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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Look at R-Fed's Tweener vs. Dabul


US Open Day 1: Fed Works His Magic Under the Lights; Venus, Roddick & Clijsters Win

It looks as though Roger Federer is making a habit of hitting outrageous shots in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Swiss hit yet another between-the-legs winner last night, against Brian Dabul, that brought back memories of the same shot against Novak Djokovic in last year's semifinals. Fed crushed his Argentine opponent 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. The world number 2's possible quarterfinal opponent, though, had much more difficulty. Robin Soderling, who hit 74 unforced errors, needed 5 sets to dismiss Andreas Haider-Maurer, a mainstay on the challenger tour. 13th seed Jurgen Melzer also needed to go the distance to earn his victory, while Marin Cilic cruised to a 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 win.

Venus Williams showed off her shiny black fringe dress under the lights with a 4 and 1 defeat of Roberta Vinci. Francesca Schiavone also impressed, surrendering just 1 game to Ayumi Morita in her opening match. Victoria Azarenka is considered a favorite to take home the title, but after a great start, bageling Monia Niculescu in the first set, the Belarusian suffered a lapse in concentration and had to go to 3 sets to advance. Both Flavia Pennetta and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova cruised into the second round with straight-set victories, and 32nd seeded Tsvetana Pironkova, a Wimbledon semifinalist, notched a 2-set win.

Andy Roddick didn't come into the Open with the preparation he would have liked, but the American made quick work of Stephane Robert, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, to move into the second round. Also in Roddick's quarter is Nikolay Davydenko, who won easy as well, taking out Michael Russell in straights. Gael Monfils and Robert Kendrick had a marathon match, lasting well over 4 hours, that included some controversy too. The Frenchman took out the crowd fave 6-4 in the fifth to advance. Other men's winners included Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Montanes and Richard Gasquet, while Lleyton Hewitt was upset by Paul-Henri Mathieu in 5 tough sets.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters was second on Ashe after American Melanie Oudin earned a 56 minute win. Clijsters defeated Greta Arn 6-0, 7-5 while her potential final 8 opponent, Sam Stosur, earned a 3-set comeback win over Elena Vesnina. Elena Dementieva trounced Olga Govortsova, 6-1, 6-2, and fellow Russian Alisa Kleybanova earned a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Joanna Larsson. Former number 1 Dinara Safina's struggles continued, as she crashed out to 24th seed Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-4. Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova and Gisela Dulko all triumphed as well.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

US Open Men's Predictions

In Juasn Martin del Potro's absence from the year's final major, no one comes in as the defending champion, but this year's Open could be the year where the big 4's authority is restored.

1st Quarter

Rafael Nadal comes into the Open as the top seed, but it's no mystery that his best results don't come in New York. He's reached two semifinals here, but his road usually ends there, as he ran out of gas in an embarrassing defeat to JMDP in 2009. The Spaniard, though, is well rested and hopes to complete the career Grand Slam. His quarter, which includes Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez, is relatively soft, with the exception of an Argentine, not Del Potro, who is injury-free and finding his game again just in time to make a big run.

That person is David Nalbandian, who has missed the last 6 Majors with various injuries. His backhand is lethal and he has the experience to return to the late stages in a slam. He won two titles in the US Open Series, which included an 11-match winning streak, and has a manageable road to the quarters, where he would most likely meet Rafa. I imagine Nalbandian to reach the second week, but the world number 1 could be a bit too much for him to handle.

Early-rounder to watch for: Gilles Simon vs. Donald Young

Quarterfinals: Nadal def. Nalbandian

2nd Quarter

Andy Murray enters this year's Open after a very successful summer, where the Scot triumphed in Montreal, beating Nadal and Federer along the way. The 4th seed could face potential sleepers as early as the third round, as Sam Querrey and Nicolas Almagro pose a threat. On the other side of the quarter, Wimbledon finalist and 7th seed Tomas Berdcyh looms, along with John Isner.

