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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Kick Off

Only four days into the new season, the WTA has already provided us with the renewed rivalries, stunning upsets and well, Serena Williams, that has come to make women's tennis so entertaining. Here's a quick look at some of what we've seen so far and what we can expect in the near future.

AAP Photo
Stosur Bombs against Benesova
In a less-than-impressive effort, Slammin Sam of Australia fell to Iveta Benesova in straight sets in Brisbane (6-4, 6-2). Just like Li Na after Roland Garros and Petra Kvitova after Wimbledon, Stosur has looked a bit sluggish since her first Grand Slam title in New York, but with only two weeks until the Australian Open, can she really afford the let down? Stosur will arrive in Melbourne as the home-crowd favorite, so a quick pick-me-up will be important in next week's Sydney tune-up.

Lisicki Survives Second-Round Seed Massacre
A day of upsets shook Auckland's ASB Classic as four seeded competitors were sent packing. Lisicki, seeded no.1 for the tournament, withstood a valiant effort from Mona Barthel despite a topsy-turvy performance of her own. After breaking through at Wimbledon last year and looking dangerous throughout the late summer, Lisicki will enter Oz as strong an opponent as any. She faces fellow German, Kerber, in the Auckland quarters.

Clijsters Stifles Serbian Surge
Ana Ivanovic has been looking to climb her way back into the WTA elite since dropping outside the world's top 50. Currently ranked no. 22, Ivanovic is looking sharper than she has for quite awhile, taking Clijsters three sets in their Brisbane second round match. Clijsters came out of the gates firing and stomped the Serbian for a 6-1 first set, but Ivanovic returned the 6-1 drubbing in the second to take the match in a decisive third. With a 3-0 single break lead and a chance for 4-0, the former French Open champion seemed to have found a groove, but Clijsters proved once more that her fitness and determination are enough to take down any challenger. The Belgian rattled off six straight games to end the final set, 6-3.


Serena Wins on One Ankle
It's official: nothing can stop Serena Williams from finishing a match. Up a set and 5-1, Serena looked to have a chokehold on the match against her young opponent, Bojana Jovanovski, but with her back against the ropes, the Serbian firecracker started to find her depth. Suddenly Jovanovski was launching bombs from the baseline, matching Serena's grunts with cries of her own. At 5-3, a grueling rally pushed both women from one side to another, but it was Jovanovski who launched a blistering backhand up the line to backdoor Serena and send the American crumbling to the ground.

For a second it looked like the usual dramatic display of a veteran we've come to love, but then it was clear that Serena had actually fallen due to injury. After a quick timeout, Serena returned to court with her ankle bandaged, but Jovanovski earned the break and took the match to 5-4. If Jovanovski could hold and level the set, it appeared that she would overcome her ailing opponent, but Serena was too sharp, too composed and too strong. Serena finished the match with a break of serve, winning 6-2 6-4, but withdrawing the tournament immediately after the match. Sources have confirmed that Serena sprained her ankle, and now the question is whether she'll be ready for Oz.

Photo by Darren England, Herald Sun.

-Kedzie Teller, Senior Editor


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