Archive for January, 2011


3 Days, 3 Shockers (or “How my men’s team died”)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

First day, first shocker.  Davydenko lost to Florian Mayer in 4 sets.  OMG!  Admittedly, Mayer had just beaten Delpo in his first match since his return to tennis, but that was easily dismissed.  Davydenko had never had trouble with Mayer before.  Mayer had rarely if ever shown the sort of tennis necessary to beat a player like Davydenko.  So the first round looked easy.

If form held, Nikolay’s first seeded opponent (3rd round) would have been Verdasco.  Nice.  Davydenko has a career mark of 7-1 against Verdasco, the only loss coming in ’05 on clay, and including a 5-set victory in last year’s Aussie Open.  I like that for an over-16 seed!

What’s more, Nikolay’s record against Berdych, clearly his probable R16 opponent, is 9-1, with Berdych’s only win coming on grass at Wimbledon in ’09, a surface Davydenko famously hates.  So Nikolay looked — after the draw and before the tourney started — like a near lock to be in the quarters against Djokovic.  Or so I thought.  Oops, no Davydenko.

I picked my unseeded male player by starting with the top ranked unseeded player and checking his first round and probable second round opponents.  Very important to have a weak first round opponent because of the big penalty for first round losses.  So who looked like the worst player in the draw?  Bernard Tomic.  The 18 year-old Aussie was 5-11 lifetime in ATP events, including 0-2 this year.  He tried to qualify for this tourney but was beaten in the first round of the quallies.  T more »


Early Wobblers…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As ever with a Grand Slam event, there are few big players that experience what I like to call ‘early wobblers’. Not all-out failures, just a little hiccup at the beginning of what could be an exemplary display, or something that could be the first signs of a crushing defeat later on.

Round two is usually the best place to find the early wobblers, when the top players can often meet their first big challenge of the tournament. The big early wobbler for round two was Roger Federer.

Yes, Roger Federer had ‘a little hiccup’ in Round Two.

To give Federer his due, he was facing Gilles Simon, a tough player to play wherever and whenever you may meet him. The Frenchman made Federer fight for his third round place, and pushed him to five sets before Roger eventually closed out the game. Simon is a problem for Roger Federer, and had lost the last two previous matches against him. Simon rattled Roger’s game, but it was not enough to break the second seed, and Federer eventually came away with a win by sheer nerve and skill 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Novak Djokovic also advanced to the third round, but he had a little wobbler of his own. His match was a battle against Ivan Dodig of Croatia, who forced the Serb into a subdued state of play that could have been the end of the game completely. But Djokovic found a way to pick his game – and his attitude – back up again, and finished the last sets with a blistering scoreline of 6-0 6-2. He will play Viktor Troicki (yes, the fello more »


Tennis stars come together for another good cause

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Sport is always a great way to bring awareness and knowledge to wide range of issues. Over the years it has been used to promote understanding about health, fitness, social injustice, and issues of race and ethnicity. It is also a great tool for helping people in moments of crisis. With the power of sport and its celebrity players, a lot of money and awareness can be raised to benefit so many people.

With tennis players now playing in Australia at the first Grand Slam event of the year, the devastating floods that have wreaked havoc across Australia are suddenly brought home to many tennis stars.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were amongst other tennis stars who played exhibition matches at Melbourne Park on Sunday 16th to try to do their bit in helping to relieve the devastating affects of the floods. With communities and lives washed away, tennis players did what they have done many times before, and came together for a good  cause.

The “Rally for Relief” event was held at the Rod Laver stadium in Melbourne, a place that will be the scene of so many more matches over the fortnight, but for one Sunday was used for the good of a crisis-stricken nation.  Of course for some players, the affects of the floods don’t need to be brought home. Australian players like Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur were at the heart of the Rally for Relief matches, and were eager to put their sporting talents to good use in helping their fellow Aussies in a tim more »


First Round Nerves

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It’s day one at the Australian Open 2011, and some players have earnt the right to relax a little after a first round performance, whilst some are yet to face their first challenges.

Andy Murray has had to admit that he hasn’t planned tactics against Slovakia’s Karol Beck. He faces the Slovakian, ranked 101st in the world, in the first round tomorrow. Beck was once number 36 in the world, and so Andy Murray hasn’t been given the easiest of first round tests. With his experience, it seems surprising that Murray has publicly said he has few pre-planned tactics, instead saying that he will ‘work it all out’ on the court. This just adds to the worry of British fans; his coach Alex Corretja hasn’t travelled to Melbourne with Murray, leaving him with just his mother and hitting partner for support and advice. There’s also the likelihood that, with the Australian rains continuing, he could be playing under the roof, which has played havoc with his game before.

Roger Federer made his way through the first round, barely breaking a sweat (does he ever?) to beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-1 6-1 6-3. He has a tough opponent in Gilles Simon in the next round, but with Federer looking comfortable and determined to get his 17th Grand Slam title, I think it might be a while before someone truly gives him some trouble.

Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic, Fernando Verdasco, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco and Viktor Troiki also  more »


The Most Wide-Open Women’s Draw in Years?

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Isn’t it amazing how much the absence of one player can change things.  With Serena out with an injury, suddenly it seems like anybody’s tournament.  Or is it, really?

Clijsters was already the favorite, though by no means an overwhelming one, before the draw was made.  Now, because of her soft draw, she has to be considered more likely to win it all.

Safina may look like a tough first round match, but these days Dinara often seems a shadow of her former self.  She has not played well of late.  Should Clijsters come through that match — and I am convinced that she will — she should have three fairly easy matches in a row, due to Petrova’s out-of-form play of late.  Maybe four.  I would like Radwanska to come through and give Kim a tough match if she were healthy.  Jankovic has not been in top form for quite awhile now.  I don’t think she is as highly motivated as she once was.  It looks like a stroll to the quarters for Clijsters.

No doubt her semifinal opponent (Zvonareva or Stosur or Peer or Pennetta or maybe Jovanovski or Kvitova) will present a challenge.  When she’s playing at the top of her game and doesn’t melt down mentally, Zvonareva can beat everybody.  It would be no surprise if she won the tournament.  Still, you have to wonder how Vera will handle the added pressure that goes with being the #2 seed.  She has come far in overcoming her emotions, but I am not yet sure that she has entirely conquered those demons.  If she has, maybe she should be the favo more »

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