Aces and Faults: Halep wins home event; Petkovic claims title No. 4
Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis. Last week, Simona Halep, playing in her home country, cruised to the Bucharest Open title, while Andrea Petkovic won her fourth-career crown on the same day that Germany won their fourth World Cup.
Simona Halep: The WTA's No. 3 returned home to Romania to play in the inaugural Bucharest Open, and she romped to the title, beating Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3 in the final to win her second title of the season. It was an emotional homecoming for Halep, who hasn't won as many tournaments as she did last year when she finished the season with six wins. However, the Romanian is making up for it with her performances at the Grand Slams, reaching the French Open final and Wimbledon semifinals.
Halep's now just 11 points behind Maria Sharapova for the lead in the Race to Singapore, and she's fewer than 200 points behind Li Na for the No. 2 ranking. But first it's time for some R&R -- Halep is not entered in another tournament until the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, starting Aug. 11.
Lleyton Hewitt: Two weeks after telling reporters at Wimbledon that he was just an injury away from retiring from the game, the 33-year-old completed the sweep in Newport, winning both the singles and doubles titles at a tournament for the first time in his career. A runner-up in Newport the last two years, Hewitt captured his 30th ATP title with a 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) win over Ivo Karlovic in the final, then turned around win the doubles with Sam Groth later that day. He's just the fourth active player to win 30 or more titles -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the other three.
Andrea Petkovic: Petkovic defeated American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-3 to capture her fourth career title in Bad Gastein on the same day that Germany wins its fourth World Cup. Coincidence? Probably. In 2009, Petkovic, then ranked No. 98, won her first WTA title at Bad Gastein. And after her victory in Charleston, this marks the first time in her career she's won multiple titles in a single season.
It wasn't the toughest road to the title -- three of her five opponents were ranked outside the top 100 -- but Rogers and Grace Min, who she faced in the semifinals, took down other seeded players. She's now up to No. 18, her highest ranking in two years.
Roberto Bautista Agut: What a year for the Spaniard. In the span of a month he's now won his first two ATP titles -- first on grass in Holland the weekend before Wimbledon and now on clay in Stuttgart, beating Lukas Rosol 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the final. The win moves the 26-year-old to No. 18 in the rankings -- his first time in the top 20. It's been a remarkable rise for the most unknown of the Spanish Armada, who was ranked as low as No. 73 at the start of the season. With fewer than 250 points to defend for the rest of the year, a top-15 finish looks likely.
Pablo Cuevas: The 28-year-old from Uruguay became the third first- time ATP winner of the year by winning Bastad. Now ranked No. 61, Cuevas earned two good wins over Jeremy Chardy and Fernando Verdasco to make the final and then cruised to the title, beating Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-1.
Shelby Rogers: The Charleston native declined NCAA scholarship offers to play on the pro tour, but it hasn't been easy. Heading into Bad Gastein as a No. 147-ranked qualifer, the 21-year-old had never won back-to-back matches on the WTA or beaten a top 50 player. Then she put together a week to remember: She took down three players in the top 40, beating No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-0; No. 40 Camila Giorgi 6-1, 7-5; and No. 14 Sara Errani 7-6 (12), 6-3 to make her first WTA final. Petkovic ousted her in the final, but six match victories in a week has to inject the American with quite a bit of confidence in her ability. Now up to No. 104, she has a shot at earning direct entry into the U.S. Open.
Grace Min: We haven't heard much of Min since she won the U.S. Open junior title in 2011, but that might change now. She was the main beneficiary of top-seed Flavia Pennetta's withdrawal from Bad Gastein -- the two were slated to meet in the first round -- and she the best of the opportunity, making it all the way to the semifinals, where she took Petkovic to three sets before losing. That run of form continued this week, as she's already into the second round in Bastad after beating No. 2 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-4 for her first top 30 win.
Jack Sock: Winning -- regardless of when, where, and how -- begets even more winning. Fresh off the Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil, Sock beat John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (4) to advance to his first ATP semifinal in Newport without losing a set. He lost easily to Hewitt, but it would be nice to see this level of consistency from Sock throughout the U.S. Open Series.
ATP: Initially it appeared that Rafael Nadal was the first to qualify for the season-ending World Tour Finals after he won his ninth French Open title. Then somewhere along the way the ATP said he had not yet mathematically qualified and that it was actually Novak Djokovic who was the first to qualify after winning Wimbledon. Then they admitted that yes, Nadal actually had qualified.
The issue really shouldn't have been keeping people up at night -- upshot: Nadal, Djokovic and the Bryans will be playing in London -- but gosh, did Nadal fans take great issue with how it was all handled. I asked the ATP for clarification as to whether Nadal qualified first and they say he did not.
Carla Suarez Navarro: Still trying to wrap my head around the Spaniard getting bageled on clay by Rogers.
Photo of the week
Selfie of the week
World Cup tweet
All I know is that rattail needs to go. #GermanyvsArgentina— Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) July 13, 2014
Non-World Cup tweet
Re-watched Harry Potter all day and none of the soccer— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) July 13, 2014
In case you missed it
• Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic got married in Montenegro. And no, Andy Murray was not the best man.
• Rafael Nadal likes to dress up like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when on vacation.
• This happened:
• Here's your International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014, all of whom were inducted over the weekend: Six-time Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, five-time Paralympic champion Chantal Vandierendonck, legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, tennis industry leader Jane Brown Grimes and British tennis historian John Barrett.
• The three weeks after Wimbledon are the slowest weeks of the tennis season, right?