Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No quarter given to the top seeds in Doha

The quarterfinals are set at the WTA stop in Doha this week and only three seeds made it that far: Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva--the top two--and Jelena Jankovic.

The other players left aren't too shabby with Daniela Hantuchova and Marion Bartoli among them. Anyway, though, since I'm here, I figured I'd do a little quarterfinal prediction/description-type thing and give you my picks on who'll get to the semis:

Wozniacki vs. Flavia Pennetta
If this was still the first few weeks of the season, I would have actually picked Pennetta. But it looks like Wozniacki's back in form, so I'm gonna go with her. (And yes, I know she's the number-one player in the world and she's supposed to win!)

Shuai Peng vs. Bartoli
A decent run by Peng here, particularly that win over Francesca Schiavone, but I think Bartoli wins this one. She really dropped the hammer down on Shahar Peer and might be ready for one of those Bartoli streaks, where she rips through a draw when you least expect it.

Jankovic vs. Klara Zakapalova
You never know who Jankovic is going to lose to these days, which is a sad state of affairs, considering she was number one in the world a couple of years ago. I think she wins this one, though.

Zvonareva vs. Hantuchova
I know it's been going on for a while now, but I'm still kind of shocked by the run Zvonareva has been on over the past few years. Even though Hantuchova's playing great, coming off her first tournament win in years, I'm picking Vera Z. I've been burned enough by not going with her!

(Photo: AP)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Milos Raonic is the real deal

It's kind of funny to think that the hottest player on the planet right now, Milos Raonic, has had losses to the likes of Simon Greul and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. But I guess beating guys like Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Verdasco, Radek Stepanek and today, Mardy Fish in Memphis, can make up for that!

The kid has played a lot of matches so far this season, counting qualifying results, but it looks like he's done with getting into tournaments that route--barring anything unforeseen. Truth be told, I thought that Australian Open run was a fluke, but I guess that shows what I know! But here he is, in his second straight final after winning San Jose last week. I'm intrigued to see what he does against one of the big bombers, Andy Roddick, who despite not being as threatening as one of the game's big four is a whole different animal from the guys Raonic has beaten this year. It'll be interesting to watch.

And I'd like to give a shout out to our neighbors to the North and the great run by two of its young guns, Raonic and Rebecca Marino, who is in the finals in Memphis as well!

(Photo: AP)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I never thought I'd write anything about Tim Smyczek

Bet you didn't think he'd be the subject of my first post in a minute, huh?

Write about him I will, though, not only for the fact that he upset Kei Nishikori at the SAP Open today, but this little tidbit as well:

Unless Robert Kendrick pulls off a huge upset against Gael Monfils in San Jose, the only U.S. male players to advance as far as the quarterfinals at a tournament over the past two weeks will be Smyczek and Alex Bogomolov Jr.

Those two aren't exactly the players you'd count on to carry a nation to prominence.

I know it's an old subject matter, but to me, it's just so shocking that there's no way you can ignore it: U.S. tennis is in trouble, both men and women.

I'm not going to go into it too much, because what more can you say? I try to keep things as nation-neutral as possible here at TTA?, but this is pretty rough.

Anyway, good luck to Tim the rest of the way: Your country depends on you!

(Photo: ATP website, Ron Angle)