October 31, 2014

The Consolation Prize?

It's not quite over for the ladies -- this week eight(-ish) of the year's International-event titleists who didn't quite qualify for the WTA Championships in Singapore got a chance to pick up one more trophy before the season ended. And while all these ladies have shown their capable of big things this season, some of the results we've seen so far in Sofia aren't what you'd expect.

In the "Serdika" Group, top seed and Singapore alternate Ekaterina Makarova suffered two straight-set losses before pulling out with a back injury, allowing Karolina Pliskova entry into the Bronze-Medal event. Meanwhile it's the lowest-ranked player in the section, 2014 standout Garbiñe Muguruza who's really shining. She dropped just three games to Makarova in their opener, and then came back from a bagel set against Indian Wells champ Flavia Pennetta to take the next two, 6-1, 6-1. She'll face off against Katowice titleist Alizé Cornet today, but with a win in the pair's only meeting two years ago, the Spaniard could put up a perfect record in the round robins.

No one's been as spotless in the "Sredets" Group, though Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova came pretty close. After a string of surprising losses since the spring -- Vitalkia Diatchenko in Moscow, Cici Bellis in New York -- I wasn't expecting too much from her at the Tournament of Champions, but she took out both Tsvetana Pironkova and Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets. But after last night's loss to Andrea Petkovic, herself trying to end a slump since her French Open semifinal, she stands now just in second place in the section, making today's final round robin between Pironkova and CSN so much more important. The Spaniard, who won her first career crown in Oeiras way back in May and then went largely silent, had a pretty easy win over Petkovic on Tuesday and could leapfrog over other players in her group if she gets the better of the Russian.

The stakes in Sofia may not be as high as they were last week, but for the ladies looking for redemption the pressure is certainly on. After all, players like Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep have won the Tournament of Champions in the past, and their careers have been on steady upward trajectories since. And while the 2014 season may be close to wrapping up, any of these ladies could use a win her to get next year off to a great start.

No comments: