Tag Archive | "Wimbledon"

Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer

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Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer


As the defending Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer has been given the top seed despite relinquishing the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal earlier this month.  Federer will attempt to capture his seventh crown to equalize Pete Sampras’ record at the All England Club. After injury prevented him from defending his 2008 title, a salubrious Nadal is seeking his second back to back French Open and Wimbledon trophies.  However, each man’s section is filled with rivals capable of tripping him prior to the finals.  Here’s a look at the draw.

After his historic string of consecutive semifinals was broken at the French Open, Federer had his tight grip on the title in Halle loosen by Lleyton Hewitt. Since prevailing in Australia, Federer has fallen to multiple adversaries whom he has owned and has yet to claim another title.  In light of Federer’s vulnerability, it’s perhaps Andy Roddick’s opportunity to avenge his three previous Wimbledon final defeats by knocking Federer out in the semifinals.  Beforehand though, Federer could have stiff competition in the round of 16 from French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer and in the quarterfinals from either Thomas Berdych or Nikolay Davydenko.  But, with the latter just rejoining the tour after nursing an injury for several months, he may be less of a factor.

Roddick may have some trouble of his own to contend with.  The American could see Marin Cilic or Phillip Kohlschreiber in the round of 16.  Kohlschreiber, the 29th seed, has taken down a few big names in his career which makes him dangerous.  In the quarterfinals, Roddick is projected to meet Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic has a tricky first round match against Oliver Rochus to whom he loss in Miami.  In addition, Djokovic has a potential fourth round encounter with Hewitt.  Djokovic’s game has been suffering of late which means that Hewitt has a good shot at reaching the quarterfinals in which case Roddick would be the outright favorite.

In the bottom half of the draw, Nadal could battle big server John Isner in the fourth round.  Isner has a game which translates well to grass and could bother the Spaniard. Then, the world number one has a possible clash with French Open finalist Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals.  Considering their contentious five set, two day third round encounter in 2007 and with the evolution of Soderling’s game if these two collide, it will be an intriguing match.

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title

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Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title


In the finals of Aegon International, the ultimate warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Ekaterina Makarova fought off an injured Victoria Azarenka 7-6,6-4 to grab her maiden WTA title and become the first qualifier to seize the trophy.

Ranked 100th in the world, Makarova has been in top shape the entire week.  The Russian took care of 6th seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round and dismissed compatriot and 2008 finalist Nadia Petrova in the second round.  Then, Makarova booted countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and upset French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the semifinals.  Makarova continued her splendid performance by opening the first set with a comfortable game.  Subsequently, with a forehand up the line winner and an error by Azarenka, Makarova arrived at double break point.  With a forehand return winner, Makarova gained the break.  Later, despite a tough game where she dealt with a break point, Makarova extended her lead to 3-0.  With both knees strapped due to tendonitis, Azarenka continued to battle producing high quality tennis to remain one break behind.  With a backhand down the line winner, Azarenka had her second break chance.  However, using her lefty serve to her advantage, Makarova extricated  herself from trouble and closed the game with a backhand volley winner for 5-2.  But serving for the first set at 5-4, Makarova netted a backhand to hand Azarenka a break point.  When a second straight backhand crosscourt went array, Azarenka gained the break.  After Makarova fought off two break points to guard serve and Azarenka held at love, the set moved to a tiebreaker.  With a forehand crosscourt winner, Makarova obtained the mini-break early on.  Further on, with an error by Azarenka, Makarova stretched her lead to 5-1.  Although Azarenka narrowed the gap to 6-5, Makarova’s luck held as Azarenka misfired with the forehand as the ball skidded off the line which terminated the set.

Playing through the pain, Azarenka maintained serve readily her first few times out in the second set.  Then at 2 all, Azarenka double faulted to gift Makarova a break point.  Makarova capitalized when Azarenka’s forehand sailed long.  Still, by forcing two mistakes from Makarova and with a forehand up the line winner, Azarenka promptly had triple break point.  By placing her serve well, Makarova leveled the game at deuce.  Yet, the Russian had to wipe out a fourth break point before consolidating for 4-2.  Unwilling to surrender, Azarenka kept striking winners and guarding serve with relative ease.  Thus, with a forehand winner, Azarenka arrived at double break point.  But, once again the Belarusian was turned away by Makarova who advanced to 5-3.  After Azarenka had a love game, two miscues placed Makarova at double championship point.  With an overhead winner, Makarova ended the match and captured the championship.

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title


Although the field at the Aegon Championships had four top ten players, none of them survived to Sunday.  In the final, two unexpected Americans fought it out for the venerable trophy. Sam Querrey, the sole surviving seed, beat Mardy Fish 7-6, 7-5 to pocket his third ATP title of the year.

In the first all American final at Queen’s Club since 1994, the serve was king.  After Fish had no trouble holding serve, Querrey double faulted and made two errors to go down love-40.  However, with three aces in the game, Querrey held in his first game.  The points were fast and rallies few, neither player got a look at another break point. Subsequent to Querrey maintaining serve despite two double faults, the set went to a tiebreaker.  Fish gave Querrey a mini-break to open the breaker by committing an error.  Later though, Querrey gifted his opponent a double fault erasing his advantage leading to 3 all.  Down the road, Fish netted a neutral backhand to hand Querrey another mini-break for 5-3.  With a compendium of mistakes by Fish, Querrey capture the next two points and the set.

Following a love hold to commence the second set, Querrey flubbed two forehands to face 0-30 his second time.  Yet, by calling on his strong serve, Querrey bagged the game for 2-1.  Fish finally found an entrance.  With two mistakes by Querrey and a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Fish was rewarded with two break points. This time as Querrey’s forehand down the line sailed long, Fish captured a 3-2 edge.  Later, Fish wrapped up his game with an ace to consolidate for 4-2.  But, serving for the set, Fish produced a series of unforced errors which cost him the game and leveled the set at 5 all. After Querrey guarded serve to inch ahead 6-5, Fish failed to put the ball in the field of play leading to triple break point. When Fish dumped his volley into the net on the second championship point, Querrey claimed the title.

In the post match interview, Querrey admitted that it’s difficult to battle “a buddy” especially since the two share the same coach.  After surrendering his serve two times in a row after serving spectacularly most of the match, Fish conceded “I am not sure what just happened”.  Fish stated that knowing the history of the tournament, it was one he had dreamed of winning. Nevertheless, Fish congratulated his friend on the victory.  In terms of Wimbledon, Querrey stated “I [will] go out there and do my best”.

Now, Querrey has three title this year on three different surfaces.  Querrey’s ranking of 23rd  will improve modestly.  After this great run, Fish’s ranking, which had dropped to 90, will get a much needed boost.

It was a strange week at the first grass court tune ups.  Defending champion Andy Murray was ousted in the third round by Fish.  That same day, world number one Rafael Nadal was booted in quarterfinals by Feliciano Lopez.  In the third round, four time champion Andy Roddick was stunned by Dudi Sela and Novak Djokovic was bounced by Xavier Malisse. Seeds Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic also lost early on.

In Halle at the Gerry Weber Open, the other grass court event, Lleyton Hewitt halted Roger Federer from obtaining his sixth title.  Hewitt defeated Federer 3-6,7-6,6-4 his first victory after 15 consecutive knock downs.  With so much disarray, hopefully, it’s not a snap shot of  what is to come at Wimbledon.

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Chance of a Lifetime:  Schiavone Stumps Stosur to Win French Open

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Chance of a Lifetime: Schiavone Stumps Stosur to Win French Open


Nothing is impossible!  This was the phrase on the t-shirt worn by Francesca Schiavone’s family and friends today in the French Open final.  Schiavone proved the axiom by surprising Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 to grab her first career major.  Moreover, Schiavone stenciled her name in history by becoming the first Italian female to prevail at a major.

With eight first serves leading to two love games, Stosur was on a tear to open the first set.  Still, Schiavone had no trouble keeping up, connecting on an ace to level things at 2 all.  Subsequently, with a deep return, Schiavone provoked Stosur into a forehand error for love-30.   However, with her saving grace, the serve, Stosur battled back and capped the game with a forehand down the line winner for 3-2.  Using her all court game, especially the volley, Schiavone stayed in touch with Stosur.  The pivotal point arrived at 4 a piece.  By pushing her rival into three uncomfortable shots which misfired, Schiavone manufactured triple break point.  After Stosur salvaged two, she double faulted on the third to give Schiavone a 5-4 advantage.  By climbing out of love-30 with an ace and forehand crosscourt winner, Schiavone set up a second set point with a backhand volley winner.  When Stosur netted the backhand, Schiavone claimed the first set.

With a deep and low backhand pass, Schiavone caused Stosur to hit the next stroke long.  As a result, the Italian had double break point in third game of the second set.  However, with a three winners and an unreturnable serve, Stosur guarded serve for 2-1.  Then, by punishing second serves, Stosur had her first break point of the day with a forehand up the line winner. Stosur capitalized when Schiavone’s forehand up the line failed.  Promptly, Stosur consolidated with a love game for 4-1.  Following a quick hold, Schiavone produced a backhand return winner crosscourt, a forehand winner and made Stosur err with the backhand to arrive at love-40.  Later, by stabbing at a superb serve, Schiavone got a miscue on a short forehand from Stosur to get back on serve at 3-4.  Despite the mounting pressure, Schiavone remained aggressive and comfortably maintained serve.  Eventually, the set was settled in a tiebreaker.  Schiavone secured a mini-break for 3-2 by tracking Stosur’s dropshot and converting a backhand up the line winner.  The Italian extended her lead to 5-2 with a forehand volley winner and forehand crosscourt winner.  Subsequently, with a crosscourt backhand volley winner, Schiavone obtained a second mini-break and four championship points.  When Stosur’s stroke off the return traveled out of play, Schiavone bagged the second set and the French Open trophy.  Schiavone rejoiced by painting her lips red with a clay kiss, duplicating this jubilant sign she had shown in the quarters and semis.

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Chela Quells Querrey For Clay Title In Houston

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Chela Quells Querrey For Clay Title In Houston


After ousting defending champ Lleyton Hewitt in the quarters, veteran Juan Ignacio Chela stopped third seed Sam Querrey in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship final. Chela prevailed 5-7,6-4,6-3 for his first trophy since 2007 and the fifth of his career, all on clay.

Following a backhand down the line error, Querrey faced break point. By serving and volleying well, Querrey held for 2 all.  Then, with a forehand up the line winner, Querrey had his first break point.  By provoking a forehand mistake from Chela, Querrey broke for 4-3.  Trying to consolidate, Querrey committed a myriad of unforced errors which allowed Chela to level the set at 4 all.  Later, when Chela dumped a forehand crosscourt into the net, Querrey had double break point.  Sam converted with a forehand volley winner for 6-5.  Subsequently, with a love game, Querrey ended the set.

With back to back winners, Chela held a multiple deuce game which included a break point to start the second set.  After a similar battle, Querrey guarded serve for 1 all.  From then on, Querrey cruised on serve while Chela struggled a bit.  When at 3 all Chela committed a backhand error, Querrey arrived at break point.  However, a costly forehand mistake effaced Querrey’s chance at the lead.  Despite four deuces, Chela kept serve to stay ahead 4-3. Ultimately, Querrey’s inconsistent play caused his frustration to mount.  Serving at 4-5 and 40-15, Querrey reached a dropshot by Chela but placed the forehand wide.  Then, when Chela surprised him with a forehand return winner, the players were at deuce.  After Querrey double faulted on game point, Chela connected on a forehand down the line winner for set point.  When Querrey’s forehand landed long, the match was driven to a third set.

Querrey began the final set by breaking Chela.  However, with three consecutive errors, Sam stared at triple break point.  When Chela converted a forehand crosscourt winner, the set was squared at 1 all.  Down double break point his next game, Querrey bailed himself out with his serve.  But, after a quick hold by Chela, Querrey was behind again 15-40.  Once more, Querrey responded and maintained serve for 3 all.  For Sam though, it was a case of going to the well too many times.  After two forehand miscues and a double fault, Querrey faced triple break point.  By enticing a forehand error from Querrey, Chela pocketed the break for 5-3.  Subsequently, on double championship point, Querrey sent a forehand return out of play giving the Argentine the trophy.

Irrespective of the finals, for Querrey, it was a sensational week.  The American beat 2009 finalist Wayne Odesnik in the a testy semifinal match to reach his first career final on clay.  Odesnik is under investigation for doping violation.  Already this year Sam has one title; he won in Memphis. From 25, Querrey’s ranking will rise.  Chela will also improve his seating from 82 to the top 50.

Last evening, in the doubles final, Mike & Bob Bryan defeated Stephen Huss and Wesley Moodie for their second second straight title.  This was a rematch of the 2005 Wimbledon doubles final whereby the latter team vanquished the Bryan brothers.

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final


The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized.   Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.

After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals.  That’s exactly how Clijsters came out.  From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30.  Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold.  With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point.  With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1.  During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh.  Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1.  The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge;  however, that did not happen.  Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce.  Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point.   When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.

Still, the torture was only beginning  for Williams.  Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long.  Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point.  Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting.  Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch.  At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause.  Yet, this was to no avail.  Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point.  Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood.  Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break .  Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead.  The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable.  However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point.  With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.

Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion.  Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:

Q.  Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS:  No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . .  on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.

Q.  Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well.  This is just great and amazing for them.  They’re playing great.

After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling:  ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . .  you almost have to be dominant and . . .  bring your best level.  But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her]  best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her]  too much and just really focus on yourself.  [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.

For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year.  Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open.  Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday.  As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end.  Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.

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Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal

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Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal


img_1180_rnIn the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, defending champion and world number two, Rafael Nadal, prematurely set down his racket due to the sudden onset of a knee injury.  For several seasons, the 23 year old has been afflicted with one form of physical ailment or another.  After an extraordinary victory in 2008, last June, Nadal was unable to defend his title at Wimbledon due to tendonitis.  As an individual who has exhibited exemplary conduct both on and off the court, there’s a noticeable void when a player of Nadal’s caliber is absent.  Here are a few reasons why the game is better with Nadal.

With Andy Murray dominating from the very first stroke and only three games from a straight sets victory, there was little suspense as to the outcome of the quarterfinals. Still, with the Spaniard, there is often a sliver of hope for a comeback.  One of Nadal’s most admirable attribute is his inherent belief, regardless of the score, that he is not vanquished until the last ball is struck.  In Nadal’s psyche, there’s invariably that one shot which sparks the turning point in the match.  It’s hard to bet against a man who last year in Australia after a thrilling five hour and 20 minute, five set semifinal defeated Roger Federer after another five setter with less than 24 hour turnaround.

If one were to browse the dictionary for the definition of driven or relentless, it would not be shocking to discover a photograph of Nadal.  Whether in practice or in match situation, Nadal gives 1000% effort, a reflection of his perfectionist personality. There’s an ATP commercial which describes tennis players as “gladiators” on the pitch; perhaps no person epitomizes that description better than Nadal.  Each time he steps on the court it seems a duel to the death.

While Nadal’s all-encompassing dedication is laudable, the intense manner he approaches the game has taken a toll on his body.  Bouts of tendonitis in both knees have hampered Nadal’s movement.  With the nature of his game, it’s inevitable that these structures will be under recurrent stress. Therefore, even for an athlete as talented as Nadal, it becomes impossible to compensate.  One option could be for him to go on a lengthy sabbatical since resting is crucial for healing.  The down side would be that his ranking would suffer. Sometimes, one wishes Nadal could trade in his knees for new ones every so many miles as he does his tennis shoes.

The injuries are unfortunate because over the years Nadal has grown as a player.  He has incorporated different shots which have helped him succeed on surfaces other than clay.  In some respects, Nadal’s resume is more well-rounded and accomplished than Federer’s.  Nadal’s first major was at age 18 while Federer’s came at age 21.The Spaniard has an Olympic gold medal in singles and a couple of Davis Cup titles.  On the contrary, there’s been a sporadic commitment by the Swiss to the Davis Cup.

In an era dominated by Federer, Nadal’s most significant contribution is proving that there are many ways to triumph.  These two players have contrasting styles as well as differences in other areas.  Nadal is a lefty, Federer a righty. The former plays two handed on the backhand wing while the latter has a one handed stroke.  Federer moves as a quasi ballet dancer on court, Nadal more like a football player. But, there is common ground in that they are both passionate about their sport.

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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.

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009


img_2928From Rafael Nadal winning his first hardcourt major in Australia, to Roger Federer completing the career grand slam, to the emergence of a new major star Juan Martin Del Potro at the U.S. Open, 2009 was a year replete with ups and downs on the men’s tour.  Here’s a flashback.

At the Australian Open final, despite a marathon semifinal match, Nadal had adequate reserves to stare down Federer in another five setter.  With that victory, Nadal seemed well positioned to achieve the calendar grand slam.  After sweeping every clay court tournament, Nadal was halted at the Madrid Masters by Federer days prior to the French Open. For many analysts, fatigue may have been deserving of an assist as Federer defeated Nadal in straight sets to capture his initial title of 2009. As such, Nadal was still considered the outright favorite for a fifth consecutive French trophy.

While everyone may have discounted Robin Soderling in the fourth round at the French Open, the Swede who played a contentious match with Nadal at Wimbledon in 2007 had visions of victory dancing in his head.  Soderling upstaged the best clay player in circulation, handing Nadal his first defeat at Roland Garros.  Soderling rode this euphoric wave all the way to his first final at a major where he was ultimately stopped by Federer. In addition, Soderling was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open.  At his initial ATP World Tour Finals, Soderling was a semifinalist and with that result jumped to a career best ranking of 8th after commencing 2008 at 17.

Melbourne was the site where Fernando Verdasco at last  lived up to his talent.  After surprising Andy Murray the hottest player on tour in the fourth round, Verdasco was involved in a dogfight in the semifinals with countryman Nadal.  Hands down, the best match of the tournament and one of the most scintillating of the year, the two Spaniards went toe to toe for over five hours.  Although Nadal was triumphant, Verdasco’s run in Australia galvanized him the rest of the year.  Verdasco reached the quarters at the U.S. Open and was instrumental in Davis Cup play. Verdasco participated in his first ATP World Tour Finals and ended 2009 at number 9.

After an horrendous start to the season, Federer’s year turned around after beating Nadal in Madrid in May. After avoiding a sleuth of pitfalls to get to the French Open final, Federer grabbed the elusive brass ring and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors.  With a knee injury placing Wimbledon defending champ Nadal out of action, the impossibility of a Federer-Nadal duel could have been deflating for the championships.  To the contrary, Andy Roddick stepped up to the plate and in facing Federer, the two had a final to rival last year’s epic.  Federer had to out ace Roddick, required 95 minutes and 30 games in the fifth set before coming away with the victory and a record setting 15 majors.  In July, Federer supplanted Nadal at the top of the ATP’s ranking list.  Brimming with confidence, Federer appeared unstoppable and was a shoe-in for a sixth consecutive  title in New York.

At the U.S. Open, Federer battled Del Potro in the final.  With this being the latter’s maiden major final, jitters were more likely than not to play a pivotal role.  In spite of his youth, Del Potro demonstrated that he is a quick study.  After a devastating lost to Federer in the French semifinals, down two sets to one, Del Potro carried a tiebreaker and showed up Federer in the fifth set to capture his initial major. Del Potro closed 2009 as the world’s fifth best player and is a definite threat to take over the top spot in 2010.

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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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