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Monday, January 31, 2011

WTA Rankings Watch: January 31, 2011

There is a lot of movement within the rankings this week, due mainly to the big points that are usually awarded during a Grand Slam.

Because of their impressive performances in the just concluded Australian Open, Kim Clijsters, Francesca Schiavone and Li Na, make strides in the Top 10 of women's tennis.  Kim edges to #2, while Francesa moves up to #4, her highest position ever!  Li Na blasts into the Top 10 at #7, also her highest rank, ever!  Finally, Agnieszka Radwanska reenters the Top 10, at #10.

Within the Top 20, Maria Sharapova, moves three places to #13, Flavia Pennetta blasts from #25 to #16, while Petra Kvitova muscles in from #28 to #18.

Within the Top 100, Channelle Scheepers moves from #107 to #80, Rebecca Marino from #104 to #84 and Anne Keothavong from #118 to #91.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

David Ferrer - Semifinalist - Australian Open 2011

David Ferrer has finally reached a semifinal of a Grand Slam and it happens here in this year's Australian Open, after his drubbing of World  #1 Rafael Nadal in the quarters.  This was his path to the semi-finas -

SF - lost to Andy Murray (GBR) (#5) 64 67(2) 16 67(2)
QF - Rafael Nadal (ESP) (#1) 64 62 63
4R - Milos Raonic (CAN) (#152) 46 62 63 64
3R - Richard Berankis (LTU) (#95) 62 62 61
2R - Michael Russell (USA) (#100) 60 61 75
1R - Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) (#40) 64 63 16 62

Andy Murray - Runner-up - Australian Open 2011

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is already in his third Grand Slam final, but still no nearer in finally snaring one.  A finalist here also last year, Murray's performance this year was even more disastrous, with a scoreline that showed no indication that it was a close fight!  I just hope it does not affect him very much so that he can continue to perform well throughout these next few tournaments.  Murray lost to Djokovic in the finals.  Below was his path to the finals -

F - lost to Novak Djokovic (SRB) (#3) 46 26 36
SF - David Ferrer (ESP) (#7) 46 76 (2) 61 76 (2)
QF - Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) (#46) 75 63 67(3) 63
4R - Jurgen Melzer (AUT) (#11) 63 61 61
3R - Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) (#32) 61 61 62
2R - Ilya Marchenko (UKR) (#79) 61 63 63
1R - Karol Beck (SVK) (#101) 63 61 62

Novak Djokovic - Champion - Australian Open 2011

Novak Djokovic and team

Novak Djokovic seizes his second Australian Open title with a commanding victory over Andy Murray.  Djokovic has been on a roll since his US Open final appearance last year and the Davis Cup victory of his country, Serbia, right after that.  His performance this fortnight has been full of flawless play and aggressive drive wherein he defeated such top class players like Federer, Berdych, Murray, Almagro and Troicki in only three sets!  Below was his path to the championship -

F - Andy Murray (GBR) (#5) 64 62 63
SF - Roger Federer (SUI) (#2) 76(3) 75 64
QF - Tomas Berdych (CZE) (#6) 61 75(6) 61
4R - Nicolas Almagro (ESP) (#14) 63 64 60
3R - Viktor Troicki (SRB) (#27) 62 Retd
2R - Ivan Dodig (CRO) (#81) 75 67(8) 60 62
1R - Marcel Granollers (#42) 61 63 61

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Revisiting Todd Woodbridge at the Australian Open 2011

I used to have a huge crush on Todd Woodbridge when I was younger, and even now, ten years later, he is still as cute as ever! Watch this hilarious interview though, he had earlier last week, in one of Kim Clijster's victories. Kim's disarming honesty really floors Todd! You could really see that the two are really close in their body language and the way they talk to each other.

Vera Zvonareva - Semifinalist - Australian Open 2011

Vera reached the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open last year, and almost reached the finals of the Australian Open this year.  Kim Clijsters stopped her this time around in the semfinals.  Vera has been going about her business quietly this fortnight and should continue to challenge for a Grand Slam title this year.  This was her path to the semifinals -

SF - lost to Kim Clijsters (BEL) (#3) 36 36
QF - Petra Kvitova (CZE) (#28) 62 64
4R - Iveta Benesova (CZE) (#60) 64 61
3R - Lucie Safarova (CZE) (#35) 63 76(9)
2R - Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) (#58) 26 63 61
1R - Sybille Bammer (AUT) (#70) 62 61

Li Na - Runner-up - Australian Open 2011

Li Na improved from her semi-final appearance last year, with a finals appearance this year.  She lost however, to Kim Clijsters.  Li, who endeared herself to the Australian Open audience this year, with her honest banters that dwelled on her love for shopping and her problems with her husband's snoring, encountered heightened aggression from Kim Clijsters, and was, in the end, unable to match the ferocious forehands unleashed by her opponent.  Anyhow, with her much improved play, it looks like it's going to be a busy year for Li, and we hopefully want to see her in other Grand Slam finals, as well.  This was her path to the finals -

F - lost to Kim Clijsters (BEL) (#3) 63 36 63
SF - Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) (#1) 36 75 63
QF - Andrea Petkovic (GER) (#33) 62 64
4R - Victoria Azarenka (BLR) (#9) 63 63
3R - Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) (#63) 62 61
2R - Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) (#108) 63 62
1R - Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) (#51) 61 75

Kim Clijsters - Champion - Australian Open 2011

Kim Clijsters wins

The dream of winning an Australian Open title finally happened to Kim Clijsters as she bravely fended off the fierce play of Li Na, the first Asian woman to make it to the finals of a Grand Slam.  Kim just played more aggressively as the game went on, further raising the level of her game.  This is Kim's fourth Grand Slam title, the other three, all US Open titles.  Below was her path to the championships -

F - Li Na (CHN) (#11) 36 63 63
SF - Vera Zvonareva (RUS) (#2) 63 63
QF - Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) (#14) 63 76(4)
4R - Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) (49) 76(3) 62
3R - Alize Cornet (FRA) (#83) 76(3) 63
2R - Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)  (#62) 61 63
1R - Dinara Safina (RUS) (#75) 60 60

With already four Grand Slam finals under her belt, Kim should now set her sights on the French Open and Wimbledon titles.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Semifinal Results

The winner of each semifina will compete in the finals. 
Semifinal 1

Serbia (Novak Djokovic, Jelena Jankovic) 0 win vs. USA (Andy Roddick, Serena Williams) 3 wins

Semifinal 2

Great Britain (Andy Murray, Elena Baltacha) 1 win vs. Sweden (Robin Soderling, Sofia Arvidsson) 2 wins


USA (Andy Roddick, Serena Williams) vs. Sweden (Robin Soderling, Sofia Arvidsson)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Quarterfinal Match-Ups

Semifinal 1

1.  Serbia (Novak Djokovic, Jelena Jankovic) vs. Czech Republic (Tomas Berdych, Lucie Safarova)
2.  Spain (Rafael Nadal, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez) vs. USA (Andy Roddick, Serena Williams)

Semifinal 2

1.  Switzerland (Roger Federer, Patty Schnyder) vs. Great Britain (Andy Murray, Elena Baltacha)
2.  Belgium (Xavier Malisse, Kim Clijsters) vs. Sweden (Robin Soderling, Sofia Arvidsson)

The winner of each group will compete in the semifinals. 

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Group D Action

Group D

Czech Republic - Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova
Italy - Potito Starace and Francesca Schiavone
Belgium - Xavier Malisse and Kim Clijsters
Kazakhstan - Andrey Golubev and Yaroslava Shvedova

Here are the results of Group D action -

Czech Republic - 5 wins
Italy - 3 wins
Belgium - 7 wins
Kazakhstan - 3 wins

*  Belgium (Malisse and Clijsters) and Czech Republic (Berdych and Safarova) go through to the semifinals.

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Group C Results

Group C

USA - Andy Roddick and Serena Williams
Switzerland - Roger Federer and Patty Schnyder
Australia - Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur
Argentina - Juan Monaco and Gisela Dulko

Here are the results of Group C action -

USA - 6 wins
Switzerland - 8 wins
Australia - 3 wins
Argentina - 1 win

* USA (Roddick and Serena Williams) and Switzerland (Federer and Schnyder) are off to the quarterfinals.

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Group A Results

Group A

Serbia - Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic
France - Gael Monfils and Marion Bartoli
Sweden - Robin Soderling and Sofia Arvidsson
Germany - Philipp Kohlschreiber and Andrea Petkovic

Here are the results for Group A

Serbia - 9 wins
France - 3 wins
Sweden - 5 wins
Germany - 1 win

*  Serbia (Djokovic and Jankovic) and Sweden (Soderling and Arvidsson) go through to the quarterfinals!

My Fantasy Pairs Tennis Championships 2011 - Group B Results

Group B

Russia - Mikhail Youzhny and Vera Zvonareva
Spain - Rafael Nadal and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez
Great Britain - Andy Murray and Elena Baltacha
Latvia - Ernests Gulbis and Anastasija Sevastova

Here are the results for the round robin competition of Group B.

