Sunday, January 29, 2012

Novak Djokovic, Iron Man

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2012.
Reuters

Years ago, before he won a Slam but was beating Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and Masters events, a tennis forum acquaintance swore that Novak Djokovic might be the most mentally tough tennis player in the game.

Years ago, I swore that the Serbian's tennis was nothing special, that he was being (over)hyped to the hilt and that if he was to have any chance of achieving greatness, the commentators were going to have to dial back their accolades and let the man prove himself, lest he crack under the pressure of the hype and end up as a blip on the screen of tennis history.

Today, my internet acquaintance seems to be right.

Today, the entire Djokovic revealed himself as a man of indomitable will with a return of serve and defensive genius that rival the best in history.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) celebrates after victory in his men's singles final match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on the twelfth day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne early January 30, 2012. Djokovic won 5-7. 6-4. 6-2. 6-7. 7-5.  IMAGE STRICTLY.
Getty

Nadal, despite not being able to solve the riddle of his nemesis in seven straight finals, is still no easy out. It took Djokovic nearly six hours to overcome Nadal's own defensive genius and will to win. But at the end of the match, it was Nadal who cracked, once again, and couldn't pull himself back together. Leading 4-2, 30-15 in the deciding set, the Spaniard steered a backhand sitter wide of the sideline. The entire court was open. All he had to do was get it in, but he missed. At that point, Djokovic's legs loosened up again and Nadal's shoulders drooped.

The rest is history.

Djokovic joins Nadal, Federer, Pete Sampras, and Rod Laver as the only players in the Open Era to win three Slams in a row. For his part, Nadal, who contested his fourth Slam in a row, becomes the fifth player to reach every major final more than once.

They left blood all over the place today. And the sport itself was the biggest winner.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Men's Final Preview

Rafael Nadal ESP (2) vs Novak Djokovic SRB (1)
by Mad Professah, contributing writer

Here is my prediction for the 2012 Australian Open Men's Singles Championship Match. My (incorrect) prediction for the Women's Singles Championship Match is also available.

This year I previously correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly. I also correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's semifinals and 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals.

Men's Semifinals Review
R. Nadal ESP d. R. Federer SUI, 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(5) 6-4. Federer-Nadal XXVII was highly anticipated by fans of both players, since it was only the second time the two great players had met in the semifinal of a major (Roland Garros 2005) as well as only the second time the two had met at Australia's major tournament (2009 Men's Final). In both previous meetings, Nadal had come away the victor, and as it turned out that would be the case in this match as well.

Fans of Federer had reasons to be confident going into the match, since the Swiss player was on a winning streak stemming from the end of the 2011 season and had demolished Nadal the last time the two had met. However, during this match it became clear pretty quickly that Federer was not going to be producing the scintillating tennis he displayed in the semis against Juan Martin del Potro when he started mishitting balls on both wings despite pulling out the first set in a tiebreak after blowing a 4-1 lead. Although the person who won the first set had won 20 of 26 matches in their storied rivalry this time Nadal was able to turn that stat around. (The person winning the 3rd set of their matches when the first two sets are split has always won the match.)

It will be interesting to see how Federer reacts to losing this match. Surely he knows that as he gets older there will be more results like this and the high points like winning the year-end championships (for a record 6th time!) will be fewer and far between, but more meaningful precisely for that reason.

N. Djokovic SRB d. A. Murray GBR, 6-3 3-6 6-7(4) 6-1 7-5. The end result of the match was not surprising but the quality of the match most definitely was. This was a rematch of the 2011 Australian Open final where Murray was completely outmatched by his contemporary. This time it was a deadly war of attrition. After splitting the first two sets by identical scores (with very different story lines: in the second set Murray was able to win the set despite being down 0-2) the third set was absolutely jaw dropping. It took a half an hour to play the first three games of the set, and after saving set points against him at 4-5, Murray served for the set at 6-5 but was promptly broken to lead to a tiebreak, which the newly combative Scot won 7-4, picking up the set after a truly astonishing 88 minutes of brilliant tennis from both men. In the fourth set Djokovic responded to losing the middle set by pummeling the ball and moving like a man possessed to easily claim the 4th set 6-1 in 25 minutes. In the 5th set, Djokovic was able to break in the 5th game and eventually led 5-2 on Murray's serve but when serving for the match at 5-3 Murray was able to break back and even the match at 5-all in the 5th. Just getting to that point in a major contest with Djokovic, who had embarrassed Murray in last year's final on this same court, is a major accomplishment for the Scot, and should bode well for his campaign to win a major in the near future. After 5-all Djokovic was able to hold to go up 6-5 and a somewhat lose service game by Murray led to him facing two breakpoints at 15-40 which were also match points. Djokovic was able to convert on his first chance and now is in his 4th major final in the last 5 grand slam tournaments. This was clearly one of the best matches of the tournament (and most likely of the year) and could overshadow the championship match to follow.

Men's Final Preview
For the third consecutive major (and 7th consecutive time) the two top ranked players in the world are facing each other in the final of a major. Djokovic has won their two previous major finals (Wimbledon 2011 and US Open 2011) as well as in 4 other Masters Series finals in 2011. However, even with six consecutive wins over Nadal, the 10-time major champion from Spain still leads the 4-time major champion from Serbia in their career head-to-head 16-13. It should be noted that prior to 2011, Djokovic had lost all 5 singles finals the two had contested. However, even before the 2011 year Djokovic had led Nadal 7-5 in hard court matches and now leads 10-5 on that surface. Astonishingly, the two have played each other even more times than the Federer and Nadal. Really, we should be referring to the upcoming major final as Nadal-Djokovic XXIX. And since both are in their early 20s, we have many more matches to look forward to between these two great champions.

Can any player really beat Rafael Nadal SEVEN times in a row? If someone had told me that Novak Djokovic would beat Nadal even three times in a row (especially twice in clay court finals) I would have said they were drunk. However, if there is anyone who can do it to Nadal it is Djokovic, who does to Nadal what Nadal does to Federer. Simply said, the match up is bad for the player on the losing end of the comparison. Nadal's strengths do not hurt Djokovic as much as they do Federer and the Serb is the only player who can not only match the Spaniard's supernatural defensive abilities but is probably the only player on tour who actually possesses a mental edge over Nadal. Major finals generally come down to the mental contest, and with the results of 2011 fresh in everyone's mind (especially Nadal's!), this is a distinct advantage to Djokovic.

What can Nadal do better than what he has done in the previous 6 finals he has lost to Djokovic? One thing would be to serve bigger, but he seems loathe to try that, and Djokovic is a better returner than Nadal anyway. Nadal does have a better chance in this final than either of the two major finals they played last year because Djokovic may not be at 100% due to the potentially pyrrhic victory he won over Murray in 4 hours, 53 minutes two days ago. However, Djokovic was not at his best physically (and not playing his best tennis) in the first two sets of the last hard-court major final the two played and still managed to gain a 2-0 set advantage and eventually win. Nadal is actually only 1-2 behind Djokovic ihead-to-head in major finals. If he wins tonight he can atleast even that statistic, and he can take comfort from the fact he has beaten Djokovic in a major final before, on a fast hard court no less. Nadal can look to the 2010 US Open final he won in 4-sets over Djokovic for inspiration but unfortunately for the Spaniard he will be playing a player who is playing better than that opponent tonight (probably).

MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic.

Victoria Azarenka Wins Melbourne

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus poses with the trophy following her victory over Maria Sharapova of Russia in their women's singles final on day 13 at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2012. Azarenka won the championship 6-3, 6-0. IMAGE STRICTLY.
Getty

The world has come to an end. Victoria Azarenka has won the Australian Open 6-3, 6-0 over Maria Sharapova and risen to No. 1 in the rankings. I said she could never do it, and then she went and made a liar out of me.

I give her props for getting out of her own way and allowing her talent to rule the day. Easier said than done, to be sure, but she did it.

The match was a yawner. After dropping the first two games of the match behind nerves, she only lost one more game, leaving an erratic Sharapova looking like it was her first Slam final instead of the other way around.

Azarenka did say before the match that Petra Kvitova had shown the way and she was determined to emulate the performance of the Czech in her first Slam final against the three-time Slam champion.

Former tennis player Martina Hingis (L) applauds runner up Maria Sharapova of Russia (R) at the awards ceremony following her loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in their women's singles final on day 13 at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2012. Azarenka won the championship 6-3, 6-0. IMAGE STRICTLY.
Getty

Sharapova, who had moved much better around the court throughout the event, played the final with glue stuck on the bottom of her feet. In the semifinals, Kvitova, who hits harder and flatter than Azarenka, could barely get the ball by the Russian. But in the final, Sharapova was never in position to get a good strike on her shots, most of which landed short or in the middle of the court, allowing Azarenka to control the match.

The last five Slams have been won by 5 different women, the last four Slams by 4 new major champions. According to those who know better, this is the first time in history the holder of each Slam title is a first-time winner.

On Monday, Azarenka will sit atop the rankings, becoming the first player in history to leapfrog the second spot to get there, Kvitova will remain at No. 2, Sharapova will move up a spot to No. 3, and after 67 weeks, Caroline Wozniacki will fall to No. 4. Perhaps our very own *b* was right. Wozniacki's run at the top sans Slam title served as a correction to the truckload of points Justine Henin's first retirement voided from the current system.

So, now that Azarenka has broken through and the WTA has a legitimate world No. 1, when is it going to get a compelling rivalry?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Women's Final Preview


Maria Sharapova RUS (4) vs. Victoria Azarenka BLR (3). 

by Mad Professah, contributing writer


Here is my prediction for the 2012 Australian Open women's final and reviews of the semifinals. I previously correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 2 of 2 women's semifinals this year.

On the men's side I correctly predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals and 1 of 2 men's semifinals this year.



How Did They Get Here?
M. Sharapova RUS d. P. Kvitova CZE 6-2 3-6 6-4This was a repeat of the 2011 Wimbledon final where Kvitova won her first major title over Sharapova, in the venue where Sharapova had won her first over Serena Williams in 2004. Sharapova knew that she had been outhit and outserved in that match so in Australia rematch she was prepared and determined to not let that happen. Despite serving no aces and 10 double faults, the Russian was able to stay aggressive in her service games and ended up winning a fair number that she really should have lost. Kvitova still has streaks where she is very very good and hits winners from (and to) every corner of the court but also streaks where she riddles the court with errors (reminiscent of a Serena Williams circa 2000). What eventually decided the match was not hitting the ball between the lines but what was between the ears. Sharapova was just mentally tougher; at 4-all in the 3rd set she gutted out another difficult service hold and when Kvitova's turn to hold her serve to stay in the match she dissolved into a puddle of unforced errors and lost.

V. Azarenka BLR d.  K. Clijsters BEL, 6-4 1-6 6-3. Despite the score, this was actually quite a tight match, with the result in doubt until the last two games or so. After losing the first set, Clijsters raced out to a huge 5-0 lead in the second set, breaking Azarenka twice in succession and holding her own service games relatively easily. Faced with the indignity of losing a bagel set, Azarenka calmed down and started making first serves eventually winning a service game, and forcing Clijstersto serve out the set. More importantly, this allowed Azarenka to serve first in the deciding set and again she held serve and was able to break Clijsters first. However, what followed then was a series of breaks and nervy player from both sides of the net until finally at 5-3 Azarenka was able to hold her service game thanks to consecutive errors from Clijsters, and the match ended with Azarenka watching an errant backhand  from the Australian Open defending champion sailing out of the court with relief and joy.

Who Will Win?
This final will surely be the loudest women's final ever played, with both players known for the sounds they make during play (also known as "grunts" or "shrieks"). Azarenka's is a pretty uniform low pitched, two-tone wail which she makes almost every time she hits the ball while Sharapova's can vary from a loud grunt to a truly earsplitting shriek as the point gets longer or more important. Anyway, the two have played 6 times before and have split their matches 3-all, 2-all on hard courts. Interestingly, Azarenka leads 2-0 in finals (both on outdoor hard courts); she beat Sharapova last year in Miami and the year before in Stanford in straight sets. The two have never met in a major final despite being on tour for a half-dozen years simultaneously.

Their games are somewhat similar: they both play what is known as "Big babe" tennis. They want to win the point as early as possible, with the first strike of the ball, and have the power to hit winners from any point in the court. Azarenka is better at the net, while Sharapova has a better se rve (in theory) but will be hard-pressed in a major final to serve well. Azarenka is the better mover on the court, but hard court is the surface on which Sharapova moves the best and she has extremely powerful defensive skills.

