Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wk.37- Nothing is Over Until We Decide It Is

So, here we are, a week past the end of the tennis season...

Oh, yeah. All right then...

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC CAN (Int'l/Indoor Carpet)
S: Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL def. Timea Babos/HUN 5-7/6-4/6-1
D: Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova (HUH/CZE) d. Bianca Andreescu/Carson Branstine (CAN/CAN) 6-3/6-1

S: Zarina Diyas/KAZ def. Miyu Kato/JPN 6-2/7-5
D: Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan (JPN/CHN) d. Monique Adamczak/Storm Sanders (AUS/AUS) 6-0/2-6 [10-5]

...step right up, Zarina Diyas. You're the latest woman to find her way to into the WTA spotlight after an injury-induced fall. And, true to form, no one said it would be easy.

The former world #31 (in 2015 after a two-season stretch when she reached three slam 3rd Rounds and back-to-back Round of 16's at Wimbledon), 23-year old Diyas claimed her maiden tour singles title in Tokyo at the end of a summer in which the Kazakh has worked to climb the tour ladder once again after missing seven months with a wrist injury incurred at Wimbledon last season. Diyas returned in February and promptly lost her first four matches. She found herself ranked at #242 in the spring. But that's when her climb began. Since then, she's reached a WTA 125 Series SF (a week ago in Dalian) and QF, two $100K finals (1-1), won a $25K challenger and took a SW19 wild card and reached the 3rd Round at the All-England Club, and had returned to the Top 100 (at exactly #100) prior to this past week's run. A woman on a mission, she qualified at the Japan Open (winning a 2nd set TB over Luksika Kumkhum and winning in three sets in the final round) and pushed her way through to the final with wins over Misaki Doi (3 sets), #2 Zhang Shuai, Yulia Putintseva (3 sets) and defending champ Christina McHale (3 sets, coming back from 3-1 down in the final set). Playing in her first WTA final since doing so in the same event (in Osaka) in 2014 (def. by Stosur), with her leg strapped after playing eighteen sets through seven matches last week, she managed to avoid yet another three-setter by pushing back fellow qualifier Miyu Kato in a tight 7-5 2nd to win in straights. Diyas will rise thirty-seven spots to #63 on Monday.
RISERS: Alison Van Uytvanck/BEL and Timea Babos/HUN
...Van Uytvanck had wrist surgery in December after ending the '16 season at #123 following a Top 50 campaign the prior year. She didn't make her '17 debut until March, but the 23-year old Waffle made up for much of her lost time (and results) last week in Quebec City. After squandering a big 3rd set lead in the 1st Round vs. Canada's Carol Zhao, the Belgian won a deciding TB to advance and never looked back, defeating Marina Erakovic, Caroline Dolehide, Tatjana Maria and then gradually pulling away from Babos in the three-set final to claim her maiden tour title. Van Uytvanck's previous best result had been a WTA 125 Series win in 2013. She'll jump thirty spots in the rankings this week, climbing from #98 to #68 in a single bound.

Babos, Van Uytvanck's opponent in the Quebec City final, had a busy week, just as she's had a busy year. She reached both the singles and doubles finals, winning her thirteenth career doubles title (losing zero sets w/ Andrea Hlavackova) while adding a second '17 indoor singles final to her home win in Budapest in February. The 24-year old went to three sets in wins over Jamie Loeb and Naomi Broady, then took out Franckie Abanda and #1-seed Lucie Safarova to reach her fifth career singles final. Earlier this year, Babos lost nine straight matches and went 1-11 during a spring/summer stretch, a dreadful slump that only came to a close when the Hungarian *last* played a tournament in Canada, when she knocked off teenager Bianca Andreescu in the 1st Round in Toronto. Babos has now gone 7-5 in her last twelve matches, including a spirited three-set loss to Maria Sharapova in the 2nd Round of the U.S. Open.

SURPRISES: Miyu Kato/JPN and Sachia Vickery/USA
...scrambling five-foot-one 22-year old Kato has had more doubles success than singles in her career, including a SF run in Melbourne earlier this season, but she caught lightning in a bottle last week in front of a supportive crowd in Tokyo, reaching her first career WTA singles final while escaping several traps after having originally made her way through qualifying. Kato had to go three sets twice in three Q-round matches, including winning a deciding TB over Poland's Magdalena Frech just to reach the MD. Once safely there, she won three consecutive straight sets matches over Nao Hibino, Kristyna Pliskova (her first Top 50 win) and Aleksandra Krunic, then used her defensive skills to survive a near three-hour semifinal bout with Jana Fett in which she saw the Croat serve for the match and hold a MP before finally wearing her down down the stretch. Kato jumps forty-eight spots to a new career-high of #123 on Monday.

Vickery (world #134) seems to always hang around in the shadows of the tour, popping her head into the sunlight on occasion to remind everyone that she's there. The past week was another of those occasions. Her QF run in Quebec City was actually the fourth such result in her WTA career, but she's never produced more than one in any of the past four seasons, making it easy to forget that she's been there before. Wins over Taylor Townsend and Viktorija Golubic to reach the final eight puts this result on par with the 22-year old's previous results in Stanford (2014, as a qualifier), Nottingham (2015, as a qualifier) and Bogota (2016) the last three seasons. Vickery recently qualified to reach the U.S. Open MD, where she posted her second career slam MD win, four years after she posted her first in 2013.

VETERAN: Tatjana Maria/GER
...lost in the sea of later-career surges, and post-motherhood success, is the rise of Maria. The 30-year old German had a daughter in late 2013, and since then has put up her best slam result ('15 Wimbledon 3rd) and MD slam wins in three straight majors this season, as well as in five of the last six slam MD in which she's appeared. After ending 2016 with a $100K SF and WTA 125 QF result, in '17 she's reached four $100K finals (2-2), last week reached her career high rank of #58 and then followed that up with her first WTA singles semifinal result in Quebec City after posting wins over Fanny Stollar, Grace Min and Sachia Vickery. On Monday, she'll climb to another new career-high rank of #54, one spot behind Timea Babos, who this weekend fell a set short of claiming her second singles title of '17.

And if you don't believe all that, sue me. Tatjana, put down that phone.
COMEBACK: Sesil Karatantcheva/BUL
...we've experienced 2017 comebacks from Petra, Maria, Sloane, Zarina, Mirjana, Alexandra, Kaia and others. But can we handle the return of Sesil? Maybe an even bigger question, can she, after a long and crazy trip with more curves than a World War II pin-up calendar.

Well, whatever comes next has apparently taken it's first step toward reality, as the 28-year old Bulgarian just claimed her first singles title in six years with her run at this week's $60K challenger in Las Vegas. Coming in ranked #224, Karatantcheva defeated #2-seed Louisa Chirico, then won a 7-5 3rd set to take her semifinal over Mexico's Renata Zarazua and reach her first final since she played in a $50K title decider in the summer of 2014 (which itself was her first final in two years at the time). Heading into the Sunday match, Sesil had a 1-6 record in ITF finals since 2008, after having been 6-1 from 2003-08 on her way up the tennis ladder. But she turned back the tide this time around, defeating Elitsa Kostova 6-4/4-6/7-5 to take home the crown, her first since 2011 and just her second since 2008 (she never reached a WTA level singles final). Such numbers might have been hard to believe for her career a dozen years ago, when Karatantcheva reached the Roland Garros QF and finished the season at #35, grabbing headlines with her personality all along the way. She's had one Top 100 finish since (#93 in 2012), fewer than the number of countries she's represented during the span and equal to her number of newsworthy suspensions.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many additional positive steps.

FRESH FACES: Jana Fett/CRO, Franckie Abanda/CAN and Caroline Dolehide/USA
...20-year old Fett was at it again in Tokyo. But, once again, The Force wasn't *totally* with her. Back in January the Croat made a spirited qualifier-to-first-time-semifinalist run in Hobart, and she put on a similar show last week. After posting three wins to reach the MD, she burst into the MD by upsetting #1-seeded Kristina Mladenovic (her first Top 20 win), then backed it up with wins over Jana Cepelova and Wang Qiang. In an all-qualifier semi vs. Miyu Kato, Fett served for the match at 6-5 in the 2nd, holding a MP, only to double-fault and be forced to a 3rd set. She led 3-0 there, as well, but was gradually worn down by the defensive-minded Kato and was cramping as she went down in defeat in the nearly three-hour marathon. Still, she'll jump twenty-four spots in the rankings on Monday, cracking the Top 100 for the first time at #99.

Abanda, 20, led the Canadian singles charge in Quebec City, reaching her first career tour QF in front of the home crowd with wins over Asia Muhammad and Varvara Lepchenko. Abanda has flashed on several occasions in '17, including a starring role in Fed Cup (going 2-0 vs. Putintseva and Shvedova in Canada's win over Kazakhstan) in the spring, two successful slam qualifying runs and 1st Round MD wins in Paris and Wimbledon (she subsequently lost to Wozniacki and Ostapenko, respectively). While Bianca Andreescu may be the "future Canadian #1," Abanda might just be the "next Canadian #1." This result bumps her up to a new career high of #115, putting her just 209 points behind #87 TPFKAGB. 17-year old Andreescu will be at #158, 183 points behind Abanda as the current Canadian #3.

19-year old Dolehide made headlines earlier this summer in Stanford, qualifying to make her WTA MD debut and posting a 1st Round win over Naomi Osaka, then taking eventual champ Madison Keys to three sets. A winner of two $25K titles in 2017, last week Dolehide reached her maiden tour-level QF after qualifying and getting MD wins over Charlotte Robillard-Millette and receiving a walkover from #2-seeded defending champ Oceane Dodin (dizziness). She'll be at a new career-best #137 this week.

DOWN: Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
...the Pastry's downward spiral continues. Mladenovic's 1st Round loss (as the top seed) in Tokyo to qualifier Jana Fett is her sixth in a row, all in straight sets. Her last multi-win event was in Birmingham early in the grass season. But I'm sure she'll turn this around soon.

ITF PLAYER: Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU
...the 29-year old Romanian moved into a tie for the circuit season lead with her fifth title at the $80K challenger in Biarritz (well, as least she did until Greek Despina Papamichail won her third straight challenger this same weekend, making her the first to get to six titles in '17). Fresh off her slam MD debut as a qualifier at Flushing Meadow, Buzarnescu picked up career ITF title #20 -- and won the doubles, too, with Irina Bara -- with wins over Bara, Martina Trevisan and 38-year old Patty Schnyder in the final. Buzarnescu has gone 13-2 in ITF singles finals since 2011.

JUNIOR STARS: Bianca Andreescu/Carson Branstine (CAN/CAN) and Maria Lourdes Carle/ARG
...17-year olds Andreescu & Branstine opened the season by winning both the AO & RG junior doubles crowns. Future Canadian #1 Andreescu has moved on to improving tour-level success (singles QF in D.C. and an accompanying WTA Breakthrough of the Month award) as the season has progressed, but the friends joined forces once again last week in Quebec City. With a wild card into the MD, they won a 10-7 3rd set TB over #2-seeded Hradecka/Krejcikova in the 2nd Round and reached their first WTA final, losing to top-seeded Babos/Hlavackova. Andreescu shined in singles, as well, knocking off Jennifer Brady in straights and serving for the match vs. Lucie Hradecka in the 2nd Round before falling to the veteran Czech.

In Buenos Aires, U.S. Open girls semifinalist Carle, 17, took her skills to the ITF circuit and carried over her momentum, sweeping the singles and doubles (w/ 18-year old Brit Emily Appleton) titles at the $15K to grab her first professional crowns. She proved herself in the clutch, as well, winning a 3rd set TB over countrywoman Stephanie Mariel Petit in the final on home soil for both.

DOUBLES: Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan, JPN/CHN
...when Aoyama finds a place where she's comfortable, get out of her way. In Tokyo, the 29-year old Japanese vet joined forces with China's Yang to win her eighth career WTA doubles title. Seven of those titles have come in two events, with her four-title run in Washington now joined by her third title in the past four years in the Japan Open (in Osaka and Tokyo), including two in a row. The duo had to win a pair on 3rd set tie-breaks (vs. teams that were 3/4 Aussie), 10-8 in the QF vs. Liang/Ar.Rodionova and then 10-5 in the final against Adamczak/Sanders. For Yang, it's career title #2 to go along with her win in Kuala Lumpur last year, ending her four-match losing streak in WD finals.


More "Coffee with Lucie"...

1. Tokyo SF - Miyu Kato def. Jana Fett
Kato's trip to a surprise singles final included some tough matches in qualifying, but nothing topped her Houdini act in the semifinals vs. Fett. After Fett recovered from a 3-1 1st set deficit to take a one set lead, the Croat served for the match at 6-5 in the 2nd and held a MP. She double-faulted. After losing the TB, Fett led 3-0 in the 3rd, only to see the scurrying defense of the Japanese woman steal away with the 2:53 victory as Fett cramped up down the stretch and failed for the second time this season to win a semifinal match and her maiden tour final.

2. Quebec City 1st Rd. - Bianca Andreescu def. Jennifer Brady 6-3/6-2
Quebec City 2nd Rd. - Lucie Hradecka def. Bianca Andreescu 2-6/6-2/7-5
the 17-year old dropped Brady to 0-8 in '17 in non-slam MD matches (she's 7-4 in major MD), but couldn't close out the match vs. the Czech after serving up 5-3 in the 3rd.
3. Tokyo Final - Zarina Diyas def. Miyu Kato
Diyas is the fifth qualifier to win a tour singles title this year, the most in any WTA season. This is the first time two players who were in the qualifying competition met to decide a tour singles title since qualifier Ana Ivanovic defeated lucky loser Melinda Czink in the Canberra final in 2004.

4. Quebec City Final - Alison Van Uytvanck def. Timea Babos 5-7/6-4/6-1
Quebec City Final - Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova def. Bianca Andreescu/Carson Branstine 6-3/6-1
Babos has had quite the wacky season. She suffered through that long losing streak, but is also 1-1 in singles finals and 3-1 in doubles. She's never played in more singles finals in a season, and has only won more doubles titles once (4 in 2013).
5. Quebec City 1st Rd. - Jana Fett def. Kristina Mladenovic
Karma, thy name is Kiki.


6. Tokyo 1st Rd. - Aleksandra Krunic def. Kimiko Date
All good things...

7. Quebec City Q2 - Charlotte Robillard-Millette def. Conny Perrin 6-7(7)/7-6(7)/6-2
Quebec City 1st Rd. - Alison Van Uytvanck def. Carol Zhao 4-6/6-2/7-6(1)
Andreescu/Branstine reached the doubles final. Abanda made the singles QF. 18-year CRM reached her first WTA MD (saving a MP en route), and Zhao came back from 5-2 down in the 3rd to force a deciding TB vs. the eventual tournament champion. Pretty much all of Canadian women's tennis shined in Quebec. Well, save for the (currently) highest-ranked Canadian, I mean.
8. Tokyo 1st Rd. - Sara Sorribes Tormo def. Samantha Stosur
Not a victory, but not a bad match for Sam in her first outing since losing to Ostapenko at Roland Garros, either.
9. $15K Prague Final - Miriam Kolodziejova def. Nastja Kolar
The Czech had previously been 1-7 in career ITF singles finals.
10. $15K Szekesfehervar Final - Panna Udvardy def. Reka Luca Jani
Udvardy wins the all-Hungarian final in Hungary. Udvardy & Jani, like countrywoman Babos in Quebec City, reached both the singles and doubles finals in *their* event, losing as a pair in the championship match.
HM- $60K Las Vegas Final - An-Sophie Mestach/Laura Robson def. Sophie Chang/Alexandra Mueller
This is Robson's biggest career women's doubles title. She won her biggest career singles crown at a $60K in Kurume, Japan in May. Baby-steppin'.


