Tag Archive | "US Open"

Roddick Meets The Press In D.C.

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Roddick Meets The Press In D.C.


img_9890After a prolong absence due to injury, Andy Roddick returns to competitive play at the Legg Mason Classic.  The three time champion at this ATP 500 event held a news conference this afternoon.  As expected, there were a flurry of questions regarding his disappointing lost at Wimbledon.  But the feeling was that Roddick is ready to move to a new chapter and that is his U.S. Open  campaign.

First off, Roddick made it clear that he has recuperated from the hip injury and does not view it as an issue in the upcoming weeks. Roddick cited that with his being off the court for a few weeks that he ” doesn’t expect to pick up where [he] left off a month ago”.  For him, it will be a step by step process with the intention of peaking at the last major of the year.  Regardless, Andy would like to get into the winning column again and to take it from there.

Turning to Wimbledon, for Roddick, it’s difficult to compartmentalize Wimbledon from the rest of year, in part because the media have been fixated on that.  However, Andy iterated that Wimbledon in essence was the reaping of the hard work that he put in all year.   This has been evident with the results he has posted since January. With Wimbledon, “I don’t know if I gained confidence from that [final].. Although it does help”, Andy emphasized that it has been “building all year”.

Contrary to what people might think, Roddick does not focus on the backhand volley that he missed since it was a lot harder than it appeared:  “I thought it was going long, and reacted late.. It wasn’t like I was trying to hit a ball to the ocean from the beach and missed.  To be honest, I have not thought about it that much. . .  [The defeat was]  yep heartbreaking, at the same time, not a lot of people get to play for that title. . . That part is never lost on me.  Ten seconds after the final I still realized that it’s pretty special thing”. Although Andy admits ” it hurts losing after two weeks of hard work, knowing that your defeat came at the hand of a player that will probably go down as the best ever, it does help”.  When asked if he would like to face Federer again, Roddick responded in the affirmative since it would mean that he is deep into the draw. Yet,  Roddick’s approach is not to look too far ahead.

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Keep Plugging Away Andy, You’ll Get There

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Keep Plugging Away Andy, You’ll Get There


img_3407After Roger Federer’s gut wrenching loss in the Wimbledon final last year, I felt obligated to impart on him some words of wisdom. This year, Andy Roddick was the one to draw the short straw in one of the most mesmerizing major matches ever.  Deluded as it may seem, I would like to believe that my advice has contributed in some minute form to the success that Federer has been basking in of late.  Considering that Roddick is a compatriot, I feel bound to take a crack at pushing him in the right direction.

Andy,

I hope you don’t regard it as disrespectful the liberty that I am taking in referring to you on a first name basis.   After all, I have followed your career for many years and for that reason I feel a kinship on some level. I must confess though that through your nine years on the ATP, our relationship has been tepid.  After making a big splash at U.S. Open in 2003, your results at the majors have been spastic. Disappointments after disappointments have caused me with time to consider you, as the Spanish maxim goes, ‘as a zero to the left’. From my viewpoint, a revolving door of coaches indicated that  you were unwilling to listen to the counsel of others.  As such, this left me doubting as to your capability of ever becoming champion at a major. Your performance a couple of weeks back at Wimbledon demonstrated your desire to succeed is still great and it not only reenergized your fans but gained you some new ones.

Effort has never been one of your faults.   Although in the past, your game has lacked focus.  In hiring Larry Stefanki and heeding his advice, you have retooled your game and developed other weapons to back up your powerful serve. Your forehand has always been solid and your play at net adequate.  However, by strengthening and reinventing your backhand  crosscourt and down the line, some of your strokes were purely sublime, you showed that your game can still evolve.  More importantly, you revealed in the finals that you are a thinker on the court in choosing the most intelligent shots.  You took risks when the situation warranted it, while restraining yourself. In the past panic may have ambushed your decision making.  Federer may have gained his record 15th major, but you gave him a fight to remember.

Complements at this time may appear hollow and shallow since you don’t have the Wimbledon trophy on your mantle. Whilst, it may be healthy to reflect on what could have been, the worse thing you can do is dwell.  For many seasons, you have walked through the draw with others expecting very little from you.  I would like to think that in the long run, this match will leave a positive influence.  As such, perhaps, the sanest approach is to regard this year as one of rehabilitation.  So keep working at it Andy, your major will come.

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A Gem In The Magic City: Miami’s Sony Ericsson Open

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A Gem In The Magic City: Miami’s Sony Ericsson Open


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Written on May 2, 2008

Since 2000, schedule permitting, I have been a faithful and fervent attendee at my hometown tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida. Yet, as a devout tennis fanatic, my wish has always been to make a pilgrimage to one of the shrines of the sport, a major.

In my mind, there has always been the perception that I was being deprived of an ecclesiastical experience by not going to New York, London, Paris or Melbourne. As luck would have it, in 2006 and 2007, I ascended from the category of lowly television viewer to that of obscured spectator when I was finally able to drink in the atmosphere at the U.S Open. After spending five days at the opening round matches in New York the last couple of years and a week at this year’s Sony Ericsson, I began to view the latter through a new lens. As I surveyed the familiar vista at Crandon Park, the prism through which I evaluated the tournament was suddenly lifted. Moreover, I arrived at the realization that the Sony Ericsson Open is truly a jewel in my own backyard.

Manhattan’s bright lights and vibrant streets are comparable to an impish, unruly child with the magnetic powers to draw one in with a cunning smile. A similar attraction lures one in at the U.S. Open. On the subway, I was overcome by a wave of exhilaration from the chatter of the passengers whose destination, just as mine, was the major’s site. As the train approached the tennis center and the Arthur Ashe stadium came into view, a touch of awe and anxiety intermingled as I became conscious of the magnitude of the place. These sentiments were further accentuated as the grounds crew greeted me with their megaphones shouting instructions such as, “no backpacks allowed into the stadium”. Or as I filed through the long security lines that stretch for miles and saw my precious can of juice seized since opaque containers were prohibited entry. The shear volume of people, over 700,000 attended the tournament in 2007, and the additional security measures implemented after the catastrophic incident at the Twin Towers signify that one has to be willing to tolerate these inconveniences in order to experience the U.S. Open.

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Quiet On The Court Please

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Quiet On The Court Please


img_1680If I were to pen a riddle about this topic it would go something like this: what sound is a sign of severe respiratory distress in a child or preparation for speech in babies, yet is a source of annoyance to spectators viewing a tennis match? If you were to guess grunting, you would be on the ball.

One would have to be deaf not to have noticed that the courts on the WTA circuit are somewhat quieter the last few months. This is due to the conspicuous absence of Maria Sharapova. The Siberian diva and her signature ear-piercing grunt have been sidelined for the rest of the season by a shoulder injury. Although Sharapova is an extreme and expert poster child for that note, the men are not immune. Rafael Nadal seems to have taken lessons from some of the great Spanish tenors. Nowadays, grunting has become commonplace on tour. Just like voices, the sound varies in intensity and cadence. Undoubtedly, the player who opened the laryngeal gates and brought grunting into the spotlight was Serbian Monica Seles. This tone turned out to be such a distraction that at the 1992 Wimbledon finals, Seles was asked to keep the decibel down which may have thrown off her rhythm and cost her the match against Steffi Graff. Perhaps, Seles’ inability to vocalize may have dampened the weight of her shots. After all, tennis players are creatures of habit and a bit superstitious.

Facing Andre Agassi in the 1982 semifinal at the U.S Open, Czech Ivan Lendl cited that his opponent’s grunting was a mental distraction particularly considering it had never been an issue he had previously encountered. Luckily, Lendl was able to focus enough and win the match. Although athletes are famous for their powers of concentration, it is hard to fathom how a noise which can seem as loud as a subway train is not a disturbance. Therefore, it leaves one to wonder whether all this ruckus is really necessary.

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Down But Never Out: Federer Grabs Last Major Of The Year


Saturday’s rain postponed the U.S. Open final between Roger Federer and Britain’s Andy Murray until today. But, Federer, the former world number one, did not permit this first time finalist to rain on his parade. Federer swiftly handled the Brit in straight sets 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to capture his only major of 2008.

The first set was a throwback to the Federer of old. His first game was a walk in the park, Federer held at love. Despite being flustered, Murray initially kept up with beautiful passing shots and good serves 1-1. After a forehand error, Andy faced his first break point and was bailed out by a backhand error from Roger 2-2. But in the crucial sixth game, Murray had a double fault and two unforced errors including on his best shot, the backhand, to allow Federer to lead 4-2. Federer then took command, breaking Murray after another backhand error to close the set 6-2.

Federer got off to a fast start in the second set converting a break point with a beautiful angled forehand winner 2-0. Murray’s initial majors final seemed to be destined for a quick finish. But, the Brit broke right back at love when Federer strung three straight unforced errors and offered a weak second serve for which Murray made him pay. Uncharacteristically, Federer made two forehand miscues and netted a volley to go down triple break point again. After erasing the first break point, Federer hit a stroke which appeared long but was erroneously called in by the line judge. Murray continued to play and ultimately lost the point and the game. Nevertheless, Murray overcame his misfortune and held easily for 3-3. Murray had another 15-30 opening on Federer’s serve but despite hitting only 48% of his first serves in the set, Federer escaped 4-3. As Federer’s unforced errors stacked up, Murray managed to hold serve comfortably. Yet, with Murray serving at 5-6, Federer produced three consecutive winners for triple set point, then guided a forehand down the line for a winner 7-5.

Amped up, Federer took charge in the third set, breaking Murray at love twice for 4-0. After getting on the board at 1-5, Murray produced a crosscourt forehand winner for a break point which he then converted 5-2. However, Federer flicked a backhand crosscourt which drew the error from Murray giving Roger his second match point. After getting back in play two overhead smashes, a resistant Murray finally conceded when his forehand hit the net. Federer becomes the first player since Bill Tilden in 1924 to win five straight U.S. Open titles.

Murray, a former juniors’ champion, seems to be a natural on hardcourt. His ranking will be bolstered from 6 to 4. Murray’s sluggish start may have been attributable to his being a novice at a majors’ final and having played a mentally grueling match in semifinals against world number one, Rafael Nadal. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Open, there was a parade of champions on opening night. As Federer crossed the stage, the song “Your Still The One” was performed. Maybe, it was kismet.

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At The Summit Once Again: Serena Williams Victorious At The U.S. Open


The U.S. Open women’s final was a rematch of the 2008 Sony Ericsson final with Serbian Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams as the two protagonists. This time, both a majors’ trophy and the number one ranking were at stake. Once more, Williams triumphed defeating Jankovic 6-4, 7-5.

One of the best women’s final played on Ashe in many years was made more intriguing by the players’ contrasting personalities, Jelena jovial as always while Serena focused and intense. Moreover, this match was a case of hustle versus muscle with Jelena attempting to counter Serena’s overpowering groundstrokes with her superb defensive skills.

Although this was Jankovic’s first appearance in a majors’ final, the butterflies appeared to rest on her seasoned opponent’s corner. Williams’ opening service game, which initially looked routine at 40-15, got more complicated. But, Serena held after three deuces. On Williams’ subsequent service game, three consecutive unforced errors resulted in Jankovic taking a 2-1 lead. Shortly after though, Serena returned the favor, equalizing things at 2-2 in a game where Jelena had 40-love advantage. Then, a double fault presented Serena with another break point opportunity and with a forehand winner, Williams went ahead 4-2. Yet, as Serena served for the set, a rash of unforced errors gave Jankovic triple break point and with Williams’ sliced forehand finding the net, the players were back on serve. Nonetheless, the very next game Williams earned triple break point and wrapped up the first set.

After comfortably holding serve to start the second set, Serena’s double break chance evaporated courtesy of unforced errors in a series of eternal rallies. Jelena’s money shot, the backhand down the line, rescued her on multiple occasions while Serena’s ace in the hole throughout was her serve. In the sixth game, Serena had another opportunity to creep ahead with double break point. Again, Jelena erased that possibility 3-3. Serving at 40-15, Williams played a ball she believed the line judge should have called long. Serena voiced her objection to the umpire. The chair used video to review which proved the line judge was indeed right. Rattled a bit, Williams ended up losing her serve. Serving at 3-5, despite making three poor shot selections and facing triple break point, Serena managed to hold putting the pressure on Jelena to serve out the set. Perhaps still ruminating over missed opportunities, Jelena misjudged an overhead, double faulted and with a forehand winner from Serena stared herself at triple break point. Eventually, Serena connected to level the set at 5 all. With her net play on cue, Williams made a stab volley to win the game and then celebrated with a roar in response to Jelena’s gripe that she took too long between points. Pumped up, Serena attacked Jankovic’s serve which paid off. Gifted match point number two with a double fault, Williams converted to obtain her third U.S Open title.

Williams, in supreme form, did not drop a set the entire tournament. Serena regains the number one ranking, a post she last held between July 2002 and August 2003 for 57 consecutive weeks.  Earlier that day, top ranked doubles team Cara Black and Liezel Huber captured their first U.S Open title by defeating Samantha Stosur and Lisa Raymond in straight sets 6-3, 7-6

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“It’s Showtime”: U.S. Open Draw Announced Today


The U.S. Open draws have been posted with Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic the top singles seeds on the men and women’s side respectively.

Nadal should sail through to the quarterfinals where one possible tricky match up could be Argentine David Nalbandian. Despite a disappointing year, Nalbandian has always been dangerous on a hardcourt. Another David, countryman Ferrer who eliminated Rafa in the round of 16 last year may be a nuisance, although Nadal is not the same player. Yet, perhaps, the most dangerous potential opponent is Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro who has been blazing the last few weeks. If Del Potro continues to ride this wave, Nadal could be in trouble in the semifinals. Great Britain’s Andy Murray may have a lot to say in the matter, Del Potro and he could face off in the quarters.

Czech Radek Stepanek who beat him at the ATP Masters in Rome could test second seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the third round. Moreover, Serbian Jarko Tipsaravic who almost defeated Federer in Australia could be a potential quarterfinal challenge. But another Serbian 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic may be Federer’s biggest obstacle as the two may end up clashing in the semifinals. Djokovic has been stumbling of late but his draw looks manageable particularly with a struggling Andy Roddick as a possible opponent in the quarterfinals.

For Ivanovic, the task appears doable until the quarterfinals where she could meet Russian Dinara Safina who’s surely out for revenge after the French Open. Ivanovic’s thumb injury may be factor in the tournament. No possible Williams sisters finals, these two are on the same side of the draw and could clash in the quarterfinals. Moreover, both have intricate first round matches. Standing in the way of Serbian Jelena Jankovic could be China’s Jie Zheng in the third round or Russian Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals. The Russians are blessed with many contenders for the trophy. The road to the semifinals for Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova may mean motoring through one another. So it may not be a question of which country but which Russian will hoist the trophy, in my opinion, Safina has to be the favorite.

Miami native Ahsha Rolle is a wildcard entrant. Click here to access all of the draws for the 2008 US Open.

 

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Top Ten Matches Of 2007


As 2007 draws to a close, the staff at MiamiTennisBlog.com would like to pay tribute to what we feel were the preeminent matches of the year. On the men’s side, the picks have been limited to five setters because undoubtedly, they were the most compelling.

#10 Maria Sharapova versus Justine Henin, Finals WTA Championships

After making the cut once Venus Williams pulled out due to injury, Maria whose serve had been affected all year by a shoulder problem, appeared to have regained her past championship form impressively dismissing higher ranked opponents to reach the finals. In a hotly contested match lasting 3-hours and 24-minute, Sharapova demonstrated she had “game” by winning the first set 7-5 and pushing Henin in the second set prior to loosing it 7-5. The contest came down to a final third set which was fiercely disputed, but Henin prevailed 6-3.

#9 Serena Williams Versus Justine Henin, Wimbledon Quarterfinals

After the drama of the previous round where she won despite a calf injury, Serena continued to battle against her archrival, Henin, taking the match to an ultimate set after loosing the first. Regrettably, Serena was not a 100-percent physically and went down 6-3 in the third. For her courage and effort, we must tip our hat to Serena.

#8 Robin Soderling versus Rafael Nadal, Third Round Wimbledon

Here are just a few reasons why this was a memorable match: 1) bad weather resulted in play spanning the course of four days. 2) Theatrics were the order of the day, when Robin decided that Rafa’s habit of constantly picking at his shorts between points was worthy of mimicry. And 3) this ended up being a five set marathon with great shots being made from both ends of the court. Nadal’s experience and physical strength were keys in aiding him to come out on top 7-5 in the fifth. It is doubtful that Robin and Rafa will be going out for drinks anytime soon.

#7 Carlos Moya versus Tim Henman, First Round Wimbledon

In his farewell Wimbledon match, Tiger Tim had fans atop “Henman Hill” on pins and needles with another five set nail-biter. The last set was dead even at 5-5 when play was suspended due to lightning. When Henman returned, he electrified the crowd with sensational shots and won 13-11 in the fifth. Sadly, the joy of his British compatriots would be short-lived as in the second round Henman would be defeated by another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez. Anxious for a home grown champion since 1936, the Brits will have to wait at least another year.

#6 Andy Roddick versus Richard Gasquet, Quarterfinals Wimbledon

As the higher ranked player and with his previous grand slam experience, Roddick had all the elements in his favor to proceed to the next round. He was leading two sets to love and with Gasquet having never previously come back from such a deficit; Andy’s fate appeared to be sealed. But destiny took a wrong turn as Gasquet found the means to work his way back into the match with spectacular backhand passes and eventually walked away with the upset, winning 8-6 in the fifth. A dazed and confused Roddick probably had nightmares for days following that one.

#5 Maria Sharapova versus Serena Williams Finals Australian Open

Subsequent to an injury-filled year which resulted in her ranking plummeting to 81, it would not have been shocking for a visibly out-of-shape Serena to lose in the initial rounds of the tournament. Williams proved all the naysayers wrong when she reached the finals where she dominated the proceedings against Sharapova, who at the time was the second seed, and earned her third Australian trophy. In so doing, Serena placed the rest of the field on notice that she was back at the top of her game.

#4 Daniela Hantuchova versus Serena Williams, Fourth Round Wimbledon

After winning the opening set easily, Serena found herself battling in the second. While serving to extend that set into a tiebreaker, Serena literally went down when she began to experience pain in her calf muscle; speculation was that she was struck by a case of severe calf spasm. Once play resumed after a medical time out, a grimacing, teary-eyed Williams was unable to generate much power on her shots causing her to forfeit the second set. With her movement gravely hampered, Williams’ prayers for a reprieve were answered by a two-hour rain delay during which she received additional treatment for her problem. Guts, shear determination, and a befuddled Daniela, who was conspicuously uneasy with having to beat up on a wounded opponent, helped Serena pull out a 6-2 win in the third set. Therefore, for your die-hard attitude Serena Williams, we at HialeahTennis.com salute you.

#3 Justine Henin versus Marion Bartoli, Semifinals Wimbledon

You would think that having James Bond 007 (a.k.a. Pierce Brosnan) in the stands would make one nervous. Such a dapper and debonair presence in most cases might be a distraction, apparently not in the case of Marion Bartoli, to her he was a source of inspiration. Seeded 18th , Bartoli of France probably believed that she had no more than an outside chance to win against Henin, the world’s number one. After losing the first set 6-1, Bartoli should probably have discarded the idea of an “outside chance”. Yet, Marion stated that when she saw Brosnan, her favorite actor, in the stands she realized that she could not continue with such an embarrassing display. Bartoli started to perform better, propelling her to win the second set. On the other hand, Henin surprised by the turn of events essentially became unglued. Henin’s level of play took a nosedive. Shots which for her were usually a surety were converted into errors leading to her dismissal in the third set 6-1; Henin’s quest of obtaining her first Wimbledon trophy will have to be postponed yet another year.

#2 Roger Federer versus Andy Roddick, Quarterfinals U.S. Open & Ranek Stepanek versus Novak Djokovic, Second Round U.S. Open

Tied for second place are these two matches on hardcourt for the quality of the shots although only one went the distance. Roddick could not have performed any better; his serve was phenomenal while his groundstrokes were dead on. Yet, Federer decked out in his Darth Vader evening attire had the force with him. The first two sets were decided by tiebreakers with Federer coming up with some surreal passing shots while Roddick tried all within his powers to stave off the assault. After loosing the first two sets, Andy was a broken man and fell in the third set 6-2. This match was reminiscent of his play at Wimbledon 2004, where as Andy stated he “threw everything at Roger but the kitchen sink” and still could not get the victory. So maybe next time, Andy will need to remember to bring the kitchen sink.

In what turned out to be a spectator’s dream for an opening round contest at a major, this five set thriller was jam packed with first class shot making from both Stepanek and Djokovic. This 4-hour and 44-minute marathon fittingly ended with a fifth set tiebreaker where Djokovic prevailed, the initial step towards his punching his ticket to his first grand slam finals.

#1 Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal, Finals Wimbledon

The hallowed grounds of tennis’ premiere tournament were the setting for this epic battle between these top-ranked contenders. For the first time since capturing the number one ranking several years ago, Federer was at risk of being displaced by Nadal. The match started out with Roger pulling ahead in a tough first set tiebreaker. In the second set, Roger had the chance to place further distance between himself and his opponent, but Rafael picked up his level of play and equalized the match. The third set was also a fiercely contested affair which saw Federer come out on top once more in a tiebreak. At that point, one thought that Federer would put the pedal to the metal and run away with the trophy, but much to Federer’s dislike, Nadal had more to say. Throughout the course of the match, Federer took exception with some of the calls that the electronic line monitor was making; repeatedly his challenges were proven wrong. A normally cool and composed player (let’s face it, the guy appears to hardly sweats on court), Federer almost went, ballistic, at one point asking the umpire to turn off what he felt was a faulty machine. Clearly, the tension was getting to Roger. A factor which probably contributed to his losing the fourth set 6-2. For the first time at his favorite grand slam, Roger would need to go to a fifth set to win. When Rafa took an injury time out, a rattled Federer was able to regroup and regain his composure; this permitted him to find his rhythm in the ultimate set where he broke Nadal twice to capture his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

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