Aussie Open 2016 Draw: Can Serena win another majors? Nope

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No. 1 Serena Williams hasn’t played since the US Open, so she is pretty raw. Plus, she was hurt 10 days ago due to her knee, so it’s very hard to tell whether she will be ready. She said that she feels “130 percent.” If so, she can win seven matches winning 6-0, 6-0. She is that good.

However, I don’t think she is 100 percent, not even 90 percent. She is super vulnerable. She could lose against Camilla Giorgi in the first set, yet while the Italian can strike the ball, she is inconsistent mentally. She could be troubled against Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round, or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the third round, but she scrape past them. But in the Round of 16 – she is gone against her close friend Caro Wozniacki. Time after time, Caro has been close but she has seasoned up. This week, the Danish will finally yank her around and make her very tired. Serena will throw a few dozen unforced errors and she will wave goodbye. It happens – for everyone.

Maria Sharapova will be in the quarter, and if she had to face Williams once again, she could be shaky on court as she has lost so many times against her. But no matter. Sharapova has to reach the quarters first and she became hurt [everybody seems to be hurt] in Brisbane While she is feeling fine, she might not be 100 prix vrai cialis percent. We will see. However, Sharapova looked very good at the WTA Finals and the Fed Cup final. She seems relax and eager. She has a fine draw until the fourth round, when she will have to face Belinda Bencic or Svetlana Kuznetsova. The 18-year-old Bencic is coming hard, while Kuznetsova played a terrific contest in Sydney. Sharapova wants it more though, but she knows that if she can win a couple more majors, she has to do it soon.

SEMIFINAL: Sharapova


Bencic vs. Alison Riske

Allegedly, Bencic said she was ill a couple of day ago and had to pull out in Sydney. Now she has to face the hard-hitting American Riske who is playing well on the hard courts. A true toss-up.


During the fall, Aga Radwanska really came alive, winning the WTA Finals. She won a tournament last week, too. While she certainly is not the out-and-out favorite, she is way up there. It’s time for the No. 4 Radwanska to finally shine and win a Slam. However, it won’t be easy. She will open up against Christina McHale, who can by super steady, then against Genie Bouchard, who can be super aggressive, and then against Sam Stosur, who can crush her heavy forehand. But the cagey Radwanska will figure it out. In the Round of 16 she will face Sloane Stephens, who won Auckland and that could be tough, assuming whether the American can figure it out. Let’s assume she will, and they will contest a very long match, but in the end, Radwanska will kiss the lines when it counts the most. Who will the Polish face in the quarters? In the other section, no one is playing healthy or playing well. (Petra Kvitova is ill once again.) How about Carla Suarez Navarro?  but it doesn’t matter as Radwanska will beat her easily.

SEMIFINAL: Radwanska


Dominica Cibulkova vs. Kristina Mladenovic

The former finalist Cibulkova loves the tournament and will go all out to prove that she can reach top 10 again. The No. 28 Mladenovic is improving slowly but surely, plus she is a fine net charger.



Vika will find her old form in Melbourne. Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Vika will find her old form in Melbourne. Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The bottom half is substantially weaker, but there are some excellent competitors. Here, Vika Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza will face each of the in the Round of 16. The No. 7 Angie Kerber has a very easy draw until the quarters, unless she gets nervous, which she won’t – yet. Azarenka will have to face Elina Svitolina in the third round, which could be tough as the Ukrainian can be very fast and hustle. But Azarenka was extremely impressive in winning Brisbane and she’s ready to try and win a Slam. No. 3 Muguruza has been hurt, but she is so strong and smarter now. Caroline Garcia can trouble her, but the Spaniard doesn’t disappear at times, which the Frenchwoman does. Yes, Muguruza can reach the final here, but Garbine appears to be a little bit nervous, while Azarenka seems very happy. The two-time Grand Slam champion at the AO will stop Muguruza, and then chop up Kerber, whom she beat in the Brisbane final. Azarenka can hit the hell out of the ball.



Elina Svitolina vs. Victoria Duval

The 20-year-old Duval is now ready to dance. Svitolina thinks she can reach the top 10 this year. It should be a true battle.


Even though Simona Halep lost in the semifinals of Sydney in three long sets against Kuznetsova, at least she felt like her body held up and she didn’t feel hurt anymore. Time will tell, but if she is feeling good, she can actually win the Aussie Open for the first time. At first, she will have to run for a long time, against Alize Cornet in the second round (who won Hobart) and No. 31 Lesia Tsurenko in the third round. Halep will reach the Round of 16, when she will face Madison Keys (I would said Ana Ivanovic, but the Serbian did nothing at Auckland and Sydney), who can crush the ball. Keys haven’t done much since the summer and she will have to prove that she is ready to knock out the elite competitors. Halep will dig her out. In the quarters, Halep will go face Karolina Pliskova, who has so much potential, but the Czech can get down on herself, just like when she lost against Halep in Sydney. It was close, but Pliskova wasn’t patient enough. The No. 9 Pliskova could lose early because she can up and down mentally, but she will topple No. 8 Venus Williams in the fourth round. The 35-year-old Venus can reach the quarters, or even the semis, but it’s hard to see that. So many years ago, in 2003, Venus reached the final at the AO against Serena and she was right there. She was so close in the third set and just let it go. After that, she never reached a AO final again. I would be shocked if Venus manages to dominate during the next two weeks. Halep will get through into the semis, out stroking Pliskova once again.

SEMIFINAL: Simona Halep


Venus vs. Johanna Konta.

Remember when the Britain stunned Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic at the US Open before she lost to Kvitova? Pretty good stuff. She will push Venus super hard—and then she will lose in three sets.

Shocker? Radwanska d. Murguruza, Kvitova d. Sharapova to reach final in WTA Finals



SINGAPORE – For the first time at the WTA Finals, two players who went 1-2 in the groups have now reached the finals: Aga Radwanska surprised the up-and-coming Garbine Muguruza 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, while Petra Kvitova out-hit Maria Sharapova 6-3 7-6(3).


The 22-year-old Muguruza, who is ranked No. 3, was worn down in the season’s final tournament. Even

though she was tired after a tough week as she was competing in singles and doubles, she nearly came though.

“I just wanted to give everything I had, and doesn’t matter how long I was going to be able to keep it. I just went out there, and if I die on the court, I die, but at least I go out from there happy,” the Spaniard said.

Like Muguruza, Sharapova was 3-0 entering the semifinal. She had beaten Kvitova five of the last six times, but the Czech couldn’t let her breath. She came right at her and didn’t stop. Sharapova knows that when Kvitova is on fire, it’s hard to handle her.

“She’s a very aggressive player. She has a lot of depth and power. She goes for her shots. I think when she commits to her game and she executes, it’s a very powerful game,” Sharapova said.

Somewhat amazingly, Kvitova and Radwanska have played eight times, with the Czech owning with a 6-2 edge. However, the 25 year olds have played four WTA Finals, in 2011, when Kvitova won the title, beating the Pole in straights in the Round Robin in Istanbul; in 2012, when Radwanska won in straight sets in a Round Robin; in 2013, with the Czech winning in straight sets and in 2014, when ‘Aga’ won easily last year in the Round Robin at Singapore.

They are tied up in the WTA Finals. While Kvitova has been a better player overall, Radwanska is on a roll. The contest should be very close.

“It’s difficult opponent, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She’s very smart. I think she has a lot the variety on the court. She getting so many balls, so sometimes it feels that she’s never‑ending story on the court.

So it’s really about the patient and still be kind of sharp, but playing a lot of shots and rallies. It’s difficult. So both of us will leave everything.”


Halep is all done for the year: Radwanska hung in there, made semis


Simona Halep is first to be eliminated in Singapore. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Simon Halep is now gone from the rest of the year and really, since she quickly lost against Flavia Pennetta in the US Open semis, she was mentally disturbed and couldn’t calm her frayed nerves .

On Thursday, Aga Radwanska took her down 7-6(5) 6-1. Halep was up 5-1 in the tiebreak, but the Pole kept running as at top speed. Somehow, someway, she got to 6-5. Both Radwanska and Halep went side to side, foreward and backward, under and over, way up high in the sky and touching their rackets well above their heads. Finally, Halep bent down, her legs were wobbly, and she tried to hit a forehand volley and went wide. Without a doubt, it was one of the best point of the year.

But Radwanska was revived and jubilent, while Halep folded quickly.

“I was done. No energy anymore,” Halep said. “I was tired. I felt that I lost the chance to win the first set and probably I lost the chance to win the match in that moment. My coach [Darren Cahill] was telling me many things, but I couldn’t hear because I was done and I was very nervous there.”

Later, the Pole could have hung her head, too. This week, she lost a brutal contest against Maria Sharapova on Sunday, and then lost a tough contest match against Pennetta on Tuesday, but when she went on court, she decided that she wasn’t going home yet. She would just swing away when she could and have a little bit of fun. Radwanska did, especially in the second set, when she was as aggressive as she can be.

But she was asked whether had she lost in the first set, would have she thought that it had been a long year, it was time to say good‑bye. She was leaving. See ya.

“You were just reading my mind actually,” she said. “That was it. I went on court, and to be honest I didn’t practice yesterday. I was really tired and I’m falling apart a little bit as well. So what I had yesterday, it’s half an hour in the gym, two sessions of treatment. What I wanted to do is really play my best tennis today. Like you’re saying, it’s been a really long trip and I lost already two matches. I think that works for me. I think I will have to take more of the day off,” she said with a smile.

Halep says that on Monday, she will announce that she and her coach, Cahill, will continue on next year.

The Romanian says that she has had a pretty good season, which she said there were “ups and down” with her higlight winning Indian Wells, and her low light being upset early at Roland Garros.

She is one of the fastest players on tour who runs and runs and runs, but not in Singapore this week. Her legs were pooped. “Today I couldn’t breathe anymore in the second set,” she said.

Radwanska made it to the semifinals and, depending on today’s outcome, she could face Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, or Angie Kerber on Saturday.

Wimbledon: Serena clocks Sharapova, young Muguruza stops Radwanska

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It was inevitable. Maria Sharapova was going to hit the corner as hard as she could, but before she started, she had to return Serena’s massive serves and when she was serving, she had to be very unpredictable. She did not on both accounts.

Once again, Serena Williams thumped past Sharapova 6-2 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon final for the eight time. The 33-year-old Serena was cool, collected and lethal. She did not face a break points, she nailed 13 aces, and she won 86 percent of her first serves (25 of 29, thank you). She broke Sharapova three times. That was enough.

Yes, Sharapova had a few fine moments, but she was not close to being playing perfect, while Serena almost did. Essentially, it is all about why Serena has beaten Sharapova 17 matches in a row: Serena has a much better first and second serves, and Serena reads Sharapova’s serves substantially better. It is simple, but every effective. When Sharapova manages to get into the points it is 50-50, but that isn’t often enough, as she is frequently skidding around and she cannot dictate. Look at her percentage when Sharapova was hitting her second serve on Thursday: try 29 percent (6/21). Ouch and goodbye.

Perhaps someday, she will finally upset Serena, but she has to figure out where exactly Williams tends to go. She has to dash over quickly and get the ball into play and deep. Serena has a very good idea which way Sharapova is serving (such as down the T all the time), but maybe the Russian/American will finally find it. You know, all the so-called Big-4 (Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal) can return the big guys who serve 140-plus and winning those matches. Is it possible for the five-time champion Sharapova be able to return the 120 mph too? Not yet, but she will keep pushing on.

Eventually, a 21 year old was ready to jump up, and that is exactly what Garbine Muguruza did, when he took down Aga Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-3. Yes, Radwanska could have played better in the third set, but the Spaniard out hit her and she was very intelligent. She knew that the Pole would try to be trick her, but Muguruza kept looking where the opponent was going. She was patient and when she had a legitimate chance, she went for it. She has a big first serve, she can crack her forehand and backhand and she isn’t shy at the net.

Yes, Williams is the favorite for sure, but Muguruza shocked her at the 2014 Roland Garros and Serena bested her in the Aussie Open, but it was three sets. If Muguruza isn’t very nervous, she can push her.



Nadal vs Monfils, the Pick: On grass Rafa in the semis against Gael, in Stuttgart

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JUNE 12- Stuttgart again? My, maybe someday Germany will be in the Masters 1000 ATP again, as well as the WTA Premier Mandatory. Stuttgart already has a WTA tournament during April on clay indoors, which had a ton of fans. This week, at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, there is a very good selection, which is unusual given that it’s the week after Roland Garros. But now things are different, as for the first time, Wimbledon is three weeks ahead, not two weeks, so the players have more time. That is a good thing.

Rafael Nadal, who lost against Novak Djokovic in the quarters at RG, is ready to rumble. He is not perfect – he’s not even close – but little by little he is improving. On Friday, he bested Aussie Bernard Tomic 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3, which was good enough. Tomic has been pretty consistent this year, but he has not been able to overcome the big boys. Still, he is very creative and the No. 24 has a decent shot at Wimbledon to reach the quarterfinals, or the semis, but he has to step it up and really believe in himself.

Nadal can win Wimbledon once again (he has won the Slam twice) but he has to grab a title before he gets there. How about this weekend in Stuttgart? The No. 10 will face Gael Monfils, who beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 3-6 6-3, which could be a terrific contest, but the Frenchman is hurt once again and it’s impossible to know how he will turn up. Recall that in RG, Monfils looked like he was ready to shine against Roger Federer, but in the second day his legs were sore and he was gone. That is what will happen in the semis when Nadal will win in three sets as Monfils was hurting once again.

Here is another: the former US Open champion Marin Cilic will face Victor Troicki in the semis. This summer, he is trying hard to get back after he missed most of the fall and the first quarter this year. He can serve huge. He will overcome the consistent Troicki in straight sets.

In the WTA, the Topshelf Open at the Netherlands has a dramatic day when the teenager Belinda Bencic beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-5, and Camila Giorgi overcame Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-3 7-6(9). Bencic should be able to make the top 32 at Wimbledon or better but she will have a hard time in the semis against Jelena Jankovic, while Giorgi will be pretty tired against the local hero, Kiki Bertens. You have to like the veteran Jankovic as well as Bertens will here the fans cheering for her.

In Nottingham, Agnieszka Radwanska beat Lauren Davis 6-2 6-2 and perhaps she is feeling a little better now after an awful season. She does love grass and she will face Monica Niculescu, who is pretty decent. For Radwanska, winning against anyone, anytime is mandatory. If she wins the event, then we are talking about her once again.

Report Card, women at Roland Garros. Serena gets an ‘A’ but what about Safarova?

A+ Serena Williams

In 2015, she has never had to struggle as much as she did at Roland Garros, very sick and completely out of it. But, when she came on court, one way or another, she was going to find the right place. Serena has won plenty of Slams over the years, but she has never played three-setters in five matches, which were all against the hot and ambitious players. She didn’t just blast huge serves, but she mixed up her attack, ran down the balls even though it appeared to be out of reach and when she was down 2-0 in the third set against Safarova, she woke up, yelled at herself every second and quickly rose to the heaven. Yes, Serena can be had if she isn’t feeling right, but she wants to tie against Steffi Graf at 22 majors this year and when she faces Wimbledon and the US Open, she will be locked in.

A Lucie Safarova

The 28-year-old lefty has been around for a long time and for the first time in Paris, she didn’t get nervous or stop thinking. Both her forehand and backhand are more powerful, she has found much better angles and she knows how to strategize. Her biggest win was in the fourth round when she upset the defending champion Maria Sharapova in two excellent sets. Maria tried to stare her down and she could not, as Safarova looking right back at her and said, “I am still here.” Now the question is, can she go deep at Wimbledon once again?

A Timea Bacsinszky

The Swiss isn’t that young (she is 26 years old) so it’s not like she has come out of nowhere, but when you watch her you can see that she ripped both sides down the line and she has a pretty good first serve. She upset the defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, which was huge, and she didn’t stop there, reaching the semis before Serena stepped on her in the third set. But now it looks like we will see her in the top 20 for years to come.

Ivanovic IW 11 MALT4950B+ Ana Ivanovic

The Serbian had a real chance to reach the final again, but she wasn’t there against Safarova. She fought very hard during the tournament and she was dominating with her ferocious forehand, but she was nervous when she knew that she could win the title. Can she recover?

B+ Alison Van Uytvanck

The 21-year-old’s performance was completely unexpected, as she upset at the Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic and beating the other unknown Andreea Mite to reach the quarters. She has much more belief now.

B+ Andreea Mitu

It’s not easy to gain to a fourth round when you entered the tournament ranked No. 100, but she did, stopping Karolina Pliskova and Francesca Schiavone. It appears that the 21-year-old from Romania is now here to stay.

B+ Garbine Muguruza

She played very well to beat Giorgi, Kerber and Pennetta, but she wasn’t quite there when she lost to Safarova. Still, the 21-year-old is coming along nicely.

B+ Elina Svitolina

The 20-year-old did a fine job reaching the quarters, outhitting Cornet. Little by little she will stay in the top 20 – or the top 10 – for a long time to come.

B Alize Cornet

Yes, just reaching the fourth round is not the biggest deal, but being able to play in front of the Frenchy crowds during the second week made her cry with a wide smile.

B Sara Errani

The Italian looked shaky entering the RG as she lost early in Madrid and Italy. But in Paris she scored wins over Germans Petkovic and Goerges to reach the quarters, but then Serena crushed her.

B Sloane Stephens

Yes, Sloane was unable to upset Serena in the fourth round, but at least this time she was very close and she showed that now she doesn’t fear the top players.

B Julie Goerges

The German pretty much owns Wozniacki, out slugging her in the second round, but she was anxious when she lost 6-2 6-2 against Errani in the fourth round.

B Irina Falconi

The 25-year-old American hasn’t loved clay over the years, but she did good job in Paris, reaching the third round for the first time.

C+ Ekaterina Makarova

OK the No. 8 Russian doesn’t love clay, but at least she managed to get to the fourth round, where she lost to Ivanovic. That is about as good as she could get.

C+ Maria Sharapova

Sure she was super sick, but she had opportunities against Safarova in the fourth round. The 2012 and 2014 champion was disappointing, but at least she tried as good as she could. However she needs a huge win at Wimbledon.

C+ Flavia Pennetta

The former top 10-er had a big win over Suarez, but then the veteran was so-so in losing against Muguruza.

C Petra Kvitova

It was cold during the first week and she struggled. However she had battled and reached the fourth round, looking she had a real chance to reach the semis or better. But, during the third set against Bacsinszky, she melted. That is Petra, you never know where the ball is going.

Madison Keys

The promising American has yet to figure the red clay, which is why she went down to Timea Bacsinszky in the third round. Patience, please.

Victoria Azarenka

Ye,s the former No. 1 is trying this year, but she is not there yet, falling against Serena in three sets. She had chances, but she lost her cool.

C Andrea Petkovic

The German has been hurt over the past two months, so reaching the third round wasn’t so bad.

C- Carla Suarez

So much expectation for the Spaniard coming in to Paris, so much disappointment after fell to Pennetta in the third round

C- Angie Kerber

It looked like the German could go far until she fell apart in the second and third sets against Muguruza. Where is she going now?

C- Venus Williams

It has been a rough year on clay for the elder Williams and, while she tried against Sloane Stephens, she was all over the place.

D+ Karolina Pliskova

I really like the No. 12 this year overall but she is too slow on the clay, which is why she was stunned by Mitu.

D Simona Halep

Yes, her opponent, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, can go for it and she was super aggressive, but Halep was unconvincing in the second round and didn’t change up at all. That was a serious blow to the 2014 finalist.

D Carolina Wozniacki

Caro looked OK to best Karin Knapp in the first round, but then she hit way too short and she was punched out against Goerges. She just does not know how to play the clay.

D- Genie Bouchard

Clearly the Canadian is trying very hard but it is in her head now and she gets super nervous when she is out there playing.

F Aga Radwanska

As she admitted she can’t handle the clay, but she is better than that when she is into it. She wasn’t at all when she loss to Annika Beck in the first round. Trying hard is mandatory.