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Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams Battle For Supremacy In Miami Masters 3

Posted on April 02, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Venus Williams of the United States

Two Grand Slam champions: two former world No. 1s: two of the most likeable women on the WTA tour. And both Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams will be hoping to reclaim the Sony Ericsson Open title. It should be a blockbuster.

The stats alone make the mouth water.

They have both won dozens of titles: Williams 43 and Clijsters 36.

This will be their 12th meeting in nine years, and Williams leads Clijsters by just six wins to five.

Four of those match-ups have been in finals, and in those they share the honors at two apiece.

Both women, too, are enjoying something of a renaissance.

The Clijsters story, leaving tennis to marry and become a mother, only to return as an unranked player and win the 2009 U.S. Open, is the stuff of Hollywood.

She has not played in the Miami event since 2007, and has not won it since 2005. On that occasion, too, she was making a comeback from injury. She was unseeded, beat four of the top six seeds, and did not lose a set on her way to the title.

Williams has won the Miami title three times before, but this would be her first in nine years. What’s more, it would mark her third consecutive title of 2010, following victories in Dubai and Acapulco. By reaching the final, Williams has achieved a match-winning streak to 15, and the last time she did that was in 2004.

So the stage is set for a real crowd-pleaser of a final, which also raises the small question of just who the record-breaking numbers of fans will support on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry →

Jelena Jankovic Sits Atop Women’s Tennis Power Rankings 9

Posted on March 30, 2010 by JA Allen
Jelena Jankovic won the tournament in Indian Wells and tops the Power Rankings this week.

Jelena Jankovic won the tournament in Indian Wells and tops the Power Rankings this week.

The action is hot and heavy this week in Miami. It marks the end of the traditional hard court season in America before the world turns to clay in April.

The surprises on the women’s tour continue as Serbian Jelena Jankovic overcomes her slump to take the No. 1 spot in our Power Rankings this week after winning the tournament in Indian Wells.

You just have to wonder who will orchestrate the next big surprise as the women fight for positions in the quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open.

The Top Ten

1. Jelena Jankovic (Last Power Ranking: NR; WTA Ranking: 8 )

Last Four Tournaments: Sony Ericsson Open Miami [R16+], Indian Wells [Winner], Monterrey [R32], Dubai [R16].

Power Ranking Points: 681

Just when everyone was erecting a tombstone to mark the passing of Jankovic’s career, the Serb came back and won it all at Indian Wells. Jankovic progressed into the fourth round in Miami, so things were definitely looking up for her. The question remained––had she found her form and her energy level which had been missing in action for so long?

She had some tough matches awaiting her in Miami that would demonstrate if the Serb had the right stuff to continue her upward path. Unfortunately for Jankovic, she lost her fourth round match to Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-1, 7-6.

As the tour moves on to the clay courts, counterpuncher Jankovic still hopes to climb back to the top of the WTA rankings.

Read the rest of this entry →

Revisiting Miami: Birthplace of the Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal Rivalry 8

Posted on March 26, 2010 by JA Allen
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have met 20 times since 2004.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have met 20 times since 2004.

The root of the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer began in Miami when the Spaniard was a teenager with a huge reserve of self-belief.

As the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open begins in earnest this week, it might be interesting and informative to examine the tournament that set the bar for their future encounters.

Early on, playing practically perfect tennis against Federer evolved into an art form for Nadal. Nothing seemed to inspire him more or engage his senses more completely than striving to match his considerable strengths against the man many proclaimed then and now as the best player ever to wield a tennis racquet.

The quixotic mission to overtake Federer drove Nadal for 4½ years, finally propelling him into that vaunted No. 1 spot in August 2008.

But let us harken back to March 2004 when newly dominant 22 year-old Roger Federer, feeling ill and stripped of strength, struggled past Russian Nikolay Davydenko during the round of 64 at the NASDAQ-100 Miami Masters.

His next opponent was newcomer 17-year-old Rafael Nadal, ranked No. 36 in the world. Nadal was a hard-hitting left-hander from Spain, a country renowned for its prowess on clay.  This, however, was a hard court event.

Anointed No. 1 a month earlier, Federer arrived in Miami having won 28 matches during the previous nine months, including his first Wimbledon crown in 2003 and his first Australian Open title in 2004.  Even weakened, Federer expected to win this match.

Read the rest of this entry →

Tennis Top Seeds Turn Up the Heat at the ATP Sony Ericsson Open 5

Posted on March 24, 2010 by JA Allen
BNP Paribas at Indian Wells provided upset after upset.  Photo by Rajat Jain

BNP Paribas at Indian Wells provided upset after upset. Photo by Rajat Jain

How many of you picked Ivan Ljubicic to win at Indian Wells? Jelena Jankovic? Northern Iowa to upset Kansas in the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

Just as I thought. That is why I am a little reluctant to put my neck on the line when discussing the ATP top seeds’ chances at the Sony Ericsson Tennis Open this week in Miami.

That does not mean that the wins this past weekend were not significant or joyful each in their own way with the wily veteran Ljubicic finding a way to win against the stiffest competition the tour could throw at him.

It had to be a resounding vote of confidence, moreover, for the seasoned counter-puncher Jankovic to overcome the newly inaugurated No. 2 ranked player in the world, Caroline Wozniacki, also a counter-puncher.

The Northern Iowa victory, however, will be discussed in another venue.

Heading into Miami are all the top ranked women minus No. 1 ranked Serena Williams and No. 3 Dinara Safina, both suffering from lingering injuries. For the men No. 5 ranked Juan Martin del Potro is still out as is No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko, again both with lingering injuries.

In looking at the men’s draw, some interesting match-ups highlight a splendid field.

Read the rest of this entry →

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