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Where Has Angela Haynes Been?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In the summer of 2005 Angela Haynes played Serena Williams in the third round of the Wimbledon Championships and came within a point of defeating her. It appeared that then 21-year old Angela would be one of the next big things to happen to women's tennis. Unfortunately, just a few months later, tragedy struck the Haynes family and took it's toll on Angela.

In late September, just a few days before Angela's birthday, her older brother Dontia died in a San Diego hospital from head injuries sustained when his motorcycle struck a car that had pulled out in front of him.

Angela was very close to her brother, who also played tennis. "We were like twins,'' Haynes said at the time. "If you saw me, you saw my brother. He was graduating this year and he was going to come out and be my hitter. … We talked about playing mixed doubles."

Angela dropped out of competition for a while thereafter, and is now working hard to return to the WTA Tour. She is currently ranked at 201, but was once ranked as high as 90.

In Arizona Republic, Arizona, at the the Coca-Cola Future Stars Tournament being held at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex, Angela, now 23, reached the final where she played Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria and was defeated 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

"On this tour, it's all about points," she said. "You earn points on finishes, and points relate to world rankings. Tennis works on points, and right now, I need about 150 points to move to where I want to be."

Last year on this circuit, Haynes finished fifth among money winners, and earned $31,193, including winning four doubles titles.

"It gets very expensive to remain on tour," she added. "If you lose in the opening round of a major, you get $25,000, so that's the aim. We're all shooting to play in a major."

Haynes now splits her time between Los Angeles, where she lives, and Phoenix, where she practices with her coaches James Jack and Anne Smith. From Surprise, she said, she's off to Hawaii. By the end of the summer, she hopes to be in New York and the U. S. Open.

"You might say the road to the U.S. Open starts in Surprise," Williams said. "This tour is the starting point, the launching pad for future players. We want people in Surprise and the community to come to this event and say, 'I saw that player when she first started. Now, she's the winner of a Grand Slam event."

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga To Play Davis Cup For France; Preparing To Move To Switzerland

The AFP is reporting that Australian Open singles finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will make his Davis Cup debut for France in a first round clash against Romania next month.

Tsonga, 22, was included in a team that also comprises Richard Gasquet, Arnaud Clement, Michael Llodra and Gilles Simon for the February 8-10 trip to Sibiu.

The AP is reporting that Tsonga is looking into moving to Switzerland, based upon statements made on Tuesday by Swiss officials.

Tsonga reportedly requested residence papers to settle in the village of La Rippe, near the southwestern town of Nyon, said Philippe Pareaz, the president of the village.

The papers have not been signed yet, he added. But Pareaz said the 22-year-old player has taken a lease on a studio in La Rippe.

If Tsonga moves to Switzerland he will join a sizeable community of former and current French tennis players to settle here, including Amelie Mauresmo, Marion Bartoli, Richard Gasquet, Arnaud Clement, Fabrice Santoro and Guy Forget.

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They're Back!

The same group of stellar young men that led the USA to Davis Cup victory in 2007 will make the same effort in 2008, beginning February 8 through 10.

Led by USA Captain Patrick McEnroe, the defending champions, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, will enter the first round against Austria in Ferry Dusika Hallenstadion, Vienna.

The USA and Austria have previously met on two occasions with the Americans winning both times. Their last encounter took place in 2004 when the USA won 5-0 in a first round tie in Uncasville, Connecticut.


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WW: Is There a Kink In The King's Armour?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Technorati Tags:

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Fun Link Tag

Rule #1: Copy all the links below and replace a single link under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If your domain name, or even the title of your blog, starts with an “A,” you’d replace the link under that letter “A” and put the replaced link at the bottom. Also, don’t forget to credit the tagger, or where you got the list from, at the end of the list with a full URL of the post so that a pingback gets generated.

