Archive for October, 2010

31
Oct
10

Pennetta and Dulko win the title and the #1 ranking in Doha!

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta put the finishing touches on their dynamite doubles season on Sunday night, beating Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, 75 64, for their biggest career title in Doha. Dulko and Pennetta, already winners of six titles this year and the No.1 seeds at the prestigious season-ending WTA Championships – Doha 2010, faced set point at 4-5 in the first set, but Pennetta conjured up a strong first serve that drew a forehand return error from Peschke; Dulko and Pennetta then went on an eight point tear, winning the next two games at love to tuck away the first set. The second set stayed on serve until the fifth, sixth and seventh games, all of which were breaks – with Srebotnik, Pennetta and Peschke all losing serve. But Dulko never did, leaving the No.1 seeds up a break the rest of the set – Pennetta served it out, building a 40-0 lead and cliching it on the second match point.

“We never expected to be here,” Pennetta said on court after the match. “It’s amazing to be here, and especially with Gisela with me, it’s unbelievable. “I’m so happy. I can’t believe it,” an ecstatic Dulko added. “We’ve had such a good year and to finish like this is unbelievable. I’m so happy and so proud right now. And I’d like to thank Flavia for all of her support over the years.” Dulko and Pennetta were making their first career appearances at the WTA Championships – together and individually. On Saturday they were confirmed as the year-end No.1 team on the WTA; and to add to that, Dulko will rise to No.1 in the individual doubles rankings, just the second South American ever to achieve that feat (after Paola Suárez, who was also from Argentina).

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31
Oct
10

Monfils wins his third ATP title at home.

Gael Monfils dethroned defending champion Ivan Ljubicic to lift the Open Sud de France trophy. Monfils, seeded third for the event, fired down 11 aces and made the most of Ljubicic’s 39 unforced errors to claim a 6-2 5-7 6-1 victory in his homeland. The win is the charismatic Frenchman’s third career title and his first since winning in Metz in 2009. The fourth-seeded Ljubicic, who triumphed last year when the tournament was held in Lyon, struggled with his first serve and was broken five times during the match.

Monfils made a nervous start and had to save an early break point with a forehand passing shot after double-faulting twice. The Frenchman then broke Ljubicic in the fourth game with two consecutive winners down the line and closed out the set with his second break. Monfils looked poised for a routine win when he broke again for a 3-1 lead in the second set, but two return winners from Ljubicic in the next game saw him break back immediately. Another break gave Ljubicic a 6-5 lead and the veteran Croat took the match into a deciding set with an ace. Monfils recovered quickly, though, and fired a classy backhand down the line to break for a 2-0 lead at the start of the third. Ljubicic was broken again in the fourth game and Monfils closed out the match with an ace on his first match point.

“I played well today and I managed to stay in the match after losing my temper during the second set,” Monfils said. “Hopefully this will be the beginning of something, I have to realize that I’m able to play good tennis. But I don’t want to be carried away with this victory because the coming weeks will be very hard mentally.”

31
Oct
10

Clijsters wins a close one in Doha to hand another top player a defeat.

Kim Clijsters came through a tough battle with world number one Caroline Wozniacki to win the year-ending WTA Tour Championships in Doha. The players braved humid conditions, exchanging several breaks of serve, before the Belgian came through 6-3 5-7 6-3. The match was a repeat of the 2009 US Open final, the only previous meeting between the players, with Clijsters emerging victorious on that occasion. And the Belgian claimed the early advantage in Doha, breaking in a competitive opening game – which lasted eight minutes – before holding serve to take a 2-0 lead.

Wozniacki responded by taking the next two games to level matters, but the Dane was struggling for consistency and further breaks for Clijsters in the fifth and ninth games saw the third seed clinch a hard-fought opening set in 54 minutes. Clijsters was beginning to motor now, playing some lovely forehand winners, while Wozniacki appeared slightly troubled by the heat, using an ice pack between games. The world number one found herself facing two more break points in game four of the second set, saving the first but unable to do anything to keep out a confident Clijsters on the second point as the US Open champion opened up a 3-1 lead. Wozniacki found something in reserve, though, and a determined forehand in game seven allowed the Dane to claim the break back before holding serve to level the set at 4-4. Clijsters looked to be feeling the heat now and some uncharacteristic errors in game 11 allowed her opponent to break again for a 6-5 lead before holding serve to set up a decider. The pair exchanged further breaks at the start of the third as they wrestled for control of the match, but it was Clijsters who eventually gained the advantage with a decisive break in the sixth before going on to claim the win in two hours and 20 minutes.

Clijsters said afterwards: “I’m delighted to win. It was a tough battle and I want to say congratulations to Caroline on making it to number one in the rankings. “I’m sure she has a great future in the game.”

31
Oct
10

Match fixing evidence is being investigated by authorities.

Tennis’s anti-corruption authorities are looking into a spate of suspicious matches that have taken place at full ATP Tour events in Russia over the past two weeks. Highly suspicious betting patterns have been recorded in early round encounters involving male players at both last week’s $1million Kremlin Cup in Moscow and this week’s $663,000 St Petersburg Open.

The Tennis Integrity Unit, who work on behalf of the sport’s governing bodies, have refused to comment, but are sure to have had ‘red flags’ raised to them by the outcry among tennis punters, particularly on internet sites. Some British bookmakers have been so sceptical about matches in Russia they have reduced the number of markets offered to customers, despite the continuing popularity of betting on tennis. One match that drew particular attention happened in Moscow and involved a well-established Eastern European player losing to a lower-ranked opponent from South America. It attracted more than £1.5m of trades on Betfair alone and saw the odds mysteriously move in the opposite direction to what was actually happening in the match. By the time the underdog, who had originally opened at 5-1, went a set down he was bizarrely trading as favourite and when the match went into a third and deciding set he was 1-4 on to win the contest, which he duly did. The match in question was played between Nickolay Davydenko and Pueblo Cuevas and reulted in an upset win for the #70 ranked player 7-6, 7-6.  Davydenko was the subject of a similar investigation in 2004. Alarms were raised about several other outcomes.

There were about a handful in St Petersburg earlier this week, and it was enough to put several major British bookmakers on alert. Graham Sharpe, of William Hill, said in reference to St Petersburg: ‘Normally we would put up between 20 and 35 markets for each individual match, such as set

betting, but instead we have been offering just one, a straightforward win or loss. We’ve seen some strange peaks and troughs in the market in relation to what has been happening at the time.’

30
Oct
10

Ana Ivanovic splits with coach Heinz Gunthardt.

Ana and Heinz Gunthardt have ceased their coaching relationship. The pair began working together in February, with Gunthardt serving as Ana’s coach through to this month’s China Open. Although the Swiss was an almost ever-present figure at Ana’s tournaments during this time, he combined the role with his position as lead commentator for Swiss television. “I’m very grateful to Heinz for all his hard work, and for sharing his knowledge with me,” said Ana. “We had nice success together and we definitely made improvements to my game. “Looking ahead, I really need a full-time coach who is with me at all tournaments and during training periods. Heinz has family and other obligations, which I fully respect, so he is unable to give me the kind of commitment I am looking for.”

Gunthardt said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with Ana. She’s got lots of talent and I feel in the last few months the hard work that we have put in started to pay off. If Ana feels she needs a coach at her side full-time to be able to further improve, it cannot be me.” “I wish her all the best and I will be supporting her.”

30
Oct
10

Clijsters and Wozniacki meet in a rematch of the US Open final in Doha tomorrow.

Caroline Wozniacki will play former champion Kim Clijsters in the WTA Championships final after the pair won their semi-finals in Doha. Clijsters, who was involved in a car accident beforehand, saved a set point in the opener before recovering to beat Sam Stosur 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. Wozniacki also saved early break points but won the last nine games to see off world number two Zvonareva 7-5 6-0. The Dane had secured the end-of-year top ranking earlier this week.

Clijsters escaped unhurt from a car crash on her way to the stadium, with the courtesy car abandoned by the side of the road and a replacement quickly summoned. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but there was a lot of glass, and we got lucky,” said the 27-year-old Belgian.

“Everyone was distracted and I was trying to switch off my mental state. But we got lucky.” When the first of the semi-finals got under way it was maybe no surprise that Stosur started the better, racing to a 3-0 lead as her heavy, kick serve kept Clijsters on the back foot.

The Belgian, who won the end-of-season title in 2002 and 2003, recovered the early deficit and saved a break point in game nine with a rasping backhand winner down the line. It came down to a tie-break and a heavy forehand winner helped Clijsters to 5-3, from which point she took control of the match. The US Open champion produced some of her best tennis as she rattled through the second set in 26 minutes to reach the final for the first time in seven years.  “I played well at the important points and I think that’s why I won the first set and then in the second set I felt maybe she dropped her game a little bit,” said Clijsters. “I had an early chance to break, and I did, and that gave me a little bit more confidence to just try to serve it out every time.”

Fortunes fluctuated at the start of the second semi-final as Wozniacki saved four break points in the opening game and then took advantage of some poor Zvoanreva serving to move 4-1 ahead. The Russian then grabbed the momentum with four games in a row but failed to convert two set points when serving at 5-4, and Wozniacki levelled with a sweeping backhand winner. A tie-break loomed but Wozniacki would not ease up and forced a loose volley from Zvonareva in game 12 to take her first set point and move ahead. Zvonareva appeared crushed by her failure to close out the first set and her game disintegrated at the start of the second as Wozniacki broke three times in succession to wrap up an ultimately comprehensive win.

30
Oct
10

Monfils will take on Ljubicic in Montpellier final.

Gael Monfils overcame the challenge of French compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to claim his place in the final of the Open Sud de France.

Third seed Monfils edged the opening set on a tie-break, but Tsonga came back strongly in the second to level matters.

That took the match into a closely-fought decider, but Monfils claimed the crucial break to seal a 7-6 (7/2) 2-6 6-4 victory over the second seed.

Monfils will now face Ivan Ljubicic in Sunday’s final in Montpellier.

The fourth-seeded Croatian was also made to work in his semi-final by Spain’s Albert Montanes, eventually beating the sixth seed 6-3 7-6 (7/4).

29
Oct
10

Elena Dementieva, the epitome of class, retires from the WTA tour.

Olympic champion and world number nine Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from tennis after her final match at the WTA Championships in Doha. The 29-year-old Russian delivered the shock news after losing to Francesca Schiavone in the group stages of the season-ending tournament.

Dementieva reached two Grand Slam finals during her career, at the French Open and the US Open in 2004. “This is my last tournament,” she told the Doha crowd. “Thank you to all of the people that I have worked with for such a long time. I would like to thank all of the players for an amazing experience. It’s very emotional. “I would like to thank all of the people around the world for supporting me through my career. And I would like to thank my family, especially my mum.” She added: “It’s so hard to say goodbye to all of you. I want you to know that I am going to miss you so much. Thank you.”

Dementieva enjoyed her greatest success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she beat Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina on her way to the gold medal. She won 16 singles titles during her 12-year career on the WTA Tour and six in doubles, earning almost £9m in prize money. Born and raised in Moscow, Dementieva was a key figure as Russian players became a powerful force, in the women’s game especially, during the last decade.

29
Oct
10

Both ‘boys’ finally found something to hold in their hands!

Andy Murray’s brother, Jamie, has married his Colombian girlfriend at a ceremony near his hometown of Dunblane. The wedding between the 24-year-old and Alejandra Gutierrez took place at Cromlix House. Andy, who attended the wedding with girlfriend Kim Sears, was best man at the service which was a “small, private gathering” attended by close friends and family.

Mother Judy, on Twitter, said, “One down, one to go!” while Colin Fleming tweeted, “Never thought I’d see the Macarena as first dance at a wedding! To be fair, they pulled it off!”.

28
Oct
10

Final four decided in Doha.

With an ace on match point, Kim Clijsters defeated Victoria Azarenka in a competitive three-setter, 64 57 61, and locked in the final four line-up at the WTA Championships – Doha 2010. Clijsters, Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva will be in the semifinals. After losing an incredibly tight 65-minute second set it was all Clijsters in the third, as she needed just 26 minutes to prevail, her ninth win in a row on the WTA (she went 7-0 to win the US Open and also won her first match here). “It’s a matter of time. It’s work, and I know I’m going to improve. I just need more time,” Azarenka said after the match. “Next year I’m going to be stronger.”

Clijsters is now 2-0 in her group, as is Zvonareva; the two will meet on Friday, with the winner to finish No.1 in their group and the other No.2. Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic, both 0-2 so far, will also play to determine No.3 and No.4. The Top 2 in the other group were settled, with Stosur No.1 and Wozniacki No.2. Elena Dementieva and Francesca Schiavone will play for No.3.




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