vendredi 30 décembre 2011

Top 10 Predictions for 2012

After we saw the 2011 Top Ten, let's try to guess how the WTA TOUR Top 10 will look like after 2012, after its four Grand Slams, its Masters Cup and its Olympic Tournament ! I know that it is quite risky to do so before the season even began but you know that I love taking risks, I love being challenged so come here and say what you want to say !

1- Serena Williams (UNITED STATES)
When Serena's on, she's hard to handle (Melbourne, Australia)

Assuming that Serena Williams will strongly be back in the tour, playing a quite full schedule, I can see her back where she belong, at the head of the WTA ranking system. Her game is still very tough for her oppenents to handle because she puts so much intensity and so much power in all her strokes that she becomes a killing machine on court. We all know that Serena got this extra power when she plays at Grand Slam and she will be THE player to upset in every Grand Slam. I can see her winning at the Australian Open this year and clinching a Runner-Up trophy at both Wimbledon and US Open . She'll also win a couple of Mandatory Premiers in order to clinch this first spot. It won't be one of those "Serena's year" but, it could be an enough good year for her to dominate (one last time... ?)

2- Maria Sharapova (RUSSIA)
Maria Sharapova's determination is back on court (Madrid, Spain)

The Russian diva can definetely make it. She played quite well during 2011, but she was still far from her top and she's still got the motivation and the will to improve and ne doubt that her team, lead by Thomas Hogstedt, will help her out. In 2011, we saw a new Sharapova on court, hungry and full of will to be back to where she belongs, the top. Like I said, not playing her best tennis, she managed to reach the fourth spot at the end of this year and I can see her going even higher this year, assuming that she gets rid of her ankle injury. Maria Sharapova will just have to stop those up and down she still got from time to time. She'll be one of the biggest contenders in Grand Slam and, this year, I can see her winning at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. In fact, she's got what it takes to do so and even better, why not, at the Olympics, an event that she's always dreamt to play. Nonetheless, her inconsistency and sometimes, the preassure she feels sometimes on the court, will make her fail to clinch the first spot in 2012. Wait and See.

3- Petra Kvitova (CZECH REPUBLIC)
Petra Kvitova, will again, play a strong season (Melbourne, Australia)

She'll drop a little bit in the rankings to finish the year at the 3rd spot. Petra Kvitova is a great player able to beat anyone when she's on. And that's the thing, when she isn't on, she's able to lose to anyone. Petra lacks consistency because she lacks experience. She's still young and gotta learn few things. But, don't get me wrong, Petra Kvitova will indeed have a great season in 2012. She'll be one of the toughest player to face in Grand Slams and in all tournaments in General. In fact, she's able to pull out some stellar tennis to beat anyone on a good day, on a good week. But I can also see her sometimes, bashing a match and getting trashed when you don't expect it. Her season can be highlighted by a win in a Grand Slam, in Roland Garros, for example, or why not, in Wimbledon again. Mandatory Premiers and Premier 5 will also be Petra's objectives just as the Olympic Games, where she really could clinch a medal as she plays at her best when she defends Czech Republic's banner as we saw it during the Fed Cup, throughout the year.

4- Samantha Stosur (AUSTRALIA)
With her lethal forehand, Sam Stosur showed she's able to reach the tops (Osaka, Japan)

Samantha Stosur had an overall good year in 2011. Even if the year did not begin really well, she found back her tennis a little by a little to clinch the title at the US Open, where nobody expected it. That's women's tennis charm, everything can always happen, whenever, wherever and made by whoever. I expect Samantha to be steadier this year and to become on of those players that we will see at latter stage at lot of tournaments, including grand slams. I can see Sam Stosur reaching semi-finals at three grand slams this year, and why not having, eventually a quite good result at Wimbledon, where she's never shined before. I also think she'll win finally a big claycourt event, why not, in Madrid ?

5-  Victoria Azarenka (BELARUS)

Victoria Azarenka's determination (Miami,US)

I'm not doing this for Victoria Azarenka's fan who got all right to hate because I don't really believe in their beloved "Vika" ! But I really think that Victoria, even if she goes down a little bit in the rankings, will play a full, solid and consistant season. In fact I can see Victoria being a big threat at every Premier event. Actually she could end up being the player who had won the most tournament on the tour in 2012. But sadly, I can't see her doing great at slams. Of couse, she'll still be a tough oppenent there and a contender to win there but I don't think she's got, yet, what it takes to do better than what she did this year, reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon. In fact, I am not even sure if she will reach that stage in Slams this year as the fields will be strong and as she often got physical issues during the two-weeks events. I'd bet she'll play another final at Istanbul at the end of the year losing to either Kvitova, Sharapova or Serena Williams. I am not saying Victoria will never win a Slam in her career or something, but I just don't think it's not gonna happen this year. But I really hope she will prove me wrong by winning one because I actually quite like seeing her play and moving around the court.

