Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Nicole Vaidisova Retires Aged 20

Obviously someone didn't read my post from last week about Nicole Vaidisova. In it I said that although she's not been playing well recently (and that is a HUGE understatement) I was confident she would get her game back on track and get back to the top one day. It would seem Nicole does not agree as there are reports she has rejected the offer of a wildcard to play in next weeks Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, pulled out of all remaining tournaments this season and called time on her once promising tennis career.

And what is the former world number 7 planning for the next chapter of her life? Apparently she's going to be a housewife as the reports also state that she is to wed her boyfriend, fellow Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek. While this is not the first time such rumours have cropped up but this time I have a bad feeling it might be true. Of course I have no idea what kind of guy Stepanek is but looks-wise she could do a whole lot better. Oops did that sound shallow?

Well I for one am deeply saddened by this decision. This girl had bucket loads of potential and in my opinion had future world number 1 written all over her. However its her life, and if her heart really isn't in it then she should be free to do what she wants. Nicole, it was good while it lasted. All the best you beautiful Goddess.

Big Names Dropping Like Flies

First of all sorry I didn't do a post for yesterdays results, I had one or two internet issues but I'm up and running again now. The big news from Day 5 was the Maria Sharapova was sent packing by pocket rocket know as Jie Zheng, 6-3 2-6 6-3 the score. Its been quite an up and down season for Maria so far, with a first round loss in Australia and a title in Memphis before coming here. The 2nd, 4th and 5th seeds, Caroline Wozniaki, Elena Dementieva and Agnieszka Radwanska all made it through to the last 16 with few problems.

On to Day 6 where there were upsets aplenty. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (seriously why does she need so many names) beat down Victoria Azarenka in straight sets 7-6 6-2. Number 9 seed Flavia Pennetta lost to in form player Shahar Peer in three sets while Alisa Kleybanova squeezed past US Open champ Kim Clijsters in a third set tiebreak. Jelena Jankovic almost joined those three at the airport but battled her way to a 2-6 7-6 6-4 victory over Sara Errani.

The draw has opened up nicely and everyone will be back on court tomorrow when the quarterfinalists will be decided.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Day 4 of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells saw relatvely few upsets, as the majority of seeded players progressed to round 3. However there was a huge shock when top seed and Roland Garros champ Svetlana Kuznetsova was ousted by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 4-6 6-1. That's a great win for Carla who hasn't hit the headlines much since she beat Venus Williams at last years Aussie Open. Sveta will now turn her attention to Miami where hopefully she won't have the pressure of being the number 1 seed.

The other upset was somewhat less shocking as it involved Ana 'Downward Spiral' Ivanovic who lost to the world number 63 Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 6-4. Poor Ana hasn't been the same since she won the 2008 French Open and still isn't showing any signs of resuscitating her career. I'm confident she will get back to the top one day, she's too good not to, but I am beginning to get impatient. Making matters worse, Ana was the runner up here last year so her all ready low ranking is set to plummet even further.

Potential titlists Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic all won in straight sets, but 2 time Indian Wells champion Daniela Hantuchova was bundled out 6-3 7-5 by Roberta Vinci. Looking ahead to tomorrow there should be some good matches with Maria Sharapova vs Jie Zheng and Caroline Wozniaki vs Maria Kirilenko both on centre court.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Top Players Struggle in the Desert

Today I am happy. I am happy because some of my predictions actually came true. I shall warn you now, this almost never happens.

If you read yesterday's post you'll see I said Wozniaki, Sharapova and Dementieva should have had easy matches. While on paper their opponents didn't look too intimidating all three struggled to reach the third round. Wozniaki was forced to come from a break down in the 3rd set to beat Vania King 5-7 6-2 6-4, Sharapova fought back from a set and 3-1 down to defeat Vera Dushevina 4-6 7-5 6-2 while Dementieva recovered from a second set blip in style downing Olga Govortsova 6-4 4-6 6-0. These gals better get their games together soon because the competition will only get harder from here.

Also in yesterdays post I called Gisela Dulko 'unpredictable'. This is because while she's not a top player or Grand Slam contender I believe on her day she can beat almost anyone on tour. Well she outdid herself this time beating La Petite Goddess Justine Henin 6-2 1-6 6-4. At least Henin will have an official ranking now.

My other prediction was that Elena Baltacha would cause an upset, which she did edging past Na Li 7-6 2-6 7-6. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think rankings-wise that's the biggest win of her career. Good on you girl!

Tomorrow sees top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova play her first match of the tournament, with Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and the Serbs Ivanovic and Jankovic all playing too. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to watch the Lady GaGa Telephone video for the 50th time. If you havn't seen it I recommend you do. Now. It is epic, genius and life changing.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Amercians Go 2-2 on Day 2

Home players had mixed fortunes on the second day of action down in Indian Wells. Bethanie Mattek-Sands won in straight sets against Yaroslava Shvedova while 16 year old Sloane Stephens played and won her first ever WTA tour main draw match, beating Lucie Hradecka 7-6 7-6. Is she a possible star of the future? Too early to tell but hopefully since there isn't a lot of young American talent coming through. Speaking of young American talent, Melanie Oudin fell to a disappointing 3-6 6-3 6-0 loss to Roberta Vinci, which further compounds my theory that her US Open quarterfinal was a bit of a fluke. Shenay Perry lost out to fellow qualifier Karolina Sprem 2-6 6-4 3-6.

There were wins for Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro and tour's second best mother (after Kim Clijsters of course) Sybille Bammer who both needed 3 sets to progress. However my tip for a potential upset, Michelle Larcher de Brito, went down 6-2 6-2 to Alexandra Dulgheru. Fortunately for me my other tip Elena Baltacha did make it to round 2 by beating wild card Alexa Glatch yesterday.

The action heats up tomorrow as the seeded players start to play their opening matches. Caroline Wozniaki, Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva should all have easy matches while Justine Henin faces unpredictable Argentine Gisela Dulko.

Oh, and if you were wondering who's foot that is in that big ol' cast its poor Anna-Lena Gronefeld. I mentioned the other day that she had withdrawn and now we can see why. Get well soon ALG!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Justine Through, Jelena Out

Comeback Queen of the moment Justine Henin eased through to the second round in Indian Wells, beating Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2 6-2. Since this is the third tournament of her return she will get an official ranking when its over, which should be relatively high considering she's already got a Grand Slam final in her pocket. There were also wins for former top 10 players Patty Schnyder, Anna Chakvetadze ad Kimiko Date-Krumm who beat Tathiana Garbin, Anne Keothavong and Melina Czink respectively.

Not such good news for the eternal enigma that is Jelena Dokic who was crushed 6-0 6-3 by Vera Dushevina. Poor girl, she's been through a lot but things never seem to go right for her. The talent is there, no doubt, but the former top 5 player is seriously lacking in consistency.

Anyway the order of play for tomorrow is out and since its still first round action there are no seeded players playing. All eyes will be on home girls Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, with Sloane Stephens having a chance to continue the good form she showed during qualifying. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Quote of the Day

"That's the great thing about tennis, is that every tournament you start from zero. It's a new challenge."

Daniela Hantuchova

Who's In?

Here are the 12 players who have qualified for this weeks BNP Paribas Open (ranking in brackets):

Elena Baltacha (64)
Petra Martic (76)
Karolina Sprem (93)
Yung-Jan Chan (97)
Akgul Amanmuradova (98)
Viktoriya Kutuzova (99)
Shaney Perry (103)
Michelle Larcher de Brito (116)
Tvetsana Pironkova (127)
Edina Gallovits (130)
Nuria Llagostera Vives (140)
Sloane Stephens (747)
Tamarine Tanasugarn (75) shall also be in the main draw as a lucky loser after Anna-Lena Groenefeld withdrew.
Special congratulations are in order for Sloane Stephens who required a wild card to even get into the qualifying rounds but won both her matches, losing just 7 games in total. Will these ladies cause an upset or two in the main draw? Only time will tell, but if I had to choose I'd say Baltacha or Larcher de Brito would be the ones to do it.
Also the schedule of play for day 1 has been announced, with Justine Henin the main attraction on centre court and Jelena Dokic and Patty Schnyder also in action. All 32 seeded players receive a bye into round 2 so won't play until later in the week

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


OK so I'm pretty sure nobody's actually reading this but if you are and you like what you see please come and follow me on twitter. I would be ever so pleased :)


Monday, 8 March 2010

Lost Cause?

Today I am going to lament the downward spiral of one of my personal favorite players. She was tall, powerful and strikingly beautiful. She was a true Goddess of the court. She was Nicole Vaidisova.

Oh my, the way I keep referring to her in the past tense it sounds like she's died! She is not dead, but her tennis career practically is. After turning professional in 2003 Nicole went onto win 5 WTA tour singles titles, including 3 in 3 weeks, before she turned 17. This girl was a prodigy. Blessed with a flowing service motion that unleashed huge serves and a forehand so powerful and accurate it had many an opponent trembling in her tennis shoes. Semi-final finishes at the 2006 French Open and 2007 Australian Open and a top 10 ranking followed during the next few seasons and few would have argued that Vaidisova was destined for anywhere but the top flight of the game.

Alas this is not where she ended up. A mixture of illness, injuries and possibly even her relationship with fellow Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek led to a shocking loss of form and her ranking plummeted. In my opinion one of her most demoralising losses occurred at the beginning of the month when, in a small ITF tournament in Louisiana she was beaten by Britain's Heather Watson. Now Watson is not a bad up and coming player and the reigning junior US Open champion but the girl is barely 17. Nicole used to be the young upstart teaching the more experienced players a lesson on the court but now the reverse is true.

However it is too soon to write Nicole Vaidisova off completely. Time is on her side as she does not turn 21 until April this year. She is undeniably talented, despite questionable movement and a backhand that is no match for her forehand, but her confidence appears to have disintegrated. If she can get this back and work hard on the practice court there is no reason she cannot be a force in the game once more. I for one just hope that one day soon Nicole Vaidisova can live up to her Goddess potential.

The Week Ahead

So the WTA tour (not the Sony Ericsson WTA tour anymore. Although Sony Ericsson will continue to sponsor the tour until 2012. Apparently they want to keep it a secret though as neither the tour nor the season ending championships will bear their name) is gearing up for the first big tournament since the Australian Open: the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

This tournament is robbed of carrying the prestige it really deserves due to the fact that it is continually boycotted by both Williams sisters. But thinking back to the horrendous, and allegedly racist abuse from the crowd they both suffered back in 2001 I don't blame them. Almost a decade later the wounds are still hurting. Anyway its not like Serena cares. She has much better things to do like attend Oscars parties looking FIERCE! (see photo above. and do people still say fierce?)

So with no Williamses and Dinara Safina still out with a back injury French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will be the top seed, followed by Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Elena Dementieva. You know, my heart sinks when I see Wozniacki seeded so highly at such a major event. Sure she's a nice girl and showed real guts in Doha but in my opinion she hasn't got the game to justify such a high ranking.

The main draw doesn't get underway until Wednesday but the qualifying rounds will be played first. Britain's Elena Baltacha is the top seed with Tamarine Tanasugarn and the ever noisey Michelle Larcher de Brito other notable names in the draw.

Finally, my predicitons: the slumping Serbs Jankovic and Ivanovic will each have another poor result on their 2010 records, and up-and-comer such as Kleybanova, Pavlyuchenkova or Lisiki will make a good run to the semi/final but a more established player like Dementieva or Azarenka will be left holding the cup at the end of the fortnight.

First Post!!!

Why hello there! Firstly I'd like to say thanks for reading my new blog, if indeed there is anyone actually reading this...

So my name is Colin and tennis is my hobby, my passion and my obsession. I decided it might be fun to make a wee blog where I could report the latest tennis news and results and give my thoughts and opinions on the sport. I personally prefer the 'ladies' game (although some of those gals aint no ladies) because of the unpredictability, the drama and the fashion so this is the side of the game I'll be blogging about for the most part. Female professional tennis players are incredible. They are beautiful. They are Goddesses. Hope you enjoy reading!

So if you do exist and did just read this why not leave me a comment to introduce yourself? I would be ever so pleased!