Francesca Schiavone

Novak-Djokovic-Australian-Open-2012-ChampionNovak Djokovic (above), the prohibitive favorite to threepeat in Melbourne.


Alexandr Dolgopolov



Andy Murray



Bernard Tomic



David Ferrer



David Nalbandian



Fernando Verdasco



Gael Monfils



Gilles Simon



Janko Tipsarevic



Jerzy Janowicz



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga



Juan Martin Del Potro



Kei Nishikori



Kevin Anderson



Lleyton Hewitt



Marcos Baghdatis



Marin Cilic



Milos Raonic



Nicolas Almagro



Novak Djokovic



Richard Gasquet



Roger Federer



Ryan Harrison



Sam Querrey



Stanislas Wawrinka



Tomas Berdych


__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __


Agnieszka Radwanska



Ana Ivanovic



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova



Andrea Petkovic



Angelique Kerber



Caroline Wozniacki



Daniela Hantuchova



Francesca Schiavone



Jelena Jankovic



Julia Goerges



Kaia Kanepi



Laura Robson



Maria Kirilenko



Maria Sharapova



Marion Bartoli



Mona Barthel



Na Li



Nadia Petrova



Petra Kvitova



Sabine Lisicki



Samantha Stosur



Sara Errani



Serena Williams



Shuai Peng



Sloane Stephens



Svetlana Kuznetsova



Venus Williams



Victoria Azarenka



Yanina Wickmayer



Australian Open Ladies Champion Odds — 2012

Radwanska:  + 2500

Ivanovic:  + 3000

Pavlyechenkova:  + 6000

Wozniacki:  + 1200

Cibulkova:  + 15000

Hantuchova:  + 8000

Pennetta:  + 8000

Schiavone:  + 8000

Gadjosova:  + 20000

Jankovic:  + 6000

Goerges:  + 8000

Kanepi:  + 1500

Clijsters:  + 700

Safarova:  + 2000

Sharapova:  + 2000

Bartoli:  + 4000

Li:  + 2000

Petrova:  + 15000

Kvitova:  + 250

Lisicki:  + 4000

Stosur:  + 1200

Serena:  + 350

Peng:  + 10000

Kuznetsova:  + 4000

Zvonareva:  + 3000

Azarenka:  + 700

Wickmayer:  + 15000

Field:  + 2000


No big surprises here.  Hot as fire Mona Barthel, who just won at Hobart and who had to come through the quallies there as well, we think should be included on this list, but it would be the height of unlikeliness to see her walk away with hardware.  Though we’ll be betting she makes a fair impression this week.  As for the rest of the field, well, Vegas might appear to be getting lazy, but we respect these odds.  Sharapova getting paid very little mind, Li, a very dangerous player and major champion who plays well on the Plexicushion, also is paid very little mind.  You know, if you are of a pre-tourny betting mind, we’d say Li Na makes a lot of sense on a flyer.  Schiavone, who is also a major champ, treated here like a nobody with the field being given four times better odds.  Ouch.

In short, Vegas only respects tried and true real deals.  Which Wozniacki is not.  Obviously.  Is this another indictment on Wozniacki’s most uninspired game?  Not yet it’s not.  But check back with us in about 10 days.  We mentioned earlier in the week that we watched her lose to Radwanska the other day.  No surprise there.  But it gave us a chance to really get reacquainted with her game.  She has two second serves.  No forehand whatsoever.  The winners she hits on the forehand are placement winners.  And they are few and far between.  At one point we counted about 25 real time minutes between forehand winners and when she broke the spell, it was because Radwanska had gone so deep behind the baseline that Wozniacki was able to hit an off speed forehand angled out wide.  Very shaky.  By no means a bread and butter shot.  Even on clay.  She’s definitely a backhand player, and since she can’t blow anyone out off that wing either, she really has to play shot after set up shot so close to the lines that mirror image players like Radwanska who can just play the ball back will always give her fits.  And that’s the whole tour.  That’s why a Christina McHale can and has beaten her.  Those players who retrieve everything, and then come up with a shot here or there, or who have a good feel for when to take a chance and come in know they will have their shot.

Bigger guns with actual weapons can take her which goes without saying.  There are many of those in the draw, but let’s concentrate on the ones who Vegas deems as real threats to win.  First the Aussie, Stosur.  we’d have loved her, but she does come in playing pretty bad tennis.  There must be a ton of pressure on her to win for the home nation.  Otherwise, we can’t figure out the dip in her play.  She probably has the second or third biggest serve on the women’s side, has a sick forehand that she can get almost always because of how much she runs around the backhand, and her fitness is primo.  We can’t say we love Clijsters in this spot, but she does have the weapons and the resume, and is known for coming out of nowhere.  She can not be dismissed.

Azarenka is going to break through and she is going to do it soon.  But when she has to play a Kvitova or a Serena, she simply does not have the fire power in that spot.  Still, we could see her winning if the draw falls out.  Serena and Kvitova are clearly the cream of the crop.  And they are on the same side.  That’s most likely going to play out, and while Kvitova has the better odds now, we’ll eat our hat if Serena is not favored then.  Serena played tremendous tennis on similar courts all throughout Cali this summer when she went from world #180 to world number twenty-something in six weeks.  And Serena seems to come in looking well enough.  She got a couple of matches in at Sydney, took 4 sets and lost zero, and then bowed out.  We think she is a very good bargain in this spot at +350.

Crack (

First time Wimbledon Ladies singles champion Petra Kvitova (above) of the Czech Republic ended a perfect week and a perfect indoor season in 2011 with a hard fought 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Victoria Azarenka in Istanbul.  Kvitova outclassed the rest of the field here in Turkey, edging US Open champion Sam Stosur in the semis in 3 tough sets, to run her record against the Aussie to 3-0 for her career.  Kvitova did not drop a set in the round robin portion of the competition, which included an easy win over world #1 Caroline Wozniacki, who has done nothing to quiet her many critics, as she came up imminently small once again.

The big serving lefty Kvitova, despite having zero transition game, played the entire indoor season as she did Wimbledon: as Ms. Big Shot.  Her ability to dictate, usually the prime determinant on fast courts, proved out, even today against Azarenka, who had a great year and some hard luck, running into a rested Serena in the 3rd round of the US Open.  Kvitova has now clinched the year end #2 spot, a far cry from last year, when she ended the year outside the top 30.

Kvitova won the WTA Tour Championship in her first ever trip to the tournament which only accepts the world’s top 8 females.  She has not lost indoors since last October’s Kremlin Cup, when Kateryna Bondarenko got her in 3 sets in the 1st round.  Kvitova ends the year on an 11-0 indoor win streak.

As for Wozniacki, we definitely do not agree with favorite TTC personalities Corina Moriariu and former great Lindsey Davenport, who tried to pump up the Dutch pastry all week long.  Wozniacki and Kvitova both won 6 events, but Kvitova won a major in her first major final, and the Wimbledon winner is always regarded as the year’s true champion.  The YEC title, while not a major, is certainly a championship of note, and made more difficult by the fact that there are no easy matches.  All the more impressive, Kvitova did not lose in the tournament, while Wozniacki could not even reach the semi-finals.  No shocker since she is awful against top players.  Don’t be fooled by her “best” record against players in the top 10, which was intact, and may still be, even after getting shredded in straights 4 and 2 by Kvitova to open the Red Group’s RR play, and then followed it up with a loss to Vera Zvonareva.  In fact, Wozniacki could only manage one win this week, and barely, as Radwanska had her down a set and an early break in her one victory.

The four best players available made the semis, in Kvitova, Li, and Stosur–3 first time major champions–and Azarenka.  Clearly Zvonareva is a much better player than Wozniacki, as has been Sharapova this year, and as Venus, Serena, and Clijsters all surely are.

Yet Wozniacki holds the ranking, though she is likely outside the 10 best players in the game, because we’d probably put Schiavone, who is a French champ and last year was the French runner-up, ahead of her as well.  Though Moriariu and Davenport attemtped to portray Wozniacki as having a prominent future because the biggest rivals on the scene are aging, we’d say to that where are the actual rivalries?  She hasn’t really beaten anybody in the spot, and her 6 tournament wins last year were basically inconsequential, when compared to Kvitova’s body of work.

Since Clijsters, Venus, and Serena are headed back, and Kvitova, Azarenka, and Zvonareva aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, we think the Dutch Ms. is going to remain an utter disappointment.  As for Kvitova, if our tally is right, she has run her record to 59-13 on the year, and now prepares to represent her country in the Fed Cup Final tie versus Russia which begins next weekend.

Crack (,


Rafael Nadal (above) after stunning 3 set upset, suffered at the hands of Croat comer Ivan Dodig.  For Nadal, who was outplayed, it was the first time losing in the 2nd round of a Masters 1000 level event since 2008 (Rome, Juan Carlos Ferrero), and the first time doing so on North American soil since 2007 (Cincinnati, Juan Monaco).

