Canadian Leylah Fernandez wins first title in Acapulco

Lylah Fernandez

During the Grand Slams, everybody wants to play. If they can, they try to knock off the best. But, if they can lose early, at least they have faced the challenge of the top-ranked players.

The good news is that there are other tournaments where, if you can rise up, and win it, then many fans will know who they are.

Over the weekend, Leylah Fernandez won the tournament in Acapulco, beating Viktorija Golubic in the final. Clearly, she is quick, steady and bangs with a lot of depth. She also likes to attack at the net. The teenager had gone to Mexico to live with her family, but she was born in Montreal, so she had a lot of training. She is now ranked No. 72. She still has a long way to go, but she was improved over the past month.

“It’s always been part of my game, trying to go to the net,” Fernandez said. “I was just going out there, having fun on the court, and I wasn’t thinking too much about the consequences. I just went there and tried to execute what I’ve been training.”

Russian Daria Kasatkina won the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy She is 23 years old, and she is now ranked No. 42. Three-and-a-half years ago in 2018, she was No. 10. But then she fell. It wasn’t because of an injury, it was in her head, essentially, with her life. But now, she is more patient, and and mature.

Not only when she just win in Russia, but in January, she won the Phillip Island Trophy. In 2019, at Indian Wells, she upset Sloane Stevens, Caro Wozniaki, Angie Kerber, and Venus Williams — all Grand Slam winners. Kasatkina did lose in the final, going down again Naomi Osaka. If she refocuses, then she will be totally back.

The former No. 2 Vera Zvonareva is currently ranked No. 122. She has to get into the top 100 and then she will be in much better shape to get into main draws.

Another Russian veteran, Svetlana Kuznetsova, is now ranked No. 35, Years ago, she won two majors, the 2004 US Open and the 2009 Roland Garros. She has a lot of spin, and she will stay out there for a million of years. She wants to have one more chance to knock off all of them, to win singles title. The last time she won it was in 2018 Washington. That is almost four years ago. She has to believe that she can conquer a field one more time.

Australian Open picks for Thursday, January 21

Rod Laver Arena / Day

6- Agnieszka Radwanska v Johanna Larsson
The Polish ‘Aga’ went up to world No. 2, and make it all the way to the final Wimbledon, but she has yet to win a Slam. She came close last year, playing terrific back until she reaches the semifinal Aussie Open, but then she was too tired and was wiped out by Domi Cibulkova. She was upset and mad. Now she is being coached by Martina Navratilova, who knows her game inside and out, but they just started together so she will likely take some time. Nonetheless, she is too smart for Larsson and will win it in straight sets.

Vera punched out Ana |

Vera is back and in form.

1-Serena Williams v Vera Zvonareva
Remember Zvonareva who once pushed up to No. 2, reaching two Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open against Serena in 2010? Serena destroyed the Russian in both sets.  Zvonareva has been seriously hurt and she has been pretty darn good in the Aussie, reaching the semis in 2009 and 2011. Hopefully she will eventually come back at 100 percent, but not yet. Williams will easily push past year in two sets.

1-Novak Djokovic v Andrey Kuznetsova 
The Serbian has been sick over the past two weeks but he played reasonably well in the first round and is feeling much better. Kuznetsova has improved over the past year or so, but he isnt strong enough or smart enough to battle the big boy. Djokovic in three sets.

Rod Laver Arena / Night

Lleyton Hewitt v Benjamin Becker
Hewitt was inconsistent at best on Tuesday night but, once he got over, he struck with the ball for more purpose. Hewitt is super at anticipating where his opponent is going, but he does not hit as strong as the younger players overall. However, he and Becker are around the same age and he knows that he can fool his foe with the help of a raucous pro-Aussie crowd. Hewitt will win in four sets.

20-Sam Stosur v CoCo Vandeweghe
The Aussie Stosur was very pleased to take her first match – actually any win at the Aussie Open – but this is different. Now she will be on the tournament’s biggest stage in front of a packed house. American Vandeweghe is finally coming her own. Vandeweghe has a gigantic serve – just like Stosur does – and can smoke the forehands that bounce up high. If Stosur plays as well as she can, she will take it in front of fans screaming for her. But she consistently becomes nervous in her homeland’s Slam and will again. Take Vandeweghe in three.

Margaret Court Arena

18-Venus Williams v Lauren Davis
Williams has gone on and on. She began the AO back in 1998, reaching the quarters as a baby. Now she is 35 years old and still playing well, looking like she still has a threat. Maybe that is possible, but you never know depending on whom she has to play. We know is that she is very smart, which will help her against younger foes. Davis runs forever and never gives up. But Williams has the tools. Venus will win in two long sets.

8-Caroline Wozniacki v Victoria Azarenka
Without a question, Wozniacki has played much better since last August. She is more aggressive, her forehand in stronger, her first serve can kiss the lines and will move forward to attack her returns. But, you’ve got to wonder if she is feeling comfortable against Azarenka, who pretty much disappeared last year and wasn’t as motivated as she once did for years. Perhaps, but what we know is the two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka is ready to challenge the rest of the best and she is very close to racing up the tops. Azarenka is as fit as she was here in 2012 and 2013 when she won the titles. While she is not as fast as before, she can smoke the balls side to side. Vika will win in three tremendous three sets.