Group B

Russia - 3 wins
Spain - 9 wins
Great Britain - 5 wins
Latvia - 1 wins

*  Spain (Nadal and Martinez Sanchez) and Great Britain (Murray and Baltacha) go through to the quarterfinals!

Nadal's Armani Campaign

Well, I'm taking a short break from writing about all these tennis stuff, but just for a few minutes.  I am showing here some pictures of Nadal's Armani jeans and underwear campaign.  Good choice!  Athletes really look better since their muscles and body shape have been molded by the sport they are playing. 

This photo of Nadal in Armani underwear is tres sexy!

The Quirky and Smart Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic Andrea Petkovic of Germany plays a backhand in her second round match against Alize Cornet of France during day three of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Andrea Petkovic

I know we don't normally equate German people with fun.  Even in tennis, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker were not really quirky people and frankly, you can really just count the times that they smile in their pictures.  So I was really surprised to find out that Andrea Petkovic was not only smart, she had her quirky ways herself. 

Anyway, a TV commentator suggested that we read her blog - now, I forget the link, but at that time that I read it, it was so funny!  I reckon she could be a TV writer!  A few tournaments later, I find her having her own Petko dance, which she does after every round of victory!  What a quirky way to celebrate a victory! 

She has shown some mettle in this Australian Open though, by reaching the quarterfinals, considering that she is only ranked in the 30s.  This good performance here bodes well for her ranking.  The way she plays, looks more like a Top 20 player really, so we hope to see more of her in the next Grand Slams.

Lovin' Li Na

This woman has an incredible sense of humor!  Since I grew up watching stern-faced champions like Steffi Graf and Justine Henin, or controversial ones like Martina Hingis or Serena Williams, I am really surprised to find out that there are funny and crazy tennis players out there!  In the men's side, Novak Djokovic is the first one that comes to mind - what with his imitating antics - which made him very popular years ago.  They are really hilarious to watch. 

As for Li Na, her post-match interviews this week have been peppered with lots of jokes her methods of motivation and how her husband snores and her love for shopping!  It's so refreshing to hear, especially that she makes those jokes just right after she won the match for that round!  If she can be funny under such duress, just imagine if she was really relaxed!  She must be a fun person to be with!  Anyhow, now I am a fan of hers and hopes she continues her dream run in this year's Australian Open.

I Am Beginning To Understand the Hype Behind Caroline Wozniacki

I, like many others, have been part of that doubting Thomases crowd, not really believing that Caroline Wozniacki actually deserves that #1 ranking.  Anyhow, since the ranking system is really based on the points won during the tour, we cannot argue against performance, even if those wins were in smaller tournaments compared to the Grand Slams - which are really like the Olympics of tennis. 

These past two weeks though, I have seen why Caroline is the #1 player in the world.  I believe that she will win a Grand Slam title soon and maybe a couple more.  At a very young age, she has already the mental toughness, the clever play and the array of shots needed to win a Grand Slam.  In this Australian Open though, she was thwarted by Li Na, who just really was more aggressive in the last few games of the third set.  Also, Caroline, allowed Li Na to win several key points when they were 5-all in the second set.

But I don't feel too bad for Caroline.  Only 20, and already a semifinalist here, she will have many more chances in the future, as compared to Li Na, who's already 28.  In my opinion, Caroline just needs to be more aggressive and really dictate the points, especially when the opponent across the net is as tenacious as Li.  Her defensive skills against Li and Schiavone were impressive!  I can only think of Jankovic and Dementieva who have those abilities to really make the opponent play an extra ball! 

Well, from what I see now, Caroline will continue to be a threat in all the Grand Slams, and I won't be surprised if she reaches the semi's or better in the 3 next Grand Slams this year.  She came here to the Australian Open not quite prepared.  I'm sure as the year progresses, she will continue to beef up her mental and shots armory.

Rafael Nadal: Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

I admit I was one of those people who were surprised to see Nadal lose today to David Ferrer, in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. I saw him play the whole week and he was at the top of his game, demolishing opponent after opponent.  And he did not seem to have any injury.  But today, he said he has an injury, which may be the reason why he lost.  Really, Rafa?  Or maybe because David Ferrer just played solid tennis today!  And the scoreline - impressive!  Anyhow, this was Rafa's path to the quarterfinals -

QF - lost to David Ferrer (ESP) (#7) 64 62 63
4R - Marin Cilic (CRO) (#15) 62 64 63
3R - Bernard Tomic (AUS) (#199) 62 75 63
2R - Ryan Sweeting (USA) 62 61 61
1R - Marcos Daniel (BRA) 60 50 Retd.

