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Clijsters, Davydenko Reign Supreme

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The Battle of the Belgians turned out to be one of the ugliest matches that I have seen in a long time. Sure, Clijsters won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6), but at times both players looked shaky. Clijsters blitzed Henin in the first set; in the second set, however, she crumbled in the second set. After being up two breaks in the second set, Clijsters choked and subsequently allowed Henin to win the set. Sure, the third set was close, but that was only because neither player could hold serve if their life had depended on it. At times, they both had flashes of brilliance, but inconsistency plagued both of their games. This match is being touted as a thriller and it definitely had drama; however, if either of them want to defeat Serena or even Safina for that matter, they need to improve their games, particularly their serves.

In Doha, third seeded Nikolay Davydenko defeated second seeded Rafael Nadal 0-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. Davydenko, who also defeated top ranked Roger Federer in Doha, simply upped his game in the second set, after Nadal had looked unbeatable during the first set. During the first set, Nadal played aggressively and was able to easily take control of the rallies, but when Davydenko was able to pressure him in the second, Nadal’s lack of confidence became quite apparent. The Spaniard, who hasn’t won an ATP tournament in roughly eight months, played defensively and he reverted back to his classic clay court style of play when Davydenko began to play at a higher level. Davydenko is arguably playing the best of anyone on tour, but with the Australian Open quickly approaching, the Russian downplayed his chances. He told the AFP “For three sets it’s really interesting. There it will be five sets. It’s different conditions – here it’s 18 degrees, cold and there it can be 30 degrees. It ought to be the same but when you get there it always feels different. But I have confidence, so we will see.”

In other news, Spain (who seem to be the champions of team tennis competitions) defeated Great Britain in the Hopman Cup final. Playing for Spain was Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and it was Robredo that came up with the vital point when he upset Britain’s Andy Murray 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. Britain’s Laura Robson, however, had an upset of her own when she defeated the 26th ranked Sanchez 6-1, 7-6(6). The championship, therefore, went to the final match, in which Robredo and Sanchez were able to team up to defeat Murray and Robson 7-6(6), 6-5.

Highlights:

Clijsters v. Henin

Nadal v. Davydenko

Hopman Cup

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Tennis Updates: Belgian Battle, Federer ousted

In Brisbane, the final that we had so eagerly anticipated has become reality. Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters will face each other after Henin ousted Ana Ivanovic and Clijsters defeated Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals. Henin told the Brisbane International that “it’s a great feeling” to be in the final of her first event since coming back from retirement. After her semifinal match, Clijsters spoke about her long-time rivalry with Henin, saying that “We grew up playing juniors together and I think we always made each other better players.” Henin leads their head-to-head record 12-10.

In Doha, there was a big upset, as third seeded Nikolay Davydenko defeated top seed Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4. Davydenko winning the match was not as surprising as was the way he did it. He had previously beaten Federer just months ago at the ATP World Finals, but in this match, he took a 3-0 double break lead right from the start. For much of the match, the Russian played beautifully and Federer could only watch, as he was unable to match his play. Davydenko told the ATP World Tour “I have a different type of confidence [against Federer] now than before when I lost every match to him. After beating him once it makes it mentally different. If I beat him once, I say I can beat him twice. Now I come ready, fighting, with a chance to win. Not just a chance, but I really can win.” Davydenko’s opponent will be second seeded Rafael Nadal, who defeated Viktor Troicki in the semifinals 6-1, 6-3. Nadal has looked strong throughout this tournament, but he has yet to play any of the top players, as the highest ranked player he faced was Troicki who is ranked 29th in the world. Overall, Davydenko and Nadal have a 4-4 head-to-head record.

Highlights of Nadal v. Troicki and Federer v. Davydenko, as well as a preview of the final:

Federer Survives, Nadal Cruises in Doha

Latvian Ernests Gulbis is as streaky as they come and unfortunately for the top ranked Roger Federer, Gulbis was on his game when they played each other earlier today. Gulbis had 13 aces and was able to take a set off of Federer, who eventually won the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Federer cruised through the first set in just over 30 minutes, but Gulbis’ good play in the second set, combined with a slew of unforced errors from Federer allowed the Latvian to win the set. It was Federer, however, that was able to find his form again in the third and advance to the semifinals, where he will face the third seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who defeated Ivo Karlovic in the quarters 7-6(4), 7-6(7).

Unlike Federer, second ranked Rafael Nadal easily won his quarterfinal match, as his opponent Steve Darcis retired with Nadal leading 6-1, 2-0. Darcis was reportedly suffering from a back injury. In the semifinals, Nadal will face Serbian Viktor Troicki, who defeated Lukasz Kubot in his quarterfinal match 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1). Nadal has yet to drop a set and is looking to be in fine form as the Australian Open approaches.

In other news, Justine Henin defeated Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final of the Brisbane International. She will potentially play her countrywoman Kim Clijsters, who is currently up a break (2-1) in the first set of her semifinal match against Andrea Petkovic.

Here are the highlights of those matches:

Federer v. Gulbis

Nadal v. Darcis

Henin v. Ivanovic

1/7-Take A Peek

Photo by flash.pro

All times in EST:

4:00am: ATP/WTA Brisbane Quarterfinals (1) Kim Clijsters v. Lucie Safarova

(following Clijsters match is James Blake v. (3) Gael Monfils)

7:00am: ATP Chennai Second Round Robby Ginepri v. Lukas Lacko

(following Ginepri match is (3) Stanislas Wawrinka v. Michael Russell)

7:30am: ATP Doha Quarterfinals (5) Viktor Troicki v. Lukasz Kubot

(following Troicki match is (Q) Steve Darcis v. (2) Rafael Nadal, (1) Roger Federer v. Ernests Gulbis, and (3) Nikolay Davydenko v. (7) Ivo Karlovic)

7:00pm: NHL Chicago Blackhawks (1st in Central) @ Boston Bruins (2nd in Northeast)

8:00pm: CITI BCS National Championship Game (1) Alabama Crimson Tide v. (2) Texas Longhorns

10:00pm: NHL Phoenix Coyotes (2nd in Pacific) @ Vancouver Canucks (1st in Northwest)

Kim Clijsters Relentless in Brisbane, Defeats Garbin 6-2,6-1

Kim Clijsters may have completed her comeback at the US Open, but she isn’t looking to slow down anytime soon. Clijsters was dominant throughout the match and she seemed to do better as the match progressed, as she won 10 of the final 11 games. Her opponent, Tathiana Garbin, who was the oldest woman in the tournament, was not able to stop Clijsters who though she won convincingly wasn’t playing at her best. Her backhand, in particular, was not on point and at times she sprayed several shots as a result.

Clijsters told the Brisbane Times “There’s a few details that can always get better. But it’s just a nice feeling to be out there. I felt like my groundstrokes were going good, I felt like I was really on top of my baseline [game], really changing up the direction of the rallies.”

Clijsters will next face the winner of the Alicia Molik-Ekaterina Makarova first round match.

KIm Clijsters to Come out of Retirement, Plans to Play in the US Open

KimClijsters1 by Mercurier.Clijsters, who was formerly ranked number one in the world, retired in 2007 to get married and start a family. She plans to play in Cincinnati, Toronto, and the US Open.

On Thursday, Clijsters said that “I still have that craving. I look forward to the challenge. I want to be back at my peak as soon as possible, but I know that is not logical to ask that. I will have to take it match by match.”

Clijsters will play in a series of exhibition matches, along with Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Tim Henman, at Wimbledon in May under the new retractable roof on Centre Court.

(Photo by Stijn Audooren)

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