Week eight of the 2016 tennis season continued to produce unusual results in tennis. We witnessed more of the upsets that have become commonplace on both tours in recent weeks: Santina, Halep, Kvitova, and Djokovic all suffered early exits. For Hingis/Mirza and Djokovic, their losses put a halt to the two most impressive week-to-week streaks in tennis. Carla Suarez Navarro scored the biggest win of her career, while Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas backed up their strong play in recent weeks with another title. Marcos Baghdatis returned to the top 40, and Sergiy Stakhovsky exited the top 100. Finally, Federer went to the Oscars, and Cornet announced she'll be out for six months rehabbing a back injury.
Carla Suarez Navarro won the biggest title of her career in Doha and secured a new career high ranking of #6 in the process. Her title run included a 6-2 6-0 dismantling of Aga Radwanska in the semifinal, before mounting a comeback against 18-year-old Ostapenko in the final. For Suarez Navarro, 27, it was just the second WTA title of her career after winning the Portugal Open in 2014, improving her record in WTA finals to 2-8. After making three finals between February and May last year, Suarez Navarro will now look to back up this strong start to 2016 with a better finish than she managed in 2015. After reaching the final in Rome last year, she made only two quarterfinals the rest of the season.
MY 2 CENTS
The top seeds on the WTA Tour have experienced a rough go of it in recent weeks. In Dubai, all of the top eight seeds lost their opening matches. This week in Doha, Kerber, Halep, Kvitova, and Safarova all lost before the quarterfinals. Rather than decry the inconsistency of the tour's top players, it might be better to celebrate the opportunities that have been created for lower ranked players to enjoy some success. In the past three weeks, the tour's winners have included: Venus Williams, Errani, Vinci, Schiavone, Stephens, and Suarez Navarro. We've also seen young players like Ostapenko, Osaka, and Rogers make deep runs. The tour has benefited from enthralling matches across the board. February was a strange month in tennis to be sure, but it might be best to embrace the uncertainty it's provided, knowing that the season has many months left to produce late-round top seeded blockbusters.
ON THE WEB
Champion's Corner: Suarez Navarro
Insider Diaries: The Gibbs of Gab
Santina Streak Ends at 41
A Fuller February - Steve Tignor
WTA Has Become a Tour with Plenty of Stars, but Almost No Champions
Voskoboeva Vaults into WTA Return
All in with Alla: Up in the Air
WTA Week in Preview: Kuala Lumpur & Monterrey
Can you believe it's been ten years since Marcos Baghdatis reached the Australian Open final? He went on to make the Wimbledon semifinals that year and the quarterfinals in 2007, but it's been a barren stretch ever since. Now 30, it's been seven years since he last made it past the fourth round of a Slam; after this week, Baghdatis finds himself back inside the ATP top 40 for the first time in almost three years. His run to the final in Dubai included wins over Troicki (22), Pospisil (45), Bautista Agut (18), and Lopez (24). February was a successful month overall for the Cypriot, as he also banked a quarterfinal appearance in Montpellier.
MY 2 CENTS
What a time to be Dominic Thiem! In six tournaments in 2016, the Austrian has made four semifinals and won two titles. The last three weeks have been his most prolific stretch: winning Buenos Aires, making the Rio semifinals, and now winning in Acapulco. His match record on the year sits at an enviable 18-4, earning him a career high ranking of #14. Clay has been his favored surface in his young career, but he managed to make the transition between the South American clay courts to the Acapulco hard courts with aplomb. Simply put, Thiem has announced himself; he's put his hand up as the young player to watch for the rest of the season. He's also beaten some of the game's best players for those 18 wins: Nadal and Ferrer on clay, as well as Dimitrov, Querrey, Tomic, and Cilic. Here's hoping he can back up his stellar February with continued success the rest of the season.
ON THE WEB
Thiem Caps Fantastic February with Acapulco Title
Drama Continues as British Parliament Questions Tennis Officials
Wawrinka Beats Baghdatis for Dubai Title
No Time for Novak Djokovic to Dwell on Rare Setback
Stringing in Memphis - Inside the stringing room at a tour event
Shelter dogs take to the court at Brazil Open
Guy Forget Named New Director of French Open
No Easy Fix for Davis Cup - Courier
The Body Serve - "Fresh Off the Court"
The Tennis Podcast - "Comebacks Special - Agassi, Seles, Capriati, Borg"
No Challenges Remaining - "Overpromised, Underdelivered"
WTA Insider - "Always Full of Surprises"
Realz Tenis Fanz - "Men Ruled and Women Drooled.....JUST THIS WEEK THOUGH"
Tennis.com - "WTA Emergency Podcast"
Beyond the Baseline - "Andre Agassi on Tennis, New Venture, Philanthropy"