Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Photo Break...Stanford

Anna Chakvetadze at Treasure Island. It is great to see her so excited and confident again. I foresee a re-immersion into the Top 5 by next year.

First Round in Standford

In just the second day of first round matches, the draw in Stanford has already changed dramatically. Yesterday, Sugiyama, Bonderenko and Bammer advanced in unsurprising matches, but the big change occurred off the court. For what seems like the umpteenth time, Davenport has withdraw due to knee problems. Her comeback started so strong and healthily, its terrible that she's once again plagued by injuries. Lindsay's withdrawal opened the door for another comeback player, Sam Stosur, who has a current injury caused ranking of 104. Stosur was unable to qualify for the main draw, but she now advances as a Lucky Loser. Sam missed the last half of 2007 with Lyme disease and viral meningitis, but after a strong grass court showing she has an opportunity to continue her success. My Spoiler Pick for the Stanford tournament qualified yesterday and faces Gisela Dulko in the first round today. This match will be decided by serve, and if Michelle Larcher De Brito can maintain a high percentage of first serves, and a winning percentage on second, I feel she can knock out Dulko. The fifteen year old is only playing in her sixth tour level event and has the potential to assert herself once her ranking allows her to play more regularly (as a teen, she is still under Tour regulations based on age). Also playing today is Nadia Petrova. Although she steadied her shaky season in England, against rising star Cibulkova, I'll have to give the edge to the young Slovak. I would love to see Petrova recapture her old form but i don't see it happening quite yet. Peer and Mirza play as well and will come through their matches fairly easily.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Week Ahead...

Bank of the West Classic - Stanford, Calif. Player Spotlight
Anna Chakvetadze.
The first stop on the Olympus US Open Series, the Californian tournament hosts a plethora of great players and home favorites. The defending champion, Anna Chakvetadze is this year's second seed, with Serena Williams entering as number one. While she enjoyed a stellar season last year, this season Chakvetadze has struggled. After the terrible home invasion she endured during the off season, I, frankly, find it amazing that she was able to wina title so quickly, especially after she said that she had not regained full feeling in her hands until January. There is no doubt Anna has had a rough year, but to come through all of that and still be ranked in the top 10 is a testament to her mental fortitude. After besting her previous Wimbledon record with her 4th round finish, I think Anna is in store for a return to her top form. While I'm not sure if she can overcome Serena, I am looking forward to a Williams-Chakvetadze final.

Of course there is a whole field of players before the final and many stand a chance of upsetting the #1, #2 final. The most notable unseeded contender is Lindsay Davenport. The new mom and everlasting favorite has every chance of beating any player in the world if her movement is adequate. On the seeded front, fourth seed Daniela Hantuchova has a strong chance to make it to the Semis, barring an upset from Ai Sugiyama or Nadia Petrova. Eleventh ranked and 3rd seed Zvonerava has had a great year but Davenport is in her section and I think the American will come through. Meanwhile, Patty Shcnyder, the 6th seed,, lingers in Serena's half section of the draw and will most likely fall to the American. Spoiler Alert: 15 year old Michelle Larcher de Brito beat the number one seed in qualifying and has the game to impose herself this week. She has already had some big wins this year, including new top 10er Radwanska, and I think she can come through on her favorite surface if the draw is kind.

Bad Gastein, Austria. clay

While America is hosting the "Greatest Road Trip in Sports" some players are opting to continue the clay court season in Austria at the Tier III tournament. The main headliners this week are the top 3 seeds: Anges Szavay, Alize Cornet, and Caroline Wozniacki. Agnes Szavay suffered an early round exit in Budapest (perhaps suffering down with Mauresmo's home court illness) but can right her self this week if she finds her game. That being said, clay takes the punch out of her ball, and with Lucie Safarova and 7th seed Iveta Benesova in her quarter she'll have a rough time. I still think that she'll come through and make her second final of the year. On the bottom half of the draw, last week's Budapest winner, Alize Cornet can make it two in a row. She may be tested by Timea Bacsinzky or third seed Wozniacki but Cornet has a lot of clay court prowess and I think she has a great chance to win again.

