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.

US Open Ads Go to New Heights

Here's the US Open's newest TV spots, featuring tennis' current stars (and some legends) climbing to new heights on some of New York's most famous monuments. Live coverage of the slam begins on Monday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Serena Rocks D&G at Hampton's Cover Party

Serena's foot injury hasn't slowed her down one bit. Before appearing at Hampton Magazine's Cover Party (above), the injured star hit up Nike's Primtime Knockout Event with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova.

At the cover party Serena continued her incredible style streak in a Dolce & Gabbana leopard print mini dress with lace detailing. Once again, the boot is a minor distraction, but Williams' head-to-knee perfection is the focal point. It also seems that Serena's good friend Kim Kardashian has given the world number 1 some makeup advice, and it's working!

It may be similar to Serena's other D&G leopard look, from her house party last month, but overall, another great outfit.

Williams and Russel Simmons

US Open Draws Revealed

On Thursday the US Open draw ceremony took place and for the first time was broadcast on ESPN2, with commentators like Mary Joe Fernandez and Brad Gilbert offering their analysis. Once again, the possibility of a Fedal final is in place, while women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki will have a rough path to the semis, as Li Na, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova were all drawn to the Dane's quarter.

My predictions for both the men's and women's event will be on their way in the next few days, but for now check out the draws HERE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Serena Hobbles to Louis Vuitton Event

Serena Williams' foot injury has clearly put a damper on her tennis career, causing her to miss next week's U.S. Open, but it must be nice to attend LA's top soirees in spite of the obvious disappointment. The world's top ranked player attended the Santa Monica opening of a new Louis Vuitton boutique last week, sporting a dress and belt from the brand. Unfortunately, Serena was forced to wear flats due to the not so glamorous cast, that she is clearly trying to hide, on her right foot, but all in all, it's just another successful high-fashion look from the star. Minus the bag.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

US Open Seedings Announced; Rafa and Caro Earn Top Seeds

The U.S. Open seedings, announced on Monday for the men and Tuesday for the women, strictly followed the rankings, but withdrawals by the likes of Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro have thrown a bit of a twist into this year's list. Caroline Wozniacki, ranked 2nd in the world, was awarded the top seed after Williams announced that she would be unable to compete due to a foot injury. Rounding out the top 4 is Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic. On the men's side, Rafael Nadal takes the top seed, followed by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Nando and Murray Go High Fashion in Magazine Spreads

Fernando Verdasco is no stranger to fashion spreads in huge advertisements and the top magazines, but doing it with his clothes on must have been a whole different animal. The Spaniard appeared in this month's GQ Magazine modeling the season's best business wear from fashion houses like Calvin Klein, Gucci and Hugo Boss.

Andy Murray, on the other hand, is quite unfamiliar with this whole modeling thing, so seeing his 4-page spread in this month's Vogue was quite a surprise. Murray sported mostly Burberry in his photographs, which were shot by noted fashion photographer Mario Testino.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Federer Fries Fish; Wins 4th Cincy Crown

Just goes to show you what a well-rested Roger Federer can achieve, right?

The 16-time Grand Slam champion ended a 7-month winless streak when he defended his Cincinnati Masters title with a tough 3-set win over Mardy Fish. Fish played incredibly to take the first set 7-6 (5), holding serve consistently before cracking the Swiss late in the breaker. Federer rebounded to take the second set by the same score, and continued his momentum into the decider, winning it 6-4 to capture his 4th title at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

The American played the tennis of his life to get to the championship match, derailing Fernando Verdasco, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick en route to his encounter with Federer. Roger, on the other hand, spent significantly less time on court, playing for just 3 hours and 17 minutes before the final match, which lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes.
“It’s nice knowing that the hard work already in the off season after Wimbledon pays off right away," said Federer, who, with the win, returned to number 2 in the world. The hard work has payed off for Fish, as well, as the 28-year old lost 30 pounds and started a new fitness regime last fall. Since July, he is 17-2, with titles in Atlanta and Newport. Hopefully, Mardy hasn't peaked to early, and will make some noise at the US Open.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Serena Withdraws From Next Week's US Open

We all assumed that Serena Williams would return to this year's US Open with a vengeance after the 2009 incident that disqualified her from her semifinal match, but the American will unfortunately be unable to do so, as she has pulled out of the year's final slam, citing a foot injury.

Shortly after her Wimbledon win in July, Williams stepped on broken glass at a restaurant in Munich and has been unable to play since. On July 15th the top-ranked Williams underwent surgery and yesterday announced her withdrawal.

Serena tweeted her devastation on Twitter and later released a statement through the AP expressing her "frustration and deep sadness," about being unable to regain the crown she won in 2008.

Serena isn't the only one hurting from this news. The US Open has also taken a huge hit, as many, including myself, come year after year to see the likes of Serena, Federer and Nadal.

Hopefully, Serena will return to the tour in the fall healthy and ready to pick up where she left off.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to Reality...

My 1-month hiatus has come to an end. It was nice to not have to worry about posting daily and what not, but it's great to be back bringing you tennis 24/7. So what happened when I left: Andy Murray was brilliant in Montreal, Federer hired Paul Annacone, David Nalbandian looked like a new man, Sharapova and Clijsters played some inspired tennis, Dinara Safina fell to world number 70, Ivanovic got back on track then fell off again and Murray and his coach parted ways.

This week the men are in Cincy while the ladies are in Toronto, and the year's final Grand Slam is less than two weeks away.

I got my vacay so now I'm back to full-on blogging again. I'd like to think I was terribly missed, but some voice in my head is telling me that that's a fabrication.