Saturday, October 31, 2009

Quote of the day

"The relationship with the people—that’s what I missed the most."
Justine Henin

Spanish team goes to Doha final

The team of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez did today what few thought they could do: They defeated the Williams sisters in the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Championships. They will play Cara Black and Liezel Huber in the final tomorrow.

Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez, the "other" Spanish team, have had a great season. In their first year to play together exclusively, they won six titles, and were finalists in two other tournaments. Black and Huber, the number 1 team in the world, won five titles this year, and were finalists at the U.S. Open. They are 6-0 head-to-head against Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez.

Looking ahead to Fed Cup final

The last time the USA played Italy on clay in Fed Cup competition was ten years ago. At that time, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Monica Seles were on the USA Fed Cup team, and the USA won the World Group 1 semifinal. In fact, the USA has won all nine of its Fed Cup matches against Italy.

This is the first time that the two countries have played in a Fed Cup final. Italy defeated Russia to get to the final, and if Italy wins this year's Fed Cup, it will go to the top of the ITF rankings for the first time. Italy won Fed Cup in 2006, and the USA has won the title 17 times. Italy was the finalist in 2007.

Two Fed Cup specialists, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta, will be playing for Italy. Roberta Vinci has a 13-0 record in Fed Cup doubles matches, and her record will be tested next weekend if she winds up playing against Liezel Huber.

The Italian team also includes Sara Errani, and the clay surface is the choice of the Italian team members. Vania King has just been added to the USA team, which also includes 2009 Fed Cup stars Melanie Oudin and Alexa Glatch.

Williams out of Fed Cup

"I'll play Fed Cup if I'm not in a wheelchair," Serena Williams declared three weeks ago. I don't know what her immediate mobility plans are, but she does have to play her sister tomorrow in the Sony Ericsson Championships final in Doha. In the meantime, USA Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez has selected Vania King to be on the team.

Williams' thigh is bandaged this week, so we can probably expect to hear more about her condition soon.

Venus and Serena in Doha final

Defending champion Venus Williams will meet her sister in the final of the 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships tomorrow in Doha; Venus defeated Jelena Jankovic, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals. Serena won her semifinal when opponent Caroline Wozniacki retired, with Serena leading 6-4, 0-1. Wozniacki has struggled all weak with cramping, and retired today with an abdominal injury.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Doha: All fall down

I'm on vacation, but I'm following (and watching a bit) the events in Doha, and I can't shake an image I have of Flavia Pennetta, sitting in her house, shaking a bottle of Peroni at the television and muttering. Pennetta has had her share of physical vulnerability at season's end this year, but--judging from the Fed Cup final schedule--she can still stand up, which might have made her a worthy contender in Doha. She lost her chance, though, and the opportunity to wither in the heat and fall down in pain went to other players.

As it is, Caroline Wozniacki is having serious issues with cramping, though she has steadfastly continued to play, losing today to Jelena Jankovic. Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka retired with cramps today in the third set of her match against 2nd alternate Agnieska Radwanska. Radwanska was playing because 1st alternate Vera Zvonareva had to withdraw when she sustained an ankle injury. And Zvonareva was playing because Dinara Safina retired in her first match with a lower back injury.

Azarenka's retirement puts Wozniacki into the semifinals, but can Wozniacki play? If she cannot, the rules say that Azarenka may play if she believes she is able to and she has the permission of the tournament physician. And--in the strangest scenario ever--if she couldn't play, then Radwanska--who is about to undergo hand surgery--would wind up in the semifinals.

With me so far?

Enter Jelena Jankovic, who lost her first match to Azarenka, won her second match at 1-1 when Safina retired, and defeated Wozniacki in straight sets today. In 2007, Jankovic played herself into the ground, but Wozniacki must not have been paying attention because this year, she played more matches than anyone else on the tour.

The semifinal schedule for tomorrow involves a match between Jankovic and defending champion Venus Williams, and one between Serena Williams and Wozniacki. Venus Williams made it to the semifinals when Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Elena Dementieva today.

Doubles play begins tomorrow, too. Cara Black and Liezel Huber play Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs; Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez play Serena and Venus Williams.

Friday cat blogging--glamour edition

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quote of the day

"I don't even know what crystal meth is so, you know, that's what my reaction to it is. I haven't read anything about Andre Agassi's book. All I know is that I have a book coming out."
Serena Williams

Serena 3-0 in Doha

Serena Williams, having defeated Elena Dementieva in straight sets today, is now 3-0 at the Sony Ericsson Championships. Also winning in the maroon group was Venus Williams, who defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In the white group, Caroline Wozniacki defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-0, 6-7, 7-6. Zvonareva entered the competition as an alternate when Dinara Safina retired with a lower back injury yesterday. Now, Zvonareva has withdrawn from Doha because of a right ankle injury. For her part, Wozniacki developed a leg cramp at 3-1 in the third set, and was in considerable pain by the end of the two-hour and 48-minute match. At one point, she collapsed on the court.

Tomorrow, in the white group, Wozniacki (2-0 so far) will play Jelena Jankovic (1-1), and 2nd alternate Agnieszka Radwanska will play Victoria Azarenka (1-1). In the maroon group, Kuznetsova (0-2) will play Elena Dementieva (1-1).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Italy announces Fed Cup team for final

Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani, and Roberta Vinci will play for Italy in the 2009 Fed Cup final against the USA. Schiavone is undefeated so far this year in Fed Cup, and Errani has a 13-0 doubles record in Fed Cup competition.

Serena 2-0 so far in Doha

Serena Williams, playing another close match today in Doha, is now 2-0 at the Sony Ericsson Championships. Williams, a member of the maroon group, defeated her sister, Venus, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6. Yesterday, she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 7-5.

Williams' victory, combined with the retirement of Dinara Safina, makes her number 1 in the world again.

In the white group, Jelena Jankovic retired when Safina retired with a lower back injury at 1-1. And Caroline Wozniacki came from behind to defeate Victoria Azarenka, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5. The fifth game of the second set lasted 20 minutes, and had a bit of everything in it. Wozniacki and Azarenka, both good players, present a study in emotional contrast. Wozniacki appears to let most adversity slide, whereas Azarenka tends to become increasingly intense as a match goes on. Wozniacki, considered by many to be too depleted to compete at her best right now, hit 32 winners.

Tomorrow, the only white group match will feature Wozniacki against Vera Zvonareva, the alternate who is replacing Dinara Safina. Zvonareva was last year's finalist.

In the maroon group, Serena Williams will play Elena Dementieva, and Svetlana Kuznetsova will play Venus Williams.

Lisicki and Date Krumm get wild cards for Bali

Sabine Lisicki and Kimiko Date Krumm have been given wild cards to the CommonwealthBank Tournament of Champions in Bali. The new tournament features round robin play among the ten highest-ranked players who have won at least one International tournament, and who are not playing in the Sony Ericsson Championships. The addition of two wild cards means that twelve women will compete in the tournament.

The other players who will play in Bali are:

Marion Bartoli
Samantha Stosur
Yanina Wickmayer
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
Shahar Peer
Melinda Czink
Agnes Szavay
Aravane Rezai
Magdalena Rybarikova

The alternate is Vera Dushevina.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

USA Fed Cup team announced for final

Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has selected Serena Williams, Melanie Oudin, Liezel Huber, and Alexa Glatch to play in the 2009 Fed Cup final against Italy. The final will take place November 7 and 8 in Italy.

Sony Ericsson Championships--day 1

Day 1 in Doha produced victory for Victoria Azarenka in the white group, and for Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva in the maroon group. Azarenka defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-3. Azarenka will play Caroline Wozniacki next, and Jankovic will play Dinara Safina.

In the maroon group, Serena Williams defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 7-5, and Elena Dementieva defeated Venus Williams 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. Serena Williams' next opponent will be Venus Williams.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Justine Henin will make her official comeback at the Brisbane International in January.

Agnieszka Radwanska will soon have a surgical procedure done on her right hand. Radwanska has had problems with her hand for some time now. The world number is currently in Doha, serving a an alternate at the Sony Ericsson Championships.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, along with Tommy Robredo, will represent Spain in Hopman Cup competition in January.

It appears unlikely that Yanina Wickmayer will be suspended for violating the anti-doping "whereabouts rule." Rather, it has been recommended that she receive a warning. Wickmayer says that she had problems using her computer system password when she traveled, and that there was no one at her house to sign for registered mail.

Dinara Safina is again number 1 in the world.

WTA Backspin's Players of the Decade continues with players 11-15.

Luxembourg champion Timea Bacsinzky's new website is now online.

Round robin draw released for Sony Ericsson Championships

The white group and the maroon group will compete, round robin style, in Doha, beginning tomorrow, in the 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships. Here are the groups:

Dinara Safina
Caroline Wozniacki
Victoria Azarenka
Jelena Jankovic

Serena Williams
Elena Dementieva
Svetlana Kuznetsova
Venus Williams

2008 finalist Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska are the alternates. Venus Williams, who is seeded 7th, is the defending champion. The first match to be played tomorrow will be between Azarenka and Jannkovic.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bacsinzky wins her first title

In the Luxembourg semifinals, she upset 5th seed and Yanina Wickmayer, and today, Timea Bacsinzky upset 6th seed Sabine Lisicki to win the BGL Luxembourg Open. Bacsinzky's 6-2, 7-5 victory gave her her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title.

