Stephane Carter

Stephane Carter brings you Lawntennisnews, where tennis wonks give their view on the world of tennis from a unique and entertaining perspective. Contact me for inquiries.

Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova: The Big Winners of 2011

Who could ever doubt that Novak Djokovic wasn’t going to be named ITF World Champion. With an almost perfect 2011 winning three Grand Slam titles and seven other titles Djokovic is the rightful winner by all standards. Next to the seven titles, Djokovic also bags $12.6 million in prize money. He won even more than Rafael Nadal did in 2010 and Roger Federer in 2007.  Djokovic amazing season  is one for the best sports books!

“Starting with victory in last year’s Davis Cup final, this has been an almost perfect 12 months for me,” Djokovic said. “I have always dreamed about becoming the best in the world, and to have won three Grand Slam titles and finished the year as No. 1 is very special.”

I have to say that I am equally impressed with best newcomer Petra Kvitova. She came, she saw and took Wimbledon right from under Maria Sharapova’s grasp. Well that is not true…Sharapova really never stood a chance in that Wimbledon final.

Kvitova has won Wimbledon, the prestigious year end championships in Istanbul and the Fed Cup for the Czech Republic. What better way to end the 2011 season with this prestigious award for a prestigious season.

“I will cherish this award, which is the cherry on top of a wonderful year,” said the 21-year-old Kvitova, who edged out top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki – last year’s champion – in the voting.

The ITF President, Francesco Ricci Bitti, praised the two for their achievements.

“Novak’s achievements this year are remarkable in such a strong era for men’s tennis, while Petra has made a major breakthrough on the women’s tour.”

Other awards were given out to Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia for their efforts in women’s doubles.

All of them will receive the award at the ITF Champions Award dinner in June 2012.

The WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul are about to begin

My motto has always been: Why be the best of the best when you can be the best of the rest?  But apparently the WTA Tour and ATP Tour have other ideas about that. That is why we are having the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul. The best eight players of the 2011 season will come together one more time to compete and show the world who really is the best of the 2011 season.

But even with a winner this year, how certain can we say that it is indeed the best player of the 2011 season?  It has been a long season and I guess we can say that  it is not so much about skill anymore at this stage but more about determination and will.

To analyze the tournament we will just go by seeds.  From top to bottom.

Caroline Wozniacki (no. 1 seed)

Caroline Wozniacki was off to a great start of the 2011 season. She reached the semis at the Australian Open and won in Dubai and Indian Wells. She was ousted in the second round at the Medibank International but as the season progressed started the feel the pressure of being a slamless number one. And ofcourse she has been distracted by boyfriend Rory McIlroy as well. Losing in first rounds and midnight sessions with the boyfriend on her phone cost her dearly and she has not played up to her potential at all in the second part of the season and my guess is that she will have trouble getting past the round robin stage. Better luck next year.

Maria Sharapova (no. 2 seed)

Maria Sharapova is a special case. She has won three out of four slams in her career but the last couple of years and was a title favorite at the French Open 2011 after winning in Rome. She would have completed her career Grand Slam if she indeed had won the French Open. It was not meant to be as she was ousted by later French Open winner Na Li.  Before Rome she was written off by many people who said that she will never win another slam or be that player who indeed won slams and while it has been a while ago that Sharapova won  one, I wouldn’t write her off and in fact her bid for a next Grand Slam title could start right here in Istanbul.

Petra Kvitova (no. 3 seed)

While many people were surprised by her taking Wimbledon, I have to admit that I am not surprised at all. With a strong display in Madrid at the Mutua Open I was convinced that it was only a matter of time to see her win a Grand Slam tournament and it happened in London. Her statistics haven’t been great ever since that Wimbledon win but I saw her play a few weeks ago in Linz and I saw a strong and confident Petra Kvitova: A force to be reckoned with!

Victoria Azarenka  (no. 4 seed)

Victoria Azarenka. I have long waited  for her to win her first major but it is yet to happen. She is definitely a contender in any Slam she plays in but just misses that final piece. Nevertheless with great wins at the Sony Ericsson Open and great runs at the French Open and Wimbledon this lady just won’t give up until she has won that Grand Slam. And it can’t be soon enough for me.  She has had a good run in Luxembourg by defeating Monica Niculescu in the finals. It looks to be a good rehearsal for the Istanbul tournament.  It is too bad that Azarenka is prone to injury or she would have perhaps won tournaments this season.

Li Na (no. 5 seed)

Li Na was my personal heroine this year after she won the French Open. The first female Asian player but she kind of fell off the radar after that. With early round losses and simply returning to her sloppy form between the Australian Open and the French Open I don’t have high expectations for this great player. In fact I am hoping for a first round loss to put her out of her misery.

Vera Zvonareva (no. 6 seed)

Vera Zvonareva had two great seasons in a row in 2009 and 2010. She is not having her best season this year but I reckon it is tough to stay on top of your game for three years in a row. The season slump has already set in and her two consecutive losses to Agnieszka Radwanska aren’t doing her any good either. Zvonareva is not a contender this year but she may be able to surprise us with a win here  and there. Who knows?

Sam Stosur (no.7 seed)

Samantha Stosur did what many fans hoped she would do one day: Win a Grand Slam tournament. She came close at the French Open  a few years ago but the US Open fell prey to her this year and it was a great and well deserved victory versus hot title favorite Serena Williams.  I am undecided if she can win the Istanbul tournament. Her stats after the Open win aren’t that good but I do hope that she gets her act together and shows us one more time this season  why we cheered for her for years.

Agnieszka Radwanska (no. 8 seed)

Agnieska Radwanska is the lucky loser. She got into the tournament after Marion Bartoli decided to withdraw. Does lucky loser mean anything? It means that you are the underdog in every match and with that Radwanska can thrive under it. Just like she is the kind of top 10 player who  always seems to fly under the radar until you see her win tournaments. She might just be the tournament revelation.

The groups are set

The players are divided in two groups, the red group and the white group.

The Red Group

The red group harbors the following players:

Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska

The White Group

While the white group contains the following:

Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Samantha Stosur


Viktoriya Kutuzova – A beauty with tennis brains

I have something special for this post. It’s a photosession that I have long had in my possession but I have never uploaded or written anything about it. Yes, shame on me.  The special photoseries was shot by Ralf Reinecke. The brilliant photographer asked Viktoriya Kutuzova to be her model and a model she is.

Here is some Wikipedia info on the Ukrainian bombshell.

Viktoriya Kutuzova (Ukrainian: Вікторія Кутузова, born August 19, 1988 in Odessa, Ukraine) is a female tennis player from Ukraine.

On November 28, 2005, Kutuzova reached her highest singles ranking, World No. 76.

Kutuzova remains most notable for her results as a 14 year old. In her debut WTA maindraw event, the Tier II event in Los Angeles 2003, Kutuzova beat top 50 player, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, in the 1st round, and top 30 player, Alexandra Stevenson in her next match, before losing in the 3rd round to the then world number 12, Ai Sugiyama.

Other career highlights in WTA main draw events include, a 4th round appearance at the Tier I event in Indian Wells 2005, eventually losing to then number 1, Lindsay Davenport. Kutuzova has also made the 2nd round at three of the four grand slam events on the WTA tour.

As a junior Kutuzova reached the final of the Australian Open in 2003 losing to Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová.

Kutuzova has experienced considerable success at an ITF level. Kutuzova has won four French ITF events. In 2008, Kutuzova won her biggest ITF title to date in Cagnes-Sur-Mer. Her other titles have come in Poitiers(2005) and Deauville(2005/6). In 2009, she reached the final of the $100.000 ITF event in Torhout, losing to Croatia’s Karolina Šprem in straight-sets.

Viktoriya has suffered some shoulder problems throughout her young career which have stalled her progression on the main WTA tour.

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Ever wanted to meet Roger Federer? Here is your chance!

Have you ever wanted to meet tennis legend Roger Federer? Here is your chance.  All you have to do is go to the Credit Suisse Facebook page and vote for the best ending of the Roger Federer, Relaxed video. There are four different endings, so watch all of them and vote!

Alternative versions

The commercial – in which the tennis player relaxes at the pool – was shot last February for the bank’s global image campaign in Dubai, Roger Federer’s second home. Four different endings were shot, but so far only one has been used. Credit Suisse now wants to know which of the four fans like the most. During the ATP World Tour Finals in London (November 20 to 27) the commercial will be shown with the ending that receives the most votes.

Attractive Main Prize

The competition prize will make the heart of every Roger Federer fan beat faster: The winner will fly by business class to London on November 19 and spend three nights there in a top-class hotel at Canary Wharf. The highlight of the stay will be a meeting with Roger Federer. Depending on his match schedule, the meeting will take place on Sunday, November 20 or Monday, November 21. The return flight will then be on November 22, once again in business class. So that the winner does not have to travel alone they can take along a person of their choice for whom the same conditions apply.

Runner-Up Prizes

In addition to the meet and greet with Roger Federer, the following runner-up prizes are also available:

• 2nd to 6th prize: A signed Roger Federer cap.

• 7th to 26th prize: A Nike Roger Federer cap (without autograph)

Clear Rules

The competition starts on Thursday, October 13 and lasts until midnight (GMT) on Sunday, November 6. It will take place globally. The winner will be picked on Monday, November 7 and notified by email.

Victorious Victoria Azarenka wins Luxembourg Open

Number one seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won the Luxembourg Open on Sunday, beating  Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-2, 6-2.

