Friday, January 17, 2014

Caroline Wozniacki confident of clinching first Grand Slam crown at Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki
Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki is reportedly confident of winning her first Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open after a successful second round win over unseeded American Christina McHale.
The tenth-seeded Dane, who is engaged to golf star Rory McIlroy, on Thursday overcame a second set meltdown in intense heat to beat McHale 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 and make the third round, where she will play against Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
According to Sport24, Wozniacki is confident of a good run at Melbourne Park, although she said that she is taking one match at a time.
The Dane, who ended 2010 and 2011 as world number one, has made just one Grand Slam final so far at the 2009 US Open, and her title credentials will be tested by Muguruza, who is on a hot run of form after winning her first WTA tournament at the Hobart International this month, the report added.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Victoria Azarenka’s plotting to turn the tables on Serena Williams at Australian Open

How do you solve a problem like Serena Williams? In the case of Victoria Azarenka, not easily appears to be the answer.
On Sunday, the Belarusian was once again second best when they met in the final of the Brisbane International, Williams bouncing back from two dropped service games in the second set for a 6-4, 7-5 victory.
It marked a 14th win for the American in the 17 encounters between the top two in the women’s game and, for her part, Azarenka is not ashamed to admit there are times she wishes one of the game’s greatest players had hung up her racket some time ago.
In 2012, Williams defeated Azarenka in a Wimbledon semi-final and then repeated the feat on the same hallowed turf just a few weeks later to deny her rival a shot at Olympic gold.
Also that year, Azarenka had been on the cusp of winning the US Open, serving 5-4 up in the final set only to be undone by Williams, as she was again in the final at Flushing Meadows last year.
So it is not surprising that the 24-year-old says: “Sometimes, it would have been better for my CV if she wasn’t there but, hey, that’s the way it is and I also like her and respect her very much.
“She’s always the one to beat… and it is always good to have someone to look at so that you keep improving and I take it like that.”
Williams, who Azarenka has previously described as “the greatest of all time”, started this year with the seeming invincibility she ended 2013, in which she won 11 tournaments and 78 out of her 82 matches in all.
In Brisbane, she did not drop a set and looks in ominous form for when the Australian Open begins in Melbourne on Monday.
But 2013 proved something of a turning point for Azarenka, too. In Qatar at the start of the year, she defeated Williams for the first time since 2009, a feat she repeated later in the year in Cincinnati in one of the matches of the year before being undone in a tight US Open Final.
Azarenka admits she has relished those encounters.
Tall order: Winter has been spent in Hawaii, LA and Europe, trying to figure out how to create the downfall of Williams (pictured)Tall order: Winter has been spent in Hawaii, LA and Europe, trying to figure out how to create the downfall of Williams (pictured)Asked if Williams brings out the best in her, she admits: “I think so. I always try to play my best but definitely those two matches [in Cincinnati and New York] were special.
“I feel I played good at both but only managed to win in Cincinnati.”
While Williams is confident in Melbourne so too is Azarenka. This year, she is bidding for a hat-trick of Australian Open women’s singles titles, aiming to emulate the feat last achieved by Martina Hingis in her pomp in 1999.
“I have played some of my best tennis there and the people are great,” she says. “It’s one of those events I always enjoy playing.
“Australia is a country I love and always enjoy being there. The whole atmosphere... I just love it so much. And, yes, I have had some great results in the past two years there.”
Last year’s victory was not without problems, in particular her semi-final win over Sloane Stephens when she took a controversial 10-minute medical time-out while 6-1, 5-4 up, citing breathing problems after squandering five match points.
That led to accusations of gamesmanship, while in the final against Li Na she was jeered by many in the crowd but overcame that to win in three sets — 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Looking back at that and the prospect of more boos this time around, Azarenka says: “For me, it is forgotten and I keep the memories of all those other days I have been in Australia with the great people there. And, of course, the memories of the final.”
Winter has been spent in Hawaii, Los Angeles and Europe, plotting how to more consistently create Williams’s on-court downfall. Such were the sacrifices in that quest, Christmas Day even became secondary to tennis.
“This year I was on a plane the whole of Christmas Day so there wasn’t really a celebration,” she says.
The main focus, by her own admission, over the season break has been on her “fitness condition to play the game”. She began the year feeling fresh, which was in part down to an unwarranted break last summer when she tumbled out of Wimbledon following a knee injury.
Unsurprisingly, Azarenka would have preferred to not get injured and have less time out of competition but believes the break “went well”.
One wonders what she might have achieved for the rest of 2013 without the injury, how much closer she may have got to Williams at Flushing Meadows, in particular.
“Unfortunately, I got injured at Wimbledon where I thought I was playing great at that point of the season,” she insists. “There’s not much I can do now about 2013 so I am only focusing on 2014 and hoping to improve my record this year.”
She describes last season as an “up and down year” and the quest this time is to have greater consistency and to stay injury free.
Of the opening week of the year so far, she says: “I’m off to a good start. Let’s hope that it continues.”

Roger Federer and Rod Laver trade shots for charity

Two of the greatest ever tennis players, Rod Laver and Roger Federer, traded a few shots for the first time on Wednesday, with the usually unflappable Swiss champion admitting he was nervous.
Australian legend Laver, the only man twice to have won all four grand slam tournaments in a calendar year, surprised 17-time grand slam tournament winner Federer at the charity event in Melbourne.
The 75-year-old took to the Melbourne Park court named in his honour wearing a vest, shorts and tennis shoes.

He briefly traded shots with Federer before the Swiss player took on Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in an exhibition match.

Federer admitted he was nervous about rallying with Laver. "The racquet feels a little heavy right now, I must say," he said.
The 32-year-old Swiss famously showed his deep respect for the Australian when he burst into tears after winning the 2006 Australian Open, with Laver watching on the winner's dais.
Wednesday's exhibition match at the Rod Laver Arena was organised by Federer to raise money for his foundation, which supports education for underprivileged children in southern Africa.
Federer won the exhibition match with Tsonga 6-7(5-7), 6-3, 7-5. He came from a break down in the final set, although had to serve twice for the match to clinch it, indicating there were some nerves despite the clash, part of a charity fundraiser, being played in a casual atmosphere.
Federer's win will give the 32-year-old winner of 17 grand slam titles a confidence boost ahead of his Australian Open campaign.
In Federer's most recent previous meeting with Tsonga, the Frenchman downed him in straight sets in the quarter-finals of last year's French Open.
Since then, Federer's streak of 36 straight grand slam quarter-final appearances or better ended with a second round exit at Wimbledon, followed by a fourth-round loss at the US Open.
Federer, the current world No.6, also slipped out of the top five for the first time in more than a decade.
He has since hired a new coach, Swede Stefan Edberg, and is using a new, bigger racquet to try to revive his late-career fortunes.
Federer's clash with Tsonga was his only match this week - as he prepares for the Open starting on Monday - after losing the Brisbane International final to Australia's Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday.
Tsonga was fresh from helping France win the Hopman Cup in Perth.
The event, also included appearances by Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Tony Roche.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The world's top two players - Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams - head the seedings at the Australian Open which begins in Melbourne next Monday.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is seeded two followed by David Ferrer, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer.
On the women's side, defending champion Victoria Azarenka is No 2, ahewad of Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in sixth.
Of the top 32 in the world rankings only world No 13 Nicolas Almagro and 29th-ranked Jurgen Melzer are missing - both with shoulder injuries - while Maria Kirilenko, ranked 18th in the women's section, is out with a knee injury.
Men's seedings:
1 Rafael Nadal (Esp)
2 Novak Djokovic (Ser)
3 David Ferrer (Esp)
4 Andy Murray (GB)
5 Juan Martin del Potro (Arg)
6 Roger Federer (Swi)
7 Tomas Berdych (Cze)
8 Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi)
9 Richard Gasquet (Fra)
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra)
11 Milos Raonic (Can)
12 Tommy Haas (Ger)
13 John Isner (USA)
14 Mikhail Youzhny (Rus)
15 Fabio Fognini (Ita)
16 Kei Nishikori (Jpn)
17 Tommy Robredo (Esp)
18 Gilles Simon (Fra)
19 Kevin Anderson (RSA)
20 Jerzy Janowicz (Pol)
21 Phillipp Kohlschreiber (Ger)
22 Grigor Dimitrov (Bul)
23 Ernests Gulbis (Lat)
24 Andreas Seppi (Ita)
25 Gael Monfils (Fra)
26 Feliciano Lopez (Esp)
27 Benoit Paire (Fra)
28 Vasek Pospisil (Can)
29 Jeremy Chardy (Fra)
30 Dmitry Tursunov (Rus)
31 Fernando Verdasco (Esp)
32 Ivan Dodig (Cro)
Women's seedings:
1 Serena Williams (USA)
2 Victoria Azarenka (Blr)
3 Maria Sharapova (Rus)
4 Li Na (Chi)
5 Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol)
6 Petra Kvitova (Cze)
7 Sara Errani (Ita)
8 Jelena Jankovic (Ser)
9 Angelique Kerber (Ger)
10 Caroline Wozniacki (Den)
11 Simona Halep (Rom)
12 Roberta Vinci (Ita)
13 Sloane Stephens (USA)
14 Ana Ivanovic (Ser)
15 Sabine Lisicki (Ger)
16 Carla Suarez Navarro (Esp)
17 Sam Stosur (Aus)
18 Kirsten Flipkens (Bel)
19 Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus)
20 Dominika Cibulkova (Slv)
21 Sorana Cirstea (Rom)
22 Ekaterina Makarova (Rus)
23 Elena Vesnina (Rus)
24 Kaia Kanepi (Est)
25 Alize Cornet (Fra)
26 Lucie Safarova (Cze)
27 Jamie Hampton (USA)
28 Flavia Pennetta (Ita)
29 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus)
30 Eugenie Bouchard (Can)
31 Daniela Hantuchova (Slv)
32 Magdalena Rybarikova (Slv)

Caroline Wozniacki flaunts £120k engagement ring given to her by Rory McIlroy

Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki showed off the huge diamond engagement ring she received from Co Down golfer Rory Mcllroy on New Year's Eve.She frequently gestured with her left hand giving photographers ample opportunity to get the perfect shot of the sparkling diamond, thought be valued at around £120,000.Speaking to the media on the second day of the Sydney International the former world number one and future MRS Mcllroy was beaming from ear-to-ear.

The 23-year-old, who withdrew from a WTA event in Brisbane last week due to a shoulder injury, was making her sixth appearance at the Sydney tournament as she makes preparations for the Australian Open.
At yesterday's Press conference Carolines cushion cut diamond, thought to be approximately five carats, with a halo of small round brilliant diamonds surrounding it, was offset by a pair of diamond earrings.
Wozniacki has revealed McIlroy sought her parents' blessing before asking the tennis ace to be his wife last week.
"He had asked my parents for permission, like traditional, which was great," she said.
"They were very happy for me, and his parents as well and everyone around us. It's a special moment, a special time in our lives."