Tag Archive | "Australian Open"

Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy

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Serena and Venus Are Back: Wimbledon Is Anyone’s Trophy


The Williams sisters made their long awaited return to competitive tennis this week. Despite being rusty, with nine of the last eleven championships at the All England Club, Venus and Serena are among the favorites. Moreover, the Wimbledon draw sets up the potential for a fifth all Williams final. Here’s a more detailed analysis.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki hopes to validate her ranking with a first major. However, Wozniacki will need to do some heavy lifting to achieve that feat.

In the quarterfinals, Wozniacki may have to go through 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. In addition, for the Dane, a semifinal encounter with defending and four time winner Serena or reigning French Open champion Na Li may be in the cards. Needless to say, Wozniacki will have to work hard to earn her maiden major.

Serena will begin her title defense by facing the talented Aravane Rezai in the first round. In the fourth round, Serena could see another sizeable French hurdle in 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli.

Later, in the quarterfinals, Serena may clash against Li who is no push over. In Li’s case, Sabine Lisicki may present difficulties in the second round. Lisicki has been regaining her form and confidence as is evident with her recent title in Birmingham.

Sharapova is again in the mix at another major. While a first round match with countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze could be testy, Sharapova should come through. Sharapova is likely to have a tougher time in the fourth round if Samantha Stosur is the opponent.

Serena had been out of commission nearly a year. For the seventh seed to claim her fifth Wimbledon crown, she will have to come up with the type of performance which resulted in her surprise victory at the Australian Open in 2007. With Serena’s track record, it’s certainly hard to bet against her. Yet, with Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Flavia Pennetta and Julia Goerges in the top half of the draw, there is an endless list of players capable of pulling off an upset.

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title



For the second consecutive day, the French Open became a part of history as Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1 to equal Bjorn Borg with six French Open titles. Nadal also became the seventh man in the exclusive club of those with 10 or more major trophies.

The last time the two clashed in a final at a major was the 2009 Australian Open. This was the twenty-fifth meeting between Nadal and Federer, their fifth at Roland Garros and their fourth final.

In 2008, Nadal blew Federer off the court 6-1,6-3,6-0. After ending Novak Djokovic’s 2011 unbeaten run at 41 matches, Federer came in rejuvenated and relaxed, it was evident in the first set.

Subsequent to guarding serve, on a backhand error by Nadal, Federer had double break point. Despite Nadal getting to deuce, on his fourth opportunity, Federer seized the break and consolidated for 3-0.

After constructing a 5-2 advantage, as Nadal’s forehand sailed long, Federer had set point. However, with the dropshot missing its mark, Nadal was at deuce and later captured the game.

Serving for the initial set, Federer’s first serve which was instrumental in building his lead deserted him. Federer netted a backhand to hand Nadal break point. When the Swiss misfired on a volley after a passing shot, the players were back on serve.

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final



Novak Djokovic kept his winning streak and perfect season alive today. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to win his second title in Miami and his fourth consecutive of the season.

It was the second week in a row that Nadal and Djokovic, world number one and two respectively, were meeting in a Masters 1000 final. The last time the top two players clashed for the title at this tournament in1995, number two Andre Agassi beat number one Pete Sampras in a third set tiebreaker.

With a backhand up the line pass for a winner on his second break point opportunity, Nadal obtained a 2-1 advantage. It was the first time, Djokovic had dropped serve this tournament.

After going down double break point, Nadal found the equalizer. The Spaniard survived another break point before consolidating for 3-1.

Then, Nadal captured a second break for 4-1. The Spaniard salvaged another break point before widening his lead to 5-1. Nadal dropped serve trying to close out the set the first time around. But, despite difficulties, on his second attempt Nadal banked the set.

After wasting multiple break points in the initial set, Djokovic aided by errors from Nadal seized the break for 2-0 in the second. Subsequent to wiping out a break point, Djokovic consolidated for 3-0 when Nadal’s slice backhand found the net.

Djokovic pressured Nadal on serve while having an easier time himself. At 40-0, Djokovic sent a beautiful lob for a winner to stretch his gap to 4-1. Ultimately, with an ace on triple set point, Djokovic threw the gauntlet for a deciding set.

The opening game of the third, Nadal overcame love-30 to hold. Serving at 1-2, Djokovic battled a similar predicament and got to 2 all. As the set progressed, despite a few 15-30 or 0-30 games, neither manufactured a break point. Fittingly, the championship was settled by a tiebreaker.

The first four points of the tiebreaker, neither competitor maintained serve. When Nadal double faulted, Djokovic had a mini-break at 3-2. With Nadal’s next two strokes sailing wide, Djokovic had a 5-2 cushion.

Following, Djokovic struck a forehand winner down the line for 6-2 and four championship points. Although Nadal won the next two points, on his third opportunity, Djokovic connected on forehand winner to pocket the trophy.

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Azarenka Bypasses Clijsters to Advance to the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Azarenka Bypasses Clijsters to Advance to the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open



Tonight, two Sony Ericsson Open champions collided for a spot in the semifinals. Victoria Azarenka the 2009 champion brushed aside 2005 and defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first semifinal of the season.

Clijsters’ fourth round match against Ana Ivanovic was rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday due to rain. Then, the Belgian had to overcome a 1-5 deficit in the third set to make it to the quarterfinals. Consequently, it was anyone’s guess what physical and emotional toll this would have.

At 1 all, Clijsters committed an error to give Azarenka break point. The Belarusian converted when Clijsters sent a backhand long. Azarenka then comfortably consolidated for a 3-1 edge.

Yet, with Azarenka pushing a forehand long, Clijsters had triple break point. The Belgian capitalized when Azarenka threw in her second double fault of the game.

At that point, Clijsters seemed over her lackadaisical start. However, after having double game point, Clijsters dumped a backhand pass into the net to give Azarenka break point. As a result of a miscue from Clijsters, Azarenka took the game and consolidated for 5-3.

Breaking Clijsters for the third time, Azarenka bagged the opening set.

Subsequent to a quick hold, on a double fault by Clijsters, Azarenka had her second break point of the second set. Azarenka moved in front 2-0 when Clijsters’ forehand landed out of play.

Still, Clijsters fought back breaking right away. Again though after having game point, Clijsters was broken. Azarenka duplicated that achievement Clijsters’ next service game to jump ahead 5-1.

With Azarenka serving, Clijsters dismissed two match points and broke. Clijsters shrunk the gap to 5-3.

At this point, the crowd was still spurring Clijsters on hoping for a repeat of yesterday’s miracle. However, Azarenka would not be denied. On her third match point opportunity, Azarenka sealed the deal.

After the match, Clijsters was asked about what went wrong “Obviously, tonight was going to be very tough. I just didn’t feel good out there mentally, physically, [it] didn’t feel right”.

Whether it could have been too much tennis? Clijsters replied “I don’t know, a combination of a few things. . . Tough last few days, but not in a way that I should not be ready for that. I train hard enough. . . I just didn’t have any fighting spirit. It’s obviously tough against someone like her. Against some lower ranked players maybe it’s possible to get through matches”.

Azarenka had played Clijsters five times prior with only one win. Therefore, MiamiTennisNews inquired what was the difference today. Azarenka responded “ I played a little bit more aggressive. I tried to come in more. That was the biggest difference and physically I was much more stable today”.

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Flawless Djokovic Neutralizes Nadal in Indian Wells Final

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Flawless Djokovic Neutralizes Nadal in Indian Wells Final



Novak Djokovic’s perfect 2011 record was on the line in the final of the BNP Paribas Open today.  Yesterday, in the semifinals, Djokovic defeated Roger Federer for the third time this year to supplant Federer as the world number two.

This afternoon, Djokovic faced world number one Rafael Nadal for the title. The 2008 Indian Wells champion, Djokovic extended his winning streak to 18 in a row by downing Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Subsequent to comfortable holds by both players, Djokovic stared at triple break point.  Although Djokovic managed to salvage those, with a double fault, he handed Nadal a fifth break chance which the Spaniard converted for a 3-2 lead.

However, Djokovic promptly broke back.  Quickly though, Nadal dismissed a couple of game points and with Djokovic gifting him a few backhand errors Nadal stole the game.

After consolidating at love for 5-3, Nadal served another love game to close out the set.

Despite an absent first serve, Nadal held the first two games of the second set at love.  On the heels of squandering two game points, Nadal committed a backhand mistake to give Djokovic a second break point.  By sending a forehand long, Nadal surrendered the game.

Yet, at break point with a charitable double fault, Djokovic awarded the next game to Nadal.  Again though, Nadal’s inability to hit first serves came back to bite him as Djokovic capitalized after reaching triple break point for a 5-3 advantage.

Although he had to survive a break point and required six game points, in the end, Djokovic overcame Nadal’s charge and wrapped up the second set.

Two factors contributed to the shift in Djokovic’s fortunes in the second set.  One, he was finally able to make Nadal pay for a dismal first serve percentage of 25.  Secondly, Djokovic directed about 75% of  his shots to the Nadal backhand with great success in provoking errors.

By sticking with this winning formula, Djokovic pushed Nadal into misfiring enough times to rip off an opening break.  Subsequent to consolidating at love, on a forehand miscue from Nadal, Djokovic had another break point opportunity.  When Nadal’s backhand traveled out of play, Djokovic had a 3-0 double break edge.

After Djokovic easily got to 4-0, Nadal fought hard and avoided posting a bagel.  With his foot firmly on the pedal, Djokovic manhandled Nadal the rest of the way and comfortably took the set and the championship.

With victories also at the Australian Open and Dubai, Djokovic has been supreme on the hardcourt.  In their head to head, Nadal had a 16-7 mark over Djokovic and had prevailed in their previous five finals.

If Djokovic maintains this level of play, soon, he will be challenging Nadal for the number one spot.

Unequivocally, as the ATP tour journeys to Miami, Djokovic will be the man to beat at the Sony Ericsson Open.

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Djokovic Victorious For Second Time at the Australian Open

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Djokovic Victorious For Second Time at the Australian Open



In the Australian Open final, 2008 champion Novak Djokovic and 2010 finalist Andy Murray clashed for the title.  Djokovic trounced Murray 6-4,6-2,6-3 to win his second career major.

Both Murray and Djokovic looked in peak form coming into this encounter and were evenly matched in many respects.  Both players were competing in their third final at a major.  Although Djokovic led their head to head 4-3, Murray prevailed in their last three meetings.  Yet, their ultimate tussle was in 2009 at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Thus, expectations were heightened that this would be a sensational battle.

After Djokovic held at love to start the first set, Murray wiped out a break point and needed five deuces before securing his first game.  As the set progressed, Murray appeared content to allow Djokovic to force the issue while playing defense.  On a backhand crosscourt error by Djokovic, Murray squared the set at 4 all.  For his part, Djokovic continued to cruise on serve and at 40-15 connected on forehand crosscourt winner to move in front 5-4.  With Murray serving, Djokovic stepped up the aggression.  After a forehand up the line winner, Djokovic caused Murray to dump a forehand pass into the net on a 39 shot rally to arrive at double break point.  When Murray’s forehand traveled long, Djokovic pocketed the set.

Following a love hold, on his second break point chance, Djokovic struck a backhand crosscourt winner to steal the game for a 2-0 lead in the second set.  Then, after comfortably consolidating, Djokovic enticed Murray into four straight errors to break at love and stretch his advantage to 4-0.  Djokovic had a string of seven successive games and 5-0 edge before Murray held serve even needing to blot out a set point.  The players exchanged breaks the last two games as Djokovic built a two set to none cushion.

For Murray, it was clear that old reliable would not work this time as it had not in previous major finals.  His fall back strategy of being defensive was not troubling Djokovic in the least.  Moreover, Murray’s backhand, his star shot, was leaking mistake after mistake while the forehand was even more disappointing.  Therefore, Murray had to try another tactic.  However, he was conspicuously confused as to what to do.

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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title

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Clijsters Withstands Li Na to Clench First Australian Open Title




Coming into this year’s Australian Open championships, most analysts tagged Kim Clijsters as the outright favorite.  Today, the Belgian demonstrated that they were correct in pegging her as the one to beat.  Clijsters fought off China’s Li Na 3-6,6-3,6-3 to claim her first major in Melbourne, the fourth of her career.

Subsequent to a love hold, Clijsters broke Li at love thanks to a net court winner and took a 2-0 lead in the opening set.  However, with Clijsters donating four straight errors after having game point, Li erased the advantage.  Later, serving at 2-3, Li overcame a 15-40 deficit to reach deuce.  Despite resistance from Clijsters, Li equalized the set at 3 all.  With Clijsters flubbing a forehand volley, Li arrived at double break point.  She capitalized and obtained a 4-3 edge when Clijsters dumped a backhand crosscourt into the  net.  After staving off a break point, Li consolidated for 5-3 and with a forehand crosscourt pass winner broke Clijsters for the third time to secure the set.

Clijsters was acutely aware that Li would not be an easy put away.  In the semifinals, Li salvaged a match point before upsetting world number one Caroline Wozniacki to become the first Chinese female to book a spot in the final at a major.  Moreover, just two weeks ago in Sydney, Li defeated Clijsters in the final.   More importantly, although this was Li’s initial major final, she was doing a great job at bottling her nerves.

In spite of two game points at the start of the second set, Li failed to maintain serve, double faulting to hand Clijsters the first game.  Yet, like in the previous set, on her second break point opportunity, Li provoked a backhand mistake from Clijsters to get back on serve.  Still, the very next game, with a crosscourt winner, Clijsters broke for a 2-1 lead.  Relentless, on her fourth break point, Li struck a forehand crosscourt winner to level the set at 2 all.  Then, Li obliterated double break point to hold serve for 3-2.  But Clijsters would not be denied.  Following a tough service game, Clijsters again was at double break point.  This time with a backhand down the line winner, the Belgian broke for 4-3 and ultimately consolidated.  Next, with Li gifting a few errors, Clijsters closed the set with another break of serve.

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open




Seven days of competition have passed at the Australian Open.  While Rafael Nadal has breezed through his matches to get to the round of 16, defending champion Roger Federer had a hiccup in the second round.  As usual, there were a few unexpected departures in the first week.  Here’s a summary of what has taken place this initial week.

