Hit List, April 30, 2012: Sharapova & Rafa rock

Maria is trying to master point construction

SHARAPOVA FINALLY STOPS AZARENKA

In her two previous losses to Victoria Azarenka this season in the Aussie Open and Indian Wells finals, Maria Sharapova had won all of eight games against No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, so coming into the final game of Stuttgart, she was a decided underdog even though all week she had showed a lot of confidence on indoor red clay, had been returning well enough to be threatening on her foes

HIT LIST, April 26: Stuttgart & Barcelona

Petkovic can't stay healthy.

Germans up: Exactly what is happening with former No. 1 Caro Wozniacki, who was destroyed 6-1 6-2 by a zoning Angelique Kerber and looked like she had no idea what to on the court. Once again, the claims from her camp that she is improving ring hollow. But the lefty Kerber, who will face another lefthander, Petra Kvitova, can really play and seems to have weapons from everywhere.

Germans down: After just talking about how her knee and back have healed, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic suffers what appeared to be a severe ankle injury and is forced to retire against Victoria Azarenka while trailing 6-2 4-4. Given that she just came back last Sunday, if the injury keeps her out for a few weeks, she can forget about her Roland Garros chances. Bad luck for a woman who appears to keep in great shape.

Peko

The Wrap: Week of April 15-22, Nadal finally gets over on Djokovic again

Nadal stopped a 7-match losing streak to Djokovic

 

I cannot say that I did not see Rafael Nadal

BREAKDOWN: Djokovic vs. Nadal, Monte Carlo final

Rafa is still the defending RG champ but Novak won their last 2 clay court meetings

HEAD TO HEAD: 16-14 Nadal, but Djokovic has won their last seven meetings, all in finals: 3 on U.S. hard courts at 2011 Indian Wells, Miami and the U.S. Open; two on clay at 2011 Madrid and Rome; one on grass at 2011 Wimbledon; and one in the 2012 Aussie Open final, a record nearly six hour victory for the Serbian. Prior to 2011 Madrid, Nadal had taken the Serbian down in all nine clay court matches they had contested.

2012 MONTE CARLO FORM: Both have been up and down as the weather has been sporadic. In fact, in his semifinal win over Tomas Berdych, Djokovic said it was the worst conditions he ever played in as the wind was very unpredictable. However, the Serbian has been very resilient, despite having to play his three matches with the knowledge that his grandfather just passed. Regardless of how badly he is stroking the ball, Nadal always finds a ways to win in Monte. He played no more than average in his win over Gilles Simon, but did look very determined.

WHAT NOVAK HAS TO DO: Essentially what he has been doing in their last seven matches : batter Nadal

Fed Cup, Monte Carlos semis preview

Ivanovic and Jankovic will try and lead Serbia to its first final.

WORLD GROUP SEMIS

RUSSIA v SERBIA

Even though Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has a 3-0 record against Jelena Jankovic, I

The Kafelnikov snub

The Wrap, April 15: The King is Monaco

 

Monaco stopped Isner's streak.

Juan Monaco is certainly one of the most accomplished clay courters to touch down in Houston in the past two decades, so it was not surprising that he ended John Isner

The Nearly Full Monte

Caro is the queen of Copenhagen

In previous years, the post Davis Cup, pre Fed Cup/Monte Carlo week in mid April had been downright irrelevant but not this season, as Houston, Copenhagen and Barcelona all have had good fields with decent story lines.

Lets begin with the women as Caroline Wozniacki has played pretty solid much of the week at home, which is no easy task considering the enormous amount of attention she (and her in attendance boyfriend Rory McIlroy) receive. You want to know who much: there was a betting line established as to whether Rory would propose to her this week, when they have not even been dating or a year.

Wozniacki overcame Petra Martic 6-3 6-2? in the semis and will face the rising Angelique Kerber, who trounced Jelena Jankovic 62 61. Wozniacki is 2-0 versus the German, but the lefthander is much better player than she was at the time last year and can hurt her.

The Capriati Complex: Jennifer Light, Jennifer Dark

The headstrong Capriati never backed off a confrontation

Editor’s note: On the eve of Jennifer’s Capriati’s election into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, here is feature written on the three -time Grand Slam champion in the spring of 2002, right after Capriaiti’s infamous Fed Cup clash with Billie Jean King.

By Matthew Cronin

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – While USTA officials sang praises of Carolina blue sky and America’s Fed Cup team in their spanking new USA warm-ups happily flashed smiles to the crowd, Jennifer of a Thousand Faces clapped lightly, nervously pulled at her out-of-sorts brown mane and made a sour puss that rivaled that of Persian feline who had just gulped a cup of milk gone bad.

This was not the Jennifer who lit up Melbourne three months before with her exhilarating comeback over Martina Hingis, nor the Capriati that kept the sun shining past midnight in Paris last year after she outfought Kim Clijsters for her French Open title. This was the rebellious Jennifer, the brimming with demons hellcat who was about to try to buck her legendary captain’s authority for the last time and end up being booted off the team.

“I think Jennifer’s feeling a lot of pressure with the French coming up and having to defend her title,” U.S. Fed Cup captain Billie Jean King told me two days after she booted Capriati, resulting in a stunning 3-0 loss to Austria and creating the biggest brouhaha in U.S. Fed Cup history. ” It starts to add up. It’s like boiling water

The Fernandez Fed Cup captaincy