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Tenaciously Tennis


Australian Open 2011 Predictions: ATP Tour

Note: Please see my most recent predictions for the ATP tour’s 2011 Australian Open here.

With just two days until the Australian Open begins, it’s time to predict the finalists with a bracket-by-bracket breakdown. Will a recently ailing Rafael Nadal overcome any physical woes to take his fourth straight major title? Maybe Roger Federer feels the need to get to his first Grand Slam final since his win Down Under last year. Then, there’s the rest of the tour aching for a title. Here goes the potential results of the year’s Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal’s Section:

As the top seed and winner of the 2008 Australian Open, Nadal has proven he can take the title once more, especially with the win at the US Open against Djokovic in September. Nadal has a relatively easy draw as his first match against a seeded player pits him against compatriot Feliciano Lopez, a man he owns in their career head-to-head. That is, if Lopez, who lost to Nadal in straight sets in the fourth round of the US Open, can even make it that far. He’s lost an astounding eight-of-ten matches, since losing to Nadal. Although the seventh-seeded David Ferrer looks formidable with a win over David Nalbandian in the Auckland finals, Nadal hasn’t lost to him since 2007.

The only foreseeable obstacle standing in the number one’s way, therefore, is Nadal’s own health. He lost in a lopsided affair to Nikolai Davydenko in the Doha semifinals, but came back to win the doubles title.

Ones to Watch: John Isner, who helped the United States win the Hopman Cup, could put together some wins to get to the fourth round. He’ll potentially meet Marin Cilic, last year’s semifinalist along the way. The tenth-seeded Youzhny also lurks in the bottom half. Lleyton Hewitt, who made it to the fourth round last year, also appears in the bottom half, but faces Nalbandian first.

Bottom Line: Nadal has a ticket to the quarterfinals.

Robin Soderling’s Section:

Fresh off a title, Soderling is a dangerous fourth-seed. Having never made it past the second round, there may be some doubts. That, however, should change with a pretty comfortable draw until he meets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a possible fourth round match.

At the bottom of the section, Murray, last year’s finalist cannot be discounted. He won his last three matches at the Hopman Cup. He’ll be in the fourth round, where he might meet a number of solid-looking players.

Ones to Watch: Besides Tsonga, things look clear for Soderling at the top of this section. Murray’s half, however, seems stronger with 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and the 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro back after a wrist injury both present. Jurgen Melzer, seeded eleventh, may also put up a strong effort as his semifinal appearance at last year’s French Open and subsequent fourth round finishes at Wimbledon and the US Open illustrated.

Bottom Line: Soderling and Murray should get to the quarterfinals. There, it’s tough to say who will win. Murray edges Soderling with a recent victory at Barclays in their 3-2 career head-to-head. They’ve never played at a major, however, so endurance will also play heavily into the match. In that case, I see Murray advancing to join Nadal.

Novak Djokovic’s Section:

Things get tougher here with a slew of talented players. Djokovic, however, shines through, having won his last five matches between the Hopman Cup and the Davis Cup at the end of last year. His trip to the US Open final against Nadal also proves relevant along with his lone major title at the Australian Open in 2008. His biggest challenges come against Sydney finalist and compatriot Viktor Troicki in the fourth round. Djokovic, however, probably won’t have a problem. He’s defeated Troicki six straight matches in their seven match head-to-head.

Ones to Watch: For sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, a cast of characters could prevent him from getting far in the draw, such as the American Ryan Harrison, the resurgent Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori, who now has Brad Gilbert on his team. Nikolai Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco also loom in potential fourth-round matches.

Bottom Line: Djokovic looks like a clear favorite into the fourth round. For Berdych, that’s not the case at all. I’ll go with Davydenko defeating Verdasco as he boasts a 7-1 head-to-head against the ninth-seed.

Roger Federer’s Section:

Federer, like Nadal, won’t have it too hard to get into the second week of the Sunny Slam. He’ll need to beat a number of Americans to do it, but that shouldn’t pose any threat. He owns Andy Roddick (21-2), Sam Querrey (2-0), and Mardy Fish (6-1) in their respective head-to-heads.

Ones to Watch: Gael Monfils and Chennai winner Stanislas Wawrinka also appear in Federer’s section.

Bottom Line: This is Federer’s chance to advance to the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Can Andy Roddick fight through, too?

In the Quarterfinals:

With these predictions, we’ll see Nadal facing Ferrer; Soderling against Murray; Davydenko against Djokovic; and Federer versus Roddick.

In the Semifinals:

Here, I see Nadal against Murray and Federer versus Djokovic to emerge as the final four.

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US Open Predictions – ATP Tour

The US Open is finally upon us. The stage has been set, the qualifying is over, and the last major of the year is underway. Here’s my review of each section of the draw.

Rafael Nadal’s Quarter:

This section of the draw is owned by one man: Rafael Nadal, the number one player in the world, and the winner of both the French Open and Wimbledon. He’s primed to take home his first US Open title on paper, but his US Open Series has been severely lacking, raising some questions about his most recent form on the hard courts. Regardless, this is a major tournament, and there’s no one that enjoys the grind more than Nadal.

The first real test for the Spaniard seems to be Ivan Ljubicic, but even that’s a stretch. I’m going for Nadal to get through to the quarterfinals in dominating fashion.

Other notables: Ryan Harrison, the young American qualifier, plays Ljubicic in the first round. Can he get the upset? Probably not.

Fernando Verdasco’s Quarter:

Verdasco and David Ferrer, both Spaniards, own this section of the draw. There is, however, a very dangerous 31st seed in the Argentinian David Nalbandian. Something about Ernests Gulbis, the 24th seed, is also enticing. I’ll pick Gulbis to face against Nalbandian for a spot in the quarters. In that match, I’m going with Nalbandian to find himself across the net from Nadal.

Other notables: None. I’ll just stress that Gulbis and Nalbandian are ones to watch.

Andy Murray’s Quarter:

With a strong US Open Series, including his win over both Nadal and Federer in Toronto, I like the looks of Murray going into this event. And his path doesn’t look to difficult until getting to the fourth round. There, I’m going with Sam Querrey to fight for the chance at the second week.

Murray, however, will win in three or four sets. He’s too masterful of a tactician to get shocked by Querrey’s power.

Other notables: Can the 14th seed Nicholas Almagro make any noise by defeating the home favorite Querrey in the third round?

Tomas Berdych’s Quarter:

The tennis world hasn’t heard too much from Berdych since his stunning run to the Wimbledon finals, where he was promptly dominated by Nadal. This section of the draw won’t make a repeat performance any easier. With Mikhail Youzhny, Xavier Malisse, and John Isner looming in the background, Berdych will need to prove he’s ready to continue his success at the majors. He made the semifinals at the French Open, too. Can he keep up the form when the pressure’s really on?

I’m going for the compelling match-up featuring Isner and Berdych. Although Isner’s health looks questionable, get injured in the last tournament he played, I’m looking for a good showing for the American giant. In the fourth round, however, Berdych stops the big guy without a problem.

Other notables: Youzhny could very well break my prediction with some inspired play against Isner in the third round. Watch out.

Nikolai Davydenko’s Quarter:

While this is called Davydenko’s section — he’s the sixth seed?! — it really belongs to Andy Roddick. Davydenko has been suffering recently with injury, and while Roddick isn’t doing too much better health-wise with his mono, he’s proven he’s on the fast track to recovery. I say it’s already a thing of the past.

Roddick shouldn’t have too much trouble making it to the fourth round. Gael Monfil had a lot of trouble in his first round match, barely getting by Robert Kendrick in the first round. I predict Roddick gets into the quarterfinals.

Other notables: The Frenchman Richard Gasquet may very well have the form to take out Davydenko early on. Even so, I’d say Roddick can dispatch Gasquet without too much trouble.

Novak Djokovic’s Quarter:

This section also reads incredibly tough on paper. While Djokovic stands out as the heavy favorite to get through by seeding, one American, Mardy Fish, has been playing some incredible tennis recently. At the top of the quarter, the 16th seed Marcos Baghdatis is more fit than ever before. I call Fish advancing in a tight and dramatic four-setter against the Cypriot. The winner faces Djokovic without a doubt.

Other notables: Wild card James Blake and Robby Ginepri might become inspired by the home crowd. Both made the US Open quarterfinals a few years ago.

Robin Soderling’s Quarter:

Although Soderling, the 5th seed, looked shaky in the opening round, he gains confidence as the tournament progress. He’ll make the fourth round without dropping another set.

Marin Cilic finds good form — he looked good in practice when the qualifying tournament was going on — and doesn’t drop a set on his way to play Soderling. That is, unless one Japanese qualifer doesn’t get in his way (explained below) In the probably match Cilic-Soderling, however, Soderling prevails in five sets.

