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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Backspin Court of Appeals: The Best Player Never to Be #1 (Part 2)

Hello, Backspin readers. Galileo here.

So, Todd and I are back again with the second edition of the Court of Appeals feature. As a reminder, in short, this ATP BACKSPINNER picks a topic and outlines a number of candidates, using carefully detailed arguments to sell them emotionally with numbers or any way I can, then Todd will give his take on my nominations. He can agree, or say everything I have suggested is rubbish and he has a much better idea of who'd be a better choice. Once he outlines his thoughts, he'll present his final rankings, then I'll do the same.

After examining the best men's player never to be #1, this time we'll look at the women.

=THE CRITERIA=
1. Must have won a slam and been to two finals
2. Must have been Top Four for at least a week
3. Open era players only
4. Five nominees for both the ATP and WTA tour
5. At least 400 career wins


123 weeks. One slam. That is the combined total for Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki. Together they have made just nine slam finals. Each player on this list has had an arguably better career than those ladies. Sometimes it is inarguable. Welcome to part two...

NOMINATION ONE: VIRGINIA WADE
These nominations are done chronologically, so up first is a British national treasure. Wade is still closer to the grand slam than Andy Murray. Both have won Wimbledon and both have a special place in the hearts of the nation. Wade still does television punditry and was brave enough to call Murray out for his personality flaws. Most famous for her 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Betty Stove in 1977, people forget she was actually really good. She beat top-seeded Chris Evert in the semi-finals of Wimbledon that year. The Queen was watching as she triumphed in the final, and the commentators call of 'she's done it' is still fairly famous, especially among that generation.


She played at Wimbledon in 1962. It was her slam debut. Her last was also at Wimbledon, in 1985. She lost to Pam Shriver in three sets in the third round. But before 1977, when she was 30 and slam-less in five years, she had been a spectacular doubles player and was 2-0 in singles slam finals. She made the U.S. Open finals in 1968 as a fresh-faced 23 year old and beat Billie Jean King 6-4, 6-2. Four years later she triumphed in her debut at Kooyong, sweeping Evonne Goolagong aside 6-4, 6-4 to win the Australian Open.

This is a woman who won 55 singles titles, though not all in the Open era, and who made nine slam semi-finals. She also won 839 matches, 510 more than she lost. She achieved her career high of number two in 1975 and she may have ascended further but for her 3-24 record against the big guns of her day. It didn't stop her being inducted into the Hall of Fame, though her 4-6 record in doubles slam finals helped. Her relative athleticism helped her to run around the backhand and hit the forehand, which was a decent weapon. Of course, it is hard to judge different styles as the game was so much more different then. It was an earlier time when she rose to the top, or nearly, but she was unfortunate enough to be sandwiched between the King/Margaret Court era and the Martina and Chris show. Lots of the players we are talking about on these two lists have both suffered terrible bits of bad luck, lacked mental fortitude or had injuries. Look at Guillermo Vilas. How much bad luck did he have? It is similar for the next lady on the list...

I'm sort of restricted to only admiring the numbers on this one, and Wade's 3-0 mark in major finals (in three different slams) is impressive. Defeating King and Goolagong in their home slams puts her squarely in the mix, as does the fact that no British woman has won Wimbledon since her '77 title run (Johanna Konta was the first to reach the semis since Wade in '78).

NOMINATION TWO: HANA MANDLIKOVA
Ah, Hana. There may not be a more star crossed player. There may not be a player more outright deserving of number one. Her 27 titles are two more than Wozniacki and her 52 finals seven more than the Dane's total in that stat. She won her first title in 1978 in Milan. Her last came in Washington in 1987, weeks after her final slam triumph. She had the kind of game that could trouble anyone. With her trademark headband atop her head, she reinvented the word 'swashbuckling'. She had this big flat forehand, which she used to create one of the earliest big returns. She could really spank the ball. But her backhand slice was one of the best in the business. She could do anything with it.

Results-wise you can compare her to Stan Wawrinka. Otherwise, her game style is akin to Svetlana Kuznetsova in that she has magic. Her game seems to crackle. Unfortunately, much like Sveta, she had trouble keeping it all together. The problem with having such a game is sometimes you just have bad losses. Despite that she managed a fantastic 565-194 win/loss record. She made the finals of the YEC in 1986, too. She had a memorable career but was denied in four slam finals. Evert denied her at the U.S. Open twice, in 1980 and '82, and Wimbledon once in '81. Martina beat her at the Championships in 1987. She managed a competitive 7-19 record against Chris Evert. But she was 8-29 against Navratilova. Her biggest triumph, however, was undoubtedly in 1985 at Flushing Meadows. She defeated Martina Navratilova in a match so famous I have heard of it. She edged her sort-of compatriot 7–6(7–3), 1–6, 7–6(7–2). After beating Evert in the semi she raced to a 5-0 lead in the final before collapsing. She had a 5-3 lead in the final set but blew that, too. This was a player who lived and died by the sword.
Washed up by 25, like the great Bjorn Borg, we were always left wondering what if?

But if you want to nominate a truly special player can you do any worse than the woman who broke Martina's 54 match win streak in an epic three setter?

Of course, Hana is my personal horse in this race, as becoming a fan in the final stage of her career sort of established many of the characteristics for the sort of player I tend to gravitate toward -- talented, sometimes misunderstood types who usually must struggle to break through a "wall," often self-imposed, to achieve their career objective. (Thus, never big fan of a dominant great like a Federer, Graf, or Nadal, but more pulled toward a Novotna, Dokic, Henin (who then became a "great"), Azarenka, Halep or, as the last few seasons have played out, Ostapenko.)

I'm surprised you didn't mention what I think is the biggest note on Mandlikova's career resume for this "competition" -- that in the Navratilova/Evert era she managed to win three-quarters of a Career Slam, and twice reached the final of the only major she failed to win (Wimbledon), falling, naturally, to Chris ("81) and Martina ('86) in those attempts. Ultimately, she won *four* slams, including being able to smash through the Navratilova/Evert wall by defeating them on back-to-back days to win the U.S. Open in 1985. She was the third woman (after you-know-who) to win slam titles on grass, clay and hard courts. As far as seasonal slam consistency goes, Mandlikova had that, as well. Over an eight-year stretch from 1980-87, she produced at least one SF-or-better result at a major in seven seasons. As the leading member of the previous Czech stretch of dominance in Fed Cup play, she was part of four Czechoslovakian FC championship squads from 1983-88.


NOMINATION THREE: GABRIELA SABATINI
The hardest thing about the list of five is how many great candidates there were. Kuznetsova and Jana Novotna do not make the cut and, honestly, that was really difficult to do. Sveta is the reason the whole list idea came about - this BACKSPINNER wondered if she was the greatest never to be number one. Deep research has proved this to be false. And Novotna's career doesn't quite match up to those who come later. It was not easy deciding. No Li Na. No Garbine Muguruza (though she's since become #1, so good for her). It was really tricky. Anyway, the next candidate was all about passion. Her one-handed backhand belongs in a museum.


She may have only won a slam but her two YEC victories, four slam finals and 55 finals are reason enough to include her. She has to be in here because she was so consistent. She made four semi-finals at all four slams. How many players have done that outside of Serena Williams, Graf, Evert and Navratilova? Maria Sharapova hasn't done that. Nor has Venus Williams. You say Justine Henin? No. Oh, I hear Martina Hingis? No. Clijsters, Goolagong, Austin, Mauresmo, Azarenka, Davenport. No, no, no, no, no and NO. The Argentine is one of just five players to achieve that feat. The catch is that she was just 3-15 in those 18 semi-finals, but consistency is the pathway to the world number one spot. In this day and age she would have been a world number one. But unfortunately for her there was a little German lady in her way. Her 11-29 mark against Graf, while not awful, is the reason why she couldn't get over the hump.

Relevant from 1985, Sabatini played her last slam match in 1996. She was just 26 years old. Like Mandlikova, she retired before her time. Her last title came in 1995 at Sydney, nine years after her first. If you choose the Argentine it will be for the weapons she had at her disposal, her sheer consistency and the fact that she was denied by Graf so many times. She really got unlucky during her career. Graf beat her at Wimbledon in 1991 6-3, 4-6, 8-6. That's the one. If she had gotten over the hump this BACKSPINNER believes she could have cracked the top ranking. Her highest ever ranking of two seems a little unfair. She did so much in her decade of relevancy. Here she is at her first ever slam semi-final, Roland Garros 1985.


I used to downgrade Sabatini for her inability to be the big rival for Graf that she'd been expected to be, but these recent Backspin editions where her history has been discussed has turned around my opinion on her career. Really, some of her numbers are eyebrow-raising. As things stand, until something changes, Sabatini is the last great South American women's player (though, it should be noted, Garbine Muguruza was born in Venezuela and easily could have assumed that position in the current game). For eleven straight seasons, Gaby had at least one slam SF-or-better result, and, though she won just one slam, *did* collect many big titles in her career, including two WTA Championships, six Tier I wins (three in the '91 season alone, when she also reached the Wimbledon final after she'd won the U.S. Open at the end of '90, and then two more in '92... which says much about how much confidence a single slam win can instill in a player who was sometimes lacking in that area). While the issue of Graf's great(er)ness will always be an albatross around Sabatini's neck, that her lone slam crown came via a win over the German in the final at least stands as one shining example in her favor in that discussion.

NOMINATION FOUR: MARY PIERCE
This is the first of two names you might not expect. But the logic for picking Pierce over, say, Conchita Martinez or Jana Novotna is that she made six grand slam finals. Unfortunately for her, she never got an easy final. Graf, and indeed Serena, got an easy slam final or two in their time. But Pierce got Sanchez Vicario twice, Henin, Clijsters, Martinez and Hingis.

She didn't get luck with slam draws or with health. Her father was an abusive man. She spent four years in the wilderness. She had so many challenges throughout her career. It ended in heartbreak, the video of that event (a knee injury) is available -- but not here -- because it is so saddening. At the very peak of her game she was better than Amelie Mauresmo, who became world number one because she timed her slams well. Pierce was maddeningly inconsistent. But she was also the most talented person of her generation.

This BACKSPINNER maintains she hit the greatest shot of all time (#4 on this list):


But she is still somewhat forgotten, and passed over. When she won her first slam, at the 1995 Australian Open, she was 20 years old. She lost just 30 games. She blitzed the field. The year before at the French Open she beat Steffi Graf 6-2, 6-2. In a slam semi-final. It was arguably the worst slam result of Graf's career She dropped ten games on the way to the final. That isn't even an average of two a match. She was utterly dominant but somehow lost the final to ASV. That was the Frenchwoman's career. Utterly dominant at her best, but unable to convert that brilliance consistently.

Pierce's six slam finals and 18-23 record in finals are evidence of how she was both very good and very bad. But where she really stands out isn't just the shotmaking of a world number one, it's the belief of a number one. The year is 2005. We're in Melbourne. She has won one title in five years. She goes out 6-2, 6-2 in the first round to a total journeywoman. At the next slam, looking finished, she comes from nowhere to make the final. She beats Vera Zvonareva in the third round and Patty Schnyder in three sets in the fourth. Two top ten players gone. She then proceeds to smack world number one Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 6-2. She routs Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-1 in the semi-final. She is up against Justine Henin, the tenth seed, in the final. The Belgian has saved match points, struggled through the whole tournament and looks shaky. The Frenchwoman responds by losing 6-1, 6-1. At the U.S. that same year it is an identical story. She does away with the 6th, 3rd and 7th seeds all for the loss of just one set. She then collapses in the final and loses to Kim Clijsters in embarrassing fashion. But she has the heart of a champion. To come back after so many years of poor results and have a year like that. It is what the best in the world do. And besides who else could be the hitter of both these shots?


Pierce was a free spirit who had fun, who loved the game. Dinara Safina was miserable towards the end, never far from tears. Pierce laughed and joked. She had a beautiful smile. The players these day cannot see anything but the game. Pierce saw life. She saw fun, and showed it to us. She was a bright light and her love of the game is something these new players need to learn. She would have made a great ambassador for the game, which is what part of being a number one is. No?

Though she surely belongs here, my one problem with considering Pierce for the spot on this list, even with her unquestioned talent, is that I'm not sure she was ever really seen as the second or third best player on tour at any given point in her career. She was essentially a feast-or-famine, "big title sniper" who was always potentially lethal, but never reliable as a late second week participant at the major level (she had sixteen Round of 16 losses, and eight in the QF). As opposed to, say, Sabatini's big slam result consistency, Pierce only produced SF-or-better results at majors in five years over a twelve-season stretch. And, true to Pierce's career pattern, all six of those results were trips to slam finals (2-4). She never saw her path in a major end in the semifinal round. Actually, she's a great deal like Galileo's fifth nomination...

NOMINATION FIVE: PETRA KVITOVA
Again we finish on a current player. You could have put Sveta in here, but that would be a BACKSPINNER'S bias. Kvitova meets all the requirements - she has 443 wins (and counting). That is only 37 less than Ana Ivanovic. We could talk about her 20-7 record in finals. Or her 6-1 record in Premier Mandatory finals. We could talk about the fact she has been to more WTA YEC's than Hana Mandlikova. But forget that. Much like Wawrinka, her value lies in what she can do. Plagued with a series of health issues she has been unable to fulfil her full potential. She has at times been in play for the top ranking but always fell short. While she has a 4-3 advantage over Vika Azarenka, her inability to beat Maria Sharapova has also affected her career. She is 4-7 against the Russian.

Petra and Venus have one of the most underrated rivalries in our sport. You can name about five classics right away. But yet you don't think of that one straight away. That's Kvitova - like Pierce, she has been sadly overlooked.


This is the woman who has devastated players with the simplest of gameplans. Two huge weapons combined. That serve and forehand combo. It is more lethal than Del Potro's. He doesn't do angles. She has made Serena look silly on a number of occasions. That forehand is the second biggest weapon on the tour today. Yes, it is. Behind Serena's serve there is nothing more deadly. And then to compliment that it seems that her touch and movement are always ten per cent better than you think they'll be. It isn't just that Kvitova is so powerful or that she seems to dish out more bagels than a New York bakery, it is the guts. It is having the balls to go for that shot that other number ones didn't have. Forget Wozniacki. We know she lacks any kind of offensive nous. But Arantxa S.V. didn't have it, either. Sometimes Evert lacked that killer instinct. I know that's blasphemy.

In 2009, Petra saw off Dinara Safina in an epic three-setter. When things got really tight, when she was down match point to the world number one, she launched an inside out backhand right into the corner. Down match point off her weaker wing. Aged 20. At the U.S. Open. Insane.

Novotna choked. She didn't have the mentality of a number one. And Sveta? Try six years in the wilderness. That lost 2005 season. Her inability to defeat Schiavone. The fact my life is shorter because she cannot kill off matches. But Kvitova? When she's on she is untouchable. If Petra was given two years of full health this BACKSPINNER believes she could take two slams. She has won five Fed Cups, without losing a final, and been to eight semi-finals. She is only 27. The statistics at slam, and title, level do not suggest she can live with Mandlikova. But she has the best weapons of the five. She has been the closest to number one. She was 115 points away at the end of 2011. She had won the most prize money, won a slam and gone 6-1 in finals. But who got it? Wozniacki. And doesn't that just make you so bitter? She will win several more slams, though this BACKSPINNER's bold previous prediction of five Wimbledons may be optimistic.

Personally, I wouldn't have included Kvitova here. Her best career slam results are so centralized -- in place and time -- that I think she needs to produce 3-4 more true slam title-contending years (i.e. SF+ results) to be considered. Both of her slam titles -- and only major finals -- were at Wimbledon, just as three of her five career SF+ results have been. In fact, she has just one SF-or-better slam result since Roland Garros '12 (SW19 win in '14). Four of her five SF+ slam results came during an eight-major stretch from 2010-12, as she's posted just one from 2013-17, which should have been the prime of her career. Kvitova's standing is bolstered, of course, by her five Fed Cup titles, but while "Good Petra" is always an in-the-shadows slam threat, "Bad Petra" has been plagued by quite a few early slam exits. Her lack of overall season consistency, which is really *the* key component in any player reaching #1 (even more so than slam titles, as the WTA computer shows) within the current formula, is why she's even eligible for this discussion. There's still time for Petra to rectify that, of course.

Still, I would have left her off the original five nominations list in favor of one my following mentions/additions. As I did with the men, I'm going to throw a few extra names into the hat. Some just for recognition, and some for inclusion in the final vote...



TODD SAYS...

Here are my potential additional nominations who didn't make the cut:

=JANA NOVOTNA=
While she maybe doesn't quite measure up to inclusion in this mix (or maybe she does), Backspin all-time fave Novotna's Hall of Fame career is worth highlighting. One of the last true serve-and-volley players, her journey to her lone slam title ('98 Wimbledon) was one of the rockiest -- and, finally, most rewarding -- in recent memory. (If Simona Halep ever wins a slam, her course would nestle in somewhere behind her, but not *that* far back.) Thing is, her path was quite close to being oh-so-different, as while she rightfully developed a "choking" reputation, she didn't "fail to show up" in her slam final appearances, unlike some of the players under consideration here. Novotna had good showings in her first three slam finals, going three sets against Hall of Famers Seles, Graf and Hingis (a combined 36 major wins). She was a set up vs. both Seles and Hingis, and led Graf 4-1 (with a GP for 5-1) in the 3rd set at Wimbledon in '93 before her infamous collapse. She was that close to piling up four slams wins, and one wonders if she'd gotten her maiden title in her first final appearance if she'd gone on to claim several more. To her everlasting credit, the Czech was never mentally defeated by her losses, and continued to come back time and time again until things finally (eventually) went her way just months before she turned 30. She had seven years with SF+ slam results in an eight-year stretch, and was a success in all areas of the sport. Her 24 singles titles were joined by 76 in doubles and four more in mixed. She's a twelve-time slam doubles champ. She did her singles high ranking (#2) one better by reaching the #1 spot in doubles, and was part of the 1988 Czech Fed Cup championship team. As Novotna aged, she got better. Prior to her '98 Wimbledon run, she claimed the '97 WTA Championships crown, and went 18-6 in her final twenty-four singles finals (after going 6-10 in the first sixteen). While her overall marks vs. the likes of Graf, Hingis and Davenport weren't good by any stretch, she was 11-10 vs. Sanchez Vicario, 5-1 vs. Pierce, 4-0 vs. Capriati, 3-1 vs. Venus Williams and 4-4 against Seles.

While we often see the iconic shot of Novotna crying on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent after losing the '93 Wimbledon final, here's a more rare shot of her triumphant return to the scene five years later...


=HELENA SUKOVA=
Sukova doesn't qualify for this list, having never won a slam singles title, but she may be the most overlooked player of her era, and I wanted to at least talk about her a little (until or if, you know, there's a Court of Appeals edition dealing with the best slam-less players ever, as she'd slot in there somewhere behind Elena Dementieva). If she had won a major, she'd have sneaky "alternate Hall of Fame" credentials, if she doesn't already. In an era filled with other Czech-born superstars, Sukova was seemingly always playing the role of second fiddle. Sukova reached four slam finals, losing out to Evert (twice), Navratilova and Graf. She posted fifteen QF+ slam results over a 21-appearance stretch from 1984-90, and sustained her relevance over a long period. Her first slam final came in 1984 in just her tenth slam MD, and her fourth and final came nine years later at the '93 U.S. Open (slam #44). She also came "this close" to winning a WTA Championships title, falling to Navratilova in three in 1985. While she usually came up just short of a career-defining slam moment, Sukova *did* end two of the most noteworthy streaks of her era. She brought to a close Navratilova's 74-match winning streak at the '84 Australian Open, ending Navratilova's hopes for a Grand Slam season (Martina had won six straight slams, and was looking for a seventh to sweep the '84 majors, as the AO then closed out the season in December). Three seasons later, Sukova ended Navratilova's 69-match grass court win streak at Eastbourne, defeating both Martina and Chris Evert to win the title. The Czech won 69 tour-level doubles titles (9 slams), five mixed crowns, and four Fed Cups. A #1-ranked player in doubles, she climbed as high as #4 in singles.

And then there's...

=CONCHITA MARTINEZ=
Martinez is an easy name to drag into this discussion, even if only to give her her due. For her overall career, she should be a Hall of Famer, but to this point the doors have yet to open to her in Newport. It's easy to get lost in what Martinez wasn't and didn't do in an era that included the likes of Graf, Seles and countrywoman Sanchez, but what she did was quite impressive. Not really known as an "all-surface player," the Spaniard nonetheless reached slam finals on three surfaces, losing in Melbourne and Paris, but taking down Martina Navratilova (in her last slam final) at Wimbledon in one of more remarkable match-long barrage of passing shots you're ever likely to see. A five-time Fed Cup champ, Martinez had nine slam SF-or-better results in one fourteen-slam stretch in the middle of what was a very long career during which she played in 56 of 57 majors from 1991 to 2005, including eighteen consecutive appearances at Roland Garros. With singles titles over a seventeen-year span (first in 1988, last in 2005), Martinez made twelve straight season-ending championship fields, picked up 33 career singles titles (16th on the all-time list, w/ all fifteen ahead of her being either enshrined Hall of Famers, or sure-to-be-one-day active players -- Serena/Venus/Sharapova, along with four more HOFers directly following her on the title list) in 55 finals, winning nine Tier I titles (def. Sabatini, Graf, Navratilova, Sanchez, Hingis and Mauresmo -- five different players who reached #1 -- in those finals), claiming Rome four times, and picking up three Olympic medals in doubles (only the Williams Sisters and ASV have won more since the sport returned to the games in '88). Climbing as high as #2, she finished in the Top 5 four consecutive years from 1993-96.

=SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA=
Galileo might not be willing to go there, so I will because I think Sveta *should* be here.


Like so many here, Kuznetsova's frustrating tendency to have her level of play ricochet from good to bad and back again has often stood in the way of her ever finding her way into the #1 ranking. The Russian, though, more than most, has literally been just a few points from another (higher) level of greatness. She's won two slams -- at the U.S. Open and Roland Garros, with seven combined QF at the other two -- and has come perilously close to getting a third which, if she never reached #1, would make her just the third woman in the Open era to win three or more slams (w/ Mandlikova and Wade) without ever topping the rankings. On four different slam occasions, Kuznetsova has come as close as a handful of points from changing history, and quite possibly creating her own path to a title that never came, holding MP or having a commanding lead only to lose and then see her opponent that day go on to win the title: 2004 RG (Myskina - 1 MP in 4th Rd.), 2005 RG (Henin - 2 MP in 4th Rd.), 2009 AO (served for match vs. Serena in QF) and 2013 RG (led Serena by a break in 3rd set in QF). In addition to her two slams wins, the Russian lost twice in major finals to Henin ('06 RG/'07 US). With a high ranking of #2, she had a starring role in three Russian Fed Cup title runs, reached a total of seven slam doubles finals (at least one at every major), winning twice. But Sveta has never done anything easily, win or lose, maybe best represented by the fact that she's been a participant in both the longest Open era women's singles match in slam history (4:44 at '11 AO vs. Schiavone) and the longest (4:00 in '16) ever in Fed Cup play, as well. Even with her difficulty in closing out some of the biggest matches of her career, Kuznetsova's combination of singles, doubles and FC success may make her a Hall of Famer one day. At least one final big run at a major could seal the deal, as her last slam semi was back in 2009, although her recent return to the Top 10 some thirteen years after her maiden slam title in '04 has already lengthened her period of top-level relevance in the sport.

We had seven men in the final voting field in the men's version of this Court of Appeals, so it seems fair that the same should be the case with the women. I'm going to pull out my executive decision powers to add both our personal favorites -- Kuznetsova and Novotna -- to the list of five that Galileo originally nominated.


GALILEO SAYS...
You and I both struggle on our Wade knowledge. She was a very effective player who won three slams. She survived, thrived at times, in a very tough era and won Wimbledon when she was a shade past her prime. She put together a noteworthy career but she feels like she belongs at number two.

I think Hana Mandlikova is the greatest tennis player nobody has heard of. Today’s fans would sadly go, "Who?" I complain about the rankings a lot but Mandlikova has more reason to be bitter. How did a four time slam winner with almost 600 wins never climb higher than three? In a strange twist, five of the seven women have been top two but the two who weren’t may be the ones who deserved to be top the most. (Ah, very good point. - tds)

You’re correct about Sabatini’s underrated mental toughness and consistency. Those are number one traits.

Pierce could almost be described as an underachiever in much the same way as Safin is. So much talent and a few good results, but hardly what we might expect.

I don’t think anybody has better weapons than Kvitova on this list, but Bad Petra is one of the worst players of all time. Her career is liberally scattered with really terrible losses. And she is a bit of a one surface wonder.

I love Jana Novotna and think she was a deserving world number two, but that mentality... is it that of a number one? (Probably not.) Kuznetsova has the same problem. Both had wonderful moments and plenty of them, but neither could beat the biggest players consistently.




1. Mandlikova
2. Sabatini
3. Wade
4. Kuznetsova
5. Pierce
6. Novotna
7. Kvitova

1. Mandlikova
2. Sabatini
3. Wade
4. Novotna
5. Kuznetsova
6. Pierce
7. Kvitova

AND THE WTA WINNER IS...

1. Mandlikova (2 pts)
2. Sabatini (4)
3. Wade (6)
4. Kuznetsova (9)
5. Novotna (10)
6. Pierce (11)
7. Kvitova (14)


Thanks all. Until next time...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wk.41- The Days are Short, but the Russians are Aplenty

The final weeks of the 2017 season have arrived.

Time for seasons to end...

I was always going to finish my season with a smile no matter what ??

A post shared by Petra Kvitova (@petra.kvitova) on


Ahojky! Letošní sezóna byla v mých ocích úspešná a mám zase spoustu zážitku a krásných vzpomínek, ale bohužel pro me koncí dríve, než bych si prála. Doufala jsem, že se ješte letos vrátím na kurty, ale stále me trápí zranené zápestí a radeji se uzdravím, abych byla 100% na tu príští! Zdraví je na prvním míste! Vše má svá pozitiva a delší dovolená mi snad dodá o to víc energie a sil na príští rok! Dekuji za vaši podporu, kterou mi dáváte! Moc si toho vážím! Hi guys! Unfortunately I had to end my season early this year because of my wrist injury. I was hoping I would be able to still play some matches but I decided I rather heal it properly to be able to start the next season 100%! I have a lot of great memories from this 2017 season! Thank you for your support this year I really appreciate it and look forward to the next one!

A post shared by Lucie Safarova (@lucie.safarova) on



Time for names and numbers to be counted...



Time for a final rush to judgment the winner's circle before the curtain comes down...




Time for 2018 plans to be set...



And 2017 finishes to be written...



And so we go...



*WEEK 41 CHAMPIONS*
TIANJIN, CHINA (Int'l/Hard)
S: Maria Sharapova/RUS def. Aryna Sabalenka/BLR 7-5/7-6(8)
D: Irina-Camelia Begu/Sara Errani (ROU/ITA) d. Dalila Jakupovic/Nina Stojanovic (SLO/SRB) 6-4/6-3
HONG KONG, CHINA (Int'l/Hard)
S: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS def. Dasha Gavrilova/AUS 5-7/6-3/7-6(3)
D: Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan (TPE/TPE) d. Lu Jiajing/Wang Qiang (CHN/CHN) 6-1/6-1
LINZ, AUSTRIA (Int'l/Hard Indoor)
S: Barbora Strycova/CZE def. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK 6-4/6-1
D: Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE) d. Natela Dzalamidze/Xenia Knoll (RUS/SUI) 3-6/6-3 [10-4]


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Maria Sharapova/RUS and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/RUS
...fourteen years ago, a 16-year old Sharapova claimed her maiden tour singles title in Tokyo, and the now 30-year old has maintained a solid foothold on and off the court in Asia ever since. Not surprisingly, since her return from suspension, the Russian has seemingly been on the receiving end of her most fervently positive fan reactions from the fans on the continent. So it goes to figure that it would be there -- in Tianjin, China to be exact -- that the Russian would pick up her first title in her "second" career (unless you'd say "third," counting her post-shoulder surgery comeback as her "second"... by the way, she claimed her first title in Asia in that one, too, by winning in Tokyo in late 2009, breaking an 18-month title-free stretch).



Sharapova's clean, no-sets-lost sweep through the draw as a wild card entrant began with a win over Irina-Camelia Begu, picked up steam with a follow-up over Magda Linette, got serious with a semifinal takedown of defending champ Peng Shuai, then finished up with a tough 7-5/7-6 win over a player eleven years her junior, Aryna Sabalenka, who was playing in her maiden final. If that didn't make Sharapova feel "old" enough, the Belarussian teenager idolized her as a kid.

?? title 11 ,3rd of 2017!!! So happy ! ?? ??????? ???? ?? ????????? , 3 ????? ? ??????!@simivey

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Career title #36 comes twenty-nine months after Sharapova last won in Rome in May '15, her longest-ever title drought since she won #1 back in 2003. She's now picked up a title in fourteen of her fifteen seasons on tour, and will jump from #86 to #57 in the new rankings

In Hong Kong, the second half of the Hordette two-fer for Week 41 came in the form of Pavlyuchenkova, who by now has perfected the art of the "underachieving-but-underrated-great-but-also-frustrating season." Rounding out a week in China that included wins over Timea Babos, Jacqueline Cako, Naomi Osaka and Wang Qiang without dropping a set to reach her 17th career final, Pavlyuchenkova set forth on Sunday to win career title #11, which would break her seventh place tie with Fed Cup mentor/enabler Anastasia Myskina on the all-time Russian WTA title list topped by Sharapova. In the end, the final was both appropriately "apocalyptic," but also not. The Pavlyuchenkova/Dasha Gavrilova tilt started late due to a typhoon off the Hong Kong coast, and there was a half-hour rain delay at 5-5 in the 3rd set after the Russian had failed to convert two MP. She was ultimately broken by the Aussie to force a deciding TB. But then, as has become the Pavlyuchenkovian way, things turned out all right, as she handled Gavrilova when it mattered most, picking up her third title of the season (her most ever), with only Elina Svitolina's five wins now standing above her on the '17 season list.



After being stuck in a season-ending rankings rut in the #20's the last four years, Pavlyuchenkova now looks set for her first Top 20 season since her only previous such campaign back in 2011, when she climbed as high as #13 before finishing at #16. She'll rise three spots to #18 on Monday.
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RISERS: Dasha Gavrilova/AUS and Wang Qiang/CHN
...as she did when she reached both the singles and doubles finals in Moscow last October, Gavrilova is closing out her season in a rush. In Hong Kong, the Aussie advanced to her fourth career final (all in the past twelve months) with wins over Miyu Kato, Shelby Rogers (helping to re-stage their historically long U.S. Open 2nd Rounder from this summer, but with a far different result), Lizette Cabrera and Jennifer Brady. She then faced off with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a late-starting, three-set, weather-interrupted final in which she broke the Russian after saving two MP down 4-5 in the 3rd, then broke her again to force a deciding TB for the title. Pavlyuchenkova won it 7-3, but the result will provide Gavrilova, with her Kremlin Cup RU points falling off in the coming week, with a little extra cushion between herself and Ash Barty (for now) -- and maybe a resurgent Sam Stosur -- when it comes to holding onto her top-ranked Aussie standing once 2018 arrives.



As the season draws closer to its end, Wang continues to impress down the stretch of her revelatory 2017 campaign. In Hong Kong, the 25-year old reached her first tour-level semifinal after notching wins over Chang Kai-chen, Luksika Kumkhum and Stosur, as well as reaching her first maiden WTA doubles final with Lu Jiajing. After reaching a pair of WTA 125 Series finals (winning one) and two other semis in recent seasons, Wang has stepped up to produce her first Top 50 campaign in '17. Since losing in three sets to Dasha Kasatkina in the 1st Round at Flushing Meadow, she's gone 8-5 in the 4Q Asian swing, posting upset wins over the likes of Wozniacki, Cirstea, Mladenovic and a post-Open title Stephens. Earlier in the season, she came mouthwateringly close to what would have been a great win -- falling to Svitolina in 3 at I.W. -- and a career-definer at Wimbledon -- a three-set loss to Venus, but even earlier in '17 put down the confidence-building foundation for her recent success with wins over the likes of Vesnina (Rome), Garcia (Madrid), Mladenovic (Dubai), Peng (Zhenghou 125 via ret. in the 3rd set), Sakkari (Prague), Vekic (Miami), Niculescu (Shenzhen) and, yes, even Ostapenko (Dubai). She'll rise to another new career high ranking of #46 on Monday.


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SURPRISES: Mihaela Buzarnescu/ROU and Jennifer Brady/USA
...after maintaining a high level of success on the ITF circuit for years -- winning 20 singles and 33 doubles titles -- despite battling through numerous injuries, 29-year old Buzarnescu has finally found her way to the WTA tour following a very good junior career more than a decade ago (she was the #4-ranked girl in '06, and had been a year-end Top 10er the previous season along with players with names such as Azarenka, Radwanska, Wozniacki and Cibulkova). After playing just twelve events in '16 and ending the season at #351, she completed her PhD in Physical Education and Sport last December. Buzarnescu has since played her '17 season like a Swarmette on a mission, piling up match wins and picking up four consecutive ITF crowns in June/July. She qualified at the U.S. Open to reach her first career slam MD (and first MD at *any* event higher than the ITF circuit). After returning to the challengers to pick up her fifth '17 ITF win, last week the Romanian qualified to reach her first career non-slam tour-level MD in Linz. After getting Q-round wins over Alexa Glatch, Kayla Day and Lesley Kerkhove, Buzarnescu proceeded to record her maiden MD WTA wins over Anett Kontaveit, Ajla Tomljanovic and Belinda Bencic (on her sixth MP, after the Swiss had saved five over the 2nd and 3rd sets after falling behind 5-2 in both) to reach the semifinals. She also reached the doubles semis with Oksana Kalashnikova, another career first. After having had just one Top 200 season (#155 in 2011) in a career that saw her play her first pro event in 2004, Buzarnescu entered this past week at #105 and will climb into the Top 100 for the first time on Monday at #89. She'll be the nineteeth Romanian to reach the Top 100, and the oldest player to ever make her debut there.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Brady also reached her first career WTA semifinal, and notched her first non-slam MD tour-level wins since her QF run in Guangzhou in September '16. The 22-year old Bannerette made her slam MD debut Melbourne in January, reaching the Round of 16, a result she matched this summer at the U.S. Open. But those six wins (and another at Wimbledon) were her only MD tour-level victories in '17 until she took out Misa Eguchi, Zhang Shuai and Nicole Gibbs this week. She lost to Dasha Gavrilova in the semis, but will jump eleven spots to a new career-high of #59 on Monday, making her ninth of ten U.S. women ranked in the Top 60.


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VETERANS: Barbora Strycova/CZE and Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
...Strycova and Rybarikova faced off for the Linz title in just the third tour-level singles final this year in which both the top two seeds advanced to the championship match. In the end, it was Strycova who celebrated with her first title in six years... and some tasty Kaiserschmarrn during her post-match press conference.



A year after her completing her career season, the 31-year old Czech is now finishing her *2017* season strong. Since reaching the U.S. Open doubles semifinals while subbing for Bethanie Mattek-Sands as Lucie Safarova's partner, Strycova has gone 11-3, this week following up her Tokyo (where she got a 1st Round victory over Rybarikova) and Beijing (def. a retiring then-#1 Muguruza) QF runs with her eighth career singles final, and first title since winning her only other tour crown in Quebec in 2011. After sweeping through Marina Erakovic to take the 2nd and 3rd sets by a 6-1/6-0 score in her last title run, Strycova had lost ten consecutive sets in five final appearances, dropping her career record to 1-6. But after gathering a head of steam with her previous results, the Czech lost just once while posting victories over Madison Brengle, Jana Fett (the sole three-setter), Tatjana Maria and Mihaela Buzarnescu before finally ending her finals slump with a straight sets win over Rybarikova. Strycova still won't climb back into the Top 20 (#23) for the first time since a brief one-week stay immediately after Roland Garros, but has likely wrapped up her second straight Top 25 season after recording the best season-ending ranking (#20) of her career a year ago.

For top-seeded Rybarikova, her runner-up result was her best since her surprise Wimbledon semifinal run this ummer. The 29-year old Slovak had gone just 8-8 since SW19, but her string of victories over Richel Hogenkamp, Carina Witthoeft, Sorana Cirstea and Viktorija Golubic ('16 RU) placed her in her first tour-level final since New Haven in 2014. She failed to pick up her first title since claiming the fourth of her career in 2013 in Washington, but she'll inch up to a new career high of #26 this week.
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COMEBACKS: Belinda Bencic/SUI and Sara Errani/ITA
...having not played since April, Bencic returned from wrist surgery a few weeks ago. The 20-year old compiled an 8-1 record in two ITF challengers, winning a $100K singles title and reaching a doubles final. Via a wild card in Linz, the Swiss participated in her first tour-level event since her return. Wins over Kirsten Flipkens (one MP saved) and Lara Arruabarrena (3 sets) got her into her first tour-level QF since her SF run on the grass in Rosmalen last summer. She battled qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu for a spot in the semis, dropping the 1st set and coming back from 5-2 down in both the 2nd and 3rd while and saving a total of five MP before the Romanian finally won on #6. But rather than be too upset with the loss, Bencic has instead decided to focus on the progress she's made from where she was six months ago. She'll jump from #228 to #190 on Monday.



After serving her short suspension for the "tortellini incident," Errani (#280) charged back into action last week in Tianjin. After making her way through qualifying, the 30-year old advanced all the way to the semifinals with victories over Kateryna Kozlova, Beatriz Haddad and Christina McHale (in a contest that saw the women combine for both a long bathroom break and MTO late in the 2nd set) before falling to teenager Aryna Sabalenka. She'll jump 100 spot to #180 in the new rankings. Meanwhile, playing with Irina-Camelia Begu, Errani took the doubles title, defeating top-seeded K.Bondarenko/Kudryavtseva to reach her 41st tour-level WD final (but only her sixth w/o Roberta Vinci), then defeating Jakupovic/Stojanovic to take the title. It's Errani's 26th (first since January '15), and Begu's sixth (second this season).

Sara Errani beat Christina McHale 5/7 7/6 6/1! #Wta #Tianjin #QuarterFinals

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FRESH FACES: Aryna Sabalenka/BLR and Zhu Lin/CHN
...Sabalenka's breakthrough campaign has been sharpening its message in recent weeks. The big-hitting 19-year old Belarussian made an early mark as a capable #2 on the upstart BLR Fed Cup team, winning two matches (and putting a scare into Kiki Bertens in a loss, quite possibly leading to a break in confidence from the Dutch woman that led to the streak-ending singles defeat that played a key role in Belarus' 1st Round upset of the Netherlands). She posted her first career MD slam win at Wimbledon and reached her first tour SF last month in Tashkent. Last week, wins over Han Xinyun, Duan Yingying, Zhu Lin and Sara Errani got her into her first tour singles final, where she faced off with childhood idol Maria Sharapova. She dropped a tight decision, playing just well enough -- but not quite good enough in the biggest moments -- to lose in frustrating fashion in straight sets, 7-5/7-6(8). After coming up just short of the Top 100 (#101) after Tashkent, Sabalenka breaks through in a big way this week, as she'll jump to #76. After going 2-2 in home FC ties vs. the Dutch and Swiss, Sabalenka should be on hand next month when Belarus (possibly with Vika Azarenka on board, which could bump Sabalenka down to a bench role if '17 FC star Aliaksandra Sasnovich holds onto her top level spot) heads back to Minsk to face off with the U.S. in an attempt to win the nation's maiden Fed Cup championship.

In Tianjin, 23-year old Zhu once again put up one of her best tour-level results in a tournament in Asia. The world #113 reached her maiden tour SF in Kuala Lumpur last season, and last week posted her third QF finish after previous results in Taipei City (February) and Nanchang (July). Of course, her HUGE win was a 1st Round upset of Petra Kvitova, which she followed up with a victory over veteran Hsieh Su-wei before losing to Sabalenka. She'll debut at her new career-high rank of #106 on Monday.


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DOWN: Anett Kontaveit/EST
...Karmic Kiki is the #1 seed this week in Moscow, so hold this space for the next edition. As for this one...

Make no mistake, Kontaveit has had a great year. 2017 has included her maiden tour title (and finals on hard, grass and clay), a career-high ranking (#27 in July), wins over Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber (the latter when the German was #1), a Wimbledon 3rd Round run and QF in Rome. But as her results have fallen off the table in the season's closing weeks, what's developed is something of a browbeating ending to the season that might leave the 21-year old Estonian with a bad taste in her mouth when it really shouldn't be the case. Kontaveit's 1st Round loss in Linz to Mihaela Buzarnescu was has fourth straight defeat, and she's gone 1-8 starting with her loss in the Gstaad final in July. Before that she'd experienced a 17-3 stretch, and 34-9 period going back a few more months. She's got to be tired, but there she is again the Luxembourg draw for the coming week.
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ITF PLAYER: Polona Hercog/SLO
...since the 26-year old from Slovenia returned to action in the Roland Garros qualifying rounds after a nine-month absence, Hercog has continued to produce the sort results that made her a Top 100 player from 2009-15. Since winning a $60K title and soon after reaching the Wimbledon 3rd Round -- her best slam result since 2010 -- as a qualifier, she's maintained her roll. This week in Italy in the $25K in Santa Margherita di Pula, Hercog picked up her fourth ITF crown since her return, and her third since the start of September. Her 6-1/6-0 win in the final over Hordette Valentyna Ivaknenko will lift the former world #35 (2011) to #120.
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JUNIOR STARS: Wang Xiyu/CHN and Whitney Osuigwe/USA
...in Tianjin, 16-year Wang made her tour-level MD debut via a wild card, and the world #933 (jr. #40) got her first career WTA victory with a 6-3/7-6(8) victory over Danka Kovinic. She lost in the 2nd Round to tournament defending champ Peng Shuai. Earlier this year, Wang reached the Roland Garros girls doubles semis, and was the GD runner-up at the U.S. Open.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, junior #2 Osuigwe added another title to a season that already includes a Roland Garros girls singles crown and Grade 1 wins at the Ascuncion (Paraguay) and Banana (Brazil) Bowls early in the year. Top-seeded Osuigwe, 15, won the Grade B1 crown at the Pan-American Closed Championships without dropping a set, defeating fellow Bannerette (jr. #44, #3 seed) Natasha Subhash, 16, 6-4/6-3 in the final. It'll be enough to return her to the #1 ranking this week after having had a brief relationship with the spot earlier this year. Osuigwe has gone 18-3 from the start of the RG junior competition until now, and is 37-6 on the year.
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DOUBLES: Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-Jan (TPE/TPE) and Kiki Bertens/Johanna Larsson (NED/SWE)
...Martina or no Martina, Chan Yung-jan (aka "Latisha") is unstoppable. After running off four straight titles, and 18 consecutive matches, with Hingis by her side, she teamed up once again with sister Hao-ching (aka "Angel") in Hong Kong. The pair then went to work defending the title they won there last year and claiming their tenth overall tour-level crown as a duo, making them just the second all-sister combo (after Venus & Serena) to win double-digit titles. It's the Taiwanese siblings' second title of the season, having also defended a title in Taipei City earlier this year. Yung-jan's 28th WTA crown ups her tour season lead for most titles to two over her "other" partner as her eleventh championship run extends her personal winning streak to 22 matches. For Hao-ching, it's career win #13.



In Linz, Bertens & Larsson also defended the doubles title they won a year ago, giving both woman (Nurnberg for Bertens, Seoul for Larsson) a second successfully defended WD crown this season. They've won eight overall as a duo, four titles in 2017 alone, and now two in consecutive outings (w/ Seoul) in Asia this fall. They reached the final without dropping a set, but had to take a 10-4 3rd set TB over Dzalamidze/Knoll in the final to claim the crown.
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Slam champion baby-steppin' (back)



When you're denied a wild card into the Kremlin Cup, but then the only person who can take away your spot in the WTA Finals field pulls out the tournament and you're safely through as the first Pastry in the season-ending championships field since 2006, anyway.



=SINGAPORE: 8 WOMEN, 8 NATIONS, 1 CHAMPION=
Garcia (France)
Halep (Romania)
Muguruza (Spain)
Ostapenko (Latvia)
Pliskova (Czech Republic)
Svitolina (Ukraine)
V.Williams (United States)
Wozniacki (Denmark)


1. Hong Kong Final - Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Dasha Gavrilova
...5-7/6-3/7-6(3).
A typhoon. A late start. Blown match points, then a half-hour rain delay. (But, amazingly, no JJ!) And, finally, a deciding tie-break that ended things after three hours. Gavrilova missed out on career title #2, as well as becoming the only active Aussie woman not named Sam to have multiple tour singles titles. Barty has one, as well. For now.
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2. Linz QF - Mihaela Buzarnescu def. Belinda Bencic
...4-6/5-7/7-6(4).
Bencic, who came back from 5-2 down in the 2nd and 3rd sets, saved three MP in the 2nd, then two more in the 3rd before finally going out.


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3. Tianjin Final - Maria Sharapova def. Aryna Sabalenka
...7-5/7-6(8).
Sharapova's first final match-up vs. a teenager since she defeated Cibulkova in Amelia Island in 2008, and just the fifth she's faced in 59 career WTA finals.
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4. Hong Kong 1st Rd. - Caroline Wozniacki def. Genie Bouchard
...6-1/6-1.
TPFKAGB is 2-10 in her last twelve, and 3-11 since defeating Cornet, Sharapova and Kerber in Madrid in May.
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5. Linz Final - Barbora Strycova def. Magdalena Rybarikova
...6-4/6-1.
The Czech avoids a loss that would have made her 1-7 in career WTA singles finals, leaving the likes of Lucie Hradecka (0-7) and Kiki Mladenovic (1-6) with the "ugliest" career marks still in circulation.
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6. $25K Sumter Final - Taylor Townsend def. Ulrikke Eikeri
...6-2/6-1.
Townsend wins ITF singles title #4, and took home doubles crown #13, as well (w/ Jessica Pegula).
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7. $15K Buenos Aires Final - Fernanda Brito def. Thaisa Grana Pedretti
...1-6/7-5/7-5.
For the second straight week, the 25-year old Chilean swept the singles and doubles title at an ITF event.


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8. Moscow Q1 - Valentini Grammatikopoulou def. Margarita Gasparyan
...4-6/7-5/7-5.
Sure, she lost after having held two MP, but the 23-year old Hordette is finally back. After more than a year away. After three knee surgeries. After fears that her promising career may be over.



Hopefully, there soon won't be a need to be melancholy about Gasparyan's winning past, which included a title in Baku in '15, a Top 50 ranking early last season, as well as a Round of 16 result in her Australian Open debut (and just third major MD ever) in 2016.


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1. Hong Kong Final - CHAN HAO-CHING/CHAN YUNG-JAN def. LU JIAJING/Wang Qiang
...6-1/6-1.
Chan Yung-Jan won ten tour doubles titles form 2009-16. She's won eleven this season.
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2. Hong Kong 2nd Rd. - NAOMI OSAKA def. VENUS WILLIAMS
...7-5/6-2.
Venus won in the 3rd Round at Wimbledon this summer in their only previous meeting.
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3. Hong Kong 2nd Rd. - Samantha Stosur def. AGA RADWANSKA
...3-6/6-4/6-0.
Aga is looking for the finish line (she was up a set and a break), while Sam found a port in the late-season comeback storm. Radwanska, who began 2017 at #3, is just 41 ranking points away from falling outside the Top 20. It's been a decade since she finished a season ranked so low.


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4. Linz 1st Rd. - NADIIA KICHENOK/ANASTASIA RODIONOVA def. LYUDMYLA KICHENOK/Natalia Vikhlyantseva
...6-2/6-1.
For the first time ever, the Kichenok twins faced off against each other in a doubles match. The Ukrainian sisters have played 22 matches together on all levels in '17, going 12-10.
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5. Moscow Q1 - ARINA RODIONOVA def. Anastasia Potapova 6-3/6-1
Moscow Q1 - Olga Savchuk def. Dayana Yastremska 3-6/6-2/6-4
...
narrowly avoiding a Kremlin Cup qualifying match-up featuring the '16 Wimbledon girls finalists and recent $80K challenger doubles title partners.
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HM- Linz 1st Rd. - Viktoriya Tomova def. NAOMI BROADY
...3-6/7-6(6)/6-4.
Broady got into the draw as a lucky loser, then lost after leading 4-0 in the 3rd. There has to be an unfair name for something like that, right?
===============================================









When the music is ??????

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*2017 WTA TITLES*
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR
3 - ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA, RUS
3 - Karolina Pliskova, CZE
2 - Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2 - Caroline Garcia, FRA
2 - Johanna Konta, GBR
2 - Kiki Bertens, NED
2 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE

*2017 WTA TITLES w/o LOSING A SET*
Sydney - Johanna Konta. GBR
Hobart - Elise Mertens, BEL
Australian Open - Serena Williams, USA
Bogota - Francesca Schiavone, ITA
[Biel - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE] - none in MD, 2 in Q
Nurnberg - Kiki Bertens, NED
Bucharest - Irina-Camelia Begu, ROU
TIANJIN - MARIA SHARAPOVA, RUS

*2017 WTA FINALS*
7 - Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (1-6)
5 - Elina Svitolina, UKR (5-0)
5 - Simona Halep, ROU (1-4)
4 - ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENOVA, RUS (3-1)
4 - Kristina Mladenovic, FRA (1-3)
[Russians]
4...ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA (3-1)
1...Daria Kasatkina (1-0)
1...Elena Vesnina (1-0)
1...Ekaterina Makarova (1-0)
1...MARIA SHARAPOVA (1-0)
1...Svetlana Kuznetsova (0-1)
1...Natalia Vikhlyantseva (0-1)
* - Vera Zvonareva (0-1 - WTA 125)
[Czechs]
3...Karolina Pliskova (3-0)
2...Katerina Siniakova (2-0)
1...Petra Kvitova (1-0)
1...BARBORA STRYCOVA (1-0)
1...Marketa Vondrousova (1-0)
1...Barbora Krejcikova (0-1)
1...Kristyna Pliskova (0-1)
1...Lucie Safarova (0-1)

*MOST WTA TITLES - RUSSIANS*
36 - MARIA SHARPOVA (2003-17)
17 - Svetlana Kuznetsova (2002-16)
16 - Elena Dementieva (2003-10)
13 - Nadia Petrova (2005-12)
12 - Vera Zvonareva (2003-11)
12 - Dinara Safina (2002-09)
11 - ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA (2010-17)
10 - Anastasia Myskina (1999-05)

*2017 WTA CHAMPS - LONGEST SINCE LAST TITLE*
9 yr, 3m+ = K.Bondarenko, UKR [6/08 Birmingham > 9/17 Tashkent]
7 yr, 1m+ = A.Sevastova, LAT [5/10 Estoril > 6/17 Mallorca]
6 yr, 1m = B.STRYCOVA, CZE [9/11 QUEBEC > 10/17 LINZ]
5 yr = T.Babos, HUN [2/12 Monterrey > 2/17 Budapest]
4 yr = Zhang Shuai, CHN [9/13 Guangzhou > 9/17 Guangzhou]

*2017 BIGGEST AGE DIFFERENCE IN FINAL*
14 years - Muguruza (23) def. V.Williams (37) - Wimbledon
11 years - SHARAPOVA (30) def. SABALENKA (19) - TIANJIN
11 years - Schiavone (36) def. Arruabarrena (25) - Biel
11 years - Pavlyuchenkova (25) def. Schiavone (36) - Rabat
10 years - Stosur (33) def. Gavrilova (23) - Strasbourg

*OLDEST 2017 CHAMPIONS*
36y,9m,3w - Francesca Schiavone, ITA (Bogota)
35y,4m - Serena Williams, USA (Australian Open)
33y,2m - Samantha Stosur, AUS (Strasbourg)
31y,6m,3w - Peng Shuai, CHN (Nanchang)
31y,6m,2w - BARBORA STRYCOVA, CZE (LINZ)
31y,1m,3w - Kateryna Bondarenko, UKR (Tashkent)
30,7m,3w - Elena Vesnina, RUS (Indian Wells)
30y,6m - MARIA SHARAPOVA, RUS (TIANJIN)

*YOUNGEST 2017 FINALISTS*
17 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE (Biel-W) - 17,9m,2w
19 - Ana Konjuh, CRO (Auckland-L) - 19,2w
19 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (Charleston-L) - 19,10m
19 - Dasha Kasatkina, RUS (Charleston-W) - 19,11m
19 - ARYNA SABALENKA, BLR (TIANJIN-L) - 19,5m,1w
20 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (Roland Garros-W) - 20,2 days
20 - Alona Ostapenko, LAT (Seoul-W) - 20,3m,2w
20 - Natalia Vikhlyantseva, RUS ('s-Hert.-L) - 20,4m
20 - Katerina Siniakova, CZE (Shenzen-W) - 20,8m
20 - Ash Barty, AUS (Kuala Lumpur-W) - 20,10m,2w
20 - Donna Vekic, CRO (Nottingham-W) - 20,51w

*2017 NATIONS w/ MULTIPLE TITLE WINNERS*
5 CZE: Kvitova,Ka.Pliskova,Siniakova,STRYCOVA,Vondrousova
5 RUS: Kasatkina,Makarova,Pavlyuchenkova,SHARAPOVA,Vesnina
4 USA: Davis,Keys,Stephens,S.Williams
3 AUS: Barty,Gavrilova,Stosur
3 UKR: K.Bondarenko,Svitolina,Tsurenko
2 BEL: Mertens,Van Uytvanck
2 CHN: Peng,Sh.Zheng
2 FRA: Garcia,Mladenovic
2 GER: Barthel,Siegemund
2 LAT: Ostapenko,Sevastova
2 ROU: Begu,Halep

*2017 FINALISTS BY NATION - w/ TITLES*
11 (8) - Czech Republic
10 (6) - Russia
8 (4) - United States
7 (7) - Ukraine
7 (3) - Australia
7 (3) - France
7 (2) - Romania
7 (1) - Denmark
6 (2) - Germany
4 (3) - Latvia

*2017 WTA DOUBLES FINALS*
12..CHAN YUNG-JAN, TPE (10-1+W)
10..Martina Hingis, SUI (8-1+W)
8...Andrea Hlavackova, CZE (4-4)
6...Timea Babos, HUN (4-2)
6...Ash Barty, AUS (3-3)
6...Casey Dellacqua, AUS (3-3)
5...KIKI BERTENS, NED (4-1)
5...JOHANNA LARSSON, SWE (4-1)
5...Ekaterina Makarova, RUS (3-2)
5...Elena Vesnina, RUS (3-2)
5...CHAN HAO-CHING, TPE (2-3)
5...Lucie Hradecka, CZE (0-5)
5...Katerina Siniakova, CZE (0-5)

*WTA DOUBLES TITLES - all-sister duos*
22 - Serena & Venus Williams
10 - CHAN HAO-CHING & YUNG-JAN
3 - Karolina & Kristyna Pliskova
3 - Alona & Kateryna Bondarenko
2 - Lyudmyla & Nadiia Kichenok
1 - Chris & Jeanne Evert
1 - Katerina Maleeva & Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere
1 - Cammy & Cynthia MacGregor
1 - Aga & Ula Radwanska
1 - Adriana & Antonella Serra-Zanetta

*MOST SEASON WTA WD TITLES - since 2002*
2017 11 - Chan Yung-Jan
2016 8 - Sania Mirza
2015 10 - Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza
2014 5 - Sara Errani, Peng Shuai, Roberta Vinci
2013 5 - Hsieh Su-Wei, Sania Mirza, Peng Shuai, Kristina Mladenovic
2012 8 - Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci
2011 6 - Kveta Peschke, Katarina Srebotnik
2010 8 - Gisela Dulko
2009 7 - Nuria Llagostera Vives, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
2008 10 - Cara Black, Liezel Huber
2007 9 - Cara Black, Liezel Huber
2006 10 - Lisa Raymond, Samantha Stosur
2005 7 - Samantha Stosur
2004 7 - Cara Black, Nadia Petrova, Meghann Shaughnessy
2003 8 - Ai Sugiyama
2002 9 - Lisa Raymond


#LifewithDasha "Hello dear friends and haters..."

Hello dear friends and haters!:) It has been very very long #photoshoot Friday. This evening #LifeWithDasha will be in front of TV ?? I just want to watch my favorite movie and recover from being model?? But what to watch? I have tones of the movies, what are living in my heart. Most of them are melodramas of course. It will be two #DashaChart of favorite movies- Russian and international. International: 1. Untouchables 2. The pursuit of Happiness 3. The notebook 4. Harry Potter (all) 5. Gone girl Russian: 1. ???????17 2. ? ??? ??????? ???????, ? ??? ??????? ???????2 3. ????, ????2 4. ???????????? ???? 5. 9 ???? Can movies change something in your life? What do you prefer in the world of cinema? #Share yours in the comments????

A post shared by Daria Kasatkina (@kasatkina) on









MOSCOW, RUSSIA [Premier/Hard Indoor]
16 Singles Final: Kuznetsova def. Gavrilova
16 Doubles Final: Hlavackova/Hradecka d. Gavrilova/Kasatkina
17 Top Seeds: Mladenovic/Vandeweghe
=============================

=SF=
Kasatkina def. #6 Gavrilova
(WC) Sharapova def. #7 Goerges
=FINAL=
(WC) Sharapova def. Kasatkina

...well, Karmic Kiki won't lose in the 1st Round this week. Sure, it's because she's got a 1st Round bye as the #1 seed, but still. Going from China to Russia, Sharapova might be a longshot to win a second straight title. But, you know, Kiki is the #1 seed, so karmic logic says I have to pick Maria.

=DOUBLES FINAL=
#1 Babos/Hlavackova def. #4 Begu/Olaru



LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG (Int'l/Hard Indoor)
16 Singles Final: Niculescu d. Kvitova
16 Doubles Final: Bertens/Larsson d. Niculescu/Tig
17 Top Seeds: Kerber/Bertens
=============================

=SF=
???
=FINAL=
???

...really, who knows? Kerber is the #1 seed... but, really? I suppose I'll take a flier on #4-seeded Cirstea (but I'll hold out hope that Jana Fett will win her final qualifying match -- she faces Vickery on Monday -- and m-a-y-b-e get that maiden title in her very last opportunity of 2017).

=DOUBLES FINAL=
#1 Bertens/Larsson def. Buzarnescu/Kalashnikova


All for now.