Australian Open Day 7 – Woodbridge on Tomic, Kyrgios;
Corretja on Moya/Raonic; Durie on Konta
Australian Open Day 7 – Woodbridge on Tomic, Kyrgios;
Australian Open Day 7 – Woodbridge on Tomic, Kyrgios;
Corretja on Moya/Raonic; Durie on Konta
Three years ago, Victoria Azarenka was the pre-eminent rival to Serena Williams and about to win her second Australian Open title.
A debilitating foot injury, unhappiness off the court and a plummeting ranking later and the Belarussian’s career took some rebuilding. Finally, it seems the foundations are back in place, and after winning the Brisbane title, the Tennis Podcast (in association with The Telegraph) wonders whether a third Australian Open crown could be a couple of weeks away.
Listen to the show – http://goo.gl/UIUlUt
Fitness doubts surround Williams, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, and Azarenka, despite being ranked No.16 in the world, is the player that could profit when the year’s first Grand Slam tournament gets underway on Monday.
Meanwhile, pod presenter Catherine Whitaker was in Doha and didn’t know where to look while watching Rafael Nadal suffer a ‘toe-curling’ defeat to Novak Djokovic in the final.
Can anyone beat Djokovic in Melbourne? Stan Wawrinka is looking pretty good again, says co-presenter David Law, who is on his way to Melbourne for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Finally, Andy Murray talks about how he is targeting a record 5th Aegon Championships title at The Queen’s Club, having signed up to play in the event in the weeks before Wimbledon.
The Tennis Podcast is produced in association with The Telegraph.
Listen – http://goo.gl/UIUlUt
Heading into the 2013 Australian Open the No. 1 ranking spot in the WTA is once again going to be up for grabs. As things stand, Victoria Azarenka is at the top of the pile following a superb 2012 season, but Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are both ready and waiting to take over from the Belarusian. Here’s a run-down of the prospects of the three competitors.
Victoria Azarenka – Rank 1 – Points 10595
Vika is out in front by over 500 points but this won’t necessarily count for a huge amount in Melbourne. As the defending champion she can only lose points or remain on the same total. This wouldn’t be a concern if Azarenka was miles ahead of the rest of the field, but Sharapova and Serena are both breathing down her neck and are likely to take over if she falls early.
We all know that Azarenka is capable of great things. Her hardcourt slam results were the best in the WTA last year and she came within a whisker of winning the US Open. The significance of that outcome is that she was agonisingly close to beating Serena in a final on one of the four biggest stages in world tennis.
However, whilst Vika came close in Flushing Meadows she didn’t manage to test Serena as much at the WTA Championships in Istanbul. The American seems to have a hold over her and this could be her toughest challenge to overcome. If this isn’t enough, Azarenka also has an infected toe to deal with right now, which could derail her title bid.
Maria Sharapova – Rank 2 – Points – 10045
As last year’s runner-up, Sharapova will also need to produce some great performances in order to improve on her ranking situation. Last year the Russian played superbly throughout the tournament before capitulating in the final. She went on to win the French Open in 2012 though, so it seems unfair to read too much into this. Masha isn’t what you’d call a choker.
Unfortunately, Sharapova’s chances also appear to have been hampered by injury. She had to pull out of the Premier tier Brisbane International at the beginning of the season due to a collarbone injury and her first match of the year will be in round one at Melbourne. This could turn out to be an issue for the Russian.
Whilst her preparations have not been ideal, Sharapova cannot be ruled out at this stage. She’s one of the most dedicated players on the tour and won’t need long to shake off the rust.
Serena Williams – Rank 3 – Points – 9750
After making a fourth round exit last season Serena has a major opportunity to pick up some points. 2000 are on offer for the winner and she only has 280 to defend. Heading into the tournament she’s won the last two slams, picked up two Olympic golds and won the season-ending WTA Championships. She’s undeniably the player to beat right now.
On hardcourts there are few who can test the world No. 3. Her serve is arguably the biggest in the WTA and her attacking game is usually devastating. Unforced errors can creep in on occasion but more often than not the American is a class above the rest of her peers.
If she doesn’t take the lead here there’s always the French Open. Serena suffered a shock loss against Virginie Razzano last year at Roland Garros and her points total is likely to rocket after her return.
My prediction is that Serena will return to the top of the pile at the end of the Melbourne fortnight. After last year’s French Open slip up she’ll be wary of complacency and harder to beat than ever.
Ian Horne writes for Live-Tennis.com, an award-winning tennis, news and live stream website.
The 2013 tennis season is upon us already and the Australian Open is less than one week away. All the major contenders have been training hard in the off season to set themselves in the best possible shape for the first slam of the year. This week past however was the first week of competitive action for the new season, our first chance to see who has been putting in the hard yards over the winter.
Andy Murray got his year of to the perfect start by retaining his Brisbane Open Title beating the new Federer Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in two tough sets. The Scot lifted his 25 career title which sets him up nicely for an assault on Melbourne Park. Serena Williams was utterly dominant in the ladies competition as she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final. Williams is showing the kind of form that saw the American win Wimbledon, Olympic Gold and the US Open in 2012.
In Doha Richard Gasquet overcame renaissance man Nikolay Davydenko in three tough sets. The Russian has had a really tough off season and steam rollered David Ferrer the current 4th best in the world in the semis. The Russian held serve until 3-4 in the second set and then succumbed to Gasquet in the 2nd set breaker. Agnieska Radwanska won in New Zealand to lift her 11th career title and will certainly head to Melbourne with hopes of going deep into the second week. And finally Janko Tipsarevic overcame Spain’s Bautista Agut in 3 sets having lost in the 2012 showpiece to Milos Raonic. For all those who did wel things look positive for Melbourne but there are plenty of events before Melbourne for all the players to tune their game. Check out our preview of the Australian Open later on in the week.
The Australian Open is the first of the tennis grand slam events in any year. It falls during the third and forth weeks of January at the height of the Southern Hemisphere Summer. It currently resides in Melbourne Park, Melbourne with its True Blue Plexicushion surface, however up until 1987 the tournament was actually played on grass at Kooyong.
The Aussie Open has a totally different and unique atmosphere than the other three slams. Its relaxed surroundings and less formal setting have earned it the nickname the Happy Slam. As with the other big events, Melbourne Park boasts fantastic arenas for playing and watching tennis. The Centre Court is named after the great Rod Laver, calendar grandslam winner in the 1960s. The second court is called the HiSense Arena and has been used as in the World Swimming Championships and Rock concerts. Both these courts have retractable roofs but not for the rian. An Australian Summer regularly sees temperatures top 40′, when they do play is suspended and the roofs are brought into action of the main courts. The other big show court is the Margaret Court Arena, a smaller, humbler court than the other two monstrocities.
There are 128 players in each of the singles draws, so the winner must succesfully navigate through 7 rounds to call themselves the Australian Open Champion. The Australians have been waiting for years to have a home grown champion. Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Pat Cash have come close but some would say that newly crowned US Open Champion Sam Stosur could lift the hoodoo. Other champions have included Serena Williams, Amelie Mauresmo, Roger Federer and Marat Safin.
With it being the beginning of the year, most players can be a little rusty and not on form we tend to see a surprise unfancied player make the latter stages of the tournament. The Aussies affectionately call these players ‘Bolters’, the biggest bolter of late was Jo Willie Tsonga who beat Rafael Nadal to make the final in 2008. No doubt there will be a few bolters this year especially in the womens draw.
Stay tuned to LOVEtennis Blog, we will reviewing the mens and ladies draws and getting out experts to make some predictions ahead of this magnificent event. Already the qualies have thrown up a fantastic first round match as LTB Favourite Laura Robson takes on American Darling Melanie Oudin!
Its January, a new year and it can only mean one thing, the new tennis season. Get your daily dose of tennis news, videos and latest results at LOVEtennis Blog. As usual we will be covering the big tournaments with our Expert Previews, admiring the latest court fashion and whats more our very own coach will be providing us with top tennis tips and advice. How can you afford to miss out?
There were few surprises at Melbourne Park today, all matches went as per the scripts and the higher ranked players made it safely through to the next round. Snore! The only shock was Jelena Jankovic’ defeat to Peng Shuai which was on the cards considering the Serbian’s fragile mental state. Murrays game against Marchenko was impressive; the Ukrainian playing on Laver for the first time played excellently and hit Murray with a barrage of groundstrokes but almost every time Andy came up trumps. It made me realise what a genuinely brilliant player Andy is, he is so quick on his feet, has a huge repetoire of shots and can attack aswell as defend. He certainly doesnt get the credit he deserves.
Looking ahead at the Day 5 games of the Australian Open, all matches on Laver on paper at
least look close. First up is Caro Wozniacki against Dominica Cilbulkova, with Henin and a resurgent Kuznetsova next. These two have a grandslam history together, having met at both the finals of Flushing and Roland Garros. The little Belgian prevailed in both and I must say she is favourite but Kuzzy hits a great ball and when she is in form she really is in form. Id love another 3 setter, something for us fans to get excited about. Federer takes on his old buddy Xavier Malisse who is in some good form of late and no doubt will have taken much comfort from seeing Mr Simon taking the GOAT to 5 only two days ago.
Wawrinka and Monfils could be another 3rd round humdinger, both will feel should they win this game they have a strong chance of making the Quarters. Wawrinka’s gun ho style will match up well with La Monf’s counter punching approach. Expect fireworks thats all I will say. The two Serbians Nole and Viktor get the action underway on Hi Sense arena which could be tasty but Novak should have too much, hes in incredible form. Sharapova meets Julia Goerges and with her new coach and new racket in tow she should expect to make the 4th round, but who knows, consistency of performance has been lacking with Maria for years now.
The final standout match sees Tommy Berdych take on Richard Gasquet. This is a game I would definitely pay to see, it has potential blockbuster written all over it. Gasquet is a master craftsman, some say with the most beautiful backhand in the world, Berdych is a little more rough and ready and sends those serves down from 6 ft 5. It will be an intriguing battle and hopefully make a better game that Delpo and Baghdatis. Delpo looked like a shadow of the player that won the US Open, the big forehand was there but he lacked any movement and couldnt live with little Marcos when he moved the ball, fingers crossed he can make it back to the top soon!
The Federer of 2010 may have succumbed tamely in the 5th, but in the current edition of Federer we see a lot more still to his game, more attacking prowess and a level that few can match. Paul Annacone has done a good job thus far in making those small but hugely significant changes to Roger’s game.The return of serve for one is much more aggressive and backhand is a much steadier shot. I along with countless tennis fans worldwide were relieved when I finally saw that Roger had won, not just because of the brand of tennis he plays; the Aussie Open needs Federer to stay in the competition, tennis needs him. ( and absolutely no disrepect to Simon, you played amazing). Heres hoping Roger can relax a bit before his next game and make the 4th round next week.
Elena Baltacha was valiant in defeat against Justine Henin, the Scot tried her best but Henin was simply too good. Hopefully the Scot can gain confidence from her performance on the centre court and go on to have a great year and make the Top 30. Annie Keothavong also had a narrow defeat to German Andrea Petkovic, she was a set and a break up in a ding dong match but eventually the higher ranked German came through in 3.
Andy and Rafa are up on court today. Andy faces another unknown in Ilya Marchenko, Nadal faces young Ryan Smeeting from the USA. Both players should overcome there lower ranked opponents and join Roger, Andy Roddick and Fernando in round 3. Juan Martin Del Potro faces Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in another potential humdinger of a game, it will be a serious test of both men’s form and credentials. Having not seen any of Delpo’s tennis this year I couldnt possibly pick a winner, but perhaps this could go 5. Radek Stepanek vs John Isner has upset written all over it, Radek is always a difficult character to play and beat and I am sure he will move Isner across every inch of the court.
Aussie favourite Alicia Molik faces Russian Nadia Petrova which on paper at least has the makings of a good game. Clijsters will have her work cut out against Venus Williams 2009 conqueror Carla Suarez Navarro. The Tenerifean loves these courts and should provide a sterner test that Dinara Safina did in R1. Keep tuned to the www.lovetennisblog.com website for the latest news, results and videos direct from Melbourne.
LOVEtennis Blog have got 3 tennis experts to give their predictions on the upcoming Australian Open. We asked them, who do you think will win the Mens and Ladies titles?
Rafa’s more motivated than ever to complete the first grand slam since Bryan Adams got his first real six string. Can’t write Roger off though:He’s the defending champion and beat Rafa in London. Does Murray have the mental toughness to rewrite the wrongs of last year’s final? Can Djokovic find his midas touch in Oz once again? Or can Soderling put his money where his mouth is and prove he’s a big time player? I’m fence sitting this year as it’s the most open slam in years, but it’s the Ozzy open, so expect the unexpected!
Can Kimmy finally erase her Aussie Open hoo doo, having owned the US Open these past few seasons can she win down under? Will Caro succumb to the pressure of the Number 1 tag and a very very tough draw?Henin has played her cards right taking the pressure off her performance by insisting that she wont be fully fit til June, could she be an outsider? Will Masha ever rediscover her serve and hold it together for the duration of the slam. Azarenka, Kvitova, Venus. Zvonny and home town girl Sammy Stosur all have a shout. So many potential contenders in the womens draw and we havent even mentioned the Serbians.
I can’t see past Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in the men’s tournament. They are playing their tennis on another level, as witnessed recently in London, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. On any given day the next tier of players, such as Murray, Djokovic or Soderling, might upset one of the top two, but it would be very difficult to beat both of them consecutively. Nadal’s serve has become more of a weapon in the past twelve months, and he has shown continued improvement on the hard courts by moving in and taking the ball earlier. His grit and determination are never in question. Federer’s shot-making and technical prowess keep him at the top of the game. If his ferocious forehand remains consistent he will at least reach the final. As I don’t want to jinx Rafa by tipping the Spaniard, I’ll put this down as too close to call.
The women’s competition is more difficult to call. This might make it more interesting to watch than the men’s tournament. Any one of a number of ladies can win this; indeed there could be a surprise winner, as Francesca Schiavone was in Paris last June. I would pick Caroline Wozniacki or Kim Clijsters as the players to watch. Caroline is currently the world no.1 and has the all-round game to win a few majors. As with a lot of the ladies in the modern game she can generate such power, this will make her difficult to beat. She is capable of getting through to the final of a grand slam, as evidenced by her run at the US Open in 2009. Her conqueror at Flushing Meadows, Kim Clijsters, has shown her steely determination by coming out of retirement and winning the US Open two years running. She never seems fazed and handles tournament pressure well. My prediction is that these two will meet in the final, with Caroline Wozniacki taking the title.
Young Andy has snuck in under the radar this year. In 2010 he was most bookies favourites to win, his low key build up has helped keep him out of the limelight which should help his progress. He has the game to win a slam, he must take the bull by the horns and attack his opponents. In the heat of the Aussie summer he cannot afford to chase balls for 4 hours. To beat Soderling Nadal and then Federer is a big ask, but Andy can do it, he must believe he can. Scotland is right behind you Andy, bring it home
Experience will tell in the women’s draw, the majority of the Top 10 are mid to late twenties which is surely a sign of a change in the women’s game. There seem a lot of possibles, not many probables for the title. How can we look past Clijsters, Henin and Caro? Surely Stosur will not be able to hack the pressure. Outsiders, Maria Sharpova, Venus, Victoria Azarenka, Zvonareva, Li Na all have a chance. The first week will tell us a lot. Big names against each other in the first round Dinara Safina former number one and Marat’s brother faces Kim Clijsters which will be one to watch.
Rafael Nadal is in the form of his life and in grandslam shape is very hard to beat. Even a silly little virus will do little to dethrone Rafas title bid. He has a straightforward draw which should allow him to gain some confidence and play his way into form. Soderlings break up with long term coach Magnus Norman has helped his game, as he demolished the Brisbane field last week, his serve is begining to become one of the biggest weapons on the tour. Djokovic will be there or there abouts, he must be at his best to win, but he is as confident as he as ever has been. And who could forget Roger, what a great partnership that has developed between Paul Annacone and Roger; Federer is a joy to watch. Still Nadal to win and lift his 4th Slam in a row
Would the Ladies please stand up? Does anybody want to rule the WTA or will we just share the number one ranking and slams around? With Serena gone can sister Venus win a slam outside Wimbledon, can Sharapovas Dodgy shoulder hold up? The new generation of Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Kvitova will all be aiming to be there by the 2nd week. The Belgians can also be considered in the group of favourites, however open isnt the word for this tournament. Clijsters to win.