Aces and Faults: Caroline Wozniacki, Bernard Tomic win first titles of 2014
Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Last week, Caroline Wozniacki and Bernard Tomic returned to the winners circle, while the tours' teenagers continue to make a case for the future.
Caroline Wozniacki: The Dane blitzed No. 2 seed Roberta Vinci in the final of the Istanbul Cup, winning 6-1, 6-1 to capture her first title of the season. Despite the fact that Wozniacki struggled in the early rounds against weak opponents, needing three sets to get past No. 67 Karin Knapp and No. 47 Karolina Pliskova, this is still a confidence-boosting win for the former No. 1, who has played a steady level of consistent tennis over the last five weeks. She's back up to No. 13 with the win.
And yes, this happened too, and this tweet summarizes the situation:
I kind of want this Wozniacki-McIlroy story to go away for their sakes. But man, the universe is not helping. — Naila-Jean Meyers (@NailaJeanMeyers) July 20, 2014
Bernard Tomic: Everything you need to know about Tomic's talent and timing was on display last week in Bogota. Last week was rough for the Australian, as he missed the main-draw cut-off for the U.S. Open and was dropped by his management company IMG. But the 21-year-old buckled down, took a wildcard into the Colombia Open and won his first title of the season with great passion and intensity. The breaks were hard to come by in Bogota, a fast hard-court tournament played 8,500 feet above sea level, and Tomic came through by winning four of five tiebreakers in the semifinals and finals. He beat Victor Estrella Burgos 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) and turned around a day later to best defending champion Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4). Tomic was ranked No. 124 heading into the tournament, and the win shoots him up the rankings over 50 spots to No. 70.
Luckily for Tomic, this complete mis-hit on championship point didn't come back to bite him:
Leonardo Mayer: The Argentine upset top-seed David Ferrer 6-7 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (4) at the Hamburg Open to become to the fourth first-time ATP title-winner this season. Ranked No. 46 -- he'll make his top 30 debut on Monday at No. 27 -- Mayer is the lowest-ranked player to win an ATP 500 tournament since 2011. He's now 12-3 over his last four tournaments, which includes reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Watch the winning moment in this Argentine report:
Mona Barthel: She has one of the smoothest games in tennis, but the German has rarely ever been able to get any meaningful results outside of the first three months of any given season. But it all came together for her last week in Bastad, where she won her third WTA title.
Alexander Zverev: The best thing about Zverev? He actually looks like a 17-year-old. Zverev, who is coached by his father Alexander Sr. (the former pro) and whose brother Mischa plays on tour, comes from solid tennis stock. Just six months ago he won the Australian Open junior title and now, thanks to a wildcard into his home tournament, he's into the top 200.
The German teenager became the youngest man since Grigor Dimitrov to win an ATP Tour-level match when he beat Robin Haase 6-0, 6-2 in the first round of Hamburg. His straight set win over No, 19 Mikhail Youzhny in the second round was the first time a 17-year-old beat a top 20 player since Richard Gasquet did it in 2004. Then, after beating Santiago Giraldo in the quarterfinals, Zverev became the youngest player since Rafael Nadal to make the semifinals of an ATP 500 tournament, where he finally lost to David Ferrer 6-0, 6-1. Those are some impressive names attached to those milestones. Keep an eye on this kid.
Ana Konjuh: The 16-year-old Croatian joined Zverev in the milestone club, making her first WTA semifinal in Istanbul. She got into the main draw as a qualifier and then beat two top-five seeds in Magdalena Rybarikova and Elina Svitolina before losing to Vinci. A former No. 1 junior, Konjuh looks to be coming back nicely after elbow surgery in January. Including qualifying matches, she's 10-2 over her last two tournaments, making the third round at Wimbledon and now the semifinals. She's part of a very exciting group of young teenagers, including Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic, Elina Svitolina and Madison Keys.
Ivo Karlovic: Spare a thought for Karlovic. The Croat made the final in Newport last week but lost in a third-set tiebreaker to Lleyton Hewitt. Then he flew to Colombia and made the final this week, only to lose in third-set tiebreaker to Tomic. Karlovic losing tiebreakers on grass and fast hard courts? He needs a hug:
Karlovic did win the best match point of the week though, beating Radek Stepanek 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals:
Fabio Fognini: Raise your hand if you're exhausted by his antics. Karate-kicking a racket en route to an opening-round loss to a qualifier? Ok, yes, that's funny. Dropping an ethnic slur in the same match? Not funny.
ATP: Michael Llodra was fined a paltry -- but fined nonetheless -- $2,500 for directing a racial slur towards a fan in 2012. Where's Fognini's fine?
David Ferrer: How frustrated is Ferrer these days? Immediately after losing the Hamburg final to Mayer, the Spaniard proceeded to have an angry, extended discussion with himself. Aside from a title in Buenos Aires in February, his performance at the ATP 250s and 500s this season have been terrible. In the eight 250 and 500 tournaments he's played so far, he has lost to a player ranked outside the top 40 at six of them.
Photo of the week:
Hats of the week:
Tomic wins best hat, the tournament dignitary wearing an RF hat during a ceremony that does not actually involve Roger Federer wins worst hat.
In case you missed it
• Good see Serena Williams has her coordination back:
• No seeded players advanced to the quarterfinals in Bastad, the first time that's happened at a WTA tournament in over five years. Seven of the top eight seeds lost in the first round.
• Psst! That's not Rafa...
• The Swiss Open gave Viktor Troicki a main-draw wild card as he returns from a 12-month doping ban. Will other tournaments follow suit?
• Taylor Townsend lost just three points in winning a World Team Tennis set by a 5-0 bagel over a combined team of Venus Williams and Anastasia Rodionova.
• How fired up was Tomic all week in Bogota? Very. The typically placid Aussie was pumped and it was great to see:
• Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova won the ESPYs for best tennis male and female tennis players, respectively. Nadal is No. 2 in both the rankings and the Race to London rankings behind Novak Djokovic. Maria Sharapova is No. 6 in the rankings, and No. 1 in the Road to Singapore rankings. Seriously, what is the point of these awards? We have actual ways in sports of determining who is the best. That's why they're sports.
• Speaking of Nadal, guess who ran into him at a club:
• Given the empty seats at the Istanbul Cup last week, it's hard to underestimate how much the tournament needed Wozniacki to win the title if for nothing more than marketing next year.
• A week after the bet-at-home Open, a Swiss tournament grants a player found to have committed an anti-doping violation a main draw wildcard. All this after six men have been arrested for match-fixing. Oh, and get ready for next week's bet-at-home Cup Kitzbuehel. Tennis has had better weeks.
• Sloane Stephens' TMI-profile in Elle Magazine remains a must-read. No one wants to see athletes go on media lockdown, but if agents aren't forwarding it to their clients as an example of how not to alienate fans and sponsors, they're not doing their jobs.