As usual in the women's game, the final result will almost certainly be won by the more mentally tough player. The fact that it has taken Azarenka 25 majors to reach her first major final despite being a legitimate Top 5 player for the last 2-3 years shows a degree of mental weakness that is not exhibited by her opponent. Sharapova is in her 5th major final, only losing the 2007 Australian Open and 2011 Wimbledon final to players who completely blew her off the court (Serena and Kvitova, respectively). In a hard-fought battle I would go with the more mentally tough, experienced player, which in this case is Sharapova. Azarenka has under performed in majors so far in her career (two semifinals and 1 final) while her opponent has been in 13 semifinal and 5 finals. It takes a rare player (who is not going to be a one-slam wonder, e.g. Schiavone, Majoli) to win their first major final (Sharapova, Serena, Kvitova) and I don't think Azarenka is either a one-slam wonder or a player mentally tough enough to win their first major slam final. Sharapova, of course, already holds three major titles (Wimbledon 2004, U.S. Open 2006Australian Open 2008). Numerology would say that an even year like 2012 bodes well for her chances tonight.

The winner of this match will also claim the World #1 ranking, dethroning Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova has been #1 before, for 17 weeks,and I fully expect Azarenka will get there eventually (perhaps even this year). The Belarussian is on a winning streak, having not yet lost in 2012 (she won the Sydney warm-up tournament in a tough 3-setter over Li Na). There's a chance her streak will continue, but I think it is more likely that it will end in Melbourne tonight.

MadProfessah's pick: Sharapova.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Men's Semifinals Preview

by Mad Professah, contributing writer


Here are my predictions for the Men's Semifinals at the 2012 Australian Open. My predictions for the Women's Semifinals are also available.

This year I previously predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly.


Novak Djokovic SRB (1) vs  Andy Murray GBR (4)The World #1 and defending Australian Open champion re-asserted his dominance over the rest of the field by dismissing World #5 David Ferrer in ruthless  fashion in straight sets 6-4 7-6(4) 6-1.
© Ben Solomon/Tennis Australia
The Serbian has won half of his major titles at this venue and is looking in similar top form this year. Also looking good is the Scot Andy Murray who has made it to the Australian Open final for the last two consecutive years. Against 1st time quarterfinalist Kei Nishikori Muray deployed his vast reserves of guile, power and speed to gently demolish the Japanese youngster in straight sets 6-3 6-3 6-1. Murray has been in the Top 4 in the world since 2008 but only in the last year or so has he solidified his status there, reaching the five major semifinals in a row. It is time for him to take the next step, and beating Djokovic in a major final would be that step. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to happen in Melbourne, but I do believe that Murray will come close, winning at least one set and possibly two. Head to head Murray has a decent 4 wins 6 losses record against Djokovic and ever since his disastrous performance in last year's final has taken his clashes with his contemporary rival extremely seriously. (The two were born one week apart, in 1987.) Murray was on his way to beating Djokovic last summer in the Cincinnati Masters final when the Serbian retired from the match and the two played one of the best matches of the year at the Rome semifinals. On hard courts the head-to-head narrows to 4-all, with all of Murray's victory over Djokovic coming on this surface. Much has been said and implied about Murray's decision to hire Ivan Lendl as a coach, and I do think it is the mental aspect of the game in which Murray needs to demonstrate improvement when playing against the only three people in the world more higher ranked than he is. That being said, after the year Djokovic has just had he is not particularly lacking in the confidence department, as will be made clear by the end of the match. Mad Professah's pick: Djokovic.


Roger Federer SUI (3) vs Rafael Nadal ESP (2)This is the 27th meeting between the two future Hall of Famers who have a staggering 26 major titles between the two of them, with 10-time major winner Nadal famously leading their legendary rivalry 17-9, although 16-time major champion Federer leads 5-4 on hard courts. Oddly, the two have met only once at the Australian Open where Nadal won their 2009 final by racing through the final 2 sets of their 5-set match. That result so devastated Federer that he was reduced to tears during the trophy ceremony and had to be comforted by his opponent, allowing the Swiss great to literally cry on his shoulder.
© Getty Images
Another oddity is that this is only the second time the two have met in the semifinal of a major (the other time was at Roland Garros in 2005 and it was won by Nadal on his way to his first major title of his career). Although the physical match-up between their two styles of play puts Federer at a distinct disadvantage, the primary problem the Swiss player has had in this storied rivalry is the mental dimension. However, since the last time they met the result was a 6-3 6-0 demolition of Nadal that should put the mental edge between these two players at the lowest level it has been in years. Federer just played his 1000th career match (814 wins-186 losses) in dismissing an in-form Juan Martin del Potro in scintillating fashion, 6-4 6-3 6-2. Nadal, on the other hand, played well over 4 hours of grinding tennis to defeat a player 6-7(5) 7-6(6) 6-4 6-3 who has only ever beaten him three times in thirteen meetings. I believe all of these factors will combine to give Federer the edge to reach his 23rd (!) major final. Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 3 or 4 sets or Nadal in 5 sets.

Australian Open 2012: Women's Semifinals Preview

by Mad Professah, contributing writer


Here are my predictions for the Women's Semifinals at the 2012 Australian Open.

This year I previously predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals correctly and predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals correctly.

Victoria Azarenka BLR (3) vs. Kim Clijsters BEL (11). The most surprising aspect of the women's quarterfinals results were when 4-time major champion from Belgium beat World #1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets many media outlets called it "an upset." Kim Clijsters has never lost a match to Wozniacki (only played three times) and anyone who appreciates "Big Babe" tennis knows why. Wozniacki can simply be overpowered by big hitting, she is too complacent to be a "Golden Retriever" of the ball. She has a horrendous record against such "Big Babes" as Li Na, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. Clisjsters led 6-3, 5-2 when things started to get complicated with Wozniacki putting up stiffer resistance with Clijster responded by getting tight. Wozniacki forced a tiebreaker which Clijsters was able to gut out 7-4. The tiebreak was dramatic but not as intensely exciting as the 2nd set tiebreak with Li Na where Clijster saved 4 consecutive match points on the way to her 4th round victory.

The other quarterfinal in this half of the draw was a similar match up between a Big Babe and a counter puncher, i.e. Azarenka versus Agnieska Radwanska. The two best friends played a very scrappy first set of tennis with eight service breaks among the first dozen games played. Azarenka played an an atrocious tiebreak, failing to win a single point. But then she showed her mental toughness by deploying "selective amnesia" and forgot about the recent unpleasantness of the entire first set and proceeded to win the middle set with a bagel. During the third set the weather became a factor and it was clear that (surprisingly) the Pole was more heavily impacted than the Belarussian. Azarenka ended up sprinting to the finish line, winning 6-7(0) 6-0 6-2. Head to head, Clijsters leads Azarenka 4-2 overall (4-1 on hard courts). Clijsters has a decisive advantage in experience, with this being her 16th major semifinal compared to Azarenka's second. Clijsters' semifinal record is 8-7 in semis (although it is 3-0 since she returned after her retirement hiatus). I truly believe that Azarenka will reach a major final very soon, but will she be able to dismiss the defending Australian Open champion on her own turf? I believe the answer is yes. The good news for Azarenka is that it is unlikely that Clijsters is at 100% due to a rolled ankle two rounds before and also that the match will be played at night. PREDICTION: Azarenka.

Maria Sharapova RUS (4) vs. Petra Kvitova CZE (2). The two took similar paths to reach here, with both only dropping one set each in the first five rounds. In the quarterfinal matches, Kvitova dismissed Sara Errani in two surprisingly tight sets 6-4 6-4 while Sharapova was never really threatened by Ekaterina "Serena-killer" Markarova in their 6-2 6-3 quarterfinal match. This semifinal is a repeat of the 2011 Wimbledon final, which was won relatively easy by Kvitova.
This was a surprising result to some but not to yours truly after closely observing Sharapova's serving woes during that tournament and comparing them to Kvitova's heavy groundstrokes combined with a powerful lefty serve. The good news for Sharapova this time is that she is serving much better in Melbourne than she did last summer in London. Kvitova is averaging around 28 winners per match compared to Sharapova's average of 24. However, Sharapova's service percentage is averaging nearly 70% for the tournament, while Kvitova's is merely 60%. Through five rounds of grand slam play, Sharapova has an average of 4 doublefaults compared to 2 aces per match (an inauspicious ratio of 2:1) while Kvitova has a total of 12 doublefaults to 16 aces (with a much better ratio of 3:4). My druthers would be to see a repeat of the Wimbledon final result since I do believe that Kvitova will be the #1 player in the world very soon, and if Sharapova wins the semifinal the first post-Wozniacki #1 will be decided by whoever wins this tournament. Kvitova is still a very streaky player; when she's hot she's unbeatable, when she's cold she's very pedestrian. If she remains on a hot streak long enough she could again take Sharapova out very quickly in straight sets, but it is more likely that Sharapova will be able to put enough resistance to allow Kvitova to cool down and create enough tension to allow the more experienced and mentally tough player (and coincidentally happens to be the one currently playing the better tennis) to pull through. Regardless, it should be an excellent example of Big Babe tennis at its best: a close, hard-hitting, loud match. PREDICTION: Sharapova.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Australian Open 2012: Men's Quarterfinals Preview



by Mad Professah, contributing writer


Novak Djokovic SRB (1) vs David Ferrer ESP (5)The World #1 demonstrated that he is not perfect after all by dropping a set for the first time in the tournament against former World #1 and 2-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt in the previous round. That does not bode well for his quarterfinal match up with David "The Beast" Ferrer who basically is Hewitt 2.0 with more stamina and greater power on both wings. However the Spaniard will not have the huge audience support from the Melbourne crowd that nearly carried their countryman to victory. Ferrer actually has a decent career head-to-head record against Djokovic, winning 5 of 11 matches, which includes a win the last time they played at the Barclays ATP World Tour Championships at the end of Djokovic's "golden year" of 70 wins, 6 losses. On hard courts, Djokovic leads their head-to-head 5-2 and even though Ferrer was able to reach the semifinals against a hobbled Rafael Nadal last year, it is extremely unlikely that he will get as much assistance from his opponent this year. Mad Professah's Pick: Djokovic in 4 sets.

Andy Murray GBR (4) vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (6) Kei Nishikori JPN (24). The second most surprising upset of the tournament was Nishikori's win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round. Tsonga had seemed to be on the verge of breaking into the stranglehold the Top 4 players in the world have had on the zenith of men's tennis by reaching the last match of the 2011 season (the championship match of the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals) and winning one of the first ATP Tour titles of the 2012 season. Nishikori continues to make history, becoming the first Japanese male player to reach the quarterfinal of a grand slam final with his gutsy win over a surprisingly listless Tsonga. Nishikori has significant weapons (court coverage and speed, a sneakily powerful first serve and excellent backhand), which he used to great effect to hand Djokovic one of his rare losses in a full match in Basel last year. Unfortunately for Nishikori he is playing a well-rested Andy Murray who has reached the finals of this tournament for two consecutive years (l. Federer 2010l. Djokovic 2011) and looks in even better form this year than he has previously. Nishikori has the skills to go even deeper into a slam, but this tournament will not be where that happens. Mad Professah's pick: Murray in 3 sets.


Juan Martin del Potro ARG (11) vs Roger Federer SUI (3)The Swiss Maestro continues to make history, reaching his incredible 31st consecutive major quarterfinal of his career. del Potro is one of the only players besides Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer who has been able to win a major championship in the last 6 years (2009 US Open). The tall Argentine is one of the hardest hitting players of all time but has spent the last two years recovering from a wrist injury and slowly returning to world-beating form. The bad news for Federer is that del Potro is very close to that form so that this match should be very tough for the 30-year-old father of twin girls. However, Federer has won this tournament four times previously and likes to start the year with good results and so I am confident that he is ready for the challenge. Additionally, Federer has a substantial 7-2 career advantage over del Potro, but if it gets to a 5th set Federer doesn't really have an excellent record and I think Juan Martin would have the edge, but I think it is more likely than not the match will not be that close. Mad Professah's pick: Federer in 3 or 4 sets or del Potro in 5 sets.

Tomas Berdych CZE (7) vs Rafael Nadal ESP (2). This match is a rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon Men's final (which I attended in person) that was easily won by Nadal.  In fact, in 13 career meetings, Berdych has only beaten Nadal 3 times (all on hard courts) and lost ten times to the 10-time major champion from Spain. In fact, Berdych hasn't had a win over Nadal since 2006, losing 9 matches in a row. This is somewhat surprising because Berdych is an excellent hard-court player and Nadal's vicious topspin shouldn't trouble the 6'5" Czech player on the backhand side as much as it vexes most right-handed players (like Federer, for example). This is only Berdych's fifth major quarterfinal of his career while this is Nadal's tenth consecutive quarterfinal. The Spaniard will want to surpass his below-seeding performance from 2011 (losing in this round to Ferrer) and set up a mouth-watering semifinal between either Federer or del Potro. Mad Professah's pick: Nadal in 4 sets.

Australian Open 2012: Women's Quarterfinals Preview



by Mad Professah, contributing writer


Carolina Wozniacki DEN (1) vs. Kim Clijsters BEL (11). "Don't call it a Kimback, she's been here fr years!" Defending champion Clijsters survived 4 consecutive match points against 2011 Australian open finalist Li Na and somehow, miraculously was able to gut out the middle set and (mostly) ran away with the third set to complete one of the most amazing comebacks of recent years. Wozniacki has had a pretty uneventful run to the quarterfinals and dispatched the only other former No. 1 player to not win a major title (No. 11 seed Jelena Jankovic) surprisingly easily. However, against the Big Babes of tennis The Golden Retriever has been on the losing end of frequent beat downs during her "reign" at the top of the WTA rankings and I suspect this will just be another one. Losing to Clijsters in the quarterfinal (one round earlier than she was bounced from the tournament last year) will probably result in Wozniacki's demise as World No. 1, which would probably be relief for her and fans of women's tennis. PREDICTION: Clijsters in 2 sets.

Victoria Azarenka BLR (3) vs. Agnieska Radwanska POL (8). Azarenka has been cutting through the draw like a hot knife through butter, dropping a mere dozen games through four rounds of Grand Slam tournament play. (Only World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been more dominating, losing a gawdy 10 games through 4 rounds of best-of-5-set matches.) Radwanska is a wily player (some would call her a poor man's Martina Hingis) but Azarenka enjoys a healthy 6-3 career head-to-head advantage over the Pole, including a 5-2 lead in hard court matches. Surprisingly, Azarenka has only won one major quarterfinal in her career (despite playing in 5), while Radwanska hasn't won any of the four major quarterfinals she has appeared in. Azarenka will make it zero out of five as she reaches her second major quarterfinal, as she starts to finally live up to to her Top 4 seeding. PREDICTION: Azarenka in 2 sets.

Maria Sharapova RUS (4) vs. Serena Williams USA (12) Ekaterina Makarova RUS. One of the most surprising results of the last five years was Makarova's dismissal of 5-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams in straight sets the round before. Makarova is clearly confident and loves pace. Serena was not playing her best tennis (3 double faults in one game? Service percentage well below 50%. An average of 2 unforced errors per game?) but Makarova did well to remain calm on the court while her opponent self-destructed. She demonstrated that her thrilling 3-6 6-4 10-8 win over Ana Ivanovic last year was not a fluke. Sharapova is the recipient of the gaping hole Serena's early exit leaves in the draw, and will almost certainly take advantage of her opportunity to produce a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final with Kvitova in the bottom half semifinal. PREDICTION: Sharapova in 3 sets.

Zheng Jie CHN Sara Errani ITA vs. Petra Kvitova CZE (2). Future World No. 1 Kvitova has not been playing her best tennis but has been able to ride out her hot and cold streaks by coasting to wins after building up near insurmountable leads during the hot streaks and minimizing the damage caused by the cold streaks. Surprisingly, this is only Kvitova's 4th major quarterfinal appearance but will almost definitely lead to her 3rd major semifinal appearance. PREDICTION: Kvitova in 2 sets.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

UPDATED: Australian Open 2012 Fourth Round Open Thread

I'm busy catering a private dinner and can't even watch tennis.

Ugh.

Please tell us all what happened now that we're officially into the second week of the 2012 Australian Open.

Updates

Roger Federer decided to rule his runway and let the 19-year-old Aussie hope (who, incidentally, calls Federer his idol) that he's going to have to wait a minute.

It started competitively. But after Federer "broke his will" in a 20-minute stretch of play late in the first set, the former No. 1 moved about the court like he once did on a regular basis, even moving right to his forehand side with ease to return Bernard Tomic's down the line shots with ease.

Raise your hand if you think Federer will be able to play this freely in the semifinals.

::

Li Na reportedly broke down in her presser with the Chinese media. She held four match points against a hobbled(?) Kim Clijsters at 6-2 in the second set breaker and found a way to lose the match.

I saw it coming.

If you want to read the details, check out Racquet Reaction. I just can't bring myself to type it up myself.

I won't ever understand such meltdowns in professional sport. Not ever.

::

Order of Play for Monday, January 23, 2012

Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM

Women's Singles - 4th Round
Ana Ivanovic(SRB)[21] vs. Petra Kvitova(CZE)[2]

Ivanonic never get her serve back. Kvitova's serve remains one of the best. It could get interesting off the ground, but the Wimbledon champion will prevail, no matter how many sets it takes.

Men's Singles - 4th Round
Andy Murray(GBR)[4] vs. Mikhail Kukushkin(KAZ)

If Kukushkin wants to really introduce his talent to the world, now is the time. I still don't trust the Scot to go all the way, but he'll win this match.

Women's Singles - 4th Round
Ekaterina Makarova(RUS) vs. Serena Williams(USA)[12]

I guess the Russian lefty could cause Serena some trouble early in the match, but I'm not counting on it.

Rod Laver Arena 7:30 PM

Women's Singles - 4th Round
Sabine Lisicki(GER)[14] vs. Maria Sharapova(RUS)[4]

Pick one. Lisicki has the game, Sharapova has the mettle. I want to see fireworks.

Men's Singles - 4th Round
Novak Djokovic(SRB)[1] vs. Lleyton Hewitt(AUS)

Hewitt's body might not be able to handle Djoke's game, but if anyone can cause trouble it's a homegrown champion in a brilliant swan song. I'm going to stay up for it.

Hisense Arena 12:30PM

Men's Singles - 4th Round
Kei Nishikori(JPN)[24] vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga(FRA)[6]
Richard Gasquet(FRA)[17] vs. David Ferrer(ESP)[5]

I'd like to see both Frenchman through to the quarters, but only one of them will prevail.

Margaret Court Arena 12:30 PM

Women's Singles - 4th Round
Sara Errani(ITA) vs. Jie Zheng(CHN)

Zheng Jie seems to have found her form at her "home" Slam. Errani will have to be more than a backboard to win this match.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Unconventional

Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine (R) shakes hands with Bernard Tomic of Australia (L) after their third round men's singles match on day five of the 2012 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2012. Tomic won 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3. IMAGE STRICTLY.
Getty

I just finished watching Bernard Tomic defeat Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets on Rod Laver Arena last night.

Another verse he wasn't supposed to write.

In three previous meetings, he'd never beaten the lithe, long-haired, lair trapper from the Ukraine, only winning two tight sets. The rest were either routine sets or all-out beatdowns by his higher-ranked opponent.

True to form, the newest Aussie hope took both tiebreaks after dropping the first routine set to take the match lead. True to form, he dropped the fourth set 2-6. But he earned an early break in the deciding set and never looked back.

Loved the match. Just because neither player is a household name doesn't mean the battle lacked great shot making, grueling points, and all sorts of drama. Both play unconventional tennis, both cover the court deceptively, both possess easy power. We often heard that Martina Hingis turned the court into a chessboard, but I'm not sure any two players construct points quite like these. Sure, a few rallies included a few too many slice backhand drills (it's one of the many ways Dolgopolov tries to trap you in his lair), but what kept even those lulls intriguing was trying to predict who would be the first to switch it up and send a flat laser down the line or run around and nail an inside-in forehand to the corner. Either choice would make the opponent dart to their right to cover the shot and what either would do with it remained unpredictable, sometimes eliciting a gasp.

Yeah. I loved it.

Tomic books a date on Sunday with Roger Federer. I haven't a clue who's going to prevail.

::

In the day's other five-setter, the lower-ranked player, No. 18-seed Feliciano Lopez, also prevailed, running away with the final set. John Isner, seeded No. 16, can win tiebreaks but he can't break serve. Thus, the last American man in the field is out.

::

On the women's side, only one match needed a decider. No. 22-seed Julia Goerges dismissed Italian Romina Oprandi 6-1 in the third.

::

Today, the rest of the final 16 will emerge. The order of play:

Rod Laver Arena 11:00 AM
Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Maria Kirilenko(RUS)[27] vs. Petra Kvitova(CZE)[2]
Angelique Kerber(GER)[30] vs. Maria Sharapova(RUS)[4]

Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Novak Djokovic(SRB)[1] vs. Nicolas Mahut(FRA)

Rod Laver Arena 7:00 PM
Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Greta Arn(HUN) vs. Serena Williams(USA)[12]

Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Milos Raonic(CAN)[23] vs. Lleyton Hewitt(AUS)

Hisense Arena 11:00 AM
Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Frederico Gil(POR) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga(FRA)[6]

Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Vania King(USA) vs. Ana Ivanovic(SRB)[21]
Sabine Lisicki(GER)[14] vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova(RUS)[18]

Hisense Arena 7:00 PM
Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Andy Murray(GBR)[4] vs. Michael Llodra(FRA)

Margaret Court Arena Not Before 12:30 PM
Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Vera Zvonareva(RUS)[7] vs. Ekaterina Makarova(RUS)

Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Janko Tipsarevic(SRB)[9] vs. Richard Gasquet(FRA)[17]
Mikhail Kukushkin(KAZ) vs. Gael Monfils(FRA)[14]

Show Court 2 11:00 AM
Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Sorana Cirstea(ROU) vs. Sara Errani(ITA)

Not Before 12:30 PM
Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Juan Ignacio Chela(ARG)[27] vs. David Ferrer(ESP)[5]

Show Court 3 Not Before 12:30 PM
Women's Singles - 3rd Round
Jie Zheng(CHN) vs. Marion Bartoli(FRA)[9]

Men's Singles - 3rd Round
Julien Benneteau(FRA) vs. Kei Nishikori(JPN)[24]

Anybody see any upsets brewing?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Falla Grilled Fish ... And Other Melbourne Morsels

Alejandro Falla of Colombia gestures after victory in his men's singles match against Mardy Fish of the US on the third day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2012. Falla won 7-6. 6-3. 7-6.
Getty

Alejandro Falla seared No. 8 seed Mardy Fish with a comprehensive 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(6) grilling. Why does the Columbian lefty only seem to play world-class tennis in Slams? This is the same cat who served for the match against Roger Federer a mere two Wimbledons ago.

Mardy Fish of the US gestures during his men's singles match against Alejandro Falla of Colombia on the third day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2012. Falla won 7-6. 6-3. 7-6.
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As well as Falla played, I was still surprised Fish couldn't find a way to extend the match, couldn't even win one of the tiebreaks. It just goes to show that no matter how much you improve your fitness and your forehand, if you're not mentally tough, you're not mentally tough. He showed more than a few glimpses of the old Mardy who would become demoralized and turn erratic. The man has been in several big-event finals and possesses weapons, including an underrated return of serve. But there's a reason why he hasn't ever won a big one.

::

Sam Querrey of the US reacts during his loss to Bernard Tomic of Australia in their second round men's singles match on day three of the 2012 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2012. Tomic won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. IMAGE STRICTLY.
Getty

Sam Querrey doesn't enjoy playing professional tennis anymore. I'm not sure that he ever has. At least that's what it looks like when he's on the court. We've heard that he's worked hard to improve his work ethic, and he did spend some time high enough in the rankings to be a seeded player at Slams (I admit to being surprised he wasn't a seed in Melbourne), but he just always looks like he wants to be somewhere else.

Bernard Tomic of Australia gestures after victory in his men's singles match against Sam Querrey of the US on the third day of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2012. Tomic won 3-6. 6-3. 7-6. 3-6.
Getty

Bernard Tomic, on the other hand, seems committed to perfection. According to those who know better, he wasn't supposed to be able to recover from his marathon against Fernando Verdasco in order to have anything left for the big-serving American (why would we doubt a teenager's ability to physically recover from a tough match?), but the young Aussie once again wrote a different verse. How many more will he write Down Under?

::

Serena Williams of the U.S. serves to Tamira Paszek of Austria during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 17, 2012.
Reuters

Serena Williams consolidated a decisive break of serve in the sixth game of the second set in 56 seconds with four consecutive aces.

All Tamira Pasczek could do was smile.

Serena's 6-3, 6-2 victory means her record in first-round matches at Slam remains perfect. We can't even say that about Federer.

Melbourne almost always brings out the best in Serena's serve. And she doesn't seem to be hampered by her Kinesio-Taped left ankle and calf. Can she go all the way for the sixth time?

::

When Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka and Anabel Medina Garrigues (!) can be winning matches with the loss of a single game in the second round of a major, something is just, well, wrong.

::

Please use this as your Day 4 Open Thread.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Upset Of The Day

Sorana Cirstea of Romania reacts while playing against Samantha Stosur of Australia in their first round women's singles match on day two of the 2012 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2012. Cirstea upset Stosur 7-6, 6-3. IMAGE STRICTLY.
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I fell in love with her the first time I looked into her forehand. Today, Sorana Cirstea remembered who she was and took out US Open champ and homegirl Samantha Stosur in the first round of the Australian Open. So, for the second Slam in a row, the champion of the previous Slam is ousted out of the gate. (Yeah, my girl Petra Kvitova started it in New York last summer.)

But this girl here, Sorana, caught my eye a bit earlier than the oddsmakers favorite to take the title Down Under. Right here in 2008, against Ana Ivanovic, I saw something special in the Romanian. It's unfortunate she hasn't trusted herself enough since then to do something with that that special something.

Yesterday, though, she delivered.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 17:  Samantha Stosur of Australia talks to the media at a press conference after her first round lose against Sorana Cirstea of Romania during day two of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.
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Now, make no mistake, Stosur conjures Amelie Mauresmo whenever she gets a chance. She gets that chance whenever she plays her home Slam. At least the Frenchwoman was able to finish her career with two Slams. If Stosur follows suit, I suppose she'll when Roland Garros this year or next and end her career with the two Slams Mauresmo refused to or could not take.

But I digress.

Sorana slaps her forehand around like a champion, but when push comes to shove, she's usually absent. I haven't a clue where Sorana goes from here, but I'll follow and pray and feel the pain of her disappointments.

::

Andy Murray is simply not an aggressive tennis player and yesterday he was, as usual, cantankerous and erratic. Ivan Lendl won't be able to change any of that.

Ryan Harrison
needs to get serious. He also needed to have found a way to win that match because the cantankerous, erratic Scot was there for the taking.

::

I said it on twitter, I'm going to say it again: Serena Williams remains undefeated in Grand Slam first rounds. One of the greatest statistics in tennis history.

Tamira Pasczek has actually developed a relatively effective second serve. But against the return of Serena, it meant almost nothing.

::

For Lleyton Hewitt, tennis still means something, his surgically repaired body be damned.

Verily I say unto you, he has grown on me. While I certainly don't want him to beat Andy Roddick in the next round, I truly won't be mad if he does.

::

Round one is history. Use this as your Day 3 Open Thread.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quote For The Day

"On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right."

- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

::

Today we honor the legacy of a man with a dream, a man called hero by all kinds of people in this nation and all over the globe. I hadn't gotten around to posting his words here because they didn't appear to have anything whatsoever to do with tennis.

Rafael Nadal of Spain attends a news conference before the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 15, 2012.
Reuters

And then I saw the headline "Nadal Insults Federer" screaming at me from yahoo's homepage. Yesterday, I peeped a bit of what the controversy was all about but didn't find an insult in what Rafael Nadal said about Roger Federer. Didn't see a "rift" either. That's how most of the other headlines characterized it. To my ears, a man simply said what he had to say. Clearly, given all the headlines, what Nadal said was neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he obviously thought it was right. He even repeated it when asked again. Federer didn't seem at all insulted. He simply suggested that Nadal has matured and speaks his own mind more than he once did. As my mother is wont to say, "And that's about the size of it."

::

Bernard Tomic of Australia gestures after victory in his first round men's singles match against Fernando Verdasco of Spain on day one of the 2012 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2012. Tomic won 4-6. 6-7. 6-4. 6-2. 7-5.
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Bernard Tomic came back from two sets to love down to defeat No. 22 seed Fernando Verdasco in the wilting heat. Throughout most of the first two sets, Darren Cahill could swear that his countryman didn't have the fitness to go toe-to-toe with Verdasco and there would be no way for him to come back from such a deep hole. Cahill even went so far as to suggest Tomic had done himself a disservice by requesting a day match. Surely the slower conditions at night would improve his chances against such a big hitter. But the teenager had the last word when his final forehand down the line blew by Verdasco, wrong-footed and stranded on the other side of the court.

Fernando Verdasco of Spain gestures during his first round men's singles match against Bernard Tomic of Australia on day one of the 2012 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 16, 2012. Tomic won 4-6. 6-7. 6-4. 6-2. 7-5.
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There's something about the Aussie's game that captures me. I still don't know what it is. When the draw came out, I was almost certain the underdog would upset the seed. I had no idea the drama would unfold as it did, but I'm oh, so glad it did. It's why I enjoy the Australian Open so much. You never have to wait more than a day or two before a match grabs you and doesn't let go.

::

All of the televised women's matches were unremarkable.

::

Now we head into Day 2. Of course I'm interested in seeing if Serena Williams is 100% and if Andy Roddick can hold off Robin Haase. Neither American has an easy out in their first match. I expect some drama for both.

Use this as your Day 2 Open Thread.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Australian Open 2012 Day 1 Open Thread

Are you excited yet?

For the first time in nearly a decade, I'm going to watch the first Slam of the year with pure curiosity and zero expectations.

I haven't followed tennis closely enough in so long I haven't a clue who's healthy and who isn't, who's hungry and who isn't, who's on fire and who's struggling.

I have no previews and no predictions.

I'm excited.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Australian Open 2012 Men's Draw

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13:  Tournament Referee Wayne McKewen and  Australian tennis legend Neale Fraser draw names from the Championship trophy at the Official draw ahead of the 2012 Australian Open at Rod Laver Arena on January 13, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.
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Tournament Referee Wayne McKewen and Australian tennis legend Neale Fraser draw names from the Championship trophy at the Official draw ahead of the 2012 Australian Open at Rod Laver Arena on January 13, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

::

Novak Djokovic SRB (1) v Paolo Lorenzi ITA
Santiago Giraldo COL v Qualifier
Tatsuma Ito JPN v Potito Starace ITA
Nicolas Mahut FRA v Radek Stepanek CZE (29)

Milos Raonic CAN (23) v Filippo Volandri ITA
Lukas Rosol CZE v Philipp Petzschner GER
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe GER v Lleyton Hewitt AUS
Robin Haase NED v Andy Roddick USA (15)

Janko Tipsarevic SRB (9) v Dmitry Tursunov RUS
Qualifier v James Duckworth AUS
Mikhail Youzhny RUS v Qualifier
Andreas Seppi ITA v Richard Gasquet FRA (17)

Juan Ignacio Chela ARG (27) v Michael Russell USA
Igor Kunitsyn RUS v Pablo Andujar ESP
Matthias Bachinger GER v Ryan Sweeting USA
Rui Machado POR v David Ferrer ESP (5)

::

Andy Murray GBR (4) v Ryan Harrison USA
Xavier Malisse BEL v Edouard Roger-Vasselin FRA
Michael Llodra FRA v Ernests Gulbis LAT
Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP v Alex Bogomolov Jr. RUS (32)

