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Sony Ericsson Open Wildcards Announced

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Sony Ericsson Open Wildcards Announced


The Sony Ericsson Open has announced the wildcard entrants for this year’s tournament. American James Blake and Russian Dinara Safina highlight the list of wildcard players that will be playing at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. On the men’s side of the draw the other wildcards include Americans Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison, Canadian Milos Raonic, and Bernard Tomic from Australia. Joining Safina on the women’s side of the draw are Heather Watson, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, Madison Keys, and Coco Vandeweghe. Here is the official press release from the Sony Ericsson Open tournament : BLAKE AND SAFINA HIGHLIGHT SONY ERICSSON OPEN WILDCARDS Current and rising stars are granted this year’s wildcards MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open announced its wildcard entries and this year it features former World No. 4 James Blake and former World No. 1 Dinara Safina. A total of five wildcard slots were granted to the men’s draw and also include Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Milos Raonic, and Bernard Tomic. While six were given on the women’s side which feature Heather Watson, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, Madison Keys, and Coco Vandeweghe. Women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 22, while the men’s main draw kicks off the following day on Wednesday, March 23. The qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, March 21 and 22. Tickets to the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via internet at www.sonyericssonopen.com. An electrifying two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 2 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 3.
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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Roddick, Clijsters, Wozniacki and Serena Headline 2011 Sony Ericsson Open

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Roddick, Clijsters, Wozniacki and Serena Headline 2011 Sony Ericsson Open


The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open kicks off on March 21 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. Today, the tournament released the acceptance list for the ATP and WTA tours. The field is stacked with past Major champions that including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Roddick and Clijsters will attempt to defend their titles from last year.

Here is the official tournament press release which includes the full ATP and WTA acceptance list:

GRAND SLAM PLAYER FIELD MEETS GLAM SLAM EVENT AT SONY ERICSSON OPEN
MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open men’s and women’s player fields were announced today and the tournament will host a field worthy of a Grand Slam event with each of the top 77 ranked men’s players and 74 of the top 75 ranked women’s players in the world attending.

Once again the world’s best players including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki will come together at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park, March 21-April 3 to compete for one of the most prestigious titles in tennis.

Tickets to the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via internet at www.sonyericssonopen.com. An electrifying two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 2 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 3.

The qualifying rounds will be played March 21-22 and will determine 12 more slots in each singles draw, while the tournament will award five men’s wildcards and eight women’s wildcards. Women’s main draw play will begin Tuesday, March 22 with the men’s main draw starting on Wednesday, March 23.

Clijsters, the defending Sony Ericsson Open women’s champion, and Djokovic, the Sony Ericsson Open men’s champion in 2007, are coming off victories at the Australian Open and will certainly be considered two of the favorites to win in Miami this year.

But the contenders to claim the Sony Ericsson Open’s Butch Buchholz trophy in 2011 are numerous indeed.

Rafael Nadal, a two-time Sony Ericsson Open finalist, will look build upon his incredible 2010 season which saw the Spanish star claim three Grand Slam titles and reclaim the World No. 1 ranking. Roger Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, will return to Miami looking to claim his third Sony Ericsson Open title and his first since 2006. Andy Murray, the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open champion, is already playing in mid-season form having reached the Australian Open final and you can’t overlook defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Andy Roddick who always seems to play his best tennis on the purple courts at Crandon Park.

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out

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Midway Through Australian Open 2011:Clijsters and Wozniacki In, Henin Out



The halfway mark has been reached at the Australian Open.  While Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki are still in line to collect their first major Down Under, the dream is at an end for Justine Henin and Samantha Stosur.  Here’s a look at the tournament’s past seven days.

In the top half of the draw, world number one Wozniacki coasted into the round of 16.   Despite difficult challenges from Gisela Dulko and Dominika Cibulkova, the Dane has yet to drop a set.  Wozniacki will battle Latvian talent 20 year old Anastasija Sevastova  who stunned Yanina Wickmayer in the second round.

On the other hand, Henin, a finalist last year, was dismissed in the third round by Svetlana Kuznetsova.  The 2009 French Open champion who appears to be fitter than ever will face reigning French Open victor Francesca Schiavone in the fourth round.  The latter needed three sets in each of her first two rounds.

There will be no Williams hoisting the prize this year.  Venus was forced to retire one game into her third round match with Andrea Petkovic due to a pelvic muscle injury.  Consequently, Petkovic will clash with Maria Sharapova in the round of 16. Sharapova scraped by Julia Goerges in the previous round.  With Sharapova’s serve a continual sore spot, Petkovic has a golden opportunity to reach her first quarterfinal at a major.

Both Li Na and Victoria Azarenka have been unforgiving thus far with straight sets victories to get to the round of 16.  These two will now collide for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Another Serena-Less “Slam”:  Who Will Capitalize at the Australian Open?

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Another Serena-Less “Slam”: Who Will Capitalize at the Australian Open?


For the second consecutive major, Serena Williams will be a no-show.  With the two time defending champion and former world number one still injured, current world number one Caroline Wozniacki should technically be “the” favorite.  While Wozniacki is a certain contender for the crown Down Under, it’s difficult to position her in the number one spot.  With her victories at the U.S. Open and the WTA championships to finish 2010, Kim Clijsters has to be viewed as the outright favorite.  The way the Australian Open draw stacks up, Clijsters has to relish her chances.  Let’s take a look how it breaks down.

Imagine needing to conquer Gisela Dulko in the first round, Dominika Cibulkova in the third round and either Justine Henin or Francesca Schiavone just to get to the quarterfinals.  This is the precise task which probably awaits Wozniacki.  Moreover, in the semifinals, the Dane could clash with either Venus, whom she has never beaten, Victoria Azarenka or Maria Sharapova.  In light of the treacherous road ahead, Wozniacki has her work cut out for her in trying to survive the first week and retain the number one ranking.

Since her 2010 Wimbledon injury, this will be Henin’s first major.  After months of noncompetitive play, Henin performed well at the Hopman Cup.  In Melbourne, a possible third round encounter with Svetlana Kuznetsova will be her first true challenge.  Last year, Henin battled her way to the final after an almost two year sabbatical. Consequently, if the Belgian successfully navigates the first week, she could duplicate her feat of a year ago.

If healthy, Venus should reach the round of 16 with ease.  At that stage, the 2003 Australian Open finalist could be tested, if the draw holds true to form, by the 2008 Australian Open champion, Sharapova. The Russian’s last major was in Melbourne.  Subsequent to shoulder surgery a couple of years ago, Sharapova appears finally at full steam.  That type of encounter could be a shot in the arm for Sharapova and push her back into the top ten.

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A Tale of Two Seasons:  Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes

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A Tale of Two Seasons: Serena Starts and Wozniacki Finishes


Although the familiar saying states “all good things must come to an end”, when it comes to tennis it’s not necessarily the case.  While the 2010 season is over, in the blink of an eye the new one will commence.  Before turning to a fresh chapter, it’s important to reminisce and ponder what made this past year noteworthy.

At her first tournament after rejoining the tour, Justine Henin was a finalist in Brisbane.  The Belgian followed that result with a run to the final at the Australian Open.  In a compelling match, Serena Williams edged out Henin to defend her title and claimed her twelfth career major.  Despite Williams’ conquest, the road to victory was far from routine.  Thus, early indications were Williams would be fighting tooth and nail to retain the number one ranking.  Yet, in the end, injury became Serena’s speed bump rather than her fellow competitors.

Following Australia, a knee injury caused Williams to put her feet up for a few months.  In May, a healthy Serena returned to competition.  Subsequent to being stunned in the French Open quarterfinals, Williams successfully defended her Wimbledon title.  However, days after her triumph, Serena suffered a freakish foot injury.  Initially, the damage seemed inconsequential.  But, as the weeks went by, Serena withdrew from tournament after tournament and underwent surgery.  Ultimately, Wimbledon proved to be Serena’s last event of 2010.

Ironically, Serena’s similar fate befell Henin.  After being booted in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, Henin turned her focus to Wimbledon the underlying reason for her comeback.  With a title at a warm-up tournament before Wimbledon, Henin was a serious contender to capture the sole major which has eluded her. But, after easily carrying the first set against Kim Clijsters, Henin fell on her elbow and eventually loss in the round of 16.  What at first seemed an innocuous tumble prematurely terminated Henin’s year.

After being upended in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open by Na Li, Venus Williams caught a full head of steam and defended back to back titles in Dubai and Acapulco.  Then, Venus made the finals at the Sony Ericsson Open and the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.  Consequently, Venus’ ranking peaked at number two.  Days after celebrating her 30th birthday,  the five time Wimbledon champion stepped on the grass with high hopes for a sixth crown.  However, in the quarterfinals, Venus was sent packing by Tsvetana Pironkova.  Later at the U.S. Open, Williams watched an opportunity to advance to the final evaporate, going down to Clijsters.  Bothered by a knee issue, after New York, Venus sat out the remainder of the season.

No ifs and or buts, Clijsters is back.  After besting Henin in the Brisbane final, Clijsters rebounded from an early exit at the Australian Open by thrashing Venus in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Although a foot injury prevented Clijsters from participating at the French Open, the following month the Belgian reached the semifinals at Wimbledon.  Subsequent to a sensational win in the final in Cincinnati, Clijsters repeated in New York and earned her third U.S. Open title.  Clijsters capped the year with the number three ranking and the WTA Championships trophy in Doha.

In placing one’s bet at the start of 2010, Maria Sharapova, Henin and Clijsters would have been regarded as the candidates likely to supplant Serena at number one.  Instead, Williams was toppled from that spot by a great Dane.  Last year, as a runner-up at the U.S. Open, Caroline Wozniacki demonstrated that she is a legitimate rival.  With Serena sidelined by injury, Wozniacki scaled up the ranking by winning six tour titles and making the finals in Indian Wells and Doha.

Despite being halted in the round of 16 at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at the French Open and the semifinals at the U.S. Open, consistency week in and week out was the key to Wozniacki taking over at number one.

Another individual who had a spring in her step in 2010 is Vera Zvonareva. The Russian followed her first major final at Wimbledon with another at the U.S. Open.  Although Zvonareva fell to Serena and Clijsters respectively, because of her phenomenal performance, Zvonareva shot up to the number two ranking.

Other names to come into the spotlight this season include twenty year old Petra Kvitova who stunned Victoria Azarenka and Wozniacki before being knocked out in the Wimbledon semifinals by Serena.  Along with Li, countrywoman Jie Zheng advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open.  Perhaps the unlikeliest ones to rise above the fray were veterans Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur.

After beating Henin, Serena and Jelena Jankovic at the French Open, 26 year old Stosur booked her maiden major final spot.  With a victory over Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, Schiavone sauntered into the French Open final as a result of Elena Dementieva retiring in the semifinals with a calf injury.  First time major finalist Schiavone took full advantage of her good fortune.  Less than a month prior to her 30th birthday, Schiavone prevailed over Stosur becoming the first Italian woman to win a major.

In doubles, Serena and Venus triumphed in the finals at the Australian and French Opens while Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were claimed by the new pair of Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova.  The number one doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber had an acrimonious divorce in April.  With the break up of Huber and Black and injuries affecting the Williams’, Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko with six titles and the WTA Championships trophy ended the year as the top doubles team.

For the second consecutive year, Italy dismissed the U.S. to take the Federation Cup. Former French Open champion and world number one Ana Ivanovic redeemed her season by pocketing the Tournament of Champions trophy in Bali and reintegrating herself in the top twenty.  Nothing but bad news for former world number one Dinara Safina.  Limited by a back problem, Safina hardly played and finished the year ranked 63rd.

At the WTA championships, Dementieva dropped a bomb announcing her retirement after her last round robin match.  The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and two time major finalist felt at 29 years of age the time had arrived to seal this phase of her life and move on to another.

It is impossible to dissociate 2010 from 2011 with injury already a factor in the year to come.  With her foot still on the mend, Serena proclaimed she will not defend her Australian Open title.  As such, the first major of the year will be up for grabs.  Will Clijsters seize her first major other than the U.S. Open?  Can Wozniacki silence all doubters and show she really belongs at the top spot?  Will Zvonareva draw on the positives from 2010 and take the final step to the major’s winner circle?  Will it be Sharapova or Henin reliving their past success down under?  In contemplating the outcome of the Australian Open, the permutations seem infinite.  With all these questions, the first major portends that the upcoming season will be a fascinating one to follow.

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2008:  A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour

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2008: A Year Full Of Surprises On The Women’s Tour


img_2867As another season concludes on the WTA, its is only fitting to reflect on the moments that branded it and look forward to what might be in store for 2009.

The Russian onslaught continues with half of the players ranked in the top ten coming from that nation. One of the pack’s standouts, Maria Sharapova, bulldozed over her opponents to win the year’s first major in Australia. However, after an impressive winning streak, Sharapova went on forced sabbatical due to an old shoulder injury resurfacing. Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva finally lived up to their promise, as these two had a phenomenal run in 2008. Sporting new coaches, these two women known for their volatile outburst on court, bottled their tempers which translated into great results. Safina’s newfound mental solidity carried her all the way to the French Open final. For her part, Zvonareva was a finalist at the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships where she lost a heartbreaking match to Venus Williams. Moreover, this powerhouse of tennis swept the medals at the Olympics with Elena Dementieva taking gold, Safina silver, and Zvonareva bronze. In team play, the Russians were also supreme, crushing Spain to grab another Federation cup.

The Serbians also became more firmly entrenched in the sport. After her defeat in the Australian final, Ana Ivanovic claimed her first major in Paris. Compatriot Jelena Jankovic made her first majors’ final appearance at the U.S. Open, but lost a tough three setter. As a result of the French Open title, Ivanovic captured the number one ranking. But with a niggling thumb injury, Ivanovic struggled the remainder of the year. On the other hand, Jankovic overflowing with confidence after her great U. S. Open showing, won three straight tournaments and finished the year at number one. Jelena is the third player after Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis to hold that honor despite failing to earn a major trophy.

The Williams sisters persist as the beacon of light of American tennis with Venus shining on her best surface, the grass at Wimbledon. Venus seized her fifth title at sister Serena’s expense. But the latter’s tears were short-lived as the siblings took the Wimbledon doubles title and repeated with doubles gold in Beijing. Moreover, Venus showed that at 28, she still could keep up with her younger peers by winning both in Zurich and at the prestigious year-end championships. While Serena, no spring chicken herself, prevailed for the third time at the U.S. Open.

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New Season Equals Radical Initiatives For The ATP


Apparently, the change bug bit not only the WTA but also the ATP. With the sports’ global appeal on the rise particularly in Asia, the ATP decided the time had come for a major overhaul. Moreover, concerns over the inordinate number of retirements and withdraws from events prompted the organization to revisit its rules in order to combat that particular virus.

Here are a couple of key modifications that will be in play in 2009:

1) The ATP Masters series will be renamed Masters “1000” keeping in line with the number of ranking points at stake. The next tier of tournaments will be called “500” and “250” also reflecting the points to be rewarded.

2) Masters “1000” will consist of nine cities and the year-end tournament. It will be compulsory for the top players to participate in eight out of the nine tournaments. Also, there will be 11 “500” events to which players will be forced to commit for a minimum of four years.

3) This should be pegged the ‘play to get paid’ rule. Word of honor will no longer be the measure of a player’s health; a medical panel will decide the validity of an injury. If a player is deemed fit to compete, he will be subject to suspension and depending on his ranking monetary penalty will apply including revenue sharing loss.

To heighten tennis’ visibility, the ATP plans to pour millions into constructing new stadiums worldwide while revamping others. Further, it wants to increase its viewing audience by picking up more broadcasting rights. Moreover, the ATP retooled its calendar applying, whenever possible, the successful format of the U.S. Open series whereby a group of tournaments leads up to the grand prize of the majors’ crown.

Yet, there appears to be some fuzziness as to how the new system functions. A major detail that remains nebulous is the value that the majors will be awarded. How many ranking points will a U.S Open or Wimbledon trophy be worth? Moreover, controversy has arisen over the new policies. American Andy Roddick has vociferously denounced the new calendar as player unfriendly. Roddick feels it will be abusive, requiring an eleven-month commitment from the players. Also, he fears that it will augment the possibility of injury. On the other hand, player and ATP board member Ivan Ljubicic praised the revised rules as favorable for the game in general and the fans in particular. Only time will tell which player is right.

To attempt to decode the new rules click here, to read the press release issued by the ATP on August 28, 2008.  To take a closer look at the 2009 ATP calendar simply click here.

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WTA Ushers In Reform In 2009


For many years, the governing body of women tennis has been mulling over this conundrum: how best to grow and maintain the popularity of the sport in emerging markets while not adversely affecting the players who are often overextended by an already demanding schedule. After extensive research, the WTA believes it has found the perfect balance, which it trusts, will serve to better the game.

In September, a new schematic, the “roadmap”, was announced outlining the reforms that will be in effect next year. Two key revisions stand out and are worth emphasizing. Firstly, to minimize injury more down time will be allotted without unduly penalizing the athletes. Towards that end, players will be permitted 7 to 9 weeks of vacation time. Secondly, the players will see their monetary compensation increase through a revenue sharing program. Here are other salient points to the “roadmap”:

1) The prior system of labeling tournaments as “tier” has been abrogated. These competitions will now be called “ Premier” events for tiers I and II while tiers III and IV, “International” events. Moreover, the former have been scaled down from 26 to 20 with the goal of securing more top player participation. Besides the majors, Miami, Indian Wells, Madrid and Beijing will be obligatory tournaments.

2) A new method will be implemented for calculating player ranking whereby the best 16 tournament results will be taken into consideration.

3) While the top eight players will continue to be rewarded with a spot at the Sony Ericsson Championships at year’s end, the efforts of the rest of the top twenty will be acknowledged through their participating at the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions.

4) On court coaching will be allowed at all events. Players will be able to confab with their coaches once per set, either during the change over or after the set. Also, coaching will be legal during bathroom breaks or injury timeouts.

Thus far, the new guidelines have gotten mixed reviews. World number 3 Dinara Safina has expressed concerns over the possibility that top players will be restricted as to which tournaments they can enter while the same rules may not apply to lesser ranked ones. Venus Williams, the current number 6, has welcomed the modifications as a good thing for the sport. However, reigning French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic has voiced her reservations over on court coaching, fearing that it will alter the basic premise of singles as an individual sport. Therefore, with these conflicting viewpoints, it will be interesting to see how these changes will stamp the game in the upcoming year.

For complete details on the “roadmap” and to view the calendar for 2009, click here or logon to www.sonyericssonwtatour.com , scroll down to quick links section and click on roadmap 2009.  

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