Aces and Faults: Mirza is No. 1, Kerber wins Charleston, maiden title winners
Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Last week, Jack Sock and Anna Schmiedlova won their first ATP and WTA titles, Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys battled in the Family Circle Cup final in Charleston and Sania Mirza made history by capturing the No. 1 doubles ranking.
Angelique Kerber: The German came into the Family Circle Cup well under the radar, having failed to win back-to-back matches in her last seven events. But she found her game and her confidence on Charleston's green clay. She rallied from 1–5 down in the first set to beat Irina-Camelia Begu in the quarterfinals, bested defending champion Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals and then once again came back from 1–4 down in the final set to beat Madison Keys 6–2, 4–6, 7–5 in the final to win her first title since 2013. Could she be the hero for Germany when they take on Maria Sharapova's Russian team in the Fed Cup semifinals this weekend?
Jack Sock: The 22-year-old became the first American born in the 1990s to win an ATP title with a 7–6, 7–6 win over Sam Querrey in the U.S. Clay Court Championships final. It's been a fantastic five weeks for Sock, who started his season at Indian Wells after pelvis surgery ruled him out of the first two months of the season. Since his return he's been playing Top 20 tennis, with runs to the fourth round of Indian Wells and the third round of Miami, in addition to his title in Houston. Sock says his favorite surface is clay, which is surprising given his hard court success, but if his body holds up he could be an impact player in the upcoming clay tournaments.
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis: India isn't known for much of a women's sporting culture. When Mirza was young and decided she wanted to try to become one of the best tennis players in the world, her decision was met with derision. "What, are you going to be the next Martina Hingis?" they snidely asked her and her family. Flash forward and the 28-year-old is a history-maker, becoming the first Indian woman to hold the No. 1 ranking. Mirza clinched the top spot by completing a triple sweep with her new partner Hingis—the irony!—as the team won their third straight title in Charleston after winning Indian Wells and Miami. More on Mirza here.
Martin Klizan: The Slovakian won in Casablanca, defeating Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6–2, 6–2 in the final. Klizan dedicated the win to his grandfather, who died last week.
Anna Schmiedlova: It was a double for the Slovakians this weekend, as Schmiedlova followed in Klizan's footsteps to win her first WTA title at the Katowice Open, beating the favorite Camila Giorgi in the final 6–4, 6–3. The 20-year-old also beat defending champion Alize Cornet earlier in the week to pave her way to the title match.
Madison Keys: Her week in Charleston should give her confidence to believe she can play well on clay. She was dominant en route to her first WTA final of the year and played Kerber incredibly well to put herself in position to win her second title of her career. The German veteran outfoxed her in the end, sending drop shot after drop shot to rattle the youngster at the net, but after early losses on the U.S. hard courts, this was precisely what Keys needed: A week to remind everyone, including herself, that Australia was no fluke.
Teymuraz Gabashvili: The Russian swept the best Americans on U.S. soil all in one day. Teamed up with Ricardas Berankis, he beat the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, and then turned around to beat No. 1 American John Isner in straight sets in Houston. Berankis and Gabashvili eventually won the Houston doubles, their first title together.
Sam Querrey: He had set points to take a one set lead over Sock in the Houston final, but overall this was a good week for Querrey. He beat Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco en route to his first final since 2012.
Camila Giorgi: The Italian is far too talented to be 0-3 in tournament finals. She beat Agnieszka Radwanska in Katowice and looked primed to finally win her first WTA title, only to fall short against Schmiedlova.
Eugenie Bouchard: Bouchard is officially in a slump and she knows it. After taking an opening round loss to Lauren Davis, in which she was thoroughly dominated on the baseline, Bouchard was uncommonly candid about her recent struggles. "Sometimes I think success masks issues or problems, so you learn a lot more when you lose,” she said. “So if there's something I'm doing wrong or any of my team is doing wrong, we're going to take [the] time.” Read more here.
Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pole continues to struggle, this time taking a semifinal loss to Giorgi on home soil in Katowice. Now at No. 9 in the rankings, she's on the verge of falling out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2011.
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In case you missed it
- Once again, congratulations to Andy Murray and Kim Sears. Leave it to Murray to bust out the emojis:
- Fun fact: Murray got married on Roger Federer's anniversary.
- Madison Keys is a class act. They grow them right in the Midwest:
- Andrea Petkovic arrived in Charleston feeling fatigued from her run to the semifinals in Miami, but she put in a good effort in her title defense to make the semifinals. She left North America feeling confident in how well she's hitting the ball.
- Jiri Vesely arrived in Casablanca without his bags. The airline lost them. So he had an...interesting look when he took the court for his opening round match.
- Lucie Hradecka is back into the Top 100 after making her first WTA semifinal since 2013 in Charleston. Hradecka, who stunned Ana Ivanovic in the first round of the Australian Open in January, credits a diet change for her improvement. Having gone gluten-free, lactose-free and egg-free in the off-season, Hradecka says her joint inflammation has gone down and she hasn't suffered an asthma attack all season. It might be something Petra Kvitova should look into.
- Keys' backhand has improved dramatically under coaches Lindsay Davenport and Jon Leach.
- Sock thoughts: Can Sock keep winning without a backhand? And will his body hold up over the course of a full season?
- Danka Kovinic. Keep an eye on her. The kid can serve it big.