Report Card: Caroline Wozniacki ends drought; ATP gets first-time winner
The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week featured Caroline Wozniacki's return to the winner's circle, a riveting final in China and a first-time winner on the ATP Tour.
Caroline Wozniacki: A. The Dane, who led the WTA Tour in titles the last two years, finally snagged her first of 2012, crushing her French Open vanquisher, Kaia Kanepi, 6-1, 6-0 in the Korea Open final. No, Wozniacki didn't have to beat any top-15 players to win her first title since August 2011, but victories and losses are more mental than physical for her these days and a long-awaited trophy could be a much-needed confidence boost for the woman who has fallen to No. 11 after beginning the year No. 1. Twenty-four hours after securing her 19th career title (fourth most among active players behind Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova), Wozniacki was back on court for her first-round match at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo and overcame Bojana Jovanovski 6-0, 3-6, 6-4. It wasn't a pretty match in the slightest, but Wozniacki found a way to come through as she continues to rebound from a first-round loss at the U.S. Open.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: A. Tsonga needed just 50 minutes to win his second title of the year, routing Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 to defend one of the most distinctively weird ATP trophies. That's a nice bounce-back for Tsonga, who was coming off a second-round loss to Martin Klizan at the U.S. Open.
Hsieh Su-wei: A. This time last year, Hsieh was ranked outside the top 200 with zero singles titles. But she's now a two-time winner and has climbed to a career-high 39th after defeating Laura Robson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a thrilling final at the Guangzhou Open. Hsieh, not unlike the ATP's Florian Mayer, has a funky game featuring a variety of shots and misdirection, and she was tremendous during the near-three-hour final. Her arsenal of slices and drop shots, paired with solid defense when pulled out wide, left the offensive-minded Robson in fits.
Martin Klizan: A. As recently as two months ago, Klizan had never won back-to-back matches at an ATP tournament. He's not only accomplished that feat three times since but he's also become the tour's first first-time winner of 2012 (there were 10 last year). The big-hitting Slovakian, who made a name for himself with a fourth-round appearance at the U.S. Open, continued his strong form by winning the St. Petersburg Open. The 23-year-old left-hander cruised past Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3 in the final, but Klizan's most impressive victory of the week came in the semifinals when he outlasted top-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, 6-7 (11), 6-4, 7-6 (3) in three hours and 49 minutes. After starting the year outside the top 100, Klizan has vaulted to a career-high 33rd.
Laura Robson: A-minus. Much like Klizan, Robson did her best to prove that her fourth-round run at the U.S. Open wasn't a fluke. In Guangzhou, Robson became the first British woman in 22 years to make a WTA final, knocking off local favorites Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai (Robson, who upset Li Na at the U.S. Open, has now beaten China's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the last month) and showing she was the smarter and more consistent player in solving a high-octane but erratic Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals. Hsieh's unconventional style kept the 18-year-old off balance for much of the final, but the Brit once again proved she's a tough out. Down a break in the second set, Robson saved five match points and broke Hsieh twice to force a third set. Robson then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the third set before she hit the wall physically and just couldn't recover.
Fabio Fognini: B. Now that Gael Monfils is back, I suspect Fabio will have to relinquish his crown of being the most entertaining man on the ATP Tour. But, boy, was it a fine run. Fognini never fails to play tennis as though his every stroke, twitch and utterance are being recorded for reality television. With both men vying for their first title, Klizan blasted Fognini off the court in the St. Petersburg final.
Gael Monfils: B-plus. A solid return from a knee injury for Monfils, who made the Metz semifinals in his first tournament since May. La Monf's 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4 victory against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals was particularly impressive.
Ivo Karlovic: D. How does a guy with his serve get bageled by Nikolay Davydenko?
Kaia Kanepi: B. Kanepi, off the tour since the French Open with a heel injury, returned in Seoul and breezed through much of the tournament. Then came the final, where she won only one game off Wozniacki. Albano Olivetti: C. Remember this guy? As a qualifier ranked No. 388, he upset Mardy Fish in Marseille in February with one of the biggest serves on tour. Since then, the 20-year-old Frenchman has been grinding away in Challenger tournaments, raising his ranking to No. 217. He lost to James Blake in the first round of Metz, but, hey, it was kind of fun seeing his name in a tour-level draw again.