Roland Garros is a place where Rafa Nadal can presumably hang his hat at the end of every May----he’s only ever lost one match in Paris, and has won 53 matches. He’ll go down as the best of all-time on clay, and in Monday’s first round action he looked disturbingly mortal. A German named Daniel Brands made a solid effort of taking down one of tennis’ giants, but fell short, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3.
Rafa has looked like his former self so far in the spring of this year after taking a seven-month hiatus to rehab his knee. Since coming back, Nadal has won 32 of his 34 matches on clay and six titles. If Rafa can outlast the likes of Djokovic and Federer he would become the first man to ever win eight championships at a single slam event.
John McEnroe is busy training the next group of great American tennis players. In 2010, he launched the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) in his hometown of New York City at the SPORTIME Randall's Island Tennis Center in Manhattan. His vision? Bring the buzz back to tennis--starting in his stomping grounds.
John's passion and belief is that great players can be developed in urban settings, while still having the opportunity to live at home, pursue their educational goals, and participate in a variety of sports and extracurricular activities. He is living proof. During his developmental years, McEnroe went to the Port Washington Tennis Academy on Long Island and remained involved in other activities, playing high school soccer until he was 18. He knows first-hand that training in a tennis-first environment would have been a recipe for disaster for him, and is instead trying to bring the New York urban mentality to training at his academy, while still producing spectacular talent.
Serbian Novak Djokovic the defending champ and #1 seed will play Scot Andy Murray, the #3 seed, for the Australian Open's Men's Championship on Sunday, Jan, 27th at 5:30 PM or 1:30 AM EST in the U. S. Djokovic has won 10 of their 17 matches to date with Djokovic having the last two wins in the final two ATP events of 2012. Both are right-handed 25-year-olds, and Murray at 6'3" is an inch taller. This match could go either way depending on who wants it more.
Murray earned his finals place by beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals for the first time in a major 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 in exactly four hours. Murray did not play the tie-breakers well getting passed at one point on a wicked crosscourt backhand winner by Federer. Yet, Murray stayed with it. Possibly the 31-year-old Federer did not have the legs after back to back five setters.
Djokovic had a much easier route, or rout, to the final by soundly beating clay court specialist David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in 89 minutes. Djokovic struck 30 winners and 16 errors while Ferrer had only 11 winners with 32 errors.
Australian Open Women's Singles Final Preview: Where To Watch Online Live Stream of Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
The Australian Open Women's Singles final which will be played at 7:30 PM on Saturday, January 26th in Melbourne (3:30 AM EST in the States) features the defending champion Victoria Azarenka the #1 seed from Belarus against Li Na, the #6 seed from China. Azarenka has beaten Na five out of nine times, but never in a Grand Slam. Azarenka has played consistently well this past year except when her opponent was Serena Williams, and stands a good chance to repeat if her nerves don't get in the way.
Azarenka sighed in huge relief after injured Serena Williams (ankle and back) was defeated by Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals. During Azarenka's 6-2, 6-4 semi-final win over Stephens in the second set, Azarenka took a 9-minute medical time-out and left the court prompting boos from the fans in the stadium.
Azarenka had a "blocked rib" according to her video press interview after the match. "I almost did the choke of the year right now, ... at 5-3, having so many chances and I couldn't close it out. I was a bit overwhelmed realizing I was one step away from the final. Nerves got into me, for sure."
During the US Open there was talk that Sloane Stephens was the next Serena Williams or next great American champ. Wednesday or last night for those in the States at the Australian Open, Stephens pulled off a remarkable upset by beating Serena 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Her talent shown brightly as the 29th seeded player earned a place in her first Grand Slam semi-finals against the #1 seed, Victoria Azarenka who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1.
Stephens has reached the third round of the U. S. Open before but this was her first quarterfinal appearance. Although, anxious at times, Stephens showed her quickness, mental toughness, and a better game plan than when she first played and lost to Williams (3-6, 4-6) a few weeks ago in Brisbane. Stephens attacked more, winning 18 of her 20 approaches or volleys in the 2 hour and 13 minute match.
On the other side of the net, Williams injured her back in the second set, smashed her racket, and recorded her worse statistical outing in unforced errors with 48 as compared to Stephens 39. In the Aussie press room, Williams stated that "This was my worst ever two weeks."