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Old 01-14-2012, 05:37 PM   #1
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2012 Australian Open

more pics and video on my blog: Australian Open 2012: What I’m Watching Fairways and Forehands

Can 2008 finalist Ana Ivanovic recapture the magic?


I don’t do predictions on who will win for tennis tournaments. It’s sports, you never know. What I do as a preview is just look at some of the storylines I’m following. So with the 2012 Australian Open here, these are some of my thoughts. Since I put Ana Ivanovic as the lead photo, I’ll start with the 2008 finalist. Honestly, it’s been frustrating being an Ana-fan in recent years. She will show flashes of her old form and then follow that by losing to someone she would have crushed when she was #1. After defending her title in Bali at the end of 2011, she started 2012 by taking Kim Clijsters the distance in a loss at Brisbane, a match Ana should have won. Still, she looked good. But then she turned around and lost in straight sets in her first match at Sydney. Granted, her opponent Lucie Safarova is no slouch. That said, if Ana wants to be among the elite players again, she has to win that match. Furthermore, Ana admitted a bad shot, a missed overhead smash in the first set tiebreak that would have given her set point, affected her the rest of the match. If she wants success, and it’s there to have with so many question marks on the women’s side, she must be stronger mentally. When Ana plays with confidence, she is a completely different player, a dangerous foe for anybody in the draw.

2011 Austalian Open winners, Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic


It has rarely happened that my favorite women’s and men’s player won the title at the same Major event in the same year. However, it happened in 2011 as Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic both took the title down under. Nole would go on to have one of the greatest seasons in tennis history, adding Wimbledon and the US Open to his trophy-filled year. Kimmie, on the other hand, did not win another event as she struggled with multiple injuries. 2012 has me worried as well, with Clijsters reaching the semifinals in Brisbane, and then having to pull out with a hip injury. Kim actually has won at least one Major the last three years, the longest active streak on the women’s side, but at the moment I’m not sure she can physically finish a tournament.



Will Caroline Wozniacki finally break through?


I know Caroline Wozniacki is tired of hearing the same questions over and over and over and over about her not winning a Major (Slam), especially during Major events. Too bad. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for her frustration, but with the mantle of being ranked the #1 player in the world, there comes expectations. That’s just a fact. If you’re #1 and not only have you not won a Major, you haven’t even reached the final of Major in over 2 years, then you will be bombarded with questions. One thing I will say in her favor is this; if Serena Williams or Kim Clijsters had not been injured and played full schedules over the last 2 years, Caroline would not be #1. And if she were the #3 player in the world during that time, she wouldn’t face the same volume of questions. Of course, she can shut everybody up by winning here in Melbourne. Do I think that can happen? Yes. Do I think it will happen? I love Caroline as a player, but no. (note: above picture of Caroline is from Sydney)



The pressure is on for Samantha Stosur


As much pressure as Caroline is under, so is Australia’s own Samantha Stosur. After having her Major breakthrough at the US Open, another hardcourt Slam, the weight of expectation on Samantha’s shoulders is great. If she is to meet those expectations, she will need to raise her game greatly. Straight set losses to Iveta Benesova and Francesca Schiavone in Brisbane and Sydney respectively does not bode well for her chances in Melbourne. It would be a terrific story if she pulled this title out, though.



There are many other stories. Will Li Na return to the final? Will Petra Kvitova reach the #1 ranking? Will Victoria Azarenka win her first Major? Will Serena return to championship form? But I will leave this post at that. As I said, I’m not predicting a winner…but maybe we can get some predictions from the next generation of Aussie tennis fans. Something tells me Aussies Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic might just be in the predictions.



ANA IVANOVIC
at practice sessions









with ball kids



KIM CLIJSTERS (with NOVAK DJOKOVIC)
at draw ceremony





MARIA SHARAPOVA
at practice sessions





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Old 01-14-2012, 08:54 PM   #2
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from my blog: Tennis Stars Come Out For 2012 Australian Open Kids Day Fairways and Forehands

Samantha Stosur, Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters with young fan


Prior to the 2012 Australian Open, fun was had at the MLC Kids Tennis Day. Kim Clijsters, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Samantha Stosur were among the many players who came out to participate. It was a great day just to have fun with the children and promote the game to a new generation.





Maria Sharapova




Elena Vesnina


Rafael Nadal


Kim Clijsters




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Old 01-15-2012, 01:12 AM   #3
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from my blog: Meet The 2012 Australian Open Ball Kids (Ana Ivanovic Did!) Fairways and Forehands



I’m always happy to see young kids getting involved in tennis. It’s a sport for a lifetime. The 2012 Australian Open ball kids received a great thrill to meet 2008 finalist and former world #1 Ana Ivanovic.



…and speaking of that 2008 final, Ana shared her thoughts about that final with Aussie Open TV.

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Old 01-15-2012, 01:42 PM   #4
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more photos and video on my blog: Top Tennis Stars Give Their Impressions On The 2012 Australian Open Fairways and Forehands

Kim Clijsters at practice session


There was a time when the Australian Open was clearly the weakest of the four Major (Slam) events. It was at the end of the tennis year and many players simply skipped it, opting not to make the long trip down under. It was moved to the beginning of the year. This still draws some complaints from players that it is too soon after the Christmas and New Year holidays. In fact, it’s date has been moved a number of times in the past. Nevertheless, much credit has to go to the tournament organizers for building the event into a dazzling entertainment event, worthy of its Major status. Far from the days when players skipped this event, the Aussie Open is now a tournament that gets high marks from the top stars in the game.



Speaking of the top players, I really hope Li Na has turned things around from the end of 2011. I would love to see her play to her ability not only in Melbourne, but the entirety of 2012.





PETRA KVITOVA
at practice sessions





LI NA
at practice sessions





KIM CLIJSTERS
at practice sessions

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Old 01-15-2012, 11:03 PM   #5
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A note for those who will be watching the Australian Open...there is coverage on ESPN2 and The Tennis Channel...

...however...if you have a participating Internet Service Provider...

...I recommend checking out ESPN3...or also referred to as WatchESPN...which is online at: Watch Live Sports Events and ESPN Programs Online and on Mobile Applications - WatchESPN

...this online service allows you to watch whichever match you want to, in its entirety, not just what is being shown on TV...plus you can watch replays of matches you missed...or maybe just want to watch again...
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:03 PM   #6
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more pics and video on my blog: Kim Clijsters Shaky Advancing In 2012 Australian Open First Round; Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka Cruise Fairways and Forehands

Kim Clijsters


The video below says Kim Clijsters advanced easily and the 7-5 61 scoreline over Maria Joao Koehler might suggest that was so. It was not so. Kim might not have found herself in the same kind of 3 set war Agnieszka Radwanska did with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but the match was not one Kim would put in a time capsule as an example of her tennis play. She will have to be much, much better not just to advance past potential future round foes like Daniela Hantuchova, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters will have to be better if she wants to advance past the second round in her final Australian Open appearance. She seemed tight from the outset and committed a boatload of unforced errors as Koehler had chances to take the first set and really turn the heat up on Kimmie. Now, one thing I will say. Kim blew out Dinara Safina with the double bagel last year to get things started but then was a little shaky moving through the draw. However, shaky though she was at times, she won the title. As the late Al Davis would say, “Just win, baby!”



Caroline Wozniacki


Having no problems advancing was Caroline Wozniacki, who made easy work of Anastasia Rodionova. Honestly, I’m not surprised. I’ve seen Rodionova bow out quickly to top players before. It’s really too bad, because she has more game than she showed against Caroline. It’s a good win for Caroline, but don’t write a lot into this. The real tests await deeper into the draw.

Victoria Azarenka


Looking scary good was Victoria Azarenka, fresh off her win in Sydney. She opened up in Melbourne by completely overwhelming Heather Watson, who gave Maria Sharapova fits at the US Open. Heather gave no fits to Vika, as the #3 seed dismissed Watson, 6-1 6-0. Like Caroline, the real tests await deeper in the draw for Vika, but she sure looked primed in round one.

