Jankovic leads top 10 players in events played
From Novak Djokovic's fast start to Venus Williams' skid against top-ranked players, Bonnie DeSimone takes a look at some of the more obscure statistics on tour this season.
Here's a paint-by-numbers look at some illustrative stats as we count down to the French Open:
31-6: Novak Djokovic's ATP-best match record after winning his third title of the season in Estoril, Portugal, over the weekend. The Serbian was 6-1 on clay going into the Rome Masters Series this week, and has to be viewed as a not-so-dark-horse contender for the French Open title if either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer stumble. Djokovic is in Nadal's quarter in Rome.
10-12: Kim Clijsters' final career record against Belgian rival Justine Henin. Clijsters' decision to end her half-hearted walk through her farewell season put an ironic cap on a rivalry enlivened by their contrasting personalities and styles of play. The outgoing Clijsters is retiring to start a family; the introverted Henin is divorcing after a brief marriage. Clijsters' growing competitive ambivalence cost her some fan support; Henin's personal struggles have won her some sympathy. Henin won their only two meetings in Grand Slam finals, which came back-to-back at the 2003 U.S. Open and 2004 Australian Open.
6.9: Average number of tournaments played this season by the top 10 women in the WTA rankings, several of whom have been idle for long stretches. Somewhat surprisingly, the men's numbers aren't that different: the top 10 ATP players have logged an average of 7.1 events. Serbia's Jelena Jankovic leads all top-10 players, men and women, with 11 tournaments played; she hit a career-high No. 6 this week and has won titles in Auckland, New Zealand, and Charleston, S.C.
2-5: Record in tournament finals this season by the four Russian women in the top 10. Dinara Safina and Nadia Petrova are 1-1, Svetlana Kuznetsova 0-2 and the sidelined Maria Sharapova 0-1.
121: Number of ranking spots Guillermo Canas of Argentina has leapfrogged in 2007, the first time he's had a chance to play a full season since 2004. Now checking in at No. 21, Canas has made an emphatic return from a 15-month doping suspension after testing positive for a diuretic considered to be a masking agent, the result of what he contended was a mix-up in prescription medications. Canas fell to Nadal in the Barcelona final after a depleting semi against countryman Agustin Calleri in which Canas' right arm was cramping so badly he had trouble gripping his racket. The usually indefatigable Canas retired in the middle of his first match in Munich, the only time he's gone one-and-out since January.
4: Number of consecutive tournaments in which Marcos Baghdatis lost his first match before pulling out of his nosedive by reaching the Munich semifinals last week. The Cypriot beat Ivan Ljubicic on his home turf for the Zagreb title early this year, but his form has been questionable since.
3: Number of times the lanky, talented young Argentine Juan Martin del Potro has retired during a match this season. Is it coincidence or an indication of a greater problem with his stamina?
0-4: Venus Williams' record against top-20 players since defeating Shahar Peer for the Memphis title in her comeback tournament in February.
24: Number of titles Bob and Mike Bryan, who will bid for their 39th doubles championship in Rome this week, need to win to pass the Aussie duo of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for first place on the all-time list. The Bryans have shown they're immune from the current U.S. bout of clayphobia. They've won six titles on dirt, including two this year at Houston and Monte Carlo, and the 2003 French Open. They were finalists in Rome in 2005.
Junior year abroad: Emerging talent Madison Brengle may be on her way to a glamorous destination -- Paris, where she has earned a slot in the qualifying tournament for the French Open -- but she still has to take care of life's mundane details.
The 17-year-old from Dover, Del., was just back from the laundromat when we reached her in Indian Harbour, Fla., where she's playing in a U.S. Pro Circuit event. Brengle has kept her amateur status and will decide next year whether to attend college or turn pro. For the time being, she's collecting rankings points rather than prize money on the lower-level tour and occasionally getting a chance to test herself in bigger events.
Brengle won all four of her matches in a U.S. Tennis Association round robin playoff to score the wild card invitation into the French qualifiers. It's not her first appearance at the gates of a Grand Slam event. She's played in the last two U.S. Open qualifiers and received a slot in this year's Australian Open main draw courtesy of an arrangement between the two countries. Brengle lost to Patty Schnyder in straight sets.
Brengle's mother Gaby, a teaching pro at Dover Indoor Tennis and Wild Quail Country Club, has coached her since she was a toddler, although the story doesn't follow the usual script. Gaby Brengle actually was trying to entice her older son to play, but he resisted and little Madison followed her to the courts instead.
It took the whole Dover community to raise her, Gaby Brengle said. Madison hit with much older men from the time she was tiny, and in recent years her hitting partners have included a pilot from the nearby Dover Air Force base and a boys high school state champion.
"They really helped her along, and now they feel like they're part of her success," Gaby Brengle said. "They deserve a lot of the credit."
Madison, a high school junior with an infectious laugh, has been home-schooled from an early age by her father, a computer programmer. She opted to spend her freshman year at a public school to sample social life. This season, she's logging more time away from home, training part-time on the grounds of the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., where she works with USTA coach Jean Desdunes.
Her junior honors include a win at 14 in the 16-and-under division at the prestigious Eddie Herr tournament in 2004, when Colette Lewis, who chronicles junior and college tennis on zootennis.com, said Brengle really hit the national radar. "She's had good results in doubles, too," Lewis said. "I see some parallels with Vania King."
Lady Crash? Speaking of the U.S. Pro Circuit, 28-year-old Julie Ditty of Ashland, Ky., is poised to become the female Paul Goldstein, who became tennis' Crash Davis a couple of seasons ago. Ditty, who played for Vanderbilt University, won her 22nd Pro Circuit singles title last week in Georgia and is ranked a career-high No. 158. Combined with her seven doubles titles, Ditty is one title shy of the minor league mark of 30 established by Nana Smith.
Bonnie DeSimone is a freelancer who contributes frequently to ESPN.com.
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