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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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Ranking Tennis in 2010: The Top 10 Performances, Part 2 1

Posted on December 21, 2010 by JA Allen

No. 5: Serena Williams Fights Off the Henin Challenge

Serena Williams defeats Justine Henin: 2010 Australian Open Final

Serena Williams defeats Justine Henin to win the Australian Open in 2010.

Was there ever a  more anticipated final in women’s tennis than this one?

Perhaps in the past when Chris Evert met Martina Navratilova or Steffi Graf met Monica Seles before the 1993 stabbing.

With the exception of the French Open, in recent tennis history Serena Williams loomed as a juggernaut with her stranglehold on slam trophies.

But Justine Henin was a winner in her own right.

Henin, when ranked No. 1 in women’s tennis, abruptly retired from the game just prior to the 2008 French Open.

Now, the Belgian was back 19 months later, unseeded and unranked, to play the World No. 1 in the finals of the Australian Open.

The tennis world was abuzz at the Belgian’s rise from the ashes.

Henin, however, did not have enough weapons on the day––especially against the William’s serve to hold onto her advantage after the Belgian took the second set to even the match at one set apiece.

Henin earned break points against Serena in the third set, game two, but could only watch as Serena served rockets that skipped past her.  The Belgian’s spirit broken, Williams closed in out 6-2-3-6, 6-2.

Serena Williams equalled the record of Billie Jean King by winning this match, drawing her ever closer to legendary status.

Serena with 12 slam titles at this point was awarded her trophy by Margaret Court who leads all slam champions with 24 singles grand slam titles.

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Ranking Tennis in 2010: The Top 10 Performances, Part 1 0

Posted on December 21, 2010 by JA Allen

Rafael Nadal's victory over Roger Federer in Madrid clinched his clay court supremacy in 2010.

2010 proved to be an exceptional year in tennis, as the No. 1 mantle changed owners in the men’s and the women’s game.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams who both entered 2010 ranked No. 1 dropped out of the top spot.

Roger will end the year with the No. 2 ATP ranking while Serena will end her year as No. 4 in the WTA.

But many significant performances––some for a match and some for a season––shaped a very controversial, entertaining year on the tennis courts of the world.

The ranking of these respective performances is subject to interpretation. Perhaps even attempting to put them in any particular order is a waste of time.

Regardless, all 10 are significant in assigning superlatives to the 2010 season.

Preamble: A Toast To the 2010 Tennis Match That Refused To Die

John Isner defeats Nicholas Mahut, first round, 2010 Wimbledon

2010 gave us the longest match in the history of the game of tennis.

Normally a first round match is nothing more than a formality for seeded players during a grand slam––but not always.

A case in point––American John Isner seeded No. 23 had little expectation concerning the full-scope of this match as he met his opponent Frenchman Nicholas Mahut on Court 18 to contest this opening round match.

The match, however, extended over three days lasting 11 hours, five minutes, and ended at 70-68 in the fifth and final set.

Wimbledon, you see, does not allow for a tiebreak to determine a winner if the match extends to five sets.

After this epic, there was a concern expressed regarding this tradition because these two players suffered physically for a long while after the match concluded.

The world became mesmerized by this drama unfolding daily on an obscure outside court at the All-England Club.

In fact, the match drew vast numbers to watch––people who otherwise would not have spent a moment of their busy lives watching tennis.

Therefore, the networks, and in this case ESPN, loved it.

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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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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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