Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

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.

This loss is unlikely to affect the Spaniard greatly going forward. The way he bounced back from adversity last year was remarkable and Federer will know the battle is only just beginning.

Nadal was in tears and had his head in his hands at one point, the pain of the injury and the weight of expectation just proving too much.

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.

Can Federer complete a calendar slam?

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Received wisdom heading into the Australian Open was that the combined effects of fatherhood and a record-breaking number of grand slams would reduce Roger Federer’s hunger for success to the point where mere mortals on the tour need fear him no longer.

Instead, the message remains: Beware of the GOAT.

The possibility no one seems to have considered is that the Wimbledon title that saw him overtake Pete Sampras as the most successful player in grand slams, coupled with the certain knowledge he now possesses that there are far more important things in life than tennis, might take every ounce of pressure off his shoulders and make him a more formidable opponent still.

Justine Time, Henin makes one of the great grand slam returns

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TENNIS-OPEN/Justine Henin’s storming run to the final of the Australian Open illustrates exactly what women’s tennis has been missing in her absence.

The Belgian played just one tournament in the run-up to the Melbourne grand slam following an 18-month “retirement” but it looks as though she has never been away.

Can Murray end Britain’s 74-year wait?

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TENNIS-OPEN/Is there a more notorious and oft-bemoaned sporting drought than Britain ’s long – and very far from tantalising – wait for a men’s grand slam tennis champion?

In the week the New Orleans Saints finally threatened to shed their unofficial moniker of The Aints because of their lack of Super Bowl success, Andy Murray is doing his level best to get the biggest monkey in world tennis off his back.

Triumphant Clijsters even surprises herself

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It was not part of Kim Clijsters’s grand plan, and that made her U.S. Open victory feel surreal to the Belgian.

“I can’t believe this happened,” the 26-year-old Clijsters told reporters following her grand slam triumph on Sunday after taking more than two years off to start a family.

From the sublime to the ridiculous at Wimbledon

The trouble with a match as riveting as Andy Murray’s against Stanislas Wawrinka is that it’s very hard to find something good enough to follow it … and women’s quarter-final day at Wimbledon was singularly unable to do so.

venusFrom the sublime tennis provided by the British number one and the Swiss number two in an historic match under the new Centre Court roof, we went to a 6-1 6-2 victory for Venus Williams over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska that was ridiculously easy.

No rain at Wimbledon but skating aplenty

wimbledon1Leading up to this year’s Wimbledon all the talk has been about the new roof on Centre Court and the blessed reality that rain-filled days would no longer scupper everyone’s plans to watch some tennis.

Yet no one bargained for ice.

Just ask Novak Djokovic and Julien Benneteau, who provided the Centre Court crowd with thrills aplenty as both suffered some horrific looking falls on the increasingly slidey surface.

Can Wimbledon cope without Nadal?

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When Roger Federer shows up at Wimbledon next week without Rafael Nadal looking down at him  from the top of the draw, it will almost feel like Laurel turned up without Hardy or Starsky without Hutch.

In an era when the Federer-Nadal showdowns are starting to become tales of Hollywood blockbusters, the Swiss will have to  go it alone for the first time since the 2006 Australian Open — which the Spaniard missed with a foot injury.

Is Federer now the G.O.A.T?

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We’ve heard what some of the great and good of tennis have said about Roger Federer’s achievements but can we now rank him as the best player ever to have picked up a racket? Here, Ossian Shine considers the arguments, while in the post below Miles Evans urges a spot of caution.

At first it looked as though the world’s tennis pundits were bickering about whether or not Roger Federer was a herbivorous bovid.

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