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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jurgen Melzer Wins the Vienna Open

Jurgen Melzer won a hard-fought final against compatriot, Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-7(10), 7-6(4), 6-4 to defend his Vienna Open title!  This also improves his chances to join the elite eight in London in a few weeks time. 

Haider-Maurer was actually winnin the match at 7-6 5-3, but inexperience and nerves got the best of him, and he eventually lost momentum and gave the match to Melzer.

This has been a very good year for Jurgen and we will know tomorrow if he enters the Top 10 for the first time.

Kim Clijsters: The Queen of the WTA Tour 2010

Caroline Wozniacki may be the #1 player in the WTA Tour nowadays, but Kim Clijsters is the queen of the WTA Tour Championships in Doha, as she defeated Caroline 63 57 63.  This is her third championships title, winning in 2002 and 2003.  This is a fantastic end to 2010 for Kim, as she also won the US Open title a few months back.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Prediction Time: St. Petersburg, Vienna and Montpellier

The Montpellier final should be the most closely fought among the three.  Gael Monfils (#15) will have to defeat wily veteran Ivan Ljubicic (#17).  Both are playing really well, and Ljubicic has a good chance of wresting this title from Gael.  But I'm going for Gael because the home crowd should be rooting for him!

It's going to be an all-Austrian final in Vienna - I think the first time this year where both finalists came from the same country of the host tournament.  I could be mistaken though.  I remember Isner and Querrey fighting in an earlier final but I don't know if it was an American tournament.  Both, I'm sure, are very hungry to win in their home court. So even if Maurer ranks #157, that should not stop him from winning the title.  The home court cheers should be very loud!! However, Jurgen should win this easily.  A championship win here should help him edge ever so closely at the Top 10!!

Finally, in St. Petersburg, it's a battle between two Mikhails - Youzhny and Kukushkin.  Mikhail Youzhny should win, especially that he has the home crowd cheering for him.  Kukushkin from Kazakhstan, is an unknown entity, even for me, and he's just ranked #88, so I place all my bets at Youzhny. 

If all three guys win - this would be the first time I've seen all tournament winners of a given week have winners comng from the host country.  Let's see if it happens!

Prediction Time: Who Is Going to be the Queen of Doha?

It's Caroline versus Kim in this year's WTA Championships!  The head-to-head shows that Kim is in the lead 1-0.  I am rooting for Kim!  I've always been a big fan of hers!  She defeated Caroline in the US Open last year but this year Caroline is the number one player in the world, and you can just feel that she's raring to win this trophy and prove to everyone, that she really deserves the trophy - and that #1 ranking!  As for Kim, it would also be a first championship for her - and a belated one at that! Go Kim!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Prediction Time: 2010 WTA Tour Championships

It's prediction time again as this year's WTA Tour Championship reaches the semi-finals stage.  At this point, it's Kim Clijsters vs. Samantha Stosur in the Maroon Group and Caroline Wozniacki vs. Vera Zvonareva on the White Group.

It's a tough call at this point but I would pick Samantha Stosur vs. Vera Zvonareva.  Both Sam and Vera are riding a crest of confidence right now, and they both have the weapons to cause an upset in both their semi's. 

Still Reeling from Elena's Announcement of Her Retirement

After her fantastic win over Samantha Stosur yesterday, there was really no indication that Elena would announce her retirement the day after that!  She had no major injuries (although she suddenly withdrew from the French Open semi's) and she hasn't announced any plans to marry (that I've heard of).  And she's back in the Top 10 after missing it for a few weeks this year!  So to suddenly announce her retirement was a complete shock!

Anyhow, she did give us, her fans, a lot to remember her by.  I 'discovered' her in 2003, while I was in Oslo.  In Europe, they have a channel just for tennis.  We don't have that in the Philippines.  We didn't even get full coverage of the French Open till about 2005!  Anyhow, I think the tournament was in Filderstadt and I saw her play.  And her name stuck with me.  There was something in the way she played that attracted me to her. 

