Andy’s Melbourne Agony

Four weeks into the new season and Novak Djokovic has already notched crushing victories over his three main rivals – his fellow ‘Big Four’ members – and has made history by equaling Roy Emerson’s all-time record of six Australia Opens won.

After annihilating Nadal in the Doha final in the opening week of the season and beating Federer convincingly in the Australian Open semi-finals, Djokovic committed Andy Murray to the same fate in the final yesterday,

Djokovic won 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) to hand Murray a fourth defeat in an Australian Open final, leaving the Scot as just the second man in the Open Era to lose five finals at the same major.  The victory earned him an 11th grand slam title and he now joins Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg in fifth place on the all-time list of most majors won.

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Fernando’s Frustrations

Five hours and fourteen minutes. That was the official duration of the match that made Verdasco the next contender to break the top four’s vice like grip on the ATP. Though not exactly a 2008 Wimbledon final, it was one of the most exciting matches in Australian Open history with the fourteenth seed up against five-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal.

Prior to the match, the Majorcan was the favorite to advance; only losing one set to his older opponent in six meetings and was yet to drop a set in 2009 in Melbourne Park.  However Verdasco had been on his peak form, upsetting favorites like Murray and Tsonga on his way to his maiden Grand Slam semifinal.

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Men’s Nike Premier RF Hybrid Adjustable Tennis Hat

Pros:

The Nike RF hats have been my favorite hat since the first time I owned one. I have purchased several of these over the years and always find myself buying more. I wear them for practically everything. I enjoy the way they fit and the comfort level is excellent. These Roger Federer caps are, bar none, my favorite.. Having a rather large dome I often have a hard time finding a good comfortable fit. I now have six Federer caps in different colors. Besides the excellent fit they are sharp looking as well.

Sure, Roger can’t seem to win a major these days but his hats continue to. I own a few of these and they are as well put together today as they were in the past. The caps look great despite the punishment they go through in the sweat factory of my head. I’ve read some complaints they are a bit heavy and heftier than Nadal hats or featherlites but so far I haven’t experienced that problem. It all hearkens back to that quality issue. It’s a simple solution – wash well. What’s more is the thick stitching and blue with the lava make it quite the looker.

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Wilson K-Blade 98

The Wilson K-Blade first rose to fame at the 2008 Australian Open final when hot favorite Novak Djokovic smashed through the draw with his all new K-Blade Tour – a new mid-sized offering in the Blade line-up. On the other side of the net stood Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who had been equally devastating with his K-Blade 98. The K-Blade 98 features Wilson’s latest technology in the tennis industry known as the K-Factor, now popularized by Federer’s favorite Wilson K-Six One.

The K-Blade 98 is a performance tennis racquet from Wilson’s K Factor series.  The racquet is designed to provide the control of a player’s racquet as well as increased forgiveness.  It features a Karophite Black Frame that gives improved feel, strength, and stability to the racquet.  The K- Blade 98 is the most versatile model in the K-Blade series and is supposed to give the player a high level of control.

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The ‘Other’ Elusive Slam

U.S. Open champion. Wimbledon champion. Olympic gold medalist. And now Davis Cup champion. The man I’m talking about is no ordinary British player. His credentials far exceed that of the last British number one, Tim Henman. In 2013, he became the first British player to win Wimbledon in 77 years after Fred Perry.

 In 2014, he won Great Britain their first Davis Cup title since 1936 winning all eleven of his assigned rubbers. The 28-year-old joined American John McEnroe and Swede Mats Wilander as the only men to have an 8-0 singles record in a Davis Cup year, while in doubles he is only the fourth man to win eleven rubbers in a single year.

Englishman Andy Murray also matches his contemporaries in winning one of the sport’s biggest prizes, having won more points along the way than Novak Djokovic (seven points in Serbia’s 2010 win), Roger Federer (seven points in Switzerland’s 2014 win), and Rafael Nadal (six points in Spain’s 2011 win).

And yet he still lacks the two slams that prevent him from completing a career grand slam – the French Open and the Australian. One slam at a time though, first up – the Australian Open 2016.

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Raonic Aggression Too Much for Faulty Federer

In a match that was on paper a repeat of last year’s Brisbane final, the performances on court by Roger Federer and Milos Raonic could not have been more different. Last year when the duo met in the 2015 ATP Brisbane International Final, Roger won 6–4, 6–7(2–7), 6–4   to record his 1000th win on the tour. It was an extremely close match in which Raonic competed in outstanding fashion but failed to deliver on the big points when it mattered the most.

Come 2016 and Raonic’s progression is there for all to see. At 6-4 and serving for the match at 30-30, he could have easily melted under pressure similar to his previous matches with Roger on hard courts. The Canadian is having none of that. At 30-30 he forces one more of countless backhand errors from Federer to produce championship point, on which he promptly blasts a serve out wide that Federer’s backhand can only slice wide.

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Brisbane, Auckland and Shenzhen – A Weekly WTA Roundup

Azarenka Routs Kerber to Clinch Brisbane Title

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka won her first title since 2013 by beating Angelique Kerber in the Brisbane International final. The unseeded Belarusian, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years, beat the fourth-seeded German 6-3 6-1.

Image: brisbaneinternational.com.au

In a match that was strangely lopsided after the first set, the 26-year old Belarusian hit 23 winners to just 9 unforced errors tonight for against one of the best counterpunchers in the game. Azarenka lost just 17 games en route to the title tying Serena’s mark in 2013. It is even more impressive considering Serena received a walkover in her run whilst Azarenka did it over five matches.

Credit had to be given to Kerber, who put up a brave fight in the face of a marvelous display of deep-hitting tennis by Azarenka. The first set was tight with Kerber hitting more winners (15 to 14) and was +4 for the set, figures that should stack up against anyone. But Azarenka just didn’t give her any daylight. 

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Djokovic Dominates Nadal in Doha

Dominating. Overpowering.  Devastating. Sublime. The tennis world is fast running out of superlatives to describe the current world number one.  Such was the case today, when Novak Djokovic dismantled an optimistic Rafael Nadal in clinical fashion in the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2016.

The Serb continued his recent dominance of the 14-time Grand Slam title winner with a ninth victory in ten meetings – the last five in straight sets 6-1, 6-2. The 28-year-old broke twice in both sets, utilizing four of seven break point opportunities as Nadal had no answer to the pace and power of his groundstrokes.

Before the match, all the chatter was about Djokovic’s strongest shot – his backhand – going up against Nadal’s strength – the forehand. What occurred was a complete role reversal. Djokovic battered the Nadal topspin forehand with the extensive use of his own forehand, even running around his backhand to hit consecutive majestic inside-out forehands behind Nadal. On the occasions Djokovic went down the line, his inside-in forehand was an absolute revelation and his backhand was rock-solid in defense. Although Djokovic’s backhand was an indestructible wall in itself, tonight he utilized his forehand to the full width of the court, making Nadal run from corner-to-corner, with Nadal’s only solace coming from his backhand.

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Sharapova and Halep Withdraw. Stosur Down and Out Again.

Sixth seed David Goffin and eighth seed Dominic Thiem won their respective first round matches at the Pat Rafter Arena on Tuesday. Goffin beat Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, 6-4 6-4, and rising 22-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem beat Australian James Duckworth, 3-6 6-4 6-3, to secure their places in the next round.

The third seed in Brisbane, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, is hoping to rebound from an injury-riddled 2015. He missed a third of last season with a shoulder injury that kept him out of Brisbane and the Australian Open. He did not return to the tour until April. Cilic has a bye in the first round in Brisbane but knows what has to be done.

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Post-Abu Dhabi Nadal Continues on Collision Course with Djokovic in Qatar

I apologize for the lack of tennis updates for the past two days. Travelling from city-to-city and serious internet connectivity issues don’t mix well. Anyways:

MUBADALA WTC 2016

Nadal emerged victorious after a straight sets victory over world number 14, Milos Raonic. The Canadian faced Rafael Nadal for the title as the King of Clay chased his third trophy at this event having already won the tournament in 2010 and 2011. As the match began, the Canadian initiated his explosive serving barrage at the lefty Spaniard. As the set progressed however, Nadal showed he could handle the Canadian’s huge serve as he smacked a perfect forehand return winner. The first set would go to a tiebreak in which Nadal quickly built a 6-2 lead and eventually took the first set after a Raonic forehand error.

Image: www.dailymail.co.uk

The Spaniard’s relentless pressure on Raonic’s serve began to wear on the Canadian in the second set, and he was the first to crack as Nadal charged in to deliver an excellent running volley to earn a double break chance that he soon converted.

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