Archive for April, 2012

30
Apr
12

New Blue clay surface in Madrid?….how about new Pink clay in Paris!!

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It will be interesting to see how things unfold in Madrid, particularly given it is such a major tournament – one of the Masters 1000 events on the ATP World Tour and a Premier Mandatory week for the WTA. Players are also desperate to find good form on the surface ahead of the French Open which is just four weeks away. Whatever the future holds for the blue stuff, the decision to use it has already had an effect on other tournaments.

Organisers at Roland Garros have already announced they will have a pink claycourt during the French Open, although significantly it will not be used for main tournament matches. It is instead being used as more of a publicity stunt – promoting the tournament’s ladies’ day which comes on June 7 when the women’s singles semi-finals are due to take place. Court One will be turned pink and will play host to two women’s legends matches.

Critics say Madrid’s move to blue is also nothing but a PR gimmick, although if that is the case it has certainly worked. We await the verdict of the players with bated breath.

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29
Apr
12

Masha finally wins her first title of 2012.

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Maria Sharapova came out on top in the battle between the world’s top two after convincingly defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. The Russian won her first title of the year, while denying world number one Azarenka her fifth, with a 6-1 6-4 victory in one hour, 24 minutes. Belarusian Azarenka, who had won 29 of her 30 matches in 2012 coming into the final, managed to fashion just one break point, which she failed to take, while Sharapova won three of the 11 she had.

The victory saw second seed Sharapova gain a measure of revenge for her defeats to Azarenka in the finals of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami this year.

29
Apr
12

Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova will meet in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Sunday.

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Top two seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova will meet in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Sunday after winning their respective semifinals. After all four of the world’s top ranked players made it through to the semis of a WTA event for the first time since 2009, it was the leading duo who progressed through as Azarenka knocked out Agnieszka Radwanska and Sharapova downed Petra Kvitova.

World number one Azarenka had an epic quarter-final against Mona Barthel that lasted almost three hours, but the Belarusian needed less than half that to defeat in-form Pole Radwanska 6-1 6-3 to claim a tour-high 29th win in 30 matches this year. Radwanska’s loss was only her fifth in 33 matches in 2012, with all five of those defeats coming at the hands of Azarenka.

Russian Sharapova also needed three hours to win her quarter-final against Sam Stosur and the world number two was made to work hard again by Petra Kvitova before beating the Czech third seed 6-4 7-6 (7/3).

27
Apr
12

Semi finals set in Stuttgart.

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Maria Sharapova came through a three-hour epic against Sam Stosur to reach the semi-finals of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. The world number two claimed her 10th win in 11 career meetings with the Australian but she had to do it the hard way, coming from a set down after two tie-breaks and a hard-fought deciding set. Both players’ serves held firm throughout the first set, won by Stosur on a tie-break before Sharapova responded in kind after a second set featuring one break  apiece. One more was enough for the Russian to win the decider and wrap up a 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 victory. She will face Petra Kvitova, her conqueror in last year’s Wimbledon final, after the Czech left-hander cruised past Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4. Kvitova broke three times in a scrappy first set before taking the second with a solitary break.

Top seed Victoria Azarenka was also made to battle hard before downing Germany’s Mona Barthel in three sets. The Belarusian prevailed 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 7-5 in two hours 49 minutes, taking seven of a huge 22 break points en route, but will almost certainly have to improve on that conversion rate if she is to get past Agnieska Radwanska to reach the final. Polish fourth seed Radwanska came from a set down to beat China’s Li Na 3-6 6-2 6-3 in exactly two hours.

27
Apr
12

Andy Murray suffered a surprise exit at the Barcelona Open on Friday, losing in straight sets to big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

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The 6ft 5in 21-year-old from Ontario, who crushed sixth seed Nicolas Almagro in the last round, headed into the match having never beaten a top-eight player but rarely looked overawed en route to a 6-4 7-6 (7/3) triumph. He endured a minor blip when serving for the second set, allowing second seed Murray his first break of the match, before breezing through the tie-break to clinch the biggest win of his fledgling career in one hour 44 minutes. Raonic will face third seed David Ferrer or seventh seed Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals, the Spanish duo meeting in the second quarter-final in Catalonia.

Murray had little difficulty in the last round against Santiago Giraldo, but knew he was in for a battle from the outset today. Raonic’s fierce forehands helped him bring up a break point in the opening game. Murray survived, but two aces from the world number 25 swiftly levelled things up. The first set followed a similar pattern – Murray tested on serve and Raonic holding with ease – until game seven, when a loose drop shot from the Scot resulted in a second break point for the youngster, and this time he capitalised to go 4-3 up. Raonic comfortably held again to move within a game of the set and then, after Murray had dug out the hold with the help of an ace, the Canadian brought up three set points with his ninth ace and duly took the first with a forehand winner. Having managed only four points on the Raonic serve in the first set, Murray looked brighter at the start of the second set, but continued to struggle to make inroads against the serve. The Scot served out to love in game three himself, though, and then took Raonic to deuce in game four before the Canadian pulled through with another huge serve. A superb cross-court winner edged Murray ahead again and again he then troubled the Raonic serve, but could not force the break. Just when the second set looked to be following the same format as the first, Raonic too passed up two break-point opportunities in game seven as Murray squeezed 4-3 ahead. But, after powering through another strong service game, Raonic broke Murray to give himself the chance to serve for the match and claim the biggest scalp of his career. Murray showed his battling qualities by breaking back, though, before two clinical service games took the match into a tie-break. However, if the Scot thought nerves were getting to Raonic, he was sadly mistaken. He cruised into a 5-1 lead and, although Murray engineered a chink of light by taking his two points on serve, there was no way back.

26
Apr
12

Ivanovic loses, Jankovic retires, Sharapova thru on a gift.

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Ana slipped to a 7-5, 7-6(4) defeat to Germany’s Mona Barthel in the first round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Ana led 5-3, 30-0 and had two set points in the opening set, but was unable to convert them.

Unusually for a WTA match taking place on clay, there were no breaks of serve in the second set, although Ana again failed to take her opportunities, as she earned three break points that went unconverted. To her credit, Barthel served brilliantly, smacking down 11 aces during the one hour, 43-minute match. In losing this match Ana, who only arrived in Stuttgart on Monday afternoon following the weekend’s Fed Cup tie in Moscow, suffered only her third opening round loss since she began working with coach Nigel Sears.

Maria Sharapova was a quick-fire winner in the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart when French opponent Alize Cornet retired just 50 minutes into their second-round match. Sharapova, seeded two, had won the first set 6-3 and taken the opening game of the second before Cornet signalled she could not continue due to a shoulder injury, handing the Russian a place in the last eight.

Also in the second round, in-form fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win over qualifier Greta Arn, of Hungary, breaking her opponent four times in their 78-minute match. Former world number one Jelena Jankovic (back) was another retirement, pulling out when trailing 6-3 1-0 to sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki in their first-round contest.

22
Apr
12

Stosur leads Aussie ladies into the Fed Cup top echelon.

Samantha Stosur has hauled Australia back into the Fed Cup top-flight with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic in Stuttgart. Stosur backed up her opening day straight-sets win over world No.14 Angelique Kerber to dismiss the returning Petkovic in one hour and 14 minutes on indoor red clay at the Porsche Arena. The win handed Australia an unbeatable 3-0 advantage in the tie and secured the nation a berth in the elite eight-nation World Group next year. Stosur entered the weekend with a 1-5 record this year against top-20 players following a mixed start to 2012. However the combination of the European spring and red dirt under her feet again proved agreeable as the 2010 French Open finalist produced two impressive wins before Roland Garros next month.

Following Gajdosova’s shock win over Julia Goerges on the opening day, the Germans decided to replace Goerges with world No.11 Petkovic on Sunday. It was a gamble considering that Petkovic had not played a match for three months because of back stress fractures, and the home girl was not able to cope with Stosur’s game in front of a parochial German crowd.

 

20
Apr
12

Berdych ousts Murray and moves on to face Djokovic.

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Andy Murray saw his Monte Carlo Masters challenge end at the quarter-final stage following a long tussle with sixth seed Tomas Berdych. The Scot took the first set on a tie-break, but was unable to build on his lead as his Czech opponent hit back for a 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 6-3 victory after nearly three hours on court. Berdych will now face either world number one Novak Djokovic or Robin Haase in the semi-finals.

Murray and Berdych had met just once before on clay in five previous meetings, with the latter securing a convincing win at the 2010 French Open. There was little to separate the two players early in the opening set in Monte Carlo, but Murray’s second serve then began to let him down and Berdych found himself with the first break points of the match in the eighth game. Murray saved the first with a drop shot, before Berdych wasted the next two with a forehand and a backhand into the net. The Scot then faced five more break points in game 12 as Berdych looked to claim the set, but the Czech failed to take any of them and a tie-break ensued. This time it was Murray who had the mini-break to open up a 6-2 lead. And the third seed gained the advantage on his third set point with Berdych hitting a return long. Berdych came back strongly at the start of the second set, though, and finally claimed his first break of the match in the third game when Murray put a weak forehand into the net. And a further break followed for the Czech four games later, when another poor shot from Murray gifted Berdych a 5-2 lead before he served out his next service game to level the match. Murray was looking slightly deflated now, and it was no surprise when his opponent broke again in the opening game of the third set. The third seed responded by gaining his first break point of the match in the next game and a wide forehand from Berdych levelled things up. But Murray’s serve continued to let him down and his Czech opponent got his nose in front once more in the third game following another error from the Briton. Murray fought hard to get back into the contest, but his confidence appeared to be down and Berdych wrapped up another break, and the match, with a winning forehand down the line.

Berdych told Sky Sports 1 afterwards: “It was another tough but really good match. “It’s tough to say what was key. I’m trying to play my game, trying to play aggressive. That’s key for my game and if it’s working I have the game to beat anybody, even Andy. “The win over Andy gives me a lot of confidence for the next match.”

 

 

19
Apr
12

Serbian ladies hope to match the Serbian men’s victory at the Davis Cup by winning the Fed Cup.

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Ana has arrived in Moscow ahead of the Russia versus Serbia Fed Cup semi-final, which begins on Saturday. The draw for the two-day event takes place on Friday afternoon, although it is known that, if selected, Ana will be the No.1 seed for the visitors. World No.18 Jelena Jankovic is expected to be named as the No.2 seed, while Serbian No.3 Bojana Jovanovski, ranked 96th, and 19-year-old Alexandra Krunic complete the line-up. The Russian team comprises of world No.21 Maria Kirilenko, No.22 Anastasia Pavluychenkova, No.27 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No.78 Elena Vesnina.

“Being in Belgrade this week, I really felt the excitement before this Fed Cup tie. It’s an honour to be part of this historic moment for our country,” said Ana, referencing the fact that Serbia has never before competed in a Fed Cup semi-final. I think that the two teams are quite evenly matched, but of course Russia have a lot more experience than us. It’s our job to ensure that they can’t use that advantage.”

Russia has won the Fed Cup four times in the last eight years, virtually dominating the team event, and they also boast a 3-0 head-to-head record against Serbia. “We’re looking for some revenge after the last time we played Russia,” said Ana, referencing the 3-2 defeat in Belgrade two years ago. Defending champions the Czech Republic take on Italy in the other semi-final. The final takes place during 3-4 November.

18
Apr
12

Djokovic and Nadal cruise into the round of 16 in Monte Carlo.

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Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafel Nadal both eased into the last 16 of the Monte Carlo Masters after kicking off their clay court campaigns with straight-set wins on Wednesday. Top seed Djokovic, who is yet to win the ATP 1000 Masters event, encountered few concerns in his opening match as he overcame unranked Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-4 in the second round. Seven-time defending champion Nadal then followed Djokovic on court to register a 6-4 6-3 triumph over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

Kicking off his title challenge, Djokovic raced into a 4-0 lead after 19 minutes before Seppi avoided an opening set bagel with a gutsy hold in the sixth game. The Serb broke in the third game of the second set and with Seppi unable to make any impression against serve, closed out the match in 89 minutes. Awaiting Djokovic in round three is Alexandr Dolgopolov after the Ukrainian 16th seed overcame Monte Carlo-based Bernard Tomic 6-2 5-7 6-1.

‘King of Clay’ Nadal extended his remarkable winning streak at Monte Carlo Country Club to 38 matches with a typically-assured win over unseeded Nieminen. The Spaniard belied any pre-tournament injury fears with a commanding display which ensures he remains undefeated against fellow left-handers on clay. Next up for Nadal will be a third round meeting with Mikhail Kukushkin, a 7-6 (10/8) 2-6 6-3 victor over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.

Also on Wednesday, number seven seed seed Janko Tipsarevic raced past Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2 6-3 and two home players also progressed. Gilles Simon powered past Portugal’s Frederico Gil 6-3 6-0, while Andy Murray’s third round opponent has been confirmed as Julien Benneteau after he recorded an impressive 6-4 6-3 (9/7) success over Austrian 15th seed Jurgen Melzer.




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