Player of the week: Francesca Schiavone

In Seoul, Italian Francesca Schiavone reached the final for the 10th time in her career, and was defeated for the 9th time. But she wasn't affected for another dissapointment and this week in Moscow she captured the most important title of her career.

The tournament didn't start well for Schiavone, as she lost the opening set to qualifier Nuria Llagostera, but this was the only set she was going to lose throughout the week. After coming back to defeat Llagostera, Schiavone consecutively defeated Monica Niculescu, Maria Kirilenko, Alona Bondarenko and Olga Govortsova in straight sets. She was playing her best tennis as she progressed to the decissive rounds, dropping just 5 games to Kirilenko in the quarters, 4 games to Bondarenko in the semis and 3 games to Govortsova in the final, eventually closing the tournament with a 6/0 set.

Next objective for Schiavone is the Fed Cup final next week, where Italy will try to get the title against USA.


WTA ranking as of 26-Oct-2009

Many changes in WTA Top-10 as points from last year Championships are removed. Dinara Safina recovers #1 from Serena Williams. Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka climb 2 places up to #4 and #6 respectively, whereas Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva move down to #7 and #9 respectively. Moscow champion Francesca Schiavone gains 7 places up to #16, whereas runner-up Olga Govortsova moves from #67 to #53. Luxembourg champion Timea Bacsinszky climbs 15 to #55, although greatest gainer in Top-100 is Tsvetana Pironkova, who moves from #126 to #99.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(2)Dinara SafinaRUS773118
2(1)Serena WilliamsUSA757617
3(3)Svetlana Kuznetsova


4(6)Caroline WozniackiDEN548526
5(5)Elena DementievaRUS541519
6(8)Victoria Azarenka


7(4)Venus WilliamsUSA439716
8(9)Jelena JankovicSRB355519
9(7)Vera ZvonarevaRUS355020
10(10)Agnieszka RadwanskaPOL334023

Week #43 preview: Sony Ericsson Championships

Sony Ericsson Championships, Doha (QAT), $4,500,000

As every year, when the season comes to an end it's time for the best 8 players to fight for the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships title. This year, the event will be hosted in Doha again. Players are divided in two groups, and luck decided to place Serena and Venus Williams in the same group along with two strong players such as Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva. Dinara Safina enjoyed better luck and will face tournament debutants Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka and late qualifier Jelena Jankovic. After the round-robin, the two best players of each group will progress to semifinals and the winners will fight for the title.

White Group: Dinara Safina, Corline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic
Maroon Group: Serena Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Venus Williams

In the doubles event, the 4 best teams of the season will fight for the title: Cara Black & Liezel Huber, Serena Williams & Venus Williams, Nuria Llagostera & Maria Jose Martinez and Samantha Stosur & Renae Stubbs.


Week #42: Schiavone and Bacsinszky win in Moscow and Luxembourg

Francesca Schiavone recovered from her defeat in Osaka's final last week and overcame her 1-10 record in finals to get the most important title of her career in the Premier tournament of Moscow. Schiavone defeated in the final surprising Russian Olga Govortsova. Agnieszka Radwanska, Vera Zvonareva and Jelena Jankovic were competing for the last spot for the Sony Ericsson Championships, which was for Jankovic, the only one of them to reach the quarter-finals in a tournament full of upsets. In fact, 2nd seed Jankovic and 8th seed Schiavone were the only seeds to reach the quarters, with Alona Bondarenko and Alisa Kleybanova completing the semis.

In Luxembourg, Swiss Timea Bacsinsky got her first WTA title after defeating German young talent Sabine Lisicki in the final. The semifinals were thrilling, with Bacsinszky upsetting 5th seed Yanina Wickmayer and Lisicki defeating Shahar Peer, both matches decided in very close third sets. Swiss Patty Schnyder defeated US Open champion Kim Clijsters in a 3rd set tiebreak in the 2nd round, but lost to Lisicki in the quarters. 1st seed Caroline Wozniacki suspiciously retired in the 1st round when she was leading 6/4 5/0 over local player Anne Kremer.

Moscow (RUS), Premier, $1,000,000
Final: Francesca Schiavone (ITA) def Olga Govortsova (RUS) 6/3 6/0

Luxembourg (LUX), International, $220,000

Final: Timea Bacsinszky (SWI) def Sabine Lisicki (GER) 6/2 7/5


Player of the week: Samantha Stosur

Already recognised as a great doubles player, with 22 doubles titles and finishing #1 in 2006 doubles ranking, Samantha Stosur is showing this season that she is also a player to take into account in singles. But, despite reaching the semifinals in the last French Open and reaching #13 in the rankings, she still missed a singles title and had a 0-5 record in finals. But her luck changed in Osaka, where she has captured her 1st singles title.

Stosur started the tournament in an impressive way and consecutively defeated Panova, Morigami and Craybas in straight sets and dropping no more than 6 games on each match. But in the semifinal she had a much greater challenge, as she was facing 1st seed and WTA #6 Caroline Wozniacki. After sweeping Wozniacki in the 1st, the young Danish came back to win the 2nd, but the Stosur held her nerve and closed it out. In the final Stosur faced Francesca Schiavone, another player with a horrible record in finals (1-9), so one of them was meant to break the bad streak, and it was Stosur who did it.

With this title, Stosur not only equals her best singles ranking at #13, but also qualifies for the Tournament of Champions in Bali, where she will be one of the favourites for the title.


WTA ranking as of 19-Oct-2009

Svetlana Kuznetsova climbs to #3 as Venus Williams falls to #4. Osaka champion Samantha Stosur gains two places to rank at #13, while Linz champion Yanina Wickmayer climbs four to break into the Top-20, reaching a career-high ranking at #20. Greatest gainer in Top-100 is Jelena Dokic, who moves 7 places up to #62.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Serena WilliamsUSA794518
2(1)Dinara SafinaRUS794019
3(4)Svetlana Kuznetsova


4(3)Venus WilliamsUSA589617
5(5)Elena DementievaRUS587521
6(6)Caroline WozniackiDEN557526
7(7)Vera ZvonarevaRUS481021
8(8)Victoria Azarenka


9(9)Jelena JankovicSRB396519
10(10)Agnieszka RadwanskaPOL372024


Week #42 preview: Moscow, Luxembourg

Moscow (RUS), International, $1,000,000
The Premier event in Moscow now takes place the week right before the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships. Due to this fact, some of the best Russian players such as Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova will be absent. But, on the other hand the tournament will present a very interesting fight for the last place for the Championships between Vera Zvonareva, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta.

Luxembourg (LUX), International, $220,000
WTA #6 Caroline Wozniacki and US Open champion Kim Clijsters lead the field in the last International event of the season. Other candidates for the title include last week champion in Linz Yanina Wickmayer, Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, Spanish Anabel Medina, and youngster Sabine Lisicki. Furthermore, the tournament will define the final places for the Tournament of Champions in Bali.

Week #41: Stosur finally gets 1st singles title and Wickmayer wins in Linz

Proving that her run to the US Open semifinals wasn't just a one-off, Yanina Wickmayer won her 2nd WTA title this season in Linz, beating Petra Kvitova in the final. Wickmayer defeated 1st seed Flavia Pennetta in the semis, while unseeded Kvitova had an amazing run to the final consecutively upsetting 6th seed Iveta Benesova, 4th seed Carla Suarez and 2nd seed Agnieszka Radwanska without dropping a set.

In Osaka, Samantha Stosur finally completed her successfully doubles career (22 titles) with her first WTA singles title. In the final, Stosur, who was 0-5 in finals, defeated another usual runner-up, Italian Francesca Schiavone, who had a 1-9 record in finals. The most difficult match for Stosur was the semifinal, where she defeated 1st seed and WTA #6 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets. Sania Mirza, who upsetted 2nd seed Marion Bartoli in the quarters, completed the semis.

Linz (AUT), International, $220,000
Final: Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) def Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6/3 6/4

Osaka (JPN), International, $220,000
Final: Samantha Stosur (AUS) def Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 7/5 6/1


Player of the week: Svetlana Kuznetsova

With all the big favourites failing to overcome the early rounds in the last few tournaments, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova was the only Top-10 to show a good performance as she captured the title in the big Premier event in Beijing.

