Friday, January 30, 2009

And Here Comes The Tail End, Part 1

The finals of the Australian Open is coming in the next couple of days. That means I'm staying home this weekend to watch the matches again :D

The women's final match will be a battle of the little sisters (except they're both far from being little, actually.) Three-time champion Serena Williams, who has won the Aussie Open the past three odd-numbered years faces Dinara Safina, who was the finalist in last year's French Open. Dinara aims to follow her older brother Marat's footsteps, who won the Aussie Open in 2005 (he beat Roger Federer in the semis that year in an awesome 5-setter.) Serena is aiming to follow her own footsteps, since older sister Venus has never won this thing. It's also a winner-take-all kind of match, as whoever wins the title will take the #1 ranking from Jelena Jankovic.

Serena will also be playing the women's doubles final with her sister Venus against Daniela Hantuchova (woohooooo!) and Ai Sugiyama. The Williams sisters rarely ever loses a doubles match, but still, PODME DANKA!!!








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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Halfway Through AO 09

It's been a pretty good Australian Open so far, with a huge number of upsets, mostly on the women's side. I don't know if that's a testament to the depth of the women's field, or if the top ladies are just wildly inconsistent. A mixture of both?

The men wouldn't want to be outdone as far as upsets go though, as #4 seed Andy Murray proved yesterday. I picked him to win the whole thing based in his great results on hard courts in the past few months, and because he's one of only 3 players to have beaten all the Big 3 (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic) last year (Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon were the other two.) But Ana Ivanovic's ex, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco has been playing top 5 tennis this year. He reached the final at Brisbane and had great results at the Kooyong exhibition tournament, losing to Federer in a 3rd set tiebreaker.

Murray's loss was even more magnified by the fact that all players in the top 8 reached the quarterfinals. Except for him.

Meanwhile, on the women's draw, I got 50%* correct on my picks, with Russians Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and former champ
Serena all going through to the quarters. And since there were a lot of upsets on this side of the draw, there are a lot of surprise quarterfinalists too. We've got Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Venus Williams, the soul-selling Bartoli, and Australian (by way of Serbia) Jelena Dokic, who beat my bet Caroline Wozniacki.

I picked Elena to win this thing, and barring any injuries or chokes from her, it really looks like she's the one in the best shape among those left. C'mon Elena!


Update: Defending Champ Novak Djokovic just lost his quarterfinal match to Andy Roddick, retiring with heat illness. That's just a disappointing way to lose. Novak has won this before, he should've been ready for the hot conditions in Australia.



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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Near Misses and Actual Casualties

Lots of huge results happened earlier today during some 4th round action at the Aussie Open.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic (who's Grand Slam disasters continued with a 3-set loss in the 3rd round to Russian Alisa Kleybanova 3 days ago, which by the way, I predicted in my previous post), world #1 Jelena Jankovic lost to 16th seed Marion Bartoli of France (scoreline: 6-1, 6-4). Bartoli was the same player who upset then #1 Justine Henin couple of years ago at the Wimbledon semifinals when no one expected her to. I don't think anyone (except maybe her coach/father) ever predicted that she'd be able to beat Justine at a Wimbledon semifinal match, but she did. And I definitely didn't expect her to beat Jelena today, but she did it again.

I don't get how Bartoli does it. It's like her game is just a 7 usually, and once every two years, she manages to raise her game to an 11 against the No. 1 player in the world at a Grand Slam event. Maybe she sells her soul as a shared stock to the devil, thus the sometimes bug results, and the usually mediocre ones. Anyway, she's one hell of a quirky French player, so I guess I... like her?


Dinara Safina was another player who had a huge struggle in her match against another French player, #15 Alize Cornet (who defeated Daniela in the previous round.) The difference was she managed to win. Lil Sis Dinara (I've decided that she'll always be Marat's lil sis until she wins a grand slam...) was down 2-5 in the 3rd set, and Alize even held one match point before Dinara staged a huge comeback to win the match 7-5 in the 3rd set. With the two Sebs out of her way, I think Dinara has a huge chance to reach her 2nd Grand Slam final here, unless of course, the devil decides to buy stocks from Bartoli again. And in that case Lil Sis is toast.

Last but not the least among the players who were on a sinking ship today was, surprisingly(?), Roger Federer, who had to come back from 0-2 sets down to win in 5 sets against Czech #20 seed Tomas Berdych. Federer started off playing a bit wobbly, making a lot of errors and hitting some short,
loopy shots that allowed Berdych to pound the daylights out of the ball. But as the match wore on, Berdych started to miss his big shots and Fed was able to steady himself and hang tough. He better clean up his game though, if he expects to beat Murray in the final.




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Friday, January 23, 2009

2 Rounds and 2 Misses

The first two rounds of the Australian Open just ended and after 4 days of play, most of the major contenders for the title are still alive.

All except for Venus Williams, who just lost her 2nd round match earlier today to 20-year old Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. Venus played really well at the end of the year and I pegged her to reach the quarterfinals, but I'm really rooting for Elena D. to win this thing and Venus losing early is a good thing for Elena, so woohoo!

Another player messing up my predictions is David Nalbandian, who I predicted will lose to Federer in the semis (after he beat defending champ Novak Djokovic.) He lost to Taiwanese Yen-Hsun Lu (go Asian!) in a 3hr55min-5 setter.

And yes, me getting my predictions right is more important than these players getting match wins.

The 3rd round starts tomorrow with some really interesting matches:

  1. Federer faces former No. 1 and 2-time Grand Slam champ Marat Safin,
  2. The awesome Dane Caroline Wozniacki faces Aussie Jelena Dokic, who is making a nice comeback from loserhood,
  3. Underachieving talents Richard Gasquet and Fernando Gonzales face each other
  4. Underrated talents Gilles Simon and Mario Ancic battle each other.
  5. Newcomer Victoria Azarenka against former champ Amelie Mauresmo
  6. Ana Ivanovic meets Alisa Kleybanova and I predict an upset.
  7. Daniela Hantuchova vs Alize Cornet (no reason, I just wanted to mention Daniela.)


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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Picking Things Off

The first Grand Slam of the season (that's the Australian Open for you non-tennis loving peeps) kicks off tomorrow (hence the banner above), and here are my predictions of how things will go down in the next two weeks:

Mens:
Quarterfinals
(1) Rafael Nadal (ESP) will def. (6) Gilles Simon (FRA)*
(4) Andy Murray (GBR) will def. (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
(10) David Nalbandian (ARG) will def. (3) Noval Djokovic (SRB)
(2) Roger Federer (SUI) will def. (19) Marin Cilic (CRO)

Semifinals
Murray will def. Nadal
Federer will def. Nalbandian

Championship
Andy Murray will def. Roger Federer (I'll still be rooting for Fed though)

















*Substitute Pick: Mario Ancic (CRO)

Women's
Quarterfinals
(1) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) will def. (10) Nadia Petrova (RUS)
(3) Dinara Safina (RUS) will def. (11) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
(4) Elena Dementieva (RUS) will def. (6) Venus Williams (USA)
(13) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)* will def. (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)

Semifinals
Dinara will def. Jelena
Elena will def. Vika

Championship
Elena will def. Dinara in an all Russian final



















*Substitute Pick: Serena Williams (USA)

We'll see if I'm right in the next couple of weeks. I'm just glad the tennis season is back and Star Sports has full coverage.



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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is Excited About Caramoan

Oops, for a second I thought I was on plurk/twitter...

Anyway, my office friends and I are in the middle of planning our trip to Caramoan/CWC/Camarines Sur this February. Super-travel planners Tricia and Mia have actually found some good deals for accommodations. I'm soooo glad that they've got the talent for finding the best and most budget-friendly travel options. (They'd probably kick ass in TAR as far as looking for the best flights and travel routes is concerned.)

I've booked a Naga-Manila flight already, but haven't bought tickets for the Manila-Naga flight yet, because I'm thinking about making a side trip to my hometown of Gumaca, Quezon before I head to Naga. One of my cousins and her family will be coming here from the US on the same dates of the Cam Sur trip and they'll mostly be staying in Gumaca for the entire time, so I was thinking about staying in Gumaca for a day or two to spend some time with them.

The facts: The bus from Alabang to Gumaca takes about 4 hours, and according to my dad, the trip from Gumaca to Naga will take another 4 hours. The bus passes by Gumaca at around 11pm daily, although this being the Philippines, the bus schedules are really more like crank anonymous tips rather than a must-be-followed time table.

The 2 bus rides will probably cost around 500-700 pesos in total, depending on the bus company. I'm still deciding if I'd be willing to endure the non-continuous 8 hours of land travel and the busfare over the convinience of the 1-hour plane ride and the 1,200 peso airfare. (and spending time with my family and relatives who live in Gumaca, of course)

Also, I've been trying to research for Gumaca-Naga bus
details and the results of my google searches have so far been interesting but borderline useless as far as what I need goes (I guess there isn't a big demand for Gumaca to Naga tourism). I do know that I can possibly take Philtranco and maybe Isarog Bus Lines to Naga. So if anyone knows any details about that, poke me at the comments section. TIA!



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