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Archive for Tennis

Schiavone wins French Open

Francesca Schiavone beat Samantha Stosur in straight sets to win the French Open and her maiden Grand slam.

This was Schiavone's first Grand Slam win and she played so well she made Stosure not look like the played who had caused some upsets on her way to the final.

Many women grand slam finals are not very interesting because they tend to be too one sided but it wasn't the case with this one.

The straight sets win means that Schiavone dropped just one set throughout the whole tournament which in itself is quite an achievement.

I was hoping that Stosur would win because I think this presented her with a very good chance to win a Grand Slam and now I hope that she will get further chances like this.


Stosur storms into French Open final

Samantha Stosur's winning run at Roland Garros continued as she won her semi-final match against Jelena Jankovic in straight sets.

She has gone one more step compared to last year when she lost in the semi but she made things look so easy with a straight sets victory especially in the first set.

Stosur will now meet Francesca Schiavone in the final after Elena Dementieva retired from their semi-final match.

This should be an interesting final because it will be the first Grand Slam title for either player and its a chance they should seize.

Its good to see that Stosur's wins over Justine Henin and Serena Williams have been rewarded with a place in the final but it would be better if she can now go and win it. This could be her best chance to win a grand slam title.

In the earlier match Dementieva retired and I think up to that point it was a pretty even match.

Lets hope the final will be entertaining and that the best player on the day wins.


Stosur stuns Williams to reach semis

Samantha Stosur's march at the French Open continued after beating world number one Serena Williams in three sets to reach the semi finals once again.

After beating a former world number one Justine Henin in the fourth round, Stosur continued her exploits by beating the current number one and even saving a match point.

I don't think Williams expected Stosur to play as well as she did and by the time she started playing well she managed to get the second set leading to the final deciding set.

Stosur will meet Jelena Jankovic in her second consecutive semi final and if she continues the way she has played the last two matches then she could be in the final this year at Roland Garros.

In the men's draw, Novak Djokovic lost to Jurgen Melzer in five sets despite winning the first two sets.

For his efforts Melzer will play Rafael Nadal who beat Nicolas Almagro in three tight sets. The first two were won in tie-breaks.

So it looks like the French Open is getting more exciting as it draws to a close and I am looking forward to today's action when Robin Soderling plays Tomas Berdych.


Soderling stops Federer's run

Robin Soderling beat defending champion Roger Federer in the French Open quarter-finals to stop Federer from the 24th consecutive Grand slam semi final appearance.

Soderling who lost to Federer in the final last year looked like he was going to lose the match again after losing the first set but he came back to win the last three to send the defending champion crashing out.

This was the first time Soderling had beaten Federer after twelve previous attempts finished in defeat.

Another upset was the day before when Samantha Stosur beat Justine Henin in three sets.

When Henin retired she was the French Open champion and she looked she was marching to another final at Roland Garros until Stosur stopped her.

Soderling will now meet Tomas Berdych who beat Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets.


Federer marches on at Roland Garros

For the first time this year world number one Roger Federer is at the French Open as the defending champion after winning last year and therefore a lot more focus is on him when its usually Rafael Nadal who gets the most focus at Roland Garros.

The Swiss tennis player advanced to third round at the French Open and remains, along with Nadal, as the one of biggest favorites.

Federer signed this Wednesday his second victory in the 2010 Roland Garros without dropping a set, and therefore left out of the second round the Colombian Alejandro Falla after one hour and 59 minutes in a day that the rain appeared twice and interrupted the game at one of its best moments of the match.

I think that for Federer the victory in this tournament will means more than one merit, starting with beating his great rival Nadal if both get to the final, plus maintaining his place as world number one and show that he has no problem playing on clay, as has been said on several occasions.

Also, Federer is approaching the record for most weeks as world ranking leader with 284 weeks at No. 1, which now belongs to American Pete Sampras with 286, but if Roger achieves the Roland Garros, will have at least two weeks at the top and to overcome Sampras.

In the third round Federer will face the inexperienced Julian Reister, in a game that is scheduled for Friday. Undoubtedly, Federer is the favorite to win this game considering that these players have not faced each other before and that Reister has reached the third round exceeds all expectations.

However, I also have to give some credit to Reisteras as the German is 12-2, including qualifying matches and his victory in the first round against Feliciano Lopez in straight sets was impressive.

Finally, something to consider in case that we can watch the expected final between Federer and Nadal is that this week the Swiss remains on top of the rankings with 10 030 points, which is closely followed by the Spanish Nadal with 6880.

I will be following the results on the official French Open site and also on the BBC tennis site

Federer gets fourth Aussie total

This year's Australian Open men's tennis final was an interesting affair with Roger Federer once again showing how good he is when he beat Andy Murray in straight sets.

This was Federer's fourth Australia Open title and the sixteenth Grand Slam overall.

I think Federer was the first to settle and once that happened he won the first two sets and from I could not see Murray coming back.

By the time Murray won the crucial break in the third set, Federer had the cushion of the first two sets but he managed to break back leading to the tie break.

I still think Murray deserved to win at least one set and that would have been the third one but Federer was just a class act.

Every time Federer wins a Grand Slam he is now creating a new record which may never be broken for a very long time.

With three more grand slams left this year I can see him winning at least one more to reach 17.

Serena nets fifth Australian title

Serena Williams won her fifth Australian Open title after beating Justine Henin in three sets at Melbourne Park.

It was good to see a competitive women's final at Melbourne Park after having some uncompetitive finals in recent years.

I think Williams was just a bit better than Henin and that told in the third set where Henin lost 6-2.

The defending champion made sure she used her serve to great effect and the coming back Henin had no answer to that.

This was Williams 12th Grand Slam title and I can see her add some more given the way she played at Melbourne Park.

For the first time the women's final was an evening one which maybe is fair given that the men's one is a evening one too.

Playing both in the evening makes sense because the same reasons that brought the men's one to the evening also apply to the women's final.


Hewitt faces Federer test

I was looking forward to the match between Lleytton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis but the later's injury during the match meant it never becamse what I thought it was going to be.

But Hewitt's next encounter in the Australia Open is an appetising against the world number one Roger Federer.

I am not expecting Hewitt to beat Federer but I think this is going to be Federer's toughest test so far in the tournament. I am hoping also that Hewitt will be able to at least snatch a set from him.

In other quarter-final matches, world number two Rafael Nadal will meet Andy Murray and that could be yet another interesting one.

I think the men's defending champion hasn't reached the heights he reached last year yet and this will be a real test for him.

Murray is still to drop a set at Melbourne Park but he is playing against a player he has only beaten twice and lost on seven other occasions.

On the women's side the remaining Australian woman in the singles draw Samantha Stosur will face Serena Williams. I think this is going to be a tough match for Stosur with Williams in fine form at the moment.


Petrova sends Clijsters packing

Nadia Petrova defeated US Open champions Kim Clijsters in straight sets in less than an hour.

I had expected Clijsters to at least reach the second week but against Petrova she didn't go anywhere near the form that won her the US Open.

She only managed to win just one game but I am sure she will come back from this.

This was probably the biggest upset for week one following another loss for former finalist Maria Sharapova who was knocked out in the first round.

Sharapova lost to Maria Kirilenko in three sets but unlike Clijsters loss that was a hard fought loss because the match went for more than three hours.


Davydenko takes Tour title

Nikolay Davydenko avenged last year's loss in the World Tour Finals final when he beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in this year's final.

Last year Davydenko reached the final but he lost to Novak Djokovic.

But this year he overcame Roger Federer for the first time and I think it was to see him follow that up with a victory in the final.

I was surprised to that the final was won in straight sets especially when the latter matches in this tournament went to three sets.

Notably Rafael Nadal lost all his three round robin matches in straight sets.

So now the next tennis action will be in the New Year and I also look forward to a competitive Australian Open next January.

Davydenko to meet Del Potro in final

Nikolay Davydenko reached the final of the ATP World Tour Finals after beating world number one Roger Federer in three sets.

He will meet Juan Martin del Potro who also beat Robin Soderling in three sets.

I was surprised to see Davydenko beat Federer especially as the current world number one looked unstoppable in his first two matches and also he had more rest having playing his last group match two days earlier.

Also this was a major victory for Davydenko because he had never beaten Federer before in thirteen attempts.

Soderling who also started the tournament by winning his first two round robin matches was beaten by Del Potro who had to win his last match to reach the semis.

I think its going to be a very interesting final and I think that maybe this time Davydenko will win after losing to Novak Djokovic last year.


Davydenko to face Federer

Nikolay Davydenko progressed to the semis of the ATP World Tour Finals after beating Robin Soderling in three sets.

Only a win could get Davydekno into the semis after defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the first match.

For his efforts Davydenko will meet world number one Roger Federer whilst Soderling will meet Juan Martin del Potro.

This loss was the first loss for Soderling and I am keen to see how he will perform in his semi. I will not be surprised to see him in the final and once he is in there it could be very interesting.

I am expecting to see Federer in the final unless Davydenko plays the game of his life because Federer looks likes he is in top form at the moment.


Del Potro in, Murray out

Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in three sets to reach the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals and knock out Andy Murray.

This was a very tight group in which Murray needed Del Potro to lose in order to be guaranteed of reaching the semis but Del Potro marched to the semis instead on percentages.

Del Potro started the match strongest and won the first set but the world number one won the tight second set on a tie-break.

So in Federer's group Murray and Fernando Verdasco miss out and join former world number one Rafael Nadal who is already out after losing his first two matches.

So two out of Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko and Novak Djokovic will be joining Federer and Del Potro when the group matches are concluded.


Serena claims Doha title

Serena Williams beat her sister Venus in straight sets to claim the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha.

I was not surprised by the result because Serena had earlier beaten her sister in the group stages and Venus just made it to the knockout stage.

This tournament has seen a number of injuries and retirement and it wasn't surprising to see the Williams sisters coming strapped and it seemed like one of them was going to retire hurt before match finish.

It was good to see that the match went the full length with no retirements.

Serena will now end the year as number one which might hand now because I think next year its going to be more competitive with Kim Clijsters starting from the start and Justine Henin making a comeback.

Venus, Serena in Doha final

Defending champion Venus Williams will meet her sister Serena in the Sony Ericsson Championship final in Doha.

To reach the final Venus beat Jelena Jankovic in three sets in their semi-final and it was a great comeback after losing the first set.

Serena on the other hand won her semi when Caroline Wozniacki retired injured when she was leading 6-4, 0-1.

Serena has won all her four matches in Doha whilst Venus has only won the last two.

Infact she was in danger of missing the semis but Svetlana Kuznetsova's win over Russian Elena Dementieva enabled her to scrap through.

I think Serena will win the final after beating Venus in their group match and I think it will be a tight match because Venus seems to be picking up form now.

Its amazing the number of injuries in this tournament or maybe is that to be expected in a season ending tournament.


Poor start for Venus

Venus Williams had a poor start at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha after she lost to Elena Dementieva in three sets.

Venus is the defending champion in this season ending tournament and she got the first set but then went on to lose the tight second set.

There are two groups of four and the Williams sisters plus Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dementieva are in one group.

The other group comprises of current world number one Dinara Safina plus Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic.

Venus' next match is against Serena and she will need to win that one in order to reach the semis. The two top players in each group get semi-final berths.

In other matches Serena beat Kuznetsova whilst Azarenka overcame former world number one Jankovic.


Stosur wins maiden title

At last Samantha Stosur has won a maiden WTA Tour title after beating Francesca Schiavone in straights in the final of the Japan Open.

Stosur has played very well in this tournament and I thought that she was going to struggle and possibly to Caroline Wozniacki in the semis. But she came through and she dropped the only set in the whole tournament.

This was Stosur's sixth WTA Tour final and so she has made it on her sixth attempt which is not too bad.

I hope this is the start of many titles and this is certainly very good for Australian tennis.


Henin to make a comeback

Justine Henin will make a comeback next year at the Australian Open after announcing that she will be coming out of retirement.

This comes after Kim Clijsters won the just ended US Open after having been in retirement for more than two years.

I think this will be good for women's tennis but maybe not so good for world number one Dinara Safina who has so far failed to win a grand slam.

This year has also seen the comeback of Maria Sharapova from injury and so I think the Australia Open will be very competitive and I am looking forward to that.


Del Potro stuns Federer

Juan Martin del Potro won his first Grand Slam after beating world number one Roger Federer in five sets.

Before this match I had thought that Federer was going to extend his grand slam wins to 16 but Del Potro carried over from his semi-final win over Rafael Nadal to stop Federer's run of wins at Flushing Meadows.

I also think that Del Potro maintained throughout and avoided the Andy Roddick's mistakes at Wimbledon where he could also have beaten Federer.

I think its good to see a player reach his first grand slam, overcome the nerves and go on and win it.

I also think that despite losing the final, Federer has played so well in this tournament to stamp his authority as world number one and I am sure he will be able to extend his number of grand slam wins beyond 15.

But for now Del Potro should celebrate for pulling an unlikely win and stop a player who had not lost in six years at Flushing Meadows. I hope he will go ahead and more grand slam titles.


Clijsters wins US Open

Kim Clijsters has won the US Open final after beating Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.

This is a great result considering the fact that Clijsters is coming out of retirement just last month.

Also on her way to the final, she beat both Venus and Serena Williams and I think that shows she is in top form.

Meanwhile in the men's final, Roger Federer will fight it out against Juan Martin del Potro as Federer goes for his 16th grand slam title and sixth straight US Open title.

Del Potro easily beat former world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets to reach his first grand slam final.

Federer on the other hand beat Novak Djokovic in his semi and I think he will win once again this year.


Clijsters march continues

Kim Clijsters beat Li Na in straight sets in the US Open and will now face Serena Williams in the semis.

After beating Venus Williams earlier on, Clijsters has continued her march to the semis by easily beating Na in straight sets and now faces the challenge of playing defending champion Williams in the semis.

Another interesting result saw second seed Andy Murray dumped out of the Flushing Meadows by Marin Cilic.

I had thought that Murray was going to go further than that especially after having had a remarkable year so far but Cilic totally outplayed him.

Reaching the quarters though will be world number three Rafael Nadal who beat Gael Monfils despite dropping the first set.

Fernando Gonzalez now awaits Nadal in the quarter-finals while Cilic will play Juan Martin del Potro.

Safina, Roddick knocked out

World number one Dinara Safina will have to wait for the Australian Open in January for her maiden Grand Slam title after she was knocked out of the US Open.

Safina who just made it to the third round at Flushing Meadows after struggling through the first two rounds lost in three sets to Petra Kvitova.

Also going out is Maria Sharapova who lost in three sets to unseeded Melanie Oudin. I thought Sharapova was going to make it to at least the second week but that did not happen.

In the men's draw Lleyton Hewitt lost once again to Roger Federer in four sets. After winning the first set I thought Hewitt was at least going to force the match to five sets but the world number one came firing back to win the last two sets.

Going out also in the third round is Andy Roddick who lost in five sets to John Isner. After reaching the final at Wimbledon, I thought Roddick had a good chance of reaching the latter stages at Flushing Meadows but he will have to try again next year.

I am keen to see how Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will fare at the US Open. I still think Federer will go all the way and win it again but after today's upsets you just never know.


Federer triumphs in Cincinnati

Roger Federer is edging towards another record after the world number one beat Novak Djokovic in four sets and claim his sixteenth Master's title.

Federer is just one title away from reaching the record 17 Masters title won by Andre Agassi. I think Federer will reach that milestone and pass it to set his own record now that he has found his form again.

Federer completely dominated the first set winning it 6-1 but Djokovic gave some resistance in the second as he lost 7-5.

This was a very good preparation for Federer having beaten Andy Murray in the semis and with the US Open only a week away he is once again the favourite to win the last grand slam of the year.


Federer sets new mark

Roger Federer won the Wimbledon title after he beat Andy Roddick in five sets and in doing so set a new mark for number of grand slam titles won.

This sixth All England title was his 15th grand slam win thus breaking the record he shared with Pete Sampras.

I think Federer will go ahead and win even more titles but I think its not going to be easy anymore after the way Roddick pushed him all the way.

After last year's exciting final which was won by Rafael Nadal, I thought that we wouldn't see anything nearer that this year but this year's final was also great in its own way.

The fifth set kept on going and I think Roddick knows that he came so close to winning the Wimbledon title and that could have been best chance.

Meanwhile, in the women's final this time Serena Williams beat her sister Venus in two sets.

I had thought Venus was going to be able to defend her title but on the day Serena was more determined to win her eleventh title overall.

Thats it for this year's Wimbledon and I hope that next year we will witness yet another epic final.

Roddick stops Murray to reach final

Andy Roddick won the battle of the Andys when he beat Andy Murray in four sets to reach the Wimbledon final.

Roger Federer was first into the final after beating Tommy Haas in straight sets and that will be Federer's seventh final at SW19.

Although Haas lost by straight sets, I think he actually played quite well in the first two sets and the world number two needed a tie-break to win the first set after he failed to break him in that set.

He was only able to break him in the second set and then Federer took charge in the last to reach the final.

Murray seeded third at this year's tournament was favourite to reach his first final at Wimbledon but he met Roddick playing at the top end of his game.

Roddick has been playing his best tennis for a long time at this tournament and I am sure he will give Federer a good run.

Federer has only dropped one set so far and I hope that the final will be nearly as good as last year's one.

I think Federer will have enough experience to brush aside Roddick maybe not in straight sets.

Meanwhile the women's final will be contested between the Williams sisters. The sisters had very contrasting semis with Venus having an easy cruise past Dinara Safina in less than an hour.

On the other hand Serena battled for more than three hours after losing the first set against Elena Dementieva.

I am hoping that Venus will retain her title after her showing in the semis when she made Safina anything other than number one.

Haas dumps Djokovic to reach semis

Tommy Haas won his quarter-final match against Novak Djokovic to reach the semis where he is going to face Roger Federer.

Federer had an easy workout against Ivo Karlovic whom he beat in straight sets and must now be in a good position to reach the final.

I had thought all along that Federer was going to face Djokovic in the semis but Haas started the match well and made sure that he won the first set. By the time Djokovic won the third set Haas was already two sets up and he wrapped up the fourth to proceed to his highest stage at Wimbledon.

The fairy tale ended for Lleyton Hewitt as he lost to Andy Roddick in five sets. I still think this match could easily have gone either way but Hewitt did not look 100% fit and I think that was the difference.

Roddick will face Andy Murray who beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets.

I am thinking that Roddick might just sneak past Murray to reach the final but Murray will have the crowd behind him and so its this is going to be the more interesting semi of the two.

Meanwhile in the women's draw the Williams sisters may face each other in the final with Serena playing Elena Dementieva and Venus facing world number one Dinara Safina.


Hewitt to face Roddick in quarters

Lleyton Hewitt came from two sets down to beat Radek Stepanek to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

His next match will now be against Andy Roddick and I think that will be a very tough one. I never expected Hewitt to reach the second week let alone the quarters but I think the key was beating fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.

If he gets past Roddick then he could end play either Andy Murray or Juan Carlos Ferrero.

At this stage I still think that Roger Federer will win this year's Wimbledon and set a new record of grand slam wins. With Rafael Nadal out, I think this is his best chance to set the record.

Local favourite Murray continues to impress but I still he will have no chance against Federer should the two meet in the final.

In other semi-final matches, Murray will meet Ferrero, Tommy Haas will meet Novak Djokovic and Federer will square up against Ivo Karlovic.


Nadal out of Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal will not be able to defend his Wimbledon title after pulling out because of knee injury.

I was looking forward to see if Nadal would repeat his heroics of last year but the injury has put a stop to that and I think this is very unfortunate.

With Nadal out world number two Roger Federer becomes the favourite and he now has a very good chance to go and create a new record of Grand Slam wins.

Its always good to see the best players in a tournament but at this year's Wimbledon injury has meant that Nadal will not participate and I hope that despite that we will see some exciting tennis over the next fortnight.


Federer finally wins French Open

Roger Federer finally won the French Open this year after he beat Robin Soderling in straight sets in the final.

This win was so important because it means that Federer has now equalled Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slam titles and he will now play to set his own record.

It was also important in that this was the only Grand slam Federer had not won and it means that he has now won all four majors.

Sampras got his 14 titles without winning the French Open and so in that regard Federer has also set a new mark in itself.

I thought Soderling was not his usual self in the final especially in the first set and I think it could be to do with stage of being in the final.

Soderling became the first man to beat world number one Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros and I think he did well to go all the way to the final but he found Federer in a totally different gear.

I also think things went Federer's way this year with his main rivals Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic all getting knocked out before the semi-finals.

I think Federer will set a new mark and I think he will be under less pressure now than being at 13 and trying to get to 14.

It could be this year either at Wimbledon or at the US Open and I think it would be good for him to set a new mark because I think he is one of the greatest tennis players.

Meanwhile in the women's final, Dinara Safin lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets and therefore has to wait for her maiden grand slam title.

Soderling march continues

Robin Soderling's march at this year's French Open continued after he beat Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to reach the semis.

Soderling earlier beat defending champion Rafael Nadal and now he has reached the semis where he will play Fernando Gonzalez.

Gonzalez reached the semis after beating world number three Andy Murray in four sets. I think the match between Soderling and Gonzalez is going to be very good but I tip Gonzalez to win and reach the final.

In the women's draw, Maria Sharapova's run came to an end after she lost to Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets.

Cibulkova will meet world number one Dinara Safina who triumphed over Victoria Azarenka despite losing the first set.

I think that was a very good effort by Sharapova especially after being out of tennis for such a long time.

Samantha Stosur needs to beat Sorana Cirstea to reach the semis. I am hoping that Stosur will play well enough to reach the semis where she will meet the winner between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams.

Soderling knocks out Nadal

Robin Soderling beat defending champion and world number one Rafael Nadal in four sets to inflict Nadal's first defeat at Roland Garros.

Nadal had never lost at Roland Garros before and on paper the match looked like another match he would win without dropping a set.

Nadal lost the first set but then he managed to win back the second and at the end of that tight set it looked like things were back to normal.

But Nadal went on to lose the next two sets to see him fail to reach the quarters for the first time at the French Open.

When Nadal played Lleyton Hewitt he looked he was in that kind of form that would lead at least to the semis or so but Soderling was very good for him on the day.

This might the best chance for Roger Federer to win his first French Open. With Novak Djokovic already out from his side of the draw the main threat will come from Murray if he can go past Soderling.

In the women's draw, the defending champion is also out. Ana Ivanovic lost to ninth seed Victoria Azarenka in straight sets.

Samantha Stosur is still in there and she will meet crowd favourite Virginie Razzano tonight.

Maria Sharapova continues her march to the final with a win over Na Li in three sets.

I can't wait to see what will happen in the next few days after shock defeats on two consecutive days after the loss of Djokovic the previous day and then now Nadal.

Nadal brushes Hewitt aside

Lleyton Hewitt is now out of this year's French Open after losing to the world number one Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

I always knew that that it was a big ask for Hewitt to beat the defending champion and infact it was Nadal who played really well he never gave Hewitt a chance.

I think this was also Nadal's toughest challenge so far at the French Open this year and he rose up to it and showed why he is going to be very tough to beat this year at Roland Garros.

So Australia is now left with two players in the singles draw, Samantha Stosur and Jarmila Groth. It was unfortunate to see Jelena Dokic retire hurt against Elena Dementieva in a match she looked like winning.

Meanwhile, the number three seed Venus Williams was knocked out by Agnes Szavay in straight sets.

I think it was poor display from Venus as she failed to win a single game in the first set. She went out at the same stage last year.


Hewitt sets up tie with Nadal

Lleyton Hewitt won his second round tie comfortably and will now meet world number one Rafael Nadal in the third round.

After playing through five sets and in more than four hours in the first round, Hewitt made an easy job of Andrey Golubev whom he beat in straight sets.

It was business as usual for Nadal who had an emphatic win over Teimuraz Gabashvili who only managed to win 6 games in the whole match.

I think Hewitt will have to play one of his best games in a long time if he is to beat Nadal. He has never beaten Nadal on clay and I can't see that changing at Roland Garros.

In other matches Marat Safin lost to Josselin Ouanna in five sets and in anothe five setter David Ferrer beat Nicolas Kiefer.


Hewitt survives scare at Roland Garros

Lleyton Hewitt survived a major scare at the French Open when he lost the first two sets but he managed to come back and win the last three.

In his first round match at Roland Garros the seeded Ivo Karlovic took the first two sets on tie breaks and it looked like he was going to win in straight sets but Hewitt made sure that did not happen by winning the last three sets.

I think he will need more of that if he is going to reach the latter stages of this tournament.

Also Karlovic hit 55 aces but that did not help him win the match but that ensured that the first three sets were decided on tie-breaks.

Elsewhere on the first day there were wins for Andy Murray and also Marat Safin.

Federer beats Nadal on clay

Roger Federer won his first title of the year after beating the world number one Rafael Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open.

I think this is a very significant victory for Federer especially so close to the French Open where Nadal has beaten him three times before in the final.

I don't know whether the marathon semi-final match Nadal played against Novak Djokovic had an effect on his final performance but the day belonged to Federer who stopped the Nadal run of 33 consecutive wins on clay.

I still think the real problem for Federer at Roland Garros is reaching the final itself. I think there are so many other players now who can beat him and I will not be surprised to see him not reach the final.

For starters he has to go past either Andy Murray or Djokovic assuming they reach the semis themselves but these are two players the former number one has been having problems beating.

On the other hand there I can see Nadal reaching the final again and possibly winning it.


Nadal to meet Federer in Madrid

World number two Roger Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets to set up a final against the world number one Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open.

Nadal won in three sets against Novak Djokovic after losing the first set to the fourth ranked player.

I think Djokovic should have won that match but credit to Nadal as he managed to save three match points.

The final will be the first match that the two top players have played each other on clay this year and its going to be interesting to see how it goes.

For Federer it was straight forward win and I think he would like the final to go that way.

Its interesting to see that the Madrid Open quarter-finals saw seven of the top eight players participate.

Only Gilles Simon the number 7 was missing and it was because he lost to Ivan Ljubicic who reached the quarters.

Djokovic storms to Rome final

Novak Djokovic stormed to the Rome final after beating world number two Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Rome Masters in three sets.

But to reach this final he had to do it the hard way because Federer took the first set and Djokovic had to battle to get the last two sets.

So Federer failed to reach another final and I think reaching the final and getting a chance to play Rafael Nadal would have been good for his preparation for Roland Garros.

Also more worryingly is that Federer continues to lose to either world number three or four the players he is mostly likely to play in the semis if they also reach that stage.

If Djokovic fails to defend his Rome title against Nadal then he will slip to number four and Andy Murray gets number three and that's no good for Federer because he can't seem to be able to get past these two players.

I think Nadal is playing so well he should win the Rome Masters after failing to reach later stages of the same tournament last year.

Whoever wins I think its going to be yet another entertaining final.

Five up at Monte Carlo for Nadal

World number one Rafael Nadal got his fifth straight title at the Monte Carlo Masters after beating Novak Djokovic in three sets.

Nadal won the first set but then dropped the second and the last time he dropped a set at Monte Carlo was in 2006 against Roger Federer.

He then came back and showed why he is number one winning the third with an emphatic 6-1.

To be fair to Djokovic, he played quite well especially in the second set which he won but I think Nadal knew that he had the skill to outlast his opponent.

In the semis Nadal beat world number four Andy Murray and Djokovic beat Federer's conquerer Stanislas Wawrinka.

I think once again Nadal seems unstoppable on clay this year and lets see if he can be the first person to win six Monte Carlo titles next year.


Federer out of Monte Carlo

Stanislas Wawrinka beat his fellow countryman Roger Federer for the first time in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Federer had planned to miss the Monte Carlo event but he accepted a wild card to compete there and now he has gone out after playing just two matches.

Federer played Andreas Seppi in the second round and I think that was an easy match for him and he managed to progress to the third round to meet Wawrinka.

After losing the first set I thought Federer would win the second set and force a third but I could see that Wawrinka was quite comfortable on his serve and that Federer would find it hard to break him.

I think Federer will have to deal with the uncharacteristic unforced errors if he is entertain winning the title at Roland Garros this year.

Hewitt wins in Houston

Lleyton Hewitt won his first title in two years when he beat Wayne Odesnik in straight sets.

Hewitt last won a title in March 2007 when he won the Las Vegas title after he beat Jurgen Melzer.

This was also only the second clay title for him.

I hope this will be a good turnaround for Hewitt and the raking points gained will help him get a better ranking going deep into the clay court season.

Hewitt now needs just one more win to have 500 wins in his careers

Nadal wins first Australian Open title

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the Australian Open final to win his first Australian Open title and his sixth grand slam title.

Nadal has now won four French Open titles and one Wimbledon title.

I was looking forward to the match last night after Nadal came through the longest match in Australian Open history when he beat Fernando Verdasco in five sets.

I thought that would give Federer a big edge because he had played on Thursday night in a straight sets win over Andy Roddick but Nadal was not be to pushed over.

I don't think Federer looked as confident as he had done in the semis and I think its because he knew that if he won he would equal Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slam titles.

Nadal won the first set and Federer came back straight away to win the second.

The third set had to be decided on a tie-break which enabled Nadal to take the lead again. I wonder what would have happened had Federer taken the lead. I think that would have given him more confidence and help reduce the errors that he had in the match. But that can only be speculation.

In the final set Nadal showed his class and he went on to win with a comfortable 6-2. That scoreline from the last set I think hides the fact that the match could easily have gone either way.

So now Nadal currently holds three titles - The French, Wimbledon and now the Australian with Federer hold the US.

I also think that Federer can equal Sampras' record and that could be at this year's Wimbledon or possibly at the US Open.

It would be good if he could then surpass that record at next year's Australian Open.

I think the final was befitting of the quality tennis that we got from Melbourne Park over the last fortnight despite the heat and I am now waiting to see what will happen at the French Open.

Serena sweeps away Safina

Serena Williams swept away Dinara Safina to win her tenth grand slam title as she won the 2009 Australian Open title in straight sets.

Safina did not manage to win a single game in the first set as Serena showed her compusure and experience at this stage.

This match looked so similar to the final of two years ago when Serena dispatched Maria Sharapova in just over an hour but this time she wrapped the title in less than an hour.

With the win Serena takes over the world number one from Jelena Jankovic who didn't even make it into the second week at Melbourne Park.

Although Safina lost in the final I think she had a good tournament overrall and her trickiest match was probably the one against Australian Jelena Dokic. She was also taken to three sets by Ekaterina Makarova and Alize Cornet in the second and fourth rounds respectively.

This was Safina's second grand slam title and I think she is not far off from claiming her first grand slam.

Nadal to meet Federer in final

Roger Federer will meet Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final after Nadal won the marathon match against Fernando Verdasco last night.

Federer reached the final after dispatching Andy Roddick on Thursday night in straigh sets.

This will be the first time for Nadal to reach the final at Melbourne Park and I am sure its going to be an exciting match and that can potentially go all the way to five sets.

Nadal found the way tough against Verdasco and put pressure on Nadal by taking the first even though it was on a tie-break. Three of thee matches had to be decided on a tie-break and Verdasco won two of them.

I think Verdasco had a very good tournament and he also knocked out one of the pre-tournament favourites Andy Murray and by reaching the semis he showed that the win was no fluke.

Meanwhile in the women's final Serena Williams will meet Dinara Safina and whoever wins will become world number one replacing Jelena Jankovic.

I think Serena has experience on her side but Safina has been very well and even managed to beat crowd favourite Jelena Dokic.


Federer survives but Jankovic falls

Roger Federer survived a scare at the Australian Open today when he lost the first two sets to Tomas Berdych but he managed to recover and win the last three sets.

Women's top seed Jelena Jankovic was not so lucky as she lost in straight sets to Marion Bartoli.

Jankovic is the current women's world number one but she is still to win her first grand slam title and will now wait for the French Open.

I still think this was her best chance to win a grand slam with Maria Sharapova not involved and Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic already knocked out.

After seeing off Marat Safin in the third round, Federer had a tough test against Berdych and will know that against a better player he would have been out.

Despite the difficult win I still think that Federer will reach the final. Federer will meet Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters.

Meanwhile Jelena Dokic's march in the Australian Open continues after she beat Alisa Kleybanova in the three sets.

I should say this is one of most competitive women's tennis matches I have watched in a very long time.

Dokic won the first set but Kleybanova won the second leading to a third set decider which Dokic won.

Dokic is now the remaining Australian player left in the singles draw

Venus exits Open

Venus Williams was bundled out of the Australian Open when she lost her second round match to Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets.

I think this is one of the biggest shocks so far at the Australian Open and but Venus never looked like losing in the first set as she started quite well.

Also she reached match point in the third set and only to lose the remaining games after that. Navarro did well to come from 1-4 down and win.

On the Australian front, there will no Australian men in the third round after Chris Guccione lost to Gilles Simon in four sets.

But its not very surprsing especially after Lleyton Hewitt lost to Fernando Gonzalez in the first round. Its better with the women with Samantha Stosur and Jelena Dokic progressing to the third round. It would be good to have one Australian in the second week.

I think one of the most interesting matches in the third round is the one between Roger Federer and Marat Safin. While I think Federer will in the end emerge victorious I think Safin will give him a very good test.

Murray looking good for Open

Andy Murray is looking very good for the Australian Open after winning the Qatar Open after beating Andy Roddick in straight sets in the final.

Before he reached the final he had beaten world number two Roger Federer and that was the second time this year he had done so.

My only question is whether Murray can actually beat the likes of Federer and Rafael Nadal over five sets.

I think the reason why Federer has won 13 grand slam titles is because he is hard to beat over five sets because he is able to vary his game along the way until he makes a breakthrough.

But Murray's confidence must be high having beaten the world number one and two already this year but there is also the defending champion Novak Djokovic who played very well last year at Melbourne Park and could also win again this year.

On the women's side its unfortunate that Maria Sharapova will not be able to defend her title but that should open a door Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic.

I still think there will be a lot of surprises this year and I am looking forward to the start of the Australian Open next week.

Djokovic finishes in style

Novak Djokovic finished 2008 the way he started it with a win when he won the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Djokovic beat Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to finish the year in style after he started the year by winning the Australian Open in January.

I thought Davydenko gave some resistance in the second set but in the first set he was brushed aside and he managed to win just one game.

Davydenko had played very well when he beat favourite Andy Murray in the semis but the final proved a bridge too far for him.

Now Djokovic will have to defend his Australian Open title in January and I think he may find it hard especially now with Murray also in the mix but the Australian Open can produce surprises from time to time.

Meanwhile in the doubles final Bob and Mike Bryan lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in straight sets.

Venus finishes year on a high

Venus Williams finished the year on a high after winning the WTA Tour Championships in Doha.

This was the first first win for Venus in this season ending championship and it followed the Wimbledon she won earlier in the year.

I think Vera Zvonareva did very well to reach the final but against Venus it was always going to be a difficult match for her.

I had expected Jelena Jankovic, the world number one to reach the final but she lost to Venus in the semis. She had also lost to Zvonareva in the group phase but still managed to the semis.

Like I said before it looks like we are going to have an interesting Australian Open next year and it will be a big test for Jankovic and I will interested to see how far in the year she will go as number one.

Meanwhile in the doubles Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke in straight sets to win the doubles title.

Nadal misses Shanghai

Rafael Nadal will not play in the Master Cup in Shanghai after pulling out because of fatigue.

In an earlier post I had said that I looked forward to seeing Nadal and Roger Federer playing in Shanghai but now the world number one will no longer be there.

Nadal and Federer both retired hurt at the Paris Masters which was won by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

This will give a chance to the other players especially Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray who will now be the top three players at the tournament.

The good news for Nadal is that not participating in Shanghai will not affect him finishing the year as number one.

Gilles Simon will replace Nadal.

Tsonga gets maiden Masters Title

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his maiden Masters title when he won the Paris Masters beating David Nalbandian in three sets.

Tsonga who won his maiden title less than two months ago when he won the Thailand Open took three sets to beat the more experienced Nalbandian in three sets.

I think he played his service game very well and when Nalbandian took the second set I thought that he was going on to take the third set as well.

But Tsonga came back in the final set and clinched his first Masters title. I think he deserved it after overcoming the likes of Andy Roddick and James Blake enroute to the final.

Nalbandian was the defending champion having won the title last year when he beat Rafael Nadal in the final.

With the win Tsonga will now play in the season ending Masters tournament in Shanghai which starts on the 9th of November.

I think Tsonga started the year well and finished it well. He reached the Australian Open final and then lost to Novak Djokovic and its interesting to see that he beat Djokovic in his two titles so far.

I hope both Nadal and Roger Federer will be fit enough to compete in Shanghai because that will make the tournament very competitive.


Murray on the rise

Andy Murray beat Gilles Simon at the Madrid Masters to secure his second Masters title.

Murray reached the final after beating world number two Roger Federer in the semis whilst Simon reached the final after beating world number one Rafael Nadal.

Before the semis I thought the final was going to be between Nadal and Federer but I was proved wrong with both losing in three sets.

Two months ago Murray won his first Masters title in Cincinnati and with the way he is playing now he looks set to rise in his rankings from his current number four.

Meanwhile in the women's game Venus Williams beat Flavia Pennetta in straight sets to win the Zurich Open title for the second time.

Its interesting to see that it was Pennetta who stopped world number one Jelena Jankovic in her tract to get a fourth consecutive title when she beat her in the second round in three sets.

Jankovic regains top spot

Serena Williams reign as number last just four weeks as Jelena Jankovic regained the number one status this week.

Jankovic is in peak form at the moment and she has won two tournaments in a row. This weekend she won the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Last week she won the China Open in Beijing after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final in straight sets.

In Stuttgart she beat Venus Williams in the semi-final and in the final she pushed aside Nadia Petrova in straight sets.

Jankovic only became number one for the first time in August this year and she must be hoping that this time she will have a longer reign and with the form she is in she might get to the end of the year as number one.

Tsonga overcomes Djokovic for maiden title

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his maiden tour title when he beat world number three Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the Thailand Open.

Tsonga lost to Djokovic in the Australia Open final but after that he 'disappeared' from the tennis scene because of injury but over the last three months or so he has been making some steady progress back culminating in this win.

Its interesting to note that had he won the Australian Open, Tsonga's first tour title would have been a grand slam.

Meanwhile in another final at the China Open Andy Roddick beat Dudi Sela. I think unseeded Sela did very well to reach the final in Beijing but he came against a determined Roddick and he will hope for a similar chance in the near future.

Chile loss not surprising

Australia lost the Davis Cup tie against Chile over the weekend and will now drop to the Asia-Oceania group.

This loss was not exactly surprising given that Australia fielded a very weak team with world number 80 Chris Guccione being the top ranked player in the absence of injured Lleytton Hewitt.

I think the highlight for me was winning the doubles rubber when Guccione teamed up with Carsten Ball to win and make the score 2-1 going into the final day of singles matches.

Chile had world number 11 Fernando Gonzalez in their and were playing on clay and it is in singles where a weak team is exposed and Gonzalez's win meant Australia dropping from the World Cup.

Elsewhere Spain will play Argentina in the final after Spain beat the United States and Argentina won against Russia.

A win for Spain who have the world number one Rafael Nadal in their team will cap a good year for the Spanish player. But Argentina have a team with a lot of experience at this level and are not going to be pushovers.

Federer too good for Murray

Roger Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets to win his fifth consecutive US Open title.

Like I wrote yesterday I didn't Murray to give Federer a lot of problems despite beating Rafael Nadal but it was a good effort for him to reach the final and now he has grand slam final experience.

Federer in his fifth consecutive final was the first to settle and he easily won the first set. Murray came back in the second but Federer drew on his experience to win it and the final set was the easiest for him.

This win means that Federer has now won a grand slam title this year but I think he deserves it after having playing some very good tennis throughout the tournament.

If he wasn't at the top of his game I think he would have lost to Novak Djokovic in the semis but he brushed him aside and I also think he could have beaten Nadal if he had reached the final.

This is Federer's 13 grand slam win and therefore he only needs one more to equal Pete Sampras' 14.

I think its possible for him to overtake Sampras and he could equal Sampras as early as the Australian Open in January next year.

Federer's win also means that the current three top players have all won at least one grand slam title this year and it could be interesting next year especially if Murray continues to improve.


Serena regains number one

Serena Williams has won the US Open after beating Jelena Jankovic in straight sets and also got the number one ranking in the process.

This is William's third US title and it would have been the first grand slam title for Jankovic had she won.

In a final delayed by a day, Williams once again showed her class to win the US Open plus the world number one ranking.

I thought Jankovic had a good start especially for somebody playing in her first grand slam final but Williams drew on her experience to make sure that the good start did not count for much.

William's win means that there have been four different women grand slam winners this year, a year where nobody really dominated and hence the constant changes in who is number one.

In the men's final tomorrow, Andy Murray will meet world number two Roger Federer after beating the top seed Rafael Nadal in four sets.

The match had to be continued today after rain stopped play on Sunday with Murray leading by two sets to love and although he lost the third set he came back from a break down in the fourth to win the fourth set and go for his first grand slam final.

I think Federer will win the match to get his first grand slam title for the year. I think this is his best chance especially with Nadal now out of the way but maybe Murray can cause another upset.

Meanwhile Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Sam Stosur and Lisa Raymond to win the women's doubles title.

Jankovic, Williams wait for final

The US Open women's final between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic has now been postponed to Monday morning Melbourne time after a tropical storm meant that the match could not be played.

The winner will become the new number one replacing Ana Ivanovic who crashed earlier on in the first week.

Despite being the current number two and almost always reaching the second week of Grand slams, this is the first time for Jankovic to reach a grand slam final.

I watched both semi-finals and I think Williams is more likely to be the winner and be the new number one.

Meanwhile on the men's side Roger Federer brushed aside Novak Djokovic in four sets and will now meet the winner of the match between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

I will be very surprised if Federer were to lose the final whoever he plays because he has played better and better as the tournament has progressed and must surely land his only grand slam title for the year.


Guccione flies the flag

After Jessica Moore's loss to Anna-Lena Groenefeld in her second round match, Chris Guccione is the only Australian left in the singles draw of the US Open.

Guccione has a tough task in the third round as he faces seeded Radek Stepanek and it will be a big win for him if he can win that match.

The absence of Llyetton Hewitt through injury has always meant that it was highly unlikely to see any of the seven Australians in the main draw come through to the second week.

Meanwhile world number one Ana Ivanovic was knocked out in the second round by Julie Coin in the biggest upset of the tournament so far.

This opens up the women's draw which has been very interesting lately with a number of options for the winner of at Flushing Meadows next week.

Hewitt pulls out of US Open

Lleyton Hewitt pulled out of the US Open and will be back playing next year.

According to his official website he will only be back playing in January next year after having surgery to his troubled hip area.

This means he will not be seeded for the Australian Open because his ranking can only go down now that he will not be playing in any other tournament.

Its very hard to see any Australians in the second week of the US Open this year and also the Davis Cup tie in Chile will be very hard to win without Hewitt.

But I hope that when he comes back next year he will notch some wins and go up the rankings again.

Hewitt unseeded at US Open

Lleyton Hewitt will be unseeded at the US Open after his ranking slipped down to 55.

This will be the first time that Hewitt is unseeded at a grand slam since the year 2000 and being unseeded could mean a tough draw when the draw is conducted later this week.

But its good news for Rafael Nadal who will be seeded first for the first time in his career at a grand slam.

Nadal took over the world number one spot from Roger Federer this week and Federer will now find himself in an unfamiliar position of second seed as he defends his US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.

Interestingly both Nadal and Federer won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics but in different circumstances.

Nadal won the singles gold whilst Federer won the doubles gold after teaming up with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka.

Number one up for grabs

The number rankings in both women's and men's tennis will change hands this month with Jelena Jankovic and Rafael Nadal taking over the top spots.

First to take the number one spot will be Jankovic who will take over the women's number one ranking from Ana Ivanovic on the 11th of August.

With Maria Sharapova injured and missing the Olympics and the US Open, it looks like the fight for number one will be between Ivanovic and Jankovic for some time and it is interesting to see who will end the year as number one.

In men's tennis, current number two Nadal will take over the number one spot after losing to Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati Masters tournament semis.

That defeat means that Nadal will have to wait until the 18th of August to claim the top post and I think he fully deserved the top ranking status.

He has been playing some amazing tennis and after winning both the French Open and Wimbledon, there is no doubt in my mind he is currently the leading men's tennis player.

What will be interesting though is how long he will stay at the top. He will need to maintain his current form for the rest of the year to finish the year as number one but barring injury this looks possible.

Federer's reign on the brink

Roger Federer's reign at the top of the tennis rankings is under threat for the first time in many after he lost to Ivo Karlovic in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters.

I wasn't really surprised by Federer's round to Karlovic because he just made it past Robby Ginepri in the second round where he to break back in the second set in order to force a tie-break which he eventually won.

In this third round match he also lost the first set on a tie-break but won the second 6-4 and I think he must have thought that he was going to wrap up the last set but Karlovic won it in a tie-break.

World number two Rafael Nadal will take over as number one if he wins in Cincinnati and thats a very strong possibility but even he doesn't it looks like Federer's reign at the top could be coming to an end.

I think Federer is still a classy player and if he wins the first set then I think he can easily win a match from there but the problem is that he is losing the first set giving his opponent some confidence.

I still whatever happens he will still be the man to beat at the US Open and I will not be surprised to see him retain his title.

Nadal finally wins Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal finally won the Wimbledon grand slam title after two successive failed attempts as he beat defending champion and world number one Roger Federer in an epic five set thriller.

Nadal had met Federer twice before in the final and failed to beat him although he came very close last year and this time he went further to take the coveted crown.

It was the first time for Federer to lose a Wimbledon final in six years and I think momentum is now with Nadal. But he is still a very good player and the sets he lost in the final are the ones he lost in the whole tournament.

At last month's French Open it was clear that Federer had not closed the gap between him and Nadal on clay but now its now clear that Nadal has now closed the gap between him and Federer on grass and it could be a very interesting scenario next year.

But the good news for Federer is that only Nadal can pose serious problems to him at the moment since nobody managed to take a set away from him until the final and if somebody knocks him out for him in an earlier round then he can get back Wimbledon. But also its hard to hard to beat Nadal.

And then there is also the Djokovic factor. Unfortunately Djokovic was beaten earlier by Marat Safin knocked earlier in the first week and a possible semi-final match did not eventuate.

Unfortunately it was difficult to watch the full match for me from my Melbourne timezone but it was interesting to go to bed and wake up just after 6am and still watch the final moments of the match and the presentation ceremony. There must be a few more people who had a similar experience.


Venus shines through

Venus Williams beat younger sister Serena to claim a fifth Wimbledon title in a tight contest.

Its been a long time since the Williams sisters have met in a grand slam final and so I was very keen to see how this final was going to unfold and for once there wasn't a one-sided women's final.

I think Venus didn't have the best of starts being broken in the very first game of the final but she regained her composure and confidence and managed to win the first set 7-5.

Its interesting to see that both sisters entered this final without dropping a set and so Venus won without dropping a single set.

This was tennis of the highest quality and any talk of family decision was thrown out of the window.

Now tonight I hope there will be another epic final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I just think that Nadal will win this time but we have to wait and see.

Williams' sisters for Wimbledon final

The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus will meet for the third time in a Wimbledon final after winning their semi-final matches in straight sets.

Venus was first on the court and she beat Elena Dementieva to reach her seventh Wimbledon final.

Serena was second on court and she managed to beat unseeded Zheng Jie who had an amazing run to reach the semis. I think with a bit more experience Zheng could have forced a third set especially having had set point in the second set but Serena managed to see her off in the tie-break.

I think Venus will win the final possibly in straight sets to get her fifth title from the All England club.

Meanwhile in the men's draw, Rafael Nadal will meet Rainer Schuettler whilst in the other semi world number one Roger Federer will play Marat Safin.

I think its all pointing to a Federer/Nadal final for the third year running and this time I think Nadal will prevail.

Champions knocked out of Wimbledon

This year's two grand Slam Champions at the Australian Open and the French have both been knocked out of Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova winner of the Australian Open in January lost to Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round in straight sets.

The the winner of the French Open and current world number one Ana Ivanovic was knocked out by a player 132 places down the ranking Jie Zheng.

I think Ivanovic's defeat was not that surprising given that she just managed to win her second round match against Nathalie Dechy. In that match she saved two match points as she eventually won in three sets.

I think she was very fortunate to reach the third round and her exit leaves the door open possibly for Jelena Jankovic.

Meanwhile on the men side of the draw Roger Federer will meet Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round. This could be the end of Hewitt's participation at this year's Wimbledon because is playing well and maybe only Rafael Nadal can stop him.

Hewitt is the only Australian left at the All England Club after Casey Dellacqua was knocked out by Nicole Vaidisova.

Safin overcomes Djokovic

The Australian Open champion and world number three Novak Djokovic was bundled out of Wimbledon by Marat Safin om the second round.

This is so far the biggest upset of the tournament and the anticipated showdown between Djokovic and world number one Roger Federer will now no longer take place.

Tuesday saw world number four Nikolay Davydenko lose in straight sets to Benjamin Becker in the opening round. Davydenko would have met Rafael Nadal had he gone all the way to the semis.

Davydenko's exit in the first round followed that of David Nalbandian who also lost in straight sets to Frank Dancevic.

I was expecting Djokovic to at least reach the semis but now its all changed and this should make Federer's passage to the semis a lot easier.

Shifting in Wimbledon's seedings

This year's Wimbledon seedings were announced yesterday and as usual the seedings consider grass court results over the past two years.

This hugely benefited Marcos Baghdatis who jumped from his number 25 ranking to 10th seed and Richard Gasquet and James Blake swapped places to be seeded 8th and 9th when their current rankings are 9th and 8th respectively.

Baghdatis promotion meant that the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka and Andy Murray moved places above their ranking.

I find it interesting that in the women's side of the draw no such thing happened with seeding closely following ranking. The same should apply to men as well I think.

The current situation means that if you get a good ranking as a result of good performance on clay that will count for nothing for Wimbledon if your results on grass were not that good over the previous two seasons.

All the same I am looking forward to Wimbledon next week and lets hope there will a fortnight of good tennis.

Easy win for Nadal

It was an easy win for Rafael Nadal in the French Open final when he beat Roger Federer in straight sets to win his fourth consecutive title at Roland Garros.

Nadal equalled Bjorn Borg's record of four consecutive French Open titles but with the way the way he demolished Federer it looks like he is set for a fifth one next year and also he is just 22.

The signs were ominous when Federer was broken in the first game of the final and the world number one looked out of sorts as he only managed to win just four games. In the final set he actually failed to failed to win a single game as Nadal completed an impressive fortnight of tennis.

Nadal did not drop a single set as he went to win his fourth title and I think the only person who gave some resistance was world number 3 Novak Djokovic in the semis.

Meanwhile in the women's final Ana Ivanovic overcame Dinara Safina in straight sets to win her first grand slam title and with that the world number one ranking.

Safina had two remarkable comebacks in the quarters and semi-finals but this time she lost in straight sets in what was her first grand slam final.

Now the grass court season starts en-route to Wimbledon and maybe Federer will come back to the winners circle at Wimbledon.

Safina stages another comeback

Dinara Safina this morning staged another comeback from 5-2 down in the second set and trailing by a set to win her French Open quarter final match against Elena Dementieva.

She made a similar comeback in her fourth round match against world number one Maria Sharapova but I doubted she was going to achieve the same feat in two consecutive games.

In the third set she just wiped Dementieva aside winning 6-0 and she will now meet Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals.

I think if she can take her form for the later stages of the match to the start then she may be able to reach her first French Open final.

Meanwhile, on the men side of the draw Roger Federer will play Gael Monfils in the semi-finals. I was a bit surprised by Monfils progress and he now faces the biggest test in Federer who will be playing in his 16th consecutive grand slam semi.

The other semi will see the battle for number two as defending champion Rafael Nadal takes on Novak Djokovic. I think it will be a tight match but I expect Nadal to be in the final on Sunday.

Williams out of French Open

The Williams sisters were both knocked out of the French Open in straight sets in the third round and I think this is the biggest upset so far at Roland Grass.

Serena Williams was the first one to go out after losing to Katarina Srebotnik in a match she started slowly and never picked up momentum. She just wasn't as sharp as she normally is and it is now Srebotnik who goes to the fourth round.

Venus Williams then later lost to Flavia Penetta and with went a chance to win the French Open. Venue could have lost in the first round to Tzipora Obziler but somehow she managed to make a dramatic comeback in the third set to win that match.

With current holder Justine Henin having retired I had thought the Williams sisters had a good chance of at least reaching the final but that will now have to wait for another year.

Also out in the first week was home favourite Amelie Mauresmo who lost to Carla Suarez-Navarro in the second round.

Serena's exit means the there will be a new winner for this year's French Open because she was the only one in the draw who had won the French Open before. This is hardly surprising given that the last three titles were all won by Henin.

I think Maria Sharapova should be sensing another opportunity to add another grand slam win after winning the Australian Open earlier in the year. She doesn't that much convincing though and I think Ana Ivanovic could win this year.

Not many surprises though in the men's draw. Rafael Nadal is cruising with easy so far and so is the world number one Roger Federer. The second week should be more testing and I think it will be easier to have a better gauge then

Nadal finally nets Hamburg

Rafael Nadal finally won the Hamburg Masters title when he beat world number one Roger Federer in the final over the weekend.

This was the only clay Masters title Nadal had not won and now after winning this he has won all of them.

After losing to Federer last year in the final Nadal made amends this time but I think Federer could have won the first set had he defended his 5-1 lead but Nadal just proved how good he was.

I was also keen on the semi-final match when Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in what I think was a big test for Nadal but he managed to push aside the world number three to give himself a psychological edge ahead of the French Open which starts next week.

But I also think that Federer even though he lost was encouraged his performance but winning over five sets could prove to be too hard for him.

