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Old 01-10-2016, 04:57 PM   #1
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Women's Tennis Association 2016

more pics and video on my blog: WTA Wrap-Up 1.10.2016: Victoria Azarenka (Brisbane), Sloane Stephens (Auckland) and Agnieszka Radwanska (Shenzhen) Open 2016 Season With Titles

Victoria Azarenka


Coming back from injury in 2015, former world #1 Victoria Azarenka had, by her standard, a bit of an underwhelming season. She reached a final at Doha, but the year was not indicative of what she can accomplish when fit and focused. Maybe 2016 will be the year tennis fans see the rebirth of Vika. She certainly started with a bang, winning the 2016 Brisbane International with a 6-3 6-1 victory over Angelique Kerber. This is Azarenka’s 2nd Brisbane title, although this time she won as an unseeded player due to her slippage in the rankings. If she keeps playing as she did this week, she won’t continue being unseeded. This is her 18th WTA singles title, but the first since the 2013 Western & Southern Open. I hope this is the start of Vika reclaiming her place among the best in the game. She is bold and fearless. Win or lose, she isn’t intimidated by any player on tour. There are other players who have defeated Serena Williams; naturally, Serena is human after all. But nobody looks the world #1 in the eye and fights the way Vika does. They’ve had great battles on court over the years. I’d love to see more in 2016.

Sloane Stephens


In Auckland, New Zealand 22-year old Sloane Stephens showed she is still one of the young, bright hopes for the future of American tennis. Heck, forget the future…the future is now, perhaps. Early in her career, she showed flashes of brilliance but no titles. However, after winning the Citi Open in the second half of last season and opening this year with the ASB Classic championship, it appears Sloane’s vast potential is coming to fruition. Due to a rain interruption the previous night, the 5th seeded Stephens had to pull double duty the final day, taking down 3rd seed Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals before turning around later to defeat the dangerous Julia Goerges in the final. I look at Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and an emerging young, big hitter like Samantha Crawford and I feel very confident about the youth brigade in American women’s tennis.

Agnieszka Radwanska


After winning the biggest title of her career at the 2015 WTA Finals, it’s no surprise that Agnieszka Radwanska rides into 2016 with an opening tournament run at the 2016 Shenzhen Open. Since last year’s US Open, Aga has won in Tokyo, Tianjin, Singapore and now Shenzhen. She probably doesn’t want to leave Asia at this point! The top seed defeated Alison Riske in the final, 6-3 6-2. It might be unfair, but it’s all about Radwanska getting her first Major now. At least that’s how I see it. Well, that or being ranked #1. This victory gives Radwanska her 18th career WTA singles title.

SHENZHEN OPEN FINAL

1 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (POL) d. Alison Riske (USA), 6-3 6-2




ASB CLASSIC FINAL

5 SLOANE STEPHENS (USA) d. Julia Goerges (GER), 7-5 6-2




BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL FINAL

VICTORIA AZARENKA (BEL) d. 4 Angelique Kerber (GER), 6-3 6-1


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Old 01-15-2016, 05:59 AM   #2
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more pics and video on my blog: Ana Ivanovic Looks To Bounce Back At 2016 Australian Open

Ana Ivanovic at Adidas Pre-Australian Open Event


After a great 2014 where she won 4 titles and was runner-up in 2 other events, 2015 saw Ana Ivanovic reach only 1 final…and that one was at the beginning of the year at the Brisbane International in January. Admittedly, she did make a semifinal run at Roland Garros but otherwise it was a season that paled compared to the year before. Ana was looking to get off to a good start in 2016 but so far she’s stumbled out of the gate, losing in the first round of both the ASB Classic and the Apia International Sydney. At Sydney she lost to the rising star Karolina Pliskova. That’s understandable. But at the ASB Classic she was taken out by qualifier Naomi Broady. That shouldn’t happen to somebody who is still (when she’s on) among the best ball strikers on tour. All will be forgiven and forgotten if Ivanovic makes a deep run at the Australian Open. Ana is a fan favorite. She is great for the tour when she is playing well. I hope that regardless of what happens in Melbourne, she bounces back in 2016 with at least 1 title.

with Caroline Wozniacki and Andrea Petkovic
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:15 AM   #3
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more pics and video on my blog: Eugenie Bouchard Off To Positive Start In 2016 Despite Hobart International Final Loss; Alize Cornet (Hobart) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (Sydney) Take Titles

Eugenie Bouchard


It wasn’t Eugenie Bouchard’s day in the final of the 2016 Hobart International. She fell to Alize Cornet 6-1 6-2 in a one-sided match. But if one takes a step back and looks at the bigger picture, Genie’s start this season gives reason to hope for a resurgence in her game. In 2014, she was the new tennis rising star, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros. She followed that up with a runner-up at Wimbledon. But since losing to Petra Kvitova in those finals, she has steadily fallen in quality of play until 2015, where her game dropped off precipitously. Bouchard lost her opening match in 11 tournaments. It was shocking to see the player she was in 2014 be so poor in 2015. To add insult, her year ended with a slip in the US Open locker room where she hit her head and suffered concussion symptoms the rest of the season. But 2016 has seen Genie rebound with a quarterfinal run in Shenzhen and a runner-up finish at Hobart. Hobart was her first final since Wuhan 2014. Wins over tough opponents Dominika Cibulkova, Camila Giorgi and Bethanie Mattek-Sands suggest that Bouchard is beginning to find her way again under the tutelage of new coach Thomas Hogstedt. He is noted in WTA circles for his outstanding work with Li Na and Maria Sharapova. The talent is still there for Genie. It’s just a matter of putting it all together again. Because of 2015, her ranking has slipped so her draw at the Australian Open will be much tougher this year than last year. But that’s what she will have to deal with until she can climb back up the rankings.

Alize Cornet


That said, I would be remiss not to celebrate and congratulate this week’s WTA title winners, Alize Cornet (Hobart) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (Sydney). Both of those players are the kind of upset threats that the top seeds don’t want to see in their draw. First of all, Sveta is a 2-time Major champion with the kind of mental strength that helps her fear nobody. Win or lose, she’s going to make it a fight. And for Alize, let’s not forget that in that same 2014 season where Eugenie Bouchard was turning heads, it was Cornet who beat Serena Williams multiple times, including knocking her out of Wimbledon. In fact, she beat Serena in the third round of Wimbledon 2014 and then lost to Genie in the fourth round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alize or Sveta lose in the early rounds at Melbourne…but I also wouldn’t be surprised to look up and see them in the quarterfinals.

APIA INTERNATIONAL SYDNEY FINAL
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA (RUS) d. [Q] Monica Puig (PUR) , 6-0 6-2


w/Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Monica Puig


HOBART INTERNATIONAL FINAL
7 ALIZE CORNET (FRA) d. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN), 6-1 6-2


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Last edited by bangkokbobby; 01-16-2016 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 01-17-2016, 12:39 AM   #4
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more pics and video on my blog: Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka Ready For Australian Open 2016

Garbine Muguruza


Garbine Muguruza could be the next big star on the WTA. The 22-year old 2015 Wimbledon runner-up goes into the 2016 Australian Open ranked #3 in the world. She has the shots, size and power to give anybody a problem on a given day. However, question marks surround her injured foot. Will her movement be hampered on the hard courts in Melbourne under a sweltering summer sun. She will be tested immediately by 20-year old rising Estonian Anett Kontaveit. Should Gabi win, she’ll have to face either Kirsten Flipkens or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. If Muguruza can’t move well on her foot, all three of those opponents could be tricky.

Victoria Azarenka


The marquee fourth round potential match up in Gabi’s section would be her against 2-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Although she is seeded 14th, many see Vika as the #2 favorite behind Serena Williams to win it all. Certainly, Azarenka’s form at the Brisbane International was impressive. She also has a favorable draw to get to a potential Muguruza match. Obviously, anything can happen. They could both lose in the first round. But if form holds up, fans could be treated to a sensational early clash between two of the top players on tour.

VICTORIA AZARENKA
AO Kids Day w/Milos Raonic, Caroline Wozniacki, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic


GARBINE MUGURUZA
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Old 01-18-2016, 01:32 AM   #5
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more pics and video on my blog: Petra Kvitova Opens 2016 Season With Australian Open First Round Victory; Sloane Stephens Upset Down Under

Petra Kvitova


It was great to see Petra Kvitova start her season with a win in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, beating Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum, 6-3 6-1. The 2-time Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic is very unpredictable. If she loses her next match or wins the tournament, few hardcore tennis aficionados would be surprised. I just think tournaments are more interesting the longer Petra is in the draw. Few players are capable of hitting…or even outhitting…Serena Williams. Kvitova is one of them. But that’s only if she’s on, as she was when she beat Serena last year in Madrid.

