Saturday, January 31, 2009

Face Of The Day


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Serena Williams of the US gestures as she addresses a press conference following her victory in her women's singles final match against Dinara Safina of Russia at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 31, 2009. Williams thrashed Russia's Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open title, bringing her total Grand Slam tally to 10 in one of the most one-sided deciders ever.

Quote For The Day

"Well, I mean, you could think that way, but I don't think it's really going to affect Rafa that much. He's had very easy matches going into this semifinal.

"Okay, he has a day less. But, look, I mean, you got to be fit and recover from this kind of a match. I think he will, even though he took a while. His matches usually take longer than other matches because he takes his time out on the court. I don't think he will be really affected on Sunday....

"I don't think Rafa will struggle too much to get over this kind of a match. Like I said before, he's had an easy tournament so far. This was the tough one. I'm sure he's going to get over it. I see the point, but I don't think it's a valid one on this occasion." --Roger Federer

Seven


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Bob (L) and Mike Bryan of the US pose with their trophy after victory in their men's doubles match against Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Mark Knowles of Bahamas at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 31, 2009. Bob and Mike Bryan won their seventh Grand Slam doubles title when they bounced back to crush Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the Australian Open final.

Men's Final Preview



By Mad Professah



Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Roger Federer SUI (2). For the seventh time in a Grand Slam final, Federer and Nadal will face each other as the two top players in the world. Nadal has won 4 of those matches, including the instant classic from Wimbledon 2008, which some commentators are calling the greatest match of the decade, or even the greatest ever. If Federer is indeed the Greatest Of All Time, why is it that he consistently loses to his Spanish nemesis?

Nadal not only leads Federer 12-6 in overall head-to-head clashes, the Spaniard beat the Swiss all four times they played in 2008!

Nadal is now the No. 1 player in the world and Federer is No. 2. Federer is now at 13 major titles, one away from tennis immortality at age 27 while Nadal currently has 5 and is more than 5 years younger.

All this data would seem to lead to the conclusion that Nadal should defeat Federer (again) for his first hard court major in Melbourne Sunday night. And it is indeed quite likely that will happen. But somehow I doubt it.

Although I do think that Nadal has greatly improved his game since their first Grand Slam meeting in 2005, he has still not quite made the full adjustment on hard courts. The very fact that he played an incredible 5 hour, 14 minute match against Fernando Verdasco simply to reach his first hardcourt major final is both an indication of Nadal's indomitable win but also a nagging reminder that there is still room for improvement in Nadal's game on this fastest of surfaces.

The only players to beat Federer in Melbourne since 2004 have been Marat Safin in 2005 and Novak Djokovic in 2008 and both managed the feat in a semifinal, not a final. Federer is a big match player (as is Nadal, obviously) and he desperately wants to win his 14th major title.

However, in the end it simply comes down to who plays better on the day (and sometimes, a little luck).

I do believe that Federer playing at his best would still beat Nadal playing at his best, but it's not clear for how much longer that will be true. Very soon (and the point may have been reached already as indicated by Nadal's Wimbledon title) Federer's very best will not be enough to surpass Nadal's very best. Then the question is how will the he (and the rest of the field) react, and whether Federerwill be able to regroup and actually exceed Sampras' milestone of 14 major singles titles. I believe 2009 will be the year we find out the definitive answer to these questions, starting with a result in tomorrow's Men's final.

PREDICTION: Federer in 4 sets (or Nadal in 5).

Slideshow: Women's Trophy Presentation



Slideshow is best viewed in full screen. Click on the icon on the bottom right of the slideshow. Click on SHOW INFO at the top right of the full screen show for photo descriptions.

"Oh. That Should Be Quick."



Hubby, who pretty much only watches tennis when walking through the living room, asked me who Serena was playing in the final. When I told him, that was his answer.

How right he was.

Dinara Safina wept.

You would too if facing the crushing onslaught of serves and forehands from the Fierce Stompin' Diva.

That was Serena Williams' second Melbourne final to the loss of only three games.

And the roof was open. Her first Melbourne title outdoors.

Double digits, baby. Double digits.

Back on top of the world.

Go on, girl.


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Related Post: Trophy Presentation Slideshow

Champions


Peter Norfolk of Great Britain - Men's Quad Champion




Yuki Bhambri - Boys Champion




Ksenia Pervak of Russia - Girls' champion


Christina McHale of the United States of America and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia - Girls' Doubles Champions


Francis Casey Alcantara of the Phillipines and Cheng-Peng Hsieh of Taipei - Boys' Doubles Champions

Friday, January 30, 2009

Comment Of The Week

Helen W said...

Well, if Tsonga wanted an extra day's rest, maybe they should have moved him instead of the whole draw -- maybe he would have liked to play Federer instead of whomever he got? Works for me.

I read the same thing about always putting last year's winner up first, but certainly that is nowhere on the AO site, and this question has come up quite often, so you'd think that if that really were the reason, they would say so publicly.

