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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25

The women take center stage on Day 2 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open.  Top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova headlines the day session.  Other notable names in action include Ana Ivanovic, Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta, Na Li, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli.  Kim Clijsters will take to the court in doubles partnering with fellow countrywoman Kirsten Flipkens.  The night session will be headlined by Venus Williams who will face Sorana Cirstea.

On the men’s side, Andreas Seppi, Juan Ignacio Chela, Nicolas Massu, Kevin Anderson and Americans Ryan Sweeting and Rajeev Ram will be in action. In the night session, Mardy Fish will take on Leonardo Mayer.

Here is the complete order of play for Thursday :

STADIUM start 11:00 am
E Makarova (RUS) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [Q] P Parmentier (FRA) – WTA
[LL] N Lapentti (ECU) vs P Starace (ITA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
M Fish (USA) vs L Mayer (ARG) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
H Zeballos (ARG) vs A Seppi (ITA) – ATP
P Lorenzi (ITA) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
P Petzschner (GER) vs [Q] R Sweeting (USA) – ATP
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [LL] M Daniel (BRA) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
[WC] P Martic (CRO) vs [18] A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
K Date Krumm (JPN) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs P Schnyder (SUI) – WTA
[10] F Pennetta (ITA) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs S Errani (ITA) / S Peer (ISR) – WTA

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
V Hanescu (ROU) vs A Falla (COL) – ATP
E Korolev (KAZ) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:30 PM
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs I Benesova (CZE) or [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) – WTA
R Ram (USA) vs T de Bakker (NED) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] Y Wickmayer (BEL) / V Zvonareva (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [23] S Lisicki (GER) – WTA
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs S Borwell (GBR) / R Kops-Jones (USA) – WTA
T Bacsinszky (SUI) or [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
A Amanmuradova (UZB) / D Kustova (BLR) vs Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
L Lacko (SVK) vs M Berrer (GER) – ATP
F Fognini (ITA) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP
[Q] N Massu (CHI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
R Vinci (ITA) vs [30] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
O Govortsova (BLR) / A Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs T Poutchek (BLR) / A Rosolska (POL) – WTA
[31] A Wozniak (CAN) vs P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[WC] A Molik (AUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA
[21] A Bondarenko (UKR) vs G Dulko (ARG) – WTA
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs I Benesova (CZE) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
P Luczak (AUS) vs O Hernandez (ESP) – ATP
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs [Q] R Mello (BRA) – ATP
S Robert (FRA) vs A Beck (GER) – ATP
A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Hradecka (CZE) vs [2] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
K Jans (POL) / V Uhlirova (CZE) vs [7] C Chuang (TPE) / S Hsieh (TPE) – WTA

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Apple of New York’s Eyes: Clijsters Triumphs Over Wozniacki at US Open

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The Apple of New York’s Eyes: Clijsters Triumphs Over Wozniacki at US Open

mdp_1588This was not the script that one would have written two weeks ago.  Fortunately for us, Kim Clijsters had her own pen for a rewrite.  A couple of months after getting back on tour, Clijsters reached the U.S. Open final and defeated 19 year-old Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3 becoming the first wildcard entry to win a major.

Although this was Wozniacki’s first final at a major, the Dane almost pulled off the role of spoiler. After Caroline dropped serve her first time out to give Kim a 2-0 lead, on her fifth break chance, she captured her first game.  Then through her tenacity, Wozniacki compelled a crosscourt backhand error from Kim to break for a  3-2 edge. After teetering on the brink, Wozniacki double faulted to level the set at 4 all.  However, the very next game, Caroline’s defensive skills helped her rally from 0-40 and break again for 5-4.  But, serving for the set, Wozniacki faced another break point when Clijsters produced a forehand winner.  The Dane was unable to exterminate that one as her forehand up the line sailed long and evened out the set.  Unable to capitalize on two break chances, Wozniacki subsequently made four unforced errors to wrap up the set for Clijsters.

After being miserly the first five games of the second set, with neither woman dealing with a break point, two forehand winners and a backhand mistake by Wozniacki provided Clijsters triple break point.  When Caroline’s backhand landed long, Clijsters went ahead 4-2.  Then, after staring at 0-30, Kim made a couple of good serves and winners which permitted her to consolidate for 5-2.  Despite a tough hold, Wozniacki forced Clijsters to serve for the championship. A tad nervous perhaps, Kim made two forehand booboos to go down 0-30.  Once Clijsters regrouped, with an ace and two forehand winners, she closed out the set to claim her second major and U.S. Open title.

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set

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2009 U.S. Open Draw Set

usopenlogoThe suspense is over.  With Rafael Nadal’s ranking now at number 3, the burning question was whether Roger Federer will have to face his nemesis prior to the finals.  The prospect of a Roger versus Rafa final remains alive with these two on opposite sides of the draw.  On the other hand, there will be no Williams sisters final.  Serena and Venus can only clash in the semifinals.

Federer will be aiming for a sixth consecutive U.S. Open trophy and his recent win in Cincy demonstrates that the world number one has a good shot. Still, 2003 U.S. Open champ Andy Roddick who gave Federer an unforgettable battle at Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic, 2007 U.S. Open finalist, might be formidable semifinal opponents. Nadal may find himself in a dog fight right out of the blocks with Richard Gasquet as a first round adversary. With Rafa still not in full shape with his knees, another possible obstacle will be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.  Last year’s finalist, Andy Murray could meet Nadal in the semifinals.  The Brit is hungry and healthy, a combination that may stand in the way of Nadal reaching his first U.S. Open final. In the quarterfinals, Murray might see Juan Martin Del Potro.  Although the Brit has had Del Potro’s number, the Argentine may pull an ace off his sleeve.  Should conditioning not become a factor, Del Potro has the tools to get to his first major final.

Top seed Dinara Safina has a tough path to the quarterfinals with Alisa Kleybanova, Lucie Safarova possible rivals in the early rounds.  Jelena Jankovic, Safina’s potential quarterfinal counterpart, may have Sabine Lisicki or Ana Ivanovic to contend with.  Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova could be semifinals match ups for either woman.  Dementieva has looked great in the lead up tournaments and is well positioned to carry her first major. Although reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has been dealing with injury, she is a threat to take her second U.S. Open.

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Bartoli Bars Venus From Title At Bank of The West

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Bartoli Bars Venus From Title At Bank of The West

img_3366At the Bank of the West Classic final, a premier tourney, eighth seed Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli blocked out her second set miscues and prevailed over second seed Venus Williams 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to claim her first title in the States.

After dropping only five games in the quarters and semis against Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva respectively, California fans expected a routine victory for Venus, the world number three. Instead, Bartoli, ranked 14th , showed that she was fearless.  After each player had no problem with her initial service game, the two traded breaks.  After Venus squandered an advantage point, Bartoli earned another break point with a forehand winner.  She converted when Venus sliced a backhand into the net.  After a multiple deuce game ended with a forehand mistake by Williams, Bartoli consolidated for 4-2. Then, with more backhand errors and a double fault from Williams,  Bartoli broke for the third time and went on to capture the set.

The marks of success for Bartoli were great returns, pressuring Williams’ serve and forcing errors in the long rallies. With that game plan, Bartoli took the first game in the second set and consolidated for 2-0.  After saving break point, Venus kept within reach for 2-1. Although Bartoli had several more chances to extend her lead, she was turned away.  With Bartoli serving for the championship at 5-4, Venus struck a winner and induced a string of errors to level the set at 5 all.  Subsequently, with  backhand volley and  forehand winners, Venus saved double break point and went on to take her first lead in the match at 6-5.  Then, Bartoli capped an error filled game at  0-40 with a double fault giving Williams the second set.

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Lisicki Lands First Career Championship In Charleston

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Lisicki Lands First Career Championship In Charleston

familycircle2In the clash of the teenagers at the Family Circle Cup in South Carolina, a green clay premier tournament, German Sabine Lisicki, ranked 62nd, dominated Dane Caroline Wozniacki, ranked 12th, 6-2, 6-4 to grab her first professional trophy.

After winning the MPS Group Championships in Florida last week and ousting top seed Elena Dementieva in the semifinals, Wozniacki, seeded fifth, was the undisputed favorite. However, Lisicki, seeded 16th, demonstrated from the opening game that she was soaring with confidence although this was only her second WTA final. Wins over Venus Williams, world number five, in the third round and Marion Bartoli, world number 13, in the semifinals, wetted Lisicki’s appetite. By provoking errors from Wozniacki and with two forehand winners, Lisicki broke for 1-0 lead. Then, with an ace and additional forehand winners, Lisicki went up 2-0. Despite being further challenged on her serve, Caroline managed to hold. Subsequently, after Sabine easily guarded serve, she attacked causing Caroline to flay a few forehands and go down double break point. The Dane then gifted the German a 4-1 advantage by double faulting. Never facing any danger, Lisicki closed out the first set.

Although Wozniacki’s performance improved in the second set, the difficulty was that Lisicki matched or surpassed her level of play. After keeping up with Lisicki, in the fifth game, Wozniacki saw a backhand crosscourt pass nullify a game point. Then, three more game points were negated and with a backhand error, Lisicki had break point. Thereupon, with an assist from the net as Wozniacki’s ball went long, Lisicki took a 3-2 lead. But, after being in front 40-0, Lisicki double faulted and made some untimely errors for deuce. When Sabine misfired with a forehand up the line, Caroline got her first break point of the day. Yet, with a forehand crosscourt winner for deuce and adroit serves, Lisicki consolidated for 4-2. Next, with Wozniacki serving at 3-5, Lisicki was like a pit bull. However, after four deuces, the Dane hung on to the game by scooping a heavy ball from the German for a forehand crosscourt winner. After a relatively flawless outing and with triple match point, Lisicki coughed up three consecutive unforced errors for deuce. Sabine then double faulted giving Caroline break point. Still, with her powerful serve, Lisicki evaded trouble. Finally, on the sixth championship point, Lisicki converted with a forehand winner.

Besides winning a major, a unique way to announce one’s self to the tennis world is with a command showing at a premier event. That’s what Lisicki did this week. As a result, the German will see a considerable boost in her ranking.

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Serena Supersizes Her Majors’ Collection By Taking The Australian Open


For the second time, Serena Williams, world number two, unmercifully disposed of a Russian in the Australian Open final. On this occasion, the hapless victim of Williams’ wrath was third rank Dinara Safina. Serena required just 58 minutes to defeat Dinara 6-0, 6-3, adding a fourth Australian singles title to her majors’ trophy case for a total of ten.

Williams started the match by hitting a backhand winner up the line and holding comfortably. On the other hand, Safina’s nightmare began with her first service game. After an ace for 15 all, Dinara threw in a double fault for 15-30. After a couple of forehand winners gave her the upper hand, Safina produced a second double fault for deuce. Subsequently, Williams crushed a forehand for a crosscourt service winner to get her first break point which she converted when Safina committed her third double fault. Then, Serena consolidated the break with a love game. Williams maintained the pressure and with a forehand winner up the line had double break point; she capitalized by putting away a short ball. Up 4-0, Serena again held at love and with four consecutive unforced errors by Dinara took the set 6-0.

Serena briefly loosen her chokehold on the match in the second set. After Williams sent a backhand into the net and missed another down the line, Safina had her initial break point. With a sweet crosscourt backhand winner, Safina took the lead for the first time. The last few months, Dinara had demonstrated that she could deal with adversity. Thus, this seemed perhaps a turning point in the match. Yet, after Dinara missed the mark on two backhands, Serena arrived at double break point and leveled the set when another of her rival’s backhand sailed long. The serve was the story for Safina and it did not improve as the night progressed. Serving at 1-2, Dinara opened with a double fault. After a backhand crosscourt winner gave her game point, another found the net for deuce. Thereafter, Serena punished a crosscourt forehand return winner for break point and cashed it in when Dinara made another double fault. With a love game, Williams raced to a 4-1 lead. Frustrated, on the verge of bursting into tears and despite difficulties, Safina won her service games. Yet, this was to no avail as Serena continued to force the errors from her competitor with her brutal serves. With her fifth love game, Serena put Dinara out of her agony and claimed the title.

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Safina Snaps Up Back-To-Back Title

The Rogers Cup final, a tier I tournament, was a contest between the experienced Russian Dinara Safina and the novice Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. Safina’s steadiness was too much for her 19 year-old counterpart; Dinara cremated Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1.

Although there were flashes of brilliance from Cibulkova, the result never seemed in doubt. After holding serve to commence the proceedings, Safina broke her opponent to take 2-0 lead. After falling behind 1-5, Cibulkova hoped to turn things around as she had done with Jelena Jankovic, coming back from that exact deficit to win the set. After giving Cibulkova an opening as she served for the match and being broken, Dinara took advantage of Dominka’s service problems to take the set.

Under pressure at deuce the first game of the second set, Safina threw in consecutive aces to close out the game. After breaking Cibulkova, Safina went down break point which she erased with a second serve ace, then replicated another ace to seal the game for a 3-0 lead. Mainly a defensive player, Cibulkova failed to get many errors from Safina. The 2008 French Open Finalist continued to play smart tennis, pressuring Dominika to go for low percentage shots. After breaking Safina, Cibulkova lost her serve at love to go down 1-5. Serving for the match, Safina did not stumble and went on to make a second serve ace to seal the victory.

To make it to the finals, Cibulkova crushed Elena Dementieva in the second round, Nadia Petrova in the third round, Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals and Marion Bartoli in the semifinals. Cibulkova’s ranking will leap from 31 to 20 while Safina’s will creep up a notch to 7. With this win, Dinara tops the standings for the U.S Open series bonus money. The Rogers’ Cup is Safina’s second tier I title of the year.

At the Nordea Nordic Light Open in Sweden, a tier IV hardcourt tournament, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark crushed Russia’s Vera Dushevina in the finals 6-0, 6-2.

Maria Sharapova aggravated a previous shoulder problem in Montreal and will be sidelined for the Olympics and U.S. Open. Ana Ivanovic suffered a thumb injury during the tournament but should be present in New York. By losing to Tamira Paszek in the third round, Ivanovic will cede the number one ranking to countrywoman Jankovic.

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Canada’s Wozniak Adds Name To List of First Time WTA Winner This Year

The women U.S. Open Series final at the Bank of the West Classic featured 2007 Wimbledon finalist, Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, ranked 15th in the world, against Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak. Although this was Wozniak’s first career final, she showed no signs of anxiety, easily beating her more experienced challenger 7-5, 6-3.

After blowing break chance opportunities early in the first set, Wozniak found herself in a hole down a break at 3-4. The 20-year-old Canadian did not panic and got things back on serve on the subsequent game. After exchanging breaks of serve, Wozniak held to take a 6-5 lead. Then, she went on to break Bartoli to carry the first set.

In the second set, Wozniak broke early on to take a 3-1 advantage. After getting treatment for a left hip injury, Bartoli resumed the match despite her motion being hampered. Playing against a limping opponent can be a challenge, but Wozniak maintained her focus and did not allow her rival’s ills affect her own game. Serving at 4-2, Aleksandra went down 0-30, but quickly recovered to win the game. Subsequently, after being unable to close out the match on Bartoli’s serve, Wozniak stayed calm and closed it out at love on her own.

Dealing with injured opponents seemed to have been a theme at this tournament for Wozniak. In the semifinals, Serena Williams, the top seed, retired with a knee injury with the Canadian up a set and a break. With this magnificent result, Wozniak, currently ranked 85th, will see her ranking shoot up in the top fifty. With a strong backhand and a game with great room for growth, this may be the first of many titles for this Canadian.

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