Monday, January 25, 2010

Aussie Open Seed and Upset Report

The first week of the year's first grand slam is done, and that means the we've got the Final 16 and we've gotten rid of 87.5% of the players in the singles draw. Here's a rundown of the seeds and big names that are part of that 87.5% (a.k.a the early round losers.):

First Round Losers:
(14)Maria Sharapova (RUS) - the very first casualty, losing to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the very first match on Rod Laver Arena.
(8)Robin Soderling (SWE) - last year's French Open finalist is on 0 wins in 2 matches this year after losing his opening match to Marcel Granollers.
(13)Radek Stepanek (CZE) - Lost to Croat Ivo Karlovic
(16)Tommy Robredo (ESP) - Lost to Colombian Santiago Giraldo
And the lower seeds:
Men: (23)Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP), (25)Sam Querrey (USA), (28)Jurgen Melzer (AUT), (32)Jeremy Chardy (FRA)
Women: (18)Virginie Razzano (FRA) (23)Dominika Cibulkova (SVK), (25)Anabel Medina-Garrigues (ESP), (28)Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) - He's getting a mention here because I thought he was gonna make a surprise run. Lost in 5 sets to Mikhail Youzhny in a great match that STAR SPORTS DID NOT FINISH. Your turning into an also-ran fast, Reeshard.
Melanie Oudin (USA) - Had stellar runs at Wimbledon and the US Open, and got tremendous hype from the US media. Gives fodder for her critics that says she only got lucky at the US Open.

Second Round Losers:
(5)Elena Dementieva (RUS) - lost to former #1, 7-time grand slam champ, making-a-comeback-from-retirement Justine Henin of Belgium. Not really an upset, but still, too bad for Elena.
(12)Flavia Pennetta (ITA) - lost to world #16, US Open semifinalist, making-a-comeback-from-unfair-suspension Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium. Not a huge upset, but still, too bad for Flavia.
Lower seeds:
(17)David Ferrer (ESP) - lost to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in 5 sets after leading 2 sets to 0. Baghdatis then pulled out from his third round match just to irritate Ferrer.
(20)Ana Ivanovic (SRB) - lost to Gisela Dulko. Ana's ball toss has gone on to hiding after being thrown awkwardly into the air one to many times. The said ball toss is still currently missing upon this writing.
(21)Sabine Lisicki (GER) - lost to Alberta Brianti. Hasn't tweeted since loss.
(21)Tomas Berdych (CZE) - lost to Anna Kournikova's cousin Evgeny Korolev.
(24)Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez (ESP) - lost to China's Jie Zheng.
(29)Viktor Troicki (SRB) - lost to German Florian Mayer.
(26)Aravane Rezai (FRA) - lost to German Angelique Kerber.
(29)Kateryna Bondarenko(UKR) - lost to Great Britain's Elena Baltacha.

Third Round Losers:
(8)Jelena Jankovic (SRB) - lost to #31 Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine.
(10)Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) - lost to 5'5 Italian Francesca Schiavone.
(11)Marion Bartoli (FRA) - lost to China's Jie Zheng, her 2nd straight upset win over a seed.
(12)Gael Monfils (FRA) - lost to 6'9'' American John Isner.
(24)Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) - lost to 6'10'' Croat Ivo Karlovic.

and the biggest upset of all...
(15)Kim Clijsters (BEL) - lost to Russian Nadia Petrova. The big shock here wasn't that Kim lost. It was that she lost badly. And when I say badly, I mean 6-0, 6-1. Brutal loss.

(There were several other seeds who lost, but they lost to higher ranked players, so that's not really an upset.)

The second week of the Aussie Open is where it gets serious, where the title contenders face each other (and when I say title contenders, I mean the Federers and Nadals and Henins and Williamseseses.)

Go blonde Europeans!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Aussie Open 2010 Guessing Game

So every time a grand slam tournament comes along, I join this contest over at the Tennis X forum, we basically predict who makes the quarters, semis, finals and who eventually wins, plus guesses on extra categories such as the Biggest Loser (Top 1-16 player who loses the earliest) and Winning Ugly (player who plays the most games on his/her way to the quarterfinals), and some bonus categories, in this case it's the Homeboy Hewitt Hanging On (guess the round when Aussie Lleyton Hewitt loses) and the Belgians vs Americans (who wins more matches on the women's side, the 4 Belgians or the 8 Americans?) We can also earn extra points for every bagel and breadsticks our quarterfinalists bake. (Note to non-tennis fans: A bagel is when a player wins a set with a score of 6-0, a breadstick = 6-1.)