Li Na




Singles - First Round
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Anastasia Rodionova (AUS) 62 61
(3) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 61 60
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) 63 61
(8) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 67(10) 64 62
(10) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) 61 63
(11) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. (Q) Maria Joao Koehler (POR) 75 61
(13) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (Q) Laura Robson (GBR) 62 60
(16) Peng Shuai (CHN) d. (WC) Aravane Rezai (FRA) 63 64
(Q) Nina Bratchikova (RUS) d. (19) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 63 16 62
(20) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (Q) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 46 63 62
(22) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Polona Hercog (SLO) 63 76(3)
Christina McHale (USA) d. (24) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 62 64
(26) Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) d. Eva Birnerova (CZE) 63 63
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) d. (28) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 75 62
(31) Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Alizé Cornet (FRA) 57 60 63
(32) Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. Ayumi Morita (JPN) 36 61 75
Mona Barthel (GER) d. Anne Keothavong (GBR) 60 ret. (GI illness)
Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. Mathilde Johansson (FRA) 63 26 64
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. Sania Mirza (IND) 64 62
Marina Erakovic (NZL) d. (Q) Irena Pavlovic (FRA) 75 76(4)
Pauline Parmentier (FRA) d. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 57 63
Alberta Brianti (ITA) d. Irina Falconi (USA) 62 75
Romina Oprandi (ITA) d. Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) 64 61
Anna Tatishvili (GEO) d. (WC) Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 62 76(4)
Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) d. Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 63 62
Stéphanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) d. Elena Baltacha (GBR) 62 64
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) d. Arantxa Rus (NED) 76(4) 61
Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (AUT) 62 64
(Q) Chang Kai-Chen (TPE) d. Petra Martic (CRO) 64 62
(Q) Paula Ormaechea (ARG) d. Simona Halep (ROU) 61 36 75
(WC) Casey Dellacqua (AUS) d. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 63 62
(WC) Olivia Rogowska (AUS) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 63 61
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:43 PM   #7
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more pics and video on my blog: Samantha Stosur Crashes Out Of 2012 Australian Open In The First Round; Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova Dominate Fairways and Forehands

Samantha Stosur


I hate to say it, but you could see this one coming. Coming into the 2012 Australian Open, the Major where she has the most pressure on her, Samantha Stosur had played 3 matches, 2 at Brisbane and 1 at Sydney. She lost 2 of them, 1 apiece to Iveta Benesova and Francesca Schiavone. Even after winning the 2011 US Open, she finished the year with losing her first match at Tokyo and her second match in Beijing. She did reach the final of Osaka, but didn’t beat a player in the top 35 on the way to the final. Once faced with #11 (at the time) Marion Bartoli, Samantha lost. She also lost twice at Istanbul, although to be fair those losses were to Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova. Still, with the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd at the Australian Open coupled with her less than stellar play since the US Open win last year, those who follow the game could sense a possible upset in the Stosur-Sorana Cirstea match, and Sorana delivered, 7-6 (2) 6-3. I wished for so much more down under for Samantha. Maybe it’s a Major swoon, similar to what Li Na went through last year. Maybe it’s just her natural streaky play. Whatever it is I hope she gets her game together by the time Roland Garros comes around.



Maria Sharapova


A player who surprised me, but in a positive way, was Maria Sharapova. After struggling with injury at the end of 2011 and having little match play, the first round draw with Gisela Dulko looked like a possible upset special. Not if Masha had anything to say about it. Sharapova thumped Dulko, 6-0 6-1. If it were a fight, they would have stopped it. Even the game Dulko won was more due to Masha having some brief service yips. Pretty good opening round statement.

Petra Kvitova


Also making a statement was Petra Kvitova, who beat Vera Dushevina, 6-2 6-0. On a day when there were bagels all over the scoreboard (Novak Djokovic dropped two on his opponent in round one), Petra bounced back from an 0-2 start to win the final 12 games against Dushevina. Like Masha, Petra gave one of those game losses away with service yips, double-faulting 3 times in her first service game. Otherwise, it could have been an even more lopsided score.

Ana Ivanovic




Singles – First Round
(2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Vera Dushevina (RUS) 62 60
(4) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Gisela Dulko (ARG) 60 61
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (6) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 76(2) 63
(7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 76(4) 67(5) 63
(9) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Virginie Razzano (FRA) 75 60
(12) Serena Williams (USA) d. Tamira Paszek (AUT) 63 62
(14) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. (Q) Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 62 46 64
(15) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 76(5) 61
(17) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 63 61
(18) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 63 36 60
(21) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Lourdes Domínguez Lino (ESP) 60 63
(23) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) 60 61
(25) Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Johanna Larsson (SWE) 62 64
(27) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 64 62
(29) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. (Q) Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 63 36 60
(30) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (WC) Bojana Bobusic (AUS) 61 63
Shahar Peer (ISR) d. (WC) Isabella Holland (AUS) 62 60
Zheng Jie (CHN) d. (WC) Madison Keys (USA) 62 61
Sara Errani (ITA) d. (Q) Valeria Savinykh (RUS) 62 61
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d. Iryna Brémond (FRA) 60 64
Lucie Hradecka (CZE) d. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 63 61
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) 60 26 60
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 61 75
Jelena Dokic (AUS) d. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) 62 61
Vania King (USA) d. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 76(3) 63
Michaella Krajicek (NED) d. Kristina Barrois (GER) 63 76(13)
Greta Arn (HUN) d. Rebecca Marino (CAN) 64 62
Sloane Stephens (USA) d. Sílvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 62
Stéphanie Dubois (CAN) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 64 16 64
Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. (Q) Alison Riske (USA) 64 16 62
Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. (WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) 63 63
(Q) Jamie Hampton (USA) d. Mandy Minella (LUX) 61 61
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:30 AM   #8
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more pics and video on my blog: Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka Strong In Second Round Of 2012 Australian Open; Caroline Wozniacki Advances After Being Pushed In Tough Second Set Fairways and Forehands

Victoria Azarenka


Victoria Azarenka has started the first two rounds of the 2012 Australian Open like she means business. In her first two matches she has won 24 games and lost 2. Heather Watson had no chance against Vika in the first round. Similarly, Australia’s own Casey Dellacqua proved no threat either for the #3 seed as Vika pounded her, 6-1 6-0. I’m not liking Mona Barthel’s chances to derail Azarenka in round three. She’ll be fortunate if she wins more than 4 total games if Vika continues to play like this.



Kim Clijsters


Bouncing back from a shaky first round was defending champion Kim Clijsters. The crowd favorite found the form that took her to the title in 2011, routing Stephanie Foretz Gacon, 6-0 6-1. Up next is a real test, as Kim takes on Daniela Hantuchova. Ok, granted Kim is 9-1 against Daniela with the only loss being two weeks ago in Brisbane when Kim won the first set and then retired in the second with a hip injury. However, as any Hantuchova fan will tell you, Daniela can be super streaky, playing poorly at times and like a world-beater other times. Just ask Caroline Wozniacki last year at Roland Garros.

Caroline Wozniacki tries to beat the heat in Melbourne


Speaking of Caroline Wozniacki, the world #1 fought off a spirited second set charge from Anna Tatishvili to prevail, 6-1 7-6 (4). Honestly, Tatishvili had her chances to win that second set and put a lot of pressure on Caroline. I think Caroline will beat her next opponent, Monica Niculescu, but lurking in the following round is the winner of Jelena Jankovic vs American up and comer Christina McHale. JJ has the game, if not always the head, to beat Caroline. And while McHale might not be as well known, the young American teen already posted a win over Wozniacki last year.



