Saturday, October 29, 2011

Istanbul. The semi's are here!

You have got to hand it to me, I did just pick that Azarenka and Kvitova would go top of their groups. I did predict that Kvitova would 3-0. So I actually did kind of well in my attempted YEC analysis.

The semi's are played today with the first begining not before 3pm Istanbul time, so around 2 and a half hours time. Who made it? And who will do what you ask? This is why I am here.

[3] Petra Kvitova (RR 3-0) vs [7] Samantha Stosur (RR 2-1)
Kvitova leads in the head to head between the two 2-0, however only one result can be really justified and used. That being from Australia this year. When Kvitova upset the home favourite 7-6 6-3 in the third round and went on to advance to the quarter finals. Since that time Kvitova has improved and Stosur has been on a roller coaster. Both suffered post slam slumps and both have seemingly snapped out of it. Kvitova is a bad match up for the Australia. The Czech lefty has that swinging serve that would essentailly destroy Stosur's backhand and a six foot tall that famous kick serve of Stosur will be neutral against the power of Kvitova.
Prediction - Kvitova. Straight sets. 

[4] Victoria Azarenka (RR 2-1) vs [6] Vera Zvonareva (RR 1-2)
Although history has shown that that Vera has her number on Victoria, leading 6-3 H2H Its essentail to take into consideration that Azarenka is a much greater player now than what she was now. Lets take a trip down memory lane, Miami 2011, semi final. Vera was fresh off an Aussie Open SF and a title in Doha, in great form. Azarenka won 6-0 6-3. And if there is one thing this edition of the Season Ending Championships has shown us, it is that history doesn't matter. Exhibits A and B - Stosur defeats Sharapova. Bartoli "defeats" Tankarenka. Azarenka proved in Miami she has what it takes to destroy Zvonareva and I think a similar story will be written in Istanbul, with Victoria in her career best form.
Prediction - Azarenka. Three sets. Two easy wins one close loss. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are you all ready, are you set?

Its that time of year again, the Year End Championships are here! In a long road to Istanbul which came down to the final week of tour tournaments in a battle for the final spot between Agnieszka Radwanska and Marion Bartoli. Radwanska clinched the final spot when the french woman failed to win the title in Moscow.

As you would probably expect I am going to try, and try being the key word, to do a bit of a preview, prediction analysis of the draw. What better way to start than with the head to heads of the eight competitors.
Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova have the most impressive overall percentage, and as it happens are in opposite draws, could be a sign of what will come?

The Red Group

[1] Caroline Wozniacki 
Defending final points from last years edition, Wozniacki has a very tough draw and will have to find her form, somehow, to advance to the semi final stage. Despite favourable head to head records against Kvitova and Radwanska, the Dane has struggled with Zvonareva in the past and lets not forget Radwanska is in the form of her life and Kvitova will be heavily favoured on the fast paced indoor courts of Istanbul, and as seen most famously at Wimbledon 2010, Kvitova can dispatch Wozniacki quite easily on fast courts.
Prediction  - RR. 1-2. Group position - 3rd

[3] Petra Kvitova
It will either be a spectacular performance of a dismal and disappointing one. Its interesting to note that Petra Kvitova is undefeated on indoor hard courts this year, winning Paris and Linz, and well if you can count it Brisbane, simply based on the fact that centre court has a permanent roof in place. The Czech does have a chance to claim the year end number one rank, if she goes 3-0 and wins the title, however to do so I think Wozniacki has to go 0-3, which means the chances are low. I shouldn't expect Kvitova to struggle with Zvonareva or Radwanska but I do think that the match with Wozniacki will be very interesting.
Prediction - advances to SF. 3-0. Group position - 1st

[6] Vera Zvonareva
Well, compared to her late 2010 high level of play, Zvonareva has disappointed throughout the 2011 season despite a strong start. Inconsistencies and lacking mostly mental strength and checking out every now and then doesn't put the Russian in a good position to defend her semi final points from last year.
Prediction - RR. 0-3. Group position - 4th

[8] Agnieszka Radwanska
Well is there any other way to say it? Best form of her life. I can only, in reality, picture Radwanska losing to Kvitova. Though, she has never played too impressively against Wozniacki except the she has never played against in this kind of form, which sets her up for good a chance this time around.
Prediction - advances to SF. 2-1. Group position 2nd

The White Group

[2] Maria Sharapova
The last time Sharapova stepped onto a tennis court, she had to leave due to injury, spraining her ankle trailing Petra Kvitova 3-4 in Tokyo. 2011 is the first year the Russian has been impressive since her return from a career treating shoulder injury, there is still always that question mark over her shoulder and her serve in particular. Like Kvitova, Maria can also claim the year end number one rank by making the final or winning if Wozniacki fails to make the semi final and does some other stuff...I think
Prediction - advances to SF. 2-1. Group position 2nd

[4] Victoria Azarenka
Victoria has had a stand out year, making her first slam semi final, winning Miami (again), and reaching a career high rank of number 3. Azarenka looks to be in a good position to advance to semi final of the YEC's for the first time, and winning Luxembourg just today as a final tune up for some indoor form, and did it well with out the loss of a set.
Prediction - advances to SF. 3-0. Group position 1st

[5] Li Na
Well in the words of the french open champ her self, "Right now I've just lost all confidence. On the court I don't know what I can do. I felt even winning one point was tough for me." It should be more, predict how game games Li Na wins. Not even sets, definitely not matches.
Prediction - RR. 0-3. Group position 4th

[7] Samantha Stosur
I find the grouping for Stosur hilarious. The tennis gods gave her Sharapova and Azarenka who she trails 0-9 and 0-4 respectively in head to head, then they felt bad and gave her Li Na who she lead 5-0. One would expect not much would change in these head to heads.
Prediction - RR. 1-2. Group position 3rd


[3] Petra Kvitova vs [2] Maria Sharapova
I just can't wait. A Wimbledon final replay on well the most similar surface there is. It will be very tough, and in the end I think it will come down to how Maria serves and how tired the shoulder is. It will hopefully live up to expectations and go the distance.
Prediction - Kvitova in 3

[4] Victoria Azarenka vs [8] Agnieszka Radwanska
I would expect to see Azarenka continue her momentum into the final here, although Radwanska could always suprise and continue to shine, and bring the form that saw her win Tokyo and Beijing. The only reason I am going to tip Azarenka to prevail is the fact that indoor courts probably suit her game more that the would Radwanska's
Prediction - Azarenka in 2


[3] Petra Kvitova vs [4] Victoria Azarenka
IndoorGOAT to remain undefeated indoors. By this time she will be all guns blazing. Except don't expect it to be easy, Azarenka will put up some resistance and make Petra earn it.
Prediction Kvitova in 3

Finally, the competitors happy snap has been taken, of course Vika is missing as she was busy winning Luxembourg

Best dressed - Caro, I like the cut and colour. Petra, she looks good. Li Na, impressive. Aggie, looks quite fine, I really like the dress!

The worse - Sam...there are unexplained dangly things on your dress. Maria, going for the yellow banana nun look? Vera, show off your arms! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Playing for the one

Dominika Cibulkova (L) and Monica Niculescu (R) will today, play to claim their maiden WTA singles titles. Their roads to final...polar opposites.

In Moscow Cibulkova dropped one set, to top seed Vera Zvonareva and breezed through her quarter final taking down Elena Vesnina 6-0 6-2. While over in Luxemburg out of Niculescu's four matches three have been three set marathons for the Romanian (R1 6-7 7-5 7-6 def Knapp, R2 7-6 3-6 6-1 def Medina Garrigues and SF 7-5 4-6 6-3 def Keothavong)

The final obstacle stopping them from jumping of the first hurdle is Kaia Kanepi and Victoria Azarenka respectively. So as you would expect Cibulkova comes into her final as a slight favourite, based on form and ranking and Niculescu is the huge underdog.

Azarenka leads Niculescu comfortably in their head to head, only dropping one set in three meetings. The last of which was at the 2010 US Open, where the Belarusian prevailed 6-0 5-7 6-1.

Kanepi has a 2-0 head to head advantage over the Slovak, their last meeting was indoors also, in Paris where Kanepi won 6-2 2-6 6-2. Their only other career meeting also went to three sets.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coming to a cinema near you!

Sorry, the film credits have been sold!

A+ to the new headline writer for the website!

But seriously, are the from Colombia Pictures? 20th Century Fox? What?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The week that was - The Edge of Glory

  • Marion Bartoli is on the edge of glory qualifying for the WTA YEC for just the second time in her career, after winning Osaka. If she can win Moscow and have Radwanska lose before the QF...welcome to Istanbul!
  • Petra Kvitova won her 5th title of the year and showed why she is the biggest threat to take out the Year End Championships
  • Bartoli's Osaka triumph knocks Kim Clijsters out of the top 10 and for the first time since 1998 the top is with out one of the "big four" 
  • Petkorazzi has a new video out. I found a good laugh out of it!
  • Tweets of the week! 
  • Tennis Channel bought us one of the best episodes of tennisography, Victoria Azarenka
  • Yanina Wickmayer ended her 2011 season...btw any idea who that is in her website's header? 
  • While the AO boosted pirze money for Campions here is an example of how difficult it is for those not as lucky to be winning on the WTA tour 
Honorable ATP mention - Andy Murray keeps on keeping on, has now won Shanghai and as surpassed Federer on the rankings for the first time rising to number 3 in the world. Come on Muzz! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brisbane is where it is at.

