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post #1 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 18th, 2004, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Nasdaq 2004

Justine to avoid Serena clash in Miami

World number one Justine Henin-Hardenne confirmed on Thursday rumours that she will skip next week's WTA Miami tournament, postponing a much-anticipated showdown with Serena Williams, herself back in the game after an eight-month injury layoff.

Henin-Hardenne rejected claims that she is avoiding the former world number one Williams, stressing she is just tweaking her calendar to best defend her 2003 French Open title.

"You have to make choices," Henin-Hardenne told the AP wire service. "I want to be ready at 100 percent for the French Open," she added, saying she will be in the draw for Amelia Island starting April 5, a tournament -- like Roland Garros -- played on clay, Henin-Hardenne's fetish surface.

As for Williams, Henin-Hardenne welcomed the American back into the WTA fold.

"I think that's really good news," she told the AP. "It's great for the people that are coming to watch tennis. It's great for the WTA, for the players, for everyone."

Six-time grand slam champ Williams has been on hiatus since left-knee surgery on August 1 of last year.

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post #2 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 18th, 2004, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Henin-Hardenne, Clijsters will skip Nasdaq-100
Published March 18, 2004

The Nasdaq-100, which begins Wednesday at Key Biscayne, has now lost the top two seeds -- No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne and No. 2 Kim Clijsters -- with the news Wednesday that Henin-Hardenne is declining to play.

That will elevate Serena Williams to the top seed, even though she hasn't played in eight months, and sister Venus Williams will be seeded second. As a result, the Williamses will not play each other unless they reach the final.

Henin-Hardenne's decision, plus a wrist injury to Clijsters, was a blow to a women's tour that has been hurt by injuries this year.

Third-ranked Amelie Mauresmo is trying to get over a bad back and is considered 50-50 to play. Sixth-ranked Jennifer Capriati also has a bad back, but she is practicing and will play. Ninth-ranked Chanda Rubin is trying to come back from a knee injury.

Clijsters' absence is no surprise. She dropped out of Indian Wells earlier this week with what seemed to be a minor wrist injury. But Wednesday she said that it's more serious than first thought and that she could be out six weeks.

"I am not allowed to move my wrist for 10 days," she said. "At that stage a further diagnosis will be made, and if it is negative, it would mean up to three more weeks of full rest."

But the Henin-Hardenne decision was a complete surprise. She said she would skip the Nasdaq and a potential showdown with Serena Williams in order to concentrate on the clay court season, which leads up to the French Open (May 24-June 6). She'll next play at Amelia Island.

"You have to make a choice in your life. I like to play on clay court. I want to be ready for sure for the French Open, and I need a couple of tournaments. It's my favorite surface."

Henin-Hardenne hasn't lost a set on her way to the quarterfinals in the hard court tournament at Indian Wells this week.

In the past she has not had great success at Key Biscayne. In three appearances, from 2001-2003, she reached the third round, second round and quarterfinals.

"Two big tournaments in a row, I think it's a little bit too much," she said.

"I'm sure it's going to be tough when I have to play against Serena again. I'm sure she's going to come back really strong," Henin-Hardenne said. "Serena is a great player. She won so many titles. She's a champion. When she comes back, I think she will want to win a lot of tournaments. We have to be ready for that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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post #3 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 19th, 2004, 03:19 AM
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I don't much care what Justine does or why she does it. My total attention is on Serena's debut. I wish her luck and I soooo cannot wait until next week. I wonder what outfit she'll have on post-Puma.
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post #4 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 20th, 2004, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Tennis-Williams sisters are back and eager to prove a point
By Ossian Shine, Reuters

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - There's a whisper going round the tennis circuit -- the Williams sisters are history, their domination of the women's tour a thing of the past.

Some merely suspect it, some speak about it quietly. Others, like Martina Hingis and Jelena Dokic, blurt it out as fact.

It seems, however, that nobody has bothered to tell Serena and Venus.

The sisters return as a double-act at the $3 million NASDAQ-100 Open next week for the first time since Wimbledon 2003. It is an eagerly-awaited comeback.

Injuries sidelined both players following that grasscourt grand slam where Serena beat Venus in the final. Their absence precipitated a new order in the women's game.

Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters stole the number one ranking, grand slam titles and the sisters' thunder.

