Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wk.32- Svitolina's Summer Fling

And, in Toronto, Elina Svitolina took another turn in the WTA rumble seat...

Jump for Joy, @elisvitolina! ?? . . . #RogersCup #Svitolina #Canada #Toronto #WTA #Tennis #Trophy

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Rumble, young Ukrainian, rumble.

S: Elina Svitolina/UKR def. Caroline Wozniacki/DEN 6-4/6-0
D: Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS) def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke (GER/CZE) 6-4/6-0
ITF World Junior 14s (Prostejov, CZE)
F: United States def. Ukraine 2-1

?????? . . . #RogersCup #Svitolina #WTA #Trophy #Toronto #Canada #Tennis #Champion

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...don't look now, but here comes Svitolina. Again. Of course, we've been here before. A few months ago, in fact, when Svitolina came through the clay court season in such a style (10-1, with titles in Istanbul and Rome) that she was looked upon as a legit slam threat in Paris despite never having reached a major semifinal. She reached the Roland Garros QF, led Simona Halep 6-3/5-1, twice served for the match and held a MP in a 2nd set TB, only to fail to convert, head to a 3rd set and get bageled in shocking fashion, heading for the exit in just twenty minutes. Will the Ukrainian's title run in Toronto -- one of the best weekly performances produced by any player all season long -- be the start of a summer story with a different ending than the one she nearly starred in during the spring?

Whatever happens next, there is no denying the style that Svitolina showed in Toronto. The 22-year old, who'll rise to a career-best #4 with her ninth career title and a tour-best fifth in '17 alone (including three Premier 5 events, making her the first to do that), produced a series of sometimes-dominant wins over quality opponents with the ease of a big title-winning veteran, handling weather delays and suspensions, including having to finish her QF match on Saturday before playing in the semis, with ease, then ultimately outclassing Caroline Wozniacki in the final, winning the final eight games of the match. Over the whole of her week, Svitolina downed Daria Kasatkina in straight sets (despite trailing 0-4 in the 2nd), allowed just three games vs. Venus Williams, emphatically downed Garbine Muguruza with an ace on MP, and dominated a "barely there" Halep 1-1 before closing out the weekend with the victory over the Dane. She posted four Top 10 wins on the week, including three over Top 6 players in a little over twenty-four hours on the weekend (w/ two Top 4 wins on Saturday). In all, she defeated four of the five 2017 slam finalists in action in Toronto, and raised her season record vs. Top 5 players to 7-1.

But it's what comes next that we'll remember.

Still looking for the true slam breakthrough result that barely eluded her in Paris, it says all you need to know about Svitolina's consistency and finals "know-how" (she's 9-2 in finals during her WTA career) that she's in the thick of the #1 race without having put up a SF-or-better result during the 12-month ranking period. As the Ukrainian has been making her step-by-step climb up the WTA ladder in recent seasons, she's shown a good head for learning from her experiences, both good and bad. Did she learn enough from her uncharacteristic 3rd set RG collapse vs. Halep to make sure she replaces it with something better in her final opportunity in 2017 to make due on her slam potential before the calendar turns over to 2018? She's sort of been hiding in the weeds since that Paris loss, having played just six matches (4-2) before her impressive five-match run this past week.

Will Svitolina's failure in early June provide the bridge to an ultimate triumph in early September? Is she about to seize her moment by the throat and strangle the life out of it, just like a certain German sporting a similar counterpunch-then-hit-you-with-a-well-placed-gut-shot mindset did last summer in New York? We'll soon find out.

RISER: Caroline Garcia/FRA
...while her fellow Pastry/bullying attention-grabber/ex-doubles partner has seen her '17 results take a downturn in recent months, Garcia's have been gradually picking up steam. After starting the season by producing just one QF+ result (a SF in Monterrey), taking a short injury break and finding herself at the center of the FFT's Fed Cup nonsense, she's now played an additional nine events. While she's still seeking her first final after picking up two singles titles in 2016, her QF run in Toronto is her fifth QF+ result (including three semis) since the start of May. Last week, Garcia started off with a three-set win over Sorana Cirstea, then followed up with straight sets wins over Varvara Lepchenko (after her win over Jelena Ostapenko) and the firecracker-hot CiCi Bellis. Her run ended at the hands of Simona Halep in their postponed-by-rain QF on Saturday, but it'll be enough to allow her to jump both Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (a two-time '17 singles champ) and CoCo Vandeweghe (AO SF and Stanford RU) and get back into the Top 20. At #19, she'll be just six spots (around 1000 rankings points) behind the aforementioned top-ranked Frenchwoman on tour.

SURPRISE: Tamara Korpatsch/GER
...just call Korpatsch the anti-Kerber German in 2017. While last year's #1 and two-time slam winner has battled inconsistency and confidence issues since the very first week of the season, the 22-year old has gone about following up her breakout ITF campaign of a season ago (she went 4-0 in ITF finals and rose 150+ rankings spots over the course of the year) by continuing to gradually rise up the tour ladder in 2017, putting together successful tour-level qualifying runs in Stuttgart (def. Bogdan, Dodin and Rodina) and Rosmalen, reaching a $100K QF and producing her first such tour-level result in Gstaad just a few weeks ago, as well. While she's still seeking her first slam MD slot (she came within a match of qualifying at Wimbledon), she reached a new career-high ranking (#124) last month. Dropping back down to the lower circuit this past week, Korpatsch qualified and claimed the title at the $60K Hechingen challenger, extending her ITF final winning streak to six with a three-set win over Italian qualifier Deborah Chiesa. Since late April, Korpatsch has gone a combined 22-10 on all levels, and will inch up to #136 on Monday. She's nearly climbed into the German Top 8, standing at ninth, but with Annika Beck clearly within her sights.

VETERAN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN Toronto, Wozniacki's strange 2017 ride made another oddball stop. Nearing the one-year anniversary of arriving in New York ranked #74, then beginning a nearly total turnaround by reaching the U.S. Open semifinals, world #6 Wozniacki has a ride in the race for the #1 ranking, leads the tour in match wins and final appearances and has shown improvement this season when it comes to serving bigger and (occasionally, at least) playing with a bit more aggression while not giving up her defensive-minded style. But she's still coming up short.

This week she reached her sixth final of the season, reaching her second consecutive (w/ Bastad) and third final in her last four events. And she did it in Toronto, where she'd never before won even a single match during her career. Not only that, but her victories over Ekaterina Alexandrova, Aga Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens pushed her '17 Top 10 win total to eight, tying her career best marks in 2010 and '11 (her two #1-ranked seasons), and her win over Pliskova not only allowed her to match her best season total when it comes to Top 3 wins (2014) but also notch her very *FIRST* win over a reigning world #1 with her defeat of the Czech. It's a stat that seems far-fetched, but then you remember that at her consistent best, when she would have been most likely to record such a win, Wozniacki was actually ranked #1 herself.

But, then, after playing a close three-quarters of a set vs. Elina Svitolina in the final on Sunday, Wozniacki's forehand and serve failed her, and her frustrations were evident (she whacked multiple times after a particularly poor shot late in the 1st set, and never really regained her footing after that moment). She dropped the final eight games of the match. Even one day earlier, when questioned about her winless final streak, the Dane noted that she'd once been 6-0 in finals during a season. A true statement (sort of, as she went 6-0 in 2010 between final losses in Indian Wells and at the then-WTA Championships), but also one that leads you to believe that she's been telling herself just that off the court, which probably means she's been thinking about that big "0" in her '17 season column more than she'd like to let on. The odds are that Wozniacki *will* get a title before 2017 concludes, but it's no longer the given it once appeared to be.

Still, she'd surely take just *one* title if, you know, it was the *right* one.

