Contenders at the US Open.

As the world’s best tennis players take on the hard courts of New York for the last Grand Slam of the season, the usual suspects – Nadal, Murray, Federer and Djokovic all enter with expectations of winning this title. There are some things which are quite different about the US Open this year, for starters Federer who has won this title 5 times is seeded 7th in the Men’s draw! Which is his lowest in the past ten years. The finals of this event have been scheduled on a Monday, which perhaps means that only the hardcore tennis fanatics will be around to cheer their favorite player.

In Women’s tennis, something that really stood out was Maria Sharapova’s idea to probably change her name to Maria Sugarpova in order to promote her candy line. It’s a good thing she decided against, fans would have definitely questioned her seriousness towards the game. However, all this because irrelevant when she withdrew altogether due to a shoulder injury. With Sharapova out of the running, there’s one less main contender for the rest of the players. Next in line is Serena Williams, she has always maintained the same daunting presence on court and although there have been a few unexpected twists along the way .

Azarenka won the Australian Open , and the unassuming Sloane Stephens beat Serena in the quarter finals. Similarly Serena lost to Azarenka in the Doha Open. In terms of other major players like Li Na and Radwanska, they have not been very consistent this year. All this points at Azarenka to be be the hot favourite for this year’s US Open.

Having performed quite consistently this year, Azarenka is the favourite in Women’s tennis.

Back to Men’s tennis, it’s quite surprising that Federer is seeded 7th. It looks like the Big Four has one again been cut down to the Big Three. Earlier this year it was Nadal who was left out of this coveted clique, this time around it’s Federer’s turn. This year Federer has won only the ATP title, while the other three main contenders have under their belts one major Grand Slam each. It could be that the US Open title may not see Federer in the finals keeping in mind his performance this year. Murray played some fantastic tennis last year, and it appears that he is the favourite this time as well.

Federer is seeded 7th, the lowest this decade.

Having won this year’s Wimbledon and last year’s US Open, there’s no reason that people should not bet on Murray to win it again this year. But Murray did have a bit of a struggle after the Wimbledon this June,  as he didn’t fare to well in his next hard court tune up and lost to No.6 Thomas Berdych.  Leaving Djokovic out of the fold would be irresponsible, as he is no doubt a worthy contender. Although he hasn’t won a tournament since January (Australian Open) the Serb has an unstoppable power about him which gives his opponents a run for their money. Rafael Nadal is also a force to reckon with, despite his knee injury his performance this year has been nothing short of admirable.

To view the schedule of the US Open click here. The men’s and Women’s draws can be viewed here. Did you miss Day 1 of the US Open? Catch the highlights here.

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Abstract

The US Open comes with a few surprises this year, like Federer’s lowest seed of 7 in the past decade. Women’s tennis is missing one of the main contenders,Maria Sharapova who had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury. It appears that Andy Murray is the favourite in Men’s tennis but then again the other two main players, Nadal, Djokovic have a fighting chance.

The Big Four Down to Three.

The most awaited tennis tournament of the year is here. The much coveted Wimbledon title is something every player aspires to win and this year Rafael Nadal is out of the running in the early stages itself. Nadal didn’t fare well here last year also, when he lost to Lukas Rosol who was ranked 100th at the time. After his impressive performance at the French Open at which he proved again that he is the king of clay, Nadal was not able to keep up the same performance at Wimbledon. It looks like Nadal’s  left knee is still not up to the mark, as he was seen moving with some difficulty with the knee taped up. Consequently this affected his forehand, because he was unable to plant his weight down to play the forehand stroke. Coming to the court with a taped up knee is not uncommon for Nadal, because since his return he has made it to the finals of all the tournaments he entered and winning an astounding seven!

The anguish on Nadal’s face after losing to Darcis is unmistakable.
Image courtesy:http://goo.gl/oQsbC

Ranked 135, Steve Darcis was responsible for quashing Nadal’s hope of winning the title this year. The 29-year old Belgian with a big serve, a love of the grasscourt game was able to beat the champ in straight sets (7-6, 7-6, 6-4). With each set his confidence grew and he took risks which later proved to be in his favor. He was able to draw Nadal to the net which is usually lethal for the opponent. Clever moves and placement of shots on Darcis’ part saw him the winner of this match. Yesterday’s match was probably one of the biggest for Darcis, this victory will definitely give him more confidence to take on the rest of players irrespective of rank.

In comparison to Nadal, Federer had a terrific beginning. Having the privilge of opening the tournament of center court, he was able to tide over Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 in just 68 minutes. This 7 time Wimbledon champion looked completely at ease and played some wonderful shots in the first round of what is to be a very exciting tournament. He had an almost flawless game, with only 6 unforced errors, 7 aces and winning almost 90 percent of the points put in with his first serve. Such a great beginning is vital for Federer who is eager to add another Wimbledon title to his credit!

Britain’s Andy Murray had a comfortable first round as well. He defeated Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Murray’s disappointment last year was losing to Federer in the finals. This year he hopes to win the title, and the be the first English player to win it since Fred Perry way back in 1936. Meanwhile, Djokovic has reason to grin as his draw is the relatively easy one. With Federer, tsongs and Muraay in the same draw, Djokovic’s toughest opponents will be Del Potro and Berdych.  Having lost in the semi-finals last year, and not winning the French Open , winning the title this year will him a chance to redeem himself.

All in all this year’s Wimbledon has already presented a couple of surprises, and the next two weeks are surely going to keep tennis fans glued to the screens. If you are looking to take that Wimbledon experience to the next level, www.sports365.in has some exclusive Wimbledon merchandise. Not only this we also offer a 20% discount on these products. Apart from this we also see some of the best tennis equipment ranging from rackets to apparel from a number of top brands like Prince, Head and Wilson.

Abstract

The Wimbledon season has just started, and for some the first round itself has been disappointing but others have moved forward. The blog article highlights the top players in this year’s Wimbledon tournament and how they have fared so far.

What the fortninght brings in sports events.

We bring you a gist of some of the prominent sporting events that are going to take place in the next two weeks. Whether you’re a cricket fan who can’t wait for the ILP season to start, or a tennis buff who is eagerly looking forward to Nadal’s performance on the clay court here is something that will interest you all.

One of the most anticipated cricket tournaments will be starting next week. The IPL matches are going to start on April 4th and with 76 matches in all, if you can’t make it a stadium to watch it live there is always Youtube. They will be resuming the live streaming of all the matches after renewing its partnership with Time Internet. Unfortunately, there have been some controversies and mishaps which have resulted in some key players not participating this year. Jesse Ryder the Delhi Daredevils player on Wednesday was assaulted during a night-out in New Zealand, that left him with a fractured skull. Ryder was rushed to a hospital where he is in an induced coma. This is the second player that the Delhi Daredevils have lost, after Kevin Pietersen, who was ruled out of IPL over an old knee injury. In addition to this Micheal Clark, Shikhar Dhawan and Pujara will most likely not been seen on the field. With the ongoing Sri Lankan Tamils issue, 10 matches which were supposed to be held in Chennai will be shifted to other locations. Despite all this the excitement and fervency of cricket fans across the country has not waned.

IPL starts on April 3rd.
IPL starts on April 3rd.

With Nadal off the courts in the Sony Open and his appearance in only two tournaments this year, tennis fans can look forward to an dynamic game from the Spaniard in the next couple of weeks. The U.S Men’s Clay Court Championship will be starting on the 8th followed by the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The king of clay is all set to live up to his title in these tournaments. Djokovic did not play too well in the Sony Open and it would be interesting to see if he has a different strategy in these tournaments. In both these tournaments some of the top players will not be seen. You can read more about it here.

The golf world has one of the most important tournaments starting on April 8th. The Masters is one of the four major championships in men’s professional golf.  Tiger Woods has won this title 4 times before and he seems to be the favourite this year also. If Tiger Woods wins this it will be his fourth win in two months. Rory McIlroy is still trying to find a swing that he will be able to trust and repeat for the Masters. McIlroy is more concerned about the path of his swing rather than his ranking for now.

Tiger Woods has a good chance of winning the Masters title.
Tiger Woods has a good chance of winning the Masters title.

What will the fortnight be without some high speed action! The Chinese GP race weekend starts on April 12th in Shanghai. The Malaysian GP had an air of controversy about it, with Vettel disobeying team orders. Not only is the course remarkable for its change of acceleration and deceleration within different winding turns, making high demands on the driver as well as the car, but also for its high-speed straights. One can’t really predict how the race is going to play out, but we can be guaranteed that it is going to be an adrenaline rush packed race.

We hope that this gives you a fair idea of what the sporting world brings your way in the coming fortnight. For all your sports and fitness requirements, do log on www.sports365.in and shop with us!

Recap of the Indian Wells tournament.

(Article contributed through S365 GBP by Haresh)

When one looks back, 2013 could be the year that Indian Wells distanced itself from Miami as the fifth major event in the tennis calendar. From the facility upgrades to the fan friendliness to record prize money, Larry Ellison and Co. have made sure that their event is the marquee event on the calendar between the Australian and French Opens. And here’s a recap of the major talking points from the Indian Wellsmen’s event.

Any doubts about Rafael Nadal’s knees can now be officially banished. The Spaniard may have withdrawn from Miami but that seems more like a strategy to rest up for the clay court season. Nadal’s undermining his abilities at the start of his comeback make his success look even more remarkable, and had he lost early, he would have had a ready alibi. Nevertheless, Nadal has shown that he is back and the expectations have been heightened. Anything less than an eighth Roland Garros title will be a disappointment now after the best start to his career (17-1). Nadal’s win over del Potro marked a record breaking 22nd ATP Masters Series and also his 600th career win and also moves back him back into the top 4, where he truly belongs.

Nadal celebrates after Del Potro's unforced error.
Nadal celebrates after Del Potro’s unforced error.

Juan Martin del Potro makes for an interesting case study. The Argentine is the only one from the Ferrer-Berdych-Potro-Tsonga quartet to have won a grand slam and as his wins over Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic this week showed, he is also the best big-match player outside the top 4. But Potro’s left wrist is beginning to bother him again, forcing him to use the backhand slice more often in Indian Wells – a strategy that helped him beat Murray and Djokovic. And the sight of Potro huffing and puffing late into the third sets in his matches has become commonplace these days – undermining his credentials as a contender in the best-of-five sets slams. Until Potro fixes that, the 2009 US Open may remain the only grand slam on his resume.

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic saw his unbeaten run in 2013 come to an end at the hands of Potro. The Serb did have his chances, leading 3-0 in the final set of their match. But it was Potro who made a remarkable turnaround to win it rather than Djokovic losing it. The Serb still has a pretty solid lead in the rankings but his dream of completing his career grand slam in Paris may remain just that – given Nadal’s ominous comeback.

Del Potro gave an amazing perfomance and was able to beat Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Del Potro gave an amazing perfomance and was able to beat Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Indian Wells was also a lost opportunity for Andy Murray. The Scot, playing in his first event since the Australian Open, needed to reach the finals to go past Roger Federer in the ATP rankings but was also knocked out by Potro. Like Djokovic, Murray will have a chance to redeem himself in Miami.

From the top 5, Federer turned out to be the biggest disappointment at Indian Wells. Federer let Stanislas Wawrinka back into their fourth-round match – turning what should have been a routine straight sets win into a seesaw humdinger. Hampered by a bad back, the much anticipated showdown between Federer and Nadal turned out to be a damp squib. While Federer did seem clearly hampered by his bad back, watching him play Nadal, it seemed like Federer has lost the battle in his head much before he lost it on the scoreboard. The Swiss now takes a pre-planned eight week break and returns in Madrid in May. He should be well rested by then but expect nothing major from him until the grass courts come around.

Tomas Berdych had another good fortnight. After back to back runners-up finishes on tour, the Czech reached the semis here but lost to Nadal for the 12th time in a row. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga also reached the quarters losing to Djokovic. The second-tier of the ATP continues to remain just that – the second tier.

Berdych reached the semi-finals but lost to Nadal.
Berdych reached the semi-finals but lost to Nadal.

Others who had good fortnight included Ernest Gulbis, who reached the quarter finals and extended his winning streak to 13 matches before running into the Rafa juggernaut; South African Kevin Anderson, who only recently returned to the tour after an elbow surgery and reached the quarters; andAmerican Sam Querrey, who made the last 16 supplanting John Isner as the top ranked American in the world.

Isner was one of the big disappointments in Indian Wells, failing to defend his runner-up finish from last year and dropping out of the top 20; world no. 4 David Ferrer lost in the second round to Anderson in a major surprise; Juan Monaco lost early once again and now has lost all four matches on tour this year;  and Mardy Fish came back from a six month lay-off and won his first match before losing in the third round. But Fish has pulled out of Miami – increasing speculation that he may not be mentally ready to return full-time to the tour after suffering from anxiety brought on by his heart condition last year.

The tour now heads to Miami with somewhat muted enthusiasm. With Federer and Nadal both not in the draw, it should be left to Djokovic and Murray to make the fortnight interesting.

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Clash of the aces:Australian Open, 2013

The Australian Open is two days away and the players are gearing up for the first Grand Slam of the season. There are high expectations all around, and with last year presenting different winners at each of the Grand Slams, the Australian Open is going to be a rather exciting, adrenalin packed tournament. Here are some insights into the top men and women competitors for Australian Open. In this post you will notice that Nadal’s name is missing. It looks like the rest of the players have a huge advantage here as the Spaniard had to withdraw due to a stomach virus.

Men’s bracket

The Men’s Singles draws can be viewed here: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/ms/index.html

Novak Djokovic

The first question would be if Djokovic can defend his last year’s title win. Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open consecutively in the last two years. Hard court is the Serb’s strong suit, and with his levels of skill and fitness any other player will find it challenging to vanquish him.  In the quarter finals he will face Thomas Berdych. Berdych is a worthy opponent, however if Djoker makes it to the semi-finals he will get a bit of a break as he will be playing David Ferrer.

Roger Federer

There is no underestimating Federer who was won an amazing 17 Grand Slam titles.  Federer will face Australia’s own Bernard Tomic in the third round. Tomic is a young player and has shown immense talent in the past few tournaments. In the quarter-finals Federer will face off against French man Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Tsonga also is an excellent player and will definitely give Federer a good fight. The most exciting match in this draw will be if Andy Murray and Federer face each other in quarter finals. All in all, it looks like this draw will surely put the 31 year old Federer to the test.

Djokovic and Federer at Wimbledon, 2012
Djokovic and Federer at Wimbledon, 2012

Andy Murray

Murray has given some stellar performances in the last season. His win at the Olympics was the crowning achievement of his career.  He also won the US Open Grand Slam Title, and with Nadal out of the way Murray has a good chance of clinching the first Grand Slam title of the year. He has proved that he will not go down without a fight. He will play against Robin Haase in the first round and another dangerous opponent for him will be Juan Martin Del Potro who is part of the same draw.

Murray after winning the Olympic gold
Murray after winning the Olympic gold

Women’s bracket

The draws for the Women’s Singles can be viewed here: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/draws/ws/index.html

Serena Williams

Serena Williams enters the tournament seeded 3. She is one of the oldest players in the Women’s category, and her presence only adds pressure on the rest of the players. Her unmatched talent and determination have seen Serena dominate the latter half of last year’s season.  In the Australian Open she will face Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals, and the Kvitova herself made it to the quarter finals last year. It could be that Serena will play Azarenka in the semi-finals, and this will indeed be a tough match as Azarenka is one of the few players who can match Serena.

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka’s toughest opponent perhaps is Serena Williams. She has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Serena and if they play against each other in the semi-finals it will definitely be a nail-biting match. Azarenka won the Australian Open last year. For the World No.1  to reach the semis she has to defeat Romania’s Monica Niculescu and then the rapidly improving Urszula Radwanska.

Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams
Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams

Maria Sharapova

Sharapova made it to the finals of this Grand Slam last year. It looks like the odds are in her favour this time around as she will not face two of the toughest competitors (Azarenka, Serena) till the finals. Sharapova posed almost no difficulties in Serena’s win when they last played at the Olympics. In the semis Sharapova will play Agnieszka Radwanska who has reached only one Grand Slam final up till now. The other Williams sister is in the same draw, but Sharapova should be able to handle the veteran, Serena Williams.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

The Australian Open starts on January 14th and goes on till the 27th. Do you have any predictions as to who the winner of the season’s first Grand Slam will be? The matches lined up are worth watching and you can get regular updates from the official Australian Open page: http://www.australianopen.com/index.html

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