Sights & Smells

?Just two years removed from a fourth-round showing at Flushing Meadows, it was strange to see Kei Nishikori engaged in qualifying. Another odd sight: Camera crews at this stage of the competition. But it comes with the territory for Nishikori, who as an 18-year-old in 2008 became the first Japanese man to win an ATP tournament since Shuzo Matsuoka in 1992. Look for the oft-injured talent to reach the main draw. Hampered by injuries of late, Nishikori was ranked No. 898 in March. He?s since shot up to No. 149.?One of the few types of cuisine lacking at the U.S. Open was barbecue. Until now. This year, fans of brisket and pulled pork can plop down $10 for a sandwich with chips, among other smoky options. My meal didn?t lack for meat, sauce or taste, and I recommend trying one of your own if you head to the food village this year.?I?ve taken the subway to the U.S. Open the past three years and have yet to see a player aboard (at least one that I?ve recognized). There weren?t any on the westbound 7 train Tuesday evening, but I did spot chair umpire Steve Ulrich on his way back to Manhattan. After a long day at the grounds, he sat down, relaxed and gazed upon the numerous distractions of the Flushing Line car: advertisements, bilingual service advisories, other passengers. Aside from the itinerant lifestyle and wonderful voice, he?s just like you and me.?Ed McGrogan

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2010 U.S. Open: Editors' Picks

The editors of TENNIS magazine and TENNIS.com predict this year's U.S. Open champions:

Steve TignorExecutive Editor

Roger Federer: He's played with renewed confidence this summer, and the only guy to break him down at Flushing Meadows in the last six years, Juan Martin del Potro, isn't around.

Maria Sharapova: It's been a long process, but she?s reached something close to her best recently. No one will benefit more from Serena Williams' absence.

Sarah UnkeEditor, TENNIS.com

Rafael Nadal: The men's field is strong, but at the French Open and Wimbledon, Nadal proved himself strongest. He's been saving himself for the Open, and his career Slam, this hard-court season. And let's face it: With Nadal's determination and talent, he's bound to win the U.S. Open sometime.

Venus Williams: It's been two years since Williams won a Slam, but her quarter is looking cushy, aside from Victoria Azarenka and that pesky Tsvetana Pironkova. A 29-year-old won the French Open. Why can't a 30-year-old win the U.S. Open?

Peter BodoSenior Editor

Roger Federer: Federer reasserted his authority these past few weeks, reaching one final and winning the other (both Masters events) in the only two tournaments he's played since Wimbledon. It's a reaffirmation of his fast-court prowess, something that is still beyond the reach of his main rival, Nadal.

Victoria Azarenka: Although I like Sharapova's spirit and combative mentality, Azarenka, while certainly a work in progress, really seems to have all the goods when it comes to the contemporary women's game: Good if not outstanding movement, very clean, grooved strokes, a solid serve and power galore. If her head stays screwed on, she may break through to win her first major.

Bill GraySenior Editor

Roger Federer: I admit to cluelessness after going 0-6 on these picks so far this year. So I'm deferring to a higher authority. Here's the take from No. 8 seed Fernando Verdasco: "I will say Federer and Nadal and the third, me. I think the surface is better for Roger?it's not like really grippy, the ball doesn't get much spin, so that?s better for Roger's game. If I need to say one I'd say Roger has more chances because of the court."

Kim Clijsters: Fernando again, based on his solid reputation as a ladies man: "Clijsters or Caroline Wozniacki. Clijsters won in Cincinnati and she's the defending champion. Wozniacki won last week [in Montreal] and she's playing great. If I need to say three, it would be Clijsters, Wozniacki and Sharapova." [Note: Wozniacki and Sharapova could face off in the round of 16, but neither would meet Clijsters until the final.]

David RosenbergPhoto Editor

Andy Murray: Murray might have some trouble with Tomas Berdych, but I think he'll get by him, once again handle Nadal on hard courts, and not make it 0-3 against Federer in Slam finals.