Although she didn't have to face any Top-10 player, her way to the title wasn't as easy as it may be suppossed. In the first round Kuznetsova survived a very difficult match against local hero Jie Zheng that was decided in two very tight sets. After sweeping Anabel Medina in the 2nd round, Kuznetsova overcame the loss of the 2nd set to bagel Alona Bondarenko in the 3rd. This was the point when Kuznetsova found her best tennis, and in the decissive rounds she consecutively defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Nadia Petrova and Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets and dropping no more than 6 games on each match.

After winning Roland Garros in June, it seemed that Kuznetsova had lost her focus a little bit, but now she's back at her best and ready for the last challenge of the season, the WTA Sony Ericsson Championships.

WTA ranking as of 12-Oct-2009

Serena Williams recovers WTA #1 from Dinara Safina, while Beijing champion Svetlana Kuznetsova gains two places up to #4 and runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska climbs one to get back into Top-10. Quarter-finalists Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Shuai Peng gain 9 and 11 places to rank at #30 and #42 respectively.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(2)Serena WilliamsUSA794518
2(1)Dinara SafinaRUS794019
3(3)Venus WilliamsUSA644518
4(6)Svetlana Kuznetsova


5(4)Elena DementievaRUS587521
6(5)Caroline WozniackiDEN557526
7(7)Vera ZvonarevaRUS481022
8(9)Victoria Azarenka


9(8)Jelena JankovicSRB396520
10(11)Agnieszka RadwanskaPOL371024

Week #41 preview: Linz, Osaka

Linz (AUT), International, $220,000
The Austrian indoor tournament of Linz was degraded to the International category this season, but it still presents an interesting field led by WTA #10 and Beijing runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska and WTA #11 Flavia Pennetta. US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer, Czech Iveta Benesova, Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova and German Anna- Lena Groenefeld are also among the candidates for the title, while home crowd will cheer for local favourite Sybille Bammer.

Osaka (JAP), International, $220,000
Very interesting field also in this International event in Japan, with three Top-20 players: WTA #6 Caroline Wozniacki, WTA #12 Marion Bartoli and WTA #15 Samantha Stosur as the highest seeds and favourites for the title. But they will find a strong opposition in players such as Francesca Schiavone, Shahar Peer, Maria Kirilenko, Aleksandra Wozniak, Yaroslava Shvedova, Melinda Czink or Sania Mirza.

Week #40: Kuznetsova wins in Beijing

Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova captured the title in the big Premier mandatory event in Beijing after defeating young Polish Agnieszka Radwanska 6/2 6/4 in the final. The tournament was marked again by the early loss of the highest seeds, with none of the Top-3 seeds (Dinara Safina, Serena and Venus Williams) reaching the quarter-finals and with Kuznetsova as the only Top-10 player in the semis. Thus Kuznetsova had a relatively easy way to the title, not facing any Top-10 player. Marion Bartoli and Nadia Petrova completed the semis. Other remarkable performances include Chinese Wildcard Shuai Zhang, WTA #226, who became the lowest ranked player to defeat WTA #1, and young Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who upsetted Venus Williams for the 2nd week in row.

Beijing (CHN), Premier, $4,500,000
Final: Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) def Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6/2 6/4


Player of the week: Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova captured the Premier-level Toray Pan Pacific Open last week, her 20th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title and her first since returning to the Tour in May after being sidelined with a right shoulder injury for nine months.

Sharapova was pushed to the limit in her first round match by Francesca Schiavone, fighting from 64 42 down to win in three sets. In the 2nd she sweeped 12th seed Samantha Stosur by a clear 6/0 6/1, but in the 3rd round she had to come back again from a set down to overcome Alisa Kleybanova. The quarters were again easy for Maria as she defeated Iveta Benesova in straight sets, but she found a much tough opponent in the semis, and the match against 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska was decided in the third set. This set up an interesting final between two former #1s, Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic. Despite losing the first two games, Sharapova found her range to win five games in a row to lead 5-2 when Jankovic had to retire due to a right wrist injury.

After so long absence and limited performance due to the shoulder injury, it's great news that Maria Sharapova is back on the winning track. With Clijsters and Henin coming back to the Tour, the full recovery of Sharapova promises a really interesting fight for the Grand Slam titles.


Hot shot: Serena Williams poses nude for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue

Serena Williams was one of the athletes selected for posing nude for ESPN The Magazine's first "Body Issue" slated to hit newsstands Oct. 19. Williams was the only tennis player selected along with ATP player James Blake, and will be featured in one of the six magazine covers.


WTA ranking as of 5-Oct-2009

No changes on WTA Top-10 this week, while Agnieszka Radwanska climbs to #11 and Tokyo champion Maria Sharapova gains 10 places to rank at #15. Quarter-finalists in Tokyo Iveta Benesova and Magdalena Rybarikova gain 6 places up to #33 and #43 respectively, although greatest gainer in Top 100 is Jelena Dokic, champion in $100,000+H ITF in Athens, who climbs 12 places to #68.

CurPrvNameCountryRank pts.Tours.
1(1)Dinara SafinaRUS825019
2(2)Serena WilliamsUSA780617
3(3)Venus WilliamsUSA636718
4(4)Elena DementievaRUS601521
5(5)Caroline WozniackiDEN571026
6(6)Svetlana Kuznetsova


7(7)Vera ZvonarevaRUS516022
8(8)Jelena JankovicSRB482020
9(9)Victoria Azarenka


10(10)Flavia PennettaITA349025


Week #40 preview: Beijing

Beijing (CHN), Premier, $4,500,000
Asian season finds its summit at the Premier tournament of Beijing, one of the four big mandatory events in the season. The tournament takes place in the complex of Beijing Olympic Games 2008. Consequently all the top players are committed to play here. Only Ana Ivanovic, ill, and comeback Kim Clijsters will be absent. The fight for the title will be very open, as none of the top players seems to be at her best at this stage of the season. Russians Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva, American Serena and Venus Williams, Serbian Jelena Jankovic and Danish Caroline Wozniacki are the top seeds. Tokyo champion Maria Sharapova will try to confirm that she's back on top, while local players Na Li, Jie Zheng and Shuai Peng will count on the support of the Chinese crowd.

Week #39: Sharapova back on the winning track

Maria Sharapova captured in Tokyo her first WTA title since coming back from a nine months abscence from August 2008 and May of this year because of a right shoulder injury. This is Sharapova's 20th WTA title and first one since April 2008. Sharapova comeback from a 6/4 4/2 down to Francesca Schiavone in the 1st round, but after overcame all her opponents including Jelena Jankovic, who retired in the final when she was 5/2 down due to a wrist injury. Polish Agnieszka Radwanska and Chinese Na Li completed the semis, in a tournament where the none of the top 6 seeds, including WTA #1 Dinara Safina, WTA #3 Venus Williams and WTA #4 Elena Dementieva, was able to win a single match.

Tokyo (JPN), Premier, $2,000,000

Final: Maria Sharapova (RUS) def Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 5/2 ret

Hot stuff: Flavia Pennetta's spicy interview for Italian TV

Italian player Flavia Pennetta, the first Italian player ever to rank at Top-10, had an spicy interview for Italian TV show La Iene. There the Italian admitted that while being involved with ATP player Carlos Moya they shared hotel room and had "free sex" instead of abstinence. Pennetta also revealed that 3 or 4 ATP players have hitted on her, the last one a Brazilian player, althought she rejected them.

Pennetta thinks that "Haas is the most handsome player", although she would pick Marat Safin to get off with. On the other hand, she wouldn't get off with Federer, Nadal, Del Potro, Yannick Noah nor Maria Sharapova.The Italian also stated that there are many homosexual players, although no female player has ever hitted on her.

Pennetta also admitted to have had sex on a plane, grass and hard court ("court nÂș3"). The Italian points "Kournikova" as the most sexy player on the Tour, but considers herself prettier than Wozniacki and Sharapova.