Archive for June, 2011

 

Tennis moves to the grass

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

We’re at that strange stage of the year where very important tournaments start to step on each other’s toes. No sooner has the biggest event of the clay court season culminated in two exciting, breathless finals, has the grass court season started in earnest with Queen’s. Play started on Monday, only 24 hours after Roger and Rafa battled for the title, so it’s understandable that a number of players are slightly lagging. Still, Queen’s is a great way to help round up the clay court season whilst simultaneously kicking off the grass season.

Rafael Nadal is proving his worth as a champion by progressing quickly and effectively through the tournament. After a minor wobble against Radek Stepanek, he made it into the quarter-finals only days after competing against Federer for his 10th Grand Slam title.  He won the match 6-3 5-7 6-1, and looks impressive as he heads towards the finals.

Andy Roddick has won at Queen’s 4 times, and is still on a positive course after beating Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4. He now faces Fernando Verdasco. The other Andy, Andy Murray, is also on a steady course, making the quarter finals after a confident win against Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 7-6 (7-3). The tendon in his right ankle is still giving him problems, but so far it appears to be possible to play well with it. He is much more comfortable and at home at Queen’s, so his fans are hoping he can start a good build up for Wimbledon here.

So in what ways are these opening rounds of Queens a  more »

 

Rafa a Champion again

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

So once again it was the Clash of the Titans, The Rivalry To End All Rivalries: the finals of the French Open with Rafael Nadal facing up to Roger Federer. Now the excitement wasn’t because this was a new and intriguing clash. In fact, it was one of the oldest rivalries in the book. The match up has been perfectly established as a great in the modern history of sport, and looks set to continue. Maybe that was why it drew the crowds. Not only that it has had so much coverage and talk over the last few years, but that it was continuing to do so. After a few iffy seasons from Federer and injury from Nadal, it looked doubtful for a while whether a Grand Slam would once again culminate in the Great Rivalry.

This time, many were thankful to see, it did. All other pretenders to the throne were cast aside and it was just Roger and Rafa. Of course, they are quite different to how they used to be when the rivalry was at its peak. Roger was number one in the world most of the time back then; now he is number 3 after Djokovic has muscled his way through the rankings. Rafa used to be the undisputed King of Clay, but he has been beaten on his favoured surface. Shock horror.

So the two men were very different; time had passed, it felt, as they walked onto the court. It was packed, unsurprisingly, and they were in a for a treat. Instead of a five set contest, they got a 4 set one, but that doesn’t mean that it was any less thrilling to watch. The Spaniard started off well, with Fed more »

 

Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal for the French Open title

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are once again to meet in a Grand Slam final after the two players won their semi final matches. Rafa was sublime against Andy Murray, beating the battling Brit in straight sets, 6-4 7-5 6-4. It took him just over three hours though, and Murray had moments where one of his trademark comebacks seemed imminent. But when Rafa gets his head down he is like a bull with its horns down on charge: determined and dangerous.

Andy Murray found himself speared with that clay court magic from the very first set, with Nadal being so comfortable on clay that no matter what Murray pulled out of the bag Nadal found something just a little bit better. Still, Murray pushed Rafa to some impressive break points, but he never managed to win them when it mattered. He is an improved man on clay, but it looks like he has a long way to go before he is able to beat the world number one on his favourite surface.

As for the Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer match, not many people knew where to place their bets. Most guessed it would be a five set battle, but with Roger Federer looking back to his old self and Djokovic on an impressive run, the outcome was unsure. But ultimately, it was Roger’s day. Despite winning the third set, Djokovic seemed a little tired and lacking in that magic that has got him the 43 winning streak. Federer, on the other hand, came into his own and moved into that silent, focused mindset that has won him his raft of Grand Slam titles.

Novak  more »

 

Li Na wins French Open

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Li Na became China’s first champion at a Grand Slam, after beating last year’s winner Francesca Schiavone for the French Open title. The combined age of the two finalists was the highest since 1998, and both were proud to show that their age was no obstacle to their achievements. In fact this has been shown more and more in the women’s game, especially since Kim Clijsters came back from retirement and having a child to win a grand slam.

Li Na’s performance was powerful from start to finish, but there were some wobbles in her game and Schiavone made her work hard for her points, particularly in the second set where it moved to a tie-break. Li was dominant in serve and although Schiavone’s powerful topspin and kick serve were meant to serve her well and make her the favourite on this surface, Li put up a strong resistance and found a rhythm with her own style. Li won the key break points at the key times, and soon the lead added to her confidence and more beautiful cross-court shots that left Schiavone skidding in the clay.

The rain which was predicted to come held off as well, which must have added to Li’s confidence as she won the first set and moved confidently into the second. But this was where the Italian started to impress, and she began to claw her way back up onto the score board. When the tie-break came, however, it was Li’s show. She took the points superbly, quickly, and with immense composure for a player who had lost last time she played in a Grand Slam fina more »

 

The Women’s Final

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The women’s semi final battles have borne another thrilling French Open semi final. The controversial side of me wants to say that this could be because the Williams sisters are not a) able to play or b) at their top form. The women’s side of tournaments has been bemoaned as boring simply because the Williams sisters dominate it so much. This is probably less true with the comeback of Kim Clijsters and a host of lower ranked players emerging as the Williams sisters slowly lose some of their form.

Two of these such exciting names are Francesca Schiavone and Li Na. These are the two players that promise to make the women’s finals one to watch. One thing about these two players is their age; their combined years is the biggest in a Grand Slam final since 1998, when Jana Novotna and Nathalie Tauziat battled in the Wimbledon finals. Schiavone, who won the French Open last year, is 30, and LI Na is 29.

Schiavone looks top favourite as a returning champion. But Li Na has a Grand Slam final under her belt as well – the Australian Open this year –  after she battled through to the finals where unfortunately she fell to Kim Clijsters. Li promises to bring in the Chinese fans of the sport, who have been growing in number as Li’s form has started to grow more and more impressive. And the two players are both so interesting and exciting to watch, that this could be a strong showing in the crowd seats. Which would be fantastic; the women’s game has lacked some support over the last f more »

 
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