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Nadal Closes the Gap on Federer: 10 Bold Tennis Predictions for 2011 2

Posted on January 07, 2011 by JA Allen

Nadal prepares another run at Federer records in 2011.

The 2011 tennis season is under way, and already the tennis world has zeroed in on the biggest game in town—potential showdowns between the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked players in the world, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer respectively.

They are both facing some stiff competition in Doha at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open as the final eight head into quarterfinal action.

With the return to action of Juan Martin del Potro and the constant presence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the rampant speculation about 2011 continues for the men.

For the ladies, the strange absence of the Williams sisters on tour leaves many questions about who will rise up and seize this season by the throat early on.

New No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has yet to win a major. Will she this year? If she falters and fails, who might secure the No. 1 ranking?

The women’s game remains wide open until or if the Williams sisters return.

This brings us to 2011 and our top 10 predictions for the upcoming season.

No. 1: Someone other than Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer will win a major this year.

Will Novak Djokovic capture his second Slam trophy?

It is time for one of the top 10 to break the stranglehold and take away a major trophy.

Marat Safin won one in 2005 at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic also won at the Australian Open in 2008 and Juan Martin del Potro denied Federer his sixth consecutive US Open title by taking it for himself in 2009.

But either Federer or Nadal has won the Wimbledon championship since 2003. Similarly, either Nadal or Federer has won the French Open since 2005.

Usual Suspects

World No. 3 Novak Djokovic

The Serb won the Australian Open in 2008, defeating Federer in the semifinals and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals. Since then, Djokovic has appeared in the semifinals of the French in 2007 and 2008, the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2007 and 2010 and the finals of the US Open in 2007 and 2010. Hard courts seem to be his best surface. A repeat down under?

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Caroline Wozniacki Tops the Year-End Power Rankings in Women’s Tennis 0

Posted on November 10, 2010 by Ronger Fengerer

Caroline Wozniacki ended the year ranked No. 1.

With the conclusion of the WTA Championships at Doha and the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions at Bali, 2010 women’s tennis season is officially over.

What a truly eventful season this has been! It began with Justine Henin coming back from her retirement and ended with Elena Dementieva calling it a career.

It saw the young Dane Caroline Wozniacki fulfilling her potential and ending the year as the top ranked player in the world.

It witnessed the magical run of Fancesca Schiavone at Roland Garros and becoming the first Italian Grand Slam winner in tennis history. And now the WTA tour even has a brand-new logo which was unveiled at the year-end championships at Doha.

Not surprisingly, all players from this week’s top-ten list either participated in Doha or Bali. For many, this has been a career-best season. It will be interesting to see whether they will be able to maintain their top form after a two-month lay-off. But before then, a vacation with loved ones is fully deserved.

The Top Ten

1. Caroline Wozniacki (Last Power Ranking: 1; Year-End WTA Ranking: 1)

Last Four Tournaments: YEC [Finalist], Beijing [Winner], Tokyo [Winner], US Open [Semifinalist]

Power Ranking Points: 1340

Wozniacki won the China Open helping her secure her top ranking.

Caroline Wozniacki entered the year-end championships at Doha as the hottest player on the tour, having won two Premier events at Beijing and Tokyo back-to-back.

She became the 20th player to ascend to No.1 on October 11 at Beijing.

But her loss to Kim Clijsters in the final at Doha proved that she still has more work to do before being considered the truly best player in the world.

Having won a tour-leading six titles and finishing the year as the top-ranked player, the 10th player in history to accomplish that, this has indeed been a career-best year for the young Dane.

The only disappointment is that she failed to win a Grand Slam, her best result being a semifinal finish at the US Open. She will for sure be eager to get rid of the title “no. 1 player without a Grand Slam title” in 2011, just ask Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina. With many claiming that she only achieved the no. 1 ranking due to the absence of Williams sisters and the Belgian duo, Wozniacki has a lot to prove next season.

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WTA Power Rankings: Great Dane Caroline Wozniacki Sweeps to No. 1 8

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

Caroline Wozniacki at the China Open, the new women's World No. 1.

While the cat’s away, the rest of the women’s tour will play. And the biggest reward has come to the beaming Caroline Wozniacki.

With 25 tournaments under her belt, six of them reaping titles, it was only a matter of time before she overtook Serena Williams to take the No 1 ranking and, in doing so, Wozniacki has become the first player from Denmark ever to hold the top ranking.

But what of the woman who seemed able dominate the tour with the minimum of effort, who played just six events this year, yet still managed to win two Grand Slam titles?

Serena has played no tennis since her Wimbledon triumph because of a cut foot, but she finally announced her return to the tour in Linz this week. Within days, however, she had withdrawn, citing a ‘physical problem.’

With so little preparation time before Doha in a fortnight’s time, her chances of defending the title she won there last year began to look increasingly slim. More, though, was to come.

On her website on Sunday, she announced that her foot was injured again, and that she would be unlikely to return to play this year.

Meanwhile, sister Venus, who played Serena in last year’s final, had already withdrawn for the rest of the season with a recurrent knee injury.

The Williams sisters are not the only mature players struggling with injury. Kim Clijsters was due to play in Beijing but a long-planned minor operation on her foot did not heal in time, and she withdrew.

She still plans to make the trip to Doha, but is far from a certainty. However fellow Belgian Justine Henin, has been unable to play since Wimbledon because of an elbow injury, and her website suggests she will not be going to Doha.

There are few, therefore, who seem able to keep pace with Wozniacki except perhaps the woman who has tracked her all year, Zvonareva.

The day after the Dane secured the No 1 ranking, the Russian ensured the No 3 position. They stand at three all in their head-to-head, and stand two apiece in meetings this year—two in semi-finals and two in finals.

It seems likely, therefore, that they will also contest the Tour Championships.

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Triple Trophies in New York: Kim Clijsters Tops Tennis Power Rankings 2

Posted on September 22, 2010 by JA Allen

Clijsters wins her second consecutive trophy at the U.S. Open.

It seems that after the last slam of the year in New York City, the tennis world slows down a bit for the top ranked women.

There are a few International Tournaments going on now but most of the top 20 players will not pick up a racket in competition until Tokyo, the China Open in Beijing or later at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

Serena Williams is still the No. 1 ranked player in the world, although she was in slight danger of losing that spot if Caroline Wozniacki had won the U.S. Open.

Kim Clijsters, however, repeated her championship run in Flushing Meadows, adding a third U.S. Open Trophy to her mantle. Clijsters has now won the U.S. Open back to back in 2009 and 2010––looking to expand her major trophy count in 2011.

The power rankings reflect the most recent results on the women’s tour with most of the emphasis centered on U.S. Open results.

The women’s tour will shut down at the end of October with the WTA Tour Championships which are held annually in Doha.

Last year’s winner was Serena Williams who is expected to be on hand to defend her championship.

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U.S. Open Tennis: Greatest Lady Champions of the Modern Era 3

Posted on August 17, 2010 by JA Allen

Great Rivalries built the women's game into a prime spectator sport.

Heading into the 2010 U.S. Open, uncertainty reigns as several of the top seeds are currently sidelined with injuries.

First of all are the reports of Serena Williams’ recovery from foot surgery––leading to speculation that the younger Williams sister may not be fit enough to challenge for the U.S. Open championship.

Additionally will be the absence of Justine Henin with a right elbow injury suffered during a fall at Wimbledon. The pain and suffering could extend perhaps to Venus Williams who has pulled out of both Cincinnati and Montreal with pain in her left knee that prevents her from practicing.

Add to that wounded Russian Maria Sharapova who battled Kim Clijsters in the final in Cincinnati pulling out of the Rogers Cup after twisting her ankle during the match.

The end result is that a clear favorite for being crowned as this year’s champion remains shrouded in doubt––even though the odds seem to favor the younger Williams sister.  Will she notch another win in New York?

As we rate the top U.S. Open champions since 1968 on the women’s side, we look at both the number of final wins plus the number of appearances in U.S. Open finals.  If those are equal we look at the total winning percentages of each player.

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Women’s Tennis Power Rankings: Queen Serena Williams meets Queen Elizabeth 16

Posted on July 08, 2010 by JA Allen

The Queen of England visits Wimbledon and meets the Queen of the Court, Serena Williams.

Wimbledon is over––the year 2010 tucked away in the record books.  Centre Court now sports a roof and artificial lights, an abrupt departure from tradition in favor of increased revenue and pressure from major television outlets.

Most of the traditions, however, stay intact like bowing to the Queen, strawberries and cream and no tiebreak in the final set.

While the elongated fifth set has been an issue from time to time, in 2010 it became historically significant as Nicolas Mahut and John Isner battled over three days in their first round match which finally concluded after 11 hours of match play, 70-68 in the fifth set.

Neither player could play on after that match even though both tried, Mahut in doubles and Isner in singles.  For that reason alone, some sort of limit needs to be established.

Most of the talk was of the men.  Without a “suggestive” outfit from Venus, the women seemed invisible throughout the tournament.  U.S. coverage focused almost entirely on the Williams sisters––what there was of that.  As usual, the men stole the headlines and the regular television coverage.

So Serena’s amazing win, with her sizzling serve-breaking records, received less attention than usual as all the world continued the Rafa-Roger debate.  Too bad because the ladies put on quite a show!

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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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