Serena Williams, Australian Open 2016

Even though there has been a lot of talks prior the Australian Open about Serena’s form, her presence in the final is all but a surprise. On the other hand, Angelique Kerber’s run to the final is quite unexpected.

Serena Williams’ road to the final

Serena‘s toughest match to advance to the final was her first round victory over the unpredictable Italian Camila Giorgi: she lost 9 games, the same number of games she lost to Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, combined! She’ll be the heavy favorite against first time Grand Slam finalist Angelique Kerber.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5
R2 Su-Wei Hsieh 6-1 6-2
R3 Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-1
R4 Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1
QF Maria Sharapova [5] 6-4 6-1
SF Agnieszka Radwanska [4] 6-0 6-4
Angelique Kerber’s road to the final

Angelique Kerber, Australian Open 2016

Angelique Kerber saved a match point to get past Misaki Doi in the first round and then never looked back. She beat only one seed en route to the final: Victoria Azarenka that many saw as Serena’s main rival in Melbourne.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Misaki Doi 6-7 7-6 6-3
R2 Alexandra Dulgheru 6-2 6-4
R3 Madison Brengle 6-1 6-3
R4 Annika Beck 6-4 6-0
QF Victoria Azarenka [14] 6-3 7-5
SF Johanna Konta 7-5 6-2
Serena Williams – Angelique Kerber head to head: 5-1

Serena and Angelique met six times, each time on hard court:

Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2007 US Open R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-3 7-5
2012 Cincinnati QF Hard Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4
2012 WTA Championships R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-4 6-1
2013 WTA Championships R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-3 6-1
2014 Miami QF Hard Serena Williams 6-2 6-2
2014 Stanford F Hard Serena Williams 7-6 6-3

Only three players have beaten in a Grand Slam final so far: her sister Venus (2001 US Open and Wimbledon 2008), Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004 and Sam Stosur at the 2011 US Open. Will Angelique Kerber be the fourth?

Who will be the 2016 Australian Open champion?

  • Serena Williams (38%, 41 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Other (14%, 15 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (9%, 10 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Venus Williams (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Timea Bacsinszky (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 107

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Photo credit: Margarette Reyes, Emma McPherson

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, Australian Open 2016

And that makes it three Grand Slams in a row for Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza. Their 7-6 6-3 victory over Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka extend their unbeaten run to 36 matches.

It is Martina Hingis’ 21th Grand Slam title: 5 in singles, 4 in mixed doubles and now 12 in women doubles.

Sania Mirza & Martina Hingis at the Australian Open 2016

Martina Hingis at the Australian Open 2016
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Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

Lucas Pouille’s coach Emmanuel Planque talks about the Canadian’s improved game.

Interview by l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz

“Apart from Djoko, I don’t see anyone who can beat him here.” I told you that just after the match against Lucas (Pouille). I was a bit stunned after the match. I re-watched the match several times and the impression remained. OK, I wasn’t excited by the way Lucas started each set… but Milos gave us nothing. That guy doesn’t even give you the time of day. Right now, I find him fit. We’ve been talking about him as a future Grand Slam winner for two years now. Like Dimitrov? Yes and no. I’m sure Dimitrov will come back. But he’s less impressive and not prepared as well as Raonic. He has less weapons.

He’s really confident with his serve. In Brisbane and Melbourne, he was hitting second serves at 220, 224 and even 226 km/h. At some point you don’t know how to return them: if you step back, he hits a kick serve that bounces really high; if you move forward to cut the trajectory, he hits a 220km/h bullet. The average first serve speed is often mentioned as a way to judge a server, but don’t forget the second serve. He put power in it but it doesn’t mean that many more double faults. That’s tied to his current confidence and the fact that he hasn’t played the top two best returners yet, Murray and Djoko, who can bother him. The idea is to make him run so he’ll serve between 160 and 180 km/h. Because if he serves at 130, he’ll be more accurate, more coordinated, more relaxed. But it’s hard to make him run much when he’ll try and shorten the point quickly.

He has improved his game considerably. Mainly because he doesn’t have any physical problems. Last year, he had to undergo surgery to repair pinched nerve in his foot. Good health means more intensity at practice. You can tell he has worked on his returns. He’s much more consistent. Before he could miss a few second serve returns in a row. Today, he puts you continuously under pressure without taking any risks. He returns hard in the middle, that allows him to take a lot of second shots with his forehand. And then it’s difficult to escape. Facing him, you get tense and you lose 10 to 15 km/h on your serve. I think Milos has assimilated the fact that the best players in the world aren’t the best servers. His goal is to get a ratio of quality of serve/quality of return that is much better than the others’.

He’s part of a very strong project. To me, he’s not a Canadian at all. He’s a Yugo (born in Podgorica, Raonic lived in Montenegro until he was eight). He reminds me of Djoko with his ambition and application. Raonic is straightforward, intelligent, a worker. The guy could easily have been an engineer. Now he’s a tennis player, that’s his job. He’s not emotional, he’s rational. He works on his mechanics. Ljubicic (now Federer’s coach) helped with his serve and second shot. Ljubicic leaves and Raonic takes Moya, who’ll help him with his returns and bring him the deep parts of the game. And above all he has Piatti (former coach of Ljubicic and Gasquet) who is a great coach and who is doing a hell of a job with him.

Would it hurt tennis if Raonic became number one? I don’t agree with that kind of pessimism. I hear some people say Raonic is bland, isn’t sexy, he’s boring … No! Sure, tennis of tomorrow will be guys 1.95m tall moving like guys 1.75 tall and who can return too. Can these critics affect Raonic? I feel he’s there to win. The rest …

Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

First clash between top players in this tournament and it didn’t disappoint! 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka rallied from two sets down to push Milos Raonic to a fifth set, but came up short and the recent Brisbane champion advanced to the quarterfinals after a 6-4 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-3 marathon.

Raonic vs Wawrinka

Raonic vs Wawrinka, Australian Open 2016

Raonic vs Wawrinka, Australian Open 2016
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Victoria Azarenka, Australian Open 2016

Angelique Kerber defeats Annika Beck 6-4 6-0

Angelique Kerber advanced to the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time, after a straight-set win over fellow German Annika Beck, ranked 39.

“It was really tough match today. First of all, congrats to Annika for an amazing week, well done to her. She’s a great player with great future.
The first set was very close. It was up and down with breaks and I just tried to stay in the match, be aggressive and take my moments.”

Annika Beck

Annika Beck

Angelique Kerber
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Gael Monfils, Australian Open 2016

Gael Monfils reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time after a 7-5 3-6 6-3 7-6 win over 74th ranked Andrey Kuznetsov. The Frenchman had an easy ride to the the last 8, beating Yuichi Sugita (124), Nicolas Mahut (63) and Stéphane Robert (225); but he’ll be the underdog on Wednesday as he faces in-form Milos Raonic.
Do you think Monfils can cause an upset?

Gael Monfils at the Australian Open 2016

Gael Monfils at the Australian Open 2016

Gael Monfils at the Australian Open 2016
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