PDA

View Full Version : Andrew's daily round-ups (completed)


andrewbroad
Jan 14th, 2007, 11:10 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents of this post
---------------------

1. Photos
2. UK TV-alert
3. First-round draw
4. Maria Sharapova preview
5. Vera Zvonarëva preview
6. Anna Chakvetadze preview
7. Daniela Hantuchová preview
8. Iroda Tulyaganova preview
9. Nicole Vaidišová preview
10. Andrew's wishes
11. Qualifying
12. Order of Play for Monday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
Search Getty Images for "sharapova"

--------------
2. UK TV-alert
--------------

The evening-sessions of the Australian Open will be televised on BBCi from 08:30 GMT each day of the tournament (digital viewers press Red or select the appropriate Freeview-channel - 301 or 302, I don't know which yet).

My understanding is that this coverage will consist of the women's match on the evening-session of the Rod Laver Arena (today Serena Williams v Mara Santangelo), followed by the men's match, followed by recorded coverage of any Andy Murray match that will have taken place during the day-session (his matches will also be broadcast live on BBCi during the British night, and possibly on BBC 1 or BBC 2 if he reaches the third round - I mention this just in case they happen to slip any women's tennis into such coverage; in 2002, they showed five minutes of Daniela Hantuchová against Venus Williams).

Last year, the women's semi-finals took place during the day-session, and recorded coverage was shown on BBCi following live coverage of the evening-session that day.

The women's and men's singles-finals will be broadcast live on BBC 1 and BBC 2, respectively.

-------------------
3. First-round draw
-------------------
3.1 Top quarter: Sharapova, Zvonarëva, Chakvetadze
--------------------------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Camille Pin (DAVAI MARIA!)
* Roberta Vinci v Anastassia Rodionova (ˇforza Roberta!)
* Renata Vorácová [Q] v Meghann Shaughnessy
* Emmanuelle Gagliardi v TATHIANA GARBIN [30]

* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler (DAVAI VERA!)
* Séverine Brémond v Tamira Paszek [Q] (allez Séverine!)
* Varvara Lepchenko v Agnieszka Radwanska (davai Varvara!)
* ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] v Vania King (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Sybille Bammer (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Yulia Beygelzimer v Laura Granville
* Sophie Ferguson [WC] v Jelena Kostanic Tosic
* Klára Zakopalová [Q] v SAMANTHA STOSUR [24] (pojdme Klára!)

* FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] v Kaia Kanepi (ˇforza Flavia!)
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Chan,Yung-Jan (go Alicia!)
* Peng,Shuai [s] v Andreja Klepac [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Madison Brengle [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]


3.2 Second quarter: Hantuchová
------------------------------

* KIM CLIJSTERS [4] v Vasilisa Bardina (davai Vasilisa!)
* Akiko Morigami [s] v Tsvetana Pironkova (my Reason says Akiko, but my Passion says Tsvetana)
* Nicole Pratt v Virginie Razzano
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro [Q] (davai Alyona!)

* Sandra Záhlavová [Q] v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17] (pojdme Sandra!)
* Ashley Harkleroad v Yuan,Meng (go Ashley!)
* Aravane Rezaď v Emilie Loit (allez Aravane!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet (PODME DANIELA!)

* Ekaterina Bychkova v DINARA SAFINA [9] (davai Ekaterina!)
* Youlia Fedossova [WC] v Catalina Castańo
* Ahsha Rolle v Lourdes Domínguez Lino
* Elena Bovina v LI,NA [19]

* Aiko Nakamura [s] v ELENI DANIILIDOU [32] (ganbatte Aiko!)
* Sania Mirza [DF] v Olga Savchuk (go Sania!)
* Alla Kudryavtseva [Q] v Emma Laine
* Nathalie Dechy v MARTINA HINGIS [6]


3.3 Third quarter: Tulyaganova
------------------------------

* NADIA PETROVA [5] v Tamarine Tanasugarn
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Sun,Tiantian (ˇvamos Gisela!)
* Michaëlla Krajícek v Anne Kremer [Q] (kom op Michaëlla!)
* Serena Williams v MARA SANTANGELO [27]

* MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Vera Dushevina (allez Marion!)
* Yuliana Fedak v Victoria Azarenka (davai Yuliana!)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v Melinda Czink (ˇvamos Virginia!)
* Aleksandra Wozniak v JELENA JANKOVIC [11]

* SHAHAR PEER [16] v Romina Oprandi (kadima Shahar!)
* Edina Gallovits v Meilen Tu
* Zuzana Ondrášková v Clarisa Fernández (pojdme Zuzana!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v Anna Smashnova (allez Tatiana!)

* MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] v Karolina Šprem [DF] (my loyalty Maria)
* Julia Vakulenko [Q] v Elena Likhovtseva (may the better win!)
* Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] v Monique Adamczak [WC] (DAVAI IRODA!)
* Jessica Moore [WC] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]


3.4 Bottom quarter: Vaidišová
-----------------------------

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Stéphanie Foretz (davai Elena!)
* Martina Müller v Jorgelina Cravero [Q]
* Maria Elena Camerin v Kirsten Flipkens (my loyalty to Maria Elena)
* Elena Vesnina v ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [25] (davai Elena!)

* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] v Casey Dell'Acqua [WC] (dajmo Katarina!)
* Iveta Benešová v Galina Voskoboeva (pojdme Iveta!)
* Jarmila Gajdošová v Milagros Sequera
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Jill Craybas (pojdme Nicole!)

* FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14] v Sandra Klösel
* Lucie Šafárová v Alberta Brianti (pojdme Lucie!)
* Laura Pous Tio v Anastasiya Yakimova
* Sofia Arvidsson v AI SUGIYAMA [23]

* ZHENG,JIE [31] v Julia Schruff
* Martina Suchá v Eva Birnerová (podme Martina!)
* Marta Domachowska v Olga Poutchkova (dawaj Marta!)
* Shenay Perry v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (anyone but Mauresmo)

--------------------------
4. Maria Sharapova preview
--------------------------

Here's a couple of paragraphs about Maria from Reuters:

"Runs down her opponents with a combination of power and depth on her groundstrokes. Backs up her strong serve with an aggressive approach on both flanks. Her piercing shrieks, though, can put off opponents and fans alike."

"Increasingly strong on both wings and with an ever-improving mental conviction on court, Sharapova seems set to better her Melbourne Park best of the semi-finals. Has opted to skip all warm-up events bar an exhibition in Hong Kong where she was soundly beaten by Kim Clijsters."


4.1 Pretournament quotes from Maria
-----------------------------------

"I have had one of the best off-seasons training-wise I have had in a couple of years. The last few I have been injured and I have not been able to work on too many things, but I've been happy with my off-season this year."

[Re. being the top seed]
"I don't see it as putting any extra pressure on me. Whatever you are seeded, you've just got to go out and play your matches.

"I'm excited to start the year at this tournament. Seeded one, two or three, you still have to go out and play your matches."

[Re. the #1 ranking]
"Personally, I don't feel it's a huge deal. I honestly don't remember who ends the year number one. You remember people who win Grand Slams."

[Re. Justine Henin-Hardenne's withdrawal]
"It is very unfortunate for her, and you always want to be playing against the top players. You always want to compete against the best players, but you can't expect everyone to play in every Grand Slam."

[Re. moving the Australian Open to March]
"Every Grand Slam has its advantages and disadvantages, and the heat in Australia is definitely one of those. It's been held at this time of year for so many years; it's kind of hard to say you're going to move one of the biggest tournaments of the year and put it in the middle of the calendar, because there are lot of other tournaments [that would be affected].

"Unfortunately you do get some bad injuries, but that's the way it goes. You definitely want to play in better conditions, so if [there was] less heat, I'd definitely agree with that.

"But it's not easy taking a tournament out and putting it somewhere else in the schedule. It's really hard to do.

"With the structured plan that the Tour has been working on, I think things are being addressed, but I don't think you can do very much with this tournament."

[Re. Gatorade Sports Science Institute]
"The 'Beat the Heat' campaign is an important tool to get the word out to parents to help their kids playing tennis and other sports to stay safe, hydrated and playing their best in hot weather.

"It's fitting that we're launching this campaign during the Australian Open, which has a reputation as one of the world's hottest competitive environments."


4.2 First round
---------------

Camille Pin, ranked #62, is one of the softest hitters on the Tour. She reached the semi-finals of Auckland, but retired injured after three games. Maria has never played her before, but will devour her with ease. Next?


4.3 Second round
----------------

#87-ranked Roberta Vinci is an old-school player who likes to serve & volley and chip & charge, which makes her very effective on grass. But when I saw her play Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open 2006, she seemed totally intimidated by her opponent, so I can't see her causing Maria any problems (they've never met before).

Maria has played #100 Anastassia Rodionova twice before, winning 6-3 6-3 at the French Open 2003 and 6-3 6-1 at Los Angeles 2006.


4.4 Third round
---------------

Maria has never played Tatiana Garbin [30], who finished 2006 by winning an $75k ITF tournament at Barcelona. Garbin surprised the great Monica Seles at Indian Wells 2001, but to knock top-seeded Maria out of a Grand Slam would be an even bigger surprise.

Former world #11 Meghann Shaughnessy is the other likely third-round opponent, but she's down to #39 and her 2006 results don't look too impressive, finishing the year with three losses in a row.

I just can't see Maria losing before the fourth round unless she sprains her ankle or something.


4.5 Fourth round
----------------

This is where it gets interesting.

The seedings decree a meeting with Ana Ivanovic [13], who could become the first-ever player younger than Maria to beat her. She gave Maria a tough 7-6 7-5 win at Linz 2006 - Maria was unable to serve out either set earlier when she had the chance.

Ana is a very talented player with a big forehand and a tendency to spread. She is a Reason-candidate for my Eternal Fanship (I'm not planning any more inductions in the foreseeable future).

Ana is not on the best of form. She started 2007 with two impressive wins on the Gold Coast, but lost to Shahar Peer in the quarter-finals. She beat Nadia Petrova by retirement at Sydney, but couldn't withstand Nicole Vaidišová in the quarter-finals.

Vera Zvonarëva [22] would be my preferred fourth-round opponent, as she is a member of my Eternal Fanship! She and Maria had such a fantastic rivalry in 2004; Maria moved ahead 3-2 with a win at San Diego 2006. They both have lovely groundstrokes of flairsome power; Maria with more ability to overpower her opponent; Vera with more versatility and retrieval-skills. They are both tremendous fighters.


4.6 Quarter-finals
------------------

The seedings say Patty Schnyder [8], but I think she's overranked. She's a crafty spin-merchant who is particularly dangerous on clay, having upset Maria 3-6 6-3 6-1 at Rome 2005 - a loss which cost Maria an early chance to take the #1 ranking. Maria leads their head-to-head 4-1, but every match has been tough - most recently 7-5 7-5 at Linz 2006. But Schnyder's loss to Shahar Peer at Sydney doesn't fill me with dread.

I would love Anna Chakvetadze [13] to be that quarter-finalist instead. Anna is, for me, the most improved player of 2006 - now with groundstrokes of flairsome power. I recently inducted her into my Eternal Fanship. She won the Tier I title at Moscow in spectacular fashion, beating players ranked #10, #12, #7 and #5 (as well as receiving a walkover from Maria in the quarter-finals). She also won Hobart against a much weaker field.

Some experts have predicted Anna to reach the quarter-finals instead of Schnyder, and even suggested that she could beat Maria! She certainly gave Maria a very tough match at Los Angeles 2005, when both were injured. Maria won 4-6 6-4 7-5, and then pulled out of the tournament. Maria also beat Anna 6-1 6-4 at the French Open 2005, but Anna's game has improved beyond recognition since then.


4.7 Semi-finals
---------------

Kim Clijsters [4] is the one player I didn't want to see in Maria's half of the draw. Clijsters has given Maria all sorts of problems in the past with her combination of muscular power and superior retrieval-abilities, winning their first four matches.

Maria improved the head-to-head to 2-4 by winning both their matches in 2006 (San Diego 7-5 7-5 and Sony Ericsson Championships 6-4 6-4), but lost 6-3 7-6 in an exhibition at Hong Kong a week ago.

Granted, it was only an exhibition, and Maria wasn't playing with her usual determination and intensity, but she has given away an important psychological advantage. I have to say, my optimism about Maria's chances of winning the Australian Open after Justine Henin-Hardenne withdrew has been shaken - first by the loss, and then by the draw.

Martina Hingis [6] is another potential semi-finalist, having reached six Australian Open finals in a row (1997-2002), winning the first three. But Hingis has Sania Mirza in her third-round draw - to whom she lost at Seoul 2006 - and Dinara Safina in the fourth round - who beat her in the Gold Coast final. And Hingis is 0-3 against Clijsters since her comeback, including the quarter-finals here last year.

Should Maria face Hingis in the semi-finals, I'd be worried because Hingis beat her 6-3 6-1 at Tokyo 2006, although Maria should start as favourite after beating Hingis 6-3 6-4 at Dubai and 6-3 6-3 at Indian Wells.

My ideal semi-finalist would be Daniela Hantuchová [15], but Daniela may have to miss the Australian Open with a viral infection, and her record against Clijsters (whom she'd meet in the fourth round) is better left unspoken of.


4.8 Final
---------

The bottom half of the draw is by far the more open. Defending champion Amélie Mauresmo [2] was thrashed 7-5 6-0 by Jelena Jankovic at Sydney, having almost lost her opening match to Tatiana Golovin, who loves to choke.

Mauresmo also lost early at Sydney and Eastbourne 2006 - the weeks before the Grand Slams that she won - but this time, she admitted that she is struggling with her game. And of course defending a Grand Slam champion is a tremendous amount of pressure, especially for a famous choker such as Mauresmo.

Maria lost her first three matches to Mauresmo, who can mess her up by serving & volleying, heavy topspin or slice, and just a lot of off-speed balls that make Maria have to generate all the pace herself. But Maria beat Mauresmo 6-0 4-6 6-0 at the US Open, which gives Maria the psychological advantage.

There's no strong favourite to come through to the final if Mauresmo fails to live up to her seeding. Svetlana Kuznetsova [3] and Nadia Petrova [5] both retired from Sydney with illness and injury, respectively.

Jelena Jankovic [11] is on great form, having won Auckland and almost beaten Clijsters in the Sydney final (served for the match in the second set and had match-points) - but 'almost' is the operative word. Jankovic also choked dramatically when leading Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4 *4-2 (40/30) in the semi-finals of the US Open, then lost every game in the rest of the match. I think she may need more experience before she will be ready to reach a Grand Slam final, although she has a great draw to do so here. Fatigue may also be a factor after playing two full weeks before the Australian Open.

My dream-final would be between Maria and Nicole Vaidišová [10]. I think that would be a very exciting match, not just because Nicole is a member of my Eternal Fanship, but because she's the best player who is younger than Maria, and certainly has the weapons (particularly her serve and forehand) to win many Grand Slams.

Nicole made a spectacular run to the French Open 2006 semi-finals - beating Mauresmo and Venus Williams back to back - but blew a golden opportunity to reach the final at 7-5 *5-4 against Kuznetsova. And apart from another win over Mauresmo at Moscow, she has yet to reproduce that form. One factor in this may be that she's had to abbreviate the swing on her serve due to a shoulder-injury.

Nicole could face Elena Dementieva [7] in the fourth round - who beat her at Hong Kong, where she also took a set off Maria - so I guess Dementieva is another potential finalist, even with that weak serve.

-------------------------
5. Vera Zvonarëva preview
-------------------------
5.1 First round
---------------

Bepa has never played #121 Tzipora Obziler before. It should be a routine win, but Obziler won a $75k ITF tournament at Washington last August, and was a semi-finalist at WTA Guangzhou in October, so we shouldn't underestimate her too much.

One of the oldest players on the Tour at 33, I seem to remember her giving some top-ten American player a torrid time in Fed Cup a few years ago, but my memory lets me down there - as does the search-function on www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com).


5.2 Second round
----------------

Séverine Brémond reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon 2006, and finished the year with back-to-back WTA Tour semi-finals at Bangkok and Québec City. But Bepa has won their two meetings quite comfortably: 6-4 6-0 at Charleston 2004, and 7-6 6-3 at Memphis 2005.

Tamira Paszek, who turned 16 in December, has already won a WTA singles-title: Portoroz 2006. But Bepa should simply be too good for the world #187.


5.3 Third round
---------------

Ana Ivanovic [13] is a very talented player with a big forehand and a tendency to spread. She is a Reason-candidate for my Eternal Fanship (I'm not planning any more inductions in the foreseeable future).

Ana won her only prior meeting with Bepa 6-2 6-4 at Warsaw 2005, when Bepa was in the middle of her slump.

Ana is not on the best of form. She started 2007 with two impressive wins on the Gold Coast, but lost to Shahar Peer in the quarter-finals. She beat Nadia Petrova by retirement at Sydney, but couldn't withstand Nicole Vaidišová in the quarter-finals.

The pressure of expectation will be on Ana for this one, and after reaching the final of Auckland, Bepa might just have the form to spring a surprise.

Or Vania King might surprise Ana in the first round. The 17-year-old won her first WTA singles-title at Bangkok last October, winning six sets 6-1 on her way to the final. But I'm fairly optimistic about Ana coming through that one.


5.4 Fourth round
----------------

I would love a fourth-round match between Bepa and Maria Sharapova. They had such a fantastic rivalry in 2004; Maria moved ahead 3-2 with a win at San Diego 2006. They both have lovely groundstrokes of flairsome power; Maria with more ability to overpower her opponent; Bepa with more versatility and retrieval-skills. They are both tremendous fighters.

I'm not considering other possibilities than Maria getting to the quarter-finals at this stage, although a quarter-final against Anna Chakvetadze for either Maria or Bepa would be another mouthwatering match for me.

---------------------------
6. Anna Chakvetadze preview
---------------------------
6.1 First round
---------------

I'm a bit worried about #42 Sybille Bammer, because she beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals at Hobart, and Williams said, "You wish these players would play like this all the time instead of just against me. She played unbelievable."

Usually, Williams blames her defeats on unforced errors and doesn't give her opponent any credit, so praise like this from Williams is kind of scary for me as an Anna-fan!

But Bammer lost 6-3 6-1 to Vasilisa Bardina in the semi-finals, so she is indeed inconsistent.

I just pray that Anna won't have any further problems with her back or stomach-muscle come Tuesday.


6.2 Second round
----------------

#72 Laura Granville or #107 Yulia Beygelzimer? Anna beat Beygelzimer 6-4 6-3 in qualifying for the US Open 2004, and has never played Granville. There's nothing too scary in either of their 2006 results, so an injury-free Anna should have no real problems here.


6.3 Third round
---------------

Samantha Stosur [24] looks like Anna's first big test of the tournament. Anna has won three of her last four tournaments, but it was Stosur who inflicted the one defeat in that run: 6-4 6-4 at Linz 2006.

Stosur is ranked #27, but she is co-ranked #1 in doubles, and is a very dangerous floater. A serve & volleyer with a good serve, she outplayed Maria Sharapova for a set at Birmingham 2005, and always plays her best at home in Australia. She beat Vera Zvonarëva 6-1 6-4 in the first round of Sydney, losing to the on-form Jelena Jankovic in the second round.

I'm very worried about this match.


6.4 Fourth round
----------------

Patty Schnyder is the 8th seed, but I think she's overranked, and would fancy Anna's chances against her. Schnyder is a crafty spin-merchant who is particularly dangerous on clay, but her loss to Shahar Peer at Sydney doesn't exactly fill me with dread.

Schnyder beat Anna 2-6 6-2 7-5 at Moscow 2005, but that's encouraging /now/, considering that it was the third match in a six-match losing-streak for Anna.


6.5 Quarter-finals
------------------

I would love a quarter-final between Anna and Maria Sharapova.

Maria may be one of only three players that the media say can win the Australian Open, but Anna is, for me, the most improved player of 2006 - now with groundstrokes of flairsome power. She won the Tier I title at Moscow in spectacular fashion, beating players ranked #10, #12, #7 and #5 (as well as receiving a walkover from Maria in the quarter-finals). She also won Hobart against a much weaker field.

Some experts have predicted Anna to reach the quarter-finals instead of Schnyder, and even suggested that she could beat Maria! She certainly gave Maria a very tough match at Los Angeles 2005, when both were injured. Maria won 4-6 6-4 7-5, and then pulled out of the tournament. Maria also beat Anna 6-1 6-4 at the French Open 2005, but Anna's game has improved beyond recognition since then.

This is as far ahead as I want to look for Anna at this stage.

-----------------------------
7. Daniela Hantuchová preview
-----------------------------
7.1 First round
---------------

I'm just praying that Daniela will have recovered from the viral infection, with which she pulled out of the Sydney doubles, in time to play the Australian Open. She hasn't missed a Grand Slam since the French Open 2000 (when she had to choose between qualifying and playing on at Strasbourg, where she reached the quarter-finals).

http://www.sportinglife.com/tennis/news/
>>>
HANTUCHOVÁ COULD MISS AUSTRALIAN OPEN
World number 17 Daniela Hantuchová could miss the Australian Open due to illness.

It is thought that the 23-year-old Slovakian may have picked up a virus, although doctors have yet to diagnose her illness.

Hantuchová's mother, Marianna, revealed: "The health of Daniela is really not good. She has a high temperature, she is in bad condition and Australian doctors do not know the reason of her illness.

"We hope and we believe she will play in Melbourne, but her participation is really not sure right now."

Hantuchová has participated in the Australian Grand Slam tournament for the last five years, and reached the quarter-final in 2003.
<<<

If Daniela does play, she has a nice match against a girl from Nice: cute 16-year-old Alizé Cornet, ranked #192. She won a couple of $25k ITF tournaments last year: Bari and Padova, but would not normally be a player I'd be worried about Daniela having to play.

However, due to the serious doubts over Daniela's health, I'm not looking any further ahead than this first match.

----------------------------
8. Iroda Tulyaganova preview
----------------------------

Iroda will be playing her first Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2003 due to an elbow-injury that ruined the next three years for her. A former world #16, Iroda is making her way back up the rankings - currently #131. She won the Asian Championships last September to earn her wild card here.

Iroda is one of the most exciting, powerful, versatile and athletic players I have ever seen, and with the draw she's got, fourth round looks very possible, and I don't think a quarter-final is out of the question!


8.1 First round
---------------

The only previous time I've heard of Monique Adamczak was when Jelena Dokic beat her in the final of an Australian Open wild-card play-off (only open to Australian players) in December 2005.

This time, Adamczak does have a wild card for the Australian Open, having improved her ranking to #241. Outside of Australia, she plays only on the ITF circuit. Her most notable victims last year were #96 Melinda Czink and #120 Milagros Sequera.

Not surprisingly, Iroda has never played her, and always provided that Iroda is healthy, I don't expect her to have any problems here.


Second round
------------

Svetlana Kuznetsova [3] retired with breathing-difficulties at Sydney - having pulled out of the Silver Group final at Hong Kong with bronchitis - and Iroda beat her 6-4 6-1 in their only meeting: second round of the Australian Open 2002!

In terms of Iroda's chances of creating an upset, I'm very pleased with this draw - although not in terms of it attracting BBCi-televisation, as I believe Amélie Mauresmo (and possibly others) would be ahead of Kuznetsova in the pecking-order for that coveted evening-slot.


8.2 Third round
---------------

Should Iroda make it this far, the seedings project a mouthwatering match with Maria Kirilenko [26], who is ultracute and extremely pretty, but not that strong of a player - especially as she's in a pretty bad slump at the moment, losing in the first round of most of her tournaments since losing her Beijing-title.

Iroda has never played Kirilenko, but despite the gulf in rankings, I can see Little Maria really struggling to cope with Iroda's power and athleticism.

Will Little Maria even make it to the third round? She starts with the most attractive match of the first round, against #89 Karolina Šprem - another regular member of the Monday-Club, but Karolina can be very dangerous when she finds her form, as Venus Williams would tell you!

And we shouldn't overlook #43-ranked veteran Elena Likhovtseva, still a very solid player at 31. I thought she was planning to retire at the end of 2006, so she must be feeling pretty good about tennis to have continued into 2007.


8.3 Fourth round
----------------

Iroda has never been beyond the third round of any Grand Slam, but with the doubt over Kuznetsova's health, and the weakness of that section of the draw, this seems as good a chance as any to better that record!

Iroda's likely fourth-round opponent would be Shahar Peer [16], a rising star who is looking to beat the best in 2007, and upset Patty Schnyder at Sydney before losing 6-2 6-1 to Kim Clijsters. Shahar would be a very tough opponent for Iroda, as she has added power to the retrieval-skills that are the basis of her game.

I would prefer Tatiana Golovin [20] to reach this berth. Tatiana has a big serve, and /can/ hit hard from the baseline - but she's too passive too often for my liking; otherwise I might induct her into my Eternal Fanship! I've had a soft spot for Tatiana for three years now, but my Eternal Fanship requires Reason as well as Passion.

Tatiana is a very feisty and determined competitor, but also a bit of a choker: she had Amélie Mauresmo on the ropes in the second round of Sydney, but couldn't capitalise on a 6-4 *3-2 lead. She is prone to spraining her ankles, but now wears ankle-supports, and looks set to continue her improvement in 2007.


8.4 Quarter-final
-----------------

Iroda is in the quarter of the draw that looks the most open to me, with Nadia Petrova [5] being injured, but my objective prediction to reach the semi-finals from this quarter is Jelena Jankovic [11].

Jankovic is on great form at the moment, and it would be too much to expect Iroda to stop her. Jankovic won Auckland and almost beat Clijsters in the Sydney final (served for the match in the second set and had match-points) - but 'almost' is the operative word. Jankovic also choked dramatically when leading Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4 *4-2 (40/30) in the semi-finals of the US Open, then lost every game in the rest of the match. Fatigue may also be a factor after playing two full weeks before the Australian Open.

This is as far ahead as I want to look for Iroda at this stage, though I can always dream of a mouthwatering semi-final with Nicole Vaidišová! :-)

---------------------------
9. Nicole Vaidišová preview
---------------------------
9.1 First round
---------------

How worried should we be about #64-ranked Jill Craybas, who beat a 15-year-old Nicole 6-2 6-4 at ITF Midland 2004? Craybas reached the semi-finals of Auckland with wins over Aiko Nakamura, Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez, then lost to Vera Zvonarëva. She then failed to qualify for Sydney.

So I guess the answer is: a little bit worried, but not much - especially if Nicole plays like she did at Sydney and not like she did at Hong Kong!


9.2 Second round
----------------

#74 Jarmila Gajdošová or #95 Milagros Sequera, whom a 15-year-old Nicole beat 6-4 6-1 en route to the Vancouver 2004 title? It should be a routine win for Nicole either way.


9.3 Third round
---------------

Katarina Srebotnik [21] is a talented player with spider-like court-craft, but hardly a name that fills me with dread - especially since 15-year-old Nicole beat her 7-5 6-1 at Miami 2005. And that was the score by which Katarina lost to Li,Na in the quarter-finals of Sydney, having beaten Svetlana Kuznetsova by retirement.

I would prefer an all-Czech match with beautiful Iveta Benešová. Iveta is #84, and her only singles-action so far in 2007 has been a first-round loss on the Gold Coast, where she was a doubles-finalist with the girl she plays in the first round here: Galina Voskoboeva.

Iveta has the history to give Nicole a very interesting match. She beat Nicole in their only previous meeting: 2-6 6-4 6-4 at Hobart 2005 (she also won her only previous match against Srebotnik). She also knocked Mary Pierce out of the Australian Open 2006.


9.4 Fourth round
----------------

Reaching the fourth round again is the result that I expect of Nicole at this Australian Open. She would most likely be facing Elena Dementieva [7], who beat her 3-6 6-3 6-2 at Hong Kong, and also took a set off Maria Sharapova.

Dementieva also beat Nicole in their only match on the WTA Tour: 3-6 6-1 6-2 at Tokyo 2006.

I've often wondered why big servers like Maria and Nicole struggle as much as they do against Dementieva and her weak sliced serve, which produces so many double faults at key moments, and can only go to the right-hander's forehand. I think Dementieva makes up for it with her unusual ability to neutralise her opponent's initiative early in the rally, as well as superior fitness and a great crosscourt forehand.

There is room for optimism if the same Nicole that lost to #166 Yan,Zi could take a set off Dementieva in Hong Kong, and then improve sufficiently to reach the semi-finals of Sydney with a 6-4 6-2 win over Ana Ivanovic and a 6-4 4-6 6-4 loss to the on-form Jelena Jankovic.

A less-likely fourth-round opponent is Anabel Medina Garrigues [25], who has beaten Dementieva before, and featured in the Hopman Cup final a week ago. But I'd be very surprised if the quarter-finalist that emerges from this match is anyone other than Nicole or Dementieva - either of whom is a potential finalist from such an open bottom half.


9.5 Quarter-finals
------------------

Defending champion Amélie Mauresmo [2] was thrashed 7-5 6-0 by Jelena Jankovic at Sydney, having almost lost her opening match to Tatiana Golovin, who loves to choke.

Mauresmo also lost early at Sydney and Eastbourne 2006 - the weeks before the Grand Slams that she won - but this time, she admitted that she is struggling with her game. And of course defending a Grand Slam champion is a tremendous amount of pressure, especially for a famous choker such as Mauresmo.

Nicole's head-to-head against Mauresmo is 2-2. Mauresmo won their first two meetings: 7-5 7-5 at Philadelphia 2005, and 6-1 6-1 in 4r Australian Open 2006. But Nicole has won their last two: 6-7 6-1 6-2 in 4r French Open 2006, and 1-6 7-5 7-6 at Moscow 2006. So Nicole has the momentum against Mauresmo, and also did much better at Sydney.

If Mauresmo doesn't make it to the quarter-finals - which is quite conceivable after Sydney - then that eighth of the draw is wide open. The other seeds are Francesca Schiavone [14], Ai Sugiyama [23] and Zheng,Jie [31], while youngsters Lucie Šafárová, Marta Domachowska and Olga Poutchkova may also pose a threat - if not Shenay Perry in the first round.

I don't think it will be that easy to get rid of Mauresmo, though. Jankovic - okay, she's on great form at the moment - but for the players in her eighth, it's very hard to seal a victory against a top-three player - even an off-form one. Mauresmo still has time to get her act together, and any match she wins will make her more dangerous to the rest of the field.


9.6 Semi-finals
---------------

The third quarter of the draw is the most open, with Svetlana Kuznetsova [3] and Nadia Petrova [5] having withdrawn from Sydney illness and injury, respectively. That could be good news for Nicole, who is 0-2 against Kuznetsova and 1-3 against Petrova (the one she won was the Bangkok 2005 final!).

I predict that Jelena Jankovic [11] will emerge as the semi-finalist from that quarter. She is on great form, having won Auckland and almost beaten Clijsters in the Sydney final (served for the match in the second set and had match-points) - but 'almost' is the operative word. Jankovic also choked dramatically when leading Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4 *4-2 (40/30) in the semi-finals of the US Open, then lost every game in the rest of the match. Fatigue may also be a factor after playing two full weeks before the Australian Open.

Nicole leads Jankovic 4-2 head to head. She lost to her 5-7 6-3 6-2 in the third round of the US Open 2006, and 6-4 4-6 6-4 at Sydney. Jankovic would have to be the favourite on Auckland and Sydney form, but Nicole would certainly have a fighting chance.

Imagine it: Nicole v Jankovic in the semi-finals, having both blown golden opportunities to win their previous Grand Slam semi-finals! It would probably be another three-setter, and come down to who's stronger mentally - and that might well be Nicole, given Jankovic's two chokes as mentioned above.

My ideal semi-finalist from that quarter would be Iroda Tulyaganova, who will be playing her first Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2003 due to an elbow-injury that ruined the next three years for her. A former world #16, Iroda is making her way back up the rankings - currently #131. She won the Asian Championships last September to earn her wild card here.

Iroda is one of the most exciting, powerful, versatile and athletic players I have ever seen, and with the draw she's got, I don't think a quarter-final is out of the question!


9.7 Final
---------

Realistically, we'll be looking at either Maria Sharapova or Kim Clijsters as the finalist from the top half - should those two meet in the semi-finals, as per their seedings, I'll want Maria to win more than anything else about this Australian Open (Maria beat Clijsters in their last two meetings on the WTA Tour, but Clijsters leads their head-to-head 4-2, and also beat Maria in an exhibition at Hong Kong a week ago).

Nicole v Maria that would be a very exciting match - not just because they're both members of my Eternal Fanship, but because Nicole is the best player who is younger than Maria, and certainly has the weapons (particularly her serve and forehand) to win many Grand Slams.

Maria, you see, has never lost a WTA Tour or Grand Slam match to a player who is younger than herself! But 15-year-old Nicole beat her 5-3 in a World Team Tennis rubber on 14th July 2004 - eleven days after Maria won Wimbledon!

Nicole trails Clijsters 0-2 head-to-head, both in straight sets. I don't think I'd enjoy that final, and I could only hope that Nicole would be on top form to have got so far.

-------------------
10. Andrew's wishes
-------------------
10.1 Second round: Top half
---------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Roberta Vinci
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Aravane Rezaď
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Séverine Brémond
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Aiko Nakamura [s]
+ ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] d. Varvara Lepchenko
+ FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] d. Alicia Molik [WC]
+ Ashley Harkleroad d. Sandra Záhlavová [Q]

Routine wins:
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
* Tsvetana Pironkova
* Klára Zakopalová [Q]
* Ekaterina Bychkova

Nice upset:
+ Peng,Shuai [s] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [8]


10.2 Second round: Bottom half
------------------------------

Nice upsets:
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. NADIA PETROVA [5]
+ Michaëlla Krajícek d. MARA SANTANGELO [27]
+ Lucie Šafárová d. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14]
+ Martina Suchá d. ZHENG,JIE [31]
+ Virginia Ruano Pascual d. JELENA JANKOVIC [11]

Routine wins:
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]
* Marta Domachowska
* SHAHAR PEER [16]
* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. Zuzana Ondrášková
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] d. (Julia Vakulenko [Q] v Elena Likhovtseva)
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,S] d. Yuliana Fedak
+ Maria Elena Camerin d. Elena Vesnina
+ Iveta Benešová d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21]


10.3 Third-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová [Q]
+ FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] d. Peng,Shuai [s]

+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Tsvetana Pironkova
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad
+ Ekaterina Bychkova d. LI,NA [19]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. Michaëlla Krajícek
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF]

+ Maria Elena Camerin d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Iveta Benešová
+ Lucie Šafárová d. AI SUGIYAMA [23]
+ Marta Domachowska d. Martina Suchá


10.4 Fourth-round wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Ekaterina Bychkova

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. MARION BARTOLI [18,S]
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Marta Domachowska


10.5 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Sania Mirza [DF]
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. Gisela Dulko [DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


10.6 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF]


10.7 Final wish
---------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

--------------
11. Qualifying
--------------
11.1 First round (Andrew's selections)
----------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ KLÁRA ZAKOPALOVÁ [6] d. María Emilia Salerni, 6-3 6-2

I approve:
+ Marina Erakovic d. Simona Matei, 7-5 6-1
+ Alizé Cornet d. KATERYNA BONDARENKO [1], 6-4 1-6 6-4
+ Ayumi Morita [s] d. Sara Errani, 6-2 6-4
+ JULIA VAKULENKO [5] d. Angelique Kerber, 6-1 3-6 6-0
+ HSIEH,SU-WEI [16,S] d. Shikha Uberoi, 4-6 6-3 6-3
+ TIMEA BACSINSZKY [10] d. Melanie South, 6-3 7-6 (7/4)
+ Sandra Záhlavová d. Nathalie Vierin, 4-6 6-3 6-2

I don't approve:
- Dominika Cibulková lt. ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA [18], 4-6 7-5 7-9
- Arantxa Parra Santonja [s] lt. Raquel Kops-Jones, 4-6 5-7
- VIKTORIYA KUTUZOVA [14] lt. Neha Uberoi, 5-7 3-6
- Paola Suárez lt. KRISTINA BARROIS [4], 4-6 1-6
- MATHILDE JOHANSSON [23] lt. Yevgenia Savransky, 6-1 6-7 (4/7) 4-6
- Angela Haynes lt. Evgeniya Rodina, 3-6 0-6
- Lucie Hradecká [s] lt. AHSHA ROLLE [21], 4-6 4-6
- Yan,Zi [s] lt. Vanessa Henke, 3-6 4-6

How can Yan,Zi go from beating Nicole Vaidišová in Hong Kong to losing in the first qualifying-round of the Australian Open? :-||

TS <http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280516>:
>>>
Domi :sad: :sad: :sad:

Look, let's be honest. I didn't know much about Dominika Cibulková before this match, but I'm a convert now and will now be following her promising career. This girl hits hard and flat, and to be honest, I thought she was the better player and should've won. Alla is a big (tall) girl, who reminds me of an inferior Svetlana Kuznetsova. Alla kept the balls in with some big, deep hitting, and it was usually Domi that threw in the error. Alla was the more composed of the two and handled herself quite beautifully in pressure situations. She is one to watch. This was easily the best match of the day, and a big crowd was there watching by the end of it. Domi proved a big hit with the males watching, as she is simply STUNNING :hearts: The main reason I stopped to watch this match at the beginning was because of her looks, so I guess "lets cheer for the pretty one" rang true in this instant. I think both players will reach the top 100 by years end. Is Domi playing the junior event? :angel:
<<<

Experimentee <http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280376>:
>>>
Dominika is very talented, she has great power off both sides but also has problems controlling the power. She made some good winners but also a lot of UEs. She was leading by an early break in the first set, and also up 4-2 in the 2nd set but let both leads slip by being impatient and making errors by trying to end the point too soon. Alla was a bit better than what I remember last year, but she still lacks weapons and won most of the points by getting the ball in play and moving Domi around until she made the error. Domi was playing pretty bad in the 2nd set after she led 4-2 and I was sure she'd lose the set, but then Alla tightened up when she had the opportunity to break (it might have been match points, cant remember) and let Dominika hold serve, then she lost the 2nd set.
<<<


11.2 Second round (Andrew's selections)
-----------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ TIMEA BACSINSZKY [10] d. Marina Erakovic, 3-6 7-5 6-4

What rocked:
+ KLÁRA ZAKOPALOVÁ [6] d. Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová, 6-3 6-1
+ Alizé Cornet d. Anne Keothavong, 6-3 6-2
+ JULIA VAKULENKO [5] d. Monica Niculescu, 6-0 5-7 7-5
+ Sandra Záhlavová d. Neha Uberoi, 7-5 6-0

What sucked:
- Ayumi Morita [s] lt. TATIANA POUTCHEK [9], 6-0 5-7 1-6
- HSIEH,SU-WEI [16,S] lt. Tamira Paszek, 0-6 2-6

Ayumi led 6-0 5-4 with match-points!


11.3 Third round (Andrew's selections)
----------------

A very satisfactory state of affairs:
+ Alizé Cornet d. María José Argeri, 5-7 7-5 6-4
+ Sandra Záhlavová d. KRISTINA BARROIS [4], 6-3 4-6 7-5
+ JULIA VAKULENKO [5] d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 3-6 6-1 6-1
+ KLÁRA ZAKOPALOVÁ [6] d. Abigail Spears, 6-4 6-2
- TIMEA BACSINSZKY [10] lt. Renata Vorácová, 2-6 6-2 3-6

I hear Sandra Záhlavová's a bit of a grunter! :-)

----------------------------
12. Order of Play for Monday
----------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v ANDY RODDICK [6]
WS 1r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Jill Craybas
MS 1r: IVAN LJUBICIC [4] v Mardy Fish
WS 1r: Jessica Moore [WC] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]

Court 13 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Marc Gicquel v Alun Jones [WC]
WS 1r: Elena Vesnina v ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [25]
MS 1r: RADEK STEPÁNEK [20] v Michael Llodra
WS 1r: Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] v Monique Adamczak [WC]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 15th, 2007, 10:46 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round results: Bottom half
3. Vaidišová v Craybas report
4. Tulyaganova v Adamczak report
5. First-round draw: Top half
6. Second-round draw: Bottom half
7. Andrew's wishes
8. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
9. Order of Play for Tuesday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Beauty of the day - Maria Kirilenko with an awesome waterbottle-shot:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=20&cap=1
(surf down to Jan 15, 12:25 am EST,
_also Zuzana Ondrášková at Jan 14, 8:35 pm EST
_and Jessica Moore at Jan 15, 7:06 am EST)

Maria Sharapova practising:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=61 (to 62)

Iroda Tulyaganova:
http://www.iroda-tulyaganova.com/v2/site.jsp?node_id=2005006121540462131
http://www.wtnphotos.com/showgallery.php?cat=521

Tatiana Golovin:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=golovin

Maria Kirilenko (again):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=kirilenko

Yuliana Fedak:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=fedak

Zuzana Ondrášková (again):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ondraskova

Dominika Cibulková & other players from qualifying:
http://s142.photobucket.com/albums/r88/Experimentee/Australian%20Open%202007/?start=all (by Experimentee)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280516&page=3 (by TS)
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Qualifying round 1)

Anna Chakvetadze, Iveta Benešová, Gisela Dulko, Ana Ivanovic and others:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Practice)

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova"
"vaidisova"
"hantuchova"
"golovin"
"kirilenko"
"dulko"
"vesnina"
"krajicek"
"fedak"
"ondraskova"
"jessica moore"

-----------------------------------
2. First-round results: Bottom half (Monday 15th January)
-----------------------------------

Czechmates:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Jill Craybas, 6-4 5-7 6-1
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. Anna Smashnova, 6-3 6-1
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] d. Karolina Šprem [DF], 3-6 6-3 6-1
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. Sun,Tiantian, 6-2 6-2
+ Iveta Benešová d. Galina Voskoboeva, 6-7 (3/7) 6-1 6-4
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,S] d. Vera Dushevina, 6-0 6-3
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. Romina Oprandi, 6-1 6-3
+ Elena Vesnina d. ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [25], 6-7 (7/9) 6-1 6-1
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Alberta Brianti, 6-3 6-1
+ Zuzana Ondrášková d. Clarisa Fernández, 6-4 6-2
+ Virginia Ruano Pascual d. Melinda Czink, 1-6 6-1 9-7
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] d. Casey Dell'Acqua [WC], 4-6 6-2 7-5
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] d. Stéphanie Foretz, 6-1 6-2

Exchanges (nice winners, nice losers):
+ Maria Elena Camerin d. Kirsten Flipkens, 6-2 6-2 (won)
+ Olga Poutchkova d. Marta Domachowska, 6-2 6-4 (lost)
+ Julia Vakulenko [Q] d. Elena Likhovtseva, 6-0 4-6 6-3 (even)

Insufficient mating-material:
- Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] lt. Monique Adamczak [WC], 1-6 4-6
- Michaëlla Krajícek lt. Anne Kremer [Q], 4-6 3-6
- Yuliana Fedak lt. Victoria Azarenka, 2-6 7-5 4-6
- Martina Suchá lt. Eva Birnerová, 5-7 3-6

Stalemates:
- MARA SANTANGELO [27] lt. Serena Williams, 2-6 1-6
- ZHENG,JIE [31] lt. Julia Schruff, 6-4 6-7 (1/7) 4-6

I saw Santangelo's match on BBCi. She has a nice, slender body (in contrast to Williams, who looked distinctly... wide), some flairsome groundstrokes with quite a quirky technique on either side, and played a few dominating rallies with great depth - only to fail to deliver the coup de grâce.

