Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wk.18- Good Petra, Bad Petra... Happy Petra!!

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Well, here we go again? Right? Petra Kvitova wins something big, we all think even bigger. Then everything comes crashing down a short time later. Not in any disastrous, never-come-this-way-again-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you sort of way. But in disappointing fashion that raises frustrating doubts about our original opinions about her, but doesn't banish all hope from thee who enter these gates.

Oh, Petra. Sometimes you get the idea that the best thing that can happen to Kvitova is for her to become a champion... but that it's always possible that it's the worst thing, too.

Kvitova's run to the title last week in Madrid to claim the second clay court title of her career saw her peak as the tournament moved along, leading to her ultimate destruction of a pair of (albeit compromised, either "Serenativitally" or physically) former Roland Garros champions in Serena Williams (5 games allowed) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (3). With the season's second grand slam just a few weeks away, no player has been able to hold onto any "Queen of Clay" notions for long this spring. So that means Petra, healthy and in-form as mid-May approaches, moves right into the discussion when it comes to Paris contention, where she's been a semifinalist in the past and will enter as a Top 4 seed.

But is she REALLY a Roland Garros "favorite?" And would it be best to de-emphasize that sort of talk... you know, for her own good? Kvitova seems to think so.

“I didn't expect this. No, for sure I'm not feeling as the favorite of the French Open right now. Yeah, I had a great run for sure, but the French Open, it's different. I was there in the semifinal one year, so I know I can play good there,” Kvitova said, perhaps intentionally leaving out any instructions about -- please, for the love of the Tennis Gods! -- not placing those sort of expectations on her shoulders. It usually doesn't turn out well.

Whether it's her asthma, her fitness, or the uncomfortability in the spotlight that has been the culprit, SOMETHING has always seemed to provide a final obstacle that Kvitova hasn't been able to overcome. She even came within two victories of reaching the #1 ranking at the beginning of the 2012 season, only to come up short and re-start the climb all over again.

To her credit, unlike some first-time slam champs in recent seasons, Kvitova has never gone away. She always comes back fighting, reminding everyone why they got so excited about her future in the first place. She's won a second slam title in London, and reached the final four at two other majors. She's won the U.S. Open Series (but not the Open itself), and led the Czech Maidens to three Fed Cup championships.

But, still, it's been a time-honored tradition during Kvitova's career for her to often shine so brightly that she grabs EVERYONE'S attention, then has her results fizzle a bit (well, at least until it's time to dazzle yet again and start the process anew). Just when many are expecting her to finally climb to the tip-top of the sport, winning major titles somewhere other than at the All-England Club, she takes a step back and forces her fans to grapple with just how comfortable they'll be if she's destined to "only" be a great champion at ONE of the four majors.

That's not exactly a "normal" conundrum for an average player, or even a very good one with a resume that was nipping at the heels of being Hall of Fame-worthy before she turned 25. But it's a reality in Kvitova's case because we all KNOW that she has the ability to win everywhere.

Just don't say it too loudly. I mean, you can think about it, but don't go around casually mentioning that the last time she won a title on clay (in 2011) she ended up winning THE biggest grass court tournament in the world for the very first time, so there's evidence that Kvitova showing good form in the spring generally speaks well for her summer. Oh, no... what did I just do?

We never really know whether Good Petra or Bad Petra will be awaiting us around the corner, but we can all agree on one thing. Happy Petra is a delight to see...

Oh, Petra. Don't think TOO much and everything might just work out.

MADRID, SPAIN (Premier Mandatory $4.185m/RCO)
S: Petra Kvitova/CZE def. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS 6-1/6-2
D: Casey Dellacqua/Yaroslava Shvedova (AUS/KAZ) d. Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez-Navarro (ESP/ESP) 6-3/6-7(5) [10-5]

