Australian Open picks for Friday, January 23

Rod Laver Arena

Lucie Hradecka v Julia Goerges
Theee two must be thrilled they are on Rod Laver as they thought that they would be put far outside. But, they are on center court. The Czech will attempt to strike aces one after another while the German will try to whip her big forehand. A few years ago, Goerges looked like she was ready to reach the top 10. She did not, fell and she has been more suited of doubles. But she looks more composed and she will run around Hradecka and will triumph in three sets.

7-Eugenie Bouchard v Caroline Garcia 
The Canadian is already looking good again. She looked lost in the fall (too much hype and publicity) but now she looks fit and is moving forward and showing off an aggressive posture. She can smoke both wings, has a pretty good first serve and jumps on the returns. However, the young Frenchwoman Garcia can mix it up, is fairly fast and believes that she can get into Genie’s head. She might be for a while. But Bouchard is ready dance and will do so in straight sets,

2-Roger Federer v Andreas Seppi
Federer has to face two Italians in a row? Yes he was upset after dropping his first set against Bolelli, but he turned it around, charged inside the baseline and twisted the match to his favor. Now he can be more patient against Seppi, who is very steady but who isn’t a huge hitter. Seppi will try to trouble Federer’s backhand, but the Swiss has way too many weapons and will win it in straight sets.


Berdych faces a test against Troicki.
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

2-Maria Sharapova v Zarina Diyas
Sharapova nearly fell to Panova; a very talented Russian who played one of her best matches ever. Still Maria survived and while she was up and down, she still went at the lines. Fortunately she did it at the right time and now she will be more patient. Diyas is very consistent and can run from side to side. But, she hasn’t proven that she can smack the lines. Sharapova will win in two sets.

3-Rafa Nadal v Dudi Sela
The Spaniard almost went down when Tim Smyczek, who had him on the ropes. As usual, Nadal never gave in and pulled off an incredible five-setter. This time though, Sela is a different player. The Israel is intelligent and can mix it up, but Nadal should feel better physically and overwhelm him with some massive forehands. The lefty will win in straight sets.

Margaret Court Arena

10-Etkaerina Makarova v 22-Karolina Pliskova
This is an intriguing contest. The Czech Pliskova has improved vastly over the past year while the Russian Makarova has finally come of age. Makarova reached the 2014 US Open semifinal, while Pliskova just reached the Sydney final, nearly upsetting Petra Kvitova. Makarova can move from side to side, while Pliskova can hit it anyway she wants to. The Czech can sense that she is almost there and can go deep here. She will win in three sets.

7-Tomas Berdych v Victor Troicki
The tall Czech hasn’t been specular in 2014 and the start of 2015, but is he really ready to make a move of the Aussie Open? I doubt it, but Berdych could slip into the quarters. He usually does that, right? The Serbian Troicki played very well to win Sydney, but we will have to play much better to beat a top-10 guy. He is fast enough to bring it in five sets, but Berdych will grab a break and hold on to win it.

3-Simona Halep v Bethanie Mattek-Sands
The Romanian has improved quite a bit over the past year. She believes that she can win a Slam, and perhaps she has a true shot, but Mattek-Sands has beaten her before and she can take over the net. The American likes to get the ball on the rise and she loves to attack. She can pull it off, but Mattek-Sands was hurt a lot of last year and needs a few months before she hits 100 percent. Halep will live in three sets.

Hisense Arena

6-Andy Murray v Joao Sousa
The Brit has had a very easy draw and will yank Sousa in less than two hours and win in three sets.

Bernard Tomic v Sam Groth
Both of the Aussies have played well over the past weekend and a half. They know each other very well, and both can smoke first serves. But they are different in other areas. Tomic can change it around, while Groth is more straight forward, going to net any chance he has. Groth would be thrilled to reach a fourth round at a Slam, but Tomic knows what he is going to, pulling him around side to side and back and forth until he caves in. Tomic in four.

2013 TR Annual Readers Poll: final results

Thanks to our very loyal and active readers and for the thousands of votes we received. We love the responses.

Don’t forget to vote in our (Nearly) Daily Poll, that shows up on our home page and all posts.

Sexiest Male Player


Grigor Dimitrov 61%
Rafael Nadal 17%
Ernests Gulbis 10%
Novak Djokovic 2%
Feliciano Lopez 2%
Tommy Haas 3%
Benoit Paire 1%
Fernando Verdasco 1%
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 1%
Pablo Andujar .2%

Sexiest Female Player


Maria Sharapova 40%
Caroline Wozniacki 23%
Victoria Azarenka 21%
Maria Kirlenko 6%
Julia Goerges 3%
Daniela Hantuchova 3%
Alize Lim 2%
Elena Vesnina 1%
Sloane Stephens 1%
Bojana Jovanovski 1%
Zheng Jie .2%

Tweeter of the Year


Laura Robson 25%
Roger Federer 24%
Serena Williams 19%
Tomas Berdych 13%
Stan Wawrinka 5%
Maria Sharapova 4%
Andy Murray 3%
Ivo Karlovic 3%
Caroline Wozniacki 2%
Sofia Arvidsson 1%

Coach of the Year/ATP


Toni Nadal/
Rafael Nadal
Magnus Norman/
Stan Wawrinka
Ivan Lendl/
Andy Murray
Marian Vajda/
Novak Djokovic

Coach of the Year/WTA


Patrick Mouratoglou/
Serena Williams
Carlos Rodriguez/
Li Na
Sam Sumyk/
Victoria Azarenka
Marko Jankovic/
Jelena Jankovic

Coolest Male Player


Roger Federer 64%
Novak Djokovic 15%
Tomas Berdych 14%
Dimitry Tursunov 7%

Coolest Female Player


Andrea Petkovic 48%
Laura Robson 35%
Marion Bartoli 11%
Bethanie Mattek-Sands 5%

Petkovic takes “Coolest Women Player” category

Germany’s Andrea Petkovic is dancing now as she has won the 2013 Readers Poll for Coolest Woman Player. She had a 13% lead over Laura Robson.

Coolest Woman Player


Andrea Petkovic 48%
Laura Robson 35%
Marion Bartoli 11%
Bethanie Mattek-Sands 5%

There are plenty of great personalities on the WTA. In fact, outside of the generally outstanding level of play, it’s that element that has made it the world’s most popular women’s sport. A good 50 players could have been nominated for the “Coolest Women’s Player” category in the 2013 readers poll, but four caught our eye: the honest and eclectic Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli; the carefree and outspoken Bethanie Mattek-Sands; the introspective yet bold Andrea Petkovic; and the precocious and daring Laura Robson. Make your voice heard by voting on the right.

Perseverance pays off: Mattek-Sands belts Lisicki to reach Stuttgart semis


Mattek Sands IW 12 TR MALT3809


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Sharapova beats Ivanovic in classic; Nadal to face Raonic in Barcelona

For a large portion of 2012, Bethanie Mattek- Sands had become the forgotten woman of US tennis. Struggling with injuries and food allergies she saw her ranking drop out of the top 200. But she never gave up hope, found out which food groups were bothering her, changed her diet, let her body heal and now after knocking out Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-2 in the semis of Stuttgart, her first Premier level semifinal in more than two years, she back in the mix again.

She was a match point down to Maryna Zanevska in the qualifying and got through. She then belted Yanina Wickmayer, stunned Sara Errani on her beloved red clay and then overwhelmed Lisicki.

She is moving very well, attacking intelligently, mixing it up, leaping on returns and owning the net. All the good work she has done in doubles this year (with Sania Mirza) and during others has paid off. The 200 points she has already earned should get her back in the top 80 by next week. She has already made the main draw of Roland Garros, which will save her from having to qualify for another Slam, but more importantly the 28-year-old now can see all the results of all of her hard work, and all the massive amount of time that she and her husband Justin have spent on the road trying to get back to respectability in singles.

In the past year, outside of Serena, the talk in the US has been about the late rise of Varvara Lepchenko and the progress of the kids: Stephens, McHale, Keys, Davis etc.

Now the mid-to-late career Mattek is worth talking about just as much and given what a terrific personality she is, that development is very good news for the game. Mattek will face Li Na, who edged Petra Kvitova in two tough sets.

Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic have contested some very good matches over the years but their quarterfinal in Stuttgart was a cracker. Sharapova took the very hard fought and well played match 7-5 4-6 6-4 but Ivanovic did have her chances and with her two quality wins in Fed Cup and two more in Stuttgart she might be considered a top 5 favorite for Roland Garros if she keeps playing this well. Her serve seems to be under control, she is moving very well, cracking her forehand as always and has much more confidence at net. With that said, –and she knows this as she apparently smashed her racket in the locker room after the match — she needs to get wins over the super elite if she is to be a major factor at the Slams again.

For her part, Sharapova won her second straight very long match, the first one coming over Lucie Safarova. The defending champ was up and down, but returned extremely well when she had to, hit some big serves and even showed off some variety, hitting a couple of fine drop volleys, which you almost never see from her. Despite her poor record against Serena Williams the reigning Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros champ is the player to beat on red clay until other players show that they can beat her. Sharapova will face Germany

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I can