Santangelo seemed completely intimidated by her opponent's /name/. Williams hit a few good shots, including a memorable pinpoint backhand down the line. But she faced little resistance from Santangelo, who beat herself in a hail of unforced errors.

This was not a good advert for women's tennis, at a time when they're considering dropping the women's match from the evening-session on Rod Laver Arena, so that the men's match doesn't finish after midnight (as it did today). That would mean no women's tennis on BBCi for at least the first five days! :-||

-----------------------------
3. Vaidišová v Craybas report
-----------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Jill Craybas, 6-4 5-7 6-1

A tough match for Nicole in the heat of the day. She broke for *3-2 in the first set, and saved 4 break-points as she served for it at 5-4.

In the second set, she broke for *4-3, only to be broken back immediately, and again in the last game.


"Vaidišová stutters into second round in Melbourne" (Reuters):
>>>
Czech teenager Nicole Vaidišová suffered a second set stutter before prevailing over American veteran Jill Craybas 6-4 5-7 6-1 in her opening match at the Australian Open on Monday.

The 17-year-old, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in her breakthrough year of 2006, smashed 13 aces as she finally overhauled the athletic 32-year-old American and now faces Venezuela's Milagros Sequera in the second round.

A single break was sufficient for the 10th seed to take the first set in 39 minutes but Craybas, who has never passed the third round in seven attempts at Melbourne Park, hit back with two breaks to take the second.

Vaidišová, a fourth-round loser to champion Amélie Mauresmo last year, ran away with it in the third, breaking the Craybas serve three times to seal victory in an hour and 52 minutes with a crunching forehand service-return down the line.
<<<

3.1 Nicole quotes
-----------------

"I complicated my way to quicklier win - I could win in straight sets, but in the end of second set I hit many unnecessary unforced errors and I gave Jill this set. Craybas was in match again, but in third set I had match in my control.

"I know a little Venezuelan against I will play in second round. I should to win without problems if I will play without my today's drop-out.

"I'm very glad with the beginning in this season. I played really well in Sydney, which was important in /this/ match. Surprisingly, I very well served - 18 aces is nice success, but it's important who stand against you. I played many matches in Vodafone Arena, and I feel well here."

[Re. her finger-injury]
"It doesn't mind me now, but in Hong Kong I can't play my the best tennis. It was really ugly and open injury, and I dislike blood - I nearly fainted! I slipped in shower with blade in my hand and injury was in the world.

"I feel pleasantly in this dress, maybe because of I'm part of production my collection. It's long process which is 18 months long; now I know in which I will play at Australian Open 2008. I study many fashionable magazines during the year, and I send styles and colours to the centre of firm. Then I fly to Boston where I try all clothes from collection."

--------------------------------
4. Tulyaganova v Adamczak report
--------------------------------

- Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] lt. Monique Adamczak [WC], 1-6 4-6

A very, very disappointing result for Iroda, by the standards she has shown since September!

Perhaps it was the extreme Australian heat (she's said before that she doesn't like playing in hot climates), perhaps it was the partisan Australian crowd, perhaps it was the unexpected switch from Court 13 to Court 2 (which made /me/ miss the first set in following live scores), or perhaps she's injured yet again.


First set
---------
TULYAGAN *______ 1
ADAMCZAK _*@*@*@ 6


Second set
----------
TULYAGAN _*___* *@_ 4
ADAMCZAK * *@* *__@ 6

As I started following live scores at 19:30 AEST, Iroda was already a set down and facing points to go a break down:

Iroda serving 0-1: 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad I, held.
Adamczak serving 1-1: held to love.
Iroda serving 1-2: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.
Adamczak serving 3-1: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Iroda serving 1-4: 0/15, 30/15, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad I, held.
Adamczak serving 4-2: 15/0, scoreboard froze... 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad I, Deuce #2, ad A (BP #2), Deuce #3, scoreboard froze...

Adamczak serving 5-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 (2 MPs) -> 40/40, ad I (BP), broken!

Well, I've witnessed it many times in the last 15 years that I've been following professional tennis: Player A serves for the match, gets tight, and Player B goes on to win! Could it happen here?

Iroda serving 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad A (MP #3), Adamczak won 6-1 6-4 at 20:08 (possibly about five minutes earlier, because the scoreboard froze at match-point, then actually went backwards!).


From Sunny_Boy's report
<http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=9811831>:
>>>
Finally after all the waiting play began at around 6.45 local time. Iroda held quite easy! From there on, she was almost missing every shot. Whenever a rally was being played, Monique would just get the ball in and Iroda would miss. Monique did her homework and attacked Iri's backhand, I don't think Iroda knew how Monique played, she didn't do her homework I think.

The whole crowd was cheering for Monique except Akgul, Iroda's players box, Dom and myself. Everyone Dom did a great job cheering, it was basically 200 Aussies against Dom and myself, so Dom deserves a lot of respect from us Iri fans.

In the 2nd Iroda basically started off the same, way too many errors, Monqiue didn't do much to be winning a set and 4-2. At 4-2 it was a crucial game, a long deuce game which Iroda lost, to go down 2-5. At 2-5 down and serving, she clawed her way back from 0-30 to win the game. When Monique came to serve for the match she was feeling the pressure, she held 2 mps but Iroda saved them both, one with a winner! When she won the game and went down 4-5 she was pumped. At 4-5 down, she couldn't land a 1st serve! A DF didn't help either. However she had GP but a tight call went against Iroda and threw her momentum, Iroda wasn't convinced with the call. The rest now is history, Iroda lost with more errors.

When Monique won, she collapsed to the court (I thought it was an over reaction but anyway) Iroda was nice to her at the net and gave her a kiss. Iroda did wave to the crowd as she left ;)
<<<

Prior to the match, Iroda posted the following in the guestbook at http://us.geocities.yahoo.com/gb/view?member=smandy0
>>>
Name : Iroda T.
Email address : <follow the above link>
Comment : Hye every one and happy new year to ech one of u:) i have read eery think what u have wish o me and how u suport me thank u very very much. im at the Australian Open at the moment and i wish to show to every one best of me;) and i know i will be back to
<<<
(Unfortunately this guestbook truncates overlength messages without warning.)

-----------------------------
5. First-round draw: Top half (to be played on Tuesday)
-----------------------------
5.1 Top quarter: Sharapova, Zvonarëva, Chakvetadze
--------------------------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Camille Pin (DAVAI MARIA!)
* Roberta Vinci v Anastassia Rodionova (ˇforza Roberta!)
* Renata Vorácová [Q] v Meghann Shaughnessy
* Emmanuelle Gagliardi v TATHIANA GARBIN [30]

* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler (DAVAI VERA!)
* Séverine Brémond v Tamira Paszek [Q] (allez Séverine!)
* Varvara Lepchenko v Agnieszka Radwanska (davai Varvara!)
* ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] v Vania King (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Sybille Bammer (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Yulia Beygelzimer v Laura Granville
* Sophie Ferguson [WC] v Jelena Kostanic Tosic
* Klára Zakopalová [Q] v SAMANTHA STOSUR [24] (pojdme Klára!)

* FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] v Kaia Kanepi (ˇforza Flavia!)
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Chan,Yung-Jan (go Alicia!)
* Peng,Shuai [S] v Andreja Klepac [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Madison Brengle [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]


5.2 Second quarter: Hantuchová
------------------------------

* Vasilisa Bardina v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (davai Vasilisa!)
* Akiko Morigami [S] v Tsvetana Pironkova (my Reason says Akiko, but my Passion says Tsvetana)
* Nicole Pratt v Virginie Razzano
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro [Q] (davai Alyona!)

* Sandra Záhlavová [Q] v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17] (pojdme Sandra!)
* Ashley Harkleroad v Yuan,Meng (go Ashley!)
* Aravane Rezaď v Emilie Loit (allez Aravane!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet (PODME DANIELA!)

* Ekaterina Bychkova v DINARA SAFINA [9] (davai Ekaterina!)
* Youlia Fedossova [WC] v Catalina Castańo
* Ahsha Rolle v Lourdes Domínguez Lino
* Elena Bovina v LI,NA [19]

* Aiko Nakamura [S] v ELENI DANIILIDOU [32] (ganbatte Aiko!)
* Sania Mirza [DF] v Olga Savchuk (go Sania!)
* Alla Kudryavtseva [Q] v Emma Laine
* Nathalie Dechy v MARTINA HINGIS [6]

---------------------------------
6. Second-round draw: Bottom half (to be played on Wednesday)
---------------------------------

* Gisela Dulko [DF] v NADIA PETROVA [5] (ˇvamos Gisela!)
* Anne Kremer [Q] v Serena Williams (dajee Anne!)
* MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Victoria Azarenka (allez Marion!)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v JELENA JANKOVIC [11] (ˇvamos Virginia!)

* SHAHAR PEER [16] v Meilen Tu (kadima Shahar!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v Zuzana Ondrášková (loyalty to Tatiana)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] v Julia Vakulenko [Q] (loyalty to Maria)
* Monique Adamczak [WC] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (I want Adamczak to win this, to vindicate Iroda)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Martina Müller (davai Elena!)
* Maria Elena Camerin v Elena Vesnina (my loyalty is to Maria Elena)
* Iveta Benešová v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] (my loyalty is to Iveta)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Milagros Sequera (POJDME NICOLE!)

* Lucie Šafárová v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14] (podjme Lucie!)
* Anastasiya Yakimova v AI SUGIYAMA [23]
* Eva Birnerová v Julia Schruff (I find Birnerová more attractive)
* Olga Poutchkova v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (davai Olga!)

------------------
7. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 1)
-------------------
7.1 Second round: Top half
--------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Roberta Vinci
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Aravane Rezaď
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Séverine Brémond
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Aiko Nakamura [S]
+ ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] d. Varvara Lepchenko
+ FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] d. Alicia Molik [WC]
+ Ashley Harkleroad d. Sandra Záhlavová [Q]

Routine wins:
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
* Tsvetana Pironkova
* Klára Zakopalová [Q]
* Ekaterina Bychkova

Nice upset:
+ Peng,Shuai [S] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [8]


7.2 Third-round wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Klára Zakopalová [Q]
+ FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] d. Peng,Shuai [S]

+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Tsvetana Pironkova
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad
+ Ekaterina Bychkova d. LI,NA [19]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. Anne Kremer [Q]
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] d. Monique Adamczak [WC]

+ Maria Elena Camerin d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Iveta Benešová
+ Lucie Šafárová d. AI SUGIYAMA [23]
+ Olga Poutchkova d. Eva Birnerová


7.3 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Ekaterina Bychkova

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. MARION BARTOLI [18,S]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Olga Poutchkova


7.4 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Sania Mirza [DF]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. Gisela Dulko [DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


7.5 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF]


7.6 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------------------------
8. Women's Doubles: First-round draw (Andrew's selections)
------------------------------------

* (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8] v Varvara Lepchenko/Olga Poutchkova

* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6] v Tatiana Golovin [DF]/Alicia Molik

* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Emma Laine v Bethanie Mattek/Shenay Perry

* Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Mara Santangelo v (DINARA SAFINA/KATARINA SREBOTNIK)[5]

* (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12] v Laura Granville/Carly Gullickson

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

----------------------------
9. Order of Play for Tuesday
----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1] v Camille Pin
MS 1r: Robert Kendrick v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
WS 1r: Vasilisa Bardina v KIM CLIJSTERS [4]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 1r: Alicia Molik [WC] v Chan,Yung-Jan
MS 1r: LLEYTON HEWITT [19] v Michael Russell

It's just as well Maria didn't get the evening-session, because BBCi has promised live coverage of Andy Murray v Alberto Martin (Margaret Court Arena) at that time, so no women's tennis tomorrow! :-||

Court 6 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Christophe Rochus v SÉBASTIEN GROSJEAN [28]
WS 1r: Aiko Nakamura [S] v ELENI DANIILIDOU [32]
MS 1r: Evgeny Korolev v FERNANDO GONZALEZ [10]
WS 1r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet

Court 7 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Lukáš Lacko v Robert Smeets [WC]
WS 1r: Sophie Ferguson v Jelena Kostanic Tosic
MS 1r: Alexander Waske v DMITRY TURSUNOV [21]
WS 1r: VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler

Court 13 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Sybille Bammer
MS 1r: Paul Goldstein v JARKKO NIEMINEN [17]
WS 1r: Sandra Záhlavová [Q] v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17]
MS 1r: ROBIN SÖDERLING [23] v Florian Mayer

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

An Australian heatwave is forecast for tomorrow, with temperatures over 40şC. It shouldn't put Maria at a disadvantage, but it could be very tough for Vera and Anna, and especially for Daniela if she's still ill. It's even conceivable that we could have a on-court death.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 16th, 2007, 10:25 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round results: Top half
3. Chakvetadze v Bammer report
4. Sharapova v Pin report
5. Second-round draw
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Order of Play for Wednesday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=522 (to 529)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278892 (pp.1-2)

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqg92.html

Sania Mirza:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtam788.html

Ana Ivanovic:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqe90.html

Flavia Pennetta:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtap391.html

Various players including Nicole Vaidišová, Tatiana Golovin and Olga Poutchkova:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r1

Off-court: Shahar Peer and Samantha Stosur looking radiant!
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova"
"chakvetadze"
"mirza"
"ivanovic"

Anna Chakvetadze's official website:
http://www.theannachakvetadze.com/

--------------------------------
2. First-round results: Top half (Tuesday 16th January)
--------------------------------

The right girls won:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Camille Pin, 6-3 4-6 9-7
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Sybille Bammer, 6-4 7-5
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Olga Savchuk, 6-3 7-5
+ ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] d. Vania King, 6-2 6-0
+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro [Q], 6-1 7-6 (8/6)
+ Aiko Nakamura [S] d. ELENI DANIILIDOU [32], 6-4 6-0
+ Alicia Molik [WC] d. Chan,Yung-Jan, 6-2 7-6 (7/4)

Selesian winner, nice loser:
+ Akiko Morigami [S] d. Tsvetana Pironkova, 7-5 2-6 6-4

The wrong girls won:
- FLAVIA PENNETTA [28,DF] lt. Kaia Kanepi, 5-7 6-7 (3/7)
- Klára Zakopalová [Q] lt. SAMANTHA STOSUR [24], 3-6 1-6
- Varvara Lepchenko lt. Agnieszka Radwanska, 7-5 3-6 2-6
- Roberta Vinci lt. Anastassia Rodionova, 3-6 1-6

Flavia's loss is the one I'm really sad about. She had to miss the US Open and a load of WTA tournaments at the end of 2006 due to a left-wrist injury, and she can't win a match anymore. :sad:

Sam Smith mentioned Flavia whilst commentating on the Moyá v Blake match (Carlos Moyá is her boyfriend). She congratulated Flavia for having "her hooks into" Moyá for so long!

Postponed to Wednesday:
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet (PODME DANIELA!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler (DAVAI VERA!)
* Aravane Rezaď v Emilie Loit (allez Aravane!)
* Peng,Shuai [S] v Andreja Klepac [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Ashley Harkleroad v Yuan,Meng (go Ashley!)
* Séverine Brémond v Tamira Paszek [Q] (allez Séverine!)
* Sandra Záhlavová [Q] v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17] (pojdme Sandra!)
* Ekaterina Bychkova v DINARA SAFINA [9] (davai Ekaterina!)
* Madison Brengle [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
* Elena Bovina v LI,NA [19]
* Youlia Fedossova [WC] v Catalina Castańo
* Ahsha Rolle v Lourdes Domínguez Lino

------------------------------
3. Chakvetadze v Bammer report
------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Sybille Bammer, 6-4 7-5

Anna did well to win in straight sets after trailing *1-4 (0/30) in the second set! She also had to save two break-points at *5-4 (15/40) in the first set.

It was ridiculously hot out there (Maria Sharapova was struggling against Camille Pin at the same time), so I'm very glad Anna wasn't taken to three (she did save a set-point in the second).

The match lasted 1h35m.


First set
---------
CHAKVE _* * * *@* 6
BAMMER * * * *___ 4

Second set
----------
CHAKVE _*___* *@*@* 7
BAMMER * *@* *_____ 5

Matt Cronin's pre-AO comments about Anna:
"Tracy Austin calls her the new Hingis. She might be a little grittier, but is also a bit too emotional. She's smart, play the angles well and is rising daily. Don't be stunned if the Russian reaches the semis."

-------------------------
4. Sharapova v Pin report
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Camille Pin, 6-3 4-6 9-7

Struggling with heatstroke that would have caused many players to retire, it's a testament to Maria's will that she pulled this one out. Indeed, we're all lucky that it was not her last will and testament!

No thanks to the Australian Open's idiotic Extreme-Heat Policy, which doesn't allow the roof to be closed on Rod Laver Arena - or a match to be suspended for heat - when it has already started.

Extreme heat can be an equaliser, and it can also make some matches very one-sided. It's no longer about tennis - it's about who can handle the heat better on the day.

The third set was filled with drama. Maria blew a 5-0* lead and three match-points (two at 5-2* and one at 6-5*), then was two points from defeat as Pin served for the match at 7-6 (30/15).

As Maria levelled up at 7-7, it was 3am in England, and that was the point at which I decided to go to bed, since I had to be up at 8am to catch BBCi's coverage. But I was lying in bed for an hour, worrying about Maria - not only about her chances of victory, but about the medical danger of playing for three hours in 40°C!

Some sources even claim that it was 50°C!!

No women's tennis on BBCi today, but Sam Smith said (whilst commentating on Hewitt v Russell) that Maria had "quite a lot of pain in her stomach" towards the end.

I'm very worried about Maria's future matches in this Australian Open, after that 2h51m marathon in such heat. I wouldn't normally be worried about Anastassia Rodionova - who beat Roberta Vinci 6-3 6-1 - but can Maria recover in time for Thursday? I hope to God they put her on the evening-session then.


First set
---------
SHA @*__@* *@ 6
PIN __*@__*__ 3

Second set
----------
SHA _@*___* *_ 4
PIN @__*@* * * 6

Third set
---------
SHA *@*@*_____*__@*@ 9
PIN _____*@*@* *@___ 7

markspot: "Pin had a huge advantage over Masha because she is so small and she can withstand heat much easier. So her advantage over Masha in that regard kept increasing with every minute."

www.mariasharapova.com:
>>>
Pin was able to take the 2nd set 6-4 by getting everything back in the extreme conditions.

There was a mandatory 10-minute heat-break at the beginning of the 3rd set as*the temperature*was very hot. Maria quickly*took a 5-0 lead but Pin was able to come back and level the set 5-5.*Maria then won one game to lead 6-5 and had*to call the trainer as she was suffering in the heat*and then lost the next 2 games. Pin was serving for the match at 7-6, but Maria was able to take a dominant break and hold her serve to finally take the match on a Pin groundstroke hit long.
<<<

www.wtatour.com:
>>>
MELBOURNE, Australia - Extreme on-court temperatures and high third set drama all contributed to what would become the most competitive contest of the Australian Open thus far, as tournament favorite Maria Sharapova overcame underdog Camille Pin, 63 46 97, in the first round on Tuesday.

Sharapova, the top seed at the year's first major, was very nearly sent home in her first match of the new year by the 62nd-ranked Pin. She had a relatively easy time in the first set, but became more erratic as the match went on; she seemed to regroup after losing the second set, going up 5-0 in a hurry in the deciding third set, but that was when things really began heating up.

Pin took her cue as Sharapova began erring more often, keeping the ball in play with a mix of angles and spins, and slowly working her way back into the set. She saved two match points trailing 5-2 and after evening things to 5-5 saved another one down 6-5, and subsequently found herself serving for the match up 7-6. But the nerves got the better of Pin, who had never beaten a Top 30 player, let alone a No.2; upon double faulting that game away, Sharapova cruised through two straight games to end it.
<<<

Luke Buttigieg for www.australianopen.com:
>>>
2006 US Open champion and 2004 Wimbledon winner Sharapova appeared to be cruising when she shrugged off losing the second set to race to a 5-0 lead in the third, but Pin staged a remarkable recovery and actually served for the match herself at 7-6.

Struggling to stay in the contest after the EHP's introduction during the second set at Rod Laver Arena, Sharapova dug deep and broke back before finally claiming her 6-3 4-6 9-7 victory in 171 minutes with her fourth break of the set.

After dominating the match early, despite hitting 25 unforced errors, Sharapova continued to rack up the unforced errors as the match wore on, eventually finishing with 65 to Pin's 44, but 44 winners to Pin's 14 went a long way to compensating.
<<<

Bren O'Brien for www.australianopen.com:
>>>
Women's No.1 seed Maria Sharapova has endured a torrid three-setter against Frenchwoman Camille Pin to progress to the second round of Australian Open 2007, 6-3 4-6 9-7.

The hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena played havoc with the Russian's game, as she squandered a one-set advantage against the world No. 61, who forced a deciding set.

The implementation of the Extreme Heat Policy meant a five-minute break at the end of the second set for the players, and Sharapova looked to use that to her advantage. But she was forced to fight to the very end, grabbing the victory and setting up a second-round match-up with compatriot Anastassia Rodionova.

Things looked to going to plan for the 2005 Wimbledon and 2006 US Open champion when she recovered from an early break of serve to break Pin three times and take the advantage.

But Pin was able to rally, taking an early break in the second set, and holding her nerve when Sharapova broke back to level the match.

The Russian then surged to a 5-0 lead in the third, and looked set for an easy win. But Pin battled back, winning five straight games to level up again and have the No.1 seed under pressure. She took a break in the 13th game, and was two points from victory, but could not serve out the match. Sharapova then broke in the 16th game for the toughest of first-round victories.
<<<

BBC Sport <http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6265591.stm>:
>>>
Top seed Maria Sharapova survived searing heat and a stomach problem to beat France's Camille Pin in an epic first-round tie at the Australian Open.

The Russian was two points from defeat after letting a 5-0 lead slip in the final set, but somehow came through for a 6-3 4-6 9-7 win.

With the temperature at Melbourne Park up to 36°C by midday, all play on the outside courts was suspended as the tournament's extreme heat policy was invoked.

The roofs on the two main stadia were closed but only after matches already on court were completed, in accordance with tournament rules.

That included Sharapova, who had to battle away against a sprightly Pin in the full glare of the midday sun.

After taking the opening set, she let world number 62, Pin, back into the match in the second.

And a combination of nerves, heat exhaustion, cramping and what she later described as "a pinch" in her stomach contributed to the loss of five straight games in the decider.

But the Russian did not give up and played some superb tennis to haul her way back from 7-6 down to win in two hours 51 minutes.
<<<

Agence France-Presse (AFP):
>>>
It was a draining experience for Sharapova.

Red-faced, dripping sweat and swearing at the umpire, she stumbled through the second set before a new burst of energy carried her 5-0 clear in the third.

But she was clearly feeling the pace and started cramping, dropping the next five games. The courageous Pin fought back to serve for the match at 7-6 before Sharapova dug deep to snatch victory.
<<<

John Pye, AP Sports Writer:
>>>
It was a thumbs-up dripping with irony.

Soaked with sweat, and delusional by her own admission, top-seeded Maria Sharapova had come within two points of a first-round exit at the Australian Open.

When it was announced the roof would be closed over Rod Laver Arena after her match, Sharapova clapped her hands above her head and raised her right thumb to applaud the decision.

Not long after Sharapova trudged off to see a doctor, rehydrate and take a cold bath while the temperature soared above 104 degrees [40°C], Rafael Nadal strolled onto a centre court shielded by the retractable roof and cooled by air conditioning.

It was too hot midway through the Sharapova-Pin match for other matches to be started on outdoor courts. Sharapova needed a medical timeout for cramps in the last set, an ice-vest over her neck at every change of ends, and every ounce of tenacity she could muster to beat the Frenchwoman who had made the second round only twice in 15 majors.
<<<

Reuters:
>>>
Russian top seed Maria Sharapova was among the players to take advantage of the ice-vests - ice-filled tubes worn round the neck to fend off the punishing heat - during her first-round match against France's Camille Pin on Rod Laver Arena.

Her match, which included a 10-minute heat-break after the second set, was played with the roof open as rules stipulate it can only be closed between matches.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
Feeling dazed and confused at 6-6 in the third set, the U.S. Open champion looked completely out of sorts as she plopped down serves and had to be reminded that there was no tiebreak in the decider.

Scenting a famous victory, Pin bounded up and down the court and grabbed a break for a 7-6 lead as Sharapova dropped her serve to love with a double fault.

However, Pin's lack of experience on the big stage finally caught up with her and Sharapova won the next three games.
<<<

Ed Osmond (Reuters):
>>>
Sharapova, struggling with a stomach-injury, wasted three match-points, and Pin was just two points from victory when she served for the match at 7-6.

Sharapova dug deep, however, to win the next three games, breaking Pin's serve to love to end a match lasting just under three hours.

The 19-year-old Sharapova looked comfortable in the first set, quickly finding her rhythm and picking off her opponent with a series of crisp strokes at the start of her bid for a third Grand Slam title.

Pin refused to lie down, though, frustrating Sharapova in the second set with her consistent first serve and steady groundstrokes.

HEAT-BREAK

The players took a 10-minute heat break which revitalised Sharapova, and she stormed into a 5-0 lead in the final set before wilting under pressure from the gritty Pin.

Sharapova made a succession of errors and wasted three match-points as Pin relentlessly kept the ball in play and waited for her opponent to make a mistake.

The US Open champion, seeking her first Melbourne Park title, netted a number of booming groundstrokes as her confidence ebbed away, and she received treatment from a doctor between games.

A confused Sharapova had to be reminded by the umpire that tiebreaks were not used in the final set, but faced by the prospect of becoming the first women's top seed to lose in the Australian Open first round since 1979 [Virginia Ruzici], she stayed calm and sealed victory when Pin sent a forehand long.
<<<

Maria quotes
------------

"This was one of my toughest matches I've played here, but obviously not one of my best. It was really tough.

"Most importantly, I'm looking forward to recovering. I can only get better from here. I just hope I can /feel/ better.

"I was so delusional I couldn't think. You know, it was hard to think about what you were going to do on court, because you were just mentally trying to find a way to kind of make the points shorter, and basically trying to find a way to win.

"But sometimes, when it's that hot outside, your mind doesn't work properly. At points in the match, you're not really worrying about how you're playing or what you're doing - you're just trying to focus on winning every point as quickly as possible. It's just really physically draining.

"It's inhuman to play three hours in that kind of heat - I don't think our bodies were made to do that. But, it was hard for me and it was hard for my opponent. I wouldn't say it was unfair, but I could be feeling a lot worse if I'd lost the match.

"In the middle of the second set, I started getting some pinches in my abdominal muscle."

[Re. retiring from the match]
"Why? Because I'm not a quitter. I'm not just going to stop because of the heat. I thought that it would really suck if I lost, but I'm not a quitter.

"I would be feeling a lot worse /now/ if I had lost, and I'll be ready for my next match."


Pin quotes
----------

"Maybe she felt a bit worse than me, but maybe I didn't show it too much. That's good, but my legs were sore and my feet were burning, and it was pretty tough but I had to deal with that.

"Right now, actually I feel very disappointed. But now that I've been around, I've been half an hour at the restaurant, and I can see people saying, 'Well, you did great today,' so I feel a bit better now.

"I tried to play aggressively when I was serving for the match, but she is the world number two and she played a great game. I was really sad to miss it, but she's No.2 in the world, and she's succeeded to do what she had to do on this game.

"But I was so close that I thought it was my day, but apparently it was not, so next time."


More pretournament quotes from Maria
------------------------------------

"There are a lot of other things in life. I want to have a family and I can see myself retiring at a similar age to Kim [Clijsters]."

Noooo! :bigcry:

"I'm definitely enjoying what I'm doing right now. I love the feeling of going on the court and trying to get myself better. I still have that motivation to work hard.

"I've been in two semis here. I'm just ready to take it to the next level, hopefully get to the final or win it. I might not have that many matches under my belt, but I feel fresh, I feel healthy, which is most important.

"I'm glad that I could take the confidence that I played with at the [US] Open, and take it through the end of the year, and hopefully start with that.

"My preparation is a lot better than last year, [when] I came into the event not knowing if I was going to compete with my injury or not. It was a last-minute decision. Actually, it's been a good five, six weeks of training.

"After I won the US Open, I just took the confidence and the way I was playing. I didn't feel like I was playing my best tennis in the first few rounds - especially in the fourth or the quarters, I didn't feel like I was playing great.

"And when I had to, you know, against Amélie, I've already been in a few semi-finals, I lost them, some tight ones. I was able to win that one. I played the good points well. With a little bit of luck at times - and confidence - I was also able to win the final.

"You know, so it's a bit of confidence, a bit of mentally being strong. I took that with me. Overall, I was pretty proud of myself for keeping that level going.

"It's a pretty classy dress. It's like a lemon chiffon colour. It's a little high-waisted. I tend to pay a lot of attention to detail. There's a little corset detail in the back, and there's a bow. My warm-up dress is really cute."


Pretournament quotes from Kim Clijsters about Maria
---------------------------------------------------

"Maria always plays well here. She's very good I think also in playing in the heat. This kind of Australian atmosphere, I think she enjoys that.

"She's playing well. She always is capable of doing a little bit more when it gets close, when it gets really important. That's why she's such a great champion."

--------------------
5. Second-round draw
--------------------
5.1 Top half (to be played on Thursday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Anastassia Rodionova (DAVAI MARIA!)
* Renata Vorácová [Q] v TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
* (VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler)
v (Séverine Brémond v Tamira Paszek [Q])
* ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] v Agnieszka Radwanska (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Laura Granville (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Jelena Kostanic Tošic v SAMANTHA STOSUR [24]
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Kaia Kanepi (go Alicia!)
* (Peng,Shuai [S] v Andreja Klepac [Q])
v (Madison Brengle [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8])

* Akiko Morigami [S] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (ganbatte Akiko!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v Virginie Razzano (davai Alyona!)
* (Sandra Záhlavová [Q] v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17])
v (Ashley Harkleroad v Yuan,Meng)
* (Aravane Rezaď v Emilie Loit)
v (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet)

* (Ekaterina Bychkova v DINARA SAFINA [9])
v (Youlia Fedossova [WC] v Catalina Castańo)
* (Ahsha Rolle v Lourdes Domínguez Lino)
v (Elena Bovina v LI,NA [19])
* Sania Mirza [DF] v Aiko Nakamura [S]
* Alla Kudryavtseva [Q] v MARTINA HINGIS [6]


5.2 Bottom half (to be played on Wednesday)
---------------

* Gisela Dulko [DF] v NADIA PETROVA [5] (ˇvamos Gisela!)
* Anne Kremer [Q] v Serena Williams (dajee Anne!)
* MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Victoria Azarenka (allez Marion!)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v JELENA JANKOVIC [11] (ˇvamos Virginia!)

* SHAHAR PEER [16] v Meilen Tu (kadima Shahar!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v Zuzana Ondrášková (loyalty to Tatiana)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] v Julia Vakulenko [Q] (loyalty to Maria)
* Monique Adamczak [WC] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (I want Adamczak to win this, to vindicate Iroda)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Martina Müller (davai Elena!)
* Maria Elena Camerin v Elena Vesnina (my loyalty is to Maria Elena)
* Iveta Benešová v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] (my loyalty is to Iveta)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Milagros Sequera (POJDME NICOLE!)

* Lucie Šafárová v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14] (podjme Lucie!)
* Anastasiya Yakimova v AI SUGIYAMA [23]
* Eva Birnerová v Julia Schruff (I find Birnerová more attractive)
* Olga Poutchkova v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (davai Olga!)

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 2)
------------------
6.1 Third-round wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. SAMANTHA STOSUR [24]
+ Peng,Shuai [S] d. Alicia Molik [WC]

+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Akiko Morigami [S]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad
+ Ekaterina Bychkova d. LI,NA [19]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. Anne Kremer [Q]
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,S] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] d. Monique Adamczak [WC]

+ Maria Elena Camerin d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Iveta Benešová
+ Lucie Šafárová d. AI SUGIYAMA [23]
+ Olga Poutchkova d. Eva Birnerová


6.2 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Peng,Shuai [S]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. Ekaterina Bychkova

+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. MARION BARTOLI [18,S]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Olga Poutchkova


6.3 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Sania Mirza [DF]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. Gisela Dulko [DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


6.4 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF]


6.5 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------------------
7. Order of Play for Wednesday
------------------------------

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 2r: JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [24] v Danai Udomchoke
WS 2r: ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Martina Müller
MS 2r: MARIO ANCIC [9] v Guillermo García-López
WS 2r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Milagros Sequera

Court 7 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Alizé Cornet
MS 2r: RADEK ŠTEPÁNEK [20] v Lukáš Dlouhý
WS 2r: TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v Zuzana Ondrášková
WS 2r: Iveta Benešová v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21]

Court 21 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tzipora Obziler
WD 1r: (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[3] v Andreea Ehritt-Vanc/Anastassia Rodionova
WS 2r: SHAHAR PEER [16] v Meilen Tu
MD 1r: (ARNAUD CLEMENT/MICHAEL LLODRA)[16] v Lukasz Kubot/Oliver Marach

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 17th, 2007, 09:52 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round results: Top half
3. Second-round results: Bottom half
4. Hantuchová v Cornet report
5. Zvonarëva v Obziler report
6. Poutchkova v Mauresmo TV-report
7. Vaidišová v Sequera report
8. Second-round draw: Top half
9. Third-round draw: Bottom half
10. Andrew's wishes
11. Mixed Doubles: First-round draw
12. Order of Play for Thursday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Nicole Vaidišová - lovely gestures make her my beauty of the day:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=62

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278875&page=4 (pp. 4-5)

Daniela looks red, drenched with sweat, and her skin looks rougher than normal IMO - hopefully just the heat and not her illness!

Tatiana Golovin:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=golovin
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq565.html

Maria Kirilenko - what a strange top!
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=kirilenko
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq370.html

Gisela Dulko! :drool:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtad388.html
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=dulko

Ashley Harkleroad:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtah418.html
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=harkleroad
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=17&cap=1 (surf down to Jan 16, 9:19 pm EST)

Olga Poutchkova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=poutchkova

Peng,Shuai:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=peng

Various players on court (Maria Sharapova, Tatiana Golovin, Sania Mirza, Ana Ivanovic added):
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r1

Various players off-court (Jelena Jankovic & Elena Vesnina added):
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne

Maria Sharapova, Anna Chakvetadze and Ana Ivanovic:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (First round - day 2)

Search Getty Images for:
"hantuchova"
"vaidisova"
"golovin" (also turns up Zuzana Ondrášková)
"kirilenko"
"dulko"
"harkleroad"
"poutchkova"
"peng"
"ruano" (Virginia Ruano Pascual in tears)

--------------------------------
2. First-round results: Top half (Wednesday 17th January)
--------------------------------

A lot cooler today than Tuesday.

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Alizé Cornet [Q], 6-4 6-1

What rocked:
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Tzipora Obziler, 6-3 6-4
+ Peng,Shuai [S] d. Andreja Klepac [Q], 6-3 4-6 6-1
+ Ashley Harkleroad d. Yuan,Meng, 6-3 6-0

What sucked:
- Aravane Rezaď lt. Emilie Loit, 3-6 6-4 3-6
- Séverine Brémond lt. Tamira Paszek [Q], 1-6 4-6
- Ekaterina Bychkova lt. DINARA SAFINA [9], 6-7 (5/7) 1-6
- Sandra Záhlavová [Q] lt. ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17], 4-6 1-6

------------------------------------
3. Second-round results: Bottom half (Wednesday 17th January)
------------------------------------

What rocked:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Milagros Sequera, 6-2 6-1
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. Meilen Tu, 6-3 6-0
+ Lucie Šafárová d. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [14], 6-3 6-3
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] d. Martina Müller, 7-5 3-6 6-0

Nice winners, nice losers:
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. Zuzana Ondrášková, 6-2 6-0
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] d. Julia Vakulenko [Q], 4-6 6-3 6-4
+ Maria Elena Camerin d. Elena Vesnina, 6-4 3-6 6-8
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] d. Iveta Benešová, 7-6 (7/0) 6-7 (6/8) 6-1
(but I prefer Iveta)

What sucked:
- Gisela Dulko [DF] lt. NADIA PETROVA [5], 1-6 2-6
- MARION BARTOLI [18,S] lt. Victoria Azarenka, 0-6 5-7
- Virginia Ruano Pascual lt. JELENA JANKOVIC [11], 2-6 2-6
- Olga Poutchkova lt. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2], 2-6 2-6

And to think that Gisela owned Petrova 2-0 head-to-head before today! The photos show Gisela taking a medical time-out.

Another upset:
- AI SUGIYAMA [23] lt. Anastasiya Yakimova, 2-6 6-2 8-10

-----------------------------
4. Hantuchová v Cornet report
-----------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Alizé Cornet [Q], 6-4 6-1

I'm very happy that Daniela came through this one - and so comfortably - after last week it was doubtful she would even play the Australian Open because of a viral infection.

The match lasted 77 minutes.


First set
---------
HANTUC *@__*@__*@ 6
CORNET __@*__@*__ 4

This was what David Mercer would call a "Noah's Ark" set.

Daniela serving 0-0: held after saving 3 break-points.

Daniela serving 2-0: broken after wasting a game-point.

Daniela serving 2-2: held after saving a break-point.

Daniela serving 4-2: broken after wasting a game-point.

Cornet serving 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 SPs), Daniela won the first set 6-4.


Second set
----------
HANTUC *@*@* * 6
CORNET _____*_ 1

Cornet serving 0-3: Daniela pegged her back from 40/15, then wasted 4 break-points, then Cornet had another game-point, then Daniela broke.

Daniela serving 5-1: She held to love to win 6-4 6-1.


Second-round preview
--------------------

In the second round, Daniela plays Emilie Loit, who had a much tougher first-round win: 6-3 4-6 6-3 over Aravane Rezaď. The only time Daniela played Loit before (Montréal 2004), Loit retired.

Loit seems to have been around forever, although she's only 27. She didn't have a particularly impressive 2006, but at Auckland she upset defending champion Marion Bartoli before losing in the quarter-finals to Camille Pin.

Loit will try to mess up Daniela's rhythm with junk-shots - the way she beat Maria Sharapova at the US Open 2003 - but if Daniela has fully recovered then I fancy her chances.

-----------------------------
5. Zvonarëva v Obziler report
-----------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Tzipora Obziler, 6-3 6-4

Bepa served 7 aces, and had a W:UE ratio of 26:23.

Sorry for the lack of detail - I sleep during the Australian day, and the compressed schedule has left me with too many matches to catch up on in too short a time.

----------------------------------
6. Poutchkova v Mauresmo TV-report
----------------------------------

Ever since I saw that this match was on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session, I had been looking forward to watching Olga Poutchkova play on BBCi. When you first see a new player, you don't wanna miss the boat. You have to be very careful. You might be staring at van Gogh's ear.

As Olga was coming onto court, she said: "I'm pretty excited to play tonight, so we'll see what's gonna happen."

As Olga came onto court, she looked pretty much as she does in photos. When she started warming up, she looked quite delectable!

John Lloyd described Olga as a fiery character who can get mad - temparamentally immature, but a good, aggressive game.


First set
---------
POUTCHKO _*____@_ 2
MAURESMO * *@*@ @ 6

Mauresmo serving 0-0: On the very first point, Olga went to the net after a long rally, but an awkward lob forced a volley wide. Olga then tried to work the points from the baseline and finish them aggressively, but made errors on the aggressive shots as Mauresmo held to love.

Then play was suspended for rain, much to Olga's annoyance. They resumed under a closed roof. Olga didn't look happy as she came back onto court.

Olga serving 0-1: She held to love with four cheap errors from Mauresmo. Her service-action reminds me of Maria Sharapova's, although it's only an average women's serve.

Mauresmo serving 1-1: At 15/0, Olga missed a half-chance as she netted a backhand pass. Mauresmo held as Olga narrowly missed an aggressive off-forehand at 40/30, but should be encouraged by the way Mauresmo's backhand is breaking down.

Olga serving 1-2: Olga played a nice spreading rally, but came in and netted a backhand volley. 0/15. Another spreading rally by Olga, another missed backhand by Mauresmo. 15/15, 15/30. A short-angled serve drew another backhand error. 30/30. Olga ran down a dropshot and sprayed a wild forehand very long & widel... and smiled! 30/40. Off a penetrating crosscourt backhand from Mauresmo, Olga hit a backhand wide to give Mauresmo the first break.

Mauresmo serving 3-1: A hard backhand pass induced Mauresmo backhand volley error. 0/15. Mauresmo crosscourt backhand winner. 15/15, 40/15. Mauresmo served & volleyed, but put her first volley wide. 40/30. Mauresmo sprayed a wild backhand long. 40/40. Olga backhand just long. She muttered. Ad Mauresmo. Olga sprayed a backhand wide.

John Lloyd said Olga's shot-selection was immature, especially when out of position (e.g. trying to go down the line when driven wide).

Sam Smith: "Certainly not being outplayed here, though."

Olga serving 1-4: 15/0. A very short dropshot from Mauresmo forced Olga into error. John Lloyd: "Didn't track that one early enough. 15/15. Double fault. 15/30. Olga came in behind a deep sliced backhand, but a weak volley gave Mauresmo an easy pass-winner. 15/40. Olga sprayed a forehand long.

Sam Smith: "Total control now for Mauresmo, and young Poutchkova starting to look a little /lost/."

Mauresmo serving 5-1: Olga cracked a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. 0/15. Olga cracked a brilliant forehand winner down the line! 0/30. Mauresmo backhand volley just long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Double fault.

Much, much better from Olga in that game. She's one of my 'Tier III' favourites now (the level below my demi-fanship).

Olga serving 2-5: Olga hit a nice short-angled crosscourt forehand, forcing Mauresmo into error. 15/0. Olga backhand wide. 15/15. Olga hit an error-forcing backhand down the line, deep into Mauresmo's forehand-corner. 30/15. Mauresmo backhand return-winner. 30/30. Olga mishit a forehand long. 30/40 (SP #1). Mauresmo netted a forehand volley. 40/40. Double fault. Ad Mauresmo (SP #2). Mauresmo's lob was called just long, Mauresmo challenged it, Hawk-eye showed SPACE between the ball and the line, BUT THE UMPIRE CALLED IT IN!! :fiery: So they replayed the point, and Olga netted a backhand. Mauresmo won the first set 6-2.

Sam Smith: "Looks like she [Olga] belongs out here, but not quite settled. Plenty of power."

Olga didn't look out of her depth against Mauresmo, but beat herself with cheap errors. But she's not doing too badly, considering her inexperience at this level.


Second set
----------
POUTCHKO _*@_____ 2
MAURESMO *__@*@*@ 6

Mauresmo serving 0-0: Poutchkova hit a deep, error-forcing forehand. 0/15. Olga errors. 30/15. Mauresmo netted a backhand. 30/30. Olga netted a wild forehand return off a second serve - "that's the improvement that needs to be made" [John Lloyd]. 40/30. Mauresmo backhand volley-winner.

Olga serving 0-1: Olga hit a wild backhand drive-volley wide - but the power! :-) 0/15. Some good flairsome power from Olga induced Mauresmo into error. 15/15. Olga forehand just long. 30/30. Mauresmo netted a forehand. 40/30. Mauresmo dominated Mauresmo with a couple of backhands down the line, followed by an error-forcing crosscourt backhand.

Mauresmo serving 1-1: Olga backhand winner down the line, on the baseline! 0/15, 15/15. Olga, driven wide, cracked a brilliant backhand winner down the line. 15/30. Double fault. 15/40 (2 BPs). Olga hit a brilliant backhand return-winner down Mauresmo's backhand-sideline!

If Olga played like that all the time, who knows how far she could rise - both in the rankings and my list of favourites!

I just get the feeling that Olga's unforced errors (20 so far) are going to stop her causing real problems for Mauresmo in this match.

Olga serving 2-1: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30 (point for 3-1*). Olga backhand just long. John Lloyd: "Shot-selection". Ad Mauresmo (BP). Olga slapped a forehand into the net. Just an error-strewn game, Mauresmo being passive.

Mauresmo serving 2-2: Mauresmo backhand volley-winner. 15/0. A long baseline-rally ended with Olga hitting a forehand /very/ long. Sam Smith: "Poutchkova sucking in air, Mauresmo not even breathing." 30/0, 30/15. Double fault. 30/30. Mauresmo came to the net, forcing Olga to miss a backhand pass. 40/30. Serve + forehand winner.

Sam Smith: "When you're feeling hot and tired, and you look over to the other side of the court and you see an /amazon/ there, it's disheartening."

Olga serving 2-3: Olga forehand winner down the line caught the outside edge of the sideline - called wide but overruled as in. 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs). Service-winner. 30/40. Olga cracked a brilliant crosscourt backhand winner "out of nowhere", right in the corner. 40/40. With both players at the net, Olga netted a backhand volley, and yelled in frustration. Ad Mauresmo (BP #3). Olga netted a forehand.

Sam Smith criticised Olga's footwork, contrasting it with Maria Sharapova and all her tiny little steps.

John Lloyd said Olga should do drills where she's not allowed to hit a winner until at least the seventh stroke.

Mauresmo serving 4-2: Olga ran down a crosscourt backhand and hit a backhand winner down the line. 0/15, 30/15. Mauresmo netted a forehand. 30/30. Olga hit a backhand return wide - but lovely flairsome power on that shot! 40/30. Olga netted a grotesque forehand not halfway up the net, and the commentators were now talking about Mauresmo like she already won the match. Sam Smith: "Difficult to gage her form from this match. What we do know is she's playing okay."

Olga serving 2-5: Mauresmo forehand long. 15/0. Olga netted a low-percentage forehand down the line from the tramlines. Olga forehand long. John Lloyd: "She's really just a baby. She's got the potential to be a big-time player, but there's a lot of work to be dfone." 15/30. A lovely flairsome crosscourt forehand from Olga forced Mauresmo to net a forehand. 30/30. Olga netted a forehand. 30/40 (MP #1). Mauresmo netted a backhand return. 40/40. Olga's backhand clipped the netcord and fell wide. Ad Mauresmo (MP #2). Another netcord from Olga gave Mauresmo an easy crosscourt forehand winner to win 6-2 6-2.

John Lloyd dismissed the match as an "easy stroll" for Mauresmo because Olga made so many errors.

Mauresmo said she was happy with her performance, and that Olga was "actually pretty talented, can play some great shots".

I have a good feeling about Olga after this match. A lot of players break through younger than Olga (she's already 19), but she's done well to establish herself on the WTA Tour from the ITF Women's Circuit just four months ago - not just on the Tour but reaching a couple of finals - and her groundstrokes can be brilliant at times.

-----------------------------
7. Vaidišová v Sequera report
-----------------------------

I must confess that I was so absorbed with watching Olga Poutchkova on BBCi, I didn't notice this match starting on the scoreboard in front of me! :o

With the outside courts suspended for rain, this was moved from Show-Court 2 to the Vodafone Arena.


First set
---------

Sequera serving 1-4: 15/30, 30/40, 40/40, ad S, held.
Nicole serving 4-2: held to love.
Sequera serving 2-5: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/40 (SP), Nicole won the first set 21:23 AEST (25 minutes).


Second set
----------
VAIDIŠO *@* *@* 6
SEQUERA ___*___ 1

Nicole serving 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Sequera serving 0-1: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), broken.

Well pegged back by Nicole!

Nicole serving 2-0: 15/0, 15/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad N, held.

A tough service-game for Nicole (glad she didn't lose the 15/30 point!), and those are the ones you have to get through to be a top player - it's all about winning the key points. A few tests like this may help Nicole in later rounds.

Long delay here. Obviously the roof is closed on the Vodafone Arena (following a rain-delay earlier in the evening), so this must be a medical time-out (the photos show the trainer attending to a barefoot Sequera).

Sequera serving 0-3: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad S, held.

Missed opportunities for a *4-0 lead there. :(

Nicole serving 3-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad N, held.

Phew! 3-2* would have had quite a different complexion than 4-1*.

Sequera serving 1-4: broken to love.
Nicole serving 5-1: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 40/30 (MP #1), Nicole won 6-2 6-1 at 21:53 (second set 30 minutes, match 55 minutes).

And another little test passed in that last game.

--------------------
8. Second-round draw
--------------------
8.1 Top half (to be played on Thursday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Anastassia Rodionova (DAVAI MARIA!)
* Renata Vorácová [Q] v TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tamira Paszek [Q] (DAVAI VERA!)
* ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] v Agnieszka Radwanska (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Laura Granville (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Jelena Kostanic Tošic v SAMANTHA STOSUR [24]
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Kaia Kanepi (go Alicia!)
* Peng,Shuai [S] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8] (jia you Shuai!)

* Akiko Morigami [S] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (ganbatte Akiko!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v Virginie Razzano (davai Alyona!)
* Ashley Harkleroad v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17] (go Ashley!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Emilie Loit (PODME DANIELA!)

* DINARA SAFINA [9] v Youlia Fedossova [WC] (allez Youlia!)
* Lourdes Domínguez Lino v LI,NA [19]
* Sania Mirza [DF] v Aiko Nakamura [S] (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Alla Kudryavtseva [Q] v MARTINA HINGIS [6]

-------------------
9. Third-round draw
-------------------
9.1 Bottom half (to be played on Friday)
---------------

* NADIA PETROVA [5] v Serena Williams
* Victoria Azarenka v JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v SHAHAR PEER [16] (both nice; my loyalty is to Tatiana)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (davai Maria!)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Maria Elena Camerin (my loyalty is to Maria Elena)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] (POJDME NICOLE!)
* Lucie Šafárová v Anastasiya Yakimova (pojdme Lucie!)
* Eva Birnerová v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (pojdme Eva!)

------------------
10. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 3)
------------------
10.1 Third-round wishes (top half only)
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. SAMANTHA STOSUR [24]
+ Peng,Shuai [S] d. Alicia Molik [WC]

+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Akiko Morigami [S]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad
+ LI,NA [19] d. Youlia Fedossova [WC]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]


10.2 Fourth-round wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Peng,Shuai [S]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Sania Mirza [DF] d. LI,NA [19]

+ JELENA JANKOVIC [11] d. NADIA PETROVA [5]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Eva Birnerová


10.3 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Sania Mirza [DF]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


10.4 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF]


10.5 Final wish
---------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

-----------------------------------
11. Mixed Doubles: First-round draw (Andrew's selections)
-----------------------------------

* Vera Zvonarëva/Andy Ram v Casey Dell'Acqua/Chris Guccione

* Daniela Hantuchová/Mahesh Bhupathi v Jelena Jankovic/Nenad Zimonjic

I thought Daniela had retired from mixed doubles after completing her career Grand Slam at the US Open 2005. I wonder if her decision to enter had anything to do with her illness and expectations for singles?

Full XD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/xd/

------------------------------
12. Order of Play for Thursday
------------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: Alla Kudryavtseva v MARTINA HINGIS [6]
WS 2r: Kaia Kanepi v Alicia Molik [WC]
MS 2r: ANDY MURRAY [15] v Fernando Verdasco
WS 2r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Anastassia Rodionova

The cretins in charge of BBCi have decided to show Murray v Verdasco live, then shut down (presumably) and then show a repeat at 08:30 GMT instead of live women's tennis! :-||

I have nothing against Murray personally, but I hope he gets knocked out so that the BBC won't be able to use him as an excuse to show no women's match on Saturday, when Anna Chakvetadze v Samantha Stosur could well be the women's match on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session - or will it be Maria's turn?

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Emilie Loit
MS 2r: Olivier Rochus v SÉBASTIEN GROSJEAN [28]
WS 2r: Peng,Shuai [S] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
MS 2r: Gilles Muller v NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO [3]

Court 7 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v Tamira Paszek
MS 2r: Max Mirnyi v DMITRY TURSUNOV [21]
WD 1r: (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8] v Varvara Lepchenko/Olga Poutchkova
MD 1r: Tomas Behrend/Guillermo García-López v (JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI)[2]
WD 1r: Francesca Schiavone/Patty Schnyder v (ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA/ELENA VESNINA)[13]

Court 19 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Laura Granville
WS 2r: Ashley Harkleroad v ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17]
WD 1r: (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12] v Laura Granville/Carly Gullickson
MS 2r: Florian Mayer v Andreas Seppi

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

Lenafan
Jan 17th, 2007, 10:35 PM
Great stuff. Thanks.

andrewbroad
Jan 18th, 2007, 11:02 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & video
2. Second-round results: Top half
3. Sharapova v Rodionova report
4. Hantuchová v Loit report
5. Zvonarëva v Paszek report
6. Chakvetadze v Granville report
7. Third-round draw
8. Andrew's wishes
9. Women's Doubles
10. Order of Play for Friday

-----------------
1. Photos & video
-----------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Daniela Hantuchová - beauty of the day:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278875&page=5 (pp. 5-6)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6273401.stm

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=529
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1077

Vera Zvonarëva:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=9834781
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva

Anna Chakvetadze:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280396&page=2

Sania Mirza:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza

Ana Ivanovic:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqe90.html

Alyona Bondarenko:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=bondarenko

Ashley Harkleroad:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=harkleroad

Alicia Molik:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtam548.html
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=molik

Peng,Shuai:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=peng

Various players on court (Maria Sharapova, Daniela Hantuchová, Vera Zvonarëva, Nicole Vaidišová, Tatiana Golovin, Sania Mirza, Alicia Molik, Shahar Peer, Ashley Harkleroad):
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r2

Various players off-court (Sania Mirza & Ana Ivanovic added):
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Tatiana Golovin, Maria Kirilenko, Elena Vesnina, Elena Dementieva (Second Round - day 1);
Daniela Hantuchová, Ana Ivanovic, Ashley Harkleroad (Second round - day 2):
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova"
"hantuchova"
"chakvetadze"
"ivanovic"
"bondarenko"
"harkleroad"
"molik"
"mirza"


1.2 Video
---------

Hantuchová v Loit - last game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8PgxczareI

---------------------------------
2. Second-round results: Top half (Thursday 18th January)
---------------------------------

Excellent all round!
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Anastassia Rodionova, 6-0 6-3
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Emilie Loit, 4-6 6-3 6-4
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Tamira Paszek [Q], 6-1 6-3
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Laura Granville, 6-2 5-7 6-1
+ ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] d. Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2 3-6 6-2
+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] d. Virginie Razzano, 6-3 6-4
+ Ashley Harkleroad d. ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17], 6-2 6-2
+ Alicia Molik [WC] d. Kaia Kanepi, 1-6 6-3 6-2

Selesian winner, nice loser:
+ Aiko Nakamura [s] d. Sania Mirza [DF], 6-3 6-2
(but I wanted Sania to win)

Selesian losers:
- Peng,Shuai [s] lt. PATTY SCHNYDER [8], 5-7 3-6
- Akiko Morigami [s] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 3-6 0-6

Another upset:
- SAMANTHA STOSUR [24] lt. Jelena Kostanic Tošic, 4-6 6-2 2-6

-------------------------------
3. Sharapova v Rodionova report
-------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. Anastassia Rodionova, 6-0 6-3

I'm very relieved to see that Maria came through this one just two days after her three-hour ordeal in the extreme heat. This match was played in the early evening, when it was much cooler, and it took just 58 minutes.

Maria's starting to look like a genuine title-contender again. As long as she doesn't suffer in the heat again, that first-round aberration will seem a long time ago when she's in the semi-finals once again (with all due respect to Vera Zvonarëva and Anna Chakvetadze, who are also members of my Eternal Fanship, and are playing well enough to make life difficult for Maria in the fourth round and quarter-finals, respectively).

www.mariasharapova.com: (http://www.mariasharapova.com:)
>>>
Maria stormed through the 1st set without dropping a game and won the set on a strong forehand winner in only 23 minutes.

Maria broke to lead 3-1 in the 2nd set and just dropped*2 more games on her way to the 3rd round.*Maria won the match on a swinging forehand volley.
<<<

Second set: Maria 4-1, 5-2, 6-3.

www.wtatour.com: (http://www.wtatour.com:)
>>>
Two days after overcoming somewhat of a disastrous first round test, Maria Sharapova was back on court and sharper than ever, notching a routine 6-0 6-3 second-round win over Russian compatriot Anastassia Rodionova.

Sharapova, the No.1 seed at the year's first Grand Slam, needed just 58 minutes to win. Her -1 winners-to-errors differential (20-21) was far better than her -21 from the aforementoned first-round ordeal (44-65).
<<<

Ed Osmond (Reuters):
>>>
Sharapova, who was within two points of defeat by Frenchwoman Camille Pin in searing midday heat on Tuesday, looked much more comfortable on a cooler evening, and clinched victory in 58 minutes.

Sharapova started strongly, picking off her 24-year-old opponent with trademark booming groundstrokes, and putting her under constant pressure with her serve.

Rodionova, world number 100, raised her game in the second set but, struggling with a thigh-injury that required treatment, she was powerless to stop Sharapova from beating her for the third time in three meetings.
<<<

PA SportsTicker:
>>>
However, Sharapova was never threatened against Rodionova, winning 26-of-29 points on her first serve to take the match in just 58 minutes. She capped the victory with an overhead slam at the net.
<<<

Maria quotes
------------

"All my brain-cells were restored today, so I was able to think a little bit out there, unlike the previous match.

"It was nice to get a quick one in there today. It was very important to get out there and get off to a good start then end the match on a good note rather than dragging it out.

"It was good - I'm glad I got off to a good start, and I'm glad I was able to finish the match quickly. I wanted to make sure, you know, I finished it in two this time. I thought I played a little better today, but I still think I can play a lot better. I'm nowhere near my top level. But I think I can definitely get better as I play more matches here.

"It's hard to take much away from the first match, because I didn't think it had a lot to do tennis-wise. Today, I felt like I could work on a few things, and really see how I was playing. I'll take a few things from this and improve for my next one.

"I'm definitely recovered from it. I just rested a lot, stayed inside, drank - just try to recover. There's not much you can do except try and rest as much as you can. I feel good physically.

"Yeah, I mean, it's of course unfortunate because heat, it's probably one of the most dangerous things, you know, an athlete can get. So, yeah, I'm happy that I was able to get through it and win that match, and win today.

"It can't get hotter than it was the other day. Somehow, I managed that one. Hopefully, I can manage another one if it gets to that point. Hopefully I'll be lucky if it does get to that point, the roof will be closed before my match even starts.

"I think when it gets to a certain point where it's extreme heat, players should probably stop. Even if there is a 20-minute delay, I think that's why the roof's there. Heat is one of the most dangerous things for players."

[Re. the success of Russian women]
"There's not one secret potion to how we're doing so well. If you look at all the girls, basically all of them are developing their games in different parts of the world. Some are in Russia, some in Spain, some in the States. It's not like they're bundled up and go to Siberia, and hide away from everyone and train. Everyone does their own thing in their own different ways, and it works."

---------------------------
4. Hantuchová v Loit report
---------------------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Emilie Loit, 4-6 6-3 6-4

A tougher match this time, but every win is a bonus because we didn't even know if Daniela was going to play here, so I'm not putting any pressure on her to win.

Beefy: "I just watched Daniela's match and she looked good for most of it. She did seem to struggle with her positioning of the ball, mainly with the line and length, either puting it wide of the perfect line or too long on length, but she did pull off some amazing shots. Her serve was pretty good today, not that much pace, but she was able to get the line right there, either right on the 'T' or getting it right on the doubles line and landing it short, making it hard to return. She was looking good returning serve for most of the times, but was not able to deal with the spin that well at first, but she did pick things up later. Hopefully she'll be playing a bit better in two days time. Good to see she didn't let her emotions take control of her"


First set
---------

Loit serving 3-2: Daniela broke back.
Daniela serving 3-3: held after one deuce.
Loit serving 3-4: held to 15.
Daniela serving 4-4: broken to 30.
Loit serving 5-4: held to love. Loit won the first set 6-4.


Second set
----------
HANT *@*__@* * 6
LOIT ___*@__*_ 3

Daniela serving 0-0: held to 15.
Loit serving 0-1: broken to 30.
Daniela serving 2-0: held to 30.
Loit serving 0-3: held to 30.
Daniela serving 3-1: broken to 30.
Loit serving 2-3: broken to love.
Daniela serving 4-2: held to 30.
Loit serving 2-5: held to 15.
Daniela serving 5-3: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, Daniela won the second set 6-3.


Third set
---------
HANT @ @* *__@* 6
LOIT _@__* *@__ 4

Loit serving 0-0: broken to 15.
Daniela serving 1-0: broken after 7 deuces - after saving 3 break-points (15/40 + ad) and squandering 5 game-points.
Loit serving 1-1: broken to 30.
Daniela serving 2-1: held to 30.
Loit serving 1-3: recovered from 0/40, then saved 4 more break-points, and held after 7 deuces.
Daniela serving 3-2: held after one deuce.
Loit serving 2-4: held after 3 deuces.
Daniela serving 4-3: saved 30/40, but broken after 1 deuce.
Loit serving 4-4: had 40/30, but broken after 1 deuce.

Daniela serving 5-4:
{0/0} Loit forehand winner.
{0/15} Service-winner.
{15/15} A good wide serve forced a short return, but Daniela sprayed a forehand wide.
{15/30} Loit forehand just long. "C'mon," said Daniela.
{30/30} Loit netted a sliced backhand.
{40/30: MP #1} Daniela played a great spreading rally, ending with an off-forehand that forced Loit to earth a backhand lob. Daniela won 4-6 6-3 6-4, and there was a big smile on her face.


Third-round preview
-------------------

Daniela plays Ashley Harkleroad, who leads their head-to-head 2-1. Daniela won 7-5 6-1 en route to the ITF Bronx 2000 title, but Ashley caught Daniela twice during Daniela's 'lean' claycourt-season of 2003: at Charleston, Ashley won 6-2 6-1, and in the second round of the French Open, Ashley outlasted Daniela in a 7-6 4-6 9-7 marathon.

Ashley has reached the third round with two very impressive scorelines:
1r + Yuan,Meng, 6-3 6-0
2r + ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD [17], 6-2 6-2

It's nice to see Ashley doing well, because she is as cute as a button! Apparently she's given up being a grinder, and is now trying to use her "athleticism" to her advantage, whatever that means (a dynamic net-rushing game perhaps?).

----------------------------
5. Zvonarëva v Paszek report
----------------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. Tamira Paszek [Q], 6-1 6-3

With a W:UE ratio of 26:26, Bepa won 14 of 17 points at the net - and why not, when she has the most beautiful punch-volleys of anyone in my fanship?

First set: Bepa 5-0*, *5-1, 6-1.
Second set: Bepa 2-0*, *2-1... 3-3*, 6-3.

Some call the game at 3-3 "the vital seventh", and so it proved in the second set here, as Paszek dropped serve from 40/0 up!

Simon Meadows (who saw the match): "Yes having a 2-0 lead in the second and giving it up was a little frustrating but she certainly didn't let it get to her. What I did like was the way in both matches when it happened, she just forgot about it and got on with the match. I think we all know what Vera has been like in the past when something like this has happened, so for me, this is a big positive."


Third-round preview
-------------------

I stand by what I said in my tournament-preview about this match-up with Ana Ivanovic.

What has surprised me, however, is that Ana brushed aside the dangerous Vania King 6-2 6-0, then struggled quite a bit to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-2.

Bepa has nothing to lose in this match, as Ana is the higher seed. Whoever wins this one, her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova will be a fascinating showdown!

---------------------------------
6. Chakvetadze v Granville report
---------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Laura Granville, 6-2 5-7 6-1

First set: Anna 2-0*, 3-1*, *4-1, 6-2.

Second set: Anna 3-1*, 4-2 (40/15)*, *4-3, 4-4*, *5-4, 5-5*, *5-6, 5-7.
Anna squandered two break-points for *5-2 with Granville serving at 2-4 (15/40).

Third set: Anna 4-0*, 6-1.

Anna had a W:UE ratio of 29:36, which is a vast improvement on her 11:41 of the first round, which was played in extreme heat.

Anna's comments about her first-round match:
http://www.theannachakvetadze.com/ (Diary)


Third-round preview
-------------------

I had been worrying about Anna having to play Samantha Stosur - the last player she lost to - in front of an Australian crowd, but Stosur lost 6-4 2-6 6-2 to newlywed Jelena Kostanic Tošic.

I saw Stosur v Kostanic on BBCi from 4-1 in the third. Stosur played very poorly. Kostanic played quite well, and has replaced her sliced backhand with a proper two-handed backhand, which the commentators admitted had "really transformed her game".

But Kostanic looked like she might choke at any moment, so I would doubt her ability to close out a match against such a gritty, determined competitor as Anna - not that Anna should find herself in such a hole in the first place (she won their only previous meeting 6-4 6-3 at San Diego 2006).

-------------------
7. Third-round draw
-------------------
7.1 Top half (to be played on Saturday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v TATHIANA GARBIN [30] (DAVAI MARIA!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] (both nice; my loyalty is to Vera)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Alicia Molik [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8] (go Alicia!)

* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (davai Alyona!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad (both nice; my loyalty is to Daniela)
* DINARA SAFINA [9] v LI,NA [19]
* Aiko Nakamura [s] v MARTINA HINGIS [6] (ganbatte Aiko!)


7.2 Bottom half (to be played on Friday)
---------------

* NADIA PETROVA [5] v Serena Williams
* Victoria Azarenka v JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] v SHAHAR PEER [16] (both nice; my loyalty is to Tatiana)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (davai Maria!)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] v Maria Elena Camerin (my loyalty is to Maria Elena)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21] (POJDME NICOLE!)
* Lucie Šafárová v Anastasiya Yakimova (pojdme Lucie!)
* Eva Birnerová v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (pojdme Eva!)

------------------
8. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 4)
------------------
8.1 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Alicia Molik [WC]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Aiko Nakamura [s] d. LI,NA [19]

+ JELENA JANKOVIC [11] d. NADIA PETROVA [5]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Eva Birnerová


8.2 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Aiko Nakamura [s]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


8.3 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF]


8.4 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------
9. Women's Doubles
------------------
9.1 First round (Thursday 18th January)
---------------

+ (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8]
d. Varvara Lepchenko/Olga Poutchkova, 6-1 7-5

+ (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6]
d. Tatiana Golovin [DF]/Alicia Molik, 6-4 6-1

+ (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12]
d. Laura Granville/Carly Gullickson, 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7/2)

- Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Emma Laine lt. Bethanie Mattek/Shenay Perry,
6-7 (6/8) 2-6

- Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Mara Santangelo
lt. (DINARA SAFINA/KATARINA SREBOTNIK)[5], 2-6 0-6

It's just as well that Anna's doubles-match was short (just 49 minutes), and that there won't be any more. She'd played three sets of singles earlier in the day, so now she has more time to recover for her third-round singles-match.


9.2 Second-round draw (Andrew's selections)
---------------------

* (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8]
v Vania King/Jelena Kostanic Tošic

* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6]
v Michaëlla Krajícek/Ágnes Szávay

* (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12]
V Jarmila Gajdošová/Bryanne Stewart

* (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14]
v Tsvetana Pironkova/Martina Suchá

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

----------------------------
10. Order of Play for Friday
----------------------------

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WD 2r: Sun,Shengnan/Sun,Tiantian v Elena Bovina/Alla Kudryavtseva
WS 3r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21]
MS 3r: RADEK ŠTEPÁNEK [20] v DAVID FERRER [16]
MD 2r: Ruben Ramírez Hidalgo/Sergio Roitman v (JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI)[2]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 19th, 2007, 08:23 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Third-round results: Bottom half
3. Vaidišová v Srebotnik report
4. Third-round draw: Top half
5. Fourth-round draw: Bottom half
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Women's Doubles
8. Order of Play for Saturday

---------
1. Photos
---------

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=62
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqg92.html

Tatiana Golovin and Shahar Peer:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=golovin
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq954.html (just Shahar)

Maria Kirilenko:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=kirilenko
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6277443.stm (6/14)

Sania Mirza (click "Sania Mirza photo gallery"):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/

Alyona and Kateryna Bondarenko:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtab608.html

Nicole Vaidišová, Tatiana Golovin, Maria Kirilenko, Shahar Peer:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html

Maria Elena Camerin and Elena Dementieva:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=camerin
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtad289.html (Dementieva only)

Lucie Šafárová (lots of bare-midriff shots :drool:):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=safarova

Search Getty Images for:
"vaidisova"
"golovin" or "peer"
"kirilenko"
"camerin" or "dementieva"
"safarova"

-----------------------------------
2. Third-round results: Bottom half (Friday 19th January)
-----------------------------------

Nice winners, nice losers:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21], 6-4 6-4
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [20,DF], 3-6 7-5 7-5
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] d. Maria Elena Camerin, 6-1 6-3
(but I prefer Tatiana and Maria Elena)

The right player won:
+ JELENA JANKOVIC [11] d. Victoria Azarenka, 6-3 6-4

Nice winner, shame about the way:
+ Lucie Šafárová d. Anastasiya Yakimova, 6-3 retired (lower back strain)

Not nice:
- MARIA KIRILENKO [26,DF] lt. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3], 1-6 4-6
- Eva Birnerová lt. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2], 3-6 1-6

CEEFAX describes Little Maria's performance as "spirited opposition", Teletext as "a stern challenge". But I think the Reuters headline says it all: "Kuznetsova outmuscles Kirilenko".

The big upset:
- NADIA PETROVA [5] lt. Serena Williams, 6-1 5-7 3-6

Petrova was 6-1 5-3* up!
Serena hadn't beaten a top-10 player since the Australian Open 2005!

-------------------------------
3. Vaidišová v Srebotnik report
-------------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [21], 6-4 6-4

It was a pretty spectacular performance from Nicole in statistical terms, with 12 aces and a W:UE ratio of 34:21! She won 89% of the points when she got her first serve in, and did very well at the net, where she won 13 of 14 points.

Nicole has now hit 36 aces in the tournament - more than any other woman. She only has the joint-12th fastest serve, but it's the regularity with which she hits lines and corners that makes it the best serve in women's tennis IMO.

This match was originally scheduled for Show-Court 2, but was actually played on Court 6 after a rain-delay, starting at 17:05 AEST. I caught up with live scores from:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=281506&page=122 (to 141)


First set
---------
VAIDIŠOVÁ _* *@*__@* 6
SREBOTNIK * *___*@__ 4

Nicole serving 0-1: held after saving a break-point.
Kata serving 1-1: held after recovering from 0/30.

Kata serving 2-2: broken to love.

Kata serving 2-4: 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad N (BP #2), Deuce #2, held.
Nicole serving 4-3: It's never easy to serve after squandering break-points in the previous game. Kata broke back.
Kata serving 4-4: broken.
Nicole serving 5-4: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad N (SP #1), Nicole won the first set 6-4 at 17:39 (34 minutes).

Nicole does have a champion's response to big points against her!


Second set
----------
VAIDIŠOVÁ @* * * * * 6
SREBOTNIK __* * * *_ 4

Nicole serving 4-3: held to love.
Kata serving 3-5: recovered from 15/30 to hold
Nicole serving 5-4: She won 6-4 6-4 at 18:12 (second set 33 minutes, match 1h07m).


Nicole quotes
-------------

{before the match}

"I didn't play with Katarina official match, but I know her from training, so I know what I can expect from her.

"She has very good serve, and she often play in the net, so I must force her to run. But I don't much think about tactic change; I will trust for my solid performance."


{after the match}

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I think we got all the delays we could possibly have. We had the rain, we had the heat. Just waiting for a tornado to come or something!"

"Of course I'm glad with this result, but I should advance always to 4th round with my ambitions. Only if I will win in 4th round, it will be success for me.

"It will be more playable - I played well last year, but I didn't have chance against Mauresmo, who played really fantastic tennis. Dementieva is in top ten too - I played against her not long ago [Hong Kong exhibition], and I trust against her.

"Beyond it was my first match in new season, I hadn't played many matches before - I can't play my best - while I'm better and better in every match in Melbourne, and I'm a more experienced player since last Australian Open. Dementieva has a really uneasy serve with rotation, but her weakness is her serve.

"It's nice that I serve really well, and in unfavourable moments as today in first set, it's important. Only thing which wasn't certain - and I afraid of it - was weather. When I served at score 5-4 in second set, it started gently raining, and I prayed for they don't interrupt match."


Nicole quotes from second round
-------------------------------

"I had full control of this match from beginning to the end; nothing couldn complicate my win. It was easy win, but I'm never fully glad with my performance.

"It was really long: after my noon training, I went to this area again at 4pm, and I had to wait for long time. Ancic played his match for a long time, and then it rained, and I wasn't certain when we will play our match.

"It had to be horrible - playing in this big heat, it was really extreme. I went to training at 5pm yesterday, kept up only for 30 minutes.

"The hottest weather on Florida is before US Open, which is good preparation. In period in which is the hottest weather I'm not on Florida, so yesterday in Melbourne was really uncomfortable experience."


Fourth-round preview
--------------------

I stand by what I said in my tournament-preview. Dementieva has reached the fourth round with the following results:

ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]:
1r + Stéphanie Foretz, 6-1 6-2
2r + Martina Müller, 7-5 3-6 6-0
3r + Maria Elena Camerin, 6-1 6-3

Nicole has to really focus on her service-games, and serve as well as she did against Srebotnik, because Dementieva has been the most prolific breaker of the tournament so far (as she /has/ to be, to hold down a top-ten ranking with that serve!).

-----------------------------
4. Third-round draw: Top half (to be played on Saturday)
-----------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v TATHIANA GARBIN [30] (DAVAI MARIA!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF] (both nice; my loyalty is to Vera)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic (DAVAI ANNA!)
* Alicia Molik [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8] (go Alicia!)

* ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (davai Alyona!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad (both nice; my loyalty is to Daniela)
* DINARA SAFINA [9] v LI,NA [19]
* Aiko Nakamura [S] v MARTINA HINGIS [6] (ganbatte Aiko!)

---------------------------------
5. Fourth-round draw: Bottom half (to be played on Sunday)
---------------------------------

* JELENA JANKOVIC [11] v Serena Williams (ajde Jelena!)
* SHAHAR PEER [16] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (kadima Shahar!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] (POJDME NICOLE!)
* Lucie Šafárová v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (pojdme Lucie!)

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 5)
------------------
6.1 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Alicia Molik [WC]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [29]
+ Aiko Nakamura [S] d. LI,NA [19]

+ JELENA JANKOVIC [11] d. Serena Williams
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
+ Lucie Šafárová d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2]


6.2 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Aiko Nakamura [S]
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


6.3 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]


6.4 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------
7. Women's Doubles
------------------
7.1 Second round (Friday 19th January)
----------------

+ (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8]
d. Vania King/Jelena Kostanic Tošic, 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-0

+ (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6]
d. Michaëlla Krajícek/Ágnes Szávay, 6-3 6-2

+ (SANIA MIRZA [DF]/ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES)[10]
d. Ekaterina Bychkova/Martina Müller, 6-3 6-4


7.2 Second-round matches to be played on Saturday
-------------------------------------------------

* (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12]
v Jarmila Gajdošová/Bryanne Stewart

* (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14]
v Tsvetana Pironkova/Martina Suchá

* Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina
v Martina Hingis/Svetlana Kuznetsova

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/


7.3 Third-round draw (Andrew's selections)
--------------------

* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6]
v (SANIA MIRZA [DF]/ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES)[10]

* (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8]
v Sun,Shengnan/Sun,Tiantian

Daniela has a Career Grand Slam of Mixed Doubles titles, and she's now helping Sugiyama to achieve the same in Women's Doubles.

-----------------------------
8. Order of Play for Saturday
-----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v TATHIANA GARBIN [30]
WS 3r: Aiko Nakamura [S] v MARTINA HINGIS [6]
MS 3r: STANISLAS WAWRINKA [31] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 3r: Alicia Molik [WC] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
MS 3r: LLEYTON HEWITT [19] v FERNANDO GONZALEZ [10]

As in the first round, Maria has to play in the heat of the day, with the roof open all the way. I believe more extreme heat is forecast for Saturday, which may favour the Italian if Mestre is anything like Brindisi!

Once again, I'm disappointed that (a) Maria has yet to play on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session this year, and (b) BBCi aren't going to televise it anyway, because Andy Murray is playing at 08:30 GMT! :-||

Margaret Court Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: Florian Mayer v TOMMY HAAS [12]
WS 3r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad
WS 3r: VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] v ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF]
MS 3r: ANDY MURRAY [15] v Juan Ignacio Chela

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: DINARA SAFINA [9] v LI,NA [19]
WS 3r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic
MD 2r: (MARK KNOWLES/DANIEL NESTOR)[3] v Amer Delic/Mardy Fish
WD 2r: Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina v Martina Hingis/Svetlana Kuznetsova
XD 1r: (MARTIN DAMM/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY)[8] v Daniel Nestor/Elena Likhovtseva

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 20th, 2007, 10:41 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & video
2. Third-round results: Top half
3. Sharapova v Garbin report
4. Zvonarëva v Ivanovic report
5. Fourth-round draw
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Girls' Singles
8. Order of Play for Sunday
9. UK TV-alert

------------------
1. Photos & videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=530 (to 531)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Vera Zvonarëva:
http://zvonareva.com/ausopen2007/
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=9841940
http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=9852122

Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonarëva:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6281513.stm

Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonarëva and Ana Ivanovic:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/
(click "Day Six highlights photo gallery")

Vera Zvonarëva and Ana Ivanovic:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva

Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonarëva, Nicole Vaidišová, Lucie Šafárová, Shahar Peer, Elena Dementieva, Martina Hingis:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r3

Vera Zvonarëva, Ana Ivanovic, Aiko Nakamura, Alicia Molik:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Third round - day 2)

Alyona Bondarenko - nice dress, shame about the wasps:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=bondarenko

Aiko Nakamura and Martina Hingis:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=nakamura

Alicia Molik:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=molik

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova"
"zvonareva" or "ivanovic"
"bondarenko"
"nakamura" or "hingis"
"molik"


1.2 Videos
----------

Sharapova v Garbin highlights (low quality, 32 seconds):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMqsx1w9on0

Vera Zvonarëva and Ana Ivanovic (no, I haven't watched these):
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6V23GUFC
or
http://www.megaupload.com/fr/?d=8610EWYY

--------------------------------
2. Third-round results: Top half (Saturday 20th January)
--------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser, awesome scoreline!
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF], 6-1 6-2

What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30], 6-3 6-1

What sucked:
- ALYONA BONDARENKO [29] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 3-6 3-6
- Aiko Nakamura [S] lt. MARTINA HINGIS [6], 2-6 1-6
- Alicia Molik [WC] lt. PATTY SCHNYDER [8], 6-3 2-6 0-6

Third-round matches to be played on Sunday:
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad (both nice; my loyalty is to Daniela)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic (DAVAI ANNA!)
* DINARA SAFINA [9] v LI,NA [19]

----------------------------
3. Sharapova v Garbin report
----------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. TATHIANA GARBIN [30], 6-3 6-1

I don't really know Garbin; www.wtatour.com describe her as having a "unique mix of spins and slices".

Reuters describe Maria's performance as a "ragged display"; there were six breaks of serve in the first set - two against Maria!

However, Ashley Browne (www.australianopen.com) is far more positive, describing Maria's win as "effortless" - "Sharapova was far too powerful from the back of the court against Garbin".

Maria had a positive W:UE ratio of 24:22, while Garbin's was a woeful 5:18. But Maria only got 52% of first serves in, winning 78% of the points when she did so, and 48% on second serve - she'll definitely need to improve those percentages if she's going to win this tournament.

Reuters:
>>>
The Russian top seed was broken twice in the opening set, but hit back four times herself to seal it with a scorching forehand winner down the line.

Playing under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena due to rain, Sharapova switched into a different gear in the second, and moved the hapless Garbin around before clinching victory in 69 minutes.
<<<

Ed Osmond (Reuters):
>>>
With no play possible on the outside courts due to heavy rain, top seed Sharapova was made to work hard by Italian Tathiana Garbin before reaching the last 16 with an unconvincing 6-3 6-1 victory.

Russian Sharapova, who survived a three-hour battle in searing heat in the first round, rarely played her most fluent tennis against the 30th seed, but seemed unconcerned after the 69-minute match.
<<<

The match started on Rod Laver Arena at 11:14 AEST, and I caught up with live scores from:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=281706&page=4 (pp. 4-19)


First set
---------
SHARAP __@*@ @*@ 6
GARBIN *@___@___ 3

[Game-by-game updates for BBC Sport by Caroline Cheese]

Garbin serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.

BBC: "Lovely start for Garbin who flicks a forehand past Sharapova at the net to take the first point. It look like Sharapova fancies a bit of volleying-practice today because she makes a few approaches."

Maria serving 0-1: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs). Ace. 30/40, 40/40, ad Garbin (BP #3), broken.

Well, this was certainly a worrying start if I were following this live!

BBC: "Garbin is happily rallying from the back, waiting for Sharapova to make a mistake, and the Russian is obliging a bit too often at the moment."

Garbin serving 2-0: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40. Return-winner. Ad Maria (BP #2), broken.

Maria, like all great champions, breaks back immediately.

BBC: "Stung into action, Sharapova breaks straight back, hitting two crunching forehands to get back in it. She and dad Yuri punch the air."

So now they're going to accuse Yuri of coaching her to punch the air? ;-)

Maria serving 1-2: held to love.

BBC: "It's raining so the roof's on Rod Laver Arena but such is the humidity that both players have got ice packs to cool down during the changeovers. Meanwhile, Sharapova has abandoned the idea of attacking the net and is back to smacking groundstrokes from the baseline."

Garbin serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 -> 40/40, ad Maria (BP), broken.

Maria is so good at pegging back her opponent's lead in a game and then winning it!

BBC: "Right then, since she's not going to be in this tournament much longer, let's learn a little bit more about Tathiana Garbin before she leaves us. First up, her nickname is Tax although on her fansite they call her Tathy."

Maria serving 3-2: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

Annoying, Maria getting broken twice! :-(

BBC: "What was I saying? This is great stuff from Garbin. A swinging forehand return-winner earns her three break-back points. Sharapova puts a terrible forehand into the bottom of the net and suddenly we're back all square."

Garbin serving 3-3: broken to love.

eck: "Garbin gets aggresive when Maria's serving, and then crawls back to her shell when she serves"

BBC: "Does anyone want to hold serve? Sharapova breaks to love and now the pressure is right back on the Italian - whose best career win was an upset of Justine Henin-Hardenne at the French Open 2004."

Maria serving 4-3: 0/15, 40/15, held.

BBC: "Sharapova may be the number-one player in the world, but she's not above a superstition or two. The Russian has a routine when she serves which involves only taking balls from a certain side. At one point, her favoured ballboy doesn't have any balls to give her, and Sharapova gives him a glare."

Garbin serving 3-5: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (SP #1), Maria won the first set 6-3 at 11:54 AEST (40 minutes).

BBC: "A 12th forehand winner from Sharapova brings up a first set-point. Her 13th completes a surprisingly difficult first set for the top seed."


Second set
----------
SHARAP * *@*@* 6
GARBIN _*_____ 1

Maria serving 0-0: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

BBC: "Sharapova's focus is frightening. She holds serve in the opening game and shouts 'Come on' like she's won Wimbledon. That'll be why she's the world number one..."

Garbin serving 0-1: 30/0, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 1-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

BBC: "A bit of comedy on Rod Laver Arena. First up, Garbin hits a dreadful overhead wide of the tramline then a linesman wakes everyone up with his extremely loud calling. He might quieten down a bit now though, as Sharapova rightly challenges one of his calls."

Garbin serving 1-2: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Maria (BP #2), broken.

BBC: "Sharapova breaks when Garbin nets a forehand and surely the Russian is well on her way now."

Maria serving 3-1: 15/15, 40/15, held.

BBC: "Still completely focused on the job still to be done, Sharapova holds to 30. She has hit 24 winners today - compared to Garbin's five."

Garbin serving 1-4: 0/40 (3 BPs), 15/40, broken.

BBC: "Sharapova's dad Yuri looks to have a relaxed a little bit now - he's clapping enthusiastically now instead of clenching his fist."

Maria serving 5-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15 (2 MPs), Maria won 6-3 6-1 at 12:24 (second set 30 minutes, match 1h10m).

BBC: "It took longer than many expected thanks to a determined effort from Garbin - particularly in the first set - but Sharapova is through to face either fellow Russian Vera Zvonarëva or Ana Ivanovic."


Maria quotes
------------

"I thought it was pretty good. I was a bit slow in the beginning of the match. I was letting her play her game a little too much, but as the match went on, I moved a lot better - I saw short balls a lot quicker and put more pressure on her.

"With every single match, you know it will get tougher, and you know that you have to improve. I don't think I'm anywhere near as good as I can be playing - I hope I can still improve and get better with every match.

"It's not a matter of thinking, 'It's the second week, here we go, you've really got to step it up' - obviously that's normal - but it's about trying to focus on those little things that you think you can still improve."

[Re. rope-swinging through the jungle in Costa Rica]
"It's so fun, so surreal; you're on a different planet when you do those kind of things. I am very adventurous, I am pretty fearless at those things, and I love to get an adrenaline-rush. It's so fun: you see the trees and the waterfalls. There's only so much sitting on the beach you can do."

------------------------------
4. Zvonarëva v Ivanovic report
------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser, awesome scoreline!
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIC [13,DF], 6-1 6-2

www.wtatour.com: "The 51-minute duel was a demolition job from start to finish, as the Russian matched Ivanovic's big groundstrokes but excelled on the defense. It will be Zvonarëva's first Grand Slam second week since 2004, when she achieved the feat three times: at this event, Wimbledon and the US Open."

Sebastian: "In her match against Ivanovic, Vera stayed calm and focused and kept attacking Ana's backhand. She played solid baseline tennis and never let her opponent in the match."
<http://blogs.tennisuniverse.com/zvonareva/News/6522>

>>>
Vicious Vera is Back; Clubs Ivanovic
By Matthew Cronin, Tennis Reporters.net

Ana Ivanovic surely has had worse matches, but never at a Slam. Vera Zvonarëva torched the talented Serb 6-1, 6-2, whose point-construction was about as well thought out as watching a toddler trying to build a tower with watery Play Dough. Ivanovic was incredibly impatient and when former top 10er Zvonarëva is in her "Vicious Vera" zone, that's the wrong way to play.

Zvonarëva is a relentless groundstroker who when confident, hits the ball very deep, plays inside the baseline and take the ball on the rise. She's a B-minus Monica Seles, without the composure, hunger, or return of serve, but with groundstrokes that resemble a thrashing machine. You have to mix it up against Vera Z., and Ivanovic didn't.

"I kept the same pace and didn't give her much to counter," Zvonarëva told Tennis Reporters.net. "You have to fight for every point, use your chances to stay aggressive, serve well, put the pressure on her return. Everything has to go well against the top players. I'm really happy with how I played from the first point to the end."

Zvonarëva is a curious but familiar case: a driven woman who cracked the top 10 as a teenager, and then emotionally fell apart and has yet to return. She's won five career titles, but has never stood out at the Slams, reaching the Round of 16 four times and a quarter-final once. The bright lights of the big courts have never been particularly kind to her, and after she busted into the top 10 as a 18 year-old back in 2004, she slowly slid backward. She was prone to crying in the middle of matches, even when she was ahead. But last year, she began to mature and won two small titles and ended the year ranked No. 24.

"I had it all in one year, my ranking dropped and it went back up again," she said. "I'm a more mature player now. In 2004, I was up and coming and everything was new to me. I know both sides of it: you can get injured and be out, and you can't always go up in the rankings."

She had trouble besting top-tenners (she fell to the likes Sharapova, Clijsters, Dementieva and Petrova, among others), but she certainly has the tools to make a top-15 drive again. At the start of the year, she reached the Auckland final, falling in the third set to Jelena Jankovic.

But taking down a young but fairly notable scalp like Ivanovic should do her well. The key for Zvonarëva is keeping a positive attitude, because she can get very negative.

"I just try to enjoy myself, but I know it's a great opportunity to be on the centre court of a Grand Slam and show your best," the 22nd seed said." That's my main goal. Last year I had some bad draws at the Grand Slams."

Speaking of tough draws, Zvonarëva's next opponent will be top seed Maria Sharapova. They've played six times, with Zvonarëva's taking two early contests and Sharapova winning their last match, at 2006 San Diego. Zvonarëva has shown an ability to grind down Sharapova, but the top seed also knows how to mix up speed and angles and not get coaxed into a flat-out bash-fest.

"She a fighter," said Zvonarëva, who is coached by American Sam Sumyk and trains in both Tampa and Moscow. "No matter what, she fights for every point; she knows what to do and what works for her. She always sticks to what she has to do, and I have to be ready for long match."

In some ways, this type of fourth-round match could be dicer for the rope-swinger Sharapova (see my article on foxsports.com). An in-form Ivanovic has better long-term potential than Zvonarëva (that is, if she can figure out how to change strategies mid-match), but Vera Z. can grind on a hot day, she could land plenty of body blows. But Sharapova is still the pick here.
<<<

This match was originally scheduled fourth on Margaret Court Arena, but was actually played fourth under the roof of Rod Laver Arena as torrential rain wreaked havoc with the order of play - I thought this was the Australian Open, not Wimbledon! ;-)

The match started at 16:33 AEST, and I caught up with live scores from:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=281706&page=49 (pp. 49-19)


First set
---------
ZVONARËV @* *@*@ 6
IVANOVIC __*____ 1

Ana serving 0-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.
Bepa serving 1-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.
Ana serving 0-2: held to love.

Bepa serving 2-1: Double fault. 0/15, 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Ana (BP #2). Serve + backhand winner. Deuce #2, ad Bepa, Deuce #3, ad Bepa. Held with a backhand winner.

Ana serving 1-3: Double fault. 0/15, 0/40 (3 BPs). Ana saved the first with a forehand winner. 15/40. Bepa broke with a forehand return-winner!

Bepa serving 4-1: Ana backhand return-winner. 0/15. Bepa forehand winner. 15/15. Double fault. 15/30, 30/30. Ana forehand "stunner". 30/40 (BP), 40/40. Double fault. Ad Ana (BP #2), Deuce #2. Bepa forehand winner. Ad Bepa, held.

Ana serving 1-5: 0/30. Bepa return-winner down the line. 0/40 (3 SPs), Bepa won the first set 6-1 at 16:56 (23 minutes).

rrfnpump: "she serves pretty awful today, but her baseline game is great"

Derek: "Bepa's really exposing Ana's lack of speed. :o"


Second set
----------
ZVONARËV *@*@__*@ 6
IVANOVIC ____@*__ 2

Bepa serving 0-0: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, held.
Ana serving 0-1: 15/0, 15/15. Ana forehand winner. 30/15. Double fault. 30/30, 40/30, 40/40. Double fault. Ad Bepa (BP), broken.

ezekiel: "she can't serve at all :mad: and has no balance losing all the points and getting demolished by Vera Zvonarëva :mad:"

Bepa serving 2-0: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

Derek:
>>>
The trend of this match is...

Bepa forcing Ana to make an error...
Ana hitting a UE...
Ana hitting a winner...
Ana hitting a UE...
Ana hitting a UE...

:tape:

Bepa is playing so good though! :eek:
<<<

Ana serving 0-3: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP). Broken on a double fault.
Bepa serving 4-0: 15/0, 15/15. Double fault. 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Perhaps a momentary lapse in concentration for Bepa? That's the danger when you're winning too easily.

Ana serving 1-4: Ace. 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30. Ace.
Bepa serving 4-2: held to love.

Dexter: "Bepa's defense is too good."

Ana serving 2-5: 0/15, 30/15, 30/40 (MP #1), Bepa won 6-1 6-2 at 17:23 (second set 27 minutes, match 50 minutes).

Bepa broke 6 times from 7 BPs, while Ana broke just once from 5 BPs. The other statistics aren't really flattering, to be honest: Ana had a disastrous W:UE ratio of 13:26, while Bepa's was a negative 11:12. Ana won only 42% of points on her first serve and 35% on her second.


Ana quotes
----------

"It's not always that you have physical problems when you lose! <laughing>

"It was just a bad day. Everything I tried didn't work. It is very disappointing, but I have to give her credit. She played very good and served really well.

"Many times you learn more from losses than you do wins. I'm still learning how to deal with the pressure and the expectation, and I have many more years ahead of me."

--------------------
5. Fourth-round draw
--------------------
5.1 Top half (to be played on Monday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] (mouthwatering match!)
* (ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic) v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad) v KIM CLIJSTERS [4]
* (DINARA SAFINA [9] v LI,NA [19]) v MARTINA HINGIS [6]


5.2 Bottom half (to be played on Sunday)
---------------

* JELENA JANKOVIC [11] v Serena Williams (ajde Jelena!)
* SHAHAR PEER [16] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] (kadima Shahar!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7] (POJDME NICOLE!)
* Lucie Šafárová v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2] (pojdme Lucie!)


5.3 Preview: Sharapova v Zvonarëva
----------------------------------

This really is the most mouthwatering match-up of flairsome power imaginable; it's got contrast of styles, I expect it to be very competitive (as per their head-to-heads and recent form), and I will be most upset if BBCi uses Andy Murray or anyone else as an excuse not to show it either live or recorded.

If Maria's third-round performance was indeed as unconvincing as Reuters claim, then she'll need to step it up in the fourth round as Vera is a brilliant player who thrashed Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-2, and beat Maria twice in 2004! (Maria leads their head-to-head 3-2.)

Maria's struggle against Camille Pin is too long ago to be relevant on Monday, but Vera has the form and history to give Maria a very good match, perhaps even win!

Maria: "Vera is tough physically, gets a lot of balls back, makes you hit a lot of balls. Just a matter of giving her another ball to hit."

As an Eternal Fan of both Maria and Vera, who do I want to win? My Reason says Maria, because she's the only one of my players I can see beating Clijsters in the semi-finals and going on to win the title. The last thing I want to see is a final between Mingin' Clijsters and Muscular Mauresmo! ;-)

But my Passion says Vera, because it would mean so much for her to reach only her second Grand Slam quarter-final - and very possibly her first semi-final - whereas Maria reaches the semi-finals of every single Grand Slam outside of the French Open.

I've actually written to the BBC begging them to show it! I'm not optimistic that they will, given that their coverage of women's tennis these first six days has been a disgraceful 7%.

Time definitely to put the "vera" back in "coverage"!

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 6)
------------------
6.1 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. KIM CLIJSTERS [4]
+ MARTINA HINGIS [6] d. LI,NA [19]

+ JELENA JANKOVIC [11] d. Serena Williams
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
+ Lucie Šafárová d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2]


6.2 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. JELENA JANKOVIC [11]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafárová


6.3 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]


6.4 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

-----------------
7. Girls' Singles
-----------------
7.1 First-round draw (Andrew's selections)
--------------------

* ALIZÉ CORNET [6] v Naomi Cavaday (allez Alizé!)

* Ksenia Lykina v Andreea Vaideanu (davai Ksenia!)

* AYUMI MORITA [4,S] v Chan,Wing-Yau Venise

* KRISTÍNA KUCOVÁ [15] v Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (podme Kristína!)

* Jade Curtis v Nadiya Kichenok (go Jade!)

I sure miss having Magdaléna Rybáriková or Dominika Cibulková in the junior-draw. Domi hasn't played any junior-tennis since September 2006.

Magda said goodbye to junior-tennis at Wimbledon 2006 (where she reached the final), although with the ground she's lost after her foot-injury last summer - she can barely win a qualifying-match on the ITF Women's Circuit now - I wonder if she wouldn't be better off going back to juniors.

---------------------------
8. Order of Play for Sunday
---------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: Florian Mayer v TOMMY HAAS [12]
WS 4r: SHAHAR PEER [16] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3]
WS 4r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7]
MS 4r: RICHARD GASQUET [18] v TOMMY ROBREDO [7]

Show-Court 3 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v Ashley Harkleroad
MD 2r: (BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN)[1] v Jan Hernych/Vincent Spadea
WD 2r: Peng,Shuai [S]/Li,Na v Francesca Schiavone/Patty Schnyder
WD 2r: Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina v Martina Hingis/Svetlana Kuznetsova

Court 6 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v Jelena Kostanic Tošic
WD 3r: (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8] v Sun,Shengnan/Sun,Tiantian
Legends' Doubles: Mats Wilander/Richard Fromberg v Kim Warwick/Geoff Masters
XD 1r: Vera Zvonarëva [EF]/Andy Ram v Casey Dell'Acqua/Chris Guccione
WD 2r: (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14] v Tsvetana Pironkova/Martina Suchá

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--------------
9. UK TV-alert
--------------

In additional to the usual BBCi coverage at 08:30 GMT every day, there will be some tennis in Sunday Grandstand (BBC2, 13:30 to 17:20). This tennis is provisionally scheduled for 13:35 to 14:15.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 21st, 2007, 10:56 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & video
2. Third-round results: Top half
3. Fourth-round results: Bottom half
4. Maria Sharapova to become #1
5. Hantuchová v Harkleroad 3r report
6. Chakvetadze v Kostanić Tošić 3r report
7. Vaidišová v Dementieva 4r report
8. Šafářová v Mauresmo 4r report
9. Fourth-round draw: Top half
10. Quarter-final draw: Bottom half
11. Andrew's wishes
12. Women's Doubles
13. Mixed Doubles
14. Girls' Singles
15. Order of Play for Monday

-----------------
1. Photos & video
-----------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Anna Chakvetadze - ultracute and a little bit sexy:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=236270&page=12
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280396&page=2
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq416.html
(it wasn't a junior-match! :o)

Nicole Vaidišová and Elena Dementieva:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=63 (pp. 63-65)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6283655.stm (10/13)

Daniela Hantuchová and Ashley Harkleroad:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtah418.html (Ashley)
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Third round - day 3)

Daniela is usually more photogenic than Ashley, but Ashley today was as cute as a button. ;-)

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278875&page=6 (pp. 6-8)
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278892&page=3 (off-court)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtah394.html

Maria Sharapova photo-gallery:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/

Anna Chakvetadze and Daniela Hantuchová added:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r3

Nicole Vaidišová, Lucie Šafářová, Shahar Pe'er:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r4

Lucie Šafářová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=safarova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq348.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6283801.stm
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Fourth round - day 1)

Shahar Pe'er - nice curves:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=peer
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq954.html

Search Getty Images for:
"vaidisova" or "dementieva"
"hantuchova" or "harkleroad"
"chakvetadze"
"safarova" (including lovely off-court photos with Tomáš Berdych)
"peer"


1.2 Video
---------

Šafářová v Mauresmo - a few points & Lucie-interviews:
http://preview.tinyurl.com/2kvbhv
http://preview.tinyurl.com/2p4y4c

Ashley Harkleroad in 60 seconds:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/multimedia/

--------------------------------
2. Third-round results: Top half (Sunday 21st January)
--------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad, 6-7 (6/8) 7-5 6-3

Very satisfactory results:
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-4
+ LI,NA [19] d. DINARA SAFINA [9], 6-2 6-2

------------------------------------
3. Fourth-round results: Bottom half (Sunday 21st January)
------------------------------------

When I saw today's results - particularly the fourth-round results - I clapped my hands and shouted "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Czechmates, and a guaranteed Czech semi-finalist!
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7], 6-3 6-3
+ Lucie Šafářová d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2], 6-4 6-3

Another beautiful upset:
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3], 6-4 6-2

Can't have it /all/ my own way!
- JELENA JANKOVIĆ [11] lt. Serena Williams, 3-6 2-6

It's ironic. At the start of the tournament, a lot of people were talking about Janković as a dark horse for the very title, and not seeming to believe that Williams could win it again. It just goes to show that you can never rule Williams out, though I'd be surprised if she won this title again in her current shape.

Williams: "I like being a dangerous floatie."

Where I'm from, "floatie" means something very different! ;-)

-------------------------------
4. Maria Sharapova to become #1
-------------------------------

And as if I needed any more good news, the losses of Mauresmo and Kuznetsova have guaranteed that Maria Sharapova will reclaim the #1 ranking on 29th January! :-)

Reaching the fourth round was enough for Maria to overtake Henin, who will have 3311 points after the Australian Open. If Maria loses in the fourth round, she will have 3358.

Mauresmo needed to win the title with Maria losing before the final. Kuznetsova needed to win the title with Maria losing before the quarter-finals.

Maria was #1 for seven weeks in 2005 - the least time ever for any player ever to top the WTA rankings. She needs to stay #1 for four weeks to equal Venus Williams's reign of 11.

Weeks at #1:
1. Steffi Graf* (377)
2. Martina Navrátilová (331)
3. Chris Evert (262)
4. Martina Hingis (209)
5. Monica Seles* (178)
6. Lindsay Davenport (98)
7. Serena Williams (57)
8. Justine Henin-Hardenne (week of 22nd January will be her 56th)
9. Amélie Mauresmo (39)
10. Tracy Austin (22)
11. Kim Clijsters (19)
12. Jennifer Capriati (17)
13. Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (12)
14. Venus Williams (11)
15. Maria Sharapova (7)

* Günther Parche stabbed Monica Seles so that Graf could regain the #1 ranking, and they just let her! :fiery:

------------------------------------
5. Hantuchová v Harkleroad 3r report
------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. Ashley Harkleroad, 6-7 (6/8) 7-5 6-3

Ashley was 7-6 5-2 up, and 3-1 in the third!!

Daniela hit 40 winners, and Ashley hit 31 herself - so she is indeed more than a grinder now! :-)

The match lasted 3h07m, which is bad news when Daniela has to face Kim Clijsters without a day off. :-(

Rohan Sullivan, Associated Press Writer:
>>>
HARD ROAD: Ashley Harkleroad was a set ahead and 4-0 in the second when Daniela Hantuchová threw caution to the wind.

"She just started slapping it," said Harkleroad. "She was just reeling off shots one after the other, like she didn't really care, and they were all going in!"

Harkleroad, unseeded here, said she lost her rhythm when Hantuchová began landing winners from all over the court - and blew a chance for her first fourth-round appearance in a Grand Slam.

"I got a little bit tight, and that's it. I should have won that match, period."

Hantuchová, who beat defending champion Serena Williams in the third round of the Australian Open last year, said she recovered by focusing on each point.

"I was just waiting for my game to come, and it did."
<<<

>>>
Daniela's stunning comeback
by Luke Buttigieg
Sunday, 21 January, 2007

Slovakian No.15 seed Daniela Hantuchová has staged a brilliant fightback to book her place in the fourth round at Australian Open 2007, rallying from a set and two breaks down to beat unseeded American Ashley Harkleroad.

Hantuchová looked set to join Yuan,Meng of China and German No.17 seed Anna-Lena Grönefeld in bowing out to Harkleroad in straight sets, but the 23-year-old recovered superbly to ease to a 6-7(6) 7-5 6-3 win in 167 minutes.

Bidding to return to the world's top 50 after finishing the 2006 season at No.86, Harkleroad looked well on the way to a fourth-round meeting with Belgian No.4 seed Kim Clijsters when she was 4-0 up in the second set.

But Hantuchová, whose best previous finish at the year's opening Grand Slam was a quarter-final appearance in 2003, lifted a gear, taking the second set with a break in the 12th game, and it was suddenly Harkleroad on the back foot.

And after reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon - as well as the round of 64 at the US Open - in 2006, Hantuchová went on to eventually prevail.

Hantuchová will need to produce a consistent display to get past Clijsters though, having never beaten the 2004 Australian Open finalist in their eight career meetings. In fact, Hantuchová has only taken a set off Clijsters once, in the 2002 Filderstadt final.
<<<

More Daniela quotes
-------------------

"I just tried to take it one point at a time, tried to figure out how to get back into the match, tried to stay positive. I'm glad to beat her this time. I'm really pleased about the way I just kept fighting for every point."


Fourth-round preview
--------------------

I must admit that I'm not looking forward to Daniela playing Kim Clijsters at all. Daniela trails their head-to-head 0-8, and Clijsters has been routining all her opponents here.

Daniela goes into this match the day after a three-hour marathon - just as she did at the French Open - while Clijsters had Sunday off. Daniela plays much better after a day off - which may be a reason she has fewer poor matches in Grand Slams than on the WTA Tour - and unfortunately the compressed schedule has denied her this advantage here.

Frankly put, their fourth-round match at the French Open 2006 was embarrassing for me to watch, knowing that it was being broadcast to a wider audience than usual for Daniela - an audience that wouldn't have understood that Daniela was tired, because no one told them so (at least the BBC-commentators didn't say so - all they could say was that Daniela would never reach the top five again, because she just couldn't perform in big matches against such players).

Daniela approaches this match with a much more positive attitude than I do - she's not like, "Kim's a great champion and I'm just excited to play her" this time! ;-)

"Definitely I'm looking forward to that match. I mean, I got through some difficult matches already so I've got nothing to lose. That one is going to be a nice one for me to play. Definitely I'm just going to enjoy it.

"Yeah, just again try to figure out things on the court, how to get the points against her. She moves great. She doesn't have any weaknesses in her game. It's going to be a tough match definitely, but I'm really looking forward to it.

"I mean, she definitely gets probably the most balls back out of all the players. Yeah, you just have to try to see some gaps that she perhaps can't get into, maybe go for a little more difficult shots than I would usually do. But at the same time trying to be patient, not to go for too many winners.

"Yeah, against her I know I have to play my best to beat her, that's for sure. Every match I go into, I believe I can win, otherwise what's the point of going on the court? I feel like if I'm playing my best, I can play against anyone."

Whatever happens against Clijsters, Daniela can be proud of reaching the fourth round here, after her very participation had looked in doubt due to a viral infection!

-----------------------------------------
6. Chakvetadze v Kostanić Tošić 3r report
-----------------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-4

Kostanić was the more aggressive player, with a W:UE ratio of 20:37 to Anna's 19:21.

>>>
Chakvetadze powers on
by Bren O'Brien
Sunday, 21 January, 2007

No.12 women's seed Anna Chakvetadze has continued her strong progress through the early rounds of the Australian Open 2007, winning her delayed third-round match against Jelena Kostanić Tošić in straight sets.

Chakvetadze, who won the Moorilla Hobart International in the lead-up to this tournament, has now dropped just one set in her opening three encounters, and will play Swiss No.8 seed Patty Schnyder in the fourth round on Day Eight after her 6-4 6-4 win.

Kostanić Tošić had herself to blame for losing the first set after squandering no fewer than 10 break-point opportunities. Chakvetadze won just eight points on the Croatian's serve for the set, but got them when they mattered, converting her only break-point chance and wrapping up the set in 42 minutes.

Kostanić Tošić finally got the break she was looking for in the second set, but Chakvetadze broke her twice, dominating the Croatian's serve for much of the set. She wrapped up the match in an hour and 19 minutes for her second appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament.
<<<

Jon Wertheim's pretournament-quote about Anna:
"Little-known Russian has been playing top-five tennis since the fall. Looked sharp in tune-ups to boot. A player to watch."
<Source: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yp2y4f>

Anna's diary has been updated with several entries:
http://www.theannachakvetadze.com/

She's very funny, too! :-)

-----------------------------------
7. Vaidišová v Dementieva 4r report
-----------------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [7], 6-3 6-3

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
Seventh seed Dementieva's fragile serve was once again exposed during a 6-3 6-3 defeat by Czech Nicole Vaidišová, who at 10th is now the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw.
<<<

www.wtatour.com:
>>>
Solid aggressive play was Vaidišová's key to success; she took the dictating role for a majority of the points, hitting 27 winners to 26 errors while Dementieva had eight winners to 16 errors. The Czech teenager's win sent her into her second major quarter-final - she was a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year.
<<<

Nicole quotes
-------------

"I can be definitely happy the way I played. I've been improving match by match. I feel good. I don't think I'm surpassing my expectations, because I knew I was playing well. I had a good off-season, also a good run in Sydney. Just very happy I won today, and very excited about my next match."


How far can Nicole go here?
---------------------------

Not to put any pressure on Nicole, but she /is/ seeded to reach the final now! :-) But even if she 'Czechmates' Lucie Šafářová, she still has unseeded former champion Serena Williams lurking like a pawn on the seventh rank...

--------------------------------
8. Šafářová v Mauresmo 4r report
--------------------------------

+ Lucie Šafářová d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [2], 6-4 6-3

This is a real breakthrough for 19-year-old Lucie, who had only won one match in six previous Grand Slams - she had to wait for the US Open 2006 to reach her first Grand Slam second round, and now she's in her first Grand Slam quarter-final!

Lucie has won three WTA singles-titles: Estoril 2005, Forest Hills 2005 and Gold Coast 2006 - her only previous top-ten scalp coming as she defeated #7 Patty Schnyder en route to that Gold Coast title.

Although I've never seen Lucie play - not even today, thanks to the BBC's disgraceful lack of women's tennis - her victory is a large part of my happiness today (I also had three wins for my Eternal Fanship, and the promise of BBCi showing Maria Sharapova v Vera Zvonarëva tomorrow!).

I must admit that Schadenfreude for Mauresmo comes into it as well. It was an unceremonious end to her first experience of defending a Grand Slam, and she hadn't lost to a player ranked lower than Lucie's #70 since s'Hertogenbosch 2003!

Lucie hit 22 winners, Mauresmo just 14.


www.australianopen.com: "Shy teenager Lucie Šafářová entered the cauldron of Rod Laver Arena with minimal Grand Slam pedigree and seemingly little hope, but on departure, she left [as] a hero and with a rediscovered self-belief after stunning Amélie Mauresmo."

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
A shell-shocked Amélie Mauresmo had the Australian Open trophy ripped from her grasp on Sunday by a teenage upstart who had won only one Grand Slam match before arriving at Melbourne Park.

Lucie Šafářová played the match of her life to shatter Mauresmo's title hopes in the fourth round with a 6-4 6-3 win.

As the 19-year-old Czech sealed the defending champion's fate in the 89th minute, and held her arms aloft to lap up the applause from the hollering fans, a forlorn Mauresmo was left to digest her worst showing in Australia since losing in the fourth round in 2001.


For a woman who had never before experienced the imposing surroundings of the Rod Laver Arena, Šafářová initially seemed overawed by the occasion and predictably fell 4-1 behind to Mauresmo.

With the first set within her grasp, the second seed imploded and lost seven successive games as the left-handed Šafářová sprayed a non-stop flow of winners from the baseline.

The Frenchwoman had said before the start of the tournament, "I hope I'll be Superwoman in the next two weeks." On Sunday she could have done with some super powers as she simply could not find an answer to Šafářová's blistering strokes. The second set was almost a mirror image of the first, except it was Šafářová who had galloped to a 4-1 lead as Mauresmo struggled to stem the flow of errors flying off her racket.

Although Mauresmo claimed back one of the breaks, it was not enough to deny Šafářová victory as she surrendered her maiden Grand Slam title with a netted error.
<<<

BBC Sport:
>>>
"Mauresmo came into the match in poor form, but she was not expected to be troubled by the 19-year-old Czech, and duly opened up a 4-1 lead.

But Šafářová responded, stepping up to hit some crunching winners as she reeled off seven straight games.
<<<

Miles Evans (Reuters):
>>>
The French second seed imploded after taking a 4-1 first-set lead, losing seven straight games before the 19-year-old Šafářová completed victory in 89 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Despite taking the early initiative, Mauresmo looked ill at ease as the left-handed Šafářová sprayed forehands to acute angles, and the Frenchwoman's movements looked laboured as she was worked along the baseline.

Sensing Mauresmo's discomfort, Šafářová pounced.

She broke back to trail 3-4, and again to take a 5-4 advantage before a lame netted volley from the Wimbledon-champion handed the Czech the first set in 45 minutes.

Šafářová extended her streak to seven games in a row to go 2-0 up in the second, before Mauresmo finally stopped the rot by holding serve, but a long forehand from the champion gave the Czech a double break at 4-1.

Mauresmo briefly threatened a revival by breaking back to reduce the deficit to 4-2, but Šafářová held her nerve, winning on her third match-point when a French backhand found the net.
<<<

www.wtatour.com:
>>>
Early on in the round of 16 encounter, Mauresmo certainly looked like a No.2 seed and defending champion; her elegant topspin groundstrokes and court-coverage were flowing well, and she burst out to a 4-1 lead.

But her afternoon took a disastrous turn from that point, as Šafářová began dictating play better with her huge, flat serves and groundstrokes. The 19-year-old Czech reeled off five consecutive games to clinch the first set and never looked back, winning in one hour, 29 minutes.

Mauresmo was not only disappointed with the loss, but with her play. She struck a total of 14 winners to 23 errors, a much worse ratio than that of Šafářová, whose numbers were even (22-22). Another key figure was break-points: Šafářová was given 12 chances to break and grabbed five of those, while Mauresmo was given only two, taking them both.
<<<

John Pye, AP Sports Writer:
>>>
[Mauresmo] looked to be in good shape after an early break. But the left-handed Šafářová, her right thigh heavily taped, quickly reversed roles, and soon was hitting like the favourite.

Mauresmo, her confidence clearly waning, was shouting at herself as her mistakes piled up.
<<<

>>>
Šafářová shocks Mauresmo
by Bren O'Brien
Sunday, 21 January, 2007

In perhaps the greatest upset at the Australian Open 2007, unseeded Czech Lucie Šafářová has sent defending champion and women's No.2 seed Amelie Mauresmo packing with a stunning straight-sets win at Rod Laver Arena.

Šafářová advanced to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time after coming from a break down in the first set to power past the Frenchwoman 6-4 6-3 in 89 minutes.

The first indications that the Czech world No.70 was going to provide more than a regulation challenge for Mauresmo was in the defending champion's first service game when she had two break points.

While Mauresmo was able to hold her serve, and the break for a 4-1 lead, she never looked completely comfortable, and Šafářová rattled off 12 consecutive points to level up and set up a chance to break Mauresmo in the ninth game. That secured the first set and a chance at a spot in the final eight.

Šafářová then broke Mauresmo early in the second, and charged out to a 4-1 lead with a second break. The No.2 seed did get a break back in the sixth game, and had 0/30 on the Czech's next serve, but couldn't convert. A poor service-game gave Šafářová two match-points. She squandered them, but Mauresmo gave her another opening and netted the ball to hand the joyous Czech the match.
<<<

The match-point
---------------

Although the BBC did not deign to televise this match on a day when Roger Federer routined Novak Đoković, I did see the last four strokes of the match in Sunday Grandstand (BBC Two):

* Lucie 6-4 5-3 (ad): Left-handed Lucie attacked a Mauresmo-moonball with a deep backhand down the line, just inside the baseline, forcing Mauresmo to hit a short backhand lob that sat up nicely for Lucie to hit a deep, penetrating crosscourt forehand, again just inside the baseline; Lucie came to the net behind it, forcing Mauresmo to net a backhand pass.

Lucie leapt for joy and raised her arms in triumph, and there was a
look of disbelief on her face right after she shook hands with the
deposed champion.


Lucie quotes
------------

"It's amazing. I still can't believe it. I'm so happy. It's incredible.

"It's my first time on Rod Laver Arena. I came out this morning, I was warming up, and I was saying, 'Wow, this is a big court.' But I felt really comfortable here, and the crowd were great.

"My plan was to concentrate and try to do my best. I didn't want to hurry on the court at first.

"When I was 1-4 down [in the first set], I was thinking I should start to, like, play more power-tennis. I was trying to be more aggressive.

"When I was playing against big player before, I was still like very hurrying too much on the court and doing so many mistakes. So I wanted to be better now.

"I think at the end of the first set and the beginning of the second set, I really believed in myself. So I try to push her, make winners.

"I was trying to like make the points, to push her, because if I was just playing with and don't really hard hit the ball, I knew that she will win the point.

"I knew if the match went longer, it would not be an advantage for me, but for her because she's more experienced. So I tried to concentrate on each point that I could make, to win the match in two sets."

^[Excellent point. Tatiana Golovin had Mauresmo on the ropes at a set and *3-2 up in 2r Sydney, but you kind of expect the top players to turn it around in those situations.]

"I'm excited about it. I'm so happy to win. Still, like one side of me can't believe I did it. It's just great."

[Re. her slump of 2006]
"I was injured after Gold Coast with a leg. Then when I lost here last year, first round, I had problems with my shoulder. It was like really didn't getting better any.

"I had this problem through all the tournaments. It was still paining. Then I didn't play Wimbledon. It was still like up and down. I was still injured, not injured, don't really have a chance to practise and prepare for the tournaments.

"Then I lost the confidence on the court. It wasn't going well, the season, for me. So in the end of the season, I was like really - I wasn't playing for like one month, just rest. Then I started to do exercising, really preparation, conditioning, and tennis as well.

"So I was thinking that really I'm really good prepared for the new season, which gives me a little bit like support to begin it.

"I hurt my leg against [Anabel] Medina [Garrigues] in Hopman Cup. I get a little bit strain. Well, since then I'm taping it. It's not that bad. I don't feel any pain now. But I still want to be sure to don't injure it again."

[Re. never winning a match at a Grand Slam until the US Open 2006]
"I think the toughest match for me, for my psyche, was the first round, because that's the toughest match always on the Grand Slams."

[Re. her family]
"My sister [Veronika] already played tennis. But she start tennis very late, like with 11 years. My father was like really excited about tennis, so he wanted me that I will be the better one. He start with me already with like three years. I was going with my sister on the tournaments.

"Yeah, he helped me when I was small. Until 10 years I was practising with him. He really wanted that I be the top player, yeah."

[Re. her boyfriend, Tomáš Berdych]
"That's amazing, that we both finished at the same time! We are both really happy. Before the Open, we spoke together and we were like, 'Together we can do it.'

"We grow up together in the same club in Prostějov; we still practise there. We've known each other since we were small kids." [They've been girlfriend & boyfriend for four years.]

[Re. marriage]
"We're too young to get married."


Mauresmo quotes
---------------

"I talked with my coach a little bit before, because I had never seen her play. He saw her play a couple of times, so I knew that she has this type of game, you know, being aggressive, taking the opportunities, and she actually made a very good match with not too many unforced errors.

"The disappointment is here. I'm just, you know, trying to analyse a little bit, you know, the way I played - not only today, but also throughout the tournament. I didn't really feel that I was really getting too into the tournament just the way I wish I would.

"I was not effective enough on my shots, and even though I was up, I wasn't playing that great. There was not a moment I felt my form was coming back. It was pretty frustrating.

"Even though I was up at the beginning, I didn't think I was playing that great. Not only shot-selection, but also the deepness of my shots. I was not effective enough to have opportunities to come in and really take control of the match. I didn't feel I was getting into the tournament the way I wish I had.

"I'm not completely down - I'm just disappointed. It's always disappointing to go out of any tournament, even more in a Grand Slam. But I'm going to go back on the court, go back to work, and that's obviously what I need."

------------------------------
9. Fourth-round draw: Top half (to be played on Monday)
------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF] (mouthwatering match!)
* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8] (DAVAI ANNA!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (PODME DANIELA!)
* MARTINA HINGIS [6] v LI,NA [19] (hopp Martina!)

-----------------------------------
10. Quarter-final draw: Bottom half (to be played on Tuesday)
-----------------------------------

* SHAHAR PEER [16] v Serena Williams (kadima Shahar!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Lucie Šafářová (both nice; my loyalty is to Nicole)

-------------------
11. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 7)
-------------------

No major changes for once! :-)


11.1 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]
+ SHAHAR PEER [16] d. Serena Williams
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafářová


11.2 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]


11.3 Final wish
---------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

-------------------
12. Women's Doubles
-------------------
12.1 Second round (Sunday 21st January)
-----------------

+ (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12] d. Jarmila Gajdošová/Bryanne Stewart, 6-3 6-2

To be completed on Monday:

* Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina v Martina Hingis/Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2-2

To be played on Monday:

* (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14] v Tsvetana Pironkova/Martina Suchá


12.2 Third round (Sunday 21st January)
----------------

- (VERA ZVONARËVA [EF]/NATHALIE DECHY)[8] lt. Sun,Shengnan/Sun,Tiantian, 3-6 3-6

To be played on Monday:

* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6] v (SANIA MIRZA [DF]/ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES)[10]

* (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12] v (ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY)[7]

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

-----------------
13. Mixed Doubles
-----------------
13.1 First round (Sunday 21st January)
----------------

To be completed on Monday:

* Vera Zvonarëva [EF]/Andy Ram v Casey Dell'Acqua/Chris Guccione, 5-4

To be played on Monday:

* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Mahesh Bhupathi v Jelena Janković/Nenad Zimonjic

Full XD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/xd/

------------------
14. Girls' Singles
------------------
14.1 First round (Sunday 21st January)
----------------

What rocked:
+ ALIZÉ CORNET [6] d. Naomi Cavaday, 6-1 7-6 (7/5)
+ Ksenia Lykina d. Andreea Vaideanu, 7-6 (7/3) 6-3
+ AYUMI MORITA [4,S] d. Chan,Wing-Yau Venise, 6-3 6-2

What sucked:
- Jade Curtis lt. Nadiya Kichenok, 6-4 4-6 7-9

(Since ***************** now wants me to PAY just to find out what Nadiya Kichenok looks like, :fiery: I can only assume that she's not as pretty as Jade Curtis.)

To be played on Monday:
* KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] v Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (podme Kristína!)


