Tag Archive | "Hewitt"

The Wait Is Almost Over: The Sony Ericsson Open Starts Next Week

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The Wait Is Almost Over: The Sony Ericsson Open Starts Next Week


img_2806-2The Sony Ericsson Open, Florida’s most prestigious tennis tournament and the world’s “fifth major”, turns 25 this year. From March 25th thru April 5th , an A-list of competitors will descend upon the Tennis Center at Crandon Park to mark this milestone birthday.

From the ATP, Rafael Nadal, the reigning Australian Open champion, world number one and 2008 Sony Ericsson finalist, will honor South Florida with his presence. The supporting cast will include Roger Federer, world number two and dual Sony titleholder, and Serb Novak Djokovic, the 2007 Sony champion. Brit Andy Murray and American Andy Roddick who have had spectacular seasons to date will be counted on for the festivities. Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the defending champion, has been out of commission for weeks due to injury. Hopefully, Davydenko will recover in time to take a stab at a second consecutive title.

One of the hottest players on the WTA tour is the current Australian Open and 2008 Sony titlist, Serena Williams. Serena, the female number one, will attempt to win for the third time in a row and is also going for a record setting sixth Sony trophy. Serena will face fierce competition from Russian Dinara Safina, the world number two and this year’s Australian Open finalist, Jelena Jankovic, the Sony 2008 finalist and world number three, not to mention her own sister Venus Williams, who has three Sony Ericsson Open trophies to her credit. Maria Sharapova, whose shoulder has been on the mend, may also make an appearance, giving the field a run of its money.

On the doubles side, Mike and Bob Bryan have regained the top doubles ranking since winning the Australian Open and will be ready to defend their Sony title. The Bryan Brothers will be a prime target for teams such as Mark Knowles and Mahesh Bhupathi, who took second place last year, Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram as well as Brazilians Andre Sa and Marcelo Melo.

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Delray Beach ITC Main Draw Finalized

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Delray Beach ITC Main Draw Finalized


img_8728With the qualification rounds completed, the main draw for the the International Tennis Championships (ITC) in Delray Beach has been finalized.

Making their way into the main draw after three qualifying rounds are Canadian Frank Dancevic, Russian Evgeny Korolev, and Americans Ryan Sweeting and Taylor Dent.  Dent, a wild card entry, pulled off a mini-upset by knocking out five time ITC finalist and winner in 2005 and 2007 Xavier Malisse in the second round of qualifications.

Topping the draw are Americans Marty Fish and Sam Querrey, seeded one and two respectively. Querrey, last year’s semifinalist, was added as a wild card entry.   Also accepting a wild card into the main draw is the 1999 ITC winner and two time major champion Lleyton Hewitt.

For a complete listing of the 2009 Delray Beach ITC main draw click here to visit the tournament’s official web page.

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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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A Man For All Surfaces? Nadal Wins First Title on Grass


One week after his triumph at the French Open, Rafael Nadal, the two time Wimbledon finalist, defeated Novak Djokovic in a grueling match to win his first grass court title at the Artois Championships 7-6, 7-5.

After surviving a break point in the opening game, Djokovic broke Nadal at love to take a 3-0 lead. With his aggressive play, Djokovic had the chance to take a 4-0 lead, but Nadal fought off multiple breaks points to get on the scoreboard 3-1. In the next game, Djokovic paid the price when a net court gave Nadal the point and the players went back on serve. With his advantage gone, Djokovic showed his displeasure by banging his racket. With Nadal beautifully using angles and constructing points that allowed him to get to net, Rafa was getting under Djokovic’s skin. Appropriately, the first set was decided by a tiebreak. After leading by one mini-break or at even several times, Djokovic had a set point at 6-5 when Nadal made an error. But, thanks to a long rally which knocked Djokovic to the ground, Nadal saved the set 6-6. On the next point, despite a great serve by Djokovic, Nadal had an even better reply. This led to Rafa’s first set point which was all he needed to things up.

Djokovic got off to an inauspicious start in the second set and was broken at love. After dismissing a break point on his serve, Nadal extended his lead 2-0. After being down 15-40, Djokovic battled back to get on the board 2-1. Finally, in the sixth game, Djokovic had a break opportunity and converted 3-3. Nadal had double break point in the eight game; but lady luck smiled on Novak. First, with a bad bounce then, with Rafa losing his footing, Novak held his serve.

Djokovic built on that momentum by breaking Nadal at love with some spectacular shots 5-4. Thus, it appeared that a decisive third set would be played. As Djokovic served for the set, Nadal produced a terrific defensive lob in a rally to ultimately earn a break point. After getting to deuce a couple of times, Nadal’s persistence paid dividend and he leveled the set at 5-5. After easily holding his own, Nadal pressured Djokovic’s serve with shots such as a forehand down the line for a winner. When Novak misfired on a volley, Nadal arrived at match point. On the subsequent play, Nadal lured Djokovic to the net with a drop volley and put away the winner to prevail in the tournament.

In doubles, after defeating the Bryan brothers, the number one seed, in the quarterfinals, Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa faced the second seed, Daniel Nestor/ Nenad Zimonjic, in the finals. Team Nestor/ Zimonjic won the title in straights sets 6-4, 7-6.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal survived a barrage of aces, 35, from Ivo Karlovic to advance by winning a third set tiebreak. In the semifinals, Rafa had a fairly routine win over defending champion Andy Roddick. On the other hand, Djokovic’s path was less sinuous with his dismissal of Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals and a thumping victory over David Nalbandian in the semifinals, the latter won one game. If this match is a preview of what’s in store for Wimbledon, those two weeks will be quite exciting.

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