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Tenaciously Tennis


Azarenka Stuns Sharapova; Querrey Collects Fourth Title

Victoria Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-1 to take her first title of the season, and her first since April 2009. This was Azarenka’s third final of the year. Sharapova, on the other hand, was vying for her third title this year.

With piercing shots and a voracious desire to win, Azarenka hit her way to the lopsided conclusion, which saw a great deal of service breaks for both players. In fact, Azarenka converted six of 11 break points, illustrating a strong mental reserve. With injury sidelining her from this sort of play for months, it’s refreshing to see (although maybe not hear) Azarenka back in the big leagues. The win takes her to number 12 in the rankings. For Sharapova, she’s inching back to the top ten as the number 13 player in the world.

Although a rightfully fatigued Azarenka pulled out of the San Diego tournament beginning this week, I see her cracking into the top ten before the US Open begins later this month. Sharapova next plays at the tournament in Cincinnati, another good way to get back to the top tier of the WTA tour.

At the Farmers Classic, Sam Querrey has proven yet again he’s a comeback kid, not a “Debbie Downer.” After losing  a tight first set 5-7, Querrey capitalized on Andy Murray’s defensive play with huge forehands to win the next two sets. Before this match, Querrey had never taken a set off the fourth-ranked two-time major finalist. Querrey won 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

With the win, the American becomes the first player to successfully defend the title since Andre Agassi won it in 2001-2002. According to an Associated Press article, “Querrey became the first player since last year to win two matches from match point down in the same tournament. He saved one match point in the semifinals against Janko Tipsarevic.”

Querrey looks primed to continue this form — the win was his fourth for the year. He’ll be a serious contender at the US Open. As for Murray, he did well to make the final after parting ways with his coach Miles Maclagan.

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Cahill to Coach Murray? Maybe, Probably Not

With Andy Murray recently splitting up with full-time coach Miles Maclagan, the British press wants to know just who will take over for their number one player.

According to Cliff Drysdale, during Murray’s match against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, along with an article for The Guardian and another in The Mail, Darren Cahill might just be the man for the job. During the broadcast, however, Cahill refuted the idea, albeit not very convincingly. He told Drysdale, “It didn’t take very long to bring me up, did it?”

He continued that “it depends what he wants,…if [Murray’s] looking to employ a full-time coach that can’t be me. I’m not in the position to be anybody’s full-time coach with my commitments here at ESPN, and also a consultant at Adidas.” He continued that if he ever went back to being a full-time coach, he probably would’ve stayed to see if Roger Federer wanted him for the job. Cahill worked with Federer over the past couple years.

Despite the Australian seeming to say “no,” The Guardian stated, “The Australian Darren Cahill, who guided Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, is favoured to take over, but Murray will wait until the US Open finishes in September before deciding. Cahill, who is attached to Murray’s chief sponsor, Adidas, currently works as an analyst for ESPN.”

The Mail writes, “Murray, in co-ordination with his mother Judy, still his most trusted adviser, placed Cahill at the head of his wish-list to coach him when they decided Maclagan’s days were numbered after Wimbledon, as exclusively revealed in The Mail on Sunday four weeks ago. ”

There’s a lot still up in the air. Personally, it’d be good for Murray to have Cahill at his side. With a career-high ranking of 22 in1989, Cahill has the history both on and off the court to do great things for Murray, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title.

Team Changes: Federer and Murray Get New Coaches

It’s been recently announced that world number three Roger Federer and world number four Andy Murray have made some major decisions in their coaching going into the US Open Series. Federer, who’s been without a full-tim coach since he split with Tony Roche in 2007, is partnering up with Pete Sampras’ former go-to guy, Paul Annacone. Andy Murray, however, called it quits with Miles Maclagan — his full-time coach after ending his partnership with Brad Gilbert.

For Federer, the decision signals possible unease with two quarterfinal losses at the French Open and Wimbledon, events he dominated last year. As a result, the 16-time Grand Slam champion has fallen in the rankings, while rival Rafael Nadal finds himself in a commanding top spot. Yes, Federer won the Australian Open, but he’s going to need to get to the semifinals at the US Open at the least to save the year from being marked as the beginning of the end. Personally, I think he has more Grand Slam titles in him — at least enough to make it to 20 in total. We’ll see how Annacone factors into the next couple months.

As for Murray, firing Maclagan shows frustration with his game to an extent. Two times, Murray had the chance to win a Grand Slam title, and both times he was ousted easily by Federer. Murray replaced Maclagan, his coach for less than three years, with Alex Corretja, a player who got to two French Open finals. Corretja has been Murray’s part-time coach for about two years now.

According to a recent article on Telegraph.co.uk, “the three men [Murray, Maclagan, and Corretja] were finding it difficult to work together. Although Maclagan was Murray’s main coach, Corretja had been working with the team as a coaching adviser since May 2008, and will continue on a part-time basis in the build-up to the US Open.” Whatever the reason, let’s hope the change benefits Murray, who’s been having a great year, despite some lopsided losses in the late stages of the big events. For instance, Nadal beat Murray 6–4, 7–6 (6), 6–4 in the Wimbledon semis, before winning the title against Tomas Berdych.

Will these changes for the top men prove successful as the summer hard court season continues? We’ll have to wait and see. I’ll be judging the switch-ups based on their performance at the US Open in September.


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