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Old 01-20-2016, 05:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by xman5 View Post
I think that maybe it is time for Venus to hang it up at the end of the year.
Absolutely, she has nothing left to prove. I suspect she stuck around for another shot at the Olympics. I will not be surprised if she makes an announcement this year that the US Open will be her last event, unless she goes on a run and qualifies for Singapore.
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Old 01-21-2016, 12:43 AM   #12
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more pics and video on my blog: Young, Talented Qualifier Naomi Osaka Reaches Third Round Of 2016 Australian Open, To Face Huge Test Against Victoria Azarenka; Ana Ivanovic Into Third Round

Naomi Osaka


I often call young, talented players “rising stars.” But in the case of 18-year old Naomi Osaka of Japan, she literally won the Rising Stars Invitational event at last year’s WTA Finals. However, after seeing her play against Donna Vekic in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, I was shocked at how much she is improving in a short period of time. She simply hit Vekic off the court. I wondered if she could do the same against 18th seed Elina Svitolina. It was a closer match, 6-4 6-4. Still, Osaka…who interestingly was actually born in Osaka, Japan…was comfortably in control against the more experienced top 20 player. Now it gets really tough. Next up is Victoria Azarenka. Honestly, this is probably where the story of this Australian Open ends for Naomi. Vika has won her two matches by scores of 6-0 6-0 and 6-1 6-2…taking time to dab along the way. Nobody expects Osaka, who currently lives and trains in Florida, to win so she might as well go out and blast away. Who knows? Maybe the young rising star will pull off the upset. By the way, for those who don’t know, her father is Haitian and her mother, Tamaki, is Japanese.

Ana Ivanovic


I’m very pleased to see Ana Ivanovic move into the third round with back to back comfortable wins. Her 6-3 6-3 win over Anastasija Sevastova means Ivanovic will play the winner of the Madison Keys v Yaroslava Shvedova match (which I happen to be watching now while typing this post). Either of those players is a threat to beat Ana. But Ana is also capable of handling both of them as well. Regardless, the way she played last year coupled with her 0-2 start this year had me worried she could be out in the first round at Melbourne. Happily, that wasn’t the case.

20 ANA IVANOVIC d. Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3 6-3


[Q] NAOMI OSAKA d. 18 Elina Svitolina, 6-4 6-4
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Old 01-21-2016, 08:08 AM   #13
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more pics and video on my blog: Zhang Shuai Continues 2016 Australian Open Success With Upset Of Alize Cornet; Madison Keys Advances

ZHANG Shuai


ZHANG Shuai sure isn’t playing like somebody who was 0 for her career in Major singles play coming into the 2016 Australian Open. With her upset of 2nd seed Simona Halep and now following it up with a 6-3 6-3 win over 2016 Hobart International champion Alize Cornet, Shuai is showing the talent that once lifted her to the top 30 in the world. She’s 5’11” with power off the ground. This might not be a fluke. She might really have the game to be this good. Cornet didn’t help herself with 6 double faults and a 7 to 36 winners to unforced errors tally. Nevertheless, Zhang Shuai is lacing some solid winners out there. It only gets tougher moving forward. But whatever happens next, the young Chinese talent has already proven she belongs out there with the elite players of the world.

Madison Keys


Meanwhile, American Madison Keys…the next big thing for a lot of us hardcore tennis fans…rebounded from losing the first set to come back and beat the dangerous Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3. Maddie had her chances in the first set and could have made this an easier match. However, once she had it working, it was easy to see why people are so excited by her potential. Even when she isn’t hitting aces with her serve, it is so tough it continually puts the returner in weak positions. It’s really a matter of whether Keys will capitalize on the many weak returns she gets off her serves. When she does, her game is frighteningly good. Next up is a similar player in former world #1 Ana Ivanovic. When Ana has it all working, her game is also beautiful to behold. This is as marquee a third round match as there is in the women’s singles draw. And it’s a tough one to pick because both players can be inconsistent at times. Whomever can sustain their best play with the fewest rough patches is likely to be the victor.