A acowboyswife.com

B bloggingcents.com

C Chikapappi.com

D delusionsofgrandeur.org

E everythingandanythingblog.com

F forumfinder.net

G GeekMomMashup.com

H happykeg.com

I ipentimento.com

J juliesjournal.com

K kabalyero.com

L ladylike4.com

M michaelpark.net

N nicoleb.org

O originalmx5.net

P peapodsquadstuff.com

Q qweddings.com

R rowdigrl.com

S shirleysdelight.com

T theworldaccordingtoxavier.blogspot.com

U utada-online.net

V valmg.com

W wickedbabylon.com

X xaviermedia.com

Y yimto.com

Z zbudapest.com

Replaced link: bloggingcents.com

Previous tagger: The World According To Xavier

Rule #2: You now have to “tag” at least five people and encourage them to participate. Remember, though, that not everyone’s into these kinds of things, so don’t be upset if they don’t participate. Just simply replace your tag. Remember to tag blogs only and no pornographic ones as we do want to keep the integrity as a blogging community. This is my tag:

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Meet Your Fellow Bloggers: Vanessa Asks 20 Questions

For my readers that may not know Vanessa, I want to introduce you to her and a wonderful series that she has created.

First, Vanessa is simply beautiful. She has a wonderful spirit, love of family and community, and personality to spare. All of these things just jump off of the pages of her sites.

Vanessa currently authors "On The Black Hand Side", "Vanessa: Unplugged", "Blogging Black Miami" and a couple of others. I can hardly keep one blog going!

The series that Vanessa has created is called "20 Questions With......(link)". Through this series she introduces us to the real people behind some of these wonderful blogs that we read. Vanessa honored me with the first interview( link).

Take the time to visit and read some of Vanessa's work, you'll find that it is time more than well spent.

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Didier Tsonga Talks About His "Ali"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whether being called "Big Jo", "le mome" (which translates as "the kid"), or "Ali" because of his resemblance to the former boxing champ, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is having to answer everybody. He is the hottest ticket in France with everyone still amazed at his magnificent performance ascending to the final of the 2008 Australian Open.

Yannick Noah, the last Frenchman to win a major title, described his straight-sets mauling of world No.2 Rafael Nadal as "beautiful".

Nicolas Escude, the last Frenchman to play a match of such significance at Melbourne Park, when he anchored France's 2001 Davis Cup triumph, said Tsonga had "walked on water......It is one of the most enormous things I have ever seen. He made Nadal look like a little boy with no clue."

With all that is being said, it is Didier Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried's father, who has not only a very interesting story of his own, but very endearing words for his son.

"It is somewhat odd," Didier said of the fact he wrestled his way close to ringside to see Ali fight 33 years ago and now has a son who is likened to the great champion, albeit in a very different sport.

"It's not just the physical resemblance and his physique, but it's his temperament and the way he handles himself on court, he's a showman, he likes the crowd. It's a great honour that he is compared with Ali."

Didier joked, however, any similarity is pure coincidence.

"We see the resemblance, but he has no parental link with Muhammad Ali," he said after his son's defeat.

As a 20-year-old in Congo's steamy capital Brazzaville, the lure of seeing Ali and Foreman fight for the heavyweight title of the world only a couple of kilometres across the river in Kinshasa was irresistible, so Didier crossed the Zaire River on a leaky ferry.

"Everybody was crossing the river to see the fight," Didier said. "I got very close to the ring and could see Ali."

Didier joked, however, any similarity is pure coincidence.

"We see the resemblance, but he has no parental link with Muhammad Ali," he said after his son's defeat.

Tsonga's manager, Morgan Menaham, said he was working on trying to arrange a meeting with Ali.

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Fed Cup Captain Zina Garrison Blogs

When making a team, you have to put personalities together and see how a team jells. I was also emailing (team coach) Mary Joe Fernandez and running some things by her and also letting her know kinda how it works. I asked her what she thinks. Does she think this person or that person? That is pretty much how I’ve always done it and how I learned to do it.

I have been trying to find out who to expect on the German team. We’ll find out who they put on their team when we’re putting in our nominations. I have heard from a few players, there is a possibility of sending their girls like Muller or some of their juniors. You don’t know exactly which team someone is going to send. When you’re making a team it depends on who is injured, who is healthy, who can make the trip – a lot goes into it.

