Friday, December 03, 2021

Ms.Backspin '21: Rolling Out the Red Carpet

There she is, this season's ideal...

The "Ms.Backspin" award has always been a come-one-come-all, equal opportunity competition, throwing hats representing players from all corners of women's professional tennis into the mix when determining the "Player/Players of the Year." This year's free-for-all was no different, and the final standing attempts to present an even-handed listing of the collective performances of the season's most impressive individuals, duos and teams.

This year's top player was not only the most dominant figure in women's tennis in 2021, but her crowning as the latest "Ms.Backspin" also represents a first in this space.

The sound you hear is the crashing through of yet another barrier...


1. Diede de Groot, NED
In a tennis season filled with stunning feats by newcomers and the continued excellence of a handful of veterans, *the* greatest accomplishment in the sport didn't even occur on the WTA tour. Thus, after scratching around in previous versions of this final Top 10 in recent seasons, "Diede the Great" has finally scaled the tower to become the first wheelchair athlete so honored as "Ms.Backspin."

All de Groot did in '21 was put together The Greatest Season in Wheelchair Tennis History, collecting the first "Golden Slam" (four slams + Paralympic Gold) in singles and ultimately winning eleven of the twelve most important titles in the sport (w/ 3 of 4 slam doubles crowns, Para WD Gold and a s/d WC Masters sweep) while also leading the Netherlands to yet another World Team Cup crown. The Dutch star was 41-1 in singles on the year, ending the season on a 36-match win streak that began in February. De Groot won 72 of 76 sets, including 58 straight, and claimed 82 of the 88 sets she played in 2021. Additionally, she was 25-2 in doubles (mostly w/ countrywoman Aniek Van Koot).

Perhaps most intriguingly, Nike appears to be set to exponentially increase its promotional push for de Groot (likely with her own "ddg" line of sports apparel) in a way that could allow her -- and her sport -- to branch out and significantly, though belatedly, increase its exposure on the world's athletic landscape.

[ Naturally, apologies must also go here to the unparalleled WC legend -- and de Groot mentor -- Esther Vergeer, who likely could have posted several seasons similar to that of Diede's if she'd only had the chance. Unfortunately, Vergeer competed in the pre-full major schedule era, during which only three slams had singles wheelchair events (Wimbledon's didn't begin until '16, four years after Vergeer's retirement), and the Paralympics cut that total down to two every fourth year since '21 was the very first time the event's schedule didn't conflict with that of the U.S. Open, leading to the cancellation of the final slam WC tournament of the season. With all the "GOAT" talk that floats around the sport these days, on both the WTA and ATP tours, there is really only *one* figure in the sport's varied eras and disciplines that can enter the fray with nary a competitor in sight (though Diede *might* at least soon appear in her rearview mirror, coming up fast in the side lane), and that's Vergeer. Whenever it comes -- and it's already long overdue -- Vergeer's Hall of Fame enshrinement will finally allow her ummatched role in the sport's history to officially be acknowledged. ]

2. Ash Barty, AUS
The Aussie not only more than backed up her 2019 career year (and '20 holdover ranking, despite never returning to action after the Covid shutdown), but she was also the steady, no-nonsense voice of reason of the women's game as she played the role of "road warrior" in '21 by living out of her tennis bag all year long after leaving Australia following the AO. But for all the upstanding qualities she displayed both before and after matches, Barty's play did most of the talking. She never lost her #1 ranking, finishing the season there for a third straight year (she's held the spot for all but two weeks since first rising to the top position in June '19, and has been there consecutively since September of that year), and led the tour in singles titles with five (on three surfaces), winning her second major (Wimbledon) and two 1000 level events (Miami/Cincinnati). 42-8 on the year, even while (finally) heading home until '22 after the U.S. Open, Barty was at her best against the best. She went 14-1 vs. the Top 20, and 7-1 against Top 10 competition. Undefeated in semifinals (5-0), she was nearly spotless in finals (5-1 - Note: she'd had one SF walkover). While her '21 season didn't feature the all-discipline versatility of her '19 campaign, Barty still managed a MX Bronze in Tokyo and one tour-level WD crown. Over the last three years, the Aussie has gone a combined 110-24 in singles and will enter '22 having held the #1 spot for 108 weeks, already good for eighth-best on the all-time WTA career list.

3t. Barbora Krejcikova, CZE
It seems hard to believe that it was only just over a year ago that Krejcikova was still ranked outside the Top 100 in singles and was mostly seen as "just" a (superior) doubles specialist. The Czech is now a Top 5 player and '21 slam winner in *both* disciplines (three, actually) after putting together (save for the great BJK Cup run that never happened) a season comparable to Barty's all-everything 2019 #1 campaign. Krejcikova led the tour in combined wins (45s/40d), won her maiden singles slam at Roland Garros and collected three solo titles. Her excellence extended to doubles, where she won three crowns (including RG), was ranked #1 for seven weeks, joined with Katerina Siniakova (see below) to become the Czech Republic's first Gold medal winning players in Olympic tennis history, and won her third straight AO mixed crown.

3t. Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
Krejcikova's running mate in '21 was longtime doubles partner Siniakova. Three-time junior slam winners as teenagers in 2013, they've made the rare successful carry-over to the WTA tour. This year, though one wonders how long their teaming may last with Krejcikova's singles fortunes ballooning, was their best yet. When they won, they won big, taking titles at Roland Garros, the Olympics, the WTA Finals and Madrid, as well as reaching the Australian Open final. 4-1 in finals this year, they've now combined to win nine tour-level titles as pros, and currently find themselves just AO & US titles (they've reached the final in both) short of joining the supremely short list of players to have completed a "Career Super Slam" with all four majors, Olympic Gold and tour championship titles under their belts (the only women to have done it are Hall of Famers Pam Shriver and Gigi Fernandez, both individually, with the only duos in WTA/ATP history coming on the men's tour in the form of the Bryans and "Woodies"). Co-#1's at the end of the 2018 season, Krejcikova's seven weeks in the top spot this season preceded Siniakova finishing '21 as the solo year-end #1 (due to winning a fifth '21 title w/ Alona Ostapenko while her regular partner rested).

5. Shuko Aoyama/Ena Shibahara, JPN/JPN
Aside from the Czechs, at the moment (and in WD, that could have by the top of the hour) these two were clearly the most stable and solid partnership on tour in '21 (esp. considering two other successful duos -- Hsieh/Mertens and Melichar-Martinez/Schuurs -- both have announced they won't team in '22). The Japanese pair went 5-0 in finals, claiming the most crowns of any duo on tour as they extended their consecutive finals win streak to eight (since Oct. '19), including claiming their biggest career title in Miami. While their championship haul may not be as overwhelmingly prestigious as that of Krejcikova/Siniakova, Aoyama/Shibahara were nipping at the heels of some other very big '21 results with semifinals at Wimbledon, the WTAF, Indian Wells and Rome.

6. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
In 2021, Muguruza both started and finished near or at the top of her game, while dealing with momentum-slowing issues with injuries in between. She reached finals in three of her first five events, including the Doha/Dubai swing, taking the crown at the latter for her first title in nearly two years and her biggest since '17. The Spaniard finished by claiming her first WTA Finals trophy in Guadalajara, ending the year with three wins in last five tournaments (both represent career season highs) as she wound up the season-ending #3, her third career Top 3 season and first in four years.

7. Anett Kontaveit, EST
The Estonian has been one of the most surface-versatile (yet frustratingly underachieving) players on tour for years. In 2021, after a midseason coaching switch to Dmitry Tursunov, Kontaveit caught fire down the stretch like few *ever* have. She finished on a 29-4 tear, a sprint which immediately followed a five-match losing streak, that saw her win four titles (she'd previously been 1-6 in finals) in the summer/fall, reach finals in four of her last six events, climb from #30 a week before the U.S. Open to #7 at season's end, and make her maiden WTAF appearance, reaching the final. Her seven Top 10 wins on the year came on three surfaces. She failed to reach a slam Round of 16, or a 1000-level semi, but Kontaveit will now (or should) enter '22 finally fully knowing what she's capable of. Her big event high seeding will now present her with the more brightly-lit path down which she can *next* travel. Or not (we shall soon see).

8. Desirae Krawczyk, USA
To paraphrase former NFL coach Bum Phillips (without the Texas accent), in 2021, Krawczyk showed that she can "take her'n and beat your'n," and "take your'n and beat her'n." It all played out in the season's final three mixed slam competitions, as the Bannerette won Roland Garros alongside Joe Salisbury, then teamed with Neal Skupski at Wimbledon to defeat Salisbury & Harriet Dart in the final. Knowing where the money is, Salisbury teamed with Krawczyk again in New York and went along for the wild ride once more as Krawczyk won her *third* straight MX slam crown. She's now an AO title away from becoming just the fourth woman to complete a Career MX Slam since Martina Navratilova did it in 2003 (29 years after she'd won her first, FWIW). The others were Daniela Hantuchova (completed in 2005), Cara Black (2010) and Martina Hingis (2016). But Krawczyk's success wasn't limited to just MX action. She also won a pair of WD crowns with Alexa Guarachi, and reached two more finals alongside Giuliana Olmos and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. For the record, the last woman to win *four* straight MX slam titles was Billie Jean King, across the 1967-68 seasons.

9t. Naomi Osaka, JPN
So much has happened since, it's easy to forget that Osaka was 2021's first grand slam singles champ, winning her fourth career hard court major in February in Melbourne to further extend a seasons with a major title streak that began in 2018. This past season for Osaka won't be remembered for that, nor for her lighting of the Olympic cauldron in Tokyo, but for her absences from the court and domination of the headlines after stirring controversy and generating much (sometimes heated) debate about the "mental health" of athletes starting with her initial (ill-conceived) pre-Roland Garros announcement that she would refuse to adhere -- win or lose -- to the generally agreed-upon condition in pro tennis of conducting live post-match press conferences. While strong points were made on both sides of the issue, no one could question the power that Osaka's public (mostly through social media) utterances now command. Just as with her words and actions in 2020 regarding police brutality (including a U.S. Open title run that featured her wearing masks emblazoned with the names of Black victims of such violence), Osaka's words often serve as blood to a shiver of sharks. While this development has on occasion ridiculously led some to virtually canonize nearly every waking thought of the 24-year old, it should also be noted that in recent weeks the awareness and development of the #WhereIsPengShuai movement didn't *truly* take off, though a few pro players (most notably the more below-the-radar Alize Cornet and Nicolas Mahut) had broached the subject of the former doubles #1's "disappearance" first, until Osaka's tweet about the issue seemed to open the door wide for greater condemnation and questions (from tour players, the WTA and CEO Steve Simon, and other international entities) about the Chinese government's handling of Peng's sexual allegations against a formerly high-ranking official. Sometimes such a natural megaphone can play a role even greater than anyone could ever imagine, and Osaka is certainly in possession of one at the moment.

As far as her actions on the court, though, '21 was nearly a wash for Osaka outside of the AO. She played just four other slam matches, pulling out of RG mid-event as the controversy grew, then skipping Wimbledon entirely. A QF in Miami was her best 1000-level result, she was 11-6 outside of Melbourne, and never played a Top 10 opponent all year (she *did* defeat then-#11 Serena Williams in the AO semis, and was 3-1 vs. the Top 20). At this point, though, Osaka is as much a cultural touchstone (and lightning rod) as a tennis player, a dual-purpose being fully conceived in the mind of the public within the crucible in which the globe has existed these last two years.

9t. Emma Raducanu, GBR
No one has ever burst onto the tennis scene -- with a special kind of rocket fuel, or maybe some sort of witch's spell? -- quite like the 18-year old Brit did in '21. Raducanu only made her tour-level debut (as the world #366) during the grass season, then immediately found herself in the Wimbledon MD as a #338-ranked wild card who drove into the Round of 16 before the overwhelming pressure of the moment caused her in-match retirement. At the end of the summer, she made her way through U.S. Open qualifying... then swept through seven more opponents without dropping a set, becoming the first qualifier to win a major title, doing so in just her second slam MD appearance, quicker than any player ever, while also becoming the first British woman to win a slam singles crown since 1977 (Virginia Wade/WI) and only the second in New York in the Open era ('68 Wade). All *that*, combined with a personal story that includes a Romanian and Chinese heritage, and Raducanu's sudden rise hit the sport -- both on the court and off (see her avalanche of immediate personal appearances and endorsements -- like no player since (and, still, in a different way) a 17-year old Maria Sharapova rose to prominance nearly two decades ago. 2-5 in "regular" tour events in her career (though she *did* also reach a WTA 125 challenger final just before the Open), the British teenager/pro tennis neophyte went 10-1 in majors and finished the season as the #19-ranked player in the world. Ummm... whaa?? (Headspinning.) Exactly. Raducanu is 2020-21 tennis in a nutshell.

11. Aryna Sabalenka, BLR
Sabalenka continued her upward progression in the sport, but her efforts still left some substantial "meat on the bone" for future cravings. The Belarusian broke out of her self-imposed slam box, reaching back-to-back semis in London and New York, won her first clay title at Madrid (1000; def. #1 Barty in the final), reached three finals (2-1) and finished the year at #2. She also picked up her second career slam WD crown with Elise Mertens in Australia, and spent six weeks as the doubles #1 immediately afterward, but then mostly focused on singles the remainder of the season. Her late-year efforts were thwarted due to coming down with Covid (Sabalenka was unvaccinated), causing her to miss the fall edition of Indian Wells and likely led to her rather obvious difficulties (esp. on serve) and lack of match toughness at the WTAF, where she nonetheless had a shot to play her way into the semis only to see a victory slip through her fingers (largely by her own doing) vs. Maria Sakkari in the final advance-or-exit RR match.

12. Paula Badosa, ESP
Badosa's season was the picture of resilience, as she went from an extra long hard quarantine for Covid in February (when she was #70) to her breakout event in Charleston in April (def. #1 Barty en route on a SF run) to becoming the first Spaniard to reach the Madrid semis and winning her maiden title in Belgrade (both in May), then reaching the Roland Garros QF in June. With her confidence growing, she reached the Olympic and Cincinnati QF before finally crashing the party by winning the fall edition of Indian Wells and soon after cracking the Top 10 and making her first WTAF appearance (reaching the semis). Whew! Hmmm, as Badosa was a player who'd previously been fighting against a mountain-sized level of high expectations since her junior days, I guess all that sudden success explains the Spaniard's series of joyous collapse-and-cry celebrations over the course of the season, huh?

13. Elise Mertens, BEL
Once again, Mertens was a dual threat. The Belgian reached two slam Round of 16s in singles, notched two Top 5 wins (Halep/Svitolina) and won the Gippsland crown in Melbourne early in the year. Her best efforts, though, came in doubles. After winning the AO with recently consistent teammate Aryna Sabalenka, she found a new partner in crime in Hsieh Su-wei when the Belarusian pulled back from her WD commitments. After a rough start, the new duo won Wimbledon (Mertens' third major, leaving her a RG win away from a Career Doubles Slam) and Indian Wells, and reached the WTAF final. Mertens spent thirteen weeks at doubles #1, but will have yet another new WD partner in '22, as she recently announced that she and Veronika Kudermetova are set to join forces next season.

14. Maria Sakkari, GRE
Sakkari spent the season posting career-best and groundbreaking results while also remaining *just* on the outside of something even bigger. She became the first Greek woman to climb into the Top 10, but just missed out on a Top 5 finish (#6). Sakkari also reached a pair of slam semifinals in Paris and Flushing Meadows, more firsts in the Open era for a Greek woman, but failed to convert a MP at RG vs. eventual champ Barbora Krejcikova that would have put her into her maiden slam final. In fact, Sakkari reached just a single final in '21 despite leading the tour in semifinal appearances, going 1-7 in such matches, also falling in similar fashion in big stage events in Miami and the WTAF. She reached her third career final in Ostrava!!!, only to become the latest victim of Anett Kontaveit's overwhelming 4Q push down the stretch. Sakkari's lone tour title came two seasons ago. Still, even without the more tangible rewards that come in the form of trophies (or RU plates) for her shelves back home, Sakkari's career season has elevated her into the top tier of the tour. Speaking of such company, after having recorded ten Top 10 wins from 2017-20, the Greek added a whopping nine to that total in '21 alone, backing up her new standing and giving hope that that "more" that she missed out on this year will be coming her way soon.

