Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daily Reports: Cincinnati DAY 2!

Tuesday at the Western & Souther Financial Group Women's Open offered 13 matches. We could see top seed Jelena Jankovic in action. The clash between two Russians, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, was the first match of night session. Players continue playing in tough conditions here in Cincinnati, as they were forced to play in a big heat again.

Let's start with the only yesterday's upset. Russian, number fifteenth seed Nadia Petrova, lost to a home wild card Christina McHale, after retiring at 67(4) 35 due to a heat illness. Both girls were serving big, hitting 15 aces overally. There was only one break on each side in the first set. So the first set needed to be decided in a tie-break which McHale took 7-4 surprisingly. 18-year-old American got another break at 76 43 and Petrova decided to retire, trailing 67 35. Petrova probably wanted to keep playing until she gets broken, McHale was just one game away from a win. We can argue if this was classless from Petrova, retiring one game away from a loss, or if her injury was really that bad so she couldn't continue.

Top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, recovering from an ankle injury, played the last match on Tuesday, facing Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina. Jankovic's return of the serve was working very well in the first set. Also her serve was pretty good, she lost only one in the first set and took the opener 64. Jankovic served 11 aces overally, which is a really big and unusual number for the Serbian, but even those 6 aces she hit in the second set, didn't help her to win it. Dushevina was far more consistent on her serve and took the set 63. The Serbian number one didn't have any problems to take this match in three as she won the final set 61. Dushevina stood no chance in the final set. Jankovic confirmed her favourite role and will face another qualifier, Akgul Amanmuradova in the third round. Amanmuradova, a qualifier from Uzbekistan, continues in her amazing run. After beating Kimiko Date Krumm 61 62 in the first round, she destroyed another qualifier, Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 62 60 in round two. No Serbian showdown in the third round then.

Another expected match featured Russian young and upcoming star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and "veteran" Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia. The first set was a breakfest. Both players struggled on serve which resulted in six breaks overall, and Pavlyuchenkova winning the first set 63 after being a bit more consistent on her serve. The second set was different. Girls held their serves without any problems, but unfortunately for the Slovak, Hantuchova didn't hold her serve at the most important moment - when serving to stay in the match at 36 45. Pavlyuchenkova will face her compatriot, third seed Elena Dementieva, in the second round.

After a very long time, Argentinian Gisela Dulko won a singles match. She faced Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the first round. Safarova was a favourite, considering Dulko is recovering from an injury and showed poor form in her previous match against Coco Vandeweghe as she was forced to retire at 06 03 in San Diego last week. Safarova will definitely be dissapointed with her play, she has a lot of points to defend this summer and this was not a good start for the Czech.

The biggest first round match-up was between two Russians, last week San Diego winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and former world number one Maria Sharapova. No doubts this match deserved to be a three-setter, although it wouldn't be a pleasure for the players to play three sets in such a heat. However it really was a three-setter. Both players were really strong on serve. Winner of each set remained unbroken in that set. The only thing Sharapova did bad was a big number of double faults, eleven overally, she won't be satisfied with this. It definitely wasn't easy for Kuznetsova to play another match two days after her San Diego run to the title, as she could be tired and didn't have much time to get used to the heat here in Cincinnati. Both players were forced to use heat rule after the second set, to have a shower and change their clothes. It's hard to report on this match just along live scoreboard. I can only say that the match score at the end was 64 16 62 in Sharapova's favour.

Another expected winners of today's matches, such as Flavia Pennetta, Maria Kirilenko, Marion Bartoli, Yanina Wickmayer and Andrea Petkovic, all advanced to the next round.

Tuesday's results:
Elena Vesnina def. Melanie Oudin 62 63
(WC) Christina McHale def. (15) Nadia Petrova 76(4) 53 ret.
(11) Flavia Pennetta def. Jie Zheng 64 62
Maria Kirilenko def. Kateryna Bondarenko 61 63
Gisela Dulko def. Lucie Safarova 64 63
(12) Yanina Wickmayer def. (Q) Greta Arn 62 62
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Daniela Hantuchova 63 64
Andrea Petkovic def. (WC) Coco Vandeweghe 76(1) 61
(10) Maria Sharapova def. Svetlana Kuznetsova 64 16 62
Sybille Bammer def. (Q) Sorana Cirstea 76(5) 62

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Daily Reports: Cincinnati DAY 1!