How the Americans will now deal with that Belgian assault is a topic keeping the women's circuit rapt.

Nine months away from tennis has made Serena ravenous for court-time and success.

"I found out my true love is tennis," she said this week. "I've been feeling the hunger for quite some time."

CLAYCOURT PREPARATIONS

Sadly Serena will not have the chance to challenge world number one Henin-Hardenne head on in Miami.

The Belgian has elected not to play, preferring to concentrate on her claycourt preparations ahead of the defence of her French Open crown in May.

Serena's elder sister Venus -- also a former world number one -- has played just three tournaments since the Wimbledon final and has disappointed on each occasion.

Next week's tournament will give the best indication yet whether or not she is capable of returning to the pinnacle of the sport.

The comfort of having her sister at her side will act as a boost to the four-times grand slam champion and Serena's return could be the catalyst Venus needs to re-enter the winners' circle.

Hingis certainly believes Venus needs Serena around to compete at her best.

"What makes them strong is if they're together," she told Reuters last month. "But for one alone it's difficult."

Even united, the siblings may not be able to reclaim their place at the top of the pile, the now-retired Swiss says.

"People ask me about a comeback, but look at Venus. I don't want to end up like that even if I was healthy. The train is moving fast," Hingis said.

"VERY BEATABLE"

Venus suffered a third round defeat at the Australian Open this year followed by quarter-final losses in Tokyo and Dubai.

The performances were a million miles away from the tennis she produced to win two Wimbledon and two U.S. Open titles in 2000 and 2001.

Dokic agrees with Hingis's downbeat assessment.

"Serena dominated for a year, year-and-a-half and now she's been gone almost a year," the Yugoslav told ********************.

"Even while she was number one, she was injured a lot of the time. And Venus hasn't done that well.

"That story is over. Justine and Kim are the ones who are winning everything now."

The Williamses don't agree. Serena, who lost her U.S. and Australian Open crowns to Henin-Hardenne while she was away, wants her spoils back.

"We've both been working really hard and planning on making a lot of noise," Serena said. "It means a lot to me to come back because I've been in a lot of pain watching others play while I've been out.

"I want to give it my all.

"If I didn't feel confident that I could get back to my level again, I would have no business returning."

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post #5 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 24th, 2004, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Serena has something to prove

COMMENTARY
By Tracy Austin
NBC Sports
Updated: 9:12 p.m. ET March 23, 2004

After an eight-month layoff due to a knee injury, Serena Williams' return to competitive tennis carries with it one overriding question: How committed is she to again becoming the top player on the women's tour?


A CHOICE
TO MAKE

I can't think of a past champion who didn't have tunnel vision when it came to tennis.

During her absence from the sport, Serena was involved with two of her other interests --fashion designing and acting.

This helped lead to speculation that she was no longer keenly interested in tennis.

Serena, however, says tennis remains her true love.

In the coming months, she'll have to prove that to those who question whether tennis is still her top priority and whether she has lost her hunger to succeed in the sport.

If Serena is interested in making a full comeback, her focus is going to have to center on tennis.


Nobody has tried to juggle being No. 1 in women's tennis with acting and designing.

If Serena wants to make tennis her No. 1 priority, she has the talent, ability and athleticism to again become the top-ranked player in the world.

But if she's vacillating between acting, designing and tennis -- which she says that she is not -- top opponents like Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne are going to be tough to beat because they are fully committed to the sport.

TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Doctors predicted Serena's return to tennis from an Aug. 1 knee operation would come around two months after the surgery, but instead it took eight months for the 22-year-old to make it back onto the WTA Tour.

It will be important for Serena to quickly assert herself on the court.

If she doesn't, she runs the risk of losing at least a bit of the aura of invincibility and dominance that surrounds her presence and her game.

Without again establishing herself as an intimidating force in women's tennis, Serena could find that when opponents take the court against her, they will be thinking they have a shot at winning.

That would be in contrast to a year or two ago when players were thinking what an uphill battle it was to have to face the younger of the Williams' sisters.

Over the eight months of Serena's recovery, other top players, most notably Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, have taken their games up another notch.

Also, Lindsay Davenport has gotten healthy after missing time with an injury.

Serena is coming back to a circuit that's tougher than the one she left after being injured last summer.

ROAD BACK NOT AN EASY ONE
Serena and her older sister, Venus, have not played in a slew of tournaments over the last two seasons.

In the past, the Williams' sisters have been known to return to top form quicker than most players following a layoff.

This time around it may be different for Serena and for Venus, who is coming back from injuries that cost her most of last season.

Serena says she is in fantastic shape and that she did practice hard while out, especially in the two weeks leading up to her return in Miami.

No matter how much she practiced while sidelined, it's not the same as actually playing matches.

On many occasions following an injury, a player's game comes back first, and later that player's mental toughness returns.

Serena could work off the rust pretty quickly, but it could be a while before she gets her mental toughness back and feels comfortable playing critical points and dealing with the pressures of a match.

TRAGEDY STRIKES
Serena delayed her comeback several times before Miami.

I'm sure the murder last September of her half-sister, Yetunde Price, overwhelmed Serena.

Price was shot in Compton, Calif., about a mile from the public courts on which Serena and Venus learned to play tennis.

Maybe being out of tennis and out of the public eye helped Serena start the healing process.

Maybe she needed some time since she was so close to her half-sister.

It would have been wrong for anyone to deny her that time.

THE CHALLENGE THAT AWAITS
Serena came back to tennis on her own timetable.

Getting her back playing is good news for Nike, which last December signed her to a huge endorsement contract.

And it could be great news for women's tennis, which has missed her drawing power.

But the six-time Grand Slam singles champion comes off a long absence from the game to find Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters holding court as the two top players in the world.

Opinion is divided over whether Serena will make the commitment needed to challenge the two Belgians for supremacy in women's tennis.

Getting Serena to settle this debate will be fun to watch as the coming months in women's tennis should prove very interesting and exciting.

© 2004 MSNBC Interactive

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post #6 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 24th, 2004, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Serena returns to WTA Tour



On the eve of the Serena Williams' return to the women's tour after a nine-month hiatus, four players in the world's top ten have declared their intentions to skip the tournament in need of a rest or recuperation, while some suggest the days of overwhelming domination are over, writes James Buddell.

The Venus and Serena double act returns, in one of the most eagerly awaited comebacks in women's sports to a tour that has changed beyond recognition.

While Serena's elder sister Venus, has played three tournaments in 2004 it'll be the return of the 22-year-old that will set the photographers and reporters hard at work.

When Serena was asked earlier this week, whether her prolonged absence, since last year's Wimbledon final, has made her hungry she said: "I found out my true love is tennis."

And rather ominously, she added: "I've been feeling the hunger for quite some time."

RETURN TO TOUR

The Williams' will return to a tour unfamiliar to them, and it will seem as if they are starting their professional careers once more, in an attempt to restore their reputations as fearless competitors.

When the pair left there were only a handful of players whose mantra was based around superior conditioning and fitness. Now there are dozens.

Additionally, the rise of Anastasia Myskina and in recent weeks Svetlana Kuznetsova plus a production line of Russian players means that the tour has grown in strength.

Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters have seized control of the world rankings and continued their own Williams-style duopoly of the Grand Slam championships.

But neither will be in Miami to witness the red carpet return.

Henin-Hardenne, the world number one has opted to prepare for the clay-court season, while 20-year-old Clijsters is nursing a wrist injury, which may keep her out for six weeks.

World number three, Amelie Mauresmo is recovering from injury and the death of her father, Francis, as Lindsay Davenport, last week's finalist in Indian Wells, needs time to rest.

So with the top-four ranked players out, next week's tournament will give the American duo an opportunity to shake off the rust and get a few matches under their belts.

Many commentators believe that it may take as much as three months, to be able to judge whether they have the capability and desire to return to the top of the tree.

DOUBLING UP

Venus will take great comfort in the fact that her younger sister has returned to the tour and it could be a catalyst for her return to the winners' circle.

Martina Hingis, the former world number one who retired in November 2002, told reporters last month that, "What makes them strong is if they're together, but for one alone it's difficult."

However, the Swiss was quick to state, that the siblings may not be able to reclaim their place at the top of the pile.

"People ask me about a comeback, but look at Venus. I don't want to end up like that even if I was healthy. The train is moving fast," Hingis said.

Jelena Dokic agrees with the 23-year-olds assessment.

"Serena dominated for a year, year-and-a-half and now she's been gone almost a year," said the Yugoslav.

"Even while she was number one, she was injured a lot of the time. And Venus hasn't done that well.

"That story is over. Justine and Kim are the ones who are winning everything now."

Serena doesn't agree, and says that watching Henin-Hardenne take her U.S. and Australian Open titles away has made her even more determined.

"We've both been working really hard and planning on making a lot of noise," Serena said.

"It means a lot to me to come back because I've been in a lot of pain watching others play while I've been out.

"I want to give it my all.

"If I didn't feel confident that I could get back to my level again, I would have no business returning."

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post #7 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 24th, 2004, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Breaks Weren't Made for No. 1 Woman

Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium skipped the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells last year and there was no noticeable outcry from the media, sponsors or spectators. Her absence fell well under the radar.

That's life at No. 4 in the world.

At No. 1? Any mistake, any misstep and the player will be aired out by any or all of those groups. Last week's report that Henin-Hardenne was missing the NASDAQ-100 tournament starting Wednesday in Miami fell into that category.

In fact, that was not news. As far back as January, it was known that Henin-Hardenne would not be playing at Miami. The WTA Tour had that information in its weekly release on Feb. 23.

Lindsay Davenport also is skipping that tournament, but she seemed to escape serious scrutiny. Remember, life is different at No. 4.

You can make the same arguments about Henin-Hardenne that were directed at Venus and Serena Williams in the last year, that she's not properly supporting the tour from her influential position of No. 1 and holder of four titles in 2004. But the system allows her to skip Miami, which is viewed in some quarters as the next-most important tournament after the four Grand Slams.

Players have long been criticized for pulling out of events. Even Wimbledon champion Maud Watson must have pulled out of some tournament at the last minute in 1886 because of tendinitis. At Indian Wells, though, the system itself became a topic of discussion. Maybe it was because the top four players would be missing Miami or because the desultory Conchita Martinez-Anastasia Myskina match at Indian Wells was a quarterfinal in a Tier I tournament.

In any event, ideas were tossed around. One would tie mandatory minimums to entrance in Grand Slam events. For instance, it would take a minimum of 14 WTA tournaments played in one year to be eligible for the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the next year. The breakdown could be eight Tier I events and six in Tier II, or nine and five.

The men are required to play the Masters Series events. In a perfect, injury-free world, they all would. It doesn't happen. Andre Agassi missed six last year, and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia skipped four.

But the men aren't the ones struggling with a shortfall of stars, and at Indian Wells, the ATP was missing only one top player, Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, who was out with chickenpox.

Now, Grand Slam eligibility isn't tied to mandatory minimums.

Women's tennis is run by the WTA; men's tennis, by the ATP; and the Slams are controlled by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Pulling these groups together and getting them in the same room can be hard enough on routine matters. On ground-breaking reform … ?

It always comes back to the schedule, and pleas by the players for a shorter season. You can have mandatory requirements, but they are meaningless if someone is injured because of overplaying. The injuries and ailments on the WTA Tour have been staggering this year.

"That's our biggest problem — three out of the top 10 are healthy," Martina Navratilova said last week. "Everybody else is laid up. That's never happened before. That's our biggest problem. Two of the biggest stars — Venus hasn't done anything, and Serena hasn't played in eight months.

"That's our problem. You take away seven of the top 10 men's players and they're going to have problems. We're just in short supply right now. The top 10 is depleted. This is a coincidence? I just played doubles last year, and it was rough for me to get going into the next year again. I didn't have time to decompress."

Navratilova talked about the distractions that exist for the current stars on the tour, the magnetic pull of Hollywood.

"Most of the top players, they all want to get into acting," she said. "[Anna] Kournikova. Monica [Seles], that was [once] her goal. No, we were tennis players. Tennis is not a gateway to acting.

"But Venus took it to another plane with design, which is fine, but we've been talking about this for a couple of years now. You have to commit to the sport. You can't do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. You can't do a dual career, and excel in both of them."

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post #8 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2004, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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MIAMI: Venus and Serena Williams take a moment to chat during Wednesday's All-Access Hour at the NASDAQ-100 Open.

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Venus still struggling to cope with change, defeat


March 24, 2004
KEY BISCAYNE (AFP) - Venus Williams , still struggling to cope with injury and defeat, welcomed her younger sister Serena back to the WTA Tour, harkening back to memories of happier tennis times.

Sporting long, straight hair and a bright green top, Venus Williams looked little like the bead-tressed girl who back in 1997 caused laughter by saying she would be battling her then-unknown little sister for global tennis supremacy.

"It's nice to have Serena here and be with her. That's how it always was, us together," Venus said here Wednesday. "It was quite strange throughout the beginning of the year not to have her there."

But the once-inseperable siblings, who have met in six Grand Slam finals, are no longer the united front against the tennis establishment they once were.

The main evidence came when Venus was asked about Serena's training for the WTA and ATP Masters Series event that began here Wednesday.

"I don't know. I've seen her here, but we don't quite talk to each other about that," she said. "I haven't seen her in the past couple days. We have different schedules."

At 23, Williams has had to cope with the seperation of her parents and the shooting death last September of half-sister Yetunde Price last September. She has become a woman interested in far more than her youthful tennis dreams.

"As I get older, I see my interests change," she said. "I became a different person. I had that transition outside of tennis, the motivation to explore the horizons."

Asked why she was still playing tennis, her answer basically boiled down to having done it for so long and become so good at it, lacking any pretense at devotion to the sport.

"Probably because I have trained for 20 years to be where I am now," she said. "I don't envision giving up what I do best now."

Williams has also had to deal with defeat. Five Grand Slam losses came at the hands of sister Serena, the most recent of those last year at Wimbledon .

A fourth-round loss to Lisa Raymond in January's Australian Open dimmed interest in a comeback, her ranking having slid from second when she was here a year ago to 17th this week.

"The losses I suffered were very frustrating and challenging and traumatizing for sure," Venus Williams said.

"I haven't really practiced since playing that Raymond match. I got lucky one match in Japan.

"There's a lot more emotion actually that comes when you lose. You feel terrible. When you win it's all good. It feels normal. I've lost enough."

Serena Williams admitted that when the two were away from tennis last August with injuries, "we were pretty excited at first". But now the top seed admits that it is time to once again prove they have what it takes.

"We have been gone for a while," Serena Williams said. "People are probably wondering what we are up to, how we're playing, how we're looking."

One person she will not have to work hard to convince is Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon winner who has been injured most of the past two seasons. He has struggled to regain top form but expects Serena will have no problem.

"Serena is not going to have a tough time. She is one step in front," he said. "She has Henin, Clijsters and maybe Capriati. She maybe needs two or three tournaments and it's going to be like it was, Venus and Serena all the time."

Whether Venus lives up to her end of that deal remains to be seen. She has no sense of urgency despite her rankings plunge.

"I have no pressure. It's just me doing what I want to do," Venus said. "Really I'm trying hard to be healthy. I feel good. I was struggling with some injury issues. I have to take care of myself and make sure I don't try and do too much."

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post #14 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 25th, 2004, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Club Fed, Miami version
Serena faces tough draw

By Matthew Cronin
********************

J. Gregory Swendsen


The world's best will take on the field in Miami.
Since winning the Tennis Masters Cup, No. 1 Roger Federer has now taken down all the elite players who have given him trouble in the past: Tim Henman, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian. Who's left to push him hard? "That was an unbelievable turning point in my career," Federer said. "I know how to beat all those guys. I don't feel now there are many guys who really have an edge on me. That's important to me for the rest of the season."

That's doesn't mean that Federer will win the NASDAQ-100, but he will have had a good five days to recover from his impressive run at Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells and has to be called the favorite.
If he keeps up his sterling play much longer, the year-end No. 1 spot could be locked up half way through season. After the Swiss brushed aside ninth-seed Tim Henman 6-3, 6-3 to win his first Pacific Life Open final, the Briton showered him with accolades. "He proved he's the best player in the world right now," said Henman, who had beaten his six out of seven times coming into the match. "It's one of those occasions where I didn't perhaps played my best, but I wasn't allowed to."

Fed's draw in Miami isn't easy, with Nicolas Escude or Rafael Nadal as potential third-round foe, maybe Nico Massu in the fourth round and possibly Henman or Hewitt in the quarters. But as long as he's mentally and physically sound, Federer has a arsenal of weaponry that is spilling off his back like no one else. He's re-defining what all-court tennis means "I'm so confident that I have no problem switching from defense to offense, to play serve and volley or just wait for a mistake from my opponents." Federer said. BLAKE MIGHT BOMB OUT OF DAVIS CUP
With his third-set tank to Irakli Labadze in the IW quarters, James Blake all but played himself off the Davis Cup team. The odds are that Blake will lose in the first round to Vince Spadea (whom he lost to in Scottsdale), who's not the worst call ever for the number two spot. Again, it's Mardy Fish's spot to lose. But if Fish loses early in Miami, Captain Patrick McEnroe will have a tough call to make. Speaking of Americans, six-time champ Andre Agassi has a nice draw up to the quarters. His Miami record of six crowns is the only record that he one up on his 22-time Slam winning wife, Steffi Graf.

"Two years ago, I thought I passed her there," said the three-time defending champ. "I was sort of celebrating it around her. She was congratulating me, only for me to find out a few days later I hadn't passed her, I just tied her. She didn't have the heart to tell me that, which I appreciated."

Andy Roddick will have a tough go of it in Miami. Rising Romanian Victor Hanescu could be waiting in round two and then he may get a Davis Cup prelim against Jonas Bjorkman in the third round – unless Taylor Dent knocks off the Swede. … Best NASDAQ first round men's match: Tommy Haas vs. Guillermo Cañas.

JHH NEVER ENTERED NASDAQ
Just to echo my friend Lisa Dillman of the LA Times: Justine Henin-Hardenne never had the NASDAQ-100 on her schedule this year and did not pull out of the event. The same goes for Lindsay Davenport. No. 1 Henin-Hardenne has already played four straight weeks and would not have been making a smart move to go for six in a row. At this point for Ju-Ju, it's all about her Roland Garros defense and her planned assault on Wimbledon. For a much more extensive analysis on Justine's plans, read our interview with her coach, Carlos Rodriguez.

More Justine: After getting revenge on Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the IW quarters – the only woman who has beaten her this year – she played near perfect tennis, crushing fifth-ranked Anastasia Myskina in the semis and fourth-ranked Lindsay Davenport 6-1 6-4 in the final. "I'm a different and better player," said Henin-Hardenne of her first Pacific Life title. "I've changed a lot. We can see it on court. Maybe in the past when I wasn't playing well in this tournament I was already feeling pressure before coming here. This week, I've been able to stay focused."

Davenport said that although 5-foot-5 Henin-Hardenne isn't a giant, she can club with the best of them. "She generates just as much pace as the bigger girls," Davenport said. "I felt like even on my first serves, if I didn't hit them great, she was really going to go after them, especially with her forehand. With her second serve she put a lot of pressure on me, going for shots, and she stepped in on her backhand. It was tough. She was really aggressive and just took it to me."

Serena's faces tough draw

Serena's first tournament back could be a tough test.
It does look like film director Brett Ratner's girlfriend – one Serena Williams – will play the NASDAQ. She had better be in good form because in the second round, she'll likely face Marta Marrero, who's been balling in a big way as of late. If she survives that, the third round should bring the fearless Barbara Strycova and she could have a mouth-watering match-up with Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.

The women's tour is wracked with injuries, but a few notables who didn't play Indian Wells will appear in Miami, including Dinara Safina, Jennifer Capriati, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, Elena Dementieva and 14-year-old Nicole Vaidisova. Venus Williams has a quite interesting draw, with a potential round-two match-up with Daniela Hantuchova and a potential third-round Aussie revenge tussle with Lisa Raymond.

The top four will not play the NASDAQ (Henin-Hardenne, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo and Davenport), but if you're promoter Butch Buchholtz, would you rather market the Williamses, Capriati and Dementieva, or the aforementioned crew? That's an easy call in Florida.

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post #15 of 154 (permalink) Old Mar 26th, 2004, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Serena: I'm Back
Serena Williams (left) makes her much-anticipated return to the WTA Tour in Miami Friday as she opens her title defence at the NASDAQ-100 Open against Spanish qualifier Marta Marrero. The 22-year-old has not played a professional match since winning her second Wimbledon title last July, having undergone knee surgery in August.

Also making their 2004 Miami debuts on Day 3 are No.4 seed Jennifer Capriati, No.6 Ai Sugiyama and No.7 Vera Zvonareva

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