Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Federer finishes season off in supreme style

Roger Federer produced a stunning week of tennis to win the ATP Tour Finals as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the final with a 6-4 3-6 6-1. The stand-out match without no doubt was the superb semi-final between Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray as Nadal came through an epic against a determined and superb Murray, 7-6 3-6 7-6. Nadal however just showed more mental toughness in the final set tiebreak as he recovered from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Murray. The weekend match-ups just about saved what had been a desperately poor finale up till then. In the round-robin matches, only one match was pushed to three sets as the top four all qualified with complete ease. Of course, this made way for an exciting finale, however the round-robin stage was a disappointment with a host of one sided matches. The likes of David Ferrer, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling failed to bring their A-game to London as a long, hard season seem to catch up with them. It also demonstrated the gap in quality between the top four and the guys chasing the pack. It suggest that the likes of Berdych and Soderling are not yet to take over from the current top 4 and that next year will be another one dominated by the likes of Roger and Rafa.

It was a superb victory for Roger in the final as he defeated Nadal in a 3-set victory. The first set was a slight anticlimax as both players took a while to ease into the match; it was Federer who made the crucial break at 4-3 before strolling to the first set. Nadal hung in superbly in the second set and showed more intent as he grabbed the second set as Federer went off the boil with his his 1st serve % dipping dramatically. In the final set Nadal appeared to be running on empty and Federer raised his game once again to stroll to victory and send a message of intent to the world number one for the upcoming 2011 season...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

ATP World Tour Finals Preview

After a long season for the Men, it will come to a climax in the World Tour Finals at the O2 in London. The groups look pretty even on paper with Group A containing Nadal, Djokovic, Berdych and Roddick and Group B being contested with Federer, Soderling, Murray and Ferrer. In Group A, Nadal will return following a one month absence and will look to put in a better showing after losing all three matches last year. I fancy Nadal to qualify here and for Roddick to upset Djokovic to reach the SF's. In Group B, Federer looks to be the favourite with Murray v Soderling being the real crunch match. Play kicks off on Sunday with Murray v Soderling with the final being a week today.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kim Reigns in Doha

Kim Clijsters defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the WTA season ending championships in Doha with a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory as the tournament ended in style. After two disappointing semi-finals with second set collapses from both Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva, Clijsters and Wozniacki met in a high quality encounter, only their second following the US Open Final in 2009. Clijsters dominated early proceedings as she raised into a 6-3 4-1 lead. However, the world number one showed some real grit and determination to keep her hopes alive in the match as she took advantage of a dip in Clijster's game. A confident hold at 6-5 then secured Wozniacki the second set and she took the early advantage in the third set. However Clijsters stormed back and eventually was too strong for Wozniacki completing the victory. I think the title would have meant more for Wozniacki who would have wanted to prove a point to her critics; she is still yet to post a win against the likes of the Williams Sisters, Clijsters or Henin and that is a statistic that will have to change next year. She has made excellent progress this year and many people skate past the fact this girl is just 20 and is still developing her game. I believe she will get a Grand Slam next year if she keeps developing her forehand and her attacking game as i feel mentally she is strong enough to win one. Clijsters will be delighted to wrap off an injury-plagued season with another victory and if she can keep fit next year and develop some momentum, she will be a real danger at all 4 slams...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Doha SF's decided and Farewell to Elena...

The Round Robin matches have been wrapped up with Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters all qualifying for the SF's. In the Maroon Group, Sam Stosur qualified 1st and Wozniacki 2nd. Stosur reeled off straight set wins against Schiavone and Wozniacki; the win over Schiavone must have been a real mental victory for Stosur after her loss in the French Open Final. After falling 0-4 down in the 1st set, Stosur found her form and won 6-4 6-4 before handing Wozniacki a surprise straight set defeat. Wozniacki qualified with a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory over Dementieva and a gritty come-from-behind victory against Schiavone. In the White Group, Zvonareva won all three matches and in straight sets as she demolished Jankovic, 6-3 6-0 and came through tight two-setters against Azarenka and a tiring Clijsters. Jankovic was routed by both Clijsters and Azarenka and it was a match-up between the latter two which decided the outcome of the group. Kim, though not playing her best was mentally and physically stronger as she pulled away from Vika in a 6-4 5-7 6-1 victory.

The SF's see Wozniacki take on Zvonareva and Stosur play Clijsters. The first match-up is a repeat of the Beijing final several weeks ago and should be a close affair. Wozniacki won their last encounter but it must be argued that Zvonareva has produced the best results so far. In the other SF, Clijsters and Stosur will battle it out for the third time this year with Clijsters prevailing on both those matches. However i think there could be a different result this time with Kim looking tired and Stosur looking on good form and rejuvunated despite a loss to Dementieva in her last match.

The final day of the round-robin format was highlighted by the sad news that Elena Dementieva is retiring from tennis. It's extremely sad to see Elena retire after what has been a long and successful career. She has been a loyal patron to the WTA Tour and will be remembered for winning the Gold Medal in Beijing in 2008. I always felt she had a few years left in the tank however i fully respect her decision to call time on her career as she pursues further ambitions in life. It was touching to see the reactions of the other players as she announced her departure in an emotional ceremony following her loss to Schiavone in her final round-robin match in Doha. She will be sorely missed when the WTA Tour kicks off in 2011...

Predictions - Wozniacki to beat Zvonareva in 3 sets
Stosur to beat Clijsters in 3 sets

Monday, 25 October 2010

On the way to Doha...

After another exhausting and long season for the top female tennis players, the top 8 for the year move onto Doha to battle it out for the season ending championships title. The final women's tournaments saw Ana Ivanovic triumph in Linz without losing a set, Victoria Azarenka produce a powerful and commanding display in Moscow and Roberta Vinci end on a flurry as she defeated Anne Keothavong and Julia Goerges to win the Luxembourg title. Now in the penultimate tournament of the year, the top 8 women will battle it out in Doha. Unfortunately both Williams Sisters are unable to compete due to injury which i feel personally, has taken the gloss of this year's event which on paper looks like one of the weakest line-up's in years.

In the Maroon Group, newly crowned world number one Caroline Wozniacki will fancy her chances of winning her biggest title as she is paired with Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva. Stosur has struggled for consistency in recent weeks and a French Open rematch with Schiavone will certainly be interesting. Dementieva should fancy her chances of progressing to the SF's if she can put the injury that thwarted her in Luxembourg behind her. In the White Group, the new world number two Vera Zvonareva, is joined by Kim Clijsters, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka. Despite Jelena Jankovic, who is the 50/1 long-shot to win and unlikely to pose a threat following abysmal recent form and ill health; this should be a closely contested group. Zvonareva has been consistently strong since Wimbledon and Azarenka who has had an irratic season, is coming off one of her recent highs following her win in Moscow. The telling factor will be how fit Kim Clijsters is as she has not played since the US Open. If she can pick up her form quickly, she should qualify from this one. I am also expecting that the last woman to qualify, Victoria Azarenka to make the SF's so the match-up between Zvonareva and Clijsters could be crucial.

The Women's game seems to be moving towards the new generation and i think that Wozniacki will win her biggest title of her career. I also hope that Azarenka, who has shown waves of promise but also a lack of consistency will end her season well and ready to tackle the Grand Slams next year with full vigour. Last year's championships certainly brought drama but also a lot of injuries as the season petered out on a low note. It is a shame that the round-robin matches are put so close together not allowing the player's a chance to recover. The competition gets underway tomorrow with Vera taking on Jelena followed by Caroline doing battle with Elena and finally Francesca squaring off with Sam... Here's hoping for a solid send-off to 2010.

Predictions - Zvonareva to beat Jankovic in 2 sets, Wozniacki to beat Dementieva in 3 sets and Schiavone to beat Stosur in 2 sets

Friday, 8 October 2010

WTA Beijing - Wozniacki reaches number 1

The talking point this week in Beijing has been Caroline Wozniacki's rise to World Number 1. Wozniacki had to reach the Quarter-finals to knock Serena off the top and she did that with a convincing win over Petra Kvitova. Several months ago Kvitova had demolished Wozniacki in the 4th round at Wimbledon in what seems to have been a wake up call for Wozniacki in that she needed to start making advances in her game if she was to achieve what she wanted. Since Wimbledon, her game has shown vast improvements with her serve and offensive game in particular looking stronger. At times i have been sceptical of whether Wozniacki is worthy of world number 1 and winning numerous grand slams. I feel if she carries this form into next year, a Grand Slam is on the horizon for her. She seems mentally tougher and stronger than previous slam-less number ones in Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic and with Doha around the corner, it could be a chance for her to prove her credentials against Serena and Kim who have both demonstrated their ability to perform at the Grand Slam level. This has brought a new dimension to the Women's game and there are signs that the new crop of players might be starting to make some headway in the game.

This week has also seen Vera Zvonareva continue her terrific recent form with some excellent wins over Dinara Safina, Maria Kirilenko and Francesca Schiavone. She is now projected to reach number 3 in the rankings. Also on the move up will be Na Li and Shahar Peer who have both reached the Semi-finals along with Wozniacki and Zvonareva. On the other hand, this week has been a disappointing show for Maria Sharapova. Once again, she put in a lacklustre effort going down to Elena Vesnina and she will have to regroup next year after a disappointing last couple of months. Jelena Jankovic also continues to struggle and in my honest opinion, she will not be able to reach the top of the rankings again. This week has also concluded a disappointing Asian Tour for Pavlyuchenkova. A-Pav has shown superb promise this year however she has disappointed in recent weeks with some alarming one-sided losses. Another worthy note this week is the continued resurgence of Ana Ivanovic who with stunning wins over Marion Bartoli and Elena Dementieva has confirmed her return to the Top 30 in the rankings next week.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

ATP Beijing Preview

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will return to action this week as they headline what is a strong draw in Beijing. Djokovic, the number 1 seed will open up against the Chinese wildcard, Gong in what should be a straightforward opener. In the 2nd round Djokovic will play either Tipsarevic or Fish; i would expect Tipsarevic to progress and give Djokovic a test but ultimately Djokovic should prevail. Tomas Berdych is his projected QF opponent however Berdych's form has dipped since Wimbledon and resembled more of the frustrating inconsistency he has demonstrated before this year. Giles Simon should upset Querrey and be a real tester for Berdych. The number 4 seed in Nikolay Davydenko will play Florian Mayer in the 1st round which he should win. However Cilic or Bellucci in the 2nd round will probably be one step too far for Davy. Verdasco faces a testing opener against the tricky German, Philipp Kohlschreiber. The winner is likely to play John Isner in the 2nd round; i'd go for Cilic and Isner to make the QF in what is a wide open section of the draw.

The number 8 seed David Ferrer will play against Denis Istomin in the 1st round in what could be a potential upset for ferrer. The number 3 seed Robin Soderling will open his campaign against Tommy Robredo and will then likely take on another Spaniard in Nicolas Almagro. On the hard courts of Beijing, Soderling should have few problems reaching the QF here. Andy Murray will begin his quest for the Beijing title against a qualifier before a tie with either Andrey Golubev or Albert Montanes. Mikhail Youzhny is Murray's projected QF opponent however following his exploits in Malaysia i'd go for Alexander Dologopolov to cause a surprise or two.

Semi-final picks - Djokovic v Isner, Soderling v Murray

Saturday, 2 October 2010

WTA Beijing Preview

The women now move onto Beijing this week after Caroline Wozniacki defeated Elena Dementieva in the final of WTA Tokyo to claim her fifth title of the season, winning 1-6 6-2 6-3. This week could see Wozniacki crowned as the new world number one if she can make the QF's. This has divided opinion with many and although i can see she's improved and she has won so many matches this year, i am still unsure of whether she has what it takes to beat the likes of Serena and Clijsters at a grand slam stage. The tournament is once again highlighted by the withdrawals from Venus, Serena, Henin and Clijsters; however the draw is supported with 7 of the top 10 and with 4 places in the season ending championships still up for grabs, there's a lot riding on this week in Beijing.

Quarter 1 - C Wozniacki (1) v E Dementieva (7)
Wozniacki will open up against either Sara Errani or Shuai Peng with a much tougher test likely in the 3rd round with the likes of Pennetta, Kanepi and Pavlyuchenkova all lurking. Wozniacki would probably wish for Pavlyuchenkova with who she has a brilliant record including a thumping 6-1 6-2 win last week in Tokyo. However i think her opponent could be the Estonian, Kaia Kanepi who has transformed her game in recent months and is looking a real threat on the WTA tour. I still believe however that C-Woz will just have enough to beat Kanepi and therefore secure that number 1 ranking by reaching the QF's. Dementieva will play Kimiko Date Krumm in the 2nd round with a 3rd round tie likely to come from the winner of Bartoli and Ivanovic who have once again have been paired together. With Dementieva looking in excellent form in Tokyo, it would be hard to predict against a rematch of the Tokyo final.

Quarter 2 - J Jankovic (3) v V Azarenka (8)
Jelena Jankovic has had a tough time of late however i think this could be her chance to reach her first QF since the Roland Garros all the way back in May. JJ has a nice section of the draw with her 2nd round opponent being either Kateryna Bondarenko or Bojana Jovanovski. Peer could await in the 3rd round which has previously been a good match for JJ. Victoria Azarenka will open her campaign against Timea Bacsinszky and will have to be at her best in the 3rd round where she could face Maria Sharapova in a battle of the shriekers. Sharapova struggled last week in Tokyo and many people have questioned whether she can every regain her top form after being knocked out by Wozniacki in a disappointing performance at the US. Normally i would back Sharapova but my head is turning on whether she can ever reach the heights of the Women's game again and I believe Azarenka will beat Sharapova in 3 set here to set up a QF with Jankovic.

Quarter 3 - A Radwanska (6) v S Stosur (3)
This section is by far the most open section; Radwanska opens up against Angelique Kerber and she shouldn't have too many problems in the 2nd round against either Zahlavova Strycova and Dulgheru. In the 3rd round she could take on either Alisa Kleybanova or Li Na, both dangerous opponents and both capable of pulling off a big performance. I think it could be Kleybanova to progress here using her powerful game to good effect. The third seed in Samantha Stosur has already been knocked out of the competition by Anastasija Sevastova after wasting a 5-2 lead and a match point at 5-4. Sevastova will take on Cibulkova in the 2nd round with the winner taking on Nadia Petrova or Alona Bondarenko; if Petrova is fit i would fancy her to reach the QF's.

Quarter 4 - F Schiavone (5) v V Zvonareva (2)
Francesca Schiavone could face a 2nd round match-up with the tricky Daniela Hantuchova; however this is still a match she should come through. With Kuznetsova out in the 1st round, Schiavone should have an easier 3rd round match-up with Dushevina, Makarova and Vinci being her likely 3rd round opponents. Vera Zvonareva has the toughest opener of the seeds against former number 1, Dinara Safina. Zvonareva should progress however if Dinara plays well theres no doubting she has a chance here. With Aravane Rezai already out to Gisela Dulko, Maria Kirilenko should progress to the 3rd round to meet Zvonareva. With an imperious record over Kirilenko, it would be difficult to bet against Zvonareva reaching the QF's.

Once again, Wozniacki will be hard to beat at this tournament being the in-form player on tour. Azarenka could once again stand in her way at the SF stage and i would not put it her past her to upset the Dane this time round. The bottom half is already looking very open and i believe Vera Zvonareva should progress further than the QF's she reached in Tokyo; Schiavone and Petrova will also be ones to watch out for in Beijing...

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Elena impresses, sets up Schiavone rematch

Elena Dementieva continued her impressive form this week as she beat fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva, 7-5 6-2 in their Quarter-final on Thursday. The first set was a high quality affair with a number of excellent baseline rallies; Zvonareva served for the set at 5-3 however she was unable to capitalise as Dementieva went on a 7-game winning streak to take the first set and lead 3-0 in the second set. Zvonareva battled hard in the 2nd set however she was unable to find any rhythm on her serve as Dementieva eased to victory. Dementieva has struggled for form since an injury at the French Open; however she demonstrated today that when she is fit and healthy, she is a very difficult player to beat and she will now look to qualify for a place in the WTA season ending chmapionships. Dementieva will now face Francesca Schiavone in the SF's in a rematch of the French Open SF. Schiavone edged Kaia Kanepi, 7-5 4-6 7-5 in a marathon encounter lasting over 3 hours. It was Schiavone who just showed that bit more flair and consistency on her serve to win as she continued her impressive form from the US Open in reaching the Tokyo Semi-finals. I am anticipating a close match tomorrow but i'm siding with Dementieva as she has looked particularly impressive this week and i feel when she's on her game, she will have too much for Schiavone.