Main draw action kicked off yesterday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, a Premier 5 category tournament held in Cincinnati, with fourteen main draw matches. After Monday, we already have two big upsets and also Sabine Lisicki played her first match on her comeback yesterday. Qualifiers did very well on Monday and most of them won their first round match.

Azarenka and Rezai out!
Victoria Azarenka, seed number nine, played her first match since winning Stanford two weeks ago. 21-year-old Belorussian was forced to pull out of San Diego last week due to a right shoulder injury. Serbian superstar Ana Ivanovic, former world number one, ranked 62nd at the moment, drew Azarenka in the first round.

It looked like Azarenka won't have any problems to win this match as she was controlling the match since the beginning. Azarenka remained unbroken in the first set, because Ivanovic wasn't able to win many points on return and the Serbian struggled with her serve as well. 22-year-old Ivanovic was broken twice which resulted in Azarenka winning the first set 62. Azarenka was break up until 62 54 in the second set when she went to serve for the match. The Belorussian couldn't find her first serve and made a lot of double faults, so she lost the lead and wasn't even able to serve it out at 62 65 as well. A tie-break had to decide about the second set winner. Ivanovic took a quick lead 3-0 in the breaker. Unfortunately for the Serbian, she lost her lead immediately, the same way as against Peer in Stanford two weeks ago. Azarenka levelled the score at 3-3, but struggled with her serve again, to give Ivanovic three set points, 6-3. Ivanovic couldn't convert any of those three set points, double faulted on the third one, so the score was levelled again. Finally 22-year-old Serbian showed her experience and fighting spirit to take the second set 8-6 in the tie-break. Azarenka continued struggling on her serve in the final set, while Ivanovic didn't face any break points and had no problems to hold her own serve. The final set was a copy of the first one, just with the other winner at the end. Ivanovic won the match 26 76(6) 62, and no doubts it will be a great confidence booster for her. Is this a start of her comeback? We can also speculate if Azarenka was bothered with her shoulder yesterday. It probably couldn't be that bad as she was able to play the entire match. Ivanovic will play Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the second round. Shvedova beat qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva in straight sets.

The second upset on Monday, was the clash between Aravane Rezai of France, seeded #14, and Serbian upcoming player Bojana Jovanovski. Rezai hasn't played up to her possibilities since her surprising Madrid run to the title this year. Her game is based on hitting the ball extremely hard off both wings, and is backed with a solid serve. Jovanovski's game isn't much different. From what I saw in Portoroz, the Serbian has big groundstrokes and a solid serve as well. The main difference between these two, has to be in how hard they hit the ball. There's probably not a player who hits harder than the Frenchwoman. Jovanovski won the match 46 63 64, hit 6 aces and 2 double faults. On the contrary, Rezai hit 4 aces and 7 doubles faults. There was a very long game at 1-1 in the final set, Jovanovski was serving and it lasted a few minutes before she took that game. Maybe it was a decisive game of the match. Unfortunately I didn't get to follow the scoreboard so I don't know how this match exactly went on. Obviously this is a big upset and could be in favour of another Serbian, top seed Jelena Jankovic, who will play qualifier Vera Dushevina on Tuesday. Jankovic already beat Jovanovski in Portoroz a couple of weeks ago. Jovanovski will play Akgul Amanmuradova, a qualifier who destroyed veteran Kimiko Date Krumm 61 62 in her first round match. We will have to wait if we will see a Serbian clash in the third round, girls need to win their second round matches first.

The Russian Dinara Safina, former world number one and multiple Grand Slam finalist, didn't disappoint her fans this time and managed to beat Roberta Vinci of Italy 75 64. This match was very up and down, especially in the first set. Vinci took a quick 2-0 lead in the first set, but Safina immediately broke back. Vinci was serving for the first set at 5-3 but absolutely failed to close it out, and lost eight points in a row so Safina levelled the score at 5-5. No problems for Safina to take that first set 75, Vinci was probably mentally down after that choke at 5-3, or Safina found her good old form for those games. The second set was dictated by the Russian until 75 32, Safina was 40-0 up on her serve but double faulted many times to give that game away and to give Vinci a chance for getting back into the match. Fortunately for the Russian, Vinci didn't take her chances and Safina was serving for the match at 75 54. Easily got up 40-0, having three match points. I couldn't believe it, but Safina double faulted three times in a row to lose all those match points. Like on a swing, Safina hit a second serve ace after and then finally converted her fourth match point to win this match 75 64. Safina will play #4 seed Kim Clijsters in the next round, she definitely should step it up to stand a chance.

Lisicki not successful with her comeback!
Tennis world was looking forward to the comeback of Sabine Lisicki, who has been out since Miami due to an ankle injury. It looked like the German could start off her comeback very well. Lisicki took a quick lead 3-0 in the first set against a qualifier, Monica Niculescu of Romania. But since that score, it was a disaster, Niculescu is a very tricky player though, so it couldn't be easy for Lisicki to play such opponent in her first match on her comeback. Unfortunately Lisicki lost 12 games in a row to lose the match 63 60. Even Lisicki's serve didn't work well at all. As she said, she is really disappointed with her loss and she knows she can do much better. The good thing is that her body feels fine, so she will be able to continue playing to get more matches under her belt.

Monday's results:
(Q) Vera Dushevina def. (Q) Anastasia Rodionova 62 76(7)
(Q) Akgul Amanmuradova def. (Q) Kimiko Date Krumm 61 62
(Q) Bojana Jovanovski def. (14) Aravane Rezai 46 63 64
Ana Ivanovic def. (9) Victoria Azarenka 26 76(6) 62
Yaroslava Shvedova def. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva 75 64
Dinara Safina def. Roberta Vinci 75 64
(Q) Ayumi Morita def. Arantxa Parra Santonja 76(7) 62
(Q) Monica Niculescu def. Sabine Lisicki 63 60
Sara Errani def. (WC) Jamie Hampton 64 62
(13) Shahar Peer def. Olga Govortsova 63 41 ret.
(Q) Nuria Llagostera Vives def. (Q) Vania King 36 63 61
Alisa Kleybanova def. Alexandra Dulgheru 64 64
(16) Marion Bartoli def. Anabel Medina Garrigues 64 60
Alona Bondarenko def. Dominika Cibulkova 36 62 63

Order of play for Tuesday:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Daily Reports: WTA San Diego Final!

Unseeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova has won her first WTA Tour title since Beijing 2009 after beating number fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 64 67(7) 63 in Mercury Insurance Open women's singles final played on Sunday.

It was another perfect start for Kuznetsova, she took a quick 5-1 lead in the first set thanks to some extremely hard hitting. Her famous forehand side was working perfectly, hitting more winners than unforced errors. On the other hand Radwanska was making a lot of unforced errors, which is quite unusual to see from her. Of course, some of Radwanska's unforced errors were due to Kuznetsova smashing the ball back to Radwanska's side of the court. At 5-1 down, Radwanska finally found her game, and was able to make things far more competitive, managing to get the first set back to 5-4. But Kuznetsova finally brought the set to a close, serving it out to love.

The Pole managed to remain competitive at the start of the second set. She was even more aggressive and her serve, especially, was working very well, clocking a few aces. Kuznetsova continued her solid play from the first set into the second. There was a crucial, long game at 2-2 where Radwanska failed to convert two game points, thanks to some poorly executed net approaches, allowing Kuznetsova to break for the first time in the set, and go up 3-2. An injury to her left foot forced Radwanska to take a medical timeout. It didn't look dramatic, though, and, in my opinion, didn't even influence the match progress after. She had to take another medical timeout two games later, due to a poor taping on her injured foot. Both players held their next service games, leaving the Russian to serve for the title at 64 54. Kuznetsova failed miserably to close it out, giving her opponent the opportunity to get back into the match. Despite her, thus far, poor break point conversion rate, Radwanska managed to level the score at 5-5 after capitalising on her third break point of the game. Both players held their next service games forcing the second set to be decided by a tie-break. It looked like Kuznetsova was going to take the breaker easily, and win the match in straight sets. She played well to go up 4-0 and then 6-3, giving her three championship points. But as at 64 54, Kuznetsova got very nervous, made unforced errors and double faulted to draw the score 6-6. In return Radwanska also double faulted giving Kuznetsova her fourth match point, 7-6. It looked like Kuznetsova didn't want to win the match, as she hit another double fault, 7-7. Radwanska showed some great defensive skills and hit a forehand passing shot winner cross-court. Unlike Kuznetsova, Radwanska took her first set point to win this second set 9-7 in the tie-break.