My guess is that, once again, the Tennis Establishment was hunting for ways and means of giving Roger every possible advantage. They certainly gave him a nice, comfy draw. And they certainly helped him out at the last US Open, and at Wimby 2007. Last year, Djokovic was regarded as the main threat, so of course most of the time he was on Rafa's side of the draw. This year the main threat is Andy Murray, so it is no surprise that Murray ended up on Rafa's side. I know, I know, it's all random.

Now if they could just find someone -- anyone -- who could beat Rafa on clay at RG, they'd be in heaven.

I, for one, fervently hope these machinations come to nought; that Rafa somehow recovers in the short time allotted him, and takes his first hard-court slam.



Post: Epic Breakthrough

Face Of The Day

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Fernando Verdasco reacts as he plays against compatriot Rafael Nadal of Spain during their men's singles tennis match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 31, 2009.

Quote For The Day

"No, but I think, for sure, the semifinals supposed to be the same day, both semifinals, because I think, you know, is the most fair for everybody, no? Because like right now, yesterday Federer play three sets, and today Rafa play five sets, five hours, and he will have one day less, and with a semifinal much longer.

"I think that for sure they supposed to play the two semifinals like the womans, the same day. And I think also with two weeks, you have enough days to make the schedule right and have it like this.

"But I don't know why they did it, no? I promise, I didn't know that Federer was playing yesterday. I thought that yesterday was playing only girls, and today two semifinals. When I saw that he was playing yesterday, I was a little bit in shock. I was like, Why he's playing one day before us? He will have much recover, and in the final he will have a little bit more of advantage because he had one day more.

"So I don't know why they did it. And I think that, for sure, they need to change it."

--Fernando Verdasco

Women's Final Preview


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By Mad Professah

For the fourth time in her career Serena Williams is in the final of the Australian Open, the first major tournament of the year. She has previously won the title in 2003 (over Venus Williams), 2005 (over Lindsay Davenport) and 2007 (over Maria Sharapova). Sharapova won the title over Ana Ivanovic last year, somewhat making up for the shellacking Serena had dealt her the year before. However, the defending champion is not here this year and with the mathematical inevitability indicated by the curious pattern of winning in every odd year this decade, the 9-time champion has been the overwhelming favorite to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title for the first time since she won all four in a row in 2003.

This time her opponent will be another Russian, although she's not "another 'ova" as the Americans once dismissed the large group of Russian and eastern European players years ago, she is Dinara ("no longer just Marat's little sister!") Safina. Whoever wins the match on Sunday will also receive the bonus of being crowned the world No. 1. Head-to-head, Serena has only lost to Safina once (last year) during the Russian's "dream tournament" in Berlin when she beat (in successive rounds) Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva to win her first Tier 1 title. Safina's brother won this title four years ago and she has been playing excellent tennis ever since her Berlin breakthrough. She did quite well to fend off a surprisingly stiff challenge from Vera Zvonareva in the Women's semis, winning 6-3 7-6(4).

In the other semifinal Serena was able to obtain revenge for three consecutive losses against Dementieva by handing the vastly improved Russian her first loss of 2009 in three tournaments 6-3 6-4 relatively easily. She similarly dispatched Safina in the semifinals of the U.S. Open just over 4 months ago (how time flies!) and Saturday's final is very unlikely to have a different result.

Mad Professah's pick: Williams in 2 sets.

Epic Breakthrough


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What a difference a day makes.

Rafael Nadal
had to work overtime to take out the red-hot Fernando Verdasco in five grueling sets 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4 over 5 hours to reach his first Slam final on a non-natural surface.

Best match of the fortnight. Verdasco is a revelation. Rafa has the heart of a lion. I just don't get no better than that.

Roger Federer walked all over his pigeon in straight sets and has an extra day off before the final.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Double Trouble


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Had a brief family emergency (everything is fine) so I missed the final.

Eighth Grand Slam doubles title.

Think they're happy?

Work it, sisters.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Show Me The Money

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From the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
SERENA WILLIAMS BECOMES ALL-TIME FEMALE ATHLETE PRIZE MONEY LEADER

By advancing to singles and doubles finals of Australian Open, American breaks female athlete career prize money record previously held by Annika Sorenstam

MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams has became the all-time female athlete career prize money leader in women’s sports by advancing to the finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Russia’s Elena Dementieva. With her win yesterday and by reaching the doubles final with sister Venus, Serena not only eclipses Lindsay Davenport as the all-time leader in women’s tennis career prize money, but she also overtakes the LPGA’s Annika Sorenstam, who had held the record for career earnings with a total of $22,573,192. With her results to date at the 2009 Australian Open, Serena’s career earnings total US$22,725,475, surpassing Davenport by $580,740 and Sorenstam by $152,283. Davenport bypassed Steffi Graf in career prize money earnings in 2008, with the German having previously overtaken Martina Navratilova in earnings in 1998.

