Player of the week: Ana Ivanovic

After Justine Henin's retirement and Ana Ivanovic's victory in Roland Garros, the Serbian was expected to dominate the WTA Tour. But an injury kept her away during the summer and after the break, Ana was struggling to get back to her best level, suffering some humiliating defeats, as the in the US Open against WTA #188 Julie Coin.

This week in Linz, it seems that finally Ivanovic has recovered her best form and has produced some good tennis. She started with two convincing victories over two dangerous players such as local favourite Sybille Bammer and Moscow Zurich runner-up Flavia Pennetta in straigh sets. In the semifinal, she had to face her most difficult test, as Polish youngster Agnieszka Radwanska took her to the third set, which Ivanovic took by 7/5. In the final, Ivanovic produced her best tennis as she passed over Vera Zvonareva, who is in a great form this season-end, by 6/2 6/1.

With this result, Ivanovic has to be considered back as a real contender for the Sony Ericsson Championships taking place in Doha next week, and for WTA #1 next season.

WTA ranking as of 27-Oct-2008

With no changes this week on WTA Top 10, Nadia Petrova moves from #13 to #11, while Luxembourg runner-up Caroline Wozniacki gains 3 spots for a career-high ranking at #13 and Chinese Na Li climbs 4 places up to #23. Champion of ITF $100,000 in Poitiers, 17-years old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova moves 11 places up from #67 to a career-high ranking at #56, although greatest gainer is runner-up in Poitiers Julie Coin, who gains 19 places and breaks into the Top 100 for the first time, peaking at #99.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Jelena JankovicSRB455522
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS375220
3(3)Serena WilliamsUSA371613
4(4)Ana IvanovicSRB368718
5(5)Elena DementievaRUS339918
6(6)Maria SharapovaRUS304012
7(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(8)Venus WilliamsUSA252213
9(9)Vera ZvonarevaRUS249725
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #44 preview: Quebec City

Quebec City (CAN), Tier III, $175,000
The last WTA tournament before Sony Ericsson Championships takes place in Canada. After Flavia Pennetta's withdrawal, Russian Nadia Petrova
and Austrian Sybille Bammer will be the only Top 30 players and top favourites for the title, although they should watch out local favourite Aleksandra Wozniak. Youngsters Sabine Lisicki and Olga Govortsova, veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn, Swedish Sofia Arvidsson and American Betthanie Mattek are the other seeded players.

Week #43: Ivanovic smiles again, gets title in Linz

Serbian Ana Ivanovic seems to have recovered her best tennis as she captured in Linz her first title since she won in Roland Garros. After an injury break during the summer, Ivanovic was collecting some dissapointing defeats during the last few months. Ivanovic reached the final with convincing victories over Sybille Bammer, Flavia Pennetta and Agnieszka Radwanska, in a though match decided in the third set. In the final, Ivanovic played her best to sweep Vera Zvonareva by 6/2 6/1. Zvonareva showed again her great level this season-end and reached the final without dropping a set, securing also a place in the Sony Ericsson Championships. Radwanska, who was also looking for that last spot for the Sony Ericsson Championships, and Marion Bartoli completed the semis.

In Luxembourg, Russian Elena Dementieva got her 3rd title of the season and 11th in her career. Dementieva reached the final without dropping a set, but there she faced Danish teen Caroline Wozniacki, who has completed a fantastic season. Wozniacki took the first set, but Dementieva came back to win the second and the third one was decided in the tie-break. Remarkable performance by 18-years old Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who reached the semifinals upsetting Daniela Hantuchova in the quarters. Chinese Na Li completed the semifinals and 2nd seed Anna Chakvetadze closed a dissapointing season with a 2nd round defeat to Iveta Benesova.

Linz (AUT), Tier II, $600,000
Final: Ana Ivanovic (SRB) def Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6/2 6/1

Luxembourg (LUX), Tier III, $225,000
Final: Elena Dementieva (RUS) def Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 2/6 6/4 7/6


Player of the week: Flavia Pennetta

Italian Flavia Pennetta had already some good results on clay, including 6 WTA titles in minor tournaments, but this season-end she's having remarkable performances on hard surfaces as well, as in the US Open where she got to Grand Slam quarter-finals for the first time.
This week she has surprised everyone in the Zurich indoor event. She started with an impressive 6/1 6/1 victory over Stuttgart runner-up Nadia Petrova, but her highlight was on the 2nd round when she upsetted WTA #1 Jelena Jankovic, who was unbeaten for the last three weeks getting 3 titles in a row. This victory gave Pennetta a lot of confidence and she booked a place in the final with straight sets wins over solid Top-30 players Katerina Srebotnik and Anabel Medina. Unfortunately, she couldn't finish her great week with a title, and after losing the first set in the tie-break, she surrendered to Venus Williams in the final.
Nevertheless, with this result Pennetta has climbed to WTA #14, achieving her highest ranking ever.


Hot gossip: Cibulkova-Melzer, new tennis couple!!

Source: laola1.at

According to Austrian website laola1.at, Slovakian WTA star Dominika Cibulkova is the new girlfriend of Austrian ATP player Jurgen Melzer. Cibulkova and Melzer, who played together the mixed doubles event at the US Open, are reported to be more than tennis partners. As it was reported here, Cibulkova was related this summer to ATP player Gael Monfils, while Melzer is a real lady-killer on the Tour, as he has previously dated Anastasia Myskina and Nicole Vaidisova.

You can read more here (in german)

WTA ranking as of 20-Oct-2008

Zurich champion Venus Williams climbs one spot to #8, while runner-up Flavia Pennetta moves from #17 to a career-high ranking at #14. Semifinalist Anabel Medina also scores a career-high ranking moving from #30 to #22. Czech youngster Petra Kvitova climbs 13 places up to #44, although Top 100 greatest gainer is German Kristina Barrois, who gains 17 spots up to #93.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Jelena JankovicSRB455522
2(2)Dinara SafinaRUS378221
3(3)Serena WilliamsUSA371613
4(4)Ana IvanovicSRB341317
5(5)Elena DementievaRUS323517
6(6)Maria SharapovaRUS304012
7(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(9)Venus WilliamsUSA252213
9(8)Vera ZvonarevaRUS237224
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #43 preview: Linz, Luxembourg

Linz (AUT), Tier II, $600,000
Indoor european season finishes with this Tier II in Linz. Serbian Ana Ivanovic will try to get her best tennis back with a look on Sony Ericsson Championships, but she will have a though rival in Vera Zvonareva, who is in great form lately. Agnieszka Radwanska, Patty Schnyder, Nadia Petrova, Marion Bartoli and Zurich runner-up Flavia Pennetta should be also taken into account.

Luxembourg (LUX), Tier III, $225,000
Russian Elena Dementieva is the first seed and top favourite for the title in Luxembourg, but Danish teen Caroline Wozniacki will try to add another title to her great season. On the other hand, Anna Chakvetadze and Daniela Hantuchova are not at their best this season, but will try to recover their best tennis.

Week #42: Venus Williams wins in Zurich

Venus Williams got the 38th WTA title of her career after defeating Italian Flavia Pennetta in the final of the Zurich Open. Pennetta caused a major upset when she defeated WTA #1 Jelena Jankovic in the 2nd round, breaking the streak of Jankovic who had won 3 consecutive titles in the last three weeks. On the other hand, Williams enjoyed a great tournament, defeating her opponents in straight sets until she faced Ana Ivanovic in the semifinal. Williams came back from a set down to Ivanovic in which was considered the anticipated final, as on the other half Pennetta was facing Anabel Medina, who benefited of Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka retirements. And although the Italian showed a big opposition on the first set, which Williams took on the tie-break, the second was clearly for the American.

Zurich (SWI), Tier II, $600,000

Final: Venus Williams (USA) def Flavia Pennetta(ITA) 7/6 6/2


On fire: Jelena Jankovic

Serbian Jelena Jankovic has been on fire on the last three weeks. Not only she's one of the few players who has won three consecutive titles in three weeks (Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow), but she has also shown a big superiority over her rivals, obtaining very clear straight sets victories in the finals over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva. Moreover, she has recovered the WTA #1 place in the ranking, which she held just for a week. And she has increased the distance to her competitors, almost assuring this #1 spot at the end of the season ranking.

Jankovic is one of the most athletic players on Tour. Her great speed, flexibility and resistance makes her the best defender on Tour. And she's the most regular player in WTA right now, as she's able to mantain her great physical condition throughout the season even if she plays many tournaments and matches.

She may not be one of the prettiest faces on the Tour, but her body is one of the fittest (and hottest). Furthermore, her possitive and original personality makes her one of the most appreciated players by the fans.


