Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clijsters wins WTA Championships--Dulko & Pennetta win, too

Kim Clijsters, who has won every final in which she has competed this year, didn't disappoint in Doha Sunday. Clijsters defeated world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the WTA Championships. Clijsters went up 4-1 in the second set, but Wozniacki won a series of games and forced a third set. The world number 1 immediately broke in that final set, but Clijsters broke back, and continued to hold the momentum until the end of the match. "It seemed like it would never end," the champion said later.

This was the third time that Clijsters has won the Championships. The Doha victory was her fifth title of 2010; Clijsters won the U.S. Open for the second year in a row.

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta continued their winning ways, too, defeating Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 6-4 in the doubles final, and saving a set point in the first set. Dulko and Pennetta are the number 1 doubles team in the world, and when the new rankings come out, Dulko will be number 1 in the world.

Long-time friends Dulko and Pennetta have played doubles together on and off for years, but decided to be a committed team in 2010. The Doha victory gives them seven titles for the year; Dulko won an eighth title with Edina Gallovits.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Only one player can get the treat this Halloween

How much pressure is Caroline Wozniacki under to win the WTA Championships? Like Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic before her, the Dane has reached the number 1 ranking without winning a major. She has every opportunity to win one in 2011, but it would also be a nice year-end treat if she would win in Doha. One thinks back to 2005, when Amelie Mauresmo won the Championships and it changed her career. Not that Wozniacki is like Mauresmo was in the mental department, but--no matter what she says--it is inevitable that Wozniacki is going to feel the pressure.

Here is where the trick part comes in: Wozniacki's opponent tomorrow is Kim Clijsters, 2009 and 2010 U.S. Open champion, and a very big threat on hard courts. There is no pressure on Clijsters. She is currently number 4 in the world, which is a very nice number if you are in the midst of your second WTA Tour career (and a very good one under just about any circumstance).

Wozniacki recently received her world number 1 trophy, but there can be no doubt that she would like to leave Doha with more than one prize in her treat bag. Clijsters can go off her game now and then, but if she stays in form tomorrow, Wozniacki will need to have a few tricks handy.

Ivanovic parts ways with Gunthardt

Ana Ivanovic says she needs a full-time coach, and will therefore stop working with Heinz Gunthardt, under whose guidance the 2008 French Open champion began to get her old form back. Gunthardt, who is also lead commentator for Swiss television, will work with Ivanovic through the China Open.

Gunthardt began working with Ivanovic in February of this year, but he has made it clear that he cannot travel with her on a full-time basis.

Clijsters and Wozniacki to play for Doha title

In the film, Whip It, when the end-of-season championship bout takes place, announcer Johnny Rocket reminds spectators that it has all come down to competitors Iron Maven and Babe Ruthless, and "Would you want it any other way?" It is also no surprise that the WTA Championships have come down to Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters, a member of the white group and the tournament's 3rd seed, defeated Sam Stosur 7-6, 6-1 today. Maroon group member and top seed Wozniacki defeated Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-0. Both Stosur and Zvonareva had problems with their second serves. Prior to the semifinals, Zvonareva was the only player with a perfect round-robin record.

Would we have wanted it any other way? Some of us, yes. But it is certainly fitting that Clijsters and Wozniacki meet on a hard court to determine who wins the Championships.

In doubles semifinal play, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik defeated Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs 7-5, 6-3. Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, who have suprised fans this season with their victories in really big events, apparently didn't find Doha quite big enough: They were defeated 6-4, 6-4 by Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, this year's top doubles team. Dulko and Pennetta defeated Peschke and Srebotnik in the finals in both Stuttgart and Montreal.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Always down a set and a break--forever cherished by fans

Elena Dementieva, one of a group of Russians who significantly changed women's tennis, retired today. The 29-year-old Dementieva was one of the best athletes on the tour, and--I think it is safe to say--a universal fan favorite. Her athletic grace, intelligence, humility, and sense of humor made her stand out for years, and some of her heartbreaking losses caused so many of us to identify with her and feel for her.

But Dementieva's career, in the end, was not about loss. While it's true that she may have under-achieved (which could also be said of so many of her peers), she nevertheless compiled an outstanding record on the tour. Dementieva was ranked in the top 20 for seven years, and was in the top ten for a total of 328 weeks; she reached a career-high rank of number 3 in the world last year. She finished in the top five at the end of both 2007 and 2008.

Elena Dementieva won 16 singles titles and was a singles runner-up 16 times. Her titles included wins in Dubai, Moscow, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Dementieva also won six doubles titles, including the 2002 WTAChampionships, with partner Janette Husarova. She reached another seven doubles finals, including two at the U.S. Open.In 2000, Dementieva won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney. In 2010, she won gold at the Beijing Olympic Games, an achievement she considered the greatest of her career.

Dementieva was also an eight-time member of Russia's very successful Fed Cup team. She was the runner-up at the 2004 French Open, in which she lost to countrywoman Anastasia Myskina, and also at the 2004 U.S. Open, in which she lost to countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova. Dementieva reached the semifinals of seven other majors. One of her most exciting matches--and one of the best matches in recent history--occurred at the 2009 Wimbledon tournament, when Serena Williams defeated her 6-7, 7-5, 8-6.

Several years ago, Dementieva began to have a significant problem with her serve. Most careful tennis observers agreed that the problem began after she recovered from an injury and did not know how to stop compensating for a weak shoulder. Later, she was said to serve expertly during practice, leading fans and tennis experts to conclude that the over-compensation eventually became a mental issue. Dementieva didn't seem to let the problem bother her; rather, she became an expert at breaking her opponents' serves. She eventually overcame the service problem, though--toward the end of her career--she adopted an unusual service motion.

Last year, Dementieva lost to Samantha Stosur in the third round of the French Open. Asked whether this was one of her biggest disappointments, she replied, in her typically droll way: "I had so many."

Dementieva had to retire in her semifinal match at the 2010 French Open because of a left calf strain. She missed Wimbledon because of the injury, then made it to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. There, she again played Stosur in what turned out to be the most dramatic singles match of the tournament. Dementieva held four match points, but it was Stosur who advanced to the quarterfinals.

Two days ago, the Russian beat Stosur 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 in round-robin play at the WTA Championships in Doha. Today, she lost in Doha to Francesca Schiavone, and after the match, she announced her retirement.

A couple of days ago, an interviewer in Doha noted, after Dementieva's victory over Stosur, that she had been down a set and a break. "I'm always down a set and a break," the Russian replied. Indeed, for many years, Dementieva was stunning in multiple three-set victories. But in the latter part of her career, going three sets became difficult for her. The difficulty was obviously not a physical one for the exceptionally fit Russian; she just began to lose her focus.

For her entire career, Dementieva was coached by her mother, Vera, whose existence in the stands often appeared to be poised on an emotional roller coaster. Dementieva said more than once that it was harder for her mother to endure her dramatic matches than it was for her to compete in them. Dementieva could crumble on the brink of victory, and she could also overcome defeat at the last moment. Her wins were sensational, and her losses were often gut-wrenching. Though she was calm and poised off-court--on the court, she tended to thrive on tension, and to create drama.

