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Tenaciously Tennis


Vandeweghe Victorious Against Zvonareva

In an excellent upset for teenager Coco Vandeweghe, the American stunned the Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the Mercury Insurance Open to get to the quarterfinals. Until this point, Vandeweghe, currently ranked 205, has lost 13 of her 15 WTA matches. To make it to her match against Zvonareva, she won three qualifying matches.

This big win could very well be a career-changer. If Vandeweghe can continue to hold the belief and consistency that won her the match, she has a strong chance to be a top player in the future. While she lost in the quarterfinals against her next opponent, a player prone to choking, Svetlana Kuznetsova, things are looking up for the young American.

Kuznetsova beat Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-2 to get to the semifinals. It’s a strong result for the Russian, who barely got through her match against Sara Errani of Italy in the second round. After winning the first set easily, she slid through 6-1, 5-7 (5), 7-5.

Kuznetsova hasn’t had a good year until making the semifinals of this tournament. The two-time Grand Slam champion couldn’t perform in her attempt to defend her 2009 French Open title — she lost in the third round. At Wimbledon, the Russian succumbed in the second round, dropping her ranking outside the top twenty (she’s now ranked 21st). If she continues this mediocre track record at the majors, she’ll find her way outside the top 20 for the first time in seven years when the year-end rankings are announced. It’s a big slip, indeed.

While I haven’t seen Vandeweghe play since her match against Ekaterina Bychkova in the first round of US Open qualifying last year, I think the confidence from beating Zvonareva and holding her own against Kuznetsova will get her far in the match-up. Even if she doesn’t come out the victor, she should see a bump in the rankings and a good chance to win a few more matches before the US Open.

Zvonareva, known for her emotional outbursts, reportedly cried during her press conference after the match. She’s quoted: “I don’t think she surprised me. I’ve seen her play before. It’s more that I surprised myself. I started pretty good and then I just started playing stupid. I didn’t change anything, I just kept playing stupid.”

The semifinals of the event are as follows: Agnieszka Radwanska versus Daniela Hantuchova and Kuznetsova against Flavia Pennetta, who beat Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-3. I see Radwanska taking the title of the four — she’s the most consistent, and I believe the most mentally tough.

In other headlines:

  • John Isner lost to Xavier Malisse in Washington, joining Sam Querrey. Malisse defeated him 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
  • Joining these two in a big surprise upset: Andy Roddick, the tournament’s second seed. He lost in a lopsided 6-3, 6-3. Said Roddick of the match: “It was just a bad night. I don’t really have any defense for it. I didn’t feel right physically. I didn’t feel right mentally. I wish I had answers for you right now, but I just don’t. I promise you, I’m going to figure this out before I do that again.”
  • Both Lleyton Hewitt and Venus Williams pulled out of their next events. Hewitt will be out of the Toronto Masters with a calf strain, while Venus cited knee pain.
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Unseeded Kvitova Secures Big Win Over Azarenka

The twenty year old Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic has advanced over the Belarussian Victoria Azarenka in compelling fashion, winning 7-5, 6-0. Her year, which has been otherwise unspectacular, has taken a huge turn with the win. Kvitova is now in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career. Her other best Grand Slam results include the fourth round at the French Open in 2008 and at the US Open in 2009.

With one career title to her name already, and these compelling results at the majors, I see Kvitova making a big run in the near future. She’s already taken out Jie Zheng of China, a player seeded 23rd and well known for the fantastic run to the Australian Open semifinals this year. Up next, she plays Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 7-5, 6-4, another up and coming young star.

In the fourth round match, I think Wozniacki’s defensive game and experience will prove a little too much for Kvitova. I see the number three seed edging out Kvitova in a tight third set.

As for Azarenka’s loss, it was a good effort as she’s been having a difficult year with injuries. Her play is improving, which is a great sign. I think she’ll be completley back in action for the US Open; don’t expect a loss before the second week.

Also posting wins include Serena Williams over Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska over Sara Errani, and Na Li over Anastasia Rodionova.

In doubles, the third-seeded team of Nadia Petrova and Sam Stosur beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Aravane Rezai. Vania King of the US and Yaroslava Shvedova defeated the 14th seed of Monica Niculescu and Shahar Peer to make it to the sweet 16.

Wimbledon Predictions – The WTA Tour

Should I even be looking at anyone besides the Williams sisters given their track record at Wimbledon? Probably not. But, then again, anything can happen, and it’s always fun tracking the draws of a Grand Slam. There’s a strong showing this year with the Belgians back, others making big moves, a certain Russian looking good, and a slew of other players vying for the breakthrough feeling Francesca Schiavone captured at the French Open. So, without further ado, here are my predictions.