Other notables: Qualifier Kei Nishikori, who made the fourth round before injury set in, has looked sharp so far in his four matches. With a withdrawal after two sets in the first round, he’ll have the extra rest to do some damage. He may give Cilic a real test in the third round. In fact, I hope he does.

Roger Federer’s Quarter:

This section, of course, belongs to Federer. He’s gunning for his second major in a year and number 17 in total. After losing in two straight Grand Slam quarterfinals, he’s hungry for the win. With Paul Annacone as his full-time coach and his new, aggressive brand of tennis, he’s looking very, very good. Federer cruises into the quarterfinals in straight sets all the way.

Other notables: Jurgen Melzer and Lleyton Hewitt are promising, but there’s no way either can get past Federer in a major tournament.

The Quarters and Semis:

In the top half, Nadal defeats Nalbandian in four, while Andy Murray loses to Berdych in five sets. In the semis — a rematch of Wimbledon — Nadal dispatches Berdych, although this time in four sets.

In the bottom half, Roddick faces Djokovic, a player he’s beaten four times in a row. He continues the streak to make the semis. There, he faces Federer, the winner versus Soderling to avenge his quarterfinal defeat at Roland Garros. Federer beats Roddick in three.

Injury Timeout — How the Big Name Pros are Faring

The fourth major is almost upon us. And, fitting with the final few months of the season, players on the ATP and WTA tours feel the burn. For many, however, it’s not just a burn, but an injury, curbing their success on the tennis court. Here’s a partial list of who’s feeling the aches and pains preventing play, and who’s back trying to salvage the year.

  • After suffering a foot injury just after her Wimbledon win, Serena Williams has been sidelined for the US Open Series. It’s still inconclusive whether or not the 13-time Grand Slam champion will play in the US Open. My call: She does, but doesn’t have the match experience to win.
  • While her younger sister is out of action, Venus Williams has been doing schoolwork for her interior design classes. Oh, and she’s also missing from the tour with a nagging knee ailment. She skipped the tournaments in Cincinnati and Montreal to recover. Unlike her sister, she’s publicly committed to playing at the US Open. After losing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and then having not picked up a racket since then, Venus isn’t a favorite for the title.
  • Just as Maria Sharapova looked ready to crack into the top ten for the first time in a couple years, injury set in. This time, during the final of Cincinnati against Kim Clijsters. The Russian sustained pain in her heel, forcing her to go through the motions for the rest of the match. After holding match points, Sharapova lost in three. On her website, she wrote, “I felt some pain in my foot late in the second set which kind of scared me so I have been forced to pull out of Montreal. I am hoping I just need a few days of rest.” Here’s to that wish being realized! In my mind, she’s a big contender to win the US Open title if physically fit.
  • Dinara Safina isn’t having a good year at all. Currently ranked 70 in the world, the former top-ranked woman and three-time Grand Slam finalist has suffered from a back injury on and off for most of the season. Now, however, she’s won a couple matches in Canada. The question: Can she keep it going, both physically and mentally?
  • Justin Henin looked ready to punctuate her comeback  with a major title at some point this year. After diving for a ball against Clijsters at Wimbledon, however, she hurt her elbow, damaging ligaments. Since then, she’s been out recovering. Henin recently announced that she won’t play for the rest of the reason.
  • Ana Ivanovic’s health has been on and off for a while now. In Cincinnati, she made it all the way to the semifinals, before getting hurt once more. On her website, she wrote, “I had almost non-stop icing for two days, to prevent swelling. My ankle has reacted quite well to the treatment and I still hope to play in New Haven next week.” Hopefully, Ivanovic keeps up the high level of play that finally got her far in a tournament.
  • James Blake, now ranked outside the top 100, cites injuries as the main reason for his poor play. He recently lost to Denis Istomin in Cincinnati 6-3, 6-0. The American, however, will be playing in New Haven and the US Open in an attempt to get back on track.
  • John Isner is one of the latest big names to get hurt on tour. In the second round of Cincinatti, he retired against David Nalbandian with an ankle injury.
  • Although he probably won’t defend his US Open title, Juan Martin Del Potro’s wrist seems to be recovering well. Since his wrist injury at the beginning of the season, Del Potro hasn’t played on tour. It’s a shame the Argentine won’t make it back to his best major result. He’ll drop out of the top ten as a result, too.

Injured Sharapova Succumbs to Clijsters; Murray Defends Title

Maria Sharapova had three match points against Kim Clijsters and couldn’t pull off the victory. Instead, the former world number one and three-time major titlist left the court in a three-set loss and a heel injury to boot. Andy Murray, meanwhile, played some strong tennis — despite being without a coach — to defeat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5. The win grants Murray a place in history as being the first guy since Andre Agassi in 1995 to successfully defend a Rogers Cup title.

Sharapova suffered a potentially devastating loss against Clijsters on a number of levels. After the rain delay — with Clijsters serving to stay in the match at 6-2 5-3 — everything changed. To have the lead and lose it so painstakingly will sting for the Russian. The injury: maybe even worse. But that will only be for a couple days at most. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — if there’s anyone on tour to push a loss like this aside, it’s Sharapova. While the extent of her physical problem remains to be reported, fans can rest assured that she has the ability to bounce back. Plus, her result earns her a bump in the rankings to number twelve in the world. As long as she’s healthy by August 30, there’s no reason why Sharapova can’t be considered a favorite at the US Open.

Her opponent, Clijsters, however, looks just a little stronger to win the title. Like the champion she is, Clijsters absorbed the pressure at the brink of defeat and thrived. After a sloppy first set, which she lost 2-6, Clijsters stopped making errors. Sharapova didn’t play badly to lose that second set in a tie-breaker, Clijsters simply played better. Then, things got easier after Sharapova got hurt, although she didn’t hand the match over to the Belgian by any means. Clijsters needed numerous match points to seal the match 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

With the way she’s playing, and the poor condition of many of the top women these days, I’m calling Clijsters the favorite to win the US Open. Yes, her draw remains to be seen. Clijsters, however, loves it in New York. She won the event last year and there are numerous question marks floating around about Serena and Venus Williams, Sharapova, Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic, and Jelena Jankovic, among others. If Clijsters stays healthy and plays the type of game that beat Sharapova in the second and third sets, she’ll be the champion at Arthur Ashe stadium once more.

For Murray, the win over Federer marks the end of an enticing week going into the US Open, where he got to the final in 2008. To win, he also beat David Nalbandian and Rafael Nadal, the world number one. The win means a lot for Murray’s confidence. Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t prove to me that he has the ability to take his game to the next level and win a major title. I hope that’s not true. I’m a big fan of Murray’s game, the brilliant shot-making, set-up by a counter-punching style. He’s a joy to watch. Nadal and Federer are differently animals when it comes to the biggest tournaments.

Soderling, Jankovic Upset; Sweet Victories for the Unexpected

Watch out tennis world, there’s a dangerous floater in David Nalbandian in the field. The Argentine most recent win: over world number five Robin Soderling in three sets, including a dominant performance in the third. He won4-6, 6-4, 6-1 over the fifth seed.

After missing the last six major events, Nalbandian is back. After taking out Marcos Baghdatis last week to win his 11th title in Washington, Nalbandian improved his current match winning-streak to 11. With that win, he surged through the rankings by 72 spots and is currently ranked 45th. With the win over Soderling, he’s poised to be seeded once the US Open begins in two weeks.

Although fitness has been a problem for Nalbandian in the post, according to ESPN commentator and former player and coach Brad Gilbert, he’s in pretty good shape after the injury layoff. In the match versus Soderling, the backhand was spot on, too. Nalbandian would hit a blister backhand crosscourt, nailing Soderling into the corner, and then surprise with a world-class down-the-line backhand for a crisp winner. With this shot-making capability, and the belief that comes along with such results, Nalbandian can beat any player on any given day. In fact, over at ESPN, they were calling him one of the favorites at the US Open, behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but potentially before Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the number two and four ranked player in the world, respectively.

And while Soderling was simply outplayed in that match, he wasn’t the only one. Top seed Jelena Jankovic in the Cincinnati tournament was ousted by qualifier and 114th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova in a lopsided 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the third round. The Serb is back after taking time off to heal her ankle, an injury sustained during the second round of the tournament in Slovenia. It seems like she’ll be needing some more time to recover physically and mentally after this tough defeat. Adding insult to injury, the win was Amanmuradova’s first over a top ten player.

Also losing in the third round in Cincinatti, third-ranked Caroline Wozniacki succumbed to Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1. Bartoli’s impressive play is highlighted further by the fact that Wozniacki is coming straight off a win in her home country last week. She should, therefore, be in strong form. Could it be the jet-lag? Bartoli simply being the better player? Who knows. The question now: Can the 2009 US Open finalist put together another deep run this year? That remains to be seen.

