Tag Archive | "Jankovic"

Back In The Mix:  Jankovic Stumps Safina in Cincy Final

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Back In The Mix: Jankovic Stumps Safina in Cincy Final


img_0724Since surrendering the number one ranking, Serb Jelena Jankovic’s game has been careening backward.  But, today, the 2008 U.S Open finalist showed that she will be a contender in New York.  In the finals of Western & Southern Financial Group Open, a premier hardcourt tune up, Jankovic beat world number one Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-2 to pick up her second title of the year.

After Safina held serve, a double fault gave her a break point.  However, Jankovic yanked this opportunity away and managed to keep serve.  Then,  Jelena broke Safina at love for a 3-1 advantage which altered the complexion of the match.  By effectively using her backhand, Jelena baited Safina into errors particularly on the forehand side and carried the set.

In the second, Safina sent a backhand long to hand Jankovic double break point.  Jelena capitalized when Dinara double faulted.  After a love service game, Jankovic forced two backhand errors from Safina to widen her lead by a double break at 3-0.  As a result of a double fault and backhand mistake by Jankovic, Safina regained one of the breaks.  The next game, despite four double faults by Dinara, two of which were break points, Jelena was unable to capitalize.  This potential swing in momentum was weathered, as Jankovic won her service game for a 4-2 margin. Subsequently, with aggressive returns and by deconstructing Safina’s forehand, Jankovic earned triple break point.  After securing a 5-2 lead, Jankovic served cleanly to claim her biggest trophy of 2009.

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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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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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Safina Overwhelms Wozniacki For Second Straight Clay Court Title

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Safina Overwhelms Wozniacki For Second Straight Clay Court Title


dsc_5877Madrid was the scene for the WTA’s last premier clay court tournament where world number one, Russian Dinara Safina, battled ninth seed, Dane Caroline Wozniacki. Safina destroyed Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in the finals of the Mutua Madrilena Open for her eleventh career trophy.

After both players saved break points in their opening service games, with two unforced errors by Wozniacki, Safina had double break point. Dinara converted with a forehand crosscourt winner and took a 2-1 lead. By gorging on backhand down the line winners, Dinara was able to consolidate. Afterwards, Safina broke again for a 4-1 advantage. As Wozniacki’s error tally mounted, Safina cemented the first set at 6-2.

In the second set, with a forehand up the line mistake by Wozniacki, Safina arrived at break point. The Russian captured the lead with another forehand error by the Dane. Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Safina pulled in front 2-0. Serving at 2-1, Safina made an unforced error causing her to face break point. But, Dinara chased down a volley by Caroline to produce a winner for deuce. Subsequently, with a few more faults from Wozniacki, Safina held for 3-1. Henceforth, neither competitor had a miscue on serve until the eighth game. Leading 40-0, Safina committed three straight errors and with a well-concealed forehand dropshot winner, Wozniacki had break point. However, a backhand crosscourt grazing the tape denied Caroline the opportunity to equalize the set. The tenacious Dane got another break point with a superb backhand volley winner. Still, Safina turned Wozniacki away with a winner. After Caroline failed to capitalize on a third break chance, Dinara secured this seven-deuce game and a 5-3 lead. After being unsuccessful on a match on her opponent’s serve, Safina benefited from a multitude of errors by Wozniacki to secure the championship.

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Kuznetsova Cuts Off Safina For First Trophy In Two Years

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Kuznetsova Cuts Off Safina For First Trophy In Two Years


img_1153-version-2In the finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, a clay court premier tournament, Svetlana Kuznetsova vanquished fellow Russian and world number one, Dinara Safina, 6-4, 6-3 to claim her tenth career title.

After each player readily held serve, Kuznetsova faced two break points but dismissed them with forehand up the line winners for 2-1. Serving at 2-3, Safina had a backhand go long after a rocket forehand return by Kuznetsova giving the latter a 15-30 edge. Nevertheless, with a backhand volley winner and an ace, Dinara preserved the game. Then, after Svetlana had no trouble with her service game, Dinara double faulted and made an unforced error giving her rival break point. In spite of that, Safina wiggled out of that predicament with another ace and unforced errors by Kuznetsova to square the set at 4. After securing a 5-4 advantage with a forehand up the line winner, Kuznetsova overpowered Safina with forehand winners to get double break point. With Safina’s backhand finding the net, Kuznetsova rested the set.

The difference in the first set was Kuznetsova’s accuracy not only with her forehand, but her consistency from the backhand side. However with the score 1-1, Kuznetsova had a backhand travel long to hand Safina double break point. Still, with powerful forehand winners, Svetlana kept her slim edge for 2-1. Although theoretically Dinara was holding serve, in reality, she was relying too much on her second serve. That flaw came back to haunt her at 2-3 when Kuznetsova, with double break point, fired a backhand return deep which resulted in a weak reply by Safina. Subsequently, Kuznetsova put away an easy forehand volley for a 4-2 lead. After consolidating with a love service game, Kuznetsova had an initial match point because of a Safina double fault. Dinara managed a backhand return error for deuce. Afterwards, with a forehand crosscourt winner and backhand misfired by her rival, Dinara prolonged the match. Then, with a strong service game, Kuznetsova on her third championship point smashed an overhead for a winner to end the set.

Having lost eight straight finals and with Safina winning seven of their eleven meetings, including the last four, Kuznetsova didn’t seem to have a pray. So, this week, Kuznetsova got a big monkey off her back. In addition to Kuznetsova’s last title being in 2007, it had been a while since she prevailed over a top five opponent. In the semifinals, Kuznetsova banished world number three Elena Dementieva in straight sets. From number nine, Svetlana’s ranking will bump up to number eight. Importantly, Jelena Jankovic struggles persist. Italy’s Flavia Pennetta ousted the second seed and world number four in the quarterfinals. Also, Argentina’s Gisela Dulko stopped recent Sony Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

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Jankovic Rises To Challenge Of Spanish Darling In Andalucian Final

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Jankovic Rises To Challenge Of Spanish Darling In Andalucian Final


img_2867Serbian Jelena Jankovic, second seed and world number four, outlasted Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the finals of the Andalucia Tennis Experience, a new event on the WTA tour. Jankovic, playing in her first final this year, won in three tough sets on clay 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for her tenth career title.

With Suarez Navarro ranked 32nd and with this being her debut in a WTA final, for Jankovic, this match should have been a walk in the park. Instead, the 19 year-old Spaniard demonstrated that her reaching the quarterfinals of the 2008 French and 2009 Australian Open was no aberration.

After Jankovic opened the match holding at love and Suarez Navarro tied the set at 1 all, the Spaniard made a couple of backhand winners giving her three chances to break. However, thanks to a kind net court winner and forehand errors by Carla, Jelena came out unscathed. Subsequently, Jankovic harassed her rival’s forehand and manufactured a break for a 3-1 lead. With Jelena committing two consecutive backhand errors, Carla again had triple break point. With a smoking up the line forehand, the Spaniard provoked a backhand error from the Serb to get back on serve. Disappointingly, in the next game, Suarez Navarro smashed an overhead into the net giving Jankovic back the advantage. This proved to be the difference in Jelena winning the first set.

Suarez Navarro began the proceedings in the second set with forehand and backhand down the line winners. After getting to 40-0, the Spaniard made a series of errors that resulted in Jankovic breaking for 1-0. Yet, Suarez Navarro showed she was no push over and battled back. With Jelena having two game points, Carla made a forehand up the line winner and pressured errors from her opponent for deuce. Encouraged by her home audience, the Spaniard broke when Jankovic’s crosscourt forehand went out of bounce. After holding serve for 2-1, Suarez Navarro capitalized on an error filled game by Jankovic to jump ahead 3-1. The rest of the set, the Spaniard dominated on the long points while the errors accumulated from the Serb. Carla served out the set and tied the match.

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009


img_0942Fittingly, as the Sony Ericsson Open turns twenty-five this year, the first week of competition has already provided tons of fireworks on the courts. Here are just a few of the most memorable occurrences.

The initial two days were taken up by the qualifying rounds. Despite receiving wildcard entries, former major champions Swede Thomas Johansson and Argentine Gaston Gaudio did not move on to the main draw. In addition, the Americans teenager Donald Young and veteran Vincent Spadea failed to advance. On the other hand, Taylor Dent, whose career has had fits and starts due to niggling injuries, progressed into the primary field along with Michael Russell, Amer Delic and thirty-something Jill Craybas.

As the action got underway for real on Thursday, Dent’s hot hand continued.  The American beat two top twenty players in the second and third rounds, Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo respectively.  In the round of 16, Dent will face Roger Federer; this will be their first encounter. Albeit the world number two has had multiple kinks in his game, Dent will need to pull off the performance of a lifetime in order to vanquish Federer. Surprisingly, the 14th seed Argentine David Nalbandian made a second round exit while James Blake, the 13th seed, was halted in the third round by Czech Thomas Berdych.

The sole top ten male to scent any whiff of difficulties in the third round was Frenchman Gael Monfils. The 9th seed clawed back from a double break deficit and saved two match points against Marat Safin, the 22nd seed and former major champion, before prevailing in a third set tiebreaker. Top seed Rafael Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin Del Potro, Gilles Simon, Fernando Verdasco and Jo- Wilfried Tsonga are also into the second week.

Much of the ruckus appeared to be on the women’s side. The rain was not the only nuisance at Crandon Park on Sunday as a ragging storm decimated through the elite ten. Actually, the turbulence commenced Saturday evening with the last match of the day featuring world number three, Serb Jelena Jankovic. The usually steady Serb was ushered out by Argentine Gisela Dulko.  Jankovic’s game has been stagnating; for the second consecutive tournament, she has made a second round exit. After the euphoria of the previous night and the quick turnaround, Dulko lost the next afternoon in straight sets to Czech Iveta Besenova. Another Serb Ana Ivanovic, the world number 7, was also excused in the third round by gifted Hungarian youngster Agnes Szavay in three sets.

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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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