Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

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.

It is hardly Wozniacki’s fault that she found herself as No.1 for virtually all of the past year, after all she does not make the rules, but falling off her perch might just be a blessing in disguise for the Dane as the focus shifts elsewhere.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, still seeking a first major, could all begin next week as the new No.1 and while Wozniacki confidently predicts that she will regain it soon, she can now concentrate on filling in the glaring gap in her CV without the weekly round of questions over her status.

From the baseline: Tricky shot

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A combination photo shows Roger Federer of Switzerland returning a winning shot between his legs while playing against Brian Dabul of Argentina during their opening night match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Trick shots are nothing new for five-time U.S. Open champ Roger Federer.

With five former champs seeing action on day one, it was a spectacular between the legs shot during the second set of his victory over Argentine baseliner Brian Dabul that will dominate talk around the water cooler this morning.

“I’ve only hit a few in my life and two on center court in night session play here in New York,” Federer told his audience. “It’s amazing to share this moment with you guys. Thanks for the ovation and I love it.”

Henin poised for comeback too, but will she do a Clijsters?

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Former world number one Justine Henin is poised to announce her comeback to professional tennis 16 months after she retired, Belgian media reported on Tuesday.

Henin, 27, will make the announcement on the evening news shows of French-language stations RTBF and RTL in Belgium, a number of newspapers reported.

Think Clijsters is world’s most famous Belgian? Not so fast…

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tintinI was very disappointed to log on to FamousBelgians.net this morning and see nary a mention of Kim Clijsters. How much more famous can a Belgian get?

According to the interweb’s leading authority on all things Flanders and Walloon, the world’s most famous Belgian is, currently, Eddy Merckx, who last raced professionally about 20 years ago.

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.

Serena outburst: was there any excuse?

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TENNIS-OPEN/OK, don’t shoot me down for saying this, but can anyone see Saturday’s double-fault storm at the US Open from Serena Williams’s point of view?

With a place in the U.S. Open final at stake — and with many believing the winner of the Williams-Kim Clijsters showdown would go on to win the title — how frustrating is it to get foot-faulted on a second serve at 4-6 5-6 15-30 down?

Clijsters reminds us what we’ve been missing

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TENNIS-OPEN/

Venus Williams must wish Kim Clijsters had stayed retired and enjoyed a relaxing life as a millionaire mum.

The Belgian returned to grand slam action for the first time in 31 months and has left each and every one of her opponents at the U.S. Open embarrassed.

A tale of two draws at Flushing Meadows

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roddickIt has been a tale of two draws at the U.S. Open, with the men’s seeds advancing full steam ahead and the women’s field in disarray.

Eight of the top 16 women’s seeds have been given the boot at Flushing Meadows, while all 16 men have strolled forward — the first time men’s seeds have marched in lock step into the third round of a grand slam.

Wimbledon roof is great, but pity those left out in the cold…

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As Wimbledon closed its new retractable roof over Centre Court for the first time in a drizzly southwest London on Sunday, the gap between the haves and have-nots grew wider.

Spectators and organisers hailed the new innovation, which will ensure Centre Court ticket holders will never again go away without seeing a match, but the rest of the soggy Wimbledon grounds provided a stark reminder of what it will be like for the majority of players and fans who walk through the All England Club gates next month.

Mum’s the word as Clijsters bids to match Goolagong

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clijstersKim Clijsters’s return to the WTA Tour during the U.S. hardcourt season later this year will inject more excitement into the unpredictable world of women’s tennis.

Since the retirement of her Belgian compatriot Justine Henin last May, the world number one ranking has changed hands so many times that most fans must be thinking they are suffering from blurred vision.

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