Sunday, May 03, 2015

Wk.17- Ladies and Gentleman, Karolina Has Entered the Building

Up until Week 17, Karolina Pliskova's season had consisted of what amounts to very filling, though ultimately empty, calories. But in Prague, the Czech feasted and managed to plump up her career resume with her overdue first title of 2015.

Nitpicks aside, for all intents and purposes Pliskova has been having a spectacular season. She reached the Sydney final and pushed countrywoman Petra Kvitova in a pair of tight sets, then matched her career-best slam result in Melbourne. Playing in the #1 singles position, she led the Czech Fed Cup team out of the 1st Round in her maiden outing in the lead role and reached the Dubai decider before losing to Simona Halep. Not only that, but the clean-striking, big-serving game of the sometimes-startlingly calm Czech went into this weekend's Prague final against Lucie Hradecka leading the tour -- or in a close second -- in more categories than a Maiden can throw a milkshake out.

When it comes to matches, wins and aces no woman has done more in '15 than Pliskova. Her three finals are tied for the tour lead, while her four semis are in a dead heat for second-best. She's even won the second most points on her 1st serve and recorded the shortest match win (:38), as well as the third-longest (3:13) march to victory.

But through eight events she had no titles to show for her efforts, after having won two in the weeks following the U.S. Open last season.

Finally, though, Pliskova now has some tangible championship hardware to put in her '15 trophy case. Sure, she had to play a trio of three-setters to get it, but the extra work proved to be worth it. Prague saw six quarterfinalist slots filled by Czechs, as well as three in the semis and both finalists (not to mention two more in the doubles final). But none stood as tall -- literally or figuratively -- as the six-foot-one Pliskova. Her fourth career win is her first on clay, after having come up short against Genie Bouchard in the Nurnberg final last spring.

Ladies and gentlemen, Karolina has finally entered the building... and taken a seat in the front row.

At #13 in the rankings, the view is pretty good from there. But you get the sense that the Maiden can still get a little closer to the big stage before the end of this season. There haven't been multiple Czechs in the Top 10 in ages. But Karolina's grasp may yet extend beyond even that next career milestone.

S: Karolina Pliskova/CZE def. Lucie Hradecka/CZE 4-6/7-5/6-3
D: Belinda Bencic/Katerina Siniakova (SUI/CZE) d. Kateryna Bondarenko/Eva Hrdinova (UKR/CZE) 6-2/6-2

S: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Timea Babos/HUN 7-5/7-6(3)
D: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic (HUN/FRA) d. Laura Siegemund/Maryna Zanevska (GER/UKR) 6-1/7-6(5)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Karolina Pliskova/CZE wasn't an easy week for Pliskova, but the end results were sweet. She was taken to three sets in three of her five matches in Prague, having to go the distance to down Tsvetana Pironkova, Denisa Allertova and Lucie Hradecka in the final (while Annika Beck and Yanina Wickmayer fell in straights) to claim career title #4 in her ninth final appearance. It's a good thing, too, as the Czech was really overdue to take home some hardware after putting up such great numbers this season while not actually WINNING anything. In all, this was Pliskova's eighth singles final since the start of the '14 season, more than any player on tour not named Serena (w/ 9) or Simona (also 8) over that stretch. Just like her title-winning counterpart Elina Svitolina, Pliskova has already been able to carry over her momentum to the no-rest-for-you, crazily-scheduled Madrid event. A day after winning in Prague, the Czech was put to work on Sunday against Silvia Soler-Espinosa and recorded a straight sets win to increase her tour-best match win total to 29.

RISERS: Timea Babos/HUN & Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...the BFF's and doubles duo won the title in Prague as a team, but they put up impressive singles results, as well. Babos, courtesy of her win in the semis over Mladenovic, pulled ahead for the week with a trip to her second career final (she was Monterrey '12 champ) and became the first woman this season to play in both the singles and doubles finals of the same event. Mladenovic notched wins over Marina Erakovic, #1-seeded Garbine Muguruza and Lara Arraubarrena en route to her fifth career tour singles semi. Babos knocked off Mona Barthel, Teliana Pereira (ending the Brazilian's long winning streak) and Flavia Pennetta before denying her Pastry friend an appearance in her first tour-level singles final.
SURPRISES: Tereza Smitkova/CZE & Denisa Allertova/CZE
...both of these under-the-radar Czechs notched career-first wins in a Fed Cup tie vs. Canada back in February, and both were grabbing headlines when the tour stopped off in Prague last week, as well. 20-year old Smitkova (world #65), who reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon last year, got her first career Top 20 victory with an upset of fellow Maiden (and #2-seed) Lucie Safarova in the final match to be completed in the 1st Round. She had little time to celebrate, though, as she was back out on the court later that day to play another Czech, Lucie Hradecka. Smitkova led that one 5-1 in the 3rd set, and held three match points, but couldn't make it a two-for-two day. 22-year old Allertova (#103), who got her first career slam main draw win in Melbourne this year, put her wild card into the Prague event to good use, getting wins over Coco Vandeweghe and Alize Cornet to reach the QF.


VETERANS: Lucie Hradecka/CZE & Hsieh Su-Wei/TPE
...Hradecka has been the WTA's clay court workhorse this spring. In Charleston, she qualified and battled all the way to the semis. Last week in Prague, she was at it again. The 29-year old made it through qualifying, then took out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Tereza Smitkova (saving 4 MP), Klara Koukalova and Katerina Siniakova, winning a trio of three-setters in her four main draw matches to reach her first singles final since 2013. Facing countrywoman Karolina Pliskova in the decider, Hradecka was playing in her seventh career final (at least one in four of the last five years, and six of eight). But just as was the case in her previous six finals, the Czech went home with the runner-up's check, dropping to 0-7 in career tour singles finals. Still, her loss to Pliskova was a three-setter, just the second in her seven losses. Hradecka will rise from #74 to #57 in the new rankings, an improvement of exactly 100 spots since since her #157 finish in 2014, and not that far off the career-best ranking of #41 she set in 2011. On the ITF circuit, Hsieh Su-Wei claimed her second singles titles in as many weeks in the $25K in Nanning, China. The 29-year old defeated Sabina Sharipova, Nudnida Luangnam, Klaartje Liebens (I wish she'd win more often -- I've always loved that name), Lauren Embree and Jang Su-Jeong in a 6-2/6-3 final. She's now won 24 career ITF singles crowns (the first came fourteen years ago), as well as a pair of WTA titles in 2012.

COMEBACK: Yanina Wickmayer/BEL & Anastasiya Sevastova/LAT
...once upon a time, Wickmayer was a young player surging up the charts. At 20, in just her seventh slam, she reached the semis of the U.S. Open in 2009. The Belgian won three singles titles from 2009-10, climbed as high as #12 and finished in the Top 30 for four straight years. But she's never quite lived up to that early success. Since that '09 run in NYC, she's yet to reach another slam QF. She's lost in her last four appearances in singles finals since 2011, and hasn't reached one since since 2013. Last season, she followed up her #59 finish in '13 with a ranking of #67, her worst season-ending standing since 2008, in a season that saw her fail to reach a final for the first time since 2007. 2015 has been something of a walk on a tightrope for the Waffle. While the 25-year old won three straight three-setters to reach the Round of 16 at the Australian Open, her best result at a major since 2010, she immediately lost six of seven matches after the accomplishment. She stood at 4-8 on the season and was ranked #92 heading into Prague last week. But then her results bobbed above the surface again. Wickmayer strung together victories over Camila Giorgi, Aleksandra Krunic and Danka Kovinic to reach her first tour-level semifinal since her run on the grass in Eastbourne in 2013. This result will lift her to #82 in the new rankings but, considering what happened after Melbourne, it's more important for Wickmayer to not slide back down the rungs of the ladder that she just managed to climb. On the ITF circuit, Sevastova's comeback from an injury-related early retirement continues to go phenomenally well. This weekend she won the $25K Wiesbaden final over Czech Tereza Martincova 6-1/6-3 to grab a tour-leading fourth title of 2015. It's the Latvian's second straight successful qualifier-to-titlist run, giving her a 13-match winning streak and an overall 25-1 singles mark for the season. Soon, she'll be back in the Top 300.

FRESH FACES: Elina Svitolina/UKR & Belinda Bencic/Katerina Siniakova (SUI/CZE)

...Svitolina is proving to be adept at something very important on the WTA tour -- winning. That's no small thing, either (see Hradecka's 0-7 career mark in finals). The 20-year old Urkainian's title run in Marrakech -- which included wins over Donna Vekic, Christina McHale, Karin Knapp, Anna Schmiedlova and Timea Babos -- gives her a 3-0 mark in tour finals to go along with her 6-2 standing on the ITF circuit. In her three WTA finals, she's yet to lose a set, going six-for-six against three players who'd entered the final already having lifted tour-level singles trophies in their careers. In her eleven pro finals, Svitolona is 5-1 in tie-breakers, including a win in her 7-5/7-6(3) victory this weekend over Babos. She entered the week at a career-best ranking of #25, and will now improve upon that by rising to #21 on Monday. Of course, what with the ridiculous early start in Madrid, Svitolina had to quickly race from her final in Morocco on Saturday to play her 1st Round match in Spain on Sunday. She's in such good form, though, it didn't matter -- she simply destroyed Daniela Hantuchova 6-0/6-3 to advance. Meanwhile, Bencic & Siniakova's weeks ended well together in doubles after very different results in their singles games. A week after saving triple MP in her opening match in Stuttgart, Bencic engaged in another wild 1st Rounder in Prague. Against Ana Konjuh, the player with whom the Swiss split the four 2013 junior slam titles, she saved nine match points (six in a row), then failed to convert three of her own before losing on the Croat's 10th MP. The Swiss is already out of the if-you-got-tickets-for-during-the-week-then-screw-you-since-we-want-to-play-on-a-second-weekend-even-if-it-means-losing-a-third-of-our-star-players-24-hours-into-the-tournament Madrid event for Week 17, losing on Sunday to Ajla Tomljanovic. Siniakova's Prague singles experience included knocking off Irina-Camelia Begu, Polona Hercog and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova en route to her first career WTA singles semi, which she lost in three sets to Lucie Hradecka. The teenagers then combined to take the doubles, becoming the third and fourth teenagers to claim titles on tour in '15. The title is 19-year old Siniakova's second, joining her win last year in Tashkent with Aleksandra Krunic, while it's the first for Bencic as the 18-year old became the youngest champion on tour so far in 2015.

DOWN: Garbine Muguruza/ESP
...the Spaniard's consistency is still wanting. And the consistency of results she HAS had -- that is, when it comes to grabbing early leads and then being unable to close out a match -- hasn't been good. A week after losing despite holding a break lead in the 3rd set (w/ points for a double-break advantage) against Simona Halep, #1-seeded Muguruza lost in a straight sets, double tie-break match vs. Kristina Mladenovic in the 2nd Round in Marrakech. She had a two-break lead at 3-0 in the 1st, only to drop the set in a TB. In the 2nd set breaker, the Spaniard led 3-1 but -- are you sensing a trend? -- lost that one, too. A season ago, Muguruza reached the QF in Paris after handing Serena her worst-ever slam defeat. She was just 5-3 in her clay lead-up to RG last spring, but that included a 3-1 record compiled during a semifinal run in Marrakech. Garbi will need to find her match play elsewhere this time around.
ITF PLAYERS: Zheng Saisai/CHN & Allie Kiick/USA Zheng took home her sixth career ITF circuit title at the $75K in Gifu, Japan. The 21-year old defeated Naomi Broady, Kristyna Pliskova, Mayo Hibi and Naomi Osaka (the 17-year old was going for her maiden crown after opening with a victory over #2 Wang Qiang) in a 3-6/7-5/6-4 final. Meanwhile, in the $50K in Charlottesville, Virginia it was another all-Bannerette final in the second of the USTA's three-event playoff for a wild berth in the Roland Garros main draw. Last week in the Dothan $50K, Katerina Stewart served for the match against Louisa Chirico, getting to within two points of the title, only to lose 7-6(1)/3-6/7-6(0). Wouldn't you know it, Stewart faced off with Chirico again in the 1st Round in Charlottesville. The 17-year old got revenge in the form of a 6-2/0-6/6-3 victory and advanced to the final against Allie Kiick, 19. It was another battle. Stewart saved MP in the 2nd set and forced a 3rd, but Kiick picked up her first ITF title since 2013 (the biggest of her four career title runs) with a 7-5/6-7(3)/7-5 victory. The WC race is super tight and will be decided this coming week in Indian Harbour Beach.

JUNIOR STARS: Paula Badosa Gibert/ESP & the U.S. Junior Fed Cup teams
...17-year old Badosa's 3rd Round run in Miami, which included wins over Petra Cetkovska and Zheng Saisai (as well as a 7-6/6-1 loss to Karolina Pliskova), hinted that the New York City-born Spaniard (hmmm, that could produce some fun moments in the late summer down the line, huh?) might have some big moments within her reach in '15. In the qualifying rounds for this week's event in Madrid, Badosa flashed once again with straight sets wins over Ana Konjuh and Lauren Davis to reach the main draw. But even with all her work in Madrid, Badosa didn't last until Monday, as the stupid weekend play at the event resulted in the teenager retiring just three matches into her 1st Round encounter with Sara Errani. Meanwhile, in Junior Fed Cup action in Boca Raton, the success of the U.S. girls squads (in stark contrast to the mounting disappointments on the next level) continued as both the 14-and-under and 16-and-under squads advanced through qualifying and will play in the 16-team round robin Junior FC finals this September. In the 16's, CiCi Bellis led the U.S. team to an undefeated week along with Michaela Gordon and Kayla Day (doubles). In Bellis' first day of action, the 16-year old took part in a pair of double-bagel wins in singles and doubles. Dominican opponent Penelope Abreau even asked for a photo with the '14 U.S. Open star after the match. And, yes, as noted by Bellis, the photographic moment to remember was indeed a first for the American in her young career. In the most competitive 16's tie vs. Canada, Gordon took out Charlotte Robillard-Millette 6-4/5-7/7-5 after having been forced to a 3rd set when CRM saved match points in the 2nd. On her third attempt, Gordon finally served out the 3:00+ match. In the 14's, Hurricane Tyra Black, Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova lost just 22 games in nine matches. Colette Lewis has a full recap of the final day of the U.S. sweep into all four girls and boys finals at Zoo Tennis.

DOUBLES: Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic (HUN/FRA)
...yep, they're TWO-time award winners in this week's Backspin Player Awards, as the longtime best friends are finally living up to their pedigree as a doubles duo. Despite teaming up quite a bit over the years, Babos & Mladenovic didn't win their first tour title together until earlier this year in Dubai. They grabbed their second this week in Prague, where they also faced off (with Babos prevailing) in the singles semifinal. Their run included an early win over Katowice champs Bonaventure/Schuurs and a straight sets victory in the final over Siegemund/Zanevska. For Mladenovic, it's career title #10, while Babos now has nine. Mladenovic has famously won a slew of titles with different partners during her career (20 mixed/doubles pro crowns with 14 partners), but has rarely produced multiple titles with those players. Win #2 with Babos equals the most titles the Pastry has won with a partner on any level as a pro, and Galina Voskoboeva is the only other woman with whom she's shared two tour level doubles crowns.

Love the caricatures:

1. Prague 1st Rd. - Konjuh d. Bencic
For the second straight week, Bencic engaged in a thriller. This time, though, she wasn't able to pull out the victory. In a battle of two-time 2013 junior slam champs, Konjuh got to match point with a 6-0 lead in the 2nd set tie-break. Bencic saved those six consecutive MP, then three more at 5-4 in the 3rd set as the Croat double-faulted to break herself. Up 6-5 in the 3rd, Bencic actually held three MP of her own, but Konjuh proved that turnabout is more than fair play by saving all three, then finally winning on her own 10th MP. Much as was the case with Bencic's opening win in Stuttgart, Konjuh couldn't get herself up for her next match, which she lost to Klara Koukalova. She's already lost to Paula Badosa in Madrid qualifying, too.