In the other Semi-final, Caroline Wozniacki will take on another good friend in Victoria Azarenka. Wozniacki eased into the SF's following the retirement of Agnieszka Radwanska at 5-0 down. It was a disappointing end to what could have been a good match. Wozniacki is the first woman to have qualified for the season ending championships in Doha and she will also have the number 1 ranking in her sight with a good performance in Beijing next week. Victoria Azarenka was in dominant form once again as she dispatched of the American wildcard Coco Vandeweghe, 6-2 6-1. Like the first SF, this one should be tight but I am going to go for an upset and side with Azarenka. I believe with Azarenka playing well, she has the power to hurt Wozniacki and hope that a withdrawal from the Doubles Competiton is not a sign that Wozniacki could be in for another easy ride...

Predictions - Dementieva to beat Schiavone in 2 sets and Azarenka to beat Wozniacki in 3 sets.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

WTA Tokyo - Woz, Vandeweghe make QF's

Caroline Wozniacki and Coco Vandeweghe were just two of the names to make the QF's of WTA Tokyo on Wednesday. Wozniacki continued her impressive form of late with a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Once again, Pavlyuchenkova struggled to cope with Wozniacki as she was on the end of yet another disappointing one-sided defeat following her loss to Date Krumm last week in Seoul. Wozniacki will now play her good friend Agnieszka Radwanska in the QF after beating Andrea Petkovic, 6-3 6-3 who had previously taken out Svetlana Kuznetsova. I anticipate Wozniacki to be too strong for Radwanska however i hope for a close contest and that Radwanska can start to produce the big performances that are needed if she is to progress further up the rankings.

Coco Vandeweghe continued her stunning week by thrashing Julia Goerges, 6-3 6-0. Goerges had previously taken out both Safina and Stosur but was no match today for Vandeweghe who will play Victoria Azarenka in the QF after Marion Bartoli retired after losing the first set to Azarenka, 6-2. Azarenka will be the favourite to reach the SF's however she musn't underestimate Coco who is beginning to shine on the WTA tour. Kaia Kanepi continued to impress as she dispatched of Jelena Jankovic once again, 6-4 6-4 and she will now play Francesca Schiavone who saw off Kimiko Date Krumm who had previously shocked both Sharapova and Hantuchova. This should be an extremely close match between two form players; i'd give the slight edge to Schiavone.

The final QF is on paper, the most exciting as Elena Dementieva will take on Vera Zvonareva. Dementieva continued her excellent form this week with a superb 6-4 6-2 victory over Flavia Pennetta in what was their first meeting. Zvonareva was also comfortable in victory with a 6-4 6-0 win over Roberta Vinci. The two Russians will play for the first time since 2008 and with both players playing well it should be a high quality affair. I'm predicting that it will be Elena who will be victorious...

Predictions - Wozniacki to beat Radwanska in 2 sets, Azarenka to beat Vandeweghe in 2 sets, Schiavone to beat Kanepi in 3 sets and Dementieva to beat Zvonareva in 3 sets.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

WTA Tokyo Preview

Many of the top names will return to action this week in Tokyo as the hunt for the eight spots at the season ending WTA championships really steps up. Serena Williams has pulled out of the tournament as she continues her comeback from injury; Venus Williams, Justine Henin and the US Open champion Kim Clijsters are also absent from the event. However despite these absences it is a strong field that will meet in Tokyo with Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva headlining the draw.

1st Quarter - C Wozniacki (1) v A Radwanska (6)
Caroline Wozniacki will open up her campaign against a qualifier; either Greta Arn or Laura Robson. Laura Robson impressively fough her way past much higher ranked opponents in Sevastova and Halep to make the main draw. Wozniacki's first challenge is likely to come in the third round where she is projected to meet Pavlyuchenkova who has progressed well this year but has a losing record against Wozniacki. Pavlyuchenkova will have to overcome Dominika Cibulkova in R1 which could be a real stumbling block in their first meeting. Agnieszka Radwanska will play either Iveta Benesova or Olga Govortsova in R2 but is likely to face a much trickier 3rd round match. Svetlana Kuznetsova is in this section of this draw and shes faces a difficult opener against Agnes Szavay. Andrea Petkovic may be her 2nd round opponent who she has been involved in some epic encounter with; a 3 set loss in Tokyo last year and a 3 set win at Roland Garros where Kuznetsova saved several MP's. Petkovic will be looking for revenge here if they do meet and i anticipate her to be a threat in this section of the draw.

2nd Quarter - S Stosur (4) v V Azarenka (8)
Samantha Stosur will return to action with a R2 clash with either Julia Goerges or Dinara Safina. I predict Safina will be waiting for her in what should be a competitive encounter. Whoever progresses from this will have an easier 3rd round match with the seeded Aravane Rezai looking mightily inconsistent of late. Coco VandeWeghe could provide a shock or two after impressively dispatching of Jarmilla Groth in the qualifiers. Victoria Azarenka will open up against Kai-Chen Chang or Lucie Safarova. Two exciting first round clashes in the section involve Marion Bartoli vs Yanina Wickmayer and Ana Ivanovic vs Alisa Kleybanova. Bartoli and Wickmayer have faced off once this year in Miami where Bartoli prevailed in 2 sets; it should be much closer this time round. Ivanovic and Kleybanova will once again play each other with each previous encounter throwing up a different situation. I'm predicting Ivanovic will be the winner this time despite Kleybanova's impressive run in Seoul.

3rd Quarter - F Schiavone (5) v J Jankovic (3)
Francesca Schiavone will open up her Tokyo campaign against either Ekaterina Makarova or Alexandra Dulgheru. Schiavone could meet Sharapova in the 3rd round who will first have to beat the dangerous, Kimiko Date Krumm and then Daniela Hantuchova who has shown glimpses of form this year. Jelena Jankovic, who was disappointing during the US Open Series will take on either Petra Kvitova or Alona Bondarenko in the 2nd round. She could then meet Kaia Kanepi again in the 3rd round; however i think Shahar Peer will have too much for Kanepi this time round after previously losing to her at the Toronto Masters in August. Jankovic has a pretty good draw here and she could have to overcome Bondarenko and Peer; both players she has comfortably beaten before.

4th Quarter - E Dementieva (7) v V Zvonareva (2)
Elena Dementieva will play against either Yaroslava Shvedova or Kurumi Nara in the 2nd round. The likes of Flavia Pennetta, Na Li and Maria Kirilenko are in this section and are all consistent players so it's difficult to anticipate who will come through to meet Dementieva; i'd go for Pennetta. The US Open runner-up, Vera Zvonareva will open up against either Sara Errani or Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. She is projected to meet Nadia Petrova in the 3rd round however she retired from her SF match in Seoul through illness which could spring a chance for Tsvetana Pironkova to show us some of her magic after her impressive run to the SF of Wimbledon. A rematch between Zvonareva and Pironkova could well be on the cards.

Wozniacki, Azarenka, Sharapova, Dementieva, Stosur and Zvonareva all look to have a good chance of winning this tournament; i'd side with either Sharapova or Azarenka to win WTA Tokyo. However as we near the end of the season and tiredness sets in we could see an unlikely winner emerge...

1st Round Tips - Petkovic to beat Dulko, Vandeweghe to beat Zakopalova, Ivanovic to beat Kleybanova, Makarova to beat Dulgheru and Pironkova to beat Morita.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Men's US Open - Nadal achieves career grand slam

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open final to become the 7th man in history to claim the career grand slam. It was a high quality affair between the two as Nadal came through in 4 sets, 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2. The game was characterised by sensational rallies from the back of the court with Nadal starting the stronger as Djokovic appeared to be struggling physically in the early stages. Djokovic however upped his game in the 2nd set and played some fabulous tennis to take a 4-1 lead. Nadal, however battled back and at 4-4, the match was interrupted by the rain. When the players returned, the high quality of the match continued as Djokovic dug deep to claim the 2nd set. Djokovic then lost his serve early on in the 3rd set and he seemed unable to recover as Nadal crashed winners past an increasingly tiring Djokovic to mark history for the Spaniard.

