Monday, January 28, 2013

January BSA's: To the Vika Go the Spoils

The debate will rage on about whether or not The Radwanska won ground, lost ground or laid the groundwork for future havoc in Melbourne. But the discussion about who is 2013's first "Player of the Month" is a bit more cut and dry.

And, naturally, it's the one player that has always seemed to be immune to The Rad's evil ways. Some things never change.

*January Awards - Wk.1-4*

1. Victoria Azarenka, BLR ...Vika wasn't perfect. But do we really want her to be? She wasn't exactly mindful of how her actions would be interpreted, either, when her infamous ten-minute medical timeout helped her put away a match she'd essentially dominated from the start in the AO semifinals, save for a few minutes late in the 2nd set. But she wouldn't be Vika if she worried TOO much about such things. Her successful defense of her title in Melbourne wasn't helped along or welcomed by a large groundswell of support. But so what? Azarenka is now a MULTIPLE grand slam champion, has reached three straight hard court slam finals, and her experience weathering the media storm of yet another AO should only serve to help her win a third slam in the near future. At least. One season after opening with a 26-match winning streak, Azarenka has yet to lose in the nine matches (minus the walkover against Serena in Brisbane) she's actually played in 2013.
2. Li Na, CHN
...Li opened the season with a singles title back home in China, then took Carlos Rodriguez to Australia and proved that their coach/pupil pairing is, indeed, as intriguing as it sounded last summer. A dominating win over Maria Sharapova put the veteran in her second career AO final, and third slam, where Li, after injuring her ankle and twice tumbling to the court, became just the second woman (along with herself in Melbourne two years ago) in the last twenty-six slam finals to win the 1st set, but lose the match.
3. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
...for a while, A-Rad seemed unbeatable. Probably because she was. She opened her season by winning back-to-back titles without dropping a set, then reached the AO quarterfinals before oddly going out to Li while displaying little of the fight she's shown while climbing the rankings in the last year and a half.
4. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
...even as the #1 seeds, and with a hard court slam title in hand, the Italians weren't expected to contend for the AO crown. Of course, that was because the Williams Sisters were in their section of the draw. After seeing both Venus and Serena fail to serve out a straight sets win, Errani & Vinci came storming back to take the match, and then a third slam title to go along with their 2012 runs in Paris and Flushing Meadows.
5. Serena Williams, USA
...carrying over her dominance from last season, Serena breezed to a title in Brisbane. A rolled ankle in the 1st Round in Melbourne kicked off what she called the worst slam experience of her career. A doubles loss followed, along with a back injury and QF upset (for the first time ever) at the hands of an American younger than herself. Still, she was set to become the oldest-ever WTA singles #1 at 31... and then Azarenka came back from a set down to defend her title and retain the spot. The field might be smart to go ahead and start worrying about what Serena will do at Roland Garros to put this AO out of her mind.
6. Sloane Stephens, USA
...after waiting patiently for her arrival, the first actual sightings of "Future Sloane" took place Down Under, as the 19-year old reached two semifinals, including one at the Australian Open, became a sudden star by upsetting Serena Williams, and then an "honorary Aussie" because she wasn't Vika Azarenka.
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS
...she was the toast of the Aussie Open, losing a record-low total of nine games en route to the semis. Then she got run over by Li.
8. Elena Vesnina, RUS
...after going 0-6 in tour singles final, Vesnina finally got her first title in Hobart. She then followed up with a Round of 16 run in Melbourne, along with a doubles SF.
9. Jamie Hampton, USA
...before Stephens stole her thunder, Hampton was the Bannerette-with-the-mostest this January, reaching her first tour SF in Auckland by knocking off a defending champion (Zheng Jie) and holding a set point against A-Rad in a two tie-break loss. In Melbourne, she outplayed eventual champ Azarenka, going up a break in the 3rd before a chronic back injury spelled her eventual doom.
10. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
...set aside the Slovak's double-melon loss to A-Rad and 2nd Round AO loss. Cibulkova's run to the Sydney final, which included three Top 10 wins (including Kvitova & Kerber), will surely go down as one of the best non-title winning weeks of the season.
HM- Ana Konjuh, CRO
...after ending the '12 season by sweeping the Girls titles at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl events, the 15-year old Croat became the third straight Australian Open junior to sweep both the singles and doubles titles in Melbourne. Konjuh is the first Girls slam winner from Croatia in fifteen years, and she's the new #1 junior in the world.

1. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
2. Elena Vesnina, RUS
3. Dominika Cibulkova, SVK
4. Yanina Wickmayer, BEL
5. Angelique Kerber, GER
6. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
7. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
8. Monica Niculescu, ROU
9. Bojana Jovanovski, SRB
10. Heather Watson, GBR
HM- Ayumi Morita, JPN

1. Sloane Stephens, USA
2. Jamie Hampton, USA
3. Laura Robson, GBR
4. Madison Keys, USA
5. Mona Barthel, GER
6. Lesia Tsurenko, UKR
7. Ksenia Pervak, KAZ
8. Ashleigh Barty, AUS
9. Donna Vekic, CRO
10. Annika Beck, GER
11. Daria Gavrilova, RUS
12. Kristina Mladenovic, FRA
13. Garbine Muguruza & Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP/ESP
14. Yulia Putintseva, KAZ
15. Karolina Pliskova, CZE

1. Ana Konjuh, CRO
2. Katerina Siniakova, CZE
3. Elizaveta Kulichkova, RUS
4. Anett Kontaveit, EST
5. Antonia Lottner, GER
6. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
7. Jelena Ostapenko, LAT
8. Christina Makarova, USA
9. Ana Konjuh & Carol Zhao, CRO/CAN
10. Elise Mertens, BEL

1. Maria Joao Koehler, POR
2. Luksika Kumkhum, THA
3. Jarmila Gajdosova, AUS
4. Ashleigh Barty & Casey Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
5. Chan Hao-Ching & Chan Yung-Jan, TPE/TPE
HM- Valeria Savinykh, RUS

1. Li Na, CHN
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Klara Zakopalova, CZE
4. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
5. Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
6. Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
7. Nadia Petrova & Katarina Srebotnik, RUS/SLO
8. Sania Mirza & Bethanie Mattek-Sands, IND/USA
9. Kimiko Date-Krumm, JPN
10. Cara Black, ZIM
HM- Greta Arn, HUN

1. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
2. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
3. Cara Black, ZIM
4. Alize Cornet, FRA
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN

1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Andrea Petkovic, GER
3. Samantha Stosur, AUS
4. Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
5. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
6. Sabine Lisicki, GER
7. Nadia Petrova, RUS (singles)
8. Sara Errani, ITA (singles)
9. Maria Kirilenko & Lisa Raymond, RUS/USA
10. Lucie Safarova, CZE

1. Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
2. Tadeja Majeric, SLO
3. Julia Kimmelman, GER
4. Sharon Fichman, CAN
5. Tara Moore, GBR

#1 - Errani & Vinci defeat Williams Sisters, then win third Doubles slam in less than seven months
#2 - Victoria Azarenka defends AO title amid swirl of needless controversy
#3 - Agnieszka Radwanska opens season with two-title, 13-match and 26-set winning streaks
#4 - Maria Sharapova drops a record-low nine games from the 1st Rd. through QF at AO
#5 - Ana Konjuh sweeps Girls singles & doubles titles at AO

"I guess I’m pretty tough." - Victoria Azarenka

*WEEK 4*
ITF PLAYER: Alexandra Dulgheru, ROU
...continuing her comeback from surgeries on both knees, the 23-year old Swarmette won her first title since her return, preventing Reka-Luca Jani from winning her third straight '13 ITF crown in the final of this past week's $10K in Antalya, Turkey. Dulgheru was a season-ending Top 30 player as recently as 2010.

1. Paris Q1 - Garcia d. Schiavone
. Francesca has had SUCH better results in Paris in the past.
2. $25K Andrezieux-Boutheon Final - Alison van Uytvanck/BEL d. Ana Vrljic/CRO
. I sure hope they didn't engrave "BLR" on Alison's trophy/plaque for winning this title. Oh, but what a great story it'd give her to tell Vika!

3. $10K Sharm El Sheikh Final - Mayar Sherif/EGY d. Aleksandrina Naydenova/BUL
. Hey, it's not often I get to single out a 16-year old Egyptian who just won her first career title. So here I am doing it now.
HM- $10K Eilat Final - Alla Kudryavtseva/RUS d. Raluca Olaru/ROU
Not that long ago, these two were players to watch on the WTA tour. Now they're playing in a $10K challenger in Israel during the second week of the Australian Open.

