Archive for September, 2010

 

A Trio of Tennis News

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Usually the period after a Grand Slam is a quiet, peaceful time, full of ruminations and celebrations and articles on who is truly ‘the best ever’. And whilst Nadal and Clijsters are still being praised and touted in front of the cameras (and no doubt heading back to the practice courts to improve impossibly more), the others have moved on with determination to the next big events, whether that be a Davis Cup tie, the ATP World Tour Finals or the Korean Open. Since the end of the last calendar Open there have been three bits of news that have stuck out as the most interesting and exciting these last few weeks. So here starts the trio exciting of news; who says the weeks after a Grand Slam can’t be just as jam packed.

1. Juan Martin del Potro

With the former US Open champion absent from the tournament, Juan Martin del Potro has had what one could certainly call a ‘bad year’. His hopes, and indeed ours, were raised when it looked as though he may be at least able to enter the US Open, even if we knew he would not be much of a competition after so many months away. However his cursed wrist refused to heal itself in time, and he was forced to withdraw.

Now, with a tentative breath, I can announce that the Argentine will be back in the tennis furore next week, at the Thailand Open. It’s been eight months of absence, and fans of Delpo will have everything crossed that he makes it through at least a few matches at the Thailand Open to (gently) whip that wrist back into shap more »

 

King Rafa

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Grass?…check.

Clay?….check.

Hard courts of Australia?…check.

Hard courts of the USA?…check.

Rafael Nadal has become one of only seven men who have achieved a career Grand slam; they’ve won every Grand Slam on the calendar. Clay, grass, hard court, they are kings of them all. Let’s face it, no-one is surprised that Rafa has achieved this kind of accolade. If there is anyone out there who can match the likes of Agassi, Federer, Rod Laver and Fred Perry, it’s our man from Majorca.

So, not many of us were surprised by his victory over Serbian Novak Djokovic lastnight. Novak is no push over, but this is Rafael Nadal. Nothing but losing an arm and a leg would keep him off the tennis court or from achieving what he wants to achieve. Look at Wimbledon; years of being beaten on grass by Federer, years of trying to break the mould of being a ‘clay court player’, and he eventually got his reward in 2008 in one of the most epic finals of all time.

The match started off tense but even in promise; Djokovic appeared to be in for the long run in the second set, capitalising on some uncharacteristic Nadal mistakes to get the second set. The third swung from the favour of one man to another; bursts of intense play from Djokovic left Rafa hitting mid-air, then suddenly it was a Nadal master-class in how to win points, and Nole was left to take his frustrations out on his racket. Rafa’s serve was a force to be reckoned with, getting him out of many a sticky situation.  more »

 

Queen Clijsters

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

In a repeat of last year, Kim Clijsters scooped up her little girl Jada in one arm and her US Open trophy in the other. It only took 59 minutes this year for her to brush aside Vera Zvonareva for the title; her third at this tournament. Clijsters is Queen at Flushing Meadows and the crowd were more than happy to welcome her back to the throne.

Unfortunately, the final was a decidedly one-sided affair, although it doesn’t tarnish anything from Clijsters exemplary game. More than anything, it makes one’s heart leap out to the young Russian, who had in the past played so well against Clijsters and had been having such a good run; in Wimbledon alone she beat Clijsters and made it to her first Grand Slam final, and that wasn’t the only time she has beaten Kim in the past. For Zvonareva, the swiftness of her second Grand Slam final only echoes her premature appearance at Centre Court in this year’s Wimbledon. In that final she was also batted aside with little difficulty, that time by Serena Williams. This must have made being beaten so swiftly all the more painful.

After a few disappointing opening games and points, most assumed Zvonareva would pick herself up quickly and the battle would begin, but Clijsters was just too good and blasted away at her opponent repeatedly, leaving her little time to catch her breath. There were moments where the crowd were cheering on Zvonareva, but only in an encouraging manner after she managed to staunch the flow of games and got the score  more »

 

Men’s Semi-finals

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Yesterday we were treated to two very different men’s semi-final matches. First, Rafael Nadal made short work of Russian Mikhail Youzhny with a 6-2 6-3 6-4 win. In three hours and 44 minutes, Nadal knew his opponent: Serbian Novak Djokovic had upset Roger Federer and tossed him from the tournament, denying him his seventh consecutive appearance in the tournament’s finals.

Whereas Nadal’s match was relatively plain-sailing bar a couple of dodgy serves, Djokovic was not the clear winner until the very end of the match. The scoreline swung up and down; Federer took the first set 5-7, but lost the next 6-1. Djokovic lost the third, again 5-7, but it was in the fifth that he found his nerve to take Federer to the barest of margins and win. Djokovic hadn’t played a game like that in years; no wonder he name-checks this match as one of the best in his career. He even staved off two match points; no easy feat against a man like Federer.

Federer was simply below par and out of sorts; but it would be unfair to Djokovic to put that down as his reason for winning. Federer could have easily snatched victory at the last minute, but Novak kept him at bay and had the grit to capitalise on his own match points.

So now we have our US Open 2010 line up: Rafael Nadal versus Novak Djokovic. Some may mourn yet another non-Federer/Rafa final, but tennis thrives on its imagination and as fun as it is to see two legendary rivals go head to head, I can guarantee this final will be an enterta more »

 

The Last Mad Dash to the finals

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

It’s not a great excuse for being absent during this, one of the most exciting Grand Slam events of the year, but I’m afraid it’s my only excuse: I have been on holiday. During the US Open? Madness I know, but I was young and stupid and assumed I didn’t need my constant fix of tennis-related news.

I have, however, learnt a number of things after my trip around these beautiful countries. They mostly revolve around avoiding bus station toilets like the plague; understanding that just because the timetable says a bus/train is running doesn’t mean that the driver is going to bother to get out of bed in the morning to run it; and that it doesn’t take long to find some awe-inspiring cuisine in that particular area of Europe. But those are the sorts of revelations that should be reserved for a travel blog; in this blog where we live, breathe and ache for tennis, it’s tennis that’s King.

And, as it turns out, I learnt a few tennis-related facts during my travels. One; no matter how far you travel into the deepest darkest parts of Eastern Europe, you will still be able to hear at least some snippets of news from the US Open. Two; the Serbs have got to be deeply, deeply proud of Novak Djokovic, if the amount of placards and advertising boards and shop displays and walls daubed with his face are anything to go by. And three; no matter which country you are in, you will find a fan of Roger Federer and a fan of Rafael Nadal, and they will assure you beyond a shadow of a doubt that t more »

 
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