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Tenaciously Tennis


As Roland Garros Play Rolls On, Schnyder Ends Distinguished Career

As the world’s top players on the WTA tour continue to battle it out on the red clay of Roland Garros, one woman who graced the tour with her tricky play will return to the Grand Slam no longer. A personal favorite, the 32-year old Patty Schnyder announced the end of her career on Saturday during a special press conference.

A perennial top-ten player in the world, Schnyder will be missed for her sheer talent and impressive results on tour. But accomplishments aside, there was something about her game that always intrigued me profoundly; I’m talking style and finesse. The spin that Schnyder used no longer exists to the same degree, especially with her left-handedness. That display of tactics made me appreciate the beauty of spin and the aesthetics of the game as Fabrice Santoro did for me on the men’s side.  As the women around her seemingly pound the ball as hard as possible, Schnyder symbolized a true diamond in the rough with a game like no other.

Adding to what personally enamored me besides her game (and similar last names aside) was one specific interaction I had wither. At the US Open a couple years ago, I had the opportunity to approach Schnyder after a doubles loss. Gathering my courage, and almost too late for she was briskly walking to the player’s lounge, I asked for an autograph. Schnyder agreed. Sure, she wasn’t in the best of moods, but she showed true poise in allowing a young fan her signature despite such recent adversity.

Giving her a yellow hat I received at the Grand Slam event the previous year, I fumbled with the marker. She took it, and there was my first signed item from a professional tennis player.

I’ll never forget that moment because I finally interacted with a player — an idol — on a personal level. No longer did these individuals remains just exceptional athletes relegated to on-screen entertainment, or even seem diminished as simply a display of talent. Instead, they became people, not Herculean celebrities. Here was a woman fighting her heart out to advance to the next round in the doubles competition, losing, and still having the decency to sign a nervous kid’s autograph.

I profusely thanked her and whispered good luck in singles. She nodded, left, and on walked away one of my all-time favorite tennis players.

Congratulations to Patty for an excellent career and good luck to her in any future endeavors.

For more on her myriad accomplishments, check out this bittersweet WTA article here.

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Schnyder Signals Potential Retirement for 2011

Veteran Patty Schnyder discussed the possibility of retirement this year after losing her Australian Open first round match to Lesya Tsurenko. Suffering from bronchitis, the former top ten player, now ranked 44th, did not win a set. She lost 6-3, 6-2 to the 157th-ranked qualifier from Hungary.

Schnyder recently told reporters — probably in her post-match interview — that “I haven’t made any commitments beyond the next one or two months. I’ll play Fed Cup against Israel and then Doha and Dubai. After that I don’t know.”

Schnyder, whose best major result came at the 2004 Aussie Open when she reached the semifinals, has had a difficult couple years at the biggest events. After making it to the quarterfinals at both the French Open and US Open in 2008, she has failed to get past the third round since.

In 2010, she did not play the Australian Open for the first time in 13 consecutive appearance. After losing in the first round at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Schnyder got to the third round at the US Open. There, she was a heartbeat away from advancing to the fourth round against Yanina Wickmayer, having held match points. In the end, however, Schnyder lost 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6).

With these recent, relatively lackluster results at majors, she has seen a dip in the rankings. Having ended the year in 2005 and 2006 in the top ten, Schnyder finished 2010 ranked 41st.

Regardless, she did enjoy two runner-up performances last year in the smaller tournaments at Budapest and Linz. Schnyder lost to Agnes Szavay and Ana Ivanovic, respectively, in those finals.

Fun to watch with her loopy, left-handed shots and ability to hit beautifully-placed winners at tricky angles, it would be sad to see her hang up the racket. In a sport that now places so much emphasis on power, especially on the WTA tour these days, Schnyder will be missed if she does decide to retire. At age 32, she’s been a professional for over 17 years.

Watch below for a fun video of Schnyder and Daniela Hantuchova playing some “street tennis” in Linz last year.

Australian Open 2011 Predictions: WTA Tour

Note: Please see my most recent predictions for the WTA tour’s 2011 Australian Open here.

Serena Williams is out of her second consecutive major, and that means only one thing: the draw opens up substantially. Who can rise to the occasion with the favorite out of the mix? Will it be Kim Clijsters, who comes fresh off wins at the US Open and the year-ending championships, and has done well so far in 2011? There’s also Caroline Wozniaki trying to prove her number one ranking by her maiden Grand Slam title. Last year’s finalist Justine Henin must be mentioned, while Venus Williams plays after a knee injury kept her off tour. The Australian Open this year is bound for some surprises. Here’s a breakdown of the brackets.

Caroline Wozniacki’s Section:

The top seed should make it to the fourth round with Wozniacki’s toughest competition being Dominika Cibulkova. The 29th-seed recently scored a straight sets win over the Dane in Sydney. In the bottom of that portion of the draw, Yanina Wickmayer could very well defeat Marion Bartoli with confidence inspired by her finals showing in Auckland. Bartoli, however, does enjoy a 2-0 head-to-head record over Wickmayer.

In the bottom half, last year’s finalist Henin looms as the 15th-seed with Svetlana Kuznetsova as a potential third round match. The reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone also looks promising to advance. Henin, however, has won seven of eight matches against the Italian.

Ones-to-Watch: Australian Jarmila Groth recently won the Hobart tournament and may pose trouble for Wickmayer in the first round. The two met only once in 2009 with Wickmayer pulling through in three sets. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Wimbledon semifinalist, who has been struggling since the result, also appear in Wozniacki’s bracket.

Bottom Line: Wozniacki has some tough tests, but I believe she’ll advance to the quarterfinals over Wickmayer. Henin shouldn’t have a problem against Schiavone.

Venus Williams’ Section:

Here’s home to the fourth-seed, Venus, who faces a couple tests before the fourth round. In the third round, Andrea Petkovic could push her. The two have never met, and Petkovic looks confident with a recent string of wins in Brisbane. In the fourth round, however, Venus potentially meets Maria Sharapova. The head-to-head makes the Russian’s  possible success slim as Venus leads 5-3 in their head-to-head. She’s also won the last three matches in straight sets.

It’ll be a toss-up between 2010 semifinalist Na Li and the ever spirited Victoria Azarenka in their probable fourth round match.

Ones-to-Watch: The other seeded players, Kaia Kanepi (no. 20), Aravane Rezai (no. 17) and Daniela Hantuchova (no. 28) also appear here.

Bottom Line: Venus will likely defeat Sharapova, while Li can take out Azarenka in a battle.

Kim Clijsters’ Section:

Possibly the most open part of the draw belongs to Clijsters, where she’ll no doubt benefit. Competition comes in the form of Nadia Petrova and Ana Ivanovic. Clijsters, however, should get through to the quarterfinals unless Ivanovic can out-perform her in the fourth round. It’ll be an interesting match between Clijsters and Dinara Safina in the first round.

With a struggling Jelena Jankovic as the seventh-seed (she’s lost eight of her last matches, including six straight) at the top, the section looks perfect for an up-and-comer to make a move. Agnieszka Radwanska (no. 12), although she’s battling some injury, might do well. Jankovic can also squeak through the bracket as she has before. One never knows with the former world number one.

Ones-to-Watch: Personal favorite Patty Schnyder could meet Ivanovic in the second round. Greta Arn, the surprise winner of Auckland, also appears in this section, facing the 26th-seed, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, in the first round.

Bottom Line: Jankovic looks like a big question mark, while Clijsters should sail through to the second week.

Vera Zvonareva’s Section:

One of the strongest sections of the 2011 Australian Open on the WTA tour, this bracket is home to the second-seeded Zvonareva and home-favorite Sam Stosur (no. 5). These two names stand above the rest, although there are some, such as Petra Kvitova (no. 25), Shahar Peer (no. 10), and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (no. 16), who serve as fierce competition.

