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Monday, August 30, 2010

US OPEN 2010: Who's Going to Be the Queen of Flushing Meadows?

It's semi-finals day for the women's side in this year's US Open and in about 3 hours, 2 women are going to the finals to finally decide, who of these four elite women, is going to be crowned "Queen of Flushing Meadows"!  It's going to be a battle between two former champions, and two ascendant players.  Quite an interesting match up on both sides of the draw!

Kim Clijsters.  She's the defending champion, and she's gunning for her 3rd US Open title.  Can she do it?  Well, tonight, she has to defeat Venus Williams again just to have that chance!  She ousted Venus last year in the 4th round in a bizzare match, where both of them were double-bageled!  This year, they meet in the semi's.  From what I have seen, Kim has a slight edge over Venus but the truth is, the player who can make the best effort in the crucial points is going to take this.  Expect a nailbiter!

Venus Williams. Another US Open champion for 2000 and 2001, Venus is gunning for a 3rd title this year.  She's playing well and has been able to trip her earlier opponents with her powerful serve and her aggressive groundstrokes.  For her to win over Kim, it's important that she counters Kim's quickness in the court and give proper placement to her her returns and groundstrokes.

Caroline Wozniacki.  I'd love to see her win this title because she deserves it. She has been playing very well this hard court season and the way she handled her opponents was very, very impressive.  Curiously, her opponent in the semi's is someone she has already defeated earlier in Montreal.  Wozniacki has really been fearless in all her matches and it's truly impressive to see her.  She was a finalist here last year and I think this year, Caroline can really go one step further and become the Queen of Flushing Meadows.  That would really be a treat to see!

Vera Zvonareva.  It's wonderful to see Vera bloom this year, first with a finals appearance in Wimbledon, and now, another chance to make a finals appearance here in Flushing Meadows.  She has to up her game a bit though as Wozniacki is playing superbly!  One thing working for Vera though is her calm demeanor in the court.  She does not have those famous meltdowns anymore and just calmly does her business even when she is behind.  It's going to be interesting how she's going to deal with Caroline's perfect playing!

US OPEN TENNIS 2010: Who's Going to be the King of Flushing Meadows?

It's now down to the final four in this year's US Open and the four knights in shining armor to have a chance at the title are Rafael Nadal (#1) Roger Federer (#2), Novak Djokovic (#3) and Mikhail Youzhny (#14). 

Novak Djokovic.  He reaches his second straight Grand Slam semi-final this year.  He lost his semi-final match at Wimbledon to Berdych.  This time, he faces a very daunting task, that of defeating Roger Federer to get a slot in the final.  Novak has had a very solid year, reaching the quarters of both the French and the Australian Open.  It is still possible for him to win the title but he may have to play his A++ game each time, in the semis with Federer and most likely, Nadal in the finals.

Roger Federer.  Five time US Open champion.  A finalist last year but lost to Del Potro.  Could this be his 17th Grand Slam title.  Gauging from his play against Soderling, yup, he has a very good chance, because he's such a clever fellow.  Against the elements, he used his head to counter the wind, that was causing problems for everyone.  Also, he has so much experience at this top level, it could be his title to lose.

Rafael Nadal.  Six Spanish men made it to the Round of 16.  Very impressive.  However, the only one left to carry the country's flag, is no one else but that country's best player - Rafael Nadal.  Among this bunch, Rafa is the hungriest, since he really wants to complete his Slam slate with a US Open title.  This year is a good one to achieve it since he will meet Youzhny in the semi's, which he should handle easily, and maybe proceed to fight the title against Federer. That promises to be a crackerjack of a game!  He has a good chance of winning this title.  Bottom line now is who is hungrier to get this title - him or Roger?

Mikhail Youzhny.  He was a semifinalist here in 2006 and has returned this year, after he beat Wawrinka.  I think, based on how Nadal is playing, he will easily be demolished by Rafa. But still, he has a chance of making the Top 10 with this achievement.  He has some weapons to run down Rafa but in this tournament, Rafa has been very very solid.

WTA Player of the Week (August 30, 2010): Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki can't seem to do no wrong this summer hardcourt season. She wins New Haven this week by defeating Russian Nadia Petrova.  However, I think she has been playing too much tennis this month and should be taxed physically when she plays this week in the US Open.  Her first three opponents does not look to be too daunting but she may possibly face Sharapova and Kuznetsova so I hope she does get some rest.  Anyhow, she is young still, so she should be able to recuperate faster!  She's the #1 seed in the US Open so the pressure to perform is really on her!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

US Open Tennis 2010 - Day 1

Day One is usually like a circus since half of the participants in both the men's and women's singles will be playing.  Also, since it's the first round, there won't be that many intriguing match-ups since at this stage, it would usually involve one player in the elite and another one in the coming-up section of the list. 

The following are the matches I will be looking out for later today.

Elena is my favorite player so I am eagerly awaiting her match later.  Her opponent is Belorussian Olga Govortsova, whom I am not quite familiar with.  I have placed both their pictures here so you can get to know them.  I don't know much about Govortsova and I checked in my ledger that she did not perform too well in this year's hard court season.  I think Elena should win this in 2 sets.

2.  Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v. Dinara Safina (RUS)

I don't know who's more unlucky of the two but I'm sure both of them don't want to meet each other at the first round of a Grand Slam!  Both are very talented and have some form of Grand Slam pedigree.  Anyhow, it's Safina who has really fallen out of form and is already out of the Top 50 .  Hantuchova has been more consistent.  However, Safina has been finding a bit of her former form recently so this should be quite a contest.  Hantuchova lost to Safina last week in New Haven and should be raring for a revenge match.  This is her chance to avenge her loss!

3. Melanie Oudin (USA) v. Olga Savchuk (UKR)

Last year's golden girl Melanie Oudin hopes to get more scalps this year and push deeper into her draw.  I want to see if she still has the golden touch this time around.  However, she should be able to take care of Olga Savchuk.

I am still curious how Ana Ivanovic is playing.  She did reach the semi's in Cincinnati, losing to Clijsters, so I'm curious if she can still retain that form.  Makarova just broke into the Top 100 this year and is on a roll.  However, her hard court season has been so-so, so Ivanovic should win over her in 2 sets.

5. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)

This is one of the men's matches that I'm interested in since both are very competent players.  Lleyton's star may have faded a bit but he can still beat most of the players in the Top 100.  Paul-Henri Mathieu is another competent player who can make life hard for Lleyton.  Let's see how this pans out.  Most likely a five-setter.

5. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) v. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)

Jurgen has been on a roll this year, reaching the semi's of the French Open. This is a match I'm interested in since both of these players are very good and I'm sure, won't be too lopsided.  I haven't heard much from Tursunov this hard court season though.  Jurgen should win this in four sets.
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ATP Player of the Week - Sergiy Stakhovsky

Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, ranked # 47, is our Player of the Week, because he won New Haven last weekend, beating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, ranked # 46.  This was his 4th ATP title. I hope he does well in the US Open since he's so talented. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fearless Forecast - US Open 2010 Women's Singles

Serena and Justine have withdrawn from the event but the field still looks very crowded!  Without looking at the draws, Clijsters and Wozniacki look like the women most likely to lift the trophy, with Sharapova and Kuznetsova on the second tier.  However, the draw changes the mix a bit.  Here is my analysis per section of the draw:

Upper First Half:

This is the most crowded part of the draw and this is where 3 of my bets to lift trophy are situated in!  Wozniacki, deservedly the #1 seed, has her hands full since this section of the draw has so many Russians in it.  Although not quite the force they were years ago, there is usually one of them who gets deep into the Slams, and I won't be surprised if one of them goes the distance again.  On paper, Wozniacki may have to defeat three very feisty Russians just to get to the final, Sharapova first, then Kuznetsova in the QFs, then Zvonareva in the semi's before possibly meeting Clijsters in the final. Tough tough draw for her!  Li Na is also in her side of the draw, and she has been performing consistently in all the slams and might meet Caroline in the quarters too.  Wozniacki really has to prove that she is the number one seed in this event!!

Lower First Half

This section of the draw can produce a surprise semi-finalist since both Jankovic and Zvonareva have histories of being erratic players.  But still, I will pick Zvonareva to top this draw since she did well in Montreal, where she lost the final to Caroline.  She may have to beat Radwanska and Wickmayer, both competent players, just to reach the semi's.  Kanepi should be able to handle Jankovic, and if not, there's Wickmayer, so I doubt if Jelena can go deep this time.  Petrova is another dangerous floater and may also meet Zvonareva.  Radwanska is the dark horse in this section but she still has to prove herself in the slams, but this is a good chance for her!

Semi-final pick Upper Draw: Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Vera Zvonareva (RUS)

Upper Lower Half

In my opinion, the weakest section of the draw for this slam and can possibly produce a surprise semi-finalist.  I am picking Victoria Azarenka to top this draw but she has no Slam pedigree yet except for I think, two QFs.  Venus is in this section but she has been absent this hard court season AND Pironkova is in her section of the draw!  The only woman to defeat her twice in a Grand Slam!  Will Tszvetana go for 3-0?  We'll see. Battle lines on paper are drawn on the 3rd round.  Oudin, Schiavone, Pavlyuchenkova and Pennetta are some dark horses too but except for Schiavone, none of them have Slam pedigree, and this is not clay.  If Venus wins over Pironkova, she could meet Azarenka in the quarters, but I think Victoria is already hungry for some Grand Slam honors.

Lower Second Half

Clijsters is my heavy favorite in this section of the draw but there are many dangerous floaters around, but are not quite playing well this hard court season.  Dementieva may reach the quarters if she handles Stosur, since this is not clay anymore.  Safina too who is making a slow comeback can reach the quarters.  Clijsters may have to beat either Ivanovic or Bartoli to reach her quarters.  She also has Wozniak and Kvitova in her section of the draw so it's not going to be easy for her too, although a much easier set of opponents than Caroline. 

Lower Half Semi-Final Picks:  Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)

On Elena Dementieva

My favorite player, Elena Dementieva is luckily given a manageable draw this time.  She should handle Bammer fine, and since Safina is erratic, she may go through her.  Stosur is her main opponent in her section of the draw and has defeated her on clay, but this is the hard court and both have not been playing really well this season.  Still, Elena has more Slam experience, especially here in the US Open.  Can she reach the semi's?  Well, Clijsters had some form of injury in Montreal and it's still fresh, but Kim is a fighter so Elena has to really slug it out just to reach the semi's this time.

My Pick for the Final: Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)

Caroline has had a very strong hard court season and should win this handily.  But I think she is playing too much and may not have enough gas to last the two weeks!  She is even playing this week again in New Haven!  She doesn't want to rest, I think!  She has been playing the last three weeks, prior to the US Open.  What else does she want to prove?  My sentimental favorite is Kim who has a chance to defend her title, since Serena is not around.  I hope she does.  She is a feisty player and come back even when she's down. And she can take advantage of Caroline, being tired, since this is already the second week of the Slams.

Of course, anything can happen, and gauging from the Slams this year, there is usually two surprise semi-finalists who break out, and I hope it also happens here in Flushing Meadows!

Fearless Forecast: US Open 2010 Men's Singles

Although the last of the Slams, this version of the US Open promises to be the most potent since the top 4: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray are all in top form.  Throw in some dangerous floaters in the second tier - Fish, Baghdatis and Nalbandian, all performed well this hard court season, and you have a men's draw that is very exciting.  Let's see how this pans out in the draw:

I would say, this is the most even men's draw I've seen in years!  Very balanced with each section of the draw having the right mix.  However, this makes the appearance of a surprise semi-finalist more difficult.

Upper First Half

Nadal is the top seed and may cruise easily to the semi's.  His only stumbling block, the returning David Nalbandian.  It really depends on how Nalbandian plays that day, since when he's good, he can be devastating.  But I'd still pick Nadal to top this draw, easily.  He has some worthy opponents along the way - Istomin, Kohlschreiber, Lopez - not quite a walk in the park but manageable.  Nalbandian has lost only to the Top 4 this hard court season but may have to handle Verdasco and Gulbis to reach the quarters.  Nalbandian though, has more Grand Slam pedigree than the two, so should cruise to the quarters with his current brand of play.

Lower First Half

Two worthy American players in this section can stop a Murray-Berdych quarterfinal.  Murray is playing really well and should reach the semi's but may have to beat Querrey and Lu to get there.  Berdych has Hanescu and Stepanek to handle and may have to beat Isner to reach his semi's.  It would be exciting see how the raucous American crowd is going to cheer for Querrey and Isner.  They would really have to be at the top of their game though, to defeat both Europeans, but not an impossible job knowing the home crowd is on their side.  A Querrey-Isner quarterfinal is just as exciting since it may put an American in the semifinal in the upper half of the draw.

Upper Half Semi-Final Picks:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Upper Second Half 

The Americans should also do well in this section of the draw.  The two men stopping them are two competent Europeans with US Open pedigrees - Davydenko and Djokovic.  The two Americans blocking their way are Roddick and Fish.  Although Roddick did not play so well this hard court season, he should be able to handle Davydenko.  In-form Fish, should bring it to Djokovic, with the help of the local crowd.  A Roddick-Fish quarterfinal is not impossible.

Lower Second Half

Federer should handle his section of the draw well.  He may have to face two former Grand Slam champions along the way - Hewitt and Ferrero.  His main opponent is Cilic in the quarters, but the latter has no Grand Slam pedigree yet so Federer should prevail easily.  Cilic's main opponent is Soderling but Cilic has played well this hard court season and should be able to win over Soderling.

Lower Half Semi-finals Pick:  Mardy Fish (USA) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)

Finals Pick: Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)

Both hoisted trophies this hard court season so are my top picks to make it to the finals.  It would be easy to surmise that Roger is going to get his sixth US Open title but I'm sure Andy is already hungry for a Grand Slam trophy, and is in-form to win his first.  Federer's Grand Slam finals record is impressive and has five US Open trophies at that, so he has a most likely chance to win this, so Andy has his job cut out for him.  This time though, Andy has the stamina, mental strength and experience to do it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ATP Player of the Week: David Nalbandian

I've always been a big fan of David Nalbandian and I am so happy to see him back, making inroads again into the elite world of men's tennis.  He's currently ranked at # 45 and should be one of the dangerous floaters to watch out for soon as the US Open draws are released.  He also just won the Legg Mason Tennis Classic Championship in Washington DC, beating Marcos Baghdatis.  I would put him in the second tier of guys who have a chance at lifting this year's US Open trophy.  His hard rock season has just really been solid!  Losing both to Murray and Djokovic, both in the Top 4 at the moment, but has defeated most everyone else, so it's a good sign that he can go deep in this year's US Open.  Vamos, David!

WTA Player of the Week (August 23, 2010): Kim Clijsters

I am so happy to see Kim in good form again just a week before the US Open, although I admit, her ankle injury and loss to Zvonareva in Montreal a little bit of a worry.  Anyhow, I chose her as this week's player to watch since she handily defeated Maria Sharapova in this week's Cincinnati Open!  Never easy to defeat Maria but Kim really did well in coming back to win the title.  She is still one of my favorites to win this year's US Open titel though.