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Potential 4th Round Blockbusters at the 2012 Australian Open 6

Posted on January 20, 2012 by JA Allen

Victoria Azarenka is favored to win her first major down under.

As week one at the Australian Open in Melbourne draws to a close, there are some mouth-watering matches we earnestly pray will happen. They involve top-ranked players as well as aspiring new-comers hoping to reach the summit by upsetting those at the top.

We have already seen some heart-breakers like No. 6 seed Aussie Samantha Stosur stumbling out of the blocks as well as the top-ranked American Mardy Fish going out in the second round.

But when a door closes, a window opens. These upsets might unveil a new talent preparing his or her first full-fledged assault on a major.

As we head into round four, also called the round of 16, there are some challenging matches on tap—if only all the promised ones make it through the third round staging ground.

Following are the matches we sincerely hope will happen.

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Djokovic? Federer? The Odds-On Favorites to Win the 2012 Australian Open 52

Posted on January 12, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer won his last Australian Open title in 2010.

It is that time of the year when the snow is blowing while ice drips off your nose in the Midwest. Meanwhile, tennis moves “down under” to the warmth of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The official draw unfolded on Friday. That is when we saw whether the No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic would face Roger Federer or Andy Murray in the semifinals, assuming all the usual suspects make it that far.

Last year during the Australian Open Federer faced Djokovic in the semifinals, losing in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 while Nadal, suffering from injury, folded early in the quarterfinals to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

At the 2011 French Open, Djokovic suffered his first defeat of the season during the semifinals when Roger Federer upset him 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. Nadal, on the other hand, breezed past Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.  In the final, Federer, who has never defeated Nadal at Stade Roland Garros, failed once again—losing 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1.

When the tour moved on to Wimbledon, Djokovic and Federer were once again drawn into the same half.  But this time, Federer did not meet Djokovic. He lost in the quarterfinals to an on-fire Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France—even after winning the first two sets, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal, once again, took care of Murray in the semifinals while Djokovic dismissed Tsonga.  In the final, Djokovic prevailed with surprising ease over the now world No. 2 Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

The 2011 US Open would prove to be the piece de resistance for Djokovic and a major blow for Federer. The Big Four made it to the semifinals where, once again, Djokovic faced Federer while Nadal manhandled Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  The other US Open semifinal should have gone to Federer who took the first two sets.  But even after serving for the match in the fifth set, Federer remained unable to close it out and Djokovic came back to win  6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.  In the final, Nadal was once again unable to dominate the Serb. Djokovic won 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1—claiming his third major title of 2011 and the No. 1 ranking.

After suffering a slump at the end of the year, pundits are once again pondering—can Djokovic do it again?  Only time will tell.  Right now, he must defend his title at the Australian Open.  Odds are in his favor at the moment.

Who will win the Aussie Open men’s title in 2012?  For a change of pace, Djokovic has been drawn into the same half as the No. 4 seed, Andy Murray while world No. 2 Nadal is scheduled to face Federer in the semifinals, should both make it that far.

Here are the top ten odds-on favorites to win the 2012 Australian Open.

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Playing the Tennis Rankings Game: Reviewing the Top 10 in 2011… 9

Posted on November 02, 2011 by JA Allen

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the new world No. 1 in men's tennis.

What a difference a year makes. Nothing brings that point home more than looking back at the men’s and women’s tennis rankings at the end of 2010—and comparing it to today’s ranking.

For the last two years,  the ladies’ rankings were as follows:

2010

  1. Caroline Wozniacki
  2. Vera Zvonareva
  3. Kim Clijsters
  4. Serena Williams
  5. Venus Williams
  6. Samantha Stosur
  7. Francesca Schiavone
  8. Jelena Jankovic
  9. Elena Dementieva
  10. Victoria Azarenka

2011

  1. Caroline Wozniacki
  2. Petra Kvitova
  3. Victoria Azarenka
  4. Maria Sharapova
  5. Na Li
  6. Samantha Stosur
  7. Vera Zvonareva
  8. Agnieszka Radwanska
  9. Marion Bartoli
  10. Andrea Petkovic

Only four of the WTA top ten ranked women at end of 2010 appear again in the top ten in 2011 after the ladies concluded their battle for the 2011 WTA championship.

Many of the perennial “standards” have faded from sight with no Williams sisters or Kim Clijsters making the cut.

For the men, the story is a bit different. While the ATP top ten ranked players at the end of 2010 had a different order, most of the names are the same in 2011—now, as the final three men struggle to make the ATP elite eight field for the 2011 year-end championship.

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Andy Murray Passes Federer in World Rankings 20

Posted on October 21, 2011 by William Taylor

Andy Murray has risen to third in the tennis rankings.

Andy Murray has surged ahead of former world number one, Roger Federer to third in the latest tennis world rankings.

It comes after the Scot impressively won the Shanghai Masters by defeating David Ferrer 7-5, 6-4 to claim his fifth title of the year.

This was the second consecutive year that Murray lifted the title, but he admits he is not getting carried away just yet.

He said: “I’m still not guaranteed to finish at number three, I’m going to have to win some more matches.

“But if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then there’s not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that.”

The rankings change comes as little surprise, however, with the ageing Federer’s perfomances steadily declining from the days where he dominated the game and earned acclaim as one of the sport’s greatest ever players.

Indeed, this is the first time that fourth-placed Federer has been outside of the world’s top three since winning Wimbledon back in 2003.

Tennis betting pundits note how that was the first of the 16 hugely impressive grand slam titles that he has won to date, undoubtedly elevating him to the pantheon of the greats.

But Murray is under no illusions as to the threat that Federer still poses, and knows he will not give up on trying to reclaim his top three position. Read the rest of this entry →

A Reversal of Fortunes: Novak Djokovic Derailed Rafael Nadal 23

Posted on September 08, 2011 by JA Allen

Novak Djokovic captured his second grand slam title at the 2011 Australian Open

A year ago at the conclusion of the 2010 US Open, Rafael Nadal was king of the mountain, having just captured his first US Open trophy and a career grand slam.

He had 10,475 ATP ranking points, leading Roger Federer by 3,260 points, Novak Djokovic by 3, 810 and Andy Murray by 5,350 total points.

Life was good.

Things were definitely looking up for the world No. 1 who had just completed the best summer season of his life on the tennis court.

By the end of 2010 Nadal remained the top dog with 12,450 points leading world No. 2 Federer by 3,305 points, Djokovic by 6,205 points and No. 4 Murray by 6,690 points.

The two top-ranked players were separating themselves from the rest of the pack, and that included No. 3 Djokovic and No. 4 Murray. That meant the continuing Federer-Nadal iron grip at the top was going to be “the” tennis story of 2011.

Or was it?

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Men’s Tennis Power Ranking: Novak Djokovic Stays Hot Heading into New York City 1

Posted on August 24, 2011 by JA Allen

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City

As the 2011 US Open gets underway on Monday, August 29, we suddenly realize that we have arrived at the last major of year.

Many compelling story lines have carried us to this point. Throughout the year, the sports media remained poised on the brink, waiting, as Serb Novak Djokovic first surpassed No. 2 Roger Federer and then No. 1 Rafael Nadal to secure the top spot in men’s tennis.

Starting back in January as players journeyed to Melbourne, the year appeared to stretch ahead forever. The talk then concerned Rafael Nadal winning the 2011 Australian Open. The victory would have made Nadal the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to own all four slam titles at one time.

Dreams of the “Rafa Slam” ended in Australia when Nadal endured a left thigh injury. Nadal lost his quarterfinal match to compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3––in pain, yet, all the while refusing to retire.

Aspirations of Roger Federer winning his fifth Australian Open Championship also died when the Swiss lost to Novak Djokovic during the Australian Open semifinals––in straight sets. Djokovic went on to demolish Andy Murray in the 2011 finals, also in straight sets.

Since scaling his way into the men’s top ten in 2007, the Serb finally managed to make it all the way to the top in 2011. He took Federer’s No. 2 ranking at Indian Wells, defeating the Swiss in the semifinals. Djokovic took Nadal’s No. 1 ranking at Wimbledon as well as the championship trophy.

The new world No. 1 lost twice in 2011. He was defeated in his semifinal bid at Roland Garros to Roger Federer. Djokovic also lost to Andy Murray on Sunday August 21 in Cincinnati.  Otherwise, the Serb remains perfect in 2011, as he prepares for the upcoming US Open.

Djokovic continues to dominate the power rankings heading into the last major of the season.

Following are the top ten men, with rankings based on their last four tennis tournament appearances.

Read the rest of this entry →

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