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The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Oct. 18, 2022
Happy Tennis Tuesday, everyone! This week is the final week of the “regular” WTA season and the Guadalajara Open Akron has 1,000 points up for grabs. While that is a lot, it makes the remaining berths for the Finals in Fort Worth preeeeetttyyyy interesting.
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In fact, entering this week, 17 players have a mathematical chance of qualifying. Whoa!
*enter Oprah meme of “you get a berth, you get a berth”*
Right now, there are three players who have stamped their book for Fort Worth — Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and now, Jessica Pegula. That means there are five spots open in Guadalajara, but with the draw and the altitude Guadalajara brings, it’s anyone’s game.
Right now, the safest bet to next qualify is Coco Gauff, who already will be traveling to Fort Worth to compete with Jessica Pegula in the doubles competition. All she has to do is win her first match against Anastasia Potapova and Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Current No. 5 in the Race is Aryna Sabalenka, who has a very tricky opening match against one of the hottest players as of late, Liudmila Samsonova. Between Sabalenka’s go big or go bigger game and the altitude in Guadalajara, I’m calling for the Samsonova upset. I expect Sabalenka to still qualify based on her points, but she’ll need help.
A name I don’t think anyone had in their books to be in contention is Caroline Garcia, who has had a resurgent summer with a Cincinnati title and US Open quarterfinal. A second round match against Rebecca Marino can be tough given the conditions, but Belinda Bencic, who outlasted Leylah Fernandez to keep her hopes alive, could be hungry enough to knock her out.
Daria Kasatkina has a friendly draw to open up her campaign for a Fort Worth ticket, but Barbora Krejcikova is in her eighth of the draw and needs to have another big run to have a chance. Their third-round tussle could be a lot of fun given what’s on the line. I would circle that match as a must-watch if they end up playing.
Because No. 8 Simona Halep shut her 2022 season down last month, Veronika Kudermetova is currently the last player “in.” She will likely play wildcard Donna Vekic, who went on an upset spree in San Diego last week en route to the final. That’s another upset I’m marking down as long as Vekic isn’t too exhausted. She might be running on adrenaline entering this week, just like Anett Kontaveit did — who ended up nearly taking the entire Finals in the end. Maria Sakkari, a semifinalist at the WTA Finals last year, is No. 10 and needs to win her first match against Marta Kostyuk to have any chance of returning.
Those needing a semifinal result include Bencic, Madison Keys and Paula Badosa. Badosa is the top seed and plays Victoria Azarenka in her second round encounter. They had perhaps the best match of 2021 in the BNP Paribas Open final. Because Azarenka hasn’t had much tennis since the US Open, I slightly lean that match towards Badosa, but if anyone can pull off a big upset out of nowhere in this field, it’s Azarenka. Keys has only played the WTA Finals once — in 2016 — but I don’t know if she can reach the semis. A third rounder against Badosa would be mighty interesting and I’m crossing my fingers and toes for that to happen.
For Danielle Collins and Petra Kvitova, a final would be needed to qualify and they both have the game and mojo to do it. Will they? Likely not.
Other players in contention but need a lot of help include Krejcikova, Jelena Ostapenko and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
Krejcikova and Ostapenko have both qualified for the Finals with their doubles partners, Katerina Sinakova and Lyudmyla Kichenok, respectively. Kudermetova has also qualified with Elise Mertens. The doubles race is even tighter and there are plenty of mathematical chances to arise, so I honestly couldn’t tell you predictions there.
Next week, I’ll be giving my predictions for the round robin groups, so prepare your jokes!
Before you check out the links, click here to watch The IX alum and Texas native Blair Henley talk about the WTA Finals coming to the Lone Star State.
This Week in Women’s Tennis
Armed with a new approach to her tennis, Iga Swiatek continues to steamroll in 2022. She captured her eighth title of the year at the San Diego Open with a three-set win over qualifier Donna Vekic, while Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula won the doubles title over The IX alums Gaby Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos.
For the fifth time this year, a qualifier emerged with a WTA singles title. Anna Blinkova won her first title at the Transylvania Open after taking a three-setter over Jasmin Paolini. The doubles title went to Kirsten Flipkens and Laura Siegemund, who didn’t drop a set all week including their championship match over Kamilla Rakhimova and Yana Sizikova.
After a tough start to a 2022 season that has seen her play over 90 matches, Jessica Pegula is happy to be the first to qualify for both singles and doubles at the WTA Finals.
Though I didn’t attend the Major League Pickleball event in Columbus this past weekend, Kim Clijsters did after announcing she joined Tom Brady in creating their own professional pickleball franchise. The rise pickleball has had is meteoric and hopefully the WTA is watching closely on what’s been working before it puts them in the dust.
Congratulations to Elina Svitolina, who announced the birth of she and husband Gael Monfils’ first child, a daughter named Skai:
Some ITF/”lower-level” reading:
- Priscilla Hon speaking out about the abuse from bettors she and fellow players get following matches they both win and lose.
- Still bedridden from the effects of Long COVID she caught playing at a series of ITF World Tour events in Greece 15 months ago, Tanysha Dissanayake has been forced to retire.
- NCAA champion Payton Stearns saving multiple championship points to win another $25,000 ITF title in the US.
- Ghana hosted the Confederation of African Tennis for the first time, with ITF President David Haggerty in attendance. Haggerty mentioned if Ghana wants to produce a pipeline of players, they must invest in infrastructure that includes a National Tennis Center.
I mentioned Diana Schnaider being the one to watch out for, but get to know the — I’m assuming — soon-to-be NCAA No. 1:
Zendaya has been putting in the work for the upcoming tennis film, Challengers, and I hope her training pays off. It’s one film I’m eager to see next year.
Longtime hitting partner of Serena Williams, Jarmere Jenkins, penned a nice tweet for the GOAT after completing their stint together. I hear he’ll coach locally in the South Florida area, but I hope it’s not the last we’ll see of him on the WTA Tour.
Aryna Sabalenka paired up with tennis superfan, Fall Out Boy member Pete Wentz, for a charity event in San Diego and now I have Grand Theft Autumn/Where is Your Boy Tonight stuck in my head.
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Tweet of the Week
The Transylvania Open needs to be a mainstay on the WTA calendar and be on Halloween week. I don’t make the rules…
2023 Hall of Fame Ballot Announcement
Fan voting for the International Tennis Hall of Fame opens Thursday and the Class of 2023 ballot was announced. Last year, nobody reached the threshold to be enshrined, so that list is also eligible. Five at The IX alum Lisa Raymond is among those names.
The female names up for next year’s induction:
- Cara Black (Zimbabwe)
- Mainly a doubles specialist where she spent 163 weeks at No. 1, she won 60 WTA titles — including an Australian Open, a US Open, three Wimbledons and 3 WTA Finals. In mixed doubles, she also won the Career Grand Slam with one of each and another Wimbledon. In singles, she captured 1 WTA singles title and reached a career-high of No. 31.
- Ana Ivanovic
- A former World No. 1 in singles, she became the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam at the 2008 French Open. She also reached finals at the 2007 French Open and 2008 Australian Open. In her career, she won 15 WTA titles and reached the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slams in her career.
- Lisa Raymond
- Another player known for her doubles game, she’s also a former World No. 1 in the discipline for 137 weeks. Over her career, she won 79 WTA doubles titles, including the Career Grand Slam and four WTA Finals. In mixed doubles, she won a French Open and a pair of Wimbledons and US Opens each, as well as a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. In singles, she peaked at No. 15 and won 4 WTA titles.
- Flavia Pennetta
- Though she spent 18 weeks as World No. 1 in doubles, she also saw success in singles, peaking at No. 6. Her career ended in 2015 right after she won her lone Grand Slam at the US Open, but she won ten other WTA singles titles. In doubles, she won 17 WTA titles including an Australian Open and WTA Finals in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
- Esther Vergeer
- Perhaps the one player you can assure will be speaking at Newport next July. The Wheelchair GOAT had a singles record of 695-25 and a doubles record of 441-35. While she retired on a 470-match winning streak, she won 559 of her last 560 matches. In singles, she won 21 Grand Slams, 14 Wheelchair Tennis Masters’, and 4 Paralympic gold medals. In doubles, she has won 21 Grand Slam, 9-Wheelchair Tennis Masters’, and 3 Paralympic gold medals. She never lost a singles match at the Grand Slam, Wheelchair Tennis Masters or Paralympic level.
Something to note is that Serena Williams will be able to bypass the five-year wait and be enshrined next year, while Ashleigh Barty will be automatically included in the Class of 2027 ballot.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer|
|By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next|
|By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX|
|By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden|
|By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer|