Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Andy Murray set to marry Kim Sears after Wimbledon (Not Yet)

Andy Murray, reigning Wimbledon champion, revealed on a recent twitter Q&A session that he will be marrying his long time girl friend Kim Sears after Wimbledon.

Murray tweeted that he was bored and started a Q&A session on twitter, when he responded to a tweet about his marriage.

The British media reported it immediately and by the end of the session, Murray had to tell everyone that it was a joke and he is not yet planning a marriage.

So here you go!!!!!

Sharapova impressive in Open GDF Suez 2014 opener

Maria Sharapova made an impressive start to her Open GDF Suez campaign. Sharapova had a bye in the first round as the top seed of the tournament and played Daniela Hantuchova in the second round today.

Hantuchova had won her first round against Marina Erakovic, who had to retire trailing 3-6 0-3.

Sharapova came out firing, while Hantuchova came out mis-firing. It was interesting to see that Hantuchova won just 3 points on her first serve and none of the points played on her second serve. Sharapova who has had problems with her serve, fired 6 aces and saved all 3 break points she faced as she handed Hantuchova a bagel in the first set.

Sharapova kept the momentum going on serve in the second set as she fired 4 aces, totalling 10 for the match and saved 4 break points. Sharapova broke Hantuchova to win the match. It is interesting to note that Hantuchova failed to win a single point on her second serve in the entire match.

Sharapova will face the winner of Yvonne Meusburger vs Kirsten Flipkens.

Australian Open 2014 - Worth your time

The Australian Open 2014 is finally over. O Yes, It has been more than two days since the last match was played, or should I say, as it did not play out?

I have not been very consistent with posting on my blog. When posts start coming, they start coming, and when they stop, I just get too lazy and stop posting at all.

Back to the topic, Australian Open saw two first time finalists and two first time Australian Open champions ( in the case of Stanislas Wawrinka, the first time Grand Slam Champion). The tournament was full of surprises, upsets, dramas, controversies, quality play, retirements and what not. You will find everything you can ask for.

What were some of the best reads around the web. Here you go:

Stanislas Wawrinka's defeated Rafael Nadal to win not only his first major title. In doing so, Wawrinka got his very first win over Rafael Nadal in the most important match of his tennis life.

Li Na is one of the few players who know how to make life difficult for her opponents and at times for herself as well. How Li won the Australian Open final to earn her first Australian Open title in her third final appearance.

Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt win the Australian Open doubles title.

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defended their Australian Open title rallying from a 2-5 third set deficit to beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

BBC Sports looks at how Stanislas Wawrinka improved and never gave up to win his maiden slam.

Dhirti Pande feature article on Breakthrough player of Australian Open 2014, Eugenie Bouchard.

Benn Pronin has a case for Stanislas Wawrinka rising to the world no.1 in 2014.

Venus Williams lost in the first round of Australian Open at the hands of Ekaterina Makarova. (Makarova defeated Serena Williams in the 4th round of Australian Open 2012)

GIF says it all. Re-live Li Na's and Stanislas Wawinka's wins in the Australian Open finals.

Five things we learned at the Australian Open 2014

Top 10 occurrences at the Australian Open this year, what are your thoughts on the list?

Stanislas Wawrinka tops the list of ATP race to London.

Roger Federer makes it to the Australian Open for the 11th straight time, but history repeats itself as Federer fails to climb the Rafa wall. Nadal not only sent the Swiss Mastero home, he also prevented a first time all Swiss Grand Slam final.

Agnieszka Radwanska left everyone asking for more in a brave, artistic dismantling of the two time defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals. It was a short-lived joy for Radwanska, as she was sent packing home the very next day by Diminutive Cibulkova.

These were some of the good reads I went through during the Australian Open. Got any interesting read to share?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Li Na beats Safarova, Makarova awaits - Australian Open

Li Na and Lucie Safarova played to earn a spot in the fourth round of Australian Open. Li Na, Chinese No.1 and former Roland Garros champion, had not lost to Lucie Safarova since 2005, however, things looked trimmed early on. Safarova raced through the first set in just 27 minutes and did not face a break point winning the set 6-1. She was aided by 18 unforced errors from Li Na.

Li Na is an absolute treat to watch when she is on, however, it is as painful as it gets, to watch Li Na when she is off, and it was one of those off days.

Safarova seemed headed for a straight sets victory, and given Li's history of weak mental fortitude, it was just a matter of time. However, since joining forces with Carlos Rodriguez, there has been an immense improvement in terms of the mental strength.

Safarova, like Li Na, plays a high risk game and the second set was evident of that fact as she shanked 22 unforced errors to go down in a tight second set. Safarova served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but as we know Li brings out her best with her back to the wall, she broke to bring the set back to serve. Safarova was not done yet, she earned her first and only match point with Li serving to force a tie-break. Safarova hit a backhand which went long, and it at that moment that Safarova had lost the match. Li ended up winning  the second set 7-6(2).

As the third set approached, Li had calmed down and cleaned her game as she hit just 6 unforced errors against 14 by Safarova and converted 2 of the 3 break point chances she created, winning the set 6-3. The final score being 1-6 7-6(2) 6-3 in Li's favour.

Australian Open is Li Na's favourite grand slam and she has made the semi-finals or better here in 3 of the last 4 years, and if she is to repeat the feat, she will definitely have to improve her performance. One thing that stood out today was champion's mentality in Li's win, she showed that she too can win when not playing her best, and that is what it is all about, winning and moving on.

Awaiting Li, for a spot in the quarter-finals will be Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova has made the quarter-finals here the last two years and has wins over Serena Williams and Venus Williams in the Australian Open.

Makraova defeated Niculescu 6-4 6-4 to move into the 4th round of Australian Open for the third straight year. Niculescu converted all 4 of the break points she created, however, Makarova went two steps ahead converting on 6 of the 9 opportunities. It was not a pretty match either, with Makarova overcoming 35 unforced errors to book a date with Li Na. Niculescu was also undone by the 34 errors she made against only 9 winners.

It will be interesting to see Makraova fighting against Li Na for a quarter-final spot. Li has won all 4 of the pair's encounters, however 3 of those 4 have gone to 3 sets. The last time they played was in the quarter-finals of U.S Open where Li won in 3 sets.

Li should be favoured to win the match, but Makarova has a history of upsets. Who do you think will win the contest?

Serena Williams eases past Hantuchova - Australian Open

Serena Williams means only business and she showed that in her match today against Daniela Hantuchova. Serena Williams was 8-1 against Hantuchova when she walked onto the Rod Laver Arena today. However, Serena's lone loss came in the very same tournament back in 2006.

Hantuchova had said in a press conference yesterday that her grand slam career has been kind of destroyed by the Williams sisters. Serena once again defeated the Slovakian player, ensuring she does not advance beyond the third round.

The first set was a competitive set of tennis, the major difference being the break point conversion rate. Serena created and converted only one break point. Hantuchova created 5 break point chances but failed to convert a single one. Serena won the first set 6-3

Hantuchova finally converted a break point in the second set to break Williams serve, but that was the only thing Hantuchova could take from Serena. Serena converted 3 of the 6 break points she created in the second set to seal victory in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Serena Williams now awaits the winner of Ana Ivanovic vs Samantha Stosur. The two play at night in the Rod Laver Arena.

Quotable Quotes - Australian Open Day Four

Australian Open finally saw the implementation of the heat rule on the fourth day. There were some epic encounters. Sharapova toughed it out against Knapp, Navarro outlasted Voskoboeva, Delpotro was stunned by Spanish Roberto Bautista Agut. Federer and Nadal had routine wins.

Sharapova and Knapp raised concerns regarding heat rule, but it was Roger Federer who won the quote of the day award. 

Let us see what the players had to say

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

“I like the checkins at airports.  Packing the bags is good fun.  What else?  Playing in 42 degrees heat (laughter).” – when asked what is the best part of being Roger Federer

“Wouldn't win because these guys are already winning, so...” in response to the question ‘Andy Murray was asked a fun question the other day.  If there was an imaginary tournament of the player with the legendary coach, he thought that he and Lendl would win.  Hewitt said that he and Patrick would win.  How do you think you and Stefan would step up?’
“Thank you for the compliment.  Finally I get one (smiling).  It's been a while.” – when told that he moved well.
Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro

“I think sometimes the favorites lose very early in a Grand Slam, like Federer in Wimbledon or Rafa, and then other ones in the US Open.  Here is my chance to get out very early in the tournament.” – when aksed he was one of the favourites to make out his section of draw

Andy Murray

“So I think obviously after the tournament's finished, I'm sure there will be some discussions between the ATP, and the ITF to maybe shore up the rules a little bit and make it a little bit, you know, easier for everybody to understand.” – when asked if the tournament officials have been fair with the heat policy

Milos Raonic

“But I do like to watch him play.” – when asked does he watch Dimitrov much

Sloane Stephens

“Nashville, The Good Wife.  Scandal.  I watch Scandal every week.  My little shows I watch on my computer.  That's pretty much it.  I don't like to do much.  Pretty low key.” – when asked what shows she watches

"Yeah.  Like, yeah, it was intense.  Like that's the worst thing, to be outside when it's lightning or to be in the middle of the ocean like by yourself." – when asked if she could see the lighting from the court.

Victoria Azarenka

“A little bit.  Just a little bit.  I saw a little bit match of Tsonga and that's it.  And Rafa a little bit.” – when asked did she watch any other match.

“Actually my grandmother named me that.  I had have to thank her because my parents wanted to call my Daria, and I don't think that suits me at all.” – when asked about the story of her name.

Vasek Posposil

“Yeah, no, I mean, it seems I don't want to play him.  Retired against him twice now.  Really unfortunate injury for me.” When asked if he was aftraid to play Stanislas Wawrinka

Rafael Nadal

"I never felt the crowd against me.  I felt most of the times the crowd behind me, and that's something I just can say thank you very much to the Australian fans." – when asked does he feel pressure playing a local player at their home slam.

Caroline Wozniacki
"I think you always believe you can win, but you still have quite a few matches to go.  So I'm just thinking one match at a time." – when asked if she felt like she was playing like she can win the title.
Karin Knapp
"I think you always believe you can win, but you still have quite a few matches to go.  So I'm just thinking one match at a time." – when asked about heat rules
Maria Sharapova
"I asked the trainer the other day, What does it take for the roof to be closed or matches to be stopped?  She said, We have no control over this." – when asked about the heat rules.

Juan Martin Del Potro stunned in the Australian Open second round

Juan Martin Del Potro
Roberto Bautista Agut, the young Spanish player posted his first top 5 win as he dismantled Juan Martin Delpotro to book a spot in the third round winning 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5.

The most telling stat of the match was the break point conversion. Del Potro converted just 4 of the 17 break point chances he got, while Agut utilised 5 of the 8 chances he created.

Del Potro won the first set 6-4 and did not face a break point. In the second set, Agut converted the only break point he created while Del Potro failed to convert any of the 5 break points he created, and Agut ended up winning the set 6-3.

As the match went on, Agut kept up his aggressive tactics, lost a tight third set, however, from then on he matched Del Potro in every aspect and forced him to play from far behind the baseline and it paid the dividends as he went on to win the fourth and the fifth sets to earn the biggest win of his career and move into the third round of Grand Slam for the first time.

Any thoughts on the upset?