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Petra Kvitova/CZE never knows whether a title-winning week will prove to simply be a case of Kvitova showing what she's capable of, or something much more. Often, it's only a few weeks (or days) before she proves that nothing is ever a "sure-thing" when it comes to predicting her results. Good form and good results don't always like up perfectly for the Czech over multi-tournament stretches, so it's best to simply appreciate the wonderful moments when things go her way... then realize later whether or not any was a stepping stone victory. Or not. Who knows, maybe this win WILL be a prelude to something big, considering that no one seems to want to hold onto the "Queen of Clay" title this spring and Kvitova HAS shown she can go deep in Paris ('12 SF). See, it's just so easy to fall into the trap. In Madrid, Kvitova followed up her '14 semifinal result with her second title (2011) at the event, expertly timing her rise (and likely running into Serena Williams on the perfect day for an "upset"... which you can't ever really be sure a win over Williams is when it's Kvitova pulling off the victory, especially on clay). The Czech's wins over Olga Govortosova, Coco Vandeweghe, Irina-Camelia Begu, Serena (2 & 3) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (1 & 2) paved the way for her sixteenth career title, but just her second ever on the red stuff. Make of it what you will... or won't.

RISERS: Alize Cornet/FRA & Caroline Garcia/FRA
...the Pastries rose, but then they fell, as well. Still, it's difficult to overlook Cornet's impressive start in Madrid last Sunday, where she handed '14 runner-up Simona Halep a 1st Round loss and collected her fourth win over a Top 2 player since last February (and, finally, she got one over someone other than Serena Williams, proving that she's not a one-trick pony who can only beat one top player... and, yes, I'm kidding... sort of). Cornet wasn't able to follow up the upset, though, losing to Roberta Vinci a round later. Garcia, too, flew high, only to be unable to stay at such a high altitude for long. In the 2nd Round, she upended Prague champ Karolina Pliskova, but a round later she wasn't able to hold on in a match against Maria Sharapova that went deep into the 3rd set without either woman gaining a clear advantage. Ultimately, the Russian got a late break and then served out the match at 7-5.
SURPRISES: Marcela Zacarias/MEX, Fernanda Brito/CHI & Alexandra Stevenson/USA
...pretty much all the real surprises took place in the 1st Round in Madrid, so I'll drop down to the ITF circuit for a trio of Week 18 honorees here. First, a pair of singles winners. 21-year old Mexican Zacarias swept the singles and doubles titles at the $15K challenger in Ciudad Obregon to claim both disciplines in an event for the second straight week, running her current combined s/d winning streak to sixteen matches. She took out Vojislava Lukic when the Serb retired down 2-1 in the 3rd set, grabbing career ITF singles title #10 and tying for the 2015 circuit lead with four. Her doubles title was also her fourth of the year. After not playing with her last week (but beating her in both singles and doubles), Zacarias again teamed with successful doubles mate Victoria Rodriguez to win their eighth title as a pair (Zacarias' 12th overall), with all the titles coming since last April. Oh, and after Marcela defeated her in the singles final last week, she did it again in the semis here... so I guess V-Rod's motto for the week was, "If you can't beat her, join her." Zacarias is 7-2 in their career head-to-head.

In the $10K in Villa Maria, Chilean Fernanda Brito defeated Top 15 junior Julieta Lara Estable (the Argentine was playing on home soil) to win her ninth career crown and her third consecutive event this season. The 23-year old burst into the final having won four of the eight sets at love that she'd played during the week, including dropping just one game in her last five sets. Estable got fifteen games off her in the final, but Brito won the deciding 3rd set tie-break 7-2. The third winner here goes to Stevenson, who game up short of actually winning a title. I've sort of jumped on the uptick in the 34-year old's results of late, and it very nearly paid off in the $50K Indian Harbour Beach challenger. Stevenson reached the doubles final with Angelina Gabueva, losing to the top-seeded team of Maria Sanchez & Taylor Townsend 6-0/6-1. But her run is still noteworthy because it's just the sixth professional final she's ever played in, and only the second since 2002. Stevenson lost in the 2009 Carson $50K singles final, but before this weekend that was her only final in the last thirteen years. Her career WTA and ITF finals:

1998 $50K Midland (s) - WON def. S.Reeves
2002 Memphis WTA (s) - RU to L.Raymond
2002 Leipzig WTA (d) - WON partnering S.Williams
2002 Linz WTA (s) - RU to J.Henin
2009 $50K Carson (s) - RU to V.Tetreault
2015 $50K Indian Harbour Beach (d) - RU partnering A.Gabueva