Some would have expected Kuznetsova to lose this match after wasting such an opportunity. But she’s a great champion and proved she was mentally tough enough to forget the second set by holding her serve to love but, as did Radwanska in the next game. The Pole came back from 40-15 down to break in the third game and take a 2-1 lead. But Kuznetsova never gives up. Some fantastic play from her, combined with a drop in Radwanska’s level, saw the Russian win four games in a row, to lead the third set 5-2. Radwanska tried to come back again, holding her serve at 2-5 but Kuznetsova didn't allow for anymore drama. She kept focused and served out the match to love, finishing off with a backhand down the line winner. 

Since the beginning of the match Kuznetsova was very motivated, maybe it cost her the second set. She was often annoyed at herself and her body language wasn't the best. But she played very well during key points, apart from the end of the second set. Radwanska was calm as usual, she did gesture a bit when she hit a wild unforced error though. It was definitely a delight for Kuznetsova to win a title after such a long time and it was thoroughly deserved. Radwanska shouldn't be disappointed, it was a great run for her and will help to keep her TOP 10 ranking.

Here's the match point uploaded by me on Youtube:


The doubles title goes to Russian Maria Kirilenko and her partner Chinese Jie Zheng. This very interesting team managed to beat second highest seeded team consisted of Lisa Raymond (USA) and Rennae Stubbs of Australia. It was a very competitive final as Kirilenko/Zheng were on fire on their serve and allowed the other team to break them only once which resulted in a 64 64 win after 76 minutes of fight.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Daily Reports: WTA Copenhagen Final!

The Copenhagen final between home Danish star Caroline Wozniacki and Czech Klara Zakopalova was scheduled to be played on Sunday at 10:30 AM local time. Many people were awaiting this match for two reasons: Will Wozniacki win her home tournament and confirm the top seed and favourite role? Or will the Czech surprise us all? The first option happened as Caroline Wozniacki won the final match in straight sets 62 76(5) in 79 minutes and could celebrate another title. No surprise winner of the e-Boks Danish Open which was held for the first time in 2010 then.

Zakopalova had a very slow start, was making a lot of unforced errors while her opponent, the home superstar Caroline Wozniacki, played a solid first set. You know, Wozniacki doesn't give her opponents any cheap points nor many opportunities in matches. Solid and consistent play by Wozniacki led to a 62 triumph in the first set for her. Wozniacki maybe even played the best set here in Copenhagen but Zakopalova's wild errors and inconsistent hitting surely helped her to make the first set so easy.

The second set was a different story. While Wozniacki kept playing her solid game, Zakopalova came up with many great winners in this set and improved her serve a notch. The Czech was even a break up in this set but Wozniacki showed she doesn't lack experience again. It was a very nice and entertaining second set which resulted in forgetting not a really good first one. Unfortunately Zakopalova lost her serve and a tie-break had to decide whether the match will go to three sets or not. Such a shame for not one-sided tennis fans that Wozniacki was just too solid in the tie-break, not making any errors so no cheap points for Zakopalova while the Czech gave a few points to Wozniacki by making a few errors. Wozniacki had five match points at 6-1, and then suddenly Zakopalova found her great groundstrokes, hit 4 winners off both sides to tie the score to 5-6 from her view. However Wozniacki didn't allow any more drama, fired a big serve which Zakopalova couldn't return over the net. A youngster nicknamed "Sunshine" won her home tournament and that's the best mark for the organizers as that was their wish for sure as well as home crowd's. Maybe even Wozniacki's new haircut helped her to win, who knows. What's known is that she deserved to win the title after showing a fighting spirit and solid play. No shame for Zakopalova, she played her third ever WTA Tour final and first one this year, if she keeps her good form up, she can improve her rankings this year.

The doubles title goes to another top seed, German duo Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Julia Goerges beat #4 Vitalia Diatchenko/Tatiana Poutchek (RUS/BLR) 64 64 in the final on Saturday.

Daily Reports: WTA San Diego + Copenhagen

Here comes the first daily report for my new blog. I will report on the semifinals of WTA San Diego and WTA Copenhagen tournaments. I will start with San Diego.

Svetlana Kuznetsova def. (5) Flavia Pennetta 64 60
Some time ago, you would predict, the Russian two-times Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, will prevail over her Italian opponent but the current situation is quite different. Meanwhile Kuznetsova has been struggling to find any form this year, Pennetta has been considered a threat in the tournaments she plays. However Kuznetsova found a good form in San Diego this week in her previous matches and although Pennetta has been a threat in many tournaments, she hasn't been in any great form since Wimbledon as well as her Russian opponent so it was a bit unpredictable match.

