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Australian Open 2011: Clijsters? Wozniacki? Who Will Win Down Under? 5

Posted on January 16, 2011 by JA Allen

Caroline Wozniacki is the new World No. 1 in womens tennis.

It is redundant to repeat that the women’s field in Melbourne is wide open.  This is because the 2010 defending Australian Open Champion Serena Williams is not competing,

The media has already taken a big bite out of the No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki, finding her lacking in seasoning, flavor and a coup d’etat at any major.

Previously, the pundits did the same thing to Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina, hounding these ladies, driving them out of range of reaching that ranking again.

Wozniacki, however, is not quite as fragile or as susceptible to harsh, self-centered commentator remarks. Of course, the No. 1 seed wants to capture this title and will do everything in her power to win her first slam.

What everyone seems to overlook is that Wozniacki is 20 years old and her game is still evolving. Just as Nadal starting winning on one surface then improved his game to win on all surfaces over time––Wozniacki has not yet perfected her game.

The No. 1 seed is certainly not the favorite to win.  Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are.

Most feel Venus Williams has not played enough good tennis in preparation for the Australian Open to win. Maria Sharapova, they feel, is also not in top form and perhaps never will be again.

Many look at Samantha Stosur to break through at home and win her first major. That would, indeed, please the natives.

In order for Wozniacki to win, she would have to play perfect tennis for two weeks, serving well plus out-hustling any player standing across the net.  The question is––can Wozniacki do it?

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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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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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    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

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