"I’m thrilled with the news! I remember earning my first cheque of $240 at Quebec City in 1995 and while I knew that I could have a great career in tennis, I could not have imagined or dreamed of all of this," said Serena Williams. "It’s amazing how much women’s tennis has grown since I joined the Tour fourteen years ago. I am very proud to have reached this milestone for me, my family and all women athletes out there. This achievement really shows that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything."

"This is an historic milestone not just for Serena but all women athletes," said Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. "Serena is one of the all time great champions in the history of our sport and this achievement is a product of Serena’s amazing on-court accomplishments over an extended time period."

Williams turned professional at the age of fourteen in November 1995 and played her first tournament in Quebec City, Canada. In her fourteen-year career she has won every major title in addition to nine Grand Slams, becoming only the sixth woman, other than Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, to achieve such a feat. Of the current players, only Serena’s older sister Venus Williams comes close to such an achievement, with seven Grand Slam singles titles to her name.

Williams was a winner at the US Open in 1999 beating Martina Hingis, at 2002 Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open and 2003 Australian Open, each time beating Venus Williams; 2003 Wimbledon, once again defeating sister Venus, in Australia in 2005 and 2007 over Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova, respectively, and finally at the 2008 US Open defeating Jelena Jankovic. In addition, Williams won two Olympic Gold medals, both playing doubles with Venus Williams – in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008. Serena Williams holds 32 singles titles and 14 doubles titles. She passed the one million US dollar mark at the 1999 Roland Garros, later exceeding the $10 million mark in 2002 and the $20 million mark in 2008, both at the Sony Ericsson Championships.

Prize Money Milestone’s in Women’s Tennis

§ In 1971, total Tour prize money for 19 events was $309,100. In 2009, it has grown to over $86 million at the Tour’s 55 events (including the Grand Slams, which are not operated by the Tour)

§ In 1971, Billie Jean King became the first female athlete to pass the six figure mark in single season earnings. In 2008, 143 women earned over $100,000 during the season

§ In 1976, Chris Evert became the first female athlete to pass $1 million in career earnings at the Colgate Champs in Palm Springs, CA; in 1986 Martina Navratilova became the first woman to pass $10 million in career earnings at the U.S. Indoors and it was Navratilova again eight years later at 1994 Filderstadt, where she became the first to pass the $20 million mark

§ By winning Wimbledon 1982, Martina Navratilova became the all-time prize money leader in tennis, over taking both Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors, a mantle she held until 1989; later that year, she became the first female athlete to pass $1 million in a single season finishing with 1,475,055

§ In 1984, Navratilova surpassed the $2 million mark in season earnings; in 1997 Martina Hingis passed the $3 million mark; in 2003 Kim Clijsters passed the $4 million plateau and in 2007 Justine Henin became the first woman in sports to pass $5 million in single season earnings

§ On three occasions, a woman has been the top earner (men or women) in tennis: 1984 – Martina Navratilova, 1991 – Monica Seles and 2003 – Kim Clijsters.

Face Of The Day

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Mirka Vavrinec, girlfriend of tennis player Roger Federer of Switzerland, smiles after Federer's win over Andy Roddick of the US in his men's singles semifinal match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2009.

Quote For The Day

"I think when Pete did it, I was a part of that one, too. I think when he did it in '02, everyone was saying how kind of lofty of an achievement it was. I don't know if we thought we would see it any time soon. Little did we know [Roger] was going to start it the next year and go after it.

"I mean, that's for you guys to do. It feels like two different ‑‑ it's like my childhood was Pete, and now it's kind of my grown life is Roger. It's different, because you view Pete in kind of this ‑‑ I don't know how to put it.

"I guess Roger is a contemporary of mine which didn't lessen the affect. I see Pete and Andre and I still get a little jittery. It's crazy to think it's come full circle and the magnitude of the numbers he's accomplished, it's pretty scary if you sit down and look at them and go through what it takes to accomplish that."

--Andy Roddick, on what it would mean to tennis history if Raja wins 14 Slams.

Interesting that both of those milestones will go right through him if Raja wins on Sunday. Andy couldn't win a Slam till Pete retired and then the guy who everyone likes to compare to Pete has stopped Andy from winning at least 6 Slams. Two Wimbledon finals, a US Open final, two Australian Open semifinals, a Wimbledon semifinal, and who knows how many just by virtue of Andy never really getting over the 2004 Wimbledon final. And, ironically, for many American fans and the pundits who hyped him to the hilt, Andy was supposed to be the next Pete.

Talk about being born on the wrong side of history.

Another Federer Match. Another Loss.



He didn't even get to a tiebreak. Didn't break serve once. Lost two sets 7-5, which almost always means mental collapse.

I wasn't going to go sleep-deprived to watch what I felt would be a straight-set loss. I DVR'd it. Told my dog, who sleeps in front of the TV and actually watches it, to bark if Andy won a set.

Slept like a baby.

I could slap Tomas Berdych.

Three times.

Australian Open Results

Semifinals

Rafael Nadal, (1) vs. Fernando Verdasco, (14)
Roger Federer, (2) def. Andy Roddick, (7), 6-2, 7-5, 7-5

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Serena Williams, (2) def. Elena Dementieva, (4), 6-3, 6-4
Dinara Safina, (3) def. Vera Zvonareva, (7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)

Quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal, (1) def. Gilles Simon, (6), 6-2, 7-5, 7-5
Roger Federer, (2) def. Juan Martin Del Potro, (8), 6-3, 6-0, 6-0
Novak Djokovic, (3) vs. Andy Roddick, (7), 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 2-6, 1-2 retired
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (5) vs. Fernando Verdasco, (14), 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 3-6, 2-6

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Serena Williams, (2) def. Svetlana Kuznetsova, (8), 5-7, 7-5, 6-1
Dinara Safina, (3) def. Jelena Dokic, , 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Elena Dementieva, (4) def. Carla Suarez Navarro, , 6-2, 6-2
Vera Zvonareva, (7) def. Marion Bartoli, (16), 6-3, 6-0


Fourth Round

Rafael Nadal, (1) def. Fernando Gonzalez, (13), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Tomas Berdych, (20) vs. Roger Federer, (2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 4-6, 2-6
Novak Djokovic, (3) def. Marcos Baghdatis, , 6-1, 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (5-7), 6-2
Andy Murray, (4) vs. Fernando Verdasco, (14), 6-2, 1-6, 6-1, 3-6, 4-6
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (5) def. James Blake, (9), 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)

Gilles Simon, (6) def. Gael Monfils, (12), 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 retired
Andy Roddick, (7) def. Tommy Robredo, (21), 7-5, 6-1, 6-3
Juan Martin Del Potro, (8) def. Marin Cilic, (19), 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2

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Marion Bartoli, (16) def. Jelena Jankovic, (1), 6-1, 6-4
Serena Williams, (2) def. Victoria Azarenka, (13), 3-6, 4-2 retired
Dinara Safina, (3) def. Alize Cornet, (15), 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
Elena Dementieva, (4) def. Dominika Cibulkova, (18), 6-2, 6-2
Vera Zvonareva, (7) def. Nadia Petrova, (10), 7-5, 6-4

Svetlana Kuznetsova, (8) def. Jie Zheng, (22), 4-1 retired
Carla Suarez Navarro, def. Anabel Medina Garrigues, (21), 6-3, 6-2
Alisa Kleybanova, (29) vs. Jelena Dokic, , 5-7, 7-5, 6-8


Third Round

Rafael Nadal, (1) def. Tommy Haas, , 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Andy Murray, (4) def. Jurgen Melzer, (31), 7-5, 6-0, 6-3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (5) def. Dudi Sela, , 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1
Gilles Simon, (6) def. Mario Ancic, , 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2
James Blake, (9) def. Igor Andreev, (18), 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
Gael Monfils, (12) def. Nicolas Almagro, (17), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5

Fernando Gonzalez, (13) def. Richard Gasquet, (24), 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-2, 12-10
Fernando Verdasco, (14) def. Radek Stepanek, (22), 6-4, 6-0, 6-0


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Serena Williams, (2) def. Shuai Peng, , 6-1, 6-4

Elena Dementieva, (4) def. Samantha Stosur, , 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova, (8) def. Alona Bondarenko, (31), 7-6 (9-7), 6-4
Anabel Medina Garrigues, (21) def. Flavia Pennetta, (12), 6-4, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka, (13) def. Amelie Mauresmo, (20), 6-4, 6-2
Virginie Razzano, vs. Dominika Cibulkova, (18), 5-7, 5-7

Jie Zheng, (22) def. Kateryna Bondarenko, , 6-2, 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro, def. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, , 6-1, 6-4

Second Round

Rafael Nadal, (1) def. Roko Karanusic, , 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Andy Murray, (4) def. Marcel Granollers-Pujol, , 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (5) def. Ivan Ljubicic, , 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (9-7), 6-2
Gilles Simon, (6) def. Chris Guccione, , 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
James Blake, (9) def. Sebastien De Chaunac, , 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Gael Monfils, (12) def. Stefan Koubek, , 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Fernando Gonzalez, (13) def. Guillermo Canas, , 7-5, 6-3, 6-4

Fernando Verdasco, (14) def. Arnaud Clement, , 6-1, 6-1, 6-2
Nicolas Almagro, (17) def. Fabio Fognini, , 6-2, 7-5, 6-0
Igor Andreev, (18) def. Ernests Gulbis, , 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-4
Radek Stepanek, (22) def. Michael Berrer, , 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5
Richard Gasquet, (24) def. Denis Istomin, , 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Ivo Karlovic, (25) vs. Mario Ancic, , 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6
Jurgen Melzer, (31) def. Andreas Beck, , 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-3
Dudi Sela, def. Victor Hanescu, , 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Tommy Haas, def. Flavio Cipolla, , 6-1, 6-2, 6-1