6- Marion Bartoli (FRANCE)
Marion Bartoli show she's able to defend too (London, UK)

2012 could be another breakthrough year for Marion Bartoli, just like 2007 and 2011 were. Marion is becoming a much wiser and experminted player on the tour and she works on her weaknesses every year a bit more. For instance, she's the leader of ace makers this year when you remember who she started at serve, you realize that she is a hard worker. I can definetely see her reaching the best ranking of her career with this 6th spot at the WTA Tour ranking. In fact, 2012 Marion's season will be a season during which she'll be steady and will reach regurally the latter stages of tournaments, smaller or bigger. I can see her having one great result at Slam, in Roland Garros, for instance, but not reaching another Slam final as she did in 2007. Her biggest challenge will be to play the Olympic Games for France despite of all the issues she's got with a quite strange Federation that feels like she's got another top players to do it instead of Bartoli while, right now, they don't. The most beautiful end to this story is Marion clinching a medal to prove everybody in France, what she's able to do.

7- Kim Clijsters (BELGIUM)
2012 could be another successful year for Kim Clijsters (NY, US)

The Belgian mum will be back in action in Brisbane next week. Assuming that Kim will remain on the tour, I can see her going back in the top 10 but not going any higher than the 7th spot. She admitted herself that she was thinking about stopping playing right after Olympic Games and we know that Kim is no more the kind of player to run all over the world to follow the tour. In fact, I don't expect Kim Clijsters to win a Slam this year but why not to reach two or three finals. And this will begin at the Australian Open where she's got her title from last year to defend. Kim Clijsters will also be a threat on big tournaments such as Indian Wells and Miami where she remains the last player to have won them both back to back. She also could do well at Roland Garros while, except Fransesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, no one seem a claycourt specialist. The question is, will she able to provide Belgium a medal, which is her biggest hope...

8-  Vera Zvonareva (RUSSIA)
Vera Zvonareva's will to win (London, UK)

Vera Zvonareva should remain in 2012, one of the steadiest player on the tour, she'll be the kind of player who will regurally reach quarter-finals or better at tournaments she enters. In fact, Zvonareva will still be the kind of player which will always be a challenge to beat because of her fitness and her defensive skills. I can see her having one or two great results at Slams, and why not reaching a final. I actually chose this 8th spot because I sadly think she won't be able to clinch a title in 2012 (except perhaps in Doha where she seems to feel right at home). Perhaps I've been a bit harsh with Vera as I can see her going much higher than this spot with a bit of luck and success but, if she does not change something in her game, this is likely the spot she'll grab at the end of the year wich is more than honorable.

9- Sabine Lisicki (GERMANY)
Sabine Lisicki's teremendous serve (Roland Garros, France)

I can see 2012 as being a great year for the german player. She's prooved before that she was able to play some good tennis and her offensive powerful game is likely to suit all surfaces. If she's healthy and injury free, Sabine Lisicki will be able to play a full schedule in order to reach, for the first time of her career, the WTA TOP 10. In fact, she's able to do well at both tour tournaments and grand slam. I can see her reaching another slam semi-final by the way, in 2012, why not in Wimbledon again ? She'll be one of those players with lot of ups and a bit downs though which will forbid her to go higher than a nineth spot this year. In fact, Sabine lacks yet consistency and this is because she is not totally fit yet. Sabine Lisicki could, in a good week, grab a Premier 5 event and why not a Mandatory Premier, but this is still to much to ask from a player who just came back from injury and who is enjoying her time on the court. She came back strong in 2011 in order to reach the N.15 spot at the end of the year and can go even higher in 2012.

10- Caroline Wozniacki (DANEMARK)
Wozniacki's defensive skills (Tokyo, Japan)

The Dane is likely to lose her first spot this year but also to go down a little bit in the rankings scuring a tenth spot at the end of 2012. In fact, her recent results clearly showed the limits of her game. In fact, in a good day, any good player can overwhelm Wozniacki by hitting hard, deep and consistant : Maria Sharapova did it in Rome, Dominika Cibulkova did it in Wimbledon, Flavia Pennetta did it during the China Open. Actually, Wozniacki's attitude's also been doubtful sometimes, during Cincinnati and Toronto for instance. Her game is no more a secret or a liability for other players and even though she'll keep consistant, winning a couple of small tournaments and reaching regular results at Slams and Premiers.

jeudi 29 décembre 2011

Preview : Brisbane International 2012

Pat Rafter Arena, the Centre Court (Brisbane, Australia)

The Brisbane International is the first Premier event of the WTA Tour. Actually, last year, it was still an International event but this year things changes : Welcome 2012 ! And even if recently, Maria Sharapova announced her withdrawal from the tournament because of an ankle injury, the field in Brisbane will be strong.
Who will succeed to Petra Kvitova who won the Brisbane Open last year, against German Player, Andrea Petkovic ? In fact, Petra decided to play Hopman Cup this week and thus, not to defend her title of last year.
Before making any predictions, let's take a look at The event's Entry List

 1- Samantha Stosur (Australia)
 2- Andrea Petkovic (Germany)
 3- Fransesca Schiavone (Italy)
 4- Serena Williams (United States)
 5- Kim Clijsters (Belgium)
 6- Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)
 7- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia)
 8- Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia)
 9- Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
10- Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia)
11- Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic)
12- Kaia Kanepi (Estonia)
13- Polona Hercog (Slovenia)
14- Shahar Peer (Israel)
15- Chanelle Scheepers (Republic of South Africa)
16- Ksenia Pervak (Kazakhstan)
17- Klara Zakopalova (Czech Republic)
18- Tamira Pazsek (Austria)
19- Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic)
20- Petra Martic (Croatia)
21- Simona Halep (Roumania)
22- Iveta Benesova (Czech Republic)
23- Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain)
24- Casey Dellacqua (Australia)
25- Olivia Rogowska (Australia)
26- Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan)
27- Anastasiya Yakimova (Belarus)

Like I said, a tough field with two top-10 players : Samantha Stosur and Andrea Petkovic, two among the biggest stars on the tour with Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. We can also count on players like Franseca Schiavone, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

Kim Clijsters' forehand : a great weapon (Melbourne, Australia).
Last Year, Petkovic made the final here but I can't see her doing that well this year because of the field's quality. In fact, the strongest favorite for me is Kim Clijsters. She's got her Australian Open title to defend and the "Australia's little fiancée" loves to play in Australia. In fact, she won the tournament back in 2010 and if she's injury free, she can win again there. Of course, we can't count out the best player of the decade : Serena Williams. In fact if she's motivated enough and plays steady tennis, she's among the biggest favorite.

Fransesca Schiavone's great defense (Perth, Australia)
Besides those two, Samantha Stosur, the US Open champion, got what it takes in her game plan and her racquet to clinch the title, here in Brisbane. Her lethal forehand and her top spin knowledge could really help her out on that plexicushion surface. Just like her, Franseca Schiavone will have her word to say. The italian player can play some agressive tennis when she's on. In fact Fransesca is one of the fittest girl on tour despite her 31 years old.

Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic :  the Serbian girls (Roland Garros, France)
We can't leave either both Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. The two serbian girls, former world number one, still got some beautiful shots in their racquets. Jelena proved she was coming back right on track by reaching the final in Cincinnati this summer (l. to Maria Sharapova). Ana won the Tournaments of Champion in Bali playing high-style tennis and the beginning of the year could tell us a lot about Serbian's form and the beginning of the season could be a good occasion for them to pull some big upsets and why not get some confidence back.

Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova holding the Slovakian flag (Bratislava, Slovakia)
After the two serbians, the two Slovakians ! Daniela Hantuchova is one of the steadiest player on tour since she's been around there for such a long time and is still able to beat top players while Dominika Cibulkova won her first title at Moscou againt Kaia Kanepi. Both girls have beaten the world number one Caroline Wozniacki in 2011 and can really pull big upsets when their game is on. But I don't know if they can, right now, win the title. No doubt they remain threat for big names who could not play their best tennis.

My Pick for the victory : Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams
Outsiders : Samantha Stosur, Ana Ivanovic, Fransesca Schiavone
Potential Giant Killer : Dominika Cibulkova , Daniela Hantuchova, Lucie Safarova

Of course, we will make a new article as soon as the draw is out !

mercredi 28 décembre 2011

2012 Preview : Who will dominate ? Which new faces are we like to discover ?

While men's tennis is clearly domintated by the like of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The WTA Tour got big stars, of course, but no dominant player and that what makes it, in my opinion, much more interesting. In fact, when a tournament begins, you can't really predict who will win. In fact who would have bet Li Na would win in Roland Garros or that Samantha Stosur would clinch the US Open title ? Not many of us !

Petra Kvitova during the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open (Madrid, Spain)
And this year seems to go the sam way. Lot of specialists think that 2012 will be Petra Kvitova's year. In fact the left-handed czech player showed great skills : power off both wings, good speed from side to side and clean volleys, which is a little bit of a miracle in today's women's tennis. Winning Wimbledon and the Masters Cup in Instanbul this year, she learnt how to dominate the game with her modern style. The thing is , will she able to hold her nerves ? Will she able to handle the preassure that will surround her... In fact, she admitted herself that after her Wimbledon win she got overwhelmed by all medias surrounding her to explain why she played so erratic during the US Season Hardcourt. In fact, if she keeps so up and down, she won't be able to be a solid number one. Well, she's only 21 and she's still got a lot to learn a lot of things. Besides, she also perfectly represents the star the WTA was looking... Sorry "the hero". In my opinion, 2012 will be a good year for Petra, but not THE Year. She will win tournaments, she will be a big contender for slams and may win one (at Roland Garros maybe...), she also could manage to grab the first spot for a while, but I doubt she's handle her nerves until the end. I am taking risks since everybody thinks she is going to be the dominant player out there, as Martina Navratilova said, but I don't think it'll be this year.

All Maria Sharapova's happiness after her win over Cibulkova (Wimbledon, London)

Petra Kvitova has beatten Maria Sharapova in the final of the Championships Wimbledon and 2012 could precisely be her year if somehow she manages to heal her ankle, that she injuried at the Tokyo Toray Pan Pacific Open 2011. In fact, in 2011, Maria played a good tennis throughout the season, winning 2 "Premier 5" titles at the Italian Open (yes, she did it on clay ! Our cow on ice) and in Cincinnati Open. Maria is in the middle of two generations, of two ages. even though we know her for such a long time, Maria is still 24, which is young ! She's got the experience, the youth and, the most important : the motivation and the determination back. We saw her having pleasure again on the court. Her tennis is coming back to its top a little by little and this is thanks to Thomas Hogstedt, her new coach that helped her out finding back this lethal forehand (that, sometimes, she loses during matches by the way) and a quite average serve by renewing her motion (again). Maria's big problem remains the serve, under preassure, she cannot rely on it and usually hit tons of double faults (18 against Alexandra Dulgheru in Miami Quarter-final) which was Dementieva's big problem throughout her carrer and we know that Elena never won a slam... Even though, Maria got this extra-thing, she's got that will, she also got that mental strengh that lead her to win tournaments even when she's far from her standards (Cincinnati this week). For me, with few things back (and Sasha's fistpump from time to times) in her game, Maria Sharapova has got what it takes to dominate, again when she won, for example, Wimbledon in 2004, against...

Serena Williams crying after her 1st round win  at Wimbledon (London)

Serena Williams. Yes, the American player is still here, forever and always. After a tough year where suffered really serious health problems she decided to be back at Eastbourne and then at Wimbledon where she reached the 4th round. The US Hardcourt season was great as she won both Stanford and Toronto before reaching the US Open final. No doubt Serena Williams will remain the player to beat during Grand Slams and big events. No doubt that Serena Williams will not  let youngsters take her place that easily. As far as I am concerned, I think Serena is still a tough contender in grand slams and will definitely grab one or more Grand Slams titles this year. And this will begin in few weeks in Melbourne, where she won 5 times. 2012 could defnietly be one more year for Williams to dominate. The only question remains motivation. We all know that motivation is so up and down for Serena, but when you're back after such a long time, I assume your hungry and we all know that when she is, she can beat anyone on her way. The only sure thing is that nobody can say Serena Williams is not at the top, just ask the current world number one who she trashed at the US Open, in the semi-finals, this year.

Caroline Wozniacki hitting a backhand (Melbourne, Australia)

The current world number... Caroline Wozniacki, the young dane is the WTA Tour number one, no doubt but is she the best player of the year ? That's what's a lot of people are skeptic about. I am too actually but that's not the point. She plays great defensive tennis and moves very well arround the court which are great skills in today's tennis. She perhaps lacks power or intiatives and will to go forward but the biggest problem is her scheduling. In fact, what's the point of playing Brussels the week before Roland Garros when you're a bit injuried and you played Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome right before reaching final and semi-finals in Stuttgart and Rome ? What's the point of playing in Copenhaguen the week right before Wimbledon, knowing that the tournament is held indoors, on hard ? Well, it's home, sure, but whern you are world number one, you got aims and priorities. Caroline Wozniacki won't dominate in 2012, she's just not ready yet actually and with Kvitova's rise, Serena's back to business and Sharapova's form back, Caroline has a lot of to worry about... And I'm not even talking about her level dropping at the end of the year during which she lost to Roberta Vinci (Toronto), Christina McHale (Cincinnati), Kanepi (Tokyo) and Pennetta (Beijing). Nonetheless, if she comes back steady and as regular and fit as she was at the beginning of the year, she'll still be able to win some titles on the tour, but, in 2012, she is not making it in Grand Slams... unless Ricardo Sanchez, her brand new coach find a way to take her to a revolution in her game...
Li Na on the british grass (Wimbledon, London)
Talking about a revolution make us talk about Li Na as she offered China it first Grand Slam title in singles on her least favorite surface against defending champion Fransesca Schiavone. I think this has been way a too chocking victory for her and a way too difficult to handle mentally as she barely won a match after this unexpected success. At 30, Li Na will begin in 2012 the end of her career and I don't think she'll find this extra fire-power to do some damage as she realised a great season in 2011 except during the Olympic Games maybe. Li Na confessed so many times in her career that winning an olympic medal would be the greatest achivement of her life. She failed in 2008, at home, in Beijing, losing against Vera Zvonareva the match for the bronze medal. No doubt she'll make the London Olymics rendez-vous her biggest aim of the year and she still got what it takes in her racquet to clinch a medal there. Even though I can see her go down a little in the rankings, she will reamin a treath in Grand Slam, in the Australian Open for example where she reached the final in 2011, losing to belgian star ...
Kim Clijsters  holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup (Australia)
Kim Clijsters who began the year perfectly with this win added to two finals in both Sydney and Paris (Indoors). Then Kim's season has been full of injuries which made her play six more events missing both Wimbledon and the US Open and finishing the year outside of the Top 10. But no doubt that Jada's mum is going to give everything she got left for 2012 as it will be an Olympic year and that she always dreamt about winning a medal in singles. Also, Kim Clijsters said that 2012 would be her last full season played. We don't know yet if she is planning to retire (again) or just be a part-time player after 2012 but the thing is that she still got what it takes to be back to the top. She'll have to be back fast on track as she's got this title in Australia to defend. I actually think she won't win this trophy twice but will defnitely be a threat in other slams, especially in New York, where she feels right at home...

Sam Stosur's terrific forehand : her best weapon (Brisbane, Australia)
A home that Samantha Stosur took this year playing impressive tennis to do so ! The Aussie player will thus want to begin well 2012 during the Australian swing but we all know that mental issues make her lose a lot of matches she should've won, like in 2010, in the Roland Garros final. I don't know if she'll be able to hold her nerves and it will be her biggest challenge this year in Australia. She also needs to improve more on her backhand which can, in off days, really be a problem in her entire game. I don't think she'll win a grand slam this year but she'll remain one of those players who can pull out an upset from nowhere when you don't expect it .

All Sabine Lisciki's will on the British courts (Wimbledon, London)
The same goes for the youngsters we  discoverd this year that could pull some upsets and why not really make a breakthrough this year as Sabine Lisicki made it this year at the Wimbledon championships, coming back from an one year injury, she won the Birmingham tournament before reaching the semi-finals in London losing to Maria Sharapova 6/3 6/4. 2012 could be her year as a promising star. She's got a terrific forehand and a powerful backhand and moves well around the court. She can  pull big upsets as  beating Li Na at Wimbledon in the 2nd round. Her serve is her biggest weapon even though her second serve can be a bit weak. 2012 could also be a great year for the one who won at Stuttgart, the german Julia Goerges,
Julia Goerges celebrating victory home, in Stuttgart (Germany)

beating the world number one Caroline Wozniacki. Julia got what it takes to become a tennis star : terrific forehand that reminds Ana Ivanvic's one, a solid backhand and a flat effective serve. She also know how to vary her game and does everything well with her racquet. But she'll have to stay focused on her tennis and not getting disturbed by some fashion shooting and so on as Julia is clearly the likes of Maria Kirilenko or Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova, a tennis player with a hot body and a pretty face. Another young player to look for is young amercian Christina McHale that made big upsets this year beating Caroline Wozniacki and Marion Bartoli. Even though, for me, the most likely to breakthrough big this year is Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Pavlyuchenkova, Russia's biggest hope (New York, US Open)

The 19 years old teenager has this termendous power and a good sense of game, is she keeps improving on fitness and serve which can be abysmal. China, after Li Na, can count an another hero : Shuai Peng. In fact she played some solid tennis this year but her doubtful fitness made her miss the second part of the season. The list is ont exhaustive as we could also talk of Heather Watson for example and few more.

I know I did not talk about Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska but it's just because that for me those two ladies will probably have a regular season as they did this year, clinching one or two Premier events but won't be that relevant in Grand Slams or at the Olympics. In fact I think they need to be more mature and to believe more in theirselves. I can't see none of these ladies going further than quarter-finals at any slam this year. But I'd discuss with anyone who can make me change my mind !

Marion Bartoli at Roland Garros (France)
 A last word maybe to say that I believe in three players to do well in 2012 but I couldn't put them in a specific category. Marion Bartoli who had a quite solid season, will be, for me, one of the girls to watch out this season. She's becoming fitter, wiser and quicker on the court which makes a her a great player, who, can , in a good day, beat anyone at its top. Marion is perhaps not ready yet to win a Grand Slam but no doubt she'll be a threat for all big players that she could face. This year, her route in Roland Garros was much more due to her mental strengh than to her tennis and that's terrific, she's got this fitghting spirit which could lead her to a high level tennis. Wait and See

Daniela Hantuchova and her smooth backhand (Strasbourg, France)
My other pick goes to Daniela Hantuchova. In fact, Daniela is able to play some great tennis as she did this year to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the 3rd round of Roland Garros. This year, she's been really up and down but I expect her to come back at a great level as she usually do after three or four years of averageness. So for me, she'll also be a player to watch out. I know it's a big bet and I got chances to be wrong but I like taking risks and I believe Daniela still has great shots in her racquet to be back and strongly back as she's got one of the purest ball striking on the tour and knows to do everything with the ball.

Jelena Dokic's teremendous forehand (Melbourne, Australia)
 I also wish that Jelena Dokic will be able to be back on track in a great way. I don't know what to think of her going back with her crazy father but if it suits her tennis then I guess I am ok with it. Besides, she reminds me a lot of Daniela's in term of ball striking but in a more physical and powerful way. Jelena played some great matches in order to win this year at Kuala Lampur and did really well against Schiavone in Wimbledon, in the 1st round even if she's lost. I guess in 2012, I'd bet a coin on her to play some great tennis and be back in the Top 20 if she stays injury free. I expect her to play great in Australia and to come back fitter and mentally strong again ! I believe in Jelena.

Aravane Rezai in high-fashion style (Wimbledon, London)
My last mention will go to a player that went through a very tough year, both mentally and tenistically and that I truly and deeply support, Aravane Rezai. In fact she began the year in the Top 10 and finishes it out of the Top 100. Disappointing? But it's nothing  compared to all the drama that surrounded her this year : troubles with her father that she suied, with her family that she had to split off with because of a tyranic father... Reminds me a bit of Dokic by the way. But whatever, if Aravane manages to be back mentally on track, no doubt her tennis will be back and if it does so, 2012 could also be her year. I've rarely seen a woman hitting so hard, so deep and so efortless shots from the baseline, she's really talented and got what it takes the perturb best players of the world as she did in 2011 beating Venus Williams and Justine Henin, threatining Serena Williams in Sydney. We also know that Aravane loves playing for France and reaching the Olympic Games' cut will be the main objective for her at the beginning of the season.

To conclude, 2011 brings a lot of questions and of suppositions. We all believe in things that will happen or won't and I'm glad to share it here with you. The best answer we could get will be in few days when the Tour will begin in Perth, Brisbane and Auckland ! See ya !

mardi 27 décembre 2011

Let's take a look at the WTA TOP 10 : Andrea Petkovic

She's the player who ends the top 10 this year, The German player, Andrea Petkovic who finishes a very good season at the WTA's tenth spot in the rankings. Let's go back to see Petkovic's season highlights !

10- Andrea Petkovic (GERMANY)
2010 Year-Ending Ranking : 32 (+22)
All Andrea Petkovic's determination in that terrific forehand. (Miami,US)

2011 In Review : Andrea Petkovic begins her 2011 season at the Brisbane International where she reaches the final playing high-style tennis to beat Marion Bartoli in the semi-finals before losing to 2011's revelation, Petra Kvitova. The Australian Open is a good tournament as she plays some solid tennis, beating Maria Sharapova on her way to the quarter-finals where she loses to eventual finalist Li Na.
She plays steady tennis at Open GDF Suez (Paris) in order to reach quarter-finals beofre losing to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in three tight sets. She then goes to Dubai where she loses in the 2nd Round to Kaia Kanepi.
Andrea's season takes a new bright side at the Sony Ericsson Open, in Miami, where she brightly reaches the semi-final beating on her way the world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the 4th round. She loses to Maria Sharapova in three sets.
Then begins the claycrourt season and her first tournament is at home, in Stuttgart where she manages to reach the quarter-finals, losing to Caroline Wozniacki this time. She does not play well enough to pass the 2nd and 3rd round at both Madrid and Rome and then she arrives in Strasbourg and clinches the title in France, reaching the final where Marion Bartoli retires after Andrea's won the first set.
She thus arrive in Roland Garros with a good amount of confidence and she shows it as she beats Jovanovski, Hradecka, Gajdosova and Kirilenko in order to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros where she lost to a shinning Maria Sharapova 6/0 6/3.
Grasscourts are not Andrea's best friends ! In fact, she plays one single tournament on it, at Wimbledon and is trashed by Ksenia Pervak, the former Russia, now kazakh player, in the 3rd round in three sets.
Then comes the US Hardcourt season where she feels a lot better. She actually got great results there reaching the quarter-finals at Toronto where she beats Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and semi-finals at both Cincinnati (l. to Jankovic) and Carlsbad losing to Radwanska, the eventual champion. At the US Open, she reaches the quarter-finals dropping a single set against Zheng Jie in the 2nd round. Thus, she fails to beat Caroline Wozniacki and loses 6/1 7/6 (5).
Andrea Petkovic plays high style tennis during the asian swing and reaches the final at the China Open (Mandatory Premier) which will remain one of her greatest results this year.

What to expect for 2012 ? : Andrea Petkovic is defenietly one of the players to watch out in 2012. Her style is pleasant and she's got everything in her racquet to do some big upsets during the year.  By the way, this will be the biggest challenge : beating top players more and more until she becomes one and nobody will consider her wins as upsets. To do so, she'll need to play more freely because she admits herself and she thinks way too much during matches.
We also hope for her to achieve two things : beating Wozniackia again after her great success at Miami this year and to reach latter stages in grand slam , why not a semi-final or even a final ? Andrea Petkovic loves playing for Germany and no doubt she will try her best to do well in Olympic Games, even though, I don't think she'll got a medal.
Tennistically talking, Andrea has two big weakness : She sometimes does not want to play and just hit tons of unforced errors when she's in a bad day or totally frustrated. She goes on a terrible "hit or miss" which is actually 90% miss... She'll need to fix that knowing that she does not got the power of Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams.
Second, her forehand motion is a real liability as she can barely defend with it. She's got that weird motion that surely product lot of spin and power but impeaches her of playing quickly her forehand or playing a defensive shot with. That motion also forbids her to return well with the forehand. Something to work on with her coach, Petar Popovic.

The best of 2011 : Andrea Petkovic d. Caroline Wozniacki 7/5 3/6 6/3 (Miami- 4th round)
The best match she's played by far this year. She played a terrific tennis and her game was definitely on but she also held her nerves great to win this 3rd set. All credit to her for that performance

The worst of 2011 : Maria Sharapova d. Andrea Petkovic 6/0 6/3 (Roland-Garros- Quarter-finals)
I hestited for a long time between this match and the one she played against Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open but this one is the most significant for what I wanted to show. In fact, all credit to Maria Sharapova because she just played on of her best match in the year, she was hitting the ball so well. But the score was that dry because of Petkovic's unability to defend, she couldn't even touch the ball because of a quite poor technique I was talking about. A match to forget.

dimanche 25 décembre 2011

Let's have a look at the WTA TOP 10 : Marion Bartoli

Besides Marion Bartoli's final in Wimbledon in 2007, there's no much people who remember the french number one as a consistant player. But 2011 has been a really good year for her. For instance, she reached back to back semi-finals at Roand-Garros and quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Let's see how Marion's season looked like.

9- Marion Bartoli (FRANCE)
2010 Year-Ending Ranking : 16 (+7) 
Marion Bartoli hitting a two-handed shot, as usual, during the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells, USA)
2011 In Review : Marion begins the year at the Brisbane International reaching the semi-finals before losing to Andrea Petkovic from Germany. She then goes to the Australian Open where she loses to Vesna Dolonts from Russia because of a hip injury. The year begins in a quite average way.  She then goes to Emirates , in Dubai in order to play the Dubai Duty Free Championships where she reaches the 3rd round losing to Agnieszka Radwanska. At Doha, she manages to reach the semi-final, her first significant result of the season, before losing comprehensively to eventual champion, the world number one Caroline Wozniacki on a clean scoreline 6/1 6/1.
She then goes to United States for the American swing at Indian Wells and Miami and that's there where her season begins really. In fact, she reaches the Indian Wells final beating on her way Petkovic, Wickmayer and Ivanovic before losing again to Caroline Wozniacki but in three tough sets this time, giving the Dan a run for her money. This was a great final as Marion really showed what she was capable of.  She reaches the last 16 at Miami, losing to Vera Zvonareva due to fatigue
The claycourt campain began really hard. In fact, she lost openning rounds at Charleston, Stuttgart, Barcelona and Rome. Before Strasbourg, she won a single match on clay in Madrid against Simona Halep but managed to reach the final of the Internationaux de Strasbourg before surrendering against Andrea Petkovic.
She arrives in Roland Garros injuried and nobody know how she'll show up, and if she'll even do so. She finally decide to play there. She goes through tough first rounds beating Anna Tatishvili,  Olga Govortsova and Julia Gorges in three sets before enjoying of Gisela Dulko's walkover to advance to quarter-finals where she dissmises Svetlana Kuznetsova, former Roland Garros champion 7/6 6/4, playing a great match on this Suzanne Lenglen Court. She failed to reach the final, losing to Fransesca Schiavone, the defending champion, 6/3 6/3.
Then comes the grasscourt season that Marion likes a lot and here is the evidence : She wins her first tournament on grass at Eastbourne beating Petra Kvitova in the final, in a though three-setter. This title boosts her into Wimbledon with a lot of confidence. She wins her first round easily, before living two nightmare matches against Dominguez Lino and Flavia Pennetta. In the 4th round, she briantly dissmises the defending champion Serena Williams 6/3 7/6 before losing in the quarter-finals to Wimbledon's cindrella story of the year, Sabine Lisciki in a high match quality in three sets.
This good rythym stays with Marion as she reaches the final at Stanford losing to Serena Williams in two tight sets. But the next tournaments are harder to handle. In fact she loses opening round at Toronto to qualifier Kazakh, Galina Voskoboeva in straight sets 6/3 6/3. In Cincinnati, she wins first round before losing to Daniela Hantuchova in three tight sets 6/3 7/5 6/3. After reaching quarter-finals at New Heaven, losing to eventual runner-up Petra Cetkovska; she loses in the 2nd round at the US Open, in New York, to american youngster Christina McHale 7/6 6/2.
There comes the Asian swing that Marion plays under preassure as she is struggling against Agnieszka Radwanska in order to qualify for the YEC at Instanbul. But Agnieszka's great results won't make Marion qualify directly but just as a remplacant and this even if she wins at the HP Open, at Osaka.
Due to Maria Sharapova's ankle injury and retirment from Istanbul Masters, Marion in allowed to play a match against Victoria Azarenka that she beat in high fashion style in a rough three-setter. But season isn't over yet for Marion as she qualified for the Bali's tournament of Champions where she is forced to retire during her semi-final against Anabel Medina Guarrigues because of an ankle injury.

What to expect for 2012 ? : First to recover from that ankle injury that seemed quite serious during the Bali Open. Beside that, we really hope, in our team, that Marion Bartoli will play even better than this year. In fact, this was a great year for her, she's been consistant throughout the entire season. She does a great job with her dad and that's why she's got troubles with the French Federation.
We all know that Marion has not played in the French Fed Cup since 2005 because the French federation does not allow personal coaches during the Fed Cup weeks and this is a huge problem for her in order to play Olympics since she has to play at least two times in 2011-2012 in Fed Cup. But Marion got the support of the WTA and will intend to play for France by asking the ITF a special favor. In fact, she's always been ready to play for French team... if they have allowed her to come with her coach Walter Bartoli... Story to be continued. The greatest end would be, for her, to be allowed to play in Olympics for France and clinching a medal, to make Nicolas Escude's staff think again about this entire coaching story.
It's been four years since Marion reached her maiden grand slam final and never did it twice, yet. Why not trying to reach one in 2012. She surely has what it takes in her racquet. But in order to do so, she'll have to be physically strong and physical issues had a lot to do with Marion's loss this year.
Indeed, she'll be a big contender at all grand tournaments and she's a great giant killer who will be able to clinch great victories in 2012 too. We really hope she'll grab a TOP 8 spot in order to play directly the Istanbul Masters.

The best of 2011 : Marion Bartoli d. Petra Kvitova 6/1 4/6 7/5 (Eastbourne-Final)
This was Marion's best match in term of quality. I gotta confess I hestitated with the match against Svetlana Kuznetsova's match in Roland Garros but talking purely about tennis, Marion and Petra both played near their best level and Marion had that extra-power, the fire-power to go at then end of the match and win this mental struggle. Sublime match.

The worst of 2011 : Christina McHale d. Marion Bartoli 7/6 6/2 (US Open- 2nd round)
Here again, I hestitated between this one and the one she lost against Magdalena Rybarikova at the 1st round of the Barcelona Ladies Open but I finally chose the US Open match because it was a grand slam and that Marion is a really good player on hardcourts, in general. But this time, she was not feeling the ball at all, she was not playing good at all and she was far away from her standards. But credit to Christina McHale that handled well the preassure of playing home against a top player