Archive | August, 2013

Tomic stretched. Barty all business.

27 Aug


Aussie young guns Ash Barty and Bernard Tomic advanced in contrasting styles in the 1st round at the US Open today.

Australia, despite being in the tennis wilderness for the best part of ten years (with apologies to Lleyton Hewitt – whose great big heart has broken his little body, and the phlegmatic, roller coaster that is Sam Stosur) was able to brag of two winners on day one of the 2013 US Open.

Teen prodigy Ash Barty broke through in her debut US Open singles match with a resounding 6-1, 6-4 victory over Spain’s  Estrella Cabenza Candela. Barty looked comfortable out on Court 15 and a sign of her maturity was her ability to return serve well and convert four of nine break point opportunities. In a really good gauge to how far Ashleigh Barty has come, her next match pits her against 2011 quarter finalist Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Coach Jason Stoltenberg will have done his homework and Barty may well surprise a few more players along the way.

Despite not having father and coach, John Tomic in the stands, Bernard Tomic was able to overcome his Spanish opponent, lefty Albert Ramos in a gruelling 5 set match 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. Twenty year old Australian Tomic was able to grind out the win with his trademark angles, court craft and cunning, in what was described as the best match of opening day.

In the battle of the “bad boys”, look for Tomic to advance past Brit surprise packet Daniel Evans. Evans trounced Japan’s world #11 Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Tomic was prophetic, and somewhat ironic in his post match interview, and referred to “today being all about finding a way to get out of tough situations”. Scary one line summary of his fledgling career.

The PRO.


Marinko Matosevic, classic late bloomer.

13 Aug

5 about

Marinko Matosevic on the rise – thanks to new coach Mark Woodforde.

You would hardly call it a quick ascent up the tennis rankings for Australian 28 year old Marinko Matosevic. Marinko has been chipping away at a tennis career since the age of 10, and was stalled in the rankings between 250 to 1000+ for his first 7 years as a pro. In fact, even as a 26 year old in 2011 Matosevic was still outside the top 200. How do you keep going when you are so far from your dream?

Resilience. Perseverance. The reality that this may be your last chance. Maturity. Stubborness. All have played a part in Marinko’s climb. 2012, his 9th year on tour. Matosevic clawed his way above the pack rising from the minor ATP Challenger event in laid back Caloundra to a qualifying breakthrough into the main tour event in Delray Beach. Matosevic carried that qualifying form all the way through to his first final, and by year end had not only broken through the top 100 barrier to #49, but had picked up the prestigious “ATP Most Improved player for 2012” award. And one other baton was passed on – Marinko Matosevic ended the year as Australia’s top ranked male singles player. This baton, however, was more an indictment on the state of Australian tennis, than an endorsement of Matosevic’s rise.

After a horror start to 2013, which saw him almost tumble out of the top 100, Marinko Matosevic has sought the advice of former Aussie great Mark Woodforde. In the one month together he has reached 2 quarter finals, and had wins over Tommy Haas, Benjamin Becker, Benoit Paire and Milos Raonic. Every one of those players would have had Marinko for breakfast for the first 8 years of his career. Perhaps he has learnt new skills. Listening, belief, and more than likely, fear. Fear at how close the finish line is to a late blooming career, and fear in the inability to see yourself doing anything else once that fleeting career is over. For Marinko – the time is now.

The PRO.

Vika conquered. Stosur wins WTA Carlsbad

5 Aug

Azarenka Carlsbad

Victoria Azarenka. The face of determination.

Aussie Sam Stosur had reason to smile following her upset 6/2 6/3 victory over top seed Victoria Azarenka in the Southern California Open. It was Stosur’s first singles title since her “breakthrough” 2011 US Open victory. That match caused the tennis world to sit up and take notice of the little Aussie with the big guns, mule kicking serve and hostile forehand. Many predicted Stosur would win several Slam titles following her demolition of Serena Williams in that 2011 US Open final.

It has been 2 years of frustration, floating around the edges of the top 10, and blowing many chances, most notably at the French Open, but also at this year’s Wimbledon where Stosur was unable to capitalise on a draw that just kept opening up for her. Stosur’s inconsistency has always been apparent, and just last week she lost 1st round at Stanford. That result made her change plans and push for a wildcard into this week’s Carlsbad event. Perhaps the unplanned is something that works for her. For many years there has been much soul searching as Stosur, a self described “choker” battled mental demons and self doubt.

The pleasing aspect of this win over Azarenka is that despite Stosur taking a daunting 8 losses to 0 wins head to head into the match, she was able to get the job done by playing the big points well, so well, in fact, that the WTA web-site described her as having “nerves of steel”. Nothing could make Stosur, and coach David Taylor happier. While many reconcile the fact that the win over Serena was an aberration, those at Tennis Australia have never stopped believing (they have little choice as Stosur is the only light at one end of a very long tunnel). So it was not entirely unexpected that my phone beeped this morning and the Tennis Australia good news spin doctors were quick off the mark with a congrats Sam text. Now for New York.