Tag Archive | "Agnieszka Radwanska"

Week One at U.S. Open: Wozniacki Living Up to Seeding, Jankovic Makes Early Departure

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Week One at U.S. Open: Wozniacki Living Up to Seeding, Jankovic Makes Early Departure


With Serena Williams out of the running, one established truism at this year’s U.S. Open was that the list of potential champions had expanded.  Yet, Caroline Wozniacki’s form the first three rounds is giving many room for pause as she is invariably validating her top billing.  With the initial week of competition concluded, here’s a recapitulation of the event thus far and a peak at what’s ahead.

Wozniacki has permitted her opponents only three games on her way to booking her spot into the round of 16.  Although Maria Sharapova needed three sets in the first round against Jarmila Groth, since then she has also been stingy. Sharapova allowed Beatrice Capra, the 18 year old American who upended 18th seed Aravane Rezai, just one game in their third round match.  As a result, the much anticipated  fourth round match between Sharapova and Wozniacki will take place on Monday.

After scraping by to reach the third round, Jelena Jankovic, the 4th seed, had her progress halted by Kaia Kanepi, the 31st seed.  Therefore, for Jankovic, the disappointment at the majors go on.  Kanepi will face Yanina Wickmayer, the 15th seed and 2009 U.S. Open semifinalist, in the round of 16.

Vera Zvonareva, the 7th seed, has been keeping a low profile while calmly taking care of business.  Without dropping a set, Zvonareva is now in the fourth round where she will battle Andrea Petkovic.  Zvonareva is clearly the favorite in that clash and with Jankovic ousted, she has a great chance to earn a berth in the semifinals.

Na Li, the 8th seed, and Agnieszka Radwanska, the 9th seed, were booted in the first and second round respectively.  With Li sent packing, Dominika Cibulkova was the beneficiary.  Cibulkova is alive for the first time in the fourth round at the U.S. Open and will face Svetlana Kuznetsova.  Since falling under the tutelage of Amelie Mauresmo’s former coach, Kuznetsova has rediscovered the road to success.  Kuznetsova should have no trouble punching her ticket to the quarterfinals for a date with either Sharapova or Wozniacki.

In the bottom half of the draw, Melanie Oudin, last year’s American darling, was bounced in the second round.  Franscesca Schiavone, the 6th seed  and reigning French Open champion, has finally found her game on hardcourt.  The Italian heads to the round of 16 having yet to surrender a set.  Schiavone’s next obstacle will be 19 year old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  The Russian’s third round showdown with one of the favorites for the title Victoria Azarenka never came to fruition.  In her second round match, Azarenka collapsed and was forced to retire.  Initially, the problem was ascribed to the scorching temperatures.  Later on, the news was released that Azarenka had suffered a mild concussion prior to taking the court which was the culprit for her abrupt egress.  With Pavlyuchenkova dominant on hardcourt this season, it will be fascinating to see whether teenage fearlessness or experience wins out.

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Which Woman Can Rise to the Occasion?  Long Lists of Contenders at the U.S. Open

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Which Woman Can Rise to the Occasion? Long Lists of Contenders at the U.S. Open


This week, the U.S. Open draw was disclosed.  Caroline Wozniacki, the world number two and 2009 finalist, and Kim Clijsters, the defending champion and world number three, are the top seeds.  Yet to fully recover from foot surgery, Serena Williams, the world number one, pulled out a few days ago.  In the absence of such a fierce competitor, this presents a sweeping opportunity for Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka or Wozniacki to emerge as a first time champion at a major.  Whether one of these women realizes her potential will be contingent on the performance of those who have previously hoisted this trophy such as Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Clijsters.  Here’s a look at how the draw shapes up.

With the biggest title of her career at the Rogers Cup earlier this week, Wozniacki heads into New York with a wealth of confidence.  But, being the top seed at a major is an unfamiliar status for the Dane, how she handles the pressure will be key.  Wozniacki may need every ounce of mental fortitude to get through the round of 16 where 2007 U.S. Open winner Sharapova will be her likely adversary.  In Cincinnati, Sharapova suffered a foot injury.  If Sharapova is at full capacity, Wozniacki could find her claim to her first major postponed another year.

