Monday, August 01, 2011

Wk.30- Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

After so many other (mostly slam-hosting) cities have been given the honor in years past, last week it was Stanford that drew the "rising of the Phoenix named Serena" card.

Of course, Williams has made an art of rising above various lulls in her career over the past decade. By now, even the likes of Jennifer Capriati and Andre Agassi have to be in awe of her ability to re-form from a pile of seeming ashes on more than one occasion over and over again. Of course, the latest comeback for Serena originates from a far-more-serious place than her others, as her various health scares over the past year not only endangered her career, but maybe even her life.

So, does it mean that THIS comeback will be her grandest of all?

One could surely let the mind wander around the possibility after, in just her third event back, Williams not only won the Stanford title -- her first since Wimbledon '10, and first non-slam/Tour Championship crown since Charleston '08 -- but, in the process, she pretty much showed up a handful of the players who earlier this spring/summer made good use of their slam time in Serena's absence and/or not-quite-yet-ready-for-primetime condition. She opened play in California by double-bageling Anastasia Rodionova, but that was only the start of her stellar play.

Maria Kirilenko, as she often does, managed to coax a 3rd set out of a top player when she faced Serena, but the Russian couldn't defeat Williams. That was bad news for everyone else in the draw. From there, all Serena did was reel off one of the more impressive back-to-back-to-back string of wins by anyone this season. Against Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova in the QF, she allowed just four games in 1:09. Wimbledon semfinalist Sabine Lisicki in the SF? Three games in :59. Then, in the final against her Round of 16 Wimbledon conqueror (and Roland Garros semifinalist), Marion Bartoli, Williams showed that she's already developed some match toughness. Facing down break points for a 5-2, two-break 1st set deficit, Serena survived to end the set by winning five straight games, then won the first five of the 2nd set, too, before finally winning 7-5/6-1. With a new training regimen in place, and a new appreciation for her career on her mind, Williams seems prepared to cross a few t's and dot a few i's before the end of the summer.

So, while we're still waiting to get a post-SW19 look at Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova and catch sight of defending Open champ Kim Clijsters on North American hard courts, not to mention Venus and a certain Dane who continues to exist in the shadows one year after winning the U.S. Open Series title, the question that begs to be asked and answered now is, "Will it even matter what any of them look like one month from now if THIS is just the starting point for where Serena's game will be come early September?"

The WTA was handed some good news in Paris and London when a few different players stepped into the spotlight... but the sort of brilliance that Serena can produce doesn't really care too much about such stepping stones for other players' careers. What they've done lately doesn't mean they still can't serve as stepping stones to the continuation of HER slam legacy.

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA (Premier $721K/hard court outdoor)
S: Serena Williams def. Marion Bartoli 7-5/6-1
D: Azarenka/Kirilenko d. Huber/Raymond

COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND (Int'l $220K/hard court outdoor)
S: Nadia Petrova def. Shahar Peer 7-5/6-2
D: Mirza/Shvedova d. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Serena Williams/USA one fell swoop, Serena's 38th career singles title jumps her ranking from #169 (heh heh... she's the lowest-ranked champion so far this season -- those Tennis Gods are funny sometimes) to #79, wins her very first career "Premier" title (hilarious, "people"...really, stop it!) and forces me to actually say something nice about World Team Tennis (grrrrrrr... okay, enough is enough) since, while Williams hasn''t played a tournament since Wimbledon, surely her abbreviated one-set-at-a-time action for the Washington Kastles served as a nice, not-too-strenuous, way for her to get her game into some sort of groove while not having to risk pushing herself too far too soon in her comeback.
RISERS: Sabine Lisicki/GER & Victoria Azarenka/Maria Kirilenko, BLR/RUS her first action since her Wimbledon semifinal run, Lisicki showed good form in reaching the Stanford semis (her third straight SF-or-better result since her ultra-dramatic Paris collapse against Vera Zvonareva) with wins over Simona Halep, Sam Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska. That good form came to an abrupt halt against Serena, though, when the German seemed tentative against the aura-reclaiming American, but one hopes she'll be better served (no pun intended) by everything that she did BEFORE Williams showed up on the other side of the net. Meanwhile, the team of Azarenka & Kirilenko won the Stanford doubles title, grabbing their second crown of '11 (with Madrid), and third overall as a duo. Both of this year's crowns have come after the pair blew that 6-2/4-1 lead in the Australian Open Doubles final against Dulko/Pennetta.
SURPRISES: Marina Erakovic/NZL & Stepanie Dubois/CAN
...Kiwi Erakovic qualified to get into the Stanford draw, then made the most of her opportunity, reaching the QF with wins over Sofia Arvidsson and #1 seed/defending champion Azarenka. Dubois, for her part, has always put up some of her better results in North America, and last week was no different. The Canadian made her way to the College Park QF with victories over Sania Mirza and Heather Watson before losing a marathon 3:42 match against Tamira Paszek in the Final 8.
COMEBACK: Shahar Peer/ISR took Peer going from one win from being a Top 10er to falling all the way out of the Top 20 -- she entered last week at #24 -- before she finally regained her footing outside Washington, D.C. in College Park. In the inauguaral edition of the event, Peer notched wins over Alla Kudryavtseva, Alberta Brianti and Paszek to reach her eighth career tour final, but her first since Hobart in January '10. Before last week, she'd gone out in the 1st Round of five of her last six events.
VETERAN: Nadia Petrova/RUS

...suffering through a six-week battle with vertigo earlier this season, Petrova saw her ranking slip out of the Top 30 as she essentially became a singles afterthought until putting up a good result at Wimbledon. She said last week that her London performance encouraged her, and it showed in the 29-year old Russian's week in College Park. Entered as a wild card, the #2 seed reached her twenty-first career singles final, winning title #10 with a win in the final over Peer. She also put up wins over Eugenie Bouchard, Bojana Jovanovski and Irina Falconi, and her five total victories finally pushed her season won/lost total above .500 as she grabbed her first title in nearly three years ('08 Quebec City). Oh, Nadia.
FRESH FACES: Irina Falconi/USA & Tamira Paszek/AUT
...former Georgia Tech star Falconi, 21, had a career week in College Park. Ranked #102, the American notched wins over a retiring Shuai Zhang, Olga Govortsova and Virginie Razzano to reach her first career semifinal. She's just the third U.S. woman to advance as far in a WTA event in '11, along with Serena and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Meanwhile, in the same tournament, Paszek reached her first SF of the season with wins over Melanie Oudin, Madison Brengle and Dubois. While the 20-year old's week didn't last quite as long as she'd have hoped, it also lasted far longer than she'd have wished, as it took her 3:42 to finally take down Dubois in the QF. The length of the match in the Maryland heat (and it's been routinely nearly or over a very humid 100-degrees almost every day the last two weeks in these parts) probably hampered her the following day, as, in the SF against Peer, the Austrian served at 5-4 to complete a straight sets win, coming within two points of the final, only to fail to close out the match and then wilt down the stretch in the 3rd.
DOWN: Maria Sharapova/RUS
...there were a few to choose from here from last week. Among them were Oudin (another 1st Round loss, followed by a near-double bagel loss against Elena Baltacha today in Carlsbad) and Azarenka (her doubles titles was a nice rebound, though). But maybe no one's week was more disappointing than Sharapova's. She was just never able to get any sort of traction against Serena in the Stanford QF, barely being able to extend the match beyond an hour as she dropped her sixth straight match against the American (all coming since she upset Serena at Wimbledon and in the Tour Championships in '04). She didn't have an easy time of things before Williams showed up, either, as she had to go three sets to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in her first post-SW19 match. The U.S. Open still seems a good spot for her to complete her comeback... but not if Serena is back to being THE Serena.
ITF PLAYER: Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS
...the 21-year old Hordette, the world #162, became the first Russian to claim a $100K challenger so far in 2011. She won this weekend in Astana, Kazakhstan, defeating the likes of fellow Russians (Alexandra Panova & Yulia Putintseva), a former Russian (Ekaterina Bychkova) and an Uzbeki (Akgul Amanmuradova, in the final) in the process. She also won the doubles title.
...the 15-year old Uzbeki-born Russian began July by winning the G1 German Juniors event, and she ended it this weekend by winning her first career ITF challenger in a $10K in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria. This was the world junior #31's third pro event and, just as she had in the previous two, Kan managed to make it through qualifying and into the main draw. But this time she ended her week with a win, too, taking out Czech Katerina Vankova in the final.

1. Stan QF - S.Williams d. Sharapova 6-1/6-3
Stan SF - S.Williams d. Lisicki 6-1/6-2
in a grand total of 2:08, Williams blew away two of the four fabulous Wimbledon semifinalists from a month ago.
2. Stan Final - S.Williams d. Bartoli
Maybe Bartoli's lack of match play in Stanford -- one opponent retired, and she advanced to the final via a walkover -- caught up to her in the final when she wasn't able to convert on break points that would have given her a 5-2, two-break lead in the 1st set, then failed to serve out the stanza at 5-4. Of course, the woman on the other side of the net probably had something to do with all that, as well.
3. C.Park QF - Paszek d. Dubois
Paszek has now been involved in two of the three longest WTA matches played this season, as this one (at 3:42) went one minute longer than her Wimbledon marathon with Francesca Schiavone. She won both of those matches, by the way.
4. Stan 2nd Rd - Erakovic d. Azarenka
Last year, one day after her family friend, hockey goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, was originally sentenced to thirty days in jail on an extreme DUI charge, Azarenka experienced that concussion/collapse at the U.S. Open. This loss, as the defending champ and #1 seed in Stanford, came right after Khabibulin finally decided to give up fighting the charges and except the 30-day sentence. At least this time Azarenka was able to walk off the court... and pick up a doubles title later in the week.
5. C.Park Final - Petrova d. Peer
Petrova pushed her career record against the Israeli to 6-0, and her tenth career title ties her with Anastasia Myskina on the all-time career title list for Russian women. Nadia is the fourth different Hordette to lift a crown this season, more than any other nation (again, for the umpteenth consecutive season).
6. Stan 1st Rd - S.Williams d. An.Rodionova
This one had the unmistakable look of a "message."
7. C.Park 1st Rd - Bouchard d. Riske
The 17-year old Canadian makes her WTA debut a successful one. Bouchard lost in the 2nd Round to eventual champ Petrova.
8. C.Park 1st Rd - S.Zhang d. Dokic 6-3/6-4
C.Park 2nd Rd - Falconi d. S.Zhang 6-4 ret.
sorry, Jelena. All the good (rare that it is) Backspin pick mojo went to Serena last week, while you got drop-kicked out of the draw by a player who could only last a set in her next outing.
9. Stan 1st Rd - Kirilenko d. Goerges
Goerges is now 2-5 in her last seven matches.
10. C.Park Doubles Final - Azarenka/Kirilenko d. Huber/Raymond
Huber won the '10 Stanford title with Lindsay Davenport.
HM- $25K Vigo Final - Iryna Bremond/FRA d. Julie Coin/FRA
The Pastry wins her fourth ITF crown of the season, one off the circuit lead.

**2011 WTA FINALS**
7...Caroline Wozniacki (5-2)
5...Petra Kvitova (4-1)

**WORST WIN PCT. IN 2011 WTA...**
[finals, 2+]
.000 - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU (0-2)
.000 - Lucie Safarova, CZE (0-2)
.250 - MARION BARTOLI, FRA (1-3)
.333 - Kim Clijsters, BEL (1-2)
.333 - Maria Sharapova, RUS (1-2)
[semifinals, 2+]
.000 - Petra Martic/CRO, Flavia Pennetta/ITA, Klara Zakopalova/CZE (all 0-2)
.200 - Peng Shuai/CHN (1-4)
.250 - Jelena Jankovic/SRB (1-3)
.333 - Julia Goerges/GER, Johanna Larsson/SWE, Sabine Lisicki/GER, Sam Stosur/AUS (all 1-2)
.333 - Vera Zvonareva/RUS (2-4)
.400 - Anabel Medina-Garrigues/ESP (2-3)
NOTE: Cibulkova/SVK is 0-1 in semis, w/ one additional walkover loss

31 - Greta Arn (31 years, 9 months), Alberta Brianti (31 years, 3 weeks)
29 - Lourdes Domingues-Lino, Li Na, NADIA PETROVA, SERENA WILLIAMS
28 - Li Na, Anabel Medina-Garrigues (2), MJ Martinez-Sanchez, Roberta Vinci (3)

#169 SERENA WILLIAMS (Stanford/def. Bartoli)
#138 Irina-Camelia Begu (Marbella/lost to Azarenka)
#109 Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (Bad Gastein/lost to Martinez-Sanchez)
#105 Magdalena Rybarikova (Memphis/def. Marino)
#100 Sabine Lisicki (Birmingham/def. Hantuchova)

[2011 singles champions]
9...Maria Sharapova, 2003-11
5...SERENA WILLIAMS, 2007-11
4...Caroline Wozniacki, 2008-11
4...Vera Zvonareva, 2008-11
3...Victoria Azarenka, 2009-11
3...Kim Clijsters, 2009-11
3...Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, 2009-11
3...Roberta Vinci, 2009-11
STREAKS w/o '11 TITLE: (4) Jankovic, Pennetta & V.Williams; (3) Tanasugarn

Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP (2/2)
Roberta Vinci, ITA (3/3)

[nation w/ most, total different nations w/ champ]
2007: Russia-8, 17 nations
2008: Russia-7, 18 nations
2009: Russia-6, 20 nations
2010: Russia-9, 21 nations
[2011 leaders]
4...Russia (Pavlyuchenkova, Petrova, Sharapova & Zvonareva)
3...Germany (Goerges, Lisicki & Petkovic)
3...Spain (Dominguez-Lino, Martinez-Sanchez & Medina-Garrigues)
2...Australia (Dokic & Gajdosova)
2...Italy (Brianti & Vinci)
2...Slovak Republic (Hantuchova & Rybarikova)
1...10 nations

[singles/doubles, of 31 weeks]
17...Flavia Pennetta, ITA
13...Serena Williams, USA
13...Venus Williams, USA
8...Nadia Petrova, RUS
6...Shahar Peer, ISR
5...PENG SHUAI, CHN (current)
4...Maria Kirilenko, RUS

*July Awards - Wk.27-30*
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
3. Polona Hercog, SLO
4. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
5. Nadia Petrova, RUS
HM- Roberta Vinci/ITA & Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez/ESP

1. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
2. Polona Hercog, SLO
3. Victoria Azarenka/Maria Kirilenko, BLR/RUS
4. Sabine Lisicki, GER
5. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
6. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
7. Marion Bartoli, FRA
8. Lucie Hradecka, CZE
9. Shahar Peer, ISR
10. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
HM- Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL

1. Ksenia Pervak, RUS
2. Ayumi Morita, JPN
3. Irina Falconi, USA
4. Tamira Paszek, AUT
5. Eugenie Bouchard, CAN
6. Sharon Fichman, CAN
7. Lauren Davis, USA
8. Zhang Shuai, CHN
9. Petra Martic, CRO
10. Christina McHale, USA
HM- Johanna Konta/AUS

1. Victoria Kan, RUS
2. Yulia Putintseva, RUS
3. Indy de Vroome, NED
4. Nastja Kolar, SLO
5. Sofiya Kovalets, UKR
HM- Klara Fabikova, CZE

1. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, AUT
2. Petra Cetkovska, CZE
3. Sofia Arvidsson, SWE
4. Johanna Larsson, SWE
5. Mariya Koryttseva, UKR
6. Galina Voskoboeva, KAZ
7. Dia Evtimova, BUL
8. Ximena Hermoso, MEX
9. Stephanie Dubois, CAN
10. Marina Erakovic, NZL
HM- Anastasiya Yakimova, BLR

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
3. Nadia Petrova, RUS
4. Roberta Vinci, ITA
5. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
6. Marion Bartoli, FRA
7. Klara Zakopalova, CZE
8. Laura Pous-Tio, ESP
9. Tatiana Poutchek, BLR
10. Flavia Pennetta, ITA
HM- Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA

1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Shahar Peer, ISR
3. Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR
4. Urszula Radwanska, POL
5. Virginie Razzano, FRA
HM- Sharon Fichman, CAN

1. Julia Goerges, GER
2. Melanie Oudin, USA
3. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
4. Maria Sharapova, RUS
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
HM- Samantha Stosur, AUS

1. Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
2. Pauline Parmentier, FRA
3. Mathilde Johansson, FRA
4. Vitalia Diatchenko, RUS
5. Iryna Bremond, FRA
HM- Veronica Cepede Royg, PAR

Serena Williams wins Stanford, defeating, in straight sets, three players who reached at least the semis at the last two slams
Lucie Hradecka wins her fifth consecutive doubles title in Bad Gastein
The Washington Kastles, led for most of the season by the Williams Sisters, win the World Team Tennis championship, completing the first undefeated (16-0) season in the Billie Jean King-created league's thirty-six seasons

["Sisterhood of the Traveling Marathon Shorts...or is it Longs?"]
In January, Francesca Schiavone won a 4:44 match over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Australian Open Round of 16. At Wimbledon, Schiavone lost to Tamira Paszek in 3:41 in the then-second longest match of the season. In the College Park event, Paszek then defeated Stephanie Dubois in 3:42 to assume the #2 spot on the 2011 marathon list. I suppose this means that every match that Dubois plays the rest of this season should now be red-flagged for possibly being one that will "go the distance."

["Sometimes the Bell Rings for No One"]
In their 1st Round match in Bastad, Caroline Wozniacki and Alize Cornet were interrupted by a cell phone ringing courtside... from inside the Frenchwoman's bag. After Cornet turned off her phone and apologized, she was served out of the match by Wozniacki. One match later, Wozniacki retired from her 2nd Rounder against Sofia Arvidsson.

And, of course, get well soon, Alisa Kleybanova.

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA USA (Premier $721K/hard outdoor)
10 Final: Kuznetsova d. A.Radwanska (San Diego)
11 Top Seeds: Zvonareva/Petkovic
10 Doubles Champions: Kirilenko/Zheng (San Diego)

#12 Lisicki d. #1 Zvonareva
#4 Peng d. #10 Pennetta
#3 A.Radwanska d. #8 Hantuchova
#2 Petkovic d. #11 Kirilenko
#12 Lisicki d. #4 Peng
#2 Petkovic d. #3 A.Radwanska
#12 Lisicki d. #2 Petkovic

...Germany invades California! That is, assuming Lisicki doesn't mentally carry over her semifinal beat down at the hands of Serena to this week.

All for now.

Juump is a free online community that makes it easy to meet people and play more tennis – right in your neighborhood. . With Juump, you can FIND players and groups who play at your favorite courts, MEET players with similar skill levels, interests and schedules, and PLAY more tennis.


Post a Comment

<< Home