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Serena Williams, (2) def. Gisela Dulko, , 6-3, 7-5
Elena Dementieva, (4) def. Iveta Benesova, , 6-4, 6-1

Venus Williams, (6) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro, , 6-2, 3-6, 5-7
Svetlana Kuznetsova, (8) def. Tatjana Malek, , 6-2, 6-2
Flavia Pennetta, (12) def. Jessica Moore, , 6-4, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka, (13) def. Tathiana Garbin, , 4-1 retired
Virginie Razzano, def. Patty Schnyder, (14), 6-3, 6-1

Dominika Cibulkova, (18) def. Yung-Jan Chan, , 6-0, 6-2
Amelie Mauresmo, (20) def. Elena Baltacha, , 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Anabel Medina Garrigues, (21) def. Julie Coin, , 6-1, 6-4
Jie Zheng, (22) def. Melinda Czink, , 7-6, 5-7, 6-3
Alona Bondarenko, (31) def. Severine Bremond, , 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 6-2

Kateryna Bondarenko, def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino, , 7-5, 7-5
Shuai Peng, def. Sesil Karatancheva, , 6-4, 6-0
Sabine Lisicki, vs. Samantha Stosur, , 3-6, 4-6
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, def. Akgul Amanmuradova, , 6-2, 6-4

First Round

Rafael Nadal, (1) def. Christophe Rochus, , 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
Andy Murray, (4) def. Andrei Pavel, , 6-2, 3-1 retired
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (5) def. Juan Monaco, , 6-4, 6-4, 6-0
Gilles Simon, (6) def. Pablo Andujar, , 6-4, 6-1, 6-1

James Blake, (9) def. Frank Dancevic, , 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
Gael Monfils, (12) def. Martin Vassalo Arguello, , 6-1, 6-3, 7-5
Fernando Gonzalez, (13) def. Lleyton Hewitt, , 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Fernando Verdasco, (14) def. Adrian Mannarino, , 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
Nicolas Almagro, (17) def. Nicolas Massu, , 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3

Peter Polansky, vs. Igor Andreev, (18), 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 4-6
Radek Stepanek, (22) def. Nicolas Lapentti, , 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Richard Gasquet, (24) def. Diego Junqueira, , 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4
Ivo Karlovic, (25) def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver, , 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Dmitry Tursunov, (29) vs. Flavio Cipolla, , 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (7-9), 5-7

Dudi Sela, def. Rainer Schuettler, (30), 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
Jurgen Melzer, (31) def. Kei Nishikori, , 7-5, 6-2, 6-1
Chris Guccione, def. Nicolas Devilder, , 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Michael Berrer, def. Carsten Ball, , 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Andreas Beck, def. Colin Ebelthite, , 7-5, 6-1, 6-0

Sergiy Stakhovsky, vs. Arnaud Clement, , 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 1-6
Marcel Granollers-Pujol, def. Teimuraz Gabashvili, , 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-0
Steve Darcis, vs. Sebastien De Chaunac, , 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 2-6, 2-6
Stefan Koubek, def. Mikhail Youzhny, , 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Victor Hanescu, def. Jan Hernych, , 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4), 8-6

Ivan Ljubicic, def. Igor Kunitsyn, , 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (9-7), 5-7, 6-3
Ernests Gulbis, def. Albert Montanes, , 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Mario Ancic, def. Wayne Odesnik, , 7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Fabio Fognini, def. Andrey Golubev, , 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-2
Denis Istomin, def. Vincent Spadea, , 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

Florent Serra, vs. Roko Karanusic, , 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6
Guillermo Canas, def. Dieter Kindlmann, , 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-0, 7-5
Eduardo Schwank, vs. Tommy Haas, , 3-6, 3-6, 4-6

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Serena Williams, (2) def. Meng Yuan, , 6-3, 6-2
Elena Dementieva, (4) def. Kristina Barrois, , 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-1
Venus Williams, (6) def. Angelique Kerber, , 6-3, 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova, (8) def. Anastasia Rodionova, , 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Kateryna Bondarenko, def. Agnieszka Radwanska, (9), 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-1
Flavia Pennetta, (12) def. Mara Santangelo, , 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka, (13) def. Petra Kvitova, , 6-2, 6-1
Patty Schnyder, (14) def. Kristina Mladenovic, , 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Dominika Cibulkova, (18) def. Chanelle Scheepers, , 6-0, 6-0

Amelie Mauresmo, (20) def. Olga Govortsova, , 6-4, 6-3
Anabel Medina Garrigues, (21) def. Isabella Holland, , 6-1, 7-5
Jie Zheng, (22) def. Camille Pin, , 6-3, 6-3
Shuai Peng, def. Francesca Schiavone, (28), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1
Aleksandra Wozniak, (30) vs. Sabine Lisicki, , 4-6, 3-6

