Archive for January, 2012

30
Jan
12

The new number one reflects on her new status.

On the emotions after winning…

“Right after the win I couldn’t understand what was happening – I couldn’t believe the tournament was over. The road since Sydney was so long, and it kind of kept going, and right now is still hasn’t hit me that it’s over and I won this.”  I was super nervous. I actually couldn’t wait to go on the court and play. It was a long wait. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m ready to go. When is it coming? When is it coming? What time is it?’ But I think I handled the situation really well after that little slack in the beginning. I’m glad I could stay humble and just take it one at a time. Just keep fighting, keep fighting, and change the momentum.” “I got messages, but my calls haven’t really been going through. There is reception but there’s some Chinese lady who keeps saying something to me when I call. So I’m definitely not getting the right place.” “The first thing I’ll tell them is I love them so much, and thank them for their support. Without them I wouldn’t be sitting here. I owe them everything.”

“I really have to keep going the same way – my mentality, one at a time. It’s going to be a long year. It’s going to be a lot of matches. I just want to keep improving. I feel like there’s no limit, that if I can try my best every day, I can reach more, little by little. It’s just going to have to stay the same.” “I think my team and my agent really helped me to just open up a little bit. Because some people judge you by how you are on the court. Some people judge you by a certain thing you do, which can be a mistake sometimes. “I’m a diferent person when I’m off the court. It just helped me to figure out it’s important to open up and be yourself. That’s the most important thing. There’s no point to really hide that. I’m really trying to show my personality.”

 

30
Jan
12

Novak Djokovic is eyeing sporting immortality!

Novak Djokovic is eyeing sporting immortality after denying Rafael Nadal once again to dramatically defend his Australian Open crown at Melbourne Park. Serbia’s tennis super-Novak outlasted Nadal 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5 in the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history – a brutal five-hour, 53-minute encounter that started on Sunday night and finished at 1:37 am on Monday morning. The gripping contest eclipsed Mats Wilander’s four-hour, 54-minute win over Ivan Lendl in the 1988 US Open final. It was also the longest match in Australian Open history, surpassing Nadal’s five-hour, 14-minute semifinal win in 2009 over countryman Fernando Verdasco and left both combatants almost out on their feet at Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic’s epic triumph from a service break down in the fifth and deciding set placed the 24-year-old alongside his vanquished Spanish foe and fellow all-time greats Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rod Laver as only the fifth man in the 45-year open era to win three consecutive majors. Djokovic will now head to the French Open in May bidding to join the legendary Laver in an exclusive club of just two players to have held all four Grand Slam men’s singles trophies simultaneously. And after thwarting Nadal for a seventh straight time in nine phenomenal months, Djokovic will arrive at Roland Garros also striving to become the first man since Donald Budge in 1937-38 to complete a non-calendar-year Grand Slam sweep.

 

29
Jan
12

Djokovic wins a 5th Grand Slam title in an epic battle of almost 6 hours duration.

World no.1 showed a terrific display against no.2 seed Spaniard Rafael Nadal today, capturing his 3rd Australian Open crown and 5th Grand Slam trophy. He came back from a set down and a break down in a decider to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 5 hours and 53 minutes. Extraordinary performance by Nole and Rafa in one of the most epic Grand Slam finals in tennis history! It was the longest men’s Grand Slam final and the longest-ever match at the Australian Open.

First set lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes. Nadal made a break in the fifth game and saved two break points before holding to increase his lead. Novak broke back and held to equalise the result. The Manacor native made one more break and closed the set 7-5. Nole earned two break points in the second game of the second set, but Nadal held. The Serb continued to push Rafa, broke his serve in the fourth game and consolidated the break to increase his lead to 4-1. He missed one set point in the eight game and squandered two more serving for the set at 5-3. The Spaniard broke back, but Novak put the pressure on him once again and forced him to deuce. The 24-year-old Belgrade native brought up a fourth set point with a booming backhand winner and took the set 6-4 in 66 minutes when Nadal double-faulted. The top seed continued his momentum into the third set. He made a double break and stormed to 6-2 and two sets to one lead in the grand finale. Nole was pushed to deuce twice in the opening game, but held to move 1-0 ahead in the fourth set. He earned himself three break points in the eighth game, but the Spaniard fought off all. The pair was locked at 4-4 when rain suspended play for 10 minutes to get the roof closed. The set went into a tie-breaker. Though Novak had a 5-3 lead, Nadal won it 7-5; the set took 88 minutes. In a dramatic contest on Rod Laver Arena, Nole overcame a 2-4 deficit in the fifth set. He fought back to 4-4 and broke Rafa again in 11th game to earn himself a chance to serve for the win. The Serbian superstar saved a break point before claiming a remarkable victory and 29th career title. Match statistics: aces (9-10), double faults (2-4), winners (57-44), unforced errors (69-71), total points won (193-176). Novak converted seven of his twenty break point opportunities, while Nadal capitalised on four of his 6 break point chances.

“Rafa, you’re one of the best players ever, one of the most respected players on tour. We made history tonight; unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners tonight. I wish you all the best for this season and I hope that we will have many more finals like this,” said Nole at the trophy ceremony. The 2009 winner praised our champion: “Congratulations to Novak and his team, they deserve it, they are doing something fantastic, so congratulations. To start the season here and play this fantastic match against Novak is, I believe, a fantastic start.” It was the third successive Grand Slam final that Nole and Rafa have played, and the Serbian no.1 extended his winning streak over Nadal to seven straight matches (six wins in 2011 – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome, Wimbledon and US Open). Djokovic has become only the fifth man since the Open Era started in 1968 to win three straight majors (joins Laver, Sampras, Federer and Nadal). He’s also joined Agassi, Federer and Wilander as only players in Open Era to win 3 and more Australian Open trophies.

 

With this memorable victory, Nole, one of the bravest fighters in the history of the game, claimed back-to-back titles in Melbourne and defended 2000 ATP points for a perfect start of the 2012 season.

 

Congratulations!

 

28
Jan
12

Victoria Azarenka outclassed Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final to win her maiden Grand Slam title and become the new world number one.

The 22-year-old Belarusian marked her first major final with a nerveless display, coming through 6-3 6-0 in an hour and 22 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. Three-time major champion Sharapova could not live with her opponent’s pace, variety or unrelenting intensity. The win sees Azarenka replace Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings. It was the first time since the 2009 Australian Open that the number one spot has been decided by the outcome of a Grand Slam final. And Azarenka was a worthy winner following a brilliant performance in which she made only 12 unforced errors to Sharapova’s 30. She joins an illustrious list of names on the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, and on this evidence more major titles await her. Azarenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year but that was the only other time she had been past the last eight of a major. She was far from convincing in the early stages, a couple of errors helping fourth seed Sharapova into a 2-0 lead. However, the Russian soon began to falter and a long backhand let Azarenka strike back to love in game four. The turning point seemed to be Azarenka’s perfectly-timed lob to hold in game seven, which she followed up with a backhand volley to break for 5-3. The first set was served out to 15 in 46 minutes and a superb passing shot gave Azarenka the early initiative in the second set. Sharapova squandered an chance to respond immediately and she was made to pay as a ruthless Azarenka took total control. Two more breaks all but ended the contest, and Azarenka survived a late scare to prevail on her first championship point.

 

27
Jan
12

The same old Murray couldn’t get the job done even though Djokovic was only firing on 3 cylinders.

Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray pushed Novak Djokovic to the limit of his powers but went down in five sets to miss out on a place in the Australian Open final. The British number one fought back from losing the first set to win the next two, and from 5-2 in the decider. But defending champion Djokovic raised his level to battle through 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 in four hours 50 minutes. The world number one, who beat Murray in the 2011 final, plays Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s showpiece at 0830 GMT. “I’m extremely delighted to be in another final,” said Djokovic, who looked exhausted when Murray led 2-1. “It was a physical match. Andy deserves credit for coming back. He was fighting, I was fighting. “It was one of the best matches I’ve played.”

Murray becomes the fist man in the Open Era to be eliminated in semi-finals at four successive Grand Slams. But he can take heart from one of the best performances of his career so far, just a few weeks into his partnership with new coach Ivan Lendl.

26
Jan
12

Rafael Nadal fought back after losing the opening set beat Roger Federer in four sets and reach the Australian Open final.

Rafael Nadal is chasing his 11th grand slam title

Federer won a tense tie-break to draw first blood, but Nadal stormed back to clinch the second set 6-2 and level up the match. The Spaniard then edged a third-set tie-break to go two sets to one up before taking the fourth 6-4 to close out victory. The two giants of the men’s game were expected to produce fireworks under the Melbourne lights on Australia Day. And they didn’t disappoint in an epic opener which lasted 56 enthralling minutes. Federer was out of the blocks quickly, producing some imperious tennis to break Nadal in the second game en route to a 3-0 lead. But the Spaniard held his nerve and gradually found a foothold in the match, breaking back in the seventh game. Both men then regained dominance on their serve to take the opener into a tie-break. Federer produced a magnificent deep forehand volley and a sublime backhand half-volley to give himself three set points at 6-3 in the break. And although Nadal saved two – one with a ridiculous forehand – he was long with a backhand on the third.

The second set opened with back-to-back love breaks, and then went with serve until Nadal went into overdrive at 3-2 up. First the Spaniard produced an incredible forehand get to headline a crucial break of serve, and then held for 5-2. After a brief break for a firework display Nadal continued to produce his own on-court pyrotechnics by breaking Federer to love again to clinch the set 6-2.

The third set went with serve to 3-3, when Federer broke for a 4-3 lead. But Nadal hit back immediately to send things heading towards the inevitable tie-break. Federer’s increasingly regular errors gave Nadal the early advantage and he raced into a 6-1 lead in the breaker. And though Federer fought back gamely to 6-5, the Spaniard held his nerve to close out the set.

The fourth set went with serve until the ninth game, when Nadal – who had created several opportunities in Federer’s earlier service games – finally found a way through. Nadal had to save two break-back points – one thanks to an outrageous lob that landed on the baseline – when he served for the match, but eventually completed victory on his second match point when Federer sent the ball long.

 

26
Jan
12

Maria Sharapova avenged her Wimbledon defeat by beating Petra Kvitova to reach the final of the Australian Open.

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Sharapova lost out to the 21-year-old in straight sets in the final at the All-England Club but she settled the score as she recorded a 6-2 3-6 6-4 victory in Melbourne. The fourth seed, who won here in 2008, will now face Victoria Azarenka in Saturday’s final.

Sharapova, though, had to dig deep to secure the win after going a break down in the deciding set, while her serve continued to misfire throughout. In fact Sharapova was guilty of conceding 10 double faults. The Russian’s powerful strokeplay was enough to see her outlast the second seed. And having fashioned two match points in the 10th game of third set, Sharapova took the opportunity to book her final at the Australian Open. “I felt like in the third set she always had the advantage,” Sharapova said. “I just thought to myself you’ve just got to go for it. “I just hung in there and got a few returns in there in the last game. “I love this sport and sometimes even if you’re not playing your best tennis, you can find a way to win.” Kvitova looked completely out of sorts in the first set, with her movement particularly suspect. Sharapova, on the other hand, was full of intensity and forced an early break from the Czech and although her opponent hit back, further breaks in the fifth and seventh games handed her the opening set. Sharapova’s serve, though, gifted Kvitova a route back into the game in the second set – with the momentum shifting in the Czech’s favour. Having levelled the match, Kvitova then broke Sharapova at the start of the deciding set and it looked like there would be only one winner. Sharapova used all her experience to hit straight back, though, and having come through a titanic seventh game she made her move to snatch the Kvitova serve and clinch the match.

 

 

26
Jan
12

Azarenka ousts Clijsters to reach her first Slam final and the chance to capture the #1 ranking.

Image Detail

Victoria Azarenka reached her first Grand Slam final and staked a claim for the No. 1 ranking when she beat defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday. The third-seeded Azarenka recovered her composure twice in periods when a resurgent Clijsters seemed to have the upper hand, breaking the veteran Belgian’s serve three times in the third set to secure victory in only her second appearance in a major semifinal. The 22-year-old Belarusian will playMaria Sharapova in the Saturday night final.

After a strong start due to a consistent serve, Azarenka’s serve deserted her in the second set and Clijsters dictated play with her solid groundstrokes and some amazing defence. But after getting the momentum back, it was Clijsters who blinked first in the third set, dropping serve in the second game and again in the fourth. She got two of those service games back, including one when she rallied from 40-0 down to win a game to get the score back to 4-3. But Azarenka rallied immediately again, breaking serve. She got triple match point trying to serve out the match and, after a double-fault on her first, she clinched it on a Clijsters’ error. Azarenka threw her racket on the court and sank to her knees, bent over with her hands covering her face. Clijsters came around the net to congratulate her. “I felt like my hand is about 200 kilograms and my body is about 1,000 and everything is shaking, but that feeling when you finally win is such a relief. My God I cannot believe it’s over. I just want to cry,” Azarenka said as she choked back tears, then buried her face in the towel. “It was just trying to stay in the moment. Kim really took over the second set and I felt there was nothing I could do. I just tried to regroup.” Clijsters is a popular player in Australia, where she’s widely known as “Aussie Kim.” The four-time major winner had most of the backing from the crowd on the national holiday in what is likely to be her last Australian Open. Azarenka held her nerve despite the crowd. “I guess before you all thought I was a mental case. I was just young and emotional,” she said in a court-side interview. “I’m really glad the way I fight, that’s the most thing I’m really proud of. I fight for every ball.”

 

25
Jan
12

Both Williams sisters on the Fed Cup team!! I’ll believe it when it happens!

The Americans will host a Belarus side in Worcester, Massachusetts, February 4-5

Venus Williams will return from illness and her sister, Serena, will play Fed Cup for the first time in nearly five years after being selected in the U.S. team to meet Belarus in a Feb. 4-5 World Group II match at Worcester, Mass. U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced the team, also containing Christina McHale and Liezel Huber, late Tuesday. “I am looking forward to having Serena and Venus on the team for the first time since I became U.S. Fed Cup captain,” Fernandez said. “They bring so much to this team, not only for what they can do on court, but the influence they will have on Christina and the rest of the team.”

It will be Venus Williams’ first appearance in a sanctioned competition since the U.S. Open, when she revealed she had Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. Serena Williams, who lost in the fourth round at the Australian Open, has not played Fed Cup since 2007. The 19-year-old McHale, ranked a career-high No. 42, will be making her second consecutive appearance and third overall for the American team. Her highlights last year included a win over No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki at Cincinnati and a run to the third round of the U.S. Open. South African-born Huber, 35, has won six of her eight career matches for the U.S. Fed Cup team. The winner of the Worcester match will advance to the World Group playoff and a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2013.

Victoria Azarenka, who is expected to lead the Belarus team, will face defending champion Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday. “Victoria is playing the best tennis I have seen from her, so we are excited to be facing Belarus in our first match in the United States in two years,” Fernandez said.

 

 

 

25
Jan
12

The time has arrived to test the Murray/Lendl combo against Djokovic in the Aussie semifinal.

Andy Murray is seeking Britain's first grand slam title since before World War II

Novak Djokovic booked a semi-final against Andy Murray at the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over David Ferrer. Djokovic saw off the challenge of fifth seed Ferrer 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in Tuesday night’s quarter-final on the Rod Laver Arena. The world number one’s reward is a clash with British hope Murray in the last four, a repeat of the 2011 final which the Serb won in straight sets to set the tone for a year of dominance. Djokovic secured the opening break in the fifth game before going on to serve out the first set in 58 minutes. But Ferrer showed his resilience in the second set, twice retrieving in a break, including when an increasingly frustrated Djokovic served for it at 6-5. A tie-break was required and the Spaniard battled into a 4-2 lead before blowing his chance. Djokovic reeled off five points in a row to turn the tie-break around and claim a two-set lead. Ferrer dropped his opening service game of the third set and, from there, Djokovic was able to close out the result without alarm.

Murray played some sublime tennis at times as he wrapped up a 6-3 6-3 6-1 victory to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the third successive year. Nishikori, who came through a five-set epic against sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round, desperately tried varying his game but he could find no answer to Murray’s play. However if there was one thing that did let Murray down at times it was his service game – with the 24-year-old broken twice. Murray broke back immediately on each occasion, though, to limit the damage. Nishikori, the first player from Japan to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park in 80 years, had spurned five break-point opportunities in the opening set. The Scot, though, was even more wasteful as he missed eight opportunities – however the one he did take was enough for him to seal the set. Murray broke at the start of the second set – only for Nishikori to hit back immediately, although he almost let the world No.4 off the hook as two chances passed him by before he finally levelled. Nishikori’s joy was shortlived, though, as Murray broke twice more to move into a two-set lead. The 22-year-old looked out on his feet at the start of the third set as Murray moved 2-0 up – although a couple of double faults allowed Nishikori to break back. Yet again Nishikori, though, failed to take advantage as Murray moved 3-1 up before accelerating away to wrap up the set and the match.

 

 

 

 




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