Women's tennis won't be the same without Elena Dementieva. She was a joy to watch as she repeatedly hit expertly from the baseline, and as she moved rapidly and gracefully with such stunning athleticism that she often made very difficult points look easy. Dementieva was always quick to laugh at herself, gracious toward her opponents, and very warm toward fans. Her screams of frustration and her animated facial expressions were endearing, and all the more so because they were so spontaneous.

How fortunate we were to be able to watch her for so many years.


The 2011 season will feature a new tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. It will take place the same week as the New Haven Open.

Paula Vergara talks about on-court coaching.

Here is the Doha Hot Shot of the Day--a great moment from Kim Clijsters (and Vera Zvonareva)--from the third day of WTA Championships play.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is asking--yet again--for people (are you listening, Martina Navratilova?) to stop calling her Kuzy: Kuznetsova has disliked this nickname for a long time.

Bobby Chintapalli tells us why she'll miss Elena Dementieva.

Friday cat blogging--room for one more edition

Husarova retires from pro tennis

Slovak doubles specialist Janette Husarova retired from professional tennis today. Husarova has not played in a while, so the announcement is hardly a surprise. The long-time Fed Cup team member, who was also on the Slovak Olympics team in 2000 and 2004, holds 24 WTA Tour doubles titles. Husarova played doubles with many different partners. In 2002, she won the WTA Championships with Elena Dementieva, who also retired today. The same year, Husarova and Dementieva also reached the final of the U.S. Open. In 2003, Husarova reached a career-high doubles ranking of number 3 in the world.

Husarova has opened a a tennis school and organized two ITF events. The Bratislova resident says that she wants to "attract more children to sport and create conditions to enable them to develop physical activity."

Zvonareva achieves 3-0 record in Doha

Vera Zvonareva defeated Kim Clijsters today at the WTA Championships, which gives her a 3-0 record in round-robin play. Previously, Zvonareva--a member of the white group--defeated Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka. She will play world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals, and Clijsters will play Sam Stosur.

Zvonareva, seeded 2nd at the Championships, was down a break in both sets, but defeated 3rd seed Clijsters 6-4, 7-5.

In other Doha play, Victoria Azarenka defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-1, and Francesca Schiavone defeated Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-2.

In round-robin play, maroon group members Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur are 2-1, and Francesca Schiavone and Elena Dementieva are 1-2. In the white group, Kim Clijsters is 2-1, Jelena Jankovic is 0-3, and Victoria Azarenka is 1-2.

Dementieva retires from professional tennis

After she lost her third match to Francesca Schiavone in Doha today, Elena Dementieva announced to the crowd that she was retiring from professional tennis. You can see and hear Dementieva's very moving speech here, and you can see Barbara Schett interview her for Eurosport here. Also, the tour has created a gallery of the Russian's best moments.

Women Who Serve will have more on Dementieva's retirement later.

Doubles draw made in Doha

The doubles draw has been made in Doha, and Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta will play Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova in the semifinals. Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik will play Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs in the other semifinal match.

The first semifinal is of particular interest. Dulko and Pennetta--close friends who have been occasional doubles partners for years and decided to play as a consistent team this year--are the top-ranked team, with six 2010 doubles titles. They won Miami, Stuttgart, Rome, Bastad, Montreal, and Moscow. They also reached the finals in Madrid and Beijing.

King and Shvedova, on the other hand, had played together in only two tournaments--both this year--when they won the 2010 Wimbledon title. In their next three events, they failed to get beyond the second round. But then they won the U.S. Open, defeating Dulko and Pennetta along the way.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quote of the day

You were down a set and a break. What happened?

What news. I'm always down a set and a break.
Elena Dementieva

Field set for Tournament of Champions in Bali

The second annual Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions begins November 4 in Bali. The tournament features the six top players who have won international events during the year but have not qualified for the WTA Championships, plus two wild card players. This is a tournament whose reason for existence I question, and I am especially perturbed that it is played after the WTA Championships.

Last year, the tournament was played in round-robin format; this year it features a regular knock-out format. The six players who have qualified are: Li Na, Aravane Rezai, Yanina Wickmayer, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ana Ivanovic, and Alisa Kleybanova. The two wild cards are Daniela Hantuchova and Kimiko Date Krumm. That is certainly a very competitive field. The players will compete for $600,000 worth of prize money. Rezai is the defending champion.

Wozniacki to end 2010 as number 1

In what one could call a typical Wozniacki victory, the world number 1 defeated Francesca Schiavone today at the WTA Championships, and secured the number 1 ranking for the end of the year. The "typical" part: Wozniacki hit 17 winners and made 18 unforced errors, compared with her opponent's 30 winners and 34 unforced errors. Schiavone won the first set 6-3, and Wozniacki won each of the final two sets 6-1, 6-1. The last two sets lasted over 40 minutes apiece.

Also in Doha, Elena Dementieva defeated Sam Stosur 4-6, 6-4, 7-6. Dementieva--who lost to Stosur in the 2010 U.S. Open's most dramatic match--took advantage of the Australian's sometimes-shaky play toward the end of the match. It took Dementieva four tries, but she delivered match point and won the third-set tiebreak 7-4.

In today's third match, Kim Clijsters defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

In the maroon group, top seed Wozniacki and 6th seed Stosur have reached the semifinals. In the white group, the semifinalists are 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva and 3rd seed Kim Clijsters. Tomorrow, Schiavone plays Dementieva, Zvonareva plays Clijsters, and Jelena Jankovic plays Azarenka.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quote of the week

"It's a question of control. It's the little muscles that take over when you're nervous. When you're confident, the big muscle groups dominate."
Martina Navratilova

Wozniacki loses Doha match to Stosur

Sam Stosur, seeded 6th at the WTA Championships in Doha, defeated 1st seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4,0 6-3 today. Wozniacki now has a 1-1 record in the Championships, and Stosur has a 2-0 record.

2nd seed Vera Zvonareva defeated 8th seed Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-4 today in a match in which Azarenka made too many unforced errors. Zvonareva is now 2-0 in Doha.

In today's other match, 3rd seed Kim Clijsters, playing her first Doha match, defeated 6th seed Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic, who is now 0-2 in the competition, has been sick for over a week, and is reported to have passed out in the locker room after yesterday evening's match against Vera Zvonareva.

Tomorrow, maroon group members Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva will compete, as will Caroline Wozniacki and Francesca Schiavone. In the white group, Kim Clijsters will play Victoria Azarenka.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New tour name and logo

The "Sony Ericsson WTA Tour" is the "WTA Tour" once again, so a new logo was unveiled on Sunday, and it would have been nice, perhaps, if different people had sat on the decision committee. The new logo is said to be "a new and modern reminder of the captivating athleticism and excitement" of the tour. Maybe in 1975.

The logo is a purple egg set at a cunning angle, containing a "modern" rendering of the letters "WTA," and featuring a little yellow circle that could never be mistaken for a tennis ball. Why, even as I write this, the design is being ripped off by an envious enterprise.

What were they thinking?

Wozniacki, Stosur and Zvonareva win on 1st day of Doha play

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki had no trouble defeating Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-1 on the first day of play in theWTA Championships in Doha today. Dementieva, who was recently bothered by an inflamed foot, said that the heat and humidity made it difficult for her to play in Doha, and that she was "going for the wrong shots all the time." Also winning in the maroon group on day 1 was Sam Stosur, who defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-4. Schiavone defeated Stosur on clay in the French Open final earlier this year.

In the white group, Vera Zvonareva (who is now number 2 in the world) defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-0. Jankovic had problems with her movement--generally one of her greatest strengths--and she had repeated problems with her serve. Jankovic has been ill for several days, and she said she felt dizzy and felt some tingling during the match, and that she had difficulty breathing. These were the symptoms she experienced in Moscow last week. Jankovic received IV treatment following the match, and said that she plans to remain in the tournament.

Jankovic has a history of respiratory problems, and--though she had nasal surgery a few years ago--she continues to have problems breathing when she is active.

Vandeweghe named to USA Fed Cup team

Coco Vandeweghe has been named by captain Mary Joe Fernandez to the USA Fed Cup team that will compete in the final against Italy. Vandeweghe joins Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber. Vandeweghe, who began the 2010 season with a ranking of 322, is now ranked number 115 in the world.

Fernandez has not yet announced who will play singles for the team, and substitutions can be made during Fed Cup weekend. The final will be played November 6 and 7 in San Diego.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doha draw

Here is the singles draw for round-robin play at the WTA Championships:

Caroline Wozniacki (1)
Francesca Schiavone (4)
Samantha Stosur (6)
Elena Dementieva (7)

Vera Zvonareva (2)
Kim Clijsters (3)
Jelena Jankovic (6)
Victoria Azarenka (8)

Play begins tomorrow in Doha. The first match will be played between Vera Zvonareva and Jelena Jankovic.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Azarenka and Vinci win Moscow & Luxembourg titles

There was no report yesterday on the Moscow and Luxembourg matches because I was traveling and did not have Internet access. As everyone knows by now, 6th seed Maria Kirilenko defeated Vera Dushevina in the Kremlin Cup semifinals, and 2nd seed Victoria Azarenka defeated 8th seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Today, Azarenka won the Kremlin Cup by defeating Kirilenko 6-3, 6-4. Top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta won the doubles title, defeating 3rd seeds Sara Errani and Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 2-6, 10-6.

Roberta Vinci won the Luxembourg Open, defeating 8th seed Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4. In the semifinals, Vinci defeated Anne Keothavong, and Goerges defeated Angelique Kerber. The doubles title was won by 2nd seeds Timea Bacsinzky and Tathiana Garbin. They defeated top seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-4.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Semifinal draws set in Moscow & Luxembourg

Two Russian players remain in the draw in Moscow, and they will play against each other in the semifinals. 6th seed Maria Kirilenko, who defeated qualifier Zarina Diyas in the quarterfinals, will play Vera Dushevina, who defeated countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze.

In the other semifinal match, 8th seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez--who appears to be back in her groove following an injury layoff--will play 2nd seed Victoria Azarenka. Martinez Sanchez defeated Dominika Cibulkova today, and Azarenka defeated 7th seed (and also Russian) Alisa Kleybanova.

Kirilenko and Azarenko, seeded 4th in doubles, were beaten today by number 1 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta. Martinez Sanchez, playing with Sara Errani in Moscow, defeated Akgul Amanmuradova and Darya Kustova. Errani and Martinez Sanchez are seeded 3rd.

In Luxembourg, 8th seed Julia Goerges--who has been getting some good results lately--upset 4th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. She will play Angelique Kerber in the semifinals; Kerber defeated Polona Hercog. In the second semifinal, Anne Keothavong will play Roberta Vinci. Keothavong defeated Iveta Benesova 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Keothavong hit seven aces. Vinci defeated Kirsten Flipkens.

Benesova and partner Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who are seeded 1st, have already reached the final. The second semifinal will be played tomorrow.

Friday cat blogging--evening glow edition

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inflamed foot forces Dementieva out of Luxembourg Open

In any tennis season, some players are unfortunate enough to suffer ankle sprains, stress fractures in the foot, and other sports-related foot injuries and issues. This season, we have also seen some more unusual foot problems. The most famous case is the unfortunate tendon cut suffered by Serena Williams when a drunk World Cup enthusiast broke a bottle in a restaurant in Munich. Earlier in the year, Kim Clijsters had to deal with an infection on her foot after she had a mole removed. And now, Elena Dementieva has an inflamed foot.

Because of the right foot inflammation, Dementieva--top seed at the Luxembourg Open--had to retire today in her match against Palona Hercog. Dementieva has qualified for the WTA Championships, which begin in six days in Doha. Both Serena and Venus Williams had to give up their places in the top eight, Jelena Jankovic is ill, Vera Zvonareva withdrew from the Kremlin Cup because of physical issues, and now Dementieva has an inflamed foot. Of course, the chance is high that Jankovic, Zvonareva and Dementieva will be fine by the time the Championships begin, but there is a lot of physical stress among the top players as they head to Doha.

Jankovic out of Kremlin Cup

Jelena Jankovic has been sick--again--and showed up way under form for her second round match in Moscow. She was easily defeated 6-1, 6-2 by qualifier Zarina Diyas. The number 1 seed had nasal surgery a few years ago to help her with breathing problems, but when she becomes ill, she continues to have respiratory issues. Can someone please put her on an immune-building program right away?

In the meantime, Diyas moves to the quarterfinals, in which she will play 6th seed Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko dispatched of Kateryna Bondarenko 6-0, 6-0 today. Also, Anna Chakvetadze defeated qualifier Marya Koryttseva, and Vera Dushevina defeated Elena Vesnina.

In Luxembourg, Patty Schnyder--who beat Yanina Wickmayer in the first round--went out to Anne Keothavong in the second round. Ana Ivanovic and Roberta Vinci both won, and 5th seed Daniela Hantuchova was upset by Angelique Kerber.


Victoria Azarenka has qualified as the final woman to play in the WTA Championships, which begin on Doha on October 27. (Not to put too fine a point on it, but the alternate should be practicing seriously.)

The New Haven tournament has been saved, but in the future, it will be a women's only event. Unlike many, I consider this a good thing. Now that Pilot Pen is gone, there will be no main sponsor; the sponsorship will be shared by several entities, including Yale University, Aetna and American Express. The tournament has been re-named the New Haven Open.

Yanina Wickmayer has received a Fed Cup Heart Award.

Rebecca Marino and Alison Riske have been grabbing ITF titles right and left. Marino is now Canada's number  1 player.

As previously mentioned by a reader of this blog, Svetlana Kuznetsova's relationship with coach Loic Courteau has ended after only two months. Courteau did not want to go to Moscow to train with Kuznetsova during the off-season. Don't you sort these things out before your hire someone?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This time, it's Schnyder

In the third round of the U.S. Open, Yanina Wickmayer defeated Patty Schnyder 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in an all-out thriller. Today in the first round in Luxembourg, Schnyder beat 3rd-seeded Wickmayer 6-4, 6-4.

