Monday, February 28, 2011

Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko become joint No.1's

Flavia Pennetta is the first Italian tennis player, male or female, to reach No.1, joining Argentina's Gisela Dulko as co-No.1 doubles players on the WTA.

Dulko and Pennetta won seven WTA doubles titles together last year, including the WTA Championships - Doha 2010. This year, Pennetta and Dulko won their first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, rallying from 6-2 4-1 down to win a nail-biting title match against Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko.

Until now, no Italian on the ATP World Tour or WTA has been No.1 in either singles or doubles. The highest an Italian has achieved is No.4, shared between Adriano Panatta (ATP World Tour) and Francesca Schiavone (WTA).

Dulko, who rose to No.1 on November 1, 2010 and has held the top spot alone since then, was thrilled when told the news in Acapulco. "Without Flavia I couldn't be there. We always wanted that to happen," the Argentine said. "It's the best thing in the world because we both deserve to be No.1. It's amazing."

Dulko and Pennetta's co-No.1 status is the sixth time since doubles rankings were introduced on September 10, 1984 that two players will share No.1:

Lisa Raymond & Rennae Stubbs
(3 weeks from August 21 to September 10, 2000)
Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suarez
(3 weeks from August 2 to August 22, 2004)
Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
(39 weeks from July 10, 2006 to April 8, 2007)
Cara Black & Liezel Huber
(127 weeks from November 12, 2007 to April 18, 2010)
Serena Williams & Venus Williams
(8 weeks from June 7 to August 1, 2010)
Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
(starting February 28, 2011...)

Serena gets cast off, aim to be back before French Open.

Serena Williams is looking forward to getting back to her dominating best.

The tennis champ says she’s gotten the cast off her foot after eight months and will start training right away.

Williams had surgery after cutting her foot on broken glass following her win at Wimbledon last July.

“I finally had the cast taken off a few days ago,” she told the New York Post newspaper. “I have been wearing it for so many months, so I am so happy.

“My foot feels good and I’m starting to train right away, and I intend to be back for the French Open [in May]. And I have so missed wearing heels, I can’t wait to get them back on!

“I just try to stay positive.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vera downs No.1 Caro to take Doha final.

Caroline Wozniacki seemed unstoppable in the Middle East - that is, until she faced Vera Zvonareva. After back-to-back nail-biters in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Zvonareva saved her best for last, stunning the No.1-ranked Wozniacki in straight sets in the final of the Qatar Ladies Open.

Although she was seeded No.2, Zvonareva was flying under the radar somewhat, with No.1 seed Wozniacki having won Dubai last week and making the final of Doha this week without losing a set. And after rallying from 3-5 in the third to get past Daniela Hantuchova in the quarters and scoring another three set win over Jelena Jankovic in the semis, some questioned if she had any gas left.

She did. Zvonareva broke for a 2-1 lead and didn't let go of her serve until she won the first set; she then took six of eight games from 2-4 in the second set to prevail, 6-4 6-4. It was her third win over a reigning No.1, first in straight sets.

"Caroline is No.1 and playing very well. I was just fighting for every point and trying to go for my shots," said Zvonareva, who had 30 winners in the match. "This is definitely a special moment for me, especially after that tough match against Daniela and another great one against Jelena. I have so many fans here it's unbelievable. Because of them I was able to come through this week."

Zvonareva had surprise losses in her last two tournaments, falling to Hantuchova in the semifinals of Pattaya City and to Alisa Kleybanova in the third round of Dubai. But she rebounded in a big way in Doha. "Coming into this tournament I wasn't expecting to end my week like this. It's great," the Russian added. "Congratulations to Caroline, though. She's a great player and a great fighter. I'm sure we'll have a lot of good matches. This has been an unbelievable event."

Zvonareva picked up her 11th WTA title, but more importantly her first in over a year (her last title came at Pattaya City, a year and two weeks ago).

Wozniacki's winning WTA finals record was cut down to 13-9. "I'm always disappointed to lose but I played a great competitor today," said Wozniacki, now 4-4 lifetime against Zvonareva. "Vera played a great match and a great tournament. I'm happy to be in the finals; it was another great tournament for me and I always enjoy being back in Doha. I will be back next year for sure."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Justine Henin admits she cheated Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters.

Eight years later and Serena Williams and Justine Henin are still looking for closure.

"Question,'' Williams wrote on her Twitter account. "I keep hearing about admittance to someone cheating me & lying about it after at the French open? Did she confess finally?''

Well that "someone'' Williams could not bring herself to say was Henin. And if Williams were truly interested in finding out if Henin had fessed up to what happened at the 2003 French Open, the infamous Hand Incident, then Williams could have just Googled it. Instead, she wrote it in a question with very pointed words to her two million Twitter followers, including media members who would make those words even more public.

So this was about sending a message. For some reason, Henin did talk about it, and other controversial moments in her career, in a TV interview in Belgium. She is acknowledging wrongdoing in several things, possibly for closure, while taking a slow exit from the stage since retiring last month.
"It's true,'' Henin said about the Hand Incident Wednesday, "that is not my best memory.''

I'll get into the specifics in a minute. But this is an amazing example of how a small, somewhat insignificant moment can escalate over the years, blow up into hard feelings and rivalry and probably even hatred. It all shows in the fact that both of them still feel the need to talk about it now.

In Henin's case, I assume it has been eating at her. I wouldn't say she cheated exactly, to use Williams' word, but what she did was provide a shocking example of terrible sportsmanship. It would define her in several ways for the rest of her career.

In Williams' case, I think she has let the discussion build up and re-shape the facts in her head. Henin was the one in the wrong that day, but somehow, that moment has grown over the year's into something that cost Williams a major championship.

Where she really was robbed was the 2004 U.S. Open quarterfinals against Jennifer Capriati. That match was one terrible call after another at crucial moments. Maybe she has some peace over that one because U.S. Open officials apologized publicly to her. And that match is seen as leading to the use of electronic line calling.

Henin had never acknowledged doing anything wrong to Williams, and sometimes you just want to hear someone admit it.

Those two moments surely added to her distrust regarding the 2009 U.S. Open, when she "foot-faulted" and then went into an f-bomb laced, threatening tirade against the line judge who called it. The buzz and talk about that has swirled in Williams' head, too, changing truth. I believe she did not foot fault that day, but I wasn't there to judge.

You can see the hand incident at about 3:50, Justine was very much at fault.

"Perhaps I should have said that I raised my hand,'' Henin said this week, "even though, in honesty, I still think that it didn't change the course of the match.''

Henin seemed to say that the Williams sisters played games of intimidation, and that she was using the incident at the time to stand tall against Serena and show that she couldn't be pushed around.

Last year, Serena played Jelena Jankovic, and was so concerned that Jankovic might think she was doing something unsportsmanlike – she was not -- that when they shook hands at the net afterward, she said, "Don't think I would do that. I'm not Justine.''

Oh, and if coming clean on the hand incident wasn’t enough, Henin admits now that she cheated on a 2004 call in the Australian Open finals against Kim Clijsters. She’s not exactly the most sportsmanlike person around, and she drops in my book for that reason.

Serena Williams withdraws from NIKE Clash of the Champions.

Serena Williams won’t be playing in the Nike Clash of Champions, an event she was going to share with Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on March 8 at the University of Oregon campus.

The event sold out in a matter of moments, but instead will just be another footnote in the Serena saga. Her streak off the tennis court is about to enter its eighth month.

Victoria Azarenka, currently ranked ninth in the world, will replace Williams in the event.

"I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to play at the NIKE Clash of the Champions as I had anticipated," Williams said.

"I’m thrilled, however, to still be able to participate in the Family Tennis Festival and in the exhibition as a referee during the mixed doubles. This is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime event and I’m honored to be able to share my love of tennis with Pacific Northwest fans, and to thank Nike tennis for all their continuous support.”

It’s a good bet that those fans who spent $25-$85 to gobble the 12,000 tickets up in 11 minutes are slightly less “thrilled” to see the 13-time Grand Slam singles winner as a referee instead of on the court playing.

No disrespect to Azarenka, but when you’ve never made it past the quarterfinal at any of the Slams, do you really qualify as a "champion?"

While Nike was clearly limited to players on its own label, reaching out to Serena’s sister Venus, Kim Clijsters, Francesca Schiavone, Vera Zvonareva or Caroline Wozniacki would have been the smarter play.

Azarenka has matched Sharapova 2-2 in their four career meetings, but it’s a far cry from the rivalry between Sharapova and Williams, which includes two Grand Slam finals and one semifinal.

Now down to 11th in the rankings, Williams has until Rome in early May before she loses any more points off her ranking. Ironically, if she can make it back by then, and in reasonably good shape, she can make up most of the points she will lose simply by playing the season schedule from July on after missing everything post-Wimbledon in 2010.

Caro and Vera to battle for Doha title.

Caroline Wozniacki had lost her last two meetings with Marion Bartoli in straight sets but she was not about to let that happen again in the semifinals of the Qatar Ladies Open, routing the Frenchwoman, 6-1 6-1.

In 65 minutes, Wozniacki never let Bartoli into the match, breaking her serve six times to avenge routine losses at Stuttgart in 2009 and Cincinnati in 2010.

"If you've played well and had a tough three set battle, it's a great feeling to win. But winning like this is amazing too," Wozniacki said. "It means I'm playing at a high level. I'm hitting the ball well. I'm really pleased with my performance."

"Caroline is No.1, you expect that kind of performance," Bartoli said. "You have to work really hard for each point. And even when you work really hard, she can come up with great passing shots. She was too good and I made more mistakes than usual. She was putting so much pressure with her defense."

The No.1-seeded Wozniacki commented on her potential opponents in the final, No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva or No.5 seed Jelena Jankovic.

"It doesn't matter to me who I play, I'll go out there and just fight," Wozniacki said. "I don't know if I'll win. They are two tough competitors."

Zvonareva was able to make it past an in-form Jankovic in the second semifinal, cruising to a 6-1 2-2 lead before running into some problems, losing four games in a row to drop the second set and facing triple break point at 4-all, 0-40 in the third; but the Russian had beaten the Serb four times in a row and made that five by winning nine of the last 11 points of the last match on the schedule.

Wozniacki is 13-6 in career finals on the WTA; Zvonareva is 10-16.

Wozniacki leads Zvonareva in their head-to-head series, 4-3. The pair met five times in 2010, with Wozniacki winning three of those five meetings.

Friday, February 25, 2011

WTA Tour Insights back from vacation!

Hello all! I have returned from my little ski holiday! And I have photos to share!

Not as many as I would have hoped because I kind of lost my camera after the first two days :\ Ahahaha.

 As you do...
 We were a little too cool!
 Not so much fun :\
 The lodge :D
And sweet view!

Wish I had more photos to share, but my camera is probably buried by ten feet of snow by now! I promise the same thing wont happen again in LA!

Can't wait to get back to updating you with the latest in tennis news! Hope you have had fun, and been rooting against the bunny extra hard for me! :)

While Im here I tip Bartoli over the Bunny and JJ over Vera!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Patty Schnyder has always played amongst the Greats of the Game, and is now talking down retirement speculation.

When Patty Schnyder began her professional career in 1993, Steffi Graf was reigning over women's tennis. She has seen many greats come and go and the women's tour has changed beyond recognition.

"It's very special for me. I was lucky to be among the big move of women's tennis, just to get so popular, with all the stars I have played," Schnyder, 32, said after her 3-6, 4-6 third-round loss to Samantha Stosur yesterday.

"Actually I have beaten almost all of them. So it makes me proud to be such a long-time part of the top players, the top athletes of the world."

Schnyder has never reached higher than No 7 in the world (in 2005), but she has been among the most consistent players on the tour with 11 WTA titles.

She also has victories over almost every world No 1 - her victims include Graf, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki.

But while the Swiss is proud of the career she has had, she is not happy with the way the women's game has changed over the past few years.

"The balls are getting so heavy and the courts are so slow," Schnyder said. "That's just the main factor that's bad for my game especially. It's taking a lot of energy out of the women's side.

"It's just a development coming from the men's [game], because they have only serving. They are trying to adjust the balls and courts for men's standard.

"I think it's not very good for women's tennis. Things like variation and the different type of players is suffering a lot on the women's side at the moment.

"Everyone is playing the same now. If you see the rallies, it's not as interesting as it was five or eight years ago."

Schnyder, however, is still hanging in there and has not decided a date for her departure from the tour. She will be travelling to Acapulco in Mexico for her next tournament and will be playing in three tournaments in the United States - in Indian Wells, Key Biscayne and Charleston - over the next two months.

"I just want to take a couple of months together and then decide what I am doing," she said. "I am going to decide, not like in months, but when I have a stretch of some tournaments in a row. I'll take it and then I will go on from there.

"For me it's not a big deal. It [retirement] is not the first thing I think of when I go on the court, or it overcomes me during a match when I am losing. I am not that kind of a sentimental person. I just do what I want to do and enjoy myself.

"I know whatever I decide, it's the right thing I am going to decide. That's not a problem."

Top starts to battle in Team Tennis.

Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Williams sisters, Davenport will be clashing between each other in this summer at World Team Tennis Pro League. The WTA world no.1 player in the past as well as in the present will be competing in the World Pro League.

As per the marquee player draft, which was released on Tuesday, 15th 2011. The world no.1 seeded players, who are in the contest, are Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Anna Kournikova and the upcoming player Melanie Oudin will be playing in the World Team Tennis Pro League.

Martin Hingis, the former world no.1 will be joining in the with a co-ed line-up that in a group of 765 professional tour singles and doubles titles, including 122 Grand Slam championships and six Olympic gold medals.

Hingis will return to the New York Sportimes after of 5-years, earlier Hingis had won the WTT title in 2005.

Martina Hingis, the Swiss player and the former world no.1, who has been retired form the professional tennis player in 2007, will be back in the after 4- years on the tennis court. She won five Grand Slam singles titles three one Wimbledon, one US Open and Australian Opens.

Along with the top seeded player, Melanie Oudin, US rising star makes her WTT debut for the Philadelphia Freedoms, having been drafted as their first picker to clash at World Team Tennis Pro League.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A look back at the Disgusting 2001 Indian Wells onslaught.

Ten years ago this March, the Williams sisters were to play against one another in a semifinal match at the Indian Wells Masters Tennis Tournament in California.

In the quarters, Serena, who at that time was only 19 years old, had beaten veteran player Lindsay Davenport 6-1, 6-2, while her older sister Venus defeated Elena Dementieva in a long, drawn-out match that left her with heat exhaustion and an injured knee.

Long story short, there was a lot of hype put out for this sisters semifinal.

So the stadium was packed, sponsors and fans flocked in to promote and watch it, and up until five minutes before the match was to take place, there was no public indication that Venus might have to bow out.

Venus had hoped that a night's rest might help heal her sore body, but that wasn't the case.

She told the trainer as she arrived early at the stadium that she didn't think she could play.

Venus didn't want to withdraw, but she didn't want to risk serious injury.

The powers-that-be kept putting her off, hoping that somehow she'd recover enough to give it a shot.

Yet two hours before the match was scheduled, the officials knew Venus could not go on but waited until the stadium was full to make the announcement.

Call it miscommunication, bad decision-making or lack of leadership on the tournament director's part, the crowd was very unhappy.

And if you'd planned your day around this match, purchased special tickets, obtained an expensive hotel room and driven who knows how long to get to the stadium, to then find out the match wasn't going to take place minutes before it was to begin - you too might have been a bit emotionally out of sorts.

Guess who took the heat?

It should have been the tournament officials, but they stayed mute while the Williams sisters and their father were caught in a controversy of suggestive questions and bad PR.

Serena was scheduled to play 17-year-old Kim Clijsters in the finals.

Clijsters, the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2000, was a person Serena had beaten several times before, but what Williams didn't take into account was that the crowd was going to become a mob...aimed at her from the moment she entered the stadium and throughout the match.
Serena had this to say, "It wasn't coming from just (booing) one section. It was like the whole crowd got together and decided to boo all at once. The ugliness was just raining down on me, hard. I didn't know what to do."

"I looked up and all I could see was a sea of rich people. Mostly older, mostly white-standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob. I heard the N-word a couple times..."

Right before the match began, Serena's father and sister Venus walked down the long aisle to the players box, once again to a chorus of boos and worse.

Cheers and standing ovations for Kim during the match and wild boo's for Serena - even on unforced errors and double-faults.

Williams lost the first set 4-6, thinking there was no way she could survive this onslaught of terrible behavior, but somehow found the inner strength to turn the next two sets in her favor, 6-4, 6-2.

By the end of the match a good portion of the crowd had returned to support Serena's win, but the damage had been done.

As she left the court tears filled her eyes and her thoughts were of Althea Gibson and the trials and tribulations she went through during a period of much harsher conditions.

Since that time, the Williams sisters have boycotted this event, even though it's a mandatory tournament on the tour, meaning they could be fined.

"No, I won't go back. I will not give these people the validation. I will not stand down. It's a point of pride. I don't care what these folks say about me, about how I'm vindictive or stubborn or reading too much into the situation", Serena wrote in her book, "On The Line."

It was a sad day for tennis and what it stands for and from my profession I extend them the most sincere apology.

My hope is that Serena and Venus will someday look beyond that horrendous memory, knowing we've all learned a little more of what it takes in this life to become better people, and that it will continue to be a work in progress.

One bad week wont derail Jelena Dokic in road back to top.

One bad week is not going to matter, Australian Jelena Dokic said despite taking an early bow out of the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open on Tuesday.

"I think I've won around eight matches already this year on Tour, so I think I've had a good start. I'm just going to go on to next week and hopefully play better next week," she told media following her 6-2, 6-2 loss to Italian Flavia Pennetta on centre court on Tuesday afternoon".

"I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball badly at all. It was just very different conditions to what I played in last week [at the GDF Suez Open in Paris], and I only just arrived here two days back. So it's a bit tough to go from indoor to outdoor so quickly," Dokic said. I tried to save my energy as much as I could because I got sick and just hit once, so it was tough. So I'm not going to be too disappointed with this loss. Obviously, I would have liked to play better, but I'm going to go on to next week," the 27 year old promised.

This was the second time that the Australian has played in Dubai, with her debut in 2004 when she lost also in the first round.

Star field for Miami's 'Slam'.

Last year Kim Clijsters cut a swathe through one of the toughest fields on the calendar to capture the Sony Ericsson Open as the No.14 seed. Next month, the 27-year-old will return to Miami as the favorite - and possibly as the top seed - to defend her title against a line-up that again is worthy of a major.

Clijsters' run in 2010 included wins, in turn, over Petra Kvitova, Shahar Peer, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur, Justine Henin and finally Venus Williams. Notwithstanding her first round bye, it was arguably a more impressive feat than her sweep through Flushing Meadows later in the year.

With the exception of recently-retired Henin, all of those players will be back this time - and more of a threat than ever. After a great swing Down Under, Kvitova is the most recent addition to the Top 20, while Stosur is firmly established in the Top 10 and Peer is knocking on the door of that elite.

Indeed, 74 of the Top 75 women will be present in Miami - including five-time champion Serena Williams. Also in the mix at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park: three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, current world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, third-ranked Vera Zvonareva, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.

As well as top-flight tennis, not for nothing is the Sony Ericsson Open known as the 'Glam Slam'. High fashion, fine food, fabulous shopping and celebrity musical performances have given the tournament a reputation as the most glamorous on tour. This year will be no different.

Some of the biggest names in music, entertainment and sports have become familiar faces at the tennis fiesta: think Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Kim Kardashian, Anna Wintour, Jimmy Buffett, Shakira, Paulina Rubio, Alejandro Sanz, Kelly Rowland, Enrique Iglesias, Anna Kournikova, Jack Nicklaus, Dwyane Wade, Terrell Owens and Helio Castroneves.

Women's main draw action begins on March 22, with the singles final set for Saturday, April 2. Making up the 96-strong draw, there will be 12 qualifiers and eight wildcards.

Tickets can be purchased online at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A look at Tennis fashions and Serena Williams

 Serena and Venus Williams have always been known to bedazzle opponents with skill and power, but also fashion. Today we take a look back and some of the worse fashion choices by Serena, the younger Williams.                                                                                                                                                            

Number 1 - Orange micro mini mini shorts. Not the best decision for a tennis outfit. No matter how good your booty is, this is always a no! Serena, next time you think of something like this I recommend you first get a little more material!

 Green dress, yellow knee high tube socks? American! No its not Bethanie Matek Sands playing Fed Cup for Australia, its Serena playing in Rome 2003. Serena green and yellow are fine together but not when mixed with orange!
 For Serena's benefit I will not even comment.

                                                                                      For a while there Serena had a big thing for boots, but she was never allowed to play in them! Oh what a shame.
 Oh yeah, thats the outfit she wore with this, does anything need to be said?

Yes, that mesh thing that goes around her neck, is the thing that keeps her skirt up. Obviously draw strings aren't everyones cup of tea.
 Now a days Serena is relevantly tame when it comes to fashion stakes, just the occasional personalized earring.
 Well yeah there are fashionable jackets for Wimbledon too!

 Some people thought The US Open had fallen on Halloween in 2004, and Serena decided to dress up. But unfortunately it was not the case, and that this was intact Serena's outfit.

Sorry for the Wax Museum, but the original is always the best!
 Just incase we forgot who she was, Serena decided to remind us with her US Open jacket. She will need this one when she eventually comes back from injury...Wait Serena who?
 Boots also come in Pink.
 Miami beach 2010. Serena tends to add the "Wow Factor" to her off court outfits now, and this is defiantly no exception.
 Always wowing with the hair.
 The Catsuit...that led to to this retrospection.
 No, I was defiantly looking at the Gatorade bottle. Serena spices up her 2009 Wimbledon press conference, not only with this top but comments on Dinara Safina's world number one ranking, and how hard she had worked for it...winning Rome and Madrid.
The infamous beads.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Australian Open Petkorazzistyle

A look at Petkorazzi's Australian Open.

Oh yeah and this;

Enjoy :)

Li Na aims to take Chinese tennis to new height.

Li Na, the first Chinese player ever to reach a Grand Slam singles final, believes she can become the first from her country to reach the world's top five very soon. Li had a month's break after getting to within a dozen points of becoming one of the most sensational of all Australian Open champions.

The 28-year-old from Wuhan also left the impression that a major title is now well within her grasp, even though she tried to steer away from saying it. "Like I said before, Australia is over," Li said, whilst agreeing that her great Melbourne run had left her more confident than ever. "Now I have to start all over again."

"Hopefully I can be in the top five, because last year I didn't do well in Indian Wells and Miami," she said, referring to the paltry ten ranking points she will defend during these two big United States tournaments. I think I am a good player, but I forgot how to walk on the court," she said, delivering a scathing laugh at the memory of two first round defeats in 2010.

"Now I have more experience. I know what I should do on the court, and also my team pushes me a lot." Li was confronted by the allegation that seeking to climb only two places to a career-high number five did not represent great ambition. "I still have to do it step by step, right. It's easy to say something but tough to do it," she countered.

Li is also aware that other good players like Zhang Jie and Peng Shuai could usurp her position as China's number one and that her success has encouraged many more people to play tennis in China.

"I was in the (Australian Open) final and maybe some think they can do better than me," she said. "Maybe after three years (they can). China television showed the final, and they say that after it all the tennis courts were full."

Asked if she were now a role model, she said: "Something has of course changed. Maybe before I couldn't do that, because I didn't spend much time in China. But maybe I can do it better now. I would like children not only to look at what I do on the court, but how we are training, what we are doing, whether there is a team around me. They (Chinese children) are good, but sometimes they don't trust themselves. They say 'I want to be top hundred, I want to be top two hundred.' But (it comes) only from the mouth, not from the heart."

Li does enjoy her new-found fame. Asked if some Chinese athletes were taught to be modest and therefore shrank from the limelight, she commented "everyone is different, you know.

"Now I am famous in China but I can still do what I want to do. I don't have to think I can't do this or that. So I have a life for the fans, and a life for the other ones. I enjoy it very much. So I prefer to be famous, you know. After I am retired, it is back to normal life," the 28-year-old said, as though it were a warning to herself.

"I want to continue this life. I should hate it if I stop."

The Future?

Want to know who will take over the Willamses? Who will be the next American star?

Well this young girl has it all!

Its a good read, a little late, ahah, but important still!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How hungry is Kim for a serve of history?

It was appropriate that one match after she guaranteed her return to the WTA's No. 1 ranking, Kim Clijsters lost in the Paris final to a player outside the top 10.

Yes, as fast as you can say Petra Kvitova, it became clear early in this 2011 season that women's tennis is wide open.

"Kim's on top, but we're in a time where it's not like the Serena era or the Venus era or the Justine era," ESPN analyst Pam Shriver said earlier this week. "It shows you how it's up for grabs. People who don't follow the sport say, 'Well, Serena's No. 1.' Actually, she hasn't played since last July and, hey, it's February.

"What does it say? Work hard and you could win a major or be in the top five by the end of the year. That should make it pretty easy to motivate people. There are a lot of opportunities, great rewards, monetary and title-wise."

Clijsters is No. 1 for the first time since March 2006 -- a gap of 256 weeks, second all time to Serena Williams' 265-week sabbatical -- but, of course, she could lose that spot if Caroline Wozniacki gets to the semifinals in either Dubai or Doha. Only two players have won more than 80 percent of their matches since August 2009: Clijsters and Williams.

With Justine Henin officially retired (for the second time) and Venus Williams hobbled by a hip injury at age 30, a healthy Serena seems like the only player equipped to prevent Clijsters from winning another two or three majors by the end of 2012. But when will Serena, who turns 30 in September, return to health? When will she emerge from her layoff following last summer's foot injury? Officially, she's scheduled to play next month in Miami, but no one is convinced that will happen.

"We've got to start preparing for life after the Williams sisters," said U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez. "You can't deny the fact that their bodies are breaking down."

Clijsters has said she would like to leave the game after the 2012 Olympics to have a second child. But could she have imagined a time when she would be the favorite to win virtually every tournament she plays?

"Clijsters lost, what, her first four major finals?" Shriver said. "Now, after retiring, she's won her last four. Who saw that coming? It depends if she has the hunger for tennis history. Financially, she should be fine, but it comes down to this: How much does she love those moments that she had in September and a few weeks ago in Australia? By the [2012] Olympics, if she has five or six majors, how hungry is she for more rarefied air?"

Fernandez, a mother of two, doesn't see Clijsters lingering.

"She said she was leaving before and no one believed her," Fernandez said. "I believe this will be her last full season. She loves her life, but she wants to have more children. I think she'll wind down her schedule in 2012."

Outside of Clijsters -- and Serena? -- who has the best chance to take one of the three remaining Grand Slam singles titles? Wozniacki is the leading contender, but she needs to find a little more offense to go with those dazzling retrieving skills. Clearly, Kvitova, now ranked No. 14, has a bigger game. The 20-year-old Czech lefty beat Clijsters 6-4, 6-3 for her second title of the year. She showed some mental strength in overcoming a match point (against Barbora Strycova) in the second round and eluding a 5-3 third-set deficit to Yanina Wickmayer in the quarterfinals.

"If she continues to play like that," Clijsters said, "she will be top 10 before long. She is so much fitter and moves better than last year."

And what about Vera Zvonareva? At the age of 26, will she break through in a way that Elena Dementieva never did? Sam Stosur has the physical game to do it, but can she sustain her poise in the big moments? Li Na, who has also been to a major final, could contend at Wimbledon. And does Maria Sharapova, still only 23, have a few more Slams in her if she can rebuild her shoulder and serve?

Asked for a short list of emerging stars, Fernandez mentioned Kvitova, Bojana Jovanovski, Julia Goerges and Yanina Wickmayer.

"The state of the game shows you how hard it is to stay healthy week in and week out," Fernandez said. "How the new generation handles their schedules and their training will go a long way toward determining who's ultimately successful."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WTA Tour Insights taking one week vacation!

Dear Readers, I am about to embark on a ski trip. The trip had been planned for months, I unfortunately forgot to check the WTA Tour Schedule, so unfortunately I will be missing the Dubai finals, and most of the tournament in Doha.

The holiday will only be one week, so check back on friday the 25th of February to catch up again on the latest tennis news. In the meantime feel free to discuss the latest tennis results on other posts between your selves.

Luckily, I was organized enough to plan posts to put in while I am away! So there will still be some discussion to be had on other relevant tennis topics! Such as upcoming stars, fashions and other posts to attempt to entertain you!

To catch up on the latest tennis news while I am away you can check out Women's Tennis Blog or Forty Deuce or any other tennis blog you know of!

Caroline Regains top spot.

For some people, second place just isn't enough. Caroline Wozniacki seems to be one of those people - the Dane secured herself a return to the No.1 ranking at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday, beating Shahar Peer to move into the semifinals of the Premier event.

Wozniacki, the No.1 seed here, avenged a defeat to the Israeli from this very tournament last year with a routine 6-2 6-4 win. Peer had her chances - she actually had more break points during the match than Wozniacki (10 to 8) but the Dane hung on at those moments more tightly (Wozniacki was 6/8 on break points, Peer was 3/10). Wozniacki improved to 5-1 lifetime against Peer.

Next Monday, Wozniacki will begin her 19th career week as the No.1 player in the world, her first 18 coming between October 11, 2010 and February 13, 2011. On February 14, Kim Clijsters took No.1; it was short-lived, for now.

"I was very focused going into the match. I knew what I had to do," Wozniacki said. "Of course, it's nice to be back at No.1. It's a good feeling. Yeah, I gave Kim one week. Hopefully now I'll have it for a few more weeks.

"One of my best friends is here visiting with her family, so we're definitely going to have a nice dinner to celebrate, and then I'll prepare for tomorrow."

In the other three quarterfinal matches on Day 5 of the $2,050,000 tournament, No.4 seed Samantha Stosur lost to No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic 6-3 5-7 7-6(4), No.8 seed Agnieszka Radwanska lost No.16 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(7) 6-3 and No.11 seed Flavia Pennetta took down No.15 seed Alisa Kleybanova 6-2 6-0.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wickmayer upsets Li.

Li Na, Asia's first Grand Slam finalist, became the first big name to fall at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, losing a heartbreaker to Yanina Wickmayer on Centre Court Wednesday evening.

Li, the No.5 seed, seemed to have finally figured out Yanina Wickmayer as she built quadruple match point at 6-2 in their second set tie-break, but Wickmayer fought all of them off and wound up the winner, 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-2.

"The last time I played her I won 7-6 in the third, so I knew it was going to be tough," Wickmayer said. "She had four match points in a row - it wasn't easy to come back from that one. I kept fighting. I stayed aggressive and positive."

Wickmayer got her second Top 10 win over the No.7-ranked Li, having beaten a No.9-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in Fed Cup play last season.

"I also saved three match points against Radwanska," Wickmayer said. "I don't think I've ever saved four in a row. I knew I had to keep going for my shots."

Next up for Wickmayer won't be a Top 10 player, but the closest thing to that - No.11. Shahar Peer, the No.9 seed here, won their last meeting right here a year ago. "I've played Shahar a few times. She's a big fighter, so it won't be easy. But I'm not really thinking about tomorrow yet. It has been a really big one for me today and I'll think about that one tomorrow when I wake up."

Wickmayer leads Peer in their head-to-head series, 2-1.

Li was playing her first match since finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters in Melbourne. She rose to a career-high No.7 in the world afterwards.

Another one of the top seeds was in trouble but managed to get by, as No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki advanced past Anna Chakvetadze with a 6-1 3-5 retirement victory. Chakvetadze retired with a gastrointestinal illness.

"Suddenly I saw her collapse on the court. I didn't know what happened, so I went over to her. I wanted to know what was going on," Wozniacki said. "It was a shock. It was scary. She's a good friend of mine. It's not a nice sight. I wanted to make sure she was okay and the doctors went out as soon as possible."

Wozniacki can regain the No.1 ranking from Clijsters by reaching the semifinals this week. She next faces young Japanese qualifier Ayumi Morita.

The seeds were spotless during the day session. No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva rebounded from her semifinal loss in Pattaya City with a 6-3 6-1 win over Roberta Vinci; No.4 seed Samantha Stosur rolled past Pattaya City finalist Sara Errani, 6-0 6-1; No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic beat Chanelle Scheepers, 6-2 6-3; No.7 seed Victoria Azarenka scraped by Peng Shuai, 4-6 6-2 7-6(5); and No.8 seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat Anastasija Sevastova, 7-5 6-4. No.9 seed Shahar Peer, No.10 seed Marion Bartoli, No.11 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.12 seed Kaia Kanepi, No.15 seed Alisa Kleybanova, Patty Schnyder and Ayumi Morita also advanced to the round of 16 on Day 3.

Fran and Sveta set for Marathon match.

Playing her first WTA event since her run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, Francesca Schiavone looked fresh as a daisy as she won her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships opener against Zhang Shuai.

Schiavone, the No.3 seed, broke the Chinese qualifier in six of her eight service games en route to a routine 6-3 6-1 win. "It was not easy at the start because she was playing really well," the Italian said. "She had some chances at 3-all, but I served well and attacked. After that, I got a little more confidence."

Afterwards in her post-match press conference, Schiavone was told the TV commentators were comparing her game to that of former No.1 Justine Henin.

"It's fantastic, but I think we have a totally different kind of play. When someone sees a one-handed backhand, everybody thinks Justine and Francesca. But I put much more spin and use it to defend; she used it to attack. But I hope one day they will say, 'Ah, you have the same game as Francesca.'"

Down Under, Schiavone showed incredible fitness in a four-hour, 44-minute fourth round victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova, the longest women's Grand Slam match in the Open Era, before almost beating Caroline Wozniacki.

Next for Schiavone is none other than Kuznetsova, the No.16 seed here, and a 5-7 6-2 6-4 winner over Tsvetana Pironkova. The Italian was asked if they would play longer than in Melbourne. "I tell you, tomorrow, after two hours, I'm taking the racquet and putting it in the bag," the 30-year-old Italian joked.

"It was disappointing, but every single person who knows me watched that match and told me it was a great match," Kuznetsova said. "We always have long matches. It's an interesting match-up because we don't play boom-boom tennis. We play different kinds of spin, we run around. That's it.

"I have nothing to lose. She's the favorite. The pressure is on her."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chakvetadze stuns last weeks winner, Hantuchova. Kvitova taken down too.

Caroline Wozniacki's path to regain No.1 will open with Anna Chakvetadze, after the Russian beat Daniela Hantuchova in the first round.

In a battle between former Top 5 players, Chakvetadze was sharper on the day, completing a 6-1 6-3 win over Hantuchova, although the match was far tougher than the scoreline indicates - it lasted an hour and 31 minutes. Chakvetadze has now beaten Hantuchova four times in a row and was happy with her play.

"I guess Daniela just came from Asia and didn't have enough time to adapt to the jet lag and everything," Chakvetadze said. "I was trying my best today. I actually thought I wouldn't have a lot of chances to win, but it's a very big tournament and I really wanted to, so I was trying my best and it was working."

Wozniacki, ranked No.2 in the world and needing to reach the semifinals here to regain No.1, received a first round bye and will open her tournament against Chakvetadze. The Russian, who turns 24 next month, has been as high as No.5 in the world and although she is 0-3 against Wozniacki, she has pushed the Dane to three sets every time, two of them going to 6-4 in the third.

Ana Ivanovic, as she confesses, always has a song playing in her mind during matches. Last night, she must have probably started with a sweet melody, but then switched to some gloomy strain as she lost in three sets to Patty Schnyder.

Ivanovic was up a set and leading 3-0 in the second, when the music changed for her. A plethora of unforced errors followed and she eventually bowed out of the Dubai Duty Free Women's Tennis Championship 6-4, 6-7, 2-6.

"I especially like the way I came back," Schnyder said after her win. "I stuck to my game plan. I could not execute it though in the first set and a half I guess.

"She is such a tough player. She puts a lot of pressure with her serve. It's like up and down, but when it's in, it's really a big weapon. So I just tried to play the rally the way I wanted."

Schnyder started the match with an ace, but lost her serve in the fifth game. The Swiss, 32, however, fought back to level at 3-3, but Ivanovic got the break she needed in the ninth game and then served out for the set.

In the second set, Ivanovic got a break in the third, but dropped her serve in the sixth as Schynder took 12 of the 15 points in winning three games in a row. The set eventually went into the tiebreaker, which the Swiss won 7-2.

At 5-2, Ivanovic challenged a line call, but the chair umpire ruled she was late. The Serb got into an argument over it and from then on never looked the same player.

While Petra Kvitova came down to earth with a bump after beating Kim Clijsters to win the Paris Open as she crashed out in the first round in Dubai Tuesday.
The 13th-seeded Czech had breezed past new world number one Clijsters in straight sets Sunday for her third WTA career title.

But the trip to the Gulf region left her looking tired and jaded and she lost in two tie-break sets 7-6(2) 7-6(3) to Ayumi Morita, a Japanese qualifier.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kvitova stuns number one mum to take Paris title.

Showing that a world-beating Czech lefty isn't just a one-time occurrence, Petra Kvitova stormed to her biggest WTA title yet on Sunday afternoon, upsetting Kim Clijsters in the final of the Open GDF SUEZ, 6-4 6-3.

Kvitova, the No.4 seed, had barely made it into the final this week, rallying from a match point down against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the second round and clawing out of a 5-3 third set deficit against Yanina Wickmayer in the quarterfinals, too; but once she cleared those hurdles there was no stopping her, as she crushed Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the semifinals, 6-2 6-0, and scored the straight set win over No.1 seed Clijsters for her first Premier title.

"I'm very happy to win my second title of the year, and it doesn't get much better than beating the new No.1 in the final," Kvitova said. "I thought I played very well. I played my game, fast and aggressive, as I couldn't let her dominate. It's very special to defeat Kim in the final. I'd like to thank my team and I would like to dedicate this victory to my grandfather, who passed away last week."

Clijsters, No.2 this week but rising to No.1 on Monday by virtue of passing the quarterfinals here, was in good form but couldn't fend off the extreme aggression from Kvitova, who had lost to Clijsters handily in both previous meetings. The 20-year-old Czech was unrelenting on her service games, firing 10 aces throughout the match; she was also dangerous on the return, breaking serve five times.

In the end, Kvitova won her third career WTA title, having taken International-level titles at Hobart in 2009 and Brisbane early this season. She is now 3-1 in finals (she was runner-up at Linz in 2009, losing to Wickmayer in the final).

Clijsters, who had won her last 12 matches in a row (a stretch that included her Australian Open title run), is now 41-19 in career finals on the WTA. She will rise to No.1 on Monday, her 20th career week at the top of the rankings, but first in almost five years (her last stint there ended in March 2006).

"My opponent was just better today," Clijsters said. "I couldn't play my best because she put so much pressure on me. I had to go for it because if I put it in her hitting zone, she was dominating. If she continues to play like that, she will be Top 10 before long. She is so much fitter and moves better than last year."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hantuchova wins first title in four years.

Daniela Hantuchova made a welcome return to the WTA winner's circle on Sunday afternoon, claiming her fourth career title - and first in almost four years - at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand.

Hantuchova, the No.4 seed at the $220,000 tournament, didn't drop a set en route to the title, but it was by no means easy. Having lost to her in all three of their previous meetings, she edged Kimiko Date-Krumm in a tight two-setter in the second round, 7-6(3) 6-3, then came the semifinal battle with No.1 seed and two-time defending champion, Vera Zvonareva, which she also won, 7-6(3) 6-4.

"I kept fighting like crazy. I knew it would be a crazy match, she has confidence and experience," Hantuchova said. "She has been in so many finals and is such a fighter, but I played one of my best matches in the last few years."

"I wasn't happy with my game since the second round, and with such a good player like Daniela, you need to lift the level of your game," Zvonareva, ranked No.3 in the world, said. "I hope to come back. I love playing in Pattaya. I won here twice, everyone welcomes me, it's a great thing to have. So I hope I can."

In Sunday's final, Hantuchova was in crushing form against No.8 seed Sara Errani, hitting three times as many winners (18 to 6) and breaking serve six times en route to a 6-0 6-2 championship victory in an hour and 16 minutes.

Hantuchova's first three WTA titles came at Indian Wells in 2002 and 2007, as well as at Linz later in 2007. She is now 4-7 in career finals.

Kim and Kvitova set to battle for Paris title.

Kim Clijsters didn't come to Paris just to take back the No.1 ranking, she came to win the Open GDF SUEZ. The Belgian, whose quarterfinal win over Jelena Dokic Friday secured her a return to No.1 come Monday, survived Kaia Kanepi Saturday, 6-1 7-5, to reach the final of the Premier event.

Clijsters, the No.1 seed, cruised through the first set and was in all sorts of trouble in the second set, falling behind two breaks and 1-4, even facing set point at 4-5; but she closed Kanepi out, winning six of the last seven games.

Awaiting Clijsters in the final will be No.3 seed Petra Kvitova, who rebounded after a pair of marathons in her last two rounds and cruised past the unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-2 6-0. From 3-2, Kvitova won nine straight games.

"I felt very comfortable. I'm happy it was a shorter game today," Kvitova said. "I look forward to the final. Kim is the best player right now and I have nothing to lose. I will try to play my best. I enjoy big matches and finals on big courts."

This will be Kvitova's first career appearance in a Premier-level final.

Clijsters leads Kvitova in their head-to-head series, 2-0.

Daniela stops Vera's dream hat-trick.

What a difference a week makes: Last weekend, Daniela Hantuchova lost both her Fed Cup singles rubbers against the Czech Republic, and admitted to feeling short of match practice and uncomfortable on the court. But in the semifinals of the PTT Pattaya Open on Saturday, the 27-year-old was at her fluid best as she dispatched top seed and two-time defending champion Vera Zvonareva, 7-6(3) 6-4.

Hantuchova's opponent in Sunday's final will be eighth seed Sara Errani, who was first to advance at the expense of her close friend and fellow Italian, Roberta Vinci, 6-1 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Vinci was coming off a quarterfinal upset of No.2 seed Ana Ivanovic, but her serve was put under constant pressure by her 23-year-old compatriot. Keeping her own first service percentage above a healthy 70%, Errani converted on four of 11 break opportunities, with Vinci only able to claw back one break from three chances.

The second semi was a far more closely contested affair, games going on serve until 5-5 before Zvonareva drew first blood. But with the Russian serving for the first set at 6-5, fourth-seeded Hantuchova broke back to force a tie-break, which she clinched on her second set point when Zvonareva sent a ball long.

Set two followed a similar pattern until a confident Hantuchova, making clever use of angles and playing close to the lines, broke for 4-3. She then held for 5-3, and, helped by three double faults from Zvonareva, held three match points on the Russian's serve.

But a fired-up Zvonareva held on, forcing Hantuchova to serve for the match. This she eventually did on her fifth match point, but not before Zvonareva had relinquished three break back points - the last of which involved an overrule from the umpire and a protracted discussion between the player and the chair.

"I just fought like crazy for every point," said Hantuchova after registering her sixth career win over a Top 5 opponent (and first since 2007) and improving her record against Zvonareva to 2-4.

"She's No.3 in the world and she's a great fighter, very smart. But I think I played one of my best matches in the last few years. I don't know how I made some of the balls, especially the passing shot to go deuce in the 5-4 game… I think it was one of the best shots I ever hit."

Her defeat, which she attributed to lapses of focus and a classy opponent, brought an end to Zvonareva's 13-match winning streak at the Thai resort.

"I was not able to play at the level that I wanted, and against such as good player as Daniela you want to really lift the level of your game," Zvonareva said. "It's tough to say what's going to happen next year, but I love playing in Pattaya. I won here twice and when I arrive at the hotel everyone says to me welcome back home. It's a great thing, so hopefully I can come back."

Hantuchova holds a 2-1 head-to-head lead over Errani, their last meeting being at Cincinnati in 2009, which the Slovak won in three sets. Sunday's final marks her first since Monterrey almost 12 months ago; she'll be gunning for her first title since Linz in 2007, and fourth overall. Errani owns two WTA titles and is playing her first final since Portoroz in 2009.

"It feels great to be in another final… I just hope to go all the way this time," said Hantuchova. "It's been quite some time since my last title, so I'm really hungry for another one. The main thing tomorrow is to keep focused but also enjoy myself. "

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Williamses announce they will play Fed Cup tie in April.

Captain Mary Joe Fernandez knows the date and the opponent for the U.S. Fed Cup team's next match: April 16-17 against Germany.

Just who will make up her team is still to be determined.

If the USA, on the heels of Sunday's 4-1 first-round loss to Belgium, doesn't beat Germany, it means relegation from the top tier of women's tennis' annual international team competition.

The good news for Fernandez is that the top two Americans, Venus and Serena Williams, have said they want to participate. And, in fact, they must make themselves available to play this year if they hope to fulfill a stated goal of competing in the 2012 Olympics in London. ITF rules require that players fulfill Fed Cup obligations for Olympic consideration. The Williams sisters, who have not competed in Fed Cup since 2007, must fulfill obligations in 2011 and 2012.

The obligation for 2011 has not been filled, USTA spokesman Tim Curry said.

The bad news is that both are sidelined by injuries. Serena has not played a regulation match since Wimbledon because of a foot injury; Venus suffered an injury to the "psoas" muscle, which flexes the hip and spinal column, during the Australian Open last month.

If they are still injured in April, does that mean they won't have a chance to fulfill their obligation for 2011?

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Curry said.

Venus is recovering and on track to return in late March, Carlos Fleming, Venus' agent, said in an e-mail. Serena has said she will be ready to go in the spring.

"After being in the final the past two years, we had a tough draw to start off this season having to play Belgium in Antwerp with (Kim) Clijsters and (Yanina) Wickmayer," Fernandez said Wednesday. "Germany is a difficult opponent and tough place for us to have to travel to in the playoffs to stay in the World Group. Venus and Serena have made themselves available. As we get closer, we will find out if they are healthy enough to play."

The site and surface -- indoor clay, perhaps? -- will be announced later.

The USA, which has won a record 17 Fed Cup titles, reached the finals in 2009 and 2010, Fernandez's first two years as captain.

Fernandez relied on Melanie Oudin (currently ranked No. 61) and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (No. 48) for the heavy lifting in singles. Germany's top players are Andrea Petkovic (No. 24) and Julia Goerges (No. 34).

In other World Group playoffs, Spain will host France, Slovakia will host Serbia and Australia will host Ukraine.

Stats Corner: A long time between drinks.

Kim Clijsters' quarterfinal victory on Friday at the Open GDF SUEZ ensured that she will be No.1 in the world on the new rankings for the first time since March 2006, the icing on the cake of her spectacular comeback that began with her being unranked in August 2009.

Clijsters' 256 weeks between reigns at No.1 will be the second-longest stretch in WTA or ATP history, as she will surpass Andre Agassi's 177 weeks but will still trail Serena Williams' 265 weeks. So, who are the other WTA players who have had especially long stretches between time spent atop the rankings?

Player Time In Between Stints At No.1

Serena Williams 265 weeks: August 11,2003-September 7, 2008
Kim Clijsters 256 weeks: March 20, 2006-February 13, 2011
Chris Evert 156 weeks: June 14, 1982-June 9, 1985
Lindsay Davenport 144 weeks: January 14,2002-October 17, 2004
Kim Clijsters 116 weeks: November 10, 2003-January 29, 2006
Monica Seles 114 weeks: June 7, 1993-August 14, 1995
Justine Henin 113 weeks: September 13, 2004-November 12, 2006
Martina Navratilova 95 weeks: July 7, 1980-May 2, 1982
Steffi Graf 91 weeks: September 9, 1991-June 6, 1993
Amélie Mauresmo 74 weeks: October 18, 2004-March 19, 2006

Vera prevails, determined for third Thai triumph.

Last October, Ana Ivanovic beat Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the Generali Ladies Linz, before going on to end a two year title drought with victory over Patty Schnyder in the final. But the wily Italian found revenge in the quarterfinals of the PTT Pattaya Open on Friday, when she upset the second-seeded Serb in straight sets, 7-5 6-3.

Vinci, the No.5 seed, enjoyed particular success off Ivanovic's second serve, winning 68% of all such points. She also made superior use of her break point opportunities; both players had seven chances on their opponent's serve, but while Vinci capitalized on five occasions, Ivanovic could only convert twice.

"She played well, and I just struggled out there," said Ivanovic. "I created some chances but missed by a little bit on some important points. She's a tough opponent - she makes you play a few extra balls, and that's what I didn't do today. But it's good that I got some matches in this week - I can build on that."

In the semifinals Vinci faces her doubles partner, eighth seed Sara Errani, who recovered from a slow start against qualifier Galina Voskoboeva to prevail, 26 63 62. As the top seeds the two Italians are also through to the semis of the doubles event; on Saturday they will face Chang Kai-Chen and Sania Mirza for a place in the final.

The other singles semi will be between No.4 seed Daniela Hantuchova, who skipped past Akgul Amanmuradova in 51 minutes, 6-2 6-0, and top seed Vera Zvonareva, who won her 13th straight match in Pattaya at the expense of Peng Shuai. But the two-time defending champion was pushed to the brink by the in-form Chinese player, who had two break points for 5-3 in the final set before being reeled in by the Russian.

"She's always been a dangerous player, but especially this year, she's fitter and more confident," observed Zvonareva after her 6-4 4-6 6-4 win, which took just shy of two-and-a-half hours. "I just tried to fight for every point and figure out what I could do to bother her as much as possible. I was not trying to play perfect tennis… I was just trying to play smart."

The world No.3 added: "I'm a perfectionist, and I will probably never be happy until I play a perfect match and don't lose a point. But I definitely feel I improved from my second round match, and hopefully for the next one against Daniela I will improve even more."

Zvonareva owns a 4-1 head-to-head record against Hantuchova, although the Slovak won their last meeting on the hardcourts of Cincinnati in 2009. Vinci and Errani have only met twice on tour, with Vinci winning both of last year's encounters in three sets.

Kim gets back on top.

Kim Clijsters made an emphatic return to No.1, starting slowly against Jelena Dokic then absolutely steamrolling to reach the semis of the Open GDF SUEZ and secure herself the top spot come Monday.

Dokic, who won her way into the main draw through qualifying then scored her biggest wins in more than two years against Lucie Safarova and Nadia Petrova, came out on fire, scorching to a 3-0 lead. But the scare was short-lived, as Clijsters, the No.1 seed, reeled off 12 games in a row for a 6-3 6-0 win.

Clijsters will spend her 19th career week at No.1 next week. It has been 256 weeks since the last time she was No.1, the second-longest gap between stints at No.1 for both the WTA and the ATP World Tour (Serena Williams had 265).

Clijsters' first 10 weeks at No.1 came between August 11 and October 19, 2003 (she was displaced by Justine Henin). Her next two weeks came between October 27 and November 9, 2003 (she was again displaced by Henin). Years later, Clijsters spent seven more weeks at No.1 between January 30 and March 19, 2006 (this time displaced by Amélie Mauresmo, who retired at the end of the 2009 season and is now the Co-Tournament Director here in Paris).

Next up for Clijsters will be No.3 seed Kaia Kanepi or No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who played the second night match.

No.4 seed Petra Kvitova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands also made the semis. Kvitova rallied from 3-5 in the third to beat No.7 seed Yanina Wickmayer, 5-7 6-3 7-6(3), while Mattek-Sands upset No.6 seed Andrea Petkovic, 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3.

"I was a step or two away from each ball due to her aggressive play," Petkovic said. "I'm disappointed. I have to get used to playing so many matches and going further in tournaments. She played unbelievably at the end of the first set."

"It was a high-level match. Either of us could have won," Mattek-Sands said. "Andrea has been playing great and she's a cool person, but it was sweet revenge for our meeting at the US Open. I was planning to rush her because if she has time, she rips the ball. Kvitova is very confident at the moment and she'll be going for her shots. I'm going to play my game and be aggressive."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It hurts being world number 1.

It's been a rough couple of days for world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Late last month she blew a match point in the Australian Open semifinals and went on to lose to Li Na. It was her fifth straight Grand Slam without reaching the final. Then, this past weekend, Wozniacki was playing in a Federation Cup tie against Great Britain. She won her singles point and took to the court with 18-year-old Mai Grage for the decisive doubles match.

During the match, she was drilled in the face with a shot by Heather Watson.

Wozniacki took a brief medical timeout but returned to the court to finish the match. She and Grage lost, giving Great Britain the Group A victory.

To add insult to (literal) injury, Wozniacki is on the verge of losing her No. 1 ranking to Kim Clijsters this week. With two wins in Open Gaz de France, Clijsters will pass Wozniacki it WTA rankings points and be the new top-ranked player in the world when the rankings are released Monday.

Kim one win away from 1.

Kim Clijsters is now one win away from regaining the No.1 ranking, after scoring a three set win over Kristina Barrois on Wednesday.

Clijsters, currently No.2, came out slowly against the 78th-ranked Barrois, losing the first four games and eventually the first set. But she got back on track, needing just 53 minutes from there on for a 4-6 6-2 6-0 victory. The Belgian won the last nine games of the match and 17 of the last 19 points.

"I knew it would take time to get into the rhythm and get the feel for the ball," Clijsters said. "Slowly I got into the match and started being more aggressive. It's nice to be in Paris. I love the court here and the crowd is so welcoming."

In the quarterfinals, Clijsters will face either No.5 seed Nadia Petrova or qualifier Jelena Dokic, who play their second round match on Thursday. Dokic won her first round match against Lucie Safarova on Tuesday; Petrova rolled past French wildcard Virginie Razzano on Wednesday, 6-1 6-3.

If Clijsters beats Petrova or Dokic on Friday, she will return to No.1 next week.

In the only other second round match, No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova fended off a game Melanie Oudin, originally leading 6-4 5-3 but ending up closing it out in a tie-break, 6-4 7-6(5). Oudin was a semifinalist at this event last year.

Other first round winners were No.6 seed Andrea Petkovic, No.7 seed Yanina Wickmayer and Sofia Arvidsson. They play their second rounds Thursday.

My moment of Patriotism - Jelena Dokic wins in Paris.

Jelena Dokic posted a rare WTA tour victory in Paris as she renewed her bid to break back into the top echelon this year.

Dokic overcame Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 4-6 6-3 6-4 and fired down 11 aces but lost her serve twice as she advanced to the second round.

Dokic, who made the second round of the Australian Open last month, had to slog her way through qualifying to reach the main draw.

Dokic, ranked No. 120 in the world, has said she is confident of climbing to the top 30 given that she has few points to defend until July.

''I feel good about the year. I think I'm not in bad shape physically or mentally or with my tennis at all. Just certain things need work,'' she said after exiting the Open last month.