Kuznetsova started off very well, had no problems to hold her serve at the beginning and even managed to get an early break. However the Italian Flavia Pennetta didn't allow Kuznetsova to confirm her early break on her serve and the Italian immediately re-broke back. Pennetta was finally able to hold her serve in the next game and as well did Kuznetsova. After those two games, both players lost one serve. Kuznetsova led 5-3 and was serving for the first set but failed to do it and allowed her opponent to get back into this very competitive set. When Kuznetsova was up 5-4, Pennetta was serving to stay in the first set but unfortunately for the Italian, she failed to hold her serve and quite gave this game to her opponent by some unforced errors she doesn't really make when her game is on. It was very tough for Kuznetsova to take this set as she had to quite paint the lines due to Pennetta's great movement. So no wonders she hit some unforced errors but she didn't hit many and her serve also helped her to take the first set 6-4 on her first set point.

The second set was not that intense like the previous one. Kuznetsova was absolutely dominating the play with great serving and great groundstrokes from the baseline, especially her forehand was finally working like she surely wanted to. On the other hand Pennetta's game was really off, even her best shot, backhand down the line, was not working well which resulted in an easy win 64 60 for Kuznetsova.

(4) Agnieszka Radwanska def. Daniela Hantuchova 64 62
Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to watch the second semifinal which featured Slovak Daniela Hantuchova against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. As some reports say, Radwanska played one of her best matches ever, along statistics, she hit 21 winners and just 9 unforced errors. Fans who know the Polish number one's game, know that she never makes many unforced errors in her matches and plays with great tactics and variety not to give her opponents any rhythm, also her drop shot is one of the best shots in current tennis. Looks like everything was working for the Polish in this match and no doubts the drop shot would work against Hantuchova because her movement is one of her biggest weaknesses. On the other hand Hantuchova hit 26 winners and 36 unforced errors, of course, Hantuchova's game is way more offensive than Radwanska's. Unfortunately for the Slovak, she hit way too many unforced errors today which resulted in a 46 26 loss. But the scoreline doesn't really show the story of this match. It was way more competitive and close match, especially a game on Hantuchova's serve at 46 15 lasted about 20 minutes and Radwanska had seven match points which she wasn't able to take. So Radwanska got to serve for the match at 64 52 and she showed some great serving in this game, didn't allow Hantuchova to put any pressure on her and didn't even showed any signs or bad body language after lossing the previous long game.

The final between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnieszka Radwanska is scheduled on Sunday and should start at 1:00 PM local time.

(7) Klara Zakopalova def. (2) Na Li 63 16 64
Onto Copenhagen where the first semifinal featured Czech Klara Zakopalova and Chinese number one, seed number two Li Na. I expected not a really long match as both players hit the ball extremely hard and flat and also go for winners on every single opportunity. If you agree with me, you were not mistaken as it was the real story of the match although I expected less errors. Both girls didn't really play well in first two sets, the worse one at the beginning was the Chinese who made a lot of unforced errors and Zakopalova was at least a little consistent to be able to take the first set 63. Like on a swing, the second set was an opposite. Li started to play a little better and stopped making some wild errors while Zakopalova showed her groundstrokes don't always go in the court and her serve doesn't really help her to compensate it for. Li took easily the second set 61.

Finally the third set showed some nice play from both as they cut off some wild unforced errors, also probably got used to opponent's game. Zakopalova was a break up for most of the set but there was a horendous call during her service game which resulted in Li levelled the score to 4-4. At 4-4 40-30, Li hit a cross-court forehand winner which took a bit of the line but the line judge called it out, thanks to this, the Chinese didn't manage to hold her important service game and kind of "gave up" after lossing this game. Zakopalova served out the match without any problems and reached her first WTA Tour final this year after winning 63 16 64 against the seed #2.

(1) Caroline Wozniacki def. (Q) Anna Chakvetadze 61 26 64
The second semifinal was the more expected one as the home Danish star Caroline Wozniacki wanted to show her best tennis in front of home crowd. Her opponent was Russian Anna Chakvetadze, the qualifier who was on 11 matches winning streak, after winning Portoroz two weeks ago and being in Copenhagen semifinal as a qualifier, before this match.

It was quite the same story as the previous semifinal just with the only difference that both players prefer to play longer rallies and use some tactics and variety on the court. Chakvetadze wasn't playing well at all in the first set, making a lot of errors, while the home player was able to keep her consistent play she's famous for and hit more winners than unforced errors. The second set was dictated by the Russian as Chakvetadze started to hit some outstanding winners and Wozniacki's level dropped down a bit.