Other matches

8-Milos Raonic will take out the American Donald Young in four sets, because the Canadian is crushing his forehand, which is as powerful as any on tour.

4-Petra Kvitova thinks that he is ready to win the tournament, which means that she has to lock in quickly. She will defeat Mona Bartels in three sets, even though the German is a big swinger, too.

17-Gael Monfils almost went out against a French kid in five sets, but he hung in there and now he will do it again. He will survive the big hitter Jerzy Janowicz in a marathon.

2011 WTA Review: Nos. 6-10


Sam is much more complete player.

Most improved awards usually go to younger players who make substantial rankings breakthroughs, but in 2011, amongst the veterans, No. 6 Samantha Stosur would get my vote. How she managed to go from having her backhand rated as a

Murray, Young to clash for Bangkok title

Young has come a long way this season.

Donald Young and Andy Murray will meet for the third time this season but for the first time, it will be in a final when they face off at the PTT Thailand Open.

Young advanced to his first ATP World Tour final by topping Gael Monfils in a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) thriller, just another indication that his heart is in the right place, his game has solidified and that his fitness is gradually improving. He

Touch, feel & finally a closer’s instinct

Aga has Hingis and Henin-like Slam potential.

FROM THE MERCURY INSURANCE OPEN – Agnieszka Radwanska connected with so many great shots during her title run in San Diego that it

Sick for success

[caption id=”attachment_2894″ align=”aligncenter” width=”375″ caption=”Vera punched out Ana |

Azarenka’s angst

Vika cannot seem to stay healthy.

If Victoria Azarenka is going to win a Slam, she has to find a way to get healthy because her retirement count is now off the charts. On Thursday at Eastbourne, she retired for the fourth time in eight tournaments and twelfth time since the start of 2010 when down 62 20 to Marion Bartoli, she quit with a right groin injury. Whether its mental or just purely physical is hard to know, but what can be said is that it highly unusual and is happening right around every Slam. Someone in her camp better discover why or she never going to be consistent, serious threat.

Daniela Hantuchova finally found a way to best Venus Williams and took her out for the first time in 11 tries, 6-2 5-7 6-2. Give credit to Hantuchova who has had a fine month, but let’s not forget that Venus was playing just her third match since missing four and a half months of action due to hip and abdominal injuries

“The wind didn’t make it very predictable, but I give her credit for hanging in there. On a day like today, you have to just hang in there,” Williams said. “I think Daniela had a lot of motivation – we’ve been playing I don’t know how many years, and I am sure she has wanted to get a win against me for a long, long time…It wasn’t the best luck today, but I feel good about my preparation. More than anything I was able to get a lot of great competition. This has been ideal.”

Hantuchova will face Petra Kvitova, who came back to defeat the confounding Aga Radwanska 1-6 6-2 7-6(2). The lefty Kvitova certainly has a shot at Wimbledon and while Radwanska is a very smart player, she’s having trouble closing again and does not have a powerful enough game to do huge damage on grass.

No grass court lover, Sam Stosur came back from 6-4 4-2 down to best Vera Zvonareva 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, the second marathon match in a row for the Russian who had edged Serena Williams the day prior.

In Den Bosch, Roberta Vinci took out Yanina Wickmayer and Romina Oprandi upended Kimiko Date, Oprandi will face Jelena Dokic, who could be very dangerous at Wimbledon.

How about Kei Nishikori in rainy Eastbourne, first besting Rainer Schuettler 6-4 4-6 6-2 and then Radek Stepanek 6-2 6-3 in the quarters? Other semifinalists are Igor Kunitsyn, Janko Tipsarevic and Andreas Seppi…Irina Falconi qualified for Wimbledon, but Ryan Harrison was down two sets when the rain struck.

Oh so close for Serena, but not so far

Serena fell to Vera but played tough all the way through.

Serena Williams lost her first match of the year, which came on the heels of her first win of the year, and really, her 3-6 7-6 (5) 7-5 defeat to Vera Zvonareva in the second round of Eastbourne had more positives than negatives, given that she cam close to win despite dripping with rust. However, it may have been the first time that Serena has served for a match on grass and not won it, which means she has plenty of work to do in getting the world


Clijsters has gone deep in Paris before

Clijsters, Kvitova, Sharapova Top 3; Don’t count out Wozniacki, Azarenka, Schiavone & more

I can

Another Masters shield for Nadal

MONDAY, APRIL 18 – Even though Rafael Nadal looked tired for part of the week in Monte Carlo, he still managed to win his seventh straight title with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of David Ferrer. Neither man played his best on the day, but Nadal was more ambitious and self-assured on the big points, while Ferrer was fairy erratic. Still only 24, Nadal remarkably won his 19th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, two ahead of Roger Federer and Andre Agassi
“Rafa is incredible on clay. I mean, he’s everywhere at the same time. He’s the best player on clay in history,” said Ferrer of his compatriot, who won his 30th title on dirt, the same number that the great Bjorn Borg won. Two other former Roland Garros titlists are head of him as Guillermo Vilas is first with 45 clay-court titles and Thomas Muster owns 40. Nadal said he would play Barcelona next week and he