Then, in 2004, she reached the semi's of the US Open, and she was playing against Mauresmo.  It was a ridiculously funny match because, here she was, her serve was barely going in, but Mauresmo, who is normally, a smart player, was just wilting from the heat!!  All the commentators were shocked because Dementieva's serve was deserting her, but she was pounding Mauresmo out of the court with her forehands!  That's when I became a real of fan of hers. I was thinking, how could this player, with such a glaring weakness, reach a final of a Grand Slam!  And it was her second final for that year!!  I started cheering for her after that! 

I guess I love tennis players with flaws and weaknesses.  Remember, this was those years when the Williamses were just overpowering and were unstoppable.  She reminded me of Martina Hingis, who is also not a power player, but who just used her cunning to win games.  Elena was not popular for her cunning, she was popular for fighting, point by point!

My most memorable moment of hers was the 2009 semi-final with Serena Williams.  That was probably, the most memorable match for me in Wimbledon history - aside from Marion Bartoli, defeating Justine Henin, I think 2 years before.  I love underdogs!  I am a Filipino!!  I love that match!!! Serena was a tigress - and she always is - she never gives you a freebie - to defeat her in a Grand Slam - you have to eat her alive!!  Elena lost but the level of that game was so high - it was like watching a Federer - Nadal final!!  It was a beautiful spectacle of women's tennis!! Athletic, powerful shots, never-say-die rallies, and it was a cliffhanger till the end!! I think it almost reached 3 hours - which is rare in the women's game!

Oh well, I will miss her badly.  The truth is, there are only two celebrities that I really care for in this world - translation - I would cry if they die!  Madonna and Elena.  They're two women who have inspired me greatly in my life.  Today is a bit of a death, but thankfully, not physically.  But life goes on, and I'm sure I'll find somebody new.  Thanks Elena for all the good memories and I wish you well!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Long Lost Sisters: Caroline Wozniacki and Taylor Swift

They could've been sisters!  I know Caroline's picture here may be Photoshopped since when I see her on TV playing, she looks a little more plump, but they say, the TV makes you bigger by 30%, so I'm sure she's really not that big in person.  But who cares?  They're both queens in their respective fields.  They have broken records and won awards.  They're the new frontier in music and tennis respectively, and if you take a swift look, you might think, they're twins separated at birth!! Now, the hypothetical question is, who came out first - Caroline maybe?  I don't want to be on Taylor's bad side!!  What!! She's singing about me!!
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Three Reasons Why I Could Identify With Elena Dementieva

Undeniably, she's one of the few female players right now who are due to win a Grand Slam title.  If Francesca Schiavone can do it, so can she! But a Grand Slam title has been elusive for her but I believe, in due time, when all the stars align, it will come to her!

She also happens to be my most favorite active tennis player today, male or female.  I follow her closely during Grand Slams.  I've seen her play live already in Wimbledon and I always root for her!  However, she has some weaknesses as a tennis player, like her famous serve, which might be her letdown.  Even then, I like her very much!  Here are three reasons why I can identify with her:

1.  All of us have weaknesses, and no matter how hard we try to improve on them, that weakness will never become our greatest strength.  It will still be ordinary compared to others.  Elena has admitted that her serve has let her down many times, but she said, she still stays in the game, fighting for every point.  I like a fighter who knows that even if her game is not like Serena Williams, she believes she has the ability to win over Serena. So in my life, I stay being a fighter, even if my weaknesses can make me stumble from time to time. 

2. Focus on your strengths.  Elena's strength is her powerful groundstrokes.  I've observed that even if her serve is faltering, her groundstrokes stay solid.  I do that too!  I concentrate on my strengths and even if my weaknesses are getting me down, I know my strengths can get me through the tough challenge I am facing.

3.  I love her consistency.  It's not easy being in the Top 10 and stay there for weeks and weeks, especially, if your game has some weaknesses, like Elena's serve.  But she plays consistently enough to stay in the Top 10 for long periods of time - and I admire her for that.  Like Elena, I try to stay as consistently active in my life and achieve as much as I could!

Thanks Elena for the inspiration!  I do hope you win a Grand Slam soon!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ATP Tour Rankings Watch: October 25, 2010

Although he did not play this week, Andy Roddick rises one place to #9.  Victor Troicki, the Moscow Open champion, moves ten places to #33.  Florian Mayer, the runnerup in Stockholm, moves from #47 to #40.  Alexandr Dolgopolov, a quarterfinalist in Moscow, moves from #56 to #49.

Horacio Zeballos, a quarterfinalist in Moscow, moves twelve place from #89 to #77.  Fabio Fognini moves from #70 to #62.  Finally, Rui Machado of Portugal, enters the Top 100 from #106 to #95.

WTA Rankings Watch - October 25, 2010

Vera Zvonareva ascends to #2 in the world this week.  This becomes her highest rank ever in the WTA Tour.  Kim Clijsters also rises one place to #4 along with Samantha Stosur who rises one place to #7.

In the Top 50, Maria Kirilenko moves from #24 to #19, after being a finalist in the Moscow Open.  Roberta Vinci, the champion in Luxembourg, moves from #45 to #38. Angelique Kerber of Germany enters the Top 50, moving from #52 to #46.

In the Top 100, Anna Chakvetadze is the biggest mover, going from #68 to #57.  She was a quarterfinalist in Moscow.  Iveta Benesova moves from #66 to #61.  She's also a quarterfinalist in Luxembourg.  Finally, Elena Vesnina moved from #55 to #51.  She reached the second round in Moscow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moscow Open 2010 Champion: Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka (#10) of Belarus wins her second WTA Tour title this year at the Moscow Open.  She also won the Stanford title earlier this year. This victory should give her confidence as she joins the year-end championships in Doha this coming week.  This was Victoria's path to the championship -

Finals - Maria Kirilenko (#24) 6-3, 6-4
SFs - Maria Jose Martinez (#28) 6-3, 6-3
QFs - Alisa Kleybanova (#27) 6-1, 6-3
2R - Andrea Petkovic (#32) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
1R - BYE

Luxembourg Open 2010: Roberta Vinci

Roberta Vinci (#45) of Italy wins her 3rd WTA Tour title at the Luxembourg Open today.  She becomes the third Italian this year to post a championship victory at the tour aside from Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.  This was Roberta's path to the championship -

Finals - Julia Goerges (GER) (#44) 6-3, 6-4
SFs - Anne Keothavong (GBR) (#143) 6-4, 6-2
QFs - Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) (#74) 7-6, 6-1
2R - Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) (#57) 7-6, 4-6, 7-6
1R - Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) (#54) 6-4, 7-6

Moscow Open 2010 Champion: Victor Troicki

Victor Troicki (#43) of Serbia wins his first ATP title today at the Moscow Open and he was very happy about it because his Dad is Russian.  He was not among the picks to win this title but several convincing wins over players ranked higher than him has certainly helped.  This was Victor's path to the championship -

Finals - Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) (#19) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
SFs - Pablo Cuevas (URU) (#71) 6-3, 6-3
QFs - Horacio Zeballos (ARG) (#89) 6-2, 6-1
2R - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) (#13) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
1R - Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) (#262) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3

Stockholm Open 2010 Champion: Roger Federer

Roger Federer wins his 64th ATP title today in the Stockholm Open, tying Pete Sampras.  They now both rest at fourth place in the all-time list.  This is a good win for Roger, since he barely had rest, flying last week from Shanghai where he finished runner-up.  So to win it is testament to his ability to play through jet lag and through the crazy scheduling of men's tennis.  This is Roger's path to the championship -

Finals - Florian Mayer (GER) (#47) 6-4, 6-3
SFs -  Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) (#17) 7-6, 6-2
QFs - Stanislas Wawrinka (#21) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
2R - Taylor Dent (USA) (#101) 6-1, 6-2
1R - BYE

Spotlight on Pablo Cuevas

Pablo Cuevas (#71) became the talk of Moscow this week as he slayed two players ranked much higher than him, allowing him to reach the semifinals, where he lost to Victor Troicki.  This performance here should propel his rank next week.  This week, Cuevas won over Nikolay Davydenko and Radek Stepanek, both very experienced veterans of the tour and former Top 10 players.

PREDICTION TIME: Moscow Cup - Marcos Baghdatis vs. Victor Troicki

It's great to see Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (#19) again in a final, and this time, at the Moscow Open.  He struggled though to get there, having to fight Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, two and a half hours to get there.  If he does not have enough gas anymore in the final tomorrow, Victor Troicki (#43) of Serbia would most likely win the championship. I am actually rooting for Victor since his performance here has been very good!  He had a tough match with Tsonga in the second round, and that victory carries him all the way to the final, and the possible trophy tomorrow!  And he had a quick match today against giant killer Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, so he has still enough gas in the tank for the finals tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Prediction Time: Stockholm Open - Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Florian Mayer (GER)

On paper, Roger Federer really has the advantages and I think he's going to win this in two sets.  However, Florian is no pushover, since he took care of Robin Soderling in the quarters.  However, he had a three setter with Nieminen in the semi's so he might not have enough has on his tank to fight Federer.  Anyhow, I hope it's a competitive match!

Prediction Time: Moscow Open - Maria Kirilenko (RUS) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

The home crowd will definitely be rooting for Maria but Victoria is a Top 10 player and has enough weapons to cause some trouble for Maria.  Victoria is ranked #10 while Maria is ranked #24.  Both are also playing very well.  Maria had a double bagel, while Victoria, although she had a minor hiccup in the her match with Petkovic, is looking strong.  I will go for Maria Kirilenko since I'm sure her home crowd will help her go against Victoria.  But it's definitely going to be a difficult match with 3 sets.

Prediction Time: Luxembourg 2010 Open - Julia Goerges (GER) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

They are both definitely surprise finalists.  Julia had to defeat Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals, the higher seed player she had to beat. Vinci, on the other hand, did not have to defeat a higher ranked player.  They're both ranked almost the same, Julia at #44, Vinci, one slot lower.  So on paper, this looks to be a very tight match. I'm going for Roberta Vinci though, since she only had one three-set match, while Julia had two. If Julia has no more gas on her tank, then, Roberta has a clear chance of winning the title.  Roberta, on the other hand, did not have to defeat a higher-ranked player to get to the finals, so she may still be needing some competition to sharpen herself. 
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ATP Rankings Watch: October 18, 2010

There's a lot of movement within the Top 10 this week.  Roger Federer returns to the #2 position (where he should really be!).  Spanish players Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer moves two places to #7 and #8 respectively.  Now there are three Spanish players in the Top 10!  Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick move up one notch to #6 and #10 respectively.

Outside the Top 10, the biggest mover is Juan Monaco of Argentina, a semifinalist in Shanghai, moving fifteen places to #26.  Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, a quarterfinalist in Shanghai, moves a further 6 notches to #29 this week.  He's now within the seeded player rankings needed for a Grand Slam.

Further down, Tobias Kamke of Germany moves sixteen places to #72.

Monday, October 18, 2010

WTA Rankings Watch: October 18, 2010

The victors in both Linz and Osaka made upward moves this week. 

First is Ana Ivanovic, this year's Linz titlist, moves three places to #26.  At least now she's in the seeded list, in time for the Australian Open next year. 

Andrea Petkovic, a semifinalist in Linz, moves four places to #32, also within striking distance of the seeded players for the a Grand Slam.

Patty Schnyder, a finalist in Linz, moves four places to #43.  Osaka finalist, Kimiko Date Krumm, moves eight places to #48.  Date Krumm is back in the Top 50 again, and at the age of 40, at that!  Impressive! 

In the Top 100, Osaka champion, Tamarine Tanasugarn, moves 32 places up to #62.  She's the biggest mover this week in the WTA rankings.  Finally, Simona Halep of Romania move fourteen places to #82, most likely due to an ITF championship.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tanasugarn Wins the Osaka Open's Battle of the Veterans

In a match between two veterans, dubbed as the 'oldest' finals in WTA history, Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand wins over Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan.  The Thai and Japanese #1's have the combined ages of 73.  Date Krumm was trying to break the record set by Billie Jean King, who is the oldest person to win a WTA title, a Birmingham title when she was 39, way back in 1983.

This was Tamarine's path to the championship -

Finals - Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) (#56) 7-5, 6-7, 6-1
SFs - Marion Bartoli (FRA) (#16) 6-2, 7-5
QFs - Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) (#81) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
2R - Coco Vandeweghe (USA) (#119) 5-7, 7-5, 6-4
1R - Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) (#99) 6-2, 7-5

Tennis Glamour Girl Ana Ivanovic Wins Her First Title in Two Years at Linz

In a very quick final, Ana Ivanovic stormed to her ninth career title - and first in two years - at the Generali Ladies Linz, crushing Patty Schnyder in just 47 minutes, 61 62.  Her head-to-head now with Schnyder is 5-4.

"Patty's always a tough opponent and I didn't expect this kind of scoreline," Ivanovic said afterwards. "I had confidence from my last few matches and that helped me stay aggressive today. I took a lot of risks and stepped in a lot. I believed in my shots and made them count, and I'm very pleased with that."

"She was playing well from the start, taking the ball so early - not even hitting winners all the time, but hitting it so early," Schnyder said. "She knew what she was doing on every shot and she can beat anybody if she plays like that. I needed some help but there wasn't really a lot of help for me out there."

Interestingly, Ivanovic was a wildcard in this tournament, receiving a call the day before main draw play started after the late withdrawal of Serena Williams, who was to be the No.1 seed. The late arrival didn't hold her back.

"It's just amazing how some things turn out," Ivanovic said. "When I got the call I was really excited because I felt I was playing well, and I was excited to play more matches. This is my first title since I won here in 2008, so it's very special. I feel very good here and am really happy to have come back this week."

This was Ana's path to the championship -

Finals - Patty Schnyder (#47) (SUI) 6-1, 6-2
SFs - Roberta Vinci (#46) (ITA) 6-3, 7-5
QFs - Julia Goerges (#43) (GER) 7-6, 6-2
2R - Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (#58) (CZE) 6-3, 6-2
1R - Sorana Cirstea (#97) (ROU) 6-2, 6-0

Andy Murray Thrashes Roger Federer in Today's Shanghai Masters Final

Andy Murray thrashed former world number one Roger Federer 6-3 6-2 in the final of the Shanghai Masters. It shows that Murray has the potential to achieve greater success in the Grand Slams next year.  Murray also now holds an 8-5 head-to-head over Federer

"I played some of my best tennis," said Murray. "You always have to do that to beat Roger, which I did. I managed to do that most of the week."   Murray's court coverage was outstanding throughout the final, but so was his resolve as he faced six break points and saved them all with some fine second serves.

"Andy had an outstanding tournament," said the always magnanimous Federer. "I thought Andy played great today. He didn't give me many chances."

Federer is set to move up to second in the world after his run to the final, but he was second best to Murray on this occasion.

This was Andy's run to the championship -

Finals - Roger Federer (#3) (SUI) 6-3, 6-2
SFs - Juan Monaco (#41) (ARG) 6-4, 6-1
QFs - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (#13) (FRA) 6-2, 6-2
3R - Jeremy Chardy (#59) (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
2R - Yan Bai (#465) (CHN) 6-2, 6-2
1R - BYE

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prediction Time: Osaka Open and the Shanghai Masters

Shanghai Masters

I want Roger to win this one and I think he can achieve that.  Although this year has been a bit difficult for him I still believe he has the chops to land another title (this would be his 18th, if he's successful), and a Master's one at that!  Andy Murray has also been playing impressively in this tournament, and he holds a 7-5 head-to-head lead over Roger.  So I think it's going to be an interesting match because the man who wants it most will definitely win!

Osaka Open

It's rare for two veterans over the age of 35 to meet in a final of a WTA Tour. But it's possible, and this week, it happens!  Tamarine Tanasugarn is 35 years old.  Kimiko Date Krumm is 40.  Physically, I think Tamarine has the edge because her matches have been considerably shorter while Kimiko had to slug out three long sets to defeat both Shahar Peer and Samantha Stosur.  However, if Kimiko still has some has some gas left, she should be able to tame Tamarine.  So, it's going to be a very interesting match tomorrow - a virtual slugfest!