Murray won't have an easy time maneuvering through a quarter of this depth, but, this being his favorite tournament, the 2008 runner-up should reach the semis. Unless Berdych gives Andy another royal beatdown like he did at the French, look for yet another Murray/Rafa battle on Super Saturday.

Early-rounder to watch for: Radek Stepanek vs. Tommy Robredo

Quarterfinals: Murray def. Berdych

3rd Quarter

Novak Djokovic is no stranger to success at the last major of the year, as he has reached the last 3 semifinals, including a 2007 runner-up finish. He'll be looking to continue his success in the big apple and win his first major since the 2008 Australian Open, but he has some hard-court specialists standing in his way. Andy Roddick is the 9th seed and has always had success at his country's Grand Slam. He is coming off a brief bout with mono that slowed him down over the summer, but should he be healthy, the American's always a danger. 6th seed Nikolay Davydenko is also a seasoned hard-courter, but a shortage of momentum, confidence and a possible 2nd round encounter with Richard Gasquet will probably send the Russian home early.

Mardy Fish, though, is a legitimate threat. He played the tennis of his life over the summer, winning two titles and giving Roger Federer a run for his money in the Cincinnati final. It's been a long time coming for the American, but could he have peaked a week or two early? That remains to be seen, but it's no doubt the 3rd quarter will pack the drama.

Early-rounder to watch for: Gael Monfils vs. Igor Andreev

Quarterfinals: Djokovic def. Roddick

4th Quarter

Could Roger Federer regain his title at the US Open and silence his many doubters? That's what the pundits are saying, as the Swiss is the most popular pick to win the title. In 6 years worth of matches in NYC, the world number 2 has lost just 1 match, in last year's final, to DelPo. Without the Argentine here, and after a title last week in Cincy, Fed will be entering the Open with tons of confidence. Before a possible meeting with Robin Soderling, a familar foe, in the quarters, Federer will have to get by Lleyton Hewitt and Juan Carlos Ferrero, two former number 1's.

Soderling has consistently given Federer troubles in the past year, most notably ending his semifinal streak in Roland Garros. But, should the meet, the Maestro will be playing with a vengeance, and he's awfully hard to beat if you catch him in the second week.

Early-rounder to watch for: Hewitt vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu

Quarterfinals: Federer def. Soderling

Semifinals: Murray def. Nadal, Federer def. Djokovic

Finals: Murray def. Federer

Champion: Andy Murray

Lil Wayne is a Tennis Fanatic

Written proof that Lil Wayne is a tennis nerd just like the rest of us!

He's actually quite educated on the sport, and really has his numbers down. He even took the time to write this guest article for Sports Illustrated out of his busy schedule in prison. Impressive.

US Open Women's Predictions

With no Serena Williams, the women's field at this year's US Open is about as wide open as it gets, or is it?

1st Quarter

Caroline Wozniacki comes in as the top seed because of Williams' absence. She has reached just 1 Major final and has been heavily criticized due to her seeding, but the Dane comes in on a roll. Her breakthrough came in the big apple last year, and after dominating the US Open Series, Wozzi looks to be fit for yet another deep run. But she's slipped up many times already in 2010, a year that was supposed to bring her her maiden Grand Slam title. Plus, her section isn't soft.

A possible meating with popular dark-horse Maria Sharapova, nearing pre-shoulder surgery form, looms in the 4th round, and should she battle past the Russian glamazon, seasoned hard-courters Li Na or Svetlana Kuznetsova await in the quarters. Watch out for Kuzzie, who's game looks to be returning to top form.

Early-rounder to watch for: Kuznetsova vs. 40 year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm

Quarterfinals: Kuznetsova def. Sharapova

2nd Quarter
When looking at the draw's 2nd section, no one immediate springs into mind as the clear favorite. Jelena Jankovic is the top seed, but she's no sure bet to make a run. When she's fit and free of excuses, she's one of the game's best, shown at this same tournament two years ago, when she reached the final. Without confidence, though, she's vulnerable to lose to anyone. Vera Zvonareva has kept up her game from Wimbledon, where she reached the finals, and Radwanska, Petrova and Wickmayer all love the hard-courts.

This quarter is deep in talent, but low in confidence, which could be just the recipe for a sleeper like Andrea Petkovic to shine. The German has a tricky start against Petrova, but has the ability to knock off the other women standing in her way, like Zvonareva and Radwanska. Look for the youngster to make a big run, but fall short against a certain Serb.

Early rounder to watch for: Sabine Lisicki vs. Coco Vandeweghe

Quarterfinals: Jankovic def. Petkovic

3rd Quarter
Venus Williams should have an easy time sailing through the 3rd quarter, where she sits, seeded 3rd. Francesca Schiavone is the next highest seed, but she doesn't seem to be too inspired after winning the French Open, and will probably bow out in the early rounds on a surface that hasn't always brought her the best results. Victoria Azarenka, though, could give Venus some trouble. The Belarusian has been a popular pick to go far, and even win this year's Open, but it's been more than 2 years since the elder Williams triumphed at a slam, and with her sister gone, there are no excuses this time. Azarenka has had a great summer, but I'm not convinced she's ready to go a full 2 weeks without a mental breakdown of some sort.

Shahar Peer and Flavia Pennetta are two clean hitters that could provide some bumps for the section's top seeds, but they lack the consistency and mental toughness to capitalize on their talents. Anaztasia Pavlyuchenkopva is also primed for a breakthrough, but an early run-in with Azarenka could put an end to her hopes.

Early-rounder to watch for: Pennetta vs. Agnes Szavay

Quarterfinals: Williams def. Azarenka

4th Quarter
The 4th quarter looks to be the toughest quarter, and 2nd seeded Kim Clijsters will have her hands full trying to defend her US Open title. The Belgian played beautifully in winning the title in Cincinnati before suffering a heel injury that kept her out of the rest of the US Open Series. Sam Stosur, 5th seed, was the tour's top player in the first half of the year, but since her runner-up appearance in Paris, the Aussie has looked all kinds of shaky, and isn't in a position to make noise in NYC, especially on a surface that doesn't benefit her lethal kick-serve. A 3rd round encounter with a powerful Russian seeded 28th, Alisa Kleybanova, could send Stosur packing.

Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic have all been around the game a while, and despite having fallen far from the top of the rankings, are all capable of putting together a run. Each has reached multiple Major finals, but are lacking in confidence and have had dismal 2010 seasons. Clijsters is the safe pick, and most likely the right one.

Early-rounder to watch for: Daniela Hantuchova vs. Safina

Quarterfinals: Clijsters def. Dementieva

Semifinals: Jankovic def. Kuznetsova, Clijsters def. V. Williams

Finals: Clijsters def. Jankovic

Champion: Kim Clijsters

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Red Carpet at Heineken's US Open Player's Party

Heineken held it's annual US Open Player's Party on Friday night, which ironically enough, not many players attended. But that's alright, because the event wasn't lacking in gorgeous models and reality TV personalities.

Serena Williams showed up, still with a cast, in a micro-mini black sheath with colorful horizontal lines and studded Louboutin flats.
Venus joined her little sis' donning clack skinny jeans and a white-belted top.

Real Housewives of New York's Jill Zarin accessorized her flowing orange dress with a black Chanel bag and peep toes.

Olympic gold-medalist Lindsey Vonn wore a long-sleeved animal print number with black strappy sandals.

Stunning model Lisalla Montengro showed a whole lot of leg in her Herve Leger mini dress.

Zarin's castmate on Real Housewives, Kelly Bensimon, wore a green empire-waist dress to go along with her giant K-Factor racquet.

Gossip Girl's Kelly Rutherford kept it simple and classy in a black knee-length dress with black pumps.

From left, Dave Haywood, Hillary Scoot and Charles Kelly, of Grammy winning group Lady Antebellum attended.

Former Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon rocked her Herve Leger coral mini.