This US Open marked Nadal's third grand slam title of the year and has given him an unassailable lead at the top of the rankings. With Nadal playing better than ever, many will fancy him to have a chance of winning all 4 next year. In all, it was an average Open which ended on a high with a superb semi-final between Djokovic and Federer and a high quality final, the best one in a grand slam this year. As this season winds down, the next big tournament on the players mind will be the ATP season ending championships which look set to be as thrilling as last year.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Men's US Open - Djok beats Fed in SF stunner

Novak Djokovic advanced to the US Open final for the first time in his career with a tremendous victory over Roger Federer, 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 7-5 in the match of the tournament. Djokovic saved 2 MP's in the final set demonstrating incredible spirit to defeat Federer for the first time in 4 attempts at the US Open. The final set was an incredible spectacle as both players produced some stunning tennis under immense pressure. Federer had two MP's at 15-40 on Djokovic's serve however Djokovic produced two fantastic winners as Federer was unable to raise his game on the MP's and put Djokovic under pressure. After Djokovic held, he then went onto break the Federer serve and serve the match out with some terrific rallies. For the third grand slam in a row Federer has failed to make the final and this performance certainly highlights that there is a belief in players that they can beat Federer when a couple of years ago this was not the case. Djokovic showed incredible fight and belief in his game and this was undoubtedly his best performance since taking the Australian Open title. We will definitely have a new US Open champion after Rafael Nadal eased into the final with 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory over Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny did not play a bad match but the incredible consistency of Nadal's play was just too much for Mikhail and we now go into a final between Djokovic and Nadal; it's not the final everyone wanted but it should still be a stunning contest between two fantastic players.

Women's US Open - Superb Clijsters claims title

Kim Clijsters won the US Open for the second consecutive year as she continued her terrific 21-match unbeaten record at the US Open. Clijsters defeated Vera Zvonareva in a disappointing one-sided finale, 6-1 6-2. Both players started well with two routine service holds; however at 3-2 down Zvonareva's level dropped as Clijsters pummelled her baseline with incredible width and depth. Zvonareva continued to struggle as her error count increased and it wasn't long until the first set had gone. A frustrated Zvonareva continued to try and battle with Clijsters from the back of the court but Clijsters was far too strong as she quickly pulled up a 3-0 lead in the 2nd set. Zvonareva managed to get a game on the board and fought hard to a break point at 3-1 after some titanic baseline rallies; however Clijsters held and continued to play with an air of confidence as she rounded off the victory in less than an hour. Zvonareva looked distraught at the end as she came to terms with another crushing grand slam loss; however she was extremely gracious in defeat as she gave credit to Kim for her victory. After employing such superb tactics in her SF with Wozniacki, it seems this was one step too far. If she had tried to mix her game up more she may have had more luck however on this night it would have taken a top notch performance to get near Clijsters. Congratulations Kim!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Women's US Open - Kim edges Venus in thriller

Kim Clijsters edged Venus Williams in the US Open Semi-final as she came from a set down to beat Venus in a thrilling contest, 4-6 7-6 6-4. The match was highlighted by moments of genius, changes in momentum and alarming errors at crucial stages of the match. The first set went largely with serve until Venus Williams broke at 3-3 as her excellent movement and patient play saw her hit 10 winners and claim the first set 6-4. Clijsters started the second set much better as she seized the initative to take a 3-0 lead. Venus managed to recover the break however Clijsters dug deep and broke back to lead 5-2 and served for the second set at 5-3. However Clijsters faltered as she produced 4 errors to let Venus back in the set. As the set reached the tiebreak, many people would have fancied Venus to run away with it especially after winning 3 tiebreaks in the earlier stages of the competiton; however this time round her game fell apart at the crucial stage. Her serve disintegrated with 2 double faults and she handed Kim the tiebreak, 7 points to 2 and crucially the second set.

As we moved into the third set, Venus looked increasingly anxious as she mulled over her inability to produce the shots in the tiebreak. It didn't start much better for her in the 3rd set as she missed break point opportunities on the Clijsters serve before being broke herself. As the two traded blows in a tense and dramatic final set, Venus got the break back to level the scores at 4-4. However Clijsters came roaring back producing the shot of the match with a sensational lob to claim the break back and serve for the match. Kim served the match out superbly battering balls to the baseline of Venus and forcing her to make several errors as she continued her 20 match winning streak at the US Open. She will now face off against Vera Zvonareva in the final on Saturday night in what should be an excellent final.

Women's US Open - Super Zvon into final

Vera Zvonareva produced a superb performance to defeat the number 1 seed and bookmakers favourite Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4 6-3 in the US Open Semi-finals. Right from the beginning with the pre-match interview it was evident that Wozniacki seemed nervous and she started that way producing more errors than usual, expecially on the forehand side and and seemed unable to produce the power she has shown in previous rounds. Zvonareva make the breakthrough at 1-1 and served superbly well throughout the remainder of the set to claim the first set 6-4. Zvonareva continued to trouble Wozniacki in the second set as she attacked the ball and manoeuvred the Dane around the court. Wozniacki slipped back into her defensive mode and failed to make any real impact as she continually made the wrong decisions on shots. After an exchange of breaks it was Zvonareva who made the important break at 3-2 and she served the match out superbly as she drew on her experiences of Wimbledon to reach her second grand slam final of the year. Wozniacki was disappointing and it seemed that her heavy schedule leading up to the US Open may have got to her today. I still believe that Wozniacki has what it takes to win a grand slam however this will be a setback for her and she will need to continue to improve her attacking game, her net play and bolster up the forehand which fell apart today against a tactically superb Zvonareva.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Men's US Open - Nadal and Youzhny Progress

Rafael Nadal continued his impressive form with a straight set victory over Fernando Verdasco, 7-5 6-3 6-4. Nadal made a slow start to the match and was broken for the first time in the championships at 1-1; however Nadal recovered and punished Verdasco for a poor service game at 4-3 and powered his way through the remainder of the match using his extra power on the serve and more solid groundstrokes to defeat Verdasco. It was evident that Nadal just had too much for Verdasco, who never looked as if he was going to win against Nadal as he went into the tie with a 0-10 record. Nadal will now play Mikhail Youzhny in the SF after he defeated Stanislas Wawrinka in 5 sets, 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 6-3. Wawrinka led the match by 2 sets to 1 however Youzhny made decisive breaks at the start of the 4th and 5th sets as Wawrinka tired and showed the effects of his previous two matches. An excellent tournament for Wawrinka but disappointment that his fitness couldn't pull him through to his first ever grand slam SF. Youzhny has taken advantage of a good draw to progress through to the SF's however not many will fancy his chances against Nadal. This US Open has been relatively disappointing for the Men's with many of the top players apart from Federer, Nadal and Djokovic failing to perform. A final between Nadal and Federer could however change things and send these championships out with a bang.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Men's US Open - Awesome Fed storms into SF's

Roger Federer put in a sensational performance as he defeated nemesis Robin Soderling, 6-4 6-4 7-5 in their Quarter-final at the US Open. Federer served superbly well and looked close to his best as he won all the crucial points of the match. Soderling did manage to break and lead 5-3 in the third set however three errors destroyed his game and Federer from then on had the edge and took the match. Federer will now play Novak Djokovic who put in an equally impressive performance against a disappointing Gael Monfils, 7-6 6-1 6-2. After a tight first set in which Monfils was a break up, he disintegrated as he went out with a whimper making numerous dashes into the net only to be passed by the classy Djokovic. Federer and Djokovic will face off in the US Open for the fourth consecutive year with Federer prevailing in all of those encounters. Both players have displayed impressive form in their last two matches so i am expecting a high quality affair; i'm going for Federer to win in 4 sets and reach the final.

Women's US Open - Caroline, Vera to battle out SF

Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva both battled through to the Semi-finals following straight set wins in the Quarter-finals. The quality of the two matches was severely affected by the swirling winds on the Arthur Ashe Stadium which made for extremely difficult playing conditions. Vera Zvonareva was the first to progress with a 6-3 7-5 victory over the Estonian, Kaia Kanepi who had already defeated Jelena Jankovic and Yanina Wickmayer. Both players struggled throughout the match producing numerous errors however it was Zvonareva who was by far the most consistent player keeping more balls in court and ultimately doing enough to win the match. Kanepi struggled more with the wind producing an astonishing 60 unforced errors. Zvonareva has made her second consecutive grand slam semi-final however it is has been a much easier route for her at the US with Kanepi being her highest ranked opponent. Zvonareva has done all that she has needed to reach this stage but has been far from impressive with the next round seing a large jump up in quality in her opponent.

That opponent will be Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 7-5. Once again blustery conditions affected the match but it was the number 1 seed who was more solid producing more first serves and producing less errors on the court as Cibulkova conceded her first three service games. Cibulkova improved during the second set keeping more balls in court and finding much better timing on her powerful groundstrokes however she could not force the tiebreak as Caroline sailed into her second consecutive US Open semi-final. Wozniacki will now face Zvonareva in the SF and i am predicting a similar result to their last meeting in Montreal with Wozniacki prevailing in straight sets as i feel she is playing with so much confidence right now and that she will just be too solid for Zvonareva.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Women's US Open - Venus ousts Schiavone

The first of the women's quarter finals were completed on Wednesday night as Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters set up a SF clash. Venus Williams defeated Francesca Schiavone in a tight two setter, 7-6 6-4 and in blustery conditions. In the first set, Venus twice went a break up but failed to consolidate the break as the first set went into a tiebreak. Venus went into a commanding 4-0 lead however Schiavone clawed her way back with some sensational work at the net. However at 5-5, Schiavone produced two errors handing Venus the first set. The second set followed a similar vein as Venus twice secured the break but could not keep the pressure on as Schiavone broke back. However at the end of the second set, Venus did manage to break and serve the match out to put away the fiery Italian.

In the second QF, Kim Clijsters overcame Samantha Stosur in a scrappy error-strewn affair. Clijsters took the first set with the more solid serving however the second set was a much tighter affair with Clijsters producing a lot more unforced errors. Stosur struggled to finish off the second set as she got the jitters on her serve before eventually taking the match to a final set. The final set was scrappy as Stosur broke Clijster's first three service games however the normally potent serve of Stosur was disappointing as she failed to hold serve at all in the final set. Clijsters eventually found some consistency on the serve to finish off Stosur 6-4 5-7 6-3. Clijsters will have to play a lot better against Venus and i suspect she will be more pumped up for that match which should be an exciting SF. Clijsters goes into the match as the favourite and i would have to agree with the bookmakers as i have always felt Venus would not be able to sustain herself for 7 matches following her summer absence.

Men's US Open - Verdasco, Wawrinka win epics

The 4th round came to a close on Tuesday with both Fernando Verdasco and Stan Wawrinka winning epic battles to reach the QF's. Fernando Verdasco produced a stirring comeback to defeat compatriot David Ferrer, 5-7 6-7 6-3 6-3 7-6 coming from 2 sets down. Verdasco was also a break down in the final set and recovered from a 1-4 final set tiebreak deficit to win 6 points in a row finishing the encounter off with a sensational winner on the run. Stan Wawrinka also won a 5 set epic to back up his win over Andy Murray with a 7-6 6-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 victory over Sam Querrey. Wawrinka served for a two set lead but Wawrinka showed his nerves and let Querrey back into the match, which saw many changes of momentum. Verdasco will now play number 1 seed, Rafael Nadal in the QF's who produced another excellent performance in beating Feliciano Lopez, 6-3 6-4 6-4. Wawrinka will now take on Mikhail Youzhny who comfortably saw off Tommy Robredo in 4 sets with his powerful and dominating groundstrokes.

In other matches, both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer eased into the QF's; Djokovic sailed past Mardy Fish 6-3 6-4 6-1 and Federer defeated Melzer 6-3 7-6 6-3. Djokovic will now play Gael Monfils who won an entertaining all french encounter with Richard Gasquet, 6-4 7-5 7-5. Federer will face off against Soderling once again after Soderling defeated Albert Montanes in 4 sets.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Women's US Open - Woz proves title credentials

Caroline Wozniacki produced her best performance in a grand slam as she defeated Maria Sharapova, 6-3 6-4 in a superb 4th round encounter. The first set started with some electric rallies however the quality faded as Sharapova's serve went AWOL giving away the first break of the match at 2-1 with 3 double faults in a row. Wozniacki took the first set producing less errors and with some excellent serving which has been one of the biggest improvements of her game this year and is now becoming a weapon. The second set started superbly with a series of lengthy games as Sharapova changed her gameplan by really attacking Wozniacki and mixing up her game with some drop shots. However Wozniacki stood strong and improved in the second set producing more winners especially on the backhand side. It was Wozniacki who made the breakthrough at 3-3 and she managed to close the match out superbly. Wozniacki played a great match however Sharapova was disappointing as she produced too many errors and was very inconsistent on her serve. She also seems to have lost some of her mental toughness which has helped her to three grand slam titles as she made errors at crucial stages of the match.

In other matches, Dominika Cibulkova set up a QF with Wozniacki as she shocked Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 7-5 7-6 victory. Kuznetsova led 4-2 in the first set but from then on she struggled to find her rhythm as Cibulkova dominated the rallies and kept the pressure on Kuznetsova, who claimed afterwards she was disappointed by an early start. However Svetlana can only blame herself for this surprisingly lacklustre performance after a series of good performances over the last two months. Vera Zvonareva cruised into the QF with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Andrea Petkovic and will now play Kaia Kanepi who produced a gutsy comeback to defeat Yanina Wickmayer, 0-6 7-6 6-1. Kanepi was 6-0 1-0 down and looked to be heading for a heavy defeat however she managed to get her foot in the door and keep the second set competitive. Kanepi then raised her game at the latter stage of the set as Wickmayer's game began to crumble as she took the second set on a tiebreak. Kanepi then cruised through the final set as she recorded her second consecutive grand slam QF after her run at Wimbledon.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Men's US Open - Wawrinka shocks Murray

The 3rd round was completed with the biggest shock so far in the tournament as Andy Murray was sensationally dumped out of the US Open by an inspired Stanislas Wawinka, 3-6 7-6 6-3 6-3. Wawrinka make a great start to the match and served for the first set at 5-3 however Wawrinka stalled as he has done many times in his career as Murray raised his game superbly and went onto to take the first set. Murray looked to be on course for a routine win after twice taking leads in the second set however he suffered several lapses in concentration making routine errors and giving Wawrinka a second chance in the match. Wawrinka duly took advantage in the tiebreak against an increasingly frustrated Murray and levelled at one set all. In the third set, both players had medical timeouts but it was Murray who was physically struggling the most as Wawrinka remained composed and produced some dazzling winners as Murray literally crumbled on the court as he saw his chances slipping away. Murray did not play a bad match but Wawrinka was by far the superior player and finished off a dramatically entertaining encounter in superb fashion claiming the final two sets. Once again, Andy Murray has been left disappointed at a grand slam and although he was evidently struggling physically, this performance higihlighted a question of whether he has the right temperament and ability to raise his game at the latter stages of a grand slam. Murray's attitude was especially poor in the final two sets and he gave the impression to Wawrinka that he was not capable of winning the match.

In other matches, Sam Querrey eased past Nicolas Almagro, 6-3 6-4 6-4 to set up a 4th round encounter with Wawrinka. Mikhail Youzhny continued his impressive form as he beat John Isner in 4 sets, 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-4 and will now play Tommy Robredo after Michael Llodra had to retire at 2 sets to 1 down. Sergey Stakhovsky also had to retire handing Feliciano Lopez a route into the 4th round where he will face world number one, Rafael Nadal. Nadal produced a solid and confident performance in dispatching Giles Simon, 6-4 6-4 6-2. Simon admitted afterwards that his mind was elsewhere following the birth of his first child.

Women's US Open - Stosur saves 4MP's, Kim next

Sam Stosur beat Elena Dementieva, 6-3 2-6 7-6 in a thriller on Arthur Ashe Stadium in what was the latest ever finish for a women's match at the US Open. Stosur dominated the early proceedings using her penetrating groundstrokes and big serve to great effect however her form dipped in the second set as Dementieva raised her game to level at one set all. The third set was a topsy turvy affair with Dementieva having leads at 3-0 and 5-2 however after 4MP's which were characterised by lengthy exchanges, Stosur hung on and then dominated the final set tiebreak to book her place in the QF in what has been by far her best performance at the US. Once again Dementieva was left disappointed and will be rueing those missed match points. Stosur will now play Kim Clijsters in the next round who walloped Ana Ivanovic in a one sided affair, 6-1 6-2. Clijsters is raising her game at the right time after a slow start to her campaign. She was dominant in beating Ivanovic, who will be pleased with her 4R showing but feel there is still much work to do if she is to compete with the best.

In further 4th round action, Venus Williams overcame a gritty Shahar Peer, 7-6 6-3. The first set was an entertaining affair highlighted by the game at 5-6 with 8 deuces which Peer battled through after saving 5 set points. Ultimately, Venus was too strong in the tiebreak and despite Peer's superb battling qualities, she just did not have enough weapons to hurt Venus. Venus Williams will now play Francesca Schiavone in a potentially exciting QF after Schiavone brushed past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a surprisingly one-sided affair, 6-3 6-0. A-Pav appeared to be struggling with an injury in the second set and was making numerous errors off her backhand side contributing to an easy victory for the French Open Champion.

On Monday, the remaining matches from the 4th round will be played with everyone looking forward to Maria Sharapova v Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki is playing some of her best stuff however this will be her biggest test and with many people doubting her credentials against the top players, this will be her chance to prove to the critics she can win her first major here...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Women's US Open - JJ out, Wicky wins thriller

Jelena Jankovic was knocked out of the US Open after a disappointing defeat to Kaia Kanepi losing 6-2 7-6. Jankovic failed to cope with the windy conditions and despite having a brief resurgence in the second set, Kanepi stood strong to defeat Jankovic in a one-sided tiebreak. Kanepi has been on superb form after a QF appearance at Wimbledon and will next play Yanina Wickmayer who edged past Patty Schnyder in a thrilling 7-6 3-6 7-6 victory. For much of the match Schnyder held her own with her superb variety of shots against Wickmayer's rather one-dimensional game. However Wickmayer was just the more consistent player in the tiebreak as Schnyder double faulted on MP. I would fancy Kanepi to continue her run of upsets by beating Wickmayer in the next round.

In other matches, Caroline Wozniacki continued her dominant form as she lost just one game to add to her total of 3 lost as she blitzed past Yung-Jan Chan, 6-0 6-1 producing by far the more consistent tennis in the windy conditions. Wozniacki will now play Maria Sharapova in the highlight 4th round match after Sharapova destroyed Beatrice Capra with a double bagel, 6-0 6-0. Capra could not deal with Sharapova's power as she struggled to cause her any problems whatsoever creating just 3 winners. In the night match Svetlana Kuznetsova continued to look a threat as she produced an assured performance beating Maria Kirilenko, 6-3 6-4 and will now play Dominika Cibulkova who thrashed Lourdes Domingues Lino, 6-0 6-1. Vera Zvonareva also progressed to the 4th round with a comfortable 6-2 7-6 win over Alexandra Dulgheru and will now face the tricky Andrea Petkovic who did not have to take to the court on Saturday as Shaui Peng pulled out with an elbow injury. On paper, it looks like Vera Zvonareva has an excellent draw and that one of the SF spots should be hers if she plays solidly in the next two rounds.

Women's US Open - Ana keeps winning, Kim next

Ana Ivanovic was among the winners on day 5 at the US Open as she defeated Virginie Razzano, 7-5 6-0. After a tightly contested first set Ivanovic managed to make the move at the right time as she broke Razzano at 5-5 before taking the first set and cruising through the second to set up an enticing 4th round clash with Kim Clijsters. These two played the Cinncinati SF a few weeks back however Ivanovic had to pull out at 2-1 down due to injury so it will be especially rewarding to see these two battle out again. Clijsters beat Petra Kvitova, 6-3 6-0 winning 12 straight games after going 3-0 down in the first set. Kvitova was superb in the first 20 minutes hitting numerous winners and putting Clijsters on the defensive. However Kvitova's game became wayward as Clijsters assumed control of the match and in particular improved her serving statistics as she put in her most impressive performance to date. The 4th round match-up should be a great match and i'm predicting a 3 set victory for Clijsters.

In other matches, Elena Dementieva defeated Daniela Hanutchova, 7-5 6-2 after saving set points in the first set. Hantuchova was hitting the ball superbly in the first set however a brief rain break seemed to interrupt her rhythm and once again Hantuchova displayed how mentally fragile she can be as her game disintegrated after serving for the first set at 5-3. Dementieva however managed to raise her game from 5-3 down and became increasingly more consistent as her winners tally started to increase steadily. Dementieva will now play Sam Stosur who comfortably dispatched Sara Errani, 6-2 6-3 in her best performance at the US Open. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made the 4th round a a grand slam for the first time as she destroyed Gisela Dulko, 6-1 6-2. She will now meet Francesca Schiavone who defeated Alona Bondarenko, 6-1 7-5 in an entertaining affair where Schiavone produced a number of dazzling winners. In the final two matches, Venus Williams eased past Mandy Minella, 6-1 6-2 to set up another clash with Shahar Peer who surprisingly defeated in-form Flavia Pennetta, 6-4 6-4. Venus and Shahar have faced off 3 times this year with Venus winning all three so Peer will have to bring something special to the court if she is to have any chance of dispatching Venus.

Men's US Open - Stakhovsky wins thriller

All the seeds progressed through on a routine day in New York where Hurricane Earl was kept at bay. The best match to take to the court was between the American youngster, Ryan Harrison and Sergey Stakhovsky who won in New Haven last week. The match went to a gripping final set tiebreak and it was Stakhovsky who won the match after saving 3 match points when Harrison led 6-3 in the tiebreak but unfortunately let the pressure get to him at the crucial stage. Stakhovsky will now fancy his chances of reaching the 4th round as he takes on the irratic Feliciano Lopez who came through in another five setter against Benoit Paire. In other matches, Rafael Nadal won a terrific tussle with Denis Istomin, 6-2 7-6 7-5 and Andy Murray came through an entertaining clash with the flamboyant Dustin Brown, 7-5 6-3 6-0. David Nalbandian and Fernando Verdasco both came through comfortable 3 setters to set up an enticing 3rd round match-up meanwhile two of the American hopes, John Isner and Sam Querrey also won.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Men's US Open - Seeds crash, Cilic and Davy out

The first half of the 2nd round men's matches concluded on Thursday as more seeds tumbled out. The highest one to fall was Nikolay Davydenko losing in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-2 to Richard Gasquet. Gasquet's talent has never been questioned however it is his mentality that has been his main issue. He now has a superb chance to improve his ranking and will now take on Kevin Anderson who also knocked out a seed in Thomasz Bellucci in an epic 5 set match. The 11th seed Marin Cilic also fell to the talented and rising star, Kei Nishikori. In a match lasting just short of 5 hours, Nishikori overcame cramps to defeat a lacklustre Cilic. After a great start to the season, Cilic has disappointed with a third early exit at a grand slam since the Australian Open. Nishikori will now go onto face Albert Montanes in a match that Kei will fancy his chances in if he can recover in time. On Wednesday night, Andy Roddick also crashed out of the US Open in 4 sets to the impressive Janko Tipsarevic. Tipsy was fired up for this match after he posted on his twitter that the US Open website had mistakenly written that Roddick was playing Igor Andreev in the 2nd round. Tipsy was superb throughout against an angry Roddick who lost his temper after a line call and rounded off a poor yearwith this loss.

In other matches, Roger Federer eased past Andreas Beck, 6-3 6-4 6-3 and Novak Djokovic came through in the night time session against Philipp Petzschner, 7-5 6-3 7-6. Robin Soderling crushed Taylor Dent, 6-2 6-2 6-4 after a long 1st round match and Gael Monfils also progressed in straight sets with an impressive, 6-3 6-4 6-3 victory over Igor Andreev. Mardy Fish scored his third bagel of the tournament in his 7-5 6-2 6-0 victory over Pablo Cuevas and Juan Carlos Ferrero and Jurgen Melzer both won to set up a third round match-up. The remaining half of the draw remained hopeful of completing their matches on Friday with Hurricane Earl threatening the order of play.

Women's US Open - Aza and Rad out, JJ hangs in

The 2nd round of the Women's US Open came to a close on Thursday with both Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska exiting the competition. It was Azarenka who departed in the most dramatic of circumstances as she collapsed on court against Gisela Dulko at 5-1 down after evidently struggling throughout the whole first set. It was later revealed that Azarenka was suffering from mild concussion after a fall in the gym prior to the match. This was such a disappointment because things were looking good for Azarenka and she was definitely a contender for her first grand slam title. However she will have to wait till 2011 to have another crack at a grand slam. Agnieszka Radwanska, the number 9 seed was also involved in a shock loss as she went down 2-6 6-1 6-4 to China's Shaui Peng. Once again Radwanska has failed to bring her best tennis to a grand slam and it remains to be seen whether she will ever better her QF appearances at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Two other seeds to fall in the 2nd round were Aravane Rezai and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Rezai was extremely ineffective against the American wildcard Beatrice Capra who pulled off a huge shock coming through 7-5 2-6 6-3 meanwhile Patty Schnyder defeated MJMS in straight sets however in only her third game back since injury, this was not a major upset for MJMS.

The remaining seeds in the draw all came through and progressed into the 3rd round. Caroline Wozniacki crushed Kai-Chen Chang, 6-0 6-0 and both Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova progressed with 6-1 6-2 victories. Svetlana Kuznetsova was impressive as she used her all-court game to defeat a talented Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2 6-3. Francesca Schiavone blitzed her way into the 3rd round for the loss of just 4 games as she passed Maria Camerin and Elena Dementieva also progressed in straight sets against Sybille Bammer, 6-3 6-4. Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams both had tougher matches but progressed in straight sets; Vera overcame the dangerous yet error flowing Sabine Lisicki 6-1 7-6 in a match where breaks were more common than service holds. Venus had to overcome an impressive challenge from Rebecca Marino coming through 7-6 6-2 showing her best tennis in a superb tiebreak. Flavia Pennetta and Yanina Wickmayer also sailed through against tricky opponents; Pennetta beat Szavay 6-1 6-4 and Wickmayer ousted Goerges 6-4 7-5. The highest seed to have a 2nd round struggle was Jelena Jankovic who fought yet again in 3 sets to defeat Mirjana Lucic, 6-4 3-6 6-2. It was a poor match laden with errors but Jelena came through and she will now have to improve her game considerably if she is to progress any further in the competition.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Men's US Open - Berydch and Baghdatis crash out

The big upset in the 1st round of the men's draw saw the Wimbledon champion, Tomas Berdych knocked out in straight sets on by Michael Llodra. Berdych was outplayed by Llodra who served and volleyed his way to victory and will be someone to look out for in the draw as he has looked sharp since a run to the title at Eastbourne in June. Also falling in the 1st round was Marcos Baghdatis who was beaten in a five set thriller by Arnaud Clement. This came as quite a surprise because Baghdatis has produced some excellent performances during the summer including a win over Nadal in Cincinnati. However his tendency to lose against lesser known players and not raise his game remains a problem when competing at a GS. Ernest Gulbis was also knocked out as he was beaten in straight sets by Jeremy Chardy after it appeared the heat was too much for Ernests.

Most of the top seeds prevailed with Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick and Davydenko all coming through in straight sets. However the number 3 seed, Novak Djokovic had to battle hard to reach the 2nd round after coming from 2 sets to 1 down to beat an inspired Victor Troicki. Troicki looked set for a superb win as he dominated proceedings early on in the 4th set however Djokovic dug deep in the blistering heat and pulled off an excellent win in the end. David Nalbandian and Mardy Fish, both form players over the Summer had to come through in 5 sets. It remains to be seen whether these two can produce the same results when playing best of 5 set matches at a grand slam. Fernando Verdasco also came through in 5 sets against Fognini who defeated him in the first round of Wimbledon however this time round Verdasco was too strong.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Women's US Open - Na Li falls, JJ and Sam survive

Na Li was the highest seed to fall in the womens draw as the first round of the US Open was completed on Monday night. Li, the number 8 seed looked to be heading to a comfortable victory when she took the first set against Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2. However her game capitulated as Bondarenko (pictured right) grew in confidence and starting going for her shots before coming away with an impressive 2-6 6-4 6-2 victory. Several other seeds suffered scares with Jelena Jankovic having the most trouble in her 1st round match with the talented Simona Halep. Jankovic was 2 points from defeat when Halep served for the match however a scrappy Jankovic managed to battle through and take the match. Sam Stosur also looked to be heading for defeat after losing the first set to Elena Vesnina however like Jankovic, Stosur managed to pull through playing some solid tennis in the final set to win 3-6 7-6 6-1. Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka all lost sets to impressive opponents however all pulled through. Sharapova came through 4-6 6-3 6-1 against Jarmilla Groth who was superb in the first set with her fast paced attacking tennis and hitting the ball so early often catching Sharapova short on her movement. However Groth failed to maintain her form and demonstrated her main weakness in her mentality with errors at crucial points in the match. Azarenka was strolling to what looked like a comfortable victory before the all chasing Monica Niculescu grabbed the second set as she defended superbly against the Belarusian, who started to make many errors. However Azarenka came through well in the 3rd set reducing her error count, staying focussed and mixing her game up more against the tricky Niculescu. The likes of Wozniacki, V Williams, Clijsters, Zvonareva, Radwanska, Wickmayer, Bartoli and Schiavone all managed to come through in straight sets to make it into the second round of the final major.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Men's US Open Preview

The final slam of the year will kick off on Monday and the draw is set with the top Men's players ready to battle it out. Rafael Nadal is the number 1 seed and will open up against Teimuraz Gabashvilli meanwhile Roger Federer, the number 2 seed will begin his campaign against Brian Dabul. The number 3 seed Novak Djokovic faces a potentially tricky opener against Viktor Troicki and the Toronto champion and number 4 seed, Andy Murray will face Lukas Lacko. The top 4 have all shown mixed form over recent months so you may have to look further a field at the likes of Soderling, Berdych or Nalbandian to spring a surprise or two.

Quarter 1 - R Nadal (1) v F Verdasco (8)

Rafa Nadal will be happy with the draw with his most significant test before the QF likely to be from the number 29 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the 3rd round. Both Ljubicic and Lopez do not look like progressing far based on their recent form so expect a run from an unseeded player, possibly Stakhovsky. Nadal is projected to meet Fernando Verdasco however i am anticipating a 3R exit for Verdasco with David Nalbandian present in this section. David Ferrer has the likes of Alexander Dologopolov and Ernests Gulbis to overcome before reaching a 4R with Nalbandian, which i would predict that David N would win.

Prediction = Nadal v Nalbandian

Quarter 2 - A Murray (4) v T Berdych (7)

Andy Murray has an easy passage to the 3rd round where he is likely to meet Stan Wawrinka. In the 4th round, an even tougher opponent in Sam Querrey will meet Murray however i expect Murray to progress through to the QF without too many problems. Querreys draw looks especially straight forward with the disinterested Almagro his projected 3R opponent. Tomas Berdych should meet Benneteau in R3 who will dispatch of the seeded Radek Stepanek. I anticipate an early exit for Mikhail Youzhny to Golubev and for Berdych to face off against big man John Isner in the 4th round if Isner is fit after his ankle injury. It is here i predict that the Wimbledon finalist will be defeated.

Prediction = Murray v Isner

Quarter 3 - N Davydenko (6) v N Djokovic (3)

Davydenko has a potentially tricky draw with Gasquet in the 2R and then Kevin Anderson or Thomasz Bellucci in the 3R. His 4R opponent should be Andy Roddick who will have to make his way past Tipsarevic and Monfils, two players who can raise their game on the big stage however often fail to perform. I'm then predicting that Roddick who has a significant lead in their head-to-head record, will defeat Davydenko. Djokovic has a good draw to the 3R however danger men in the form of Marcos Baghdatis and Mardy Fish could await in the 4th round. Baghdatis has won all his games against Fish however Fish has been superb of late and i expect him to reach the 4R to play Djokovic where his journey will likely end.

Prediction = Roddick v Djokovic

Quarter 4 - R Soderling (5) v R Federer (2)

Robin Soderling has a solid draw with a likely 3R match-up with Thiemo De Bakker who should defeat the number 27 seed, Fernando Gonzalez. Marin Cilic has failed to live up to his early season performances however he would be extremely disappointed not to reach at least the 4th round with clay courter, Albert Montanes his toughest opponent on paper. Soderling should then meet Cilic in the 4th round where Cilic could pull a surprise or two. Federer has a straight forward passage to the QF with Hewitt in R3 and then either Jurgen Melzer or Juan Carlos Ferrero, both who have struggled on the hard courts.

Prediction = Cilic v Federer

The Winner - I am predicting Andy Murray will win his first GS after beating Nadal in the SF and Federer in the final. I feel it is time for Murray to step up to the plate and prove his credentials at the big stage. I'm also predicting a SF appearance for Andy Roddick and that John Isner, Marin Cilic and David Nalbandian will all be threats in the draw in what should one of the most open GS tournaments in quite a while.

Women's US Open Preview

The final major of the season is upon us with the US Open starting on Monday. With Serena Williams out injured, Caroline Wozniacki is the number 1 seed and it paves the way for an exciting and open competition. Wozniacki will open up her title challenge against American wildcard Carly Gullickson, meanwhile Kim Clijsters as number 2 seed will take on Greta Arn. Of the other top 8 seeds, Stosur and Jankovic have got the toughest openers. Stosur will meet Elena Vesnina who has lost her seeding however she''s raised her game on the hard courts after a disappointing first half of the season and i think Stosur will be going out early. Jankovic will meet Simona Halep who is a promising youngster and with JJ's current form this could be a tricky opener .

For the British players, Anne Keothavong has a good chance of progressing to R2 with a 1st round match-up against Yung-Jan Chan. Elena Baltacha will play Petra Martic for the second straight GS and will want to exact revenge after failing to serve out their match last time round. Hopefully Baltacha will be fired up for this one despite disappointing form of late. In other first round matches, Maria Sharapova will face Jarmilla Groth and Svetlana Kuznetsova will take on Kimiko Date Krumm in what will be tricky openers for the Russians. The stand-out match for R1 will be Daniela Hantuchova v Dinara Safina in what will be a rematch from New Haven earlier this week. It's a shame for Hantuchova as it will be a real struggle to overturn the defeat to Dinara.

Quarter 1 - C Wozniacki (1) v N Li (8)

Wozniacki has a relatively straight forward draw to R4 where she could meet Sharapova in what would be a cracker... i would give the edge with Sharapova but i would definitely like to see Wozniacki continue her good form and progress further. Na Li has some useful players in her section with R3 opposition of Shvedova/Chakvetadze. In the other R3 match, Svetlana Kuznetsova could meet Maria Kirilenko once again. Kirilenko has won their last two encounters that took place this year however Kuznetsova has been playing much better and i'm going to back her to beat both Kirilenko and Li on the way to the QF.
Prediction = Sharapova v Kuznetsova

Quarter 2 - J Jankovic (4) v V Zvonareva (7)

It must be said that JJ has a very good draw and its a shame she has not been playing very well recently. However im going to back JJ to reach the QF. Halep in R1 and Kanepi in R3 will not be easy matches but i think she will turn her game around. MJMS will struggle with a lack of matches and Wickmayer has not looker herself so Schnyder or Goerges is my tip for JJ's R4 opponent. Zvonareva has a good draw and should progress to the 4R without too many problems. Radwanska could meet Petrova in R3 who has been blowing hot and cold recently but i would have to go for the more consistent player in Radwanska. Zvonareva against Radwanska would be a R4 match-up and i'd give the slightest of edges to Zvonareva.
Prediction = Jankovic v Zvonareva

Quarter 3 - F Schiavone (6) v V Williams (3)

Francesca Schiavone should make R3 where she will meet Dushevina or A.Bondarenko however i cannot see her progressing any further. The tie of R3 could be Azarenka v Pavlyuchenkova. I'm going for Azarenka to win this and reach the QF although ive felt this could be A-Pav's breakthrough tournament so we'll see what happens... Venus has it easy on paper up to R3 where she could meet Pironkova again although i think its more likely it will be Hercog. I'm predicting Pennetta will come through Szavay and Peer to meet Venus in R4 and knock her out. This does depend on Pennettas fitness as she pulled out of New Haven but hopefully precautionary. I've always felt Venus will not win the US, especially without any matches since Wimbledon so it would definitely be a surprise to me...
Prediction = Azarenka v Pennetta

Quarter 4 - S Stosur (5) v K Clijsters (2)

Stosur is struggling with injury and form so i dont think this will be her tournament. Elena Dementieva should meet the winner of Hantuchova/Safina in R3 and i think Dementieva will progress to the QF. Kleybanova or Vesnina should be her R4 opponent with Johanna Larsson a long shot at possibly upsetting Alisa Kleybanova. Clijsters has a good draw to R4 with Kvitova her projected R3 opponent. Ivanovic has some tricky, but winnable ones and i think she'll get as far as R3 to face Bartoli if shes recovered from injury. Clijsters will then face off against Bartoli in the 4th round and i can only see one winner in this one...
Prediction = Dementieva v Clijsters

The Winner - At the moment i'm going for a Sharapova v Azarenka final. I have a feeling Clijsters will not win... there's no logic behind this argument just a gut feeling! I think there is a great chance we will see a new GS winner and i think it could be Azarenka. I would have said Wozniacki before i saw the draw however im concerned with Sharapova lurking in her section.

WTA New Haven - Petrova stuns Stosur

Nadia Petrova produced a stunning performance to beat the 2nd seed Samantha Stosur, 6-1 6-2 and reach the SF of New Haven. Petrova served and returned superbly breaking Stosur's serve on 5 occasions. Petrova has shown she has the ability to produce the big performances as she demonstrated with her 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open however she has struggled for consistency and the ability to back up a big win. She will now face Maria Kirilenko in the SF who stopped the run of Dinara Safina with an impressive 6-3 6-3 victory. In the other SF, Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki will meet after both progressing in different fashions. Dementieva overcame Bartoli 6-3 3-6 6-1 in a scrappy 3 hour battle. It was Dementieva however who produced the best tennis in the final set as the disappointing Bartoli served up numerous errors and double faults. Wozniacki progressed through to the next round after Pennetta pulled out with a right foot injury.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

WTA New Haven - Russians race into 2nd round

All three Russians progressed to the 2nd round of New Haven after winning their first round matches on Monday. First up was Elena Dementieva who handily defeated Martinez Sanchez, who was making a welcome return from injury. Dementieva was dominant on serve especially in the 1st set where she lost only 1 point on her serve. After struggling in her recent tournaments, I expect Dementieva to have her best run here where a QF match-up with Marion Bartoli looks on the cards. Dinara Safina also came through after turning the tables on Schiavone after a 6-3 6-4 loss in Montreal. This time round, Safina overcame a disappointing first set to win 1-6 6-3 6-1. It was another win that highlighted Safina's steady improvement over the last three weeks and sets up an enticing 2nd round clash with Daniela Hanutchova. With her seeding lost for the US Open, Safina will be a threat for the top seeds.

Nadia Petrova was the third Russian to come through on Monday however she had to overcome a seemingly impossible 6-1 5-2 deficit to Varvara Lepchenko before she completely transformed her game and came through losing just one more game. Petrova's form since the French Open has been disappointing but Petrova will look to get some more matches under her belt before the US starts. In other results, Kateryna Bondarenko won her first match since the French Open beating also out-of-form Petra Kvitova. Dominika Cibulkova also won through after scraping past the disappointing Melanie Oudin, who has failed to reach the heights of her QF appearance at the US Open last year.

ATP Cincinnati - Federer on top in Cincy

Roger Federer won the Cinncinati title on Sunday as he came through in a tight 3 setter with American Mardy Fish, 6-7 7-6 6-4. Federer was not playing at his best but this win, which was his first title since the Australian Open in January will give him an added boost going into the US Open. Furthermore, his closest rivals appear to be struggling with just one week left to go before the US Open begins. Most disappointing was Nadal who was ousted in the QF by Marcos Baghdatis after serving a double fault at 4-4 in the final set. Although this is just a warm up tournament and you should not read too much into the results, i cannot see Nadal winning the US Open based on his form at recent events. On the other hand, Murray looks sharper despite a 3 set defeat to Mardy Fish in blistering heat. Murray appeared to be suffering from his exploits in Toronto and playing in the midday heat so an early loss here did not come as much of a surprise. It was refreshing to see both Roddick and Davydenko pull off some good wins this week, Roddick in particular who dispatched of Djokovic, 6-4 7-5 before failing to close out his SF with Fish when given a chance to in the 2nd set. With many of the main contenders for the US seemingly struggling, it could pave the way for a new GS champion like Juan Martin Del Potro who triumphed at last years US Open.

Monday, 23 August 2010

WTA Montreal - Caroline beats Vera in final

Caroline Wozniacki scooped the biggest title of her career as she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in the SF's followed by a similarly straight forward victory in the final against Vera Zvonareva, 6-2 6-3. Wozniacki was aided by her ever improving serve which was working superbly all week giving her many more free points. She was also hitting with excellent depth on her shots and increased intensity which meant she was making a lot more winners than usual. Her solid, consistent hitting was forcing both Svetlana and Vera to attack more however neither could raise their game today as they both racked up high unforced error counts. It was also nice to see Caroline come into the net more as she looked much more at ease in finishing points off at the net. Zvonareva, once again was disappointing in a final after lacklustre showings in both the Charleston and Wimbledon finals however she will go into the US feeling relatively confident of her game. Vera Zvonareva edged a tight first set with Azarenka before she retired with a blister at 7-6 1-0 down in their SF. All 4 semi-finalists in Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Kuznetsova and Azarenka should be contenders going into the US Open however it is Wozniacki who looks the most likely to succeed at the US based on this form today. It remains to be seen whether she will defend her title at New Haven, which may not be the smartest move if she wants to go into the US feeling fresh.