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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens Announces Her Arrival

Prior to the Fes Open this year, I have never heard of Dutchwoman, Kiki Bertens, so it was a surprise for me to see her name crop up in the draws.  I was very impressed at how she dispatched at 63 64, the top seed left during the semifinals, Romanian Simona Halep, who herself, is no pushover.  However, in that match, Kiki's formidable forehand just rattled Simona.  In the finals, after a nervy first few games, Kiki got her composure and won her maiden WTA title and defeated Spanish clay court specialist Laura Pous-Tio 75 60.  Kiki now enters the Top 100 at #92 which assures her of a slot in the French Open, or at least, a right to qualify. 

She's also the first Dutchwoman of note that I've seen play since Michaela Krajicek, a few years back.  Kiki though looks more formidable and since she's still young, looks like she's going to fly the banner for Dutch tennis soon.
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The Buzz Around Mona Barthel

As if there weren't many top women in German tennis right now (there are now 4 German women currently in the Top 20 of women's tennis), comes currently, the biggest buzz in women's tennis, another German, Mona Barthel, who this week at Stuttgart, gave world #1 Victoria Azarenka, a big scare during their quarterfinal bout, 64 67(3) 75.  With that formidable scoreline, Mona announces herself to the current Top 10 - watch out girls, reserve a slot for her!  I think it's gonna happen in due time, and Mona's arrival is perfect since the French Open is coming up.  If she gets a decent draw, who knows how deep she can go in that tournament and what it can do to her present rankings.

Sadly though, I have never seen her play yet, but I just might watch her game against Azarenka later on  I am just curious as to how she plays.
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The Top 4 Now in Women's Tennis Looks Solid

World #4 Agnieszka Radwanska looking for her maiden Grand Slam title

Maria Sharapova currently at #2

2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova at #3

2012 Australian Open champion and current world #1 Victoria Azarenka

Finally, women's tennis has produced a Top 4 which I think, is as formidable as the men's side, who, time and time again, have been topping their side of the Grand Slams.  Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska, currently 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the world right now, proved their rankings last week in Stuttgart as they emerged in the semifinals.  Maria Sharapova eventually won though. 

However, there are many who are capable of topping any of the four, mainly Sam Stosur, who is now at #5.  Mona Barthel, currently at #31, also gave world #1 Azarenka, a scare in their quarterfinal match.  Li Na, currently at #8, is the French Open defending champion, so I'm sure she also has something to prove against the Top 4.  So it's basically going to be a tough clay season for everyone which will all culminate at Roland Garros.
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Maria Sharapova Dominates in Stuttgart

I have been watching Maria Sharapova play this week at the Stuttgart Open and I am actually impressed by how well she's playing.  If she just maintains this form, she might, just might win the French Open, finalement!  I saw her first in her quarterfinal against the in-form Sam Stosur and it was a slugfest right from the beginning!  They were toe to toe until the third set where Maria prevailed 67(5) 76(5) 75 in a three hour match.  Then, in the semifinals, she edged another Grand Slam champion, Petra Kvitova 64 76(3).  Finally, in the finals, she swept past world number 1, Victoria Azarenka, 61 64.  It was definitely a crowded field in Stuttgart and for Maria to emerge on top, that should help her confidence a lot!
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Andy Roddick's Wifey Sizzles in 'Battleship'

Well, this is actually the first time I saw Brooklyn Decker, Andy Roddick's wife, play a big role in a major motion picture.  In Battleship, she plays the love interest of the lead, Taylor Kitsch, and Liam Neeson's daughter - THE Admiral's daughter - so she has something pretty interesting role here.  And she doesn't just play the beautiful bombshell here. She also gets some action since she finds herself trapped in the mountain which the aliens cordoned off for their purposes (watch the movie to find out what she was doing there and why the aliens were there too!).  Oh yeah, she's hot in all her scenes - and she plays a physical therapist here.  Dang!

Monday, April 23, 2012

King of Clay 2012

With twelve clay court tournaments under wraps in 2012, the latest being the Madrid Open, here are the Top 10 ATP players of clay, as of today, along with their points.  I formulated the point system on my own, by using the prize money as basis, meaning, the tournaments with higher monetary prizes have more prize points compared to those with less.

The final points will come from the tournament just before Roland Garros.

1.  Rafael Nadal (ESP) -948.59
2.  Roger Federer (SUI) 736.64
3.  Tomas Berdych (CZE) - 496.68
4.  David Ferrer (ESP) -433.14
5.  Novak Djokovic (SRB) -348.80
6..  Fernando Verdasco (ESP) -274.21
7.  Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) - 264.89
8.  Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) - 225.76
9.  Gilles Simon (FRA) - 224.10
10.  Nicolas Almagro (ESP) - 171.40

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rafael Nadal: Mind-boggling Eight Consecutive Titles in Monte Carlo

Whew, in an emphatic performance in Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal sends an ominous warning to all, early on in the clay court season, that he wants the French Open title, and that he would vanquish anyone, even if he was the #1 player in the world!  The scoreline of 63 61 against Novak Djokovic today, was certainly an eye opener.

Anyhow, there are still a few weeks before Roland Garros starts and any pretender to the crown could still tweak his game here and there, but Nadal won't be giving up his title as King of Clay, just yet. 

Tomas Berdych in Monte Carlo: Almost There

Well, the Top 4 of men's tennis is not always impenetrable, and this is clay after all, so I guess, Tomas Berdych took that chance as he defeated Andy Murray (#4) in the quarters here in Monte Carlo.  It took him three sets to do that though.  It also took him three sets before Djokovic (#1) dispatched him in the semi's.  His performance here shows that Berdych is serious in his challenge this clay season and hopefully, he continues to build up the momentum as the season continues.  The luck of the draw in Roland Garros may spell the difference between the final 4 and a lesser round for Berdych.  All I can say is he already has the game to threaten the Top 4.  He just really needs the belief that he can go till the end.

Gilles Simon: Surprise Semifinalist in Monte Carlo 2012

I knew it was asking too much from Gilles Simon to defeat Rafael Nadal in the semi's of Monte Carlo yesterday, but during the game, he showed flashes of brilliance but could not quite sustain it enough to damage the strong armor of the King of Clay.  But still, a semifinal appearance in Monte Carlo is a big deal for this talented Frenchman who had to win over two higher seeded players (Janko Tipsarevic in the 3rd round and countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals) to get to this stage.  The 63 6 scoreline did not quite depict what went on court but it also does not take out the fact that Nadal really feels confident now, so that when he sees aggressiveness across the net, he has no qualms about quashing the challenge, pronto!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Angelique Kerber Gets Deadlier

German women's tennis continues its renaissance as yet another German player in Angelique Kerber shakes the establishment by winning the e-boks Open in Copenhagen.  Why earthshaking?  Well, a title in a tennis open in Copenhagen used to be the stranglehold of their local darling, Caroline Wozniacki, but as I watched the game tonight, just from the onset, I could really see that Angelique Kerber had the goods to do damage to the more experienced and higher ranked Dane.

That Angelique was fearless and that Caro had led both sets (41 and 43) made watching that final very interesting.  Eventually, Kerber won 64 64 - certainly an emphatic display from the German that she can beat a Top 10 player if she's just loose and free - like today.  Playing before the local crowd, she knew she had nothing to lose - to think that she almost lost in the earlier rounds!  (Again, to another German, Mona Barthel).

Well, the surface they played in was not clay so I know this will have no bearing in the upcoming French Open.  However, confidence-wise, this should give Kerber a big boost, especially that she beat a former #1 player to win this title!
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Happy to See Sara Errani Rise and Rise

I've heard of Sara Errani before but since there are so many good Italian players, I couldn't really picture her until I saw her give a great performance in this year's Australian Open.  Unfortunately, she had to meet Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinal, and Petra was on a roll after her Wimbledon crown last year.  Still, it showed to me that this pocket size player from Italy had spunk.

Now that she just won her second title of the year here in the Barcelona Ladies Open against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova, she has shown that she can REALLY play on clay.  I do hope though that she gets a lucky draw in this coming French Open so that she can have a chance of getting deeper into that tournament.  I can't really say anything now till I see the actual draw but what she can do now is just build on her confidence and on her game, and everything will fall into place! 

If her countrywoman, Francesca Schiavone, came out of nowhere to win the French Open, two years ago, she could do that too!
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cibulkova in the Barcelona Open

These past three days, for some reason, I have only seen the matches of Sorana Cirstea and Dominika Cibulkova and whoever their opponents were.  They did eventually meet today in one of the semifinals of the Barcelona Open, and Cibulkova was deadly, not giving much away to the error-prone Cirstea.  Cibulkova will go to the finals where she will meet Italian Sara Errani.  I am betting on Errani though to win this title.  I had seen her play early this year and she was in devastating form - and this being clay, a surface that she likes, I won't be surprised if she gets one over the diminutive Slovenian!
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