Serena favored vs Aga, but close? Kerber raises up, to play Konta





Is there anyway that Aga Radwanska can trick Serena Williams, given that she lost to her eight times in a row? Not really, but at least she has reached the semifinals and, if she can get her teeth in, maybe she can bother her and begin to believe that she can actually win the match.

Back in 2012 in the Wimbledon final against Williams, Radwanska was spinning around, mixing it up, coming forward, back and forth and painting the line. They were locked up. They had split their two sets and it was 2-2 in the third. But then Serena calmed down, she took her time, she blasted some huge serves, she returned aggressively and she decided that she wasn’t going to scramble around. Radwanska fought, but she was merely hoping that Serena would happen to fail and she would win her first major. The only way that Radwanska was going to win was to risk it. She didn’t and she was gone 6-1 5-7 6-2.

Since then, Aga wasn’t really closed. In 2013 in Toronto, she looked pretty spry, her backhand was lethal and she really hustled, but the incredibly creative Radwanska fell 7-6(3) 6-4. She couldn’t break Serena down.

The 34-year-old Serena has said that she and Radwanska are now getting along off the court. That is very good, but that does not mean that the American will let her guard down. Serena also gets along well with Caro Wozniacki and Vika Azarenka, but she has still managed to beat them soundly, so that is not going to give her some slack. No, Radwanska is going to have to play as well as she can – even better. She is going to have to add a lot of speed on her first and second serve. She is going to yank Serena side-to-side with her backhand and forehand and come into the net whenever she can attack a short ball. Somehow, when Serena is blasting gigantic serves, she has to discover where she is going and pop it back very deep.

If Radwanska manages to do that, she will have an opportunity, but Serena is playing fantastic ball once again. In the quarters against Maria Sharapova, she knew that she had to be incredibly explosive and that is exactly what she did. We all know that Serena hiccupped in the semis against Roberta Vinci when she fell. This time, she won’t be as anxious. Before the tournament I thought Aga would win the trophy. Then, I though Serena was hurt. But now she is not. Serena will win in three, tough, fun sets.


Clearly, Kerber woke up and smelled the roses to upset Azarenka, the favorite. Instead of pushing back, the German moved forward and cracked her much improved forehand. The lefty can sprint for hours, she can bend very low and bomb her backhand, and she can be pretty comfortable at the net.

Last year, the soon-to-be top 5 player won four titles, but she wasn’t able to reach the second week at any of the majors. This week, she decided she could really go for it and she did.

Now the 28-year-old Kerber is the favorite against the British Konta, who has reached the final four since the now-broadcaster Sue Barker did it 40 years ago. The 25-year-old Konta has really come out of nowhere. At the beginning of last year, she was ranked No. 147. She played a ton of US and Canadian challengers, rose up at the US Open and played tremendous ball at Wuhan and generic levitra faq uk Linz.

In 2016, she was already to go and during the past 10 days, she has been consistently striking the ball. She is more powerful and directed and she rarely grows tired.

However, she is not quiet there yet. Yes, she can bang it from the backcourt, but Kerber has more savvy. The German will win in straight sets to reach the final for the first time.

Close ones: Murray vs. Ferrer, Raonic vs Monfils, Vika vs. Angie

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Can the Spaniard really bother the Brit if he manages to serve big and jump on his returns? Maybe, but even if he does, how is he going to wear him down? Years ago, Ferrer did, as he could run side to side, pushed him back for hours, and Murray became frustrated. Instead of being patient, he could be wild. But over the past few years, Murray improved overall. His forehand is stronger, especially when he goes down the line. His brilliant backhand is so sharp and he can smack it were ever he want to. Ferrer can’t find a way to crack him, and now he has become anxious.

Both the veterans know each other well, with Murray having beaten him 15 times, and Ferrer has won six times. According to Murray, he has found out that Ferrer has recently changed his racket and now he can hit even harder. Perhaps he is, but that doesn’t mean he can out–hit him, as Murray has looked fantastic since he arrived here last week. Murray will win in the four sets.


Monfils’ right arm must be busted up after he dove to the right to try to hit a forehand and fell hard into the court. He said that he could have broken it, but it didn’t. However, he is likely pretty sore and while he can leap around and crush his first serve and forehand, he can be erratic and he has never gone deep at the Aussie Open. However, the 29-year-old Frenchman has beaten Raonic twice and, while it was a while ago, at least he will think he can sting him. On Rod Laver, he can smile and grin and have the fans join him in a fun match.

However, Raonic has played extremely well since he started this year in Brisbane. He knocked out Roger Federer in the final, and here, when Stan Wawrinka was trying to trick him, he decided to be more aggressive in his serve, returns and net game. Monfils can sit way back and punch the ball around, but Raonic has no intention to engage in long rallies. He will swing early and often and the Canadian will win in straight sets.


Do we have to see this again? In two-and-a-half weeks ago in the final of Brisbane, Azarenka beat the heck out of Kerber 6-3 6-1. The first set wasn’t bad, but after that, Azarenka whacked her. She has never lost against Kerber, who she has beaten six times, and the reason is because her serve is substantially better. In big matches, she can get right into her face and the German backs off.

Look, Kerber is an excellent player when she is feeling fantastic mentally and outside her so-so serve (and it can be very, very bad), she can handle anyone. She is a super fast, she doesn’t get tired and she can paste her forehand and backhand. At the 2015 US Open, Kerber was very close of upsetting Azarenka, but lost 6-4 in the third. Azarenka was pretty vulnerable then but now, the former two-time Aussie champion is on fire and hasn’t lost a set. She will be ultra aggressive and come to the net whenever she can. Azarenka will win in two sets.


What a shocker that they both reached the quarters. Who would have think it? Konta has played extremely well over the past six months; while Shang has lost time and time again. She said that she was ready to retire, but then she qualified and began ripping the ball from everywhere. It’s a true pic-em. I will take Zhang, largely because she knocked a series of fine players (even if they were hurt) such as Simone Halep, Alize Cornet, Varvara Lepchenko and Madison Keys. Zhang Zhang will win in three very tough sets.

Ana Ivanovic: ‘Young girls, they’re fearless.’ To face Madison Keys

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN, DAY 4, JAN. 21, 2016 – Ana Ivanovic has been around a long time now, so long that the 28-year-old is now one of the respected statements.

Since she won her first Grand Slam – her only major title – she has been very good at times, and at other times, very bad. Now, she has reached the third round, which is pretty good, but at this point, the Serbian has to go super deep in order to satisfy herself. Once you win a major, like she did when she won the 2008 Roland Garros title and became No. 1, she wante to stay there. She wanted to win more Grand Slams at the other three. In 2007 and the first half of 2008, she was on fire, reaching the final of the Australian Open, but lost to Maria Sharapova in a hard-fought match.

But she hasn’t been able to find her way to the finals again, largely because she will panic when she is so close to the finish line.

However, Ivanovic continues to battle and changing up her tactics, and the always-happy person hasn’t given up yet.

“I think throughout your whole life, there is areas you always want to learn and improve,” she said. “In tennis, in my game, I still feel there is room for improvement. That’s my challenge every day. I really try to push myself and to try to get better. There was tough moments. I tried to improve, tried to push myself. It is also fun, you know, that’s why we are here.”

Every 10 years, the players change. Even though Serena Williams is dominating now, many of the very good veterans realize that the youngsters aren’t afraid and many of them are more effective. And they can attack early, too. On Thursday, Ivanovic beat the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-3. It was competitive. Zhang Shuai of China beat Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3; Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic bested Sabine Lisicki 6-3 2-6 6-4; and Naomi Osaka of Japan beat another youngster Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4. Who did that and how did they get so good?

“You see it through the years now, so many new players coming up,” Ivanovic said. “Their feel is they have powerful game and they are just dangerous. It’s completely different to when I started. I remember even myself would get to third, fourth round without dropping too many games. So if you had 6-4, 7-5, they were like, ‘What’s going on?’ And now every match it’s a battle, you just have to try and push yourself, because it’s all challenge. They are young girls and they’re fearless.”

Talk about very good young players, Ivanovic will face Madison Keys in the third round. The American reached the semifinals at the Aussie Open last year, and right after that, it looked like Keys would jump into the top 10. But she was spotty for the rest of the year. She played excellent ball to reach the final at Charleston, and reach the quarters at Wimbledon, but after that, she was very inconsistent. She is a huge hitter, but she can become frustrated. Perhaps this season, she will be calmer. Ivanovic will find out on Saturday.

“She’s very dangerous; big game. We played once on clay when she was just coming up and we had tough second-set tiebreak,” Ivanovic said. “She played well last year here; a big serve; a big, powerful forehand actually on both wings. It’s going to be the first shot, and I’m going to have to be composed also in my service games if I do face her. It’s not going to be easy matchup, I think, but it’s all about, trying to find your way.”


Victoria Azarenka is playing fantastic, winning Brisbane and then crushing two players at the AO. On Thursday she blew apart Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2.

The No. 3 Garbine Muguruza played so-so but beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 6-2. The pressure is on for the young Spaniard and could struggle against Barbora Strycova. The American Varvara Lepchenko beat Lara Arruabarrena 7-6(7) 6-4 and she does have a real chance to reach the fourth round when she faces Zhang Shuai, even though the Chinese did play very well to upset Simona Halep and Cornet.


Andy Murray hit six beautiful lob winners in the first set over Sam Groth 6-0 6-4 6-1. Groth is tall and he constantly comes into the net, but even though he would try to climb way up in the sky he couldn’t touch him.  The American John Isner was pretty consistent and smart to beat Marcel Granollers 6-3 7-6(6) 7-6(2). His backhand really has improved over the past year, but now he will have to face Feliciano Lopez, who overcame Guido Pella 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 7-6(3) 6-7(8) 6-4 in a marathon.

Back in 2012 at the Aussie Open, Lopez beat Isner 6-3 6-7(3) 6-4 6-7(0) 6-1 in the third round. At the 2014 Wimbledon, the Spaniard beat Isner 6-7(8) 7-6(6) 7-6(3) 7-5. The lefty bothers him. But fortunately, Isner defeated Lopez 7-6(5) 6-7(9) 7-6(4) in Queens last year. Maybe he can turn the tables.

Here is another big contest on Saturday, when the Brisbane winner Milos Raonic will go up against the Sydney winner Viktor Troicki. On Thursday, Raonic beat Tommy Robredo 7-6(6) 7-6(5) 7-5, while Troicki beat Tim Smyczek 6-4 7-6(5) 7-6(4). Both are confident, but the Serbian must be a little tired.

Another American, Steve Johnson beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 6-2 6-2 and will play David Ferrer. Johnson knows they could be on court for hours and hours.

Aussie Open: Serena returns at 4 months off, Wozniacki skids again




AUSTRALIAN OPEN, DAY 1, JAN 18 – Serena Williams played reasonably well to beat Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5 in the first round at the Aussie Open. The No. 1 hadn’t played for four months – which is a long time – but as she said, the older you get, the easier it is to understand how you will preform at the Grand Slams. As Serena said, she has been playing tennis for 30 years (she is 34 years old) so she knows how to play. That is true, but her knee was hurt 10 days ago so it’s possible that it could become super sore, which could threaten her.

Fortunately, Serena won’t play against the seeds until the quarters. No. 27 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova lost against the Russian Darya Kasatkina, No. 17 Sara Errani went down against another Russian Margarita Gasparyan. The youngsters are rising.

No.16 Caroline Wozniacki lost against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. But what about the former No. 1 Wozniacki? How did she go down so ridiculously? As the Dane said, she “played like shit.” In 2014, she looked like she was coming back, reaching the final of the US Open, hitting harder, faster, stronger and with much more confidence.

But last year, after she reached the final at Stuttgart against Angie Kerber, she was right there in the third set. But towards the end, she backed up, she pushed the ball, she lost and after that, she skidded. Big time. If Wozniacki doesn’t change, she is not going to be able to win a major at all. Her backhand is always phenomenal, but beyond that, her forehand is spotty and isn’t very powerful; her serve is mediocre; and his return is spotty. She is simply not aggressive enough. Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova have all won multiple majors, and they all can be aggressive when they need to. Wozniacki doesn’t. She really needs to bring in a new coach, not because her father and coach Piotr doesn’t understand tennis, but his daughter isn’t listening. Caro can ignore her coaches. If she is going to change and return to the top 5 someday, she has to start listening very soon.

Here were some good wins on Monday: Sharapova, the now healthy Kvitova (or she says), Genie Bouchard, Sveta Kuznetsova, Belinda Bencic (who is no longer sick), Carla Suarez Navarro, and a few more Americans: Nicole Gibbs, Laura Davis and Irina Falconi.

The most telling loss was by Samantha Stosur, who went down against ‘the other’ Kristyna Pliskova 6-4 7-6(6). The former US Open champion Stosur played at night on Rod Laver and while she didn’t freeze up, she didn’t mix it up at all. The Aussie was way too predictable and she didn’t yank the somewhat slow Croatian around. Credit for Kristyna (her better twin sister is Karolina Pliskova) who hung in there, but Stosur looked lost. It is amazing that during the past 10 years, she has done almost nothing playing in Australia. At the US Open, and at Roland Garros, she has been tremendous, but at home, she swallows up. Maybe next year…