WTA Diary: Friday, April 27, 2012
Published April 27, 2012 07:26
Every week there's a lot happening on the WTA - on the court, off the court, by the numbers, even a few tweets... catch up on it all in the WTA Diary.
Four times in four months this year Victoria Azarenka and Mona Barthel have crossed swords, and the latest, which came in Stuttgart on Friday, was a bona fide classic. For two hours and forty minutes Barthel - whose entry into the Top 10 is surely a matter of when rather than if - gave the World No.1 all she could handle with her crisp hitting and exceptional serving. However, while Barthel won the hearts of her home crowd, it was Azarenka who won a place in the semfinals.
Relive all the drama from Azarenka's 64 67(3) 75 win at the Porsche Arena here.
This Monday Lisa Raymond joined her partner Liezel Huber at the top of the doubles rankings. While this is a mighty fine achievement all by itself, it was made all the more impressive by the fact that, at 38, the American is now the oldest player in the WTA's history to hold the much-coveted No.1 spot in either singles or doubles.
Fed Cup Roundup
Last weekend a Jelena Jankovic-inspired Serbia reached their first Fed Cup final with a surprise win over Russia in Moscow. Meeting them there will be reigning champs Czech Republic, who swatted aside Italy in their semifinal.
Meanwhile, in the World Group play-offs USA, Japan, Slovakia and Australia all scored wins to book spots at the top table for next year's event.
Smells Like Team Spirit
And after their 5-0 drubbing of Ukraine, there was certainly a feel-good vibe around the USA camp, with cheerleader in chief none other than Serena Williams.
"I absolutely love this team," Serena said in her post-tie presser. "I love Liezel Huber, she is just so amazing and so perfect. Christina is awesome as well and Sloane and I get along like two peas in a pod."
And Serena's admiration wasn't just reserved for the playing staff: "Mary Joe is a young coach, she hasn't been off tour for too long so she really knows and has so much experience," she continued. "It is a fabulous opportunity for me, I absolutely love it."
Get Well Soon
The WTA's stars have certainly been in the wars this week, with no fewer than 10 players being forced to retire or withdraw from matches in Stuttgart and Fès through illness or injury. However, while wtatennis.com wishes them all a speedy recovery, a special get well soon card will be winging its way to poor Andrea Petkovic, who just two matches into her comeback after three months out with a lower-back stress fracture tore her right ankle ligaments against Victoria Azarenka, sidelining her for a further three months.
And Petko's fellow pros were out in force in the Twittersphere with messages of support:
@mandyminella (Mandy Minella)
OMG poor @andreapetkovic i wish you a good recovery. the game and the people need you back quickly.
@tamira1990 (Tamira Paszek)
Was watching stuttgart on tv... sooo sad to see what just happened to @andreapetkovic :( wish her all the best and a quick recovery!!
Blue Is The Color
Unless you have been living under a La Caja Majica-sized boulder for the past few months you will know that this clay court season will see a first: blue clay. Yes, we've had green clay, red clay, so why not blue as well. Or that's the view of the folks at the Mutua Madrid Open, who this year have caused quite a stir by switching from red dirt to blue. And former French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur is one of many players intrigued at the prospect.
"If they have changed how the courts play, as well as the color, and the courts play better, that's great," Stosur said. "I think it worked well when the Australian Open changed the color of the courts from green to blue, but that's just a case of painting cement. This is changing the color of the dirt, and it will be interesting to see how it changes the court."
Happy Go Lucky
She may not be back to her brilliant best just yet, but in the past month or so Ana Ivanovic has started showing glimpses of the form that took her to French Open glory and the World No.1 ranking back in 2008. And according to Ana the secret behind this change in fortunes is a simple one: she's enjoying her tennis again.
"When I started playing tournaments, it was always like a game for me," Ivanovic said. "I loved the tennis, then later on people were like, 'that's your work.' It changed completely the way I saw tennis and competition. It became a burden.
"Now I'm starting to enjoy it like when I first came on tour and it's so much nicer to play, and you can see that in a person. You move freer and you're happier."