The third seed wasn't the only one to make an exit. In the second round, 2nd seed Aravane Rezai was run over 6-0, 6-1 by Kirsten Flipkens, and Iveta Benesova defeated 7th seed Jarmila Groth 6-4, 7-5.

In Moscow, doubles 2nd seeds (and ad hoc team) Elena Vesnina and Liezel Huber were defeated 6-7, 6-4, 12-10 by Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva. In singles, all the seeds who played today--Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Alisa Kleybanova and Victoria Azarenka--advanced to the third round. Also, Dominika Cibulkova defeated Tsvetana Pironkova.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Li and Pennetta beaten in Moscow 1st round

Li Na, whose WTA Championships status hangs in the balance, didn't help her cause today by losing in the first round of the Kremlin Cup. Li was defeated 6-4, 6-2 by Anna Chakvetadze, who said she thought Li might have been a bit stressed about the Championships, and Li agreed. Li is still in the running to go to Doha, but her first round loss today lowers her chance. She had a wild card into Moscow, and was also seeded third.

Moscow is traditionally a place with a big home court advantage, and it wasn't just Chakvetadze who came through. The quite talented, but sometimes shaky, Elena Vesnina upset 5th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

The other victory of note was the defeat of Gisela Dulko by qualifier Zarina Diyas. I have seen Diyas play on clay, and though I've tried, I can't think of a more aggressive tour player. Diyas runs to the net and hits every type of volley in circumstances when other players would wait for the bounce. I was impressed when I saw her play because of her willingness to keep going forward.

In doubles, the streaky Bondarenko sisters were defeated 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 by Algul Amanmuradova and Darya Kustova.

In Luxembourg, all the seeds advanced today. Top seed and wild card Elena Dementieva defeated Peng Shuai 7-5, 7-6.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pavlyuchenkova out of Kremlin Cup in 1st round

When she's healthy, Dominika Cibulkova can be a relentless opponent. Kremin Cup 4th seed AnastasiPavlyuchenkova learned about that today when Cibulkova defeated her, 7-6, 2-6, 6-0. Unfortunately, the two double-faulted a total of 21 times.

Kateryna Bondarenko defeated Petra Kvitova, 8th seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez defeated wild card Alla Kudryavtseva, and  Alona Bondarenko defeated U.S. Open junior girls champion Daria Gavrilova, who also had a wild card into the main draw.

In doubles, 4th seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko defeated Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova, and 1st seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta also advanced to the second round, as did Vitalia Diatchenko and Tatiana Poutchek.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lisicki out in 2nd round of Luxembourg qualifying

Sabine Lisicki lost today to Eleni Daniilidou in the second round of Luxembourg qualifying. Daniilidou, who double-faulted 14 times, defeated Lisicki 7-5, 6-4. (A couple of years ago, when I said  the "Lisicki watch" had begun, this isn't what I had in mind.)

Also going out in the second round of qualifying was Timara Paszek, who lost to Lucie Hradecka. Hradecka hit nine ace , and is--as far as I know--the only big-ace hitter (she has hit as many as eighteen in one match) on the tour who does not have a high ranking.

In Moscow, top qualifying seed Elena Baltacha was beaten in the second round of qualifying by Mariya Koryttseva in a match that lasted over 2 hours and 43 minutes. Koryttseva won 6-4, 2-6, 7-

Ivanovic wins championship in Linz

Ana Ivanovic won her first title in two years today, defeating Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-2 in the final of the Generali Ladies Linz. Finals, unfortunately, have been Schnyder's undoing for much of her career, and today was no different.

Ivanovic, who was seeded 7th, won the Linz title in 2008. Until recently, she has struggled with both her serve and her confidence. Before her problems began, Ivanovic won the 2008 French Open.

2nd seeds Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won the doubles title. They defeated top seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5, 7-6.

Tanasugarn wins Osaka title

Tammy Tanasugarn won her tour title today in Osaka, defeating Kimiko Date Krumm 7-5, 6-7, 6-1. The first two sets were tense and unpredictable, but by the third, Date Krumm understandably began to fade. Her quarterfinal and semifinal matches had both gone three sets, with one lasting 2 and 1/2 hours, and the other lasting 3 hours. She received medical attention toward the end of the last set, after which she won her only game. The final lasted 3 hours and 7 minutes.

Between them, Tanasugarn and Date Krumm gave fans plenty of excitement this past week in Japan. The Osaka champion, who was unseeded, upset 2nd seed Marion Bartoli, and 6th seed Date Krumm upset 1st seed Sam Stosur and 3rd seed Shahar Peer.

Date Krumm was attempting to break two records. Had she won, she would have been the only woman to win the Osaka title five times, and she would also have been the oldest woman to win a tour title. As it is, that distinction still belongs to Billie Jean King, who won Birmingham when she was 39.

3rd seeds Chang Kai-Chen and Lilia Osterloh won the doubles title, defeating Shuko Aoyami and Rika Fujiwara.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Top seeds to compete for Linz doubles title

Top seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik advanced to the Generali Ladies Linz final today with a 6-2, 6-2 win over 3rd seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. 2nd seeds Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova will be their opponents in the final. Voracova and Zahlavova Stycova defeated Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska 6-1, 6-7, 10-2.

Schnyder and Ivanovic to meet in Linz fnal

She did it the hard way (or, as one commentator said, "just another day at the office for Patty"), but Patty Schnyder reached her third Linz final today by defeating 6th seed Andra Petkovic in the semifinals. Schnyder won the first set, then went up a break in the second, but Petkovic suddenly found more of a comfort level in the match and caught up. She broke Schnyder again and took the second set. Carrying her momentum into the last set, Petkovic looked fresh, while Schnyder--whose signature drop shot failed her again and again--appeared to stumble.

Somehow, though, the Swiss veteran stayed in the match, though it was not as easy for her to hold her serve as it had been earlier. She looked like she was about to tumble out in the latter half of the set, but a break back followed by a very difficult hold kept her in. She saved two match points, then broke Petkovic at 5-6, and--while fans very likely were holding their collective breath, wondering if Patty could close--she surprised perhaps even herself by immediately going up 40-0. On her second match point, Schnyder won the whole thing 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Schnyder's opponent in the final will be 7th seed Ana Ivanovic, who defeated Roberta Vinci 6-3, 7-5. Vinci probably could have done more to confound Ivanovic, but was a bit flat. Nevertheless, it was another occasion in which Ivanovic showed fans that her serve is definitely back. For emphasis, she hit eight aces.

Experience needed

Francesca Schiavone recently joked, after playing Kimiki Date Krumm, that the they had played the senior tour because--between them--they were 70 years old. Date Krumm and Tammy Tanasugarn took the math a step farther today in Osaka: Between them, they are 73, and they will play in tomorrow's HP Open final.

To get to the final, Tanasugarn upset 2nd seed Marion Bartoli 6-2, 7-5. The Thai veteran's serve was working well for her, and she was able to get the job done in an hour and 40 minutes.

For 6th seed Date Krumm, the semifinal match was, like her quarterfinal match, a long affair, lasting almost three hours. She defeated 3rd seed Shahar Peer 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.

