Caroline Wozniacki defeats Simona Halep in an epic final at the Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark lifted her first Grand Slam Singles title at the Australian Open by defeating Simona Halep of Romania in a hard-fought final match. The 2-hour 50-minute final was an exemplary instance of tenacity and diligence as both players sensational tennis. It was Wozniacki who had that extra bit which saw her through in a final of epic proportions.

The script of the final couldn’t have been written better. Top-ranked Halep and second-ranked Wozniacki had never won a Grand Slam title. Thus, the winner stood to take home her first Grand Slam title along with the World No 1 ranking.

The first set saw Wozniacki race ahead to a three-game lead after breaking Halep in the second game. Subsequently, the set played its course with both players holding their serve. Wozniacki seemed comfortable to take the first set. However, things turned as Halep broke Wozniacki to level the set. The first set headed to an exciting tie-break. Wozniacki brought her aggressive best to court. A combination of deep and wide forehands and quick volleys forced a number of errors from Halep. Wozniacki’s onslaught for too strong for Halep and she won the tie-break 7-2, thus, winning the first set, 7-6.

The second set saw longer games. Both players held their service games. At 4-3 on Halep’s serve, she called for a medical timeout. She found it difficult to continue owing to the heat and humidity. Also, the ankle injury she suffered in her first-round game troubled her.  However, she overcame this obstacle and broke Wozniacki in the subsequent game to take a 5-3 lead. She went on to win her following service game and bagged the second set 6-3. Throughout the set, just when Halep seemed down and out, she came up with a flurry of shots that Wozniacki did not have answers to.

The match was set for an engaging final set.

The decider saw Halep and Wozniacki play to their strengths. The scoreboard oscillated between Deuce and Advantage on a number of occasions. Both players broke each other’s serves a number of times. It was Wozniacki’s time to call for a medical timeout.  She was treated for a niggle on her knee. The next two games had Wozniacki written all over them. She breezed through her service game and dominated Halep’s service game. A double fault from Halep gave Wozniacki her first championship point. Rod Laver arena erupted as Halep netted her backhand. The Dane fell to her knees in tears of joy as she converted the first and only match point of the tie.

Caroline Wozniacki won her first Grand Slam Singles title. The final scorecard read 7-6, 3-6, 6-4.

12-time Grand Slam winner Billie Jean King awarded the finalists with their trophies.

“I want to congratulate Caroline, congrats to you and your team. It has been a great tournament for me. I didn’t start well with an ankle injury but I just wanted to do well every match. Of course, I’m sad I couldn’t win, but Caroline was better than me today,” said Simona Halep at the post-match presentation.

“I’ve dreamt of this moment for so many years and my voice is shaking, it’s a very emotional moment. I want to thank everyone who makes this tournament happen, it’s been an incredible two weeks. I want to congratulate Simona. I know today is a tough day. I’m sorry that I had to win, but I’m sure we’ll have many matches in the future. It was an incredible match, an incredible fight,” said Wozniacki she said after receiving the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

Wozniacki has become the first Danish woman to win a Grand Slam title. She also sits atop the WTA rankings post her win at Melbourne.

Match Summary:

Caroline Wozniacki vs Simona Halep (7-6  3-6  6-4)

Match Duration: 2 Hours 49 Minutes

Simona Halep Caroline Wozniacki
61% 1st Serve Percent 58%
6 Aces 2
1 Double Faults 6
40 Winners 25
47 Unforced Errors 28
5/12 Break Points Won 5/14
11/12 Net Points Won 11/17
108 Total Points Won 110

Sources: No sources. I watched the match.

Sweet 16 for Rafael Nadal at US Open

Rafael Nadal was never supposed to succeed at the Flushing Meadows, he was born for clay and he had conquered the red dirt ruthlessly. But there he was, the Spanish Bull, marching his way and clinically removing his opponents to win the third US Open title, his 16th Major (just three behind Roger Federer).

In Rafa’s way he’s “very happy, no?” A year which turned out to be one of the best seasons for him. Biter of two Grand Slams and appearance in three finals, Rafa Nadal couldn’t have asked for a better season after two years of intermittent injuries. But this is Nadal we are talking about, he finds a way, he always has. His passion for the game prevails, his hunger for slams prevails and his motivation to play with confidence prevails.

The 2017 US Open promised another Fedal epic, as both Rafa and Roger were placed in the same draw and were set up to meet in the semi-final. But then came along Juan Martin del Potro (2009 winner) who aggressively defeated Federer and crushed the hopes of first ever Fedal match up in the US Open. When Nadal met del Potro in the semifinal, it took four sets including a bagel for Rafa to eliminate the Argentine. In the final, though not a thrilling one, Nadal comfortably defeated 28 seeded Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.  Such was his dominance that only in the last game did Rafa reach deuce on his serve.

The year has been extra emotional for the Spaniard. Rafa thanked his uncle Toni, who was watching his last slam with him as coach. “Without him I would never be playing tennis. It is great I had someone like him pushing me all the time. He had great motivation to practise with me since I was a kid. He is for sure one of the most important people in my life.” Uncle Toni, as all the fans love to call him, has been with Rafa since the age of three. He has been the maestro behind Nadal’s psyche, character and all in all the Rafa we see today.

2017 season was the year of Fedal resurgence. The last slam had provided a golden opportunity for the new kids like Alexander Zverev, Denis Shapovalov, Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric but all failed to cover the distance. This also makes us question us how the future of tennis will look like when the two legends finally bid goodbye to the game. But for now, the two are happy, neatly splitting the four majors among themselves.

Nadal Federer in the same half Sharapova to take the centre stage

The last Grand Slam of the year US Open will start from Monday 28 August. The draw ceremony for the same took place at US Open Experience in Manhattan’s Seaport District on Friday.

The tournament will see the return of former World No.1 Maria Sharapova. The 2006 US Open Champion will start the tournament against the No.2 seeded Simona Halep. The tournament could potentially witness a first US Open matchup between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Let’s have a close look at the draw

Current World No.1 Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are both placed in the top half of the draw and could invite a thrilling semi-final if both manage to stay in the tournament. This could be the first meeting between the two at the Flushing Meadows.

Nadal will start the tournament against Serbian’s Dusan Lajovic and could potentially face No. 26 seed Richard Gasquet in the third round and No.15 seed Tomas Berdych in the Round of 16.

No. 3 seeded Roger Federer will face Frances Tiafoe in the first round and could possibly face No. 14 seed Nick Kyrgois in second round and No. 17 seed Sam Querry in the fourth round. By the looks of it, Federer has a tough road on his way to capture his 20th Grand Slam. The Swiss master could face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter final.

Second seeded and former World No.1 Andy Murray is placed in the bottom half of the draw and will face Tennys Sandgren in his first round. If all goes well for the former 2012 US Open Champion, hewill be up against either Lucas Pouille or David Ferrer in the Round of 16 and a quarter-final set up against No.8 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

In the women’s draw former Champion Maria Sharapova will attract attention as she will be returning to a Grand Slam after her 2016 Australian Open appearance followed by her ban over substance abuse. She will start her tournament against No.2 seed Simona Halep.

No.1 seeded Pliskova is up against Poland’s Linette and is placed in the upper half of the draw. The potential quarterfinals in the bottom half could be Johanna Kontana against Sharpova or Halep, Grabine Muguruza against Caroline Wozniacki or ten time major Champion Venus Williams.

The absence of Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Wawrinka will help open up the tournament but also give an opportunity for the youunger players to step up.

Sourced from US Open

He bel19ved, He conquered

A year ago, Roger Federer would never have imagined to win another Wimbledon, a Grand Slam which made him one of the greatest in the history of tennis. With already 7 titles under his belt, Roger Federer came to Wimbledon 2017 with confidence and a well-rested body. He voluntarily skipped clay season to relax his body after winning his 18th Grand Slam at Australia. Sensing early the terrific form of Nadal and his own chances on clay, Federer withdrew himself from Roland Garros; the decision that proved to be wise when on Sunday evening as he went on to win his record eighth Wimbledon, making him the first man to do so. With 19 Grand Slams, he now leads the men’s tennis with the most number slams, followed by Nadal with 15.
The final score line read 6-3,6-1,6-4 against Croatia’s Marin Cilic. Was it a milestone for both the players? Yes. Was it a memorable and a fitting Grand Slam final? Absolutely not. Cilic was brought down to his knees by a majestic Federer. There were tears on either side of the Centre Court—one of victory and the other of agony. Cilic’s suffering reached its acme when he broke down during the medical break, and then it was just a matter of time. But it wasn’t just Cilic’s breakdown but, it was the exits of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka which helped Federer conquer London without dropping a set.
Federer was as buoyant as he was in 2003 when he won his first Wimbledon title beating Australian Mark Philipoussis. Federer in the post-match ceremony acknowledged that it was tough losing to Novak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015 but kept believing in himself. He said, “I kept on believing and dreaming and its fantastic. It is such a special court, so many legends marked this court. I hope it’s not my last match and hope I can come back next year and defend my title.”
Based on Sunday’s evening performance it is hard to believe that Federer had been without a Grand Slam for five years between 2013 and 2017. With US Open to go and dwindling form of Djokovic and Murray, the race to the top looks locked only between the emperors of clay and grass; Nadal and Federer. It truly looks like a #ThrowbackThrursday memory in tennis.

