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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka Duel in Dubai 3

Posted on February 17, 2012 by JA Allen

Novak Djokovic has won the Dubai Tournament consecutively for the past 3 years.

While oil and water may not mix, oil and tennis seem to merge beautifully. That will become perfectly obvious as the oil-rich United Arab Emirates hosts its annual tennis extravaganza on outdoor hardcourts in Dubai beginning on February 20, ending March 3, 2012.

The tournament known as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will begin with a week-long foray featuring the top women in the world to be followed later by the top-ranked men as the second week gets underway.

The luxurious accommodations plus the rich setting make this venue one of the more popular ones for the tennis pros who journey here year after year.

In fact, it remains the site of one of Roger Federer’s chief training centers where the Swiss comes to get his body in prime condition for the long season ahead—usually during the hot month of July.

Despite the home court advantage, Federer has not won in Dubai since 2007.  He will be hoping to change that this year.

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Potential 4th Round Blockbusters at the 2012 Australian Open 5

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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Novak Djokovic Still Alive Despite Early Defeat at ATP World Tour Finals 20

Posted on November 25, 2011 by Thomas Rooney

Novak Djokovic is still in contention despite losing to David Ferrer at the ATP World Tour Finals.

After losing to David Ferrer at the ATP World Tour Finals this year, Novak Djokovic accepted that he wasn’t at his best and deserved to come away from the O2 arena with a defeat.

The Serb – who has had a fantastic 2011, moving to the top of the world rankings – was nothing like his dominant self in this 6-3 6-1 defeat and looked incredibly flat for much of the match.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “All the credit to David, he played a great match but I just wasn’t there. It was the worst match I’ve played this season so far with so many unforced errors.”

“It’s hard to find something that I did well really. My movement, my feel for the ball, my anticipation on the court, nothing. Just a terrible, terrible match. David was playing well, but I did not give him any resistance.

“Maybe it’s because of the length of the season, maybe it’s just because I’m not feeling well.”

Djokovic rebounded to defeat Janko Tipsarevic – the replacement for an injured Andy Murray – and is still alive to reach the semifinals of the tournament, something those looking at sporting tips thought he would do comfortably at the start of the tournament. Read the rest of this entry →

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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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?

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bill Freehan: Michigan Man
      May 12, 2018 | 6:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was an 11-time American League All-Star at one of the most demanding positions in baseball, yet outside of Detroit his exploits have been largely forgotten.

      For more than a decade, Bill Freehan was the rock behind home plate for the Detroit Tigers. In addition to earning All-Star honors 10 straight years and 11 times overall, Freehan was a five-time Gold Glove winner and in 1968 finished second in the American League in the MVP voting.

      A true “Michigan Man”, Freehan played his entire sports career representing teams from Michigan.

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