1. Tokyo (Japan Open) Q1 - ARINA RODIONOVA def. MARI OSAKA 4-6/6-4/6-4
Tokyo (Japan Open) 1st Rd. - Kurumi Nara def. NAOMI OSAKA 6-3/6-0
Naomi reached the final of the Premier event in Tokyo last year, but neither Osaka sister picked up a victory in the International level tournament there this past week.
2. Tokyo (TPP) Q2 - Duan Yingying def. MARI OSAKA
In the qualifying for the Toray Pan Pacific Premier event in Tokyo, held in the same Ariake Coliseum as the previous event in the city, Mari lost in the second round. Naomi will open in the main draw vs. Angelique Kerber. If that match-up sounds familiar, it should. Naomi just "upset" Kerber in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open.



And this (to be continued?)...

And, sigh, this (give it a rest, people, you're now officially embarrassing yourselves)...


What's mine is yours ????

A post shared by Victoria Azarenka (@vichka35) on

Exploring NYC today Danish style on the ????

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More Dashas Cinéma vérité

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This happened last night, it really did and I can't say thank you enough. ?? To all 4??0??0??+ !! of you!! #Unstoppable

A post shared by Maria Sharapova (@mariasharapova) on

Honestly, I'm still trying to find the "antagonism" noted in the description of the article in the quotes provided (in many ways, they're actually more Sharapova's way to compliment Serena as a competitor and athlete, and an acknowledgment that Williams was able to psychologically challenge, intimidate -- physically and otherwise -- and, later, defeat her without ever needing to actually play a point against her, and that those two wins over Williams as a 17-year old sealed her fate to be Serena's "rented mule" for the remainder of her career because Williams would never forget about them... ask Sloane about that particular dynamic, as well). But, then again, to some people, if Sharapova mentions Serena's name in public at all it's considered "antagonistic," so I guess it's no surprise that that's the case here (and in the comments to that post, and others). Of course, if she *didn't* mention Williams (which she rarely does) those same people, I'm sure, would call it an "insult" and accuse Sharapova of being afraid to talk about her.

Hmmm, I'm sensing a pattern here. A circular one, in fact.

Also, it always makes me chuckle when those same people constantly drag out Serena's overwhelming record vs. Sharapova since 2004 and her large lead in slam titles as a way to "speak the truth" about the Russian's career by noting that Williams has had a better one. Well, umm, no kidding... that's why she's often called "the greatest" player ever, while Sharapova isn't. It's not as if they're breaking any news there, no matter how smart and condescending they *think* they sound by pointing out such an obvious fact. In reality, they make *themselves* look worse than they do Sharapova.

Serena really doesn't need their obviously personal (and often petty) attacks to win this argument. She's THE player of her generation (and more), and no one questions it. She'd be Serena with or without Sharapova, and Sharapova has surely made a career -- both in and outside of tennis -- aside from anything involving Serena. Still, to deny Sharapova's career has been defined -- for good, and bad -- in many respects by her matches against and career parallels with Williams would also be inaccurate. So the individuals who gripe that Sharapova dares to mention Serena's name in her autobiography, please, they should just shut the hell up and ignore her if they truly think she's so unworthy. They complain that Sharapova is "obsessed" with Williams, but couldn't the same be said about *them* when it comes to their joyful bashing of all things Sharapova? Askin' for a friend.

Auckland - Lauren Davis, USA (23/#61)
Shenzhen - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (20/#52)
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (21/#127)
Saint Petersburg - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (23/#51)
Kuala Lumpur - Ash Barty, AUS (20/#158)
Charleston - Daria Kasatkina, RUS (19/#42)
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (17/#233)
Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (20/#47)
's-Hertogenbosch - Anett Kontaveit, EST (21/#49)
New Haven - Dasha Gavrilova, AUS (23/#26)

Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL (#127) - W
Kuala Lumpur- Ash Barty, AUS (#158) - W
Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (#233) - W
Prague - Mona Barthel, GER (#82) - W
Nurnberg - Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (#254)

#254 - Barbora Krejcikova, CZE (Nurnberg)
#233 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel - W)
#168 - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota - W)
#158 - Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur - W)
#127 - Elise Mertens, BEL (Hobart - W)
#106 - Nao Hibino, JPN (Kuala Lumpur)
#100 - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Rabat)
NR - Maria Sharapova/RUS (Stuttgart)
#934 - Sloane Stephens/USA (Toronto)
#340 - Jana Fett/CRO (Hobart)
#254 - Barbora Krejcikova/CZE (Nurnberg RU)
#233 - Marketa Vondrousova/CZE (Biel W)
#168 - Francesca Schiavone/ITA (Bogota W)
#158 - Ash Barty/AUS (Kuala Lumpur W)
#151 - Sloane Stephens/USA (Cincinnati)
#147 - Wang Yafan/CHN (Nanchang)
#140 - Tereza Martincova/CZE (Gstaad)
#139 - Han Xinyun/CHN (Kuala Lumpur)
#127 - Elise Mertens/BEL (Hobart W)
#126 - Heather Watson/GBR (Eastbourne)
#126 - Han Xinyun/CHN (Nanchang)
[WTA 125 semifinalists]
#623 - Vera Zvonareva/RUS (Dalian RU)
#250 - Vitalia Diatchenko/RUS (Dalian)
#235 - Alexandra Cadantu/ROU (Bol RU)

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

Simona Halep - Madrid 2016-17
Kiki Bertens - Nurnberg 2016-17
Sania Mirza - Brisbane 2016-17
Chan/Chan - Taipei City 2016-17
Martina Hingis - Rome 2016-17
Abigail Spears - Stanford 2016-17
Makarova/Vesnina - Rogers Cup 2016-17

7...Y.Chan/Hingis, TPE/SUI (6-0+W)
6...Barty/Dellacqua, AUS/AUS (3-3)
5...Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS (3-2)
5...Hradecka/Siniakova, CZE/CZE (0-5)
3...Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE (3-0)
3...Hlavackova/Peng, CZE/CHN (1-2)
9...Chan Yung-Jan, TPE (7-1+W)
8...Martina Hingis, SUI (6-1+W)
6...Ash Barty, AUS (3-3)
6...Casey Dellacqua, AUS (3-3)

17 - Marketa Vondrousova (Biel-W)
19 - Ana Konjuh (Auckland-L)
19 - Alona Ostapenko (Charleston-L)
19 - Dasha Kasatkina (Charleston-W)
16 - Tang Qianhui (Nanchang-W)
18 - Jiang Xinyu (Nanchan-W)
19 - Alona Ostapenko (Saint Petersburg-W)
19 - Alona Ostapenko (Stuttgart-W)

[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)

TOKYO, JAPAN [Premier/Hard]
16 Singles Final: Wozniacki d. N.Osaka
16 Doubles Final: Mirza/Strycova d. Liang/Zh.Yang
17 Top Seeds: Muguruza/Ka.Pliskova

#1 Muguruza d. #3 Wozniacki (hmmm, tempted to go other way here)
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. Pavlyuchenkova
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #1 Muguruza

#1 Chan/Chan d. Atawo/Jurak
Aoyama/Zh.Yang d. #2 Dabrowski/Xu
#1 Chan/Chan d. Aoyama/Zh.Yang (Yung-Jan spreadin' the wealth)

16 Singles Final: Arruabarrena d. Niculescu
16 Doubles Final: Flipkens/Larsson d. Omae/Plipuech
17 Top Seeds: Ostapenko/Bertens

#1 Ostapenko d. #7 Arruabarrena
#5 Begu d. #8 McHale
#1 Ostapenko d. #5 Begu (Latvian Thunder in the foreground, not North Korean "thunder" in the background)

Cirstea/Ostapenko d. #1 Bertens/Larsson
#3 Hibino/Kalashnikova d. Kumkhum/Plipuech
Cirstea/Ostapenko d. #3 Hibino/Kalashnikova

16 Singles Final: Tsurenko d. Jankovic
16 Doubles Final: Muhammad/Peng d. Govortsova/Lapko
17 Top Seeds: Peng/Sh.Zhang

Krunic d. #1 Peng (wanted to pick Fett to win in the QF, but can't go against The Bracelet)
#2 Sh.Zhang d. #3 Kontaveit
Krunic d. #2 Sh.Zhang

Krunic/Panova d. #1 Mertens/Schuurs
Kuwata/Q.Ye d. #2 Adamczak/Sanders
Krunic/Panova d. Kuwata/Q.Ye


JUNIOR FED CUP (16s) (Budapest, HUN)
16 Final: POL d. USA

As the tennis world turns...

Future considerations...

And, finally... once a legend(s), always a legend(s).

All for now.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

3Q Awards: I Know What You Did This Summer

The U.S. Open is over, so who were the stars of the summer?

1. Sloane Stephens, USA
...after starting the summer hard court season without a win on the season after returning from foot surgery, Future Sloane was suddenly and unexpectedly unleashed on the WTA landscape as Stephens reached back-to-back Premier semis in Toronto and Cincinnati, notched three Top 10 wins, rose from #957 to #17 in the rankings in less than two months and won her maiden slam title at Flushing Meadows. Now what? Will this Sloane become the default version of Stephens, or will she recede from the big stage once again once the bigger expectations return?
2. Madison Keys, USA
...the Stanford champion pushed aside her penchant for inconsistency and was often a dominant force on summer hard courts after an injury-plagued first seven months of the season. In New York, she became the Open's Queen of the Nighttime World and reached her first slam final, only to be undone by a bad day and a performance from Stephens that belied Sloane's similar lack of big final experience.
3. Chan Yung-Jan & Martina Hingis, TPE/SUI
...after struggling to find a suitable post-Sania partner, Martina seems to have hit the lottery with Chan. The pair added Cincinnati and U.S. Open titles to their season haul this summer, and Hingis grabbed her second straight slam Mixed crown to run her career combined slam total to 25 titles.

4. Garbine Muguruza, ESP
...the Spaniard won Cincinnati and came to Flushing Meadows as the Open favorite. It wasn't mean to be, as she ran into a resurgent Great Petra in the Round of 16. It worked out all right, though, as her consolation prize was to inherit the #1 ranking from Karolina Pliskova, giving Spain the top player in both the men's *and* women's games for the first time.
5. Elina Svitolina, UKR
...the breakthrough SF-or-better slam performance will have to wait until 2018, but the Ukrainian is getting closer, reaching the 4th Round at the Open (she led Keys 4-2 in the 3rd set) and winning her third big Premier title of the season at Toronto. She was one of the final three woman (of eight at the start of play) with a shot at #1 at the Open.

