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Jankovic Pelts Petrova In Germany To Ascent Back To Number One

At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final, a tier II contest, Serbian Jelena Jankovic clashed with Russian Nadia Petrova currently ranked 18 but formerly as high as number 3. Jankovic’s steadiness from the backcourt unnerved Petrova who ultimately fell 6-4, 6-3.

Jankovic began the match by breaking when Petrova missed a backhand volley. Then, the Serb fought off a couple of break points by getting the Russian to make some unforced errors for a 2-0 lead. With her big serve, Petrova kept the first serve within reach. But her primary nemesis continued to be the unforced errors; this cost Petrova a break point in the fourth game. On the other hand, Jankovic whose weakest stroke is undisputedly the serve, delivered a couple of aces to stretch her advantage to 4-2 and connected on another to lock away the first set.

Nadia started the second set behind the curve by missing a swinging volley and a backhand shot to give Jelena the early break. Petrova attempted to get back by stringing together a couple of winners for love-30, eventually getting a break point. Yet again, with successive unforced errors, Nadia lost the game. After a strong service game at 2-3, with an outright service return winner, Petrova got another break point which she converted when Jankovic at last made an unforced error. However, Nadia’s elation was brief; a miscue on the forehand and a backhand down the line winner by her opponent gave Jelena double break point. Subsequently, Jankovic kept herself in a long rally with a splendid defensive shot resulting in the error from Petrova. Thus, Jankovic was back on top 4-3. Serving at 3-5 to prolong the match, Petrova faced triple match point after she misstruck a forehand volley, made a crosscourt forehand error and Jankovic produced another backhand down the line winner. Then, Petrova netted a forehand to allow Jankovic to claim the set.

For Jankovic, Christmas came early. By Serena Williams losing in the second round to China’s Na Li, Jankovic reclaimed the number one ranking which she had held for just a week a few months ago despite not having a major trophy to her name. Another perk was that Jelena had her choice of a red Porsche convertible versus a $100,000 paycheck.

Turning to the doubles final, wildcard entrant and nascent team of German Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Swiss Patty Schynder defeated top seed Australian Rennae Stubbs and Czech Kveta Peschke 6-2, 6-4.

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Wimbledon 2008: A Preview Of The Singles’ Draw

Once again, the Wimbledon seeding committee has upset the apple cart by utilizing its prerogative of not formulating the draw according to rankings. It is the only major that does not always abide by the rankings.

Thus, on the gentlemen’s side, Richard Gasquet currently the world number nine has been seeded ahead of James Blake ranked number eight. This is far from a minor detail. Gasquet’s semifinal finish last year probably influenced that decision, but his performance so far this year has been disastrous. For Blake, the implications are huge. Instead of meeting Andy Roddick seeded sixth in the semifinals, the two could potentially clash in the round of 16.

Marcos Baghdatis also reaped the fruits of his quarterfinal showing last year. Now ranked 25, Baghdatis is seeded tenth. Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka, world number ten, in spite of his excellent season has been bumped to the number thirteen slot. Otherwise, the top seven players were seeded as expected.

For world number one Roger Federer, the road to the finals is paved with stones. In the first round, Federer faces former top ten player, Dominik Hrbaty. From there, things get more complex with Lleyton Hewitt, Fernando Gonzalez and possibly Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. For Rafael Nadal, it is harder to isolate potential pitfalls. Nadal recently beat Roddick on grass who is also on his side of the draw. Perhaps if Blake makes it to the semifinals, this may be problematic for Nadal considering that Blake leads him 3-2 in their head to head but they’ve always met on hardcourt.

The ladies’ seeding followed the rankings. Analyzing the top half of the draw, Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams should technically make it to the semifinals. For Ivanovic, speed bumps could include Patty Schnyder, Nicole Vaidosova and Agnes Szavay. On the other hand, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Agnieszka Radwanska may prevent Serena from getting to her projected engagement with Ivanovic. Defending champion Venus Williams’ journey to the trophy will be tough with Jelena Jankovic, Vera Zvonerava or Flavia Pennetta standing in her way in the quarterfinals. While Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina or Elena Dementieva may be semifinal obstacles for Venus. Similarly for Sharapova, her side of the draw is stacked with fellow Russians such Safina, Dementieva or Petrova who may stop her from advancing.

So, there is a lot to contemplate as we look ahead to next couple of weeks. On the women’s side, the draw appears wide open. Past major champions may have the edge because of their experience. With the gentlemen, considering that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic with their talent have distanced themselves so much from the rest of the field, it is hard to foresee another player as having even a marginal shot at the trophy. The question to be answered is whether this will be Federer’s sixth consecutive title or whether Nadal or Djokovic will manage to snatch it from Federer’s grasp.

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