Monday, March 09, 2020

Wk.9- To Shine Before the Sunshine Double That Won't Be

With the first *truly* big events since the Australian Open finally on deck, it's time for a quick look back at which players took their turns in the spotlight during the previous month (or so) of action *before* the U.S. spring hard court circuit.

Well, or so we thought...


...Simona Halep's remarkable title run in Dubai resembled one of her celebrated string of (win or lose) performances at majors. Playing without coach Darren Cahill for the week, Halep proved that the self-sufficiency she displayed at last year's Wimbledon still resides within her in spades. And it's maybe even stronger than before. Battling through Ons Jabeur in a epic three-setter in her opening match (after losing a 4-1 3rd set lead and losing on 3 MP attempts, she saved a MP and won in a deciding TB), Halep picked up steam by defeating Aryna Sabalenka in three, and dominating Jennifer Brady before finally problem solving her way through new WTA "superweapon" Elena Rybakina in another classic three-set affair in a final played in front a throng of (or course) raucous Romanian fans chanting "Si-mo-na!" After it was over, Halep sunk to her back the court, "pretty dead" but the winner of her 20th career tour title.

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2. SABALENKA EXPANDS HER BASE OF POWER Doha, citing her father, who passed away during the offseason, as her inspiration, Aryna Sabalenka claimed the title at her second straight Premier 5 event (after Wuhan last fall). The Belarusian, the #9 seed, received a 1st Round bye after she was moved from her original place in the draw to fill the vacant #2 spot after Dubai champ Simona Halep withdrew from the tournament. She responded with wins over Anett Kontaveit, Maria Sakkari, Zheng Saisai and Svetlana Kuznetsova to advance to her tenth career tour-level final. There, she defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3/6-3 to pick up her sixth career crown. 6-1 in her last seven WTA finals, all on hard courts, Sabalenka leads the tour for the most titles on the surface since the start of the 2018 season (one more than Naomi Osaka). This was just her second tour singles title not won in China (where she's won four, along with one in the U.S.).
3. HARD COURT KIKI IS... the best Kiki?
...defedning her Saint Petersburg title, Kiki Bertens became the first to take the crown in back-to-back years by defeating four straight Russia-born opponents en route to the title. Wins over Veronika Kudermetova, Anastasia Potapova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Elena Rybakina (for KAZ, the only current non-Russian) to pick up career title #10 in her fifteenth WTA final. For Bertens, who further enhanced her surface versatility stats by picking up her third career hard court title, it's the second successful title defense of her career.
...Brit Heather Watson wins her first tour title in nearly four years, taking Acapulco to become the second woman (Bacsinszky) to collect singles titles at both of Mexico's tour events (Monterrey '16) in a career. In the final vs. Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez, Watson was forced her into a third set after failing to convert five MP in the 2nd set but came back strong in the 3rd and (finally) won on MP #10.

And, thus, she donned the traditional sombrero...

5. Confía en el Proceso (TRUST THE PROCESS)
...after struggling to find her form through the first two months of the season, Elina Svitolina won her first tour title in seventeen months in Monterrey, reaching the final without dropping a set and then outlasting Marie Bouzkova in a super-competitive three-set final in which the Ukrainian rallied from a break down in both the 1st and 2nd sets to claim her fourteenth career title.


The home crowd hasn't had a great deal to cheer when it's come to singles action in the long history of the Acapulco event. From 2001-19, Mexican women went a combined 5-26 in MD action, with just one player (in 2007) reaching as deep as the QF in the draw. They'd gone just 1-10 since 2013. But the player who'd registered that "1" -- Renata Zarazúa def. Kristyna Pliskova two years ago -- changed all that this year.

Ranked #270, Zarazúa took her wild card as the only home player in the MD and ran with it. After the 22-year old's monumental upset of #1-seeded Sloane Stephens in the 1st Round, she ralled from 6-4/4-2 down to defeat Katie Volynets to reach her first career QF (the first Mexican to accomplish the feat in a tour-level event in thirteen years). But Zarazúa wasn't finished. A win over Tamara Zidansek made her the first woman from Mexico to reach a WTA SF since 1993 (Angelica Gavaldon in San Juan), and the first to ever do so in tournament history.

...Hsieh Su-wei & Barbora Strycova's blistering start to 2020 (17-1, 3 titles and with both women occupying the WD #1 rankings) has been highlighted by their sweep of the titles in Dubai and Doha, the first by a duo since Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond in 2012.

In Dubai, after reaching the final without dropping a set, they outlasted Krejcikova/Sai.Zheng and defended their title with a 10-5 match tie-break to become the first multi-title team of the season. A week later in Doha, the veteran pair won a 12-10 match TB over Krejcikova/Siniakova in the semis, then another (at 10-2) over Dabrowski/Ostapenko in the final, their fifth straight dating back to last season.

In Acapulco, Giuliana Olmos became the firt player from Mexico to win a tour title *in* Mexico. Two years ago in Monterrey, Olmos became the first player from the nation to reach a WTA final in the Open era; and last season she followed up by reaching the Acapulco final, as well. Then later in the summer, in Nottingham, she became the first to win a tour title (alongside Desirae Krawczyk) before reaching yet another final (this time w/ Alexa Guarachi) in Guangzhou in the fall.

This time she got to celebrate in front of the home fans, taking the title with Krawczyk with a win in the final over K.Bondarenko/Fichman.


1. Simona Halep, ROU - she played Dubai like a major, and celebrated as if it *was* one
2. Hsieh Su-wei/Barbora Strycova, TPE/CZE - did the Desert Double in Dubai and Doha
3. Aryna Sabalenka, BLR - Doha was her second straight Premier 5 title run
4. Kiki Bertens, NED - the former clay court specialist has found a home on hard court (and Saint Petersburg)
5. Elena Rybakina, KAZ - she didn't win a title, but few had a bigger presence between the lines


RISERS: Ons Jabeur/TUN, Magda Linette/POL and Jennifer Brady/USA
SURPRISES: Renata Zarazúa/MEX, Leonie Kung/SUI and Storm Sanders/AUS
VETERANS: Heather Watson/GBR, Petra Kvitova/CZE and Petra Martic/CRO
COMEBACKS: Oceane Dodin/FRA, Patricia Maria Tig/ROU and Anna-Lena Friedsam/GER
FRESH FACES: Marie Bouzkova/CZE, Leylah Fernandez/CAN and Wang Xiyu/CHN
JUNIORS: Robin Montgomery/USA, Romana Cisovska/SVK and Elvina Kalieva/USA
ITF: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU, Olga Govortsova/UKR and Shelby Rogers/USA
DOUBLES: Desirae Krawczyk/Giuliana Olmos (USA/MEX), Kateryna Bondarenko/Sharon Fichman (UKR/CAN) and Shuko Aoyama/Ena Shibahara (JPN/JPN)
DOWN: Sloane Stephens/USA, Venus Williams/USA and Naomi Osaka/JPN (FC)
WHEELCHAIR: Jordanne Whiley/GBR and Zhu Zhenzhen/CHN
MOST IMPROVED: Leylah Fernandez/CAN, Jaqueline Cristian/ROU and Kaja Juvan/SLO

[WG Qualifiers]
1.Aliaksandra Sasnovich, BLR
2.Alona Ostapenko, LAT (L)
3.Carla Suarez-Navarro, ESP
4.Kiki Bertens, NED (L)
5.Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, SVK
6.Jil Teichmann, SUI
7.Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS
8.Sara Sorribes Tormo, ESP
9.Elise Mertens, BEL
10.Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
1.Dayana Yastremska, UKR
2.Aleksandra Krunic/Nina Stojanovic, SRB
3.Elisabetta Cocciaretto, ITA
4.Anett Kontaveit, EST (L)
5.Iga Swiatek, POL

[WG Qualifiers]
1.Igor Andreev, RUS
2.Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP
3.Kathy Rinaldi, USA
4.Adrian Zguns, LAT (L)
5.Tatiana Poutchek, BLR
1.Tathiana Garbin, ITA
2.Tatjana Jecmenica, SRB
3.Agustin Moreno, MEX
4.Marina Erakovic, NZL
5.Mikhail Filima, UKR

1. Dubai Final - Simona Halep def. Elena Rybakina
A whale of a match. Faced with the task of figuring out how to attack/survive Rybakina's big game, Halep scurried around the court for nearly two and a half hours, but eventually found a way to prevail.

Rybakina's hard-to-read serves were a problem for Halep all match long, but it was the Romanian's inability to put away a basic shot that cost her the 1st set. After leading 40/15, she failed to end a rally with a forehand at the net, then dumped another forehand into the net on her next shot. She dropped serve and Rybakina grabbed a break lead at 4-2. Serving at 5-3, the Kazakh saved a BP with an ace and finally served out the set on SP #3 in a game that saw her control the action with two aces, two DF and two volleys (one successful to claim a point, one not).

Halep took advantage of a brief string of Rybakina errors to take an early lead in the 2nd, going up 3-1 while winning eight straight points. Rybakina barely kept a shot inside the lines (Halep didn't move toward the ball, which at first seemed headed decidedly out before curling back) while down 40/love on Halep's serve. She then pushed the game to deuce before Halep held for 4-1. After turning away two BP in game #6, Rybakina broke to get things back on serve at 4-3. In a 10-minute game, Halep outlasted the Kazakh in perhaps the key game in the match, retaking a break lead by converting on BP #4 to take a 5-3 lead. She then served out the set.
Halep's first serve had continual issues throughout the 3rd set. Two DF in game #4 handed Rybakina a break lead at 3-1. But Rybakina's own DF put her down 15/40 a game later, leading to Halep getting things back on serve. At 4-4, the Kazakh began her service game with a DF, but ultimately held thanks to a backhand reach volley that she essentially blocked back over the net with just the frame of her racket.

At 5-5, Halep leveled the game at 30/30 with one of several forehand passes down the line that helped her overtake Rybakina in the 3rd. While Rybakina's admirable ability to pull off of her big shots (otherwise known as an unAlona-type tactic) just enough to offer her opponents unexpected variety -- making her normal hard groundstrokes even more effective because of the additional options to think about on the other side of the net -- perhaps offers the key to why she's 19-4 vs. a variety of differently-skilled opponents in '20 and a bear to handle no matter the situation, her otherwise admirable willingness to move forward toward the net often cost her vs. Halep in this match as it offered the Romanian a chance to line up a handful of crucial passing shots that prevented the match from ever truly getting out of her reach.

Halep broke to take a 6-5 lead, only to see Rybakina's second net cord dribbler in a matter of minutes put her down love/30 a game later. Another forehand pass down the line leveled the game, but the Kazakh reached BP with a clean backhand winner, and she got a second BP chance with a return winner. Rybakina whacked a slow Halep second serve that resulted in an error from the Romanian, and she got the break back to force a deciding TB.

Rybakina's return winner gave her a mini-break lead at 4-3, and she led 5-4 with a successfully overturned line call (Halep's deep shot had landed long). After exchanging 6-3 sets, the two were tied 5-5 in the TB, as the match was about as even as possible.
Halep reached MP at 6-5, as chants of "Si-mon-na! Si-mo-na!" echoed throughout the stadium, and Rybakina's long backhand finally allowed Halep to celebrate a 7-5 TB win. As if she'd just won a major, she went to the court and was soon spread eagle on her back, staring up into the night sky before clenching her fists and celebrating a truly Herculean effort to take down the 20-year old.

Afterward, the smiling Romanian used the sort of language she often does (sort of) after winning such a match. "I'm pretty dead," she said. But alive *enough* to win the Match of the Year (so far), probably the most even and best-played contest of the season's first two months.

How even? Well, the stats surely prove it out, as just a handful of shots made the difference. Halep led in aces (!) 3-2, and the pair were even with five DF each. Rybakina led 30-28 in winners, while having just two more unforced errors (25-23) than the Romanian. Halep converted 4-of-11 BP, while Rybakina was 4-of-7. Halep led 113-106 in points.
2. Dubai 2nd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Ons Jabeur
What would have been the Match of the Month/Year from Dubai if not for, you know (see #1).

In a match-long display of shotmaking and will in front of vociferous fans of both players, Halep rebounded from losing the 1st set by upping her aggression in the 2nd. The result was a 3-0 lead as she won the set 6-2. She held another 3-0 edge in the 3rd, and led 4-1. Jabeur closed the gap, and saw Halep two points from the win at 5-4, before seeming to turn the match in her favor. The Tunisian grabbed the lead and served for the match at 6-5, only to be broken at love. Halep raced to a 6-3 lead in the TB. She saw her second MP (converted) overturned via replay, then Jabeur fired an ace to close to 6-5. On MP #3, Halep just missed on an ace of her own, and a point later Jabeur suddenly found herself at MP (something Halep later said she didn't realize). But back-to-back forehand errors from Jabeur handed the Romanian a lifeline, and she held on tight, quickly converting MP #4 and the never losing the rest of the week.

Both women broke serve five times in the match, and in the end Halep held just a three-point (95-92) advantage. But it turned out to be so much more. They say if you're going to take a shot at the King/Queen, you'd best kill 'em. Well, Queen Simona lived... and the rest was history.
3. Acapulco Final - Heather Watson def. Leylah Annie Fernandez
Up a set and a break, Watson saw her lead slip away in the 2nd. LAF held two SP on the Brit's serve at 5-4, then two more at 6-5, but Watson buckled down to hold and got things to a TB. She held quadruple MP at 6-2, and then had a 5th MP at 8-7 before Fernandez converted on her own 6th SP to win 10-8 and force a 3rd set. After an in-between set break, Watson came out showing no signs of frustration after having lost her lead, and maintained her calm when, serving at 5-1, she failed to convert MP #7, #8 and #9 and even saw the Canadian teen hold a BP. Finally, MP #10 proved to be the charm as Watson added an Acapulco title to the win she got in Mexico in Monterrey back in 2016.

4. Monterrey Final - Elina Svitolina def. Maria Bouzkova
Fighting back from an early break down in both the 1st and 3rd sets, Svitolina eventually thwarted the first-time finalist's ambitions, but not until she'd been broken herself while serving for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd or before she'd had to dig down and find the guile she showed while winning her *last* singles title -- 17 months ago at the WTA Finals.

5. Dubai 1st Rd. - Elena Rybakina def. Sofia Kenin
Rybakina's win over the AO champ improved her (then) mark in three-setters to 7-0 in 2020 before losing to Halep in the final. Likening her mindset going into the match vs. such an in-form player to being that of undertaking a helpful "training session" in which she didn't put any pressure on herself to win, Rybakina's post-match reaction looked just like that. Of course, that seems to simply be her way.
6. Dubai 1st Rd. - Garbine Muguruza def. Kim Clijsters
Muguruza led 6-2/3-0, but the closer-than-it-looked comeback match for Clijsters saw the Hall of Fame Waffle's game suddenly click *hard* as she battled back into the set and actually led 6-5. Muguruza, as she's done often in '20, dug down and got things done in the tie-break, firing a big serve to close out the match. In many ways, this was a good result for both, as Muguruza proved her rediscovered mettle, while Clijsters showed she *may* be more than just a novel nostalgia act before the season is over.

7. Lyon SF - Sofia Kenin def. Alison Van Uytvanck
Kenin's title run included surviving a triple-TB match against the winning indoor hard court game of the Belgian, whose 22 aces tied for the third most in a tour match in the last four years.
8. Lyon 2nd Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. Alize Cornet
Naturally, a bit of drama followed *these* two into their seventh career match-up. Cornet held a MP in the 2nd set TB (she DF'd), then Giorgi put away the win a set later on her own fourth MP to win her fifth straight over the Pastry.
HM- Saint Petersburg 2nd Rd. - Petra Kvitova def. Alison Van Uytvanck
The first two games took 50 points and 30 minutes. Kvitova then erased an early break lead by Van Uytvanck in the 3rd to advance to the QF, where one more win would have signed her pass back into the Top 10. But the Czech withdrew due from the tournament due to illness.


Hua Hin Q2 - Ulrikke Eikeri def. Sarah Beth Grey
The 27-year old Norwegian reaches her first career WTA MD after a career filled with ITF success going back a dozen years and including 11 circuit singles and 25 doubles title runs. Who said good things don't come to those who wait (I mean, other than Gen PDQ, of course)? This was Eikeri's 230th career event appearance.

1. Acapulco 1st Rd. - Kaja Juvan def. Venus Williams
Backspin's 2019 "Player Whose Name You'll Know..." pick, 19-year old qualifier Juvan (#125) posted the biggest win of her career over Williams, saving seven MP in the 2nd set (after Venus had rallied from 4-2 down to take the 1st) and handing the future Hall of Famer her fourth straight defeat, tying a career worst run (which she extended a week later in Monterrey).

2. Saint Petersburg 2nd Rd. - Elena Rybakina def. Fiona Ferro 6-3/6-4
Saint Petersburg QF - Elena Rybakina def. Oceane Dodin 6-7(5)/7-5/6-2
never let it be said that Rybakina has to have perfect conditions and a smooth road to have success. The Kazakh rallied form 1-3 and 0-3 down in the 1st and 2nd sets, respectively, against Ferro, then battled back from two MP down vs. another Pastry in Dodin a round later to maintain her perfect mark vs. French players. As she has at nearly every event she's played in 2020, Rybakina reached the final.
3. Acapulco 2nd Rd. - Renata Zarazúa def. Katie Volynets
Down 6-4/4-2, Zarazúa saved seven BP in game 7 in the 2nd, then went on to reel in 11 of 12 games and win in 2:42 to become the first Mexican woman in thirteen years to reach the Acapulco QF (then the first tour singles semifinalist in 27 a round later).
4. Doha 2nd Rd. - Elena Rybakina def. Alison Van Uytvanck
Rybakina just can't help herself. She faced a MP vs. the Belgian, but *still* managed to win to improve to 21-4 on the season, making her the earliest to 20 wins in a WTA campaign since Elena Dementieva in 2009.

5. Lyon 2nd Rd. - Sofia Kenin def. Jaqueline Cristian
Kenin rallied from a set and 5-3 down, saving a MP vs. the #174-ranked Romanian en route to becoming the third player this year to go from MP down to tournament singles champion.
6. Monterrey QF - Johanna Konta def. Anastasia Potapova
Finally showing the tenacity that spearheaded her resurgence campaign of a year ago, Konta battles back from 5-2 down in the 3rd vs. the Russian, saving two MP en route to her first semifinal since last year's Roland Garros.
7. Dubai Q1 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands def. Ajla Tomljanovic
Tomljanovic held a 4-1 3rd set lead, and reached MP at 5-4, then 6-3 and 7-6 in the deciding TB.
8. Dubai 2nd Rd. - Jennifer Brady def. Marketa Vondrousova
Brady had to rally to pull off her semifinal run. She was a set and double-break down at 4-1 to Vondrousova before winning 11 of 12 games.
9. Acapulco 1st Rd. - Anastasia Potapova def. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
The Hordette forged a comeback win from a 6-4/4-0, 30/love deficit vs. AKS. Oh, Schmeidy.
10. Fed Cup Asia/Oceania I rr - Rutuja Bhosale def. Yang Ya-yi
Comebacks don't just happen on the WTA tour, or even in high-level Fed Cup matches. In the previously postponed Asia/Oceania I zone playoffs, Bhosale helped push along India's advancement into the nation's first-ever World Group Playoffs appearance this spring with a come from behind victory over the 15-year old Taiwanese newcomer. Yang led 3-0 in the 3rd set, and held three MP at 5-4, 40/love before falling in 2:44.
HM- Dubai SF - Elena Rybakina def. Petra Martic
Martic was so close. She served for the 1st, and had SP. She served for the 2nd, too, and also held SP. The difference between winning and losing is *so* small on tour right now.

1. Acapulco 1st Rd. - Renata Zarazúa def. Sloane Stephens
Wins by Mexican players in the Acapulco singles have been few and far between in recent years, but Zarazúa's Cinderella run began with a bang and got progressively historic. She eventually became the MEX player to reach a tour SF in 27 years.

2. Acapulco 1st Rd. - Wang Xiyu def. Wang Yafan
And it all began in Acapulco? 18-year old Wang Xiyu, the first Chinese girl to win a junior slam singles crown ('18 U.S.), saw her path to her first WTA semi begin with an upset of countrywoman Wang Yafan, the tournament's defending champ and #2 seed.
3. Hua Hin QF - Nao Nibino def. Elina Svitolina
One of Svitolina's many losses to lower ranked players in 2020 was highlighted by a defeat at the hands of the world #84, as Hibino notched her first career Top 10 win after having previously been 0-12 in such matches.
HM- Monterrey 1st Rd. - Anna Karolina Schmiedlova def. Venus Williams
Not an *ultra* big upset, but noteworthy because it established a new record for consecutive losses (5) by Williams, while AKS's first tour-level MD win since last year's Wimbledon made the #199-ranked Slovak the fourth-lowest ranked player to defeat Venus in her career.



