Tag Archive | "Ivanovic"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Australian Open Heating Up


Along with the summer temperatures, the action on court is scorching at the first major of the year. Let’s review the key developments of the initial week and try to predict what could unfold the last days at the Australian Open.

The unexpected casualties in the preliminary rounds were Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams, the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively. Venus was shocked in the second round by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro after having the match on her racket.  Suarez Navarro, a quarterfinalist at last year’s French Open, is now in the round of 16. Ivanovic, the 2008 finalist, was eliminated in the third round by 19 year-old Russian Alisa Kleybanova.  This was not a great surprise.  Since winning the French Open, Ivanovic has yet to make it past the third round at a major. Agnieszka Radwaska, the ninth seed, fell in the first round, beaten by Kateryna Bondarenko. The biggest upset on the men’s section was David Nalbandian, the tenth seed, going down in the second round to Yen-Hsun Lu ranked 61.

As we enter the meat and potatoes part of the tournament, the top four men remain on track to collide in the semifinals. With the exception of Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have looked extremely sharp. Of the two Americans left, Andy Roddick, the seventh seed, may represent the biggest headache pending on Djokovic’s side of the draw. Roddick’s recent weight lost and coaching change appear to be paying dividends. Andy has dispatched his opponents expeditiously, so an upset could be brewing. James Blake, the ninth seed, has played very well. However, Blake will meet last year’s finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the round of 16. Vanquishing Tsonga may be too tall an assignment for the American. Nadal will face Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 finalist. Gonzalez may not have much left in the tank after his high quality, over four hour long, five setter against Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Federer will battle Tomas Berdych. Should Roger advance, waiting will be either Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic, two tough customers. The French are assured of having at least one man in the quarterfinals with Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils playing one another next. With the leftover field competing so well, the odds maker may need to reshuffle their numbers. The favorite may have to be Nadal, Federer and Murray in that order.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

First Major of the Year, the Australian Open, Posts Its Draw


The 2009 Australian Open released the match up list today. For both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the number one and two seeds respectively, it will be a treacherous path to the finals.

Potential semifinal opponents for Nadal include Andy Murray unstoppable of late whether facing Roger or him, Gilles Simon who had a spectacular win against him in Madrid last year and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 finalist. However, as of press time, it’s still a question mark whether Tsonga will take the court due to a back problem. For Federer, all roads to the finals seem to go through defending champion Novak Djokovic. The two appear destined for a semifinal rematch. The spoiler may be Andy Roddick who will possibly have to defeat Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Regardless, with his phenomenal record since losing in his first major final, no longer a novice, this may be Murray’s tournament for the taking.

Maria Sharapova, last year’s winner, will be unable to defend because she is rehabbing her shoulder post surgery. Therefore, on the women side, potential champions abound. Top seed Jelena Jankovic should sail through to the quarterfinals where she may battle Vera Zvonareva, a player Jelena has had little trouble crushing in the past. Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 runner up, and Dinara Safina are possibly heading for a quarterfinal clash. Either one could be an impediment to Jankovic making her second consecutive major final. But, Ivanovic’s play has been patchy lately; it would not be surprising if Caroline Wozniacki stops her from advancing. With the Williams sisters on the same side of the draw, Venus and Serena may meet in the semifinals. Venus may need to bypass Elena Dementieva or Flavia Pennetta while Serena may have to vanquish Victoria Azarenka who recently won her first tour title or Agnieszka Radwanska before the siblings can tango. With two titles under her belt already and a recent win over Serena, Dementieva will be no push over for Venus and is a genuine contender. Nevertheless, Venus is perhaps the underdog with the best chance to win it all considering how well she finished 2008. The first ball strike is in less than 72 hours. For a detailed look at the singles and doubles draws go to www.australianopen.com

Posted in NewsComments Off

2008:  A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2008: A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour


img_2867As another season concludes on the WTA, its is only fitting to reflect on the moments that branded it and look forward to what might be in store for 2009.

The Russian onslaught continues with half of the players ranked in the top ten coming from that nation. One of the pack’s standouts, Maria Sharapova, bulldozed over her opponents to win the year’s first major in Australia. However, after an impressive winning streak, Sharapova went on forced sabbatical due to an old shoulder injury resurfacing. Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva finally lived up to their promise, as these two had a phenomenal run in 2008. Sporting new coaches, these two women known for their volatile outburst on court, bottled their tempers which translated into great results. Safina’s newfound mental solidity carried her all the way to the French Open final. For her part, Zvonareva was a finalist at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships where she lost a heartbreaking match to Venus Williams. Moreover, this powerhouse of tennis swept the medals at the Olympics with Elena Dementieva taking gold, Safina silver, and Zvonareva bronze. In team play, the Russians were also supreme, crushing Spain to grab another Federation cup.

The Serbians also became more firmly entrenched in the sport. After her defeat in the Australian final, Ana Ivanovic claimed her first major in Paris. Compatriot Jelena Jankovic made her first majors’ final appearance at the U.S. Open, but lost a tough three setter. As a result of the French Open title, Ivanovic captured the number one ranking. But with a niggling thumb injury, Ivanovic struggled the remainder of the year. On the other hand, Jankovic overflowing with confidence after her great U. S. Open showing, won three straight tournaments and finished the year at number one. Jelena is the third player after Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis to hold that honor despite failing to earn a major trophy.

The Williams sisters persist as the beacon of light of American tennis with Venus shining on her best surface, the grass at Wimbledon. Venus seized her fifth title at sister Serena’s expense. But the latter’s tears were short-lived as the siblings took the Wimbledon doubles title and repeated with doubles gold in Beijing. Moreover, Venus showed that at 28, she still could keep up with her younger peers by winning both in Zurich and at the prestigious year-end championships. While Serena, no spring chicken herself, prevailed for the third time at the U.S. Open.

Read the full story

Posted in EditorialComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , ,

WTA Ushers In Reform In 2009


For many years, the governing body of women tennis has been mulling over this conundrum: how best to grow and maintain the popularity of the sport in emerging markets while not adversely affecting the players who are often overextended by an already demanding schedule. After extensive research, the WTA believes it has found the perfect balance, which it trusts, will serve to better the game.

In September, a new schematic, the “roadmap”, was announced outlining the reforms that will be in effect next year. Two key revisions stand out and are worth emphasizing. Firstly, to minimize injury more down time will be allotted without unduly penalizing the athletes. Towards that end, players will be permitted 7 to 9 weeks of vacation time. Secondly, the players will see their monetary compensation increase through a revenue sharing program. Here are other salient points to the “roadmap”:

1) The prior system of labeling tournaments as “tier” has been abrogated. These competitions will now be called “ Premier” events for tiers I and II while tiers III and IV, “International” events. Moreover, the former have been scaled down from 26 to 20 with the goal of securing more top player participation. Besides the majors, Miami, Indian Wells, Madrid and Beijing will be obligatory tournaments.

2) A new method will be implemented for calculating player ranking whereby the best 16 tournament results will be taken into consideration.

3) While the top eight players will continue to be rewarded with a spot at the Sony Ericsson Championships at year’s end, the efforts of the rest of the top twenty will be acknowledged through their participating at the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions.

4) On court coaching will be allowed at all events. Players will be able to confab with their coaches once per set, either during the change over or after the set. Also, coaching will be legal during bathroom breaks or injury timeouts.

Thus far, the new guidelines have gotten mixed reviews. World number 3 Dinara Safina has expressed concerns over the possibility that top players will be restricted as to which tournaments they can enter while the same rules may not apply to lesser ranked ones. Venus Williams, the current number 6, has welcomed the modifications as a good thing for the sport. However, reigning French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic has voiced her reservations over on court coaching, fearing that it will alter the basic premise of singles as an individual sport. Therefore, with these conflicting viewpoints, it will be interesting to see how these changes will stamp the game in the upcoming year.

For complete details on the “roadmap” and to view the calendar for 2009, click here or logon to www.sonyericssonwtatour.com , scroll down to quick links section and click on roadmap 2009.  

Posted in NewsComments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Just The Cure For Her Ailing Game: Ivanovic Captures Title In Linz


After final appearances at the Australian and French Opens, ultimately breaking through and hoisting the latter trophy, Ana Ivanovic’s game hit the skids. Last week, the Serbian youngster got back on course with a semifinal showing in Zurich and this week took it one step further by reaching the finals at the tier II Generali Ladies Linz in Austria, her first since the French. Ivanovic, the top seed and world number four, thrashed Russian Vera Zvonareva, the second seed and world number nine, 6-2, 6-1.

After Zvonareva’s flawless performance in the semifinals where she crushed Marion Bartoli 6-1, 6-0, a highly competitive final was anticipated. Moreover, Ivanovic struggled in the semifinals vanquishing crafty teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Unfortunately, the final was a one sided affair. Zvonareva opened the proceedings with three straight unforced errors and with a backhand drop shot, Ivanovic took the lead 1-0. The Serbian whose serve was problematic in the prior round, connecting on a dismal 37% of first serves in the initial set, won her first service game at love. In three games, Zvonareva made nine unforced errors from both wings and won only two points to go down two breaks. Briefly, Vera seemed to overcome her erratic play and with a forehand crosscourt winner arrived at her first break point. Zvonareva converted when Ivanovic committed a rare forehand error. However, this was the highlight for Zvonareva as the Russian’s game continued its meltdown. After leading 40-0, Vera committed two backhand errors and three double faults to give Ivanovic another break for 4-1. With a flurry of unforced errors, Zvonareva conceded the set to Ivanovic.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

Venus Finishes Regular Season With A Title In Zurich


Italian Flavia Pennetta has had Venus Williams’ number in their last three encounters. Ousting the majors’ champion in the semifinals in Bangkok, the third round at the French Open and last week in the first round in Moscow. But today, Venus exacted revenge by prevailing in straight sets in the finals at the Tennis.com Zurich Open 7-6, 6-2.

