Kanepi Wins 1st Crown of 2012 at WTA Brisbane
Last year’s Brisbane title was the launch pad for now-world No. 2 Petra Kvitova, and it could well be the same this year for Kaia Kanepi, the 26-year-old from Estonia who steamrolled former Top 10er Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-1 in the all-unseeded final of the Brisbane International in Australia.
Always considered a stunning if uneven talent, Kanepi during the week upset No. 7 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a first-set bagel, No. 2 seed Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals, then in the semis toppled No. 3 seed Francesca Schiavone with a bagel in the second set.
“In previous years I’ve been a surprise player — I was able to beat higher-ranked players, but then maybe lose to lower-ranked players,” Kanepi said. “Now I’m playing more stable, not making as many errors. I’m beating top players more consistently. Hopefully I can get that ranking myself one day.”
The No. 34-ranked Kanepi entered the final 0-3 career versus Hantuchova. She improved to 2-3 in career finals, while Hantuchova dropped to 4-9.
“If Kaia can do this week in week out, she can be in the Top 10 very soon,” Hantuchova said.
Hot-Handed Kvitova Leads Czechs to 1st Hopman Cup Crown in 18 Years
World No. 2 Petra Kvitova’s mojo cannot be stopped. The winner of the WTA year-end championship and the Fed Cup for the Czech Republic to end 2011, Kvitova teamed with countryman Tomas Berdych to win the Hopman Cup this week to start 2012, defeating France 2-0 in the final on Saturday in Perth, Australia.
The Czechs failed to drop a set in the final as Kvitova defeated France’s Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1, and Berdych beat Richard Gasquet 7-6 (0), 6-4. The Czechs didn’t lose a singles match through the event and four team matches.
It was the first Hopman Cup victory for the Czech Republic since 1994 when Jana Novotna and Petr Korda beat Germany in the final. France is now 0-2 in Hopman Cup final appearances in 18 years competing at the event.
Kvitova defeated world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki en route to the final, while Berdych had a Top 10 win over American Mardy Fish.
“It couldn’t be better, it was a great week,” Berdych said. “I think that was the best final that we could have come up with.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
PRO TENNIS INJURY-A-RAMA CAN’T BE STOPPED — Want an answer for the injury problems in tennis nowadays? Super-racquets and super strings. Look at some film from the pre-Babolat and pre-Big Banger string days, and look at how much more reaction time players had. Nowadays the ball moves like a video game, and the stress on players’ bodies to jerk around and react faster is too much. The injuries are only going to get worse and more frequent. But who will have the balls to step in (like the PGA did with square-groove clubs) and say stop the technology madness? The ATP? The ITF? Good luck, none of them have the cojones to tell industry-movers Wilson and Babolat to tone it down. It’s a sport out of control right now. Even from a recreational player standpoint, the things you can do to the ball with these super racquets and super string is a joke. If you could in 2012 transport a top-ranked 12-year-old player back in time to play Chris Evert with a wood racquet, the 12-year-old would win in straight sets hitting 35 winners.
In Brisbane at her first tournament of the year, Serena Williams turned the post-match interview room into a therapy session, sounding like she’s not quite sure why she’s still playing: “I don’t love tennis today but I am here — I can’t live without it so I am still here. It was never that I have fallen out of love with it — I have actually never liked sports. I have never understood how I became an athlete — I don’t like working out. Anything that involves sitting down or shopping I am excellent at that…I just want to be able to do other things I am doing and expand on that. I think that will help keep my motivation up. I have always been preparing myself for life after tennis.”…The WTA Copenhagen event, held shortly before the French Open, has scrapped plans to switch from hard to claycourts as too costly. World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has won the event two years running and will reportedly be back in 2012…Serena defaults her QF match at Brisbane with an ankle sprain, answering the question if the oft-injured, oft-overweight, oft-I-don’t-even-like-training former No. 1 can consistently contend in 2012. Unless she gets her stomach stapled after retiring, you have to wonder just how big Serena will get after the tennis workouts stop…Sabine Lisicki dropped out of Auckland with a back injury…Thomas Muster has gone into the wine-making business. “When I went back to Austria I was looking for property. I grew up in this area and I knew these vineyards and property and the streets around it,” he told CNN of the Hochkittenberg wine estate he bought off a church diocese in 2004. “It’s all about the Styrian wines, it’s about white wines — 85 or 90% of our produce is white wine or white grapes. It’s one of the best sauvignon areas in the world. It’s still undiscovered here, that’s what we like about it, but I think in the next few years people are going to find out where this is.” Tommy Moo has some wine for you…Maria Sharapova is a mystery for the Aussie Open after skipping Brisbane and a potential Hobart wildcard due to a bad ankle…Roger Federer pulled from the Doha semifinals against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga citing a back injury that bothered him during his previous quarterfinal…Kim Clijsters injured her hip and pulled from the Brisbane semifinals…During week one of the tennis season, AFP did a nice story contrasting former No. 1 Serena “I don’t really even like tennis” Williams playing in Brisbane, while at the Hopman Cup, Demark’s No. 236-ranked Frederik “I can’t believe I’m playing here!” Nielsen competed for the first time, enjoying a $45K appearance fee. “This is the biggest stage I have ever played on, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” said the 28-year-old, who afterwards will go back to playing satellite and challenger events. “They take such good care of us players and to be able to play on a stage like that, in front of a great crowd, it’s big for me. It’s a big pleasure, it really is. I know that next week it’s back to reality and I’m ‘Joe Nobody’ again. So I really appreciate every second here.”…Ed McGrogan of Tennis.com: “No matter who wins it all, we know one thing: Serena will find a way to be the story — and probably will until she calls it quits, like it or not.”…A qualifier last year in Auckland, a year later Sabine Lisicki was the No. 1 seed in New Zealand…The WTA kicked off their season (and a “Premier” event) with only two Top 10 players, Sam Stosur and Andrea Petkovic…Rafael Nadal revealed he is using a heavier racquet that he feels gives him more power but less control…Mardy Fish had some classy moments while getting thrashed by Grigor Dimitrov at the Hopman Cup, spitting in the direction of the Bulgarian fans, then in the mixed doubles getting in Dimitrov’s face and going head-hunting during points. “You don’t often see that, a bit of face-to-face on a tennis court,” commentator Pat Cash said. “Mardy clearly was not in great form this week. He played pretty poorly and absolutely got annihilated by the youngster. Reading between the lines, and I don’t know what happened, but it looked like Grigor was just saying to Mardy: ‘What have I done wrong? I haven’t done anything. I’m just trying to have a bit of fun here and you’re attacking me, for what?’”…40-year-old Mark Knowles is skipping the Down Under leg of the tour this year to spend time with family in Dallas and train for his debut at San Jose…Mardy Fish said the men’s tennis off-season is too short. Mardy Fish, who played the Hopman Cup exhibition this week, and next week plays the Kooyong exhibition, said the off-season is too short. In other news…well, we can’t even think of an existing funny analogy that compares to what goes on with the top player money-grabbing at exhibitions, at the same time complaining that the off season, which they play through anyway, is too short. You fill that one in.
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