Henin calls it a day

I was surprised to read that world number one Justine Henin has decided to retire from tennis especially just a few weeks before defending the French Open in Paris.

Last year Henin was by far the best player in women's tennis as she won the French and US Open to add to her seven grand slam titles.

She hasn't been playing well recently as evidenced by her loss to Dinara Safina last week but if you put that loss into context Safina also beat Serena Williams on her route to securing the the German Open title.

Henin won four French Open titles and she will be missed at this year's event. I was also thinking that this year she could try and win the only grand slam she has failed to win which is Wimbledon but it is finished now with her retirement and I wish her all the best.

Djokovic nets third win

There were no retirements in the final of the Rome Masters tournament as Novak Djokovic beat Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets.

When Wawrinka called the trainer I thought we were going to see yet another retirement and that would have meant Djokovic having an opponent retire injured for the third time in a row but Wawrinka managed to soldier on to the end .

In the end I think Djokovic used his experience after losing the first set as he came back to win the last two sets and win his third tournament this year.

I am keen to see Djokovic play Rafael Nadal on clay and that could happen in the Hamburg Masters.

Injuries rock Rome semis

The two finalists for the Rome Masters final Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka got there after their opponents both retired hurt.

Radek Stepanek retired hurt in the second set in his match aganst Djokovic. Stepanek had sent Roger Federer packing in the quarter finals to reach the semis.

For Djokovic, for the second consecutive match his opponent did not finish the match because of injury because in the quarters Nicolas Almagro also retired injured.

Wawrinka was playing Andy Roddick when he retired injured after just three games.

I thought Roddick had done so well to reach the semis especially in a clay court tournament but back problems made sure he did not go any further.

I hope noone will retire injured in the final itself. In a tournament in Portugal last month Federer won the final after Nikolay Davydenko retired hurt.

What could be the cause of all these injuries? I think I agree with Rafael Nadal that the heavy schedule for the players is giving them no rest at all with tournament week after week leading to the French Open.

I think something must be done or else we will end up with many players retired injured.

Ferrero stops Nadal in Rome

Rafael Nadal lost for the first time at the Rome Masters when he lost in straight sets to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round.

Nadal was on a good run having won the last two clay tournaments he has played and he was set for a fourth consecutive title in Rome when he lost to Ferrero.

In fact this is the first time he has lost in this tournament and for Ferrero the omens could be good if he goes and wins this tournament because last time he won this tournament he went on to win to the French Open.

I think his loss has more to do with blisters in his right foot than anything else but there is still the Hamburg tournament next week and so we will see.

But its still a shock loss for Nadal especially losing in the early rounds as he has done. He had a bye in the first round.

There is the Hamburg Masters tournament next week and now he has lots of time and prepare for that.

Meanwhile other seeds also fell on the day with Andrew Murray, David Nalbandian, David Ferrer and Juan Monaco all exiting the tournament.

Nadal maintains Monte Carlo grip

Rafael Nadal won the Monte Carlo Masters Title for the fourth time in a row after beating world number Roger Federer in straight sets to maintain his grip on this tournament.

In those four wins, Nadal has beaten Federer three times in the final but I think that this time it was a lot harder because Nadal had to come from behind in both sets to win.

In the second set Nadal came from 0-4 down to win 7-5 and I think that shows how brilliant he is on clay and especially given that the other person on the other side of the court was the world number one.

But I also think that a player of Federerís ability should have been able to win that set once he was 4-0 up but in fact he only managed to win one game after that.

I think what Monte Carlo has shown is that Federer is getting better and better from his slow start this year and I think he will be harder to beat from now on but also Nadal continues to show why he is the king of clay at this moment in time.


Federer lands first 2008 title

Roger Federer beat Nikolay Davydenko when he retired hurt in the second set to win his first title for the year.

This was also Federer's first time to reach a final after the previous four attempts and I think thatís a good boost for him going into the clay court season leading on to the French Open next month.

I wonder whether the world number one would have won this tournament had Davydenko not retired because the first set was so tight it ended up in a tie-break.

In the second set the second seed had just broken Federerís serve but I think it was also too early in that set to come up with a conclusion.

The real test for the world number will be when he plays in Monte Carlo when he is bound to meet quality players even in early rounds.

Roddick sends Federer packing in Miami

Andy Roddick had a rare victory over Roger Federer when he beat the world number one in three sets in the Sony Ericsson Open semi-finals in Miami.

I think this was a tight match which could have gone either way but Roddick seemed to have been more hungry as he won the first set through a tie break.

Federer upped his game in the second set and managed to get an early break and secured the set to set up a showdown in the third.

I thought at that point that Federer would wrap up the third set especially when he got a break point and Roddick looked a bit shaky but Roddick quickly regained his touch and it was he who managed to get a break and send Federer packing.

Roddick will now meet Nikolay Davydenko who easily beat Janko Tipsarevic in an earlier match.

In the other semi, Rafael Nadal will meet Tomas Berdych. Nadal had to beat James Blake for the first time to reach the semis in a three setter in which he lost the first set.

On the women's side the match that I looked forward to was the quarter-final match between Serena Williams and Justine Henin but Williams easily beat Henin in a one-sided match.

Now Williams will meet Jelena Jankovic in the final and I think she must be hoping that it wont be a marathon like the semi against Svetlana Kuznetsova.

So another tournament and Federer has failed to reach the final again and I am now beginning to wonder whether the first final he will reach will be Wimbledon.


Djokovic too good for Fish

Novak Djokovic proved too good for Mardy Fish as he took the Pacific Life Open in three sets.

Fish had a good run in this tournament but he did well to take the second set but Djokovic stormed back to take the third set and the title and his second for the year after the Australian Open. It seems like world number one and two Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal respectively have lots to do this year especially with so many players not having many problems with them. I think Nadal in particular will have to find a way past Djokovic.

Just last year for example, Nadal beat Djokovic in the semis of the same tournament and went on to take the title but this year he lost in semi-finals and that shows he has a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile in the women's final, Ana Ivanovic took the womenís title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova to complete a Serbian double.

Fish to meet Djokovic in final

Mardy Fish's good run continued this morning at the Pacific Life Open when he beat world number one Roger Federer to reach the final where he will meet Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic easily beat world number two Rafael Nadal in the other semi and he now meets Fish who has had an amazing run.

I didn't think that Fish was going to go past Federer but he did so in straight sets and Federer didn't seem to know how to respond to his game and Federer still waits to reach the first final of this year.

After beating Federer the way he did and the other players before him I think Fish should go on and win this tournament but in Djokovic he meets a player on the rise.

I will be very surprised if Djokovic loses the final in what is turning out to be a very good year so far for the player who won the Australian Open in January.

Fish to test Federer

Surprise semi-finalist Mardy Fish will test Roger Federer's recent form when the two meet in the semis of the Pacific Life Open.

Fish beat seventh seed David Nalbandian in three sets to reach the semis and this is going to be a great test for him too after beating Lleyton Hewitt and Nikolay Davydenko in earlier rounds.

In the other semi, Rafael Nadal will meet Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic which should be an interesting match and I think Djokovic will reach the final.

I have been following events at Indian Wells over the last few days and one of the most interesting matches so far for me was the match between Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and I still can't believe that Tsonga lost that match when he had so much control of the match until the last stages of the second set.

Meanwhile Federer got a bye for his quarter-final match against Tommy Haas when Haas could not play because of illness and therefore he should be fresh against Fish.


Murray dismisses Federer early

Andrew Murray beat world number one Roger Federer in three sets in the first round at the Dubai Championship.

This was the first match for Federer since January and in his last match he lost to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and I expected him to be fresher than Murray who was playing during February and also won the Open 13 final in Marseille.

This was a rare first round loss for Federer who last lost in the first round nearly four years ago in August 2004.

I think that this defeat will put some pressure on Federer but he is also such an exceptional player that he can quickly recover and do what he normally does best and win tournaments.

Interestingly Murray himself lost in the first round in his last tournament before this one when he lost to Robin Haase in the opening round of the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Djokovic overcomes Tsonga

Novak Djokovic won the men's 2008 Australia Open title when he beat unseeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets.

It was Djokovic's first Grand Slam title and I think he deserved it given the way he has played in the last fortnight at Melbourne Park.

When Tsonga was broken in the first game it looked like it was going to be a one sided affair but then Tsonga broke back and then I realised we had an interesting match on our hands.

I thought Tsonga played very well in the first and last sets and his loss could be down to experience. It was his first final of any kind and had he won he would have started with a grand slam title.

I also think that the final was hotly contested for most parts apart from the third set and the fact that there was neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal was kind of refreshing.

Meanwhile in the women's final yesterday Maria Sharapova beat Ana Ivanovic in an entertaining final and there is no denying that Sharapova was the best women at the Open this year.

Now the challenge for the winners is to keep this form for the rest of the season and for the losers to try and be better. All in all it looks like its going to be an interesting year of tennis.

Tsonga to meet Djokovic in final

Jo Wifred Tsonga will meet oval Djokovic in the final of the Australia Open on Sunday after Djokovic stunned defending champion Roger Federer winning in straight sets.

The first set was tight and for some time it looked like Federer was going to win in the same manner he did against James Blake in the quarter-finals but this time his luck ran out as he made some uncharacteristic errors and he lost that set.

In the second Djokovic totally dominated and its no surprise he won that set 6-3 and at that time I sensed that we were going to see another upset like the previous night.

Federer tried to come back in the third set but once again Djokovic stood his ground and the set went to a tie-break which Federer looked like winning but I think he just lacked his finesse of last year.

Therefore we now have a final between Tsonga and Djokovic and who would have guessed this two weeks ago.

I am now beginning to think that unseeded Tsonga could actually win now especially playing a player who will only be playing in his second grand slam final.

For Djokovic he can see this as the best chance to win a grand slam and I hope we will have a great final.

Tsonga shocks Nadal

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stormed into the Australian Open final after beating the second seed Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

Tsonga totally dominated Nadal that I couldn't believe that it was the Nadal we have known to play so well and work hard to win matches.

Tsonga's shorts were excellent and so was his serve and Nadal seemed to have nothing in reply.

When the first set finished 6-2 I thought that Nadal would back fighting in the second but he tried and I think that the second set was his best of the match.

Tsonga will meet the winner in the Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic where another upset could be on the cards.

Meanwhile in the women's draw, Maria Sharapova will try to go one better than last year when she meets Ana Ivanovic on Saturday in the final.

I actually think that this time, given the way she has been playing, Sharapova will be crowned champion on Saturday.

Sharapova dismisses Henin

I was surprised to see the manner in which Maria Sharapova dismissed Justine Henin from the Australian Open and get a place in the semis where she will meet Jelena Jankovic.

She would have been excited to see that Serena Williams, her victor in last year's final, had already lost to Jankovic in straight sets.

When the tournament started I had thought Henin was very likely to win or at least reach the final but Sharapova played very well to make sure that did not happen. In the second set of the straight sets victory, Henin failed to win a single match and that shows how clinical Sharapova was.

On the men's side whilst there was no surprise in Rafael Nadal reaching the semis after beating Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets, it is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who has surprised me. He reached the finals after beating Mikhail Youzhny.

Nadal will be at his best to overcome Tsonga but I think we are going to see Nadal in an Australian Open final for the first time this year.

Very late starts not good

Last night's match between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis started just before midnight and went to on finish just after 4.30 am which was a record late finish.

I don't think such a start benefits anybody especially the local audience and I think those kind of starts should be avoided.

I think its becoming a norm especially at this year's Open that matches are finishing well beyond midnight. One match that comes to mind is the one between Marat Safin and Baghdatis which finished just after 2 am local time on a weekday.

Obviously the benefiters of this are the European audience but as for the local audience I think its becoming increasingly difficult to follow the matches night after night especially during the week.

Talking about the tennis itself it was a good win for Hewitt and he will now face Novak Djokovic and that should be an exciting match and I hope it wont go beyond midnight again as its likely to be a night match again.

Roger Federer had a scare when he was taken to five sets by Janko Tipsarevic. It was an unusual sight to see Federer stretched so much at the Australian Open but he must be relieved that he won the match and he will now face Tomas Berdych.

Finally, local favourite Casey Dellacqua lost to Jelena Jankovic. Dellacqua played very well in the first set and another upset looked likely but she then lost in a tie-break and in the second set she had no match to Jankovic.

Federer, Sharapova cruise

There have been some interesting matches already in the first week of the 2008 Australian Open but Roger Federer has so far been very clinical and so was Maria Sharapova when she beat Lindsay Davenport.

In Federer's first match against Diego Hartfield, the top seed won two sets without losing a match and then won the the other set 6-3. This was remarkable especially who somebody who missed the Kooyong Classic warm up tournament due to illness.

In the second match, the defending champion easily brushed aside Fabrice Santoro to reach the third round. I think he will be properly tested in the second week as he meets tougher opponents but at this rate its hard to see who can stop him.

I was impressed by Sharapova when she beat former champions Davenport in her second round match. It was a far much better performance compared to her performance against Jelena Tosic in the first round.

Another thriller was the match between Marcos Baghdatis and Marat Safin. At the end of the second set it looked like Baghdatis would round up the match in straight sets but Safin claimed the next two sets to set up the fifth set in a match that went past midnight local time.

Baghdatis will next meet Lleyton Hewitt and that could be end of the Hewitt's participation in the tournament if Baghdatis can repeat his performance from the first two sets.

Youzhny overwhelms Nadal

There are a number of tennis tournaments going on at the moment in run up to the Australia Open next week and one that my drew my attention was the Chennai Open final where Rafael Nadal faced Mikhail Youzhny.

Youzhny managed to beat Nadal for the fourth time on a hard court but the defeat was very comprehensive because Nadal only managed to win just one game in the whole match.

Nadal had been playing well in this tournament but in the semi-final he played Carlos Moya and the match last for four hours and this was just three sets. I think that took the toll on Nadal.

Elsewhere, the Sydney International tournament starts today and I am keen to see how Lleyton Hewitt will fare after the surprise loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International last week.


Federer too good for Ferrer

Roger Federer has beaten David Ferrer in straight sets in the final of the Masters Cup in Shanghai to hand Ferrer his first defeat at this tournament.

Ferrer making his debut had a very good tournament winning all his matches in the group stage and easily beating Andy Roddick in the semis but Federer was just too good for him.

I think Federer has been exceptional especially in the last two matches against Roddick and Rafael Nadal whom he beat so convincingly. Although Nadal gave a fight in the first set he had nothing to say in the second.

Its interesting to see that at one stage Federer needed to win against Roddick in order to reach the semis although Fernando Gonzalez's loss to Nikolay Davydenko made sure that he had qualified before the match against Roddick started.

In the final Federer made sure that Ferrer did not play his natural game which had given him some excellent results and in doing so he dominated Ferrer.

Now the season has finished and the next major tournament will be the 2008 Australia Open and I look forward to see if Federer can successfully defend his title again at the Rod Laver Arena.

Nalbandian Master's run continues

David Nalbandian has won two Masters titles in a row after beating Rafael Nadal at the Paris Masters Open in straight sets.

Last month at the Madrid Masters Nalbandian beat Roger Federer in the final to win that tournament and this time he has beaten the world number 2.

I think his good run has come at the wrong end of the year because had he been having this form at the start of the year he surely would have challenged for one or two grand slam titles. He will need to pick himself up again next year and continue to rise to the top of the tennis rankings.

One thing for sure is that he must be enjoying his good run of easily beating the top ranked players. In the second set such was Nalbandian dominance that Nadal failed to win a single game.

Whilst in Madrid he managed to beat the top three players on his way to the title in Paris he only had to beat the top two because the world number 3 Novak Djokovic lost to Fabrice Santoro in the second round.

Nalbandian upsets Federer in Madrid

David Nalbandian beat Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters to claim his first Masters series title.

The first set went as I would have expected with Federer running away with a 6-1 victory and it looked like it was another title in the bag for the world number 1.

Things changed suddenly though in the second set and unforced errors on the part of Federer also helped Nalbandian win the last two sets and inflict Federer's seventh defeat of the year.

On the way to the final unseeded Nalbandian beat world numbers two and three Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and so in the end he beat the top three players to get the Madrid crown.

I hope this will be turning point for Nalbandian who is now outside top 20 players and yet last year he was mostly in the top ten but for Federer I think its just a blip.

Federer marches to twelve

World number one tennis player Roger Federer won his twelfth grand slam title and fourth US Open title in a row after beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets in a highly contested final at Flushing Meadows.

I thought this was a far closer final than Federer would have liked and could easily have gone beyond three sets had Djokovic converted some of the set points that he got in the first two sets. Federer needed tie-breaks to win the first two sets.

The fact that Federer could come from 0-40 and in the first set and win the game and force a tie-break just shows how experienced he is compared to Djokovic who was playing in his first grand slam final. At the same time, I think Djokovic gave a good account of himself and I think it wont be long before he gets his first grand slam title.

As for Federer, this was his twelfh grand slam title and he is now just two titles away from reaching Pete Sampras' record of fourteen titles. Looking at next year I can see him win again the Australian Open where he never seems to drop a set and from there he would need just one of Wimbledon or the US Open and therefore there is every possibility that the record can be equalled next year.

In the women's final Justine Henin easily accounted for Svetlana Kuznetsova in another one sided women's grand slam final. Of the four women's grand slam finals this year, only the Wimbledon final was competitive with the rest being one-sided and all lasting just over an hour.

That must not away the fact that Henin was excellent and play some very good tennis to secure her seventh grand slam title and on her form at the moment she should be set for even more.


Federer on course for final

Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in the US Open quarter finals to set up a semi-final match against Nikolay Davydenko who dismissed Tommy Haas.

I think Federer has one foot in the final and possibly one hand on the trophy because he is going to meet a player who has never beaten him in the semis and at these latter stages of the tournament Federer always always uses his experience to his advantage.

On the other side of the draw Novak Djokovic will meet David Ferrer after beating Carlos Moya. I am looking forward to see what Ferrer will do because he did well to beat Rafael Nadal and at this moment I would be happy to see Ferrer play Federer in the final.

On the other hand a final between Federer and Djokovic could be very interesting because at their last meeting Djokovic triumphed over Federer in a rare defeat for the top ranked player. Since that defeat Federer has not lost a match but actually went on to win his 14th Masters title.

In the women's game, after beating Serena Williams, in the quarter finals Justine Henin will now meet sister Venus. I think thats going to be a cracker of a match but I still think Henin will reach the final and then win it.

In the other women's semi, Svetlana Kuznetsova will fight it out against fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze to make sure that for the second year running there will be a Russian in the final after Maria Sharapova was in the final and won last year. Its unfortunate that it would look like this semi is overshadowed by the other semi between Henin and Williams but I think either of these two players will not be able to beat Henin should she reach the final.

For now I will just wait and see what happens in the next few days at Flushing Meadows.

Henin goes past Serena

Justine Henin went past Serena Williams this morning in the US Open quarter final match to storm into the semi-finals where she will meet either Venus Williams or Jelena Jankovic.

The first set was pretty tight and went on to a tie-break and Henin had to save a set point. The second set was much different as Henin went on a stroll and Serena only managed to win just one game.

This is now the third time that Henin has beaten Serena in a Grand Slam quarter-final this year. Serena must be wondering how she can beat Henin but I think she needs to play more matches between grand slams to get fitter and also improve her ranking.

In an earlier match in the men's draw Novak Djokovic beat Juan Monaco to reach the quarter-finals. I think Djokovic has a good chance to win this year's US Open although he didn't play very well against Monaco.

To reach the semis he will have to go past the resurgent Carlos Moya who is playing some good tennis at the moment.

Calleri shocks Hewitt

I was surprised to see see Lleyton Hewitt exit the US Open in the second round after losing to Agustin Calleri in four sets when I thought that he had a good chance of even reaching the final.

When Hewitt won the first set it looked like it was going to be another straight-forward win for him but Calleri corrected all the mistakes from the first set to upstage Hewitt in the next three sets.

I don't think Hewitt expected Calleri to play so well because he seemed to have no way to respond to his play. Hewitt's exit means there is no Australian player left in both men's and women's singles draw with Casey Dellacqua the only women player to reach the second round losing to defending champion Maria Sharapova.

I thought that Hewitt had a great chance of reaching the final this time as he was on the opposite side of the draw to Roger Federer. So he would have only met Federer in the final but all this has come to nothing after this shocking early exit.

Before Hewitt's match I managed to catch Tim Henman's last match at the US Open as he retires this month after Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against Croatia. Henman managed to win the second set against Wilfried Tsonga and played quite well I thought but he could not match Tsonga's athleticism and his excellent serve.

Federer wins 50th title

Roger Federer avenged last week's defeat to Novak Djokovic at the Montreal Masters when he beat James Blake to win the Cincinnati Masters tournament and claim his 50th ATP singles career title.

That was also Federer's 14th Masters Series title and at 26 and at the rate at which he is getting the titles, the number is set to continue to grow.

Federer had a relatively easy final this time around as Blake's game fell apart in the first set. Federer actually dropped just one game in the first set before winning the second set 6-4.

The tougher match for Federer was actually in the semi-finals against Lleyton Hewitt when he needed a third set tie-break to win the tie. Having beaten Hewitt easily a week before in Montreal, Hewitt played some good tennis in Cincinnati to nearly steal a march to the final.

With Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic not going beyond the second round, Federer knew that he had a very good chance of winning his 50th singles title and he did just that.

By going to two consecutive finals Federer has given himself extra practise matches before the 2007 US Open which starts next week at Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic stuns Federer

Novak Djokovic beat world number one Roger Federer in three sets to clinch the Montreal Masters over the weekend.

This was a great win for Djokovic for I didn't think that he would be able to beat Federer. Federer was never stretched at this tournament until the final and I thought that it was going to be another victory for him.

But Djokovic proved that beating world number two Rafael Nadal in the semis and number three in the quarters was no fluke when he beat Federer in an exciting which could easily have gone either way.

This makes men's tennis more interesting with a third player on the scene. For some time now Andy Roddick has not been challenging the duo of Federer and Nadal and finals have easily become Federer/Nadal contests but the emergence of Djokovic will change all that.

The problem is that its very hard to stay at the top and he has to perform well in every match because the opponents will pay more attention to him now. Performing consistently is the reason why Federer is the top player at the moment and anybody who would like to take his mantle has to do likewise.

But I think Djokovic all round game has improved so much over the past few months and the fact that he was able to hold his nerve in the deciding tie-break in testament to this. So Federer knows that going into the US Open that there is now a new challenger.

Federer clinches thriller

Roger Federer won his eleventh grand slam title at Wimbledon and his fifth in a row but he had to dig deep for the first time in many years as he overcame a determined Rafael Nadal.

Not so long ago Nadal was considered a clay-court specialist but after his showing on Monday morning, Nadal is becoming a more complete player with each passing year.

Nadal forced Federer to play the fifth set at Wimbledon for the first time in six years. That shows how much Nadal has narrowed the gap between him and Federer. On the other hand Federer failed to push Nadal to the fifth set at the French Open and so maybe the tide is in Nadal's favour.

However, the fact that Federer rarely plays the fifth deciding set at grand slams when he wins also shows that Federer is very good and is a class act but he should be aware that now there is a challenger looming.

With this win Federer equaled Bjorn Borg's record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and there is a good chance he can create a record next year by winning the sixth consecutive crown at the All England Club and only one player can stop him and that is Nadal. That should be interesting.

Turning to women's final, it was good to see a better and competitive women's grand slam final this time and Marion Bartoli played quite well in the first set before fizzling out in the second as she lost to Venus Williams. I think Bartoli did quite well for a player who had never been to the semi-finals of a grand slam.

At the start of the championship I never thought Williams would go that far but she managed to improve her form on her way to the final after a shaky start.

The last grand slam event of the year will be the US Open and that should be very interesting for both men and women's tennis.

Roddick, Henin stunned

I was really surprised to see Justine Henin go out of Wimbledon last night and equally stunning was the manner in which Andy Roddick exited SW19 especially after winning the first two sets.

Before the tournament started, I had predicted that Henin would finally win the only grand slam that has eluded her so far in her illustrious career but Marion Bartoli put paid to those predictions with a shocking win.

Henin had looked unstoppable so far only dropping a set against Serena Williams but Bartoli played the game of her life as she won the last two sets of their match and the last set looked so easy.

Bartoli will now meet Venus Wiliams who triumphed over French Open finalist Iva Ivanovic and I am hoping that whoever wins, we will for once get an interesting grand slam women's final this year.

All looked normal and plain sailing when Roddick took the first two sets against Richard Gasquet but it was the the tie-break of the third that turned the match around. With Gasquet seemingly on his way out, he managed to get the third set and even then I thought Roddick would come back and get the fourth and win the match but that never happened and Gasquet will now meet defending champion Roger Federer.

I still don't know how Marcos Baghdatis lost to Novak Djokovic but I think that Baghdatis just lacked the killer punch. Watching Baghdatis play is always interesting especially with his vocal supporters behind him, but he should have won at least the second set when he had six set points and failed to convert all of them only for Djokovic to convert the only chance he got.

We now have a repeat of the French Open semi-final with Djokovic meeting Rafael Nadal and I assume Djokovic would be wishing that this time he will go past the world number two player to reach the final.

Need I say this, but it looks like once again another Federer/Nadal is on the way but after yesterday's shocking results its better to wait and see what happens on the court first.

Rain and more rain at Wimbledon

With the countless rain disruptions at Wimbledon this year, it has become nearly impossible to follow exactly what is happening in the tournament.

Take for example Rafael Nadal's third round match against Robin Soderling. The match started on Saturday and is scheduled to hopefully finish on Wednesday and that's four days since the match started.

Roger Federer was fortunate in that he got a bye in the fourth round when Tommy Haas pulled out because of injury.

I think all grand slam tournaments must have a roof on at least one of the courts to avoid what is happening at Wimbledon at the moment. Similar problems were witness at the start of the French Open but then it was alright for the rest of the tournament. The whole tournament becomes a joke with some players finishing third round matches whilst others are starting quarter final matches.

Meanwhile Wayne Arthurs run was stopped by Jonas Bjorkman in straight sets. Having enjoyed two very good rounds earlier, the third one proved to be too much for him and therefore an easy win for Bjorkman.

At least Lleyton Hewitt is still there after he won his match again Guillermo Canas.


Arthurs run continues

Wayne Arthurs last night beat eleventh seed Tommy Robredo to continue his Wimbledon run into the third round delaying retirement by at least one more match.

I thought Arthurs started his match very well breaking Robredo very early in the first set which he eventually won 6-3. The second wasn't that straight forward and he needed a tie-break to get through it but I think in the third he knew that he could win that match and did exactly that.

There are two Australians left now in the men's draw with Lleyton Hewitt being the other one after Chris Guccione lost to Nikolay Davydenko in five sets.

Davydenko had to draw from his experience to come back from two sets down and overcome Guccione.

The last Australian woman standing in the women's draw Nicole Pratt lost to Nicole Vaidisova.

