Tag Archive | "Jankovic"

Jankovic Whomps Wozniacki in Indian Wells Final

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Jankovic Whomps Wozniacki in Indian Wells Final


Prior to this tournament, Jelena Jankovic had been in a slump with a 5-4 record.  The Serb had been ousted twice this year in the first round at two different events.  Jankovic made up for some of the hardship today by beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open to claim her 12th career title.

From the first game, Jankovic demonstrated that she would be taking the driver’s seat and not allow Wozniacki a turn at the gas pedal.  When Caroline netted a backhand crosscourt, Jankovic had break point.  The Serb converted when the Dane sent a forehand long.  After easily consolidating, Jankovic induced a backhand crosscourt error from Wozniacki to set up double break point.  Jelena took a 3-0 lead when Caroline had another backhand miss its mark.  In the subsequent game, Wozniacki applied pressure and got to deuce, but the Dane could not reach break point.  After getting on the board at 1-4, Wozniacki provoked a few forehand miscues from Jankovic to obtain one of the breaks back.  However, the next game, Caroline committed three straight forehand mistakes for triple break point, then gifted Jelena the game with a backhand volley error.  As Jankovic served for the set, Wozniacki had another break point opportunity, but, with error after error resistance was futile.  Jankovic wrapped up the set when Wozniacki pushed a backhand long.

In the second set, Jankovic was off again to a great start as a backhand crosscourt pass winner gave her triple break point.  When Wozniacki mistimed the forehand, Jankovic secured the break.  Then, with a swift service hold, Jankovic jumped to a 2-0 advantage.  Although the Danish teenager kept in touch with Jankovic by staying only one break behind, she never manufactured a break point the entire set.  Serving at 5-4, with a backhand down the line winner, Jankovic arrived at double championship point.  When another Wozniacki return went off course, Jankovic seized her first BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells trophy.

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Confidence Booster:  Venus Defends Dubai Title

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Confidence Booster: Venus Defends Dubai Title


dubai_logoVenus Williams has been turned away her last three finals while Victoria Azarenka has prevailed in three consecutive finals.  In the 10th edition of the Dubai Tennis Championships, third seed and defending champion Venus met fourth seed Victoria for the ultimate match.  Williams came out on top 6-3, 7-5 for her 42nd  WTA career title.

Williams had been supreme this week, winning all her matches in straight sets.  In the quarters, Williams defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who had beaten her two times in a row.  From the first game, Williams was impressive with a forehand crosscourt winner for 40-0.  Serving at one all, Venus crushed a backhand down the line pass to hold for 2-1.  After a love game for 3-2, Williams forced Azarenka into two forehand errors for double break point.  Venus was gifted a double fault for 4-2.  However, serving for the set at 5-3, Venus committed two double faults.  Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner by Azarenka, Williams faced break point.  Yet again, Williams rifled some big serves to bail herself out, thereby carrying the set.

Still on the attack, Venus provoked Victoria into a couple of backhand miscues for double break point to open the second set.  Williams captured the break when Azarenka made her third consecutive backhand mistake.  With a couple of forehand winners, Venus easily took the next game.  Serving at 0-2, Azarenka missed a lob and went down 15-30.  Under pressure, Azarenka produced a couple of forehand winners to maintain a single break deficit.  With Williams consistent on the forehand side, Azarenka could make no headway.  But, Victoria’s opportunity finally arrived at 2-3 when Venus muffed a couple of strokes squandering two game points.  Afterwards, Williams double faulted giving Azarenka break point.  Victoria cashed in when Venus’ forehand sailed long.

The next game, despite Azarenka’s first serve letting her down, she held for 4-3.  The following few games, each woman guarded serve without complication.  However, at 5 all, Azarenka found danger.  By Venus chasing down every ball, Azarenka’s backhand coughed up errors leading to double break point.  With a forehand up the line winner, Williams grabbed a 6-5 edge.  After Azarenka saved two match points, Williams had a third with an Azarenka backhand miscue.  With two net courts in the same rally going in Venus’ favor, she sealed the title when Victoria dumped a volley into the net.

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USA Blast France In Fed Cup

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USA Blast France In Fed Cup


img_3202_bmExcept for the 2003 final in which France prevailed, the U.S. have owned France in Federation Cup competition. Their twelfth meeting occurred in Lievin, France on clay. The Americans dominated in the first round by winning three successive rubbers to clinch a semifinal spot.

On Saturday, in the first rubber after Bethanie Mattek-Sands jumped to a 2-0 lead, France’s Alize Cornet rolled off five straight games to build a 5-2 edge.  After Mattek-Sands crawled out of a triple break point hole and got to 3-5, she altered her tactics by coming more to the net.  It paid off.   Mattek-Sands broke Cornet as she served for the set.  But, following Mattek-Sands breaking for 6-5, she surrendered the lead at love sending the set to a tiebreaker.  A seesaw tiebreaker was ultimately captured by Mattek-Sands.

In the second set, after Cornet broke in the first game, with a sleuth of errors, she allowed Mattek-Sands to level the set. Then, after neither woman relinquished serve, at 5-6, the errors got the better of Cornet. This resulted in Mattek-Sands carrying the initial rubber 7-6,7-5.  Cornet’s record now stands at 0-6 in Fed Cup play.

The second match featured Melanie Oudin against Pauline Parmentier.  Oudin drew first blood in taking a 3-2 lead.  Subsequent to Oudin easily consolidating, Parmentier had 0-30 on Oudin’s serve on various occasions, however, each time the American halted the Frenchwoman.  Oudin took the first set 6-4.