14.2 Second-round draw (to be played on Tuesday AFAIK)
----------------------

* ALIZÉ CORNET [6] v Ksenia Lykina (both nice)

* AYUMI MORITA [4,S] v Alison Bai (ganbatte Ayumi!)

* (KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] v Noppawan Lertcheewakarn) v Katarzyna Piter

----------------------------
15. Order of Play for Monday
----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 4r: MARTINA HINGIS [6] v LI,NA [19]
WS 4r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4]
MS 4r: JAMES BLAKE [5] v FERNANDO GONZALEZ [10]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 4r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF]
MS 4r: ANDY MURRAY [15] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]

The moment Lleyton Hewitt lost, we knew that Murray v Nadal would be on the RLA evening-session. Maria v Vera need to be first on that session to be televised on BBCi, but this wasn't for sure because there /wasn't/ a women's match there on Friday or Sunday. So when the order of play for Monday was announced, I was even happier than when I first saw Sunday's results! :-))

Just to confirm the good news for UK viewers: Maria v Vera *will* be televised on BBCi (Freeview-channel 302) at 08:30 GMT on Monday. It's time to put the "vera" back in "coverage" :-))

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MD 3r: (BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN)[1] v (WESLEY MOODIE/TODD PERRY)[13]
WS 4r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] v PATTY SCHNYDER [8]
MS 4r: DAVID NALBANDIAN [8] v TOMMY HAAS [12]
WD 3r: (LISA RAYMOND/SAMANTHA STOSUR)[1] v Francesca Schiavone/Patty Schnyder

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 22nd, 2007, 01:38 AM
Just to confirm the good news for UK viewers: Maria v Vera will be televised on BBCi (Freeview-channel 302) at 08:30 GMT on Monday. It's time to put the "vera" back in "coverage" :D

For UK viewers without access to BBCi, it may even be possible to catch the end of the match live on BBC Two from 10:00 GMT - a special programme intended for Murray v Nadal.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/zvona/

andrewbroad
Jan 23rd, 2007, 12:52 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & videos
2. Fourth-round results: Top half
3. Sharapova v Zvonarëva TV-report
4. Chakvetadze v Schnyder report
5. Hantuchová v Clijsters report
6. Quarter-final draw (including Sharapova v Chakvetadze preview)
7. Andrew's wishes
8. Women's Doubles
9. Mixed Doubles
10. Girls' Singles
11. Order of Play for Tuesday

------------------
1. Photos & videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonarëva:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva
(searching for "zvonareva" turns up more photos for some reason)

Maria looks better in the photos, but Bepa looked better on TV.

Maria Sharapova only:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Vera Zvonarëva only:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=100939&page=20 (and p.19)

Anna Chakvetadze:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze
http://www.theannachakvetadze.com/ (Gallery now open)

Anna's looking cute as ever. I also notice that her right ankle is taped.

Daniela Hantuchová - beautiful loser:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=278875&page=8
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Fourth round - day 2)

Daniela Hantuchová, Anna Chakvetadze, Maria Sharapova:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6285617.stm
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/ (Day eight highlights)

Maria Sharapova, Anna Chakvetadze and Martina Hingis added:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_r4

Player-party: Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Vesnina, Tsvetana Pironkova:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne

Here, Anna lets herself down with weird makeup - especially on her eyes. I much prefer the natural look. Her former doubles-partner Elena Vesnina, on the other hand, looks absolutely stunning! :drool:

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova" or "zvonareva"
"chakvetadze"
"hantuchova"


1.2 Videos
----------

Barbara Schett interviews Daniela after 3r:
http://www.eurosport.co.uk/tennis/mc_vid32797.shtml

Barbara Schett interviews Vera Zvonarëva after 3r:
http://www.eurosport.co.uk/tennis/australian-open/2007/mc_vid32762.shtml

I must admit that Babsi still looks very 'fit', especially in the second video! :-)

---------------------------------
2. Fourth-round results: Top half (Monday 22nd January)
---------------------------------

Very nice winner, very nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF], 7-5 6-4

Brilliant upset!
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [8], 6-4 6-1

Correct result:
+ MARTINA HINGIS [6] d. LI,NA [19], 4-6 6-3 6-0

A self-fulfilling prophecy of endless possibility:
- DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 1-6 5-7

----------------------------------
3. Sharapova v Zvonarëva TV-report (Monday 22nd January)
----------------------------------

Very nice winner, very nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF], 7-5 6-4

I saw the whole match live on BBCi.

As Maria v Bepa contests go, IMO the first set was excellent, but the second set left much to be desired - I didn't really get the feeling that the UK viewers who had tuned in expecting to see Andy Murray would be amazed by what they saw.

Played in a mildly warm temperature of 23°C, this match was very tight and competitive in the first set, but Bepa reacted to the loss of the first set with a bad service-game at the start of the second - you just can't afford to do that against someone who holds serve as reliably as Maria.

The atmosphere went rather flat after that as Maria cruised towards victory without much resistance to her brilliant tennis - although a late surge from Bepa made Maria work very hard to push herself over the finish-line, trimming her lead from *5-2 to *5-4.

Maria and Bepa are two of the best fighters in tennis, so this was very tough and long in duration for a two-setter. And it could have been very different if that tight first set had gone Bepa's way, if she hadn't had that lapse at the start of the second, or if she'd capitalised at 0/40 on Maria's serve in the last game (the general consensus in the VZ community is that Bepa was too passive on those break-points).

The winner-counts were a bit low by Maria v Bepa standards. Maria had just 33 winners, Bepa just 11. I remember that when they played at the WTA Tour Championships 2004, Maria had 58 winners in the same number of games!

Sebastian <http://blogs.tennisuniverse.com/zvonareva/News/6529>:
>>>
It was not a good day for Vera. Playing against Maria Sharapova she made too many unforced errors and was not agressive enough against a great serving Sharapova who went for her shots and never looked back. In the first set Vera could save 9 BPs, before getting broken in the eleventh game of the set. Till 2-5 in the second set, Vera didnt have a single BP, but then she could break and hold for 4-5. Serving for the match at 5-4 Sharapova went down 00-40, but could save all three Bps with great winners. Shortly after, Vera lost 57 46.

After a promising first week of the Australian Open, the last two days were not good for Vera who suffered from a cold and didnt have enough energy to play as she wanted herself to play. Still, the 4th round at a Grand Slam is a great achievement and Vera can be proud of herself. She now has little to defend till Roland Garros and should be able to move up further in the rankings... go Vera !!
<<<

Bepa won the toss and elected to receive. She looked absolutely delectable as she warmed up - even when they split-screened Maria and Bepa, I couldn't take my eyes off the lady in red!

My Reason says Maria, but my Passion says Vera.

The match started at 19:45 AEST.

I have incorporated some of Ben Dirs' game-by-game updates for BBC Sport <http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6286009.stm>.


First set
---------
SHARAPOVA _* * * * *@* 7
ZVONARËVA * * * * *___ 5

Bepa serving 0-0: Bepa backhand just wide. 0/15. Maria forehand just long & just wide. 15/15. Maria forehand just wide. 30/15. Bepa backhand long by a whisker. 30/30. Maria sprayed a forehand long. 40/30. Maria netted a forehand.

A really rather inauspicious start for them both.

Sam Smith: "Potentially a very difficult match for Sharapova. Carnage in the women's draw!"

Sam Smith: "[Bepa] had the largest pasta known to man before she came out here! So she's expecting a long match."
John Lloyd: "She's not afraid of Sharapova with two wins against her - that's the main thing."
Sam Smith: "Sharapova quite nervous about this match."

Maria serving 0-1: Bepa forehand volley-winner after a beautiful spreading rally & net rally. 0/15. Maria off-forehand + crosscourt forehand winner. 15/15. Maria netted a forehand. 15/30. Bepa backhand return just long. 30/30. Service-winner. 40/30. Bepa forehand smash-winner behind Maria after a well-constructed point. 40/40. Bepa netted a forehand. Ad Maria. Bepa backhand return just long.

Ben Dirs: "Zvonarëva, a US Open doubles champion, comes to the net and puts away a forehand volley to go 0/15 up. But Sharapova loosens the shoulders and gets the serve working to move to 40/30. However, Zvonarëva hustles well and converts another volley to make it deuce before Sharapova wins the game with an ace."

Bepa really let Maria off the hook there with two cheap errors at the end.

Bepa serving 1-1: Maria netted a forehand under pressure. 15/0. Let serve not called! Maria off-forehand return-winner. 15/15. Bepa backhand just long (Bepa wasted a challenge). 15/30. Virtual ace out wide, on the junction! 30/30. Bepa came to the net, but a dipping shot at her feet made her earth a forehand half-volley. 30/40 (BP). Maria netted a forehand under mild pressure. 40/40. Service-winner. Ad Bepa. Maria netted a backhand return.

Sam Smith: "Fully pasta'd-up and ready for battle!"

Maria's grunt is rather quiet today - and according to the commentators who weren't denied the opportunity to watch her early rounds, this tournament!

Maria serving 1-2: Maria came to the net and Bepa netted a backhand pass. 15/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 15/15. Bepa forehand long. 30/15. Maria went for a big swinging second serve ace down the middle - was called out, but Maria correctly challenged. No replay, even though I got the impression Bepa had a play on that serve? 40/15. Maria deep error-forcing crosscourt backhand.

Bepa serving 2-2: Maria crosscourt forehand winner. John Lloyd: "The depth so good." Sam Smith: "Fearless - never runs away from tense situations." 0/15. Maria forehand winner down the line (three strokes after a weak second serve). 0/30. Maria netted an easy forehand off a short ball. Should have been 0/40! 15/30. Bepa netted a forehand under pressure. John Lloyd: "First(?) serve has to be more accurate than that, or it's gonna get punished!" 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria forehand wide. 30/40. Maria forehand long by a whisker (Maria made an incorrect challenge). 40/40. Maria forehand just wide. Ad Bepa. Maria backhand wide by a whisker, and she didn't want to risk losing her one remaining challenge.

A let-off for Bepa after 15/40!

Maria serving 2-3: Bepa hit a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline, leaving Maria flat-footed at the back of the court! 0/15. Ace down the middle, on the centre-line (outside edge). 15/15. Bepa forehand long. John Lloyd: "Got to not give freebies away." 30/15. Maria came to the net behind a deep shot, forcing Bepa to hit an early forehand long. 40/15. Bepa backhand just long.

No breaks, but Maria holding serve more easily than Bepa.

Bepa serving 3-3: Bepa came to the net, forcing Maria to balloon a backhand wide. 15/0. Maria forehand just wide. 30/0. Bepa forced Maria to net a forehand. 40/0. Maria netted a forehand.

Sam Smith: "Real quality about Zvonarëva."
John Lloyd: "If she was from any other country, she'd be much more famous.
"If this was Federer v Nadal, side to side, we'd be raving about it!"

Ben Dirs: "More fine hustling from Zvonarëva, moving Sharapova around the back of the court on the opening three points before taking the game to love. Zvonarëva is scrapping and hanging in there well at the moment."

Maria serving 3-4: Maria backhand winner down the line, on the baseline. Ben Dirs: "Sharapova leaves her opponent striking the teapot pose after hitting the baseline with a vicious backhand winner." Sam Smith: "It's automatic. She's so polished." 15/0. Virtual ace out wide. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0. A deep return forced Maria backhand wide. 40/15. Ace out wide, in the corner.

John Lloyd: "In terms of the mental strength, she's the number one."

Bepa serving 4-4: Maria off-backhand return-winner. 0/15. Maria backhand return just wide. 15/15. Bepa hit a loose backhand long. 15/30. Maria netted a backhand after "gigantic" groundstrokes from Maria. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria forehand long. 30/40. Maria netted a backhand. 40/40. Maria backhand just wide. Ad Bepa. Maria aggressive return + forehand drive-volley winner. Deuce #2. Maria forehand return just long. Ad Bepa. She netted a backhand and made a gesture of frustration & muttered. Deuce #3. Double fault. Bepa looks anxious now. Ad Maria (BP #3). Bepa saved it with an error-forcing backhand. Deuce #4. Maria backhand just long. Ad Bepa. She netted a forehand. Deuce #5. Maria backhand drive-volley winner. Ad Maria (BP #4). Bepa saved it with a brilliant pinpoint backhand winner down the line off a sliced backhand from Maria! Deuce #6. Maria off-forehand winner. Ad Maria (BP #5). Maria forehand long. Deuce #7. Bepa hit a brilliant crosscourt backhand pass-winner just inside the sideline. Sam Smith: "Where did she find that angle from?" Ad Bepa. Service-winner.

Ben Dirs: "Zvonarëva is really digging deep here, and doing exceptionally well not to crack under the weight of some gigantic groundstrokes. Lovely bit of touch from Zvonarëva, whipping a backhand down the line to save another break-point, and she then excels herself again, hanging on for dear life before leaving Sharapova rooted to the spot with a dipping crosscourt backhand. Five break-points saved in the game by Zvonarëva - gutsy, very gutsy."

Sam Smith: "They breed them tough in Moscow, and that's what Zvonarëva's all about."

I'm feeling a very strong loyalty towards Bepa right now. If she'd lost that game, it could have turned into a routine win for Maria, and my Passion wants these two to be out here till Christmas!

Sam Smith: "The sheer totality of commitment from Sharapova and the team is beyond belief."

Maria serving 4-5: Service-winner. 15/0. Bepa backhand long. 30/0. Bepa's forehand clipped the netcord and fell wide. She looked very frustrated. 40/0. Maria virtual crosscourt forehand winner.

Bepa serving 5-5: Ace down the middle, on the centre-line. 15/0. Maria backhand just long. 30/0. Bepa backhand just wide. 30/15. Maria hit a thunderbolt of a crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/30. Ace down the middle - Maria challenged it, and used up her last remaining challenge! 40/30. Maria forehand return-winner just inside the sideline. 40/40. Double fault. Ad Maria (BP). Maria crosscourt backhand winner wide by a whisker, but no challenges left. Deuce #2. Maria forehand wide. Ad Bepa. Maria error-forcing forehand down the line. Deuce #3. Maria virtual forehand winner down the line. Ad Maria (BP #2). Bepa finally cracked under the strain and netted a tame backhand, allowing Maria to break at the 10th opportunity! Bepa smacked the court with her racket.

Sam Smith: "You have to feel for Zvonarëva - just having to battle so hard through these service-games."

I do, Sam, I do! :hearts:

John Lloyd: "That's the problem with playing other Russians - they're almost as tough as [Maria is]."

Maria serving 6-5: Maria crosscourt forehand winner just inside the baseline. 15/0. Maria forehand wide. 15/15. Bepa netted a backhand, and whacked her hips with her racket. 30/15. Bepa backhand wide. Sam Smith: "Zvonarëva goes into meltdown." 40/15 (2 SPs). Maria forehand just long. 40/30. Serve + off-forehand winner, and the first real fist-pump and "c'mon". Maria won the first set 7-5 at 20:46 AEST (61 minutes).

This match has me both shivering with excitement, and almost with tears in my eyes right now, as Bepa sits with her head in her towel.


Second set
----------
SHARAPOVA @* * *@__* 6
ZVONARËVA __* *__@*_ 4

Bepa serving 0-0: Maria error-forcing crosscourt forehand. 0/15. Bepa backhand long. 0/30. Maria forehand long. 15/30. Maria forehand on the line forced Bepa backhand wide. 15/40 (2 BPs). Double fault. Groans from the crowd.

Poor Bepa. She's just gone away from this match after being broken at 5-5, and now she's crying. I can almost emote with her.

Sam Smith: "No need for Zvonarëva to beat up on herself - she's playing a good match. But there's someone down the other end who's playing better."

Maria serving 1-0: Maria netted a backhand. 0/15. Ace down the middle. 15/15. Maria forehand winner down the line. 30/15. Maria forehand just long. 30/30. Bepa netted a backhand - her footwork has gone, along with her belief. 40/30. Maria netted a forehand off a deep return onto the baseline. 40/40. Bepa forehand very long - she broke a string in that rally. Sam Smith: "Her contact is so high up the frame." Ad Maria. Maria hit an error-forcing crosscourt backhand.

Good resistance from Bepa in that game, but I'm still getting a very negative vibe from her. Sam Smith: "Nowhere to go."

Bepa serving 0-2: Bepa forehand just wide. 0/15. Maria backhand long. 15/15. Maria netted a forehand under pressure. 30/15. Maria backhand long. 40/15. Maria netted a forehand.

Maria serving 2-1: Bepa netted a forehand. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. Double fault. 30/15. Bepa netted a backhand volley. John Lloyd: "Didn't quite direct that approach-shot well enough." 40/15. Maria forehand drive-volley winner.

Bepa threw her racket. She's looking more fired up now, but there's an air of inevitability for Maria now, and not much noise from the crowd.

Sam Smith: "The life has just drained out of this match momentarily."

Bepa serving 1-3: Maria forehand long. 15/0. Maria forehand return just long. 30/0. Bepa came to the net, forcing Maria to hit a backhand pass wide. 40/0. Second serve: Maria off-forehand return-winner. 40/15. Bepa hit a well-placed forehand drive-volley winner.

Ben Dirs: "Good hustling from Zvonarëva, who hasn't given up the ghost by any means."

Maria serving 3-2: Service-winner (Bepa backhand lob-return just long). 15/0. Service-winner out wide, just inside the sideline. 30/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 30/15. Ace down the middle. 40/15. Maria forehand volley-winner after a spreading rally set up by a kicking serve out wide.

John Lloyd: "The winners have been stunning today, and there's been a lot of them."

Bepa serving 2-4: Maria netted a forehand under pressure. 15/0. Double fault. 15/15. Bepa netted a backhand. 15/30. Bepa forehand long. 15/40 (2 BPs). Double fault.

A tame break there, but Maria just seems so solid now - not giving Bepa any opportunities to get back into the match. All too clinical now.

Maria serving 5-2: Maria netted a backhand. 0/15. Maria crosscourt forehand winner after a good spreading rally. 15/15. Maria hit a crosscourt forehand onto the baseline - Bepa challenged, and Hawk-eye showed that it caught the very outside edge of the line! 30/15. Maria netted a forehand volley after three slices from Bepa on the stretch. 30/30. Maria missed a forehand smash from no-man's-land, running backwards, with a loud aeroplane above. 30/40 (BP). Maria sprayed a forehand long, handing Bepa her first break on her first break-point of the match!

Bepa serving 3-5: Bepa hit a backhand long, and swatted a ball away in frustration. 0/15. Maria opened up the court with a crosscourt backhand, and hit a blazing off-forehand winner just inside the sideline - lovely delay. 0/30. Service-winner. 15/30. Maria netted a forehand return. 30/30. Maria hit an error-forcing forehand. 30/40 (MP #1). Maria hit a forehand long off a short ball from Bepa. 40/40. Maria netted a forehand return. Ad Bepa. Ace down the middle.

Suddenly I sense a lifeline for Bepa! Maria's throwing in quite a few unforced errors now, and it's never easy to serve for the match when you've already failed.

The commentators said Bepa's attitude was much better now than at the start of this set.

Ben Dirs: "Emotional girl, Vera, and she looks like she's having a bit of a cry between ends."

Maria serving 5-4: Maria forehand long. John Lloyd: "Breaking down a lot earlier in these rallies than she was." 0/15. Bepa hit a breathtaking short-angled crosscourt backhand - only her 11th winner of the match. 0/30. Maria forehand just long under pressure. 0/40 (3 BPs). Maria forced Bepa backhand long. 15/40. Ace down the middle. 30/40. Maria hit a blazing crosscourt backhand onto the sideline! 40/40. Bepa earthed a mishit forehand. "C'mon!" screamed Maria. Ad Maria (MP #2). Double fault. Deuce #2. Maria hit a "sledgehammer" of an error-forcing crosscourt backhand. Ad Maria (MP #3). Maria netted a forehand off a deep forehand from Bepa that clipped the outside edge of the baseline! (Maria incorrectly challenged). Deuce #3. Maria backhand winner down the line. "Vamos!" Ad Maria (MP #4). Maria closed it out with a forehand winner down the line after an amazing final rally with Bepa retrieving for all she's worth! Maria won 7-5 6-4 at 21:32 (second set 46 minutes, match 1h47m).

My bladder is extremely relieved that Maria closed it out in that game, and I'm also glad I didn't have to change my video-cassette, which is within ten minutes of the end! ;-)

Andrew Castle described this match with "clang, clang, clang" with no changes of pace or spins - did he even watch it with more than "when's this court going to be free for Murray?"! :rolleyes:

Sam Smith said at one point during the second set that Maria used to be one-dimensional (according to the hard-to-please Fred Stolle), but not anymore, which is what I've been trying to tell everyone in the last year or so.

And Bepa, of course, is an extremely versatile player, although she didn't get much chance to show the full range of her talents today because Maria kept her on the defensive.


Maria quotes
------------

"I felt like it was going to be tough. I challenged myself. I wanted to see what I could come up with today, because I felt like I needed to come up with something better than I did in my previous rounds. It was good to go out there and just finish the match. I was definitely lucky to get out of it the way that I did.

"Probably some of the longest rallies I've had this week. Tougher situations point‑wise, holding your serve, again being break-points down.

"I thought I definitely stepped it up. I had to. I felt like I was a lot looser. I was going for my shots a bit more. I felt like I was a little tentative in my previous matches - just trying to find my rhythm.

"Today when I came on the court, I knew she was going to be a challenge. I just had to go out there and step up to it."

[Re. serving for the match at 5-2]
"I don't think I played that bad. I did, I made a pretty easy error. I should have hit a volley when the whole court was open. I decided to hit a swing volley at 30/15. From that point on, I didn't think that I really just gave it to her. I mean, she worked hard for that game. She earned it. It was a little bit of up and down from that 5-2."

[Re. serving for the match at 5-4]
"I mean, look, I was down Love/40 on my serves, and I think I hit like three or four backhand winners. I can say that I'm pretty proud that I could come up with that in that sort of situation, because that's basically what it's all about.

"It was very good to win in two sets today, because I've had some tough matches against her. I came up with three really good shots to win it at the end there.

"I thought I played a lot better today than in the previous rounds. But I will definitely have to step it up again.

"I do think that men's fashion is a little boring on the tennis-court. I'd like to see them spice it up. You can't do white on white - that's just too boring."


It would be so cool if Maria and Bepa played each other in the Birmingham-final this year (as they would have done last year, but for Maria's aberration against Jamea Jackson).

--------------------------------
4. Chakvetadze v Schnyder report
--------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] d. PATTY SCHNYDER [8], 6-4 6-1

I believed in this upset when the draw came out, but the scoreline is amazing! :-)

And what makes it even more awesome is that Anna was 1-4 down in the first set!

>>>
Anna making an impression
by Angus Morgan <www.australianopen.com>
Monday, 22 January, 2007

Anna Chakvetadze may not have the profile of many of her compatriots - and there are 11 of them ranked inside the women's top-50 - but there's no Russian woman in better form at Australian Open 2007.

The women's 12th seed reaffirmed her growing reputation with a commanding 6-4 6-1 fourth round victory over veteran Swiss lefty Patty Schnyder at Vodafone Arena on Day Eight to qualify for her first Grand Slam quarterfinal where she'll play, who else, another Russian: the winner of the evening's feature match at Rod Laver Arena between Maria Sharapova and Vera Zvonarëva.

<snip>

Going about her business quietly and efficiently, Chakvetadze has conceded just the one set to her four opponents so far, and found victory over Schnyder - Alicia Molik's third round conqueror - a little easier to achieve than she expected.

After trailing 2-4 in the first set, the Russian surged to claim 10 of the next 11 games to win easing up.

<snip>

While the rankings suggest that Sharapova will be her next opponent, Chakvetadze rates Zvonarëva highly and believes the No.22 seed is more than capable of upsetting the No.1.

Chakvetadze is 0-2 against both players (discounting a walkover victory against Sharapova in Moscow last year), but she believes she is a much more complete player now that when she lost to Sharapova 4-6 6-4 7-5 at Los Angeles in 2005.
<<<

Anna quotes
-----------

"I started very slow today. But you have to get used to Patty's game because she plays with so much spin. Ball is bouncing so high here, too.

"Vodafone is a little bit different court, because I played outside-courts all my matches. I just had to get used to it. I just had to get used to it, then I found my rhythm and played better.

"I actually was surprised [with the ease of the win], but I was trying to concentrate in the second set, because I know that she's a fighter, and if she wins two easy points then she can start to fight.

"I just try go to the court just to win. I'm not thinking about who is my opponent. Before the match, of course, I'm thinking. But during the match, I just thinking about how to beat her, and which level."

[I don't know what Anna means by "level" here: perhaps things like how hard to hit the ball, how close to the lines?]

"I think I served pretty well today, and that helped me a lot, especially in the second set."

[Re. anticipation]
"I'm just trying to watch her racket, where she want to hit. Sometimes it really happen, but sometimes I have bad days and I just can't play.

"I have won 19 matches, I think, from 20, so yes I get more confidence of course - but it also depends on who you are playing. I think I had a pretty good draw, especially the first two rounds.

"I don't want to talk like some of the players who like to say they will win a Grand Slam. All the players want to win a Grand Slam, and all the players want to win their next match, but I just like to play and we will see what happens."

^[Very sensible attitude - there are three very tough matches between Anna and this title, so she needs to take each as it comes.]

"I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals. I didn't expect that when I came here, because usually I play very bad in Australia." <smiling>


/I/ wasn't expecting Anna to play badly in Australia this year. She's made a bad start to several of the previous years in her career, but she's of a different stature now: quite possibly on her way to the top five!

If Anna can keep this momentum going, she could have a better career than Daniela Hantuchová, Jelena Dokić and Vera Zvonarëva separately. Many promising young players fail to fulfill their potential, but what's encouraging about Anna is that she already emerged from a nasty-looking slump to have her best year yet in 2006.

Anna's diary updated:
http://www.theannachakvetadze.com/

--------------------------------
5. Hantuchová v Clijsters report
--------------------------------

- DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15,EF] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 1-6 5-7

I didn't get to see the match this time, but it's only one game better than her French Open 2006 humiliation. And it's pretty much the same story: Daniela was facing a bagelstick as Clijsters led 6-1 3-0*, then Clijsters' loss of concentration allowed Daniela back into it to add a modicum of respectability to the scoreline.

Bren O'Brien for www.australianopen.com: (http://www.australianopen.com:)
>>>
The Belgian stole a march with three breaks in the opening set. Despite a poor first-service percentage from Clijsters, Hantuchová won just three points on her opponent's serve, and was quickly trailing.

The second set was a much more even affair, with both players getting breaks early in the set. Clijsters was looking more at ease on her serve, and had three match-points in the tenth game, when leading 15/40 and then an advantage. But the Slovakian held in there, saving all three.

Clijsters raced through her next service-game and then held three more match-points on 0/40 on the Slovakian's serve.

She conceded the first point, but an errant backhand from Hantuchová sent Clijsters into final eight in Melbourne for the fourth time.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters): "The Belgian romped to a 6-1 7-5 win in 79 minutes after a wild crosscourt error sealed Hantuchová's fate."

Cat's Pajamas: "I'm still satisfied with this results, although it did showcase Daniela's not so great footwork. :o But I guess compared to Kim anybody could look horribly slow, still I don't know how but I think Danka needs to improve that part of her game. :shrug:"


Daniela quotes
--------------

"She was just too good. She's playing incredible tennis right now. She deserved to win.

"She was just dominating. In every department she was better. She was just not missing any balls. She doesn't give you anything. So it's tough to win points against her. If she keeps playing like that, for sure she can win the whole thing here.

"But I felt I was right in there with her at the end of the second set. I felt the second set was a proper match - I had my chances there."


Clijsters quotes
----------------

{before the match}

"I've played Daniela few times already. She's a good player. When you hit the ball in her zone, she's a very, very clean hitter. I think her movement is probably her weakness. She's not a great mover out there.

"Then again, she compensates [by] really going for the lines, playing really deep shots. I think she doesn't really give you that much of a chance to go for angles because she hits so deep. That's what you have to try to do from the minute the ball drops a little bit short. You have to step in, be aggressive and move her around."


{after the match}

"I let her back into the match. I think I played one looser game. That made her really step it up. In the second set, she was taking some more risks and was a bit more aggressive, and it worked for her.

"I think what I did really well in the beginning of the match was definitely dominating the points. As soon as I got a shorter ball, or as soon as I felt like the court was opening up for me, [I tried] to go to that open corner. Even if it's the first or second ball, just be aggressive - because that's where you can win a lot of points against her.

"I felt like in the second set she started doing that a bit. She was coming in, playing serve and volleys. She started being more aggressive. The way she played in the second is how /I/ usually play against /her/.

"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well and moving well but it's hard to say how close to my best I am."

[Re. noisy fans who chanted throughout the match]
"I don't know what they were saying!"

---------------------
6. Quarter-final draw (including Sharapova v Chakvetadze preview)
---------------------
6.1 Top half (to be played on Wednesday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] (another mouthwatering match!)
* MARTINA HINGIS [6] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (hopp Martina!)


6.2 Bottom half (to be played on Tuesday)
---------------

* SHAHAR PEER [16] v Serena Williams (kadima Shahar!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Lucie Šafářová (both nice; my loyalty is to Nicole)


6.3 Sharapova v Chakvetadze preview
-----------------------------------

I said in my tournament-preview that I would love a Maria v Anna quarter-final, and it's so cool that Anna has upset the seedings to make my wish come true, just as Vera Zvonarëva did to become Maria's fourth-round opponent!

Maria v Vera was a mouthwatering match of flairsome power, and Maria v Anna will be more of the same. I think Anna could do even better against Maria than Vera did, perhaps even win, although Maria was just too solid - especially on her serve - for Vera to put her in any serious danger of losing.

Maria and Anna are both now members of my Eternal Fanship, so where is my loyalty? It's difficult to say in advance, because it boils down to the following question: Could Anna stop Kim Clijsters in the semi-finals? That's what would make it worthwhile for me to sacrifice my queen, because if Anna lost to Clijsters, I would be thinking, "I wish Maria could have had a go at her!"


Maria quotes
------------

"I thought I played a lot better [against Vera] than I did in my previous rounds, but I'll definitely have to step it up against her [Anna].

"I don't know her game that well... she's had some great results in the last couple of months. And she's a big hitter, and another young Russian that's coming up, so I look forward to that."

[Re. Los Angeles 2005]
"I think she's more of a developed player than she was then. She's definitely a lot more experienced. She's played more top players, has had great wins over top players.

"I mean, look, I don't think I'm going to look back at that match too much. Obviously I've seen her play here and there. Just got to go out, and if I play like I did today, I think my chances are pretty good."


Anna quotes
-----------

[Q. Are you a much better player than the last time you played Maria?]

Anna: "I think so, because now I have more confidence and I know how I should play, and if I use my game-plan right then I can win, I think.

[Re. other Russians]
"Of course we're friends, because we spend so much time on the Tour, but you can't be friends with everyone because we're different personalities. But most of them are very nice and I'm friends with them.

"I just want to play one more match and win one more match. I'm not thinking, 'OK, she's Russian, I have to beat her.'"

[Comparing Maria with Vera Zvonarëva]
"They both play pretty similar. They hit very flat, good serve. Better backhand, I think. Well, I played against Vera on grass and I lost very close match. I don't know. They both very tough opponents. I have to be ready."

As a fan of all three, I think Maria and Vera have the biggest contrast of styles - Maria with more power, Vera with more versatility and retrieval-skills. I think Anna and Vera are the most similar, and that Anna is more similar to Maria than Vera is.

Any match between two of the three is absolutely mouthwatering to me! :-)

------------------
7. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 8)
------------------
7.1 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. SHAHAR PEER [16]


7.2 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------
8. Women's Doubles
------------------
8.1 Second round (Monday 22nd January)
----------------

+ Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina
d. Martina Hingis/Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-2 6-3

+ (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14]
d. Tsvetana Pironkova/Martina Suchá, 6-1 6-0


8.2 Third round (Monday 22nd January)
---------------

+ (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6]
d. (SANIA MIRZA [DF]/ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES)[10],
7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 6-2

- (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[12] lt.
(ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY)[7], 6-3 2-6 1-6

To be played on Tuesday:

* Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina
v Ashley Harkleroad/Galina Voskoboeva

* (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14]
v (YAN,ZI/ZHENG,JIE)[2]


8.3 Quarter-final draw
----------------------

* (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6] v (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[3]

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

----------------
9. Mixed Doubles
----------------
9.1 First round (Monday 22nd January)
---------------

- Vera Zvonarëva [EF]/Andy Ram
lt. Casey Dell'Acqua/Chris Guccione, 6-7 (1/7) 4-6

- Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Mahesh Bhupathi
lt. Jelena Janković/Nenad Zimonjić, 6-4 6-7 (4/7) [8/10]

------------------
10. Girls' Singles
------------------
10.1 First round (Sunday 21st January)
----------------

+ KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] d. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, 6-3 6-1


10.2 Second-round draw (Andrew's selections, to be played on Tuesday)
----------------------

* ALIZÉ CORNET [6] v Ksenia Lykina (both nice)

* AYUMI MORITA [4,S] v Alison Bai (ganbatte Ayumi!)

* KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] v Katarzyna Piter (poďme Kristína!)

-----------------------------
11. Order of Play for Tuesday
-----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS qf: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Lucie Šafářová
WS qf: SHAHAR PEER [16] v Serena Williams
MS qf: Mardy Fish v ANDY RODDICK [6]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS qf: ROGER FEDERER [1] v TOMMY ROBREDO [7]
WD qf: (LISA RAYMOND/SAMANTHA STOSUR)[1] v (ANNA-LENA GRÖNEFELD/MEGHANN SHAUGHNESSY)[7]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 23rd, 2007, 10:36 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & multimedia
2. Fourth-round results: Top half
3. Vaidišová v Šafářová report
4. Quarter-final draw
5. Semi-final draw
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Women's Doubles
8. Girls' Singles
9. Order of Play for Wednesday

----------------------
1. Photos & multimedia
----------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Nicole Vaidišová and Lucie Šafářová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=65
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqg92.html

Anna Chakvetadze - I hate football, but Anna is so cute!
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze

Anna Chakvetadze and Lucie Šafářová off-court - absolute eye-candy! :drool: :hearts:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_week2

Lucie Šafářová:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq348.html
http://www.lucie-safarova.com/

Shahar Pe'er:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=peer
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq954.html

Nicole Vaidišová, Lucie Šafářová, Shahar Pe'er:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6289255.stm
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/

Nicole Vaidišová and Shahar Pe'er:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_qf_f

Lucie Šafářová and Shahar Pe'er:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Quarterfinals - day 1)

Search Getty Images for:
"vaidisova" or "safarova"
"peer"
"chakvetadze"


1.2 Videos
----------

Nicole Vaidišová 4r interview:
http://www.eurosport.co.uk/tennis/australian-open/2007/mc_vid32801.shtml

Vaidišová v Šafářová last game + Nicole interview:
http://www.dailymotion.com/stefff92/video/1753184


1.3 Audio
---------

Mad Minute with Nicole Vaidišová:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/interactive/radio/20070122.html

-------------------------------------
2. Quarter-final results: Bottom half (Tuesday 23rd January)
-------------------------------------

For those who follow tennis for the eye-candy, or for brilliant players to perform:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafářová, 6-1 6-4

For those who follow tennis for the great contests:
- SHAHAR PE'ER [16] lt. Serena Williams, 6-3 2-6 6-8

Shahar served for the match at 6-5 in the third, and was two points from victory!

------------------------------
3. Vaidišová v Šafářová report (Tuesday 23rd January)
------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Lucie Šafářová, 6-1 6-4

The second set got rather tight, with Nicole saving two break-points at 3-4 that would have left Lucie serving to win the set 6-3!

It was a positive performance from Nicole, with a W:UE ratio of 21:15 (Lucie 19:21) and 8 aces.

Nicole has now served 45 aces in the tournament, but has been overtaken as ace-leader by her semi-final opponent Serena Williams (47 aces), who is also the service-speed leader of the tournament so far.

>>>
Vaidišová blasts into semis
by Bren O'Brien <www.australianopen.com>
Tuesday, 23 January, 2007

Women's No.10 seed Nicole Vaidišová is through to her second Grand Slam semifinal after an authoritative win over compatriot Lucie Šafářová on Rod Laver Arena.

In the first match of Day Nine, Vaidišová endured none of the problems that defending champion Amélie Mauresmo had against Šafářová in the fourth round, progressing in 71 minutes 6-1 6-4.

Vaidišová, who had progressed to the quarter-finals without great ceremony, showed no sentiment for her Czech compatriot in the first set, breaking her in the fourth and sixth games. She conceded just seven points on her own serve and hit 14 winners to grab the momentum.

The pair exchanged breaks early in the second set, with the No.10 seed determined not to let the unseeded Šafářová get back in the match. She played some excellent tennis, breaking in the ninth game and then serving out for the match.

For Vaidišová, it is the second time she has reached this level in Grand Slam tennis, after her final-four appearance at Roland Garros in 2006. Šafářová departs with her best-ever Grand Slam effort and the scalp of the No.2 seed under her belt.
<<<

Reuters:
>>>
Nicole Vaidišová won the battle of the Czech teenagers with Lucie Šafářová 6-1 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The 10th seed, 17, advanced to her second career Grand Slam semi-final with an elegant display of power-hitting against her 19-year-old rival in a one-sided quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena.

Šafářová, who dispatched reigning champion Amélie Mauresmo in the fourth round, struggled to match Vaidišová's accuracy and speed round the court and, despite improving in the second set, went down in an hour and 11 minutes.

Bidding to become the first Czech woman to reach the semi-finals at Melbourne Park since Jana Novotná in 1991, it was the younger Vaidišová who was the quickest out of the blocks.

Showing the kind of form that got her to the last four at Roland Garros last year, she worked her opponent around the court with a crisp crosscourt backhand earning her the first break of serve for a 3-1 lead.

Šafářová, the world number 70, looked a different player to the one that outclassed second seed Mauresmo on Sunday, and was broken again in the sixth game to give Vaidišová a 5-1 advantage.

She carried the momentum into the second with an opening service-break before Šafářová finally found some form to level the set at 2-2.

Šafářová, her right thigh heavily strapped after an injury picked up at the Hopman Cup, missed her chance for a second break when she wasted two break-points with Vaidišová serving at 3-4.

The 17-year-old held on, a drifting long backhand from Šafářová gave her the ultimately decisive break for a 5-4 lead, and she sealed the win when Šafářová's backhand service-return sailed wide.
<<<

Nicole quotes
-------------

"I'm definitely very, very happy and excited. The first Grand Slam of the year, you have some off-season. You don't know how you're going to come back. But I've had a great start of the year. Now I want to just keep improving.

"I've had some tough matches, a compatriot in the quarter-finals is always tough, but I'm so happy I'm through; it feels great.

"It's great for Czech tennis to have two quarter-finalists, one in the semis. Of course you don't want to play your friend, but I'm just happy I got through it.

"I'm really happy the way I returned her serve. She's tricky. She's a lefty. She can have those weird rotation slices. I read it well. [I'm] happy about that.

"I'm very happy. Maybe that [French Open 2006] was the first time. You're so, so excited. Now you try to be calm more about it. Just go back, relax. But I had my whole family there. Here, it's my dad, my agent.

"But still very, very excited, definitely. It's a position I've been before, so I know how to handle it better."

[How much mental training did you do in the off-season?]
"Not too much crazy. Nothing in particular. I think as you age, you get more mature, I hope. But it's definitely improving everything, just getting better. I'm definitely able to handle tough situations better, break-points better. I was down a couple break-points today. Handled that well. Got my first break back. That makes the match."

[Re. the possibility of winning her first Grand Slam]
"I think I would start to think about that possibility in the final at match-point. So far you say one or two matches, but now those are the matches that are so tough. My whole approach was, as before to a Grand Slam, take it match by match. I'll give it a hundred percent each and then we'll see. I'm going to stick to it and keep doing that - not look ahead.

"Deep down I'm Czech. Czech is home for me. I try to go as much as possible that's home. Family is there. Everybody is there. I'm very proud to play for Czech. I would love to play in the Olympics. Didn't get a chance last time. But of course, Florida gives a great opportunity for practice. Some great conditions. Try to use those.

"I try when I get off the court. I do things I think everybody else does. I go to movies, hang out with my friends, my family. I try to have as normal a life as possible. You get the thinking. You speak with them a lot. You get a mix of both. So you're definitely influenced by it a little bit, for sure.

"Everywhere I go, I have a Czech mind. It's not like when I got to Asia I try to change to my Asia mind, then use my Australia mind. I'm definitely influenced by America, but still keeping my one Czech mind."

[Re. Lucie]
"We know each other. We played the Fed Cups together. We say, 'Hi,' but we're not very close friends."


Lucie quotes
------------

"I knew it would be tough because she has a similar game to me: fast, flat. I knew if I would like to win, I would have to serve well - and that was the difference: she was serving so well, and I wasn't able to... she was hitting the returns, and she was more aggressive today.

"I'm very happy with this tournament. I got a lot of experience and confidence. I have to work harder. I have to improve my game, my serve, and try to play better and better.

"I think Nicole has a big chance to be in the final."

[What does Nicole have to improve to win the title?]
"It's tough to say. I am not a tennis-coach."


Semi-final preview
------------------

Two years ago, a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova was facing Serena Williams in the Australian Open semi-finals. Maria served for the match at 6-2 *5-4, and again at *5-4 in the third - where she missed three match-points. Williams went on to win the match, and then the title.

Eight months ago, it was Nicole who blew a set and *5-4 lead in a Grand Slam semi-final, as she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova at the French Open.

I must admit that of all the potential semi-finalists I mentioned in my tournament-preview - and I /did/ mention Lucie Šafářová as a potential quarter-finalist - I never imagined that Serena Williams would get this far after losing to Sybille Bammer at Hobart. And I certainly wouldn't have believed that Williams could reach the final.

Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles-titles and been ranked #1 for 57 weeks, but she's now down to #81 after a year of very few tournaments due to injuries and off-court distractions (most recently a seven-week breach-of-contract lawsuit, every day of which required her to be /in/ court as opposed to /on/ court).

So Nicole has to forget about the rankings completely for this match, and treat it as though she were playing the first match in tennis-history, against an opponent presumed to be her equal.

Williams may be out of shape and way below her best - she was two points away from losing as Shahar Pe'er served for the match in the quarter-finals - but one thing she still is is a fighter. "I'm the ultimate competitor," said the ever-modest Williams after that match.

Nicole's easy run to the semi-finals (after dropping one set in the first round) could give her a huge physical advantage over an out-of-shape Williams who only won her quarter-final 8-6 in the third. Nicole even has some three hours more than Williams to recover, because Williams's quarter-final started just after Nicole's finished.

Nicole won't be intimidated by facing Serena in the semis, because she's already beaten the other Williams-sister, Venus, in the quarter-finals of the French Open, and she's already had the experience of a Grand Slam semi-final - albeit a choky one.

So Nicole is going to go out there feeling that she belongs, and I certainly don't expect her to get rolled over by Williams on both their current forms. The question is: will she believe that she can close out the match if she gets the opportunity to do so?

I believe the answer is yes! Nicole's career is not yet littered with examples of choking (unlike her compatriot Jana Novotná); she's very mature, and she's a bit more experienced than she was eight months ago. After a shaky start to the year at Hong Kong, she's on a roll now, and seems to be going from strength to strength since the start of Sydney.

One slightly worrying factor is that Nicole lost to Jelena Janković at Sydney, and Janković - who started this tournament as one of the favourites for the title - /did/ get rolled over by Williams here.

But it's a gross oversimplification in tennis to say that if A beats B and B beats C, then A will beat C. Nicole has weapons that I cannot imagine Janković possessing, from the few times I've seen Janković play (most recently when she knocked Venus Williams out of Wimbledon 2006).

I have no doubt that Nicole has the /ability/ to take down an out-of-shape and over-the-hill Williams; the question is whether she has (a) the nerve, and (b) the footwork.

The quality of a player's footwork often improves with confidence and self-belief, and deteriorates with nerves and anxiety - and that's when she ends up making unforced errors because she's not in position, and therefore hits the ball either too early or too late.


Nicole quotes about Serena Williams
-----------------------------------

"I watched her practise [at Nick] Bollettieri's [academy]. I was 11 years old, 12. I was very excited to see her play, to see her there. She came and practised, or playing matches. I was definitely a big fan of hers - I admired the way she played. I was definitely very impressed with her.

[Re. Williams's intimidating presence]
"I think for some people, yeah. But on court, when you play, you don't think if she has won a Slam or not. I block that out. I don't think I'll be going out there scared - but, of course, a lot of respect for what she's done.

"It's a semi-final: it's going to be tough no matter what. She's definitely a great champion. I expect a tough match from her. At the end of the day, when you step on the court, you don't look who's against you, you just play your game and try to win."

---------------------
4. Quarter-final draw
---------------------
4.1 Top half (to be played on Wednesday)
------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF] (another mouthwatering match!)
* MARTINA HINGIS [6] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (hopp Martina!)

------------------
5. Semi-final draw (to be played on Thursday)
------------------
5.1 Bottom half
---------------

* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Serena Williams (pojdme Nicole!)

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 9)
------------------
6.1 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. MARTINA HINGIS [6]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] d. Serena Williams


6.2 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

------------------
7. Women's Doubles
------------------
7.1 Third round (Tuesday 23rd January)
---------------

- Maria Kirilenko [DF]/Vera Dushevina lt. Ashley Harkleroad/Galina Voskoboeva, 6-7 (5/7) 6-0 3-6

- (FLAVIA PENNETTA [DF]/ELENA DEMENTIEVA)[14] lt. (YAN,ZI/ZHENG,JIE)[2], 6-4 1-6 2-6


7.2 Quarter-final (Tuesday 23rd January)
-----------------

- (DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [EF]/AI SUGIYAMA)[6] lt. (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[3], 1-6 4-6

Full WD draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

-----------------
8. Girls' Singles
-----------------
8.1 Second-round results (Tuesday 23rd January)
------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ALIZÉ CORNET [6] d. Ksenia Lykina, 6-2 6-1

What rocked:
+ KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] d. Katarzyna Piter, 6-2 6-2

What sucked:
- AYUMI MORITA [4,S] lt. Alison Bai, 4-6 6-1 4-6


8.2 Third-round draw (Andrew's selections, to be played on Wednesday)
--------------------

* ALIZÉ CORNET [6] v Zhou,Yi-Miao (allez Alizé!)

* KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] v ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1] (poďme Kristína, although Pavlyuchenkova is kind of cute)

Full GS draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/gs/

------------------------------
9. Order of Play for Wednesday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS qf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF]
WS qf: KIM CLIJSTERS [4] v MARTINA HINGIS [6]
MS qf: TOMMY HAAS [12] v NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO [3]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS qf: FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
XD 2r: (BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN)[1] v Chris Guccione/Casey Dell'Acqua

It's so disappointing that there are no women's quarter-finals on the evening-session = no BBCi-coverage! :fiery:

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 24th, 2007, 10:53 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & videos
2. Quarter-final results: Top half
3. Sharapova v Chakvetadze report
4. Sharapova v Clijsters semi-final preview
5. Semi-final draw
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Girls' Singles
8. Order of Play for Thursday

------------------
1. Photos & videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6293219.stm
http://preview.tinyurl.com/yt5zrx (wtatour.com)

Maria Sharapova:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=534
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Anna Chakvetadze:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=280396&page=2 (pp.2-4)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaq416.html

Search Getty Images for "sharapova" or "chakvetadze"


1.2 Video
---------

BBC Sport's round-up of Wednesday's quarter-finals:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6293197.stm

Anna Chakvetadze interview after 3r:
http://preview.tinyurl.com/2nlrrc (Eurosport.co.uk)

----------------------------------
2. Quarter-final results: Top half (Wednesday 24th January)
----------------------------------

Very nice winner, very nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF], 7-6 (7/5) 7-5

Not so nice:
- MARTINA HINGIS [6] lt. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 6-3 4-6 3-6


A couple of interesting snippets from BBCi's coverage of Rafael Nadal v Fernando González:

1. Jelena Dokić asked Larry Stefanki to coach her, but she changed her mind at the last minute. This must have been some time between Tim Henman sacking Stefanki in September 2003, and Stefanki becoming González' coach in May 2006.

2. I saw Gisela Dulko watching the match, and she looked so, so pretty! According to Wikipedia, she's now dating González.

---------------------------------
3. Sharapova v Chakvetadze report (Wednesday 24th January)
---------------------------------

Very nice winner, very nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF], 7-6 (7/5) 7-5

A very similar match to the one against Vera Zvonarëva, but even tougher than that. Straight sets, but it took 2h15m!

Statistically it wasn't a very high-quality match: Maria with a W:UE ratio of 32:41, Anna 14:28. It sounds like Anna had to rely on her retrieval-skills - which are very good because she anticipates so well, and knows how to make her defensive shots awkward for her opponent. And Maria struggles the most against opponents who get a lot of balls back.

And the media don't describe it as a high-quality match either, describing Maria's performance as "lacklustre", "unconvincing", "failed to find any rhythm" and "a slew of errors", while Anna looked "painfully nervous on some easy putaways" [Miles Evans for Reuters].

But, as www.wtatour.com puts it, Maria "played clutch-tennis at the most critical junctures," as she so often does.

There were a lot of breaks in this match, and while Anna broke Maria twice in each set, those lucky enough to watch the match said that Anna's serve was weak, as though that was a /general/ weakness. But I know that Anna's serve is usually very good - not a huge serve like Maria's, but she does place it very well and set up a lot of one-two punches. In this match, Anna had a right-shoulder injury.

Anna had her chances: she served for the first set at 5-3, had Maria serving to stay in it again at 5-6, and had two separate mini-break leads in the tiebreak.

In the second set, it was Maria who failed to serve it out at 5-3, and she also had to recover from 5-5 (0/30) before sealing victory.

Anna may have been nervous in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, but to come away with 11 games against the pending world number one, despite a shoulder-injury, is something to be proud of, along with winning her first nine matches of the year!

Wintermute:
>>>
Yeah, not a great match. Anna served a lot better in Moscow than here but I think maybe that was her shoulder. But all those short balls that she didn't put away - I think it was nerves, otherwise she really needs to work on that. For the whole first set she just pushed the ball straight back to Maria instead of taking it in the air into the open court. Smashes weren't good either.

Maria made lots of errors and while she didn't get a lot of rhythm I think this is because Anna was not letting her have any.
<<<

Derek (re. Anna):
>>>
Nerves may have gotten to her, because she definitely was not agressive enough.

She couldn't put away short balls, especially off the forehand side.
<<<

Miles Evans (Reuters):
>>>
Both parents started the match with anxious, uneasy faces as if their daughters were preparing for the opening night of an ambitious school-play.

Chakvetadze's silver-haired father Djambuli grimaced and winced with every error, roared with approval at every winner, and pulled his baseball-cap over his eyes when an easy put-away for his 19-year-old daughter went begging.

Yuri Sharapov, the 19-year-old Maria's combustible father, was even more emotive, punching his fist with delight at each advantage eked out, and shaking his fist in frustration every time the top seed failed to meet expectation.
<<<

The match started at 11:14 AEST, and with no day-session coverage on BBCi, I followed live scores at www.australianopen.com:


First set
---------
SHARAPOVA _* *__@ @* * 7(7)
CHAKVETAD * * *@ @__*_ 6(5)

Anna serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad A, held.

Well recovered by Anna. Important to get that first game on the board, especially as Maria is such a good frontrunner (although she /has/ been known to squander 5-0 leads in third sets!).

Maria serving 0-1: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad Maria, held.

And what a start by Anna! But Maria so good at saving break-points, and generally pegging her opponent back to deuce so that she can win the games in which she was behind.

Anna serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Maria serving 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.
Anna serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

This is intriguingly similar to Maria's first set against Vera Zvonarëva - just as Anna herself is intriguingly similar to Vera: cute, flairsome power, very emotional, and a tremendous fighter.

But Anna is holding her service-games more easily than Vera was doing...

Maria serving 2-3: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

First blood to Anna!

Anna serving 4-2: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

But Maria, like all great champions, breaks back immediately. Maria is renowned for her terrific serve, but she also has fearsome returns, eating up first /and/ second serves.

Maria serving 3-4: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Well well! Maria and Anna are both reliable holders of serve, so I wasn't expecting /this/ match to degenerate into a pattern of break-and-counterbreak - although Maria will certainly be hoping that pattern continues for one more game!

Anna serving 5-3: 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

It was a lot to ask of Anna to come through that test against as fierce a competitor as Maria.

My loyalty is to Maria at the moment: Anna has shown her that she means business - which is great - but I don't want Maria to lose, because with her proven track-record, she has a much better chance than Anna of winning this title for my Eternal Fanship.

Maria serving 4-5: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, held.

Anna giving Maria a taste of her own medicine there: pegging her back on her service-game. Maria didn't pay for it there, but that can be the kind of thing that gets into your head and makes you nervous in later service-games.

Anna serving 5-5: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

Maria again serving to stay in the set, but this time the momentum is more in Anna's favour, because this time she /won/ the game before.

Maria serving 5-6: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

And now we have what the Maria v Vera match lacked: the Russian Roulette of a tiebreak... Mental strength will be important, but luck plays a greater role as there's no time for Maria to dig in.

6-6 tiebreak: Maria *1/0, *1/1; Anna *2/1, *2/2; Maria *3/2, *3/3; Anna *4/3, *4/4; Maria *5/4, *6/4 (2 SPs), 6/5* (SP #2). Anna netted a shot. Maria won the first set 7-6 (7/5) at 12:14 (60 minutes).

What a curious pattern! Each player then the other getting a mini-break, but unable to consolidate.

Wintermute: "Anna's forehand isn't working too well now. She gifted Sharapova a couple of points by putting some tame forehands into the net during the tiebreaker."

Who should I support in the second set?

* My Passion says Anna, because matches between members of my Eternal Fanship should be three-set thrillers!

* My Reason says Maria, because I don't want her tired for her semi-final tomorrow - nor do I want a tired Anna (she'd have to win in three now) in the semi-finals instead of Maria.

Six-minute delay after the first set - that's about the time it takes for a bathroom-break. But I later learned that Anna took a medical time-out for her right shoulder (the trainer rubbed some anti-inflammatory cream in - I wouldn't mind that job! ;-) ).


Second set
----------
SHARAPOVA *@__* *@__*@ 7
CHAKVETAD __@* *__@*__ 5

Maria serving 0-0: 40/0, 40/30, held.

A bit of pegging-back by Anna in that game, but Maria will be looking to step it up after that tough first set.

I hope Anna doesn't have a lapse of concentration, as Vera did in the fourth round after losing the first set. I want Maria to win in straight sets so that she's not tired for the semis, but I want Anna to give a good account of herself in the second set too.

Anna serving 0-1: 0/30 -> 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

A blow across the bows for Anna, going a set and a break down. I can imagine her in tears and chewing wasps at this moment, but she's such a fighter - and on-form - that I wouldn't write her out of this match yet.

Against Vera, there was an air of inevitability about Maria's victory as soon as she went a break up in the second, but Anna has already broken Maria's serve twice, while Vera at the same stage hadn't even had a break-point.

Maria serving 2-0: 15/0, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

She's a fighter all right! :-) This match needed that break back, or the atmosphere could have gone very flat, as Maria v Vera did in the second set.

Wintermute: "Anna's making quite a few errors on her forehand and keeps feeling her shoulder - it's really bothering her. But Maria's making tons of errors herself and keeping Anna in this. Atmosphere is a bit flat in the arena, not a pretty match."

cosmoose: "trainer out for Anna again, massaging her right shoulder. This could be the reason for Anna's weak serving."

Anna serving 1-2: 15/0, 15/15, 40/15, held.

cosmoose: "Lack of pace from Anna is driving Maria crazy. Maria has no rhythm on her strokes = zillion UE"

Anna still has a 25% chance of winning this match if we assume that each remaining set is 50/50 - which seems quite reasonable after the first set went to a tiebreak, although Maria /is/ the mistress of the decisive moments.

Maria serving 2-2: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Maria, Deuce #2, ad Maria, Deuce #3, ad Anna (BP #2), Deuce #4, ad Maria, held.

If I wasn't also an Anna-fan, I'd be breathing a huge sigh of relief after Maria saved those break-points! Being broken twice in a row is not what this doctor ordered.

As an Anna-fan, I'm so proud that she's giving the top seed such a tough match. As a Maria-fan, I'm concerned about her rising fatigue-levels because the last thing I want to see is Kim Clijsters in the final.

Maria took a medical time-out for a blisters on her left foot.

Anna serving 2-3: 0/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad Anna, Deuce #2, ad Maria (BP), Deuce #3, ad Maria (BP #2), Deuce #4, ad Anna, held.

Again, I'm so proud of Anna's resistance there - two break-points saved!

Wintermute: "Anna is lucky to get out of that game. She has made astonishing errors on short balls that she should have easily put away."

A set and *4-2 would have been a very commanding lead for Maria, but 7-6 3-3 is the tightest possible scoreline for this many games played - they're absolutely in the thick of battle!

Maria serving 3-3: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

Well recovered by Maria! Of course, it's not just /her/ fatigue-levels I have to worry about if this goes to a third set, but my own - half an hour more, and this will be the third night in a row I've had less than five hours' sleep!

It was around this time that Yuri Sharapov got his daughter a code-violation for coaching. The officials always watch him very closely at Maria's matches these days - especially after the Sharapovs' monkey-see monkey-do antics at the US Open 2006 (the media-reaction to which, IMO, was blown out of all proportion).

Anna serving 3-4: 30/0 -> 30/40 (BP), broken.

You have to feel for Anna there. Looked like she was cruising to an easy hold at 30/0, and suddenly, almost out of nowhere, Maria's serving for the match!

Can she close out this match more smoothly than she did the one against Vera, where from *5-2 she needed two tries at serving for it? She won't have that luxury in this set.

Maria serving 5-3: 15/0, 15/40 (2 BPs), broken.

Well well! This failure of Maria to serve out matches is becoming quite a worry! It happened from 5-0 in the third against Camille Pin in the first round (Maria won 9-7!), again against Vera, and now this.

This is a major lifeline for Anna. Is she tough enough and good enough to make Maria pay the ultimate price? I think she is - the onus is on Maria to save herself, because I don't think Anna's going to roll over for her.

Anna serving 4-5: 15/0, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (MP #1), 40/40, ad Anna, Deuce #2, ad Anna, held.

There's a lot of baggage building up for Maria now: a failed attempt at serving out the match, and now a missed match-point. Would be amazing if Anna could turn this match around and win, and the greater part of that amazement is already behind us!

My Passion is beginning to overtake my Reason now. I'm so excited for Anna: if she wins this match - especially from a losing position - it would be such a major landmark in her career, and would make her that much more famous (not that Anna likes a lot of attention, but I as a fan crave more media-coverage).

Maria serving 5-5: 0/30 -> 40/30, held.

Maria steadies the ship after tremendous danger at 0/30, and is once again within one game of victory. She needs to win this in straight sets to conserve her energy for the semi-finals - if it does go to a third set, I might as well support Anna for all the good it would do for Maria to reach the semi-finals with an empty tank.

Anna serving 5-6: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (MP #2), 30/40 (MP #3). Anna netted a forehand. Maria won 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 at 13:29 (second set 1h15m, match 2h15m).

That was a very long two-setter! I'm concerned about Maria's fatigue even now, without a day off to recover for the semi-finals. At least it wasn't played in extreme heat - only 20°C in Melbourne right now.


Maria quotes
------------

"Overall I thought I was up and down - a bit scratchy. First set, I'm down a break. The tiebreak was up and down. We broke each other quite a few times. Then when I got a break in the second set, I gave it back to her - let her back in it.

"It was very difficult; I didn't feel like we had a lot of easy rallies. I felt I had to work on every point. When you're a set and a break up, it's still tough - I'm glad I got through.

"But I was just very competitive. Against a girl like that, who gets a lot of balls back, it's just a matter of who can be a little bit smarter, who can get an extra ball back, who is a little tougher. I thought I did the job really well today.

"I still feel like there's more room for improvement. But against her, she's not a player that's going to make you feel great about your game, either. I feel like she doesn't give you much rhythm.

"Coming out with a win against her - someone who's playing well, someone who beat Schnyder 4 and 1, someone who's playing with a lot of confidence - if you can beat them in straight sets, it definitely gives you a lot of confidence."

[Re. the problems with holding serve]
"It was strange. I warmed up indoors. I came out. It's always pretty gusty on that court. The wind just blows one way. I got broken most of the time from that side because my serves were going long.

"On the other side, I didn't feel like I was getting enough pace on the serve. I'm not sure if I just didn't adjust quickly. It just took me a long time. Then when you start thinking, it's like a little snowball.

"Yeah, uhm, you know, didn't serve as well as I did my previous round. But it's tough to get a lot of easy points from her. She gets a lot of balls back, and she makes you work even if you do hit a pretty big first serve.

"I could have served a little bit better if I didn't give her too many looks on my second serve. When you give your opponent those chances - even when you break them - they feel they can break back, because you're not completely confident in your service-games."

[Re. Anna]
"Sometimes I feel like I don't know if she knows what she's doing! I feel like she tricks herself into her own game. She definitely has a lot of variety. If she wants to step in, she has a lot of power behind her strokes."

[Re. their fathers]
"I mean it's normal, I've been with my dad every single day. I'm sure Anna has as well. They both want you to win; they're both very excited over the opportunities you have."

[Re. the code-violation for coaching]
"I asked the umpire if it was in between those points. I didn't see anything - I didn't even look at him [Yuri]."


Anna quotes
-----------

"Maria won today; she played better than me. She is stronger. I guess she played very well. She's a great fighter. I think she deserved this win. I can just wish her good luck in semis.

"I think I need to improve to be more aggressive on important points especially because, yes, she was a little bit more aggressive than me. Definitely I will work on it. But, you know, it's tough to be aggressive because Maria, she's hitting the ball so hard! Especially in the warm-up, I thought, 'She will kill me!' <laughing>

"I couldn't put one ball on court, because she played one ball on me, and the other ball like somewhere. I couldn't, you know, get where is the ball going, she was hitting so hard.

"It's tough to play aggressively against these kinds of players because /they/ play aggressive, and you should mix your game a little bit more. But, on important balls, you should be more aggressive.

"My game-plan was to move her. If I would play all balls to her, it will be very difficult. I was running well today. But my hands and my arms was little bit sore and stiff. You know, especially those easy shots, I couldn't put it where I wanted. That was the problem, especially important points.

"I think she won all the important balls. I didn't use my opportunities in the first as well as second set, because it was like two or three games Love/30 on her serve. I just didn't use them. That's why I lost.

"It was a close match, but Maria won. I think she played better than me today and she deserves it, definitely.

"I wasn't nervous at all - not at all. Maybe on the tiebreak, because I was up like 5-3 and I had so many opportunities. I just didn't use it. That's, you know, a little bit strange because on the tiebreak, so many points are lost so easy balls. I don't think it's because nerves. I just need to be more aggressive on the important points."

[Re. her right-shoulder strain]
"It was tight in the morning. I had some treatment on it. During the match I felt pain, strain from the backside. I definitely should call the trainer earlier - not after first set. I think I should call it before I'm serve on that game at 5-4. Maybe it would help me. I got some anti-inflammatories, and pain gone in second set after few games. But maybe Maria's hitting so hard, my shoulder was getting tighter.

"It's amazing, because something is happening when I'm playing important matches. Like against Hingis in Montréal I had injury, again, my right hand. Here, as well. I should do something to myself. Should stay healthy, you know, to beat these kind of players.

"I mean, it was my tenth match in a row. I felt tired. I just need to stay healthy, and maybe not play tournament before a Grand Slam."

[Re. the first time she ever saw Maria]
"I just remember her dress, that's it. It was a pink dress. I just remember the colour actually."

That would be the US Open 2003 then.


Anna quotes before the match
----------------------------

[Re. comparisons with Martina Hingis]
"Martina is a great player - a former number one - and it's a compliment that they say that, but I think I hit the ball little harder than Martina.

"My groundstrokes are okay, and when I feel my return, I'm really okay. I'm trying to play smart, but I don't always do it.

"After I beat Petrova in San Diego, I started to believe I can beat top players. Then I started playing better and better at every tournament. I didn't play well against Golovin at the US Open, but she played great. But I already believed by then that when I got on court, that I could win. It's all confidence.

"I'm concentrating more now, not losing easy points.

"I am pretty hard on myself. That's how I'm thinking. I don't want to talk like some of the players: they like to say, 'I will win a Grand Slam.' All the players want to win a Grand Slam. I just play.

"I'm happy to play in second week. It's different, because the pressure is on. I'm just trying to stay calm because when I don't - when I'm excited - I can't play tennis. I'm still working on that. I start to think more about the next point, how to beat my opponent and not get frustrated after the point I lost. Now I have more confidence, and I know how should I play. If I use my game-plan right, then I can win."

[Re. Djambuli]
"He's not like my coach - he's just my dad. He helps a little, but I'm trying to think by myself about my game."


Barbara Schett about Anna
-------------------------

"She's a little bit in the shadow of the others - Sharapova, Petrova, Myskina, Kuznetsova - and that probably suits her. The attention is not that big on her, and she can just quietly slip through the draw.

"When I played against her [US Open 2004], her serve was not good, but now it's a lot better. She's a pretty consistent player out there now."


Tracy Austin about Anna
-----------------------

"It's the way that she uses the court, the way she is always balanced. She doesn't really look rushed.

"Some people seem to put a lot of effort into everything they do. Someone like Janković, you feel like she is working so hard every point, digging and grinding. Chakvetadze, she just seems to kind of be there."


A telling snapshot
------------------

From The Age - full article at http://www.theage.com.au/news/tennis/chakvetadze-emerges-from-russian-wannabes/2007/01/22/1169330831807.html
>>>
Chakvetadze reads the game beautifully, as if she's already watched it on TV and knows every line in the script.

Schnyder jumped out to a 4-1 lead, at which point Chakvetadze said she found some rhythm against the Swiss' heavily spun balls.

Schnyder had been to the last eight here in each of the previous three years, but her body-language soon smacked of resignation, and the realisation that she was up against a player who was already her equal, perhaps better.

She won just one more game for the match, becoming visibly distressed by the precision of Chakvetadze's anticipation, as if she were tapping into her thoughts.

Schnyder turning to her entourage, arms outstretched and asking, "What can I do?" was a telling snapshot.
<<<

It's so great to see that the media are really starting to analyse Anna now, and confirming the observations that I have already seen for myself. I'm so proud to have known her before she was really famous.

-------------------------------------------
4. Sharapova v Clijsters semi-final preview
-------------------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4]

Clijsters has reached the semi-finals with the following results:
1r + Vasilisa Bardina, 6-0 6-0
2r + Akiko Morigami [S], 6-3 6-0
3r + ALYONA BONDARENKO [29], 6-3 6-3
4r + DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [15], 6-1 7-5
qf + MARTINA HINGIS [6], 3-6 6-4 6-3

Clijsters leads their official head-to-head 4-2:
- 2003 Los Angeles 3r: Clijsters 6-4 1-6 6-1
- 2003 Luxembourg sf: Clijsters 6-0 6-3
- 2005 Miami final: Clijsters 6-3 7-5
- 2005 US Open sf: Clijsters 6-2 6-7 6-3
+ 2006 San Diego final: Sharapova 7-5 7-5
+ 2006 WTA Tour Championships rr: Sharapova 6-4 6-4
(- 2007 Hong Kong exhibition: Clijsters 6-3 7-6)

I've been dreading this match-up since the draw came out - the last thing I wanted to see was Clijsters in Maria's half. Hong Kong may be only an exhibition, but Maria gave Clijsters an important psychological edge going into this match. Many people have said that Clijsters is the tournament-favourite.

But if Maria was unconvincing against Anna, Clijsters was even more unconvincing against Hingis, whom she beat 3-6 6-4 6-3 in what CEEFAX describe as "a dreadfully inconsistent display" with 62 unforced errors - more than in her previous four matches combined - which begs the question: how did she beat a player of Hingis's calibre then? "I don't want to see her in the quarter-finals ever again," said Hingis.

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters): "Wild backhands, mistimed dropshots, flying forehands and awkward volleys seemed to be on the agenda for Clijsters, as she barely resembled a player who had been installed as the title-favourite."

That match started after Maria v Anna finished, so Clijsters has much less time than Maria to recover for the semi-final which takes place without a day's rest for either player.

Clijsters also picked up a hip-injury against Hingis, which was very sore after the match.

The other reason for optimism is that Maria's will to win is much stronger than Clijsters'. Last summer, when Clijsters was losing to Justine Henin in the semi-finals of the French Open, Eastbourne and Wimbledon, the commentators were talking about Henin being so hungry and ruthless, while Clijsters was the sort of person who would rather win friends than trophies, and just couldn't wait to get off the Tour and start a family.

Maria's attitude is much more like Henin's than like Clijsters', even though Maria plans to retire herself at 24 and start a family. :-(

Five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
Five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got

[David Bowie, "Five Years"]


Maria quotes
------------

"She makes you work for every ball. She gets a lot of balls back. But at the end of the day, I think it's mentally who is a little bit tougher.

"Obviously she's a lot stronger than I am, but other than that, I feel like I am definitely on a closer level to her than I was, say, a year ago.

"I feel like I'm doing smarter things in situations, being a little bit more patient when I have to. I feel like I have a lot more plans in my pocket. Also experience.

"Like you said, beating her for the first time, that definitely gave me a lot of confidence, that I can beat her. Beating Amélie and Justine on back-to-back days [at the US Open 2006], that definitely gives you a lot of confidence - tells you that you could beat No. 1 and 2 players on back-to-back days. As much as they're probably stronger physically than I am, I can still beat them."


Clijsters quotes {after her quarter-final}
----------------

"This could have been my last match here, so I'm very happy I get to play another one.

"I'm still asking myself [how I got through]. The only thing I did well today was I fought and I tried. I wasn't seeing the ball. All you can do is fight and work for every point - and I did.

"I have to be sharp against Maria: she's an incredible athlete and fights for every point. I can definitely not afford all the unforced errors against Maria - I have to make sure I play aggressive tennis and keep the unforced errors down. Hopefully, I will hit less than 62 unforced errors!"

------------------
5. Semi-final draw (to be played on Thursday)
------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Serena Williams (POJDME NICOLE!!)

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes (updated after Day 10)
------------------
6.1 Final wish
--------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF]

-----------------
7. Girls' Singles
-----------------
7.1 Third round (Wednesday 24th January)
---------------

+ ALIZÉ CORNET [6] d. Zhou,Yi-Miao, 6-0 7-5

- KRISTÍNA KUČOVÁ [15] lt. ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1], 0-6 3-6


7.2 Quarter-final draw (Andrew's selection)
----------------------

* ALIZÉ CORNET [6] v Chelsey Gullickson (allez Alizé!)

Full GS draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/gs/

-----------------------------
8. Order of Play for Thursday
-----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MD sf: (PAUL HANLEY/KEVIN ULLYETT)[4] v (JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI)[2]
WS sf: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] v Serena Williams
WS sf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v KIM CLIJSTERS [4]
|
Evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS sf: ROGER FEDERER [1] v ANDY RODDICK [6]
XD qf: Elena Likhovtseva/Daniel Nestor v (LEANDER PAES/SAMANTHA STOSUR)[3]

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 26th, 2007, 11:38 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & videos
2. Semi-final results
3. Sharapova v Clijsters semi-final report
4. Vaidišová v Williams semi-final report
5. Final preview
6. Women's Doubles
7. Mixed Doubles
8. Girls' Singles
9. Men's Singles and Jelena Dokić
10. Order of Play for Saturday

------------------
1. Photos & videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=535 (pp.535-536)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/ (Thursday 25 January)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.mariasharapova.com/

Maria's on-court beauty was exceptional on Thursday! :-)

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=204976&page=66 (to 67)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/ (Thursday 25 January: two galleries!)
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtaqg92.html

Nicole was quite possibly the hottest babe of the tournament! :hearts:

Maria Sharapova and Nicole Vaidišová:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6297165.stm
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Semifinals - day 1)

Maria Sharapova and Anna Chakvetadze:
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Quarterfinals - day 2)

Search Getty Images for:
"sharapova"
"vaidisova"


1.2 Videos
----------

Highlights of semi-finals:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6297185.stm

Barbara Schett interviews Maria before the final:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCMXCs-A-W0

---------------------
2. Semi-final results (Thursday 25th January)
---------------------

What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 6-4 6-2

What sucked:
- NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] lt. Serena Williams, 6-7 (5/7) 4-6

If I could have chosen either Maria or Nicole to win her semi-final while the other one lost, this is what I would have chosen. I am much happier at the prospect of a Maria v Williams final than I was about the prospect of a Nicole v Clijsters final.

------------------------------------------
3. Sharapova v Clijsters semi-final report (Thursday 25th January)
------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] d. KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 6-4 6-2

How times change! Going into the San Diego 2006 final, Maria was 0-4 in her head-to-head against Clijsters, and had lost five Grand Slam semi-finals in a row.

Now Maria has beaten Clijsters three times in a row (that Hong Kong exhibition is not recognised by the WTA Tour as counting towards the official head-to-heads). Maria 'Semipova' has now won two Grand Slam semi-finals in a row, while Clijsters has now lost four in a row.

It's the first Australian Open final for Maria - or for /any/ of the Russian women, who between them have won all three of the other Grand Slams at some point.

Again, it wasn't a particularly clean match, Maria with a W:UE ratio of 27:33, Clijsters 11:23, and Maria served 8 double faults including 4 in one game! But 27 winners in 18 games is quite a lot, and Maria served 7 aces!

Like when Luke Skywalker removed Darth Vader's helmet, I almost feel sorry for Clijsters now that her AO-career is over. But the last time I felt sorry for Clijsters, she came back more powerful - and did more damage to members of my Eternal Fanship - than I could possibly imagine!


3.1 Articles
------------

BBC Sport:
>>>
Maria Sharapova will meet Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open after she brushed aside the challenge of Kim Clijsters on Thursday.

Sharapova was in aggressive form as she saw off Clijsters 6-4 6-2 in the second semi-final at the Rod Laver Arena.

The Russian's big first serve and powerful groundstrokes were too much for the popular Clijsters, despite the partisan support of the Melbourne fans.

Sharapova, the number one seed, had fallen at the semi-final stage in both of the last two Australian Opens.

But she sought to dominate Clijsters from the start, and the 2004 runner-up could not live with the younger woman's power.
<<<

>>>
Sharapova into final, Clijsters exits
by Bren O'Brien
Thursday, 25 January, 2007

Women's No.1 seed Maria Sharapova is through to her first Australian Open women's final after blitzing No.4 seed Kim Clijsters in straight-sets on Rod Laver Arena.

Sharapova had been a semi-finalist in Melbourne for the past two years, but finally cleared that hurdle at her third attempt. She ended Clijsters' Melbourne Park campaign with 6-4 6-2 win.

The Belgian began the match well enough, breaking in the third game. Sharapova squared up in the sixth, only to be broken immediately. But facing a first-set defeat, the giant Russian rallied to break her in the eighth and tenth game, and claim a surprise lead.

The No.1 seed then broke Clijsters in the second game of the second set to gain a stranglehold on the match. Clijsters had three chances to break back in the fifth game, but let them slip and Sharapova kept the pressure on her opponent. She sealed her berth in the final on her first match-point with a forehand winner on Clijsters' serve.

Clijsters bid farewell to Melbourne Park at the end of her match, as she plans to retire at the end of the year, while for Sharapova, she gets a shot at her third Grand Slam title.
<<<

Paul Gough at www.australianopen.com: (http://www.australianopen.com:)
>>>
The Sharapova-Clijsters semi was expected to go the distance, but instead was over in less than an hour-and-a-half - even though the match was closer than the scores suggested.

Clijsters paid a heavy price for failing to make the most of her opportunities as she converted just two of 12 break-points against Sharapova, while in contrast the Russian converted five of her eight opportunities.
<<<

Agence France Presse:
>>>
Sharapova was ruthless against Clijsters, showing no emotion to clinically dispatch the Belgian and become the first Russian woman to reach the tournament-decider in Australia.
<<<

Paul Alexander, Associated Press Writer:
>>>
Sharapova, last year's US Open champion, wasn't at the top of her game either, committing eight double faults and missing a number of easy putaways. But she was at her best under pressure, fending off seven break-points in the second set.
<<<

Ed Osmond (Reuters):
>>>
Sloppy Sharapova eases past Clijsters

The 19-year-old Sharapova struggled with her game against the Belgian fourth seed (making her last appearance at Melbourne Park), dishing up 33 unforced errors before sealing victory on her first match-point in 83 minutes.

Sharapova and Clijsters exchanged two early breaks each in a scrappy first set, before the Russian took the Belgian's serve again in the 10th game to secure it in 42 minutes.

Sharapova, the US Open champion, raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but served up eight double faults and missed a few easy passing-shots and volleys to keep Clijsters in the match.

The 23-year-old Clijsters, who is retiring at the end of the season, made fewer unforced errors than the 62 she racked up in her quarter-final win over Martina Hingis, but she was unable to raise her game.

Clijsters did hold serve to get back to 2-4 in the second set, and had chances to break Sharapova in the next game, but the Belgian double-faulted to give her opponent a match-point, which she took with evident relief.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
The US Open champion had won just two of her six previous meetings with Clijsters, but did not let that - or sentimentality - blur her focus on Thursday.

She turned villain in front of "Aussie Kim's" adopted fans as she shoved the popular Belgian towards the exit with a dogged display from the baseline.

Clijsters had gained the first break in the match to nose ahead 2-1, and stretched it to 4-3 in the first set, but from then on her game became unhinged.

The fourth seed lost her serve two more times, and surrendered the set as she scooped a forehand into the net.

Despite fluffing numerous break-points in the second set, Sharapova stood firm and slammed the door shut after 83 minutes by cracking a sizzling forehand down the line on match-point.
<<<

www.wtatour.com: (http://www.wtatour.com:)
>>>
The match was fairly scratchy in the opening set, as the players broke each other a total of five times in the 10 games - Clijsters was actually up a break serving 4-3, before Sharapova reeled off six straight games to go up 3-0 in the second; she held onto that break to go ahead 5-2, and then broke one more time to clinch the win. The Russian teen rifled a down-the-line forehand passing shot on match-point and raised her arms in triumph.

After the match Clijsters was given a standing ovation from the crowd, as well as Sharapova, in respect of it being her last appearance Down Under. She plans to retire from the pro circuit at the end of the season.
<<<

PA SportsTicker:
>>>
The 19-year-old Russian broke Clijsters' serve three times while losing hers twice in an opening set that lasted 42 minutes.

Sharapova fought off all seven break-points in the second set, and won the match with a forehand winner - her 27th of day - for her 13th straight triumph in a Grand Slam event.

Clijsters, who only came to the net once in the second set, made just 49% (29 of 59) of her first serves before leaving to a standing ovation.
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com: (http://www.mariasharapova.com:)
>>>
Maria put up a very dominant performance today, hitting all shots with power and precision, and playing well both at the baseline and the net.

Maria raced into a 3-0 lead in the 2nd set. At 4-2 there was a very long deuce game where Maria faced a few break-points - this proved decisive for Maria to close the match as she took that game and then the next one for the set and the match on a winning forehand.
<<<

3.2 Scores
----------

I caught up with live scores using the following thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=282605&page=70 (pp.70-98)

The match started at 16:14 AEST.


First set
---------
SHARAPOVA *___*@ @*@ 6
CLIJSTERS _*@*__@___ 4

Maria serving 0-0: 15/0, 15/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Maria, held.
Clijsters serving 0-1: 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 40/30. Double fault. 40/40, ad Clijsters, held.

azmad_88: "sharapova is appraoching NET AAA LOTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Maria serving 1-1: 0/40 (3 BPs), 30/40, broken.
Clijsters serving 2-1: 0/30 -> 30/30. Double fault. 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Clijsters, held.

I'd be in a very negative frame of mind if I was following this live! Wasted break-point.

Maria serving 1-3: 30/0. Ace. 40/0, 40/15, held.

Maria has won 7 of 7 points at the net so far!

Clijsters serving 3-2: 0/15, 15/15. Clijsters UE. 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Already 3 double faults from Clijsters.

Maria serving 3-3: 0/15. Return out. 15/15. Maria netted an easy forehand. 15/30, 15/40. Double fault.

BK4ever: "Lord...Pova found her voice box. How come she didnt scream for the first 5 games????"

Clijsters serving 4-3: Double fault #4. 0/15, 15/15, 15/40 (2 BPs). Clijsters missed an overhead to get broken back.
Maria serving 4-4: 0/15, 15/15. Double fault #2. 15/30, 30/30, 40/30, held.

hablo: "Both players seem really nervous to me. Kim had started out better but is sucking now."
Cator: "wow, Maria is playing great at net."

Clijsters serving 4-5: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (SP #1), Maria won the first set 6-4 at 16:55 (41 minutes).


Second set
----------
SHARAPOVA *@* * *@* 6
CLIJSTERS ___* *___ 2

Maria serving 0-0: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 40/40, ad Maria. Ace.
Clijsters serving 1-0: 0/30, 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40, broken.

Cator: "Sharapova's net play has really impressed me."

Maria serving 2-0: Maria smash-winner. 15/0. Another easy putaway. 30/0. Double fault #3. 30/15, 40/15. Ace #4.

Cator: "seriously man, her serve/net play is whats killing kim right now."

Clijsters serving 0-3: 40/0, 40/15, held.
Maria serving 3-1: Ace #5. 15/0. Double fault #4. 15/15, 30/15. Double fault #5. 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40. Double fault #6. Ad Clijsters (BP #2), Deuce #2. Double fault #7. Ad Clijsters (BP #3), Deuce #3, ad Maria, held.

Cator: "Beautiful Maria, just Beautiful and fluid shots."
(This was written /before/ Maria served 4 DFs in that game!)

GPlayer21: "Does Kim look a little fatigued to anyone else?"

Clijsters serving 1-4: held to love.
Maria serving 4-2: Maria missed a high volley to lose her fifth point in a row. 0/15. Ace #6. 15/15, 30/15. Double fault #8. 30/30, 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Maria, Deuce #2. Ace #7. Ad Maria, Deuce #3, ad Maria, held.

Clijsters serving 2-5: Big return. 0/15, 15/15, 30/15. Clijsters backhand long. 30/30. Double fault #5. 30/40 (MP #1), Maria won 6-4 6-2 at 17:37 (second set 42 minutes, match 1h23m).


3.3 Maria quotes
----------------

"I felt I played a much better match all round today. Couldn't quite get the serve and return together in the beginning, but overall I was really focused. I did the right things at the right time, and was patient when I had to be patient; I played a smart game.

"I served a few double faults at the wrong time, but I was able to get big first serves in when I needed to.

"It's kind of sad, because Kim's a great girl, but also such a great champion on and off the court. She has got a lot ahead of her in her off-the-court life, and I think we all wish her the best.

"She's probably the toughest opponent going into the match. I knew in order to beat her, I definitely had to step it up today. I'm definitely glad that I could come up with a two-set win against her.

"I'm happy I could step it up against Kim, which gives me a lot of confidence going into the final.

"When you're in the moment, you don't really worry about is it going to be easy or tough. You just try to do the right things.

"I feel like a more confident player, more experienced, and like I know I can beat top players and have the physical ability to do that."

[Re. the noise from a nearby outdoor concert]
"It was pretty loud. You definitely hear it. Be pretty deaf not to."


3.4 Clijsters quotes
--------------------

"I have mixed feelings at the moment. It's kind of not really sinking in yet. Straight after the match, you are disappointed with having lost, and you are not really thinking about everything else. But I've never been the type of person who thinks it's the end of the world when I lose a match. I always try to look at the positive things, and then always try to come back stronger."

[Except that she's /not/ coming back to Australia!]

"I'm going to miss it - it's been a pleasure to come here. It's always a lot of fun, and I'm sorry I couldn't come up with a better match today. I tried everything I had; I just came up against a better player.

"I was playing well at times, but she always came up with better things, played more aggressive, and served a lot better. She hit her backhand really well: very deep, which didn't give me a lot of chances to work my way into the points. I had a feeling I played a lot better than I did yesterday, but still not my best. That's the frustrating part about it.

"Quarter-final was definitely my worst match. I always try to look at the positive things and come back stronger. That's what you learn out of those kind of matches. I felt like I was playing better today. I was moving better, seeing the ball better. But not good enough today to beat her.

"I have so many great memories from my times in Australia - not just tennis-wise, but also all the friends I have made. I'm going to come back tomorrow, and take my time to say goodbye to everybody - just get everybody's email-address, number. There are a lot of people I want to talk to face to face, people that work here and people I want to keep in touch with. All the friends I made in Australia, as well. That to me has been very important, has been a great part of my life - something that will always stay with me.

"Tennis-wise, there's so many [memories]. It's so hard to just pick one that stands out. The one that was maybe the most frustrating one, where I was up against Serena [in 2003 semi-final] 5-2 in the third - that one was frustrating at the time.

"I will definitely come back. I don't just love to play tennis; I love to watch tennis. In a few years I'll be sitting in the stands, with maybe some kids and stuff. That's something I'm really looking forward to."

-----------------------------------------
4. Vaidišová v Williams semi-final report (Thursday 25th January)
-----------------------------------------

- NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF] lt. Serena Williams, 6-7 (5/7) 4-6

Before the tournament started, I would never have believed that Williams was going to reach the final. She came in ranked #81, having lost to Sybille Bammer at Hobart! But she'll jump back up to #18 on Monday - #14 if she wins the final.

And Nicole will rise to #9 on Monday - her career-high ranking, which she previously held for two weeks in August 2006.

In contrast to the other semi-final, both players had positive W:UE ratios: Nicole 31-29, Williams 23-15. But Nicole did herself no favours by getting only 51% of first serves in when she was winning only 37% on her second serve - and 7 double faults is a bit high (3 of them coming on Nicole's broken service-game at 1-3 in the second, after she had 40/15!).


4.1 Articles
------------

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com) {before the match}:
>>>
These two have never played before, but it's likely that first-strike tennis will be the theme of their first meeting. The two women both have big serves (they are the top two on the ace leaderboard so far at this event, Vaidišová is second with 45; Williams is first with 47), and crack their groundstrokes with authority.

Although it might be argued that the Czech teenager comes in with more matches under her belt, nothing replaces the mental edge one would have with seven Grand Slam titles to her credit: Williams has two Australian Opens, two Wimbledons, two US Opens and one French Open.
<<<

www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com) {after the match}:
>>>
One of the WTA Tour's greatest players of all time, Serena Williams, declared at the beginning of the tournament she was ready to compete and the best was yet to come. Critics posed questions but the American made it a reality - on a sunny Thursday in Melbourne, she reached the Australian Open final with a resonant semi-final victory over Nicole Vaidišová.

Williams was the first to reach Saturday's final, coming back from behind several times in the first set and holding off a late surge in the second to notch a 7-6(5) 6-4 semifinal win over No.10 seed Vaidišová.

There were a handful of times early on where it seemed like Vaidišová would be holding the upper hand in the match. She broke in the very first game and went up 2-0; she also had a chance to serve out the first set at 5-4, even holding a set-point. But Williams fought back every time, saving that set-point with a massive crosscourt forehand and racing out to a 5/2 lead in the tie-break. Although she allowed the Czech teenager to rally back to 5/5, she finally closed it out after a big backhand winner and a forehand into the net from her opponent.

The American carried that momentum through the beginnings of the second set in a big way, rapidly going ahead 5-1; but things wouldn't end so easily. Slowly, Vaidišová began rediscovering the range on her serves and groundstrokes. First she managed to duck out of a 0/40 deficit while serving 3-5, saving four match-points along the way, then pushed harder in the last game of the match, saving a fifth match-point with a huge crosscourt backhand winner. But Williams ended the proceedings with a forehand volley into the open court on her sixth.
<<<

Associated Press:
>>>
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, weathered Vaidišová's powerful forehands and gave back plenty of her own, sometimes surprising the 17-year-old Czech player with her speed around the court and the pace of her ball.

After leading 5-1 in the second, she needed six match-points before sealing it with an overhead.

"Yahooo!" she said, laughing and celebrating the win.
<<<

BBC Sport:
>>>
Vaidišová accelerated into a two-game lead at the start of the first set as Williams struggled to find her range.

But the seven-time Grand Slam winner broke back in the sixth game as unforced errors began to creep into Vaidišová's game.

Williams built a 5/1 lead in the subsequent tiebreak, and held on to take the set despite being pegged back by her teenage opponent.

When she roared into a 5-1 lead in the second set, the result seemed a foregone conclusion - only for Vaidišová to rally to 5-4 after saving three match-points in the ninth game.

But Williams' experience and superior consistency then saw her home, a heavily-sliced ace and crunching volley at the net sealing her win.
<<<

Bren O'Brien at www.australianopen.com: (http://www.australianopen.com:)
>>>
Vaidišová got a break in the opening game of the match, before Williams snatched it back in the sixth game. The Czech teenager then broke again and she served for the set in the tenth game.

But Williams rescued a set-point and took it to a tiebreaker, where she won the first four points. Vaidišová rallied to square it at 5/5, but cost herself the set with a forehand into the net when Williams had set-point.

The first three games of the second set went against serve, before Williams held for a 3-1 lead. A crucial double fault in Vaidišová's next service-game handed Williams another break, and she soon had a grip on a spot in the final with a 5-1 advantage. The Czech held her next service-game, and then got a break back with sensational backhand winner which left the American flat-footed.

The brave 17-year-old then saved four match-points in her next service-game, getting the scoreline back to 4-5. She rescued another as Williams served for the match, before Williams finally sealed it with an overhead smash.
<<<

Paul Gough at www.australianopen.com: (http://www.australianopen.com:)
>>>
Williams again dispelled any doubts about her fitness as she was forced to work hard in her semi-final win as 17-year-old Vaidišová - appearing in her first Australian Open semi-final - broke Williams in the first game of the match.

The tall Czech then served for the first set at 5-4, but Williams broke back before claiming the set in a tiebreaker 7-5.

And when Williams broke Vaidišová twice in the second set to race to a 5-1 lead, the match appeared over.

But despite winning just 22% of points on her second serve in the second set, Vaidišová fought back, breaking Williams when she served for the match in the eighth game, before saving four match-points to hold serve in the ninth game.

Williams was still up a break however, and in the tenth game finally served the match out, clinching victory on her sixth match-point.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
Comeback-queen Williams proved that she still belonged among the elite, and doused the youthful exuberance of Czech 10th seed Nicole Vaidišová 7-6 6-4 with a ruthless exhibition of power-hitting.

She needed six match-points to kill off the plucky challenge of Vaidišová, and greeted her moment of triumph by arching backwards before letting out an almighty roar of relief.
<<<

Reuters:
>>>
Serena Williams powered past Czech teenager Nicole Vaidišová 7-6 6-4 to reach the Australian Open final for the third time on Thursday.

The unseeded American - Melbourne Park champion in 2003 and 2005 - edged a first-set tiebreak and thwarted a late fightback from the 10th seed in the second to win through in an hour and 46 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams, the former world number one who stands at 81st in the rankings after a 2006 season blighted by injury, saved a set-point in the ninth game of the first, before wrapping up the tiebreak 7/5.

The 17-year-old Czech looked edgy after the setback of losing the first set, but recovered from 5-1 down in the second to give Williams a fright before the seven-times Grand Slam winner served out for victory on her sixth match-point.
<<<

Miles Evans (Reuters):
>>>
Williams, the former world number one who stands at 81st in the rankings after a 2006 season blighted by injury, made a slow start on her first Grand Slam semi-final appearance since she won at Melbourne Park two years ago.

Vaidišová, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, won Williams's opening service-game with a crunching forehand winner, and confidently held her own serve for a 2-0 lead.

But Williams soon found the pace and aggression that had seen off four seeds this week, and a nervy double fault from Vaidišová helped her level at 3-3.

NET CORD

A huge net cord gave the Czech another break for a 5-4 lead and she missed out on her only set-point in the next game before she was broken herself after netting a loose backhand.

Williams edged ahead 6-5 courtesy of an ace, and a confident hold from the Czech forced a tiebreak.

Williams raced into a 4/1 lead, but at 5/2 served two double faults to give her opponent a chink of hope.

But an easy putaway, accompanied by a triumphant scream, gave Williams set-point at 6/5, and she won it after 58 minutes when Vaidišová netted a high forehand.

Williams eased into a 5-1 lead in the second set and seemed on course for an easy victory - three double faults in game #5 from Vaidišová helping the American secure a double break.

But the Czech dug deep and saved four match-points in game #9 before holding to make Williams serve out for the match at 5-4.

Williams had used up all her Hawk-eye challenges when a wide forehand from Vaidišová on her fifth match-point was called good, but the American made no mistake when she punched away a forehand volley to seal victory on match-point #6.
<<<

Paul Alexander, Associated Press Writer:
>>>
Williams sprinted ahead 4/0 in the tiebreaker, then doubled-faulted on consecutive points as Vaidišová rallied to tie it at 5. Grunting louder with each shot, Williams whacked a backhand crosscourt winner to get a set-point, then growled loudly when Vaidišová then hit a forehand into the net.

Williams jumped ahead 5-1 in the second set. Vaidišová broke her as she served for the match to pull within 3-5, then fended off four match-points in the next game.

Serving again to finish it off, Williams lost match point No. 5 when Vaidišová hit a backhand cross-court winner. Williams started to celebrate, thinking the ball was out, then clearly wanted to question the no-call but had used up her challenges already.

She fired an ace on a second serve to set up match point No. 6. and cashed this one.
<<<

PA SportsTicker:
>>>
After opening the match with a service break, Vaidišová took advantage of a shot that clipped the net and bounced off the sideline for another break to take a 5-4 lead in the first set.

However, Williams fought off a set-point and broke back in the next game to tie the set, and she overcame back-to-back double faults to capture the tiebreaker.

Trailing 5-3 in the second set, the 17-year-old Vaidišová rallied from four match-points on her serve to prolong the match.

In the next game, Williams thought she won the match when Vaidišová hit a shot that video replays showed to be wide by about one inch. However, Williams could not ask for a review because she had used her two challenges earlier in the set.

Undaunted, Williams served an ace, and smacked an overhead at the net on the next point to take the match in 1 hour, 46 minutes.
<<<

Neil Sands (Agence France Presse):
>>>
An ultraconfident Serena Williams battled into the Australian Open final, downing Czech teenager Nicole Vaidišová to keep her remarkable comeback alive.

Williams, the winner here in 2003 and 2005, set up a Grand Slam decider with top seed Maria Sharapova after staving off a determined challenge to beat Vaidišová 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.

The 25-year-old American was overjoyed to earn a shot at an eighth major title Saturday and a chance to become the first unseeded player to win the championship since 1978.

But Williams, whose world ranking has dropped to 81 as she returns from a long injury lay-off, said she always knew she would get back to the top, even though critics had written her off as unfit.

Williams had to graft for the win as her 17-year-old opponent staged a spirited late comeback but hung on to claim victory in one hour 46 minutes.

Williams dismissed as "outrageous" a suggestion from the host broadcaster Channel Seven that a teenaged boy in her box was using his watch to reflect sunlight into Vaidišová's eyes as she served.

Vaidišová said she never noticed any reflection, and Tennis Australia denied a report it was investigating the alleged incident.

The Czech tenth seed came into the game vowing not to be intimidated by Williams, and gained a huge confidence-boost when she broke her opponent in the first game.

The teenager was not afraid to play her shots, hitting crosscourt winners and wrong-footing Williams a number of times.

Williams weathered the storm, and broke back after attacking Vaidišová's second serve.

She was a picture of steely concentration, showing none of the rollercoaster of emotions that have been on display in her previous outings here this year.

Williams needed her big-match experience when the first set went to a tiebreak, and she blew a 5-1 lead, allowing Vaidišová to level at 5-5 before steadying her nerves and taking the set.

She seized the momentum with two early breaks, with Vaidišová breaking back only to gift Williams a break with two double faults.

Williams grabbed the opportunity and raced away to a 5-1 lead before Vaidišová staged a late fightback to claw her way back to 5-4, saving four match-points in the process.

She should have lost on a fifth match-point, but her return was incorrectly called in, and Williams was powerless to question the decision as she had run out of challenges that allow a player to use the Hawk-Eye system to check calls.

Williams made no mistake on the sixth match-point to keep alive her fairytale return.
<<<

Rohan Sullivan, Associated Press Writer:
>>>
Nicole Vaidišová reported no problems during her loss in the Australian Open semi-finals after a fan of Serena Williams was reportedly caught reflecting the glare off his watch into her eyes during the match.

A local TV broadcaster pointed out a man, sitting in Williams' players box, moving his watch around at various times and reflecting the sun onto the court.

Vaidišová said she didn't notice anything that would have distracted her from the match.

The issue was raised by respected television commentator John Barrett, who said flashes of glare were coming off the watch-face of a man sitting in front of Williams' mother, Oracene.

"It is an extraordinary coincidence that whenever Vaidišová is serving, that youngster seems to be getting [the sunlight] into the eyes of Vaidišová," Barrett said.
<<<

Reuters:
>>>
Semi-final opponents Serena Williams and Nicole Vaidišová laughed off a claim that a member of the American's entourage was trying to put off the Czech in their match at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Williams beat the 17-year-old 10th seed 7-6 6-4 for a place in her third final at Melbourne Park, but both were taken aback by claims made on a local television-channel that a male supporter in Williams's box was using the sun's reflection in his watch to distract Vaidišová.

The governing body of women's tennis (WTA), the International Tennis Federation (ITF) - who run the Grand Slams - and Tennis Australia, said no complaint had been received, and they would not be investigating the incident.

Television pictures showed the sun reflecting off the supporter's watch, and the commentators suggested it was more than 'coincidence' the reflection appeared when Vaidišová was serving.
<<<

If you /really/ want to dazzle someone at that range, you need to use a proper mirror rather than a mere watch-face! ;-) I remember Thomas Muster complaining that a hostile Davis Cup crowd were doing that to him.


4.2 Scores
----------

I caught up with live scores using the following thread:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=282605&page=6 (pp.6-70)

Apparently Williams was warming up with a one-handed backhand!

The match started at 14:09 AEST.


First set
---------
VAIDIŠOV @* *___*@__*_ 6(5)
WILLIAMS __* *@*__@* T 7(7)

Williams serving 0-0: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30, 40/40. Nicole backhand winner. Ad Nicole (BP), Deuce #2, ad Nicole (BP #2), broken.

jerk-in-the-box: "Well from the start Serena doesn't seem to be moving that well."

Nicole serving 1-0: 15/0. Ace. 30/0, 30/15, 40/15 -> 40/40. Williams backhand error. Ad Nicole, held.

mrserenawilliams: "Serena looking tentative"
Becool: "Serena making easy mistakes"

Williams serving 0-2: 0/15, 15/15, 30/15. Williams forehand error. 30/30, 40/30. Ace.
Nicole serving 2-1: 0/15. Return-winner. 0/30 -> 40/30, held.
Williams serving 1-3: held to love.
Nicole serving 3-2: 0/15, 15/15, 15/30. Double fault. 15/40 (2 BPs), 30/40. Ace #2. 40/40, ad Williams (BP #3), broken.

Williams serving 3-3: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15. Ace #2. 40/15, held.
Nicole serving 3-4: 15/0. Double fault #2. 15/15, 15/30, 30/30 (or 15/40?), 30/40 (BP), 40/40, ad Nicole, held.
Williams serving 4-4: Double fault. 0/15, 30/15. Nicole forehand winner. 30/30. Nicole forehand winner down the line. 30/40 (BP), broken.

Nicole serving 5-4: Ace #3. 15/0. Double fault #3. 15/15, 30/15, 30/30, 30/40 (BP). Ace #4. 40/40, ad Nicole (SP #1), Deuce #2, ad Williams (BP #2), broken.

Tennisaddict: "She is like a female Berdych. Strong serve forehand combo.
"Rena only plays aggressive on breakpoints and stuff :fiery: Do it all the time."

Williams serving 5-5: 0/15. Ace #3. 15/15, 15/30, 40/30, 40/40, ad Williams. Ace.

Becool: "SERENA IS SO SLOW.."

jerk-in-the-box: "Like someone said before, its like serena only plays aggressively when she has to then just sits back and does enought o let Nicole make an UE. It may be working to keep her in the match but it certainly wont win it."

Nicole serving 5-6: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, held.

Derek: "Great forehand! Nicole is not choking. She's still going for her shots."

6-6 tiebreak (all scores Vaidišová/Williams): 0/4*, *1/4, *1/5, 2/5*. Two double faults! *4/5, *5/5, 5/6* (Williams SP #1). Nicole made an unforced error. Williams won the first set 7-6 (7/5) at 15:07 (58 minutes).

BK4ever {at 1/5}: "Now Nic being too impatient...going for too much too early"


Second set
----------
VAIDIŠOV _@____*@*_ 4
WILLIAMS @ @*@*___* 6

Nicole serving 0-0: Double fault #4. 0/15, 0/40 (3 BPs), broken.

Derek: "1st serve has deserted her."

Williams serving 1-0: 0/30. Ace #5. 15/30, 15/40 (2 BPs) -> 40/40, ad Nicole (BP #3). Ace #6. Deuce #2, ad Nicole (BP #4), broken.

Derek: "Nicole keeps dictating."
:tOMMYbOY:: "gorgeous play from nicole. :hearts:"
Becool: "Serena Being Too Passive Again"

Nicole serving 1-1: 15/0, 15/15, 15/30, 30/30, 30/40 (BP), broken.

:tOMMYbOY:: "nicoles raquets are getting a beating."
BK4ever: "Nicole needs to be more patient. She is trying to hit every second ball for a winner."
GPlayer21: "Wow, this has been a really high quality match but, I notice that Serena is winning hte longer rallies. Nicole wants these points short and sweet. WHo else agrees?"

Williams serving 2-1: 30/0, 30/15, 40/15, 40/30, held.
Nicole serving 1-3: 0/15. Ace #5. 15/15, 40/15. Double faults #5 and #6. 40/40. Forehand return-winner. Ad Williams (BP). Double fault #7.

Williams serving 4-1: 15/0, 15/15, 30/15. Aces #7 and #8.
Nicole serving 1-5: 0/15. Nicole forehand winner. 15/15, 15/30, 40/30. Ace #6.

Good serving from 15/30 in that game. The 'gagarooney' begins! :-)

Williams serving 5-2: 15/0, 15/15. Ace #9. 30/15, 30/40 (BP), broken.

:tOMMYbOY:: "omg WHAT a shot nicole. :hearts:"

Nicole serving 3-5: Nicole made a "pathetic" backhand error. 0/15, 0/30. Williams "GIGANTIC forehand". 0/40 (3 MPs) -> 30/40. Nicole got a lucky netcord to save the third match-point. 40/40, ad Nicole. Williams lob-winner. Deuce #2, ad Williams (MP #4), Deuce #3. Williams hit a ball just out, and made an incorrect challenge. Ad Nicole, held.

Williams serving 5-4: 30/0 -> 30/30, 40/30 (MP #5). I gather that Nicole saved it with a great shot! 40/40. Ace #10 at 124mph. Ad Williams (MP #6), Williams won 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 at 15:55 (second set 48 minutes, match 1h46m).


4.3 Nicole quotes
-----------------

"I think she used her chances much better. She's definitely a great champ - she played the tight points very well. I had my opportunities and I didn't use them. That was the big difference.

"I needed to keep the ball in play much more than I did. I was trying to go for a winner or easy shot too early. I think that was a little mistake."

[Re. the attempts to dazzle her with a watch-face]
"I didn't see that. I tried to focus, not pay attention to anything. I really didn't notice that."

[Re. Williams's grunting]
"I'm used to it. There's a lot of players who grunt a little too much. But I just, you know, like I said, I try to focus on my game, not really pay attention. I think after a couple of points, you kind of shut it out. No, it didn't distract me."


4.4 Williams quotes
-------------------

{before the match}

"We'll both kind of have the feeling - we both are starting at 0-0 and we're going to go at it. I'm just happy to be playing again. Most of all, I'm happy I won't be ranked #81 anymore. That's how this one ends. Whatever happens, I'm ready to compete for the rest of the year and years to come."


{after the match}

"She played some incredible points on match-point, she just got relaxed - she reminded me a bit of myself.

"I love doubters. I have a lot of people even close to me who doubt. More than anything, what I love, besides obviously winning, is proving people wrong. Ever since I was young - even when I came out on Tour - it was 'Venus, Venus, Venus, Venus.' Oh, and the little sister. My whole goal in life was just to prove people wrong. And that's one thing I enjoy so much.

"I think that's something that I thrive on - people that don't believe. I think it just gives me strength. At the end of the day, it is something that helps me, which is awesome.

"I can't believe it. That's awesome! For me, it's always been important to play my match and my game. I think if I play well - which I don't think I've even reached yet at all in this tournament - it's really hard for anyone on the women's tour to beat me.

"My stamina, my mental ability, my sheer desire. I played a couple of good matches but I definitely haven't peaked.

"I would say I am happy, more than anything. It's not astonishing or surprising. Definitely something I have always expected.

"This rates really high in my list of achievements - especially with /my/ ranking. This is the lowest I've been ranked getting into a Grand Slam final. I think more than anything, that's really exciting. I just love the competition and love the game.

"I've always been mentally strong. I think probably mentally stronger than a lot of players on the Tour. I think for me, tennis has always been 80% mental. I think if you can get a grasp on that, then I've always had a grasp on that. I've believed in myself more than anyone. Even though it was hard, I really believed in me and in my game.

"I just relax when I get down. You know, I just become really /calm/ more than anything. And I just play some of my best tennis. And sometimes I try to pretend that I'm down - even though it really never works - so I can get into that mental space that I'm in when I am down.

"I know maybe what are my opponent's weaknesses are going into the match, but I don't focus on, 'Okay, I'm going to hit three balls to the backhand and I'm going to hit one over here.' I don't do that. That's too much thinking in it. Serena Williams is not a thinker; Serena Williams is a tennis-player. Got that?

"I'm like a chameleon. I can kind of change and get my game going to whatever the situation is. I kind of adapt to all situations.

"I just tried to stay focused and calm. It was great. I'm excited [about the final], I have nothing to lose, I'm having a lot of fun. I'm back in the top twenty and that means so much.

"I definitely felt I could have played better today, which is really encouraging: that I know I can do even better than what I'm doing now."

[Re. Hobart]
"No comparison. I was really excited that I went ahead to play Hobart because I was really rusty, and I can see the rust shedding from my game literally. I'm excited that I went there, because I would have hated to start two or three matches [here] the way I did in Hobart.

"I think whenever you've come back, you take two or three weeks off from not playing matches, you're still practising, you go to a match, you get sore, because in matches you do things totally different from when you're at practice. In Tasmania I was a little sore because I hadn't had the match-play. After that went away...

"I definitely am more fit now, 'cause I had a little more time to do some off-court stuff after Tasmania. Playing some long matches here, I don't know how much."

[Re. losing to Sybille Bammer at Hobart]
"I was really upset that I lost. Maybe it was for the best, because I was able to come here. The weather was warmer here. In Tasmania, it was really cold. I was able to come here and enjoy some warm weather. Maybe it was for the best.

"I was really angry. I just felt like I should have won. These girls are treeing on me. It was really frustrating. Like I said, maybe it was 'divine intervention,' I don't know."

[Re. taking advantage of "inexperienced" players to reach the final]
"I think Petrova was really experienced. And you might not know it, but these girls play a lot more tournaments than I play. Like Vaidišová: I think she has been in a semi-final before, and she has played probably twice as many tournaments last year alone than I have in the past two years. Petrova obviously is No. 5. She's played really well. Shahar Peer who honestly played me so tough. She's played so many tournaments. Trust me, she has a lot of experience.

"In general, all the players I have played, I think they have had a lot of experience and they are good players. They weren't easy pushovers. Obviously, Jelena Janković, she's been having some great results. It hasn't been an easy road. I've only played one player that wasn't seeded.

"So finals-experience, I think they have had opportunities to be in the finals just like I have. I just make that extra step to get there."

[Re. 5-1 to 5-5 in the second]
"I almost did a 'gagarooney' there. Basically, you know, gagging."

[Re. the attempts to dazzle Nicole using a watch-face]
"Ha, ha, ha, ha. That's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard. As if anyone would do that on purpose! That's so funny."

[Oh, they would, Serena, believe me!]

"No one saw the glare. I never saw the glare. If anything, it would have affected /me/. I never saw the glare. Vaidišová said she never saw the glare. What more is there to say? As of now, I'm not answering any more questions about a God-dang watch!"

----------------
5. Final preview
----------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Serena Williams (DAVAI MARIA!!)

Before the tournament started, I would never have believed that Williams was going to reach the final. She came in ranked #81, having lost to Sybille Bammer at Hobart! But she'll jump back up to #18 on Monday - #14 if she wins the final.

But she won't do that, because Maria is a massive step up from any of the opponents that Williams has beaten en route to the final. Maria has risen to the occasion in both her previous Grand Slam finals, and will rip Williams up like Freddy Krueger would a scarecrow made of straw.

Even if Maria doesn't "step it up" for the final, I can still see her beating an out-of-shape Williams handily on the form she was in against Vera Zvonarëva (the only Maria-match I've seen so far this AO, thanks to the BBC's reprehensible lack of women's coverage).

Williams at her peak was awesome - like an unsinkable buoy, all power and supreme athleticism. But when you've fallen as low and for as long as she has, you can't just get back up there overnight - not to the level required to beat one of the only three players who had a chance of winning this tournament when it started!

A victory for Williams would be unbelievable, so I believe in Maria.

Maria's route to the final:
1r + Camille Pin, 6-3 4-6 9-7
2r + Anastassia Rodionova, 6-0 6-3
3r + TATHIANA GARBIN [30], 6-3 6-1
4r + VERA ZVONARËVA [22,EF], 7-5 6-4
qf + ANNA CHAKVETADZE [12,EF], 7-6 (7/5) 7-5
sf + KIM CLIJSTERS [4], 6-4 6-2

Williams's route to the final:
1r + MARA SANTANGELO [27], 6-2 6-1
2r + Anne Kremer, 7-6 (7/4) 6-2
3r + NADIA PETROVA [5], 1-6 7-5 6-3
4r + JELENA JANKOVIĆ [11], 6-3 6-2
qf + SHAHAR PEER [16], 2-6 6-2 8-6
sf + NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [10,EF], 7-6 (7/5) 6-4

Their head-to-heads are tied at 2-2:
- 2004 Miami 4r: Williams 6-4 6-3
+ 2004 Wimbledon final: Sharapova 6-1 6-4
+ 2004 WTA Tour Championships final: Sharapova 4-6 6-2 6-4
- 2005 Australian Open sf: Williams 2-6 7-5 8-6

In their last meeting, it was Maria who did a major 'gagarooney': she served for the match at 6-2 5-4, and again at 5-4 in the third, and squandered three match-points!

But Williams has not won a title since the Australian Open 2005, and has only beaten one top-ten player since - and that was #6-ranked Petrova in the third round here, who did a 'gagarooney' of her own from 6-1 5-3!

And the heat won't be a problem, either, with a high of 20°C forecast for Melbourne on Saturday. Extreme heat would favour Williams, who in her prime could handle it better than anyone - but I'm not so sure about now, when she's far from her best shape.


5.1 Articles
------------

www.mariasharapova.com: (http://www.mariasharapova.com:)
>>>
On Saturday, Maria will play her third Grand Slam final against unseeded Serena Williams of the United States at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Maria has a 13-game winning-streak in Grand Slams, and this is Maria's second consecutive Grand Slam final.

She reached this stage not without difficulties, battling the hot weather and tenacious opponents. At points, Maria wasn't playing her best tennis, but the fact that she always found a way to win shows how much she has matured in the past year.

It will be a difficult match. Serena Williams went to Melbourne without many expectations - she hadn't played since the US Open, and entered an small warm-up event to try to get some matches under her belt.

She surprised everyone by reaching the final, and that says a lot about her ability and mental strength.

Maria comes to this match as a favourite, but the result is by no means guaranteed. Williams showed what she is capable of, and all the pressure will be on Maria's side; she has always handled it very well, and hopefully she will again.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
While Sharapova will be the bookmakers' favourite for the title, seven-times Grand Slam champion Williams will have the crowd on her side after her stunning passage to Saturday's showpiece match.

On Saturday, she will be aiming to become only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian Open crown in the professional era, after Chris O'Neill achieved the feat in 1978.

To do that she will have to overcome the mighty challenge of world number one elect Sharapova as she looks to win the one major trophy that has so far slipped through the grasp of the Russian women.
<<<

Luke Buttigieg for www.australianopen.com: (http://www.australianopen.com:)
>>>
With their head-to-head ledger locked at 2-2, Russian No.1 seed Maria Sharapova and two-time champion Serena Williams look set for a battle royal in Day 13's women's singles final at Australian Open 2007.

They may have reached the decider in contrasting fashion, with Sharapova looking by far the more impressive as she has improved with each outing, but Williams has had to dig deeper throughout to stay alive, and is now match-hardened.

Her chances of reaching the final and a chance at a third Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy may have been doubted by many before the tournament began, but 2003 and 2005 champion Williams has taken much delight in proving her detractors wrong.

But to take the final step and actually break through for her first title-win since her last Melbourne Park triumph a couple of years ago, Williams will have to step her game up another level against her younger, fitter rival.

<snip>

Notable in the previous meetings between the pair is that Sharapova has won both finals they've contested, when she won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, and also when she came from behind to triumph in three sets in the WTA Tour Championships later that year.

But in their only previous clash at Melbourne Park it was Williams who got the job done in the semi-finals two years ago. Sharapova had match points that day before Williams came from a set down to advance 2-6 7-5 8-6.

Regardless of their history on court, Sharapova says she has 'played her enough times to know her strengths and weaknesses' and that she is acutely aware that Williams will punish her if she doesn't make the most of her opportunities.
<<<

5.2 Maria quotes
----------------

"Serena came into this tournament without any expectations. She is playing great tennis, and she has won many of these titles before, but I will look forward to playing her.

"We've always had pretty good battles, exciting matches. I definitely enjoy the fight against her.

"I've seen bits and pieces of some of her matches, you know, but I've played her enough times to know her strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, it's not about my opponent - it's about me.

"Physically, I feel good. It's normal to be sore in some spots after playing six matches on Rebound Ace. I expect that when I go into a tournament. But that's normal. I've dealt with it before.

"I think I'll have to serve well, obviously, against her. She has a big serve. That's one of her biggest weapons. High percentage of first serve. Not letting her get a look at too many second serves.

"I'm trying to move /all/ my opponents around. There's not one opponent that I'm going to say I'm going to guide the ball in the middle and let her make errors. I'm the player that's going to win the match or lose it myself.

"I know I say this all the time, but it's also about chances. Taking the chances when you have them - especially against an experienced player like her. If you let too many get away, the more you're going let the match slip away.

"If you've played the opponent before and seen the opponent before, you know the strengths and weaknesses. You know what shots work well for you, and what shots work well for them.


"But really at the end of the day, I mean, when you go on court you've got to realise for yourself. I mean, I'm not really the type of player that's going to go into the match having two pages list of strategies. That's not really the way I play.

"I go into my matches knowing what I can do to beat my opponent, and my opponent's weakness and what I can attack. But for me, it's all about instinct: trying to realise it out there.

[Re. mental strength]
"A lot of the opponents I play are probably ten times physically stronger than I am. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to beat me. I have a lot more players in the game [who] have a lot more variety than I do, or are more smarter, or have better qualities or something. But I feel the mind has a lot to do with it. The mind controls the body - that's my theory.

"I don't necessarily think during the match that they're stronger than me. When I go into a match, I know what I'm capable of. I know what tennis I can provide. I know how good I can play, and what I can do on court, and that's the only thing I worry about.

"I don't think about how good the player across the net is. When you start thinking like that, your chances of winning are slim to none!"

[Re. her path to the final]
"It has been good and bad in a way. Because I feel like I got through my first round in a very tough way. When you get through a match like that, you're not sure if you're going to be physically ready to compete at the best level. Fortunately I was able to recover well, and get through to the next match.

"I didn't feel like I was playing my best tennis [in the early rounds]. I felt like against Kim [Clijsters in the semi-finals] it was a little bit of a turnaround. I felt a lot better out there, and felt like I did the right things at the right time and played good tennis, which gives me a lot of confidence going into the final.

"But it's going to be different ballgame in the final."

[Re. winning the US Open 2006]
"When you look back and you think that you were able to beat Amélie [Mauresmo], and come back and sort of provide the same sort of tennis the next day, yeah. It gives you a lot of confidence."

[Re. beating Serena in the Wimbledon 2004 final]
"Completely different. That was my first Grand Slam final. From the quarter-final on, I was going into every single match thinking I was booking a plane-ticket the next day.

"I was just out there enjoying - obviously, I'm /still/ enjoying the way things have gone here. But there, I was surprising myself with every single match. I didn't think that I was ready to beat Lindsay, to come back from a set and a break down against Lindsay and beat her, and then beat Serena in the final. Never thought I was ready to do that!

"Now, I kind of more expect it for myself."

[Re. losing to Serena at the Australian Open 2005]
"It was just a loss in my career. It was just one match that I lost. Like I said, I had the opportunities to be in another Grand Slam final - I didn't take them. I've had wins against her. I've had losses against her. That was just a loss.

"I've had an extra couple years of experience since then. With the passing years I feel more confident, a more experienced player. I feel like I belong out there. and I feel like I can beat the top players day in, day out. Physically I'm a lot stronger. I'm able to come back and beat top players."

[Or even #81-ranked finalists! ;-)]

"I'm going to be playing against a player who didn't expect too much coming into the tournament, so that makes her a dangerous opponent. I think she has nothing to lose - those are always dangerous opponents.

"When you don't play for many tournaments - and she only played a few last year - I don't think you go into a tournament... obviously your /desire/ is to win it, but you don't really /expect/ too much from yourself. I think that's why she's been improving with every match. She gained confidence from coming back from tough matches. Here she is in the final.

"It's hard in a way that I haven't played her for a while. But you just have to play your game, and have a game-plan. It's the final of a Grand Slam, and it's not going to be easy.

"Serena is improving with every match, gaining confidence. I'm not surprised she has got this far. Sometimes people play their best tennis when they least expect to.

"She has won many more titles than me, but I'm looking forward to catching up. I had a tough one here a couple of years ago with her, and I'm looking forward to my rematch.

[Re. nerves]
"I've been in two [finals] before, so no. I mean, it's normal to realise that you are in a Grand Slam final. It's normal to have butterflies. Unless you're a robot, you know, just it's absolutely normal. But I think it's the way you handle it - the way you go about it on the court tomorrow.

"I think the finish is going to be a lot more important than the start, to be honest. I'd rather have a terrible start and win the match than have a great start and lose it. With any opponent - it doesn't matter who it is, first round or final or anyone I play - it's always important to let them know that you're there from the beginning of the match."


5.3 Williams quotes
-------------------

"I'm not nervous, I'm just relaxed.

"It's nice to be back in a Grand Slam final. I'm playing really hard. I'm fighting really hard. It's awesome to be back.

[What parts of Maria's game can give you the most trouble?]
"All parts of it!

"She's absolutely improved since 2004. She's definitely playing a lot bette - more /consistent/ more than anything. I thought she played excellent yesterday [in the semi-finals]. That's how you have to do. Champs always pick it up in the last two rounds. She's shown she was able to do that. We have to see."

[Re. her two potential opponents in the final]
"Actually both of them get a lot of balls back: Kim because she's so fast, and Maria because she's so tall. She reminds me of Venus because she just reaches balls. It's kind of unfair, because they just got that extra height. I think they both have really solid serves. You know, they're both very mentally tough.

"I am the ultimate competitor. I've always been mentally strong. I think probably mentally stronger than a lot of players on the Tour. I think if you can get a grasp on that, then I've always had a grasp on that. I've believed in myself more than anyone. Even though it was hard, I really believed in me and in my game.

"If I play well - which I don't think I've even reached yet at all in this tournament - it's really hard for anyone on the women's tour to beat me.

"My stamina, my mental ability, my sheer desire. I played a couple of good matches but I definitely haven't peaked. I always say I've got to get into the finals to peak. Hopefully that's what I'm doing.

"I got to make sure I'm playing well. Sometimes I have a tendency to shank a few balls, to mis-hit, not be on. If I'm on, it's tough.

"I don't think anyone thought I would get this far except me and my mom.

"I love doubters. I have a lot of people even close to me who doubt. More than anything, what I love, besides obviously winning, is proving people wrong. Ever since I was young - even when I came out on Tour - it was 'Venus, Venus, Venus, Venus.' Oh, and the little sister. My whole goal in life was just to prove people wrong. And that's one thing I enjoy so much.

"I think that's something that I thrive on - people that don't believe. I think it just gives me strength. At the end of the day, it is something that helps me, which is awesome.

"I'm excited [about the final]; I have nothing to lose; I'm having a lot of fun. I'm back in the top twenty, and that means so much.

"I got to make sure I'm playing well. I don't have anything to lose. That's always fun. I've had a lot of comebacks in this tournament. I went from rock bottom to 'hey, there she is again'.

"I wouldn't say it's an /astonishing/ achievement, because it's where I expect to be. But I rate this up with the highest achievements of my career, because this is the lowest I've been ranked in a long time, and it's great to get into a Grand Slam final with this ranking."

[Re. Hobart]
"No comparison. I was really excited that I went ahead to play Hobart because I was really rusty, and I can see the rust shedding from my game literally. I'm excited that I went there, because I would have hated to start two or three matches [here] the way I did in Hobart.

"I think whenever you've come back, you take two or three weeks off from not playing matches, you're still practising, you go to a match, you get sore, because in matches you do things totally different from when you're at practice. In Tasmania I was a little sore because I hadn't had the match-play. After that went away...

"I definitely am more fit now, 'cause I had a little more time to do some off-court stuff after Tasmania. Playing some long matches here, I don't know how much."

[Re. losing to Sybille Bammer at Hobart]
"I was really upset that I lost. Maybe it was for the best, because I was able to come here. The weather was warmer here. In Tasmania, it was really cold. I was able to come here and enjoy some warm weather. Maybe it was for the best.

"I was really angry. I just felt like I should have won. These girls are treeing on me. It was really frustrating. Like I said, maybe it was 'divine intervention,' I don't know."

[Re. losing to Daniela Hantuchová at the Australian Open 2006]
"I wasn't really here last year mentally at all. I probably shouldn't have come."


5.4 Kim Clijsters quotes
------------------------

"I think if she [Maria] plays the way that she has been playing - if she plays aggressive tennis, I think she's the favorite. Obviously she's played a lot more. She hasn't been injured.

"But I think Serena can win, too. I think with Serena in a final, you can never expect her to play bad tennis. I think she's going to come out here and fight till the last point. That's what she's done here so far. I think it's incredible to see how well she's doing."

------------------
6. Women's Doubles
------------------
6.1 Final (Friday 26th January)
---------

+ (CARA BLACK/LIEZEL HUBER)[3] d. Chan,Yung-Jan/Chuang,Chia-Jung, 6-4 6-7 (4/7) 6-1

It's nice to see that cute Cara got another Grand Slam title.

----------------
7. Mixed Doubles
----------------
7.1 Quarter-final (Thursday 25th January)
-----------------

+ Elena Likhovtseva/Daniel Nestor d. (SAMANTHA STOSUR/LEANDER PAES)[3], 7-6 (7/4) 6-1


7.2 Semi-final (Friday 26th January)
--------------

+ Elena Likhovtseva/Daniel Nestor d. (LIEZEL HUBER/KEVIN ULLYETT)[7], 6-2 7-5


7.3 Final (to be played on Sunday)
---------

* Elena Likhovtseva/Daniel Nestor v Victoria Azarenka/Max Mirnyi

-----------------
8. Girls' Singles
-----------------
8.1 Quarter-final (Thursday 25th January)
-----------------

+ ALIZÉ CORNET [6] d. Chelsey Gullickson, 6-0 6-3


8.2 Semi-final (Friday 26th January)
--------------

- ALIZÉ CORNET [6] lt. ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1], 6-7 (6/8) 1-6
- Ksenia Milevskaya lt. MADISON BRENGLE [16], 4-6 5-7


8.3 Final (to be played on Saturday - Margaret Court Arena)
---------

* ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1] v MADISON BRENGLE [16] (davai Anastasia!)

Full GS draw:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/gs/

---------------------------------
9. Men's Singles and Jelena Dokić
---------------------------------
9.1 Semi-final (Friday 26th January)
--------------

+ FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ [10] d. TOMMY HAAS [12], 6-1 6-3 6-1

González is the most exciting male tennis-player I've seen for several years. In an era when most men's tennis is a war of attrition, he made some amazing shots - particularly the running forehand pass at 6-1 6-3 3-1 (15/0)* - and it's so cool that the most entertaining player on the men's side is in the final! :-)

I didn't notice his girlfriend Gisela Dulko watching his semi-final, but I'll be watching the final /properly/, so hopefully I'll see her then! :hearts:

At 6-1 1-0 (30/15)*, the commentators had the following conversation about González' coach Larry Stefanki and Jelena Dokić:

John Lloyd: "Extraordinary to me to think that for two years, Stefanki didn't have another job-offer - apart from from Jelena Dokić. It looked like they were gonna have a temporary arrangement, and she pulled out at the last minute, about six months ago - what a mistake that was! Don't even know if she's even /playing/ any more."

(Haas swore in German - which I took to 'A' Level - and got away with it.)

Chris Bailey: "You're never quite sure, either, if you team up with Dokić, about your life-expectancy as a coach, or when the father might pop up on the scene and complain about the size of the salmon again!"

The last time Jelena played was at $10k ITF Ismaning in November 2006. On 21st January, she injured her wrist in training; on 24th January she tried to resume, but was forced to stop and to withdraw from ITF Ortisei (week of 29th January). She was advised to rest for ten days.
<http://www.itfvalgardena.com/?artid=213>


9.2 Final (to be played on Sunday at 19:30 AEST)
---------

* FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ [10] v ROGER FEDERER [1] (ˇvamos Fernando!)

------------------------------
10. Order of Play for Saturday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena (start 13:30 AEST = 02:30 GMT)
WS final: MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] v Serena Williams
MD final: (BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN)[1] v (JONAS BJÖRKMAN/MAX MIRNYI)[2]
BS final: Brydan Klein v JONATHAN EYSSERIC [2]

For UK viewers, there will be live coverage of the WS final on BBC One from 02:20 GMT, and extended highlights in Grandstand (BBC Two, 12:45 GMT: the tennis is from 12:50 to 14:00).

Full order of play:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/vaidi/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/

andrewbroad
Jan 30th, 2007, 12:54 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Rebound Ace); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos & videos
2. Final: Sharapova v Williams TV-report
3. Wooden-Spoon List
4. Mixed Doubles
5. Girls' Singles
6. Men's Singles
7. Jon Wertheim's parting-shots
8. WTA Singles Rankings

------------------
1. Photos & videos
------------------
1.1 Photos
----------

Maria Sharapova:
http://www.mariasharapova.com/ (the best photos from the final IMO, but you have to be clever to save them)
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=99305&page=537
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wtas961.html
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/galleries/ (Saturday 27 January)
http://www.tennis.info/AusOpen7.html (Women's Final)

Maria Sharapova added; Anna Chakvetadze still very cute!
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/?Event=melbourne_week2

Search Getty Images for "sharapova"


1.2 Videos
----------

Highlights of final + on-court interviews:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6299369.stm

Maria's final press-conference (she seems so sad):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKalvE69Zqs

More Maria-videos:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=221386&page=123 (and backwards)

----------------------------------------
2. Final: Sharapova v Williams TV-report (Saturday 27th January)
----------------------------------------

- MARIA SHARAPOVA [1,EF] lt. Serena Williams, 1-6 2-6

Well, I sure jinxed Maria with my arrogant prediction for this final, didn't I? :o

Sleigh-bells and snow
Send your colour-blazing glass
Some are bound to fail
Some will win too soon
Ahhh
[David Bowie, "Some Are"]

Maria had been considerably below her best form throughout the entire tournament - even in the semi-final against Clijsters, who was much worse.

Maria served very poorly by her own amazing standards, and she had two service-games (0-1 in the first, 0-2 in the second) where she led 40/15, only to serve two double faults and get broken. She also squandered two break-points (at 0-4 in the first, 0-1 in the second).

Maria looked nervous from the start, and shellshocked by the end, as Williams claimed her eighth - and by far the most improbable - Grand Slam Women's Singles title.

There's often a relationship between nerves and footwork, and I saw little evidence of Maria's vastly improved footwork that I observed last year. The weaknesses in her mobility were exposed on several occasions throughout the match.

But I never expected a performance like this from Serena Williams these days. I remember her beating up on Daniela Hantuchová in a Wimbledon quarter-final in 2002, when she was an unsinkable buoy of power and athleticism, but this Australian Open final was the best I /ever/ remember seeing her play.

Williams was hitting the ball extremely hard, as heavy as a shotput, hitting it early to take time away from Maria, forcing Maria to hit weak, defensive shots, exposing Maria's relative lack of mobility, and hitting winners almost at will. I felt like I was watching Williams of old - when she was #1 - dismantling an #81-ranked first-round opponent, rather than old Williams against next week's #1! :o

Williams always tries to play like that, but in her few tournaments in the last couple of years, she has tended to self-destruct in a hail of unforced errors. Today, I was just waiting for the storm to blow itself out, but it never did, so hats off to her.

All I can say is that Williams was too good today - for anyone. It would be interesting to put her up against Roger Federer in a best-of-three-sets match, because she hit the ball harder than he does!

Maria may have lost, but she was a beautiful loser. Her sleek, slender body was a stark contrast to the fat and muscular Williams, her dress was attractive, and the flower in her hair was a nice little fashion-statement IMO.

And she was ever so gracious in defeat - in contrast to the cocky, arrogant Williams. No retiring at 1-6 0-2 down for Maria!

Sometimes it takes a defeat to remind me how much I do love this girl.

And sometimes it takes such a comprehensive defeat to highlight the weaknesses that she can now go away and work on - such as better court-positioning, better retrieval-skills, a better net-game, and the ability to counter power such as Williams's using topspin and slice. In fact Federer said after the men's final that Fernando González had added a sliced backhand that made him very difficult to attack.

I am happy with Maria's Australian Open 2007 overall. She reached only her third-ever Grand Slam final - and her first at the Australian Open after two semi-final defeats - despite playing well below her best. She played two mouthwatering matches against the other Russian members of my Eternal Fanship, and to beat her old nemesis Clijsters comprehensively in the semi-finals was sweet. :-)

There are those who think that this loss will have such a devastating impact on Maria that she will never win another Grand Slam. I am not one of them. She bounced back well from losing 6-0 6-0 to Lindsay Davenport at Indian Wells 2005, and I expect her to do likewise after this.

The haters are clutching at straws if they think that this is going to burst Maria's bubble!


Articles
--------

www.wtatour.com:
>>>
The odds were stacked against her and few gave her a shot at the beginning of the fortnight, but she never stopped believing. And on Saturday that remarkable self-belief paid off: an 81st-ranked Serena Williams became one of the most unlikely Grand Slam champions in the history of the game, winning the Australian Open - her eighth major - with a 6-1 6-2 rout of top-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova.

The final was completely one-sided from start to finish. Williams took first-strike tennis to a whole new level, dominating her service and punishing her returns against a bewildered Sharapova, who got on the board only by holding in the sixth game of the match and won her only other games with two more holds late in the match.

Sharapova didn't play badly - she had only one more error than winner (12:13). But a fierce Williams just wouldn't let up, compiling a +17 differential (28:11).
<<<

Miles Evans (Reuters):
>>>
Sharapova, who suffered her first defeat in a Grand Slam final, had looked far from her best throughout the tournament, and her frailty and inability to change her game were cruelly exposed by the supremely athletic Williams.
<<<

Neil Sands (Agence France Presse):
>>>
Any doubts about her fitness were dispelled as she leapt around the court, charging to the net to bludgeon the ball past Sharapova.
<<<

Pritha Sarkar (Reuters):
>>>
The Russian looked like her feet had been super-glued to the Rebound Ace surface as she failed to produce a winner until the sixth game of the first set.
<<<

PA SportsTicker:
>>>
Williams entered this event unseeded because of a 2006 campaign that saw her play just four tournaments due to a left knee injury. But despite appearing out of shape, the 25-year-old American defeated five seeded players en route to reaching the final, then gave arguably the greatest performance of her career against Sharapova, who will take over the world's top ranking from Justine Henin-Hardenne on Monday.
<<<

Mark Hodgkinson for The Daily Telegraph (UK newspaper):
>>>
Williams also admitted that she suffered from depression last season. As well as still coping with the death of her sister, she has had to deal with her parents' divorce, and a court-case with a promoter who accused her, her sister Venus, and her father Richard, of failing to honour a contract to appear in an exhibition-match.

Serena was in court almost every day during the lengthy trial. The court judged that Richard had fraudulently represented Serena and Venus, but the sisters were cleared of any wrongdoing. Serena Williams has long said that "nobody knows what I go through off the tennis-court".
<<<

www.mariasharapova.com:
>>>
Maria wasn't serving well throughout the match, and it put her on the defensive right from the beginning, which is dangerous against a very good returner and it's not Maria's game to defend.
<<<

My match-report
---------------

This report was written in one take, as I watched it live, so please excuse any misquotes! Actually, I am rather certain that I misheard two of the quotes in my report, but rather than correct them at this stage, I think it's more fun to leave them in as an exercise for the reader to spot them. ;-)

Andrew Castle praised Maria: "The timing, the way she sweeps through the ball. She's liable to be the reliable one today."

On her way to the court, Maria made the following brief comment: "Yeah, this is the final; this is a different ball-game; I'm looking forward to it."

Both players looked kind of anxious to get to it!

I'm just trembling with excitement and the coldness of an English January at 2:30am right now! /Positive/ nerves and adrenaline for me.

The match was played with the roof closed due to rain, so we can't use that guy who was using his watch to shine the sun into Nicole Vaidišová's eyes as an excuse! ;-)

Maria won the toss and elected to receive. So she plans to take advantage of Williams's nerves and commit to a break of serve in the very first game. Otherwise, it can backfire if the set is serve-dominated and you're always having to catch up, and ultimately serve to stay in the set.

Chris Bailey: "These two are champions, and when it comes to the crunch, champions tend to produce their best."

Sue Barker and Andrew Castle tipped Maria for the big trophy - but only just!

Sam Smith: "Maria will be less nervous than Serena because she's just played in the final of the US Open."

The match started at 13:43 AEST.


First set
---------
SHARAPOV _____*_ 1
WILLIAMS *@*@* * 6

Chris Bailey: "The one thing that's kept Williams in this championship is her serve."

Williams serving 0-0: Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner. 15/0. Williams netted a forehand after a longish baseline-rally. 15/15. Maria defensive forehand lob just long - footwork? 30/15. Wide serve + backhand winner down the line - athleticism. 40/15. Ace down the middle.

Chris Bailey: "Scrapped through the early round and found her shape, her fitness."

Maria's opening gambit (electing to receive) has failed.

Maria serving 0-1: Williams overhit a backhand just long. 15/0. Williams forehand long by a whisker (no challenge). 30/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 30/15. Williams forehand return just long - two-handed? 40/15. Maria netted a forehand on the third stroke - let serve not called! Sam Smith: "Lack of mobility exposed." 40/30. Williams attacked a second serve with a crosscourt backhand return-winner. 40/40. Williams blasted a wild forehand return just long. Ad Maria. Double fault (second serve just wide). Deuce #2. Woefully short second serve... Maria crosscourt backhand wide. Ad Williams (BP). Maria netted a forehand after a longish rally.

What a horribly nerve-wracking game! 40/15 to 40/40, and two double faults. But she was 0-2 down in the US Open final, so I'm not too worried yet.

Sam Smith: "For me, this is a personality-contest out here - it's all about will. Both rags to riches, both brought up by parents who tell them every day, 'You can do it.'"

Williams serving 2-0: Maria netted a backhand return. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. A big serve + huge forehand induced Maria to net a backhand. 40/0. Serve + backhand volley-winner.

Williams looks so settled, and is overpowering Maria at the moment. I can't tell any differences from the dominating Williams of 2002 at the moment!

Sam Smith suggested that the pressure of expectation may be getting to Maria, as she's made an unsettled start.

Maria serving 0-3: Maria slugged an off-backhand just wide on the third stroke. 0/15. Williams hit a great angled return + crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. 0/30. Forehand return-winner onto the sideline. 0/40 (3 BPs). Williams forehand return-winner down Maria's forehand-sideline - absolutely on fire!

This could get very embarrassing, but Williams is simply playing too well so far. I have to admire her performance.

Sam Smith: "Two classes above Sharapova right now."

Williams serving 4-0: Ace out wide, clipped the outside edge of the sideline according to Hawk-Eye. 15/0. Williams just long. 15/15. Serve + forehand volley-winner. 30/15. Williams backhand just wide. 30/30. Williams netted a backhand. 30/40 (BP). Maria hit a makeable forehand return long. 40/40. Williams hit a delectable backhand drop-volley winner. Ad Williams. She netted a forehand. Deuce #2. Williams ran Maria ragged with a five-stroke spreading rally ending with a forehand volley-winner. Ad Williams. Maria forehand return very long.

Sam Smith: "Sharapova hasn't been able to find her rhythm and timing. And Williams has played the best five games of a Grand Slam final /ever/."

Maria serving 0-5: Maria drilled Williams with a forehand smash. Williams mouthed, "You'll pay for that!" 15/0. Maria opened the court with a crosscourt backhand just inside the sideline, and hit a backhand volley-winner. That's what she's got to do - make Williams move. 30/0. Williams blasted a forehand return wide. 40/0. Serve + crosscourt forehand winner. Maria emitted a high-pitched "c'mon".

I'm extremely relieved that Maria has avoided the double bagel. If Williams can keep up this form, then I cannot hope for a victory; I can only count the games that Maria can win. :o

Williams serving 5-1: Maria hit a deep crosscourt backhand winner down the middle - Williams let it go. 0/15. Williams hit a crosscourt forehand winner off a netcord. Sam Smith: "Power with control, terrific court-coverage and unbelievable focus." Service-winner. 30/15. Williams lined up a backhand winner down the line. 40/15 (2 SPs). Maria hit a big forehand virtual return-winner. 40/30 (SP #2). Service-winner. Williams won the first set 6-1 at 14:09 (26 minutes).

Sue Barker said Maria was in shock - just not forceful. But I can see that Williams is just hitting with unbelievable power, not letting her into the match.


Second set
----------
SHARAPOV ____* *_ 2
WILLIAMS @*@* * * 6

Maria serving 0-0: Double fault #3. 0/15. Williams blasted a forehand long. 15/15. Maria netted a grotesque forehand halfway up the net. 15/30. Maria's forehand clipped the netcord and fell back on her own side - even the luck going with Williams now. 15/40 (2 BPs). Maria caught her second-serve toss; Williams hit a backhand winner down the line.

The biggest disappointment for Maria so far is that she isn't matching Williams' serve with her own.

Williams serving 1-0: Maria forehand long. 15/0. Serve + crosscourt forehand winner. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0. Maria hit a good return, followed by an off-forehand winner. 40/15. Williams forehand just wide, just long. 40/30. Double fault. 40/40. And another - second serve hit the netcord and landed way long! Ad Maria (BP). Ace out wide. Deuce #2. Maria forehand long. Ad Williams. A body-jamming serve forced Maria to hit a backhand wide.

Maria has now lost both games in which she had break-points.

Sam Smith: "Sharapova just not getting any room to breathe."

Maria serving 0-2: A huge, early forehand return forced Maria to net a forehand - Maria's serve out wide to the forehand is getting too predictable. 0/15. Williams slugged a backhand return just wide. 15/15. Williams netted a backhand return. 30/15. Virtual ace down the middle. 40/15. Maria's second serve hit the netcord and landed very long. Fourth DF so far. 40/30. Maria forehand long. 40/40. Williams hit a stunning crosscourt backhand pass-winner when she was off-balance, on one foot! Ad Williams (BP). Second serve: Williams forehand return long & wide. Deuce #2. Maria forehand just long. Ad Williams (BP #2). Ace out wide, on the sideline. Deuce #3. Double fault #5. Ad Williams (BP #3). Maria netted a forehand after a long rally.

Another horrible service-game for Maria - again 40/15 to 40/40 with two double faults. And the possibility of a bagelstick remains. :o

Sam Smith: "Never seen her have so many problems with the ball-toss or net so many serves."

Chris Bailey: "The start that Williams had, has rocked Sharapova right down to her foundations, and she's never recovered."

Williams serving 3-0: Maria netted a forehand return. 15/0. Williams hit a stunning crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. 30/0. Williams netted a backhand. 30/15. Williams hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line, just inside the sideline. 40/15. Ace #5, down the middle.

Maria serving 0-4: Service-winner down the middle, in the corner. 15/0. Maria backhand wide. 15/15. Williams wild forehand return wide. 30/15. Maria came in behind a forehand down the line - dominating Williams for once. 40/15. Double fault. 40/30. Williams forehand return wide.

Phew! When she double-faulted at 40/15, I thought, "Here we go again!" No 6-1 6-0, but Williams loves to win 6-1 6-1.

Timariot: "Well, at least Sharapova won't get bagelled but it's a little consolation. She has no game plan and her only Plan B is to hit harder, and that won't help now. She needs to get Serena to move, but her first shots are too bad and often put her into instant disadvantage. Plus, she's helpless against Serena's first serve."
<http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=9907490>

Williams serving 4-1: Maria netted a tame forehand return. 15/0. Maria mishit a forehand return wide. 30/0. Williams spread Maria and hit a crosscourt forehand winner on the fifth stroke. 40/0. Maria hit a crosscourt backhand return-winner onto the sideline. 40/15. Maria forehand return just long: she challenged the serve, but it was good.

Sam Smith: "Taken so much time away from Sharapova, exposed her mobility."
Chris Bailey: "Most players /improved/ their mobility over the off-season, but she's come in with more muscle - more bulk."

Maria serving 1-5: Stung into action, Maria hit a thunderbolt of a crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Williams punished a pathetically short second serve with a forehand return-winner. 15/15. Ace out wide, on the sideline. 30/15. Williams netted a forehand return. 40/15. Maria was forced to hit a forehand lob long. 40/30. Ace down the middle (it was very close, but Williams didn't challenge).

Goodbye 6-1 6-1! :-)

Will we witness another 'gagarooney' from Williams now? It would be the most unbelievable recovery ever if Maria could win from 2-5* down, the way Williams has been serving!

Williams serving 5-2: Maria netted a forehand. 15/0. Ace out wide, on the sideline. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0 (3 CPs). Serve + off-backhand winner. Williams won 6-1 6-2 at 14:46 (second set 37 minutes, match 1h03m).

I can only admire Williams's performance. I never imagined that she could play like that today - I don't even think I've ever seen her play better!

Maria looks shellshocked, but I hope she doesn't let this affect her too much. She didn't play well - but she wasn't allowed to because Williams played almost perfectly.


Statistics
----------

Maria got only 51% of first serves in, and committed 6 double faults - that's the biggest disappointment, that the one aspect of the game she had control over, let her down. I think that's the intimidation of Williams's returns today - so early, so hard!

When Maria did get that first serve in, she won 67% of the points - only 26% when she didn't. Williams served much better, getting 67% of first serves in, winning 79% of the points when she did so, and 63% on second serve.

Williams served 7 aces and 2 double faults, Maria 3 aces and, like I said, 6 double faults. That makes Maria the double-fault leader of the tournament with 34 DFs - ahead of Elena Dementieva who served 33 DFs, albeit in only four matches.

Williams served much faster than Maria in all departments: fastest 197-183 km/h, average first serve 178-167 km/h, average second serve 149-139 km/h. Williams is the service-speed leader of the tournament as well as the ace-leader.

Maria's W:UE ratio was 12:13, Williams 28:11, which says that Williams did beat Maria much more than Maria beat herself. And Williams forced Maria into error 20 times, while Maria forced Williams into error 12 times.

In points, Williams won 61-35 (first set 28-15, second set 33-20).

Williams came to the net quite a bit more than Maria, winning 9 of 11 points (82%), while Maria won 5 of 6 points (83%).

Williams broke 4 times from 6 break-points (twice in each set), while Maria was unable to convert either of the 2 BPs she had (one in each set).

Overall, then, more positives for Williams than negatives for Maria. Maria just couldn't come up with the goods to repel firepower of that magnitude, but she could have made a much better match of it by serving well, instead of letting Williams take the initiative right at the start of almost every point.


Presentation-ceremony and BBC analysts' post-mortem
---------------------------------------------------

Andrew Castle said Maria would need to develop a Plan B, a sliced backhand, and a kick-serve to the backhand in the deuce-court, as the one out wide to the forehand is too predictable.

Maria sat on her chair, looking down at the court, looking utterly humbled, tears welling up in her eyes. It's so sad to see her this way, because I'm at the stage where I can take this defeat philosophically - I fear much worse things in life than losing a tennis-match.

Maria's runner-up speech:

"I hope a few more [words] than the games that I won today! Congratulate Serena - never underestimate her. A lot of people didn't expect her to be in the final, but I definitely did. She's a great champion; she's showed it many times. I look forward to playing her many more times - and winning a few, I hope! I wanna say thank you to all of you. I didn't know if I would get past my first round - we need a roof! I remember playing in the juniors, on the same day as the women's final. I dreamed I could come out here and perform on the big stage; unfortunately I'm not holding the big one. We have many more years to go; this is definitely not the end. I'd like to thank all my Russian fans - thank you for bringing out all the flags! I'd like to thank all the sponsors, Garnier. I look forward to coming back next year and winning the big one."

Williams' champion's speech:

"I don't know where to start! Thank my god Jehovah for blessing me and allowing me out here. Thank my mom - I've been a bad student, said some /bad/ things under my breath! Thank the rest of my camp for believing in me and never giving up. And the trainer - you saved me! I'd like to thank Maria for being a great sport, a great champion, a great attitude. I think she has a few more years than I do! She's always fighting to the end - that's what I like to see! I'd like to thank my dad, my sisters, just a few more - I'm enjoying this... Wilson, Nike for the great fit for both me and Maria! We're naughty girls. I'd like to dedicate this to my [deceased] sister Yetunde - I love you so much!"

At this point, she broke down in tears, and the speech was over. And I was worrying that Maria would break down when she had to give her speech!

Andrew Castle: "What I didn't understand was how /unfit/ she looked coming in! No one could see how motivated she was."
Sue Barker: "She's a natural athlete."
Andrew Castle: "Confidence is everything, and once those shots started flowing against Sharapova... the main reason Williams won was Williams."

Sue Barker: "It's back to the drawing-board for Sharapova. She needs to have a serious rethink, develop a Plan B."


Williams quotes
---------------

"Serena Williams, yeah, she's back. And this time she's staying.

"This one is right up there with the top. Even /I/ didn't expect to come in and win it all!

"I was driven. This morning I woke up and felt different - I felt good. I'm happy, I'm confident not nervous. It's an awesome feeling.

"I just went out there; I was focused. You know, I was really focused. I knew what I wanted to do. I'm insatiable. I still think there are things I could have done even better. I knew what I wanted to do when I went out there.

"My plan was to play my game and to stay relaxed - and I finally played it for the first time this tournament. I think if I can do that, and if I'm playing good, it's hard for anyone - it doesn't matter what they're ranked as long as they're on the women's tour, doesn't matter who they are - it's tough for them to beat me.

"That's how I was raised, to play that game of tennis. It's the Serena I've been trying to showcase for years and years: staying close to the baseline, playing aggressively. My mom and dad taught me to play that game. For some reason, I stay on the baseline.

"Like I said from the beginning: when I'm playing well, it's difficult for anyone to beat me - on the women's tour, just for the record! - because I have a unique style, a unique game. Tennis is what I was born to do."

[Re. off-court ordeals]
"It's definitely been tough. I think I've been there at the bottom of the barrel. I was that low, and that's what makes this awesome - that you could go that low, that you could lose faith, you could lose hope, and you could lose everything, and then you could just come back. I thank my god Jehovah for just helping me just to stay strong. I think that's really awesome.

"There's always times where you think, 'Am I ever going to be looking at another trophy?' Especially since I hadn't won a tournament - let alone a Grand Slam - in a long time. You're thinking about, 'Wow, will there be another time?' But since day one, my parents have always been so positive, Venus as well. They never stopped believing in me - and that helps /me/ believe in me.

"It was an awesome win because I had so many critics, so many people talking bad and saying negative things and saying I wasn't fit when I felt that I /was/ really fit, and could last three sets and two-and-a-half or three hours no worries. I actually did that throughout the tournament, so you tell me 'no' and I'll show you that I can do it.

"Because I'm larger in some areas than other girls - that I don't have a flat chest and a flat ass - people said I wasn't fit. I was looking in the mirror today, and it was just, like, my waist is still 28 inches and I think it's all because I have a large bosom and I have a large ass, excuse me. It always just looks like I'm bigger than the rest of the girls. I've been the same weight for I don't know how long, and I could lose 20 pounds and I'm still going to have these knockers - forgive me - and I'm still going to have this ass, and that's just the way it is."

^[For the record, /my/ perception of Williams as fat has nothing to do with the size of her breasts or bottom - her body is just /wide/]

"I'm definitely fit. I was fit for this tournament from day one. I ran into a lot of bumps: I had the worst blisters you can imagine, I got sick, I had stomach problems."

[Re. her third-round and quarter-final matches]
"I was pretty down and out against Petrova and Pe'er - they were really playing well. Contrary to popular belief, those two matches helped. I lost the first set in both matches. I had to come back physically and mentally, and that really helped. Thank God I was able to go through a rough road before I got to the final!

"I get the greatest satisfaction just holding up the Grand Slam trophy and proving everyone wrong.

"I would like to dedicate this win to my sister, who is not here any more: her name is Yetunde. My sister was the ultimate human being, she was so nice. Nicest person you'll ever meet. I just love her so much. I'll try not to be teary-eyed, but a couple of days ago, I said if I win this it will be for her, so thanks Yetunde.

"Every match I wrote notes. Today my note was just, 'Yetunde'. That was all my notes. That's it. Usually I write, 'Look at the ball, move forward, do this, do that.' Today I just had one word. You know, every changeover I looked at it, and I just thought about how happy she would have been, you know, how much she always supported me. I just thought about what an amazing sister she was to me. I just said, 'Serena, this has to be motivating. This has to be more than enough to motivate me.' And I think it was.

"I still can't believe the tournament's over. I feel like there's another match to be played or there's something else. It's an awesome feeling.

"I'm ready for the claycourts. I want to ameliorate my game - take it to a new level. I'm definitely playing more than four tournaments this year.

"I don't know about you, but I saw two great men's semi-finals. I saw the No. 1 player beat the 'H.E. double hockey-sticks' out of another player. I saw Fernando González beat the 'H.E. double hockey-sticks' out of another player. Those were great matches. Today you saw the #81 player win a great final."

^['H.E. double hockey-sticks' refers to a four-letter word that Jehovah's Witnesses aren't allowed to use.]

"We all know I'm not really #81. It's exciting for women's tennis, but I think it's exciting that it's Serena Williams and not just anyone else. Because I've been number one before, and I've won seven Grand Slams before today. Today it's eight. It makes a difference, definitely. It tells people you can't sleep on anybody. They might not be here, or they might not be here for a couple of days, but they come back, and I'm here to stay.

"I believe my best years are yet to come.

"I would love to be number one and beating Maria on a regular basis. I think I played the best in this tournament, and I played like the number one seed. I've never been one to play 50 tournaments, 30 tournaments or even 20 tournaments. I always figured that if I play 12 to 15 tournaments and I win 10 of them, I'll be fine. The year I was number one, that's what I did.

"She's number one, she's consistent, she's either winning or in the final or semi-final, and that's what it takes to be number one. That's what I would have to do.

"I would like to thank Maria for being such a great sport, a great champion. Maria definitely has a very bright future. She's always fighting to the last point - that's what I like to see.

"Sharapova is probably going to go home right now and train on some things, and she's going to never want this to happen again - as I wouldn't either. Whether it was 7-5 7-5, if she had lost, she would still go home and train, as I would as well. I'm going to do the same thing because I know someone whose name is not Sharapova - like some other 'ova' and they're 12 years old in Russia, or wherever they're from, and they are playing hard to get ready for me. That's what I'm going to go train for."

Well, there is someone in Russia whose name /is/ Sharapova, who's going to be 12 on 6th June: Maria's cousin Daria!


Maria quotes
------------

"I'd like to congratulate Serena - not many people knew what she was capable of but I certainly did.

"You can never underestimate her as an opponent/performer. Not many people expected her to reach the final, but /I/ did. I know what she's capable of, and she showed it today. She's an amazing champion - she's showed it here many times.

"She came out and she played really flawless tennis. I was trying to find ways to get into the match, get in the rallies, trying somehow to find a way to get an opening, through a door, but I wasn't able to do it.

"I wasn't getting frustrated or anything. I was just trying to tell myself, 'You can always find a way, even if you're down a set and two breaks.'

"The reason why she played that well might have been because I gave her those opportunities to play well, but on the other side, I think she still had to do it. She still had to go out and play well - and she did, you know.

"She was serving big, and was pretty consistent. We played some good tennis, but didn't have many long rallies because she was aggressive with all her shots, going for them and making most of them.

"I expected her to play well: she's won six matches here, and she had no reason not to be confident. Her first serve is consistently the biggest in the game. It's definitely her biggest weapon.

"My serving-percentage was not good enough. It was a matter of serving well and returning well, and I didn't think I did either today.

"I definitely felt like I could have served a lot better. I mean, during the match, you're trying to find a way to do that - either take some pace off and try to make your first serve, or just try to go for a big serve.

"Well, I think it started in the second game, when I'm up 40/15 and I give her that game. From then on, when she's serving pretty big and pretty consistent, it was tough to break her. So I think that was a key game in the first set. And she played some good tennis.

"Against other opponents, when I was down a break, I was able to get the break and find a way to get good serves in when I had to. And today I didn't feel like I could get an opening to break her, even though I did have a couple of break-points."

[Re. Wimbledon 2004]
"Two completely different stages of my career. At Wimbledon, I was going into every single match thinking that I should have been home already. As years have gone on, I feel like I expect to be in the later stages of the tournaments. I expect myself to be winning.

"Unfortunately, it was my mom's birthday today, and I couldn't win for her. But she still made me happy, made me realise this is just another loss.

"When I win or lose, I always call my mum. She always tells me, 'Look, you got a tournament next week [Tokyo], you've got to focus on that'.

"'You're going to remember this day in your future, in your career when you're going to look back and say, this really taught me something. This only made me stronger. This has happened many times.'

"I don't like losing - it's not fun - but these moments make you stronger. It has been a bit strange, because I could've easily been out of the tournament the first day - and here I am, losing in the final. But it's definitely not the end of the world. I got to the final of a Grand Slam in my first tournament of the year, and I have a lot to be proud of.

"The rankings don't lie. I had a great end to last year. I'm excited to get to number one, and hopefully I can keep it for many weeks to come.

"I look forward to playing her many more times - and winning a few more games, I hope!

"I have many more years here. This is definitely not the end."

^[Five years is 'many'?]

From her latest "doodle" at http://www.mariasharapova.com/
>>>
I went down like China town in the final.......I know that absolutely makes no sense whatsoever but it rhymes and sounds funny....maybe not to anyone else.

What a strange two weeks it has been! From being two points away from losing in the first round to getting all the way to the final and basically not doing much there.....in the end everything took its toll and not only did I run into someone too good, but looking back I think I was emotionally a bit drained. It's all part of an experience process, and that's only going to make me stronger.

Ok so when the press asked me about retiring at 25, I said sure why not? I mean that's 6 more years of tennis!! I would love to try new things, particularly in fashion, and also someday have a family.......I did not however say I was going to be a mom at that age! Next day's headline..."MUM's the word for Sharapova".......wow!
<<<

--------------------
3. Wooden-Spoon List
--------------------

http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/wooden_spoon/

1. Serena Williams
2. MARIA SHARAPOVA (1)
3. NICOLE VAIDISOVA (10)
4. KIM CLIJSTERS (4)
5. SHAHAR PEER (16)
6. ANNA CHAKVETADZE (12)
7. Lucie Safarova
8. MARTINA HINGIS (6)
9. JELENA JANKOVIC (11)
10. VERA ZVONAREVA (22)
11. ELENA DEMENTIEVA (7)
12. DANIELA HANTUCHOVA (15)
13. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (3)
14. PATTY SCHNYDER (8)
15. AMELIE MAURESMO (2)
16. LI,NA (19)
17. NADIA PETROVA (5)
18. TATHIANA GARBIN (30)
19. KATARINA SREBOTNIK (21)
20. ALYONA BONDARENKO (29)
21. TATIANA GOLOVIN (20)
22. Jelena Kostanic Tosic
23. Anastasiya Yakimova
24. Aiko Nakamura
25. Victoria Azarenka
26. ANA IVANOVIC (13)
27. Maria Elena Camerin
28. Ashley Harkleroad
29. MARIA KIRILENKO (26)
30. Alicia Molik (WC)
31. Eva Birnerova
32. DINARA SAFINA (9)
33. Anne Kremer (Q)
34. Anastassia Rodionova
35. Milagros Sequera
36. Akiko Morigami
37. Meilen Tu
38. Laura Granville
39. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE (14)
40. Alla Kudryavtseva (Q)
41. Virginia Ruano Pascual
42. Tamira Paszek (Q)
43. Martina Muller
44. Emilie Loit
45. Monique Adamczak (WC)
46. Peng,Shuai
47. Olga Poutchkova
48. Lourdes Dominguez Lino
49. Gisela Dulko
50. Renata Voracova (Q)
51. Iveta Benesova
52. Virginie Razzano
53. Zuzana Ondraskova
54. SAMANTHA STOSUR (24)
55. AI SUGIYAMA (23)
56. Sania Mirza
57. MARION BARTOLI (18)
58. Agnieszka Radwanska
59. Elena Vesnina
60. ANNA-LENA GROENEFELD (17)
61. Julia Vakulenko (Q)
62. Kaia Kanepi
63. Julia Schruff
64. Youlia Fedossova (WC)
65. MARA SANTANGELO (27)
66. Camille Pin
67. Jill Craybas
68. Vasilisa Bardina
69. Romina Oprandi
70. Sybille Bammer
71. Alberta Brianti
72. Nathalie Dechy
73. Aleksandra Wozniak
74. Tzipora Obziler
75. Stephanie Foretz
76. Alize Cornet (Q)
77. Jessica Moore (WC)
78. Madison Brengle (WC)
79. Shenay Perry
80. Elena Bovina
81. Tamarine Tanasugarn
82. Emmanuelle Gagliardi
83. Casey Dellacqua (WC)
84. Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (Q)
85. Anna Smashnova
86. Sophie Ferguson (WC)
87. Laura Pous Tio
88. ELENI DANIILIDOU (32)
89. Yuliana Fedak
90. Vania King
91. Kirsten Flipkens
92. Yuan,Meng
93. Karolina Sprem
94. Chan,Yung-Jan
95. Martina Sucha
96. Ekaterina Bychkova
97. Michaella Krajicek
98. Roberta Vinci
99. Jarmila Gajdosova
100. Tsvetana Pironkova
101. Edina Gallovits
102. Yulia Beygelzimer
103. Sandra Kloesel
104. Emma Laine
105. Melinda Czink
106. Severine Bremond
107. Jorgelina Cravero (Q)
108. Aravane Rezai
109. Iroda Tulyaganova (WC)
110. Andreja Klepac (Q)
111. Marta Domachowska
112. Ahsha Rolle (Q)
113. Sun,Tiantian
114. Meghann Shaughnessy
115. Galina Voskoboeva
116. Nicole Pratt
117. Clarisa Fernandez
118. Klara Zakopalova (Q)
119. Sofia Arvidsson
120. Olga Savchuk
121. Vera Dushevina
122. Varvara Lepchenko
123. ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES (25)
124. Sandra Zahlavova (Q)
125. Elena Likhovtseva
126. FLAVIA PENNETTA (28)
127. ZHENG,JIE (31)
128. Catalina Castano

Only the big upset in the final saved Zheng from becoming a seeded wooden-spoonist!

----------------
4. Mixed Doubles
----------------
4.1 Final (Sunday 28th January)
---------

+ Elena Likhovtseva/Daniel Nestor d. Victoria Azarenka/Max Mirnyi, 6-4 6-4

Elena is an old favourite of mine, so it's nice to see her get another Grand Slam title to go with the Wimbledon 2002 Mixed Doubles.

Nestor: "I'm glad that Elena decided not to retire at the end of last year."

Elena: "I've been on the Tour for a long time, and I thought about doing something different. But then I thought, if I am still enjoying it and have good results, I decided to go another year."

-----------------
5. Girls' Singles
-----------------
5.1 Final (Saturday 27th January)
---------

+ ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1] d. MADISON BRENGLE [16], 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (7/3)

A successful title-defence for the cute 15-year-old Russian, who also holds the US Open Girls' Singles title.

----------------
6. Men's Singles
----------------
6.1 Final (Sunday 28th January)
---------

- FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ [10] lt. ROGER FEDERER [1], 6-7 (2/7) 4-6 4-6

The first set was entertaining. González had 0/30 on Federer's serve at 0-0, but couldn't break. After that it was serve-dominated, but while González - who has a huge forehand - was more spectacular than Federer, I always got the feeling that González was more error-prone.

There were no break-points in the first 8 games. At 4-4, González broke Federer; González had two set-points at *5-4 (40/15), but Federer saved them both, broke back, and González saved four set-points at *5-6. Federer won the first set on a one-sided tiebreak.

The second and third sets were very somnolent for me, as González tired and Federer became the first player since Björn Borg (French Open 1980) to win a Grand Slam Men's Singles title without dropping a set.

It was Federer's 10th Grand Slam title - four short of Pete Sampras's record of 14 (the Women's Singles record is 24 by Margaret Smith Court).

It was cool to see Sandra de Jenken in the high chair - the first woman ever to umpire a Grand Slam Men's Singles final!

There was no sign of Gisela Dulko today. Perhaps she - like Maria Sharapova - had already left for Tokyo? Fernando didn't acknowledge Gisela in his runner's-up speech.

-------------------------------
7. Jon Wertheim's parting-shots
-------------------------------

Jon Wertheim <SI.com>:
>>>
4. When Sharapova lost that heartbreaker to Serena here in 2005, she went on to win her next event. Be interesting to see how long Saturday's "statement match" sticks with her.

14. Losing semi-finalist Nicole Vaidišová has tons of power... and when she planes some of her rough edges, she will win big prizes. But her habit of looking at her box after every point is really detrimental. It radiates insecurity. If I'm on the other side of the net, I'm thinking, "This girl is meat."

47. Overheard in the press-room:
Reporter A: "Anna looked good the last time I saw her."
Reporter B: "Chakvetadze or Ivanović?"
Reporter A: "Kournikova. I guess we need to use her last name now."
<<<

Full article at http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/

-----------------------
8. WTA Singles Rankings (as of 29th January 2007)
-----------------------

1. Maria Sharapova (3918)
2. Justine Henin-Hardenne (3311)
3. Amélie Mauresmo (2900)
4. Kim Clijsters (2577)
5. Svetlana Kuznetsova (2554)
6. Martina Hingis (2139)
7. Nadia Petrova (2057)
8. Elena Dementieva (2013)
9. Nicole Vaidišová (1782)
10. Jelena Janković (1558)
11. Patty Schnyder (1544)
12. Dinara Safina (1527)
13. Anna Chakvetadze (1470)
14. Serena Williams (1269)
15. Shahar Peer (1209)
16. Ana Ivanović (1160)
17. Li,Na (1106)
18. Daniela Hantuchová (988)
19. Tatiana Golovin (950)
20. Anna-Lena Grönefeld (944)
21. Vera Zvonarëva (932)
...
133. Iroda Tulyaganova (220.25)
...
621. Jelena Dokić (18.75)

Great to see Maria and Nicole back to their career-high rankings, but it's frustrating to see that Anna's still stuck at #13 despite winning the Hobart title and reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Only 88 points separate Anna from the top ten, and she has nothing to defend until March! :-)

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sizzlingsharapova/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeldani/