Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dokic out in 2nd round of Monterrey qualifying

top qualifying seed Jelena Dokic failed to make it through the second qualifying round of the Monterrey Open today. She was defeated 6-2, 6-2 by Kristina Antoniychuk. 2nd qualifying seed Shenay Perry was defeated in the first round by Marie-Eve Pelletier.

Kleybanova wins Malaysian Open

Alisa Kleybanova won the Malaysian Open today. The 4th seed, playing in her first tour final, had to withstand both a rain delay and the opposition of top seed Elena Dementieva, but she came through, 6-3, 6-2. Kleybanova had solid service stats, and also broke Dementieva four times.

Chan Yung-Jan and Zheng Jie, the 2nd seeds, won the doubles title. They defeated Anastasia and Arina Rodionova 6-7, 6-2, 10-7. The unseeded Rodionova sisters took out the top seeds, Kleybanova and Yan Zi, in the second round.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Venus defends her title in Acapulco

It wasn't exactly smooth going for Acapulco defending champion Venus Williams for much of this year's tournament. Pushed hard in the quarterfinals and the semifinals, she was pushed again--at least for a time--in the final. But Polona Hercog's serve deserted her often enough for Williams to move in and claim the title again. Her 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory gives her not only consecutive wins in Mexico, but also back-to-back consecutive wins, since she also defended her Dubai title last week.

"Never count out a Williams sister" is, as always, a good rule. Credit also, to Hercog. The world number 60 took out the 2nd seed and reached her first tour final. She and partner Barbora Zahlavova Strycova also won the doubles championship. Hercog and Zahlavova Strycova defeated clay court specialists Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 2-6, 6-1, 10-2.


Lagardere has signed Kristina Mladenovic as a client.

Venus Williams says she has learned to better manage her pain and has gotten rid of the "huge horrible strap." You can see a photographic retrospective of "Venus's Best Moments" here.

Klaudia Jans has successfully defended her master's thesis at the Academy of Physical Education and Sports of GdaƄsk, in northern Poland. Jans wrote an analysis of the Jans/Rosolska vs. Morita/Sugiyama doubles rubber in the 2009 Fed Cup competition between Poland and Japan. Jans now has a master's degree in physical education.

Serena Williams has opened a second school in Matooni, Kenya.

James LaRosa makes a case for cheering for the player, not the country.

Dementieva to meet Kleybanova in Kuala Lumpur final

Top seed Elena Dementieva, who defeated Sybille Bammer in straight sets today, has advanced to the final of the Malaysian Open. Her opponent will be 4th seed Alisa Kleybanova. Kleybanova defeated Ayumi Morita, also in straight sets, in the semifinals.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Williams and Hercog to meet in Acapulco final

Defending champion Venus Williams defeated Edina Gallovits 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 today, and will get a chance to defend her Acapulco title against first-time Polona Hercog. Hercog, seeded 8th, defeated 5th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 7-5.

In doubles, both top teams were upset in the semifinals. Sara Errani and Roberta Vince took out first seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, and will play Hercog and her partner Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, the 4th seeds. Hercog and Zahlavova defeated 2nd seeds Vladamira Uhlirova and Renata Voracova.

Dementieva to play Bammer in Malaysian Open semifinal

Paris champion Elena Dementieva, seeded first in Kuala Lumpur, will play 6th seed Sybille Bammer in the semifinals. Dementieva defeated 7th seed Magdalena Rybarikova in the quarterfinals, and Bammer defeated Chang Kai-Chen. Bammer has just returned to the tour after she sustained a shoulder injury.

The other semifinal will feature 4th seed Alisa Kleybanova and the unseeded Ayumi Morita. Kleybanova won her quarterfinal match against Anastasia Rodionova, and Morita defeated Chanelle Scheepers. Neither Kleybanova nor Morita has ever competed in a tour final.

Friday cat blogging--sister snuggle edition

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Semifinals set in Acapulco

Here is the semifinal draw for Acapulco:

Venus Williams vs. Edina Gallovits
Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Polona Hercog

Williams had to work for almost two hours and twenty minutes to obtain her 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 score against Laura Pos Tio, who is making somewhat of a statement in her return to the tour. Pous Tio, in fact, was up 5-1 in the third set. She failed to hold when she served for the match at 5-3, and was finally broken in a very long game at 5-all.

Agnes Szavay had to retire during her quarterfinal match against Hercog because of a left adductor strain.

Stosur and Bartoli enter Family Circle Cup

World number 12 Samantha Stosur and world number 14 Marion Bartoli have entered the 2010 Family Circle Cup. The tournament will be held April 10-18 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston. This will be Bartoli's fifth consecutive appearance in Charleston. Last year, she was a semifinalist.

Stosur and Bartoli join a field that includes Serena Williams, Melanie Oudin, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Vera Zvonareva, and Jelena Jankovic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Errani and Vinci upset in Acapulco

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, seeded 6th and 7th in Acapulco, were both eliminated from competition today. Edina Gallovits defeated Errani 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, and qualifier Laura Pous Tio defeated Vinci 6-3, 6-2.

Errani and Vinci are partners in doubles, and have advanced to the semifinals.

Shelby Rogers wins SMASH Junior Cup

Charleston resident Shelby Rogers has won the SMASH Junior Cup. The tournament is one of only two in the U.S. that gives top juniors a chance to compete for a wild card into a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour premiere event. Rogers defeated Emily Gelber of Scarsdale, New York, 6-1, 6-2. For her win, she has received a wild card into the Family Circle Cup qualifying rounds.

Rogers is a resident of Daniel Island, where the Family Circle Cup is played. Qualifying takes place on April 8 and 9.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Billie Jean King Cup event, which will be played on March 1. Williams, the defending champion, has withdrawn because of her leg injury. Ana Ivanovic has taken her place in the draw.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's "Looking Back at a Legend" series continues with a piece on Martina Navratilova.

And if you've ever wanted to know more about Jans and Rosolska (I know I have), here is a feature on them.

Sania Mirza reports that treatment for her wrist is going well, but we've heard that before, so it's hard to get one's hopes up about the healing of that on-going injury.

If you've been watching the Olympic Games in Vancouver, then you've witnessed absolute confirmation of why women, including sportswoman, are considered "mean" and "catty." The backbiting, the fake compliments, the hypocritical congratulatory statements, the vicious statements to the press...oh, wait...those are all men.

Update (see comments): Ana Ivanovic has hired Heinz Gunthardt, who coached Steffi Graf, to be her new coach.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Duque Marino wins her first tour title

Mariana Duque Marino, unseeded in Bogota, defeated 5th seed Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-3 today to win the title. Kerber upset top seed Gisela Dulko in the semifinals.

Dulko and her partner, Edina Gallovits, won the doubles championship, defeating Olga Savchuk and Anastasiya Yakimova 6-2, 7-6.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sharapova wins Memphis

1st seed Maria Sharapova won the Morgan Keegan Tennis Championsips in Memphis today. Sharapova defeated former Memphis champion Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1.

Those who are keeping an eye on Sharapova's serve will be pleased to know that she had service stats of 81% and 59%, she hit four aces, and she committed only one double fault.

The doubles championship was won by 3rd seeds Vania King and Michaella Krajicek, who defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy 7-5, 6-2.

Spaniards back on top in Dubai

Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, after losing in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open and losing to Australia in straight sets in Fed Cup, found their winning ways again today in Dubai. The 2nd seeds defeated Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 7-6, 6-4 in the final of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

There were nine breaks of serve in the championship match. Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez came back from being 2-5 down in the first set, and were in danger of going down 3-5 in the second.

Venus defends Dubai title

When Venus Williams is on her game, she is very, very hard to beat. She was on it today in Dubai, and defeated spirited challenger Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 to win her second Dubai title in as many years.

Williams' serve was working well for her, she hit seven aces, and her backhand was as good as ever. Throughout the match, Azarenka had to work harder. She served better in the second set, which definitely helped her. And though she lost the final, Azarenka treated every point as a new opportunity, something she has not been able to do in the past. Gone (at least for now) are the meltdowns and negative attitudes that plagued her in the past. If she can keep up this mentality, she really has nowhere to go but up.

In the meantime, Venus Williams now has 42 singles titles to her credit, and--if she keeps playing like she did today--she will increase that number.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sharapova to play Arvidsson in Memphis final

There were seventeen breaks of serve in the Memphis semifinal played by qualifier Sofia Arvidsson and Anne Keothavong, and after almost two hours and twenty minutes, Arvidsson won the right to go to the final. She defeated Keothavong 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Arvidsson's opponent will be top seed Maria Sharapova, who defeated 5th seed Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3 (there were eight breaks of serve in that one).

Errani upset in Bogota quarterfinals

3rd seed Sara Errani made a quarterfinal exit in Bogota today. She was defeated 7-5, 6-2 by Arantxa Parra Santonja. Also upset was 7th seed Klara Zakapalova, who was beaten 6-0, 7-6 by Mariana Duque Marino.

Top seed Gisela Dulko advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Sandra Zahlavova, and Angelique Kerber defeated Pauline Parmentier 6-1, 6-4.

Black & Huber upset in Dubai semifinals

The team of Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik may be unseeded in Dubai, but both are accomplished doubles players who, today, took out the number 1 seeds in the semifinals. Peschke and Srebotnik defeated Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4, 2-6, 11-9 and advanced to the final. Their opponent will be number 2 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Commentary on commentary

I generally enjoy the commentators on Tennis TV much more than any other commentators. This week in Dubai, the commentary has been enjoyable, but I do have to wonder where Annabel Croft got the idea that Victoria Azarenka has a history of mental toughness on the court. I don't say this to pick on Croft; hers is only the latest in a constant string of comments made by commentators (but usually not on Tennis TV) who must be watching a different tour than I watch.

And why one of Tennis TV's people chose to do a running commentary on how much liquid Snezana Jankovic was consuming and when her allegedly consequential trips to the restroom took place remains a mystery. Not only was it irrelevant--it was tasteless.

Switching over to Tennis Channel for a moment: Tennis caps off to Katrina Adams for calling expert movement a "weapon."

Williams and Azarena to meet in Dubai final

Shahar Peer's wonderful Dubai run came to an end today when she could not stop defending champion Venus Williams from going to her second straight Dubai final. Williams defeated Peer 6-1, 6-4.

Williams' opponent in the final will be Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-4 in a match that contained some stunning rallies and was quite entertaining. Radwanska has it all--except for a good serve (haven't we heard that before?)--and until she improves that, she is likely to stay out of the elite circle of tennis. That would be a pity because the rest of her game is superior, and a pleasure to watch.

Azarenka continues to come to the net more, and said in her post-match interview that she has recently been inspired by the great Stefan Edberg.

Friday cat blogging--post-Mardi Gras edition

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Shahar Peer reports that she is satisfied with the security she has in Dubai, and is, in fact, enjoying some of the benefits.

Lindsey Vonn plays a lot of tennis to help with her hand-eye coordination and her movement. She says her backhand is good, but her forehand and volleys need work.

Dubai will never be the same.

If you live in Palm Beach, your feet may never be the same.

As of Monday, Agnieszka Radwanska will reach a career-high ranking of number 8 in the world. In honor of that achievement, here is my favorite off-court video of 2009:

Oudin upset in Memphis

Former Memphis champion Sofia Arvidsson, who tends to know her way around an indoor court, upset 2nd seed Melanie Oudin today at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships. Arvidsson won 6-1, 6-3, and advances to the Memphis semifinals.