Paris Q1 - Arruabarrena-Vecino d. Kr.Pliskova 3-6/6-3/6-3
Paris Q2 - Bertens d. Ka.Pliskova 7-4/7-6
100% of Pliskova sisters agree -- forget Paris

2...Reka-Luca Jani, HUN
2...Julia Kimmelman, GER
2...Tara Moore, GBR

PARIS, FRANCE (Premier $681K/indoor)
12 Final: Kerber d. Bartoli
12 Doubles Champions: Huber/Raymond
13 Top Seeds: Errani/Kvitova

#4 Cibulkova d. #1 Errani
#7 Goerges d. #3 Bartoli
#4 Cibulkova d. #7 Goerges

...a risk, what with Kvitova's past indoor record (even with Petra's recent record on any surface).

PATTAYA, THAILAND (Int'l $235K/hard outdoor)
12 Final: Hantuchova d. Kirilenko (Hantuchova 2011-12 champion)
12 Doubles Champions: Mirza/An.Rodionova
13 Top Seeds: Ivanovic/Kirilenko

#1 Ivanovic d. #3 Hsieh
#7 Vesnina d. #8 Watson
#7 Vesnina d. #1 Ivanovic

...I'll take a flier on the "surging" Russian and probably regret it afterward.

All for now.


Blogger jo shum said...

so after vika's win, the media seems to have soften. well, they have to, she won another major and she is in for a long run, otherwise who else will they write about? i keep thinking this AO experience will her serve really well. she went through roller coaster with her physical and emotional game and came out a winner without at all playing her best tennis. that's precious.

the other thought was, since last year AO, maria is getting more focused, her game is tidier, but somehow i just feel that she is more fragile inside too.

Mon Jan 28, 07:34:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I wonder if Patrick McEnroe got some flack for his overreaction to the whole thing, because he said absolutely nothing about "the incident" during the men's final on ESPN, even when Azarenka was shown on screen. She seemed to be being served up for commentary in that moment, but he didn't take the bait.

Oh, I'm sure the media will pounce again once Vika doesn't go on "the straight and narrow," or whatever some deem to define as that some particular week.

I'm just hoping the fans at the U.S. Open embrace her a bit. By the end of last year's tournament, she seemed to have made a breakthrough on that front. Of all the slams, that's the one that I'd really like to see her become someone that the fans in the stands support. The whole atmosphere of the event seems to be a perfect fit for her.

Mon Jan 28, 01:47:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Patrick M. is like that. In his tennis memoir, he actually took up space criticizing Venus's outfits. Give me a break.

Mon Jan 28, 02:45:00 PM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

well i think that Vika will have a better relationship with people than say Serena/Justine...because she's willing to listen and change. She mentioned something about how what she learned from this situation was that she should explain herself better. Serena/Justine would have never even considered that at age 22. It wasn't until much later that they both opened up more.

Once you let people in, you're bound to get more fans.


PMac. Do not even go there. For someone with so few pro tennis accomplishments (in coaching, as well), he sure is judge-y. Yes, his job is to provide commentary...but it is hardly unbiased. In fact, he often casts aspersions in both passive aggressive and overt ways.

I watched the match he called when Nishikori was taking on Ferrer. Like you could just tell he was judging Kei for a seemingly lackluster performance. But, hello?!?! Kei has knee problems...he's not going to go for the 15th rally shot...especially against Ferrer. It doesn't mean he's not trying.

And don't even get me started on the whole Donald Young incident. I cannot believe he held a press conference -- what was the purpose?!?! Only to COVER HIS ASS. That is all. He wanted to make sure that people weren't thinking badly about *his* program. That entire situation should have been handled in house.


Jo -

I agree with you.

I think both Serena and Maria have really cleaned up their games...and as a consequence aren't as good in the tight moments. But that happens when the majority of the time you win comfortably. You become out of practice with the tense moments.

I also think that they understand that the quality of the field is much improved and that they have to play their best to win. That's a much different mentality than before. I think they truly believed that they were better than their opponents...and that belief carried them through tough times.


And I don't like comparing the men's game to the women's game...but we are starting to get some pretty startling similarities.

Azarenka - Djokovic
The terriers with solid ground games and biting backhands.

Serena - Federer
Aging successes.

Kvitova - del Potro
Has the talent/power/credentials to challenge the top...but seems to be fragile mentally and physically.

Kuznetsova - Gael
Have all the shots in the book and athleticism to match...but often don't go for the kill shot. They would rather win artfully.

New one:
Li Na - Tsonga

The game and power to trouble everyone...but never seems to win when it matters.

Still considering:
Wozniacki - Ferrer

There are others, but I'm at work so...

Mon Jan 28, 04:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

Here from SI tennis, finally get some backfire. Haha

The network deserves heat for its treatment of the Azarenka fiasco. It was awkward listening to Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez act as the lead critiques of Azarenka’s controversial win over American darling Stephens when McEnroe is the head of USTA Player Development and Fernandez is the U.S. Fed Cup captain. With the slew of analysts at ESPN’s disposal, those two didn’t need to be the ones expressing their opinions.

Mon Jan 28, 09:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

One would like to think that such criticism would lead to a far more balanced treatment of non-American players with respect to Americans in future slam coverage on the network. But the people at ESPN, -- and not just in its tennis coverage, either -- live in something of a bubble and don't generally do a very good job of policing their own when it comes to things like that (unless they're forced to).

The fact that they were using McEnroe's "bush league" comment in the audio of their controversy-centered promos for the women's final was just a blatant example of their "blind spot."

Speaking of "controversies," I saw a comment in today's USA Today from Stacey Allaster in which she spoke about the Azarenka incident possibly leading to changes in the policy regarding how the WTA handles medical timeouts. She said, "It's definitely a situation that warrants a review based on the controversy it created."

Ummm, no. Or, at least, sort of no.

True, tournament officials have stated that Vika was within the rules. But while the scope of the controversy generated by what she did was absurd, that doesn't mean that the injury timeout rules can't be at least "tightened up" a bit. My problem with that comment from Allaster is that she seems to equally weigh the controversy that occurred with the legitimacy of the arguments to potentially create new rules to deal with similar situations in the future. I mean it's this sort of mindset that could lead the tour to get involved in REALLY stupid issues, like crazily putting devices to measure the noises players make on court because of the "controversy" suddenly kicked up by the media over a reality of the game that has existed for over twenty years.

Oh, wait.

Mon Jan 28, 10:55:00 PM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

Oh really? No respect for WTA organization. This is the opposite to supporting the players and standing firm of what they believe is right. This undermines vika, their no.1 worthy player and gives way to the flimsy media, trying too hard to please everyone. Vicious cycle if they give in every time so easily. Pathetic.

Tue Jan 29, 01:29:00 AM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Sadly, Stacey A. personifies the contribution women make to their own one-down position in this world. God forbid she should get a backbone and serve as a role model to the young women on the tour. How long before the WTA follows the LPGA and gets into the pimping game?

Tue Jan 29, 11:17:00 AM EST  
Blogger jo shum said...

Here is the social media data, am surprised vika has more positive sentiments than negative

Tue Jan 29, 09:12:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dinkie-Di said...

Hmm... Looks like the WTA started to notice something. Look how they call Radwanska on their website.

WTA videos. Hint: look on the right in the 'Find videos by player' section.

A screenshot just in case they fix it before anyone else sees it:
Agnieszka Roma Radwanska.

P.S. I had to edit this comment about ten times. Every time some new mistakes turned up. The Rad is watching me, I fear.

Wed Jan 30, 06:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...


Yeah, I saw that the other day, and wondered what the story behind it was. I did do some checking, and found her referred to as that on a few places, but most were from several years ago or were Polish language, such as this Wikipedia entry. I'm thinking it's either her middle name, or her mother's maiden name.

Still, it's a bit odd that it suddenly showed up like that on the WTA site in just that one place since, at least at this point, it doesn't seem to be a wholesale change in how she'll "officially" be referred to from here on out. Weird.

Oh, and welcome to the club... now that The Rad knows you're onto It, you'll notice little clues about Its presence all over the place. Sleep well, if you can. :D

Wed Jan 30, 11:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Diane said...

Eric, I think your WTA/ATP pairings are on the mark, and I don't think that doing that is "comparing" the tours. It's just a correlation. I think that the Wozniacki/Ferrer (my 2nd favorite player on the tour) pairing is valid in terms of style, but I think (and I'm biased) that David's mental approach is different from Caroline's.

Dinkie-Di, no worries. The Rad is living in my house, I'm quite sure :)

Thu Jan 31, 09:16:00 PM EST  
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