In other matches:

  • Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ousted Israel’s Shahar Peer 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
  • Roger Federer fended off a tricky Michael Llodra, who employed an underhanded serve during the second set. Federer won 7-6 (2), 6-3 after a slow start and inspired play from his long-time friend, the veteran Frenchman.
  • Kim Clijsters easily advanced against the struggling Dinara Safina 7-5, 6-2. Will the former world number one ever get back on track?
  • Ana Ivanovic, another former top player, continued her good form by beating Elena Vesnina 6-0, 6-3.
  • Maria Sharapova didn’t waste time in her win against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who’s been having an excellent summer so far. She looked confident serving and powering the ball in the quick 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Kuznetsova, Nalbandian Nab First Titles of 2010

After courting with disaster, Svetlana Kuznetsova pulled through her match against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska to win her first tile since in ten month. Her last title, which she won in Beijing, was also over Radwanska — a player who hasn’t hoisted a trophy since 2008 (despite some impressive and consistent play over the years). The Russian edged out the match in a close 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3 affair. Kuznetsova wasted four match points along the way.

On the ATP tour, wild card David Nalbandian announced his presenc ewith a comfortable win over the flashy Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis. The 117th ranked Nalbandian, who’s back after missing months of tennis with various injuries, won 6-2, 7-6 (4) at the Legg Mason final.

The wins reflect the re-emergence of two champions on the tour. Kuznetsova, who won in France last year and Nalbandian, known for being a giant killer. These players will surely deepen the field further if they can continue to play well. Of course, both are known for being shoddy in the consistency department. Will they return day in and day out both in the mental and physical departments? That’s  a story that needs to develop as the months go by.

I’m predicting that Kuznetsova shows flashes of the brilliant tennis that’s won her two major titles in the coming months. She might just make the second week at the US Open, where she made the final against Justine Henin in 2007 and won the title in 2004. It’ll be a tough test for Kuznetsova, but one that she can handle if she looks into herself and finds that powerful game.

Another notable winner: Caroline Wozniacki, who’s also been struggling to a degree since making a run to the US Open final in 2009. Wozniacki, injured on and off this season, beat Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 7-6 (5) to win the first Danish Open. This was Wozniacki’s second title of the year. The win should give her the confidence necessary to make a strong run at this year’s US Open, where she’ll be defending a great deal of ranking points.

Final Previews: Kuznetsova, Baghdatis, and More

It’s championship match time as the hard court summer swing heads into the second half. Surprises are everywhere with top seeds exiting early in some events, especially the American men, and familiar faces making their way back to the later stages of tournaments. If anything, this has been a refreshing week for tennis, showing that it’s never right to count out any player on any given day. Upsets happen, and they happen frequently in this sport.

The Legg Mason Tennis Classic:

With a win over Xavier Malisse, Marcos Baghdatis makes his first tour final since taking the title in Sydney at this year’s start. The Cypriot won 6-2, 7-6 (4). He next plays the resurgent David Nalbandian, who breezed by Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2. This compelling match puts two solid shot-makers against one another. Both men want this win for reaffirmation. They’ll both fight with a lot of heart and spirit. In the end, I’m calling Baghdatis to win over Nalbandian. He’s in better shape and might just want the title that much more. I call it going the distance — three sets in Baghdatis’ favor.

The e-Boks Danish Open:

This is Caroline Wozniacki’s tournament to win. She’s got the home advantage against Klara Zakopalova, who’s currently ranked just inside the top 50. Furthermore, Zakopalova doesn’t have the game to hurt Wozniacki, and her results at majors show that. Her best run at a Grand Slam tournament came at this year’s Wimbledon — she made the fourth round.

I see Wozniacki shaking off the ankle injury that’s plagued her this year to get a title, cementing her return to strong form before her best major — the US Open. She made the finals last year against Kim Clijsters, and I’m betting she’s inspired to get into the second week again this year. My prediction: Wozniacki wins in two sets.

Vancouver:

Taylor Dent, the tournament’s first seed, faces Dudi Sela of Israel, the third seed. It’s nice to see both guys doing well. I’ll go with the American Dent to take it in three. He’s been impressive in his comeback, and there’s no reason why he can’t get a title, too. This would be his first in approximately seven years.

The Mercury Insurance Open:

Svetlana Kuznetsova needs to win this tournament in order to salvage an otherwise abysmal year. As last year’s French Open champion, she isn’t doing much to show her capabilities so far. Whatever the reason for this poor form, the Russian has the ability to overpower Agnieszka Radwanska in the finals to claim her first title of the season. Kuznetsova beat the fifth seed, Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-0 — a telling result.

Radwanska, regardless, is a tricky opponent. Plus, her form has been excellent going into this match, pulling Maria Sharapova to three sets last week. At the same time, Kuznetsova owns their head-to-head 6-3, including the last two wins. The last one went her way easily at the finals of Beijing: 6-2, 6-4. I don’t, however, think it’ll be decided so soundly. Radwanska’s been playing too well for that in the last couple weeks. Instead, I’m saying it goes Kuznetsova’s way in three roller-coaster sets.

Headline Round-Up: Fish, Zvonareva, and Safina Win

After some exceptional American success last week, a string of big headlines are signaling the start of another busy seven days on the ATP and WTA tours. Here’s a round-up of the current events around the sport this week.

  • Mardy Fish continues his winning streak, notching match number 11 over Viktor Troicki. The American has swept the field since a second round loss at Wimbledon. He won two titles in Newport and Atlanta and looks primed to continue his success after dropping 30 pounds.
  • Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva beat Dominika Cibulkova in a tough 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 to get her first win since losing to Serena Williams. Zvonareva seems to have recovered from the mysterious ankle injury that forced her to retire from the Bank of the West Classic last week.
  • Dinara Safina’s free-fall in the rankings and with her form finally picked up a little after she won a match — her first win in seven tries. The former world number one and three-time major finalist beat Alyona Bondarenko 6-1, 7-6 (2) in San Diego.
  • Serena Williams and John Isner are set to take part in the Hopman Cup, an international tournament that serves as a warm-up for the Australian Open. As an Associated Press article writes, “Williams and Isner will join the Serbian pair of Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, Belgium’s Justine Henin, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt and France’s Gael Monfils in the mixed teams tournament which runs Jan. 1-8.” Time will tell if the big-name players keep their commitments to this progressive event.
  • James Blake continues his poor form, this time losing to the qualifier Ryan Sweeting 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Blake is now ranked 105th. At the same event, David Nalbandian is back after a hamstring injury, winning over Rajeev Ram 6-4, 6-0.
  • Speaking of players recovering from injury, US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is back on the courts. Although he probably won’t make it back in time to defend his title, or at least be a threat to win the event, it’s good to see he’s back. Click here to see the picture he posted on his Twitter account, apparently proving his return.
  • Back for more: Ivan Lendl will debut on the ATP Champions seniors’ tour in Paris this October.
  • Ones to watch, maybe: 22-year old Alexandra Mueller, ranked 447th, received a wild card into the US Open qualifying after defeating Alina Jidkova in the USTA playoffs. She handily beat Jidkova 6-0, 6-3. The last time Mueller played at the qualifying, she was 16. Jelena Dokic also made news for winning her second straight title on the ITF tour.

Ivanovic Ousted Early Again; Nadal Defeats Nalbandian

Ana Ivanovic, the former world number one, continues her dismal play in Miami with a second round loss at the hands of the soft-hitting tactician, Agnieszka Radwanska. Why Ivanovic is having so much difficulty putting together matches is a wonder to me. She continues to say the right things, showing off confidence and pose in her post-match interviews. However, something simply isn’t clicking. At all.

Ivanovic needs badly needs to find the form that took her to finals at the French Open, and then the grit that took her to the title the her after. If she can’t, I see Ivanovic making an early exit from tennis, possibly to pursue other interests before the fire re-ignites itself. Otherwise, why both continuing to disappoint not only yourself, but also the fans that expect so much? Yes, there is much to be said for the Serb to be sticking through the results and not giving up. However, there must be a point where she decides to take some time away to fix her game.

Ivanovic is a joy to watch and speaks with a charm and simplicity that makes her difficult not to love. Hopefully, she regains her form or figures out the right career decision to take her back to the top of women’s tennis.

Another struggling superstar, Rafael Nadal, had a little more success in his three-set win over Argentina’s David Nalbandian, 6(8)-7, 6-2, 6-2. The win showcased Nadal’s determination to take the top spot in the men’s game once again, despite physical injury. In the past, Nalbandian has given Nadal lots of difficulty. Therefore, Nadal’s victory will give him a special dose of confidence going into the second week in sunny Miami. It’d be nice to see him make the final with Roger Federer to re-ignite one of the most compelling rivalries in tennis history.


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