Saturday, January 28, 2023

A Down Under Upgrade

Upgrade complete. "Aryna 2.0" has now been installed. How it will change the immediate future of the WTA remains to be seen.

This year's Australian Open singles finalists were largely the same, but very different. Both came equipped with power to spare. But while dynamic #5-seed Aryna Sabalenka is often bombastic, loud and visceral, the silky bop of #22 Elena Rybakina is deadly but smooth, as quiet and unpresuming as her button-down on-court persona.

Their dual date with destiny provided a fascinating final match-up on Saturday night in Melbourne, as both Sabalenka and Rybakina were meeting up with the rare player they could not habitually overpower on a level playing field. Both had withstood opening set challenges vs. their semifinal opponents (Sabalenka vs. Magda Linette, Rybakina vs. Vika Azarenka), then took off once they seized control of the momentum, playing with downhill flow as they outhit both en route to the final.

The AO final seemed to offer a case where the winner would have to bring *more* in order to come out on top. Not necessarily more *power*, but an additional internal attribute that could propel them through the inevitable fog of potential frustration when facing the reality that big hitting wasn't going to get the job done on its own.

Rybakina rose above the WTA fray at Wimbledon last summer, an event Sabalenka (who'd defeated her in the 4th Round at the AELTC a year earlier) was barred from playing due to the LTA's ban of RUS/BLR players due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian-born and residing, but avoiding the grass court banishment due to having represented Kazakstan since 2018, Rybakina blasted her way through the draw (aka "Rybakinetics") to her maiden slam crown with an unwrinkled game highlighted by easy punch off the ground and on serve, as well as an almost preternaturally calm bearing between the lines. Due to the event withholding ranking points, though, Rybakina didn't benefit in tour standing, and with her *zero* point sum as a "reward" for her triumphant fortnight wasn't even able to finish the year in the Top 20 (she'd been an easy Top 10er with the earned additions) or qualify for the WTA Finals.

The better court assignments didn't come, either. While Rybakina was already somewhat "underwhelmed" and dazed by her first major title run, she was irked at the lack of tangible respect it'd garnered her, as well. Placed on an outside court in her first post-SW19 major for her 1st Round U.S. Open match, she failed to advance to the 2nd. In Melbourne, she opened play on Court 13 -- in the fourth match up, right after the much-anticipated Osorio/Udvardy tilt -- and had to fight her way through a string of big names to finally get the spotlight that she deserved, knocking off in succession the '22 runner-up (Danielle Collins), world #1 (Iga Swiatek) and two more former slam winners (Alona Ostapenko + Azarenka) while advancing to her second major final in seven months, dropping just one set along the way as she improved to 13-1 in slam play since the start of last year's Wimbledon.

A year ago, Sabalenka couldn't have looked less ready to play for a slam crown, despite having been a Top 10 fixture since early 2019 and a two-time major semifinalist in 2021. The ("flagless," for the purposes of tour play) Belarusian's serve was routinely producing 15+ DF a match, exposing technical flaws in a game already sometimes hamstrung by Sabalenka's inability to handle her emotions in big matches and unwillingness to play with slightly less risk by pulling back a bit on her big shots when prudence was a more advantageous tactic than shear blunt force. Finally admitting that something had to be done, Sabalenka and her coaching team (led by Anton Dubrov) utilized a biomechanical specialist to fix the kinks in her swing, making it more reliable and less of a dragging anchor that triggered her frustrations.

It paid immediate dividends, as Sabelenka reached the U.S. Open semis, leading eventual champ Swiatek 4-2 in the 3rd set, and advanced to the WTA Finals, where she became the fourth woman in tour history to post wins over the world #1 (Iga, in a redemptive semi), #2 and #3 in a single event, reaching the final and losing to Caroline Garcia but gaining more confidence during the week about her direction than any disappointment that came with the loss.

The surge carried over into '23 after a good training period in the offseason got Sabalenka into the best physical condition of her career. The goal of the mental aspect of her game similarly improving would make the biggest difference, though, as it was tasked with riding and trying to survive the wave associated with the likely rise and fall of the beta testing of her game's additional upgrades. Sabalenka stopped working with a sports psychologist during the offseason, and this past week in Melbourne took to calling herself her "own psychologist" after having determined that it was up to *her* to handle her own problems. It was a retro, eyebrow-raising move on a tour that has recently (largely due to Swiatek's actions) come to embrace such assistance after decades of the practice being viewed by some players as making them appear "mentally weak."

