Tag Archives: Elena Dementieva

My Holiday Wish List for Tennis.

With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to send out my wish list for what I like to see changed or improved for both the WTA and ATP tours in 2010.

Don’t Believe the Hype.

At the beginning of the year, way, way too much hype and expectation was heaped upon the shoulders of both Andy Murray, because of his U.S. Open Finalist run, and Dinara Safina because she somehow found herself at No. 1 by just being consistent in 2008. Murray responded to the buzz by having a decent year, but nothing to suggest he could challenge for No. 1. Safina meanwhile started her “misery tour” losing badly to Serena in Australia, choking her way through the French Open final and then collapsing in the third round in New York.

I’m not blaming either player for being unable to live up to the hype, but my wish for next year is that both tours and the media learn that overhyping new players in the hopes it will translate into actual results doesn’t work.

Speed Up The Challenge System.

The challenge system has helped the game a great deal. But what hurts the game is how players abuse the system. The following scenario occurs at least once a match. A call is made, a player, instead of immediately challenging the call, will ask the umpire, “What do you think?” The umpire might stand by the call or say it’s worth a look. Then the player will think some more and then finally challenge.

Players should have five seconds to challenge or cede the point. That’s it. Allowing players to get into conversations with the umpire or going up to have a look at the “mark” (especially on a hard court) is a waste of everybody’s time.

“Private Life, Drama Baby Keep Me Out” – The Pretenders

Usually the end of the season is normally a quiet time. That wasn’t the case this year which started with the Serena Williams meltdown, Andre Agassi’s meth use admission, the Stockholm Open sex scandal, and the doping ban (now lifted) of Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. Add in that we’re still waiting to hear if Richard Gasquet will suffer anymore fines or bans due to his “cocaine kiss” and we can all agree that we hope 2010 keeps the focus on-court and not off-court.

Player Wish List.

And now a few wishes for individual players:

Dinara Safina: Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope that you focus more on winning a Slam this year than trying to be No.1 again.

Jelena Jankovic/Elena Dementieva: Figure out a way to finally win a Slam soon or else you both run the risk of being the biggest “bridemaids” of your generation.

Venus Williams: My wish is that you stay healthy. You are one of the best ambassadors for the game and we’d love to see you make another Grand Slam run.

Sam Querrey/John Isner/James Blake: My wish is that one of you make some kind of breatkthrough this year at a Grand Slam. And no, not make it to the quarters. I mean taking out Federer or Nadal en route to the semifinals or better. It’s the only way you will make it to the elite and, more important for U.S. Tennis fans, onto their radar screens.

Andy Roddick. My wish is probably the same one Andy has – another Grand Slam trophy under his Xmas tree.

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“The Best” in Tennis – 2009 Review.

Of course this being December, everyone is taking a look back at the year that was. Here’s my brief look back at the best in tennis for 2009.

Player of the Year – Kim Clijsters.
Yes I know Roger Federer had an amazing year, again, but Kim Clijsters’s title run at the U.S. Open was the story of the year not only for her exceptional play but also that it highlighted, unfairly perhaps, the lack of depth in the women’s game right now. If Clijsters had not won the Open, I doubt Justine Henin would have returned as she too senses an opportunity for more glory. Clijsters’s win in New York was a “tour-changer” and its impact will be felt in 2010 regardless how well Clijsters does next year.

Best Men’s Match of the Year. – Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick – Wimbledon Men’s Final.
Ok so this wasn’t quite the epic that Federer vs. Nadal was last year, but it certainly had it’s share of drama especially the fifth set “serve-off” that Federer barely won thus eclipsing Roddick’s dream of a Wimbledon title. One wonders if Roddick still thinks about that missed backhand volley that could have given him a two set to love lead in the match, but the respect Roddick earned worldwide will certainly be with him next year. (I know some would say Nadal vs. Verdasco in the Australian Open Semis was “the” match, but I have to give the edge here just because it was for the Wimbledon title.)

Best Women’s Match of the Year – Serena Williams vs. Elena Dementieva – Wimbledon Semifinals.
What impressed me the most was the ball striking in this one as the ladies hit the ball harder than any men’s match I’ve ever seen. Dementieva was oh so close to taking out the top seed but Serena’s perseverance not only paid off by winning this match, and then the finals against sister Venus, but did a lot to cement Serena as the female player of the decade.

Comeback Players of the Year – Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nikolay Davydenko.
I know people are expecting Kim Clijsters here but let’s face it, “Sveta’s” win at the French Open was a bit unexpected as many had already written her off as a one Slam wonder. Her consistent play throughout the year indicated that Sveta was hungry for more glory and I expect her to do well in 2010. As for Davydenko, many had forgotten him at the beginning of the year and his substandard play during the Slams. But his late season run including wins at Shanghai and the Barclays ATP Finals proved he was always in the mix.

Rising Star of the Year – Juan Martin Del Potro.
With his total beatdown of Rafael Nadal in the semis of the U.S. Open and then his amazing five set win over Roger Federer in the finals, Del Potro emerged from the pack of contenders to become “the” contender for Roger’s crown in 2010. How he handles his newfound fame, considering his rather shy nature, remains to be seen but do not count Delpo for any title next year.

And finally a special thanks to those players who retired this year including Marat Safin, Amelie Mauresmo, Fabrice Santoro and Ai Sugiyama. All of them brought their own unique gifts, spins and personalities to a game that desperately needs more players like them. I wish them all the best in their new lives.

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WTA Crystal Ball for 2010.

Now that the WTA season is over and the ladies are resting up for Australia, I thought it was time to look ahead and give my predictions for 2010. 2009 was a drama filled year and I expect even more next year. Players will be “ranked” according to what I think their year-end ranking will be for 2010.

1. Serena Williams – Even with the return of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, I don’t expect anyone to take over the top spot from Serena and expect her to win at least two Slams for 2010.

2. Caroline Wozniacki – “Sunshine” as she’s known on the tour will have another consistent year and will find herself in another Slam final. If she can win a big one remains to be seen but it will be hard to bet against her next year. Conditioning and her excessive match play may hurt her down the road.

3. Dinara Safina – A lot depends on Safina’s current back injury and her mental toughness for 2010. I can see her in a Slam final but she will have to dismiss whatever demons she has in order to make it back to the top spot.

4. Svetlana Kuznetsova – Despite her mental flaws, “Sveta” will always be a factor in 2010 and will probably make it to another Slam final. If she wins a Slam next year is entirely up to her. Watch out for her at the Australian Open as she finished 2010 in good shape healthwise.

5. Venus Williams – 2010 will be the last chance at glory for Venus as she turns 30 this year. Aside from Wimbledon, she’s not been a factor for a while at the other Slams and her knee could be a big issue. Plus the fact that no one tour is afraid of playing her could may next year very tough.

6-9. These slots will change depending on the names, i.e. Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Dementieva, etc. They could breakthrough and win a Slam, but let’s face it, shouldn’t they have done so already?

10. Kim Clijsters – Everybody keeps salivating over Henin’s return but Clijsters, who played lights out tennis at the U.S. Open, will still go into every tournament with nothing to lose and thus no pressure. I expect Kimmie to be a factor in Australia and a heavy favorite at the U.S. Open again.

Wildcards – Justine Henin will be the story at the Australian Open win or lose. It will all depend on her draws and I actually think the clay court season is where she will find the most success. She has more to lose than Kim Clijsters in her comeback so a Slam victory in 2010 is paramount.

Sam Stosur – Stosur finally won a WTA event in ’09 and will probably break into the top 10 next year. She’s got the game to win a big one, maybe even Wimbledon, but does she believe she can win is the question.

Maria Sharapova – Sharapova is finally getting back on track after a rocky 2009. If her serve starts clicking again, she could be a factor but probably not until Wimbledon.

Ana Ivanovic – 2010 will define Ivanovic’s entire career. If she can get over her mental and physical fatigue, she could work her way back into the top ten again. If she can’t, I could see her retiring early. Hope I’m wrong.

Melanie Oudin – Next year will be the real test for the feisty American to prove the U.S. Open run was no fluke. I definitely see her in the top 20 before too long. Perhaps the French Open will be her next surprise Slam as she says she likes the clay?

Amelie Mauresmo – There’s been no word yet on Mauresmo’s potential retirement but even if she decides to stick it out, 2010 will probably be her last year. Maybe she will finally go for broke and play with nothing to lose? If so, we could be in for a real treat.

Let me know what you think!

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Serena Dominating Doha; “Aggie” Gets In.

While Serena Williams continues dominantion in her Maroon Group play at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, the White Group suffered another injury withdrawal as Vera Zvonareva, who replaced the injured Dinara Safina, withdrew today after losing to Caroline Wozniacki earlier in the day.

Agnieska Radwanska will now take Zvonareva’s place tomorrow as she takes on Jelena Jankovic.

Serena is the only player confirmed for the semifinals as she easily beat Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4. Serena was extremely agressive in her play and kept looking for winners the entire match. When she won, she let out a primal yell that let everybody know she was ready to claim the whole event.

Venus Williams kept her chances alive by winning a topsy-turvy match against Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4. Kuznetsova will now have to win her match tomorrow against Dementieva to stay in the event.

If you are trying to figure the current standings at Doha, click here.

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Doha Action – Dementieva Survives.

Just a quick roundup of today’s round one action at the WTA Finale at Doha. Elena Dementieva survived her opening match against Venus Williams. Venus was up a set and a break but Elena managed to tough it out and win 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Venus had multiple opportunities to close out the match but couldn’t figure out a way to win which is a recurring pattern for her this year.

In other matches, Victoria Azarenka easily cruised over a weary Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-3 while Serena Williams overcame an ankle injury to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (6), 7-5.

Dinara Safina will play tomorrow in hopes of remaining number one at the end of the year as she has a slight edge over Serena in the rankings.

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Chaos Reigns In Women’s Draw at U.S. Open

We’re now into Day 4 at the U.S. Open and it’s hard to sum up the chain of events that has occurred. Half (or 16) of the seeded players are now gone. And except for Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, the rest of the seeds still in it don’t look like they may survive much longer.

Take for example Dinara Safina. She survived yet another error-filled match against Kristina Barrois to win it 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3. Barrois, who had flashes of serve and volley brilliance, couldn’t seize the moment. Safina deserves credit for just “winning ugly” but one wonders how long it can go on before someone catches her. The only good news for Safina is that no other seeds remain in her side of the draw until the semis, but again, that doesn’t mean she is a sure bet.

Someone whose game and mind held up very well was American Melanie Oudin who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by defeating favorite Elena Dementieva 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Oudin matched Dementieva’s power game shot for shot but what impressed me the most was that she wasn’t afraid to go after the winner and her continued belief that she would win the match. Oudin did get tight serving for the second set at 5-3 where she lost her serve, but then was able to break back to win in. The third set was all Oudin despite suffering from a leg injury that almost seemed to derail her. Dementieva did not help her cause by failing to hold serve until her last service game at 2-5 when it was too late. Oudin, hitting a big serve at 40-30 match point, jumped for joy to the roar of the twenty plus thousand on hand.

The next match was just as dramatic but again more for the blown opportunities by both players rather than stellar play. Number five seed Jelena Jankovic lost to Yaroslava Shvedova 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-7 (6). Jankovic, though playing her trademark defense, never could gain momentum throughout the match while Shvedova would go from hitting amazing winners to committing silly errors. Jankovic had two match points but blew them and lost the match when Shvedova finally ended the misery by serving an ace.

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki both won easily today setting up a potential fourth round encounter.

Maria Sharapova, if she wins tonight, would face Oudin in the next round. One would have to think the winner of that match would be the favorite to reach the semis.

Could the stars be aligning for another potential Serena/Maria final ala the 2007 Australian Open when Sharapova, then number one, was completely beaten down by the resurgent Serena? Is it time for some karmic/tennis payback?

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Day 4 Open Predix – Safina Meltdown Watch

Before we get to the predix of Day Four, don’t forget to tune into tomorrow to “Safina Meltdown Watch” where the world will find out if Dinara Safina can find another to pull herself from the brink of complete brainfreeze in front of Kristina Barrois of Germany. Many actually give Barrois, a top 100 player, a chance against the overanalyzed Russian.

No other matches jump out as potential upsets. On the women’ s side Elena Dementieva will take on the fiesty American Melanie Oudin, Maria Sharapova takes on American Christina McHale while Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova also see action.

On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic takes on Australian Carsten Ball who got to the finals of L.A. and Andy Roddick take on Marc Gicquel. James Blake takes on Olivier Rochus. Blake landed in a soft part of the draw where, if wins today, could take on Tommy Robredo next round and then possibly Roger Federer in the fourth round. It would be nice to see Blake make something happen at the Open since the rest of his year has been rather sub-par.

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