Monday, November 15, 2010

2010: Viva Signora Backspin!

Forty-four weeks of tennis action and it's come to this... giving a brief thumbnail sketch of a season that kicked-off with such great promise, but wrapped up having left most of it unfulfilled and scattered in pieces along the WTA Road Map.

The opening month and the season's first slam seemed to hint that so many of the expectations most people had for 2010 were just and right, and simply waiting to play out before our approving eyes. Oh, there were a few great moments along the way, some expected ones in Melbourne and London and another hardly imaginable in Paris, but six months into the year the "brilliance" of the would-be "greatest season ever" was still in need of a bit of shine. Then, once the season made its mid-way turn during the summer, things took a drastically unfortunate turn. At times during the lead-up to the U.S. Open, the injury-riddled tour landscape seemed like that of a ghost town, minus the tumbling tumbleweeds (well, unless you count Azarenka in NYC). Try as she might, the tour's would-be Danish superstar couldn't come up with enough (good) headline-grabbing accomplishments to sustain the WTA down the stretch. The one Belgian comebacker left standing by the end of the season walked off with the second half of the season's two biggest titles, but by that time the eyes of the general public and the prevailing discussion had moved past anything that actually happened on the court and instead was focused on the perceived inadequacy of the tour's ranking system, which (horror of horrors!) rewards players who actually play and win matches. Naturally, this was a big controversy, as the tour's persistent naysayers rolled like pigs in warm mud as they zeroed in on how horrible it was that the acknowleged "best player" wasn't ranked #1, conveniently forgetting their opposing arguments from one season ago, when they were so upset over the fact that the #1-ranked player was generally acknowledged to be far more talented than everyone else.

Some things never change. Competitive fields in men's tennis means the depth of talent is deep, but in the women's game it means no one is good enough to rise above the crowd. Dominant talent(s) in men's tennis means a "golden age" is upon us, but if a spare female or two take control of the women's game it's "boring" and shows the "lack of talent" in the field. The so-called argument changes every season -- it's an annual fall rite of passage, sort of like measuring the varying acorn production from year-to-year -- and it's best to simply tune out the like-clockwork "attack" on the then-current state of the WTA's game.

Still, no matter the validity of the discussions about what's "wrong" with the WTA, it IS hard to escape what 2010 DIDN'T produce despite the fact that the Williams Sisters, Belgians, a supposedly-healthy Maria Sharapova and the newest generation of title contenders were all scheduled to be in action and in form at the same time for the first time in ages. Those "make.believe" Sony Ericsson advertising signs lining the walls at the season-ending championships in Doha acted as a final taunt about what might have been. 2010 didn't live up to its early promise... but, hey, there's always 2011, right?

Ironically, in a season overstocked with so many unfulfilled expectations, the best moment turned out to be the one that no one saw coming. What some viewed at the time as "proof" of the tour's deficiency, the final result at Roland Garros was actually one of those moments that proves what the sport is capable of in its best moments. In the final analysis, one woman's triumphant moment on the terre battue wasn't just the most unexpected occurrence in the just completed season, but in many ways it was also the one that redeemed it. Even in an imperfect seaon, we'll always have Paris

On that note, here are the final "Ms. Backspin" rankings for 2010:

1. Francesca Schiavone, ITA

Sometimes, the "Player of the Year" isn't the BEST player (and this season, she's not #1, either). But Schiavone DID symbolize all that the majority of the rest of the 2010 WASN'T -- joyous, excitable and a reason for someone to fall in love with a sport all over again. And not just in Paris, either. Of course, her stunning title-winning turn at Roland Garros IS why she sits alone atop the "Ms. Backspin" rankings one year after sharing the honor with her Italian Fed Cup-winning teammates. Her grand slam triumph was at once totally out of the blue and a fitting reward for a player whose indefatigable spirit has allowed her to shine with skip-to-her-lou style (as in that little move she makes when she puts away a big point) in the latter stages of a career at an age (she turned 30 in June) when some others of her tennis generation (Ms. Dementieva, for one) were deciding that the rigors of the tour were something they could no longer envision themselves enduring. Few players deserve the late-blooming career success more than Italy's first slam singles champion and highest-ever ranked (#6) woman, whose heartfelt acceptance speech in Paris (and weeks-on-end celebration afterward) will forever elicit warm smiles and grins for years to come.

Oh, and she and Team Italia defended the Fed Cup title, too.

Viva Francesca!

2. Kim Clijsters, BEL
3. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4. Serena Williams, USA says something about the off-and-on seasons of most of the other contenders that Clijsters finishes #2 on this list, considering that up until late summer -- aside from three rising-up-against-her-own-history wins over Justine Henin, including her first in a slam since '02 -- Barbie had had a mostly disappointing season. Ah, but the hard court season saved her year, as it did her career reputation when she finally won her first slam crown at Flushing Meadows in '05. U.S. Open title #3 was followed up by a season-ending Tour Championships crown (also her third overall), lifting her season title total to five (second on tour, and all on hard court) and giving her enough hardware to outdistance the current world #1 in the final "Ms.B" tally. Her win over Wozniacki in the SEC final essentially allowed the Belgian to slip past her here, though not in the computer's rankings, where she stands third. Meanwhile, the whole "2010 #1 debate" left virtually no one unscathed, but Wozniacki didn't seem to mind all the expected raised eyebrows concerning her climb to the top of the WTA rankings despite having not won a slam title. The fact is, there was no more consistent (and steadily improving) player on tour in 2010 than the 20-year old Dane. She led all women in titles (6), finals (8), wins (63), double-digit winning streaks (two, of 13 and 11), Round of 16 slam results (4, tied with only Venus Williams) and U.S. Open Series crowns (one, of course). But she didn't win a slam, and didn't reach a slam final (a SF in NYC was her best major result, followed up by a RU in the WTA Championships), and that's a hole in her resume that she'll start to feel the pressure to fill in 2011. Right now, as the youngest player in the Top 20, a case can be made that C-Woz is gradually getting her game to that level. By this time next year, though, she'll be expected to have erased any lingering doubts if she's to be continue to be given some slack in the ongoing "should she be #1?" discussion. And then, of course, there's the BEST player in the world (and maybe ever, but that's another can of worms that needn't be opened again until she announces her retirement somewhere down the line), Serena Williams. In this season of high expectations, the highest of all was that Williams might not just contend for all four slam titles, but actually win them all and pull off the first true Grand Slam since 1988. She won the Australian Open, but lost in Paris. Another Wimbledon title got her back on track, but then she took that fateful trip to a bar in Germany right after the national team lost in the World Cup. A few broken bottles, and an ill-timed step or two later, and Williams' '10 season was over. Who knows what would have happened during the second half of the season had Serena decided to go to a nice restaurant instead, but I think we can all agree that there wouldn't have been any debates about the #1 ranking the last few months.

5. Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA
6. Italian Fed Cup Team

...with the Williams Sisters a doubles non-entity after Wimbledon, and Black/Huber kaput months prior to that, it was the team of Dulko & Pennetta who stepped into the vacuum and became the leading, week-in, week-out twosome on tour in 2010. Much like Wozniacki, they won more titles (7) than anyone else on tour, but only had a single slam SF result to show for their efforts in the season's biggest events. Dulko's rise into the #1 spot in the doubles rankings was assured before the season-ending championships (with Pennetta at #2, with the same number of points), but that the pair managed to walk away with the WTA Championships title was an important "get" for the duo when it came to having something to hold up as "proof" that they were indeed worthy of their place atop the standings. As for the Italians, I guess winning yet another Fed Cup title has become a little "old hat," huh? Well, not really. But, truthfully, this year's title -- the team's second consecutive, and third in five years -- was somewhat expected once the Russians were ejected in the semis, and came after two members of the team (Schiavone and Pennetta) had become the nation's first Top 10 women and one ("Ms.Backspin" herself) had cemented her name in the tour record book as the oldest first-time slam winner in WTA history.

7. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
8. Samantha Stosur, AUS
9. Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ

...Zvonareva rose to all sorts of new career heights in '10, but still left a great deal of room for even more improvement in 2011. She reached back-to-back slam finals in London and New York (no player other than Serena even reached a pair of slam SF), but didn't really show herself as well as she'd hoped once she got there. She was 6-1 in semifinals, but just 1-5 in finals. She finished the season at #2 in the rankings, and even had a chance in Doha to emerge as the season-ending #1. In a way, the tour had to be thankful that she didn't -- if the powers that be thought defending Wozniacki's position required a TINY bit of work, imagine how trying to sell a player who'd only managed to win a title in Pattaya City as #1 would have been. Whew! Talk about a bullet narrowly avoided. Stosur put together a career year of her own, but also left some wiggle room for more. In reaching her first career slam final and climbing into the Top 10 for the first time, the Aussie used her lethal kick-serve to become a no-longer-under-the-radar force on the tour. But, still, she fell just short when it mattered most. In Paris, she defeated both Justine Henin and Serena Williams (one of two wins in '10 over reigning #1-ranked players), extending her clay court win streak to eleven and bettering her SF result from '09. But after entering the final as the favorite against Schiavone, she left France with a bad taste in her mouth and rarely played with the same vigor the rest of the season (aside from notable exceptions one late night in NYC and at the WTA Championships). King & Shvedova proved to be the biggest doubles surprises of the season. Both had experienced success with other partners, but had only played together two events together before they teamed up at Wimbledon. After coming back from match point down, they ended up winning the title. At the Open, they once again survived match point and lived to lift another slam championship trophy.

10. United States Fed Cup Team
11. Venus Williams, USA
12. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
HM- Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA

...playing without the Williams Sisters for a second straight year, Mary Joe Fernandez's Bannerettes managed to traverse a potentially treacherous road and reach the Fed Cup final for the second straight time. Once again, they were outclassed by the Italians, but the scrappy Americans have shown the last two seasons that successful teams don't necessarily have to be overloaded with superior talent (though the ranks of U.S. women's tennis IS starting to sprout some young stars-in-waiting)... at least if you're "content" with finishing second. Over the first quarter of 2010, Venus was the most consistent player on tour. She defended her back-to-back Dubai/Acapulco title runs of a year ago, and strung together a tour season-best fifteen match winning streak. Injuries limited her ability to compete over the last half of the season, but only Venus and Wozniacki managed to reach at least the Round of 16 at all four slams this year (also like the Dane, Williams' only slam SF came at the U.S. Open). Pennetta's singles results flagged a bit as the season progressed, but that was only after she'd become the first Italian woman to reach the Top 10. It was her Fed Cup play, though, that gives her a spot on this list. The Backspin-declared MVP of all three of Team Italia's FC ties in '10, Pennetta clinched her nation's championship with a singles win in the final for the second straight year. And, finally, in June it looked as if Serena and Venus might be able to pull off a "Sisters Slam" by claiming all four slam titles in a single season. They won in Melbourne and Paris, then arrived in London as the overwhelming favorites to win another title. It didn't happen, though, and the pair didn't play together the rest of the season thanks to Serena's foot surgery. Chalk it up as yet another of 2010's "unfinished symphonies."

2001 Jennifer Capriati / USA
2002 Serena Williams / USA
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne / BEL
2004 Maria Sharapova / RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters / BEL
2006 Amelie Mauresmo / FRA
2007 Justine Henin / BEL
2008 Cara Black & Liezel Huber / ZIM-USA
2009 Italian Fed Cup Team
2010 Francesca Schiavone / ITA

"I wasn't like this ten years ago. I decided to express myself, to be free, to be able to share my joy. Why not? When you give, you also can receive. If you remain closed, there's no exchange. I love to exchange. I love to give." - Francesca Schiavone

2010 Grand Slam Final Backspins:
Australian Open: Real Champions Wear Combat Boots (S.Williams d. Henin)
Roland Garros: Viva Francesca! (Schiavone d. Stosur)
Wimbledon: Lucky #13 (S.Williams d. Zvonareva)
U.S. Open: Blahblahblah... Kim Wins... Blahblahblah (Clijsters d. Zvonareva)

1. Mathilde Johansson, FRA
2. Sofia Arvidsson, SWE
3. Madalina Gojnea, ROU
4. Anna Lapushchenkova, RUS
5. Zuzana Zlochcova, SVK
6. Roxane Vaisemberg, BRA
7. Rebecca Marino, CAN
8. Jamie Hampton, USA
9. Romina Oprandi, ITA
10. Edina Gallovits, ROU
11. Alison Riske, USA
12. Renata Voracova, CZE
13. Johanna Larsson, SWE
14. Paula Ormaechea, ARG
15. Patricia Mayr, AUT
HM- Andrea Hlavackova, CZE

1. Petra Cetkovska,CZE
2. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
3. Coco Vandeweghe, USA
4. Nina Bratchikova, RUS
5. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
6. Monica Niculescu, ROU
7. Ayumi Morita, JPN
8. Zhang Shuai, CHN
9. Mona Barthel, GER
10. Varvara Lepchenko, USA
11. Chan Yung-Jan, TPE
12. Julia Mayr, ITA
13. Evelyn Mayr, ITA
14. Meilen Auroux, ARG
15. Lee Jin-A, KOR
HM- Magda Linette, POL

1. Sachie Ishizu, JPN
2. Olivia Sanchez, FRA
3. Chanel Simmonds, RSA
4. Liana-Gabriela Ungur, ROU
5. Timea Babos, HUN
6. Alexandra Krunic, SRB
7. Ons Jabeur, TUN
8. Cristina Dinu, ROU
9. Gabriela Paz, VEN
10. Macall Harkins, USA
11. Camila Silva, CHI
12. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
13. Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
14. Alexandra Cadantu, ROU
15. Marta Sirotnika, RUS
HM- Valentyna Ivakhnenko, UKR

