A life lesson provided by none other than The Most Interesting Tour in the World.
*WEEK 34 CHAMPIONS*
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT USA (Hard)
S: Aga Radwanska/POL def. Elina Svitolina/UKR 6-1/7-6(1)
D: Sania Mirza/Monica Niculescu (IND/ROU) d. Kateryna Bondarenko/Chuang Chia-Jung (UKR/TPE) 7-5/6-4
WORLD TEAM TENNIS (Hard; Forest Hills, NY)
F: San Diego Aviators d. Orange County Breakers 25-14
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Aga Radwanska/POL
...no matter what the Open has in store for Radwanska, last week she managed to right her flagging summer ship just in time for another possible 4Q run to glory similar to what she pulled off last fall. Radwanska arrived in New Haven having been a disappointing 5-3 on grass, including "only" reaching the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, where she lost that 9-7 3rd set vs. Dominika Cibulkova in an "instant classic." After going 3-2 on North American hard courts, and being the international poster child for poor air travel en route to Rio (it was a 55-hour ordeal just to get there, where she lost in the 1st Round in both singles and doubles), Aga needed something to go right. Well, it did. Wins over Jelena Ostapenko and Kirsten Flipkens led to a destruction (1 & 1) of Petra Kvitova in the semis and a quick 5-0 lead on Elina Svitolina in the final. Things tightened from there, but Radwanska used all her skills to plug the leaks in a game that looked as if it was about to hit the wall, at least as far as her ability to avoid being taken down by exhaustion and mental fatigue. As it was, she never lost a set (joining Vika Azarenka as the only women to win two '16 titles in such a fashion) while grabbing career title #19 AND picking up the U.S. Open Series crown, as well, by the proverbial skin of her teeth. Consider, she tied with Johanna Konta atop the standing with 220 points. Both won Premier 700 titles this summer, and put up Premier 5 QF and 3rd Round results. But Aga won the title outright, pretty much because she defeated Konta head-to-head in Cincinnati. I don't know if head-to-head was the ACTUAL tie-breaker that won it for her (it should be, but this is a USTA made-up contest, so...), but, either way, the win prevented the Brit from garnering enough points to prevent Radwanska from being able to chase her down in New Haven. So, unlike last year, THIS Series title run is a legit one.
RISERS: Elina Svitolina/UKR, Shelby Rogers/USA and Darija Jurak/CRO
...little by little, Svitolina is becoming the player she's always looked like she could be. After upsetting Serena Williams at the Olympics, the Ukrainian was on the prowl for something more to add to her collection. She got it in New Haven, where she reached her first Premier final with wins over Daria Kasatkina, Evgeniya Rodina, Elena Vesnina and (finally, a non-Russian) Johanna Larsson. She failed to run her career WTA final mark to 5-0, though, when the same Aga Radwanska that publicly dissected Petra Kvitova in the semis came back for more in the 1st set, going up 5-0. Svitolina managed to get herself back into the match in the 2nd, though, denying the Pole's attempt to serve out the match at 5-4 and forcing a tie-break. But the tiring Radwanska found her way through to a TB win to claim the title. Still, Svitolina will jump back into the Top 20 in the final pre-U.S. Open rankings. And she even threw her hat into the Shot of the Month ring (stay for Justine Henin's post-point reaction, as it adds the final cherry to the sundae).
Meanwhile, in Forest Hills, the San Diego Aviators won the World Team Tennis title with a 25-14 victory over the Orange County Breakers. ATP doubles player Raven Klaasen took home MVP honors, but Rogers and Jurak actually accounted for more points in the final total. In maybe the key match-up of the final, vs. season Female MVP Nicole Gibbs (O.C.), Rogers won 5-2, while she and Jurak teamed for a 5-2 set WD win over Gibbs & Alla Kudryavtseva. Jurak additionally was by Klaasen's side when they won a 5-2 Mixed Doubles set over Kudryavtseva/Lipsky.
MX: Jurak/Klaasen(SD) d. Kudryavtseva/Lipsky(OC) 5-2
WS: Rogers(SD) d. Gibbs(OC) 5-2
MD: Harrison/Klaasen(SD) d. Lipsky/Novikov(OC) 5-2
WD: Jurak/Rogers(SD) d. Gibbs/Kudryavtseva(OC) 5-2
MS: Novikov(OC) d. Harrison(SD) 5-4
Extended Play: Harrison(SD) tied Novikov(OC) 1-1
SURPRISE: Johanna Larsson/SWE
...the 28-year old Swede reached her third '16 semifinal in New Haven, recovering from losing to Ana Konjuh in the final round of qualifying to notch lucky loser victories over Timea Bacsinszky, Shelby Rogers and Roberta Vinci. Her SF loss to Elina Svitolina leaves her 0-3 in such matches this year, though. Larsson is the nineteenth LL to record a MD win in 2016, but just the eighteenth player to do so. Why? Because this was actually her SECOND second-chance run on tour this season, having also just put up a 1st Round victory in Cincinnati after losing in qualifying there.
VETERANS: Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR & Chuang Chia-Jung/TPE
...the veteran doubles duo, playing together for just the third time (0-1 in Cincinnati earlier this month, and a SF late last year in Tokyo), have shared the court as opponents as far back as 2005, with Kateryna teaming up with her sister Alona. In New Haven, the 30 and 31-year old team, respectively, knocked off #4-seeded Medina-Garrigues/Parra-Santonja love & 1, Hsieh/Petkovic in an 11-9 3rd, and #1-seeds Babos/Shvedova 10-7 in another deciding tie-break. They lost in the final to Mirza/Niculescu, leaving Chuang as the runner-up in the event for a second straight year.
COMEBACK: Kirsten Flipkens/BEL
...the Waffle regained a bit of her Rio swagger in New Haven, but only after losing in the second round of the three-round New Haven qualifying tournament to 16-year old Kayla Day. Flipkens entered the MD as a lucky loser -- after the event had to go back beyond the final qualifying round to fill out the MD due to all the withdrawals -- and knocked off Belinda Bencic and Caroline Garcia to reach the QF. After getting no points for her big Olympic victory over Venus Williams, this result will at least lift the Belgian's ranking from #68 to #56.
FRESH FACE: Ana Konjuh/CRO
...the 18-year old Croat made her way through New Haven qualifying with wins over Viktorija Golubic, Nao Hibino and Johanna Larsson. Konjuh put up a 1st Round victory over Kayla Day (at 16, one of the few MD players she'll face who are younger than herself) before falling in the 2nd Round. Her four-match winning streak is her longest of the season, since a similar three-win Q-run and 1st Round upset of Kristina Mladenovic last September in Tokyo.
DOWN: Caroline Wozniacki/DEN
...at one time, the New Haven event was jokingly (but only half-so) referred to around here as the Wozniacki Open. The Dane, when she was atop the rankings, as well as when she'd already started to slip down the ladder, won the singles title four straight years (2008-11) and became something of an unofficial "mascot" of the Yale football team. But the fall has been steep since then. This year's visit ended with a 7-5/6-2 loss to Jelena Ostapenko in the 1st Round. Wozniacki will fall from #51 to #74 in the final rankings before the U.S. Open, where she actually reached the final just two years ago en route to a Top 5 return. Just days before the start of this year's Open, her recent coaching set-up with former Petra-ite David Kotyza came to an end, just as so many non-blood related coaches have fallen by the wayside over the years. The Dane is less than 250 points from falling out of the Top 100, and you've got to think that 2017 might be the make-or-break season for her career. As in, whether or not she even wants to continue it beyond that point, or maybe take a "sabbatical" to sort things out.
Hmmm, might this be a hint (intentional or not) about her future?
ITF PLAYER: Anna Kalinskaya/RUS
...another week, another Hordette named Anna wins an ITF title. This week, it's Kalinskaya. The 17-year old took home her fourth 2016 crown (in seven finals) with a 6-4/1-6/6-1 win at the $25K challenger in Kharkiv, Ukraine, over Valentini Grammatikopoulou. Kalinskaya lost, via retirement, to the Greek player in a previous challenger final in Minsk in June.
JUNIOR STAR: Claire Liu/USA
...16-year old Californian Liu, the #18-ranked junior, swept the titles at the Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships held in Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., with a 6-3/4-6/6-3 victory in the final over China's Wang Xiyu. Liu led the match 6-3/3-1, but ultimately had to come back from a break down in the 3rd set to win. She took the doubles title with fellow Bannerette Sofia Sewing.
DOUBLES: Sania Mirza/Monica Niculescu (IND/ROU)
...Martina who? For the second straight week since her parting of ways with Ms. Hingis, Mirza picked up a WTA singles title with a different partner. Last week it was Barbora Strycova in Cincinnati in their first pairing, and this week it was Monica Niculescu in just their second outing together (2010 Cincinnati). The veteran pair swept through the draw while losing just one set (vs. Klepac/Srebotnik in the SF), defeating K.Bondarenko/Chuang in the final as Mirza picked up career title #39 (and a tour-leading #7 in '16) and Niculescu grabbed her seventh (third this season). Mirza has won the New Haven title three times with three different partners, having also been in the winner's circle with Mara Santangelo (2007) and Zheng Jie (2013). Fun fact: Mirza's last singles match in New Haven was back in 2007, when she lost to the OTHER Bondarenko sister, Alona. So... sorta-revenge was a dish best served ice cold in this case, I suppose.
Interestingly, the Sania Doubles Partner Open will take place in the 1st Round at Flushing Meadows this week, as Strycova and Niculescu will face off in singles. Of course they will.
1. NH 1st Rd. - Flipkens (LL) d. Bencic
...6-1/4-6/7-5. Flipkens only made the draw because Karolina Pliskova pulled out of the event after winning in Cincinnati, then Q3 lucky loser Lesia Tsurenko headed off to New York, meaning Q2 lucky loser Flipkens slipped through the cracks. She reached the QF.
2. NH QF - Larsson (LL) d. Vinci
...7-6(9)/6-1. A year after reaching the U.S. Open final, Vinci returns to NYC having gone 8-13 in her last twenty-one matches.
3. NH SF - Svitolina d. Larsson (LL)
...6-4/6-2. Larsson fails to become the first LL to reach a final since Vandeweghe in 2012 (Stanford).
4. NH 1st Rd. - Svitolina d. Kasatkina
...6-4/5-7/6-0. Final set bagel aside, this was Kasatkina's best work since leaving Rio. Now she tries to match her 3rd Round U.S. Open run from last year as a LL, only she'll be the #23 seed this time around.
5. $10K Portschach Final - Lenka Jurikova d. Miriam Kolodziejova
...6-1/6-2. Congrats to Jurikova, who won career title #9, but it's worth noting that this was 19-year old Czech Kolodziejova's first pro singles final. She was half of a fabulous junior doubles duo with Marketa Vondrousova a short while back, winning the AO and RG girls titles last season.
HM- $10K Sharm El Sheikh Final - Tereza Mihalikova d. Ana Veselinovic 2-6/6-3/6-4
$10K Cali Final - Sofya Zhuk d. Harmony Tan 6-2/6-4
...Slovak Mihalikova, 18, was the '15 AO girls singles champ, while 16-year old Russian Zhuk won the junior Wimbledon crown in the same season. Mihalikova is 5-0 in pro singles final (3-0 in '16), while Zhuk has won two titles this season. The waves never cease to perpetually come ashore, do they?
French tennis federation suspends Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia, Benoit Paire for “damaging" its image in Rio https://t.co/6TIKgeNswe— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) August 28, 2016
I'd say something about how it's ridiculous to "suspend" (but, not really "suspend," since the Pastries will surely be allowed to play in the Fed Cup final in November) someone for either admitting (as Paire did) the no-points-Olympics were a bit of sporting robbery for all but a few, as well as for a player legitimately calling out her federation for not informing anyone about a clothing rule that nearly caused a default... but then I remembered how Kiki loved heaving around accusations and giving a childish explanation for it all about six months ago, and I lost the compassion I'd normally have in the situation.
Not so in Garcia's case, though. So much for Caroline's attempt to be more diplomatic than her partner about the whole Rio snafu, I guess.
You know, at this rate, even Amelie might not be able to hold the whole French Fed Cup ball of wax together if the FFT is going to ride a high horse and criticize players for the organization's own mistakes. It has a very USTA feel to it all... which is never a good thing.
1. NH SF - AGA RADWANSKA d. Petra Kvitova
...6-1/6-1. This match is the answer to the question of what can be both ugly and beautiful at the same time on a tennis court. As cover-your-eyes as Petra was, Aga begged to be watched without blinking. In truth, Kvitova was lucky to even get the two games. The two-time defending tournament champ had nothing left for this match, and it showed, as her 11-match New Haven winning streak came to an inglorious end. Still, she DID go 10-3 on hard courts this summer, notching wins last week over Louisa Chirico, Genie Bouchard and Ekaterina Makarova. But she's also 0-3 in WTA semifinals this year. We'll find out which means the most, as far as the Open is concerned, very soon. Perhaps as early as Monday.
2. NH Final - AGA RADWANSKA d. Svitolina
...6-1/7-6(1). And she makes it look so darn easy, too.
3. NH QF - AGA RADWANSKA d. Flipkens (LL)
...6-1/6-4. Umm, for your consideration...
Wow! This was a great rally! ??pic.twitter.com/y54EkEf1NK— Aga Radwanska (@ARadwanska) August 26, 2016
4. $10K Rotterdam - CHICHI SCHOLL d. Karen Barritza (formerly Barbat)
...7-6(4)/5-7/7-6(8). Scholl took out the Dane in a tight one, saving three MP. And, though it often happens on the challenger circuit, it's always good for a chuckle when you also realize that these two also combined to take the doubles title.
5. $25K Bukfurdo Final - Georgina Garcia Perez d. GABRIELA PANTUCKOVA 6-3/6-0
$10K Cakovec Final - MAGDALENA PANTUCKOvA d. Gabriela Horackova 6-2/7-6(4)
...it was a mixed-bag weekend for the Pantuckova family in Europe. Magdalena won in Croatia, while Gabriela lost in Hungary.
It's Monday early morning ?? pic.twitter.com/jfFnpELuyF— victoria azarenka (@vika7) August 22, 2016
Françoise Abanda is wearing what would have been Maria’s night-session dress pic.twitter.com/gM45lx9DZX— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) August 25, 2016
She looks so good! Love those shorts. ?? https://t.co/oroaC0Fhoc— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) August 25, 2016
Chuckle of the day: A group of kids almost stormed on court, wanting to „meet Maria Sharapova“.— Jimmie48 Photography (@JJlovesTennis) August 27, 2016
It was Witthöft’s practice..
**2016 TITLES WITHOUT DROPPING A SET**
Brisbane - Victoria Azarenka
Shenzhen - Aga Radwanska
Auckland - Sloane Stephens
Kaohsiung- Venus Williams
Miami - Victoria Azarenka
Rome - Serena Williams
's-Hertogenbosch - CoCo Vandeweghe
New Haven - Aga Radwanska
**2016 YOUNGEST SINGLES FINALISTS**
18 - Jelena Ostapenko (Doha-L)
18 - Belinda Bencic (St.Petersburg-L)
21 - Madison Keys (Rome-L)
21 - Madison Keys (Birmingham-W)
21 - Danka Kovinic (Istanbul-L)
21 - Madison Keys (Montreal-L)
21 - Elina Svitolina (Kuala Lumpur-W)
21 - ELINA SVITOLINA (New Haven-L)
**2016 #1 SEED WON TITLE**
Shenzhen - Aga Radwanska, POL
Taohsiung - Venus Williams, USA
Prague - Timea Bacsinszky, SUI
Rome - Serena Williams, USA
Nottingham - Karolina Pliskova, CZE
Wimbledon - Serena Williams, USA
Bucharest - Simona Halep, ROU
New Haven - Aga Radwanska, POL
**2016 DEFEATED DEFENDING CHAMP, WON TITLE**
Australian Open - Angelique Kerber, GER (F/S.Williams)
Charleston - Sloane Stephens, USA (SF/Kerber)
Prague - Lucie Safarova, CZE (SF/Ka.Pliskova)
[Strasbourg - Caroline Garcia, FRA - QF/Stosur walkover]
Roland Garros - Garbine Muguruza, ESP (F/S.Williams)
New Haven - Aga Radwanska, POL (SF/Kvitova)
**2015-16 WTA SEMIFINALS**
17...Angelique Kerber = 8/9
14...AGA RADWANSKA = 8/6
14...Serena Williams = 9/5
14...Simona Halep = 9/5
13...Karolina Pliskova = 8/5
9...ELINA SVITOLINA = 6/3
**BEST LUCKY LOSER RESULTS SINCE 2008**
2012 Stanford - Coco Vandeweghe (RU)
2008 Quebec City - Angeles Haynes (SF)
2008 Tokyo - Jarmila Gajdosova (SF)
2012 Fes - Mathilde Johansson (SF)
2012 Linz - Irina-Camelia Begu (SF)
2013 Brisbane - Lesia Tsurenko (SF)
2013 Paris - Kiki Bertens (SF)
2015 Acapulco - Sesil Karatantcheva (SF)
2015 New Haven - Lesia Tsurenko (SF)
2015 Quebec City - Naomi Broady (SF)
2016 Strasbourg - Virginie Razzano (SF)
2016 New Haven - Johanna Larsson (SF)
2016 Strasbourg - Virginie Razzano (SF)
2016 NEW HAVEN - JOHANNA LARSSON (SF)
2016 Nottingham - Tamira Paszek (QF)
2016 Florianopolis- Lyudmyla Kichenok (QF)
**2016 DOUBLES FINALS**
9...SANIA MIRZA (7-2)
9...Martina Hingis (5-4)
6...Caroline Garcia (4-2)
6...Kristina Mladenovic (4-2)
4...MONICA NICULESCU (3-1)
4...Xenia Knoll (2-2)
4...Elena Vesnina (2-2)
4...Ekaterina Makarova (2-2)
**WTA/MIXED TITLES WITH MIRZA...**
14...Martina Hingis (2015-16)
5...Cara Black (2013-14)
5...Bethanie Mattek-Sands (07,2012-13,15)
3...Liezel Huber (2004-06)
2...Mahesh Bhupathi (Mixed 2009,12)
2...Elena Vesnina (2011)
1...Chuang Chia-Jung (2009)
1...Edina Gallovits (2010)
1...Vania King (2007)
1...MONICA NICULESCU (2016)
1...Shahar Peer (2007)
1...Anastasia Rodionova (2012)
1...Mara Santangelo (2007)
1...Yaroslava Shvedova (2011)
1...Bruno Soares (Mixed 2014)
1...Barbora Strycova (2016)
1...Zheng Jie (2013)
**WTT CHAMPIONS - KING CUP**
1974 Denver Raquets
1975 Pittsburgh Triangles
1976 New York Sets
1977 New York Apples
1978 Los Angeles Strings
1979-80 PLAY SUSPENDED
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
[2016 WTT Awards]
FEMALE MVP: Nicole Gibbs, Orange County
MALE MVP: Ryan Harrison, San Diego
FEMALE ROOKIE: Michaella Krajicek, Springfield
MALE ROOKIE: Fabiano Martin, Philadelphia
COACH: John Lloyd, San Diego
FINALS MVP: Raven Klaasen, San Diego
I really shouldn't have clicked on the McChicken hashtag. pic.twitter.com/sqqkNGhrGs— FangirlPrime (@fangirl_utopia) August 28, 2016
All for now.