wta rankings

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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Ana Ivanovic is a Dance Machine

So anyone else got teary eyed when they looked at the WTA rankings to find Ana Ivanovic back in the top 20? I would like to say “Atta girl” but somehow I managed to set off a real tearjerker speech in my head. I would love to write it down and share it with you dear readers but alas, the best I can do is a tribute to that wonderful epiphany. Since a photo is a thousand words I will upload 25 photos but that is not even close to the amount of words I had in my head.

Last month at the Australian Open Ana was very open about her personal life. She told that breaking up with golfer Adam Scott was one of the reasons for her downfall on the WTA rankings. Which is totally understandable. I mean who hasn’t had his life turned upside down after a break up?

“It’s tough,” the 2008 French Open champion said. “I think it’s better not to mix professional life and personal life, although that’s hard.

“If you’re happy in your private life that will affect your tennis and that will help you, actually.

“While you want to pursue your career 100 per cent, I think it is very hard to give 100 per cent in something else.”

She still believes she can win another major but that is what I have been saying for years now.  And even though she got her form back in the latter part of 2010 and despite the early loss this year at the Australian Open, I believe that she can come back and the take the world by storm starting with a spot in the top 20.

But next to being a true  winner, Ana also has dance moves. Not just dance moves but THE moves:

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And I really did miss that big smile at press conferences:

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What makes a TV interview complete? Right…

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Ofcourse where would today’s tennis star be if she didn’t participate in the charity events?

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But seriously all these photos, they still do not even come close to that tearjerker speech but I am thinking these videos do:

Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko and Vera Zvonareva arrive in Pattaya, Thailand:

And here is Ana Ivanovic at the Kids Day for the Australian Open 2011. Enjoy!!

Caroline Wozniaki has Reached the Pinnacle of the WTA Rankings

By Maud Watson

At the Apex – Dane Caroline Wozniaki has reached the pinnacle of the WTA Rankings, and it will be interesting to see how she is perceived in the weeks to come. Like some of the other recent No. 1’s such as Safina and Jankovic, she has reached the top without a Slam to her name. But while it may not pan out this way, Wozniaki seems as though she’s more in the vein of a Mauresmo or Clijsters, who also reached the top ranking before going on to win their Grand Slam titles. Besides, Slam or no Slam, Wozniaki deserves the No. 1 ranking the same as Safina and Jankovic did when they held it. History will remember more those who won the majors, but finding a way to stay healthy and having the mental fortitude to perform consistently at a high level week in and week out is a great achievement in and of itself, and there should be no qualms if that achievement is rewarded with the top ranking in the game.

Breakthrough – The 2010 season is winding down, and many in the tennis world are already anxiously looking forward to 2011. But for Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the best moment of his season, and indeed, perhaps of his career, came last week in Bangkok. He recorded his first win over a current world. No. 1, defeating compatriot Rafael Nadal in three sets. Garcia-Lopez showed nerves of steel in his victory, having to save 24 of 26 breakpoints to see himself across the finish line. Impressively, he didn’t suffer the let down that so many do after such a big win, taking out the man from Finland, Jarkko Nieminen, in three close sets to secure the title. This could be a flash in the pan, but such a week could give Garcia-Lopez and his fans even more of a reason to look toward the 2011 season.

Early Exit – More players are calling time on their 2010 seasons in an effort to get healthy going into 2011. Svetlana Kuznetsova has been suffering from an illness that has prevented her from playing at her top form. Unable to practice or work on her fitness, the Russian veteran has smartly opted to close the curtain for the time being in order to allow her body to rest and recharge for next year. The situation for Aggie Radwanska is unfortunately more serious. The young Pole is suffering from a stress fracture in her foot, and as she correctly pointed out, it is a tricky injury. She is unsure if she will be prepared to play the Australian Open next January. Fingers crossed she’s able to make it, as unlike so many of the game’s current stars, Radwanska brings an entertaining game of cunning tactics and touch to the court. As for the elder Williams sister, she is still struggling with a niggling knee injury. Venus hasn’t alluded to the injury being a threat to her chances to go for her first title Down Under, and as a young 30, pocketing another Slam or two isn’t out of the question. Finally, Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero has been forced to undergo both wrist and knee surgery, and will need the next two months to rehab and get healthy. It would be a cruel twist of fate if Ferrero is unable to bounce back from these injuries given the admirable turnaround he has done this year as far as his career and ranking are concerned. Hope to see all of these players in full flight next season.

The Great Compromise – Not so long ago, it was announced that the powers-at-be in the ATP were looking at the possibility of shortening the length of the season by 2-3 weeks. As the starting date of the Aussie Open wasn’t set to move, speculation was that a shortened season would also mean the axing of a few ATP events. But ATP CEO Adam Helfant has put that speculation to rest, stating that no tournaments would be lost should the ATP shorten its season. Undoubtedly some tournament directors are breathing a slight sigh of relief, though no cutting could mean stacking another tournament or two within a week, which means more competition to secure the best field, but it’s better than being wiped off the map completely. Hats off to Helfant if he’s able to find a way to make all parties happy.

Grunt Work – In a study performed at the University of British Columbia and the University of Hawaii, the Public Library of Science put out their findings showing that there’s a good chance that those players who grunt (or shriek as the case may be) actually gain an edge on their quieter opponents. The study’s findings suggest that “the presence of an extraneous sound interfered with participants’ performance, making their response both slower and less accurate.” More research into this subject will have to be done, but hopefully the ITF is taking a hard look at this. Particularly in the case of some of the louder shriekers on the WTA Tour, things have gotten out of hand. It’s an annoyance to the fans and takes away from the game. Plus, given how far things have come since Monica Seles, recent history would also suggest the problem will only get worse as this ugly trend is allowed to continue. One hopes that similar studies to the one conducted by the Universities of British Columbia and Hawaii will give the ITF the evidence that they need to start taking more action.

WHAT’S UP WITH THESE GIRLS?

This year’s Australian Open highlighted once more the stagnant pool of young teenage starlets whose careers have significantly flattened out since hitting the dizzy heights of the women’s game at a young age.

Unfortunately, it was the usual suspects as always. Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic; they all crashed out to supposedly lesser opposition once more early on.

Let’s start with Miss Ivanovic. She made headlines in 2007 with a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon before reaching the Aussie Open final in 2008 and then winning the French a few months later, beating Dinara Safina.

She hasn’t won a top-tier title since that year and only made one final in 2009, losing to Vera Zvonareva at Indian Wells in March. Her best Slam results during 2009 were the fourth rounds at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

This year Down Under it was Gisela Dulko who put paid to Ivanovic’s hopes in round two. While Dulko may be no slouch at times, she was unseeded and the result raised a few eyebrows, but perhaps maybe not to those who see Ana as a choker in the majors.

Another early setback has seen the Serbian drop two places to 23 in this week’s WTA rankings.

Jelena Jankovic sprang to prominence around the same time as Ivanovic. Another Serbian, she reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2007 before repeating that feat in 2008 as well as reaching the semis in Australia and the final in the US Open.

Big things were then expected of her, and she even held the world No. 1 spot for a short period, being the year-end No. 1 for 2008.

Unlike Ivanovic, Jankovic won a big tournament title last year beating Safina (she’s appearing a few times too) to lift the Cincinnati title before losing to Maria Sharapova in the final at Tokyo. She too failed to progress past the fourth round at any Slam during 2009.

The third round was this year’s stumbling block for Jelena, going down 2-6, 3-6 to the 31st seed Alona Bondarenko. She remains at No. 8 in this week’s rankings.

Russian Sharapova shot to prominence in 2004 when she won the Wimbledon title age 17, the third-youngest woman to do so. She picked up the US Open in 2006, reached the finals of the French and Australian Opens in 07 and then won Down Under in 2008.

Then she went completely off the boil. That Tokyo victory over Jankovic is only her third since lifting the Australian Open. Some erratic form, stress and some harrowing injuries have stalled the career of a girl who could have matched the likes of Hingis and Seles.

Another labeled as a choker, she was toppled by the unseeded Maria Kirilenko at this year’s tournament and now finds herself ranked No. 16 in the world having only reached the quarterfinals in Paris last year since her last Slam win.

Elena Dementieva is another Russian who has never quite lived up to her billing. Like Jankovic she has never won a Slam but has been widely expected to do so without quite making it.

She was a French and US Open finalist in 2004 before reaching the Wimbledon semis in 2008 and again in 2009. She reached the same stage in Australia last year too. She also picked up Olympic Gold in Beijing in 2008 with Safina again the unlucky loser.

She picked up three WTA titles last year whilst also overcoming this year’s Aussie Open Champion Serena Williams at the warm-up event in Sydney three weeks ago. But the Slam again proved to be her downfall, losing in the second round (although the returning Justine Henin is a formidable opponent).

Safina is continually improving, so it is a little early to add her to this list yet but there are a fair few women who continually flatter to deceive at the Slams each year.

So how refreshing it was to see the likes of Na Li and Jie Zheng of China reach the semifinals before finally succumbing to Serena and Justine respectively.

The sport has for many years been on the rise in Asia and now it looks like the world’s largest growing political powerhouse may be looking at branching out in to the highest echelons of tennis too.

With Justine becoming one of the favorites for the French in April it remains to be seen whether they can match their exploits Down Under. Or even if the lovely ladies looked at above bother to bring their A-Games to the next Slam.

Watch this space.