After a difficult few months whereby her ranking dropped outside the top 10, Kuznetsova’s game appears to be clicking again as evidenced by a recent title in San Diego.  As a potential quarterfinal opponent for Sharapova or Wozniacki, the 2004 U.S. Open champion is someone to keep an eye on in the top half of the draw.

The same applies for 2010 Australian Open semifinalist Na Li who will be searching to go one step further at the U.S. Open.  For that to happen, Li may have to knock out Kuznetsova in the round of 16 and stop either Sharapova or Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.  Also, Maria Kirilenko and Aravane Rezai are two dangerous competitors who may prevent any of these players from advancing to the quarterfinals.

In the bottom part of the top half of the draw, if the script follows the seeding, Vera Zvonareva and Jankovic will face off in the quarterfinals.  Lately though, Jankovic has been plagued by a myriad of injuries resulting in her downfall in the early rounds at the warm-up events.  Thus, the Serbian could be ousted in the primary stages by 2009 U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer or 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi.

Being a Wimbledon finalist in Zvonareva’s case could be a blessing or a curse.  In light of that experience, the Russian should have the belief to foil any potential upset in the round of 16 by rivals such as Nadia Petrova or Agnieszka Radwanska. Conversely, Zvonareva’s desire to erase that disappointment could lead to additional pressure and open the door for her counterparts.

If the results of the recent tournaments are any indication, it will be a Wozniacki versus Zvonareva semifinal or an all Russian affair, Zvonareva versus Sharapova.  Since Wozniacki defeated Zvonareva in Montreal, the Dane would have the edge.  If it comes down to a test of wills between Sharapova and Zvonareva, the former would have the upper hand.

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Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round:  Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters

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Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round: Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters


For the most part, the first week at Wimbledon has gone according to plan on the ladies’ side.  As a result, defending champion Serena Williams will square off in the round of 16 against the woman who beat her in the 2004 final, Maria Sharapova.  Similarly, the projected clash between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters has come to fruition.  This means that tomorrow, two individuals will be disappointed.  Let’s analyze how we arrived at this point and what lies ahead in the second week.

Top seed Serena Williams has simply run through her opponents. Likewise, Sharapova has had little difficulty getting to this stage, sending her adversaries home in straight sets.  Serena and Sharapova have played seven times with the former winning five of those meetings.  Curiously, since the 2004 championship, the two have never battled on grass.  In essence, this will be their rematch.  A significant factor will be how well Sharapova serves.  If the Russian does well in that department, Serena could be in trouble.

Na Li and Agniezska Radwanska who face each other in the fourth round have yet to drop a set in getting this far.  Radwanska holds a 2-1 record against Li and both victories have been on grass.  But for both Li and Radwanska, the quarterfinals will be a tough ask with either Sharapova or Serena as a rival.

A definite stunner was the dismissal of French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the first round by Kaia Kanepi.  Previously ranked as high as 18 in 2009, Kanepi’s placement dipped to 80.  After ousting another seed Alexandra Dulgheru in the third round, the talented Estonian is in the round of 16 .  Another surprise is Kanepi’s opponent in the fourth round, Klara Zakopalova.  The 28 year old had not gone pass the third round at a major previously.  Zakopalova advanced by bouncing 18th seed Aravane Rezai in the second round and trouncing 10th seed Flavia Pennetta in the third.

Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed, has been splendid on grass as she attempts to better her fourth round result from last year.  Jie Zheng, the 23rd seed, and Victoria Azarenka, the 14th seed, fell victim to Petra Kvitova in the second and third round respectively. Thus, Wozniacki takes on Kvitova in the round of 16.  The Dane carried their prior two matches.  Furthermore, with Kanepi or Zakopalova as a quarterfinal match-up, Wozniacki truly has a green light to the semifinals.

This was a disastrous week for the French Open winners.  The reigning champion Francesca Schiavone went out in the first round.  Last year’s title holder and 19th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova crashed out in the second round.  Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 victor, bowed out in the first round.  Hence, Ivanovic’s ranking of 45 will continue to head toward the cellar.

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title


In the finals of Aegon International, the ultimate warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Ekaterina Makarova fought off an injured Victoria Azarenka 7-6,6-4 to grab her maiden WTA title and become the first qualifier to seize the trophy.

