Thursday, 27 August 2009

Off Court Photos: Anna Kournikova

Off Court Photos: Vera Zvonareva


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Spotlight On ... Laura Robson

After claiming the 2008 Girls’ Singles title at Wimbledon, Laura Robson became the youngest champion since Martina Hingis. The fourteen-year-old Brit had been making waves on the junior circuit for a while already, having won four titles and made the final of several other tournaments. This was her biggest junior title to date though, and her first ever junior Grand Slam event. She rose from # 36 to #5 on the ITF junior rankings following her Wimbledon success.

She was born in Australia but moved to the UK as a child and now competes for Great Britain. Laura made her professional debut in a $10K tournament in France, where she entered the qualifying tournament. She qualified with ease and edged past Alice Balducci to win her first ITF main draw match. That was to be the end of her tournament as she sustained a shoulder injury during her second round match against the 2nd seed, and retired while trailing in the first set.

Her second ITF tournament was $75K Shrewsbury (UK). She was given a wildcard into the main draw, and beat compatriot Sarah Borwell for her second ITF main draw win. She had a mucher tough test in the second round against fellow rising star Urszula Radwanska, who is also a Junior Wimbledon champion, and looks set to crack the top 100 soon. Against the odds, she stunned Radwanska in straight sets and followed that up with a straight sets win over 4th seeded Israeli Tzipora Obziler, who is 21 years her senior. She took 2nd seed Maret Ani to three sets but fell away in the decider.

She gained her first WTA world ranking after scoring a point in $50K Barnstaple (l. to Angelique Kerber in the opening round), debuting at #550. She made her WTA main draw debut in WTA Luxembourg, losing to top 50 player, Iveta Benesova, in three sets in the first round. She won her first ITF title in $10K Sunderland before returning to the junior circuit for the Eddie Herr Junior International Championships and the Orange Bowl.

She kicked off her 2009 season with a final appearance in the junior Australian Open (l. to Ksenia Pervak). She reached # 1 in the combined ITF junior rankings in early 2009 following this run. Injury affected her season after that, and her next big tournament came at Wimbledon, where she received a main draw wildcard as a reward for her exploits at junior Wimbledon last year. She pushed Daniela Hantuchova to three sets but ultimately came up short. Turning her attention back to the junior tournament, she cruised through to the third round before losing a tight three-set match with Quirine Lemoine.

Back on the ITF circuit, Laura faltered in qualifying for $25K events in Europe. She has been awarded a qualifying wildcard for the US Open and beat 21st seed Stephanie Foretz in her opening match and followed up with a battling win over former top 50 player Aniko Kapros. She takes on Eva Hrdinova for a place in the main draw.

Off Court Photos: Jelena Jankovic

Off Court Photos: Maria Sharapova (Tiffany & Co and Instyle)


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Off Court Photos: Maria Sharapova

[Photo source:]

Monday, 24 August 2009

Title Watch: Federer and Dementieva Scoop Titles

In Cincinnati, Roger Federer claimed the title with a straight sets triumph over Novak Djokovic. The world # 1 had ended the run of the new # 2, Andy Murray, in the semi-finals to deny the Brit the chance to win back-to-back titles.

In Toronto, Elena Dementieva won an all-Russian battle against Maria Sharapova.

Martina Hingis Signs Up For Strictly Come Dancing

Martina Hingis has been revealed as one of this year's Strictly Come Dancing contestants.

The former world # 1 follows in the footsteps of fellow retirees Andrew Castle (who competed in the last series of Strictly), Monica Seles and Alicia Molik (who both competed in Dancing With The Stars).

It's fair to say that no tennis player has had much success in the dancing stakes on these shows, so Martina probably has her work cut out to change that!

Her dancing partner is yet to be announced.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Title Watch: Murray and Jankovic Take Spoils

Andy Murray beat an ailing Juan Martin Del Potro in three sets to clinch the Montreal Masters title. The Brit ensured that he would become the new world # 2 after dispatching Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals. This title was his fourth Masters Series title and the 13th title of his career. His next task is to defend his title in Cincinnati.

Speaking of Cincinnati, Jelena Jankovic defeated Dinara Safina in the final there to win her second title of 2009. Despite ending the runs of both Kim Clijsters (who is on her comeback) and Flavia Pennetta en route to the final, Safina found the going a bit too tough against Jankovic.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Title Watch: Del Potro and Pennetta Grab Titles

Juan Martin Del Potro successfully defended his Washington title with a 3-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win over Andy Roddick in the final. Andre Agassi was the last player to win successive titles at the tournament, back in 1999. The title was Del Potro's second of the year after Auckland (d. Sam Querrey). It wasn't enough to leapfrog Roddick in the rankings though, and the Argentine stays put at # 6.

In the women's event in Los Angeles, Flavia Pennetta held her nerve to overcome Sam Stosur 6-3 6-4. The Italian had ended Maria Sharapova's hopes of winning her first WTA title since returning from a shoulder injury after beating the former world # 1 in the semi-finals. The title was Pennetta's second of 2009 after her tournament victory in Palermo earlier in the season. In the rankings, Pennetta climbs two ranking spots to # 12 - one place below the career-high of # 11 that she reached in February. Stosur also jumps two spots to a career-high ranking of # 17.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Spotlight On ... Andrea Hlavackova

Andrea Hlavackova is a Czech tennis player who plays predominantly on the ITF circuit. She is ranked just outside of the top 200 and recently won a $25K ITF event in Bad Saulgal (Germany), having gone through the qualifying beforehand.

Her 2009 season got off to a slow start with second round exits in $25K Sutton (UK) (l. to Naomi Cavaday), $25K Stockholm ( Cavaday again) and $25K Jersey (UK) (l. to Monique Adamczak). Stepping up to $100k level for some much needed ranking points, Andrea lost in qualifying for $100K Torhout (l. to Claire Feuerstein) but picked up a lucky loser spot and reached the second round (l. to Nathalie Dechy).

Switching to the WTA Tour, she entered qualifying for Barcelona but was beaten by Mervana Jugic-Salkic in the opening qualifying round.

Reverting back to the ITF circuit, she lost in the opening rounds of $100K Johannesburg (l. to Marinne Giraud) and $100K Bucharest (l. to Andrea Petkovic). Dropping back down to $25K level, she reached a final in Szczecin (l. to Stephanie Gerhlein) and the quarter-finals of La Coruna (l. to Neuza Silva). Another attempt at WTA qualifying followed (l. to Elena Daniilidou), before the title win in Bad Saulgau.

Spotlight On ... Maria Fernandez Alvarez-Teran

Maria Fernandez Alvarez-Teran is a Bolivian tennis player, who is currently on the verge of the top 200. She plays a lot on the ITF circuit in South America, and recently won a $25k event in Brazil (d. Maria Fernandez Alves in the final) and reached the final of a $25k in Bogota (Colombia) (l. to Marina Giral Lores). Earlier in the year, she reached the quarter-finals of $50K Cali (Mexico) (l. to Tetiana Luzhanska).

Outside of South America, her best results have included a quarter-final in $25K Jackson (USA) (l. to Laura Siegemund, but d. Coco Vandeweghe in the second round) and a second round in $25K Osprey (USA) (l. to Tadeja Majeric).

World Junior Tennis Finals: USA and Spain Triumph

In the finals of the World Junior Tennis Finals, Spain defeated Portugal in the boys' tournament, while the USA beat the Czech Republic in the girls' event.

Carlos Benito gave Spain a lead after beating Rodolfo Pereira in the first singles rubber, and this was further extended when Albert Alcaraz defeated Frederico Silva. This was enough to gift Spain the title. Japan and the Czech Republic battled it out for third place, with Japan prevailing in the deciding doubles rubber.

In the girls' final, the Czech team gave the home crowd something to cheer about after Aneta Dvorakova beat Victora Duval in the first singles rubber. America hit back in the second singles rubber, with Sachia Vickery overcoming Petra Rohanova. With the final tied at one rubber apiece, the Americans teamed up to clinch the title. Third place went to Japan, who defeated Russia.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Roger Federer and His Twin Girls

Roger Federer has posted a photo of his twin girls, Myla and Charlene, on his Facebook fan page this week. In the photo (which can be viewed here), Roger and Mirka are both proudly holding a twin each.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Off Court Photos: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Here are some photographs from a recent photoshoot that Svetlana Kuznetsova took part in :

Spotlight On ... Carsten Ball

Carsten Ball reached the final in Los Angeles last weekend (l. to Sam Querrey) despite being ranked outside of the top 200. That success saw him leapfrog into the top 150 for the first time in his career at # 145. He gained scalps over a string of higher-ranked players, including # 75 Marc Gicquel, # 60 Leonardo Mayer and # 29 Dmitry Tursunov (who retired in the second set), before losing to Querrey in three sets.

His 2009 season got off to a slow start. As a wildcard, he lost in the opening rounds of Brisbane (l. to Thomaz Bellucci) and the Australian Open (l. to Michael Berrer). Stepping back down to the Futures circuit, he won a title in New Zealand and climbed into the top 200. Several Challenger quarter-finals followed in Baton Rouge (USA) (l. to Benjamin Becker), Tallahassee (USA) (l. to Danai Udomchoke) and Savannah (USA) (l. to Alex Kuznetsov) before he broke through to reach finals in Sarasota (USA) (l. to James Ward) and Yuba City (USA) (l. to Ryler DeHeart). Returning to the Futures circuit again, he won another title in Sacramento (USA) but suffered two successive losses to DeHeart on his return to the Challenger circuit. Just prior to entering the qualifying for Los Angeles, he had lost in the first round of a Challenger event in Kentucky (USA) (l. to Bruno Agostinelli) and had failed to win a match in his last three tournaments.

Although he plays for Australia, Carsten was born in Newport Beach in America and has his base over there. His father (and coach), Syd Ball, was also a tennis pro. He reached the Australian Open doubles and won eight doubles titles in total.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Spotlight On... Coco Vandeweghe

Coco Vandeweghe was a relatively unknown entity to many tennis fans until the 2008 US Open. The American teenager was given a wildcard into the women's singles draw and was unlucky enough to draw world number two Jelena Jankovic (who went on to lose to Serena Williams in the final) in the first round. She gave a solid account of herself in a 6-3 6-1 defeat, and turned her attention to the junior tournament. She had good success there, winning the title with scalps such as Tamaryn Hendler and Elena Chernyakova.

Most of her time up until that US Open was spent on the ITF circuit, but she did have a taste of the elite level. She made her WTA tour level debut back in 2006 as a wildcard entry in WTA San Diego (l. to qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko). She was given another wildcard in San Diego the following year (l. to Elena Bovina), and was given qualifying wildcards into WTA Indian Wells and the US Open. This year, she has had qualifying wildcards in Indian Wells, and main draw wildcards in WTA Miami (l. to fellow wildcard Sabine Lisicki) and WTA Los Angeles (l. to Marta Domachowska).

Her best results of the 2008 season included a semi-final in San Luis Potosi (Mexico) and a quarter-final in $50K Las Vegas (USA), in which she stunned top seed Aravane Rezai (who was ranked 53 in the world) in the first round before losing to 6th seed Meng Yuan in the last eight.

In 2009, Coco has gone under the radar for the most part. She has played predominantly on the ITF circuit, but ventured onto the WTA Tour to play Indian Wells (l. to Severine Bremond in the first qualifying round) and Miami (l. to Nuria Llagostera Vives in the first round). Her best results on the ITF circuit have been second rounds in Jackson (USA) (l. to 4th seed Maria Fernandez Alvarez after d. top seed Agustina Lapore in qualifying), Dothan (USA) (l. to top seed and # 72 Patricia Mayr) and St Joseph (USA) (l. to compatriot Irina Falconi). Based on this, it was something of a surprise when she took advantage of a wildcard entry into Los Angeles to dispatch # 58 Tathiana Garbin in straigh sets in round one.

Spotlight On ... Lucie Hradecka

She might have come up short in several finals this year (Strasbourg and Istanbul), but Lucie Hradecka is beginning to make her presence felt on the WTA Tour. The Czech is currrently ranked at a career-high of # 56 in the world following last weekend's final appearance in Istanbul (l. to Vera Dushevina in a very one-sided affair).

