December 31, 2007
I'm happy to know that Serena is taking her fitness level seriously (and it shows). It is not over. Serena still has a lot more tennis to give and titles to win.
Berdych, ranked 14, came down with a stomach virus last night and tournament officials decided to play the mixed doubles before his singles match against 39th-ranked American Mardy Fish.
But after the US stormed to a 6-0 lead in the first set of the doubles, with Berdych's usual power and strong serve completely absent, he announced he could no longer go on and the Czechs forfeited, giving the US a 3-0 win.
Earlier, superstar Serena Williams made a good start to her Australian summer campaign with a hard-fought 6-0 2-6 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova in the women's singles. Williams came storming out of the blocks, her devastatingly powerful groundstrokes overpowering the 23rd ranked Safarova's and taking the opening set in 22 minutes without dropping a game.
But Safarova showed her mettle in the second set, breaking Williams' serve in the second and seventh games with quick ground work and clever drop shots, to give herself a chance.
With both players stepping up their games and the third set level 5-5, Williams, the defending Australian Open champion, then broke serve and went on to take the match in 112 minutes.
"It was definitely interesting. Lucie's a great player and I was a little off, obviously," Williams said. "She was just hitting a lot of winners on her forehand and her backhand, she was going for broke." Williams' year has been plagued by injury after the then ranked 81 singles player became only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian title in the Open era.
She said she welcomed the challenge to reach No. 1 again. "Of course I want to be No. 1, of course I want to win grand slams ... I wouldn't be out here if I didn't have those goals," she said. Williams arrived in Perth only yesterday for the mixed team event, after a stomach illness forced her to miss the tournament's opening tie between the US and India.
The win gave the United States a 1-0 lead over the Czech Republic.
Williams arrived in Perth late because of a stomach ailment and was replaced by Meghann Shaughnessy in the Americans' first match, a 2-1 win over India on Saturday.
Williams started off strongly Monday, but Safarova staged a second-set comeback. "I thought I was on my way to victory, then the next thing you know, I'm almost down 5-2 in the third," Williams said. "I was a little off, but she was hitting some great shots."
Safarova had seven double-faults, including one that set up break point in the 11th game to eventually give Williams a 6-5 lead in the deciding set. Serving for the match, Williams had two aces in the final game - her 10th and 11th of the match - then won when Safarova's backhand went wide.
Shrugging off jet-lag after a journey that began in Miami and took her via New York and Dubai, the American wore a pink skirt, light brown top and matching bandana and looked fitter than she has in recent years. Despite arriving in Perth only on Sunday, Williams proved her fitness was good by winning a tight battle with Safarova 6-0 2-6 7-5. Team USA (Mardy and Serena) will take on Team Australia (Peter Luczak and Alicia Molik) on Thursday, January 3, 2008. Serena starts the tie against Alicia Molik (at 10:30am).
December 30, 2007
The world No.7 arrived here early Sunday morning to compete in the mixed teams Hopman Cup, having taken a circuitous route from her US base in Miami via New York and Dubai.
Williams cited a stomach flu as the reason for her late arrival, with Meghann Shaughnessy successfully substituting as Mardy Fish's partner in the USA's opening tie victory over India on Saturday. "I was so glad when I heard that she won and Mardy won yesterday. I was really excited. I owe her a big thank-you," Williams said.
Having caught a few hours sleep after flying in at 3:00 am, Williams yawned her way through a practice session, but hit the ball crisply and looked in good shape.
The 26-year-old said she believed the guaranteed match practice of the Hopman Cup was the ideal preparation for 2008's first Grand Slam.
Williams warmed up for this year's Australian Open by playing in Hobart, where she was eliminated in the quarter finals.
However, she then went to Melbourne ranked 86th in the world and stunned the tennis world by fighting her way through to the final, where she thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-2 to claim her eighth Grand Slam title.
The Australian Open starts on January 14 and Williams explained she wanted a break between her warm-up tournament and the Grand Slam.
She used the same preparation in 2003, when she won both the Hopman Cup and Australian Open.
"Last year was cutting it close, I never like to play the week before a Grand Slam," she said. "Especially as defending champion, I really wanted to make sure I was here trying to get ready."
Despite the illness setback and also missing the season ending tournament in Madrid in November with a knee problem, Williams said she was satisfied with her preparation for the Australian Open.
Williams said she barely rested at the end of the season.
"I had a whole week (off), so that was not long at all," she said. "I am definitely feeling fully prepared. "It has been really good, I have been trying to train a little bit and have some fun."
The Hopman Cup will also offer Williams invaluable practice on the controversial new Plexicushion surface that is also being used for the Australian Open.
December 28, 2007
December 27, 2007
Serena Arrival Forces Temporary Switch
It was announced today that due to a mild illness, Serena Williams will now be arriving in Perth on Sunday. As the USA’s opening match in the Hyundai Hopman Cup is on Saturday morning against India, a substitute in Meghann Shaughnessy will partner Mardy Fish for this match only. Serena’s first match will now be on Monday 31 December against the talented Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in a pivotal tie for both teams.
Tournament Director, Paul McNamee said “it’s great that Serena is still playing in Perth. Meghann is a good substitute coming off her appearance in the final of the 2007 US Open Mixed Doubles and a strong year in singles”. Shaughnessy will fly to the Gold Coast immediately after the match to play in the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts. Under the rules of the tournament, substitutions are allowed between ties (but not during a tie). Therefore Williams and Fish will carry forward the results achieved by Shaughnessy and Fish in the opening tie without any penalty whatsoever.
Hyundai Hopman Cup will be played at Burswood Dome from 12/29/07 – 01/04/08.
The Hyundai Hopman Cup is televised on ABC TV and Fox Sports.
December 26, 2007
American drawcard Serena Williams will make a late start to Perth's Hopman Cup mixed teams event due to illness.
Williams will not arrive in Perth in time to partner Mardy Fish in the Americans' opening tie in the tournament against Indians Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna on Saturday.
The world No.7 will be replaced by the 52nd-ranked Meghann Shaughnessy. There had been concern over Williams' attendance at the tournament because of recent injuries, but she has assured organisers she will arrive in Perth over the weekend. Under Hopman Cup rules, player substitutions are allowed between ties.
December 24, 2007
December 23, 2007
01/14/08 - Australian Open
02/04/08 - Open Gaz de France
02/11/08 - Proximus Diamond Games
02/25/08 - Dubai Tennis Championships
03/03/08 - Bangalore Open
03/24/08 - Sony Ericsson Open
04/14/08 - Family Circle Cup
05/05/08 - Qatar Telecom German Open
05/12/08 - Internazionali BNL d'Italia
06/23/08 - Wimbledon
December 18, 2007
December 15, 2007
The singles portion of the event started with Serena Williams' win over Ashley Harkleroad 6-4, 6-2. Three hours into the event, Roddick and Williams paired for one set of mixed doubles against Querrey and Harkleroad - the stars won 6-3.
In a week's time, Serena has participated in two exhibitions with two members of the (2007 Champion) U.S. Davis Cup Team, James Blake and Andy Roddick.
December 14, 2007
December 13, 2007
December 9, 2007
December 2, 2007
If I were responsible for picking the 2008 Team (praying that each of the ladies are healthy), it would look like this:
Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond! Simply Unstoppable!
The U.S. last won Fed Cup in 2000. That stat will change in the very near future. The next tie is February 2-3, 2008 (World Group First Round: USA vs. Germany) TBD, U.S.