5th seed Petra Kvitova defeated 3rd seed Kaia Kanepi 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the quarterfinals, and Anne Keothavong defeaed Karolina Sprem 6-4, 6-3. In the last match of the day, 1st seed Maria Sharapova defeated 8th seed Elena Baltacha 6-2, 7-5.

In the semifinals, Sharapova will play Kvitova, and Keothavong will compete against Arvidsson.

Doubles semifinals set in Dubai

Top seed Cara Black and Liezel Huber are into the Dubai semifinals, and will play Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. The other semifinal will be played between 4th seeds Nadia Petrova and Sam Stosur, and 2nd seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Azarenka makes it look easy in Dubai

Vera Zvonareva, who played quite well in Dubai today in her first set against 8th seed Victoria Azarenka, received almost nothing in return for her effort. No matter what she did, Azarenka went her one better. Even when Zvonareva tried to crack her racquet on the court, she was unsuccessful, and had to crack it a second time to get it to break. She told her coach, "I see empty spaces all over the court, and I hit the ball to them, and she gets all the balls. I feel like my feet are stuck."

Azarenka, who was playing almost error-free tennis, did have a bit of a let-down in the second set, which, for a while, didn't seem to matter, because it looked as though Zvonareva were going to self-destruct. But Zvonareva pulled herself together and made the set more competitive. The 4th seed just wasn't good enough, however, to get past Azarenka, who won the quarterfinal match 6-1, 6-3.

I was able to see the last half of the third set between Agnieszka Radwanska and Regina Kulikova, and I wish I had seen the whole thing. Radwanska, seeded 7th, apparently had all she could handle in Kulikova, the Russian player who defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round. I was impressed with what little I saw of Kulikova, and I was really impressed with Radwanska, who--at least in the part of the match I saw--was serving better than usual. Kulikova grew tired in the third set, and--after being broken--had a couple of chances to break back, but could not do so. When she threw a backhand volley into the net at 3-5, it seemed obvious that her chances were gone. Radwanska won, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Li Na had to retire in the second set in her quarterfinal match against Shahar Peer. Li sustained a back injury, and all we can do is hold our collective breath and hope this isn't another of those injuries that keeps Li off the tour for months. She really is cursed with some of the worst luck of any player.

Finally, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova just wasn't ready to play her best game today. She made too many errors and was a bit sluggish, allowing Venus Williams to take control of rallies and to take control of the match, 6-3, 6-4. It took Williams seven match points to get the job done, though, partly because Pavlyuchenkova fought back so hard, but also because the 3rd seed was having so much trouble with her ball toss. Throughout the match, Williams had to re-toss the ball before serving. Pavlyuchenkova and Williams, by the way, are now 2-2 in head-to-head competition.

In the semifinals, Peer will play Williams, and Azarenka will play Radwanska.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The subject of Flavia

If you are a fan of Flavia Pennetta (and surely you are), you'll enjoy reading Steve Tignor's delightful tribute to one of the tour's most watchable players.

Pennetta, by the way, may not be able to play in one of her favorite tournaments, the Abierto Mexicana TELCEL, which begins on Monday. She sustained a left hip strain during the third round in Dubai, but finished her match.

Two top seeds out of Dubai in the 3rd round

Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 1 and 2 at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, both went out today in the third round of play. A resurgent Shahar Peer defeated Wozniacki, 6-2, 7-5, and Kuznetsova was upset by countrywoman Regina Kulikova, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4. Kulikova, ranked number 99 in the world, stuck it out with the world number 4 for over three hours and sixteen minutes.

An injured Flavia Pennetta lost to Agnieszka Radwanska, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets, and 6th seed Jelena Jankovic was upset, 6-3, 6-2, by 12th seed Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva did everything right, including putting on the kind of down-the-line exhibition we used to see from Jankovic. She was dominant throughout most of the match.

What has happened to JJ? Losing a first set never used to mean that much with her, but she has lost her edge, and is making errors she never used to make. She has returned to the Bollettieri Academy, where I hope they can put her back together. I miss the Jankovic who could turn so many defensive shots into offensive points, and who stretched and slid her way to so many victories.

Here is the quarterfinal draw:

Shahar Peer vs. Li Na
Venus Williams vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Vera Zvonareva vs. Victoria Azarenka
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Regina Kulikova

Birmingham to host Fed Cup semifinal

After Birmingham's successful hosting of last year's Davis Cup competition between the USA and Switzerland, the city put the word out that it would like to host Fed Cup, too. That wish is now a reality. The USA will compete against Russia at the Birmingham-Jefferson Complex Arena April 24 and 25.

Birmingham is a lovely city, rich in culture, and the BJCC is a great facility. This should be an exciting semifinal.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suarez Navarro upset by qualifier in Bogota

Kristina Antoniychuk of Ukraine, a qualifier at the Copa BBVA Colsanitas in Bogota, upset 2nd seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-4 today in the first round. She will play Mariana Marino Duque in the second round.

Top seed Gisela Dulko advanced to the second round with a straight sets win over Mathilde Johansson. Dulko was the finalist last year.

Plenty of injuries in Dubai

Elena Dementieva, who just won the Paris indoor championship, had to retire today in Dubai because of a right shoulder injury. Daniela Hantuchova was the beneficiary of the retirement. Anabel Medina Garrigues, playing Svetlana Kuznetsova, retired with a lower back injury, and Kateryna Bondarenko, who opponent was Victoria Azarenka, retired with a left knee sprain. All three retirements took place during second round matches.