Li Na


Daniela Hantuchova
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:20 PM   #9
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more pics and video on my blog: Maria Sharapova Easily Advances In Second Round Of 2012 Australian Open; American Vania King Upsets 15th Seed Pavlyuchenkova Fairways and Forehands

Maria Sharapova


Maria Sharapova continued her early round success down under by overpowering Jamie Hampton in the second round of the 2012 Australian Open, 6-0 6-1. The fourth seeded Sharapova looks primed to get by Angelique Kerber in the next round, but then again you never know in sports. She can’t look past anybody, but I can so I will. I have my eyes on a possible fourth round match-up between Masha and either fellow Russian star and Major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova or a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon semifinals against Sabine Lisicki.





Vania King


Upset of the day on the women’s side goes to American Vania King, who defeated the 15th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 5-7 6-3 6-4. Vania, a Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion with partner Yaroslava Shvedova, had only played Pavlyuchenkova a few times before, but had played well, losing a tough 3-setter at the 2008 US Open and winning in straight sets last year in Tokyo. After her match, she even sang for Pam Shriver!

...come on, Marcos...really...really, dude...


Petra Kvitova


Sabine Lisicki


Singles – Second Round
(2) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) 62 26 64
(4) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (Q) Jamie Hampton (USA) 60 61
(7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 61 76(3)
(9) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Jelena Dokic (AUS) 63 62
(12) Serena Williams (USA) d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 60 64
(14) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Shahar Peer (ISR) 61 62
Vania King (USA) d. (15) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 57 63 64
Greta Arn (HUN) d. (17) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 62 36 108
(18) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Sloane Stephens (USA) 76(6) 75
(21) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Michaella Krajicek (NED) 62 63
Zheng Jie (CHN) d. (23) Roberta Vinci (ITA) 64 62
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (25) Kaia Kanepi (EST) 62 75
(27) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 64 16 62
Sara Errani (ITA) d. (29) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 62 62
(30) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Stéphanie Dubois (CAN) 75 61
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 16 62 63
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:20 AM   #10
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more pics and photos at: Third Round Victories At 2012 Australian Open Set Up Showdowns: Kim Clijsters vs Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki vs Jelena Jankovic Fairways and Forehands

Kim Clijsters


I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2012 Australian Open this year, but now the excitement level rises significantly. With most of the seeds moving through easily, the tough match-ups begin. Of primary interest to me is the fourth round battle between Kim Clijsters and Li Na, a rematch of last year’s final, won by Kimmie. Li Na didn’t have to play much in the third round, as her opponent had to retire with an ankle injury only three games into the match. Clijsters was able to conserve some energy by continuing her domination of Daniela Hantuchova, 6-3 6-2. The Clijsters-Li rematch will tell a lot about both players. Li Na gave Kim trouble last year in two finals, beating Kim in Sydney and taking her the distance at the 2011 Australian Open. But honestly, while Li is definitely playing better than the last half of 2011, I’m not sure that she’s at the level she was last year in Australia or at Roland Garros. Petra Kvitova was rolling over Li at Sydney 6-1 3-1 until she imploded with unforced errors. This match should answer some questions about both Li and Clijsters.



Jelena Jankovic


I don’t think the Caroline Wozniacki-Jelena Jankovic showdown, if won by Caroline, tells us much about the world #1. I think we know what to expect from Caroline. But should Jelena Jankovic keep her head in the match and avoid any extraneous drama, a win over the world #1 might just propel her deep into the tournament. I must admit that while Jelena is my second favorite player to Kim Clijsters, a part of me was hoping Christina McHale would win their third round match. Alas, it was not to be as JJ rolled, 6-2 6-0. Against Monica Niculescu, an awkward style of player, Caroline was…well, Caroline, patiently waiting for opening and errors, defeating the 31st seed, 6-2 6-2.



Caroline Wozniacki


Victoria Azarenka


Li Na


Singles – Third Round
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (31) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 62 62
(3) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 62 64
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (26) Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 30 ret. (right ankle sprain)
(8) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 62 62
(11) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. (20) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 62
(13) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Christina McHale (ROU) 62 60
(22) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Romina Oprandi (ITA) 36 63 61
Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. (Q) Nina Bratchikova (RUS) 61 63
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