It’s been smooth sailing for Nadal in getting through to the round of 16.  The world number one’s excellent form will come in handy as he faces 2010 semifinalist Marin Cilic.  After two easy matches, Cilic edged out John Isner 9-7 in the fifth to earn a crack at Nadal.

After a thrilling first round five setter against Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian called it quit in the second round, four games away from being handed a straight set loss.  Mikhail Youzhny also departed earlier than expected.  The tenth seed was sent packing in the third round by Milos Raonic.  The 20 year old Canadian qualifier with the humongous serve also ousted Michael Llodra, the 22nd seed in the second round.  Next up for Raonic will be David Ferrer who is a relentless competitor.  Ferrer’s experience may prove too much for the youngster.  Thus, a Ferrer-Nadal quarterfinal showdown is the likely scenario.

Without much fuss, both Robyn Soderling and Andy Murray have been taking care of business.  Soderling’s fourth round match will be against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  The Ukrainian upset 13th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.  Following an impressive second round match versus Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis was forced to retire down two sets to one with a hand injury in his third round match against Jurgen Melzer.  As such, Murray will battle Melzer for a quarterfinal berth.

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out



The halfway mark has been reached at the Australian Open.  While Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki are still in line to collect their first major Down Under, the dream is at an end for Justine Henin and Samantha Stosur.  Here’s a look at the tournament’s past seven days.

In the top half of the draw, world number one Wozniacki coasted into the round of 16.   Despite difficult challenges from Gisela Dulko and Dominika Cibulkova, the Dane has yet to drop a set.  Wozniacki will battle Latvian talent 20 year old Anastasija Sevastova  who stunned Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.

On the other hand, Henin, a finalist last year, was dismissed in the third round by Svetlana Kuznetsova.  The 2009 French Open champion who appears to be fitter than ever will face reigning French Open victor Francesca Schiavone in the fourth round.  The latter needed three sets in each of her first two rounds.

There will be no Williams hoisting the prize this year.  Venus was forced to retire one game into her third round match with Andrea Petkovic due to a pelvic muscle injury.  Consequently, Petkovic will clash with Maria Sharapova in the round of 16. Sharapova scraped by Julia Goerges in the previous round.  With Sharapova’s serve a continual sore spot, Petkovic has a golden opportunity to reach her first quarterfinal at a major.

Both Li Na and Victoria Azarenka have been unforgiving thus far with straight sets victories to get to the round of 16.  These two will now collide for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend?  Australian Open Preview

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Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend? Australian Open Preview


1969 was the year when Rod Laver accomplished the calendar grand slam for the second time.  Laver had done so previously in 1962.  At the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will attempt to become the first person to hold all four majors simultaneously, although not in the same calendar year.  Like Nadal, Roger Federer has won three majors in a single year on multiple occasions, but never held all four.  With a historic sixteen majors, Federer, the defending champion, will be one of the competitors trying to halt Nadal from revising  the tennis annals.  Indeed, if the Australian Open draw holds up, Nadal’s route to his second title is fraught with red flags.

After seemingly comfortable initial two rounds, Nadal may see Marin Cilic in the round of 16.  Despite disappointing results the remainder of 2010 after a semifinal placement in Melbourne, for Cilic knowing that he’s gone that far at this major can be an inspiration.  Moreover, the only time these two met in 2009, Cilic was the victor. In the quarterfinals, Nadal also has a few pesky potential opponents to look forward to: Mikhail Youzhny, David Ferrer and David Nalbandian.  On any given day, these men can be a real thorn on any individual’s side.

The second part of the top half of the draw has Robin Soderling and Andy Murray as the top seeds.  Either player could clash with Nadal in the semifinals.  Soderling appears to have a favorable trek until the round of 16 where he will possibly collide with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2007 Australian Open finalist and 2010 semifinalist.  On the other hand, 2010 finalist Murray may get Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis or Jurgen Melzer.  Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, and Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, would be a contest for anyone.  Whether it’s Murray, Soderling or Tsonga in the semis, Nadal will have to his hands occupied in order to reach his second Australian Open final.

To say Federer is hungry for the title is an understatement considering the implications if Nadal prevails. Could Mardy Fish or Sam Querrey trouble the defending champion in the round of 16?  Possibly.  However, with Federer’s four titles out of five his last five tournaments, it’s unlikely anyone will down him early on. Both Gael Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka have a win over Federer, but are a combined 2-11.  Therefore, it’s inconceivable that either Monfils or Wawrinka will upend Federer in the quarterfinals.  Once again, Andy Roddick may find himself in the position of needing to go through Federer to advance to the semifinals.  Despite Roddick’s 2-20 against Federer, he is the most formidable rival who can actually put a crimp in Federer’s style.

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