So the last time Stevenson played in a doubles final she did it while being alongside Serena Williams. And in case you were wondering, yes, that is the only women's doubles title ever won by Serena without Venus as her partner. Stevenson came into the week just outside the Top 400 in singles, and at #1270 in doubles. That she put together a doubles run is quite an odd occurrence, as she hasn't even played enough to earn a season-ending ranking for most of the last decade-plus. She was #1026 in 2010, but that's her only year-end doubles rank since 2004. She had three Top 100 double seasons in 2000, '02 and '03.
VETERANS: Maria Sharapova/RUS & Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
...the week didn't quite turn out the way either of these two Original Hordettes might have hoped, but they left Madrid having proven something to themselves. Sharapova had three straight one-and-out results heading into the week, but the defending champ in the event (and at RG) handled Timea Bacsinszky (2 & 3) and Mariana Duque, then outlasted Caroline Garcia and Caroline Wozniacki in a pair of three-setters before losing in straight sets to Kuznetsova in the semis. The win over Wozniacki, in particular, was important for Sharapova, as she strung together back-to-back three-set wins (she won four in a row to take Paris last spring, remember). "This was an important match for me to see where my level is," said Sharapova. It might not be where she'll need it to be to win a third title at Roland Garros, but she's getting closer. Next up: Rome.

Kuznetsova isn't a likely TRUE contender in Paris, but on any given day... well, ANYTHING can happen where she's concerned. In Madrid, that's just what occurred, too. After handling Ekaterina Makarova 2 & 1, Kuznetsova outlasted Garbine Muguruza in three sets, overcame herself (and a game Sam Stosur) in another three-setter, and saved two MP against Lucie Safarova just to reach the semifinals. In all, it took Sveta eleven hours of competition to get through those four matches, and after she'd defeated Sharapova (rather quickly in comparison) for the first time in seven years to reach her first final in nine months, she didn't have much more to give. Against an in-form Petra Kvitova in the final, Kuznetsova was treated by trainers on multiple occasions, played with a strapped leg, had stomach issues and even was allowed to leave the court during the changeover at 5-2 down in the 2nd set of her 6-1/6-2 loss. Whew! Now THAT was a week. Not an easy one for Sveta, but surely super sweet since it came in her "adopted" second home of Spain.

COMEBACKS: Samantha Stosur/AUS & Vika Azarenka/BLR
...Stosur reuniting with former coach David Taylor seemed to pay immediate dividends in Madrid. The Aussie started quickly by ending Angelique Kerber's 11-match winning streak last weekend, then followed up with a victory over Kaia Kanepi. In a losing effort in the 3rd Round, she battled Svetlana Kuznetsova until the bitter end. But she leaves Spain in a good "head space." And that's SUPER important where Stosur is concerned.

Meanwhile, Vika came THIS CLOSE to the first SUPER week of her comeback. Things got off to an impressive start in Madrid with a straight sets win over Venus Williams, her second this season. After taking out Ajla Tomljanovic, Azarenka used her own aggression -- and Serena Williams' in-and-out play -- to put herself in prime position to notch her first win over the world #1 since Cincinnati '13 (when she won an 8-6 3rd set tie-break in the final). But while Vika's game and body are rounding into shape, some of the rough edges of her match toughness are still a work in progress. Remember when she opened her season in January in Brisbane by holding -- but failing to convert -- two MP vs. Karolina Pliskova? The idea then was that that would get ironed out as the season went on. It still might, but it hasn't yet. Against Williams, she squandered a 5-1 lead in the 1st set tie-break and lost the last six points of the set. But she then won the 2nd set and erased a 3-0 3rd set disadvantage, saved a MP at 4-5, then broke serve and soon found herself serving with up triple MP at 6-5, 40/love. Then her service game imploded... but only after nearly emphatically giving her the victory. On MP #3, she seemingly hit a wide ace into the Ad court and started to the net to celebrate, only to have the ball be called out. She was never able to regain her focus. On her second serve, she double-faulted. Then did it again, and a third straight time to break herself to send things to a deciding tie-break. Williams won it 7-1, winning twelve of the final thirteen points of the match after Azarenka was up triple MP. Maybe more troubling than the collapse is that her inability to win tie-breaks extends back ever further than her return to the tour this season. Azarenka is 0-5 in breakers in '15, but is now 0-8 since March 2014. Her last TB win came in the 1st Round of the '14 Australian Open. She's taking the optimistic view, among other things, noting the process of her improvement. "I think an entire tennis career is full of ups and downs," she said in Madrid. "It is very difficult to play 15, 20 years without any physical problems. I take the positive side of things. When I could not play, I had to learn to live within the margins of the competition. When you can play again it feels in an incredible manner. I love tennis. The sport is my passion. My first love."

FRESH FACES: Zheng Saisai/CHN & Katerina Stewart/USA
...Zheng, 21, walked away from Anning, CHN with her second $75K challenger win in as many weeks. The #1 seed in the event and the defending singles champ, Zheng did herself one better by sweeping the singles AND doubles this time around (her first two-title weekend), defeating Han Xinyun in three sets to take the singles, and teaming with Xu Yifan in doubles. It's her 6th career ITF singles title, and 8th in doubles.

In Indian Harbour Beach, the third $50K leg of the USTA's playoff for the reciprocal wild card into the Roland Garros main draw, had a very familiar look. Two weeks ago, Louisa Chirico defeated Katerina Stewart in the Dothan final. A week later, Stewart defeated Chirico en route to the Charlottesville final, which she lost to Allie Kiick. This week, Stewart defeated Kiick en route to her third straight final, where she met and defeated Chirico for a second time during the stretch. Not that it mattered, as Chirico ended up winning the wild card berth in an inane tie-break system that gave it to her because she's ranked higher than Stewart after they "tied" in the playoff standings because only the best two results from the three-event stretch are counted. Ummm, wasn't the point of having this playoff to reward the player who earned the WC through better results over the assigned three-event period? So, it's not really a true "playoff," considering pretty much all of the contending players played in all three events. Apparently, no one thought about a tie-breaker that included the "best points average" over the playoff, which would have given the WC to Stewart.

One has to figure that this loop hole will be fixed like most things associated with the USTA -- after the point which it shouldn't have been something that needed to be corrected in the first place. Not to slight the 18-year old Chirico, who rose through qualifying to reach her second final in three weeks, but 17-year old Stewart, whose win gives her three challenger tittles this season, should be the one assured of making her slam debut later this month (I'm not sure if she'll get a shot in the Q-rounds or not). It seems fairly elementary. But, remember, this is the USTA that still employs Mary Joe Fernandez as its Fed Cup coach and Patrick McEnroe as whatever his title happens to be at the moment. I suppose we should expect unexplainable, head-shaking craziness.

DOWN: Simona Halep/ROU & Serena Williams/USA
...after what happened last Sunday in Madrid, there were quite a few victims to choose from here. But I'm only going with one of the vanquished big names from the Madrid Massacre -- Halep. The Swarmette Queen's best pre-Roland Garros result on red clay last season was her runner-up in Madrid, which set her on course for an appearance (and spirited match against Maria Sharapova) in the final in Paris, which was a rematch of their final in Spain. Halep recently moved past the Russian to reclaim the #2 ranking, but while she's said she doesn't particularly care about passing the Russian, she probably should. At least as far as being the #2 seed at RG is concerned. No matter what form Serena Williams brings to the terre battue, it's always best to be situated as far away on the other side of the draw as possible (and cross your fingers that Sharapova gets stuck in the world #1's half of the draw, too). Losing in the 1st Round in Madrid to Alize Cornet wasn't helpful to the Romanian's cause in this endeavor. Oh, and speaking of Serena... are those whispers about clay not being her best surface again? Her Fed Cup play on the surface wasn't sterling, and while she was dominant at times in Madrid she rightly should have lost early to Vika Azarenka in the 3rd Round after being down triple match point and only getting back into the match because of a barely missed ace on MP #3 and then three straight DF from the Belarusian. Williams barely registered at all against Petra Kvitova in the semifinals, winning just five games to see her string of twenty-seven matches without a defeat come to an end.

This doesn't look good for Serena's chances in Paris. But, still, she's Serena... so it might end up meaning absolutely nothing. Though it's pretty plain that Williams isn't in the top clay court, she's-got-something-to-prove form that she was when she ended her long RG title drought in 2013. For what that's worth... which might not be much in a few weeks.
ITF PLAYERS: Carina Witthoeft/GER & Danka Kovinic/MNE
...a pair of $100K winners. Witthoeft, 20, lived up to her #1 seed in Cagnes-sur-mer, France by winning the biggest title of her career with wins over Nicole Gibbs, Cagla Buyukakcay, Sharon Fichman, Kiki Bertens and Tatjana Maria (Carina's fellow German was going for her second $100K of '15) in a 7-5/6-1 final. Witthoeft had to do some heavy lifting afterward, but it'll just count as an extra sets of reps in the weight room. And I'm sure she's fine with that.

