Saturday, March 15, 2014

Penetta upsets Li Na to face Radwanska in the final at Indian Wells

Flavia Pennetta1
Former world number 10 (2009) Flavia Pennetta caused a massive shock in the Semi Finals when she beat top seed Li Na in straight sets. During Pennetta's 76 (7-5) 63 victory, both players struggled with their serves. In the first set there was 8 consecutive breaks of serves en route to the first set tie break. Li Na produced a disappointing 9 doubled faults (of which 8 was in the first set) which also lead to Pennetta winning the set in a close tiebreak. Li did make a positive start in the second set by breaking the Italian to take a early 2-0 lead. This lead was however short lived as last years US Open champion fought back to level it. The deciding moment of the match was when Pennetta broke Li again to move up 5-3 and one game away from her first ever WTA Premier Mandatory final. This was no problem for her as she served it out and took the match on her second match point. This is now Pennetta's third victory over Li Na. The first two was in 2006 at the Gold Coast and 2010 at Sydney.

Meanwhile Agnieszka Radwańska enjoyed a 63 64 win over Romania’s Simona Halep. Prior to this match Radwanska has produced encouraging wins over recent Doha finalist Alize Cornet and world number 8 Jelena Jankovic. In the 85 minuet match Radwanska was only broken twice and produced 72% of first serves in. Halep can however still leave Indian Wells feeling very happy as she will be ranked in the top five on Monday for the first time in her career. This will also make her the first Romanian woman in History to reach the top 5 in the WTA rankings.

The final will be the eighth time both players have met. They have already played each other twice this year with each winning a match. Radwanska won 62 62 at the Hopman cup and Pennetta won in Dubai 64 61. A full list of their previous matches are the following:-

$100,000 Biella
6-2 3-6 7-6(2)
4-6 6-1 2-6
Dubai Open
6-3 6-0
6-2 6-4
Indian Wells
6-4 6-2
Dubai Open
4-6 1-6
Hopman Cup 2014

6-2 6-2 

Video highlights

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quick Monday Round Up

This main focus this week is of course about Indian Wells but below if a quick round up of some other tennis related stories:-

  • Navak Djokovic has been voted the greatest sportsperson from the former Yugoslavia of all time! The Poll was conducted by Tivat Montenegro with the judging panel consisting of numerous journalists from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. This is yet another accomplishment Djokovic can add to his name. 

  • Jelena Jankovic has completed her work on her new home and is looks pretty impressive:-

    Quoting Serbian news outlet Kurir. Jankovic said the following about her new home:-
    "It's really beautiful and we finally finished it. I was there for three days it rained, I wondered if I was in
    England or San Diego, which is unusual for this part of America. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to train on his tennis court, and that makes me happy. Everything is nice and I can not tell you how proud I am"

  • Mohamed El Jennati is currently the most hated tennis umpire at the moment. Following Saturdays bust up against Fabio Fognini where Jennati controversially decided on a point being replayed rather than giving it to Fognini which the Italian truly believed he deserved. He disallowed Denis Istomin requesting a hawk eye challenger on break point be claiming that Istomin didn't raise his hand (which he clearly did). This was two very poor decisions by Jennati. Below is the videos of both incidents:- 

  • British tennis ledgend Tim Hanman has suggested that the players warm up before matches should be scrapped. He was quoted by as saying “''I think it would be quite interesting not to have a knock-up. You come on the court and spin the coin and go''. This somehow seems very unlikely to happen on the circuit. Henman is not the first person to say the pre match warm ups should be done with. Tennis commentator Jonathan Overend argued the case in this article back in 2011.

  • In a article posted on Contributer Vishal Gajaria has compiled a list of players who have serve the most aces so far in 2014 on the ATP tour. The top 17 are the following:-

    Position       Player                                    Aces              Matches
               1             Karlovic, Ivo                                270                   15
               2             Cilic, Marin                                 247                    22
               3             Anderson, Kevin                        198                    15
               4             Gulbis, Ernests                         191                    16
               5              Isner, John                                156                    10
               6             Dolgopolov, Alexandr               146                    18
               7             Querrey, Sam                            138                    10
               8             Monfils, Gael                              137                   14
               9             Berdych, Tomas                         137                   17
               10          Federer, Roger                           136                   15

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Berdych suffers shock loss to Bautista-Agut

Roberto Bautista Agut  Tomas Berdych has suffered a shock second round loss to 25 year old Roberto Bautista-Agut. The world number 53 was producing amazing Nadal like shots throughout his roller coaster 46 62 64 victory against the forth seed.

In the first set Bautista-Agut took an early advantage by breaking a tentative Berdych in the first game. Agut looked in control of the match until Berdych raced to a 0-40 lead against Agut when he was 4-3 up on serve. Despite being able to come back to deuce, it still wasn't enough to contain Berdych as he broke to level it up at 4-4. From there on Berdych took a strong foothold in the set by holding his serve followed by breaking Agut for the second consecutive time to take it 64. Berdych's winner-unforced errors ratio was 12-14 compared to Bautista-Agut's 9-22.

In the next set the tides abruptly turned. Berdych was unable to carry his first set momentum into the second set due to the mighty resistance demonstrated by Bautista-Agut. Displaying some fantastic constructed points Agut stormed on to take full command of the second set which clearly rattled Berdych. The consistent Spaniard took it comfortably 6-2 by producing 81% first serves in (winning 77%). On the other hand Berdych's first serve was a dismal 35% as well as 17 unforced errors.

Things kept going Agut's way as he draw first blood in the final set by breaking Berdych's serve imediately yet again in the first game. Berdych did manage to gradually come back to level the set again at 4-4 but this was still not enough to contain Agut. The Spaniard broke again to serve it out and take the match on his first match point. This was a disappointing loss for a slightly below par Berdych but nothing should be taken away from Agut's brilliant performance and appraoch to the match. This is now Agut's second top ten win in 2014 after his win over Juan Martin Del Potro at the Australian Open.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

5 men's matches to watch on day 4 of Indian Wells

[3] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v Ivo Karlovic (CRO)

Stanislas Wawrinka returns to the pro tour for the first time since his Australian Open triumph today to a potentially tricky encounter against the fast serving Ivo Karlovic. Recently Karlovic has been in good form by beating Feliciano Lopez and Yen-Hsun Lu on route to the final at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis. He has also reached the quarter finals in Mexico last week before losing to surprised runner up Alexandr Dolgolpolov. Since 2006 these two has meet 4 times with Wawrinka leading 3-1. Their most recent match was last year at the US Open where Wawrinka was victorious in a close three sets match. Karlovic may be in good form lately but he will need to be at the very top of his game to cause a massive shock today. The only thing that could be to Karlovic's advantage is the Australian Open Champion's lack of recent match play.

Predicted result – Wawrinka wins 2-1

Lukas Rosol (CZE) V [5] Andy Murray (GBR)
Andy Murray begins his Indian Wells campaign against Lukas Rasol. Murray's best result so far in this tournament was runner up back in 2009. He will be hoping for a good run during the tournament to put some spice in to his very average season so far. This will be the first time that the two players have met. This is expected to be a straight forward match for Murray. Rosol has had two top 10 wins to his name which was his memorable 2011 wimbledon win over Rafael Nadal and former top 10 player Jürgen Melzer back in 2011.
Predicted result – Murray wins 2-0

[17] Kevin Anderson (RSA) V Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Since his win at the very beginning of the year in Brisbane. Lleyton Hewitt's performance has rapidly faded. With injury concerns playing on the Australian's mind following his withdrawal in the second round of Delray Beach due to a shoulder Injury last month. Fortunately during the tournament in the first round he produce a convincing three sets win over Matthew Ebden to settle him down. In round two he faces a hard task against 17th seed Kevin Anderson. Anderson has made the finals of his past two tournament's in Acapulco and Delray Beach which has elevated him to a career ranking high of 18.There has only been one meet before between these two which was in 2011. On that occasion it was Hewitt who was victorious in three sets. This time round the momentum is without a doubt more towards Anderson with the question being how well will Hewitt's shoulder hold up? There is however a big incentive for Hewitt to win. If he succeeds he will record his 600th tour win.
Predicted result – Anderson wins 2-1

[Q] Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) V [7] Roger Federer (SUI)
Roger Federer finally won his first title last week in Dubai after nearly a year (Halle, 2013). He was in sublime form last week playing spectacular tennis which at times which had been missing from his season last year. In Dubai the great Swiss player produced back to back wins over Navak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych. Federer will be hoping to continue his form and in his first match against Paul-Henri Mathieu, it shouldn't be too testing. 31 year old Mathieu has a 3-3 win-loss so far this season. During the tournament so far he has comfortably came through qualifying and enjoyed a first round win over follow qualifier Robby Ginepri 62 63. Federer has a dominant 6-0 head to head lead and it is widely expected that tonight will be his seventh.
Predicted results – Federer wins 2-0

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) V Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Defending champion Rafael Nadal opens up his title defence against former world number 8 (2006) Radek Stepanek. Stepanek has a 4-4 win-loss this year compared to Nadal's dominant 16-1. The two players has met 6 times before with victory going to Nadal on all occasions but the world number 1 has been force to three sets three times before. In the first round Stepanek endured a two hour 61 36 61 win over Denis Istomin. During the match the Czech was only broken once and produced no double faults. Despite this nobody is foreseeing a shock in this match.
Predicted result – Nadal win 2-0

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Indian Wells Women’s Qualification Day 1 quick summary

Yesterday saw the first round of qualification for the Women's Indian Wells main draw get under way. Wild card Heather Watson shocked 7th seed Virginie Razzano with a straight 61 64 victory. Watson who recently won a  ITF $100,000 title in Midland will face in the next round Brazilian number 1 Teliana Pereira in what will be their first meet. Pereira eased past Yulia Putintseva 63 63. It was a good day for the higher seeds with all of the top six progressing to the next stage. Top seed Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová endured a close first set on way to a 76 63 win over 2011 US Open girls champion Grace Min. Yaroslava Shvedova however had a much tougher time against Polands Magda Linette in a match lasting two and a half hours. Shvedova dropped the first set 36 after only 42 minuets. Fourtnately the third seed was able to regain control of the match to take it 36 64 64. Throughout the match there was a stagering 17 break of serves! Some other winners on day 1 included Casey Dellacqua, Camila Giorgi and a good win for British world number 116 Johanna Konta. Konta edgae out Petra Martić 63 46 63. 

Below is a list of the draw's 24 seeds with the players highlighted in bold indicating that they have progressed to the next round.
  1. Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová
  2. Anna Schmiedlová
  3. Yaroslava Shvedova
  4. Casey Dellacqua
  5. Camila Giorgi
  6. Johanna Larsson
  7. Virginie Razzano
  8. Mirjana Lučić-Baroni
  9. Julia Glushko
  10. Olga Govortsova
  11. Anabel Medina Garrigues
  12. Tímea Babos
  1. Kimiko Date-Krumm
  2. Estrella Cabeza Candela
  3. Misaki Doi
  4. Katarzyna Piter
  5. Petra Martić
  6. Hsieh Su-wei
  7. Mandy Minella
  8. Luksika Kumkhum
  9. Teliana Pereira
  10. Alison Van Uytvanck
  11. Nadiya Kichenok
  12. Romina Oprandi

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Momentum gathers for the new International Premier Tennis League
Launching at the of this year will by the International Premier Tennis League. The idea of this event is adapted from the international cricket league where it will showcase players during the off season of the tour. This will take place between November 28th - December 20th. Events will take place in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore and Hong Kong. The format will be similar to Football in a way where teams get to bids for players. There is 6-8 players per team with each team having a budget of $10 million US Dollars.

So far Tomas Berdych has confirmed his participation in the forthcoming event. Commenting on the event Berdych was quoted as saying:-
“It (is) something that can make our sport even more attractive and brings something extra to the players and all the people and all the fans around the world”
I’m looking forward to it. I’d be really glad to become the part of it. I like the new things, I like new ideas. So why not?”
There could potentially be a clearer idea of who else will be playing next week after a bidding event begins over the weekend in Dubai. Rumours are circulating that Rafael Nadal will be paid in the range of $1 million per night if he competes! Indian NDTV is also reporting that Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska has also express a interest in the women’s section.

This event will have it pros and cons. The players will benefit from having the chance to still be competitive and maintain form during the off season whilst generating extra money. On the other hand with no proper rest period the players could be more likely prone to injuries. These reasons gives tennis fans and players a sense of integument of how much of a success the big money spending event will be.

Players confirmed
Tomas Berdych

Players speculated by media sources
Andy Murray - but on a "one night stand basis” according to The Daily Telegraph
Rafael Nadal – various media reports
Caroline Wozniacki – NDTV
Victoria Azarenka – NDTV
Agnieszka Radwanska – NDTV
Novak Djokovic – Daily Mail and one of the co-founders is Boris Becker who is in Djokovic's team
Sarena Williams – Daily Mail
Indian tennis players – Indian idea by a Indian tennis great. You don't need media sources to tell you that the field will most likely have some sort of Indian vibe to the field.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Murray recovers from a slow start in Mexico

Andy Murray

Andy Murray was force to come back from a set down in his first round win over the in form Pablo Andujar. Andujar reached the semi finals last week at the Rio Open and force Rafael Nadal to battle his way to the final in a almost three hour epic. Murray got off to a terrible start in the match by suffering two consecutive breaks of serve leading to Andujar surging ahead with a 5-0 lead. Fortunately for Murray he managed to generate some momentum very late in the set by saving set point to hold serve and then breaking Andujar for the first time. The was however too little too late as the world number 34 took it 63 in just 53 minuets.

Sensing the danger of a shock first round loss after losing the first set and his serve in the first game of the second. Murray responded like a true Grand Slam champion by winning the next six games without having a break point on his serve to level the match at one set all. Going in to the final set the first four games all went on serve. Then in the fifth game Murray struck again by breaking Andujar on his third break point. This then put Murray in command of the match and he was able to easily navigate himself to the finish line by breaking Andujar yet again in the set. The final scoreline was 36 61 62. During the match Murray produced 37 winners. Video Highlights of the match are below (via Tennis Pro DPT Youtube account) :-

In the next round Murray will play Portugal’s world number 44 João Sousa after his 16 62 62 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. This will be the second time Murray will play Sousa after his straight sets win over him at the Australian Open last year.

Elsewhere in the tournaments it was a good day for nearly all of the seeded players with 7 out 8 progressing to round 2. The only seed that didn't make the last 16 was Vasek Pospisil who suffered a 26 26 loss to last week's Rio Open runner up Alexandr Dolgopolov. This was Pospisil's first match since withdrawing from the third round of the Australian Open with a back injury.

For a full list of results from Mexico and all the other tournaments going on chock out the results section.