This comes from my personal blog: http://tennisnewsnow.wordpress.com/
As promised, this entry will highlight action from the second half of the clay court season with featured tournaments such as the Monte Carlo Masters, the Rome Masters and the Madrid Masters. I will begin with the WTA tour's events and the first big event on the red clay for the ladies was the Premier 5 event in Rome.
Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, Italy (Red clay)
Serena Williams, the top seed at the event, hadn't played a single match since defeating Justine Henin in Melbourne for her 12 Grand Slam title. But, if she was feeling rusty it sure didn't show, as she breezed into the semifinals before losing a classic match to Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic, who had previously defeated Serena's sister Venus, booked a spot into her 3rd Rome final in 4 years.
On the other side of the draw, there was a woman who was making an inspired run to the semifinals, a woman most notably known for her former glory at the top of the game, and her name was Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic, who since winning the French Open in 2008, had only reached 4 semifinals coming into Rome, looked to make that number 5 and she did just that in convincing fashion. En route to her semifinal run, she beat players like Elena Vesnina, Elena Dementieva, Victoria Azarenka, and Nadia Petrova. These wins made many, including myself, think that she had finally got her act together and was ready to be a top player again. But, as we have been in the past, we were fooled by the Serbian star, who played a lackluster match to lose in the semifinals to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
So the final was set between Martinez Sanchez and Jankovic, with Jankovic looking like the clear favorite to prevail as she had previously defeated both Serena and Venus Williams in back-to-back matches. But, we were once again fooled and saw Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez take the biggest title of her career by defeating Jelena Jankovic 7-6, 7-5.
In the men's edition of the Rome event, it was the Latvian Ernests Gulbis who created quite a shock in the tennis world during the Rome Masters as he took out Roger Federer in the 2nd round of the tournament. He went on to the semifinals where he took a set of the "King of Clay", Rafael Nadal, for his best ever showing in a Masters 1000 event.
On the other side of the draw, it was the feisty David Ferrer who backed up his run to the Monte Carlo semifinals with a finals run in the Italian capital. He had previously beaten Fernando Verdasco and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his way to a date with fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
In the championship match, it was Nadal who prevailed over his compatriot 7-5, 6-2 to win his second consecutive title in Rome.
Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open in Madrid, Spain (Red clay)
For the men in Madrid this year, it was a renewal of a rivalry that hadn't taken place since the same event one year earlier. Federer faced Nadal in the championship match for the second year in a row, but this time it was the Spaniard who beat his Swiss foe quite handily in 2010. This was Nadal's third consecutive clay court title and he extended his record over Federer to 14-7. Nadal was also able to navigate through the tournament by only dropping one set, and that was to the explosive Nicolas Almagro. So, for the men it was order once again restored in Spain, but for the women, it was anything but.
Where the men's tournament lacked surprises, the women's tournament made up for it and then some. It all started on the first Sunday of the tournament, when Justine Henin looked like she was going to roll past Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai and predictably make it to the late rounds of the Madrid event. But, after taking the second set 7-5, Rezai finished the match out with a bang by beating the former No. 1 6-0 in the final set. And that was just the start of things to come.
In the third round, Serena Williams was ousted by Nadia Petrova in three sets after she was extended to over three hours of play the round before against Vera Dushevina. Her sister held up the family name though and made it all the way to the finals at the Madrid event for the first time in her career.
Adding to the list of upsets was Caroline Wozniacki, who bowed out to Alona Bondarenko in the second round, Dinara Safina who looked shaky the entire match against Klara Zakapalova and also Svetlana Kuznetsova, who lost to Shahar Peer in the first round.
So, in the finals it was Venus Williams against the shock of the tournament, Aravane Rezai, who in addition to beating Henin, also beat Petkovic, Jankovic, and Safarova. And once the match began, it looked like Venus was going to become another victim of Rezai, who hit piercing groundstrokes that consistently overpowered the American's mighty shots. So as if there hadn't been enough suprises in the women's draw in Madrid, there was yet another one on finals day with Rezai finallly winning 6-2, 7-5.
Check back tomorrow for a all-inclusive review of Roland Garros and the grass court tune-ups. Wimbledon review will now be on Friday or Saturday.
Enjoy the blog and keep reading!