Wimbledon Gallery

On the opening day of the Wimbledon Championships, my camera was extra busy snapping the world’s best tennis players. Although Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Amelie Mauresmo got away, I still captured names such as Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki along with a number of my favourite WTA players.

Have and browse and enjoy:

Featuring: Bojana Jovanovski, Timea Babos, Melanie Oudin, Sorana Cirstea, Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters, Christina McHale, Nadia Petrova, Rafael Nadal, Oliver Golding, Alize Cornet, Tsvetana Pironkova, Dominika Cibulkova, Sabine Lisicki and Petra Martic.


So Far So Good

Photo Source: AFP / Getty Images

The first week of the ATP and WTA seasons have been concluded with many of this year’s featured players performing well.

Tournaments in Brisbane, Auckland, Chennai and Doha boasted a number of high-profile names while the Hopman Cup also panned out Down Under in Perth.

With many ranking points to save early on this year, Milos Raonic got off to the best possible start by winning the second ATP World Tour title of his career in Chennai. The 21-year-old Canadian beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) in a final which didn’t feature any breaks.

Andy Murray took no time to claim his first title of the year and 22nd ATP World Tour crown of his career as the world number four went all the way at the Brisbane International. Not only was it the maiden event of 2012 for the Brit but also the first with new coach Ivan Lendl.

The eight-time Grand Slam winner has been installed to take Murray to the next level by claiming a major title himself. Lendl watched from the stands as his pupil dispatched of Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 and, with improved movement on the court, he will be a serious title threat again at the Australian Open.

Murray had beaten Dolgopolov in last year’s Aussie Open quarter-final when the Ukrainian emerged as a main player on the tour. The 23-year-old’s chances of jumping another step and making the top 10 this year look to be on the right track.

At 19, home favourite Bernard Tomic is set for big things. After breaking the top 50 last year he’s backed that up with a semi-final berth already.

There was less joy for Kei Nishikori though, as he fell in the second round despite being seeded fifth. Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Ryan Harrison both crashed out in the first round but young Aussie James Duckworth took full advantage of his wildcard by beating Nicolas Mahut in the opening round.

For the ladies at Brisbane there were less positives. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova went out in the second round along with Bojana Jovanovski but they had some saving grace as they were beaten by eventual champion Kaia Kanepi and multiple Grand Slam winner Serena Williams respectively.

Things didn’t improve in Auckland. Top seed Sabine Lisicki made the last eight but had to retire in her quarter-final match due to an abdominal injury. She’ll be hoping it doesn’t prove too serious and won’t keep her out of the first major of the year next week.

Elsewhere, Rebecca Marino lost her first match of 2012 in straight sets but teenage Czech Karolina Pliskova came through qualifying to make the main draw.

At the Hopman Cup, Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych took the main prize for the Czech Republic but Grigor Dimitrov put some impressive displays in for Bulgaria including a 6-2, 6-1 win over top 10 player Mardy Fish.

Wimbledon 2011 – Ranking Review

The grass court season is over and with the end of Wimbledon it means more ranking points have been lost or gained during the fortnight.

The women’s top 20 is pretty much unchanged with Petra Kvitova up one place after her Grand Slam success, progressing two steps further than her performance last year.

Sabine Lisicki is the biggest mover in the top 100 after having no ranking points to defend and then duly making it to the semi-finals. She’s jumped 35 places from #62 to #27 and sits just six places from her highest ever ranking position which she achieved in 2009.

Laura Robson’s first round victory was enough to see her enter the top 200 again and to a career high of #185.

The 17-year-old beat Angelique Kerber and rattled eventual finalist Maria Sharapova but lost to the Russian. She can now take heart from a season which looked like a step backwards as she’s now 32 places ahead of where she started in January having been much lower than that.

After always being behind her sister Karolina, Kristyna Pliskova has now moved ahead of her 19-year-old twin following a first round appearance against Marion Bartoli thanks to getting though qualifying. The Czech left-hander is in a career high position of #188.

Austrian Tamira Paszek has moved into the top 50 from #80 after the 20-year-old’s quarter-final run as Bojana Jovanovski dropped out of it.

There were also ranking rises for Rebecca Marino, Christina McHale and Coco Vandeweghe. Heather Watson remained at #106 and one place ahead of 19-year-old Misaki Doi who has shot up from #133.

The significant mover from the men’s tour was not surprising. Bernard Tomic’s breakthrough quarter-final run as a qualifier means he’s not only into the top 100 but deep into it at #71, an increase of 87 places.

Fellow 19-year-old Ryan Harrison is on the edge of the top 100 after qualifying and progressing to the second round. He’s at an agonising 101 in the world.

Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori both went up two places after second round appearances and had decent matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lleyton Hewitt respectively.

Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov dropped a solitary place and are next to each other in the mid-20’s of the rankings. They’ll be looking at the return of the hard courts to make further impact this season.

The Kvitova Years

Every era of tennis, whether it’s men’s, women’s or doubles, has its standout players.

The 1980’s were dominated by several names in the men’s field while Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras rose highest in the 90’s before the Williams sisters took over during the turn of the millennium.

Today we are in the twilight of the titanic rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the Bryan brothers are kings of the two racket game and the Williams sisters are still around.

But for the future of women’s tennis, today’s Wimbledon final result could be the start of a new shift in power.

Petra Kvitova is a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic and only the third left-hander to win at SW19, joining probably the best female player ever in Martina Navratilova (originally from Czechoslovakia) and Ann Jones.

Navratilova had overwhelming success in the 1980’s before Graf came in and took the mantle. Now with Navratilova herself declaring the Williams sister era of tennis dead her fellow lefty is now the prime candidate to become the new icon.

All the reporters, commentators, ex-players and presenters are saying Kvitova will win more majors. At the present time no one looks like a potential challenger as the inconsistency on the WTA tour is rife.

Caroline Wozniacki can go from beating a top 10 player in a premier final to crashing out of a Grand Slam in the fourth round whilst Victoria Azarenka can win a set and look the best player on the planet before her body or form gives in.

The other two women holding Grand Slam titles are Kim Clijsters and Li Na who are both approaching 30; too late to claim dominance. It’s the perfect stage for Kvitova to take advantage of.

She now has Grand Slam winning experience so the nerves which may have occurred in the final will gradually recede completely. But who’s to say she was nervous? At times she looked like a multiple Wimbledon finalist.

Perhaps her game is mostly suited to grass but as of this moment she looks somewhere between a Martina Hingis and Monica Seles level of Grand Slam winning potential. Graf and Navratilova may be too much to ask for.


Like in all eras, there is always one or two challengers who tussle for the top prize.

Azarenka is still young and made her first Grand Slam semi-final at this year’s Wimbledon. Wozniacki may only need one success for more to follow with the US Open her most likely Grand Slam breakthrough victory.

The teenagers that this blog has followed (Bojana Jovanovski, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Caroline Garcia) who’ve yet to peak have that potential plus Kvitova’s opponent in the final Maria Sharapova is seemingly back to her best but another maiden semi-finalist has been tipped.

Germany’s Sabine Lisicki is also 21 and has the added pressure of being “the next Steffi Graf”. With big things expected of her she could challenge at the top of the game in the future as well but again, grass is her favoured surface.

For both Lisicki and Kvitova, the way they handle the hard courts for the rest of the season will be pivotal. The evidence shows Kvitova will more than likely pull ahead as her return of serve is lethal and she already has three WTA titles from earlier in the year.

Lisicki relies more on her serve and has been known to clam up in the past. She was out for most of the 2010 season though so her progress might be late in development.

With confidence and experience this pair could be the ones to fear in future draws but Kvitova particularly has the serve, firepower and coolness to grab women’s tennis by the neck and carry it forward.

Sabine Returns

Prior to Sabine Lisicki’s incredible victory against French Open champion Li Na, this post was due to be titled “Anyone for bagels?” as the young players struggled to make an impact at Wimbledon this year.

Two 19-year-olds in Melanie Oudin and Kristyna Pliskova were destroyed 6-0 in their opening sets of the first round before going out to Ana Ivanovic and Marion Bartoli respectively.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, another 19-year-old, made it to the second round but after reaching the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and being 14th seed it was a surprise to see her lose in straight sets to Nadia Petrova.

Sticking with the pre-20 age group Simona Halep almost produced a stunning result against one of the title favourites Serena Williams.

The Romanian, who beat Bojana Jovanovski in round one, took the first set versus Williams before the American turned up the heat and showed why she’s won at The All England Club for the past two years. Halep eventually lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and saved suffering a bagel in the last set.

Second round casualties also came for Rebecca Marino, Polona Hercog and Christina McHale with the latter producing a great first round result beating 28th seed Ekaterina Makarova 8-6 in the third set.

Speaking of 8-6 in the third set, Sabine Lisicki is now firmly back amongst top level tennis again. You may have heard her story several times over the last few hours but it’s worth repeating.

Ranked outside the top 200 this year having been out for seven months with a severe ankle injury, the current world number 62 and Aegon Classic champion saved two match points to reach the third round of Wimbledon over Chinese sensation Li Na.

The tennis was outstanding, the drama even better and now her chances of equalling the quarter-final run she had in 2009 is seemingly possible.

Her next opponent is another Asian player but with very much less experience. Japan’s Misaki Doi is 19-years-old and ranked outside the top 100 but has come through qualifying and Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ tennis ball sleeves along the way to the third round.

Another good match-up is Maria Sharapova vs. Laura Robson. If Robson wants to announce herself on the WTA Tour then she’ll have no better chance to do so against the woman who won at SW19 as a 17-year-old.

Robson is at that age now and although her chances of emulating her junior win on centre court in the seniors, a victory over the fifth seed would top anything she’s done in her career up to this point.

For her compatriot Heather Watson, it was a disappointing end to a steady-looking win as an elbow injury ultimately left her serving redundant and an often wild Mathilde Johansson took the match 2-6 6-4 6-4.

The men didn’t have much luck either although there were some promising signs which still need to be decided tomorrow.

Grigor Dimitrov has been likened to Roger Federer and you can see why. He possesses such talent and looks like a Grand Slam winner of the future.

This year Jo-Wilfried Tsonga proved to much of a task to overcome after several rain delays but the recently turned 20-year-old fought all the way to the end, producing wonderful tennis along the way.

On the other courts Bernard Tomic and Ryan Harrison were busy announcing why they’ve been hyped along with Dimitrov.

Tomic continues tomorrow against Igor Andreev after winning the third set to make it 2-1 and David Ferrer will try to come back from 2-1 down against Harrison.

Elsewhere the dream third round tie between Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal didn’t materialise after the Canadian had to retire in the previous round whilst Kei Nishikori battled but couldn’t prevent Lleyton Hewitt rolling back the years and taking a first round win. Alexandr Dolgopolov also lost to Fernando Gonzalez in the opening round.

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.

Life after the Sicki

Sabine Lisicki Sabine Lisicki, Germany’s former number one tennis player, looks to be heading back to the heights where she belongs.

Her success at the Aegon Classic is only her second WTA tour title but she should have won so many more by now had it not been for an ankle injury suffered in April 2010.

In 2008, she burst on to the scene as a qualifier reaching the third round of the Australian Open before making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon a year later.

A dramatic drop followed as her ranking points gained at SW19 were not defended and she even fell out of the top 200 this year.

Battling through qualifying events, her form gradually picked up and despite a second round loss to Vera Zvonareva at the French Open last month, where she had a match point at 5-2 in the third and lost it 7-5, a return to the top 100 followed.

Last week she overcame Peng Shuai and former champion at Birmingham Magdalena Rybarikova to set up her first final since the injury.

In fact, her match against Shuai was the first semi-final since the injury and after beating Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-2 in the final today her ranking has increased 38 places to #62.

At 21, she still has every chance of matching her highest position of number 22 in the world and with the amount of older players proving their worth she could easily surpass it.

A top 50 place could be beckoning should she do well at Wimbledon and as an unseeded wildcard many players will fear facing Lisicki on grass.

Her serve, in particular, is back in shape having smashed a total of 43 aces over the whole tournament and eight in the final.

A sigh of relief can now be heard from across Germany as it looks like there are three high-calibre German players on the tour with Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic in the top 20 already. Surely one of them can banish the Steffi Graf era.

Xperia Hot Shots

The Sony Ericsson Open starts this week in Miami with several female athletes currently looking to qualify but alongside the tournament a new web-based reality show was launched.

With Maria Sharapova as brand ambassador, Xperia Hot Shots gives six WTA players a handset to film themselves over the current season so fans can track their progress on and off the court.

Those six are: Sorana Cirstea (Romania), Alize Cornet (France), Heather Watson (Great Britain), Sabine Lisicki (Germany), Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) and Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia).

The chosen players have been selected based on their potential but probably their marketing prowess as well, i.e. looks and personality.

This is after all a major promotional campaign for Sony Ericsson but it does at least provide spectators an inside view into their favourite players’ lives and increases the scope for more supporters of tennis and these six professionals.

At the end of the year the player who has generated the most support on Facebook will earn a support deal with Sony Ericsson whilst fans votes in September will see the winner earn €100,000.

They may want to check their research on the players they’ve chosen though as Cirstea is currently 21 but her YouTube profile says she’s 18 whilst she declares to be 20 in the video. Hopefully they knew her real age before the contract was signed.

To follow the stars and their videos you can either head to their YouTube channel or go to the Facebook page.

Maria SharapovaFormer world no.1 Maria Sharapova helped launch the event

Discuss: If there was a similar reality show featuring male tennis players who would you like to see a part of it? Or perhaps you think someone else who should be a hot shot? If so then leave a comment.

%d bloggers like this: