sony ericsson

Venus and Serena Williams make comeback in Eastbourne, Ana Ivanovic back on track, Sabine Lisicki is a hot shot

And while the Xperia Hotshots girls keep promoting the Sony Ericsson Xperia phone, the XperiaHotShots keeps adding them great videos of the Xperia girls on their YouTube channel. Ofcourse yours truly can’t stay behind and uploads them. Well it’s that and not uploading the videos for your viewing pleasure would be a serious crime.

Sabine Lisicki goes out to get herself interviewed

Here is Sabine Lisicki getting interviewed by a bunch of random people and I have to say that Sabine is a real looker in my opinion.  The video was taken at Roland Garros and it is most probably shot before Lisicki collapsed on court because of an allergic reaction to gluten. The poor girl had to be taken off the court by a stretcher.  I hope she feels better now. The video certainly shows a very sweet Sabine!

it’s the Roland Garros French Open ’11 and Xperia Hot Shot Sabine Lisicki takes a break from practice to give some lucky fans the chance to ask her some questions.

Ever wondered what Sabine has for tea before a match or who her tennis idols are? This is the video to watch!

Xperia Hot Shots follows six young female tennis players on the WTA 2011 tour as they embark on the road to superstardom.

Venus and Serena Williams make come back to WTA Tour

Might the WTA Tour ever go bankrupt they can always rebrand themselves as The Comeback Tour. Why? Well look at the comebacks of the past few years. I am always happy to see amazing players return. Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, they all came back from retirement. Serena and Venus Williams came back from longtime injuries. Venus was injured on her hip while sister Serena had footsurgery and bloodcloths in her lungs removed. Venus and Serena are two of the most succesful players in women’s tennis ever and their return will definitely spice things up on the WTA Tour. The biggest question that comes to mind is: Can the sisters reach the level of play that won them so many prizes? I guess we willl have to wait and see but until then Caroline Wozniacki be warned…the Williams sisters are coming back to claim that number one spot!

They are two of the defining players of their generation, and they are both returning to action at this week’s AEGON International in Eastbourne. Yes, Venus and Serena Williams are back! We followed them on to the practice courts as they began preparations for their first round matches on the Eastbourne grass.

And is it finally going to happen? Will Ana Ivanovic finally come back to the top?

Even though Ana Ivanovic lost versus Daniela Hantuchova at the AEGON Classic in three sets 6-7 6-3 6-2, it was great to see her reach the semis of a tennis tournament again. And she played great this entire week as well. I guess the wrist and abdomen injury are old news. That’s pretty good because Wimbledon is around the corner and Ana once made the semis.

Ana feels great to be back in Birmingham.

“It’s work in progress,” said Ivanovic, who withdrew from the doubles competition to minimize the chances of a recurrence of her recent wrist problems. “I had a few disappointing losses on clay, but I am just enjoying competing again on grass.

“It brings a lot of nice memories for me,” the former Wimbledon semifinalist added. “Since the first match I have felt good about myself, and my game. I am just trying to enjoy it.”

Ana is also looking for a new coach that can bring some stability. I hope she will find one and stay consistently in the top 10 because that would be her rightful place. But it is a place that is earned by performing good on a consistent basis.

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Tsonga unleashes inner diva, Vika Victorious, Serena Williams joins X-men and Andrea Petkovic plays soccer

Caroline Wozniacki makes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga unleash is inner diva

I was browsing Twitter last night and I found a very funny photo that was posted by Caroline Wozniacki on Twitter.  She wrote “Guess who?”  I actually stared at the photo for five minutes trying to figure out who it was. Ofcourse I kept getting distracted by the better half of the photo. (Yes, I swear!!) But after five minutes I figured out that it had to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga unleashing his inner diva.

 

In more Caroline Wozniacki news , she was recently quizzed by the WTA tour about the Wozzy hype currently going on on the internet. It makes for a cute video. And no there is no point arguing us fans Caro! We know more about you than you do and if we say Brad Pitt is your favorite actor then you can’t change it to Johnny Depp. And no you don’t like chicken but steaks!  Just watch the video and you will see what I mean.

The stats and facts about world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki keep changing as she keeps notching up the victories (she won the Family Circle Cup in Charleston at the weekend, her third title of the year). We caught up with the Dane to find out how aware she is of all that’s written about her on the internet!

Vika Victorious

The recent form of Victoria Azarenka hasn’t gone unnoticed. The beautiful Belrussian won the Sony Ericsson Open 2011 and also took home the crown at the Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella. The WTA Tour put her in the spotlight with a video on their YouTube Channel. Vika is currently training for the Fed Cup and they will take on Estonia.

Maria Sharapova needs to fix that serve

There has been a lot of news about Maria Sharapova lately. She is back in form but face it guys: As long as she doesn’t fix her serve she is not going anywhere fast. Her faulty serve may win her matches in the early rounds but the more she progresses in a tournament, the harder it becomes for her to win. But I have a theory: She fixes her serve and she is back in the top five of the WTA tour. Perhaps even on top, though with an on form Clijsters, a roaring Wozniacki and a possibly soon returning Serena Williams, it may prove to be tough for her to take back that number one spot. In the meantime find some photos of Maria Sharapova at the Sony Ericsson Open throughout the years at the bottom of this article. Photocredit © Chris Rogers and his Miami Tennis Photos.

Serena Williams is the Pink Panther

So guess who just got back on the practice courts. Yes, I couldn’t believe it myself either and to be frank looking at that photo, it kind of hurt my eyes. And when my eyes were adjusted I started to wonder if she was auditioning to become one of the X-men with ball bashing as a mutant power. But it really is Serena Williams back on the courts practicing after the blood cloth removal and foot injury that has kept her sidelined for a year. With her back on the training courts it won’t be long ’til we see her back in tournaments and I’ll say this: The battle for that top spot on the WTA Tour just got a lot more interesting!

Andrea Petkovic plays football

And she really did. She is currently the best German player on the WTA Tour and the Germans, and many others, believe her to be the new Steffi Graf. I would say: Wait a while and we will see an Andrea Petkovic. Who needs comparisons when you can already predict that the person is going to be great on her own and she definitely needs not to stand in Steffi Graf’s shadow.  Anyway, this is Andrea Petkovic playing football at a German TV station called ZDF.

The new TennisGrandstand design

So after weeks of contemplation and slavedriving pale white nerds in dark lofts to get this design up and running, I am glad to announce that we have a new design and that we are looking forward to your feedback. You can now sign in using your Facebook account by pressing the “Connect with Facebook” on the right hand sidebar. You can also click like if you like an article on the site and we are adding Twitter to that in the near future.  We tried to make the site look more current with the latest news on top.  While we add more functionality and interaction to the site, please join our Facebook page that you can find at “TennisGrandstand – Unique Tennis Perspectives” and interact with TennisGrandstand fans ,receive posting updates and more.

While we are at it , please join our Twitter feed. Why? Because all the cool kids are doing it and there is no reason why you shouldn’t.

Weekly links continued…

My chief editor Manfred Wenas used to do a column called “Weekly Links” and I thought it would be interesting to integrate that into my blog posts and what I will try to do is link to interesting tennis posts that caught my eye earlier this week.

A passionate write up by Craig Hickman who popped his Sony Ericsson Open cherry by attending as an official member of the press (Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog)

Followed by another very good article about the addition of bloggers to the media rooms these days. (Forty Deuce)

With an even funnier part II (Forty Deuce part deux)

For you German speakers, here is an interview of Andrea Petkovic for the Fed Cup. Basically she sums up the past couple of months , how she dreams of achieving the number one position on the WTA Tour but that in itself is not a goal, just a dream. What she expects in the coming months and that she thinks that social media is the coolest thing ever. (Spobox TV)

You got anything interesting to share then please let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at [email protected] Just copy paste it into your email program, I don’t want to hyperlink my email address to prevent SPAM.

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Maria Sharapova on a comeback trail at the Sony Ericsson Open

Much to my surprise I see a Maria Sharapova in the semis of the Sony Ericsson Open 2011. She even beat her flamboyant and colorful opponent Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-3, 0-6, 2-6. Petkovic proved that she has top 10 potential beating the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic. She ran out of steam against Sharapova however. But all in all not a bad tournament for Petkorazzi at all.

But I disgress, this post is supposed to be about Maria Sharapova and that is exactly who I am going to write about. As you may well know Maria Sharapova had a lot of injury woes since 2008, her shoulder injury being the worst of it. It took Sharapova a lot to get back on track.   Her first round losses, her not making it to finals anymore. All that stuff people just threw it at her. Was this fair? My honest answer? Who cares. It gave people stuff to talk about and it gave me writing material.  And that is exactly what Sharapova is all about: We talk about her tennis, we talk about her outfits, we talk about that huge ring and we talk, talk and then some…It is great for tennis to have such a player. Someone we will always talk about. It breathes life in the WTA Tour in my opinion  and I think with Sharapova back into the top 10 this Monday, regardless of her win or loss versus either Victoria Azarenka or Vera Zvonareva in the finals, we will soon have even more to talk about.

For now you can enjoy the photos of Sharapova at the Sony Ericsson Open of 2009. Thanks to Chris Rogers and his Miami Tennis Photos.

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WTA Tour girls go Xperia and we gladly follow

So the Xperia was launched. “What? Xperia?” I hear you say? Yes, the Xperia. I have to admit that I have never heard of the Xperia but then again I use a very old phone bought in an era where texting was just in, y’know back in the late 90s. No? I must be getting old.  However these girls may just convince me to get a new phone and perhaps even a Xperia and that’s not just because of Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, Alize Cornet, Heather Watson, Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Dominika Cibulkova.  It is basically because the Xperia is quite a good phone to be honest.

So at the Sony Ericsson Open they had a little show with the Xperia Hotshots and Maria Sharapova!

We weren’t there but we got YouTube for the rescue!

From the Xperia Hot Shots channel:

Interviews with Maria Sharapova and the Xperia Hot Shots in Miami at the launch event, March 20th, 2011.
Sony Ericsson are a long time supporter of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Xperia Hot Shots follows six young female players on the 2011 WTA tour as they embark on the road to superstardom.

Wozniacki to be No. 1? Keothavong Faces Racism and Paes on a Mission

*Danish star Caroline Wozniacki is only one win away from taking the No. 1 slot in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings following her opening win over Sara Errani at the China Open. Victory over Petra Kvitova in the quaterfinals will see her climb above Serena Williams. If she does she will be the 20th player ever to do so since the rankings began.

*British No. 3 Anne Keothavong has had her preparations for the AEGON GB Pro-Series Open tournament in Barnstaple, England, hampered after suffering racial abuse outside her hotel on the weekend. Police have said: “Three men aged 20, 23, 25 have been arrested for this offence and for a separate shoplifting incident. They remain in police custody waiting to be interviewed. Police investigations continue.” Keothavong wrote on her Twitter account: “I was on my own and completely outnumbered. Gave a statement to the police, hoping CCTV will get them.” She won the tournament in 2008.

*Leander Paes has accepted an offer from the Cambodian Tennis Association to become the spokesperson for their “Killing Fields to Tennis Courts” campaign which aims to clear many of the minefields planted by the former Khmer Rouge regime and make large areas safer for children. These areas will be used for modified tennis courts enabling those disabled by the mines to play. “What attracted me to this foundation is that I can help bring landmine awareness to the tennis industry,” said Paes. “Though the genocide in Cambodia has been over for many years, the results of millions of landmines planted by the Khmer Rouge continue to be an everyday danger for the Cambodian people. And for those victims of landmines, it is now my mission to share this great sport of tennis with them. Through tennis, I can hopefully inspire children and coaches to dare to dream and that hard work and persistence you can overcome many of life’s obstacles.” For the full interview check out the ATP website.

*Former Thai tennis star Paradorn Srichapan was honoured in a special retirement ceremony at the end of his hometown tournament, the PTT Thailand Open, in Bangkok on Sunday. He reached the semifinals there three times and got to No. 9 in the world before playing his final match last year in his hometown. “I’d like to thank all the ATP staff,” said Srichaphan at the ceremony. “From the very first time I entered the ATP, it was like a second home to me. It meant that every year when I was travelling on the Tour for eight or nine months I was able to not miss home too much. Thank you for everything.” Since hanging up his racquet Paradorn has been starring in Thai movies.

*Svetlana Kuznetsova has called time on her 2010 season by pulling out of next week’s tournament in Moscow. Writing on her Twitter account she said: “my health issues won’t al[low] me to play in my home country tournament in Moscow! I have to end this difficult season now and recover.” She has also attributed her early exit from this week’s Beijing meeting to illness which prevented her from preparing. “I got sick,” she told the WTA website. “From Sunday to Saturday, one week, I wasn’t home, I didn’t go out, I didn’t do any fitness, I was in bed. I didn’t have time, but that’s how it is.”

*Russian Nikolay Davydenko overcame Marin Cilic 7-5, 7-5 at the China Open to record the 400th ATP win of his career. He is the eighth active player on the tour to do so. “It was a very good match for me,” said Davydenko. “[My] baseline [play] was good control and I played fast.”

*Venus Williams today (October 6) released a statement saying that she would not be competing for the remainder of 2010 due to a recurrence of her troublesome knee problems that have dogged a large chunk of her season. She will miss the WTA Finals in Doha as well as the USA’s Fed Cup Final matchup with Italy. The statement, released to the Associated Press, said: “ [I am] very disappointed to announce that I will be unable to play in the WTA Tour Championships at the end of October, and the Fed Cup final between the United States and Italy at San Diego in November. I have been getting treatment and therapy on my knee and have been making progress, but unfortunately must continue to keep weight off my knee for the short term and won’t be ready to return to competition in 2010. I am looking forward to returning to full health in time for the start of 2011 season and hopefully having the opportunity to play in both the Fed Cup and WTA Championships next year.”

*Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska has also ended her season due to a stress fracture in her foot and says she is also a doubt for next year’s Australian Open. “I’m done for this year with a very serious injury, a stress fracture,” said Radwanska. It’s a complicated injury and there’s some chance it won’t be healed in time for Australia. I just realized how serious the injury was just before I came to Asia to play in Tokyo and Beijing.”

*Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters have joined both Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva in qualifying for the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha. This leaves only four qualifying berths for the remaining hopefuls to fight over.

*Malaysian tennis fans are in for an extra special treat as the Showdown of Champions 2010 rolls in to Kuala Lumpur this week. Former tennis superstars Ivan Lendl and Goran Ivanisevic will commence battle against Pat Cash, Mats Wilander and Martina Hingis in the Asian paradise. Lendl has eight Grand Slams to his name while Ivanisevic will be most fondly remembered as being the only male wildcard to lift the Wimbledon Championships. Tickets are still available from www.fatdeal.com.my for an event which really cannot be missed.

*Following his title win last week Mikhail Youzhny is the new world No. 8 in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings. His current form should see him make a late push for the ATP Finals in London next month. He climbs above Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez leaps 14 places to No. 39 while Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen sees a return for his recent form by climbing twelve to No. 48. Russia’s Igor Andreev is back in the world’s Top 100 at No. 85.

*There are changes too in the Sony Ericsson WTA world rankings where Italy’s Francesca Schiavone is the new world No. 6, giving the French Open winner pole position to qualify for Doha. The Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka is also putting her US Open horror behind her and she is back in to the world’s Top 10. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska drops out. Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer climbs a place to enter the Top 20 while Maria Sharapova drops from No. 15 to No. 21. Olga Govortsova continues her recent rise by entering the Top 50 at No. 48 and there are no fewer than six climbers in to the Top 100.

*Juan Martin del Potro certainly isn’t panicking despite a so-far winless return from a long injury layoff. “I need time, I need to work on a few things to get back to my best level,” he said. “If work in a good way, I will be in good shape in a month or so.”

*Great news for the Shanghai Masters set to begin next week; every player within the world’s Top 20 is set to compete.

*Belgian Christophe Rochus has said he will retire at the end of the season following tournaments in Mons (Belgium) and Valencia. “I don’t have the capacity to aim for a place in the top 100,” he said. “To play to be 200th in the world rankings doesn’t interest me.”

*To finish off this week, how about something a little different? Head over to YouTube to see Jelena Jankovic, Flavia Penetta and Gisela Dulko take part in a Ninja demonstration at the Players Party for the Toray Pan Pacific Open. It’s certainly not like anything you’d usually associate the three with, but perhaps they might want to stick to the tennis.

FEDERER’S EXPANDING TROPHY CABINET: TENNIS PEOPLE

* Roger Federer has been boasting about his expansive trophy cabinet as he goes looking for a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title alongside Pete Sampras and W.G. Renshaw. “All the US Opens, all the Wimbledons, they’re all lined up next to each other,” he beamed. “They almost go in a circle, so it’s nice. I’m lucky enough to have won that many.” Does he think about that record? “Maybe obviously a little bit because I’m aware of the great things he [Sampras] achieved, being one title away from it, you’re obviously aware of it,” he continued. “But then again, you have to break it down and make it simple for yourself, trying to win the first round, being here, trying to defend the title before everything.”

* This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings have seen former No.1 Jelena Jankovic re-enter the top 3 for the first time in over a year despite not playing a warm-up tournament on grass this year. She swaps with the Dane Caroline Wozniacki who failed to defend her title at Eastbourne last week. Sam Stosur now finds herself a career-high No. 6 while the returning Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters find themselves ranked at No. 16 and No. 8 respectively, the highest slots since they returned to the tour.

* The South African Airways ATP World Rankings were a bit quieter this week. There was no movement in the top 36, Michael Llodra climbing nine places to No. 37 in a big leap following recent performances. Janko Tipsarevic enters the top 50 at 45 while Sergiy Stakhovsky jumps 24 places to a career-best No. 47 following his victory over Tipsarevic at the UNICEF Open in Holland last week.

* The Lawn Tennis Association has hit back at claims by Aussie former Wimbledon Champ Pat Cash that Roger Draper’s “shocking” tenure at the governing body has seriously jeopardised Britain’s chances of rearing future Champions, according to the Press Association. An LTA spokesman said: “Investment in grass roots is our priority. We are spending over £40million over five years in improving facilities. We have more than half a million people playing tennis in England alone. That number is growing and we are looking to increase that number further.” The spokesman laid out future objectives by saying: “We are four years into a 10-year project, so yes, this will take time, but we are already starting to see encouraging signs both in performance tennis and at grass roots level. The accusation is that we are not getting kids playing tennis but club membership among children has grown by 16% in the last three years.” You can see the full war of words here.

* Russian Nikolay Davydenko is adamant he will face Argentina for Russia in the crucial forthcoming Davis Cup quarterfinal next month. “Yeah, I will play,” he said in a post-match interview following on from his gritty five-set win over American Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon on Monday. There had been fears over his fitness. You can see the interview in full on the Davis Cup website. This comes after the No. 7 seed claimed he was playing through the pain against Anderson. “My wrist is okay but the rest of my body? I don’t know. I will need treatment now,” reported the British newspaper The Sun.

* Kim Clijsters has spoken of her frustration at missing most of the clay-court season with a damaged foot following such an impressive performance at Miami earlier in the year. “It was frustrating because I felt that I was playing well,” she said in an interview published on the FOX Sports website. “I was finally in a routine where I started to play more tournaments. After Miami, as well, I was looking forward to play the Fed Cup and then to play the clay-court season.”

* Serena Williams says she can’t wait to have the chance to make it three Olympic Gold Medals in her trophy cabinet when the 2012 competition takes place at the All England Club. “I think it’s great as an Olympic venue,” she said. “It’s probably the best venue in the world.”

* A couple of players gave interesting verdicts following shock exits in the early days of Wimbledon 2010. Aussie Sam Stosur was gracious following her shock exit to Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi. “She’s a quality opponent.” said the 26-year-old French Open finalist. “She has been ranked a lot higher than what she is. For whatever reason, she slipped back. She’s definitely played a lot of matches recently as well. She qualified at the French as well as here and has been playing well, so it wasn’t an easy first round by any means. The last couple of days I practiced quite well, tried to prepare for the match as best I could…I just didn’t play my best.” Former world No. 4 James Blake was far more damning of his performance following his shock defeat to Dutchman Robin Haase in straight sets. “To be honest, it’s almost embarrassing to go out and play a Grand Slam match like that,” said the former US and Aussie Open quarterfinalist. “Maybe it says to me that I came back too soon [from a recent knee injury], or maybe I’m just too far away from where I think I need to be. The knee is not great. If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain. Something like this, and overuse injury, it’s a tough balance to have to find,” he said. “I want to be out there hitting, but I might be doing more harm than good.” Fans of Blake will hope that talk of retirement is just a knee-jerk reaction to a disappointing day. Sam Querrey, who saw opponent Sergiy Stakhovsky retire through illness while trailing by two sets and 2-1 down in the third, has revealed an almost McEnroe-like approach to his recent improvement. “My coach, David Nainkin, said if you’re gonna get angry, yell something out and smash the racquet and move on to the next point. Don’t carry it with you,” Querrey said. “Occasionally in practice (I do it). I guess this year, I’ve probably broken two or three in practice. I can’t really remember the specific moments. Sometimes it just needs to be done.”

* Dustin Brown, the first Jamaican to play at Wimbledon for 40 years, has placed the LTA on standby by claiming he would like to defect to play Davis Cup for Great Britain, according to The Sun newspaper. He crashed 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6 to Austrian Jurgen Melzer on Monday but won over fans with his flowing dreadlocks and stylish play. “I last played for Jamaica in 2002 and I’m pretty sure the cooling-off period is three years,” said the 25-year-old. “The Jamaican authorities are not giving me any funds, no coaching and no help. They are not doing their job. They even sent an email to me two days ago [Saturday] saying ‘Congratulations on your wild-card’ – I got in with a direct entry and didn’t have to qualify. If the president doesn’t know what the No.1 player is doing, he doesn’t care.” Brown qualifies for GB through his grandfather but says he will wait for the LTA to make the first move. “Something also has to happen from the Lawn Tennis Association. If they are interested, then they have to step towards me.”

* The first-round exits of Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone at Wimbledon this week means this is the first Championships where both Roland Garros finalists have fallen at the first hurdle.

* Serena Williams’ first-round victory over Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito on Tuesday means her career record for Grand Slam openers reads 43-0, an outstanding achievement.

* Rafa Nadal took time out from his Wimbledon preparations by splashing out £130 for himself and three pals to play a round of golf at the Coombe Wood Golf Club. He applauded the presentation ceremony for Charlie Coleman, son of former Brit tennis star Annabel Croft, who became the club’s youngest Champion in its 106-year history at just 14-years-old.

* American Andy Roddick showed his disgust at the recent refereeing gaff which cost the USA a third goal in what would have been a thrilling second-half comeback against Slovenia at the FIFA football World Cup. The match ended 2-2 after midfielder Maurice Edu had what looked like a seemingly good goal wrongly chalked off. Roddick, asked if he understands the rules of football, said: “I understand the rules of football so well that apparently when two Slovenian guys mug an American guy the American guy gets called for a foul. That’s how well I understand the rules.”

ANA IVANOVIC BEATS SCARY SPICE IN MIAMI

Ana Ivanovic participated in the Sony Ericsson  Glam Slam Match 2010 that featured Jay Sean, Novak Djokovic and  Mel “Scary Spice” B. Ivanovic, who recently dropped out of the top 50 of the WTA Tour, won the match in the closing minute of the match.

“Sony Ericsson always come up with such imaginative ideas to promote the tournament here in Miami and it was a lot of fun taking part in this event. Miami is an exciting tournament, with lots going on both on and off the court, and I think that both the fans and players really appreciate that.”

More good news for Ana is that she survived the first round in Key Biscane beating qualifier Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-3 in her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Enjoy the photos and videos of the exhibition match:

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AROUND THE CORNER: MIAMI MASTERS

Fresh off from a very intriguing tournament in India Wells, the ATP Tour now heads east to Miami for the next Masters 1000 event – the Sony Ericsson Open. Anyone willing to put money on another Roddick/Ljubicic final? Didn’t think so.

Well for starters the two are paired in the same half of the draw, so a meeting in the finals in Miami is a physical impossibility. I somehow doubt anyone would have guessed the 31 year old Ljubicic would have had such an amazing run in a big event like Indian Wells, and yet he captured his fist Masters Series event by defeating top-level talent like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and then Andy Roddick. A nice feather in his cap as retirement draws nearer, but not something that will be repeated.

Instead look for a big name like Murray (the defending champ) or Djokovic (winner in 2007) to capture the title in Miami.

In the top half of the draw we have world number one Roger Federer who still is shaking off the rust from a month and a half layoff after winning the Australian Open. Federer lost a match against Marcos Baghdatis in the third round at Indian Wells that he led 4-1 in the third set and had several match points as well. That can only be chalked-up to inactivity. Federer might need a bit more time to get back to his usual self out there, so don’t expect a big run in Miami – but don’t count him out either! Federer has a first round bye and then a pretty easy go until a potential fourth round meeting with Tomas Berdych.

Fernando Verdasco and Marin Cilic are two players who could cause Federer some trouble in his quarter of the draw and both will be looking to post a good result for the first time since the Aussie Open. Verdasco is 3-3 since winning in San Jose in February while Cilic has cooled considerably since starting the year with two titles and his first Slam semi-final.

Andy Murray heads up the other quarter in the top section of the draw and it is definitely time that he stepped up his game. After losing his second Slam final to Federer in Australia, Murray tanked in Dubai and was then beaten in straight sets last week against Robin Soderling. I’m not sure why Murray has played such a light schedule in 2010, perhaps he really does spend too much time playing video games. Either way, he is due for a title and what better place to grab one than in the exact spot he did a year ago. Murray’s draw should allow him to advance to the quarters before being tested, perhaps again, by Soderling.

In the bottom half of the draw look for quarter final matches between Tsonga/Nadal and Djokovic/Roddick. Tournament organizers will certainly be hoping for those outcomes. Tsonga has been quiet since the Aussie Open but has a nice section of the draw where his toughest competition will come from Philipp Kohlschreiber and John Isner. Nadal looked fit at Indian Wells and should be able to at least make it through to the quarters here in Miami. A returning David Nalbandian is in his section but the Argentine has a long way to go in his return from injury before being considered a threat. Let’s hope Rafa can stay healthy because the tour is much more interesting when he is in the mix.

Djokovic should advance in his section as should Roddick – although I wonder if the American is due for a slip-up after starting the year so strongly. A guy like Igor Andreev could trouble him in the early-goings.

Enjoy this last hard-court tournament before the clay-court season gets started next week at three European locations. The lead-up to the French Open is just around the corner.