Archive for December, 2009

31
Dec
09

Tomic is growing up, and up, and up…

Rising teenager Bernard Tomic fears his 194cm frame is still growing and dreads the thought of resembling a “basketballer” more than a tennis player.

The 17-year-old’s court movement has been seen as an achilles heel in recent times.

The Tomic camp recently employed renowned conditioner Yutaka Nakamura to improve on his fitness and he took three months off after winning the Junior US Open to address his weakness.

But the Gold Coaster, given the last wildcard for next week’s Brisbane International, said his continued growth added another difficult factor into the equation.

“I am [still growing] unfortunately, hopefully I can stop,” he said after an hour-long practice at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

“Obviously I don’t want to be the height of a basketballer, I want to be a good size tennis player but I will deal with it any way.”

Tomic stands a touch taller than grand slam winners Goran Ivanisevic and Marat Safin but is still four centimetres shorter than US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

Hewitt isn’t exactly small at 180cm but is the shortest world No.1 of the modern era and now struggles to compete with taller champions Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

According to Tennis Australia’s records, Tomic was 191cm 12 months ago, not 184cm as claimed in recent reports, and was listed at 194cm in September, suggesting his growth spurt may have already stopped.

Tomic became the youngest male to win a match at the Australian Open this January and is confident of producing far more in 2010, especially with a serve approaching 200kmh.

“Last year [2009] was a totally different year, it’s one year I’ve grown and I’m more experienced now and so if I can put that into matches when it starts it will be good,” he said.

“I’m playing well now, I had a bit of time off after New York and start working with Yutaka and fitness wise I’m getting good.

“I’m getting stronger each day since I started working with Yutaka.”

31
Dec
09

Stosur has a plan to win a Grand Slam…..

Sam Stosur believes she needs to tidy up her game before she can achieve grand slam glory.

But the 25-year-old feels she boasts the on-court weapons needed to win a major.

“If I match up my game against a lot of the girls that have won grand slams, I’ve got as good a serve as them, I’ve got as good a forehand, I move well and everything else,” Stosur said on Wednesday.

“It’s just tidying all those things … and making it happen for those two weeks of the year.

“Two weeks is a long time to peak for a tournament and you have to get used to playing great players day in, day out.

“When you match all those things up there’s no reason why I can’t, but putting it together and actually doing it is a whole different story.”

Former world No.8 Alicia Molik, on the comeback trail after coming out of retirement earlier this year, said Stosur could cause a major upset at the Australian Open.

“I think Sam’s capable of anything,” Molik said on Wednesday.

“We had a practice session yesterday at Royal Pines [on the Gold Coast] and she’s playing the best tennis in her career.

“The courts in particular, the plexicushion, really suits Sam.

“Her kick-serve is one of the best in the world and it’s tough, I was facing it yesterday.

“I think she’s capable of anything but more importantly she knows that and she believes that.”

Stosur enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2009, winning her maiden WTA title, breaking into the world’s top 20 and notching a semifinal appearance at the French Open.

The right-hander now has her sights on cracking into the top 10.

“I would obviously love to be top 10 … that’s definitely the next goal and I’m only going to get there if I keep on doing what I’m doing,” she said.

“I’ve been trying to get to this position my whole career and I was definitely good enough to win a tour title and I finally got there towards the end of this year, which was great.

“This year brought what I always hoped I would get to and what I thought I could get to.

“It’s a surprise when it does happen, when you achieve things that you hadn’t done before, but it’s somewhere that I thought I could get to.”

Stosur will partner Lleyton Hewitt at the January 2-9 Hopman Cup in Perth, where Australia will take on Spain (Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo), Romania (Sorana Cirstea and Victor Hanescu) and USA (Melanie Oudin and John Isner) in their group stage.

31
Dec
09

Roddick says his knee won’t hinder him on court.

t’s been six months since Andy Roddick’s heart-breaking Wimbledon final loss to grand nemesis Roger Federer.

With the calender now changing, Roddick admits he has a sense of perspective about the haunting near miss against a man who has single-handedly denied him four grand slam titles.

He prefers to look positively at the achievement of making a Wimbledon final and playing a record long deciding set.

“My worst day, as far, is the way I feel after that match, is a lot of people’s dream, that’s not lost on me,” Roddick said on Thursday as he prepared for his return from injury at the Brisbane International.

“It’s like anything that’s hard in anyone’s life. You just keep going and do the things you enjoy and slowly maybe I’ll only think about it four times today.”

One of tennis’s most endearing and enduring characters, Roddick showed he was in good form on and off the court despite ending 2009 with a three-month layoff with a knee problem.

The tournament top seed and main men’s drawcard, the 27-year-old will start 2010 “chomping at the bit” in Brisbane and confident he will be a genuine contender at the Australian Open.

The knee, unstrapped during a sharp hour-long hit with defending champion Radek Stepanek at Pat Rafter Arena, isn’t perfect but it won’t hinder him on court, Roddick says.

“It’s coming around all right,” the American said.

“It was disappointing to finish the year like I did, especially considering I felt like I was having a really good year until the injury came about.

“That was disappointing but on the flipside I’m probably a little bit more mentally rested than a lot of these guys, maybe a little bit more eager to get out here.

“I’ve been playing a lot. I’m definitely not coming in under-practiced.

“I feel like I’m hitting the ball really well in practise it’s just a matter of getting that to translate.”

Considering he has long been one of the biggest servers in the game, it’s remarkable Roddick has never suffered a right shoulder injury, and partly put his fortune down to a tip from Andre Agassi.

“One thing I have been smart about, and actually Andre taught met: ‘Listen to your body. You don’t have to be a hero every day you step out there’,” he said.

“Maybe you’ll lose something short term but as long as you heal properly and give yourself a chance to be better long-term.”

The world No.1 in 2003 after he won the US Open, Roddick said his 2009 record, including a fourth Australian Open semi-final appearance, gave him extra belief he can claim a second career grand slam title – possibly in Melbourne.

“Obviously I feel like maybe I could have played a final there before,” he said.

“It hasn’t quite happened but there’s not a lot of people walking around that can say – there’s probably one that’s active right now (Federer) – that they’ve played in four semi-finals.

“It could be better and I want it to be better.”

30
Dec
09

Trick shots?….no problem for Maria.

Maria Kirilenko proves that Roger Federer is not the only player who can make the thru the legs shot……and she looks a lot better than Roger while she’s doing it!

30
Dec
09

Tomic awarded final wildcard to Brisbane Int.

Bernard Tomic has been given the last wildcard into the Brisbane International, which starts Sunday.

The Gold Coast 17-year-old joins fellow wildcard recipients John Millman, 20, of Brisbane and Australian Davis Cup player Carsten Ball in the men’s main draw of the first ATP World Tour event of the 2010 season.

National selector and Davis Cup coach Todd Woodbridge said Tomic’s form in the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off at Melbourne Park earlier this month warranted the wildcard.

“Bernard made the final after some tough matches during the week<” Woodbridge said. “He continues to grow and is working on his movement and other aspects of his game. I think he will make the most of this opportunity in what is effectively his home tournament.”

Brisbane International Tournament Director Steve Ayles believes Tomic’s inclusion will add to the pulling power of the event.

“I think a lot of Queensland tennis fans will be keen to see how Bernard has developed in the last year. Many have been following his progress throughout his junior career and will be interested in his performances at the Queensland Tennis Centre against some of the best tennis players in the world.”

Tomic made his ATP World Tour debut at the inaugural Brisbane International in January showing maturity beyond his years in a 6-4 6-2 loss to world No.15 and eventual Australian Open semifinalist Fernando Verdasco from Spain.

He then went on to win his opening round match at the Australian Open in four sets against Italian world No.73 Potito Starace before losing a four-set match against the big serving Gilles Muller from Luxemburg.

In February he won a Challenger event in Melbourne and has lifted his ranking from 764 at the start of the year to a career high of 284 in November. He is currently ranked 286.

His credits during the year included a second Grand Slam boys’ title, the US Open (he won the Australian Open boys crown in 2008).

Ayles said this last wildcard completed a world-class field.

“I think local tennis fans will be impressed. Tickets are selling even more quickly than last year and with the big players arriving, the anticipation is building already. The practice courts are filling up and there is already a truly international flavour at the Queensland Tennis Centre.”

Women’s qualifying starts Friday and men’s qualifying starts Saturday.

The men’s wildcards will join world No.6 Andy Roddick , reigning champion Radek Stepanek, fellow Czech Tomas Berdych, Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet, and crowd favourites James Blake and Marcos Baghdatis in the men’s draw.

30
Dec
09

Ferrer steps in for the injured Tsonga in Abu Dhabi.

Organisers of the Capitala World Tennis Championships have announced David Ferrer, the world number 17 who helped Spain to a stunning second Davis Cup title earlier this month, will replace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at this week’s tournament.

The stylish Spaniard will make his first appearance in Abu Dhabi and joins fellow countryman Rafael Nadal, the world number two, in a star-studded line-up of the world’s top players for the season opener starting on Thursday, December 31.

Ferrer will open his account on day one when he will meet the in-form Nikolay Davydenko.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to play in Abu Dhabi and I am very much looking forward to getting the season underway and joining some of the best players in the world for this tournament,” said Ferrer.

“Davydenko is always a tough opponent, particularly considering how well he has been playing lately, and I’m looking forward to playing him again.”

Should Ferrer beat Davydenko on the opening day, it sets up a thrilling all Spanish semifinal showdown with Nadal who will be ready and waiting for his Davis Cup winning compatriot.

“Rafa and I are great friends it would be fantastic to meet him in the semifinal. Rafa said the stadium atmosphere in Abu Dhabi last year was very exciting and he received a lot of support from the Spanish fans.

“It’s something I’m looking forward to experiencing.”

Tsonga, who injured himself during a training session earlier this week, is disappointed he will not be making his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.

The French number one has been advised by his coaching staff to rest ahead of the Australian Open after suffering the injury.

Tsonga said: “I am extremely disappointed not to be able to participate in the Capitala World Tennis Championship due to an injury.

“I hope that I will come to participate in years to come but in the meantime I wish everyone there a good event and best wishes for 2010.”

The Capitala World Tennis Championship will be staged at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex, Zayed Sports City from December 31, 2009 to January 2, 2010.

29
Dec
09

Wickmayer ready to strut her stuff in Aukland.

Yanina Wickmayer took a jab at Belgian doping authorities as she gets ready for her first tournament since a drug ban was lifted.

At Tuesday’s news conference in Auckland, New Zealand, Wickmayer said she was regularly tested during the period she reportedly failed to inform the Flemish National Doping Organization of her whereabouts.

She said she never failed or missed a drug test and the anti-doping agency was aware that she was playing in a televised tournament in Australia.

Wickmayer was suspended last month by her national anti-doping agency for failing three times to report her whereabouts. A Belgian civil court lifted the one-year ban on Dec. 16.

She immediately accepted a wild card to Auckland’s ASB Classic, which starts next week.

29
Dec
09

Aleksandra Wozniack named Canadian Athlete of the Year!

Aleksandra Wozniak knocked off the reigning French Open champion, beat three other top-15 tennis players and sent a former world No. 1 packing in her swan-song tournament.

Not bad for a 22-year-old who was sidelined early in 2009 with a tear in her right shoulder.

Wozniak’s breakthrough season has earned her The Canadian Press female athlete of the year award for 2009.

She collected 102 points, including 20 first-place votes, in voting by Canada’s sports editors and broadcasters to become just the third tennis player to win the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award.

Wozniak beat out hurdler Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (68 points), speedskater Christine Nesbitt (67 points) and hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser (59 points).

Helen Kelesi (1989, 1990) and Carling Bassett (1983, 1985) are the only other tennis players to win the award named after Rosenfeld, an Olympic champion and all-rounder who was voted Canada’s top female athlete for the first half of the 20th century.

Last season, the rising star from Blainville, Que., came closer to winning the cherished hardware of the top tournaments and almost cracked the world’s top-20 rankings.

“I was knocking the door at No. 21,” Wozniak said of her highest career ranking, which she reached in June.

Still, for Wozniak the achievements weren’t good enough – what 2009 gave her, more than anything, was a hunger to accomplish more.

“One day, I really want a Grand Slam – that’s going to be a dream come true,” she said.

Wozniak’s 2009 season got off to a rocky start when a shoulder injury forced her to miss a month of competition. She pulled out of several tournaments in February and feared that her season could be over.

“I was lucky, I did a lot of rehab and it all healed pretty quickly,” she said, noting that a similar shoulder injury kept Russian Maria Sharapova off the court for almost a year.

“It took me out of competition for a couple of weeks, but when I came back I was ready mentally and physically.”

She wasted little time bouncing back, reaching the final at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in April – defeating a top-10 player in Russia’s Nadia Petrova along the way.

After losing to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the Ponte Vedra Beach final, Wozniak’s season hit a lull and she failed to reach the third round in any of the next five tournaments.

But she turned things around in a big way the following month on the clay courts of Roland Garros. Wozniak battled her way to the fourth round of the French Open, where she eventually lost 6-1, 6-2 to world No. 2 Serena Williams.

She became the first Canadian in 17 years to reach the fourth round in Paris and the first in a decade to get that far in singles at any Grand Slam.

In June, Wozniak proved her run at Roland Garros was no fluke by overpowering French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-0, 6-3 in Eastbourne, England.

The win helped launch Wozniak to No. 21 in the world, her highest ranking ever. She believes it gave her an added psychological edge over many opponents.

“They take me more seriously and they are more intimidated by me,” Wozniak said.

She rode that confidence into the U.S. Open, where she beat Amelie Mauresmo of France, a former top-ranked player, 6-4, 6-0.

It turned out to be the last match for the No. 17-ranked Mauresmo, who later announced her retirement from the sport.

“Playing on Arthur Ashe (Stadium) . . . it was something really special,” Wozniak said of the victory.

The win vaulted her into the third round, where she lost to No. 10 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

Currently ranked No. 34, Wozniak finished the year in the top 40 for the second season in a row.

She didn’t win any titles in 2009, but continued her ascent toward elite status in the tennis world.

In 2008, she captured her only tour title in Stanford, Calif., and reached two semifinals and one quarter-final.

Wozniak started playing tennis at three years old under the guidance of her father and coach, Antoni, a former professional soccer player in his native Poland.

She was inspired to pick up a racket by watching her older sister Dorota play.

Antoni Wozniak, who works nights repairing trucks and coaches tennis by day, also guided Dorota, a former two-time NCAA champ.

Wozniak said her father, like the rest of her family, has been a great support in her life.

“My whole family, they keep supporting me – even when things are not going well, they’re always there,” Wozniak said.

As she prepares for a pair of warmup tournaments ahead of next month’s Australian Open, Wozniak aims to move even closer to realizing her two biggest goals: becoming the highest-ranked Canadian ever and the first to win a Grand Slam event.

“I hope I can encourage other young kids to be inspired like I was,” she said.

29
Dec
09

Rafa will face the winner of the Davydenko/Tsonga match on Jan.1st..

Rafa Nadal has completed his last training session for the year in Mallorca before flying to Abu Dhabi this afternoon. The World No.2 trained for nearly 2 hours on Monday with one of his best friends, Carlos Moya and even played a set, which he won 7-5.

After the training session, Rafa said he was very “happy” with the work he’s done during December despite not having any time to rest after Spain won the Davis Cup title a few weeks ago. “Before travelling at the beginning [of the season] you always feel a bit lazy, especially when I haven’t had much time for myself as I’ve been training all the time”.

“I did get the chance to be with my friends for a couple of days and I’ve spent some time with my family, so I’m really looking forward to the beginning of the season where I hope to regain mi level of competition bit by bit,” said Rafa to a Mallorcan TV Channel yesterday.

“You always have to take one day at a time and I really hope that both the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi and the tournament in Doha will give me the practice and confidence I need to play the Australian Open at the highest level.”

EXHIBITION TOURNAMENT

The Capitala World Tennis Championships, begins on the 31st of December and goes till the 2nd of January. Rafa will begin his 2010 campaign on Thursday, 1st of January against the winner of the match between Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Nicolay Davydenko.

In the other side of the draw, Roger Federer, Robin Soderling or Stanislas Wawrinka could play him in the final.

29
Dec
09

Justine says she ‘grew-up’ during her absence.

Justine Henin says she has matured during her 20-month break from tennis and can be a better player when she makes a return to the sport next week.

Henin, 27, told a news conference Tuesday she “grew up” during her absence from the court and can eclipse the standard she set in winning seven grand slam titles.

The Belgian will play in next week’s Brisbane International and the subsequent Sydney International before contesting the Jan. 18-31 Australian Open as a wild card.

While keeping expectations in check, she said a second Australian Open title was “possible.”

“I believe I can be a better player, I believe I can use my experience more than in the past,” Henin said. “When you are into (playing tennis at) 200 percent you have no time to realize it. You are too involved all the time and all this time off helped me to realize everything I achieved.

Henin said her absence from tennis has given her personal insight and perspective, adding that she didn’t watch a set of tennis in the first 12 months after retirement and now returns to the sport refreshed and self-aware.

“What I can say is I know myself much better and that’s the most important thing,” she said.

Henin appeared more relaxed at Tuesday’s news conference than in the past, when she was often perceived as aloof.

“I’m 27 now I just want to live my second career differently to how I did in the past,” she said. “It’s been a great experience to go out of the tennis world for 18 months and to come back because I feel I grew up.”

Henin, who won the 2004 Australian Open, will use the Brisbane International to find her tournament rhythm. She showed early form, and a stronger serve, when she beat Russia’s Nadia Petrova in an exhibition in Cairo earlier this month.

“Of course I will need some time to be 100 percent, to be the level I was when I stopped my career, but I’m ready to live anything here,” she said.




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