Wimbledon 2011

A little thing called Wimbledon returns tomorrow and it never fails to deliver shocks, surprises, high-quality and new names.

Take, for example, last year. Petra Kvitova reached the semi-finals as an unseeded player and is now ranked in the top 10.

In my mind, she’s a Grand Slam winner in the making. Three WTA titles have come since then and with the Williams sisters rusty after only just coming back from injury, Kim Clijsters out and the courts on grass again, the 21-year-old could easily match her performance or even go beyond it.

Perhaps the biggest surprise 12 months ago belonged to Tsvetana Pironkova whom I’d followed every year at SW19 where she’d lose in the first or second round but mostly the first. Remarkably she then made the semi-finals.

Her record of zero WTA titles and only ever reaching the second round of the other majors indicates the 23-year-old’s unbelievable run was indeed a fluke and should those first round exits return then the 32nd seed will dramatically fall out of the top 100.

She can, though, savour and draw inspiration from beating Venus Williams (again) and should they meet this year, it will be very interesting.

Vera Zvonareva provided a different form of shock last year as her career renaissance started. Aged 25 and seeded 21st, not many expected her to reach the final but since then she’s come close to winning the US Open and has been in the top 5 of the rankings ever since.

It’s not just restricted to the women either. Tomas Berdych reaching the final, beating Roger Federer along the way, will go down as a monumental upset and despite all the hype of a “Fedal” final, the last two have been contested with Andy Roddick and Berdych.

Wimbledon Court One Panorama

The young players looking to make a name for themselves this year include a wealth of British talent. Laura Robson, who split from her coach just days ago, and Heather Watson have been given wildcards along with German Sabine Lisicki, a former quarter-finalist who’s back for the first time since that 2009 last eight appearance.

Kristyna Pliskova, junior Wimbledon winner in 2010, has made it through to the first round having qualified and will not have it easy against Marion Bartoli who was another shock face in the 2007 women’s final after conquering Justine Henin from a set and a break down in the semis.

In men’s qualifying Bernard Tomic is finally regaining the sort of form which saw him reach the third round of his home tournament, the Australian Open.

Despite being outside the top 150, he reached the first round in the French Open and has followed that up with a second first round appearance at Wimbledon.

There was also good news for American Ryan Harrison who qualified as a lucky loser. Tomic plays Nikolay Davydenko, Harrison faces Ivan Dodig and Grigor Dimitrov (the man compared to Roger Federer) will play 20-year-old German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.

Elsewhere, Milos Raonic is in the same group of eight as defending champion Rafael Nadal while other men’s matches to look out for include Lleyton Hewitt vs. Kei Nishikori, Fernando Gonzalez vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov and Dmitry Tursonov vs. Ernests Gulbis.

The women’s draw contains a whole host of 20-year-old qualifiers but regularly-tracked American teenager Sloane Stephens didn’t join them after defeat in the second round of qualifying.

There are so many more young players in the women’s field than the men’s so some selected highlights include Christina McHale vs. Ekaterina Makarova, Melanie Oudin vs. Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep vs. Bojana Jovanovski.

Ace of Baseline’s main coverage over the two weeks will centre around the juniors which start on 25th June but news from the young up-and-coming players in the main draw will also be featured. The full draws for the men’s singles and women’s singles are available via the official Wimbledon website.

French Open Juniors 2011 – Main Draw

The French Open juniors starts today with the main draw missing some decent players who lost out in qualifying.

Qualification top seed and world junior number 45 Frederico Ferreira Silva didn’t even last the first round as Croatian Filip Veger beat the Portugese and then Sweden’s 13th seed Stefan Lindmark in straight sets to book a main draw spot.

He joins fellow unseeded players Gianluigi Quinzi and Aslan Karatsev along with five of the 16 seeds in the boys’ draw which features 18 of the current top 20 juniors in the world.

Of the eight players to get through in the girls’ qualifying four were seeds but such is the magnetism of the Grand Slam occasion, there was an array of highly-ranked players even in the qualification rounds.

Also some of the players only choose to participate in the Grand Slam or Grade A tournaments of the junior circuit as they concentrate on the ITF events and aim to establish themselves on the WTA tour. Therefore even if a player is ranked low on the junior rankings they are a threat.

This is certainly the best time to see the future talents on the big stage. The main draws in full are:

Boys’ Singles – 1st Round

VESELY, Jiri (CZE) [1] vs. SHYLA, Yaraslau (BLR)
RANCEZOT, Armel (FRA) (W) vs. VINSANT, Shane (USA)
COPPEJANS, Kimmer (BEL) vs. SANT’ANNA, Bruno (BRA) [16]
MORGAN, George (GBR) [9] vs. DELIC, Mate (CRO)
HALEBIAN, Alexios (USA) vs. BOIS, Michael (FRA) (W)
BERMAN, Sean (AUS) vs. QUINZI, Gianluigi (ITA) (Q)
BARRERE, Gregoire (FRA) (W) vs. CARBALLES BAENA, Roberto (ESP) [5]
HORANSKY, Filip (SVK) [3] vs. KRSTIN, Pedja (SRB)
CAGNINA, Julien (BEL) vs. FAVROT, Alexandre (FRA) (W)
MANAFOV, Vladyslav (UKR) vs. KRUEGER, Mitchell (USA)
EDMUND, Kyle (GBR) vs. THIEM, Dominic (AUT) [14]
SORGI, Joao Pedro (BRA) [10] vs. NUNEZ, Marco Aurei (MEX)
COUACAUD, Enzo (FRA) vs. KARATSEV, Aslan (RUS) (Q)
LENZ, Julian (GER) vs. ROCA BATALLA, Oriol (ESP) (Q)
VEGER, Filip (CRO) (Q) vs. WHITTINGTON, Andrew (AUS) [8]
FERNANDES, Tiago (BRA) [6] vs. PELIWO, Filip (CAN)
LESCURE, Mick (FRA) (W) vs. DE LOORE, Joris (BEL) [11]
SAVILLE, Luke (AUS) [15] vs. UCHIDA, Kaichi (JPN)
SBOROWITZ, Matias (CHI) vs. GIRON, Marcos (USA)
BOLTZ, Sebastien (FRA) (W) vs. KUZMANOV, Dimitar (BUL) (Q)
PATINO, Luis (MEX) (Q) vs. GOLDING, Oliver (GBR) [4]
PAVIC, Mate (CRO) [7] vs. VRNAK, Lukas (CZE)
NOVIKOV, Dennis (USA) vs. BOURGUE, Mathias (FRA)
KERN, Robin (GER) vs. MARIN, Teodor Nicolae (ROU)
ARTUNEDO MARTINAVARR, Andres (ESP) vs. OFNER, Patrick (AUT) [12]
MONTEIRO, Thiago Moura (BRA) [13] vs. LOKOLI, Laurent (FRA) (W)
LUPESCU, Jannick (NED) vs. WAGLAND, Ben (AUS)
LAMASINE, Tristan (FRA) (W) vs. HIDALGO, Diego (ECU)

Girls’ Singles – 1st Round

GAVRILOVA, Daria (RUS) [1] vs. SEATEUN, Charlene (FRA) (W)
MALOVA, Viktoria (SVK) vs. JAKSIC, Jovana (SRB)
DINU, Cristina (ROU) vs. SUVRIJN, Jade (FRA) (W)
GONZALEZ, Domenica (ECU) vs. ZANEVSKA, Maryna (UKR) [14]
JABEUR, Ons (TUN) [9] vs. NINOMIYA, Makoto (JPN)
TANG, Hao Chen (CHN) (Q) vs. SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra (BLR) (S)
CASCINO, Estelle (FRA) (W) vs. ROHANOVA, Petra (CZE)
BUTKOVSKA, Lucia (SVK) vs. GONZALEZ, Montserrat (PAR) [8]
GARCIA, Caroline (FRA) [3] vs. KAN, Victoria (RUS)
PELLA, Catalina (ARG) (Q) vs. OZAKI, Risa (JPN) (Q)
NAUTA, Stephanie (USA) (L) vs. KU FLORES, Patricia Iveth (PER)
CEPELOVA, Jana (SVK) vs. KOZLOVA, Kateryna (UKR) [15]
VAN UYTVANCK, Alison (BEL) [11] vs. HADDAD MAIA, Beatriz (BRA) (Q)
HAAS, Barbara (AUT) vs. SCHUURS, Demi (NED)
SHARIPOVA, Sabina (UZB) vs. HESSE, Amandine (FRA) (W)
PUIG, Monica (PUR) [5] vs. TOMOVA, Viktoriya (BUL)
PARTAUD, Marine (FRA) (W) vs. MALECKOVA, Jesika (CZE)
SCHMIEDLOVA, Anna Karolina (SVK) vs. ALLGURIN, Ellen (SWE)
KOVALETS, Sofiya (UKR) vs. KOWASE, Miho (JPN) [10]
SALNIKOVA, Daria (RUS) [13] vs. PAIN, Anaeve (FRA) (W)
IVAKHNENKO, Valentyna (UKR) (Q) vs. DUVAL, Victoria (USA)
LIZARAZO, Yuliana (COL) vs. DE VROOME, Indy (NED)
BROULEAU, Lou (FRA) (W) vs. KOSTIC, Natalija (SRB) [4]
KOVINIC, Danka (MNE) [6] vs. CASARES, Marie Elise (ECU) (Q)
CSOREGI, Ilka (ROU) vs. THOLEY, Lea (FRA) (W)
KONTAVEIT, Anett (EST) vs. SKAMLOVA, Chantal (SVK)
BARTY, Ashleigh (AUS) vs. POZNIKHIRENKO, Ganna (UKR) [12]
BOSIO, Victoria (ARG) [16] vs. KATO, Miyu (JPN)
PAQUET, Chloe (FRA) (Q) vs. VEKIC, Donna (CRO)
KREMEN, Ilona (BLR) vs. ZHAO, Carol (CAN) (Q)
MAKAROVA, Christina (USA) vs. KHROMACHEVA, Irina (RUS) [2]