Although she has had some good success at WTA level this year, Lucie has also stepped down to the ITF circuit, where she won a title in Belfort (France). This kickstarted her 2009 season after early exits in qualifying for Hobart (l. to Maria Elena Camerin) and the Australian Open (l. to Ekaterina Ivanova). En route to the ITF Belfort title, she beat Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals and 2nd seed Vesna Manasieva in the final. This was followed by an ITF final in Midland (USA), where she gained revenge on Ivanova in the first round and took out 4th seed Stephanie Foretz in the semi-finals.

Her good form came to an end after this with early exits in Memphis (l. to Chanelle Scheepers in the opening round), ITF Clearwater (USA) (l. to Mervana Jugic-Salkic in the opening round), Indian Wells (l. to 5th seed Petra Cetkovska in the second qualifying round), Miami (l. to Julia Goerges in the first qualifying round), and Barcelona (l. to Yevgenia Savranska in the first round). Things got back on track with a quarter-final in Fes (d. 8th seed Shahar Peer, before losing to Melinda Czink) and a final in Strasbourg (l. to Aravane Rezai after beating three higher-ranked players in the form of Alla Kudryatseva, Kristina Barrois and Ayumi Morita). Quarter-finals in ITF Biarritz (l. to 5th seed Julia Goerges) and Prague (l. to 2nd seed Sybille Bammer) was followed by the final in Istanbul, where she again beat Petkovic in the semi-finals and managed to exact some revenge on Goerges in the second round.

In terms of the Grand Slams, Lucie's best showing is a second round at Roland Garros (l. to 22nd seed Carla Suarez Navarro). She narrowly lost out 8-6 in the third set to 13th seed Ana Ivanovic in the first round of Wimbledon. She has yet to play in the main draw of the Australian and US Opens but will do so in the latter this summer.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Spotlight On ... Georgie Stoop

Georgie Stoop impressed more than a few people at Wimbledon 2009 after pushing Vera Zvonareva to three sets in the first round. The Brit was ranked in the top 200 before an injury sent her back down the rankings. Having worked her way back up there again (her career-high of # 179 was achieved in May 2009), she won an ITF title in Spain this weekend (d. compatriot Katie O'Brien in the final). Her only previous ITF title came in Australia back in 2006, so this was a welcome return to winning ways.

The majority of her career has been spent on the ITF circuit, although she has attempted to qualify for the Grand Slams this year and was given wildcards into Wimbledon (l. to Zvonareva) and Birmingham (l. to compatriot Elena Baltacha).

Spotlight On ... Andrea Petkovic

Germany's Andrea Petkovic made a name for herself recently when she lifted the trophy in Bad Gastein (d. Iona Raluca Olaru in the final). She was ranked # 99 in the world prior to that tournament but that didn't stop her claiming her first WTA title. She followed that up with a semi-final showing in Istanbul (l. to

Andrea's best results had previously come on the ITF circuit, where she had notched up an impressive eight titles - including one in Bucharest in 2009. Success on the WTA circuit had eluded her though, with just three match wins to her name there and no sniff of a title. One of those match wins came at the 2009 Australian Open after beating fellow German Kathrin Woerle (l. to 15th seed Alize Cornet).

Like many tennis players, Andrea has struggled with injuries. In 2008, she spent eight months on the sidelines.

Although Andrea has lived in Germany since she was six months old, she was actually born in Bosnia and has Serbian ancestry. She is coached by her father, Zoran Petkovic. She speaks German, English, French and Serbian.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Spotlight On ... Iona Raluca Olaru

Iona Raluca Olaru is a Romanian tennis player who recently made the final in WTA Bad Gastein (l. to Andrea Petkovic). Along the way, she beat top seed Alize Cornet, 3rd seed Sybille Bammer and 6th seed Magdalena Rybarikova to record the best result of her career so far.

Having started the 2009 season outside of the season with early exits aplenty, she didn't even re-enter the top 100 until just before Roland Garros, after reaching the quarter-finals in Warsaw. An ITF title in Marseille (d. 3rd seed and top 100 player, Tathiana Garbin, in the quarter-finals) cemented her place in the top 100. The final in Bad Gastein saw her rise to a career-high ranking of # 53.

Click here to read Iona's 'Getting To Know ...' interview on the WTA website