So here are my picks. I wonder how I'll rank this time...

Men's side
Roger Federer (SUI) vs Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs Robin Soderling (SWE)
Andy Roddick (USA) vs Marin Cilic (CRO) (substitute player: Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG))
Andy Murray (GBR) vs Rafael Nadal (ESP)

Federer vs Soderling
Cilic vs Nadal
(I'm a bit surprised with my own men's SF line-up, but let's see how it goes.)

Federer vs Cilic

Champion: Roger Federer (This really is more wishful thinking than an informed prediction, Roger might easily lose in the quarters to Davydenko based on recent results. He's already got 15 grand slams in the cabinet anyway, so this shouldn't be heartbreaking.)

WU: Reeshard Gasquet
BL: Novak Djokovic (the world #3
lost in straight sets to Fernando Verdasco, and in 3 sets to 17-year old, #291 Bernard Tomic last week, not a very good omen)
HHHO: 3rd round (to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis)

Women's side:
Serena Williams (USA) vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Venus Williams (USA)
Justine Henin (BEL) (substitute: Elena Dementieva (RUS)) vs Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Marion Bartoli (FRA) vs Maria Sharapova (RUS)

Serena vs Wozniacki
Clijsters vs Sharapova
(I made this prediction last Sunday, before Masha lost to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the first match of the tournament yesterday. Go Makiri! :D)

Serena vs Clijsters
(Wanna bet Serena won't be challenging any calls on this match?)

Champ: Kim Clijsters (picking up a back-to-back Grand Slam, the 3rd of her career, and remain unbeaten this year.
I'm actually rooting for Justine or Elena, but they'll be facing each other in the 2nd round, then Kim in the quarters... But really this is all just wishful thinking again, since the title will probably go to Serena anyway.)

WU: Caroline Wozniacki (she could meet Daniela Hantuchova in the 4th round, and I'm just hoping Daniela makes a match out of it.)
BL: Elena Dementieva
Belgium vs USA: America, but only by a small margin. And only because the four Belgians in the draw are all in the same quarter.

The Hopman Cup and The Up and Comer

So the tennis season is back on again, it actually started 2 weeks ago with the pre-Australian Open tournaments. The Hopman Cup was broadcast on Star Sports, and it's one of my favorite events. It's a team tournament, like the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup, except this one is a mixed event where countries face each other in 3 matches, a women's singles match, a men's singles match, and a mixed doubles match. This year, Spain (with world #16 Tommy Robredo and world #5 in doubles Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez) took the crown over Great Britain (represented by world #4 Andy Murray and 15 year-old Laura Robson.) What makes this format awesome is I get to see my favorite male and female players playing together (like Roger Federer/Martina Hingis for Switzerland way back 2001, last year's Marat Safin/Dinara Safina for Russia, any team with Daniela Hantuchova or Mary Pierce.)

Anyway, the main reason why I'm talking about the Hopman Cup before I proceed with listing my Aussie Open predictions is I wanted to add the hype on Laura Robson. She's 15 years old, 5'10'', won the Wimbledon Girls title last 2008, and was the #1 ranked junior in the world last year. And although still ranked outside the top 400, she showed some serious talent (she beat #27 Martinez Sanchez in the final, and helped a lot in the mixed doubles matches.) She's a lefty who can play with lots of spin and angles and while her game isn't just about ball bashing from the baseline, she showed that she can hang with the top 100 players she played against at the Hopman Cup. I guess I'll be keeping tabs on how her career goes, since it's taking a bit too long for Arantxa Rus to make her breakthrough...

So, are hyped up with Laura Robson yet?

Monday, January 11, 2010

011110, or 30 in Binary

So, 11th day into the new year...

I just moved into a new room. Except it's not actually a new room, it's the old computer/study room that no one uses anymore since no one in our household bothers to study anymore. It's also the room where an unfortunate incident happened.

Pros: My room isn't in the attic anymore, I've got a brand new, nice-looking sofa bed, and a nice desk for my laptop when I'm working at home (it's right in front of the TV.)
Cons: This room is smaller. And have I mentioned that sofa beds are a lot less comfortable than conventional big beds?

I just moved into a new role. Except it's not actually a new role, it's just a new version of an old role that no one wanted to take. (Oops, did I say that out loud?)

Pros: Flex time, and I get nice sum of on-call pay that makes up for my unfortunate stagnant salary.
Cons: I'm on call. On weekends, holidays, and the wee hours of the morning. There are others, but we can discuss that offline. ;-)

I wonder what the 12th day will bring.