Viktor Troicki SRB (19) v Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP v Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ
Thomaz Bellucci BRA v Dudi Sela ISR
Marinko Matosevic AUS v Gael Monfils FRA (14)

Gilles Simon FRA (12) v Qualifier
Julien Benneteau FRA v Karol Beck SVK
Joao Souza BRA v Matthew Ebden AUS
Stephane Robert FRA v Kei Nishikori JPN (24)

Marcel Granollers ESP (26) v Jesse Levine USA
Frederico Gil POR v Ivan Dodig CRO
Qualifier v Ricardo Mello BRA
Denis Istomin UZB v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (6)

:: :: :: ::

Mardy Fish USA (8)
v Gilles Muller LUX
Alejandro Falla COL v Fabio Fognini ITA
Albert Montanes ESP v Pere Riba ESP
Philipp Kohlschreiber GER v Juan Monaco ARG (25)

Florian Mayer GER (20) v Yen-Hsun Lu TPE
Qualifier v Steve Darcis BEL
Qualifier v Blaz Kavcic SLO
Adrian Mannarino FRA v Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (11)

Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR (13) v Greg Jones AUS
Tobias Kamke GER v Victor Hanescu ROU
Kenny De Schepper FRA v Sam Querrey USA
Bernard Tomic AUS v Fernando Verdasco ESP (22)

Jurgen Melzer AUT (31) v Ivo Karlovic CRO
Carlos Berlocq ARG v Qualifier
Eric Prodon FRA v Andreas Beck GER
Qualifier v Roger Federer SUI (3)

::

Tomas Berdych CZE (7) v Albert Ramos ESP
Olivier Rochus BEL v Qualifier
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Qualifier
Qualifier v Kevin Anderson RSA (30)

Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (21) v Benoit Paire FRA
Marcos Baghdatis CYP v Benjamin Becker GER
Jeremy Chardy FRA v Grigor Dimitrov BUL
Lukasz Kubot POL v Nicolas Almagro ESP (10)

John Isner USA (16) v Benjamin Mitchell AUS
Jarkko Nieminen FIN v David Nalbandian ARG
Flavio Cipolla ITA v Nikolay Davydenko RUS
Leonardo Mayer ARG v Feliciano Lopez ESP (18)

Ivan Ljubicic CRO (28) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Donald Young USA
Tommy Haas GER v Qualifier
Qualifier v Rafael Nadal ESP (2)

Australian Open 2012 Women's Draw


Getty


Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Anastasia Rodionova AUS
Ashleigh Barty AUS v Anna Tatishvili GEO
Pauline Parmentier FRA v Alla Kudryavtseva RUS
Alize Cornet FRA v Monica Niculescu ROU (31)

Lucie Safarova CZE (24) v Christina McHale USA
Qualifier v Marina Erakovic NZL
Qualifier vPetra Martic CRO
Qualifier v Jelena Jankovic SRB (13)

Kim Clijsters BEL (11) v Qualifier
Stephanie Foretz Gacon FRA v Elena Baltacha GBR
Arantxa Rus NED v Lesia Tsurenko UKR
Qualifier v Daniela Hantuchova SVK (20)

Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP (26) v Eva Birnerova CZE
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner AUT v Olga Govortsova BLR
Sofia Arvidsson SWE v Olivia Rogowska AUS
Ksenia Pervak KAZ v Na Li CHN (5)

::

Victoria Azarenka BLR(3) v Heather Watson GBR
Casey Dellacqua AUS v Bojana Jovanovski SRB
Anne Keothavong GBR v Mona Barthel GER
Ayumi Morita JPN v (32)Petra Cetkovska CZE

Flavia Pennetta ITA (19) v Qualifier
Alberta Brianti ITA v Irina Falconi USA
Iveta Benesova CZE v Mathilde Johansson FRA
Aravane Rezai FRA v Shuai Peng CHN (16)

Francesca Schiavone ITA (10) v Laura Pous-Tio ESP
Anastasiya Yakimova BLR v Romina Oprandi ITA
Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN v Eleni Daniilidou GRE
Polona Hercog SLO v Julia Goerges GER (22)

Yanina Wickmayer BEL (28) v Galina Voskoboeva KAZ
Tsvetana Pironkova BUL v Sania Mirza IND
Qualifier v Simona Halep ROU
Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA v Agnieszka Radwanska POL (8)

:: :: :: ::

Vera Zvonareva RUS (7) v Alexandra Dulgheru ROU
Evgeniya Rodina RUS v Lucie Hradecka CZE
Ekaterina Makarova RUS v Tamarine Tanasugarn THA
Johanna Larsson SWE v Kaia Kanepi EST (25)

Dominika Cibulkova SVK (17) v Magdalena Rybarikova SVK
Rebecca Marino CAN v Greta Arn HUN
Iryna Bremond FRA v Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE
Tamira Paszek AUT v Serena Williams USA (12)

Sabine Lisicki GER (14) v Qualifier
Shahar Peer ISR v Isabella Holland AUS
Sloane Stephens USA v Silvia Soler-Espinosa ESP
Chanelle Scheepers RSA v Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (18)

Angelique Kerber GER (30) v Bojana Bobusic AUS
Stephanie Dubois CAN v Elena Vesnina RUS
Mandy Minella LUX v Qualifier
Gisela Dulko ARG v Maria Sharapova RUS (4)

::

Samantha Stosur AUS (6) v Sorana Cirstea ROU
Qualifier v Urszula Radwanska POL
Qualifier v Sara Errani ITA
Qualifier v Nadia Petrova RUS (29)

Roberta Vinci ITA (23) v Alexandra Cadantu ROU
Madison Keys USA v Jie Zheng CHN
Jelena Dokic AUS v Anna Chakvetadze RUS
Virginie Razzano FRA v Marion Bartoli FRA (9)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (15) v Klara Zakopalova CZE
Kateryna Bondarenko UKR v Vania King USA
Kristina Barrois GER v Michaella Krajicek NED
Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP v Ana Ivanovic SRB (21)

Maria Kirilenko RUS (27) v Jarmila Gajdosova AUS
Shuai Zhang CHN v Aleksandra Wozniak CAN
Irina-Camelia Begu ROU v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Vera Dushevina RUS v Petra Kvitova CZE (2)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Tennis New Year



The tennis new year has already begun and I haven't even had a chance to review the old one yet. Oh, well. I'll get to it.

Use this as an open thread until I can get my post holiday act together and get back to some semblance of tennis blogging.

It's been a ride.....