Ranked 100th in the world, Makarova has been in top shape the entire week.  The Russian took care of 6th seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round and dismissed compatriot and 2008 finalist Nadia Petrova in the second round.  Then, Makarova booted countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and upset French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the semifinals.  Makarova continued her splendid performance by opening the first set with a comfortable game.  Subsequently, with a forehand up the line winner and an error by Azarenka, Makarova arrived at double break point.  With a forehand return winner, Makarova gained the break.  Later, despite a tough game where she dealt with a break point, Makarova extended her lead to 3-0.  With both knees strapped due to tendonitis, Azarenka continued to battle producing high quality tennis to remain one break behind.  With a backhand down the line winner, Azarenka had her second break chance.  However, using her lefty serve to her advantage, Makarova extricated  herself from trouble and closed the game with a backhand volley winner for 5-2.  But serving for the first set at 5-4, Makarova netted a backhand to hand Azarenka a break point.  When a second straight backhand crosscourt went array, Azarenka gained the break.  After Makarova fought off two break points to guard serve and Azarenka held at love, the set moved to a tiebreaker.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Makarova obtained the mini-break early on.  Further on, with an error by Azarenka, Makarova stretched her lead to 5-1.  Although Azarenka narrowed the gap to 6-5, Makarova’s luck held as Azarenka misfired with the forehand as the ball skidded off the line which terminated the set.

Playing through the pain, Azarenka maintained serve readily her first few times out in the second set.  Then at 2 all, Azarenka double faulted to gift Makarova a break point.  Makarova capitalized when Azarenka’s forehand sailed long.  Still, by forcing two mistakes from Makarova and with a forehand up the line winner, Azarenka promptly had triple break point.  By placing her serve well, Makarova leveled the game at deuce.  Yet, the Russian had to wipe out a fourth break point before consolidating for 4-2.  Unwilling to surrender, Azarenka kept striking winners and guarding serve with relative ease.  Thus, with a forehand winner, Azarenka arrived at double break point.  But, once again the Belarusian was turned away by Makarova who advanced to 5-3.  After Azarenka had a love game, two miscues placed Makarova at double championship point.  With an overhead winner, Makarova ended the match and captured the championship.

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Henin and Serena Homing In On A Quarterfinal Clash

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Henin and Serena Homing In On A Quarterfinal Clash


The sun has set on a the first week at the French Open.  As usual there were upsets, many of them expected.  However, Serena Williams and Justine Henin, two pre-tournament  favorites, have not disappointed.  As such, the much touted quarterfinal encounter between these rivals is one round away.  Here is a synopsis of the main developments of the initial days.

A bunch of big names took a tumble in the bottom section of the draw.  Leading the pack was Svetlana Kuznetsova, the defending champion.  After a miserable tune-up, Kuznetsova looked every bit the champion in the first round.  Moreover, with her back against the wall in the second round, Kuznetsova salvaged four match points against Andrea Petkovic to advance.  But, by the third round, Kuznetsova had utilized all her life lines.  She was taken down in three sets by Maria Kirilenko.

Victoria Azarenka, the 9th seed, has had a tough year.  The 2009 Sony Ericsson champ was schooled by Gisela Dulko, exiting in the first round.  But, in the next round, Dulko was herself stunned by South African qualifier Channelle Scheepers.  Scheepers reached the fourth round where she was stopped by Elena Dementieva.  Another surprise was Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the winner in Rome, also going out in the first round.

As the newly re-minted number two and a finalist in Madrid, expectations were high that Venus Williams would at least make the semifinals.  In the first three rounds, Venus forged a statement not only with her attire, but with her play by bouncing her adversaries in straight sets.  Yet, in the round of 16, Venus’ game went through a transformation.  Although this was their first meeting on clay, Venus had a  4-0 record against Nadia Petrova.  Still, Petrova, a 2005 semifinalist, pulled off a straight sets victory.  As such, for the fourth consecutive year, Venus was booted prior to the quarterfinals.

A combination of rain and obscurity resulted in a few matches being played over two days. When Aravane Rezai and Petrova resumed their third round with the third set leveled at 7, the French crowd was disenchanted as Petrova walked away with the win.  Later that day, France’s last hope, Marion Bartoli, in the top half of the draw, was eliminated in the fourth round by Shahar Peer.

After fighting through Aleksandra Wozniak in the third round and an easy fourth round win, 2004 finalist Dementieva is unquestionably a contender for the finals.  Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed, is another.  Following two uncomplicated rounds, Wozniacki was severely tested by Alexandra Dulgheru and still captured her third match in straight sets. Then, in the round of 16, warrior Wozniacki bested Flavia Pennetta in a three hour duel to move on to her first quarterfinal in Paris.  Bothered by an ankle injury, as Wozniacki faces scrappy Fransceca Schiavone, who booted Kirilenko, she may need to duplicated her last performance

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Serena and Venus Head the Field at 2010 French Open

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Serena and Venus Head the Field at 2010 French Open


Today, the French Open draw was revealed.  Because Serena and Venus Williams are the top two seeds, the possibility of an all Williams final exists. However, with Justine Henin, a four time champion, a potential quarterfinal rival for Serena and Venus perhaps seeing Aravane Rezai or Nadia Petrova in the round of 16, the list of spoilers is extensive.  Here’s a snapshot of the likely key match-ups which may eventually determine the victor.

After months of being a spectator, Serena rejoined the tour in Rome where she reached the semifinals. Despite an early exit in singles in Madrid,  Serena got reacquainted with the surface by prevailing in doubles along with Venus.  Serena’s first obstacle would come in the form of Marion Bartoli in the round of 16 since she would play a denizen. Still, Serena’s biggest hindrance lies in the quarters.  Serena lost to Henin, the eventual champion, in 2003 and 2007.  On the other hand, that match may not materialize as Henin could battle Maria Sharapova in the third round.  Samantha Stosur, a semifinalist in 2009 and the titlist in Charleston this year, is another potential tough quarterfinal opponent for Serena.

Following Serena, Jelena Jankovic is the next highest seed in the top half of the draw.  With players such as Dinara Safina, Yanina Wickmayer and Vera Zvonareva returning from injury on Jankovic’s side of the draw, she should have an uneven full path to the quarters.  Agnieszka Radwanska or Ana Ivanovic could be Jankovic’s quarterfinal adversary.  Since her glorious days at Roland Garros in 2008, Ivanovic has slipped.  For the first time in months, Ivanovic showed true signs of life with a semifinal posting in Rome.  Perhaps it will take Paris to completely get Ivanovic out of her slump.

Venus Williams and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova flank the bottom half of the draw.  So far this year, Kuznetsova’s results have been mediocre. Consequently, for Kuznetsova, it is safe to deduce that a replay of 2009 is a long shot.  In the first round, Kuznetsova faces a difficult opponent, Sorana Cirstea.  Should she move on, Maria Kirilenko could upset her in the third round.  Li Na and Francesca Schiavone could trouble Kuznetsova in the round of 16.  Moreover, legitimate stumbling blocks in the quarters for Kuznetsova include Flavia Pennetta, Lucie Safarova, Alexandra Dulgheru and Caroline Wozniacki.

On the other hand, Wozniacki, the third seed, has been hampered by an ankle injury since Charleston.  For that reason, Wozniacki has failed to make an impact after winning in Ponte Vedra Beach.  In the third round, Wozniacki may see Dulgheru and Pennetta or Safarova in the fourth round. Considering the caliber of those rivals, it’s doubtful that Wozniacki has lasting power.

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Clijsters Ejects Azarenka, Venus Narrowly Escapes

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Clijsters Ejects Azarenka, Venus Narrowly Escapes


The women’s draw sprang a leak for the first time at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open. Svetlana Kuznetsova,  the top seed, Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion and 4th seed, as well as Jelena Jankovic, the 2008 finalist and 7th seed, all went out in the round of 16.  Venus Williams barely hung on to defeat Daniela Hantuchova 1-6,7-5,6-4.

Hantuchova captured Williams’ first two service games and ran away with the first set 6-1.  In the second set, courtesy of a Williams double fault, Hantuchova arrived at break point. After Venus wiped that out, later on because of errors, Hantuchova capitalized for 2-0.  Promptly though, Williams broke at love to get back on serve.  Shortly thereafter, Hantuchova misfired on three consecutive backhands handing Williams a break.  Venus consolidated at love for a 4-2 edge.  But, with Williams serving for the second set at 5-4, as a result of a double fault and a netted backhand, Hantuchova had break point.  When Venus made a forehand error subsequent to a terrific down the line stroke by Daniela, the players were dead even.  Down the road, by provoking mistakes from Hantuchova, Williams obtained a break, then, with a love game, she acquired the second set.

Early on in the third set, both competitors had break point, but maintained serve.  Yet, in the ninth game, with aggressive shots, Williams forced Hantuchova into errors and on her third break chance converted for a 5-4 lead.  Following a forehand crosscourt winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Williams moved on to the quarterfinals when Hantuchova dumped the return into the net.

Here are Venus’ comments after the match to the questions by MiamiTennisNews.com:
Q.  You last played her in 2007, although you have a 90 record against her, it’s been a while.  Was there something different about her game today, or was it the conditions?
WILLIAMS:  Yeah, she played really well.  I haven’t seen her play so well in a long time, so I think she was really executing her game.  Conversely, I was a little bit off and struggling to find the court and everything else. You know, days like this you just have to figure out a way to win the point, even if it’s not pretty.  So I enjoy that battle. Of course, I’d like to win more straightforward, but when it counts and times get tough, I always feel confident that I’m gonna find a way to win the point.

Q.  I notice that you don’t call for oncourt coaching.  Do you enjoy trying to figure out the puzzle on your own?
WILLIAMS:  I’ve called before.  It’s been a while.  I like being on the court alone.  I enjoy that.  I’m not a player [who] looks at [her] box every point. I look inside myself, because I feel like I have the answer. And all I need is my box to say, Go, go.  You can do it. That’s enough.

In the next round, Williams battles Agnieszka Radwanska.  Radwanska ousted Yaroslava Shvedova in straight sets 6-1,6-4.

The opening set of the Clijsters and Azarenka match was a dizzying with breaks galore. Ultimately after scratching off double break point on her serve, Clijsters set up double break/set point with a forehand crosscourt winner.  Clijsters pocketed the set when Azarenka dumped a forehand into the net.

After Clijsters had an easy game to begin the second set, with a forehand crosscourt winner, she broke for 2-0.  As Azarenka’s frustration mounted, her play deteriorated leading to Clijsters finishing her off in no time flat.  The final score was 6-4,6-0.

Samantha Stosur will be Clijsters’ quarterfinal adversary.  On her fourth attempt, Stosur prevailed for the first time over Jelena Jankovic 6-1,7-6.

A mixture of inclement weather and a shoulder injury resulted in Kuznetsova’s downfall. The Russian was given her pink slip by Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli pounced Kuznetsova 6-3,6-0.

This was what Bartoli had to say when MiamiTennisNews.com asked:
Q.  This is your first quarters here since 2003.  How does it feel?
BARTOLI:  Yeah, it feels great, you know.  I had a couple of bad years here. It was really tough for me, because I really love this tournament since I played Orange Bowl here when I was 16 years old. Coming here and playing so badly last few years has been tough mentally.  This year I just arrived a bit earlier from Indian Wells . . .  and practiced really a lot more . . . to get used to the conditions, because it’s just really tough to play here. I think the work paid off.

Q. The last time you played Kuznetsova was in 2006 in Bali.  Is there something different about your game or her game?
BARTOLI:  My game is different. I am serving a lot better than before.  I have a more powerful game compared to the last time we played which was before 2007 when I ended up ranked in the top ten and made it to a grand slam final.  My level particularly has elevated tremendously. [My serve]  especially is more powerful.

Bartoli battles Yanina Wickmayer in the quarters.  Wickmayer trounced Timea Bacsinszki 6-0,6-1.

Finally, a comfortable win for Caroline Wozniacki as she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2,6-2.  Wozniacki’s quarterfinal rival, Justine Henin will not be as generous. Henin dispatched Vera Zvonareva 6-1,6-4.

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing


For the second straight day at the Sony Ericsson Open, a highly ranked male seed went out in the second round.  World number three and defending champion, Andy Murray, was beaten by Mardy Fish 6-3,6-4 .  Although Roger Federer, the number one seed, was pushed by Nicolas Lapentti.  Federer still won comfortably 6-3, 6-3.

In the opening set, in a game in which Fish double faulted, Murray captured the break for 3-1.  However, the next game, Murray threw in a double fault on break point permitting Fish to get back on serve.  With Murray serving in the ninth game, Fish attained triple break point.  Despite Murray reaching deuce and game point, Fish would not be denied.  Mardy manufactured two more break point chances and converted.  Then, on the third asking, Fish closed out the first set.

Poor serving and a tentative return game were what Murray brought to the table; thus, Fish took full advantage.  The initial game of the second set, Murray double faulted handing Fish his second break point opportunity, the American converted.  After consolidating and widening his lead to 3-1, Fish cruised on serve.  However, in the eighth game, Fish faced a 15-40 deficit.  Once again, the serve was his ally.  By raining a few bombs, Fish extricated himself out of this jam and maintained a 5-3 lead.  After Murray held, serving out the match, Fish once more was down break point.  Still, Fish snuffed Murray’s advantage with his serve.  Subsequently, with a couple of aces and unreturnables, Fish sealed the win.

Murray spends a lot of time training in South Florida, so MiamiTennisNews wondered:
Q.  You know this court almost more than anyone else.  You practice here all the time.  What made the difference in today’s match?
MURRAY:  Well, Mardy served well when he needed to.  You know, especially the second set when he was down break points he served well.  But I just wasn’t very good today, and I’m going to need to get a lot better.

After Murray’s debacle, a love-30 start to Federer’s opening game and a break point the subsequent one by Lapentti were preoccupying.  Still, with a few good serves, Federer held to stay on serve.  For his part, Lapentti had no difficulty holding with back to back love games for 2 all.  After multiple errant forehands, with Lapentti serving at 4-5, Federer connected on a forehand up the winner for deuce.  Later, Federer provoked a backhand error by Lapentti resulting in break point.  Then, the world number one produced a stellar backhand down the line pass to go ahead 5-3.  Following, with an easy game, Federer slammed the door on the first set.

Lapentti revealed no signs of disappointment, starting the second set strongly in part aided by Federer having trouble finding his mark with the forehand.  Similarly, Federer continued to have routine service games.  The good thing for Federer was that when it mattered, his forehand showed up.  With Lapentti serving at 3 all, Federer obtained break point with a forehand up the line winner.  When Lapentti’s forehand sailed long, Federer had the crucial break.  After getting out of love-30 mess to consolidate, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Federer broke Lapentti to finish the match.

As anticipated, Robin Soderling, Marin Cilic, Fernando Gonzalez and Fernando Verdasco advanced, all in straight sets.  Seeds Mikhail Youzhny, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka, Juan Monaco, Jurgen Melzer, Marcos Baghdatis and Feliciano Lopez also  moved on without difficulty.  On the other hand, Alberto Montanes, the 26th seed, Gilles Simon, seeded 20th, and Janko Tipsarevic, the 31st seed, were ousted.

For the women, it was business as usual.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, the top seed, with a 6-2,6-3 win, sent Agnes Szavay home . Venus Williams said arrivederci to Roberta Vinci with a 6-1,6-4 victory.  Agnieszka Radwanska took care of Ana Ivanovic 7-5,7-5.  Both Yanina Wickmayer and Marion Bartoli only needed two sets to pass to the round of 16.  The night match between Daniela Hantuchova and Nadia Petrova was less stimulating than expected.  Hantuchova prevailed over Petrova 6-2,6-4.  Timea Bacsinszky had an easy time with Polona Hercog 6-2,6-2.  Her next round will be more challenging as she faces Wickmayer.

The shocker for the women came from the doubles field as the top seed Cara Black and Liezel Huber were defeated in the first round by Natalie Grandin and Abigail Spears.

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap


img_3627_jhAfter eight days, the Australian Open field has been narrowed.  Here’s a synopsis of the early round stumbles, near misses and a crack at determining a champion.