In a potential fourth round match, Kvitova, who won Brisbane — but lost in a walkover at Sydney — would face Stosur. The Australian hasn’t been quite up to form as she lost to Kuznetsova in Sydney’s second round.  Israel’s Peer would probably face the victor. Zvonareva lost to Flavia Pennetta — also of this bracket — early in Sydney. Zvonareva should, however, shake off the loss to make a run to the quarterfinals.

Ones-to-Watch: American Melanie Oudin might make a move in her section of the draw, where she’d face Zvonareva in a potential third round match. There’s also Maria Kirilenko (no. 22) and Anna Chakvetadze.

Bottom Line: It looks like Zvonareva and Stosur get through to the quarterfinals, but not without some strong tests from a number of good competition.

In the Quarterfinals: With the above predictions, the quarterfinals will showcase Wozniacki against Henin; Venus against Li; (potentially) Jankovic against Clijsters; and Stosur versus Zvonareva.

In the Semifinals: Watch for Henin to face Venus and Clijsters against Zvonareva in the final four.

Ivanovic Stuns Schnyder to Win First Title in Two Years

Posted in Ana Ivanovic,Patty Schnyder,Serena Williams,Venus Williams by Ben on October 19, 2010

Ana Ivanovic is back.

While it wasn’t at the largest of tournaments, her 6-1, 6-2 win against Patty Schnyder at the Generali Ladies proves she regaining the confidence and the game that took her to number one just a couple of years ago. Interestingly enough, the Generali Ladies title was her last victory in 2008 before the French Open champion started faltering. This time, Ivanovic looked dominant for the first time in awhile, failing to lose a set throughout the tournament.

At the same time, praise should be given to the veteran Schnyder, who has had a strong season. She made it to a final earlier in the year and has proven that her technical game still holds up well to many of the more physical players on tour. Schnyder has also had success at the Generali Ladies tournament in the past, advancing to the finals twice before in 2005 and 2007.

Schnyder simply couldn’t handle Ivanovic’s spot on execution. She failed to hold serve until the second set when Ivanovic led 5-0. “Respect for Ana, there was nothing in it for me. She took the balls so early and placed them so well,” said Schnyder of Ivanovic’s play.

With the win, Ivanovic also sees a boost in her ranking to 26th in the world, up three spots from the previous week. Schnyder, meanwhile, finds herself at 43rd, up from 47th.

If Ivanovic and Schnyder can keep up the form in 2011, they should be interesting additions to a field that’s getting stronger by the month. That is, if everyone can keep their injuries in check. Most notably: Serena and Venus Williams. That, however, is another story for another time.

Schnyder Saves Match Points, Meets Ivanovic in Final

Posted in Ana Ivanovic,Andrea Petkovic,Patty Schnyder,Roberta Vinci by Ben on October 16, 2010

Patty Schnyder saved two match points in her match against Andrea Petkovic to make it to her second final this year. She advanced in a tough 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 battle after “serving at 4-5, 15-40 down in the deciding set against Petkovic,” according to a recent Associated Press article. Schnyder has made it to the finals at the Generali Ladies tournament twice before in 2005 and 2007. Both times, however, she failed to win the tournament. This time around, it’ll be just as difficult as Ana Ivanovic routed Roberta Vinci 6-3, 7-5 to make her first final in 19 months.

In fact, Ivanovic’s last WTA tour title came at the Linz tournament in 2008. Will she prove to everyone that she’s truly back with a win against Schnyder in the final? A lot seems to be pointing to just that result. First, Schnyder had a much more difficult time in her semifinal match. Therefore, she’ll be the more tired of the two and less physically fit. Second, while the career head-to-head between Schnyder and Ivanovic is locked at 4-all, Ivanovic has won the last four meetings in dominating fashion. Therefore, Ivanovic has the confidence (and the record) to win.

Regardless, I’m not so sure that the match will be decided in such a lopsided manner this time around. Schnyder’s season has been stronger and before the semifinals, she ousted her opponents in a decisive manner.

In short, I predict that Ivanovic claims her first title of the year in three sets.

Schnyder Reaches Third Semifinal; Thoughts on Ivanovic’s Bathroom Break

Veteran Patty Schnyder continues to make noise on tour at the smaller events with her recent upset of Daniela Hantuchova at the Generali Ladies tournament in Linz. This semifinal appearance marks her third for the season, having advanced to the finals in Budapest and the final four in Prague back in July. Schnyder beat Hantuchova in a routine 6-4, 6-4 win as the world’s 47th-ranked player.

Up next for Schnyder is Andrea Petkovic, who is currently ranked 36. The two last met in 2009 at the Budapest tournament. There, Schnyder won 7-6 (3), 6-3. As a personal favorite and an experienced player with a strong record this year, I’ll take Schnyder over Petkovic in straight sets. Schnyder’s done well so far this tournament. In fact, she hasn’t dropped a set so far. I predict that she continues the same trend to make the finals. There, she has the chance to meet either Roberta Vinci, or a resurgent Ana Ivanovic.

Speaking of Ivanovic, what’s up with the recent bathroom break / game deduction that Ivanovic suffered during her match against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. After holding to lead 1-0, Ivanovic left the court to use the bathroom, complaining of stomach problems related to yogurt consumption. “When she returned,” writes a recent Associated Press article, “the match was tied 1-1.”

Although it’s typical for players to use the restroom after the conclusion of the first set, they may also go before preparing to serve. Ivanovic, however, believed the chair umpired had agreed to let her go before Strycova’s service. That, obviously, wasn’t the case. Ivanovic blames the lost game on a miscommunication. “I was really surprised to be punished,” she told reporters.

Regardless, Ivanovic didn’t lose focus. Instead, she won 6-3, 6-2. Now, she has a strong chance to face Schnyder in the finals in what would be an exciting match. Schnyder will need any free points she can possibly get, although their career head-to-head is locked at 4-all Ivanovic has taken the last four matches. During their last meeting during the 2008 French Open, Ivanovic won 6-3, 6-2. I strongly doubt that Ivanovic will be taking more bathroom breaks before her opponent’s serve any time soon.

US Open Predictions – WTA Tour

The action at the US Open has begun. Without Serena Williams and Justine Henin, the year’s final major looks open for the taking. Here are my thoughts on the tournament.

Caroline Wozniacki’s Quarter:

Wozniacki looks sharp as the number one seed. She’s won three US Open Series titles in a row, capturing the Pilot Pen Tournament just a few days ago. She won the Series and could very well dominate the competition on her way to a major title. But before we look that far ahead, Maria Sharapova looms in her future as a potential fourth round match.

In that set-up, I take Wozniacki’s consistency over Sharapova’s experience, drive, and power. Plus, Sharapova needed three sets in her first round win to advance. I say Wozniacki wins in three sets.

Other notables: Aravane Rezai, the 18th seed, is one to watch, possibly meeting Sharapova in the third round.

Na Li’s Quarter:

The highest seed in this section of the draw got knocked out early on. Therefore, the stage is set for Svetlana Kuznetsova to get to the quarterfinals. Maria Kirilenko, however, recently got the the semifinals at the Pilot Pen Tournament. Can she make another big move at a major, like this year’s Australian Open?

Other notables: Kateryna Bondarenko beat Li. Will her form continue against a tough Dominika Cibulkova in the next round? If so, a fourth round result might just be in the cards for her.

Jelena Jankovic’s Quarter:

Jankovic isn’t a threat for the title in my opinion. She’s coming off of injury and needed three sets to get to the second round. If the seeding stays true to form, she could very well lose to Yanina Wickmayer, the 15th seed, in the fourth round.

Other notables: Kaia Kanepi, the Wimbledon quarterfinalist, might make some noise against Jankovic in a possible third round match. Personal favorite and veteran Patty Schnyder gets a shout-out for her dominating 6-1, 6-3 win over Kirsten Flipkins in the first round.

Vera Zvonareva’s Quarter:

This is a tough section with Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska heading the field. Zvonareva, this year’s Wimbledon finalist, should get to the fourth round without a problem. I see her playing against Radwanska to decide the quarterfinal spot.

Radwanska wins that match in three, using finesse, tactics, and superb counter-punching consistency to get inside Zvonareva’s head.

Other notables: Nadia Petrova, the Pilot Pen Tennis finalist, already lost to Andrea Petkovic, while Bethanie Mattek-Sands should find strong support at her home major.

Francesca Schiavone’s Quarter:

In what I view as the hardest section of the field, the French Open winner won’t live up to expectations. Instead, I’m rooting for Melanie Oudin, last year’s fairytale story, to get to the fourth round. Against her could be either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sania Mirza, or Victoria Azarenka. The seeding says Azarenka, but I’ve been seeing great things from Pavlyuchenkova lately. Then again, Mirza’s back in action, and looked sharp in her qualifying matches and especially against Michelle Larcher de Brito in the first round.

Other notables: Can Alona Bondarenko find some surprise honeymoon success?

Venus Williams’ Section:

Okay, so the draw doesn’t get much easier in this section. Shahar Peer, Flavia Pennetta, Tsvetana Pironkova, and Venus are all contenders. I’ll take Venus to exact revenge over Pironkova, who beat her in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in straight sets during potential third round action.

The winner of that match could face Pennetta, although I’m a fan of Peer’s game.

Other notables: Can Pironkova bring the same amount of trickery against Venis this time around? Probably not.

Sam Stosur’s Quarter:

Elena Dementieva immediately comes to mind as the winner for this part of the draw. Stosur did well to get to the French Open final, but her form has suffered since then. Dementieva lost in a close match against Wozniacki and will bring that same drive and intensity in search of her first major title. She wants it badly. I’ll predict she advances in straight sets to the quarterfinals.

Other notables: I’m curious to see if Vania King can beat Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated an ailing Dinara Safina, in the second round. I hope King gets a lot of love from the New York City crowd.

Kim Clijsters’ Quarter:

Clijsters is likely to dominate this field. While Petra Kvitova plays a big, athletic game that got her all the way to the Wimbledon semifinals, she doesn’t have the experience to beat last year’s champion. Clijsters’ opponent for a spot in the quarters, however, is by no means locked. Ana Ivanovic, Marion Bartoli, and Jie Zheng are all big threats. Regardless, I’m not overly worried.

Other notables: Ivanovic versus Zheng should be an interesting match. Is the Serb ready for the top tier once more? I hope so. She looked promising in Cincinnati before withdrawing from injury against Clijsters in the semifinals.

The Quarters and Semis:

In the top half, Wozniacki beats Kuznetsova in two sets to make the semis. She’ll face the winner of Radwanska and Wickmayer. I like the chances of Wozniacki versus Radwanska. who takes out Zvonareva, in this semifinal section.

In the other matches, Azarenka loses to Venus, while Clijsters and Dementieva battle it out. Clijsters prevails in three sets.

The final four: Wozniacki against Radwanska, and Venus versus Clijsters.

US Open Qualifying: Day Three

The skies opened up, and a beautiful day of tennis ensued at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. On my second visit to the home of the year’s final major, I made my way through throngs of fans to find some of the most promising American talent.

After arriving in the early afternoon — missing Jesse Levine’s heartbreaking loss to Brazil’s Caio Zampieri due to retirement — I arrived at Court 7. The match featured the 21st seed Maria Elena Camerin of Italy against the 15-year old Madison Keys of Florida. Keys began her Grand Slam debut firing away to capture an early break against Camerin. Nerves, however, set in with the players trading breaks until Keys pulled away to take the first set 6-3.

The young American, who trains at the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton, hit crisp backhands, while sporting a powerful serve and a strong mental game. Errors started to creep in Keys’ game as Camerin found her form — although never her serve. While the young American lost in the next two sets, bowing out against her 28-year old opponent3-6, 6-3, 6-4, expect success from her in the future once she finds increased consistency.

Also noteworthy about the match and the US Open atmosphere in general: after the first couple games finished, I looked up to see Keys’ mother enter the stands. Another arrival: Tom Gullikson, the brother of Tim Gullikson, who was Pete Sampras’ former coach. I suspect Tom works with Keys in Florida, the state in which he resides. Sightings like this happened for most of the day, once again highlighting the wonderful atmosphere for which the qualifying tournament shines.

With that match over, I went to Louis Armstrong stadium, catching Gael Monfils hitting. In the nearby court, the Australian Open finalist and world number four Andy Murray was practicing with the 25th-ranked Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Talk about a fan-friendly experience — for free!

On the way to see the men practicing, I ran into Melanie Oudin — my second sighting of the Georgia teenager at the qualifying event. In fact, over the course of the day, I saw Oudin a number of times, supporting her compatriot Sloane Stephens and other Americans, among others.

I caught most of the 17-year old Stephens’ match, and I can safely say that she’s another one to watch. Currently ranked inside the top 300 in the world, Stephens enjoyed a good run at the BNP Paribas Open during which she advanced to the second round after qualifying. Although she fell  in the second round the US Open Qualifying for the second straight year — this time to veteran Zuzana Ondraskova 6-3, 7-5 — Stephens hits hard and with passion. She’s still streaky, especially on the forehand side, but with Venus and Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters as self-proclaimed idols, a good volleying technique and a powerful backhand, the Florida-native looks poised to one day get into the top 100.

Once finished, I went to Court Four, which is notable for its easy-viewing access to the practice courts. There, I yet again saw Oudin along with Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova, Donald Young, and personal favorite Patty Schnyder.

I next scanned the courts for another match to view, making it in time to see Serbia’s Ilija Bozoljac close out the first set against Guillermo Alcaide. Bozoljac, known for taking a set from Roger Federer in the second round of this year’s Wimbledon, is an exciting player to watch. He hits a big serve, rips backhand winners, and surprises with his tricky slice and two-handed forehand. After winning 6-3 6-2, a person in the audience — presumably a friend — mentioned his match against Federer to which he replied, “One set and one point.” Meaning: he only needed to win one more set and one more point against the greatest of all time to win the match and move on to the third round. Bozoljac will remember that fact for the rest of his life.

I ended the day by watching parts of Sania Mirza’s match against Elena Bovina. The former top 30 Mirza looked sharp, hitting winners and powerful groundstrokes to win 6-3, 6-3. I also caught Wimbledon junior winner Kristyna Pliskova — identical sister to this year’s Australian Open junior winner Karolina Pliskova and — beat the 18th seed Aranxta Rus. Are the Pliskova sisters the next Williams sisters? It’s too soon to say, but it will be interesting to see how the sisters’ games develop in the coming years.

My second trip to the qualifying tournament ended by viewing Ryan Harrison versus 10th-seeded Rui Machado. The young American advanced in a riveting 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3 match filled with heavy support from the home crowd under the blazing lights of the US Open.

Why 2010 Has Been Ridiculously Good for Doubles

This year makes the mark on a multitude of levels — the longest match in history happened, Roger Federer faded a little in majors (if a win and two quarterfinals can be called such), Serena Williams looks sharp as ever with her two titles, Venus Williams faltered at Wimbledon (the quarterfinal curse?), and a well-loved Spaniard with a disappointing 2009  cemented his lead in the rankings, collecting the French Open — Wimbledon titles, and securing the top ranking. That Spaniard is Rafael Nadal (in case you were wondering).

And that’s just in singles.

But this year, doubles captures just as much of the excitement and accomplishment as it’s lonelier (get it?) counterpart. Here’s how.

First, the Williams sisters team dominated the last four of five majors — they didn’t quite make it at Wimbledon where they lost in…the quarterfinals.  Regardless, this year will be remembered for their holding the last consecutive four titles in process. They call it the “Williams Slam,” a good name for a historic effort by the duo. At the time of hoisting the French Open title, Serena and Venus were ranked number one and two, respectively.

On the men’s side, this powerful combination will soon be a reality, too. At the majors? Probably not for a long time. But, anyway, here’s what a post on the Facebook page for the Rogers Cup tournament in Montreal read: “Huge news straight from Rogers Cup Tournament Director Karl Hale: Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic will play doubles together in Toronto!”

That’s a huge step for the sport, and definitely deserving of that exclamation point. To have the top players invested in doubles means more attention is paid, there’s more excitement, more energy, more people watching, and, therefore, a greater overall appreciation for it. While it’s too early to say how the Nadal – Djokovic combination will fare — both on and off court — it’s a step in the right direction. I can only hope that more guys inside the top twenty will follow suite, and soon.

At the head of the ATP doubles circuit are, of course, the Bryan brothers, who recently scored their 62nd title — and 100th tour-level final — to overtake the record set by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde of Australia. The American twins are going strong, and I have no doubt that they will soon surpass the record 11 major titles that the “Woodies” won. Currently, the Bryans have eight to their name. Nine should be theirs once the US Open comes to a close. Number ten — their beloved Australian Open. At the Sunny Slam, they’ve won the last two titles with four overall.

Other noteworthy news: Lindsay Davenport is back in the mix, partnering with Liezel Huber, albeit briefly. Sandra Klemenschits made some appearances in the last couple tournaments. She played with veteran Patty Schnyder as the number three seed in Istanbul.

Even Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova are making headlines with their play at the senior’s event at Wimbledon. Hingis isn’t ruling out making a comeback on tour, maybe partnering with Davenport. It’d be great to see these fine players continue their games in the coming months. I’ll follow their compelling stories as the season winds down. You should, too.

All these results point to one thing — doubles matters, and it’s relevant in today’s world of tennis. Very relevant. There needs to be more involvement from the top tier of players, and more overlap between the singles and doubles tours. In the words of Sarah Unke, Tennis.com’s editor, “Now if only Roger Federer and Andy Murray would team up.”

Schnyder Teams with Klemenschits in Istanbul

Patty Schnyder and Sandra Klemenschits make for a compelling story as the third-seeded pair at the Istanbul Cup. Schnyder, who’s potentially retiring after this year, is out of the singles, but looked strong with Klemnschits in their first round match. The duo won over Johanna Larsson — the player that defeated Schnyder in singles — and Tatjana Malek in two sets, advancing 6-3, 6-4.

Klemenschits made news not necessarily for her doubles play, although she did win 20 titles on the ITF circuit, but more so for the cancer that took the life of her doubles partner and twin sister Daniela in 2008.

Seeing both players come together in doubles must be a special thing to watch. I hope they go far in the tournament.

Here’s a recap of some of the highlights on the WTA tour at both the Istanbul Cup and in the US Open Series tournmanet at Stanford:

  • Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova continues to be a rollercoaster ride on tour after her amazing run. She lost to Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
  • The Latvian teenager Anastasija Sevastova, who beat Petra Kvitova in the first round, was ousted from Istanbul with a three-set loss to Vera Dushevina, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-2.
  • At the Stanford tournament, Sam Stosur reached a career-high ranking of 5 in the world after beating American qualifier Christina McHale in two sets. Stosur advanced with her 6-1, 7-5 win.
  • Agnieszka Radwanska and Yanina Wickmayer both needed two sets to advance. Melanie Oudin, however, needed a tough three-setter to close out Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada. The teenage Oudin eked through 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-3.
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