Tag Archive | "Wimbledon"

Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round:  Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blockbuster Showdown in the Fourth Round: Sharapova v Serena and Henin v Clijsters

For the most part, the first week at Wimbledon has gone according to plan on the ladies’ side.  As a result, defending champion Serena Williams will square off in the round of 16 against the woman who beat her in the 2004 final, Maria Sharapova.  Similarly, the projected clash between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters has come to fruition.  This means that tomorrow, two individuals will be disappointed.  Let’s analyze how we arrived at this point and what lies ahead in the second week.

Top seed Serena Williams has simply run through her opponents. Likewise, Sharapova has had little difficulty getting to this stage, sending her adversaries home in straight sets.  Serena and Sharapova have played seven times with the former winning five of those meetings.  Curiously, since the 2004 championship, the two have never battled on grass.  In essence, this will be their rematch.  A significant factor will be how well Sharapova serves.  If the Russian does well in that department, Serena could be in trouble.

Na Li and Agniezska Radwanska who face each other in the fourth round have yet to drop a set in getting this far.  Radwanska holds a 2-1 record against Li and both victories have been on grass.  But for both Li and Radwanska, the quarterfinals will be a tough ask with either Sharapova or Serena as a rival.

A definite stunner was the dismissal of French Open finalist Samantha Stosur in the first round by Kaia Kanepi.  Previously ranked as high as 18 in 2009, Kanepi’s placement dipped to 80.  After ousting another seed Alexandra Dulgheru in the third round, the talented Estonian is in the round of 16 .  Another surprise is Kanepi’s opponent in the fourth round, Klara Zakopalova.  The 28 year old had not gone pass the third round at a major previously.  Zakopalova advanced by bouncing 18th seed Aravane Rezai in the second round and trouncing 10th seed Flavia Pennetta in the third.

Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed, has been splendid on grass as she attempts to better her fourth round result from last year.  Jie Zheng, the 23rd seed, and Victoria Azarenka, the 14th seed, fell victim to Petra Kvitova in the second and third round respectively. Thus, Wozniacki takes on Kvitova in the round of 16.  The Dane carried their prior two matches.  Furthermore, with Kanepi or Zakopalova as a quarterfinal match-up, Wozniacki truly has a green light to the semifinals.

This was a disastrous week for the French Open winners.  The reigning champion Francesca Schiavone went out in the first round.  Last year’s title holder and 19th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova crashed out in the second round.  Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 victor, bowed out in the first round.  Hence, Ivanovic’s ranking of 45 will continue to head toward the cellar.

Read the full story

Posted in Editorial, NewsComments (0)

Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong

As customary, the middle Sunday at Wimbledon serves as a no play holiday which is a welcomed respite.  No words can fully underscore the uniqueness of the events that transpire this week.  From a seemingly never ending first round match, to the champions of the last two years limping their way into the last 16, to the Queen making a rare appearance, to a scandal involving Victor Hanescu.  Here’s a homage to the initial six days and a take on what’s ahead.

The French are known for their flare and Nicolas Mahut is undoubtedly part of the establishment.  In the second round of qualifying, Mahut outlasted his opponent 24-22 in the third set to advance.  Then, Mahut went five sets to make it into the main draw. In the first round of the main draw, Mahut faced John Isner. On Tuesday, the match was interrupted due to darkness after the two split four sets.  When the players returned on Wednesday, the night ended with a 59-59 draw in the fifth. Even the scoreboard was exhausted, crashing when the score got to 40+.  On Thursday, the match concluded when Isner hit two consecutive winners to break Mahut and grab a 70-68 victory.

The encounter which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, shattered all previous records and redefined the meaning of marathon match. The fifth set alone spanned 8 hours and 11 minutes.  However, despite a full day’s rest, Isner could not recuperate.  The next round, Thiemo De Bakker, who won his prior round 16-14, dismissed a depleted Isner in just 1hour 14 minutes.  For Isner, the physical consequences may reverberate for months.

While defending champion Roger Federer did not go to such extremes, it was a struggle to survive nevertheless.  Federer was nearly a spectator as 60th ranked Alejandro Falla forced Federer to climb out of a two sets to love deficit, even serving for the match.  With a bit of “luck” as Federer put it, he moved on.  The Swiss’ second round was also tough as qualifier Ilijac Bozoljac prevailed in the second set tiebreaker. Federer carried the match by capturing the fourth set tiebreaker.  The third round, Federer played close to flawlessly against Arnaud Clement.

Rafael Nadal also willed himself to advance.  After a routine initial round, Nadal required five sets the second and third round against Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschener respectively.  More importantly, Nadal had a flare up of his niggling knee problem and was treated for elbow issue.

Following a five setter with Oliver Rochus, Novak Djokovic thumped his next opponents Taylor Dent and Albert Montanes in the subsequent rounds.  British hopeful Andy Murray has been efficient, booting his counterparts in straight sets.  Even the Queen’s first appearance at Wimbledon since 1977 did not distract her subject as Murray dispatched Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.

After an uncomplicated primary round, Andy Roddick was rattled a bit by Michael Llodra and Philipp Kohlschreiber the next rounds, pushed to four sets by each.  Roddick has friendly company into the second week as Sam Querrey secured a fourth round berth after a five set tussle with Xavier Malisse.

Unsurprisingly, his second tournament back from injury, Nikolay Davydenko fell in the second round.  Shocking though was Fernando Verdasco, the 8th seed, Marin Cilic, the 11th seed, Marcos Baghdatis, the 24th seed, and Stanislas Wawrinka, the 20th seed, all exiting their first day out.

Robin Soderling, the 6th seed, has been on cue this week.  The Swede has sailed through his matches, duration under two hours.  His first event since his back injury, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performance has been mixed.  In the second round, Tsonga went five sets after having a two sets to none lead against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  Yet, the following round, Tsonga cruised against qualifier Tobias Kamke.

This tournament has seen a revival of the French veterans.  Paul-Henri Mathieu knocked out 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny and De Bakker in the second and third round respectively to earn a spot in the final 16 at a major for the first time since 2008.  Also, Julien Benneteau is into the second week after surviving two five set matches.

Conversely, Gael Monfils had his fortnight cut short by Lleyton Hewitt in the third round.  Monfils was no match for Hewitt who recently beat Federer in Halle. The Aussie is grooving on grass despite two hip surgeries.

Read the full story

Posted in Editorial, NewsComments (0)

Wimbledon Draw Offers the Potential for Another All Williams Final

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wimbledon Draw Offers the Potential for Another All Williams Final

With the exception of 2004 and 2006 when the Venus Rosewater trophy was leased by Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo respectively, Venus and Serena Williams have been the proprietor of the Wimbledon title eight out of the last ten years.  In fact, the Williams sisters have been interchangeably the winner and runner-up the ultimate two seasons.   With Serena and Venus as the top two seeds in 2010, a three-peat in the finals is plausible.  However, with Justine Henin having reincorporated herself into the tour with the express objective of hoisting the Wimbledon trophy and compatriot Kim Clijsters a formidable force after rejoining the circuit last summer, a new decade may mark the end of the Williams’ dominance.  Here’s a preview of the draw and the potential obstacles for the chief contenders at the All England Club.

If the outcome is as anticipated, Serena will meet Maria Sharapova in the round of 16.  Despite struggling with her serve since her shoulder surgery, Sharapova has posted some good results the last couple of months.  Moreover, Sharapova reached the finals in Birmingham two weeks ago.  Thus, depending on how well Sharapova plays, the possibility of an upset is undeniable.  With the Birmingham title under her belt, Na Li is a secondary threat in Serena’s section.  A semifinalist in Australia where she loss in two  tiebreaker sets, Li has the weapons to irritate Serena if she gets to the quarterfinals.

Either French Open finalist Samantha Stosur or Caroline Wozniacki could be Serena’s semifinal opponent.  With her recent history at the French Open against Stosur, Serena may have her work cut out for her.  Beforehand, Stosur and Wozniacki may have to battle it out in the quarterfinals.  Looking further back, Wozniacki may have to deal with Victoria Azarenka the 14th seed in the fourth round and Stosur with Flavia Pennetta the 10th seed also in the round of 16.  Since clay is Pennetta’s best surface and with the Italian never making it pass the fourth round, Stosur should prevail.  For Azarenka, the finalist in Eastbourne, a knee injury may be the limiting factor regardless of the rival she faces.

Focusing on the bottom half of the draw, the Wimbledon grass seems to have restorative properties for Venus irrespective of her previous results.  With two titles and finalists status in Miami and Madrid, Venus is in stellar shape.  Venus’ path looks relatively unencumbered until the quarterfinals where she could battle Marion Bartoli or French Open reigning champion Francesca Schiavone.  Still with Venus’ past performance, the scales are heavily tipped in her direction.

Read the full story

Posted in Editorial, NewsComments (0)

Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Read the full story

Posted in Editorial, NewsComments (0)

Makarova Pushes Past Azarenka In Eastbourne for First WTA Title

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Chela Quells Querrey For Clay Title In Houston

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Posted in Local News, NewsComments (0)

Tennis Is Healthier With A Healthy Nadal

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Read the full story

Posted in EditorialComments (4)