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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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Men’s Tennis Power Ranking: Novak Djokovic Stays Hot Heading into New York City 1

Posted on August 24, 2011 by JA Allen

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City

As the 2011 US Open gets underway on Monday, August 29, we suddenly realize that we have arrived at the last major of year.

Many compelling story lines have carried us to this point. Throughout the year, the sports media remained poised on the brink, waiting, as Serb Novak Djokovic first surpassed No. 2 Roger Federer and then No. 1 Rafael Nadal to secure the top spot in men’s tennis.

Starting back in January as players journeyed to Melbourne, the year appeared to stretch ahead forever. The talk then concerned Rafael Nadal winning the 2011 Australian Open. The victory would have made Nadal the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to own all four slam titles at one time.

Dreams of the “Rafa Slam” ended in Australia when Nadal endured a left thigh injury. Nadal lost his quarterfinal match to compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3––in pain, yet, all the while refusing to retire.

Aspirations of Roger Federer winning his fifth Australian Open Championship also died when the Swiss lost to Novak Djokovic during the Australian Open semifinals––in straight sets. Djokovic went on to demolish Andy Murray in the 2011 finals, also in straight sets.

Since scaling his way into the men’s top ten in 2007, the Serb finally managed to make it all the way to the top in 2011. He took Federer’s No. 2 ranking at Indian Wells, defeating the Swiss in the semifinals. Djokovic took Nadal’s No. 1 ranking at Wimbledon as well as the championship trophy.

The new world No. 1 lost twice in 2011. He was defeated in his semifinal bid at Roland Garros to Roger Federer. Djokovic also lost to Andy Murray on Sunday August 21 in Cincinnati.  Otherwise, the Serb remains perfect in 2011, as he prepares for the upcoming US Open.

Djokovic continues to dominate the power rankings heading into the last major of the season.

Following are the top ten men, with rankings based on their last four tennis tournament appearances.

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Novak Djokovic Rules the Men’s Tennis Power Rankings After Dominating in Miami 5

Posted on April 06, 2011 by Marianne Bevis

Novak Djokovic has fulfilled the early promise of greatness so far in 2011.

The first three months of the tennis season pose some of the players’ biggest challenges.

With barely a fortnight to get their hard-court games into fine working order, the first Major of the year is upon them. Yet the Australian Open is just the beginning; ahead lie two months of hard-court rigor, all geared towards a second distant climax at the end of March.

Along the way are choices between indoor and outdoor, cool northern Europe and the hot Gulf states, even between hard courts and the points-rich Golden Swing on the clay of Latin America.

It is a topsy-turvy phase, where two of the most prestigious Masters events in the calendar close a season rather than building towards a concluding Major, and therefore, is often full of intrigue, unpredictable winners and surprising losers.

During the two months between Melbourne and Miami—where this edition of the Power Rankings is focused—there have been 10 different champions from 14 tournaments.

Kevin Anderson won his first tour title in Johannesburg, went on to reach the quarterfinals in the Miami Masters and now sits at an all-time ranking of 33.

Ivan Dodig won his maiden title in Zagreb and there was an even more significant first for the surging Milos Raonic, who started the year at 156 and now sits at 35. He announced his arrival big time by winning San Jose and then reaching the final of Memphis. Although he does not feature in this month’s rankings, he will surely join the party when the next hard-court season comes around.

One multiple winner, Nicolas Almagro, took titles in Brazil and Argentina and reached the final in Acapulco and, while he did not impress in the subsequent Masters, his form may impact on the clay road towards Roland Garros.

For each story of success, though, there has been one of ill fortune. Andy Roddick arrived in Miami on the back of his 30th career title in Memphis and with a 16-3 winning record for the year—and his record in Miami was second to none. But it soon became clear that Roddick was unwell during his opening match, and he made his earliest Miami exit since 2002. Now at No. 14 in the rankings, it is also his lowest position since 2002.

The biggest shock of this entire period, though, was the performance of Andy Murray, who replayed his post-Australian slump of 2010 with a vengeance.

Murray loves the North American Masters and was aiming to improve on last year’s quarterfinal finish in Indian Wells and his first-round exit in Miami. However, he lost in his first match at both as well as at the only other event he played, Rotterdam.

He is said to be reviewing his coaching setup ahead of the clay season and, with few points to defend before Wimbledon, that choice will have some time to bed in. One thing’s for sure: He needs to change something, and soon.

But while there have been surprises at almost every turn of the hard-court road that culminated in Miami, there has also been a clutch of constants. At every tournament they have played, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have stayed the course at least as far as the semifinals.

One of them has been as constant as the North Star—the winner of every match in every tournament he has played since the start of the year and he, of course, tops the latest Power Rankings.

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Federer? Nadal? 10 Men Who Can Win the Australian Open, Part 1 2

Posted on January 12, 2011 by JA Allen

The 2011 Australian Open gets underway on Monday, January 17 in Melbourne

The Australian Open begins on Monday, Jan. 17, in Melbourne, Australia.

The draw for the first Grand Slam of the season will not be held until Friday, Jan. 14.

Until that time, no one will know who they will be facing in the first round or which potential opponents might be waiting down the road.

According to oddsmakers, Rafael Nadal is slightly favored to win the title over Roger Federer.

So what do these betting gurus know?

They know about past patterns of behavior and predictable outcomes based on certain incontrovertible factors. They know about odds of winning.

“Beating the odds” means winding up with an unexpected outcome.

This is the crux of betting—figuring out which players may beat the odds.

Nothing is a given, although based on recent history it is not unreasonable to expect either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win the championship in Melbourne.

It is almost inevitable that one of them will be in the final.

But that did not happen in 2008, and who is to say that 2011 could not repeat that aberration?

According to this author’s research, following are the 10 players with the best shot at winning in Melbourne…

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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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Several Players Made A Wimbledon Splash 0

Posted on July 10, 2010 by Rob York

One Wimbledon finalist was a familiar face while the other was a new one.

It’s too early to make predictions for the US Open; I think they at least have to play the Master’s Series events in Canada and Cincinnati before we do that. That’s especially true now that the defending champion of the event won’t be playing it due to injury, the player who has dominated the event in the past decade is slumping, and the man dominating the tour at the moment hasn’t been past the semis there.

But one thing we can do is look at the players who made a splash at this year’s Wimbledon, where they stand now, and what they need to do between now and then to be ideally prepared for the year’s last major. We start with none other than …

Rafael Nadal:
After winning his eighth major and solidifying his stature as the game’s No. 1, we’ve seen a few, including (sigh) Chris Chase speculating about whether the Spaniard can match Roger Federer’s 16 Grand Slam wins.

Let me be emphatic: We should not be talking about this yet. It’s been five years since Nadal won his first major and he now has eight; he’s also been through a grocery list of injuries in that time and is having to schedule more and more carefully to avoid hurting himself. For now, let’s focus on a few other goals that more attainable but far from automatic.

First of all there’s the US Open, the one major he hasn’t won. This year is reminiscent of 2008 in more ways than one, now that Nadal has completed the Channel Slam for the second time and has firmly established himself as the best in the world. He fell short that year, losing to Andy Murray in the semis, saying later that the season had finally caught up with him and he had “nothing left.”

The US Open’s position as the last major of the year is always going to be tough for the player who works hardest on the court, and it’s surface is both faster than Nadal’s liking and least forgiving of his brittle joints. Read the rest of this entry →

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