Whether the move proves to be a long-term success, or a short-term patch right for *the moment* as she tries to mold herself into the image of a more self-sufficient, problem-solving "2.0" version of Aryna who assumes the sole responsibility of "fixing" what remains of what had "held her back" to this point in her career, Sabalenka *had* handled her own business quite well coming into the AO final. She'd won all 10 of the matches (and 20 sets) she'd played in '23, keeping her word to play with a more calm head space (ala Rybakina), avoiding the frustrations that often thwarted her progress in the past. It helped that her serving issues appeared largely under control, with her new technique and practice tactics making it a more reliable weapon.

Throughout this AO, when faced with a bad string of shots, pressure from her opponent's success, or an occasional DF on a big point, the "new" Sabalenka has usually smiled and put on a positive face, moved on and immediately rebounded with an uptick in her play. It was a pattern that helped her greatly vs. Linette in the semis, as the Pole had extended points and produced errors that the old Sabalenka may have allowed to eat away at her confidence and state of mind. Sabalenka 2.0 seems to have learned to push the "amnesia button" and not allow one bad point to infect the *rest* of the game in which it occurred, let alone allow it to cause her to lose focus and then control of the match.

It had put her on the proverbial doorstep on Saturday, ready to finally "kick the door in" and seize her top career goal by force (and by force of practice -- and hopefully mastered -- will).

With Sabalenka holding a 3-0 edge vs. Rybakina in their career match-ups, with all three having gone three sets, the final seemed to be set up to play out as a contest to see whether both could continue to handle the most pressure-filled moments of a match with the sort of focus necessary to win seven straight matches and lift a slam champion's trophy (in this case, the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup). Would Rybakina's past slam final experience carry her to a second title in the last three majors, or would Sabalenka's attempt at self-improvement prove to be a career-changing course adjustment?

After talk of the power outlay of the final being something close to "off the charts" (and maybe the most ever in a slam final, or at least any not involving a Williams), the notion played out early in the opening set. After DF'ing on the first point of the match, Sabalenka put in a pair of aces to hold. Not to be outdone, Rybakina had three aces in her first service game. The two combined for six aces in the match's first eleven points.

But Sabalenka's old bugaboo (i.e. double faults) started to creep back into her game, and Rybakina's underrated return game took advantage of it, pressuring the Belarusian's serve with big returns that put an even bigger burden on Sabalenka's first serve. After taking a 40/love lead in game 3, Sabalenka's DF gave the Kazakh a BP, and she converted it to lead 2-1.

While Sabalenka wrestled with her serve, Rybakina continued to roll with her own. She fired an ace to hold for 4-2. Sabalenka managed to make up the difference with her return game, using the advantage to dictate rallies in game 8 and breaking to get the set back on serve at 4-4. But in her proceeding service game, Sabalenka DF'd to go down love/30. Another DF handed Rybakina the break and gave her the chance to serve out the set. Up 40/love, Rybakina fired a serve down the T, produding a Sabalenka error that gave the Kazakh the opening set at 6-4.

It was Sabalenka's first lost set in 11 matches this season, ending her streak at 20.

As opposed to the opening set, the 2nd began with both servers dodging danger. Sabalenka saved 2 BP in game 1, while Rybakina pulled out of a 15/30 hole to tie things at 1-1. Needing to raise her game or risk getting run out of the match by the in-form Rybakina in a do-or-die set, Sabalenka responded. She fired back-to-back aces to hold for 2-1, then began to drive her groundstrokes deeper into the court, keeping Rybakina's power at bay. Sabalenka stepped in on a return and fired a deep reply that produced a Rybakina error, breaking for a 3-1 lead.

Sabalenka staved off a BP in game 5, extending her scoreboard edge to 4-1. Rybakina saved three BP in game 6, with the Belarusian badly overhitting a second serve return on #3, holding for 4-2 and avoiding falling behind by a double-break. But the Kazakh couldn't carve out an advantage a game later that might have flipped the momentum in her favor in the set's eleventh hour.

Instead, Sabalenka, not dwelling on her missed opportunity for a near insurmountable lead, held for 5-2. Sabalenka again couldn't break Rybakina in game 8, as the Kazakh saved a pair of BP and held behind an array of shots that included an ace, a backhand winner and a half-volley pick-up that avoided her facing a third BP. Still, Sabalenka got the chance to serve out the set at 5-3. A poorly executed drop shot from Sabalenka was easily taken down the line to knot the score at 30/30, leaving Rybakina two points from getting the set back on serve. But Sabalena emphatically slammed the door (that she'd left partially ajar) shut, firing back-to-back aces to hold and take the set at 6-3.

