Monday, 16 February 2009

Dubai, Memphis, Bogota Updates

The biggest shock so far from the Dubai Tennis Championships is that Agnieszka Radwanska has been put out in straight sets by her sister Urszula, 6-4, 6-3.

Also, Daniela Hantuchova beat Swiss wildcard Stephanie Vogele 7-5, 6-2, to advance. Virginie Razzano beat Kateryna Bondarenko and Monica Niculescu beat Shuai Peng.

In Memphis, the overnight winners were fifth seed Marina Erakovic, Kristina Barrois and future tip Melanie Oudin.

Player of the Week - Amelie Mauresmo

This is something that we hope will become a weekly feature: Player of the Week
Of course, there are no prizes for guessing that this week it goes to the new 'Comeback Queen' Amelie Mauresmo (her face is behind her hands in this picture). After two years in the relative tennis wilderness, the former Australian and Wimbledon champion and world number one returned to her old form with a bang in her home event, the Open GDF Suez in Paris.

En route to the final, she saw off Italian Sara Errani 6-2, 6-0 (who she had lost to in Fed Cup duty last weekend), Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-1, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-0 and second seed Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 0-6, 6-1. In the final she was drawn against Russia's Elena Dementieva, arguably the best tour event player in recent months. Mauresmo used her serve, volleys and backhand to great effect, winning a superb final 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, in well over two hours. As a result, she colected one of the nicest looking trophies on the WTA Tour (check their website for a picture).

Unfortunately, this win means she will not be participating in the Dubai Tennis Championships this week, where she made the quarter finals last year before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova. We don't yet know who she will be replaced by.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Morita replaces Peer

Shahar Peer, the Israeli number one, has been denied a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships in the UAE. The WTA Tour has said it will review the future of the tournament, and in the meantime, Japan's Ayumi Morita will replace Peer to play fifteenth seed Anna Chakvetadze.

Elsewhere in Dubai, Ana Ivanovic will set out for revenge in her second round match. She will play Russian teenager Alisa Kleybanova after she beat compatriot Anna Lapushchenkova in three sets. Other winners were sixteenth seed Kaia Kanepi, who saw off qualifier Tamira Paszek in three sets, thirteenth seed Jie Zheng, Tsvetana Pironkova, Vera Dushevina, Sybille Bammer, Julia Schruff and Sara Errani, who will now play Serena Williams.

In Memphis, Jelena Dokic has been drawn against top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the first round of the Cellular South Cup after beating Alexandra Panova to qualify for the event. The pair met at the Australian Open, with Dokic winning in three sets.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships Draw

Here is the draw for the Dubai tournament:

S Williams (USA) 1 Bye
YJ Chan (Tpe) vs S Errani (Ita)
S Stosur (Aus) vs M Rybarikova (Svk)
A Rodionova (Rus) Q vs J Zheng (Chn) 13
A Radwanska (Pol) 9 vs U Radwanska (Pol) Q
A Szavay (Hun) vs T Tanasugarn (Tha)
A Lapushchenkova (Rus) Q vs A Kleybanova (Rus) WC
A Ivanovic (Srb) 8 Bye
E Dementieva (Rus) 4 Bye
M Koryttseva (Ukr) vs S Bammer (Aut)
O Govortsova (Blr) vs A Bondarenko (Ukr)
A Mauresmo (Fra) vs A Medina Garrigues (Esp) 14
A Cornet (Fra) 10 vs A-L Groenefeld (Ger)
J Schruff (Ger) Q vs P Kvitova (Cze)
M Kirilenko (Rus) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (Rus)
V Williams (USA) 6 Bye
S Kuznetsova (Rus) 7 Bye
E Vesnina (Rus) Q vs N Li (Chn)
T Pironkova (Bul) vs V Kutuzova (Ukr)
S Cirstea (Rom) vs D Cibulkova (Svk) 12
K Kanepi (Est) 16 vs T Paszek (Aut) Q
S Mirza (Ind) WC vs E Makarova (Rus)
S Peng (Chn) vs M Niculescu (Rom)
J Jankovic (Srb) 3 Bye
V Zvonareva (Rus) 5 Bye
V Dushevina (Rus) WC vs Z Yan (Chn)
F Schiavone (Ita) vs C Dellacqua (Aus)
A Sugiyama (Jpn) vs M Bartoli (Fra) 11
A Chakvetadze (Rus) 15 vs S Peer (Isr)
S Vogele (Sui) WC vs D Hantuchova (Svk)
K Bondarenko (Ukr) vs V Razzano (Fra)
D Safina (Rus) 2 Bye

First of all, despite withdrawing from the Open GDF Suez tournament today with a knee injury, top seed Serena Williams is still scheduled to appear in Dubai. This is the first non-Grand Slam event to boost such a strong field. Nadia Petrova is the only member of the top ten not appearing in Dubai, because of a stress fracture (in her foot, we think). We are not going to give any verdicts on who we think will win the tournament as it looks very close, but the first round match we recommend you watch would be the Radwanska sisters. This draw boasts three pairs of sisters in the singles main draw alone!

Cellular South Cup Draw

Here is the draw for next week's championships at Memphis:

C Wozniacki (Den) 1 vs Qualifier
K Flipkens (Bel) vs S Bremond (Fra)
K Barrois (Ger) vs J Groth (Svk)
Qualifier vs A Kudryavtseva (Rus) 7
A Keothavong (GBR) 4 vs ME Camerin (Ita)
M Larcher de Brito (Por) WC vs S Arvidsson (Swe)
M Oudin (USA) WC vs J Craybas (USA)
J Ditty (USA) vs M Erakovic (Nzl) 5
S Lisicki (Ger) 6 vs E Bychkova (Rus)
S Foretz (Fra) vs M Czink (Hun)
A Stevenson (USA) WC vs V King (USA)
M South (GBR) vs L Safarova (Cze) 3
P Parmentier (Fra) 8 vs J Coin (Fra)
L Hradecka (Cze) vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs S Cohen Aloro (Fra)
V Lepchenko (USA) vs V Azarenka (Blr) 2

Obviously, the massive ranking gap between Victoria Azarenka, the second seed, and Lucie Safarova, the third seed, makes Azarenka and Dane Caroline Wozniacki favourites for the title, probably with Azarenka edging it due to current form. However, there is plenty of potential in this draw. We recommend that you watch out for form players Anne Keothavong and Sabine Lisicki, young guns Melanie Oudin and Michelle Larcher de Brito and Alexandra Stevenson, who seems to be making a return for the first time in many years. Jelena Dokic is playing qualifying here, so if she makes it through, she will be an obvious contender. For the first round, we think that if Dokic is drawn against Wozniacki, that would be a very interesting clash indeed, but of the guaranteed matches, we would pick Melanie South's clash with third seed Lucie Safarova, which we feel could produce an upset. Please comment on your views for this tournament (nobody has for ages and we're lonely!)

Saturday Results Round Up

Congratulations must go to Amelie Mauresmo, who took her most significant victory in about two years after a victory over world number three Jelena Jankovic at the Open GDF Suez in Paris, surviving a second set blip to go through 6-2, 0-6, 6-1. She will meet third seed Elena Dementieva in the final after newly crowned Australian Open champion Serena Williams withdrew prior to their semi final due to a knee injury which she exacerbated. She is still epected to play in next week's megastar Dubai Tennis Championships.

Top seed Vera Zvonareva's recent form seems inexorable after she eased into the PTT Pattaya Open final in Thailand after a breezy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Israeli seventh seed Shahar Peer. In the final, she will play India's Sania Mirza after she surprised eighth seed Magdalena Rybarikova, battling to a 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 victory.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Oh My Lord

Who remembers this moment?

This is arguably Amelie Mauresmo's most special victory, when she won Wimbledon in 2006. Since that marvellous year, when she added the Australian Open to her trophy cabinet as well, such moments of joy haven't really happened (we argued that it was because of her appendectomy, and that her appendix was the source of all her powers.)

Well today, a moment of joy could be felt around the tennis world. Amelie looks like she is making a return, baby! Her crushing 6-2, 6-0 romp of Agnieszka Radwanska, the world number nine), at the Open GDF Suez, was a joy to behold (albeit, not to the Pole), as she produced tennis that flowed so effortlessly off the strings of her racket. We have to admit, we have missed the Mauresmo that leapt to the net like a gazelle and produced tennis so beautiful, it was like a van Gogh masterpiece, but all this week she has recreated some of that form.

Just to make the victory even sweeter perhaps, was that Mauresmo was the only Frenchwoman to win in front of her home crowd, as her three compatriots failed to make the last four.

In the semi finals in Paris, the competition will take itself a step up. Jelena Jankovic, the world number three, wearing the most hideous dress we think we have ever seen (not impressed ANTA!) battled hard but managed to defeat teenager Alize Cornet 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Elsewhere, the rightful top duo in the world (in our opinion), Elena Dementieva and Serena Williams cruised into the semis, dropping just five games against their French opponents Nathalie Dechy and Emilie Loit respectively.

Thousands of miles away, in Thailand, Magdalena Rybarikova set up a semi final with Sania Mirza after a surprise 6-4, 6-1 win over second seed Caroline Wozniacki. In the other semi, top seed Vera Zvonareva will play Israeli Shahar Peer.