Player of the week: Vera Zvonareva

Russian Vera Zvonareva is fighting hard this season-end to get a place in the Sony Ericsson Champioships. And it seems she has found her best form back, as she's getting remarkable results lately.
This week she was playing at her home event, the Tier I in Moscow, which is always a big challenge for Russian players. Zvonareva started with a convincig victory over fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in straight sets, but it was in the 2nd round where she showed all her potential as she swept Daniela Hantuchova by 6/1 6/0. She got a place in the semifinals with another convincing victory over upcoming youngster Dominika Cibulkova, but that seemed the end of the road for Zvonareva, as she had to face the best player in the last few months and 2nd seed, country-mate Dinara Safina. But Zvonareva played her best to defeat Safina and get a place in the final without dropping a set. Unfortunately for her, there awaited Jelena Jankovic, unbeaten for the last three weeks, and she was too much for Zvonareva, who had to resign herself with a runner-up place.
Nevertheless, with this result Zvonareva has climbed to WTA #8, achieving her highest ranking ever.


WTA ranking as of 13-Oct-2008

Jelena Jankovic extends her lead as WTA #1 with her victory in Moscow, as Serena Williams did not defend her points as last year's runner-up. Williams drops to #3 while Dinara Safina reaches a career-high ranking peaking at #2. Elena Dementieva did not suceed defending last year's title and drops one to #5, while Moscow's runner-up Vera Zvonareva moves one place up to #8. Russian Ekaterina Makarova moves from #55 to #46, although the greatest gainer in Top 100 is Stephanie Foretz who climbs 11 places to rank at #100.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Jelena JankovicSRB455522
2(3)Dinara SafinaRUS378222
3(2)Serena WilliamsUSA371714
4(5)Ana IvanovicSRB328917
5(4)Elena DementievaRUS323518
6(6)Maria SharapovaRUS304012
7(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(9)Vera ZvonarevaRUS237224
9(8)Venus WilliamsUSA224712
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #42 preview: Zurich

Zurich (SWI), Tier I, $600,000
All the eyes in Zurich will be set on WTA #1 Jelena Jankovic, who will try to make history winning her 4th title in four consecutive weeks after her victories in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow. Venus Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska, who are fighting for a place in Sony Ericsson championships, will be her main opponents, as Serbian Ana Ivanovic doesn't seem a major threat at the moment. But this season end tournaments are full of surprises, as some players get in bad condition while others are more fresh, so we players such as Nadia Petrova, Victoria Azarenka, Katarina Srebotnik, Patty Schnyder, Flavia Pennetta, Marion Bartoli, Na Li, Sybille Bammer or Francesca Schiavone could advance to final rounds.

Week #41: 3rd title in a row for Jankovic, wins in Moscow

Jelena Jankovic captured in Moscow her third title in three weeks after victories in Beijing and Stuttgart. With this "hat-trick", Jankovic almost secures the #1 place at the end of the season. Jankovic was the only non-Russian player in the semifinals completed by Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva, but she fustrated the hopes of the Russian crowd and gave no chance to Zvonareva in the final. Ana Ivanovic suffered another early defeat, being upsetted by Dominika Cibulkova.

Moscow (RUS), Tier I, $1,340,000
Final: Jelena Jankovic (SRB) def Vera Zvonareva 6/2 6/4


Latent heat: Sorana Cirstea

1990-born Romanian Sorana Cirstea is showing a great progression in the last few years and is already one of the youngest players in WTA Top 50. In 2007 she made her breakthrough climbing from #348 to #106 in the WTA ranking, reaching the semifinals at Bali and reaching her first WTA final at Budapest. This season she has kept climbing on the rankings, combining very solid and regular results in WTA Tour with a few succesful appareances on big ITF tournaments, reaching the final in Bucharest, Cuneo and Athens. And now she has highlighted her season with her first WTA tile in Tashkent and her entry into WTA Top 40, reaching a career-high ranking at #39.

With a very varied gamestyle, she performs well in any surface and has got good results on hard, clay and even grass. She's got all it takes to become a big tennis star, including the looks, with a slight resemblance to Ana Ivanovic.


Player of the week: Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic is the first player to get two consecutive "player of the week" nominations after winning the titles in Beijing and Stuttgart. After an easy win over Alona Bondarenko in the 2nd round, Jankovic had to face Vera Zvonareva in the quarters, who was looking for revenge after losing to Jankovic last week in the semifinals of Beijing in a close match decided in the 3rd set. The match was again dramatic and Jankovic took advance of her stronger mentality to win in two tight tie-breaks. The semifinals looked complicated as well, as the opponent was Venus Williams, who could also secure her sister's leadership in the ranking defeating Jankovic. Venus took the first set in the tie-break, but Jelena came back to win in three sets. After these thrilling matches, the final against Nadia Petrova looked easier, and it was for Jankovic who got a comfortable 6/4 6/3 victory.
Moreover, with this title Jankovic recovers the #1 place in the WTA ranking, which she held just for a week in August. And looking to the points that she has to defend till the end of the year, it seems that she will be able to keep it at least for some weeks.


WTA ranking as of 06-Oct-2008

Jelena Jankovic takes WTA #1 back from Serena Williams after consecutive titles in Beijing and Stuttgart. Stuttgart runner-up Nadia Petrova moves 4 places up from #18 to #14, while Tokyo runner-up Kaia Kanepi gains 5 spots to break the Top 30 for the first time and reach a career-high at #28. Tashkent winner Sorana Cirstea climbs from #46 to a career-high ranking at #39, while runner-up Sabine Lisicki gains 14 places and breaks into the Top 50 for the first time. Fast movers this week are also Tsvetana Pironkova (from #52 to #44), Samantha Stosur (from #61 to #52), Magdalena Rybarikova (from #65 to #57) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (from #76 to #68).

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(2)Jelena JankovicSRB423022
2(1)Serena WilliamsUSA401715
3(3)Dinara SafinaRUS378222
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS347018
5(5)Ana IvanovicSRB328816
6(6)Maria SharapovaRUS304113
7(7)Svetlana Kuznetsova


8(8)Venus WilliamsUSA231112
9(9)Vera ZvonarevaRUS218224
10(10)Agnieszka Radwanska




Week #41 preview: Moscow

Moscow (RUS), Tier I, $1,340,000
New WTA #1 Jelena Jankovic will try to get her third consecutive title after her victories in Beijing and Stuttgart and secure her leading position. But she will find a very though opposition in the army of Russian players aiming to get a win in front of their crowd, headed by Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Anna Chakvetadze and Nadia Petrova. Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic should be also taken into account. The field is superb, including 22 of the Top 30 players.

Week #40: Jankovic wins in Stuttgart and gets #1

Serbian Jelena Jankovic got in Stuttgart her second consecutive title after her victory in Beijing last week, which also meant her return to WTA top place in the rankings. Jankovic had to suffer to defeat Vera Zvonareva in the quarters and Venus Williams in the semifinal, but the final was easier as she defeated Nadia Petrova by 6/4 6/3. Petrova seems to be recovering the level that took her to Top 5, although she didn't had to face any seeded player on her way to the final. Young Victoria Azarenka signed a remarkable performance reaching the semifinalst upsetting 8th seed Agnieszka Radwanska and 3rd seed Elena Dementieva on her way, while 1st seed Serena Williams suffered physical problems and was defeated by Chinese Na Li in the 2nd round.

In Tokyo, Danish teen Caroline Wozniacki added another title to her fantastic season after defeating in a 3-set final rising Estonian Kaia Kanepi. They were the top favourites after the early defeats of Maria Maria Kirilenko and Jie Zheng in the 1st round and Shahar Peer and Anabel Medina in the 2nd round. Slovakian Jarmila Gajdosova was the surprise of the tournament reaching the semifinals after entering the Main Draw as a Lucky Loser.

In Tashkent, 18-years old Romanian Sorana Cirstea confirmed her progression this season and got her first WTA title, after coming back from a set down to defeat young German Sabine Lisicki in the tie-break of a thrilling third set. Remarkable performances by other promising young players such as Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova, who retired in her semifinal against Cirstea, and quarterfinalists Urszula Radwanska and 15-years old Michelle Larcher de Brito. 1st seed and top favourite Shuai Peng was upsetted by Lisicki in the semis.

Stuttgart (GER), Tier II, $650,000

Final: Jelena Jankovic (SRB) def Nadia Petrova 6/4 6/3

Tokyo (JAP), Tier III, $175,000
Final: Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) def Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6/2 3/6 6/1

Tashkent (UZB), Tier IV, $145,000

Final: Sorana Cirstea (ROM) def Sabine Lisicki (GER) 2/6 6/4 7/6