Alona Bondarenko, (31) def. Olivia Rogowska, , 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, def. Tamarine Tanasugarn, (32), 7-5, 6-3
Iveta Benesova, def. Vera Dushevina, , 6-4, 0-6, 6-2
Virginie Razzano, def. Jarmila Gajdosova, , 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4
Tathiana Garbin, def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, , 6-4, 2-6, 7-5

Melinda Czink, def. Sorana Cirstea, , 6-2, 6-2
Sesil Karatancheva, def. Nuria Llagostera Vives, , 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
Severine Bremond, def. Nicole Vaidisova, , 6-2, 6-1
Samantha Stosur, def. Klara Zakopalova, , 7-6 (7-5), 7-6
Elena Baltacha, def. Anna-Lena Groenefeld, , 6-1, 6-4

Elena Vesnina, vs. Julie Coin, , 4-6, 6-4, 1-6
Jessica Moore, def. Christina Mchale, , 1-6, 6-3, 9-7
Tatjana Malek, def. Ayumi Morita, , 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
Yung-Jan Chan, def. Su-Wei Hsieh, , 6-3, 6-3
Carla Suarez Navarro, def. Roberta Vinci, , 7-5, 6-4

Melanie Oudin, vs. Akgul Amanmuradova, , 1-6, 4-6
Gisela Dulko, def. Anastasiya Yakimova, , 6-3, 5-7, 6-3
Lourdes Dominguez Lino, def. Ekaterina Bychkova, , 6-3, 6-0

Fierce. Stompin'. Diva.


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After she won the point of the match to serve for the match.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Semifinals Open Thread

Talk about the women's and men's semifinals here. I intend to be especially loquacious.

Overheard On ESPN

Bud Collins (in the studio): Andy [Roddick] has had more coaches than Elizabeth Taylor has had husbands.

Chris Fowler (in the studio, different segment)
: The service yips are like herpes, you never get rid of them.

Face Of The Day


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Gilles Simon of France reacts during his men's singles match against Rafael Nadal of Spain at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2009.

Quote For The Day

"Like the upcoming Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona—huh?—Cardinals, there’s been a slight flukiness to this year’s Aussie Open. On the men’s side, we still have Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but this was supposed to be the year of Andy Murray and the dominance of the Big Four. Did anyone believe Fernando Verdasco, who has never done anything of note at a major, or Andy Roddick, who was notable at the start of the event mainly for going so unnoticed, would still be hanging around in the semifinals? As for the women, Williams, Safina, and Dementieva aren’t surprises, but Vera Zvonareva’s presence throws it all out of whack somehow. The Russian women just seemed so 2004." --Steve Tignor

Men's Semifinal Preview

By Mad Professah

The 2009 Australian Open Men's semifinals are now set. Mad Professah has been too busy with other things to be posting my regular predictions in the last week or so. This Men's semifinal preview (like the Women's Semifinal Preview posted earlier) are my best predictions with the caveat that I have not watched as much tennis this year as usual. Here goes...

Andy Roddick USA (7) vs. Roger Federer SUI (2). Federer has played the American with gigantic serve 17 times and has only lost twice to the recently married engaged Andy Roddick, although one of those wins was the last match these two relatively friendly competitors played. Roddick has to be on something of a high after outlasting the defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal round, garnering revenge against the person who knocked him out in quarterfinal of the US Open last year. Federer has not been kind to Roddick in the past, calling him "a great server" (in comparison to world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, whom he called "a great player"). Roddick has been working with a new coach (Larry Stefanki who previously coached Fernando Gonzalez) and over the last two years or so (*cough* Jimmy Connors *cough*) has markedly improved his backhand and (much more recently) his movement.



Federer is "The Mighty Fed," and although he faced a near-death 5-set experience against the perennially dangerous Tomas Berdych in the 4th round he followed it up by delivering a vicious beatdown to world No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro and there's nothing to indicate his desire to win majors has diminished since his ranking has slipped from the lofty No. 1 spot to the current No. 2. He is in his 19th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal and the only final the Swiss player has missed since the 2005 French Open was last year's 2008 Australian Open final (after losing to eventual champion Djokovic)!

Roddick will not be able to prevent the 13-time Grand Slam champion from competing for his record-tying 14th major title.

PREDICTION: Federer in 4 sets.

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) vs. Fernando Verdasco ESP (14). Somehow in the middle of the Australian Open 2009 was a Davis Cup match between Spain and France, and as Craig pointed out, Spain was the victor 2-0. Yesterday, I had expected that "Willie Ali" would be able to force a repeat of last year's breakthrough semifinal showdown with Nadal again but "Hot Sauce" was poured all over that prediction. Melbourne is undergoing an excruciating heat wave which has claimed the defending champion as one of its victims. But Fernando Verdasco is even hotter. And I'm not just talking about his blistering 130 mph serves and insane forehand. He's a 6'2", 180 pound, Spanish lefty in top physical shape who wants this so badly he spent Christmas day training for four hours ten thousand miles from home in Nevada. Tsonga is extremely talented, but he seems to share the particularly French affliction of not putting in the tough conditioning work so that he can hang for 5 sets with anyone. Verdasco took out the 2008 Australian Open finalist with relative ease one round after taking out the 2008 U.S. open finalist Andy Murray for his first win ever over the canny Scotsman, to become the No. 2 player in the Spanish Armada.

Unfortunately for Verdasco he is playing the No. 1 player from Spain and the world No. 1. Nadal circa 2009 is not the same player as Nadal 2008. What is scary to recognize is that 5-time Grand Slam champion Nadal is a mere 22 years old at the top of the Men's game and he is still improving. His serve is becoming more efficient and his forehand is becoming more varied. Not only does he have the ability to impart ridonculous spin on the ball (from any part of the court) but he has developed a blistering flat forehand as well, while although not the hardest and fastest in the game, is definitely in the conversation. His backhand is no longer a weakness in his game, it is now an effective weapon and he has the edge in mental toughness over everyone he plays. Everything Verdasco can do, Nadal can do better. However, Nadal has only played the Australian Open four times and knows he can lose down here, since he has done so four times. Verdasco has the belief, forged in the burning plains of the Nevada desert in December, that he can win. But he won't.

PREDICTION: Nadal in 5 sets.

Women's Semifinal Preview

By Mad Professah

The 2009 Australian Open Women's semifinals are now set. Unfortunately, Mad Professah has been busy with other things so I have not been able to produce my typical predictions during the last three rounds of the major slams. I have been watching the tournament (mostly the men) but have seen all of Serena's matches.

Vera Zvonareva RUS (7) vs. Dinara Safina RUS (3). "Marat's little sister" no more, Dinara Safina is well on her way to becoming a fixture in the very top tier of women's tennis. Her career changing moment occured last Spring in Berlin when she beat 7-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin in her very last tour match (to date!) Safina also defeated fellow 2009 Australian Open semifinalists Serena and Elena Dementieva on her way to winning that title and followed up that amazing performance by remaining the hottest player on the Tour for most of the rest of the year, although she failed to win any of the major tournaments, she did reach her first Grand Slam final in Paris, losing to Ana Ivanovic.

She will be facing fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva who is notorious for her hot and cold streaks on the court. Miss Vera has been serving up bagels at this year's Australian Open, delivering no less than five in the first five rounds of the tournament, including a double bagel against the hapless Edina Gallovits in the third round and a bagel in her quarterfinal drubbing of 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, who unceremonialy bounced World #1 Jelena Jankovic from the tournament. The matches between Russians are often not very pretty.

Safina has a 5-4 career head-to-head against her lower ranked countrywoman, but the last three times they played (including during Safina's hot phase in 2008) Zvonareva came away the victor. It's doubtful that this will happen in 2009, but it won't be pretty.

PREDICTION: Safina in 3 sets.

Elena Dementieva RUS (4) vs. Serena Williams USA (2). The winner of this semifinal will be the 2009 Australian Open Women's champion. This is truly an example of what happens when an immovable object matches up against an irresistible force. Dementieva has won every one of the first 16 matches she has played in 2009, picking up two WTA Tour titles along the way (Auckland and Sydney), her 12th and 13th of her career. The Russian who has long had the reputation of having the Tour's best groundstrokes and most embarassing serve has previously been to two major finals and last year won the Olympic Gold medal in Beijing (over Safina). However, Dementieva is facing a living legend, the woman who holds the most Grand Slam titles of any active player (9!) and who not only won the last Grand Slam played in 2008, but has won this major tournament with metronomic regularity every other year since 2003.

Interestingly, Dementieva has beaten Serena the last three times they played (on Elena's hometown court in the Moscow final in October 2007, in the Quarterfinals of the Olympics last year and last week in Sydney--that last one in straight sets!) although Serena won the first four times they two met on the court.

Well, that is history, this is now. Who will win?

I would love to see Elena Dementieva win a major title but, sadly, it will not be the 2009 Australian Open. I do think she will reach a major final in 2009, though.

PREDICTION: Williams in 2 sets.

Spain 2, France 0



Rafael Nadal beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 to earn the right to play his compatriot in the final four.

Two Spaniards in the semis of a hardcourt Slam.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Face Of The Day III


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A French fan attends the match between Hot Sauce and Ali during their men's singles tennis match, on day 10 of the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 28, 2009.

Hot Sauce


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That's what his fans call him. You know. His last name sounds like Tobasco. Whatever you call him, who woulda thought he would be the first lefty from Spain into the semifinals of this Australian Open? With Fernando Verdasco's 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 thumping of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, that's exactly who he is. His best showing at a Slam.

His hot streak continues.

The Roof


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If I had five bucks for each time an ESPN commentator said "the roof" today, I'd be able to bail out Wall Street.

Face Of The Day II


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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France looks at the ball during his men's singles match against Fernando Verdasco of Spain at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2009.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Serena Got Her Groove Back



They closed the roof. So her return improved, her footwork improved, her serve improved. Yes, Sveta choked, but that was to be expected. I wasn't convinced Serena wouldn't do the same.

It was the best two winning sets of tennis she has played all week.

She'll need to be even better to beat the tour's hottest player in the semifinals.

The roof will be closed.

Gold, Silver, Bronze

With Elena Dementieva's 6-2, 6-2 shellacking of Carla Suarez Navarro, the Olympic medalists have all advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open.

If Serena Williams doesn't get it together against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who's about to serve for the first set a second time, there will be Russians only in the final four.

In which case I won't be watching. When Russians play each other, their matches are unbearable.

Face Of The Day


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Spectators walks past a fan to cool down during day ten of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

It Happened Before


(Thanks, Savannah)

Quote For The Day II

"I would disagree with it for ‑‑ if it's for ‑‑ let me preface this so no one twists it. Everything Novak did today was well within his rights and the rules. It's simply about my opinion of a rule.

"I don't think you should be able to ‑‑ if you want to get something on a switchover for cramping, I think that would be okay. Actually, one of the trainers came and talked to me afterwards, and he said his idea, but you have to get it put through a council, is if you're going to take that for cramping, an extended break, make it a rule that you have to do it before your own serve. I thought that was a pretty well‑thought‑out idea.

"But as for physical condition, it's very easy to say, you know, it's one injury, but you can get rubbed for a cramp ‑‑ I looked over and I was confused, because I thought it was one injury per timeout, and I saw a calf, a neck, and an arm. But I guess cramping is one condition.

"There's obviously some wiggle room, a little bit of gray area there. Hopefully we'll be able to do something about it. I think the one that you have to take it before your own serve, and if you don't want to do that then you concede the game until it is your serve, I think that's a good idea."

--Andy Roddick

Face(s) Of The Day II


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Supporters cheer for Roger Federer of Switzerland during his men's singles match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2009.

Quote For The Day

"Yeah, I mean, definitely made the right choice [in coming back to tennis]. I have really fought well this week. I have no regrets. I just would like to keep it going. I really would like to keep it going. I really think I have a chance at it.

"Like I said, I played well with a girl who's No. 3 in the world today. I can still really take positives out of today, even though some of the points and the shots that I played at some stages of the match were maybe not right.

"Yeah, I mean, I just have to just keep on working hard basically."

--Jelena Dokic

Humiliated



I took a cat nap on the Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro quarterfinal. It was over when I woke up. 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. This was a men's Slam quarterfinal? I told y'all the Argentine had nothing to hurt Raja with. Nothing at all.

Overheard on ESPN

Pam Shriver: Sitting in the photographer's pit and I can tell you after a long day in the hot sun, it's more like an armpit down here.

Face Of The Day


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Novak Djokovic of Serbia wears an ice vest between games in his quarterfinal match against Andy Roddick of the United States of America during day nine of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

If You Can't Stand The Heat



Then get the eff out the kitchen.

Andy TKO'd Djoke
6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 ret.

Huge victory.

Huge.

First win in a Slam
over a top 3
since winner's circle
US Open 2003.

And he moved like it.
Served like it.
Fought like it.
Acted like it.

Djoke has now retired
in 4 Slams.
Four.
We all knew
this one
was coming.

I've compared
Djoke to Andy.
I wrote about
the hype
way back when.

Andy lost in the quarterfinals
trying to defend
his first Slam title.
He just stopped Djoke
in the same round.

Poetry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quarterfinal Predictions

I'd like to say I have some, but I don't.

I suspect the two quarterfinals featuring the top seeds on the men's side will be blowouts. The other two could go either way.

For the women, I'd love nothing more than to see the young Spaniard with the vicious backhand take on the Fierce Stompin' Diva, and the Comeback Kid I'm falling in love with face the Maid.

When was the last time Melbourne had a surprise woman finalist?

Who you got?

Quote For The Day

"I think that that Davis Cup final made me much stronger mentally. And this pre‑season, I was working really hard. So today, I was really believing in myself that I can win the match anyway, that I'm going to five sets. That's so important, no, believe in yourself." --Fernando Verdasco

Face Of The Day


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A fan enjoys the atmosphere on Australia Day during day eight of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

The Favorite?



Fernando Verdasco decided that Andy Murray was not. Overcoming a slow start, he finished off a 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 upset and one of the Big Four is sent packing in the fourth round.

I hate the labeling of the Big Four.

And Murray seems to have succumbed to all the (believed his own?) hype. Whatever the case, this loss is going to linger for a while.

Verdasco was calm and cool and focused. His first Slam quarterfinal. Must be nice working with spiritual guru Gil Reyes and wunder coach Darren Cahill.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are somewhere cracking up.

Rafael Nadal is quietly, efficiently, kicking ass.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm Falling In Love









With the comeback kid. What a match. What atmosphere. How did Jelena Dokic even finish her 7-5, 5-7, 8-6 victory after rolling her ankle?

That was among the gutsiest matches on the WTA I've ever seen.

Huge kudos to Alisa Kleybanova.

Gobsmacked.