The final set, as in the previous semifinal, was a very entertaining and competitive fight. Spectators could see very nice long rallies with some great winners from both at the end. Wozniacki was a break up for most of the final set and remained unbroken as she was serving really well in this final set. Unfortunately for the crowd, Wozniacki got broken at 4-3. But then fortunately showed experience and why she's the world number three and took a 0-40 lead on return. Chakvetadze was fighting very hard but was able to save only two out of three break points in that game as she hit a forehand down the line wide after a big rally. Chakvetadze quite couldn't believe her forehand shot was called out but as the slow motion confirmed, it was out. Then it was an easy job for experienced but still young Caroline Wozniacki to serve out the match, maybe Chakvetadze was still upset with that call in the previous game. It's definitely great for this tournament to have their own favourite in the final and Wozniacki looked happy enough screaming CMON after she won the match.

The final between Wozniacki and Zakopalova is scheduled to start at 10:30 AM local time on Sunday. Quite a strange time to start the final as most of tournaments' finals don't start before the noon. We will see if the favourite, Caroline Wozniacki, will take the title and please her fans and home crowd or if Zakopalova will be able to surprise and finish off her nice Copenhagen run with a title.

Preview: WTA Cincinnati

Here comes the first preview of my new tennis blog. The first tournament to be in my first preview is the Western & Southern Financial Group Womens Open held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the USA. As you could read in my previous post, it's a Premier 5 tournament so tennis fans expect to see big names competing in this tournament, but, you know, some best players won't be able to. Such a shame for this tournament. Let's look at some basic and important facts:

Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Date: August 9-15
Category: Premier 5
Prize Money: $2,000,000
Draw: 64 MD/32 QD
Surface: Hardcourts/Outdoors
Tournament Director: Bruce Flory
Defending Champion: Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Tournament Website:
Live Scores:

Seeded players:
01. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
Jelena Jankovic has been struggling with ankle injury since Portoroz. She still felt the pain in her ankle in her San Diego second round match against Alisa Kleybanova of Russia which she lost 57 26. Jankovic is the defending champion and there would be no doubts she would go far but will she be able to as she's injured? On the other hand she couldn't ask for a better draw! As a top seed she has a BYE in the first round and will meet a qualifier in the round two. As was predicted, she should play against new face Aravane Rezai in the third round, who has been a new upcoming star this year. It's hard to predict if Jelena will be pain/injury free next week, if yes, she can go far and even defend her last year's triumph, no doubts she has a game for it!

02. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Nicknamed "Sunshine", Caroline will be one of the contenders for the title. No doubts her game is different to most of top players, she prefers to play in defence as it's one of her biggest weapons. You never know with Caroline but you always have to say she's a contender for the title as she's one of the most consistent players on tour. As #2 seed, she should have no problems to get into R3 for a probable showdown with French Marion Bartoli who showed some promising form in Stanford a week ago.

03. Elena Dementieva (RUS)
After Roland Garros, Dementieva has played only one tournament as she was out for a few weeks due to a calf injury which even forced her to pull out of Wimbledon. Lost to Maria Sharapova in a three-setter one week ago in Stanford quarterfinal. Always a contender for the title but you never know with Dementieva as she can be quite inconsistent. Maybe two matches in Stanford helped her to get used to play again and will shine in Cincinnati as she has a game to do so. Not an easy second round match for the Russian though. She will meet either Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia or her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Could reach at least quarterfinal if she wins her second round match.

04. Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Mother Kim Clijsters can still win big tournaments as she proved last year at the US Open. After a Wimbledon disappointment, she comes back on tour here in Cincinnati. She will face Safina/Vinci in the second round and tennis fans are still awaiting the moment when Safina finds her old form and can be dangerous again. Another seeded player, Nadia Petrova of Russia, could wait for Clijsters in the third round and Clijsters doesn't have the best memories on their last match as Petrova destroyed Clijsters 60 61 in the third round match at the Australian Open.

05. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Surprising Roland Garros 2010 winner has done absolutely nothing since that. She has played several tournament but mostly fell in first matches. Maybe another big tournament will help her to find her big form from Roland Garros. Schiavone hasn't an easy draw as she can face young American star Melanie Oudin or last week's Istanbul finalist Elena Vesnina of Russia. Not even speaking about predictable R3 showdown with Stanford winner Victoria Azarenka.

06. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
After a dream final run at Wimbledon, Zvonareva has been struggling, she played just one tournament since Wimbledon, in Stanford where she lost to home qualifier Coco Vandeweghe in three tight sets. She is scheduled to face Kirilenko/K.Bondarenko in the second round which won't be an easy match for her as she will probably face dangerous and unpredictable compatriot, Maria Kirilenko. Italian Flavia Pennetta could stop her in the third round, Pennetta found some good form again and reached the semifinal in San Diego this week.

07. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Another consistent player with great tactics and offensive/defensive play on the court. Radwanska has some form at the moment as she's playing Daniela Hantuchova in the second San Diego semifinal tonight. She will face Kleybanova/Dulgheru winner in the second round which is not really easy, Dulgheru is very unpredictable although clay is her favourite surface and Kleybanova has probably been slightly getting into some form. She could face Kuznetsova/Sharapova in the third round, not players she couldn't beat. But will she be able to play to her standards at least?

08. Na Li (CHN)
Always unpredictable and quite inconsistent, Li will face Hampton/Errani in the second round which she should manage to win. She could meet Belgian star Yanina Wickmayer in the third round who will definitely give her some trouble and seed number wouldn't play any role in this match.

09. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
After winning Stanford, Azarenka was forced to pull out of San Diego due to a right shoulder injury. No doubts she will be a contender for the title if she's injury free, maybe a contender for the "US Open series title"? She will face former world number one Ana Ivanovic in the first round. Ivanovic is struggling this year a lot, can't find her old good form but who knows when that moment can come, tennis fans still believe that beatiful Ana will find her form to get back to the top. Azarenka has a quite open draw until semifinals, if she beats Ivanovic, she will probably face Shvedova and then maybe Schiavone who is out of form. In the next round she should face Jankovic/Rezai, as said, Jankovic is injured and Rezai hasn't played her best tennis recently.

10. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Sharapova got probably the toughest first round opponent possible, her compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, fresh finalist in San Diego. She should have no problems getting at least to the third round, if she beats Kuznetsova, where she could face Agnieszka Radwanska again after two weeks (Sharapova won in three sets in Stanford). She has already beaten Caroline Wozniacki and very easy so her draw is quite open. I think her first round match will be a decider for how well she will do in Cincinnati next week.

11. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Finally found some form after a disappointing Wimbledon run. Reached the semifinal in San Diego where she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova today. Will play a tricky Chinese star Jie Zheng in the first round and can face former top player Sabine Lisicki who is coming back from an injury. Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva could await in the third round but considering her current form, Pennetta has a solid chance to go further than her seeding suggests.

12. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)
Wickmayer got a nice first round opponent, a qualifier. In the second round she will face Safarova or Dulko, Dulko is currently absolutely out of form and Safarova is still very inconsistent although at the moment, the Czech is more lossing than winning. Could face Na Li in the third round.

13. Shahar Peer (ISR)
Always a tricky and dangerous player with a great backhand. Will face Olga Govortsova in the first round and if she wins she will have a pleasure to play a qualifier in round two. Peer won't probably be pleased to play Dementieva in the third round though.

14. Aravane Rezai (FRA)
As was said, even for struggling Rezai, it shouldn't be a problem to get into the third round as "only qualifiers" stand in her way to play Jankovic who is currently injured. Rezai is also known for her inconsistency but you never know when this Frenchwoman can shine again.

15. Nadia Petrova (RUS)
Home wildcard Christina McHale shouldn't be a problem for this experienced 28-year-old Russian. She hasn't got a bad second round opponent as well, qualifier or Spanish Parra Santonja. Can she even repeat demolition of Kim Clijsters from this year's Australian Open? If yes, she could go far, she proved many times she knows how to go deep in the tournaments.

16. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Bartoli has been impressive in Stanford, even was close to beat eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals. She hasn't got a bad draw, facing Medina Garrigues in the first round and possibly Cibulkova in the second round. Experienced Wozniacki could beat her though, it will depend on how Bartoli's aggressive game will work.

Unseeded players to watch:
Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Whole tennis world is expecting the day when Ana Ivanovic, former world number one and Roland Garros 2008 winner, will find her way back to the top. She has been struggling with her form for a really long time but she always has to be considered a dangerous player because she's one of the best players when her game works. Unfortunately for her fans, her game hasn't been good enough this year which led to many first round exits. She plays Stanford champion Victoria Azarenka in the first round and this is one of the toughest first round opponents possible.

Dinara Safina (RUS)
Maybe I'm too naive but there's another woman who is struggling to find her way back to the top. Former world number one, multiple Grand Slam finalist coming from a back injury can't find her old game to win tournaments again, to even start winning matches again. And her first round opponent Roberta Vinci of Italy won't help her in it as she doesn't give her opponents much of rhythm. Even if Safina wins, she will have to face Kim Clijsters in the second round.

Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Finally coming back on tour. One of the biggest young hopes and upcoming stars. Struggled all 2010 season with injuries and finally coming back injury free as she said. Her comeback was scheduled to happen in Portoroz but Lisicki still felt some pain and said she has to postpone her comeback. Finally it's here and finally this girl with aggressive game and huge strokes is ready to compete. She hasn't played a match since Miami and I think all tennis fans are curious to see how she will do. She couldn't ask for a better R1 match, she will play a qualifier. Second round will be tough as Lisicki will probably face Italian Flavia Pennetta. Unseeded players can't expect an easy draw!

Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Still a possible San Diego finalist this year, will play Agnieszka Radwanska tonight for a final spot and a match against Svetlana Kuznetsova for the title. Hantuchova will face last week's Istanbul winner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, young Russian star, former junior number one. Her second round opponent wouldn't be any easier, another Russian, Elena Dementieva, seeded player number three. Hantuchova proved many times she can win big matches and even big tournaments, can she shine again?

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Fresh Istanbul winner, after defeating her compatriot Elena Vesnina in the final. Will face Hantuchova in the first round and we're looking for a good and competitive match. This young woman can surprise by a big run but also won't probably disappoint by R1 exit as she got one of the toughest and most experienced opponents.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Another unseeded Russian in the main draw, facing her compatriot Maria Sharapova in the first round in the most entertaining first round encounter for sure. Kuznetsova reached the San Diego final earlier today after beating Flavia Pennetta so no doubts she has finally found some form after not having a really good first half of the season. The same story as for Maria Sharapova, can go far if wins her first round match.

First round matches to watch:
Azarenka vs. Ivanovic
Although Azarenka is considered a favourite easily, she has her right shoulder injured but we don't know how serious it's, could be only preventive to pull out of San Diego. Ivanovic still struggling to find her big game. Could be an interesting match I think because Ivanovic has already beaten Azarenka in Rome this year although Azarenka was injured.

Hantuchova vs. Pavlyuchenkova
The Slovak can be inconsistent, even sets-wise in one match and Pavlyuchenkova showed some nice play in Istanbul. Could be a nice match full of big winners from both sides. Definitely will be interesting for fans and Dementieva to watch who will pull off a win from this encounter.

Kuznetsova vs. Sharapova
Finally the biggest and most awaited match of the first round in Cincinnati. Russian fight. Fresh San Diego finalist Kuznetsova on one side and fresh Stanford finalist Sharapova on the other side. You can't know what to expect from this match, both players can play bad or good. You never know, especially with Kuznetsova lately. I think the winner can go really far in the tournament.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Will we see top tennis in Cincinnati next week?

Western & Southern Financial Group Womens Open lacks top players. It looks like this Premier 5 category tournament with total Prize Money of $2,000,000 doesn't even look like a Premier 5 event. After earlier withdrawl of the world number one, Serena Williams, who is undergoing a foot surgery and will hardly play before the US Open, her elder sister, world #4 Venus Williams, was forced to withdraw as well. A left knee injury has been bothering Venus Williams since the Championships where she lost to a surprising semifinalist, Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, not only Williams sisters will miss this year's Cincinnati tournament. Today, the unofficial news (on twitter) said that the Australian number one Samantha Stosur withdrew as well and as you can see, it's now official, she's not in the main draw. Another player who was doubtful to compete next week is world #2 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, who suffers from ankle injury. Jankovic got injured in Portoroz during her match against Yakimova and felt pain again in the second round match against Alisa Kleybanova in San Diego on Wednesday. She will still compete as the highest seed and it's not a bad draw for her as she will meet two qualifiers in her next two matches and has a BYE in the first round as a top seed.

Another big name missing in the field is world #14 Justine Henin, former world number one and a multiple Grand Slam winner. Henin, the same as V.Williams, hasn't played any match since Wimbledon and is still injured and even doubtful for the last Grand Slam of the season.

Will we see top tennis next week as this is one of the biggest tournament? We will find out next week.

Stay tuned!