There were some tight matches today, but the only upset in singles was of 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, who lost to Olga Govortsova. In doubles, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik upset 3rd seeds Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs, 6-1, 4-6, 10-7.

Monday, February 15, 2010


What is going on with the online scoreboards? They get stuck constantly, and re-loading them does not help, unless you wait a long time.

Anne Keothavong, who just recently returned to the tour, made a good start in Memphis today by upsetting 6th seed Kristina Barrois.

Serena Williams has been nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award, and Kim Clijsters has been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year award.

"It hurts when I stretch out for a forehand. It hurts when I try to hit a hard backhand crosscourt," Sania Mirza says about her wrist. Mirza had wrist surgery in 2008, but continues to have problems.

Cara Black says she is feeling much better and will be participating in doubles in Dubai.

First round upsets in Dubai

First round play continued today in Dubai, and there were some significant upsets. Tathiana Garbin defeated 9th seed Samantha Stosur 3-6, 6-2, 7-6, and Shahar Peer defeated 13th seed Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. This is the second week in a row that Wickmayer has gone out in the first round; last week, she lost to Petra Martic in the first round of the Open GDF SUEZ .

Also going out in the first round was 15th seed Nadia Petrova, who was defeated 7-6, 7-6 by Stephanie Voegele.

And of note: Andrea Petkovic defeated Alona Bondarenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Zheng, Kirilenko and Kleybanova out in first round in Dubai

Qualifiers took out 16th seed Zheng Jie, wild card Maria Kirilenko and Alisa Kleybanova in the first round of play in Dubai today. Alicia Molik, working on a comeback, defeated Zheng 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Regina Kulikova defeated Kirilenko 6-3, 6-0, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld won her match against Kleybanova, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Other qualifiers advancing were Kirsten Flipkens and Anastasija Sevastova. Also winning their first round matches were 11th seed Marion Bartoli, Sabine Lisicki, 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Kateryna Bondarenko. Pavlyuchenkova defeated Katarina Srebotnik, who is making her post-injury return to the tour.

Quote of the day

"I'd rather see her watching from the stands than see her on the other side of the net."
Elena Dementieva, referring to Amelie Mauresmo

Dementieva wins in Paris

Elena Dementieva won the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris today, defeating Lucie Safarova 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, and hitting nine aces in the process.

Safarova got off to a roaring start, going up 3-0 in the first set. Dementieva soon caught up, but Safarova continued to use her powerful forehand and precision service game to fend off the top seed's efforts. The set went to a tiebreak, with Safarova getting the first mini-break at 6-4. Dementieva saved a set point, but Safarova was then able to win the set on her own serve.

The second set was a different story. Safarova's level of play went down considerably, and Dementieva launched an attack that left the Czech player with only one game to her credit.

Serving at 2-all in the third set, Safarova had a tense moment when she went from 40-0 to deuce, and even saw a break point against her. Again, she used her service game to squeak out of trouble and advance to 3-2, However, serving at 3-all, Safarova was broken. From then on, Dementieva dictated play, though Safarova saved two championship points on her own serve at 3-5. Dementieva, who was the finalist in 2009, didn't have an easy time of it, closing the match against a determined Safarova, but on her 4th championship point, she did the job.

Dementieva's newly designed trophy was presented to her by 2009 champion Amelie Mauresmo, who defeated her last year in the Open GDF SUEZ final. This is Dementieva's 16th career title.

The doubles final was not played. Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won the championship via a walkover from top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber. Black had a viral illness and could not play.

Zvonareva wins Pattaya Open

Top seed Vera Zvonareva won the Pattaya Open today, defeating Tammy Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-4 in the final, and defending her title from 2009.

Tanasugarn and her partner, Marina Erakovic, won the doubles title. In today's final, they defeated Anna Chakavetadze and Ksenia Pervak, 7-5, 6-1.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dementieva and Safarova return to Paris final

Two high-quality semifinal matches in Paris produced two Open GDF SUEZ finalists today. 2007 finalist Lucie Safarova defeated 2nd seed Flavia Pennetta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and top seed Elena Dementieva defeated Melanie Oudin 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Dementieva said the match was "probably the most difficult win of the year for me."

Oudin was unable to close the first set at 5-3 on her own serve, but broke Dementieva at 15 in the Russian's next service game. Oudin was using her backhand more effectively than usual, and was able to frustrate the first seed at almost every turn. In the second set, Dmentieva put more pressure on Oudin, and was rewarded with a 6-4 win. The last set saw an exchange of breaks until Dementieva was able to hold for 4-2. At that point, Oudin, producing a significant mis-hit, missed an opportunity to get a break point. It turned out to be her last such opportunity, and Dementieva took the set 6-3, winning on her second match point.

Dementieva was the finalist last year, losing to Amelie Mauresmo. In 2007, Safarova lost to Nadia Petrova in the final.

Safarova is now 2-0 against Pennetta.

Top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber will play 2nd seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the doubles final.

Zvonareva and Tanasugarn to meet in Pattaya City final

It should come as no surprise that the last two women in the Pattaya Open draw are top seed Vera Zvonareva and home favorite Tammy Tanasugarn. Zvonareva overcame 4th seed Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in today's semifinals, and Tanasugarn easily defeated Sesil Karatantcheva, 6-2, 6-0.

In doubles, Tanasugarn and partner Marina Erakovic reached the final by defeating top seeds Anastasia and Arina Rodionova. Their opponents will be Anna Chakvetadze and Ksenia Pervak. Chakvetadze and Pervak defeated 2nd seeds Jill Craybas and Julia Goerges.

Friday, February 12, 2010

4 left standing in Paris

Move, over Dinara--there's another Thrill Ride in town. Ever since the U.S. Open, Melanie Oudin has performed in Safina-like fashion, coming back from being down a set and a break. She did it again today in Paris, against Agnes Szavay. Szavay took the first set 6-2 and went up 3-1 in the second. At that point, two things happened: Szavay's confidence started to collapse, and Oudin--sensing what was going on--moved in for the victory. Oudin won the second set 6-4, then went up 5-0 in the third before Szavay held. Szavay then broke Oudin when she served for the match, but Oudin broke her back to win.

A more interesting quarterfinal match was the one between top seed Elena Dementieva and Andrea Petkovic. Petkovic, who took out 5th seed Aravane Rezai yesterday, played such stunning tennis in the first set that it seemed inevitable that she would go down a level in the second. She did, but not by a whole lot. Experience took the day, however, and Dementieva was able to take the match with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 score.

Petkovic, like countrywoman Sabine Lisicki, descends--so to speak--from the likes of Fraulein Forehand, and the young German's forehand was on fire today. In women's pro tennis, we have become accustomed to seeing strong backhands, but perhaps this trend is changing. Ana Ivanovic, of course, has a splendid forehand, and so do Lisicki, Petkovic and Melanie Oudin. Petkovic's lively net play was also exciting to watch. One hopes that, with experience, she will be able to show off her considerable game to more and more fans.

The other two quarterfinal matches were brief affairs. 2nd seed (and wild card) Flavia Pennetta defeated Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-3, and Lucie Safarova upset 6th seed Shahar Peer, 6-3, 6-0.

In the semifinals, Dementieva will play Oudin, and Pennetta will play Safarova.

Tanasugarn advances to Pattaya City semifinals

Tammy Tanasugarn defeated Anna Chakvetadze 6-1, 6-4 in Pattaya City today, and will play 4th seed Sesil Karatantcheva in the semifinals. Karatantcheva defeated Elena Bychkova in the quarterfinals. Tanasugarn and her partner, Marina Erakovic, have already made it to the doubles final.

The other semifinal will feature top seed Vera Zvonareva and 4th seed Yaroslava Shvedova. In the quarterfinals, Zvonareva defeated 5th seed Sybille Bammer, and Shvedova defeated Tatijana Malek.

Friday cat blogging--amaryllis edition

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Schiavone and Rezai knocked out of Paris competition

Both 4th seed Francesca Schiavone and 5th seed Aravane Rezai were upset in the second round of the Open GDF SUEZ today in Paris. Lucie Safarova defeated Schiavone 7-5, 6-2, and Andrea Petkovic defeated Rezai 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Petkovic also hit eight aces in the process.

Petra Martic's glory was short-lived, as she lost in straight sets to Agnes Szavay. And Patty Schnyder appeared to have misplaced her serve (as she sometimes does) in her match against Melanie Oudin. Oudin, who had to take a medical break for her knee, easily won, 6-1, 6-3.

Here is the quarterfinal draw:

Elena Dementieva vs. Andrea Petkovic
Agnes Szavay vs. Melanie Oudin
Shahar Peer vs. Lucie Safarova
Tathiana Garbin vs. Flavia Pennetta

Dementieva, Pennetta and Peer are the only seeded players in the quarterfinals.

Mauresmo honored in Paris

Retired player Amelie Mauresmo was honored yesterday during the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris. French players, including Tatiana Golovin and Nathalie Dechy, were on hand to celebrate Mauresmo's career, and they were joined by Elena Dementieva, Patty Schnyder, Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, and Alisa Kleybanova.

Dementieva made some very nice remarks, as did Schiavone, who told Amelie, "You were my idol." Mauresmo was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and special T-shirts were distributed.

A tearful Mauresmo responded: "I'm going to miss you all. I have one thing to say, thank you! It may be simple, and it may be brief, but all the greatest moments in my career have happened here."

Here is a video from the ceremony.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Emma Watson, who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter film series, has created a line of tennis clothes for both women and men. Watson created the line for People Tree, a UK organic clothing company that stands for fair trade.

And speaking of clothing, the umpires, linespeople and ballkids in Charleston will not have on their usual Lacoste attire this year. Vapor Attire has been named the official outfitter of the Family Circle Cup. Vapor, a Charleston company committed to sustainability, manufacturers eco-friendly customized clothing.

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website is publishing a series on players and their coaches. The series begins with a piece on Anna-Lena Groenefeld and her coach, Dirk Dier.

The USTA is currently accepting bids from USA venues to host the USA's Fed Cup semifinal against Russia. According to this USTA article, holding the tie in Florida would make it more likely that Venus and Serena Williams would play. Okay, here's an idea: Hold the event in the Williams sisters' back yard. They could surf the Internet, do some rehab, and talk with the Dolphins management during the changeovers. News flash: Venus and Serena aren't into Fed Cup anymore, and that's okay. We have a Fed Cup team, thank you very much. I know that the city of Birmingham, which did such a great job with Davis Cup last year, is interested in hosting Fed Cup, and it would be a shame for a Florida facility to get the edge just because of ongoing desperation for the Williams sisters to play.

Sorana Cirstea reports that she is finally free from foot pain.

The Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati is undergoing an extensive renovation, which is scheduled to be completed for the 2010 Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open. The entire tournament grounds will be redone in time for the 2011 event. (And why does Blogger still not permit one to use an ampersand in the tags?)

Fed Cup World Group playoff draw

Here is the draw for the Fed Cup World Group playoffs:

Belgium vs. Estonia
Ukraine vs. Australia
Germany vs. France
Serbia vs. Slovak Republic

Spain vs. Poland
China vs. Sweden
Argentina vs. Canada
Japan vs. Slovenia

Appeals in Wickmayer case to be heard in 2011

The Flemish anti-doping agency's appeal of the lifting of Yanina Wickmayer's two-year ban from professional tennis will be heard in April of 2011. At that time, the agency--which wanted a one-year ban--will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the body which lifted the ban so that Wickmayer could play on the tour.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, which called for the two-year ban, is also appealing the lifting of the suspension. Both bodies will make their arguments to the CAS, and then a decision will be made regarding Wickmayer's future.

Wrong "double standard"

James LaRosa, coming to Ana Ivanovic's defense (though I don't think she'll need one) regarding her Sports Illustrated photoshoot, doesn't really get it. First, he wants to know why people are attacking these "young girls," all of whom are women, not girls. But more to the point, he brings up Fernando Verdasco's Calvin Klein ad and suggests there is a double standard. Well, there is, but not the way LaRosa thinks. The double standard is that no matter how many times a male pro appears in his Calvins, he is always considered an athlete first. But when a woman does a similar photoshoot, she is considered a hot chick (or, just as frequently, a slut or a whore) first, and an athlete second, if at all. That's the double standard.

Does this mean that female pros should never do photoshoots? No--it means that they should do them with their eyes open to the consequences, and to what the results mean for women and girls. And there is also a world of difference between seeing a female pro in a fashionable outfit or seeing a beautifully shot Serena Williams on the cover of a magazine about athletes in the nude--and seeing a female pro in obviously sexual (and not in the "artistic" sense) poses. There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual poses, of course, but when famous women agree to do them--especially in mainstream contexts--the results, because of our very sexist culture, are disturbing.

Lisicki enters Family Circle Cup

2009 Family Circle Cup champion Sabine Lisicki has entered the 2010 tournament, which will take place April 10-18 in Charleston. Lisicki, who was seeded 16th at the 2009 tournament, is the lowest seed to ever win in Charleston, though unseeded players have won twice. Lisicki was also the lowest-ranked (63) player to ever win the tournament.The 20-year-old German won the tournament without dropping a set; it was her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title.

Last year, Lisicki was also a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and she went to the finals in Luxembourg. She is currently ranked number 25 in the world.

Tanasugarn upsets Lisicki in Pattaya City

You can never count Tammy Tanasugarn out, especially if she's playing on grass or in front of her countrywomen and -men. Today, in the second round, she knocked 2nd seed Sabine Lisicki out of the Pattaya Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win. The other second round upset was that of Julia Goerges, who was defeated by Sesil Karatantcheva.

In first round play, Tatijana Malek took out 6th seed Sania Mirza, and 7th seed Kimiko Date Krumm retired against Anastasia Rodionova. Date Krumm sustained a left ankle injury.

Wickmayer out in Paris 1st round

3rd seed Yanina Wickmayer made an early exit in Paris today when she was defeated 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Open GDF SUEZ by Petra Martic. Wickmayer, it should be noted, did hit twelve aces, but that wasn't enough to stop Martic.

In second round play, 8th seed Elena Vesnina was upset by Tathiana Garbin, and top seeds Elena Dementieva and Flavia Pennetta advanced, with wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova, respectively.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

See how she runs

Amelie Mauresmo is going to run in the New York marathon. She has engaged her former fitness trainer to help her train. This is the woman, you'll recall, who trained during the off-season by climbing mountains.

Mauresmo says that, in the future, she would like to host a television interview show and be a tennis tournament director.

Oudin and Schnyder make good starts in Paris

Playing in her first match since she returned from surgery, Patty Schnyder upset 7th seed Virginie Razzano 6-3, 7-6 in Paris today. Schnyder hit 24 forehand winners in what was described by fans as a exceptional performance in a high-quality match.

Also doing well was Melanie Oudin, who defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-0.

Andrea Petkovic, who didn't have such a good week in Fed Cup play, defeated Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 6-2. Srebotnik, who was out for a very long time--first with an achilles injury and then with a shoulder injury--has a protected ranking at the moment, and she will be able to use it at the French Open. She also has a new coach, Jens Gerlach, former coach of Anastasia Myskina. The former world number 20 says that she is pain-free and in very good physical shape.

Serena Williams withdraws from Dubai

It is no surprise that Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships; she has been having difficulty with her leg.

Dinara Safina, struggling with a back injury, has also withdrawn, and it appears that Ana Ivanovic, who complained of shoulder pain during Fed Cup play, has withdrawn, too.

Caroline Wozniacki will be the number 1 seed in Dubai.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Jelena Jankovic is reported to have parted ways with coach Ricardo Sanchez. She apparently intends to play without a coach, at least for now. Of course, we've heard, "I'm firing Sanchez" before....

Alize Cornet said she was "petrified by the stress" of playing in Fed Cup. The Frenchwoman, who has never won a Fed Cup match, also said "The more I play, the more I lose."

Note to Agence France-Presse: Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are not "Williams sisters stand-ins." For future reference, we call them "USA Fed Cup team members."

Ana Ivanovic, serving in her capacity as a UNICEF National Ambassador, did more than speech-making when she visited the Municipality of New Belgrade Ceremony Hall to induct fifteen additional schools into the School Without Violence program. Ivanovic observed a role-play exercise among students, guided the students in understanding why they behaved as they did in the exercise, and then took on the role of "victim" in the next role-play. Ivanovic is a strong supporter of the program, and has made several personal donations to support it.

The second Billie Jean King Cup event will be played in Madison Square Garden on March 1. Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, and Svetlana Kuznetsova will participate in the one-night, single elimination BNP Paribas Showdown for the Cup.

France and Spain out of Fed Cup--USA and Czech Republic move to semifinals

In one of the weekend's most dramatic ties, Australia defeated Spain 3-2. Sam Stosur won both of her singles matches, but Anabel Medina Garrigues and Carla Suarez Navarro each had a singles victory. The 2-2 tie set up a potentially thrilling doubles rubber featuring Stosur and Rennae Stubbs against Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. The Australians won in straight sets, giving the Spaniards their second significant loss in a row (they lost in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open).