2. Madrid 1st Rd. - Duque d. Watson
Madrid has already provided one scintillating comeback. On Sunday, after dropping the opening set at love, Duque pushed Watson to a 3rd. The Colombian saved three MP at 6-5 in the final set, then two more in the deciding tie-break. On her own sixth MP in the tie-break, Duque finally prevailed.
3. Marr 2nd Rd. - Mladenovic d. Muguruza
Muguruza led by a two breaks at 3-0 in the 1st, lost the advantage, then reclaimed a break lead at 4-3. She lost that, and then the 1st set tie-break. In the 2nd set TB, the Spaniard led 3-1, but lost 8-6 to go down in straight sets. Frustrating.

4. Marr 2nd Rd. - Babos d. Pereira
Babos' victory ended Pereira's multi-circuit 14-match winning streak.
5. Marr Final - Svitolina d. Babos
The youngest singles final of the year -- 20-year old def. 21-year old -- led to Ukraine becoming the 12th nation to produce a tour singles champion in 2015.

6. Prague 1st Rd. - Smitkova d. Safarova 6-3/2-6/6-4
Prague 2nd Rd. - Hradecka d. Smitkova 6-3/4-6/7-6(11)
Smitkova didn't get to celebrate her career-best win over Safarova for long, as she was back out for her 2nd Rounder later in the same day. Jubilation resulted in a 5-1 3rd set advantage, which crumbled to dust after she failed to put away Hradecka after holding four match points. Hradecka won on her own 4th MP.
7. Marr SF - Babos d. Mladenovic 6-4/6-4
Marr Final - Babos/Mladenovic d. Siegemund/Zanevska 6-1/7-6(5)
friends. Briefly on-court frenemies. Then friends/partners again. Felina could never do this dance.

8. Prague 1st Rd. - Zhang Shuai d. Kuznetsova 6-4/6-3
Madrid 1st - Kuznetsova d. Makarova 6-2/6-1
naturally, Sveta benefited from the obtuse scheduling of the start of the Week 17 Madrid event before Week 16 had actually ended in Prague.
9. Prague 1st Rd. - Wickmayer d. Giorgi 4-6/6-3/7-5
Madrid 1st Rd. - Pironkova d. Giorgi 6-1/6-1
this isn't supposed to happen to an Italian on red clay.
10. Marr 2nd Rd. - Arruabarrena d. Puig
PicaPower just wasn't working in Morocco. This happened a hour or so after her loss:

11. Madrid Q1 - Niculescu d. Dabrowski
The ROU/CAN Fed Cup match-up that never happened. But it produced a similar result.
12. Madrid Q1 - Karatantcheva d. Shvedova
This used to be an all-non-Kazakh-born, all-Kazakh match-up.
13. Madrid 1st Rd. - Stephens d. Mattek-Sands
Sloane wins the Mary Joe No-Show Bowl, with the winner getting Serena in the 2nd Round.
14. $10K Heraklion Final - Al Nabhani/Sanchez-Quintanar d. Kawasaki/Negreanu
CSQ lost in the singles SF to eventual champ Zheng Saisai, but grabbed her second '15 doubles title playing alongside Al Nabhani.

15. Madrid 1st Rd. - Cornet d. Halep 7-6(6)/6-3
Madrid 1st Rd. - Sharapova d. Bacsinszky 6-2/6-3
Madrid 1st Rd. - Stosur d. Kerber 4-6/6-3/6-3
Madrid 1st Rd. - Zahlavova-Strycova d. Bouchard 0-6/6-3/6-3
Madrid 1st Rd. - Petkovic d. Pennetta 6-3/7-5
Madrid 1st Rd. - Tomljanovic d. Bencic 6-4/6-3
and if you wanted to actually follow a slew of the "big names" in Madrid this week, you're outta luck. A ton of them were forcibly removed from the tournament on Sunday afternoon. I'm sure the Monday/Tuesday ticket holders who thought they'd have a cornucopia of stars to observe are really happy about it all.
HM- Marr 1st Rd. - McHale d. Hantuchova
The camel ride did the trick! Well, up to a point. McHale lost her next match (but has won her 1st Rounder in Madrid).

Some wins mean more than others and this was a good one for me. Thanks for your support! #wta #marrakech #letsgo

A photo posted by Christina McHale (@christina_mchale) on


TPT's week that was...