Maria Sharapova: Sharapova has had some tough early-round draws since she's come back, and she'll play a bunch of hard hitters before meeting Wozniacki in the fourth round. She'll probably have to play Azarenka or Clijsters at the end, both of whom have beaten her this summer in finals. She has slowly gotten herself closer to her best and should peak in the final.

Ed McGroganAssistant Editor, TENNIS.com

Roger Federer: Each time Federer has won Cincinnati, he's followed it up with a trip to the U.S. Open final. When he does so again this year, don't expect another shocking loss in the final, whether he plays Nadal or anyone else.

Kim Clijsters: The defending champion shouldn't have much trouble reaching the semis. And in the final two rounds, where the stakes are highest, she'll have the mental and physical edge.

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Robson fails Spanish test

Laura Robson failed to qualify for the main draw at the US Open after a three-set defeat to Nuria Llagostera Vives.

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Novak Djokovic ends Rendy Lu Yen-hsun's fairytale run

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Venus won't play doubles or mixed at U.S. Open

Venus Williams says she is not playing either the women's doubles or the mixed doubles event at the U.S. Open.
Williams usually partners younger sister Serena in the women's doubles but has not played mixed doubles since early in her career. "This would have been the prefect opportunity to play mixed," she said. "I really want to, but I just need to play one event [singles] right now."
Venus has not played since Wimbledon because of a knee injury, pulling out of both her scheduled appearances in Cincinnati and Montreal.

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Uh oh, malfunction wardrobe... guess who?

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Big thanks to Van Sias from Tennis Talk Anyone for his report and photos from yesterday evening’s Maria Sharapova for evian event. Still thirsty? Check out more Van’s work here. Youth Is Served with Maria Sharapova and Evian By Van Sias Hey everyone, it?s GTT NYC correspondent (if that?s what we?re calling me!) Van here, [...]

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US Open Series Champs

GettyKim Clijsters of Belgium poses with the trophy after defeating Maria Sharapova of Russia 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the singles final match on day seven of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open on August 15, 2010 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.::Sharapova wasted three match points?ReutersAndy Murray of Britain holds the winners trophy after beating Roger Federer of Switzerland 7-5, 7-5 in their final match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto August 15, 2010.::Saw most of the first set and a bit of the second before rain suspended play. Was interesting to hear Darren Cahill making excuses for Roger Federer after he dropped the first set.And the melody still lingers on....

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Stakhovsky ousts Baghdatis to make the Pilot Pen semi final.

Sergiy Stakhovsky, the No. 9 seed, did double duty Thursday at Pilot Pen Tennis to book his place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tournament. “I would say we were both tired,” said Stakhovsky. “It was really an exhausting match, not only physically. I would say that if I would be [...]

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It Must Be Love all over again

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HCFoo wants Spain to win World Cup 2010

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Venus Williams to be at Macy's Herald Square in NYC on Thursday

Venus Williams will be at Macy's Herald Square in NYC this Thursday to celebrate POLO Ralph Lauren's new line of tennis apparel. The tennis champion will be on hand to meet with fans in the Men?s POLO Ralph Lauren department.
Starting at 6 pm, shoppers will have the opportunity to mingle with Venus Williams, and any [...]

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A Short History of Hard Court Grand Slam Play

Due to Lendl winning Down Under to start 1990, Pete Sampras became only the sixth man to win a hard court slam at the 1990 U.S. Open. It may just be me, but for Sampras to be only the sixth man to win a slam on hard courts despite 15 grand slam events having been contested on hard courts prior to the 1990 U.S. Open seems odd. Even more astounding to me is Patrick Rafter becoming only the tenth man to win a Grand Slam on a hard court when he won the 1997 U.S. Open title.

