Comeback Watch: Serena Williams

14 Jun

Serena Williams began hitting in April in preparation for her comeback this week in Eastbourne.

About a year ago, Serena Williams stood atop the tennis world as she hoisted her fourth Venus Rosewater Dish at the All England Club and her 13th overall Grand Slam.  After suffering a career-threatening injury to her foot due to broken glass in a Munich restaurant, and having multiple blood clots in her lungs which subsequently led to a moderate sized hematoma on her abdominal region due to the blood thinners she was on due to the embolism in her lung.  After a much-anticipated wait for her return to the WTA Tour, Serena has finally pleased her millions of fans and brought the next stage of her career to the southeastern coast of England in Eastbourne before traveling to London in order to compete for her 5th Wimbledon title. 

 

In her first match, she will take on Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat her sister Venus in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year.  But, Pironkova has not has the best of seasons and should not pose a huge risk to the younger Williams sister.  But, anything is possible after a year off from professional tennis.

Serena Williams last played on the tour at Wimbledon almost a year ago.

Should she get through her first match, she will take on either the British wildcard Heather Watson or the top seeded Vera Zvonareva.  A match against the Russian Zvonareva would be particularly interesting since Serena beat Zvonareva in the finals of Wimbledon last year.  This match would call on Serena and Vera to bring their best tennis to the court in Eastbourne, but nothing can be assumed until both woman play their first-round matches. 

Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva, who met in last year's Wimbledon final, could meet again in the second round of Eastbourne.

Hopman Cup Poll

26 Dec

Hopping around Australia: A Preview of the Hopman Cup

26 Dec

The star-studded field at this year’s Hopman Cup will start the tennis season off in Perth, Australia with eight eager teams ready to battle each other for the title.  Top seeded Serbia will look to make quick work of their Kazakhstanian opponents on January 2, while Justine Henin and her Belgian counterpart will play the first match against Australia on New Year’s Day.

Group A:

(1) Serbia- Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic

(3) Belgium- Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans

Kazakhstan- Yaroslava Shvedova and Andrey Goublev

Australia- Alicia Molik and Lleyton Hewitt

Group B:

(2) Great Britain- Laura Robson and Andy Murray

(4) Italy- Francesca Schiavone and Potito Starace

France- Kristina Mladenovic and Nicolas Mahut

United States- Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner


This post will highlight in detail the top four seeds chances at the finals and briefly touch upon the other four unseeded teams in the field.

(1) Serbia- Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic

These two lifelong friends will partner each other for the second time (they also played with each other in 2006) at the Australian event and based on the second half of 2010, they look to be in great shape to take the title in 2011.  Novak Djokovic played impeccably well in the US Open semis against Roger Federer to make the finals only to lose to Nadal.  But, more significantly, Djokovic led his Davis Cup team to the title at the beginning of December in his native Belgrade.  In addition, Ana Ivanovic made an incredible late-season surge up the rankings taking International titles in Linz and the second-tier year-ending championships event in Bali.  All signs point to a spectacular 2011 for these two Serbian phenoms and the Hopman Cup will surely be an indicator of how the new season will progress.

If she can hit plenty of forehands like this, Serbia will be in great shape to win the tournament.

 

 

Novak Djokovic always brings his competitive side out during team competitions.

(2) Great Britain- Laura Robson and Andy Murray

Reaching the final of this event together last year, the British duo of Robson and Murray will look to go one better at this year’s edition of the tournament.  But, it should be noted that last year Robson only one of her singles matches (against Martinez Sanchez in the final) and she will have to improve upon that statistic if she hopes to lead her team to glory.  While she has yet to score a hair-raising victory against a top player, she won’t face too much competition from the other females in her group, with the exception of Francesca Schiavone, as she is scheduled to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands (#58) and Kristina Mladenovic (#300).  Andy Murray, on the other hand is by far the strongest male player in his group as he should be minimally challenged by Nicolas Mahut and Potito Starace.  However, John Isner also resides in this group, and certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly.

 

Playing the event for the second year in a row, Robson and Murray will attempt to hoist the trophy this go-around.

(3) Belgium- Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans

The unheralded Ruben Bemelmans will want to impress his partner Justine Henin from the start, and he might have to because Henin hasn’t played a tour match since Wimbledon.  Henin, who appeared to be struggling with the serve and forehand at an exhibition against compatriot Kim Clijsters in December will need to play well from the get go in Perth if she wants any hope of reaching the weekend.  Bemelmans on the other hand will be hard pressed to beat men like Djokovic and Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt.  Nevertheless, as the mantra goes: anything is possible, and it will have to be if the Belgian team hopes to have any chance at the title.

Ruben Bemelmans will partner Justine Henin in the 2011 edition of the Hopman Cup

Justine Henin will be returning from an elbow injury at the Hopman Cup.

(4) Italy- Francesca Schiavone and Potito Starace

Led by the surprise Roland Garros champion, Team Italy will have a decent chance at making the finals.  Schiavone, who is coming off a career-best season, will face relatively weak opposition from Laura Robson, Kristina Mladenovic, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, whom she beat in the Fed Cup final.  Starace, a perennial top-75 player on the ATP World Tour, will be the clear underdog when he goes against Andy Murray and John Isner, but could have a chance at victory against France’s Nicolas Mahut.  But, with the doubles skills of Schiavone, the duo will always be alive up until the final match, mixed doubles, is decided.

Francesca Schiavone will hope for a strong start to her season after taking the Roland Garros title in 2010.

Other Teams: Australia- Alicia Molik and Lleyton Hewitt, Kazakhstan- Yaroslava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev, France- Kristina Mladenovic and Nicolas Mahut, and United States- Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner

The remaining four teams, all full of potential, lack the stardom of the other four seeded teams, despite having several distinguished names, like Lleyton Hewitt and John Isner.  Isner, who was originally partnered with Serena Williams, will now play the mixed doubles event with lesser-known, but highly capable Bethanie Mattek-Sands.  The US team will have a fair shot at reaching the finals if both Mattek-Sands and Isner can win a majority of their matches.  Like the US, Australia will also have a chance at the Saturday final if the stars align for Molik and Hewitt.  On the other hand, France and Kazakhstan will be hard-pressed to win any of their matches because of the relatively shallow resumes of their four players.  Team Kazakhstan, which could also be referred to as Team Russia as both Shvedova and Golubev hail from Russia.  When it comes to their tennis, both are talented, but also young and fairly inexperienced when it comes to big matches and pressure situations, despite the fact that Shevedova won two Grand Slams in doubles last season with Vania King.  If Kazakhstan was a part of Group B, along with Britain, France, and Italy, I would give them a fair chance, but Group A is far more competitive than B.  Lastly, France brings two players ranked outside of the top 100 to Hopman Cup: Mahut, who is most famous for his first-round loss to John Isner at Wimbledon and Mladenovic, who much like Laura Robson won her home junior Grand Slam event as a teenager (she won Roland Garros juniors in 2009). However, both players will have chances at victories in Group B.

Tennis enthusiasts won't have to worry about another 70-68 final set score with the third-set tiebreak in Hopman Cup play.

Alicia Molik's volleying skills will come in handy during the duration of Hopman Cup play.

A Quick Update to my Followers

14 Sep

I know that many of you wish I still blogged on a regular basis, but due to various circumstances, like school and health problems, I am not able to blog as much as I used to.  Nevertheless, there will be new posts when I get a spare moment and you can always check my Twitter account for up-to-the-minute tennis updates at Tennis_News.  Just to let you know, my schedule for the next few weeks looks something like this:

Late this week/early next week: Photos from the U.S. Open from wTennisPhotos (http://www.wtennisphotos.com)

Next week: Players to watch in the fall tennis season and who has the best chance of making it to the Tour Championships on both the WTA and ATP.

Later this month: A recap of the U.S. Open and a preview of the remainder of the season. 

Before the Beijing event: An all-inclusive preview of the last big WTA event of the season before Doha.

Before the Shanghai and Paris Masters: Previews of the draws and players with the best oppurtunities of advancing to the finals. 

Following the Tour Championsips: The season in review.

Please contact me at tennisnewsnow@gmail.com if you have any questions or requests for my blog over the next few months.  Enjoy!

Guest Post by wTennisPhotos (Part Two of the Montreal Photos)

14 Sep

I have finally gotten around to posting the second half of the fabulous photos taken by tennis photographer, wTennisPhotos (http://www.wtennisphotos.com).  Included in this set are some of his best photos from the event in Canada earlier this summer.  Enjoy!

Check back to the blog later in the week for a complete photo recap of the U.S. Open from our friend wTennisPhotos.  He was at the U.S. Open and took some great pictures that I can’t wait to share with you! 

Daniela Hantuchova hits an overhead at the Rogers Cup in Montreal earlier this summer.

 

Victoria Azarenka sits in the shade during a practice session at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Svetlana Kuznetsova fine tunes her serve during a practice session at the Rogers Cup.

Fed Cup star Bethanie Mattek-Sands hits a backhand in her match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal earlier this summer.

Radwanska hits a backhand at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Caroline Wozniacki hits a serve during her practice session at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. The Great Dane went on to win the title.

 

Melanie Oudin gets low for a backhand slice shot at the Rogers Cup in Canada earlier this summer.

A Guest Entry from wTennis Photos (20 Pictures from the Rogers Cup in Montreal)

3 Sep
Several months ago, wTennisPhotos won a contest on Twitter and I offered him an entry on my blog of his choice.  Being an avid tennis photographer, wTennisPhotos, who runs the website www.wtennisphotos.com, asked me to post some pictures from his trip to Montreal in August.  So, several weeks later, I am posting his best pictures of the best women in Canada in a two-part installment beginning today.  Enjoy!!

Caroline Wozniacki, eventual champion, practicing at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

 

Alona Bondarenko hitting an overhead at the Rogers Cup in Canada.

Daniela Hantuchova smiles at the Rogers Cup in Montreal

Dinara Safina gets herself pumped up in her match at the Rogers Cup.

Vera Zvonarena practices in Montreal at the Rogers Cup.

Victoria Azarenka prepares to hit a backhand at the Rogers Cup in Canada.

Agnieszka Radwanska bends low in a doubles match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Maria Kirilenko looks on in her match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Caroline Woznaicki had to play two matches in one day at the Rogers Cup, but she prevailed and won the event.

 Check back in a few days for the second installment of these fantastic photos from wTennisPhotos (www.wtennisphotos.com).

Tennis in California (A Preview of the LA Event)

26 Jul

With the event in LA kicking off in just hours, I thought that it would be appropriate to briefly preview the event and allow readers to sound off with their thoughts of the event.   Top-seeded Andy Murray took a wildcard into the event after Novak Djokovic withdrew and Sam Querrey, the defending champion, is the second seed.  In this post, I will preview their chances, along with a brief preview on Mardy Fish.

(1) Andy Murray

Andy Murray, the Montreal champion in 2009, hopes to have another great US hard court season.

After losing to Nadal at Wimbledon, Andy Murray went to his training base in Miami to work on his fitness and most likely get acclimated to the hot summer temperatures in the U.S.  By playing LA this year, Murray has a great opportunity to win the U.S. Open Series and go into the U.S. Open as a favorite.  But, hard courts do favor the aggressor, so he must play with more conviction and offense in his game if he hopes to win in southern California this week.

(2) Sam Querrey

If anyone has experience playing in southern California, it's Sam Querrey, 2009 Farmers Classic champion and resident of the area.

It’s no secret that this is one of Sam Querrey’s favorite tournaments in the world.  He lives close enough to the event that all of his friends have the chance to support him throughout the entire tournament and this is a big boost to his confidence.   Not to mention the fact that he won the tournament last year and went on to win the U.S. Open Series.  So, coming into LA this year, Sam Querrey should be as confident as ever.

(8) Mardy Fish

The winner of the first leg of the U.S. Open Series, Mardy Fish looks to extend his run of 10 straight matches and two straight tournaments here in LA.

Could Mardy Fish be more confident?  He reached the Queen’s Club final on grass back in June, won the event in Newport immediately following Wimbledon, and just last week he won the inaugural Atlanta Tennis Championships.   He is also on a 10 match winning streak that he doesn’t want to see end anytime soon.  But, his draw is tough here in LA.  After facing Benjamin Becker in the first round, he could play James Blake in the 2nd round, should they both make it there.  He is also on Andy Murray’s side of the draw, but with two wins over the Scot this year alone, he would have enormous confidence in that match should it take place.

Tune into the blog for updates throughout the week on not only the LA event but also on the women’s event in Stanford.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

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