Rogers Cup — Mens Masters 1000 Series (Montreal)


12:00 PM


Tomas Berdych:  – 275

Ivo Karlovich:  + 185

1:00 PM


Stanislas Wawrinka:  – 200

Kevin Anderson:  + 150

2:00 PM


Novak Djokovic:  – 900

Marin Cilic:  + 500

4:00 PM


Janko Tipsarevic:  – 180

Ivan Dodig:  + 130

5:00 PM


Mardy Fish:  – 175

Ernests Gulbis:  + 125

5:30 PM


Victor Troicki:  + 110

Gael Monfils:  – 150

7:30 PM


Roger Federer:  – 275

JW Tsonga:  + 185


Richard Gasquet:  – 200

Nicolas Almagro:  + 150


Rogers Cup — Women (Toronto)


1:00 PM


Andrea Petkovic:  + 150

Petra Kvitova:  – 200


2:00 PM


Roberta Vinci:  + 200

Ana Ivanovic:  – 300


MJ Martinez Sanchez:  + 250

Victoria Azarenka:  – 400


3:30 PM


Maria Sharapova:  – 600

Galina Voskoboeva:  + 400


Vera Zvonareva:  – 150

Agnieszka Radwanska:  + 110


7:00 PM


Serena Williams:  – 1200

Jie Zheng:  + 600


Francesca Schiavone:  – 185

Lucie Safarova:  + 135


Canadian wunderkind Milos Raonic (above).

When play commences on the lawns next week, tennis fans will be treated to some very good matchups.  With the Wimbledon draws announced today, we figured we’d let you know what to look out for in the first couple of rounds.  Ladies first:


Ladies Singles–1st Round


(15) Jelena Jankovic vs. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Akgul Amanmuradova vs. (23) Venus Williams

Alison Riske (USA) vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva

(6) Francesca Schiavone vs. Jelena Dokic

Christina McHale (USA) vs. Ekaterina Makarova

(18) Ana Ivanovic vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)

Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Eleni Danilidou

Aravane Rezai vs. Serena Williams

Laura Robson vs. Angelique Kerber

(5) Maria Sharapova vs. Anna Chakvetadze


Mens Singles 1st Round


Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs. Pablo Andujar

Fabio Fognini vs. Milos Raonic

Donald Young (USA) vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA)

Radek Stepanek vs. Fernando Verdasco

Tobias Kamke vs. Blaz Kavcic

Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Daniel Cox (GBR)

Ivan Ljubicic vs. Marin Cilic

Ivo Karlovic vs. Janko Tipsarevic

Alexander Dolgopolov Jr. vs. Fernando Gonzalez

John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut

David Nalbandian vs. Julian Reister

Robin Soderling vs. Philipp Petzschner

Kei Nishikori vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Marcos Baghdatis vs. James Blake


The women’s draw features Mary Joe Fernandez’s rag tag crew of hack Fed Cuppers, in Oudin, McHale, and Vandeweghe.  Oudin should get dusted by Ivanovic, who, should she lose, should probably hang it up already.  Coco’s got a glimmer of hope against Danilidou.  McHale should get shredded by Makarova.  FYI, Vania King, who has played well, is in the main draw, as is Alison Riske, who has a very tall order in Vera Z.  Who knows?  Grass is Riske’s best surface, and maybe the Pensylvania product gets lucky.  Zvonareva looked dead during her QF at Eastbourne versus Stosur, after winning 8 of the first 12 games and virtually having the match in the bag.  Zvonareva has played a lot of tennis this year.  Could that bode well for the American who should be installed on our FC squad, especially considering America’s woeful state of affairs and relegation from the World Group?  Journeywoman American by way of Russia Varvara Lepchenko did upset 18th seed Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros, so we’ll give her a bit of a chance here against 19th seed, Yanina Wickmayer.  Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, one of the few women with the stones to consistently attack, has a great shot to upset Jelena Jankovic.  The Spaniard is 2-1 lifetime versus the gutless, annoying Serb.  Also, it would be nice to see young Brit Laura Robson win her first round match with Kerber.  Kerber will be favored.

Not to run on about the men, but we do feel it’s high time that Ryan Sweeting, with his ranking up to 66th, notch his first ever match win on grass.  We’re very interested to see our boy, young beast Milos Raonic on the grass.  The possibility of a 3rd round match between Raonic and Nadal would make for appointment television.  As would a possible Del Potro/Nadal round of 16 affair.  Nice to see DP in the top 25 again (24).  Tommy Haas looks for his first win of the year, and we welcome him back, as well as David Nalbandian, who won 2 rounds at Halle.  We also welcome back Chilean ball crusher Fernando Gonzalez who might be a big problem for Dolgopolov, who seems to adjust poorly to specialty surfaces.  We love Stepanek, a nice net player, as an upset special in round 1.  We’d love to see James Blake do something in the spot versus Baghdatis, but Blake is even more disappointing than usual at Wimbledon.  Things look good for former boys champ Donald Young, in a very winnable 1st round match versus another American Alex Bogolomov.  We always love watching talented 1-hander Segiy Stakhovsky, who gets diminutive British hack Daniel Cox in round 1.  We hope Soderling has a good run here but it wouldn’t shock us if Philipp Petzschner, a very good grass courter and last year’s doubles champ gave him a good go.  Our favorite techno tennis player, Janko Tipsarevic has his hands full with ace machine Ivo Karlovic.  We might put a few dinari on Dr. Ivo.  It would be a good time for Marin Cilic to wake up, though we don’t have much confidence in that.

And in maybe the most celebrated first round rematch ever, we look for Giant John Isner, whose ranking has fell to near 50, to get back on track and take care for Mahut before it gets to 70-68 in the 5th.  Isner has weathered the clay season, and can not be faulted for taking Nadal to 5 hard sets at Roland Garros in round 1.  We look for him to have a great summer starting here, and carrying over to the American summer hardcourt season.

Crack (,        

The Williams sisters confer during a practice session on the grass at Eastbourne (above).

Earlier today, defending Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, in her first action in more than 11 months, came from a set down to defeat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours and 4 minutes, in the first round of the AEGON Championships in Eastbourne, in East Sussex, UK.  On points, the match could barely have been closer, with Serena finishing with only 1 more point than Pironkova (80-79).  But Williams served bigger and better, finishing with 7 aces, two coming during a pivotal game at the business end of the 2nd set when Williams was down love thirty.

Serena follows her sister Venus into the 2nd around, who played her first match since being forced to retire in the 2nd round the Australian Open–the 1st and only time she has ever retired in a major.  For Venus, the opponent was the same–German Andrea Petkovic, who has benefited from the paucity of talent in the wake of the injuries to the Williams sisters and all of the other displaced talent in the women’s game.  Venus took the match, also in close fashion, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.  Venus will face Ana Ivanovic in the 2nd round, whom she is 6-1 against lifetime, and 2-0 against on grass.  Ivanovic has only managed to take 3 sets of Williams in 7 matches, and she may never get a better opportunity to beat her then right now, before the grass court queen has regained her footing.  Ivanovic is coming off a semi-final showing in Birmingham, where she lost to Hantuchova.  The match marked the former French champ’s 1st semi-final of the year.

Venus’s half of the draw does look promising beyond Ivanovic as well.  She has a winning, lopsided record against most all, including a 10-0 record against Hantuchova, an 8-0 record against Schiavone, and a 5-1 record versus Radwanska.  The defending champ, Ekatarina Makarova is also in Venus’s half, as well as Kvitova and Li.  Surprisingly,Venus has yet to beat either.

As for Serena’s return rematch luck, she gets #1 seed Vera Zvonareva in the 2nd round, in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon singles final.  The winner has a good likelihood of facing Pavlyuchenkova or Stosur in the quarters, and Azarenka or Bartoli in the semis.

The sisters are not entered in the doubles competition here at Eastbourne.  We’d take that as somewhat of a sign that they will only play singles next week at SW-19.  Neither sister has ever won here at Eastbourne, as usually, they don’t play much between Roland Garros and Wimbledon.  No American has won here since Chanda Rubin successfully defended her title in 2003, scoring back to back titles, 1st versus Myskina and then versus Conchita Martinez.

Crack (,

Ladies Championship (Saturday, 9 AM EST)


Na Li:  – 120

Francesca Schiavone:  even


Mens Championship (Sunday, 9 AM EST)


Rafael Nadal:  – 220

Roger Federer:  + 180

We guess those people who took Roger at + 1500 pre-tournament are pretty pleased thus far with his performance.  This is exactly why we don’t get too crazy about the Masters Series. 

Crack (,

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