To see how all the qualifying rounds panned out then the boys’ and girls’ singles results are available via the ITF website.

French Open 2011

Over the last few days I don’t think I’ve ever wrote as much Italian before in my life, so I’m taking a break from Milan’s Trofeo Bonfiglio and looking towards the slightly wider covered French Open in Paris.

Qualifying has already finished and today the main draw was decided with help from current and former champion Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic.

My blog will cover the junior tournament most prominently but with that not scheduled to start until 30th May I will pay attention to the young players coming through who have been seen here previously and even some new faces.

The thing about a Grand Slam is one good run and you’re in the top 10 or 20 in the world when before no one had heard of you unless they were the die-hard sitting-in-the-rain-for-10-hours-to-get-in-court-18 kind of fans. Petra Kvitova and Tsvetana Pironkova will testify to that.

Sloane Stephens (USA)

News, so far, is good for Heather Watson and Sloane Stephens, two players who have had a mention on Ace of Baseline before and whom I track frequently.

American Stephens is a particular surprise after overcoming the top seed Anastasia Pivovarova in the last round of qualifying 6-3, 6-4.

Watson didn’t drop a set in making the main draw and joins fellow British players Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong who qualified outright based on their ranking positions.

In the men’s qualifying, Ryan Harrison lost to another youngster in Spaniard Javier Marti. The 19-year-old won the third round match 6-2, 7-5 and will face fellow countryman and qualifier Albert Ramos in the main draw.

Elsewhere in the main draw match-ups, I may have to cut down my coverage of Milos Raonic as the Canadian looks like he’s made it. Seeded 26th, he’ll face Michael Berrer in the first round and could face Andy Murray in the last 16 should all go to plan. The next step is asserting a top 10 position.

Other noteworthy matches are wildcard Bernard Tomic vs. Carlos Berlocq, Kei Nishikori vs. Lu Yen-Hsun and in the women’s draw the youngsters have it tough with Maria Kirilenko vs. Coco Vandeweghe, Andrea Petkovic vs. Bojana Jovanovski and Francesca Schiavone vs. Melanie Oudin.

For the full qualifying results and more, check out the Roland Garros website where the main draws for the men’s singles and women’s singles are also available.

52nd Trofeo Bonfiglio 2011

The Trofeo Bonfiglio, or Italian Open to you and me, will start in Milan on May 16th with several boys and girls of the future competing.

The junior clay court tournament is into its 52nd year and is one of five Grade A events, the highest ranked after the four Grand Slams.

Previous winners include Ivan Lendl,  Gabriela Sabatini and Goran Ivanisevic with modern top 100 players Nicolas Almagro, Kaia Kanepi and Dominika Cibulkova also victorious in the past.

As well as the winners Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Robin Soderling, Caroline Woznaicki, Victoria Azarenka, Francesca Schiavone and a whole host of other top ATP and WTA stars have participated.

Qualifying gets underway today. It’s mostly made up of Italians and a lot of boys called Andrea but if you’d like to see the 1st round qualifying draws in full then the ITF website has both the boys’ and girls’ singles.

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