Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Today's Ace

1. Alisa Kleybanova, who was out of action for a long time due to illness, has announced her come back to competitive circuit through a wild card entry into Sony Ericsson Open, Miami. 

2. Andrea Petkovic still haven't recovered from injury and will not participate in Indian wells and Miami. Wish her a speedy recovery.

3. After her appearance in 2012 Vanity Fair, Maria Sharapova visited "Chelsea Lately" show recently. I must say Masha was did quite a good job there serving few aces. Video here.

4. Martina Navratilova created quite a sensation last night when it was announced she is taking part in "Dancing With The Stars" show for ABC channel. She is paired with Tony Dovolani. Monica Seles was the only other player who appeared in this show.

5. Sania Mirza on CNN's Open Court show.

6. Young Laura Robson is all set to join the Adidas training camp in Las Vegas. Sorana Cirstea and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are already training there. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who are living in Las Vegas, have been regularly having an hit with the girls.

7. Martina Navratilova has joined twitter. If she can provide her insights about tennis there, it will be a huge boost for the tennis twitterverse.

What is Agnieszka Radwanska doing in Malaysia?

Agnieszka Radwanska, who recently won the title in Dubai, has accepted a wild card entry into the Malaysia Open. With the BNP Paribas Open starting within a week, I think its a huge risk for Aga to play in Kuala Lumpur.

Aga, who has been defeated only thrice in 2012 (all by the new sensation Victoria Azarenka), has had a shoulder injury in 2011. She has been playing continuously from Fed Cup to Doha to Dubai. After the Fed Cup, she has been having problem with her shoulder again. It was heavily strapped thereafter.

It's only fair that she takes enough rest before the all important Indian Wells and Miami. After reaching her career high ranking of No. 5 in the world, I still don't understand what she is doing in Kuala Lumpur playing those rain affected matches. I had rather wanted to see her in USA training for Indian Wells.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Today's Ace

1. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Sorana Cirstea are few among the others who are training in the Adidas tennis camp at Las Vegas before the Indian Wells and Miami. After having Andre Agassi visit their camp, today, Steffi Graf visited them to share her tips.

2. Jimmy Choo and Jelena Jankovic? Yes, Jimmy Choo is designing a special shoe for JJ according to her latest Facebook post.

3.  Do you know? Victorious Vika has got a new hairstyle. Yo Yo!

4. Tomas Berdych seems to be having some fun in Dubai with his girlfriend.

5. “You won, but I’m prettier and more marketable than you.”; "I don’t like her outfit. It was one of the motivations to beat her.”- Who said this to whom? Eager to know? Go here to know more.

6. William sisters and Maria Sharapova attended the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower in West Hollywood, California.

I will leave it to you guys to decide who looks the best :)

7. Up and close with the British young sensation Laura Robson who would have been a chef if not a tennis player.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Today's Ace

1. Former tennis player Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

2. Lisa Raymond won her 77th career WTA doubles title in Dubai and is trailing only Martina Navratilova, Rosie Casals, Pam Shriver, Billie Jean King and Natasha Zvereva.

 3. Djokovic and Federer at Burj Al Arab's helipad. These guys aren't scared of heights, I must tell.

4. Do you know who is Vika's favourite person in this world? Its her grandma. When things weren't going right for Vika last year, she had even thought of giving up tennis. But it was her grandma's life-story which has been the inspiration for her and from there on there is no one who can stop Vika. Here is the photo of her grandma she tweeted few days back.

5. Look, who got lucky to spend some time with Andre Agassi? Its Sorana Cirstea in Las Vegas.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Today's Ace

1. Andy knows there is no chance for him to win the Dubai title since he has this Djoker boy in the same half draw as his and opts to play soccer instead.

2. The secret behind success? Its confidence and self belief. The successful doubles team believes so. Here is the interview.

3. Tipsy Jankovic talks about what a young tennis player needs to do to be a successful pro.

4. Michael Chang, 1989 French Open champion, has advised Lin (in past) on how to handle pressure and attention of top level sport. This is what he says.

5. Andrea Petkovic, who was misfortune to get injured at the beginning of this year, had been diagnosed 29 times worldwide and her reaction to it? "I really hit the jackpot. 

6. "When I am in the tournament I don't see Novak winning" - Can you guess who said this? Click here to know more.

7.  Marko Djokovic has got a wild card entry into the tournament in Dubai and will face a qualifier in his first round. It really helps if you have someone like "Novak Djokovic" as your elder brother, doesn't? 

WTA Dubai - Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Julia Goerges

Agnieszka defeats Goerges 7-5, 6-4

Julia Goerges, who was destined to face Vika in the second round, had a rather sweet surprise awaiting for her as the world no.1 had a last minute withdrawal from the tournament due to ankle injury. She then stormed into the finals with couple of good wins against Hantuchova and Caroline. On the other hand, Agnieszka has had a pretty good year in 2012 with all her 3 defeats been only to the World No.1 Vika. All this set up an amazing finals in Dubai.

Goerges, facing the big stage, had few early nerves in her and gave Agnieszka the chance to race to 4-2. As the nerves had settled in, Goerges was at her own self generating more power behind her shots and pumping down forehand winners to go 5-4 up in the first set. Agniezka had to serve to stay in the first set and was helped by Goerges who had been committing to her shots too early and making errors of all sorts. Being 5-5 in the first set, 30 all in the game, Agnieszka sent a lob (that dint have enough height on it) straight towards Goerges who easily won the point. Despite having the game point to go up 6-5, Georges was struck up in the mid court and committed errors on her forehand shots which eventually handed the break to the Agnieszka. A love hold by Agnieszka saw the first set go in favor of her. Goerges, after having fought her way from 2-4 down to 5-4, made a terrible mess of the opportunity to close the set.

Goerges started the second set breaking Agnieszka. That was the only game she won in the second set for a long time. Agnieszka won the next 4 games with super defense and clever tactics. On the other side of the net, Goerges had good plan of coming towards the net and attacking her opponent, but she just wasn't able to put the winners inside the line and execute her plan. Error-filled play from Goerges saw her trail behind 1-4. Then, there was a quick comeback from Goerges to take the scoreline to 4-5 trailing by just a game. Agnieszka was then serving for the championship. It was an error-filled game by both the players. Goerges had a break point to level the set, but completely missed it by forehand error. Finally an error from Goerges  saw Agnieszka Radwanska win her first title of the year. Goerges had hit 43 winners and 54 unforced errors in the match which sums up the way she played the match.

Goerges had been playing well since the Fed Cup. If she can minimize those unforced errors and play consistently throughout the match, she can easily crack into top 10 soon.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Yoga, Gymnastic, and Hair Balancing

There wasn't only a great game of tennis played in Dubai yesterday, but we had some "yoga/gymnastic" contests as well...

Earlier on Court 1, Shahar Peer struck a great gymnastic pose....

which had caught Jelena Jankovic's eyes who was playing on the center court..... 


She clearly looked frustrated with Peer's pose and came up with her own......

She didn't stop with this, but also showed hair balancing........

Shahar Peer was totally outplayed by JJ :-)

When cricket meets tennis

What happens when cricketers go to a tennis match? Do they really enjoy the sport?

Here is an epic reaction from England team's coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook while they were watching former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki take on Simona Halep in Dubai yesterday:


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Samantha Stosur vs Lucie Safarova, Dubai 2012

Sam defeats Lucie 6-1, 6-7, 6-1.

In the first set, Sam looked rather ruthless. Her serves were magnificent and she had Safarova on mat. Kick on a wide serve and then pump a forehand winner - this was Sam's game plan throughout the first set and it worked for her. Lucie was left without any kind of answers to Sam's serves. The leftie managed to win only one game in the first set overall.

In the second set, no one broke each other's service game instead of having so many break points to do so. Lucie had one or more break points in first four service games of Sam, but dint convert even one of them. But she did well enough to hold her first four service games without conceding a break point. The Czech's serve right into the body of the Australian seemed to trouble her a lot and didn't really have a chance to break into Lucie's service games. Sam was left doing more of a catching work in the second set and her backhand down the line shot didnt come out well today. Had Lucie converted her break points, Lucie wouldnt have needed a tie breaker to win the second set. Even in the tie breaker, Sam made a backhand down the line error to give Lucie a 3-1 lead. Lucie had so many set points but only on the fifth attempt she was able to win it. Lucie had a set point in Sam's sixth service game, but lost it with an error. Even in the tie breaker, Lucie had 3 set points that Sam saved (especially the forehand down the line winner to save the third set point was lovely to watch) before winning the fifth set point.

In the third set, Lucie dropped the ball inside the net attempting a drop shot when 30-40 down on Sam's first service game of the set and eventually let Sam hold her serve. Sam started to handle Lucie's serve well and was having two break points in her opening service game in the set. Lucie, for the second time in the set, couldnt get her drop shot right handing an easy break to Sam. Sam easily went up 3-0 in the set in no time, when Lucie held her serve to win her first game in the set. Some good variety in serves along with great forehand winners won the third set for Sam. Lucie was not able to get the ball inside the line and missed way too many chances to put any pressure on Sam. Such a poor effort by Lucie in the third set especially after giving a hard time for Sam in the second set. Sam, on the other hand, started the third set with great calmness and composure. She was so focussed and didnt give any time to Lucie to gather her thoughts.

Looking at Lucie, one would wonder why she isnt in the top 20 despite having wonderful talent. Its because of her inconsistency, not only between matches but also between sets. She needs to play with lot more consistency throughout the match to win against top 10 players which will give a huge boost to her confidence.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Today's Ace

1. Caroline hits back at Martina:

It created quite a sensation during Australian Open when Martina Navratilova said Caroline doesn't deserve to be No.1 and Petra Kvitova is the real No.1. Yesterday during the All-Access hour in Dubai, Caroline hit back at Martina Navratilova saying she lost her respect for Martina. Full interview here

2. Vika is no more a kid:

Vika says she doesnt want to behave like a crazy kid and need to behave like a lady both on and off court. She says she is lot more mature now and has a clear mind of what she is doing. When journalists questioned if she can do a Novak this year, she dismissed saying there is lots of catching up to do to even go anywhere near his record.

3. Dubai Duty Free's new brand ambassadors:

Yesterday, Dubai Duty Free announced the former world No.1 players Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki as its brand ambassador.

“Dubai has a special place in my heart and it feels great to return this year as defending champion of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Wozniacki at the announcement. “Being ambassador for Dubai Duty Free is a great honour and it gives me the opportunity to help promote one of my favourite destinations.”

“I am really flattered that Dubai Duty Free asked to become its brand ambassador,” said Serbian beauty queen Ivanovic. “It is a great company that has also been extremely supportive of women’s tennis. I always get excited about traveling to Dubai as it is one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

Here are the photos from the shooting these two did for Dubai Duty Free commercial.

4. Serena's dance:

Here is the video of Serena's dance during an exhibition match in Monterrey.

5. Sabine Lisicki and Lucie Safarova at kids clinic:

Sabine Lisicki and Lucie Safarova joined the kids on the court in Dubai and entertained them.

6. No Petra Kvitiova:

Petra Kvitova has pulled out from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis due to viral infection. Get well soon, Petra. Petra Kvitova vs Victoria Azarenka need to happen soon.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Spaniards have similar style of celebrating

Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino of Spain won her first WTA title, defeating Alexandra Panova of Russia 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday in the final of the Copa BBVA Colsanitas.

Doesn't she remind of you of this?

Spaniards do have a similar style of celebrating ;)

Snoring and Grunting

After her win against Sam in the Qatar Total Ladies Open, Victoria Azarenka was asked about her grunting in the press conference. Vika was smart enough to produce a winner against the journalists.

Azarenka: Do you snore?
Journalist: Yes
Azarenka: Can you control that?
Journalist: No, I guess it's natural.
Azarenka: So it's natural to you right, so that's natural to me, too, the way I play tennis. That's it.

Talking about snoring in a press conference? Havent we heard this somewhere before? Yes, it was from the 2011 French Open champion Li Na who made fun of how her husband's snoring kept her awake ahead of her semi finals match in Australia Open 2011.

Today's Ace

1. Vika wins Qatar Total Ladies Open,2012:

Victoria Azarenka notched up her third title of the year in Doha by beating Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-1, 6-2. She is on a roll in 2012 who is yet to face a loss this year.  If there is one thing that has hugely improved over years for Azarenka is her mental stability. She has hugely worked on her physical fitness too which was exhibited when she fought back in the semi finals against Agnieszka Radwanska even after injuring her ankle. She was playing fluently last night without showing any kind of pain. One of the most amazing fact about Vika is she is playing with huge confidence these days.

2. Serena Williams out of Monterrey Open:

Serena Williams has pulled out from Monterrey Open citing an ankle injury. She was invited into the tournament and was offered a huge amount of money to participate. But injury kept her away from the tournament. While she is in Monterrey, she has decided to have fun. She was seen playing an exhibition match against Gisela Dulko on a tennis court on water.

3. The power couple of tennis in Las Vegas:

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf were at the Keep Memory Alive foundation's 'Power of Love Gala' celebrating Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday in Las Vegas.

4. Best ambassadors of the game:

The semi finals in Doha was highly dramatic due to on court injuries that happened. In the first semi final, Bartoli hurt herself in the second set and was forced to pull out from the match. Sam Stosur was very kind enough to inquire about her opponent's injury condition.

In the second semi final, Azarenka got injured in the second set. Her ankle was then strapped and she continued to fight back with pain and eventually won the match. Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska are considered to be one of the good friends in women's tennis. During Australian Open, a huge debate was brought on the grunting issue and Aga had come out in support of Vika's grunting. With all this background, it was rather surprising to see the semi finals end with a cold handshake from Aga.

These two semis showed a contrasting kind of attitude. The oldies showed a great spirit while the younger generation need to take a lesson from the oldies.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bartoli vs Sam

Marion Bartoli vs Samantha Stosur - it was called the battle of oldies. Both hit the ball hard and match each other stroke by stroke. Bartoli landed in Dubai after having a fantastic week in Paris having reached the finals there. She was carrying the good form in this tournament. On the other hand, this has been Samantha Stosur's first WTA tournament after the depressing first round exit from the Australian Open. She was finding some form here in Dubai with a good win against Monica Niculescu in the quarterfinals yesterday.

All this set up a good battle in the semi finals. Samantha started the match serving some good serves backed up with solid hitting. She did well to hold her first two service games. Bartoli was in her usual self in serves notching up few aces and few double faults. She conceded breakpoints in her serves but managed to hold her first 2 service games. Bartoli broke Sam in the fifth game of the first set with some terrific play. She was then serving to go up 4-2 lead. This is where things started to change for Bartoli. She double faulted twice in that game and looked completely clueless. Sam took clear advantage of this and started coming down with winners. It was Sam's forehand that was working well than the backhand. Bartoli's body language changed completely and her usual rituals between points started to slow down. She was hitting the balls to Sam's forehand side which dint quite work out for her. Obviously Bartoli was not anywhere near her best and eventually lost the first set.

Having lost the first set, knowing Bartoli's fighting spirit, one would have expected a comeback from Bartoli in the second set. Just when things were heating up in the second set, Bartoli felt a pain in her right calf muscle and had to retire. This has been a pure shame after Bartoli's excellent two weeks in the WTA circle. It's highly unlikely for her to participate in Dubai which is starting on Monday.

Samantha Stosur has a work cut off for her in the finals who will most likely face the world No.1 Victoria Azarenka (unbeaten in 2012) or the Poland No.1 Agnieszka Radwanska.

Masha and her twin

FOUND..... Just found Maria Sharapova's twin.

Here is the very rare picture of Maria Sharapova and her twin Téa Leoni.

Today's Ace

1. Victorious Vika : Vika is unbeaten this year and is 15-0. One cant help, but be astonished at her success. She has got a wonderful team around her and she is enjoying it at the moment. And not to mention, she is already thinking about the "Golden Slam". Can she pull out a Steffi Graf or be as consistent as Djokovic (in 2011)? If she can, it will be a huge boost for WTA considering the inconsistency it has been through.

2. Maria Sharapova is going to be the news announcer:

3. Sabine Lisicki's pet name is "Happy": Sabine has answered few fan questions in facebook

4. Kvitova's doubles partner: Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic has announced she is going to be playing mixed doubles in Olympics with Radek Stepanek. It might have been a surprise for many as her mixed doubles with Tomas Bredych in Hopman Cup was pretty impressive. But Petra feels she will go with the experienced candidate. Wise decision, Petra!

5. Maria and Linsanity: Maria Sharapova talks about LINsanity, choice of courts for under 10s, her exhibition match in Madison Square Garden, her love for New York and many - here

6. Sam's love for her mum: After winning her quarterfinals match in Qatar Total Ladies Open, Sam was asked to sign the camera and this is what she came up with...

Pic Courtesy: Kfish_WTA

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Agnieszka Radwanska defeats Varvara Lepchenko - Round 3, Qatar Total Open 2012

I was riding high in the first set hitting winners all over the court

I was on my knees as I could not do more because she was pushing me deep to either sides of the court

Then when I had 2 set points I choked and eventually lost the first set 5-7

I was still screaming at myself in the second set for the missed chances in the first set

I sensed my chance and came back strong in the second set

Aga served me a breadstick in the second set and it dint taste good

What is required to win a match?

1. Tennis racquet

2. A bum ankle 

Earlier Kim Clijsters won the fourth round in Australia Open against Li Na after twisting her ankle in the first set

Today Andy Roddick followed the same pattern

But what is required to win a grand slam?

Twisting your mouth

Balancing the racquet

Adidas punished by God for blinding several eyes in Australia Open

Day 3 of Qatar Total Open 2012 saw many seeds tumbling down. Few of them are

Anabel Medina lost to Bartoli in straight sets

Then Sorana Cirstea was defeated by Samantha Stosur whom she recently beat in Australia Open

Ana Ivanovic dint stay long either

Then came heartbreaking defeat for the recent Open GDF Suez title winner Angelique Kerber

Even the former world no.1 and second seed Caroline Wozniacki was defeated

While all this upsets were happening in singles, doubles were not spared either.

No. 3 seed Daniela Hantuchova/Agnieszka Radwanska were sent packing

Grand Slam finalists Elena Vesnina/Sania Mirza soon felt the upset

One thing which is common in these defeats is all these players are sponsored by ADIDAS. I feel Adidas is punished by God for designing such an outfit for their main player in Australia Open 2012.