Meanwhile, Jelena Jankovic's Montenegran protege Kovinic, 20, has managed to carry over the momentum of her qualifier-to-quarterfinalist run in Charleston. In Trnava, SVK she won her first career $100K challenger (improving to 7-3 in career ITF finals) after putting up victories over Jelena Ostapenko, #1-seeded Tereza Smitkova, Yanina Wickmayer, Darya Kasatkina and Margarita Gasparyan in a 7-5/6-3 final. Gasparyan, who was going for a singles/doubles sweep in the event, had been 9-0 in career ITF singles finals before the loss, including a 3-0 mark in '15.

JUNIOR STARS: Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov/Priscilla Hon (ESP/AUS) & Hurricane Tyra Black/USA
...keeping up my recent spotlight on the NextGen Spanish players, I'll go with Bolsova, a quarterfinalist in this year's Australian Open junior competition who rose as high as #4 in the girls rankings in 2014. A two-time singles winner on the ITF circuit, the Moldova-born Bolsova reached the singles final at the $10K Pula challenger, losing to Italian Bianca Turati. Bolsova won the doubles with 16-year old Aussie Priscilla Hon, who picked up her third '15 ITF doubles crown. Hon won her maiden pro singles crown at a challenger event in March. Meanwhile, in the Delray Beach Grade 4 junior event, Hurricane Tyra Black followed up her role on the 14-and-under U.S. Fed Cup team with her third title run of the season. Already a winner of a pair of earlier G4 events -- in Barbados and Trinidad -- in April, Black defeated two seeded girls en route to the final, including #1 Karianne Pierre-Louis in the semis (via ret.). The 14-year old defeated fellow Bannerette Taylor Johnson, also 14, 6-3/6-2 in the final. Black now sports an 18-1 record this season. For her part, Johnson had defeated three seeds while seeking her first title.

DOUBLES: Casey Dellacqua/Yaroslava Shvedova (AUS/KAZ) & Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova (USA/CZE)
...Dellacqua & Shvedova proved to be the last team standing in Madrid, becoming the most recent combo to end up in the winner's circle in their debut appearance as a doubles duo. The Aussie-Kazakh team's list of victims was impressive, including the likes of Hsieh/Pennetta, Mattek-Sands/Safarova and Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro in the final, won in a 3rd set super-tiebreak after Dellacqua/Shvedova had failed to convert three MP in the 2nd. The title is the biggest yet for the 30-year old Dellacqua (thanks to her and Ashleigh Barty losing three slam finals in '13), and the fifth of her career. Earlier this season, the Aussie lost in the Charleston final (w/ Darija Jurak) to the team of Hingis/Mirza, who won their first three tournaments as a duo. Shvedova, 27, has appeared in twenty tour doubles finals, and is now undefeated in her last five doubles championship matches. She's won eleven WTA doubles titles with six different partners.

Mattek-Sands & Safarova started the '15 trend of winning big titles in their first pairing when they took the Australian Open crown in January after having never played together before. The duo didn't follow up their Stuttgart title with their third of the season in Madrid, but for a day or two they could have rightly viewed themselves as the best doubles team in the world. Maybe they still do.

In the QF, what looks to be the "most fun" doubles duo on earth took out the #1-ranked Dream Team of Hingis/Mirza, dropping the veteran pair to 15-2 for the season (after a 14-0 start). If BMS/Safarova had gone on to win the title, they'd stood at 15-1. But Dellacqua/Shvedova knocked them out a round later. Still, Bethanie and Lucie were in good spirits soon afterward. What the video to the end... it's more than a bit crazy.


1. Madrid Final - Kvitova d. Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova simply hit the physical wall, though she may have been taken out by the in-form Czech on any occasion. This was just the third clay final (two at this event) of Kvitova's career, while former RG champ Sveta was playing in her 12th. The Russian is now 3-9 in those finals.

2. Madrid 3rd Rd. - Kuznetsova d. Stosur
Kuznetsova held two MP at 5-4 in the 3rd, and two more at 6-5. Between DFs and all the usual Sveta tight match drama, she was lucky to survive. But Kuznetsova has made a career out of doing just that (or threatening to, at least), hasn't she?
3. Madrid QF - Kuznetsova d. Safarova
Safarova led 3-1 and 5-2 in the 2nd set TB, then held two MP at 5-4 in the 3rd. See above about Sveta's survival skills.

4. Madrid QF - Mattek-Sands d. Hingis/Mirza 6-7(5)/6-3 (11-9)
Madrid SF - Dellacqua/Shvedova d. Mattek-Sands/Safarova 5-7/6-3 (10-7)
euphoria is fleeting.
5. Madrid Final - Dellacqua/Shvedova d. Muguruza/Suarez-Navarro
...6-3/6-7(5) (10-5).
Dellacqua/Shvedova had three MP in the 2nd, but were forced to a match tie-break. Muguruza/CSN lost seven of their eight service points in the TB, as the Spaniards repeated their '14 Madrid RU result.
6. Madrid SF - Kuznetsova d. Sharapova
Sveta's words ABOUT Sharapova may be more interesting than the result of their match, as it likely speaks to why she's one of the most popular players on tour. "I believe that people don't have a right to judge her without knowing her. I will tell you even more that I don't think I know her that well. She's really famous and has lots of fame around her, and I think it's the right thing how she takes it. She separates it away and only has close people. Otherwise it's very difficult to be in her situation and to play such a great level of tennis and have so much commercial and to be so popular. It's really hard to combine these two things," Kuznetsova said. "The real Maria, only the real people around her know that. Other people, if she doesn't let them go in her life, doesn't mean that they can tell her that she's bad. I don't believe that." That's why, even with the rollercoaster ride she's often provided her fans over the years, it's easy to root for Sveta.

7. Madrid 2nd Rd. - Pavlyuchenkova d. Errani
I guess the Fed Cup polish has worn off. Errani held three MP here: one serving at 5-4, one serving at 6-5 and a final one up 7-6 in the 2nd set tie-break.

8. Madrid 3rd Rd. - Sharapova d. Garcia
Garcia has gotten close to defeating Sharapova in the past, but she's always comes up a just a bit short. Here Sharapova got a late break for 6-5 in the 3rd and served out the win. Sharapova is 4-0 vs. the Pastry, but this loss was even closer than Garcia's other three-setter in the mix at Roland Garros in 2011. One day, youuuuu. Maybe even this week in Rome.
9. Madrid QF - Sharapova d. Wozniacki
The Dane goes three sets against a top player, but ends up losing. This is what you call a '15 trend.
10. Madrid 3rd Rd. - Suarez-Navarro d. Ivanovic
Stop me if you've heard this before.

HM- $50K Ind.Harbour Beach 1st Rd. - Erica Oosterhout d. Taylor Townsend
The #894-ranked wild card, who'll be a freshman at Harvard for 2015-16, takes down #1-seeded defending champion Townsend. Oosterhout lost her 2nd Round match to Storm Sanders, while Taylor rebounded to take the doubles title with Maria Sanchez.

Maybe Sania Mirza just has a thing about "cute." Remember, she burst onto the scene at the U.S. Open a decade ago with a string of message t-shirts worn during press conferences, including the fabled one that read, "I'm cute? No shi*..."

She stepped back into the "cute" arena this past week...

Just saying ?????????? buuhahahah ????

A photo posted by Sania Mirza (@mirzasaniar) on

No word yet on any t-shirts.

1. Madrid 1st Rd. - Azarenka d. Venus Williams 6-3/7-5
Madrid 3rd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Azarenka 7-6(5)/3-6/7-6(1)
the last time Serena saved 3 MP and won? The '09 Sydney QF vs. Wozniacki. "She almost hit an ace. She missed it by not even three centimeters. I thought, 'Wow.' This is definitely an escape. I've had some other escapes, but I don't think I've been down love/40 on someone's serve before," Serena noted. If she'd won, Vika would have become the first player since 2010 (Jankovic) to defeat both Sisters in the same event.

2. Madrid 2nd Rd. - Serena Williams d. Stephens
Serena has won six of seven sets vs. Sloane since losing to her in the 2013 AO semifinals. Stephens and Sharapova should talk.
3. Madrid 3rd Rd. - Wozniacki d. Aga Radwanska
Two ships passing in the WTA night? Speaking of, due to scheduling/travel difficulties in regards to family commitments, Arantxa Sanchez has left the Wozniacki fold with the promise to return down the line in '16. We'll see.
4. Madrid QF - Serena Williams d. Suarez-Navarro 6-1/6-3
Madrid SF - Kvitova d. Serena Williams 6-2/6-3
the win over CSN was Serena's 27th without a loss (on the court) since the WTA Finals, and her 19th in a row in Madrid. Petra wasn't in awe of the numbers.

5. $50K Fukuoka Final - Kristyna Pliskova d. Hibino
Kristyna answered the call, matching Karolina's Prague title last week with one of her own in Japan. It's the eighth of her career, and her third in four ITF finals in 2015. She also won the doubles with Naomi Broady.
HM- $10K Mytilene SF - Stamatova d. Sara Tomic
Tomic, 17, had defeated #1-seeded Daiana Negreanu in the QF to reach her first career ITF semi.

Meanwhile, on Caro Corner...

More "The Eternal Sunshine of the Gavrilovian Mind"...

And more...

3 - Simona Halep [Shenzhen,Dubai,IW]
2 - Serena Williams [AO,Miami]
2 - Petra Kvitova [Sydney,Madrid]
2 - Angelique Kerber [Charleston,Stuttgart]
2 - Timea Bacsinszky [Acapulco,Monterrey]

**CAREER WTA TITLES - active**
66...Serena Williams
46...Venus Williams
34...Maria Sharapova
23...Caroline Wozniacki
17...Victoria Azarenka
15...Ana Ivanovic
14...Svetlana Kuznetsova
14...Aga Radwanska

23.Caroline Wozniacki (23)
24.Pam Shriver (21)
25t.Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere (19)
25t.Nancy Richey (19)
27t.Victoria Azarenka (17)
27t.Mary Pierce (17)
27t.Kerry Melville Reid (17)
30t.Elena Dementieva (16)
30t.Ann Haydon Jones (16)
33t.Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat (15)
33t.Ana Ivanovic (15)

15 - Timea Bacsinszky, FEB-MAR (ended by S.Williams)
14 - Simona Halep, FEB-ARP (ended by S.Williams)
12 - Serena Williams, JAN-MAR (ended by walkover) #
12 - Serena Williams, MAR-MAY (ended by Kuznetsova) #
11 - Maria Sharapova, JAN (ended by S.Williams)
11 - Angelique Kerber, APR (ended by Stosur)
10 - Anna Schmiedlova, APR-MAY (ended by Svitolina)
# - Williams 24-0 stretch, with walkover loss after 12th victory

34...Serena Williams, 2013
32...Justine Henin, 2007-08
26...Victoria Azarenka, 2012
25...Serena Williams, 2013-14
24...Justine Henin-Hardenne, 2005
Note: S.Williams 27-0 stretch from 2014-15 (walkover loss after victory #15)

Dubai (HC) - #4 Halep def. #18 Ka.Pliskova
Indian Wells (HC) - #3 Halep def. #21 Jankovic
Miami (HC) - #1 S.Williams def. #12 Suarez-Navarro
Madrid (RC) - #4 Kvitova def. #29 Kuznetsova

2013 Shelby Rogers
2014 Taylor Townsend
2015 Louisa Chirico

[since Azarenka reached #1 in January 2012]
2012 Miami - Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Marion Bartoli
2014 Australian Open - Li Na
2014 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova
2014 Montreal - Aga Radwanska
2015 Indian Wells - Simona Halep
2015 Madrid - Petra Kvitova

**2015 ITF TITLES**
4...Anastasija Sevastova, LAT
4...Marcela Zacarias, MEX
3...Fernanda Brito, CHI
3...Margarita Gasparyan, RUS
3...Sofia Kvatsabaia, GEO
3...Kristyna Pliskova, CZE
3...Anne Schaefer, GER
3...Katerina Stewart, USA

Meanwhile, comebacks coming soon to a court near you (Zheng this week in Rome, in fact)...

And another. Hopefully. At some point. She promises. I think.

