Saturday, April 9, 2011

Checking in at the Wozniacki - Wickmayer presser

One of the neat things about this being a smaller tournament, is the fact that you can be assured to get some questions in at the post-match press conferences.
Shortly after the conclusion of the match, I headed over to the media tent and readied myself for the chance to ask both players about the match. Wozniacki appeared first with a big smile on her face. Honestly, after seeing her in person, i don’t know why people do not like her.

Here is a sample of their answers:

World of Tennis: Caroline, what changes did you make in your game to turn things in your favor in that third set?
Wozniacki: Well, I just kept focused, and you know, i knew that I was going to get one chance, and i had to take that one. And I did, and it turned out in my favor, so I’m very happy.
World of Tennis: You injured yourself here last year, rolling your ankle in the clay. Is that in the back of your mind?
Wozniacki: No, I mean I’m taped up you know. It happens. Injuries happen, and that’s it. I just need the match play and the confidence to slide on clay, get that back, and i feel like I’m getting there.

World of Tennis: Yanina, reaching the quarters here and barely losing to the number 1 player in the world, does this build your confidence going into the clay court season?
Wickmayer: Yeah, for sure. I have Fed Cup on hard first which is going to be a little bit strange going back, but i am definitely going back to clay. So it’s going to be a little difficult going back to hard and then going back to clay. I mean this was a good week for me and a good first week on clay.
I think I never played that well the first week on clay, so that’s really good, and i adapted really fast, which is good. So i hope that one week on hard is not going to change anything and the day i get back out on clay I’ll feel like i do today. A lot of clay tournaments are coming, I have Brussels before French which is at home, so I’m really excited about that.

Wozniacki through to Family Circle Cup Semis

Caroline Wozniacki defeated Yanina Wickmayer 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in front of a near full capacity main stadium at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina.
Things did not start well for Caro, as she dropped the first set 6-4 to the more aggressive Belgian player. In the second set, Yanina kept up dictating the points, and had an early break, but a slight drop in her game allowed Wozniacki to get back in the match.
At 2-3 in the 2nd set, Caroline broke Yanina to even things out and get back in serve. With the crowd in her side, Wozniacki was able to get a key break at 5-4 to push the game into a 2nd set.
In the first three games of the deciding set, Yanina regained her intensity, getting a break of serve along the way. Her aggressive style of play was giving Wozniacki all sorts of trouble.
Wickmayer was being the aggressor both in her service and return game and all signs seemed to point to a looming upset. Wozniacki however, had other plans.
With Wickmayer serving at 4-3, Caroline showed her fighting spirit, broke Yanina and leveled the match at 4-4. She would then go on to hold serve and in a very anti-climatic end to the match, win by breaking Wickmayer to settle the final score.
Yanina had the game in the bag late in that third set but lost her focus just long enough for the #1 player in the world to overtake her. Wozniacki on the other hand displayed the fighting spirit that by now characterizes her.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

AO 2011 Preview: Nadal's Draw

This should be called the Auckland draw, as three of the four finalists (Nalbandian, Ferrer and Giraldo) at the Heineken Open tournament in Auckland found themselves in this part of the draw.

But lets examine it round by round:

1st Round:
The notable match of this first round is without a doubt the encounter between David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt. They first met back in 2002 when a back-then skinny 21 year old from Argentina made it all the way through to the Finals of Wimbledon and faced off against the #1 player in the world, Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt would go on to win that match, but they would later meet in an epic 5 setter Australian Open semifinal, one that gets forgotten due to another famous SF that year (Fed/Safin). Hewitt holds a 3-2 head-head record, but Nalby has won the last 2 encounters. Slight edge to David in 4 tough sets.

2nd Round:
The second round has some interesting potential matchups. Stepanek has regained some of his old form, but he is still not the place he once was. A match vs Isner would be fun to watch, although John should have enough firepower to go through. Cilic would love to match or better his Semifinal showing of last year, but he will be challenged in the 2nd rd against the in-form Santiago Giraldo. Lastly, i'd keep an eye on the young Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. A lot of people see him crack the top 40 by the end of the year. A win here vs Nalbandian/Hewitt would certainly up his credentials.

3rd Round:
Rafa finally meets a little bit of competition. To his credit, Feliciano does have a win against Rafa last year, but Nadal has won all 3 previous meetings on Hard Courts and will be too much for Feli to handle. A towering matchup between Isner and Cilic should give fans a mouth-watering battle, id expect to see a couple of tiebreakers there. Nalbandian/Ferrer could be a rematch of this week's Auckland Final. Ferrer took that one easily, but with the stakes raised, i see David barely escaping a defeat here.

Marin Cilic could pose some trouble for Rafa

Round of 16
Marin will have done well to reach this point, but against the #1 player in the world, the party stops here. Nadal is hungry for the RAFA slam and he should be rested from the easy path here. Youzhny's deep run at the US Open helped his ranking, thus the lesser opponents he will see until this point. The going gets tough here tough as a potential match vs Nalbandian will test his progress and eventually reveal he's a fluke top 10 seed.

Its unfortunate because on paper a Nalbandian vs Nadal quarters sounds like quite the entree following the appetizers, but Nalby could not have asked for a tougher path to the QF. If he survives this far, he'll get hammered by a fresher Nadal.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mid-day Recap of January 6th action at ASB Classic

Let's catch up on the action at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Yesterday we had #3 seed Kutznetzova go down to Shuai Peng, well Peng followed up that win today with a tough 2 set win over Heather Watson that put her through to the Semifinal. Also joining her will be #2 seed Yanina Wickmayer who had an easy win over Simona Halep. Later today we'll have the final QF match, between Julia Goerges and K. Bondarenko.

The shocker of the day came from Hungary's Greta Arn who tookout Maria Sharapova in straight sets. The scrappy Arn, kept Masha off balance all match and ended her tournament at the QF stage, which most likely means we will see Sharapova enter next week's Sydney International.

Shaui Peng def Heather Watson 6-4, 7-5.
#2 Yanina Wickmayer def Simona Halep 6-0, 6-2
Greta Arn def Maria Sharapova 6-2, 7-5

Shaui Peng vs #2 Yanina Wickmayer
Greta Arn vs Georges/Bondarenko winner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fed's done it again!!

I have to admit Federer is one my least liked players in the tour. As a matter of fact i usually cheer against him, but gosh does he have some god-given talents out in the tennis courts. Today at the Qatar ExxonMobile Open, he once again displayed the skills that gave him the nickname The "Swiss Maestro". Sit back and enjoy yet another beauty from Roger.