvonareva (I had to check, just in case) defeating two Czech Maidens to win a $15K doubles title. Yes, it's the same Zvonareva currently ranked #86 in singles and #52 in doubles, who just won a tour-level WD title in Budapest in February. She'd actually been scheduled to play singles, too, until she pulled out. But she apparently *is* going to play singles in another $15K in Antalya this coming week. There *has* to be story revolving around the reason for this odd occurrence, especially when it happened in a week where neither of the WTA events on the schedule were exactly overloaded with top names.

While it's no a shock to see a "name" player go down to the challenger level to get match play, having it occur at a $15K seems a bit odd. It's not the Russian's first $15K tournament title, as Zvonareva won such a WS title in Sharm El Sheikh when she was working her way back into the game in '17 (and an old $10K in 2000). It *is* the smallest WD crown of her pro career, though.

Meanwhile, mid-level pro stars have been complaining all year about having a difficult time finding spots in draws on the new ITF Transition Tour.

The arrival of the media guide every January is always a highlight at Backspin HQ...


1. Lugano SF - Iga Swiatek def. KRISTYNA PLISKOVA
A good week for Pliskova, who posted a three-set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, reached her first semifinal since 2017 and collected enough ranking points to return to the Top 100.
2. Bogota QF - Beatriz Haddad Maia def. ANNA KAROLINA SCHMIEDLOVA
Schmiedy's title defense attempt -- of her first tour title in three years -- ends in the QF. As a result, she'll fall 39 spots in the rankings on Monday, from #66 to #105, her lowest standing since she won Bogota a year ago when ranked #132.


If Chrissie had left off the Masters hashtag for context, this might have been, like, the best tweet ever...

Bachelorette happenings...

The entire feature is nice (Andreescu is asked about Kerber's post-match comment at 10:00)...

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Had fun shooting w/ the lovely @genstreetstyle in Miami ??

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Hobart - Sonya Kenin, USA (20/#56) - def. Schmiedlova
Acapulco - Wang Yafan, CHN (24/#65) - def. Kenin
Indian Wells - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (18/#60) - def. Kerber
BOGOTA - AMANDA ANISIMOVA, USA (17/#76) - def. Sharma

18y,8m,2w - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hua Hin)
18y,8m,19d - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Indian Wells)

17 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel)
19 - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (Charleston)
17 - Olga Danilovic SRB (Moscow MO)
18 - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hong Kong)
18 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Indian Wells)
18 - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hua Hin)

18 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Auckland-L)
18 - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hua Hin-W)
18 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Indian Wells-W)
19 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Budapest-L)
20 - Sonya Kenin, USA (Hobart-W)
20 - Sonya Kenin, USA (Acapulco-L)
20 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Brisbane-W)

13 years - Andreescu(18) def. Kerber(31) - Indian Wells
12 years - Goerges(30) def. Andreescu(18) - Auckland
11 years - HERCOG(28) def. SWIATEK(17) - LUGANO

1998: Venus Williams (Memphis)
1998: Tara Snyder (Quebec City)
1999: Serena Williams (Paris Indoors)
1999: Corina Morariu (Bol)
2000: Meghann Shaughnessy (Shanghai)
2001: Meilen Tu (Auckland)
2002: Jill Craybas (Tokyo JO)
2006: Vania King (Bangkok)
2012: Melanie Oudin (Birmingham)
2014: Madison Keys (Eastbourne)
2014: CoCo Vandeweghe (Rosmalen)
2014: Alison Riske (Tianjin)
2015: Sloane Stephens (Washington)
2016: Irina Falconi (Bogota)
2016: Christina McHale (Tokyo JWO)
2017: Lauren Davis (Auckland)
2019: Sonya Kenin (Hobart)

2015: Nao Hibino wins Tashkent (2nd WTA MD, age 20)
2016: Rebeka Masarova to Gstaad SF (WTA MD debut, age 16)
2017: Jana Fett to Hobart SF (WTA MD debut, age 20)
2017: Marketa Vondrousova wins Biel (2nd WTA MD, age 17)
2017: Mihaela Buzarnescu to Linz SF (2nd WTA MD, age 29)
2018: Anastasia Potapova to Moscow River Cup F (3rd WTA MD, age 17)
2018: Tamara Zidansek to Moscow River Cup SF (3rd WTA MD, age 18)
2019: Bianca Andreescu to Auckland F (4th WTA MD, age 18)
2019: IGA SWIATEK to LUGANO F (3rd WTA MD, age 17)
2019: ASTRA SHARMA to BOGOTA F (3rd WTA MD, age 23)

1...Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Indian Wells)
1...Ash Barty, AUS (Miami)
1...Belinda Bencic, SUI (Dubai)
1...Kiki Bertens, NED (Saint Petersburg)
1...Julia Goerges, GER (Auckland)
1...Sonya Kenin, USA (Hobart)
1...Madison Keys, USA (Charleston)
1...Petra Kvitova, CZE (Sydney)
1...Elise Mertens, BEL (Doha)
1...Garbine Muguruza, ESP (Monterrey)
1...Naomi Osaka, JPN (Australian Open)
1...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (Brisbane)
1...Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Shenzhen)
1...Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (Budapest)
1...Wang Yafan, CHN (Acapulco)
1...Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hua Hin)
[WTA 125]
1...Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Newport Beach)
1...Viktorija Golubic, SUI (Indian Wells)
1...Veronika Kudermetova, RUS (Guadalajara)

#4 - Naomi Osaka, JPN (Australian Open)
#8 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (Brisbane)
#8 - Kiki Bertens, NED (Saint Petersburg)
#9 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (Sydney)
#12 - Ash Barty, AUS (Miami)
#13 - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Shenzhen)
#14 - Julia Goerges, GER (Auckland)
#18 - Madison Keys, USA (Charleston)
#19 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (Monterrey)
#21 - Elise Mertens, BEL (Doha)
#45 - Belinda Bencic, SUI (Dubai)
#47 - Dayana Yastremska, UKR (Hua Hin)
#50 - Alison Van Uytvanck, BEL (Budapest)
#56 - Sonya Kenin, USA (Hobart)
#60 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Indian Wells)
#65 - Wang Yafan, CHN (Acapulco)

3...USA - ANISIMOVA,Kenin,Keys
2...BEL - Mertens,Van Uytvanck
2...CZE - Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova

Auckland: Bianca Andreescu, CAN (#152, 18, Q) = L
Hobart: Sonya Kenin, USA (#56, 20) = W
Acapulco: Wang Yafan, CHN (#65, 24) = W

Hobart - Kenin/USA def. AK.Schmiedlova/SVK
(*)-semifinalists all unseeded

#152 - Bianca Andreescu, CAN (Auckland: lost to Goerges)
#138 - ASTRA SHARMA, AUS (BOGOTA: lost to Anisimova)
#115 - IGA SWIATEK, POL (LUGANO: lost to Hercog)

#152 Bianca Andreescu/CAN (Auckland RU)
#109 Vera Zvonareva/RUS (Shenzhen SF)

Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS (Budapest)
Genie Bouchard, CAN (Auckland)
Sonya Kenin, USA (Auckland)
Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (Indian Wells)
Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (AO)

Fed Cup picks & previews later this week...

All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

Ah, sports. Redemption arcs are the best. From #1 Virginia being the first team to ever lose to a #16 seed on the men's side, then winning a championship the next year. Tiger winning his first slam in over a decade. Tampa Bay Lightning winning the title next year-too soon? And last but not least, Polona Hercog winning her first title in 7 years.

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Hercog was one of the 4 women in the Top 100 with only clay titles, but that underscores how heavy her clay numbers are. All 6 of her WTA finals(3-3) are on clay, but more shockingly, all 18(17-1) of her ITF ones are also. Even though ITF numbers sometimes are skewed because players stay on one continent, that is a staggering number.

It makes Hercog a darkhorse for her first slam QF, or better yet, her first 4th rd. Her best at the French was the 3rd rd back in 2010. With the exaggarated takeback, she needs the time clay provides. But in a year where the top players, save Halep, are better on other surfaces, this could be the year.

6 weeks out from the French. This is unofficial, but you are right about Schmiedlova. Bad week to drop. So Schmiedlova, Arruabarrena, Voegele, and Muchova fell out, Swiatek, Pliskova, Ferro, and Kuznetsova in. Sharma on the bubble.

Wozniacki living her best life.

Not really into dancing, but enjoyed Radwanska's clips.

Pliskova at the French will be a thing. The fact that it was Kristyna putting up good results makes me feel good about that.

Surprising take of the week-Siegemund is at a career crossroads. I am assuming that as a former winner, that she is probably getting a WC. Her form there will be interesting to watch. Like mid career Zvonareva, who once was a French Open QF, then had a couple of brutal ankle injuries and slid on hard but not clay, Laura seems to be on that path.

Not wearing a knee brace, but now on clay is only doing a modified slide or none at all. Jarring when you notice Keys sliding like Siegemund used to. So she will probably be worse than her peak on clay, but better on other surfaces. One of Zvonareva's few big wins on clay after her injuries was her dramatic match vs Lisicki. So she could play well, just not conistently. Expect the same from Siegemund.

Stat of the Week-4- The amount of WTA titles(out of 18) by former junior champions this season.

Pliskova. Bencic. Barty. Anisimova. Those are your 4. After 16 combined titles last year, the juniors have four 1/3 of the way through this season. With the Serena/Venus era, which really encompasses two, winding down, the effect the juniors are having are sending shockwaves through the sport.

Anisimova(2017) won this weekend, and Swiatek(2018) reached a final. Along with Potapova(2016), most of the recent years have already had somebody step up and reach a WTA final. 2015, with Mihalikova, Badosa Gibert, Zhuk, Galfi is the outlier.

Currently, the 2010 group-Kristyna & Karolina Pliskova, Svitolina, Gavrilova is the last one in which all 4 winners have a title. But even a bunch like 2002, which didn't win many titles, but had 4 players with nice careers-Strycova(2), Kirilenko(6), Dushevina(1), Widjaja(2), shows the benefits of having learned how to win on the junior level.

Angelique Widjaja's claim to fame was winning a title ranked #579 as a 16 yr old.

Mon Apr 15, 10:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

Quiz Time!
Amanda Anisimova is a former jr champ representing the USA. Who is the last jr champ before Anisimova to have won a WTA event?

A.Tara Snyder
B.Taylor Townsend
C.Coco Vandeweghe
D.Meilen Tu

This one is pretty easy, but shows how the USTA, despite themselves, has a new crop of stars.

(B)Townsend is wrong, but despite what Patrick McEnroe thinks, she was the one. After an era in which Kim Kessaris-AO 89, Jennifer Capriati-F 89, and Chanda Rubin-W 92, we then went 20 years in which the only slam the US women won was the USO. Townsend's AO run in 2012 ended that streak.

(A)Snyder, the 1995 USO champ is wrong, as her title was in Quebec City in 1998, as is (D)Tu, the 1994 USO winner, who didn't win her title until 2001 Auckland.

That leaves (C)Vandeweghe as the obvious choice, but who else was I going to put? Min? Crawford? Gauff? Osuigwe? Day? You get the picture.

What it does point out, is with Osuigwe and Gauff winning on clay, and Anisimova becoming the first American since Falconi picked up her one and only title at Bogota three years ago, is that the youngsters can play of clay. And the earlier they have the breakthrough, the easier it is for them to start putting up consistent results.

We are becoming like soccer, where our kids will need to go overseas to Sanchez or Patrick M. to take the next step.

Mon Apr 15, 10:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Speaking of Hercog, I saw an off-hand comment on Twitter the other day about her that made me chuckle. Upon seeing her tattoos (I'm guessing), the person said something like "she sort of looks like she'd rule the yard at a women's prison." I thought that was a pretty good one, and at least *I* didn't take it as being intended to be a mean spirited jab, either.

Wozniacki: I didn't comment on the bikini-and-bridal-veil shot with the pigs on the beach... it was odd enough all by itself, I figured :D

Apparently Aga only made it half-way through on that show. I figured she'd have a bit more voting support in Poland. :(

Good note on Siegemund and other surfaces. That'll be interesting to see play out.

And I believe that Widjaja win was in her tour-level debut tournament, too.

You're so right about the U.S. young stars sort of rising in spite of many of the USTA's efforts/miscues. Although a lot of the teens coming through now at least were influenced by Rinaldi, which is why she was such a good choice for FC captain (as stunning as it was that the correct choice was made).

And imagine if the USTA had made he effort to get Osaka when the Powers That Be had a chance. I had to laugh in recent weeks when Osaka has been questioned about Japanese/U.S. citizenship (I think she has to *only* have Japanese for the Olympics, per the nation's rules), as if there was really any question which she was going to choose when push comes to shove. I mean, at this point it's pretty obvious, right? That could have been in question if the USTA had acted differently years ago, but that boat sailed *long* ago.

Mon Apr 15, 01:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, and Sascha is going with Mladenovic. "Karmic Kiki" is rising up again. First the win over Osaka, and now this. ;)

If he can't help get that ship turned around... :\

Mon Apr 15, 01:53:00 PM EDT  

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