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Wozniacki rallies to beat Dementieva in New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP)?U.S. Open top seed Caroline Wozniacki rallied from a break down in the third set to beat Elena Dementieva 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Friday night, earning her third consecutive trip to the finals of the Pilot Pen tennis tournament.
The tournament?s two-time defending champion is 12-0 in her three trips to New Haven.
Dementieva has been to these semifinals four times and lost all four.
The Russian appeared to be cruising early, breaking Wozniacki in her first two service games of the match and again in the final game of the first set. But the Danish star responded with a service break of her own in the opening game of the second set, and won the set when neither player could hold serve during the final four games.
Dementieva got an early lead in the final set and was serving for the match at 5-4.
?I just told myself, `Keep fighting,?? Wozniacki said. ?She still has to win four more points to win the match so you?re still in there.?
Wozniacki took that game, then went up 6-5. But she couldn?t finish off Dementieva, who fought off three match points, and went up 3-0 in the tiebreaker before Wozniacki rallied for the win.
After winning last week in Montreal and making another run here, Wozniacki said she?s not feeling the pressure of being the top seed when the Open gets under way next week.
?Pressure is when you?re put in a spot and you don?t really feel like you belong there,? she said. ?When you really believe that you belong there, that you can do the things you have to do, there?s no pressure. You just go out there and play.?
She will face Russian Nadia Petrova in Saturday?s final. The No. 19 player in the world, who was a last-minute wild-card entry to the tournament, beat Maria Kirilenko 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Kirilenko broke Petrova twice in the first set, but said she felt a pain in her back after lunging for a ball. She took a medical timeout in the second set and had a hard time moving.
?I made a very fast movement and then I start to feel it even more,? she said. ?Then I couldn?t even bend at all. Then it went a little bit better when the (trainer) came out. But still I decided to continue because no reason, you know, just even if you have a pain, you have to try.?
Kirilenko said she would have her back looked at before deciding her status for the U.S. Open.
Petrova found her serve in the second set and cruised from there.
?I saw she had difficulties moving,? Petrova said. ?So that was my first goal, keep her on the run, make her stretch, use my serve as a weapon, try to win as many free shots as possible. Then put pressure on her serve, try to be a little bit more aggressive so she has to come up with the amazing shot.?
Petrova received the final entry to the tournament after Ana Ivanovic withdrew last week with an ankle injury. She called the opportunity to play a ?great gift? and has turned it into her first finals appearance since 2008.
?Has it been that long ago?? she said. ?I?ve played decent tennis throughout those years. I?ve had good wins. But just maybe I was a little bit out of luck.?
In the men?s draw, Sergiy Stakhovsky moved into the finals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands.
The ninth-seeded Ukrainian took advantage of the only break point in the first set and broke de Bakker again in the seventh game of the second set.
?I was really lucky to catch that return,? he said of his first break. ?I mean, I guess I just decided where he was serving, so I went for it. It went in, thanks God. It was a really important point for me. I close out the set with my serve and started fresh from the second.?
Stakhovsky has played in four semifinals in his career and has won all of them. He is 3-0 in finals, including in Hertogenbosch this year, and is hoping that streak continues Saturday.
?I can?t really say what it takes,? he said. ?It just takes, I don?t know what, but I?m trying to get that.?
Stakhovsky will play Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the final. He beat Serbia?s Viktor Troicki 7-6 (10), 3-6, 6-2.
Istomin said he was having trouble seeing the ball coming out of the sun and into the shadows of the stadium court through the first two sets, but played better in the third.
He hit a drop shot in the sixth game to break Troicki, and broke him again in the final game to reach his first ATP final. After the match, he credited part of his success to his coach, who also happens to be his mother.
?For now I don?t know if I can practice with other coaches because I feel very good with Mom, really understanding together,? he said. ?It?s very good.?

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Wozniacki, Clijsters top two seeds at U.S. Open

NEW YORK (AP)?Caroline Wozniacki has been seeded No. 1 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, getting the top spot at the U.S. Open because Serena Williams pulled out injured.
Wozniacki is ranked No. 2 behind Williams by the WTA. She was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows last year and is the first woman since 2003 to be seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open without having won a major.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters is No. 2 in the seedings released Tuesday by the U.S. Tennis Association. She is followed by 2000-01 winner Venus Williams and 2008 runner-up Jelena Jankovic.
The seedings adhere strictly to the rankings.
Rafael Nadal is the No. 1-seeded man, with Roger Federer at No. 2.
The U.S. Open begins Monday.

