On the WTA tour, there are many things to be juggled... like tennis balls, avacados and water balloons.
Juggling tennis balls ??, no problem!— WTA (@WTA) March 10, 2017
But wait...there's more! ?? ?? ?? pic.twitter.com/e5EMD6onRM
Here's a quick abbreviated, mid-event Indian Wells (well, mostly "Week 10," really) check-up...
RISERS: Irina Khromacheva/RUS and Marie Bouzkova/CZE
...still fresh off her first Top 100 season in 2016, 21-year old Khromacheva won the $25K challenger in Sao Paulo, following up her semifinal win over Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor by defeating Brazilian Laura Pigossi 6-2/6-1 in the final. The Hordette is 14-4 in career ITF singles final, 11-1 since 2014, with seven consecutive successful outings.
In Orlando, Florida, Czech Bouzkova won her second '17 ITF title with a 7-5/5-7/6-0 win in the final over Mexico's Victoria Rodriguez. The 18-year old, the '14 U.S. Open girls champ, is now 10-2 in career pro singles finals, coming out on top in her last six appearances.
Match point from Marie Bouzkova's 2nd ITF title of the year, defeating Victoria Rodriguez 7-5 5-7 6-0. pic.twitter.com/QsLoOzgDRR— Graham (@juki_tennis) March 12, 2017
SURPRISES: Camilla Scalla/ITA and Dejana Radanovic/SRB
...the future doesn't look particularly great for Italian women's tennis, but 22-year old Scalla is suddenly a warming commodity on the ITF circuit. Her win in the $15K Hammamet challenger is her second title run in two weeks. Career win #3 came for the world #537 with a 1-6/6-3/6-3 victory in the final over Poland's Sandra Zaniewska.
In Heraklion, Greece, Serb Radanovic, 20, picked up her her second '17 title (2-1 in finals this season) with a 7-5/6-3 win over Giulia Gatto-Monticone (another Italian).
VETERAN: Timea Bacsinszky/SUI
...for continued excellence on the sidelines.
COMEBACK: Vera Zvonareva/RUS
...well, not really. Not yet, anyway.
FRESH FACES: Katie Swan/GBR and Viktoria Kuzmova/SVK
...in Sharm El Sheikh, Swan, who'll finally turn 18 in less than two weeks, won her second of back-to-back challenger titles, extending her win streak to ten with a victory in the $15K final over Germany's Julia Wachaczyk, 6-4/7-5. The Brit is 4-0 in career ITF singles finals.
In Mildura, Australia, Kuzmova, the '16 U.S. Open girls runner-up, won her tenth career ITF singles title. The 18-year old Slovak, in her tenth challenger final since February of last year, defeated Brit Katie Boulter 6-2/6-4 in the final.
ITF PLAYER: Denisa Allertova/CZE
...the 24-year old Czech claimed her tenth, and biggest, career title at the $60K challenger in Zhuhai. In her birthday week, she gifted herself with victories over Zarina Diyas, Dalila Jakupovic, Arantxa Rus, Marina Zanevska and Zheng Saisai in a 6-3/2-6/6-4 final.
JUNIOR STAR: Wang Xin Yu/CHN
...the 15-year old Chinese girl swept the titles at the Grade 1 junior event in Nonthaburi, Thailand, claiming her biggest career titles. The #6 seed, Wang put up wins over the #2 (Zeel Desai, QF) and #4 seeds to reach the final, then defeated #8-seeded Swiss girl Simona Waltert 5-7/6-3/6-4. She also won the doubles title with Liang En Shuo (TPE). In January, Wang lost in the semifinals of the pre-AO Traralgon event to soon-to-be-champion Iga Swiatek (7-5 3rd set), after having posted earlier victories over Bianca Andreescu and Emily Appleton. In Melbourne, she lost to eventual finalist Rebeka Masarova in the 2nd Round. The #43-ranked junior last week, Wang will rise to nearly the Top 20 in the up-to-date rankings.
DOWN: Daria Kasatkina/RUS
...the Russian seems to have hit something of a wall in her rise up the game's ladder in the opening months of 2017. Granted, the 19-year old, flirting with the Top 30 despite still seeking her elusive first appearance in a WTA singles final, hasn't been presented with much in the way of "breaks" when it's come to her early season draws. Overall, she's 6-7, with three straight losses after her loss to Kristina Pliskova in the I.W. 2nd Round (after getting a 1st Round bye as the #33 seed following Serena Williams' withdrawal). She's lost to the likes of Muguruza, Konta, Puig and Wozniacki this season, and faced nine Top 50 (eight Top 30, four Top 10) players in her thirteen matches, but also notched her first career win over a world #1 with her upset of Angelique Kerber in Week 2. Even the "low-ranked" players she's faced have "asterisks" attached to them, including #80 Bencic (Top 10 a year ago), #83 Peng (coming back from injury, and already now back into the Top 50) and #115 Natalia Vikhlyantseva (now Top 80, the fellow Hordette teen had the run of her career in Saint Petersburg). In Indian Wells, she fell love & three to #54 Pliskova, putting her on the wrong side of a bagel set for the third time this season. She'll fall out of the Top 40 after Indian Wells, and will be in danger of missing out on a seed at Roland Garros, where she reached the 3rd Round in her Paris debut a year ago. Kasatkina reached the 3rd Round at all four slams in her major tournament debuts, but following a true "year after" trend she's fallen in her opening match in her only two return visits, losing early at the U.S. and Australian Opens (she was the #23 seed at both).
[I.W. 1st-2nd Rd.]
1. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Kayla Day def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
...6-4/5-7/7-5. The 17-year old wild card (#175) notches her first career Top 30 win over a player literally more than twice her age in 35-year old Lucic. In her first tour-level three-setter, Day staged a comeback from 5-3 down in the 3rd, with the Croatian serving for the match.
CiCi Bellis is the youngest player in the WTA Top 100. Kayla Day is the youngest in the WTA Top 200. Both are 17-year-old Californians— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) March 10, 2017
2. I.W. 2nd Rd. - Elina Svitolina def. Wang Qiang
...3-6/6-3/7-6(3). A year ago in her opening Indian Wells match, Svitolina defeated Annika Beck from a set and 5-2 down, with the German serving for the win at 5-3 (Elina won a 7-0 2nd set TB and then a 6-1 3rd set to advance). This year, in a 2:38 battle, the Ukrainian extended her undefeated string to fourteen matches by erasing a 5-4 3rd set deficit vs. Wang. She broke the Chinese woman late in the set, then ultimately won the deciding TB 7-3.
Meanwhile... (the first of many?)
3. I.W. 1st Rd. - Lauren Davis def. Viktorija Golubic
...6-4/4-6/7-5. Davis, off a career-best start in '17, blew a 3-1 lead in the 3rd set vs. the Swiss woman, with Golubic taking a 5-3 advantage and serving for the match at 5-4. But Davis' sweep of the final four games secured the win.
4. I.W. 1st Rd. - Jelena Ostapenko def. Danka Kovinic
...6-4/2-6/7-6(3). Kovinic served for the match at 5-3 in the 3rd, but couldn't put it away. Then Ostapenko did that same at 6-5, hitting three DF and being forced to a TB. The Latvian took it 7-3, as Kovinic lost her sixth straight match.
5. I.W. 1st Rd. - Belinda Bencic def. Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4/6-1
I.W. 2nd Rd. - Kiki Bertens def. Belinda Bencic 6-2/6-2
...Bencic's first WTA-level success in '17 was a short-lived high. But, hey, welcome back, Kiki.
6. I.W. 1st Rd. - Andrea Petkovic def. Vania King
...6-0/2-0 ret. You hate to ever see "ret." in the scoreline for either of these two, as King injured her ankle. Petko lost in the 2nd Round to Kerber.
7. I.W. 1st Rd. - Shuko Aoyama/Yang Zhaoxuan def. Ash Barty/Casey Dellacqua
...6-2/2-6 [10-4]. Indian Wells wasn't as fun as Kuala Lumpur for the Aussies.
8. I.W. 1st Rd. - Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez def. Shelby Rogers/CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1/1-6 [10-7]
I.W. 2nd Rd. - Lucie Safarova def. CoCo Vandeweghe 4-6/6-4/6-1
...Vandeweghe's doubles loss prevented a match-up with former partner Hingis in the 2nd Round, and her singles defeat avoided her first clash with Venus since losing to her in the Australian Open semis.
Lucie has been having a fun week so far...
I USED to be good at this like 15 years ago?????? pic.twitter.com/z5MlxaDh1v— Sorana Cirstea (@sorana_cirstea) March 12, 2017
[I.W. 1st-2nd Rd.]
1. I.W. 2nd Rd. - VENUS WILLIAMS def. Jelena Jankovic
..1-6/7-6(5)/6-1. Taped up and with things looking upside-down, Venus' time in the desert looked like it'd be short. Then she charged back from 6-1/4-1 down, saving three MP, to knot her career head-to-head with JJ at 7-7.
Love this. "I didn't see no fat lady singing" ???? true fighter https://t.co/DhJLAPY9mm— Melanie South (@melaniesouth) March 12, 2017
2. I.W. 2nd Rd. - KAROLINA PLISKOVA def. Monica Puig
...1-6/6-4/6-4. Like so many others, Pliskova had a difficult time adjusting to the Indian Wells game. In the 3rd, her hard-won experience allowed her to surge past an in-form Puig, erasing a 3-0 deficit by winning five straight games, then holding at love to close out the match.
3. I.W. 2nd Rd. - KRISTYNA PLISKOVA def. Daria Kasatkina
...6-0/6-3. Pliskova has opened play in California with back-to-back love & 3 wins over Mattek-Sands and Kasatkina.
4. I.W. 1st Rd. - Lara Arruabarrena/Chen Liang def. Caroline Garcia/KAROLINA PLISKOVA
...6-4/1-6 [13-11]. With her partnership with Mladenovic now over, Garcia fell in the 1st in a 24-point TB w/ Pliskova (a WD RU w/ Goerges in '16) by her side.
5. $60K Zhuhai Final - Lesley Kerkhove/Lidziya Marozava def. LYUDMYLA KICHENOK/NADIIA KICHENOK
...6-4/6-2. A week after her quarterfinal singles run in Kuala Lumpur, Kerkhove picked up a doubles title on the challenger level, taking out the Ukrainian twins in the final.
Hey guys! I would like to officially welcome my new coach Michael @mikejoyce73 to the team Vika. I'm very excited about our partnership!— victoria azarenka (@vika7) March 12, 2017
The French Tennis Federation say no decision has yet been made on whether Maria Sharapova will be granted a wildcard for the Roland Garros.— SuperSport Blitz (@SuperSportBlitz) March 3, 2017
Let's see. Come Paris time, we'll be talking about a player no longer under suspension, so the decision is between giving a former tournament champion and world #1 who has played in three of the past five finals a wild card, or (likely) handing one out to yet another French player around between #150-200 who'll go out in the 1st Round who, honestly, would be better served to go through the qualifying rounds? Sharapova in the main draw of the first slam played in her return would be good for the tournament, the tour and the sport in general. You'd think a tennis federation that went for the money grab of starting the tournament on a Sunday simply to wring a little more revenue out of the event wouldn't really have to think too long about what to do.
Apparently, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga think she shouldn't get one.
Hmmm, for one, actually WINNING Roland Garros would make what Murray thinks about who should get a wild card into the event matter more, but he gets a "hall pass" based on pass considerations. But, really, considering his own checkered past opinions, if we cared about Tsonga's opinion regarding anything involving women's tennis, we'd ask... but, psssssst, we really don't. (And shame on the person who DID ask, really.) It's sort of like asking the President of the United States' opinion on the merits of International Women's Day.
Oh, yeah... and Murray and Tsonga lost their opening matches in Indian Wells.
And as for the people who like to say that Sharapova would be booed at every match in Paris, as if that's a deterrent to a possible wild card berth... well, considering the company she'd be keeping when it comes to players who have been booed by the French tennis fans in the past, I'd say that it'd be something of a badge of honor to join that particularly elite club.
**2017 ITF TITLES**
3 - Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, ESP
2 - MARIE BOUZKOVA, CZE
2 - Crisina Dinu, ROU
2 - Anhelina Kalinina, UKR
2 - PETRA KREJSOVA, CZE
2 - Polina Monova, RUS
2 - DEJANA RADANOVIC, SRB
2 - CAMILLA SCALA, ITA
2 - KATIE SWAN, GBR
2 - Marketa Vondrousova, CZE
2 - Isabelle Wallace, AUS
**RECENT INDIAN WELLS FINALS**
2006 Maria Sharapova d. Elena Dementieva
2007 Daniela Hantuchova d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2008 Ana Ivanovic d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
2009 Vera Zvonareva d. Ana Ivanovic
2010 Jelena Jankovic d. Caroline Wozniacki
2011 Caroline Wozniacki d. Marion Bartoli
2012 Victoria Azarenka d. Maria Sharapova
2013 Maria Sharapova d. Caroline Wozniacki
2014 Flavia Pennetta d. Aga Radwanska
2015 Simona Halep d. Jelena Jankovic
2016 Victoria Azarenka d. Serena Williams