6t. CoCo Vandeweghe, USA and Venus Williams, USA
...the "other half" of the first all-Bannerette U.S. Open semifinals in New York since 1981 (and first at any slam since '85), Vandeweghe and Venus saw the spotlight stolen from them with career-best performances from both Keys and Stephens, respectively. Still, it's Williams' third SF-or-better slam result this season (her first such season-long run since '02) and CoCo's second major semi (w/ AO) of 2017. Vandeweghe also reached the Stanford final, and won the doubles title there before the hard court tour headed east for the rest of the summer.
8t. Ekaterina Makarova, RUS and Elena Vesnina, RUS
...Makarova won her first tour singles title in three and a half years with her run in Washington, then joined with longtime partner Vesnina to take the Cincinnati doubles title in a worthy follow-up to their Wimbledon crown. Makarova didn't produce a deep run at the Open, but eliminated Caroline Wozniacki in the 2nd Round.
10. Julia Goerges, GER
...the German didn't actually win anything, but the consistency of her results was notable. She reached singles finals in Bucharest and Washington, the QF in Cincinnati and the U.S. Open 4th Round before losing to Stephens in three sets.

Irina-Camilia Begu, ROU and Kiki Bertens, NED: they swept the singles and doubles in Bucharest (Begu) and Gstaad (Bertens)
CiCi Bellis, USA: her early Open exit and the subsequent runs by fellow Bannerettes at Flushing Meadows shoved her way down in the conversation list, but during the summer Bellis was one of the eyebrow-raising stories of hard court season with a Stanford SF run and wins over Cornet, Goerges, Kuznetsova and Kvitova over a two week stretch
Simona Halep, ROU: She *still* didn't take the #1 ranking, but she reached the Cincinnati final and was one of just two women (Wozniacki was the other) to defeat Stephens in Sloane's eighteen (15-3) summer hard court matches. In fact, Simona did it twice.
Petra Kvitova, CZE: The right woman at the right time. Petra's unexpected -- but oh so welcome -- flashes of brilliance en route to the QF at Flushing Meadows (which included a win over Wimbledon champ and new #1 Muguruza) was just what tennis, and everyone else, needed.

Karolina Pliskova, CZE: she lost her #1 ranking and, with her serve failing to heat up as it did last summer, couldn't return to the U.S. Open final. But the Czech still might end up as the season-ending #1, as she was just 4-5 in tour events last 4Q following her '16 Open run and won't be asked to defend many points.

Lucie Safarova, CZE: the Maiden assumed the #1 doubles ranking in place of injured partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands and, briefly, gave the WTA top ranked players in BOTH disciplines who hailed from the Czech Republic

When #1 meets #1! ??Czech represent!!! ???? #pojd????#proud #jsme #nejlepsi #cesko @karolinapliskova

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Anastasija Sevatova, LAT: She followed up her '16 U.S. Open QF with another, ending Sharapova's run along the way and coming closer than anyone (up 3-1 in the 3rd) to derailing what turned out to be Stephens' title turn
Maria Sharapova, RUS: she returned to action in New York, immediately stole the spotlight with a headline-grabbing upset of #2 Halep on Night 1, brought out the worst in some people and the best in others, and then ran out of steam mid-tournament after a spring and summer of spotty match play and injury issues, proving her worth to the sport, even if the return of her slam-winning capability still lags a little behind
Katerina Siniakova, CZE and Peng Shuai, CHN and Dasha Gavrilova, AUS: the Czech (Bastad) and Chinese vet (Nanchang) won early 3Q crowns, while Gavrilova closed out the pre-Open tune-up season with a career-boosting maiden tour singles title in New Haven, giving her a more tangible honor to go with her recent rise to the top of the Aussie rankings
Caroline Wozniacki, DEN: whining about Sharapova's match placement at the Open (after *she* had been eliminated early) notwithstanding, the Dane had an impressive summer, reaching finals in Bastad and Toronto. She's still looking for her first 2017 title in six finals, though.

And, of course...

Serena: Otherwise known as the newest Mama Williams... and probably as "the new (insert slam here) champion" once again by this time next year

To be continued...

=DAY 14 NOTES= of the final two WTA players to lift a title at this U.S. Open did so for the second time this weekend.

Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan picked up their first slam title as a pair, and seventh overall this season (they're 44-6), with a 6-3/6-2 win over Czechs Lucie Hradecka & Katerina Siniakova in the doubles final on Sunday. It's Hingis' 25th overall slam title, and her 13th in women's doubles (one behind both Williams Sisters among active players), while it's Chan's first major title. She'd been 0-3 in previous WD slam finals -- 0-2 in 2007 and with another loss in '15 -- and 0-1 in MX finals, as well.

...16-year old Amanda Anisimova won the all-Bannerette girls singles final over Coco Gauff, the third straight such U.S.-dominated championship match this slam season on the junior level. Her 6-0/6-2 win not only makes it three straight junior slam winners from the U.S. but four at the last five majors, two in a row at Flushing Meadows, and four in seven in New York.

U.S. Open 2017 Junior Champion ????????

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Gauff, 13, didn't go down meekly, though, saving ten MP on serve in the final game of the match before Anisimova finally won.

Olga Danilovic & Marta Kostyuk won the girls doubles crown, defeating Lea Boskovic (CRO) & Wang Xiyu (CHN) in a 6-1/7-5 final. Serb Danilovic won the girls doubles at Wimbledon earlier this year, while Ukrainian Kostyuk was the AO singles champ. the women's wheelchair singles final, top-seeded Yui Kamiji made her case for holding onto her high position in the women's game, as the 23-year old from Japan held off the latest rush from 20-year old #2-seed Diede de Groot. In the first singles match-up between the two on a slam stage, Kamiji claimed her fifth career slam singles crown with a 7-5/6-2 victory. The 23-year old from Japan won three of the four singles slams in 2017 (de Groot won SW19), as well as the RG & WI doubles (her 10th & 11th slam titles).

She'll enter 2018 with a chance to become the first player to win all eight slam singles & doubles crowns, needing only a singles win at the AELTC to complete the Career Slam set. the WTA 125 Series event in Dalian, China it was Kateryna Kozlova denying Vera Zvonareva her biggest title since 2011, defeating the 32-year old Hordette 6-4/6-2. It's the Ukrainian's biggest title.

...on the ITF circuit, still more comebacks.

Polona Hercog has already made her way back from injury this season, returning in Paris for RG qualifying after having been out since last year's U.S. Open. She then qualified for Wimbledon and reached the 3rd Round. She won her second ITF title of the summer this weekend at the $25K in Balatongolar, Hungary (she's 13-1 in ITF singles finals, 2-2 in WTA), defeating... wait for it... Greta Arn for the title. Yes, that Greta Arn. The now 38-year old Hungarian (she also played for Germany for nearly a decade) won a pair of tour singles titles in her career before retiring in 2013, only to do the "in" thing and return to the sport earlier this year. This was Arn's fifth tournament back this summer (she reached a SF in her second), and she entered the week ranked #731. She qualified at the event, and put up wins over Kristina Schmiedlova and Irina Maria Bara to reach her first singles final since winning the WTA Auckland event in 2011 (defeating Sharapova, Goerges and Wickmayer).

The only player older than Arn who currently holds a tour ranking is fellow 38-year old Patty Schnyder, though the soon-to-retire Kimiko Date, 46, does appear in the tour-level Tokyo singles draw in the upcoming week in what will be her farewell tournament.

"HEY, NOW..." ON DAY 14: Is there an echo in here?

LIKE ON DAY 14: Hana speaks!

It was thirty-two years ago that Mandlikova defeated both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova en route to the Open title, winning the final in a 3rd set tie-break.

LIKE ON DAY 14: A unexpected new tradition?

LIKE ON DAY 14: ...and a not-unexpected continuing one.

ANSWERING THE QUESTION... ON DAY 14: ...what does the world #1 do on an uneventful Sunday?


...and, finally...

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC CAN [Int'l/Carpet Indoor]
16 Singles Final: Dodin d. Davis
16 Doubles Final: Hlavackova/Hradecka d. Kudryavtseva/Panova
17 Top Seeds: Safarova/Dodin

#1 Safarova d. #3 Babos
#2 Dodin d. Krejcikova
#1 Safarova d. #2 Dodin

(WC) Andreescu/Branstine d. #1 Babos/Hlavackova

TOKYO, JAPAN [Int'l/Hard]
16 Singles Final: McHale d. Siniakova
16 Doubles Final: Aoyama/Ninomiya d. Rae/Smith
17 Top Seeds: Mladenovic/Sh.Zhang

#6 Osaka d. Krunic
#2 Sh.Zhang d. #3 Mertens
#6 Osaka d. #2 Sh.Zhang

#1 Ninomiya/Voracova d. #2 Kato/Hozumi

Sloane Stephens/USA def. #15 Madison Keys/USA 6-3/6-0

#2 Y.Chan/Hingis (TPE/SUI) def. #7 Hradecka/Siniakova (CZE/CZE) 6-3/6-2

#1 Hingis/J.Murray (SUI/GBR) def. #3 H.Chan/Venus (TPE/NZL) 6-1/4-6 [10-8]

#4 Amanda Anisimova/USA def. (WC) Coco Gauff/USA 6-0/6-2

#1 Danilovic/Kostyuk (SRB/UKR) def. Boskovic/Wang Xiyu (CRO/CHN) 6-1/7-5

#1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED 7-5/6-2

#1 Buis/de Groot (NED/NED) def. Mathewson/van Koot (USA/NED) 6-4/6-3

Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State) def. Ingrid Neel (Florida) 4-6/6-4/6-4

The stage at The West End Theater watching The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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2005 Victoria Azarenka/BLR def. Alexa Glatch/USA
2006 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2007 Kristina Kucova/SVK def. Urszula Radwanska/POL
2008 CoCo Vandeweghe/USA def. Gabriela Paz/VEN
2009 Heather Watson/GBR def. Yana Buchina/RUS
2010 Daria Gavrilova/RUS def. Yulia Putintseva/RUS
2011 Grace Min/USA def. Caroline Garcia/FRA
2012 Samantha Crawford/USA def. Anett Kontaveit/EST
2013 Ana Konjuh/CRO def. Tornado Alicia Black/USA
2014 Marie Bouzkova/CZE def. Anhelina Kalinina/UKR
2015 Dalma Galfi/HUN def. Sonya Kenin/USA
2016 Kayla Day/USA def. Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
2017 Amanda Anisimova/USA def. Coco Gauff/USA

AO: Vera Lapko, BLR
RG: Rebeka Masarova, SUI
WI: Anastasia Potapova, RUS
US: Kayla Day, USA
AO: Marta Kostyuk, UKR
RG: Whitney Osuigwe, USA
WI: Claire Liu, USA
US: Amanda Anisimova, USA

1978 Linda Siegel
1979 Alycia Moulton
1980 Susan Mascarin
1981 Zina Garrison
1982 Beth Herr
1986 Elly Hakami
1988 Carrie Cunningham
1989 Jennifer Capriati
1992 Lindsay Davenport
1994 Meilen Tu
1995 Tara Snyder
2008 CoCo Vandeweghe
2011 Grace Min
2012 Samantha Crawford
2016 Kayla Day
2017 Amanda Anisimova

[Australian Open]
1989 Kim Kessaris def. Andrea Farley
[Roland Garros]
1980 Kathy Horvath def. Kelly Henry
2017 Whitney Osuigwe def. Claire Liu
1977 Lea Antonpolis def. Mareen "Peanut" Louie
1979 Mary-Lou Piatek def. Alycia Moultron
2017 Claire Liu def. Ann Li
[U.S. Open]
1979 Alycia Moulton def. Mary-Lou Piatek
1980 Susan Mascarin def. Kathrin Keil
1981 Zina Garrison def. Kate Gompert
1982 Beth Herr def. Gretchen Rush
1986 Elly Hakami def. Shaun Stafford
1992 Lindsay Davenport def. Julie Steven
2017 Amanda Anisimova def. Coco Gauff

14...Serena Williams, USA
14...Venus Williams, USA
5...Sara Errani, ITA
5...Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
5...Lucie Safarova, CZE
5...Roberta Vinci, ITA
[Open era]
31...Martina Navratilova, TCH/USA
21...Pam Shriver, USA
18...Natasha Zvereva, USSR/BLR
17...Gigi Fernandez, USA
14...Serena Williams, USA*
14...Venus Williams, USA*
12...Jana Novotna, TCH/CZE

**TOTAL SLAM TITLES - active**
39...Serena Williams (23-14-2)
25...MARTINA HINGIS (5-13-7)*
23...Venus Williams (7-14-2)
64...Margaret Court, AUS
59...Martina Navratilova, TCH/USA
39...Billie Jean King, USA
39...Serena Williams, USA*
37...Margaret Osborne duPont, USA
35...Louise Brough, USA
35...Doris Hart, USA
31...Helen Wills Moody, USA
26...Elizabeth Ryan, USA
23...Venus Williams, USA*
23...Steffi Graf, GER

3 - Makarova/Vesnina, RUS/RUS
3 - Mattek-Sands/Safarova, USA/CZE
3 - Barty/Dellacqua, AUS/AUS
2 - Bertens/Larsson, NED/SWE
2 - Dabrowski/Xu Yifan, CAN/CHN
7 - MARTINA HINGIS, SUI (+2 Mixed)
4 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands, USA
3 - Ash Barty, AUS
3 - Casey Dellacqua, AUS
3 - Ekaterina Makarova, RUS
3 - Lucie Safarova, CZE
3 - Elena Vesnina, RUS

2013 AO - #1 Aniek Van Koot/NED def. #2 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2013 RG - Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2013 US - #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED def. #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2014 AO - #1 Sabine Ellerbrock/GER def. #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2014 RG - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2014 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 AO - Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2015 RG - #2 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2015 US - Jordanne Whiley/GBR def. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 AO - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 RG - Marjolein Buis/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2016 WI - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 PA - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED def. #4 Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 RG - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 WI - Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): #3 Garbine Muguruza/ESP
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #20 CoCo Vandeweghe/USA
TOP LATE-ROUND (SF-F): Sloane Stephens/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q2: Jamie Loeb/USA def. (PR) Vera Zvonareva/RUS 7-6(4)/5-7/6-4 (3:16; delay after fan faints as Loeb to serve out at 5-4 in 3rd)
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - (WC) Maria Sharapova/RUS def. #2 Simona Halep/ROU 6-4/4-6/6-3 (Night 1)
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - #9 Venus Williams/USA def. #13 Petra Kvitova/CZE 6-4/3-6/7-6(2)
TOP LATE-RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): SF - Sloane Stephens def. #9 Venus Williams 6-1/0-6/7-5
TOP ASHE NIGHT SESSION WOMEN'S MATCH: (WC) Maria Sharapova def. #2 Simona Halep 6-4/4-6/6-3 (Night 1)
FIRST VICTORY: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE (1st Rd. - def. Eguchi/JPN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #32 Lauren Davis/USA (1st Rd. - lost to Kenin/USA
NATION OF POOR SOULS: Germany (2-7 1st Rd.; DC Kerber out; one of two w/ a win defeated another German)
CRASH & BURN: #6 Angelique Kerber/GER (lost to Osaka/JPN; second U.S. DC to lose 1st Rd.loss, w/ '05 Kuznetsova; out of Top 10)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Sloane Stephens/USA (QF - down 3-1 in 3rd vs. Sevastova) and Madison Keys/USA (4th Rd. - down 4-2 in 3rd vs. Svitolina) = both reach first slam final
IT ("Teen Wild Card"): CoCo Gauff/USA
Ms.OPPORTUNITY: Bannerette Semifinalists (Keys,Stephens,Vandeweghe,V.Williams - first all-U.S. semifinalists at U.S. Open since 1981; at slam since '85 Wimbledon))
LAST WILD CARD STANDING: Maria Sharapova/RUS (4th Rd.)
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: Sloane Stephens (Champion)
DOUBLES STAR: Martina Hingis/SUI
BROADWAY-BOUND: Maria Sharapova/RUS & Simona Halep/ROU (Opening Night)
LADY OF THE EVENING: "The Late Show starring Madison Keys" (3rd Rd. - 1:45am finish, second-latest women's finish to own 1:48 finish last year)
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Maria Lourdes Carle/ARG & Emiliana Arango/COL (South American girls singles semifinalists)

All for now.