Tag Archive | "Dementieva"

Kuznetsova Romps Radwanska In Beijing

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Kuznetsova Romps Radwanska In Beijing


img_1153-version-2Commencing with the U.S. Open, a perpetual dark cloud has loomed over the WTA’s  top seeds; most have failed to reach the latter rounds of tournaments or win in finals.  Today at the China Open, a premier event, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, world number 6, let the sun through by defeating Pole Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 in the finals. For Svetlana, it is her second China Open title and her third trophy this year.

With a backhand crosscourt winner, Kuznetsova fabricated double break point in the opening game.  Although Radwanska got to deuce, a netted forehand volley and backhand stroke ultimately handed the break to her rival.  Subsequently, Svetlana had a comfortable game to consolidate.  After Agnieszka scored with an ace for 1-2, on her next service trip, with a double fault and forehand down the line winner by Svetlana, the Pole faced double break point again.  This time, Kuznetsova sealed the deal with another crosscourt forehand winner for 4-1.  After Kuznetsova put her guard down the next game, Radwanska broke. But, the Russian aggressive play was rewarded shortly. With the Pole’s weak second serve too inviting to her adversary, Kuznetsova captured another break when Radwanska’s forehand sailed long.  Then, by converting a forehand up the line winner on her serve, Kuznetsova bedded the first set 6-2.

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Sharapova Obtains Tokyo Title As Jankovic Defaults

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Sharapova Obtains Tokyo Title As Jankovic Defaults


img_0803At the Toray Pan Pacific Open final, a premier tournament, fans were anticipating a battle of attrition between world number 8 Jelena Jankovic and former world number one Maria Sharapova. However, spectators were disappointed because seven games into the match, Jankovic was forced to forfeit due to right arm/ wrist injury. As such, Sharapova prevailed 5-2 to claim her first title since April 2008.

Jankovic got off to a great start by converting double break point as Sharapova sliced a backhand long. Subsequently, Jelena consolidated to take a 2-0 lead. Then, after securing a difficult service game, Sharapova crushed a forehand down the line for a winner to earn a break point. Maria converted to level the set at 2 all. After Jankovic was unable to bank on a few break chances, Sharapova broke and built a 5-2 edge. Despite considerable wrist pain post treatment, Jankovic tried to serve at 2-5 but had to retire mid-game, thereby, giving Sharapova the championship.

After the match, Jankovic said that upon awakening she had some aching in the arm but went on to practice. The injury progressed whereby swelling migrated from her shoulder down to her wrist. Thus, Jelena cited that she could not get any power on her stroke and could barely feel the racket. Most of all, it pained Jankovic that the spectators were cheated out of a potentially great final.

With Dinara Safina, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva and many top 10 women exiting in the early rounds, Jankovic was the highest ranked opponent that Sharapova faced all tournament. Prior to her injury, Sharapova had a lifetime record of 4-1 versus Jankovic. With her fourth Tokyo trophy, Maria will move up from 25 to 15 in the rankings.

In the doubles final, Ai Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova took on Francesca Schiavone and Alisa Kleybanova. Playing in front of her home crowd, Sugiyama was attempting to close out her career in style. Unfortunately, Hantuchova and she were defeated 4-6, 2-6. Still, Sugiyama retires with plenty to boast about including six singles and thirty eight doubles titles. Sugiyama also holds the record for most consecutive main draw matches played at a major, male or female. The 2009 US Open was her 62nd straight. Sugiyama collected three different doubles majors, the only one missing, the Australian Open where she was a finalist this year with her current partner.

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The U.S. Open’s Wild First Week

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The U.S. Open’s Wild First Week


img_3407At the majors, the unpredictable can happen. The early rounds of the U.S. Open have proven not to be the exception providing lots of fireworks particularly on the women’s side.  Here’s a half time synopsis and a look at the week ahead .

If one thought her ousting of Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this year was a fluke, Melanie Oudin said think again. The17 year old American Fed Cup heroine bounced back after dropping the first set to defeat a trophy favorite world number 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round. On Saturday, Oudin duplicated that result by ousting 29th seed Maria Sharapova.  In the round of 16, Oudin will take on her fourth consecutive Russian Nadia Petrova.  Moreover, in the quarterfinals, Melanie may have a shot at claiming another Russian big scalp, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Speaking of Jankovic, the 2008 finalist was eliminated in the second round by Yaroslava Shvedova.  Another jaw dropper was the exit of  8th seed and  reigning Sony Open champion Victoria Azarenka sent packing in the third round by Francesca Schiavone.

Despite teetering on the brink of disaster, Dinara Safina had managed to record a W. However yesterday, Safina was ultimately pushed over the cliff in the third round by Czech teenage talent Petra Kvitova. The world number’s one performance has ignited the debate as to the relevance of the computer ranking system.  Since Justine Henin’s retirement, there’s been a conspicuous vacuum at the top of the ladies’ game.  Safina’s inability to embrace the big occasions while Serena Williams has flourished in that setting has fueled the discussion.  Unlike Safina, the defending champion has shown little compassion for her opponents in reaching the round of 16. In contrast, sister Venus’ performance has been a mixed bag with injury thrown in as a factor. Venus’ colossal test comes in the fourth round as she faces Kim Clijsters whose form appears unaffected by her sabbatical.  Unless Venus tidies up her game, the Belgian will foil her much anticipated semifinal with Serena. The free fall continues for 2008 French open winner and former world number one Ana Ivanovic as her stock took another hit with her first round departure. In all 21 of the 32 women seeds have failed to move pass the fourth round.

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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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Dementieva Scrapes By Sharapova In Toronto Final

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Dementieva Scrapes By Sharapova In Toronto Final


rogers-cup-logoAll Russian finals have become common place on the WTA tour.  At the Rogers Cup, Elena Dementieva stopped Maria Sharapova from claiming her first title since April 2008.  Dementieva beat Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 at this premier affair to gather her third title of the season.

By reaching the finals, each woman ended a drought.  For Sharapova, it was her first since rejoining the tour in May while for Dementieva her first since February.  The wind was part of the story as it wreaked havoc on the players’ serve.  After Dementieva held at love, Sharapova double faulted three times to be broken at love. Yet, Dementieva promptly returned the favor as she caught the serving jitters and with double faults was herself broken at love. Even when Maria managed to put a serve in play, Elena’s return placed her under pressure.  With a forehand up the line winner, Dementieva captured another break and with a love service game went ahead 4-1.  Subsequently, Dementieva had four more break points opportunities to stretch her lead.   But through sheer gut, Sharapova hung in to win her first service game for 2-4.  Then, by attacking second serves, with a forehand up the line winner, Maria had double break point.  Sharapova cashed in when Dementieva double faulted. Still, the serve continued to haunt Sharapova.  The next game, Dementieva gained her fourth break point when Sharapova’s forehand went wide.  Ultimately, Maria double faulted to seal the deal.  However, serving for the set at 5-3, Dementieva produced a couple of costly backhand errors and double faulted to let Sharapova back in the set.  Over the years, Dementieva has learned to block out her serving woes.  With great defense, Elena forced Maria into forehand errors and broke to wrap up the set.

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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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Venus Bows To Serena In Wimbledon Final

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Venus Bows To Serena In Wimbledon Final


img_17251With five titles to her name this decade including 2008, Wimbledon has been Venus Williams’ playpen. For the second straight year, the ladies’ final featured Venus and Serena. For the third time, Venus was compelled to cede her most precious toy to little sister. Serena delivered a fatal punch beating Venus 7-6, 6-2 for her first Wimbledon trophy in six years.

Through the first seven games of the initial set, each woman was dominant on serve with very few rallies. In the eighth game, with a series of deep returns producing backhand and forehand errors from Serena, Venus got double break point. With a rocket serve, Serena saved the first break point. Then, after Venus missed a relatively easy forehand pass, Serena threw in two aces to hold. With neither person able to fabricate another break point, the set went to a tiebreaker. As a result of Venus netting a backhand, Serena obtained a mini-break. Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Serena had multiple set points which she converted with a beautiful topspin lob winner.

The second set commenced the same way on serve; albeit, Venus was relying more on her second serve to win points. In the sixth game, Venus opened with a forehand up the line error. Subsequently, with a couple of backhand errors from big sister, Serena had her first break point. When Venus double faulted, Serena gained a 4-2 lead. After Serena consolidated with a love game, the pressure was back on Venus. The defending champion started her game with a double fault and backhand error to go down 0-30. Serving at 30 all, Venus’ forehand went long gifting Serena championship point. However, Venus escaped with a strong serve for deuce. But, with a forehand up the line winner in a long rally, Serena had her second match point. However, Serena dumped another backhand into the net for deuce. Finally, with a crosscourt forehand winner, Venus had game point. Yet again, a backhand mistake cost Venus the opportunity to force Serena to serve out the match. As Venus misfired another forehand, Serena had her fifth match point which she banked as big sister made another unforced error.

Since the third round in 2007, Venus had not dropped a set at SW19. Venus’ aggressive net play which led to a thumping of world number one Dinara Safina in the semifinal final was noticeably absent today. On the other hand, Serena’s rough time with Elena Dementieva, needing to save match point, in a classic three setter may have given her the mental edge for this match. Later this afternoon, Serena and Venus will defend their doubles’ title against Australian Rennae Stubbs and Samantha Stosur. If the Williams sisters win, it will be Venus this year comforting herself with the doubles’ trophy.

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal


img_9986-version-3Hours after the Wimbledon committee revealed the singles’ draws, turmoil ripped through the men and women side demonstrating that no player is a shoe in for the championship.

After losing his second exhibition match, Rafael Nadal, the top seed and reigning champion, withdrew due to knee tendonitis. That afternoon, female number one and top seed, Dinara Safina’s recovery after her meltdown in Paris was dealt a major setback. Safina was ousted in the semifinals by Tamarine Tanasugarn ranked 47th in a grass court warm-up tournament. Last year, Tanasurgan defeated Safina in the finals at this event.

Now, fifth ranked Juan Martin Del Potro replaced Nadal at the top half of the draw. Although Del Potro has been improving rapidly, more seasoned grass players such as Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt or first round opponent Arnaud Clement could be an obstruction. In addition, Del Potro could face Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. The extent of Roddick’s ankle injury will determine how much of a factor he will be. With a manageable draw, the prospect of Andy Murray becoming the first Brit since 1936 to raise the Wimbledon trophy looks promising. But, Murray may see Roddick or Del Potro in the semifinals. Despite Roger Federer’s multiple championships at the All England Club, with such a competitive field, other than experience, Federer has no distinct advantage. In the bottom section, Federer may need to go through the same stubborn rivals he battled in Paris to get to the quarterfinals. There, Federer could square off against Fernando Verdasco or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both hungry competitors. Similarly to Murray, Novak Djokovic, Federer’s potential match-up in the semifinals, appears to have an easy path on paper. Yet, Tommy Haas who beat Djokovic in the finals at Halle could represent a roadblock.

Safina’s chance at redemption against Svetlana Kuznetsova may take place in the quarterfinals. Although with defending champion Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic as possible semifinals opponents, Safina could be in the midst of a perpetuating nightmare. Venus’ performance the first couple of matches will determine whether she can prevail for a sixth time at Wimbledon. Serena Williams’ chance to avenge her Sony Ericsson lost to Victoria Azarenka could come in the quarters. However, Azarenka may need to knock off former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 before getting to Serena. With Vera Zvonareva slowly getting back from injury and Elena Dementieva’s dismal play the last few months, for players such as Dominika Cibulkova, Aleksandra Wozniak or Alize Cornet, the door is wide open to reach at least the quarters.

The Williams sisters will do double duty at a major again. Defending champion and seeded fourth, Venus and Serena will attempt to win their fourth Wimbledon doubles title. 2008 men’s doubles champion Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, the second seed, will attempt to repeat and wrestle the number one spot away from Mike and Bob Bryan.

Ambiguity reigns at Wimbledon this year. On both the female and male side, it is truly anybody’s trophy. First serve comes this Monday.

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros


img_9890-version-2The initial week of the French Open has been filled with thrilling victories as well as agonizing losses. Here is a targeted recap of what’s gone on so far and a preview of week two.

The women and men’s number one seed breezed through their matches. Surrendering only four games in three matches, Dinara Safina faces Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai in the round of 16. Despite a partisan crowd, Safina should have no problems. After a slow start in her opening match, defending champion Ana Ivanovic, also in Safina’s section of the draw, has gotten better with each round. Reigning Sony Ericsson Open champion, Victoria Azarenka is up next for Ivanovic. Undoubtedly, this will be Ana’s biggest challenge to date. Rafael Nadal continues to make mince meat of his opponents. Lleyton Hewitt, a former world number one, won only five games in their third round meeting. Nadal takes on Swede Robin Soderling in the round of 16. Although Soderling beat clay court expert David Ferrer in the prior round, it’s hard to contemplate his having any success against Nadal. Another Spaniard making waves in France is Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco has prevailed in three in all his matches and will play Russian Nikolay Davydenko. The victor of that match will have the unenviable task of trying to go through Nadal to get to the semifinals.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the number two seed, have had a tougher time, yet advanced to week two. Federer’s next obstacle will be German Tommy Haas and Serena’s Canadian Alesksandra Wozniak. Andy Roddick, the only American male standing, has made it past the third round for the first time. Roddick has dismissed his rivals in impressive fashion. However, Frenchman Gael Monfils, a semifinalist last year, will be Roddick’s upcoming puzzle. Should Roddick jump through that hurdle, he could meet Federer in the quarterfinals. Brit Andy Murray is another one who hasn’t sailed through. Although Croatian Marin Cilic may be a test for the Brit, with Gilles Simon out, Murray’s place in the semifinals is almost a certainty where he is likely to battle Nadal.

Saturday saw the departure of the number four seeds as Novak Djokovic fell to German Philip Kohlschreiber while Australian Samantha Stosur stopped Elena Dementieva. Along with Kohlschreiber, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro make their debut into the round of 16. The latter two will play each other for a quarterfinal spot. With Djokovic out, for these three men as well as Spaniard Tommy Roberdo, it’s a great opportunity to reach the semifinal where Roddick or Federer may be waiting.

Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova have quietly taken care of business. Kuznetsova’s next match will be tougher as she squares off against crafty Polish youngster Agnieszka Radwanska. Jankovic should have an easy pass with Romanian Sorana Cristea. Jankovic is in the golden position of avoiding a top ten seed until the semifinal where she could collide with either Serena or Svetlana. Another lucky one is former world number one now ranked 102, Maria Sharapova. Despite fumbling through, Sharapova is in the round of 16 where she will take on Na Li. Hungarian Agnes Szavay foiled Sharapova’s possible quarterfinal encounter with Venus Williams. Szavay thrashed Venus in the third round. In only her second tournament back from shoulder surgery, Sharapova has a real chance of getting to the semifinals.

Seeded fifth, Venus and Serena are alive in doubles and could impact with the number one seed Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the quarters. The top five women and men’s doubles teams are still in the mix. But, in mixed doubles, the number two seed, Cara Black and Leander Paes, was defeated in the second round.

Having set a new record for most consecutive wins at the French, can Nadal stay undefeated and seal the deal with a fifth consecutive trophy? Or will Federer finally obtain the only major that has eluded him? Will Murray, Jankovic or Safina join the elite club of major winners? Can Tsonga or Monfils make France’s dream a reality by celebrating their first major in their home country? Will Serena claim her second French title? The reply to these burning questions will come shortly.

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2009 French Open Draw Released

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2009 French Open Draw Released


french_open_logoThis Monday, the most talented men and women in tennis will initiate the process of deciding who will walk away with the year’s second major. While Rafael Nadal is unequivocally the favorite on the men’s side, the women’s potential champion is much harder to predict.

Although Nadal going down to Roger Federer in Madrid added spice to the contest, the Spaniard remains the one with the target on his back. Fellow countrymen David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco, possible fourth round and quarterfinal opponents respectively, could provide further intrigue to the plot. But, Nadal has had no trouble dealing with either man during his spectacular clay court run. The most anticipated semifinal match up could be Nadal versus Brit Andy Murray. Murray showed moments of brilliance in their semifinal meeting in Monte Carlo which he lost. Murray may need to go through Spaniard Albert Montanes, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, pesky Czech Radek Stepanek or Marat Safin, a semifinalist in 2008. So Murray’s will have a mount to climb before getting to Nadal.

On paper, Federer should reach the quarterfinals without difficulties. However, lurking in Roger’s section are James Blake, Tomas Berdych and a couple Spaniards, any of them could serve as spoilers. In the quarters, Federer could face Andy Roddick. Yet, Roddick could have a rough time getting past his rivals since clay is not his best surface. Serb Novak Djokovic and Federer could meet in the semifinals. Having come back from a set and a break down to prevail their last two encounters, Novak will have confidence squarely in his corner. However, standing in Djokovic’s way in the preliminary rounds may be former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, top ten players Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

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