1. Fatma Al Nebhani, OMA
2. Kim Na Ri, KOR
3. Duan Ying-Ying, CHN
4. Ksenia Palkina, KGZ
5. Mandy Minella, LUX
6. Marcella Koek, NED
7. Angelique van der Meet, NED
8. Anastasia Grymalska, ITA
9. Erika Sema, JPN
10. Cagla Buyakakcay, TUR
11. Alize Lim, FRA
12. Johanna Konta, AUS
13. Nathalia Rossi, BRA
14. Viktoria Kamenksaya, RUS
15. Natalie Piquion, FRA
HM- Anastasia Mukhametova, RUS

1. Jelena Dokic, AUS
2. Elena Baltacha, GBR
3. Zuzana Kucova, SVK
4. Elena Bovina, RUS
5. Zuzana Ondraskova, CZE
HM- Alberta Brianti, ITA

1. Mirjana Lucic, CRO
2. Julia Glushko, ISR
3. Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
HM- Peng Shuai, CHN

1. Serena Williams defends her Wimbledon title, her thirteenth career slam singles crown, without dropping a set (the fourth slam she's won in such a dominating fashion). In the final, she allowed Vera Zvonareva just two points on her first serve. Hmmm, considering Serena didn't play a match after winning "lucky" title #13, I wonder if she's developed a trace of triskaidekaphobia?
2. Francesca Schiavone wins Roland Garros, defeating Sam Stosur 6-4/7-6 in the final (one year after losing to her in the 1st Round in Paris) by employing serve-and-volley tactics and forward play that dilutse the Aussie's power and allows her to take control of the match. She became the first Italian slam champ, and the oldest (18 days from 30) first-time winner of a major title.
3. Serena Williams wins her fifth Australian Open title, but her first in an even-numbered year. As has so often been the case throughout her career, Williams had to come back from the brink of defeat to claim the championship. This time it was after overcoming a 6-4/4-0 deficit against Victoria Azarenka, who twice served for the match in the quarterfinals.
4. Kim Clijsters rules in New York City once again. In defending her U.S. Open title, her third overall, the Belgian ran her winning streak in Flushing Meadows to 21 matches. She hasn't lost at the Open since the 2003 final.

5. In a season of inconsistency and absence, Caroline Wozniacki was the WTA's one steady presence. She led the tour in titles, wins, points and finals, and was rewarded with the season-ending #1 ranking as a result. She's the youngest season-ending #1 since Martina Hingis.
6. Cara Black completes a Mixed Doubles career slam by winning the title at the Australian Open.
7. One year after making her comeback there, Kim Clijsters wins in Cincinnati, saving three match points against Maria Sharapova in the final.
8. Venus Williams defends her back-to-back titles in Dubai and Acapulco, then wins an exhibition (defeating Clijsters in the final) at Madison Square Garden the following Monday.
9. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez becomes the first Spanish woman to win the Rome crown since Conchita Martinez in 1996
10. Aravane Rezai wins Madrid, defeating Justine Henin (6-0 in the 3rd), Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams along the way.
11. Flavia Pennetta leads Italy to a second consecutive Fed Cup title, clinching the crown with a singles win the final for the second straight year.
12. Samantha Stosur stakes a claim to superiority on clay, winning the title in Charleston and destroying Vera Zvonareva in the final in the process.
13. Vera Zvonareva reaches back-to-back slam singles finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
14. Agnes Szavay defends her Budapest title, then wins back-to-back events by also emerging victorious in Prague.
15. Justine Henin begins her comeback with loads of LPT 2.0 potential, reaching the finals of both Brisbane and the Australian Open.
16. After having opened the season by reaching four consecutive finals with Cara Black, Liezel Huber moves into sole possession of the #1 doubles ranking in April. Soon after, she and former co-#1 Black announce the end of their doubles partnership (with both blaming the other for the break-up).
17. Kim Clijsters wins in Miami, defeating Justine Henin and Venus Williams.
18. Even though she ultimately didn't win the title in Rome, Jelena Jankovic becomes just the seventh player to ever defeat both Serena and Venus Williams in the same tournament.
19. Caroline Wozniacki wins titles in Montreal and New Haven (her third straight "Wozniacki Open" title at Yale), wrapping up the U.S. Open Series championship.
20. Ekaterina Makarova, on the strength of five wins against Top 20 players, wins her maiden tour singles title at Eastbourne.
HM- Lisa Raymond wins back-to-back grass court doubles titles, with Cara Black (Birmingham) and Rennae Stubbs (Eastbourne), to grab career titles #69 and #70, moving her into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time WTA list.

1. Italy wins the Fed Cup, sweeping through Ukraine, the Czech Republic and the United States by a combined 12-2 score (a year ago, Team Italia took the title by a combined 13-1 tally).
2. In their only two slams played as a duo, Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova come back from match point down to win both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.
3. Serena and Venus Williams win Australian Open and Roland Garros titles, running their slam title streak to four (and 5-of-6) and upping their career number to twelve.
4. Team USA defeats Russia in the semifinals to advance to an improbable second consecutive Fed Cup final. Bethanie Mattek-Sands wins points in both singles and doubles after the Americans had trailed in the tie by a 1-2 score after three matches.
5. Li Na and Zheng Jie are surprise semifinalists at the Australian Open. Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova are surprise semifinalists at Wimbledon.
HM- Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta win the WTA Championships, their biggest title as a team. Dulko moves to #1 in the doubles rankings, and Pennetta is #2.

1. Karolina Pliskova wins the Australian Open Girls crown, while her sister Kristyna wins at Wimbledon. They're the first siblings to win junior majors in the same season.
2. Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens win three of the season's four Girls Doubles slam titles, and are runners-up at the Australian Open.
3. Daria Gavrilova wins the U.S. Open Girls title, becoming the seventh Russian junior champ at the slams since 2002.

[Special Mention]
1. Nadia Petrova nearly double-bagels Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open.
2. The U.S. Open medical crew's rushing to Victoria Azarenka's side after she collapsed during her 1st Round match against Gisela Dulko.

1. Brisbane Final - Kim Clijsters d. Justine Henin
At the time, in Week 1, it was easy to wonder if we might have already seen the best that 2010 had to offer before we'd even had time to take a breath. As it turned out, we DID. Clijsters began the match in walking-on-air form, grabbing a 6-3/4-1 lead. Every shot was working, while Henin's serve and forehand were inconsistent in her first tournament back in her comeback after a 20-month retirement. But Henin managed to hold serve in the sixth game of the 2nd set, then broke Clijsters at love. Suddenly, the "old Kim" was back. Henin won eight straight games, knotting the match and going up 3-0 in the 3rd. She served at 5-3, and held two match points at 5-4, the first a setter Clijsters serve on which Henin committed a forehand error when she unsuccessfully tried to smash the return for a winner that would have given her the title. The match should have ended right there, but the two Belgians played on. In the 3rd set tie-break, Clijsters led 4-0, then 6-3. But Henin saved three match points to battle back to 6-6, only to see her eleventh double-fault of the match give Clijsters match point #4. Clijsters finally won 8-6, coming back from match point down to defeat Henin for the first time in their long series, and doing so in the pair's first on-court meeting since the 2006 Wimbledon SF.
2. U.S. Open 4th Rd. - Samantha Stosur d. Elena Dementieva
After winning the opening set, Stosur went 0-for-4 on her own serve in the 2nd, and was broken for a fifth straight time early in the 3rd. Dementieva led 3-0, and served at 5-3, holding a match point on her own serve, then three more on Stosur's. Stosur served for the match at 6-5, and failed to convert her own match point. In the 3rd set tie-break, the Aussie grabbed a quick 3-0 lead and coasted to 7-2. The match ended at 1:37am, the latest-ending women's match in U.S. Open history.
3. Roland Garros QF - Samantha Stosur d. Serena Williams
Against Williams, Stosur "pulled a Serena." Employing her clay court game to perfection, the Aussie used her slice often, waiting patiently for an opportunity to rip a forehand for a winner. From the end of the 1st set and into the 2nd, Stosur won seventeen consecutive points, leaving Williams visibly frustrated and discombobulated. With Stosur serving for the match at 5-3 in the 2nd, Williams rose up to get the break, then held at love and won the tie-break to knot the match. Serena held a match point at 5-4 in the 3rd, but just missed raising her arms in triumph when her forehand lob sailed beyond the baseline. Stosur held serve to knot the score at 5-5, then proceded to win four of the five games that occurred after Williams had held match point. Displaying her hard-learned ability to stay calm under pressure, Stosur passed Serena twice at the net and broke Williams' serve, then served out the match to become the first Australian-born woman to defeat a world #1 in a slam since 1993.
4. Miami SF - Kim Clijsters d. Justine Henin
In a 2:30+ rollercoaster of a match that turned on both players' inability to put away big points, Clijsters' reflex volley in the closing moments set her up for the victory. Henin began this match with twice as much overall on-court time in Miami (eight hours to four) than Clijsters, lingering back and hip injuries, and persistent hangnails nagging at her game. Up 40/15 at 1-2 in the 1st, she was broken and quickly saw the set get away from her. In the 2nd, she had to save serve to avoid falling down 0-4. Once she did, though, she immediately broke Clijsters in the next game, then did it again two games later when her suddenly-tentative countrywoman double-faulted three times. After winning the 2nd set tie-break, Henin took a quick 2-0 lead in the 3rd, but couldn't hold onto the advantage. Clijsters broke at love for a 3-2 lead, but things were back on serve again at 4-4. In the next game, Henin narrowly missed a backhand to the corner on game point, then saw Clijsters gain a break two points later to go up 5-4. Henin quickly broke back one game later. Up 6-5, Henin battle from a love/40 deficit on Cljisters' serve to get to deuce... only to see Clijsters' successful low volley to the corner prevent a match point. In the deciding tie-break, Henin led 2-0, then badly missed on a baseline overhead. She led 3-2, but then dropped back-to-back serve points. Clijsters led 6-3, but dropped back-to-back serve points of her own, then saw Henin knot the score at 6-6. At that point, Clijsters' reflex volley dropped in over the net to give her a match point, which she put away with a forehand winner.
5. Wimbledon QF - Petra Kvitova d. Kaia Kanepi
Kanepi held two match points in the 2nd set tie-break, and three more in the 3rd after having taken a 4-0 lead. Kvitova didn't get her first break of serve in the match until she broke the Estonian to avoid falling behind 5-0. Still with a chance to avoid a total collapse, Kanepi served for the match at 5-3, narrowly missing advancing to the SF when a Kvitova return on match point bounced off the net tape and barely landed in to keep the Czech alive in the contest. Kvitova ultimately edged out Kanepi 8-6 in the final set, then had a hard time scratching out a tour match win over the next few months. Meanwhile, Kanepi notched her first career tour title not long afterward.
6. Australian Open 2nd Rd. - Justine Henin d. Elena Dementieva
If this one had gone three sets, it might have been the Match of the Year. Still, even at two sets, it lasted 2:50, with the 1st set taking 1:23 alone. Henin failed to convert a match point at 5-4, and served for the match twice. But Dementieva managed to push the 2nd into a tie-break. In the TB, the Russian held a set point (just as she also had in the 1st), and led 3-1. In the end, though, Henin's aggressive net play overcome her bad first serve percentage. Sporting her "new" go-for-broke LPT 2.0 style, Henin closed out the match by serve-and-volleying and putting away a solid volley on match point.
7. Australian Open 3rd Rd. - Justine Henin d. Alisa Kleybanova
Kleybanova led 6-3/3-1, 40/15 on Henin's serve, and looked to be on her way to crushing the newly-returned Belgian in the first slam appearance of her comeback. But the Melbourne heat, and maybe the pressure of the moment, finally wore down the Russian. Henin didn't get her first break point chance of the match until the fifth game of the 2nd set, and once she did it was easy to feel the entire course of the match turning in that single moment. Rather than being bounced early, Henin's run to the AO final was officially on.
8. Cincinnati Final - Kim Clijsters d. Maria Sharapova
Both players started off badly, but Clijsters was the worst of the two, double-faulting three times in one game and losing the last four games of the 1st set. In the 2nd, she saved three match points and held for 3-5. After a seventy-four minute rain delay, the Belgian returned looking like a different player. Sharapova served for the match at 5-4, and led 3-0 in the 2nd set tie-break, but couldn't close out the match. A double-fault from the Russian gave Clijsters a set point, and she claimed the tie-break at 7-5 to knot the match despite trailing 23-11 in winners in the first two sets. After taking control in the 3rd, on her fifth match point, Clijsters finally put away the title.
9. Roland Garros 3rd Rd. - Justine Henin d. Maria Sharapova
Sharapova was 0-for-7 in break point attempts until mid-way into the 2nd set. The Russian saved two break points at 3-3, held for 4-3 and then broke Henin. Sharapova served out the 2nd set to end Henin's forty-set winning streak in Paris. In the 3rd, the Belgian trailed 0-2, love/40 in the final set, but managed to rediscover her Roland Garros aura in the nick of time. She lost in her next match, though.
10. Miami QF - Justine Henin d. Caroline Wozniacki
For most of the first two sets, Wozniacki played the big points better, as Henin predictably placed her serve down the "T." Henin varied her serve placement more in the 3rd, and reverted back to her old clay-court style of moving around her opponent and winning longer rallies while still maintaining a certain level of aggressiveness. More closely resembling her old self, with a twist, she seized control of the match. The thought was that she might use that final set as a template for the remainder of the season, but her inconsistencies popped up again and she never got to play out the second half of the season due an elbow injury at Wimbledon. Still, this match might be a key one for both players when it comes to 2011. A more aggressive Wozniacki was the best player on the court for two-thirds of this match, and she would be wise to remember that next season. Meanwhile, Henin looked like her old self once she started playing a version of the brand of game that made her a future Hall of Famer. Whether "LPT 3.0" will look more like 1.0 than 2.0 in '11, though, is anyone's guess at this point.
11. Australian Open Final - Serena Williams d. Justine Henin
In the first meeting in a grand slam final for the two best players of their generation, the Belgian failed to take advantage of her opportunities to break Williams' serve in the opening set. In just her second event back, while she did push things to three sets, Henin wasn't able to keep up with the American's serve, as Serena ran her AO record to 41-0 when she wins the 1st set.
12. Rome SF - Jelena Jankovic d. Serena Williams
Even Serena can choke. Sometimes. Williams served for the match twice, and held a match point at 5-4. She led 5-2 in the deciding tie-break, too. It didn't matter, JJ still came out on top in the 3:00 match.
13. Madrid 2nd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Vera Dushevina
In 3:26, the longest match of Serena's career saw the world #1 fail to convert three set points in the 1st, then later lost a 5-2 3rd set lead. Dushevina held a match point at 6-5 on Williams' serve in the 2nd, and went up 4-0 in the 3rd set tie-break. Said Serena, "At that point, I wasn't going to lose. After three hours, I'd BETTER win."
14. Roland Garros 3rd Rd. - Nadia Petrova d. Aravane Rezai
Played over the span of two days, both players traded match points. Rezai had three, while Petrova served for the match late and failed to convert two MP of her own. After the match was suspended at 7-7, the Russian came out the next day and made quick work of the Pastry, who was 7-for-23 on break point opportunities.
15. Australian Open QF - Li Na d. Venus Williams
Venus led 6-2/5-3 and served at 5-4. She was two points from the win. She didn't get it, and instead Li (along with Zheng Jie) made it two Chinese women in the Australian semifinals.
16. Australian Open QF - Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka
A year after succumbing to the Melbourne heat after being seemingly on her way to upsetting eventual champ Williams at the AO, Azarenka led here by a 6-4/4-0 score and served at 5-2 and 5-4. She couldn't close things out again, though, and Serena went on to hold sixteen of twenty points on serve in the 3rd.
17. Stuttgart Final - Justine Henin d. Samantha Stosur 6-2/2-6/6-1
Roland Garros 4th Rd. - Samantha Stosur d. Justine Henin 2-6/6-1/6-4
in Stuttgart, Henin put on a wonderful 3rd set display to put down Stosur and make it appear as if LPT 2.0 was going to pick up where LPT 1.0 left off on the red clay. It didn't matter in Paris, though, as the by-then-the-hottest-player-on-clay Stosur ended Henin's twenty-four match RG winning streak. In the end, up 30/love at 4-3 on Stosur's serve, Henin tried too hard to pound what should have been an easy return for a winner, only to dump it into the net and alleviate some of the pressure on the Aussie, who had been noticably beginning to feel it. The new breath of life was all that she needed, and La Petit Taureau lost in Paris for the first time since 2004.
18. Wimbledon 4th Rd. - Serena Williams d. Maria Sharapova
This was their first meeting on grass since Sharapova went Supernova on Serena in the '04 Wimbledon final. Williams never lost a set at this year's SW19 event, but the Russian came the closest to pushing her back against the wall. In a classic tie-break (which began with a Williams ace, which was followed up immediately by one from Sharapova), she held three set points, and saved two of Serena's. Williams led the breaker by a 3-1 score, only to see Sharapova go up 5-3 (holding her final SP at 8-8). The American surged back to win the TB 11-9 when, on her third set point, Serena smashed an ace. She then broke for a 2-1 lead in the 2nd and held on for the victory.
19. Fed Cup SF - Elena Dementieva (RUS) d. Melanie Oudin (USA)
This was this duo's second of two less-than-sterling, but incredibly intriguing match-ups this season. The 1st set alone contained ten breaks of serve and lasted 1:06, and saw Dementieva come back from a 3-4 deficit in the tie-break. Not that it mattered, Team USA still upset the Hordettes to reach the FC final.
20. MSG Exhibition Final - Venus Williams d. Kim Clijsters
After finding herself down early by a set and 2-0, Clijsters led 4-2 in the 3rd, but seemed taken aback when the crowd openly pulled for Venus to win. In her fourth three-set match over the span of five days, Williams outpaced the Belgian down the stretch, even pulling off possibly the prettiest, most phenomenal shot we saw all season -- a soaring, from-the-rafters overhead smash that could easily one day be used as THE signature video moment for Williams' career.
21. Ponte Vedra Beach SF - Caroline Wozniacki d. Elena Vesnina
A "classic" Wozniacki match. In the 1st set, she seemed out of it. But she gradually worked her way into the contest, won a tight 2nd set, then began to systematically wear down her frustrated Russian opponent, keeping one step ahead of Vesnina and ultimately getting to the finish line with a single break to spare.
22. Stanford QF - Maria Sharapova d. Elena Dementieva
In 2:46, Sharapova committed fifteen double-faults, but still called upon her serve to dig her out of multiple bad spots.
23. New Haven SF - Caroline Wozniacki d. Elena Dementieva
No wonder Dementieva decided to hang up her rackets after this season -- she had so, so many losses like this one in '10. She held a break point for a 4-1 lead in the 3rd set, and served at 5-3. Wozniacki had three match points on the Russian's serve in Game #12, but Dementieva ran off a string of eight consecutive points to take a 3-0 lead in the deciding tie-break. The Dane still managed to edge her out 7-5.
24. U.S. Open SF - Kim Clijsters d. Venus Williams
Williams had a chance to serve her way into the final with a straight sets victory, but went 0-for-4 on her serve in the 2nd set tie-break. She ended the 2nd set and began the 3rd with double-faults, and Clijsters tip-toed into another Open final. After this one, Venus sported a 55-2 record when she wins the 1st set in an Open match.
25. Roland Garros 2nd Rd. - Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Andrea Petkovic
Kuznetsova didn't have many shining moments in '10, but this was one of them. Well, either that or it was Petkovic's low point. The German served up 6-4/5-4, 40/love, and the Russian failed to convert on her own first three match points. Ultimately, after living a "whole life in a day," Kuznetsova won out on #4.
HM- U.S. Open Doubles 3rd Rd. - King/Shvedova d. Benesova/Zahlavova-Strycova
In 3:00+, they traded match points and double-faults. King and Shvedova went on to win the title.

[as of end-of-season ranks on November 8]
In 2009, Kim Clijsters finished at #18 after playing just four events. There were no similarly ranking-busting cameos in 2010, though. Although, countrywoman Justine Henin still finished #12 despite missing the final half of the season after her Wimbledon elbow injury limited her to just eleven events on the season. The next highest-ranked player with so few tournaments was Irina Falconi, who wrapped up the year at #217.
After zero South Americans finished in the Top 50 in 2008, Argentine Gisela Dulko finished at #37 in 2009. This year, Dulko was once again the only South American in the final Top 50 singles rankings. Barely. She finished 2010 at #49.
A slew of big names fell out of the Top 50 over the last year. Amongst them, most largely because of injury, were Dinara Safina, Melanie Oudin, Aleksandra Wozniak, Sabine Lisicki, Virginie Razzano, Kateryna Bondarenko and Sorana Cirstea. Meanwhile, 40-year old Kimiko Date-Krumm returned to the Top 50, as did the similarly recently-unretired Henin.
While Tamarine Tanasugarn, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Tamira Paszek all saw their fortunes turn and enable them to return to the Top 100 in 2010, the worm turned the other way for many other "name" players, including no-longer-Top-100ers Jelena Dokic, Sania Mirza and Urszula Radwanska.
#71 Bojana Jovanovski, 18, is the youngest player in the Top 100 (last year it was Melanie Oudin, who is now the third-youngest, after Jovanovski and Simona Halep). #173 Zarina Diyas, 17, is the youngest player in the Top 200, a spot held the last two seasons by Michelle Larcher de Brito. Now 17, Larcher de Brito ended '10 at #205, one position ahead of 16-year old Laura Robson, who was the youngest finisher amongst the Top 373 players in the world. Naturally, 40-year old Kimiko Date-Krumm (#46) was once again the oldest in the Top 100, but also the Top 50 this time around. The second oldest was #98 Jill Craybas, 36.

*YOUNGEST PLAYER - end of '10 season*
[Top 100]
18...Bojana Jovanovski, SRB (born Dec.31, 1991)
19...Simona Halep, ROU (born Sept.27, 1991)
19...Melanie Oudin, USA (born Sept.23, 1991)
19...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (born July 3, 1991)
19...Ksenia Pervak, RUS (born May 27, 1991)
19...Polona Hercog, SLO (born Jan.20, 1991)
17...Zarina Diyas, KAZ (born Oct.18, 1993)
17...Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO (born May 7, 1993)
17...Sloane Stephens, USA (born March 20, 1993)
18...Heather Watson, GBR (born May 19, 1992)
18...Christina McHale, USA (born May 11, 1992)
18...Coco Vandeweghe, USA (born Dec.6, 1991)
18...Kurumi Nara, JPN (born Dec.3, 1991)
19...Misaki Doi, JPN (born May 29, 1991)
19...Petra Martic, CRO (born Jan.19, 1991)
19...Chang Kai-Chen, TPE (born Jan.13, 1991)
19...Sally Peers, AUS (born Jan.6, 1991)
19...Rebecca Marino, CAN (born Dec.16, 1990)
19...Urszula Radwanska, POL (born Dec.7, 1990)
19...Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, THA (born Nov.18, 1990)

*OLDEST PLAYER - end of '10 season*
[Top 100]
40...Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN (born Sept.28, 1970)
36...Jill Craybas, USA (born July 4, 1974)
33...Tathiana Garbin, ITA (born June 3, 1977)
33...Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA (born May 24, 1977)
31...Greta Arn, HUN (born April 13, 1979)
31...Patty Schnyder, SUI (born Dec.14, 1978)
30...Francesca Schiavone, ITA (born June 23, 1980)
30...Venus Williams, USA (born June 17, 1980)
30...Zuzana Ondraskova, CZE (born May 3, 1980)
30...Sybille Bammer, AUT (born April 27, 1980)
30...Alberta Brianti, ITA (born April 5,1980)
35...Rossana de los Rios, PAR (born Sept.16, 1975)
33...Lindsay Lee-Waters, USA (born Jun.28, 1977)
31...Catalina Castano, COL (born July 7, 1979)

Seven of 2009's Top 10 finished there again in 2010. Dinara Safina (#2 to #62), Agnieszka Radwanska (#10 to #14) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (#3 to #27) fell out. Of the current Top 10ers, Kim Clijsters (#18 to #3), Samantha Stosur (#13 to #6) and Francesca Schiavone (#17 to #7) were the three season-ending newcomers.
The Czech Republic is second behind Russia with the most players in the Top 100 with eight. But the highest-ranked Maiden is just #33, meaning sixteen of the countries that have fewer Top 100 players than the Czech Republic have a player ranked higher than top-ranked Czech Lucie Safarova.
Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez had a breakout singles season in 2010, becoming the first Spanish woman to win the Rome title in fourteen years. Still, her year-end ranking fell from #27 to #28. Meanwhile, Jelena Jankovic is (rightly) perceived to have had far less impact on the WTA season in '10 than in previous seasons, but she still managed to duplicate her 2009 year-end rank of #8 this year.
The Rich Get Richer? In 2007, there were fifteen Russians in the Top 100. At the end of 2008, there were fifteen. At the end of 2009, there were fifteen again. 2010 saw sixteen Hordettes finish in the Top 100, fourteen of them the same women who did so a season ago (Ksenia Pervak and Regina Kulikova are new, while still-Top 100 Anastasia Rodionova officially began to represent Australia at the start of the year). But while six Russians finished in the Top 20 in 2009, only five did in 2010. And while there were four in the Top 10 (three in the Top 5!) a season ago, there were but two this time around (and one of them, Elena Dementieva, has announced her retirement). #18 Maria Sharapova finished outside the Top 10 for the second straight season, the first time that's happened since 2002-03. Still, Vera Zvonareva's #2 year-end rank tied Sharapova (2006), Kuznetsova (2007) and Safina (2009) for the best ever by a Hordette.
Maria Kirilenko's twenty-three events are the most by any player ranked in the Top 20 (next were Wozniacki and Schiavone's twenty-two, after both had tied for the lead in '09). Sara Errani's twenty-nine led the Top 50 (she also led the Top 50 in '09). Renata Voracova's thirty-six were the most in the Top 100, while Julia Cohen's forty led the players in the Top 200.
Only two of the players in the season-ending 2010 Top 50 ended 2009 ranked outside the Top 100 (#42 Jarmila Groth and #47 Angelique Kerber, along with the previously-retired Henin). Two years ago, twelve of the Top 50 players had risen from outside the Top 100.
Rebecca Marino was the player with her nose pressed up against the Top 100 glass, finishing #101. A year ago, it was Monica Niculescu. The Romanian finished at #83 in 2010.

[based on November 8 end-of-season WTA rankings]

[at of end of 2010]
30...Venus Williams
30...Francesca Schiavone
29...Serena Williams
29...Elena Dementieva
28...Li Na
28...Justine Henin
28...Nadia Petrova
27...Kim Clijsters
26...Samantha Stosur
26...Vera Zvonareva
26...Marion Bartoli
25...Jelena Jankovic
23...Maria Kirilenko
23...Aravane Rezai
23...Maria Sharapova
23...Shahar Peer
23...Ana Ivanovic
21...Agnieszka Radwanska
21...Victoria Azarenka
20...Caroline Wozniacki

5...Russia (Dementieva, Kirilenko, Petrova, Sharapova, Zvonareva)
2...Belgium (Clijsters, Henin)
2...France (Bartoli, Rezai)
2...Serbia (Ivanovic, Jankovic)
2...United States (Williams, Williams)
1...Australia (Stosur)
1...Belarus (Azarenka)
1...China (Li)
1...Denmark (Wozniacki)
1...Israel (Peer)
1...Italy (Schiavone)
1...Poland (A.Radwanska)

43...Justine Henin
43...Venus Williams
40...Kim Clijsters
37...Serena Williams
22...Maria Sharapova
16...Elena Dementieva
12...Jelena Jankovic
12...Caroline Wozniacki
10...Ana Ivanovic
10...Vera Zvonareva
9...Nadia Petrova
5...Victoria Azarenka
5...Marion Bartoli
5...Maria Kirilenko
5...Shahar Peer
4...Agnieszka Radwanska
4...Aravane Rezai
4...Francesca Schiavone
3...Li Na
2...Samantha Stosur

#35 Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
#47 Angelique Kerber, GER
#48 Polona Hercog, SLO
NEW PLAYERS IN THE TOP 100 (since end of '09 season): 23
2009 newbies: 28
2008 newbies: 34
2007 newbies: 33
#12 Justine Henin, BEL (NR)
#42 Jarmila Groth, AUS (#112)
#47 Angelique Kerber, GER (#106)
#52 Sofia Arvidsson, SWE (#124)
#58 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA (#111)
#59 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA (#152)
#66 Romina Oprandi, ITA (#220)
#71 Bojana Jovanovski, SRB (#189)
#79 Varvara Lepchenko, USA (#114)
#81 Simona Halep, ROU (#210)
0...Jelena Jankovic (8/8)
0...Kristina Barrois (80/80)
0...Karolina Sprem (96/96)
1...Venus Williams (6/5)
1...Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (27/28)
1...Dominika Cibulkova (30/31)
1...Patty Schnyder (43/44)
#12 Justine Henin, BEL
#17 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
#46 Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
#56 Anna Chakvetadze, RUS
#58 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
#59 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
#90 Tamira Paszek, AUT
#105 Mirjana Lucic, CRO
#108 Laura Pous Tio, ESP
#139 Sesil Karatantcheva, KAZ
#154 Elena Bovina, RUS
#167 Eleni Daniilidou, GRE
#21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
#29 Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
#65 Melanie Oudin, USA
#71 Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
#76 Ayumi Morita, JPN
#97 Ksenia Pervak, RUS
#101 Rebecca Marino, CAN
#103 Evgeniya Rodina, RUS
#114 Coco Vandeweghe, USA
#115 Christine McHale, USA
#118 Alison Riske, USA
#119 Chang Kai-Chen, TPE
#124 Olivia Sanchez, FRA
#157 Ajla Tomljanovic, CRO
#164 Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
#173 Zarina Diyas, KAZ
#176 Heather Watson, GBR
#198 Sloane Stephens, USA
#199 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, THA
#201 Elena Bogdan, ROU
#203 Karolina Pliskova, CZE
#205 Michelle Larcher de Brito, POR
#206 Laura Robson, GBR
#211 Olivia Rogowska, AUS
#223 Beatrice Capra, USA
#227 Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
#250 Jessica Moore, AUS
#329 Timea Babos, HUN
#358 Chanel Simmonds, RSA
#398 Jacqueline Cako, USA
#399 Krista Hardebeck, USA
#483 Madison Keys, USA
#494 Gabriela Dabrowski, CAN
#565 Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR
#568 Camila Silva, CHI
#591 Silvia Njiric, CRO
#601 Ons Jabeur, TUN
#791 Chelsey Gullickson, USA
#4 Serena Williams, #5 Venus Williams
#14 Agnieszka Radwanska, #191 Urszula Radwanska
#36 Alona Bondarenko, #113 Kateryna Bondarenko
#37 Agnes Szavay, #995 Blanka Szavay
#63 Anastasia Rodionova, #185 Arina Rodionova
#122 Zuzana Kucova, #234 Kristina Kucova
#203 Karolina Pliskova, #227 Kristyna Pliskova
#229 Julia Mayr, #318 Evelyn Mayr
#241 Erika Sema, #312 Yurika Sema
#260 Lyudmyla Kichenok, #473 Nadija Kichenok
#352 Carly Gullickson, #791 Chelsey Gullickson
#516 Sandy Gumulya, #922 Beatrice Gumulya
#972 Jennifer Ren, #1064 Jessica Ren

(w/ # in 2009)
16...Russia (15)
8...Czech Republic (6)
7...Italy (6)
7...United States (5)
5...Romania (4)
5...Spain (4)
4...Austria (2)
4...Belgium (3)
4...China (3)
4...France (6)
4...Germany (6)
3...Australia (2)
3...Serbia (2)
2...Belarus (3)
2...Hungary (2)
2...Japan (2)
2...Slovak Republic (3)
2...Sweden (0)
2...Switzerland (3)
1...Argentina (1)
1...Bulgaria (1)
1...Croatia (2)
1...Denmark (1)
1...Estonia (1)
1...Great Britain (3)
1...Israel (1)
1...Kazakhstan (1)
1...Latvia (1)
1...Poland (2)
1...Slovenia (1)
1...Thailand (0)
1...Ukraine (3)
1...Uzbekistan (1)
2009 TOP 100, NONE in 2010: Canada, India, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)

#2 Vera Zvonareva
#9 Elena Dementieva
#15 Nadia Petrova
#18 Maria Sharapova
#20 Maria Kirilenko
#21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
#25 Alisa Kleybanova
#27 Svetlana Kuznetsova
#50 Ekaterina Makarova
#53 Elena Vesnina

#1 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
#3 Kim Clijsters, BEL
#7 Francesca Schiavone, ITA
#8 Jelena Jankovic, SRB
#10 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
#12 Justine Henin, BEL
#14 Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
#16 Marion Bartoli, FRA
#17 Ana Ivanovic, SRB
#19 Aravane Rezai, FRA

#6 Samantha Stosur, AUS
#11 Li Na, CHN
#26 Zheng Jie, CHN
#39 Yaroslava Shvedova, KAZ
#42 Jarmila Groth, AUS
#46 Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
#58 Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA
#63 Anastasia Rodionova, AUS
#69 Akgul Amanmuradova, UZB
#72 Peng Shuai, CHN

#49 Gisela Dulko, ARG
#128 Mariana Duque-Marino, COL
#147 Rossana de los Rios, PAR
#181 Florencia Molinero, ARG
#183 Catalina Castano, COL
#188 Maria Irigoyen, ARG
#237 Ana-Clara Duarte, BRA
#275 Bianca Botto, PER
#289 Paula Ormaechea, ARG
#305 Mailen Auroux, ARG

#4 Serena Williams, USA
#5 Venus Williams, USA
#59 Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
#65 Melanie Oudin, USA
#79 Varvara Lepchenko, USA
#86 Vania King, USA
#98 Jill Craybas, USA
#101 Rebecca Marino, CAN
#114 Coco Vandeweghe, USA
#115 Christina McHale, USA
#118 Alison Riske, USA
#126 Aleksandra Wozniak, CAN

#13 Shahar Peer, ISR
#107 Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
#192 Cagla Buyukakcay, TUR
#331 Julia Glushko, ISR
#358 Chanel Simmonds, RSA
#372 Fatma Al Nabhani, OMA
#375 Pemra Ozgen, TUR
#444 Selima Sfar, TUN
#452 Fatima Zahrae El Allami, MAR
#464 Nadia Lalami, MAR

#11 Li Na
#26 Zheng Jie
#72 Peng Shuai
#91 Zhang Shuai
#132 Han Xinyun
#246 Lu Jing-jing
#256 Zhou Yi-Miao
#273 Sun Shengnan
#277 Xu Yi-Fan
#291 Wang Qiang

#29 Alexandra Dulgheru
#75 Edina Gallovits
#81 Simona Halep
#83 Monica Niculescu
#95 Sorana Cirstea
#159 Liana-Gabriela Ungur
#182 Ioana-Raluca Olaru
#201 Elena Bogdan
#214 Irina-Camelia Begu
#215 Madalina Gojnea

#33 Lucie Safarova
#34 Petra Kvitova
#41 Klara Zakopalova
#60 Iveta Benesova
#67 Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova
#82 Renata Voracova
#84 Zuzana Ondraskova
#89 Sandra Zahlavova
#106 Andrea Hlavackova
#111 Lucie Hradecka
#142 Petra Cetkovska

#6 Samantha Stosur
#42 Jarmila Groth
#63 Anastasia Rodionova
#110 Alicia Molik
#120 Sophie Ferguson
#135 Jelena Dokic
#156 Sally Peers
#211 Olivia Rogowska
#226 Casey Dellacqua
#248 Johanna Konta
#250 Jessica Moore

#55 Elena Baltacha
#123 Anne Keothavong
#176 Heather Watson
#180 Katie O'Brien
#206 Laura Robson
#213 Naomi Cavaday
#232 Naomi Broady
#292 Melanie South
#303 Anna Smith
#333 Lisa Whybourn

#36 Alona Bondarenko
#113 Kateryna Bondarenko
#146 Mariya Koryttseva
#151 Olga Savchuk
#184 Lesya Tsurenko
#193 Yuliya Beygelzimer
#243 Oxana Lyubtsova
#260 Lyudmyla Kichenok
#266 Irina Buryachok
#268 Yuliana Fedak

#10 Victoria Azarenka
#74 Olga Govortsova
#121 Anastasiya Yakimova
#161 Darya Kustova
#218 Iryna Kuryanovich
#235 Ekaterina Dzehalevich
#357 Tatiana Poutchek

#39 Yaroslava Shvedova
#139 Sesil Karatantcheva
#173 Zarina Diyas
#528 Galina Voskoboeva

2001....0 titles, 3 RU, 6 SF
2002....6 titles, 8 RU, 11 SF
2003...11 titles, 4 RU, 20 SF
2004...15 titles, 18 RU, 30 SF
2005....9 titles, 8 RU, 36 SF
2006...19 titles, 15 RU, 30 SF
2007...12 titles, 15 RU, 26 SF
2008...18 titles, 20 RU, 21 SF
2009...13 titles, 13 RU, 19 SF
2010...13 titles, 16 RU, 14 SF

=end of '09 to end of '10=
[in 2010 Top 25]
UNRANKED: Justine Henin (NR to #12)
+43...Maria Kirilenko (#63 to #20)
+39...Kaia Kanepi (#61 to #22)
+20...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (#41 to #21)
+18...Shahar Peer (#31 to #13)
+15...Kim Clijsters (#18 to #3)
+10...Francesca Schiavone (#17 to #7)

[2010 Top 26-50]
+70...Jarmila Groth (#112 to #42)
+64...Tsvetana Pironkova (#99 to #35)
+59...Angelique Kerber (#106 to #47)
+54...Klara Zakopalova (#95 to #41)
+38...Julia Goerges (#78 to #40)
+38...Anastasija Sevastova (#83 to #45)
+36...Kimiko Date-Krumm (#82 to #46)

[2010 Top 51-100]
+154...Romina Oprandi (#220 to #66)
+143...Greta Arn (#231 to #88)
+129...Simona Halep (#210 to #81)
+118...Bojana Jovanovski (#189 to #71)
+102...Johanna Larsson (#170 to #68)
+96...Tamira Paszek (#186 to #90)
+96...Zuzana Ondraskova (#180 to #84)
+93...Bethanie Mattek-Sands (#152 to #59)

=end of '09 to end of '10=
[2009 Top 25]
-156...Sabine Lisicki (#23 to #179)
-97...Virginie Razzano (#19 to #116)
-60...Dinara Safina (#2 to #62)
-29...Elena Vesnina (#24 to #53)
-24...Svetlana Kuznetsova (#3 to #27)
-12...Flavia Pennetta (#12 to #24)
RETIRED...Amelie Mauresmo (#21)

[2009 Top 26-50]
-273...Melinda Czink (#38 to #311)
-91...Aleksandra Wozniak (#35 to #126)
-81...Kateryna Bondarenko (#32 to #113)
-59...Magdalena Rybarikova (#45 to #104)
-49...Sorana Cirstea (#46 to #95)
-45...Anabel Medina-Garrigues (#28 to #73)

[2009 Top 51-100]
-354...Viktoriya Kutuzova (#87 to #441)
-137...Julie Coin (#75 to #212)
-125...Urszula Radwanska (#66 to #191)
-109...Ioana-Raluca Olaru (#73 to #182)
-108...Sania Mirza (#58 to #166)
-102...Anna-Lena Groenefeld (#67 to #169)
-92...Katie O'Brien (#88 to #180)
-78...Jelena Dokic (#57 to #135)

(singles/doubles ranks)
=TOP 25 IN BOTH (5)=
Serena Williams (#4/#11)
Venus Williams (#5/#11)
Nadia Petrova (#15/#8)
Maria Kirilenko (#20/#14)
Flavia Pennetta (#24/#2)
=TOP 50 IN BOTH (+13)=
Vera Zvonareva (#2/#33)
Samantha Stosur (#6/#35)
Francesca Schiavone (#7/#43)
Victoria Azarenka (#10/#44)
Shahar Peer (#13/#24)
Alisa Kleybanova (#25/#42)
Zheng Jie (#26/#16)
Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez (#28/#15)
Roberta Vinci (#38/#40)
Yaroslava Shvedova (#39/#7)
Julia Goerges (#40/#36)
Sara Errani (#43/#32)
Gisela Dulko (#49/#1)

CANADA (1): #80 Marie-Eve Pelletier
GREECE (1): #84 Eleni Daniilidou
INDIA (1): #61 Sania Mirza
NETHERLANDS (1): #75 Michaella Krajicek
NEW ZEALAND (1): #82 Marina Erakovic
SOUTH AFRICA (1): #51 Natalie Grandin
TAIWAN (4): #18 Chan Yung-Jan, #99 Chang Kai-Chen, #28 Chuang Chia-Jung, #48 Hsieh Su-Wei
TURKEY (1): #91 Ipek Senoglu
ZIMBABWE (1): #13 Cara Black

And, hopefully, I didn't flub up any numbers or figures after all that transcribing.

(crosses fingers)

UP NEXT: WTA Yearbook

After that, I'll be taking a short break. I'll be back in December, though (unless news warrants otherwise, of course), when I'll begin my preview series for the 2011 season. Also, once again I'll be participating in (now under-new-management... Aaress, you will be missed) On the Baseline's Players-to-Watch series. will debut my preview of the upcoming campaign of Caroline Wozniacki, who I'll be previewing for the second consecutive year in the series. After the column appears on OTB, it'll show up in a possibly slightly different form on WTA Backspin.

All for now.