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US Open 2010 Men's Draw

by SavannahRafael Nadal ESP (1) v Teymuraz Gabashvili RUS Maximo Gonzalez ARG v Denis Istomin UZB Gilles Simon FRA v Donald Young USA Tobias Kamke GER v Philipp Kohlschreiber GER (29) Feliciano Lopez ESP (23) v Santiago Giraldo COL Rainer Schuettler GER v Qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky UKR v Peter Luczak AUS Qualifier v Ivan Ljubicic CRO (15) David Ferrer ESP (10) v Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR Benjamin Becker GER v Daniel Brands GER Jarkko Nieminen FIN v Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP Jeremy Chardy FRA v Ernests Gulbis LAT (24) David Nalbandian ARG (31) v Qualifier Florent Serra FRA v Florian Mayer GER Pere Riba ESP v Qualifier Fabio Fognini ITA v Fernando Verdasco ESP (8) Andy Murray GBR (4) v Lukas Lacko SVK Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo ESP v Dustin Brown JAM Juan Ignacio Chela ARG v Yen-Hsun Lu TPE Mikhail Kukushkin KAZ v Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (25) Sam Querrey USA (20) v Bradley Klahn USA Marcel Granollers ESP v Andreas Seppi ITA Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ESP v Lukasz Kubot POL Potito Starace ITA v Nicolas Almagro ESP (14) Mikhail Youzhny RUS (12) v Andrey Golubev KAZ Dudi Sela ISR v Xavier Malisse BEL Jack Sock USA v Marco Chiudinelli SUI Frederico Gil POR v John Isner USA (18) Radek Stepanek CZE (28) v Julien Benneteau FRA Tommy Robredo ESP v Qualifier Victor Hanescu ROU v Carlos Berlocq ARG Michael Llodra FRA v Tomas Berdych CZE (7) Nikolay Davydenko RUS (6) v Michael Russell USA Simon Greul GER v Richard Gasquet FRA Kevin Anderson RSA v Somdev Devvarman IND Tim Smyczek USA v Thomaz Bellucci BRA (26) Gael Monfils FRA (17) v QualifierIgor Andreev RUS v Horacio Zeballos ARG Janko Tipsarevic SRB v Olivier Rochus BEL Stephane Robert FRA v Andy Roddick USA (9) Marcos Baghdatis CYP (16) v Arnaud Clement FRA Eduardo Schwank ARG v Robby Ginepri USA Pablo Cuevas URU v Qualifier Jan Hajek CZE v Mardy Fish USA (19) Juan Monaco ARG (30) v Qualifier Kristof Vliegen BEL v James Blake USA Philipp Petzschner GER v Qualifier Viktor Troicki SRB v Novak Djokovic SRB (3) Robin Soderling SWE (5) v Qualifier Taylor Dent USA v Alejandro Falla COL Thiemo de Bakker NED v Qualifier Qualifier v Fernando Gonzalez CHI (27) Albert Montanes ESP (21) v Michal Przysiezny POL Carsten Ball AUS v Qualifier Qualifier v Evgeny Korolev KAZ Illya Marchenko UKR v Marin Cilic CRO (11) Jurgen Melzer AUT (13) v Dmitry Tursunov RUS Qualifier v Ryan Sweeting USA Bjorn Phau GER v Ricardo Mello BRA Qualifier v Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP (22) Lleyton Hewitt AUS (32) v Paul-Henri Mathieu FRA Leonardo Mayer ARG v Guillaume Rufin FRA Michael Berrer GER v Andreas Beck GER Brian Dabul ARG v Roger Federer SUI (2)

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Federer recruits coach Annacone

Roger Federer hires Paul Annacone as his coach on a full-time basis after a successful one-month trial period.

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2010 Malaysian Open Tennis Tournament

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Federer Defends Cincinnati Title Over Fish

Roger Federer won his first non-major final of the year after losing 3 finals in a row (on 3 different surfaces: Madrid to Rafael Nadal, Halle to Lleyton Hewitt and Toronto to Andy Murray) in Cincinnati on Sunday over American Mardy Fish. The title was his 53rd overall, tying Bjorn Borg on the all-time list at 5th. It was Federer's 17th ATP Masters series title, tying Andre Agassi but still one behind Nadal's 18.
Federer has now won the Cincinnati title in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Next year it will become a combined male-female 8-day event (immediately following simultaneous men's and women's tournaments in Toronto and Montreal).
The match with Fish was a close, high-quality 3-set affair featuring 2 tiebreaks, one break of serve and only 6 breakpoints between the two players. The final score was 6-7(5) 7-6(1) 6-4. In the first set, Federer had 4 breakpoints and failed to convert any of them due to brilliant serving by Fish. Federer faced one breakpoint in the second set but was able to get through to a tiebreak. In the first set tiebreaker Federer held a 5-4 lead, but Fish played a brilliant point to even the breaker at 5-all and Federer played a loose point to be down 6-5. Fish won the first set on a service winner. In the second set tiebreaker Federer was much sharper, jumping to a quick 4-1 lead and never looked in danger of losing that breaker. The only break in the match came in the 9th game of the third set where, for once, after facing a break point Fish was unable to make a first serve and eventually lost the breakpoint and the game, and eventually the match when Federer served it out pretty easily on his second match point.

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Safina beats Schiavone in New Haven; Oudin out

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP)?Russian Dinara Safina upset French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round of the Pilot Pen tennis tournament Monday.
Safina?s win came less than a week after she lost in straight sets to Schiavone in Montreal. She has been hampered all year by a back injury.
?When you lose a match and you say, ?God, I wish I could replay this match to play one more time to do the things different,?? she said. ?And I got this chance to play (Schiavone) here.?
Nadia Petrova of Russia rallied to beat Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Petrova was a late addition to the field after an ankle injury forced Ana Ivanovic to withdraw.
?It?s been actually, an amazing opportunity, because I feel like I need a few matches before the U.S. Open,? Petrova said.
Russia?s Elena Dementieva almost missed the start of her first-round match and had to be tracked down on the practice courts. She then went out and beat Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
?Yesterday, we were waiting more than 10 hours, practicing indoors, expecting to be playing today indoors,? she said. ?I feel lucky to be second on and finish the match.?
U.S. teenager Melanie Oudin lost 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to lucky loser Dominka Cibulkova of Slovakia. Oudin, 18, was hoping to get in a few more matches before heading back to the U.S. Open, where she became America?s darling last year with a run to the quarterfinals.
In the men?s draw, two-time Pilot Pen champion James Blake, who grew up in nearby Fairfield, beat Pere Riba of Spain 6-0, 6-1 in just 35 minutes?the fastest completed match on the ATP Tour this season.
?I tend to always play fast,? Blake said. ?The wins end up being a lot quicker; the losses end up being quicker too.?
Fellow American Donald Young also had an easy first round, beating Stephane Robert of France 6-1, 6-2.
Monday?s late night feature pitted Dinara Safina against French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
Cibulkova moves on to face two-time defending champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the second round. Wozniacki was still in Montreal on Monday, where she played two matches, winning the rain-delayed Rogers Cup 6-3, 6-2 over Vera Zvonareva.

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Andy Roddick pulls a Britney, shaves head

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**UPDATE** Re: ROGERS CUP semifinals and final schedule. As of Sunday, August 22: The women are marooned in Montreal, rain having pushed back both the Rogers Cup semis and finals until Monday. Per the Rogers Cup website, the semifinals Caroline Wozniacki vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Victoria Azarenka vs. Vera Zvonareva are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. [...]

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Wozniacki on track to earn the $1 million bonus!

Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the semfinals of the Pilot Pen on Thursday after Flavia Pennetta withdrew from the tournament with an injury to her right foot. By moving into the final four, Wozniacki clinches the Open Series and is eligible to win an extra $1 million should she win next week’s U.S. Open, where she [...]

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Murray named fourth seed

British No.1 Andy Murray has been named as the fourth seed for the US Open.

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Alona Bondarenko and Nikolay Dyachok share their wedding photos

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour posted a selection of photos from the wedding of Alona Bondarenko and her coach Nikolay Dyachok. The wedding took place in July and now we get to see that Alona had a wedding dress afterall, although the news was that they got married in an informal ceremony wearing jeans.

