Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Gonna Be Wild Y'all

by Savannah

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Just in case you thought the 2011 WTA season was going to be more of the same China's Li Na
let it be known that it ain't. Li served notice - literally - to a befuddled and in the end frustrated Kim Clijsters that it was not going to be business as usual.
The match started at 3:30 in the morning Eastern United States time and I woke up at 4:30a. I almost went back to sleep thinking that Clijsters had been able to get away with her usual rapid fire pace and that the match was over. Thank goodness the tennishead in me prevailed. I logged in just in time to see Li win a first set tie break 7-3, a first set that she'd been behind in by a score of 0-5. The commentators said that Li had been down 15-30 in the sixth game when she got her act together and won the next six games. Clijsters managed to force a tiebreak but once again Li wasn't following the script.
Li refused to let Clijsters back in. She took the ball early and hit groundies this observer hadn't seen her do before. Her coach and husband made only one trip to counsel his wife that I saw. Even when Li got tight in the second set he stayed in his seat leaving her to work it out.
Meanwhile there was nothing coming from Clijsters. I've said here before that Clijsters is merely an older, more experienced version of Caroline Wozniacki. Li was having her push forehands for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When forced to play Clijsters lack of footwork and variety was exposed leaving her extremely frustrated.
In the end the only question was whether Li would suffer brain freeze and lose. She didn't. It was an extremely interesting final leading to the beginning of the Australian Open where Clijsters is seeded third. Very interesting indeed.
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Iveta Benesova (left) and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova pose with their trophies after winning the women's doubles event at Sydney.

The 2011 Australian Open WTA Draw

Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Gisela Dulko ARG
Tamira Paszek AUT v Vania King USA
Lucie Hradecka CZE v Alberta Brianti ITA
Angelique Kerber GER v Dominika Cibulkova SVK (29)

Yanina Wickmayer BEL (21) v Jarmila Groth AUS
Polona Hercog SLO Anastasija Sevastova LAT
Qualifier v Laura Pous-Tio ESP
Tathiana Garbin ITA v Marion Bartoli FRA (15)

Justine Henin BEL (11) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Elena Baltacha GBR
Bethanie Mattek-Sands USA v Qualifier
Alison Riske USA v Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (23)

Tsvetana Pironkova BUL (32) v Pauline Parmentier FRA
Timea Bacsinszky SUI v Monica Niculescu ROU
Rebecca Marino CAN v Junri Namigata JPN
Arantxa Parra Santonja ESP v Francesca Schiavone ITA (6)


Venus Williams USA (4) v Sara Errani ITA
Sandra Zahlavova CZE v Renata Voracova CZE
Qualifier v Qualifier
Jill Craybas USA v Andrea Petkovic GER (30)

Kaia Kanepi EST (20) v Magdalena Rybarikova SVK
Julia Goerges GER v Edina Gallovits - Hall ROU
Elena Vesnina RUS v Virginie Razzano FRA
Tamarine Tanasugarn THA v Maria Sharapova RUS (14)

Na Li CHN (9) v Sofia Arvidsson SWE
Evgeniya Rodina RUS v Olivia Rogowska AUS
Zuzana Ondraskova CZE v Jelena Dokic AUS
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE v Aravane Rezai FRA (17)

Daniela Hantuchova SVK (28) v Regina Kulikova RUS
Karolina Sprem CRO v Chanelle Scheepers RSA
Patricia Mayr-Achleitner AUT v Andrea Hlavackova CZE
Qualifier v Victoria Azarenka BLR (8)


Jelena Jankovic SRB (7) v Alla Kudryavtseva RUS
Kateryna Bondarenko UKR v Shuai Peng CHN
Caroline Garcia FRAv Varvara Lepchenko USA
Ayumi Morita JPN v Alexandra Dulgheru ROU (27)

Alisa Kleybanova RUS (24) v Qualifier
Qualifier v Simona Halep ROU
Sophie Ferguson AUS v Qualifier
Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN v Agnieszka Radwanska POL (12)

Nadia Petrova RUS (13) v Ksenia Pervak RUS
Alicia Molik AUS v Roberta Vinci ITA
Patty Schnyder SUI v Qualifier
Ekaterina Makarova RUS v Ana Ivanovic SRB (19)

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP (26) v Greta Arn HUN
Qualifier v Alize Cornet FRA
Christina McHale USA v Carla Suarez Navarro ESP
Dinara Safina RUS v Kim Clijsters BEL (3)


Samantha Stosur AUS (5) v Lauren Davis USA
Maria Elena Camerin ITA v Vera Dushevina RUS
Olga Govortsova BLR v Anna Chakvetadze RUS
Sally Peers AUS v Petra Kvitova CZE (25)

Flavia Pennetta ITA (22) v Anastasia Rodionova AUS
Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP v Johanna Larsson SWE
Sorana Cirstea ROU v jana Lucic CRO
Mathilde Johansson FRA v Shahar Peer ISR (10)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (16) v Kirsten Flipkens BEL
Akgul Amanmuradova UZB v Kristina Barrois GER
Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP v Iveta Benesova CZE
Romina Oprandi ITA v Maria Kirilenko RUS (18)

Lucie Safarova CZE (31) v Shuai Zhang CHN
Klara Zakopalova CZE v Melanie Oudin USA
Bojana Jovanovski SRB v Kai-Chen Chang TPE
Sybille Bammer AUT v Vera Zvonareva RUS (2)

Serena Williams is not playing. Venus Williams, as I've said before, seems to be allergic to Melbourne. Kim Clijsters, who played a grueling semi final match against Alisa Kleybanova in Sydney, a match she won only to turn around and lose to Li Na in the final, is not a sure bet here. Does she need a non US Open win? Yes. Will she get it? Maybe. There are a lot of women who can do a lot of damage here. During the Draw Show, one of the worst television broadcasts I have ever seen in my life by the the way, Alicia Molik said people should watch out for Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Bethanie is in the final at Hobart where she will play Jarmila Groth, another woman who has seemingly discovered her game. Was Alicia delusional? I don't think so.
I don't like to do predictions but I will say upfront that top seed Caroline Wozniacki is not going to make the Final unless she's been playing possum coming into Melbourne. She was shellacked in Hong Kong by Vera Zvonareva and sent packing in the first round at Sydney by Dominika Cibulkova. Remember Wozniacki said that it's not important for her to win a Slam, something I still find ridiculous for a number one to say.
What about Justine Henin? What about Maria Sharapova? What about them? Both are said to be coming off of injuries entering Melbourne. Both have played like they're coming back from injuries. Whoever wins this thing is going to come out of the blue so to speak and no amount of cheerleading will make it any different.

The 2011 Australian Open ATP Draw

Rafael Nadal ESP (1) v Marcos Daniel BRA
Qualifier v Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
Bernard Tomic AUS v Jeremy Chardy FRA
Alejandro Falla COL v Feliciano Lopez ESP (31)

John Isner USA (20) v Florent Serra FRA
Radek Stepanek CZE v Qualifier
Rui Machado POR v Santiago Giraldo COL
Qualifier v Marin Cilic CRO (15)

Mikhail Youzhny RUS (10) v Marsel Ilhan TUR
Qualifier v Kevin Anderson RSA
Qualifier v Bjorn Phau GER
Juan Ignacio Chela ARG v Michael Llodra FRA (22)

David Nalbandian ARG (27) v Lleyton Hewitt AUS
Richard Berankis LTU v Marinko Matosevic AUS
Michael Russell USA v Matthew Ebden AUS
Jarkko Nieminen FIN v David Ferrer ESP (7)


Robin Soderling SWE (4) v Potito Starace ITA
Qualifier v Qualifier
Denis Istomin UZB v Qualifier
Ricardo Mello BRA v Thomaz Bellucci BRA (30)

Ernests Gulbis LAT (24) v Benjamin Becker GER
Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR v Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ
Andreas Seppi ITA v Arnaud Clement FRA
Philipp Petzschner GER v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (13)

Jurgen Melzer AUT (11) v Qualifier
Carsten Ball AUS v Pere Riba ESP
Dudi Sela ISR v Juan Martin Del Potro ARG
Qualifier v Marcos Baghdatis CYP (21)

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP (32) v Michael Berrer GER
Eduardo Schwank ARG v Leonardo Mayer ARG
Illya Marchenko UKR v Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP
Karol Beck SVK v Andy Murray GBR (5)


Tomas Berdych CZE (6) v Qualifier
Philipp Kohlschreiber GER v Tobias Kamke GER
Ryan Harrison USA v Adrian Mannarino FRA
Qualifier v Richard Gasquet FRA (28)

Nikolay Davydenko RUS (23) v Florian Mayer GER
Fabio Fognini ITA v Kei Nishikori JPN
Mischa Zverev GER v Janko Tipsarevic SRB
Rainer Schuettler GER v Fernando Verdasco ESP (9)

Nicolas Almagro ESP (14) v Qualifier
Igor Andreev RUS v Filippo Volandri ITA
Qualifier v Benoit Paire FRA
Peter Luczak AUS v Ivan Ljubicic CRO (17)

Viktor Troicki SRB (29) v Dmitry Tursunov RUS
Brian Dabul ARG v Qualifier
Ivo Karlovic CRO v Ivan Dodig CRO
Marcel Granollers ESP v Novak Djokovic SRB (3)


Andy Roddick USA (8) v Jan Hajek CZE
Michal Przysiezny POL v Igor Kunitsyn RUS
Carlos Berlocq ARG v Robin Haase NED
Julien Benneteau FRA v Juan Monaco ARG (26)

Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (19) v Teymuraz Gabashvili RUS
Qualifier v Andrey Golubev KAZ
Frederico Gil POR v Pablo Cuevas URU
Thiemo de Bakker NED v Gael Monfils FRA (12)

Mardy Fish USA (16) v Victor Hanescu ROU
Tommy Robredo ESP v Somdev Devvarman IND
Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Daniel Brands GER
Lukasz Kubot POL v Sam Querrey USA (18)

Albert Montanes ESP (25) v Dustin Brown GER
Pablo Andujar ESP v Xavier Malisse BEL
Yen-Hsun Lu TPE v Gilles Simon FRA
Lukas Lacko SVK v Roger Federer SUI (2)

What is there to say? The American men, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey are joined by Novak Djokovic, Stanislas Wawrinka, Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych in the bottom half of the draw. Will Gael Monfils be able to hold it together? Will Berdych show his Wimbledon run wasn't a fluke? What about Djokovic? Nikolay Davydenko is also in the bottom half of the draw.

As for the top half of the draw Andy Murray and Robin Soderling are there along with Juan Martin del Potro and David Nalbandian.

I have no problems with how either draw is set up. Have some been kissed by the Gods of the Draw? Yes, but there are nice little traps set for everyone and that is how a draw should be.

End Note

The WTA Final at Hobart and the ATP Final at Auckland will be played later today. I don't usually split showing the winners but I've made an exception due to the surprise win of Li Na, something deserving it's own focus, and the release of the Australian Open Singles draws yesterday. I'll feature the winners of those events as usual.

4 comments:

TennisAce said...

Savannah, I would expect you of all people to stop drinking the injury kool aid that the media is singing about Sharapova. She has been 'injured' since 2006 Miami. Yes, 2006. During that time she has won 2 majors. 2. It is said that she injured her shoulder playing Miami 2006. It was not properly diagnosed until her shellacking by Serena Williams at the AO in 2007.

Without surgery she won the AO in 2008 and was supposed to dominate the Tour that year. That did not happen.

It is now 2011. She has not made it past the first week of a major in over 2 years. It is not an injured shoulder that has kept her from doing that. It is the yips. Pure and simple. She has to get over that mental hurdle of her serving abandoning her at key moments. Until then ...

Savannah said...

And TennisAce I thought that you of all people would pick up on how I phrased the injury thing about Sharapova. I said that she "is said" to be coming back from injury along with Justine Henin. ;)

If you get a chance watch the Li Na/Clijsters match from last night. Tennis Channel is replaying it.

Wayne said...

The Li V Clijsters final was one of the ugliest matches I have ever seen. Kim was only up in the first set because Li was playing worse than her and I don't think the level improved much in the second. I'm a massive fan of Kim but it's matches like this that have me really worried about her ever being a favourite for a grand slam.

As for the Aussie Open, my early tip is Vera. Yes she lost 1st round in Sydney but I saw her practice session and she was striking the ball so well. Sveta, if she can her head in the game, is also a big chance to do some damage.

TennisAce said...

Hmm, I must have misread the quote Savannah. Mea culpa?. I did watch the Li v. Clijsters match and I was so happy especially because of the commentary in the booth. When I hear Moraiu talking about Clijsters being mentally tough I have to shake my head and wonder if this is the same player that I have seen play for most of her career.

I am very glad that Li has lived up to her potential and does not only bring it against the Williams Sisters. Serena has spoken very highly about Li's game and about how dangerous an opponent she is so I am not surprised that she is finally doing what we all knew she can do.