The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week, John Isner made a big splash in Houston and Roberta Vinci finally made us sit up and take notice.
Roberta Vinci: A. This may blow your mind, but with her 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Petra Kvitova in the final of the inaugural BNP Paribas Open in Katowice, Poland, the Italian journeywoman/doubles specialist, 30, is knocking on the door of the top 10. She’s up to No. 12, ahead of Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Sloane Stephens and Ana Ivanovic.
Vinci reformed herself with improved fitness and inspiration from good friend Sara Errani’s splendid 2012. Like Errani, Vinci can’t overpower anyone with her ground strokes or serve, but she makes up for it with placement and variety. While her quarterfinal run at last year’s U.S. Open remains her standout result, she’s backed it up nicely this year, including quarterfinals in Sydney and Miami and a semifinal in Dubai. Watch out as we head to her favorite surface, European clay. She could pass Nadia Petrova and Caroline Wozniacki and get into the top 10 by the French Open.
Petra Kvitova: B-plus. Regardless of the quality of competition, it’s good to see Kvitova get wins. She’s a confidence player and needs to get to a place mentally where she believes in her shots. She tore through the field in Katowice with ridiculously big hitting, and her loss to Vinci in the final wasn’t entirely surprising given the arhythmic way Vinci plays. Overall, it was a positive tournament for Kvitova, who is a solid clay-court player. The surface slows the ball down just enough to give her time to get set on her shots, and the bounce is right in her strike zone. A title in Stuttgart, Madrid or Rome is not out of the question.
John Isner: A. Once again, Isner found his legs on clay, winning a much-needed title at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston by beating two clay specialists in Juan Monaco and Nicolas Almagro. Isner struggled playing in Europe last year, but he took a late wild card into Monte Carlo this week after he felt he was finally hitting the ball well. A big win there, and he’s got some traction for the season.
Tommy Robredo: A. Don’t these old guys realize they’re not supposed to be winning after 30? After a leg injury forced him off the tour for more than five months, Robredo found some form, winning his first title in two years in Casablanca. This was no easy run for the soon-to-be 31-year-old. He won three consecutive three-setters, against Benoit Paire 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-0, Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Kevin Anderson in the final 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3.
Juan Monaco: B. Progress is progress. The Argentine finally won his first ATP match of the season, beating Tim Smyczek, 7-6 (5), 6-1 in his opening round in Houston. He went on to crush Robby Ginepri in the next round before falling to Isner in the semifinals.
Ryan Harrison: C. Another week, another tough first-round draw and another early loss (to Isner in straight sets) sends his ranking tumbling. Harrison, 20, is now No. 100, which may be a blessing in disguise. If he opts to play on the ATP Challenger Tour to earn vicotires and points, as opposed to rolling the dice in qualifiers of the big tour events, he could get himself on a nice roll.
Tommy Haas: C-minus. The 35-year-old German took a quick 6-3, 6-3 loss to Ricardas Berankis in the opening round of Houston and then withdrew from Monte Carlo with back tightness. Haas deserves the break, which he’s using in part to help Maria Sharapova celebrate her upcoming birthday.
Rhyne Williams: A. The 22-year-old American, who entered last week ranked No. 144, made his first ATP semifinal, in Houston, with wins over Guido Pella, Ivo Karlovic and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. Williams climbed to a career-high No. 117 this week. You can learn more about him here.
Kevin Anderson: B. Another strong week for Anderson, who made his second final of the year, in Casablanca, Morocco. Anderson’s been nothing but solid all year and is now a career-high No. 26. Along with those two finals, he’s also reached two quarterfinals (including Indian Wells, where he upset David Ferrer) and the fourth round at the Australian Open.
WTA WAGs: B. Tennis was all over the Masters. We have the women to thank for it. Wozniacki caddied for Rory McIlroy at the par-3 contest. She paid back McIlroy’s efforts at various tennis exhibitions by shanking a tee shot into the water.
Chris Evert, who used to be married to Aussie golf great Greg Norman, offered some solid golf commentary on Twitter.
Ok golf fans- I'm starting my red wine..—
Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) April 14, 2013
With Adam Scott taking the green jacket, the ghost of Ana Ivanovic hovered over the proceedings as we all had to stop, take a moment and remember just how darn cute those two were:
(Photo via Getty Images)