Tag Archive | "Zvonareva"

2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal


img_9986-version-3Hours after the Wimbledon committee revealed the singles’ draws, turmoil ripped through the men and women side demonstrating that no player is a shoe in for the championship.

After losing his second exhibition match, Rafael Nadal, the top seed and reigning champion, withdrew due to knee tendonitis. That afternoon, female number one and top seed, Dinara Safina’s recovery after her meltdown in Paris was dealt a major setback. Safina was ousted in the semifinals by Tamarine Tanasugarn ranked 47th in a grass court warm-up tournament. Last year, Tanasurgan defeated Safina in the finals at this event.

Now, fifth ranked Juan Martin Del Potro replaced Nadal at the top half of the draw. Although Del Potro has been improving rapidly, more seasoned grass players such as Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt or first round opponent Arnaud Clement could be an obstruction. In addition, Del Potro could face Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. The extent of Roddick’s ankle injury will determine how much of a factor he will be. With a manageable draw, the prospect of Andy Murray becoming the first Brit since 1936 to raise the Wimbledon trophy looks promising. But, Murray may see Roddick or Del Potro in the semifinals. Despite Roger Federer’s multiple championships at the All England Club, with such a competitive field, other than experience, Federer has no distinct advantage. In the bottom section, Federer may need to go through the same stubborn rivals he battled in Paris to get to the quarterfinals. There, Federer could square off against Fernando Verdasco or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both hungry competitors. Similarly to Murray, Novak Djokovic, Federer’s potential match-up in the semifinals, appears to have an easy path on paper. Yet, Tommy Haas who beat Djokovic in the finals at Halle could represent a roadblock.

Safina’s chance at redemption against Svetlana Kuznetsova may take place in the quarterfinals. Although with defending champion Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic as possible semifinals opponents, Safina could be in the midst of a perpetuating nightmare. Venus’ performance the first couple of matches will determine whether she can prevail for a sixth time at Wimbledon. Serena Williams’ chance to avenge her Sony Ericsson lost to Victoria Azarenka could come in the quarters. However, Azarenka may need to knock off former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 before getting to Serena. With Vera Zvonareva slowly getting back from injury and Elena Dementieva’s dismal play the last few months, for players such as Dominika Cibulkova, Aleksandra Wozniak or Alize Cornet, the door is wide open to reach at least the quarters.

The Williams sisters will do double duty at a major again. Defending champion and seeded fourth, Venus and Serena will attempt to win their fourth Wimbledon doubles title. 2008 men’s doubles champion Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, the second seed, will attempt to repeat and wrestle the number one spot away from Mike and Bob Bryan.

Ambiguity reigns at Wimbledon this year. On both the female and male side, it is truly anybody’s trophy. First serve comes this Monday.

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2009 French Open Draw Released

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2009 French Open Draw Released


french_open_logoThis Monday, the most talented men and women in tennis will initiate the process of deciding who will walk away with the year’s second major. While Rafael Nadal is unequivocally the favorite on the men’s side, the women’s potential champion is much harder to predict.

Although Nadal going down to Roger Federer in Madrid added spice to the contest, the Spaniard remains the one with the target on his back. Fellow countrymen David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco, possible fourth round and quarterfinal opponents respectively, could provide further intrigue to the plot. But, Nadal has had no trouble dealing with either man during his spectacular clay court run. The most anticipated semifinal match up could be Nadal versus Brit Andy Murray. Murray showed moments of brilliance in their semifinal meeting in Monte Carlo which he lost. Murray may need to go through Spaniard Albert Montanes, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, pesky Czech Radek Stepanek or Marat Safin, a semifinalist in 2008. So Murray’s will have a mount to climb before getting to Nadal.

On paper, Federer should reach the quarterfinals without difficulties. However, lurking in Roger’s section are James Blake, Tomas Berdych and a couple Spaniards, any of them could serve as spoilers. In the quarters, Federer could face Andy Roddick. Yet, Roddick could have a rough time getting past his rivals since clay is not his best surface. Serb Novak Djokovic and Federer could meet in the semifinals. Having come back from a set and a break down to prevail their last two encounters, Novak will have confidence squarely in his corner. However, standing in Djokovic’s way in the preliminary rounds may be former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, top ten players Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009

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A Breakdown Of Week 1 At Sony 2009


img_0942Fittingly, as the Sony Ericsson Open turns twenty-five this year, the first week of competition has already provided tons of fireworks on the courts. Here are just a few of the most memorable occurrences.

The initial two days were taken up by the qualifying rounds. Despite receiving wildcard entries, former major champions Swede Thomas Johansson and Argentine Gaston Gaudio did not move on to the main draw. In addition, the Americans teenager Donald Young and veteran Vincent Spadea failed to advance. On the other hand, Taylor Dent, whose career has had fits and starts due to niggling injuries, progressed into the primary field along with Michael Russell, Amer Delic and thirty-something Jill Craybas.

As the action got underway for real on Thursday, Dent’s hot hand continued.  The American beat two top twenty players in the second and third rounds, Spaniards Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo respectively.  In the round of 16, Dent will face Roger Federer; this will be their first encounter. Albeit the world number two has had multiple kinks in his game, Dent will need to pull off the performance of a lifetime in order to vanquish Federer. Surprisingly, the 14th seed Argentine David Nalbandian made a second round exit while James Blake, the 13th seed, was halted in the third round by Czech Thomas Berdych.

The sole top ten male to scent any whiff of difficulties in the third round was Frenchman Gael Monfils. The 9th seed clawed back from a double break deficit and saved two match points against Marat Safin, the 22nd seed and former major champion, before prevailing in a third set tiebreaker. Top seed Rafael Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin Del Potro, Gilles Simon, Fernando Verdasco and Jo- Wilfried Tsonga are also into the second week.

Much of the ruckus appeared to be on the women’s side. The rain was not the only nuisance at Crandon Park on Sunday as a ragging storm decimated through the elite ten. Actually, the turbulence commenced Saturday evening with the last match of the day featuring world number three, Serb Jelena Jankovic. The usually steady Serb was ushered out by Argentine Gisela Dulko.  Jankovic’s game has been stagnating; for the second consecutive tournament, she has made a second round exit. After the euphoria of the previous night and the quick turnaround, Dulko lost the next afternoon in straight sets to Czech Iveta Besenova. Another Serb Ana Ivanovic, the world number 7, was also excused in the third round by gifted Hungarian youngster Agnes Szavay in three sets.

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First Major of the Year, the Australian Open, Posts Its Draw


The 2009 Australian Open released the match up list today. For both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the number one and two seeds respectively, it will be a treacherous path to the finals.

Potential semifinal opponents for Nadal include Andy Murray unstoppable of late whether facing Roger or him, Gilles Simon who had a spectacular win against him in Madrid last year and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 finalist. However, as of press time, it’s still a question mark whether Tsonga will take the court due to a back problem. For Federer, all roads to the finals seem to go through defending champion Novak Djokovic. The two appear destined for a semifinal rematch. The spoiler may be Andy Roddick who will possibly have to defeat Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Regardless, with his phenomenal record since losing in his first major final, no longer a novice, this may be Murray’s tournament for the taking.

Maria Sharapova, last year’s winner, will be unable to defend because she is rehabbing her shoulder post surgery. Therefore, on the women side, potential champions abound. Top seed Jelena Jankovic should sail through to the quarterfinals where she may battle Vera Zvonareva, a player Jelena has had little trouble crushing in the past. Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 runner up, and Dinara Safina are possibly heading for a quarterfinal clash. Either one could be an impediment to Jankovic making her second consecutive major final. But, Ivanovic’s play has been patchy lately; it would not be surprising if Caroline Wozniacki stops her from advancing. With the Williams sisters on the same side of the draw, Venus and Serena may meet in the semifinals. Venus may need to bypass Elena Dementieva or Flavia Pennetta while Serena may have to vanquish Victoria Azarenka who recently won her first tour title or Agnieszka Radwanska before the siblings can tango. With two titles under her belt already and a recent win over Serena, Dementieva will be no push over for Venus and is a genuine contender. Nevertheless, Venus is perhaps the underdog with the best chance to win it all considering how well she finished 2008. The first ball strike is in less than 72 hours. For a detailed look at the singles and doubles draws go to www.australianopen.com

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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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Venus’ Star Shines Bright At The Year End Championship


As the top eight women players gathered in Doha for the Sony Ericsson Championships, Venus Williams and Russian Vera Zvonareva were undoubtedly considered dark horses after being the last ones to qualify. This unlikely twosome reached the finals in dominant fashion with neither woman dropping a match in round robin play. Thus, today, someone would soil her perfect record. Zvonareva drew the short straw as she fell to Williams 7-6, 0-6, 2-6.

