Report Card: Serena Williams cruises in Sweden; Fabio Fognini on a roll

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Serena Williams

Serena Williams won the Swedish Open for her 53rd career title. (Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)

The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week, Serena Williams recorded a career first, Fabio Fognini continued his roll and Roger Federer debuted a new racket.

Serena Williams: A. Williams has been criticized throughout her career for playing a light schedule and not doing enough to support the WTA Tour’s lower-level events. (Before last week, she had played only five International-level events in 17 years.) So credit her for entering the Swedish Open in Bastad, a low-level tournament on red clay, even if a large appearance fee might have made the decision easier. Sessions looked sold out from the first day she stepped on court until the last, and Williams didn’t drop a set against a weak field in winning her first International-level title, her seventh overall this year and the 53rd of her career. Williams defeated Johanna Larsson 6-4, 6-1 in the final to extend her clay winning streak to 28. Serena Williams, clay-court specialist? Sure, why not?

Here’s Williams addressing the crowd after the final:

Ivo Karlovic: A-plus. Karlovic won his first title in five years, going 61-for-61 in his service games and firing 104 aces in five matches at the Claro Open Colombia. The fact that the 34-year-old Croat did it less than three months after being hospitalized for viral meningitis, in his second tournament back, is an amazing accomplishment. Karlovic climbed from No. 155 to No. 87 this week after beating Kevin Anderson in the semifinals and Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in the final.

Fabio Fognini: A-plus. Two weeks ago, the 26-year-old Italian had never won an ATP Tour title. Now, he’s collected two in a row, first in Stuttgart and last week in Hamburg, where he defeated Tommy Haas (for the second straight week), Nicolas Almagro and surprise finalist Federico Delbonis. Fognini saved three match points in his 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2 victory over Delbonis to complete the German double. He’s risen to a career-high 19th, and he’ll go for three in a row this week at the Croatia Open.

Check out this scrambling defense from Fognini in the final:

Federico Delbonis: A. The 22-year-old Argentine qualifier had a giant-killing week in Germany. He was one volley into the open court away from winning his first ATP title, but he was unable to convert those three match points against Fognini. Still, in saving two points in a three-set win over Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals and dismissing Roger Federer 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in the semifinals, the big-hitting lefty showed that he’s another young name to watch. Delbonis cracked the top 100 after his Hamburg run, moving up from No. 114 to a career-high No. 65.

Here are highlights from Delbonis’ win over Federer:

Roger Federer: C-plus. It was a good move to play-test his new 98-square-inch racket head, and on the whole he looked great with it. I agree with Federer’s statement that his loss to Delbonis — who, like Sergiy Stakgovsky, was ranked outside the top 100 when he upset the Swiss great — shouldn’t be blamed on the racket. His new stick didn’t look as awkward as I thought it would. He showed some great touch and feel, along with noticeably improved spin on both his topspin and slices. But he left Hamburg with growing concerns over his back, which looked to get stiffer as the tournament progressed. Federer is in a tough spot as he tries to balance his desire for more matches to get acquainted with his new equipment, against his need to be fit for the U.S. Open. He’s set to play this week at an ATP 250 clay-court tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Passing Shots: Federer breaks out sweater vest during match

Sandra Klemenschits: A-plus. The Austrian has spent much of the past five years playing doubles on the ITF circuit since returning from abdominal cancer, the same disease that took the life of her twin sister and former doubles partner, Daniela, at age 25 in 2008. Sandra, 30, won her first WTA doubles tournament last week, teaming with Andreja Klepac, whose father recently died of cancer, in Bad Gastein, Austria.

Yvonne Meusburger: A. The Austrian No. 1 won her first WTA title and did it on home soil, beating Andrea Hlavackova 7-5, 6-2 in the final of the Gastein Ladies.

Fernando Verdasco: C-minus. Verdasco checked out after losing the second set to Delbonis in the Hamburg quarterfinals, to the point that even the official tournament Twitter account grew critical, questioning whether the 29-year-old Spaniard even wanted to win the match (the tweets have since been deleted).

Arantxa Rus: B-plus. She snapped a 17-match losing streak by beating Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 in the first round in Bad Gastein. She also ousted Estrella Cabeza Candela before losing to eventual champion Meusburger.

Alison Riske: A. The 23-year-old reached the final of a $50,000 ITF event in Portland, Ore., to break into the top 100 (at No. 96) for the first time, putting 11 Americans that high. Riske recently made her Twitter account public, which has been a great vehicle for her personality. Follow @Riske4Rewards. It’s clear how much her fellow Americans adore her:

Sloane Stephens: B. If you can move up the rankings to make your top-15 debut without lifting a finger, it’s been a good week.

Juan Martin del Potro: A-plus. Watch out, Mickey. No one can resist his charms:

Juan Martin del Potro

Juan Martin del Potro spent some time at Disney World. (Facebook)

  • Published On Jul 22, 2013

    Serena you are the finest.   Just be sure to get as much rest at these tournaments as possible.  In trying to explain your loss at Wimbledon, Patrick Mouratoglou said to the press immediately after the loss as a possible reason, "Maybe she was tired."   Yes, Serena from what I saw of you you were tired.   I have been following you matches and watching you closely for at least a decade.  In your last match at Wimbledon that you just lost, I observed in your face and the way you carried yourself as you were coming onto court that you looked tired and a bit strained.  I actually told my wife before the match started, "Serena does not look like herself today.  I wonder how late she was up last night and what she had to eat?"   Later I learned that the night before that you had apparently gone to a banquet at Wimbledon with all the notables of tennis.   And when I found that out my conclusion was this,  "Too bad.   She probably felt she had to attend simply to be polite to the powers that be within the game.  She probably wanted to attend very much to feel a part of this very special community.   She didn't eat the good food her traveling chef would have otherwise made for her the night before, but instead ate banquet food.   She likely drank what was offered her and this did not go well with her athletic body.   If she didn't get into bed early as she would have otherwise or missed out in getting a good massage that evening, this would have been the cause for her lack of stamina the next day."   Serena, you are God's beautiful creature.   But  now that you are over the age of 30, you can't go out the night before, socialize, and be able to perform a peck capacity the next day.   The kids can do it, but you can't.   Listen to Patrick because he loves you.   From now on, don't attend any evening events while at a tournament.   Just be honest, and tell them that you owe it to yourself, the sport, and to your fans to get all the rest possible for match during the tournament.  You have only so many more years left in this sport, so you must be all the more discipline in how you care for the temple God gave you.  You can attend the evening events before the tournament or after the tournament, but not during the tournament.


    Great job Serena and Fabio..  Love you both!!!


    Love you too Dr Ivo ...great guy ;)