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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

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:

1/8- Take a Peek

Photo by flash.pro

All times in EST:

4:00am: ATP/WTA Brisbane Men’s Quarterfinals (1) Andy Roddick v. Richard Gasquet

8:00am: ATP Doha Semifinals (1) Roger Federer v. (3) Nikolay Davydenko

(following Federer match is (2) Rafael Nadal v. Viktor Troicki)

7:00pm: NCAAB (24) Butler (1st Horizon) @ Wright State (T3 Horizon)

8:00pm: NBA Boston Celtics (1st in Atlantic) @ Atlanta Hawks (2nd in Southeast)

10:00pm: NBA Dallas Mavericks (1st in Southwest) @ San Antonio Spurs (2nd in Southwest)

10:00pm: NBA Los Angeles Lakers (1st in Pacific) @ Portland Trail Blazers (2nd in Northwest)

10:30pm: NBA Cleveland Cavaliers (1st in Central) @ Denver Nuggets (1st in Northwest)

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)

Nadal, Federer Cruise in Doha; Henin and Monfils Win in Brisbane

There are several simultaneous tournaments taking place this week, so I will try my best to keep you all up to speed.

First off, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal seem like they may be heading for a battle in the final, as they both easily won today and look to be in good form. Federer defeated Evgeny Korolev 6-2, 6-4 and thus secured himself a quarterfinal berth. Federer broke Korolev three times in the first set and was able to easily take the victory in 63 minutes. He will next face Ernests Gulbis, whom he has never previously played. Similarly to Federer, Nadal had an easy 6-2, 6-2 win over Potito Starace. Nadal has yet to reach the semifinals in Doha, but will do so for the first time if he can defeat his next opponent, Steve Darcis. Third seeded Nikolay Davydenko, fifth seeded Viktor Troicki, and seventh seeded Ivo Karlovic also advanced to the quarters.

In Brisbane, Justine Henin almost saw her comeback come to an abrupt halt as she trailed qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva 0-2. Henin, however, was able to up her game and win the match 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal match against Melinda Czink. With both her and Kim Clijsters playing well, an all-Belgian final between the two rivals seems increasingly possible. Third seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils had to fight for his 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-1 victory against Florent Serra. According to the Brisbane International tournament website, Monfils has been playing with a shoulder injury, but he was able to win his second round match regardless of the pain. Top seeded Andy Roddick, second seeded Radek Stepanek, and both the men’s and women’s fourth seeds (Tomas Berdych and Daniela Hantuchova) booked their places in the quarterfinals.

In Chennai, second seeded Marin Cilic defeated Marcel Granollers in a tight match 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4. Fourth seeded Janko Tipsarevic also won his second round match over  Somdev Dewarman 6-2, 6-1.

Here are the highlights from today’s matches:

Doha:

Brisbane:

1/6-Take A Peek

Photo by flash.pro

All times in EST:

4:30am: ATP/WTA Brisbane (WC) Justine Henin v. (Q) Sesil Karatantcheva

(following Henin match is (4) Tomas Berdych v. Marcos Baghdatis)

7:00am: ATP Chennai Marcel Granollers v. (2) Marin Cilic

(following Cilic match is (WC) Somdev Dewarman v. (4) Janko Tipsarevic)

7:30am: ATP Doha (Q) Steve Darcis v. (WC) Younes El Aynaoui

(following Darcis match is (1) Roger Federer v. Evgeny Korolev and (2) Rafael Nadal v. Potito Starace)

6:30pm: NCAA Basketball (20) Wisconsin @ (11) Michigan St.

7:00pm: GMAC Bowl Central Michigan Chippewas v. Troy Trojans

7:30pm: ATP/WTA Brisbane (3) Ana Ivanovic v. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

(following Ivanovic match is Wayne Odesnik v. (2) Radek Stepanek)

8:00pm: NHL Calgary Flames @ Minnesota Wild

8:00pm: NCAA Basketball (1) Kansas v. Cornell

9:00pm: NBA Houston Rockets @ Phoenix Suns