Friday, February 29, 2008
Pennetta def. Kanepi, 6-4, 6-2
I was cheering strongly for Francesca Schiavone in her semifinal against Elena Dementieva. The first set was probably the best quality set I've seen all season. When Schiavone got the thigh cramp, I got that terrible feeling. Somehow, the pain morphed to her quad, and by the third set, she just wasn't there, and made enough unforced errors to hand the match to her opponent. All in all, though, great tennis from both players.
Kuznetsova def. Jankovic, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Dementieva def. Schiavone, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Kanepi def. Cirstea, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6
I meant it when I said "never count Schiavone out," and today in Dubai--despite what I hear were moments of typical choking sounds coming from her--Francesca Schiavone, the Italian warrior, ended the winning streak of world number 1 Justine Henin. For Schiavone to beat Henin is a big deal; for her to overcome her own tendency to lose at all costs is a bigger deal. We have seen a tougher Schiavone in the last couple of seasons, and here's hoping we continue to see her.
Schiavone def. Henin, 7-6, 7-6
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Yes, well...this is what we were all afraid of--that Jankovic's body would just give out on her this season.
"It's not as though I've been playing a lot of matches," Jankovic said in an interview in Dubai, "but I don't feel that I'm moving very well on the court. I'm really struggling. There are some shots that I can usually make without much effort, but now I'm struggling to get those balls."
Jankovic has also struggled with a bad back, and now she is having trouble getting used to a new coach, who apparently does things very differently from what she is used to.
It is imperative that Jankovic get in shape, which--for her--probably means taking it easy. It is also imperative that she improve her serve. Jankovic is way too talented to let her career slide away because of bad decisions about scheduling and denial about what a difference a better serve would make.
With an improved serve, I still have no doubt that Jankovic can win a major--but only if she is healthy.
Meanwhile, in Acapulco, Italy's rising star, Sara Errani, was defeated in the second round of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL by Mariya Koryttseva, 7-5, 6-1.
As I mentioned in a comment on this blog earlier today, how suddenly odd it is to see almost all big names in the quarterfinals of a tournament. The Dubai quarterfinals is a line-up of top players--Henin, Ivanovic, Jankovic, Chakvetadze, Mauresmo, Kuznetsova, and Dementieva. Also included is talented veteran Francesca Schiavone, whom you can never really rule out (or count in, for that matter).
Henin def. Srebotnik, 7-5, 6-7, 6-3
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The number 2 seed, Tatiana Golovin, was eliminated earlier today by Bethanie Mattek.
Mattek def. Golovin, 6-4, 6-4
Monday, February 25, 2008
Dementieva def. Schnyder, 7-5, 6-0
Davenport hit ten aces in the match, and the big-hitting Lisicki hit seven. When I saw Lisicki play in Fed Cup, I saw a player who worked too quickly and took too many unnecessary chances. Such a game can be tamed, however, with maturity, and if an older and wiser Lisicki becomes more strategic and less impulsive, she could be a real factor on the tour.
Should Larcher de Brito manage to defeat either of those players, she would have to face Lindsay Davenport in the quarterfinals...that is, assuming Davenport gets past Sabine Lisicki in the first round.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
This is Llagostera Vives' second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title. She was off the tour most of 2006 because of a wrist injury. At 5' 1 1/2" tall, Llagostera Vives is, I think, the shortest woman on the tour. She has three doubles titles, and has been ranked as high as number 35 in the world.
It took Zvonareva an entire set to adjust to Sharapova's pace. In the second set, however, she became much more aggressive, and took advantage of Sharapova's service problems, her forehand, and her sometimes uncertain net play. The third set was all Sharapova, though: Sharapova def. Zvonareva, 6-1, 2-6, 6-0
In the doubles final, Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs defeated Cara Black and Liezel Huber, 6-1, 5-7, 10-7.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Yesterday, wild card Sesil Karatantcheva was taken out of the first round of qualifying by Hana Sromova, 7-6, 6-4.
Both matches were worth watching. Li outplayed Zvonareva in terms of shot-making, but her tendency to make unforced errors--undoubtedly made worse by her illness-caused her to come up short. Sharapova had to work to put Radwanska away, but she did it in straight sets.
Sharapova leads, 4-3, head-to-head with Zvonareva.
Zvonareva def. Li, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Sharapova def. Radwanska, 6-4, 6-3
Corina...please set your watch to the present and talk about something that is relevant.
Francesca Schiavone v. Marion Bartoli
Maria Kirilenko v. Alona Bondarenko
Patty Schnyder v. Elena Dementieva
Maria Sharapova v. Agnes Szavay
Lucie Safarova v. Li Na*
*Look for a possible Li withdrawal; she is suffering with a respiratory virus.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The other semifinal features Li Na, who defeated Jelena Jankovic (don't even get me started on that subject), and Vera Zvonareva, who beat Sybille Bammer. The Li-Zvonareva match should be interesting: Former top-ten player Zvonareva has an under-rated and stinging double-handed backhand that can do a lot of damage. Li can be a bit wobbly in the head part, but she has been holding up pretty well lately, and is capable of getting back a lot of balls. Zvonareva and Li, both of whom were out for a long time last season with injuries, have played each other twice before--including once in Doha--and Li won both times.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Following Amelie Mauresmo's loss to Tamerine Tunasugarn in Doha, she is reported to be quite down. The howling winds in Doha have made it difficult for a lot of players, but Mauresmo did not need another loss like this. She missed out on most of the 2007 season because of appendicitis, a long recovery period, and a surgery-related injury, and she just cannot seem to get it together in 2008.
Amelie has come back before (a few weeks before she won the 2005 Sony Ericsson Championships, she said she felt too burned out to go on), and she can come back again.
The quarterfinals feature three very sharp young players--Dominka Cibulkova (whose photo has now become this blog's number one search target), Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki.
Meanwhile, at the ATP tournament in Rotterdam, seeds have been falling like rain, making the goings-0n in Doha look tame: All eight top seeds have been eliminated.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Ivanovic def. Govortsova, 6-3, 6-1
Sharapova def. Voskobeva, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Cibulkova def. Schnyer, 6-3, 6-4
Tunasugarn def. Mauresmo, 7-6, 7-5
Sugiyama def. Morita, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Medina Garrigues def. Kirilenko, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
And to round out the day's oddities--after being up 5-1 in the second set, Virginie Razzano lost to Shahar Peer, 6-1, 7-6.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Two-time finalist and perennial crowd favorite on Daniel Island, Patty Schnyder has officially entered the 2008 Family Circle Cup. The 35th anniversary Charleston event will mark Schnyder's twelfth consecutive appearance in a tournament she loves...and that loves her.
In 2002, Schnyder was unseeded, and had a stunning run, working her way through the draw from hell: number 6 seed Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce, number 3 seed Serena Williams, and number 1 seed and defending champion Jennifer Capriati. She then lost a close final, 7-5, 6-4, to Iva Majoli, who was also unseeded. I imagine that this was the toughest loss of Schnyder's career.
In her 2006 semifinal, Schnyder defeated Justine Henin for the first time in her career, but lost to Nadia Petrova in the final. Last year, a change of weather threw Schnyder off her game, and she lost to Peng Shuai in the second round. She stuck around to play doubles with Corina Morariu, but the fans were clearly disappointed.
Patty Schnyder really shines in Charleston, and her many fans, myself included, can't wait to see her on the green clay again.
Tennis great Iva Majoli appeared on the show in the second season.
Pennetta led 3-2 and 4-2 in the final set. Jazami def. Pennetta, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
Also taken out was number 4 seed Emilie Loit, who fell to lucky loser Rossana de los Ríos, 7-5, 6-3.
Yesterday, number 2 seed Alize Cornet was defeated by Maria Emilia Salerni, 6-4, 6-2
Also, Sania Mirza retired today during her Qatar Total Open first round match against Olga Govorsova. Mirza was cramping, and finally had to stop playing. Govortsova def. Mirza, 4-6, 7-6, 3-2
And of note: Caroline Wozniacki defeated Marion Bartoli, 6-2, 6-3, in the first round.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Medina Garrigues def. Petrova, 6-2, 1-2
Roger Federer won the men's award for the fourth year in a row.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
No one is more disturbed than I that athletes make truckloads of money. But that is not the fault of the athletes; rather, it is the fault of a system that values physical prowess and entertainment more than other things. Perhaps Morariu is feeling blue that she raked in only $1,733, 916 in winnings in her career. Of course, that figure does not include money made from sponsorships. I do not know how much money she made that way, but--as number 1 doubles player in the world--I suspect she made some.
Cara Black and Leizel Huber won the doubles title, defeating Kveta Peschke and Ai Sugiyama, 6-1, 6-3.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Other interesting first rounds of a different sort include:
Kateryna Bondarenko v. Eleni Daniilidou
Nadia Petrova v. Anabel Medina Garrigues
Francesca Schiavone v. Shahar Peer
Katerina Srebotnik v. Dinara Safina
Once the qualifiers are assigned, there may some more interesting first rounds.
The Doha tournament was upgraded to Tier I level this year.
Friday, February 15, 2008
In her Vina del Mar blog, Flavia Pennetta says that she will team with Francesca Schiavone to play doubles at Indian Wells this year. Pennetta mentioned this as part of the answer to a question about whether she intends to play more doubles with Elena Dementieva. Pennetta and Dementieva teamed up at the very last minute in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and won the tournament, then were finalists at the U.S. Open. Dementieva is now focusing on singles only, however.
Pennetta played doubles with her friend Gisela Dulko for a while; I do not know why that team decided to split. She indicates in her blog that she hopes to team with Schiavone for the Olympics.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Seles, whose two-handed-on-both-sides racquet style and trademark grunt distinguished her from her peers, was known for her on-court intensity, uncanny return of serve, and her laser-like ball-striking into wicked court angles. She won nine Grand Slam titles, 53 singles titles, 6 doubles titles, and an Olympic bronze medal. She was number 1 in the world for an extended period of time, and was part of an exciting rivalry with Steffi Graf.
In 1993, Seles was stabbed in the back during a match in Hamburg by a man who has never served a day in prison. She could not play tennis for two years, but upon her return, she won the Australian Open. Five years ago, Seles had to leave the tour because of a stress fracture in her foot, and foot pain has prevented her from returning to competitive tennis.
Had Seles not been stabbed, and had she not sustained the foot injury, there is no telling how many Grand Slams and other tournaments she would have won. She is surely one of the most gifted players in the history of pro tennis, and she inspired some of the biggest names in tennis today.
Seles was born in Yugoslavia, and became a U.S. citizen in 1994.
I understand her point of view, but given that China is cracking down on dissidents, siphoning water away from poor districts and slaughtering both stray and pet dogs (in front of their people) to "prepare" for the Olympics, I'm with After Atalanta: Sport--like anything else--can never be separated from politics, and certainly should not be separated from issues of morality.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Sofia Arvidsson could hardly win a match, but this season she has experienced a real turnaround, and that she put some emphasis on that turnaround today by defeating Proximus Diamond Games second seed Anna Chakvetadze, 6-3, 7-5. Arvidsson did not make it through qualifying, but got into the main draw as a lucky loser.
Arvidsson will play Li Na in the quarterfinals.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Henin next faces Tsvetana Pironkova, who has done her share of giant-tipping, but who is not at all likely to prevail against the world number 1 and top seed.
Hantuchova, on the other hand, faces Yanina Wickmayer, who has been on somewhat of a roll lately. Wickmayer defeated both Bondarenko sisters in Fed Cup matches, and beat Peng Shuai to get to the second round of the Proximus Games. She is also playing in her home country and will get all of the crowd support.
Schnyder will play Karin Knapp, who has already advanced to the quarterfinals, with her win over Yaroslava Shvedova. Schnyder tends to do very well on indoor surfaces and should prevail against the the up-and-coming Knapp.
As for Open Gaz de France winner and number 2 seed Anna Chakvetadze, she should get by an improving Sofia Arvidsson to land her quarterfinal slot.
Li Na has already secured her quarterfinal place, with a win over Dominika Cibulkova. Others contending for the quarterfinals:
Kateryna Bondarenko v. Alisa Kleybanova
Timea Bacsinszky v. Julie Ditty
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Also out is number 5 seed Sybille Bammer, who was defeated 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 by Yaroslava Shvedova. And Karin Knapp defeated Nathalie Dechy, 7-6, 6-4.
Meanwhile, main draw number 3 seed Emilie Loit was defeated by Petra Cetkovska, 6-2, 7-6.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Pennetta will start her challenge with a match against against Greta Arn of Hungary.
Chakvetadze's opponent was Agnes Szavay, one of the tour's rising phenoms. Visibly anxious in the first set, Szavay double-faulted seven times, but then shook off her nerves in the second set and prevailed over an out-of-sorts Chakvetadze. What happened next we have seen before: Chakvetadze changed her attitude and stepped onto the court for the final set a different player. It finally occurred to her to move to the net, where she was quite successful. Her combination of net play and her trademark sudden change of pace, which she uses in long rallies, gave her the advantage, as did her repeated placement of the ball to Szavay's forehand.
The Open Gaz de France trophy, by the way, is beautiful.
Chakvetadze def. Szavay, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2
Radwanska def. Craybas, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Jill Craybas has reached the final of the Pattaya Women's Open in Pattaya City, Thailand. Her opponent will be Agnieszka Radwanska, the tournament's top seed. Craybas, the number 7 seed, led both the University of Texas and the University of Florida to national championship in the mid-90s.
Many people have brought up the possibility that some of Bartoli's coach's unorthodox drills could be what makes Bartoli's body so fragile. I don't know if that is so, but it does seem possible that over-drilling could be causing the problem. Bartoli's training regimen is strict and excessive, and she needs to question the widsom of continuing it. For a while last year, Bartoli escaped from the injury cycle that has plagued her throughout her career, but now she appears to be returning to it. Every time she gets to a quarterfinal or semifinal, I cringe, just waiting for the injury. Chakvetadze def. Bartoli, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0
In the other semifinal, Agnez Szavay defeated Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5. Dementieva broke Szavay at 4-4 in the final set, served for the match, and was broken back. Szavay then held and broke again, to give her a slot in the finals.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Kateryna Bondarenko put up a really good fight in her first round against Elena Dementieva, but things changed after that. Dementieva def. Bondarenko, 7-5, 6-2
According to those who saw the match, Virginie Razzano got down with some hijinks, i.e., imitating Marion Bartoli, during their quarterfinal match. The hijinks were not enough, though: Bartoli def. Razzano, 6-1, 7-6
Finally, while I cannot speak about the first two sets--I was gone--the third set between Anna Chakvetadze and Amelie Mauresmo was a series of breaks, one after another, until Chakvetadze served at 4-3 and was able to hold. She then broke Mauresmo again, held, and put an end to the match. Chakvetadze def. Mauresmo, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Number 1 seed Chakvetadze will play number 3 seed Bartoli in the semifinals, and number 4 seed Dementieva will play number 7 seed Szavay.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The Bondarenkos, Alona and Kateryna, winners of the doubles title at the Australian Open, are blogging from the Open Gaz de France in Paris this week. Here is a blog sample from the sometimes contentious sisters (Alona's comments are in italics):
People are always wondering if we get into arguments when we're travelling together, and the answer is, of course, yes. But we've improved. A few years ago we fought so much more but now I think we're used to being around each other all the time and we are a little older now, so we get along much better. And our fights are only for 30 minutes, maybe an hour, so they don't last that long.
I have to add that we maybe have small arguments every day, maybe a few times a day, but they're only about little things. And we didn't argue at all today. And we make up after so they don't last long. But it's always easier when we have somebody else with us, so we can fight with that person instead!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Get real. Does anyone really think that both Williams sisters will be healthy and ready to play in Fed Cup? I'm not sure even one of them will be. My guess is that if everyone else is healthy and available and one Williams sister can show up, Laura Granville (who did not play against Germany, despite being on the team) will be cut, and Harkleroad will be on the team. Whether she would actually play, of course, is another question.
If the U.S. plays Russia on a clay surface, should Lindsay Davenport be on the team as a singles player? Stay tuned.
Serena Williams has withdrawn from Antwerp, also, because of her upcoming dental surgery.
And the still-sick and still-injured Sam Stosur and Mara Santangelo have withdrawn from Indian Wells.
Bondarenko is far from being an easy opponent, but one has to wonder: What is Petrova going to do about her now seriously flagging career? Last year, she said she was having some trouble with motivation. When she is on--as she was in the 2006 clay court season--she is hard to beat. But she has not been in that zone for a long time. Known to change coaches often, Petrova cannot seem to get into a winning groove at this point, despite her considerable talent.
Monday, February 4, 2008
The winner of the Girls 18 division is awarded a wild card to the qualifying draw of the 2008 Family Circle Cup.
Henin's competition for the award includes pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft, swimmer Libby Lenton, soccer player Marta, and golfer Lorena Ochoa.
Nominated for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability is Esther Vergeer of The Netherlands, a wheelchair tennis player who has gone unbeaten for four years.
Her opponent, if I may borrow a line from Richard O'Brien, is a "wild and untamed thing, ...a bee with a deadly sting." Lisicki hits either brilliant winners or unforced errors--she is all over the place all the time. One assumes that, as she continues her training at the Bollettieri Academy, she will learn patience and self-discipline. When that occurs, her sting will be deadly indeed.
The U.S. will play defending champion Russia in the semifinals.
We all (sports media excluded) had to sit up and take notice when the Bondarenko sisters, Alona and Katyrina, won the Australian Open. Now, another Ukrainian, Yuliana Fedak and her partner, American Julie Ditty, have defeated the top seeds in the first round of the Open Gaz de France. Fedak and Ditty beat Cara Black and Leizel Huber, 6-4, 0-6, 10-5, and will move on to the second round.
I do not think that Fedak and Ditty have ever played together before. Black and Huber are numbers 1 and 2 in the world, respectively.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Also, the Czech Republic has defeated Slovakia, 3-2; Ukraine has defeated Belgium, 3-2, with the Bondarenko sisters finally coming through in doubles'; and Japan has defeated Croatia, 4-1. This will be Ukraine's first semifinal effort in the World Group.
Not content to just upset Kateryna Bondarenko in Fed Cup, Yanina Wickmayer has also upset Alona Bondarenko, 6-3, 6-4, giving Belgium a 2-1 lead over Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova, continuing her steamroller run, took care of Shahar Peer, 6-1, 6-1, to give Russia a 4-1 victory over Israel in Fed Cup.
The biggest news, however, is that Anabel Medina Garrigues, who defeated Flavia Pennetta, has now also defeated Francesca Schiavone, 6-4, 6-1, which moves Spain to the Fed Cup semifinals. Italy was last year's finalist.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Nuria Llagorstera Vives upset Francesca Schiavone, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2. Making Spain's lead over Italy even more pronounced was Anabel Medina Garrigues, who defeated Flavia Pennetta, 6-2, 6-3.
Belgium scored an upset, too, when Yanina Wickmayer defeated Kateryna Bondarenko, 7-6, 6-1. (Note to Fed Cup: It would be a good idea to spell Bondarenko's name correctly on your website.)
And China is 2-0 against France, with Peng Shuai's defeat of Virginie Razzano (4-6, 6-3, 6-4) and Li Na's defeat of Alize Cornet (6-3, 6-1).
Friday, February 1, 2008
Do you have a boyfriend?
I don’t comment on my personal life.
Why are you so interested in my personal life? You want to take the vacant post?
Read some more on TennisInfoBlog.