US Open picks: day 13, the women’s final

Naomi OsakaFROM THE US OPEN – Noami Osaka is playing almost lights out. She has a big first serve — 120 mph — she runs fairly quickly, and she can rip her forehands and her backhands. She has been very focused over the past 12 days, and while she almost lost against Aryna Sabaenka, she had to bear down and she did, grabbing it 6-4 in third.

Then in the semis, Osaka played substantially better, hitting the corners, showing some variety and out-hitting Madison Keys.

We all know that Serena Williams getting better every match. Her  forehand is hefty, and her backhand is blunt. Plus, her serve is vicious.

Serena has won the Grand Slams 23 in titles and she is very close to tying Margaret Court, If Serena wins it on Saturday, then she might be the best player ever.

However, she hasn’t won it yet, so she has to wait.

Two months ago, at Wimbledon, Serena reached the final, and it looked like she had a legitimate chance for getting no. 24, but Angie Kerber beat her, as the German controlled her and she was faster and stronger.

However, Serena is practicing a lot, so she can move her feet, and sprint when she needs to.
But so does Osaka, who is pretty swift. The 20-year-old does like the 36-year-old, and she really wants to play her.

“It feels a little bit surreal,” Osaka said. “Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam. Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it.”

I am sure she is, but when she walks on the court, then she will lock in early, or she can become very nervous, as this is the first time that she has reached at a Grand Slam final. She knows that she needs to go toe-to-toe, as much as possible. I would think that she will, but she has to return against Serena. Serena can handle the Japanese’s servers while Osaka won’t be able to return enough of Serena’s bombs. It could be close, but Serena will win it again, in two big sets.  

Miami: First quarter has taken physical toll

Cirstea BOW 12 MALT0214

Sori soared over a hobbled Kerber.

Miami has had no discernable theme whatsoever other than that once again too many players are aching or hurt post the Aussie hard courts swing; the February Euro indoor/Middle East outdoor, Latin American clay or US indoor/outdoor outswing; and of course Indian Wells.

Miami will officially close the first quarter of the season, which is perhaps the physically most difficult portion of the year as player must roar out of the gates within two weeks and then head into Melbourne, and must conclude with two back-to-back Masters Series at Indian Wells in Miami.

The only other quarter that touches the first one in regards to physical effort is the third one, which begins on grass and ends at the US Open and also includes two Masters Series (Canada and Cincy).

The second quarter is a big test for clay courters because it ends at Roland Garros and contains two Masters Series (Rome and Madrid) and a mini Masters Series (Monte Carlo) but the surface remains the same and with grass it is the easiest one on the body.

The fall swing is less mentally taxing because it doesn’t not contain a Slam and is less physically taxing because most of the top players pick and choose where they are playing more carefully.

Indian Wells finalists Rafael Nadal (skipped Miami to rest his knee), Juan Martin Del Potro (his left wrist aches and he was upset by Tobias Kamke) and Caroline Wozniacki (took a troubling 6-2 6-4 loss to the rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza) are all out of Miami.

The resilient Maria Sharapova, who won Indian Wells, was still around as as she overcame Elena Vesnina in two very tough sets, but Angie Kerber, who reached the semis at IW, apparently is still having back trouble and was smoked by Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0. Thne Maria Kirilenko, who played so well in reaching the IW semis, went down to Klara Zakopalova 6-2 7-6(4). Petra Kvitova, who looked great in Dubai and sort of OK in the California desert, melted once again in the heat and lost to the surging Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 4-6 6-1.

Having to win physical matches in the heat also ended up affecting the little but lethal Lauren Davis, who wore down her friend Madison Keys in a marathon and then lost to Alize Cornet in three, leaving the United States with only two out of its strong phalanx of female players left: Sloane Stephens, who advanced when Venus Williams withdrew with a back injury, and Serena Williams who punched past Ayumi Morita. Serena will face the hard hitting but up- and-down Dominika Cibulkova, while Stephens, who has not been playing well since the Aussie Open, will face a stern test in the form of Agnieszka Radwanska, who overcame Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6(5) 2-6 6-3. The Pole and defending champ hasn’t been playing great either, so this is good chance for Stephens to get back on track if she plays with enough patience and savvy, sort of like Maria Kirilenko did in besting Radwanska at Indian Wells.

Aussie Open finalist Li Na has returned and is certainly a big threat on outdoor hard courts. She downed Varvara Lepchenko 6-2 6-4 and will face the 19-year-old Muguruza, who is tall and hits a pretty big ball. Flipkens will play another talented teen, Croat Ajla Tomljanovic who upended Andrea Petkovic 0-6 6-4 7-6(1). It is not going to be easy for Petko to climb back to the top 20. With each passing comeback, on court life gets little tougher.

The ATP has three blockbusters ahead with Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov reliving their final in Brisbane, which was won by the Scott. Murray smoked an ill Bernard Tomic, who must now go ply his trade on clay, which will be a huge test of his so-called improved fitness. Dimitrov has played a bit better since February but he is still missing a marquee win. The 21 year old has a lot of weapons, but his point-to-point consistency is not one of them. His girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, might be able to help with that.

John Isner picked up a big mental win in besting Ivan Dodig in a third set breaker and now would take an even bigger step if he could overcome a more talented Croat, Marin Cilic. So much of that outcome of that match will be determined by the return of serve, which Cilic is a little better at. But playing at home in the southern heat, which Isner likes, should give the American the advantage.

Sam Querrey and Milos Raonic will also face off and both guys would love to grab a win here as they are in a fairly open quarter where the winner would likely play Tomas Berdych, a very good player who is better than both of them at this point, but not a guy whom they have no chance of beating. Querrey won his last meeting against Raonic at Wimbledon. Service bombs away.

Belgian David Goffin appears to be getting out of the mental funk that he fell into after choking a Davis Cup match to Victor Troicki. The highflying Goffin upended Philip Kohlschreiber 7-6(5) 4-6 6-2?and now will have to try and grind one out against Nicolas Almagro under the intense Miami sunshine. Good luck with that.


Mapping out Miami

Pavlyuchenkova, safarova 13

Pavlyuchenkova,, right, could use some of Lucie Safarova’s consistency


After she fell early at Indian Wells, Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stayed around for the rest of the tournament and was seen practicing daily. Despite her commitment to improving, she still fell in the first round of Miami to Garbine Muguruza Blanco 4-6 6-2 6-2. Sometimes, hard work does not pay off, not if a player isn

The Report Card: Reviewing the week of February 10

Sharapova IW 11 MALT6404

Maria can’t deal with Serena any more.


VICTORIA AZARENKA: She stopped a nine-match losing streak against the woman who owned her, Serena Williams, in the Doha final. Enough said.


RAFAEL NADAL: While the great Spaniard hasn’t even come close to his top level on clay, has looked rusty, unsure of himself and lacking power, he still found a way to win the Brazil Open. All guts and hopefully for his fan base, further glory is in his future.

MILOS RAONIC: The young Canadian went undefeated in San Jose in three appearances there. He

Aussie Open Day 7 Picks: Are there any upsets on horizon?


nishikori 2012

Kei looks for a major breakthrough vs. Ferrer


Exactly where are the potential upsets on Sunday? I suppose that the capable but less than spectacular Ekaterina Makarova could take out fellow lefty Angelique Kerber in the opening match. but that’s improbable given that Kerber just got over a major mental hurdle in teen Madison Keys and is due to give a counterpunching clinic. She will here and win in straight sets, but one set will be quite close.

Will Kei Nishikori ever really break out, and by really break out I mean best a solid and strong player such as David Ferrer and then reach a Slam semi? Perhaps, but not this time around. I don’t think Ferrer has been at the top of his game yet, but he hasn’t had to be, which is actually a god sign because it means that he has a lot left in the tnak. I get the sense that Nishikori will zone for two sets, but that will be all before the Spaniard makes his knees hurt. Take Ferrer in five.

Kirsten Flipkens has really found herself and is lot of fun to watch with her heavy slice and net charges, but she better keep the ball super low and deep against Maria Sharapova or she

Online Betting From Your Home, Including Tennis


Betting in an online casino has become much more common with the boom in online betting. Whether you want to play games in Australia to an online casino UK, then you will find a range of websites to play your favourite games on such as roulette, poker and slot machines. Due to the convenience, the fact that you don’t have to dress up or step out of your house, and the fact that not everyone has a land based casino nearby, more and more people are turning to the internet to place their bets.

You also have a choice between playing online straight from the browser, or downloading betting software to enjoy at your own leisure. Sports are very popular when it comes to betting and events such as in the world of tennis occur all year round.

Some of the bigger championship events such as Wimbledon are good events to bet on because they are the largest in that sporting world. When placing a bet on an upcoming tennis match, a good tip is to do your research.

Knowing who the favourites are, whether they have had any injuries recently and other small details such as if they perform better on certain surfaces than others, are all good things to know before you place a bet. It allows you to make a more informed decision and obviously gives you a better chance of winning!

Also remember, every top tennis player was new once, and you can expect new ones to come through all the time to throw a spanner in the works just when you thought the favourite who has won five years in a row was going to clinch it for the sixth time! In tennis there are a few different types of bets you can place, but the most common ones are the straight up bet, where you bet on the outcome of the match, and also the over/under, which is a bet on how many sets you think the match will last.

Text provided by outside writers and does not reflect the opinions of

Heads or Tails: Who will have a better 2013?

wozniacki asian swing 12

Is Caro her generation’s leader?

Going into every new season, hundreds of questions exist in trying to determine who will be able to reach their peak and who will falter. Predictions are always difficult to make as the injury factor consistently plays a huge role in tennis. However, just for the fun of it I thought I would pose a few different opposing scenarios and select which ones I think are more probable in 2013. I will begin with the WTA.

‘Gen Caro’

Who will have better season collectively of the current top 10, these “Gen Caro” members (Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Aga Radwanska, Angelique Kerber & Petra Kvitova) or the old guard (Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Li Na, Sara Errani and Sam Stosur)?

At some point in the future the old guard is going to fall off and Gen Caro is going to completely take over the WTA, but it

TR Year-End Top 50: The Women, Nos. 1-5

Vika claim the year-end No. 1 slot. MAL TAAM

Vika claim the year-end No. 1 slot. MAL TAAM/MALT PHOTO

This concludes our review of the top 50 singles players in 2012 on the ATP and WTA Tours. We end with the women ranked Nos. 1 -5.

1.Victoria Azarenka

Without question, 2012 was the Belarussian

TR Year-end Top 50s: The women, Nos. 6-10

Li has all the weaponry but is still prone to walkabouts.

Thus continues our review of the top 50 singles players on the ATP and WTA Tours. We resume with the women ranked Nos. 6 -10.

6. Sara Errani

There is strong argument to be made that Errani improved more than anyone in 2012, and while I feel that two of the lower and medium rung players improved more (Robson and Lepchenko), Errani gets my vote in the elite category, even over Angie Kerber, who also had a terrific season. What Errani did was transform herself from a run of the mill clay court player to one who could play most matches on her terms, and from a forgettable hard court player to one who could counterpunch with more zip and effectiveness.

Not only did she reach the Roland Garros final and the US Open semis in singles, but also ended the year as member of the top- ranked doubles teams with fellow Italian Roberta Vinci. She can scamper, has a fine return and under rated volley. I don’t expect her to better her year ranking in 2013, but I could see finishing in the top 10 again because she is super committed to her tennis.

7. Li Na

Even though Li has frequently said that she can

TR Year-End Top 50s: The Women, Nos. 21-30

Varvara scored a career win over Schiavone in Paris.

Thus continues our review of the top 50 singles players on the ATP and WTA Tours. We resume with the women ranked Nos. 21 -30.

21. Varvara Lepchenko

If there was a player who improved more than Lepchenko did this season against quality competition, I