Monday, October 25, 2010

The WTA Unveils it's New Logo in Style

The WTA unveiled a new logo on Monday while announcing the draw for the season ending WTA Championships in Qatar. While Serena and Venus Williams' seasons ended long ago, and surely will be missed during what could be an extremely uninteresting way to end the season, the rest of the tour's top are ready to compete.

Some showed up in style while others need a lot of help, still, with their sartorial choices. Caroline Wozniacki is the top seed and was the best dressed, wearing a Marchesa gown. Vera Zvonareva, who, oddly enough, has an opportunity to overtake Wozniacki at the top of the game this week, wore a little red number with black strappy heels. Sam Stosur wore a similarly colored dress, but this one looked like it was from Forever 21. Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva looked great, per usual, while Fran Schiavone and Kimmie Clijsters are in desperate need of a stylist, ASAP.

Federer Captures 64th Career Title in Stockholm, Ties Sampras

It seems that playing a few lower-level tournaments is Roger Federer's way of slowly gaining momentum and confidence for the big ones. In Stockholm, on Sunday, the Swiss took out Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-3 to capture his 64th career title, tying Pete Sampras for 4th on the all time titles list, behind only Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. While the win probably says little to what R-Fed's current form is, it's still crucial for the world number 2 to go into the final few tournaments of the season with a vengeance after being handled quite easily by the world's best as of late.

Conrats Rog! Keep it up!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sharapova and Sasha Are Engaged!

On Thursday, Sasha Vujacic, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, whom hails from Serbia, confirmed that he and Maria Sharapova are engaged. Vujacic popped the question on Tuesday and told the Associated Press, "we are engaged and are both really happy."

Congrats to the happy couple! Sasha's Lakers are on top of the NBA world so once Maria gets back to the WTA penthouse, this pairing will be a true sporting power couple.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aussie Ana Wins First Title in Two Years

It wasn't too long ago when Ana Ivanovic was out of the top 60 and practically unable to toss her serve in her own vicinity. Things have clearly changed.

The Serbian has slowly but surely returned to her hard-hitting, flat-groundstroking game that brought her to the top of the sport in June of 2008. In Linz on Sunday the now 29th ranked Ivanovic routed Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-2 in just 45 minutes, closing the match out with an ace on her second MP. It was obvious that emotions were running high for Ana. Playing in her first final in 19 months, the 2008 French Open champ came out with a chip on her shoulder. After switching between several coaches in the past couple years, Ana seems to have found her match in Heinz Gunthardt.

"Winning again after two years is so wonderful, just unbelievable," said Ivanovic, who didn't drop a set all tournament. "I have been waiting so long for this and I worked hard to achieve it."

Take note, Dinara Safina. This is how you execute a comeback.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back (I hope) From a MUCH Needed Break

K, so I know it's been quite a while since I last blogged. The day of the men's US Open final, to be exact. School work has been coming left and right and I just haven't been in the mood to blog very much, but I am pretty sure the fire in me is back. That was cheesy.

So, despite the fact that many of you have continued visiting the blog during my absence and been disappointed in the lack of new material, you can now come to Serve and Return and be expecting some news. Most of the time. I'll try to stay on top of my game.

Andy Murray and Fed are set to face off in the Shanghai finals after the Swiss dismantled Soderling and Djokovic back-to-back. Rafa was upset by Melzer. Caro has taken over the top ranking and Serena, Venus and Kim have all called it a year.

Thanks for the continued support. Be back tomorrow!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

FInal Thoughts: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (3) Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic crashed the Nadal/Federer party on Saturday by ousting the 2nd seeded Fed 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-1, 7-5. The match was an epic, and the stunning upset put Djokovic in his first Grand Slam final since winning the 2008 Australian open. His chances in the final match, though, are slim. His opponent is playing the tennis of his life, trying to capture the single Major that has eluded him, easily ousting Mikhail Youznhy 2, 3 and 4 in the semis.

Djokovic is short on rest and has a 7-14 career record against the Spaniard, but a 3 match win streak and a great knowledge of Rafa's game could keep this one, well, close. He needs to get returns in play with the same efficiency as he did against Roger, and the Serb's aggression must be amplified, by a lot.

Still, with the way Nadal is playing, not much stands between the top seed and the career Grand Slam. Nadal has finally adapted his game to the hard courts of New York perfectly, amping up his serve speed and finishing points quicker. Look for Rafa to be on the winner's stand at the end of this one.

Winner: Nadal in 3

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Final Thoughts: (2) Kim Clijsters vs. (7) Vera Zvonareva

The US Open women's final will be played in prime time, under the lights on Saturday night, and with Kim Clijsters vying for a 3rd US Open title, and Vera Zvonareva for her first major, period, the match has high expectations.

Let's start with Vera. The Russian is a completely changed player in the span of a few months, losing her title as the WTA Tour's resident head-case and beating the world's top players, including Clijsters at Wimbledon and Caroline Wozniacki on Friday. Now, as Zvonereva is in that same elite group with the same women she was an overwhelming underdog against, she goes into the championship match with more experience and much more mental stability.

In that semifinal match with the top seeded Wozniacki, the number 7 seed was the steadier of the two, waiting for her opponent to commit the errors and succumb to the gusty conditions. In the end it was Bepa earning a 6-4, 6-3 win to reach her 2nd straight Grand Slam final. This time match number 7 will be much more winnable.

Clijsters will be going for her 21st straight win at the Open. She won here in 2005 and in 2009, and is extremely difficult to beat on Arthur Ashe. Her last title run, though, saw the Belgian play much more consistent tennis, and the streakiness of her serve could be a key reason why her win streak in NY might end. Against Venus Williams in the semifinals Kimmie was the better of the two off the ground, but both lacked rhythm on their serves. Ultimately, Clijsters edged out another win, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Should the 2nd seed play similarly to the way she did against Venus and Stosur, don't be surprised if Zvonareva triumphs, but it seems like the Big Apple lights bring out something extra in Kim, and that just might be the edge.

Winner: Clijsters in 3

Friday, September 10, 2010

US Open Quarterfinal Wrap: Fed and Nadal Dominate, Venus and Clijsters to Meet

Rafael Nadal continues to play near perfect tennis at this year's US Open, as the Spaniard crushed his countryman fernando verdasco in Thursday night's opening match. Nadal had yet to drop serve coming into the quarterfinal encounter, and he continued his brilliant serving, holding every game but one. Verdasco played a great first set, jumping out to an early 4-2 lead, but Rafa soon after adapted to the wind and blew the 8th seed off the court 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

The top seed's opponent in the semis will be a familiar foe, Mikhail Youzhny. who has given Nadal lots of trouble in the past. The Russian earned a 5-set win in a 4-hour plus match against Stanislas Wawrinka. The 12th seeded Youznhy has beaten Rafa on this same stage, 4 years ago in the quarterfinals. Youzhny also defeated Nadal in the Chennai semis 0 and 1 two years ago. Despite having figured out his semifinal opponent's game, Mikhail stands a slight chance, if any, against an on-point Rafa.

Kim Clijsters looked very streaky in a 3-set win over Sam Stosur on Tuesday night, ousting the Australian in a close match 6-4, 5-7 6-3. The win, Clijsters' 19th straight at the Open, sets up a much-anticipated semifinal match-up with 3rd seed Venus Williams.

Venus also didn't look her best in a straight set win over Francesca Schiavone. Fran's high topspin kept the American off balance, but, a 7-0 record, in Williams' favor, against the 6th seed, proved the difference in the 7-6 (5), 6-4 win.

Roger Federer has looked just as good as Rafa through 5 matches, as the Swiss trounced the dangerous Robin Soderling in 3 straight sets on Wednesday night, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Despite the swirling winds, gusting up to 35 mph, Federer served beautifully, out-acing Le Sod 18-2. The 2 seed also hit 20 more winners than Soderling, who played a surprisingly defensive match.

Novak Djokovic has also been on a role, reaching his 4th straight US Open semifinal with a routine victory over Gael Monfils, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 6-2. The Djoker has yet to lose a set since his 5-set first round match with Viktor Troicki, and he'll be looking to improve on an 0-3 record against Federer in New York.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki has had yet another beautiful run in the Big Apple, gaining tons of fans along the way. In Wednesday's night match, the Dane comfortably defeated Dominika Cibulkova 2 and 5. Wozzi looked great in the opening set but was challenged in the second, finishing it out to reach the semis.

She'll play Wimbledon finalist Vra Zvonareva, a 2-set winner over 31st-seeded Kaia Kanepi. In the 6-3, 7-5 win, the Russian was the more solid of the two players, hitting 28 errors to Kanepi's 60.

The women's semis will be contested Friday, while the men's is Saturday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fed, Serena and Caro Kick Off Fashion Week in NYC

New York Fashion Week was kicked off on Tuesday night with "Fashion's Night Out: The Show at Lincoln Center." The show was the largest public runway presentation, organized by Vogue EIC Anna Wintour, and couple US Open contenders took time out to dress up and hit up the FNO show.

Above is Serena Williams, pictured in a white dress with draped detailing and black pumps. The boots off!

Caroline Wozniacki look great in a strapless multi-color mini.

Roger Federer mingled in the seats with Wintour (left) and Blake Lively

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

US Open Labor Day Results: Wozzi Downs Shazza, Federer Sets Up Showdown with Soderling

If their were still doubters who believed Caroline Wozniacki didn't deserve the number 1 seed at the 2010 US Open, I'm sure, after the Dane's match on Monday, they were decreased. The 20 year-old played beautiful defense, wearing out Maria Sharapova to earn a 2-set victory, 6-3, 6-4. The win puts Wozniacki, who made just a 1/3 of the amount of errors that her opponent did, in the quarterfinals, where she will face Dominika Cibulkova, an upset winner over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Sharapova and Wozniacki played almost the entire match at an incredibly high level, with long rallies pitting the Russian's powerful ground strokes against the 2009 finalist's high top-spin shots. As i was clear that Sharapova couldn't hit through her opponent, the 14th seed began to go for more and more, eventually breaking down her own game with several errors at a time.

Roger Federer advanced in routine fashion past Jurgen Melzer in the 2nd night match, reaching his 26th straight Major quarterfinal with a 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 victory. The 2nd seeded Swiss has yet to los a set, but that could all change when he runs into the always-dangerous Robin Soderling in the enxt round. The Swede dropped the first set against Albert Montanes before reeling off the next three easily to win.

Soderling ended Federer's miraculous Grand Slam semifinal streak at the French Open, and the two have a long history. Expect a brilliant encounter on Wednesday.
Vera Zvonareva kicked off the night session with a dominating win over Andrea Petkovic, 6-1, 6-2. The Russian imploded against Flavia Pennetta on this same day at last year's Open, but she kept her emotions in check long enough to dispatch of the gritty German, giving the 7th seed a spot in the quarters. She'll meet Kaia Kanepi, who got off to a very slow start against 2009 semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer, dropping the opener 6-0, before recovering to win the next two sets 7-6 (2), 6-1.

Gael Monfils squared off against countryman Richard Gasquet in an exciting 4th-rounder in which the 17th seeded Monfils won 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. Afterwards, Gasquet deservedly referred to Le Monf as the "Usain Bolt of Tennis," and his ability to run down even the best of shots will have his quarterfinal opponent, Novak Djokovic's, hands full.

The Serb crushed Mardy Fish on Arthur Ashe, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1, pushing the American around and serving beautifully.

Celebs Turn Out for the Open

The celebrity turnout at the US Open never fails to impress, and 2010 is no different, as pop-stars, rock-stars, comedians and athletes have made the trip to Queens to watch the exhilarating tennis.

Above is Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Roger Federer's, close friends and biggest fans. The two have traveled the globe supporting Fed.

Another close friend of Federer's is Anna Wintour, who, each year, takes time out from all of the September fashion-week madness to support her favorite player.

Serena cheered on older sis Venus from the sidelines.

Alex Rodriguez, next to Mary-Joe Fernandez

Will Ferrell and his wife

A-Rods, rumored flame, Cameron Diaz

A-Rod's teammate, Derek Jeter, with wife Minka Kelly

Sunday, September 5, 2010

US Open Day 7 Results: Clijsters Thwarts Ana, Spaniards Dominate, Murray Crashes

The Spanish Armada of tennis stars have been known to dominate the clay courts of Roland Garros, but who knew the red and yellow could make their marks in New York too. Rafa Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo all advanced to the Round of 16 on Sunday. In fact, Rafa, F-Lo, Nando and Ferrer occupy every fourth round spot in the 1st quarter of the draw, assuring a Spaniard a spot in the semis.

Rafa earned a 3-set win over Gilles Simon, Lopez was beating Sergiy Stakhovsky before the Ukrainian retired down 6-3, 4-0. Verdasco took out David Nalbandian 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Ferrer ousted Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straights.

It was unexpected that Francesca Schiavone would emerge victorious at Roland Garros this year, but would it be that far-fetched to give the Italian 6th seed a shot at winning in New York? Not by the way she's plowed through her four matches thus far, most recently crushing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-3, dropping just 13 games overall. Forget about Pavly's right arm, Schiavo has played even better tennis in the Big Apple than she did at the French, and her quarterfinal opponent, Venus Williams, has a lot to be scared of.

V struggled with her game against 16th seeded Shahar Peer on day 7, as the Israeli gave Williams all sorts of trouble, pushing her to a first set tiebreak, which she dropped 7-3, before going away quietly in the second, 6-3. Yes, Williams was wearing her 4th dress of the fortnight. Now, she needs her game to shine like her hot pink number did.

The shock of the day came via Stanislas Wawrinka, as the Swiss, now coached by Roger Federer's old mentor, Peter Lundgren, pulled off a stunner against Andy Murray, defeating the Scot 6-7 (3), 7-6 94), 6-3, 6-3. When Murray got down, he resorted, as usual, to his pushing antics, and Stan the Man completely handcuffed the 4th seed, who was out-aced 13-5. The victory was without a doubt one of the biggest of Wawrinka's career, but things won't get easier, as the 25th seed's 4th round encounter will be against American Sam Querrey.

Querrey had an easy time handling Nicolas Almagro, defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The win put Sam back in the 4th round, the same stage he reached in 2008. Two American men remain in this 2nd quarter of the draw, and the other one is John Isner, down 2 sets to one against Mikhail Youzhny on Ashe right now. The winner will take on Tommy Robredo, the fifth Spaniard to invade the 4th round. Robredo, a longtime ATP journeyman, was in a 4th set with Michael Llodra, having had one 2 of the first 3, before the Frenchman retired.

Kim Clijsters' and Ana Ivanovic's 4th round encounter was expected to be an exciting match, as the Serb is finally starting to find her game, but it was actually much less enthralling than we hoped, as Kimmie slaughtered the former number 1 in less then an hour, 6-2, 6-1. The Belgian's quarterfinal opponent will be either Elena Dementieva of Sam Stosur, up next on Arthur Ashe.

Nadal Sends Simon Home to Meet His Baby

Gilles Simon may have been knocked out of the US Open in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, to Rafael Nadal, but it's a win-win for the Frenchman, who'll be taking a flight back to Europe on Sunday to meet his newborn son, Timothy, born Thursday, with his longtime girlfriend.

Glad there's an upside to the Frenchman's loss. he had a great run and perhaps he can play some Federer-esque post-baby tennis.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Venus: 3 Matches, 3 Different Outfits

Venus Williams has been quite the fashion chameleon so far this US Open, as the 3rd seed has debuted 3 different outfits in her first 3 matches. After defeating Mandy Minella to reach the 4th round on Friday night, Williams' told the press that should she play 7 matches (reaching the finals), we'll get to see 7 different dresses. Is this gonna have to become a daily segment?

The first dress was without a doubt the best, as V stuck with her corset trend of the past year in black mini with shiny panels on the sides and stylish fringes on the bottom.

Next up: The winning design from Venus' collaboration with Tide, in which fans could submit their designs online, one of which the 7-time Major winner would sport at the Open. Unfortunately, it was way too short and not at all flattering.

And last, but not least, is the sparkly confection that Venus obviously wore to distract her opponent, JK. This sexy number had an open back and was covered in blinding silver fireworks. Very loud, very New York.

Can't wait to see what's up next against Shahar Peer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

US Open Catch-Up: Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer and Wozzi Cruise into Round 3

Sorry guys, I know, I haven't blogged in like, a year.

I'm sure you've all kept up with the US Open action through your TVs, and if you grinned and beared the hundred-degree weather and attended, more power to you. If you're a little behind, here's a catch-up so you'll be set for an exciting labor day weekend of tennis.

On the women's side, possible 4th-round opponents Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova have cruised into the third round, each notching quick straight-set wins over Kai Chen-Chang and Iveta Benesova, respectively. Sharapova will take on Beatrice Capra, one of the stories of the tournament, for a chance to reach the Round of 16. Capra, who won in 3 sets against Aravane Rezai, has made headlines with her Melanie Oudin-like run, and will get an opportunity to knock off the same 3rd-round opponent Oudin did; Sharapova. As big of a Maria fan as I am, I might have to root for Treecy on Saturday, as she graduated form my high school.

Jelena Jankovic has survived to 3-setters to find herself in a wide-open section that includes 7th-seeded Vera Zvonareva and 15th seed Yanina Wickmnayer. Agnieszka Radwanska was upset by Shuai Peng in 3 sets and Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced.

Novak Djokovic improved his night-match record to 6-0 with a 3-set win over tricky Phillip Petzschner. Roger Federer also turned in a stellar performance, beat Andreas Beck 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Federer is just two matches away from a blockbuster quarterfinal match with Robin Soderling, who dominated Taylor Dent. Mardy Fish finds himself in the third round after an easy victory over Pablo Cuevas. Djokovic seems to be Mardy's only remaining obstacle before the semis, as Roddick and Davydenko have fallen.

Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic fought a marathon 5-hour 5-setter which the Croatian 11th seed lost 5-7, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1. Jurgen Melzer and Tomas Bellucci fought in two tough matches that went the distance to advance, while Juan Carlos Ferrero won comfortably in straights.