15. Iga Swiatek, POL
While the Pole didn't rise to the heights of her RG title run last fall, Swiatek *was* the most consistent (though unspectacular, reaching her lone QF in Paris) slam performer on tour this season. She was the only woman to reach at least the Round of 16 at all four majors. The feat helped fuel her ranking rise (as high as #4) and a #9 finish, making the 20-year old the youngest player in the Top 10. Swiatek added two singles titles in Adelaide and (a biggie) in Rome, and even reached her first slam (and tour-level) final in doubles (again, at RG) alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

16. Ons Jabeur, TUN
Tennis history's barriers continue to be no match for Jabeur, as she became the first Tunisian, Arab and North African to reach the singles Top 10. She reached three (of her four career) finals this year, finally winning (on her third career try) her maiden tour title in Birmingham. Soon after, Jabeur played into her second slam QF ('20 AO) at Wimbledon, and later reached the Indian Wells semis. After having collected four career Top 10 wins prior to '21, she notched five this season alone and would have reached her first WTAF (she was the first alternate, but ultimately withdrew rather than make the trip to Guadalajara) had it not been for Anett Kontaveit's multi-month charge that allowed the Estonian to edge her out for the final spot in the regular season's closing weeks.

17. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS
A decade and a half into her career, Pavlyuchenkova finally had something resembling the "career year" that most envisioned for her when she was dominating the juniors in the mid-2000s. In the season the Russian turned 30, she reached her maiden slam SF and final, finishing as the runner-up at Roland Garros. She did so in her 52nd career slam MD appearance, the longest its taken anyone to reach their first major final. But it doesn't end in Paris. Her Madrid SF was her best result in a 1000-level event since 2010, and her #11 finish her best ever, period (and third Top 20 year, stretched out over a 10-year stretch with previous final rankings in 2011 and '17). Pavlyuchenkova even took home her first Olympic medal, winning the MX Gold in Tokyo alongside Andrey Rublev. She topped off her year by helping to lead Russia (as the "Russian Tennis Federation") to the BJK Cup crown in Prague, the nation's fifth overall Cup title and first since 2008. Of course, even in her "best" season, 12-time tour singles champ left a bit "undone," failing to win a tour title for the third straight season. Hey, Pavlyuchenkova's gotta Pavlyuchenkova.

18. Leylah Fernandez, CAN
With Bianca Andreescu's comeback still a work in progress, Fernandez burst past her countrywoman to become Canada's top player. After being the youngest tour singles finalist in '20 in Acapulco, the teenager returned to Mexico this year (in Monterrey) and won her maiden tour title in March. Her Connors-esque, crowd-stirring surge into the U.S. Open final -- during which she knocked off three straight Top 5 players (Osaka, Svitolina and Sabalenka) -- made her an instant fan favorite and would-be star, even as she fell one match short vs. Emma Raducanu in the first all-teen slam final match-up since 1999 (S.Williams/Hingis - U.S. Open). Fernadez followed up with an Indian Wells Round of 16 and finished '21 ranked inside the Top 25.

19. Hsieh Su-wei, TPE
As always, Hsieh was memorable. In her only significant singles result, the 35-year old became the oldest first-time slam quarterfinalist (in her 38th major MD) with her final eight run in Melbourne. The rest of her season focused on doubles. The quirky vet, with her most recent partner (Barbora Strycova) retiring, took some time finding a new regular duo-mate before Elise Mertens (released from her partnership w/ Sabalenka) came into the picture. After a few early missed opportunities, the team eased into a run as a both fun *and* successful force that won Wimbledon and Indian Wells (giving her a 16-2 career record in slam and 1000-level finals) and ended the season by reaching the WTAF final, falling to Krejcikova/Siniakova (Hsieh is 1-3 in finals at the tour championships, with her only win coming in '13 alongside Peng Shuai, w/ whom she was 12-2 in WTA finals) in what turns out to have been the final match of the Hsieh/Mertens oeuvre. Hsieh, who first reached the position in 2014, spent fifteen weeks this season atop the doubles rankings, but ultimately came up a match win short in Guadalajara of finishing the season at #1 for a second straight season.

20. Dasha Kasatkina, RUS
After two years of trying to find her way out of the wilderness following her Top 10 campaign in 2018, Kasatkina's game and in-match grit and fighting spirit finally pushed her back up the tour rankings. Without even an appearance in a final since '18, the Russian reached four in '21, winning a pair of titles, including one in Saint Petersburg in her homeland to go along with the one she claimed in Moscow a few years back. Kasatkina grabbed her first Top 10 win (Iga Swiatek in Eastbourne) since '18, and ended her season by providing a key assist in the Russian triumph in the Billie Jean King Cup finals, as the Hordettes made it through round robin play in the new format and won SF (vs.USA) and final (vs.SUI) ties to take the crown.

Belinda Bencic/SUI, Marie Bouzkova/Lucie Hradecka (CZE/CZE), Jennifer Brady/USA, Danielle Collins/USA, Gaby Dabrowski/CAN, Diede de Groot/Aniek Van Koot (NED/NED), Coco Gauff/USA, Viktorija Golubic/SUI, Alexa Guarachi/CHI, Darija Jurak/Andreja Klepac (CRO/SLO), Nadiia Kichenok/Raluca Olaru (UKR/ROU), Veronika Kudermetova/RUS, Nicole Melichar-Martinez/Demi Schuurs (USA/NED), Ellen Perez/AUS, Karolina Pliskova/CZE, Russian Tennis Federation BJK Cup Team, Liudmila Samsonova/RUS, Luisa Stefani/BRA, Samantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai (AUS/CHN), Clara Tauson/DEN, Marketa Vondrousova/CZE, Tamara Zidansek/SLO

2001 Jennifer Capriati / USA
2002 Serena Williams / USA
2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne / BEL
2004 Maria Sharapova / RUS
2005 Kim Clijsters / BEL
2006 Amelie Mauresmo / FRA
2007 Justine Henin / BEL
2008 Cara Black & Liezel Huber / ZIM-USA
2009 Italian Fed Cup Team
2010 Francesca Schiavone / ITA
2011 Petra Kvitova / CZE
2012 Serena Williams / USA
2013 Serena Williams / USA
2014 Czech Republic Fed Cup Team
2015 Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza / SUI-IND
2016 Angelique Kerber / GER
2017 Latisha Chan & Martina Hingis / TPE-SUI
2018 Simona Halep / ROU
2019 Ash Barty / AUS
2020 Sofia Kenin / USA
2021 Diede de Groot / NED (WC)

=YEARLY "Ms. Backspin" Top 10's=
1. Jennifer Capriati, USA
2. Lindsay Davenport, USA
3. Venus Williams, USA
4t. Kim Clijsters, BEL
4t. Justine Henin, BEL
6. Martina Hingis, SUI
7. Jelena Dokic, AUS
8. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
9. Serena Williams, USA
10. Monica Seles, USA
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Venus Williams, USA
3. Jennifer Capriati, USA
4. Kim Clijsters, BEL
5. Anna Smashnova, ISR
6. Daniela Hantuchova, SVK
7. Monica Seles, USA
8. Justine Henin, BEL
9. Jelena Dokic, AUS
10. Paola Suarez, ARG
1. Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Kim Clijsters, BEL
4t. Anastasia Myskina, RUS
4t. Elena Dementieva, RUS
6. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS
8. Ai Sugiyama, JPN
9t. Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP
9t. Paola Suarez, ARG
1. Maria Sharapova, RUS
2. Lindsay Davenport, USA
3. Anastasia Myskina, RUS
4. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
5. Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
7. Virginia Ruano Pascual/Paola Suarez, ESP/ARG
8. Elena Dementieva, RUS
9. Serena Williams, USA
10. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
1. Kim Clijsters, BEL
2. Lindsay Davenport, USA
3. Mary Pierce, FRA
4. Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
5. Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
6. Maria Sharapova, RUS
7. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
8. Cara Black, ZIM
9. Patty Schnyder, SUI
10. Nadia Petrova, RUS
1. Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2. Justine Henin-Hardenne, BEL
3. Maria Sharapova, RUS
4. Nadia Petrova, RUS
5. Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
6. ITA Fed Cup Team
7. Martina Hingis, SUI
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
9. Kim Clijsters, BEL
10. Nicole Vaidisova, CZE
1. Justine Henin, BEL
2. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
3. Venus Williams, USA
4. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
5. Serena Williams, USA
6. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
7. Anna Chakvetadze, RUS
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
9. Maria Sharapova, RUS
10. Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur, USA/AUS
1. Cara Black/Liezel Huber, ZIM/USA
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Jelena Jankovic, SRB
4. Maria Sharapova, RUS
5. Venus Williams, USA
6. Dinara Safina, RUS
7. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
8. RUS Fed Cup Team
9. Elena Dementieva, RUS
10. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
1. ITA Fed Cup Team
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova, RUS
4. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA
5. Nuria Llagostera-Vives/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, ESP/ESP
6. Dinara Safina, RUS
7. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
8. Kim Clijsters, BEL
9. USA Fed Cup Team
10. Elena Dementieva, RUS
1. Francesca Schiavone, ITA
2. Kim Clijsters, BEL
3. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4. Serena Williams, USA
5. Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta, ARG/ITA
6. ITA Fed Cup Team
7. Vera Zvonareva, RUS
8. Samantha Stosur, AUS
9. Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
10. USA Fed Cup Team
1. Petra Kvitova, CZE
2. Li Na, CHN
3. Liezel Huber, USA
4. Kveta Peschke/Katarina Srebotnik, CZE/SLO
5. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
6. Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, USA/USA
7. Samantha Stosur, AUS
8. CZE Fed Cup Team
9. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
10. Kim Clijsters, BEL
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
3. Maria Sharapova, RUS
4. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
5. Agnieszka Radwanska, POL
6. Sara Errani, ITA
7. CZE Fed Cup Team
8. Angelique Kerber, GER
9. Petra Kvitova, CZE
10. Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA/USA
1. Serena Williams, USA
2. Victoria Azarenka, BLR
3. Simona Halep, ROU
4. Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
5. ITA Fed Cup Team
6. Roberta Vinci, ITA
7. Maria Sharapova, RUS
8. Marion Bartoli, FRA
9. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
10. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
1. CZE Fed Cup Team
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. Maria Sharapova, RUS
4. Petra Kvitova, CZE
5. Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
6. Simona Halep, ROU
7. Li Na, CHN
8. Genie Bouchard, CAN
9. Ana Ivanovic, SRB
10. Peng Shuai, CHN
1. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2. Serena Williams, USA
3. CZE Fed Cup Team
4. Angelique Kerber, GER
5. Simona Halep, ROU
6. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
7. Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
8. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
9. Maria Sharapova, RUS
10. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
1. Angelique Kerber, GER
2. CZE Fed Cup Team
3. Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic, FRA/FRA
4. Serena Williams, USA
5. Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
6. Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
7. Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
8. Karolina Pliskova, CZE
9. FRA Fed Cup Team
10. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
1. Latisha Chan & Martina Hingis, TPE/SUI
2. Alona Ostapenko, LAT
3. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
4. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
5. Simona Halep, ROU
6. Elina Svitolina, UKR
7. Venus Williams, USA
8. Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova, USA/CZE
9. Caroline Garcia, FRA
10t. USA Fed Cup Team
10t. CoCo Vandeweghe, USA
1. Simona Halep, ROU
2. Naomi Osaka, JPN
3. Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
4. Angelique Kerber, GER
5. Petra Kvitova, CZE
6. CZE Fed Cup Team
7. Kiki Bertens, NED
8. Diede de Groot, NED (WC)
9. Sloane Stephens, USA
10. Elina Svitolina, UKR
1. Ash Barty, AUS
2. Bianca Andreescu, CAN
3. Diede de Groot, NED (WC)
4. Elise Mertens/Ayrna Sabalenka, BEL/BLR
5. Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
6. Naomi Osaka, JPN
7. Hsieh Su-wei/Barbora Strycova, TPE/CZE
8. Simona Halep, ROU
9. French Fed Cup Team
10. Serena Williams, USA
1. Sofia Kenin, USA
2. Naomi Osaka, JPN
3. Simona Halep, ROU
4. Iga Swiatek, POL
5. Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic, HUN/FRA
6. Hsieh Su-wei/Barbora Strycova, TPE/CZE
7. Yui Kamiji, JPN (WC)
8. Aryna Sabalenka, BLR
9. Elena Rybakina, KAZ
10. Victoria Azarenka, BLR


All for now.


Blogger colt13 said...

OT- Why is Alec Baldwin doing interviews?

Always like Bum Phillips references, almost like Bobby "Dagumit" Bowden.

Old timey smoking on court?

I would have Krejcikova #1. Can't go wrong with de Groot or Barty, but chose her due to winning titles in singles, doubles and mixed. To keep playing well took some effort.

Only Top 20 singles players to win both singles and doubles titles? Krejcikova, Barty, Sabalenka. I would have thought Mertens, but she did so finishing at 21. So did #22 Gauff.

If you reverse, Krejcikova, Mertens, Kudermetova were doubles Top 20 to win singles title.

Stat of the Week- 21- Number of Top 10 wins for Johanna Konta.

Player A
4- CH singles
88- CH doubles
4- titles
SF-SF-SF-QF- Best slam runs

Player B
4- CH singles
62- CH doubles
11- titles
4R-SF-SF-SF- Best slam runs

Player A is Konta. Player B is Henman.

I once jokingly compared Konta to Henman, saying that she is destined to be the one before The One. Henman gave Brits hope before Murray, and Konta did so before Raducanu got that elusive slam.

Not 77 years, but 42.

Konta is going to hold an odd place in history. Her peak wasn't very long. It does fit her career.

Making her ITF debut in 2006, than playing her first full season in 2008, it took her until 2014 to have a season in which she played more WTA events than ITF. Playing 16, she lost in qualifying in 8.

She cracked the Top 100 for the first time that year, reaching 89. It was 2015 in which she got that first Top 10 win, vs Ekaterina Makarova. She picked up 2 more that season, followed by 6 in 2016 and 4 in 2017.

After a dip in 2018, she stormed back with a vengeance, getting a career high 7 in 2019.

The last 2 years were light, the twist being that her last career win was the only Top 10 one of this stretch, getting Svitolina in Montreal.

Konta rides off into the sunset, already having taken her name off the rankings.

Quiz Time!

British tennis in the 90's was a dead zone. Which player was the highest ranked more than once? Multiple answers accepted.

A.Jo Durie
B.Monique Javer
C.Clare Wood
D.Samantha Smith

Interlude- Kids rank ice cream


Like the Sun Belt Conference, sometimes you can be the best, and still not be nationally relevant. In Britain's case, some years they weren't even close.

(B)Javer is wrong. Even though she had a career high of 56, she was the top ranked woman in 1993 at 185. Her claim to fame is winning Singapore in 1988, months before Sara Gomer became the last Brit to win for 24 years.

(C)Wood is correct, but not the highest on the list. She was top Brit in 1994(136) and 1995(187). She did reach as high as 77, winning 1 doubles title.

(A)Durie does not seem obvious, as she peaked in the early 80's. Reaching #5 back then, she was mostly a part time player in the 90's, but was the highest ranked player in 1990(64) 1991(60) and doubled down in 1992(60).

(D)Smith might be the saddest story. Like Durie, she was the best for 3 years. Unlike Durie, it was at the beginning of her career. Ending 1996 at 141, and 1997 at 126, she was on the way up.

Some people remember her beating Conchita Martinez at Wimbledon in 1998. That became the peak of her career as she got injured during her R16 run, went 1-10 at WTA level in 1999, and was out of the sport by 2001.

Like most Brits, she found her way to the booth once her playing career ended.

Mon Dec 06, 10:49:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

OT 2.0: Why does the ATP (or ITF) even go to the bother of releasing "statements" on issues if they're not really going to say anything? (I mean, other than all they say by not saying anything, of course.)

Bowden, former coach of FSU ("Free Shoes University"). (Courtesy of Steve "The ol' Ball Coach" Spurrier.) ;)

Fact: I originally had Krejicikova alone at #2, ahead of Barty... which would have made her the WTA PoY, which I would have named her "straight up" w/o de Groot in the mix. But since I wanted to "tie" her with her teaming w/ Siniakova, which I *wouldn't* (alone) have put above Barty, I bumped Barty up to #2 and Krejcikova/Krejcikova-Siniakova to #3. It doesn't always make sense, I guess. :/

It's interesting now that the most successful post-Wade women's player retired just a few months after one of her countrywoman broke the slam-less run. Any pressure Konta might have felt would have been gone from here onward. Konta's final singles title came three months *before* the U.S. Open, and her final match a few weeks prior. So she never played a match "in the clear." Welp. And now we won't have the Konta Coaching Watch every few months anymore, either. :(

(At least the annual doubles partnership carousel is an evergreen event.)

Quiz: went with Samantha Smith.

Tue Dec 07, 08:26:00 PM EST  
Blogger colt13 said...

And so it begins. While players trying to get into AO quaifying play in Angers 125K, the MD list is out. Andreescu is out, as well as Serena. Brady, shown recently in a walking boot, is still in. Also out from Q, though somewhat expected, are Kuznetsova and Siegemund.

Wed Dec 08, 09:11:00 AM EST  

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