Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Best Australian Open semis and final – Rusedski

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By Greg Rusedski

Again, in the men’s draw it turned out to be all about the top four in the world. In the semi-finals it was Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic versus Andy Murray. Could Federer finally beat Nadal in a major again? The last time he beat Nadal at a major was 2007 in the Wimbledon final. Nadal leads Federer in their Grand Slam matches 7 wins to 2 losses.

Federer started like a house on fire to win the first set, but Nadal wasn’t worried. He knew he could not lose to Federer in a major because he knew that physically he would wear him down. When that happens Federer loses his concentration ever so fractionally and that is when Rafa pounces and turns the match in his favor. The strategy against Federer is simple for Nadal. Nadal’s left handed high heavy topspin forehand moves Federer all over the court and breaks down Federer’s backhand side. Physically, Federer cannot keep up with Nadal in a three out of five set match anymore. Federer has to beat Nadal in three sets, which is nearly impossible. Also on his serve Rafa can start the point on his terms because Federer cannot really attack his serve with the one-handed backhand.

Rafa won in 4 tight sets and this really hurt Roger because he felt that he was playing well enough to win and that Rafa had to have been a bit tired after his epic four hour win against Berdych in the previous round.

At the moment I do not think Roger will win another major because Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray are all five years younger and stronger which makes a huge difference physically in major play. I hope I am wrong because he is such a great champion.

No longer No. 1, Wozniacki can start taking risks

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Finally, the most worn-out debate in women’s tennis can stop after Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki’s defeat in the Australian Open quarter-finals by Kim Clijsters means she will no longer be No.1 in the rankings.

Ever since she first topped the rankings in October 2010, Wozniacki’s lack of a grand slam title has prompted questions about her suitability for the lofty position. Even this week former great Martina Navratilova said Wozniacki’s status was more to do with the limitations of the ranking system which rewards her grinding consistency rather than results at grand slams.

Technology, Lendl and expectations at the Australian Open

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By Greg Rusedski

The big Australian hope for the woman’s title Sam Stosur, the U.S. Open champion, went out in the first round which wasn’t a huge surprise. She said in all her press conferences before the event about how she wasn’t dealing with the pressure and home expectations. In my experience, even if a player is feeling that way they shouldn’t bring it up at a press conference as it could potentially give the opponent an extra belief. Sam will learn from this and hopefully get stronger for it.

On the men’s side, Australia’s big hope Bernard Tomic played well and is the real deal. He loves playing with the Australian pressure and expectation. Unfortunately for Tomic in the fourth round he came up against the great Roger Federer. It was another entertaining match from Tomic but Federer was just too good. Tomic is an exciting player to watch because of the variety in his game. He can hit any shot and mixes the pace of the ball all the time. He is a great thinker on the court and is a natural born winner. At only 19 years of age he should be in the top 10 very soon if he keeps working.

Roddick leads movement for ATP change

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By Martyn Herman 

Andy Roddick on Friday insisted that tennis players must adopt “one voice” to push through changes to the ATP Tour but that may not be as easy as it seems despite the general feeling of solidarity.

Pity Brad Drewett, the new chief executive of the men’s Tour, who has the job of trying to keep everyone happy, grand slam champions, journeymen, tournament organisers, sponsors and TV.

Rusedski reflects on Federer’s form and the Australian Open

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The crowd at the Hisense Arena is reflected on the sunglasses of a spectator during the match between Maria Sharapova of Russia and Julia Goerges of Germany at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2011.           REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

I always enjoy the Australian Open because the matches never fail to be interesting and we never quite know the form of the players due to the few preparation tournaments. Going into the event there was a big question mark over how Rafael Nadal was feeling after having a virus in the first week of the year in Doha. Could he make history and hold all four slams at the same time? The only men to do so in the history of tennis are Don Budge and Rod Laver.

The best five men going into the tournament were all playing really well. Roger Federer was going in to the tournament having won Doha. New world number 4, Robin Soderling won Brisbane, while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both went undefeated at the Hopman Cup.

from Photographers' Blog:

My first Australian Open

Photographer Yuriko Nakao stands on centre court at the Australian open in Melbourne.

When I was first told that I would be covering the Australian Open tennis tournament, I was very excited as it is a major global sporting event and I would get to fly out from Japan where it was cold, to a hot and sunny down under.

At the same time, frankly speaking, I had a feeling of fear and worry, since I had heard scary tales about shooting the event from a photographer who had covered it multiple times. Dreadful stories of heat, the scorching sun, cameras getting too hot to function and sometimes so hot that I wouldn’t even be able to touch it. I was told that one photographer’s computer had broken because of the extreme heat, and that sometimes the photographers’ chairs at the courtside got so hot that it was unbearable.

Nadal fails to pull off the Rafa slam

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TENNIS-OPEN/Rafa Nadal was stunned 6-4 6-2 6-3 by fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, ending his quest for a non-calendar grand slam.

A leg injury contributed to the defeat but maybe the task of holding all four majors at once is almost impossible these days, despite Nadal and Roger Federer’s dominance.

Schiavone shows final set tiebreaks are for wimps

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TENNIS-OPEN/Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova rescued the
women’s singles at the Australian Open from anonymity on Sunday
when they contested a four hour 44 minute epic that contrasted sharply with some of the dross served up by their rivals.

The third set alone lasted three hours as Italian Schiavone, a breath of fresh air for women’s tennis at the ripe old age of 30, edged a fourth round thriller 4-6 6-1 16-14.

Nadal hopes his numbers add up as he chases Rafa Slam

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TENNIS-OPEN/Fourteen days, seven matches, 21 winning sets and at least 126 winning games – that is all that is separating Rafael Nadal from pulling off the “Rafa Slam”.

It all looks simple enough in numbers but reality is that, and as many calculator-bashing accountants will acknowledge, it takes a lot of work to make sure all the numbers add up correctly.

from India Insight:

The Indian Express chugs in again

It was a victory long overdue and the reunion was perhaps destined to happen in no other tournament but the Chennai Open.

As India's star tennis pair -- Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes -- clinched their fifth Chennai Open doubles crown in 2011, there was more than one reason to celebrate.

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