Already the player in tour history with the most weeks at #1 *and* the most singles titles without having won a slam, Wozniacki finds herself in prime position to erase such personal history if she can duplicate her own past success at the U.S. Open, by far her best major over the course of her career. She's produced better there than than either Svitolina or Halep, and has played more finals on Ashe Court than Pliskova. Of the players still in the discussion for a top ranking or slam run, only Kerber has put up better recent results in NYC than the Dane, but the German will -- barring a season-turning result in Cincinnati -- arrive at the final slam of '17 with the least likely path to the top and most iffy ongoing form of any of the players in the mix (if the German is even legitimately "in the mix" at this point, which is questionable).

With such odds in her favor, Serena Williams out, and likely Vika Azarenka (what a sad, crazy story that's suddenly become) and Maria Sharapova either absent or hardly ready to contend, Wozniacki may never have a better chance to personally edit the first line of her career bio than she'll have starting two weeks from now in Flushing Meadows.

Will her moment finally arrive?
COMEBACK: Sloane Stephens/USA
...what a difference a week can make. While Stephens put up a good fight in her three-set loss to Simona Halep in Stanford, then reached the doubles final, she was still seeking her first singles win since her return from foot surgery (which kept her off tour for eleven months) as she began her third event of the season in Toronto. Well, let's just say she made up for lost time.

S cubed! Semifinal Sloane Stephens! . . . #RogersCup #Canada #Tennis #SloaneStephens #WTA #Toronto

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In the draw via a protected ranking entry (she came in at #934), Stephens took out Yulia Putintseva in three sets to finally record win #1 on the season, then she really caught a wave. Next to fall were none other than Petra Kvitova (three sets) and Angelique kerber (2 & 2 in fabulous fashion), followed by Lucie Safarova (7-5 3rd, after saving 3 MP) as Stephens reached her first career Premier 5 semi, and first SF of any kind since she won Charleston in April of last year. Stephens finally ran out of gas in the semis against Wozniacki, whose defensive skills proved to be a mountain too high to contend with at the end of a long, but amazingly fruitful, week. But the stunningly sudden advancement she made in Toronto will be apparent in the gargantuan ranking leap that will come on Monday, when she'll rise all the way to #152, up 752 spots from a week ago.
FRESH FACE: Cornelia Lister/SWE
...the Swede garnered some attention in this space in recent weeks with some results on the WTA tour, and she gets a bit more this week after taking a step down and continuing her success on the ITF circuit. In her home event in Bastad, the 23-year old made her way through qualifying with wins over a retiring Danka Kovinic, then Louisa Chirico, and, in Stanford, she and Lu Jiajing pulled off a straight sets doubles win in the 1st Round over Sabine Lisicki & Kristina Mladenovic. Lister followed those tour-level results with her maiden ITF singles title run (she already had 19 WD wins) in the $15K event in Las Palmas, Spain. A previous RU in a pair of $10K challengers in 2014 and '16, the #3-ranked Swede (at #492 heading into the week) grabbed the title while losing just one set all week. The #2 seed, she knocked off #5 Melanie Klaffner in the semis, then #3 Gaia Sanesi in the final.

DOWN: Simona Halep/ROU
...when is a good week also something of a bad week? Well, as usual, when Halep *doesn't* win a tournament, and manages to raise more questions than she answers.

Once again finding herself right in the middle of a multi-player race for #1 over the next few weeks, Halep arrived in Toronto as the defending Rogers Cup singles champ, looking to become the first woman since 2000 (and just the third ever since the tournament began its every-other-year site swap with Montreal in 1998) to defend the tournament title in a different city than the one in which she'd won it a year earlier (after Monica Seles 1997-98, and Martina Hingis 1999-00). Coming in off having retired in Washington due to heat illness, Halep rebounded quite well, reaching the SF without dropping a set after defeating Magdalena Rybarikova, Barbora Strycova and Caroline Garcia. But rain postponed her QF match against the Pastry, meaning she had to win it (4 & 2) on Saturday morning, then return later in the afternoon to once again face off with Elina Svitolina. They'd already played in two memorable matches this spring -- the Rome final, when a Halep ankle injury hampered her efforts in a loss, one which she'd soon avenge by staging an epic comeback vs. the Ukrainian in the Roland Garros QF a few weeks later -- and another key result in this budding rivalry seemed to be in order. But then THAT Simona showed up. As she had been all week, Svitolina was on her game like she hasn't been in a few months, but Halep never seemed to be truly invested in the match and, needless to say, it had to cause coach Darren Cahill to have a few bad flashbacks to what had previously been a turning point in his coach/player with the Romanian, when he'd briefly quit working with her after what he perceived as her giving up during a match in Miami.

Perhaps this match was the second phase of her trying D.C. experience, when she'd barely managed to get by against the weather one round *before* she was forced to retire, but after seeing the Swarmette come up small in other big moments over the past few years (including times when the #1 ranking or a slam title -- or both -- was a stake) it's oh-so-easy to wonder how much of it was just Simona taking another step back rather than forward. And that thought wasn't helped when, after the match, her answer when asked what happened to her on this day, well, just wasn't the sort of answer one would have preferred to hear.

To be continued.
...while this week's $25K in Landisville, Pennsylvania wasn't the biggest ITF event in Week 32, it *was* the only to take place in North America as the string of $60K USTA-sponsored events to determine a WC berth winner into the U.S. Open MD (congrats again to Sonya Kenin for a second consecutive summer) ended last week. Just one more big challenger (the $100K in Vancouver next week) remains on the continent before the start of the play in New York City.

This week, 18-year old Lapko ('16 AO jr. champ) picked up her third career ITF singles crown (first of '17) in Landisville with a 4-6/6-4/7-6(4) win in the final over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who had twelve DF in the match. The Slovak managed to extend the match after trailing 4-2 in the 3rd set, but the deciding TB came only after, up 6-5, AKS raced for a ball at the net and put away a drop shot for a winner that would usually have given her a MP... except for the fact that she lost the point because she tumbled into the net. Lapko held to take things to the TB, where AKS led 3-0. But Lapko surged back to win it 7-4, ending the match on a dead net cord. Oh, Anna Karolina.

Still, for her part, AKS remains decidedly on the comeback trail. She didn't get her third '17 ITF title (she defeated Lapko in June for the second of her two consecutive $25K title runs), but at least she's managed to claw her way back inside the Top 200 after having ended the '16 season at #226, a full one hundred spots below where she's ended 2015. After what Schmiedlova has gone through on the court over most of the last year and a half, any arrow that remains pointed somewhat upward -- even if not directly perpendicular with the ground -- is a welcome condition.

CoCo Gauff, Charlotte Owensby and Gabriella Price

JUNIOR STARS: USA 14s and Ashley Kratzer/USA
...the current crop of U.S. rising stars and high-level juniors cut their teeth in the junior team event competitions, with their great success there ultimately leading to Captain Kathy Rinaldi being called upon to lead the big Fed Cup squad (which will play for the title in her first year at the helm come the fall). Well, the success continued on the lower level this week, as the Bannerettes picked up a record seventh ITF World Junior team crown in the competition in Prostejov, Czech Republic.

Led by a trio of Floridians -- Cori "CoCo" Gauff, Charlotte Owensby and Gabriella Price -- the U.S. went undefeated in round robin play, then advanced past Australia (QF) and Russia (SF) to set up a rematch of last year's final, where the Bannerettes lost out to Ukraine. This time, with Gauff (6-0 singles/3-1 doubles on the week) leading the way, the U.S. got a 2-1 win. 13-year old Gauff evened the tie with a 6-4/6-0 win over Dasha Lopatetskaya (the highest ranked girl in the competition, and the reigning European Jr. 14s champ), then teamed with Owensby to clinch the title with a deciding doubles victory. It's the U.S.'s fifth 14s title since 2007, a span during which the Bannerettes played in three other finals.

Gauff & Owensby clinch the win

In San Diego, #3-seeded Kratzer, the world #341 who turned pro last December, won the USTA 18s National Championship and earned a wild card berth into the U.S. Open in what will be her grand slam debut. Newport Beach, California native Kratzer posted wins over Michaela Gordon (QF) and RG girls champ Whitney Osuigwe (SF) to reach the final, where she defeated #33-seeded Duke freshman Kelly Chen (def. #1 seed Usue Arconada and #12 Caty McNally) 6-2/4-6/6-4 to take the title. Kratzer led 4-0 in the 3rd, only to see Chen stage a comeback to get back on serve. After ending Chen's run with a hold for 5-4, Kratzer got the break to close out the win.

In the USTA's other age-related competitions, Angelica Blake (16s), Robin Montgomery (14s) and Elena Yu (12s) were crowned champions.

Back to back! @vesnushka86 and @katemakarova1! . . . #RogersCup #Canada #Tennis #WTA #Toronto

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DOUBLES: Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS
...all hail, the best doubles team in the world? With Bethanie Mattek-Sands' absence, the Hordettes surely have staked their claim to the honor this summer. Always a big title winning duo, the Russians added their third high-level crown (two Premiers and Wimbledon) of the season this weekend in Toronto, defending the Rogers Cup title they won last year in Montreal. They took the crown without dropping a set, extending their winning streak to ten matches (w/ one total set lost in their last two events). It's their eleventh win as a team, with six coming since last summer, including the Olympics and WTA Finals. The Russians posted a 6-4/6-0 win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Kveta Peschke (who'd defeated #2 seeds Y.Chan/Hingis and #3 Safarova/Stryocva en route) in the final on Sunday. Makarova/Vesnina double-bageled H.Chan/Niculescu in the championship match at SW19.

"Leave the gun racket, take the cannoli tortellini."

1. Toronto Final - Elina Svitolina def. Caroline Wozniacki
Though they're the top two players on tour in '17 when it comes to match wins, these two couldn't get any more different when it comes to other numbers. While Wozniacki is 0-6 in finals, Svitolina is 5-0. The Ukrainian is 3-0 in big Premier finals this year, while the Dane is 0-3. That dynamic played out in the final as, after a tight first six games in the 1st set, Wozniacki dropped serve in a bad service game that included a poor attempt at the net, then a DF to break herself. She managed to break back (w/ Svitolina serving into the sun) a game later, but never won another game after that, with her forehand and serve letting her down time and time again, while Svitolina's shots were finding open spaces with room to spare inside the lines. Wozniacki double-faulted to break herself again in game #9, Svitolina held to claim the 1st set and then went on to end the match on an eight-game winning streak.


2. Toronto 1st Rd. - Sloane Stephens def. Yulia Putintseva 6-7(4)/6-0/6-4
Toronto 2nd Rd. - Sloane Stephens def. Petra Kvitova 7-6(4)/3-6/6-2;
Toronto 3rd Rd. - Sloane Stephens def. Angelique Kerber 6-3/6-2
Toronto QF - Sloane Stephens def. Lucie Safarova 6-2/1-6/7-5
I'd say this qualifies as a message a few weeks before the start of the Open. Sloane is tired of baby-steppin'. Safarova will get the first opportunity to see how long she can sustain this level of performance, for after failing to convert three MP vs. Stephens in Toronto she'll get another shot at her in the 1st Round at Cincinnati.
3. Toronto 1st Rd. - Varvara Lepchenko def. Jelena Ostapenko
The first sign of a crack in the exterior of the RG champ? After dominating the 1st, Ostapenko had a wild ride the rest of the way vs. Lepchenko. Even so, she came back from 0-3 in the 3rd before being nipped at the finish line. Still, Jelena does not take losing well...

Good. Most champions worth their salt hate losing as much, if not more, as they enjoy winning.
4. Toronto 2nd Rd. - Ekaterina Makarova def. Johanna Konta
Not the start to her summer hard court season that the Brit was looking for. In 2:25, Konta blew a 7-5/5-2 lead vs. the D.C. champ, failing to convert on two MP chances.
5. Toronto 1st Rd. - Barbora Strycova def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-2/6-3
Toronto 1st Rd. - Bianca Andreescu/Carson Branstine def. Kristina Mladenovic/Anastastia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5/2-6 [10-8]
Mladenovic falls to 7-6 in singles since her QF run in Paris, then fell to 11-10 in '17 WD without ex-partner Garcia, losing to the two-time '17 junior doubles slam champion Canadian duo.

6. Toronto 1st Rd. - Daria Kasatkina def. Roberta Vinci 7-6(3)/7-6(1)
Toronto 2nd Rd. - Elina Svitolina def. Daria Kasatkina 7-6(4)/6-4
it was a tale of three tie-breaks for the Hordette in Toronto, and a 6-4 set she lost in which she'd actually held a 4-0 lead on eventual champion Svitolina. Oh, well. At least she pulled off one the best tweener winners we'll see all year.

7. Toronto 1st Rd. - Magdalena Rybarikova def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
In a match-up of two of the season's most unexpected slam semifinalists, lucky loser Rybarikova prevailed. She lost a round later to Halep, ending a crazy week that included a Q1 win over Kurumi Nara in which she squandered a 6-2/5-3 lead (and nearly another 5-3 lead in the 3rd, winning in a TB) and then lost in the Q2 via a 3rd set bagel delivered by Lepchenko.
8. USTA Nat'l Chsp. 18s QF - Whitney Osuigwe def. Claire Liu
Osuigwe once again outlasted Liu in a rematch of the RG girls final, but she failed to secure the U.S. 18s national title, losing in the semis to eventual champion Ashley Kratzer.
9. Toronto 1st Rd. - Timea Babos def. Bianca Andreescu
The Hungarian ended her nine-match losing streak, but then fell love & 1 to Radwanska a round later. Still, the 17-year old -- the winner of the tour's latest Breakthrough of the Month award -- did this...

10. $25K Chiswick Final - Vitalia Diatchenko def. Viktoria Kuzmova
The former "Serena Williams 1st Round Victim" of yore is finally healthy and back in form, winning her first challenger title in over two years. Here she is enjoying, ummm, a "spoil" of her victory, no matter how tiny it may be.

HM- Toronto 1st Rd. - Donna Vekic def. TPFKAGB
What's-her-name's tenth 1st Round exit in 2017, and eighteenth since the start of 2016.


1. Toronto QF - Caroline Wozniacki def. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
Avenging two of her '17 final losses (the Czech won out over the Dane in Doha & Eastbourne), Wozniacki overcame a slew of rain delays and a 5-1 1st set deficit to outlast Pliskova, who was in her first week of action since inheriting the #1 ranking from Kerber. Somewhat surprisingly, this was also Wozniacki's first career win over a world #1. Two of the Dane's eight career Top 3 wins have come this season vs. Pliskova (as #3 in the Miami SF).

2. Toronto 1st Rd. - VENUS WILLIAMS def. Irina-Camelia Begu
While it took a while for Wozniacki to get *her* first match win in Toronto, she's got nothing on Venus. It took her over twenty years on tour to do it... as well as a long rain delay, and three sets in her opening match vs. the Romanian.

3. Toronto QF - Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke def. CHAN YUNG-JAN/Martina Hingis
With Wimbledon, this makes wins in TWO consecutive tournaments by ALG/KP over Chan & Hingis. It's also their first non-slam loss since falling in the Miami semifinals in March, ending a run of sixteen straight "regular" tour match wins.

4. Toronto Q2 - NAOMI OSAKA def. Barbora Krejcikova 1-6/7-6(4)/6-0
Toronto 3rd Rd. - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. NAOMI OSAKA 6-2/6-7(4)/1-0 ret.
Osaka saved a MP in qualifying vs. one Czech, but was ultimately forced to retire a few rounds later vs. another.
5. Toronto 3rd Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. AGA RADWANSKA
When your longtime friend and recent wedding guest shows you little mercy on the court... until you meet at the net.