If you check his opponents, he was never pushed last week, so when he met someone of David's caliber, he was just unprepared for it.  And paid the price.  Anyhow, Rafa has had a colorful history of extreme peaks and valleys in his career, so we will see his phoenix rise again soon!

Alexandr Dolgopolov: Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

In one of the tournaments towards the end of 2010, I began to notice Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov and I knew he would be one of the players challenging the establishment in 2011.  True to form, in the first Grand Slam of 2011, he is already making his presence felt. 

Currently ranked at #46, Alexandr's rank should rise after appearing in his first fourth round Grand Slam.  His first round opponent was Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin whom he defeated 63 62 64.  Then, in the second round, he dispatched German Benjamin Becker 63 60 36 76(3).  In the third round, he upset former Australian Open finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 36 63 36 61 61!  In the fourth round, he shocked #5 seed Robin Soderling, so that he qualifies for his first Grand Slam quarterfinal!  Today however, he lost to Andy Murray 75 63 67(3) 63.  This was his first appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.  With his performance here, he should be in the Top 30 when rankings are released next week. 

Petra Kvitova - Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

Petra Kvitova (#28), reaches her first Australian Open quarterfinal this year.  She was a Wimbledon semifinalist last year and quickly follows that achievement with this one.  She, however, lost today to Vera Zvonareva. It would be interesting to see how Petra plays this year as she gains more and more experience on the Grand Slam stage.  This was her path to the quarterfinals this year -

QF - lost to Vera Zvonareva (RUS) (#2) 62 64
4R - Flavia Pennetta (ITA)   (#25) 36 63 63
3R - Samantha Stosur (AUS) (#6) 76(5) 63
2R - Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) (#55) 63 64
1R - Sally Peers (AUS) (#151) 62 64

Agnieszka Radwanska - Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

This is the fourth time in her young career that Agnieszka Radwanska (#14) has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.  She reached the quarters here in 2008 and again, now in 2011.  She was also a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2008 and 2009.  Today however, she lost to Kim Clijsters.  She still has to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.  Below was her path to the quarters -

QF - lost to Kim Clijsters (BEL) (#3) 63 76(4)
4R - Peng Shuai (CHN) (#54) 75 63 75
3R - Simona Halep (ROM) (#77) 61 62
2R - Petra Martic (CRO) (#140) 63 64
1R - Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) (#56) 64 46 75

With her performance here, she should inch closer to the Top 10 when ranking are released next week.

Jeson Patrombon: Quarterfinalist - Boys Singles - Australian Open 2011

It's great to see a Filipino player join the elite of the world in this year's Australian Open. Local boy Jeson Petrombon is our representative there and I'm happy to see that he is already seeded #8!  Imagine that!  It just means that he has improved a lot and has been successful in the other tournaments in the Juniors circuit. 

He's already in the quarterfinals of the Boys Singles!  Bravo Jeson!  In the first round, he defeated Jordan Thompson of Australia 64 76(5), even if he was under a lot of stress from the hometown cheering!  In the second round, he defeated Miki Jankovic of Serbia 76(6) 36 63.  In today's third round, he bravely defeated another Australian Andrew Whittington, seeded #10, 64 36 60.  A revenge win to the same guy who handed him and his doubles partner, Jaden Grinter, a loss in their second round doubles match a few days ago.  In the quarterfinals, he will meet fourth seed George Morgan of Great Britain.  Good luck Jeson!

In the Boys Doubles, he and his Kiwi partner Jaden Grinter reached up to the second round, where they were defeated by the Aussie tandem of Ben Wagland and Andrew Whittington 63 75.  In the first round, they defeated the tandem of Ryota Kishi (JPN) and Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 63 63.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stanislas Wawrinka - Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

Stanislas Wawrinka is one of the surprise quarterfinalists in this year's Australian Open.  This is the deepest he has ever reached in the Australian Open.  He has also been a quarterfinalist in the US Open in 2008.  However, his dream run ended today, as he lost comprehensively to countryman Roger Federer. 

QF - lost to Roger Federer (SUI) (#2) 61 63 63
4R - Andy Roddick (USA) (#8) 63 64 64
3R - Gael Monfils (SUI) (#13) 76(4) 62 63
2R - Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) (#105) 75 63 63
1R - Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) (#78) 76(4) 63 63

Stan had two fabulous wins over Gael Monfils and Andy Roddick, which allowed him to reach that far in this tournament.  This is also a good start for him this year.

Tomas Berdych: Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

Tomas Berdych (#6) reaches the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year.  This is his best finish yet in the Australian Open.  Ever since he broke through last year and reached the finals in Wimbledon, Tomas has been making big strides in the Grand Slams.  This year though, he only reaches this far, as he lost to Novak Djokovic today.  This is his path to the quarterfinals -

QF - lost to Novak Djokovic (SRB) (#3) 61 76(5) 61
4R - Fernando Verdasco (ESP) (#9) 64 62 63
3R - Richard Gasquet (FRA) (#33) 62 76(3) 62
2R - Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) (#35) 46 62 63 64
1R - Marco Crugnola (ITA) (#237) 64 60 62

I'm rather surprised that Tomas didn't put much of a fight in his quarterfinal match with Djokovic.  Except in the second set which he almost won, he was rather placid compared to the excellent shotmaking Novak displayed today.

Andrea Petkovic - Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

I've always known that one of these days, Andrea Petkovic would get to her first quarterfinals in a Slam, but I was really surprised that she did it this early in 2011! Not that it's a bad thing! It just means she really prepared during her off months so that she has immediately reaped the benefits of those!

I have posted above the victory dance that she usually does when she wins a round here in Melbourne. Below is her path to the quarterfinals -

QF - lost to Li Na (CHN) (#11) 26 46
4R - Maria Sharapova (RUS) (#16) 62 63
3R - Venus Williams (USA) (#5) 10 Ret.
2R - Anne Keothavong (GBR)(#118) 26 75 60
1R - Jill Craybas (USA) (#101) 61 62

Francesca Schiavone - Quarterfinalist - Australian Open 2011

Arguably, one of the players who gained many new fans in Australia this year, due mainly to her gutsy victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round, Francesca Schiavone is a quarterfinalist in this year's Australian Open.  Today, she lost to world #1 Caroline Wozniacki.

I have always been a fan of Francesca since she's one of the few players in the women's side who goes to the net, and she does volley very well.  I have seen both her matches against Sveta and Caroline and she really is a good player!  When she's on, she can be very hard to beat and although she does not have the power of Serena, she is crafty and wily in constructing points.

What really made me a fan of hers now, is her never-say-die attitude! She was down six match points in Kuznetova's game and today, another three matchpoints from Caroline.  Yet, she staved those match points and fought several more games!  She's a true fighter!

Here is Francesca's path to the quarters -

QF - lost to Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) (#1) 46 63 63
4R - Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) (#26) 64 16 16 14 - the longest women's match in Grand Slam history 4 hours and 44 minutes!!  I watched this till the end!  It was such a thrill to watch!  Both women really played a high quality game of tennis!
3R - Monica Niculescu (ROU) (#85) 60 76(2)
2R - Rebecca Marino (CAN) (#104) 63 57 97
1R - Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP) (#68) 67(7) 62 64

This is the first time Francesca has reached the quarterfinal of the Australian Open.  She has been a quarterfinalist in all the other Slams, including winning the French Open last year.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Favorite Match Australian Open 2011: The Iron Women - Schiavone vs. Kuznetsova

Francesca Schiavone

I really enjoyed this match very much and I did not expect that these ladies would take three hours to finish just their third set!  What makes this match unbelievable was the very high level of tennis, especially in the third set.  They were already playing for more than two hours but as the game progressed, the high level of tennis did not even falter!  The mental toughness of both Schiavone and Kuznetsova really shone through today, and it's a pity one had to go.  I don't know though if Schiavone still has the energy to fight Wozniacki on Tuesday, but at least, we know that both she and Schiavone have the strength of iron women!  Today was a fantastic display of what top women players can do. It really felt like they were both in the zone and just doing free flow tennis!  It was majestic too watch!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ekaterina Makarova's Star Rises In this Year's Australian Open

I always knew that one of these days, Ekaterina Makarova of Russia was going to make her mark in the Grand Slam stage.  Already a winner of a WTA title last year and an entry into the Top 50, it was only a bit of time before she made her presence felt in a Grand Slam stage.  In the first Slam of the year, Ekaterina moves into the fourth round by upsetting Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the first round 36 64 108.  Then she bamboozled Lesya Tsurenko of the Ukraine in the second round 76(6) 61. In the third round, she upset another veteran, compatriot Nadia Petrova 62 36 86.  In the fourth round, she is slated to meet #3 seed Kim Clijsters.

Iveta Benesova: Surprise Fourth Round Performance Australian Open 2011

Iveta Benesova, currently ranked #60, made a surprise entry into the fourth round of the Australian Open today.  She has been playing all week, coming up with victories over players ranked higher than her.  Her first round opponent was Spanish veteran Anabel Medina Garrigues where she only allowed one game for her opponent.  Then, she conceded only four games to last year's quarterfinalist Maria Kirilenko.  Then today, she upset 16th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 63 16 75.  In the fourth round, she will meet #2 seed Vera Zvonareva.  She's one of the two Czech players to make it into the fourth round of the Australian Open, the other one being Petra Kvitova.

Milos Raonic: Breakout Player Australian Open 2011

For the men's singles draw, the award for BreakOut Player for the Australian Open 2011 goes to Milos Raonic of Canada.  Currently ranked #152, he had to qualify to get into the main draw.  He used the opportunity wisely, as he defeated a higher ranked player, Bjorn Phau of Germany, 76(3), 63, 76(8) in the first round.  In the second round, he defeated Michael Llodra of France 76(3) 63 76(4).  In the 3rd round, he upset, Mikhail Youzhny, a Top 10 player 64 75 46 64.  He will meet David Ferrer in the fourth round. In the round of 16, he is the lowest ranked player to have reached it this year.
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Vesna Manasieva: Breakout Player Australian Open 2011

Vesna Manasieva of Russia is our awardee for the BreakOut Player for the Australian Open 2011.  This award is given to the player ranked outside the Top 100, who makes it the farthest in the Grand Slam tournament.  Vesna is the lowest ranked player to go as far as the third round for this Grand Slam.

Currently ranked #146, Vesna qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open 2011 and she made good use of the opportunity by beating Laura Pous-Tio in the first round, 75 62.  Then she won over Marion Bartoli in the second round 36 63 60.  However, in the 3rd round, she lost to Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 16 36. 
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Australian Open 2011: Women's Singles Country Champion - Russia

For this year's Australian Open, the following countries are the finalists for the Women's Singles Country Champion -

Belarus - Azarenka
Belgium - Clijsters
China - Na, Peng
Czech Republic - Kvitova, Benesova
Denmark - Wozniacki
Germany - Petkovic
Italy - Schiavone, Pennetta
Latvia - Sevastova
Poland - Radwanska, A.

The Australian Open Women's Singles Country Champion is RUSSIA with four players into the fourth round - Russia - Kuznetsova, Sharapova, Makarova, Zvonareva

Australian Open 2011: Men's Singles Country Champion - Spain

Every Grand Slam, I award to the country with the most number of players into the fourth round, a Country Champion Trophy.  For the Australian Open 2011, the following countries were the finalists for this category and the player(s) who is(are) in the 4th round for this slam -

Austria - Melzer
Canada - Raonic
Croatia - Cilic
Czech Republic - Berdych
Great Britain - Murray
Serbia - Djokovic
Sweden - Soderling
Switzerland - Federer, Wawrinka
Ukraine - Dolgopolov
USA - Roddick

For the Australian Open 2011, the Men's Singles Country Champion is SPAIN.  They have five players in the fourth round.  Nadal, Ferrer, Verdasco, Almagro and Robredo are the five players who make it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who Is Anastasija Sevastova? She Just Reached the Round of 16 in the Australian Open 2011

Among the eight women who entered the round of 16 today, it's only Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia whom I don't know very much.  It's a bit weird that she has been under my radar, considering that she is already ranked #46, and still, I don't know much about her, or even seen her play!  In the first round, she edged Polona Hercog 64 76(5) and then upset Yanina Wickmayer 64 62 in the second round.  In the third round, she topped qualifier Vesna Manasieva 61 63. She has now reached her first fourth round appearance in any of the Grand Slams.

Peng Shuai: Excited About Her Prospects in This Australian Open

I correctly predicted that Peng Shuai will upset Jelena Jankovic in their second round match today.  She has been playing rather consistently this match so I know she will go deep into this tournament, after I saw the draw.  In the third round, she will meet Ayumi Morita, who I think she'll be able to handle just fine.  In the fourth round, she may meet Agnieszka Radwanska, a Top 20 player.  If she continues to play as well as she does, she just might reach the quarterfinals!  How exciting is that!

Ricardas Berankis: Player In Focus - Australian Open

I did not expect this guy to go this deep into the Australian Open.  I am not quite familiar as to who he is.  His name is Ricardas Berankis, currently ranked #95, yet he reaches the 3rd round of this Grand Slam.  He won his first round match against Matinko Matosevic of Australia 64 62 75.  Then he went straight to the third round as his second round opponent, David Nalbandian, retired 61 60 20.  In the third round, he will face David Ferrer of Spain, currently ranked #7.
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Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic, had to qualify to get into the main draw of the Australian Open.  He is currently ranked #241.  He upset Denis Istomin 63 64 36 62 in the first round.  Then, he upsets Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the second round 62 67(11) 64 67(3) 86.  In the third round, he will meet one of the elite players in men's tennis today - Robin Soderling.


Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 3rd Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa, ranked #107, was invited into the main draw of this year's Australian Open, and she promptly wins her first round match against Karolina Sprem 46 64 62.  She then defeats Regina Kulikova of Russia 64 46 75.  In the third round, she lost to Victoria Azarenka of Belorussia 63 63.  This is the farthest Chanelle has reached in the Australian Open.  She has reached the 4th round of the French Open. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Juan Martin Del Potro: Not Quite Top 25 Material

I'm just happy to see him on the comeback trail, especially now that his rank has really sunk to the 200s.  Of course, the real talent of Juan Martin Del Potro has not disappeared, and his first round win over #92 Dudi Sela, shows that he is slowly finding his winning form.  However, today, he lost to #21 ranked Marcos Baghdatis, and the scoreline was not that close.  He did win a set over Marcos but he still has a lot to do if he wants to regain that Grand Slam winning form!  As for now, we can safely say, he is in Top 50 form and hopefully, as the year progresses, so does his confidence and form!

Favorite Match Australian Open 2011: 2nd Round Match Between Federer and Simon

I love the way Gilles Simon played today in his second round match between tennis legend, Roger Federer.  In sets 3 and 4, he really upped his game that it was wonderful to see how he moved Roger around!  Unfortunately, in the final set, the ever calm Federer, found a way to impose his game once again and was up 4-2 in just a few minutes.  Still, Simon continued to fight but it was in vain as the set ended 6-3.  Even then, his effort was fantastic, considering that his rank now is in the 30s.  Today, he played like a Top 10 player and I hope he finds his confidence and form that propelled him to that high rank before.  Simon's game is still there!  As for Federer, that game was a real wake up call for him and knowing how smart he is, he can fine tune his current preparations in time for more difficult opponents in the days to come.

Bojana Jovanovski: A Rising Star With Lots Of Potential

Bojana Jovanovski might have been eliminated today by a highly seeded player (#2 Vera Zvonareva), but from the looks of their game today, it is apparent that Bojana Jovanovski's star is beginning to rise.  I loved the way she played, almost fearless, considering that Vera is one of the strongest defenders on the court today.  Anyhow, what Bojana lacks is that maturity, which Vera now has tons of.  Bojana has to be calmer when the tide turns against her, and for now, she has no Game Plan B to counteract.  But that's fine.  She'll mature soon and hopefully find her full potential.

Concerned About Mardy Fish's Condition

Mardy Fish really made a breakthrough in the latter part of 2010, that's why the beginning of 2011 seemed so promising for him, especially now that he's ranked in the top 20!  He did win his first round match against Victor Hanescu of Romania (#50) 26 46 63 75 63.  But in his second round match today, he lost to Tommy Robredo of Spain (#52) 16 63 63 63.  He also complained that he was down with something mysterious, a virus perhaps which he said made his body weak, from about 30-45 minutes after playing.  Oh well, I do hope they find out exactly what his problem is so that he can be given proper medical attention for it.  And I hope he can also recover fast so that he can still play competitive tennis.

Bernard Tomic: Australia's New Young Hope For the Men's Game!

I know it's tough to perform before your home crowd, that's why it's rare for us to see someone become the champion of his or her home Slam. However, I can see that Bernard Tomic of Australia, does not seem to have that fear! In the first round, he defeated Jeremy Chardy of France, ranked #44, 63 62 76(5). Then, Feliciano Lopez of Spain, ranked #31, was his next victim today, 76(4) 76(3) 63, which then leads him to probably his most Mt. Everest-type of match-up in the third round! He'll meet current world #1 and many-times Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal! How's that for a challenge? Will Tomic rise up or will Nadal just smother him? One thing's for sure, Tomic is a bright star we are excited to see rise in 2011!

Agnieszka Radwanska's Should Never Reveal the Brand of Her Racket Here!

Agnieszka Radwanska is one of the best players in the WTA Tour but her equipment failure today is one of those rare things you can see in a Grand Slam tournament! It really does look hilarious!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Venus Williams Dress for the Australian Open 2011

Venus Williams is back in the news again, and this time, it's still not about her tennis.  Ever since she started designing her own line of tennis clothes, she has been coming out with outfits that have really been eye-popping!  Do you remember what she wore during the French Open?  I thought that was crazy!  Have you seen the picture above?  Oh my, that's what she wore during her match with Sandra Zahlavova in her second round match.  Oh yeah, she had the courage to wear it!  I really don't know what to say!  Venus keeps pushing the envelope!  This time, it's crisscrossed see through abdomen blouses with a printed skirt.  What's next Venus?  Surprise us more!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Favorite Match Australian Open 2011: David Nalbandian vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Throughout the course of this Australian Open, I am going to feature some matches which I thoroughly enjoyed. I know it's only the first round but the match-up between David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt looks like a match that should have been on a later round, on paper.  In reality, it was thrilling with all the matching ups and downs throughout its more than four hour duration.  The match ended way past 1AM!  I was actually rooting for David all throughout and I even thought he was already out when Lleyton had those match points.  But still, like vintage Nalbandian, he continued to fight on and eventually won!  It was a real slugfest!

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, currently ranked #236, wins his first round match against Israel's Dudi Sela, 76(13) 64 64 to get into the second round.  He was a quarterfinalist here in 2009.  He will next face Marcos Baghdatis.

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Reaches the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, currently ranked #122, won the battle between two qualifiers, in the first round of this year's Australian Open.  He will next face Robin Soderling.  Muller has been a quarterfinalist of the US Open in 2008.

Bernard Tomic of Australia: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Bernard Tomic of Australia, ranked #199, was invited into the main draw of this year's Australian Open, and uses this opportunity very wisely, upsetting much higher ranked Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, 63 62 76(5).   This is the first time Bernard gets into the second round of a Grand Slam.  He will next meet Feliciano Lopez.  If he continues to go deeper into the tournament, he may well next be Australia's next tennis superstar!

Ryan Sweeting of the USA: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Ryan Sweeting Ryan Sweeting returns a shot against Filippo Volandri of Italy during day four of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Ryan Sweeting of the USA, ranked #117, had to qualfy to get into the main draw of this year's Australian Open.  He wins his first round match as he upsets Gimeno-Traver of Spain, allowing the latter only nine games!  Impressive!  He next faces world #1 Rafael Nadal.  This is only his second time in the second round of a Grand Slam tournament, with his first being in the US Open 2006.

Day 3: The Top 5 Intriguing Match-Ups in the Women's Singles Australian Open 2011

Well, it's Day 3 already in the Australian Open.  Here are the five matches I would like to see today in the women's side.

#1  Jelena Dokic (AUS) (#137) vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) (#63)

Well, I love underdogs and Jelena Dokic is again in a draw where she has a chance of going deeper.  It's only the second round where she meets Strycova of the Czech Republic.  I think she has a good chance here of going into the 3rd round.

#2 Regina Kulikova (RUS) (#114) vs. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) (#107)

Both players are ranked outside the Top 100 and both are in the second round of a Grand Slam.  Well, one of them will surely reach the third round, and that should do wonders to the ranking of the hardworking girl.  I will put my bet on Chanelle Scheepers, who has more experience at this level than Kulikova.

#3  Rebecca Marino (CAN) (#104) vs. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) (#7)

I've seen how Rebecca played Venus in the US Open, and there, she was fearless!  I'd like to see how she handles Francesca later, another top 10 player.  I even believe Rebecca could eliminate Schiavone!  We'll see.

#4 Virginie Razzano (#100) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS) (#16)

I like watching Maria play and although she hasn't really been on top form lately, I'd like to see how she deals with Virginie who is another competent player.  Will Maria's service let her down again or will she take care of this in just two sets.

#5 Justine Henin (BEL) (#13) vs. Elena Baltacha (GBR) (#55)

I haven't seen Elena play in a long time and I'm happy to see her rank rise to #55.  I want to see how she handles former champion Justine Henin in their second round encounter.

Lesya Tsurenko of Russia: Player Ranked Outside the Top 100 Who Gets Into the 2d Rd of the Australian Open 2011

Lesya Tsurenko of the Ukraine, ranked #157, had to qualify to get into the main draw of this year's Australian Open.  She uses her opportunity wisely as she dispatched veteran Patty Schnyder 62 63.  She will next face Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who upset Ana Ivanovic.  This is her maiden Grand Slam appearance.
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