Monday, January 30, 2012

Martina Hingis at 2012 Australian Open Women's Trophy Presentation

Figures, the time I decide to skip watching it Martina is a part of it :D.  Looks like it wasn't much of a contest though, a bagel ouch!.

I think Martina did the same thing to Venus back in '97.  Though I thought Maria's speech was lovely.  Very humble.

I wonder what Victoria and Martina are discussing as they look at the names on the trophy.

Maybe she was asking Martina about hers (given that she won the thing 3 times).

I like Martina had my money on Kvitova.  Good thing I didn't make a wager I would have lost big time! :D.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roger Federer says not to feel sorry for yet another loss to Nadal

Despite losing to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday, Roger Federer says, "Don't feel too sorry for me. You look at that I haven't lost in five months or something - it's not that bad.

"Obviously I would have loved to have come through and gotten a crack, a chance, at winning the title here again. It's been one of the most successful tournaments in my life here. It's the ninth [straight] time I am in the semi-finals.

"Clearly I'm disappointed. But then again, [what's] important is the reaction from now... 'Where do I go from here?' I need to have a good reaction like I showed after the US Open."

The fact that Nadal is now 18-9 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and 2-8 in Grand Slam championship matches, is not lost on Federer. But it doesn't concern him. Titles matter.

"I respect it," admitted the 16-time major champion. "I think he's doing great against me. It is what it is. At the end I care about my titles, if I'm happy or not as a person. Head to heads for me are not the most important. If I beat Andre [Agassi] 10 times in a row or Lleyton [Hewitt] many times in a row, at the end of the day I don't care.

Asked whether Nadal saved his best tennis for Federer, the Swiss said, "I don't know if it's true, [but] it's my assumption.

"I feel he plays really good against me... I always think he plays a bit better against me than against other players, but that's good for him.

"I was slightly disappointed, obviously, leaving centre court, because I felt like my game was good and I could have done something in the final potentially. But I don't have to worry about that now anymore. It's fine. I feel okay now. It's in the past already."

The former World No. 1 is next scheduled to compete at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, an ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard-court event in Rotterdam, from 13 February.

Federer drops to a 63-9 record at the Australian Open, where he is a four-time former champion. He was bidding to win his 500th tour-level hard-court match. In the Open Era (since 1968), only Andre Agassi has more wins on hard courts (596 wins).


I could do the usual, and bitch and moan about yet another loss.  Another missed opportunity, and how many chances he had, but I think I like Roger's approach better.

I have no doubt that as long as he stays healthy the way he is playing he will be in another Grand Slam final this year (probably more then one).  And of course there's also the summer Olympics.

For those interested the score was 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

I would be lying if I didn't admit to being a little bitter about the result but at the same time not as upset as I have been in previous  years because as I've said above the year is just beginning.  

As for Nadal, well he'll have to get past Novak Djokovic first :P.  So good on ya Roger thanks for another awesome tournament :).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kim Clijsters 'Aussie Kim' exits Australian Open for the last time

Kim Clijsters' defence of her Australian Open title ended at the hands of Victoria Azarenka, with the Belarusian overcoming a second-set wobble to book a place in her maiden grand slam final.
Clijsters arrived in Melbourne in no sort of form following a torrid time with injuries. She ground her way into the semi-finals, having saved match points against Li Na, but Azarenka proved too tough to crack despite the No. 3 seed showing signs of nerves for a chunk of the match.
It was a fitful display from Azarenka, who started well only to falter in the face of a barrage of quality from Clijsters. But just when the Melbourne crowd sensed the woman they have taken to their hearts would come through, Azarenka found her stride to dash their hopes and claim a 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory.
If there were any nerves inside Azarenka, she quickly dispelled them by hitting crisply from the back of the court. She seized on anything short from Clijsters and a powerful forehand return clinched a break.
Azarenka mixed power with guile in the opening set. She saved four break points in the fourth game - notably with a stunning drop shot that even the fleet of foot Clijsters did not attempt to track down.
Clijsters forced Azarenka to serve for the opening set and she faced up to the challenge in style, opening the game with her first ace of the match and getting the set in the bag at the third time of asking.
There were signs of an upturn in Clijsters' game towards the end of the first set and she carried the momentum forward and forced an error from Azarenka to break.
As Clijsters' game improved, Azarenka's went badly awry. Her first serve percentage in the second set dipped to a woeful 35% and she threw in 16 unforced errors. Azarenka's second set malaise was summed up in the third game as she sent a smash six feet over the baseline with the court at her mercy and it enabled Clijsters to level the match.
Azarenka steeled herself to hold an epic first game of the final set and it seemed to fill her with belief as winners flew off both wings in the following game to earn her a break to love.
There was tremendous tension in the Rod Laver Arena with breaks of serve traded at alarming regularity. Clijsters got the match back on serve at 3-4, but Azarenka broke again and with the match in her grasp she seized the moment to clinch victory on her own serve.
Azarenka threw in an awful double fault at match point, but an error from Clijsters handed her the victory. It was a disappointing way for Clijsters to bow out of her final Australian Open, but it moves Azarenka to within one game of a first slam and the world No. 1 ranking.
I don't know if I would go as far as saying that the way Kim lost was disappointing.  Maybe a little (she did have that break point at 4/3 in the 3rd),  had she won that it probably would have been a different match.  

But I thought that despite all that she put up a great fight and made it a very competitive 2nd & 3rd set.  
She actually did a whole lot better then I thought she would I didn't hold out much hope of her winning it I knew she had a shot but I also knew it would be extremely tough.  
I'm more disappointed and sad about the fact that this is probably Kimmy's last Australian Open.  
Judging by crowd reaction people are really going to miss her down under.  I'm just hoping she stays healthy so she can compete in the rest of the Grand Slams maybe finally win one of the ones she's missing like the French or Wimbledon.  
That would be a wonderful way to end a career (although a big part of me wishes she changes her mind about not continuing at the end of the year, though I know it's probably highly doubtful).
She may not have won, but she certainly put up a hell of fight.  Her fight against Li Na in the quarters was unforgettable and an absolute classic.  
In this tournament she had shown more then once that she has the heart of a champion.  I will so miss seeing her play in Australia.  Thank you for the memories Aussie Kim!.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Martina Hingis Australian Open Q & A

Q.  What's it like to be back?  You had so much success here.

MARTINA HINGIS:  Oh, it's great to be back.  I mean, the city where you had success, it's always nice to be back.  You know, it's been five years, so it's nice to have played on these courts where I used to.

It's nice to watch tennis, the last couple night sessions as well, and to watch great tennis.  Djokovic and Nadal yesterday was pretty fun.

Q.  Looking back, it still amazes me that you were No. 1 in the world a little 16.  Does it amaze you?
MARTINA HINGIS:  Well, actually, yes.  Yesterday I got to like 15 years ago a lady who was like my fan, and she gave me an envelope of all the clippings from the whole year '97, so you see the victory here like Sydney and the whole '97 year.  It was like amazing.

You look at the photos.  How young today at 16, you see the juniors playing, and it's just everything has been pushed back for like about two, three years.

 Yeah, baby face when I look at the photos.  I'm like, Oh.  I was able to make great things, making these victories, it was amazing, yeah.

 Q.  How did you do it?  You didn't have great power.  The Williams sisters were just coming on then.  How did you do it?
MARTINA HINGIS:  I think they didn't control their power yet at that time, because we had great matches.  At that time I still had the strategy and everything was just, it was different.

Now it's the power and the control and the racquets speed, the balls, the court.  Everything has made progress.  It's normal.  The sport evolves, and so did tennis, women's tennis.

At that time I still was able to sneak in few dropshots and angles.  It's still nice to see when girls do it today, but you just have less time.  Then it was still probably the right point and the right time to do it.

Q.  What would your advice be to Caroline who plays a similar not power strategic game?
MARTINA HINGIS:  Similar.  I didn't step back.  I tried not to let them push me.  Eventually you play one Williams, you play the second, you play Davenport, you play Capriati, who were all pushing forward.  They were stronger than me.  It's hard to play three, four players like that in a row.  It's three setter after three setter after three setter.

I couldn't come out on top all the time.  In the beginning I did most of the time.  Today you just can't let yourself get pushed back.  That's what she has to do.  She has to try to move in, step forward, otherwise there is always going to be somebody coming on top of her at a Grand Slam.
She's a great player.  I wish I would see her come in a little bit more.  Not at the net.  Yeah, eventually if you come in you end up with a volley.  But you just can't let yourself push back today, not against Sharapova, Clijsters, Serena, not somebody like that.

Q.  Not every player had great hands and touch like you did where they could go inside the court and play mid‑court.
MARTINA HINGIS:  Yeah, but every time she tried to do it, I mean, I watched match against Kim yesterday, so I mean, every time she tried to do it, just you have to have the mentality to try to keep doing it in practice so it becomes automatic.  You can't just do to two, three points in a match.
Maybe even if you lose a match or two sometimes, even against other players, you just have to try to keep doing it against lower‑ranked players to be able to eventually do it against the top players.

Q.  Do you think it would still be possible to win Grand Slam tournaments with your style of play today?
MARTINA HINGIS:  Of course.  Of course you're going to believe that.  There are players even now that I'm playing at the academy, junior girls, and you see Putintseva, Gavrilova who was No. 1 in juniors in 2010.  I'm hitting with these girls when I'm around, and you got to believe that.  I mean, I can't go and practice with someone I don't believe in.  (Smiling.)
Q.  You were able to make a major impact at a very young age as a very young teenager.  
Pretty much you, Serena, to a degree, are pretty much the last two that's been able to do that.  Now like Kvitova had...
MARTINA HINGIS:  Venus was my age.

Q.  Kvitova was 20, 21.  It's a little unusual now, don't you think, to see the really young teenagers come up and be really big players?
MARTINA HINGIS:  I think basically it's also because the rules changed.  It's been pushed back for like two, three years.  As I said, at 16 we were open and free to play.  Now it's only 18.
I think the junior girls, they lose a year or two of playing each other and not having the possibility to play you know, 15 or 20 events a year at least.

I think it's a shame, but I always said that.  I think, okay, we all started very young, at 14, 15 years of age, but that's the time when you learn most.  Capriati was young, Steffi was young, Arantxa, we all were 14, 15 when we got on tour, Seles.

We all became No. 1 in the world, so it's not a matter of where your point is.  Okay it's gotten more physical, so probably it'll be pushed back for two years.

I think from 16, 17 on, definitely you should be open to play whatever you want.

It's always been my belief.  I think 18, it's later.  You still have the opportunity, the possibility do it.
But to learn at that age for a girl, it's a little harder than whether or not your 16.

Q.  The other day Martina Navratilova was talking about possibly changing the women's ranking to be more weighted to reflect who you've actually beaten.  What do you feel about that?

MARTINA HINGIS:  This is not my job to decide.  (Smiling.)

 Q.  There is some controversy about Wozniacki being No. 1 and not having won a Grand Slam.

MARTINA HINGIS:  She's the most consistent.  She can't change that the other girls are injured and she's there and plays and fights.  That's her right to do.

Q.  Where do you stand on the grunting issue?  The WTA issued a statement.

 MARTINA HINGIS:  I don't know.  It wasn't really my issue, so when I played the players like Sharapova or Seles, I don't know, if you keep winning you don't think about it.  The moment you're losing it's probably more distracting.  I don't know.
Q.  Did it ever put you off?

MARTINA HINGIS:  No, not really.  No.  It's just sometimes when they were stretching a little bit more, you're like, What are you doing?  The more they had to stretch the louder it got.
Or sometimes it's like a heavy grunt and it's on the service line and the ball doesn't have any weight on it.  You're like, Okay.

But, no, I mean, basically you just got to focus on what you're doing and focus on yourself and try to do your job.

But I think it's more of the spectators.  I think it's like they're watching, and I think it's more of an issue with the spectators.

Q.  So of the juniors who you're working with, who is the really good one that you think can get to, like you were saying before, maybe top 5, No. 1?

MARTINA HINGIS:  Well, there is five girls that right now I work with when I'm around or when they're around.  But it's more of a beginning.  It's a global consulting thing, so we'll see how it's going to evolve in the future.

But there is definitely the junior girl who is playing here also, Yulia Putintseva.  Hopefully she can go all the way.

 Then there is Daria Gavrilova, Naomi Broady, English girl.  Sasha Vickery who played here as well.  Unfortunately, not very successful.  Naomi Broady.  I said Naomi.  Alize Lim will be a French girl.
Q.  Do they listen as well as you listened to your mother?

MARTINA HINGIS:  Well, it's only the beginning, so you got to trust each other.  Yeah, definitely.  But in the beginning you got to find your way.  It's new to me; it's new to them.
But I love the work.  I love it.  I don't know.  I wasn't always best listener.  I had have to a hard hand.  I needed that.  So my mom was perfect for me.

 Q.  There was a lot of talk in the first few rounds about the matches in the women's draw not being very close.  Do you think there is a problem of depth in women's tennis at the moment?
MARTINA HINGIS:  Are you serious?  Are you kidding?  I mean, now with the great matches we see, Lisicki played already against Kuznetsova.  That was a great match.  Now she plays Sharapova and it was a great match.  I don't know.

First rounds, come on.  How about Djokovic killing everyone in the first three rounds or Federer not losing a set, more than three games in a set.

I mean, it's just sometimes that's the way it is.  If champions are champions, they're well‑prepared and they're going to play well from the beginning.

Q.  So putting you on the spot here, assuming Kvitova and Sharapova win today and you have Clijsters and Azarenka on the other side.  Obviously very close.  Who do you see coming through, or at least the two players to the finals maybe?

MARTINA HINGIS:  If I had to put money on the beginning when I was asked, I put my money on Kvitova because I really love game they plays, the fluency she has on her strokes and the serve, and also now more confidence when I saw the finals at Wimbledon.

But I was very impressed by Sharapova's match against Lisicki the other night.
And Kim, defending champion, it's hard to choose.  I wonder how Kvitova is going to play, you know, someone like ‑‑ well, I don't know now they're playing, so probably you don't want to put like somebody up front.

But I would like to see how she's going to play someone like Sharapova or Clijsters in a Grand Slam.

 Q.  So you've met Kvitova.  You know her.  Mentally is she where you think she should be?  She won Wimbledon.  Do you think she has to mature a little bit?  Sometimes in the matches she's up and down, as good as she is.

MARTINA HINGIS:  Yeah, but the one in Wimbledon against Sharapova is just like, you can't play any better.  I mean, you felt like she could step it up when she needed to; she served great; she showed no nerves.

I already saw one of her matches against Kim, in Coubertin, that final.  She's a true champion.  Sooner or later I think we'll see her at the top spot probably.  If it's not going to happen here, I think it's a question of time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roger Federer too tough for Del Potro moves to semis at Aussie Open

We seem to have been here before. As the line-up for the semifinals takes shape, Roger Federer is the first man into position, comfortably getting his feet under the table with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Juan Martin Del Potro in just a minute under two hours. It seemed like old times, indeed.

It was Federer’s 31st consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal (he has won all but three of them), his 30thsemifinal place in all and – feel free to gasp here – his 1,000th match at tour level (clearly he must have been a child bride; either that Methuselah’s God-son is wearing well). And he made it look so easy.

“It's a big milestone, I agree,” he said cheerfully. “It's a lot of matches and a lot tennis. Either I have been around for a long time or I'm extremely fit. You decide which way you want to describe it. I don't know. But I'm happy.”

Del Potro is still on his way back from his annus horribilis of 2010 when a wrist injury kept him out of action for most of the season. Last year was spent forcing his way back up the rankings from No.257 to No.11 and now, as he hopes and everyone else expects, the next few months will be spent trying to force his way back into the world’s top five. He is fit, he is ready and he is dangerous. And Federer sploshed him.

Then again, Federer has been looking awfully good for a few months now. At the end of Grand Slam season last year, the once-mighty Fed had come away with nothing: not a major trophy to call his own for the first time since 2003. He had also turned 30 in August so as the pundits prepared their obits and Fed’s followers chewed their fingernails down to the knuckles, the man himself took a few weeks off and had a think. Well, he had a rest and a think. What he obviously decided was that there was quite a bit of gas left in the tank – he was ready for the fray once more.

When he returned to the circuit at his hometown event in October, he was renewed, refreshed and revived. He won there and went on to mop up the Bercy title and the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals in London. The Fed was back and he meant business. But as he is the first to point out, that was a while ago where the conditions were different and the stakes were lower. Not even he knew if he could carry that form into the new season and through the Australian Open.

“I guess you're always a little worried that when you come back you're like not going to play as good and conditions are going to be different,” Federer said. “That was all indoors at the end of the season. This is clearly slow outdoor hard courts, so you're never quite sure if you're going to adjust and are you going to be moving as well or is it going to be completely different movement just because it is slower‑paced courts.”

He need not have worried. He has not dropped a set so far and has been looking sharper the longer the tournament has gone on. Del Potro posed the greatest challenge in the first set, was tricky to put away in the second and then was defenceless in the third. As Federer moved to set point in the second set, bringing a nine-minute game to a conclusion, he let out a roar, a sound we have not heard for a while. It is not Federer getting excited, it is not Federer getting frustrated – it is simply Fed assuming complete control.

“I knew the danger of playing Juan Martin, so potentially it was my big test,” Federer explained. “But I kind of looked at the Tomic match as a big test for me, seeing where my rhythm was, how I was playing, because the first three rounds I didn't get much rhythm.  For me it was maybe that match. Today I was much more relaxed about playing Juan Martin for some reason, even though he's got the much bigger record as a player.”

What also must have relaxed him was his overall performance. Everything was working almost perfectly and Del Potro could not find a way to hurt him – and many a poor bloke has found himself in that situation when Fed is in his pomp.

“I'm moving well,  I'm serving well,  I'm hitting the ball clean,” Federer said in his own, inimitable style. “Today I thought on a very hot day with fast conditions, I was able to control the ball. I didn't really struggle too much on his serve today for some reason.  I was able to return great, and I think that was a big key. Then I think I was serving the right way, even though I didn't have the highest first serve percentage.”

So, the Fed has given himself 10-out-of-10. That’s nice. But he did pause to assess Del Potro’s performances over the past couple of weeks – and he knows that the big man will be back to haunt him in the not-too-distant future.

“I still believe he's right there in the group behind the top four,” Fed explained. “If that means five or 11, I don't think it matters much. He's right there. He's going to make another move and another push this year, I think. I will definitely see him in the top 8 at the end of the year.  He'll get many more chances this year.  It's a long year and it's only the beginning. So for me, I'm happy I'm playing well, but I also see that he's actually in good shape, too.”

And with that, Fed was off to prepare for match No.1001 of his extraordinary career.

Could that match have gone any better?.

I think not.  Dominant and in control.

Playing like the master that he is.  Simply awesome.  For the first time since 2009 (I think) It's Nadal vs Federer bring it on!.

Also 1000th match?.  I get exhausted just thinking about it!.  On to 1001!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clijsters strong moves through to the semis at Aussie Open!

MELBOURNE, Australia — Defending champion Kim Clijsters of Belgium beat top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) Monday to reach the Australian Open semifinals.
The four-time major winner next plays third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a player from Belarus who posted a 6-7 (0-7), 6-0, 6-2 victory over No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland to move into the semis of a Grand Slam tournament for the second time.
Azarenka is one of three players who can become No. 1 in the world. The 21-year-old Wozniacki, who has yet to win a major singles title, needed to reach the semifinals to retain the top ranking.
No. 2 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and No. 4 Maria Sharapova of Russia also have chances to rise to No. 1.
Clijsters, seeded 11th, has had a roller-coaster ride into the Australian Open semis for the seventh time. She twisted her ankle and had to save four match points in a fourth-round victory over Li Na of China in a rematch of last year's final.
It was as hot as 95 degrees during the Clijsters-Wozniacki match.
"I had to work really hard for it," Clijsters said. "Caroline is a great fighter. I was happy to get through, and not in a three-setter because it's so hot."
Clijsters and Wozniacki each started nervously, with three service breaks to start the match. But the 28-year-old Belgian dictated play from her first hold in the fourth game until she was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second.
Clijsters let her guard down and allowed Wozniacki back into the match. With the ninth game of the second set tied at 30, Wozniacki won the next two points to break Clijsters and then held serve to get it back on level terms.
Clijsters had not lost any of her eight previous tiebreakers at Melbourne Park, and she hit a backhand down the line to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker against Wozniacki.
Clijsters set up double match point with a cross-court forehand winner and sealed it with a volley.
Clijsters had 39 winners and 40 unforced errors, compared with 13 winners and 26 unforced errors for Wozniacki.

Well, the ankle seems to be holding up very well!.  
This was a wonderfully solid performance from Kim with the exception of that small hiccup in the second set that allowed Wozniacki to take it to a tie-break, but Clijsters held her ground (good to see).  A hard fought match. 
The semis are going to be really tough I think but given Kim's experience I think she's got a real shot of making it through (perhaps even benefiting from some nerves on the part of her opponent which are sure to be there).  
But I guess the same can be said for Kim, I think it'll be a case of who can hold their nerve better.  It should be an excellent match either way.  
Congrats Kim, for your last Aussie Open you're certainly making it memorable! :).  Thanks for making this one slightly less dramatic! :D.

Martina Hingis Novafm interview

Monday, January 23, 2012

Roger Federer moves into the quarters

Ah, to play an icon, a hero, someone you idolize.

That’s the fate that became Bernard Tomic when the draw dangled 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in front of him in a fourth-round match, played under the lights, at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

There’s no denying that that kind of occasion presents a challenge, but taking advantage of the opportunity doesn’t come complete with a guaranteed high percentage of success. And as much as Tomic -- and a stadium full of fans -- hoped that he could possibly create the upset, it was not to be.

Federer easily displayed why he’s Federer, the guy many believe to be the greatest player to ever play the game. The third seed, Federer remains in the hunt for a fifth Australian Open title after a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win, while Tomic took a step to the exit of Melbourne Park.

“For me, it’s a great pleasure and honor to play him,” said Tomic, whose best career Grand Slam outing was making it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals last season. “You can just only get better if you lose against him.”

The 19-year-old Tomic -- currently ranked a very respectable No. 38 -- has no reason to hang his head. He put up a stunning week of tennis to seize a fourth-round berth against Federer. It was his second loss to Federer -- the Swiss Master took him in four sets during the 2011 Davis Cup World Group Playoff -- and you can be assured that every time Tomic faces Federer he’s receiving a pertinent lesson. 

“The harder I hit it, the ball comes back in a different corner and ends up always being a winner,” said Tomic, smiling at the memory of being outclassed. “It’s very strange. Never did experience my balls that I hit that hard to come back and to be a winner.

At one time the 30-year-old Federer seemed invincible, dominating the tour closing out five seasons as No. 1 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009). Nowadays, Fed is not quite as impenetrable, but he still one of the top three guys in the game, albeit No. 3, and he remains a player to be feared.

On many occasions during the one hour, 44 minute match, Tomic pounded fast and ferocious groundstrokes at Federer, clear winners against practically anyone. But not against Federer.

“It’s good to watch. Even for me, playing, I enjoy watching it,” Tomic said.

And watch he did as Federer broke his serve six times in the match while he could only return the favor, so to speak, by breaking Federer’s serve on a third break point in the sixth game of the second set.

Federer served up 13 aces to none for Tomic. Federer’s serve has always given him great leeway in matches and Tomic saw that when the Swiss won 37 of 44 of the first serve points he got into play. How did Tomic do in the same regard? Not well. He only won 40 of 71 first serve points he put into play.

To his credit, Tomic didn’t deflect a question that suggested it was like man playing boy out there on the court.
“I played pretty decent at times, he just played better and there was nothing I could do,” Tomic said. “He broke my confidence down.”

A gracious Federer credited Tomic with playing top grade tennis during the match, emphasizing that the score didn’t necessarily reflect the contest.

“I thought we had a lot of long games, tough points, and I thought he did actually really well,” Federer said.
As a selected talent for the future in his teens, Federer remembered back to when he was 19 and waiting to make it. His message was clear -- don’t rush Tomic, he’ll get there  on his own time.

“It’s funny, when you’re 19 you have nothing to lose, you feel like,” Federer said. “But then you feel an immense pressure, just the constant pounding of knocking on the door from everybody saying, ‘When are you going to make the breakthrough?”

Federer’s next job will be to try and break the confidence of Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. Amazingly, that upcoming match will be his 1000th career match. Del Potro comes as a more potent test than Tomic -- the Argentine won the 2009 U.S. Open in a five-set final win over Federer. The No. 11 ranked Del Potro is quickly reinstating himself as a major force in the game after losing most of 2010 to wrist surgery.

“I think it’s going to be a good match,” Federer said. “Look, I think he’s coming back awfully strong again. I thought he had a chance in 2010 to sort of make a run for world No. 1. Injury came and things obviously changed, and now he’s had to have a great year to get back in the top 15, I think, and now he’s making his move to the top 10.”

Del Potro next, nail biting, hair pulling time!.  I'm still reliving the Clijsters match thank god there's a day's break in between, my poor fan heart can't take anymore more drama after that!.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Comeback Kim Clijsters powers into the quarters at Aussie Open

Jan 22 (Reuters) - Kim Clijsters was courage personified as the defending champion shook off a painful ankle injury and saved four match points to overhaul China's Li Na 4-6 7-6 6-4 and reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The big-hearted Belgian rolled her left ankle at 3-3 in the first set on a scorching day at Rod Laver Arena but rejoined the battle after a lengthy medical time-out with her foot thickly taped.

In a re-match of last year's finalists, champion Clijsters stared at the abyss when 6-2 down in the second set tiebreak but reeled off six points in a row to take the set and spark a rapturous ovation from the stands.
 The hard-hitting Li slumped to 4-0 down in the decider then recovered gallantly to trail 5-4 but Clijsters held to close out the match and keep her hopes alive of a fifth grand slam title in her farewell year on tour.

"It has to be (one of my best comebacks)," Clijsters said red-faced in a courtside interview after raising her arms in triumph to acknowledge the roaring crowd. "I can't believe I won. 

"I knew before the match that it was going to be a tough match, physically, mentally.
"It was amazing to get through and to fight and probably not with my best tennis." 

French Open champion Li took the first set of last year's final against the Belgian but was once again left crestfallen after missing a golden chance to put her Melbourne Park nemesis away. 

After saving three match points, Clijsters appeared to suffer a mental lapse on the fourth when she attempted a speculative drop-shot that bounced up and begged to be put away. 

Fifth-seeded Li charged in but her attempted winner was equally inept and allowed Clijsters to poke a lob over her head to save the point. 

The Chinese subsequently crumbled under the pressure, spraying two backhand shots to lose the set before her serve collapsed as Clijsters charged 5-1 ahead in the decider. 

Li dug deep to break back and took Clijsters to deuce when she was serving for the match, but surrendered the match after netting a backhand. 

Clijsters will play the winner of top seed Caroline Wozniacki and former world number one Jelena Jankovic who play in the evening session at Rod Laver Arena.
Oh, the drama of this match, seriously! I honestly thought Kim was done after she rolled on her ankle.  And I felt sadness but also a lot of admiration for her continuing on despite it all.  
When we got to the tiebreak and Kim went down four match points, I held my breath, and was on the edge of my seat.  This was such a topsy-turvy match, but so damn entertaining nonetheless worth staying up till 2am.
Sure a lot of people will say that the match was Li Na's to lose, which is partly true, she went away mentally in the 3rd set (and in the tiebreak) and looked down and out before fighting back.  
But the majority of the credit has to go to Kim for just hanging in there in a tense situation not once but twice!.  That's the difference between players and champions I guess they just find a way.
Haven't seen that much fighting spirit from Kim in a while.  Assuming her ankle is ok I hope this match spurs her on into the semis.  Thanks Aussie Kim for making this one memorable! :).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kim Clijsters moves into 4th round with convincing win

It seems like Kim Clijsters has never left. In yet another authoritative performance in Melbourne, the defending champion ran over Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-2 to move into the fourth round.
Clijsters, who has only played seven tournaments since lifting the 2011 title due to injury, owned a 9-1 record against the slender Slovakian entering the contest, with Hantuchova’s only victory coming in Brisbane two weeks ago when Clijsters retired with a hip ailment.
It was certainly not the greatest performance of Clijsters’ life, but it was good enough as she ripped 27 winners (almost an equal amount off her forehand and backhand sides) and committed 18 unforced errors. Hantuchova, who reached the semifinals in Melbourne in 2008, before losing to Ana Ivanovic, could only manage 12 winners and committed 23 unforced errors.
“ Day off yesterday, night match tonight. So I felt like I kind of just had to find my aggressive footwork and positioning on the court,” the Belgian said. "But I was able to at the important points win those points and make the right decisions. Obviously at the end of the day, when you're not playing your best, that's what it comes down to is just trying to play the important points as well as possible. I was able to do that today.  So [the] second set was much better.  I'm pleased that I finished a lot better than how I started.” 
One of the game’s most feared all-around players, the 28-year-old Clijsters has gotten to the point in her career where she does not need a lot of matches. In fact, in her comeback to the tour in August 2009 after she took off two years to start a family, she won the US Open in just her third tournament back. She is not seen by some to be a player who relies on her wits, but she has a great understanding of her capabilities and where her opponents’ frailties lie. That's why she was able to enter the 2012 Aussie summer season without having played since the first week of August 2011, and yet has immediately become a title threat once again.
The pre-first retirement Clijsters, who was considered to be a bit of a play-aholic, has matured.
“I think when you're a little bit older you're capable to set your mind to what it is like to play a match again,” she said. “You have your routines. I come back to routines, but they're so important.  You have your game that you know that you're going to stick to.  I think when I was younger I needed to play those matches to kind of get a feel for how I had to play and what my coach wanted of me and those kind of things.  Now I know out there.  Even after two years off, when I stepped out there, I knew what my game was, and I didn't need a lot of the matches to find that again. Okay, you need to get used to the emotions and the pressure and the stress a little bit, but when it comes down to finding your own confidence, that's there.  You've done that so many times and been in big situations so many times.”
Clijsters might have to face the same woman she bested in a classic Australian Open final last year, Li Na, in the fourth round. She has no plans of playing beyond the US Open, so this will likely be her last season. But she is not sitting on her laurels and does believe that she can get better on a daily basis. She’s been around long enough to know that if she doesn’t continue to tinker with her game and attempt to bring at few new things to the table each week, that the youngsters will catch her and possibly pass her.
“I would like to improve every day,” she said. “That's one of the main reasons why I decided to put [coach Carl Maes] on board again. I want to learn from him and improve. I have the feeling that I have been improving on a lot of different areas as well as emotionally, tacticwise, physically, and confidence. It's great for me to be in a situation with Carl where I still feel like I can improve on all those things and I'm not stuck to where I feel like I'm at my top level. Look at Nadal, Federer. You can always become better. You can always work out harder in the gym and work out differently. You just learn yourself better and better.”

It's a re-match of last year's final with Li Na.  That will be a real tough test for Clijsters.  Can't wait!.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Martina Hingis Australian Open 2012 interview

Roger Federer through to 4th round at Aussie Open

ONE of the world's most exciting young players looms as the stumbling block to Roger Federer's quest to end a grand slam drought dating back to the 2010 Australian Open. 
The 16-time grand slam champion showed no signs of rustiness in his convincing 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 6-3 dismissal of Ivo Karlovic despite having entered the match with a four-day break following a second-round walkover against Andreas Beck.

Federer faces the winner of last night's clash between Australian rising star Bernard Tomic and unorthodox Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov for a possible quarter-final confrontation with 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina.

"Either player is going to be a challenge for me," he said.

"But overall I feel good, you know. It has been a good match for me and a good last week or so."

Federer and Nadal, who share the same side of a grand slam draw for the first time since 2004, generated most interest yesterday.

Both entered this Open under injury clouds - Federer withdrew from an event in Doha with back spasms, while the Spaniard considered pulling out of this event as recently as Sunday because of knee pain - yet they have been convincing to date.

Federer's clash with Karlovic, who almost a decade ago ended Lleyton Hewitt's defence of his Wimbledon title in the opening round, was of most interest because of the danger Karlovic occasionally poses with his brilliant serve.

Karlovic is a gambler on court. Blessed with an amoury that allows him to hold serve at almost every turn but bereft for the most part of skills to put pressure on a rival's serve, his lot is to either blast away at a forehand or chip and charge the net in hope when receiving.

In 26 prior sets against Federer, Karlovic has managed to break just once. He is a long shot to win a set against Federer in anything other than a tiebreaker.

At five-all in the first set tiebreaker, he actually constructed a point of class, stretching and testing the best in the business until Federer overhit a forehand.

It brought him a set point on serve, usually a guarantee.

Instead followed the most bizarre of points, with Federer chipping a slice at the Croatian's feet and ripping a pass that, somehow, Karlovic got racquet on.

Even more fortuitously, it dropped over the net for what seemed almost a perfect drop volley. But Federer, somehow, got racquet below ball and . . . lobbed. Lobbed the tallest man on tour standing half a metre from him.

Talk about surprise and despair. It was, as Karlovic noted later, the least predictable shot the 16-time grand slam winner could throw at him at that moment, yet it proved the critical difference.

"It is like one in, I don't know, hundred that I'm going to lose that point," he said.

"It was really unlucky. I didn't really expect him to do that, but I was there.

"I just, how do you say, miscalculated how much on the jump.

"If I would have won that, everything would have been different. But that is life. Tennis, that's how it is."

A ripped backhand pass on the next point and an ace to close the tiebreaker and the match, for all intents, was Federer's.

So it's the Australian Tomic vs. the Fed man next.

Should be interesting to see which one the crowd roots for more and how well the young Aussie handles the pressure.

Assuming he doesn't collapse from exhaustion half way through.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Martina Hingis to play Legends tournament at Aussie Open

TENNIS great Martina Hingis has swept into Melbourne to play in the Australian Open legends tournament. 
In a coup for organisers the Swiss former world No.1 will play at Melbourne Park for the first time since her last main draw appearance in 2007.

Hingis, 31, is sure to be a crowd favourite, having claimed three titles here and made six consecutive finals from 1997-2002.

"Getting her back is great and she is a champion here," legends tournament director Todd Woodbridge said.

"She's still playing a great brand of tennis and it's great for the sport. I give great kudos to her good friend in Iva Majoli for helping persuade Martina she needed a nice holiday in the Australian summer.

"They're looking to having some fun on and off the court."

Woodbridge said a top class field had been assembled for the start of play this weekend."We've been working on strengthening the legends men for the past few years and now we have a great line-up," he said.

"We've got (Goran) Ivanivesic, (Yevgeny) Kafelnikov and (Pat) Rafter. It's just created a buzz.
"They're still pretty young, fit and big names. This year I really wanted to work on getting some of the women back.

"That's the beauty of the legends now is that they take it seriously but it's not life or death on the court. They can get out and see the city and enjoy themselves."


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kim Clijsters thrashes opponent to reach Aussie Open 3rd round

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Champion Kim Clijsters and the player she beat in last year's final Li Na rarely got out of first gear while Roger Federer did not even have to get out of bed to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

American eighth seed Mardy Fish, however, became the first men's top-10 player to depart the tournament when he crashed out in straight sets to Colombia's Alejandro Falla 7-6 6-3 7-6.

Temperatures were much more comfortable on Wednesday after the first two days when they reached 30 degrees Celsius before midday, and Clijsters barely built up a sweat on Rod Laver Arena as she thrashed France's Stephanie Foretz Gacon in 47 minutes.

Clijsters, who has recorded four previous 6-0 6-0 'double bagel' victories at Melbourne Park, flirted with a fifth as she rattled off the opening seven games in little under 30 minutes before the 30-year-old Frenchwoman finally held serve.

The stay of execution, however, was brief and the Belgian calmly went through her processes again, building pressure and forcing errors before she moved into the third round with a 6-0 6-1 win when Fortez Gacon's return of serve floated long.

"I felt like in my first match I didn't really have that rhythm that I would have liked to have," Clijsters told reporters. "So that's usually something that I try to look for in the beginning of the match.

"(I) was hitting the ball well (and) felt that I could keep her under pressure. I didn't really let her play her game. From the beginning till the end, I did what I had to do well."
World number three Federer, who had been due to play later on Wednesday received a walkover into the third round when his German opponent Andreas Beck withdrew from the tournament with a back injury.

This was pretty much a one woman show.  Much more routine and Clijsters-like.  
This pretty much confirms that I was right in my last post when I said that the further she goes, and longer she plays the better she'll get (as she has often done in the past).  
With this performance I am much more convinced that she actually has a shot at defending the title.  
As the Aussie's would say, good on ya Kim!.  Hantuchova is up next that may prove to be a bit more of challenge.  
But enough about that once again the best thing about this match was the post-match interview. 

Or, more precisely Kim asking the entire Aussie crowd to sing her sister a Happy Birthday :).  I'll post the video when it becomes available.

Priceless! :D.  I'm really gonna miss stuff like this when Kim goes away for good after this year.