Maria Kirilenko rocked Rod Laver Arena with a first day, first round, first match upset of 14th seed Maria Sharapova.  With a suspect serve, will and grit could not pull Sharapova through her first competitive match of the season.  Not resting on her laurels, Kirilenko progressed to the round of 16 where she received an early Easter gift from Dinara Safina.  Nine games into the first set, Safina threw in the towel because of a back injury.  As a result, Kirilenko reaches her initial major quarterfinal and will play Jie Zheng, the 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist.  Zheng ousted 11th seed Marion Bartoli in the third round, then took care of Alona Bondarenko. Now, one of these women has the opportunity to advance to her first Aussie Open semifinal.

Waiting in the wing for Kirilenko and Zheng is perhaps Justine Henin.  The 2004 Australian champion had to work tirelessly to book a quarterfinal spot.  Henin’s second round meeting with Elena Dementieva lived up to the hype with top-notch groundstrokes by both players.  Upon surviving that encounter, Henin came close to saying cheerio in the third round.  Alisa Kleybenova demanded  Henin’s best before going down in three sets.  A similar performance was required by Henin in the round of 16 with U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer proving a tough kill.  Again, Henin needed to go the distance to seal the win and a date with Nadia Petrova in the quarters.

Petrova was probably regarded as the Russian least likely to succeed at the start of the Open.  However, after dismantling U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters in the third round and ushering out French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in round four, Petrova is no doubt a formidable adversary. Therefore, if Petrova continues along the same lines, Henin may be in for a colossal surprise.

Defending champion Serena Williams has been impressive in marching to the round of 16.  Serena has yet to drop serve nor a set.  Her toughest test will be Aussie hopeful Sam Stosur in the upcoming round.  With a big serve and a win over Serena in Stanford last year, Stosur has the tools to upstage the world number one.

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw


australian_open_logoThe Australian Open draw is out.  More than any prior year, in this imprecise game of predictions, the only certainty is the uncertainty in determining a frontrunner for the trophy on both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s side.  With no one having a conspicuous edge, with few exceptions, anyone in the top ten can be regarded as a legitimate contender.  Moreover, on the women’s side, the return of some old faces with previous success at majors means that it’s is truly anybody’s title.

In the top half of the draw, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Robyn Soderling are the highest seeds respectively. Astonishingly, if the last couple of months are an accurate barometer, Davydenko is for the first time a true threat to make it all the way to the final.  After wrapping 2009 with the ATP World tour finals trophy, just  days ago, Davydenko brought down Federer and Rafael Nadal to take the title in Qatar.  However, the question remains as to whether Davydenko can translate that type of success to a best of five set tournament over two weeks. If the draw proceeds as expected, Davydenko will have a crack at Federer in the quarters and Djokovic or Soderling in the semis.

For his part, Federer has a pretty challenging road in attempting to reach the final.  In the first round, the world number one faces the ever dangerous Igor Andreev.  Subsequently, there are possible match-ups with Australian Open finalists Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in the round of 16. Other than Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist in ’09, is a potential in the quarters. So, Federer will need to be on his toes to advance beyond the quarters.

Third seed Djokovic should have a fairly unobstructed run to the quarters.  Still, Richard Gasquet who is getting back in the swing of the game may be a problem for Djokovic in the round of 16. Furthermore, on that side of the draw, majors’ finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Soderling could clash in the round of 16.  With both Tsonga and Soderling potential quarterfinal opponents for Djokovic and with both having wins over the latter, a Djokovic/Federer semifinal is in far from a foregone conclusion.

In the bottom half of the draw, for the defending champion Nadal and Andy Murray, technically, their path to a quarterfinal showdown appears uncomplicated. Yet, Radek Stepanek, a potential round of 16 encounter for Nadal, is perhaps the sole question mark.  In Murray’s case, a healthy Gael Monfils can spell trouble in the round of 16.  But, with Monfils fighting injury, Murray will not be bothered.

Last year’s semifinalist Andy Roddick has another golden opportunity to move at least to the quarterfinal despite Fernando Gonzalez seemingly in his way.  Also, with U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro fettered by a wrist injury, his progress deep into the draw is in doubt.  Del Potro is slated to see Marin Cilic in the quarters or Roddick in the semis.

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