The doubles title was won by 2nd seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues and Carla Suarez Navarro 1-6, 6-0, 10-7.

Schiavone wins Kremlin Cup

Though she often found it difficult to win a final, Francesca Schiavone had no trouble doing it today. The 8th seed defeated Olga Govortsova 6-3, 6-0 to win the 2009 Kremlin Cup. Schiavone now has a 2-10 record in finals.

Yesterday, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova won the doubles title, defeating Maria Kondratieva and Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-2.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Schiavone and Govortsova to meet in Kremlin Cup final

8th seed Francesca Schiavone, who just doesn't stop surprising us, will play Olga Govortsova in tomorrow's Kremlin Cup final. Schiavone defeated Alona Bondarenko, 6-4, 6-0 in the semifinals today. Govortsova defeated Alisa Kleybanova 6-2, 6-1.

Meanwhile, in Luxembourg, 6th seed Sabine Lisicki came back from being down 2-4 in the third set against Shahar Peer, and won her semifinal match 6-3, 4-6, 7-6. In the final, Lisicki will play Timea Bacsinzky, who upset 5th seed Yanina Wickmayer, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blogging may slow down for a while

There isn't a lot of blogging going on right now, anyway, but there may be less for a while as I depart for a vacation. But I'll be checking in and doing my best to keep up with the Sony Ericsson Championships. The new calendar places them right during my vacation; I usually watch them upon my return. However, I think I'll get to watch some of the action while I'm gone.

Semifinals set in Moscow and Luxembourg

The big news today is that 2nd seed Jelena Jankovic was defeated 6-4, 6-3 in the Kremlin Cup quarterfinals by Alisa Kleybanova. The only seed remaining is Francesca Schiavone, who defeated Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-2. Also defeated in straight sets were Tsvetana Pironkova, who lost to Alona Bondarenko, and Vera Dushevina, who lost to Olga Govortsova.

In Luxembourg, Timea Bacsinzky defeated Katarina Srebotnik, Shahar Peer upset 4th seed Daniela Hantuchova, and Patty Schnyder--having taken out both Petra Kvitova and Kim Clijsters--lost to 6th seed Sabine Lisicki. Also winning, and thereby putting herself in another semifinal, was Yanina Wickmayer, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.

In doubles, the top seeds, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Patty Schnyder, were upset by the team of Vladimira Uhlirova and Renata Voracova.

Friday cat blogging--tote bag edition

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jankovic becomes number 8 for Doha

Jelena Jankovic defeated Lucie Safarova in the second round of the Kremlin Cup today. In an earlier match, Vera Zvonareva was defeated 6-0, 6-2, by Tsvetana Pironkova, who--this time--followed a big win (over Pavlyuchenkova) with an even bigger one. The upshot of all this is that Jankovic is now the eighth contender in the 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships.

By the way, we're just out of the second round in Moscow, and only two seeds remain--Jankovic (2) and Schiavone (8).

In Luxembourg today, wild card and 2nd seed Kim Clijsters was upset by Patty Schnyder, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, in the second round, and 8th seed Carla Suarez Navarro was upset in the second round by Shahar Peer.

Between them, Daniela Hantuchova and Lucie Hradecka, hit 18 aces. Hantuchova won the match, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Radwanska out of contention for Doha

Agnieszka Radwanska, until today, had a chance to be the eighth woman to compete at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, but her fate was sealed today when she lost in straight sets to Maria Kirilenko in the first round of the Kremlin Cup. Kirilenko is now 2-1 against the world number 10.

Flavia Pennetta retired in the first round in Moscow today because of a left knee injury. She was a contender to be an alternate in Doha, but today's events removed that chance. Rather, Radwanska will be an alternate, and now it is down to either Vera Zvonareva or Jelena Jankovic to take the final spot in the competition.

There were a couple of upsets today in Moscow, also. Qualifier Evgeniya Rodina defeated 6th seed Elena Vesnina in the first round, and Alona Bondarenko defeated 5th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round.

Meanwhile, in Luxembourg, qualifier Kirsten Flipkens upset 3rd seed Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Retirements in Moscow

Sara Errani and Sorana Cirstea both retired during their first round matches in Moscow today--Errani with a right shoulder injury, and Cirstea with a right foot injury. Akeksandra Wozniak and Monica Niculescu were the beneficiaries of the retirements.

Tsvetana Pironkova, who is known for sometimes knocking off higher-ranked players, did so today when she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenko 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Top seeds Vera Zvonareva and Jelena Jankovic both advanced to the second round, also. Zvonareva defeated Ioana Raluca Olaru, and Jankovic defeated Yaroslava Shvedova, the woman who took her out of the U.S. Open.

Jankovic won 6-4, 5-7, 6-1, and the sixth game of the last set featured eight deuces; Shvedova saved six match points on her own serve, and had a break point against Jankovic, but could not convert it. Jankovic hit six aces and double-faulted seven times.

Caroline Wozniacki--the new Jankovic?

Jelena Jankovic finally learned--the hard way--to stop entering every tournament on the calendar, so perhaps it's time for Caroline Wozniacki to give some thought to how Jankovic solved her problem. The world number 6, who hasn't been faring that well lately, retired today in the first round of the BGL Luxembourg Open. She did something rather sporting, in fact--stopping at 7-5, 5-0, and giving lucky loser Anne Kremer the opportunity to advance in her country's tournament. (One might say that Kremer is a very lucky loser.)

Wozniacki retired with a left hamstring strain, which is rather inconvenient when the Sony Ericsson Championships are just around the corner. Wozniacki has played and played, and--as many fans pointed out--would have done well to skip Luxembourg altogether.

In other Luxembourg first round news, Patty Schnyder defeatd Petra Kvitova, and 7th seed Kateryna Bondarenko was upset 6-0, 6-2 by Roberta Vinci.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Who will take the last slot at the Sony Ericsson Championships? Women's Tennis Blog breaks it down for us.

WTA Backspin's ongoing feature on the 25 best players of the last decade presents players 16-20.

Sam Stosur is now number 13 in the world in singles, and number 8 in doubles.

The people of Birmingham, Alabama are hoping their city will become a Fed Cup venue. Chances are good, based on the great Davis Cup event that was held there when the USA played Switzerland. Also, Birmingham is a delightful place to visit (contrary to the many snide comments made about the Davis Cup announcement by scores of ignorant people who had never even been there).

Sabine Lisicki is blogging this week from Luxembourg.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wickmayer wins Linz title

"I wanted to turn 20 on October 20 as number 20 in the world," Yanina Wickmayer wrote in her Linz blog, and she will do just that, thanks to her victory today at the Generali Ladies Linz. 3rd seed and wild card Wickmayer defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

Wickmayer also won the title in Estoril this year.

Top seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Katarina Srebotnik won the doubles title, defeating 2nd seeds Klaudi Jans and Alicja Rosolska 6-1, 6-4.

At long last, Stosur wins a tournament

3rd seed Samantha Stosur, who had previously lost five Sony Ericsson WTA Tour finals, did better today in Osaka. Stosur defeated Francesca Schiavone (who has her own history of problems with finals) 7-5, 6-1.

The doubles title went to top seeds Chuang Chia-Jung and Lisa Raymond, who defeated Chanelle Scheepers and Abigail Spears in straight sets.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Petkovic out in first round of Moscow qualifying

Andrea Petkovic, the number 1 seed in Moscow qualifying, is out in the first round. Petkovic was defeated by Kristina Antoniychuk, 1-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Also going out in the first round were 5th seed All Kudryavtseva and 8th seed Alexa Glatch.

Meanwhile, in Luxembourg qualifying, 2nd seed Stefanie Voegele was upset by Yulia Putintseva. Between them, they committed 16 doubles faults.

Michelle Larcher de Brito and Marta Domachowska were also defeated in the first round of Luxembourg qualifying.

Top seeds upset in Linz--Kvitova and Wickmayer go to final

First it was number 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska who, today, lost her chance to go to the Generali Ladies Linz final: Radwanska was defeated 6-3, 6-2 by Petra Kvitova. Then top seed Flavia Pennetta was defeated 7-6, 6-3 by Yanina Wickmayer.

Things didn't go as planned in Osaka, either, with top seed Caroline Wozniacki getting upset by 3rd seed Samantha Stosur, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4. Stosur hit twelve aces, and had 74 and 55 first and second serve win percentages.

Stosur will play 4th seed Francesca Schiavone in the final. Schiavone defeated Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-1.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Petkovic top qualifying seed in Moscow

Andrea Petkovic, the Kremlin Cup's top qualifying seed, will face Kristina Antoniychuk in the first round of qualifying this weekend. There are 32 women trying to qualify for the tournament. The field includes Anastasia Rodionova, Alexa Glatch, Galina Voskoboeva, and Alla Kudryavtseva.

1 upset in Linz, 2 injuries in Osaka

One quarterfinal in Osaka today wound up with a retirement, and the other was a walkover. Marion Bartoli retired at 4-6, 0-2 against Sania Mirza because of a right shoulder injury, and Melinda Czink's right foot injury caused her to give Francesca Schiavone the walkover.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated 6th seed Aleksandra Wozniak (why do they keep playing each other?!) 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, and 3rd seed Samantha Stosur defeated Jill Craybas, 6-1, 6-3.

In Linz, the top three seeds--Flavia Pennetta, Agnieszka Radwanska and Yanina Wickmayer--won their quarterfinal matches, and 4th seed Carla Suarez Navarro was upset by Petra Kvitova, 7-5, 6-4.

Friday cat blogging--gym shorts edition

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Golovin hopeful, but her return appears unlikely

Tatiana Golovin, who suffers from Ankylosing spondylitis, has been advised not to play tennis anymore. The small piece of good news is that sometimes, the symptoms of spondylitis spontaneously disappear.

In an interview in L'Equipe, Golovin says that she still has hope, but of course, she is looking for a bit of luck.

Hailed as a prodigy when she was quite young (she made the biggest jump in rankings history), Golovin injured her ankles repeatedly and had trouble getting her career going. After working for a while with Mats Wilander, however, she began to show just why she was considered so special. She started having back pain, however, and in March of last year, underwent surgery to have a large cyst removed from her left hip.

Once the cyst was gone, Golovin expected her back pain to be gone, too, but it remained. She was then diagnosed with spondylitis, and has been off the tour for a year and a half. If she does not return, it will be yet another sad tennis story, for she has so much potential.

Top seeds advance in Linz

The top three seeds at the Generali Ladies Linz tournament all advanced today in the second round. Number 1 seed Flavia Pennetta defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 2nd seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Alize Cornet, and 3rd seed Yanina Wickmayer defeated Alexandra Dulgheru.

Also going to the third round are Lucie Safarova and Ioana Raluca Olaru, who defeated Urszula Radwanska and Julia Goerges, respectively.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kvitova advances in Linz

Petra Kvitova defeated 5th seed Iveta Benesova 6-4, 7-5 in the second round in Linz today. Also out is Sybille Bammer, who was defeated in straight sets by Alexandra Dulgheru.

In the first doubles quarterfinal to be played, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka defeated Liga Dekmeijere and Marie-Eve Pelletier, 4-6, 6-4, 10-7.

Williams' number 1 position only temporary

However much Dinara Safina might experience relief (and who's to say if she really does?) from no longer being number 1, she won't be able to relax and just let things happen. When the Sony Ericsson Championships take place, last year's points will be removed from the rankings, and you-know-who will be number 1 again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Date Krumm out of HP Open

Wild card Kimiko Date Krumm was knocked out of the first round of the HP Open in Osaka today by Jill Craybas, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

Meanwhile, in Linz, 6th seed Sorana Cirstea was upset 6-3, 6-3 by qualifier Julia Goerges. Yesterday, 4th seed Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Katarina Srebotnik in straight sets. Srebotnik is not having an easy time of it, making a return from two serious injuries.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The China Open will feature a retractable roof in the future.

Sabine Lisicki's illness in Beijing turned out to be food poisoning. She is now scheduled to play in Luxembourg.

Serena Williams is expected to know by the end of the year whether she will face additional disciplinary consequences over the U.S. Open incident.

Here are the first five entries of WTA Backspin's top 25 players of the last decade.

BEST (Blue Entertainment Sports Television) has signed a multi-year representation agreement with Sloane Stepens, who begins her first full year of professional play in 2010.

Morigami to retire at end of season

Akiko Morigami has announced that she will retire from professional tennis at the end of the season. Morigami, who plays two-handed with both hands, has had problems with various injuries since early last year.

The 29-year-old Morigami won the Prague Open in 2007, and she was a finalist twice in Cincinnati. Morigami, who also has one Sony Ericsson WTA Tour doubles title (Memphis), was a member of the 2004 Japanese Olympic team, and a long-time member of Japan's Fed Cup team. She had a career-high ranking of number 41 in the world in 2005.

Henin gets wild card for Australian Open

Justine Henin has been given a wild card into the Australian Open, it was announced today. The 2010 tournament will be the first major in which both Henin and "Aussie Kim" Clijsters compete, following their return to the tour.

Henin won the Open in 2004.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kuznetsova wins China Open

Svetlana Kuznetsova won the 2009 China Open today, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Kuznetsova was seeded 6th at the tournament. She has now won three titles this year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Williams and Azarenka qualify for Sony Ericsson Championships

Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka have qualified to compete in Doha later this month in the Sony Ericsson Championships.

There is only one more position open in singles for the Doha event.

Hsieh and Peng win China Open

The team of Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai won the 2009 China Open today, defeating Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1.

In singles, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the final. She will compete against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-3.

With her win today, Radwanska returns to the top 10.

Friday, October 9, 2009

All-Russian semifinal to be played in Beijing

Two Russians--6th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 13th seed Nadia Petrova--will play each other in the semifinals of the 2009 China Open. The other semifinal match will feature 14th seed Marion Bartoli and 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

Kuznetsova was the Beijing champion in 2006.

In doubles, the final will be played between 5th seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai and the team of Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova.

Radwanska advances to Beijing semifinals

12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated 4th seed Elena Dementieva 7-5, 6-3 today in the China Open quarterfinals. Also upset was 7th seed Vera Zvonareva, who was defeated 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 by 14th seed Marion Bartoli.

Joining Radwanska and Bartoli in the semifinals are 6th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 13th seed Nadia Petrova. Kuznetsova defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3, and Petrova defeated Peng Shuai 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Friday cat blogging--box adventure edition

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mauresmo through for the season

A little over a week ago, Amelie Mauresmo decided not to play in Tokyo and Beijing, and now she has withdrawn from Linz and Luxembourg. Retirement, of course, is a real possibility, but for now, Mauresmo is just taking some time off to think about her future.

Petrova defeats Williams in Beijing

Hitting fourteen aces, Nadia Petrova--seeded 13th--made her way past 2nd seed Serena Williams in the third round of the China Open today, defeating the 2nd seed 6-4, 3-6, 7-6.

In another close match that had some twists and turns toward the end, 7th seed Vera Zvonareva defeated 10th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

In doubles, number 1 seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber were defeated in the quarterfinals by Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone, 3-6, 7-6, 11-9. This is the second week in a row that Kleybanova and Schiavone have beaten Black and Huber. Also upset were the 4th seeds, Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who were defeated by Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova.

Here is the quarterfinal draw in singles:

Marion Bartoli vs. Vera Zvonareva
Elena Dementieva vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Peng Shuai vs. Nadia Petrova

Pavlyuchenkova and Peng are unseeded.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Peng continues her run in Beijing

Following her upset of 6th seed Jelena Jankovic, Peng Shuai has defeated Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-4 in the 3rd round of the China Open.

Also advancing today were 4th seed Elena Dementieva, 6th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

In doubles, the 6th seeds, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Patty Schnyder, were upset by Yan Zi and Zheng Jie.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Dinara Safina's defeat in Beijing by Zhang Shuai marks the first time a world number 1 player has been defeated by someone ranked lower than 200; Zhang is ranked number 226.

The Australian Open is increasing its prize money next year by 4.1 percent, to $21.4 million.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley was recently honored by the people of the place she considers her hometown--Barellan--via the unveiling of a giant replica of her Dunlop racquet.

Heather Watson will play Melanie South in the first round of a 50k tournament in Surrey this week.

Russia has won the 2009 Junior Fed Cup title.

Enough. I realize that U.S. commentators couldn't care less about how to pronounce the names of non-American (which would be almost all of them) players, but could Kevin Frazier please stop saying Chris "Everett"? And why on Earth doesn't someone at Tennis Channel edit those segments before airing them?

Kuznetsova qualifies for Sony Ericsson Championships

World number 6 and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has qualified to play in the 2009 Sony Ericsson Championships. This will be Kuznetsova's fifth appearance at the championships.

Also qualifying this week is the doubles team of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. The team has more tournaments than any other team this season.

Serena Williams advances to Beijing 3rd round and number 1 ranking

Today in Beijing, after defeating Ekaterina Makarova and advancing to the third round of the China Open, 2nd seed Serena Williams once again achieved the ranking of number 1 in the world. This may take some pressure off of Dinara Safina, who has gone out early to much lower-ranked players two weeks straight.

Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka played for over three hours in their Beijing match, with Sharapova emerging the victor over the 9th seed, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5.

Nadia Petrova beat Daniela Hantuchova in a long three-setter, Peng Shuai upset 8th seed Jelena Jankovic (I'm not sure she should even have been playing), and Patty Schnyder--having defeated Urszula Radwanska--was taken out of the tournament by older sister Agnieszka.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Safina makes early exit in Beijing

Last week, Chang Kai-Chen knocked world number 1 and defending champion Dinara Safina out of the Toray Pan Pacific Open, defeating her 7-6, 4-6, 7-45. Now, in the second round of the China Open, it's wild card Zhang Shuai who has dismissed Safina, 7-5, 7-6.

