Sunday, January 31, 2010

Federer Dominates Murray for Sweet 16th Slam

"I'm over the moon."

Those were the words of Roger Federer following his flawless performance in the Australian Open finals. The Swiss number 1 was serving near perfectly and hit his forehand as good as ever in the 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win over Andy Murray. Just when a few of you thought that Roger had nothing left to prove, he amazed us again, hitting 46 winners and 11 aces, controlling the tempo the entire match and never letting the Brit implement his strategy.

Andy was gracious in defeat, but also heartbroken, struggling to hold back tears when confronting his fans back home.

The best moment, though was this quote:

“I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.”

Murray's serve let him down, just as Federer's did in last year's final, as the 5th seed served at just 57 % while hitting 36 errors and 29 winners. He did, though, up his level in the 3rd set, grabbing a 5-2 lead before the world number 1 took the set to a tiebreak, where Murray wasted 5 set points, eventually losing the breaker 13-11.

The victory was Federer's 16th career slam and 4th Australian open title, putting him comfortably in front of the pack for career majors. He was able to lift his game to a level practically unheard of, improving his head-to-head against Murray to 5-6.

In the trophy ceremony, Federer assured Murray that he has no need to worry, saying, "you're way too good of a player not to win one."

Here was one of the better parts of Fed's post-match presser:

Q. How will you celebrate tonight? Any different?

ROGER FEDERER: Friends and family, you know. See if the babies are up. Hope not (smiling). Otherwise I’ll wake them up tomorrow or I’ll just grab them because I’m so happy.

No, we’ll just have a good time tonight with drinks and food. That’s what I usually do, regardless if I win or lose. It’s something I’ve got the habit, you know, because I got a lot of support. I just like to let the tournament unwind a bit, you know, see where it ends. At 12:00 apparently we have a photo shoot.

Gotta wonder how many more of these things Roger can win after seeing him play at such a high level today.

Congrats Rog!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Superb Serena Squeaks Past Henin for 5th Aussie Open

A Serena/Justine major final was long overdue, but tennis got it's wish Saturday night in Melbourne. The 2 future hall-of-famers did battle on the sports' biggest stage, and the results exceeded expectations.
The two matched each other shot for shot, but more importantly, the ladies' determination was on display at it's finest. These two wanted this title more than anything else, and it was a shame there had to be a loser. The momentum swung like their racquets, and this match was about the tennis, more than anything. There was no chat about the dresses, or their multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, or anything else that the rest of the WTA is unfortunately plagued with. There was nothing negative about it. It was greatness.

And eventually Serena prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a match that featured beautiful shotmaking, gritty fist pumps and drama. Henin though, deserves all the credit in the world. It wasn't until she ran into Serena that her spectacular comeback run ended, and she probably would have been crowned the champ if anyone else was across the net from her.
In the opening set, there was little separating Henin and Williams. Serena got an early break thanks to 1 bad game from her opponent, but the Belgian leveled the match at 4-4 when she broke back. Serena played two impressive games to take the set, and then the tables turned.

Henin played an aggressive brand of tennis and got to every ball to capture the 2nd set 6-3, winning the last 4 games and the last 10 points. In the 3rd, Henin's domination continued, but it didn't take long for ReRe to regain control. Williams broke twice to get a chance to serve for the match, where she eventually closed it out in 2 hours and 6 minutes to capture her 5th Australian Open title (1st in an even-numbered year) and 12th major, tying Billie-Jean King.

"I feel amazing. I feel like it happened but it hasn't happened, so it's really kind of cool. I really am in the moment right now," Williams told the media.

Just 5 points separated the two in the end, as Serena had a monster serving day with 12 aces, while Henin's 1st serve percentage disappointed.

“I feel really special that I was able to tie Billie Jean King. Because in my heart of hearts, I've been going for it and I haven't been able to quite achieve it ... It was good to tie her, but what I'm more enthused about is what she did off the court,” said Williams after her win.

The two were very complementary of each other following there battle.

