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.

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Wimbledon Juniors 2011 – Girls’ Singles Round-Up

A strong field of Russians were present in the draw for the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles event including title-favourites Daria Gavrilova and Irina Khromacheva.

They were joined by Caroline Garcia who’s looking to build on the success she had at the French Open in both the main draw and the juniors.

Also out to impress were Indy De Vroome and Yulia Putintseva who were the finalists at the AEGON Junior International at Roehampton with De Vroome winning the Wimbledon warm-up tournament.

Here’s a round-up of how the juniors progressed:

Round 1: Daria Gavrilova, the junior world number one and top seed, made a shocking first round exit as the Russian lost to Kateryna Kozlova. The Ukrainian won a first set tiebreak 7-2 before taking a straight sets victory 6-3 in the second. That wasn’t the only surprise either as French Open champion Ons Jabeur, who was a fourth seeded wildcard, crashed out against Japan’s Risa Ozaki. Victoria Bosio (8), Jovana Jaksic (9), Daria Salnikova (11) and Viktoria Malova (14) were the other seeded casulaties. Elsewhere the British trio of Francesca Stephenson, Daneika Borthwick and Ruth Seaborne made the second round.

Round 2: Former junior world number one and WTA top 300 player Alison Van Uytvanck was the biggest name to fall in the second round. Despite winning the first, the Belgian lost in three sets to American Krista Hardebeck. British wildcard Danieka Borthwick managed to take out her 15th seeded opponent Jesika Maleckova pretty comprehensively with a 6-2, 6-3 scoreline and remained the only Brit in the draw going into the last 16.

Round 3: There were no upsets to report in the third round but second seed Caroline Garcia came through a tough test against Estonian Anett Kontaveit. Her 13th seeded opponent forced the match into a third set after taking a second set tiebreak 7-5 before the French WTA top 200 player won 6-4. Other three-setters included seventh seed Yulia Putintseva’s win over Donna Vekic and 12th seed Ashleigh Barty’s victory over Madison Keys, whilst Montserrat Gonzalez (6), Irina Khromacheva (3) and Eugenie Bouchard (5) progressed to make it a strong last eight line-up.

Quarter-finals: Indy De Vroome almost secured a double bagel victory in her third round encounter with Risa Ozaki and although her quarter-final match was closer she still dished out a thrashing. Russian seventh seed Yulia Putintseva lost 6-3, 6-1 to the unseeded Dutchwoman who would go on to face Australian Ashleigh Barty after the 12th seed beat 16th seeded American Victoria Duval. In the heavyweight contests at the bottom half of the draw there was a conclusive 6-2, 6-2 win for Irina Khromacheva over Eugenie Bouchard but Caroline Garcia progressed after a mammoth clash with Montserrat Gonzalez. After winning the first set 6-1 it looked like going the same way as the other quarter-final matches before Gonzalez took a second set tiebreak. Then more drama unfolded in the final set as the two couldn’t be separated. Garcia eventually won it 8-6 to face Khromacheva in the semis.

Semi-finals: Ashleigh Barty found it rather easy going against her unseeded opponent as she progressed to her first Grand Slam final in only her third major appearance. She beat Indy De Vroome 6-4, 6-1. The other semi-final was less straightforward as two of junior tennis’ finest prospects went head-to-head. Russian Irina Khromacheva beat Caroline Garcia after a first set tussle which went to a tiebreak. Khromacheva won it 7-5 but was pegged back in the next set as Garcia leveled the scoreline. Khromacheva then found form to take the last set 6-1 and joined Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina, Anna Chakvetadze and Vera Douchevina as Russians who have made the final this century.

Final: Ashleigh Barty (12) vs. Irina Khromacheva (3). Australia completed an historic double with both the boys and girls singles champions coming from Down Under. In a tightly fought contest, Khromacheva had more than enough chances to alter the direction of the match but lost the first set 7-5 and squandered a 4-1 lead in the second before saving a match point at 5-4 down. Although the tiebreak was forced a disgruntled-looking Khromacheva couldn’t force a decider as Barty won it 7-3. The 15-year-old’s success meant it was the first time since 1981 that one country simultaneously won both junior singles events and as she became the first Aussie girls’ Wimbledon winner since Debbie Freeman in 1980.

For a full list of results a drawsheet is available via the official Wimbledon website where highlights of the final can also be found.

Wimbledon Juniors 2011 – Boys’ Singles Round-Up

With 19 of the top 20 ranked juniors in the world competing, the Wimbledon boys’ singles event had an abundance of names to look out for in the future. 

World number one Jiri Vesely was looking to add to the Australian Open crown he won earlier this year whilst form players going into the tournament included Roland Garros finalist Mate Delic, Gerry Weber Junior Open winner Dominic Thiem and Britain’s own Liam Broady, title-winner at the AEGON Junior International.

Here is a round-up of how the tournament progressed:

Round 1: Several seeds dropped in the opening round including Austrian Patrick Ofner (12), Spain’s Andres Artunedo Martinavarr (14), Joao Pedro Sorgi (11) and but the biggest was third seed Hugo Dellien who lost in straight sets to Kaichi Uchida of Japan. There was great joy for home supporters with British seeds George Morgan, Liam Broady and Oliver Golding joining wildcards Joshua Ward-Hibbert, Oliver Hudson, Evan Hoyt and Kyle Edmund in the second round. The latter beat Sorgi 6-3, 6-3.

Round 2: Britain’s delight soon turned to despair in the next round with only Liam Broady making it to the last 16. The prospects didn’t look good for Broady either as top seed Jiri Vesely awaited in the third round. Fourth seed Oliver Golding’s exit to wildcard Jason Kubler proved to be the biggest casualty of the day but more seeds lost including Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena (6), Australian Andrew Whittington (9) and Philippine Jeson Patrombon (13). Hassan Ndayishimiye, the first player from Burundi to play at the Championships, also went out.

Round 3: Only three seeds made it into the last eight and that didn’t include the top two seeds. Czech and junior world number one Jiri Vesely succumbed to Liam Broady 6-4, 7-5 and Brazil’s Thiago Moura Monteiro was defeated in the other half of the draw by Aussie 16th seed Luke Saville. Germany’s Robin Kern, who beat Andrew Whittington the previous round, continued his giant-killing exploits by taking out Filip Horansky (5) while seventh seed Dominic Thiem lost to Belgian Julien Cagnina 6-4, 6-2.

Quarter-finals: Liam Broady won a titanic last set against Robert Kern 13-11 to keep British hopes alive. Kaichi Uchida made it to the last eight and progressed further thanks to another struggle. The unseeded Japanese found himself a set down to eighth seed Mate Pavic but won a second set tiebreak 9-7 before taking the third 10-8. He joined the two Australians of Luke Saville and wildcard Jason Kubler in the semis after their wins over Joris De Loore and Julien Cagnina respectively.

Semi-finals: Liam Broady faced wildcard Jason Kubler, the man who took out his compatriot Oliver Golding but he was given the chance of becoming the first British winner of the Wimbledon boys’ singles since Stanley Matthews in 1962 after coming through 6-4, 6-3 in 79 minutes. His opponent in the final would be Luke Saville, who had also been to the final of his home major the Australian Open where he lost to Jiri Vesely. Saville beat Kaichi Uchida 6-4, 6-1 and recorded 31 to seven and never gave his opponent a break point opportunity.

Final: Liam Broady (15) vs. Luke Saville (16). British hearts were crushed as Saville emerged victorious despite being outplayed in the first set and almost getting blown away in the second. Broady was serving 6-2, 4-3 up before being broken and never won another game in the set. An incredible point panned out in the third set but with Broady failing to break back after going down 3-1 early on there was no way back and Britain’s hopes of a homegrown winner in Wimbledon’s 125th year were dashed.

 

To see the full list of results then a drawsheet is available via the official Wimbledon website.

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.

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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.

Tomic Arrives

Bernard Tomic loves a big occasion. Despite sitting at #158 before Wimbledon began he’s now reached the fourth round after knocking out world number five Robin Soderling.

Tomic forehand

Soderling may well have been unwell during the match but Tomic must be given credit for handling his win like a top 10 player, brushing the Swede aside in a first set lasting just 17 minutes before seeing it out in straight sets.

BBC commentary constantly referred to Tomic’s view that his ultimate strength is finding his opponent’s weakness. That is a philosophy which will win him many matches in the future and, based solely on his third round victory, a potential major.

What’s surprising is how his record before his visit to south west London this year has been so disappointing compared to his achievements elsewhere.

The 18-year-old qualifier has made the third round of the Australian Open this year and has been to the second round of his home major the two years previous to that.

Ace of Baseline has been following Tomic since the early days of the blog’s creation (he’s the second one along on the top-right banner) and his record on the ATP World Tour has been nothing special.

His two career title successes have come on the ATP Challenger Tour and his last triumph at that level came in February last year whilst his other was 12 months before that with both coming in Australia.

Along with those wins Down Under he took the junior Aussie Open crown in 2008 aged just 15.

Perhaps age is the key. He is only 18, still eligible for the juniors and more ATP World Tour events instead of Challenger tournaments in the future will see his progress quicken.

His coolness on the show court against Soderling and his ability to come back from two sets down versus Igor Andreev in round two are good traits. He has the mentality to succeed and seems to lap up a pressurised situation.

His next match will be against Xavier Malisse and his chances of reaching the last eight are seemingly decent against the 30-year-old Belgian. We’ll learn a lot more from Tomic in that match now he’s set to be watched by more and more eyes.

After progressing further than Aussie legend and their last man to win a Slam Lleyton Hewitt, Tomic will become the new number one player from the country.

He’s actually a German-born Aussie of Croatian and Bosnian descent (if that’s not too hard to grasp) so there will probably be several countries trying to convert the flag next to his name.

History regarding his nationality has landed him in hot water in the past with his dad – who’s also his coach – threatening to force Tomic to play for Croatia, whilst an incident with Hewitt a while ago means he’s by no means a straightforward guy to predict.

Taking in mind his successful record in the southern hemisphere and the support he’ll receive from The Fanatics in the future, if he stays to his Gold Coast roots then Australia’s heir to Hewitt could be just, if not more, of a success.

The Fanatics

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.

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