In the 3rd set, all of Sabalenka's hopes, dreams and history came to bear for one final trial by fire.

Both players handily held serve through the opening games, but it was the Belarusian who steadily began to pick up pace, off the ground (led by her backhand) and in her rush toward her maiden slam title. Rybakina, for her part, battled until the end, saving a BP in game 5, firing off her two fastest serves of the tournament, and holding on her third GP for 3-2. Sabalenka responded with a two-ace hold of her own.

In game 7, Sabalenka's relentless power game, with new balls being injected into the mix, finally found its most solid footing. On her third BP of the game, Sabalenka crushed a second serve return off the baseline, nearly knocking Rybakina off her feet. The Belarusian's put-away smash got the break for a 4-3 lead.

Sabalenka consolidated the break with an ace (#16) on her fourth GP to move within one game of the title. After Rybakina's hold, Sabalenka's 2.0 "moment of truth" had arrived. Her self-improvement goal, and her trust in herself and the success of that process, would either sink her effort, or lift her to her desired position in the winner's circle.

Right on brand, it wasn't an easy task to fulfill. After firing her 17th ace up the T to reach MP, Sabalenka engaged with Rybakina in a push-and-pull contest down to the wire. Sabalenka DF'd on one MP, and failed to get her first serve in on two others, losing the points with wayward shots. In between, Rybakina held a BP, saved by Sabalenka with a big wide service winner.

Finally, one (the final one) of her big serve and forehand combos in the set gave Sabalenka her fourth MP chance. A Rybakina shot sailed beyond the baseline, bringing down the curtain on Sabalenka's quest, with her 4-6/6-3/6-4 victory finally completing what had seemed to be her career destiny since she first appeared on the scene and bashed her way to the top tier of the sport.

Trial passed, with flying colors. Sabalenka fired 51 winners on the day, 20 more than her equally powerful opponent.

Sabalenka fell on her back at the baseline, covering her face while sobbing, the end result of a journey that only truly began to find its way once the Belarusian had seemed to have lost hers last season.

One year later, she's the same Sabalenka, but different. Chagrined into admitting and facing up to her game's faults, she's given up her prideful stubbornness (well, for now) and replaced it with a still powerful, but also more resourceful and tactical version of herself. It proved to be the difference between promise that ends a few steps short of her goal and literally cradling it in her arms.

Rybakina proved herself last year in London, but in defeat she'll ironically claim some of the bounty for her efforts that was kept just out of arm's reach last summer. She'll make her Top 10 debut on Monday, becoming the first player representing Kazakhstan to ever do so.

Rather than breaking down the door to a slam title, Sabalenka unlocked it first. As a result, the blueprint for more success remains between her ears as well as on her racket.

Sabalenka will return to her previous career high of #2 this coming week. Can she next challenge Iga, last year's dominant #1? The Pole will have to defend eight titles over the course of this season, including *big* ones in Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Paris and New York. Sabalenka will have to defend none.

Sometimes it's amazing the difference that the identification of a problem, and a successfully employed bit of targeted modification, can foster, huh?

Hmmm, there *have* to be ways that such a notion can be translated to help solve bigger problems in the world than issues with tennis serves and the like, right? Yeah, I know... those are probably just the subjects of dreams.

Well, at least Aryna got to live out hers this weekend in Melbourne. It's a good start.

...earlier in the day on Saturday on MCA, the women's wheelchair final had a little bit of everything. #1 vs. #2. Danger. Frustration. Triumph. Relief. A bit of time travel. And, in the end, the result that you'd been expecting.

But, oh, the path that was taken to get there.

#1 Diede de Groot came in looking to extend her two-year long, 81-match singles winning streak and get the first leg of what she hopes will be a third straight Grand Slam season (the first in '21 was actually a Golden Slam year), while #2 Yui Kamiji was all in on trying for seemingly the umpteenth time to shake free of the overwhelming wake behind her Dutch rival. What was once (pre-peak Diede) Kamiji's dominant position in the sport -- the year that de Groot won her first singles major, Kamiji won the other three -- has in recent years become a case of Yui being forced to assume the "second fiddle" part in the equation of their tennis relationship. That secondary role has, over the last 24 months, (de-)evolved into Kamiji losing 16 straight matches to de Groot even while lording over the rest of the WC field (she's currently on a 48-match non-Diede winning streak).

Still, there has been recent (small) movement in their head-to-head. While Kamiji hasn't defeated de Groot since January 2021, in two of the last three times the two women have played -- at their last slam meeting at the U.S. Open last summer, and just a week ago in the Melbourne Open -- the Japanese former #1 (and entrenched #2) has taken a set off of de Groot. It's no small feat considering de Groot came into today's final having won 156 of her last 160 sets.

But de Groot was bageled in the opening set today. Yes, that's right. She lost 6-0. While Kamiji played well, and de Groot acknowledged as much after the match, the Dutch woman's 5 DF in three service games, 37% first serve percentage and 18% second serve win percentage are the sort of stats that are what de Groot's tennis nightmares are all about. She's been here before, too. In 2020, she struggled mightily with her serve. In a season with no Wimbledon, she won just one major (U.S.), and lost in the opening round in Melbourne and semis in Paris (and not to Kamiji, or even Aniek Van Koot, but Zhu Zhenzhen and Momoko Ohtani, respectively). Once she solved whatever her issues were, she's been virtually unbeatable, losing just one match in the two-years-and-a-few-weeks of seasons since.

De Groot's last love set lost came during that '20 stretch, to Jordanne Whiley in the RG QF (in the 2nd set of a three-set win). Her only others as a pro came in 2018 (2nd set of RG Final vs. Kamiji, after which de Groot stood just 5-12 vs. Yui) and in the World Team Cup in 2014 (when Diede was just 17, and three years from her slam debut year).

Kamiji, so visibly frustrated after recent losses to de Groot, continually found herself in good position for the remainder of the match, and the Dutch #1's winning streak seemed truly endangerd as the match appeared to include three participants: de Groot, Kamiji, and the little devil sitting on de Groot's shoulder. But Diede's better angels won out, while Kamiji would be left to rue a slew of lost opportunities.

In the 2nd set, a de Groot DF put her behind 15/40, then after reaching deuce she DF'd again. A long de Groot backhand put Kamiji up a break at 1-0. After de Groot held on by her fingertips with a game 2 break, she DF'd on GP a game later, then DF'd again to fall BP down. She saved two BP and held for 2-1 lead, then fired a backhand return winner to end a 7:30 game and break Kamiji for a 3-1 edge.

Kamiji immediately got the break back, but a game later an error put her behind 15/40 (she hit a ball into the wall, showing a rare moment of anger), then a DF gave de Groot a break lead again at 4-2. Two games later, serving to stay in the set, Kamiji saved four SP mostly due to de Groot errors, but then DF'd to go SP down a fifth time. She flew a forehand and de Groot took the 2nd at 6-2, a set much closer than the score would indicate.

De Groot didn't suddenly right the ship in the 3rd, either. She saved a BP in the opening game with a net cord dropper, but failed to convert either of two GP (DF'ing on the second). She netted a forehand on Kamiji's second BP and again fell behind by a break. Kamiji pulled out of a love/30 hold to 30/30 in game 2, but de Groot got the break back with a pair of game-ending return winners.

But *again* de Groot dropped serve the next game, as Kamiji's return winner of a second serve put her up a break for a second time in the 3rd (and for a third time in the 2nd/3rd sets combined), but the Japanese player *again* couldn't hold the lead. De Groot's rally-ending backhand winner knotted the set at 2-2. Kamiji then had two BP chances to go up a break for a third time in the set, but de Groot got the hold.

It proved to kick off the deciding stretch of the match, as de Groot followed up her escape by turning around a 40/love Kamiji lead on serve, reaching deuce. De Groot stretched to barely retrieve a ball that took her well into the sidelines on the AD side of the court, leaving Kamiji with an easy volley into the open court... which she promptly dumped into the net to go down BP. A Kamiji error gave de Groot a break lead at 4-2. From there, it was over.

De Groot held comfortably for 5-2, and Kamiji seemed to have accepted the inevitability of another loss to her rival. She DF'd to open game 8 and one wondered, if wheelchair players didn't have a far greater appreciation for the rackets given them by sponsors than their regular tour counterparts do, whether then might be a good time to "crack a wand" to alleviate a little frustration.

Kamiji did reach GP, only to DF again. A sprayed backhand gave de Groot a MP. Kamiji very nearly DF'd again, but saw de Groot clean up her floating shot and put away a return winner to close out the 0-6/6-2/6-2 match, surely one of the uglier -- but most nailbiting -- of her now 17 career slam singles title wins (13 of which have come w/ wins over Kamiji in the final).

De Groot's tough slog gives her nine straight slam titles, 82 consecutive match wins (17 of them over Kamiji), 29 straight victories in slams, three straight AO crowns (and 5 in 6 years), 21 overall tournament titles in a row, and now 12 s/d title sweeps at majors in her career. Since that 5-12 start vs. Kamiji, de Groot has gone 30-3 against her. She's gone 31-3 of their last 34 finals.

During the trophy ceremony, de Groot said she wasn't really sure how she managed to turn the match around. Kamiji would likely concur.

...the junior singles final saw a match-up of 15-year olds who are not only fellow Hordettes, but doubles partners with a years-long friendship.

The teenagers, playing in the opening match on Laver, played a pretty remarkable junior slam final, going 3:18 in the heat in a match with any number of highs and lows, ultimately ending in ecstasy for one and agony for the other. Early on, the two were putting together rallies like this (and they never really stopped)...

In the closing games, Korneeva broke Andreeva to get the chance to serve for the match at 5-4. She dropped serve in a 6-deuce game in which she had two MP and saved four BP before Andreeva finally converted on her fifth attempt. But Korneeva got a break in game 11 and served for the match again, this time closing it out via a 6-7(2)/6-4/7-5 score.

Though they're the same age, Korneeva seemed to naturally assume something of a "big sister" role at the net, comforting the crushed Andreeva and offering words of encouragement (then and later during the trophy ceremony, promising her that they'd play many more times and that she'll win many of those matches).

This final was the fifth all-Russian girls slam singles final, and the first ever in Melbourne. Korneeva joins Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2006-07), Ksenia Pervak (2009) and Elizaveta Kulichkova (2014) as Hordettes who've won the junior AO crown, and is the nation's first slam girls singles champ since Anastasia Potapova at Wimbledon in 2016.

...there is still one women's trophy to be presented, as the women's doubles final will be played on Sunday.

Top seeds Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova will seek to defend their title, win their third straight slam (w/ WI & US) and their fourth consecutive in which they've played (w/ '22 AO) against first-time slam finalists Shuko Aoyama & Ena Shibahara (#10 seeds).

The Czechs have won 23 straight slam matches, and are a combined 32-4 overall since the start of last season. They're 64-11 from 2021 forward, and 82-15 in the 2020s.


Why the H-E-double-breadsticks were there no commentators for the feed of the women's wheelchair final? It was played on a show court (MCA) when there were only *two* matches being played (the other being the girls' final on Laver, which *did* have announcers). Under the circumstances, the match might have gotten the eyes of some new viewers of the sport.

And when the world #1, on an 81-match, 8-major, 16 wins vs. her opponent streak (in their 15th slam final meeting) loses a love 1st set... I don't know, it might have been nice for those who *didn't* already know all that to have some context provided about the shock of it all.

And, remember, this is the same major that gave much exposure in recent years to Aussie quad champ Dylan Alcott's AO matches, often played on show courts and with provided commentary. There were certainly knowledgeable people on the grounds who could have done it.


...GOOD...ON DAY 13:

Alina Korneeva's dark green dress with white stripes down the sides and a flared collar. Proof that you don't need to have 20 different colors stuck in a blender and printed out on fabric for something to be memorable. Classic, simple and clean is nice.


The hat reminds me of the "controversy" that swirled around Mirza in the early days, like when she came to her press conferences in 2005 wearing t-shirts emblazoned with slogans and comments (example: "You can either agree with me, or be wrong") on the front.

NOTE: since Twitter has gone back to cropping photos on tweets, you might have to click on it to actually *see* the hat.

Here's an interview from a few years ago where she talks about such things.

...Hmmm, IS IT TOO EARLY...?...ON DAY 13: predict the future? Like that Sabalenka will win either Indian Wells or Miami, while Swiatek will fail to defend both crowns starting about a month from now. If it happens, we'll see where we are in the WTA discussion as we head into spring.

#5 Aryna Sabalenka/BLR def. #22 Elena Rybakina/KAZ 4-6/6-3/6-4

#1 Krejcikova/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) vs. #10 Aoyama/Shibahara (JPN/JPN)

Stefani/Matos (BRA/BRA) def. Mirza/Bopanna (IND/IND) 7-6(2)/6-2

#1 Diede de Groot/NED def. #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN 0-6/6-2/6-2

#1 de Groot/Van Koot (NED/NED) def. #2 Kamiji/Zhu (JPN/CHN) 6-3/6-2

#9 Alina Korneeva/RUS def. #7 Mirra Andreeva/RUS 6-7(2)/6-4/7-5

Jamrichova/Urgesi (SVK/ITA) def. #4 Kinoshita/Saito (JPN/JPN) 7-6(5)/1-6 [10-7]



2020 AO: Sofia Kenin, USA*
2020 US: Naomi Osaka, JPN
2020 RG: Iga Swiatek, POL*
2021 AO: Naomi Osaka, JPN
2021 RG: Barbora Krejcikova, CZE*
2021 WI: Ash Barty, AUS
2021 US: Emma Raducanu, GBR*
2022 AO: Ash Barty, AUS
2022 RG: Iga Swiatek, POL
2022 WI: Elena Rybakina, KAZ*
2022 US: Iga Swiatek, POL
2023 AO: Aryna Sabalenka, BLR*
* - first-time slam champ

2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2013 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2014 Li Na, CHN
2015 Serena Williams, USA
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 Serena Williams, USA
2018 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2019 Naomi Osaka, JPN
2020 Sofia Kenin, USA
2021 Naomi Osaka, JPN
2022 Ash Barty, AUS
2023 Aryna Sabalenka, BLR

1977 Kerry Melville-Reid, AUS
1978 Chris O'Neil, AUS
1979 Barbara Jordan, USA
1980 Hana Mandlikova, CZE
1995 Mary Pierce, FRA
1997 Martina Hingis, SUI
2001 Jennifer Capriati, USA
2006 Amelie Mauresmo, FRA
2012 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2018 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2020 Sofia Kenin, USA
2023 Aryna Sabalenka, BLR

*"FIRST SLAM..." FEATS IN 2020s*
2020 AO - Sofia Kenin, USA (12th)
2020 RG - Iga Swiatek, POL (7th)
2021 RG - Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (5th)
2021 US - Emma Raducanu, GBR (2nd)
2022 WI - Elena Rybakina, KAZ (12th)
2023 AO - Aryna Sabalenka, BLR (20th)

3 - Iga Swiatek, POL (3-0)
2 - Ash Barty, AUS (2-0)
2 - Sofia Kenin, USA (1-1)
2 - Ons Jabeur, TUN (0-2)
2 - Naomi Osaka, JPN (2-0)
1 - Victoria Azarenka, BLR (0-1)
1 - Jennifer Brady, USA (0-1)
1 - Danielle Collins, USA (0-1)
1 - Leylah Fernandez, CAN (0-1)
1 - Coco Gauff, USA (0-1)
1 - Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (1-0)
1 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (0-1)
1 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (0-1)
1 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (0-1)
1 - Emma Raducanu, GBR (1-0)

Unseeded - 1978 Chris O'Neil, AUS
Unseeded - 2007 Serena Williams, USA
#14 - 2020 Sofia Kenin, USA
#12 - 2001 Jennifer Capriati, USA
#7 - 2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
#7 - 2005 Serena Williams, USA
#5 - 1979 Barbara Jordan, USA
#5 - 2008 Maria Sharapova, RUS
#4 - 1995 Mary Pierce, FRA
#4 - 1997 Martina Hingis, SUI
#4 - 2014 Li Na, CHN
#4 - 2019 Naomi Osaka, JPN

2002 Classic 8's: Esther Vergeer/NED
2003 Classic 8's: Esther Vergeer/NED
2004 Classic 8's: Esther Vergeer/NED
2005 Classic 8's: Mie Yaosa/JPN
2006 Classic 8's: Esther Vergeer/NED
2007 Esther Vergeer/NED
2008 Esther Vergeer/NED
2009 Esther Vergeer/NED
2010 Korie Homan/NED
2011 Esther Vergeer/NED
2012 Esther Vergeer/NED
2013 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2014 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2015 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2016 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2018 Diede de Groot/NED
2019 Diede de Groot/NED
2020 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2021 Diede de Groot/NED
2022 Diede de Groot/NED
2023 Diede de Groot/NED

24 - YUI KAMIJI, JPN (8-16)
20 - DIEDE DE GROOT, NED (17-3)
14 - Aniek Van Koot, NED (3-11)
6 - Jiske Griffioen, NED (4-2)
1 - KG Montjane, RSA (0-1)
1 - Momoko Ohtani, JPN (0-1)

21 - Esther Vergeer, NED [9-6-x-6]
17 - DIEDE DE GROOT, NED [5-3-4-5]*
8 - Yui Kamiji, JPN [2-4-0-2]*
4 - Jiske Griffioen, NED [2-1-1-0]*
3 - Aniek van Koot, NED [1-0-1-1]*
3 - Monique Kalkman, NED [0-0-x-3]

42 - Esther Vergeer, NED (21/21)
33 - DIEDE DE GROOT, NED (17/16)*
26 - Yui Kamiji, JPN (8/18)*
26 - Aniek Van Koot, NED (3/23)*
18 - Jiske Griffioen, NED (4/14)*
13 - Jordanne Whiley, GBR (1/12)

50 - Shingo Kunieda, JPN (28/22)
42 - Esther Vergeer, NED (21/21)
33 - DIEDE DE GROOT, NED (17/16)*
26 - Yui Kamiji, JPN (8/18)*
26 - Aniek Van Koot, NED (3/23)*
23 - Stephane Houdet, FRA (4/19)
23 - ALFIE HEWETT, GBR (6/16)*
22 - GORDON REID, GBR (2/20)*

AO: Marta Kostyuk, UKR
RG: Whitney Osuigwe, USA
WI: Claire Liu, USA
US: Amanda Anisimova, USA
AO: Liang En-shuo, TPE
RG: Coco Gauff, USA
WI: Iga Swiatek, POL
US: Wang Xiyu, CHN
AO: Clara Tauson, DEN
RG: Leylah Fernandez, CAN
WI: Daria Snigur, UKR
US: Maria (Camila Osorio) Serrano, COL
AO: Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva, AND
RG: Elsa Jacquemot, FRA
RG: Linda Noskova, CZE
WI: Ane Mintegi del Olmo, ESP
US: Robin Montgomery, USA
AO: Petra Marcinko, CRO
RG: Lucie Havlickova, CZE
WI: Liv Hovde, USA
US: Alex Eala, PHI
AO: Alina Korneeva, RUS

1965 Wimbledon - Olga Morozova
1971 Roland Garros - Elena Granatourova
1971 Wimbledon - Marina Kroshina
1975 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1975 US Open - Natasha Chmyreva
1976 Wimbledon - Natasha Chmyreva
1986 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Roland Garros - Natalia Zvereva
1987 Wimbledon - Natalia Zvereva
1987 US Open - Natalia Zvereva
1998 Roland Garros - Nadia Petrova
1999 Wimbledon - Lina Krasnoroutskaya
2002 Wimbledon - Vera Dushevina
2002 US Open - Maria Kirilenko
2006 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2006 US Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2007 Australian Open - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2009 Australian Open - Ksenia Pervak
2010 US Open - Dasha Gavrilova
2014 Australian Open - Elizaveta Kulichkova
2014 Roland Garros - Dasha Kasatkina
2015 Wimbledon - Sofya Zhuk
2016 Wimbledon - Anastasia Potapova
2023 Australian Open - Alina Korneeva

1999 US: Lina Krasnoroutskaya def. Nadia Petrova
2002 WI: Vera Zvonareva def. Maria Sharapova
2010 US: Dasha Gavrilova def. Yulia Putintseva
2015 WI: Sofya Zhuk def. Anna Blinkova
2023 AO: Alina Korneeva def. Mirra Andreeva

2015 Venus Williams/USA & Martina Hingis/SUI
2016 Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 Venus Williams/USA & Serena Williams/USA
2018 Hsieh Su-wei, TPE
2019 Samantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai, AUS/CHN
2020 Jordanne Whiley, GBR (WC)
2021 Hsieh Su-wei, TPE
2022 Alize Cornet/FRA & Kaia Kanepi/EST
2023 Sania Mirza, IND


My all-time favorite TV actor...




Once the Bills, always the Bills...



As some might say... aren't we all?

TOP QUALIFIER: Katherine Sebov/CAN
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #3 Jessie Pegula/USA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #22 Elena Rybakina/KAZ
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): #5 Aryna Sabalenka/BLR
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2 - #27 Brenda Fruhvirtova/CZE def. Daria Snigur/UKR 5-7/7-6(3)/6-3 (rallies from 7-5/5-1, break down twice early in the 3rd; 15-year old is youngest in AO MD in slam debut)
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 2nd Rd. - #6 Maria Sakkari/GRE def. (Q) Diana Shnaider/RUS 6-3/5-7/3-6
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): WD 2r - Kolodziejova/Vondrousova (CZE/CZE) def. #7 Haddad Maia/Zhang (BRA/CHN) 3-6/7-6(9)/7-6(12) - saved 9 MP; trailed 5-0, 40/love in 3rd
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F/WC/Doub.): Girls Final - #9 Alina Korneeva/RUS def. #7 Mirra Andreeva/RUS 6-7(2)/6-4/7-5 - 3:18; two 15-year olds in fifth all-RUS girls' slam final
FIRST VICTORY: #3 Jessie Pegula/USA (def. Jaqueline Cristian/ROU)
FIRST SEED OUT: #28 Amanda Anisimova/USA (1r-lost to Kostyuk/UKR)
FIRST SLAM MD WINS: Anna Bondar/HUN, Olivia Gadecki/AUS, Diana Shnaider/RUS, Lucrezia Stefanini/ITA
BEST PROTECTED RANKING MD RESULT: Laura Siegemund/GER, Marketa Vondrousova/CZE (both 3rd Rd.)
REVELATION LADIES: CZE (three youngest players in MD)
NATION OF POOR SOULS: GER (1-4 1r; Petkovic ret., Kerber pregnant; NextGen 0-2)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Cristina Bucsa/ESP and Katie Volynets/USA (both 2nd Rd.)
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Kimberly Birrell/AUS, Olivia Gadecki/AUS, Taylor Townsend/USA (all 2nd Rd.)
LAST AUSSIE STANDING: Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Gadecki (both 2nd Rd.)
Ms. OPPORTUNITY: Aryna Sabalenka/BLR and Magda Linette/POL
IT (Czech Crusher): Linda Fruhvirtova, CZE (into second week at age 17 in second major)
COMEBACK PLAYER: Donna Vekic/CRO and Luisa Stefani/BRA
CRASH & BURN: Garbine Muguruza/ESP (1r; 5 con. losses; out of Top 80 first time in a decade)
ZOMBIE QUEEN OF MELBOURNE: Miriam Kolodziejova/Marketa Vondrousova, CZE/CZE (2r: down 5-0, 40/love in 3rd; saved 9 MP vs. Haddad Maia/Zhang; won 14-12 MTB)
LADY OF THE EVENING: Victoria Azarenka/BLR
AUSTRALIAN LANGUAGE ARTS AWARD: One year after Barty is first WS champ in 44 years, #160 Fourlis is highest ranked AUS in MD; only two AUS wild cards get 1r wins, none past 2r
DOUBLES STAR: Nominees: Krejicikova/Siniakova, Aoyama/Shibahara
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Mirra Andreeva/RUS and Alina Korneeva/RUS

All for Day 13. Down Under wrap-up next.


Blogger colt13 said...

Mission accomplished!

2023 Australian Open now with turbo boost!

Excellent final. Rybakina didn't do much wrong, just Sabalenka played like Serena. Not because of the serve, but her return of serve. She fought off so many points. Awkward as it looked at times, she got the ball back.

3-3 game in the 3rd was the difference.

Girls final analysis in a couple of days.

Hua Hin has a solid field, maybe Kostyuk picks up her first title.

Lyon moves up a month. Golubic expected to have a good week indoors.

Stat of the Day- 8- Number of different Australian Open winners in the last 10 years.

That is a record, similar to last year when Barty knocked one of Azarenka's titles.

In both of those instances, Serena and Naomi are the ones with multiple titles.

The only other time it happened was 1951-60, when Thelma Coyne Long and Mary Carter Reitano won 2.

You might have expected the 70's to have the most winners. They never had more than 7 in a 10 year stretch, but do have the longest streak of different winners at 7. After Goolagong went on pregnancy leave, Reid, Goolagong, O'Neil, Jordan, Mandlikova, Navratilova, Evert kept passing the baton.

Sun Jan 29, 07:20:00 AM EST  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And, overall, 16 different winners in the last 24 (and 10/14). Also, this makes 7 first-time slam winners in the last 13, and 13/23.

Sun Jan 29, 06:18:00 PM EST  

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