"You Don't Know Jack: The Airtime Adventures of Madison & The Sock"

1. Marr QF - Anna Schmiedlova d. Bacsinszky
What was more impressive: Schmiedlova's title run in Katowice, or that she maintained her roll through a Fed Cup weekend (2-0) and then extended her winning streak to ten matches with this win over Bacsinszky? The Swiss was up a break in the 3rd and served at 4-3. Ultimately, she was broken by Schmiedlova to end the match a few games later, ending her eight-match winning streak in three-setters since the Australian Open.
2. Marr SF - Svitolina d. Anna Schmiedlova
These two were born one day apart back in September '94, just won titles three weeks apart... and met on the court here. It wasn't the match we might have expected, but the Slovak was bound to hit the wall at some point.
3. Madrid 1st Rd. - Azarenka d. Venus Williams
An impressive start to Vika's red clay season, as she grabs her second '15 win over Venus before anyone is really even paying attention to the events in Madrid.

4. $50K Charlottesville Q3 - Elizaveta Ianchuk d. Stevenson
Last week, Stevenson defeated Elizaveta's sister Olga in another $50K. Blood revenge served warm? Check.
5. $50K Charlottesville 1st Rd. - Francoise Abanda d. Tornado Black
Continental sisters form different mothers.
6. Prague Final - Karolina Pliskova d. Hradecka
After a drought that extended back to 2009, there have now been a pair of all-Czech finals this year. Both included Pliskova.
7. $75K Gifu QF - Zheng Saisai d. Kristyna Pliskova
Hey, Karolina's early season WTA success folded into Kristyna's recent title-winning runs on the ITF circuit. Now the proverbial shoe is on the other Maiden's foot.
8. Prague QF - Kateryna Bondarenko/Hrdinova d. Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok
...6-7(3)/6-0 [10-5].
A sister was bound to win in Prague. It's just that her non-Czech name wasn't Bondarenko OR Kichenok.

Just finished ??????(hills) I need it some oxygen ????

A video posted by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Meanwhile, on Caro Corner...

Doing the (extra) work. Hey, at least she avoided an opening weekend loss in Madrid. Coincidence? Hmmm.

**2015 #1 SEED WON TITLE**
Shenzhen - Simona Halep (d. Bacsinszky)
Brisbane - Maria Sharapova (d. Ivanovic)
Sydney - Petra Kvitova (d. Ka.Pliskova)
Australian Open - Serena Williams (d. Sharapova)
Dubai - Simona Halep (d. Ka.Pliskova)
Rio - Sara Errani (d. A.Schmiedlova)
Kuala Lumpur - Caroline Wozniacki (d. Dulgheru)
Miami - Serena Williams (d. Suarez-Navarro)
Prague - Karolina Pliskova (d. Hradecka)

**MOST 2015 WTA...**
3...Simona Halep (3-0)
3...Timea Bacsinszky (2-1)
3...Caroline Wozniacki (1-2)
5...Simona Halep (2-2+W)
4...Caroline Wozniacki (3-1)
3...Timea Bacsinszky (3-0)
3...Maria Sharapova (2-0+L)
3...Serena Williams (2-0+L)
3...Angelique Kerber (2-1)
3...Carla Suarez-Navarro (2-1)
3...Andrea Petkovic (1-2)

Sydney - Karolina Pliskova (L)
Hobart - (Q) Madison Brengle (L)
Hobart - Heather Watson (W)
Pattaya - Daniela Hantuchova (W)
Pattaya - Ajla Tomljanovic (L)
Antwerp - Carla Suarez-Navarro (L w/o)
Doha - Lucie Safarova (W)
Doha - (WC) Victoria Azarenka (L)
Kuala Lumpur - Alexandra Dulgheru (L)
Bogota - Teliana Pereira (W)
Stuttgart - Angelique Kerber (W)
Marrakech - Timea Babos (L)
Prague - (Q) Lucie Hradecka (L)

[w/ career W/L]=
Hobart - Madison Brengle (L - 0-1)
Pattaya - Ajla Tomljanovic (L - 0-1)
Rio - Anna Schmiedlova (L - 0-1)
Katowice - Anna Schmiedlova (W - 1-1)
Katowice - Camila Giorgi (L - 0-3)
Bogota - Teliana Pereira (W - 1-0)
Prague - Lucie Hradecka (L - 0-7)

2013: 1 (Italy)
2014: 2 (1-China, 1-Serbia)
2015: 2 (Czech Rebublic)

Miami - Serena Williams, USA (W)
Charleston - Madison Keys, USA (L)
Stuttgart - Angelique Kerber, GER (W)
Prague - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (W)
Prague - Lucie Hradecka, CZE (L)
Shenzhen - Liang/Y.Wang, CHN (L)
Pattaya - Tamarine Tanasugarn, THA (L)
Antwerp - Mestash/Van Uytvanck, BEL (L)
Prague - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (W)
Prague - Eva Hrdinova, CZE (L)

3 - Hingis/Mirza [2 Hard, 1 Green Clay]
2 - Mattek-Sands/Safarova [1 Hard, 1 Red Clay]
2 - Babos/Mladenovic [1 hard, 1 Red Clay]

**CAREER WTA TITLES - active**
[4 titles]=
Dominika Cibulkova (last title: 2014)
Alize Cornet (2014)
Kaia Kanepi (2013)
Sabine Lisicki (2014)
Lisa Raymond (2003)
Aravane Rezai (2010)
Magdalena Rybarikova (2013)
Katarina Srebotnik (2005)
Tamarine Tanasugarn (2010)
Zheng Jie (2012)
[3 titles]=
Timea Bacsinszky (2015=2)
Mona Barthel (2014)
Klara Koukalova (2014)
Michaella Krajicek (2006)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (2014)
Tamira Paszek (2012)
Yanina Wickmayer (2010)

Another week, more birthdays...

Hey, how'd SHE get in there?

More Gibbsian Wisdom:

And the Eternal Sunshine of the Gavrilovian Mind...

MADRID, SPAIN (Premier Mandatory $4.185m/RCO)
14 Final: Sharapova d. Halep
14 Doubles Final: Errani/Vinci d. Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro
15 Top Seeds: S.Williams/Halep

#1 S.Williams d. #15 Errani
#3 Sharapova d. Muguruza (I wouldn't have picked this semi if the 1st Round wasn't already over, though)
#1 S.Williams d. #3 Sharapova

...last year in Madrid we were given a preview of the Roland Garros final that would come a month later. We very well could be treated to a similar scene this time around.

Of course, who knows, since this tournament's cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your face SATURDAY start (and I thought I was "secure" in only detesting events with Sunday starts!) has already decimated much of the field, including '14 finalist Halep, in-form clay court queen Kerber, the killer B's (Bencic, Bacsinszky & Bouchard), Flavia (felled by Petko) and Venus (lost to Vika).

Under normal circumstances, the winner of this event might emerge as the favorite for Paris, but with such a bass-ackwards set-up it's difficult to know for sure. Well, you know, unless Serena wins to keep her undefeated season alive and well, I guess.

At least one person is keeping hope alive. And considering how she's played leading up to Madrid, she NEEDS to.

It only takes one strong mind to get through the work. #trainhard #workhard #playhard #photooftheday

A photo posted by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Hmmm, something seems to be missing from the end of this post...

Nice, Sam. But, no, that's not it.

Sania's first doubles partner is great, too. But, nope.

Ah, there it is! Thanks, Maria.

The latest edition of the Monthly BSA's is up next.

All for now.


Blogger Diane said...

Until such time that Mugu settles her head, Karo Pliskova is "it" (she had to go through a head-settling phase herself). Bencic needs to settle, too. Madison is on her way.

The really fun ones to watch, though--imo--are Svitolina and Schmiedlova! Giorgi and Garcia, too, but they have significant head issues.

Just think, if they were to all stop choking, what an impact they would have on the tour.

Sun May 03, 08:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yep, the next generation is certainly on the cusp of breaking down the door, with Halep (though she's slightly older than the rest) leading the way. But even she still has some head issues on occasion when it comes to putting too much pressure on herself.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if one were to crash through and win a slam before anyone was really expecting them to contend for one. The others would be forced to raise their games or risk being left behind. Then we'd see which ones really had the "it" factor when it came to cutting out the nonsense and just going out and "getting what's hers."