The match that I am looking forward to is the match between reigning champion Roger Federer against Marat Safin. That is going to be a tricky match for Federer but I still think he will win it.

All set for Wimbledon

With the seeds now decided and just only the draw still to come, all is set for Wimbledon, the third grand slam of the year which starts next week.

The men's seedings are based on the current world rankings, but are then slightly adjusted to take into account grass-court performances in the last two years and that has seen Lleyton Hewitt seeded 16 in front of Juan Carlos Ferrero for example who is ranked higher than him.

I actually think there is no need to adjust the world rankings because it disadvantages players who do well on clay and improve their ranking but then that ranking does not help them when it comes to Wimbledon if they have had a poor grass performance in the two years prior.

On the men's side the hot favourite is as always Roger Federer and I think he will be trying to get his fifth title at the All England club. One interesting thing is that Federer has not played in any warm up tournaments in the run up to this year's Wimbledon and that will mean he will be well rested.

Andy Roddick and last year's finalist Rafael Nadal are possibly's Federer's closest challengers and with Roddick seeded third he can only meet him in the semis.

On the women's side, its hard to see beyond Justine Henin. She has been in good form since winning the French Open and she has now reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International tournament. It will be interesting to see what happens should Henin meet last year's Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo at Eastbourne assuming they both reach that final.

I can see Henin' closest challengers as being Maria Sharapova, Mauresmo and possibly Serena Williams. Beyond those three I cannot anyone even taking a set off her.

Its good to see that Wayne Arthurs qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon as he is set to retire after the tournament.

Nadal rules at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the French Open final to win the clay grand slam for the third consecutive time and maintain his unbeaten run at Roland Garros.

Nadal showed everybody why he is impossible to beat at Roland Garros playing so well that even Federer as good as he is could not find a way past him.

I think Federer started poorly especially with his first serve and that I think contributed largely in him losing the first set. Also I thought he let so many break points go by and you simply can't do that against Nadal.

Federer went on to win the second set and that was the only time Nadal had dropped a set at the tournament but Nadal came back in the third and from there on there could only be one winner.

Federer is not that bad on clay but I think it is just that Nadal is just far much better on that surface. He seems to have so much energy and he has the ability to chase every ball and when he returns the ball he returns it with so much force and precision that his opponents can only look.

I think Federer really liked the French Open this time because that would have meant that he would have held all the four grand slams at the same time having won Wimbledon, the US and Australian titles but Nadal ensured he maintained his own record of being unbeaten at Roland Garros.

Looking forward to next year, if Nadal continues to play as he is doing then he could win a record fourth consecutive title because this year nobody really troubled him at Roland Garros.

I actually don't know how much the loss in the Hamburg final made Nadal even more determined to play better at Roland Garros but he seemed to me like a man on a mission.

The women's final turned out to be more or less one sided like the Australian Open one with Justine Henin easily beating Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic didn't look like the same player who had convincingly beaten Maria Sharapova in the semis and Henin made sure he quickly got her third consecutive French Open title.


Davydenko lets chance go by

Nikolay Davydenko lost to Roger Federer in straight sets in a tight semi-final match at the French Open but I think he had a very good chance of winning that match and its a chance that he let go by.

In the first set, Davydenko got a break early but Federer broke him later and then went on to win that set. Then I thought he was going to get the second set after getting an early break but Federer crawled back again. Infact in the second and third sets, Davydenko actually served for the sets and fluffed both chances.

I think that was Davydenko's best chance to beat Federer and a chance he will regret. Having said that, Federer himself was digging deep when he needed to and I think that was the difference in a tightly fought match.

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic and will now go on and play Federer in the final tomorrow. I think Nadal will win for the third consecutive time because he is playing very well and has been consistent for the past fortnight.

Federer/Nadal final looms

The French Open semi-final match ups for both the men and women have now been finalised and there are some interesting matches coming up over the next two days.

Guillermo Canas' exit meets Roger Federer no longer has to meet to him in the semis and I think he must be relieved that Nikolay Davydenko knocked him out. I think Davydenko plays very well in the early rounds but when it comes to the final rounds he just fizzles out and I think that's going to be the case against Federer. I expect Federer to be in the final and I also think it will be a straight sets win for him.

Novak Djokovic stands between Rafael Nadal and yet another French Open final but Nadal has been playing so well at this tournament its hard to see him even dropping a set. Djokovic also played quite well against the unseeded Igor Andreev and should give Nadal a run of his money.

On the women side of the draw Maria Sharapova overpowered compatriot Anna Chakvetadze to reach the semis. I think that the quarter final match was her best so far at the tournament and she should give Ana Ivanovic something to think about. Its very hard for me to predict if Sharapova will reach a second consecutive grand slam final this year.

After disposing of Serena Williams Justine Henin will meet Jelena Jankovic. There are two Serbian women in the semis and if they both we will have an Serbian final but I still think will be too good for Henin and will stop that happening.

The men's looks likely to be another Federer/Nadal match but in the women its quite close and I think any of the four women could reach the final.

Nadal faces Hewitt test

The French Open has entered the second week and now we will start to see some really exciting encounters with Lleyton Hewitt meeting Rafael Nadal and a rejuvenated Marcos Baghdatis facing Igor Andreev in the fourth round.

In the first week, its hard to see what constitutes a shock and what doesn't unless its either Nadal or Roger Federer going out because some top players like Andy Roddick don't just play well on clay. That said I think Amelie Mauresmo losing to Lucie Safarova was a shock especially for it was a home grand slam for Mauresmo.

The Hewitt/Nadal match should be an exciting one and a match that can easily go into five sets especially if Hewitt plays well. In the third round Nadal played very well to beat compatriot Albert Montanes and I think Hewitt should avoid the slow start he had against Gaston Gaudio or else he will be out before he knows it.

In the women side of the draw, I thought Maria Sharapova was quite fortunate to pass Patty Schnyder and she will need to play much better than that in the quarter finals against compatriot Anna Chakvetadze.

The quarter-final match that I am looking forward to however, is the match between defending champion Justine Henin and Serena Williams. I think the winner of the women's title could come from that match now that crowd favourite Amelie Mauresmo is out.

Looking ahead Federer may meet Guillermo Canas if he beats Tommy Robredo and Canas beats Nikolay Davydenko. Canas beat Federer twice earlier this year and this time its also on clay and that could be a very tricky match for him. I just thought Federer didn't play that well against Mikhail Youzhny, or maybe he was preserving the best play for later rounds.

Whatever happens the final week of the French Open should be very interesting.

Hewitt semis hurdle

I have been following Lleyton Hewitt's progress at the Hypo Group International tournament in Vienna, Austria and once again for the second consecutive tournament he reached the semi-finals but again failed to reach the final.

This time he lost his semi-final match to Gael Monfils who went on to lose to the Juan Monaco in the final. This time he was playing in a tournament that didn't have many of the big names and that gave Hewitt a chance to reach the final and win it possibly and so you would think but Monfils also had good tournament as he also dispatched another big gun in Andy Roddick along the way.

Even though Hewitt failed to reach the final, I think he has done his French Open preparations no harm and I think he will be able to reach at least the second week. A grand slam always has some unknown players coming in and causing some shocks but I think that if Hewitt plays the way he has done for the past fortnight he is capable of causing upsets of his own.

Hewitt's first match will be against Max Mirnyi whilst defending champion Rafael Nadal will play Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro and Roger Federer will fight it out against American Michael Russell.

Federer stops Nadal run

Roger Federer stopped Rafael Nadal's 81 match record winning streak on clay when he beat the world number two at the Hamburg Masters in three sets to win his fourth Hamburg title.

Federer who had his own winning streak stopped by Guillermo Canas recently, didn't have the perfect start to the match when he lost the first set 6-2 and at that point it looked like it was going to be another routine Nadal win on clay.

But Federer came in the second set with a determination to win and took the second set leaving the third set as the decider. Federer steam rolled the third to win 6-0 to break Nadal's long running winning streak on clay which could have gone even longer especially at the start of the French Open.

I think Federer's win will mean Nadal will go into the French Open knowing that there is now a strong challenge to his grip at Rolland Garros and that may put some pressure on him.

Interestingly Lleyton Hewitt could have stopped Nadal's run in the semis but Nadal had a slight edge in what was a thrilling semi and I think Nadal has to think about the danger posed by Hewitt as well who had a very good Hamburg tournament.

Federer stunned in Rome

Roger Federer last night lost in straight sets to wildcard Filippo Volandri in the third round of the Rome Masters.

Federer was not the only big name to exit in the third round with Andy Roddick also going out after losing to Juan Ignacio Chela.

But it is Federer's exit that is most interesting. When I saw him lose the first game of the match I just thought he would come back but as the match went on he committed so many errors and local favourite Volandri took advantage of that.

This was Federer's fourth loss of the year and one more loss would equal the number of losses suffered in the whole of the last year and we are still in May.

I think this is not the right form for Federer going into the French Open which starts later this month. Meanwhile Rafael Nadal despite suffering from dizzy spells won his 74th consecutive clay court match to set up a quarter-final date with Novak Djokovic.

And for those who were waiting for another Nadal/Federer match up on clay will have to wait a bit longer.

Nadal triumphs in surface battle

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the battle of the surfaces in a match played in Palma, Spain on a court with clay and grass on either side of the net.

It was a very interesting exhibition match but given the seriousness of the play it was taken quite seriously by the players with a tie-break being a fitting end to the three set match.

I think its very hard to draw some conclusions on this but one thing for sure is that Federer has now improved so much on clay and could beat Nadal at the French Open and also Nadal by reaching the Wimbledon final last year showed us that though he may be called a clay court specialist, he is equally good on grass but not as good as Federer.

Nadal and Federer will both play in the clay tournament in Milan and it should be an interesting final should both players reach it. Nadal is now on a 72-match unbeaten streak on clay and must be eager to extend that streak on clay in Milan.

Nadal rules in Monaco

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer to win the Monte Carlo Masters title for the third straight year and extend his winning run on clay to 67.

Nadal has been in top form in Monaco all week and won the title without dropping a set which is commendable. Federer had also not dropped a set before the final and he was only really tested in the second round by Andreas Seppiif when he won in two sets but after two tie-breaks.

I thought that Federer played quite well in the first set and made Nadal fend off three break points but in the second set it was clear that Nadal was going to retain his title.

We will have to wait until Rome to see if Federer can close the gap to match Nadal's play on clay. Federer is still to beat Nadal on clay and he would be desperate to get a way past him to enhance his chances of winning the French Open.

Canas beats Federer again

For the second time in a fortnight Guillermo Canas has beaten Roger Federer again and this time it was at the Miami Masters to advance to the quarter finals.

Canas has managed to do what so many players failed to do for most of last year and part of this year and that is to beat Federer and for him to hand Federer back to back defeats is something special.

I think some other players must be wondering what formula he uses to beat the world number one and also Federer must now trying to work out his plan to overcome him or hope that he will be on the other side of the draw next time.

I hope that Canas will take advantage of his win this time and proceed to the semis at least of this tournament because two weeks ago when he beat Federer at the Pacific Life Open he went on to lose the next match and was out of the tournament. He lost to Carlos Moya in straight sets in the third round.

The quarter final match that I am looking forward to is the match between the two Andys, Roddick and Murray. Murray has been playing well lately and I would like to see how he fares against Roddick who is also playing some good tennis at the moment.

Meanwhile in the Sony Ericsson Open, Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 in a repeat of the Australian Open Women's final. This is the first time these two have met since the final at the Rod Laver Arena and I had expected Sharapova to give a bit of a fight this time around but in the end it was nearly like the Australian Open.


Nadal too strong for Djokovic

World number 2 Rafael Nadal won the Indian Wells Masters after beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

I think this is a significant victory for Nadal because its his first win since winning the French Open in June last year and it could sign of a change in fortune for him.

After the French Open Nadal went on to reach the Wimbledon final the next month and that was the plateau because from then on he failed to reach a single final until this week. This was due to a loss of form mostly caused by a string of injuries.

Nadal has won the Indian Wells Masters title without dropping a single set and this indicates he is back to the form that made a lot of people think he was the only player who could challenge Roger Federer.

The first set was a pretty straight forward win for Nadal who played some excellent tennis similar to the one that helped him overcome Andy Roddick in the semis. But Djokovic came back in the second set but it wasn't enough to turn around the tables as Nadal broke him once and cruised to a 7-5 win and win the title.

Nadal in Indian Wells final

At last Rafael Nadal has managed to reach a final for the first time since reaching the Wimbledon final on the 9th of July last year.

Nadal beat Andy Roddick to get a place in the Indian Wells Masters final against Novak Djokovic who beat Andy Murray in straight sets.

Its surprising to see that although Nadal has managed to maintain second ranking behind Roger Federer he actually has failed to reach a tournament final in the last nine months. Interestingly the semi-final match against Roddick was a good chance for Roddick to close the points gap between him and Nadal and I think he has lost a very good chance.

I think Nadal is regaining his form at the right time and this would be good time for him to win a trophy after last winning the French Open last year.

Canas stops Federer's run

Guillermo Canas beat Roger Federer in the second round at the Pacific Life Open tournament to stop his impressive unbeaten run which was now on 41.

I never saw this defeat coming at all and I am wondering whether Federer was so much conscious of the impending record or it was a case of Canas just being too good for Federer. Canas now joins the 'special' group of players which includes Rafael Nadal and Andrew Murray, players who have managed to overcome Federer in the past year.

With Federer out it opens out the field to other players to take the mantle. I watched Ivan Ljubicic beat Thomas Johansson today in clinical fashion and I think if he keeps on like that he could be challenge for this title.

But there is also Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal who also won their second round ties although they both needed tie breaks and they too will try everything especially knowing that Federer is now out of the tournament.

So the Federer the counts starts again from zero and realistically I think the actual count will begin with the start of the grass court season unless he does so well on clay this year and win the French Open.

Federer on course for record

I have been closely following the Dubai Open from the start hoping that Roger Federer would meet Rafael Nadal in the final but in the end that never eventuated as Nadal lost to Mikhail Youzhny in the quarters and Youzhny went on lost to Federer in the final.

If Nadal had reached the final it was going to be the first time for him to reach a final since Wimbledon last year and if he had won it would have been his first win since the French Open.

That to me shows that although Nadal still holds the world number 2 ranking, he is not quite there in terms of winning tournaments and finishing off opponents the same way Federer does. The fact that he still holds the number two ranking in a way confirms the lack of challengers in the men's circuit.

Federer's win in Dubai is his 41st consecutive win and he now only needs five more wins to equal Guillermo Vilas' all-time record of 46 and that is some consistency.

I think a lot of people will be following the Pacific Life Open starting on the 5th of March to see whether Federer can equal Vilas' record at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Federer's class shows in final

Roger Federer won the Australian Open after beating Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets in the final. This is Federer's tenth Grand slam title and I can see that number increasing before the turn of the year especially at Wimbledon and the US Open.

I think Gonzalez's failure to take advantage when he broke Federer's serve and with two set points was the turning point of that set if not the match. That was a very good chance for Gonzalez which he should have converted but credit to Federer he played well to break back Gonzalez's serve and then went on to win the set in a tie-break.

In the end Federer won the tournament without dropping a single set and that's remarkable in itself. Although Gonzalez was broken once in both sets two and three you could see that Federer was in control throughout the match.

The next task that awaits Federer now is to wrestle the French Open title from Rafael Nadal. I don't think that will be an easy task at all and it will make for a fascinating French Open.

Too easy for Williams

Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim the Australian Open women's title today for the third time. Williams made it look so easy rattling Sharapova with her power game and speed and in a way making mockery of Sharapova's world number 1 ranking.

I expected the final to be tight and expected Sharapova to have the upper hand but she had no answer to Williams game plan. The match took just one hour and two minutes.

To Williams advantage was the fact that she had nothing to lose in this match being unseeded in the tournament and ranked 81 whereas Sharapova is now the world number 1 and the expectation was for her to play like one but she just couldn't do it.

Meanwhile in the men's final tomorrow it will be Roger Federer against Fernando Gonzalez. I don't see this as being a one-sided final like the women's because Gonzalez is playing nearly as good as Federer especially in the last three matches against the trio of James Blake, Rafael Nadal and Tommy Haas.

Federer will have lots of experience on his side and has the winning mentality and that could switch the match in his favour.

Federer sweeps past Roddick

Roger Federer made light work of Andy Roddick this evening winning in straight sets to reach his seventh grand slam final in a row. He only needs to reach the final of the French Open to record a new record of eight straight grand slam finals.

Roddick looked like he meant business in the first set when he broke Federer's serve but unfortunately for him, that was his only highlight for the entire match as he was swept away in the second set and by the third set the match was finished as a contest.

Federer will now meet the winner of the match between Tommy Haas and Fernando Gonzalez. I think Gonzalez will reach his first grand slam final given the way he is playing now and if he does the final could be very interesting.

Federer last failed to reach the finals of a grand slam in 2005 when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the semis. If he reaches the final of the French Open later this year he will set yet another record of eight finals in a row.

When I watched Serena Williams lose to Sybille Bammer in the quarter finals at the Hobart International two weeks ago I never thought she would reach the finals of the Australian Open but she has done just that. Serena will battle it out against Maria Sharapova for the women's crown.

Having reached this far I think Serena could win the title but Sharapova is not going to be world number one next week for nothing and I think we have a very good final on our hands. This is fitting for the women part of the draw which has been very entertaining with many tight contests.

Federer into record semis

Roger Federer tonight stormed into a record eleventh grand-slam semi-final in a row when he beat Tommy Robredo in straight sets. Although he achieved the win in straight sets I think this is the most he has been stretched so far in this tournament and he will now meet Andy Roddick in the semis.

The last time Federer failed to reach the semis of a grand slam was at the French Open in 2004 when he lost in straight sets to Gustavo Kuerten in the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray played out an exciting match last night that finished just before 2 am. Nadal will now meet Fernando Gonzalez tomorrow in the quarter finals.

So Roddick now stands in between Federer and another grand-slam final and I think it will be another entertaining match. Federer didn't look as polished as usual tonight and he will have to play better against Roddick because Roddick himself is having a very good tournament.

Safin, Petrova knocked out

Andy Roddick last night knocked out Marat Safin in a tight four set match at the 2007 Australian Open. I just think that had Safin won the first set tie break that would have given him more confidence for the rest of the match but he more or less fizzled out in that tie-break.

I think Roddick is just showing that beating Federer at Kooyong was no fluke and he looked composed as he dispatched the irate Safin who disputed a few of the calls at Melbourne Park. Compared to the first two matches that Safin played, I think he played very well in this match but his opponent was just too good this time around.

I still don't know how Nadia Petrova lost her match to Serena Williams. Leading 5-4 in the second set and serving for the match, Williams turned the tables around and went on to win that set and then surged on to win the third and the match.

On the Aussie front, Lleyton Hewitt will face Fernando Gonzalez in what will be Hewitt's toughest test so far at this year's Open. Alicia Molik on the other hand will match up with Patty Schnyder and this looks like a far tougher assignment than Hewitt's.

I just hope at least one of them if not both win to still have some Aussie presence going into the second week.

Baghdatis bows out in first week

I suppose maybe the most significant result in the first week so far at the 2007 Australian Open tennis tournament here in Melbourne is Marcos Baghdatis being beaten by Gael Monfils last night. Baghdatis won the hearts and minds of the Melbourne public when he reached the Australia Open final last year and lost to Roger Federer. Many were expecting that he would at least reach the second week but Monfils put paid to those plans and Baghdatis will have to come up again next year for another onslaught at the Australia Open.

Elsewhere, Federer is showing that he is still at his best when he dismissed Jonas Bjorkman in straight sets. I think he will retain his crown and at the moment I think its a question of whether he will drop a set or not and if he does how many.

At this stage of the tournament the match I am looking forward to in the third round is the one between Marat Safin and Andy Roddick. While Safin says he is still coming back from injury, I think he will give Roddick a run for his money and could win the match. To do so he will have play much better that he did against Israeli qualifier Dudi Sela.

In the women's draw no surprises at the moment and I think the women's draw is less predictable than the men's in the second week. A notable match in the third round is the one that pits Serena Williams against fifth seed Nadia Petrova.

Now its not as hot as it was on Tuesday when the mercury went past 40 degrees in Melbourne and while the question has been whether the heat rule is good for the players or not, the same argument can be extended to the fans watching the match. It's not good to be standing in the sun at such baking temperatures but at least the fans can walk away but the players have no choice but to finish the match. That may need revision, I think.


Russia takes Davis Cup

Its always interesting when a Davis Cup tie goes down to the last rubber to decide the winner and this is exactly what happened in the Davis Cup final between Russia and Argentina in Moscow.

After David Nalbandian had beaten Nikolay Davydenko to make it 2-all, it was down to Marat Safin and Jose Acasuso to decide who won the 2006 Davis Cup. In the end Safin won in four sets.

Its interesting to see that the players who were involved in the doubles rubber the previous day, Safin and Nalbandian, both won their final ties. In fact Safin won against Acasuso who was playing his first match in the final.

I actually have been wondering why Acasuso was given the nod ahead of Juan Ignacio Chela. It could be because of two reasons. The first one being that before this match he had a 2-1 advantage over Safin and secondly because he hadn't lost a Davis Cup rubber this year.

It would have been Argentina's maiden Davis Cup title had they won but it wasn't to be. I think they still have got a chance in the coming years as long as they maintain their big pool of top ranked players.

Federer finishes year in style

Federer finished his 2006 tennis season on a high by winnning the Masters Cup in Shanghai. He beat James Blake in straight sets.

But if you think of it for the whole year he has been on a high wining three grand slam titles and nine other tournaments. He played 97 matches and only lost five of them. The five matches were lost to only two players, four to current world number 2, Rafael Nadal and one to British rising star Andy Murray. That's a feat in itself. Take Nadal out from the equation, in theory he could have lost just one match and won sixteen title!.

Looking forward to next year his sights must be on the French Open the only grand slam he didn't win. He will have to fight very hard to wrestle it from Nadal. Nadal is the only player who has given him some tight competition during the year and that and I expect that duel to spill over into next year starting with the Australian Open.

I wish he could play more for the Swiss Davis Cup team. By having him in their team they would have a good chance of winning at least two singles matches and then fight out to win just one more match from the remaining three rubbers.

Australia's Davis Cup struggle

I wasn't very much surprised to see Argentina knock out Australia in the Davis Cup in Buenos Aires. It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Australia against Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-final on the clay courts of the Parque Roca Stadium.

At this moment in time Australia doesn't have the kind of players to win against the David Nalbandian led Argentinian team because the moment Lleyton Hewitt lost to Jose Acasuso in the rain delayed second rubber it was hard to see where another win would come from.

The off-court issue of body guards and security or lack of it was an unwanted distraction in a match were chances of winning were always going to be slim for Australia. First, the playing surface was clay which the Argentinians are quite good at and then there was a more than vociferous crowd support that even included football legend Diego Maradona.

For Australia to reach the semis with the players they had is a good achievement on its own and compared to the other three Davis Cup semi-finalists, Australia's line-up was arguably the 'weakest' in ranking terms. I hope Mark Philippoussis will continue his climb up the rankings because with two good players you can go far in the Davis Cup.

Federer posed for greatness

As if he is not great already, I think Roger Federer is posed for even more greatness surpassing Pete Sampras record of fourteen grand slam titles. After his US Open win over Andy Roddick he now only needs six more grand slams to overtake Sampras and with the he way he is playing its now a question of when and not if.

Looking back at 2006, for the three grand slam titles he won he probably played the worst at the Australian Open where he dropped a total of four sets because he only dropped two at Wimbledon and just one at the just completed US Open. Before losing to Nadal in the final at the French Open he had only dropped just one set and this shows he has got so much more in reserve.

I think its the French Open that is going to prove difficult to get given that Nadal is almost unbeatable on clay at the moment.

Nadal falls to Youzhny

I should say the US Open is a bit difficult to follow because of the time zones but this morning from around 6am I managed to watch Rafael Nadal play Mikhail Youzhny in the quarter final match in which Nadal lost.

I was expecting Nadal to reach at least the semis this time especially when he was going to meet unseeded Youzhny in the quarters but he was outplayed. So like the Australian Open there will be no Nadal/Federer match in a grand slam.

Andy Murray also bowed out after losing to Nikolay Davydenko but I think Murray has improved so much in the course of the year and should do well with a bit more experience next year.

Earlier in the week it was sad to Andre Agassi bow out having been around for so many years. He was complete tennis player and that explains why he was able to last so long and I miss him greatly. I was good to see such a great player and yet very humble.

Federer dismisses Nadal Challenge

Roger Federer won his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title early this morning after dismissing Rafael Nadal's challenge in four sets. In an error strewn match for Nadal, Federer once again showed why he has gone for 49 consecutive matches without a loss on grass and on this performance that number can only increase.

Nadal did very well to get to the final in the first place and not only that he is the only player who managed to take a set off Federer at the All England Club this year. I think he now no longer deserves the tag clay court specialist as such but has to be rightly seen as a good tennis player who at age 20 can only improve.

I won't be surprised to see Federer come again to win Wimbledon next year and get a fifth consecutive title but he will better take note of Nadal's improvement on the grass surface and it will only be a matter of time before Nadal wins Wimbledon going by his play this year.

It's also good to see that at least now there is somebody who can challenge Federer in the form of Nadal. It still remains to be seen how Nadal will fare at the US Open but from his Wimbledon exploits we can expect a good tournament from him.

Federer to battle it out with Nadal

Once again Roger Federer will meet Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam final but this time it will be at Wimbledon and this promises to be an entertaining final. Federer is still to drop a set so far in this year's tournament and Nadal has dropped two and that was in one match in the second round against Robert Kendrick.

I still think Federer has the edge this time around but unlike the French Open final Nadal will go in this match with no record of his own to defend and against the favourite and that could work in his favour. Federer on the other hand will increase his winning streak on grass to 48 should he win and so he will be keen to extend his record.

Meanwhile Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs lost in their semi-final doubles match which means that Black will not be able to defend her doubles title.

Nadal faces Baghdatis test

I promised a friend of mine, Gwitso, that should Rafael Nadal make it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon I would surely create a tennis category on this blog and he has now. My assumption, proved wrong now, was that Nadal was a 'clay court specialist' and therefore he wouldn't make it into the second week of Wimbledon but from what I have seen so far he has played some brilliant tennis and now Marcos Baghdatis stands between him and the final. Whoever wins, it will possibly be a repeat of the one of the two grand slam finals played so far this year with both players having played Federer in the Australian and French Opens.

Baghdatis became the most popular Cypriot here in Melbourne when he reached the final of the Australia Open in January and now he is on the threshold of getting into the Wimbledon final. It should be a good match possibly lasting five sets but I think Nadal will cruise through.

In the other semi-final I expect Roger Federer to reach yet another Wimbledon final. Jonas Bjorkman has done well to reach this stage but I don't expect him to give Federer too much trouble.

From a Zimbabwean and Australian perspective, Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs will fight it out against the Chinese pairing of Zi Yan and Jie Zheng for a place in the Women's doubles final.