Monday, July 11, 2011

Wk.27- Of Karmic Whispers & Ringing Phones

This is normally the sort of week where Backspin is "scrambled," but I figured I'd use this opening space to catch up with a little housekeeping instead.

* -- First, after overlooking it following their Wimbledon title, here's a belated congratulations to Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik for becoming the co-#1 ranked players in the WTA's Doubles rankings. They're the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth women to hold the top spot.

* -- not so belatedly, here's wishing a happy 21st birthday to singles #1 Caroline Wozniacki. Speaking of weeks at #1, this week marks the Dane's 39th in the top position, tying her with Amelie Mauresmo for ninth place on the all-time WTA list. Lindsay Davenport at #8 is a long way off, with 98 weeks to her credit. One would have to (like to?) think that Wozniacki is going to have to better figure out her slam preparation and participation schedule, as well as her on-court gameplan, in order to have a shot at catching the American AND maintaining the top spot. With a little luck, maybe she at least heard the karmic whispers from the Tennis Gods last week in Bastad when she injured her shoulder and had to retire from her 2nd Round match in yet another stop on her worldwide tour. She went to Sweden without father Piotr, so maybe that's a sign that she's aware that she's going to have to make a few changes if she's to attain her slam dreams. In the end, it's going to rest on her shoulders. It's her career, and she'll be the one judged by what she does -- or does not -- accomplish when all is said and done. It's a nice first step into reality, at least. Good for her.

* -- meanwhile, showing how it should be done once again, Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova isn't playing in this week's Bad Gastein event, having pulled out citing the need to rest the same injury that she played with throughout the fortnight in London. Hmmm... so you mean she thought toughing things out in the big event was worth it, but doing so in a smaller one wasn't, meaning she'll be able to take a breath and be better prepared for the hard court season and the U.S. Open? Imagine that. You mean top players are allowed to do that? Wonders never cease. Actions speak louder than words. And while other top players are saying and looking like they MIGHT do the right sort of things to give themselves better shots to win slams, Kvitova is doing -- and actually HAS DONE -- it. Even better for her.

* -- Roberta Vinci for "Ms. Backspin?" Yeah, maybe not in a serious campaign. But still.

and, finally...

* -- before the season, in my loaded-to-the-gills list of predictions I had a whole collection of first-time singles champion picks. Such a thing has been pretty scarce on tour this year, though, as there have only been two first-time WTA title winners so far. But Polona Hercog got her's this past weekend to finally take care of one of my WTA prognostications, so at least I got SOMETHING right. Actually, overall, a few others that HAVE been checked off through the first 27 weeks, as well:

Ons Jabeur (junior slam)
Daria Gavrilova (ITF)
Polona Hercog
Irina Khromacheva (ITF)
Christina McHale (ITF)
Sloane Stephens (ITF)

=UMMM... NOT SO MUCH (so far)=
[WTA only]
Edina Gallovits-Hall
Simona Halep (Fes RU)
Bojana Jovanovski
Johanna Larsson (Bastad RU)
Peng Shuai (Brussels RU)
Urszula Radwanska
Coco Vandeweghe
Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova

But, undaunted, I move forward. Here's my mid-season (semi-updated) short list of second half first-time winners:

Irina-Camelia Begu
Edina Gallovits-Hall
Lucie Hradecka
Peng Shuai
Ksenia Pervak
Caroline Garcia
Krista Hardebeck
An-Sophie Mestach

Okay, I think that almost gets me caught up.

BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l $220K/red clay outdoor)
S: Polona Hercog def. Johanna Larsson 6-4/7-5
D: Dominguez-Lino/Martinez-Sanchez d. Llagostera-Vives/Parra-Santonja

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (Int'l $220K/red clay outdoor)
S: Roberta Vinci def. Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4/1-6/6-4
D: Medina-Garrigues/Rosolska d. Grandin/Uhlirova


...Vinci's late-career rise continues. Right before Wimbledon, she won her first career grass court title. She was back on a more familiar red clay surface in Budapest last week, though, and the result was the same. She won her third singles title of the year -- behind only Wozniacki and Kvitova -- with wins Timea Babos, Klara Zakopalova and Irina-Camelia Begu in the final. For her career, Vinci is now 6-1 in WTA singles finals, with five titles coming in the last three seasons.
RISER: Polona Hercog/SLO

...Hercog lost to Vinci in the Netherlands before Wimbledon, but she joined her in the WTA winner's circle with her first career tour singles title in Bastad. She gots wins over Anna Tatishvili, Aravane Rezai, Vesna Dolonts and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova to reach the final. Then Johanna Larsson, just as she did a couple of weeks ago in the 1st Round at Wimbledon, went down to the Slovenian 20-year old in the final. Hercog is just the second first-time singles winner on tour in '11.
SURPRISES: Sofia Arvidsson/SWE & Johanna Larsson/SWE
...sure, the local fans didn't get to see either Swede win the title in Bastad, but at least one was assured of reaching the final when these two Fed Cup teammates met in one singles semifinal. To get there, Arvidsson had gotten wins over Andrea Hlavackova and Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, as well as a retirement from Caroline Wozniacki; while Larsson had knocked out Alla Kudryavtseva, Vera Dushevina and Lourdes Dominguez-Lino. Larsson got the better of her countrywoman in the SF match-up, but failed to get her first tour singles title (in her second career final) in the final against Hercog.
COMEBACK: Sharon Fichman/CAN
...a couple of years ago, Fichman was questioning whether or not she wanted to continue her pursuit of a tennis career. She decided to go for it, and it's been paying off more and more all the time. This weekend, she won a $50K challenger in Waterloo, Canada. She put up a QF win over Alison Riske, then defeated Julia Boserup in the final. It's Fichman's second ITF title of the season.
VETERAN: Anabel Medina-Garrigues/ESP
...finding her footing on the clay this season after a prolonged bad stretch, AMG pulled double duty in Budapest. In singles, the soon-to-be 29-year old reached the semifinals with wins over Anastasia Pivovarova, Lesia Tsurenko and Sara Errani. It's her fourth SF-or-better result in '11, leading to one singles title. Then, with Alicjia Rosolska, she won the doubles, nabbing her second crown of the season (the 18th of her career).
FRESH FACE: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU
...between Begu and Halep, the Swarmettes have a pair of young players threatening to grab their first singles titles before the end of 2011. Begu's rise this season has been consistent throughout the season. Back in the first few weeks of the year, she won a $100K challenger. After that, she reached another $100K final, advanced (as a qualifier) to her first tour final in Marbella (losing to Victoria Azarenka). Now ranked inside the top 100 (she ended '10 at #214) , Begu reached her second career WTA final in Budapest, notching wins over the likes of veterans (Laura Pous-Tio, Medina-Garrigues), youngsters (Alja Tomljanovic) and surprises (Estrella Cabeza-Candela). Then, in the final, she pushed Vinci to three sets before finally falling.
DOWN: Aravene Rezai/FRA
...the 2010 champ in Bastad, Rezai lost in the 2nd Round this time around to Hercog. Of course, such a vast difference in her results this year compared to last isn't anything new in 2011. A Top 20 player last year, with four tour singles titles to her credit in 2009-10, the Opinionated Pastry's string of consecutive events in which she hasn't been able to win more than a single match has now hit an astounding twenty-two.
ITF PLAYER: Pauline Parmentier/FRA
...the Pastry reached her third $100K challenger final of the season, winning her second title. She notched wins over Carla Suarez-Navarro, Iryna Bremond and Regina Kulikova, then defeated Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in a 1-6/6-4/6-4 final.
...the 15-year old Hordette claimed the German Juniors G1 event in Berlin, taking out American Alexandra Kiick in the quarters, then outlasting Croat Donna Vekic in the final 1-6/6-4/6-0.

1. Bast 1st Rd - Wozniacki d. Cornet
Are we sure Cornet's ringing phone wasn't actually a wrong number, or that it wasn't actually the Tennis Gods trying to get a message through to Wozniacki about how ludicrous it was to have committed to have played in yet another meaningless, poorly-placed-in-the-schedule tournament like this one?
2. Bast 2nd Rd - Arvidsson d. Wozniacki
...2-6/1-0 ret.
Well, they finally got through to her one match later. Ah, but can the Dane take a hint? Maybe... but I'll reserve judgement until I actually see evidence of it before registering a truly optimistic entry in the "Save Our Dane" campaign.
3. Bud Final - Vinci d. Begu
Vinci is the first woman to lift a pair of red clay singles crowns this season. Begu could get an immediate rematch in the 2nd Round in Palermo.
4. Bast Final - Hercog d. Larsson
Slovenia is the fifteenth different nation to produce a tour singles champion in '11.
5. Bast 2nd Rd - Hercog d. Rezai
The '10 champion loses, and her opponent goes on to become the '11 title winner. It's the fifth time it's happened in a WTA tournament this season.

5...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4...Petra Kvitova, CZE
[last 3 seasons]
14...Caroline Wozniacki [3-6-5]
7...Victoria Azarenka [3-2-2]
7...Kim Clijsters [1-5-1]
5...Petra Kvitova [1-0-4]
5...ROBERTA VINCI [1-1-3]
5...Serena Williams [3-2-0]

1.000 - ROBERTA VINCI (3-0)
.800 - Petra Kvitova (4-1)
.714 - Caroline Wozniacki (5-2)
.667 - Victoria Azarenka (2-1)
.667 - Li Na (2-1)
.000 - Marion Bartoli (0-2)
.000 - Lucie Safarova (0-2)
.333 - Kim Clijsters (1-2)
.333 - Maria Sharapova (1-2)

[28 and older]
31...Greta Arn, Alberta Brianti
29...Lourdes Dominguez-Lino, Li Na
28...Anabel Medina-Garrigues, Li Na, ROBERTA VINCI (3)
[21 and younger]
19...Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
20...POLONA HERCOG, Petra Kvitova (2), Caroline Wozniacki (5)
21...Victoria Azarenka (2), Petra Kvitova (2), Sabine Lisicki

**WEEKS AT WTA DOUBLES #1 - as of July 11**
11...Flavia Pennetta
8...Gisela Dulko
7...Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta (co-#1's)
237...Martina Navratilova
163...Cara Black *
147...Liezel Huber *
124...Natasha Zvereva
117...Lisa Raymond *
111...Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
87...Paola Suarez
80...Gigi Fernandez
68...Helena Sukova
67...Jana Novotna
65...Virginia Ruano Pascual
61...Samantha Stosur *
48...Pam Shriver
45...Ai Sugiyama
35...Martina Hingis
32...Lindsay Davenport
24...Gisela Dulko *
18...Flavia Pennetta *
14...Julie Halard-Decugis
10...Anna Kournikova
8...Serena Williams *
8...Venus Williams *
7...Corina Morariu
4...Larisa Savchenko Neiland
4...Kim Clijsters *
3...Rennae Stubbs *
* - active

Auckland - Greta Arn (def. Wickmayer in Final)
Pattaya City- Daniela Hantuchova (def. Zvonareva in SF)
Miami - Victoria Azarenka (def. Clijsters in QF)
Roland Garros - Li Na (def. Schiavone in Final)
BASTAD - POLONA HERCOG (def. Rezai in 2nd Rd.)

**2011 BY NATION**
[finals, w/ wins]
8...Czech Republic (4)
7...Denmark (5), Russia (3)
6...Italy (4)
5...Germany (3)
12...Czech Republic, Italy

**2011 ITF FINALS**
6...Andrea Benitez, ARG (5-1)
6...Aleksandrina Naydenova, BUL (4-2)
5...Luksika Kumkhum, THA (3-2)
[$100K challengers]
3...Pauline Parmentier, FRA (2-1)
2...Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (1-1)
2...Petra Cetkovska, CZE (0-2)

PALERMO, ITALY (Int'l $220K/red clay)
10 Final: Kanepi d. Pennetta
11 Top Seeds: Pennetta/Vinci
10 Doubles Champions: Brianti/Errani

#1 Pennetta d. #7 Hercog
#2 Vinci d. #8 Cetkovska
#2 Vinci d. #1 Pennetta

...she's on a roll.

BAD GASTEIN, AUSTRIA (Int'l $220K/red clay)
10 Final: Goerges d. Bacsinszky
11 Top Seeds: Goerges/Gajdosova
10 Doubles Champions: Hradecka/Medina-Garrigues (Hradecka 2007-10)

#1 Goerges d. #5 Dominguez-Lino
#2 Gajdosova d. #6 Halep
#1 Goerges d. #2 Gajdosova

...back in B.G., where she won her first title a year ago.


FED CUP WG II PLAYOFF (postponed from April)

Japan(H) vs. Argentina(A) -- JPN 4-1

All for now.

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Blogger Todd Spiker said...

If anyone read the original version that was briefly up of this post earlier this evening, it's been slightly revised when it comes to Wozniacki's Piotr-less trip to Bastad, and whether that actually "means anything" or not.

Mon Jul 11, 09:43:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Andrew said...

Just a quick correction- Bad Gastein is in Austria

Tue Jul 12, 10:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Weird. I wonder why I've had it in my head as Germany? Thanks. I'll change that.

Tue Jul 12, 11:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeppe said...

Speaking of corrections, you might want to revisit those winning pcts (not to mention your Bad Gastein picks - strange things are happening up in the Austrian Alps:)

Tue Jul 12, 02:28:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

for real...mass exodus of seeds...

Tue Jul 12, 06:13:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

sooooooooo much respect for Alisa Kleybanova.

best wishes to her.

Sat Jul 16, 05:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...


Hey, what's about 0.083334 between friends? (I still fixed that, though) :D


Exactly. She seems upbeat. So that's good.

Sun Jul 17, 02:14:00 AM EDT  

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