Sun May 03, 09:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

Killer B's -- LOVE IT!

The draw in Madrid is cray.
I want to watch some of these matches, but it's finals week. :(

Mon May 04, 01:27:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

Todd , I was going to see what your picks were but then you got lucky not posting before Sunday ! Haha. Alize is always a nightmarish opponent for everyone, vika winning was a nice little surprise, Bouchard losing not so much though it's hard to imagine that when she had 60 31 lead. Stosur winning a definite eye opener this year, can't wait to see her play. Is she back with her old coach ? That's why she is gathering herself up again?

Mon May 04, 03:21:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And just imagine how much better the draw COULD have been. ;)

Haha! Yeah, I didn't have to change TOO much. I had Serena/Errani, Halep/Pliskova as my original semis, with Kerber in the QF. Once Halep and Kerber dropped off (and Maria won and looked good doing it) I went with her over Caro as my "replacement" pick in the bottom half along with Muguruza (though I have about 0.06% confidence in that one). :)

The reports were that Stosur and David Taylor had reunited about two weeks ago. I'm guessing it's continued... and the results certainly jumped.

Mon May 04, 09:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I admit that I'm not the biggest Bouchard fan...but I rewatched her junior wimbledon final and that version of her is definitely a top tier player. I really feel like besides a few niggling injuries, her problems are mental. She's been up a set a lot...and just hasn't been able to close. I hope that she isn't like Mauresmo and takes 7 years to get back to the top. It's painful to watch.

I think she needs to focus on court position... Her success is dependent on her taking the ball really early. I feel like her shots don't have any penetration or weight anymore. Maybe that's also a timing issue... not sure...

Mon May 04, 10:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

See... Kuznetsova d. Muguruza 6-3/5-7/7-5. As predicted. Well, not really. But in the back of my mind. :)

Mon May 04, 10:13:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

By the way, since Galileo was unable to do an ATP report this week, I decided to chip in with my own ATP Top 10 list after what turned out to be a very eventful week on the men's tour. Here it is.

Mon May 04, 09:58:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Percy said...

Seeing your list of players with 3-4 career WTA titles, I was wondering on the current whereabouts of Aravane Rezai (who actually won Madrid 5 years ago) and the rapper Zheng Jie.

Also, I might be missing something on Alisa K's comeback. :(

Mon May 04, 11:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Well, Rezai hasn't played since early '14, but recent comments seem to point to a comeback soon. She'd said she was hoping to be back in March, but that didn't happened. Rezai has posted videos showing herself practicing in the last week, though, so her return has maybe just been delayed. Here and here.

Kleybanova had a shoulder injury last summer, and has yet to return. I know that while she had success in her comeback, it wasn't as easy thing for her physically to pull it off without being exhausted from the effort. Hopefully she'll be back, but one has to wonder.

Zheng is still ranked #26 in doubles, and reached the AO women's doubles final. But she hasn't played since. She was supposed to have wrist surgery last summer and miss the rest of the year, but she continued to play up until January. So I'm thinking either the wrist is a problem again, or she decided to finally have the surgery.

Tue May 05, 01:06:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

garcia spoiled it! i want to see pliskova vs sharapova. but really garcia played really well. her defense was amazing. good serves too - 12 aces. 40 winners / 18 UEs. mmm, i might just like her chances against maria if she plays as well as she did now.

so...vika vs serena.

caro vs aga.

Tue May 05, 10:46:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Oh, just realized... BZS is no longer BZS. She's just Barbora Strycova again, as she's gotten a divorce and has removed Zahlavova from her name (unlike in many other countries when women hyphenate their names after marriage, Czechs put the married name before the maiden name -- hence, "Zahlavova-Strycova").

Tue May 05, 03:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Nicolas said...

It`s really hard to watch Radwanska`s new game style fail :( She is agressive, she is coming to the net often and at the same time she is pulling some amazing tricky shots. She must be thinking what else can she do?

Wed May 06, 05:47:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

She'll always be Beezus :)

Thu May 07, 03:05:00 PM EDT  

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