Tennis was well-represented during the Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London last night. 8 of our beloved tennis players were flag bearers for their respective nations. Nole, Masha, Aga, Baghs, Horacio (lookin’ hawt), Steph Vogt, Stan The Man and The Beast all led their countries’ delegates during the parade of athletes.
I’m sure they all felt equally happy and proud but Nole showed it the most. As per yoosh.
Max pulled off the hat quite well. And so did Masha.
Actually, Masha made the Russian’s official wardrobe look good. Who knew a little sleeve fold could make a difference? Oh, right.
Aga and Horacio both cleaned up nicely. Very, very nicely.
After his somewhat shocking loss to John Isner in the Indian Wells semifinals two weeks ago, Nole bounced right back and defended his Sony Ericsson Open title. He hasn’t been in devastating form a la Nole 2011 to start the year but he’s able to grind out matches and find ways to win. That was very evident in Miami when he had to battle not only his opponent but also himself to close out his quarterfinal, semifinal and final matches. Although Nole did not drop a set the entire tournament, he was extended to a second set tiebreaker in his last 3 matches (he had chances to serve out his QF and SF matches but was broken).
Nevertheless, the world No. 1 won his 30th title without playing his best tennis. This is could be troubling news for his rivals. Nole was “in the zone” in 2011 and sooner or later it was going to fizzle out and his body was going to catch up with him but winning ugly is forever!
It’s too early to say that he’s favorite to win Roland Garros as he hasn’t struck a ball on the dirt yet. (I don’t know why everyone’s talking about this already.) But I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s one of the three favorites to win. Do you agree or do you agree? I am making bold predictions here and would like some company.
Ninja Radwanska won the biggest title of her career after upsetting Maria Bridesmaidpova (and me) in the finals of Miami. Aga played well—moved and defended great—to endlessly frustrate Maria who can no longer play tennis on championship days. She deserved to win this title as she was clearly the more solid and composed player that day. I wrote about everything that Aga did well here.
What does this loss mean for Maria? Well, it’s pretty bad and big blow to her confidence. Unlike her 2 previous finals losses this year, this match was on her racquet. What’s that metaphor about squeezing too tightly that you eventually end up losing hold of it? I think that applies here. Maria’s trying to accomplish something that has never been done before (win a big one after surgery) and she’s putting way too much pressure on herself. 3 years of working and fighting and it’s so close and she wants it so much that she tightens up at the sight of the finish line. Oh, sh*t, am I really about to do this?!? (You know she’s cursing up a storm in her head.)
I always say it’s a slow and steady progression with her. That’s kind of how she’s dealt with this “new” career. 2009-2010 was a relearning curve—figure out the serve, trust the shoulder and gain some match confidence. Last year was when she began to become a threat again (Thanks, Hoggy!) and, obviously, continuing on with it this year. One giant leap left and probably the toughest one to make. But Maria loves a challenge, right? Well, here you go. Biggest. Challenge. Ever.
To give you a better idea of how I feel about Masha’s losing skid in finals, here’s Christina Aguilera.
Agnieszka Radwanksa defeated Julia Goerges in the finals of Dubai, 7-5, 6-4, to win her first title of the year. In four tournaments this year, Aga has only lost to Victoria Azarenka. In light of all the “real No. 1″ talk during the Wozniacki Era, does this make her the real No. 2?
Aga improves her career finals win-loss record to 8-2. Very Ninja-like of her to sneak in an 80% success in finals. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Juan Martin del Potro claimed his first ever indoor hardcourt title at the Open 13 tournament in Marseille. He defeated a crafty lefty, Michael Llodra, in the finals, 6-4, 6-4.
This title caps off a very successful two-week indoor run for Delpo. Last week, he was in the finals of Rotterdam where he lost to a man who hasn’t dropped an indoor hardcourt match since 2010, Roger Federer.
Sofia Arvidsson really likes Memphis. She won her second WTA Tour career title after defeating Marina Erakovic in the finals, 6-3, 6-4. Her first title also came at this tournament exactly 6 years ago and she was runner-up to Maria Sharapova in 2010. The WTA website has crowned her the Queen of Memphis.
It was also a sentimental win for Sofia and her team. Her sparring partner suffered a recent death in his family.
“I’m so happy, but sad also – my sparring partner had to go home earlier in the week because his godson was dying of cancer, and he died yesterday. When I was out there I thought this was just a tennis match, and I was quite relaxed.
“This is for him.”
Jurgen Melzer is the broken toe wonder. He defeated a red hot Milos Raonic in the Memphis finals, 7-5, 7-6(4), to win the title. Jojo has been playing on a broken toe all week and still notched wins over John Isner, Radek Stepanek and Raonic en route to the title.
With this run, Broken Toe rises 19 spots to No. 19 in the rankings. A few more good weeks and we could see him back in the Top 10.
David Ferrer denied Nicolas Almagro a second straight title in Buenos Aires after he defeated the younger Spaniard, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. This is Daveed’s 13th career ATP World Tour title.
18-year-old Timea Babos won her first ever WTA Tour title in Monterrey. She defeated Alexandra Cadantu in the finals, 6-4, 6-4.
“I think after this match….just lost a lot of respect. That’s it. If you do this in the match, if anyone didn’t see the match, I think it’s just a quick look on YouTube and you’ll know what was going on.”
“Yeah, I was angry because I don’t think this is the great image for the women’s tennis, what was going on there,” she added. “So, yeah, unfortunately.” Source
From where I was watching, Aga totally bottled that match but it wouldn’t be this much fun if she agreed with me so let’s all go back to enjoying the show, shall we?
Match of the Day: Bernard Tomic defeated Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
The match started with Fer looking like he was going to routinely beat Bernie, who seemed to be hobbling a set and a half in. For a match so hyped up, it was turning out to be a disappointment. But like everything else Tomic-related, he did something that no one anticipated. He stole that third set then went on to comeback from the dead to win the match. It was all assisted by Fer’s implosion, of course. Bernie so wanted to tap out in the third set but Fer just wouldn’t let him.
Update: Bernie actually pretended to tap out. Amazing.
Q. Was there any time in the match when his body language showed you something that you focused on?
BERNARD TOMIC: Um, yeah, in the third set. He thought I had a feeling he knew I was going to go away. I eased off, as well, I think on purpose. I eased off and seemed I didn’t care, and I think that’s what drawed him a little bit tonight. He thought he was going to win that third set, and when the right time came, I broke him.
You know, after that the third set, you know, he started getting a little bit tight and not hitting his shots.
Q. So you set him up a little bit?
BERNARD TOMIC: In that third set, yeah. I knew if I lifted my game early, he would have lifted as well and he wouldn’t have let go. I pretended a little bit in the first few games in that third set to not be there as mentally, but in a way to still be there.
Title contenders, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki, notched easy first round wins.
Agnieszka Radwanska survived the always-streaky, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, in 3 sets. New year, same ninja skills.
Just 2 years ago, I thought he was going to breakthrough in Melbourne and win a slam but Nikolay Davydenko seems to be moving further and further away from his good years. He was defeated in 5 sets by Flavio Cipolla, his second straight first round exit at the happy (not) slam.