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Tennis March Madness: The Top 9 Who Won Back-To-Back Titles at Indian Wells & Miami 66

Posted on March 04, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer won the Key Biscayne/Miami title in 2005

March Madness has its own special setting for tennis. Prior to the start of the dusty clay-court season in April, the tour swings through the States landing first in the California desert at a venue called Indian Wells before proceeding to Miami and the Sony Ericsson Open.

Both tournaments field players for a Masters 1000 for the men and a premiere mandatory event for the ladies with 96 participants in the field. Play extends over 10 days, which is unusual for a Masters Series tournament.

The BNP Paribas Open held at Indian Wells will begin March 8, 2012, concluding on March 18.  The Sony Ericsson Open will follow, starting on March 21, 2012, and ending on April 1.

For the men, multiple winners of each tournament remain relatively rare when you consider the number of participants each year.

But the true piece de resistance of the March Madness swing through Indian Wells and Miami is winning both titles, back-to-back in the same year. Surviving to win one of these tournaments is a testament to a player’s endurance, but to win both in the same season is one of the most difficult doubles of the tennis tour.

Only nine players, both men and women, have accomplished this rare feat to date. Only one man and one woman claimed the double more than once—Roger Federer and Steffi Graf.

Indian Wells

Eight men have won Indian Wells more than once.

Boris Becker (1987-1988), Jim Courier (1991, 1993), Michael Chang (1992, 1996-1997), Pete Sampras (1994-1995), Lleyton Hewitt (2002-2003), Roger Federer (2004-2006), Rafael Nadal (2007, 2009) and Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011) all captured the trophy at Indian Wells more than one time.

Only Federer and Chang can claim three titles—so far.

Seven ladies including Martina Navratilova (1990-1991), Mary Jo Fernandez (1993, 1995), Steffi Graf (1994,1996), Lindsay Davenport (1997, 2000), Serena Williams (1999, 2001), Daniela Hantuchova (2002, 2007), and Kim Clijsters (2003, 2005) have won the championship at Indian Wells.

None of the ladies have managed to win the tournament more than twice.

Key Biscayne/Miami

Locale for the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami

Only six men have won the championship in Miami more than once, although Andre Agassi managed six titles during his long, illustrious career.

Ivan Lendl (1986, 1989), Andre Agassi (1990, 1995-1996, 2001-2003), Sampras (1993-1994, 2000), Federer (2005-2006), Andy Roddick (2004, 2010), and Djokovic (2007, 2011) have all brought home multiple titles.

By the same token, eight women have won the championship in Miami more than once with  Graf and Serena Williams bringing home the most titles with five each.

Graf (1987-1988, 1994-1996), Monica Seles (1990-1991), Arantxa Sanchez (1992-1993), Martina Hingis (1997, 2000), Venus Williams (1998-1999, 2001), Serena Williams (2002-2004, 2007-2008), Clijsters (2005, 2010) and Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2011) represent the some of the best of the best in the women’s game.

But only nine players in the history of these tournaments have won both respective championships in the same year.  They follow.

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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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Women’s Tennis Power Rankings: Queen Victoria Azarkena Reigns after Miami 5

Posted on April 08, 2011 by Ronger Fengerer

Victoria Azarenka won the women's championship in Miami.

Since the conclusion of the first major of the year—the Australian Open—there has been 11 tournaments and ten winners on the WTA tour. The only double-titlist? Caroline Wozniacki, the current world No. 1.

These Power Rankings focus more on the recent tournaments, aiming to give a measure of form rather than overall ability. In the current case, results from the last two Premier Mandatory events at Miami and Indian Wells will largely decide the rankings.

However, that won’t do justice to many titlists who aren’t featured in the power rankings.

Here’s a quick list of honorable-mentions:

Petra Kvitova won her second title of the year at Paris, also triumphing at Brisbane at the begging of the season. She subsequently rose to a career-high ranking of No. 14. However, she was unable to keep her momentum going, winning only one out of her next five matches.

Daniela Hantuchova won the Pattaya City title without dropping a set. Before that, she had lost all four of her matches of the season, including a first-round exit at Melbourne. Since then she has suffered two more first-round defeats. The talented Slovakian is competing at the clay-court event at Charleston this week.

Magdalena Rybarikova, another Slovakian currently ranked No. 69 in the world, won the Memphis title back in February, only her second career-title. In her first tour-level match since then, she lost in the first-round at Charleston this week.

Lourdes Dominguez Lino is a 30-year-old veteran from Spain, currently ranked No. 46 in the world. She won the clay-court event at Bogota in February, also winning there in 2006. In fact, those are her only two career-titles. She lost in the second-round at Marbella this week.

Gisela Dulko won the clay-court event at Acapulco, her first singles title in three years, though she is the current No. 1 in doubles. She did not have much success on the hard-courts, suffering three first-round exits already. Maybe the clay season will do her some good.

Jelena Dokic was the surprise winner at Kuala Lumpur, beating Francesca Schiavone in the first-round. It was her first title since 2002. Unfortunately for the former world No. 4, she also lost in the first-round at Charleston this week.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova successfully defended her title at Monterey this year. She won her first career-title there last year. She reached her career-high ranking of No. 14 after a third-round effort at Melbourne. She is the youngest player in the top 50 and should have a very successful career.

Without further ado, here is this week’s top ten list.

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A Decade of Tennis Divas: The Last 10 Lady Champions at Indian Wells 14

Posted on March 05, 2011 by JA Allen

The tournament at Indian Wells gets underway on Monday March 7.

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells gets underway starting March 7.

It is easy to see that the 36-year old tournament has grown into a major attraction for tennis fans in this country as the stands and grounds become packed with spectators each year when March rolls around.

Some tennis aficionados have grown so enamored with the annual event they now call it California’s version of a fifth major.

This year’s Masters Series 1000 Tournament, whose inaugural event took place in 1976, is now held annually at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens after several location changes during its history.

It features both a men’s and a women’s draw with the top players attending, hoping to add this prestigious title to their respective resumes.

For the ladies field, the tournament gradually evolved into a top tier event. In the beginning it was non-sanctioned. It became, however, an official WTA Tour event in 1991.

Initially the women’s tournament preceded the men’s but in 1996 tournament sponsors along with the WTA and ATP decided to hold both competitions concurrently.

Unlike the men, the women have no player who has won this tournament three times.

In the women’s competition, however, seven players have won the tournament twice—Daniela Hantuchova 2002 and 2007, Kim Clijsters 2003 and 2005, Serena Williams 1999 and 2001, Lindsay Davenport 1997 and 2000, Steffi Graf 1994 and 1996, Mary Jo Fernandez 1993 and 1995 and Martina Navratilova 1990-1991.

Who will add to these totals in 2011?

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Tennis Power Rankings: Kim Clijsters Holds the Aussie Trophy and the Top Spot 3

Posted on February 01, 2011 by JA Allen

Kim Clijsters of Belgium won the 2011 Australian Open title defeating Ni La of China.The 2011 Australian Open’s evolving storyline for the ladies never ceased as one drama after another unfolded both on and off court.

First and foremost, Serena Williams, defending champion, still injured, decided to withdraw before the tournament Down Under got underway.

Sister Venus Williams hobbled briefly into Melbourne, eliminated when she could no longer move. At that point, the elder Williams retired in the third round against up-and-comer German Andrea Petkovic.

Svetlana Kuznetsova entertained all with the most thrilling matches of the tournament. The newly svelte Russian held on to defeat Justine Henin in the third round 6-4, 7-6.

Subsequently, Henin announced her second permanent retirement from professional tennis.

But the best match of the tournament followed in the fourth round as Kuznetsova met the feisty Italian Francesca Schiavone.  The two veterans battled for four hours and 44 minutes making it the longest women’s match ever.

It ended with Schiavone winning 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.

The Italian, however, had nothing left when she met the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.

The tournament ended with the crowning of Aussie Kim—her first championship in Melbourne.

The seasoned professionals, for the most part continued to give way to a new wave of hard-hitting ball-strikers working their way up the ranking.

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Australian Open 2011: Clijsters? Wozniacki? Who Will Win Down Under? 5

Posted on January 16, 2011 by JA Allen

Caroline Wozniacki is the new World No. 1 in womens tennis.

It is redundant to repeat that the women’s field in Melbourne is wide open.  This is because the 2010 defending Australian Open Champion Serena Williams is not competing,

The media has already taken a big bite out of the No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki, finding her lacking in seasoning, flavor and a coup d’etat at any major.

Previously, the pundits did the same thing to Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina, hounding these ladies, driving them out of range of reaching that ranking again.

Wozniacki, however, is not quite as fragile or as susceptible to harsh, self-centered commentator remarks. Of course, the No. 1 seed wants to capture this title and will do everything in her power to win her first slam.

What everyone seems to overlook is that Wozniacki is 20 years old and her game is still evolving. Just as Nadal starting winning on one surface then improved his game to win on all surfaces over time––Wozniacki has not yet perfected her game.

The No. 1 seed is certainly not the favorite to win.  Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are.

Most feel Venus Williams has not played enough good tennis in preparation for the Australian Open to win. Maria Sharapova, they feel, is also not in top form and perhaps never will be again.

Many look at Samantha Stosur to break through at home and win her first major. That would, indeed, please the natives.

In order for Wozniacki to win, she would have to play perfect tennis for two weeks, serving well plus out-hustling any player standing across the net.  The question is––can Wozniacki do it?

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    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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