November 3rd, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: Rankings Drama to End Year; CoCo Hot at WTA Elite Trophy

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Serena sharing a selfie this week

The 2017 women’s tennis season — without a dominant player, as Maria Sharapova was sidelined with a doping penalty and Serena Williams having her first child — caused chaos on the WTA tour that ended with more chaos at the WTA Finals.

Seven of the eight players at the WTA Finals entered the tournament with the chance to finish the year No. 1. Caroline Wozniacki won, but Simona Halep, who lost in the round robin portion and won only one tournament (not a Grand Slam), was named the year-end No. 1. Worse for Wozniacki, turns out she would have finished No. 1 if the WTA used the ATP’s point system.

During the season the 10 biggest WTA titles were won by 10 different players. Regardless, in about six week’s time we’ll see who is most driven to be queen of the hill in 2018 when the Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne with Serena, Maria, the world No. 1 Halep, Wozniacki only a few ranking points behind, and this year’s additional Slam winners Jelena Ostapenko (French), brief No. 1-ranking holder Garbine Muguruza (Wimbledon) and Sloane Stephens (US Open) ready to show that their Slam trophy-raising efforts weren’t flukes. Throw in Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova who also rose to the No. 1 spot within the last year, and 2018 should be anything but boring on the WTA tour.



Roger Federer, by pulling out of the Paris Masters this week for precautionary rest, gave up his mathematical chances of finishing the year No. 1. The Swiss in his career has finished year-end No. 1 five times, one behind Pete Sampras‘ record six times. Subsequently Rafael Nadal clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking this week for the fourth time in his career, and at 31 years became the oldest player to do so.

“I’m very, very happy for everything,” Nadal said. “It has been an amazing year. One year ago, for sure I never dreamed about being world No. 1 again at the end of the season. It’s something that means a lot to me. But the season is not over.”

Players with multiple year-end No. 1 finishes since the inception of the ATP rankings in 1974 are Sampras (6), Jimmy Connors (5), Federer (5), Nadal (4), Novak Djokovic (4), Ivan Lendl (4), John McEnroe (4), Bjorn Borg (2), Stefan Edberg (2), Lleyton Hewitt (2), and single finishes by Ilie Nastase (1973), Mats Wilander (1988), Jim Courier (1992), Andre Agassi (1999), Gustavo Kuerten (2000), Andy Roddick (2003), and Andy Murray (2016),



Last weekend’s tsunami of events at the USTA National Campus in Orlando included the “Bobby Curtis” state doubles and orange ball championships, a USTA League National Championships, and capping it off the USTA Florida Halloween Spooktacular family event which featured costumed play and XGLOsive glow-in-the-dark tennis and games once the sun set…21-year-old Bradenton resident Vicky Duval is back climbing the rankings after rehabbing from knee surgery and further Hodgkin’s lymphoma complications. Ranked outside the Top 250 as of last week, she turned a wildcard at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Macon, Ga., into a runner-up result, and now leads the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge…Canadian ATP breakout player Denis Shapovalov is on the cover of the November issue of Vogue. The 18-year-old at the photo shoot learned he has model-ready hair…According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 40 percent of American adults are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S. Here’s how to fight itMaria Sharapova’s new chocolate line will be arriving this month on shelves in Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning and Burlington Coat Factory according to the SportsBusiness Journal. Sharapova also enjoys being a brand, and now she wants to design your hotel space…Here’s how the USTA can help with new court construction and renovation projects….If you’re a tennis provider, plan an event for Play Tennis Month in May 2018!


Isner, Sock, Stephens, Vandeweghe Into Weekend Play at Paris, Zhuhai

Coco Vandeweghe

CoCo Vandeweghe rolled into the semifinals at the WTA Elite Trophy after Thursday defeating Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 6-2 in her final round robin match in Zhuhai, China.

“I have been talking with [coach Pat Cash] a bunch, and he’s been very intense towards me about I work too darn hard to let these two matches slip,” Vandeweghe said afterwards. “So that was kind of what I was tapping into for today’s match.”

Sloane Stephens, 0-1 in round robin play, will attempt to keep her semifinal hopes alive when she takes on Czech Barbora Strycova on Friday.

John Isner and Jack Sock are into the quarterfinals at the Rolex Paris Masters after victories on Thursday. The No. 9-seeded Isner upset No. 6-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(10), 5-7, 7-6(3), and the No. 16-seeded Sock beat No. 17 seed Lucas Pouille 7-6(6), 6-3.

Isner on Friday will enter into a big-man serving contest against No. 13 seed Juan Martin del Potro, while Sock will face unseeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Del Potro needs a win to stay in the running for a spot among the Top 8 at the year-end ATP Finals.

“It’s extra motivation to me,” the Argentine said. Isner and Sock also remain in the running for the year-end championships but must win the Paris title.


They Said It

Ivo Karlovic

“Sorry to announce I will not be able to attend Next Gen finals in Milan this year due to injury in my left ankle. Hope to see you next year.”
— 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic, who’s got jokes on social media

“Midtown is a club in eight different states and this is our first championship in our 45 years of existence. We’re extremely proud of the ladies and plan a big celebration where they will be our guests of honor and given the White House treatment.”
— Midtown Athletic Club (Weston, Fla.) Tennis Director Laurent Leclerc on the Weston USTA League 18 & Over 3.5 women’s national championship team

“She’s always taken me under her wing and just kind of treated me like a little sister and made sure I was OK. When I was 16, she asked me to play doubles with her in Doha, and that was kind of the first experience I had with both Venus and Serena.”
Caroline Wozniacki after defeating Venus Williams in the championship match at the WTA Finals


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

9am — ATP Paris (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — WTA Elite Trophy (delay), Tennis Channel

9am — ATP Paris (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — WTA Elite Trophy (delay), Tennis Channel

6am — ATP Paris Doubles Final (live), Tennis Channel
9am — ATP Paris Singles Final (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — WTA Elite Trophy Final (delay), Tennis Channel