Team USA won three singles rubbers in a row. Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the first, and Melanie Oudin won the next two. Both dead rubbers were played, however, and there was a final score of 4-1. The USA will play Russia in the USA in the semifinals, and all eyes will probably be on Oudin.

In another very tight contest, the Czech Republic defeated Germany 3-2. Lucie Hradecka, making her Fed Cup debut, won her only singles match (against Andrea Petkovic), and then--with partner Kveta Peschke--won the deciding doubles rubber in straight sets. The Czech Republic will play defending champion Italy in the semifinals.

Belgium also advanced, defeating Poland 3-2. In today's dramatic match between Yanina Wickmayer and Agnieszka Radwanska, Wickmayer saved two match points in the second set. She went on to win, 1-6, 7-6, 7-5.

Serbia and Russia also played five rubbers to determine the winner. Jelena Jankovic won both of her singles matches, and Ana Ivanovic lost both of hers. The two played in the doubles rubber against substitutes Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alisa Kleybanova (Vera Dushevina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova were originally scheduled to play), and defeated the Russians won in straight sets.

Here are all of the results:

Italy def. Ukraine, 4-1
Czech Republic def. Germany, 3-2
Russia def. Serbia, 3-2
USA def. France, 4-1

Australia def. Spain, 3-2
Belgium def. Poland, 3-2
Estonia def. Argentina, 4-1
Slovak Republic def. China, 3-2

Dechy honored in France

Nathalie Dechy, who retired from professional tennis last year, was honored today in Lievin, France by the French Federation of Tennis. The ceremony was part of this weekend's Fed Cup competition between France and the USA.

Dechy played in eighteen Fed Cup ties during a ten-year period. "Fed Cup gave me my best emotions, biggest moments of my career," the former world number 11 told the crowd in Lievin.

Top qualifying seed out in Paris

Top qualifying seed Ekaterina Makarova was eliminated today in the second Open GDF SUEZ qualifying round. She was defeated 6-3, 6-1 by Zuzana Kucova.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fed Cup miscellany

Sandra Harwitt is blogging from France this weekend, and there are other writers who are contributing to the Fed Cup blog, which is worth reading. For example, we learn from the Fed Cup blog that Craig Willis, the master of ceremonies in Adelaide, remarked that Rennae Stubbs has been playing in Fed Cup for so long that--when she started--the Dead Sea was merely sick. Ba dum chhh...

We also learn from the blog that former French player Sophie Amiach, vice president of Fed Cup France, is selling the second edition of the softcover book, Les Joueuses Francaises De Fed Cup, at the matches this weekend The book, which is sponsored by Lacoste, will also be available on the FFT website.

And speaking of the French, Amelie Mauresmo is in the stands this weekend, cheering the French Fed Cup team.

"I had my chances in the second set, but psychology played a big part in the final outcome," Ana Ivanovic said about her Fed Cup match against Svetlana Kuznetsova, which she lost.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands' victory over Alize Cornet is her first-ever Fed Cup win.

Mauresmo to be honored Wednesday night in Paris

The recently retired Amelie Mauresmo, who is also the 2009 Open GDF Suez champion, will be honored Wednesday night in a ceremony at the tournament.

Serena Williams will not be in attendance. Williams has withdrawn from the tournament because of a leg injury she incurred at the Australian Open. Elena Dementieva, last year's finalist, takes over as the number 1 seed.

Ukraine ties Italy 1-1 in Fed Cup play

Fed Cup defending champion Italy is in a 1-1 tie with Ukraine after today's World Group matches. Alona Bondarenko defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-4, while Flavia Pennetta defeated Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-3. Tomorrow's matches will feature the same players in a reverse draw.

The USA is 2-0 against France. Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Alize Cornet 7-6, 7-5. Cornet had a 5-2, 40-0 lead in the first set, but lost all three set points. She also had a 5-3 mini-break in the tiebreak. Fed Cup just doesn't seem like a good venue for Cornet, does it?

In the next match, Melanie Oudin defeated Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-4. Oudin has been working on her backhand slice, and it showed in this match. She hit sixteen forehand winners, but no backhand winners. Parmentier hit ten aces. Oudin's mental recovery from point to point was excellent, as was her footwork, as one would expect.

The Czech Republic and Germany are 1-1: Petra Kvitova defeated Andrea Petkovic, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld won her match against Lucie Safarova. Also in a 1-1 tie are Russia and Serbia. Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Ana Ivanovic, and Jelena Jankovic defeated Alisa Kleybanova.

In World Group II, Spain and Australia split matches. Sam Stosur defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in three sets, and Anabel Medina Garrigues defeated Casey Dellacqua. It took Yanina Wickmayer three sets to defeat Marta Domachowska; in the second rubber, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Kirsten Flipkens, giving Belgium and Poland a 1-1 tie.

Also in World Group II, Estonia is up 2-0 on Argentina, and the Slovak Republic leads China 2-0. Neither Argentina nor China has its top players competing.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Retired French player Nathalie Dechy gave birth to a boy on January 25. Dechy and her husband have named the baby Lucas.

Jelena Dokic has withdrawn from the Pattaya Open.

Kim Clijsters says she's flattered that Mattel made a Barbie of her. Only they didn't, Kim....

Li Na and Zheng Jie were given the full treatment when they returned to China after reaching the Australian Open semifinals. Li said she expected to make a quiet entry, but was greeted by flowers, banners, and a bevy of reporters and camerapeople at the airport.

Justine Henin has been given a wild card into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Victoria Azarenka says she retired in her Fed Cup match because of illness. She said she thinks she may not ever have felt this bad, which is saying something, considering the 2009 food poisoning incident.

Fed Cup news

There is a lot of Fed Cup news, but here are some of the more interesting scores in the Europe/Africa Zone, Group I:

In Sweden's 2-1 defeat of Denmark, Arvidsson and Larsson defeated Jacobsgaard and Wozniacki, 6-0, 6-0.

Austria defeated Great Britain 3-0; Great Britain defeated Belarus 2-1.

In the contest between The Netherlands and Israel, Arantxa Rus defeated Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-1.

And in the competition between Romania and Portugal, Alexandra Dulgheru defeated Michelle Larcher De Brito 6-0, 5-7, 6-2. (One more bagel, and Dulgheru will be operating a Fed Cup deli.)

In other Fed Cup news, Christina McHale will replace Shenay Perry on the USA Fed Cup team this weekend, and Jelena Jankovic says she is healthy enough to play for Serbia.

Friday cat blogging--bookends edition

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Schnyder and Srebotnik both playing Fed Cup

Patty Schnyder has returned to the courts, playing in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I. She was defeated by Alexandra Dulgheru, 3-6, 7-6, 6-0 in the Switzerland vs. Romania tie. In the Switzerland vs. Portugal tie, she defeated Michelle Larcher De Brito 6-2, 6-4.

Katarina Srebotnik is also participating in Fed Cup play; Slovenia is competing against The Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka retired during her third set against Sybille Bammer. Austria defeated Belarus 2-1.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hingis to play a complete WTT season

On February 11, when the World Team Tennis marquee player draft is held, one team will select Martina Hingis as a member. Hingis has signed on to play all fourteen matches this season.

The other marquee players--Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova--will each play five matches.

Fed Cup miscellany

USA captain Mary Joe Fernandez says that Bethanie Mattek-Sands could play both doubles and singles in the USA's matches against France. Mattek-Sands is an accomplished doubles player.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will sit on this year's Fed Cup BNP Paribas Heart Award panel. The award was created last year and was won by Melanie Oudin.

Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chairwoman (I just can't bring myself to call her a man) and CEO Stacey Allaster says she would like to combine Fed Cup with Davis Cup. This idea follows the crackpot idea some ATP players recently had that would have replaced Davis Cup with a tennis World Cup.

This weekend will mark the first time that Belgium and Poland have ever met in Fed Cup competition. Yanina Wickmayer will compete for Belgium; she is certainly playing a lot of tennis lately.

Fed Cup Radio will present features, interviews, and live coverage of the competition all weekend.

Quote of the day

"If it [WTA tennis] was played in the backyard, then I'd probably think about it twice."
Martina Hingis, on why she doesn't want to return to the tour

Billie Jean King to have surgery

WTA founder, WTT founder, and all-around grand champion of tennis Billie Jean King is scheduled to have double double knee-joint replacement February 10. King, who is 66, says she is having the surgery so she can continue to play tennis.

Live streaming of Fed Cup matches offered this weekend

The four Fed Cup World Group contests are available this weekend as live streams on the official Fed Cup website. You pay $4.95 per day, $6.95 for the entire weekend, or $49.95 for an annual pass. Unfortunately, this service is not available in the USA, the UK, France, Ireland, and Germany.

Highlights are available for free.

Jankovic enters Family Circle Cup

2007 Family Circle Cup champion Jelena Jankovic has entered the 2010 event in Charleston, South Carolina. Jankovic, who is ranked number 8 in the world, has made five previous appearances at the tournament.

Jankovic won the tournament three years ago in very difficult conditions, right after tornadoes had hit the area. The wind was very high and was constantly changing directions, but Jankovic dealt with it expertly, defeating finalist Dinara Safina.

"They are true role models for girls of all ages..."

Most people would consider Kim Clijsters an appropriate role model for girls. She is a good sportswoman, a successful athlete, and she has faced change with a positive attitude. Barbie manufacturer Mattel says it considers Clijsters a good role model--but not quite good enough. The exhibition Kim Clijsters Barbie (thankfully, girls will not be able to buy it) that will be on display-- starting tomorrow--at the Nuremberg Toy Fair, is so skinny, I want to hook it up to a feeding tube.

Once again, Mattel gives the wrong message to girls: Be strong, be nice, succeed--but be thin as a rail. In the case of Clijsters, this message is especially ridiculous. Clijsters does not have a thin frame. And she would never be able to hit the ball as hard as she does or to endure the athleticism of tennis if she had neither fat nor muscles.

So little girls, be like Kim, yes--only be like the real Kim. Eat well, build your muscles, and play hard. Look like a real woman.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jelena Jankovic, who injured her back in Australia while experimenting with a new service motion, is in doubt for Fed Cup this weekend.

Svetlana Kuznetsova has replaced Ekaterina Makarova on the Russian Fed Cup team. Shamil Tarpishchev-1, Kuznetsova-0.

For the 5th consecutive year, SMASH magazine will sponsor the SMASH Junior Cup, presented by Dunlop Sport. The event, held in Charleston, is one of only two junior events in the U.S. that gives tops juniors a chance to compete for a wild card invitation into a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour premier event. The winner of the Girls 18 division of the SMASH Junior Cup gets a wild card into the 2010 Family Circle Cup qualifying draw. The tournament will be held February 20-22. Last year's winner was Alison Riske.

File under "things I wish I didn't know": Ari Fleischer is doing media consulting for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Maria Sharapova is part of the Nike "Lace Up, Save Lives" campaign. 100% of the profits from sale of Nike's red laces goes to programs that provide prevention and treatment of AIDS in Africa. (via Women's Tennis Blog)

Quote of the day

"Li and Jheng are both married and in their late 20s. Calling them 'the Chinese girls' is maybe not so appropriate."
Jon Wertheim