As always for Venus, the key to her success was her serve. Williams opened the match with a few big bombs to hold at love. Not intimidated, Pennetta got through her service game easily thanks to unforced errors from Williams. Another crucial factor was Venus’ success when venturing into the forecourt. After getting an ad point, Williams made a nice forehand swing volley to stay on serve at 3-2. After an untroubled service game, Pennetta got to deuce on Williams’ serve, but with an ace and great defense in an extended rally, Williams forced Pennetta to miss the volley to lead 5-4. With neither player able to break, the first set went to a tiebreak. Williams dominated from the outset. With a deep service return, Venus got the error from Flavia to go up a minibreak 2-0. Then, a Pennetta miscue on a volley and two backhand errors placed Williams in command in the tiebreak.

After going down 15-30 in the second set’s opening game, Flavia regrouped and held serve. After breezing through her service game, Williams used great defense to get the forehand error from Pennetta in an interminable rally giving Venus the first break point of the match. Unflappable in the long rallies, Williams forced her opponent into an error to obtain the break 2-1. After consolidating the break, Williams started to tee off on Pennetta’s second serves. With a double fault, Venus got a second break point which Flavia defended to keep the gap at one break. After this momentary reprieve, Williams baited Pennetta into three unforced errors her next service game, then used her defensive skills to top Pennetta in a blockbuster rally for a 5-2 lead. After scooping up a low volley for a backhand winner, Venus arrived at match point. Following a controversial line call which kept Pennetta alive, Venus refocused to hit a forehand down the line winner for a second match point. Williams then put a period on the proceedings with a solid serve.

For Pennetta, it was a week of firsts. The Italian beat world number one, Jelena Jankovic for the first time and made it to her first tier II tournament final. Williams, who has been struggling since winning her only title this year at Wimbledon, defeated Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals. With this victory, Venus secures her place in Doha at the Sony Ericsson championships. Celebrating its 25th and final year, the Zurich Open is being axed from the restructured WTA calendar in 2009.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“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.

 

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Spotlight On Beijing 2008: Going for Tennis Gold


After the pageantry of the opening ceremonies on Friday which was highlighted by tennis stars Roger Federer and Chilean Fernando Gonzalez carrying the flag for their countries, today marked the initial session of full competition. But the headline turned out to be the weather as most of the matches were rained out.

American James Blake seeded 8th defeated Australian Chris Guiccione 6-3. 7-6; while Russian Nikolay Davydenko took care of Latvian contender Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-2. Fernando Gonzalez, Czech Tomas Berdych and Argentine Guillermo Canas also marched on to the next round.

The women’s draw was handed a major disappointment as French Open champion and top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia withdrew due to a thumb injury. Ivanovic has been battling with this issue since Wimbledon. Despite stating that she will be in New York, Ivanovic’s participation at the U.S. Open is up in the air. Italian Francesca Schiavone and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki had no trouble dismissing their opponents. Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova also advanced.

On day two, Federer taking on Russian Dmitry Tursunov is perhaps the most interesting match up. Other key players on tap include Rafael Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams, Serbian Novak Djokovic and the hottest female on tour Russian Dinara Safina. Since the surface in Beijing is a hardcourt, it should present a good challenge for these competitors as they prepare for the U.S. Open.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Safina Pulverizes Pennetta To Win East West Bank Classic


The women’s final at the second stop of the U.S. Open Series placed Italian Flavia Pennetta against Russian Dinara Safina. The latter must have felt comfortable coming into this match since she had never lost to the Italian. Safina smashed her opponent 6-4, 6-2 to take her second trophy this season.

After a tentative start where Pennetta had a break point in her first service game, Safina began to find her rhythm. The Italian attempted to match the power coming from her competitor’s racket, but serving at 3-4, Pennetta was broken. Yet, Dinara was unable to wrap up the set. Shortly after, unable to find the mark with her serve, Safina was broken herself. Nevertheless, the normally volatile Russian kept her cool and continued to pound away at the ball and created a double break point opening which seized to prevail in the first set 6-4.

In the second set, Safina proceeded to punch-drunk Pennetta with her weighty shots. Although Flavia broke Dinara’s serve twice, she was unable to hold hers even once. Thus, despite her great effort, Pennetta was crushed in the second set at 6-2. With this win, Safina’s ranking moves up a notch to number 8, her highest ever.

Safina dismissed the tournament’s top seed, Jelena Jankovic, in the semifinals. Jankovic would have grabbed the number one ranking away from her countrywoman Ana Ivanovic if she won this week. Serena Williams pulled out of the event because of last week’s knee injury while Daniela Hantuchova and Anna Chakvetadze fell in the third round and the quarterfinals respectively.

At the Slovenia Open, a tier IV hard court tournament, Italian Sara Errani beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3 to win her second title this year.

Next week the ladies will be in Montreal for the Rogers Cup where most of the top players will be competing minus Venus and Serena Williams who will be absent due to illness. A tier IV hard court tournament will also be taking place in Sweden with Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska as the number one seed.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Facebook

Twitter

Archives