The Heat Is On…

Jan 19, 2009

…And it’s only just begun. It was always going to be a tournament of intense heat and passion, and the first round lived up to the expectations worthy of Grand Slam first rounds. Those players who were expected to bow out early did so, whilst others made a name for themselves within the competition (some good examples are the young Aussie Bernard Tomic, and Jelena Dokic with impressive first round performances). At the other end of the scale, the more long-lasting competitors showed their metal, and what we should expect in further rounds.

There was an overriding theme, however, in the post-match interviews. The heat. The heat was rumoured to have had some effect on the courts, but it is its damage to the players which can be heartbreaking to watch.  Jelena Jankovic  had issues with the heat during today’s match, the court causing the soles of her feet to need treatment with ice: “Today it was so hot, my feet were really burning. If I’m going to go very far I have to deal with it.”

This, to come fro more »

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He’s Just A Kid…

Jan 19, 2009

Imagine if you will…you’re 16 years old and playing your first ever grand slam match. It happens to be in your home country and there are 6000 vocal countrymen there to cheer you on. You are playing against a man who has been ranked as high as 27 in the world and you storm home to win in 4 sets, becoming the youngest ever male winner of a match at the Australian Open.

Sounds like the stuff of dreams right?

Well today for young Australian Bernard Tomic, this was not a dream. In fact if you look at his rise through the junior ranks you’ll see that this was just one more step on the long journey to the top.

While he is young his talent has been well recognised by tennis insiders for quite a while. He was signed to a UK management group at the age of twelve, and had a sponsorship deal signed with Nike a year later. Nike don’t go throwing money at any thirteen year old.

He was a prodigious winner of international junior tournaments and announced himself to the Australian public last year by claiming the boys version of the major in which he is now involved as a man.

Standing 6″2′ at the age of 16 means there is not much there but skin and bones, so as he develops so too will the weapons that he currently lacks. When these are added to the skills he already posseses he will be a formidable foe.

He is renowned as having court sense far beyond his years, with an ability to move his opponent around using great variety on his ground strokes. He has a lovely slice more »

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Here Come the Girls…

Jan 18, 2009

Four British women have now made it into the draw for the Australian Open: Elena Baltacha (118), Katie O’Brien (104), joining Anne Keothavong (53)and Melanie South (102). Not since the US Open in 1992 have four British women succeeded in the draw, so for the future of British tennis, this is exciting stuff. What with the spotlight centred squarely on Andy Murray for Britain’s Grand Slam hopes, it’s refreshing to see the women players do so well without the media attention. And as Baltacha and Keothavong have both claimed, they have nothing to lose. As well as a lot of well-earned respect to gain.

Viriginia Wade’s Wimbledon win in 1977 is an illustrious part of British women’s history, but it has constantly been blighted by other nations. Players have generally paled in comparison to the Eastern Europeans; the world rankings are dominated by players from Russia (Nadia Petrova, Dinar more »

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My Quarter Final Picks

Jan 18, 2009

As this is a fantasy tennis website, I thought today I’d run you through who I think will progress to the quarter finals. However, you have to remember that your Grand Slam Fantasy Tennis Team must include 3 players from outside the top 16, one of whom must be unseeded.

If you want more info head over to the main site where you will find some fairly simple instructions to follow.

Men


Rafael Nadal – has a tough road ahead with Gasquest, Gonzalez, Tursonov, Hewitt and Canas in his section. I think he’ll get through, but it might make that second week very tough, with either Gael Monfils or Gilles Simon his most likely quarter final opponent.

Gael Monfils – will probably play a higher ranked Frenchman, Gilles Simon in the match to progress to the quarters. I think after the diappointement of having to withdraw last year, and his obvious form in beating Nadal in Doha earlier this month, he’s the one to watch in this section of the draw.

Andy Murray – has been gifted with a relatively easy first week and should have little trouble getting through – possibly without dropping a set if you look at his recent form.

James Blake/ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – want to wait until the last minute for some news on Tsonga’s back before I decide on that one. I’ll take a fit Tsonga every time, carrying an injury…not so sure.

David Nalbandian – comes more »

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Aus. Open Build-Up

Jan 17, 2009

The Russian Invasion!

A few years back a young female Russian tennis player had the world at her feet. Looks, talent and a growing rivalry with another young prodigy, Martina Hingis.

Depending on how you look at it Anna Kournikova was either a massive waste of talent, or the most over-rated female tennis player of the modern era.

Either way we should be forever grateful to her for paving the way for the parade of Russian women that have followed in her path. What would a summer of tennis be without the Russian’s.

And so it was in Friday night’s final of the Medibank international, Sydney’s major lead up event for the Aussie Open. In the red corner from Russia, world number three, Dinara Safina. And…also in the red corner from Russia, world number four Elena Dementieva.

The eventual winner of the final, (and one of my tips to take the title in Melbourne in a fortnight) – Dementieva. Last year’s Olympic champion has been in hot form this month, winning in Auckland, and doing a demolition job on an admittedly tired Serena Williams in the semi’s here.

She’s looking as fit as I’ve ever seen her, and she just seems to have her head in the right place. I think she’ll be hard to beat. The one weakness in her game is the serve – over seven rounds of a Major someone’s going to get after it at some stage. How she handles that will determine how far into the second week she survives.
 more »

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