Plagued by injuries the last few years, Williams has forfeited the year-end event multiple times. As such, this was Venus’ first final. After an uneventful opening game, Zvonareva got her first break point opportunity when Williams double faulted. The Russian converted when Williams misfired on a forehand 2-0. With penetrating groundstrokes, Williams forced errors from Zvonareva and with a forehand down the line pass had a break point. But, Williams wasted that chance by making a backhand error. Venus earned another break point, but was turned away by a forehand crosscourt winner from Zvonareva. After five deuces, Zvonareva held for a 3-0 advantage. Subsequently, with excellent serving, Venus remained one break behind. The turning point arrived with Zvonareva serving for the set at 5-3. After Vera was ahead 40-0, Venus connected on a crosscourt forehand winner, mirrored it with a backhand, then Zvonareva overcooked a volley leading to deuce. After a marathon rally, Venus dug out a ball to make a superb backhand volley for break point which Williams later converted. The set concluded in a tiebreak. After a backhand down the line winner gave Venus a double mini-break lead at 4-1, she squandered it with two unforced errors. Subsequently, with a double fault, Venus handed Vera a set point. Zvonareva capitalized on it when a net court dropped in for a winner. The Russian appeared poised to claim the biggest title of her career.

After winning a tough opening game, Williams made a crisp volley for a winner in a game where Zvonareva led 40-30 to take a 2-0 advantage. After easily holding serve, an error filled game by Vera extended Venus’ lead to 4-0. Venus faced a break point in the fifth game after committing several unforced errors. But, Williams forced an error from Zvonareva to get out of trouble and widen her lead to 5-0. Hence, Williams broke the Russian again to take the second set a love.

After Venus held serve to open the final set, Vera produced two costly unforced errors to go down double break point. Williams’ forehand stayed solid allowing her to break for 2-0. However, Williams faced break points after backhand misses. When Venus netted a Zvonareva dropshot, the players were back on serve. In the next game, the Russian gambled once again on the dropshot and lost when Williams smashed an overhead lob for another break point. Venus converted for a 3-1 lead. Unable to bottle her frustration, Zvonareva abused her racket and exploded in tears. In the sixth game, Vera picked up the pieces and held serve for the first in the set. As Zvonareva served at 2-5, Williams stepped on the accelerator. When a forehand skidded off the line causing an unforced error from Zvonareva, Williams arrived at championship point. Shortly after, Williams put away a volley to claim the trophy.

World number one and defending champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber crushed Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke 6-1, 7-5 in the doubles finals culminating a year where they won nine other titles including the U.S. Open.

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Just The Cure For Her Ailing Game: Ivanovic Captures Title In Linz


After final appearances at the Australian and French Opens, ultimately breaking through and hoisting the latter trophy, Ana Ivanovic’s game hit the skids. Last week, the Serbian youngster got back on course with a semifinal showing in Zurich and this week took it one step further by reaching the finals at the tier II Generali Ladies Linz in Austria, her first since the French. Ivanovic, the top seed and world number four, thrashed Russian Vera Zvonareva, the second seed and world number nine, 6-2, 6-1.

After Zvonareva’s flawless performance in the semifinals where she crushed Marion Bartoli 6-1, 6-0, a highly competitive final was anticipated. Moreover, Ivanovic struggled in the semifinals vanquishing crafty teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Unfortunately, the final was a one sided affair. Zvonareva opened the proceedings with three straight unforced errors and with a backhand drop shot, Ivanovic took the lead 1-0. The Serbian whose serve was problematic in the prior round, connecting on a dismal 37% of first serves in the initial set, won her first service game at love. In three games, Zvonareva made nine unforced errors from both wings and won only two points to go down two breaks. Briefly, Vera seemed to overcome her erratic play and with a forehand crosscourt winner arrived at her first break point. Zvonareva converted when Ivanovic committed a rare forehand error. However, this was the highlight for Zvonareva as the Russian’s game continued its meltdown. After leading 40-0, Vera committed two backhand errors and three double faults to give Ivanovic another break for 4-1. With a flurry of unforced errors, Zvonareva conceded the set to Ivanovic.

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No Mercy For Zvonareva As Jankovic Mows Over Another Russian In Moscow


For the third consecutive week, Serbian Jelena Jankovic faced a Russian in the finals. At the Kremlin Cup, her opponent was Vera Zvonareva. The result was the same, as Jankovic beat Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4.

Zvonareva’s first tier I final in front of a partisan crowd was not a delightful experience. After opening the match with a forehand crosscourt winner, Vera threw away a game point and with a bunch of errors gave Jankovic the break. Subsequently, Jelena literally pinned Vera into a corner resulting in four straight forehand errors for a love game 2-0. After blowing a 40-15 lead, Zvonareva finally got on the scoreboard after Jankovic produced a couple of forehand errors of her own 1-2. After holding serve comfortably, Jelena pressured Vera with her deep groundstrokes resulting in four consecutive forehand errors on the Russian’s best shot. Now, the Serb had a double break lead 4-1, then, dominated to take the first set.

Just as she had done in the first set, Jankovic started out the second by imposing her game. A sequence of unforced errors by Zvonareva gave her triple break point; Jankovic capitalized by curling in a forehand winner from way off the court. Despite being frustrated, Vera did not wither. After a backhand down the line by Jankovic misconnected, the players were at deuce. Later, Zvonareva connected on a sensational topspin lob for a break point which she converted 1-1. At that point, momentum appeared to have shifted. Moreover, Zvonareva obtained another break point when Jankovic misfired on a ball that skidded off the line. However, successive unforced errors by Vera equalized the set at 2-2. With a swinging volley and two forehand winners, Jankovic regained the lead 3-2. But refusing to cry uncle, Vera received another opportunity when her backhand hit the net and dropped in for a winner to give her double break point. Zvonareva converted and the players were back on serve 4-4. However, the ever-crafty Jankovic fabricated two backhand down the line winners for a double break which she capitalized on for a 5-4 lead. Then, with repeated unforced errors from Zvonareva, Jankovic secured the match.

Zvonareva can still rejoice. With this showing, she will climb up a notch in the rankings from 9 to 8. On the WTA, the ranking shuffle continues. With Serena Williams withdrawing from this event due to an ankle injury, Dinara Safina, Zvonareva’s opponent in the semifinals, will become the new number 2.

Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik dismissed the number one women’s doubles team Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4, 6-4 to take the cup. The men were also in action in Moscow. Russian Igor Kunitsyn defeated fellow countryman Marat Safin 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 to win his first ATP title.

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Russia Sinks Spanish Armada To Claim Second Straight Federation Cup


Russia torpedoed Spain’s hope for a Federation Cup trophy by convincingly winning all four matches in the finals to defend its title in Madrid, Spain.

Saturday’s first rubber featured Russian Vera Zvonareva against Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain’s top ranked singles player. After putting Garrigues on the defensive and making some spectacular forehand passes, Zvonareva built a 3-0 lead. But, the Russian committed several unforced errors, inviting Garrigues back in the match 3-2. Yet, after leading in her service game 40-15, Garrigues produced two miscues on the forehand and crosscourt backhand to let Russia gain the upper hand 4-2. Then, with a forehand down the line, Zvonareva secured the first set 6-3.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the second set, Zvonareva played two back-to-back poor service games and relinquished a break to Spain 2-4. Nevertheless, aided by Garrigues’ own misfiring, Zvonareva connected on a crosscourt forehand winner to get back on serve 3-4. Subsequently, Zvonareva pressured her opponent resulting in unforced errors to regain the break advantage. Ultimately, Zvonareva easily closed out the first rubber with a forehand crosscourt winner 6-4.

The second rubber between Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova gave the home team even less to cheer. The first game set the tone with Navarro broken at love. Navarro attempted to mix things up by coming to net, but her backhand repeatedly failed her resulting in Russia building a 4-0 advantage. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Kuznetsova took the first set 6-3. Using her weighty groundstrokes and versatility, Kuznetsova bullied Navarro to effortlessly win the second set 6-1 and give Russia a two match lead going into Sunday.

On Sunday, Garrigues faced Kuznetsova in the initial match. After racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set, Kuznetsova’s game went on a walkabout allowing Garrigues to comeback. Garrigues fought off five set points against her serve before prevailing 7-5. But, the home team’s elation was short-lived as Kuznetsova produced a forehand down the line winner to break 5-3 in the second set then served two aces to seal the set 6-3. In the third set, Russia got a prompt break thanks to multiple unforced errors from Spain. However, Spanish hope was rekindled when Garrigues forced an error from Kuznetsova to level things at 3-3. Yet, with a sensational drop shot Kuznetsova got the break right back 4-3. Eventually, Kuznetsova hung on to serve out the match with a strong game and clinched another Federation trophy for Russia 6-4.

The fourth rubber featuring doubles play was a technicality. Once again, the Russian team mowed over its Spanish counterpart, who looked out of sorts, with crisp volleys and strong groundstrokes 6-2, 6-1. This represents Russia’s fourth title in five years.

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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