Sunday, January 13, 2013

Radwanska cruises to Sydney triumph

Updated January 11, 2013 22:26:54

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska claimed back-to-back WTA titles in spectacular style with a 6-0, 6-0 demolition of Dominika Cibulkova to win the Sydney International.

A week after winning the Auckland tournament, Radwanska lived up to her billing as top seed in Sydney as she claimed her 11th career WTA crown.

Cibulkova had proved somewhat of a giant-killer in a surprise run to the final, but she was no match for Radwanska in a ruthless display by the world number four on Ken Rosewall Arena.

"I'm just extremely happy that I could play my best tennis ... and not even dropping a set so definitely another great week for me and happy I could play on a really high level." Radwanska said.

While the first set was more competitive than the score suggested, Radwanska constantly frustrated the 15th-ranked Cibulkova, countering the Slovakian's power with patience and precision.

The second set seemingly could not end soon enough for Cibulkova, with Radwanska wrapping up the match in just under an hour.

Chasing a first major singles title after reaching the Wimbledon final last year, Radwanska now heads into the Australian Open with a perfect preparation.

In winning two titles and nine matches from nine attempts, she did not drop a set along the way, raising hope she can mix it with the likes of Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams in Melbourne.

Radwanska, the fourth seed in Melbourne, faces Australian qualifier Bojana Bobusic in the opening round.

Despite a horror performance in the final, Cibulkova will arrive at the Open after a run of encouraging results.

She ousted 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and German second seed Angelique Kerber en route to the final in Sydney.


Tags: tennis, sport, sydney-2000

First posted January 11, 2013 20:48:29

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Sharapova out of Brisbane International

Updated January 01, 2013 20:24:49

Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Brisbane International with a collarbone injury but last year's Australian Open finalist still expects to play in 2013's first major in two weeks.

The four-time major singles winner, who had a bye in the opening round, was due to play her first match on Wednesday but called a media conference to announce her withdrawal this afternoon.

The French Open champion also pulled out of an exhibition match against Caroline Wozniacki at the end of December in Seoul because of a similar injury.

The injury to the Russian star's right collarbone left her unable to hit overhead shots and it was deemed too early in her rehabilitation process for her to play competitively.

"I haven't given myself a chance to hit any serves or anything over my head," Sharapova said.

"I've just been practising groundstrokes - I just ran out of time here.

"It is feeling much better. Soon I will be able to do all the things that I have to.

"I still have quite a bit of time for the Australian Open and I'm on the right track and training really well and I don't want to jeopardise what I've gained in the off-season so far and I just need to make a smart move now.

"It is much more important to be healthy than go out and play a lot of matches. Last year was a good example."

Sharapova, who also withdrew from this event last year due to injury, will now head to Melbourne and will not take part in any warm-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open.

Brisbane tournament director Cameron Pearson says Sharapova had made every effort to play.

"We feel for Maria because we saw first-hand how badly she wanted to play for the people of Brisbane," he said.

"She has been fantastic since she got here and worked hard in the gym, on court and in the medical room to do everything she could to get herself right."

The chief beneficiary of Sharapova's withdrawal is Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova who was set to play the world number two in the second round.

Gajdosova will now meet a lucky loser for the right to play Daniela Hantuchova, who beat fifth seed Sara Errani 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Meanwhile, the tournament saw another high-profile attraction fall by the wayside with 2011 champion Petra Kvitova bowing out in the second round.

The Czech sixth seed lost in straight sets to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-5.

Kazakh Ksenia Pervak, who upset Wozniacki on Monday, continued her winning run with a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) triumph over Poland's Urszula Radwanska.


Tags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000

First posted January 01, 2013 15:56:33

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Tomic through to Sydney final

Updated January 11, 2013 20:11:55

Bernard Tomic progressed to his first ATP World Tour final with a straight-sets defeat of Italian Andreas Seppi at the Sydney International on Friday.

Tomic prevailed 7-6 (12-10), 6-4, having secured a vital break in the ninth game of the second set against the third-seeded Seppi that allowed him to serve for the match.

He will face Kevin Anderson in Saturday's final, the South African having advanced after beating Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8).

If he beats the unseeded Anderson, Tomic will become the first Australian winner in Sydney since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 and the first 20-year-old to hoist the trophy since the great Roger Federer in 2002.

"Obviously [it was] a tough match, feeling a little bit tired now but that's what happens at the end of tournaments," Tomic told Grandstand.

"You don't feel as best you can but you've got to prepare for the next match and I'm into the final now and hopefully I can win my first title tomorrow."

The triumph continues an unbeaten start to 2013 for Tomic, who was undefeated at last week's Hopman Cup in Perth.

His run in Sydney, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final, is likely to arrest his rankings slide that saw him drop 12 places in the rankings to 64 this week.

Tomic chose not to defend the points he earned at last year's Brisbane International, where he made the semi-finals.

The lanky Australian certainly displayed some of Hewitt's fighting spirit to get to the final, having overcome heat stress in 40 degrees Celsius on-court temperatures.

After calling for the ATP trainer while leading 5-4 in the opening set, Tomic complained of dizziness and then had to fend off six break points - or mini set points - at 5-5.

Tomic then saved four set points in the tiebreaker before snatching it when Seppi dumped a forehand into the net after 55 minutes.

Seppi, who led Novak Djokovic by two sets to love at last year's French Open, was also the first to falter in the second set.

He dropped serve in the ninth game to give Tomic a 5-4 advantage and the Australian had no trouble closing out the match after one hour, 23 minutes.

"It was very hot and I was struggling out there but I managed to find myself and lucky I won that first set and started feeling better, and started to execute my shots and feeling good," Tomic said.

"I'm happy the feeling went away and I'll be ready for tomorrow night's final."


Tags: tennis, sport, sydney-2000

First posted January 11, 2013 17:49:03

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Stosur suffers upset loss in Brisbane

Updated January 01, 2013 07:45:49

Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur's miserable Australian form continued on New Year's Eve when she was knocked out of the first round of the Brisbane International by Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson.

Arvidsson took full advantage of 48 unforced errors from the Australian number one to win 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 on Pat Rafter Arena.

Stosur, who grew up on the nearby Gold Coast, has struggled to live up to expectations when playing in her home tournament and has not made it past the second round in four attempts.

She has also failed to make an impression at the Australian Open, last year losing in the first round to Romania's Sorana Cirstea as sixth seed.

Stosur began confidently against Arvidsson but fell away dramatically as her error rate climbed and despite fighting hard to stay in the match, she never seriously threatened the Swede.

"Part of it can be put down to being a bit rusty and it's the first match of the year," Stosur said.

Meanwhile in the men's draw, Australia's top-ranked Marinko Matosevic lost out to Japan's fifth seed Kei Nishikori 7-5, 6-2.

Elsewhere in the men's draw, sixth seed Florian Mayer beat Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-4, 6-4 and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen outlasted Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis defeated Australian wildcard Ben Mitchell 6-4, 6-4 in the final match of the night.

Earlier, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki lost valuable Australian Open match practice when she lost to Kazakhstan qualifier Ksenia Pervak.

In a titanic battle lasting two hours and 48 minutes, left-handed Pervak eased past Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) in the first shock of the season-opening WTA tournament.

Eighth-seeded Wozniacki had looked in control as she reeled off the first set in just 29 minutes.

But the Russian-born Pervak found her range in the second set and had the Dane constantly under pressure with her swinging left-handed groundstrokes.

She won the set to level the match then stunned Wozniacki in the deciding set with an all-out attack.

"I had a really tough match yesterday, we played for three hours and I was tired in the beginning," Pervak said.

"But then I got into the game (and) it was easy. I won a few games and I felt that I can do it and I started to fight more."

Pervak said she knew she could not give the more experienced Wozniacki any cheap points in the tie-break.

"I just told myself that I needed to be focused on every point and just play my game as aggressively as I could," she said.

Wozniacki will play in Sydney next week in a last-ditch bid to find some form ahead of the January 14-27 Australian Open in Melbourne.

"Obviously you're a competitor so you want to win and you're not happy about it when you lose, no matter who you lose to or how you lose," she said.

"I fought until the end today. Maybe I didn't play my best tennis today, but it's tough to expect that from yourself in your first match back.

"Hopefully I can now play some practice matches with some of the other girls here and then go to Sydney and hopefully get a couple more there."

It was 21-year-old Pervak's first win over a top 10 player and the first time she has been past the first round in Brisbane in four attempts.

Fourth seed Angelique Kerber survived a tough three-setter against Georgia's Anna Tatishvili, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, while German compatriot Sabine Lisicki had a more straightforward 6-2, 6-4 win over Czech Lucie Safarova.

French Open runner-up and fifth seed Sara Errani thumped Russia's Olga Puchkova 6-1, 6-3.


Tags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000

First posted December 31, 2012 22:10:12

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Anderson, Benneteau into Sydney semis

Updated January 10, 2013 16:29:37

Tall timber Kevin Anderson will be looking to cut down a few big names at next week's Australian Open after the unseeded South African continued his run of good form to reach the Sydney International semi-finals.

The 2.03m Anderson, who is only shaded by the likes John Isner and Ivo Karlovic as the tallest man on the ATP tour, proved too strong for Denis Istomin in their quarter-final on Thursday, downing the Uzbek 6-4, 6-3.

He will meet Julien Benneteau in a semi-final on Friday after the Frenchman eased to a 6-4, 6-2 win over American qualifier Ryan Harrison.

Anderson has enjoyed a strong start to the year, winning two from three of his singles matches at the Hopman Cup, the only loss at the hands of world number eight Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in two tiebreaker sets.

The Hopman Cup proved something of a mixed blessing for Anderson, who chose to play in Perth ahead of the ATP tournament in Brisbane.

Good results in Brisbane could have seen the world number 36 move into the top 32 available players for the Australian Open, earning a seeding at Melbourne Park in the process.

"It was pretty tricky," Anderson said of deciding where to start his year.

"As things turned out I wasn't too far off from being seeded at the Australian. So I think that was biggest downside from not playing.

"But I chose to play (the Hopman Cup) before I knew that (possibility)."

With a booming serve and capable volley, Anderson looms as a player the seeds will be looking to avoid in the early rounds at Melbourne.

Benneteau, a journeyman who has spent 13 years on tour and is without a singles title from seven finals, was also impressive.

A losing finalist in Sydney last year to Finn Jarkko Nieminen, Benneteau discovered on Thursday morning he would be the beneficiary of Isner's injury-enforced withdrawal from the Australian Open, the 35th-ranked Frenchman elevated to the 32nd and last seeding.

"For sure it's better (to be seeded) but it doesn't mean that you are going to win some matches at the Australian Open," Benneteau said.


Tags: tennis, sport, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

First posted January 10, 2013 16:29:37

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Tomic wins all-Australian clash

Updated January 09, 2013 11:13:15

Swimming star James Magnussen has jumped on the Bernie Tomic bandwagon and at this rate the rest of the country will too.

Magnussen was a conspicuous observer in Tomic's courtside front-row box as the 20-year-old claimed bragging rights with a convincing victory over outclassed Australian number one Marinko Matosevic at the Sydney International on Tuesday night.

Tomic reigned 6-3, 6-4 in the much-hyped clash of the Davis Cup outcasts to continue his impressive unbeaten start to the summer.

"James Magnussen, thanks for coming out mate," Tomic said as he basked in the glory of his latest triumph.

Tomic found himself offside with Australian fans after a series of meek performances and off-court controversies in 2012, but he has taken no time this summer to win back respect and credibility.

His victory over Matosevic follows three at the Hopman Cup in Perth, including a stunning straight-sets dispatch of world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

"Hopefully I can keep this tennis up and do better," he said.

"I think I'm extremely strong now. I played not too bad today. I'm happy with my performance leading in from the Hopman Cup and I can't ask for anything better."

Apart from being able to seize back his Australian top ranking if he goes on to win the tournament, Tomic's immediate reward is a second-round shot at redemption against Florian Mayer on Wednesday.

Mayer clubbed Tomic in straight sets in Australia's Davis Cup World Group playoff loss in Hamburg last September.

It was during that drubbing that Tomic and Cup coach Tony Roche were involved in an animated courtside exchange - all in front of unimpressed captain Pat Rafter.

Rafter had already dumped Matosevic for the Hamburg tie because of his poor attitude earlier last year and took similar disciplinary action against Tomic, suspending the youngster from next month's Cup tie in Taiwan.

By the time Tomic and Matosevic hit the court for their twilight showdown, temperature had dipped somewhat from the scorching 41 degrees it had been earlier on Monday.

Tomic was strong around the court, while the crucial difference was Matosevic's poor second serve which made it harder for the Melbourne-based player to stay in the game.

Matosevic won 75 per cent of points when he got his first serve in, but only 40 per cent on second serve - a figure that was not good enough to hold off his powerful opponent.

The first turning point in the match came in the fourth game of the opening set, when ended after 11 minutes when Tomic finally converted a break point to go ahead 3-1.

Games then went on serve until the ninth game, when Tomic broke again to take the set 6-3 in 36 minutes.

Both player went hard at it in the second set, until the pivotal fifth game. Matosevic quickly found himself 0-40 down, and a slashing forehand winner down the line gave Tomic the decisive break at 3-2.

Matosevic saved a match point in the ninth game to hold for 4-5, but Tomic went up 40-15 on serve and only needed one more match point to draw an unforced error from his opponent to end the match after 73 minutes.


Tags: sport, tennis, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

First posted January 08, 2013 19:30:41

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Nishikori in doubt for Australian Open

Updated January 09, 2013 15:59:46

The Australian Open tennis campaign of Japanese star Kei Nishikori may well be over before it has begun.

The world number 18 has succumbed to a knee injury and pulled out of the Kooyong Classic lead-up event, due to begin on Wednesday.

Nishikori, an Australian Open quarter-finalist last year and winner of the Japan Open, withdrew from last week's Brisbane International and said on Tuesday he had not yet tested his knee.

However, after hitting at Melbourne Park, he felt he was not fit enough to compete at Kooyong and will use the remainder of the week undergoing intensive treatment to try to play in the Open.

Nishikori has been replaced in the field at Kooyong by Croatian Ivan Dodig, a 28-year-old ranked 74 in the world.

Despite the issue, the Japanese was upbeat about his chances of taking his place in the Open field.

"It's not bad - let's cross the fingers and hopefully it will be okay," he said.

Nishikori is the second player to withdraw from the exhibition event before its start.

Earlier, world number 12 Juan Monaco of Argentina pulled out on the eve of the tournament due to a hand problem.

Tournament director Colin Stubs said Monaco's management told him they were uncertain how serious the problem was but doctors had advised him not to play in the next few days.

Monaco's spot in the eight-man field was taken by world number 58 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.


Tags: sport, tennis, melbourne-3000, japan

First posted January 09, 2013 11:09:13

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