Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crying For Kiwi

I never used to think much of Nicolas Kiefer, but my heart is absolutely breaking for him right now. Germany stood such a good chance of getting through to the Hopman Cup final, even though Lisicki did lose her match against Cibulkova, and then he had to go and just about snap his ankle in half... seriously, I nearly cried when he got wheeled off court with all that ice strapped to his leg. He just looked so sad - and it is such a crying shame, because that Germany/Slovak Republic tie was shaping up to be a real cracker. And this has to put him in doubt, if not totally out of contention, for the Aussie Open, and even though he hasn't been winning much this week, he has shown some superlative form and had some great battles. Poor Kiwi - and, by extension, poor Sabine Lisicki, robbed of her shot at the final because of some stupid accident.
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That means, of course, that the finalists of the Hopman Cup will be the Slovak team of Cibulkova and Hrbaty, and (hurrah!) Russia, who went 3-0 in the group stages, despite going 2-1 every time. This time the 1 was Safin losing to Simon, but that wasn't wholly unexpected - not only is Marat Marat, but Simon is a top ten player and in pretty good nick right now. So it all hinged on the doubles - a Russian win would see them through, a French straight sets win would see the French through and a three set win would see the Italians through. But even though I stand firmly by my claim that Marat = crap at doubles, he turned it up a notch (thanks Dinara - I think we have you to be grateful for!) and they pulled it out, those plucky siblings. So of course I am madly excited for the final tonight - though it is a shame that we won't see the Germans there. I was looking forward to a Lisicki/Safina rematch, considering what happened at last year's Aussie Open... and also I think Lisicki is a genuine Star of the Future. Actually, she is going to be my first female inductee into the Stars club. You heard it here first!
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Meanwhile, how about fuzzy Gael Monfils taking out the Rafinator in Doha? I so did not expect that one. I suppose Monfils is a genuinely dangerous player when he's on song, but he's on song so rarely that I thus rarely consider him a major danger - and Rafa isn't someone that has many off-days. I didn't see the match so I can't really comment, but what happened? Did La Monf play insanely well or did Rafa crash and burn?
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Roger, on the other hand, got through pretty comfortably against Kohlschreiber by the looks of things. He'll meet Murray now, and with Rafa out, this really is the final. You've got to back whomever comes through this one to take out the winner of La Monf and Roddick - and my money is, as always, on the Mighty Mighty Fed. This'd be a great start to the season - and the more points he can put between himself and that damn beatnik Djokovic the better, in my book, especially now Djokovic has that wildcard into Sydney... I hope he loses early there too. Because that would be funny.
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Marin Cilic is flying the Star flag high and proud in Chennai - here's hoping he can fly it all the way to the title! Kei Nishikori, unfortunately, went down to Paul-Henri Mathieu in Brisbane, but I suppose we can't have everything. Paulo really has been a Star-killer this week, taking out two of my best boys! But he has been playing very well - he was outstanding in his match against Gulbis. He has a great backhand - I'd never really noticed before. He'll play Verdasco next, and I would not be surprised if Nando went the same way as his girl - that is, down. Apparently Ana is seeking treatment for stomach problems... I would be seeking ball toss therapy if I were her. Not to belittle the rest of her game or anything, but if you have such a fundamental part of your serve so manky, then surely it's going to affect everything else...?
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And kudos to Anne Keothavong for being the first British woman in about nine thousand years to make it to the semis of a tournament - even if it was by retirement! I'll be pulling for her to win the title... yeah, it's the Brit in me. So sue me.
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Today's Results
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Harry Hopman Cup (Perth)
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Russia 2, France 1
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Dinara Safina def. Alize Cornet, 6-3 6-2
Gilles Simon def. Marat Safin, 7-6 (7-5) 6-3
Safina/Safin def. Cornet/Simon, 6-4 6-3
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Slovak Republic 3, Germany 0
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Dominika Cibulkova def. Sabine Lisicki, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4
Dominik Hrbaty def. Nicolas Kiefer, 1-3 retired
Cibulkova/Hrbaty def. Lisicki/Kiefer, walkover
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USA 2, Australia 1
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Casey Dellacqua def. Meghann Shaughnessy, 6-3 6-4
James Blake def. Lleyton Hewitt, 6-2 6-2
Shaughnessy/Blake def. Dellacqua/Hewitt, 6-3 5-7 10-6 (match tiebreaker)
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Italy 3, Chinese Taipei 0
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Flavia Pennetta def. Hsieh Su-Wei, 7-5 6-3
Simone Bolelli def. Lu Yen-Hsun, walkover
Pennetta/Bolelli def. Hsieh/Lu, walkover
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Brisbane International (Brisbane)
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Men's Draw
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Fernando Verdasco def. Florent Serra, 4-6 6-0 6-3
Paul-Henri Mathieu def. Kei Nishikori, 6-3 6-4
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Women's Draw
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Amélie Mauresmo def. Ana Ivanovic, 6-3 6-2
Victoria Azarenka def. Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (7-5) 6-4
Marion Bartoli def. Tathiana Garbin, 6-3 6-3
Sara Errani def. Olga Govortsova, 6-3 6-3
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Chennai Open (Chennai)
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Marin Cilic def. Denis Istomin, 6-0 6-4
Ivo Karlovic def. Ivo Minar, 6-1 6-4
Rainer Schuettler def. Simon Greul, 6-4 6-2
Somdev Devvarman def. Carlos Moya, 4-6 7-5 6-4
Janko Tipsarevic def. Dudi Sela, 7-6 (7-3) 6-4
Marcel Granollers def. Andreas Beck, 6-4 6-1
Bjorn Phau def. Flavio Cipolla, 6-1 6-2
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Qatar Exxonmobil Open (Doha)
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Gael Monfils def. Rafael Nadal, 6-4 6-4
Roger Federer def. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-2 7-6 (8-6)
Andy Murray def. Sergiy Stakhovsky, 6-4 6-2
Andy Roddick def. Victor Hanescu, 6-3 6-2
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ASB Classic (Auckland)
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Elena Dementieva def. Shahar Peer, 6-3 6-1
Elena Vesnina def. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3 0-6 6-3
Anne Keothavong def. Ayumi Morita, 6-0 retired
Aravane Rezai def. Edina Gallovits, 6-3 6-2

1 comment:

TopSpin said...

Monfils won today by playing a brand of tennis that has long eluded him and for which I guess you have to credit Rasheed.

He was if you remember a little too trigger happy when he first broke on to the tour and though his tremendous shotmaking potential was evident then, the amount of errors that accompanied it put me (along with many others I suspect) off him.

Then last year he reigned in some of that erratic play but became perhaps a little too subdued - too loopy and grinding for my liking.

The main reason for his win today was his forceful flat aggressive returns (Nadal's struggled with those in the past), like he used to hit around 2-3 years ago, but it was a mature measured performance which also saw elegant looking lobs and drop volleys.

If he continues in this vein he'll trouble others too...