“She clearly hasn't like lost a step at all since she's been gone,” said Serena. “I think her game is definitely better. I mean, it was excellent before she left. But, you know, I think she's added a lot to it. She can go really far. As you saw today, she took me to the umpteenth level. So I feel like I played a girl who's been on the tour for the past five years without a break.”

And Henin obviously should be extremely proud of herself, despite the obvious disappointment.

"It's been a very emotional two weeks for me,'' said the 27 year old. "I thought it would never happen to me again. I'd like to congratulate Serena. She's a real champion.''

"It's just more than what I could expect, I just have to remember that,'' Justine told the press. "Even if it's quite soon after the match now, I'm sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days. It's been almost perfect. Just the last step, I couldn't make it.''

Roland Garros. Don;t be stupid and seed Justine in the top 4.

Take note, WTA. This is how it should be done.

Congrats ladies!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Venus and Serena Take Home the Doubles Title

Serena Williams of the United States (L) and her sister Venus Williams (R) hold trophy during the awarding ceremony,

The Williams sisters simply can't be stopped.

Venus and Serena added yet another major doubles title to their resumes when the ladies took home the Australian Open title on Friday, defeating world number 1 doubles team Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4, 6-3.

Serena and Venus Williams

The sisters' doubles accomplishments often go unnoticed, but when they step on the court in unsion, they seem invincible. The title is their 12th major in doubles together, and their 3rd straight, as they also dominated at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Venus always stresses how she looks after her sister, but on match point, it was big sis that was discombobulated. Here's the scoop;

Q. Venus, talk us through the last point or so, because it seemed that it was done and dusted and you were ready to go again.

VENUS WILLIAMS: I actually didn’t know the score. I thought that it was 5‑2. I really don’t know how I lost track. So I was confused, but I guess that’s just focus.

Q. What was going through your mind? Serena was happy…

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, I thought, She’s really happy about this break. (Laughter.) I thought, Wow, I’ve never seen her this happy. But I’ll go with it.

Q. Serena, were you stunned by the sort of lack of response you were getting back?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I thought, Okay, this is exciting. You know, we defended our title and she was like, What’s going on? I’m like, The match is over. We’re done now. It was funny.

Q. So you had no time to get nervous? What was your feeling?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. That’s what I said. I was like, Serena, I guess it’s easier to hold at 3‑2 instead of 4‑3. I thought it was breakpoint. I didn’t know it was match ‑‑ I mean, I need to play all my matches like this without knowing the score. I think it would help.

Serena and Venus Williams
Take a moment to appreciate these two, because our sport would be so different without them. Congrats!!

Aussie Open Women's Final Preview

A few days before the 1st day of the Aussie Open we all glanced at the draw to see where Justine Henin and Serena Williams were placed, and I know I dont speak for myself when I say that. The fact that they were on opposite sides made it difficult to wish for the two to meet in the final, considering the depth of the women's game, but looking back, I don't know why I ever picked against them. First, Serena is Serena. She'll punish a few aces, cross the opposite end as her opponent on the changeover, give a few looks of death, and then punish a few returns. It doesn't matter if she's fighting a match point, or if it's the 1st point of the match. The tenacity of Serena is unmatched in tennis, and quite possibly, in sports. Victoria Azarenka found that out in their quarterfinal, as Serena was seemingly inept until she was down a set and 4-0. From that point on, we recieved a classic Serena performance, The kind that reminds you that this girl came from nothing, had nothing, and endured everything. The kind of performance that makes us happy to be a tennis fan, a Serena fan.

Now, on to Justine Henin. After being away from the game for almost 2 years, the Belgian has come back as smart as ever, as fast as ever, and as good as ever. Henin version 2.0 you could call it. She had some trouble early on, but continued her pursuit with a smile on her face and nothing to lose. Oh, and how could we forget that beautiful backhand that clearly never left. Henin's grace and variety set her apart from the rest of the WTA. Her grit is right up there with Williams, and her 5'5 frame somehow manages to outserve the best of them. The American leads their head-to-head 7-6, but that seems regardless. As Serena said in her presser, "It'll come down to who wants it more."

