Analyzing the Men’s Draw after Day 3

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Men’s Bottom Half: After Second Round

Seeds out:

Tommy Haas (12)

Ivan Dodig (32)

Mikhail Youzhny (14)

Ernests Gulbis (23)

Dmitry Tursunov (30)

Top Stars Moving On:

Novak Djokovic (2) – Our beloved Serb did not lose a set in either of his two matches, even throwing in a bagel in his second match. He may be tested in his third-round match against Denis Istomin…..but let’s be real. We say that before each of his matches and then he always wins in straight sets. Novak is always entertaining to watch and he’s still a favorite here. Can he win his fourth Australian Open? Or will Nadal knock him off his throne to obtain his second grand slam title down under?

David Ferrer (3) – Known as a dogged player, Ferrer certainly has not let up in Melbourne. He played really well in his first-round match against Gonzalez and even though he tripped up a few times in the second round, he fought his way through the heat (and Mannarino). He plays Jeremy Chardy (29) next and then will play either Jerzy Janowicz (20) or Florian Meyer. From there on out it will become tricky, having to play Berdych (7) then maybe Djokovic (2) (but hopefully Wawrinka). Ferrer should make it at least to the quarters to play Berdych.

Tomas Berdych (7) – Berdych has destroyed so far in Australia. He has been consistent with his serve and has minimized his unforced errors. He should be able to handle his next opponent, Damir Dzumhur, with relative ease. Prediction for the Czech?  I think he has been coping with the heat better than some players, and I think he has the weapons to move past Ferrer and give Djokovic (or Wawrinka) a run for his money, if not upset him. I expect great things (and more funny tweets to @PseudoFed) from Tomas.

Stanislas Wawrinka (8) – Stan the man! But really. Let’s see a repeat of that Wawrinka-Djokovic match this year. Except with Wawrinka coming out on top, because, let’s be serious, he deserves it. Stan has a tricky third-round match against Vasek Pospisil, but his powerful ground strokes and even-temperament should help him in this match. If he does make it to the quarters against Djokovic, I think this will be his time to shine.

Richard Gasquet (9) – Gasquet has played quite well, not having lost a set yet in the tournament. He has a tough opponent in Robredo next round, but seeing how well he’s been playing I don’t see him stopping there. It will get harder if he plays eighth seed Wawrinka in fourth round. *cue battle of the one-handers*  Prediction: he will defeat Robredo, but lose to Wawrinka.

Dark Horses Rise:

Sam Querrey – The former number 1 American is back, ladies and gentlemen. He has only dropped 1 set so far, in the first round to Giraldo. His latest win against Ernests Gulbis (23) was very convincing, especially playing in this heat. His next opponent is Fognini (15). Fognini has also played well, but expect Querrey to get past the Italian.

Denis Istomin – This marks the first time the Russian has made it past the second round of the Australian Open, so might as well do it in style playing Djokovic, right? He was impressive in his second-round win over 30th seed Tursonov and he may be a tricky opponent for Djokovic. Does he have the weapons to defeat the number 2 seed? Probably not. But it’s definitely a match worth watching.

Others to Watch For:

Vasek Pospisil (28) – The young Canadian has the firepower to challenge some of the top players. In the second round he suffered through back pain to overcome Matthew Ebden of Australia. The match-up between Pospisil and Wawrinka should be probably the best match of the third round. Although I think Wawrinka has improved so much that Pospisil will not be able to beat him, expect him to put on a show. Definitely put that match on your radar.

Jerzy Janowicz (20) – Suffering through a foot injury and the heat, the Wimbledon semi-finalist overcame Pablo Andujar in the second round. By making it so far at Wimbledon last year, he proves he does have the weapons to make it far in a grand slam. However, he has struggled through the first two rounds in Australia. Prediction? He will beat Mayer and then go down to Ferrer. But you can never rule out the Pole definitely.

Tommy Robredo (17) – First round, this US Open quarterfinalist battled off Lukas Rosol, Nadal’s conqueror at Wimbledon 2012, in a brutal 5-set match. Although struggling at times, he stayed calm and focused to force Rosol into making unforced errors. He plays Gasquet next. While I don’t believe he can defeat the Frenchman, expect a great match.

Third-Round Matches to Watch:

While basically every match will be amazing in the bottom half, here’s some that are bound to be top-notch…

Stanislas Wawrinka (8) v. Vasek Pospisil (28)

Tommy Robredo (17) v. Richard Gasquet (9)

Novak Djokovic (1) v. Denis Istomin

Fabio Fognini (15) v. Sam Querrey

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Analyzing the Women’s Draw after Day 3

Women’s Top Half: After Second Round

Seeds out:

Sara Errani (7)

Sabine Lisicki (15)

Roberta Vinci (12)

Kirsten FlipkImageImageens (18)Image

Elena Vesnina (23)

Petra Kvitova (6)

Top Stars Moving On:

Serena Williams (1) – Do I even need to address Serena? She’s only lost 6 games in her first two rounds, 3 to Barty and 3 to Dolonc. She’s still a favorite to win the tournament alongside Azarenka, if not the favorite. She’ll get through the next few rounds with ease.

Li Na (4) – Li Na hasn’t lost a set yet, and even her 6-0 7-6 win over Bencic was convincing. I expect Li to get through her next 2 rounds relatively easily; she plays Safarova next, then either Makarova or Niculescu. With Kvitova’s loss, the highest seeded player Li would have to play before playing Serena would be Kerber (9). With Lisicki (15) losing, the draw opened up even more for Li.

Angelique Kerber (9)  – The 9th seed struggled through her first round, losing one of her sets to Gajdosova 6-0. Her second-round win over Kudryavtseva was not convincing either. Expect Kerber to go down in her next round against Alison Riske, or at least a tough match from the young American.

Dark Horses Rise:

Monica Niculescu – Niculescu, ranked 60, recorded a win over Wimbledon finalist and fifteenth seed Sabine Lisicki. Her unconventional game threw off Lisicki’s rhythm and exploited the weaknesses of the big hitter. Expect the low-ranked player to give Makarova (22) a run for her money.

Casey Dellacqua – The Australian has been super impressive in her past 2 matches, beating former US Open and Wimbledon finalist Zvonareva 6-2 6-2 and then destroying Flipkens (18), Wimbledon semi-finalist, 6-3 6-0. I think she will get past Jie Zheng next round, and then she will either face Canadian Bouchard or American Davis.

Alison Riske Risky Riske obliterated Elena Vesnina (23) in the first round 6-2 6-2 and trounced Yanina Wickmayer in the second round 6-1 6-1. She will play Kerber (9) in the next round. I think the young American can get past Kerber, using her powerful weapons.

Others to Watch For:

Eugenie Bouchard (30) – This Canadian has had impressive first and second-round wins over Hao Chen Tang and Virginie Razzano. The 30th seed will play American Lauren Davis third round, and then probably Casey Dellacqua in the fourth round. Expect the youngster to get past both, even though Dellacqua may prove to be a challenge. With the loss of Sara Errani (7), Eugenie’s quarter opened up a bit more. I have faith in her that she can get to the quarters where she will take on Serena Williams.

Ana Ivanovic (14) – Ever since she won her lone Grand Slam singles title back in 2008 (6 years ago?!?!?) at the French Open, Ana has received a lot of negative sentiment about her lackluster performances and lack of optimism and confidence. That was nowhere to be found in her past 2 matches. She blasted past Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4 in the first round and defeated Annika Beck 6-1 6-2 dominating the court , moving quickly and using her forehand. She never lost concentration and also played fantastic defense and utilized a big serve. It should be a great third-round match between Ana and Sam Stosur. If she keeps her focus and uses her big forehand and serve, she could be a threat to the 2011 US Open Champion. It’s really a toss-up between these two former grand slam champions. Neither players were really expected to perform well in Australia and are both on a hot streak.

Sam Stosur (17) – Usually the Australian does not perform at her best in her homeland. However, her past 2 matches have proved otherwise. Against tough opponents, Klara Zakapalova and Tsvetana Pironkova, Stosur showed why she’s a grand slam champion. She blasted her powerful forehand and her kick-serve past her opponents. To beat Ana Ivanovic, she will have to keep her focus and utilize her kick-serve to get an advantage on her service games. Like I said before, either player could falter during the match and it’s a toss-up who will perform best.

Ekaterina Makarova (22) – The 22nd seed defeated Venus Williams in the first round and Falconi in the second round. Her performance against Venus was not the best; while Venus looked tired and lackluster in the last 2 sets, Makarova did not really take too much advantage of that. With 8 double faults and 56 unforced errors, Venus lost the match; Makarova did not win the match. Even if she can get through Niculescu in the third round, she will have to go up against 4th seed Li Na in the fourth round.

Third-Round Matches to Watch:

Samantha Stosur (17) v. Ana Ivanovic (14)

Angelique Kerber (9) v. Alison Riske

Eugenie Bouchard (30) v. Lauren Davis

Na Li (4) v.  Lucie Safarova (26)

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Top Coach Needed

Hello everybody fans,

As you may have heard, Paul Anaconda and Me are no longer together. I’d like to say it was good while it lasted. The good news is that I’m potentially looking for a new coach.

Recent reports suggest that Andrew of the Murrays is taking time off to play Grand Theft Auto rather than playing tennis. Does this mean I can buy Ivan Lentils? Actually if My cards are on the table I’d also like to buy: Jamie Doubles fan, Judy Graduate fan, Kim Painting fan, and the two little doggy fans too.

If not possible here are the job details for the highly successful candidate:

Job requirements:
– Must have heard of tennis (table tennis acceptable)
– Swiss passport
– Good looking
– Humble
– An eye for expensive things
– Cooking experience
– Very good at bag carrying
– Knitwear
– An ability to sit…

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The Decline of American Men’s Tennis

This year’s 2013 US Open final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka received the highest ratings in 11 years – a rating that was higher than the men’s final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. In addition to Serena Williams, this grand slam was packed with young, and some not-so-young, American women who made a splash in the draw, such as Sloane Stephens, Jamie Hampton, , and Alison Riske.  American women’s tennis seems to be on the rise with stars like these representing the face of tennis. American men’s tennis, on the other hand, is on a downhill slide.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time American men’s tennis began its downfall. It has not been unexpected: the last American man to win a grand slam was Andy Roddick back at the 2003 US Open. In general, the last 10 or so years have been dominated by European players, like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Safin, and Murray and South American players like del Potro.

Although Roddick had not won a grand slam since 2003, he didn’t retire until the summer of 2012. Between him, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish, and some relatively unknown players such as Michael Russell and Tim Smyczek in the late 2000s, American men’s tennis was doing pretty well. However, it has dropped off a little bit in 2013. No American man reached the third round at Wimbledon, which was the first time that has happened in 101 years. Only one made it to the third round of both the Australian Open and the French Open. At the US Open this year, no American man advanced past the third round of the Open for the first time in 132 years. When John Isner briefly dropped out of the top 20 in August, it marked the first time in 40 years that an American man was not in the top 20. It’s been two years since an American man made it to the quarterfinals of a Slam.

Demonstrated by the women’s final having a higher rating than the men’s, having an American in the final increases the rating by a large percent. Tennis has become such a globalized sport and the United States does not dominate like it once did. It has become more popular in Europe and South America than it is in North America, and the US Open ratings reflect that. American tennis fans are craving another John McEnroe, Andre Agassi or Pete Sampras. They want to see another American rivalry like Connors and McEnroe. They long to witness another match like the Sampras-Agassi 2001 US Open quarterfinal. We may see another American work his way to the top, but until then, American tennis fans will have to lower their expectations and continue to root for the local favorites, despite lack of success.

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Tennis: The Sport of “Crazy Tennis Parents”

Growing up playing sports, your parents are your biggest fans. They bring you to your practices and encourage you to improve, and, above all, they’re always there for you, win or lose.

Tennis players, especially, have been known for having their parents as coaches or at least as part of their team. Starting from a young age, some parents of potential tennis stars do not want to hand over their children to a professional organization. Having parents constantly on the side lines can be either detrimental or a blessing in disguise, depending on how you look at it.

Many stars of the game today, like Maria Sharapova, started out with a parent as a coach and then switched to a professional to take that extra step. Before Maria withdrew from the US Open with a shoulder injury, she announced that her father would be back coaching her after she split with Jimmy Connors. Even Andre Agassi accredits some of his success to his overzealous father. As he got older and began to appreciate tennis more, he realized that if he didn’t have his father pushing him along the way, he would not have been where he was.

But where should the line be drawn? Should parents go as far as coaching their children? Should they be at every practice and match? Or should they step away? You could look at it both ways: tennis players have to begin developing at such a young age, so players should have a parent in their life encouraging them to excel. On the other hand, too much pressure at a young age can have detrimental effects. Look at Jennifer Capriati, who set many “youngest ever” records at the age of 13. After the 1993 US Open, a burned-out Jennifer Capriati took a hiatus, which included arrests for shoplifting and possession of marijuana. Many attribute her burn-out to the assertiveness of her father, who pushed her on to the professional circuit at the incredibly young age of 13.

And then there are the extreme cases where tennis parents use violence towards their children or others to get what they want.

According to the Bleacher Report, Marinko Lucic, father of Mirjana Lucic, was once quoted as saying, “I never used excessive force, and if I did give her the occasional slap, it was because of her behavior; I did what I believed what [sic] was best for the child.”  Mirjana left her home in Croatia with her mother and four siblings to escape her abusive father.

Mary Pierce’s father, Jim, verbally and physically abused his daughter at tournaments, going as far as throwing things at her when she lost and slapping her. The WTA banned him from all tournaments and the WTC instituted a new rule, known as the Jim Pierce Rule, which allows a player’s disruptive family members or coaches to be banned from attending tournaments. She became so nervous on court because she was afraid of the repercussions of losing, that she eventually took out a restraining order on her father and hired a bodyguard.

Jelena Dokic’s father, Damir, was known for abusing Jelena physically and mentally and basically ruining what could have been a great tennis career.  She left her family in 2002 to escape the violence. Damir was imprisoned in June 2009 for threatening to blow up the Australian embassy in Belgrade with a hand grenade, demanding the ambassador put a stop to media reports in Australia saying that he had physically abused his daughter while he was her coach.

Back in May 2013, Bernard Tomic’s dad was accused of head-butting Bernard’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet. According to Drouet’s diaries, which recount the living hell Drouet went through as a part of Tomic’s team, John would verbally and physically abuse Bernard and the rest of the team while on tour. He witnessed John striking Bernard during a practice and, after approaching the father about this incident, John assaulted Drouet.

Why have fanatical parents infiltrated the sport of tennis? Could it be because of the mental toughness that tennis requires in the first place, and it consumes the lives of both players and coaches? In an interview with The Guardian back in 2006, Judy Murray, parent and former coach of current world number 3 Andy Murray, says how young tennis players need to be pushed a little in the beginning. However, she states, if they really want it they will accomplish it in the end for themselves. Without a crazy parent.

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US Open Women’s Draw Preview

After Azarenka beat Serena last week for the title in Cincinnati, all tennis experts turned their attention towards Azarenka and Serena being the favorites for the upcoming US Open. Although these two are by far the heavy favorites, I’ve picked a few select players that may not necessarily contend for the title, but could make deep runs in the tournament. Or they might just pull a Marion Bartoli.

Radwanska’s quarter

 

Li Na: This woman from China could contend for the title. She has a tricky draw, but if she plays aggressively she can do it.

Her draw: She will most likely face Laura Robson in the third round. I think she will avenge her loss from last year. Next round she will face Cirstea, whom she lost to in Toronto. Again, she will be out for blood. However, in the next round she will probably face either Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki or Radwanska. If Radwanska gets past Lisicki, Li Na has the weapons on hard court to overpower the Pole. If she plays Lisicki, who will want to prove she can play well outside of the grass, Lisicki will most likely outhit Li Na.

Prediction: If facing Radwanska in quarters, she will win. If facing Lisicki, she will lose. However, after either of these players she would be facing Serena.

Sorana Cirstea: Where did this girl come from? She has had an amazing summer, reaching the finals of Toronto and also the semis of Stanford.

Her draw: Her first two rounds will most likely be qualifiers, which she should not have a problem with. She might see problems in Monica Puig, but Puig hasn’t had fantastic results on hard courts this summer. Li Na will be looking to avenge her loss from Toronto in this intriguing fourth-round match-up.

Prediction: Fourth-round loss to Li Na.

Sabine Lisicki: Sabine will always be looking to improve on making the Wimbledon final by winning her first grand slam title. While I do not think this is her tournament to finally do that, she can do major damage. The weapons that are most fearful on grass can also translate to the hard courts in New York.

Her draw: The match I’m most interested in this tournament is the rematch between Lisicki and Radwanska in the fourth round. Although Radwanska will want her revenge, I think the German will take over once more. Her booming serve and forehand will work lovely on the hard courts. While Radwanska has a fantastic defensive game, I don’t think it will be enough on the hard courts. If she gets through Radwanska, Li Na will most likely be on the other side of the net. Although Li Na has had a successful summer, I do not think she will have the firepower or defensive game to defeat the German. If Lisicki is on top of her game.

Prediction: Semi-final loss to Serena.

Semi-finalist: Sabine Lisicki

Serena’s Quarter

Sloane Stephens: Honestly, Sloane is the only one in Serena’s quarter that could give her trouble. Sloane wowed the world back in January by knocking off the favorite to win in Australia, Serena. She showed us that she does indeed have the firepower and the mental game to beat the top players and make a deep run. Out of all these players I would say she is the best bet to take the title.

Her draw: She’s looking at playing Baby Rad in the second round and fellow American, Jamie Hampton in the third. She can handle Radwanska and I do not think she will have a problem defeating Hampton. Then comes the rematch between her and Serena.

Prediction: Fourth-round loss to Serena, but expect a tough battle between the Americans.

Semi-Finalist: Serena Williams

Errani’s quarter

Caroline Wozniacki: I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but this tournament will be (should be) Woz’s light in the midst of a dark tunnel. She showed us that she is capable of aggression in beating Sloane Stephens in New Haven the other day. She has made the final here in New York before. She has wins over the top players, like Serena. She CAN do it.

Her draw: This is why the US Open is her time to shine. Easy draw. Now she has had easy draws before, but has still lost to the likes of Cetkovska and Paszek, but she can do it. After her semi-final loss in New Haven to Halep, she will want to prove that she can win. She will face Errani in the quarters, if they both get that far. Errani has not had a great summer. Caroline will need to jump at this opportunity and seize the day.

Prediction: Semi-final loss to Azarenka/Stosur/Kvitova.

Semi-Finalist: Caroline Wozniacki

Azarenka’s quarter

Sam Stosur: This Aussie obviously loves the hard courts in Flushing Meadows. She showed us two years ago she has all the weapons to defeat top players like Serena. And she has backed up that result with more success. She beat Azarenka for the Carlsbad title a few weeks ago.

Her draw: Her first three rounds should not be a problem. Then it gets tricky. She will most likely face Kvitova in the fourth round then Azarenka in quarters. Petra will be tired and overworked from her run at the New Haven Open, and if Sam is on top of her game she will get under Petra’s skin.

Prediction: Final loss to Serena. She has all the weapons to pull off beating Azarenka in the quarters. And if she can beat Azarenka, she can handle whoever comes out of Errani’s quarter.

Petra Kvitova: Fresh off her run at New Haven Open and other successes this summer, Kvitova will go into the US Open rather confident. However, she may still be tired from playing this weekend while most top players are resting. Her recent successes could either benefit her or destroy her.

Her draw: While she faces a tough opponent in either Petkovic or Jovanovski second round, she should breeze through the first three rounds. In the fourth round she will most likely face Stosur. Both of these players are going into the open with much confidence; however Stosur will be rested to face the challenge. After playing this weekend at the New Haven Open then going through three rounds, I don’t think she’ll be on top of her game.

Prediction: Fourth round loss to Stosur.

Dominika Cibulkova: Although suffering a first-round loss in New Haven, Dom has had a great summer. She beat Cirstea and both Radwanska sisters to win in Stanford, then followed up that title by making the quarters in Toronto.

Her draw: She will have a tough second round against either McHale or Goerges, and also a tricky third round against Ivanovic. I expect her to get through these players to face Azarenka. She will make a run at least to the fourth round, where she will put up a good fight against Vika.

Prediction: Fourth-round loss to Azarenka.

Semi-finalist: Stosur

Finals: Serena vs. Stosur

Winner: Serena

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Sexism Does It Again

I hope Marion Bartoli stays away from the Internet the next few days.

After Marion Bartoli of France beat Sabine Lisicki to win her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon today, I saw a sexist outcry from sports “fans” all over the world. I could not believe my eyes. The words ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ and other unspeakable words always accompanied her name. One observer even went to the extent of saying, “Bartoli didn’t deserve to win because she’s ugly.” Another said she “cannot be the new face of Wimbledon.” Even John Inverdale of BBC said (while live in the radio), “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little ‘You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight.’”

Oh, so everyone who doesn’t look like Maria Sharapova has to make up for it by, um I don’t know, playing the sport well? Despicable. Absolutely disgusting. This woman (who I heard is one of the sweetest women in sports) worked her butt off to earn this title. She did not drop a set throughout the tournament whilst taking advantage of the withdrawals and losses of other top players. She played some of the best tennis I’ve seen.

So why is everyone in an uproar? Have tennis beauties such as Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova maybe given tennis a certain reputation? Has the public become used to seeing model-like young girls grace the face of tennis? Everyone expects players to be tall, skinny, blonde, and physically flawless. It saddens me to think you will only get the approval of the public by being marketable and not necessarily playing the sport well. I think what Marion has done for the sport of tennis makes her beautiful. For more information, look up the achievements of Anna Kournikova compared to the amount of money she’s made off court. The two variables are not related.

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