6. $15K Vienna Final - Clothilde de Bernardi def. GABRIELA PANTUCKOVA
The Pastry wins her second ITF title in a row, dominating the Czech sister.
7. $15K Nonthaburi Final - SARA TOMIC def. Yuan Yue
So, is 19-year old Sara now officially the "most dependable" Tomic? This is her third career challenger title run.
8. Toronto QF - NADIIA KICHENOK/ANASTASIA RODIONOVA def. Sania Mirza/Peng Shuai
Too much sister to bother dealing with?

Hey there, stranger.

Caro, Elina and the jaunty-hatted Mountie (hmmm, or is it Steve Carell?)

Snoopy is a beagle! And beagles are my favourite dogs ??

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3 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2 HC/1 GR)
2 - Johanna Konta, GBR (2 HC)
2 - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS (HC/RC)
2 - Kiki Bertens, NED (2 RC)
2 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (HC/RC)

4 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-3)
3 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (3-0)
3 - Johanna Konta, GBR (2-1)
3 - Simona Halep, ROU (1-2)
3 - Anett Kontaveit, EST (1-2)
3 - Julia Goerges, GER (0-3)
14 [5/8/1] Angelique Kerber (7-7)
13 [6/4/3] Karolina Pliskova (6-7)
11 [3/2/6] CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (3-8)
11 [5/3/3] Simona Halep (7-4)
11 [5/5/1] Serena Williams (8-3)
9 [1/3/4] ELINA SVITOLINA (7-2)

*2017 WTA SF*
6 - Johanna Konta (3-2+L)
6 - Karolina Pliskova (2-3+W)
5 - Kristina Mladenovic (4-1)
5 - SIMONA HALEP (3-2)
5 - Julia Goerges (3-2)
5 - Garbine Muguruza (1-4)
[2017 low-ranked SF]
NR - Maria Sharapova/RUS (Stuttgart)
#340 Jana Fett/CRO (Hobart)
#254 Barbora Krejcikova/CZE (Nurnberg) - RU
#233 Marketa Vondrousova/CZE (Biel) - W
#168 Francesca Schiavone/ITA (Bogota) - W
21 - Angelique Kerber [8/11/2]
20 - Karolina Pliskova [8/6/6]
20 - SIMONA HALEP [9/6/5]
19 - ELINA SVITOLINA [6/7/6]
18 - Aga Radwanska [8/9/1]
16 - Serena Williams [9/6/1]

3 - MAY/JUN - Simona Halep (Madrid/Rome/RG, WLL)
2 - FEB - Caroline Wozniacki (Doha/Dubai, LL)
2 - APR/MAY- Francesca Schiavone (Bogota/Rabat, WL)
2 - APR/MAY - A.Pavlyuchenkova (Monterrey/Rabat, WW)
2 - MAY - Kristina Mladenovic (Stuttgart/Madrid, LL)

2...Ka.Pliskova vs. Wozniacki (KP 2-0)

Saint Petersburg: Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (QF-Vinci)
Mallorca: Anastasija Sevastova, LAT (SF-Garcia)

2010 Vera Zvonareva (WTA SF)
2014 Maria Sharapova (WTA rr)
2017 Simona Halep (Eastbourne QF)
2009 Elena Dementieva (Charleston SF)
2014 Petra Kvitova (WTA rr)
2015 Simona Halep (Stuttgart SF)
2017 Karolina Pliskova (Miami SF)

Brisbane (d) - Sania Mirza 2016-17
Taipei City (d) - Chan/Chan 2016-17
Madrid - Simona Halep 2016-17
Rome (d) - Martina Hingis 2016-17
Nurnberg - Kiki Bertens 2016-17
Stanford (d) - Abigail Spears 2016-17

5...Y.Chan/Hingis (4-0+W)
5...Barty/Dellacqua (3-2)
4...Hradecka/Siniakova (0-4)
3...Mattek-Sands/Safarova (3-0)
3...Hlavackova/Peng (1-2)

Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina, RUS
Miami - Johanna Konta, GBR
Madrid - Simona Halep, ROU
Rome - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Toronto - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Cincinnati - TBD
Wuhan - TBD
Beijing - TBD
Dubai - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Indian Wells - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Miami - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
Madrid - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Rome - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Toronto - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS

[14s - ITF World Juniors]
2007 United States d. France
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 United States d. Czech Republic
2010 United States d. Ukraine
2011 Serbia d. United States
2012 Slovakia d. Great Britain
2013 United States d. Russia
2014 Russia d. Ukraine
2015 Russia d. United States
2016 Ukraine d. United States
2017 United States d. Ukraine
[16s - Junior Fed Cup]
2007 Australia d. Poland
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 Russia d. Germany
2010 Russia d. China
2011 Australia d. Canada
2012 United States d. Russia
2013 Russia d. Australia
2014 United States d. Slovakia
2015 Czech Republic d. United States
2016 Poland d. United States
2017 (Sept.19-24)

2012 Vicky Duval
2013 Sachia Vickery
2014 CiCi Bellis
2015 Sonya Kenin
2016 Kayla Day
2017 Ashley Kratzer

Ostapenko, Abanda and a dinosaur... there just has to be a joke just asking to be cracked in there somewhere, right?

Chakvetadze sighting!

16 Singles Final: Ka.Pliskova d. Kerber
16 Doubles Final: Mirza/Strycova d. Hingis/Vandeweghe
17 Top Seeds: Ka.Pliskova/Halep

#1 Ka.Pliskova d. #9 V.Williams
#4 Muguruza d. #12 Ostapenko
#5 Svitolina d. (WC) Stephens
#2 Halep d. #7 Konta
#1 Ka.Pliskova d. #4 Muguruza
#2 Halep d. #5 Svitolina
#1 Ka.Pliskova d. #2 Halep

..."I think you deserve to be #1...but maybe next time."

#1 Makarova/Vesnina d. Goerges/Savchuk
#3 Safarova/Strycova d. #2 Y.Chan/Hingis
#3 Safarova/Strycova d. #1 Makarova/Vesnina

...they have to lose sometime.


All for now.


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Wk.31- The U.S. and Russia... naturally

The North American hard court season is a week old. And we've already learned a few things, or at least have some talking points for what remains of the summer.

In good time, despite missing out on multiple opportunities in '17, Simona Halep may indeed ultimately rise to #1, but it'd be nice if she didn't back into it largely because of Karolina Pliskova's inability to fully replenish the points cache she picked up *last* summer while winning Cincinnati and reaching the U.S. Open final. Yeah... it'd be nice. Unfortunately, it may not be likely.
So, apparently other players *do* see a certain Bully Pastry for what she appears to be. Well, at least one does.
Garbi looked like she might have finally found the recipe for post-slam success in Stanford. And then Madison Keys came along.
Ditto for CoCo Vandeweghe.

But, still, Stanford may very well have given us a preview of much -- if not all -- of the roster that Captain Kathy Rinaldi might ultimately bring to the Fed Cup final this fall. Venus or no Venus, no one would sneeze at a lineup of Keys, Vandeweghe, CiCi Bellis and (in the Bethanie role) maybe veteran Abigail Spears. Or... three-quarters of the Stanford singles semifinals and both doubles champions.

Proving that America *is* great, it just depends on where you're looking -- while Bannerettes dominated in Cali, they went 0-4 in the 1st Round of singles in Washington last week.
Maria Sharapova *is* back, but only "sort of." Another injury exit in Stanford makes one wonder if the Russian's 2017 return is going to be a continuing frustration, what with her ailments (forearm, leg/thigh strains) surely looking like the sort of things that hound a player returning from a long period of inactivity and a lack of match play that practice sessions simply can't duplicate. We may not see Sharapova as a true factor in any event until after she's had a proper offseason and gradual introduction to tournament play in 2018.

Meanwhile, your *other* 2017 slam champions were spinning their own tales *off* the court this week.

For Serena, everything had a glorious 1950's feel...

For Latvian Thunder, well, it was simply wonderful...

Samba ?????? @max.kravchenko #me#dancing#lesson#samba#greattime#professionaldancer#ballroomdancing#riga#latvia#2017

A post shared by Jelena Ostapenko (@jelena.ostapenko1997) on


Jelena finally sambas back onto the court this week in Toronto. We'll have to wait a while longer for Serena.

As for the rest...

S: Madison Keys/USA def. CoCo Vandeweghe/USA 7-6(4)/6-4
D: Abigail Spears/CoCo Vandeweghe (USA/USA) d. Alize Cornet/Alicja Rosolska (FRA/POL) 6-2/6-3
S: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS def. Julia Goerges/GER 3-6/7-6(2)/6-0
D: Shuka Aoyama/Renata Voracova (JPN/CZE) d. Genie Bouchard/Sloane Stephens (CAN/USA) 6-3/6-2
World Team Tennis (Carlsbad, CAL)
F: Orange County Breakers def. San Diego Aviators 22-18

...2017 hasn't gone anywhere near the way Keys was expecting it to last winter. Wrist surgery delayed the kickoff of her season, then she returned too early and ended up having to have another surgery. Finally, just two events back, and after posting just a 5-7 record this season in limited action, Keys got *everything* right in Stanford.

Dropping just one set all week -- her opening set, vs. qualifier Caroline Dolehide in the 2nd Round -- Keys reached her first SF since last summer's Olympics, and her first final since Montreal nearly a full year ago. Wins over Lesia Tsurenko and Wimbledon champ Garbine Muguruza (overpowered by the Bannerette) set up an all-Bannerette final against CoCo Vandeweghe. In a display of great serving prowess from both women, they played an entire 1st set and nine games into the 2nd before there was a break of serve. Keys had claimed the lead in the match by taking an early lead in the 1st set TB and winning it 7-4, then took advantage of a rare BP opportunity to break Vandeweghe to lead 5-4 in the 2nd. She served out the match to claim her third career title, and first on hard court. Returning to the Top 20 (#17) with this win, Keys once again places a level of expectation on her shoulders, just as she did when she reached the AO semis in 2015. This time, though, she's got some legit company to make things competitive (in a friendly way, which could serve to help lift *all* boats), as the likes of Vandeweghe, CiCi Bellis, a returning Sloane Stephens and others head a growing list of U.S. contenders who will arrive en masse at Flushing Meadows in a few weeks, trying to stake a claim to their own little parcel of land while Serena Williams is away. At least one will likely thrive in the Open spotlight, which hasn't shined for long in NYC on a Bannerette named something other than Williams since 2009, when "temporary comet" Melanie Oudin was the last U.S. woman to reach the QF other than either Serena or Venus. Before that, it was Lindsay Davenport in 2006, in her final second week slam run of a Hall of Fame career. The odds may finally be good that another -- or two -- could make their way into the final eight very soon... maybe even before the close of this summer.

RISERS: CoCo Vandeweghe/USA and Julia Goerges/GER
...the construction of the perfect CoCo machine continues. With Pat Cash aboard, as well as a "mental coach" (though the "prove it" task remains part of the equation), Vandeweghe is still searching for the balance that will allow her to produce on a regular basis the sort of tennis she's displayed while reaching the AO semifinals and leading the U.S. squad to the Fed Cup final in '17. Thus far in her "breakout season," her "regular tour" results -- no SF+ in eight non-slam events -- have been wanting all season. Until this week. While she didn't claim her first career hard court title, in her second Stanford final (w/ 2012, when her potential was still a cross-your-fingers proposition, as she'd reached the final as a lucky loser), Vandeweghe pointed what remains of her summer in the right direction. Wins over Ajla Tomljanvoic, Nicole Gibbs, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and CiCi Bellis put her into her first singles final since Rosmalen last summer, and just her second ever on hard court. She did so while losing just thirteen games in the four matches, and only dropping serve on one occasion (vs. Bellis in the SF). She kept up the pattern through nearly the entire final against Madison Keys as the Bannerettes combined for twenty straight holds, with Keys winning a 1st set TB, until Vandeweghe finally blinked to fall behind 5-4 in the 2nd. Keys, serving even better than CoCo, ended the match a game later. Like Keys, Vandeweghe will climb four spots to edge back into the Top 20 (at #20) on Monday.

After losing the singles final, Vandeweghe returned to the court to claim the doubles title with Abigail Spears, defeating Cornet/Rosolska in straight sets to win her second career tour WD title (CoCo won Indian Wells with Bethanie Mattek-Sands last year). The last sweep of the Stanford S/D titles was in 1999, when Lindsay Davenport took home both honors.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Goerges continued her quest to lift her first WTA singles championship trophy since 2011. The German has been giving herself quite a few opportunities this summer, as her D.C. final run was third in her last five events. Wins over Franckie Abanda, Alison Van Uytvanck and Monica Niculescu set up a semifinal clash with countrywoman Andrea Petkovic. Played in the evening hours, it turned out to be detriment to her chances in the final, as it lasted 2:30, until around midnight. She won, overcoming a near 5-2 deficit in the 3rd set (Petko led 4-2 and had a GP on her racket at the net), to reach her ninth career tour-level singles final. Serving up 6-3/6-5 in the final against Ekaterina Makarova, her long wait seemed about to end. But she couldn't close out the Russian, and a mix of disappointment, a consistent Makarova and, probably, the aftereffects of the long three-setter the night before, served to produce a 3rd set bagel that does a disservice to the fine string of performances she'd posted throughout the week. Even with her sixth straight loss in a final since 2012, though, Goerges is inching close to U.S. Open seed territory, and will come in at #35 on Monday.

SURPRISE: Caroline Dolehide/USA
...the members of Generation PDQ have become a weekly factor more and more on tour as the 2017 season has progressed, and 18-year old Bannerette Dolehide added her name to the lengthening membership list in Stanford. After making her way through qualifying with wins over Gaby Dabrowski and Lizette Cabrera, the big-hitting teenager took down Naomi Osaka 6-4/6-2 in her WTA MD debut, then pushed eventual champion Madison Keys to three sets in the 2nd Round. In her doubles debut, one week after another pair of teens (Jiang Tang) won the title in Nanching in *their* WTA debut, Dolehide and 17-year old Kayla Day reached the semifinals. At this point, Dolehide has committed to play college tennis at UCLA, where her sister Courtney was the team captain of the Bruins' 2014 national championship team.

VETERANS: Ekaterina Makarova/RUS and Andrea Petkovic/GER
...a former slam semifinalist and Top 10 singles player, Makarova has seen her standing slip in recent seasons as she's had to deal with injuries that have precipitated her season-ending ranking falling from #12 in 2014, to #23 and #30 the last two years. She stood at #58 (she last finished a season that low in 2009) heading into this week's action in Washington. The 29-year old Russian has had great doubles success with fellow Hordette Elena Vesnina -- winning Olympic Gold and, most recently, Wimbledon to move within an Australian Open WD title from the duo having claimed Gold, all four slams and the WTA Finals in their career -- but she hadn't played in a singles final since Pattaya '14 before her D.C. run. In fact, her last *semifinal* was in 2015... in Washington. Wins over Jamie Loeb, Monica Puig, Simona Halep (with an assist from the heat) and Oceane Dodin changed all that.

In the final, already down a set, Makarova squandered a 4-1 2nd set lead and saw Julia Goerges serve for the match at 6-5. But she wasn't able to close, and the Russian swept the final eight games of the match, taking a 7-2 TB and then bageling the German in the 3rd set to pick up her third career singles title. She'll climb to #42 on Monday.

Petkovic, 29, used her trip to Washington to maintain the feeling-out process that has turned out to become her '17 season, as while the German hasn't exactly put up spectacular results this year she *has* managed to begin to get her proverbial "ducks in a row" to a point where renewed success is finally possible again. And she had some in D.C., too, as her "in between album" had its first minor, charting hit. Petko opened up with a win over Kurumi Nara, then served up a 3rd set bagel to Genie Bouchard and outlasted Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu in another three-setter, resurrecting some of her old post-match dance moves along the way. In her first tour-level semifinal since Doha early last season, Petko twice had a break lead on countrywoman Julia Goerges in the 3rd set, and had a point for a 5-2 lead on her racket at the net. But she missed that shot, and saw Goerges surge to a 7-5 final set win. Nonetheless, Petkovic will return to the Top 100 this week after having come into Washington having dropped nearly fifty spots (#102) in the rankings after ending last season at #56. Her three wins will lift her overall '17 record over .500 (21-20) despite before this week having recorded just one MD tour-level win since Charleston and being forced to go through qualifying on more than one occasion just to get a chance to put up a good result. At the end of it all, she's had an encouraging summer, one which saw her enter a pair of $100K grass challengers (w/ SF & QF results), and push Dominika Cibulkova to a 9-7 3rd set in the 1st Round at SW19 prior to her affirming run this week.

COMEBACKS: Sabine Lisicki/GER and Sloane Stephens/USA was an encouraging week in Washington for Lisicki. After delaying the start of her '17 season until mid-summer because of a shoulder injury, the German reached her second QF of the season in just her third tournament back on tour. In her first non-grass event of the year, she notched wins over Valentini Grammatikopoulou (two TB) and Aryna Sabalenka (in three sets, after the Belarusian had knocked off '16 semifinalist Lauren Davis in the 1st Round) before falling in a 3rd set TB to Oceane Dodin. The result will bump up her ranking from #192 to #159 as she looks to rebound from a poor (sub-.500) '16 season (which included an horrendous summer HC campaign, with a 2nd Round loss in D.C., a 1st Round at Flushing Meadows and two failed qualifying attempts). She fell outside the Top 100 last summer before ultimately managing to finish at #92, sixty spots lower than her '15 finish. It was her worst season standing since 2010 and only her second finish outside the Top 54 since 2007.

Meanwhile, Stephens was in Washington playing in just her second event back following foot surgery, after her 1st Round Wimbledon loss in her first action since last summer's Rio Olympics. The world #957 (!!) is still seeking her first win in a year, but she pushed Simona Halep to three sets in the 1st Round this week, then stayed around until the weekend as she reached the doubles final (her first doubles final since her junior days -- she won three girls slam crowns in '10 w/ Timea Babos). It was her first final of any kind on tour since she claimed the Charleston singles title last year. Remember, that was already Stephens' third singles title of the '16 season (and it was only April). She and Genie Bouchard won a pair of 3rd set TB -- vs. #3 Duque/Irigoyen in the 1st Round, then #1 Mirza/Niculescu in the SF -- to reach the final, where they lost in straight sets to #2 Aoyama/Voracova.

FRESH FACES: CiCi Bellis/USA and Oceane Dodin/FRA
...last year, the 18-year old decided against pursuing a college career at Stanford. But, thanks to the North American summer hard court schedule, Bellis can still have a Californian tennis experience in the shadow of the university on an annual basis. Last summer, Bellis received a wild card into the WTA's Stanford event and, after defeating the likes of Jelena Ostapenko (yes, the seemingly weekly example of a player's abilities being complimented via the mention of a past win over the Latvian continues), reached her first tour-level quarterfinal. A year later, ranked at #44, she earned a spot in the main draw based on her own success over the past year (including a 14-match win streak to end last season, during which she claimed two $50K titles and a WTA 125 Series crown, and her first career tour-level semifinal earlier this summer in Mallorca). Three years after a then 15-year old Bellis created great buzz with a 1st Round upset of Dominika Cibulkova as the U.S. Open (becoming the youngest player to record an Open match win in eighteen years), she became the first teenager to reach the Stanford semifinals since 2006 (Tatiana Golovin & Nicole Vaidisova), putting up victories over Alize Cornet, Veronica Cepede Royg and, in dominating fashion, #2-seeded Petra Kvitova. She'll jump to a new career-high of #36 on Monday.

In Washington, 20-year old Dodin reached her first semifinal of 2017, her best tour-level result since she won her maiden WTA singles title last September in Quebec City. Last week, after arriving in D.C. riding a four-match losing streak, she spent her week taking down a string of former slam finalist veterans. First, it was Jelena Jankovic, then Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki, the latter coming despite fourteen double-faults in the same match in which the German fired eighteen aces. She took eventual champion Ekaterina Makarova to three sets in the semis. The Pastry will rise from #55 to #46, matching the career-high ranking she achieved two months ago.
DOWN: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...the Bully Pastry's forward-moving '17 campaign has run into a patch of quicksand this summer, as after a fast 17-7 start (w/ a title, a final and SF) to her season, then 15-4 follow-up (two more finals and a RG QF), has cooled off to a 7-5 stretch since Paris. In Washington, #2-seeded Mladenovic took three sets to dispense of Tatjana Maria in the 1st Round, and was treated for a thigh injury in the final set. A round later, she fell 2 & 3 to 17-year old Canadian Bianca Andreescu (#167), serving at just 38% and committing ten double-faults. In the past, a bad week in singles was often offset by Mladenovic's good doubles results, but since her nasty break-up with RG-winning partner Caroline Garcia the results haven't come for her with other partners. Last week, she and Sabine Lisicki fell 6 & 1 in the 1st Round to Cornelia Lister & Lu Jiajing, dropping Mladenovic to 11-9 in WD since the Garcia split. They'd gone 5-2 in the 2017 1Q, opening their schedule with a semifinal run in Melbourne.

Oh, and it should be noted that at least one player has finally seen fit to reflect a little of the darkness back at Mladenovic that the Pastry seems to take so much pride in directing at others...

ITF PLAYERS: Grace Min/USA and Sonya Kenin/USA Lexington, Kentucky, Min claimed the crown at this week's $60K challenger event, defeating Kenin in a 6-4/6-1 final to claim her ninth career circuit title. The 23-year old, who had to win a 3rd set TB in her semifinal vs. Belarus' Vera Lapko, had lost her last four challenger singles final (she was 2-4 in 2016). Still, 18-year old Kenin claimed the USTA's three-$60K-event Wild Card Challenge prize of a WC berth into the U.S. Open women's MD for the second straight year, having already won the Stockton event two weeks ago and reached the semis in Sacramento last week. Kenin, who also got an Open WC in '15 as the U.S. National Championship winner as a junior, wrapped up the Challenge win when Amanda Anisimova lost in the Lexington QF to Emina Bektas.

JUNIOR STARS: Bianca Andreescu/CAN and Wang Xin Yu/CHN
...Andreescu's outlook continues to improve with every passing month this season, as the 17-year old future Canadian #1 leaves Washington after having grabbed her first career tour-level MD win (def. Camila Giorgi, becoming the youngest from Canada to record a WTA win since 1988) and her first Top 20 victory (def. Kristina Mladenovic, becoming the first player born in the 2000's to notch such a win) to reach her maiden WTA singles quarterfinal. In the QF, she took the 1st set from Andrea Petkovic before the veteran rallied to win in three.

Since reaching the U.S. Open girls semis last year (falling in three sets to eventual champ Kayla Day), 2017 has seen Andreescu consistently put up impressive results. She reached the Australian Open junior semis, where she squandered a big lead vs. Rebeka Masarova and missed out on a chance to play for the girls title. But rather than be defined and held back by the loss, she rebounded to claim the AO girls *doubles* crown with Carson Branstine, instead, and then later teamed with her to win at Roland Garros, as well, where she also reached the junior singles QF. Away from the junior circuit, already this season Andreescu has won a pair of $25K titles, gone undefeated (4-0 singles/2-0 doubles) to lead Canada's Fed Cup Americas zone promotion in February, provided a key victory (def. Yaroslava Shvedova) in the nation's 3-2 win over Kazakhstan in April's World Group II Playoffs, and qualified for her first career slam MD at Wimbledon. She'll climb to a new career high of #143 this week, up from #167, as she closes in on Canadian #2 Franckie Abanda (#132), as well as now being able to see #1 Genie Bouchard (#70) just beyond the horizon.

In China, 15-year old girls #20 Wang Xin Yu (the #1 seed) swept the singles and doubles titles at the week's biggest (Grade 1) junior event, defeating another Chinese girl, #2-seeded Wang Xiyu 6-4/7-5 to claim the championship. She didn't lose a set in either competition en route to the two titles. Wang also won a Grade 1 crown (Nonthaburi) in March, defeating the likes of Zeel Desai and Simona Waltert (in the final) en route to sweeping both the singles and doubles there, as well. But some of her more impressive moments in 2017 have ironically come in losses, as she fell in the semis of the pre-AO tournament at Traralgon to Iga Swiatek, 6-7/7-6/7-5, and in the 3rd Round at Roland Garros in a three-setter to eventual girls champ Whitney Osuigwe.

DOUBLES: Shuko Aoyama/Renata Voracova (JPN/CZE) and Abigail Spears/USA
...maybe the Washington women's doubles title trophy should just be named after Shuko Aoyama -- she's certainly spent more time with it than anyone else. The 29-year old picked up her fourth D.C. title (after three straight from 2012-14, and a RU in '16) with a fourth different partner, as Voracova joins Chang Kai-Chen (2012), Vera Dushevina (2013), Gaby Dabrowski (2014) as one of the Japanese vet's co-champions. Risa Ozaki was Aoyama's runner-up doubles mate a year ago. The #2-seeds were forced to 3rd set TB wins in the first two rounds this week, but closed out things in style, losing just eleven total games in the SF/F, and defeating Bouchard/Stephens 3 & 2 to take the title in the final. It's Aoyama's seventh career tour win, and Voracova's tenth. The 33-year old Czech also won a WTA 125 Series WD title in Bol earlier this season.

In Stanford, Spears teamed with CoCo Vandeweghe to win her third doubles title at the event, defending the crown she won last year with Raquel Atawo (the duo also won in '13). Spears/Vandeweghe dropped just one set in the event (QF - a 1st set TB vs. Ahn/Gibbs) and defeated Alize Cornet & Alicja Rosolska 2 & 3 in the final, played after CoCo had lost the singles final to Keys. 2017 has been quite a season for the 36-year old Spears, as the veteran Bannerette won her first slam title (AO MX w/ Juan Sebastian Cabal), saw her longtime partnership with Atawo come to end, then winning a previous season title with Katarina Srebotnik in Doha, as well as reaching another final in Stuttgart. With her Stanford win, Spears now has twenty career tour-level WD titles, and joins Martina Hingis (also 36) as the second-oldest champions on tour this year, behind only 41-year old Prague WD champ Kveta Peschke.


1. Stanford Final - Madison Keys def. CoCo Vandeweghe
In the end, one break proved to be the difference. After twenty consecutive holds of serve (take that, men's tennis crybabies), Keys finally broke through in game #9 of the 2nd set, grabbing the break lead and serving out the match against the increasingly frustrated Vandeweghe to get the first non-grass court singles title of her career.

2. Washington 1st Rd. - Bianca Andreescu def. Camila Giorgi 5-7/6-3/6-4
Washington 2nd Rd. - Bianca Andreescu def. Kristina Mladenovic 6-2/6-3
the 17-year old WC (#167) gets her her first WTA win to become the youngest Canadian to notch a tour win since Maureen Drake in 1988, then becomes the first "2000 baby" to record a Top 20 victory with her upset of Mladenovic. In the latter match, Mladenovic led 2-0 in the 1st set before dropping six straight games to lose the set, then held a break lead early in the 2nd, as well, but then never held another BP opportunity for the remainder of the match. The Pastry served at just 38% on the day, and had ten DF.


3. Washington 2nd Rd. - Simona Halep def. Mariana Duque 3-6/6-4/6-2
Washington QF - Ekaterina Makarova def. Simona Halep 2-6/6-3/1-0 ret.
Halep, often doubling over in the 146-degree on-court temperatures, barely made it through her match against the Colombian, and despite requesting a night match, was forced to go through another afternoon "MTO Watch" the next day. This time, with a headache and feeling ill, she decided to stop before things got worse. You'd think that the tournament's most promoted member of the women's draw might be given a bit of a break, rather than the early week night sessions of the dual ATP/WTA event being dominated by men's matches. But, well, we've been here before, haven't we?

And, really, whose bright idea was it for adidas to outfit so many players in black outfits while playing in the (well known) summer humidity of the U.S. East Coast? Stupid (and I don't really think the look is so awe-inspiring and/or fashion forward that it makes it worth it, either).

4. Washington Final - Ekaterina Makarova def. Julia Goerges
For a while, it looked as if Goerges would *finally* get her first singles title in seven years. But, no. After overcoming a 4-1 2nd set deficit, the German led 5-2 and served for the match at 6-5. But Makarova denied her the win, and never looked back. Of course, as much as the disappointment likely played a part in the 3rd set bagel, Goerges having to play until around midnight on Saturday night likely didn't help when things went the distance on Sunday afternoon, either.

5. Washington SF - Julia Goerges def. Andrea Petkovic
While it wasn't the serving clinic that the Keys/CoCo final on the opposite coast would be a day later, the all-German semi in D.C. was quite an enjoyable affair. In 2:30, the countrywomen battled into the late evening hours for a shot at a great title opportunity, with Goerges ultimately twice coming back from break deficit in the 3rd -- Petko had a seeming put-away shot at the net on her racket for a 5-2 lead -- to get the win.

6. Stanford QF - CiCi Bellis def. Petra Kvitova
It's looking like we were all a bit presumptuous to think that Petra would suddenly become a tour factor again after her return this summer, huh? Oh, well. Of course, the 4Q indoor season might provide an opportunity for a nice finish.

7. Washington 1st Rd. - Oceane Dodin def. Jelena Jankovic
...4-6/6-3/2-0 ret.
And JJ admits that she's unsure whether she'll play again in 2017. If not, then the U.S. Open would be without all three of the giants of the great Serbian tennis generation that produced three #1-ranked players: JJ, AnaIvo and Djokovic. The last slam without any of the trio? The 2003 U.S. Open -- fourteen years and fifty-six majors ago.
8. Stanford 1st Round - Nicole Gibbs def. Claire Liu
It wasn't a return to her NCAA championship days while playing for the Stanford Cardinal, but recovering from a 5-2 3rd set deficit to defeat the rising teenager surely counts for something for Gibbsy.
9. Stanford SF - Madison Keys def. Garbine Muguruza
Wimbledon champ Muguruza surrendered just six games in matches vs. '16 U.S. Open girls champ Kayla Day and '16 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Ana Konjuh, but more than met her match against a super in-form Keys. Still, in her first action since lifting the Venus Rosewater dish, Muguruza did extend her winning streak to nine matches before the loss. Though her 1-4 '17 record in semifinals *does* look a bit of an odd fit for a player ranked #4 in the world.

10. Washington 2nd Rd. - Andrea Petkovic def. Genie Bouchard
If Bouchard stumbles this week in Canada -- as she often has during her career -- can we start referring to her as TPFKAGB? (The Player Formerly Known as Genie Bouchard.)

Pretty please, Tennis Gods?
11. Washington SF - Genie Bouchard/Sloane Stephens def. Sania Mirza/Monica Niculescu
...1-6/7-5 [10-8].
Mirza won a title (New Haven) in one summer 2016 outing with Niculescu, but could manage just a single match victory in D.C. in their maiden '17 event. There *has* to be a partner out there that Mirza will *eventually* click with in the post-Hingis era, right?
12. $25K Fort Worth Final - Katerina Stewart def. Emiliana Arango
The 20-year old West Point Prep cadet picks up her ninth career ITF title in her third summer event, making her way through qualifying and handling the 16-year old Colombian playing in *her* second challenger final appearance of the summer.

