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Last Act of 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Today: Roddick and Berdych in Men’s Final

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Last Act of 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Today: Roddick and Berdych in Men’s Final


The recipient of the Sony Ericsson Open men’s trophy will be decided this afternoon as Andy Roddick and Tomas Berdych clash in the finals.  That will be followed by the WTA doubles final.

The winner in Brisbane, this is Roddick’s fourth final of the year.  However, in his first ATP 1000 Masters’  final in Indian Wells, Roddick was disappointed by Ivan Ljubicic.  The victor in Miami in 2004, Roddick will attempt to capture his second championship in South Florida.  If Roddick succeeds, it will be his first Masters’  title since 2006 in Cincinnati and the 29th of his career.

After prevailing over Roger Federer, Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling to advance to the finals, Berdych tries to put the cherry on this spectacular run with his first title of the year.  Moreover, Berdych is in his first ATP Masters 1000  final since 2005 in Paris where he was triumphant.  In contrast to Roddick, not only is this Berdych’s first final of the year,  he is trying to collect  his 6th career title.  The Czech is 2-5 lifetime versus Roddick and has already lost twice to him in 2010.  While Berdych has a record of  5-4 in finals, Roddick is 28-19.  With the prior wins and the vast differential in experience, Roddick is the clear favorite.

The tournament ends with the women’s doubles with the new team of Samantha Stosur and Nadia Petrova, seeded 3rd, taking on the duo of Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta.  For Stosur and Petrova, this is their second consecutive final, they were defeated two weeks ago in Indian Wells.  In 2006-07, Stosur won the championship with Lisa Raymond and in 2004 Petrova carried it with partner Megan Shaughnessy.  Petrova and Stosur have a combined 40 doubles titles. For Dulko and Pennetta, this is their initial final at the Sony Ericsson Open.  In addition, that tandem possesses a total of 15 trophies.  Again, because of their wealth of experience,  the 3rd seed have a distinct advantage.

Here is the order of play :

STADIUM start 1:00 PM
[16] T Berdych (CZE) vs [6] A Roddick (USA) – ATP SINGLES FINAL
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – WTA DOUBLES FINAL

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Electrifying Men Semis: Nadal vs. Roddick and Berdych vs. Soderling

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Electrifying Men Semis: Nadal vs. Roddick and Berdych vs. Soderling


The men play today at the Sony Ericsson Open for a spot in the finals. Moreover, both the afternoon and evening sessions have doubles semifinals.

In the first semifinal of the day, Andy Roddick battles Rafael Nadal.  Although Nadal has a 5-2 lead in their series, on hardcourt their record is tied. Tonight in the second semifinal, Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych play for a berth in the finals.  Soderling leads that match-up 4-2.

The ultimate ATP doubles space will be filled by either the 8th seed, Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, or the 4th seed, Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi.  In women’s doubles, 3rd seed Nadia Petrova and Samantha Stosur take on Jie Zheng and Yung-Jan
Chang.  The last match of the day features 4th seed Rennae Stubbs and Lisa Raymond versus Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta.

Here is today’s complete schedule :

FRIDAY, APRIL 2

STADIUM start 1:00 PM

[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [6] A Roddick (USA) – ATP
Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) vs [3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) – WTA
[4] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs [8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[16] T Berdych (CZE) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) or [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) vs G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – WTA

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing


For the second straight day at the Sony Ericsson Open, a highly ranked male seed went out in the second round.  World number three and defending champion, Andy Murray, was beaten by Mardy Fish 6-3,6-4 .  Although Roger Federer, the number one seed, was pushed by Nicolas Lapentti.  Federer still won comfortably 6-3, 6-3.

In the opening set, in a game in which Fish double faulted, Murray captured the break for 3-1.  However, the next game, Murray threw in a double fault on break point permitting Fish to get back on serve.  With Murray serving in the ninth game, Fish attained triple break point.  Despite Murray reaching deuce and game point, Fish would not be denied.  Mardy manufactured two more break point chances and converted.  Then, on the third asking, Fish closed out the first set.

Poor serving and a tentative return game were what Murray brought to the table; thus, Fish took full advantage.  The initial game of the second set, Murray double faulted handing Fish his second break point opportunity, the American converted.  After consolidating and widening his lead to 3-1, Fish cruised on serve.  However, in the eighth game, Fish faced a 15-40 deficit.  Once again, the serve was his ally.  By raining a few bombs, Fish extricated himself out of this jam and maintained a 5-3 lead.  After Murray held, serving out the match, Fish once more was down break point.  Still, Fish snuffed Murray’s advantage with his serve.  Subsequently, with a couple of aces and unreturnables, Fish sealed the win.

Murray spends a lot of time training in South Florida, so MiamiTennisNews wondered:
Q.  You know this court almost more than anyone else.  You practice here all the time.  What made the difference in today’s match?
MURRAY:  Well, Mardy served well when he needed to.  You know, especially the second set when he was down break points he served well.  But I just wasn’t very good today, and I’m going to need to get a lot better.

After Murray’s debacle, a love-30 start to Federer’s opening game and a break point the subsequent one by Lapentti were preoccupying.  Still, with a few good serves, Federer held to stay on serve.  For his part, Lapentti had no difficulty holding with back to back love games for 2 all.  After multiple errant forehands, with Lapentti serving at 4-5, Federer connected on a forehand up the winner for deuce.  Later, Federer provoked a backhand error by Lapentti resulting in break point.  Then, the world number one produced a stellar backhand down the line pass to go ahead 5-3.  Following, with an easy game, Federer slammed the door on the first set.

Lapentti revealed no signs of disappointment, starting the second set strongly in part aided by Federer having trouble finding his mark with the forehand.  Similarly, Federer continued to have routine service games.  The good thing for Federer was that when it mattered, his forehand showed up.  With Lapentti serving at 3 all, Federer obtained break point with a forehand up the line winner.  When Lapentti’s forehand sailed long, Federer had the crucial break.  After getting out of love-30 mess to consolidate, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Federer broke Lapentti to finish the match.

As anticipated, Robin Soderling, Marin Cilic, Fernando Gonzalez and Fernando Verdasco advanced, all in straight sets.  Seeds Mikhail Youzhny, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka, Juan Monaco, Jurgen Melzer, Marcos Baghdatis and Feliciano Lopez also  moved on without difficulty.  On the other hand, Alberto Montanes, the 26th seed, Gilles Simon, seeded 20th, and Janko Tipsarevic, the 31st seed, were ousted.

For the women, it was business as usual.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, the top seed, with a 6-2,6-3 win, sent Agnes Szavay home . Venus Williams said arrivederci to Roberta Vinci with a 6-1,6-4 victory.  Agnieszka Radwanska took care of Ana Ivanovic 7-5,7-5.  Both Yanina Wickmayer and Marion Bartoli only needed two sets to pass to the round of 16.  The night match between Daniela Hantuchova and Nadia Petrova was less stimulating than expected.  Hantuchova prevailed over Petrova 6-2,6-4.  Timea Bacsinszky had an easy time with Polona Hercog 6-2,6-2.  Her next round will be more challenging as she faces Wickmayer.

The shocker for the women came from the doubles field as the top seed Cara Black and Liezel Huber were defeated in the first round by Natalie Grandin and Abigail Spears.

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO


Second round play for the ATP concludes today at the Sony Ericsson Open with Roger Federer and Andy Murray from the top half of the draw the feature attraction.  On the women’s side, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams play for a spot in the round of 16.

Fernando Verdasco, the 10th seed, begins the proceedings on stadium court by taking on Dudi Sela.  That’s followed by Williams and Roberta Vinci, their first tour meeting.  Then, Murray, the 3rd seed and defending champion, starts his title defense by facing American Mardy Fish. Murray holds a 3-1 record versus Fish and has prevailed in their last three meetings.  The afternoon session finishes with Kuznetsova battling Agnes Szavay.  In 2007, Szavay reached her first WTA final in New Haven and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.  Both times, then 18 years old, Szavay’s dream run came to an end at the hands of Kuznetsova.  These two have not played since.  Therefore, this should be an intriguing battle.

On the outside courts, Ana Ivanovic attempts to knock out 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The latter defeated the former for the first time in Rome on clay last year.  With Ivanovic struggling with her game, Radwanska may run away with this one.  Marin Cilic, the male 7th seed, faces Stephane Robert. This is the initial encounter for these two.  With Cilic at the highest ranking of his career, it should be an uncomplicated match. Also, Robin Soderling, seeded 5th, squares off against Peter Luczak. Soderling won their only previous skirmish in 2005 in straight sets.

In the evening, Federer takes on Nicolas Lapentti.  With a 3-0 record against Lapentti, this should be no head-scratcher for the world number one.  The ladies’ night match-up is Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova. Petrova leads their head to head 4-1.

It’s men’s day at the grandstand where the must see players include Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis and Gilles Simon. In addition, Rafael Nadal and fellow Majorcan Bartolome Salva-Vidal clash with doubles second seed Mike and Bob Bryan.

Here is the complete schedule :

SATURDAY, MARCH 27

STADIUM start 11:00 am
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs M Fish (USA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA

Starting at 8:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs [LL] N Lapentti (ECU) – ATP
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
[WC] R Nadal (ESP) / B Salva-Vidal (ESP) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[20] G Simon (FRA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
A Petkovic (GER) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA
A Falla (COL) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
P Hercog (SLO) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
G Dulko (ARG) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[6] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) vs M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) – WTA

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs [WC] P Martic (CRO) – WTA
P Luczak (AUS) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
S Robert (FRA) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
T de Bakker (NED) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[31] J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs P Petzschner (GER) – ATP
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs J Knowle (AUT) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP
M Berrer (GER) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:30 PM
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs J Brunstrom (SWE) / J Rojer (AHO) – ATP
A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
T Garbin (ITA) / V Ruano Pascual (ESP) vs K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
F Serra (FRA) vs [26] A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) – ATP
B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) vs [5] L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT) – ATP

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
[1] C Black (ZIM) / L Huber (USA) vs N Grandin (RSA) / A Spears (USA) – WTA
M Damm (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs I Karlovic (CRO) / D Vemic (SRB) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) vs C Kas (GER) / D Norman (BEL) – ATP
I Senoglu (TUR) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami


In the second round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova was pushed to three sets by China’s Shuai Peng.  But, Kuznetsova, the top seed, averted an upset with a 6-2,3-6,6-4 win.

After dominating in the opening set, Kuznetsova was broken early in the second.  Despite numerous chances to get back on serve, Kuznetsova’s failed to capitalize because of an inconsistent forehand.  In the decisive third set, Kuznetsova obtained the early edge for a 3-1 lead.  However, with a strong forehand stroke causing the error by Kuznetsova then a superb return, Peng erased the break deficit.  Later on in the set, Kuznetsova captured the crucial break allowing her to seal the victory.

Subsequent to the match, MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  Seems like your forehand has been off lately.  What’s going on there?
Kuznetsova:  Actually, it’s good.  But just getting a little bit–I’m frustrated  because I’m not making, but I feel it good.

Q.  Do you fell more pressure after winning the French.  Are you putting more pressure on yourself?
Kuznetsova:  I don’t put pressure.  I just get disappointed when I’m not playing good enough.  That’s it.

Peng’s compatriot, Li Na, 2010 Australian semifinalist and 8th seed, was equally unlucky as Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky after multiple opportunities to win in straight sets, prevailed in a third set tiebreaker 6-4,4-6,7-6.  In other matches, Marion Bartoli, the 11th seed, had no problem with Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2,6-4 .  After losing the first set, Sabine Lisicki retired due to injury against Yaroslava Shvedova.

Andrea Petkovic bested 10th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3,3-6,6-0 .  Although her serve is still problematic, Ana Ivanovic came through in her match against Pauline Parmentier 6-4,6-3.  After a tricky initial set, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska cruised in the second set for a 7-5,6-0 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.  Surprisingly, Agnes Szavay squashed Alicia Molik 6-0, 6-0.

Once more this year, Gisela Dulko ousted a seeded player, this time she victimized Alona Bondarenko 7-5,6-2.  Up and coming Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai had her tournament cut short as the 18th seed went down to 19 year old wildcard Petra Martic.  30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues and 31st seed Aleksandra Wozniak fell to Roberta Vinci and Polona Hercog respectively. Yanina Wickmayer, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Roberta Vinci are through to the third round.

In the night session, meeting for the first time, Venus Williams battled Sorana Cirstea.  Down love-40, Venus double faulted at 2 all to give Cirstea the break.  Serving at 4-3, Cirstea netted a backhand hand digging herself a triple break point hole.  Venus converted when Cirstea committed another backhand mistake.  Then, Williams broke a second time at love to carry the first set.

Again in the second set, Cirstea drew first blood.  With a blazing return, Cirstea set up triple break point and capitalized by forcing Venus to push her forehand long.  However, the next game, Venus leveled the set at 2 a piece.  Later, after erasing break point, Williams obtained a third break point with a backhand miscue by Cirstea.  Venus secured the break for 5-3 when Sorana dumped a forehand into the net.  With an easy hold, Venus closed out the match 6-4, 6-3.

Yesterday, the ATP first round matches were also completed with lucky loser Nicolas Lapentti reaching the second round joined by Juan Ignacio Chela, Dudi Sela, Thiemo De Bakker, Michael Berrer, Philipp Petzschner and Kevin Anderson.  Mardy Fish was the only male American to advance yesterday as Ryan Sweeting, Rajeev Ram were both eliminated.

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25


The women take center stage on Day 2 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open.  Top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova headlines the day session.  Other notable names in action include Ana Ivanovic, Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta, Na Li, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli.  Kim Clijsters will take to the court in doubles partnering with fellow countrywoman Kirsten Flipkens.  The night session will be headlined by Venus Williams who will face Sorana Cirstea.

On the men’s side, Andreas Seppi, Juan Ignacio Chela, Nicolas Massu, Kevin Anderson and Americans Ryan Sweeting and Rajeev Ram will be in action. In the night session, Mardy Fish will take on Leonardo Mayer.

Here is the complete order of play for Thursday :

STADIUM start 11:00 am
E Makarova (RUS) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [Q] P Parmentier (FRA) – WTA
[LL] N Lapentti (ECU) vs P Starace (ITA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
M Fish (USA) vs L Mayer (ARG) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
H Zeballos (ARG) vs A Seppi (ITA) – ATP
P Lorenzi (ITA) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
P Petzschner (GER) vs [Q] R Sweeting (USA) – ATP
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [LL] M Daniel (BRA) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
[WC] P Martic (CRO) vs [18] A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
K Date Krumm (JPN) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs P Schnyder (SUI) – WTA
[10] F Pennetta (ITA) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs S Errani (ITA) / S Peer (ISR) – WTA

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
V Hanescu (ROU) vs A Falla (COL) – ATP
E Korolev (KAZ) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:30 PM
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs I Benesova (CZE) or [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) – WTA
R Ram (USA) vs T de Bakker (NED) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] Y Wickmayer (BEL) / V Zvonareva (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [23] S Lisicki (GER) – WTA
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs S Borwell (GBR) / R Kops-Jones (USA) – WTA
T Bacsinszky (SUI) or [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
A Amanmuradova (UZB) / D Kustova (BLR) vs Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
L Lacko (SVK) vs M Berrer (GER) – ATP
F Fognini (ITA) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP
[Q] N Massu (CHI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
R Vinci (ITA) vs [30] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
O Govortsova (BLR) / A Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs T Poutchek (BLR) / A Rosolska (POL) – WTA
[31] A Wozniak (CAN) vs P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[WC] A Molik (AUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA
[21] A Bondarenko (UKR) vs G Dulko (ARG) – WTA
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs I Benesova (CZE) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
P Luczak (AUS) vs O Hernandez (ESP) – ATP
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs [Q] R Mello (BRA) – ATP
S Robert (FRA) vs A Beck (GER) – ATP
A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Hradecka (CZE) vs [2] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
K Jans (POL) / V Uhlirova (CZE) vs [7] C Chuang (TPE) / S Hsieh (TPE) – WTA

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap

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WTA Aussie Open Mid Tournament Recap


img_3627_jhAfter eight days, the Australian Open field has been narrowed.  Here’s a synopsis of the early round stumbles, near misses and a crack at determining a champion.

Maria Kirilenko rocked Rod Laver Arena with a first day, first round, first match upset of 14th seed Maria Sharapova.  With a suspect serve, will and grit could not pull Sharapova through her first competitive match of the season.  Not resting on her laurels, Kirilenko progressed to the round of 16 where she received an early Easter gift from Dinara Safina.  Nine games into the first set, Safina threw in the towel because of a back injury.  As a result, Kirilenko reaches her initial major quarterfinal and will play Jie Zheng, the 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist.  Zheng ousted 11th seed Marion Bartoli in the third round, then took care of Alona Bondarenko. Now, one of these women has the opportunity to advance to her first Aussie Open semifinal.

Waiting in the wing for Kirilenko and Zheng is perhaps Justine Henin.  The 2004 Australian champion had to work tirelessly to book a quarterfinal spot.  Henin’s second round meeting with Elena Dementieva lived up to the hype with top-notch groundstrokes by both players.  Upon surviving that encounter, Henin came close to saying cheerio in the third round.  Alisa Kleybenova demanded  Henin’s best before going down in three sets.  A similar performance was required by Henin in the round of 16 with U.S. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer proving a tough kill.  Again, Henin needed to go the distance to seal the win and a date with Nadia Petrova in the quarters.

Petrova was probably regarded as the Russian least likely to succeed at the start of the Open.  However, after dismantling U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters in the third round and ushering out French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in round four, Petrova is no doubt a formidable adversary. Therefore, if Petrova continues along the same lines, Henin may be in for a colossal surprise.

Defending champion Serena Williams has been impressive in marching to the round of 16.  Serena has yet to drop serve nor a set.  Her toughest test will be Aussie hopeful Sam Stosur in the upcoming round.  With a big serve and a win over Serena in Stanford last year, Stosur has the tools to upstage the world number one.

Read the full story

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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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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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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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