Date Krumm and Tanasugarn are 1-1 against each other; each of their prior meetings went to three sets.

In doubles, top seeds Alberta Brianti and Magdalena Rybarikova were defeated 6-4, 6-3 by Chang Kai-Chen and Lilia Osterloh. The other semifinal match, played the day before, featured the upset of the 2nd seeds, Chan Yung-Jan and Natalie Grandin. They were defeated 6-3, 6-4 by Shuko Aoyami and Rika Fujiwara.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Schnyder to play Petkovic in Linz semifinals

Patty Schnyder beat her long-time rival, Daniela Hantuchova, for the first time in five years today at the Generali Ladies Linz. The unseeded Schnyder went down a break in the first set, but came back to take it 6-4. At 3-all in the second set, Hantuchova went down 0-40, but she managed to win the game. Schnyder broke at 4-all, however. In the second set, Schynder didn't seem as sure of herself, but after winning a very long game, she was able to pull some errors out of the 2nd seed and to break her at 4-all. When she served for the match, Schnyder--not atypically--became nervous, and she went down 0-30 right away. Once again, though, she steadied herself, and won the quarterfinal match 6-4, 6-4 on her first match point.

7th Ana Ivanovic won her quarterfinal match against Julia Goerges. The first set was close, and Ivanovic won it in a tiebreak. She then relied on her serve to take the second set 6-2. Of all the players who have had service problems, Ivanovic is the only one who has returned to form.

She may have her hands full in the semifinals, however. She will play Roberta Vinci, whose so-called "old school" (I call it clever and interesting tennis) game gave her a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over countrywoman and doubles partner Sara Errani. Errani was seeded 9th.

Finally, 6th seed Andrea Petkovic defeated qualifier Eleni Daniilidou 6-3, 6-2. Petkovic will play Schnyder in the semifinals.

In Osaka, Kimiko Date Krumm upset 1st seed and defending champion Sam Stosur, and Tammy Tanasugarn defeated Chang Kai-Chen. 2nd seed Marion Bartoli defeated Jill Craybas 6-1, 6-2, and 3rd seed Shahar Peer defeated 7th seed Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-0.

Rules are part of the job

Recently, Caroline Wozniacki got into an extended argument with an umpire for the simple reason that the Danish player was not adequately familliar with the hindrance rules. Yesterday, Ana Ivanovic was surprised to have points docked when she was given a bathroom break after she served, and that break extended beyond the time allowed for leaving the court. Again, she was not familiar enough with the rules. In Ivanovic's case, I think she would have probably chosen to have the points docked, anyway, but the issue here is that she was so surprised to find that the score had changed.

There are a lot of rules in tennis, and--while the average player might be expected to experience confusion over some of them from time to time--it would seem that professional players would be able to recite them easily. (There are also fans who might consider checking the rules before they launch into diatribes about umpires. It is not an umpire's job to educate players on the rules of the game.)

Date Krumm takes defending champion Stosur out of Osaka

Whoever it was who said that Kimiko Date Krumm's comeback has been overrated really needs to re-think that opinion. She recently knocked off Tokyo defending champion Maria Sharapova, and today, she upset Osaka top seed and defending champion Sam Stosur. Date Krumm defeated Stosur 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 in the quarterfinals. The match lasted over 2 and 1/2 hours, and its length and intensity may harm Date Krumm's chances to win her semifinal contest against Shahar Peer. Of course, one is tempted to say she may struggle because she is 40 years old, but players younger than she frequently wear out after very intense matches.

I wish Date Krumm had not retired when she did, but the good news is that she is on the tour again. The athletic and creative Date Krumm is a breath of fresh air, and her presence on the other side of the net almost always means trouble for most players.

Friday cat blogging--strange bedfellows edition

Tarzan and Roxie aren't exactly friends, but here, they are able to settle their differences long enough to enjoy some sun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Schnyder advances to 3rd round in Linz

Linz has always been a good tournament for Patty Schnyder. She played in the final in 2005 but injured her hand in the middle of the match and couldn't do much after that (the winner was Nadia Petrova, collecting her first tour victory). Schnyder made it to the semifinals in 2006, but lost to Maria Sharapova (7-5, 7-5). She was a finalist again in 2007, when Daniela Hantuchova, Schnyder's long-time rival, took the title.

Today, Schnyder advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over 8th seed Klara Zakopalova. Hantuchova, who is seeded 2nd, also won her second round match. 5th seed Petra Kvitova, however, was upset 6-2, 6-1 by Julia Goerges.

In the next round, Schnyder and Hantuchova will play each other for the 19th time. Their victories are currently split at 10-8, with Hantuchova taking the lead. Hantuchova has, in fact, won the last five times they have played. Schnyder's last victory over Hantuchova took place in Linz in 2005.

In Osaka, the seeded players--Kimiko Date Krumm, Shahar Peer and Iveta Benesova--all won their second round matches today. Also, Jill Craybas defeated Olga Savchuk 6-1, 6-1.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kirilenko out of Osaka with hip injury

 The injuries just don't stop occurring. Today, 4th seed Maria Kirilenko retired in the second round of the HP Open. Kirilenko sustained a hip injury during her match, so Chang Kai-Chen, moves to the third round. Top seeds Sam Stosur and Marion Bartoli advanced to the next round, and Tammy Tanasugarn took out Coco Vandeweghe. The match, which Tanasugarn won 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, lasted over three hours.

Not surprisingly, Anastasia Rodionova retired in her first round of play in Linz. Rodionova suffered a strain of the left adductor; she played in all three tennis events last week at the Commonwealth Games, and won two gold medals and one silver.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Kim Clijsters reports that she is pain-free. Clijsters developed an infection on the bottom of her foot after undergoing a mole-removal procedure.

Justine Henin, by the way, reports that she is also pain-free.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands tells us that the most requested cocktail from her personal bar is a concoction called the Italian Wedding Cake. You can get details in her latest USA Today blog entry.

Coco Vandeweghe says she originally considered playing college basketball, but changed to tennis because she did not really enjoy playing on a team.

Amelie Mauresmo was on hand recently to celebrate Yannick Noah's 50th birthday, and you should check out this cake.

Cibulkova upset in Linz

Qualifier Eleni Daniilidou upset Linz 4th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4 today in the first round of play. Also in the first round, Roberta Vinci defeated 3rd seed Alona Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2.

Patty Schnyder brought her career record against Gisela Dulko to 5-0; Schnyder defeated Dulko 6-2, 6-3.

In Osaka, qualifier Laura Robson lost to 6th seed Kimiko Date Krumm. Date Krumm broke four times for a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Stosur enters Family Circle Cup

World number 8 Samantha Stosur has entered the 2011 Family Circle Cup. Stosur, the 2010 champion in Charleston, is the first player to enter the 2011 event, which is scheduled for April 2-10.

This will be Stosur's fifth appearance in Charleston. Last year, she defeated a very in-form Daniela Hantuchova in the semifinals, and was so dominant in the final that her opponent, Vera Zvonareva, won only three games.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lisicki out in 1st round of $100k event in Torhout

Sabine Lisicki lost today in the first round of the $100k ITF tournament in Torhout, Belgium. Zuzana Kucova defeated the struggling German player 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Tamira Paszek, Johanna Larsson and 2nd seed Timea Bacsinszky also went out in the first round. Yanina Wickmayer is the top seed at the event.

Keothavong defeats Groth in Linz

Anne Keothavong hasn't had an easy time of it lately, and her lagging confidence must surely have gotten a boost when she defeated Jarmila Groth today in Linz. Keothavong advanced to the 2nd round with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 victory.

Also winning were 8th seed Klara Zakopalova, who defeated Elena Vesnina 7-5, 7-5, and 6th seed Andrea Petkovic, who defeated Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.

In doubles, 3rd seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 6-1.

In Osaka, Coco Vandeweghe upset 5th seed Alla Kudryavtseva 6-1, 6-2.

The consequences of injury: an object lesson

Wozniacki continues hot streak in Beijing

WThe U.S. Open semifinals excepted, Caroline Wozniacki has gone on a tear of late, winning in Montreal, New Haven, and now Tokyo and Beijing back-to-back. The Beijing final was postponed a day because of rain, so it wasn't until today that the world number 1 was able to hold that trophy. She defeated Vera Zvonareva--the woman who took her out of the U.S. Open--6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Wozniacki began her China Open competition with an intestinal virus, and later had to contend with a knee injury and then a rain delay, but those annoyances didn't stop her from claiming her sixth title of the year.

Zvonareva is now number 3 in the world.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Williams withdraws from Linz

Serena Williams, who had planned to return to the tour in Linz, has withdrawn from the tournament. A scan showed that Williams' injured right foot has not healed properly, and Williams told reporters she may have over-trained in an attempt to come back. "I am likely out for the year now," the world number 2 said.

Williams was injured shortly after Wimbledon, when a rowdy World Cup fan in a restaurant threw a bottle and the glass cut Williams' tendon. She had surgery in July to repair the foot.

Rodionova wins gold in Commonwealth Games women's doubles

Anastasia Rodionova was seeded first in women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles at the Commonwealth Games, and she will leave the Games with two gold medals and one silver. Rodionova, who had already won the gold medal for singles play, also won the gold--with partner Sally Peers--in women's doubles. Rodionova and Peers defeated countrywomen Olivia Rogowska and Jessica Moore 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakvorthy won the bronze medal in women's doubles. They defeated countrywomen Nirupama Sanjeev and Poojashree Venkates.

Rodionova and partner Paul Hanley won silver in mixed doubles. They were defeated 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in the final by the Scottish team of Colin Fleming and Jocelyn Rae. Fleming and Rae were down 0-4 in the first set and saved two set points before winning the tiebreak. The Scottish team upset 4th seeds Anna Smith and Ross Hutchins in the semifinals. Sarah Borwell and Ken Skupski defeated Smith and Hutchins to win the bronze medal in mixed doubles.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jankovic & Dementieva qualify for Doha

Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva are the seventh and eighth players to qualify for the WTA Championships, which will begin October 26 in Doha. This will be the tenth time that Dementieva has played in the Championships.

The other women who have qualified to play in the round-robin event are: Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Samantha Stosur, and Francesca Schiavone.

Four doubles teams have qualified.

Quote of the week

I hate playing doubles. You have to wait for the doubles after you've played your singles matches. I like playing singles matches which means I can go home quickly. And it saves a great deal of effort.
Li Na

Chuang & Govortsova win Beijing title

Chuang Chia-Jung and Olga Govortsova, unseeded at the China Open, won the title today by defeating top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta 7-6, 1-6, 10-7. Chuang and Govortsova got off to a quick start and looked as though they might easily win the first set, but Dulko and Pennetta caught up and forced a tiebreak. Chuang and Govortsova won the tiebreak in the same quick fashion they had begun the match. However, they were able to win only one game in the second set. But they prevailed in the super-tiebreak, and denied Dulko and Pennetta a sixth title for the season.

Rodionova wins singles gold at Commonwealth Games

Anastasia Rodionova of Australia, the top-seeded player in the 2010 Commonweath Games, won the gold medal today after defeating 2nd seed Sania Mirza 6-3, 2-6, 7-6.

The match began with five breaks of serve. With each player taking a set, Mirza served at 2-1 in the third, but was broken. Rodionova served for the match at 5-3, but Mirza broke her. Mirza then saved a match point on her own serve. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, and Rodionova won on her fourth match point, when Mirza double-faulted.

Sally Peers defeated Olivia Rogowska 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 to win the bronze medal.

Rodionova had to play against the crowd, which not only cheered wildly for Mirza, but which also enthusiastically cheered Rodionova's errors, and did not applaud her winners. All of Mirza'a matches in Delhi have been very noisy affairs.

Safina ends her 2010 season

If you are a fan of Dinara Safina, your worst fears are true: Safina's back injury is bothering her again, and she has decided to stop playing for the season. This is really bad news for the former world number 1, who said: "It has been the worst year of my career, mainly because of my injury that has kept me away from several tournaments and kept me from playing my game of tennis."

Safina's career skyrocketed in 2008 and 2009, but  toward the end of 2009, she began to suffer with the back injury that took her out of the WTA Championships and would cause her to retire from both Brisbane and the 2010 Australian Open. The injury also took her off of the tour for three months in the early part of the season. She returned for the clay season, but had to withdraw from Wimbledon because of her back, which she had been assured was totally healed.

Here's hoping that someone in the rehab world has a solution for the talented and ceaselessly entertaining Russian who is better known on this blog as Thrill Ride. The tour just isn't the same without her.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rodionova advances to Commonwealth Games final

Top seed Anastasia Rodionova has defeated countrywoman Sally Peers 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games women's singles. Rodionova will play Sania Mirza for the gold medal, and Peers will play Olivia Rogowska for the bronze.

Rodionova, with partner Paul Hanley, has also advanced to the mixed doubles final.

Wozniacki sustains knee injury, but defeats Ivanovic at China Open

New world number 1 and top seed Caroline Wozniacki hurt her knee when she stretched to get a ball during her quarterfinal match against Ana Ivanovic in Beijing. Wozniacki was up 3-1 in the second set when the injury occurred. She received some treatment, and went on to win 7-6, 6-4.

2nd seed Vera Zvonareva rolled over Francesca Schiavone so successfully that she almost completed the match without making unforced errors. Schiavone, who was playing with a slight injury, also made very few unforced errors. She broke Zvonareva when the Russian served for the match at 6-0, 5-0. The final score was 6-0, 6-2.

9th seed Li Na defeated Anastasija Sevastova 7-6, 6-3, and 15th seed Shahar Peer defeated Timea Bacsinszky 7-6, 6-4.

In doubles, Chuang Chia-Jung and Olga Govortsova upset 4th seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova. Chuang and Govortsova will play the 1st seeds, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, in the final. Dulko and Pennetta are seeking their sixth title together this year.

Mirza makes comeback in Commonwealh Games semifinals

Down 1-6, 1-3 in the singles semifinals at the Commonwealth Games, 2nd seed Sania Mirza staged a comeback against Olivia Rogowska and won the match, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Rogowska will play the loser of the other semifinal to determine who wins the bronze medal. The other semifinalists are Sally Peers and top seed Anastasia Rodionova.

"She was just swinging and just hitting everything," Miza said of Rogowska. "I had to hang in there. I knew, at some point, she was going to crack."

Friday cat blogging--Can you hear me now? edition

4 doubles teams qualify for WTA Championships

The four doubles teams that will participate in the upcoming WTA Championships are:

Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik
Lisa Raymond & Rennae Stubbs
Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova

Venus and Serena Williams were taken out of contention because Venus has stopped playing for the season. Last year's winners, Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, just missed the cut. Martinez Sanchez was out for part of the year with an injury, and the team lost its momentum. In the 2009 championships, the Spanish team defeated both the Williams sisters and the team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Doubles upsets at Commonwealth Games

Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, seeded 2nd in mixed doubles at the Commonwealth Games, were upset 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals by Scotland's team of Jocelyn Rae and Colin Fleming. The match was played less than an hour after Paes finished his men's doubles match.

In women's doubles, 2nd seeds Sarah Borwell and Anna Smith were also upset 7-5, 6-4, by Poojashree Venkatesha and Nirupama Sanjeev of India.

Broken glass, broken bodies, uncertain futures

If ever there were a case for "last woman standing," Caroline Wozniacki has made it. With her third round win at the China Open, the young woman known as both the Great Dane and the Golden Retriever--but best known by her non-canine nickname of Sunshine--is now ranked as the number 1 player in the world. Wozniacki, who doesn't hit many winners, but who plays stunning defensive tennis, has worked very hard and played very hard. Some say she has over-played, but--so far--there doesn't seem to be any particular damage done. Her fitness is excellent, and it's obvious that she has fine-tuned her game during the past year.

While former world number 1 Serena Williams was walking around Miami in an orthopedic boot because of shards of glass that cut her foot tendon, Wozniacki was playing, and winning a lot; she has already won five titles this season. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, and Agnieszka Radwanska are done for the season. Serena is coming back soon, but hasn't played in a while. Former top players Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic currently look like shadows of their formers tennis selves. (Jankovic's story is especially frustrating: She did all the right things--finally improving her serve and impressively increasing her aggression--but after going through some personal crises--hasn't been the same.) Elena Dementieva seems to have lost her ability to close matches. Sam Stosur's brief glory is fading before our eyes. And then there's Victoria Azarenka, whose physical fragility has been her undoing.

There is also Maria Sharapova, from whom we have seen flashes of her pre-surgery self, but who sometimes appears lost on the same courts where she used to look totally in command.

Wozniacki, of course, isn't quite the "last" woman standing. Three other players--Vera Zvonareva, Francesca Schiavone and Kim Clijsters--have re-defined their careers in the last several months, and are now among the elite on the tour. Clijsters and Schiavone have won majors; Wozniacki and Zvonareva have come close. And it's only a matter of time before Williams gets back into the groove.

Williams, Clijsters, Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Schiavone. One of them will probably win the WTA Championships. But what happens after that? Will Wozniacki finally win a major, or will she succumb to the same world number 1 pressure that appears to have weakened the confidence of both Safina and Jankovic? It would be nice to see both Safina and Jankovic find their way back, but we cannot count on that. And with the exception of Wozniacki, no one appears to be standing in the wings, ready to jump onto the big stage.

There are other questions that will not be answered until 2011: Can someone help Victoria Azarenka become less physically vulnerable? Will Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova improve her fitness, get over her service troubles, and become a top 10 player? How much more wear and tear can Venus Williams' knee take? What can we expect from Justine Henin when the new season begins?

Considering how the order of things changed this year, it is probably futile to make predictions about 2011.

Wozniacki reaches quarterfinals in Beijing and becomes world number 1

By defeating Petra Kvitova today in the China Open, top seed Caroline Wozniacki became number 1 in the world. Wozniacki's opponent in the quarterfinals will be Ana Ivanovic, who defeated 7th seed Elena Dementieva 7-6, 7-6.

Also in the third round, Li Na defeated Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-0.

In doubles, top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta defeated 5th seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-7, 6-1, 10-4. Chuang Chia-Jung and Olga Govortsova upset the 2nd seeds, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, 7-6, 6-2.

Rodionova in semifinals at Commonwealth Games

Top seed Anastasia Rodionova defeated Heather Watson yesterday and advanced to the Commonwealth Games semifinals; Rodionova also made it to the semifinals in mixed doubles. Sania Mirza also advanced to the semifinals.

The Games, held in Delhi, have been problematic from the outset. Prior to the start of the event, a footbridge collapsed and 27 people died. Two major structures collapsed, then a roof collapsed in the weightlifting arena. Members of a cricket team were wounded when their bus was attacked. Monsoons damaged the shooting range, and rain seeped through into the swimming pools. A swimmer was injured by tripping over a loose grill.

When the Games began, two cobras that popped up--one in the players' quarters, and one in a drain in a public area. Then a ceiling tile fell on someone's head at the media headquarters. Now, 15 swimmers have a stomach virus after swimming in the warmup pool.

This is the first time that tennis has ever been played at the Commonwealth Games, and the main attraction for the tennis competition is Sania Mirza, who is seeded as number 2.

Vergeer in 2nd edition of ESPN's "The Body Issue"

Wheelchair tennis champion Esther Vergeer is featured in ESPN's 2010 "The Body Issue." Vergeer is one of nineteen featured athletes (and one entire team). The series began last year, when Serena Williams was on the cover of the first issue. You can view the all the 2010 photos online; Vergeer is number 13. "The Body Issue" features beautiful nude photos of athletes of varying ages and fields of competition.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur have qualified to play in the WTA Championships in Doha, which means there are only two spots left. Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams, and Kim Clijsters are already in.

Here's a well-deserved shout-out for Schiavone.

And, in case you  missed it, here is the non-diva, great sportswomen, too-cool photo of the season.

Maria Sharapova is out for the rest of the season.

You can now get to know Bojana Jovanovski.

Venus Williams has a new computer game, and you can win a copy of it.

Wozniacki wins 2nd round in Beijing

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki, recovering from an intestinal virus, played her second round match today at the China Open, and won it in straight sets. She defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-2. Also through to the third round is Angelique Kerbe, who defeated Alexandra Dulgheru.

In third round play, 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva (def. Maria Kirilenko), 5th seed Francesca Schiavone (def. Vera Dushevina), 15th seed Shahar Peer (def. Bojana Jovanovski), and Timea Bacsinszky (def. Elena Vesnina) all advanced.

In second round doubles play, the ad hoc team of Agnes Szavay and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova upset 3rd seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Liezel Huber, 6-4, 7-5. The 6th-seeded team of Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova received a walkover because one of their opponents, Victoria Azarenka, is injured.

Rodionova survives stomach cramps to advance to Commonwealth Games quarterfinals

Anastasia Rodionova, the top seed in women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Commonwealth Games, had some trouble with stomach cramps in the second round of singles play, but easily defeated Larikah Russell, 6-1, 6-3. Sania Mirza, Olivia Rogowska, Marina Erakovic and Sally Peers also advanced to the quarterfinals, but Katie O'Brien--struggling with a shoulder injury and hardly able to practice--did not. Mirza has also reached the women's doubles quarterfinals.

Heather Watson won her second round match and will play Rodionova in the quarterfinals.

Sarah Borwell and her partner defeated Watson and her partner in mixed doubles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Svetlana Kuznetsova is recovering from illness and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Jill Craybas defeated Jelena Dokic 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the $100k ITF tournament in Tokyo. Dokic, who double-faulted 13 times, was the second seed.

The tour site continues its history of the original nine activists and organizers with a feature on Judy Dalton.

Three men have been arrested for hurling a barrage of racial insults at Anne Keothavong outside a hotel in Barnstaple, England. The men were also charged with a shoplifting offense.

The Australian Open is increasing its prize money.

Heather Watson won her first round at the Commonwealth Games. She defeated Tara Lambert 6-0, 6-0. Watson is seeded 5th at the Games.

Vesnina upsets Sharapova in Beijing

Maria Sharapova, the 12th seed in Beijing, was defeated 7-6, 6-2 today by countrywoman Elena Vesnina. All other seeded players survived today except for Victoria Azarenka, who retired with--here we go again--a left thigh strain.

In a match-up of two players who competed against each other in a thrilling Wimbledon quarterfinal, Petra Kvitova was again victorious over Kaia Kanepi. Kvitova won 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 in a match that lasted over 2 hours and 28 minutes.

Doubles top seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta won their second round match, 6-3, 6-3, against Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wozniacki latest victim of intestinal virus

There have been several walkovers and retirements lately because of an intestinal virus that is apparently making its way through the tour. The latest to suffer from it is Caroline Wozniacki, the number 1 seed in Beijing. Wozniacki is resting now, and will play her second round (she has a first-round bye) against Sara Errani on Wednesday.

If Wozniacki is well enough to play and defeats Errani, she will play either Petra Kvitova or Kaia Kanepi, who will meet in one of the more interesting second round contests. Should Wozniacki win her third round match, she would become the number 1 player in the world.

Radwanska out for remainder of season

Agnieszka Radwanska announced today that, because of a stress fracture in her foot, she will not play anymore this season. There is also a chance that she will miss the Australian Open. Radwanska retired from her Tokyo quarterfinal match because of the injury.

Venus Williams, by the way, was spotted walking on crutches in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Jankovic and Radwanska out of Beijing

3rd seed Jelena Jankovic was defeated today in the second round of the China Open by countrywoman Bojana Jovanovski. Jovanovski defeated Jankovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska didn't make it to the second round; she was defeated 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 in the opening round by Angelique Kerber. 11th seed Marion Bartoli also went out in the first round; she was defeated by Ana Ivanovic.

13th seed Nadia Petrova advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Alona Bondarenko.

Australians win on first day of Commonwealth Games

Olivia Rogowska won her first round match at the Commonwealth Games today, defeating Scottish player Mhairi Brown 6-1, 6-2. Top seeds Anastasia Rodionova and Paul Hanley defeated Nirupama Sanjeev and Rohan Bopanna 6-3, 3,-6, 6-3.

Rodionova top seed in Commonwealth Games

Anastasia Rodionova is the number 1 seed in the women's singles draw of the first-ever tennis competition at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which are taking place October 4-10 in Delhi. Sania Mirza is the number 2 seed. Both players have byes in the first round.

Rodionova and Sally Peers are the top seeds in women's doubles, and Rodionova and Paul Hanley are the top seeds in mixed doubles. Mirza will play with Leander Paes in the mixed doubles competition. Mirza and Paes are the 2nd seeds.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stosur out in 1st round of China Open

Qualifier Anastasija Sevastova upset Beijing 4th seed Sam Stosur today. In a match in which Stosur held a match point, Sevastova prevailed, 2-6, 7-6, 7-5.

Stosur wasn't the only seed to exit in the first round. Qualifier Roberta Vinci upset defending champion and 10th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, Gisela Dulko defeated 14th seed Aravane Rezai, and Kaia Kanepi defeated 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Also defeated in the opening round were Flavia Pennetta, Yanina Wickmayer and Daniela Hantuchova. They  lost to Petra Kvitova, Dominika Cibulkova and Polona Hercog, respectively.

With first and second serve percentages of 26 and 8, the Bondarenko sisters won only one game against Chuang Chia-Jun and Olga Govortsova. It took Chuang and Govortsova only 45 minutes to win.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Schynder advances to 2nd round of China Open

Patty Schnyder made a good start in Beijing today, defeating Yaroslava Shvedova 6-1, 6-4 in the first round. Also advancing were Kimiko Date Krumm, who defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Olga Govortsova, who defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Other first-round winners were Andrea Petkovic (def. Lucie Safarova), Elena Vesnina (def. Agnes Szavay) and Timea Bacsinszky (def. Julia Goerges).

Schnyder's next opponent will probably be Shahar Peer, and Jankovic will play a qualifier.

Wozniacki wins her 5th title of the year in Tokyo

Elena Dementieva's service game was so strong and dominant in the first set of the Toray Pan Pacific Open final, she won it 6-1. This was the same result she achieved in her first set against top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the New Haven final in September. In that final, Wozniacki came back to win, and she also came back to win today, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. And while the top seed did lift the level of her game during the second set, more notable was the fact that Dementieva's game all but collapsed by the third set. She lost the match as she was broken on a double fault, and that moment, unfortunately, reflected the state of her game in the second half of the match.

Dementieva has played 34 three-set matches this season in which she won the first set, and the only two she has lost were New Haven and Tokyo.

The new Tokyo doubles champions are Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. They defeated Shahar Peer and Peng Shuai (who had never before played together) 6-4, 4-6, 10-8.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wozniacki & Dementieva to play in Tokyo final

Tokyo top seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated 8th seed Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 today in the Tokyo semifinals. Wozniacki's opponent in the final will be 7th seed Elena Dementieva, who defeated 5th seed  Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-5.

In doubles, Shahar Peer and Peng Shuai defeated 3rd seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Liezel Huber 6-4, 5-7, 10-5. In the other semifinal, Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova defeated Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs 7-6, 6-2.


Venus Williams has withdrawn from the China Open because of her knee injury.

Retired WTA star Maggie Maleeva recently won the women's singles division of the Bulgarian National Tennis Championships. Maleeva first won the event when she was 13; she is now 35.

Justine Henin will play in the Diamond Games exhibition match in Antwerp in December. She will be joined by Kim Clijsters, Yanina Wickmayer and Francesca Schiavone.

Vera Zvonareva has qualified to play in the WTA Championships in Doha.

Anastasia Pivovarova has an elbow injury and will miss the rest of the 2010 season.

The following players and partners will participate on Hopman Cup teams in January: Alicia Molik (Lleyton Hewitt), Justine Henin (Steve Darcis), Kristina Mladenovic (Gael Monfils), Francesca Schiavone (Potito Starace), Ana Ivanovic (Novak Djokovic), Serena Williams (John Isner), Yaroslava Shvedova (Andrey Golubev). One more team will be announced at a later date.

Friday cat blogging--wicker edition