ROME, ITALY (Premier 5 $2.708m/RCO)
14 Final: S.Williams d. Errani
14 Doubles Final: Peschke/Srebotnik d. Errani/Vinci
15 Top Seeds: S.Williams/Halep

#1 S.Williams d. #7 Ivanovic
Azarenka d. Garcia
#10 Suarez-Navarro d. #4 Kvitova
#2 Halep d. (LL) Mladenovic
Azarenka d. #1 S.Williams
#2 Halep d. #10 Suarez-Navarro
#2 Halep d. Azarenka

...some unconventional picks. Which, of course, means we'll have all four top seed reach the semis, with #1 Serena taking out #2 Halep in the final. That's just the way things go.

And finally...

All for now.


Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Consolation prize: Stewart was given the USTA's wild card into RG qualifying.

Hmmm, I wonder if she reaches the third Q round in Paris if IT'LL count?

Mon May 11, 10:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

Ha! At least they gave her something. There needs to be an actual public protest of this and other USTA nonsense. Of course, if Stewart were to say something, she'd be accused of being "ungracious" and a "sore loser."

Mon May 11, 11:01:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

So, what happens when you have a match-up of players with a history of losing dramatically? Well, maybe the Gajdosova/Vesnina match in Rome.

In the 3rd set, Gajdosova led 3-0, but Vesnina had 2 MP at 5-4. In the tie-break, the two traded off MP chances...

EV 6-5
EV 7-6
JG 8-7
JG 9-8
EV 10-9
JG 11-10
EV 12-11
JG 13-12
EV 14-13
JG 15-14

So, in all, Vesnina failed to convert 7 MP (5 in the TB), while Gajdosova finally won on her 5th MP of the TB to win it 16-14.


(Oh, and she plays Sharapova next.)

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

Of note, Aga dropped out of the Top 10 today, ending her streak of 187 weeks.

The current leaders:

215 - Sharapova
161 - S.Williams
85 - Kvitova
68 - Halep
45 - Bouchard
39 - Ivanovic
36 - Wozniacki
15 - Makarova
2 - Petkovic
1 - Suarez-Navarro

Aga (now #13) still has the longest active Top 20 streak, though:

377 - Radwanska
250 - Wozniacki
239 - Sharapova
223 - Kvitova
190 - S.Williams

Mon May 11, 03:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, so apparently Tracy Austin thinks Venus' match with Siniakova today was her first clay court match of the season and that she hadn't played since Miami.

I guess she missed her loss to Vika in Madrid.

What a conundrum. I just don't know who to take a swipe at: the Madrid organizers who hid the 1st Round last weekend, Tennis Channel's usual only-partly-aware commentary or, let's see, maybe even Mary Joe Fernandez. You see, Austin not knowing that match took place last week would seem to make her more than qualified to be another MJF.

Yep, when it doubt, fire a shot across the bow of Captain Obvious, I always say. :D

Mon May 11, 05:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

I've actually sat a few feet away from a WTA official who had to take time out of her schedule to explain to a commentator who the (top) players were, what their rankings were, and what was going on with them. Remember to always lower your expectations!

Tue May 12, 11:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

I think it's kind of fitting that Petra beat Serena to end those streaks last week since Serena beat Petra to become #1 a few years ago.

Todd, I think that averaging the points is a good idea...couldn't they also look at the H2H between the players for the three events. The person with the best H2H gets the a tiebreaker. I suppose ranking is also somewhat "fair".

Wed May 13, 03:32:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Yeah, head-to-head could be a tie-breaker, but it wouldn't always be applicable. It's a bit atypical that Stewart and Chirico played in all three tournaments, and if Stewart hadn't reached the finals of all three they'd only played in that draw-fluke 1st Round encounter.

Ranking is fair, too, if two players were in a "real" tie for the three-event playoff... which is really a two-event playoff since they only count the best two results... which makes it not-really-a-playoff. When two players are in contention, and one has RU-RU-W set of results vs. one with a W-1st Rd.-RU set of results (not even considering the three matches they played against each other, which would also favor the former player) then they really didn't "tie."

Consider, Stewart went into last week's event leading the Playoff standings, up 96-81 over Chirico and Kiick, who were tied for second. Stewart beat Kiick in he semis, then Chirico in the final to win the title... and lost the wild card berth. Wrong. Well, except in the eyes of the USTA. Naturally.

Wed May 13, 10:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

CSN has been a player transformed since her loss to Genie at last year's FO.

Sat May 16, 10:30:00 PM EDT  

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