In the [...]

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Big thanks to Van Sias from Tennis Talk Anyone for his report and photos from yesterday evening’s Maria Sharapova for evian event. Still thirsty? Check out more Van’s work here. Youth Is Served with Maria Sharapova and Evian By Van Sias Hey everyone, it?s GTT NYC correspondent (if that?s what we?re calling me!) Van here, [...]

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First Justine Henin bows out of the the entire 2010 season and now, Serena Williams has pulled out of the 2010 US Open due to her foot injury according to the Associated Press. The hardcourt season for the WTA has seen better days. Some quotes from Serena Williams press release: “It is with much frustration [...]

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O'Brien advances

British number two Katie O'Brien reached the second round of qualifying for the US Open after a three-set win over Lesya Tsurenko.

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Caroline Wozniacki Interview:?I Never Look at the Draw? [Video]

Caroline Wozniacki takes part in a pre-tournament interview at the Rogers Cup.

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Wozniacki carries her winning form into the US Open as the #1 seed

Caroline Wozniacki cruised to victory in the Rogers Cup final with an assured 6-3 6-2 win over Russia’s Vera Zvonareva in Montreal. Both players dropped serve early on, before Wozniacki edged decisively ahead with a break in the fourth game. The second seed was equally clinical in the second set, converting break points in third [...]

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HCFoo wants Spain to win World Cup 2010

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2010 Malaysian Open Tennis Tournament

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Roddick: Hard Work Equals Longevity

Ricky Carioti-The Washington Post::A rather nice article. Like him or not, Andy Roddick has worked as hard as any player to remain fit, focused, and hungry for major tennis success.Legg Mason Tennis Classic: Hard work has kept Andy Roddick aroundAndy Roddick returns to the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in search of his fourth title at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.By Liz ClarkeWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, August 2, 2010Even before last year's loss to Roger Federer in the longest, most soul-sapping singles final in Wimbledon history, Andy Roddick wondered if his best had passed him by.The only way to find out, he decided at a particularly low point in the summer of 2008, was to keep working.And that may well prove the legacy of Roddick's career, remembered as the player who poured as much effort into slogging away at the daily drudgery of professional tennis as he did reveling in its spoils.At 27, Roddick is far from retirement, to be sure. But after a decade as a touring pro, the ethic of his career is well established.If ever a millionaire athlete married to a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model could be mistaken for a working-class guy, Roddick is it.Read the rest...::Jonathan Newton-The Washington Post

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WIMBLEDON 2010: Men's Semifinals Preview

BY MAD PROFESSAHHere are my predictions for the men's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2010.I previously made predictions for the men's quarterfinals (1 of 4 correct) and the women's quarterfinals (2 of 4 correct).(I have now arrived in London and I have tickets for the men's final on Sunday.)Roger Federer SUI (1) Tomas Berdych CZE (12) vs. Novak Djokovic SRB (3). For the first time since 2002(!), Roger Federer will not be playing in the Wimbledon Men's Final. (Of course, this is the year I travelled to Wimbledon after getting lucky to get tickets to the men's final. Did I bring him my favorite player bad luck?) Anyway, After winning 23 consecutive major quarterfinals, the 16-time major champion has now lost the last two he has played in a row, to two somewhat similar opponents, the hard-hitting giants Robin Soderling (in Paris) and Tomas Berdych (in London). Unlike at Roland Garros, where Federer clearly did not play his best and was blasted off the court, at Wimbledon Federer was defeated while still playing about as well as he's played most of the year. (Which is to say, not his best ever, but possibly the best he can do right now.) His failure to defend his two major titles from last year (and the fact he has won only won tournament all year, the 2010 Australian Open) means that the former World #1 will fall to World #3 in the rankings on Monday. This means that Federer will remain stuck one heartbreaking week behind matching Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks at #1 for the foreseeable future. Will he ever get there? I believe so. And it may just be what keeps the Swiss master in the game until the 2010 London Olympics as he has promised before. Berdych has started a streak of his own; for the second consecutive major the Czech player has made the semifinals. Berdych played an astonishing match against Federer, hitting 51 winners to Federer's 44 and only making 23 unforced errors to Federer's 18 (and 6 of those were double faults by Berdych going for second serves). Although I predicted a different match-up, I am not unduly upset by what transpired today, I do believe the better player on the day won the match. As expected, with the shock defeat of Andy Roddick by Yen-Hsun Lu in the previous round, World #3 Novak Djokovic had an easy time of it to reach his second Wimbledon semifinal. Berdych and Djokovic have only played twice (a curiously low number for active players) with Djokovic having never lost. Can Berdych come back from the greatest victory of his career to date to reach his first major final? The Czech has suffered from mental frailty in the past, but is clearly playing some of his best tennis ever. Djokovic, too, is playing some excellent tennis and definitely has the game to make the most of this rare opportunity to reach his third major final (2007 US Open, 2008 Australian Open) without having to face a higher ranked player. However, he, too, has had some notably poor performances in massively important matches (the 2010 Roland Garros quarterfinal loss to Jurgen Melzer from two sets up comes to mind, as well as injury retirements at Wimbledon.) The real question is whether Berdych is on an unstoppable Juan Martin del Potro run to his first major, or will he come back to earth after beating the Greatest of all time on his best surface? PREDICTION: Djokovic (in 4 sets).Jo-Wilfried Tsonga FRA (10) Andy Murray GBR (4) vs. Robin Soderling SWE(6) Rafael Nadal ESP (2). The bottom half of the draw is where I bravely (foolishly?) predicted that upsets would happen. The mouth-watering Friday tea-time match-up between World #1 Rafael Nadal and World #1 Andy Murray was predicted at the beginning of the tournament by many. But they both had to go through some excellent players to get there. Murray lost his first set of the tournament in a tiebreak to the excessively talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and was two points away at 5-all from losing the second set tie-break when The Frenchman inexplicably let a floating Murray service return sail past him at the net only to watch with horror and disbelief as the ball kissed the back of the line to give Murray set point instead. The rest of the match was not pretty, with Murray dominating to a 6-7(5) 7-6)5) 6-2 6-2 win. I didn't see much of the Soderling-Nadal match (since in London all eyes were geared towards their countryman's match) but from all reports Nadal started very slowly (down 0-5) in the first set but managed to break back early in the second set. Despite serving for the second set (after Soderling was treated for a blister on his left foot) at 5-4 Nadal only barely managed to eke out the third set tiebreak and then rolled past a demoralized Soderling to win 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-1. With Federer out, Nadal has an excellent chance to win the tournament, as he has winning records against all the remaining players in the draw (7-3 versus both Murray and Berdych, 14-7 versus Djokovic--which happens to be the identical record he has against Federer). However, Murray is probably the toughest opponent for Nadal at this stage of the tournament. There's no question that Murray was on his way to demolishing Nadal earlier this year in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals when the Spaniard retired down 2 sets and 0-3. The two haven't played since, with Nadal having his best clay court season to date, and Murray his worst. Happily Wimbledon is played on grass. Additionally, the fact that Murray beat Nadal the last time they played and that this is a semifinal, not a final should help the Brit play his best tennis this year, something Murray did not do against an inspired Andy Roddick last year. Nadal has already lost the most amount of sets that he ever has on his way to winning (or defending) a major title. The 2008 Wimbledon champion has been uncharacteristically irritable and complained of pain his knees. On the other hand, Murray has lost the fewest amount of sets of any of the Top 4 players at Wimbledon this year and has been advancing later and later into the draw at Wimbledon every time he has played it. I expect that trend to continue all the way to the final, and possibly the title this year. PREDICTION: Murray in 3 or 4 sets (or Nadal in 5 sets).

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Federer wins Cincinnati Masters

Roger Federer beats Mardy Fish in three sets in the Cincinnati Masters final to win his first tournament since the Australian Open in January.

