Monday, 25 September 2017

Wozniacki stars in Tokyo

The past week has provided several unexpected results in the tennis world, which continues to make this year such a thrilling spectacle.

But before details of that, as an Australian I want to talk of someone pretty well unmentioned to date - Lizette Cabrera. The 19 year old, born in Townsville, has been working hard on the ITF circuit over the last couple of years and also been battling through qualifying in WTA events, with limited success.

Her performance in Guangzhou this week was a breakthrough and should be recognised more broadly by the Aussie press. Lizette won.two qualifying matches then punched her way through the main draw to the quarter finals, beating world number 30, Anett Kontaveit, along the way.

Not too bad for the 153rd ranked player, who now sits at 136 and has won through qualifying in successive WTA tournaments, awaiting a first round main draw match in Tashkent.

Now to results of finals:

From her sensational 7th final appearance this year, Caroline Wozniacki (3) finally cracked it for a win. Her quarter final victory over Dominika Cibulkova (5) after saving match points was a little soured by the retirement of Cibulkova, but her destruction of top seed Garbine Muguruza in the semi final was out of this world, with attacking tennis which we had been used to seeing Garbine apply.

Her domination of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final completed a brilliant defence of the Premier title in Tokyo for Caroline.

Others to capture glory:

St.Petersburg

Damir Dzumhur d Fabio Fognini (3) and jumps 15 spots to a career high of 40 in the world rankings.

 Metz

Qualifier Peter Gojowczyk d Benoit Paire (7) and moves 29 places up to 66, another career high

Seoul

Jelena Ostapenko (1) d Beatriz Haddad Maia

Beatriz moves 13 spots up to a new career high of 58

Guangzhou

Shuai Zhang (2) d Aleksandra Krunic

Krunic moves 9 spots to a new career high of 56

The elite women are in Wuhan for the next Premier tournament and already we have seen the 13th and 15th seeds - Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasija Sevastova - fall in first round matches.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Tennis in Asia and Europe

Davis Cup results see France and Belgium facing off in this years final, David Goffin a hero in driving Belgium's comeback from 1-2 down against Australia.


This week has seen a lot of tennis on both the WTA and ATP tours, the men playing in Europe, the women in Asia.

We have reached the quarter finals in St.Petersburg and Metz where the following matches are set:

St.Petersburg

Roberto Bautista Agut (1) v Viktor Troicki (7)

Fabio Fognini (3) v Ricardas Berankis - Berankis had knocked out fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber

Damir Dzumhur v Liam Broady - Dzumhur defeated sixth seed Paolo Lorenzi and Broady disposed of fourth seed Adrian Mannarino

Jan-Lennard Struff (8) v Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (2)

Metz

Kenny De Schepper v Mischa Zverev (5) - Kenny was a lucky loser from qualifying, replacing the original top seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who withdrew late from the tournament.

Marius Copil v Peter Gojowczyk - Copil and Gojowczyk defeated a pair of French seeds, Lucas Pouille (3) and Gilles Simon (8) respectively 

Denis Istomin v Nikoloz Basilashvili - Istomin dismissed sixth seed Richard Gasquet and Basilashvili defeated fourth seed Gilles Muller (4)

Benoit Paire (7) v David Goffin (2)

Quarter finals are underway in Tokyo and Seoul:

Tokyo

Garbine Muguruza (1) v Caroline Garcia (9)

Caroline Wozniacki (3) v Dominika Cibulkova (5)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Barbora Strycova - Strycova defeated fourth seed Johanna Konta and eighth seed Kristina Mladenovic was ousted in the first round by Qiang Wang

LATE NEWS - Pavlyuchenkova has won in three sets to be the first player through to the final four.

Angie Kerber (7) v Karolina Pliskova (2)

Seoul

Jelena Ostapenko (1) v Veronica Cepede Royg - Ostapenko won her way into a semi final

Sorana Cirstea (4) v Luksika Kumkhum - Kumkhum won her way into the semi against Ostapenko 

Beatriz Haddad Maia v Sara Sorribes Tormo

Priscilla Hon v Richel Hogenkamp

In Guangzhou the semi finals are:

Yanina Wickmayer v Aleksandra Krunic

Evgeniya Rodina v Shuai Zhang (2)


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Davis Cup Semis almost done

The ATP tour has had a weeks break since the US Open while the Davis Cup Semi Finals and Play Offs are underway.


The semi final between France and Serbia promised plenty until Novak Djokovic suffered his season ending injury. Still the strong French team was rocked in the first rubber with its second ranked player Lucas Pouille upset by Dusan Lajovic, ranked 80 in the world.

Thankfully for France, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga levelled the tie, beating Laslo Djere, ranked 95.

Disappointing to see the two highest ranked available Serbs - Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic - giving the semi final a miss after fighting to help their nation make it this far.

The fifth ranked doubles pair in the world - Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut - clinched a 2-1 advantage, winning the key doubles over Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic.

Australia finds itself in a similar position after three rubbers, losing its first match to Belgium, David Goffin a four set winner over John Millman.

Nick Kyrgios was in a precarious position, down two sets to one against Steve Darcis, before steadying to take the last sets for the loss of only 3 games in total.

The doubles was a clinic put on by world number two John Peers and his partner Jordan Thompson 6-3 6-4 6-0 to defeat Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur De Greef.

Well done Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem for committing to your nations - Croatia and Austria -- in the Davis Cup Play Offs - something a lot of top ten players refuse to do before their individual priorities.

A couple of WTA events have occurred this week - neither featuring the elite players, but each allowing others down the rankings to boost their status somewhat.

In Quebec City, Canada, Lucie Safarova was granted top seeding, ranked 37. She made it through to the semis, as did the third and fourth seeds, Timea Babos and Tatjana Maria respectively.

However, the finalists are Babos and seventh seed Alison Van Uytvanck. Alison knocked out Tatjana and Timea did the same to Lucie in the semis.

Second seed Oceane Dodin had to withdraw from her second round match through injury.

Tokyo has been a qualifiers dream. Three of the four semi final spots were won by them and the final was decided between two qualifiers.

Jana Fett, ranked 123, defeated top seed Kristina Mladenovic in the first round on her way to the semis.

Miyu Kato, raked 171, defeated fourth seed Kristyna Pliskova in the second round en route to the final four.

Zarina Diyas, ranked 100, defeated second seed Shuai Zhang in the second round and eighth seed Yulia Putintseva in a quarter final.

Ultimately Diyas proved too strong for Kato in the final.

Diyas moves 28 spots up to 72 in the world and Kato 48 places to 123.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Rafa wraps up US Open 2017

The US Open is finished for 2017 and appropriately Rafa Nadal was the closing attraction.

He was the dominating figure throughout, both with his tennis and his presence.

He is world number one again, by quite a margin, and with two Grand Slam titles he and Roger Federer have shared the major spoils for 2017.

The final was expected to be a bridge too far for Kevin Anderson, but even the hardened Rafa fans could not have believed the way he out served the South African who had used that weapon to his benefit so well in the tournament.

Set one began with six service holds, but that didn't tell the story. Nadal lost only three points on his serve during that period, whereas Anderson struggled, saving two break points in the fifth game which lasted sixteen points. 

Finally the 28th seed cracked in game seven, when leading 40-30. Two loose forehands, and a double fault in between, gifted the break to Nadal and from 4-3 the set was his, another break in the ninth game just icing on a cake being prepared for celebrations already underway.

Not too early for champagne as set two was also one way traffic, the break arriving with the second chance in the sixth game thanks to a winning smash. Still no break points on the excellent Spanish serve. Only seven points lost on the delivery from the line, and 12 from 12 points won at the net.

Comeback from Anderson ? No chance.

The third and final set was a siesta for Rafa, gaining a break in the opening game - Anderson led 40-15 but threw in four straight forehand errors of his own making, and Rafa simply held serve for the rest of the set.

6-3 6-3 6-4 was a picture of the total domination of the tournament from the top seed, and deserved.  Rafa Nadal has won 3 US Opens and 16 Grand Slam titles.

Kevin Anderson has moved to number 15 in the world rankings, a jump of 17 spots and now he is just five away from his career high.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sloane Stephens wins US Open !

Madison Keys (25) entered the final of the US Open as the favourite, and deservedly so considering her form line, and that shows no disrespect for the performances of Sloane Stephens over the course of the last two weeks.

One of the pair would be the first American woman to hold a Grand Slam title, other than the Williams sisters, since Jennifer Capriati won the Australian Open in 2002. 

Stephens opened the better, breaking a clearly nervous Keys in the fifth game on the back of four unforced errors. 

At 3-5 Madison saved a break point but at game point, three more unforced errors donated the set to Sloane whose effort was stellar, facing no break points and committing just two unforced errors. Keys hit 10 winners to 2, but 17 unforced errors was her undoing.

Set two began with Stephens serving, and she was taken to deuce, giving Keys a sign of hope. It was dashed when Stephens attacked her backhand, forcing successive mistakes. 

After that tight game Keys could not take any chances and was broken three times by a decisive and ultra tidy Stephens who hit as many winners as her opponent but restricted her unforced error count to 4 as opposed to 13 from Keys.

6-0 was an unfortunate score line, and a disservice to the tournament performance from Madison Keys. However, all credit to Sloane Stephens for a brilliant match to cap off a wonderful comeback beginning only five weeks ago.

A Grand Slam win for Stephens and a final appearance by Keys is amazing when considering neither were fit to play the Australian Open in January.

American tennis is alive and thriving, especially on the WTA tour. One in the top five, thee others in the top twenty, and nine more in the top 100.

Sloane Stephens is now 17 in the world after spending the first week of August languishing at 934. Coco Vandeweghe has jumped six places to a new career high of 16, but 11 in this years points race.

Garbine Muguruza leads both the current world rankings and the 2017 points race.

Over the past two years, three players have won two Grand Slam titles apiece - Serena Williams (from just five entries), Angie Kerber and Garbine Muguruza.

Nadal v Anderson in final

The men's semi finals at the 2017 US Open trended the same way but one was more pronounced.

Top seed Rafa Nadal sounded a loud warning to everyone, but then he has been doing that consistently all tournament. His victory over Juan Martin del Potro (24) was brutal, especially considering the generous start he had given the 24th seed.

Set one saw one break of serve, in the fifth game, when del Potro converted a chance with a backhand winner. That held true and the set was transported to Argentina.

That was all she wrote for South Americas on this day.. Set two was a Spanish delight - Nadal hit 13 winners and committed 1 unforced error. He won 12 of 14 points on his serve. That's how few serves he needed in the 6-0 demolition.

Set three was not much tougher - 12 winners to 5 and facing no break points - 4-6 6-0 6-3, and ominous for del Potro.

Already having found plenty, Nadal looked for more blood in the fourth set. He crushed any spirit left in the Argentine heart with a 6-2 reminder of just how great Rafa is.

11 more winners, no break point chances given, strong when at the net, and 16 of 18 points won on serve. The match was over 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2.

Despite the loss, Juan Martin can walk away proud of his efforts at this Open - the comeback against Thiem and the win over Federer the very next match were memorable.

Kevin Anderson (28) had earlier become the first man into the final, but now would be quaking in his boots, having seen the Rafa exhibition.

Still, it will be a two horse race, and Anderson was extremely impressive in removing Pablo Carreno Busta (12) from calculations.

The higher seed played to the rankings in set one, the only player to break serve. Once was enough and 6-4 was the result. Anderson's unforced errors cost him dearly because he was controlling the match, winners or errors - Pablo was sensible, winning most of the extended rallies whenever the booming serves of Anderson failed.

Set two was the turning point of the match, with the serve of Anderson consistently a problem for Pablo. Holding relatively quickly, Anderson was able to place pressure on Pablo when returning the Spanish serve.

Even so after suffering an early break, the twelfth seed broke back with 3 forehand winners.

Anderson took the set though, thanks to a double fault from Pablo at 5-6 and 30-30. Anderson converted the set point and levelled the match.

From that moment, the match was effectively done and dusted. Anderson reduced his unforced errors and was solid on serve, not facing a break point for the remainder of the match.  

He rallied better and managed to pick up a break in each of sets three and four to force his way into the final.

Perhaps thinking that this may be his last hurrah here, given the quality of opponent he will face in the final, Kevin celebrated as if he'd won the title, climbing into the stands and thanking everybody in what sounded like a victory speech, unlike the one he will probably give as losing finalist on Sunday in New York.

A wonderful tournament for Anderson, first South African in a US Open final since Cliff Drysdale in 1965.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Keys v Stephens Final

The women's semi finals at the 2017 US Open provided one set of competitive tennis and two players into the final who have never been there before, in fact never seen a final at Grand Slam level.


First up were Venus Williams (9) and Sloane Stephens, a mere 13 years and 7 Grand Slam titles between them.

Stephens refused to take notice of the greatness of Venus in set one, winning five straight games from 1-1, breaking twice and not facing a break point on her own serve.

Venus looked the complete antithesis of the player who had starred throughout the tournament to date.


A 180 degree shift occurred in game one of set two when Stephens couldn't convert three break chances.

Venus wasted two game points of her own before holding due to a couple of errors from Stephens.

Then Venus won the next five games to bagel Stephens and level proceedings.

Double the winners and double the points won on serve and the momentum was clearly now with Williams.


The third set was a ripper, with the best of Stephens from set one and Williams from set two, but raised higher.

Stephens opened brightly, breaking for 2-0, only to have Venus win the next three games.


Stephens once again attacked the Williams serve, gaining an advantage in the seventh game on the third break point, forcing a volley error.

Venus calmly forced Stephens into backhand problems and levelled at 4-4.

Playing catch up, Sloane played solid tennis for 5-5.


Then it was magic with a withering backhand to place pressure on the Williams serve at 0-15.  Another wonderful point ending with a Stephens forehand winner forced Venus into errors and a break of her serve.

Stephens served it out and found herself in the final - just a month ago she was 934 in the world, having played and lost two matches, coming back from a year out with injury.  Now she can claim semi finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, and a chance to win a Grand Slam title.  Her ranking is currently 22 with the possibility of moving to 17.


The second semi promised much more than it delivered, although Madison Keys (15) certainly delivered quality in spades against a disappointing Coco Vandeweghe (20).

Keys lost just three games for the match and never faced a break point.

25 winners against only 9 unforced errors is one statistic demonstrating how well Keys dominated.


Although Sloane Stephens is in fine form, there is no doubt Madison Keys starts a warm favourite to capture her first major.

Her only loss in the past 14 matches was to Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round at Cincinnati and she held three match points in that clash against the hottest player at the time.