The Reuters global sports blog
The second week of Wimbledon started with another massive upset. The world number 1 and a lot of people’s pick to win the championship, Maria Sharapova, lost in the fourth round to Sabine Lisicki of Germany in straight sets.
This really opened up the top half of the woman’s draw and meant there would be a new world number 1. Victoria Azarenka the world number 2 or Agnieszka Radwanska the world number 3 would become the new world number 1. It all depended on who went further in the tournament. Radwanska took full advantage of Sharapova losing and made her first Grand Slam final.
On the other side of the draw Serena Williams powered her way through the draw to get back to the finals. In the semi-finals she outclassed Azarenka, which meant Radwanska became the new world number 1 on Monday. Serena beat Radwanska in the finals in three sets but never really looked like losing the match. If Serena played a full schedule, she would be the world number 1. This was not a good thing for woman’s tennis because the new world number 1 will be like all other previous world number 1′s on the woman’s side, who never have won a Grand Slam.
On the men’s side Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga all made the semi-finals. This was the expected line up once Rafael Nadal lost in the second round.
Djokovic will most likely face his first test in the quarter-finals against Richard Gasquet. While Federer’s first test could be Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals as well; expect Djokovic and Federer in the semi-finals this year.
The Monte Carlo Master Series is a good indicator for who is in good clay court form early during the run up to the French Open. Rafael Nadal has won this event the last 7 years in a row, which has never happened before on the ATP Tour.
This year it looked like his streak could come to an end because World Number 1 Novak Djokovic, who missed last year’s event, was in the draw. The only player missing in the top 4 was Roger Federer who needed a little break this week.
The season-ending WTA championships had many story lines. Could Maria Sharapova recover from her ankle injury to threaten at the year-end championships and become world number one again? Would one of the new major winners lift the trophy? Could Caroline Wozniacki continue her reign as world number one for a second straight year and win the end of season championships for the first time?
This is the first time the end of season championships have been held in Istanbul, Turkey. The crowds have been packed all week so it was an excellent choice of city. The stadium looked great and so did the green tennis court with the purple outer court. The tennis throughout was brilliant.
The end of season for the top players can be a tough time because of fatigue; all their work is based around peaking for the slams. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action (neither have played since the last Davis cup tie) the top two seeds were Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray for the Shanghai Masters Series.
Murray has been playing really well having won in Thailand and Tokyo leading into the Shanghai event. Murray has made a concerted effort to play more aggressively, also the courts are faster and so it actually forces him to play more aggressively which is a good thing.
This year’s Wimbledon Championships had a lot of interesting stories. On the men’s side it was all about the top 4 players in the world. On the ladies it was about Sharapova, the Williams sisters, and whether or not any of the young pretenders could win the Championships.
All of the top 4 cruised into the men’s quarter-finals. Only Rafael Nadal was a bit of a worry hurting his foot against Juan Del Potro in the first set. After the match he said he would have to take painkillers for the rest of the tournament and possibly miss the next 6 weeks after Wimbledon finished. This brought hope that possibly Andy Murray could beat Nadal if they both reached the semi-finals which they both did easily. Expectations were reaching fever pitch now with a real belief Murray could make the finals.
The grass court season is finally underway. I love this time of year. We finally get to see some attacking tennis, but still not as much as during my era because the courts and balls are a lot slower.
The Queen’s Club Championships started with one of its best fields in the tournaments history with 15 of the top 20 in the world entered. The only big withdrawal was that of Novak Djokovic, sighting a knee problem, but I am sure he will be fine for Wimbledon. Nadal, the six time French open champion, arrived Monday evening after all his sponsor commitments at Disneyland Paris. He is such a professional; he had a 1 hour 45min intense practice session and entered the doubles event as well to get match practice before his first round match in singles on Wednesday.
This year’s French Open was the best in years. Part of the reason was the new, quicker tennis balls which allowed players to play more aggressively. The women’s event was wide open. There were about 8 possible winners on the women’s side, while on the men’s side it was all about Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Everybody thought they would be in the finals, but don’t write off Roger Federer just yet.
From a British perspective it was all about Andy Murray and he had a dream draw to the semi-finals. He didn’t make it easy by hurting his ankle in the 3rd round but came through to the semi-finals against Nadal.
Greg Rusedski writes exclusively for Reuters thanks to Thomson Reuters’ sponsorship of the Lawn Tennis Association.
The Sony Ericsson Open tournament is considered the fifth major by most of the tennis fraternity. It became a week with many story lines:
There were no real surprises in the Davis Cup result this weekend. It was all about getting the job done and winning and that’s what the boys did. Captain Leon Smith knew before the match that he would definitely win the 2 matches against the Tunisian number 2 and the doubles as well, which would give Team Great Britain the 3 rubbers for victory.
Tunisia got off to a perfect start with the Tunisian number 1, Malek Jaziri beating the British number 2 Jamie Baker in 4 sets. Both men were nervous as you would expect in an opening rubber. Both men also struggled with cramp which is unusual for an indoor match. Cramping can happen from being dehydrated, lack of fitness or nerves. I believe it had to be the latter. Then British number 1, James Ward demolished the Tunisian number 2 in 3 easy sets to level the tie at 1 rubber a piece.