In the second set, Oudin finally capitalized on a couple break point opportunities and went ahead 2-1.  Yet, on double break point, Oudin double faulted squaring the set at 2 all. After netting a forehand, Oudin faced triple break point.  Still, the teenager delivered to arrive at 3 all.  Then, with Parmentier serving at 4 all and 40-0, Oudin applied pressure on the second serve and got to deuce.  Subsequently, with a forehand return winner, Oudin had a second break point.  Oudin converted when Parmentier misfired on a backhand crosscourt.  Afterwards, Oudin kept her composure despite a tough game and closed out the match 6-4,6-4.

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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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Reflections on WTA 2009

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Reflections on WTA 2009


img_1710It’s that time of year when we look back at what transpired on the women’s tour over the past season and view ahead at the upcoming year.  Here’s a recap of the great, the good and the down right ugly moments from 2009.

Last year, in many respects, can be characterized as bizarre. The majors commenced with a meltdown by Dinara Safina as Serena Williams thrashed her in the Australian Open final.  Months later after sensational results at lead up tournaments, Safina, newly crowned world number one, had another breakdown in the French Open final vis-à-vis Svetlana Kuznetsova.  As such, Kuznetsova grabbed the second major of her career.

At the All England Club, after Serena survived a riveting semifinal match against Elena Dementieva, she faced Venus in the finals for the second consecutive year.  However, this go around, Serena bested big sister to capture 2009′s third major.  Also a favorite to step to the finals at the U.S. Open, Serena encountered two stumbling blocks, her emotions and  Kim Clijsters.

After fulfilling her desire to procreate, Clijsters discovered that her retreat from tennis had left a void.  Thus, following a two year absence, Clijsters once again embraced the game. Subsequent to some impressive triumphs, Clijsters took on Serena in the semifinals. The weather may have been in part culpable, more likely though, it was Clijsters’ superb touch that got under Serena’s skin as a foot fault by a line judge roused Serena’s anger.  Unsavory words by Serena caused a point penalty with Clijsters having match point.  A day later, Clijsters went on to rope the U.S. Open trophy, the second major of her career.

Leading the pack of names that captivated the tour in 2009 is Dane Caroline Wozniacki.  The teenager became her country’s first competitor to reach a major final. Although downed by Clijsters, after starting the year in the top 20, Wozniacki closed 2009 at number 4.  Belarusian Victoria Azarenka continued her march in the right direction.  Azarenka demolished Serena at the Sony Ericsson Open to catch the biggest title of her career.

On the other hand, for the Serbs, it was  a year of sliding backward. Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and former world number one, had trouble directing her forehand and serve. With neither stroke on the money, Ivanovic did not get pass the fourth round at any of the majors. Ivanovic reached one final, Indian Wells, but failed to hoist the trophy. Fed up, Ivanovic put a punctuation to her season in October and her ranking tumbled to 21st.  Number one at the start of the year, Jelena Jankovic, fared a little better than Ivanovic by collecting two titles.  However, Jankovic was equally a disappointment at the majors with only a round of 16 appearance in Paris and Melbourne.

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Opportunity Knocks:  Schiavone Scoops Up Kremlin Cup

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Opportunity Knocks: Schiavone Scoops Up Kremlin Cup


07_kremlin_cupItaly’s Francesca Schiavone and Belarus’ Olga Govortsova were unlikely picks to reach the final at the Kremlin Cup with Vera Zvonareva and defending champ Jelena Jankovic as the top two seeds at this premier tournament. Thus, this was especially sweet for Schiavone seeded eight as she made the most of her fortuitous circumstance in defeating Govortsova 6-3, 6-0 to claim her second and biggest title of her career.

The 29 year old Italian had been in her second 2009 final in Osaka just last week losing to Samantha Stosur.  Coming into Moscow, Schiavone had a horrendous final record, 1 for 10. On the other hand, for 21 year old Govortsova, this was her second WTA final although still with a title.  These competitors had split their prior two meetings.

After three uneventful service games by the players, serving at 40-15, Govortsova dumped two forehands into the net for deuce.  Then, with another crosscourt forehand error, Govortsova allowed Schiavone to get to break point. The Italian took a 3-1 lead after Govortsova mishandled Schiavone’s sliced backhand with a forehand error. However, Schiavone’s edge was brief. After placing a forehand up the line winner for two game points, Francesca double faulted and was unable to deal with a low ball causing her backhand volley to find the bottom of the net.  As a result of two forehand mistakes by Schiavone, Govortsova erased the break for 2-3.  Subsequently, in a marathon game with nine deuces, with a sensational forehand volley, Schiavone was once more with a break for 4-2. But, the Italian relinquished her advantage promptly with a sleuth of forehand miscues.  Yet, with a forehand up the line winner, a forehand crosscourt winner and a deep return which provoked an error from Govortsova, Schiavone had a couple of break chances.  Francesca capitalized when Olga’s forehand didn’t clear the net. This time, with a love game including a couple of aces, Schiavone wrapped up the set 6-3.

After the trainer attended to Govortsova’s back prior to starting the second set, with Schiavone’s amazing backhand dropshot winner, the Belarusian faced double break point. Subsequently, a backhand crosscourt error from Olga gave Francesca the break.  Schiavone consolidated with a second serve ace for 2-0.  Another mistake laden game by Govortsova resulted in triple break point for Schiavone.  A forehand miscue from the Belarusian extended the Italian’s edge to 3-0.  After a love service game, Schiavone broke one last time for 5-0.  With an ace, the Italian arrived at championship point.  Schiavone sealed the deal when Govortsova’s crosscourt forehand landed long.

With a second round win, Jankovic qualified for the final spot at the year ending championships in Doha which gets underway on Tuesday.  With Dinara Safina and Serena Williams neck in neck in the rankings, the Sony Ericsson championships will determine this season’s top dog.  The field is also comprised of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Venus Williams.

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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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