Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birthday girl Jarka wins Estroli opener.

A day after No.1 seed Alisa Kleybanova stormed through her opener at the Estoril Open, No.2 seed and birthday girl Jarmila Gajdosova did the same, winning nine straight games from 3-4 in the first set to beat 95th-ranked Renata Voracova over on Centralito, 6-4 6-0.

Gajdosova, ranked No.31 and celebrating her 24th birthday, cracked the match open midway through the first set with some hard hitting, firing eight aces in the match and cracking winners off both wings. The second set took 27 minutes.

The other seeds had mixed results. No.3 seed Klara Zakopalova fought from 1-4 in the second set to beat Spanish qualifier Beatriz García Vidagany, 6-4 7-6(3), while No.8 seed Greta Arn was also tested, going to three sets to get past Portuguese wildcard Maria Joao Koehler, 6-2 3-6 6-3. But No.4 seed and defending champion Anastasija Sevastova wasn't so fortunate, serving for the match at 7-5 6-5 but ultimately falling to Urszula Radwanska, 5-7 7-6(5) 6-1.

"I really like it here, it's a nice tournament, but I didn't play so well today," a disappointed Sevastova commented. "It's my mistake, it's my problem."

Anabel Medina Garrigues, Kristina Barrois and Anastasiya Yakimova also won as the first round wrapped up at the International-level tournament.

Introducing, MC S-Dogga to the Williams in the house!

Again it is proven, just about anything is possible these days...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goerges victorious in Home Open!

Rank outsider Julia Goerges of Germany stunned world number one Caroline Wozniacki 7-6, 6-3 overnight to win her first title of the year in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

Goerges outplayed her opponent, winner of three titles already this year, on the fast indoor clay court, giving the Dane no chance of a title she has yet to win.

After converting her second match point, Goerges sank to her feet and then lay flat on the red clay as the crowd cheered for the first German winner of the country's biggest women's tennis event since Anke Huber in 1994.

"I don't quite know how I did it," she beamed in a courtside interview.

"Against Caroline it feels like you always have a mountain to climb and I did it."

Goerges, who briefly had trouble starting the car she was given, had lost both previous encounters with the Dane.

On Sunday, however, Goerges pinned Wozniacki back from the start, playing the Dane's backhand constantly and forcing her into making errors.

The big-serving 22-year-old, ranked 32nd in the world, did not allow her 20-year-old opponent any chance to break and Wozniacki also struggled with Goerges's kicking serve.

With no break on either side the two went into a first-set tie-break and the German opened up a 5-2 lead when Wozniacki put a crosscourt forehand into the net.

She grabbed the first set on her second opportunity when Wozniacki sent another forehand long.

In the second set, the confident Goerges upped the pressure and broke Wozniacki to open up a 3-0 gap.

Wozniacki, who has yet to win a grand slam, finally got her first break points at 3-1 but Goerges's forehand and a volley gave the German a 4-1 lead.

Goerges missed one match point at 5-2 but had two more in the next game, clinching the second title of her career with a powerful serve that the Dane failed to return.

"Julia played very well, very aggressive and the balls were going in," said Wozniacki.

"I tried everything today but it did not work. I'll have to go back on the practice court and make things better."

"Hopefully we will have many more matches in the future."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The sovereign Queen of Clay, Her Royal Highness, Agnieszka Radwanska.

Agnieszka Radwanska has always been a player I feel has underachieved. While her friends and contemporaries Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka have gone onto much better things – rising to number one and reaching the top 5 respectfully, Radwanska has found herself beating most players she should beat and then being soundly beaten by the first elite player she meets.

She seems to think the same too, because so far this year a lightbulb seems to have flicked on. She used to play the role of a counterpuncher who stood far behind the baseline and beat players mostly through consistency. However, nowadays that variety seems to be the rule rather than a ploy to keep her opponents guessing. Against Schiavone she played some brilliant tennis, looking to take the initiative on every ball – whether it be to take it early and be aggressive, to hit a dropshot, to move forward and so on. That coupled with the new-found power on her serve, and this ‘new Agnieska’ really is a joy to watch.

Speaking of her contemporaries, there were mixed results for Wozniacki and Azarenka Wednesday. Top-seeded Wozniacki made light and easy work of Kristina Kucova. Her match made for quite hilarious watching as she toyed with her opponent for most of the match, and by the end she was experimenting with her two-handed dropshots and random forays to the net, with comical results. For Azarenka however, it was the complete opposite. After looking impressive in cleaning up the first set on Goerges, out of the blue she walked up to the net and retired, citing a shoulder injury.