13. $15K Targu Jiu Final - Samantha Harris/Belinda Woolcock def. Margarita Lazareva/Milana Spremo
The Aussies pick up their third straight ITF doubles crown.
14. $25K El Espinar Final - Paula Badosa def. Ayla Aksu
The 19-year old Spaniard picks up her third career ITF win -- her first since July '15 -- while Turkey's Aksu falls to 0-5 in 2017 challenger finals. Maybe she and Caro should get together for a practice session?

15. WTT Final - Orange County Breakers def. San Diego Aviators
The Breakers -- who were the first squad to sweep the league's regular season awards, including wins for Female MVP Andreja Klepac, and Female Rookie of the Year Yanina Wickmayer -- deny the Aviators their second consecutive title, winning their first World Team Tennis title (and King Cup, as in Billie Jean) since 2004. In the final, Wickmayer defeated Naomi Broady 5-2 in the opening set of play, setting the tone and establishing the lead that O.C. never relinquished.


All right, new #1. You've got next...

#1 @wta ?? Getty Images Photo Credit

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1. Stanford 1st Rd. - CAROLINE DOLEHIDE def. NAOMI OSAKA
As good as the result was for Dolehide, it was just the opposite for Osaka, who suffered her sixth 1st Round loss in her last nine MD appearances in 2017.

2. Toronto Q2 - NAOMI OSAKA def. Barbora Krejcikova
But the 19-year old will get another chance in Ontario, after saving a MP in the 2nd and taking out the Czech to reach the Rogers Cup MD.

Another one for you! Comment if you have ever had a yellow ???? It's so goood!!!

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5 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (0-5)
4 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-0)
4 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-3)
3 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (3-0)
3 - Johanna Konta, GBR (2-1)
3 - Simona Halep, ROU (1-2)
3 - Anett Kontaveit, EST (1-2)

*2017 WTA SF*
6 - Johanna Konta, GBR (3-2+L)
6 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE (2-3+W)
5 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (5-0)
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (4-1)
5 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (4-1)
4 - Simona Halep, ROU (3-1)
4 - Jelena Ostapenko, LAT (2-2)
4 - Lucie Safarova, CZE (1-3)
4 - Caroline Garcia, FRA (0-4)

7 yr/7 wk = Anastasija Sevastova [5/10 Estoril = 6/17 Mallorca]
5 yr = Timea Babos [2/12 Monterrey = 2/17 Budapest]
3 yr/9 mo = Elena Vesnina [6/13 Eastbourne = 3/17 I.W.]
3 yr/6 mo = EKATERINA MAKAROVA [2/14 PATTAYA = 8/17 D.C.]
3 yr/2 mo = Donna Vekic [4/14 K.Lumpur = 6/17 Nottingham]

Australian Open (USA): S.Williams d. V.Williams
Indian Wells (RUS): Vesnina d. Kuznetsova
Strasbourg (AUS): Stosur d. Gavrilova

4 - CZE: Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,Vondrousova
4 - *RUS: Kasatkina,MAKAROVA,Pavlyuchenkova,Vesnina
3 - *USA: Davis,KEYS,S.Williams
2 - AUS: Barty,Stosur
2 - GER: Barthel,Siegemund
2 - LAT: Ostapenko,Sevastova
2 - ROU: Begu,Halep
2 - UKR: Svitolina,Tsurenko

Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty/AUS (WW)
Istanbul - Elise Mertens/BEL(LL)
Birmingham - Ash Barty/AUS (LW)
Mallorca - Anastasija Sevastova/LAT (W,walkover L)
Bucharest - Irina-Camelia Begu/ROU (WW)
Gstaad - Kiki Bertens/NED (WW)

41,9m - Kveta Peschke, CZE (Prague)
36,9m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Wimbledon MX)
36,9m,1w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Eastbourne)
36,9m - Martina Hingis, SUI (Mallorca)
36,7m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Rome)
36,7m,2w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Madrid)
36,5m,3w - Martina Hingis, SUI (Indian Wells)

2013 Shelby Rogers
2014 Nicole Gibbs
2015 Samantha Crawford
2016 Sonya Kenin
2017 Sonya Kenin

[King Cup]
1974 Denver Raquets
1975 Pittsburgh Triangles
1976 New York Sets
1977 New York Apples
1978 Los Angeles Strings
1981 Los Angeles Strings
1982 Dallas Stars
1983 Chicago Fyre
1984 San Diego Buds
1985 San Diego Buds
1986 San Antonio Raquets
1987 Charlotte Heat
1988 Charlotte Heat
1989 San Antonio Raquets
1990 Los Angeles Strings
1991 Atlanta Thunder
1992 Atlanta Thunder
1993 Wichita Advantage
1994 New Jersey Stars
1995 New Jersey Stars
1996 St.Louis Aces
1997 Sacramento Capitals
1998 Sacramento Capitals
1999 Sacramento Capitals
2000 Sacramento Capitals
2001 Philadelphia Freedoms
2002 Sacramento Capitals
2003 Delaware Smash
2004 Newport Beach Breakers
2005 New York Sportimes
2006 Philadelphia Freedoms
2007 Sacramento Capitals
2008 Kansas City Explorers
2009 Washington Kastles
2010 Kansas City Explorers
2011 Washington Kastles (undefeated)
2012 Washington Kastles (undefeated)
2013 Washington Kastles
2014 Washington Kastles
2015 Washington Kastles
2016 San Diego Aviators
2017 Orange County Breakers

Dubai - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Indian Wells - Elena Vesnina, RUS
Miami - Johanna Konta, GBR
Madrid - Simona Halep, ROU
Rome - Elina Svitolina, UKR
Toronto - TBD
Cincinnati - TBD
Wuhan - TBD
Beijing - TBD
Dubai - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
Indian Wells - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Miami - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
Madrid - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI
Rome - Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI

[14s - ITF World Juniors]
2007 United States d. France
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 United States d. Czech Republic
2010 United States d. Ukraine
2011 Serbia d. United States
2012 Slovakia d. Great Britain
2013 United States d. Russia
2014 Russia d. Ukraine
2015 Russia d. United States
2016 Ukraine d. United States
2017 (Aug.7-12)
[16s - Junior Fed Cup]
2007 Australia d. Poland
2008 United States d. Great Britain
2009 Russia d. Germany
2010 Russia d. China
2011 Australia d. Canada
2012 United States d. Russia
2013 Russia d. Australia
2014 United States d. Slovakia
2015 Czech Republic d. United States
2016 Poland d. United States
2017 (Sept.19-24)

Hmmm, would this count as a "doubles duo?"

16 Singles Final: Halep d. Keys
16 Doubles Final: Makarova/Vesnina d. Halep/Niculescu
17 Top Seeds: Ka.Pliskova/Halep

Vandeweghe d. #1 Ka.Pliskova
#7 Konta d. #3 Kerber
#9 V.Williams d. #4 Muguruza
Ostapenko d. #2 Halep
#3 Konta d. Vandeweghe
#9 V.Williams d. Ostapenko
#3 Konta d. #9 V.Williams

...Stanford was the first tournament since 2004 (Philadelphia) where the top eight seeds all reached the quarterfinals. What are the odds of it happening again in Toronto?

Of course, Keys is currently situated in the bottom section, set to possibly face #2 Halep (DC) in the 2nd Round (after a 1st Round match-up w/ Lucic-Baroni). You have to wonder if she'll play this event, or at least if she'll be fully engaged in it. Same with CoCo. If they are, though... bring on the Open as quickly as possible for both of them.

#1 Makarova/Vesnina d. #5 Babos/Hlavackova
#2 Y.Chan/Hingis d. #3 Safarova/Strycova
#1 Makarova/Vesnina d. #2 Y.Chan/Hingis

...Peng Shuai takes her turn in the Mirza rumble seat this week, as well as some other rarely-seen doubles duos, including Konta/Svitolina (!!), Safarova/Strycova (no FC this fall, so...), Bouchard/Ka.Pliskova, Dabrowski/Ostapenko, and two-time 2017 GD slam winners Andreescu/Branstine.

All for now.