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Archive for the ‘Australian Open’ Category

Women’s Singles Finals, Australian Open 2007

Posted by Sports Snob on January 27, 2007

How things change! It was about 30 months ago that we saw an extremely pretty Russian girl play on the hallowed center court at Wimbledon against the Serena. Nobody gave her any chance of beating Serena but in a display of absolutely confident tennis, Serena was stunned and a star was born. 30 months hence, women’s tennis has seen major changes: Davenport is gone, Clijsters about to go, Henin spends more time injured, Mauresmo actually won a grandslam (!), Sharapova has shown us she is no Kournikova and the Williams sisters are more interested in fashion than tennis.

Deja vu

The showdown will be repeated a few minutes from when I write this post. Serena, overweight and in bad shape has scraped and scratched her way into the finals and Sharapova has been scorching on court at times.

I had written about Serena here: “…Nobody, ever, can wake up one fine day, come out on court and expect to win.” I think Serena has the capability to prove me wrong, I guess by getting as far as she has, she already has proved her point. She is far too good for me to write her off but I don’t expect her to do a Sharapova. Will Serena make me eat my words again?

Go Maria. Let’s watch some good tennis.

Talking of good tennis, what did you guys think of the men’s semi-finals. Federer demolishing Roddick and Gonzalez repeating that against Haas. Would it be too much to expect that both of them will turn in those kind of performances come Sunday?

Prof

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Sania crashes out, Roddick to meet Safin

Posted by Sports Snob on January 18, 2007

Sania, disappointment

Sania Mirza disappointed yet again and crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round. She lost to Akiko Nakamura of Japan who is ranked 10 places below her in the WTA rankings. Coming off a good run in the Hopman Cup and the other lead-up tournaments, there was a promise of better things to come at the first grandslam. But unfortunately for her “billion fans” and her, an inconsistent performance proved inadequate. Let us see how she handles this loss and how the rest of this season shape up.

Roddick versus Safin 

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If there is any player in the Australian Open draw that Roddick should want to avoid like the plague (other than Federer ofcourse), it is Marat Safin. The Russian who is making his billionth comeback is probably the second most talented man on the ATP circuit. And, he is the only guy to have beaten Federer in a Grandslam on a surface other than clay since the beginning of 2005. It is unfortunate for both players that this matchup had to happen so early in the tournament.  Blame it on the mercurial Russian whose performances belie the talent he possesses.

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Roddick is in the finest form he has been in for 12 months now. The serves are powerful and clicking, the powerful backcourt shots are in place and he appears fairly confident of his place on the court. Even given all this, he would be well advised to take Safin seriously. That man coming off two exhausting five set matches must be feeling like a polar bear in Chennai. But give him an opening and he will demolish you, if he fails to self-destruct that is. Safin is his own cyanide pill. You can find a previous post on Safin here.

Given current form, Roddick should win. But I would rather watch Safin progress in the tournament because he is capable of better tennis and in my opinion, has a better chance of beating Federer. Go Marat (ideal point to crack a Borat joke or pun… none come to mind right away)!

– Prof

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Sania Mirza moves into Round 2 of the Australian Open

Posted by Sports Snob on January 16, 2007

Women’s Singles – 1st Round
Olga Savchuk UKR 3 5

Sania Mirza IND 6 7

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Sania Mirza beat Olga Savchuk of Ukraine to advance to the second round of the Australian Open. If she moves to the third round, there is a potential matchup against the Swiss Miss, Martina Hingis.

Anybody for Mirza in the 3rd round? If yes, can she beat the Swiss Miss (whom she might meet)? How far in the tournament will Sania go?

Nice article about Sania and Anna Ivanovic finding fitness to improve their power.

Quote of the day- “The heat in Australian tans you. You can feel the sun burning your legs during changeovers. In Hyderabad, the sun isn’t that hot. I don’t know if it’s the ozone or whatever.” – Sania

Prof

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Australian Open 2007: Preview

Posted by Sports Snob on January 14, 2007

Roddick beat Federer! Under normal circumstances, when two players who are in the top five in the world meet each other, we wouldn’t think this is that much of an upset. But Federer’s record over the last two seasons have given him an aura of invincibility. Roddick has beaten the Fed only twice in fifteen meetings and Federer last lost to Andy Murray quite some time back last season: not invincible, but close.

Australian Open Preview

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It’s the middle of January and the first major of the tennis calendar is upon us. The Australian Open doesn’t get the noise that Wimbledon and the US Open generate but it comes early in the year and tennis fans starved of grandslam action for five months eagerly lap it up. It is time for self appointed critics to comment on players’ strategies and serves, predict winners and comment on who will make it big in the next two weeks, months or even years. And yours truly is going to embark on such a mission though I restrict myself to just the next two weeks.

Men

Does Roddick’s victory mean anything different for this year’s Australian Open? Does anybody change their predictions on the basis of this result? You would be a fool to bet against Fed based on this match. It is a new season and even Federer might require sometime to get back into his groove. But even when he is not in form, you are going to need a flawless performance and a bad Fed day to beat the man like Safin got two years back at Melbourne. So, Federer it will be again this time around.

Nadal hasn’t started the season too well either, losing at Chennai and pulling out of a tournament with a strained groin muscle. Rafter turned down Hewitt’s practice request for some personal reason and this probably dents the fairly flimsy chances that Hewitt had of doing anything at all. At this point, I would bet on Roddick to do some damage but not quite enough to topple Federer. Then the other names, Andy Murray, Baghdatis, Tursunov pop-up: no serious challenge here. The dark horse could very well be James Blake. He played well last season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few strong performances this season too. If one of these players can mount a serious challenge to Federer, we could be in for some rivetting tennis.

History suggests an Opportunity

The best time to challenge Fed is at the Australian Open. The new season implies the champ is still rusty from the lack of match practice and the early rounds could be crucial especially against a dangerous opponent such as say, Karlovic. Looking back at the results of the last ten years, we see that the Sampras name figures only once. And he was the most dominant player of his time. Agassi has won it thrice. He was always the one for meticulous training in the heights during the Australian summer. Further, there have been unlikely champions: Petr Korda, Yevgeny Kafalnikov and Thomas Johansson (really!!!). Add to this list, Marat Safin (the 2005 winner) and you can see what I mean when I say the best time to beat the top guy is at the beginning of the season. In cricket terms, before he is well set and has got his eye in.

Women

The women’s field looks fairly weak to me with the pullout of Henin and the retirement of Davenport. I predict a Sharapova victory and I am certain the organizers would love for her to be there till the end of the tournament. This Russian is a showstopper, both with the game and the looks. She is not just another pretty thing. She is focussed, talented and does not look like she will fritter it away. Clijsters and 2006 champion Mauresmo will have to be contended with before she can lift the Daphne Akhurst memorial cup.

As I was recollecting the men’s winners of the past, I looked up some of the women’s winners of the last decade. And guess what? The women victors have been more consistent with the then rankings and stuff. Hingis won thrice in a row at the peak of her powers. Capriati won twice in her glorious comeback run. Lindsay won once and yes, there was a Wiliams winner, Serena, twice. Does this mean that the women’s game is weaker outside the top few? Is that the reason no serious challenge is mounted on the reputed players? Old winners’ lists give some interesting things to wonder about.

Sania Mirza’s chances:

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Sania has had a fantastic start to the 2007 season. She was in good form as India nearly qualified for the final of the Hopman Cup and made the semifinals of the tournament in Hobart losing eventually to the top seeded Russian Anna Chakvetadze.

Sania has an easy draw at the Australian open. She has been drawn against an unknown Ukranian (another East European!) Olga Shevchuk in the first round. If she manages to win that she will meet either Emma Laine (another unknown!) or a qualifier. Sania may well face Martina Hingis in the third round and that match is going to generate a lot of interest! Besides Sania had actually defeated Hingis last year.

Here’s wishing her a great Australian Open and a fantastic 2007!

Pretty Russian

And before I end this one, I have a question to raise. I would like readers to post their views on this. How do those Russians manage to produce all these pretty women players! Saying that they don’t play that well is missing the point I am trying to make. Here is the new additon that I noticed, Anna Chakvetadze (who is seeded 12 at the Australian Open):

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– Prof and Z

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