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WIMBLEDON 2010: Men's Final Preview

Tomas Berdych CZE (12) vs. Rafael Nadal ESP (2). For the first time I will be watching a grand slam final live, on site. Sadly, it is also the first time in 8 years that my favorite male player Roger Federer will not be in the Wimbledon men's final. It's also doubtful that this year's final will be as monumental a battle as the 2008 classic now called "the match of the century" won by Rafael Nadal or Federer's 2009 triumph of will over Andy Roddick.I have previously predicted the results of the quarterfinals (1 of 4) and semifinals (0 of 2), so clearly I've not been having great results in predicting the men's matches this year. It's also difficult to pick a winner between Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal. On paper, Nadal should win since he has a 7-3 career head-to-head record against the young Czech. However, clearly Berdych is not the same player who has lost to Nadal 7 times.Berdych is playing in his first Grand Slam final, which very few people win (Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have all failed to do so. Juan Martin del Potro is the exception which proves the rule.) The great ones (like Federer and Nadal) do. Will Berdych be following in the footsteps of his countryman Ivan Lendl and become a late-blooming great?[Correction by Craig Hickman: In addition to del Potro, Rafa and Raja, Andy Roddick (USO 2003), Lleyton Hewitt (US Open 2001), and Gaston Gaudio (Roland Garros 2004) are all active players who won their first Slam final. Of the recently officially retired, Gustavo Kuerten (Roland Garros 1997), Marat Safin (US Open 2001), Thomas Johansson (Australian Open 2002) and Albert Costa (Roland Garros 2002) did as well. Some of these players are great, some are not.]If Berdych wins today, he will become the first player to beat the World #3, World #2 and World #1 to win a slam. This would definitely be an indication he is on his way to a Lendly-like career, instead of a Soderling-like career. If Nadal wins today, he will have completed the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the second time, will have a 14-match undefeated streak at Wimbledon and will have claimed his 8th Grand Slam title, just 8 behind Roger Federer, despite being 5 years his junior.MadProfessah's prediction: Nadal (in 3 or 4 sets).

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The Best Organic Surface Player

by peytonallen GettyThe Joker was overcome by nerves. He rarely went for his shots which was surprising. He seemed content to just get balls back in play and hope Tomas [Berdych] missed. [Novak Djokovic] seemed swallowed whole by the occasion. Hats off to Berdych. Nice to see a new face in a slam final. APNot sure how much of a chance he has Sunday. I said earlier this year [Rafael] Nadal's comeback wouldn't start until he got back onto the salt of the Earth. He seems poised to take the Euro double again and as Craig said he's hands down the best organic surface player, maybe since Borg. It's stunning to think about the '07 Wimby final, or even the '06. He's a few points away from going for his 3rd or 4th title right now.For as much talk about the future of tennis being giant men flinging new age rackets with ease, there's a great percentage the first three slams of the year will still be won by Nadal and Roger Federer.I don't think the second semifinal was as close as the score indicated. [Andy] Murray served out of his head to keep both sets close. But really for three sets once the rally was even it was all Nadal all day. He brutalized Murray with that lefty forehand. Down the line, hooked cross-court, the depth, the power, the sheer confidence the stroke was hit with today was stunning.Nobody moves as well on grass as Nadal does right now, and maybe nobody volleys as well. From ball one he was the aggressor. APAndy did not play poorly, but its clear he doesn't have a weapon off the baseline. I agree with [graf_sampras], it's a great crowd and they deserve to have a champion and one day Andy will take home a Major title, but right now he's simply not in the same grass court league as Rafa is in.I don't think a lot of pundits really realize how great Nadal is on this surface. The crew, sans Bee Jay [Brad Gilbert] (quiet Craig), all went with Murray. And I don't see NBC pushing the story of Rafa engaging in a true defense of his title. What if he played last year? What if they had a roof in '07? I know tennis can write a different history with 'what if's' but Rafa has been the best player at this event for some time now. If he wins Sunday will people finally admit as much?Berdych has a puncher's chance, but Rafa has improved with every match, and when he unleashed the running, leaping fist pump in round 2 I knew he was locked in mentally. He wants this title and Sunday he gets it.AP

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