Archive | October, 2012

WTA. It’s crunch time.

23 Oct

Miami 2012 - Maria Sharapova The season ending WTA Championships get underway tonight in Istanbul, Turkey in what will be a landmark event for the city that is showing its wares as it also bids to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The 8 players in ranking order are:  1. Victoria Azarenka, 2. Maria Sharapova, 3. Serena Williams, 4. Agnieszka Radwanska, 5. Angelique Kerber, 6. Petra Kvitova, 7. Sara Errani, 8. Li Na with the alternate being the 9th ranked Aussie Sam Stosur.

The players have been put into 2 round robin in groups. The Red Group comprises: Azarenka, Williams, Kerber and Li Na. The White Group is Sharapova, Radwanska, Kvitova and Errani. All players were gracious in their pre-tournament press conferences. It’s a great honour to be here, this is really special, I’m so thrilled to be among the 8 best players etc. One stood out – Serena – “I don’t really care who I play, or when I play…. it’ll be good.”

It should be a really good finale to a great year of women’s tennis – and a tip from the Pro – don’t write Azarenka off – IF (that is a big if) she can get through her group – she will win it – she has a lot to prove. Enjoy!

The PRO.


Stosur through to Kremlin Cup final.

21 Oct

Australia’s Sam Stosur fought off a fast start from Ana Ivanovic to make it through to the final of the WTA Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Stosur got her feet and serve working to take 9 of the final 11 games in the match, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and will go into the final against former world #1 Caroline Wozniacki with renewed confidence.

Stosur leads Wozniacki 3-2 in head to head matches and has a 2-0 advantage on hardcourts. It is the big serving Aussies first final for the year, a drought that goes back to her breakthrough 2011 US Open victory. Stosur and Wozniacki have both missed out on the season ending WTA Championships which commence in Istanbul next week.


Caroline Wozniacki

Age no barrier

19 Oct

In a sport where it seems everyone is getting stronger, faster, more athletic and doing it all sooner, spare a thought for the growing army of tour “veterans”. Guys like Radek Stepanek, little Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas, Nikolay Davydenko and even Roger Federer are pushing past 30. And a similar tale on the WTA roster. Venus and Serena Williams are comfortably in the twilight of their careers, Kimiko Date-Krumm is still competing at 42.

 Teen prodigies Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

Why do they keep flogging themselves? Surely not for the money, is it the lifestyle, the travel, the constant practice court and hotel room grind – The reality is they are all hardened competitors – modern day gladiators who thrive on the pressure and thrill of the contest.

Despite the perception of “young guns” bursting onto the tennis tour – the reality is players are having their success later and later.  On the ATP tour in 2011 the youngest final was played in Houston between Ryan Sweeting (23) and Kei Nishikori (21) – hardly teen prodigies. Teens are very scarce on the men’s tour, Bernard Tomic was the only teenager in the men’s top 100 – and not so anymore as he has just turned 20. In fact you need to go back to 2008 for the last teenage winner of a men’s title – and then only just a teen as Marin Cilic was 19 and 11 months at the time.

So don’t despair – keep living your dream, you have plenty of time.



Roger – thumbs up

17 Oct

Roger Federer - 2012 RomeThe race to the year end ATP # 1 ranking is looming as a showdown between rejuvenated Roger Federer and a rampant Novak Djokovic. Novak won the points in the latest instalment by triumphing this week at the Shanghai Rolex Masters event. He survived an epic contest in the final with Scot Andy Murray – who must also have a slim chance of finishing the year at #1, after Murray had 7 match points.

Federer’s problem is his stellar end of year run last year means he is defending champion at the next 3 events – and can only lose ranking points at this stage. Its very hard to defend points on such a successful run. But that is what Roger has always done. Last week he celebrated another milestone –  the first player ever to hold the #1 ranking for 300 weeks. Pete Sampras was among the first to congratulate Federer.

Sampras said, “It’s an incredible achievement and accomplishment to be ranked No. 1 in the world for 300 weeks. It is a testament to his consistency at the top of the game for so many years.” Sampras himself spent 286 weeks as tennis’s #1.

So its off to the Kremlin Cup in Russia, and then the Swiss indoor, before the tour heads to London for the season ending Masters Cup. Who will be last #1 standing?



Rest just the tonic for Tomic

11 Oct

Tomic still welcome in Sydney

Aussie young gun Bernard Tomic has admitted his guns are out of firepower as his “breakout” year on the ATP tour came to a grinding halt in China, at the Shanghai Masters event. Tomic looked to be heading for the Top 20 as he bamboozled players with his unique talent, peaking at #27 in June. Since then it has been 9 out of 12 first round losses as his ranking slides, and will bottom out below 50 in the next ranking update.

Following his 6-4, 6-0 loss to German Florian Mayer, Tomic confessed to only giving “roughly 85%” in his match. In doing so he opens himself up to repeats of the criticism from John McEnroe, Pat Rafter, Paul McNamee and host of tennis experts. Labelled a “disgrace” by Rafter, who “was obviously tanking” by McEnroe following an insipid performance at the US Open. Tomic has done himself no favours by dropping another match 6-0 in the closing set, and to make it worse concede in his presser that “it has been a long year” and also that “the mental skill is one of my biggest problems”. Honest – yes, smart – no.

We keep being reminded that Tomic is only 19 – but 19 only for another week. His lack of maturity is clearly evident.  “it’s scary how much I have improved” – “it will be very soon that I start beating the top 4” – quotes from this years Australian Open. And in China he attributes his slide down the rankings to a poorly planned schedule, that has “cost me a lot of matches I should have won”.

Tomic has pulled out of the Swedish Open next week and is unlikely to play the Swiss Indoor the following week. It could be time to rest, recover and re-invent himself as an Aussie battler. He has plenty of time.

The PRO 

Kei – Opens doors in Japan

7 Oct

Kei has the key to Japan

Japan’s Kei Nishikori has won his hometown ATP Japan Open after a  3 set defeat of young Canadian gun Milos Raonic. Nishikori, dubbed Project 45 by JTA officials, becomes the first Japanese player to reach, and then win his home event final.

It has been a stellar year for the young Japanese player and he has consolidated a top 20 ranking at #17 currently. Not bad for someone who was outside the top 50 12 months ago and was ranked over 430 toward the end of 2009.

See my blog on Nishikori’s rise to prominence from January 25 this year in the archives section or via this link.

Nishikori has a bright future ahead of him and is truly a STAR in Japan. Watch out for more success from Kei.



Rafa. Clay please it’s easier on my knees.

7 Oct

Rafa on the run.

Raphael Nadal is hopeful of a return to the ATP tour prior to the season end, and may make himself available for the Davis Cup final. This will come as a relief to many who held grave doubts for Rafa’s continued longevity on the tour.

Nadal himself is now choosing both his words – and his schedule very carefully. As the call for less emphasis on hardcourt training and events, particularly for developing junior players reaches a crescendo, Nadal maintains optimism for his future in the game. Uncle Toni Nadal insists he will not be hurrying Rafa back to the tour – but that “Rafa should be back on the practice courts in 10-15 days”

It wasn’t surprising to also hear Uncle Toni comments in a press conference yesterday in Sao Paulo, among the comments were a call to the ATP Tour to think about playing the year ending Masters final on clay – at least some of the time:

“They should think about a revaluation of the calendar,” said Rafa’s mentor, in view of the many tournaments that are played on hard courts “it is better to protect the health of the athletes.”