Another big story at the 2008 Gastein Ladies Championship is the return of Sandra Klemenschits, who after battling a rare form of cancer, which sadly took the life of her twin sister, Daniela earlier this year. The Austrian doubles player, who used to partner with her sister, has been given a wildcard by the tournament and wish her the best of luck after her terrible ordeal She and her partner, Marlene Weingärtner, are drawn to play No.2 seeds Mariya Koryttseva and Galina Voskoboeva in the first round.

Errani Finds Form in Palermo

Yesterday, Italy's Sara Errani became the second first time singles winner, beating seventh seed Mariya Koryttseva for the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo title on Sunday. Errani who had never previously been in a WTA tour final made quick work of her 62 63. While Koryttseva did show some fine tennis skill at time, she was inconsistent, while Errani, though stating that she herself was not at her best, remained steady to take the title. Errani, who conquered the number one seed, Flavia Pennetta, in a tough semifinal did not slow down and displayed her clay-court abilities. When interviewed after the match, Errani explained the keys to her success: "I think the difference between us was I was stronger in the long points. It was difficult to stay physically strong the whole week because it's very hot here, but I think I did better in the end."

With her breakthrough win, Errani completed a similar double to Alize Cornet in Budapest, teaming up with Nuria Llagostera Vives to beat Alla Kudryavtseva and Pavlyuchenkova in a super set tie break, 26 76(1) 104.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alize Cornet Wins Budapest!

ALIZE CORNET! won her first WTA tour title today at the Gaz de Paris Open in Budapest, Hungary against unseeded finalist Andreja Klepac 76(5) 63. The Tier III event saw Alize reach her third final of the year in her breakout 2008 season, bettering her previous two results at Acapulco and Rome coming away with the title and the $28,000 winner's cheque. In reaching the last day of the tournament, Cornet surrendered just 11 games in her previous three matches. At 18 years of age, Alize also became the youngest champion in the history of the event.

Later in the day, partnering with Janette Husarova, Cornet won her first career doubles title of her career, beating their opponents 67(5) 61 106. With the double win Alize became just the fourth person to win both singles and doubles at the same event. Said Alize about the wonderful results of the day, "I'm so happy to win today. It's my first victory on the Tour, so it's very special. It's my favorite surface and it's a big tournament - a Tier III - so it's really just unbelievable. I've had great results on clay this season. I was just really happy to be able to compete so well in Budapest this week." She next heads to Bad Gastein, a clay tournament in Austria.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Daily Update

ALIZE CORNET! is through to her third final of the year in Budapest. Alize crushed Greta Arn 61 61 saving 7/8 break points to finish the match in just over an hour. Allez Alize! Also Advancing was Andreja Klepac who beat Karolina Sprem in a thrilling 2hr. and 40 minute match 62 46 64.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Daily Results

In the Hungarian Gaz de Paris Open, Number 2 seed Alize Cornet became the only remaining seed as the tournament moved into the semifinals today. Cornet continued her stunning clay- court season with a well earned victory over former Top 20 player, Anna Lena Groenefeld, 62 63. Hungarian turned German turned hungarian again, Greta Arn thrased number 7 seed Klara Zakapalova 61 60. Klepac and Karolina Sprem are also into the Budapest Semis in straight sets.

The Italian event in Palermo saw the top two seeds, Pennetta and Medina Garrigues, advance to the semis along with young Italian Sara Eranni and Mariya Koryttseva.

Tomorrow's Schedule
Saturday, July 12, 2008

1. Klepac vs. Sprem
2. Arn vs. Cornet
3. Klepac/Stewart vs. Cornet/Husarova

1. Pennetta vs. Errani
2. Koryttseva vs. Medina Garrigues
3. Doubles Final: Errani/Llagostera Vives vs. Kudryavtseva/Pavlyuchenkova