Monday, October 10, 2011

Wk.40- The Month of Her Life

Maybe I should start referring to Agnieszka Radwanska as the "Anti-Wozniacki."

Though I've always been left wanting when it's come to A-Rad over the years, I've said for quite a while now that I thought she (after Hingis finally left the game) was the most intelligent player on the court in the WTA. In many ways, this was becuase she was able to win just enough to stay in the Top 10 and occasionally defeat big-name players even while not really extending herself when it came to trying to take control of points and games. She won with smart shots and tactics. Alas, it was never enough for the former junior star to dream of something bigger in her WTA future.

I guess she always frustrated me in the same way that Andy Murray so often has in the past, occasionally showing an ability to effectively go for winners, but usually lacking the will to do it enough to get the most out of her game and the opportunities her defense and stroke-for-stroke consistency continually presents her. In the end, that unwillingness nearly always led to her being drummed out of big events as she was hit off the court by a bigger, more powerful opponent while Radwanska hung back and let it happen. When she "went for something" it was usually out of desperation, and even more rarely worked.

That's changed.

Over the last few months, interestingly enough after one final regrettable public scene by her father after a particularly disappointing loss, Radwanska has seen fit to take advantage of some additional coaching eyes and -- get this -- actually listened to what was being said about her game... and use it on the court. Intelligence, talent and a TRUE willingness to improve are a nice combination, and the "new and improved" A-Rad has proved that in spades. First with a short spurt of good play before the U.S. Open, and then with a fabulous run in Asia over the last two weeks. She topped off her "A-Rad, version 2.0" show in the Beijing final against Andrea Petkovic. It was the best match I've ever seen her play. It was even -- gasp! -- an entertaining sight for a certain Backspinner's eyes.

Radwanska won a tough, hard-fought 1st set by only committing four unforced errors. Nothing new there. But she also HIT twenty winners, and used her recently-notably better 1st serve to good effect in several harrowing service games. The effort in Beijing and elsewhere was possibly too much for her in the 2nd, though, as she was visibly drained and dropped the stanza at love. But Radwanska didn't let the German back her into a corner with her power. Instead, while Petkovic (naturally) took control of some points with her bigger overall game, A-Rad also took HER shots and produced enough winners to stay even throughout the 3rd set. After maneuvering herself into position to win the match, she served it out with a (particularly effective, not to mention symbolic for 2.0) big 1st serve on match point.

It's been an interesting comparison between Wozniacki and Radwanska in recent months and weeks. C-Woz has talked a good game about being more aggressive, but A-Rad has actually done it. While the Dane has had a series of disappointing losses since the start of summer, A-Rad has put together the best stretch of her career. Maybe their paths have been different because Radwanska has actually been committed to being what she's been told she CAN be. One gets the sense that any of C-Woz's attempts to change have ultimately felt "forced" and that she generally doesn't want to change, even if her the slam success she hears about so often hasn't come via the "old" style. Such success may not come for the Pole, either... but she's at least made the decision to go "all in," taking a few coaching tips and expertly weaving them into her existing game. I found it rather interesting how matter-of-factly Radwanska said this weekend that she'd wanted to add some aggression to her gameplan in the final. With Wozniacki, it's always some big (exhausting) master plan that's currently in the planning stages, but very little ever changes.

There's something to be said for just going out and doing what you say you're going to do. No drama. No press room antics. No Yale football team photo ops. Just tennis. I suppose Agnieszka has had more than enough drama in her life, so the need to court it isn't in the front of her mind. No matter how she arrived here -- and who knows where A-Rad would be right now if she hadn't rightly recognized "the last straw" with her dad earlier this summer -- it's not a bad landing spot at the moment.

I've always droned on about desiring players to take a chance (and the initiative) to be the very best that they can be (even the great Steffi Graf back in the day, who never saw fit to add some net play to her backcourt style -- though she might have eventually had to in order to overtake Monica Seles had the Yugoslav not been taken out of the game via a German lathe operator). It's pretty obvious right now that A-Rad has taken such a path to heart. That being the case, I'm surely willing to wipe "our previous slate" clean and start anew with her. After watching her in the Beijing final, I'm thinking that maybe this "early-stage transformation" isn't a mirage, and quite possibly a new name can be added to the "what if?" scenarios for the 2012 season. If I can give Kim Clijsters a "second chance" (even if it was part tongue-in-cheek, part survival tactic), I can certainly do the same for A-Rad.

Now, Agnieszka, just please don't make me regret it, all right?

*September/October Awards - Wk.37-40*
1. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
..."fashionably late" to the 2011 party, she's been the most fresh down the stretch
2. Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
...oh, where have they been for all of each other's tennis lives?
3. Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP
...5-0 in tour singles finals the last three seasons
4. Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik, CZE/SLO
...added Beijing title to Wimbledon crown, and are putting some heat on world #1 Huber in the rankings
5. Ksenia Pervak/RUS, Chanelle Scheepers/RSA & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova/CZE
...all first-time champions since the U.S. Open

RISERS: Andrea Petkovic/GER, Maria Kirilenko/RUS & Vera Zvonareva/RUS
SURPRISES: Vania King/USA, Eva Birnerova/CZE & Sofia Arvidsson/SWE
VETERANS: Natalie Grandin/Vladimira Uhlirova (RSA/CZE), Flavia Pennetta/ITA & Zheng Jie/CHN
COMEBACKS: Kaia Kanepi/EST, Urszula Radwanska/POL & Ana Ivanovic/SRB
FRESH FACES: Monica Niculescu/ROU, Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK & Tamira Paszek/AUT
DOWN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN, Petra Kvitova/CZE & Li Na/CHN
JUNIORS: Australian Junior Fed Cup Team (Ashleigh Barty/Belinda Woolcock), Natalija Kostic/SRB & Alexandra Kiick/USA

1. Sorana Cirstea, ROU
2. Romina Oprandi, ITA
3. Silvia Soler-Espinosa, ESP
4. Anastasiya Yakimova, BLR
5. Iryna Bremond, FRA
6. Tamaryn Hendler, BEL
7. Casey Dellacqua, AUS
8. Julia Mayr, ITA
9. Nastassja Burnett, ITA
10. Mona Barthel, GER
11. Alexandra Panova, RUS
12. Chieh-Yu Hsu, USA
13. Dinah Pfizenmaier, GER
14. Maria Irigoyen, ARG
15. Ximena Hermoso, MEX
HM- Varvara Lepchenko, USA

Agnieszka Radwanska reels off eleven straight wins, claiming back-to-back Premier events in Tokyo and Beijing and reclaiming a spot in the Top 10

Beijing Final - A.Radwanska d. Petkovic
Finally, after so many matches determined by one player's implosion or an attack of nerves, two women played like they meant it. In the end, A-Rad meant it more.

Tokyo 2nd Rd - Kirilenko d. Stosur 6-2/4-6/6-4
Beijing 2nd Rd - Kirilenko d. Stosur 7-5/1-6/7-5

...somehow, I still think Maria would rather have won their U.S. Open battle (with or without the 32-point tie-break).

Tokyo SF - Zvonareva d. Kvitova
Still trying to recapture her SW19 magic, the Czech raced to scary-looking 4-0 and 5-1 leads, and held three set points, only to collapse in very Novotna-esque fashion, making her own past "bad stretches" look tame by comparison with this one.

Beijng 2nd Rd - Arvidsson d. Kvitova
Kvitova had a chance to quickly put her Japanese doozy out of sight, out of mind. Umm, nope. That didn't work.

Ksenia Pervak: the most recent Hordette to notch her first career title
Chanelle Scheepers: the first woman from South Africa to win a tour singles title since Amanda Coetzer in 2003
Natalie Grandin: another South African, but one who FINALLY won her first career WTA doubles title after having previously gone 0-for-11 in tour finals
Michael Mortensen: now EX-coach of RG champion Li Na
Damir Dokic: once banned, once jailed, more than once left on the tennis scrap heap... and (back???) in his daughter's good graces
Anna Chakvetadze: candidate for the Russian Parliament
Vera Zvonareva: (tastefully) nude in ESPN the Magazine
Dinara Safina: most definitely not yet retired, no matter what Marat says

"Grunting is scientifically proven to add more power. Ask any female tennis player." - "Dwight Schrute" on "The Office" (NBC)

BEIJING, CHINA (Premier $4.5m/hard court outdoor)
S: Agnieszka Radwanska def. Andrea Petkovic 7-5/0-6/6-4
D: Peschke/Srebotnik d. Dulko/Pennetta

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Agnieszka Radwanska/POL

...when A-Rad won Carlsbad before the U.S. Open it was her biggest-ever title. Her Tokyo win topped it. Then she won Beijing this weekend, setting yet another "biggest" mark for her career, and raising her ranking to a career-best (sheesh) #8. After going three years without winning a title, she's now won three in the last few months. Her wins over Zheng Jie, Sofia Arvidsson, Ana Ivanvoic, Flavia Pennetta and Andrea Petkovic ran her win streak to eleven matches, and she became just the third woman since 2005 (Clijsters in Indian Wells & Miami in '05, Wozniacki in the same Tokyo & Beijing events last year) to win back-to-back Tier I/Premier ($2m+) events in successive slots on the WTA schedule.
RISERS: Andrea Petkovic/GER & Maria Kirilenko/RUS
...right before the U.S. Open, Petkovic suffered a slightly torn meniscus in her long-troubled (she missed eight months with an injury in '08) right knee, but she played in Flushing Meadows and reached the QF. After getting wins in Beijing over Lucie Safarova, Carla Suarez-Navarro, Marion Bartoli, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Monica Niculescu, the German faced A-Rad in the final. Late in the 1st, after holding for 4-3 and hitting two winners past A-Rad to open Game #8, Petkovic nearly went down when a seemingly-inocuous move apparently injured that same knee once again. After some tears and some dicey moments (mostly fear-induced, one would expect, as Petkovic probably saw the next six months or more of her career flash before her eyes when she felt the new pain in her knee), though, she came back out and seemed none the worse for wear. She still didn't get her first win over the Pole in five meetings, but her result DID push herself back into the Top 10 for what will be just the second week of her career, and the first time since her nice pre-meniscus run on North American hard courts in early August.
SURPRISE: Sofia Arvidsson/SWE
...immediately after the U.S. Open, Arvidsson got a win in Bastad over Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki was forced to retire from that match, though, so the Swede's "signature win" of 2011 came with a bit of an asterisk. She took care of that in Beijing, taking out Petra Kvitova in three sets in their 2nd Round match-up as the Czech failed to rebound sufficiently (or, at all, really) following her implosion in the Tokyo SF just days earlier.
COMEBACKS: Ana Ivanovic/SRB & Casey Dellacqua/AUS
...a year ago this week, AnaIvo won her first of two late-season titles in Linz, and I held back on any rush to judgment about her being "back." It's become clear in the year (and still more coaching questions) since that the Serb ISN'T "back." But she HAS at least managed to stablize her previous freefall from the top of the game over the past twelve months. She's reached two SF in '11, and has spent recent weeks dropping in and out of the singles Top 20. She had a good week in Beijing, notching wins over Kimiko Date-Krumm, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva, but ended up having to retire from her QF match with Radwanska. The end result? She's perfectly positioned in the #20 slot in the WTA rankings, slightly under her '10 finish of #17 (with her Linz and Bali title points soon to drop off). Still, even with a lower year-ending ranking, AnaIvo can look forward to 2012 with the knowledge that the "panic phase" of her career seems to be over. But, of course, that doesn't mean that her "champion phase" is all that much closer to producing a possible sequel. Elsewhere, after not playing a singles match for eleven months after shoulder surgery in early '09 (she fell from a season-ending rank of #55 to #1004), Dellacqua has managed to make her '11 season about the long road back. She started the year by having doubles success with Olivia Rogowska on the ITF circuit, then progressed to finding similar challenger results in singles. This weekend in a $25K in Esperance, Australia, Dellacqua claimed her fourth ITF singles title of the season, defeating Rogowska in the final (she also defeated her in a final back in Week 14). Olivia got something for her effort, though, as the pair teamed to win their fifth ITF doubles crown of the year. Dellacqua is currently on a 15-match singles win streak.
VETERANS: Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) & Flavia Pennetta/ITA
...while Liezel Huber has overtaken the pair as the doubles world #1, and Huber & partner Lisa Raymond have recently been cornering the market on big titles, Peschke & Srebotnik used their trip to Beijing to remind everyone that THEY have had the best overall doubles season of all the teams on the WTA tour in '11. Adding their first big Premier title to their Wimbledon crown from this summer, the Czech and Slovene vets closed to within 110 ranking points of #1 Huber by grabbing their tour-best sixth title of the season (and eighth overall as a duo). Meanwhile, the nearly-a-U.S. Open-semifinalist Italian vet Pennetta was a nearly-a-Beijing-singles-finalist last week, as she added to her late summer resurgence in NYC with a string of wins in China over Peng Shuai, Dominika Cibulkova and a big one over world #1 Caroline Wozniacki. Worn down from her battle with the Dane, she fell in the SF (where she's 0-3 in '11) to A-Rad. But she DID reach the doubles final with Gisela Dulko one week after doing the same in Tokyo. Thing is, Flavia was once again a "nearly" posterwoman, as after losing to Huber/Raymond in Week 39, she and Dulko lost to Peschke/Srebotnik this time.
FRESH FACE: Monica Niculescu/ROU
...of late, it's been the 24-year old Niculescu who's been the Swarmette MOST of note. In Beijing, she made it through qualifying (getting wins over Jill Craybas and Misaki Doi), then battled all the way into the SF with additional defeats of Li Na (she HATES to play Romanians), Chanelle Scheepers, Virginie Razzano and Maria Kirilenko. It's Niculescu's second SF result of '11 (the two best results of her career), and it rocketed her ranking from #57 all the way up to #34.
DOWN: Samantha Stosur/AUS
...not wearing expectations well, the U.S. Open champion again lost early last week, falling in the 2nd Round to Maria Kirilenko, the second straight week the Aussie lost to the very same Russian she'd defeated so famously in New York. In Osaka this week, where she gained her very first career title back in '09, Stosur is the #1 seed. Her road to a slam title, in many ways, began in Osaka two years ago. But does what goes around come around? We shall see.
ITF PLAYER: Varvara Lepchenko/USA
...last week, Romina Oprandi won a $50K in Las Vegas, defeating American Alexa Glatch in the final. This weekend in Kansas City's $50K, the Italian was once again played in the final against a Bannerette. This time, though, the result was different. Varvara Lepchenko grabbed the crown with a 6-4/6-1 win, adding a win over Oprandi to her previous victories over Ajla Tomljanovic and Olga Puchkova.
JUNIOR STAR: Natalija Kostic/SRB
...the 17-year old Serb, the #13-ranked junior (and a Girls quarterfinalist at Roland Garros), won her second ITF challenger event of the season, taking the $10K in Pirot, Serbia with a win in the final over her countrywoman Jovana Jaksic.

