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andrewbroad
Jan 13th, 2008, 10:21 PM
Quick links (they open in new windows):
* Day 1 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12304166)
* Day 2 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12313032)
* Day 3 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12322220)
* Day 4 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12330284)
* Day 5 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12338480)
* Day 6 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12346255)
* Day 7 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12355009)
* Day 8 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12362246)
* Day 9 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12372180)
* Day 10 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12380856)
* Semi-finals (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12393020)
* Finals (http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=12416836)
* Anna Chakvetadze (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/chakv/australian_open2008.html) (3r)
* Daniela Hantuchová (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/australian_open2008.html) (4r + QF + SF)
* Maria Sharapova (http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html) (2r + QF + SF + Final)

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. UK TV-alert
3. Qualifying
4. First-round draw
5. Maria Sharapova preview
6. Nicole Vaidišová preview
7. Vera Zvonarëva preview
8. Andrew's wishes
9. Order of Play for Monday

My previews for members of my Eternal Fanship in the bottom half of the draw - Iroda Tulyaganova, Anna Chakvetadze, Lucie Šafářová and Daniela Hantuchová - will follow tomorrow, time permitting.

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

Jelena Dokić:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta040344.html

Maria Sharapova (looked particularly ravishing in her pretournament press-conference!):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
search Getty Images for "sharapova"

Daniela Hantuchová:
search Getty Images for "hantuchova"

Anna Chakvetadze:
search Getty Images for "chakvetadze"

Various players including Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanović and Alicia Molik:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

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

The evening-sessions of the Australian Open will be televised on BBCi from 08:25 GMT each day of the tournament (digital viewers press Red or select the appropriate Freeview-channel - it always tended to be 302 last year, but it could be 301).

My understanding is that this coverage will consist of the women's match on the evening-session of the Rod Laver Arena (Kanepi v Molik on Monday), followed by the men's match, followed by recorded coverage of any Andy Murray match (or perhaps even Jamie Baker) that will have taken place during the day-session, or the "best" match of the day on a continuous loop.

But don't set your hopes too high - last year, only 7% of BBCi's Australian Open coverage was of the women! :mad: There isn't a women's match on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session every day, and it's well within the BBC's past behaviour to show recorded Murray instead of live women.

Other Australian Open coverage on BBC television:
* Sunday 20th January on BBC 2 (12:30 to 14:00 GMT);
* Saturday 26th January: Women's Singles final on BBC 1 (from 02:20 GMT);
* Saturday 26th January: repeat of WS final on BBCi (from 07:00 GMT);
* Saturday 26th January: highlights of WS final on BBC 2 (13:00 to 14:00 GMT);
* Sunday 27th January: Men's Singles final on BBC 2 (from 08:30 GMT);
* Sunday 27th January: repeat of MS final on BBCi (from 10:00 GMT).

-------------
3. Qualifying
-------------

This section presents my selections - for full results, see
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/us/


3.1 First round (Thursday 10th January)
---------------

What rocked:
+ Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] d. Marina Eraković, 6-4 6-1
+ YULIANA FEDAK [8] d. Ivana Lisjak, 6-0 6-2
+ IVETA BENEŠOVÁ [5] d. Silva Neuza, 7-6 (7/5) 6-2
+ Marta Domachowska d. KIRA NAGY [18], 6-1 6-2
+ Alina Jidkova d. Natsumi Hamamura, 6-1 6-3
+ Eva Hrdinová d. Yurika Sema, 6-3 3-6 6-1
+ EKATERINA BYCHKOVA [1] d. Youlia Fedossova, 5-7 6-3 6-4
+ Urszula Radwańska d. Alberta Brianti, 6-3 6-2
+ JULIA GÖRGES [14] d. Oxana Lyubtsova, 6-4 0-6 6-3
+ TIMEA BACSINSZKY [9] d. Lucie Hradecká [s], 6-2 6-1
+ Sabine Lisicki d. Sally Peers [WC], 6-0 6-1
+ KATIE O'BRIEN [15] d. Darya Kustova, 6-3 1-0 retired
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [s] d. GRETA ARN [7], 1-6 6-2 6-4
+ Ayumi Morita [s] d. Isabella Holland [WC], 6-0 7-6 (7/3)

What sucked:
- Zuzana Ondrášková lt. OLIVIA SÁNCHEZ [24], 1-6 4-6

Jelena Dokić wins first-round qualifier
By Bronwen Largier <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Arguably one of the most controversial matches of the day went over with barely a scream today as Jelena Dokić prevailed over New Zealander Marina Eraković: 6-4 6-1.

While Dokić sounded as though she was struggling for breath in the heat a good deal more than her opponent, this is hardly surprising given she has only been back on the court since October after a seven-month self-imposed hiatus from the sport.

The first set was neck and neck, with the match going on serve until Dokić was up 5-4.

She converted her second break-point in the next game after Eraković hit the ball long.

This seemed to be a tendency of Eraković: to hit the ball out on crucial points; she also struggled to capitalise on her opportunities to break her opponent's serve, converting none of her four break-points.

Both players had good court-coverage and managed to push the other around the court.

However, with a set under her belt, Dokić proceeded to make light work of the second set, conceding only one game to her increasingly frustrated opponent.
<<<

Dokić thrilled to be back in the game
By Adele Holland <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Jelena Dokić thought she would never pick up a racquet again, after she had two and half years off from competing in WTA Tour tournaments.

In a press-conference following her defeat of New Zealander Marina Eraković, Dokić spoke of her personal battle with her will to play tennis, and the struggle to get back in form to play Grand Slam tennis.

"I feel like I've been through Hell and back, so this is good fun for me right now. If I win, I'm really happy, but if I lose, then at the end of the day it's just a tennis-match," she said.

Dokić said she has only recently made the decision that she wanted to play competitively again. "I didn't have the will to play, and I was very tired, and then all of a sudden I just clicked one day and I thought I want to do this again."

Since Dokić arrived in Australia in mid-October, she has lost around 16 kilograms.

"I have a little more to go, obviously... but I'm very proud of myself."

"Before I got here, I didn't touch a racquet or do any kind any running or fitness for about 7 months," she said.

Dokić had no expectations leading into the Australian Open 2008. "If you had [told] me a month ago that I would do as well as did in Hobart and even winning my first match here, I would have been pretty happy."
<<<

3.2 Second round (Friday 11th January)
----------------

What rocked:
+ Marta Domachowska d. Carla Suárez Navarro, 6-0 6-2
+ EKATERINA BYCHKOVA [1] d. Seiko Okamoto, 6-2 6-4
+ Urszula Radwańska d. JULIA GÖRGES [14], 7-6 (10/8) 7-5
+ TIMEA BACSINSZKY [9] d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1 4-6 6-4
+ Sabine Lisicki d. MELINDA CZINK [12], 6-7 (4/7) 6-0 6-2
+ KATIE O'BRIEN [15] d. Yanina Wickmayer, 4-6 6-3 8-6
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [s] d. Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová, 6-0 7-6 (7/3)

What sucked:
- Jelena Dokić [WC,EF] lt. TAMARINE TANASUGARN [6], 2-6 1-6
- YULIANA FEDAK [8] lt. Ayumi Morita [s], 5-7 3-6
- IVETA BENEŠOVÁ [5] lt. Alisa Kleybanova, 3-6 1-6
- Alina Jidkova lt. Ekaterina Ivanova, 3-6 2-6
- Eva Hrdinová lt. YUAN,MENG [11], 6-1 1-6 2-6

Dokić down and out
By Tristan Foenander <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Jelena Dokić's hopes of gaining a spot in the Australian Open main draw were dashed today as Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn easily accounted for the Aussie in straight sets: 6-2 6-1.

One of most anticipated matches of the day turned out to be a one-sided affair as Dokić was completely outclassed by her Thai opponent.

Both players held their opening service-games, but Tanasugarn, the No.6 seed, wasted no time in applying pressure to the Aussie's serve.

After breaking Dokić's next two service-games, the Thai quickly established a good lead, and soon raced away with the set 6-2.

Things looked ominous again early in the second set as Dokić dropped her first two service-games.

Tanasugarn was relentless in her pursuit of victory, and had no intention of letting Dokić back in to the match, forging well ahead to sail to victory 6-1.

Dokić said that she felt lethargic and did not handle the blustery conditions.

"After the first game, I was a little bit slower than usual and they just kind of carried on," she said.

"The conditions were not easy, and I didn't handle them very well."
<<<

3.3 Third round (Saturday 12th January)
---------------

Nice qualifiers:
+ Marta Domachowska d. Ayumi Morita [s], 6-3 6-4
+ TIMEA BACSINSZKY [9] d. Margit Rüütel, 3-6 6-1 6-1
+ Sabine Lisicki d. ANASTASIYA YAKIMOVA [17], 6-2 6-1
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [s] d. Maša Zec Peškirič, 6-4 6-0

This organisation does not tolerate failure:
- EKATERINA BYCHKOVA [1] lt. Monica Niculescu, 1-6 5-7
- Urszula Radwańska lt. JULIA SCHRUFF [4], 3-6 0-6
- KATIE O'BRIEN [15] lt. YUAN,MENG [11], 4-6 2-6

-------------------
4. First-round draw
-------------------

I have a record seven members of my Eternal Fanship in the main draw here, but little hope of a semi-finalist with Maria Sharapova in Justine Henin's quarter. Two pairs of my fanees would meet each other in the third round (Vaidišová v Zvonarëva, and Šafářová v Hantuchová), and in fact four quarter-finalists is my maximum possible, while the bottom eighth is particularly devoid of lightning-colours.

The only really notable absentee is 1991-1993 and 1996 champion Monica Seles, who hasn't played on the WTA Tour, or in a Grand Slam, since the French Open 2003 due to a stress-fracture in her left foot. Contrary to popular belief, Monica hasn't retired - in fact she's planning a comeback at Miami in March!

Serena Williams could equal Monica as the only active player to win nine Grand Slam singes-titles (I sincerely hope she doesn't). Williams said: "That would be awesome. She was definitely a big factor. I love her and I think she's a great person. She was my favourite player."

Already this year, Monica has seen Lindsay Davenport break her record of 53 WTA Tour + Grand Slam singles-titles - the most by any active player.


4.1 Top quarter: Maria Sharapova
--------------------------------

* Aiko Nakamura [s] v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (ganbatte Aiko!)
* Olga Poutchkova v Monique Adamczak [WC] (davai Olga!)
* Maret Ani v Angelique Kerber (go Maret!)
* Emilie Loit v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]

* SYBILLE BAMMER [19] v Tamarine Tanasugarn [Q]
* Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] v Klára Koukalová (my Reason says Su-Wei, but my Passion says Klára)
* Aravane Rezaď v Kateryna Bondarenko (allez Aravane!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro (allez Tatiana!)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] v Tzipora Obziler (davai Elena!)
* Anabel Medina Garrigues v Petra Cetkovská
* Jessica Moore [WC] v Julie Ditty
* SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v Renata Voráčová

* Elena Vesnina v JULIA VAKULENKO [32] (my loyalty is to Elena)
* Jill Craybas v Chan,Yung-Jan
* Lindsay Davenport v Sara Errani
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Jelena Kostanić Tošić (DAVAI MARIA!!)


4.2 Second quarter: Vaidišová, Zvonarëva
----------------------------------------

* Tamira Paszek v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] (gemma Tamira!)
* Stéphanie Dubois v Edina Gallovits
* Flavia Pennetta [DF] v Dominika Cibulková (I really wish I could root for pretty little Domi, but my loyalty is to Flavia)
* Ashley Harkleroad v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30] (go Ashley!)

* Tatiana Poutchek v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] (anyone but Mauresmo)
* Yaroslava Shvedova v Tatjana Malek (my loyalty is to Yaroslava)
* Casey Dell'Acqua v Karin Knapp
* Lilia Osterloh v PATTY SCHNYDER [15] (go Lilia!)

* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Ioana Raluca Olaru (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* Alicia Molik v Kaia Kanepi (go Alicia!)
* Tatiana Perebiynis v Madison Brengle [WC] (davai Tatiana!)
* VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] v Ai Sugiyama (DAVAI VERA!!)

* VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v Akgul Amanmuradova
* Sandra Klösel [Q] v Julia Schruff [Q]
* Ekaterina Ivanova [Q] v Yuan,Meng [Q]
* Jarmila Gajdošová [WC] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]


4.3 Third quarter: Iroda Tulyaganova
------------------------------------

* Yan,Zi [s] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (jia you Zi!)
* Camille Pin v Monica Niculescu [Q]
* Timea Bacsinszky [Q] v Sophie Ferguson [WC] (hopp Timea!)
* Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] v SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] (I like Sania a lot, but DAVAI IRODA!!)

* Séverine Brémond v LI,NA [24] (allez Séverine!)
* Maria Elena Camerin v Christina Wheeler [WC] (forza Maria Elena!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v Mathilde Johansson [WC] (my loyalty is to Marta)
* MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] v Sofia Arvidsson (allez Marion!)

* Sabine Lisicki [Q] v DINARA SAFINA [16] (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* María Emilia Salerni v Mariya Koryttseva (ˇvamos María Emilia!)
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Caroline Wozniacki (my loyalty is to Gisela)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] v Alla Kudryavtseva (davai Alyona!)

* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] v Lourdes Domínguez Lino (dajmo Katarina!)
* Angelika Bachmann v Anastasia Rodionova
* Tathiana Garbin v Eleni Daniilidou
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Sorana Cirstea (my loyalty is to Ana)


4.4 Bottom quarter: Chakvetadze, Šafářová, Hantuchová
-----------------------------------------------------

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Andrea Petkovic (DAVAI ANNA!!)
* Peng,Shuai [s] v Alisa Kleybanova [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Michaëlla Krajíček [DF] v Akiko Morigami [s] (my loyalty is to Michaëlla)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] v Meilen Tu (davai Maria!)

* LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] v Catalina Castańo (POJĎME LUCIE!!)
* Roberta Vinci v Virginia Ruano Pascual (may the better win)
* Alizé Cornet v Clarisa Fernández (allez Alizé!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Vania King (POĎME DANIELA!!)

* NADIA PETROVA [14] v Nicole Pratt
* Anne Kremer v Evgenia Linetskaya (dajee Anne!)
* Laura Granville v Yvonne Meusburger
* ÁGNES SZÁVAY [20] v Ekaterina Makarova (I did a Google Image search for "Ekaterina Makarova" and found an absolute stunner, but unfortunately she wasn't the tennis-player)

* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v Olga Savchuk
* Martina Müller v Pauline Parmentier
* Tsvetana Pironkova v Olga Govortsova (my loyalty is to Tsvetana)
* Nathalie Dechy v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2] (allez Nathalie!)

--------------------------
5. Maria Sharapova preview
--------------------------

I'm not at all happy with Maria's draw. All I asked was for her not to land in Justine Henin's quarter, and she did.

Maria, who seems to be losing one round earlier in each successive Grand Slam since winning the US Open 2006 (exception: no quarter-final between the French Open and Wimbledon 2007), also has a very dangerous potential second-round match against unseeded 2000 champion Lindsay Davenport.

Maria has got some good matchplay in against quality opposition, albeit only exhibitions: she beat world #6 Anna Chakvetadze 6-0 7-6 (12/10) at Singapore on 30th December, and again (6-4 6-2) to reach the Hong Kong final, where she lost to Venus Williams. Maria said: "This is probably one of the greatest preparations you can get, and now with a good week of training in Australia, I think I can be ready."

Last year, Maria almost died in the first round here, as she was forced to play a three-set marathon in 40°C heat without a roof. This year, they've revised the Extreme-Heat Policy so that matches in progress can be suspended at the end of a set, and the new Plexicushion surface has lower heat-retention.


5.1 Pretournament quotes from Maria
-----------------------------------

[Re. the new Plexicushion surface]
"Especially in extreme heat, the [old Rebound Ace] court gets very sticky and a lot of injuries can occur. So I'm very excited about it, and it will be good to have a good week of practice before to get used to it."

[Re. Justine Henin]
"She's the big favourite here, I believe. But you have a chance in every match, and so do your opponents."

Pretournament press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-12/200801121200115588828.html


5.2 First round
---------------

Jelena Kostanić Tošić is an awkward left-handed opponent who likes to mess up her opponents' rhythm with sliced backhands, although she used a proper two-handed backhand to upset Samantha Stosur here last year.

Maria leads Kostanić Tošić 2:0 head to head, although Maria had a lucky escape in Philadelphia 2004 when Kostanić Tošić retired with a groin-injury with Maria leading 2-6 6-4 3-0. But when they met here in the second round two years ago, it was 6-0 6-1.

There's nothing scary about Kostanić Tošić's recent form: she was thrashed 6-3 6-1 by Lourdes Domínguez Lino in the first qualifying-round of Hobart, after compiling a 17:26 win-loss record in 2007.

A nice, easy opening match for Maria.


5.3 Second round
----------------

None of the seeds would have wanted to draw three-time Grand Slam champion and former world #1 Lindsay Davenport so early, before they've had a chance to play their way into the tournament. Davenport is widely regarded as the most dangerous floater in the draw, with heavy groundstrokes of immense power, although her mobility has always been limited.

Davenport took almost a whole year of maternity-leave from September 2006 to September 2007, but she came back with a bang: won Bali, reached the semi-finals of Beijing (losing to world #3 Jelena Janković), won Québec City, and won Auckland last week. None of these titles were higher than Tier III, but I doubt the top girls will be looking forward to finding out whether Davenport can go through /them/ just as easily (Davenport already beat Janković at Bali).

Maria leads Davenport 4:1 head-to-head, although Davenport's one victory was 6-0 6-0 at Indian Wells 2005. But the second half of their Wimbledon 2004 semi-final, where Maria changed the rotation of the Earth after saving two break-points at 2-6 *0-2, is the best performance I've ever seen by Maria.

It will take another great performance by Maria to survive this skirmish.


5.4 Third round
---------------

This should be a doddle for the winner of the Sharapova v Davenport match. I hope it will be the beautiful Elena Vesnina, whom Maria has never played.

The seed is Julia Vakulenko [32], whom Maria beat 7-5 6-4 at Charleston 2003: on Maria's worst surface (clay), before Maria even turned 16. But Vakulenko was dangerous in 2007: she sent Kim Clijsters into retirement at Warsaw, and beat Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina to reach the semi-finals of Berlin. She beat Daniela Hantuchová in the first round of the US Open, and was runner-up to Davenport at Québec City. She hasn't played in 2008 yet.

18-year-old Chan,Yung-Jan is another player to look out for at this stage. Maria leads Chan 2:0 head to head, but Chan gave Maria a very tight second set in the first round of Wimbledon last year - who knows what might have happened if a couple of points had gone the wrong way?

Chan has made a lot of early exits since then, but she was runner-up at Bangkok and won $75k ITF Xiamen in December.


5.5 Fourth round
----------------

Elena Dementieva [11] doesn't tend to do very well here, with only three fourth-round appearances to show for nine Australian Opens. She doesn't like coming from the cold of Moscow to the heat of Australia. She lost in the first round of Sydney this week.

Furthermore, Maria has dominated Dementieva since their first meeting at Birmingham 2003, compiling a 7:2 head to head.

Dementieva's 2007 was highlighted by titles at İstanbul and the one every Russian wants to win: Moscow, where she beat Serena Williams in the final!

Maria would be the firm favourite against Dementieva, but it all depends on the day.

Shahar Pe'er [11] is a good retriever who can also play aggressively from the baseline. She compiled an impressive 46:22 record for 2007 without winning a title, her victims including Ana Ivanović, Patty Schnyder and Anna Chakvetadze. She beat world #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round here last year, and again at Miami! Last week she reached the semi-finals of Gold Coast with a win over Dinara Safina.

Maria leads Shahar 3:0 head to head, but they've all been pretty tough, with either a third set or a tiebreak in each match. Maria would be a strong favourite to beat her again, but I would certainly expect a very tough fight.


5.6 Quarter-finals
------------------

Justine Henin is the player they all have to beat. She messes up all her opponents with spins, outmanoeuvring them from the baseline and coming to the net.

Since losing to Selesian player Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, Henin has been on a winning-streak that will have reached 32 matches going into this quarter-final. This included her seventh Grand Slam title at the US Open, and this week's Sydney title (albeit with a double bye due to Lucie Šafářová's walkover).

Henin leads Maria 6:2 head to head. Maria beat her 6-1 6-7 (6/8) 6-2 at Miami 2005, which was the first tournament of Henin's comeback following a long illness, and also beat her 6-4 6-4 in the US Open 2006 final, when Henin was tired (not to take anything away from Maria's brilliant performance that day).

Henin's winning-streak has to end some time, and Maria might have as good a chance as anyone as she stretched Henin to a 3h24m marathon (5-7 7-5 6-3) in the final of the Sony Ericsson Championships.

---------------------------
6. Nicole Vaidišová preview
---------------------------

Nicole endured an injury-restricted year in 2007, failing to reach a final and dropping out of the top ten. But she did excel at the Grand Slams, with a semi-final and two quarter-finals.

Nicole started 2008 poorly with a near-loss to Casey Dell'Acqua in the first round of Gold Coast, and an actual loss to eventual champion Li,Na in the quarter-finals.

But Nicole's form can improve dramatically once she gets on a roll, and she definitely improved it in Sydney, beating world #9 Daniela Hantuchová 6-4 6-2 and world #3 Jelena Janković 6-4 4-6 6-4 before losing yet another tight match to her old nemesis Svetlana Kuznetsova.

If Nicole improves as much again at the Australian Open, it's not out of the question that she could defend her semi-final from last year, though she does have defending champion Serena Williams lurking in her eighth.


6.1 Pretournament-quotes from Nicole
------------------------------------

"I have beaten the top girls. It's a case of being able to perform two weeks in a row, and that's what I'm learning." (quoted on 8th December 2007)


6.2 First round
---------------

Nicole has never played her fellow 18-year-old Ioana Raluca Olaru before, but she should be much too strong for Olaru, just as Vera Zvonarëva was at Hobart (6-3 6-2).

Olaru compiled an impressive 41:16 record for 2007, albeit mainly in minor tournaments: she won ITF Torrent as well as making a couple of WTA Tier III/IV semi-finals. She hasn't beaten anyone ranked higher than #33 except by retirement.


6.3 Second round
----------------

I expect I'll get to see the match that determines Nicole's second opponent on BBCi tomorrow: voluptuous serve-volleyer Alicia Molik or Clijsters-clone Kaia Kanepi, who play in the Rod Laver Arena evening-session (they also played each other in 1r Australian Open 2007: Molik won 1-6 6-3 6-2). Nicole hasn't played either girl before.

Molik was as high as world #8 in February 2005 before her career was scuppered by an inner-ear infection that affected her balance. She won Zürich 2004 over an injured Maria Sharapova, won Luxembourg the following week, won Sydney 2005, and beat Venus Williams to reach the Australian Open 2005 quarter-finals. She also has two wins over Amélie Mauresmo to her name.

Last year, Molik just about managed to break even with a 25:24 record. She started this year with a win over Lucie Šafářová in Hopman Cup, but Lucie got her revenge in the first round of Sydney, and Nicole should double that for Czechia.

The highlight of Kanepi's career so far has been reaching the final of Hasselt 2006 as a qualifier, losing 6-3 3-6 6-4 to Kim Clijsters. I saw a few points of that final on Transworld Sport and couldn't tell them apart.

Kanepi followed that up with a poor 2007 (20:23), the highlight of which was beating world #13 Patty Schnyder at Miami. This week, she came through qualifying to reach the quarter-finals of Sydney, only to get crushed 6-2 6-0 by Justine Henin.


6.4 Third round
---------------

The draw promises a mouthwatering third-round match with Vera Zvonarëva. It's a real shame that they have to meet so soon, because they both deserve better: Vera reached the fourth round here last year, Nicole the semi-finals.

It's even more of a shame that Vera went over on her ankle after dropping just 17 games in four matches to reach the Hobart final, which she couldn't therefore play. It remains to be seen whether she'll be able to play here, let alone overcome Ai Sugiyama in a tough first-round match.

They've only met once before: Vera beat 16-year-old Nicole 6-3 6-2 in the first round of Eastbourne 2005. But Nicole was so inexperienced then, especially on grass, and Vera handled the windy conditions much better.

But Vera has come so far herself since mid-2005, when she was in quite a slump. In those days, she was struggling with an energy-sapping virus, and would regularly go on four-match losing-streaks. These days, she's much more consistent at beating the journeywomen, and she reached two semi-finals after a four-month lay-off with a wrist-injury last summer.

So far this year, Vera has enjoyed six easy wins over lesser players, despite struggling with injuries, although she did have a surprising loss to Marina Eraković in the quarter-finals of Auckland, where she reached the final in 2006 and 2007. And then the ankle-injury.

Ai Sugiyama is quite a Vera-like player herself: a solid counterpuncher who gets a lot of balls back, can also move her opponent around with spreading rallies, and has excellent volleys, though she rarely chooses to use them in singles.

When I think of Sugiyama, I think of her Wimbledon-matches: in 2002, Monica Seles beat her 4-6 6-1 6-4, and it was like pulling teeth. In 2004, Maria Sharapova beat her 5-7 7-5 6-1 and went on to win the title. In 2006, she upset former champion Martina Hingis in the third round.

Sugiyama may be 32, but she took a set off Maria Sharapova as recently as February 2007, and looked like she could have troubled her again at Wimbledon if Maria hadn't played such a brilliant match.

But 2007 wasn't a good year for Sugiyama, as she finished it with a 22:25 record. This year, she lost in the first round of Gold Coast, and in the first /qualifying/ round at Sydney: 6-2 7-5 to #143-ranked Jarmila Gajdošová.

Nicole lost to Sugiyama the only time they played: 6-4 1-6 6-3 at Beijing 2006.

Or perhaps Tatiana Perebiynis could take advantage of Vera's injury and Sugiyama's lack of form. She had a good 30:18 record in 2007, winning ITF Saint Gaudens, but her 2008 has started with failures to qualify for Gold Coast and Sydney. Nicole beat her 3-6 7-5 6-4 in their only meeting: Hobart 2005.

The other possibility would be Madison Brengle, who was runner-up in the Girls' Singles at Wimbledon 2007, and in a couple of ITF Women's Circuit tournaments. I doubt she has the experience to come through here.


6.5 Fourth round
----------------

A fourth-round showdown with defending champion Serena Williams [7] is a distinct possibility. It would be a repeat of the Australian Open 2007 semi-final, in which Williams beat Nicole 7-6 (7/5) 6-4. Williams went on to beat Nicole two more times in 2007 for a 3:0 head to head.

Williams went on to win the Australian Open 2007 despite her ranking of #81, but she hasn't won a title since Miami, having struggled with injuries and Justine Henin. She finished 2007 with two consecutive retirements - the latter to her left knee, on which she had surgery in 2003. One wonders how long her body will allow her to continue in tennis.

Williams started 2008 by winning the Hopman Cup with Mardy Fish, though she only played two singles-rubbers: she struggled past Lucie Šafářová 6-0 2-6 7-5 (Lucie led 4-2 in the third) and Alicia Molik 6-2 7-6.

Apparently Serena's much leaner this year, though she hasn't showed any scary results since beating Nicole and Svetlana Kuznetsova back to back to reach the Moscow final, where she lost to Elena Dementieva. It won't be easy for Nicole to overturn that 0:3 head to head.

-------------------------
7. Vera Zvonarëva preview
-------------------------

Vera went over on her left ankle after dropping just 17 games in four matches to reach the Hobart final, which she couldn't therefore play. It remains to be seen whether she'll be able to play here, let alone overcome Ai Sugiyama in a tough first-round match.

Vera has come so far since 2005, when she was in quite a slump. In those days, she was struggling with an energy-sapping virus, and would regularly go on four-match losing-streaks. These days, she's much more consistent at beating the journeywomen, and she reached two semi-finals after a four-month lay-off with a wrist-injury last summer.

So far this year, Vera has enjoyed six easy wins over lesser players, despite struggling with injuries, although she did have a surprising loss to Marina Eraković in the quarter-finals of Auckland, where she reached the final in 2006 and 2007. And then the ankle-injury.


7.1 First round
---------------

Ai Sugiyama would be a tough opponent even without Vera's ankle-injury, but if Vera's ankle is still hurting, she could be a nightmare. Sugiyama is a solid counterpuncher who gets a lot of balls back, can also move her opponent around with spreading rallies, and has excellent volleys, though she rarely chooses to use them in singles. In fact, that description could apply equally well to Vera!

When I think of Sugiyama, I think of her Wimbledon-matches: in 2002, Monica Seles beat her 4-6 6-1 6-4, and it was like pulling teeth. In 2004, Maria Sharapova beat her 5-7 7-5 6-1 and went on to win the title. In 2006, she upset former champion Martina Hingis in the third round.

Sugiyama may be 32, but she took a set off Maria Sharapova as recently as February 2007, and looked like she could have troubled her again at Wimbledon if Maria hadn't played such a brilliant match.

But 2007 wasn't a good year for Sugiyama, as she finished it with a 22:25 record. This year, she lost in the first round of Gold Coast, and in the first /qualifying/ round at Sydney: 6-2 7-5 to #143-ranked Jarmila Gajdošová.

Sugiyama beat Vera 6-3 3-6 6-4 at Linz 2003, but Vera got a 6-1 7-5 revenge at San Diego 2006, when Vera was near her best form.


7.2 Second round
----------------

Tatiana Perebiynis had a good 30:18 record in 2007, winning ITF Saint Gaudens, but her 2008 has started with failures to qualify for Gold Coast and Sydney. Vera won their only meeting 6-3 6-4: at Berlin 2004. If Vera gets through her first match unscathed, I would be pretty optimistic here.

The other possibility is Madison Brengle, who was runner-up in the Girls' Singles at Wimbledon 2007, and in a couple of ITF Women's Circuit tournaments. I doubt she would have the experience to beat a healthy Vera.


7.3 Third round
---------------

The draw promises a mouthwatering third-round match with Nicole Vaidišová. It's a real shame that they have to meet so soon, because they both deserve better: Vera reached the fourth round here last year, Nicole the semi-finals.

They've only met once before: Vera beat 16-year-old Nicole 6-3 6-2 in the first round of Eastbourne 2005. But Nicole was so inexperienced then, especially on grass, and Vera handled the windy conditions much better.

Nicole endured an injury-restricted year in 2007, failing to reach a final and dropping out of the top ten. But she did excel at the Grand Slams, with a semi-final and two quarter-finals.

Nicole started 2008 poorly with a near-loss to Casey Dell'Acqua in the first round of Gold Coast, and an actual loss to eventual champion Li,Na in the quarter-finals.

But Nicole's form can improve dramatically once she gets on a roll, and she definitely improved it in Sydney, beating world #9 Daniela Hantuchová 6-4 6-2 and world #3 Jelena Janković 6-4 4-6 6-4 before losing yet another tight match to her old nemesis Svetlana Kuznetsova.


7.4 Fourth round
----------------

Serena Williams [7] won the Australian Open 2007 despite her ranking of #81, but she hasn't won a title since Miami, having struggled with injuries and Justine Henin. She finished 2007 with two consecutive retirements - the latter to her left knee, on which she had surgery in 2003. One wonders how long her body will allow her to continue in tennis.

Williams started 2008 by winning the Hopman Cup with Mardy Fish, though she only played two singles-rubbers: she struggled past Lucie Šafářová 6-0 2-6 7-5 (Lucie led 4-2 in the third) and Alicia Molik 6-2 7-6.

Apparently Serena's much leaner this year, though she hasn't showed any scary results since beating Nicole Vaidišová and Svetlana Kuznetsova back to back to reach the Moscow final, where she lost to Elena Dementieva.

Williams leads Vera 4:1 head to head, but that lone victory - a 6-2 6-3 thrashing at Cincinnati 2006 en route to the title - is one of my sweetest memories of Vera's career, even though Williams was just coming back from injury and making "a thousand unforced errors".

And Vera has taken two more sets off Williams, including in 4r French Open 2002 when Williams was the dominant force in women's tennis and Vera was 17! Most recently, Williams beat Vera 6-4 7-6 (7/4) at the US Open 2007 - Vera's first tournament back after four months out with her wrist-injury.

------------------
8. Andrew's wishes
------------------
8.1 Second round: Top half
--------------------------

+ Aiko Nakamura [s] d. Olga Poutchkova
+ Maret Ani d. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
+ Klára Koukalová d. SYBILLE BAMMER [19]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Aravane Rezaď

+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] d. Anabel Medina Garrigues
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. Jessica Moore [WC]
+ Elena Vesnina d. Chan,Yung-Jan
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Lindsay Davenport

+ Tamira Paszek d. Stéphanie Dubois
+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Ashley Harkleroad
+ Yaroslava Shvedova d. Tatiana Poutchek
+ Lilia Osterloh d. Karin Knapp

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Alicia Molik
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] d. Tatiana Perebiynis
+ VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] d. Julia Schruff [Q]
+ SERENA WILLIAMS [7] d. Ekaterina Ivanova [Q]


8.2 Second round: Bottom half
-----------------------------

+ Yan,Zi [s] d. Camille Pin
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. Timea Bacsinszky [Q]
+ Séverine Brémond d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]

+ María Emilia Salerni d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [21]
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] d. Anastasia Rodionova
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Tathiana Garbin

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Peng,Shuai [s]
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. Michaëlla Krajíček [DF]
+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] d. Roberta Vinci
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Alizé Cornet

+ Anne Kremer d. NADIA PETROVA [14]
+ Ekaterina Makarova d. Laura Granville
+ Pauline Parmentier d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Nathalie Dechy


8.3 Third-round wishes
----------------------

+ Aiko Nakamura [s] d. Maret Ani
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Klára Koukalová
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Elena Vesnina

+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Tamira Paszek
+ Lilia Osterloh d. Yaroslava Shvedova
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]
+ SERENA WILLIAMS [7] d. VICTORIA AZARENKA [26]

+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. Yan,Zi [s]
+ MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] d. Séverine Brémond
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. María Emilia Salerni
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28]

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF]
+ Anne Kremer d. Ekaterina Makarova
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Pauline Parmentier


8.4 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Aiko Nakamura [s]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17]
+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Lilia Osterloh
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Gisela Dulko [DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Anne Kremer


8.5 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF]
+ VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] d. Flavia Pennetta [DF]
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Tsvetana Pironkova


8.6 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF]


8.7 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF]

---------------------------
9. Order of Play for Monday
---------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: Tamira Paszek v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
MS 1r: ANDY RODDICK [6] v Lukáš Dlouhý
WS 1r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Jelena Kostanić Tošić
MS 1r: RICHARD GASQUET [8] v Nick Lindahl

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Mischa Zverev v TOMMY ROBREDO [11]
WS 1r: AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] v Tatiana Poutchek
MS 1r: MIKHAIL YOUZHNY [14] v Mathieu Montcourt
WS 1r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Ioana Raluca Olaru

Court 6 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: Ekaterina Ivanova [Q] v Yuan,Meng [Q]
WS 1r: Jessica Moore [WC] v Julie Ditty
MS 1r: Donald Young v Michael Berrer
WS 1r: VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] v Ai Sugiyama

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

andrewbroad
Jan 14th, 2008, 10:21 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round results
3. Sharapova v Kostanić Tošić review
4. Vaidišová v Olaru scoreboard-report
5. Zvonarëva v Sugiyama scoreboard-report
6. First-round draw: Bottom half
7. Second-round draw: Top half
8. Iroda Tulyaganova preview
9. Anna Chakvetadze preview
10. Lucie Šafářová preview
11. Daniela Hantuchová preview
12. Andrew's wishes
13. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
14. Order of Play for Tuesday

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

Maria Sharapova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Nicole Vaidišová (and cute Ioana Raluca Olaru):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova

Vera Zvonarëva (sad but beautiful):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=zvonareva

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

Shahar Pe'er:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=shahar

Tamira Paszek (and Jelena Janković):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=paszek

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova
vaidisova
zvonareva
golovin
pennetta
shahar
harkleroad
paszek

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

----------------------
2. First-round results (Monday 14th January)
----------------------

What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Ioana Raluca Olaru, 6-3 6-0
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro, 6-1 4-6 6-3
+ Aravane Rezaï d. Kateryna Bondarenko, 7-6 (7/4) 6-2
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. Renata Voráčová, 6-2 2-6 6-0
+ Tatiana Perebiynis d. Madison Brengle [WC], 7-5 6-2
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] d. Tzipora Obziler, 6-2 6-2
+ Alicia Molik d. Kaia Kanepi, 7-6 (7/4) 7-5
+ Olga Poutchkova d. Monique Adamczak [WC], 6-4 6-0
+ Jessica Moore [WC] d. Julie Ditty, 6-3 6-2

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Dominika Cibulková, 6-4 5-7 6-4
+ Elena Vesnina d. JULIA VAKULENKO [32], 6-4 1-6 6-4
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] d. Klára Zakopalová, 2-6 6-4 8-6
+ Yaroslava Shvedova d. Tatjana Malek, 6-2 6-2

What sucked:
- VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] lt. Ai Sugiyama, 3-6 1-1* retired (left-ankle injury)
- Tamira Paszek lt. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3], 6-2 2-6 10-12
- Aiko Nakamura [s] lt. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 2-6 2-6
- Ashley Harkleroad lt. VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30], 3-6 5-7
- Maret Ani lt. Angelique Kerber, 6-0 3-6 2-6
- Lilia Osterloh lt. PATTY SCHNYDER [15], 3-6 3-6

Tamira Paszek led *4-1 and 5-3* in the third set, served for the match 5 times, and had 3 match-points against Janković!

Henin: "It was tough at the beginning because the conditions were quite difficult. It was a little bit windy, and she [Aiko Nakamura] had a game that wasn't the easiest for me to start the tournament. She was hitting the ball pretty flat, and that wasn't easy."

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/06ws.html

------------------------------------
3. Sharapova v Kostanić Tošić review
------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3

A somewhat tougher match than I expected. I'll let the media-articles do the talking this time:


Sharapova shines on Day 1
By Carla Okai <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Women's No.5 seed Maria Sharapova has won her first match at Australian Open 2008 in convincing style: 6-4 6-3.

Defeating her Croatian opponent Jelena Kostanić Tošić in 89 minutes, Sharapova controlled the match throughout.

The No. 5 seed showed off her powerful service-game, delivering four aces and winning all but two points on her first serve in the first set. She secured the sole break before a crowd of adoring fans.

But Kostanić Tošić didn't seem intimidated at her eighth Australian Open, forcing Sharapova to fight to win her own service-games early in the second set.

Kostanić Tošić was also impressive at the net, but Sharapova easily overpowered her with shots from the baseline, managing to break her twice to secure a much easier win then her marathon first-round match in Melbourne last year against Camille Pin.

Sharapova will move on to play Lindsay Davenport in the second round.
<<<

Sharapova books Davenport meeting [CEEFAX 490->493]
>>>
Maria Sharapova ground out a 6-4 6-3 victory over Jelena Kostanić Tošić to set up an enticing clash with Lindsay Davenport at the Australian Open.

Former world number one Davenport, who returned to the Tour late last year after having a baby, saw off Italy's Sara Errani 6-2 3-6 7-5.
<<<

Davenport sneaks through [Teletext 498]
>>>
Former champion Lindsay Davenport was made to work extremely hard to secure her place in the second round.

The American has been in top form since returning to the Tour following the birth of her son, but she found herself a break down in the decider against Sara Errani before winning 6-2 3-6 7-5.

The pick of the second-round matches will be Davenport against Maria Sharapova, who beat Jelena Kostanić Tošić 6-4 6-3.
<<<

Sharapova sets up Davenport clash
By Greg Stutchbury (Reuters)
>>>
Fifth seed Maria Sharapova ground out a 6-4 6-3 win over Croatia's Jelena Kostanić Tošić on Monday to set up a mouthwatering Australian Open second-round clash with former world number one Lindsay Davenport.

Russian Sharapova, losing finalist at Melbourne Park last year, was pushed all the way by an opponent ranked 102nd in the world, and is expecting another tough match against Davenport, who advanced with a 6-2 3-6 7-5 victory over Italy's Sara Errani.

"We have pretty similar styles of game," Sharapova told reporters. "We're baseline-players. We like to take advantage from the first ball. We like to get a good hit. Both of us have pretty good serves."

"Lindsay's a big hitter, has a big serve.

"It's going to be very important to serve well and return well, and hopefully get a good hit on the first ball."

Sharapova had problems with the left-handed Kostanić Tošić, who scrambled around the court to ensure her opponent converted just three of 13 break-opportunities.

"I played a pretty tricky opponent, someone that I haven't played in a while," said Sharapova.

"Also a lefty. You don't see too many of those around these days."

Sharapova broke Kostanić Tošić's serve early in the first set and twice in the second, but 21 unforced errors prevented her from running away with the match.

"It's always a matter of worrying about what you have to do on your side, taking care of business on your side of the net in each and every match that you play, no matter what your opponent is doing," Sharapova added.

"It's important that you do what you have to do and hopefully come out with a win."
<<<

New hue, same Williams as she powers through first round
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Sharapova didn't offer an opinion on the surface after her opening-round 6-4 6-3 win over Jelena Kostanić Tošić, and denied that the colour-change reflected her mood after her last appearance at Rod Laver Arena.

"You can't think about what you did in the past years," she said. "You can't think about what your results were. You just got to look forward to what's going to come up."

What's coming up for her is a second-round match against 2000 champion Lindsay Davenport, quickly becoming something of a Supermom after holding off Italy's Sara Errani 6-2 3-6 7-5.
<<<

Sharapova win sets up enticing Davenport clash (AFP)
>>>
Russia's Maria Sharapova powered through the Australian Open first round Monday to set up an enticing clash with a three-time Grand Slam champion - Lindsay Davenport - in her next match.

Sharapova, last year's beaten finalist, overcame Croatian Jelena Kostanić Tošić 6-4, 6-3 to set up the mouth-watering showdown with Davenport, who has shown outstanding form since returning in September after having a baby.

Davenport, the 2000 champion, is unseeded this year and lurks in the draw as a dangerous floater with the game to upset the tournament's big names.

Sharapova, 20, was philosophical about meeting such a powerful player so early in the season-opening Grand Slam, declaring: "If I can't beat them in the second round, I can't beat them at all."

She expected a baseline slug-fest from two former world number ones possessing some of the most powerful serves and groundstrokes in the women's game.

"Lindsay's a big hitter, has a big serve; she's more of a one-two ball-combination type of player," she said.

"It's going to be very important to serve well and return well, and hopefully get a good hit on the first ball.

"We have pretty similar styles of game. We're baseline-players; we like to take advantage from the first ball."

The fifth seed described her opening match against left-hander Kostanić Tošić as "tricky", but said she experienced no recurrence of the niggling shoulder-injury that repeatedly sidelined her last year.

The injury forced Sharapova to adopt a less stressful serving-action, which was largely successful as she fired down five aces against Kostanić Tošić.

Sharapova also said she had put memories of last year's humiliating loss in the final against Serena Williams behind her.

"You can't think about what you did in the past years. You can't think about what your results were. You just got to look forward to what's going to come up."

Davenport, who has won 19 of the 20 matches she has played since returning to the circuit after giving birth to baby boy Jagger last June, admitted she was looking forward to the prospect of facing Sharapova.

"It will be interesting," the 31-year-old said. "It will be the first Grand Slam winner I've played since being back.

"She's a great player: one of the few players I don't have a winning-record against in the draw."

Sharapova has a 4:1 record over Davenport, including a 2004 semi-final at Wimbledon, where the Russian went on to win the tournament.

The American, ranked number 51 in the world, said she would have to improve on her 6-3 3-6 7-5 first-round performance against Italy's Sara Errani to stand a chance.

"I'm going to have to definitely hit the ball well, be more aggressive than I was today, just basically do everything a lot cleaner," she said.

If Sharapova beats the American, she could then face world number one Justine Henin in the quarter-finals.
<<<

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1970
>>>
"Maria is a great player, one of the few players I don't have a winning record against in the draw," Davenport said. "We play similar styles. She has outplayed me the last couple of times we played. I'm going to definitely hit the ball well, be more aggressive than I was today and just do everything a lot cleaner."

Sharapova beat tricky left-hander Jelena Kostanić Tošić in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, her greatest asset of the day clearly being her serve, on which she didn't face a break-point the entire match. But Davenport may test that.

"She's going to be a completely different opponent than the opponent I played today," Sharapova said. "Lindsay's a big hitter and has a big serve. She's more of a one-two ball combination-type of player. It's going to be very important to serve well and return well, and hopefully get a good hit on the first ball."
<<<

Maria's first-round press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-14/200801141200304350348.html


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

Lindsay Davenport's marathon first-round match, against a player I expected her to dismiss with contemptuous ease, has certainly lengthened her odds against Maria since my pretournament-preview.

Davenport said: "It will be interesting. It will be the first Grand Slam winner I've played since being back. And she's a great player. She's one of the few players I don't have a winning-record against, probably, in the draw. We play very similar styles. She's outplayed me the last couple [of] times we played. I'm going to have to hit the ball well, be more aggressive than I was today, just basically do everything a lot cleaner."

--------------------------------------
4. Vaidišová v Olaru scoreboard-report
--------------------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Ioana Raluca Olaru, 6-3 6-0

Nicole broke early, got a bit complacent, had to save a break-point, then won every game left in the match.

The match started at 20:10 AEST, and I followed live scores at www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com).


First set
---------
VAIDI _*@* * *@ 6
OLARU *___* *__ 3

Olaru serving 0-0: 30/0. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Nicole serving 0-1: Held to love.
Olaru serving 1-1: 0/30. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP). Broken.
Nicole serving 2-1: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Olaru serving 1-3: Held to love.
Nicole serving 3-2: Held to love.
Olaru serving 2-4: 0/15. 15/15. 40/15. 40/30. Held.
Nicole serving 4-3: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Olaru (BP). Deuce #2. Ad Nicole. Held.

I get the impression that this is one of Nicole's complacent starts that she sometimes does against lesser players. Perhaps she rested on her laurels after getting the break, and then out of nowhere found herself break-point down. But I think that has galvanised her to concentrate now.

Olaru serving 3-5: 0/15. 15/15. 15/40 (2 SPs). Nicole won the first set at 20:44 (34m).


Second set
----------
VAIDI *@*@*@ 6
OLARU ______ 0

Nicole serving 0-0: 0/15. 30/15. 40/15. Held.
Olaru serving 0-1: 0/40 (3 BPs). Broken.

Galvanised her indeed! :-)

Nicole serving 2-0: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Nicole. Deuce #2. Ad Nicole. Held.
Olaru serving 0-3: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (2 BPs).
Nicole serving 4-0: 15/0. 15/15. 40/15. 40/30. Held.
Olaru serving 0-5: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (2 MPs). 30/40. Nicole won 6-3 6-0 at 21:10 (second set 26m, match 60m).


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

+ Alicia Molik d. Kaia Kanepi, 7-6 (7/4) 7-5

I watched Molik v Kanepi on BBCi while I was following Nicole's live scores. I expected (or perhaps just hoped) Molik to serve-volley her way to victory, but the ball bounces high on Plexicushion, and Kanepi hit harder and heavier from the baseline. Kanepi has a big serve and a big forehand, although not as big as Nicole's!

That's what I wrote when Alicia was 0-3 down, but Kanepi went on to make numerous unforced errors in a match that neither player could take control of.

The commentators praised Molik for having a kick second-serve, which most of the women don't - they hit it flat, with much less margin for error.

-----------------------------------------
5. Zvonarëva v Sugiyama scoreboard-report
-----------------------------------------

- VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF] lt. Ai Sugiyama, 3-6 1-1* retired (left-ankle injury)

Sad, but hardly unexpected after Vera hobbled out of Hobart on crutches. I just pray that she hasn't done any lasting damage.


First set
---------
ZVONARËV 1* *__ 3
SUGIYAMA 3 * *@ 6

I sleep during the Australian day, and joined the scoreboard at 19:25 AEST, just as Vera, who was *1-3 down, held for 2-3.
Sugiyama serving 3-2: 15/15. 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Sugiyama. Held.
Vera serving 2-4: Held to love.
Sugiyama serving 4-3: 0/15. 15/15. 40/15. Held.
Vera serving 3-5: 15/0. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (SP #1). 40/40. Ad Sugiyama (SP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Vera. Deuce #3. Ad Sugiyama (SP #3). Sugiyama won the first set 6-3 at 19:42.


Second set
----------
ZVONARËV _* 1 retired
SUGIYAMA *_ 1

Sugiyama serving 0-0: 0/15. 15/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Vera serving 0-1: 15/0. 15/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Sugiyama serving 1-1: Vera retired at 19:53 AEST.


Mauresmo finds her form [Teletext 498]
>>>
Vera Zvonarëva, seeded 23rd, retired in her match against Ai Sugiyama, while 32nd seed Julia Vakulenko is also out.
<<<

--------------------------------
6. First-round draw: Bottom half
--------------------------------
6.1 Third quarter: Iroda Tulyaganova
------------------------------------

* Yan,Zi [s] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (jia you Zi!)
* Camille Pin v Monica Niculescu [Q]
* Timea Bacsinszky [Q] v Sophie Ferguson [WC] (hopp Timea!)
* Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] v SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] (I like Sania a lot, but DAVAI IRODA!!)

* Séverine Brémond v LI,NA [24] (allez Séverine!)
* Maria Elena Camerin v Christina Wheeler [WC] (forza Maria Elena!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v Mathilde Johansson [WC] (my loyalty is to Marta)
* MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] v Sofia Arvidsson (allez Marion!)

* Sabine Lisicki [Q] v DINARA SAFINA [16] (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* María Emilia Salerni v Mariya Koryttseva (¡vamos María Emilia!)
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Caroline Wozniacki (my loyalty is to Gisela)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] v Alla Kudryavtseva (davai Alyona!)

* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] v Lourdes Domínguez Lino (dajmo Katarina!)
* Angelika Bachmann v Anastasia Rodionova
* Tathiana Garbin v Eleni Daniilidou
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Sorana Cîrstea (my loyalty is to Ana)


6.2 Bottom quarter: Chakvetadze, Šafářová, Hantuchová
-----------------------------------------------------

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Andrea Petkovic (DAVAI ANNA!!)
* Peng,Shuai [s] v Alisa Kleybanova [Q] (jia you Shuai!)
* Michaëlla Krajíček [DF] v Akiko Morigami [s] (my loyalty is to Michaëlla)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] v Meilen Tu (davai Maria!)

* LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] v Catalina Castaño (POJĎME LUCIE!!)
* Roberta Vinci v Virginia Ruano Pascual (may the better win)
* Alizé Cornet v Clarisa Fernández (allez Alizé!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Vania King (POĎME DANIELA!!)

* NADIA PETROVA [14] v Nicole Pratt
* Anne Kremer v Evgenia Linetskaya (dajee Anne!)
* Laura Granville v Yvonne Meusburger
* Ekaterina Makarova v ÁGNES SZÁVAY [20] (I did a Google Image search for "Ekaterina Makarova" and found an absolute stunner, but unfortunately she wasn't the tennis-player)

* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v Olga Savchuk
* Martina Müller v Pauline Parmentier
* Tsvetana Pironkova v Olga Govortsova (my loyalty is to Tsvetana)
* Nathalie Dechy v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2] (allez Nathalie!)

------------------------------
7. Second-round draw: Top half
------------------------------

* Olga Poutchkova v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (davai Olga!)
* Angelique Kerber v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
* Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] v SYBILLE BAMMER [19] (jia you Su-Wei!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] v Aravane Rezaï (my loyalty is to Tatiana)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] v Anabel Medina Garrigues (davai Elena!)
* SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v Jessica Moore [WC] (kadima Shahar!)
* Elena Vesnina v Jill Craybas (davai Elena!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Lindsay Davenport (DAVAI MARIA!!)

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v Edina Gallovits
* Flavia Pennetta [DF] v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30] (forza Flavia!)
* Yaroslava Shvedova v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] (davai Yaroslava!)
* Casey Dell'Acqua v PATTY SCHNYDER [15]

* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Alicia Molik (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* Tatiana Perebiynis v Ai Sugiyama (davai Tatiana!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v Sandra Klösel [Q]
* Yuan,Meng [Q] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

----------------------------
8. Iroda Tulyaganova preview
----------------------------
8.1 First round
---------------

I hoped that Sania Mirza would get to play a member of my Eternal Fanship here, so that I can follow more closely what could well be the final Grand Slam of her career.

Sania is being prosecuted for "dishonouring the Indian flag", after she sat with her feet up and over it at the recent Hopman Cup. She will stand trial on 10th March, and the likely outcome is three years' imprisonment. This is not the first time that Sania has "dishonoured the Indian flag", the photographic evidence is plastered all over the Internet, and as she is a major star in India, they will want to make an example of her.

What's the world coming to when Sania is going to prison because someone published sole-shots of her in the presence of the Indian flag, when Günther Parche didn't have to spend a single day in jail for stabbing Monica Seles, and the burglars who tied up Anna Chakvetadze haven't even been caught yet? The logic of this world is simple: the innocent go down at the slightest faux pas while the guilty get off scot-free.

I've been a demi-fan of Sania since I first watched her play at Wimbledon 2005, and saw her groundstrokes of flairsome power. She's also very sexy, especially what I've seen of her so far this year.

Sania had a sophomore-slump in 2006, as she had to put up with the distractions of Muslim fundamentalists who issued a fatwa against her for playing tennis in bare legs. 2007 was better, as she compiled a 30:19 record and reached the Stanford final, beating three top-22 players back to back before losing to Anna Chakvetadze.


Sania has had a decent start to 2008, going 1:2 in Hopman Cup singles-rubbers, and reaching the quarter-finals of Hobart (beating two journeywomen, and losing to Flavia Pennetta on the day the flag-complaint was filed), while Iroda finished her miserable 2007 season with a quarter-final at ITF Dubai in December.

The only previous Iroda v Sania meeting was at the Asian Games in December 2006, when Iroda was on decent form, but possibly suffering from the back-injury that would wreck her 2007, and Sania won 6-3 6-0.

Apparently Sania is distraught about her prosecution - hardly a frame of mind conducive to successful tennis - but unless Iroda has been injury-free enough to do some amazing preparation in the last month, it will take a miracle for Iroda to come through this one.

---------------------------
9. Anna Chakvetadze preview
---------------------------

Anna comes here on the back of a 7-5 6-1 loss to Katarina Srebotnik in the first round of Sydney, but I sincerely hope that was just an aberration. I don't think Anna would have beaten Daniela Hantuchová at Hong Kong if she hadn't recovered from her burglary-ordeal of 18th December 2007. Then again, Daniela was suffering from abdominal pains at Hong Kong, so I do wonder if Anna is still affected by the trauma.


9.1 First round
---------------

Anna needs a nice, easy match to, well, ease her way into the Australian Open after the Sydney setback, and she should have one in #92-ranked Andrea Petkovic, against whom she has never played before.

20-year-old Petkovic has snuck into the top 100 almost unnoticed by me, but she's been in and out of there since August 2007. She played many ITF tournaments and WTA qualifying in 2007, and is currently on a 3-match losing-streak after losing her opening-round qualifying-matches at Gold Coast and Sydney to players in the #120s. So if Anna doesn't beat her, she ought to be shot, really.

I don't have time to preview beyond the first round now.

--------------------------
10. Lucie Šafářová preview
--------------------------

I inducted Lucie into my Eternal Fanship on 6th January, having evaluated her from some DVDs I acquired in December from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/): her sensational upset of Amélie Mauresmo in the fourth round here last year, her quarter-final against Czech mate Nicole Vaidišová, and her Paris final against Nadia Petrova (unfortunately the pre-final rounds - including Lucie's upset of Justine Henin - are unavailable from TVI).

Lucie is a joy to watch, the way she goes for broke with her groundstrokes of flairsome power, and the way she runs like the wind and makes amazing winners at full stretch. She upset Mauresmo again at the French Open, and her encounter with Jelena Janković at Wimbledon would have been the match of the tournament had it not been trumped by the even more amazing Vaidišová v Ivanović quarter-final. I just can't wait for a Fed Cup tie between Czechia and Serbia!

After Wimbledon, Lucie's form was disappointing for the rest of the year, and she didn't win a match after reaching the third round of the US Open. She missed the last few weeks of the WTA season with an unspecified illness according to the WTA, while she herself is quoted at www.lucie-safarova.com (http://www.lucie-safarova.com) as saying: "I was injured and I couldn't play for 6 weeks. So I decided to prevent muscular injured [sic] with some special exercises."

Lucie lost to Alicia Molik in her first Hopman Cup singles-rubber, but earned praise from Serena Williams after pushing her to a 7-5 third set in which Lucie had a point for 5-2, despite struggling with a virus. Lucie finally got the win I needed so badly from her as she beat Sania Mirza, and at Sydney she avenged her loss to Molik before having to pull out of the tournament with a right gluteal (buttock) strain.

I sincerely hope Lucie will have had enough time to recover as she prepares to defend her quarter-final.


10.1 First round
----------------

Lucie couldn't have asked for an easier opponent than Catalina Castaño, whose last match was a 6-0 6-0 loss to Sorana Cîrstea in the first qualifying-round of Hobart last week, and who also lost to a player ranked #948 in the first qualifying-round of Auckland. In fact, Castaño is on a losing-streak of 8 matches, stretching back to the quarter-finals of Seoul last September; she also had a 9-match losing-streak from June to September. This was the girl who lost 6-0 6-1 to 47-year-old Martina Navrátilová at Wimbledon 2004.

Lucie has never played Castaño before, but injured or not, she should be able to beat her with her legs tied together.

I don't have time to preview beyond the first round now, save to acknowledge that the seedings decree a mouthwatering third-round match with Daniela Hantuchová - it's a shame that one of them will have to lose earlier than she did last year.

------------------------------
11. Daniela Hantuchová preview
------------------------------

After losing 6-4 6-3 to Anna Chakvetadze at Hong Kong, Daniela pulled out of the exhibition-tournament (doubles and losers' play-off) with abdominal pains that reportedly made her a doubt for the Australian Open. But she bounced back at Sydney with a 5-7 6-4 6-4 win over the very dangerous Dinara Safina, before losing 6-4 6-2 to the very brilliant Nicole Vaidišová.


11.1 First round
----------------

When then-17-year-old Vania King swept to the Bangkok title in October 2006 winning six sets 6-1, I feared that my girls had a major new force to reckon with. But King (presumably no relation to Billie Jean) had a disappointing 2007 with a 21:24 win/loss record, dropping out of the top 100. She finished the year with two Tier III quarter-finals (her only quarter-finals of the year), and began 2008 with one win and one loss in qualifying for Hobart.

Daniela has never played King before. King does pose a slight threat to Daniela based purely on her Bangkok 2006 form, but her eyes are too far apart for my liking, and if Daniela were to lose to her, she should hang her head in shame.

I don't have time to preview beyond the first round now, save to acknowledge that the seedings decree a mouthwatering third-round match with Lucie Šafářová - it's a shame that one of them will have to lose earlier than she did last year.

-------------------
12. Andrew's wishes
-------------------
12.1 Second round: Bottom half
------------------------------

+ Yan,Zi [s] d. Camille Pin
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. Timea Bacsinszky [Q]
+ Séverine Brémond d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]

+ María Emilia Salerni d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [21]
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] d. Anastasia Rodionova
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Tathiana Garbin

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Peng,Shuai [s]
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. Michaëlla Krajíček [DF]
+ LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] d. Roberta Vinci
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Alizé Cornet

+ Anne Kremer d. NADIA PETROVA [14]
+ Ekaterina Makarova d. Laura Granville
+ Pauline Parmentier d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Nathalie Dechy


12.2 Third-round wishes
-----------------------

+ Olga Poutchkova d. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S]
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Elena Vesnina

+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ Yaroslava Shvedova d. PATTY SCHNYDER [15]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Tatiana Perebiynis
+ SERENA WILLIAMS [7] d. VICTORIA AZARENKA [26]

+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. Yan,Zi [s]
+ MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] d. Séverine Brémond
+ Gisela Dulko [DF] d. María Emilia Salerni
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28]

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF]
+ Anne Kremer d. Ekaterina Makarova
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Pauline Parmentier


12.3 Fourth-round wishes
------------------------

+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Olga Poutchkova
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17]
+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Yaroslava Shvedova
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Gisela Dulko [DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Anne Kremer


12.4 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Flavia Pennetta [DF]
+ Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Tsvetana Pironkova


12.5 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF]


12.6 Final wish
---------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

-------------------------------------
13. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
-------------------------------------

This section presents my selections - the full draw can be found at
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

* (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[15] v Mariya Koryttseva/Tatiana Perebiynis
* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v (MARIA KIRILENKO [DF]/ÁGNES SZÁVAY)[11]
* Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Li,Na v (PENG,SHUAI/SUN,TIANTIAN)[8]
* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v (LISA RAYMOND/FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE)[9]

-----------------------------
14. Order of Play for Tuesday
-----------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Andrea Petkovic
MS 1r: Thomas Johansson v MARCOS BAGHDATIS [15]
WS 1r: ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Sorana Cîrstea
MS 1r: JAMES BLAKE [12] v Nicolás Massú

Margaret Court Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 1r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Vania King
MS 1r: Lee,Hyunk-Taik v Chris Guccione
MS 1r: Mariano Zabaleta v Peter Luczak
Evening-session (not before 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS 1r: Konstantinos Economidis v FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ [7]

Court 6 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: JUAN MÓNACO [21] v Carlos Berlocq
WS 1r: Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF] v SANIA MIRZA [31,DF]
MS 1r: Nicolas Kiefer v JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22]
WS 1r: Séverine Brémond v LI,NA [24]

Court 13 (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: Thierry Ascione v FERNANDO VERDASCO [25]
WS 1r: Ekaterina Makarova v ÁGNES SZÁVAY [20]
WS 1r: LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] v Catalina Castaño
MS 1r: Fabrice Santoro [s] v John Isner

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

Great news for European tennis-fans: the Women's Singles final will be in the evening-session from 2009 onwards, so this is the last year I'll have to either get up at 2am or stay up till 4am to watch it live!

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

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

andrewbroad
Jan 15th, 2008, 10:36 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round results
3. Chakvetadze v Petkovic review
4. Hantuchová v King review
5. Tulyaganova v Mirza review
6. Šafářová v Castaño review
7. Yan v Williams TV-report
8. Second-round draw
9. Andrew's wishes
10. Order of Play for Wednesday

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

James Bond: "Don't you miss the outside world?"
Karl Stromberg: "For me, this is all the world. There is beauty... there is ugliness... and there is death."


Iroda Tulyaganova and Sania Mirza:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=tulyaganova

Daniela 'Dani-long-legs' Hantuchová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Anna Chakvetadze:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze

Lucie Šafářová:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=safarova

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

Ana Ivanović:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic

Gisela Dulko and Caroline Wozniacki:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=dulko

Séverine Brémond:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=bremond

Marion Bartoli:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=bartoli

Yan,Zi:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=yan

Akiko Morigami:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=morigami

Sabine Lisicki (new Kirilenko-esque beauty):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=lisicki

Search Getty Images for:
tulyaganova (or mirza)
hantuchova
chakvetadze
safarova
kirilenko
ivanovic (Sorana Cîrstea looks good too)
dulko
bremond
bartoli
yan
morigami (or krajicek)
peng
lisicki

Various players including Anna Chakvetadze consoling her injured opponent (I think you can see where the burglars injured Anna too), and Daniela Hantuchová:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7188629.stm

Many players (including an amazing one of Marion Bartoli at Jan 15, 7:57 am EST):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

----------------------
2. First-round results (Tuesday 15th January)
----------------------

The right girls won:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Vania King, 6-3 7-5
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Andrea Petkovic, 0-0* (40/40) retired (right-knee injury)
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. Meilen Tu, 6-4 4-6 6-3
+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] d. Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-4 7-6 (7/4)
+ Alizé Cornet d. Clarisa Fernández, 6-3 6-3
+ Maria Elena Camerin d. Christina Wheeler [WC], 6-1 6-2
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] d. Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 4-6 6-0 9-7
+ Anne Kremer d. Evgenia Linetskaya, 7-6 (10/8) 6-0
+ Sabine Lisicki [Q] d. DINARA SAFINA [16], 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 6-2
+ Timea Bacsinszky [Q] d. Sophie Ferguson [WC], 6-4 6-3

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF], 6-4 6-2
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Sorana Cîrstea, 7-5 6-3
+ Marta Domachowska [Q] d. Mathilde Johansson [WC], 6-1 6-1
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Olga Govortsova, 6-1 6-1
+ Akiko Morigami [s] d. Michaëlla Krajíček [DF], 6-2 6-2
+ Virginia Ruano Pascual d. Roberta Vinci, 6-4 6-4

Sorana Cîrstea served for the first set at *5-4 but failed; Ana Ivanović let a 5-0* second-set lead become *5-3. Ana said: "She's a new, up-and-coming player. I think she has a bright future in front of her."

Michaëlla Krajíček had a left-wrist injury that meant she couldn't hit two-handed backhands. I don't think those sunglasses do much for her looks or her game, either.

Very very bad I felt today:
- LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] lt. Catalina Castaño, 1-6 4-6
- Gisela Dulko [DF] lt. Caroline Wozniacki, 1-6 1-6
- MARION BARTOLI [10,DF,S] lt. Sofia Arvidsson, 7-6 (7/3) 4-6 3-6
- Peng,Shuai [s] lt. Alisa Kleybanova [Q], 5-7 6-4 7-9
- Yan,Zi [s] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 2-6 5-7
- Séverine Brémond lt. LI,NA [24], 2-6 6-4 4-6
- María Emilia Salerni lt. Mariya Koryttseva, 2-6 3-6
- Nathalie Dechy lt. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2], 3-6 1-6

The first round has reduced the representatives of my Eternal Fanship from seven to four, and only one of Daniela Hantuchová and Anna Chakvetadze can reach the quarter-finals. :-(

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/07ws.html

--------------------------------
3. Chakvetadze v Petkovic review
--------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Andrea Petkovic, 0-0* (40/40) retired (right-knee injury)

What a shame. Anna is lacking match-play, so I was hoping for a much longer workout than these 3 minutes of play. On the other hand, she was "spared the sapping sun" [Ossian Shine, Reuters].

Apparently Petkovic hyperextended her right knee in her opening service-game, and collapsed in agony. Of course I'm sorry for her, but it had to have happened to one of them with the match after theirs starting as soon as it did, so thank God it's her instead of Anna.


3.1 Articles (containing new information about December's burglary)
------------

Kuznetsova eases past Dechy test [CEEFAX 493]
>>>
And sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze also progressed when Andrea Petkovic retired hurt in the first game of their match.
<<<

Kuznetsova in a hurry [Teletext 497]
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze played only six points before German opponent Andrea Petkovic retired, while ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová also won.
<<<

Sixth seed Chakvetadze through after Petkovic injury (Reuters)
(reporting by Simon Cambers; editing by Greg Stutchbury)
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze advanced to the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday when Germany's Andrea Petkovic retired with a right-knee injury in the first game of their match.

The 20-year-old Petkovic, ranked 92, suffered the injury when stretching for a forehand, and after treatment, the tearful German told Chakvetadze she was unable to continue.

Russian Chakvetadze was a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park last year.
<<<

Ðoković and Ivanović lead charge into Aussie Open tennis round two (AFP)
>>>
Russia's Chakvetadze was the first player through to the second round on Tuesday, barely breaking a sweat with German opponent Andrea Petkovic retiring hurt after wrenching her knee.

Chakvetadze revealed her preparations had been shattered after she was tied up by armed thieves during a terrifying robbery last month at her home just outside Moscow.

"I am trying not to think about it; I am trying to think about tennis and trying to forget this," she said.
<<<

Venus, Ivanović advance at Australian Open (AFP)
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze, meanwhile, revealed she was still struggling with the trauma of being tied up by bandits at her Moscow home last month, and wanted a winning-streak Down Under to take her mind off events.

Chakvetadze went through when Germany's Andrea Petkovic retired after wrenching her knee in the opening game of their match.

The 20-year-old said she was grateful to be able to concentrate on tennis rather than dwelling on a robbery last month, where hooded thieves burst into her house, pistol-whipped her father and stole about $250,000 in cash, jewellery and other goods.

Chakvetadze suffered a minor finger-injury when she was tied up, and the ordeal left Australian Open preparation in tatters.

"I am trying not to think about it; I am trying to think about tennis and trying to forget this," she said.

"If I think about it more, I won't be mentally ready to play."
<<<

Chakvetadze moving on
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
After a brutal home-invasion last month interrupted her Australian Open preparations, sixth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze is still lacking a much-needed match-practice after her first-round opponent retired in the opening game.

Chakvetadze and her parents were tied up by six masked assailants who broke into her home outside Moscow on 18th December, stealing money and goods worth more than $300,000 and beating her father.

The 20-year-old player said she lost feeling in the fingers on her left hand for several days as a result of being bound around her wrists.

Her first match of this year's Open lasted just six points on Tuesday before her opponent Andrea Petkovic retired with an injured right knee with the score at 0-0 and deuce.

"I think it's better to play some matches before a Grand Slam event," a disappointed Chakvetadze said.

Chakvetadze said she's trying to put last month's robbery out of her mind and concentrate on the Australian Open.

"I feel better, I feel okay, and I'm thinking about tennis right now, trying not to think about these things that happened with me and my family," she said.

Chakvetadze is accompanied by her father Djambuli, while her mother and 9-year-old brother Roman remained in Moscow.

"Now we have everything," she said of the beefed-up security at the family-home. "We have a bodyguard in the house, we have an alarm. But before it happened, we had just security on the gate."

Chakvetadze, playing in her fourth Australian Open, reached the quarter-finals here last year before losing to eventual runner-up Maria Sharapova.
<<<

Other Anna-quote: "You can't control these things; it can happen to anyone."


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

Anna has never played the 18-year-old world #154 Alisa Kleybanova before, and I don't know much about her. Last year, she played almost exclusively on the ITF Women's Circuit, winning $25k Monteroni d'Arbia and compiling a 41:13 record for 2007. In 2008, she successfully qualified for Gold Coast, and lost 6-1 6-3 to Patty Schnyder in the first round there.

Let's take a look at the qualifier Kleybanova's route to the second round:
1q + Marie-Ève Pelletier, 6-3 6-4
2q + Iveta Benešová, 6-3 6-1
3q + Olivia Sánchez, 6-0 6-4
1r + Peng,Shuai [s], 7-5 4-6 9-7

With seven wins this year, Kleybanova certainly has an advantage of match-play over Anna, but her last match was a three-hour marathon in the hottest part of the day (I believe it was (or at least going to be) 37°C on Tuesday), so it could be very tough for her to recover from that, and Anna should have way too much class for her despite the trauma of the burglary.

---------------------------
4. Hantuchová v King review
---------------------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Vania King, 6-3 7-5

They were playing first up, in the heat of a very hot Australian day, so it was nice to get this done in straight sets, despite Daniela being a break down in the second (she was *0-2 down, but broke back for *2-2).

Daniela went for broke in typical fashion, with a W:UE ratio of 34:35. She served 5 aces, but will need to improve her first-serves-in percentage from 57% if she is to trouble, say, Anna Chakvetadze in the fourth round (the next mouthwatering match for me to look forward to now that Lucie Šafářová is out).


4.1 Articles
------------

Kuznetsova in a hurry [Teletext 497]
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze played only six points before German opponent Andrea Petkovic retired, while ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová also won.
<<<

Hantuchová too good for American
By Carla Okai <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová has overpowered Vania King from the USA to win her first round match at the Australian Open 2008 6-3 7-5.

Both players had shaky starts, breaking each other's serves repeatedly in the first set.

King soon took advantage of Hantuchová's weaker second serve, returning backhands her opponent just couldn't handle.

Although slow to start, Hantuchová finally began to show some form warranting her No.9 seeding, covering the court with agility.

The 24-year-old Slovakian overpowered King from the baseline, her height giving her the advantage she needed. Both players rarely ventured to the net, preferring to slog it out.

In the second set, Hantuchová was tested early as her serve let her down. But her dominating forehand proved too much for King, taking the match in 110 minutes.
<<<

Favourites keep cool in Australian sun (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Greg Stutchbury)
>>>
Women's ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová survived a decent workout before downing American Vania King 6-3 7-5, though she too refused to speculate on her chances.

"I was just really pleased to get through in two sets - it was tough out there," the Slovak smiled.

"It was very tight. I was just pleased with the way I hung in there and played the big points well. That was crucial today.

"I'm fully fit, and so I just want to go out there and enjoy it."
<<<

Daniela's press-conference:
>>>
Q. Summarise that game for us. It was a good one first up?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Very tight.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, it was very tight. I was really glad to get through in two sets. I mean, it was quite a big fight, especially in the second set. I thought Vania was playing very well.

I was just pleased the way I hang in there and play the big points well. That was, I think, crucial today.

Q. What is your goal for this year?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Not really putting any expectations. I mean, just want to go out there and play my best in every match, and how far I get in the tournaments, we'll see.

Obviously I feel like I'm playing well and I'm pretty confident. So, yeah, I just want to enjoy it and always do my best.

Q. Fully fit?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yes, fully fit.
<<<

She sure is! ;-)


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

1r: Alizé Cornet d. Clarisa Fernández, 6-3 6-3

Alizé is one week shy of her 18th birthday. Daniela beat her in the first round here last year: 6-4 6-1 (their only meeting).

But Alizé has come so far since then, winning the French Open Girls' Singles title. Playing a mixture of WTA and ITF Women's Circuit tournaments, Alizé compiled an impressive 42:18 record for 2007, winning ITF Dnepropetrovsk, and winning five matches in a row to qualify and reach the third round of the US Open, where she took a set off world #3 Jelena Janković.

Alizé was also runner-up at ITF Bordeaux last September, but starting with the final there, she lost four matches in a row, including her only pre-AO match of 2008: a 6-3 6-3 loss to Olga Savchuk in the first qualifying-round of Sydney.

I don't think Alizé has the form to beat Daniela right now, but she's a solid counterpuncher who could make life difficult for a set at least, if Daniela has one of her customary walkabouts. My prediction: Daniela 6-3 5-7 6-2.

-----------------------------
5. Tulyaganova v Mirza review
-----------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Iroda Tulyaganova [WC,EF], 6-4 6-2

An expected result after the year Iroda's had. She served a monstrous 11 double faults in nine service-games, and had a W:UE ratio of 15:31, while Sania's was 21:20. At least Iroda's serve has lost none of its power (up to 119mph), but she only got 50% of first serves in, and it made a huge difference when she did so.

At least it doesn't feel so bad that she lost to Sania, whom I like a lot as a player, and find very sexy. I also have a great deal of sympathy for Sania over the persecution she continues to suffer, and I hope she goes on to do all the things I unrealistically wanted Iroda to do at this tournament.


5.1 Articles
------------

The following articles focus on Sania, but I've only included those that mention Iroda.

Mirza admits she considered quitting over flag-row (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
>>>
Sania Mirza, at the centre of controversy in India for reportedly disrespecting her national flag, admitted on Tuesday she had considered quitting the sport over the row.

But the 21-year-old, who advanced to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-2 win over Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan, said it was only a fleeting thought, and she expected to be around for a while yet.

"I think a lot of thoughts went through my head in the last couple of weeks," Mirza told reporters.

"One of the thoughts was that [to quit the sport], but I wouldn't say it was serious enough that I am going to quit right now."

Mirza is the subject of a court-summons in the central city of Bhopal after a private citizen made a complaint under the country's Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act.

The controversy surrounds a photograph taken at the Hopman Cup mixed-team event in Perth, played at the beginning of the year, that appeared to show Mirza's bare feet resting near the national flag.

The maximum punishment for the offence is a three-year jail-term, but Mirza, one of her country's biggest sporting-heroes, said she would never do anything to hurt India.

"I just know that I would not do anything to disrespect my country," she said.

"I love my country - I wouldn't be playing Hopman Cup otherwise - but besides that, I am not allowed to comment."

Mirza admitted, though, that her preparations for the year's first Grand-Slam event had been affected by the controversy.

"It's not easy to deal with things like that off the court," she said.

"Obviously there are some misunderstandings happening. I am not super-human, so it does affect me a little bit.

"I am not a politician here, to outsmart people and try to fight. That's not what I am trying to do - I am trying to play tennis, I am 21, and I am trying to do the best I can.

"However I try and block it out, it's still at the back of my mind. Under the circumstances, I am just glad I came through the first round."
<<<

Sania Mirza tries to focus on the court despite troubles off
By Dennis Passa: AP Sports Writer
>>>
In her darkest moments, Sania Mirza wonders if she should quit tennis.

The Indian tennis-star wishes her only concern before a match was to study her opponent. But it is hardly that simple.

Instead, she's taking phone-calls from lawyers in India, answering questions about her loyalty to her country, and defending her Muslim beliefs.

"It's not easy to deal with things like that off the court. I am not superhuman so it does affect me," Mirza said Tuesday after her first-round victory at the Australian Open. "As much as I try to block it out, it's still in the back of your mind."

When she first came on the WTA Tour full time three years ago - her first Grand Slam was the Australian Open in 2005 - she was often criticised for her short skirts and midriff-revealing T-shirts that put her at odds with sections of the orthodox Muslim clergy.

Now her nationalism has been questioned. She was photographed at the Hopman Cup in Perth this month with her bare feet near an Indian flag.

On 9th January, a social worker in India went to court in Bhopal and had a judge issue a summons under the "Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act." The court was told that Mirza disrespected the Indian flag by "sitting in a manner so that her feet pointed at the flag, which he felt was derogatory and had hurt him."

Mirza insists she would never show lack of respect for India.

"I love my country," said Mirza, who is from the southern city of Hyderabad. "I wouldn't be playing Hopman Cup otherwise. But other than that, I am not allowed to comment because it is before the courts."

Last week, she said she considered quitting tennis and ending a career that has brought her one WTA Tour title and seven final-appearances.

"It does play on your mind. You do start to think that at the end of the day, I am not a politician to outsmart people," Mirza said. "That's not what I am trying to do, which is to play tennis. I'm 21 and trying to be the best I can be.

"A lot of thoughts went through my head in the past couple of weeks, and one of the thoughts was [quitting]. But I wouldn't say that they were serious enough that I would quit right now."

On Tuesday, the 31st-seeded Mirza won 6-4 6-2 over wild card Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan.

"It was very tricky to play again," Mirza said. "I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to blank out everything and play a tennis-match."

In 2005, she became the first Indian woman to advance to the third round of a Grand Slam, losing to Serena Williams in Australia after being granted a wild card.

"It is very special," she said. "There were a lot of firsts involved."

This year, she could face Venus Williams in the third round if she beats Switzerland's Timea Bascinszky in the second round.

"I always feel confident when I come back here," she said.

"At the end of the day, it is a sport, and we deal with bad line-calls on a daily basis," Mirza says, then adds, smiling, "I have my own set of controversies to deal with."
<<<

Women tennis-players approached to throw matches
By Dennis Passa: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan, who lost her first-round match on Tuesday to India's Sania Mirza, attended Saturday's meeting [with WTA CEO Larry Scott and 250 female players]. She said it was important that the gambling-issues were discussed.

"The public has to know that the outcome of our matches are fair, that they aren't affected by people on the Tour or off it who stand to make money from the result," said Tulyaganova. "It's the only way we can have any credibility."

Mirza said she has "never been approached, and I do not know personally of anyone who has been approached" to throw matches.

"As far as we know, women's tennis is clean," she said. "A lot has happened of course in the men's and there is a lot of talk.

"I think there needs to be a punishment - it's a profession."
<<<

Match-fixing is another prime example of what I was saying about the innocent being punished while the guilty get off scot-free. The ATP have dragged Nikolay Davydenko's name through the mud without any proof of wrongdoing, and banned three Italian men who bet on tennis-matches other than their own, but they are no closer to catching the real villains (and it's a fair bet that match-fixing does go on in the lower echelons of tennis) until they start bugging the locker-rooms, and using wiretappers and packet-sniffers to monitor telephone- and Internet-conversations.

The ATP talk about suspicious betting-patterns, but I'm more concerned about suspicious banning-patterns, given that they target Italians over gambling and Argentinians over doping.

And if it's true that the Russian Mafia are forcing players to throw matches, God help us.

----------------------------
6. Šafářová v Castaño review
----------------------------

- LUCIE ŠAFÁŘOVÁ [22,EF] lt. Catalina Castaño, 1-6 4-6

When I said that Lucie could beat Castaño with her legs tied together, I didn't mean that she should actually put that claim to the test! :-o

Seriously, I can only assume that Lucie hasn't recovered from her right gluteal strain, and didn't want to miss a Grand Slam. The annoying thing is that the media don't go into any detail about this match, or even acknowledge that Lucie was injured.

Janine <www.lucie-safarova.com>: "yes if she wasn´t 100% because she was injured on the leg, and in sydney on another place on the same leg... it´s affected her but It was already better"

The statistics on this match don't include W:UE ratios, which Lucie lives and dies by. Her service-stats don't look too bad (6 aces and reasonable percentages), but it appears she didn't put nearly enough pressure on Castaño's second serve - attacking her opponent's second serve is one of Lucie's great strengths when she's playing well. Lucie had two break-points and squandered them both, while Castaño converted 3 of 8.

It's such a shame, but this is one of the reasons I inducted Lucie into my Eternal Fanship this month instead of waiting for her next big win: I'm well aware that the last few months haven't worked out for her, but I know how I feel about her now, and I'm not a bandwagon-jumper or a fairweather-fan. I'm in this for the long haul, for better or for worse.


Bartoli suffers shock loss [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Bartoli upset by Swede [Teletext 497]

Wimbledon-finalist Marion Bartoli became the highest women's seed to fall in the first round, losing to Sofia Arvidsson in three sets in Melbourne.

Tenth seed Bartoli has struggled since her breakthrough at SWW19, and crashed out 6-7 6-4 6-3 against the Swede.

Dinara Safina, seeded 16th, was beaten 7-6 4-6 6-2 by world No 194 Sabine Lisicki, while Catalina Castaño saw off 2007 quarter-finalist Lucie Šafářová.
<<<

---------------------------
7. Yan v Williams TV-report
---------------------------

- Yan,Zi [s] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 2-6 5-7

I saw the beginning and the end of the match on BBCi - around a serious snafu in their Freeview-coverage. Williams was 6-2 5-2* up, but made some unbelievable errors before finally closing it out, and credit to Miss Yan for raising her own game in response.

Yan's prematch interview: "Before, I play Centre Court only doubles, but this time I play singles, so I'm very exciting, and I hope I play a good match today."


First set
---------
YAN _* *____ 2
WIL * * *@*@ 6

The match started at 19:48 AEST.

Williams serving 0-0: Serve out wide + forehand winner down the line. 15/0. Service-winner. 30/0. A deep crosscourt backhand induced Yan to spray her two-handed forehand long. 40/0. Ace down the middle.

John Lloyd mentioned the rumours about Monica Seles's comeback this year, after saying that Williams's game was particularly effective against Selesians (he didn't use that word) because of their restricted reach.

Yan serving 0-1: Williams netted a forehand return. 15/0. Williams forehand wide. 30/0. Yan forehand just long. 30/15. Yan forehand just wide. 30/30. A deep shot from Yan forced Williams into error. 40/30. Serve out wide + deep forehand winner just inside the baseline.

Williams serving 1-1: First serve: Yan blasted a crosscourt forehand return just wide. 15/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 15/15. And again. 15/30. Yan's length induced Williams to net a backhand. 15/40 (2 BPs). Williams saved the first with an error-forcing crosscourt backhand. 30/40. Service-winner down the middle. 40/40. Service-winner out wide. Ad Williams. Yan netted a forehand return.

Wow - almost first blood to Selesia!

BBCi announced a two-hour gap in their Freeview-coverage, so I set my alarm for 21:55 AEST; when I checked at 20:25 AEST there was nothing on BBCi, but when I checked again at 20:42 AEST, they were showing this match again!


Second set
----------
YAN @*_____*@*__ 5
WIL __*@*@*___*@ 7

Yan serving 2-3: 0/40 (3 BPs). Williams had Yan at her mercy, but netted a high forehand volley. 15/40. Williams forced Yan to block a defensive forehand lob long.

Williams serving 4-2: Service-winner. 15/0. Williams netted a backhand. 15/15. And again. 15/30 Yan netted a forehand return. 30/30. Service-winner. 40/30. Serve out wide + high forehand drive-volley winner crosscourt.

Yan serving 2-5: Yan netted a tame backhand on the third stroke. 0/15. Williams slapped a forehand return into the net. 15/15. Yan played a mild spreading rally, inducing Williams to spray a forehand long. 30/15. Williams netted a forehand. 40/15. Williams sprayed a forehand very long.

John Lloyd gave Williams 6/10 for her form in this match. "Very up and down with her concentration."

Williams serving 5-3: Quadruple fault! 0/30. Williams overhit a forehand just long. 0/40 (3 BPs). A big first serve forced a short return, but Williams hit an unbelievable backhand long to complete "an absolute shocker of a game" [John Lloyd]. To me, she looked nervous!

Yan just has to hang in here, and who knows what might happen?

Yan serving 4-5: Yan on the third stroke hit a backhand just long. 0/15. Williams netted a backhand. 15/15. Yan played a nice spreading rally with a high forehand volley-winner crosscourt. 30/15. Yan opened up the court with a wonderful short-angled crosscourt forehand + crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15. Yan backhand long. 40/30. Williams forehand long.

Williams serving 5-5: Williams sprayed a backhand wide off a deep forehand return from Yan - that's what happens when you're nervous: you don't move your feet. 0/15. Second serve: Yan netted a cheap forehand return. 15/15. Double fault (second serve just long - Yan used up a Hawkeye-challenge to show a tiny gap between ball and line). 30/15. After a long rally, Yan tried a dropshot; Williams easily ran it down to hit a forehand winner down the line. 40/15. Serve + forehand winner.

The commentators praised Yan for raising her game in response to Williams's wobble.

Yan serving 5-6: Yan mishit a forehand long off a deep, low ball from Williams. 0/15. Williams came to the net; Yan had a chance to hit a crosscourt backhand pass, but netted it. 0/30. Williams netted a forehand return. 15/30. Yan netted a backhand after a longish rally. 15/40 (MP #1). Yan netted a backhand on the third stroke. Williams won 6-2 7-5 at 21:03 (1h15m).


Excerpts from Williams's on-court interview
-------------------------------------------

VENUS WILLIAMS: A lot of fun out here. I love doing what I do. Happy to be back.

TODD WOODBRIDGE: Don't those earrings annoy you?

VENUS WILLIAMS: The only thing that annoys me is when I miss. I'm victimised by Serena and the rest of my sisters - they take my things.


Excerpts from Williams's press-conference
-----------------------------------------

"She really stayed in there, definitely made me play some balls that I wasn't expecting to come back. Errors happen - that's tennis."

--------------------
8. Second-round draw
--------------------
8.1 Top half
------------

* Olga Poutchkova v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (davai Olga!)
* Angelique Kerber v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
* Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] v SYBILLE BAMMER [19] (jia you Su-Wei!)
* TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] v Aravane Rezaï (my loyalty is to Tatiana)

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] v Anabel Medina Garrigues (davai Elena!)
* SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v Jessica Moore [WC] (kadima Shahar!)
* Elena Vesnina v Jill Craybas (davai Elena!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Lindsay Davenport (DAVAI MARIA!!)

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v Edina Gallovits
* Flavia Pennetta [DF] v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30] (forza Flavia!)
* Yaroslava Shvedova v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] (davai Yaroslava!)
* Casey Dell'Acqua v PATTY SCHNYDER [15]

* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Alicia Molik (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* Tatiana Perebiynis v Ai Sugiyama (davai Tatiana!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v Sandra Klösel [Q]
* Yuan,Meng [Q] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]


8.2 Bottom half
---------------

* VENUS WILLIAMS [8] v Camille Pin
* SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] v Timea Bacsinszky [Q] (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Maria Elena Camerin v LI,NA [24] (forza Maria Elena!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v Sofia Arvidsson (dawaj Marta!)

* Sabine Lisicki [Q] Mariya Koryttseva (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] v Caroline Wozniacki (my loyalty is to Alyona)
* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] v Anastasia Rodionova (dajmo Katarina!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Tathiana Garbin (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Alisa Kleybanova [Q] (DAVAI ANNA!!)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] v Akiko Morigami [s] (my loyalty is to Maria)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v Catalina Castaño (¡vamos Virginia!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Alizé Cornet (I like Alizé, but POĎME DANIELA!!)

* Anne Kremer v NADIA PETROVA [14] (dajee Anne!)
* Yvonne Meusburger v Ekaterina Makarova
* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v Pauline Parmentier
* Tsvetana Pironkova v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2] (aide Tsvetana!)


8.3 Articles
------------

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1974
>>>
Lindsay Davenport (USA) v Maria Sharapova (RUS) [5] - Sharapova leads 4:1

The evening-session on Rod Laver Arena will be highlighted by the mouthwatering clash between two former No.1's: Davenport and Sharapova.

Davenport is competing in her first Major since the US Open 2006 - after missing much of last season due to the birth of her first child - and has been in sparkling form since her return to action. The 2000 Australian Open champion won the third title of her comeback two weeks ago in Auckland and, despite being pushed hard by Sara Errani in her opening match, will come into the second-round contest brimming with confidence.

However, Sharapova will also enter the meeting in buoyant mood thanks to a comfortable victory over Jelena Kostanić Tošić on Day 1, and after finishing runner-up 12 months ago, the young Russian will be intent on going one better this time around.

It will be the sixth meeting between the two players, and while Sharapova holds a commanding 4:1 head-to-head lead, all of her triumphs went the distance and Wednesday night's match-up promises to be another classic.
<<<

Davenport faces tough test (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Early-round matches at most Grand Slams often lack intrigue.

That won't be the case on Wednesday as Lindsay Davenport clashes with No. 5 Maria Sharapova in the second round of the Australian Open.

Both former No. 1 players, Davenport has emphatically rejuvenated her career in recent months, and Sharapova is attempting to make a return-trip to the final here.

A champion here in 2000, the 31-year-old Davenport returned to the WTA Tour in September following an 11-month absence due to pregnancy.

In four events since launching her comeback, the three-time Grand Slam champion has gone 18:1, winning three titles.

The unseeded American ran that mark to 19:1 on Monday with a 6-2 3-6 7-5 victory over Sara Errani of Italy in the first round of this $20.6 million hardcourt Major.

The 20-year-old Sharapova - a runner-up to Serena Williams here last year - owns a 4:1 edge in the all-time series with Davenport, including a win in the semi-finals at Wimbledon 2004. The Russian went on to win that event: the first of her two Grand Slam titles.

With the exception of Davenport's only win in the series - an inexplicable 6-0 6-0 triumph during the 2005 Indian Wells semi-finals - every match has gone three sets.
<<<

Davenport and Sharapova to light up Melbourne (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
>>>
Comeback mum Lindsay Davenport will return to the Grand Slam centre stage on Wednesday when she plays Maria Sharapova in the highlight of the third day's action at the Australian Open.

World number one Justine Henin, defending champion Serena Williams and men's second seed Rafael Nadal will also be on court.

But it is the second-round match, set for the night-session, between two former world number ones which is sure to capture the headlines.

American Davenport has won 19 of her 20 matches - and three of her four events - since returning to the tour last September after a year off in which she had her first child.

Fifth seed Sharapova - a former Wimbledon and US Open champion - will represent Davenport's biggest test yet.

"It will be interesting," Davenport - the 2000 Australian Open champion - said.

"It will be the first Grand-Slam winner I've played since being back.

"She's a great player. She's one of the few players I don't have a winning record against probably in the draw. We play very similar styles. She's outplayed me the last couple times we played."
<<<

------------------
9. Andrew's wishes
------------------
9.1 Third-round wishes
----------------------

+ Olga Poutchkova d. FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S]
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Elena Vesnina

+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ Yaroslava Shvedova d. PATTY SCHNYDER [15]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Tatiana Perebiynis
+ SERENA WILLIAMS [7] d. VICTORIA AZARENKA [26]

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. VENUS WILLIAMS [8]
+ Marta Domachowska [Q] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28]

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Virginia Ruano Pascual
+ Anne Kremer d. Ekaterina Makarova
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Pauline Parmentier


9.2 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF] d. Olga Poutchkova
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17]
+ Flavia Pennetta [DF] d. Yaroslava Shvedova
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [21]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Anne Kremer


9.3 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Flavia Pennetta [DF]
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Tsvetana Pironkova


9.4 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. SANIA MIRZA [31,DF]


9.5 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

-------------------------------
10. Order of Play for Wednesday
-------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: Olga Poutchkova v JUSTINE HENIN [1]
MS 2r: Florent Serra v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
WS 2r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Alicia Molik
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 2r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Lindsay Davenport
MS 2r: ANDY RODDICK [6] v Michael Berrer

Maria will be on BBCi from 08:25 GMT tomorrow! :-)

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

andrewbroad
Jan 16th, 2008, 11:09 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Second-round results
3. Second round: Vaidišová v Molik review
4. Second round: Sharapova v Davenport TV-report
5. Article about Mirza and Tulyaganova
6. Second-round draw: Bottom half
7. Third-round draw: Top half
8. Andrew's wishes
9. Women's Doubles: First-round draw
10. Order of Play for Thursday

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

Maria Sharapova - player of the day, beauty of the day!
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Nicole Vaidišová and Alicia Molik:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311911.html

Shahar Pe'er:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=shahar

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

Wow: Olga looks much better - leaner and sexier - than when I last saw her...

Aravane Rezaď:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=rezai

...unlike Tatiana Golovin, who was beaten in both the tennis- and the beauty-department by Aravane Rezaď. Send a message to the liposuction-branch! ;-)
(I'm just playin', Tati - you know I love you.)

Hsieh,Su-Wei:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hsieh

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova
vaidisova
golovin or rezai
mirza
pennetta
shahar
poutchkova
hsieh
perebiynis

Various players including Maria Kirilenko, Sania Mirza, Ana Ivanović, Sabine Lisicki, Maria Elena Camerin, Olga Poutchkova, Katarina Srebotnik, Timea Bacsinszky and Caroline Wozniacki:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Various players including Maria Sharapova, Olga Poutchkova and Alicia Molik:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7190918.stm

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

-----------------------
2. Second-round results (Wednesday 16th January)
-----------------------

What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Alicia Molik, 6-2 6-3
+ Elena Vesnina d. Jill Craybas, 6-2 6-4
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] d. SYBILLE BAMMER [19], 6-2 6-0
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] d. Anabel Medina Garrigues, 5-7 6-2 6-3

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ Aravane Rezaď d. TATIANA GOLOVIN [13,DF], 6-3 3-6 6-3
+ SHAHAR PE'ER [17] d. Jessica Moore [WC], 6-0 7-5

A shame about Tatiana, but this is one of the best victories of Aravane's career. I love her Seles-like backhand and her smile.

What sucked:
- Olga Poutchkova lt. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 1-6 5-7
- Flavia Pennetta [DF] lt. VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30], 2-6 7-5 3-6
- Yaroslava Shvedova lt. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18], 4-6 6-7 (5/7)
- Tatiana Perebiynis lt. Ai Sugiyama, 4-6 4-6

Olga fought back from *2-5 in the second set, breaking to love at 3-5*! "She really pushed me," admitted Henin. "I never like to play a player I don't know."

Yaroslava fought back from 1-5 in the second set, saving 9 match-points. Mauresmo freely admits that her confidence is low, so I'm looking forward to her imminent trip to the Land of Sweet Demise.

Notable upset:
+ Casey Dell'Acqua d. PATTY SCHNYDER [15], 4-6 7-5 8-6

The commentators mentioned this result in BBCi's coverage of Sharapova v Davenport. They said Dell'Acqua had "transformed herself" this year. Another player I would add to that category, based on her results in qualifying and the first round here, is Marta Domachowska.

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/08ws.html

-----------------------------------------
3. Second round: Vaidišová v Molik review
-----------------------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Alicia Molik, 6-2 6-3

Another impressive performance by Nicole, who broke serve twice in the first set and once in the second without facing a single break-point herself. Good percentages on serve, a positive W:UE ratio of 25:18 - she ticks all the right boxes when I look at the statistics.

Nicole said: "I am definitely happy with my performance. Alicia is the hometown-hero here and had all the support, but I think I played really well."

Alicia said: "Nicole played great. She served out of a tree: not just first serves but second serves as well. I guess that's the best serve I've played against the last six to nine months."


3.1 Articles
------------

Vaidišová defeats home-hero Molik [CEEFAX 495]
>>>
Twelfth seed Nicole Vaidišová was an impressive winner over Melbourne-resident Alicia Molik: 6-2 6-3.

"Alicia is the hometown-hero here and had all the support, but I think I played really well," Vaidišová said.
<<<

Molik crashes out as Vaidišová dazzles
By Tom Kelly <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Nicole Vaidišová has ended the hopes of golden girl Alicia Molik in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena: 6-2 6-3.

The No.12 seed was untroubled on serve throughout the match, Molik failing to earn a break-point on serve whilst surrendering her own serve three times.

Vaidišová was solid from the back of the court, and raced to an early 3-0 lead.

In contrast, the Australian committed 13 unforced errors for the set, and struggled to make an impact on the longer rallies.

The 18-year-old Czech broke Molik again to claim the set 6-2.

The second set started a bit tighter, with Molik using slice on her backhand wing and mixing her shots up.

However the Australian - a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in 2005 - conceded the break when down 4-3, leaving Vaidišová to serve out the set 6-3.
<<<

Vaidišová apologises to local fans
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Alicia Molik has fended off talk her best is behind her after making a hasty second-round exit from the Australian Open.

The local favourite was beaten 6-2 6-3 by the impressive Nicole Vaidišová in a one-sided match on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, raising questions about her ability to fight back to a career-high world ranking of eight.

Asked whether her career was now at the crossroads, the 26-year-old Molik backed herself to rise again as she continues her comeback from a long illness lay-off.

"I've had a lot of disappointing losses. It's the nature of sport," she said.

"I think I'm good enough to get over it, good enough to get through it.

"I want to get out on the practice-court, and want to work on the areas that I still need to work on.

"My career has never been do or die in the past, so I don't feel that way about it now.

"I'm always looking for new challenges. Despite today being disappointing, I look forward to the next time I play Vaidišová.

"Hopefully I can improve on today's performance or scoreline."

Molik will find little comfort in Vaidišová's post-match assessment, with the Czech angry she didn't kill the match off earlier.

"I think I had more opportunities in the second set to step it up and take a bigger lead and finish the match," she said.

But Molik praised the 12th seed's serve and overall game.

"Nicole played great. She served out of a tree: not just first serves but second serves as well," she said.

"I was playing catch-up basically from the first set.

"She's a quality-opponent, so you give someone a good scoreline to run away with and she's too good not to."

Vaidišová's win over Molik - the teenager apologised to the crowd for 'ruining' their day by beating an Australian - books her a third-round meeting with Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama.

And the 18-year-old is taking nothing for granted despite a brilliant start to the year's first Grand Slam.

"I'm not a person who looks at the draw [and] thinks how far they could go," Vaidišová said.

"[i] just take each opponent as it goes."
<<<

3.2 Nicole's press-conference
-----------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com)

Q. You seemed to be kind of frustrated or anxious to get the game moving or finished today. Is that correct?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: No, I just think I had more opportunities in the second set to really, you know, step it up, take a bigger lead, and finish the match. But couple good first serves, shots made it more difficult for me.

Q. Do you see this as a big year for you?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I haven't thought of a big year. I've just, you know, I said my main priority is going to be healthy.

That was definitely a good last year, and, you know, played good. Obviously I want to do better in the Slams than I did last year.

Q. Do you have goals, or just play it tournament by tournament?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Tournament by tournament, match by match probably. I'm not the person who looks at the draw, thinks how far they could go, and just take each opponent as it goes.

------------------------------------------------
4. Second round: Sharapova v Davenport TV-report
------------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3

I saw the whole match on BBCi and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Davenport - who tasted defeat for only the second time in her comeback - didn't play that badly, but Maria showed her respect for her by coming out on top form: her serve was big, her groundstrokes sharp, precise and accurate; she looked two classes better than Davenport at times; she moved much better; she played with exceptional determination and ruthlessness - her performance would have inducted her into my Eternal Fanship if she wasn't there already!

It was easy to see why Maria is a multiple Grand Slam champion, and she looked capable of winning another one - perhaps even on Saturday week, although I'm not getting my hopes up with Henin in her quarter.

Maria had an impressive W:UE ratio of 26:12, while Davenport could only manage 10:16. Maria hit 4 aces and had good percentages on her serve, while Davenport won only 22% of her second-serve points. Maria broke serve 4 times from 10 break-points, without facing a single break-point herself.

Sam Smith said Plexicushion was a better surface for Maria than Rebound Ace, because she gets better pay-off for her hard, flat shots, whereas on Rebound Ace the ball would "fizz up" on her, making her hit it late.

Read my full match-report on my website:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html

--------------------------------------
5. Article about Mirza and Tulyaganova
--------------------------------------

Sania Mirza is failing to fly the flag for India
By Martin Johnson for The Daily Telegraph <www.telegraph.co.uk>
>>>
National pride: Sania Mirza is proving popular but controversial

Melbourne is a long way from home for a young girl from Hyderabad, and ordinarily Sania Mirza would have been pleased to see one of her supporters waving an Indian flag when she walked onto court for her first-round women's singles match at the Australian Open yesterday.

On this occasion, however, the sight of it more likely made her break out into a nervous sweat. A couple of weeks ago, the 21-year-old was photographed with her feet up while watching a colleague playing in an international exhibition-match in Perth, and the proximity of her toes to a nearby Indian flag has raised temperatures in her home-state to vindaloo-levels.

A High Court lawyer has even gone so far as to file a case for her arrest (without bail) and a three-year jail-sentence.

The initial hearing is due to be held this week under something called the "Prevention Of Insult To The National Honour Act", citing "disrespect" to the national flag. India's predilection for red tape, taught to them by the Imperial British, but since refined to gargantuan levels, means that by the time the case gets to court she will probably be a grandmother, but it's a bit of worry nonetheless.

The sight of the flag may have been responsible for her going 1-3 behind early on to Iroda Tulyaganova of Uzbekistan, but she rallied to win comfortably enough in straights sets: 6-4 6-2. The No 31 seed did admit, though, that staying focused was becoming quite a feat when all the attention was on her feet.

"All I want to do is play tennis," she said, which was a bit of a surprise given that tennis is what keeps landing her in hot water.

When she first started out on the pro circuit at the age of 18, the length of her skirts prompted some religious mullah to issue a fatwa, which was a bit of a handicap to her chosen profession given that fashion in women's tennis-apparel has moved on - not to mention up - since Suzanne Lenglen's knickers were covered by several petticoats and a skirt which picked up chalk from the baseline.

Sania's skirt yesterday was no more than a pelmet, although she did offer a compromise by wearing underwear that resembled a pair of bicycle-shorts. She was taking more of a chance with her choice of top though, which flew up over her navel every time she launched herself into a serve.

When Sania, who is Shia Muslim, first bared her thighs on a tennis-court, people took to the streets to burn effigies of her, although this in itself is such a common event in India that it more or less doubles the smog-levels. It's most prevalent after a game of cricket, and there is barely an Indian batsman in history who hasn't had an effigy of himself set on fire.

Sania, who apparently records more hits on the Google Internet-site than even a cricketing-icon like Sachin Tendulkar, only narrowly escaped another fatwa last month by issuing a written apology for filming an advertisement close to a mosque, so one way or another, she keeps putting her foot in it.

Or in the case of flags, on it.

Indians seem to be acutely sensitive over issues that wouldn't raise an eyebrow elsewhere, and their cricketers - currently on the other side of the country in Perth - recently made a complaint (later withdrawn) over an Australian bowler calling one of them a "bastard." This tells you that they don't know much about Australians, for whom the word is close to a term of endearment.

Sania confessed that all the fuss back at home had affected her to the extent of wondering whether it was worthwhile carrying on playing, but she would have had to have been mentally away with the pixies to have been bothered by yesterday's opponent.

The girl from Uzbekistan might have been more of a handful had there not been a net between her and her opponent, which she found so regularly she'd have more chance of making it as a striker for Tashkent United.

She also racked up 11 double faults in nine service-games, but at least Miss Tulyaganova didn't have to worry about the consequences of displaying her knickers: a natty shade of orange.

Sania, on the other hand, could be facing yet another fatwa for her behaviour immediately after leaving the court, when she walked up to a man and - shock, horror - kissed him.

True, it was the lightest of pecks on both cheeks, and she was merely greeting her coach, but back home in Hyderabad, some bearded Indian cleric may already be demanding the death-penalty.
<<<

---------------------------------
6. Second-round draw: Bottom half
---------------------------------

* VENUS WILLIAMS [8] v Camille Pin
* SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] v Timea Bacsinszky [Q] (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Maria Elena Camerin v LI,NA [24] (forza Maria Elena!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v Sofia Arvidsson (dawaj Marta!)

* Sabine Lisicki [Q] Mariya Koryttseva (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] v Caroline Wozniacki (my loyalty is to Alyona)
* KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] v Anastasia Rodionova (dajmo Katarina!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Tathiana Garbin (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Alisa Kleybanova [Q] (DAVAI ANNA!!)
* MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] v Akiko Morigami [s] (my loyalty is to Maria)
* Virginia Ruano Pascual v Catalina Castańo (ˇvamos Virginia!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Alizé Cornet (I like Alizé, but POĎME DANIELA!!)

* Anne Kremer v NADIA PETROVA [14] (dajee Anne!)
* Yvonne Meusburger v Ekaterina Makarova
* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v Pauline Parmentier
* Tsvetana Pironkova v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2] (aide Tsvetana!)

Venus Williams returns to action (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Also lurking in the bottom of the draw are No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia and ninth-seeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchová.

Chakvetadze had an odd start to her tournament on Monday, winning her first-round match when Germany's Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee-injury just three minutes in.

The 20-year-old Russian had her best showing here last season when she reached the quarter-finals, losing to countrywoman and eventual runner-up Maria Sharapova.

While Hantuchová is a top-10 player and taking part in her 29th consecutive Grand Slam, the 24-year-old has never been able to shine in a Major.

Including her stunning first-round exit at last summer's US Open, she has failed to reach the quarter-finals in 19 consecutive Grand Slams. She matched her best effort in a Major when she reached the round of eight here in 2003.

A 6-3 7-5 winner over American Vania King on Monday, Hantuchová's second-round opponent is unseeded Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet.
<<<

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1978
>>>
(6) Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) vs. (Q) Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) - First Meeting

Russia's Chakvetadze enjoyed, without doubt, the smoothest passage into the second round of the Australian Open after her first-round foe Andrea Petkovic was forced to retire after injuring her right knee in the very first game.

Contrastingly, her compatriot Kleybanova was pushed to the very limit on her Grand Slam début against Peng,Shuai, defeating her Chinese opponent 7-5 4-6 9-7 in a thrilling encounter.

Chakvetadze experienced a truly magnificent year on Tour in 2007, capturing four titles and firmly establishing herself in the elite Top 10. However, the 20-year-old's form began to tail off towards the end of the season, and while she still sits a massive 148 places above her opponent in the world-rankings, she is unlikely to have things all her own way in Thursday's battle of the Muscovites.

More to watch...

Former quarter-finalist Daniela Hantuchová required almost two hours to dispose of Vania King in the first round, and will be looking for an improved performance when she meets Alizé Cornet in the day's second match on the Vodaphone Arena.
<<<

-----------------------------
7. Third-round draw: Top half
-----------------------------

* JUSTINE HENIN [1] v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
* Aravane Rezaď v Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] (my loyalty is to Aravane)
* SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] (kadima Shahar!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Elena Vesnina (I like Elena, but DAVAI MARIA!!)

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30] (I want Janković to win)
* Casey Dell'Acqua v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] (anyone but Mauresmo)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Ai Sugiyama (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7] (Azarenka may be growing on me, but I'd still prefer Nicole to have the honour of putting the defending champion out of my misery)

------------------
8. Andrew's wishes
------------------
8.1 Third-round wishes: Bottom half
-----------------------------------

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. VENUS WILLIAMS [8]
+ Marta Domachowska [Q] d. Maria Elena Camerin
+ ALYONA BONDARENKO [21] d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28]

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Virginia Ruano Pascual
+ Anne Kremer d. Ekaterina Makarova
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Pauline Parmentier


8.2 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ Aravane Rezaď d. JUSTINE HENIN [1]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17]
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. Casey Dell'Acqua
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [21]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Tsvetana Pironkova d. Anne Kremer


8.3 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Aravane Rezaď
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Tsvetana Pironkova


8.4 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. SANIA MIRZA [31,DF]


8.5 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

---------------------------------------
9. Women's Doubles: First-round results (Wednesday 16th January)
---------------------------------------

This section presents my selections - the full draw can be found at
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

- (GISELA DULKO [DF]/MARIA ELENA CAMERIN)[15] lt. Mariya Koryttseva/Tatiana Perebiynis, 4-6 5-7
- Anna Chakvetadze [EF]/Li,Na lt. (PENG,SHUAI [s]/SUN,TIANTIAN)[8], 2-6 7-6 (9/7) 2-6

To be played on Thursday:
* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v (MARIA KIRILENKO [DF]/ÁGNES SZÁVAY)[11]
* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v (LISA RAYMOND/FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE)[9]

I have no Fanship-interest in the Mixed Doubles.

------------------------------
10. Order of Play for Thursday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: Tsvetana Pironkova v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2]
MS 2r: Fabrice Santoro [s] v ROGER FEDERER [1]
MS 2r: LLEYTON HEWITT [19] v Denis Istomin
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 2r: ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Tathiana Garbin
MS 2r: Marat Safin v MARCOS BAGHDATIS [15]

Looking forward to watching Ana on BBCi from 08:25 GMT tomorrow. She's my favourite player outside my Eternal Fanship in tennis-terms, and I think she's gone up a level in beauty this year too.

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 2r: VENUS WILLIAMS [8] v Camille Pin
WS 2r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Alizé Cornet
MS 2r: NOVAK ĐOKOVIĆ [3] v Simone Bolelli
MS 2r: DAVID NALBANDIAN [10] v Peter Luczak

Margaret Court Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 2r: Alun Jones [WC] v JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22]
WS 2r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v Alisa Kleybanova [Q]
MS 2r: Juan Martin del Potro v DAVID FERRER [5]
|
Margaret Court Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS 2r: JAMES BLAKE [12] v Michael Russell

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

andrewbroad
Jan 17th, 2008, 10:42 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Second-round results
3. Second round: Hantuchová v Cornet review
4. Second round: Chakvetadze v Kleybanova review
5. Second round: Ivanović v Garbin TV-report
6. Articles about Sharapova, Mirza
7. Third-round draw / previews
8. Andrew's wishes
9. Women's Doubles
10. Order of Play for Friday

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

Anna Chakvetadze (delectable today!):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1082/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze

Daniela Hantuchová and Alizé Cornet:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Elena Vesnina on the beach:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vesnina

Ana Ivanović (she just gets better(,) and better looking!):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic

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

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

Tsvetana Pironkova:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=pironkova

Maria Elena Camerin:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=camerin

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

Sabine Lisicki:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=lisicki

Search Getty Images for:
chakvetadze
hantuchova or cornet
vesnina
ivanovic
kirilenko
mirza
camerin
pironkova
bondarenko or wozniacki
lisicki
domachowska

Various players including Maria Sharapova, Nicole Vaidišová, Sania Mirza, Iveta Benešová, Shahar Pe'er, Olga Poutchkova, Alicia Molik, Aravane Rezaď and Hsieh,Su-Wei:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Various players including Ana Ivanović and Tsvetana Pironkova (as Kuznetsova's unnamed opponent):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7193180.stm

Many players, including Elena Vesnina on the beach:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

-----------------------
2. Second-round results (Thursday 17th January)
-----------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. Akiko Morigami [S], 6-1 6-1
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Timea Bacsinszky [Q], 6-1 4-6 7-5
+ Caroline Wozniacki d. ALYONA BONDARENKO [21], 7-6 (7/4) 6-1

What rocked:
+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Alisa Kleybanova [Q], 6-3 6-4
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3
+ Marta Domachowska [Q] d. Sofia Arvidsson, 7-5 1-6 6-1
+ Sabine Lisicki [Q] d. Mariya Koryttseva, 6-1 7-5
+ Virginia Ruano Pascual d. Catalina Castańo, 6-2 6-4
+ KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] d. Anastasia Rodionova, 6-4 6-1

What sucked:
- Tsvetana Pironkova lt. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2], 6-7 (0/7) 2-6
- Maria Elena Camerin lt. LI,NA [24], 4-6 3-6
- Anne Kremer lt. NADIA PETROVA [14], 5-7 5-7

Tsvetana blew a 5-2* first-set lead, wasting a set-point at *5-3.

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/09ws.html

-------------------------------------------
3. Second round: Hantuchová v Cornet review
-------------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5

Daniela was 1-3* down in the second set, then up a break *4-3, then serving to stay in it at *4-5, then won the last three games.

Daniela had a poor W:UE ratio of 16:31, but Alizé was worse with 13:34. The big difference between them was their second serves: Alizé's was faster, but she won only 33% of the points on it, while Daniela won 70% on her own second serve. Daniela broke 5 times from 10 break-points, Alizé twice from 3.

Daniela on this sort of form should get by Virginia Ruano Pascual, but will find it very tough in the fourth round against Anna Chakvetadze - or even Maria Kirilenko, who I think will be tough for Anna in the third round.


Kuznetsova battles back [Teletext 497]
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze was a 6-3 6-4 victor against Alise Kleybanova, while Daniela Hantuchová, seeded ninth, saw off Alizé Cornet 6-2 7-5.
<<<

Hantuchová rides into round three
By Bronwen Largier <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Women's No.9 seed Daniela Hantuchová has eliminated France's Alizé Cornet in straight sets to advance to the third round of Australian Open 2008.

Hantuchová survived a late surge from her opponent to take the match 6-2 7-5.

Hantuchová broke Cornet twice in the opening set to win it comfortably, but Cornet began to put up a fight early in the second set when, after a correct challenge using the new video line-calling system on Vodafone Arena, she was left with three break-points.

She broke the Slovakian on her first attempt after Hantuchová's ball hit the tape. Hantuchová broke back immediately and broke her again in her next service-game, to lead the set 4-3.

Not one to give up, Cornet produced another break in the next game with a crosscourt volley to level the set at 4-4.

However, Hantuchová broke her opponent again in the 11th game and served out the match, winning with two match-points up her sleeve.

Hantuchová really pushed her opponent around the court throughout the match, and although Cornet put on an impressive show chasing down balls, it meant she struggled to produce winners as she expended most of her energy keeping the ball in play.
<<<

Venus Williams overcomes tough test (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Also lurking in the bottom of the draw are No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia and ninth-seeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchová, who both advanced on Thursday.

Hantuchová moved into the third round with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Alizé Cornet of France.

While Hantuchová is a top-10 player and taking part in her 29th consecutive Grand Slam, the 24-year-old has never been able to shine in a Major.

Including her stunning first-round exit at last summer's US Open, she has failed to reach the quarter-finals in 19 consecutive Grand Slams. She matched her best effort in a Major when she reached the round of eight here in 2003.
<<<

------------------------------------------------
4. Second round: Chakvetadze v Kleybanova review
------------------------------------------------

+ ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] d. Alisa Kleybanova [Q], 6-3 6-4

Anna recovered from 0-2* in the first set, then let a 3-0* second-set lead become *3-3 - that's what happens when you're not match-tight.

Anna may be last in the "who's got the best serve in the top 8" poll at www.wtatour.com (only 1% had voted for Anna last time I checked), but she served 8 aces in this match! Much less impressive was her W:UE ratio of 19:26, while Kleybanova was much worse with 18:37. Anna broke 5 times from 10 break-points, Kleybanova twice from 8.


Kuznetsova battles back [Teletext 497]
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze was a 6-3 6-4 victor against Alise Kleybanova, while Daniela Hantuchová, seeded ninth, saw off Alizé Cornet 6-2 7-5.
<<<

Venus Williams overcomes tough test (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Also lurking in the bottom of the draw are No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze of Russia and ninth-seeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchová, who both advanced on Thursday.

Chakvetadze had an odd start to her tournament on Monday, winning her first-round match when Germany's Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee-injury just three minutes in.

But the 20-year-old Russian had no trouble when she finally took the court on Thursday, recording a 6-3 6-4 victory over compatriot Alisa Kleybanova.

Chakvetadze's best showing here came last season when she reached the quarter-finals, losing to countrywoman and eventual runner-up Maria Sharapova.
<<<

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7193173.stm
>>>
Elsewhere, sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze set up an enticing third-round meeting with fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko by beating Alisa Kleybanova 6-3 6-4.
<<<

Ana Ivanović powers through in Melbourne
By Charlie Caroe and agencies, for The Daily Telegraph <www.telegraph.co.uk>
>>>
And two more Russians in Anna Chakvetadze and Maria Kirilenko set up an exciting third-round meeting following easy second-round wins.

The two 20-year-olds both won in straight sets, with sixth seed Chakvetadze beating fellow Russian Alisa Kleybanova 6-3 6-4 while 27th seed Kirilenko thrashed Japanese veteran Akiko Morigami 6-1 6-1.
<<<

--------------------------------------------
5. Second round: Ivanović v Garbin TV-report
--------------------------------------------

+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3

Ana played brilliantly until 6-0 4-0* and looked in complete control, then got nervous and tentative as Garbin hung in for a few minutes to delay the inevitable. It's amazing how often the top women have struggled to get over the finishing-line this Australian Open.

Ana said: "I'm very happy with the win. I was a little nervous to start with, but I just tried to focus, keep moving my feet and committing to my shots. I'm pleased with how I handled my first [ever] night-session, and also with my performance overall."

Ana looks talented enough to win a Grand Slam, and is on much better form than Venus Williams right now, although that will count for nothing when they meet in the quarter-finals.


Garbin's prematch interview: "It was a wonderful year last year, and I hope to do my best. I love the game."

Ana's prematch interview: "It's amazing. I feel I've been on the Tour for so long, yet this is my first one [night-match]. It's a tough match for me today, so I just have to focus on my game and not thinking so emotionally about this, and I hope I can play better than I did the first match."

A "glorious" sunny evening: 22°C.

Ana jogged sexily at the net during the spin.

I expect a fairly straightforward win, although Ana was pretty nervous in her first-round match.

Sam Smith: "For a tall woman, she [Ana] moves very well. The better her footwork gets around the ball, the more options she has. Justine Henin can make her look as though she's not a great mover. /Mentally/ she's committed to working out now - to be at the top of the game, she has to be in unbelievable shape."

The match started at 19:44 AEST on Rod Laver Arena.


First set
---------
IVANOV *@*@*@ 6
GARBIN ______ 0

Ana serving 0-0: Ana caught the outside edge of the baseline with an error-forcing forehand. 15/0. Ana came to the net, forcing Garbin to hit a defensive backhand lob just long. 30/0. Ana on the third stroke dumped a backhand halfway up the net. 30/15. Ana tried to spread Garbin, but put a crosscourt forehand just long - but she got Hawkeye to overrule it as good. No replay because it was a winner - Garbin argued about that. 40/15. Service-winner.

Garbin serving 0-1: Ana on the fourth stroke pounced on a short ball to hit a backhand winner down the line. 0/15. Garbin sprayed a forehand wide. 0/30. Ana punished a weak second serve with a hard, error-forcing crosscourt forehand. 0/40 (3 BPs). First serve deep: Ana hit an early backhand return wide. 15/40. Garbin netted a tame forehand.

Ana has started to grunt, and it's a lovely sound - unlike Garbin's annoying groan.

Ana serving 2-0: Ana hit a forehand just wide, and wasted a Hawkeye-challenge. 0/15. Garbin netcord-winner. 0/30. Ana forced a short ball and hit a lovely forehand winner from an awkward low position. 15/30. Garbin forced a short ball and dispatched it with an easy crosscourt forehand winner. Sam Smith: "She [Garbin] tends to roll the ball around as if she's on an ultraslow clay court." 15/40. Ana forced a floater, let it bounce and hit an off-forehand winner - lovely footwork. 30/40. Ana worked her way to the net and hit a backhand punch-volley winner down the line. 40/40. Big serve down the middle + forehand winner down the line. Sam Smith praised Ana's "tidy" footwork. Ad Ana. Serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner.

Brilliant recovery from 15/40!
Chris Bailey: "I put that in the 'mature' category'"
Sam Smith: "She used to hit the cover off the ball no matter what the score, but now she's become stingy."

Garbin serving 0-3: Ana's deep forehand return forced Garbin to hit an early forehand wide - both these girls have been caught too far forward by deep balls now. 0/15. Ana netted a backhand. 15/15. Ana crosscourt forehand pass-winner. Chris Bailey: "A nice little fake - leant one way and moved the other." 15/30. Garbin forehand just long - struggling with the pace. 15/40. Ana blasted a crosscourt backhand return-winner.

Ana serving 4-0: Ana came to the net, forcing Garbin to hit a forehand lob long. 15/0. Garbin forehand return just long. 30/0. Garbin netted a forehand. 40/0. Service-winner (Garbin wasted a Hawkeye-challenge - and why not, when she's about to lose the set?).

Brilliant performance by Ana so far. I'm even asking myself why I shouldn't induct her into my Eternal Fanship. But I've known of her brilliance since late 2004, and just not had the passion to follow her with that level of commitment. But it is growing, and I'd put her as the leading candidate for my Eternal Fanship right now, even though Tatiana Golovin, Maria Kirilenko and Sania Mirza are ahead of her on Passion.

Garbin serving 0-5: Ana came to the net, but got caught in no-man's land by Garbin's off-backhand pass-winner. 15/0. Ana forehand just long. 30/0. Ace out wide. 40/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 40/15. Garbin dawdled to the net, and Ana hit a pinpoint forehand pass-winner down the line. 40/30. Garbin forehand clipped the netcord and fell out. 40/40. Ana came to the net, and hit a backhand volley-winner (Garbin not up). Ad Ana (SP #1). Garbin backhand lob just long. Ana won the first set 6-0 at 20:08.

Even from 40/0 down!


Second set
----------
IVANOV *@*@*___* 6
GARBIN _____*@*_ 3

Ana serving 0-0: A lovely exchange of volleys went Ana's way when Garbin netted a backhand volley. 15/0. Ana backhand winner down the line. 30/0. Ana played a beautiful point, gliding in to hit a forehand volley-winner crosscourt. 40/0. Ana netted a forehand. 40/15. Ana's pace and depth forced Garbin to hit a backhand long.

Garbin serving 0-1: Ana forehand just long. 15/0. Ana's forehand on the baseline forced Garbin to net a backhand. Sam Smith: "Power and accuracy - that's what Ivanović is all about." 15/15. Garbin hit a cheap forehand long, and muttered in Italian. 15/30. Ana sprayed a forehand wide - Garbin's 12th point of the match. 30/30. Garbin came to the net, but Ana passed her clean as a whistle with a crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 30/40. Ana netted a backhand. 40/40. Ana picked off a forehand return-winner down the line. Ad Ana. With a loud groan, Garbin dumped a backhand thirdway up the net.

Sam Smith: "I don't know if she's waiting for Ivanović to make a load of errors, but it's a do-nothing approach from Garbin."
I agree - Garbin has been as inept as Ana has been brilliant. I can't believe she's ranked as high as #40 and been as high as #22 - much less that she once beat Monica Seles!

Ana serving 2-0: Garbin mishit a forehand wide. 15/0. Ana netted a forehand off a short ball. 15/15. Ana backhand winner down the line. 30/15. Ana netted a forehand. 30/30. Ana's depth forced Garbin to spray a forehand long. 40/30. Ana forehand just long. 40/40. Ace out wide: just inside the sideline (Garbin wasted a challenge, even though it was way in, and gave an embarrassed smile). Ad Ana. Service-winner.

Chris Bailey: "Ana's understanding better which shots to go for, and when to lay off."

Garbin serving 0-3: Garbin went for her shots for once, came to the net, ran back for a lob, and tried to hit a shot between her legs! 0/15. Ana's deep forehand shot through on Garbin for a virtual winner. 0/30. Garbin netted a backhand. 0/40. Garbin came to the net, and Ana hit an easy forehand pass-winner down the line.

Ana serving 4-0: With a loud grunt, Garbin hit a forehand pass-winner down the line, and got a huge cheer from the crowd. 0/15. Ana netted a forehand. 0/30. Ana sprayed a wild forehand long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Garbin forehand long. 15/40. Ana netted a forehand off a deep ball from Garbin, who got another big cheer from the crowd.

Aww - no double bagel! It's what they both deserve.

Garbin serving 1-4: Ana netted a forehand. 15/0. Ana had Garbin on a piece of string, but she retrieved well and Ana hit a forehand long. 30/0. Ana ran down a short ball and netted a forehand. 40/0. Ana came to the net behind a sliced backhand, and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/15. Ana netted a forehand return.

Quite a different complexion to this match all of a sudden. I still can't believe Ana's not going to win this set 6-3 at the worst.

Ana serving 4-2: Ana forehand dropshot-winner. 15/0. Ana ran around her backhand and hit a forehand winner down Garbin's forehand-line - nobody does it better. 30/0. Garbin's lob forced Ana to retreat from the net, but she came back in and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/0. Double fault (second serve hit the netcord). 40/15. Service-winner out wide.

Sam Smith: "She's ready to win a Slam."
Ana certainly has the talent for that, but I would still question her nerves, and her ability to handle Henin, the Williams-sisters, and Maria Sharapova now that she's back to form.

Sam Smith: "She just has to close it out now - that's another skill in itself."

Yes - it's amazing how difficult it's been for the top women to get themselves over the finishing-line this Australian Open.

Garbin serving 2-5: Ana forehand long. 15/0. Ana netted a backhand. 30/0. Garbin netted a forehand. 30/15. Ana hit a crosscourt forehand onto the baseline, forcing Garbin to hit a forehand wide of the tramlines. 30/30. Ana came to the net and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/30 (MP #1). Garbin came to the net on a very short return, and hit a forehand volley-winner on the fifth stroke. 40/40. Ana hit a pinpoint forehand down the line, right in the corner, forcing Garbin into error. Ad Ana (MP #2). Garbin spread Ana, forcing her to hit a forehand long. Deuce #2. Ana netted a forehand return. Ad Garbin. Ana forehand long by a whisker - perhaps she should have challenged.

Two match-points go begging.

Ana serving 5-3: A long baseline-rally ended with Garbin hitting a backhand wide. Sam Smith: "There are a lot of players who have got themselves into a real mess against Garbin." 15/0. Service-winner out wide. 30/0. Ana's forehand dropshot forced Garbin to hit a backhand long. 40/0 (MP #3). Ana dumped a forehand quarterway up the net. 40/15 (MP #4). Garbin's short, acute crosscourt forehand winner forced Ana to hit a forehand wide. 40/30 (MP #5). Ana hit a backhand just long - amazing what can happen! 40/40. Garbin sprayed a backhand wide - not very forced. Ad Ana (MP #6). Service-winner down the middle. Ana won 6-0 6-3 at 20:50.

A really tentative finish for Ana, but that's the beauty of the tennis scoring-system: you can't just build up a huge lead and then wait for your opponent to run out of time; you have to perform till the fat lady sings.


Ana's on-court interview
------------------------

It was an amusing interview, firstly because Ana is taller than Todd Woodbridge!

"The crowd were a lucky charm. Even if I was a bit nervous, they helped me so much tonight. I love coming out here and playing. Tonight I played an awesome match, and I really hope I can keep this level and play as long as possible here."

[Re. Aussie barbeques] "I'm saving it till after the tournament. If I had too much to eat, I wouldn't be able to move!"

[Re. unusual autograph-requests] "In front of so many people, I'm a little bit embarrassed. <laughing> I know [I told a newspaper], but here they're looking at me! One guy asked me to sign his boxer-shorts, so it's embarrassing!"

[And did you?] Ana gave a bashful smile and the interview was over!


Articles
--------

Ivanović [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Ivanović races to win [Teletext 497]

Ana Ivanović put her first-round wobbles behind her as she thrashed Tathiana Garbin in Melbourne.

Fourth seed Ivanović looked less than impressive in beating Sorana Cîrstea, but won the first 10 games against Italian Garbin before taking her sixth match-point in a 6-0 6-3 triumph.
<<<

'Awesome' Ana Ivanović powers into Aussie Open third round (AFP)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović swept into the Australian Open third round with a crushing win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin Thursday, establishing herself as the new darling of Melbourne Park on the way.

The Serbian beauty steamrollered Garbin 6-0 6-3 in her first night-match at a Grand Slam, describing her performance as "awesome".

The 20-year-old, who suffered a meltdown in her only Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, and spoke earlier in this tournament about panicking on-court, revelled in the spotlight.

She produced a near-flawless display against the hapless Garbin, crediting the crowd with helping subdue the butterflies in her stomach.

"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much - they were great tonight," the beaming Serb said.

"I just played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.

Ivanović broke Garbin's serve on her first attempt, then defended two break-points to shoot to a 3-0 lead, cheered on by her Australian-based relatives and the local expatriate Serb community.

Another break followed, and a frustrated Garbin double-faulted as she desperately tried to hold off the world number three, who gave the Italian no way into the game, and took the opening set 6-0 in 24 minutes.

Ivanović continued to shut out Garbin in the second set, mixing up her game with forays to the net, crosscourt winners and delicate dropshots as the one-sided match began to resemble a practice-session.

Garbin had no answers to the Serbian's power, shanking the ball skyward on several occasions as she tried to return Ivanović-rockets.

The 30-year-old Italian received wild applause when she stole a point off an Ivanović serve, giving a wry smile as she gestured to the crowd for more.

Garbin did finally manage a service-break after 44 minutes to get on the board and avoid being on the wrong end of a dreaded 6-0 6-0 "double bagel", holding serve in the next to claim her second game.

The Italian then saved two match-points in the next game to add some respectability to the second-set scoreline, but Ivanović went on to serve out the match after a minor wobble when she threw away another three match-points.

The crowd, missing an adopted favourite in the absence this year of Kim Clijsters - once dubbed "Aussie Kim" by locals - warmed to Ivanović, who admitted she coveted the same cult-status the Belgian enjoyed Down Under.

"I wouldn't complain; I just love coming out here and playing," said the Serb, who has previously said she may settle down in Australia when she retires.

Before then, she must meet Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in the third round as her campaign to win her maiden Grand Slam continues at Melbourne Park.

Ivanović said she would refrain from participating in a traditional Australian barbeque with her locally-based relatives.

"Not yet; I'm saving myself for after the tournament; if I eat too much, I wouldn't be able to move," she said.
<<<

Ivanović dazzles as Venus, Kuznetsova struggle at Aussie Open (AFP)
>>>
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanović produced an electrifying display to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday.

Ivanović showed no sign of the nerves that have crippled her at crucial points in her career, downing Italy's Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3, and attributing her success to an adoring Melbourne Park crowd.

"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much - they were great tonight," she said.

"I just played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.

The 20-year-old froze in the spotlight when she lost the French Open final to Justine Henin last year, and said she panicked while trying kill off her opponent in her opening match here on Tuesday.

But the world number four, who is supported in Australia by her Melbourne-based relatives and members of the local expatriate Serb community, said she was working on controlling her jitters.

"I learned something from that first match," she said. "Today I tried to focus more on my game, be a little bit less emotional, just committing more to my shots. I was really happy with the result. And I really hope I can keep this level for the next games.

In contrast to Ivanović's near-flawless performance, eighth seed Venus Williams and second seed Kuznetsova were content to grind out wins and save their best for the latter stages of the tournament. <snip>
<<<

Ivanović shows she is more than just a pretty face (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Ana Ivanović has the looks of a model, studies finance in her spare time, and likes to read about history and Greek mythology.

But though the Serb may be the pin-up of the women's tour, she showed again that she can wield a racket with the best by romping into the Australian Open third round on Thursday.

In her first outing under the lights on a centre court at a Grand-Slam event, the fourth-seeded Serb crushed world number 40 Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3.

The 20-year-old Ivanović, who recently described herself as a party-pooper, gave the crowd on Rod Laver Arena a show that lasted just 66 minutes.

But with her crunching forehands, athletic movement and a variety that is rare on the women's tour, Ivanović ensured she would have more nights on the big stage at this year's event.

"It's definitely been great out here," Ivanović said in a courtside interview. "Even if I was a little nervous, the crowd helped me got over it tonight."

Ivanović is writing a daily column in a Melbourne newspaper throughout the tournament, and the popular Serb said she would be more than happy if they adopted her as "Aussie Ana".

"I don't complain; I love coming out here and playing. Tonight I played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep this level and play like this in the rest of the tournament."

Ivanović revealed in her column that she has had some unusual requests for autographs.

"One guy asked me to sign his boxer-shorts - that was a bit embarrassing," she told the crowd.

Ivanović will play Slovenian 28th seed Katarina Srebotnik in the third round.
<<<

Women's round-up: Venus toils (Eurosport/AFP)
>>>
The last women's match of the day saw fourth seed Ana Ivanović beat Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3.

The match looked nothing more than a formality for Ivanović, the world number three from Serbia, as she crushed her opponent 6-0, but two successive games for the Italian, one of which included the shot of the match - a sweet forehand return that bamboozled Ivanović - brought her back into contention.

Ivanović somehow managed to squander five match-points at 5-3 up in the second set, but won through in just under an hour. She will face Katarina Srebotnik in the next round.
<<<

----------------------------------
6. Articles about Sharapova, Mirza
----------------------------------

Sharapova makes Davenport labour
By Martin Johnson for The Daily Telegraph <www.telegraph.co.uk/johnson>
>>>
It was the kind of contest you would normally expect to see closer to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam event than the second round: between a 31-year-old who has only just come back after having a baby, and a 20-year-old who sounds as if she is about to give birth to triplets. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the younger legs - not to mention the stronger tonsils - prevailed.

Lindsay Davenport has won more prize-money than any other female player, so it's probably safe to assume that she's not mounting a comeback because she's struggling to pay the bills. But Maria Sharapova rakes in more loot from pouting and posing for photo-shoots than Davenport ever made on court, and the nature of her 6-1 6-3 victory was not far removed from another modelling-contract. She even came on to court carrying a purple handbag.

For all the work someone clearly has to do airbrushing her spots from the photographs, Sharapova is still the No.1 seed in the glamour-puss stakes, but she has slipped down to No 5 in the tennis-rankings after an ordinary 2007, and she is not even the No 1 'Ova' any longer.

The factory in the former Eastern bloc churning out women tennis-players is still on a high enough production-rate to have its workers, so to speak, on permanent Ova time, and there are no fewer than 20 of them (not to mention four Evas) in this year's women's draw.

Maria, though, is now ranked three places below Svetlana Kuznetsova, who apparently makes just as much noise as Sharapova, albeit inside the locker-room playing rock-music. For this information, we are indebted to the Serbian world No.3 Ana Ivanović, who also reveals in her not-to-be-missed daily column in the Melbourne newspaper The Age that she spends a lot of her spare time "acting out scenes from TV-shows" with her friend Daniela Hantuchová. Do these girls know how to live it up on tour, or what?

Sharapova spends a lot of her time on court acting out scenes from wildlife-programmes, especially ones featuring piglets fighting over a bucket of swill. She has been recorded making grunts of 101.2 decibels, which is roughly equivalent to a Harley-Davidson revving up at the traffic-lights.

It is a wonder, Australia being such a nanny country, that the health and safety people allow anyone into a Sharapova-match without issuing them with the kind of earplugs they will shortly be issuing to spectators at Melbourne's Formula One Grand Prix.

Listening to the noise coming from the other side of the net, Davenport must have thought she was back in the labour-ward, but the one thing you can safely say about Sharapova's shrieking is that her groundstrokes are every bit as fierce as they sound.

Davenport was simply blown off court by the Russian girl's power, conceding the first set in 26 minutes and the match in barely more than an hour. It would have been considerably less than that, too, were it not for Sharapova's interminable routine of ball-bouncing and attending to her coiffure during service-games.

Davenport, now ranked 51st in the world, was attempting to do what was last achieved by Evonne Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980: win a Grand Slam event as a mother. However, when you're more focused on changing nappies than changing ends, the probability is - especially against a venomous hitter such as Sharapova - that you'll merely end up getting the mother of all beatings.

The age-difference was such that when Davenport made her first appearance at the Australian Open, Sharapova was only six. Mind you, she'd been playing tennis for two years by then, and she was still being visited by the tooth-fairy when her father took her off from Siberia to a tennis-academy in Florida.

Yuri Sharapova, who is widely regarded in tennis-circles as being a couple of games short of a set, was there in the players' box as usual, clad - on a warm Melbourne-night - in a hooded camouflage-jacket, and behaving as though his trousers had been invaded by a colony of ants. If Davenport is famous for anything in women's tennis, it's for having normal parents.

Davenport has actually won three tournaments since making her comeback six weeks after the birth of her seven-month-old son, but this was a chastening experience. However, given that athletes are forever banging on about looking for the "positives", the noises from the other side of the net will at least let her know what she's in for when junior starts teething.
<<<

"I told him, 'You look like an assassin with that jacket on'. He said he has a cold so he had to put the hood up." [Maria Sharapova on dad Yuri's fashion faux-pas]

Victorious Mirza shrugs off court-case worries (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
Indian Sania Mirza showed she is putting the controversy that haunted her Australian Open preparations well behind her on Thursday as she battled to the third round in Melbourne.

The 21-year-old overcame Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky 6-1 4-6 7-5 to reach the last 32 and a match against Venus Williams, and said she was proud she had been able to focus on her tennis.

"I am very pleased by winning a match like this today, because a lot has been happening in the last couple of weeks off the court," Mirza said.

"I was down 3-1 (30/30) [in the third set], and I could have said I was just mentally not there - it would have been a good excuse - but I proved I am strong and hopefully I can continue to do that."

Mirza is the subject of a court-summons in Bhopal after a private citizen made a complaint under the country's Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act.

The controversy surrounds a photograph taken at the Hopman Cup mixed-team event in Perth, played at the beginning of the year, that appeared to show Mirza's bare feet resting near the national flag.

Mirza said she was looking forward to a meeting with Williams, having played her sister Serena at the same stage in Melbourne three years ago, when she became the first Indian woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event.

"I am very excited to play Venus," she said.

"I have nothing to lose and feel like I am playing well. I want to try to get a good start."
<<<

------------------------------
7. Third-round draw / previews
------------------------------

* JUSTINE HENIN [1] v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25]
* Aravane Rezaď v Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] (my loyalty is to Aravane)
* SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] (kadima Shahar!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Elena Vesnina (I like Elena, but DAVAI MARIA!!)

* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30] (I want Janković to win)
* Casey Dell'Acqua v AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18] (anyone but Mauresmo)
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Ai Sugiyama (POJĎME NICOLE!!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7] (Azarenka may be growing on me, but I'd still prefer Nicole to have the honour of putting the defending champion out of my misery)

* SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (go Sania!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v LI,NA [24] (dawaj Marta!)
* Sabine Lisicki [Q] v Caroline Wozniacki (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] (mouthwatering match - my loyalty is to Anna)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual (POJĎME DANIELA!!)
* NADIA PETROVA [14] v Ekaterina Makarova
* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2]

Venus Williams on Sania Mirza: "She's a good player. She tries to play aggressive. Looks like she enjoys herself out there."


7.1 Sharapova v Vesnina preview
-------------------------------

MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]:
1r + Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3
2r + Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3

Elena Vesnina:
1r + JULIA VAKULENKO [32], 6-4 1-6 6-4
2r + Jill Craybas, 6-2 6-4

I wanted this meeting when I analysed the draw. Elena looked so beautiful at the Fed Cup final last September. Unfortunately she's not so delectable now, as she has a horrible pink rash on her face. Then again, she did do a sexy photo-shoot on the beach on Thursday! ;-)

Elena didn't have a good 2007, with a 7-match losing-streak from January to April, a 24:26 record for the year, and she didn't beat anyone ranked higher than #23. So far in 2008, she's lost to #158-ranked Monique Adamczak in the first round of Gold Coast, and #23 Vera Zvonarëva in the quarter-finals of Hobart.

Maria was on fire against Davenport, so she is the overwhelming favourite here, although she's never played Elena before. It could be very one-sided.

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1981
>>>
Elena Vesnina (RUS) vs. (5) Maria Sharapova (RUS) - First Meeting

Last year's runner-up, Sharapova, entered an early contender for performance of the fortnight on Wednesday evening when she dismantled the challenge of comeback-queen Lindsay Davenport: 6-1 6-3.

After a slightly disappointing 2007, in which she was plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the hard-hitting Russian looks hungry for success this time around. It is four years since Sharapova last fell prior to the fourth round and if she wants to extend this record she will first have to see off her compatriot: Elena Vesnina.

The Fed Cup teammates will be facing one another for the first time in their careers, and despite her dominant second-round victory over Jill Craybas, the odds are firmly stacked against Vesnina continuing her run in Southeast Australia.
<<<

7.2 Vaidišová v Sugiyama preview
--------------------------------

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]:
1r + Ioana Raluca Olaru, 6-3 6-0
2r + Alicia Molik, 6-2 6-3

Ai Sugiyama:
1r + VERA ZVONARËVA [23,EF], 6-3 *1-1 retired (left-ankle injury)
2r + Tatiana Perebiynis, 6-4 6-4

Sugiyama is a solid counterpuncher who gets a lot of balls back, can also move her opponent around with spreading rallies, and has excellent volleys, though she rarely chooses to use them in singles.

When I think of Sugiyama, I think of her Wimbledon-matches: in 2002, Monica Seles beat her 4-6 6-1 6-4, and it was like pulling teeth. In 2004, Maria Sharapova beat her 5-7 7-5 6-1 and went on to win the title. In 2006, she upset former champion Martina Hingis in the third round.

Sugiyama may be 32, but she took a set off Maria Sharapova as recently as February 2007, and looked like she could have troubled her again at Wimbledon if Maria hadn't played such a brilliant match.

But 2007 wasn't a good year for Sugiyama, as she finished it with a 22:25 record. This year, she lost in the first round of Gold Coast, and in the first /qualifying/ round at Sydney: 6-2 7-5 to #143-ranked Jarmila Gajdošová.

Nicole lost to Sugiyama the only time they played: 6-4 1-6 6-3 at Beijing 2006. But Nicole is on much better form than Sugiyama right now, and a strong favourite to avenge that defeat.


7.3 Chakvetadze v Kirilenko preview
-----------------------------------

ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]:
1r + Andrea Petkovic, 0-0* (40/40) retired (right-knee injury)
2r + Alisa Kleybanova [Q], 6-3 6-4

MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]:
1r + Meilen Tu, 6-4 4-6 6-3
2r + Akiko Morigami [S], 6-1 6-1

This will be the fifth in a series of mouthwatering matches between the two ultracute Russians. Maria won their first meeting 7-5 6-3 at Miami 2005, but Anna won their next three with a combined loss of 16 games to lead 3:1.

Maria seems to be a confidence-player: when she's confident, she plays dynamic all-court tennis and can beat lots of players (she's won two WTA singles-titles: Beijing 2005 and Kolkata 2007). When she's not confident, she hangs back, doesn't transfer her weight forwards into the ball, and can't beat anybody.

Maria spent the first half of 2007 in a slump, with a 6-match losing-streak from March to May, but played very well in front of me to reach the third round of Birmingham and really push Jelena Janković as hard as Big Maria did in the final. She did well in the US Open Series, won 9 matches in a row at Kolkata (won) and Seoul (r/u to Venus Williams), but then her form suddenly evaporated and she lost 5 matches in a row.

But Maria won $75k ITF Dubai in December, and won her first two matches at Auckland, where Tamira Paszek inflicted a 6-1 6-3 hurting in the quarter-finals. With her lopsided thrashing of Akiko Morigami in the previous round, and Anna short of match-play following her first-round exit at Sydney and first-round virtual bye here, it couldn't be a better time for Maria to have another crack at Anna, and it should be a fascinating contest.


7.4 Hantuchová v Ruano Pascual preview
--------------------------------------

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF]:
1r + Vania King, 6-3 7-5
2r + Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5

Virginia Ruano Pascual:
1r + Roberta Vinci, 6-4 6-4
2r + Catalina Castańo, 6-2 6-4

Daniela has never played Virginia before, which is surprising, considering that they are 24 and 34 years old respectively.

Virginia has won numerous Grand Slam doubles-titles (particularly with Paola Suárez) and been #1 in the doubles-rankings, but has only been as high as #28 in singles. She knocked an injured 16-year-old Serena Williams out of Wimbledon 1998, and created the upset of Wimbledon 2001: a 6-4 6-2 thrashing of world #1 Martina Hingis in the first round.

Virginia was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open 2003 - the same as Daniela - and fourth-rounder in 2006 - both times losing to Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Virginia didn't have a good year in 2007, just breaking even at 18:18, and losing 6-0 6-0 to Jelena Janković at Beijing. The highlight was probably beating world #26 Anabel Medina Garrigues en route to the third round of Wimbledon. She hasn't played any pre-AO tournaments in 2008.

Although their scorelines at this tournament don't look dissimilar, Daniela should just have too much class for Virginia, especially when Virginia is giving away 10 years.

------------------
8. Andrew's wishes
------------------
8.1 Fourth-round wishes
-----------------------

+ Aravane Rezaď d. JUSTINE HENIN [1]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17]
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. Casey Dell'Acqua
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Ekaterina Makarova d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]


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

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Aravane Rezaď
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Ekaterina Makarova


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

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. SANIA MIRZA [31,DF]


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

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

------------------
9. Women's Doubles
------------------
9.1 First-round results (Thursday 17th January)
-----------------------

This section presents my selections - the full draw can be found at
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/wd/

+ Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport d. (MARIA KIRILENKO [DF]/ÁGNES SZÁVAY)[11], 6-2 7-5
+ Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová d. (LISA RAYMOND/FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE)[9], 2-6 6-4 6-2


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

* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v Gabriela Navrátilová/Klára Zakopalová
* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v Hsieh,Su-Wei [S]/Alla Kudryavtseva

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

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: Marc Gicquel v NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO [4]
WS 3r: VICTORIA AZARENKA [26] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]
WS 3r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v Elena Vesnina
MS 3r: RICHARD GASQUET [8] v IGOR ANDREEV [31]

Margaret Court Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v Ai Sugiyama
MS 3r: Guillermo García-López v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
WS 3r: SHAHAR PE'ER [17] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
XD 1r: (NATHALIE DECHY/ANDY RAM)[8] v Sophie Ferguson/Adam Feeney
|
Margaret Court Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS 3r: JARKKO NIEMINEN [24] v Mardy Fish

Mauresmo v Dell'Acqua is the women's match on BBCi from 08:25 GMT tomorrow (Rod Laver Arena evening-session). I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but with Mauresmo's confidence low and Dell'Acqua having transformed herself this year, it could be interesting.

At least BBCi's coverage of the women's Australian Open has been much better this year, with a match on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session every day so far, and Sharapova v Davenport on the repeat-loop yesterday. But what will they do if all the women's quarter- and semi-finals are in the day-sessions again?

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

andrewbroad
Jan 18th, 2008, 10:11 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Third-round results
3. Third round: Vaidišová v Sugiyama review
4. Third round: Sharapova v Vesnina review
5. Third round: Dell'Acqua v Mauresmo TV-report
6. Third round: Roddick v Kohlschreiber TV-report
7. Articles about Dokić, Hsieh
8. Third-round draw: Bottom half
9. Fourth-round draw: Top half
10. Andrew's wishes
11. Women's Doubles
12. Order of Play for Saturday

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

Maria Sharapova and Elena Vesnina:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/403/photos (Sharapova)
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1190/photos (Vesnina)
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/966/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311911.html

Daniela Hantuchová shopping (one here, loads on Getty):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos

Sania Mirza:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/461/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza

Shahar Pe'er and Elena Dementieva:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/950/photos (Pe'er)
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/89/photos (Dementieva)
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=shahar

Hsieh,Su-Wei (improved tennis and improved beauty!) and Aravane Rezaď:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1365/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=rezai

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova or vesnina
vaidisova
hantuchova
mirza
shahar or dementieva
rezai or hsieh

Various players including Maria Sharapova, Nicole Vaidišová, Daniela Hantuchová, Anna Chakvetadze, Maria Kirilenko, Sania Mirza, Ana Ivanović, Elena Vesnina on the beach, Marta Domachowska, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Hsieh,Su-Wei:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Various players including Maria Sharapova and Nicole Vaidišová:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7195284.stm

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

----------------------
2. Third-round results (Friday 18th January)
----------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0
+ ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] d. SHAHAR PE'ER [17], 6-2 6-0
+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] d. Aravane Rezaď, 6-2 6-7 (3/7) 6-4

Agreeable results:
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Ai Sugiyama, 6-3 6-4
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. VIRGINIE RAZZANO [30], 6-2 4-6 6-1
+ Casey Dell'Acqua d. AMÉLIE MAURESMO [18], 3-6 6-4 6-4

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/10ws.html

-------------------------------------------
3. Third round: Vaidišová v Sugiyama review
-------------------------------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. Ai Sugiyama, 6-3 6-4

This match was over before I went to sleep, and every time I checked the scoreboard, Nicole seemed to have set-point or match-point! When I checked in the first set, she had *5-3 (40/15), but it took her four more points to close it out. When I checked in the second set, the scoreboard was frozen at *5-4 (40/30).

Nicole's statistics aren't as impressive this time. She served 6 aces, but with 65% of first serves in, she won only 43% of points on her second. She had a negative W:UE ratio of 31:33 (Sugiyama 10:18 with 6 double faults). Sugiyama, who has some of the best volleys in women's tennis, won 15 of 20 points at the net while Nicole won only 2 of 8.

Nicole broke twice from 5 break-points, whilst saving all 7 break-points against her!


3.1 Articles
------------

Henin and Serena into round four [CEEFAX 494]
>>>
Top seed Justine Henin and defending champion Serena Williams reached the last 16 of the Australian Open with straight-sets wins on Friday.

Henin had to work hard before defeating Italy's Francesca Schiavone 7-5 6-4, while Williams showed good form to beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-4.

Williams next meets Nicole Vaidišová, who beat Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-4.
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Champion facing Vaidišová challenge [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Williams to face Czech [Teletext 497]

Defending champion Serena Williams set up a fourth-round meeting with Nicole Vaidišová by seeing off the challenge of Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne.

Seventh seed Williams has had few alarms so far, and eased past the Belarusian, seeded 16th, 6-3 6-4.

Czech 12th seed Vaidišová, 18, who lost to Williams in the semi-finals last year, disposed of experienced Japanese competitor Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-4.


Serena feeling confident [Teletext 497]

Serena Williams believes she is in good shape to challenge for a fourth Australian Open title next weekend.

The defending champion, who has not won any of the other Grand Slams since Wimbledon in 2003, faces Nicole Vaidišová in round four after seeing off Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-4.

Williams said: "I feel pretty good about where I am. Hopefully, I'll peak later in the tournament."


Vaidišová plans tactics [Teletext 497]

Nicole Vaidišová is plotting revenge against Serena Williams when the pair clash in the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The Czech reached the semi-finals as a 17-year-old last year, where she lost to eventual champion Williams.

Vaidišová said: "I think I will move her around more than I did last year. I have to have everything - my movement, my focus, my game - at my 'A' level." [I did my 'A' Levels when I was 18!]
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Vaidišová sinks Sugiyama
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Czech teenager Nicole Vaidišová has continued her impressive Australian Open 2008 campaign with a straight-sets victory over Ai Sugiyama.

A year after matching her best Grand Slam result by reaching the last four at Melbourne Park, No.12 seed Vaidišová made short work of Japan's last remaining singles hope with a 6-3 6-4 win.

Beaten in the semi-finals by eventual champion Serena Williams in 2007, Vaidišová may get the chance for revenge with her fourth-round opponent to be either No.7 seed Williams or Belarussian No.26 seed Victoria Azarenka [it's Williams].

Having won her first two matches in straight sets, Vaidišová twice faced pressure on her serve in the opening set, but saved two break-points in the first game and another in the fifth before holding serve.

The decisive game of the first set was the sixth, when Sugiyama double-faulted when faced with two break-points, and while she wasn't able to convert her first two set-points at 40/15 in the ninth game, Vaidišová eventually served out the set.

Vaidišová's momentum continued when she broke in the first game of the second set, and despite some pressure on her serve in the sixth and eighth games, she maintained her advantage and sealed the 80-minute triumph with a forehand pass down the line.
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Top Seeds Keep Moving
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1982
>>>
Elena Dementieva and Nicole Vaidišová, the No.11 and No.12 seeds respectively, attained their projected fourth-round berths as well, and next face Sharapova and Williams. In their third-round matches, Dementieva beat No.17 seed Shahar Pe'er, 6-2 6-0, while Vaidišová defeated unseeded veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-4.

"I think they are both sort of alike," said Williams when asked how Vaidišová compares to Azarenka. "Obviously Vaidišová has played more in her career, and done a little better, but I think they both have similar games. Vaidišová has a really big serve, and definitely uses that to her advantage."

Williams and Vaidišová played an extremely tight semi-final match here last year, in which Williams fought off a set-point in the first set and nearly let go of a 5-1 second set lead before prevailing 7-6(5) 6-4. It's a match Vaidišová keeps in the back of her mind as she prepares to fight for a quarter-final berth.

"Obviously, it doesn't get much tougher than this," the Czech teen said. "She is a great champion, a great fighter. She will definitely fight until the end. It's a Grand Slam, and everybody wants to do their best. I'll definitely have to have my 'A' game on. I need to move her around, more than I did last year. I have to take my chances too; I had chances last year, especially in the first set, and with those players you definitely have to use the first ones, because you're not going to get many more."
<<<

Fiery Vaidišová focuses on her emotions
By Ossian Shine (Reuters)
>>>
Her forehand is said to be her biggest weapon and her serve is no powder-puff, but statuesque Czech Nicole Vaidišová is working on developing another lethal weapon in her armoury.

"I am very emotional," the 12th seed told reporters after reaching the Australian Open fourth round on Friday.

"Sometimes it's to my advantage. A lot of times to my disadvantage. So will just have to put it in a more of positive way, I guess," she smiled.

The 18-year-old blonde has long given up trying to control the emotional side of her nature, and is instead determined to channel it into her tennis.

"I can't be something I'm usually not," she said after beating Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

"So I just have to try to more put the emotions in a positive way. I mean, I'm always gonna be an emotional player. That's nothing that's gonna change ever. It's just the way I am."

She has a chance to channel those fiery feelings in her next round: a clash with intimidating defending champion Serena Williams for a place in the quarter-finals.
<<<

3.2 Nicole's third-round press-conference
-----------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com)

Q. How would you assess your performance today?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: A little shaky, I guess. A little nervous. Really wanted to do well, play well. But she played good. Definitely very steady player. Made a lot of opportunities for herself.

So just happy I got through.

Q. The age you are now, do you feel much different to how you did two or three years ago, being a little older, a little bit more experienced?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Yeah, I guess every match, every Grand Slam, every tough match, you get more experience. You know how to handle the situations a little better. I think it helps obviously, especially when you play a top girl who has many more matches and many more tournaments under her belt.

You can try to use that now a little bit also.

Q. You served with a great deal of strength today. Is that something you've been working on in the off‑season?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: No. Definitely this week I'm happy with the way I served, yeah. I've been working on that. Helped me out a lot of times these last couple matches, so happy with that.

Q. Can you talk about possibly playing Serena, whom you played here last year in the semis?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Obviously it doesn't get much tougher than that. She's a great champion, a great fighter. She definitely will fight till the end. You know, it's a Grand Slam; everybody wants to do their best.

I'll definitely have to have my 'A' game on.

Q. What do you have to do differently against her?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I think move her more around than I did last year. I also had my chances last year, especially in the first set. You know, with those players, you definitely have to use the first ones, because you're not going to get much more.

Q. Do you feel you're moving better than you did last year?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: We'll see. I mean, Sunday's definitely going to be a big test. She's a hard hitter. Like I said, I'll have to have everything 'A' level: my movement, my focus, my game; everything has to be together.

Q. You play the game with quite a lot of emotion. Serena is a player that can sometimes get under her opponent's skin. She can be quite intimidating. How do you deal with that?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Yeah, I think we're both emotional players, though. I think once Serena gets out there she also, you know, uses emotions to her advantage a little bit.

That's the player I am, the person definitely I am. Very emotional. Sometimes it's my advantage. A lot of times my disadvantage. So will just have to, you know, put it in a more of positive way, I guess.

Q. What do you think you need to be like when you play her? Keep it in check or just be yourself?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I think more being myself. I can't be something I'm usually not. So I just have to try to more put the emotions in a positive way.

Q. You say you can't be something you're not. Is mental strength something you've been trying to work on?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I mean, I know I'm always gonna be an emotional player. That's nothing that's gonna change ever. I'm not gonna try to change that. It's just the way I am.

But, like I said, more in the positive way. That's something I still have to work on.

Q. Have you ever spoken to a sports-psychologist?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: No.

Q. Would you ever?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I don't feel I need to, so no.

Q. What are the parts of your game that you think will worry Serena?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I don't know. I can't tell her like that, so. <smiling> She has to figure out some things herself.

I think I just have to go and play my thing, and not think who's on the other side of the net. Just play my game, focus on that. Obviously, I'm going to expect the ball to be coming at me much faster than it was so far.

So I think being ready and catching the ball early is going to be a big thing for me.

Q. Do you consider her to be an intimidating player?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Have you ever seen her play? <smiling>

Q. Yes I have.

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Yeah, then obviously she is for a lot of players. But, like I said, you have to focus on yourself and just do your thing. I've played her a couple times. Obviously the first time, you know, I admit: I was intimidated.

But, you know, you get to play those players more and more times. I think that goes also at the age. You [know?] them more, you have more experience with them, so you do respect them. But the intimidation I think goes to the side.

Q. A lot of players will say, "I have to focus on my side of the net, not notice who is on the other side." When it's someone like Serena, got to be pretty difficult.

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: Oh, definitely. I mean, that's what makes her such a great player also, you know: the mental part of it. But I think, I mean, last year when we played here, I was able to do that. I was able to play my game, not look on the other side as much.

I think I just have to improve a little bit. I think I have a good chance.

Q. What's changed from then to now? Are you a different player? Do you have a different mindset now?

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ: I don't think I'm a different player. I think just a lot of things happened also off the court: illnesses, some injuries.

So it kind of gives you a better perspective on what you're doing, really appreciating what you're doing. But I think as a player, obviously you improve a little bit. But I think, in general, you develop more as a person.

------------------------------------------
4. Third round: Sharapova v Vesnina review
------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0

This was third on the Rod Laver Arena day-session. Despite the easy scoreline, the match lasted 1h25m, with the first six games closely contested before Maria ran away with the last nine.

Maria had a positive 22:16 W:UE ratio, while Elena's was 17:28. It was a bit of a break-fest, with Maria breaking 7 times from 17 break-points, and being broken twice herself from 7 BPs. Maria won only 58% of the points on her own serve, while Elena won only 35% of points on hers.

I have uploaded new articles and Maria's third-round press-conference to my website:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html

-----------------------------------------------
5. Third round: Dell'Acqua v Mauresmo TV-report
-----------------------------------------------

This was the match they showed on BBCi, and for most of it, I thought it was a bad decision to put Muscular Mauresmo and Flabby Dell'Acqua on the coveted Rod Laver Arena evening-session on a day when Maria Sharapova and Elena Vesnina would have been much more delectable.

However, because Mauresmo is my least-favourite active player, it gave me a wonderful tingling sensation of Schadenfreude when I realised she was about to lose - when, serving to stay in the match at *4-5 in the third (having been *4-3 up), she let 40/0 become 40/40.

It had already been sweet when Mauresmo lost the second set on a double fault, but let's relive the final moments of the match:

Third set: Mauresmo serving 4-5:
{40/0} Mauresmo came to the net, and left-handed Dell'Acqua hit a stunning crosscourt forehand pass-winner low over the net.
{40/15} After a longish baseline-rally, Mauresmo dumped a forehand halfway up the net.
{40/30} Double fault #9 (second serve into the net).
{40/40} Double fault #10 (second serve let; horrendous second serve into the net).
{Ad Dell'Acqua: MP #1} Dell'Acqua got a short ball, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner right in Mauresmo's backhand-corner - it looked like Mauresmo deliberately left it, and it took everyone about a second to realise that it was in.

Dell'Acqua was in tears in her on-court interview with Todd Woodbridge, who appeared to come perilously close to copping himself a feel as he waved his bare hand in front of her bosom.

BBC-commentator John Lloyd summed up Mauresmo's performance as "an absolute chokefest", and suggested this might be the loss that persuades the 28-year-old to hang up her rackets.

Mauresmo said: "Confidence was the problem, and not playing with the aggression that I should have."

-------------------------------------------------
6. Third round: Roddick v Kohlschreiber TV-report
-------------------------------------------------

- ANDY RODDICK [6] lt. PHILIPP KOHLSCHREIBER [29], 4-6 6-3 6-7 (9/11) 7-6 (7/3) 6-8

I don't usually report on men's matches; I just sit through them while working on a laptop. Aside from the fact that I prefer looking at ladies, the men don't have as entertaining rallies as the girls who play inside the baseline, take the ball early, and hit it flat with flairsome power. Almost all the entertaining men have now retired, leaving men's tennis in the grip of a Federer/Nadal dominance where the winner of each Grand Slam is entirely predictable, while women's tennis is the one with depth now.

But this match was outstanding. What really made me sit up and take notice was Kohlschreiber's first match-point, at 5-4* (ad out) in the fifth set. In an amazing rally, Roddick came to the net and hit a forehand volley onto the baseline. Kohlschreiber hoisted a skyscraper lob, then immediately put up his hand to challenge. Roddick complained that he was allowed to challenge after hitting the shot, but the umpire allowed the challenge anyway: Hawkeye showed that the ball caught the outside edge of the baseline, so Kohlschreiber lost the point.

Roddick had been tetchy with the umpire since the fourth set, complaining about the noise from the crowd ("You've got ears, haven't you? Or should I send you a fax or an email so that you can review it?"), and an incident where a ball from Kohlschreiber was called out, then overruled as good after Roddick had left it, and Kohlschreiber was awarded the point without a replay ("You're an idiot! I'm going to speak very slowly so that you can understand me").

Roddick saved three more match-points at *4-5 with three aces, then one in the deuce-court helped him to hold. But when he served at *6-7, Kohlschreiber came up with two pass-winners on the sideline to make it 0/30, and another pass-winner for 15/40. Roddick hit a forehand wide to seal his fate.

It's a shame to lose Roddick, who is one of my favourite players in men's tennis, with his huge, sharp serve and huge, sharp forehand. He could have won three Wimbledons by now if it wasn't for Roger Federer, and with Federer lacking match-play after illness and yet dropping a mere six games in his first two matches here, Roddick was one of the few men who could have stopped him turning men's tennis into a complete joke.

------------------------------
7. Articles about Dokić, Hsieh
------------------------------

Dokić Still Chasing Her Dreams
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1983
>>>
MELBOURNE, Australia - Although her quest to retake the Grand Slam stage was cut short as she lost during Australian Open qualifying, former Top 5 player Jelena Dokić still made her way back to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour limelight a week before at Hobart. And despite all the setbacks, non-believers and a fairly removed sense of confidence, she still believes she can do it again.

Following an excellent junior-career, which included a US Open singles-title and a Roland Garros runner-up finish (to Nadia Petrova), Dokić first made a stir on the Tour with a shock 6-2 6-0 upset win over then-world No.1 Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon in 1999. In the seasons to follow, she pretty much accomplished it all: won Tour titles (five in singles, four in doubles), cracked the Top 10 in both disciplines (going as high as No.4 in singles and No.10 in doubles), and clearly asserting herself as one of the most promising young stars in the women's game.

As quickly as it all came, however, it went.

"The last couple of years were tough for me," said Dokić, who dropped out of the Top 100 in 2004, and has not been back inside since. "I had some personal issues off the court that I was trying to sort out, and I just couldn't give tennis the focus I wanted. I wanted to give it 100% before coming back - and right now I feel I'm at that stage."

Having barely played over the last few years - and playing only one match in 2007 - an unranked Dokić needed a wildcard just to enter the qualifying-draw at the Moorilla Hobart International the week before the Australian Open. It would end up being a breakout-performance, as she won three matches to reach the main draw (including two wins over top-100 players) and then beat world No.54 Martina Müller in the first round of the main draw to make the second round.

"I really didn't expect to make it that far, and I don't think a lot of people were expecting me to even make it through my first qualifying-match," Dokić added. "But I beat three players in three days, and won my first-round match as well. I really exceeded my expectations, and I'm really excited."

After four straight days of play, disaster struck, however. Dokić aggravated a right-ankle injury during the first set of her second match against Flavia Pennetta, and retired: a disappointing end to a marvellous comeback-week.

"I hurt it in my first round but aggravated it there," Dokić said afterwards. "It was obviously great to come back in Australia, but it was pretty tough to do so at a Tour-level event. I had some tough opponents and I was playing hard all week. But it went far better than I thought it would - I'm really pleased."

Dokić got a wildcard into Australian Open qualifying and won her first match, but fell in her second match to Tamarine Tanasugarn. With the sudden spike in play, however, it's not unheard of that a comeback suffers a setback like that. And the big-hitting Australian certainly isn't letting that cast a shadow on her 2008 goals.

"My goal at the start of the season was to make it back into the world's top 50, but of course, as you saw, I'm going to be prone to injuries the next few months probably, just because I haven't played this much in the last two years.

"What I really miss about playing on the Tour is the competition. Day in and day out just playing points and matches, and seeing how I can do against the other players. In Hobart, I think I showed that I still have the desire. And I'm looking forward to playing this year out."
<<<

Hsieh makes Grand Slam mark for Taiwan (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (Editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
Hsieh,Su-wei proudly flew the Taiwanese flag on Friday when she became the first player from her country to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam tournament.

The 22-year-old qualifier edged out France's Aravane Rezaď 6-2 6-7 6-4, and now plays top seed and world number one Justine Henin of Belgium.

World number 158 Hsieh, who plays double-handed on both sides, has now won six matches to get to the fourth round, having come through the qualifying-competition.

While Rezaď tried to out-power Hsieh, the Taiwanese mixed up the pace, even resorting to moonball tactics in an effort both to upset the rhythm of the Frenchwoman and to recover from a series of long rallies.

"She made me run very much and I was tired, so I had to go moonball to get more seconds to rest," Hsieh told reporters.

Hsieh began the year by representing Taiwan at the Hopman Cup in Perth, where she claimed a win against world number 38 Gisela Dulko of Argentina.
<<<

Hsieh Breaks Through
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1982
>>>
Slotted to meet Henin in the fourth round is qualifier Hsieh,Su-Wei, the very first woman from Chinese Taipei ever to make a Grand Slam fourth round. Hsieh had a topsy-turvy 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4 win over Aravane Rezaď on Friday, squandering a 5-2 second-set lead - with three match-points at 5-4 - before finally closing it out in the third. The 22-year-old, who fell in the first round of her five previous Grand Slam main draws, becomes the first qualifier to make the round of 16 here since 2004 (when Mara Santangelo did the same).
<<<

HSIEH MAKES HISTORY
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Hsieh,Su-wei become the first Taiwanese player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Hsieh played on public courts, and was kicked off by amateurs when her allotted time was up. There are no tennis-academies or institutes in Taiwan.

"You go to one court, and maybe in the afternoon have to go to another place to get on a court," the 22-year-old Hsieh said after a 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4 win over Aravane Rezaď of France.

Hsieh combined looping "moonballs" with double-handed shots on both sides to rally past Rezaď.

"She made me run very much and I was tired, so I have to go moonball to get more seconds to rest," Hsieh said.

One of seven children, Hsieh was coached by her father, Tzu-lung, who learned of the game after walking by a tennis-court. Younger brother Cheng-peng will play in the junior Australian Open starting on Sunday.

Hsieh is guaranteed at least $75,140 in prize-money for making the fourth round. She plans to buy her father a motorcycle.
<<<

--------------------------------
8. Third-round draw: Bottom half
--------------------------------

* SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (go Sania!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v LI,NA [24] (dawaj Marta!)
* Sabine Lisicki [Q] v Caroline Wozniacki (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28] (ajde Ana!)

* ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] (mouthwatering match - my loyalty is to Anna)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual (POĎME DANIELA!!)
* NADIA PETROVA [14] v Ekaterina Makarova
* AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] v SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2]

------------------------------
9. Fourth-round draw: Top half
------------------------------

* Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (jia you Su-Wei!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v Casey Dell'Acqua
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7] (POJĎME NICOLE!!)


9.1 Sharapova v Dementieva preview
----------------------------------

MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]:
1r + Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3
2r + Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3
3r + Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0

ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]:
1r + Tzipora Obziler, 6-2 6-2
2r + Anabel Medina Garrigues, 5-7 6-2 6-3
3r + SHAHAR PE'ER [17], 6-2 6-0

Elena Dementieva doesn't tend to do very well here, with only three fourth-round appearances to show for nine Australian Opens. She doesn't like coming from the cold of Moscow to the heat of Australia. She lost in the first round of Sydney this week.

Furthermore, Maria has dominated Dementieva since their first meeting at Birmingham 2003, compiling a 7:2 head to head.

Dementieva's 2007 was highlighted by titles at Istanbul and the one every Russian wants to win: Moscow, where she beat Serena Williams in the final!

Maria would be the firm favourite against Dementieva, but it all depends on the day.

I'm actually more worried about Dementieva now than I was when I wrote the above preview before the tournament began. Perhaps the main reason Maria has usually had her way with Dementieva in the past is that Dementieva has had a very weak serve. But apparently she has vastly improved it for this year, and she just thrashed a better player than Vesnina even more one-sidedly than Maria thrashed Vesnina.


9.2 Vaidišová v Williams preview
--------------------------------

NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]:
1r + Ioana Raluca Olaru, 6-3 6-0
2r + Alicia Molik, 6-2 6-3
3r + Ai Sugiyama, 6-3 6-4

SERENA WILLIAMS [7]:
1r + Jarmila Gajdošová [WC], 6-3 6-3
2r + Yuan,Meng [Q], 6-3 6-1
3r + VICTORIA AZARENKA [26], 6-3 6-4

This showdown is a repeat of the Australian Open 2007 semi-final, in which Williams beat Nicole 7-6 (7/5) 6-4. Williams went on to beat Nicole two more times in 2007 for a 3:0 head to head.

Williams went on to win the Australian Open 2007 despite her ranking of #81, but she hasn't won a title since Miami, having struggled with injuries and Justine Henin. She finished 2007 with two consecutive retirements - the latter to her left knee, on which she had surgery in 2003. One wonders how long her body will allow her to continue in tennis.

Williams started 2008 by winning the Hopman Cup with Mardy Fish, though she only played two singles-rubbers: she struggled past Lucie Šafářová 6-0 2-6 7-5 (Lucie led 4-2 in the third) and Alicia Molik 6-2 7-6.

Apparently Serena's much leaner this year, though she hasn't showed any scary results since beating Nicole and Svetlana Kuznetsova back to back to reach the Moscow final, where she lost to Elena Dementieva.

It won't be easy for Nicole to overturn that 0:3 head to head, especially after the third round, where Nicole's statistics weren't as impressive as before, and Williams beat a better opponent by the same scoreline.


Serena into Open fourth round at a canter (AFP)
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams cruised past Victoria Azarenka of Belarus into the Australian Open fourth round Friday and warned she was ready to hit top gear in the tourmanent's latter stages.

The American seventh seed blasted down 15 aces to win 6-3 6-4, and said she had plenty in reserve.

"I'm feeling pretty good about where I am; I'm just enjoying every moment being here," she said.

"I'm moving well. I'm not even moving my fastest - you know I can move faster when I want to."

Azarenka, the 26th seed at Melbourne Park, did well to keep in touch with Williams throughout the match, with 25 unforced errors from the eight-time Grand Slam champion helping her opponent's cause.

"She played really well off the ground, and she moved well, which is always good to be able to hit hard," Williams said.

"I thought she had a lot of pace on her balls too."

But Williams, a three-time winner here, was able to ratchet up the power in the second set, and secured her fourth-round berth after one hour 17 minutes.

She was particularly pleased with her serve, which responded well to prematch shoulder-treatment.

"I definitely served well today," she said. "It was much better my other two rounds, so it's looking good. I like it."

Williams will meet Czech 12th seed Nicole Vaidišová next up, whom she beat in the semi-finals last year on the way to a title-win that stunned the tennis-world.

"It's another good match: she's playing really well," she said of the 18-year-old, who like Williams is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Vaidišová said she would have to take her chances against an opponent of Williams' stature.

"Obviously it doesn't get much tougher than that," she said.

"She's a great champion, a great fighter. She'll definitely fight until the end. It's a Grand Slam; everybody wants to do their best.

"I'll definitely have to have my 'A' game on."
<<<

9.3 Potential Sharapova v Henin quarter-final
---------------------------------------------

Henin not looking ahead [Teletext 498]
>>>
Top seed Justine Henin refused to look ahead to a potential quarter-final against Maria Sharapova in Melbourne.

Belgian Henin has failed to dominate opponents in her three matches so far: the latest a 7-5 6-4 victory over Italian Francesca Schiavone.

Henin said: "I hate to look too far. I just want to get ready, improve my game and be in my best shape. I know the draw, but I like to stay concentrated."
<<<

-------------------
10. Andrew's wishes
-------------------
10.1 Fourth-round wishes
------------------------

+ Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] d. JUSTINE HENIN [1]
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. Casey Dell'Acqua
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]

+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Sabine Lisicki [Q]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF]
+ Ekaterina Makarova d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]


10.2 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Ekaterina Makarova


10.3 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. SANIA MIRZA [31,DF]


10.4 Final wish
---------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

-------------------
11. Women's Doubles
-------------------
11.1 Second-round results (Friday 18th January)
-------------------------

+ Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová d. Hsieh,Su-Wei [s]/Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3 6-4

To be played on Saturday:
* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v Gabriela Navrátilová/Klára Zakopalová


11.2 Third-round draw
---------------------

* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v (YAN,ZI [s]/ZHENG,JIE)[7]

------------------------------
12. Order of Play for Saturday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
MS 3r: Marin Čilić v FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ [7]
MS 3r: ROGER FEDERER [1] v Janko Tipsarević
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
WS 3r: SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8]
WS 3r: LLEYTON HEWITT [19] v MARCOS BAGHDATIS [15]

Margaret Court Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEST = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: JUAN MÓNACO [21] v TOMÁŠ BERDYCH [13]
WS 3r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
XD 1r: Jessica Moore/Greg Jones v Rennae Stubbs/Todd Perry
WD 2r: Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v Gabriela Navrátilová/Klára Zakopalová
|
Margaret Court Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEST = 08:30 GMT)
MS 3r: DAVID NALBANDIAN [10] v JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22]

What a shame I won't get to watch Anna v Little Maria on BBCi, although it's still an honour for them to be playing on Rod Laver Arena.

It's hard to say whether I still prefer Sania Mirza to Ana Ivanović, given how impressed I've been with Ana's tennis and beauty so far this year. Watching Sania on BBCi from 08:25 GMT will probably decide who deserves that #15 spot in my list of favourite players.

My Eternal Fanship:
1. Monica Seles
2. Maria Sharapova
3. Daniela Hantuchová
4. Jelena Dokić
5. Iva Majoli (retired)
6. Karina Habšudová (retired)
7. Iroda Tulyaganova
8. Vera Zvonarëva
9. Nicole Vaidišová
10. Anna Chakvetadze
11. Lucie Šafářová

My demi-fanship:
12. Tatiana Golovin
13. Maria Kirilenko
14. Magdaléna Rybáriková
15. Sania Mirza
16. Ana Ivanović
17. Marion Bartoli [s]
18. Michaëlla Krajíček
19. Karolina Šprem
20. Gisela Dulko
21. Flavia Pennetta

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

andrewbroad
Jan 19th, 2008, 10:34 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Third-round results
3. Third round: Chakvetadze v Kirilenko scoreboard-report
4. Third round: Mirza v Williams TV-report
5. Fourth-round draw
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Girls' Singles
8. Order of Play for Sunday

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

Anna Chakvetadze and her wasps:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1082/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=chakvetadze

Maria "She's So Lovely" Kirilenko:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/54/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=kirilenko
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310577.html

Sania Mirza - sexpot of the day:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/461/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza

Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic

Search Getty Images for:
chakvetadze
kirilenko
mirza
ivanovic

Various players including Maria Kirilenko, Ana Ivanović, and <drool> Sania Mirza:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7197440.stm

Various players (new of Kirilenko):
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

----------------------
2. Third-round results (Saturday 19th January)
----------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF], 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28], 6-3 6-4

Quote of the day comes from Maria Kirilenko: "There are two big screens on the court, and I was watching them and I saw Anna's face, and she seemed really tired. And of course, when you see someone dying on the other side, you feel more energy."

Beautiful loser:
- SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 6-7 (0/7) 4-6

The Land of Sweet Demise:
+ AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2], 6-3 6-4

Radwańska compared her win to beating second seed Maria Sharapova in the third round of the US Open: "It was exactly the same match, and in both matches I had nothing to lose."

Due to persistent rain, the following matches are postponed to Sunday:
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual (POĎME DANIELA!!)
* Marta Domachowska [Q] v LI,NA [24] (dawaj Marta!)
* Sabine Lisicki [Q] v Caroline Wozniacki (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* NADIA PETROVA [14] v Ekaterina Makarova

Full results:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/cmatch/11ws.html

---------------------------------------------------------
3. Third round: Chakvetadze v Kirilenko scoreboard-report
---------------------------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] d. ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF], 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2

Three or even two years ago, I would have approved of this result - and even as an Anna-fan, I'm happy for Maria that she has reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, six days ahead of her 21st birthday.

Maria "She's So Lovely" Kirilenko is one of my favourite players outside my Eternal Fanship. But then the equally ultracute Anna came along, and developed such a game of flairsome power and spreading rallies that I inducted her into my Eternal Fanship, whilst remaining a demi-fan of Maria.

Maria, who is just 6 weeks older than Anna, made her mark first, winning the doubles at Birmingham 2004 with Maria Sharapova, while Anna made her mark by knocking reigning French Open champion Anastasia Myskina out of the US Open 2004.

In 2005, their careers progressed in parallel, although Maria won her first WTA singles-title at Beijing, while Anna had to wait until Guangzhou 2006 for hers. After that, Anna went from strength to strength, winning Moscow 2006, persuading me to induct her into my Eternal Fanship, winning four more titles in 2007, rising to a career-high ranking of #5, and seeming to have pulled clear of Maria with a 3:1 head-to-head.

But Anna's preparations for the Australian Open were shattered when burglars broke into her house on 18th December, beat her father up, and tied Anna up so tightly that she couldn't feel the fingers of her left hand for days. Three exhibition-matches, a first-round exit at Sydney, and Andrea Petkovic's retirement in the first game of her first match here, left Anna desperately short of match-play, while Maria hit top form with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Akiko Morigami in the previous round. So I knew this was going to be a danger-match for Anna, and so it proved.

When Anna won the first set on a tiebreak, I thought it would be tough for Maria to come back and Anna would roll through the second, but instead it was Anna who got tired, while Maria played a brilliant second set according to those lucky enough to see it (or unlucky if you only like Anna). The third set was closer than the scoreline implies, but with Maria serving first, a single break left Anna in a *2-5 hole, and she sank after saving four match-points in that game.


Because this match was something special, I decided to burn the midnight-oil in England and follow live scores. After a brief rain-delay while they closed the roof on Rod Laver Arena, the match started at 11:18 AEDT.

I also used the live-scores thread at
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=329429


First set
---------
CHAKVETAD _* * * * * *T 7(8)
KIRILENKO * * * * * *__ 6(6)

Maria serving 0-0: Double fault. 0/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Anna serving 0-1: 30/0 -> 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Anna. Held.

Tough so far! And they're having long rallies according to TheBoiledEgg - unlike Kuznetsova v Radwańska (*0-3) on Vodafone, which is the only other court with a roof.

Maria serving 1-1: 30/0. 30/15. Maria hit a "great dropshot". 40/15. 40/30. Held.
Anna serving 1-2: 15/0. 15/15. 40/15. Held.

I'm actually feeling equal passion for these girls, even though Anna is a member of my Eternal Fanship while Maria's tennis isn't up to my EF-standards. My Passion just wants this match to go on and on without a loser, even though it's eating into my sleep (it's gone 00:30 GMT, and I have to be up in time for the evening-session at 08:30).

I think Anna and Maria are the two cutest girls in tennis, and as cute as each other. Maria is prettier and has a lovely smile, while Anna is so expressive, and has all these cute on-court habits (as documented on my website).

Maria serving 2-2: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. 40/30. Held.
Anna serving 2-3: 0/15. 0/30 -> 30/30. 30/40 (BP). Maria had a "rough miss" with a forehand down the line. 40/40. Ad Anna. Held.

Now Maria has the baggage of a missed break-point to deal with.

Maria serving 3-3: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Anna serving 3-4: Held to love.

I can sense the momentum shifting ever so slightly in Anna's favour, along with my loyalty.

Maria serving 4-4: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. 40/30. Held.

Now we come to the sharp end of the set, where Maria's advantage of serving first comes into play as she can break for the set in any of Anna's remaining service-games, whereas Anna has to either break or serve it out, or win it on a tiebreak.

Anna serving 4-5: 40/0. 40/30. Held.

Now it's fascinating, as Maria has the material advantage but Anna has the momentum.

Maria serving 5-5: 0/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Maria. Held.

Now Maria has both the lead and the momentum, as Anna failed to push home her 0/30 opening. Come on Anna!

Anna serving 5-6: Held to love.

What a response!

6-6 tiebreak: Maria *0/0;
Anna *1/0, *1/1, 2/1*, 3/1*, *3/2, *4/2, 4/3*. Would have been 5/3*, but Maria made a successful challenge.
Maria *4/4;
Anna *5/4. Double fault. *5/5. Lucky netcord for Anna. 6/5* (SP #1). Maria saved it with great retrieving.
Maria 6/6*;
Anna *7/6 (SP #2), *7/7.
Anna won the first set 7-6 (8/6) at 12:22 (1h04m).

A most intriguing set, with no breaks but subtle momentum-shifts. But I could do with Anna finishing this in two, or I'm going to end up with about four hours' sleep!

Wintermute: "Match is not great quality though, most points ending on errors."


Second set
----------
CHAKVETAD *______ 1
KIRILENKO _*@*@*@ 6

Anna serving 0-0: Held to love.

Wintermute: "Masha tried to do a Radwańska on return of serve by stepping in and failed quite badly. Anna wasn't very impressed and complained to the umpire."

Maria serving 0-1: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15 -> 40/40. Ad Maria. Held.
Anna serving 1-1: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (2 BPs). Broken.

Aargh! Anna has yet to break Maria this match. What am I gonna do if this goes to a third set and it's past 2am in England? (it's 01:35 right now).

Agnieszka Radwańska just got rid of Kuznetsova 6-3 6-4 - that was pretty sweet. Right now Rod Laver Arena is the only court playing.

DownTheLine21: "Maria looks extremely fired up."

Maria serving 2-1: 0/30 -> 40/30. Held.

The momentum's firmly in Maria's favour now, as Anna wastes another 0/30 opening. It's times like these that Anna's burglary-ordeal comes flooding back into my head if not hers.

2moretogo: "Finally Makiri playing with some aggression. It only took her a set to get settled. Anna C, moonballing"
DownTheLine21: "Maria is playing fearlessly at the moment."

Anna serving 1-3: 0/40 (3 BPs). 15/40. Broken.

2moretogo: "Anna hits a lot of angles but she goes for a lot (and I am being kind here) room over the net. If Makiri can continue to flatten the ball out she can run away with this match."
saniapower: "Makiri playing brilliant tennis in the 2nd"
DownTheLine21: "Maria was pissed that she lost that tiebreak. She channeled her aggression into great playing."

Well, if it's gonna go to a third set, the sooner the better in terms of my sleep, though Anna needs to stem this momentum before Maria takes control of the third set too!

Maria serving 4-1: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. Held.
Anna serving 1-5: 0/30. 15/40 (2 SPs). Double fault. Maria won the second set 6-1 at 12:50 AEDT.

Now it's beginning to resemble - in scoreline at least - that horrible US Open semi-final when Anna lost 3-6 6-1 6-1.

And Anna hasn't had a single break-point the entire match.


Third set
---------
CHAKVETAD @__*____ 2
KIRILENKO _@* *@*@ 6

Maria serving 0-0: 0/40 (3 BPs) -> 30/40. Broken.

First break-points of the match for Anna, and she converts! I'm a strong believer that a new set is a new beginning, and can easily reset the momentum of the player who won the second.

Anna's had matches before where she's lost the second set 6-0 and got her act together in the third, e.g. 4r French Open 2007 v Lucie Šafářová and rr Sony Ericsson Championships v Jelena Janković. Maybe she's learned the art of tactical tanking.

And Maria has had plenty of third-set let-downs in her career - in fact she's 0:8 in third sets against top-ten players! Well, no. She did beat #3 Janković 6-2 3-6 7-5 at San Diego 2007.

Anna serving 1-0: 0/15. 15/15. 15/40 (2 BPs). 30/40. Broken.
Maria serving 1-1: Held to love.

Not good! My loyalty is firmly to Anna now, as my vows of Eternal Fanship are separate from how attractive I find Maria.

Anna serving 1-2: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Maria serving 2-2: 0/15. 15/15. 40/15. Held.
Anna serving 2-3: 30/0 -> 30/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Maria (BP). Deuce #2. Ad Maria (BP #2). Broken.

Could that be the final nail in Anna's coffin - broken after 30/0 and 40/30? She's going to need all her grit and fighting-qualities to come through this one now.

DownTheLine21: "It seems Chakvetadze is playing ace or die tennis."

Maria serving 4-2: 40/0. 40/15. Held.

This is a terrible hole for Anna to dig herself out of, even though it's just one break. Maria would have to choke horribly.

2moretogo: "Usually she's [Anna] more demonstrative, winning or losing. Tonight she's just 'whateva' I got someplace else to be."

Anna serving 2-5: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (2 MPs) -> 40/40. Ad Anna. Double fault #9. Deuce #2. Ad Maria (MP #3). Deuce #3. Ad Maria (MP #4). Deuce #4. Ad Anna. Deuce #5. Ad Maria (MP #5). "For Russia, Maria?" "No, for me." Maria won 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2 at 13:31 - the first in a series of long matches that led to the latest-ever finish to a day's play at a Grand Slam: 4:33am!


3.1 Statistics
--------------

Anna racked up a woeful W:UE ratio of 28:54, while Maria's looks just as bad, though less aggressive, at 17:30.

A big difference between the two was the quality of their second serves. Maria won 59% of the points on her second serve, while Anna won only 42% on her own second serve (it deteriorated from set to set: 67%, 30%, 23%) and served a monstrous 9 double faults. Maria's second serve was a bit faster than Anna's too.

With the first set going completely with serve until the tiebreak, Maria broke Anna 6 times from 15 break-points (only one of which was in the first set), while the only break-points Anna had were the three at 0/40 in the first game of the third, when she scored her only break of the match.

Maria is renowned for her returns of serve. Having studied Anna's game closely, I can't say the same about her.


3.2 Articles
------------

Kuznetsova makes shock early exit [CEEFAX 491]
>>>
And sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze lost 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2 to Maria Kirilenko.
<<<

Chakvetadze dumped out [Teletext 498]
>>>
Maria Kirilenko won an all-Russian third-round battle to end sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze's title-hopes.

Chakvetadze, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open last autumn, looked on the way to victory when she edged the opener 8/6 on a tiebreak.

But Kirilenko, 20, came storming back to win the next two sets for a 6-7 6-1 6-2 victory to seal a fourth-round spot in a Grand Slam for the first time.
<<<

Kirilenko thanks coach [Teletext 498]
>>>
Maria Kirilenko paid tribute to coach Eric van Harpen after her victory over Anna Chakvetadze in Melbourne.

The 20-year-old Russian recovered from losing the third set to see off sixth seed Chakvetadze 6-7 6-1 6-2.

Kirilenko said: "I understand him, and he's speaking to me about things I haven't considered before. We have been working on more positive things. He's helped me a lot."
<<<

Kirilenko storms past sixth seed
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Another top-10 seed has bitten the dust at the Australian Open, with Russian Anna Chakvetadze bounced out of the tournament by compatriot Maria Kirilenko.

Kirilenko dropped the first set, but came back to win the next two and claim a surprise 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2 win over the sixth seed.

The first set went to serve, forcing it into a thrilling tiebreak, which Chakvetadze won 8/6.

It was supposed to be an uphill battle for Kirilenko from there, with Chakvetadze boasting a 28:1 win/loss record in Grand Slams after taking the first set.

But the No.27 seed ignored the trend, breaking Chakvetadze on three occasions en route to securing the second set in under half an hour.

Kirilenko broke Chakvetadze at 3-2 and 5-2 in the deciding set to complete her first victory over her fellow Russian in three years.

The loss was too much to bear for Chakvetadze's father, who fled Rod Laver Arena as his daughter slid towards defeat.
<<<

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7197439.stm
>>>
Russians Chakvetadze and Kirilenko played out a tense encounter, with Chakvetadze edging the opening set on a tiebreak after neither player managed a break of serve.

But Kirilenko, trying to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, dominated the second set, and recovered from dropping serve at the start of the decider.

There were plenty of nerves from the 27th seed as four match-points went begging on Chakvetadze's serve in game eight, but Kirilenko converted her fifth chance for a huge win.

"It was a really tough match," said Kirilenko.

"In the first set, I was a little bit unlucky, and I decided to tell myself, 'Maria, come on, keep working, fight for every point,' and I did it and I'm so happy."
<<<

Sixth seed Chakvetadze sunk by Kirilenko (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (eeporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze was knocked out of the Australian Open 6-7 6-1 6-2 by her former clubmate and fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko on Saturday.

Chakvetadze was the second top-10-ranked women's player to lose within the space of an hour at a wet Melbourne Park early on Saturday after second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was bundled out in the third round by Poland's Agnieszka Radwańska.

Kirilenko, who used to train at the same club as Chakvetadze in Moscow, had not beaten her compatriot since 2005, and the three-match losing-streak had started to annoy the 27th seed.

"The last few times I lost [to] her, both in Indian Wells, I got really p***ed, you know," Kirilenko told reporters. "Oh, my God, I beat her every time and now I'm losing.

"I was always the best... when I was small, in juniors. Then the last two years she has [been] very successful, wins everything, so she became a top-10 player."

The match was evenly poised in the first set, with the 20-year-old Chakvetadze prevailing in the tiebreak 8/6, and Kirilenko admitted she had begun to ponder another loss.

"The first set was really tough," said Kirilenko.

"I thought, 'Oh, my God: if it's going to be like [this] all game, it's going to be really difficult'".

Kirilenko, however, said she noticed from watching the television-screens above Rod Laver Arena that Chakvetadze was beginning to look fatigued.

"I saw that she was a little bit tired, because there's two big screens on the court," she said. "When you see like someone is dying on that side, you feel more energy."

Chakvetadze saved four match-points, but she was unable to halt the momentum of Kirilenko, who won the match at her fifth opportunity when her opponent sent a forehand wide.
<<<

Seeds tumble out of Australian Open tennis
by Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
World number two Svetlana Kuznetsova became a shock-casualty on day six of the Australian Open on Saturday, with sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze and men's seventh seed Fernando González also skidding out.

With rain delaying play on the outside courts at Melbourne Park, the early action was restricted to the Rod Laver and Vodafone Arenas, which have retractable roofs.

At the Rod Laver Arena, Chakvetadze let slip a one-set lead against 27th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko, a childhood-friend, crashing 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2.

"It was a really tough match; in the first set I was a little bit unlucky, and I decided to tell myself, 'Maria, come on, keep working, fight for every point,' and I did it and I'm so happy," said Kirilenko.

"Usually I'm losing my third match in a Grand Slam, so I'm happy the tradition is broken and I'm in the fouth round."

She now plays either the Slovak Republic's Daniela Hantuchová or Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual.
<<<

Radwańska stuns second-seeded Kuznetsova (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Another top-seeded Russian fell on Saturday, as No. 27 Maria Kirilenko upset sixth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2.

Quite naturally, Kirilenko was thrilled with her accomplishment.

"I think it's quite good to win for me. And before, of course, I beat a couple good players, like top 10. Usually, I'm losing like every time first round in the Grand Slam," Kirilenko said. "Really, it's good I broke this tradition in the first round already, so I'm quite happy."
<<<

The other Maria dares to dream
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Maria Kirilenko has hailed her shock third-round Australian Open win over compatriot Anna Chakvetadze as a career-breakthrough following years of misery at Grand Slam tournaments.

The No. 27 seed, a regular first- or second-round loser at Slams, powered past her highly-rated opponent 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2 in one of the real surprises on day six at Melbourne Park.

It sets up a fourth-round clash with either Daniela Hantuchová or Virginia Ruano Pascual - a rarefied position for a player who lists classical music as one of her great loves.

"I think it's quite a good win for me," Kirilenko said.

"I have beaten a couple of good players in the top 10 [in other tournaments], but usually I'm losing every time in the first round in Grand Slams. It's good I broke this tradition here, so I'm quite happy."

"I'm working really hard, and now everything's coming together and I'm starting to play better."

Chakvetadze had a hold over Kirilenko leading into the Australian Open, boasting a 4:1 career-record against her childhood-friend from juniors.

But despite the losing-trend and dropping the first set, Kirilenko's confidence soared as Chakvetadze tired and began making a series of unforced errors.

"There's always competition between us to see who would be better, and the last few times I lost to her, I got really p***ed off," Kirilenko revealed.

"It's not really easy to play against her, because she plays quite deep and she has good hands.

"But today I felt like I was running well, and I felt strong, like I can play the ball how I want."

Kirilenko, who turns 21 on Friday, will now play in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

So is she daring to dream?

"I wish I can keep going like this. If I can keep playing a good game then I'm going to go far," she said.

"But I want to think about each game, each opponent.

"It's better step by step."
<<<

Kirilenko closes game with junior rival Chakvetadze (AP)
>>>
Maria Kirilenko is slowly closing the gap on childhood-opponent Anna Chakvetadze.

"Actually, I was always the best when I was small," Kirilenko said after rallying to beat No. 6 Chakvetadze 6-7(6) 6-1 6-2 and advancing to the fourth round. "Then the last two years she is very successful, wins everything, so she became a top-10 player."

"To be honest, like I was little bit surprised, because from the small age I never thought that she could play as good as she's playing."

The 20-year-old Kirilenko broke her fellow Russian in the second game of the second set. Chakvetadze conceded two double faults to hand Kirilenko the win on her fifth match-point.

"Usually I'm losing like every time in the first round in a Grand Slam," No. 27 Kirilenko said. "So I'm happy the tradition is broken."

Kirilenko is 2:4 against Chakvetadze, who is a little more than a month younger than Kirilenko.
<<<

Bottom Quarter Rocked as Svetlana, Anna Ousted
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1985
>>>
The bottom quarter of the Australian Open draw was rocked on Saturday, as its two highest seeds - Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze - were bundled out of the tournament, as the third round continued Down Under.

While Kuznetsova went down on Vodafone Arena, Chakvetadze was succumbing as well across the way at Rod Laver Arena. The No.6 seed was defeated in three sets by No.27-seeded countrywoman Maria Kirilenko: 6-7(6) 6-1 6-2.

"It's quite a good win for me," Kirilenko said. "I've beaten some top-10 players before, but usually I'm losing in the first week of a Grand Slam, and so it's really good I could break this tradition here. I'm really quite happy."

Both women displayed erratic form throughout the one-hour, five-minute opening set, Chakvetadze compiling a -10 differential and Kirilenko a -15 differential, and a gritty Chakvetadze managed to close it out in the tiebreak. But while Kirilenko tidied up her game in the next two sets (hitting 11 winners to nine errors), the No.6 seed's game seemed to crumble (16 winners, 32 errors).

"The first set was so tough; I thought, 'If it's like this the whole match, it's going to be really tough," Kirilenko said. "But in the second and third sets, she looked a little tired; there are two big screens on the court and I was watching them and I saw Anna's face, and she seemed really tired. And I wasn't tired. And of course, when you see someone dying on the other side, you feel more energy."

The win over Chakvetadze was Kirilenko's third career top-10 win and second-best, having beaten a No.3-ranked Jelena Janković last summer in San Diego. It propels the Russian into her career-first Grand Slam second week.
<<<

Maria's third-round press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-19/200801191200718365796.html

------------------------------------------
4. Third round: Mirza v Williams TV-report
------------------------------------------

- SANIA MIRZA [31,DF] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 6-7 (0/7) 4-6

Poor Sania. This may well have been her final Grand Slam, as she now faces up to three years in prison for "dishonouring the Indian flag" with her sole-shots at the recent Hopman Cup. Her trial is on 10th March.

This was a great performance by Sania, with flairsome groundstrokes that frequently overpowered Williams from the baseline, and some nice spreading rallies. If only Sania had a decent serve, she'd be top ten - but it hasn't improved, and the commentators also said she relied too much on her instinct rather than thoughtful point-construction.

There was some debate about whether this match should be relegated to the Vodafone Arena after Roger Federer's late finish, but both women stood their ground, and I'm glad they did or BBCi wouldn't have televised it! The following match (Hewitt v Baghdatis - Chris Bailey predicted a riot if /that/ would have been dropped from the schedule) therefore finished at 4:33am - the latest-ever finish to a day's play at a Grand Slam!


Sania came onto court looking quite scared, I think. It's pretty intimidating coming out to face a Williams-sister on the Rod Laver evening-seesion.

Sania had a long vertical plaster on her right leg. She looked very sexy, especially once she took her warm-up top off!

With a very late finish to the day-session, the match started at exactly 22:00 AEDT.


First set
---------
MIRZA _* *@* *___*_ 6(0)
WILLI * *___* *@* T 7(7)

Williams serving 0-0: Williams forehand long. 0/15. Williams came to the net, rushing Sania into ballooning a backhand pass wide. 15/15. Sania took the initiative with a deep return, but Williams got a lucky netcord-winner. 30/15. Sania played a great rally, her crosscourt forehand into the corner forcing Williams into error. 30/30. Sania netted a forehand return. 40/30. Williams forehand wide. 40/40. Sania forehand just long. Ad Williams. Sania sprayed a backhand long.

Not a convincing start by Williams. It's Sania who is dominating the rallies with winners or errors!

Sania serving 0-1: Sania backhand just long. 0/15. Williams backhand just long. 15/15. Service-winner out wide: just inside the sideline. 30/15. Williams forehand just long. 40/15. A deep return forced Sania to hit a backhand long. 40/30. Williams backhand long.

Sam Smith said Sania should be ranked much higher than she is: that she has top-ten groundstrokes but a weak serve that breaks down technically.

Sania is similar to Elena Dementieva, then. The differences - according to the commentators - are that Sania's serve is technically weak while Dementieva's serve is more of a mental problem, and Dementieva is a better mover. I would add that Sania's groundstrokes are much more flairsome than Dementieva's.

Williams serving 1-1: Williams came to the net, forcing Sania to net a backhand. 15/0. Williams forehand wide. 15/15. Williams drove Sania wide, forcing her to hit a forehand long. 30/15. Service-winner. 40/15. Service-winner.

Sania serving 1-2: Williams's forehand return down the line forced Sania to earth a backhand - leaning the wrong way. 0/15. Williams played a good spreading rally, forcing Sania to earth another backhand. 0/30. Service-winner. 15/30. Williams hit a backhand halfway up the net. 30/30. Williams backhand long. 40/30. Sania, stretched low & wide with Williams at the net, hit a wonderful crosscourt backhand pass-winner.

Williams serving 2-2: Second serve: Sania cracked a crosscourt forehand return-winner. 0/15. Sania should have hit a crosscourt forehand into the open court, but went down the line instead, came to the net and got passed (Sania clipped it with her racket). 15/15. Williams netted a forehand. 15/30. A good crosscourt forehand deep into the corner forced Williams to net a forehand. 15/40 (2 BPs). Sania played a fabulous spreading rally ending with a forehand volley-winner!

Chris Bailey: "You could see Mirza doing this tonight. If she has a good serving-day and can just peg Williams back, you could say she is better from the back of the court."

Sam Smith said Sania was a very instinctive player: basically striking the ball without thinking.

Sania serving 3-2: Williams forehand long. 15/0. Williams forehand long. 30/0. Serve out wide + forehand winner down the line. 40/0. Sania netted a backhand. 40/15. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner right in the corner.

Williams serving 2-4: Service-winner. 15/0. Williams off-backhand winner. 30/0. Body-jamming serve: Sania netted a backhand return. 40/0. Williams netted a forehand. 40/15. Virtual ace out wide: right in the corner.

Sania serving 4-3: Another lovely spreading rally from Sania with a forehand winner down Williams's forehand-line. 15/0. Acute crosscourt forehand + crosscourt backhand winner! 30/0. Double fault (second serve just long - elbow getting tucked up in her body). 30/15. Williams crosscourt forehand winner right in the corner. 30/30. A deep forehand from Sania forced Williams to hit a half-volley forehand from the baseline wide. 40/30. A wonderful deep forehand from Sania forced Williams into error.

Sarah Holt for BBC Sport: "Mirza is moving really well around the court, and that is probably where she is giving Venus most trouble."
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7197596.stm>

Williams serving 3-5: Service-winner. 15/0. Second serve: Sania forehand return-winner down Williams's forehand-line. 15/15. Sania sprayed a forehand very long, and muttered "rubbish". 30/15. Williams blasted a forehand just long. 30/30. Sania netted a backhand on the fourth stroke, after a huge serve from Williams. 40/30. Williams netted a backhand off a deep ball on the baseline from Sania. 40/40. Sania forehand wide (Sania wasted a challenge, even though it was well wide). Ad Williams. Sania's crosscourt forehand forced Williams to net a forehand. Deuce #2. Sania forehand wide, and yelled. Ad Williams. Sania forehand long.

Sam Smith: "All Venus is doing is giving her plenty of pace, and that's what she [Sania] loves."

Sania serving 5-4: Williams short-angled crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 0/15. Williams forced Sania to hit a forehand just wide. 0/30. Williams mishit a forehand into the net. 15/30. Williams backhand long off a netcord from Sania. 30/30. Williams off-backhand winner right in the corner, caught the outside edge of the sideline. 30/40 (BP). Sania blasted a crosscourt backhand would-be winner just wide.

Sania didn't do much wrong there - all credit to Williams.

Williams serving 5-5: Williams crosscourt forehand winner. 15/0. Sania forehand return just long. 30/0. Ace down the middle. 40/0. Ace out wide.

Sania serving 5-6: Sania netted a forehand. 0/15. Sania netted a forehand. 0/30. Williams netted a backhand. 15/30. A longish baseline-rally ended with Williams hitting a crosscourt forehand right in the corner - Sania's movement found wanting. 15/40 (SP #1). Serve + crosscourt forehand winner off a very short return. 30/40 (SP #2). Sania came to the net behind a forehand down the line, forcing Williams to hit a backhand wide. 40/40. Sania handled Williams's depth, but Williams didn't handle Sania's, hitting a forehand long. Ad Sania. Sania opened up the court with a beautiful crosscourt forehand, but netted a choky forehand down the open line, and screamed. Deuce #2. Serve + crosscourt backhand winner. Ad Sania. She forced a short ball, and this time made no mistake putting away an easy crosscourt forehand winner.

6-6 tiebreak: Williams *0/0. Sania dumped a forehand return into the net - didn't move into the court to meet the serve. Sania *0/1. Williams punished a weak second serve with a crosscourt forehand winner into the corner. Chris Bailey said Sania's serve was way too predictable. Sania *0/2. Sania backhand just long. Williams *3/0. Service-winner: Sania forehand return wide. Williams *4/0. First serve into the body: Sania forehand return long. Sania *0/5. Williams came to the net, forced a defensive lob from Sania, and dispatched it with a forehand smash-winner. Sania *0/6 (SP #3). Second serve: Williams forehand return-winner down the line, caught the outside edge of the line. Williams won the first set 7-6 (7/0) at 22:50 (50m).

Sam Smith said Sania played a good set, and would have won it against most top-ten players.


Second set
----------
MIRZA * * *___*_ 4
WILLI _* * *@* * 6

Sania serving 0-0: In a 19-stroke rally, Sania threw in a moonball, inducing Williams to hit a forehand just long. 15/0. Service-winner. 30/0. Sania gave Williams the angle to hit a crosscourt forehand winner - Sania is vulnerable to those short, aggressive angles. 30/15. Williams forehand wide. 40/15. Sania came to the net and hit a beautiful high off-forehand punch-volley winner.

Williams serving 0-1: Body-jamming service-winner. 15/0. Sania cracked a fabulous running crosscourt backhand pass-winner. 15/15. Sania went for a backhand but put it wide. 30/15. Service-winner. 40/15. Williams forehand just long. 40/30. Sania sprayed a wild forehand return very long, and shouted in frustration.

Sam Smith said Sania was an amazing ball-striker, but not consistent week in week out.

Sania serving 1-1: Double fault (second serve just wide). 0/15. Sania ran down a short return, but slapped a backhand into the net (her skirt hiked up to reveal her midriff, much to the wrath of the jihadists no doubt). 0/30. Williams netted a forehand. 15/30. Sania hit a forehand onto the baseline (and came to the net), forcing Williams to net a forehand. 30/30. Sania backhand just long. 30/40 (BP). Sania hit a sweet crosscourt forehand winner. 40/40. Sania played a lovely spreading rally: crosscourt forehand + off-forehand forced Williams into error. Ad Sania. Service-winner (Williams forehand return just wide).

I'm very impressed by Sania today. She's playing much better than when I last saw her play (Birmingham 2007), and even better than when she pushed Kuznetsova at Wimbledon 2005. Flairsome power, spreading rallies, sexy looks - a bit one-dimensional, but while I'm not asking myself the Eternal Fanship question right now, I'm seriously considering changing the order of my demi-fanship to give more weight to tennis-qualities over the girls I like primarily for their looks.

Williams serving 1-2: Ace. 15/0. Williams hit a forehand halfway up the net. 15/15. Sania forehand just long. 30/15. Williams hit a deep crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15. Sania forehand wide.

Sam Smith praised the length Sania's been keeping on her groundstrokes.

Sania serving 2-2: Williams backhand wide. 15/0. Sania played a fantastic spreading rally with a forehand volley-winner - who says she has no point-construction? 30/0. Service-winner. 40/0. Sania went for a forehand winner down the line, but put it just wide. She gave a little smile. 40/15. Sania came to the net, but Williams forced her to play a weak low volley, and hit a backhand pass-winner down the line. 40/30. Sania took the initiative with a deep crosscourt forehand onto the baseline, and hit a crosscourt forehand winner back behind Williams.

Chris Bailey said Williams might have an extra day off before her fourth-round match - then hastily added "or Mirza".

Williams serving 2-3: Williams crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/0. Sania netted a forehand. 30/0. Sania sprayed a forehand long. 40/0. Williams netted a forehand off Sania's deep return. 40/15. Sania netted a forehand.

Sania serving 3-3: Sania sprayed a backhand wide. 0/15. Williams's forehand hit the netcord and fell back on her side. 15/15. Sania hit a beautiful error-forcing crosscourt backhand. 30/15. Double fault #4. 30/30. Sania forehand just long - but she challenged and Hawkeye showed that it caught the outside edge of the baseline. Replay: Williams forehand just long, it was overruled as good but Sania challenged it and it was indeed in, so they had to replay the point again! Williams forehand winner down the line. 30/40 (BP). Williams forehand just long. 40/40. Williams punished a second serve with a deep crosscourt forehand, forcing Sania to earth a forehand. Ad Williams (BP #2). Sania netted a forehand on the third stroke.

Sania is serving to Williams's forehand predictably often.

Williams serving 4-3: Ace out wide: just inside the sideline. 15/0. Sania, driven wide, went for a backhand pass-winner down the line, but it was just wide. 30/0. Sania dumped a backhand into the net - the first real sign of a dip in her form. 40/0. Double fault #1 (second serve long). 40/15. Sania spread Williams, and her crosscourt backhand forced Williams to earth a backhand. 40/30. Sania netted a forehand return, and reacted with a cute little skip.

Williams is using a lot of body-serves today.

Sania serving 3-5: Sania forehand long. 0/15. Sania netted a forehand. 0/30. Williams netted a cheap backhand. 15/30. Williams, driven wide by Sania's crosscourt forehand, netted a forehand. 30/30. Sania's deep crosscourt forehand forced Williams to net a forehand. 40/30. Ace out wide: Williams used up a Hawkeye-challenge to show that it caught the outside edge of the sideline.

Williams serving 5-4: Ace out wide. 15/0. Ace down the middle. 30/0. First serve out wide: Sania netted a forehand return. 40/0. Sania netted a cheap forehand. Williams won 7-6 (7/0) 6-4 at 23:31.

Chris Bailey said it was Williams's best performance so far this tournament, so Sania should be proud of the scoreline she achieved. Just a bit of a dip at the end.


4.1 Articles
------------

Venus battles past gutsy Mirza to reach last 16 (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (Editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Eighth seed Venus Williams survived her toughest test at the Australian Open to beat Indian Sania Mirza 7-6 6-4 and reach the fourth round on Saturday.

Mirza produced a superb performance, but American Williams eventually wore her down to reach the last 16, and will next meet Li,Na of China or Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska.

India Mirza, seeded 31st, made an excellent start by snatching an early break, but the Wimbledon-champion broke back and played a flawless tiebreak, winning it 7/0.

Games went with serve in the second set until 3-3 when Williams broke, and she took her ace-count to seven while serving out for victory.
<<<

Venus Williams Australia Open survives slugfest with Mirza
by Neil Sands (AFP)
>>>
American eighth seed Venus Williams bludgeoned her way to victory in a slugfest with India's Sania Mirza to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday.

Williams went behind in the first set, but blasted her way back for a 7-6 (7/0) 6-4 win over the 31st seed.

The Wimbledon-champion said before the match that she expected an aggressive display from Mirza, and the Indian delivered, looking like she was trying to belt the fuzz off every ball that came her way.

"She was definitely trying to dictate terms, so I just stuck with playing my game and didn't change it," Williams said.

But Williams said she always felt in control, even though Mirza went for broke and forced her onto the back foot early.

"I felt comfortable throughout the whole match," she said.

"I think ultimately I had a little more than her, and it helped me in the end. I'm definitely serving very well."

Mirza worked hard to attack Williams, and was rewarded with a break in the fifth game, when she went to the net and left Williams stranded at the baseline with a tightly-angled forehand return.

The 21-year-old held serve in the next two games to put the pressure on Williams at 5-3, coming within two points of taking the set, but the six-time Grand Slam champion held on.

Staring down the barrel, Williams lifted her intensity to break back, then blasted two aces in the next game to go up 6-5.

Mirza saved two set-points to take Williams to a tiebreak, but the American proved two strong, holding her opponent scoreless to take the set after 50 minutes.

But Williams still struggled to seize the momentum, and the second set went to serve as the pair tried to pound each other into submission with their power-hitting.

The 27-year-old veteran finally pulled clear when she broke Mirza to go up 4-3, going on to serve out the set and claim victory with two aces in the final game.

Overall, Williams was happy with her game heading into the final week of the tournament: the only Grand Slam to elude her.

She was unconcerned about the possibility of playing Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanović in the quarter-finals, whom she defeated at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, but who has been one of the form-players at Melbourne Park.

"I'm ready," she said when asked about meeting the world number three again.

Williams must beat either Chinese 24th seed Li,Na or Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska to make the quarters.

Williams reached the Australian Open final in 2003 and the semis in 2001.

She pulled out with a wrist-injury last year, was sent packing in the first round in 2006, and failed to get beyond the fourth round in 2004 and 2005.
<<<

Beaten Mirza tells it straight (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (Editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
When her every action is scrutinised in a country of more than one billion people, India's Sania Mirza might be expected to choose her words carefully.

But after her narrow 7-6 6-4 defeat by Venus Williams in the Australian Open third round on Saturday, Mirza left the gathered reporters in no doubt as to how she was feeling.

"I'm a little disappointed, and tomorrow morning I'm going to wake up and feel even more like c*** about it," Mirza told reporters.

"I felt like I had the first set and should have closed it out at 5-4. But I take a lot of positives out of it. She's supposed to be one of the biggest hitters of the game, and I was out-hitting her. That's a very good thing for me."

After breaking Williams, Mirza served for the first set at 5-4, but the Wimbledon-champion hit back immediately and blasted through the tiebreak.

One break was enough to give eighth seed Williams the second set and a place in the last 16.

Mirza had matched the American from the baseline, but the former world number one had the distinct edge in the serve-department.

"I think we always knew she's one of the best servers in the game and I'm really not," Mirza said.

"I'm very critical about my game. I think I'm one of the worst servers in the game. If you want me to put it very, you know, matter-of-factly.

"I think I was still able to hold my own. I was able to hold my serve. Yes, of course she came up with the aces when she needed today, and I couldn't."
<<<

--------------------
5. Fourth-round draw
--------------------

* Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (jia you Su-Wei!)
* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v Casey Dell'Acqua
* NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7] (POJĎME NICOLE!!)

* (3r: Marta Domachowska [Q] v LI,NA [24]) v VENUS WILLIAMS [8]
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v (3r: Sabine Lisicki [Q] v Caroline Wozniacki)
* (3r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual) v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
* (3r: NADIA PETROVA [14] v Ekaterina Makarova) v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]


Serena to face stern challenge from Vaidišová (Reuters)
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Pritha Sarkar
>>>
Champion Serena Williams will face her toughest challenge so far at this year's Australian Open when she faces Nicole Vaidišová in the fourth round on Sunday.

The pair met in last year's semi-finals at Melbourne Park, with Williams securing a hard-fought victory before she went on to thrash Maria Sharapova in the final.

"Vaidišová has a really big serve. She uses that to her advantage," Williams told reporters when asked about the 12th seed's game.

Last year's beaten finalist Sharapova will also be in action in an all-Russian affair against 11th seed Elena Dementieva, while world number one Justine Henin continues her bid for a second Australian Open title with her match against Taiwanese qualifier Hsieh,Su-wei.
<<<

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1987
>>>
(12) Nicole Vaidišová (CZE) vs. (7) Serena Williams (USA) - Williams leads 3:0

Sunday's first fourth-round match on Rod Laver will see a repeat of one of last year's semi-finals, as reigning champion Williams takes on talented teenager Vaidišová.

12 months ago, it was Williams who came out on top in a tight two-set contest, and the powerful American emerged victorious from the pair's other two meetings in 2007: on the hardcourts of Miami and Moscow.

After cruising through her opening two matches, the eight-time Major-winner was forced to extend herself slightly more on Friday, during a 6-3 6-4 win over No.26 seed Victoria Azarenka.

Vaidišová conquered her third-round foe, Ai Sugiyama, by the same scoreline, and although she will start the fourth-round encounter as clear underdog, she has already defeated one top-10 player this year - Janković in Sydney - and will believe she can repeat the feat against Williams.


(11) Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs. (5) Maria Sharapova (RUS) - Sharapova leads 7:2

Sunday's penultimate match on the Vodaphone Arena between Elena Dementieva and Sharapova pits two of the tournament's form-players against one another.

After struggling with injuries and form in 2007, Sharapova has made a magnificent start to her first event of the season, brushing aside Jelena Kostanić Tošić, Lindsay Davenport and Elena Vesnina with consummate ease.

Eager not to be outdone, Dementieva produced arguably the performance of the week to thrash Shahar Pe'er 6-2 6-0 on Friday, and if the pair can reproduce this sort of form once more, then the Melbourne crowd are in for a treat.

Although Sharapova has won seven of their nine career-meetings, the record is 2:2 on outdoor hardcourts, and Dementieva certainly has the class to spring a surprise in this all-Russian affair.
<<<

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes
------------------
6.1 Quarter-final wishes
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S]
+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Ekaterina Makarova


6.2 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]


6.3 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF]

-----------------
7. Girls' Singles
-----------------
7.1 First-round draw
--------------------

* Romana Tabaková v ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1] (poďme Romana!)
* JADE CURTIS [13] v Olivia Rogowska (go Jade!)
* Jessica Moore v Claudia Giovine (go Jessica!)
* KSENIA LYKINA [2] v Karis Ryan (davai Ksenia!)

The junior-game has moved on since Wimbledon 2007. I barely recognise a quarter of the names in the draw! Maybe I'll look back in five years and realise that it is full of future stars, but for now, my interest in the juniors has definitely thinned out. It doesn't seem as East-European as it did a couple of years ago.

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

---------------------------
8. Order of Play for Sunday
---------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: DAVID NALBANDIAN [10] v JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22]
MS 4r: RICHARD GASQUET [8] v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
WS 4r: NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
WS 4r: JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v Casey Dell'Acqua
MS 4r: PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU [23] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]

This is the downside of Mauresmo having lost to an Australian: I'm sure Nicole v Williams would have been on the evening-session - and hence televised on BBCi - otherwise. There's still a tiny chance it could be on BBCi, if both the prior matches go to five sets and Nicole's still playing at 08:25 GMT! BBCi showed the end of Federer v Tipsarević under those conditions today.

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MS 3r: Vincent Spadea v DAVID FERRER [5]
WS 4r: Hsieh,Su-Wei [s] v JUSTINE HENIN [1]
WS 4r: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11]
MS 4r: MIKHAIL YOUZHNY [14] v NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO [4]

Show-Court 2 (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
WS 3r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v Virginia Ruano Pascual
MD 2r: Carsten Ball/Adam Feeney v (LEOŠ FRIEDL/DAVID ŠKOCH)[16]
WD 2r: Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v Gabriela Navrátilová/Klára Zakopalová
XD 1r: Jessica Moore/Greg Jones v Rennae Stubbs/Todd Perry
XD 1r: (KVETA PESCHKE/MARTIN DAMM)[7] v Isabella Holland/Brydan Klein

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

andrewbroad
Jan 20th, 2008, 11:06 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Third-round results
3. Fourth-round results
4. Third round: Hantuchová v Ruano Pascual review
5. Fourth round: Vaidišová v Williams review
6. Fourth round: Sharapova v Dementieva review
7. Fourth round: Janković v Dell'Acqua TV-report
8. Fourth-round draw: Bottom half
9. Quarter-final draw: Top half
10. Article about Selesians
11. Andrew's wishes
12. Women's Doubles
13. Girls' Singles
14. Order of Play for Monday

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1. Photos
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Daniela Hantuchová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Maria Sharapova:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/403/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Nicole Vaidišová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/966/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=vaidisova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311911.html

Marta Domachowska:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/613/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=domachowska

Agnieszka Radwańska and her much sexier sister (off-court):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/3928/photos

Hsieh,Su-Wei:
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hsieh

Sabine Lisicki:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/3940/photos

Caroline Wozniacki:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1436/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=wozniacki

Search Getty Images for:
hantuchova
sharapova
vaidisova
domachowska
radwanska
hsieh
wozniacki or lisicki

Various players including Daniela Hantuchová, Maria Sharapova and Nicole Vaidišová:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7198528.stm

Various players including Maria Sharapova, Daniela Hantuchová, Ana Ivanović, Marta Domachowska, Caroline Wozniacki and Urszula Radwańska:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

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2. Third-round results (Sunday 20th January)
----------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Virginia Ruano Pascual, 6-2 6-3
+ Caroline Wozniacki d. Sabine Lisicki [Q], 4-6 6-4 6-3

Sabine led 6-4 4-2.

Other nice winner:
+ Marta Domachowska [Q] d. LI,NA [24], 2-6 6-2 6-4

What a fightback! Marta won her previous rounds in qualifying and the main draw by amazing scorelines, and now is rewarded with her first-ever Grand Slam fourth round.

-----------------------
3. Fourth-round results (Sunday 20th January)
-----------------------

What rocked:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11], 6-2 6-0
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. Casey Dell'Acqua, 7-6 (7/3) 6-1

What sucked:
- NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] lt. SERENA WILLIAMS [7], 3-6 4-6
- Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S] lt. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 2-6 2-6

-------------------------------------------------
4. Third round: Hantuchová v Ruano Pascual review
-------------------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. Virginia Ruano Pascual, 6-2 6-3

A very satisfactory result, as Daniela moves into her 6th fourth round in the 9 Grand Slams since the start of 2006, with her best chance of reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final since the Australian Open 2003.

In the first set, games went with serve until Daniela broke for *4-2; in fact she won the last four games of the set to take it 6-2.

Daniela was broken in the first game of the second set, but broke back immediately, and again for *3-1. The rest of the match went with serve, thus Daniela won 6-3.

Daniela had a spectacular W:UE ratio of 33:27, while Ruano Pascual's was a woeful 5:14 - it seems obvious from this that Daniela was able to dominate the match with her flairsome power and spreading rallies. She also came to the net quite a bit, winning 10 of 14 points there.

Daniela's serves were much faster than Ruano Pascual's; she won 73% of the points on her own serve (including an amazing 80% on second serve), and 47% on Ruano Pascual's - eating up first /and/ second serves. Daniela broke 4 times from 8 break-points, while Ruano Pascual could only manage one break from 3 BPs.


4.1 Articles
------------

Hantuchová breezes into last 16 [CEEFAX 493]
>>>
Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová made short work of her rain-delayed third-round match against Virginia Ruano Pascual at the Australian Open.

The Slovakian saw off her Spanish opponent 6-2 6-3 to set up a last-16 clash with Russia's Maria Kirilenko.

Nadia Petrova, seeded 14, had to work a bit harder to see off fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 7-6 (10/8).

And Poland's Marta Domachowska surprised 24th seed Li,Na of China 2-6 6-2 6-4.
<<<

Domachowska shocks Li [Teletext 497]
>>>
Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a battling win over 24th seed Li,Na.

The Chinese star took the first set, but 22-year-old Domachowska hit back to claim a 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory.

Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová and Nadia Petrova, seeded 14th, also won delayed third-round matches along with Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki.
<<<

Hantuchová on track for finals
By Adele Holland <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová breezed through to the fourth round today, winning her third-round match against Virginia Ruano Pascual in straight sets.

Despite hitting 27 unforced errors, Hantuchová dominated the match, winning in just over an hour.

Spain's Ruano Pascual, fought for her serve early in the match, Hantuchová getting an early break in the first set despite Ruano Pascual's aggressive play.

Hantuchová didn't seem worried though: despite a slight lack of concentration, her return was strong, and she took out the first set easily: 6-2.

Ruano Pascual took advantage of Hantuchová's unforced errors in the second set, breaking the Slovakian in the first game.

Hantuchová came back with a vengeance though, breaking back immediately to even out the score.

Ruano Pascual had difficulty pulling off important shots, and struggled at the net, while Hantuchová hit 33 winners.

Looking like she wanted to get the match over and done with, Hantuchová really made her mark late in the second set, and showed the crowd why she is the No.9 seed. She looked relaxed as she took the final set 6-3.
<<<

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

This sets up a mouthwatering fourth-round clash with Maria Kirilenko, even though I would have preferred it to be Anna Chakvetadze who came through.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF]:
1r + Vania King, 6-3 7-5
2r + Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5
3r + Virginia Ruano Pascual, 6-2 6-3

MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]:
1r + Meilen Tu, 6-4 4-6 6-3
2r + Akiko Morigami [s], 6-1 6-1
3r + ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF], 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-2

Maria seems to be a confidence-player: when she's confident, she plays dynamic all-court tennis and can beat lots of players (she's won two WTA singles-titles: Beijing 2005 and Kolkata 2007). When she's not confident, she hangs back, doesn't transfer her weight forwards into the ball, and can't beat anybody.

Maria spent the first half of 2007 in a slump, with a 6-match losing-streak from March to May, but played very well in front of me to reach the third round of Birmingham and really push Jelena Janković as hard as Big Maria did in the final. She did well in the US Open Series, won 9 matches in a row at Kolkata (won) and Seoul (r/u to Venus Williams), but then her form suddenly evaporated and she lost 5 matches in a row.

But Maria won $75k ITF Dubai in December, and won her first two matches at Auckland, where Tamira Paszek inflicted a 6-1 6-3 hurting in the quarter-finals. With her lopsided thrashing of Akiko Morigami in the second round, and her upset of Anna Chakvetadze in the third round, Maria comes into her first-ever Grand Slam fourth round quite possibly in the form of her life.

Daniela leads Maria 3:1 head to head (just as Anna did going into their third round). But all those matches have had either a third set and/or a tiebreak, and Maria won the last one: 4-6 6-2 6-1 at Kolkata 2007 en route to the title.

I would put Daniela as a slight favourite going into this match, because at this stage of her career she has become much more consistent and mentally strong than when she was Maria's age (21 next Friday), while Maria is more fragile as she relies heavily on confidence, and based on what I saw at Birmingham 2007, I can imagine her struggling to impose the net-game she'd like to use on Daniela, let alone managing to live with her from the baseline.

Anna Chakvetadze isn't on good form right now, whereas Daniela's third-round statistics are very impressive.

--------------------------------------------
5. Fourth round: Vaidišová v Williams review
--------------------------------------------

- NICOLE VAIDIŠOVÁ [12,EF] lt. SERENA WILLIAMS [7], 3-6 4-6

With Williams serving first, the first set went with serve until *3-4, and Nicole was playing slightly better, squandering break-points at 1-1* and 2-2*, but it was the defending champion who scored the only break of the first set to lead *5-3.

The second set went with serve till *2-2, then Nicole threw in a sloppy service-game to get broken to love for 2-3*. She broke back for *4-4, only to hand Williams another break for 4-5* on a double fault; Nicole threw her racket, and Williams served out to love.

Nicole's W:UE ratio was a negative 19:25, while Williams's was 23:11. Williams got only 48% of first serves in, winning 50% of her second-serve points, while Nicole got 66% of first serves in but won only 32% of her second-serve points.

They had 4 break-points each, but Williams converted 3 while Nicole only converted one.

For failing to defend her Australian Open 2007 semi-final, Nicole is set to drop further down the rankings from her current #12, having been as high as #7 last year. It's so unfair that she drew Williams in the fourth round, because Nicole was definitely playing top-ten if not top-five tennis this tournament, judging by her statistics from earlier rounds. I wish her a much healthier season this year.

BBC Sport's game-by-game description is here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7198586.stm


5.1 Articles
------------

Serena gets past Vaidišová test [CEEFAX 490->493]
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams won a big-hitting encounter against 12th seed Nicole Vaidišová to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The American saved two break-points in the first set, and withstood a Vaidišová fightback in the second to win 6-3 6-4.

"I feel like my serve propels my game and I'm returning well," said Williams after hitting nine aces. "It helps my confidence even more."

Williams will meet Jelena Janković or Casey Dell'Acqua next.
<<<

Serena too hot for Czech [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Williams eases past teen [Teletext 497]

Defending champion Serena Williams shrugged off the challenge of Nicole Vaidišová to reach the quarter-finals.

Czech teenager Vaidišová, who lost to Williams in the semi-finals last year, looked a tough opponent, but the seventh seed simply had too much power and ran out a comfortable 6-3 6-4 winner.

Williams said: "I feel like my serve is propelling my game right now; it definitely helps my confidence."
<<<

Serena sails into final eight
By Bren O'Brien <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams has moved into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open 2008 with a 6-2 6-4 win over Czech Nicole Vaidišová.

Williams dominated the match, playing some brilliant tennis, and not letting Vaidišová - whom she defeated in last year's semi-final - into the match. She wrapped up the win 73 minutes, and now plays either Casey Dell'Acqua or Jelena Janković.

Both women were very strong on their serve early in the match, and very few opportunities for breaks arose in the first set. Vaidišová created two and couldn't capitalise, while Williams took her only chance and the first set in 31 minutes.

Williams found much more joy on the young Czech's serve in the second set, and got the early break to set sail for victory. But Vaidišová was not reading from that script, breaking back in the eighth game to stay in the contest. However, she coughed up another break in the very next game, and Williams then held to win the match.

The win maintains Williams' charge for a fourth title in Melbourne, but with Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova among the other players on her side of the draw, it won't be an easy task.
<<<

Top women come through at Australian Open (AP)
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams, who went through periods of inconsistency in her first three matches, was sharper and more consistent in a 6-4 6-4 win over No. 12 Nicole Vaidišová.

Williams faltered only while serving up a break at 4-3, with Vaidišová breaking to even the set. But Williams broke right back. Vaidišová smashed her racket in anger, then netted a forehand on match-point as Williams held at love to finish off the match.
<<<

Serena sees off stubborn Vaidišová (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Champion Serena Williams applied the pressure when she need to, and withstood a tough fourth-round challenge from Nicole Vaidišová on Sunday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The American seventh seed won the match 6-3 6-4 after being forced to dig deep in the second set when her 12th-seeded Czech opponent attempted to force a decider.

However, just as the rangy Vaidišová looked to capitalise on a second-set break of serve, the American broke immediately back to go ahead 5-4, with the opportunity to serve for the match.

The 18-year-old Vaidišová, who smashed her racket on the court at the end of that game, was seen talking to herself constantly during the changeovers.

Williams then capitalised on the teenager's frustration, and served to love to seal victory.

"I think I had my chances, especially in the second set," Vaidišová told reporters. "Didn't choose the right shot, maybe went for too much. She pushes you to do that.

"That was the difference. [In] the points that were very important, she went out there and played a great point."

Williams, who beat Vaidišová in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park last year, said she believed her opponent had a big future.

"It's definitely interesting playing her," said Williams.

"She's so unpredictable. I think that's really a good thing.

"Last couple of times I played her, her serve has just been really, really, really good."

Williams will face either third-seeded Serbian Jelena Janković or Australia's Casey Dell'Acqua in the last eight.

"At the end of the day, I never really get upset at whoever I play, because I'm totally fine.

"As long as I'm not playing Venus in the quarters, it doesn't matter to me.

"Eventually you're going to have to play everyone else."
<<<

Williams cruises into quarter-finals (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Serena Williams may be the only person who is not impressed with the way she is playing at the Australian Open.

The seventh-seeded Williams made short work of Nicole Vaidišová, eliminating the 12th-seeded Czech 6-3 6-4 in a fourth-round match at the $20.6 million Grand Slam on Sunday.

The defending champion Williams has not lost a set here, though she is not completely satisfied with her game.

"I felt like I didn't have a lot of rhythm out there. I felt like lazy, like I wasn't moving the way I wanted to," Williams said. "I just want to move better and just make a few less errors like I did. I think my second round, I didn't make that many unforced errors, so I want to do that again."

The 26-year-old Williams improved to 4:0 lifetime against Vaidišová, who reached the semi-finals here a year ago.

"It's definitely interesting playing her," Williams said. "She's so unpredictable. I think that's really a good thing. Last couple of times I played her, her serve has just been really, really, really good. She's just, you know, really a bright future."
<<<

Sharapova and Henin set up dynamite clash (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serena Williams posted a solid 6-3 6-4 win over Czech Nicole Vaidišová, and next plays Janković.

"I felt like I didn't have a lot of rhythm out there. I felt like lazy, like I wasn't moving the way I wanted to. But overall, I think it boiled down to serves and returns," was the champion's no-nonsense analysis.
<<<

Rafael Nadal advances to quarter-finals of Australian Open when Mathieu retires with injury
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams, who went through periods of inconsistency in her first three matches, was sharper and more consistent in a 6-3 6-4 win over No. 12 Nicole Vaidišová.

Williams faltered only while serving up a break at 4-3, with Vaidišová breaking to even the set. But Williams broke right back. Vaidišová smashed her racket in anger, then netted a forehand on match-point as Williams held at love to finish off the match.

To go along with nine aces, Williams had 23 winners and only 11 unforced errors as she seems to be improving in every match.
<<<

'Lazy' Serena gathers steam heading into Open quarters
by Neil Sands (AFP)
>>>
Defending champion Serena Williams revived memories of last year's stunning Australian Open win on Sunday when she overpowered Czech 12th seed Nicole Vaidišová to reach the quarter-finals.

Yet the eight-time Grand Slam champion still chided herself for laziness after a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 win over an opponent she downed in the semi-finals last year on her way to lifting the trophy.

"I felt like I didn't have a lot of rhythm out there," Williams said.

"I felt like lazy, like I wasn't moving the way I wanted to."

Despite the American's misgivings, she looks fitter and stronger than last year as she heads into a quarter-final against third seed Jelena Janković of Serbia.

Just like last year, Williams has recovered from a shaky opening round to build momentum at Melbourne Park.

She said her game was again coming together, producing nine aces against Vaidišová.

"I feel like my serve propels my game, and I'm returning well," she said.

"It helps my confidence even more," she said, adding that she felt her movement could improve and she wanted to reduce her error-rate.

But Vaidišová committed 25 unforced errors, more than doubling Williams' tally, admitting her opponent's on-court dominance unsettled her.

"I had my chances - especially in the second set - but didn't choose the right shot, maybe went for too much," the 18-year-old said.

"She pushes you to do that. That was the difference."

Vaidišová believed Williams had a great chance of making it through a tough half of the draw that includes world number one and top seed Justine Henin, and fifth seed Maria Sharapova.

"She seems in good shape, playing well; she always has great chances; she's a great player," the lanky Czech said.

The match began tightly, with neither player conceding a point on their first service-game.

Vaidišová had two opportunities to break her opponent in the first set, but could not convert them, while Williams took all of her chances to pocket the first set 6-3.

She then edged ahead a break in the fifth game of the second set, before Vaidišová finally found her radar and broke back.

But Williams regained the advantage in the next game, leaving Vaidišová looking at her coaching-team and shrugging as the errors returned to her game and she struggled to match the American's power.

Williams fired down an ace to reach match-point before Vaidišová netted another return to seal the win after one hour, 13 minutes.
<<<

----------------------------------------------
6. Fourth round: Sharapova v Dementieva review
----------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11], 6-2 6-0

Wow - when I read about Dementieva's improved serve, I was expecting at least something along the lines of 6-3 6-4, and was even bracing myself for the possibility of a loss! But Maria has been absolutely on fire and ruthless from the second round to the fourth.

Maria had a positive W:UE ratio of 18:11, while Dementieva's was a woeful 10:20. Dementieva got 81% of first serves in, but she won an abysmal 37% of points on her first serve, and 0% on second serve!! (corresponding statistics for Maria: 56% 67% and 62%). Maria served much faster (up to 116mph) than Dementieva.

Maria was ruthlessly efficient at converting break-points: 6 of 7, while Dementieva - usually a prolific breaker of serve - could only manage one break from 5 BPs.

Maria won 9 of 13 points at the net, which is very significant in such a short match. In total points won, she beat Dementieva 57-28. Dementieva's most impressive statistic was that she detained Maria for all of 62 minutes, which is quite long for 6-2 6-0.


6.1 Articles
------------

Henin through to face Sharapova [CEEFAX 490->493]
>>>
Top seed Justine Henin will face Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open after the pair won fourth-round matches on Sunday.

Henin had been below par in her earlier matches, but had no trouble with Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei, beating the world number 158: 6-2 6-2.

And Sharapova kept up her excellent form with a crushing 6-2 6-0 defeat of fellow Russian Elena Dementieva.

Defending champion Serena Williams later beat Nicole Vaidišová 6-3 6-4.
<<<

Sharapova slips through in style
By James Ranson <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Elena Dementieva has been humbled by fellow Russian and No.5 seed Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-0 in just 62 minutes on Vodafone Arena.

The tall Russian was in devastating touch, and took care of the tournament's 11th seed with 18 winners in the process.

Dementieva was disappointing, barely raising a whimper as she won just 28 points to Sharapova's 57 for the match.

It was Sharapova's best performance so far, and will surely give her great confidence to know she has yet to drop a set for the tournament.

In fact, no player has taken more than four games off her in any of the eight sets she has played.

The 2007 Australian Open runner-up now faces a far greater test, paired against No.1 seed Justine Henin in the quarter-finals.
<<<

Brilliant Sharapova sets up Henin clash (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Fifth seed Maria Sharapova crushed fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-2 6-0 on Sunday to line up an Australian Open quarter-final against top seed Justine Henin.

The 20-year-old, runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, overpowered 11th-seeded Dementieva, breaking serve six times on her way to victory in 62 minutes.

"I have always had really tough encounters against her, and I wanted to make sure I kept my focus all the way through," Sharapova said in a courtside interview.

Sharapova was in scintillating form and gave Dementieva no chance to settle, easing through the first set in 32 minutes.

The former world number one was even better in the second set, rushing through it and crunching a huge forehand return to reach the last eight for the fourth successive year.

"I am really looking forward to my next match against Justine," she said.

"We had a really tough one in Madrid at the end of the year, that she just pulled through. She's a great player."
<<<

Sharapova and Henin set up dynamite clash (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova set up an explosive Australian Open quarter-final with crushing wins on Sunday.

World number one Henin breezed past Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei 6-2 6-2 to book her place in the last eight, before announcing that she must start from scratch.

"Now it's like another tournament is going to start. It's gonna be another level," the 25-year-old told reporters.

"There are things I'll have to improve, and really raise my level in the next matches."

SPARKLING SHARAPOVA

Sharapova sparkled on the Vodafone Arena, pummelling 11th-seeded fellow Russian Elena Dementieva for the loss of just two games.

"I did a good job of just being solid," the 20-year-old told reporters. "I was seeing the ball well today.

"Quarter-final of a Grand Slam is not going to be easy, especially when you're playing against someone that's number one in the world."
<<<

Rafael Nadal advances to quarter-finals of Australian Open when Mathieu retires with injury
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
The top women also raced through the fourth round earlier Sunday, with top-ranked Justine Henin and 2006 finalist Maria Sharapova setting up a quarter-final showdown.

Henin beat Hsieh Su-wei - the first Taiwanese player through to the fourth round of a Grand Slam event - 6-2 6-2 in 74 minutes to extend her winning-streak to 32 matches.

Sharapova routed No. 11 Elena Dementieva 6-2 6-0 in 62 minutes.

"I always know [that] to beat her, I have to be at my best," Henin said of Sharapova. "She's a real fighter."

The fifth-ranked Sharapova was expected to have a tough time against Dementieva, but broke her fellow Russian's serve six of seven times, including at love to finish off.

"I have always had really tough games against her, and I wanted to make sure I kept my focus all the way through," Sharapova said.
<<<

Henin, Sharapova win to set up quarter-final match up; Nadal also advances at Aussie Open
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Now for the hard part.

Justine Henin will put her 32-match winning streak on the line against Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open quarter-finals: their first meeting since the season-ending championship final in Madrid.

Top-ranked Henin continued her stretch of straight-sets wins over unseeded players with a 6-2 6-2 rout of Taiwan's Hsieh,Su-wei in the fourth round on Sunday, when two-set victories dominated after an extra-long Day 6.

Fifth-seeded Sharapova pounded fellow Russian Elena Dementieva 6-2 6-0, breaking the No. 11-ranked player in six of her seven service-games, including one at love to finish off the match in 62 minutes.

"I have always had really tough games against her," Sharapova said, "and I wanted to make sure I kept my focus all the way through."

That was a good warmup for the next stage, she said.

"Justine's the one to beat," Sharapova said. "She's on a pretty good winning-streak, but every match is new.

"The one in Madrid was tough, but physically she got me in the end - she was tougher than I was in the end. But I had many chances and I was very close to winning."
<<<

------------------------------------------------
7. Fourth round: Janković v Dell'Acqua TV-report
------------------------------------------------

+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. Casey Dell'Acqua, 7-6 (7/3) 6-1

This was the women's match on BBCi today, and it was a lot more entertaining than I expected.

Dell'Acqua has been a revelation to me this tournament. She hit some spectacular groundstroke-winners in this match, particularly when she fought back from 2-5* to *5-5 in the first set. But she was erratic and/or defensive when she had to do any kind of running for her shots.

Janković is a solid counterpuncher by nature, although she does have the ability to inject pace, which has got her as high as #3 in the world. But today she was content to wait for Dell'Acqua to make mistakes, like a chess-player that protects all its pieces without making any attacking moves. She's going to get slaughtered by Serena Williams in the quarter-finals.

Janković doesn't have a pretty face, but she has a great body and legs in particular.

Dell'Acqua may be fat, and may look like a minger in her www.wtatour.com (http://www.wtatour.com) profile, but she does have a Kirilenko-esque sultry facial expression that grows on me. Apparently she's in much better shape than she used to be, so I'm not going to go looking for old photos of her! ;-)

There was an interesting incident in the very first game, when a Janković-backhand on the baseline was called out by some idiot-spectator; Dell'Acqua stopped playing, and the rules say that Janković won the point - the call was not made by an official, and there are no concessions for any noises from the crowd. But Janković sportingly asked for the point to be replayed, which it was.

---------------------------------
8. Fourth-round draw: Bottom half
---------------------------------

* Marta Domachowska [Q] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (dawaj Marta!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v Caroline Wozniacki (my loyalty is to Ana)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF] (mouthwatering match; my loyalty is to Daniela)
* NADIA PETROVA [14] v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]

(Hantuchová v Kirilenko preview is in Section 4.2)

-------------------------------
9. Quarter-final draw: Top half
-------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]


9.1 Sharapova v Henin preview
-----------------------------

MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]:
1r + Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3
2r + Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3
3r + Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0
4r + ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11], 6-2 6-0

JUSTINE HENIN [1]:
1r + Aiko Nakamura [s], 6-2 6-2
2r + Olga Poutchkova, 6-1 7-5
3r + FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [25], 7-5 6-4
4r + Hsieh,Su-Wei [Q,S], 6-2 6-2

Justine Henin appears with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season. She messes up all her opponents with spins, outmanoeuvring them from the baseline and coming to the net.

Since losing to Selesian player Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, Henin has compiled a 32-match winning-streak, including her seventh Grand Slam title at the US Open, and last week's Sydney title (albeit with a double bye due to Lucie Šafářová's walkover).

Henin leads Maria 6:2 head to head. Maria beat her 6-1 6-7 (6/8) 6-2 at Miami 2005, which was the first tournament of Henin's comeback following a long illness, and also beat her 6-4 6-4 in the US Open 2006 final, when Henin was tired (not to take anything away from Maria's brilliant performance that day).

Henin's winning-streak has to end some time, and Maria might have as good a chance as anyone as she stretched Henin to a 3h24m marathon (5-7 7-5 6-3) in the final of the Sony Ericsson Championships.

That's what I wrote before the tournament began, and Maria's chances have improved due to her brilliant form and some indifferent performances by Henin in the first three rounds (fourth round was much improved). However, that won't mean much come Tuesday, as Henin always seems to rise to the level necessary, and has the kind of game to make anyone have a bad day at the office.

I expect a close three-set match, but Henin is probably the one player who is mentally stronger than Maria - Henin has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat many times in her career, and keeps the coolest head on the big points.

If Maria's going to beat Henin, her best chance is to come out firing and not let Henin into the match at all. Feed the dwarf a bagel, and if she doesn't retire with tummy-ache, finish her off with another one.

Sam Smith (BBC-commentator): "I think Sharapova's a lot closer to Henin than a lot of people think at this stage of her career."


Henin will do battle with Sharapova [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Henin to face Sharapova [Teletext 497]

Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova will do battle in a mouthwatering quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Fifth seed Sharapova, the runner-up last year, looked to have a tough test against fellow Russian Elena Dementieva, but she continued her sensational form by racing to a 6-2 6-0 win.

Top seed Henin was a comfortable 6-2 6-2 winner over Su-Wei Hsieh, but she will need to serve much better.


Henin expecting battle [Teletext 497]

Justine Henin is preparing for an epic battle when she meets Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals in Melbourne.

Top seed Henin and Sharapova, seeded fifth, both breezed through their fourth-round matches to set up the most eagerly-awaited tie of the tournament.

Henin said: "She's a real fighter. She never gives up. She's a champion. So I know that against her, I will have to be 100% all the time."


Maria hopes for revenge [Teletext 497]

Maria Sharapova is hoping to gain revenge on Justine Henin when they meet in a mouthwatering quarter-final.

World No 1 Henin rounded off a stellar 2007 with victory over Russian Sharapova in a three-set classic in the WTA Tour Championship final in Madrid.

Sharapova said: "Physically she got me in the end. She was fresher than I was. But I was very close to winning that match. And this one's a new one."
<<<

Sharapova to go for broke against Henin (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Russian Maria Sharapova is not going to die wondering when she plays world number one Justine Henin in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The former Wimbledon and US Open champion breezed into the last eight with a 6-2 6-0 drubbing of fellow Russian Elena Dementieva on Sunday.

"If I have the chances, I don't want to wait to take them," the fifth seed told reporters.

"If I have the opportunity to get a good hit on the ball and come in, I'm hopefully going to take that. If I don't, I'm doing something wrong."

Sharapova, runner-up to Serena Williams at Melbourne Park last year, beat former world number one Lindsay Davenport in the second round, but knows Henin will be another step up.

"All the previous matches were just little hurdles, and this is another hurdle that I have to get through," she said.

"It's a tougher one, of course. But a quarter-final of a Grand Slam is not going to be easy, especially when you're playing against someone that's number one in the world.

"Currently, she's the one to beat. She's on a pretty good winning-streak. She's just very steady and very consistent, and she'll do whatever it takes to win the point.

"No matter how long the point is, no matter how many times you run her side to side, she's willing to be out there all day and be the one that challenges you to make the errors."

Henin has won six of their eight meetings, including the past two, but Sharapova was encouraged by their most recent match in the WTA Championships in Madrid at the end of last year, which she lost in a tight three-setter.

"In Madrid, physically she got me in the end," she said.

"She was fresher than I was in the end. But it was a good match. I still had many chances; I was very close to winning that match.

"Against someone that's number one in the world, someone who has a lot of confidence, you've got to take your chances and take the opportunities because you won't get many."
<<<

Henin knows she must up her game (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Justine Henin breezed into an Australian Open quarter-final showdown against Maria Sharapova with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 fourth-round victory over Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei on Sunday.

Henin, wearing protective strapping on her right knee, showed the gulf in class between the world's top player and someone 157 places lower who had to qualify for the main draw.

The 25-year-old Belgian, however, is acutely aware of the quality waiting for her in the quarter-finals and beyond if she is to win a second Australian Open title.

"Now it's like another tournament is going to start. It's gonna be another level," Henin told reporters.

"There are things I'll have to improve, and really raise my level in the next matches."

Henin, who beat Sharapova in the season-ending Players' Championships in Madrid, is well aware of the challenge imposed by the tall Russian, who struggled for much of last season with a shoulder-injury.

"I always know to beat her I have to be at my best," said Henin. "She's a real fighter. She never gives up. Very talented.

"I know that against her, I will have to be a hundred percent all the time."

Hsieh, the first Taiwanese player to make the last 16 of a Grand Slam, caused problems for Henin in the second set.

Henin had two match-points when serving at 5-0 in the second set, but Hsieh fought them both off.

She broke and held serve before Henin, down two break-points in her next service-game, sealed victory when her opponent netted a service-return.

"She had a really strange game," Henin said. "[i] never knew what to expect.

"I did what I had to do. I played solid, consistent. That was good enough today."
<<<

Williams cruises into quarter-finals (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Also on Sunday, top-seeded Belgian Justine Henin extended her winning-streak to 32 matches by topping Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei 6-2 6-2.

The streak, which dates back to last season, is the longest since Williams' sister, Venus, won 35 straight in 2000.

Yet to drop a set in the tournament, Henin was far from her best in committing 23 unforced errors. But the 25-year-old once again was victorious.

"It's always tough. She had a really strange game, so I never knew what to expect," Henin said. "So I think [Hsieh] played a very good tournament and she started the match with a lot of confidence. I did what I had to do. I played solid, consistent. That was good enough today."

Henin is sure to be tested in the quarter-finals, where she'll face No. 5 Maria Sharapova.

"I always know [that] to beat her, I have to be at my best," Henin said. "She's a real fighter. She never gives up. Very talented. She's a champion. So I know that against her, I will have to be 100% all the time."

After a dominating straight-sets victory over former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the second round, Sharapova thumped 11th-seeded compatriot Elena Dementieva 6-2 6-0 in 63 minutes on Sunday.

While Henin stands just 5'6", Sharapova knows defeating the world No. 1 will be a tall order.

"Currently, she's the one to beat," Sharapova said. "She's on a pretty good winning-streak. But every match is a new match."

Henin, who leads the all-time series 6:2, battled past Sharapova 5-7 7-5 6-3 in a memorable title-match at the Tour Championships in November.

"You know, the one in Madrid was pretty tough, I think. Physically, she got me in the end," Sharapova said. "She was fresher than I was in the end. But it was a good match. And I still had many chances, you know? I was very close to winning that match. But this one's a new one. I'm looking forward to it."
<<<

Henin, Sharapova Set Up Quarter-final Clash
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1988
>>>
Two months ago, Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova wowed the Madrid crowds with a three-set nail-biter in the Sony Ericsson Championships final. Now the two will resume their celebrated rivalry in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, after crushing their opponents in fourth-round matches in Melbourne on Sunday.

Henin was the first to advance to the blockbuster match-up, blowing past one of the tournament's biggest surprises, qualifier Hsieh,Su-Wei, 6-2 6-2. With the exception of a second-set blip - as she let a 5-0 lead turn into 5-2 before finally closing the match out - Henin was in command from the very first game against Hsieh, who had never been beyond the first round of a Grand Slam in her young career.

"She's young, and you always need to have some experience to play matches at this level," said Henin on Hsieh. "But she improved a lot this past week, and she started the match today with lots of confidence. I think she learned here. I just did what I had to do: playing solidly and consistently."

Hsieh's style - two hands from both sides - has presented trouble in the past for Henin: most recently a loss to Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year (her most recent loss on the Tour). But she would not be troubled this time, racing to victory in one hour, 14 minutes.

"A lot of players from Asia play the same way: really talented with good hands, like Seles had," Henin said. "They can find great angles and play good defense. I think we'll see this kind of game more often in the future, especially with the Olympics in Beijing. They're coming on strong. It makes things interesting."

Hsieh's run to the fourth round was almost as unlikely as her chances of upsetting the world No.1. The world No.158 came through qualifying, then won three main-draw matches - including a shock 6-2 6-0 second-round upset win over No.19 seed Sybille Bammer, which marked her first career top-20 win - to become the first player from Chinese Taipei to reach the second week of a major singles-event.

"I was nervous at the beginning, but more pressure was on her because she is the world No.1," Hsieh said. "But I think things changed a little bit and I started to feel more comfortable. So I felt okay on the court."

Whereas Henin wasn't fully educated on her fourth-round opponent, she is an expert on her next opponent. The No.5-seeded Sharapova - an easy 6-2 6-0 winner over No.11 seed Elena Dementieva on Sunday - has been on the other side of the net from the world No.1 eight times before: most recently in the aforementioned Championships final last November, where Henin won an incredible three-hour, 24-minute battle - the 12th-longest match in Tour history - to improve to 6:2 in their head-to-head series.

"It was one of the best matches of my career, and I think one of the best matches of last year," said Henin on the 5-7 7-5 6-3 victory over Sharapova. "It was very long and intense. She had a tough year, and it showed she was back at her best level. I'll have to be at my best. She's a real fighter and never gives up. She's a champion. I'll have to be at 100% the whole time."

"The match in Madrid was pretty tough; physically she really got me in the end," Sharapova said. "But it was a good match. I had many chances; I was very close to winning. But this one's a new one and I'm looking forward to it."

"Now the serious things start," Henin added. "I'm very excited about the tough matches coming up. I hope it's going to be a great week of tennis."
<<<

---------------------------
10. Article about Selesians
---------------------------

DOUBLE TROUBLE
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
The double-handed forehand-backhand combination made famous by former No. 1 Monica Seles could be on the way back thanks to an Asian revival.

Hsieh Su-wei used it to great effect this week to become the first Taiwanese player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam, before losing to top ranked Justine Henin: 6-2 6-2.

Henin said the tennis-world can expect more of the double-handed play to come.

"Players from Asia, they all play the same way. Very talented, good hands, like Seles had in the past," Henin said. "I think we're going to see this kind of game more often probably in the future. With Beijing this year, the Olympic Games, they're all coming pretty strong."

The Belgian said there was plenty to be said for the technique.

"They can really have a very good defense with a lot of angles," she said. "(But) when you play fast and long, you know, they don't have too much time to change their grip."
<<<

-------------------
11. Andrew's wishes
-------------------
11.1 Quarter-final wishes
-------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JUSTINE HENIN [1]
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7]
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Marta Domachowska [Q]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]


11.2 Semi-final wishes
----------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]


11.3 Final wish
---------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]

-------------------
12. Women's Doubles
-------------------
12.1 Second-round result (Sunday 20th January)
------------------------

+ Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport d. Gabriela Navrátilová/Klára Zakopalová, 6-2 6-1


12.2 Third-round draw
---------------------

* Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport v Alyona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko
* Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v (YAN,ZI [s]/ZHENG,JIE)[7]

------------------
13. Girls' Singles
------------------
13.1 First-round result
-----------------------

+ KSENIA LYKINA [2] d. Karis Ryan, 6-2 6-3

To be played on Monday:
* Romana Tabaková v ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1] (poďme Romana!)
* JADE CURTIS [13] v Olivia Rogowska (go Jade!)
* Jessica Moore v Claudia Giovine (go Jessica!)


13.2 Second-round draw
----------------------

* KSENIA LYKINA [2] v Chen Astrugo (davai Ksenia!)

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

----------------------------
14. Order of Play for Monday
----------------------------

Vodafone Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MD 3r: Rohan Bopanna/Rajeev Ram v Jeff Coetzee [s]/Wesley Moodie
WS 4r: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF]
WD 2r: Olga Govortsova/Darya Kustova v Jelena Janković/Bethanie Mattek
MS 4r: JUAN CARLOS FERRERO [22] v DAVID FERRER [5]

I'm very disappointed they haven't scheduled a Women's Singles match on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session, so there'll be no women's match on BBCi tomorrow to follow up the delightful ones I've enjoyed watching in the first week.

The tournament-organisers have been heavily criticised for not removing Williams v Mirza from Saturday's evening-session when Federer v Tipsarević overran, and I'm dismayed by the attitude of the BBC-commentators, who think it's "political correctness gone mad" that women are allowed to play on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session at all, given that the following men's match often finishes after half the spectators have gone home because they have to go to work the next day, not to mention the effect it has on the players' body-clocks (the things that a professional tennis-player has to do after finishing a match and before going to bed can take over four hours).

After the events of Saturday, I constantly worry that only men will get to play on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session in the future, which would mean only men on BBCi before the finals. :-||

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

andrewbroad
Jan 21st, 2008, 10:15 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Fourth-round results
3. Fourth round: Hantuchová v Kirilenko review
4. Fourth round: Ivanović v Wozniacki articles
5. Fourth round: Domachowska v Williams articles
6. Quarter-final draw / Previews
7. Andrew's wishes
8. Women's Doubles
9. Girls' Singles
10. Order of Play for Tuesday

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

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos (Daniela)
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Maria Kirilenko:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/54/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=kirilenko
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310577.html

Sania Mirza:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/461/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza

Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic

Marta Domachowska:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/613/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=domachowska

Caroline Wozniacki:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/1436/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=wozniacki

Search Getty Images for:
hantuchova or kirilenko
mirza
ivanovic or wozniacki
domachowska

Various players including Daniela Hantuchová, Maria Sharapova, Nicole Vaidišová, Maria Kirilenko, Ana Ivanović and Caroline Wozniacki (lovely together):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7198528.stm (Day 7)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7199468.stm (Day 8)
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

-----------------------
2. Fourth-round results (Monday 21st January)
-----------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 1-6 6-4 6-4
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1 7-6 (7/2)

Little Maria led 6-1 *3-1 (30/0), then Daniela won 17 points in a row!

Caroline had two set-points at *5-4 in the second, but allowed nerves to get to her.

What rocked:
+ AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] d. NADIA PETROVA [14], 1-6 7-5 6-0

Petrova led 6-1 3-0, but won only 4 points in the third set!

What sucked:
- Marta Domachowska [Q] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 4-6 4-6

----------------------------------------------
3. Fourth round: Hantuchová v Kirilenko review
----------------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 1-6 6-4 6-4

Maria led 6-1 *3-1 (30/0)! But Daniela fought back with 17 points in a row for 5-3*, then won the second set after they both held.

Third set: Sam Smith (commentating on Hewitt v Ðoković) described it as a "sticky third set". With Maria serving first, it started with three breaks, then Daniela recovered from *15/40 to lead 3-1*, and broke again for *5-2.

But she squandered two match-points at *5-2 and another at 5-3* (there's nothing more nerve-wracking in tennis than watching Daniela squander match-points - not that I got to watch or even follow live scores of this match), before serving out the match to love at *5-4.

Daniela had a positive W:UE ratio of 32:30, while Maria's was even better at 32:27. Daniela turned it around with a spectacular W:UE of 19:9 for the second set, while Maria had a negative 12:17 in the third.

Maria had better first-serve percentages (in and winning) than Daniela, but only won 22% of the points on her second serve, while Daniela won 38% on hers. Maria didn't win a single point on her scond serve in the third set.

Daniela broke 5 times from 8 break-points, Maria 6 times from 12 BPs - but 3 of Maria's breaks occurred in the lopsided first set, while she was more wasteful of break-points in the second and third.

Maria won one more game (14-13) and two more points (88-86) than Daniela!


3.1 Articles
------------

Hantuchová edges past Kirilenko [CEEFAX 490->494]
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová recovered from a set and 1-3 down to beat 27th seed Maria Kirilenko in two hours, 20 minutes.

The 24-year-old will next face Poland's Agnieszka Radwańska, who saw off 14th seed Nadia Petrova 1-6 7-5 6-0.

"It was hard to see a way out of it, but I just kept fighting for every point, and tried to change my game a little bit," said Hantuchová.

"I freed up a little. Until then, it wasn't really me out there, so I tried to focus a bit more."
<<<

Hantuchová battles back for victory [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Hantuchová battles back [Teltext 498]

Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová fought back from losing the first set to defeat Russian Maria Kirilenko.

Kirilenko, seeded 27, made a flying start and easily took the first set 6-1 after hitting 10 winners.

But Slovakian Hantuchová hit back to take the second 6-4, and although a spirited Kirilenko saved two match-points in the decider, her older opponent closed it out 6-4.
<<<

Hantuchová passes Kirilenko test
By James Ranson <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
No. 9 seed Daniela Hantuchová has recovered from a first-set setback against Maria Kirilenko to progress to the quarter-finals in style: 1-6 6-2 6-4.

In a tussle of the glamour-girls, Kirilenko got off to a flying start in the first set, hitting 10 winners and only one unforced error. The 180cm Slovakian forged her way back into the contest in the second set, taking it 6-4.

In the decider, it was Hantuchová again who took the initiative. Neither player could hold serve until Hantuchová did so in the fourth game to lead 3-1.

From that point on, she was always going to be tough to beat, as her array of deep, flat, probing forehands started to trouble the young Russian.

At 5-2 and facing two match-points Kirilenko didn't hold back, digging her way out of a hole to take the set to 5-3. Hantuchová was less than impressed as an unsuccessful challenge led to the break.

Another strong service-game from Kirilenko to go 5-4, and the pressure was back on Hantuchová to hold serve.

Kirilenko requested the trainer for an inner-thigh problem, but the treatment did her little good; Hantuchová held serve with a minimum of fuss, and took the match in two hours and 20 minutes.

Despite the loss, Kirilenko described the tournament as a success and a good building-block for the year ahead, but was at pains to explain how she fell away.

"It was so quick: first I won the first set comfortably, then everything turned around, and before I knew it I had lost."

"She's a top-ten player, so you have to concentrate for the entire match - you can't just expect to win because you've taken the first set."

The impressive Hantuchová will face Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland in the quarter-finals.
<<<

Hantuchová caps comeback with Grand Slam quarter-final
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
It's been a tumultuous five years since Daniela Hantuchová last reached a Grand Slam quarter-final.

She rallied to beat No. 27 Maria Kirilenko 1-6 6-4 6-4 in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday, answering lingering doubts about her capacity to return to the second week of a Grand Slam.

"I always believed I could do it. I thought it was just a matter of time, probably getting a little bit more mature and understanding myself better," she said. "There was never a time that I thought I was not being able to do it again."

After finishing the 2002 season ranked No. 8 following quarter-final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open, she reached a career-high No. 5 shortly after making the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Then she faced a series of personal trials, including constant speculation about her weight, and her ranking plummeted to No. 31 at the end of 2004.

The 24-year-old Slovakian player, seeded No. 9 in Melbourne, says the maturity she's gained in the ensuing years is now showing on the tennis-court.

"I think I realised that it's okay to make mistakes sometimes, and it's okay not to be perfect all the time," she said. "And I think that made me much, much calmer and more relaxed, on the court and off the court."

Hantuchová next faces Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska, who beat Nadia Petrova to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

"She's a very tough player: very talented," Hantuchová said. "I think we've both got a great opportunity to get to the semis, so it's going to be a very good match. I'm really looking forward to it."
<<<

Ivanović, Williams move into quarters (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Off an impressive third-round upset of Russian countrywoman and sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze, Kirilenko got off to a good start against Hantuchová before caving to the Slovakian.

After Kirilenko handily won the first set, Hantuchová battled back to overcome the 20-year-old despite committing 30 unforced errors and winning just 43 of 68 (63%) first-serve points.

"Yeah, it feels great. Definitely an exciting time," said Hantuchová, who was upset in the first round of the US Open last season. "I was very proud the way I fought today because it was not easy - I was not playing well, especially in the first set.

"But I just kept fighting. I eventually turned it around. I was losing, I mean, being a set down and a few breaks, doesn't really make it easy. Honestly, I didn't really see the way out of it. I just tried to focus on every point at one time and just keep fighting. And, yeah, it paid off."

The 24-year-old Hantuchová - bidding to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final in this her 29 consecutive Major - lost her only previous encounter with Radwańska in the second round at Zürich last season.
<<<

Hantuchová, Radwańska notch come-from-behind fourth-round wins
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1992
>>>
The top half of the draw played the fourth round on Sunday, and all of the Top 8 seeds in action won through to set up a pair of quarter-final blockbusters. On Monday the bottom half played their fourth-round matches and, at the end of the day, Ana Ivanović and Venus Williams made a third duel between top seeds while Daniela Hantuchová and Agnieszka Radwańska posted clutch turnaround-victories to come through in the bottom quarter of the draw.

The two most unlikely quarter-finalists at the 2008 Australian Open were also very much down and out in matches they eventually won to get there. Hantuchová, the No.9 seed here, rallied back from a 6-1 3-1 hole to make it past No.27 seed Maria Kirilenko 1-6 6-4 6-4. The Slovak turned it all around with 17 straight points from 6-1 3-1 (30/0) down in the second set, and although she had problems closing (she had two match-points at 5-2 in the third and another at 5-3), she served the match out comfortably at 5-4 and moved into her fourth career Grand Slam quarter-final.

"It's definitely an exciting time," said Hantuchová, whose most recent Grand Slam quarter-final came right here in 2003. "I was very proud of how I fought today, because it was not easy. I wasn't playing well - especially in the first set - but I just kept fighting and eventually turned it around. I always believed I could make the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam again; I just thought it was a matter of time."
<<<

3.2 Daniela's fourth-round press-conference
-------------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com (http://www.australianopen.com)

Q. A few years since you've been to the quarter-finals. How are you feeling?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, it feels great. Definitely an exciting time. Yeah, I was very proud the way I fought today, because it was not easy. I was not playing well, especially in the first set. But I just kept fighting. I eventually turned it around.

Q. The past couple of years, going out in the fourth round, has that been tough to take?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I feel like, you know, the last few years I always gave it my best in the Grand Slam. I was just sometimes a little bit unlucky with the draws. I played the Williams-sisters a couple of times, Justine. So, yeah, the draws were quite tough.

So I was really glad for the opportunity I had here, and really glad to be in the quarters.

Q. You fought to come back and get this win.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, definitely. I was losing, I mean, being a set down and a few breaks, doesn't really make it easy. Honestly, I didn't really see the way out of it.

I just tried to focus on every point at one time and just keep fighting. And, yeah, it paid off.

Q. For the last few years, have you ever thought you wouldn't get back to this point?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Absolutely not. I always believed I could do it. I thought it was just a matter of time, probably getting a little bit more mature and understanding myself better. And, you know, there was never a time that I thought I was not being able to do it again.

Q. What's the difference between you as a tennis-player now and five years ago?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, I guess being five years older. <smiling> Just for sure being more mature. I think I realised that it's okay to make mistakes sometimes, and it's okay not to be perfect all the time. And I think that made me much, much calmer and more relaxed, on the court and off the court.

Q. You've played against Radwańska once. What are your thoughts about her?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, she's a very tough player: very talented. I think she's proved it here once again. I played her in Zürich: I lost. Obviously, I will have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis.

I think we both got a great opportunity to get to the semis, so it's going to be a very good match and I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. Apart from the two Williams and Justine Henin, there are five players coming from Eastern Europe. Do you think the reason is because you have more motivation there? Now even Poland is producing good players. Is it the country where you're born that pushes you to do your best?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I think it was just a matter of time for more players to come from this part of the world, I think, because we are prepared to work hard. Also in my country, I've seen so many talents around me.

You know, some players from Poland, a lot of Russian players, I think just proves that probably the way we are taught how to play, it's very good. I think all the players got very good techniques. Yeah, I think it was just a matter of time for more players to come.

Q. You've said you're calm and relaxed on the court. Anything you've done special to create this?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: No. Like I said, I think I just realised that, you know, we are all humans. Not every match is going to be perfect - always going to be my way.

Once I understood that, I think that was the reason why I started to be more relaxed and much, much easier with myself.

Q. The fact that you have to play Radwańska instead of Kuznetsova, or instead of Petrova, does that make you more optimistic about your future in this tournament?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, I think you have to watch out for every player that is in the quarters, so I cannot underestimate anybody. I have to make sure I go out there and play my best tennis, no matter who is on the other side.


(My fourth-round preview for Daniela is in Section 6.1)

----------------------------------------------
4. Fourth round: Ivanović v Wozniacki articles
----------------------------------------------

Fitter, stronger Ivanović into last eight (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
An improved strength- and conditioning-programme has driven Ana Ivanović's tennis-game to new heights, the Serbian world number three said on Monday.

Ivanović, who has been working with a fitness-coach for 18 months, reached the Australian Open quarter-finals after using her new-found stamina to beat a stubborn Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 7-6 in the fourth round.

"My fitness definitely needed improvement," Ivanović told reporters. "I wasn't a great mover and I had problems with injuries.

"So when I started working with him, I got really fit. I lost some weight, and got really stronger, especially in my upper body.

"Now I feel much stronger out there, and I feel I can keep up with these girls for a longer period of time.

"Before, I had to go for my shots earlier in the rally because I couldn't keep in the rally."

Ivanović, who has not dropped a set in her march to a quarter-final showdown with eighth seed Venus Williams, dominated the first set by smashing 15 winners to Wozniacki's none, and winning 76% of her first-service points.

After the pair held for two service-games each in the second set, the 17-year-old from Copenhagen finally broke in the fifth game, and held two set-points in the 10th, but Ivanović broke to level at 5-5.

The Serb held serve and had a match-point on Wozniacki's, but the young Dane managed to force a tiebreak.

However, Ivanović's experience told, and she ran out a 7/2 tiebreak-winner when Wozniacki's service-return failed to clear the net.

"She had nothing to lose, so she was really dangerous in the second set," Ivanović said.

"I started fighting a little bit more; I'm really happy I managed to keep my composure in the end of that second set and be calm on those set-points, and still manage to win it."
<<<

Federer back on track as Venus gathers steam at Australian Open tennis
by Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
Venus Williams next plays fourth seed Ana Ivanović, who lost concentration against unheralded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, admitting she was sleepwalking for periods of her match against the 17-year-old Dane.

The Serb finally roused herself to score a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) win.

"I played very well in the beginning, and started to get a little bit tired in the second and a little bit sleepy," she said.

"This is the first time I've played the first [morning] match, and I was sleeping in through the whole week really long in the morning; today I had to wake up really early."

But she said she was ready to take revenge against Williams, who beat her at the last two Grand Slams: US Open and Wimbledon.

"It's exactly the time for some revenge," she said. "I think I'm a little bit of a different player than I was last time I played her."
<<<

Ivanović, Williams move into quarters (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Ana Ivanović continued down the path to her first Grand Slam title. However, an imposing roadblock is waiting for her.

The fourth-seeded Serb advanced to the quarter-finals of the $20.6 million Australian Open on Monday with a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) victory over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.

Ivanović, who fell to world No. 1 Justine Henin in the final of last year's French Open, next will meet reigning Wimbledon-champion and eighth-seeded American Venus Williams, who rolled to a 6-4 6-4 triumph over unseeded Marta Domachowska of Poland.

Ivanović has had no previous success against Williams, losing all four of their career-meetings and failing to capture a set.

The 64th-ranked Wozniacki, who was unseeded and a decided underdog, did not put up much of a fight in the first set, but battled hard in the second before being put away by Ivanović.

"[Wozniacki] had nothing to lose, so she was really dangerous in the second set," said Ivanović, who has yet to drop a set. "She started going for her shots. I started fighting a little bit more. So she used the opportunity well.

"I'm really happy I managed to keep my composure in the end of that second set and be calm on those set-points, and still manage to win it."

The 20-year-old won 78% (32 of 41) of her first serves, and converted all but one of her 16 net-approaches en route to the win.
<<<

Ivanović battles into Aussie Open tennis quarters (AFP)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time on Monday, but only after receiving a wake-up call from unheralded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

The Serbian world number three admitted she was sleepwalking for periods of her match against the 17-year-old Dane, but roused herself to score a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) win.

The victory sets up a quarter-final with six-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams or Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska.

Ivanović appeared to be strolling to an easy win after dominating the early stages, but found herself in a dogfight late on to avoid dropping her first set of the tournament.

She said she was thrown off balance by her first morning-match at this year's season-opening Grand Slam after enjoying long lies-in before her previous appearances.

"I played very well in the beginning, and started to get a little bit tired in the second and a little bit sleepy," she said.

"This is the first time I've played the first [morning] match, and I was sleeping in through the whole week really long in the morning; today I had to wake up really early."

Ivanović broke Wozniacki's serve in the opening game, and hardly raised a sweat taking the first set.

Finding her opponent was comfortable rallying from the baseline, Ivanović mixed up her game, serving powerfully, approaching the net and landing dropshots as she ran Wozniacki around.

When the opening set finished 31 minutes later, Ivanović had sent down 15 winners and Wozniacki had produced none.

Ivanović faced more of a challenge in the second set, when Wozniacki broke her in the fifth game.

The teenager suffered a thigh-strain and needed courtside treatment immediately after taking the advantage, but showed no ill effects as she stepped up the aggression to go up 4-2.

She had three chances to break Ivanović again in the seventh game, but the Serb was able to hold her off with powerful serving and a bit of luck when a forehand return flicked off the net and left Wozniacki wrong-footed.

The Dane then had three set-points at 6-5, but Ivanović held on to force a tiebreak, running away with the decider 7/2 to end the match after one hour, 35 minutes.
<<<

Ivanović, Williams To Clash; Quarter-final Line-Up Set
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1992
>>>
The top half of the draw played the fourth round on Sunday, and all of the Top 8 seeds in action won through to set up a pair of quarter-final blockbusters. On Monday the bottom half played their fourth-round matches and, at the end of the day, Ana Ivanović and Venus Williams made a third duel between top seeds while Daniela Hantuchová and Agnieszka Radwańska posted clutch turnaround-victories to come through in the bottom quarter of the draw.

Ivanović was the first of the four to advance to the last eight, cruising through the first set, and rallying back from a break down in the second to take down Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 7-6(2). The No.4-seeded Ivanović was barely tested in the 31-minute first set, but dropped serve in the fifth game of the second set, which eventually gave Wozniacki leads of 4-2 and 5-3. The unseeded Dane even held two set-points, but Ivanović would get back on serve and cruise in the tiebreak.

"Today I obviously didn't perform the best I could, but I'm happy to have used my opportunities, and I'm thrilled to be in the quarter-finals," Ivanović said. "She had a great tournament, and was really dangerous in the second set, and she has a really bright future in front of her. I'm happy I managed to keep my composure in the second set; that was an important step for me."

"I thought I was playing well today, but Ana was playing well also, and she won the important points," Wozniacki said. "I had two set-points in the second set, and I didn't take them. I didn't get that nervous - I was just unlucky. I wasn't thinking about the score; I was just thinking about each point."

The 17-year-old Wozniacki was in her first Grand Slam second week, beating a seed - No.21 Alyona Bondarenko - along the way, also notching impressive wins over Gisela Dulko and qualifier Sabine Lisicki (in which she fought from 4-6 2-4 down to win). She leaves Melbourne with a new wealth of experience.

"I'm very happy I made the fourth round. Of course, I wanted to win today as well. But I'm still happy, and I got a lot of good experience I can take with me for my next tournaments. I'm improving, and I showed I can play with the best."
<<<

------------------------------------------------
5. Fourth round: Domachowska v Williams articles
------------------------------------------------

Venus proves too strong for Domachowska (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Eighth seed Venus Williams moved into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-4 victory over talented Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska on Monday.

The Wimbledon-champion, who had her right thigh strapped, recovered from an early break down to win the first set, and staved off a late fightback from the Pole to line up a clash with fourth seed Ana Ivanović.

Having overcome two free hitters in Camille Pin and Sania Mirza on her way to the last 16, Williams said it was nice to face someone more orthodox.

"The last couple of rounds, I've definitely played some players who had some interesting strategies as far as going for broke and just [hitting] every ball as hard as they can a hundred percent," Williams told reporters.

"So it's definitely different to play that kind of match opposed to someone who is playing more normal tennis. So I felt good about the match.

"She made a lot of good shots there, but just tried to keep a steady level of play."

World number 146 Domachowska, in the last 16 of a Grand Slam event for the first time, broke Williams on her way to a 3-1 lead, but the American won five of the next six games to take the set.

Williams squandered a match-point when she was broken serving for the match at 5-3, but she broke Domachowska again to clinch victory after 79 minutes.

"For me, it was an amazing experience to play today against Venus on the centre court," she said. "I hope I can continue like this all year.

"I had some chances. I had a lot of chances, especially in the first set, but I didn't use them very well. When I had the chance, then I was doing easy mistakes.

"She's a great player. I was trying to do my best, but she was better than me."
<<<

Ivanović, Williams move into quarters (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Williams was considered an overwhelming favorite in her match against Domachowska, who turned 22 on Wednesday. Though impressive in her three-set win over No. 24 Na Li in the third round, the 146th-ranked Domachowska had few answers for Williams: a six-time Grand Slam champion who converted five of her six break-points.

Williams was scratchy in the early going as her serve came under pressure from Domachowska, who took the lead in the third game by breaking Williams with a fine crosscourt passing-shot.

Playing with a heavily-strapped thigh, Williams broke back in the sixth game, only to watch Domachowska reclaim her advantage by breaking the American's serve at the next opportunity.

However, Domachowska was unable to hold in her next game, and Williams again pulled even before going on to break the Pole once more and take the set.

"The last couple rounds, I've definitely played some players who had some interesting strategies as far as going for broke and just, you know, every ball as hard as they can a hundred percent," Williams said. "So it's just definitely different to play that kind of match opposed to someone who is playing, I mean, more normal tennis."

The 27-year-old Williams, who lost to sister Serena in her only final-appearance here in 2003, has yet to drop a set.
<<<

Venus sets up quarter-final with Ivanović (AP)
>>>
Venus Williams reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time in five years, beating Poland's Marta Domachowska 6-4 6-4 on Monday at Melbourne Park.

With sister Serena shouting encouragement, Williams had her hands full with Domachowska.

Far from being intimidated by Williams' power, Domachowska matched it with her own - she had aces on three of her first five serves - along with a variety of spins.

Williams often found herself on the defensive as Domachowska swung for winners at every opportunity.

Williams' right thigh was strapped, and Domachowska gave it a workout, keeping her constantly sprinting from side to side. Williams had to fight back twice from service-breaks in the first set, getting back on serve when Domachowska double-faulted on break-point, then took the set when the Polish woman netted a straightforward forehand volley.

Williams got the first break of the second set to pull ahead 5-3. Domachowska fended off a match-point before breaking back.

Domachowska set up a second match-point for Williams with one error while serving 30/30 in the next game, then netted a forehand to finish it off.

"It's good, it gets me ready for the rounds going forward," Williams said of the close match.
<<<

Venus reaches last eight in bid for elusive Australian Open title (AFP)
>>>
American eighth seed Venus Williams moved a step closer to realising her dream of winning an elusive Australian Open title on Monday when she set up a quarter-final showdown with fourth seed Ana Ivanović.

Williams held off an unexpectedly strong challenge from Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska to secure a 6-4 6-4 win and move into the final eight, where she will meet the rising Serb star.

The six-time Grand Slam champion said she Domachowska adopted much the same tactics as her previous opponent, India's Sania Mirza, in going for broke and smashing every ball she could get her racquet to.

She added that while such matches could be fun, she was looking forward to the prospect of facing the game's big names as the tournament progresses.

"I do consider myself a big-match player. I enjoy those times. I enjoy the battle. I enjoy the challenge," she said.

Williams is yet to win an Australian title in nine attempts, reaching the decider here in 2003 but losing to sister Serena.

"I've come close here before but my little sister Serena has taken it away from me," she said.

"To win the singles would be a dream come true.

She must overcome Ivanovic to keep the dream alive, and has a 4:0 winning record over the Serb, including bumping her from the US Open and Wimbledon last year.

Williams refused to rise to Ivanovic's comment that she was out to avenge her losing-streak against the American.

"I've got a lot of respect for Ana and won't be taking her lightly," she said. "She's a great player. I know she'll do her best."

Williams played with her right thigh strapped against Domachowska, but was confident it would not be needed against Ivanović.

"I've got a little something going on, but it's not going to hurt anybody," the 27-year-old replied when asked about the strapping.

Domachowska's power-hitting was on display early as Williams conceded a service-break in the third game but broke back in the sixth.

Domachowska could not convert two chances to break again in the next game, but Williams made the most of her opportunities, edging ahead in the eighth game when the Pole double-faulted to make it 4-4.

Domachowska's serve had allowed her to keep up with Williams as she sent down four aces in the opening games, but it began to misfire, and the American took the next three games to wrap up the set 6-4 after 35 minutes.

Williams again struggled to dominate the second set, finally securing a break in the seventh game to have a chance to serve out the match at 5-3.

But she could not close out Domachowska, hitting a forehand long on match-point before the Polish slugger finally converted one of three break-points.

Williams made no mistake in the next game, coming in from the baseline to attack Domachowska's serve, and securing a quarter-final berth at Melbourne Park for the fifth time after one hour, 19 minutes.
<<<

Ivanović, Williams To Clash; Quarter-final Line-Up Set
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1992
>>>
The top half of the draw played the fourth round on Sunday, and all of the Top 8 seeds in action won through to set up a pair of quarter-final blockbusters. On Monday the bottom half played their fourth-round matches and, at the end of the day, Ana Ivanović and Venus Williams made a third duel between top seeds while Daniela Hantuchová and Agnieszka Radwańska posted clutch turnaround-victories to come through in the bottom quarter of the draw.

Following Ivanović on Rod Laver Arena was No.8 seed Williams, who ended the shock-run of qualifier Marta Domachowska with a competitive straight-set victory: 6-4 6-4.

Williams twice rallied from a break down en route to winning the first set; she also had trouble with her hard-hitting opponent in the second set, breaking for a 5-3 lead, and holding match-point trying to serve it out - but squandering that and losing serve, then having to break in the next game to seal the victory.

"The last couple rounds, I've played players who had interesting strategies as far as going for broke and hitting every ball as hard as they could; it's a different mentality to play that kind of a match," Williams said. "So I felt good about the match. She made a lot of good shots; I just tried to keep a steady level of play."

"For me, it was an amazing experience to play Venus today," said Domachowska, who was playing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time. "I had chances, especially in the first set, but I didn't use them very well. When I had the chances, I'd make easy mistakes. I was trying my best, but she was better."
<<<

---------------------
6. Quarter-final draw
---------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JUSTINE HENIN [1] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7] (ajde Jelena!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (ajde Ana!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] (POĎME DANIELA!!)

Ana: "She's definitely a tough opponent. Last two Grand Slams, I lost to her. It is exactly the right time for revenge after those two defeats. I'm a different player than I was last time I played her. I got even fitter and stronger on the court. Also, these courts are a little bit slower than the US Open, so I think that's something that definitely suits me better, because she's a big server and she likes to go for the big shots. It will be important for me to serve well, stay in the court and don't give her too much."

Venus: "I have a lot of respect for Ana, and won't be taking her lightly. She's a great player, and I know she'll do her best tomorrow. I consider myself a big-match player. I do enjoy those times. I enjoy the battle; I enjoy the challenge."


6.1 Hantuchová v Radwańska preview
----------------------------------

This is Daniela's first Grand Slam quarter-final since the Australian Open 2003, and her fourth overall, but instead of a Williams-sister, she's up against a Radwańska-sister: the elder, less attractive sister.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF]:
1r + Vania King, 6-3 7-5
2r + Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5
3r + Virginia Ruano Pascual, 6-2 6-3
4r + MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 1-6 6-4 6-4

AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]:
1r + Olga Savchuk, 6-0 6-1
2r + Pauline Parmentier, 7-5 6-4
3r + SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [2], 6-3 6-4
4r + NADIA PETROVA [14], 1-6 7-5 6-0

So a couple of big scalps for Radwańska, but as always in the case of such upsets, the perpetrator has less chance to progress than the seed(s) she upset would have had - especially with Radwańska being young (18) and inexperienced.

On the other hand, that does put the pressure of expectation on Daniela to see off the lower seed - especially with a place in her first-ever Grand Slam semi-final at stake.

Radwańska, who won the Girls' Singles at Wimbledon 2005, pulled off a couple of major scalps in 2007: she beat world #6 Martina Hingis to reach 4r Miami, then stunned second seed and defending champion Maria Sharapova 6-4 1-6 6-2 in the third round of the US Open, after Maria had dropped 2 games in her first two rounds! Radwańska stood right up to the service-line to receive Maria's second serves, and Maria's serve went to pieces.

But Radwańska folded in the next round after that US Open upset, losing 6-4 6-1 to Shahar Pe'er. She's done one better here, courtesy of an astonishing collapse by Nadia Petrova from 6-1 3-0!

Radwańska also won the ITF Biella and WTA Stockholm titles in 2007, finishing the year with an impressive 39:23 record. And she beat Daniela in their only previous meeting: 6-3 6-3 at Zürich 2007, when Daniela was tired and ill.

What's worrying is that Daniela pulled out of the Women's Doubles with a foot-injury. I sincerely hope it's just a precaution. At least she doesn't have to play this quarter-final until Wednesday.

It's not easy to predict the outcome of this match. Logically, Daniela should be the favourite because of her much higher ranking and far greater experience, but as discussed above, there are plenty of variables.

I guess the deciding factor will be what kind of pressure Daniela puts on herself to win this match: whether she finds the happy medium between complacency and the nerves of expectation.


Hantuchová promises focus [Teletext 498]
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová has vowed not to take the challenge of Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska lightly, ahead of their quarter-final tie in Melbourne.

The Slovakian got past Maria Kirilenko in three sets, and now faces Radwańska, who has knocked out two major seeds in the previous two rounds.

Hantuchová said: "She beat me last time, so I'll have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis."
<<<

Hantuchová, Radwańska notch come-from-behind fourth-round wins
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1992
>>>
Hantuchová and Radwańska have met once before, with Radwańska winning handily, 6-3 6-3, at Zürich last fall.

"She's a very tough player and very talented," Hantuchová commented. "She is proving it here once again. I played her in Zürich and lost, so obviously I'll have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis. I think we both have a good opportunity to get to the semi-finals. It's going to be a very good match and I'm really looking forward to it."
<<<

Radwańska: "I am very happy to have gone a few rounds in Melbourne and reached my first [Grand Slam] quarter-final."


6.2 Sharapova v Henin preview
-----------------------------

Further to what I posted yesterday:

http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1994
>>>
(1) Justine Henin (BEL) vs. (5) Maria Sharapova (RUS) - Henin leads 6:2

Last year's runner-up Sharapova has been in sublime form during the opening week at Melbourne Park, but on Tuesday evening she will face her sternest test yet as she crosses swords with world No.1 Justine Henin in what could prove to be the match of the tournament.

After cruising through the opening three rounds, the 20-year-old Russian delivered a mercurial performance to dismantle compatriot Elena Dementieva for the loss of just two games in the fourth round, and despite losing six of her last seven meetings with Henin - one of which was a semi-final defeat at the Australian Open two years ago - she will arrive on court in buoyant mood.

In 2007, Henin reigned supreme at the pinnacle of women's tennis, capturing 10 WTA Tour titles - including the Roland Garros, US Open and Sony Ericsson Championships crowns - and ending the year ranked No.1 in the world. The peerless Belgian started this season as she finished the last, by winning the Medibank International in Sydney, and despite failing to hit top gear in the tournament thus far, she showed glimpses of a return to form during a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Hsieh,Su-Wei on Sunday.

Four years ago, Henin went all the way to the title Down Under, but if she wants to repeat the feat, then first she will first have to overcome an in-form Sharapova, and to do this she will have to be at her very best.
<<<

Henin and Sharapova set for blockbuster (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Justine Henin meets Maria Sharapova in a blockbuster Australian Open quarter-final on Tuesday, with the world number one admitting she will have to be at her best to beat the Russian.

Top seed Henin has won six of their eight meetings, but Sharapova pushed her all the way in their last encounter: in Madrid at the end of last year.

"[The Madrid match] was a big fight. It was one of the best matches of my career, I think one of the best matches of last year," the Belgian said.

"She's back in her best level. I always know [that] to beat her, I have to be at my best. She's a real fighter. She never gives up. Very talented. She's a champion. Against her, I will have to be a hundred percent all the time."

Sharapova, seeded fifth, has breezed through to the last 16, losing just four games per match on average.

The Russian said she would fight until the end as she looks to add to her two Grand Slam titles: won at Wimbledon 2004 and the US Open 2006.

"Against someone that's number one in the world, someone who has a lot of confidence, you've got to take your chances and take the opportunities, because you won't get many," Sharapova said.
<<<

Mighty Maria?
By Tom Perrotta (Tennis.com)
>>>
The Queen Drama Killer has been, to my surprise, Maria Sharapova. The former world no. 1 (and what a 14 weeks it was!) has pummelled her first four opponents, losing a mere 16 games. She's serving well (the formerly injured shoulder is holding up fine), she's moving better than I've seen her move in some time, and she's as feisty as ever on court. Poor Elena Dementieva didn't have a chance against her Russian compatriot: she and her lollypop serve only pried loose two games.

It wasn't that long ago that Sharapova looked like the game's next dominant player. Remember the 2006 US Open final? I don't enjoy watching Sharapova play (not enough quickness for me and not enough touch) but in that final, against Henin, there was a lot to admire. She executed her strategy perfectly: serve big, return big, don't let the rallies go too long, and keep Henin on her back foot. She seemed primed for a great 2007 until her shoulder went kaput (it started in Melbourne) and kept her from playing another high-quality match until the season-ending championships in Madrid, where Henin beat her in three sets.

Finally, that injury seems to be a thing of the past. Sharapova has played better than anyone so far this tournament. She looks confident and fit and has a great chance to upend Henin, who hasn't lost a set but has played through some rough patches. I won't say she has a good chance against Serena Williams. As we've learned in the past, Sharapova's game brings out the best in Williams (Serena loves pace and has more trouble with players who move exceptionally well than those who slug the ball).

If Sharapova doesn't win, I'm sure many of you out there will again question her potential to be a consistent champion. Fair enough, but if Sharapova has one thing on her side, it's time. She's only 20 and the women who give her the most trouble - the Williams sisters and Henin are 25 (Henin), 26 (Serena) and 27 (Venus) - are older and likely won't maintain their form for too many more years.

I'm not sufficiently impressed with the young talent on the Tour to think Sharapova won't continue to beat today's top prospects for years to come, mainly because she is a fierce competitor and supremely confident. I've yet to see those qualities - or at least a sufficient amount of them - in either Jelena Janković or Ana Ivanović, and I don't know that I'll ever see them in Nicole Vaidišová.
<<<

------------------
7. Andrew's wishes
------------------
7.1 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]


7.2 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]

------------------
8. Women's Doubles
------------------
8.1 Third-round results (Monday 21st January)
-----------------------

- Nicole Vaidišová [EF]/Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová lt. (YAN,ZI [s]/ZHENG,JIE)[7], 4-6 1-6

- Daniela Hantuchová [EF]/Lindsay Davenport lt. Alyona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko, walkover (Daniela foot-injury)

-----------------
9. Girls' Singles
-----------------
9.1 First-round results (Monday 21st January)
-----------------------

What rocked:
+ JADE CURTIS [13] d. Olivia Rogowska, 6-4 6-1
+ Jessica Moore v Claudia Giovine, 6-1 6-2

What sucked:
- Romana Tabaková lt. ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA [1], 1-6 5-7


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

* JADE CURTIS [13] v Lesley Kerkhove (go Jade!)
* Jessica Moore v CHANG,KAI-CHEN [12] (go Jessica!)
* KSENIA LYKINA [2] v Chen Astrugo (davai Ksenia!)

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

-----------------------------
10. Order of Play for Tuesday
-----------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MD qf: (ARNAUD CLÉMENT/MICHAEL LLODRA)[7] v (DANIEL NESTOR/NENAD ZIMONJIĆ)[2]
WS qf: JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] v SERENA WILLIAMS [7]
MS qf: JARKKO NIEMINEN [24] v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
WS qf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JUSTINE HENIN [1]
MS qf: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v MIKHAIL YOUZHNY [14]

I am delighted that Maria's quarter-final is on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session, which will be televised on BBCi from 08:25 GMT. Last year, no women's quarter-finals or semi-finals were on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session, so none of them were televised by BBCi. :-||

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

andrewbroad
Jan 22nd, 2008, 10:38 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Quarter-final results
3. Quarter-final: Sharapova v Henin TV-report
4. Quarter-final draw: Bottom half
5. Preview of upper semi-final
6. Andrew's wishes
7. Girls' Singles
8. Order of Play for Wednesday

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

Maria Sharapova:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/403/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova

Jelena Janković:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/404/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=jankovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta100153.html

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova
mirza
jankovic

Various players including Maria Sharapova:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7201660.stm

Various players including Maria Sharapova and Sania Mirza:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

------------------------
2. Quarter-final results (Tuesday 22nd January)
------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 6-4 6-0
+ JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] d. SERENA WILLIAMS [7], 6-3 6-4

I'm glad Serena didn't win the title. It means Monica Seles, who returns to the Tour in March, still stands alone as the active player with the most Grand Slam Women's Singles titles (9).

---------------------------------------------
3. Quarter-final: Sharapova v Henin TV-report
---------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 6-4 6-0

Maria continued her run of stunning performances at this tournament by dismissing the dominant world number one - who had won 32 matches in a row going into this quarter-final - just as easily as she did Lindsay Davenport in the second round. Maria has now won three second sets in a row 6-0.

Maria simply overpowered Henin to take a 5-2* lead, with great serving, powerful groundstrokes and spreading rallies from the baseline, and plenty of forays to the net (on one occasion, behind a sidespin sliced backhand). You certainly couldn't accuse Maria of being one-dimensional, although I'm always scared for her when she tries a dropshot!

Henin then began hitting her groundstrokes with more depth and authority, and using her sliced backhand to keep the ball bouncing low off the Plexicushion court, inducing Maria to net a series of groundstrokes. Things looked very bad for Maria as she failed to serve out the set at *5-3, and she was very lucky to close it out when she did: after a marathon-game of 4 deuces and 4 set-points at 5-4*, which featured the two best rallies of the match - both drawing loud gasps from the crowd and finishing with winners by Maria.

I thought Henin had the momentum and the tactics to beat Maria going into the second set, but instead, Maria returned to the form that got her to 5-2* in the first set, and Henin missed many first serves and some second serves as Maria put her under constant pressure with her returns. Maria never looked like she would choke, and I think Henin knew she was beaten as early as *0-3.

Maria: "It's amazing when you go out on the court and feel you're doing the right things to beat such an amazing player as her."

A wonderful return to form for my two-time Grand Slam champion, and she's now a strong favourite to reach the final again, if not win the whole thing!

I'll upload my full TV-report tomorrow.

----------------------------------
4. Quarter-final draw: Bottom half
----------------------------------

* ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8] (ajde Ana!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29] (POĎME DANIELA!!)

Australian Open: Day 10 Preview
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1997
>>>
(9) Daniela Hantuchová (SVK) vs. (29) Agnieszka Radwańska (POL) - Radwańska leads 1:0

Teenage sensation Radwańska's run to her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final has been one of the stories of the tournament, and she will enter her clash with world No.9 Hantuchová brimming with confidence.

After a promising 2007, which saw her break into the Top 30 and capture her very first WTA Tour title, the 18-year-old Pole has made a fantastic start to the new season in Melbourne. After negotiating the opening two matches with relative ease, Radwańska faced the daunting prospect of a match-up against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the round of 32, and she certainly rose to the occasion by defeating the No.2 seed 6-3 6-4. In the next round, she faced another Russian, in the form of Nadia Petrova, and despite a sluggish start, the Kraków-based star came roaring back to wrap up a 1-6 7-5 6-0 win over the world No.14.

Hantuchová was on cruise-control in the opening week Down Under, brushing aside her opening three opponents with consummate ease. However, in the fourth round she came up against an in-form Maria Kirilenko, who pushed the 24-year-old all the way before finally going down 1-6 6-4 6-4.

The Slovak No.1 enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2007 - winning her second and third career-titles and qualifying for the prestigious Sony Ericsson Championships - and her performances in Melbourne Park have been rewarded with a place in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event for the fourth time in her career.

The pair's only previous meeting on Tour came three months ago in Zürich when Radwańska emerged with an impressive straight-set victory, and despite sitting 19 places below Hantuchová in the world-rankings, she certainly has the ability and the temperament to spring a surprise.


(4) Ana Ivanović (SRB) vs. (8) Venus Williams (USA) - Williams leads 4:0

Following Hantuchová and Radwańska onto Rod Laver is the potentially classic encounter between Ivanović and Williams. The pair have met on four previous occasions - including in the round of 16 at last year's US Open - and Ivanović will be desperate to finally register a victory over her American rival.

The Serbian sensation has yet to drop a set this week, but she has made heavy weather of several of her opponents, and will be desperate to hit top form on Day 10. Last season, arguably Ivanović's greatest moments came in the Majors, with a runner-up finish at Roland Garros and a memorable semi-final run at Wimbledon, and she will hope her Australian adventure will not come to a premature end on Wednesday afternoon.

Williams also enjoyed her fair share of success in the Slams in 2007, with the American capturing a sixth career Major at Wimbledon as well as making it through to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows. The 28-year-old is appearing in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the first time since a runner-up finish five years ago, and although she has struggled through the opening four rounds, with her undoubted big-match pedigree and impressive 4:0 head-to-head advantage over Ivanović, she will start the clash as slight favourite.
<<<

Ivanović attempts to solve Williams (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Ana Ivanović is in position to justify her new ranking.

The fourth-seeded Serbian attempts to reach her first Australian Open semi-final on Wednesday when she faces eighth-seeded Venus Williams.

Ivanović, 20, moved into the No. 3 spot in the world rankings on 14th January, and has not lost a set at this $20.6 million hardcourt Major. The clash with Williams will be her first true test since securing the career-high rank.

Ivanović is well aware that she's had no success against the 27-year-old American, who has won all four previous meetings without dropping a set.

En route to winning her sixth Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, Williams defeated Ivanović 6-2 6-4 in the semi-finals. They met again in the round of 16 at the US Open, where Williams posted a 6-4 6-2 win.

"I'm a little bit of a different player than I was the last time I played [Williams]," Ivanović said. "I have got even fitter and stronger on court, and also these courts are a little bit slower than at the US Open.

"So I think that definitely suits me better, because she is a big server and she likes to go for big shots."

Williams, who lost to sister Serena in her only final-appearance here in 2003, also has yet to drop a set, and the former No. 1 is obviously no stranger to the spotlight.

"I do consider myself a big-match player," said Williams, who went 8:2 against top-10 players in 2007 after the French Open. "I do enjoy those times, I enjoy the battle and I enjoy the challenge."

While the Ivanović-Williams winner is the clear-cut favourite to emerge from the bottom of the draw, rising star Agnieszka Radwańska can't be overlooked at this point.

The 29th-seeded Pole has sent shockwaves through the bracket with upset victories over No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova and 14th-seeded Nadia Petrova.

In her fourth-round match with Petrova on Monday, the 18-year-old Radwańska rallied for a 1-6 7-5 6-0 win despite facing deficits of 0-3 and 4-5 in the second set.

An owner of just one career singles-title, Radwańska will be appearing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final when she faces No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová: a 1-6 6-4 6-4 winner against 27th-seeded Maria Kirilenko on Monday.

The 24-year-old Hantuchová - bidding to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final in this her 29th consecutive Major - lost her only previous encounter with Radwańska in the second round at Zürich last season.

"[Radwańska is] a very tough player, very talented," Hantuchová said. "I played her in Zürich and lost, so obviously I will have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis."

Though her career has been marked by several baffling defeats in big spots, Hantuchová showed some character in her fourth-round win over Kirilenko.

The Slovakian claimed the match despite dropping the first set, committing 30 unforced errors and winning just 43 of 68 (63%) first-serve points.

"Yeah, it feels great. Definitely an exciting time," said Hantuchová, who was upset in the first round of the US Open last season. "I was very proud the way I fought [on Monday] because it was not easy; I was not playing well, especially in the first set.

"But I just kept fighting. I eventually turned it around. I just tried to focus on every point and just keep fighting. And, yeah, it paid off."
<<<

------------------------------
5. Preview of upper semi-final
------------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] (DAVAI MARIA!!)

Maria goes into this semi-final as the overwhelming favourite, having dropped just 20 games in five matches against opponents with a mean WTA ranking of #44...

MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]:
1r + Jelena Kostanić Tošić, 6-4 6-3
2r + Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3
3r + Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0
4r + ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11], 6-2 6-0
qf + JUSTINE HENIN [1], 6-4 6-0

whereas Janković, who is paying a heavy price for overplaying last year, has struggled physically, with a left-thigh injury in her quarter-final, dropping 48 games in five matches against opponents with a mean WTA ranking of #45.8:

JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]:
1r + Tamira Paszek, 2-6 6-2 12-10
2r + Edina Gallovits, 6-2 7-5
3r + VIRGINIA RAZZANO [30], 6-2 4-6 6-1
4r + Casey Dell'Acqua, 7-6 (7/3) 6-1
qf + SERENA WILLIAMS [7], 6-3 6-4

BBCi-commentator Sam Smith was "shocked, stunned and flabbergasted" at the defeat of the defending champion by Janković, especially given Janković's physical condition. "Distracted" was the best word they could come up with to describe Williams's performance, as she struggled with a huge blister on her right foot, and completed a 'Serena Slam' of quarter-final losses.

Janković enjoyed an excellent year in 2007 - much better than Maria's - as she won WTA singles-titles at Auckland, Charleston, Rome (beating world #3 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final) and Birmingham (beating Maria in the final), and compiling a 72:25 record. But her hectic schedule caught up with her as she finished the year with 6 losses in a row (including 0:3 at the Sony Ericsson Championships).

This will be Janković's third Grand Slam semi-final, following the US Open 2006 and French Open 2007; she has never been to a Grand Slam final (apart from her Wimbledon 2007 Mixed Doubles title with Jamie Murray).

Janković is a solid counterpuncher who has added an ability to inject pace, which has brought her as high as #3 in the world. But when I watched her beat Dell'Acqua on BBCi, she was content to keep the ball in play and wait for mistakes, and that's just not going to cut it against Maria on current form.

Historically, although Maria leads their head-to-head 3:1, Janković has been a tough opponent for Maria, with all their meetings going to three sets except Beijing 2004, when Janković retired. I attended their Birmingham-finals in 2005 and 2007: in last year's, they both played at a very high level with full-blooded hitting, and Maria squandered several opportunities to win - most notably a 3-0* lead in the third set - as Janković scored her lone win over Maria.

But Maria is playing so much better, and is so much more confident, than at Birmingham 2007, while it's amazing that Janković has even justified her seeding after her 12-10 third set in the first round! Janković doesn't have to go into this semi-final worried about losing - she has to go in worried that Maria will humiliate her completely: perhaps even becoming Maria's first 6-0 6-0 victim since Catalina Castańo at ITF Peachtree 2002.

------------------
6. Andrew's wishes
------------------
6.1 Semi-final wishes
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]


6.2 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]

My Reason says that Maria totally deserves to win this tournament now. But my Passion wants to make Daniela a Grand Slam champion too!

-----------------
7. Girls' Singles
-----------------
7.1 Second-round results (Tuesday 22nd January)
-----------------------

What rocked:
+ Jessica Moore d. CHANG,KAI-CHEN [12], 6-3 6-2
+ KSENIA LYKINA [2] d. Chen Astrugo, 7-5 6-1

What sucked:
- JADE CURTIS [13] lt. Lesley Kerkhove, 3-6 1-6


7.2 Third-round draw
--------------------

* Jessica Moore v NOPPAWAN LERTCHEEWAKARN [7] (go Jessica!)
* KSENIA LYKINA [2] v Karen Barbat (davai Ksenia!)

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

------------------------------
8. Order of Play for Wednesday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
WS qf: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29]
WS qf: ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [8]
MS qf: NOVAK ĐOKOVIĆ [3] v DAVID FERRER [5]
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
MS qf: ROGER FEDERER [1] v JAMES BLAKE [12]
MD qf: (BOB BRYAN/MIKE BRYAN)[1] v (MAHESH BHUPATHI/MARK KNOWLES)[6]

I'm disappointed that there's no women's match on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session = no BBCi-coverage of Daniela (all tournament) or Ana (since the second round). I don't know whether this is more misogyny, or whether they think it would have been unfair to put a women's quarter-final in the evening when the winner has to play her semi-final on Thursday.

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

andrewbroad
Jan 24th, 2008, 12:32 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Quarter-final results
3. Quarter-final: Sharapova v Henin TV-report
4. Quarter-final: Hantuchová v Radwańska scoreboard-report
5. Quarter-final: Ivanović v Williams articles
6. Semi-final draw / Previews
7. Andrew's wishes
8. Nicole Vaidišová article
9. Girls' Singles
10. Order of Play for Thursday

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

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311710.html

Search Getty Images for:
hantuchova
ivanovic

Various players including Daniela Hantuchová and Ana Ivanović:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7203952.stm

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

------------------------
2. Quarter-final results (Wednesday 23rd January)
------------------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29], 6-2 6-2
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 7-6 (7/3) 6-4

Wow - all four quarter-finals have gone the way I wanted! :-) And I'm guaranteed at least demi-fanship interest in the final (being a demi-fan of Ana and an eternal fan of Maria and Daniela).

---------------------------------------------
3. Quarter-final: Sharapova v Henin TV-report (Tuesday 22nd January)
---------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JUSTINE HENIN [1], 6-4 6-0

My full TV-report is now available on my website:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html

----------------------------------------------------------
4. Quarter-final: Hantuchová v Radwańska scoreboard-report
----------------------------------------------------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29], 6-2 6-2

The first set was very straightforward, with Daniela breaking in the 4th and 8th games. She led *4-0 in the second, but then got nervous and broken twice before closing it out on Radwańska's weak serve.

Daniela compiled a positive W:UE ratio of 27:20 (Radwańska 17:19) and won an impressive 15 of 17 points at the net. Radwańska won only 42% of the points on her own serve, and gave Daniela 14 break-points: Daniela broke 6 times, while Radwańska only broke twice from 6 BPs.

So she finally did what I've been waiting for since 2002: reached her first-ever Grand Slam semi-final (in singles - she's already won a career Grand Slam in Mixed Doubles titles, and reached the Australian Open 2002 Women's Doubles final).

She's also the first Slovak lady ever to reach a Grand Slam semi-final - almost 12 years after Karina Habšudová twice served for the match against Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario in their French Open 1996 quarter-final. But perhaps Karina has given birth to two future tennis-greats: Laura and Nicol Cíleková.

Daniela may have taken advantage of an open draw to reach this semi-final - after Radwańska and Maria Kirilenko took care of Svetlana Kuznetsova [2] and Anna Chakvetadze [6] respectively - but she certainly deserves her luck after all those years of drawing the Williams-sisters, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, who used to appear as her 3r/4r/QF opponents with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.


The match started at 11:17 AEDT, and seeing as it was Daniela's first Grand Slam quarter-final in five years, I decided to burn the midnight-oil and follow live scores at www.australianopen.com.

I also used the live-scoring thread at
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=330030


First set
---------
HANTUCHOV * *@* *@ 6
RADWAŃSKA _*___*__ 2

Daniela serving 0-0: Held to love, courtesy of a backhand winner and a netcord-winner.
Radwańska serving 0-1: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. Held.

This is the trouble with women's tennis: it's serve-dominated! ;-)

Daniela serving 1-1: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 40/30. Held.

Well recovered from 0/15 and 15/30, with one of her trademark backhand winners down the line at the latter!

Radwańska serving 1-2: 0/15. 15/15. 15/40 (2 BPs). Broken.

Well, well! Radwańska had a half-chance to break in the previous game, but now it's first blood to Daniela! Always difficult to serve after missing a chance to break.

Daniela serving 3-1: 15/0. 15/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Daniela. Deuce #2. Ad Daniela. Deuce #3. Ad Daniela. Held.

Daniela fights through another tough service-game - I guess this is where experience pays off for the 24-year-old over the 18-year-old. And the gap in score seems so wide, even though it's just one break.

spriwi: "dani is so concentrated, she is moving aga all over the court. playing really smart. i dont see much of a chance for the polish girl as long as dani plays so well..."

Radwańska serving 1-4: 0/30. 30/30. Daniela drive-volley winner. 30/40 (BP). 40/40. Daniela punished an "awful" second serve. Ad Daniela (BP #2). Radwańska saved it with a backhand winner down the line. Deuce #2. Ad Radwańska. Held.

Daniela lets an even bigger chance to break than Radwańska had go begging. I hope she reacts a little more maturely on her own serve than Radwańska did at *1-2.

I've never seen Agnieszka play, except for an unmemorable 2-6 2-6 thrashing by Kim Clijsters at Wimbledon 2006 (her sister Urszula is an attractive all-court player - I saw half her Wimbledon 2007 Girls' Singles final on BBCi). What I'm reading on the live-scores thread is that she has a "powder-puff" serve. I get the impression she's a Hingis-type player.

Daniela serving 4-2: 30/0. 30/15. 40/15. Held.

Radwańska serving 2-5: 15/0. 15/40 (2 SPs). 40/40. Ad Daniela (SP #3). Deuce #2. Ad Daniela (SP #4). Deuce #3. Ad Daniela (SP #5). Deuce #4. Ad Radwańska. Deuce #5. Ad Daniela (SP #6). Daniela won the first set 6-2 at 11:58 AEDT (41m).

Good girl! Please finish this in two, Daniela, so that I won't have to be up until 3am (14:00 AEDT) as I was after Chakvetadze v Kirilenko!

BK4ever: "Aga is really talented. She just needs a serve and some aggression. She uses her legs very well."

Reuchlin: "I've never seen Daniela play better."


Second set
----------
HANTUCHOV *@*@ @ @ 6
RADWAŃSKA ____@ @_ 2

Daniela serving 0-0: 0/15. 15/15. 15/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Daniela. Deuce #2. Ad Radwańska (BP #1). Deuce #3. Ad Daniela. Held.

I see a Girls' Singles match just completed 6-1 6-1 - that's the kind of efficiency I could do with at this time of night!

WTAworld seems to be down now unfortunately: I'm getting the "Database Error" page.

Radwańska serving 0-1: Broken to love.
Daniela serving 2-0: 40/0. 40/15. Held.

6-2 3-0*: is Daniela on the verge of her first Grand Slam semi-final, or the mother of all chokes? One of the dangerous things about young players is that they don't know when they're beaten - unlike Justine Henin, who had a look of despair in her eyes at 4-6 *0-3 against Maria Sharapova yesterday! :-)

Radwańska serving 0-3: 0/30. 40/30. 40/40. Ad Daniela. Deuce #2. Ad Daniela. Held.

Well fought, Daniela! Let's finish this quickly please!

Daniela serving 4-0: 15/0. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP). 40/40. Ad Radwańska (BP #2). Broken.

And Radwańska breaks for the first time in the match, at the third time of asking. But surely Daniela is too far ahead and too confident to choke today. She's much stronger mentally now than she was pre-2007; the days when she used to burst into tears after missing match-points are a distant memory now.

There have been some incredible turnarounds this tournament, including the one by Radwańska from 1-6 0-3 against Nadia Petrova in the previous round.

Radwańska serving 1-4: 15/0. 15/15. 30/15. 30/40 (BP). Broken.
Daniela serving 5-1: 15/0. 15/30. 30/30. 30/40 (BP). 40/40. Ad Radwańska (BP #2). Deuce #2. Ad Radwańska (BP #3). Broken.

Radwańska breaks for the second time as this match degenerates into break and counterbreak, but is it too little too late? Is Daniela thinking too much about reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final? If she goes on to lose from this position, she ought to be shot, really.

Radwańska serving 2-5: 0/15. 30/15. 30/30. 30/40 (MP #1). The scoreboard briefly flashed 40/40, but reverted to 30/40 - did Daniela make a successful challenge? She won 6-2 6-2 at 12:45 AEDT (second set 47m, match 1h28m).

Wow: all three quarter-finals so far have gone the way I wanted - now I just need Ana to beat Venus and everything will be perfect! :-)


4.1 Articles
------------

HANTUCHOVÁ MARCHES INTO LAST FOUR [CEEFAX 490->491]
>>>
Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová marched into her first Grand Slam semi-final by thumping Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska at the Australian Open.

Radwańska, 18, looked nervous early on, and Hantuchová took full advantage, dictating play from the baseline, and running away with the first set.

The Slovakian kept up the tempo in the second set, destroying Radwańska's serve and completing a 6-2 6-2 victory.

Hantuchová faltered when serving for the match, but regained her composure to close out a 6-2 6-2 victory.

She will play either Venus Williams or Ana Ivanović in the last four.
<<<

Hantuchová in first Grand Slam semi [Teletext 495->499]
>>>
No problem for Hantuchová [Teletext 499]

Daniela Hantuchová advanced to the semi-final with a comfortable straight-sets win over Agnieszka Radwańska.

The Slovakian, seeded ninth, reached the last four of a Grand Slam event for the first time with a 6-2 6-2 win over the Pole, who had beaten two seeds on her way to the quarter-final stages.

Hantuchová said: "It feels great. I kept fighting for every single point - even when I wasn't playing well."


Hantuchová backs strength [Teletext 499]

Daniela Hantuchová claims she now has the mental strength to match her game as she lined up a semi-final clash with Serbian Ana Ivanović.

The 24-year-old admitted she has been mentally fragile in the past, but has now put those problems behind her.

Hantuchová said: "I just needed to improve mentally to believe it. I do think a lot about things, so maybe it just took me a little bit longer."
<<<

Hantuchová hammers past Radwańska
By Carla Okai <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Slovakian No.9 seed Daniela Hantuchová has advanced to the semi-finals with ease as she eliminated Polish Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

Radwańska, 18, had enjoyed a spectacular run at Australian Open 2008, overpowering second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round.

But her Australian Open hopes were demolished as Hantuchová dominated the match with her powerful serve and groundstrokes.

Hantuchová broke her opponent's serve in the third game of the opening set, giving Radwańska little room to move as she controlled play from the baseline.

The No.9 seed had six break-points in the seventh game, but her opponent fought back to hold her serve. But the Slovakian finally got her way, winning the set in 40 minutes.

Radwańska showed glimpses of her natural talent in the second set, winning with some impressive dropshots from the net. But her serve let her down and Hantuchová capitalised, breaking early in the set and again in the fifth game.

Radwańska broke in the seventh game to trail 2-5, but any hope of a revival was quickly snuffed out by her in-form opponent.
<<<

Hantuchová praises mental strength
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Late developer Daniela Hantuchová says she now has the mental strength to match her game after powering through to her first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open.

A ruthless Hantuchová brushed aside Poland's Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 in 87 minutes on Wednesday, to line-up a last-four meeting with Serbian Ana Ivanović.

The Slovakian had previously reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals - her last in Melbourne in 2003 - but failed to progress to the last four, and the 24-year-old admitted she was mentally fragile and not ready to take the next step - until now.

"I just needed to improve myself mentally, to believe it. I had people around me saying it to me," she said. "It was a matter of time [before I started] to believe that, too."

"I guess I had to get through all the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage. Everybody has different times when they mature more. I had to go through all those times and opportunities that I missed, to be able to get here."

"I do think a lot about things, so maybe it just took me a little bit longer. But I'm happy for every experience I had to go through. That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more. I'm definitely enjoying it and really happy."

Hantuchová, who speaks six languages and plays classical piano, has won four Grand Slam mixed-doubles titles.

But her singles-career has stalled at critical junctions.

"I would just get too hard on myself, and was not able to forgive myself any mistakes," she revealed.

"I always wanted to have everything perfect, but I just realised that things are not always going to go your way, and sometimes you have to work for them."

"Sometimes it's going to be tough, but it's the same in life. You have to get through some difficult times. If you always give your best, you can feel good about your yourself."

Hantuchová was on great terms with herself after completely dominating the hapless Radwańska.

The No.9 seed said of the victory: "I really had to play well in order to get that score."

"I was real proud how I handled the situation. I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times. I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis."

Radwańska admitted: "She played very well, and I made too many mistakes."
<<<

Hantuchová through to first Grand Slam semi-final (Reuters)
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Peter Rutherford
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová advanced to her first Grand Slam semi-final when she ended the fairy-tale Australian Open run of Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Slovak, who had made three previous Grand Slam quarter-finals, used her experience to run the 18-year-old around the court and seal the 6-2 6-2 victory in 87 minutes.

The 29th-ranked Radwańska, who knocked out second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 14th seed Nadia Petrova on the way to her first Grand Slam quarter-final, produced moments of breathtaking skill, but lacked experience against the wily ninth seed.

Hantuchová will meet either eighth seed Venus Williams or fourth-seed Ana Ivanović, who play later on Wednesday, in the semi-finals.
<<<

Less-than-perfect Hantuchová into semi-final (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
A refusal to dwell on tiny mistakes vaulted Daniela Hantuchová into her first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, the ninth-seeded Slovak said.

Hantuchová, a former quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, the US Open and here, made the final four for the first time with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Pole Agnieszka Radwańska on Wednesday.

"I think I realised that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to not always play my best tennis," the 24-year-old told reporters.

"I would just get too hard on myself, and was not able to forgive myself any mistakes," she added of her past attitude.

"I always wanted to have everything perfect. Yeah, I just realised that, you know, things are not always going to go your way, and sometimes you have to work for them."

The tall Slovakian, who burst on to the scene as an 18-year-old when she beat Martina Hingis in the final at Indian Wells in March 2002, said she had no regrets at taking her time to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

"I guess everybody has different times when they mature more. I had to go through all those times and opportunities that I missed to be able to get here.

"I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis."

Hantuchová, who won titles at Indian Wells and Linz in Austria last year, used her experience to run the 18-year-old around the court, forced her deep behind the baseline, and won several points on delicate dropshots.

"I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times."

Hantuchová will now meet fourth-seed Ana Ivanović in the semi-finals, and said she would treat the match against the highly-fancied Serb like any other.

"I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position. I'm feeling like I'm playing well.

I'm just really looking forward to be out on the court again, and give my best and see what happens."
<<<

Venus ousted as Europeans dominate in Melbourne (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Europe tightened its stranglehold on this year's Australian Open when America's sole survivor in the women's singles, Venus Williams, was blasted out of the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Ivanović will meet Daniela Hantuchová in the semis after the Slovak pummelled Pole Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

Venus and Ivanović took to court after a double-quick opening match between Hantuchová and Radwańska.

Hantuchová, a former quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, the US Open and Melbourne Park, made the final four of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 6-2 6-2 victory.

"I think I realised that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to not always play my best tennis," the 24-year-old told reporters.

"I always wanted to have everything perfect. Yeah, I just realised that things are not always going to go your way, and sometimes you have to work for them."

Things certainly went her way against Radwańska.

Hantuchová used her experience to run the 18-year-old around the court, forcing her deep behind the baseline.

"I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times," Hantuchová said.
<<<

Satisfied Radwańska rues lack of experience (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
A lack of experience, particularly on crucial points, had ended a satisfactory Australian Open campaign, Agnieszka Radwańska said on Wednesday.

The Polish teenager, who only finished high school last year, was beaten 6-2 6-2 by a comparative veteran in 24-year-old Daniela Hantuchová on a sun-drenched Rod Laver Arena, ending her first Grand Slam quarter-final in just 87 minutes.

"I was trying everything in first set and then second set," Radwańska told reporters.

"She was playing very good. She was playing very long balls, close to the baseline. It was very hard to play.

"I made a few mistakes. I also had many chances, but I didn't use [them], and the last points always she did better.

"I tried my best, but not my day."

The 18-year-old had a dream run through the tournament, beating second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 14th seed Nadia Petrova on her way to the quarter-finals.

"I'm very happy that I did my first quarter-final," Radwańska said. "I beat two Russian good players, both seeded. So I'm happy."
<<<

Hantuchová downs Radwańska to make Australian Open tennis semis (AFP)
>>>
Slovak ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová emphatically announced her Grand Slam comeback on Wednesday when she outclassed Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Hantuchová crushed Radwańska 6-2 6-2 in the quarter-finals to set up her first-ever Grand Slam semi against either fourth seed Ana Ivanović of Serbia or American eighth seed Venus Williams, who play later on Wednesday.

The win ended Radwańska's giant-killing run at the season-opening Grand Slam, which included second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and former world number three Nadia Petrova.

It also confirmed the 24-year-old Slovak's return to the big time, exactly five years after her last Grand Slam quarter-final appearance here five years ago.

"I kept believing, and here I am in the semis," she said.

"It feels great. Every tennis-player knows what I'm talking about when you get to that point when you feel like everything you touch is going in, and I want to go on as long as possible."

Hantuchová, who said before the match that she had been unlucky to be drawn against the likes of Justine Henin and the Williams sisters in the early rounds of recent Grand Slams, made the most of her chance against the unfancied Pole.

The opening games went to serve as Radwańska and Hantuchová, who had only played each other once before, probed for weaknesses.

Hantuchová, enjoying a significant height-advantage over the Pole, opted to attack the net, and was rewarded with a service-break in the fourth game.

"At the beginning, I was a little bit tight, but once I warmed up, I felt like I was hitting the ball well, and tactically I think I played quite a smart game," she said.

Hantuchová received a warning for time-wasting when serving in the fifth game, but retained her composure to go up 4-1.

Radwańska risked being overwhelmed as Hantuchová pushed her to break-point, but held on, unable to prevent the Slovakian making it 5-2 in the next game.

The Pole then scrambled to save five set-points - two of them with aces - in the next, but then netted a forehand return to concede the first set after 40 minutes.

She tried to regather, stretching out the first game of the second set for nine minutes, but Hantuchová's experience won out, and she went on to score another break in the next.

Radwańska never recovered and looked a spent force as Hantuchová ran away with the second set.

The Pole managed to stop Hantuchová serving out the set at 5-1 but the Slovak then broke her again to win the match after 87 minutes.
<<<

Hantuchová into semi-finals, back among the women's elite after reaching Australian Open semis
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová was on the brink of becoming one of the Tour's elite women's players five years ago.

At the Australian Open on Wednesday, she finally took another step to fulfilling the promise.

When Hantuchová reached the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open quarter-finals in succession to earn a career-best ranking of No. 5 in 2003, many predicted a Grand Slam title would be just around the corner.

It didn't work out that way.

In the ensuing years, the Slovak player faced a series of personal trials, and her ranking plummeted to No. 31 at the end of 2004.

With newfound confidence and maturity, the ninth-seeded Hantuchová will play her first Grand Slam semi-final after easing past No. 29 Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 on Wednesday.

Now she feels she's where she was always destined to be: among the top women's players in a Grand Slam semi-final.

"I just needed to improve myself mentally, to believe it," she said. "I had people around me saying it to me. It was a matter of time for myself starting to believe that, too. I definitely feel like I belong there, as well."

And despite the tough times, there are no regrets over the path she took.

"I do believe strongly that everything happens for a reason," she said.

Hantuchová has learned a lot of lessons from the lean times, including the realisation that it's okay to make mistakes.

"I always wanted to have everything perfect. I just realised that things are not always going to go your way, and sometimes you have to work for them. And sometimes it's going to be tough," she said. "But it's the same in life. You have to get through some difficult times."

Hantuchová dominated her quarter-final from the opening game on Wednesday, taking the first set and a 4-0 lead in the second.

Radwańska then broke serve and held to stay in it, before Hantuchová closed out.

The relief was palpable.

"I guess I had to get through all the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage," Hantuchová said. "That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more."

Not that Hantuchová missed every opportunity after 2003.

In 2005, while partnering with India's Mahesh Bhupathi, Hantuchová added the French Open and US Open mixed-doubles titles, to the ones she collected at Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2001 and 2002. That puts her in a league with one-time mentor Martina Navrátilová, Margaret Court and Billie Jean King who have completed mixed-doubles Grand Slams.

Now her focus has shifted squarely to a Grand Slam singles-title.

"After winning all four Grand Slams, I kind of retired," she said. "I felt like it's time to move on and focus on my singles."
<<<

Ivanović comes through vs. Williams (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Beating Williams for the first time in five meetings, Ivanović set up a semi-final encounter with No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová, who took down Agnieszka Radwańska earlier in the day.

Ivanović figures to be the clear-cut favourite to emerge from the bottom of the draw, especially after the rising star Radwańska had her surprising run halted [hmph!].

Despite being five years removed from her last appearance in the quarter-finals of a Major, Hantuchová had a comfortable win over Radwańska.

Hantuchová made the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career with a 6-2 6-2 victory over the 29th-seeded Pole on Rod Laver Arena.

"I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times," Hantuchová said. "Yeah, I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis. It means a lot."

This was the fourth time that Hantuchová had been in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, with the last coming here in 2003 in a straight-sets loss to Venus Williams.

"I guess I had to get through all, you know, the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage," she said. "That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more. I'm definitely enjoying it and really happy."

Radwańska was unable to exert any real pressure on the Slovakian, despite showing glimpses of the form that had allowed her to upset second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 14th-seeded Nadia Petrova on her way to the round of eight.

It was Hantuchová who struck first with a break early in the opening set before converting a sixth set-point on Radwańska's serve to take it 6-2.

The Pole managed to pressure the ninth seed's serve at the start of the second set, but Hantuchová held on before breaking Radwańska once again. Another break saw Hantuchová race into a 4-0 lead, but the 18-year-old Radwańska hit back with one of her own.

The Slovakian broke again immediately afterwards to move to the brink of victory, but Radwańska was still fighting, securing another break with a forehand down the line.

However, it merely delayed the inevitable as Hantuchová wrapped up the match with a forehand that her opponent was unable to return.

Radwańska had beaten the 24-year-old Hantuchová in the only previous encounter: a second-round matchup in Zürich in October.

"Actually, I was playing against Daniela in Zürich, in winter, so not so long time ago," Radwańska said. "I beat her in two sets. But today was different. You know, she was playing very good. I made a few mistakes. I also have many chances, but I didn't use it. So next time."

Struggling with her serve, Radwańska was unable to put together the kind of comeback she had in her fourth-round match against Petrova. Despite facing deficits of 0-3 and 4-5 in the second set, the Pole rallied for a 1-6 7-5 6-0 win.

An owner of just one career singles-title, Radwańska was playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
<<<

Hantuchová reaches last four
By Pippa Davis (Eurosport)
>>>
Ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time with an impressive 6-2 6-2 win over talented teenager Agnieszka Radwańska at the Australian Open.

Hantuchová was in control from the very first game, and only at the end suffered a bout of nerves that saw her drop serve twice before breaking to close out the match.

Radwańska, playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, looked nervous and restricted throughout, failing to really compete with Hantuchová until it was too late in the final couple of games.

The 24-year-old Slovak is currently enjoying some of the best form of her life, and opened with a love service-game before breaking in the fourth and eighth games to seal the first set with ease.

Hantuchová then looked to be cruising towards a comfortable second set win as she broke in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead.

But the nerves, that have never been too far away from Hantuchová's game, began to kick in as she headed towards the end of the match, and Radwańska broke back to apply some pressure.

However, while the Pole was able to break serve, she was unable to hold and was broken again in the sixth game, before Hantuchová broke for a sixth time to seal the win with a blistering forehand passing-shot down the line.

Hantuchová will now face fourth seed Ana Ivanović in the semi-finals after the Serb dismissed Venus Wililams 7-6 6-4.

Daniela Hantuchová said: "I kept believing, and here I am in the semis. It feels great. Every tennis-player knows what I'm talking about when you get to that point when you feel like everything you touch is going in, and I want to go on as long as possible. At the beginning, I was a little bit tight, but once I warmed up, I felt like I was hitting the ball well, and tactically I think I played quite a smart game."

Agnieszka Radwańska said: "I was trying everything in first set and then second set. She was playing very good. She was playing very long balls, close to the baseline. It was very hard to play. I made a few mistakes. I also had many chances, but I didn't use [them], and the last points always she did better. I tried my best, but [it was] not my day. I'm very happy that I did my first quarter-final. I beat two Russian good players [Svetlana Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova], both seeded. So I'm happy."
<<<

Ivanović Finally Overcomes Williams; Hantuchová Next
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1998
>>>
Ana Ivanović and Daniela Hantuchová both defied the odds on Wednesday; having never taken a set off of their quarter-final foes, they powered into the Australian Open semi-finals in straight sets.

First to advance was No.9 seed Hantuchová, who fired 27 winners during a 6-2 6-2 victory against No.29 seed Agnieszka Radwańska. In their only previous encounter a few months ago at the indoor tournament in Zürich, it was Radwańska who eased to victory 6-3 6-3; but this time it was Hantuchová who was on her game, winning through to her career-first Grand Slam singles semi-final.

"I had to play well to get that score," Hantuchová said. "I was very proud of how I handled this situation - I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which at times I think I did. I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis."

"I tried my best, but it just wasn't my day; she was playing very well and I made some mistakes, so next time," Radwańska said. "But I'm happy that I reached my first Grand Slam quarter-final - I beat two good Russian players, both seeded. So I'm happy."

Although it's only the beginning of the season, reaching the final four in Australia is something of a culmination of a return-to-form last 12 months for Hantuchová, who won the second WTA Tour singles-title of her career at Indian Wells last February, and has since returned to the Top 10 and won her third career-title: at Linz last November. Her best results at the Majors were three quarter-final finishes in 2002 and 2003; now, five years later, she reaches her very first Major semi, with a realistic shot at her first final.

"I think it means a lot - I guess I had to get through all the tough times and get experience to get to this stage. That's why I appreciate moments like this much, much more. It's going to be a new experience for me. Whoever I play, it's going to be a tough match. But I have nothing to lose. I'm in a great position. I'm just looking forward to being out on the court again."
<<<

4.2 Daniela's quarter-final press-conference
--------------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com

Q. Was the match as easy as the scoreboard indicated?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, definitely was a tough match. I mean, I really had to play well in order to get that score. I was real proud how I handled the situation. I felt like I had a great opportunity to win this match, but I still had to go out there and play my best, which I think I did at times.

Yeah, I'm just extremely happy to be in the semis.

Q. Is this an extension to your good form of last year?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I don't know. I don't look at it like that. I just try to give my best in every match. Obviously it's a great start for this year. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Yeah, I mean, it's been great the last few months. I just hope to continue like this.

Q. Do you think it might be a different story if you didn't get rid of your doubles-game?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I don't really think about that at all. I think all the top players do that. Once you know you are in the later stages of the singles-tournament, you want to just focus on that.

Yeah, I think it was important that I save my energy for this match today.

Q. Is it a nice change to have everyone talking about your tennis as opposed to things going on in your personal life or your appearance?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, definitely that's what I always try to say, that I think we should be recognised more for what kind of athletes we are than perhaps the way we look and what kind of stuff we do outside the court. I think all of that, once we get on the court, we just want to play our best tennis, and don't really care what we look like.

Q. You've been playing a number of years now. First Grand Slam semi-final. What does this mean to you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: It means a lot. I guess I had to get through all, you know, the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage. That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more. I'm definitely enjoying it and really happy.

Q. Do you notice anything you're doing differently this time that got you to this stage?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Like I said already a couple days ago, I think I realised that it's okay to do mistakes and it's okay to not always play my best tennis. But, you know, it's a nice challenge to have to always find a way how to get through a match, even not playing well. And I think it's something that I've improved a lot the last few months.

Q. In the past, when you would make those mistakes, what would go through your head?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I would just get too hard on myself and was not able to forgive myself any mistakes. I always wanted to have everything perfect. Yeah, I just realised that, you know, things are not always going to your way, and sometimes you have to work for them. And sometimes it's going to be tough, but it's the same in life. You have to get through some difficult times.

But at the end of the day, if you always give your best, you can feel good about yourself.

Q. How much do you miss Kim Clijsters?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, I've been thinking about her a lot because last year I lost to her here. Now she's expecting baby. She's been such a great friend of mine. I was just so happy the way things worked out for her. She's very, very happy with her family and the baby and stuff.

So, yeah, I'm just very happy for her.

Q. Are you in touch still?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah.

Q. Have you spoken to her during the tournament?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Not during the tournament. But before we texted each other.

Q. Did you get nervous serving for the match the first time?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Not really, no. That's always going to be the tougher side because of the sun. So I didn't really see too much after hitting the serve. I was kind of just guessing where the ball was going.

Yeah, I was not really too tight.

Q. Is it tough playing out there? The match at the moment: six of the first seven games went against serve.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: It's not easy, especially on the side you are against the sun, especially this time of day, it's really tough. Sometimes people don't realise, you know, that there are effects like sun or wind that we have to manage. Yeah, it was also pretty hot. But thank God there was no wind. So no complaints.

Q. Can you tell us how working with Marco has helped you out?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, he's been such a great help to my game, too, obviously joining the Sánchez/Casal Academy has helped me incredibly improve my game. I think physically Marco has been a great help for me. Having a team around me like this gives me a lot of confidence, and I'm really happy with them.

Q. How did you come across each other?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: A friend of mine suggested him. I mean, I heard that he was very, very good, which he obviously is. We tried it for a couple of weeks and it worked out well so we kept going.

Q. Are you surprised a little bit that, as good as you were even five years ago, that it took you this long to reach a semi-final of a Grand Slam?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Not really. I mean, I guess everybody has different times when they mature more. And I guess, like I said, I had to go through all those times and opportunities that I missed to be able to get here.

I do think a lot about things, so maybe it just took me a little bit longer. But I'm happy for every experience I had to go through.

Q. You see other players walk around, like the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. They give the sense they feel as though they should be in Grand Slam finals. Do you feel you should be in a Grand Slam final?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Oh, definitely I feel like my game always belonged there. I just needed I guess to improve myself mentally, to believe it. I had people around me saying it to me. It was a matter of time actually myself starting to believe that, too.

I definitely feel like I belong there as well.

Q. Was there a moment that you can remember believing that - a specific moment made you think you do belong?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, it's tough to say. I don't really remember the moment when it happened. I think it was just a matter of time, as well.

Q. You'll face a stiff test either way in the semi-finals. You'll probably know whether your game is at the point you can beat an elite player. What do you have to do to bring your best?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, it's going to be, again, a new experience for me, which I'm really excited about. Either way, whoever I play, it's going to be a tough match.

But I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position. I'm feeling like I'm playing well. I'm just really looking forward to be out on the court again and give my best, and see what happens.

Q. Could you clarify for us how many languages you speak?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Slovak, which is my native language. Obviously, with that you can understand Czech, Croatian a little bit. German, English. Little bit Italian as well.

Q. How would you rate your opponent's game today compared to your last meeting in Zürich last year?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, I knew I had to play really well to be able to [beat?] Agnieszka. That's why I'm really proud the way I handled it. She's tough. I thought she was playing well. But I felt like I didn't give her too many chances to get into the match. I felt like I did everything right that I supposed to.

I think tactically I played quite a smart game.

Q. You said it's taken you some time to build the maturity and experience to be able to play at this level. Have you got any regrets from the past five years?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Absolutely not. I do believe strongly that everything happens for a reason.

Q. Do you still have any time to play piano?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Not too much any more. I mean, occasionally sometimes a little bit. But, yeah, I've been pretty bad on that.

Q. Is it something that in the past helped you to relax?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, it was a great way to relax, especially after a tough practice, tough day at school. I came back home and I had to practise for like 45 minutes every day. I was always so tired and sometimes falling asleep there.

But, yeah, it was really helping me to relax and just completely get away from everything.

Q. What are your favourite types of pieces to play when you do have time?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, I used to play all the classical things, so Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, that kind of stuff.

Q. The easy stuff?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: That's more difficult than I think the normal songs.

Q. For your home-country, I think you're the best Slovakian player so far going that far. Does it mean something for you coming from that small country?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, obviously it makes me very, very proud. I think, like you said, we are a small country. But I think we've got a great people. Being, you know, one of them, it's a great pleasure and honour. I always said it's so nice to be able to represent my country.

I can't really say if I'm the best or not. I'm sure there's been a lot of great players before me, and hopefully after me. But it's definitely nice to be part of that.

Q. Will you celebrate this victory, or do you have to put it behind you immediately and focus on the semi-finals?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Just focus on the semi-finals. Obviously there will be time after the tournament when I can sit back and enjoy all this. But at this stage of the tournament, I just want to focus on my next match, relax as much as I can tonight. But tomorrow is another day. I want to make sure I'm prepared as well as I can.

Q. How much does the doubles-game help you to be successful in singles?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, I think definitely it helped me a lot to improve my game, coming to the net, having to serve and volley. Especially playing mixed doubles, having to return the guy's serves.

For me doubles and mixed doubles, it's just been always about fun, going out there and really enjoying the game.

Yeah, I had some great memories, especially from the Grand Slams. It's been nice to be able to play those parts of the events, as well.

Q. You're not playing mixed doubles here. Is there any reason?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: After winning all four Grand Slams, I kind of retired, felt like it's time to move on and focus on my singles.

----------------------------------------------
5. Quarter-final: Ivanović v Williams articles
----------------------------------------------

+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 7-6 (7/3) 6-4

Ivanović storms into semi
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Exciting Serbian star Ana Ivanović is one match away from her second Grand Slam final after downing Venus Williams to reach the Australian Open semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old No.4 seed claimed one of the game's biggest scalps - and a six-time Grand Slam winner - in straight sets, 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.

It was her first-ever win over Williams, pushing the world No.3 into a semi-final clash with Daniela Hantuchová, having last year reached the decider at the French Open.

Ivanović took a mistake-laden but thrilling first set in a tiebreak after both players traded blow-for-blow over 55 absorbing minutes.

Neither player was able to get her service-game going - six games going against serve - and the trend continued early in the tiebreak.

The Serbian won two points on Williams' serve to take a stranglehold on the tiebreak, eventually winning 7/3.

Williams, her left thigh heavily strapped, hinted at a revival when she broke Ivanović at 1-0 in the second set.

But the advantage was lost when Ivanović broke back at 3-1.

The Serbian set up victory when she broke Williams again at 4-4, holding serve after saving two break-points to take the match.

Ivanović, who has family in Melbourne and has been adopted by the centre-court crowd, shrieked with delight after her victory.

"It's amazing. You helped me to get through that second set," she told the crowd. "I'm thrilled because I love playing here, and I'm thrilled to be through."
<<<

Ivanović digs deep to beat Venus
By Chris Bevan
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7203935.stm
>>>
Third seed Ana Ivanović was pushed all the way by Venus Williams before edging to a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory in a tense Australian Open quarter-final.

Neither player could hold their serve in a pulsating first set, which Ivanović eventually won in a tiebreak.

Williams came out fighting in the second, but was reeled in by Ivanović's punishing forehand, and the Serb held her nerve to close out the match.

Ivanović will play Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchová in the last four.

Hantuchová, 24, marched into her first Grand Slam semi-final by thumping Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska.

That match was completely one-sided, but Ivanović had to work much harder to end the challenge of Williams - the eighth seed - in one hour and 46 minutes.

Both players were returning serve ferociously, and it was not a great surprise that there were six breaks in the first set.

But it was Williams who was making more unforced errors, with her backhand volley particularly unreliable, and two of them ended up in the net in quick succession as Ivanović took the tiebreak.

The former world number one was stung into action and, briefly, her serve regained its reliability to help her move 3-0 up in the second set.

Ivanović kept her cool, however, and some stinging crosscourt forehands helped her break back and move level again.

The accuracy of the Serbian's groundstrokes was the difference between the two players, and two more mistakes from Williams gave Ivanović another break at 5-4.

Williams raised her game again, but Ivanović served her way back to deuce before closing out a famous victory: her first over the American in five attempts.

"I'm just so happy I pulled through the whole two sets," Ivanović said. "It was an amazing match; we had lots of long rallies; she's an amazing competitor, and she was also playing very well today."

Ivanović, who has family living in Melbourne, was roared on by a vocal crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, and was quick to pay tribute to her fans.

"It's amazing. Thank you guys so much: you helped me get through that second set," the 20-year-old said. "Most of all, I'm thrilled that it happened here because I just love playing here, and I'm so comfortable here on court."

Williams, meanwhile, refuted claims that her defeat was further indication that she is a waning force in women's tennis.

"There has been a lot of talk every single year," she said. "I think what's important to me is what goes on in my head. I've been a champion.

"I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis, and to continue to be a champion."
<<<

Ivanović downs Venus to reach semis (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
Serbia's Ana Ivanović kept her nerve under pressure to beat American Venus Williams 7-6 6-4 on Wednesday and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

In an error-strewn encounter, the fourth seed came from 0-3 down in the second set to earn her first win in five meetings with eighth seed Williams, setting up a semi-final against Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia.

"It's amazing: it was an amazing match and I'm just so thrilled to be through," Ivanović said in a courtside interview.

"We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor. She was also playing really well, I thought, as well."

Neither player was at their best in a first set that saw six service-breaks. Ivanović led 4-2 at one stage as Williams, who wore heavy strapping on her left thigh, seemed to be struggling to get her usual power on serve.

The American hit back to force a tiebreak, though, only to lose it 7/3 as Ivanović moved ahead.

Wimbledon-champion Williams, runner-up here in 2003, hit back strongly at the start of the second as she took a 3-0 lead, but Ivanović won five of the next six games to serve for the match at 5-4.

CLINCHED VICTORY

After falling 15/40 down, she dug deep to save both break-points, and finally clinched victory when Williams sent a forehand wide.

Ivanović said her improved fitness-regime had helped her become a more consistent competitor.

"I always struggled with my fitness," she said. "In the last 18 months I have come so far, and become so much fitter, which also helps stop injuries. I am just so happy I could fight through."

Ivanović, who reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, said she expected a hard match against Hantuchová.

"She's definitely on a roll; she's playing some great tennis here. It's going to be a very hard match, and it's a semi-final but it is a great chance for both of us."
<<<

Venus ousted as Europeans dominate in Melbourne (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Europe tightened its stranglehold on this year's Australian Open when America's sole survivor in the women's singles, Venus Williams, was blasted out of the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Venus went the way of sister Serena, battered by a Serb baseliner, losing 7-6 6-4 to fourth seed Ana Ivanović.

"She played well and hit a lot of good shots, so I give her a lot of credit," the Wimbledon-champion said. "I have nobody to blame but myself."

Ivanović will meet Daniela Hantuchová in the semis after the Slovak pummelled Pole Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

Venus had been looking to avenge Serena's quarter-final loss to Serb Jelena Janković, but the result was the same as she floundered on a sun-drenched centre court.

The American simply committed too many errors, and allowed her 20-year-old opponent to dominate from the baseline.

GRABBED OPPORTUNITY

Ivanović grabbed her opportunity with both hands.

"It's amazing: it was an amazing match, and I'm just so thrilled to be through," Ivanović beamed in a courtside interview.

"We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor."
<<<

Fitter Ivanović shows steely Serb determination (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Fitter than ever before, and with a steely determination to succeed, a confident Ana Ivanović surged into the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Serbian fourth seed had never won a set in four previous meetings with Venus Williams, but outplayed the American 7-6 6-4 to reach the last four in Melbourne for the first time.

Together with Jelena Janković and Novak Đoković, Ivanović is one of three Serbians in the last four of the singles-events in Melbourne, matching their achievements at last year's French Open where Ivanović reached the final.

"I think from Eastern Europe, people are very, very determined to succeed," she told reporters.

"We are all big fighters and big competitors. Also Russians and Serbians. So I think it's very hard to [generalise], to say it's just from Eastern Europe. I think from all over the world, young players are coming up.

"It's amazing. We get a lot of support from back home. Every time I speak to my father back home, he always says how many people are following [their progress].

"I think it's great for our tennis, and it's becoming one of the major sports back home. Many kids are playing. It's just amazing to have two, three of us playing semi-finals at the Grand Slams. It's just like a dream coming true."

STRENUOUS REGIME

Ivanović said a strenuous regime with fitness-coach Scott Byrnes in the off-season had lifted her confidence and ability to fight through matches deep into the final sets.

"I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course," she said.

"I did a lot of stair-sprints, sprints up the hills, in a gym, and also a lot of footwork on the court: specific footwork.

"It's a lot of fun working with [Byrnes]. I worked with a lot of fitness-coaches previously, but I never had so much fun working out. So that's obviously a very positive thing."

Ivanović expects a tough match against Slovakian ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová in the semi-finals.

"We both have a good chance, and I really hope it will be a good match," she said.

"We had tough matches last time we played in Madrid, and also before that in Luxembourg, and once more also last year on grass. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
<<<

Venus fails again as Ivanović, Đoković win at Australian Open tennis
by Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
Ana Ivanović brought Venus Williams' Australian Open to a juddering halt on Wednesday as the impressive Novak Đoković ensured three Serbians will contest the semi-finals.

It was a sorry end for Williams, who was desperate to claim her first title at Melbourne Park to add to her four Wimbledon and two US Open crowns.

With her sister Serena, the defending champion, also out, it spelt the end of the tournament for the Williams' clan.

Ivanović, 20, overcame the American eighth seed in a ferociously-contested 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 thriller, and credited the crowd on centre court and her improved fitness for helping her into the last four for the first time.

"It was an amazing match; we had lots of long rallies; she's an amazing competitor and she was also playing very well today," the 20-year-old fourth seed said after posting her first win over Williams in four attempts.

"I'm just so happy I pulled through the whole two sets.

"Most of all, I'm thrilled that it happened here, because I just love playing here and I'm so comfortable here on court."

Williams played with her left thigh heavily strapped, but gave credit to her opponent. And she defiantly vowed to bounce back.

"I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis and to continue to be a champion," she said.

Standing between Ivanović and a final-appearance is Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchová, who blew Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska off court 6-2 6-2 as she continues her comeback after a dive in the rankings.

Ivanović will play ninth seed Hantuchová, ensuring at least one player in the final on Saturday will be contesting their first Australian decider.
<<<

Roger Federer downs James Blake 7-5 7-6(5) 6-4 to reach Australian Open semi-finals
By Paul Alexander: Associated Press Writer
>>>
Serbia has a population of 10 million - half the size of Australia, which has zero home-players left here. Despite a shortage of facilities, the country is churning out good players, just like the rest of Eastern Europe.

Ana Ivanović ousted Venus Williams 7-6(3) 6-4 on Wednesday, while Jelena Janković beat Serena Williams a day earlier.

Russia's Maria Sharapova, ranked fifth, plays No. 3 Janković next, while No. 4 Ivanović will play No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia, who beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 on Wednesday.

Ivanović had never won a set off Williams in four meetings, including the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open. But she has improved her fitness dramatically, and it showed. Williams, her left thigh heavily taped, put in a lacklustre performance.

"I'm just so, so happy I managed to step up and keep my composure," the 20-year-old Ivanović said.

Neither player showed any respect for the other's serve. The first set had six consecutive breaks. Williams shook her head and sighed after her 21 unforced errors.

Williams turned it around to start the second set, rushing to a 3-0 lead. She was really pounding the ball, her grunts of exertion sounding nearly like screams.

Ivanović refused to wilt. She broke back, then ran off the last three games, rallying from 15/40 as she served for the match.

"I have to give a lot of credit to her," Williams said. "She played really well, made a lot of good shots. She's definitely improved on everything in her game. That's really what it takes at this level. You want to keep improving and playing, because we're all improving."

The Williams sisters have 14 singles Majors between them, but their one-time dominance on women's tennis is under serious challenge.

"There's been a lot of talk every single year," Venus Williams said. "I think what's important to me is what goes on in my head. I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis and to continue to be a champion.

"And I think Serena and I, we don't have anything to prove. We get out there and we play our best. I don't get too caught up in what the next person thinks."
<<<

Ivanović comes through vs. Williams (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Ana Ivanović survived a tough encounter with Venus Williams to secure her place in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The fourth-seeded Serbian completed a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory to enjoy a first career-triumph over the No. 8 American and continue her stellar play since moving into the No. 3 spot in the world-rankings on 14th January.

Beating Williams for the first time in five meetings, Ivanović set up a semi-final encounter with No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová, who took down Agnieszka Radwańska earlier in the day.

"I worked very hard in my off-season," Ivanović said. "I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course, because it's important to realise that it has to be hard on your practice-court so it will be easier for you in your matches."

Ivanović has not lost a set at this $20.6 million hardcourt Major, reaching the round of four for the first time since Wimbledon last year. She had her run at the All-England Club ended by Williams, who went on to claim her fourth title there.

"I thought I played some good tennis to win today," Ivanović said. "I was looking forward for some revenge. I went out there, and from the first moment on, I tried to think only on each point."

In a first set that featured six breaks of serve in the opening seven games, Ivanović jumped into an early 2-0 lead before Williams hit back.

"Obviously, it was a little bit strange, beginning of the match," Ivanović said. "I thought we both felt more comfortable returning. So, you know, it was a little bit disappointing because in the previous matches, I was serving really well."

A crushing forehand off the serve of Williams then set up three break-points for the Serbian, which she secured when the American hit a return into the net.

Williams, playing with her thigh heavily strapped, fought back to make it 3-2, and neither player could subsequently hold serve until Williams did so for the first time to level the match at 4-4.

The set headed to a tiebreak, and Ivanović took control after reeling off five consecutive points before taking the upper hand in the match when Williams hammered a simple-looking backhand volley into the net.

A finalist here in 2003, Williams broke her opponent early in the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Ivanović broke back on the way to evening the match at 3-3. The 20-year-old then made the decisive breakthrough three games later by breaking Williams to give her a chance to serve for the match.

Despite slipping into a 15/40 hole, Ivanović battled back to deuce, and claimed victory when the American hit a forehand well wide.

"I think she [Ivanović] played good tennis today," Williams said. "Definitely I have to give a lot of credit to her. She played really well, made a lot of good shots. And, you know, I give her a lot of credit for playing good tennis.

"I think I moved, you know, okay today. I don't think I ran as many balls down, or played offensively on the defensive shot as well as I have in the past. And I think those things definitely make a difference in the match."

Ivanović figures to be the clear-cut favourite to emerge from the bottom of the draw, especially after the rising star Radwańska had her surprising run halted [as a Daniela Hantuchová fan, I say: hmph!].
<<<

Ivanović takes out Venus Williams in quarter-finals (AP)
>>>
Venus Williams followed her sister Serena out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals, both in losses to Serbian players.

Venus Williams went down 7-6(3) 6-4 to No.4-seeded Ana Ivanović on Wednesday: a day after defending champion Serena lost to No. 3 Jelena Janković.

Ivanović, who had never taken a set off Williams in four previous contests, is into the semi-finals for the third time at a Grand Slam and next faces first-timer Daniela Hantuchová, who beat Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

In the other women's semi-final on Thursday, Jankovic will meet No. 5 Maria Sharapova, who ended top-ranked Justine Henin's 32-match winning-streak 6-4 6-0.

After four straight losses to Williams, including the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open, 20-year-old Ivanović was thrilled to win.

"It was an amazing match and I'm just thrilled to get through," Ivanović said. "In the last 18 months, I've come a long way.

"She's an amazing competitor and she was playing very well today."

Neither Ivanović nor Williams showed any respect for the other's serve, which is usually one of the strongest parts of Williams' game.

There were six consecutive breaks in the first set alone, with Williams winning only two points in her three service-games during that stretch as Ivanović repeatedly hit winners off serve-returns.

Mistakes were so rampant that the crowd didn't have much to cheer for on a sun-drenched day. Shaking her head and sighing, Williams had 21 unforced errors in the first set to just seven winners as she sprayed the ball all over the court.

She won just one of her five service-points in the tiebreaker, covering her face with her hand after netting a straightforward backhand volley to give Ivanović a 5-2 edge.

Then, after swatting away flies as she prepared to serve, Williams hit a swinging backhand volley into the net on set-point.

Williams, her left thigh heavily wrapped almost to her knee, picked up her game dramatically to start the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. She was really pounding the ball, her grunts of exertion sounding nearly like screams.

But it didn't last as Ivanović broke back to get on serve. Then, after Williams fended off a break-point to take a 4-3 edge, Ivanović ran off the last three games, rallying from 15/40 as she served for the match.
<<<

Ivanović downs Venus
By Pippa Davis (Eurosport)
>>>
Third seed Ana Ivanović bundled Venus Williams out of the Australian Open, holding her nerve under extreme pressure to record a 7-6 6-4 win and book a spot in the semi-finals for the first time.

The 20-year-old Serb opened the match in a confident manner, holding her opening service-game before both players struggled to find their rhythm on serve.

Six consecutive breaks of serve later, it was Williams who managed to get her serve back on track first: holding to level up at 4-4.

Ivanović, though, was not to be outdone, and held for the loss of just one point in the ninth game before both players held once more to send the intense first set into a tiebreak.

Although Williams had played some of her best tennis in the early stages of the tournament, the match was dominated by Ivanović, who was hitting the ball hard from the outset.

Ivanović snatched the mini-break midway through the tiebreak, planting a forehand winner smack on the baseline, before going on to seal the set 7/3 with 55 minutes on the clock, when Williams dumped a routine backhand volley into the bottom of the net.

Williams upped her aggression at the beginning of the second set to shut Ivanović out of the game completely and race out to a 3-0 lead. But Ivanović struck back, holding her serve in the fourth game before winning three of the next four games to leave the set finely poised at 4-4.

The Serb then produced some of the most impressive tennis of the fortnight to break when Williams slapped another volley into the net, leaving Ivanović serving for the match.

Despite Williams earning herself two break-back points, Ivanović held her nerve with a service-winner and a second ace to level up at deuce, before the American thumped two unforced errors on the forehand side to concede the match.

Ivanović will now face ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová in the semi-finals after the Slovak beat Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 in her quarter-final.

Ana Ivanović said: "It's amazing: it was an amazing match, and I'm just so thrilled to be through. We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor. She was also playing really well, I thought, as well.

"I always struggled with my fitness. In the last 18 months, I have come so far, and become so much fitter, which also helps stop injuries. I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course. I am just so happy I could fight through."

Venus Williams said: "I think she's definitely improved on everything in her game. That's really what it takes at this level. You want to keep improving and playing, because we're all improving. I think it [heavy strapping on the thigh] helped me for it to not get worse. But I can't blame my loss on that. I think that she just played some good tennis. I never talk about my injuries. I don't like things to get too blurred up, if I was injured or not. I didn't win."
<<<

Ivanović Finally Overcomes Williams; Hantuchová Next
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1998
>>>
Ana Ivanović and Daniela Hantuchová both defied the odds on Wednesday; having never taken a set off of their quarter-final foes, they powered into the Australian Open semi-finals in straight sets.

Following Hantuchová into the semis was No.4 seed Ivanović, who overcame a 4:0 head-to-head deficit to Venus Williams - having never taken even a set off the No.8 seed - to reach her first Australian Open semi-final: 7-6(3) 6-4. The players were shaky on serve in the early goings, with six of the first seven games going against the server - but from 4-4, they held on tightly and would head to a tiebreak, where Ivanović came out on top: 7/3.

Things seemed headed in the exact opposite direction early in the second set, as Williams burst to a 3-0 lead while the errors started piling up on Ivanović's side. But the 20-year-old Serb regrouped, playing herself back into things with clutch serving and groundstrokes. She broke for 5-4, and just when it looked like the breaking-pattern was about to resume - she went down 15/40 in that game - Ivanović rebounded with four straight points to win the match.

"Obviously, it was a little bit of a strange beginning to the match," Ivanović said. "I think we both felt more comfortable returning. So it was a little disappointing, because in our previous matches I was serving really well. I am still really happy with my performance today though, especially the way I came back in that second set and won it. It was amazing."

"I have no one to blame but myself; I definitely could have made a couple more shots today," said Williams, who hit 35 errors to just 14 winners. "I have to take full responsibility. But I think she played good tennis today. I definitely have to give a lot of credit to her. She played really well and made a lot of good shots."

In addition to reaching her third Major semi-final, overcoming a disastrous head-to-head was the icing on the cake for Ivanović.

"It's definitely a great achievement for me," Ivanović added. "A few times I was close to winning the sets, especially the first time we played. So I knew she would go for her shots. I'm so, so happy I managed to step up and keep my composure and win the match."

In nine appearances at the Australian Open, Williams' best performance was a runner-up finish to Serena in 2003. But the 27-year-old American still hopes she will capture one of the two Majors to have eluded her.

"I think everyone's playing better," Williams stated. "Ana obviously hits a good ball. Everyone's hitting a good ball, trying to hit harder, trying to run faster and serve bigger. I feel like I can still do it just as well as the next person, and a lot of times better. So I still feel confident in my abilities.

"I would love to win here. I still think I can. Unfortunately, it won't be this year."
<<<

BBC Sport's game-by-game description of Ivanović v Williams:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7201655.stm

Ana's quarter-final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-23/200801231201075636662.html

Venus Williams: "Unfortunately, I don't have a time-machine, so I cannot reverse this loss. If any of you have one, please let me know."

-----------------------------
6. Semi-final draw / Previews
-----------------------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3] (DAVAI MARIA!!)
* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] (my loyalty is to Daniela)


6.1 Preview of lower semi-final
-------------------------------

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF]:
1r + Vania King, 6-3 7-5
2r + Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-5
3r + Virginia Ruano Pascual, 6-2 6-3
4r + MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 1-6 6-4 6-4
qf + AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29], 6-2 6-2

ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]:
1r + Sorana Cîrstea, 7-5 6-3
2r + Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3
3r + KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28], 6-3 6-4
4r + Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1 7-6 (7/2)
qf + VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 7-6 (7/3) 6-4

A mouthwatering semi-final full of talent and beauty, which guarantees that I will have at least demi-fanship interest in the final.

I saw Ana's second-round match on BBCi, and she was just awesome: hard hitting, spreading rallies, many winners - she looked like she could do whatever she wanted with the ball! But she did get nervous and tentative at 6-0 4-0*, and the scorelines of her other matches aren't so impressive - though I'm certainly very pleased that she got a win over a Williams-sister at last!

BBCi haven't televised Daniela so far this Australian Open - and nor will they, unless she reaches the final, or they have decency to show the semi-finals recorded tomorrow. In fact, the very last time I saw Daniela play was the end of her loss to Ana at the Sony Ericsson Championships in November 2007.

Ana had a stellar year in 2007, becoming the first player younger than Maria Sharapova ever to beat her (once by retirement, and again 6-2 6-1 in the French Open semi-finals), winning Berlin over world #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals by winning the match of the tournament over Nicole Vaidišová, and winning Los Angeles and Luxembourg.

Daniela is coming off what I consider to be the best year of her career in 2007 (by a narrow margin over 2002), and is so much stronger mentally than she was pre-2007. But she did wobble from 6-2 *4-0 in her quarter-final, and she wouldn't get away with that against Ana, who stays in a match like a wasp at a barbeque.

Daniela said: "It's going to be a new experience for me, which I'm really excited about. It's going to be a tough match, but I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position. I'm feeling like I'm playing well. I'm just really looking forward to being out on the court again, and giving my best and seeing what happens."

Ana said: "She's definitely on a roll; she's playing some great tennis here. It's going to be a very hard match, and it's a semi-final, but it is a great chance for both of us. We both have a good chance, and I really hope it will be a good match. We had tough matches last time we played in Madrid, and also before that in Luxembourg, and once more also last year on grass. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

Ana leads Daniela 2:1 head to head, with all three meetings in 2007. Daniela crushed Ana 6-3 6-1 at 's-Hertogenbosch, which was surprising after Ana had reached the French Open final, and given that she went on to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals!

Ana beat Daniela 3-6 6-4 6-4 in the Luxembourg-final, after Daniela had led 6-3 3-0* - not so much Daniela's choke as Ana's fightback. And Ana beat Daniela 6-2 7-6 (11/9) at the Sony Ericsson Championships - a 2h12m marathon with numerous deuces, and set-points for Daniela in the tiebreak.

So I don't expect Daniela to go quietly, although I have to say I would be astounded if she reached her first Grand Slam singles-final by beating Ana, who has improved even more during the off-season.

Ana is the player most likely to become the next first-time Grand Slam champion: perhaps even on Saturday, although Maria Sharapova is absolutely on fire at the moment, while Ana could struggle to get over the finishing-line. That's what Daniela has to look to exploit.


Ivanović Finally Overcomes Williams; Hantuchová Next
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1998
>>>
Hantuchová has been a difficult opponent for Ivanović. She won their first match on the grass of 's-Hertogenbosch last June comprehensively - 6-3 6-1 - and although Ivanović did win their other two meetings later that year, they were close: the Slovak was leading 6-3 3-0 before falling in three sets in the Luxembourg final, and held set-points in the second set of a two-set round-robin defeat in Madrid.

"We both have a good chance now, and I really hope it will be a good match," an elated Ivanović said. "We had tough matches last time we played: in Madrid, and before that in Luxembourg. I think it's going to be an interesting match, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
<<<

6.2 Articles about all semi-finalists
-------------------------------------

Fresh faces feature on semi-final day
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
No Venus. No Serena. And no Justine. For the first time since 2002, the surname Williams or Henin won't feature on the Rod Laver Arena scoreboard when this year's Australian Open women's final is played on Saturday.

Day 11 of the Melbourne Park tournament on Thursday sees four players - Daniela Hantuchová, Ana Ivanović, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Janković - slug it out on a semi-final day with a difference.

Sharapova meets Janković in the first of the afternoon's centre-court battles before making way for the intriguing Hantuchová-Ivanović clash.

In a clear sign there is a changing of the guard in the women's game, Sharapova is the only one of the four semi-finalists with a Grand Slam title to her name.

"I think it's interesting for everyone to see new faces and fresh faces," Ivanović said. "Most of us are very young - Maria is 20, Jelena is 22, Daniela also very young [24] - so I think it's great for women's tennis."

"We all have a great opportunity here this year. It's just a matter of who can stay stronger and do it."

Hantuchová is the only one of the four without Grand Slam semi-final experience.

But Ivanović insists that doesn't give her a clear advantage.

"She's had a great run. She had a lot of good wins," the Serb said. "Obviously there is no easy match in a Grand Slam. But she obviously has a lot of confidence coming into the semi-final. It's going to be a very tough match."

Hantuchová countered: "It's going to be a new experience for me, which I'm really excited about. It's going to be a tough match, but I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position."

"I'm feeling like I'm playing well. I'm just really looking forward to being out on the court again, and giving my best and seeing what happens."

Sharapova holds a 3:1 win-loss record over Janković but is taking nothing for granted.

"Previous matches don't count. This is a new encounter, a new match," she pointed out. "This is a great opportunity for both of us. I'm very excited about the match-up."

"Ever since the juniors, we've always played really tough and we've always battled it out, and it's great to see her in the semis."
<<<

With Henin, Williams sisters out, it's all eastern Europeans at the Australian Open semis
By Dennis Passa: AP Sports Writer
>>>
With the Williams sisters and No. 1 Justine Henin gone, the Australian Open women's semi-finals are an all-eastern-European affair.

And two not-so-similar Serbians are in the hunt for their first Grand Slam singles-title.

No. 3 Jelena Janković and No. 4 Ana Ivanović both advanced to last year's French Open semi-finals, signalling the start of a Serbian move into the top five of women's tennis.

At this year's Australian Open, the two could meet in the final, if Janković can get past Maria Sharapova in one of Thursday's semi-finals and Ivanović, who beat Venus Williams 7-6(3) 6-4 in the quarter-finals Wednesday, beats Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia in the other.

The two Serbians share only their nationality: Janković is outspoken, whereas Ivanović has a quiet manner about her and is more private, describing herself as "sensitive" in her WTA Tour biography.

Ivanović is taking a finance course by correspondence, reads Greek mythology, listens to pop and rhythm-and-blues music, and has studied Spanish. Janković likes techno music, considers herself competitive, and learned French at a diplomatic school in Serbia.

On the court, they become more similar: both are right-handed with two-handed backhands that produce powerful groundstrokes.

Ivanović says tennis is growing in Serbia, which has a population of just over 10 million.

"We get a lot of support from back home," she said. "Every time I speak to my father, he always says how many people are following us. I think it's great for our tennis, and it's becoming one of the major sports back home.

"It's just amazing to have two of us playing semi-finals at a Grand Slam: a dream coming true."

Janković has lost three of four matches against Sharapova, and the two were junior teammates together at a Florida tennis-academy. Sharapova lost last year's final here to Serena Williams, but looked ever so powerful in ending Henin's 32-match winning-streak in the quarter-finals this year.

The last time Janković and Sharapova played - at the Birmingham grasscourt tournament last year - Janković beat the Russian in three sets, including 7-5 in the decider. Sharapova has beaten Janković twice on hard courts, including the US Open's second round in 2004.

Sharapova says that makes little difference to her.

"Previous matches don't count; this is a new encounter, a new match," Sharapova said. "Ever since the juniors, we've always played really tough and we've always battled it out, and it's great to see her in the semis."

Janković beat defending champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals: one of the biggest wins of her career.

The 22-year-old Janković has been nursing a variety of injuries since straining her right hamstring at the Hopman Cup in Perth. As well, she says she's sore all over.

"They put me in an ice-tub, and I freeze, actually, to kind of help my muscles recover," Janković said. "But I'm doing fine. I just wanted my body to get stronger so that I can play without pain. But it just shows that I'm not really in the best shape."

Hantuchová, who beat Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland 6-2 6-2 on Wednesday, is playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final. She made the quarter-finals of three straight Grand Slams - Wimbledon and the US Open in 2002, and the Australian Open in 2003 - but it's been a dry spell since.

"I guess I had to get through all the tough times and get experience in order to be able to get to this stage," said No. 9-seeded Hantuchová, who is the oldest of the semi-finalists at 24. "That's why I can appreciate moments like this much, much more."

Ivanović leads their career head-to-heads 2:1, all in 2007. Ivanović beat her at the WTA Tour Championships in November, including an 11/9 score in the second-set tiebreak.

Hantuchová was asked before she knew her semi-final opponent - Ivanović or Venus Williams - what kind of match she expected.

"You'll face a stiff test either way in the semi-finals," Hantuchová said. "But I've got nothing to lose. I'm in a great position."

Ivanović agreed.

"She's had a great run, a lot of good wins," Ivanović said. "She obviously has a lot of confidence coming into the semi-final."
<<<

Serb women and Nadal ready for final push
Editing by Ossian Shine (Reuters)
>>>
A first all-Serbian Grand Slam final is on the cards when Jelena Janković and Ana Ivanović tackle Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchová in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Fifth seed Sharapova, fresh from her straight-sets demolition of world number one Justine Henin, has won three of her four matches against Janković, and will fancy her chances of reaching the Melbourne Park final for the second successive year.

The Russian - a former Wimbledon and US Open champion - has cruised through the draw, and produced a scintillating performance to knock out top seed Henin.

But third seed Janković ousted champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals, and seems to be making light of recent injury-problems.

Ivanović made it a Serbian double over the Williams sisters when she proved too strong for Venus, and the fourth seed has beaten Slovakian Hantuchová twice in three matches.
<<<

------------------
7. Andrew's wishes
------------------
7.1 Final wish
--------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]

My Reason says that Maria totally deserves to win this tournament now. But my Passion wants to make Daniela a Grand Slam champion too!

---------------------------
8. Nicole Vaidišová article
---------------------------

Vaidišová's coach worried about fitness (Eurosport)
Vašek Kadlec translated from Sport
>>>
Aleš Kodat - stepfather and coach of Nicole Vaidišová - says that he is concerned about the Czech number one's fitness after her fourth-round loss at Melbourne.

Vaidišová lost her bid to return to the semi-finals at the Australian Open last week, falling to defending champion Serena Williams 6-3 6-4.

Q: How would you describe the period of time Nicole has been going through now in her career? She has not won any tournament in last two years.

KODAT: She takes part in the toughest tournaments: Grand Slams, Tier I and Tier II tournaments. It makes no difference that she has not won a tournament for some time. It is more important for her to reach 100% of her performance. There is no sense in speaking about figures now. It is necessary to make the work with maximum effort, about as possible as it can be. What that will bring, we will see.

Q: At what percentage has Nicole developed her potential, then?

KODAT: I will say 75%. She is capable of playing better in some aspects. She has to have a better movement and make fewer mistakes.

Q: Movement: that is the attribute she used to be better at in the past.

KODAT: On the other hand, she is now better in reading the game. That gets improved with increasing age and number of matches played. But yes, unambiguously I am aware that she moved better in Paris or Wimbledon last year.

Q: It is clear to see that Nicole has put on weight. That must limit her.

KODAT: It is definitely the reason for how she moves nowadays. She has reserves in it, I agree.

Q: When you remind her about this issue, how she reacts?

KODAT: I remind her such things, but she has her fitness-coach, so that is more his job.

Q: Tell me, how different is it to direct a young girl when 16 years old, and now when she is more of an adult?

KODAT: It is natural that a girl of this age wants to have her way, to have her own opinions on certain things. And I can understand that. Earlier, I used to give orders; nowadays, I rather give my recommendations and leave it to her to decide what is useful and what is not, so that she can try out if it works or not.

Q: So you feel that she puts up with you less?

KODAT: <sighs> I don't think so. She just wants to put through her opinion, although it is not a good one in my opinion and considering my experience. I have a heart for it; I told it to Nicole as well. At her age, a human behaves simply against everything.

Q: Revolts?

KODAT: Yes. Although in the extreme conditions of the professional tennis-world, he or she should not afford that. As I say, in 90% of cases, I am just recommending her what she should do, and am trying to convince her that it works.

Q: This is a very important year for Nicole. Aren't you afraid that her career can take a wrong course?

KODAT: Already in the last year, we were saying this would be an important year, and she was not so mature to achieve great results. And we are again at results... I will tell you this: I am convinced that Nicole just needs to work at 100% and show a fair amount of work. I cannot imagine that she could be going downwards in the rankings if she went according to my training-plan.

Q: Nicole is in love with another tennis-player: Radek Štěpánek. First loves are part of growing-process; aren't you afraid that it could make her no good?

KODAT: She creates her private life. If there is anything she wants to know or she has any problems, I am willing to recommend her some things. I wish her to be happy, because then you can work well. If she is unhappy in her private life, then it will affect her on the courts. I wish her only to be happy.
<<<

-----------------
9. Girls' Singles
-----------------
9.1 Third-round results (Wednesday 23rd January)
-----------------------

What rocked:
+ Jessica Moore d. NOPPAWAN LERTCHEEWAKARN [7], 6-1 6-2

What sucked:
- KSENIA LYKINA [2] lt. Karen Barbat, 1-6 6-7 (3/7)


9.2 Quarter-final draw
----------------------

* Jessica Moore v Jasmina Tinjić (go Jessica!)

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

------------------------------
10. Order of Play for Thursday
------------------------------

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MD sf: Jeff Coetzee [S]/Wesley Moodie v (ARNAUD CLÉMENT/MICHAEL LLODRA)[7]
|
(not before 13:30 AEDT = 02:30 GMT)
WS sf: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3]
WS sf: DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] v ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
|
Rod Laver Arena: evening-session (start 19:30 AEDT = 08:30 GMT)
MS sf: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v RAFAEL NADAL [2]
XD qf: (CARA BLACK/PAUL HANLEY)[1] v (SUN,TIANTIAN/NENAD ZIMONJIĆ)[5]

Doesn't sound like BBCi has any plans to show the women's semi-finals! :fiery: In 2006, BBCi showed them recorded after the live men's match in the evening-session, but not in 2007.

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

andrewbroad
Jan 26th, 2008, 12:07 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Semi-final results
3. Semi-final: Sharapova v Janković review
4. Semi-final: Hantuchová v Ivanović review
5. Final-preview
6. Women's Doubles final
7. Girls' Singles
8. Order of Play for Saturday

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

Maria Sharapova:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/403/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html (those photos of Maria and Ana together have got to be fake!)

Daniela Hantuchová:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/99/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=hantuchova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta080394.html

Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311710.html

Jelena Janković:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/404/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=jankovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta100153.html

Sania Mirza (Mixed Doubles finalist):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/461/photos

Alyona Bondarenko (Women's Doubles champion):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/3812/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=bondarenko

Shahar Pe'er (Women's Doubles finalist):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/950/photos

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova
hantuchova
ivanovic
jankovic
mirza
bondarenko
shahar
dellacqua

Maria Sharapova, Daniela Hantuchová, Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković, the Bondarenko-sisters, and off-court Casey Dell'Acqua:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Various players including all four women's semi-finalists...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7206414.stm

...and the Bondarenko-sisters:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7208617.stm

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

---------------------
2. Semi-final results (Thursday 24th January)
---------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3], 6-3 6-1

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

------------------------------------------
3. Semi-final: Sharapova v Janković review
------------------------------------------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3], 6-3 6-1

Janković was suffering with a lower-back injury, and said she would have retired had it been something earlier than a semi-final. That's not to take anything away from another sensational performance by Maria in 1h18m.

In the first set, Maria did a little 'gagarooney' as she let a 5-0* lead become *5-3. At 6-3 4-0*, Janković held serve to stop Maria winning the second set 6-0 for the fourth match in a row!

Janković: "I was in pain. I took so many painkillers. I was telling the doctor - he said I'm going to overdose, and I want to live. As you know, it was a sad story that Heath Ledger died and he took so many things, so I was like saying to the doctor, 'Please don't let me take so many.' I still, I am only 22. I want to live."

Maria served 8 aces and compiled an impressive W:UE ratio of 30:20, while Janković's was a woeful 8:24. Maria won an amazing 16 of 17 points at the net, which makes her sound like quite the net-rusher!

Maria won 83% of the points when she got her first serve in - but that was only 55% of the time, and she won only 50% of her second-serve points, so she'll want to improve those stats for the final. Janković, on the other hand, only managed to win 45% of the points on her own serve.

Maria broke 5 times from 12 BPs, while Janković had just the one BP and converted it: when Maria served for the first set at *5-1.

I've uploaded articles about this match (and one about the Maria v Henin quarter-final) and Maria's semi-final press-conference to my website:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html

-------------------------------------------
4. Semi-final: Hantuchová v Ivanović review
-------------------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

Oh dear! Daniela led 6-0 2-0*, and also had a break-point at 3-2* in the third set - which went with serve until Daniela at *4-4 netted a forehand volley that should have been an easy putaway.

Daniela actually won more games (13-12) and more points (83-80) than Ana, and had better first-serve percentages (in and points won) than Ana - but if you ignore the first set, Ana's percentages were better. While they each had 7 BPs, Daniela broke 4 times (before 6-0 2-0), Ana just 3 times (after 6-0 2-0).

Daniela finished the match with a negative W:UE ratio of 27:33, while Ana's was a positive 29:25 (not surprisingly, these ratios were the other way round in the first set).

Daniela was cross during and after this match, because during her service-motion, she allowed herself to be distracted by the loud squeaking of Ana's shoes as Ana prepared to receive. Daniela complained to the umpire, and later to the press, who relayed Daniela's comments to Ana, putting the words "deliberately" and "gamesmanship" in Daniela's mouth, but Ana said she wasn't doing it deliberately to put Daniela off, and that Daniela was just "picking on it to get upset".

Without having watched the match myself, I tend to side with Ana on this issue. Squeaking shoes are a natural byproduct of good footwork on Plexicushion, and unless there is video 'footage' to show that Ana was squeaking her shoes on purpose, Daniela's complaint sounds as ridiculous as the accusations that Sania Mirza has dishonoured the Indian flag by putting her feet on it - the difference being that Daniela is not demanding a three-year jail-sentence.

Daniela complained that the umpire ignored her complaint, but it wouldn't have been right to give Ana a code-violation when you think it through. What was Ana supposed to do - stop moving? Play barefoot?

As a tennis-player, you can't let such distractions get to you like a dripping tap - you simply have to block them out.

I hope Daniela can learn from this loss rather than acquiring yet more psychological scars. It's very encouraging for 2008 that she has reached her first Grand Slam semi-final on top of all the great progress she made in 2007.

Daniela at 24 may be drawing ever closer to the average career-expectancy for a female tennis-player (26 seems to be the mode age for retirement in recent years, and no member of my Eternal Fanship has ever played a WTA singles-match in her 30s, though three of my eleven have reached their 30s now), but she's of a different stature now than when she was in her early tweens: a stature that could see her regularly reach Grand Slam quarter- and semi-finals.


4.1 Articles
------------

Ivanović sets up Sharapova final [CEEFAX 490->492]
>>>
Ana Ivanović will face Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final after a dramatic three-set win against ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová.

Hantuchová started much the stronger, and raced through the first set 6-0.

It took Ivanović, from Serbia, 45 minutes to win her first game, but she settled and took the second set 6-3.

The third set went with serve until 4-4, when three errors from the Slovak helped fourth seed Ivanović to break, and the Serb closed things out 6-4.
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Hantuchová blasts Ivanović tactic [CEEFAX 490->493]
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová has accused Ana Ivanović of gamesmanship after the Serb won their Australian Open semi-final.

Hantuchová, who let slip a 6-0 2-0 lead to lose 0-6 6-3 6-4, claimed she was regularly put off in serving by a squeak when Ivanović shuffled her feet.

"I was really surprised by that," said Hantuchová, claiming umpire Alison Lang ignored her early complaint.

"I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."
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Ivanović fights back to reach final [Teletext 495->499]
>>>
Ivanović stages comeback [Teletext 498]

Fourth seed Ana Ivanović produced a stirring comeback to book her place in the final at Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old Serbian defeated Slovakian ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4 to set up a meeting with Maria Sharapova in Saturday's final.

Ivanović was blown away in the first set, but recovered her composure, and took advantage of her powerful serve to seal a second Grand Slam final-spot.


Ivanović blames fatigue [Teletext 498]

Ana Ivanović felt her draining quarter-final win over Venus Williams played a part in her terrible start against Daniela Hantuchová in the semis.

The world No 3 lost the opening set 6-0, but bravely fought back to win the next two and reach Saturday's final.

Ivanović said: "I didn't have a day off in between, and the roof was closed, so it made it a lot faster. Playing Venus was emotional, and drained me a little."


Hantuchová made complaint [Teletext 498]

Daniela Hantuchová has revealed she made a complaint to the umpire because she felt the shoes of opponent Ana Ivanović were squeaking too loudly.

The Slovakian was bundled out of the semi-final in three sets, and felt Ivanović's shoes had been a major distraction while she was serving.

Hantuchová said: "I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. She's never done it when we played before."
<<<

Ana digs deep to down Daniela
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Ana Ivanović recovered from a disastrous start to pull off a remarkable semi-final win over Daniela Hantuchová in the second of the women's semi-finals at the Australian Open.

The Serb surrendered the first set before winning in three - 0-6 6-3 6-4 - in an incredible back-from-the-dead performance.

Hantuchová stunned the big Rod Laver Arena crowd by taking the first set in just 25 minutes.

It was the first time in 112 sets of Grand Slam tennis that Ivanović had been beaten to love.

History augured well for Hantuchová, who had won 49 of 53 Grand Slam matches after taking the first set.

Ivanović's problems on serve continued in the second set, the No.4 seed dropping the first game as Hantuchová held to take a 2-0 lead.

Lifted by the crowd, Ivanović held serve in her next game, and then broke Hantuchová to level at 2-2.

The turning point came at 4-3 when Hantuchová double-faulted to hand the Serb the game and a 5-3 advantage.

Ivanović served out the set to complete stage one of a remarkable comeback.

The third set went to serve until Ivanović broke at 4-4, giving her the impetus to go on and seal an incredible win.

"I tried to stay calm [after losing the first set], but it wasn't easy. I won because of you guys [the crowd]," Ivanović said.

"If it wasn't for you, I'd be booking my flight back home."
<<<

Frenchman Tsonga knocks Nadal out of Australian Open for a shot at title
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
On the women's side, No. 4 Ana Ivanović was down a set and a break against Daniela Hantuchová before rebounding for a 0-6 6-3 6-4 win to reach her second Grand Slam final.

Ivanović won her first game while down 0-2 in the second set. That brought cheers from the crowd, and she said it was inspiration.

She broke Hantuchová twice to make it one set apiece. After battling to hold serve in a 10-minute game that went to deuce seven times, she broke again, and served out to reach her second final in four Majors.
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Ivanović comes back from the dead to reach Aussie Open final (AFP)
>>>
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanović staged a barnstorming comeback from eight games down on Thursday to beat Slovak Daniela Hantuchová and set up an Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova.

Ivanović, backing up a day after a bruising scrap against Venus Williams, allowed ninth seed Hantuchová to run away with the match before roaring back to win 0-6 6-3 6-4.

The 20-year-old looked like wilting in humid conditions under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena, taking 46 minutes to win her first game, and reviving memories of her choke in last year's French Open final.

Urged on by the Melbourne Park crowd, the Serb clawed her way back into the match, admitting she was surprised at the intensity of an opponent in Hantuchová contesting her first Grand Slam semi-final.

"She was playing really good, and I was always on the back foot and always defending," Ivanović said.

"I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate. I tried to hang in there.

"But I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point, and that helped me a lot."

Ivanović will struggle to recover from such a slow start in the final against an in-form Sharapova, but can count on the support of the Melbourne Park crowd, which includes locally-based relatives and expatriate Serbs.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would be already booking my flight back home," the relieved world number three said after the win.

The Serbian beauty, who can live up to her billing as the next big thing in women's tennis with a tournament-win, said she was disappointed with her slow start, but encouraged by the way she fought back.

She also dismissed complaints from Hantuchová that the squeaking from her shoes as she prepared to return serve was an annoying distraction that contributed to the win.

"If you see other matches, I was doing exactly the same thing - it's just the way these courts play," she said.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional."

Ivanović, 20, began nervously as her serve misfired, double-faulting to go down a break in the opening game, and failing to score a point in the second.

The 24-year-old Slovak, who enjoyed an armchair-ride to the semis while Ivanović battled through a bruising clash with Venus Williams, looked fresher than her opponent.

Hantuchová stunned Ivanović to take the first set 6-0 after just 25 minutes.

Ivanović stretched the opening game of the second for eight minutes, but eventually conceded another break.

She finally held serve in the third game, and went on to score a crucial break back, for the first time unleashing some of the aggression that helped her down Williams.

The Serb's recent fitness-work, which included playing in sauna-like conditions at a British training-centre to prepare for Melbourne's heat, began to pay off as her movement improved late in the second set.

She claimed another break in the eighth game, then went on the defend serve with an ace and take the match to a third set.

It turned into a 59 minute minute arm-wrestle, Ivanović seizing the decisive break in the ninth game then serving out the match, slumping to the floor after Hantuchová netted a return to give her victory.
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Sharapova, Ivanović to battle for Aussie tennis Grand Slam (AFP)
>>>
A dogged Ana Ivanović staged a stunning comeback on Thursday to make the Australian Open final, where a sizzling Maria Sharapova stands between her and a maiden Grand Slam title.

The Serbian fourth seed looked dead and buried after going down 6-0 in the first set of her semi-final with Slovak ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová, but turned the tables in emphatic fashion to win the next two 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović looked like wilting in humid conditions with the roof of the Rod Laver Arena closed due to rain, taking 46 minutes to win her first game, and reviving memories of her choke in last year's French Open final.

But the 20-year-old recovered after allowing Hantuchová to rattle off eight straight games, cheered on by an ecstatic Melbourne Park crowd.

"She's a tough player, and I knew I had to go for my shots early in the rally, and it was frustrating because I couldn't make any - she was playing really well," she said, applauding the crowd for helping her regroup.

"I tried to stay calm as much as I could, but obviously it wasn't easy."
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Ivanović fights back to reach final (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serbian Ana Ivanović recovered from a terrible start to beat Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia 0-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the Australian Open final on Thursday.

Fourth seed Ivanović looked frozen with nerves as she dropped the first eight games of the semi-final, but as Hantuchová's level dipped, she recovered strongly to set up a final against Russian fifth seed Maria Sharapova.

Ivanović, runner-up at last year's French Open, said she had only had one thought when she trailed 0-6 0-2.

"To win a game," she laughed in a courtside interview. "It's actually not so funny. She's a tough playerm, and I knew I had to go for my shots early in the rallies and I was missing them. It was frustrating."

Ivanović was far too tentative at first as ninth seed Hantuchová, in her first Grand Slam semi-final, blasted winners on both sides, romping to a 6-0 2-0 lead.

The Serbian finally held serve in the third game of the second set, and suddenly the match changed as she became more aggressive, hitting her groundstrokes with much greater authority.

A fortunate netcord helped her break back for 2-2, and she then cruised through the rest of the set to level the match.

Hantuchová had a break-point that would have given her a 4-2 lead in the decider, but Ivanović held on before some great scrambling gave her a break when Hantuchová missed a simple volley.

The Serbian then showed no sign of nerves to serve out for victory after two hours, 10 minutes, and a disappointed Hantuchová did not look at Ivanović when the pair shook hands at the net.

Ivanović, who said she had struggled to focus after an emotional win over Venus Williams in the previous round, thanked the crowd for their support.

"I won just because of you guys," she said. "If it wasn't for you guys, I would be already booking my flight back home."

Ivanović said she hoped not to repeat the same mistakes when she plays Sharapova in the final on Saturday.

"She has had a great tournament, beating Justine [Henin]," Ivanović said. "We are 2:2 in matches, and hopefully I can start better than today."
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Sharapova, Ivanović take contrasting routes to final (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serb powerhouse Ana Ivanović staged a sensational fightback to reach the Australian Open final on Thursday, and will meet Maria Sharapova when she guns for a first Grand Slam title.

FIRST-SET WHITEWASH

The pair reached Saturday's showpiece in vastly contrasting styles, Sharapova pummelling Serb Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1, while fourth seed Ivanović recovered from a first-set whitewash to oust Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović won just nine points in the first set, and trailed 0-6 0-2 before pulling things around.

"It definitely was a disappointing start for me," the relieved 20-year-old smiled.

"I just had a feeling she was playing really good, and I was always on the back foot and always defending. I just couldn't find my rhythm. I tried to hang in there to stay with her."

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would be booking my flight home," she told the crowd.

Ivanović had looked finished when her Slovak opponent swept through the first set and broke early in the second.

Seemingly frozen with nerves, the fourth seed kept pounding away at her groundstrokes, however, and finally they began to pay off as Hantuchová's standard slipped.

She reeled her opponent in, and finally sealed what had seemed an unlikely victory in two hours, 10 minutes.
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Ivanović denies gamesmanship accusations (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serbia's Ana Ivanović denied accusations that she used gamesmanship during her 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchová in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

A disappointed Hantuchová let slip a 6-0 2-0 lead, and later criticised the fourth seed, saying the way she shuffled her feet before the server hits the ball, which results in loud squeaking, was off-putting and unfair.

"That was ridiculous, I think," Hantuchová told reporters.

"I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."

Hantuchová said she had complained to umpire Alison Lang.

"[I told the umpire] in the first or second service-game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that [the squeaking] was very nice."

But Ivanović said she did not deliberately make a squeaking-noise.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional," Ivanović said.

"If you see other matches, I was doing exactly the same thing. It's just the way these courts play. And if you listen to the guys, I think they're doing the same thing.

"Once I saw she was complaining [to the umpire]. But there was nothing I could do, because if I want to move my feet to return a ball, you know, this was the sound I was producing.

"And also, during the point, if I want to run with small steps around the ball, it was exactly the same thing. So maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."

Hantuchová gave Ivanović little more than a cursory handshake at the end, having thought the Serbian had not got to the ball on the first bounce on the point that gave the fourth seed the vital break in the final set.

But the Slovakian, appearing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, said she was just disappointed with her defeat.

"It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible.

"I thought it was a double bounce, but maybe it was just my mistake. I should have played the point anyway."

Despite the defeat, Hantuchová said her run to the last four promised much for the rest of the year.

"In the days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," she said.

"I proved once again, to myself, that if I play my game, I can beat anybody. It's just a matter of doing it for the whole match."
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Sharapova, Ivanović reach final (PA 'first prize' SportsTicker)
>>>
Maria Sharapova will get a chance to redeem herself in the Australian Open final.

The fifth-seeded Russian capped her dominant run through the top of the draw on Thursday with a 6-3 6-1 victory over No. 3 Jelena Janković in the semi-finals of the season's first Grand Slam.

Sharapova will be after her third Grand Slam title on Saturday when she faces fourth-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanović, who overcame a disastrous start to rally past No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová: 0-6 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović, who had not dropped a set here prior to her meltdown in the opening set, will be appearing in the second Grand Slam championship match of her career.

Ivanović was a runner-up to Henin at Roland Garros last season, and followed up that effort by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Hantuchová, her own worst enemy with 33 unforced errors and five double-faults, was bidding for her first Grand Slam final in this her 29th consecutive Major.

"It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think with days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," Hantuchová said. "I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year.

"I think I proved once again, myself, that if I play my game I can beat anybody. Just a matter of doing it for the whole match."

The 24-year-old Slovakian was strong early as she earned four consecutive breaks to capture the first eight games of the match.

A shell-shocked Ivanović finally started showing signs of life, securing her first break, and holding serve to forge a 3-2 edge in the second set.

"I had to calm down for today's victory," Ivanović said. "[Hantuchová] is a tough player, I had to go for my shots early in the rally, and it was frustrating because I couldn't make any."

Hantuchová double-faulted on the final point of the eighth game to hand a 5-3 lead to Ivanović, who served out the set without losing a point.

Both players held serve early in the third set, with Ivanović saving the first break-point of the set during an extended sixth game that included seven deuces.

Hantuchová was the first to blink at 4-4, as Ivanović gained a break on the heels of three unforced errors by the Slovak, who - trailing 30/40 - dumped a potential winner into the net.

Though friends off the court, Hantuchová was upset that her service-game was disrupted by Ivanović's stutter-step footwork - which resulted in sharp squeaking-sounds.

"That's ridiculous, I think," Hantuchová said. "I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it.

"[I told the umpire] in the first or second service-game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that was very nice."

Ivanović said she has done the same thing in other matches, and it's a simply a matter of how the courts play.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional," she said. "Maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."

Ivanović and Sharapova, who will be playing for the $1.2 million first prize, have split four career-meetings.
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Sharapova rolls into Australian Open final (AP)
>>>
Just when it looked like the Serbian fans were going to head home very disappointed, Ana Ivanović gave them something to cheer for.

Seemingly headed for a quick departure after drawing a blank in the first set, fourth-ranked Ivanović made a dramatic turnaround and landed a spot in the Australian Open finals against Maria Sharapova with a 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory over No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová on Thursday.

Now she gets the unenviable task of trying to derail No. 5 Sharapova, who was sharp again in overwhelming Serbia's Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1.

The second match started as a near-replay. Ivanović credited her fans for helping her rally.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would already be booking my flight back home," she told the crowd.

Ivanović appeared to have a letdown at the start after beating Venus Williams in the previous round. She repeatedly tried to psyche herself up as she won only nine points in the first set.

Hantuchová had her constantly sprinting side to side with sharp groundstrokes, mixed with well-placed spins that kept Ivanović from finding any rhythm.

"I think she didn't miss a ball," Ivanović said. "I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point."

When Ivanović finally held for her first game while already down 0-2 in the second set, the crowd erupted in cheers of sympathetic relief.

The small victory provided just what she needed: a jolt of confidence.

Finally hitting with authority, Ivanović broke twice to pull ahead 5-3, then held at love. What had been a rout in the making was even with a set to go.

Hantuchová shockingly blinked while serving at 4-4. She fended off one break point at 15/40, and set herself up to save the second with a drop-volley. Ivanović scrambled to keep it in play but was out of court when Hantuchová netted an easy volley.

Hantuchová wasn't sure what happened to her.

"Good question," she said. "If I knew that I think, I would have changed it while I was still on the court. That's tennis. I had a great opportunity, but it just didn't happen for me today."

She complained to the umpire that while she was serving, Ivanović's shoes were squeaking loudly.

"That's ridiculous, I think," she said. "I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."

Ivanović denied she was doing it intentionally.

"If you see other matches I was doing exactly the same thing," she said. "It's just the way these courts play. And if you listen to the guys, I think they're doing the same thing. I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball."
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Sharapova, Ivanović Reach Australian Open Final
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2001
>>>
The tension that was missing from the first semi-final was certainly there during the second, and at the end of the day it was Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović who were able to battle through to the Australian Open title match with very contrasting victories.

The straight-set dismissal of one Serb was nearly repeated by another, as an in-form Daniela Hantuchová played flawless tennis to build a 6-0 2-0 lead over Ana Ivanović in the second semi-final match of the day. But a few critical forehand-mistakes from the No.9 seed gave No.4 seed Ivanović hope, and the aggressive Serb played her way back into things in a hurry, evening it at a set apiece.

The 59-minute third set was full of drama as the two women continued to hold tightly to their service through the first eight games, with the sole exception of Ivanović's 2-3 service-game, in which she saved break-point (which would have given Hantuchová a 4-2 lead) and finally held after seven deuces. But the Slovak would be the first to crack, losing her serve at 4-4 with a putaway volley into the net. Ivanović confidently served out the 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

"She wasn't missing a ball and was making almost all of her first serves; but I just tried to tell myself she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match and I knew I'd get a chance at some point," Ivanović said. "I had a chance to win the first game of the second set but didn't, then I went down a break. But I was so, so happy to fight through that second set. And once I managed to win it I felt much more comfortable, and a lot more confident going into the third set.

"At 2-3 in the third set, we had long game and I managed to win it. I knew she was probably mentally a bit down about that. I knew I had to step up and do something different, and I managed to break her. I think it was a huge moment."

"I was just really pleased with the way I was doing things until that 6-0 2-0 game," Hantuchová said. "I think I proved once again to myself, if I play my game I can beat anybody. It's a matter of doing it the whole match. It's really disappointing now, but in the days to come, I'll look back at the tournament as a very positive thing. It gives me a lot of hope for the whole year."

The comeback from a first-set bagel has been quite a rare sight on the Grand Slam stage - only once before had a player pulled it off, the honour going to She Who Must Not Be Named, who beat Sánchez-Vicario at Roland Garros in 1992: 0-6 6-2 6-2 [apparently they've forgotten Daniela's loss to Shinobu Asagoe at Wimbledon 2003].
<<<

Ivanović edges Hantuchová
By Pippa Davis (Eurosport)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović booked her place in the final of the Australian Open with a battling 0-6 6-3 6-4 comeback-win over Daniela Hantuchová.

Trailing by a set and 2-0, Ivanović looked down and out, but won six of the next seven games to take the second set, before battling through a tight third to set up a final-clash with Maria Sharapova on Saturday.

Ivanović looked frozen to the spot by nerves in the opening stages of the match, in much the same state that saw her lose the French Open final 6-1 6-2 to Justine Henin last year.

Meanwhile ninth seed Hantuchová, high in confidence after reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final, was blasting winners from all over the court, and there were just 23 minutes on the clock when the Slovak served out the bagel first set.

Ivanović finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the ninth game of the match, much to the delight of the crowd, and wasted no time in breaking the Hantuchová serve to level up the second set.

The Slovak held to stop the run of games against, and both players secured another hold apiece before Ivanović struck again. Trailing 3-4, Hantuchová threw in a poor game, tamely surrendering her serve with a double fault to hand Ivanović the opportunity to serve out the set.

Ivanović, who will become the new world number two next week regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final, duly held to love to seal the set, and looked to have the momentum going into the third.

But Hantuchová refused to be pressurised into collapsing, and got back on track with a service-hold in the opening game of the third set. The 24-year-old even looked the more likely to take the initiative, holding a break-point during an epic sixth game that involved seven deuces, and holding to love in her following service-game.

But Ivanović stuck with her opponent before breaking in the ninth game when Hantuchová, who had an entirely open court to play with, tapped a very nervy forehand into the top of the net.

The Serb then confidently served out the match to love, setting up the Sharapova-clash after Hantuchová slapped a forehand return of serve into the net.

Ivanović said: "It definitely was a disappointing start for me. First game I was a little bit nervous and my serve didn't work very well, and I didn't move as good as I should have. I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate. I just couldn't find my rhythm. I tried to hang in there, you know, to stay with her. I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point, and that helped me a lot."

Hantuchová said: "[The way Ivanović moved and squeaked her shoes while waiting to receive] was ridiculous I think. I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it. In the first or second service-game, [I told the umpire] but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think [the squeaking] was very nice. It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible."
<<<

NUMBERS GAME
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Ana Ivanović's climb up the WTA rankings is catching her by surprise.

Fourth-seeded Ivanović rallied to beat Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours, 10 minutes to reach the Australian Open final and earn herself the No. 2 position when the new rankings are released next week.

Only she didn't realise it.

"Really? No, really? Oh, okay. Well, great," Ivanović responded when told of her new ranking. "I really didn't expect that. That's definitely good, so one more spot to go."

Ivanović will next face fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova, who cruised past Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1.
<<<

Ana's Australian Open Blog
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1968
>>>
What a match! I've had a few good comebacks in my career and that was one of the best. I made a terrible start, but it was more a case of Daniela playing so well than me not performing. At 6-0 2-0 it was almost embarrassing. She was playing great tennis and nothing seemed to be working for me. I think I'm a pretty good fighter, and I just hung in there and my serve helped me. I knew the longer I stayed in the match the more chance there was of her level going down. On the other hand, I was able to focus better in the second set and my form improved.

In a situation such as that, mental energy becomes just as important as physical. It was just 24 hours after my win over Venus, and I had been very excited during that match. I would have liked to have had a day to recover, to calm down and recharge, but I obviously had to play another very important match.

Last year I had some good comeback wins against Vaidišová, Janković and also Hantuchová. The most important thing when you are behind – and this may sound obvious – is to just stay positive and forget about the score. I didn't panic and think, "I must break here." I took it point-by-point, and it worked out well.
<<<

Popcorn tennis - day 11
By Darren Saligari <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Ana Ivanović d Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4. It looked like it was going to be a gimme for Hantuchová: she took the first set 6-0 while Ivanović looked on helplessly. Then the game changed. Ivanović started to move better, shots started hitting the lines, and suddenly we had a game on our hands. Ivanović squared the ledger, winning the second set, and then it was game on in the third.

It'll be a long drive home for Daniela Hantuchová. She looked like she had this one, but somehow Ana Ivanović forced her way back into a match that looked all but over.
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Ana: Struggle makes me strong
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
First-time Australian Open finalist Ana Ivanović believes the experience gleaned from her amazing semi-final escape provides the perfect preparation for a shot at the title.

The Serb will meet Russia's Maria Sharapova in Saturday's decider after coming from a set down to overpower a stage-struck Daniela Hantuchová in a thrilling semi on Rod Laver Arena.

Ivanović was in dreadful touch early, conceding the first set 0-6 before coming home 6-3 6-4 to steal the match and give herself a massive confidence-boost ahead of her second Grand Slam final.

"It definitely does [give me a lift]," Ivanović declared.

"I didn't perform the best I could today, and my serve-percentage was quite low, but I just managed to fight through it."

"It was a little bit flat in the beginning. These things I'm facing for probably the first time in my career, and it's definitely something I can learn from."

"I was just really proud of myself [for coming back]."

Asked where it had gone wrong early, the No.4 seed replied: "In the first game, I was a little bit nervous, and my serve didn't work very well, and I didn't move as good as I should have."

"I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate."

"I tried to hang in there, to stay with her."

"In the second set, I managed to fight through, and then once I managed to win it, I felt much more comfortable and had a lot more confidence."

A philosophical Hantuchová said after her first Grand Slam semi-final appearance: "It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think in the days to come I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing."

"I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year."

"I think I proved once again to myself that if I play my game, I can beat anybody."

"It's just a matter of doing it for the whole match."

"It's going to be a great experience for me."

Hantuchová refused to predict a tournament-winner, saying the finalists were too evenly matched to split.
<<<

4.2 Daniela's semi-final press-conference
-----------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com

Q. Have you ever played as well as you did in those first eight games?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I think so, yeah. I wasn't really surprised. I did just like yesterday tactically, whatever I had to do to get to that point of the match. I was just really pleased the way I was doing things until that point.

Q. How did it get away from you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Good question. If I knew that, I think I would have changed it while I was still on the court. You know, that's tennis. Sometimes you can do, I think, all the right things, all the best things. Maybe you just need a little more luck to get through.

Honestly, I thought I was very close. I had a great opportunity, but it just didn't happen for me today.

Q. How hard is it to accept a defeat after you started so well and you were up 8-0?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: I was up 2-0. Yeah, it's tough. It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think with days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing. I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year.

I think I proved once again, myself, that if I play my game I can beat anybody. Just a matter of doing it for the whole match.

Q. You've said before that you're very, very hard on yourself; you're a perfectionist. So have you gotten better at not being so hard on yourself, and will this be the hardest one of all to get over?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, definitely. I think I got much better in that. I mean, obviously right after match, especially match like this, you are going to be disappointed no matter if you are perfectionist or not.

But I think now I'm much more aware of how to take things and how to learn from them. Definitely this match today, it's going to be great experience for me in order to learn something new, and hopefully I can improve that in the matches to come this year.

Q. Do you think Ana's experience to get to the French Open's final last year came into play at all?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, definitely she had experience being in the semi-final of a Grand Slam. Obviously it was a new situation for me, but I think considering that situation, I came up playing pretty well, I thought, especially the beginning of the match. There was nothing wrong with that.

So I wasn't really afraid of the situation. I think I did the right things. And, yes, just one of those days.

Q. After such a long match, you had a very cursory handshake there at the end. Was that the disappointment, or had she done something to displease you?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: No, no, no, absolutely. It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just, you know, wanted to get off the court as soon as possible.

Q. Did you have any issues with the double bounce or the...

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, I thought it was a double bounce, but maybe it was just my mistake. I should have played the point anyway.

Q. So you actually saw it double bounce, though?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah.

Q. Did you raise that with the umpire?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, but she told me it was just the one bounce, so there was no point to argue at that time.

Q. What about the way she squeaks her feet when she returns?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, that's ridiculous, I think. I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. Yeah, we played before and she never did it.

Q. Did you say anything to the umpire?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah, in the first or second service-game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that was very nice.

Q. Is that something you've come across anyone else doing, or that's the first time that's happened?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Yeah.

Q. When she had the last challenge, and she stopped the ball and she didn't play the last point, then you had made the point. Instead you replayed, and then you didn't say anything at this moment.

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Talking about luck today, I think there was no point. I think I saw also a couple of netcords that really the ball was going so much out, and it came back up to my side.

It was just one of those days that everything was going against me, but I felt like I still, you know, kept trying, kept fighting. You know, I mean, what was I supposed to do? It was over. It was no point of fighting with the umpire or whatever.

Q. How do you break down the final with Maria?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: It's going to be interesting. I mean, you know, it's tennis, so it can go either way. It's going to be interesting. I can't predict anybody.

Q. Do you still think you look at this tournament as a breakthrough?

DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ: Well, definitely I think it's been a great experience. I had a wonderful time here. And, once again, it just showed me that if I do the right things I really belong to the top, and right now I think it's just a matter of time, doing more work, consistent basis, and hopefully I'll get more chances in a Grand Slam to break even further.


Ana's semi-final press-conference (can't they ever interview her without using the word "boyfriend", even after she declared her current single-status?):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-24/200801241201163845756.html

----------------
5. Final-preview
----------------

* MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]

This is the most mouthwatering Grand Slam final of all time in terms of both talent and beauty!

My loyalty is to Maria, who is a member of my Eternal Fanship and my second-favourite tennis-player of all time. I like and admire Ana a lot, and I look forward to watching her win Grand Slams at other players' expense, but I've had my heart set on Maria winning her first Australian Open title since she beat Henin so brilliantly.

MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF]:
1r + Jelena Kostanic Tošic, 6-4 6-3
2r + Lindsay Davenport, 6-1 6-3
3r + Elena Vesnina, 6-3 6-0
4r + ELENA DEMENTIEVA [11], 6-2 6-0
qf + JUSTINE HENIN [1], 6-4 6-0
sf + JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3], 6-3 6-1

ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]:
1r + Sorana Cîrstea, 7-5 6-3
2r + Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3
3r + KATARINA SREBOTNIK [28], 6-3 6-4
4r + Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1 7-6 (7/2)
qf + VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 7-6 (7/3) 6-4
sf + DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

Maria's stunning form from the second round to the semi-finals makes her the form-favourite in this match, even though Ana will move up to #2 in the rankings next week while Maria remains #5, regardless of the final-outcome.

Of the players I've watched on BBCi so far this Australian Open - i.e. on the Rod Laver Arena evening-session - these are the two who have impressed me the most, so it's very fitting that they should meet in the final.

I saw Ana's second-round match on BBCi, and she was just awesome: hard hitting, spreading rallies, many winners - she looked like she could do whatever she wanted with the ball! But she did get nervous and tentative at 6-0 4-0*, and the scorelines of her other matches aren't so impressive - though I'm certainly very pleased that she got a win over a Williams-sister at last!

But Maria played out of this world in both her second round and her quarter-final, and I just don't envisage Ana beating her if Maria plays even 75% as well as that!

Ana on Maria: "She's definitely in a good shape, and she's been playing some good tennis this last couple of weeks. Yeah, she improved her movement. And her serve, it's very high percentage, really strong."

Whereas last year, Maria managed to reach the final despite playing well below her best, and suffered a dispapsinating 6-1 6-2 defeat by an on-fire Serena Williams. She was restricted by a right-shoulder injury that would make 2007 go from bad to worse before she finally returned to form at the Sony Ericsson Championships (with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Ana, no less).

Ana had a stellar year in 2007, becoming the first player younger than Maria ever to beat her (by retirement at Tokyo the week after the Australian Open, and again 6-2 6-1 in the French Open semi-finals), winning Berlin over world #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals by winning the match of the tournament over Nicole Vaidišová (who led 5-3* in the third with three match-points), and winning Los Angeles and Luxembourg.

I mentioned three of Maria and Ana's four head-to-head matches in the above two paragraphs; their first meeting was a tight 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 victory for Maria at Linz 2006, therefore they are tied 2:2 going into this final.

Maria's confidence is sky-high at the moment, and she is stronger mentally than Ana - there have been times in her career when Ana has been completely paralysed by nerves (e.g. the French Open 2007 final, and the first 8 games of her semi-final here: Daniela led 6-0 2-0).

But I think those last two matches I mentioned will help Ana in this final. A lot of players freeze in their first Grand Slam final, and need to reach a certain number of finals before they are ready to win one. And Ana's semi-final recovery shows what can happen when a procession turns into a contest.

It will be fascinating to see whether either player wobbles in sight of the finishing-line, given that Ana did so in her second round, and Maria did so in the first set of her semi-final. Ana stays in a match like a wasp at a barbeque, and that's what enabled her to squeak through against Daniela.

My conclusion is that Maria is a strong favourite to lift that tall, silver trophy, but not such an overwhelming favourite as she was against the injured Jelena Janković. How close it is will depend primarily on Ana's nerves, particularly in her first service-game.


5.1 Articles
------------

Sharapova wants to make up for loss [Teletext 495->498] (Friday 25th January)
>>>
Sharapova ready to win [Teletext 498]

Maria Sharapova is determined to go one better than last year and lift her first title at Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old fifth seed lost in straight sets to Serena Williams 12 months ago, but is confident she can beat Ana Ivanović in Saturday's final to earn a third Grand Slam success.

Sharapova said: "I forgot last year's final a long time ago. I'm glad I've got another chance to be champion."
<<<

IVANOVIĆ READY FOR 'DREAM' FINAL [CEEFAX 490->491] (Friday 25th January)
>>>
Ivanović ready for 'dream' final [CEEFAX 491]

Ana Ivanović says playing in Saturday's Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova will be a dream come true.

Ivanović, 20, who grew up in war-torn Serbia, is playing in her second Grand Slam final, while Sharapova is aiming to win her third Grand Slam title.

"Since I was a kid training in Belgrade, I dreamed about these occasions, when I play in a Grand Slam final," she said.

"There were so few courts in the city I practised in an empty swimming-pool - it's hard to imagine we did that."
<<<

Australian Open Final Preview: Ivanović vs. Sharapova
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2004
>>>
The first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, will be contested by two of the WTA Tour's outstanding young players: Ana Ivanović and Maria Sharapova. At just 20 years old, the two protagonists have already established themselves at the very pinnacle of the sport, and Saturday's final on the Rod Laver Arena promises to be an absorbing affair, as both players bid to lift the prestigious title for the first time in their careers.

(5) Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. (4) Ana Ivanović (SRB) - Series tied, 2:2

The 2007 season was one of contrasting fortunes for the two finalists, with Ivanović enjoying a breakthrough year on Tour, while Sharapova was preoccupied with a succession of injury-worries and a dip in form. After a quietly impressive start to her campaign, the young Serb rose to prominence during the clay-court season when she captured the Tier I event in Berlin, before embarking upon a memorable run to the final of Roland Garros, where she fell to Justine Henin. The success did not stop there though, and the following six months brought two more titles and place in the world's elite Top 5.

Sharapova endured a somewhat more difficult year on Tour with a persistent right-shoulder injury hampering her playing-schedule. Despite this, she still managed to finish runner-up at the Australian Open and Sony Ericsson Championships, as well as lifting the prestigious Tier I title in San Diego.

The honours are even in Ivanović and Sharapova's career head-to-head: the most recent meeting occurred last November in Madrid, when the two-time Grand Slam winner registered a comfortable victory in the final match of the round-robin stage.

Australian Open History

Melbourne Park has been a happy hunting-ground for Sharapova in the past, and Thursday's victory over Jelena Janković sees her return to the final for the second year in succession; 12 months ago she suffered a crushing straight-set defeat to Serena Williams. Aside from this runner-up finish, the Russian has also reached the semi-finals Down Under on two occasions, losing out to Henin in 2006 and falling to Williams once more in 2005.

Prior to this fortnight, Ivanović had flattered to deceive in Melbourne, and 2008 has witnessed the young Serb make her first foray beyond the third round at the year's opening Major. As a Grand Slam débutante in 2005, she achieved a credible third-round finish - falling to No.2 seed Amélie Mauresmo - but until this year, she had failed to build on this performance. In 2006 and 2007, Ivanović suffered disappointing second- and third-round exits to lower-ranked players Samantha Stosur and Vera Zvonarëva.

Road to the Final

After sailing through the draw courtesy of a series of mesmeric performances, Sharapova has the chance to capture her third Major on Saturday afternoon. The world No.5 has been in imperious form all fortnight, and has fully lived up to her billing as one of the game's outstanding young talents, dropping a mere 24 games en route to the final - the fewest number since Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario in 1995. Although her list of victims includes Lindsay Davenport, Elena Dementieva and Jelena Janković, undoubtedly the standout performance of her run to the championship-round was her magnificent 6-4 6-0 defeat of Henin in the quarter-finals - thus snapping the world No.1's 32-match win-streak.

On the other side of the draw, Ivanović's path to her second Slam final, while not as dominant as Sharapova's, has been impressive nonetheless. The world No.3 looked far from championship-material during a scrappy opening-round triumph over Sorana Cîrstea, but promptly followed this up with three assured displays to dismiss Tathiana Garbin, Katarina Srebotnik and Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. In the quarter-finals, Ivanović conjured up arguably her finest performance of the tournament to defeat Venus Williams 7-6(3) 6-4, before digging deep to see off Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4 one round later.

Thoughts on the final...

"I feel really excited," Sharapova said of Saturday's final. "I'm glad I get the chance to go out there again and give myself another opportunity to be the champion. This is a Grand Slam that I obviously have not won, and one that I'd love to win, so, you know, it's a great opportunity for me. Ana and I have both had two great weeks, and it should be a close final. She's already been in a Grand Slam final, and when you go out there, it really depends on how you feel you're playing. Her chance is just as good as mine, as we're both Grand Slam finalists."

"I'm really excited about the final," Ivanović said, "I just want to go out there and try to perform the best I can, because it's another experience for me and I just want to go for it and enjoy it. Maria is definitely in good shape and she has been playing some good tennis this last couple of weeks. Her movement and serve have really improved, which will make it an interesting match. I think the first shots will be very important, and the return of serve will be crucial too, so from the beginning I'll need to be alert and focus on these. I've beaten her in the past, so that's something I have to look for, and try to perform like I did in that semi-final [win over Sharapova] at Roland Garros."
<<<

Ivanović ready for 'dream' final
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7209242.stm
>>>
Ana Ivanović says playing in Saturday's Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova will be a dream come true.

Ivanović, 20, who grew up in war-torn Serbia, is playing in her second Grand Slam final while Sharapova is aiming to win her third Grand Slam title.

"Since I was a kid training in Belgrade, I dreamed about these occasions, when I play in a Grand Slam final," she said.

"There were so few courts in the city I practised in an empty swimming-pool - it's hard to imagine we did that."

Ivanović said she is looking forward to producing a better display than in her previous Grand Slam final, in last year's French Open, where she was hammered 6-1 6-2 by Justine Henin.

"It was very overwhelming. The whole atmosphere, everything, was just too big in that moment," she said.

"So, that's something I definitely have to learn from and this time, hopefully, deal with it better."

Sharapova, meanwhile, has a ghost of her own to lay to rest after she was thrashed 6-1 6-2 by unseeded Serena Williams in last year's Australian Open final.

"From the beginning of the tournament, you want to go a step further than you've done in the past," admitted the Russian.

"I know what tennis I'm capable of producing. I've shown it before, I've done it in my career already.

"I've won two Grand Slams, I've been number one in the world. I didn't do it just by waking up and eating ice-cream all day.

"I've worked for all the things that I have achieved. I know that I'm capable of achieving more."

BBC 5 Live tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend believes Sharapova is in such good form Ivanović will have to keep her composure if she wants any chance of winning.

"There will surely be no repeat of last year's final here when Sharapova was thrashed by Serena, or the French Open semi when she took a similar battering at the hands of Ivanović," said Overend.

"The Russian is in such good form, defeating two of the top three seeds in the last two rounds, and it's surely impossible for her to be beaten so dramatically again.

"Ivanović has done incredibly well to get this far, but if she is struck by stage-fright like she was in Paris last summer, Sharapova is the last person she will want on the other side of the net."
<<<

Glamour Grand Slam final<BR>
By Luke Buttigieg <www.australianopen.com><BR>
>>>
After 12 days of sizzling action at Australian Open 2008, the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup will be awarded to the winner of the women's singles final between Ana Ivanović and Maria Sharapova on Saturday.

Russian No.5 seed Sharapova has advanced to her second Melbourne Park decider in 12 months, and she will have atonement and revenge on her mind when she clashes with Serbian No.4 seed Ivanović for the fifth time in their careers.

A year ago, when she was the tournament's No.1 seed, Sharapova was blasted off the court by unseeded American Serena Williams in the final, but she's dropped just 24 games in winning all of her matches so far in straight sets.

In their four previous clashes, the ledger stands at 2:2, and while Sharapova won the most recent of them at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships last year, Ivanović denied her a place in the 2007 French Open final with a 6-2 6-1 demolition.

A look at the three most recent battles between the pair shows three one-sided contests, with Ivanović winning the first set 6-1 before Sharapova retired in Tokyo last year, and Sharapova conceding only three games at the Tour Championships.

But while Sharapova has already won two Grand Slam titles from three final-appearances in her career - at Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006 - the slightly younger Ivanović is less experienced in terms of Major-finals.

Her only previous appearance was at Roland Garros last year, when she was steamrolled by Belgian Justin Henin, and things looked to be heading that way again in the semi-final on Thursday when she lost the first set to love and trailed 0-2 in the second.

But having fought back to eventually beat Slovakian Daniela Hantuchová in three sets, Ivanović will be able to draw on that performance if she again finds herself behind, and will probably enjoy more crowd-support, having been adopted by many of the locals.

Speaking on Friday, Sharapova denied that the result of the 2007 Australian Open final or her French Open semi-final loss against Ivanović will be a factor in the result, while also lauding how far Ivanović has come in the past year.

"[I'm feeling] really good," Sharapova told reporters. "I feel really excited. I'm glad I get the chance to go out there again in the final and give myself another opportunity to be the champion here. I'm not going to worry about that [last year's result]."

"It's definitely great to see [Ivanović's rise], because, you know, not only do you have to get up there and kind of prove yourself that you're one of the top players, but you have to maintain that level."

"It's great to see new names coming up that are doing well, that are bringing excitement and whatever it is - glamour - to the sport. Even to bring fans that are not just tennis-fans, but other fans into the sport, is wonderful."

Just as she has said all the way through the tournament, Ivanović is hoping to remain focused throughout the match, having learned plenty from her experiences at Roland Garros, but she knows it won't be easy against Sharapova.

"I was in that situation once before, and I know I was very emotional, and I experienced lot of things during that final," she said. "That's something I have to take from it as a positive. Tomorrow, when I walk on the court, I know a little bit what to expect."

"So in that way I can deal with it. But, you know, I just don't want to get emotional. I want to just focus on my game and what I have to do, you know, to play like I played my previous matches, and just think tennis and tactically."

"It's going to be interesting match. We are 2-all in victories. I managed to beat her before, so that's something I have to look for, and try to perform like I did that time."
<<<

Sharapova, Ivanović Reach Australian Open Final
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2001
>>>
Sharapova and Ivanović have both travelled very different paths to the final, and will now resume their rivalry, which is currently in a 2:2 deadlock.

"In a Grand Slam, where I've had good success but some tough endings as well, I still believe at the end of the day I'll always have more opportunities," said Sharapova, who is 2:1 in Major-finals. "If it's not this Saturday, then there are going to be many more years to come. If it doesn't happen, hey, it's life."

"It's going to be a very, very tough match," said Ivanović, a runner-up in her only previous major final at Roland Garros last year. "I'm looking forward to a great final. She's definitely a big fighter and never gives up. That's something I feel we have in common, because I also try to fight for each point."
<<<

Sharapova, Ivanović move into Australian Open women's final
By Dennis Passa: AP Sports Writer
>>>
A year after losing the Australian Open final in embarrassing fashion to Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova is looking unstoppable in her quest for a third Grand Slam singles-title.

But if it doesn't happen in Saturday's final at Melbourne Park against Serbia's Ana Ivanović, she won't lose too much sleep over it.

"From the beginning of the tournament, you want to go a step further than you've done in the past," Sharapova said after her 6-3 6-1 semi-final win over Jelena Janković on Thursday.

"That's always your goal, and your mantra going into a tournament. If it's not this Saturday, if it doesn't happen, hey, it's life."

The way Sharapova is playing, she can afford to be introspective - six straight-set wins, including one that ended No. 1 Justine Henin's 32-match winning-streak in the quarter-finals.

Mind you, she had a similar record in last year's tournament going into the final against Williams. After being taken to three sets in a tough first-rounder against Camille Pin, including 9-7 in the deciding set, she won her next five matches in straight sets.

Then she ran into Williams - unseeded and ranked 81 coming into the tournament - and lost to the American 6-1 6-2.

Any thoughts she had about adding to her 2004 Wimbledon title and the 2006 US Open went out in quick fashion.

"You plan it out somehow in your mind, but sometimes it doesn't always go as planned," Sharapova says. "That's the beauty of life and sport."

This year, she senses it will be different, thanks to the confidence she has acquired from playing in her fourth Grand Slam final.

On Saturday, she's up against an opponent with one previous final. Ivanović lost to Henin in last year's French Open title-match, and is seeded No. 4: a spot ahead of Sharapova.

The two have plenty in common. Both stand over 6 feet and hit right-handed with two-handed backhands. Both moved from their home-countries to train elsewhere - Sharapova from Siberia to Florida, and Ivanović from Belgrade to Switzerland.

Both are 20, born seven months apart in 1987. And they're all-square at 2:2 in career head-to-head matches - including Ivanović's win over Sharapova in the French Open semi-final last year, and Sharapova's victory over the Serbian player in a round-robin match at the WTA Tour championships in November.

In both cases, the losing player in each of those matches won only three games. If one is hot, often the other is not.

Both her next and previous opponents agree Sharapova is hot.

"Maria has had a good tournament, beating Justine in two sets," said Ivanović. "It's going to be definitely a very, very tough match."

Janković was impressed as well, particularly after Sharapova won the first five games of Thursday's match.

"Everything she hit, each strike was amazing," said Janković. "Even when she was late or whatever, it was all going in. She didn't make a mistake. She was just on a roll."

Hantuchová wasn't as complimentary of Ivanović after her three-set loss, accusing the Serbian player of deliberately squeaking her shoes on the court-surface when the Slovakian player was in her serving-motion.

If Sharapova, whose loud grunting has been the subject of complaints by rival players since she came on tour full-time in 2003, has the same impression, it could become an issue in the final.

Hantuchová complained to the chair-umpire, to no avail.

"I was really surprised with that," Hantuchová said. "I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server."

Ivanović said she's done the same thing in her other matches here on the new Plexicushion surface.

"It's just the way these courts play," she said. "I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional."

Sharapova, who has not had an opportunity to comment on Ivanović's noisy shoes, played frequent junior-matches against Ivanović, giving the Serbian an insight into how the two play their game.

"She's definitely a big fighter, and she never gives up," Ivanović said. "That's also something I feel like we have a little bit in common - I also try to fight for each point. It's going to be a big battle."
<<<

Sharapova, Ivanović clash in final (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Maria Sharapova may be the fifth seed at the Australian Open, but there's no question that she is the best player in women's tennis at the moment.

The 20-year-old Russian attempts to claim her first title here when she faces No. 4 Ana Ivanović in Saturday's championship-match at the $20.6 million hardcourt-Major.

Sharapova made her first final-appearance here a year ago, only to be blown off the court 6-1 6-2 by Serena Williams.

This time around, it's Sharapova who appears primed for an emphatic victory, though she doesn't sound like a player who is putting pressure on herself.

"In a Grand Slam, where I've had good success but some tough endings as well, I still believe at the end of the day, I'll always have more opportunities," Sharapova said. "If it's not this Saturday, then there are going to be many more years to come. If it doesn't happen, hey, it's life."

The two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 has crushed the competition in her six matches here, winning every set and dropping just 24 games. Sharapova has been broken just five times, has won three sets 6-0, and delivered 160 winners compared to just 101 unforced errors.

"I know what tennis I'm capable of producing," Sharapova said. "I've shown it before. I've done it in my career already. I've won two Grand Slams. I've been No. 1 in the world. I didn't do it just by waking up and eating ice-cream all day."

Sharapova's most impressive showing came in the quarter-finals, where she dismissed top-seeded Belgian Justine Henin by a 6-4 6-0 count. Henin, who was in top form herself despite the lopsided loss, had won 32 consecutive matches.

Clearly recovered from a nagging shoulder-injury that hindered her in 2007, Sharapova completed her destruction of the draw on Thursday with a 6-3 6-1 semi-final victory over No. 3 Jelena Janković of Serbia.

Even Janković acknowledged the stellar play of Sharapova, stating that she was "amazed" with how well the Russian is playing.

"She didn't make a mistake," said Janković, who was denied her first appearance in a Grand Slam final. "She was just on a roll. And I was I thinking, 'When is she going to wake up from her dream?'"

Sharapova, who is 2:1 in Grand Slam finals, needs to defeat another Serb if she hopes to claim the $1.2 million first prize.

"It's going to be a very, very tough match," Ivanović said. "I'm looking forward to a great final. She's definitely a big fighter and never gives up. That's something I feel we have in common, because I also try to fight for each point."

While not quite as dominant as Sharapova, Ivanović also has been impressive in reaching her second career Grand Slam final.

A runner-up to Henin at Roland Garros last season, the 20-year-old had not dropped a set prior to Thursday's improbable 0-6 6-3 6-4 semi-final victory over No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia.

After dropping the first eight games of the match, Ivanović rallied to become only the second player to win a Grand Slam match after losing the opening set 6-0.

She Who Must Not Be Named is the only other player to accomplish that, posting a 0-6 6-2 6-2 victory against Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario at the French Open in 1992 [not true! Daniela also lost her second-round match to Shinobu at Wimbledon 2003 after winning the first set 6-0, while Monica Seles lost likewise to Sandrine Testud in the third round of Wimbledon 1997].

Ivanović said the experience of having one Major final-appearance under her belt will help her deal with any anxiety she may experience.

"Emotions are definitely not a bad thing," Ivanović said. "It's something that actually got me where I'm here today. It's just important to learn how to make it work for you instead of against you."

Ivanović, who overtook Janković as the world No. 3 at the start of this event, has split four career-meetings with Sharapova: a 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 winner in their only previous hardcourt-meeting (Linz 2006).

Sharapova is seeking her 17th career-title, and Ivanović will be after her sixth.
<<<

Sharapova ready to put things right (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
A quest to put things right after an Australian Open final-thrashing at the hands of Serena Williams last year has inspired Maria Sharapova's drive for this year's title.

The 20-year-old Russian, who was beaten by the unseeded Williams 6-1 6-2 last year, will meet fourth-seeded Serb Ana Ivanović in Saturday's showpiece on Rod Laver Arena.

"From the beginning of the tournament, you want to go a step further than you've done in the past," Sharapova told reporters after she dispatched Jelena Janković in the semi-finals.

"That's always your goal, and your mantra going into a tournament, no matter where it is, no matter how small or big a tournament is."

The world number five added her performance in reaching the final of the WTA Players' Championship in Madrid after an injury-affected year and a relaxing off-season had given her confidence heading into 2008.

"Before Madrid, I just said, 'Look, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm just going to go there and give it a chance'.

"I did, and I didn't really expect too much from myself that week, and I really played great tennis.

"I felt like a lot of things had come together, and the off-season was great. I was able to work on the court. I played a lot of tennis. I had some fun times." Sharapova heads into the final as favourite, having romped through the tournament so far without dropping a set.

She has also dispatched former world number one Lindsay Davenport and current number one Justine Henin with comparative ease, ending Henin's 32-match unbeaten streak that stretched back to Wimbledon with a 6-4 6-0 victory in the quarter-finals.

Ivanović, who reached the French Open final at Roland Garros last year, overcame a panic-attack in the first round when Romania's Sorana Cîrstea served for the first set, and fought back from a 6-0 2-0 deficit against Daniela Hantuchová in the semi-finals.

The 20-year-old, however, said she was well aware of Sharapova's strengths, and would be well prepared for the final.

"Maria has had a great tournament, and it's going to be a tough match, but we are two-all and I've beaten her before, so I know a little bit what to expect.

"She likes to have that first shot. So I have to be there, be there with her from the first point on and try to get that first shot.

"Obviously, I want to work a lot on my intensity from the first moment on, and it's going to be fighting for each point."
<<<

Sharapova icy cool ahead of red-hot final (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Alastair Himmer)
>>>
Supremely confident, 100% fit, Maria Sharapova oozes purpose and poise ahead of Saturday's Australian Open final.

The Russian is feeling no nerves, no stress, and even though the final of a Grand Slam is no laughing matter, she will prepare for it by having a few giggles on Friday night.

"The day before my match is usually movie-night. We select a comedy and watch it," the 20-year-old smiled with the coolest of Russian smiles.

But beneath that light-hearted demeanour lies a cast-iron will.

Sharapova knows she has the goods to beat Serbian world number three Ana Ivanović, and doesn't care who knows it.

"I know what tennis I'm capable of producing. I've shown it before," the blonde baseliner told reporters at Melbourne Park.

"I've done it in my career already. I've won two Grand Slams. I've been number one in the world. I didn't do it just by waking up and eating ice-cream all day.

"I've worked for all the things that I have achieved. I know that I'm capable of achieving more."

RENEWED ZEAL

Frustrated by an injury-plagued 2007, Sharapova is exhilarated to be back on the court doing what she loves best, and is playing with renewed zeal and confidence.

"I think it made me stronger because I didn't give up," she said of last season.

"When I did have the opportunity to train and wake up in the morning feeling really good, you know, with my body and my shoulder, I was just so excited about going on the court.

"And I missed it.

"And when I had the opportunity to train in the off-season for about five weeks, really with high intensity, you know, working really hard, playing in the morning, having lunch, going back out on the court, it was hard work. But looking back, I really enjoyed that work.

"Once you know that you've had that and you've given it your all, when you come to a tournament, you hope that that work transitions into the match-court.

"I've done it before, you know. Not always is it going to come so soon. But, I mean, the hard work will always pay off. If it's not next week, maybe it's next year.

"You never know."

Based on her world-beating form coming into the final, it could pay off on Saturday.
<<<

Ivanović focused on keeping emotions in check (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
Defeat in the final of the 2007 French Open has not left a seed of doubt in the mind of Australian Open finalist Ana Ivanović - quite the opposite.

That painful loss to Justine Henin has in fact helped the 20-year-old Serb prepare for Saturday's Melbourne Park showdown, Ivanović told reporters on Friday.

The third seed, who will meet Russia's Maria Sharapova on Rod Laver Arena in the final of the year's first Grand Slam on Saturday, admitted she had been a bundle of nerves before her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros last year.

"I had taken it one match at a time, but then in the final, I was thinking, 'Oh, my God, maybe I can win a Grand Slam'," the smiling fourth-seed told reporters on Friday. "I started thinking more emotionally. It was very overwhelming.

"[The] whole atmosphere, everything, was just too big.

"[But] tomorrow, when I walk on the court, I know a little bit what to expect."

The tall baseliner, who will reach a career-high ranking of two when the new rankings are released next Monday, added that while she was still an emotional person on court, she had learned to control them.

ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORT

"It's just important to learn how to make it work for you instead of against you," she added.

"That's something I've been working on really hard, because sometimes if I make a few mistakes in the past, I used to get very upset about it, and sort of got on that bad roll.

"But now I can control my emotions a little bit better, and just direct them in a positive way."

Ivanović has members of her extended family living in Melbourne, and has enjoyed an enthusiastic expatriate Serbian following during the tournament, which had also helped her through some of the tight moments during her run: especially in the semi-final against Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchová.

Hantuchová had won the first set 6-0 and was leading 2-0 in the second before Ivanović made an astonishing fightback to win the match in three sets.

"When I was in the court, I was so surprised to see how many people supported me," she said. "They helped me so much to win that match.

"It's obviously a great feeling, because I feel so comfortable out here, you know, just having so many fans."
<<<

The Vitches
Peter Bodo
http://tennis.com/features/general/features.aspx?id=106502
>>>
Ivanović is a curvaceous, large-boned, conventional beauty (since the French Open, anaivanović.com ranks among the most visited for women-athletes) with a dusky complexion and a broad, friendly face. Charm is her calling-card, and gerunds are her rallying cry: 'I am very exciting to be playing so well... I am very exciting about Wimbledon.'

"But don't be fooled by her wide-eyed manner. This girl is all business: a bread-and-butter slugger whose game has heft and sting. Think of her as a younger, perhaps slightly less powerful version of Jennifer Capriati. But she also has a touch of the lumbering quality Capriati never quite shed, which will always raise questions about her mobility.
<<<

Getting Tough: Ivanović tries to clear Venus hurdle
By Kamakshi Tandon (Tennis.com)
>>>
Ana Ivanović will try to flex her greater muscle against Venus Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The last time Ana Ivanović didn't have to play Venus Williams in a Grand Slam, she reached the final. But since her breakout-result at the French Open last summer, she's run into the American at both Wimbledon and the US Open, and been sent packing both times.

But Ivanović thinks things will be different when the two meet again the Australian Open quarter-finals on Wednesday. Their last meeting took place on Venus' turf - literally: the Decoturf courts of the US Open in New York.

Hailing from Serbia, Ivanović doesn't get to play a Grand Slam in her home-country, but Melbourne is the closest substitute. She has relatives in the city and often spends Christmas Down Under. At this time last year, she was also working with Australian coach David Taylor – enough to earn her the nickname of 'Aussie Ana' in a country longing for more tennis-stars.

The tag may reappear if she can continue her run here. The attractive, sweet-natured Serb has already developed a following among both Australians and Serbs in Melbourne Park, and her guest-column in one of the local papers has been adding to her name-recognition among fans.

Not only does she feel more comfortable here, Ivanović also thinks the new Plexicushion surface at Melbourne Park gives her a 'homecourt' advantage against Venus. "These courts are a little bit slower than the US Open, so I think that's something that definitely suits me better, because she's a big server and she likes to go for the big shots."

Venus will also be facing a better player across the net, Ivanović warns. "I think I'm a little bit different player than I was last time I played her," said Ivanović. "I got even fitter and stronger on the court... I improve my serve since then, too, so I really hope it can work well for me tomorrow."

The 20-year-old has been improving consistently over the last year, going from a talented but raw teen to a well-muscled striker of the ball. She credits many of the improvements to adidas-affiliated coach Sven Groeneveld and fitness-trainer Scott Brynes, who joined her in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

Though she's still not one of the best movers on tour, better strength and stamina has improved Ivanović's point-construction and stabilised her game, which is built around her powerful forehand.

She identifies the decision to focus on fitness as the start of her steady climb to her current ranking of No. 3. "It's definitely a big part of my game, because now I feel much stronger out there, and I feel I can keep up with these girls for a longer period of time," she said. "Before, I had to go for my shots earlier in the rally because I couldn't keep in the rally."

Fitness continued to be a big priority during the off-season – part of which was spent training in the climate-controlled British tennis-centre at Roehampton. "I work, all kinds of exercise: long running, sprints, in a gym we do some weights in off-season,' she said. "It's definitely also very interesting, because fitness can get really boring. [Brynes] always has some new games or new exercise to keep it interesting."

If there is still a question-mark around Ivanović, it's about her mental toughness. She folded badly during the French Open final against Justine Henin, sometimes hardly able to throw the ball up in the air to serve. She marked that down as a learning-experience and followed up with a creditable run to the Wimbledon semi-finals, where she was stopped by Venus, who went on to win the title. But facing Venus in the fourth round of the US Open later that summer, Ivanović again played a tight match, providing little resistance against her in-form opponent.

Win or lose on Wednesday, she must avoid another nervy performance, or start facing questions about whether she has enough killer-instinct to reach the top.

"It will be just important for me to stay there, stay there with her, and still try to get that first [point-dominating] shot," said Ivanović.
<<<

Punters pulling for Ivanović in Aussie Open final (AFP)
>>>
Australian Open finalist Ana Ivanović can count on at least one advantage over Maria Sharapova when she steps on court for Saturday's big match: support from an adoring Melbourne Park crowd.

Australian fans boosted by Ivanović's Melbourne-based relatives and a large expatriate Serb community have taken the 20-year-old to their hearts at the season-opening Grand Slam, cheering on her stirring wins to reach the final.

While spectators Down Under have never warmed to Russian ice-princess Sharapova, Ivanović has credited the buzz generated by her vocal supporters with getting her over the line at least twice at this year's tournament.

She dedicated her battling win over Venus Williams in the quarters to the crowd, and then again thanked her supporters after coming from eight games down to beat Daniela Hantuchová in the semis.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would be already booking my flight back home," she told the fans after downing Hantuchová.

In the absence this year of Kim Clijsters - once dubbed "Aussie Kim" by besotted locals - Ivanović has been adopted as the new darling of Melbourne Park.

Sharapova, on the other hand, provokes a different crowd-reaction, with fans cheering on her opponents even as they gasp and clap politely at the Russian's powerful shot-making.

Melbourne Park spectators canvassed by AFP put Sharapova's unpopularity down to her prickly demeanour, her infamous grunt and the antics of her father Yuri, who made a throat-slitting gesture when his daughter beat Justine Henin.

"I think Ivanović's a little bit more friendly, that's for sure," Patrick Zellweger told AFP.

Zellweger said the crowd could be a major factor in a tight match.

"If it goes to three sets and it's 4-4 or 5-5, then it could really make a difference," he said.

Melbourne-based Anastasia Gray said she was a Sharapova-fan, but did not advertise the fact too loudly.

"She's got such great power, and looked awesome against Justine," she said.

"I know her dad's a bit of an idiot, but that shouldn't be put on her.

"To me, she's a bit like Lleyton Hewitt: they really get on your nerves, but you still want them to win."

Serb expatriate Radisav Bozović said Ivanović's bubbly personality and compatriot Novak Đoković's antics had helped improve his country's image in Australia, where perceptions are still tinged by conflicts arising from the break-up of Yugoslavia.

"She has a beautiful personality, and maybe Sharapova cheats with the grunt," he said.

"But they're both glamour-girls, so it will be a good match to watch."
<<<

Ana's Australian Open Blog
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1968
>>>
Today I will basically do as little as possible! I'll have a practice at lunchtime, during which time my adviser Sven Groeneveld and I will talk about my tactics for tomorrow's match. Obviously it's a final, so it's a very important match, but at the same time I've played Maria four times before, so I know her game reasonably well. Practice will be quite light, because I want to save as much mental energy as I can and not concentrate on any activities too much. I'm quite an excitable person, and I'm still learning how to deal with many different situations. I didn't deal with my first Grand Slam final very well, but I'm confident I can use that experience to my advantage tomorrow.
<<<

COMIC RELIEF
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Maria Sharapova is hoping for a few laughs before getting down to the serious business of the Australian Open women's final.

While millions of tennis fans tuned in to watch No. 1 Roger Federer and third-seeded Novak Đoković determine which would advance to Sunday's men's final, Sharapova said she preferred to prepare with some lighter entertainment.

"The day before my match is usually movie-night," she said. "We select a comedy."

Sharapova admitted she might have sneaked a peek at a couple of points of the men's match.

"I might stop it and watch a few games," she said, "then watch my movie."
<<<

5.2 Maria's prefinal press-conference (Friday 25th January)
-------------------------------------

Source: www.australianopen.com

Q. How are you feeling, 24 hours to go?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Really good. I feel really excited. I'm glad I get the chance to go out there again in the final and give myself another opportunity to be the champion here.

Q. You've won two Grand Slams. What has your match-preparation been like for this one compared to the others? Much the same?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Pretty much. It always goes the usual routine: you know, a little practice, just a little nap, the day's over before you know it, in between the semis and final.

But, you know, this is a Grand Slam that I obviously have not won, and one that I'd love to win. One match away from it. So, you know, it's a great opportunity for me.

Q. Do you have any superstitions?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really, no. I have a few, but I don't really think about them any more. <smiling>

Q. What are some of those?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I don't know! <laughter> I don't talk about them.

Q. In your previous Grand Slam finals, you always faced a player older than you. This is the first time you're facing a player that you've got more experience than. Is that going to feel different?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: It's hard to say until I actually go out there. She's already been in a Grand Slam final. You know, who knows. When you go out there, it really depends on how you feel you're playing. Her chance is just as good as mine. We're both Grand Slam finalists. We're here. We've had a great two weeks of tennis.

You never know until you actually go out there. I hope that I can perform as well as I have throughout the tournament here.

Q. Do you still have burning disappointments from the French Open last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, not really, because I wasn't a hundred percent when I was playing there. You know, I wasn't serving past 90 miles per hour. I think that was my average serve speed. So, I mean, it's gonna be pretty difficult to win a Grand Slam semi-finals when that's your average serve-speed.

Q. Was that because of the shoulder?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah.

Q. Who is the favourite for tomorrow's match: you or Ana?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. You tell me. I don't know. I don't think it really matters who the favourite is.

Q. She's No. 2.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, on paper she definitely is.

Q. So she is the favourite?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I don't know who is. We'll see tomorrow.

Q. You're active in many areas: art, sport. Have you ever had a chance to be into an emotional sport like free-style motorcross?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: No, but I love cars and I love speed, anything from racetracks to jetskis, I'm all over that. I love that. When I used to train in Spain a couple times a few years ago, we'd always go on the four-wheelers, those low sports-cars. We would race. I love that adrenaline-rush.

Q. Trying to erase last year's bad memory of last year's final, does it give you more energy for tomorrow's final?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I'm not going to worry about that. I forgot that final a long time ago. I think I was just more glad to be in the final after almost being down and out in the first round. You can look at it both ways.

I think I'm just more excited about having another opportunity to get the chance to win.

Q. It looks like you're on a mission. From your first match, you're so impressive. Is that because you had a disappointing or frustrating year last year?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, not - it was frustrating, but it was a great learning-experience. I think it made me stronger because I didn't give up. When I did have the opportunity to train and wake up in the morning feeling really good, you know, with my body and my shoulder, I was just so excited about going on the court. And I missed it.

And when I had the opportunity to train in the off-season for about five weeks, really with high intensity, you know, working really hard, playing in the morning, having lunch, going back out on the court, it was hard work. But looking back, I really enjoyed that work.

Once you know that you've had that and you've given it your all, when you come to a tournament, you know, you hope that that work transitions into the match-court. I've done it before, you know. Not always is it going to come so soon. But, I mean, the hard work will always pay off. If it's not next week, maybe it's next year. You never know.

Q. It's something you hear from many players that have been injured for a long time: they're more hungry, and realise how important tennis is for them.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You sometimes forget when you're healthy how fortunate you are to actually be healthy, because when you're not, you're sitting at home, and it's that feeling like something is limiting you to doing what you actually love to do. It's a terrible feeling. I mean, there's no doubt about it. Every athlete goes through it. You just realise how lucky you are. You put so many things into perspective.

Q. Coming into this event, did you feel you were going to be performing at this level? If you didn't, when did you feel like your game started to click?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I felt like I was hitting the ball good. I had a few matches in Asia where, you know, I worked on a few things. I worked through the matches, you know. Even though I was playing exhibition-matches, I was still training; I was practising before them. I didn't take it as a tournament; I took it as practice-weeks.

I felt ready. I physically felt good. I was hitting the ball good. So, yeah, there was no doubt in my mind. Of course, you never know what can happen. On any given day, anything can happen. So you're just fortunate that you are able to bring that good performance on the court.

Q. So you haven't surprised yourself at all these two weeks?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I know what tennis I'm capable of producing. I've shown it before. I've done it in my career already. I've won two Grand Slams. I've been No. 1 in the world. I didn't do it just by waking up and eating ice-cream all day. I've worked for all the things that I have achieved. I know that I'm capable of achieving more.

That's what drives me to go back on the practice-court, because I know I can be a better player and I will be a better player.

Q. Do you become more reflective closer to a final of the journey you've taken to get here?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: You mean, do I look back on it?

Q. Do you consider your whole tennis-career, your whole life, when you get close to these big moments?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Definitely, these moments are what you play for. You know, the finals. Also, look, the match against Lindsay [Davenport], although it was a second round, I think the build-up to the match, the excitement when the draw came out, that was one of the most exciting early rounds in a Grand Slam. It's great to be a part of. I know there's always going to be a loser at the end of that day.

But as an athlete, I mean, you're also an entertainer. People buy tickets to see you perform. Although it's very competitive, you also feel like you're an entertainer. It's wonderful to be a part of these days where everyone's really excited about the match-ups and the situations. The whole build-up is great.

Q. What do you think of what's been written about the glamorous matchup, two beautiful women playing each other? What do you think about it when people talk that aspect of it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think the reason why we got to the final was because of our tennis and our performance. And I think that's something people should be looking at, yeah.

Q. Can you relate at all to what she's going through the last six months: rising very quickly, getting a lot of attention for off-the-court stuff?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, you know, it's interesting: everybody rises in different stages in their career. I mean, I think she's the same age as I am, right? It's definitely great to see, because, you know, not only do you have to get up there and kind of prove yourself that you're one of the top players, but you have to maintain that level.

I think she's done a good job of that, of getting to a Grand Slam final again, and giving herself another opportunity to win a Grand Slam for the first time.

You know, it's definitely great to see. It's always good when you see - I'm saying she's younger, but we're the same age! <laughter> It's great to see new names coming up that are doing well, that are bringing excitement and whatever it is - glamour - to the sport. Even to bring fans that are not just tennis-fans, but other fans into the sport, is wonderful.

Q. How about off the court? How do you feel she's handling all the off-the-court attention?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. I think you'd have to ask her that.

Q. What do you say to people who say they don't like the noises you make when you play tennis?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Oh, I've done it for so long. I've done it since I was four years old. That's just the way I am.

Q. Are you going to watch [Novak] Đoković and [Roger] Federer tonight?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: The day before my match is usually movie-night. We select like a comedy and watch it. So I don't know. I might stop it and watch a few games, then watch my movie, yeah.

Q. Who is your favourite to win tonight?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don't know. It's going to be a great match. I mean, it's a semi-final of a Grand Slam. But, you know, Novak has given him trouble in the past. But, of course, you've got to go with the favourite, which is Roger.


Ana's prefinal press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-25/200801251201238448459.html

------------------------
6. Women's Doubles final (Friday 25th January)
------------------------

The name's Bondarenko...

+ Alyona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko d. (SHAHAR PE'ER/VICTORIA AZARENKA)[12], 2-6 6-1 6-4

I saw the Bondarenko-sisters up close at Birmingham 2007, and now - less than 7 months later - they are Grand Slam champions!

They have played 38 tournaments together, but haven't even won a WTA Tour doubles-title together (Alyona won İstanbul 2006 with Anastasiya Yakimova).


6.1 Articles
------------

Bondarenko-sisters win first doubles-title (Reuters)
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Ukraine's Alyona and Kateryna Bondarenko overcame sibling-rivalry to win their first Women's Doubles title at the Australian Open on Friday.

The sisters came from a set down to win 2-6 6-1 6-4 against 12th seeds Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Israeli Shahar Pe'er in a match lasting nearly two hours and uncharacteristically dominated by baseline-rallies.

"Last year we play not very good doubles, because sometimes we fight on the court," Alyona Bondarenko told reporters.

"But now we start to listen each other and understand, and maybe that's the key."

It was the first time the Bondarenko-sisters had won a doubles-title in their 38th tournament playing together.

Their previous best was reaching three semi-finals in WTA Tour events.

They had the chance to serve for the match at 5-2, but were broken before sealing victory on their first match-point at 5-4 when Azarenka hit a backhand return into the net.

They said they would continue to play both singles and doubles - Alyona was seeded 21st in the singles at Melbourne Park - but would prefer not to meet each other in tournaments.

"Yeah, for me it's not easy, because she plays more winners, good serve, good shots," Alyona said of her younger sister.

"For me it's very tough, because she knows me and can easier win with me."
<<<

NO DOUBLES TROUBLE
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Ukrainian sisters Alyona and Kateryna Bondarenko finally stopped their on-court squabbling. Now they're heading home with an Australian Open doubles-championship.

"Last year, we played not very good doubles because sometimes we fought on the court," Alyona said. "Now we start to listen to each other and understand, and maybe that's the key."

That newfound family-harmony helped the pair to a 2-6 6-1 6-4 victory over 12th-seeded Victoria Azarenka and Shahar Pe'er in Friday's final.

Alyona, 23, and Kateryna, 21, corrected each other and answered each other's questions after the match, as they described how it felt to be Grand Slam winners.

"We probably don't really know yet that we won a Grand Slam," Kateryna said.

"I mean we know, but ...," Kateryna continued, before Alyona finished the thought.

"...we don't understand it," Alyona said.

Alyona, seeded 21st in the singles-draw, failed to progress past the second round, while Kateryna was knocked out in the first.

The pair, coached by their mother Natalia, are 3:3 from their six singles Tour-matches against each other, and definitely prefer sharing the court on the same team.

"I don't like to play against my sister," Kateryna said.

"Yeah, for me it's not easy because she plays more winners, has a good serve, good shots," Alyona added. "For me it's very tough, because she knows me and can easier win with me."
<<<

Match-report and final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta020608.html

-----------------
7. Girls' Singles
-----------------
7.1 Quarter-final result (Thursday 24th January)
------------------------

+ Jessica Moore d. Jasmina Tinjić, 6-4 6-0


7.2 Semi-final result (Friday 25th January)
---------------------

+ Jessica Moore d. SIMONA HALEP [10], 6-2 6-2


7.3 Final-draw
--------------

* Jessica Moore v ARANTXA RUS [14] (go Jessica!)

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

Rod Laver Arena: day-session (start 13:30 AEDT = 02:30 GMT)
WS final: MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] v ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF]
MD final: (JONATHAN ERLICH/ANDY RAM)[8] v (ARNAUD CLÉMENT/MICHAËL LLODRA)[7]
BS final: BERNARD TOMIĆ [5] v YANG,TSUNG-HUA [10]

For those in the UK, the final will be televised live on BBC 1 from 02:20 GMT, with highlights on BBC 2 from 13:00 to 14:00 GMT. The final will be replayed on BBCi repeatedly from 07:00 to 21:00 GMT.

Here in the UK, Neighbours is up to the French Open 2007: today, Miranda brought Bridget out of her coma by telling her that there was a seeded upset when Ioana Raluca Olaru beat Julia Vakulenko!

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

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

andrewbroad
Jan 30th, 2008, 09:19 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. Women's Singles final: TV-report
3. Men's Singles final
4. Mixed Doubles final
5. Girls' Singles final
6. UK TV-alert: Transworld Sport

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

Maria Sharapova:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/403/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=sharapova
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310137.html

Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic

Sania Mirza (Mixed Doubles finalist):
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/461/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=mirza
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta310112.html

Jessica Moore (Girls' Singles finalist):
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=jessica+moore
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta313831.html

Search Getty Images for:
sharapova
ivanovic
mirza
jessica moore

New photos of Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović added:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/

Various players including Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7210369.stm

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

-----------------------------------
2. Women's Singles final: TV-report (Saturday 26th January)
-----------------------------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF], 7-5 6-3

A thoroughly-deserved Grand Slam title for Maria, who was on fire all the way to the final - particularly her destructions of Lindsay Davenport (6-1 6-3) and Justine Henin (6-4 6-0), both of which I saw on BBCi. She didn't drop a set all tournament, but the first set of the final was certainly the toughest of her tournament, and Ana was the only player to take 8 games off her.

They not only /looked/ great, they /sounded/ great too! Most of Maria's grunts were what the late Bill Threlfall described as her 'song-grunt': that pure, high-pitched shriek. While Ana's grunt is quieter: like a moan with a sexy twang to it.

A final so full of talent, so full of beauty, but I must admit that the quality of the tennis - played in heat of up to 35°C - was rather ragged. Both girls played brilliantly in patches, but they both made some horrendous unforced errors too. Ana in particular seemed to think that she had to go for broke to have a shot at winning. The rallies would have been much better had Daniela Hantuchová won through to the final instead of Ana.

Close score, but what the match really lacked was them both playing well at the same time. Most of the rallies were very short, with either one player dominating and hitting a quick winner, or an error. The best rally was probably the 12th point of the second set (0-0* Ad Maria), where Maria seemed to have all the initiative as she came in behind a searing crosscourt forehand, but Ana completely turned the point on its head with a brilliant defensive forehand lob onto the baseline.

The best passage of play was the first six games of the match. Ana made a good start, holding serve twice for 2-1*. Then Maria showed some of the unbelievable brilliance that destroyed Henin - not just power but accuracy - as she broke and held for 4-2*.

But then Maria completely disintegrated in front of our eyes, throwing in three double faults in the *4-3 game as Ana broke back and then took a 5-4* lead. In those three games, Ana was on top form, looking to make the first strike, and hitting winners at will. Suddenly, Maria's victory looked in great danger as she served at *4-5 (0/30) after two winners by Ana!

But Ana's bubble burst just as suddenly, as the winners she'd been hitting turned into wild mishits (including that infamous dropshot into the bottom of the net at 15/30, and she pushed a horrendous forehand over the baseline on the next point), and she lost the first set 7-5.

The second set was more settled. Maria squandered two break-points in a long first game of five deuces, but games went with serve until 3-3. Then Ana cracked with a bad service-game in which Maria hit a stunning forehand pass-winner down the line en route to *4-3.

Maria held comfortably for 5-3*, Ana played two more horrendous points to go 0/30, and Maria set up three championship-points with a blazing short-angled off-forehand winner onto the sideline. She wasted the first two with near misses, but at 30/40 she came to the net, forcing Ana to hit a forehand pass wide.

Both girls gave very emotional speeches at the presentation-ceremony: Ana started crying as she thanked the fans in the stadium, and Maria seemed close to tears herself as she dedicated her victory to her coach Michael Joyce's mother, who died of cancer last year. Hers truly was the greatest speech of all time!

At Birmingham 2007, I observed several signs that Maria may have been losing her motivation. After reading her final Australian Open 2008 press-conference, I now realise that the death of Jane Joyce may have been a major factor in that.

It's always so sweet whenever Maria wins a Grand Slam, but the time when I felt all those bubbles of joy sweep through me was not when she won the final, but when she beat Henin in the quarter-finals. I thought at the beginning of the tournament that she had a nightmare-draw, but she came through it with flying colours, and after her brilliant passage to the semi-finals - without a Williams-sister in sight - her last two match-wins were very much expected.

Ana should be very pleased with and encouraged by her tournament: she was brilliant against Tathiana Garbin in the second round, and got her first win over a Williams-sister. I believe she will be the next first-time Women's Singles Grand Slam champion, but she's not quite there yet in terms of the mental strength, nerves, focus, intensity and ability to rise to the occasion that Maria has.

Virginia Wade: "Ivanovic is a player who plays more on emotion and adrenaline, whereas I think Sharapova plays more on cold, hard, calculated determination."

I admit that Ana is a brilliant player, and that her beauty has improved this year (she has one of the best pony-tails on the Tour, and I love the way she presses her lips in as she waits to receive serve) - so why am I a demi-fan but not an Eternal Fan? I must confess that the thought has crossed my mind this month.

To induct a player into my Eternal Fanship, I require two things: Passion and Reason. Ana satisfies the Reason, but I just don't have the Passion to follow her career with that level of commitment. There's no better test of Passion than how I would feel about a player I like becoming a Grand Slam champion at the expense of Maria winning another one: I felt a very strong loyalty to Maria in this final, particularly when she looked in danger of losing the first set.


Read my full TV-report at
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html


Ana's final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-26/200801261201327770396.html

----------------------
3. Men's Singles final (Sunday 27th January)
----------------------

+ NOVAK ĐOKOVIĆ [3] d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7/2)

An intriguing final between those who conquered Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in straight sets in their respective semi-finals, this probably had the best rallies of any men's match I've seen this Australian Open.

A long overdue changing of the guard in men's tennis: this is the first Grand Slam since the Australian Open 2005 to be won by someone other than Federer or Nadal! At last the men's game is beginning to show some depth.

----------------------
4. Mixed Doubles final (Sunday 27th January)
----------------------

- Sania Mirza [DF]/Mahesh Bhupathi lt. (SUN,TIANTIAN/NENAD ZIMONJIĆ)[5], 6-7 (4/7) 4-6

It sure would have been nice if Sania could have finished her career with a Grand Slam title before she goes to prison for dishonouring the Indian flag.

-----------------------
5. Girls' Singles final (Saturday 26th January)
-----------------------

- Jessica Moore lt. ARANTXA RUS [14], 3-6 4-6

Fairy-tales don't always have a happy ending, do they?

--------------------------------
6. UK TV-alert: Transworld Sport
--------------------------------

Watch out for highlights of the Australian Open finals in next week's Transworld Sport. For those in the UK, Transworld Sport will be televised on Channel 4 on Sunday 3rd February from 06:35 to 07:25 GMT.

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

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

andrewbroad
Dec 28th, 2008, 10:28 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Third round (Saturday 19th January)
-----------

Nice winner, nice loser:
- ANNA CHAKVETADZE [6,EF] lt. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 7-6 (8/6) 1-6 2-6

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

It was a mouthwatering match - not just because Anna and Maria are the two cutest players in the world, but in tennis-terms! The first set was very high quality: Anna had the upper hand as her early, flat, deceptive groundstrokes were difficult for Maria to read and gave Maria little time to react.

But it was Anna who got tired after the first set, while Maria played a brilliant second set: her down-the-line groundstrokes began to find their mark, she mixed up the pace with high looping balls and sliced backhands, and retrieved really well, while unforced errors crept into Anna's game.

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/chakv/australian_open2008.html

It also includes reviews of Anna's first two matches (adding no new information to the reports I posted here at the time).

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Dec 29th, 2008, 10:41 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Fourth round (Monday 21st January)
------------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. MARIA KIRILENKO [27,DF], 1-6 6-4 6-4

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

It was a mouthwatering match - not just because Daniela and Maria are two of the most attractive players in the world, but in tennis-terms! They played some great spreading rallies; most of the points ended on forced errors; the serving was fast and extremely accurate, but without too many short points as a result; Daniela hit some outstanding second serves as she fought back from 1-3* to 5-3* in the second set, while Maria hit some amazing returns off good first serves.

Something seemed to click in Daniela when she was 1-6 1-3* (0/30*) down. She hit an off-forehand winner, then got the bit between her teeth, and never looked back - at least until *5-2 (40/15) in the third!

Maria seemed to be the more nervous of the two, and was also hampered by a right-thigh injury towards the end of the third set, which she had the trainer evaluate at *3-5 and took a medical time-out at 4-5*.

I'm impressed by the improvement of Maria's game compared to the times I watched her play in 2004-2007. She does have a lot more firepower than she did in 2005, and she retrieves very well too, and can mix up the pace with high, looping shots and sliced backhands. I do wish she would flatten out her groundstrokes rather than hitting them with so much topspin, though - it would make them more attractive, more effective as approach-shots, and more effective on grass.

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/australian_open2008.html

It also includes reviews of Daniela's first three matches (adding no new information to the reports I posted here at the time).

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 1st, 2009, 03:03 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Quarter-final (Wednesday 23rd January 2008)
-------------

+ DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF] d. AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [29], 6-2 6-2

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

This was the match with which Daniela reached her first-ever Major semi-final, and now that I've actually seen the match myself, I can say that it was a very high-quality performance from Daniela!

Daniela was full of confidence, constantly spreading her opponent, hitting her flairsome groundstrokes with terrific pace and depth, and also showing versatility such as forehand drive-volleys off the many lobs she forced, and the magnificent backhand lob-winner that she hit at *4-2 (15/0) in the first set.

Daniela: "I think every player knows what I'm talking about when you get to that moment when you feel like everything you touch is going in."

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/australian_open2008.html

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

CooCooCachoo
Jan 2nd, 2009, 04:10 PM
You crack me up :haha:

I keep thinking you are a running gag, but I guess I'm wrong.

andrewbroad
Jan 13th, 2009, 10:53 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Semi-final (Thursday 24th January 2008)
----------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

I have written up a detailed description of each and every point, and also transcribed parts of the commentary, and the players' on-court interviews before and after the match.

Daniela led 6-0 2-0* (40/40), and also had a break-point at 3-2* in the third set - which went with serve until Daniela at *4-4 netted a forehand volley that should have been an easy putaway.

Now that I've actually watched the match: it was still a great performance from Daniela - in this match as well as the previous. She did make some blatant unforced errors at times, but I don't think I've ever seen her hit the ball better, serve better, or move better, than she did at the Australian Open 2008. Her problem was - as always - between the ears.

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/australian_open2008.html

--
Dr. Andrew Broad

andrewbroad
Jan 17th, 2009, 08:50 PM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Semi-final (Thursday 24th January 2008)
----------

+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ [3], 6-3 6-1

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

I have written up a detailed description of each and every point, and also transcribed parts of the commentary, and the players' on-court interviews before and after the match.

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html

--
Dr. Andrew Broad