But once again, the Germans ruled the roost in Stuttgart with Andrea Petkovic, Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges and Kristina Barrois all advancing to the quarterfinals, making it the first time since 1994 that four Germans made the quarters here. I had a chance to speak to Goerges after the match and she was understandably excited about her quarterfinal clash against Lisicki; “I think we are German rivals, but not in a bad way. We push each other, and it’s nice having a player from Germany in the semifinals, so we will see tomorrow.”

However, Petkovic once again stole the show in her own press conference. Speaking about her relationships with the top players, she said; “People really think we hate each other, but actually we’re all good friends. And you know what is funny? The top players are friendlier than other players sometimes [..] I cannot think of anyone I don’t get along with.” And then, with a wink and joked “and I’m still not Paris Hilton”.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome back, Li.

China's Li Na won her first match since losing in the final of the Australian Open in January after victory over Anastasija Sevastova at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Germany.

Li lost to Kim Clijsters in the first major of the year after becoming the first Asian player to reach a grand slam singles final.

She followed that defeat in Melbourne with four first round exits at tournaments in Dubai, Doha, Indian Wells and Miami before she finally ended her win drought in Stuttgart with a 6-2 6-3 triumph over her Latvian opponent.

"I'm excited. I've been waiting for this win for a long time," Li told the official WTA Tour web site. "I've been asking myself what I want to do and how I can get back on the winning track.

"Coming into this clay court season I knew I had to stand up and take charge."

Li said she was at a loss to explain her poor run of form that followed her Melbourne reverse: "I didn't know if I was the one who changed or it was the other players playing better against me.

"It was after Miami that we really thought hard about everything, but my team always stuck behind me and believed in me. Now I'm back and I'm so happy."

Li will face Dominika Cibulkova or German wildcard Sabine Lisicki in the second round.

Elsewhere, the number eight seed, Mario Bartoli, from France, eased past her first round opponent - Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova - 6-4 6-1.

German qualifier Kristina Barrois also made it into round two, after she disposed of the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova, 6-1 6-4.

Wimbledon to award record prize moeny for 2011 champions

Wimbledon organisers have revealed the winners of this year's tournament will be paid £1.1m (1,792,374 USD or 1,707,855 AUD...I think) - a rise of 10 per cent.

Last year the prize money for the men and women's singles champions exceeded £1m for the first time, as Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams triumphed.

The total prize fund for the 2011 tournament is £14.6m, an increase of 6.4 per cent from last year.

Nadal beat Tomas Berdych to win the men's title in 2010, while Williams overcame Vera Zvonareva.

Philip Brook, chairman of the All England Club which stages the event, said: "Leading international sports events such as Wimbledon are all about the quality of the players on show.

"It is important that we offer prize money which suitably rewards the players both for the box-office appeal they bring to the event and for their supreme performances on court."

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm back. I know y'all missed me.

I have returned from my little over a week stay in Poland to vist my great grandmother. It was a nice week, and great to spend time with ailing great grandmother. Getting back to my home land was also nice, and it tested my Polish out too! Ahaha. Seeing other family member who still live in Poland was also nice! In genral it was a lovly time, and hope to return very soon! Oh yes and I failed to mention earlier my mother also joined me on my voyage.

Happy Snaps:

Most AMAZING coffee and cake!

Bit of a fam snap, Me, Dziadek (great grandpa) and Mamma

Old Town, Warsaw

Great grandparent vile dogs.

Just being happy :D

More doggy

How I will arrive at my wedding


Dziadek's "leathal" home made vodka

Ma and ma

And again

Mountain cheese!

Delicious wanilla taste!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jarka's strong showing not enough to save Aussies.

Australia's women tennis players suffered a shock loss to Ukraine on Sunday to be dumped from the elite Fed Cup World Group. Ukraine won the play-off tie 3-2 to send Australia back to the lower tier World Group II.

Scores were level after the two reverse singles rubbers on Sunday, with Ukraine taking the crucial doubles rubber in three sets on a clay court in Melbourne. World number 30 Jarmila Groth gave Australia a 2-1 edge on the final day with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Lesia Tsurenko. However, Ukraine's Olga Savchuk levelled the tie when she beat Anastasia Rodionova 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (14-12).

In the doubles, Australia got off to a flying start, winning the first set 6-0 before Ukraine battled back to win the match and the tie with a 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory.

Despite the decision of world number six Sam Stosur to skip the tie to prepare for the French Open, Australia was confident of winning and captain David Taylor said his team was devastated to be sent reeling out of the World Group by just one point.

"I guess we'd hoped to win it in the singles and we realistically didn't think it would come down to the doubles," Taylor said.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Australia locked at 1-1 with Ukraine.

Australia and Ukraine are level at 1-1 after the first day of their Fed Cup World Group play-off. Jarmila Groth gave Australia a flying start when she crushed Ukraine's Olga Savchuk 6-1, 6-1 in the opening singles clash. World number 30 Groth took just 48 minutes to beat Savchuk and was never challenged from the moment she broke serve in the opening game. But in the second rubber, Australian number two Anastasia Rodionova, ranked 72 in the world, was upset by the 131-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-4. The winner of the tie will remain in the elite eight-nation World Group. Both the reverse singles and the doubles are scheduled for Sunday

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sveta's clay dream.

Consider the first few months of 2011 and they were definitely a case of what might have been for Svetlana Kuznetsova. The former world number two did reach the final of the WTA Premier level event in Dubai and also took part in that Australian Open fourth round epic with Francesca Schiavone. At 4 hours and 44 minutes, it was the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open era. But for someone so used to winning, Kuznetsova felt frustrated so many close matches went against her, not least against Schiavone in Melbourne: ‘A few points just didn’t go my way. I was working hard and nearly every event I felt like I was playing well enough to win the trophy. In Auckland, I was up a set and 5-3 against Peng Shuai. Then the Australian Open too – so many chances to win that match against Schiavone. But at least I was playing well, not like in 2010 when I felt I was far away from my best tennis a lot of the time.’

For Kuznetsova, the problem isn’t producing the tennis needed to beat the WTA’s top-ranked players. It’s more to do with some other things that are part and parcel of being a professional tennis player: ‘I have been working hard and I still love my game and still feel like I have a lot to give to tennis. But I am struggling a bit more with the travel and being away from home because I have been doing it all for a long time and I am getting older in tennis years now at 25. Take Indian Wells and Miami. I didn’t do that well this year, but I think that was because it was the ninth year I was playing in those places and I just could not get excited and felt bored. I need to find something different to inspire me in future, that’s for sure.’

If anything can retain Kuznetsova’s interest, it is a return to Europe and the red clay that has brought her so much past success. Victory at the 2009 French Open was the Russian’s second Grand Slam singles title – the highlight of a stellar clay court tear that year which also included a WTA Premier title in Stuttgart and a final in Rome. By comparison, Kuznetsova disappointed on the surface last season but she remains one of the few WTA players who appear to have a natural game for the dirt: ‘Sam Stosur and Schiavone are very good but I don’t think there are too many others who play a true clay court game. They’re more playing hard court tennis on a clay court. For example, Victoria (Azarenka) or Caroline (Wozniacki), they do ok but don’t really change their shots much for clay, say play shots higher over the net with more spin.

I don’t think some players struggle because they’re thinking the wrong tactics. It is more that their game is just not suited to clay. For example, if you look at Maria (Sharapova) she has tried to think a lot about how to play on clay. But her problem is her shots are hard and flat, as my game is more natural for clay because I play with more spin. But I still need to keep working hard to improve.’

Fed Cup also remains a huge motivation for the patriotic Kuznetsova. She has helped Russia win the coveted trophy three times before but with a semi-final against Italy in Moscow coming up, Kuznetsova is hungry for more: ‘We want revenge because last time we played them they kicked our butts in Italy! But now this time they will be without Flavia (Pennetta) and Francesca Schiavone. It still won’t be easy but we are at home and have a strong team.’
No one doubts Kuznetsova’s commitment to her country but the main area of uncertainty for many is if she can still be consistent enough to deliver at the highest level. Cue her typically honest response: ‘People know I am unpredictable, this is clear, it depends on the day! If I have a good day, then I can beat anyone, but my problem is being consistent. I dream of being as consistent as Caroline Wozniacki for the whole season, not just clay courts or whatever. If I had that I could achieve everything! If God could just give me two or three years of consistency like that for the whole season, then I could quit tennis very happy.’

She might not get her wish – but the reality is Kuznetsova remains one of the WTA’s biggest stars and a dangerous opponent for anyone in the clay court swing.

From On The Baseline

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kim Clijsters in serious doubt for French Open.

Kim Clijsters' participation in the French Open is in serious doubt after she injured her ankle at a wedding.

The Australian Open champion was on a break with shoulder and wrist problems when she severely strained medial and lateral ligaments in her right ankle.

She also tore the capsule of the ankle joint, and sustained both a haematoma and torn tendon sheath.

A statement on her website said: "Kim's presence in Paris is very uncertain. Her ankle is completely immobilised."

The French Open starts on 22 May, in exactly six weeks, and Clijsters' website stated: "Kim faces a recovery of at least four to six weeks."

The world number two's last competitive match was on 31 March, when she lost to the in-form Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Shortly after her exit from that event, the 27-year-old announced she would be out for a month to deal with shoulder and wrist problems, but her initial plans to return at the Italian Open in Rome in May will have to be revised.

Clijsters has twice been a losing finalist at the French Open, in 2001 and 2003. Last year an ankle injury forced her to miss the tournament.

Getting to know you...Getting to know all about you.

Sorry for the Julie Andrews lyrics, I just couldn't help my self.

Anyway, as I am new to this blog, I thought it could be nice to get to know you all, and you can get to know me! I want everyone who reads this blog to tell me about them selves!

Ill start!

My full name is Lucinda Grace Rose Perry, some people call me Elle, but I don't like that!

I live in Melbourne, Australia just like Emily, and even attented the same school as her. I was not in the same year level, but we did live in the same street when we were growing, so we have known each other for a while! (I am older by the way :P)

I grew up in a large family, I was one of 5 and I even have a twin sister.

I am currently doing my 2nd and 3rd degrees and University. I first studided Polical Sciences and am now undergoing a double degree of Law and Business Management.

I enjoy good coffee, good food and good wine! And I couldn't live without music!

I started playing tennis when I was 5 and to my fathers dissapointment I decided not to persue a career on tour, even though I am told I could have! I did however work as a tennis coach for 3 years. And have been following tennis nearly my whole life! Emily and I have had many heated dicussions over tennis in the past, and I am sure many more will follow!

My family is very multi-cultural on my father's side I am of English, Moroccan decent and on my mother's side I am of Greek, Romanian, English decent. And I was born in Mozambique while my family was in holiday, and grew up in Kenya for the first 3 years of my life as my Parents did charity work!

My favourite books are Great Expectations and To Kill A Mockingbird. I love watching movies on winter's nights while cacooned in bed. These movies range from horrors, comedy and dramam well pretty much anything! I love Audrey Hepburn movies, especially Breakfast at Tiffany's. But my other favourite movies include The Blind Side, Black Swan, and anything with Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Betty White or Tina Fey.

Well that's about all there is to know about me. Now tell be about you?

Vika to carack top 5.

Victoria Azarenka is set to crack into the WTA Tour's top five after crushing Irina-Camelia Begu in the Andalucia Tennis Experience final. The title - Azarenka's second in succession after she claimed the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami last week - will see the 21-year-old become the second Belarusian after Natasha Zvereva to make it to number five in the world rankings. Begu's dream run through the Marbella tournament came to a crashing halt in Sunday's final as Azarenka routed the Romanian qualifier 6-3 6-2 in 82 minutes. Begu, who had never won a main-draw match on the WTA Tour prior to the tournament, reached the last eight without dropping a set and upset sixth seed Klara Zakopalova and second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova to set up the clash with Azarenka. But the top seed was simply too good for Begu, punishing the Romanian's second serve to capitalise on seven of 11 break-point opportunities. Begu had a brief look-in after breaking Azarenka in the first game of the second set, but the latter fired back with a break of her own and consolidated for a 2-1 lead. The set moved to 3-2 as both players held serve, but Azarenka then hit top gear and secured back-to-back breaks to wrap up the match and clinch her seventh WTA title. Azarenka has now won 11 straight matches dating back to the Miami Open, where she defeated Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova in an impressive run to the title.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WTA Tour Insights' family grows.

I am on the left, Lucinda is on the right.
Dear loyal readers,

Our family has grown!

I have asked my good friend Lucinda Perry to assist me in my blogging! And she very kindly agreed to do so. Lucinda will be posting when I am away, but will also be posting sometimes during the season, and will be an expert Grand Slam analysist, which basically means she will be doing all the predictions! Ahaha, but she will also be a great assest to the blog with her extensive tennis knowledge.

Be careful and make sure to check who pasted the article, it will say at the bottom.

Make her feel welcome, she doesn't bite!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Semi's set in Charleston. Btw, I am in Poland...

Yesterday morning my mother informed me that my great grandmother, had become sick, because of her age, and a break in uni, I decided to catch a last minute flight (yesterday afternoon) to Poland to see her, because there might not be many chances left. If you hadn't gather already my great grandmother lives in Poland, just clarifying. I will still be keeping you up-to-date with the latest in tennis news!

As mentioned earlier, the semifinals have been set at Charleston and Caro, JJ, Peng and Vesina all advanced on the green clay of Daniel Island.

Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic set up a blockbuster semifinal clash at the Family Circle Cup on Friday, though they had far different experiences in their respective quarterfinal matches.

Wozniacki, seeded No.1 and seeking her first title in Charleston, had a big battle on her hands, rallying from 1-3 in the second set and 2-4 in the third set to beat No.6 seed Yanina Wickmayer in the afternoon heat, 4-6 6-4 6-4.

"Yanina played very well today. She was cracking winners from left and right," Wozniacki said. "I knew I had to change something. If you're down, you need to. I decided to go for my shots and stay aggressive, and if I lost that way, okay, it's just too good from her today. I knew I would get one chance and that I had to take that one. I did and it turned out in my favor, so I'm very happy."

Wickmayer was looking for her first Top 5 win. "She's No.1, so she has to have something why she wins all her matches," the Belgian said. "I guess it's because on the important points she's a little bit better than any other player."

Awaiting Wozniacki in the semifinals will be Jankovic, who rolled past young American Christina McHale later in the day in a much simpler match, 6-2 6-0. Jankovic was the champion here in 2007 and is seeded No.3 this year.

Jankovic leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head series, 4-1.

"We've never played each other on clay," Jankovic added. "Obviously we know each other's games very well, but I want to play my tennis. I want to continue to do the things I do best and not really let her do what she likes to do best."

Also reaching the final four in the day was No.11 seed Peng Shuai, who dropped the first set against Sania Mirza but never fell behind again to beat the Indian qualifier, 2-6 6-2 6-2. It was Peng's 25th main draw match win on the WTA this year, more than anyone else (Wozniacki is in second place with 24).

At night, Elena Vesnina built on her third round upset over No.2 seed and defending champion Sam Stosur with a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over No.12 seed Julia Goerges. Vesnina's win over Stosur was her first Top 5 win and after losing the first set against Goerges she found her winning aggression again, taking control of the rallies away from the big-hitting German with some big hitting of her own, in particular some pinpoint down-the-lines off both her forehand and backhand.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Vesina downs Stosur. Joy.

The underdogs brought their A-games at the Family Circle Cup on Thursday, as the entire round of 16 took the courts. No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki survived; No.2 seed Samantha Stosur did not.

Wozniacki was the first to take Stadium court, and she had to battle for over two and a half hours to beat No.15 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 7-6(6) 7-6(9).

Wozniacki let an early 4-1 lead slip and saved a set point before taking the first set in a tie-break; she fought back from 0-2 in the second set and missed five match points in the breaker, eventually saving a set point against her before closing Zahlavova Strycova out with an overhead on her sixth match point.

Next up for Wozniacki will be No.6 seed Yanina Wickmayer, who beat qualifier Anna Tatishvili, 6-4 7-5.

Stosur, the defending champion, wasn't so fortunate, falling to Elena Vesnina later on, 6-4 6-1. Stosur, who stormed to her biggest WTA title at this tournament a year ago, led 4-2 before losing 10 of the last 11 games of the match.

"A lot of things went wrong for me, unfortunately," Stosur said. "Elena played quite well. She served well and hit the ball well, and I wasn't able to really do anything to negate her hitting the ball low and flat and kind of rushing me during the points. I started well, then lost serve and the wheels kind of fell off."

The crowd tried to help rally Stosur in the second set, but to no avail. "I felt their support in the match. I would love to have played better and gotten myself back into it and be here another day, but unfortunately I'll have to wait for next year."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Road to Roland Garros kicks off.

After February's brief flirtation in Latin America, the clay court swing becomes a full-blown affair this week, starting with the Family Circle Cup in Charleston and Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella. For the next two months the stars of the WTA will battle it out on the dirt, passions reaching fever pitch at Roland Garros at the end of May.

The best writer could not have scripted a more sublime climax to last year's clay season: Francesca Schiavone's swashbuckling run to the French title, and the unbridled joy of her celebrations, will be remembered for many years to come. With any luck, the red stuff will again yield something special. A much-desired (and deserved) first Grand Slam title for hard-working world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, perhaps?

The 20-year-old Dane certainly knows how to play on clay, which suits her retrieving style and willingness to stay out there all day. But, much as she thrives on playing tournament tennis, staying fresh and peaking at the right moment will also be key. While her top ranking is safe at least into May, she won't be underestimating the competition that stands in the way of realizing her dream and silencing the doubters.

Backspin To The Future?

How 30-year-old Schiavone prepares for and fares on her title defense will also be a chief storyline of the European spring. The way the Italian veteran has consolidated her Top 10 position with strong results on less favored surfaces, she must have a real shot at repeating. But will she be able to play with characteristic joie de vivre when the pressure is on?

With a 20-3 win-loss record on the surface, the other clay court standout of 2010 was Samantha Stosur. The Australian won her first Premier title at Charleston, was runner-up to Justine Henin at Stuttgart, and reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros. In order to hold her Top 5 status, she, too, needs to win a lot of matches in the coming weeks after some disappointing results this season.

There were other breakthroughs in 2010: María José Martínez Sánchez applied her enterprising lefty game to great effect in capturing Rome, while Aravane Rezai's played a blinder to triumph in Madrid. Likewise, the International events proved happy hunting grounds for up-and-comers such as Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova, who won her first WTA title at Estoril, and Romanian teenager Simona Halep, who reached her first tour final at Fès as a qualifier. Both have since risen up the ranks; who will follow suit?

Serbian teen Bojana Jovanovski could threaten at the smaller events, and maybe even breach the second week in Paris. Ditto Dominika Cibulkova, at No.25 the highest-ranked player without a WTA title. The diminutive Slovak will be one of the top seeds at the Barcelona Ladies Open later this month; is this her chance to get the trophy monkey off her back? China's Peng Shuai, a three-time tour finalist making her Top 30 debut this week, is also one to watch: she's having a great year, was runner-up on Strasbourg's clay in 2006, and is a three-time quarterfinalist there.

Expect big things too from Andrea Petkovic, another ranking riser (she joined the Top 20 this week) who won her first WTA title on clay at Bad Gastein in 2009. And, right in front of the German at No.18 in the rankings, is Petra Kvitova. The Czech lefty has already pocketed two titles this year, at Brisbane and the Paris Indoors; she reached the last 16 at Roland Garros on her Grand Slam debut in 2008, and when she is confident, she is unstoppable.

With her dazzling victory at Miami, Victoria Azarenka reasserted her claim as a potential Grand Slam champion; she's never won a clay court tournament, but is no slouch on the surface. With two major finals under her belt but no clay court title since 2008, Vera Zvonareva's fortunes should also be monitored in the weeks ahead. Maria Sharapova, back in the Top 10 after a great double-whammy at Indian Wells and Miami, doesn't favor the dirt either - but, force of nature that she is, won Strasbourg 12 months ago.

Former No.1s Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic could also threaten. If history repeats, Jankovic should do well at Rome, where she is a two-time champion and was runner-up last year to Martínez Sánchez; in prevailing conditions, there's no reason the Serb can't convert such success to a major. Looking much like her old self, Ivanovic - who has already lifted the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen - just needs to close out a big match or two to prove she is truly back.

The same goes for another former champion of Paris, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who can do it all but is looking for momentum mojo; Dinara Safina, whose rise to the top in 2009 was grounded on a superb clay season, also seems to be back on a positive trajectory.

And the list of potential spoilers is just as long: Agnieszka Radwanska - surely due a Grand Slam semifinal appearance at least - Marion Bartoli, Shahar Peer, Flavia Pennetta, Kaia Kanepi, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Alisa Kleybanova, Yanina Wickmayer. Not far behind are players like Jarmila Groth, who has been scoring runs this year and is strong on clay.

Finally, spare a thought for Alexandra Dulgheru, who won the Premier level Warsaw Open in 2009 as a qualifier ranked No.201 - and coolly defended her title last year. Now firmly in the Top 30, the 21-year-old Romanian can't go for the hat-trick because her favorite event is no more. But, given her record in that tricky final week before the Slam, she might just contend at the new Brussels Ladies Open, which has picked up the Polish capital's slot.

From the WTA Tour website

Sabine makes winning return to Charleston.

Two years ago, a 19-year-old Sabine Lisicki had a dream run to her first WTA title at the Family Circle Cup, beating the likes of Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki along the way. She had to miss her title defense last year due to a left ankle injury, but on Tuesday, in her first match back in Charleston, she was able to keep that winning streak going.

Lisicki, who reached a career-high No.22 later that year but is now down at No.182 due to her injury-marred 2010, got by Renata Voracova on Stadium court, winning nine of 12 games from 3-6 3-3 to beat the Czech, 3-6 6-4 6-2.

After the match, she was asked how it felt to be back here. "Amazing. I came a couple of days ago and practiced on the center court, and all the memories came back right away. It was so amazing, and to have so many people here, especially after this terrible morning with lots of rain and chilly weather."

The German, now 21, recapped the struggles she overcame last year. "I twisted my ankle at Indian Wells, and after that I tried to come back but the injury was too bad, and I was on crutches for six weeks. I basically had to learn to walk again. The whole process was so, so hard. I never went through something like that. That's why this match means so much to me, after all I went through."

Lisicki's Yorkshire Terrier, Happy, has also been around the grounds, as the German has been leaving him with the doggie daycare. "The ladies are taking good care of him," she said. "I love Happy, and he definitely is a happy dog. It's great to have both my parents and my dog here, so the entire family is here."

Other first round winners included No.9 seed Maria Kirilenko, No.10 seed Daniela Hantuchova and No.15 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, who saved a match point down 6-5 in the third set tie-break and beat Andrea Hlavackova, 6-2 2-6 7-6(6). Jelena Dokic and Melanie Oudin were beaten.

The second round also kicked off, with No.8 seed Alisa Kleybanova being the first Top 8 seed to lose, falling to Christina McHale, 6-1 6-0. No.6 seed Yanina Wickmayer, No.11 seed Peng Shuai and No.12 seed Julia Goerges were among the winners, with Goerges having by far the most dramatic win, rallying from 1-6 1-5 and saving five match points at 1-6 2-5 before ultimately scoring a 1-6 7-5 2-0 victory when Eva Birnerova had to retire with a right ankle injury.

In a chilly night match, No.5 seed Shahar Peer beat Sofia Arvidsson, 61 63. "I knew what the forecast was, so I was ready," the Israeli said. "Sometimes as tennis players we go four seasons in one day, so we have to adjust. It wasn't as warm as I would have liked it to be but that's part of it. At least we had no wind."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Honerable ATP Mention - Novak Djokovic.

I know, I know, this is WTA Tour Insights and I know Novak is a man. But seriously, he deserves a mention, in fact he deserves the No. 1 rank he is now 24-0 for the year (winning Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells and now Miami) He has been flawless. Not only is he on a 24 match winning streak for the year, he is on a 26 match winning streak from last years Davis Cup matches.

Who knows, maybe Rafa will show he is the best when his feet hit the clay, but at the moment it looks pretty hard to bet against Novak, even if he was playing on ice, I would have to tipp him. I would even have money on him taking a bagel, he has had the most out of any player for the year (7).

Sony Ericsson Open website article;

Players on the ATP World Tour will have to wait until the clay court season to have another opportunity to end Novak Djokovic’s undefeated reign in 2011.

In one of the most electrifying men’s singles finals in Sony Ericsson Open history, the Serbian defeated World No. 1 Rafael Nadal for the second consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event after winning at Indian Wells two weeks ago, upending the Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) to win his second Sony Ericsson Open Sunday afternoon.

In front of a record final's crowd of 14,625 fans, Djokovic improved to 24-0 on the season, and increases his overall winning streak to 26 wins in a row, dating back to last December’s Davis Cup Final. His title today gives the two-time Australian Open champion his seventh ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, five of which have come on outdoor hard courts, and 22nd title overall.

Djokovic has turned up the heat on Nadal in the battle for the World No. 1 Ranking. Nadal has more than 7,000 points to defend between now and Wimbledon.

Djokovic becomes the first player since Roger Federer in 2006 to win both Indian Wells and Miami in the same year, a feat that’s now been achieved eight times on the men’s side. This match-up paralleled 1995 in many ways; it was the first time in 16 years that Indian Wells and Miami featured the same two finalists, as well as the top two ranked players (Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras). It was also the first time since the Agassi-Sampras clash in 1995 that the men’s final at Crandon Park was decided by a final set tie-break.

This year's Sony Ericsson Open attracted 316,267 fans, setting a new tournament record.

Sorry guys, but I couldn't help my self! I needed to put this Rafa pic in! I am sure you understand. But look on the birght side, I haven't bombarded you with his Armani photo's...yet.

Time for some happy final snaps!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gracious Winner, would not be phrase that appears in one's dictionary.

Maria Sharapova may have gotten destroyed by Victoria Azarenka in the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open Saturday, but she still managed plenty of big wins along the way. The most notable victory for Sharapova came in the semis against Andrea Petkovic whom she defeated 3-6 6-0 6-2. The win avenged a 4th round loss to Petko in the Australian Open, and you could tell Sharapova took pride in the win, and beating Petkovic specifically.

Q. [Petkovic] thought you would be tired in the third after the long match you had the previous night. Didn't seem to be that way.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because I didn't do the dance after. I wasn't tired.

Boom, roasted. Sharapova didn't stop there, though:

Q. She said that one of the things that makes you such a good champion is that you sense right away a weakness in the other player and basically you jump on that. She said that she felt that you sensed she was hesitating, whatever. Can you talk about that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, to be honest, I felt like I was just making a lot errors in the first set and I wasn't moving my feet at all. And especially with the wind I wasn't moving towards the ball and letting the ball come to me and not really being aggressive. That's what's won me so many matches in my career is when I step in and I hit my strokes and they come deep. I just wasn't doing that. So first and foremost I felt like I had to start doing that and making little steps and adjusting my game a little bit. More than anything, I sensed that she was tired -- probably a lot of the dancing that she's been doing -- and I took advantage of it.
Having not seen the press conference live, I'm not going to speculate on whether Sharapova was totally serious, completely joking or a mixture of both. Yet the fact that she brought up the dance twice shows that it was on her mind one way or the other.

Petkovic is a delight to watch and has the sort of bubbly personality that the sport sorely lacks in the top 10. As Forty Deuce points out, she was gracious in victory and defeat in Miami. Those things don't belie the fact that the dance was bush league.

In case you haven't seen it:

It was a charming dance and one that gained Petko some YouTube fame, but it couldn't be fun and sportsmanlike at the same time, despite what the 23-year-old says she wanted. Petkovic said she would ask vanquished opponents whether she could do it before hand, but what are they going to say? "No"? How is somebody supposed to respond to, "Hey, do you mind if I rub your face in the loss a little bit?" There was no way to answer that in the negative without coming across as petty.

Those who get beat by Petkovic (and with the way she's playing, that'll be a lot of players) won't have to deal with the questions anymore. She says she's retiring the dance.

French Fashion Forecast - Maria Sharapova.

This is  the dress that Russian, Tennis Fashion Queen, Maris Sharapova will ware at this years French Open.

I am undecided weather or not I like the dress, its definatly not my favourite Masha dress, but I guess its my worst. I think I will pass my judgement when I have seen it on her, normally its the best thing to do.

Also when I saw sketch's or this dress I was expecting something completly unique, and never seen before, and that's probably why I am not to impressed, as its not really anything special. Just a yellowe dress that is part backless. However, like I said I will wait untill I have seen Maria in it, the dress might just come alive when she puts it on!

Azarenka wins second Miami title.

A victorious Victoria Azarenka dropped her racquet and celebrated with tears after winning her second Sony Ericsson Open title, defeating Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.

The Belarusian player won the match in 1 hour 46 minutes and, with an overwhelmingly aggressive return game, allowed Sharapova to hold serve only once in the match. Azarenka won eight break points and hit 19 winners to close out the match and hoist the champion’s trophy for the second time in three years.

“I'm enjoying myself so much on the court,” said Azarenka, commenting on her attitude toward her game. “I'm going to fight for every ball, and just do the best job possible.” She did just that, winning her first title of the year and becoming the eighth woman to win two or more titles in Miami.

Azarenka won this tournament in 2009, and today’s win gives the 21 year old her sixth WTA title. When the WTA rankings update on Monday, Azarenka will vault to No. 6 and tie her previous high from 2009. Sharapova’s third Miami final will place her back in the Top 10 for the first time since 2009, as she claims the No. 9 spot.

After a lackluster first set and six double faults, Sharapova found her form in the second set, playing more confidently and keeping the ball in play to save two championship points at 5-3. She gained an advantage over Azarenka, who double faulted to give the Russian her fourth break of the match and a chance to serve to even the second set. Azarenka withstood the break and came through with a backhand winner down the line to set up her third championship point.

“I think I have one of the best returns. That's one of my weapons,” Azarenka said. She used this weapon to keep Sharapova from winning a service game until the sixth game in the second set.

“It's a little bit too late to pick up the pace when you're down a set and 4-0,” said Sharapova, who acknowledged that Azarenka was the more aggressive player. “I wish I picked it up earlier. Against a player like her you have to have that level from the beginning or else she's going to go with it and only get better. She'll gain more confidence.”

This is Sharapova’s first appearance in Miami since 2007, as she battled through shoulder surgery and illness. This final marks a positive start to the season for the Russian, who reached the semi-finals of Indian Wells and the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I'm very, very happy that I've achieved this much in the last three, four weeks,” she said.
En route to the title Azaarenka played three three-set matches and twice came from down a set to defeat both Dominika Cibulkova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She defeated second seed Kim Clijsters in the quarter-finals and third seed Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals, winning both in straight sets for her sixth and seventh Top 10 wins.
Azarenka said she was looking to continue her rise in the rankings. “I would like to take it step by step and really develop my game. It's really developing right now, so I would really like to stick with that and move forward,” she said.

Edit; Happy Snaps from the final

Friday, April 1, 2011

Former champion Victoria Azarenka defeated No. 3 seed Vera Zvonareva to qualify for her second final appearance in three years at the Sony Ericsson Open. The No. 8 seed closed out the 6-0 6-3 match in 1 hour 16 minutes, and will play Maria Sharapova on Saturday.

Azarenka, who won the Miami title in 2009, defeated 2010 champion Kim Clijsters en route to today’s semi-final match. Tonight, the native of Belarus stormed the court, dropping only eight points to Zvonareva in the first set. She adapted to the Russian’s short balls and came into the net aggressively, knocking off a total of nine winners in the first set.

Zvonareva seemed to adjust to the pace, and held serve to start the second set. Azarenka evened to 1-1, and after four deuces in the third game, Zvonareva hit a cross-court forehand winner to take her second game of the match.

Azarenka played on, nonplused by the onslaught of 14 winners from her opponent, and broke in the sixth game, surging from 40-15 to gain a 4-2 advantage. She allowed Zvonareva one more game, but closed out the match on her fifth break point of the night. Azarenka hit 13 winners overall, and once ace.

This is Azarenka’s first semi-final of the year, but the performance sets her up for a one-spot increase to No. 7 in the world. Earlier this year, she reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, and the quarter-finals of Sydney and Indian Wells. The Belarusian has five career titles, and looks to claim her sixth overall and second in Miami when she plays Saturday’s final against Sharapova, who secured her third final at this tournament earlier today. Azarenka and Sharapova are competing in there fifth and sixth Miami tournaments, respectively.