1. Beijing Final - A.Radwanska d. Petkovic
Easily the best match I've even seen A-Rad play, even with the love 2nd set thrown into the mix, and probably the best-played big match on tour in quite a few months, even while both had trouble holdling serve through a four-consecutive-break string to begin the 3rd. In all, there were 86 winners produced in this match against 45 unforced errors (32/12 for A-Rad, 54/33 for Petkovic), as the match was actually WON rather than LOST as the two women faced off to see which would take the biggest step toward claiming one of the eight spots in the WTA Championship field in Istanbul in a few weeks. Not that a big chance wasn't blown, as the German had break points for a 5-3 lead in the deciding set. But A-Rad held, quickly broke Petkovic, then served out the match, claiming the title with a big 1st serve on match point in a good example of her decision to occasionally employ a little pop in the game in important moments rather than hoping she can lull her opponents to sleep all the way to a title. That hasn't worked so well over the years, but this "new" Radwanska has a bit more going for her. If she can continue this progress in '12, it'll be interesting to see just was she can accomplish.
2. Beijing 3rd Rd - Wozniacki d. Kanepi
Caroline gets revenge for Tokyo.
3. Beijing QF - Pennetta d. Wozniacki
And then this happens. C-Woz served for the match in the 3rd.
4. Beijing 2nd Rd - Kirilenko d. Stosur
Sammy has to be getting a little fed up with this, right? Maybe we'll find out in Osaka, where Kirilenko will be no where to be found.
5. Beijing 3rd Rd - Ivanovic d. Zvonareva
After spending changeovers with her head covered with her usual towel, Vera appeared in ESPN the Magazine's "Body Issue" covering herself with only a well-positioned thigh and forearm.
6. Beijing 2nd Rd - Kanepi walkover Lisicki
Beijing 3rd Rd - Pavlyuchenkova walkover Azarenka
sound familiar?
7. Linz Q1 - Rodina d. Dokic
...6-3 ret.
Speaking of something "familiar" (as in "familial") that makes you want to grab a pillow to drown out the screams, Dokic, apparently at the urging of brother Savo, is now back in Belgrade working with Damir. This result wasn't exactly the rousing start possibly required to keep the old relationship wolves at bay in this continually twisting (and twisted) story, as Jelena once played in both the Linz singles and doubles finals in the same year (2001) back in one of her previous tennis lives. At least she's in Serbia with boyfriend/fiance Tiko Bikic, so if this whole idea starts to break bad -- and you know it will at some point -- JD should have someone there to talk some sense into her. Sigh... I guess the tennis world just had to "balance itself out," huh? Since A-Rad left behind the constant mental fatigue of her father, I suppose we should have figured that Dokic would then seek to step back into the "line of fire."
8. Linz Q2 - Cirstea d. Soler-Espinosa
Recently, these two met in the final of a $100K challenger in Saint Malo, France. In a somewhat different setting, they faced off again. But the result was the same -- Cirstea won, then went on to qualify for the Linz draw.
9. $10K Antalya Final - Julia Mayr/ITA d. Evelyn Mayr/ITA
The late-season match-ups of sisters continue. Two weeks ago, Julia defeated Evelyn in the semifinals of a challenger in Madrid, as well. Overall, Evelyn has a 9-5 record against her sibling, but Julia has won three of the last four meetings. They teamed to win the doubles, of course.
10. $50K Kofu QF - Erika Sema/JPN d. Yurika Sema/JPN 6-0/4-6/6-3
Osaka Q2 - Erike Sema d. Yurika Sema 5-7/6-0/6-3
Sisters strike (yet) again. Twice, in fact. After playing each other just twice from 2005 until last just recently, the Sema sisters actually did battle twice in just a matter of days last week. Erika now leads the overall series 2-1, and went on to qualify for the Osaka main draw, as well.
HM- $10K Williamsburg Final - Danielle Rose Collins/USA d. Nika Kukharchuk/RUS
In Virginia, the 17-year old American claimed her first career pro title.

**MOST 2011 WTA...**
6...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4...Petra Kvitova, CZE
3...Roberta Vinci, ITA
8...Caroline Wozniacki (6-2)
5...Petra Kvitova (4-1)
4...Maria Sharapova (2-2)
4...Vera Zvonareva (2-2)
4...Marion Bartoli (1-3)
3...Roberta Vinci (3-0)
3...Victoria Azarenka (2-1)
3...Li Na (2-1)
3...Serena Williams (2-1)
3...Kim Clijsters (1-2)
3...Samantha Stosur (1-2)
11...Caroline Wozniacki (8-3)
9...Vera Zvonareva (4-5)
7...Marion Bartoli (3-3 +W)
6...Petra Kvitova (5-1)
6...Maria Sharapova (4-2)
6...Li Na (3-3)
6...Victoria Azarenka (3-3)
5...Samantha Stosur (3-2)
5...Jelena Jankovic (2-3)
5...Anabel Medina-Garrigues (2-3)
5...Peng Shuai (1-4)

3...Kim Clijsters (January-February)
3...Caroline Wozniacki (February-March)
2...Li Na (January)
2...Victoria Azarenka (March-April)
2...Caroline Wozniacki (April)
2...Petra Kvitova (June-July)
2...Polona Hercog (July)
2...Vera Zvonareva (July-August)
2...Serena Williams (July-August)
2 - Victoria Azarenka (Miami & Marbella)
2 - Serena Williams (Stanford & Toronto)
2 - AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (Tokyo & Beijing)

12...Victoria Azarenka, BLR
12...Kim Clijsters, BEL
12...Serena Williams, USA (+6 additional wins after walkover loss)
11...Li Na, CHN
11...Petra Kvitova, CZE (lost $100K challenger match during streak)
11...Sabine Lisicki, GER
11...AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, POL (active streak)
10...Julia Goerges, GER
10...Maria Sharapova, RUS
10...Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

[singles, with world ranks]
DUBAI - #2 Wozniacki d. #23 Kuznetsova
INDIAN WELLS - #1 Wozniacki d. #17 Bartoli
MIAMI - #8 Azarenka d. #13 Sharapova
MADRID - #18 Kvitova d. #5 Azarenka
ROME - #8 Sharapova d. #7 Stosur
TORONTO - #80 S.Williams d. #11 Stosur
CINCINNATI - #7 Sharapova d. #14 Jankovic
TOKYO - #13 A.Radwanska d. #4 Zvonareva
BEIJING - #12 A.Radwanska d. #11 Petkovic
DUBAI - Huber & Martinez-Sanchez
INDIAN WELLS - Mirza & Vesnina
MIAMI - Hantuchova & A.Radwanska
MADRID - Azarenka & Kirilenko
ROME - Peng & Zheng
TORONTO - Huber & Raymond
CINCINNATI - King & Shvedova
TOKYO - Huber & Raymond
BEIJING - Peschke & Srebotnik

Bogota - Han Xu, CHN (def. Goerges 2r, Duque-Marino 1r; to QF)
Bad Gastein - Laura Pous-Tio, ESP (def. Goerges 1r; to QF)
Stanford - Marina Erakovic, NZL (def. Azarenka 2r; to QF)
Toronto - Roberta Vinci, ITA (def. Wozniacki 2r; to QF)
Quebec City - Marina Erakovic, NZL (def. Hantuchova QF, Paszek SF; to F)
Tokyo - Kaia Kanepi, EST (def. Wozniacki 3r; to QF)

[Most Career Titles, by team]
11...Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta (1 in 2011)
8...Iveta Benesoav & Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova (3)
5...Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci (3)
5...Andrea Hlavackova & Lucie Hradecka (1)
3...Liezel Huber & Lisa Raymond (3)
3...Victoria Azarenka & Maria Kirilenko (2)
3...Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova (1)
2...Chuang Chia-Jung & Olga Govortsova (1)
2...Sania Mirza & Elena Vesnina (2)
2...Nuria Llagostera-Vives & Arantxa Parra-Santonja (1)
2...Mariya Koryttseva & Tatiana Poutchek (1)
2...Olga Govortsova & Alla Kudryavtseva (2)
2...Raquel Kops-Jones & Abigail Spears (1)

**2011 WINS OVER WORLD #1**
[all over Wozniacki, by winner's ranking]
#76 - Christina McHale, Cincinnati 2nd Rd.
#73 - Sofia Arvidsson, Bastad 2nd Rd. (ret)
#43 - Kaia Kanepi, Tokyo 3rd Rd.
#32 - Julia Goerges, Stuttgart Final
#31 - Dominika Cibulkova, Sydney 2nd Rd.
#29 - Daniela Hantuchova, Roland Garros 3rd Rd.
#27 - Julia Goerges, Madrid 3rd Rd.
#27 - Serena Williams, U.S. Open SF
#24 - Dominika Cibulkova, Wimbledon 4th Rd.
#23 - Andrea Petkovic, Miami 4th Rd.
#22 - Roberta Vinci, Toronto 2nd Rd.
#11 - Li Na, Australian Open SF
#8 - Maria Sharapova, Rome SF
#3 - Vera Zvonareva, Doha Final

[of 41 weeks]
13...Peng Shuai
13...Serena Williams
13...Venus Williams
8...Nadia Petrova
6...Shahar Peer
4...Maria Kirilenko
CAPS: currently in Top 20/Top 20

5...Iryna Bremond, FRA
5...Andrea Benitez, ARG
4...Nastassja Burnett, ITA
4...Casey Dellacqua, AUS
4...Victoria Larriere, FRA
4...Aleksandrina Naydenova, BUL

48...Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (with Emilio & Javier Sanchez)
32...Nancy Richey (with Cliff)
31...Tracy Austin (with Jeff)
27...Dinara Safina (with Marat Safin)

LINZ, AUSTRIA (Int'l $220K/hard indoor)
10 Final: Ivanovic d. Schnyder
11 Top Seeds: Kvitova/(#2 seed withdrew, #9 Pennetta into place in draw)
10 Doubles Champions: Voracova/Zahlavova-Strycova

#1/wc Kvitova d. #6 Goerges
#4 Pavlyuchenkova d. #9 Pennetta
#1/wc Kvitova d. #4 Pavlyuchenkova

...keeping hope alive.

OSAKA, JAPAN (Int'l $220K/hard outdoor)
10 Final: Tanasugarn d. Date-Krumm
11 Top Seeds: Stosur/Bartoli
10 Doubles Champions: Chang/Osterloh

#1 Stosur d. #5 Gajdosova
#3 Kerber d. King
#1 Stosur d. #3 Kerber

...a rematch of the U.S. Open semifinal. Again, it's not on Ashe Stadium court.

Next up, the season-ending series begins with the "2012 All-Intriguing" line-up. 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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Todd a very well written piece about Aga, where you get an insight in the qualities of Aga - a lot I didn't know too - you've got the hang of her ;-) One could dream of the same things happening to Caroline - she has to cut the coaching thing by her father. He can still be there and do what he's good at, but new things have to come from a new inspiring brain or she'll have a slow meltdown in 2012 - feels sad to say this. As usual you are sharp on the details, but where is Yogi Bear ? ;-) has he gone to his winter quarters?

Tue Oct 11, 02:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Steen said...

I really don't think Caro's problem is stubbornly refusing to become the player, she can be - for the last 6 months it has rather been a matter of stubbornly attempting to become what she CAN'T be. She started the year doing what you, rightly, commend Aga for doing: Adding some offensive twists to her existing game. But though it actually brought quite of bit of success, at some time she apparently grew impatient and instead opted for becoming an all-out agressive player. Well, that just isn't in her genes, and deep down I think she knows it - that is why, whenever things turn tight, she falls back into an ultra-defensive game, far more defensive than anything she used to play.
Thus, at the moment she is alternately all offense and all defense, neither of which is a good idea. So while I agree she needs to develop her game, I think the first step is to get back to square one, to the game she was playing a year ago, and then start building on that foundation. Which is why I disagree with Hoergreen about Piotr needing to go - he was the man who brought her to her old fairly successful style, and in fact I suspect the differences between them this summer has been about him disagreeing with what she has been attempting to do.

Tue Oct 11, 04:46:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Yeah, I agree with you, Steen. Wozniacki sort of has a foot in both sides of the equation -- she either tries to do too much, or too little. The end result: stagnation, then the sort of regression we've seen in recent months. Thing is, she doesn't need to completely change. Just look at A-Rad -- she's added to her game in important ways (next -- that second serve?) while still maintaining her sense of self as a player. She's the same player, just a little bit better... and in a WTA where a few holds of serve can turn a match, that's a lot.

Personally, I don't have any problem with Piotr being there, but from the outside, Wozniacki's path virtually screams to get a little more help. Nothing major, just a new set of (part-time?) eyes that can help her sort through and pinpoint specifically some things she needs to do (don't stand so far back, etc.) rather than her attempting to take on an entirely different mindset (be "aggressive"... even if it means coming in on shots on which you have no business pressing the issue).


I've always "liked" A-Rad personally, but her game frustrated me. Well, maybe I WAS a bit perturbed at her at the U.S. Open a few years ago when she was running around the court before Sharapova served -- I did think all that was pretty close to crossing the "games(wo)manship line." :)

Wed Oct 12, 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Here's what I said after Radwanska beat Sharapova back at the U.S. Open in '07. Some first impressions linger, I guess. :)

Wed Oct 12, 11:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I think Wozniacki is a mystery. There is so much strength, accuracy, focus, and endurance there, but--to quote that song from Funny Girl: "Everything you've got's about right, but the damned thing don't come out right." And I agree with both of you that she tends to be either over-tweaked or under-tweaked. The impression I get is that she isn't taking control of her career, and therein lies the mystery part.

Also, I'd rather watch A-Rad on her worst day than Wozniacki on her best, but that's just my preference.

Wed Oct 12, 12:16:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Funny thought: What if Wozniacki actually lost the number-one ranking? I wonder if she would take off then with less pressure on her?

Wed Oct 12, 03:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...


I've actually thought in the past that that might be the best thing for her career, to end all the microscropic examination of her results/game and prevent her from being reticent to change anythng that's keeping her at #1.

Thu Oct 13, 10:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeppe said...

I'm always tempted to call chauvinism on the suggestion that a female player 'would be better of' if she was ranked lower. Would you ever say that about a male player?

Fri Oct 14, 02:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Well, people don't get the opportunity to go on the "#1 without a slam title" tangent with the men's top-ranked players. I believe Marcelo Rios is the only slam-less #1, and he was only on top for a brief period (6 weeks). As far as the "better off" discussion with Wozniacki goes, at least personally, I think she uses her ranking as an excuse to avoid doing things necessary to improve her game, following the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" line of thinking. If she wasn't ranked #1, she might be more open to (even slight) change that could help her in the long run.

Thing is, most of the truly great players are ALWAYS trying to improve, or should be. Best example: Martina Navratilova.

That said, I surely do think that the pressure put on players like Wozniacki does seem to be different than male counterparts, much like how Serena's -- and Henin's before her -- on-court actions are so often denounced, while similar actions by male players are overlooked or deemed/excused because the male player was simply "being intense."

Fri Oct 14, 04:24:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Rios is the only ATP player I can think of who was number 1 and didn't win a major, but he's in a category all his own :)

Jeppe, I assume you meant to say male chauvinism, because I cannot think of any connection otherwise. Assuming such, I agree with the idea of what Todd is saying, though I question whether a lower ranking would make a lot of difference at this point. Perhaps.

To me--and I may be a minority of one--there's a piece missing in the Wozniacki puzzle. One of the Eurosport writers--I think Simon Reed--said that it isn't mental--that she just doesn't have what it takes, game-wise, to win a major. But it does feel psychological to me (given what I do for a living, a lot of things do, I admit)--something seems to hold Wozniacki back.

I have all manner of crackpot theories about this, but really, I don't know what her story is. She seems awfully defensive (pun perhaps unconsciously intended) to me. I can't figure her out at all. The accuracy of her shot-making is scary-good, but she also tends to unravel if an opponent can keep rallies short (and now, sometimes, even if they are long).

Does Wozniacki need to "start all over?" Has she peaked? I'm interested in what she comes up with next season.

Fri Oct 14, 08:16:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home