That wasn't the only upset. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated 3rd seed Venus Williams 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Meanwhile, in a first-round match featuring two up-and-coming players, Alisa Kleybanova defeated wild card Yanina Wickmayer 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Sabine Lisicki had to retire in her first round match against Francesca Schiavone. There is an intestinal illness that is making its way through the tour, and now Lisicki has it. It's unfortunate that she had to retire again, but at least it wasn't an injury this time.

A little bit of good news: Dokic wins in Athens

Jelena Dokic won the 100k ITF tournament in Athens over the weekend, defeating Eleni Daniilidou in the final. Dokic did not drop a set during the tournament.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wozniacki upset in Beijing

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who--no matter what her opponent does--is never far from the net, used her many skills to upset China Open 5th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the first round. Martinez Sanchez defeated Wozniacki 6-7, 7-6, 6-0.

Qualifier Melinda Czink defeated Elena Vesnina 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, and 6th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Zheng Jie 7-6, 7-5.

In doubles, the Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko upset 7th seeds Vania King and Nadia Petrova, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

In case you missed it

The shot of the day on the final day of the Toray Pan Pacific Open. It's worth seeing.

Ivanovic withdraws from Beijing

Ana Ivanovic, seeded 11th, has been forced to withdraw from the China Open because of an upper respiratory illness. Virginie Razzano now becomes the 17th seed, and there is no word yet on whether Jelena Jankovic plans to withdraw, also.

Stosur upset in first round of China Open

Alize Cornet--remember Alize Cornet?--has upset 15th seed Samantha Stosur in the first round of the China Open. Cornet defeated Stosur 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Agnes Szavay, who appeared to be getting her game together again, went out again in a first round. She lost in Beijing to Alona Bondarenko, 6-3, 6-0. Also going out in the first round were Aravane Rezai and Sybille Bammer.

In doubles, the wild card team of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina defeated Jill Craybas and Alexa Glatch 6-0, 6-0.

Beijing qualifiers set

The following players have made it through qualifying in Beijing:

Kateryna Bondarenko
Shahar Peer
Melinda Czink
Yaroslava Shvedova
Urszula Radwanska
Olga Govortsova
Alla Kudryavtseva
Chun-Mei Ji

Kleybanova & Schiavone win Toray Pan Pacific Open

Despite the almost universal wish for Ai Sugiyama to win the final doubles tournament of her career, it was another veteran, Fran Schiavone, who--with partner Alisa Kleybanova--took the Tokyo title this year. Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova went up 4-1 in the first set, but were overtaken by Kleybanova and Schiavone, 6-4, 6-2.

Schiavone continues to surprise us. Just when it looks as though her career is winding down, she wins both of her singles matches against Russia in Fed Cup play, gets to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, defeats Victoria Azarenka and makes it to the round of 16 at the U.S. Open, and then wins the Tokyo doubles title.

Jankovic retires, Sharapova wins Tokyo

I sat down tonight to watch what I thought would be three knock-down, drag-out sets of tennis in the Toray Pan Pacific Open final. Instead, I saw Jelena Jankovic go from serving very well to hardly serving, and then retiring with a wrist injury at 2-5 in the first set. It's possible that this injury is related to the arm injury Jankovic experienced in her semifinal match; she had her arme bandaged during the final. It is, of course, unknown whether the defending champion will be able to play next week in Beijing, but it certainly doesn't look good for her.

Sharapova has now won in Tokyo four times, and this latest victory is her 20th tour title. Sharapova's serve is looking much better now that she has dropped the abbreviated motion, and a big win like this one is bound to do her a world of good in the confidence department. She still isn't cranking out aces, and her second serve is far from what it was, but she can make those adjustments. I'm impressed by some of the finesse I see in her game these days.

For those of us (and especially those who are JJ fans) who were anticipating an exciting final, Tokyo was a disappointment. But it was still nice to see two struggling players continue their return to form. During the ceremony, Sharapova was as poised as always in her speaking, but she shuffled back and forth the entire time, as though she were standing on hot coals. A year and five months is a long time, and she may have been a bit out of practice.


Sorana Cirstea, with Victor Hanescu, will represent Romania in 2010 Hopman Cup competiton.

Mallory Cecil has signed a multi-year representation agreement with Lagardere. Cecil won the NCAA singles championship as a freshman, and was the first ACC player to ever win the NCAA Division 1 singles and the NCAA Division 1 team championships in the same year. She finished 2009 as the top-ranked collegiate player in the U.S., and won both the Honda Sports Award and the ITA Player of the Year award. Cecil was named Duke University Most Valuable Player, and ACC Rookie of the Year. This summer, she decided to leave school and play professional tennis.

The website,, has been discontinued.

Serena Williams and her legal team have not yet decided whether Williams will personally make her case to the ITF regarding the incident which occurred during the U.S. Open.

One more time...Maleness is not synonymous with courage and positive aggression. It was bad enough last year when Serena Williams said she had to "man up." In Tokyo this week, Lindsay Davenport said that Maria Sharapova played "balls-out tennis." (For all the etymology experts out that--yes, it's possible that the term originally had a non-sexual meaning, but its meaning for a long, long time has been related to male anatomy and hormones.) To equate courage and positive aggression with only the male gender is inappropriate in any case, but to do so while talking about a women's sporting event is sexism of the most ridiculous nature.

Dominika Cibulkova has begun playing tennis again.

You can learn some things about Melinda Czink here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wickmayer to appear before anti-doping agency

U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer is scheduled to appear before a Belgian anti-doping agency for allegedly violating its rules. Wickmayer is accused of breaking the World Anti-Doping Agency's "whereabouts rule" three times in the last year and a half. Wickmayer has not missed a doping test.

Several well-known names out in 1st round of Beijing qualifying

Top qualifying seed Kateryna Bondarenko got through the first round of qualifying for the China Open, defeating Virginia Ruano Pascual in straight sets, 2nd seed Shahar Peer defeated Chang Kai-Chen, and 3rd seed Melina Czink defeated Natalie Grandin, but others weren't so lucky.

4th seed Melanie Oudin was upset by Alexa Glatch, 8th seed Sania Mirza was upset by Ji Chun-Mei, and 10th seed Jill Craybas was upset by Chanelle Scheepers. 11th seed Victoriya Kutuzova was defeated by Tatiana Poutchek, Angela Haynes beat 15th seed Anastasia Rodionova, and Michelle Larcher de Brito was taken out by Sun Shengnan.

Nuria Llagostera Vives moved to the second round when her opponent, number 6 seed Andrea Petkovic, had to retire.

Also out are Katarina Srebotnik, who was defeated in straight sets by 12th seed Vania King.

Black & Huber upset in Tokyo

The unseeded team of Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone defeated the world number 1 team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber, 7-6, 6-3, in the Tokyo semifinals yesterday. Their opponents in the final will be Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama, who defeated Gisela Dulko and Nadia Petrova, 7-6, 7-5, in the semifinals.

The Toray Pan Pacific Open doubles final will be Sugiyama's last match as a professional tennis player.

Jankovic and Sharapova to meet in Tokyo final

Jelena Jankovic had problems with her arm in the second set of her Toray Pan Pacific Open semifinal match against Li Na. Li had problems of her own, though, repeatedly setting up winning shots--mostly of a cross-court variety--and then failing to execute them. She missed so many of these that it was eventually surprising when she made one. Jankovic won the match 6-4, 6-3, and will play Maria Sharapova in the final.

Sharapova, who played Agnieszka Radwanska, won the match 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. There were 17 breaks of serve in this match, which had quite a few momemtum swings. Some time ago, Sharapova said that she intended to return to her full service motion; her coach, however, said that she would continue to use the abbreviated motion. Sharapova got her way: In Tokyo, she has employed a service motion similar to the pre-injury one that had served her so well for so long. In this match, she hit only one ace, but she also limited her double faults to six.

Sharapova has won the Toray Pan Pacific Open three times.

Friday cat blogging--grocery bag edition

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beijing qualifying 1st round matches of interest

The first qualifying round for the main draw of the China Open features a few matches that are worthy of our attention:

Number 2 seed Shahar Peer vs. Chang Kai-Chen: Both players have been on somewhat of a roll lately, with Peer making a comeback, and Chang getting herself noticed.

Katarina Srebotnik vs. 12th seed Vania King: Srebotnik is still trying to find her form, and King may not be the easiest opponent for her. If she does win, Srebotnik will then face either Peer or Chang.

Melanie Oudin vs. Alexa Glatch: 4th seed Oudin, who lost in Tokyo qualifying to countrywoman Jill Craybas, now has to play another American. Oudin and Glatch were both Fed Cup stars this year.

Down to 4 in Tokyo

It took three hours, but Li Na emerged the winner in her semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka. Li upset Azarenka 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

Jelena Jankovic reversed her recent losing record against Marion Bartoli, defeating her 6-4, 6-3 in a match that featured seven breaks of serve.

In the other quarterfinal matches, Maria Sharapova defeated Iveta Benesova 6-4, 7-5, and Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-1.

In doubles, the team of Alisa Kleybanova and Francesca Schiavone received a walkover from Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina because of Vesnina's thigh strain. And Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama upset the 2nd seeds, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual.