Archive for August, 2011

31
Aug
11

Christina McHale defeats Bartoli, and Venus pulls out.

Venus Williams has pulled out of the US Open with an unspecified illness, the referee’s office announced. Williams was scheduled to play German Sabine Lisicki in the third match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday, but pulled out while the second match between Andy Murray and Somdev Devvarman was going on.

She has been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain. According to the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation website, the disease is a chronic autoimmune illness in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. Common symptoms include dry eyes and dry mouth. As many as 4 million Americans have the disease.

Christina McHale, 19, upset No. 8 Marion Bartoli 7-6 (2), 6-2 to advance to the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her soaring career, at her favorite tournament, the US Open. McHale is from nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J. and trains year-round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the US Open. The crowd was considerably in McHale’s favor in her first two matches, including a bunch of family members who still find it extremely exciting to see the 19-year-old on the big stage. They will become more and more used to it, however, as McHale has taken her game to another level this year and surged up the WTA rankings to a career-high No. 55, and hopes to keep her US Open run going. “It is still weird and exciting for them and for me,” McHale said of her family watching her play in the US Open. “It is still super exciting to be here. It is so nice, after a long day, I can go to my own bed, wake up and have breakfast at my house. I am enjoying it so far and hopefully I can keep it going.” McHale earned her first career Grand Slam main draw victory at the 2009 US Open, defeating Polona Hercog in the opening round, earning her a night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Maria Sharapova. But now has played in the main draw of all four Grand Slams in the same year for the first time in her career and this is surely just the first year of many. As she moved up the WTA rankings, she was able to enter more tournaments and credits the increased match experience, as well as increased strength, as reasons for the improvement in her game. “I feel like I am playing well, I have played a lot of matches, I am feeling match ready and excited to be in the next round,” she said. “I have more experience now. I think that is the biggest thing. The nerves are still there but I am getting better at handling it.”

 

 

 

31
Aug
11

Madison Keys loses her match, but wins the praise of all Amercans who can now have some hope for Womens tennis after the Williams sisters are gone.

After the match, Safarova praised her opponent. “It’s tough for me to say as a player whether someone can make it (on tour), but she’s just 16 years old and already playing at a top-50 level,” she said. “She has the potential for sure.”

The 16-year-old Madison Keys came within a handful of points from pulling off the biggest win of her career, but she ended up coming out on the losing end of her thrilling three-set match against No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova, falling 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Keys opened up the match playing near flawless tennis, winning 16 of the first 18 points. Up 5-0 and with set points on Safarova’s serve, the young American began to tighten up, wasting two set points at 5-0 and two more at 5-1. However, she made good on her second try serving out the set, holding at love with a service winner. “I was willing to wait in the beginning and see if she would get nervous or make easy mistakes, but she really surprised me with how well she played,” Safarova said. “I didn’t feel well out on court in the beginning though.”

Keys showed tremendous composure in regrouping after losing the second set, taking advantage of a poor serving game from Safarova to break for a 2-1 lead. Keys had three game points for a 3-1 lead, but was unable to convert on any of them and lost her serve to level the match at 2-2. With Safarova serving at 3-3, a lengthy four-deuce game ensued that featured some of the best rallies of the match. A strong return of serve from Keys secured the break and a 4-3 lead, but she immediately lost her own serve once again to even things up at 4-4. One game later, Keys served to stay in the match at 4-5. She quickly went down 0-40 and sent a forehand long on Safarova’s second match point to wrap up play after over two hours on court.

 

 

 

31
Aug
11

The #6 and #10 seeds are gone in week #1.

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Robin Soderling withdrew from the U.S. Open because of illness. The Swede was scheduled to face qualifier Louk Sorensen in the first round Wednesday. “Lucky loser” Rogerio Dutra da Silva of Brazil took his spot. His agent said in a statement that Soderling started feeling “really bad” Tuesday night with stomach pain and a headache. A doctor recommended he not play. Soderling had not played since withdrawing from Montreal with a wrist injury in early August.

“Wrist is feeling better. Travelling to NY tomorrow,” he tweeted Aug. 21. Soderling missed Cincinnati because of a throat problem that agent Nina Wennerstrom said might be related to the virus that sidelined him in New York. He won at Bastad in his last tournament in mid-July. The two-time French Open runner-up reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows last year to equal his best result.

Julien Benneteau powered his way through to the second round, eliminating No. 10 seed Nicolas Almagro in his bid for the 2011 US Open. Armed with a rocket for a serve, the Frenchman bested the Spanish clay-court specialist in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. The match was evenly contested from the baseline, but the deciding factor proved to be service games and break-point chances. Benneteau fared better in both categories, capitalizing on a 62 percent first-serve percentage and converting on 6-of-10 break-point chances. Almagro, on the other hand, faltered, as his first serve let him down throughout the match (49 percent) and he failed convert on break point opportunities. The 10th seed went 1-of-13 in those critical moments.

 

 

 

31
Aug
11

Yawn, yawn, yawn…..it’s the first week of another Grand Slam!

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It’s the first boring week of yet another much-promoted Grand Slam event where the players everyone wants to see are matched against players whose names are unfamiliar to many of us, or are given free-rides into the later rounds. Nothing is as mind-numbing as having to watch Djokovic or Nadal play the best of five sets against a player who has no hope of winning anymore than a couple of fluky games in a three hour charade. But the Grand Slam format is a part of the tennis tradition, and will probably continue long into the future. It is one of the reasons why the sport is falling behind in popularity with young sports fans, and why, if it wasn’t for the increase in ticket prices, the Slams would be losing propositions.

I’m not qualified to offer advice, nor do I presume to be an expert on the game, except as a spectator and fan. As a fan, I enjoyed the ATP Finals in London, the round robin format, the high quality level of the tennis, and the simple pleasure of seeing match after match played by the very best players. I have to pose the question, why don’t we see more of this type of event?

Isn’t it a better test of tennis for a player such as Federer to be forced to play 4 matches against 4 ‘real’ opponents rather than to see him play 6 or 7 matches in a Grand Slam against just one or two worthy combatants?

From a fan’s perspective, and all the seats were sold out, there were no ‘garbage’ matches, no warm-ups for the top players at the fan’s expense, no walk-in-the-park offerings that give tennis its boring reputation, plus there is the additional benefit of a reduction in the court time for the players. Every match was a kin to a quarter or semi final, and the results reflected the competitiveness.

I’m all for dividing the ATP and WTA rankings into tiers of twenty players, and the individual players would move up or down according to their match results within their tier. Top two up, and bottom two down, just like Soccer, the Fed Cup or the Davis Cup.

Tennis is due for some changes to make it more fan friendly, the traditional 5- 6 hour matches of Grand Slams are boring until the end, TV schedules are often disrupted, and Tennis remains as an elite sport supported by a core of frustrated weekend players.

Remuneration for players outside of the top 30 is barely enough for them to be able to continue in their profession without sponsor support. A tiered tournament could be structured to increase the prize money for those players who win and move up, instead of he or she being defeated in the first round of a Grand Slam by a top ten player, and going home in debt.

With the sharp increase in injuries, the complaints from some players about the length of the season, and the separation of the top players from all the others, it is time to think about making some changes.

 

30
Aug
11

Venus’s preparation will be the deciding factor in her second round match against Sabine Lisicki.

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Coming into the US Open, Sabine Lisicki, who’s never been ranked higher than No. 18 in the world, is one of the dark horses to win the women’s singles crown. Fresh off her second title of the season this past weekend at the inaugural Texas Tennis Open in Dallas, the No. 22 seed continued her recent run of form Tuesday on the new Court 17, defeating Alona Bondarenko, 6-3, 6-3.  She’ll square off against two-time US Open champion Venus Williams in a highly anticipated second-round clash. They’ve split their two previous meetings, with Williams winning their most recent encounter in Dubai last year. “The Williams sisters always play well at the Grand Slams, and you can never underestimate them,” Lisicki stated. “It’s for sure going to be a tough match. A very good challenge. But if you want to succeed, you have to beat the best.”

30
Aug
11

Li Na crashes out, Schiavonne scrapes through, and Ivanovic has her blood pressure checked…..just a normal day at the US Open!

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Twenty-four hours after Kvitova had crashed out at the hands of Alexandra Dulgheru, Chinese star Li went down 6-2 7-5 to her Romanian compatriot, Simona Halep. A surprise winner on the Paris clay back in June, Li had proved her hardcourt credentials at the start of the season when she made the final of the Australian Open. However, Flushing Meadows did not prove to be to her liking. Halep dominated the first set and when she moved a break up in the second, the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd sensed a shock. The sixth seed managed to get back on level terms but then lost her serve again at 5-5 before Halep served out.

Seventh seed Francesca Schiavone, last year’s French Open champion, had to fight hard to avoid a similar upset against Galina Voskoboeva, of Kazakhstan. Schiavone started well enough but went off the boil in the second set before scrapping to a 6-3 1-6 6-4 victory. A total of 16 double faults did not help the Italian’s cause and she will need to improve to stand any chance of contending in New York.

There was also a scare for Ana Ivanovic, the former French Open champion seeded 16 at this event. She had to have her blood pressure taken during her clash with Ksenia Pervak but recovered to post a 6-4 6-2 win. Ivanovic, who was a break down early on in the match, has never been beyond last 16 in New York.

 

 

30
Aug
11

Tsonga on a collision course to meet Federer again.

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga enjoyed smooth progress into the second round of the US Open on Tuesday. The Frenchman, who famously came from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in SW19 earlier this summer, eased past Yen-Hsun Lu in New York, winning 6-4 6-4 6-4. Tsonga used his big-hitting game to fend off his Taiwanese opponent, smashing 39 winners past him on Flushing Meadows’ Grandstand court. Having broken serve once in each of the opening two sets, Tsonga looked set to wrap up victory when he raced 4-0 ahead in the third. However, Lu then produced his best tennis of the match to break Tsonga for the first time, but although he reduced the deficit to 4-3 another break proved beyond the world number 82. Tsonga, who also beat Federer in Montreal recently, could meet the Swiss again in the quarter-finals of this tournament, although he may first have to get past in-form American Mardy Fish at the last-16 stage.

Fifth seed David Ferrer had more of a struggle. He needed to come from a set down to see off Igor Andreev in four. The Spaniard made an awful start on Louis Armstrong Stadium but losing the first set seemed to give him the kick he needed. Ferrer, a semi-finalist in New York in 2007, turned things around to win 2-6 6-3 6-0 6-4.

30
Aug
11

Roger & Venus both unimpressive winners on day one.

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Venus Williams played her first match in two months and beat 91st-ranked Vesna Dolonts of Russia 6-4, 6-3. Williams hit six aces and 28 total winners against the weary Dolonts, who left Moscow at 4 a.m. EDT and arrived at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at 4 p.m., after having flights cancelled Saturday and Sunday because of Tropical Storm Irene. “It’s always nerve-racking to play the first match after a layoff in a major. It’s not really my first choice at all,” said Williams, who pulled out of recent tune-up tournaments because of a virus. “But I just tried to rely on experience and, I don’t know, just tried to get after it. So I was pleased with the level.”

In the day’s last match, 16-time major winner Roger Federer beat 54th-ranked Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to collect his 224th victory in Grand Slam play, tying Andre Agassi for second-most in the Open era. “It doesn’t need to be pretty. I don’t think I’ve ever played my very, very best in the first round. It’s always nice to be winning matches,” said Federer, who now trails only Jimmy Connors’ career total of 233. Also in the night session, Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., fell 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to Christina McHale of the United States. Wozniak fought back to take the second set in a tiebreaker and was up 2-0 in the third, but McHale took control and shut out the Canadian in the final game.

Other winners included No. 7 Gael Monfils; No. 8 Mardy Fish, who played his first U.S. Open match as the top-seeded American and beat Tobias Kamke 6-2, 6-2, 6-1; No. 9 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up; No. 13 Richard Gasquet; No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov; and No. 27 Marin Cilic, who eliminated 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (6).

 

29
Aug
11

16 year-old Madison Keys defeats one of the oldest player in the draw.

Madison Keys, a 16-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, became the youngest player since 2005 to win a U.S. Open match by beating 37-year-old Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-4 on Monday. Keys was making her Grand Slam debut and third tour-level appearance. At 455th, she’s the lowest-ranked woman in the field. Craybas was playing in her 45th consecutive Grand Slam tournament, but is ranked 111th and—like Keys—needed a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association to get into the main draw. She made her Grand Slam debut at the 1996 U.S. Open, about 18 months after Keys was born, and was the second-oldest entrant this year.

Four 16-year-olds, all days or weeks younger than Keys—Vania King, Nicole Vaidisova, Sessil Karatantcheva and Alexa Glatch—won U.S. Open matches in 2006.

 

29
Aug
11

Wimbledon champ goes down to defeat in round 1 of US Open.

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Petra Kvitova became the first reigning Wimbledon champion to lose in the first round of the US Open in the Open era when she went down 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 to Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania. The Czech has had a difficult time since beating Maria Sharapova in the final at the All England Club in July, winning only two matches, and she looked shaky from the start at Flushing Meadows. In contrast, world number 49 Dulgheru played a very solid match and, after breaking Kvitova to lead 5-3 in the second set, she served out the victory to love.

In other matches, Germany’s Julia Goerges, the 19th seed, eased to a 6-3 6-2 victory over compatriot Kristina Barrois while 27th seed Lucie Safarova came from a set down to beat Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6 6-3 6-2. Laura Robson advanced to the second round of the US Open today when Japanese opponent Ayumi Morita retired with the British teenager leading 7-6 (7/5) 1-0. Morita called for the trainer after the first game of the second set and, after a brief assessment of what appeared to be a right shoulder injury, she decided she could no longer continue. During the hour and one minute of play, 17-year-old qualifier Robson competed well with Morita, ranked 46th in the world, and had just broken the Japanese player’s serve for the fourth time when play was halted. Robson was playing in the main draw of the US Open for the first time after coming through qualifying and certainly looked more relaxed than she had during her victories over Taylor Townsend and Ling Zhang on Friday.




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