Archive for June, 2011

30
Jun
11

Andy Murray’s bid to become the first British man to reach the men’s singles final at Wimbledon since 1938 faces the ultimate challenge.

Graphic of Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray’s bid to become the first British man to reach the men’s singles final at Wimbledon since 1938 faces the ultimate challenge – a semi-final on Friday against defending champion Rafael Nadal. Murray has barely been tested so far, but knows he is going to have to play at his very best to beat the 10-time Grand Slam winner. The Scot has managed only four wins in 15 encounters with Nadal and lost in straight sets to the Spaniard at this stage last year, and again recently in the French Open semi-finals.

Tennis experts Tim Henman, John McEnroe give their tactical analysis on how he can beat Nadal.

TRY TO GET UNDER HIS SKIN – JOHN MCENROE

“Murray has beaten him on four different occasions, including the US Open semi-final. “I would make sure the umpire is aware of the rules on time-delay warnings. Nadal seems to take his time often, so try to get under his skin. He’s got a routine, Murray should say ‘I’m not accepting this’. “I would try to cut off Nadal’s wide serve. Then when Murray is serving I would say that instead of going big and hitting 50% of his first serves in by going flat-out, he should take a little off so that he doesn’t have to have as many second serves, which Nadal can pounce upon.”

ANDY HAS GOT TO BE PROACTIVE – TIM HENMAN

“Strategy is very important. If he plays too cautiously then I think Nadal is just so good from the back of the court – he hits the ball so hard. “Andy’s got to try and make things happen, but he’s beaten Nadal before and I definitely think he can win on Friday. “It is so difficult to pick a weakness in Rafa’s game, but I would say it is his backhand return at the deuce box. I think that is where I would like to see Andy using a slower serve out wide and maybe sneaking in to serve and volley a bit, as I think he can win some cheap points. “It’s an option Juan Martin del Potro exploited in his fourth-round match with Nadal and it is something for Andy to look out for. “His second serve percentage of 65% against Feliciano Lopez was good, but it’s flattering because Lopez doesn’t really have the baseline game of Nadal. “He has still got to be aggressive on his second serves as he doesn’t want to let Nadal dominate. It’s about him getting this balance right. He has to be proactive and look to be aggressive.

BBC Sports.

30
Jun
11

Let’s hope the Wimbledon final is better than the semis!

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Maria Sharapova overcame serving problems to book her place in second Wimbledon final. The 2004 champion returned to the final in SW19 for the first time since her triumph as a 17-year-old, thanks to a 6-4 6-3 win over wild card Sabine Lisicki. However, a first-serve percentage of just 48 and a tally of 13 double faults was worrying for the fifth seed, who now faces Petra Kvitova in Saturday’s title decider.

Petra Kvitova moved into the Wimbledon final with a 6-1 3-6 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka. The rising Czech star will now play Maria Sharapova in Saturday’s final. It was a typically powerful performance from the 21-year-old, who, after a flying start, was able to put a second-set blip firmly behind her to dominate the decider and reach her maiden Grand Slam final. Kvitova had to save a break point in the first game of the match but after that took firm control. She broke Azarenka for the first time in the fourth game and even a fire alarm going off just outside the court could not shift her focus.

 

 

30
Jun
11

Ana Ivanovic has hired Nigel Sears to be her coach.

Ana to work with Nigel Sears

Sears will step down as the head of women’s coaching for the Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). A veteran, Sears also coached former top-10 players Amanda Coetzer and Daniela Hantuchova and is the father of Andy Murray’s longtime girlfriend, Kim. Ivanovic has known Sears for a couple of years. “I couldn’t be happier,” Ivanovic said in a statement. “I’ve admired Nigel for some time now, and I can’t wait to start working with him on court. t was important that I waited for the right coach, and we are both excited about the challenges ahead.”

Both parties are said to anticipate a long-term relationship. It is likely that Sears signed a long-term contract and is making at least what he was at the LTA, as he has a family. Ivanovic has repeatedly said this year that she wanted a long term commitment from a coach after she was unable to secure one from Heinz Gunhardt last year and recently was unable to convince adidas Player Development coach Darren Cahill to spend more time with her. The former No. 1 has been through a series of personal changes over the past seven months. After Gunhardt declined to become her full time coach because he wanted to retain his television work and spend time with his family, she hired coach Antonio van Grichen, the former tutor of Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva, but they parted ways after just two months in February.

She and Sears will collaborate in finding her a new physical trainer, but she will not hire a full time hitting partner, instead employing different people throughout the upcoming U.S. summer hard court season. Ivanovic is currently on vacation and will begin to work with Sears upon her return in a couple of weeks. She is scheduled to play Stanford, San Diego, Toronto and Cincinnati prior to the US Open.

 

30
Jun
11

Novak Djokovic is only one win away from reaching world no.1!

Should Nole advance to the Championships final on Sunday he will become the new world no.1. He can earn the no.1 ranking also if the top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal fails to defend the title. The Serbian improved his match record for the season to an impressive 46-1 mark.

Second-seeded Novak will face no.12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in his first Wimbledon finals. The 26-year-old Frenchman upset six-time champion, world no.3 Roger Federer in five sets, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, and became the first player ever to overturn a two-set deficit and beat the Swiss in a Grand Slam match. Djokovic and Tsonga have met seven times, the Le Mans native leads 5-2. Their last encounter was in quarter-finals of Australian Open 2010, the Frenchman prevailed in five sets.

The Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic needed 4 sets to get past world no.158 Australian sensation and his regular practice partner Bernard Tomic on Wednesday at Wimbledon, winning their quarter-final clash 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in 2 hours and 41 minutes. “I’m delighted to be through, it’s a great result,” said Nole after the match. “In the first set I played well but one bad service game in the second let him in and then he was the better player. I had some very difficult service games but I managed to hold on and win the match. He’s such an unpredictable player – very young and hitting a lot of winners. He did not make a lot of errors from the baseline and that made my life very difficult. I tried to change the pace but he was better at that, so it was cat and mouse. I’m just pleased to get through.” This is Novak’s fifth straight Grand Slam semi-final. Djokovic has twice reached the semifinals at the All England Club, in 2007 and 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

29
Jun
11

Maria Sharapova is the oldest female left still competing for the women’s crown at Wimbledon.

Hard to think of glamorous Maria Sharapova as an old lady. “I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not,” laughed the 24-year-old star on Tuesday when asked about being the “old lady” left in the draw. “I had my success early in my career, and I don’t regret it for one second. “I think maybe if I achieved big things when I was a little bit older, not 17, maybe I wouldn’t be seen as more of a veteran. I’d still be considered young. It is the way it is, right? Can’t do anything about it.” It is hard to believe that Sharapova’s spectacular coming out party was, indeed, way back in 2004, when she won Wimbledon as a shrieking, long-legged Cinderella and used her cell phone on court to call her mommy back in Russia. It seemed it was just the beginning of a Hall of Fame career.

Seven years later, she’s back in the semifinals at the All-England Club for the first time in five years hoping to get back to the final for the first time since she won it. There has been more success, one other Grand Slam victory in Australia, and of course riches beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, with her tennis earnings and endorsements easily making her the highest paid female athlete ever. Many other players have enjoyed greater on-court success, and even now. Sharapova is just No. 6 in the world. But she is more experienced and accomplished than the rest of the remaining field and perhaps now ready again to grab the Wimbledon throne. Her father, Yuri, is no longer her coach, replaced by Swedish national Thomas Hogstedt. In her box for many matches, including this Wimbledon, is her fiance Sasha Vujacic, a star with the NBA New Jersey Nets, who she says shares an “understanding” of the life, habits and needs of professional athletes. To many, Sharapova has been a disappointment, an underachiever. We have yet to find if she has more tennis glory ahead of her. “It’s the road that you sometimes have to take,” she said philosophically after her easy 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday. “It’s not always straight. There are a lot of zig zags.”

None of the other women left in the Wimbledon singles draw have a Grand Slam to their name or are older than 21. Sharapova’s opponent on Thursday in the semifinals, 21-year-old Sabine Lisicki of Germany, has only ever won two tournaments, neither one of them a biggie. That said, Lisicki has become the darling of this tournament somewhat like Sharapova was in ‘04, a wild card entry ranked as high as No. 22 in the world back in 2009 before a serious ankle injury knocked her out of action for five months. Now, she’s the first German woman to make the Wimbledon semis since Steffi Graf in ‘99, has one of the biggest serves on tour and showed a dizzying array of drop shots and angles in dismantling Marion Bartoli of France on Tuesday. The drop shots in particular, maybe two dozen in all, seemed like body punches to a boxer, and by the end Bartoli had no legs. “I was so exhausted I could barely walk from one side to the other,” said the Frenchwoman wearily afterwards. So Lisicki most definitely has the weapons to beat Sharapova, and the ability to carry out a game plan. The mental strength? Well, the German had enough of that to beat Chinese star Li Na, and to persevere after blowing three match points to Bartoli in the second set.  “I don’t have the power to change the weather,” smiled Bartoli. “Not yet.”

Neither does Sharapova have the power to turn back time. Perhaps she has no inclination to do so.

By Damien Cox

Sports Columnist

 

 

 

 

29
Jun
11

Murray will try again against Rafa on Friday!

Wimbledon 2011: Rafael Nadal sets up Andy Murray clash with victory over Mardy Fish

With third seed Roger Federer exiting to Jo Wilfried-Tsonga, the winner of this year’s championships at SW19 could well come from either Murray or Nadal – who contested a semi-final here last summer. If Nadal brings the same game he displayed in the first two sets this afternoon, Murray will have one hell of a fight on his hands to make his first Wimbledon final, although the Scot will present a much harder challenge than Fish, who disappointed at times today. The first seed broke Fish three times in the opening set and showed no signs of a recurrence of his foot injury to put in some punishing forehands and move 2-0 up. Fish upped his game to take the third but a clinical break at the start of the fourth was enough for Nadal to take the match 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-4 and reach a remarkable 16th major semi-final at the age of 25.

Murray treated an excitable Centre Court crowd to a first-class performance as he overcame the Spanish No 44 in straight sets, barely faltering as he galloped his way towards his third Wimbledon, with semi-final to join Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal. The Brit, seeded fourth at SW19, owned the game from the outset, holding his nerve despite valiant efforts from the Spaniard to turn the tables. A brilliant return on a 131mph serve from Lopez won Murray his first break point, closely followed by a powerful forehand that hit the baseline and left Lopez not knowing where to look. One set down, Murray was on a roll. Lopez held his serve to win the first game of the second set, but the Scot soon bounced back, edging closer to another break with a series of perfectly-judged returns and a backhand that sent left-hander Lopez running in the wrong direction. As the light faded and the crowds swarmed to Centre Court, Murray seemed buoyed by the cheers of support – and the inevitable “C’mon Jamie” – and cruised his way through to win the second set with exactly two hours on the clock. By the third set, Murray lost his focus temporarily, giving away a few points with reckless net shots that gave Lopez his first opportunity of the match. An apparent hip injury left him hobbling towards 2-2 – and the first deuce on Murray’s serve – but the Brit wasn’t ready to give up easily, scoring a stylish ace that had the crowds on their feet.

A late challenge to an incorrect baseline call gave Murray the advantage, and Lopez struggled to hold on as the Brit bounced and aced his way across the court. There were no hot dog shots, but a cheeky chip over the net showed the Spaniard who was in control – and as the match drew to a close, an on-form Murray could do no wrong. Seconds later, it was over, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Murray raised his arm in salute, throwing his wristband to the cheering crowds as a delighted Pippa Middleton and mum Judy looked on. The Brit will face world No 1, and reigning Wimbledon champion, Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals on Friday.

 

 

29
Jun
11

Roger Federer’s dream of a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title is over!

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Roger Federer’s dream of a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title is over for another year after he blew a two-set lead as he lost to Jo Wilfried-Tsonga. Tsonga fought back to win 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 on Centre Court to set up a semi-final meeting with Novak Djokovic. It was the first time Federer had lost from two sets up in a grand slam match and the defeat ended his hopes of drawing level with Pete Sampras’ title tally – at least for another 12 months. It had all looked so different after Federer had started superbly, breaking Tsonga’s serve twice in taking the opening set. The second was a tighter affair but a poor breaker from Tsonga, which he lost 7-3, allowed the third seed into a two-set lead. However, against all odds, the Queen’s Club runner-up dug deep and began his unlikely comeback. Serving superbly, the Frenchman did not face a single break point in sets three and four as he levelled the contest. Then another break of the Swiss’ serve arrived in the opening game of the decider. It was a lead not to be relinquished, Tsonga again denying Federer any chance to break as he served out a famous victory.

An out-of-sorts Novak Djokovic survived some scary moments to book his place in the Wimbledon semi-finals, beating teenage Australian Bernard Tomic 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5 on Court One. The Serbian second seed, with just one defeat to his name in 2011, was lethargic and error-prone against his Australian practice partner, was broken three times and needed a run of seven straight games spanning the third and fourth sets to put him in command.

He will need to play much better if he is to progress into a maiden SW19 final, though, and may have some concerns over an injury he seemed to suffer when falling in the fourth set.

 

 

29
Jun
11

Tomic & Fish are out of their depths in the first of today’s matches.

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Nadal’s match against Fish is the second match on Court One, with Bernard Tomic and Novak Djokovic getting the action underway. That match will see the master take on his apprentice, with Djokovic having taken the 18-year-old Australian under his wing and used him as a regular practice partner. “Novak is a champion,” Tomic said. “He’s obviously won grand slams before. My relationship is really good with him. I’ve hit with him a lot of times. He’s a cool guy – one of the nicest guys on the tour.”

Rafael Nadal will not suffer a repeat of the foot injury that hampered him during his fourth-round victory over Juan Martin Del Potro. World No.1 Nadal suffered the problem to his left foot at the start of clash, leaving the Spaniard fearing his tournament was over. A scan, though, revealed only minor swelling of a tendon in the foot, rather than the broken bone that Nadal had feared, and Dr Ignacio Munoz of the Spanish Tennis Federation believes the problem will not resurface in the quarter-final meeting with Mardy Fish. “There is no risk in him playing,” Munoz said. “You can see that he is training quite normally. I don’t think he will have any problems.”

 

 

28
Jun
11

Azarenka will have her hands full against Kvitova in the other Wimbledon semifinal.

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Victoria Azarenka was not distracted by an early change of scenery as she reached her maiden Wimbledon semi-final with a straight-sets hammering of unseeded Austrian Tamira Paszek. Rain meant the quarter-final clash was moved to be played under Centre Court’s roof after just one game had been completed on Court One. The lengthy delay caused by the relocation did not put off the 21-year-old fourth seed though, as the highest-ranked player left in the draw delivered a brutal display. Azarenka had fallen at the quarter-final hurdle in grand slams on four occasions before today but she outclassed world number 80 Paszek to secure a 6-3 6-1 victory in an hour and 24 minutes on court to set up a last-four clash on Thursday with Czech Petra Kvitova.

“I’m really glad we managed to play and I’m really happy with the win,” Azarenka said. “I knew when we went back to the locker rooms they said they were going to have a meeting to decide where we were going to play. “I’m glad we managed to play and thank God for the roof. It is just amazing. “It’s my mum’s birthday today so I really wanted to give her a good gift so I was trying to play beautiful today.

Petra Kvitova was relieved to overcome the stage fright that descended when she realised she was on the brink of a second successive Wimbledon semi-final appearance. The Czech eighth seed coasted through the opening set and looked a major contender for the title as she overpowered Tsvetana Pironkova, Venus Williams’ fourth-round conqueror. But composure deserted her throughout the second set, especially in the latter stages of the tie-break, only to return in the decider as she prevailed 6-3 6-7 (7/5) 6-2. Kvitova, who had registered only straight sets victories until her game on Tuesday, admitted the prospect of an immediate return to the last four at the All England Club had weighed heavily on her mind. “I started very well. At the beginning I was better and I played so well like in previous matches,” said the 21-year-old. “But then I got a little nervous and in my mind there was something, I don’t know what it was. I was mentally down. “I became nervous because I knew that I could be in the semi-finals again and that was in my head. It wasn’t good for me and I made some easy mistakes. “So I was so happy that I won the first game in the third set, that I broke her. Then it was better.” Kvitova lost to Serena Williams in the semi-finals last year in what proved to be a bittersweet experience.

 

 

28
Jun
11

Lisicki will play Sharapova in the Wimbledon semifinal.

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Sabine Lisicki’s fairytale Wimbledon continued as she knocked out Serena Williams’ conqueror Marion Bartoli to reach her first grand slam semi-final. The 21-year-old wild card certainly did things the hard way after blowing three match points in the second set and being taken to a decider, but she held her nerve eventually to triumph 6-4 6-7 (7/4) 6-1.

Ninth seed Bartoli had been the favourite going into the third set but simply could not sustain the level she had showed on Monday in beating defending champion Williams. Lisicki said: “I’m speechless. It’s unbelievable. I was very disappointed with the game I played in the second set at 5-4 but I felt like I was the better player today and I knew I just had to focus and fight again in the third set to win it.” A quarter-finalist two years ago, Lisicki spent last summer on crutches after an ankle operation and earlier this year dropped outside the top 200 in the rankings. Although the roof was on Centre Court, that did not stop the weather affecting Lisicki as a huge rumble of thunder reverberated just as she was about to serve.

Maria Sharapova swept Dominika Cibulkova aside to march into her first Wimbledon semi-final since 2006. The 24-year-old Russian took exactly an hour to complete a 6-1 6-1 victory and set up a clash with Sabine Lisicki. Cibulkova, who beat top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the last round, could not live with the power or accuracy of the 2004 champion’s thumping groundstrokes. Sharapova crashed down 23 winners to clinch a runaway win and show why she is favourite to reclaim her title. The fifth seed, who is the only Grand Slam winner left in the tournament following the departure of the Williams sisters on Monday, lived up to that billing with a devastating display of power and panache under the Centre Court roof. She attacked from the start, winning eight games in a row after Cibulkova had held in the opener, and produced some stunning shots from either flank.

 

 

 




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