Friday, December 31, 2010

Some Players, young and old, too watch in 2011.

2011 looks set to be another cracking year on the WTA with a whole host of new stars set to create many an upset, as well as the more established stars inevitably taking the major honours once again. And here are some players to keep an eye through out the year!

Kim Clijsters

It's all there for Kim Clijsters, it just depends how committed she is. Can she be a little less up and down than she was in 2010? With Serena out of the picture, you have to say that she's got the game to dominate everybody. Even if she plays at 80 per cent, it should be enough for her to win major tournaments. That said, there are a number of players that I'll be interested to follow this year, all currently outside the top 10 - and they should each have an interesting year ahead of them.

Justine Henin

The first one is Justine Henin, who is due to make her latest comeback from injury next week. She's been out with an elbow injury and is saying that she won't be back to her best until July, but I think we can take that with a pinch of salt - she's deliberately, and rightly, taking the pressure off herself. I would expect her to be knocking on the door by the French Open: if she has no further injuries, I'd see her as one of the favourites to win Roland Garros. It will be too early for her to compete at the Australian Open: with her game she has to play frequently, getting matches under her belt.

But if she can stay injury-free, she'll become a major force again this year.

Maria Sharapova

It has been a staccato few months for Maria as she fights back from injury. However the old phrase about form being temporary and class permanent really does apply to her. I wouldn't be surprised to see her challenging in all four Grand Slams in 2011; but, once again, that will only happen if she can stay injury-free.

Ana Ivanovic

In the last few tournaments of 2010 Ana was an unrecognisable player from the one bereft of form, lacking confidence and looking as if she might be on her way out of tennis. However, her partnership with Heinz Gunthardt bore fruit by October, when she was as strong as any player in the world. Whatever her reasons for then splitting with the coach, I can't see it being good news for her. I was absolutely convinced that she was one of the favourites for the Australian Open, but it remains to be seen if the hard work she and Heinz put into her mental stamina is still there when she turns up in Melbourne. Sometimes she plays with all the confidence in the world, and sometimes she plays with absolutely no confidence at all - and that change sometimes happened in the space of 10 minutes.

If her upward trend continues, she's a real threat and can take on anyone. I hope it does.

Svetlana Kuznetsova/Dinara Safina

It's make or break for the Russian pair: if neither are in contention for a major tournament in 2011, I think that either or both of them will retire. They are both at a crossroads, Safina because she tries too hard and Kuznetsova because she seems to get easily distracted.

Christina McHale

The young American star has a lot of pressure on her shoulders as the new girl set to take over from the likes of Venus and Serena as the US number one, when the sisters eventually retire. Christina has halved her ranking in 2010 moving from 231 to near the worlds top 100 and now should make many more main draws on the tour without the need to waste energy qualifying. She is gaining confidence all the time and should be able to deal with a lot of the older players quite easily.
It will be interesting to see if she will be able to defeat the very best top 20 ranked girls but i am sure 2011 will be a great year of progression and she could well move to within the worlds top 50 if she stays injury free, causing a few upsets no doubt a long the way.

Laura Robson

2011 looks to be a defining year for the young Brit. its been a while since she won junior Wimbledon and put herself on the tennis radar. Yet with a limited schedule because of her age restrictions Robson has failed to move up the rankings as quick as some expected. Those in the know though understand that Robson can now play a much fuller schedule in 2011 and has already gained some extensive experiences on the tour such as playing Jelena Jankovic on a Wimbledon show court and taking on the mighty Kimiko Date in her home city of Tokyo. Robson is powerful and has a great serve which will allow her to gain cheap points against many opponents. First step is for Laura to try and break the top 100 with a solid start at the beginning of the year. Turning 17 in January Laura will look to qualify into the main draw of the Aussie Open and show the expectant British tennis fans that she is a contender for major honours.

Zarina Diyas

Kazakstan is emerging as a powerful tennis nation. On the ATP tour the likes of Evgeny Korolov, Andrey Golubev and Mikhail Kukushkin are all familiar names, but the ladies now can boast a new star, Zarina Diyas. The 17 year old is a powerful player and looks set to give her Russian neighbours something to think about. She had a steady 2010 but showed her true promise when reaching the quarter finals in Moscow back in October where as a qualifier she destroyed Jankovic before losing to Maria Kirilenko in the next round. The ranking points from Moscow means Zarina now has a top 200 ranking and will be looking to break into the top 100 quickly in 2011. A dangerous floater in any draw, once the youngster gains a little more strength she could challenge for a top 20 ranking very soon. These are just three potential stars of 2011. Other notable names that could also rapidly rise up the ranks are British girls Heather Watson and Tara Moore, the Pliskova sisters from the Czech Republic, American Coco Vandeweghe and Croatian junior star Alya Tomljanovic.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to make the WTA rankings work.

The WTA rankings clearly DO NOT work!

What value should the winner have as compared to the defeated player? If winning makes all the difference in the world in a Grand Slam final then it should be reflected in the points’ allocation for each player’s rankings.

The highest number of ranking points a player can earn is by winning a Grand Slam singles title. The winner receives 2000 ranking points. The 2nd highest number of ranking points a player can earn is by being the runner-up in a Grand Slam tournament. The runner-up receives 1400 ranking points.

To make the rankings work, an absolute MINIMUM of a 2.5 to 1 ratio of points should be allocated to the winner of a Grand Slam event. Given 1400 is earned by the runner-up then 3500 should be given to the winner.

If this value correction was adopted by the WTA, Serena Williams would currently be the clear world No.1. The differential of 2100 points between the champion and the defeated player would represent a more realistic difference. It would dramatically reduce the possibility of being ranked No.1 without winning a Grand Slam title.

How many points do you think the runner-up would get? What value would you place on the difference between being the winner and the runner-up? Do you think that the runner-up holds 70% as much prestige and fame as the winner does? As unfortunate as it is, the phrase “nobody remembers the loser” often rings true.

The runner-up receives 70% of the amount of points that the winner does, therefore 1400 ranking points. 70% to the runner-up means a player earns 2800 points for twice making it to the final. So, this points allocation means the WTA is saying that 2 runner-up results in a Slam final is a greater result by a player than it is to actually win a Grand Slam title! That’s CLEARLY NOT the case.

Do you think a player who has made it to 2 finals and lost both times will hold a higher place in the history of the game than a player who does actually win a Grand Slam title? I really don’t think so. For instance, Michael Chang’s position in the game’s history would be greater in most people’s view than would dual runner-up Alex Corretja’s.

The performances at the most prestigious and biggest events in the world should make all the difference. Unless the WTA Tour makes a huge effort into promoting and educating the tennis world about the how important the other 10 major women’s tournaments each year, then this seems like the 2nd best solution.

If the ranking system did work like this the rankings would look very differently that what they do currently;
The current ranknigs:
1 Caroline Wozniack 8,035
2 Vera Zvonareva 6,785
3 Kim Clijsters 6,635
4 Serena Williams 5,355
5 Venus Williams 4,985
6 Samantha Stosur 4,982
7 Francesca Schiavone 4,935
8 Jelena Janković 4,445
9 Elena Dementieva 4,335
10 Victoria Azarenka 4,235

If the rankings worked my way!;
1 Serena Williams 8,355
2 Kim Clijsters 8,135
3 Caroline Wozniacki 8,035
4 Vera Zvonerava 6,785
5 Francesca Schiavone 6 435
6 Venus Williams 4,985
7 Samantha Stosur 4,982
8 Jelena Janković 4,445
9 Elena Dementieva 4,335
10 Victoria Azarenka 4,235

Probably a much fairer system!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Navratilova leaves Kilimanjaro early!

WTA legend Martina Navratilova is recovering in a Nairobi hospital after having to halt prematurely her attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Navratilova, who was leading a team of 27 climbers to raise funds for the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation charity, was taken ill on the fourth day of the climb up the 19,341 foot mountain in Tanzania. She was assisted down the mountain by porters and driven to the nearby Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre for assessment, then, as a precaution, she was flown to the Nairobi Hospital for further tests, which showed she was suffering from high altitude pulmonary oedema - an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Dr. David Silverstein of Nairobi Hospital said: "Basically this is fluid in the lungs related to high altitude. It is potentially dangerous when someone is at high altitude, but once brought down, recovery is quick. Martina is doing well and will continue to do well. Treatment is to remove the fluid through diuretics and to make the patient more comfortable with oxygen. She will spend two to three days in hospital. There will be no effects to long term health and patients get back to full fitness in due course. Martina's acute condition is not reflective of her health or fitness. It occurs in some people in conditions of low oxygen."

From her bed at the Nairobi Hospital, Martina said: "I'm disappointed not to be able to complete this amazing journey. It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be. I am so pleased that we got it going and I will be watching and waiting for news from the climb when they reach the summit tomorrow. I didn't make it, but I think it has been a great success as we have raised funds and awareness for the work that Laureus does."

Navratilova was in good spirits as she left the campsite at Horombo. She had reached 4500m during the day, the highest point of the climb so far.

Among Martina's team was badminton star Gail Emms and Paralympian Michael Teuber, who said: "The whole group of the climbers is very sad about Martina's situation, but at the same time we are glad to hear that she is doing fine. Now we are even more motivated and want to reach the summit also for her. I will carry the Laureus flag up to the top and stick it in the ground for her."

The climb began on Monday and is due to reach the summit Saturday. The Laureus team have had to face unseasonal weather of blizzards and mists which has made progress extremely difficult over the last few days.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Serena Williams will probably not be back until spring.

Serena Williams, who has not played competitively on tour since dominating the field and winning her 13th major at Wimbledon this year, hopes to make her comeback in the spring, according to the New York Post.

"I hope to be out of the cast and back on the court by spring," Williams told the New York Post at YSL and Vogue's fashion party in Miami on Saturday night. "I am trying to make the best out of a bad situation."

Williams, 29, reportedly had her foot in a cast decorated with Swarovski crystals on Saturday.

Williams initially suffered the injury when she was cut on glass at a restaurant in Munich, Germany, on July 7. She received stitches in both feet and then needed further surgery to repair a lacerated tendon on the top of her right foot in Los Angeles on July 15.

At the time of the accident, the American was ranked No. 1, but the injury forced her to pull out of the U.S. Open. A hopeful Williams committed to playing in a handful of tournaments this fall, but her foot did not heal properly as she began training.

She underwent further procedures on her foot in October and later pulled out of the Australian Open. Not only will Serena be unable to defend her title at Melbourne Park, but she may now reportedly miss a significant amount of time following the season's first major.

Serena ended the season ranked No. 4, behind Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters.

Serena showed off her bedazzled cast at YSL and Vogue’s “Evenings in Vogue” party in Miami on Saturday night, according to New York Post gossip column Page Six.

“I decorated it myself with crystals. I am trying to make the best out of a bad situation. I hope to be out of the cast and back on the court by spring,” she said.

Serena also spoke of lover after she recently rekindled her romance with rapper Common.

Williams has previously revealed that she’s looking to settle down with the man of her dreams.

“I’m looking for a guy who is close to his parents — his mom mostly because you can learn a lot about a guy by the way he treats his mom,” she said last month.

“And someone who loves themselves because if they take care of themselves, they are able to take care of you.

“I don’t like smokers, and of course people who disrespect their parents and families. Family is very important to me.

“When people meet me, I’m different in person I’m very nice and easy going.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deja Vu for Deja.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Deja Kitchiner, she is a young girl from the USA who is being touted by her father as the next Justine Henin and Steffi Graf. She has a youtube account and her father has attempted to create hype around Deja by spamming tennis forums with videos of her and making outlandish claims about her future in the game. The problem is that in reality, she just isn’t very good. In the youtube videos of her being fed balls, she appears to be hitting her serve, backhand and volleys all in the same western forehand grip, and any beginner could tell you just how wrong that is. Not only this but Deja's father has claimed she has the "best back hand the game of tennis has seen" and he has also stated that she can serve 115mph+

It really highlights just how easily fathers can exploit their daughters. She probably is a nice, normal young lady but she has become the butt of jokes across the tennis community as her father continues to shamelessly promote her under the moniker of JustWinDeja among other usernames and fake profiles. Shouldn’t it be JustPlayDeja? He claims that she is thirteen years old but not only does she look far older, but she has seemingly been thirteen for years now. It’s just a sad situation and if (and when) she doesn’t become that world famous pro that her father is adamant she will be, how will she be able to have a normal life considering she will have spent her whole childhood playing tennis?

With all that said, the sob story is brilliant; “We played in a hallway and when there was no hallway we, um, hit on the back of our SUV”. Completely believable of course.

The first video is the alleged 13 year old Deja Kitchiner, the second Serena Williams at 12 years old. I think its pretty obvious who is the better player.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Update: 2011 outfits.

Not too long ago I wrote about what some Adidas and Nike Players would be wareing at the start of 2011, here is a quick update! These images are a bit clearer of what Serena Williams would have worn and what Maria Sharapova will ware at the Australian Open. I'm sad we may not get see Serena's dress in action, because I think it would have suited her and the court perfectly! I think Maria's dress will turn into one of those ones that suite her, but no one else! It should look great on her, but the average person would not look to great in it!These outfits will be for the average Adidas player, with the pink/orange dress probably being Ivanavic's French Open dress. The polo's or round neck top will be for henin and the tank's for Kirilenko, Oudin, Lisicki etc.

To give you a rough idea of what the Adilibria line will look like for Roland Garros this is the tank and skort that players will ware

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On december first, Serena Williams will die for charity!

Keep a Child Alive, an organization co-founded by Alicia Keys that provides support services to families affected by HIV/AIDS has launched a campaign called BUY LIFE. Keys has organized a group of entertainers to sign off of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and commit a digital life sacrifice on Wednesday, World AIDS Day, until they raise $1 million.

The campaign includes Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Serena Williams, Janelle Monae, Lady Gaga, Willow and Jaden Smith.

“This is such a direct and instantly emotional way and a little sarcastic, you know, of a way to get people to pay attention,” said Keys, who has more than 2.6 million followers on Twitter, to the AP. (Lady Gaga has more than 7.2 million followers on Twitter, and almost 24 million fans on Facebook.)

Keys says she wants the campaign to put things in to perspective. One of the campaign’s goals is to get people thinking about what it means to buy a life beyond HIV treatment meds.

“Keep A Child Alive buys more than just the pills needed to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. It buys the essential nutrition, shelter, support and education to help ensure those pills are taken properly and effectively,”
The foundation, which began in 2003, will accept donations through text messages and bar-code technology found on ads. Keep a Child Alive works in India, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.

To donate via text message, simply text "BUYLIFE" to 90999
or you can specifically text "SERENA" to 90999.

Nike outfits to kick off 2011.

As you can see in the previous blog, I have published what is believed to be some Adidas outfits for 2011, and now I will write what will probably be the outfits for Nike players Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and what would have been Serena Williams' out fit.
Although the picture size and quality is not to great, I hope you will still be able to see it well! The first dress, in the wolf grey and orange will most likely be her Australian Open dress, with the below tanks, for tournaments such as, Dubai, Memphis, Indian Wells etc. 

The second dress, the yellow one, which is my favourite one out of the tree, will possibly be for the French Open or US Open how ever im not to sure where the teal one fits in, probably for the US Open or French Open (which ever the yellow one is not for!)
The above pink dress will be Azarenka, probable out fit for the Australian Open with the tanks being for after and players such as Lucie Safarova, Li Na etc. and of course Marion Bartoli will also ware them!

The last dress, in navy blue and white and white and blue, is what Serena Williams was Supposed to ware for the first grand slam of the year, but will now no longer as she has with drawn (see below). The above crew tops will probably be also part of the Azarenka range, for her and the other players. 

Out of all of the Nike out fits I like what would have been Serena Williams' what outfits do you like the most?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adidas 2011.

It May seem to early for some, to begin talking about predictions of what players will be wearing at the first Grand Slam of the year, but anyway! Here is what Adidas' Adilibria Player's will apparently ware 
to kick off 2011!

To your left is the Dress most likely to be worn by 
Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova. I really like 
this dress and I think it would look great against the 
blue courts of Melbourne Park! Also i think this dress will look amazing on the two girls

And of course this will also be the dress for the
French Open as usual!

Below are the tops and skirts the Adilibria girls will 
be wearing (Sorana, Laura Robson, Sania Mirza etc.)

These outfits look great and will really suit the girls! Note: The top and skirt also
come in white with green underlay!

So perhaps it will be white and green for the French Open!?

What do you think of the outfits?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Serena Williams pulls out of Australian Open.

Serena Williams today confirmed she has withdrawn from Australian Open 2011.

“As I continue to rehabilitate my foot after the second surgery last month, it is with the utmost regret that I am withdrawing from the Hopman Cup and the 2011 Australian Open Championships,” Serena Williams said today.

“As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused me further injury and damage.

“While I desperately want to be back on the court and competing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, it is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals properly.

“This decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one. I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be.”

Williams has been in regular contact with Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and made her decision after receiving further medical advice.

“I know how disappointing it will be for Serena that she’s unable to come back and defend her title at Australian Open 2011. We all know how much she enjoys playing here, and how much she loves her Aussie fans,” Tiley said.

“Serena is a great champion and we will miss her in January. We send her our very best wishes for a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming her back to Australia soon.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

The slighting of Serena Williams

As the WTA season wrapped up with the championships at Doha recently, Caroline Wozniacki, a 20 year old from Denmark, ended the tour ranked No 1 in women's tennis – largely thanks to her consistency in winning minor WTA events. For many, Serena Williams, though knocked off the top spot in the rankings and unable, through injury, to defend her 2009 Doha title, remains clearly the supreme player of her generation.

But in certain circles of the US tennis establishment, Wozniacki's emergence is seen as a positive development, precisely because it puts Williams "in her place". Chris Chase, a tennis correspondent for Yahoo Sports, for example, has a history of writing hostile commentary about Serena Williams. Recently, he accused Williams of "hyping" her foot injury – despite the fact that a torn tendon had forced her to pull out of all the season's remaining events. And, he writes, Williams' fans should simply "deal with it" if Wozniacki is the new No 1.

ESPN writer Peter Bodo is another long-time critic of the Williams Sisters. Earlier this year, Bodo called the Williams sisters' patrotism "false and self-serving" because they had failed, as he saw it, to make a firm commitment to play for the US squad in the Federation Cup. And when the sisters again chose not to play the Indian Wells tournament this year, where Venus and her father Richard had been booed and allegedly racially abused following her withdrawal with injury from a match against Serena back in 2001, Tom Gainey of Tennis X said they should get over it.

Given this form, the question has to be asked, when has an American-born tennis champion ever been so disrespected as Serena Williams?

One reason why the American tennis establishment resents Serena Williams is because she doesn't make tennis her life. Williams is so superior to other women on the WTA that she can play part-time – and still win two out of the four grand slam singles titles.

But some of the establishment's almost palpable relief at Wozniacki's elevation is, frankly, because she's young, white and blonde; and is a physical type that conforms more closely to western stereotypes of female beauty than Williams' highly athletic physique. A female athlete, it seems, is not respected for her hard work and dedication; she still has to be a product on display to sell to heterosexual male consumers – and a dark-skinned, self-willed African American is not the preferred model.

For all her consistency, Wozniacki has never beaten any of the big four: either the Williams sisters, or the Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. Wozniacki has a weak forehand, a lack of variety in her game, and the top elite women have the power to blast her off the court. The fact remains that Wozniacki is just another, relatively anonymous woman player who has reached No 1 without a grand slam title, just as Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina did. The idea that Wozniacki is any kind of "great white hope" is doubly misguided.

Recently, Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, told the New York Times he believes the USTA discourages African American youth from pursuing the sport because they don't want blacks dominating tennis, which is still, culturally, a white sport. That is a view that chimes with the fact that Maria Sharapova is the highest-paid female athlete in the world, despite the fact she's only won three grand slam singles titles – ten less than Serena Williams has.

So what is it that the Maria Sharapova or Caroline Wozniacki has that Serena Williams, the greatest champion US women's tennis has ever had, doesn't? Tennis ability has nothing to do with it. Prejudice has everything to do with it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Clijsters wins Doha

Kim Clijsters started strongly, lost her way a little and finished fast in the final of the WTA Championships - Doha 2010, scoring a 6-3 - 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki for her third career title at the season-ender.

Coming into this year's event, Clijsters was the only player in the field who had a winning record at the WTA Championships in previous years (she had been 15-6 here, with none of the other seven players better than even). She was also on a roll in big matches, winning all five finals since returning to tennis last year.

All of that may have played into a very fast start for Clijsters, who burst out to a 6-3 4-1 lead; Wozniacki, who had won more matches than anyone this year, did not surrender - in fact she raised her level in a big way, upping the aggression and winning seven of the next eight games to win the second set and break for 1-0 in the first game of the third. The match would turn once more, however.

Clijsters broke right back in the second game of the third set and was again the frontrunner from there, firing an inside out forehand winner to break again for 4-2, holding easily for 5-2 then holding again two games later to complete the victory.

"At the moment I'm kind of relieved it's over. It seemed like it would never end," Clijsters said on court right after the match. "It was a tough battle. We should some great tennis and some great fitness - I think we showed the crowd some great women's tennis tonight. This was my first time in the Middle East and it been a very amazing experience."

Having also won this event in 2002 and 2003, Clijsters is the fifth player in WTA history to win here three or more times (Martina Navratilova won here eight times, with Steffi Graf winning four times and Monica Seles three times).

Clijsters won her fifth WTA title of the year, following triumphs in Brisbane, Miami, Cincinnati and the US Open; the only player who won more titles than Clijsters this year was Wozniacki (the Dane won six titles this year).

Wozniacki has a lot to be happy about after this week, making it to one of her biggest career finals (last year's US Open final was arguably her only bigger final, and she fell to Clijsters there too) and, by virtue of beating Francesca Schiavone in round robin play, securing the year-end No.1 ranking - she rose to No.1 on October 11 and is the 10th player ever to finish a year No.1.

"This may be disappointing for Caroline, but she has a great future," Clijsters added. "I also have to congratulate her on making it to the No.1 ranking."

"This has been a fantastic week for me - the support is always amazing here," Wozniacki said. "I had a great week. Kim just played amazing today and she really deserved to win."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kim and Caro to play in final.

Four of this year's best performers on the WTA took center court Saturday, all battling for berths in the finals of the WTA Championships - Doha 2010. And with ferocious forehands and blistering backhands among their repertoires, it was one of the best days of tennis the entire season.

Kim Clijsters and Samantha Stosur, the No.3 and No.5 seeds, were the first to play. Stosur started quickly, breaking Clijsters in the second game and building a 3-0 lead; Clijsters broke back, however, and after saving set point at 4-5 always seemed to be in control, cruising through a tie-break to end the 61-minute first set and blowing through the second set in 25 minutes to improve to 5-0 in her head-to-head series against Stosur with a 7-6(3) 6-1 victory.

"Sam and I have played some tough matches in the past, but today I was able to play well on the important points. That's what helped me win the first set," Clijsters said. "In the second set I think her level dropped a little bit."

"That's what happens when you play against the best in the world. You have to play absolutely at the peak. If you drop off just that little bit, you get punished for it," Stosur said. "I had the set point and she hit a ball right on the line. You have to say too good on shots like that. She deserved to win it in the end."

Clijsters is playing a WTA tournament in the Middle East for the first time. "To play the WTA Championships here is very special. The fans are great here - my match against Azarenka went until 1am the other night and so many people stayed. I really appreciate that. I hope they keep supporting women's tennis."

The second semifinal went much like the first, with Caroline Wozniacki recovering from a close encounter in the first set then cruising through the second set to win. Wozniacki, the No.1 seed, squandered an early 4-1 lead and found herself down two set points with Vera Zvonareva serving at 5-4, 40-15; but she fought both of them off and ended up winning nine games in a row to seal victory against the No.2-seeded Russian in straight sets, 7-5 6-0.

"I was up 4-1 in the first set and suddenly she had two set points," Wozniacki said on court after the match. "First I want to thank the crowd for supporting me so much today and all week. Without you guys I wouldn't be here."

"I feel like in the beginning of the second set I lost a little bit of concentration and gave her three games right away," Zvonareva said. "Then I think it was a little bit too late. She was already dominating the second set. Against a player like Caroline you can't give her so many mistakes. I'm disappointed."

Wozniacki and Clijsters have only met once previously, with Clijsters winning in an entertaining straight-setter in the US Open final last year, 7-5 6-3.

"Right now I'm just going to enjoy this moment. I'm in the finals and it's a huge tournament," Wozniacki said. "We'll see what I come up with tomorrow."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dementieva calls quits on a Marvelous decade.

She fought alongside the biggest names on the WTA for over a decade, right until the end too. And following her last match of this week's WTA Championships - Doha 2010, Elena Dementieva called it a career.

After Anna Kournikova's stint at the top level in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dementieva was the first of the current wave of Russians to make a mark, cracking the Top 20 on September 11, 2000 after a shock run to her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. She stayed in that elite for 524 of the next 529 weeks, including this week, and she spent an amazing 328 career weeks inside the Top 10 (peaking at No.3 for five weeks in the spring of 2009).

Dementieva seemed to get better and better with age, her most treasured title, the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, coming at age 26, and her two Top 5 finishes coming at 27 and 28 (at the end of the 2008 and 2009 seasons).

In addition to 16 WTA titles, Dementieva reached another 16 finals, including Grand Slam finals at the French Open and US Open in 2004. Players had to go to the ends of the Earth to beat her; who could forget Serena Williams' 6-7(4) 7-5 8-6 win over her in the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, where the eventual champion had to save match point in what is widely regarded as one of the best matches in recent memory. Dementieva reached the semifinals or better at Grand Slams nine times, doing it at least once at every Grand Slam.

Dementieva's success wasn't just limited to singles. She won six WTA doubles titles (including the WTA Championships in 2002 with Janette Husarova) and reached another seven finals (including two US Open finals, in 2002 with Husarova and 2005 with Flavia Pennetta). Her doubles career-high was No.5.

But after 12 years competing at the highest level, the Russian, who celebrated her 29th birthday earlier this month, decided to bow out on the WTA's biggest stage, her last match coming against Francesca Schiavone. The 30-year-old Italian would win that match in an hour and 33 minutes on center court, 6-4 6-2.

"This year in Doha was very special for me because it was my last tournament," Dementieva told the crowd. "I'd first like to thank Stacey Allaster. We're very lucky to have you as the leader of the tour. You do so much to make our tour better, trying to take women's tennis to a different level. It has been a big honor to be a part of the tour for such a long time. I'd like to thank all the people from the WTA - it was so nice to get to know all of you and work with you for so many years. I'm going to miss you so much. Thanks to all the players for the amazing experiences, all the years I spent on the court with you. And thanks to all the people around the world for supporting me, and my fan club, I could feel your support no matter where I was in the world. Thank you for your devotion.

"Most importantly, thanks to my family, especially my mom. You've been very supportive, encouraging, inspiring... you were always there for me. It was a long way and we did it together. I love you mom.

"It's so emotional. It's hard to say goodbye. I'm going to miss you so much."

"Russia is proud to have you. You've been a great inspiration and role model for kids," Vera Zvonareva said on court. "You've done so much, not just for Russian tennis but for Russian sport. The whole country is proud of you."

"We kind of grew up together. I've been playing with her since the juniors," Kim Clijsters said. "It's nice to see her look forward to something new in her life. She's been one of the most professional, nicest girls on tour.

"It will be rare to see another player like her."

Vera secures year end number 2.

The round robin portion of the WTA Championships - Doha 2010 wrapped up on Friday, with the first two matches having major implications.

First up was No.4 seed Francesca Schiavone's 6-4 6-2 win over No.7 seed Elena Dementieva, which would turn out to be Dementieva's last career match - she announced her retirement on court straight after the match.

"Everybody knew - not me," Schiavone said of Dementieva's news. "She has been a really big example for everybody. I'm friends with her. She feels it is her time to leave. It's part of life. I wish the best for her. She deserves it."

Schiavone had lost both of her previous round robin matches but ended on a winning note. She will play in the Fed Cup final next week against the USA. "I love to play for my country. I'm always ready when the captain calls me to play for my nation. Now I have some days to rest to play my last singles of the year."

Next, No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva rallied from a break down twice in the first set and twice in the second set to get revenge on No.3 seed Kim Clijsters, avenging her loss in the US Open final with a 6-4 7-5 win over the Belgian.

"I definitely produced some good tennis today," said Zvonareva, who also secured the year-end No.2 ranking with the win. "Every tournament I go to I'm trying to do my best to win it. But I have to take it one match at a time."

"Last night's match was pretty tough and I kind of felt it today," Clijsters, who beat Victoria Azarenka late Thursday night, said. "I kind of felt flat out there today. I'll have the morning off and I'll practice around 4pm. I'll be using this time to recover and be as fresh as possible for the semifinals tomorrow."

Although the final four line-up was settled on Friday, now both semifinal match-ups are set, with Clijsters facing No.5 seed Sam Stosur and Zvonareva facing No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters leads Stosur in their head-to-head, 4-0; Wozniacki and Zvonareva are tied in their head-to-head, 3-3.

In the third match of the day, Azarenka, the No.8 seed, rallied from an early 3-1 deficit to beat No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic, 6-4 6-0, in a match that determined who would finish No.3 and No.4 in their group. Both were 0-2 in earlier matches.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stosur beats Wozniacki, gives Vera a shot at top spot.

Her big serve and laser-like forehand in full flight, Samantha Stosur pulled off the first big upset of the season-ending WTA Championships - Doha 2010, dispatching Caroline Wozniacki, the world No.1, 6-4 6-3.

Stosur, the No.5 seed in Doha, gave Wozniacki some windows on her serve, six break points to be exact - but she saved them all and snuck out two breaks of her own against the top seed, one in the last game of the first set and another to go up 3-1 in the second. She hit a service winner on match point.

"Anytime you beat the No.1 player in the world it's a good thing," said Stosur, who hit 26 winners in the match. "It's so exciting to be here. Everything seems to be coming together. Hopefully I can keep playing like this."

Stosur scored her second career victory over a reigning No.1, her first coming earlier this year at the French Open, where she beat Serena Williams in a nail-biter in the quarters. Stosur is the only Australian in the last seven years to beat a No.1 (before her, the last one to do it was Jelena Dokic in 2003).

Stosur is now 2-0 in her group, having beaten No.4 seed Francesca Schiavone Tuesday; Wozniacki is now 1-1, having beaten No.7 seed Elena Dementieva.

In other matches on Day 2 of round robin play in Doha, No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva edged No.8 seed Victoria Azarenka, 7-6(4) 6-4, while No.3 seed Kim Clijsters beat No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic, 6-2 6-3.

Zvonareva was trailing 4-2 in the first set and 3-1 in the second set before toughing out her win over Azarenka. "I'm always leaving 100% on the court when I'm out there. I'm happy I was able to come back in those two sets; I shouldn't have started that slowly, but I was just trying to find my rhythm. I made the right adjustments and came up with great tennis in the tie-break when I needed it."

Clijsters had 10 double faults in her match but still found a way to win handily. "It wasn't my best tennis, but it was good enough. I felt I did a lot of good things, and there are a few things I need to tweak. The more matches I get, the better."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vera and Caro win openers, in fine form.

Vera Zvonareva maintained her recent mastery over Jelena Jankovic in the first match of the WTA Championships - Doha 2010 on Tuesday afternoon, beating the former No.1 handily in straight sets, 6-3 6-0.

Zvonareva, the No.2 seed at the $4.55-million season-ending event, had won her last six sets against Jankovic; that became eight in a row with Tuesday's win. Zvonareva actually won eight straight games from 4-3 in the first set; Jankovic lost that opening set on a double fault and the match on a forehand into the net.

Zvonareva had a +13 winners-to-errors differential (28-15); it was a different story for Jankovic, who had a -15 winners-to-errors differential (15-30).

"I'm excited. It's an amazing feeling to win my first match of this year's WTA Championships," Zvonareva said in her on-court interview. "All the players are very tough here and everyone who made it to the final eight deserves to be here. I was just trying to do my best on the court today - it always looks easy from the side, but the first set was really long and we had some great rallies today."

Zvonareva now leads her head-to-head series with Jankovic, 7-6.

In the other opener, Caroline Wozniacki had a just as impressive win over Elena Dementieva, crushing her 6-1 6-1.

Wozniacki, the No.1 seed at the season-ender, lost eight points in her seven service games and broke Dementieva five times en route to the 53-minute win.

"Elena's a great player so to pull this one out was nice," Wozniacki said in her on-court interview after the match. "I'm really happy to get through my first match. I love it here - it's fantastic in Doha, the crowd and the support. It was a big help for me today and I'm looking forward to my next one."

Wozniacki scored her WTA-leading 60th match victory of the season. She also has the most titles on the WTA this year, winning six: Ponte Vedra Beach, Copenhagen, Montréal, New Haven, Tokyo and Beijing. The last four of those are all Premiers; a title here would be her biggest of the year and her career.

Dementieva had pushed Wozniacki to three sets in their two other meetings this year, falling to the Dane in the semis of New Haven, 16 63 76(5), and in the final of Tokyo, 16 62 63. She fell to 3-9 lifetime against No.1s, those wins coming against Martina Hingis (2001 Moscow), Lindsay Davenport (2005 US Open) and Serena Williams earlier this season (2010 Sydney).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zvonareva becomes the fitfh Russian to crack the top 2.

Vera Zvonareva has become the fifth Russian to crack the Top 2, ascending from No.3 to No.2 after last year's WTA Championships points fell off.

Zvonareva, who had set new career-highs of No.4 and No.3 over the last few months, joins Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina amongst the Russians to break the world's Top 2.

Zvonareva maintains her focus on tennis: "I don't really think about statistics. If I do my best on the court all the time and I'm able to prepare myself to go out there and perform my best, the results and all the rankings will come. I'm just trying to concentrate on my game, trying to improve all the time. Every time I'm out there I'm challenging myself. That's the most important thing for me."

Sharapova and Safina are the only Russians ever to make it to the No.1 spot.

Following a shining performance at her home event in Moscow, Maria Kirilenko made her return to the world's Top 20, rising from No.24 to No.19. Kirilenko had already been in the Top 20 for 11 total weeks before, four in 2006 and seven more in 2008 - she now spends her 12th career week in there.

A former teen phenom's return to the main circuit at the age of 28 has finally paid off on the rankings, as Mirjana Lucic rose from No.102 to No.98, her first time in the Top 100 since July 9, 2000 - on July 10, 2000, the points from her semifinal run at Wimbledon in 1999 fell off, and she fell from No.58 to No.141.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vika Conquers in Moscow

She qualified for this coming week's season-ending WTA Championships - Doha 2010 by winning her first match of the week, but she didn't stop there. Victoria Azarenka went all the way to the title at the Kremlin Cup, capping a stellar run with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Maria Kirilenko.

Azarenka, the No.2 seed at the Premier-level tournament, downed Andrea Petkovic in a three-setter to qualify for the elite eight Doha field, then didn't drop another set all week - including beating No.6 seed Kirilenko, 6-3 6-4, winning a routine first set then rallying from 0-4 in the second set to take the title.

"We showed some excellent tennis. I hope the crowd enjoyed it," Azarenka said. "Maria played really well and had a lot of motivation for her hometown final. The crowd was obviously behind her, but that just motivated me more."

It was Azarenka's second title of the year, following another Premier-level victory in Stanford. She now has five career WTA titles and a 5-6 record in finals.

"I'm happy to win another title," Azarenka said. "It brings me extra confidence for Doha. I have a flight there tonight so I'm excited to arrive on a high."

Kirilenko had blazed through the draw at her home tournament, losing just nine games en route to the final. Her result this week, in addition to her results over the last year, mean she will return to the world's Top 20 on this week's rankings, her 12th career week among the elite (she spent four weeks in the Top 20 in 2006 and seven more there in 2008). The Russian is now 5-4 in career finals.

"I really wanted to win this tournament but Vika was better than me today," Kirilenko said afterwards. "It's nice to finish the year with a great final. It gives me a desire to work harder and get better. I felt so much support from the crowd and it helped me all week to play well. I'm happy that from tomorrow I can put my racquets and tennis clothes away for a couple of weeks!"

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, the No.1 seeds in doubles, won their sixth title of the year together on Saturday, beating No.3 seeds Sara Errani and María José Martínez Sánchez, 6-3 2-6 10-6. It was Dulko and Pennetta's fifth Premier-level title of the season and gave them an extra push going into Doha, where they will also be the No.1 seeds in the four team competition.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kirilenko storms into final.

Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko set up an intriguing championship clash at the Kremlin Cup on Saturday, both cruising through their semifinal matches in straight sets.

Azarenka, the No.2 seed, was the first to advance, beating No.8 seed María José Martínez Sánchez, 6-3 6-3, her first win in their three career meetings. Azarenka was particularly strong on serve, losing just eight points in nine service games during the match - and holding at love four times.

"I'm pleased I could finally get some revenge against her," Azarenka said. "I was playing well today and not letting her play her game. I did some things on the court I was really proud of today too, especially the drop shots I pulled off!"

Azarenka beat Andrea Petkovic in her first match, a victory that put her in the field for the WTA Championships - Doha 2010 next week. That match went to three sets; she hasn't lost one since. "I was under pressure to qualify in that first match, but I've been so relaxed since then and have really enjoyed myself.

"This goes two ways. Some players don't need to play the week before a big tournament. For me, it's perfect to go there with matches under my belt."

Kirilenko, the No.6 seed, crushed Vera Dushevina in an all-Russian second semifinal, 6-1 6-1. She has now lost nine games in four matches this week.

"I'm very focused at this tournament and have a big desire to win here," Kirilenko said. "A lot of people came and supported me today, which gave me so much energy. When I go on court I want to show my best tennis. It's a lot of fun."

By virtue of reaching the final, Kirilenko is projected to return to the Top 20, an elite she has had nine career weeks in - next week would be her 10th. "I've been working hard with my dad for such a long time. It never pays off immediately, but this year I've played really well and I feel it's coming together at this event."

Azarenka will play her 11th career final (4-6 in her first 10) while Kirilenko will be in her ninth final (3-5). Kirilenko leads her head-to-head with Azarenka, 2-1, although Azarenka did win their most recent meeting.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maria Jose continues to find form.

María José Martínez Sánchez continued to revive the game that took her all the way to the Rome title earlier this year, easing past Dominika Cibulkova and into the semis of the $1,000,000 Kremlin Cup.

Martínez Sánchez won her third and biggest career title in Rome this year, subsequently breaking into the Top 20 for the first time. She began struggling with a right knee injury and missed two months in the summer - including having to pull out of Wimbledon - and didn't win back-to-back matches since June.

Until now. As the No.8 seed at the Kremlin Cup, a No.28-ranked Martínez Sánchez won her first two matches in three sets and on Friday afternoon rolled past her quarterfinal opponent, Cibulkova, 6-2 6-3, breaking serve three times in each set and closing the match out in an hour and 24 minutes.

Next up for Martínez Sánchez is No.2 seed Victoria Azarenka, who beat Alisa Kleybanova, 61 63. The match was hardly the rout the scoreline implied however, Kleybanova holding game point in six of the 12 games Azarenka won.

"Every game was tight," Kleybanova said. "Vika was playing great. She qualified for Doha this week and the pressure wasn't there anymore. She enjoyed the match and played freely. I did as much as I could but it wasn't easy to stay at my best the whole match. I made some mistakes on important points."

"I stuck to my game plan today. I played aggressively and didn't let her take control," Azarenka said. "I like the momentum I have right now. My next match will be a huge motivator as I have never beaten María José before."

Martínez Sánchez leads Azarenka in their head-to-head, 2-0, both of those matches coming this year, although one came via retirement.

The other semifinal will see an all-Russian duel between No.6 seed Maria Kirilenko and Vera Dushevina. Kirilenko needed just 65 minutes to beat qualifier Zarina Diyas, 6-1 6-2, while Dushevina saved four set points in the second set tie-break to beat another Russian, Anna Chakvetadze, 6-3 7-6(7).

Dushevina leads Kirilenko in their head-to-head, 3-1, although in their last meeting it was Kirilenko who prevailed in straight sets.

Azarenka and Kirilenko later took the court again for their doubles but lost to No.1 seeds Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, 7-6(3) 6-4. They face No.3 seeds Martínez Sánchez and Sara Errani in the doubles final.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Maria Sharapova, engaged.

It was confirmed by Associated Press, with later quotes from the lucky groom-to-be, Sasha Vujacic of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Prior to that, the engagement was also confirmed by Sharapova's agent, Max Eisenbud, who is probably gnashing his teeth at his big money-maker even contemplating settling down in a cushy courtside seat at Lakers games, playing the adoring spouse and forgetting all about her mega-million-dollar tennis career (we're kidding, folks).

According to TMZ, fiancé Vujacic proposed at his home in Manhattan Beach, Calif. on Tuesday. And Sharapova had been spotted with the ring, so obviously she said yes.

TMZ calls it "ginormous" (as is her fiancé, at 6-foot-7). It would have to be. The girl has champagne tastes ;-

"We are engaged and are both really happy," Vujacic said Thursday night. "It's good and now we can focus on other things."

He proposed on the one-year anniversary of the day they met. Awwwwwwwww. "It was probably old school," Vujacic said. "I had to do it like a gentlemen."

Have to say we're pretty shocked at this one, for a few reasons starting with the fact that it's a pretty emotional decision from the typically all-business Sharapova. But he's the first guy she's really been photographed with on a regular basis; if she had any serious relationships before, she hid them pretty well. Maybe she didn't. And she certainly looks pretty happy in most of the pics that have been circulated around.

And, you know, he's really tall, so the 6-foot-2 Sharapova can wear high heels, and not have to do the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes thing.

But for a career girl, there are issues.

For one, given their respective careers, they haven't spent a whole lot of time together during this brief courtship. In the grand scheme, they barely know each other.

For another, you hope Vujacic isn't too much of a macho guy when it comes to marriage. Somehow we can't see Sharapova sitting alongside gold-digging Laker wives like Vanessa (Kobe) Bryant and Khloe Kardashian (Lamar) Odom comparing bling and Botox procedures. Not to mention wanting kids immediately.

She's just not going to be around that much. She has a job, a pretty time-consuming one.

For another, Sharapova still has a lot of tennis left to play and, after a very challenging season, has a lot of work to do to get back to where she no doubt thinks she should be. This isn't exactly going to be your Justice of the Peace kind of wedding, we don't imagine. Some girls take an entire year off to plan these affairs.

For another, she's only 23. This isn't 1950; who gets married at that age any more? You don't have to. It's okay to live in sin and really get to know the guy you're thinking about spending your life with (she could take a page out of the book of countrywoman Elena Dementieva, who has been dating hockey player Maxim Afinogenov for eons, seems happy, and doesn't seem to have set a date).

Okay, Dr. Phil moment over.

Everything about Sharapova's career so far indicates that she almost always knows exactly what she's doing, and why she's doing it. A very smart cookie, that one.

Congratulations to the happy couple. And here's to a loooooooooong, looooooooong engagement

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kimiko stuns Sam to keep the records coming.

Kimiko Date Krumm made history on Friday, becoming the first 40-something in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour history to beat a Top 10 player, stunning No.8-ranked Sam Stosur in the quarters of the HP Open, 5-7 6-3 7-6(4).

Date Krumm, seeded No.6 at the International-level event, lost the first set but began mounting her comeback in the second set. She brought up her first match point leading 5-4 third set, but would eventually close the No.1 seed and defending champion out on her second match point in the breaker.

"I played very hard," Date Krumm said. "Sam is a very good player and she is different from the others - she has a very good serve and is very fast. I had to run a lot today but I was focused and knew I had nothing to lose."

"I had several chances to win, but Kimiko played very well today," Stosur said. "She moves very fast and hits very flat. She's doing really well."

Back in May, Date Krumm became the oldest woman ever to beat a Top 10 player with a French Open win over Dinara Safina at the age of 39 years, seven months and 26 days; at 40 years and 17 days, she broke her own record.

Next up for Date Krumm is No.3 seed Shahar Peer, who earlier on needed less than an hour to cruise past No.7 seed Iveta Benesova, 6-2 6-0.

Marion Bartoli, the No.2 seed, was the first to advance to the final four, firing six aces en route to a 6-1 6-2 win over Jill Craybas. Bartoli will be in her third semifinal of the season, having gone this far at Premier-level stops in Miami and Eastbourne (losing to Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka).

Standing in between Bartoli and her first final of the year will be Tamarine Tanasugarn, who won an all-unseeded match with Chang Kai-Chen, 6-3 2-6 6-4. Tanasugarn will be playing in her second semifinal of the year (she reached the final of Pattaya City, where she was runner-up to Vera Zvonareva).

Monday, October 11, 2010

'Heartbroken' Serena out for the season.

Serena Williams is 'devastated' after admitting she is unlikely to play again this season having failed to shake off a foot injury.

Williams has not played since July when she was forced to undergo surgery after cutting her foot in a restaurant, but announced last week she intended to play in the WTA Tour event in Linz this week.

But the 13-time grand slam champion, who will be replaced as world No. 1 by Caroline Wozniacki when the latest rankings are published on Monday, was forced to backtrack on her comeback plans after straining her foot in training.

"I have been training for many weeks to get back to playing tennis as quickly possible since my foot surgery in mid-July," Williams said in a statement on her official website.

"Yesterday I learned that I had tried too hard, and did too much too soon. After practising yesterday morning I felt discomfort in my foot and tests by my doctor revealed that I had unfortunately re-strained it, as a result of over-training."

Williams will almost certainly miss the WTA year-end championships in Doha later this month, and will be unavailable for the USA's Fed Cup final clash against Italy.

"I am likely out for the year now," she admitted. "I was really looking forward to beginning my comeback in Linz, followed by the year-end championships in Doha. I feel completely heartbroken, and devastated, but I plan on coming back stronger and better."

The news comes just a week after her sister Venus confirmed she would not play again this season.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vera and Caroline set for title battle.

Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, two of the hottest players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this year, moved into the final of the China Open with straight sets wins on Saturday afternoon.

Zvonareva, the No.2 seed, was the first of the pair to advance to the title match, beating No.9 seed Li Na, 63 63, her fourth win in their seven career encounters.

"Li Na is a great player and she's playing at home. I was trying to do my best on the court and not pay attention to anything else," Zvonareva said. "She was taking a lot of risks today and she had some unforced errors, so I knew I had to just hang in there and try to counterpunch, get every single ball and fight."

Wozniacki, the No.1 seed, toughed out a tight first set then rolled over No.15 seed Shahar Peer in the second semi, 75 62. Wozniacki was up 5-2 in the first set and missed six set points as Peer evened it up at 5-5, but the Dane lost one point in the last two games to take a one set lead. Peer won the first two games of the second set but Wozniacki won six in a row for the win.

"I'm really happy to be in the finals. I've never been in the final in singles here before," said Wozniacki, a doubles champion here in Beijing two years ago with Anabel Medina Garrigues. "Vera's a good player, I'm a good player. It's going to be a difficult match, and we'll see what happens."

Zvonareva leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head, 3-2. In their last meeting, Zvonareva beat Wozniacki in the semifinals of the US Open last month, 64 63.

"It's always a challenge to play Caroline, but I like challenges," Zvonareva said. "US Open was in the past. Tomorrow is going to be a new day."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Serena Williams will return to tennis next week.

Serena Williams will return to the women’s tennis tour next week in Linz, Austria, after recovering from a foot injury that kept her out since July.

Williams, 29, said in a statement on the tournamant’s website today that she had “finally got the green light” after her doctor advised her against playing in Tokyo and Beijing because her fitness wasn’t 100 percent.

When she takes to the courts next week, Williams will be ranked the No. 2 player in the world behind Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, who earlier ensured she’ll take over as No. 1 by advancing to the quarterfinals at the China Open.

Williams, who has held the top spot for a total of 123 weeks during her career, hasn’t played since winning her 13th Grand Slam singles championship at Wimbledon. The American had foot surgery the same month after walking through glass at a restaurant in Munich, she told USA Today in September.

Williams is also expected to play in the Kremlin Cup the week after, held in Moscow. If she were to win both tournaments, depending on Caroline Wozniacki's China result she would again rise to top of women's tennis.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Azarenka and Schiavone first players into semi's

As eight becomes four at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Thursday, with Victoria Azarenka the first player to book her spot into the semifinals of the $2-million Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament.

Azarenka, seeded No.8, ended the run of American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe, winning five consecutive games from 1-2 in the first set and six straight from 0-1 in the second set for a 6-2 6-1 win. Azarenka has now gone one round better than in her debut appearance here last year, where she was a quarterfinalist.

"I played her in an exhibition match in the summer, so I knew a little bit about her," Azarenka said of Vandeweghe. "She has a big serve, plus she had won a lot of matches here, so I knew it would be tough. My game plan worked well today. She started very well in the beginning but I was able to focus and be aggressive and I'm really excited to be in my first semifinal here in Tokyo."

Next for Azarenka will be either No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki or No.6 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who played later in the day.

Vandeweghe, just 18 and ranked No.172, was playing her second career quarterfinal, having made it to the final eight at San Diego in the summer. She had upset No.14 seed Aravane Rezai en route to her match-up with Azarenka.

Francesca Schiavone, the No.5 seed, was the second player into the semifinals, outlasting Kaia Kanepi in a tight three-setter, 7-5 4-6 7-5. Schiavone missed a crosscourt backhand on her first match point at 5-4 but closed the match out two games later, finishing it on a big serve that drew a Kanepi return into the net. The marathon match lasted three hours and nine minutes.

Next for Schiavone will be either No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva or No.7 seed Elena Dementieva, who played the last match of the day.

Caroline into quaters and Doha.

Caroline Wozniacki stormed into the quarterfinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open as well as into the field of the WTA Championships, making her the first into the singles field of the season-ender in Doha.

Wozniacki, the No.1 seed in Tokyo, had never dropped a set to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and that trend continued on Wednesday evening, as she routed the No.16 seed in an hour and 10 minutes, 6-1 6-2.

After a year that has seen her win four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles and the US Open Series, as well as reach a career-high ranking of No.2, the 20-year-old Wozniacki qualified for Doha for the second consecutive year.

"It feels really good to qualify for the WTA Championships in Doha. I'm really happy I'm in the Top 8 and also I've qualified first, which is a special feeling," Wozniacki said after her win in Tokyo. "At the beginning of the year I was just hoping to qualify; it's great to reach one of my goals for this year."

Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik became the second doubles team to qualify for Doha later in the day, after Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta had already booked their spot in the four-team event this summer.

"Caroline and the team of Kveta and Katarina have had terrific seasons, highlighted by a series of titles," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the Tour. "Caroline's 2010 accomplishments have brought her to a career high ranking of No.2 and Kveta and Katarina are headed to Doha as a team for the first time in their careers. All three of these players are terrific ambassadors for the sport and I congratulate them on qualifying for the WTA Championships."

And the race to the Championships from Tokyo now gets less complicated and here it is:

Vera Zvonareva
reaches semifinals OR
Victoria Azarenka does not reach final AND neither Dementieva nor Radwanska wins title

Serena Williams
Victoria Azarenka does not reach final AND
Dementieva does not win title

Kim Clijsters
Victoria Azarenka does not reach final AND
Dementieva does not win title

Venus Williams
Victoria Azarenka does not reach semifinals AND
Dementieva does not reach final AND
Radwanska does not win title

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vera gets first win at Pan Pacific Open.

Playing her first match since her magical run to the US Open final, Vera Zvonareva was impressive in her opening match of the Toray Pan Pacific Open, dispatching Sara Errani in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.

Zvonareva was 0-2 at the Premier tournament, but as the No.2 seed this time there are more expectations and she shouldered them well on Tuesday, scoring her third win in as many career meetings with the feisty Italian.

In her two previous appearances at this event, Zvonareva lost opening matches in 2007(to Samantha Stosur) and 2009 (to Alisa Kleybanova).

Also scoring wins on Centre Court during the day were Victoria Azarenka and Elena Dementieva. Azarenka, the No.8 seed, improved to 5-0 in matches - and 10-0 in sets - against Lucie Safarova, 6-1 6-3, while Dementieva, seeded No.7, needed just 51 minutes to roll over Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-0 6-1.

"It was a nice and quick match," Dementieva said. "I played very aggressively and consistently the whole match. It's always good to get into a rhythm. There are a few big tournaments left so I want to play my best - no matter how well you do in the beginning of the year, it's always good to have a strong finish."

For the second straight day, rain forced the Centre Court roof to close and some matches to be sent indoors. "It has been tough not being able to practice because of the weather," Dementieva added. "All the girls were waiting hours for their matches, so I was lucky to play under the roof of Centre Court."

Kimiko Date Krumm continued her run while leading Daniela Hantuchova 2-6 6-0 4-0, when Daniela was forced to retire.

Samantha Stosur, Shahar Pe'er and Svetlana Kuznetsova were the only seeded players to fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Defending champion Sharapova sent packing by Date Krumm

One day shy of her 40th birthday Kimiko Date Krumm had ousted Defending champion and former world number 1 Maria Sharapova 7-5 3-6 6-3 at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

After being down 2-3, 0-40 with Sharapova serving in the 3rd set the Vetran went a roll infront of her home crowed and even served out the match to love, in two hours and nien minutes. The loss will also see Sharapova fall out of the top 20.

Date Krumm has proven that she is more than worthy of being a "come back queen" especily at the age of forty. When Date Krumm decided to return to the tour two years ago (aged 37 then) she wasn't given a "free pass" like the Hingis', Clijsters' and Henins of the world get, she had to work her way back, it was no Wild Cards and qualifying all the way for th three time grand slam semi finalist and even having to qualify for ITF tournaments, she was give very few Wild Cards to smaller tournaments because she was a "nobody" to the tennis world.

Date Krumm rose back to the top 100 after winning in South Korea last year. And scince then the former world number four's comeback gained momentum after her twelve year break from the game. This year she has started getting to the later stages of tournaments and taking down big names, including top 20 wins over Virginie Razzano and Nadia Petrova in Australia, Dinara Safina at Roland Garros, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova last week in Seoul and now Sharapova, currently ranked No.15 in the world.

Sharapova said, "It takes a lot to come back and Kimiko is extremely fit."

Next for Date Krumm is Daniela Hantuchova, who won her first round match on Sunday. Date Krumm leads her head-to-head against Hantuchova, 1-0.

Rain has plagued most of the Play at Tokyo so far today with only one other match played so far with Yaroslava Shvedova downing Korean Wild Card Kurumi Nara 4-6 6-2 6-1.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maria survives 2nd set nerves to see off María

Li Na was forced to withdraw from the tournament before her match due to GI illness.

"My stomach felt terrible this morning. I was in a lot of pain and feeling very uncomfortable," Li, ranked No.12 in the world, said. "After my warm-up I was feeling even worse. I tried everything I could to play but unfortunately I was in too much pain. I want to apologize to all of my fans here in Tokyo. I always want to try my best for them here. I'm really hoping to come back next year."

Li was a semifinalist here last year: "I did well here last year and it's just so disappointing for me to have to pull out as I really wanted to put in a good performance this year. Hopefully I'll start feeling better in the next few days."

Li's opponent, Maria Kirilenko, instead played lucky loser María José Martínez Sánchez and won, 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1. Kirilenko looked headed for a straight set win as she built a 6-3 5-3 lead, even up 30-0 serving for the match at 6-3 5-4; she lost four points in a row from there, three on double faults, and eventually lost the set, but stormed through the decider to reach the second round.

No.16 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova edging Dominika Cibulkova, 7-5 7-5.

Kaia Kanepi, Daniela Hantuchova, Lucie Safarova, Alona Bondarenko, Andrea Petkovic, Olga Govortsova, Kateryna Bondarenko and qualifier Greta Arn also scored first round wins during the afternoon session.

Laura Robson to make first main draw appearance out of England.

Laura Robson reached the main draw of a WTA Tour event on foreign soil for the first time with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Romania’s Simona Halep, at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The 16-year-old Londoner, who beat world number 57 Anastasija Sevastova in the last round, sealed the win with a break in the final game of the decider.

Robson will play Greta Arn with the winner taking on Caroline Wozniacki.

Arn qualified for the tournament proper with a 6-0 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 defeat of British number one Elena Baltacha.

Robson made up a deficit of 127 ranking places in beating world number 100 Halep, but Baltacha found Arn in uncooperative mood once again.

Balata is ranked 56 places above the world number 106, but had succumbed in both their previous meetings, most recently in qualifying in Rome earlier this season.

World number 41 Jarmila Groth also failed to make her way into the tournament proper after 18-year-old Coco Vandeweghe of the United States won their encounter 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

World number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the tournament, which begins on Sunday, as she continues to recover from a foot injury, but the field remains very strong.

World number two Wozniacki is the top seed with US Open runner-up Vera Zvonareva, world number six Jelena Jankovic, French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and defending champion Maria Sharapova among the entrants.

In the Korea Open in Seoul, Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic advanced to the final as top seed Nadia Petrova retired from the opening set of their semi-final with the score at 4-5.

The unseeded Zakopalova will play Alisa Kleybanova in the final after the Russian overcame Hungary's Agnes Szavay 6-3 6-2.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Serena pulls out of China, still likely to qualify for Year End Championships.

Serena Williams may have only played in six tournaments this year but she still looks good to qualify for Doha, even after now pulling out of the China Open.

These are the following senarios that could see six playaers qualify after Tokyo;
Caroline Wozniacki
- needs to reach quarterfinals OR Azarenka does not win title
Vera Zvonareva
- needs to reach semifinals OR Azarenka does not reach final and neither Dementieva, Li, Peer, Radwanska nor Petrova (if reaches Seoul final) wins title
Samantha Stosur
- needs to win title
Serena Williams
- Azarenka does not reach final AND neither Li nor Dementieva wins title
Kim Clijsters
- Azarenka does not reach final AND neither Li, Dementieva nor Petrova (if wins Seoul title) wins title
Venus Williams
- will qualify unless one of following three things happens:
i) Azarenka reaches semifinals
ii) Li or Dementieva reaches final
iii) Radwanska, Peer, Sharapova, Rezai or Petrova wins title.

How ever, According to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, in Serena’s absence from both Asian events, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva both have a mathematical chance of seizing the No.1 spot, but not until the week of the Beijing tournament (4-10 October). The 19-year-old Dane, runner-up at the US Open last year, will have three opportunities to become the first Dane to be ranked No.1 in the world: if she wins Beijing (regardless of her result in Tokyo), if she reaches the semi-finals or better in Tokyo and the final in Beijing, or, if she wins Tokyo and makes the quarter-finals or better in Beijing.

In the event that Wozniacki does not achieve either of the three scenarios, should Zvonareva win both titles, or reach the final in Tokyo and win the Beijing tournament, she will overtake Serena as the world No.1.

If Serena were to retain top spot and qualify for Doha, I think it shows how Dominate she is, even in playing just six tournaments.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Serena Williams withdraws from Pan Pacific Open.

Tennis fans in Japan will have to wait at least one more year before they can see Serena Williams in action, after she has not returned to Tokyo after her 2002 title.

Williams has withdrawn from the Toray Pan Pacific Open, set to begin next week at Ariake Tennis Forest Park in Tokyo, due to her ongoing recovery from surgery on her right foot two months ago. It has been eight years since the 28-year-old Williams last played in Japan.

The number-one ranked women’s tennis player cut her right foot on broken glass at a restaurant in Munich on 7 July and has not played since. Immediately after the incident, Williams received stitches on her foot. It was about one week later when Williams underwent surgery on a lacerated tendon on her right foot 15 July in Los Angeles.

The odd injury forced the 13-time major champion to withdraw from every summer event she was scheduled to play in, including tournaments in Istanbul, Cincinnati, and Montreal. She did not participate in this year’s U.S. Open in New York City, where a controversial tirade aimed at a lineswoman during last year’s semi-final ended up costing her a spot in the final.

She said she still plans on playing in the Fed Cup final against Italy in November.

Her 13 major titles, which include five victories at the Australian Open and four at Wimbledon, ranks her sixth in career major victories. She won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, which upped her WTA career win total to 37.

Even though the tournament has lost its top draw, there is no shortage of top-tier players set to take the court. Second-ranked player Caroline Wozniacki, fourth-ranked Vera Zvonareva, and French Open champion Francesca Schiavone will all participate in the event. Maria Sharapova, who won the title last year, will be back to defend her title.