The No. 3-ranked Azarenka didn’t lose a set all week and had no problems against a player who was in her first WTA Tour final.

It was the 22-year-old Azarenka’s eighth career title. The 34th-ranked Niculescu has spent most of her career on the ITF circuit but is enjoying her best month ever.

The win will boost Azarenka’s confidence as she heads to Istanbul to play the WTA Tour Championships starting October 25, 2011.

Doubles results

HRADECKA Lucie (CZE) / MAKAROVA Ekaterina (RUS)                   5 3

A special thanks to our photographer Rick Gleijm who has covered the Luxembourg Open with his eyes and camera.

Photos  © Rick Gleijm

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Iveta Benesova ousted by Victoria Azarenka, Julia Goerges reaches semis in Luxembourg

Czech Iveta Benesova tried but failed to reach the semis at the Luxembourg Open.  Belrussian Victoria Azarenka defeated her in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.  Azarenka will now face Germany’s Julia Goerges whose opponent, Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, withdrew with a hip injury while being 5-2 behind in the first set.

In other quarterfinals, Monica Niculescu of Romania defeated lucky loser Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4, and Anne Keothavong of Britain beat Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-2.

Photos by © Rick Gleijm

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Victoria Azarenka breezes to the quarters, Ana Ivanovic out

With real ease Belrussian top seed Victoria Azarenka breezed to the quarters of the Luxembourg open.  With a 6-0 6-1 win Azarenka made light work of Italy’s Alberta Brianti.

Serbian Ana Ivanovic was frustrated by British player Anne Keothavong 6-3 6-2.

Tournament revelation Bibiane Schoofs struggled to overcome Canadian talent Rebecca Marino 1-6 6-1 7-5.

And lucky loser Lucie Hradeca of Czech beat Romanian Alexandra Cadantu 6-3 6-4 while Simona Halep was ousted by Anastasija Sevastova.

Pictures © by Rick Gleijm

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Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic advance in Luxembourg

Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic both reached the second round at the Luxembourg Open.  Belrussian top seed  Azarenka disposed of her Czech opponent Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets 6-2 6-4 to reach the second round.  Serbian Ana Ivanovic followed Azarenka’s example and defeated her French opponent Virginie Razzano in straight sets as well 7-6 6-4.

Number five seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy was the biggest seed to fall after losing to Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-2.

German Julia Goerges was the first to earn a spot in the quarter finals when she defeated Austrian Tamira Paszek in two 6-4 6-2.  Czech Iveta Benesova was given a walk-over after Russian Maria Kirilenko was forced to withdraw from the Luxembourg tournament with an injury.

Photos ©  by Rick Gleijm.

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Daniela Hantuchova loses in first round shocker

The biggest upset of the Luxembourg tournament so far  is the first round loss of Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in a hard fought battle versus Czech lucky loser  Lucie Hradecka 7-6 5-7 1-6.  Mandy Minella, a wildcarded player, lost in the first round to qualifier Anne Keothavong 6-3 1-6 6-3.  Check for the extra pics of Mandy Minella in our gallery.

Number two seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova struggled versus Canadian talent Rebecca Marino and lost to her in three sets 1-6 6-3 6-3. While number six seed Julia Goerges had little trouble disposing herself of Elena Baltacha 7-5 6-1.

Other results:

BRIANTI Alberta (ITA) 6 1 6

Remaining first round matches:


HALEP Simona (ROU)

RAZZANO Virginie (FRA)

KERBER Angelique (GER)

Photos  © by Rick Gleijm

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Maria Kirilenko to the next round after Navarro retires

So the main tournament has started after the qualifications this weekend.  Maria Kirilenko reaches the second round in Luxembourg after her opponent Carla Suarez Navarro retired in the in the third set trailing 3-0.   Kirilenko will now meet Iveta  Benesova of Czech who beat Pauline Parmentier of France in three sets 6-3 3-6 2-6.

In other tournament news,  Tamira Paszek defeated Ekatarina Makarova  6-2 6-2 while Anabel Medina Garrigues double bageled wildcard entry Anne Kremer of Luxembourg to reach the second round.

Meanwhile Sabine Lisicki has withdrawn from the Luxembourg tournament because of illness leaving Julia Goerges the only German left in the draw after Andrea Petkovic withdrew due to injury.

Extra pics of the All Access Hour with Victoria Azarenka, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Flavia Pennettai.

PARMENTIER Pauline (FRA) 6 3 2
BENESOVA Iveta (CZE)           3 6 6

SUAREZ NAVARRO Carla(ESP) 6(5) 6 0 ret
KIRILENKO Maria (RUS)              7 3 3

MAKAROVA Ekaterina (RUS) 2 2
PASZEK Tamira (AUT)             6 6

KREMER Anne (LUX)                           0 0

Photos credit © Rick Gleijm

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