mutua madrid

Djokovic and Sharapova Conquer Rome, Paris Missing Williamses, but Del Potro and Clijsters opt in

Djokovic Building Roman Empire:

Novak Djokovic moved to 39-matches unbeaten after battling to a 6-4, 6-4 victory over world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters final. The Serb star at times over-powered Nadal and has now beaten a man twice in a week, who, before last weekend’s final at the Mutua Madrid Masters, had not lost on his favoured clay surface since 2009. Most had written off Djokovic after an enthralling semi-final victory over Andy Murray on Saturday night as the 23-year-old had visibly been struggling with tiredness and injury throughout much of the second and third sets. Yet he dusted himself off and came back determined to win his second title in the Italian capital and stop Nadal taking his sixth. Both players were in good form. The accuracy and power behind each shot was mesmerising and the Italian crowd was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, even though they did not receive the third set they so desperately craved. “I’m amazed with they way I’m playing, especially today given the circumstances and the condition I was in,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I played three hours [on Saturday] against a player [Murray] who was playing great, I was on the verge of losing that match and I came back. Whatever the conditions I needed to step into the court and take chances and be aggressive. That’s really the only way against Nadal on clay.”

Sharapova Back in the Winners’ Circle:

Maria Sharapova lifted her first title in nearly a year by beating Australia’s Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in a Rome final heavily delayed by rain. The damp conditions favoured the Russian who powered in to a 4-0 lead, Stosur taking only three points in the opening four games. The 24-year-old has not lifted a Grand Slam since the 2008 Australian Open and has only shown glimpses of her former dominant self after taking long injury lay offs to recover from shoulder surgery. But recently she has looked in a dominant mood again and after cruising to the first set withheld the more assertive challenge from Stosur in the second. “I’m so happy to be the champion,” said the three-time Slam winner. “It means so much to me to add this title to the ones I already have. Rome is such a special place and I’ve dreamed of holding up this trophy. There are a lot of tournaments coming up, and this is a great start to everything. I can’t wait to be back next year.”

Djokovic set for o2 return:

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals at London’s
o2 Arena in November after picking up his seventh title of the year in Rome on Sunday. The 24-year-old is closing in on the record of 44 set by Guillermo Villas, depending on which sources you believe, in 1977. He is only the second man, after Nadal in 2009, to qualify for the event before the French Open has even been played. He has already lifted the Australian Open, plus the titles at Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid and now Rome in what has been a sensational start to the year. American Hall of Famer John McEnroe believes that Djokovic’s current record surpasses his own unbeaten 42-match streak to kick off the 1984 season due to the increased depth to the modern game. “There is more competition, more athleticism, deeper fields and more depth in the sport,” said the 52-year-old. “So his record is even more impressive than mine. I’m quite excited at the timing of this because he could break my record at the French Open. I’ve followed his progress and to put it mildly it’s been quite amazing to see how much confidence he is playing with. It’s impressive given he came in number three and to dominate [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal the way he has, to see what he has done, it’s a little surprising.”

 

Roland Garros to be Williams-less:

Former world No.1 Serena Williams has pulled out of this month’s French Open after failing to recover from the foot injury that has kept her out of action since winning last year’s Wimbledon Championship. “While I am making good progress, unfortunately I won’t be able to compete in Roland Garros as I am continuing to rehab my foot and recover from the pulmonary embolism,” said Williams. “I am grateful for every moment I have and the fact that I have returned to the court. I am hopeful that I will be back competing this summer. Thank you all for your continued prayers.” Serena’s older sister, Venus, is also doubtful for the Open after pulling out of Brussels. The 30-year-old has not competed since retiring from her third-round match against Andrea Petkovic at the Australian Open in January after tearing her groin muscle. Another former No.1, Dinara Safina, and Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky have already withdrawn from the competition. Ana Ivanovic, yet another former incumbent of the top spot, is also a doubt for the Open after pulling out of Strasbourg this week still troubled by a wrist complaint. “I’ve had this pain for a while now, despite physical therapy,” she said on her official website. “My doctor has told me to rest it completely for a few days, and I’m having treatments twice a day. Considering that it is not my racquet hand, I can still practice, but backhands are out of the question for the next few days. I expect to be fit for Roland Garros.” In the men’s draw, Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez has withdrawn after failing to recover from a knee injury. The 2009 semi-finalist has not missed the event since his 2001 debut but the current world No.370 has suffered badly with injuries over the past 12 months. “Unfortunately today I withdrew myself from Roland Garros, it’s a shame, but I’m doing everything possible to comeback and feel better,” he said via his Twitter account. Andy Roddick is also questionable after pulling out of this week’s tournament at Nice with a right shoulder injury. “It’s running a big risk, playing on an unhealthy shoulder with Roland Garros round the corner and Wimbledon shortly afterwards,” the American said. “I’m pulling out of Nice for now. Obviously the situation is not perfect for Roland Garros, but I still have a couple of days to hope for something to get better.” He also said that he would not play Roland Garros unless he was 100% fit.

Del-Po and Clijsters are Definitely In:

2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro has declared that he is fit and ready to compete in the French Open. The 22-year-old Argentine missed most of 2010 with a wrist injury and his comeback has been blighted by niggles such as a torn hip muscle two weeks ago in Madrid. The former world No.4 has clawed his way back up to No.27 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings since his return thanks largely to his victory at the Estoril Open on May 1, where he beat Fernando Verdasco in the final. “See you in Paris!” he posted on Twitter ahead of the year’s second Grand Slam. Kei Nishikori’s agent says that the Japanese star has also recovered from kidney troubles and will play in Paris. Kim Clijsters also says she will play at the Open after recovering from an ankle injury she suffered last month whilst dancing at a friend’s wedding. “Increasingly I am going for it,” said the reigning US and Australian Open Champion. “I am not totally without pain, but the strong tape round my ankle gives me sufficient security. The advantage is that I still have the spirit of the past Grand Slam tournaments. If I play well, I can win. Attitude is very important, even though the situation is physically very different.” France’s Virginie Razzano has also declared she will play despite her fiancé’s death on Monday. Stephane Vidal, 32, served as her coach until March and was diagnosed with a brain tumour nine years ago. “He was like a big brother,” Razzano said. “We shared very strong moments and, little by little, we fell in love.” It was thought that Vidal had encouraged Razzano to compete before his death.

Rosewall Hospitalised in Rome

Australian tennis Hall of Famer Ken Rosewall was hospitalised in Rome on Saturday morning after a suspected stroke. His wife, Wilma, said that the doctors had told her that he had not suffered any heart or brain damage and would be monitored until deemed fit to fly back to Australia. The eight-time Grand Slam champ was due to receive a golden racquet over the weekend given annually to greats of the game, which his wife accepted on his behalf at a dinner on Saturday night. His condition is said to be good.

Nalbandian Handed Queens Wildcard:

2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian has been handed a wildcard in to the main draw at Queens club to warm up for his return to SW19. The Argentine has suffered badly with injuries over the past 12 months and aims to be fit for the grass-court Slam after failing to regain fitness in time for Roland Garros. He joins the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, British No.1 Andy Murray and Andy Roddick in the draw. “I am looking forward to starting my comeback from injury on grass at the AEGON Championships at The Queen’s Club,” said Nalbandian. Meanwhile, Canadian starlet Milos Raonic has committed to the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships, one of the opening events of the US Open Series from July 18-24. Americans John Isner, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey are already on the bill.

Ginepri Hoping for Summer Return:

Robby Ginepri has said that he is back on the practice courts after breaking his elbow last autumn swerving to avoid a squirrel whilst cycling, and that he hopes to return to competitive action this summer.

Rankings Watch:

This week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings see Tomas Berdych climb back above David Ferrer to No.6 in the world, while Mardy Fish re-enters the Top 10 at the expense of Nicolas Almagro. Croatian Marin Cilic re-enters the Top 20 while Jarkko Nieminen of Finland is back in to the Top 50. Russia’s Igor Andreev and Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos take big leaps to re-enter the Top 100. In the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings, Maria Sharapova climbed above Sam Stosur to No.7 in the world after defeating the Aussie in the Rome final last weekend. New hotshot Petra Kvitova also claimed a new personal best by climbing above Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic to No.9. Greta Arn’s magnificent run to the quarters in Rome sees her post a career-best No.40, while Anastasia Pivovarova made it 16 Russians in the Top 100 by climbing up to a career-best No.95.

Rafa Still Edging Ahead in GOAT Race:

Last week saw Rafael Nadal reach another ATP Masters Final and extend his lead over Roger Federer in the 2011 Greatest Of All Time Race. Rafa’s second successive final defeat to Novak Djokovic gives him another 100 points to his total, while R-Fed’s failure to reach the quarter-finals means he fails to add any points on to his score.

Roger: 665, Rafa: 990

Roger Federer wants Roland Garros, Djokovic tumbles Nadal and Kvitova earns shock win

Federer Will not Concede French Open Title:

Everyone is talking about Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic right now, but anybody would be a fool to forget about the other large threat at Roland Garros this month – 16-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer. “It’s definitely an interesting time right now that Novak hasn’t lost all season long. It makes it a new, different situation, but for me it doesn’t change a whole lot,” said the Swiss ace. “Right now [Djokovic and Nadal] are playing better than me and better than other players. I feel like everybody can play on all the surfaces these days and that makes it extremely hard to win all these big tournaments.” At 29, Federer has a lot on his plate with a family to look after but he is by no means faded as far as top-class tennis is concerned.

The Dominant Force Dislodges the Immovable Object:

Novak Djokovic continued his unbeaten start to 2011, ending Rafa Nadal’s two-year winning streak on clay in the final of the Mutua Madrid Masters. The Serbian won 7-5, 6-4 at the Caja Magica, racing in to a 4-0 lead in the first set. The Spaniard levelled proceedings but ‘Nole’ showed his new resilient side by again fighting back to take the set. The second started with the Spaniard lobbing his opponent expertly through his legs while running to the back of the court but the magic was not to last as Djokovic closed out the match to seriously put his case forward about taking the No.1 ranking off of Nadal. “I came up against a great player obviously – he’s having a monster year,” said Nadal afterwards. “He was better, you have to accept that.” Djokovic showcased his new found self-belief when he said: “I stepped onto the court today believing I could win. I needed to be aggressive and it was a great match.” If Djokovic wins this week’s Rome Masters and Nadal fails to reach the semi-finals then we will have a new No.1 to cast our eyes over next week. It was Djokovic’s first win over Nadal on clay in ten meetings between the pair on the surface.

Kvitova Shocks Azarenka in Madrid:

Petra Kvitova lifted her third title of the year by shocking Victoria Azarenka 7-6(3), 6-4 in the Madrid Open final. It adds to the titles she took in Brisbane and Paris earlier in the year. The 18th-ranked Czech star dominated the first tiebreak after both players had broken the others’ serve in the first set. Four breaks were seen in the second and with the 21-year-old leading 5-3, she needed two match points to see off the Belarusian’s challenge. “We know each other so it was going to be tough to find the key, but I think it was who will play faster, who will be the more aggressive – and I was the first!” she said afterwards. “It’s nice to win the tournament and to be in the top 10 at the same time, but it’s just a number. I want to improve my game and we’ll see – I don’t want to be only number 10!” Azarenka was quick to praise her opponent’s play: “Petra had such a great week and totally deserved to win today,” she said. “She showed some impressive tennis.”

Injuries Still Rife Among Stars:

Venus Williams has put her French Open participation in doubt after pulling out of next week’s Brussels Open. The 30-year-old has still not been seen since retiring from her third-round match against Andrea Petkovic at January’s Australian Open and her eyes may now be on Wimbledon having signed up for the pre-Slam event at Eastbourne. Meanwhile, David Nalbandian is one definite casualty on the men’s draw saying he is “not right physically” to play. The 2004 and 06 semi-finalist has lost 6kg since getting injured in March and fighting a fever over recent weeks. He hopes to return at Queen’s to prepare for Wimbledon. 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro may also miss out on Roland Garros after revealing he has torn a hip muscle. “The results of my tests showed a tear in the hip,” the Argentine wrote on his Twitter page. “I have already started rehabilitation and I will do all I can to be in Paris.” Ernests Gulbis is still suffering from a respiratory problem that has kept him out of Madrid and Rome. He hopes to have the problem resolved by the Roland Garros kick-off. “Every time a small wind blows it affect me,” Gulbis told The Times of London. “My immune system was not good and this time I had to drink antibiotics for three days and didn’t practice at all. I hope to get a wild card into Nice.” India’s Sania Mirza was continuing her comeback in the Prague Challenger, hoping to maybe make a late push for Paris, but she was forced to withdraw from her first-round match with Aleksandra Krunic after suffering back spasms. “Tried to play today, back was no good, it’s gotta be one of the worse feelings ever to pull out mid-match,” she said on Twitter.

Roddick not Enjoying European Clay Holiday:

Andy Roddick’s miserable start to the 2011 clay season continued with a first-round defeat to Gilles Simon at the Rome Masters. The world No.19 notched a 6-3, 6-3 victory to frustrate the 28-year-old, who a week earlier had suffered a first-round Madrid exit to clay-court debutant Flavio Cipolla. “He moves very well, which you don’t want to see when you are short of matches like I was today, when you are not getting clean hits,” said Roddick. “We soon got into rallies and it became a battle striking the ball in movement, I was coming second sometimes.”

Carlsen calls for Wozniacki to Attack:

After three straight losses to Germans Julia Goerges (twice) and Andrea Petkovic in recent weeks, former Danish star Kenneth Carlsen believes the world No.1 may be playing too defensively against foes who up their game against the top-ranked star. “Caroline has trouble with the likes of Goerges and [Petkovic] when they [are playing their best] and not making so many mistakes,” he said. “When they do, it might look as if Caroline is bombed out. It’s the girls who take the initiative immediately, and you’ll get no peace from Caroline. Most people know that it is the way to beat Caroline, but it is also difficult because she, like Nadal, gets to so many balls and sends them back. We are still talking about small margins, but Caroline might be too defensive and rely too much on her own game, and with good reason, because she beats nine out of 10 opponents that way.”

Li Hoping for Danish Magic:

China’s Na Li has hired Danish Fed Cup captain Michael Mortensen as her new coach after citing that she could not regain her confidence whilst working under husband Jiang Shan, who had coached her to the Aussie Open final. “After the Australian Open I didn’t do well until Madrid,” said Li. “We’re working well together—we have good communication and [Mortensen] is helping me a lot. He’s giving me a lot of confidence and I feel positive on court.”

Kuznetsova Coach Split:

Two-time grand Slam winning-Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova has announced via her official website that her and coach, Spain’s Carlos Cuadrado, have parted ways. She will still work with her other coach, Larissa Savchenko, and her hitting partner Alexander Krasnorutskiy.

Peering in to DC’s Debut:

Washington DC will have its own WTA World Tour event again this summer with the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Tennis Championships taking place from July 25-31. Israel’s most successful player, of both men and women, ever, Shahar Peer, will headline the field in the 32-strong draw which also features Lucie Safarova, Jelena Dokic and rising American stars Melanie Oudin and Sloane Stephens. Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA, said: “We are thrilled to bring women’s tennis back to the incredible sports fans of the Washington DC area. The Mid-Atlantic Women’s Tennis Championships promises to be a fantastic event featuring some of the best female athletes on the planet. I look forward to this being the first edition of a great tradition of WTA tennis in Washington DC.”

Rankings Watch:

France’s Gael Monfils climbs above Nicolas Almagro to No.9 in the world in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings after last week’s play in Madrid. The Ukraine’s Alexander Dolgopolov returns to the Top 20. Thomaz Bellucci’s first ATP Masters semi-final sees him climb 14 to No.22 in the world, a career best. Andreas Seppi enters the Top 50 while Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, Illya Marchenko and Rainer Schuettler are in to the Top 100. Victoria Azarenka became the top-ranked Belarusian ever in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings on the back of her Madrid finals defeat as she became the new world No.4, a career-best. Maria Sharapova is up to No.8, her best ranking since November 2008, while Petra Kvitova is a career-best No.10 after her win over Azarenka. Julia Goerges makes her Top 20 debut while Czech star Lucie Hradecka enters the Top 50 at No.45. Incidentally, this week is the first in rankings history that there has been no Americans in both the Top 10 of the women’s and the men’s game. Yet American star Andy Roddick refused to accept that tennis in his country was on the way down. “There is no bigger crisis in American tennis than there is in Italian. We’re kind of a victim of our own success over the years in the sport,” he said.

Nadal moves Further Ahead in GOAT Race:

Rafael Nadal’s semi-final victory over Roger Federer at last week’s Mutua Madrid masters means he has moved further ahead of the early-season leader in the 2011 GOAT race. Federer’s semi-final berth earns him 50 points, while Nadal’s final defeat to Novak Djokovic earns him 100. They both also gain an extra 10 points for entering the Rome Masters this week.

Roger: 665, Rafa: 890

Petra Kvitova wins Mutua Madrid Open 2011

Petra Kvitova has won the Mutua Madrid Open 2011. Even though touted by many as the underdog to win Sunday’s finale, she won versus an in form Victoria Azarenka in straight sets 7-6, 6-4. With her win at the Mutua Madrid Open, Kvitova forces her way into the top 10 of the WTA Tour ranking for the first time.  Her tournament win is the third title she has won in 2011. She first won the Brisbane International  and then Open GDF in Paris.

“I was very nervous and perhaps that was the problem,” said Kvitova, who will be the sixth Czech player to reach the top-10 when she jumps to No. 10 in the WTA rankings coming out Monday. “I think it’s the best tennis that I’ve played. I was very offensive.”

Azarenka, who will reach an all time high ranking of 4 on Monday on the WTA Rankings, praised her opponent:

“She played great this week, (she) deserved it,” said Azarenka

Enjoy the photos. Credit ofcourse to Ralf Reinecke!

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Mutua Madrid Open: Caroline Wozniacki wins opener, Sharapova struggles but wins and Pennetta upset

I have been trying for hours to write something interesting to write about the Mutua Madrid Open tournament but I just can’t seem to find the right words.  I suppose I could write about the Estoril Open but that’s my colleague  Luís Santos’ department. He does a great job by the way of covering the event. Who would have expected Anabel Medina Garrigues to win and be on par with the great Venus Williams when it comes to holding the most titles on clay. I sure as hell did not.

With the Mutua Madrid Open starting, tennis is back on the international stage with a Premier event. All the top players you missed are going to attend and so is my photographer Ralf Reinecke, who will shoot the photos of all the stars and more. Last year Ralf managed to get me photos of players of  Real Madrid. We had pics of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos and many others. Not sure if that is going to happen this year though. With the second leg match versus FC Barcelona for a spot in the prestigious Champions League finale at stake, match preparations are in full gear. The match will take place in Barcelona so I am not sure if the players of Real Madrid be able to watch a match or two from the stands. Has anyone seen the first match and its’ aftermath? Real Madrid fight harder off the pitch than they do on the pitch with complaints of schwalbes and videos to support their claims and whatever else. They should have included the two goals scored by prodigy Lionel Messi. Because that’s the harsh reality. They are going to play versus FC Barcelona for a spot in the prestigious Champions League 2011 finale trailing 2-0.  They should recruit Tom Cruise and his Mission: Impossible crew for that because there is no way they will be able to turn that into a win.  Ofcourse for football betters, I would call this a serious challenge. More so than  tennis betting on who will defeat Rafael Nadal on clay this year.

But I digress. TennisGrandstand is still a site about tennis and not about football.

I am sure all of you have viewed and reviewed and analyzed the Mutua Madrilena Open draw and it holds no surprises but some exciting match ups in the first round.  Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova are already through to the next round.

Caroline Wozniacki defeated Japanese Ayumi Morita in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. Maria Sharapova had to put in more effort to reach the next round beating Dutch talent Arantxa Rus 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In other results Daniela Hantuchova beat tour veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 6-3 while last year’s French Open winner Francesca Schiavone was made to work versus Shuai Peng 7-5, 7-6 to reach the next.  The biggest upset so far is the match between Arantxa (what’s in a name) Parra Santonja ousted former top 10 player Flavia Pennetta in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.

Keep an eye  out for photos from Madrid this whole week. Pictures are taken by rollin’ Ralf Reinecke!

Oh and for you Real Madrid fans there is a surprise for you at the end of this post.

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