Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The April 2016 (prepping-for-Rio) Quiz

It's been a while, my old ten-question friend. But the time feels right to take at least one practice lap around the ol' quiz track before the Backspin Olympic Tennis Quiz III arrives this summer. So, focusing on items from the first few months of the 2016 season...

1. The Czechs have advanced to their fifth Fed Cup final in the last six years, making it possible that either Petra Kvitova or Lucie Safarova could provide a title-clinching singles win for the second time in their career. Kvitova clinched the 2014 title with a Day 2 singles victory, while Safarova did the same in 2012. Who is the only active singles player with two FC title-clinching singles wins in her career?

a. Roberta Vinci
b. Svetlana Kuznetsova
c. Sara Errani
d. Venus Williams
2. Who is the only player to defeat two tournament #1 seeds through the first fifteen weeks of the 2016 season?

a. Daria Kasatkina
b. Roberta Vinci
c. Victoria Azarenka
d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
3. We know that Sania Mirza is the #1-ranked doubles player from India. But who is ranked #1 in singles?

a. Prarthana Thombare
b. Ankita Raina
c. Sri Peddi Reddy
d. Sania Mirza (so this would be a trick question)

4. Kristina Mladenovic won the Charleston doubles with Caroline Garcia, her first title with her fellow Pastry. Kiki has now won twenty-three professional doubles titles (WD/MX in slam, WTA, WTA 125 and ITF events) with sixteen different partners. Who is the only player who has won more than two titles with Mladenovic by their side?

a. Timea Babos
b. Daniel Nestor
c. Galina Voskoboeva
d. Naomi Broady
5. 2015 Australian Open girls champ Tereza Mihalikova returned to Melbourne this year and reached the final again, losing to Vera Lapko. Who was the last girls slam singles champ to once more reach the final at the same event one year later?

a. Barbora Strycova
b. Ons Jabeur
c. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
d. Laura Robson

6. The 2016 season has seen WTA singles titles won by two non-Williams Bannerettes named Stephens and Falconi. How many times, starting in 2004, have three or more U.S. players other than Venus or Serena claimed WTA singles crowns?

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. the last time it happened was 2003
7. Aga Radwanska has the longest current streak of weeks in the singles Top 20 (426 after Week 15). Who has the second-longest streak?

a. Serena Williams
b. Maria Sharapova
c. Petra Kvitova
d. Angelique Kerber
8. There has not been an official "#1 vs. #2" singles battle on tour in 2016. While Angelique Kerber rose to #2 after her Australian Open win over #1 Serena Williams, the German was ranked #6 at the time of the match. The last #1-vs.-#2 match-up came over a year ago, when #1 Williams defeated then-#2 Maria Sharapova in the 2015 Australian Open final. What was the most recent #1-vs.-#2 before that one?

a. 2014 WTA Finals - Serena Williams/Simona Halep
b. 2014 Miami Final - Serena Williams/Li Na
c. 2013 U.S. Final - Serena Williams/Victoria Azarenka
d. 2013 Cincinnati Final - Victoria Azarenka/Serena Williams

9. True or False? 18-year old Doha singles runner-up Jelena Ostapenko is the youngest finalist -- singles or doubles -- on tour in 2016?
10. (FOR EXTRA POINTS) What did Victoria Azarenka, Aga Radwanska, Sloane Stephens, Hingis/Mirza and Viktorija Golubic all do in the same week in January of 2016?

>>>[ 3 pts. each unless noted ]<<<

1. b - Svetlana Kuznetsova is the only active player who has twice clinched a Fed Cup title with a singles victory in the final, doing so for Russia in both 2007 and '08. Recently retired Italian Flavia Pennetta did it twice in 2009-10. Other than Kuznetsova, Kvitova and Safarova, the only other active player with such a win is Italy's Sara Errani (2013).
2. d - Svetlana Kuznetsova is the only player who has defeated a tournament's #1 seed twice thus far in 2016. She won out over Simona Halep in the semifinals in Sydney, where the Russian went on to win the title, and Serena Williams in the 4th Round in Miami. Kuznetsova reached the final there, losing to Victoria Azarenka.
3. b - Ankita Raina. Ranked just inside the Top 250, Raina is the only Indian woman ranked in the Top 400 in singles on the WTA tour.
4. a - Babos has won three WTA doubles titles with Mladenovic, more than any other player. Mladenovic has won thirteen WTA doubles crowns with ten different partners. She's won two titles each with the other three players listed: Nestor (2 mixed slams), Voskoboeva (2 WTA) and Broady (2 ITF).
5. c - Pavlyuchenkova won back-to-back AO girls titles in 2006-07. Jabeur had been the most recent junior to reach back-to-back finals at a major, losing at Roland Garros in 2010 and then winning the title a year later. Robson lost back-to-back AO singles final in 2009-10, while Strycova won consecutive AO girls crowns in 2002-03.
6. a - One. 2014 is the only season since 2004 in which three non-Williams U.S. women won tour-level singles titles, with Madison Keys, Alison Riske and CoCo Vandeweghe all winning maiden crowns that year. Venus won her first title in 1998, with Serena taking hers in 1999. From 1999-2003, there were at least four non-Williams champions in each season.
7. b - Sharapova is second with 288 weeks (after Week 15)
8. b - The 2014 Miami final between #1 Williams and then-#2 Li was the only other #1-vs.-#2 match-up in the last twenty-five months. That's not the most sparsely-populated #1-vs.-#2 stretch in recent years, though. While there were several such matches in 2012 (4), 2013 (6) and 2014 (2), there were just three from October 2004 (after #2 Davenport d. #2 Mauresmo in Filderstadt) until March 2012: '06 Antwerp (#2 Mauresmo d. #1 Clijsters), '08 Sydney (#1 Henin d. #2 Kuznetsova) and the 2010 WTA Championships (#1 Wozniacki d. #2 Zvonareva).
9. False - Ostapenko reached the Doha final at approximately 18 years, nine months of age. Another 18-year old, Belinda Bencic was two months older when she reached the final in St.Petersburg. But the youngest tour finalist thus far in 2016 is Aussie junior Kimberly Birrell, who reached the WTA-level doubles final (w/ Jarmila Wolfe) in Hobart in Week 2.
10. (for 6 pts): Azarenka (Brisbane), Radwanska (Shenzhen), Stephens (Auckland), Hingis/Mirza (Brisbane) and Golubic (Victoria Park $25K ITF challenger - singles & doubles) all won titles in Week 1, which has turned out to be an even better barometer for success this season than it has been in past years.

27-33 pts. - The Vika Zone ('Nuff said)
18-26 pts. - The Golubic Zone (great, but not quite there)
7-17 pts. - The Pliskova Zone (we'll choose to look at the bright side of things, okay?)
0-6 pts. - The Stosur Zone (but you're fine if you stay out of Australia at Fed Cup time)

Until around Olympic time (if not before then).

All for now.