Just 82 days to go! No, not until Christmas, until the 2012 Brisbane International.

In the later stages of this year it was announced that Brisbane will be upgraded from an International event to a Premier tournament. And wow, what an upgrade it was. Only five players have confirmed their participation, but you could not be happier with the line up. Lead by 13 time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Sam Stosur, Ana Ivanovic and Kim Clijsters all lining up for Brisbane next year.

The tournament held in Brisbane in the first week of the year is expected to become the premier lead up event for the leading ladies of the tour, negatively effecting the line up for Sydney, held the week before the Australian Open.

Clijsters is excited about the challenging and star studded field.

"With Maria (Sharapova), Sam (Stosur) and Serena confirmed for the Brisbane International it is going to be a tough contest but also be a great chance to test your form leading into the first grand slam," said the Belgian.

Thirteen-time major champion Williams has never played in Brisbane and said she was looking forward to it.

"Well, I never played in Brisbane and I have never been to Brisbane but I have heard great things about it," she said.

Queensland Sport Minister Phil Reeves said the 2012 Brisbane International will showcase the brightest stars on the tennis circuit.

“Serena Williams is an absolute powerhouse and her recent form at the US Open is set to excite fans, which will hopefully translate to a full house at the Queensland Tennis Centre,” Mr Reeves said.

“Having stars like Serena at the Brisbane International just a year after the floods demonstrates that Brisbane, and Queensland, is open for business.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Woman on a mission!

22 from 25. That's Agnieszka Radwanska's win - loss record since dumping her Dad as her coach. Even more impressivly that streak now includes three titles, two consecutively now. Radwanska battled her way past Andrea Petkovic and back into the top 10 with a 7-5 0-6 6-4 victory over the German.

The Premier Mandatory tournament is now the biggest of the twenty-two-year-old's career, and comes just a week after claiming the Premier 5 title in Tokyo. Radwanska's re defined, inspired game plan of refreshing variety, incredible defence and instinct turning defence into offence, not to mention deft touch.

Equalling her career high rank of World Number 8 also puts Agnieszka in a sound position to qualify for the Year End Championships, with only two weeks of tournaments left to play.
A post match ceremony as entertaining as the match, saw Andrea asked to share her famous 'Petko Dance' with the crowed despite the loses. The German instead invited Agnieszka to join her in the celebrations and commiserations. 

Winning back to back titles now cements the fact the Pole is with out a doubt a huge threat to take out the Year End Championships to be held in Istanbul.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Think before you speak, Marat.

So I woke up today did my usual tennis tabloid rounds, and its was like, "Dinara Safina Retires", "Injury forces Safina's retirement". "Brother Marat conforms Dinara's retirement" so it was a bit of a media frenzy for the tennis world. We all now the former world number one is struggling with a back injury, so naturally I thought it legit...I mean Marat wouldn't just say that...would he? And I went to check out Dinara's twitter and a few other sources...turns out Marat was playing us t like fools, or something.
Brothers can be like that!

Hope all the treatment goes well Dinara! Would love to see you on the court again!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh the Irony

Victoria Azarenka, one of the budding stars of the WTA tour, famous for both game and grunt. The second seed in the China Open has been noted for her enlongated grunt continuing unitl the time her oppoenet gets racquet to ball and crticized by Wimbledon officals, saying they would rather see "less grunting".

The world number four won her second round matc at the China Open 7-6 6-3 over Polona Hercog and it appeared Azarenka's ankle wasn't the only thing bugging her during the match. The Belarusain to a dig at the noise coming from the stands, “I would love people to be a bit more respectful and turn off their cell phones and just come and watch tennis and respect that players are doing their job,” world number four Azarenka told reporters.

The decibles are rising in all acounts of Azarenka's matches these days.

Victoria will play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to book a spot in the quarter finals.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Playin' for Green and

No need to hug the trophy too hard these days, 2012 Australian Open winners will pocket $2.3 millions Australian dollars. With the current exchange rate that is about $2.18 USD.

Times a' tougher at the elite end of sport. How do these people survive?