15 MADISON KEYS d. Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3


ZHANG SHUAI d. Alize Cornet, 6-3 6-3
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Old 01-22-2016, 08:52 AM   #14
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more pics and video on my blog: Belinda Bencic, Maria Sharapova Set For Showdown At 2016 Australian Open

Belinda Bencic


It’s starting to heat up down under. After making a run to the US Open quarterfinals last fall, 18-year old Belinda Bencic is one match away from equaling that result at the 2016 Australian Open. The new Swiss Miss had to come back from a set down to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko, 4-6 6-2 6-4. Obviously, matches still have to be played and anything can happen, but should she advance to the quarters it’s likely that she would face world #1 and defending champion Serena Williams, who is getting better with each round. Bencic beat Serena last year at Rogers Cup on the way to her second WTA level singles title. To be fair, Serena was way off her game that day. However, in the end it doesn’t matter how it happened. The bottom line is that Belinda was one of only three people to take down Williams in 2015.

Lauren Davis & Maria Sharapova


There is a major roadblock standing between Belinda Bencic and a date with Serena Williams. That would be career Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova. The 6’2″ Russian superstar took out 5’2″ American Lauren Davis, 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-0. After fighting to take the second set, it was disappointing to see Lauren suffer the bagel in the final set. But Masha has an ability to regroup and focus that is matched by few on tour. So if Serena gets by her fourth round match…and while that’s likely, anything can happen in sports…just ask Roberta Vinci…the question is would fans rather see one of the biggest names in women’s tennis history, Maria Sharapova, play Serena knowing she hasn’t beaten the world #1 since 2004 or would fans rather see up and coming Bencic get another crack at the champ, knowing Belinda actually has beaten Serena within the last 12 months? I’m going to say Masha. I know she hasn’t beaten Serena in what seems like forever. But keep in mind that Serena is known to smoke players who have beaten her recently. Don’t expect that just because Bencic won at Rogers Cup that she will be more competitive that Sharapova. If it’s Serena vs Belinda, expect an ultra-focused Williams in that match.

5 MARIA SHARAPOVA d. Lauren Davis, 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-0


12 BELINDA BENCIC d. Kateryna Bondarenko, 4-6 6-2 6-4
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Old 01-23-2016, 12:36 AM   #15
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more pics on my blog: Naomi Osaka’s 2016 Australian Open Run Ended By Victoria Azarenka In Third Round

Naomi Osaka


There will be better days ahead for 18-year old Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka. With her big game and charming personality, she became a bit of a media magnet following her upset of 18th seed Elina Svitolina in round two. Unfortunately, in round three Naomi ran into Victoria Azarenka, who is on fire right now. Vika made quick work of Osaka, 6-1 6-1. But tennis today is different from even 10 or 15 years ago. Naomi has plenty of time at 18 to develop. At one time in the women’s game, you could expect players to come up and be Major champions by the time they are 20. The power and physicality of today’s game is different. While Osaka works on her shots, she will also continue to work in the gym (hopefully) and grow into her full abilities. Even beyond Serena, while young players still win Majors like Petra Kvitova, a lot of recent Major winners are older players. Li Na, Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone and Marion Bartoli were all seasoned veterans when they won their Major (Li Na won two). In fact, Flavia and Marion won their Major and then retired from the tour before the next Major. So Naomi has plenty of time. She just needs to keep working and improving, and learn from facing a proven champion like Vika.

12 VICTORIA AZARENKA d. Naomi Osaka, 6-1 6-1


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Old 01-23-2016, 11:27 AM   #16
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more pics and video on my blog: Madison Keys, Zhang Shuai Advance To Fourth Round Showdown At 2016 Australian Open

Madison Keys


On paper, the 2016 Australian Open third round match between Madison Keys and Ana Ivanovic looked like a tight contest that could go either way. That’s exactly how it played out as Keys came back from a set down and being down a break several times, including 0-3 in the final set, to outlast Ivanovic, 4-6 6-4 6-4. There were not a lot of long artful rallies. This was power tennis by two of the streakiest players on tour. But watching it all unfold, I felt Maddie had more pop on her biggest shots, but Ana was a bit craftier and spent most of the match playing with a lead. If Keys could just pull even I felt she would right the ship. Eventually, she did. I am extremely impressed with how Maddie has battled back in her matches this first week. The road to being a champion isn’t always a smooth one. She is demonstrating a growing ability to better deal with adversity when the lights are shining the brightest.

Nigel Sears Taken Out Of Arena


I can’t talk about this match without mentioning that after the first game of the second set, Ana’s coach Nigel Sears collapsed in the stands. Apparently, he has some medical issues. Let me be clear that everything I am saying is what just what was being said on the broadcast live while the Keys v Ivanovic match was being delayed nearly an hour and during the resumption. It was speculated that a defibrillator was used on Sears and he was hooked up to oxygen on the way out. I don’t know if that’s true but in the pictures of him being taken away he has his shirt removed. Watching it unfold, there was a group of medical staff and security around him so it was difficult to see anything that was happening. Sears is not only Ana’s coach, he is the father in law of Andy Murray, who was playing a match in Margaret Court Arena when this was happening in Rod Laver Arena. Sears’ daughter, and Murray’s wife, Kim Sears, is expecting her first child. It was reported that Nigel Sears had regained consciousness and was alert, sitting up in the hospital. Hopefully, they will pinpoint why he has been sick and set him up on the correct treatment plan. Ana was clearly shaken during the episode. However, once play resumed Ana looked fine. This was not why she lost. Ana didn’t give this one away, as she has done plenty of times in the past. Maddie took it from her.

ZHANG Shuai


And now I have a conflict. Madison Keys is my favorite active player. But what ZHANG Shuai has done this Aussie Open, being 0 for her career in Majors, never having won even one singles match, has warmed my heart. I want Maddie to win this tournament, whether that actually happens or not with Serena and Vika playing scary tennis. But I also don’t want to see Zhang Shuai’s run end in her fourth round match against Keys. I guess I’ll root, as always, for Maddie, but should she lose I’ll be less upset than if she had lost to anybody else in the draw. I’ll say this: be clear, Zhang can beat Keys. She’s run through #2 seed Simona Halep, 2016 Hobart champ Alize Cornet and tricky Varvara Lepchenko all in straight sets. These are not flukey wins. She has shown why she was once a rising player on tour. With her size and groundstrokes I can only surmise it has either been a lack of preparation or the mental/psychological side of the game that has held her back. She clearly has talent. That is evident. The talent to beat Keys is there. However, in her run Zhang Shuai has not faced anybody with the kind of firepower on her shots like Maddie. If Keys is on her game, she could simply hit Zhang off the court. But if Keys is overly streaky again, she would be in danger of leaving an opening Zhang could exploit.

[Q] ZHANG SHUAI d. Varvara Lepchenko, 6-1 6-3




15 MADISON KEYS d. 20 Ana Ivanovic, 4-6 6-4 6-4


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Old 01-23-2016, 01:56 PM   #17
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By the way, in case anybody doesn't already know...you can watch matches in their entirety using the WatchESPN app (at least in America...I don't know about worldwide). Go to the Tennis Section and scroll through the REPLAY tab and pick any of the matches. It's great because on TV they switch back and forth between matches so you can miss action in the match you want to see...and they only show what they consider feature matches. Just be sure to get the WatchESPN app. The regular ESPN app does have WatchESPN in it, but not as expansive in choices as the WatchESPN app...at least not yet. The HD quality of the app is very good. I watch replays of matches on a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 Tablet and the picture is clear and sharp even on a big 12.2 inch tablet screen.
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Old 01-24-2016, 01:06 AM   #18
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more pics and video on my blog: The Good News For Maria Sharapova: She Won Her Fourth Round Match With Belinda Bencic, The Bad News…

Maria Sharapova


Generally speaking, if two tennis players have played each other as much as 20 times and you can name all the tournaments one of them has won against the other and the year those tournaments were played off the top of your head it usually means it’s a lopsided rivalry. One side has so few victories it’s easy to remember them. Unfortunately for Maria Sharapova, without even looking it up most hardcore tennis fans can tell you the 2 times she’s beaten Serena Williams, Wimbledon 2004 and the WTA Championship/Tour Finals 2004. So today is a happy day for Masha. She blasted a career high 21 aces to edge 12th seed Belinda Bencic 7-5 7-5 in the fourth round of the 2016 Australian Open. Bencic might be part of the future of the tour, but Masha is still part of its present. Now Sharapova gets to reprise last year’s Aussie Open final match against her nemesis, Serena Williams, this time in the quarters. Serena is playing like she’s a little peeved that so many people have picked Victoria Azarenka to win this event despite all that Serena has done in the Majors both in her career and the last couple of years. The world #1 can send a message with another romp against Sharapova. On the other hand, Masha can send the tennis world a message about her fight and resiliency by ignoring her 2-18 record against Serena and taking down the top seed.

5 MARIA SHARAPOVA d. 12 Belinda Bencic, 7-5 7-5


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Old 01-25-2016, 02:14 PM   #19
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more pics and video on my blog: Cinderella Story Continues For Zhang Shuai With Fourth Round Win Over Madison Keys At 2016 Australian Open

Zhang Shuai


Rarely does my favorite active player lose yet I cheer a result. Well, maybe cheer isn’t the right word. I clearly would have preferred Madison Keys to win her fourth round match at the 2016 Australian Open against qualifier Zhang Shuai. That didn’t happen as Zhang took out a an injury hobbled Keys, 3-6 6-3 6-3. Despite my despondency with Maddie’s loss, the Cinderella story of Shuai is too inspiring for me to feel anything but happy for the budding Chinese star. And with Maddie’s injury, it would have been unlikely that she could have won the tournament. Although she doesn’t have the name recognition of the other players in the quarterfinals, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta is known to hardcore tennis fans for the way she has played over the last 6 to 8 months. Zhang Shuai will have to be ready for a stern test from Konta, who “upset” (not really) both Venus Williams and Ekaterina Makarova already down under. But so long as Shuai is still in it, I’ll root for her to win it.

[Q] ZHANG SHUAI d. 15 Madison Keys, 3-6 6-3 6-3
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Old 01-26-2016, 12:40 AM   #20
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more pics and video on my blog: Agnieszka Radwanska Defeats Carla Suarez Navarro, Set For Semifinal Showdown With Serena Williams At 2016 Australian Open

Agnieszka Radwanska


The match of the day at the 2016 Australian Open was arguably the Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova quarterfinal match. But that “rivalry” hasn’t had any steam for 12 years. As expected, Serena dispatched with Masha for the 19th time in 21 matches, including 18 in a row. The last time Sharapova beat Williams, The Incredibles was the #1 movie in the United States. So let’s see if Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3, can fare any better. Admittedly, the last time Aga beat Serena was…never. But Radwanska won the 2015 WTA Finals (which Serena skipped) and won in Shenzhen to open 2016. Add in titles in Tianjin and Tokyo at the end of last year, all on hard court, and if there is ever a time for Aga to pull off the upset it’s now. Unlike Masha, The Ninja (as they call Aga) has a varied array of deft shots that rely as much or more on guile as force. Maybe a change of pace, similar to what Roberta Vinci did at the 2015 US Open against Serena, is what is needed to derail her. On the other hand, maybe we’re just headed to an inevitable Serena vs Vika showdown in the final.

4 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA d. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-1 6-3


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