Archives for April 2013

TR Retro: Greatest WTA Match: Graf v. Seles, 1995 US Open Final

Monica SELES_Steffi GRAF_

The two great rivals lit up New York

If there was a tennis match with more historical significance and human drama than the 1995 US Open final between embittered rivals Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, it did not occur in women’s tennis during the Open era. The WTA has boasted at least 25 fantastic high-level, well-played contests between significant players since 1968, but none matched the raw emotion or electricity of the Graf-Seles Battle Royal.

It was possibly the one match in the Open Era that at the time appeared to determine who the greatest player of all time would be.

It could be argued that Seles

The Wrap, week April 21-28: Sharapova, Nadal repeat in Stuttgart, Barcelona


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Maria Sharapova may have been the defending champion in Stuttgart, but given what a beat down Li Na had laid on her in the Aussie Open semis, she was not the favorite to win the final. Going in, it was tossup between the Roland Garros last two champs, but Sharapova more than proved her mettle when she contested one her best matches of the season in a 6-4 6-3 victory. She served very well, both with speed and placement, and did not allow Li to attack her serve at will like she did in Melbourne. She returned aggressively and accurately and this time around it was China

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

New digital tennis magazine launched


Dear friends of Tennis Reporters net. Here is table of contents from first issue of the new digital tennis magazine Tennis Journal, which I am involved heavily with. Tennis Journal has been launched by some of the sports

A harried king of clay Djokovic stops Nadal to win Monte Carlo

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2013

The world No. 1 stopped Nadal’s attempt at a 9th title


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It was going to happen eventually. Rafael Nadal was not going to win every Monte Carlo into eternity, especially if his toughest rival these days, Novak Djokovic, decided to make his adopted hometown a place where he could adopt his hometown tournament.

Djokovic pushed himself hard physically to be able to show up and play the event, and despite a very sore ankle, once he got to the final against Nadal, he was brimming with confidence. That has not mattered much for the rest of the planet against Nadal on clay, but it sure has for Djokovic who has played Nadal awfully tough everywhere since he became a legendary player in 2011.

On this sunny Sunday in Monte Carlo, he was the better player, the fierier competitor, and the man who showed a real ability to close.

He pounded Nadal relentless early, taking a 5-0 lead. Broadcaster Nick Lester noted how Djokovic was taking Nada

Nadal vs Djokovic No. 34 in Monte Carlo final


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It has been nearly 11 months since Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic last faced off and that was in the final of Roland Garros, a four-set win for the Spaniard but a contest some analysts think Djokovic would have won if not for an overnight rain delay.

On Sunday they will meet in the final of Monte Carlo, with Nadal coming through a difficult contest against Jo Tsonga and Djokovic cruising against Fabio Fognini in the semis. Djokovic showed little signs of problems with his sore right ankle, while Nadal appears t be moving fine and his left knee has not been a visible problem all week.

“Novak always pushes you to the limits,

Quick Picks: Monte Carlo and Fed Cup semifinals

Does Tsonga have any chance against Nadal on clay?

Does Tsonga have any chance against Nadal on clay?

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Take Rafael Nadal over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga because while Jo does tend to play well in France, he is not an excellent clay court player and Rafa got over a big mental and talented hurdle in besting Grigor Dimitrov in three. Tsonga is capable of winning a set if he serves huge, but Nadal will spend most the day controlling the court with his forehand and whipping passing shots past the Frenchman. However, the match will go three partly because Tsonga does not want to be embarrassed at home.

Take Novak Djokovic over Fabio Fognini, even though this should be a very entertaining contest because the Italian likes to be part of big court drama. Djokovic may be slightly hobbled, but he

The Wrap, week of April 8-14: Isner’s return to clay profitable one

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In one week, Isner has turned around his fortunes

John Isner will play Monte Carlo this week and will likely have to play by Tuesday as he does not have a bye. He took off for France just hours after putting together the best clay court tournament of his career at the US Men

All Pain, Big Gain

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Nole overcomes a sprained ankle to move Serbia into the semis. MALTphoto

Injured Djokovic Carries Serbia over US

FROM THE US VS. SERBIA DAVIS CUP TIE IN BOISE, IDAHO — Sam Querrey has enough weapons to hurt most players and perhaps in a year or two when he adds more weight to his backhand he will be able to shut down the likes of No. 1 Novak Djokovic down in a three-out-of- five-set match. But he does not have the skill or experience to be able to pull that off yet, not even if the world No. 1 was playing on a sprained ankle and especially not when he was dealing a with a right sore pectoral muscle himself.


Davis Cup shocker: Bozoljac come out of nowhere and helps beat Bryans


Bozo had only won 6 ATP double matches before helping shock the Bryans

FROM THE US VS SERBIA DAVIS CUP TIE IN BOISE – Late Saturday morning, when it was announced that the obscure Ilija Bozoljac would team up with Nenad Zimonjic in doubles instead of Novak Djokovic, the thought inside the Taco Bell Arena was that Serbian Davis Cup captain Bogdan Obradovic (as well as Djokovic) had pretty much conceded the doubles point to the US and would instead focus on pulling off two singles wins on Sunday.

Obradovic and Zimonjic agreed that regardless of whom he played with, the Serbians would still be the underdogs, so why risk Djokovic and Troicki