Tag Archive | "Andy Murray"

Preview of the Men’s French Open Draw 2010

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Preview of the Men’s French Open Draw 2010


On Sunday, the 2010 French Open gets underway.  Before the first ball is struck at Roland Garros, here’s a taste of how the proceedings may unravel on the gentlemen’s side.

Since 2006, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had made it a habit of contesting for the trophy on the final Sunday. Last year, Robin Soderling interrupted that cycle by ousting Nadal in the fourth round.  After descending a wee bit in the rankings, with a record three Masters clay court titles, Nadal returned to his familiar spot at number two this week.  Therefore, this sets up the possibility of a final featuring defending champion Federer and his old nemesis Nadal.

By far, Nadal has been the best clay court player this season.  As such, it’s almost a given penciling his name as a finalist.  In examining the draw, Nadal, the top seed in the bottom section, appears to have a green line through the round of 16.  In the quarterfinals, the Spaniard could see slight resistance from fellow countrymen Fernando Versdasco and Nicolas Almagro.  The latter in particular competed well against Nadal in Madrid.  Still, Nadal should pull through.

Also in the bottom half are Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic, potential semifinal adversaries for Nadal.  Last year, Roddick had a career best showing in Paris by reaching the round of 16.  In the first round, Roddick takes on veteran Jarkko Nieminen, then, a possible third round match with Juan Monaco.  Hence, the American may say his goodbyes to Paris early. Assuming Roddick advances to the quarters, he could face the second best performer on clay this year, David Ferrer.  Considering that Roddick has not competed since the Sony Ericsson Open and with clay being his least successful surface, it hard to imagine Roddick progressing to the second week.

Despite a clay title and two other finals, Djokovic went down in the third round in 2009.  This year, Djokovic withdrew early in Serbia and his best result was the semifinals in Monte-Carlo. Consequently, for Djokovic, resting may be a blessing.  On the other hand, it could be a curse, not allowing the Serb to be clay fit.  With former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero potentially as a third round opponent and Ferrer in the quarterfinals, the third seed could have his hands full before getting a crack at Nadal.

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Federer’s Take On First Round Win and More

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Federer’s Take On First Round Win and More


Following his second round victory over Nicolas Lapentti at the Sony Ericsson Open, Roger Federer held a post match interview.  Here are the world number one’s comments to the questions specifically posed by MiamiTennisNews.com.

Q.  Your forehand at the beginning of the match seemed a little bit off.  What were the conditions out there?  It seemed a little cold and breezy.

FEDERER:  Yeah, conditions  I thought the ball was flying quite a bit actually, which I was sort of surprised about that, because in the practices I thought it was always very sort of humid and it was hard to get something out of the ball.  All of a sudden I was trying to generate pace on the ball and the thing would fly off my racquet like I couldn’t believe.  So I had to play a bit more safe and not go for the lines as much.  All of a sudden the court becomes this big, you know.  It’s tricky, but I tried a few different things on the return as well.  But when you start doing that, that also makes you a bit unsure.  And I think today I came through because I served very well.  I had a good start into basically all my service games.  I always knew I was going to have a couple of chances at least on the return games.  I was able to have a good record on breakpoint conversions, and I think that’s what won me the match today.

Q.  With some of the top seeds out, Djokovic and Murray, does it feel good to get your first match out?

FEDERER:  Sure, worries me as well being the top seed, seeing high seeds fall out of the tournament.  You know, I haven’t even started playing yet, and there’s two, you know, big names out of the tournament already. It’s a bit worrying at times.  But then again, I’m worried on my own work.  I’m relieved I’m through the first round, anyway.  I’ve got a feeling and a sense of how it plays out there in a match situation when the stadium is full.  Crowds were amazing today.  For first round and to have a sort of a sellout crowd and a record day, it’s nice to be part of it.

Q.  Speaking of the French Open, there has been talk about renovation of the venue because it’s somewhat sub-par compared to the other Majors.  Do you feel that’s the case?  What would you like to see changed there?

FEDERER:  Um, I’ve only heard bits and pieces, so I’m not entirely sure what they’re talking about.  For the venue to move takes a lot, so I think it’s not going to happen maybe in my lifetime, when I’m still playing.  But I definitely think there’s always things you could do better, you know.  I mean, it’s super crowded, especially the first week or so, down in the players’ area and Suzanne Lenglen on the other side.  That’s not really an option for me, who spends most time at Chatrier.  I think they could definitely improve their site a little bit.  But then again, you’re working with a small space.  I think all the tournaments are trying extremely hard to keep not only just the players happy, but also fans and media and everyone.  So it’s not always as easy as it seems, you know.  But I think it’s always very important for the tournament to try [its] best for the players, because we speak to the press.  If we’re extremely happy, we’re going to speak extremely well about the tournament.  I think that’s one of the reasons I guess they’re always looking for ways to improve, as well.

Q.  You’re going to be returning as the defending champion at Roland Garros.  Is there a different feeling that you’re going to have walking in as the defending champion as opposed to the past where you were only a finalist?

FEDERER:  Very different, yeah.  Finally less pressure, even though I’m defending champion.  I have to defend 2,000 points, and defend the Coupe des Mousquetaires.  It’s not something that’s so simple.  I know that.  I love those kind of challenges, you know.  I’m happy I have that kind of pressure.  But I think it’s probably going to be one of the first times at the French Open I’m going to walk in the grounds smiling thinking, you know, what?  I’ve already won this tournament.  It’s fine.
But I will try everything I possibly can to defend again.  The last few years I did feel a lot of pressure from myself, because I based a lot in the preparation already since like maybe December, February.  And then April again in the buildups, everything was based upon, you know, being as fit as I could be at the French Open.  So this time around I don’t have to do that, because I’ve already won the French.  Now I can just concentrate on playing tennis and enjoying the venue, which has not always been the case for me in the past.

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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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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO


Second round play for the ATP concludes today at the Sony Ericsson Open with Roger Federer and Andy Murray from the top half of the draw the feature attraction.  On the women’s side, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams play for a spot in the round of 16.

Fernando Verdasco, the 10th seed, begins the proceedings on stadium court by taking on Dudi Sela.  That’s followed by Williams and Roberta Vinci, their first tour meeting.  Then, Murray, the 3rd seed and defending champion, starts his title defense by facing American Mardy Fish. Murray holds a 3-1 record versus Fish and has prevailed in their last three meetings.  The afternoon session finishes with Kuznetsova battling Agnes Szavay.  In 2007, Szavay reached her first WTA final in New Haven and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.  Both times, then 18 years old, Szavay’s dream run came to an end at the hands of Kuznetsova.  These two have not played since.  Therefore, this should be an intriguing battle.

On the outside courts, Ana Ivanovic attempts to knock out 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The latter defeated the former for the first time in Rome on clay last year.  With Ivanovic struggling with her game, Radwanska may run away with this one.  Marin Cilic, the male 7th seed, faces Stephane Robert. This is the initial encounter for these two.  With Cilic at the highest ranking of his career, it should be an uncomplicated match. Also, Robin Soderling, seeded 5th, squares off against Peter Luczak. Soderling won their only previous skirmish in 2005 in straight sets.

In the evening, Federer takes on Nicolas Lapentti.  With a 3-0 record against Lapentti, this should be no head-scratcher for the world number one.  The ladies’ night match-up is Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova. Petrova leads their head to head 4-1.

It’s men’s day at the grandstand where the must see players include Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis and Gilles Simon. In addition, Rafael Nadal and fellow Majorcan Bartolome Salva-Vidal clash with doubles second seed Mike and Bob Bryan.

Here is the complete schedule :

SATURDAY, MARCH 27

STADIUM start 11:00 am
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs M Fish (USA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA

Starting at 8:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs [LL] N Lapentti (ECU) – ATP
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
[WC] R Nadal (ESP) / B Salva-Vidal (ESP) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[20] G Simon (FRA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
A Petkovic (GER) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA
A Falla (COL) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
P Hercog (SLO) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
G Dulko (ARG) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[6] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) vs M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) – WTA

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs [WC] P Martic (CRO) – WTA
P Luczak (AUS) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
S Robert (FRA) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
T de Bakker (NED) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[31] J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs P Petzschner (GER) – ATP
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs J Knowle (AUT) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP
M Berrer (GER) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:30 PM
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs J Brunstrom (SWE) / J Rojer (AHO) – ATP
A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
T Garbin (ITA) / V Ruano Pascual (ESP) vs K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
F Serra (FRA) vs [26] A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) – ATP
B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) vs [5] L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT) – ATP

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
[1] C Black (ZIM) / L Huber (USA) vs N Grandin (RSA) / A Spears (USA) – WTA
M Damm (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs I Karlovic (CRO) / D Vemic (SRB) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) vs C Kas (GER) / D Norman (BEL) – ATP
I Senoglu (TUR) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

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Here Comes The Sony Ericsson Open

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Here Comes The Sony Ericsson Open


The next couple of weeks, tennis’ spotlight shifts to Miami as the ATP and WTA’s best players descend on Crandon Park to battle for the Sony Ericsson Open trophy.

Leading the troops for the ATP will be this year’s Australian Open champion and world number one, Roger Federer.  After an early exit at Indian Wells, Federer is looking to regain his form by ending a four year drought in South Florida.  However, Federer’s task won’t be easy.  Defending champion and 2010 Australian Open finalist, Andy Murray, will attempt to make it two in a row while Rafael Nadal after being sidelined by injuries for weeks will try to prevail for the first time in Miami.

Also, not to be forgotten, Novak Djokovic, Sony’s 2008 victor and new world number two, who like Federer stumbled at Indian Wells will be ready to sizzle in the Miami heat.  After advancing to the finals at Indian Wells, Andy Roddick, the champion in 2004, will see if he can continue his excellent play in the Magic City.  All this bodes well for a very competitive tournament on the men side.

Although reigning Australian Open champion and five time Sony winner, Serena Williams, will be absent due to injury, sister Venus, a three time vanquisher at Sony is hoping to capture glories of old.  Venus last reached the finals in 2001.  But, Victoria Azarenka, last year’s conqueror, will have plenty to say as she sets her eyes on a second straight Sony prize.  In addition, Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open finalist and  Jelena Jankovic, 2008 Sony finalist, who squared off in the finals at Indian Wells will do their best to carry their momentum down to Sony.

After a disastrous start to the season, former Sony winner and 2009 French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova is searching to reestablish her footing by doing well in Miami.  Yet,  the most intriguing players on the women side are Kim Clijsters and wildcard entrant Justine Henin.  With both ladies fresh out of retirement and having quickly found their winning ways, the field can be said to be wide open.

Along with singles, there will be plenty of doubles action to enjoy.  After being derailed at Indian Wells in the first round, Mike and Bob Bryan will be seeking redemption while Daniel Nestor  and Nenad Zimonjic who were disappointed in the finals in the desert by Marc Lopez and Nadal will be trying to make amends.  Liezel Huber and Cara Black, the ladies’ top seed,  hope that this will be the year they will breakthrough with their initial title in Miami.

Qualification rounds start today.  To purchase tickets, take a look at the draws and for more detailed information, click on sonyericssonopen.com.

MiamiTennisNews.com will once again be on the grounds providing live daily coverage.  For up to the minute news,  follow us on Twitter under the username MiamiTennisNews.

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Djokovic Delivers in Dubai for Second Successive Title

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Djokovic Delivers in Dubai for Second Successive Title


img_1457Two weeks after Novak Djokovic was ousted in the semifinals in Rotterdam by Mikhail Youzhny, in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships the defending champion avenged that loss in beating Youzhny 7-5, 5-7,6-3 for his first title of the year.

The final was played over two days because of rain.  On Saturday, after cruising along on serve, Djokovic hit a bump.  Following errors by Djokovic, with a forehand swing volley winner, Youzhny had breakpoint.  The Russian converted when Djokovic’s forehand landed wide.  However, after Novak erased a game point with a forehand winner for deuce, Mikhail dumped the next two strokes into the net leveling the set at 3 all. Subsequent to a routine hold, Djokovic earned double break point with a forehand crosscourt winner.  When Youzhny netted a backhand, Djokovic took a  5-3 lead.  However, serving for the set, Djokovic started with two miscues for 0-30.  After producing a beautiful forehand up the line winner in a seemingly never-ending point which Youzhny had multiple opportunities to take; a fatigued Djokovic double faulted to stare at double break point.  Courtesy of another error by Novak, Mikhail obtained the break to get back on serve.  Serving to push the set to a tiebreaker, Youzhny sent a backhand long to go down break point.  Then, the Russian misfired on a forehand volley to give Djokovic the set.

After Djokovic carried a rain interrupted first game, he capitalized on a error filled game by Mikhail to jump ahead 2-0. With Djokovic trying to consolidate, at 30-15, the match was postponed due to heavy downpour.

Today when the players returned, Djokovic promptly took a 3-0 edge. Although arduous, Youzhny maintained serve for 3-1.  Sleeping on it did Youzhny well.  After Djokovic began his game with a double fault, Youzhny produced a forehand up the line winner for double break point.  The Russian got back on serve by crushing a backhand down the line. Despite struggling, Youzhny squared the set at 3 a piece. Serving at 3-4, Youzhny fought off break point to hold. The next game, Djokovic double faulted to donate a break point.  With an overhead winner, Youzhny took a 5-4 advantage causing an angry Djokovic to destroy a racket.  However serving for the set and ahead 30-15, after a backhand crosscourt pass winner by Djokovic, Youzhny committed two straight errors which permitted Djokovic to break back.  Unfazed however, Youzhny baited Djokovic into errors and broke at love.  Then, with a love service game, Youzhny send the match into a third set.

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Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal

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Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal


img_1180_rnIn the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, defending champion and world number two, Rafael Nadal, prematurely set down his racket due to the sudden onset of a knee injury.  For several seasons, the 23 year old has been afflicted with one form of physical ailment or another.  After an extraordinary victory in 2008, last June, Nadal was unable to defend his title at Wimbledon due to tendonitis.  As an individual who has exhibited exemplary conduct both on and off the court, there’s a noticeable void when a player of Nadal’s caliber is absent.  Here are a few reasons why the game is better with Nadal.

With Andy Murray dominating from the very first stroke and only three games from a straight sets victory, there was little suspense as to the outcome of the quarterfinals. Still, with the Spaniard, there is often a sliver of hope for a comeback.  One of Nadal’s most admirable attribute is his inherent belief, regardless of the score, that he is not vanquished until the last ball is struck.  In Nadal’s psyche, there’s invariably that one shot which sparks the turning point in the match.  It’s hard to bet against a man who last year in Australia after a thrilling five hour and 20 minute, five set semifinal defeated Roger Federer after another five setter with less than 24 hour turnaround.

If one were to browse the dictionary for the definition of driven or relentless, it would not be shocking to discover a photograph of Nadal.  Whether in practice or in match situation, Nadal gives 1000% effort, a reflection of his perfectionist personality. There’s an ATP commercial which describes tennis players as “gladiators” on the pitch; perhaps no person epitomizes that description better than Nadal.  Each time he steps on the court it seems a duel to the death.

While Nadal’s all-encompassing dedication is laudable, the intense manner he approaches the game has taken a toll on his body.  Bouts of tendonitis in both knees have hampered Nadal’s movement.  With the nature of his game, it’s inevitable that these structures will be under recurrent stress. Therefore, even for an athlete as talented as Nadal, it becomes impossible to compensate.  One option could be for him to go on a lengthy sabbatical since resting is crucial for healing.  The down side would be that his ranking would suffer. Sometimes, one wishes Nadal could trade in his knees for new ones every so many miles as he does his tennis shoes.

The injuries are unfortunate because over the years Nadal has grown as a player.  He has incorporated different shots which have helped him succeed on surfaces other than clay.  In some respects, Nadal’s resume is more well-rounded and accomplished than Federer’s.  Nadal’s first major was at age 18 while Federer’s came at age 21.The Spaniard has an Olympic gold medal in singles and a couple of Davis Cup titles.  On the contrary, there’s been a sporadic commitment by the Swiss to the Davis Cup.

In an era dominated by Federer, Nadal’s most significant contribution is proving that there are many ways to triumph.  These two players have contrasting styles as well as differences in other areas.  Nadal is a lefty, Federer a righty. The former plays two handed on the backhand wing while the latter has a one handed stroke.  Federer moves as a quasi ballet dancer on court, Nadal more like a football player. But, there is common ground in that they are both passionate about their sport.

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Britain Left Wanting:  Federer Victorious In Australia

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Britain Left Wanting: Federer Victorious In Australia


img_0461Seventy four years have lapsed since a British male won a major.  Today, world number one Roger Federer prolonged the Brits’ agony by at least a few more months.  In the Australian Open final, Federer downed Andy Murray 6-3,6-4,7-6 for his fourth Aussie title and his 16th major overall.

On Federer’s serve, Murray took the first point of the match with a backhand down the winner. Then, with a backhand error by Federer, Murray got up love-30. Still, despite Andy focusing on Roger’s backhand, Federer pulled off the first game. Next, with a double fault by Murray and a backhand down the line winner, Federer arrived at triple break point. Federer capitalized with a forehand crosscourt winner for a 2-0 lead.  However,  Murray quickly recovered.  With an absurd backhand down the line winner, Murray got double break point.  Murray got on the board with a successful forehand crosscourt pass.  Feeding Federer a steady diet of backhands, Murray leveled the set. When Federer netted a backhand volley, Murray again had double break point.  Thanks to a string of aces, Federer survived three break points to keep his head in front 3-2.  After Federer captured a pressure filled game for 4-3, Murray started serve with a double fault.  At 30 all, Federer pushed Murray off the court with an acutely angled crosscourt backhand and hit a backhand down the line winner for break point.  Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Federer sealed the break for 5-3. Subsequently, with a strong service game, Federer wrapped up the set.

After a comfortable service game to open the second set, Murray faced triple break point when Federer crushed a forehand crosscourt pass for a winner. By provoking a forehand mistake by Murray, Federer seized the break for 2-1. Even though Murray applied plenty of pressure, Federer consolidated for 3-1.  With a backhand down the line winner and a double fault, Roger had two more chances to extend his lead by two breaks.  But, Murray found the brakes in time to keep the deficit to one break. Despite extricating himself from a triple break point game, Murray never managed a break point in the second set.  Moreover, Murray’s strategy of berating Federer’s backhand was failing.  At that point, Federer had converted more backhand winners than his opponent.  With an effortless game, Federer captured a two set advantage.

The third set was extremely competitive since Murray found his rhythm on the first serve.  After an easy service game to start, by being offensive, Murray earned a break point.  However, Andy wasted it when he misfired on a backhand down the line.  Later, serving at 2-3, Federer dumped a backhand stroke and forehand volley into net then sent a forehand crosscourt long for love-40.  By winning a multiple stroke volley exchange, Murray got up 4-2.  That shot brought Murray and a hibernating Australian public back to life.  Murray readily widened his lead to 5-2.  After a love hold to force Murray to serve for the set; with a forehand crosscourt return winner, Federer had break point. Murray momentarily stopped Federer with a booming serve. Unable to handle a backhand volley, Murray gave Federer another chance to get back on serve.  Roger did so when Andy’s forehand found the bottom of the net.  Ultimately, the set was settled in a tiebreaker.

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Back to Back Doubles Titles For Serena & Venus In Melbourne

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Back to Back Doubles Titles For Serena & Venus In Melbourne


australian_open_logoFor the second successive year at the Australian Open, Venus and Serena Williams toppled top doubles seed Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the finals.  With a 6-4,6-3 victory the siblings earned their fourth Aussie title.

After the Williams failed to capitalize on Serena’s forehand crosscourt winner for break point in the opening game, Black came up with two clutch volleys in a multiple deuce game to break Serena for a 3-1 lead. However, for Huber and Black, the elation was brief. Disgusted with her prior play, Serena redeemed herself with a forehand crosscourt winner and mid-court volley winner.  When Huber double faulted and committed a miscue on forehand volley, the match was back on serve.  After Venus easily held for 3 all, aided by two double faults by Black, Venus and Serena broke for 4-3. As Serena struggled with her serve, Huber and Black had three break chances to level the set.  But, as a result of service return errors, Black and Huber wasted their opportunities. After holding serve, Huber and Black resisted surrendering the set.  But, on the third set point, Black dumped a forehand into the net, bringing Serena and Venus one set away from defending their title.

With a terrific top spin lob, Serena gave her team break point to start the second set.  When Huber’s backhand volley stayed on her side of the net, team Williams secured a 1-0 edge.  Once Serena steadied her serve, the pair easily consolidated for 2-0.  Although Huber and Black remained close the rest of the way, they were unable to make any progress on the Williams’ games.  While serving to prolong the match, ahead 30-0, Huber again double faulted for 30 all. Then, Serena thumped a forehand return.  With Huber unable to dig out the volley, the Williams had break/match point.  Subsequently, with a great backhand reflex volley winner, Serena sealed the championship.  This triumph gave the Williams their 11th doubles majors trophy.

That afternoon, in the mixed doubles semifinal, Ekaterina Makarova and Jaroslav Levinsky prevailed over Flavia Pennetta and Marcelo Melo while top seed Leander Paes and Cara Black beat Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie. The winners will face off  in the finals Sunday.

In the men’s semifinal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a virtual spectator as Roger Federer assumed total control of the proceedings.  Federer defeated Tsonga 6-2,6-3,6-2 to set up a mouth watering encounter with Andy Murray.  Since Murray is one of the selected members of the exclusive club of those with a winning record versus the world’s number one, this should be a fiercely contested final.

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ATP Australian Open Early Round Rewind

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ATP Australian Open Early Round Rewind


img_0642_mcAfter one week of play, the cream of the ATP has risen to the top at the Australian Open.   Although some had a tougher road than others, eight of the top seeds are still in the hunt.  Here’s a look back at the tournament’s key moments to date.

In the first round, Igor Andreev’s forehand gave world number one Roger Federer all sorts of headache.  After stealing the first set, Andreev was just one forehand winner away from serving for a two set to one lead.  When Andreev’s shot sailed long, so did his opportunity at an upset.  Thereafter, Federer cruised through his matches.

Another difficult challenge lays ahead for Federer in the fourth round in Aussie Lleyton Hewitt who will have the support of the crowd.  Still, Federer is favored in that match.  Should Federer advance, his tasks gets more complicated since he could face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters, a man who has beaten him their last two meetings.

While Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist last year, struggled through his first round match then benefited from a retirement his last round;  Davydenko, his fourth round opponent, has been in peak form through three rounds.  If Davydenko moves on to the quarterfinals, Federer’s streak of 22 consecutive majors semifinal will be in serious jeopardy.

An astounding fatality in the first round was French Open finalist, Robin Soderling. Playing Marcel Granollers ranked 113, Soderling let a two set to none advantage evaporate.  Current U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro who has been dealing with a wrist injury also made an early exit. After defeating James Blake in a thrilling second round match, in the fourth round, Del Potro fought hard but came up short against Marin Cilic in another five setter.  Cilic who has now gotten to the quarterfinals in the last two majors will battle Andy Roddick.

Although Roddick has been pushed with each passing round, he’s had the answers.  After straight sets wins in rounds one and two, Roddick required four sets against Feliciano Lopez, then five versus Fernando Gonzalez, the Australian Open 2007 finalist and his coach’s former pupil. If Roddick aces the Cilic exam, it will be either Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray his next nemesis.

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