Prediction: Williams in 3

Rafa Out for 4 Weeks with a Tear in the Knee

After being forced to retire mid-match against Andy Murray at the Australian Open a few days ago, the AP is reporting that world number 2 Rafael Nadal will be forced to take 4 weeks off to recover from an entirely new knee injury. The Spaniard flew to Barcelona from Melbourne to have tests done of his legs, and this injury is not a recurrence of the tendinitis that shortened his 200 campaign, rather a slight time that will cause Rafa to miss tournaments in Rotterdam, and possibly Spain's Davis Cup tie in March.

“After two weeks and depending on the results of the different tests and controls, he will steadily resume his sporting activity with a total recovery time to resume competition in fours weeks,” said Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, Nadal's doc.

“I feel good and I am only thinking now of recovering well,” said the 6-time major champ. “My main goal right now is to get ready again and fit to play the upcoming events once I am able to compete. It is a big disappointment for me not to be able to play at … Rotterdam this year.”

Nadal's world ranking will unfortunately drop from 2 to 4 following the AO. Such a shame, considering we all know he doesn't belong there.

Get well fast!

Aussie Open Day 11 &12: Serena and Henin, Federer and Murray to Square Off for AO Titles

Throughout Roger Federer's illustrious career, perfection has been expected, and nothing less. Obviously, we know that can't always be accomplished by on Day 12 of the Australian Open, the world number 1 gave the crowd a masterful display. The Swiss thwarted 10th seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in advancing to his 8th consecutive major final, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. In just 88 minutes of play, Federer hit 33 winners to just 13 winners, breaking serve 5 times and not once being broken. Roger will get his chance to win back his Aussie Open title on Saturday, and it won't be easy.
The other world number 1, Serena Williams, had to fight a little more than expected to get her crack at the trophy. In the semifinal, Serena took on her sister's conqueror, Li Na, defeating the Chinese 7-6(4), 7-6(1), hitting 33 winners to 24 errors, while her opponent had a ratio of -18. Williams will go for her 5th Australian Open title and 1st in an odd-numbered year at 7:30 pm Melbourne time, 3:30 am Friday morning ET.

Federer's championship opponent? Andy Murray. The Scot defeated Marin Cilic in 4 sets, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. After getting off to a slow start, Murray played some of his best tennis of the tournament in derailing the Croatian 14th seed, who hit almost double the amount of errors as Muzz in his 1st ever Grand Slam semifinal. Federer and Murray met in the 2008 US Open final where the Swiss prevailed in straight sets, but Andy leads the head-to-head 6-4.

The story of the tournament, Justine Henin, kept her title hopes alive when she surrendered just 1 game in a dominating performance against Jie Zheng. The Belgian will face frenemy Serena in the final riding a wave of momentum after hitting just 14 unforced errors in 51 minutes on the court. Zheng's run reached a screeching halt, as she hit 3 winners in defeat.

Could we have asked for a better women's final? Grab your red bull, because I'm getting up at 3:30 am to watch this classic. Here is a piece from Henin's presser:

Q. Are you surprised it’s taken you so long to play Serena in a Grand Slam final?
JUSTINE HENIN: We’ve never played in a Grand Slam final in the past. It’s my first Grand Slam since I’m back, and we’re already there. So it’s more than a dream. I mean, I’m so happy to play against her because if I want to win another Grand Slam, I’ll have to beat the best player of the world. And that’s just the biggest challenge I could get.

I have to be honest, I didn’t really expect that. But now that’s a reality that is coming. I will try to be at my best.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aussie Open Day 10: Serena Keeps on Fighting, Federer's Rally Call, Tsonga, Li Reach the Final 4

If it wasn't conspicuous enough already, it became a widely known fact on Tuesday that Serena Williams will NEVER give up. The top seed was up against Victoria Azarenka, who has had her way with Williams before. The Belarusian came out playing the tennis of her life, breaking Serena in the opening game, taking the 1st set 6-4 and quickly grabbing a 4-0 lead in the 2nd. Just when it seemed like the American was down and out, classic Serena showed her superior grit in reeling off 5 straight games, and winning the 2nd set tiebreak 7-4. In the 3rd set, Williams lifted her game to a level rarely seen in tennis. Hitting 18 winners compared to just 3 errors in the decider, Williams moved onto the semifinals (with a heartbeat).

Here's a snippet of Serena's presser:

Q. You weren’t feeling physically good or mentally, what?

SERENA WILLIAMS: You know, physically, but I was able to push through it. You know, I think that’s fine. Like I said, I don’t make any excuses. Win, lose are or draw, I’m here and I have a heartbeat, and that’s more than a lot of people have.

Roger Federer also barely kept his heart beating. Nikolay Davydenko came into their quarterfinal match with loads of confidence, having beating the Swiss in their last 2 meetings. But, of course, Grand Slams are a whole different animal, and an animal that Mr. Federer knows all too well how to tame. Davydenko began the match playing with the same tenacity and pounding groundstrokes that won him the title at the WTF's in November as The Russian jumped out to a 6-2, 3-1 lead. Then, Federer took a quick bathroom break, probably to change one of the twins diapers, and worked his magic, winning the next 13 GAMES to win the 2nd and 3rd set. Kolya got back on the board by the 4th set, but his opponent was rolling at that point, as the world number 1 moved on to his 23rd consecutive major semifinal with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win. "I knew I wasn’t looking very good." said Fed. "That’s the beauty of best of fives sets. I wasn’t panicking."
And Davy's hilarious press conference deserves a shoutout:

Q. What was going through your mind as you were losing all those games (in the third set)?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Pissed off. (Laughter.) What else? Yeah. Like say I’m pissed off of my serve. Pissed off. I didn’t realize this point, I didn’t realize this point. It’s like everything was shit (laughter.)

But what else? Bad luck. Go home tomorrow, relax.

Q. It’s good you can laugh about it now. Many players would be pissed off after the match. You’re laughing now.

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yeah, with you guys, what I need to do?

Sticking with the theme of day 10, Li Na dropped the first set, only to stage a comeback and join her countrywoman Jie Zheng as the 1st Chinese women to ever reach the Aussie Open semifinals. Venus Williams lead Li 6-2, 5-3, and served for the match at 5-4, but threw in a hand full of double faults and careless errors, giving the 16th seed an opportunity to work her way into the match. Li won the 2nd set tiebreak 7-4, and after 9 service breaks and an extremely sloppy match, eventually won the match 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Venus summarized her failures quite simply, saying, "In tennis you have to close it out. It’s not like there’s a clock ticking and then suddenly it’s over. You just have to close it out. I didn’t do that today.”

In the night match, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put on an energetic display of acrobatic tennis as the Frenchman avenged his 2008 final loss down under to Novak Djokovic, defeating the world number 3 7-6 (8), 6-7 (5), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. Nole was effected by injuries and exhaustion, but it was no excuse, as the 10th seeded Tsonga out-aced the Serb 19-2 and hit 54 winners.

Djoko gave us a little TMI afterwards:

"It was unfortunate that I couldn't perform on the level that I wanted to in the fourth and fifth set. I don't want to find excuses for my loss, but, you know, I went to vomit and I had diarrhea before the match. Just a terrible feeling."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rafa's Aussie Open Presser: Nadal Speaks on his Knee Injury

The Australian Open was hit by the injury bug again, as Rafael Nadal was forced to retire from his quarterfinal match with Andy Murray down 2 sets and a break.Rafa's knees were the subject of pain, again, the same injury that hampered the Spaniard French Open and Wimbledon campaigns last year

The questions about the longevity of Nadal's career will start to pour in, but he claims that he will recover, and that, no, he WILL NOT change his playing or training style because of this. His knees are clearly bipolar. This is just too bad, considering Rafa's game was really starting to come full circle again

Here is his post-match presser:

Q. Could you let us know what the condition is, what the latest story is with the knee. It’s very unusual for you to stop during a match.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, well, is not a lot of history because was during the match. Was in the end of the second set in one drop. And I feeled similar thing to what I had last year.

And, yes, after that I can’t go down after that, no? So was impossible to win the match. When I have the chance to play, I never retired. Anyway, like I know I going to lose like I did in Rotterdam like last year. I say sorry to Andy for that.

I felt pain still there without no one minimum chance to do nothing, the same time is hard for me be five more games there without try nothing, no? So I don’t know if I still playing can go worst or something. So I said, well, no repeat the same mistake like I had last year. I go to the limit, but not cross the limit, no?

Q. Was that the most aggressive he’s played against you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Andy played really well I think. I think he’s at unbelievable level, no? That may be with how I did too. I think my level was very high today, too. I had big chances. I had big chances to win both sets. And I think against probably the player who is playing better right now, I was very close.

So I go out from this tournament very happy about my level because the perspective is much better right now than two or three months ago, no, when I lost in the Masters Cup. All the matches, in that matches, I didn’t see one no way to play again my tennis. Now I am playing another time at my best level. Today I think was amazing match first two sets. Both, I think we played really well. And I have the chances.

He served ‑‑ his serve was unbelievable with my chances, with the 30‑All, with the Love‑30, with the breakpoints. Just congratulate him because he’s doing really well, and I think he gonna has a big chance to win this tournament.

Q. Is it the same sort of injury?

RAFAEL NADAL: I say before yes.

Q. Does it feel worse or the same?


Q. Does it feel as bad as it did last year?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know, no? Is happen few minutes ago, no?

Q. It happened the end of the second set?


Q. You were talking about your level of play today. When do you think you last played as confidently and as well as you were doing for the first two sets?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think last time was here last year.

Q. Here last year?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Because after that I played well few matches in Indian Wells. But after that started the pain. And after the pain, I didn’t play bad, but far away from this level, no? I worked a lot at home. Lot of months working to play at this level now.

For sure for me is little bit disappointing have the pain on the knee because I think I am very close to start winning these important matches, no? And I think I gonna do soon.

Q. Are there any changes you’re going to make to your training style or your playing style?

RAFAEL NADAL: Don’t start, guys, with these questions right now. I think is not the right moment. I think I changed the style to play. If you see my matches 2005 or 2004, 2006, I run a lot compared to now, no?

So today I played against one of the best players of the world, and I think I wasn’t run more than him. So I played aggressive. I played having the control of the point, a lot of the time with the forehand and the backhand, too, returning aggressive. If you see my matches three years ago, that’s didn’t happen, no?

Remember, we are playing on hard courts. Probably in this surface I have to play my best tennis, like today, if I really want to have chances to win. If not, then the opponents, there are really good players, and Andy’s unbelievable. He’s playing really well. You know, with these matches, I think I was very close today. But just little bit more calm when I had the break.

Q. How confident can you be that your knee problems are going to suddenly stop?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I worked a lot. I didn’t have lot of problems for the last six months. And today is the first time, no? I felt something when I think is a bad movement. But is not, you know, because the knee is tired or has been a bad movement or gesture.

No, I think going to be okay.

Q. Are you worried how long your knee might keep you out?


Q. You don’t think it will keep you out for a long time?

RAFAEL NADAL: I repeat: I said before, I think is impossible to me to know after half an hour.

Come back ASAP, Rafa! Tennis needs you.

Aussie Open Day 9: Murray Romps Rafa, Cilic Fights off A-Rod, Zheng, Henin to Meet in Semis

Let me start by saying HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY to all of those down under.
As good as Andy Murray has looked at this year's Australian Open, it was hard to see him playing at an even higher level, but the Scot did just that Monday night, as he used a perfect balance of offense and defense to pulverize Rafael Nadal. The 5th seeded Murray clicked on all cylinders in the 1st set, winning it 6-3 before Rafa turned it up a notch and took the 2nd set to a tiebreak. After that, things were only negative. The Spaniard was pushed around in the breaker, losing it 7-2. In the 3rd set, Murray jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the same injury that forced Nadal out of the 2009 Wimbledon Championships returned. The world number 2's famed knee tendinitis forced him to retire from the match at 3-6, 6-7 (2), 0-3.
Let's all pray that this injury doesn't hinder Rafa for long. He looked like he was ready to return to his summer 2008 form. What a bummer.
Justine Henin reached the semifinals after she successfully kept her title hopes alive with a straight-set win over Nadia Petrova. At times we saw the old Petrova, the head cased one that over-hits her shots at unnecessary times, but overall, both ladies were playing high-level tennis, and it was Justine that had the fire lit within her. The Belgian told the press, "I think it (the Australian Open) was the best place for me to start again. So it’s just great. Here in Australia I had different feelings in the past. But for me, I mean, when I lost to Sharapova, it was a difficult moment in my career. When I had to retire in the final in 2006, it was one of the worst moments of my career. But I just keep positive things."

The other men's semifinal, between Marin Cilic and Andy Roddick, had plenty of momentum changes, but it was the 6'6 Croatian who rode the final wave of confidence, outlasting Roddick in 5 sets to reach his 1st Grand Slam semi and win his 3rd 5 setter of the tournament. Cilic hit 63 winners and 20 aces, outplaying Roddick in both categories by 12 and 5 respectively. The American was complimentary of his younger opponent afterwards, stating that, "He keeps it together real well. Unlike a lot of the young guys who are very emotionally up and down, he doesn’t beat on his chest, he stays the course, he’s very deliberate, he hits the ball very well. Doesn’t give an inch on the baseline. He literally sets up shop right behind the baseline and isn’t going to be moved."
Wonder if Marin will be able to recover in time to play his semifinal match vs. Murray.

The most under-the-radar of the remaining contenders in men's and women's singles is Jie Zheng, but 5'5 Chinese didn't play like it on Monday. Her on-point shot placement and great movement caused problems for her Russian opponent, Maria Kirilenko, as Zheng dominated for a 6-1, 6-3 win. This is her 2nd GS semifinal appearance, and her compatriot, Li Na, will have a chance to join her in the final 4 tomorrow. After the match, Zheng told the press of her admiration for her semifinal opponent, Justine Henin, saying "Yeah, first of all, I favor her for her is have the so strong the mentally. I watch her play always ‑ how you say ‑ enjoy to watch her for play. For second I think is tough match for me, is big challenge. But I like it. I want do something, yeah"

Bode Miller to Take a Chance at Tennis

Olympic skiier Bode Miller will try out for the 2010 US Open this summer after the Olympics. Miller, a former high school tennis star, will pick up a racquetr at the U.S. National Playoffs, events held in numerous USTA sections in April-June. The winner of each playoff will earn a wildcard into the qualifying of the year's final GS in August. Although the 32 year old is using the event "an outlet to focus my competitiveness after the Olympics and World Cup season," he's still serious about it.

You can try out too, if you're over 14 and have $125 to waste. I mean spare.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aussie Open Day 8: Serena, Federer Dominate, Tsonga, Davy and Azarenka Advance in Epics

Victoria Azarenka, the 7th seed at this year's Australian Open, mounted a fierce comeback in the early morning hours on Monday to oust Vera Zvonareva 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. The Belarusian won the last 10 games of the match to hand Zvonareva her 2nd straight heartbreaking Grand Slam loss, as the Russian blew 6 match points in her match with Flavia Pennetta at the US Open. Azarenka will fight for a chance to reach the semis against Serena Williams, who blew Sam Stosur off the court. The American has lost just 15 games in 4 matches in Melbourne, but has a history of being outplayed by Azarenka.

Many thought Lleyton Hewitt would present a challenge for the world number 1, Roger Federer, but the Swiss proved the doubters wrong, as he played his most impressive match thus far in easily beating the Aussie 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Nikolay Davydenko, though, did not have such an easy time with 9th seed Fernando Verdasco. Davy won the 1st 2 sets with ease, but was taken to a 5th by the Spaniard, who needed a while to find his game. Davydenko won the match 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3 and will take on Federer, who he has a 2-12 career record against.
Li Na shocked Caroline Wozniacki in their 4th round encounter, taking out the 4th seeded Dane easily, 6-4, 6-3. Wozniacki hit just 3 winners compared to 22 errors while the Chinese's difference was far less drastic, 21 to 33.

Na will play Venus Williams, who struggled much more in her match, as she was stretched to 3 sets by 17th seeded Francesca Schiavone. The Italian won the first set 6-3, but Venus eventually proved far to powerful, winning the next 2 sets 6-2 and 6-1.

The electrifying Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lit up Melbourne Park with his 5 set win over number 26 Nicholas Almagro. In the 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (6), 9-7 victory, Tsonga hit 77 winners to just 44 errors, while Almagros inability to convert break points hurt the Spaniard.
Tsonga will get a chance to avenge his 2008 Melbourne final loss to Novak Djokovic when he plays the Serb in the quarterfinals. Djokovic had an easy time with unseeded Lukasz Kubot, winning the match 6-1, 6-2, 7-5.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Straight-Up Vodka? Not for Davy

Nikolay Davydenko has conspicuously become the media's new darling; thus, he hasn't been asked too much in his press conferences about tennis. The topics have varied from what other Russian player he would marry to whether he'll ever write a book.

The best of them all, though, came on January 21st, when the Russian was asked if he's a vodka drinker. Here is the transcript:

Q. Are you a vodka drinker?


Q. Is that where you get your strength from?

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: No, I don't drink
really. I don't drink so much because, you see, I'm skinny. I mix only. Sometimes I drink clear vodka, sometimes mixed with Red Bull. Little bit get power in night club or disco.

Because if I drink only vodka I go sleep straight. That's what's something change.

No doubt this'll be on the list of best quotes at the end of the tournament. Expect many more Kolya LOLs.

Aussie Open Day 7: Cilic and Roddick Survive 5 Setters, Henin and Petrova Move On While Kuzzie, Safina Bow Out

Many times before, Marin Cilic has been dubbed "The Next Juan Martin del Potro". You can't deny the two have many similarities: their height, birth years, huge forehands and solid backhands. On day 7 of the Australian Open the two met in the round of 16, and the encounter exceeded expectations. Despite the fact that JMDP, who's numerous injuries proved more serious than suspected, had the edge in most of the statistical categories, the 14th seeded Cilic still edged out a victory, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 to upset the world number 4. DelPo's frustration got the best of him in the 4 hour 38 minute epic, as the Argentine knocked over the courtside trash cans and smashed his racquets, consequently blowing his shot at moving on to a 2nd straight Aussie Open quarterfinal.
In the quarters 2nd match, Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez battled into the wee hours of the morning, as the 7th seeded American came back from a 2 set to 1 deficit to win 6-2 in the 5th in 3 hours and 25 minutes.

In a battle of the Belgians, unseeded Justine Henin was thoroughly tested, and even breadsticked, by world number 16 Yanina Wickmayer before pulling the match out 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3. Although she lossed, Wickmayer's run has been quite the success story, as she was unfairly forced to go through the quallies to earn a spot in the main draw, which she did with ease. She has been overlooked by Kim and Justine, but there is no doubt in my mind that her time will come. After all, her game is extremely solid and she's proved she can play with the big girls.
Nadia Petrova kept her cinderella story going when she followed up her dominating win over Clijsters with a 3 set victory over number 3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova yesterday. The two Russians split the 1st 2 sets 6-3 before Petrova routed Kuzzie 6-1 in the decider. Henin won;t have an easy time with the 19th seeded Petrova in the quarters, as the Russian is as motivated as ever.

Q. Do you feel like you’ve left some things on the table in your career that you want to achieve?

NADIA PETROVA: That’s why, you know, I’m still here. That’s why I’m working hard and digging deep, because I know there’s still a lot to accomplish. There’s still a lot to let out. That’s what I’m really looking for. Like I’m looking for different little kind of like, you know, I know there’s a lot left, and I’m just trying to discover those things, you know.

I really want to finally be a complete player. I want to quit tennis knowing that, you know, I’ve done everything possible, I developed as much as I could, and I gave hundred percent of it.

Rafael Nadal had a tall task to overcome on Saturday, literally, as The Spaniard took on 6'10 Ivo Karlovic. Rafa had little trouble with the Croat, dropping the 2nd set 6-4, but winning the other 3 by the same score behind a stellar serving performance. The 2nd seed didn't have to do much to win besides hold serve, which Dr. Ivo's lack of a backhand made easy, and get a break or two.

Nadal's quaterfinal will be none other than rival Andy Murray. The Scot, who also had to cope with some monstrous serving from his 6'9 opponent, played a spectacular match in easily ousting John Isner 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2, commiting just 8 errors to 32 winners, while never once being broken.
Can't wait for Rafa/Murray! It's good to be a tennis fan these days.

Just when things looked like they were starting to come full circle, Dinara Safina was struck by the injury bug in her round of 16 match with Maria Kirilenko. The same back injury that plagued Safina at the WTA Year-End Championships returned to haunt the Russian, who was forced to retire in tears down 5-4 in the opening set.

“It’s my back again. It suddenly hit me and was getting worse and worse and I have no idea how it could happen. And it’s really, really terrible," the world number 2 told the press.

You can't help but feel for Dinara. She has tried so hard to finally nab her 1st major title, and this injury will be a major setback. What a bummer. Nonetheless, kudos to Kirilenko, who is on a magical run.

Zheng Jie will be Kirilenko's quarterfinal opponent. The Chinese 26 year old earned a straight set victory over Alona Bondarenko to put herself into position to be the first women from China to reach the semifinals down under. If you can remember, she reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2008.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Aussie Open Day 6: Serena, Federer and Djokovic Dominate, Zvonareva and Azarenka to Square Off

After suffering a few hiccups in the first 2 rounds, Novak Djokovic played his best tennis of the Australian Open in double-breadsticking Denis Istomin in a routine victory. Djoko will play Lukasz Kubot, who won by default when Mikhail Youzhny withdrew, in the round of 16. In the other section of Nole's quarter, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated 18th seeded Tommy Haas 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, hitting 47 winners in the process. The Frenchman's 4th round opponent will be Nicholas Almagro, who comfortably subdued Alenjandro Falla in straight sets.

She hasn't been talked about much, but Caroline Wozniacki has been steamrolling her opponents, and the world number 4 did just so in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Shahar Peer on Friday. Joining Wozzi in the 4th round is Li Na, the Dane's next opponent, who was stretched to 3 sets by Daniela Hantuchova in the 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Francesca Schiavone completely dictated play in her 2 and 2 upset of Agnieszka Radwanska, the 10th seed. The Italian will play Venus Williams, who secured a spot in the next round with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) win over Casey Dellacqua, the American's 3rd consecutive left-handed opponent.

Lleyton Hewitt and Fernando Verdasco, both located in the men's 1st quarter, were the beneficiaries of injuries to their respective opponents, when Marcos Baghdatis and Stefan Koubek both retired while down a set in their matches. In what is sure to be a captivating matchup, Verdasco, the 9th seed, will meet Nikolay Davydenko in the 4th round, who made quick work of the talented Juan Monaco, and is riding a wave of momentum after his 13th consecutive match win. Roger Federer also won with ease, eliminating Albert Montanes 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

For about the 100th time this week, Davy's press conference brought the LOLs. Here is an excerpt:

Q. If you had to marry another Russian tennis player, who would it be?


Q. Get married, like husband and wife.

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: If I married another tennis player? Man or woman? (Laughter.). I have already wife. I have my beautiful wife. I don’t want to have any ‑‑



Q. Sorry about that. (Laughter.)

The top section of the women's draw will feature 2 very exciting round of 6 matchups, as Vera Zvonareva and Victoria Azarenka both dominated in their 3rd rounders to ensure that the 9th and the 7th seed will meet. Serena Williams continued her plow through the draw when she gave up just 3 games to Carla Suarez Navarro. The top seed will play the home crowd fave, Sam Stosur, next.

Youzhny Forced to Withdraw from Melbourne w/ Wrist Injury

After pulling off 2 very impressive victories, 1 of them a 5 setter over Richard Gasquet, Russia's Mikhail Youzhny has been forced to withdraw from the Australian Open with a sprained wrist. The world number 2o played through the injury in his 2nd round match, an easy win over Jan Hajek, but was told by doctors that he risked further aggravating it if he stepped on court to play number 86 Lukasz Kubot in their 3rd round match.

I obviously can't feel the pain that Youzhny is playing with, but, there is a rumor that Nicholas Almagro has been competing with a broken wrist. Sort of puts Mikhail's toughness in question, because his is only sprained.

Get well soon.