Archives for May 2012

Federer Says Djokovic Has Huge Mountain to Climb

Roland Garros women’s draw breakdown

Who can stop Rafa and Serena at Roland Garros?

When it rainy Rome, gut it out like Sharapova did

Maria will now hit the highway to Paris.

The Rome final was by no means pretty. It was muddy and sloppy and the only consistent rhythm on court was the drumbeat of the rain drops. But still, Maria Sharapova and Li Na battled fiercely in the Italian Open final , and when it ended after two stoppages for rain, Sharapova had defended her title in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) victory in more than two hours.

The match wildly swung up and down, with Li getting out to a 6-4, 4-0 lead before she began to err badly and Sharapova grew steadier, and Sharapova racing to a 4-2 , 40-15 lead in the third before she did much the same. Down 5-6, Sharapova fended off a match point by ripping a forehand in the heavy rain.

They then returned for the breaker, and Sharapova was more confident on the key points and managed to contain herself off the ground. Now she

Quick Picks: Rome Finals

Novak is hoping to recreate his 2011 Rome heroics.


It was at this time last year that the tennis world really got a sense that Djokovic was about to seize the top spot: he had beaten the Spaniard in the Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid finals, but Rome was on slower red clay and Nadal had rarely lost of that surface when healthy. But Djokovic hit through him once again and grabbed the Rome title in straight sets. While Nadal would win another Roland Garros a few week later, he didn’t have to beat Djokovic to do it. They would meet again in two other major 2011 finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, and Djokovic was again able to slightly over power him and outlast him. The mental stranglehold was on.

But lo and behold, last month in Monte Carlo, Nadal stopped the Serb’s seven-match winning streak against him and won the title convincingly. Since then, he has won Barcelona, mentally bailed out on the slippery blue clay in Madrid (as Djokovic also did), and walloped his foes in Italy this week. He’s playing at an extremely high level, but so is Djokovic, who was very convincing in dispatching Roger Federer in straight sets on Saturday.

The key for Nadal in the final is to play inside the court when he has chances, go for first serves, trust in his down the line game and not be predictable off his backhand side. Djokovic knows that he can stay with Nadal off the ground, punish his backhand side and is willing to keep moving inside the court until he has the Spaniard playing with his back against the wall.

While I still feel that Djokovic is playing an overall better brand of ball this year, in my gut I feel that Nadal feels like he can get on top of him again and is willing to change up his patterns in order to do so. Nadal will win in three, which means hours AND sets.


Sharapova continues to amaze me at how consistently well she is playing this season. Moreover, it could be argues now that her legs are super strong and her shoulder is almost all the way healed that she is more confident on clay than on any other surface because she knows what she can win 10-ball rallies by delivering the right combinations. She’s serving better too and trust her topspin forehand more, a shot she

Rome Drawn and Quartered



Berdych has taken his excellent Madrid form to Rome.

Flavia Pennetta vs. Serena Williams: The Italian has had a tough time with injuries this year and hasn’t not shown her best form until this week. Serena has been on fire of since Charleston and is either playing well and destroying foes, or not playing very well and outshining and out battling them This is the first match on Center Court and while Pennetta is a terrific mover and fine defense to offense player, Serena will be able be to find the lines with her groundies and returns and win in 2 sets.

Thomas Berdych vs. Rafa Nadal: The Czech plays Nadal very ought and nearly knocked him out in Australia, but Nadal is playing angry and quite effectively after the Madrid fiasco last week. Berdych has been quite good in taking balls early and hitting through the court, but in slower red clay, Nadal will wear him down in point in 2 sets

Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: I don’t like this match-up for the Frenchman on dirt, even though he was quite impressive in knocking off Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1. However, the Serbian will get into Jo’s backhand side, will return him much more consistently than DelPo did and out maneuver him. Take Djokovic in two.

Angelique Kerber vs. Petra Kvitova: This battle of two powerful lefties should be a doozy if Kvitova finds her form. Kerber can beat just about anyone these days, but the Czech is due to start peaking and I get the feeling it will be in Rome. PK in 3 sets.

Roger Federer vs. Andreas Seppi: Huge props to the Italian who came back from the depths to stun Stanislas Wawrinka 6-7(1) 7-6(6) 7-6(6), but having face Federer after that marathon is not a desired draw. Federer did not play great in taking down JC Ferrero, but he’s been money off the ground and his serve is much more consistent than it was last year. Take Federer in a tough 2 setter in front of a raucous crowd.

David Ferrer vs. Richard Gasquet: The Frenchman was outstanding at times in defeating Andy Murray and his sore back, but Ferrer won’t make as many errors as Murray did and will come through in 2.

Dominica Cibulkova vs. Na Li: It

When in Roma retire like some of the women do

Vika's shoulder injury is troubling.

Azarenka & Woznaciki out, Williamses survive, Sharapova vs Ivanovic; Fed’s back and Rafa’s form heal

By Matt Cronin

Remember when Victoria Azarenka couldn

Bartoli no shrinking violet

Alive and Kicking

Roger kisses his wife Mirka on Mothers Day after his title run.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams show their greatness in winning Madrid


By Matt Cronin

The two greatest players of their generations, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, once again showed that why they have been able to combine for 29 Grand Slams singles title: when in good head spaces, they are resilient and able to adapt to any condition.

On Sunday, Federer took an impressive 3-6 7-5 7-5 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych, his 74th crown overall and 20th Masters titles. Serena took her seventh victory in eight tries over world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka , this one a 6-1 6-3 destruction, a clear sign that if she stays healthy that now No. 6 Williams seem destined to retake No. 1 sometime during the grasscourt season, or maybe even sooner.

Federer also grabbed the the No. 2 ranking from Rafael Nadal, who was one of the slippery blue surface’s most strident critics.

“Look, it’s been a tough tournament and tough to move but you just go on with it and try to make the best out of it,” said 30-year-old. “There was some good tennis and there was some bad tennis as well, you see that in all the tournaments, but I thought the level of play under the circumstances was very good.”

The court was super fast and did not play at all like clay, well maybe bad and dry clay, so it was a great opportunity for Federer, who is lethal in quick exchanges. He served accurately, went for his returns (even showing off a fine backhand down the line) crowded the Czech when he could and withstood his big groundless. The contest was very close and Berdych, who has showed a lot of maturation over the past three years, displayed a good amount of fight and ability, but he was lacking the confidence that Federer usually shows on the bog points.

The final statistics show the quality of the contest, with Federer hitting 44 winners to Berdych 42 and the Czech making 27 unforced errors to Federer’s 30.

“It was just about a few points and I think Roger’s experience won through today,” Berdych said “One thing I am sad that I was not able to beat him but the other one is that losing to him is something special. He just showed what a great champion he is that playing in the conditions that were here he was able to win the title.”

Serena simply lit up Azarenka, a power player who only managed six winners in the match, less than hlaf of Serena’s 14-ace total. She started slow and finished slow, didn

Bashers line up in Madrid finals

After her win over Radwanska, Azarenka showed off her 'blue' shoes in an FB post.

While much of the rest of the field slipped and slided their way out of Madrid, four players who can bang the ball on the super fast so-called clay court have reached the final.

Roger Federer, who has proved he can play on anything, anytime, anywhere, smoked Janko Tipsarevic 6-2 6-3 to set up a showdown with Tomas Berdych, who has had very consistent year and won a high quality contest over Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 7-6.

On the WTA side, the tennis world will get the match its been looking for since Victoria Azarenka won the Aussie Open and became No. 1 when she’ll will face 13-time Slam champ Serena Williams.

Federer holds a 10-4 edge over Berdych, but the Czech, who likes the high bounces on clay, did upset the Swiss ay 1010 Wimbledon. However, Berdych knocked him out of Wimbledon in the quarterfinals two years ago. Federer has won both their matches on clay, but they haven