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Archive for the ‘titlists’ Category

The Week In Winners: First Titles For Anderson & Dodig

Posted by gauloises1 on February 7, 2011

Rather a bizarre week in the ATP, wasn’t it? In Johannesburg, weird-looking giant homeboy Kevin Anderson captured the title; he was the fourth seed, but I don’t think anybody quite expected that. Still, with seeds tumbling earlier in the week, Anderson had a good opportunity and made the most of it, beating Adrian Mannarino in the semis and Somdev Devvarman in the final to take his first ATP title at the age of 24.

In Santiago, veteran Tommy Robredo took his tenth title (and his first since this time back in 2009), staging a comeback against Santiago Giraldo who served for the match up 5-2 in the second set before Robredo prevailed in three.

Robredo’s on to Costa do Saiupe next, where he’ll face Fabio Fognini who he defeated in the Santiago semi-finals, not unacrimoniously:

(via FueBuena)

Once I was a little boy
Then Fognini called me a piece of shit*
Ahahahahaha.

And rounding off the week in bizarre occurrences, pretty much the only Croatian in the draw who no-one expected to win Zagreb won Zagreb – namely, Ivan Dodig, who backed up consecutive upsets of Ivan Ljubicic and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez by defeating eighth seed and last year’s finalist Michael Berrer for the title.

It’s always a great feel-good story when a journeyman has a good week and takes his first title, particularly when it happens in front of his home crowd. Particularly impressive for Dodig, as he had to contend with the Worst Coitus Interruptus Ever:

Dear oh dear.

*not an actual translation

Posted in ivan dodig, johannesburg, kevin anderson, santiago, titlists, tommy robredo, zagreb | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Coming Of Age.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

I remember a few years ago arguing with a Fedal-loving friend about Novak Djokovic. She cited the usual arguments: he’s cocky; his parents are awful; he disrespects his opponents by impersonating them; he retires too much; he’s too desperate to be liked. I pointed out that those things were even at the time too outmoded to be used as evidence, and added that the process of Djokovic growing up, adjusting to his status and learning to own it, and dealing with his own fluctuating confidence was reason enough to want to watch him. She said that not being a child psychologist, she had no interest in seeing him grow up. Fine, I said. But I do.

2011 Australian Open men’s singles champion.

“Me?”

Yes, you.

Novak Djokovic is the champion in Melbourne for a second time, but there’s no illusion of coming full circle. He’s three years older, immeasurably wiser, and a much, much better player. And we all had a chance to see him without his hair for a bit, so now we’re able to fully appreciate it. This story could not be better.

Like a kitten, I tell you.

OK, it could have been better. It would have been, well, nicer for me if his great win didn’t come at the expense of Andy Murray once again falling at the final hurdle, by which we mean looking basically like a chump in a Slam final. I’m so not in the mood to participate in the what’s-wrong-with-Andy-Murray game right now, partly because I don’t think that he showed us anything different in this final to the ones he’s played before; the difference is that it was Djokovic across the net, not Federer, so the disappointment is that much greater apparently. And that’s a point of view that’s not only vaguely disrespectful but totally blind to the player that Djokovic has become over the past six months.

Murray was lame at times, flat at others, and just not there in the way he needed to be. But the disappointment of the last two sets overshadows the brilliance of the first nine games when it looked like it was going to be a fantastic contest, and the main reason that it wasn’t lies in the fact that once Djokovic had the first set in the bag, he simply ran away with the match. Every time Murray did have an opportunity to get back into the match, Djokovic snuffed it out with that pummeling forehand and brilliant defending. Murray will have his moment, but this wasn’t it.

This moment belonged to Djokovic. I didn’t have a chance to talk about Djokovic’s victory over Federer – remarkably stupid scheduling decisions on my part, sorry – but ever since last year’s US Open, he’s looked a different player. Not back to his old self, but a new and better player, with an improved forehand, a smarter tactical sense, and a confidence that seemed rooted deeper and hence less likely to be peeled away by success or the lack of it. After all the losses, heartbreaking and lacklustre alike, his health problems and what looked like an inability to draw a clear line between his life off court and what happened on it, he’s come out of the other side a new man and a better player. And we all got to watch it happen. Tennis is great.

Djokovic has always talked a good game, but I can’t have been the only person impressed by his conduct on Sunday, both on the court and in his press conference. He was poised and mature, looking every inch the champion from the moment he first set foot on Rod Laver; his celebrations were muted, in line with the match; and his victory speech, in which he dedicated the victory to Serbia and took the time to acknowledge the Australian flood victims, was moving.

Q. You took a tough loss here last year, Roland Garros obviously, and then even Wimbledon. Did something happen in between Wimbledon and the hard courts where you regained confidence?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court. I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.

The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track. That’s what I did.

Q. Can you talk about some of those secrets that you discovered about yourself that helped you get back on track?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, you know, something switched in my head. It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.

But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.

This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.

source

Developing as a person and a tennis player doesn’t always happen at a constant rate or go in a positive direction, and you only have to look at Andy Murray to know that that’s true. I’m not saying Djokovic is suddenly a saint or is going to be winning everything from now on. He’s just a man, albeit more a man than ever. But right now – for now – he’s absolutely at the peak of the tennis world. And he looks so good there. I hope it lasts.

 

Posted in andy murray, australian open, novak djokovic, titlists | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

Aussie Kim.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 31, 2011

The dust has settled, all bets are in and it’s the bookies’ favourite, Kim Clijsters, holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. If you’d canvassed popular opinion before the tournament, I think most people would have picked Clijsters for the very position she’s in now. But it’s a credit to the Happy Slam (also known as the Oh Help Me God I Need To Sleep Slam) and the WTA that up until the last moment, it never felt like a foregone conclusion.

For the first five rounds, Clijsters did not look in imperious or unbeatable form. Ekaterina Makarova and a match-shy Agnieszka Radwanska both came nicely close to taking a set from her, and the fact that they didn’t really said more about them than Clijsters. Even in the semifinals, when she knocked off Zvonareva 3 and 3, that had more the feeling of the inevitable capitulation of Zvonareva in the big match than Clijsters imposing her will on the Russian. The sparkle of the tournament had largely come from the guts-and-glory play of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone, both of whom were out, and in Li Na she was facing probably the form player of the Australian Open who had accounted for Victoria Azarenka, Andrea Petkovic and world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. To summarise, neither in theory nor practice was this match as easy as Clijsters’ last two strolls through Slam finals and Li Na’s surrender of her serve to love in the opening game suggested.

Credit where credit’s due, and Li Na certainly showed up for this match; as the men’s final demonstrated, that’s not necessarily a given. After her initial nerves subsided, she played like a woman enjoying the greatest form and confidence of her career, dominating with her breathtaking all-out aggressive style. She defended and scrambled better than I’ve ever seen her, playing a real all-court game. Unfortunately for her, nobody plays that game better than Clijsters. Her defence is as ridiculously eyecatching as Djokovic’s, and when she starts to alternately bludgeon and find angles with her forehand as she did in the second and third sets, there’s almost nobody who can beat her.

There were moments in this match when the tennis was so fun I lost sight of the fact that it was a Slam final. As Kim’s reaction on championship point shows, she never did. Tearful, almost disbelieving, she looked like someone who’d been wandering in the wilderness a long time, not someone who won the last Slam and was a strong favourite for this one. It was a great surprise to see her react that way, as much as it was to see Li Na taking defeat in her stride and beaming as she talked about her husband and her supporters at home.

God knows, the “mom” angle is done to death when talking about Kim Clijsters, and it drives me crazy; from the hammed-up jaw-dropping amazement that a woman can combine life as a wife and mother with a successful professional career, as if women around the world don’t do that every single day, to the barely-concealed relief that she can be neither unfeminine nor a sex object, because she’s got a working uterus, Jada Jada Jada. Perhaps because it’s the first time that she’s really been pushed in a Slam final since her comeback, I saw with fresh eyes her balls-out competitiveness and willingness to fight, and fierce joy in winning. I love that those things can not just coexist, but reach their peak, in a woman whose family and personal life seem as happy and well-balanced as she does. It felt like such a healthy triumph, and I loved it.

Well done Aussie Kim.

Posted in australian open, kim clijsters, li na, titlists | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Mammoth Titlist … list

Posted by gauloises1 on July 19, 2010

I have to apologise for my protracted absence. Life stuff in the first half of the week followed by sustaining a silly and very painful eye injury on Wednesday which required me to lie in the dark being very bored … Well, that’s my excuse.

So who’s been winning while I’ve been away?

Bastad – ATP

Almagro continued his quest for universal popularity by beating Robin Soderling 75 36 62 for his sixth career title and first since Acapulco in 2009.

Bastad – WTA

Aravane Rezai beat Gisela Dulko 63 46 64 for her fourth career title and second this year. She’s now 4-0 in finals.

Budapest

Agnes Szavay defended her title, beating last year’s whipping woman Patty Schnyder 62 64.

Newport

While everyone else was playing Davis Cup last weekend, Mardy Fish won the soup thing.

Palermo

Quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and now defeater of Flavia Pennetta on home clay, Kaia Kanepi, ladies and gentlemen.

Prague

Second title in one post two weeks for Agnes Szavay, this time over Stepanova wedding guest Zahlalova Strycova, and she seems to have just about found her feet on clay for 2010. Never accused of good timing, our Agnes.

Stuttgart

A fifth career title for Montanes, conqueror of Federer earlier this year in Estoril, didn’t quite come the way he would have wanted after Gael Monfils turned his ankle at the end of the first set and was forced to retire 1-2 down in the second. Get better soon, Gael. Incidentally, five career titles and he doesn’t even get a look in on Davis Cup? Sometimes I wish I was Spanish.

Posted in agnes szavay, albert montanes, aravane rezai, bstaad, budapest, kaia kanepi, mardy fish, newport, nicolas almagro, palermo, patty schnyder, prague, stuttgart, titlists | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Wimbledon Titlists: And the Rest

Posted by gauloises1 on July 6, 2010

Congratulations to the other champions from Wimbledon 2010. It’s been an amazing fortnight for all sorts of people.

Mixed Doubles: Paes/Black d. Moodie/Raymond, 64 76(5)

I watched them lose last year, so this pleases.

Ladies’ Doubles: Shvedova/King d. Vesnina/Zvonareva, 76(6) 62

Tough day for Vera, but these two are adorable.

And my favourite team of the year …

Gentlemen’s Doubles: Petzschner/Melzer d. Lindstedt/Tecau, 61 75 75

To quote Petzsch, “I’ve fcking won wimbledon!omg.”

Classic.

And among the juniors …

Boys’ Singles: Marton Fucsovics d. Benjamin Mitchell, 64 64

Fucsovics? Yes please. Also delighted to see he’s carrying on the tradition of boys’ singles winners being cute as a little pie.

Girls’ Singles: Kristyna Pliskova d. Sachie Ishizu, 63 46 64

The Czech Republic = the new Serbia?

And a quartet of tiny Tims …

Boys’ Doubles: Tom Farquharson/Liam Broady d. Lewis Burton/George Morgan

I nominate all four to the GBR Davis Cup squad, effective immediately.

Posted in benjamin mitchell, british tennis, cara black, jurgen melzer, kristyna pliskovic, leander paes, liam broady, marton fucsovics, philipp petzchner, sachie ishizu, titlists, tom farquharson, vania king, wimbledon, yaroslava shvedova | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 13: No Muss, Some Fuss

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Rafael Nadal d. Tomas Berdych, 63 75 64

[insert superlative]

You know, my sister – irritatingly – had the poor taste to be born on a Wimbledon semifinals day way back when, and compounds her error by insisting on some form of ‘celebration’ of her birthday every year which almost always prevents me from watching the men’s final. I ask you. Anyway, I was explaining to someone at work today that I hadn’t had time to watch it back yet. “Don’t bother,” he advised. “Watch the highlights.” And this is a tennis-mad sports journo talking.

I disregarded that advice, obviously, but having watched the whole thing, I don’t have that much to say about the actual match; clinical rather than exhilarating from Rafa, just too many errors from Berdych (although no doubt Rafa would have raised his level had Berdych raised his). It didn’t need to be that big a performance from Rafa, though, and I’m not casting aspersions on Berdych here; he had already in a sense had his big performances of the tournament, first by overcoming some determined challenges from underdogs Petzchner and Haase (and I do attribute that to the level of play they showed, rather than Rafa being sub-par), and secondly in his dominance of Soderling and Murray. Nothing left to do on the Sunday but get the job done, and that’s what he did, emphatically.

A word, of course, for Tomas Berdych, who I think has caught a bit of undeserved flak for his performance yesterday; he was hardly bad, just a little overpowered by the occasion (and there was that dude at the other end of the court). First finals are hard; people talk about ‘nothing to lose’, but as Francesca Schiavone astutely pointed out before the French Open final, whenever you’re playing for something, there’s always something to lose. Besides, I imagine you’re not thinking about your ‘first’ final in that situation as much as you are thinking ‘this might be my only final’.

He’s had, of course, a fantastic tournament, doing that thing that’s always a thrill when a talented player finds whatever recipe it is that works in order to do what people have always suspected he could. And I was encouraged by the way he talked quite soberly, both in his on-court interview and his press conference, about knuckling down and kicking on and building on what he’s achieved. I really hope he can. I want to see more of the kind of tennis he’s played to light a fire under these championships.

And that smile …

Rafa, though. I think it speaks volumes for how finely-balanced the state of affairs is at the top of the men’s game when it feels this noteworthy for the no. 1 player (albeit not the no. 1 seed) to win Wimbledon. When you consider where and how Rafa was twelve months ago, to have come back stronger and – I don’t think there can be any doubt – looking more dominant than ever before is really remarkable. I mean … what can you say? You know it all, anyway. And honestly, how many people in history have celebrated their eighth Grand Slam with a roly-poly on Centre Court that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the field at lunchtime? That’s Rafa. Can’t wait to see what he does if and when he wins the US Open.

I do want to say how pleased I am for the lovely Rafa fans I know – Jewell and AmyLu in particular, neither of whom I know really believed this would happen this year.

Surprise!

So … who’s taking bets on a career Slam now, then?

Posted in rafael nadal, titlists, tomas berdych, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 12: “Hey, Billie, I Got You!”

Posted by gauloises1 on July 5, 2010

Serena Williams d. Vera Zvonareva, 63 62

On Saturday, Serena Williams picked up her fourth Wimbledon title and her thirteenth Grand Slam over all, overtaking Billie Jean King in the all-time standings. And she did it without dropping a set and without facing a break in the final. That’s about as dominant a performance as you will ever, ever see. Gobsmacking stuff.

OK, so it wasn’t the most interesting final to watch, but if you consider Serena’s performance over the seven matches throughout the fortnight as the spectacle, then you know you’ve seen something.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Vera, as there was basically nothing she could do; she could have played a good 15% better, and there still would have been nothing she could have done. Her run to the final was exceptional and she did her best on the day, although she must have hoped for so much more from it, but the way she handled herself after such a painful experience – the dignity and the depth of emotion she showed – was both impressive and endearing. And if she can kick on from this tournament and play with something approaching the same level of conviction, we could be looking at a whole different Vera Zvonareva in the latter phase of her career. Could be very interesting.

And she’s still got the hottest coach since Hugo Le Coq. So there’s always that.

Serena, though. I don’t want to belabor this angle, but it was the first Wimbledon title she’s won where she didn’t face Venus in the final (which I tend to feel always makes her the underdog, at least in her own mind), and to produce that kind of performance as the overwhelming favourite is quite something. Presumably I’m very late to the party on this (I prefer it that way, you don’t have to stay as long), but I find I’m having to readjust my thinking on Serena. For the first time, I’m truly placing her in the context of history, and not in a vaguely patronising breaking boundaries sense; in the sense of having a legitimate claim to being considered one of the greatest players of all time. Things look a lot different with those interpretive lenses on, and I’m curious to see whether, as I partly believe, Serena’s biggest accomplishments might be yet to come.

There was just such a, well, serenity about her in this tournament. Even when she barely drops a set on the way to other titles, there’s always a turmoil, a struggle that fuels her performances. While she was tested – that first set against Sharapova springs immediately to mind – I never felt like she was battling herself. She seemed, I don’t know, centred. Even in the BBC interviews I saw her give, she was totally at ease with herself and what she was trying to achieve, never more so than when she was laughing at herself. Perhaps I’m completely off-base, but I honestly feel right now like Serena could win three Slams a year for the next three years, because she’s found her groove. I don’t know, what do you think?

Anyway, she nabbed a Wimbledon this weekend, and that’ll do to be going on with.

Thirteen, baby.

Posted in serena williams, titlists, vera zvonareva, wimbledon | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Li Na Takes Edgbaston Title

Posted by gauloises1 on June 14, 2010

Li Na d. Maria Sharapova, 75 61

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see any of this tournament apart from the final. According to reports, however, Maria’s performance today was something of a drop from the standard set throughout the week, as she found herself outserved and outplayed by Li Na (who beat her in the semifinals last year). Cracking match from Li Na and a well-deserved title.

Also a well-deserved gravy boat.

Posted in birmingham, li na, maria sharapova, titlists | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Halle: Welcome To The H-Word

Posted by gauloises1 on June 14, 2010

Lleyton Hewitt d. Roger Federer, 36 76(4) 64

The year of the former pigeon continues as Lleyton Hewitt overturned a run of fifteen straight defeats to Roger Federer to take the Halle title. I missed the first set, but from what I saw Federer became increasingly erratic and unfocussed as the match went on. Lleyton, by contrast, just became more and more cool and accurate with his groundstrokes and sealed the win in veteran style long after it felt like it was inevitable.

I just like this photo.

Clearly, the days in which you knew which Federer was going to turn up week to week are gone. This has been the case for a while, but it still seems to surprise, particularly when the victor is someone who Federer partly built his reputation on being able to consistently demolish at will. I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t mean terribly much for Wimbledon, except maybe that it makes it a tiny bit more interesting, but there’s no way that Federer is going to turn in the same kind of somewhat listless performance there he did here.

Somewhere in here is the knowledge of how to play this game.

I don’t want to take anything away from Rusty, because I thought he played brilliantly. And this is, let’s forget, when he’s still getting back into the swing of things after his second hip surgery. Age and adversity have definitely mellowed him, or maybe just my response to him, because I love to see him get a great win these days. And this time he can’t follow it up by beating Elf in the second round at Wimbledon. Yay.

‘maaaaawn the little Aussie battler.

Posted in halle, lleyton hewitt, roger federer, titlists | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Queens: USA 2, England 0

Posted by gauloises1 on June 14, 2010

Sam Querrey d. Mardy Fish, 76(3) 75

Big, jug-eared trophy, big, jug-eared man.

Sam Querrey came out on top in the Final No-one Saw Coming, capitalising on being the only seed left in the draw after everyone’s picks for the title crashed out earlier in the competition: Rafa Nadal lost to the excellent Feliciano Lopez, Novak Djokovic to Xavier Malisse, Andy Murray to Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick to pocket rocket Dudi Sela, and Marin Cilic to Michael Llodra. It was that sort of week, so credit to Querrey and Fish for making it to the final. Fish looked the better player all week and indeed served for the second set, but seemed to be overpowered by his own desire and rather collapsed at the end of the match, leaving the field clear for Sam’s well-executed baseline game.

Both boys were suitably charming in the post-match analysis, with Sam earning bonus points for meretriciously picking England to win the World Cup and thereby deserving the traditional somewhat awkward Queens locker-room trophy photo shoot.

Strike a pose, it turns out there is something to it.

That’s Sam’s third title for the year (only Rafa has more) and he’s picked up one indoors, on clay and grass. Not a bad year for the emo one. Not bad at all.

Incidentally, if anyone’s still interested in my Queens experiences earlier in the week, I’ll try to write something. Actually, I probably will even if nobody is. So there.

Posted in mardy fish, queens, sam querrey, titlists | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »