sistaff
Monday October 24th, 2011

Victoria Azarenka won the Luxembourg Open and is the No. 4 seed at the WTA Championships. (Zumapress)

The Report Card hands out grades for the best and worst from the week in tennis.

Victoria Azarenka: B. Azarenka captured her third title of the year and eighth of her career in Luxembourg without much of a bother. The smart money would have been on Vika's shutting down her Luxembourg campaign after she qualified for this week's WTA Championships, but the top seed pressed on and didn't drop a set in five matches.

Winning her first title since April should give her some confidence for Istanbul, where, alongside Linz champion Petra Kvitova, she'll come in with a hot hand. A win in the exclusive eight-player event would be huge for Azarenka, who's been the victim of some hard luck this year with untimely injuries/retirements and unlucky draws. That said, her decision to play Luxembourg will be questioned if she suffers from fatigue in Turkey.

Janko Tipsarevic: B+. Winning begets winning and you can add another Serb to the list to prove it. Tipsarevic, 27, collected his first career title in Malaysia three weeks ago, and now he's got a second title after taking the Kremlin Cup with a 6-4 6-2 victory over defending champion Viktor Troicki. It was the first all-Serbian final on the ATP Tour and the two friends even held a joint press conference after the match, which was a nice touch.

Tipsarevic is now 10th in the Battle for London, trailing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by 545 points for the eighth and final spot. It will take a monumental effort over the course of the next few weeks to qualify, but the Serb is still planning to play St. Petersburg this week, Basel next week and then Paris-Bercy. Who knows what Tipsarevic thinks he's capable of these days.

Dominika Cibulkova: B+. The pint-sized Slovakian has always been capable of knocking off a top seed. She's beaten Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonareva this year, and it's easy to forget that she is a former Slam semifinalist, at the 2009 French Open. Despite her success, she's never been able to play consistently enough to win a title.

That changed last week, when she upset the top-seeded Zvonareva in the quarterfinals on her way to a hard-fought,  3-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5 win over Kaia Kanepi in the Moscow final. Cibulkova's breakthrough leaves Peng Shuai as the only player in the top 20 to never win a title.

Gael Monfils: B. It's odd to think that as much ink as Monfils receives, his title in Stockholm was only his first of the year. But at least he did it the way he knows best: by being Gael Monfils. The No. 8 Qualifier: D. Heading into last week, all Agnieszka Radwanska had to do was win one match in Moscow to secure the final spot in Istanbul. But she couldn't seal the deal, losing to Lucie Safarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup. That defeat created an opening for Marion Bartoli, who had to win the title to clinch the berth. Bartoli seemed well on her way until she was forced to withdraw from her quarterfinal match because of a viral illness. It was a deflating way to end what was otherwise a very entertaining battle between the two.

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