Tag Archive | "Dementieva"

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“It’s Showtime”: U.S. Open Draw Announced Today

The U.S. Open draws have been posted with Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic the top singles seeds on the men and women’s side respectively.

Nadal should sail through to the quarterfinals where one possible tricky match up could be Argentine David Nalbandian. Despite a disappointing year, Nalbandian has always been dangerous on a hardcourt. Another David, countryman Ferrer who eliminated Rafa in the round of 16 last year may be a nuisance, although Nadal is not the same player. Yet, perhaps, the most dangerous potential opponent is Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro who has been blazing the last few weeks. If Del Potro continues to ride this wave, Nadal could be in trouble in the semifinals. Great Britain’s Andy Murray may have a lot to say in the matter, Del Potro and he could face off in the quarters.

Czech Radek Stepanek who beat him at the ATP Masters in Rome could test second seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the third round. Moreover, Serbian Jarko Tipsaravic who almost defeated Federer in Australia could be a potential quarterfinal challenge. But another Serbian 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic may be Federer’s biggest obstacle as the two may end up clashing in the semifinals. Djokovic has been stumbling of late but his draw looks manageable particularly with a struggling Andy Roddick as a possible opponent in the quarterfinals.

For Ivanovic, the task appears doable until the quarterfinals where she could meet Russian Dinara Safina who’s surely out for revenge after the French Open. Ivanovic’s thumb injury may be factor in the tournament. No possible Williams sisters finals, these two are on the same side of the draw and could clash in the quarterfinals. Moreover, both have intricate first round matches. Standing in the way of Serbian Jelena Jankovic could be China’s Jie Zheng in the third round or Russian Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals. The Russians are blessed with many contenders for the trophy. The road to the semifinals for Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova may mean motoring through one another. So it may not be a question of which country but which Russian will hoist the trophy, in my opinion, Safina has to be the favorite.

Miami native Ahsha Rolle is a wildcard entrant. Click here to access all of the draws for the 2008 US Open.


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Wrap Up Of The Beijing Olympics 2008

Spaniard Rafael Nadal continues to have the Midas touch. Nadal defeated Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the gold medal round in straights sets 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Gonzalez went up one notch in the hardware department by winning silver adding to the bronze he collected in Athens in 2004. Moreover, this was the cherry on top of Nadal’s flan as he officially assumes the number one ranking on Monday.

In the semifinals, Gonzalez had a controversial match with American James Blake. The dispute arose when a backhand pass struck by Blake inadvertently clipped Gonzalez’ racket. Despite the ball being initially on its way out, by default, Blake should have been awarded the point. But since the play was unnoticed by the umpire and Gonzalez failed to own up to his mistake, the Chilean was given the point. In his defense, Gonzalez stated that he was unsure that the ball hit his racket. Perhaps, Blake would have brushed off the incident had he converted on one of his three match points to advance to the gold metal round. After losing, Blake accused Gonzalez of poor sportsmanship, considering the arena this vitriolic statement is further magnified. In the bronze metal match, Blake fell to Serbian Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6.

After going down to Blake in the quarterfinals, Roger Federer along with Swiss teammate Stanislas Wawrinka prevailed over top doubles seed Americans Mike and Bob Bryan in the semifinals. The Swiss went on to beat the Swedish team of Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in the gold metal round. The Americans settled for the bronze metal, winning over the French team of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

It was an all-Russian sweep in the women’s singles. Elena Dementieva beat Dinara Safina in an enthralling three setter 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. In the second set, after making up a 1-4 deficit, Safina had momentum on her side and the opportunity to take the lead at 5-5, but she failed to convert on break point. In a game Dinara was leading 40-15 Dementieva eventually broke. From then on, fatigue became a major factor for Safina. The bronze metal went to Vera Zvonareva who handled China’s Na Li 6-0, 7-5.

After being dismissed in the singles quarterfinal, Serena and Venus Williams squashed the Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginie Ruano Pascual 6-2, 6-0 to win doubles gold, the second for team Williams. In the consolation bronze metal match, Chinese Zi Yan and Jie Zheng beat Ukrainian sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2.

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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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Wimbledon 2008: A Preview Of The Singles’ Draw

Once again, the Wimbledon seeding committee has upset the apple cart by utilizing its prerogative of not formulating the draw according to rankings. It is the only major that does not always abide by the rankings.

Thus, on the gentlemen’s side, Richard Gasquet currently the world number nine has been seeded ahead of James Blake ranked number eight. This is far from a minor detail. Gasquet’s semifinal finish last year probably influenced that decision, but his performance so far this year has been disastrous. For Blake, the implications are huge. Instead of meeting Andy Roddick seeded sixth in the semifinals, the two could potentially clash in the round of 16.

Marcos Baghdatis also reaped the fruits of his quarterfinal showing last year. Now ranked 25, Baghdatis is seeded tenth. Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka, world number ten, in spite of his excellent season has been bumped to the number thirteen slot. Otherwise, the top seven players were seeded as expected.

For world number one Roger Federer, the road to the finals is paved with stones. In the first round, Federer faces former top ten player, Dominik Hrbaty. From there, things get more complex with Lleyton Hewitt, Fernando Gonzalez and possibly Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. For Rafael Nadal, it is harder to isolate potential pitfalls. Nadal recently beat Roddick on grass who is also on his side of the draw. Perhaps if Blake makes it to the semifinals, this may be problematic for Nadal considering that Blake leads him 3-2 in their head to head but they’ve always met on hardcourt.

The ladies’ seeding followed the rankings. Analyzing the top half of the draw, Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams should technically make it to the semifinals. For Ivanovic, speed bumps could include Patty Schnyder, Nicole Vaidosova and Agnes Szavay. On the other hand, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Agnieszka Radwanska may prevent Serena from getting to her projected engagement with Ivanovic. Defending champion Venus Williams’ journey to the trophy will be tough with Jelena Jankovic, Vera Zvonerava or Flavia Pennetta standing in her way in the quarterfinals. While Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina or Elena Dementieva may be semifinal obstacles for Venus. Similarly for Sharapova, her side of the draw is stacked with fellow Russians such Safina, Dementieva or Petrova who may stop her from advancing.

So, there is a lot to contemplate as we look ahead to next couple of weeks. On the women’s side, the draw appears wide open. Past major champions may have the edge because of their experience. With the gentlemen, considering that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic with their talent have distanced themselves so much from the rest of the field, it is hard to foresee another player as having even a marginal shot at the trophy. The question to be answered is whether this will be Federer’s sixth consecutive title or whether Nadal or Djokovic will manage to snatch it from Federer’s grasp.

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This Week On Grass On The ATP And WTA Tours

At the Ordina Open in the Netherlands, a combined ladies and gentlemen event, Spaniard David Ferrer, seeded number one, defeated Frenchman Marc Gicquel in the finals 6-4, 6-2 in order to win his first grass court title.

The second seed and world number nine, Frenchman Richard Gasquet, was eliminated by Gicquel in the second round. Other prominent players who fell include Ivan Ljubicic in the second round, Guillermo Canas in the semifinals and Mario Ancic in the quarterfinals. All was not lost for Ancic though who teamed up with Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the doubles. These two surprised the second seed Leander Paes/Mahesh Bhupathi in the finals, winning the trophy 7-6, 6-3.

On the women’s side, Danira Safina, the third seed, who has been on a dream ride the last few months, was shocked in the finals by 30-year-old Thai qualifier Tamarine Tanasugarn 5-7, 3-6. Safina beat the number one seed Elena Dementieva in the semifinals. For second seed Anna Chakvetadze the headaches continue this year; Alona Bondarenko stopped her in the quarterfinals.

Tanasugarn had to do it the hard way, but this was the most productive week of her career. After playing two matches to get into the main draw, Tamarine defeated last week’s titlist on grass Kateryna Bondarenko, then Ashley Harkelroad in the second round, hometown sweetheart Michaella Krajicek in the quarterfinals and got rid of the other Bondarenko sister, Alona, in the semifinals. Krajicek gave the locals something to cheer for regardless by winning the doubles with partner Marina Erakovic 6-3, 6-2.

At the Slazenger Open in Nottingham England, Ivo Karlovic successfully defended his title by beating Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7, 7-6. The higher seeds at this tournament were from the top twenty in the world. The well-known doubles teams of Jonathan Erlich/ Andy Ram seeded number one lost in the first round. In the finals, Bruno Soares/Kevin Ullyett prevailed over Jeff Coetzee/Jamie Murray 6-2, 7-6.

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Third Time Is The Charm: Ivanovic Wins First Major

For Serbian Ana Ivanovic, this was her second consecutive French Open final and her third stab at a major title. In the end, experience proved to be the key, as Ivanovic triumphed 6-4, 6-3 over Russian Dinara Safina to hoist her first major’s trophy.

Last year, Ivanovic was in Safina’s shoes as a first time finalist. Unable to deal with the magnitude of the occasion, Ivanovic quickly submitted to give Justine Henin her third straight title. This time around, Safina was the newcomer to the big stage and it showed. Dinara opened the match by losing her serve. With Ivanovic’s strongest wing, her forehand, on target, she got off to a double break lead 4-1. Yet, after venting in her native tongue, Safina quieted her nerves and made headway by winning three successive games to equalize things at 4 all. With this shift in momentum, the championship had the potential of turning into a real contest. But, in the next game, Safina shot herself in the foot again and handed the break back to Ivanovic. Still, as Ivanovic served for the set, Safina had two chances to keep the set alive, but was unable to capitalize.

Now beaming with confidence, which Ivanovic ostentatiously demonstrated with her customary fist pumps, Ana began the second set as she had the last by breaking Dinara in the initial game. Luckily, Safina immediately erased the lead 1-1. Unfortunately, Safina’s pattern of losing serve after breaking back continued and Ivanovic was once more ahead. Habitually with an explosive temperament, Safina had succeeded in controlling her emotions throughout the tournament. But, Dinara cracked under the pressure resulting in an innocent racket getting hammered. After letting off some steam, Safina kept the match close at 3-2 and had deuce on Ivanovic’s serve to try to level things off. But errors took hold of her game, increasing Ivanovic’s lead to 4-2. Serving at 3-5 to stay alive, Dinara committed three unforced errors to give Ivanovic triple championship point. The Serbian gladly accepted the present and with a forehand winner, Ana concluded the match to win her first major.

For both women, this was an unforgettable fortnight. Perhaps, after defeating three top ten players en route to the finals including new world number one, Maria Sharapova, Safina was emotionally spent. After all, Dinara twice overcame match point and 5-2 leads in the second set, once against Sharapova in the round of sixteen, then in quarterfinals against Elena Dementieva. Regardless, all of Safina’s hard work will be rewarded; she will once again be back into the top ten. For Ivanovic, this was a double coronation. By defeating countrywoman Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals, Ana supplanted Maria at number one. Today was just her crowning moment with her capturing the ‘Coupe Suzanne Lenglen’.

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Another Russian Takes Center Stage in Germany: Dinara Safina Wins First Tier I Title

The Qatar Telecom German Open final featured two Russians, the seventh seed, Elena Dementieva and the thirteenth seed, Dinara Safina. At age 22, this was Safina’s first Tier I tournament final despite being an eight-year veteran of the ladies’ circuit. Dinara took full advantage winning it 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

At the beginning of the first set, neither player held her serve. Disgruntled with her poor play, in a move reminiscent of her brother Marat, Safina knocked out a racket. With on court coaching permitted, Safina opted to get advice on her performance, but continued to have some difficulties. With the serve, habitually the most troublesome part of Dementieva’s game holding up nicely, with at 71% first serve, and with sloppy play from her opponent, Elena prevailed in the set 6-3.

The second set started out similarly to the first with exchanges of breaks. But, as the set progressed, with some intelligently placed drop shots and a dramatic improvement in her first serve at 70%, Safina took control of the rallies. Dinara also reverted her ratio of winners to unforced errors with the former outnumbering the latter. Although well known for her defensive play and mobility, Elena found it hard to be effective when pinned far behind the baseline. As a result, Safina leveled the match at one set all.

In the first game of the third set, Safina had a double break chance, but Dementieva swept that off. Yet, from then on, Safina had the upper hand. In the third game, Dinara got the break and consolidated to take a 3-1 lead. Safina further distanced herself from her rival by going up a double break. As the errors pilled up and Dementieva’s second serve became ineffective, Safina served out the set and won the match 6-2.

Ranked 17th in the world, this represented Safina’s most successful week as a singles player. In the third round, Dinara defeated world number one, Justine Henin 6-1 in the third set. She then dispatched Serena Williams in a third set tiebreaker, putting an end to Serena’s 17 match winning streak. For her part, Dementieva eliminated two Serbs on her way to the finals, Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals and Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals, the defending champion. To date, Ivanovic has never beaten Dementieva.

The women’s tour moves on to Rome where Maria Sharapova will make her debut on European clay. Henin withdrew from the tournament stating fatigue; Justine will be fined by the WTA for this eleventh hour move. Germany was Henin’s first tournament since the Sony Ericsson Open; she has been hampered by a knee problem. With Henin battling injury, the field looks wide open as to who might win this year’s French Open.

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