Tag Archive | "Szavay"

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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Petra Kvitova: A Promising Prospect

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Petra Kvitova: A Promising Prospect


The following article was authored by MiamiTennisNews.com and appeared on the pages of OnTheBaseline.com as part of their “2010 Players to Watch” series.  It is being republished on MiamiTennisNews.com with permission from OnTheBaseline.com.

players_to_watch_480x250-10Whilst the two consonants comprising the introduction of her surname may be a source of consternation as to its pronunciation, in Petra Kvitova‘s case, this will shortly be an aberration. In light of this teenager’s memorable accomplishments in 2009, it is safe to assume that her name will be fluidly rolling off tennis fans’ tongues for the foreseeable future.

Hailing from the Czech Republic, earlier this year, at the age of 18, Kvitova bagged her maiden Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title in Hobart by defeating compatriot and seasoned rival Iveta Benesova. With that victory, Kvitova cracked the top 40 for the first time. Weeks later though at the Australian Open, Kvitova had the misfortune of drawing 14th ranked phenom Victoria Azarenka in the opening round and made a prompt departure.

Still, Kvitova redeemed herself at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. Facing the 2008 finalist Spain, Kvitova got her team off to a magnificent start by beating Carla Suarez Navarro, a recent quarterfinalist in Australia. Then, with a euphoric stadium cheering her on, the youngster bested Nuria Llagostera Vives to secure the Czech Republic’s semifinal berth. However, in April, after winning the initial rubber versus American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Kvitova ran into a glitch. Alexa Glatch routed her in two sets. Ultimately, the U.S advanced to the finals.

Mid year, Kvitova struggled with an ankle injury which kept her out of Roland Garros and contributed to a series of early losses including Wimbledon. Kvitova’s ranking dipped to 69. Attempting to get match fit, Kvitova played an ITF tournament in August only to be ousted in the first round by a lesser opponent. Days following though at the U.S Open, Kvitova showed that she indeed possesses the tools that will make her a prime contender.

With time constraints moving play from Ashe to Armstrong stadium, Kvitova ranked 72nd had the night of her burgeoning career. Using her six foot frame to serve effectively and her most potent stroke, her forehand, Kvitova saved three match points against Dinara Safina. Kvitova prevailed in a compelling third set tiebreaker, shocking the world number one in the third round. Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 Australian Open finalist, was once asked the secret to his potent forehand, he replied in essence fearlessness. At the Open, Petra demonstrated that her forehand will be feared by her adversaries for some time to come.

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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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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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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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Life After Wimbledon: The Latest News from The ATP and WTA


In case you were wondering, after two amazing weeks of play at the All England Club, tennis does go on. Although several of the top players are taking a well-deserved rest, here are the most recent results from the women and men’s tours.

In Stuggart Germany, a clay court event, 19-year-old Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro beat second seed Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-5 in the finals at Mercedes Cup in order to win his first ATP title. Along with a nice paycheck, Del Potro received a spanking new Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 convertible. Ah tennis, nice work if you can get it! Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament because of a right knee problem suffered during his grueling fortnight at Wimbledon.

Two other tournaments were taking place in Europe, also on clay. At the Allianz Suisse Open in Gstaad, Romanian Victor Hanescu defeated Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4 in the finals. Hanescu prevailed over top seed and favorite son Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals. In Sweden, Spaniard Tommy Robredo disposed of Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1 to claim the title at the Catella Swedish Open in Bastad; Tommy’s first trophy this year. Robredo eliminated defending champion and number one seed David Ferrer in the semifinals.

Grass was the surface in play at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Second seed Fabrice Santoro vanquished over wildcard finalist Prakash Amritraj 6-3, 7-5 to win his second consecutive title. Americans Mardy Fish and John Isner took the doubles prize.

For the women, it was back to the clay and a week of first for the eventual winners. At the Gaz de France, a tier III tournament in Budapest Hungary, France’s Alize Cornet, seeded second, defeated Slovenia’s Andreja Klepac 7-6, 6-3 to seize her first WTA title. Klepac ousted local sensation and number one seed, Agnes Szavay, in the second round on her way to the finals. Later in the day, Cornet along with partner Janette Husarova of Slovakia went on to take the doubles title. At the Internazionali Femminili Di Tennis in Palermo Italy, a tier IV event, Italian Sara Errani became a first time titlist on the WTA tour. Errani advanced after countrywoman and top seed Flavia Pennetta retired in the semifinals. In the finals, Errani squashed Ukrainian Mariya Koryttseva 6-2, 6-3. Like Cornet, Errani also captured the doubles trophy with teammate Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain.

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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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2007 WTA Year End Review


Sadly tennis enthusiasts, the time has come to bid adieu to the 2007 season, but fear not, the hiatus will be brief. Soon enough, the courts will be ablaze with the shrilling grunts of Maria Sharapova, the artistry of Roger Federer and the mercurial ever-flamboyant fashions of Serena and Venus Williams. Prior to foretelling what 2008 may unwrap, let’s take a moment to reflect on the marquee events which shaped tennis this past year.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams started 2007 in grand fashion by winning the calendar’s first major. Serena, who had been sidelined for most of 2006 by a myriad of injuries, was unseated when the 2007 Australian Open started; consequently, she was the dark horse of the tournament. Serena not only reached the finals, but also comprehensively beat a befuddled Sharapova. Who can forget Oracene Williams’s advice to her daughter “ get out of Melbourne”, referring to the painted sign on the court where Serena had been camping out, pushing her too far off the baseline. Well, Serena followed her mother’s pointer and got out of Melbourne, but not before snatching the coveted Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. At another prestigious venue, the Ericsson Open, Serena again demonstrated her tenacity coming back from a bagel lost in the first set and fought off two championship points by her opponent to win the tournament against a relentless foe in Justine Henin. Although the year started out with a sizzle, it would end with a fizzle with Serena losing consecutive quarterfinal matches against Henin at each subsequent major tournament. Once more, Serena’s last few months on tour were racked by injuries leading to her withdraw from the season ending tournament in Spain.

After a tumultuous start to her year, with the turmoil in her personal life (the dissolution her marriage) and being forced to skip the Australian Open where she had been a finalist in 2006, Justine Henin had undisputedly her best season on tour. Henin won 10 of 11 finals including her third straight French Open while participating in only 14 events. The sign that Henin is human came at Wimbledon where she lost to a French player in the semifinals, not Amelie Mauresmo, but relatively unknown, Marion Bartoli, whom Venus Williams summarily defeated in the next round to claim the Venus Rosewater dish. Therefore, as Rafa Nadal seems to be Federer’s handicap on the clay in Paris, in 2008, it will be interesting to see if the All England grass and the French women continue to be Henin’s kryptonite.

In a run reminiscent of 2005, Venus worked out the rust in her game to make Wimbledon the highlight of her year. Fit and focused, Venus showed the brilliance that can illuminate her game toppling three top ranked opponents to capture the cup with her namesake. Venus continued to excel the remainder of the season although she had to cede her place at the season ending championship tournament to Sharapova because of illness. The Russian diva took full advantage of the gift by making it to the finals in Madrid where she gave Henin a run for the money prior to falling in a thrilling three setter rescuing a par year plagued by a sleuth of health problems. Thus, it remains to be seen whether in 2008 the Siberian ice queen’s game will continue to heat up or will need to be rescued from the frozen tundra once more.

2007 will be remembered as the year which propelled a small nation called Serbia into the tennis spotlight and one woman in particular Ana Ivanovic. The teenage phenom heralded her arrival with her phenomenal play at the French Open culminating with an appearance in the finals prior to collapsing under the weight of the occasion by losing to Henin. With a blistering forehand, Ivanovic will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season; the question that will need to be answered is whether fellow countrywoman Jelena Jankovic will also be a factor.

A woman’s right to choose saw the exit of a champion and return of another for contrasting reasons. Kim Clijsters decided that after winning one major trophy, she had her fill. For Kim, it was time to move on to marriage and children. While Lindsay Davenport returned to the court after the birth of her son hoping that there is still life in her career. Moreover, the 2007 sports season will be recalled as the year marred by drugs from steroids use in baseball to the career-ending shocker whereby Martina Hingis abruptly retired disputing the outcome of positive cocaine on a drug screen at Wimbledon.

Since this is a locally slanted outlet, I would be remised if I did not mention Ahsha Rolle and her exceptional performance at the U.S. Open. After earning a spot as a wildcard, the 109 ranked Rolle became the buzz of the tournament after her opening round victory over the 17 seeded and talented star Tatiana Golovin. The bee from Miami would have the best showing of her career to date in a major making it to the third round where she was ousted by Danira Safina. I was fortunate enough to attend one of Ahsha’s matches, in my opinion, a major weakness in her game is her one-dimensional backhand; she constantly slices it back. If Rolle is to have continued success on the circuit, she will need to develop more sting and variety to her backhand.

Considering the horde of new comers who impacted the game in 2007 and with so many youngsters doing particularly well at the final major of the year defeating experienced players to make it past the fourth round, the upcoming season promises to be gripping. In my viewpoint, the newcomer to watch will be Agnes Szavay from Hungary. Szavay looked impressive on the hardcourt making it to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open after being a finalist the previous week in New Haven where she was forced to retire against the #1 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova due to a back injury. With the surface change in Australia to reflect more of a hardcourt feel, I predict that she will be poised for another great run there. Overall, the young guns from the Soviet Union and the former Eastern Block look ready to make an even greater mark on the game this coming year. On the other hand, Henin appears to have taken a liking to the #1 spot; therefore, everyone will be vying to dethrone her. At times, the psychological part of her game has proven to be her weakness, thus, along with skill, mental fortitude will be the key to the opponent’s ability to dismantle her game. A player who does possess these weapons in her arsenal is Lindsay Davenport; I anticipate that with her return Henin and the Williams sisters will be breathing a little tighter.

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