Serena defeats sister Venus to win Australian Open

The stage is set. Rod Laver Arena is jam-packed. The opponent is none other than the elder sister. She is only two sets away from becoming the only woman in the open era to hold the most number of Grand Slam wins—the magical number 23. She walks on to the court behind her sister, all set to break Steffi Graff’s 22 record Grand Slam wins. The task is not just hard but also emotional. She has to defeat her elder sister, her inspiration and her constant motivation.

She takes the court and in less than two hours Serena Jameka Williams wins her 23rd Grand Slam and 7th Australian Open 6-4, 6-4. With 27 winners, 5 double faults and 23 unforced errors against Venus’ 21, 3 and 25 respectively, Serena breezed past her sister and lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. The last time the sisters met in a Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon in 2009, where Serena defeated Venus 7-6, 6-2.

For Venus, it was a sweet defeat. The 7 time Grand Slam Champion was appearing in a Grand Slam final after 8 years and at the age of 36. She will rise to world no.11 post her final defeat.

The victory has also given Serena the world no.1 spot which she lost to Angelique Kerber last year.

Source: 1] Australian Open

The Williams sisters: A fierce rivalry

The last time Venus and Serena met in a Grand Slam final, Serena had 11 Slams to her name, Russia’s Dinara Safina was World No.1, Amelie Muresmo, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters were still playing and Garbine Mugueuza and Johanna Konta were yet to turn pro. It was the finals at Wimbledon 2009 where Serena won 7-6, 6-2.

The sisters first played against each other in 1998, at Melbourne Park itself. It has been a long and fierce rivalry since their first encounter.  Almost 20 years later, the two are meeting in the finals of the Australian Open. Whenever the two have met, fireworks have exploded because of the sheer quality the two bring to the game. For the 36 year old veteran Venus, who is in a Grand Slam final after 8 years, this is an opportunity to win her 8th Grand Slam and for her younger sister Serena, it is a chance to win her 23rd Slam, a record which will make her name immortal in the annals of tennis.
Serena in her post-match interview regarded Venus as her toughest opponent. She said, “She’s my toughest opponent — nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has.” Serena holds the winning record of 16-11 against Venus.

The Saturday finals could possibly be the last time to see Williams sisters playing against each other in a final. History will be made and the Rod Laver Arena will bear witness to it.

Sources: 1] Indian Express

Ana Ivanovic says goodbye to tennis

Former tennis world number one, Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic has bid the game goodbye. The 2008 French Open champion announced her retirement through a video shared on her Facebook page and Twitter handle. Ivanovic became the first Serbian woman to win a grand slam.

Ivanovic has 15 career singles to her name. She climbed to number one ranking in June 2008. Over the years, Ivanovic’s career was plagued by injuries and inconsistent form. Her ranking dropped to 63 (current ranking). In 2016 she managed to win just 15 matches. She did return to top five in 2014. Her recent success in Grand slam was semi-final appearance in 2015 French Open, where she showed the glimpses of her old self but soon her ranking slipped. She played her final match at the US Open where she lost to Czech player Denisa Allertova in the first round.

In her video announcement, she said that she no longer feels fit to compete at the highest level. She said, “I played so many memorable matches. But staying at those heights in any professional sport requires top physical form and it’s well-known that I have been hampered by injuries.”

Ana Ivanovic married Germany’s footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger earlier this year. Not having missed a single Grand Slam event since 2005, Ana said that she has lived her dreams and really hopes to have helped others do so as well.

Sources: BBC, The Guardian