Sloane Stephens


On the other hand, I’m bummed about Sloane Stephens crashing out in the first round of the year’s first Major. She came into Melbourne riding a wave of confidence, having won the title in Auckland, New Zealand at the 2016 ASB Classic. That mattered not at all to China’s Qiang WANG, who dismissed the 24th seeded Stephens, 6-3 6-3. I have to be honest, unless Wang goes on a run early this season this is a bad loss for Sloane. Losing to a qualifier in the first round is far below Sloane’s capabilities. Hopefully, she will rebound, understanding that she does have a tournament win already this year. If she does, I’m sure we’ll hear good things to come from the young talented American.

[Q] QIANG WANG d. 24 Sloane Stephens, 6-3 6-3


6 PETRA KVITOVA d. [Q] Luksika Kumkhum, 6-3 6-1
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Old 01-18-2016, 06:22 AM   #6
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more pics and video on my blog: Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard Advance On Day 1 Of Australian Open; Caroline Wozniacki Upset

Maria Sharapova


Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard are certainly two of the biggest names in women’s tennis. However, I don’t know how many people are picking either to go deep at the 2016 Australian Open. Serena Williams is the obvious choice to win it all and Victoria Azarenka is the fashionable choice as an alternate pick. But let’s not forget it was Masha who was runner-up last year. She started this year’s campaign with a 6-1 6-3 win over the feisty Nao Habino of Japan. The scoreline doesn’t reflect how much Habino was able to make Sharapova work, particularly in the second set. Meanwhile, Eugenie Bouchard scored an impressive victory over the potentially very tough Aleksandra Krunic, 6-3 6-4. The problem for Genie, as I mentioned in the my last post about her, is that her ranking has slipped so far that she will get tough draws until she can climb back up. Case in point, she gets 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round. Bouchard looks better than she has in a year. But is she back to the level where she can beat Aga? We’ll soon find out.

Caroline Wozniacki


Caroline Wozniacki was in no mood for condolences after blowing an early lead and losing to Yulia Putintseva, 1-6 7-6 (3) 6-4. In fact, I’ll just stop talking about her loss and simply let Caro’s quote tell the tale:

“I would say it’s a pretty sh***y start to the season.” – Caroline Wozniacki

Ummm, yep.

YULIA PUTINTSEVA d. 16 Caroline Wozniacki, 1-6 7-6 (3) 6-4


EUGENIE BOUCHARD d. Aleksandra Krunic, 6-3 6-4


5 MARIA SHARAPOVA d. Nao Hibino, 6-3 6-1
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Old 01-18-2016, 11:08 PM   #7
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from my blog: Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza Get Off To Strong Starts At 2016 Australian Open

Garbine Muguruza


I was very excited for day two of the 2016 Australian Open, as probably my three favorite players, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep, would be in action. Up first were Maddie and Mugu. If Garbine was feeling the ill effects of her foot injury, it didn’t stop her from laying down an emphatic 6-0 6-4 win over Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. I love that Mugu is being coached by Sam Sumyk. If they can duplicate, or even exceed, the success he had with Victoria Azarenka in her best years, Gabi will be a future world #1 and multiple Major winner.

“Every time I hear I’m like ‘puhhhhh, yeah, whatever’. I really don’t know what to say. I feel good when people think that I can do it, but I’m like, ‘yeah, we’ll see.’” – Garbine Muguruza, responding to people saying she has what it takes to be world #1

Madison Keys


It’s also been said by many that 20-year old Madison Keys is a future world #1. That might be true, but I was sweating a little when she was down a couple of set points against Kazahkstan’s Zarina Diyas. But the talented American would battle back from 3-5 down to force a first set tiebreak, which she won. From then on, Maddie blitzed through the second set to take out Diyas, 7-6 (5) 6-1. It took Keys a little while to get going, committing too many first set unforced errors, but once she found her groove she showed why there is nobody in the world she can’t hit with when she’s on her game.

“I think being down set point almost helped me. I thought, ‘You’re down, keep playing. You can only lose the set.’ I definitely had to dig deep and figure it out.” – Madison Keys

15 MADISON KEYS d. Zarina Diyas, 7-6 (5) 6-1


3 GARBINE MUGURUZA d. Anett Kontaveit, 6-0 6-4
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Old 01-19-2016, 07:48 AM   #8
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more pics and video on my blog: Qualifier Zhang Shuai Shocks #2 Seed Simona Halep In The First Round Of The 2016 Australian Open; Ana Ivanovic Advances

Simona Halep


Chinese qualifier ZHANG Shuai came into the 2016 Australian Open with the worst record of any player in the top 300 player, 0-14. None of that mattered in Melbourne as she jumped all over world #2 Simona Halep in the first round, sprinting out to a 4-0 first set lead and holding on for a shocking 6-4 6-3 upset victory. Although Halepeno can have days like this from time to time, in no way did I see this coming. Zhang played with purpose and a strong baseline game that makes one wonder how she was 0-14, especially considering she does have a win over a reigning world #1 (Dinara Safina) in her past. She’s 5’10” with a nice variety of shots. Maybe it’s been mental for the soon to be 27-year old. We’ll see if she can back this up next round against the very tough Alize Cornet, who is coming off a title run at Hobart. Regardless, it was a wonderful win for a tour veteran. I love Simona Halep, but I also love seeing somebody achieve something they’ve worked so hard to reach.

Ana Ivanovic


After getting off to an 0-2 start in 2016, former world #1 Ana Ivanovic had a much needed first round win in Melbourne, defeating qualifier Tammi Patterson, 6-2 6-3. With Halep’s loss, this quarter of the draw is wide open. If Ana can beat another qualifier, Anastasija Sevastova, and Madison Keys can get by the dangerous Yaroslava Shvedova, fans would get a marquee third round showdown between Ana and Maddie. The winner would have a very good chance to get through to the quarters, although Alize Cornet is lurking in this section as well. We’ll see who steps up and takes advantage Zhang’s upset of Halep.

20 ANA IVANOVIC d. [Q] Tammi Patterson, 6-2 6-3


[Q] ZHANG SHUAI d. 2 Simona Halep, 6-4 6-3


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Old 01-20-2016, 07:53 AM   #9
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more pics on my blog: American Lauren Davis Reaches Third Round Of 2016 Australian Open, Will Face Maria Sharapova

Lauren Davis


When the discussion of which Americans can win the 2016 Australian Open comes up, it’s the usual suspects that are mentioned. Of course, Serena Williams leads all discussions concerning possible champions. Then there are the young players bursting with talent, waiting for a breakthrough like Madison Keys. A name not mentioned is Lauren Davis. Honestly, that’s understandable. To date, she’s never been past the third round of a Major. Also, she’s never won a WTA level event. But the 22-year old will get another chance as she finds herself in round three in Melbourne, when Magdalena Rybarikova retired after Davis won the first set of their second round clash. However, it was the Lauren’s first round win that turned heads, when she knocked out 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a player some thought could make a little noise if she started to roll in the draw. The 82nd ranked Davis would have arguably the biggest win of her career if she can come through in her next match.

Maria Sharapova


It will be a tall task as next up for Davis is 5-time Major champion Maria Sharapova. The 5th seeded Russian has run through her first two overmatched opponents like she means business…of course, the ultra-focused Masha always means business. I can’t wait to see the handshake at the net after the match if only to see the difference between one of the shortest women in the draw in Davis (5’2″) and one of the tallest in Sharapova (6’2″). Can Lauren really knock off Masha? Look, anything can happen. Is it likely? No. But this is why you compete…for these moments, these opportunities. If Davis beats Sharapova, the whole narrative around her career changes. Of course, she would have to keep winning. If that happens, maybe then her name will soon be included as a pre-tournament pick to win titles.

5 MARIA SHARAPOVA d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-2 6-1


LAUREN DAVIS d. Magdalena Rybarikova, 7-6 (7) 0-0 ret.
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Old 01-20-2016, 03:32 PM   #10
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I think that maybe it is time for Venus to hang it up at the end of the year.
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