LYON, FRANCE (Int'l/Hard Court Indoor)
S: Sofia Kenin/USA def. Anna-Lena Friedsam/GER 6-2/4-6/6-4
D: Laura-Ioana Paar/Julia Wachaczyk (ROU/GER) def. Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove/Bibiane Schoofs (NED/NED) 7-5/6-4
MONTERREY, MEXICO (Int'l/Hard Court Outdoor)
S: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Marie Bouzkova/CZE 6-5/4-6/6-4
D: Kateryna Bondarenko/Sharon Fichman (UKR/CAN) def. Miyu Kato/Wang Yafan (JPN/CHN) 4-6/6-3 [10-7]
INDIAN WELLS, CAL USA (WTA 125/Hard Court Outdoor)
S: Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU def. Misaki Doi/JPN 6-3/6-3
D: Asia Muhammad/Taylor Townsend (USA/USA) def. Caty McNally/Jessica Pegula (USA/USA) 6-4/6-4
FED CUP - ASIA/OCEANIA I (Dubai/Hard Court Outdoor)
China and India advance

...(jostle, jostle) Whah?? Oh, I guess it's time to be woken up.

After flip-flopping around for the first two months of the season, Svitolina's archeological dig to rediscover her lost Process finally had its 2020 "Eureka!" moment in Monterrey. The tournament's #1 seed, Svitolina proved strong against a succession of unseeded opponents -- Danka Kovinic, Olga Govortsova, Acapulco finalist Leylah Fernandez and Arantxa Rus -- and reached her first final of the season without dropping a set. In a push-and-pull final vs. #9-seeded Marie Bouzkova, Svitolina overcame break deficits in the 1st and 3rd sets (and failing to serve out the match at 5-3 in the 3rd) to win in three to claim her first title since her season-ending triumph at the WTA Finals in 2018 (in just her second final during a 17-month stretch).

It's Svitolina's 14th career tour win, and she'll return to the Top 5 this week.

RISERS: Sofia Kenin/USA and Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU
...playing *yet again* in Lyon seemed like a potential overscheduling mistake for the Australian Open champ, but if the five extra matches that Kenin played in France helped to solve the ennui that has plagued her game since winning in Melbourne, than it was likely a valuable trip (especially since those matches she *thought* she'd be playing over the next few weeks, well, won't be happening).

It wasn't exactly an easy go for the Bannerette, whose title run will lift her to a career high #4 heading into Indian Wells, as after opening with a win over Vitalia Diatchenko, she had to stage a comeback from a set and 5-3 down (saving a MP) vs. Jaqueline Cristian in the 2nd Round, then squandered a 6-1/5-2 lead against Oceane Dodin and was forced to win in three sets. In the semis, it was another three-set (three TB, actually) affair vs. Alison Van Uytvanck, who fired 22 aces. Then, in the final, Kenin was again forced to a 3rd set for a fourth straight match, this time by Anna-Lena Friedsam, before finally putting away her fifth career title and becoming the season's first two-time singles champ, and the event's inaugural singles winner.

At the Indian Wells WTA 125 challenger, 29-year old Romanian Begu won her biggest title since 2017 (her fourth career WTA title in Bucharest). Already a $100K ITF challenger champion this year (Cairo in February), Begu posted successive wins over Mona Barthel, Taylor Townsend, Kristie Ahn, Jessica Pegula, Lesia Tsurenko and Misaki Doi -- as good a list as a few regular tour-level title runs will get in '20, for sure -- en route to the winner's circle. A former Top 25 player (2016), Begu will climb back into the Top 100 with this result, rising from #104 to #81 on Monday.


SURPRISES: Anna-Lena Friedsam/GER and Laura-Ioana Paar/Julia Wachaczyk (ROU/GER)
...with her best run on tour since returning from a second shoulder surgery (in 2018), Friedsam reached her second career WTA final in Lyon, her first since 2015. The 26-year old German defeated Kristina Mladenovic, Viktoria Kuzmova and Dasha Kasatkina en route to the championship match, where she pushed Sofia Kenin to three sets before finally going down in defeat. We'll see how this latest surge for Friedsam goes, as she's consistently been dogged by injuries every time she'd started to post such results during her career. After reaching her maiden final in October '15, she pushed Aga Radwanska to the brink in the Round of 16 of the '16 Australian Open (where she'd already beaten Wang Qiang and Roberta Vinci), leading 5-2 in the 3rd set before injuries to both legs led to her defeat. Later that season, after having climbed as high as #45 that August, she had her first shoulder surgery. Making it back to the court yet again, Friedsam finally recorded her first career Top 10 win last October in Linz (Bencic), the same event at which she'd reached the final four years earlier. It's been over three years since she held a Top 100 ranking, but she'll be close to a return on Monday as she jumps thirty spots to #106.

Paar (née Andrei) & Wachaczyk, who've won four ITF crowns together over the years (Paar has 53 career circuit WD titles, Wachaczyk 28), picked up their maiden WTA doubles titles in Lyon. After knocking off #1-seeded Friedsam/Minella (via a 10-6 match TB), the duo claimed another match TB in the QF over Lechemia/Ponchet and then never lost another set on their way to th title. A 7-5/6-4 win over the Dutch duo of Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove/Bibiane Schoofs secured the crown.

VETERANS: Johanna Konta/GBR, Vera Zvonareva/RUS and Arantxa Rus/NED
...still looking for her first win of the season, and having lost four straight going back to last year, Konta opened her week in Monterrey by outpacing Kim Clijsters in three sets. She followed up with a straight sets win over Tatjana Maria and a come-from-behind victory over Anastasia Potapova, rallying from 5-2 down in the 3rd set vs. the Russian, saving two MP to reach her first semifinal since last year's Roland Garros. She was defeated in the semis by Marie Bouzkova, but she'll jumps two players (Petra Martic and Garbine Muguruza) in the new rankings to climb back into the Top 15 (#14) on Monday.

In the Indian Wells WTA 125 event, 35-year old Zvonareva (#319) reached her biggest semifinal since doing the same at the tour-level event in Saint Petersburg last February. Wins over Wang Xiyu, Samantha Stosur, #1-seeded Katerina Siniakova and Laura Siegemund set up a final four match-up with Misaki Doi, but Zvonareva withdrew with a hip injury before the match.

Meanwhile, Monterrey saw 29-year old Rus reach her maiden tour-level singles semifinal after a career that has seen her have big junior ('08 AO girls champ) and ITF success (24 singles titles), as well as showing early upset flashes (def. Clijsters and Stosur in slams in 2011-12) that she never really built upon over most of the past decade. Wins over Varvara Flink, Lauren Davis and Rebecca Peterson highlighted the Dutch woman's week, though it all ended with a whimper when she won just one game vs. Elina Svitolina in her final match. Rus will climb to #70 on Monday, within striking distance of the career high (#61) ranking she held nearly eight years ago.
COMEBACKS: Dasha Kasatkina/RUS and Caroline Garcia/FRA'd be hard pressed to identify two players who better represent the transitional nature of the WTA rankings than these two, as both Kasatkina (2018) and Garcia (2017) were season-ending Top 10ers in recent tour campaigns. They've struggled to maintain their positions over the past year, though, with the Russian falling outside the Top 70 and Garcia nearly slipping out of the Top 50.

It was just two years ago that Kasatkina played in the Indian Wells final vs. Naomi Osaka, and heading into that match (and even soon after, when Kasatkina reached back-to-back slam QF, or when she'd collected her eighth Top 3 win in 2017-18) the Russian appeared an equal bet to attain the sort of slam success that Osaka has actually had since then. While Osaka has won two majors and reached #1, Kasatkina hasn't reached a final in a year and a half (after playing in three in '18), and advanced to only two QF in all of the '19 season. It was around this time a year ago that Kasatkina fell out of the Top 20 after having spent over a year there. She entered this past week at #73.

Though the Russian came into Lyon with just a 6-6 mark in '20, she'd shown some signs of additional life, having pushed the likes of Ekaterina Alexandrova (a title winner this season) and Garbine Muguruza (AO finalist) to three sets in her last three events. In Lyon, though she came up just short of a truly (re)break-out week, she did what she *needed* to do to designate the event as the starting point for a hoped-for turnaround. After failing to convert a MP vs. Pauline Parmentier in the 2nd set in their 1st Round encounter, Kasatkina won in three and then posted additional wins over Irina Bara and Camila Giorgi before falling to Anna-Lena Friedsam in three sets in the semifinals. Even with the defeat, it was her best result since winning the Kremlin Cup in October '18. She'll climb back up to #66 on Monday.

Also in Lyon, Garcia recorded her first multi-MD win performance since Mallorca last June, reaching the QF on home soil after posting wins over Greet Minnen (from 4-2 and GP down in the 3rd) and Ysaline Bonaventure, before finally being bested by the *third* consecutive Waffle in her path, Alison Van Uytvanck. Garcia had been 7-18 since her most previous QF result, falling from #23 to #46 over the eight and a half month time span.

FRESH FACE: Marie Bouzkova/CZE
...Bouzkova proved last year in Toronto that she was angling to take her place in the next wave of Czech stars, reaching the semis with wins over three slam winners (Stephens, Ostapenko and Halep) before pushing Serena Williams to three sets. Big water bottle and all, though, Bouzkova ended '19 going just 3-3, and she was just 2-5 in '20 heading into Monterrey.

She turned things back in her favor in Mexico, reaching the final without dropping a set (and the WD semis, too) with wins over Kristina Kucova, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wang Yafan and Johanna Konta. In the three-set final, Bouzkova played toe-to-toe with Elina Svitolina, taking the Ukrainian to three sets and holding an early break lead in both sets she dropped. With Svitolina serving for the match in the 3rd, Bouzkova got the break, but couldn't back it up and finally succumbed in her maiden tour final appearance.

Bouzkova will break into the Top 50 for the first time on Monday.
DOWN: Samantha Stosur/AUS
...Venus Williams extended her losing streak to a career-long five matches, while Sloane Stephens lost to the world #126 (after barely escaping with a victory over #497), but I'll change things up from what's become the 2020 "regular recipe" here and go with the Aussie.

Stosur, now 35, continues to plug away in singles, though the former slam winner hasn't been ranked higher than #90 since last May (she entered Week 9 at #95). Her 2nd Round loss to fellow thirtysomething ex-Top 10er Vera Zvonareva in the WTA 125 Series event in Indian Wells drops her to 1-4 in '20, and 2-8 in her last ten matches. While the thought that Stosur might eventually switch to doubles-only action on tour is common, the '19 Australian Open WD winner hasn't exactly been getting encouraging results there that might push her over that edge, either. Without a regular partner, the #26-ranked Stosur teamed with Yanina Wickmayer this week, posting two wins before falling in the semis and is now 3-4 on the season. She has a big points defense coming up soon, having reached last year's Miami doubles final with Zhang Shuai, the closest she's come to a title since winning in Melbourne.
ITF PLAYERS: Mayar Sherif/EGY and Sandra Samir/EGY
...a very Egyptian feel to things this week, eh?

For good reason, too, as both Sherif and Samir swept the singles and doubles titles at their respective events. In Antalya, Turkey, 23-year old Sherif improved to 7-2 in ITF singles finals since the start of last year (w/ her eighth overall title), as the former Pepperdine star defeated Dalma Galfi to win the $25K challenger's singles title, and teamed with Reka-Luca Jani to win the doubles.

In Cairo, both $15K crowns were claimed by Samir, 22. After winning the doubles with Jacqueline Cabaj Awad, Samir rallied from a set down to defeat India's Zeel Desai (who was also a WD final opponent), 5-7/7-6(7)/6-2. It's her 11th career circuit win.
JUNIOR STARS: Anchisa Chanta/THA and Robin Montgomery/USA Nonthaburi, Thailand the rarest of rare final match-ups saw a lucky loser (Chanta) face off not only with a qualifier (Wei Sijia), but *the* qualifier who'd defeated her in the final round of qualifying earlier in the week. 17-year old Chanta, the girls #273, arrived having won just a pair of Grade 4 events on the ITF junior level, but MD wins over the #9, #6 and #14 seeds set up a rematch with China's Wei, who'd defeated the #16, #2, #5 and #4 players in the event. With everyone else having fallen by the wayside (including the nine seeds the two girls *hadn't* upset), Chanta picked up the title in her home nation with a sixth MD win, defeating Wei 3-6/6-3/6-4. Wei, the girls #470, had won a combined *seven* matches during the week before coming up one short of the title.

In Casablanca, at last report the week's Grade 1 event had seen unseeded Italian Lisa Pigato reach the final after a win over #4-seeded Diana Shnaider and via a semifinal walkover past Germany's Eva Lys, while #2-seed Melania Delai (ITA) and unseeded Aussie Tina Nadine Smith had reached the other semifinal, but no results (in the girls or boys competition) have been reported this weekend. Not sure whether it's because of rain or some virus-related issues, but as of this posting there has been resolution posted on the ITF website.

Meanwhile, 15-year old Montgomery picked up her first pro title in Las Vegas, taking the $15K crown with wins over Emiliana Arango, Katherine Sebov and You Xiaodi, ending the Chinese woman's nine-match winning streak in the final with a 2-6/6-3/6-4 victory. Montgomery, the #5-ranked junior, won the Orange Bowl 18s title last December, and reached the girls QF at the Australian Open earlier this season.
DOUBLES: Kateryna Bondarenko/Sharon Fichman (UKR/CAN) and Asia Muhammad/Taylor Townsend (USA/USA)
...runners-up a week ago in Acapulco, Bondarenko & Fichman did things one better in Monterrey, winning the WD crown at the tour's second Mexico-based event. After having lost to Desirae Krawczyk/Giuliana Olmos in the final a few days earlier, the pair defeated last week's champs in the 2nd Round this week, then won a pair of match TB's (13-11 vs. Bouzkova/Voracova in the SF, 10-7 vs. Kato/Wang Yafan in the F) to claim the crown. It's the veteran pair's first title together at the WTA level after having won four on the ITF circuit between 2007-13. For Fichman, who retired for nearly two years between 2016-18, it's her third career tour title, while Bondarenko (who also briefly left the game when pregnant with her first child in 2012-13) now has four in her career (though this is her first w/o partnering her sister Alona, with whom she last won a WTA title in '09). Bondarenko is currently playing with a protected ranking after returning from having her second child last year.

In Indian Wells, Auckland champs Muhammad & Townsend added a WTA 125 crown to their growing list of achievements as a pair. Wins over Vania King/Vera Zvonareva and Anna Blinkova/Christina McHale (10-8 3rd set TB) preceded a 4 & 4 win in the final over another all-Bannerette duo, Caty McNally & Jessica Pegula. In addition to their two higher level title runs in '20, Muhammad/Townsend have claimed nine crowns on the ITF level in an occasional partnership that goes back as far as 2013, when Townsend was just 17 (and Muhammad 22).

WHEELCHAIR: Zhu Zhenzhen/CHN the Series 3 event in Tucson, Arizona, Zhu finally rediscovered her winning form. In Melbourne, as the first Chinese woman to play singles in a slam wheelchair draw, Zhu upset world #1 Diede de Groot in her opening match. Since then, though, she'd gone 1-3 in MD matches prior to this week's event. In Tucson, the top seed and WC #6 defeated #4-seed Macarena Cabrillana (CHI), then #2-seeded Colombian Angelica Bernal in a 6-4/6-1 final. Bernal, the world #10, had eliminated #3-seed Lucy Shuker in the semis, was 9-1 in her previous ten matches and was seeking her third title in her last four events.

The two women faced off against one another in the doubles final, as well, with Zhu teaming with Saki Takamuro (#2 seeds) to defeat the #1-seeded Bernal & Katharina Kruger.
...the Asia/Oceania I group competition postponed in February due to the coronavirus outbreak finally took place this week in Dubai, with a six-nation round robin competition in which the top two nations would advance to April's Playoffs. China dominated the action, going 5-0 and winning 14 of 15 sets played, while India (4-1, 9/15) finished second, two wins ahead of South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan (all tied at 2-3), to reach the World Group Playoffs for the first time (albeit in the new format which greatly expands the field).

FED CUP MVP's: Wang Qiang/CHN and Sania Mirza/Ankita Raina (IND)
...Wang led the way for the stacked Chinese team (which also included Zheng Saisai, who was 4-0, and Zhang Shuai, Peng Shuai and Xu Yifan), posting wins over the likes of Sabina Sharipova, Liang En-shuo, Aldila Sutjiadi and Ankita Raina.

India had a two-win edge over the next closest nation, but the team didn't coast to this spring's Playoffs. Two wins came in deciding doubles matches, with Mirza/Raina collecting both points, as well as another doubles match (vs. INA) that provided the clinching point when the opening singles match wasn't played. The duo went 3-0 for the week, with Raina providing two additional wins in singles (2-3) in support of Rutuja Bhosale (3-2). For Mirza, it was her first Fed Cup action since 2016. Already the most senior player in Indian FC history (w/ 11 seasons of service), her three wins in Dubai bring her within three victories of matching the team's all-time win leader, Nirupama Sanjeev (1992-2001).

FRESH FACES: Yang Ya-Yi/TPE and Liang En-shuo/TPE
...the next generation of TPE tennis is here, and they were the core roster members in Dubai. Big hitting 15-year old Yang (her favorite player is Simona Halep, "Because she's not tall and she's still very strong and very good.") made her FC debut for Taiwan, posting wins in singles and doubles (w/ Latisha Chan). She led Bhosale 3-0 in the 3rd set, holding three MP at 5-4, 40/love before seeing her Indian opponent surge back to get the win in a tie-break.

In that same tie, 19-year old Liang came from a set back to defeat Raina and force a deciding doubles match that ultimately proved key in India's advancement, as Mirza/Raina defeated L.Chan/Liang in three sets.

1. Monterrey QF - Johanna Konta def. Anastasia Potapova
Finally showing the tenacity that spearheaded her resurgence campaign of a year ago, Konta battles back from 5-2 down in the 3rd vs. the Russian, saving two MP en route to her first semifinal since last year's Roland Garros.

2. Monterrey Final - Elina Svitolina def. Maria Bouzkova
Fighting back from an early break down in both the 1st and 3rd sets, Svitolina eventually thwarted the first-time finalist's ambitions, but not until she'd been broken herself while serving for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd or before she'd had to dig down and find the guile she showed while winning her *last* singles title -- 17 months ago at the WTA Finals.

3. Lyon SF - Sofia Kenin def. Alison Van Uytvanck
Kenin's title run included surviving a triple-TB match against the winning indoor hard court game of the Belgian, whose 22 aces tied for the third most in a tour match in the last four years (with only Kristyna Pliskova -- twice -- with more over the span).
4. Lyon 2nd Rd. - Sofia Kenin def. Jaqueline Cristian
Kenin rallied from a set and 5-3 down, saving a MP vs. the #174-ranked Romanian, who improved to 10-2 (all levels) since her singles win in her Fed Cup debut vs. Russia last month.
5. Lyon 2nd Rd. - Camila Giorgi def. Alize Cornet
Naturally, a bit of drama followed *these* two into their seventh career match-up. Cornet held a MP in the 2nd set TB (she DF'd), then Giorgi put away the win a set later on her own fourth MP to win her fifth straight over the Pastry.

6. Lyon Final - Sofia Kenin def. Anna-Lena Friedsam
The streak of different singles champions to start the season ends in event #12 as Kenin picks up her second title of 2020. The eleven different winners is still the second-longest season-opening in the last thirteen years, behind only last year's run of eighteen unique champions.


7. Monterrey 1st Rd. - Sloane Stephens def. Emma Navarro 6-4/5-7/6-1
Monterrey 2nd Rd. - Leylah Fernandez def. Sloane Stephens 6-7(4)/6-3/6-3
while Sloane avoided a loss to #497 Navarro, her defeat at the hands of #126 Fernandez was her eighth against a triple-digit opponent since last February, and her fourth in 2020. Venus Williams had seven such losses over the first twenty years of her career (1997-2016). Meanwhile, the Canadian teen's win allowed her to follow up her Acapulco final appearance with a QF.
8. Lyon 1st Rd. - Caroline Garcia def. Greet Minnen
Garcia's much-needed QF run began with a comeback victory from 4-2 (and GP) down in the 3rd vs. Minnen, who saved 16 of 18 BP in the match. Minnen's significant other, Alison Van Uytvanck, got some measure of revenge on the Pastry by defeating her two rounds later.
9. Monterrey Q1 - Nadia Podoroska def. Kaja Juvan
The Slovenian loses her second straight match since saving seven MP in her upset of Venus Williams in Acapulco.

10. Monterrey 1st Rd. - Tamara Zidansek def. Victoria Azarenka
Still struggling with off-court issues, the #56-ranked Azarenka finally played for the first time since the U.S. Open, only to be ousted in quick order in spite of some nice individual shots... then announce yet another break from tennis right as the North American spring hard court swing *was* set to begin. Azarenka is a two-time Indian Wells champ (2012/15, when she defeated Sharapova and S.Williams in finals) who pulled off the "Sunshine Double" (IW and Miami titles) in 2016.

11. Fed Cup Asia/Oceania I rr - Rutuja Bhosale def. Yang Ya-yi
In the previously postponed Asia/Oceania I zone playoffs, Bhosale helped push along India's advancement into the nation's first-ever World Group Playoffs appearance this spring with a come from behind victory over the 15-year old TPE newcomer. Yang led 3-0 in the 3rd set, and held three MP at 5-4, 40/love before falling in 2:44.
12. $15K Heraklion GRE Final - Miriam Kolodziejova def. Rebeka Masarova
The 22-year old Czech, who won a pair of junior slams with Marketa Vondrousova in 2015, picks up career singles title #6, while 20-year old Masarova, the '16 Roland Garros girls champ, reaches her first final in a year.

1. Monterrey 1st Rd. - Anna Karolina Schmiedlova def. Venus Williams
Not an *ultra* upset, but noteworthy because it established a new record for consecutive losses (5) by Williams, while AKS's first tour-level MD win since last year's Wimbledon made the #199-ranked Slovak the fourth-lowest ranked player to defeat Venus in her career.

2. Monterrey 1st Rd. - Johanna Konta def. Kim Clijsters
Clijsters', 0-2 in her comeback, has now gone some 90 months without winning a WTA match. Sorry, it had to be done at some point, right?

3. Monterrey SF - Kateryna Bondarenko/Sharon Fichman def. Marie Bouzkova/Renata Voracova
...6-4/0-6 [13-11].
Bondarenko/Fichman's semifinal win prevented Bouzkova from becoming the third player to reach both the singles and doubles final (Serena in Auckland, Zhang Shuai in Hobart) in an event this season, but we got *this* instead (which wasn't a bad trade-off for everyone except Marie & Renata):




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the dance @therealjadetunchy

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Had an amazing day visiting the Healesville Sanctuary!!! Anyone who knows me,knows how much I love animals so this experience was absolutely incredible. Playing with and feeding the wallabies was so cool and very calming for my mind and my soul as well. This sanctuary is so amazing and they do such incredible work. It’s located only about an hour out of Melbourne and they specialise in native Australian animals.They breed native and endangered species.They also take in injured animals and they took a whole lot of koalas that were injured in the recent bush fires. They have everything from wallabies,koalas,Tasmanian devils.....etc. If you have a few hours to spare I would highly suggest you guys go visit this place. Such a cool experience and by going and purchasing a ticket and/or the VIP tour which includes a sanctuary tour by one of the amazing sanctuary team members and playing with and feeding some of the animals,the money goes towards all the good that they do and all the animals that they look after and save. What a great day and a wonderful experience. ?????????????????????????? #animals #wallabies #kangaroos #koalas #nativeanimals #endangeredspecies #australian #aussie #australia #melbourne #healesvillesanctuary #sanctuary #country #cool #amazing #wonderful #experience #vibes #goodvibes #positivevibes #goodforthesoul #doinggood #happy #happiness #soul #mind #metime #video #animallover #cute

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*WTA SINGLES TITLES - 2018-20 (active)*
7...Ash Barty, AUS (1)
7...Petra Kvitova, CZE
7...Karolina Pliskova, CZE (1)
6...Kiki Bertens, NED (1)
6...Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (1)
5...Simona Halep, ROU (1)

*WTA FIRST TO TWO TITLES - since 1987*
1987 Event #5...Hana Mandlikova - Brisbane/AO
1988 Event #4...Pam Shriver - Brisbane/Sydney
1989 Event #5...Martina Navratilova - Sydney/Tokyo
1990 Event #3...Natasha Zvereva - Brisbane/Sydney
1991 Event #12...Jana Novotna - Sydney/OKC
1992 Event #5...Gabriela Sabatini - Sydney/Tokyo
1993 Event #7...Monica Seles - AO/Chicago
1994 Event #5...Steffi Graf - AO/Tokyo
1995 Event #13...Steffi Graf - Paris Indoors/Delray
1996 Event #4...Monica Seles - Sydney/AO
1997 Event #5...Martina Hingis - Sydney/AO
1998 Event #8...Patty Schnyder - Hobart/Hanover
1999 Event #6...Martina Hingis - AO/Tokyo
2000 Event #13*...Lindsay Davenport - AO/IW
2001 Event #3...Justine Henin - Gold Coast/Canberra
2002 Event #7...Martina Hingis - Sydney/Tokyo
2003 Event #8...Serena Williams - AO/Paris Indoors
2004 Event #6...Justine Henin - Sydney/AO
2005 Event #14...Maria Sharapova - Tokyo/Doha
2006 Event #8...Amelie Mauresmo - AO/Paris Indoors
2007 Event #14...Justine Henin - Dubai/Doha
2008 Event #8...Justine Henin - Sydney/Antwerp
2009 Event #3...Elena Dementieva - Auckland/Sydney
2010 Event #6...Elena Dementieva - Sydney/Paris Indoors
2011 Event #6...Petra Kvitova - Brisbane/Paris Indoors
2012 Event #5...Victoria Azarenka - Sydney/AO
2013 Event #4...Aga Radwanska - Auckland/Sydney
2014 Event #6...Li Na - Shenzhen/AO
2015 Event #9...Simona Halep - Shenzhen/Dubai
2016 Event #11...Sloane Stephens - Auckland/Acapulco
2017 Event #9...Karolina Pliskova - Brisbane/Doha
2018 Event #9...Petra Kvitova - Saint Petersburg/Doha
2019 Event #19#...Petra Kvitova - Sydney/Stuttgart
2020 Event #12...Sofia Kenin - AO/Lyon
* - 13th event (final cancelled in 12th event)
# - WTA record 18 winners in first 18 events

73 - Serena Williams, USA (2020=1)
41 - Kim Clijsters, BEL (2011)
49 - Venus Williams, USA (2016)
27 - Petra Kvitova, CZE (2019)
20 - Simona Halep, ROU (2020=1)
20 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (2016)
18 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS (2018)
16 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2020=1)
14 - ELINA SVITOLINA, UKR (2020=1)
12 - Angelique Kerber, GER (2018)
12 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (2018)
12 - Vera Zvonareva, RUS (2011)
10 - Kiki Bertens, NED (2020=1)
NOTE: 15-Jankovic(2015)

10 - Venus Williams
9 - Serena Williams
7 - Kim Clijsters
6 - Petra Kvitova
5 - Angelique Kerber
4 - Victoria Azarenka, Julia Goerges
3 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andrea Petkovic, Ka.Pliskova, Alison Van Uytvanck

Brisbane: Karolina Pliskova, CZE (1 MP vs. Osaka, SF)
Dubai: Simona Halep, ROU (1 MP vs. Jabeur, 2r)
Lyon: Sofia Kenin, USA (1 MP vs. Cristian, 2r)

#283 - Leonie Kung, SUI (Hua Hin = lost to Linette)
#190 - Leylah Fernandez, CAN (Acapulco = lost to Watson)
[WTA 125]
#117 - Stefanie Voegele, SUI (Newport Beach = lost to Brengle)

8 - USA
5 - CZE

Shenzhen - Ekaterina Alexandrova, RUS (25/#34) - def. Rybakina
Arina Rodionova, AUS (Hua Hin)
Taylor Townsend, USA (Auckland)

NR - Kim Clijsters (2009 U.S. Open 4th)
#674 Bethanie Mattek-Sands (2019 San Jose 1st)
#313 Coco Gauff (2019 Wimbledon 1st)
#223 Peng Shuai (2016 Beijing 1st)
#152 Bianca Andreeescu (2019 Auckland QF)
#143 Petra Kvitova (2008 Memphis 1st)
#140 Sonya Jeyaseelan (1999 A.Island 2nd)
#125 Barbara Schwartz (1999 R.Garros 4th)
#125 Kaja Juvan (2020 Acapulco 1st)
#119 Kateryna Bondarenko (2015 Istanbul 1st)
#115 Nathalie Dechy (1997 Toronto 1st)
#109 Olga Puchkova (2013 Florianopolis SF)

*"QUEEN OF MEXICO" WINNERS - Acapulco/Guadalajara 125/Monterrey*
2015 Timea Bacsinszky, SUI (won Acap/Mont singles)
2016 A.Medina-Garrigues/A.Parra-Santonja, ESP (won Acap/Mont WD)
2017 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (4-time Mont.WS)
2018 Lesia Tsurenko, UKR (2 con. Acapulco WS)
2019 Garbine Muguruza, ESP (2 con. Monterrey WS)
2020 Heather Watson, GBR (Acapulco W; second to win both Acap/Mont WS)
[2nd place]
2015 Caroline Garcia, FRA (RU Acap/Mont singles)
2016 Sloane Stephens, USA (Acap) & Heather Watson, GBR (Mont)
2017 Lesia Tsurenko, UKR (Acapulco WS)
2018 Giuliana Olmos, MEX (first MEX player in MONT.WD final)
2019 Maria Sanchez, USA (Guad/Mont WD W)
2020 Renata Zarazua, MEX (Acapulco SF, first MEX WTA SF since 1993)

Hmmm, is this a new voting category? If so, good idea.






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Trying to fit into last year’s clothes like...

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All for now.


Blogger Hoergren said...

Saw Kenins matches and she played okay but had difficults in ending the matches so she needed a second try. How do you train your mind to get your body to play as well as the last successful point - because that's her problem?
Another thing - there will be more tournaments cancelled in the near future. What is gonna happen to all the points players have to defend. If you're really pessimist you can see topplayers fall out of the top ranking without having a single chance to do anything about it. Will you keep an eye on the coming rules because there has to be an emergency rule?

Mon Mar 09, 05:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colt13 said...

I am surprised. Since the 125K was played on site, I figured that Indian Wells was safe. And this seems to just be the beginning.

At the beginning of the week, my first thought is will the Chinese players be able to go home this year? Now expand that to Italy, because Rome is the first event I expected to be cancelled. The Asian swing is in jeopardy, but we have time.

Being US based, this is different than the norm. In team sports, we have had NFL games moved to different states on short notice due to fires, and NBA playoff games(LA Clippers) moved to another city because of riots(Rodney King). That was surreal, as the city had a curfew, and riot patrol in the streets.

So what happens now? The rankings may become a work in progress. There are 4 ITF events this week, so there will be some change. But the rankings do say 2020/03/--- instead of 2020/03/09. This is where it becomes interesting. I was planning to mention this about Teichmann, because her ranking was so low last year that she not only skipped Indian Wells and Miami, but didn't play a premier until Eastbourne. This also would have been the IW debut for Rybakina and Muchova.

I hate to say it, but if Miami is cancelled, I think WTA results get frozen, while ITF gets counted, leaving the younger upstarts getting penalized for rising so quickly.

Also have seen scuttlebutt of IW/Miami being played in place of the Asian swing.

Now onto the lighter stuff.

What is Gavrilova doing?

Sharapova videos remind me that as a winner of all the slams, she will be welcome as a former champion, so she won't disappear. Even in France.

Andreescu should just prepare for clay at this point.

Bouchard is down to 329.

Bouzkova got better as the week went on. One of the best defensive players in the game already. 65 mph second serve is slower than Svitolina.

Kenin's game wasn't impressive, but her ability to scrape through is.

Stat of the Week- 17- Career high singles ranking for Magdalena Rybarikova.

This is what happens in an Olympic year. Players that make one last push either make it and then retire, like Stephanie Vogt playing and retiring the same week, or others that realize they wont get there.

Since Slovakia started representing themselves in 1996, they have had at least 1 woman in every singles draw. Schmiedlova in 2016, Cibulkova and Hantuchova in 2012 were the most recent. If Tokyo goes off as scheduled, Kuzmova at 82 is their only hope, as she is their only Top 150 player, though they do have 5 between 150-200.

Rybarikova will make her final appearance at Fed Cup. If she doesn't win there, her last will have been a big one, over #11 Sabalenka at Wimbledon. Back in 2017, her Wimbledon run led to her 4 major stretch in which she went SF-3rd-4th-3rd, which to a star might me a so so year, but to a journeywoman, it was her career best at all 4, which led to her CH 17 ranking.

Although under .500 for her career, she reached a final in 7 different seasons(4-4), also reaching 17 ITF finals, going 9-8.

Quiz Time!
Maria Sharapova's retirement leaves us with 16 current slam winners. Which is the year farthest back in which all 4 slam winners are active?


Like Indian Wells, Up/Down Side cancelled.


(A)2005 is wrong, but with Clijsters back, we have 3 active with Serena and Venus still playing.

(D)2019 is wrong, because Andreescu isn't active. Just kidding, just not the year farthest back, but an option because 2018 doesn't qualify with Wozniacki retired.

(C)2009 is wrong on a technicality. Clijsters returned, so all slam winners are active, but there were only 3. Serena and Sveta are the others.

That leaves (B)2017. Serena, Ostapenko, Muguruza, Stephens. Past, present, and future all in one. 0-6 in slam finals since then, including the last 3.

Mon Mar 09, 07:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

That's part of why I ultimately didn't have Kenin as PoW (I made the switch to Svitolina after the Monterrey final, though even she hiccuped for a moment when it came to closing things out), though her ability to win close matches like that shows how much she's grown over the past two seasons as previously she'd sort of perfected how to lose dramatically in a close match.

I haven't seen anything yet that would address a scenario where no tournaments are played for an extended stretch, but I suspect there will be something said soon. I've seen it mentioned that maybe down the line an event is upped a level from low Premier to high (probably during summer HC) to make up for some of the points, but nothing about preserving points from '19 events in a 12-month ranking system or even changing how the ranking system itself works this season. It'll be interesting to see, depending on how things go over the next few weeks w/ tournaments, if there's not some sort of meeting with the players to determine what they'll do with points potentially being carried over from cancelled events. Many were angry about being blindsided by the late decision Sunday about Indian Wells, with some finding out about it on Twitter. Surely the coordination of everything left a lot to be desired.

There's supposed to be a WTA 125 in Mexico next week. We'll see how that one plays out, or if it *is* played whether anyone gets into the draw there that wouldn't have otherwise been involved. Right now, the top seeds are scheduled to be Linette, Peterson and Bouzkova.

A little surprised they didn't decide to hold the event without spectators, as many things in Europe/Asia have recently. The organizers won't even use the word "cancelled" for the event, but it's hard to imagine it'd be "rescheduled." Though I guess if they were *really* determined there might be a pre-U.S. Open spot early in the summer. Can't see it, though. Long range, I guess that Asian swing replacement is at least in the mix.

Answer: being Gavrilova, I guess ;) Especially since tennis hasn't been a big part of that for a while... I guess this is Dasha without her occupational anchor. :)

Too bad Sharapova's name is now out of the rankings -- it might have been interesting to see it Bouchard could have dropped *below* her before that happened. ;)

QUIZ: it made my head hurt trying to place the winners from the years without looking it up, so I went with 2009 because it just seemed about right ... I just looked it up ... hey, I think I'm right (Serena-Sveta-Serena-KC), but not by your answer. I believe I'm going to lodge a formal protest on that one since you didn't say "different" winners. :)

Mon Mar 09, 11:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Looks like I'll be filling the space with a wide variety of "Tennis in the Time of Coronavirus" posts for a while. :/

(First few are already in the works.)

Thu Mar 12, 03:24:00 PM EDT  

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