The First Quarter:

Notables – Serena Williams (1), Dominika Cibulkova, Lucie Safarova (25), Daniela Hantuchova (24), Maria Sharapova (16), Na Li (9), Anne Keothavong, Svetlana Kuznetsova (19), Sara Errani (32), Agnieszka Radwanska (7)

This section of the draw belongs to the younger Williams sister and Sharapova. With Michelle Larcher de Brito along the way, Serena faces a loud opponent, but should dismantle her easily. In the fourth round, the decibels will drop, but the competition will get much fiercer with Sharapova in her future. I see that match being an excellent display of tennis. It’s too bad it’ll need to come so soon. Of the two, I’m going with Serena to win in three sets. Sharapova brings the intensity and the grass court experience from the pre-Wimbledon warm-up, but Serena’s healthier, and she has the career edge with a 5-2 record against the Russian. In fact, the only times Sharapova prevailed over Serena was during her momentous 2004 Wimbledon final win and in the tour championships later that year. Fast forward a few years, and it’s a completely different setting. On the bottom half, I see Radwanska making it to the fourth round, where she’s likely to face Na Li of China. There, Li’s recent win over Sharapova will show itself, and she’ll make it to the quarterfinals to face Serena.

The Final Four: Serena plays and beats Sharapova, while Radwanska loses to Li in two lopsided sets.

The Second Quarter:

Notables – Caroline Wozniacki (3), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (29), Jie Zheng (23), Sorana Cirstea, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka (14), Flavia Pennetta (10), Aravane Rezai (18), Alexandra Dulgheru (31), Kimiko Date Krumm, Sam Stosur (6)

This is a difficult part of the draw. So many strong players appeal to the avid tennis fan that I can hardly make a decision. Going based on the seeding might not work. Therefore, I’m going to go with my gut. Wozniacki should make it to the third round, where I suspect she’ll meet Pavlyuchenkova. I think the Russian will put up a stronger fight than in the past, despite her poor record against Wozniacki. She’s lost each of their three meetings. Regardless, I see the Dane advancing. In the fourth round an even tougher test awaits her with the feisty Azarenka back on track. Although she lost to Makarova last week, I don’t see her being stopped by Wozniacki. She’ll win in three sets to make it to the quarterfinals, proving she belongs back in the top ten. I’m also seeing something interesting happening with Cirstea and Kvitova, whichever one passes their first round battle. In the bottom half, I like Rezai and Sam Stosur to advance to the fourth round. Sam’s experience should pay off, although her loss at the French might still be effecting her. I put Rezai as wanting it a little more than Stosur.

The Final Four: Azarenka surprises Wozniacki, and Rezai tops Stosur in three sets (although that’s a serious question mark).

The Third Quarter:

Notables – Kim Clijsters (8), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Maria Kirlenko (27), Justine Henin (17), Patty Schnyder, Nadia Petrova (12), Yanina Wickmayer (15), Vera Zvonareva (21), Alyona Bondarenko (28), Jelena Jankovic (4)

The battle of the Belgians is bound to take place in the fourth round. There, I put Henin a notch above Clijsters, who was out of the French Open with injury. Henin wants it more — this is the reason she’s back, and she will go down fighting her hardest. Along the way, she needs to watch out for Petrova (unless Schnyder takes her out first, which I really hope will happen!). In the bottom section, I’m betting that Alison Riske of the United States continues her exceptional streak at Wimbledon. If she can take out Wickmayer in the first round, I see her fighting her way in a string of three set wins to the fourth round, where’ll probably meet up with Jankovic. At that point, she’s likely to be too tired out and mentally fatigued for the experienced Serb, who by the way won’t have problem making it there with a pretty open draw as it stands.

The Final Four: Henin dismisses her compatriot Clijsters in three sets. In the bottom half, Riske (who I hope can take out Wickmayer) reaches the fourth round before falling to Jankovic in another serious showdown that goes the length.

The Fourth Quarter:

Notables – Francesca Schiavone (5), Yaroslava Schvedova (30), Kateryna Bondarenko (34), Marion Bartoli (11), Shahar Peer (13), Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Melanie Oudin (33), Alisa Kleybanova (26), Ekaterina Makarova, Venus Williams (2).

I like this section a lot. There’s a lot of potential for a strong showing by a few surprises, although ultimately there’s no picking against Venus to make the quarterfinals. The top section is a much easier pick. I don’t see Schiavone channeling the champion spirit that won her a Grand Slam. I do see her making the fourth round, where she’ll face Bartoli. Remember her? She made it to the Wimbledon final a few years ago (although it really feels like decades. I have a feeling we’ll see a quarterfinal rematch with Bartoli losing to Venus eventually. In the bottom section, Ivanovic is likely to fall to the Israeli peer in the first round. Another disappointment for the former world number one. Hopefully, Oudin gets her game back to take out Peer in the third round. If so, she’ll no doubt meet Venus. However, the older Williams sister will face a tough challenge in Makarova, the winner over Azarenka a few days ago.

The Final Four: Schiavone falls to Bartoli in two sets, while Venus ousts Oudin.

Second Week Predictions:

  • Sharapova screeches to a halt against Serena in three. Serena sends off Li in two sets.
  • Azarenka raises her game to defeat Rezai in two sets.
  • Henin handles Jankovic easily in the hopes of finally realizing her dream to hold the Wimbledon trophy up high.
  • Venus comes away with another win against Bartoli.

In the semifinals, Serena beats Azarenka in a repeat of the Australian open semifinal, although much quicker this time. In the bottom half, I’m having difficulty deciding between Venus and Henin. Both want to make it so badly. I think Venus’ experience will pay off, and she’ll stop Henin in three close sets to prevent deja vu of this year’s Australian Open final.

As for the men, I’m waiting on predicting the champion of the event until I feel strongly one way or the other.

Click here to look at the complete women’s draw.

Nadal Easily Advances; Upsets Ensue at Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal and John Isner raced through their third round matches, while the Serbs Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic needed marathon three-set matches to advance. On the surprise-side, session ten at Indian Wells saw Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka lose, as Israel’s Shahar Peer advanced in three.

In Nadal’s match against Mario Ancic, the Spaniard wowed the crowed with shot after shot, making his established opponent look like a confused country-player. With his powerful top spin forehand, Nadal dominated Ancic with beautifully hit passing shots and curling forehands hit from outside the doubles alley that miraculously clipped corners of the court. In the end, Ancic looked completely baffled, bowing out, 6-2, 6-2. The third seed next faces the American giant, John Isner.

Isner beat friend and fellow Davis Cup partner, Sam Querrey, 7-6(3), 6-4, asserting his rightful place as the second-ranked American in the world. The question remains, can Isner push himself to the max and take down the defending champion, Nadal, in the next round. My prediction: probably not.

Djokovic looked to have an easy match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first set, but things intensified as Kohlschreiber’s one-handed backhanded and the California heat weighed down on the Serb’s game. Djokovic outlasted Kohlschreiber’s three match points and took the third set tie break to win, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(3). Next up is a harder test in Ivan Ljubicic, the twentieth seed.

Another Serb, Jankovic, looked to be all but out of the tournament against her lower-ranked opponent, Sara Errani in her 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 win. For the first set and most of the second, Jankovic would set the point up with one of her beautifully placed down-the-line backhands. However, she continually made unforced errors, allowing Errani to dictate play. In the second set tiebreak, Jankovic was up 6-1, until sloppy play ensued. Jankovic lost the next five points, but eventually took the set and the match.

Clijsters and Azarenka bowed out in surprising fashion. Clijsters lost to Russian Alisa Kleybanova 64, 1-6, 7-6(4), while Azarenka was defeated by Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 7-6(4), 6-2.

With Clijsters out, my prediction for a Belgian champion at the 2010 Indian Wells tournament comes to a close. However, there is the exciting possibility of a new winner on the west coast, which is just as powerful a storyline.

Azarenka’s defeat by Martinez Sanchez was a huge upset, showcasing the Spaniard’s beautiful variety, including drop shot returns, finesse volleys, lobs, and well-placed serves. All combined to throw off Azarenka’s powerful baseline game and end her hopes for a big win.

Other matches of note had Israel’s Shahar Peer versus Flavia Pennetta, Vera Zvonareva against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, and Australia’s Sam Stosur meeting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Peer came back from a difficult loss in the second set to take a commanding win in the third set, beating the Italian, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. In the other match, 2009 champion Zvonareva put a stop to the Latvian’s strong run 6-2, 6-3, while Stosur out-hit the recent titlist, Pavlyuchenkova, in a lopsided, 6-3, 6-0.


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