Tag Archive | "Australian Open"

Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return

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Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return


After runner placements in Brisbane and the Australian Open, Justine Henin captured her first title since rejoining the tour.  At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, a premier indoor clay tournament, Henin prevailed over Samantha Stosur 6-4,2-6,6-1 in the finals.

Both Stosur and Henin entered as wildcards.  While the latter was unseeded, the former was seeded 7th and won 11 successive matches including a clay title in Charleston.  The first four games, each player readily held serve.  At 2 all, with a backhand down the line winner, Stosur had game point.  By connecting on a backhand down the line return, Henin leveled things at deuce.  After provoking an error from Stosur on a second game point, because of a double fault, Henin had break point.  With a strong forehand return, Henin forced another mistake from Stosur to seize the break.  As Henin served at 4-3, Stosur effaced a game point for deuce by forcing a forehand miscue.  Subsequently, Stosur manufactured a break point.  Henin got out of jail with a good serve and eventually held for 5-3.  Later, on her second set point, Henin bagged the first set.

As a result of a flubbed forehand volley, Stosur faced double break point in the second set.  However, Stosur rebounded with a myriad of good serves to hold for 2-1.  Next, serving at 2 all, by netting a backhand, Stosur stared at her third break point this set.  Again with a couple of huge serves, Stosur remained on track at 3-2.  Then, after Henin netted a forehand, Stosur had her initial break point.  Henin escaped with a decent serve. Next, with a forehand crosscourt pass winner, Stosur fabricated her second break point which she converted when Henin erred with a forehand up the line.  After consolidating for 5-2, with a forehand up the line winner, Stosur broke to take the set.

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final


The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized.   Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.

After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals.  That’s exactly how Clijsters came out.  From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30.  Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold.  With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point.  With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1.  During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh.  Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1.  The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge;  however, that did not happen.  Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce.  Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point.   When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.

Still, the torture was only beginning  for Williams.  Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long.  Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point.  Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting.  Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch.  At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause.  Yet, this was to no avail.  Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point.  Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood.  Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break .  Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead.  The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable.  However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point.  With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.

Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion.  Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:

Q.  Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS:  No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . .  on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.

Q.  Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well.  This is just great and amazing for them.  They’re playing great.

After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling:  ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . .  you almost have to be dominant and . . .  bring your best level.  But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her]  best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her]  too much and just really focus on yourself.  [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.

For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year.  Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open.  Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday.  As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end.  Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami


Along with winning majors, Serena Williams has made a habit of hoisting the trophy in Miami, the “5th grand slam”.  In 2005 and 2009, Serena stopped sister Venus Williams from playing in the title match by beating her in the semifinals. Whilst Venus is disappointed that her sibling is unable to compete due to injury, she is perhaps relieved not to have to go through Serena to advance to the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Today, Venus defeated Marion Bartoli 6-3,6-4 to book her space in the finals for the first time since 2001.

After a love hold, Venus got to triple break point when Bartoli double faulted.  Venus converted once Bartoli dumped a backhand crosscourt into the net.  Subsequent to erasing break point, with a backhand down the line winner, Venus extended her lead to 3-0.  In an atypical game where Venus committed two double faults, Bartoli was back on serve at 2-3.  However, after carrying the first point, Bartoli produced three consecutive double faults to hand Venus double break point.  Trying attain deuce, Bartoli contributed a fourth double fault to Venus’ cause, allowing the latter to get to 4-2.  With an easy game punctuated by a forehand winner, Venus consolidated for 5-2.  As Venus served for the set, Bartoli put up a fight.  Still, in the long run, Venus took the first set 6-3.

The second set by pushing Venus into errors, Bartoli broke at love for 3-1.  However, by doing the same the next game to her opponent, Venus got back on serve.  After each woman cancelled break point on her serve, Venus kicked into another gear and secured the break for 5-4.  Then, with two aces and a forehand volley winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Venus finally stamped her ticket into the finals when Bartoli’s return went out of bounds.

Since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australia Open to Na Li, Venus is on a 15-0 winning streak.  That includes defending titles back to back in Dubai and Acapulco.  In the Sony Ericsson Open final, Venus will contend with either Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin.  These two will do battle tonight.

Venus holds a 7-2 record versus Henin. But, at their last meeting, the 2007 U.S. Open,  Henin prevailed in straight sets.  Despite a 6-5 mark versus Clijsters, Venus has been on the wrong end their last three encounters including the 2009 U.S. Open.  Irrespective of the adversary that Venus faces, the finals possess all the ingredients for an excellent match.

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Quarterfinal Headliners at the 2010 SEO:  Henin, Wozniacki, Clijsters and Nadal

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Quarterfinal Headliners at the 2010 SEO: Henin, Wozniacki, Clijsters and Nadal


The remaining two women singles semifinal slots will be assigned today at the Sony Ericsson Open.  In addition, the men get their singles quarterfinal round under way.

Following women quarterfinal doubles action, Justine Henin and Caroline Wozniacki kick off the afternoon on stadium court.  For Wozniacki, this is her initial encounter with the four time French Open, two time U.S Open and 2004 Australian Open champion.  Afterwards, Andy Roddick battles Nicolas Almagro.  Likewise, it’s the first meeting for these guys.  Because the surface is hardcourt and not clay where Almagro has won his five ATP titles, Roddick has the advantage considering his superb results lately. Subsequently, Mike and Bob Bryan face Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the quarterfinals.

The women’s night session has Samantha Stosur and Kim Clijsters.  Although Clijsters has a 2-0 record versus Stosur,  their ultimate collision was in Miami in 2007.  A victory by Henin and Clijsters will result in an all Belgian semifinal in the bottom half of the draw.

The evening ends with the match featuring Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The only time Tsonga defeated Nadal was in the quarters of the 2008 Australian Open.  Since then, they have played three hotly contested matches.  With Tsonga performing well in Miami, this should be a great battle.

In addition, the grandstand focuses on male doubles with the team of Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez as well as Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes to name a few.

Here is today’s full schedule :

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31

STADIUM start 11:00 am
Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[WC] J Henin (BEL) vs [2] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[6] A Roddick (USA) vs [33] N Almagro (ESP) – ATP
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[9] S Stosur (AUS) vs [14] K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA

Not Before 9:00 PM
[8] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon
[3] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) – ATP

Not Before 6:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – After appropriate rest


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Federer Tackles Questions Prior to Saturday Play at Sony Ericsson Open

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Federer Tackles Questions Prior to Saturday Play at Sony Ericsson Open


Roger Federer, world number one, will be holding court for the first time at 2010 Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday night.  This afternoon, though, Federer held a press conference at which MiamiTennisNews.com was present.  Here are some of the more salient remarks from the reigning Australian Open champion.

Q.  No doubt what happened to you last week at Indian Wells hurt.  We can could see that afterwards.  I mean, how much do defeats still really hurt you, at whatever level they come and whatever tournament they come?

FEDERER:  No, I mean, it was just disappointing on the moment itself.  Disappointed you don’t get a shot at winning the title.  I mean, it’s a long trip, and I’ve been practicing or trying to recuperate for weeks and weeks.  So when it’s over after one or two matches, it’s kind of  you know, you feel a little bit empty in the moment itself, in the moment that follows.  I mean, the press conference is three minutes after, which doesn’t help.  If I would do it the next day it would sound obviously much fresher.  And it was late and everything.  No, I mean, after that, you know, I’ve had many years where I run from one thing to the next that also I welcome having all of a sudden, you know, more days off, more days of practice, more days where I can just wake up and see what I really want to do instead of having the perfect plan the whole time.  So it’s nice to adjust that for a change, if there’s anything positive to take out of a loss.

Q.  MiamiTennisNews.com wanted to know since you had to withdraw from Dubai because of a lung infection.   Are you back to 100% now?

FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, I felt good after, ever since I got the green light from the doctors, and I’ve been practicing hard before Indian Wells and also now in between.  So no issues whatsoever.  I’m fighting fit again.

Q.  Do you ever plan to play Latin American tour?  And what do you think of what happened down there?

FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough circuit for me to attend really, because I have options to play indoor tournaments in Europe which are a one hour flight away and are indoors where I had my first success, which I really enjoy playing. Or I don’t play those and just go play Dubai, which is what I’ve been doing for many years.  So that’s why obviously to go to South America is almost impossible for me except for maybe exhibitions at the end of the year, which I guess at some stage I would consider.  But at the moment, especially with having a family as well, it’s  yeah, it’s not really in my plan, to be honest.  I’d love to go see more of it.  Back in maybe ’96 I played the junior circuit.  I mean, it wasn’t South America deep south, but I played Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.  That’s as close I’ve gotten really to get a feel for South America.

Q.  MiamiTennisNews inquired I believe you were the last person to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back.  Can you elaborate what’s so challenging about trying to win these two tournaments back to back?

FEDERER:  Two huge tournaments, tough draws, over three, four weeks you got to keep your concentration.  It’s not easy.  Obviously with a knockout system tennis it’s just not easy to win backtoback Masters 1000 events.  I think I did it for two years in a row.  I’m not sure about yeah, I was playing great and probably got lucky on one or two matches during the stretch.  That’s what you need, as well, if you want to try to win two in a row here.

Q.  Justine [Henin] said your winning the French really sort of put the fire back in her in terms of wanting to come back and play.  I know you’re a fan of the women’s game.  What is it you like about Justine and the way she approaches things?

FEDERER:  Well, one-handed backhand is something you don’t see very often.  I like that, you know, she doesn’t have too many letdowns.  You know, sometimes I see women players going through quite a few ups and downs during the match.  But she can really focus through an entire match.  Just putting in a solid performance every time she goes out on court.  She knows how to win the big titles.  She’s been in many pressure situations and she’s handled those well.  Yeah, something you can look up to.

Q.  What’s it like to still go out there and see people just to watch you practice?  What’s that like?  And do you ever just look around and say, Wow?

FEDERER:  Yeah, it’s funny how it goes.  You reach No. 1 in the world, and next time you practice you’ve got a crowd.  That’s something that was a very, you know, shockingly nice surprise when it happened, sort of, in 2004.  But it’s not easy.  I wish sometimes I was alone on the practice courts, because then you can really just relax a bit more.  But I feel like everything is documented, whatever I do in the practice courts.  So, sometimes I do feel the pressure, as well, and then you can’t just come in and walk in and out, you know.  You don’t have to, but of course I sign a lot of autographs and take pictures.  That always takes time away, too.  It’s just part of my life today.  But it definitely, you know, also wears you out at times.  I like to do it and put in the hard work because they make it so worthwhile, you know, to keep on playing and make it so much more fun.  I’m lucky enough to always be playing on center court and also the practice I get a lot of encouragement.  It’s nice they’re there, you know.  But, I definitely feel the pressure sometimes that they’re watching me, many of them probably for the first time in their lives, so it’s a big moment for them.  Especially here in Miami and also Indian Wells there’s huge crowds at the practice.  It’s nice, you know, because they’re really friendly and very enthusiastic.  So then obviously I like to spend even more time with them.

Federer was victorious on consecutive years from 2005-06 at Sony and reached the semifinals last year.  The holder of a record 16 majors, Federer will be attempting to win his 17th Masters’ shield.

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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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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam

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Soderling Reins In Youzhny In Rotterdam


img_9587_rsAfter the semifinals whereby Robin Soderling swiftly bounced second seed Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny eliminated top seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets; there was great hope for a sensational final at the ATP 500 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.  Lamentably, the match ended with Youzhny bowing out due to hip injury.  Thereby, Soderling prevailed 6-4, 2-0.

After a dream 2009 season, Soderling had a nightmarish commencement to 2010.  Prior to this week, with first round defeats in Chennai and Melbourne, the Swede had yet to record a victory on the ATP tour.  Soderling’s faith was tested the first game.  After opening with an ace, Robin made scores of errors leading to Mikhail breaking.  However, with an overhead winner, Soderling had a chance to get on the board.  The Swede did so when a 25 shot rally terminated with the Russian’s forehand finding the bottom of the net. Soderling then carried his next game at love for 2-1.  With a forehand up the line winner, Soderling had his second break opportunity.  Robin converted when Mikhail double faulted.

The primary indication of a Youzhny injury came before his serving at 1-4.  The Russian was treated on court.  Youzhny temporarily blocked out the problem saving a tough game for 2-4 and holding at love to force Soderling to serve for the set.  As a result of a litany of forehand miscues by Soderling, Youzhny captured the break for 4-5.  But, serving to equalize the set, Youzhny coughed up three backhand mistakes for double break point. Helped by a net court winner, Soderling bedded the first set.

After Soderling easily seized the initial game of the second set; courtesy of Youzhny’s backhand breaking down, the Swede had triple break point.  As the Russian dumped another backhand crosscourt into the net, Soderling had a 2-0 lead.  At that point, with Youzhny’s mobility severely restricted, he elected to pull the plug on the match.

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Dementieva Hangs On For Paris Trophy

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Dementieva Hangs On For Paris Trophy


logo_opengdfsuez_2010With last year’s champion, a retired Amelie Mauresmo looking on, top seed and 2009 finalist Elena Dementieva survived Lucie Safarova 6-7,6-1,6-4 in the finals of the Open GDF Suez to seize her second premier trophy of 2010 and her 16th career title.

Safarova followed a love opening service game with a break.  Then, the Czech consolidated for a 3-0 lead.  With good serves including an ace, Dementieva rescued a 0-30 game to capture her first game.  When Safarova erred with a backhand down the line, Dementieva had her initial break point.  The Russian capitalized when Safarova misfired on the forehand.  After a comfortable service game, Dementieva tied the set at 3 a piece.  Hence forth, with neither player able to manufacture a break point, the set went to a tiebreaker.  Ahead 5-4, Safarova produced a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner for the minibreak.  With awesome defense, Dementieva saved one set point.  However, on Safarova’s second attempt she succeeded with the forehand up the line winner.

In the second set, Dementieva quickly shifted the momentum.  By forcing Safarova into a backhand down the line mistake, Dementieva had double break point.  Elena converted when Lucie netted a forehand.  Subsequently, Dementieva held at love to increase her advantage to 3-0.  With Dementieva finding the range on first serves and winning the majority of second serve points, Safarova saw the second set flash by.  Through donating more errors, Safarova gave Dementieva a double break lead.  The Russian closed the set with a routine service game.

In the decisive set, Safarova found her form once again and carried the first game. Yet, to Safarova’s chagrin, Dementieva continued her high level of play.  Moreover, Elena’s vulnerability, her serve, was not cracking.  After knotting the set at 2 all with a forehand up the line winner, Dementieva pressured Safarova into three consecutive backhand mistakes to erase two game points and get to deuce.  Although Safarova salvaged that game for a 3-2 edge, it was a sign that her ship was about to leak.  Safarova’s next service game, with some great returns, Dementieva secured double break point.  When Lucie misfired on a forehand up the line, Elena banked the break for 4-3.  Then, without any trouble, Dementieva consolidated for 5-3.  After a difficult hold which included rubbing out two championship points, Safarova extended the match at 4-5. Serving for the trophy and with her ninth ace for 30-0, Dementieva faltered.  Due to three straight forehand errors, Dementieva faced a break point.  Luckily, Elena’s serve responded by forcing Lucie into an error for deuce.  Later, with a forehand volley winner, Dementieva arrived at her fourth championship point.  Elena bagged the trophy when Lucie’s backhand crosscourt failed to clear the net.

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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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Not So Odd:  Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major

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Not So Odd: Serena Acquires Another Aussie Major


img_1710January 30, 2010

Defending champion Serena Williams’ proclivity to win the Australian Open in uneven years is well documented. Regrettably for Justine Henin, Serena decided not to stick to tradition in 2010.  In the final, Serena blocked Justine 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to claim her fifth Australian Open trophy.

Serena was under the gun from the first game. Williams dumped a forehand into the net to give Henin double break point.  But, as she has done over and over this fortnight, with good serves, Serena salvaged a four deuce game.  After holding serve, helped by the net, Henin earned another break point with a backhand return winner. Again, Serena erased the deficit with an ace.  Supreme at saving break points, Serena captured this five deuce game with an overhead winner for 2-1.  Subsequently, aided by a Henin double fault, Serena set up triple break point with a backhand crosscourt winner.  Williams capitalized when Henin’s forehand went wide. However, due to a rash of errors Williams faced double break point.  After saving one with an ace, Serena got a break when a backhand volley winner by Justine was mistakenly judged long; the point was replayed.  On the do-over, Serena consolidated for 4-1.  Later, Serena handed Justine two chances to get back on serve with a series of miscues.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Justine did just that and went on to equalize the set at 4 all.  Yet, after Serena captured her game at love, Justine donated a couple of set points with a double fault and backhand error.  When Henin’s backhand skinned the net and landed long, Williams secured the first set.

In the second set, Henin and Williams traded roles. The second game, Justine came up with a couple of great serves to obliterate double break point.  Afterwards, with a backhand winner, Justine broke Serena at love for a 2-1 edge.  Still, the very next game, Henin allowed Williams to level the set.  At 2-3, after dismissing another break point, Henin reached a great drop and flicked a forehand volley crosscourt winner for advantage point.  When Serena netted another forehand, the set was equalized at 3.  Energized, the next game, Henin manufactured a second break opportunity with a backhand volley winner and converted when Williams’ backhand traveled long.  After Henin consolidated with a love game for 5-3; she broke Serena at love to capture the set.

In the decisive set, Henin opened with a love hold.  Then, when Serena’s attempt at serve and volley failed, Henin had double break point.  Once again, Serena bombed a couple of aces to shovel herself out for 1 all.  Subsequently, as Justine’s forehand up the line sailed long, Serena arrived at double break point.  With a sinking backhand stroke, Serena caused Justine to push the backhand volley into the net, thereby obtaining the break for 2-1.  But, with three consecutive forehand errors by Williams, Henin was at triple break point.  When Henin crushed a forehand return crosscourt, the set was equalized.  Still, with another double fault by Henin and a backhand up the line winner, Serena got another break opportunity.  Serena cashed in when Justine bungled an easy backhand crosscourt.  Despite pressure from her rival, Serena stretched her lead to 4-2 with a second serve ace. Then, with a dipping backhand, Serena forced Henin into a backhand volley mistake leading to two break opportunities.  When Henin’s backhand floated long, Williams took a commanding 5-2 edge.  Serena sealed the championship with backhand crosscourt winner.

As a former world number one, hopes were high that Henin would do well upon rejoining the tour.  Nevertheless, the final of her first two tournaments including a major, even for Henin, that is tantamount to a dream.  Just four weeks after returning, Henin will be ranked in the top 40.

In the quarterfinals against Victoria Azarenka, Serena had perhaps the comeback of her career.  After being ahead 6-4, 4-0, Azarenka who played spectacularly from start to finish came out on the losing end.  This was the hint that this would be yet again Serena’s year.  Serena becomes the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2002 to successfully defend.  Williams also ties Billy Jean King with 12 majors.

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