I feel really good about our team's chances. I’m very excited that Lindsay Davenport has committed to a possible three matches, if we make it to the final. Her having the opportunity to play right in her backyard in Southern California is really good and I think it is her first match back in the states since the 2006 US Open. With Germany, I feel our women are still strong enough to take whoever they send over so I think our chances are pretty good but it is a team event and you never know.

At the Australian Open last week, I felt that Sharapova came out with her A-game against Lindsay. Lindsay looked good, she just looked like she hadn’t played on the big stage in awhile, which is very much true because she hasn’t. You can get a little bit tentative, a little bit nervous and it’s a matter of her getting a few more matches under her belt. It would have been nice if she had been able to play a few more matches and then play Sharapova.

I’m one of Lindsay’s biggest fans. The great thing about Lindsay is once she decides to do something, she does commit and she commits early. You don’t necessarily have that with the other players. She just happens to be one of those players who is very good with scheduling and making a commitment and going with it. She’s always a good example especially to the young guns who are coming up.

Three weeks leading into Fed Cup are the craziest weeks for me and I’m normally extremely stressed out. It’s always really funny to me because people think the job is so easy - she just goes and she coaches a few matches but actually this is the toughest time. I not only have to think about getting the players there, you’re constantly making sure that they are healthy, getting trainers, doctors, hitting partners, dealing with the media. And I would like to have a full stand for the girls to play in front of, so selling tickets and trying to be being creative and coming up with ways all around and not just be the coach.

The difference this year is this is my last year as captain. I’ve always had someone there to kind of bounce things off of. I’m not treating it any different other than I would like to come away with a win. I did joke with Mary Joe, this time next year I’ll call you and see if you’re stressed out.

I think I’ve done a great job in the previous years. I enjoy being the captain, I enjoy being around the young women, I’ve watched some of the young ones grow, watched our young guns become women and some of them have even played Fed Cup with us. And being around Lindsay, Venus and Serena Williams- it’s been really good and some of the other veterans as well. I’ve enjoyed my experience – it’s been extremely wonderful as well, as having the opportunity to touch other lives.

Second Entry

The hardcourt surface in La Jolla we are using won’t be extremely fast but it will be a nice speed. It won’t be a slow hardcourt.

A lot of times when choosing a court, you have to think about your players and what surfaces they play better on. I knew I had Lindsay and she is a great hard-court player. You also want it at a nice pace where she can get a good stroke on the ball because Lindsay hits the ball extremely deep; she has a great serve and placement and you give her one or two punches on the ball and she’s going to put you on the run. That is what I’m expecting and hoping for her to do, and that is what she has done so well. The other players are good hard court players as well, I would take our chances on hardcourt over playing on other surfaces.

I talked to Serena about playing Fed Cup, and she told me that she would not be able to make the first round. The second round looked a lot better for her. Venus had really, really tried to make it and was trying to make it work but she’s been on the road for the last five weeks. She traveled a lot, launched her new line, graduated – it was just too much. She said she was very disappointed that she could not play, she felt she was letting me down. She really wants to play Fed Cup so that is exciting. First we have to get through the first round and keep everybody healthy.

I have very strong ties as far as playing in the San Diego area. I was in La Costa and I always loved playing out there. The people there were always really nice and I have great memories. Barry Gordy used to come out and watch me all the time. One of my best life lessons that helped shape the person I became was out there. I feel like it was character-building. I had played a horrible match, I threw my racquet down and was just kind of all over the place, and after the match Barry said to me ‘Zina, you always have to be a champion on and off the court.’ From that day on, I stuck with that, I never, ever forgot that.

What he was saying was you have to carry yourself like a champion. You can’t expect to go on the court and all of a sudden have this horrible attitude and come off the court and be another person. You always are on center stage. I never forgot that.

Then I met one of my coaches, Angel Lopez, who works at the San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club and I used to go out there and spend time with Angel. He was one of the coaches that helped me understand that tennis was 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, and that I had to work on my mind just as I had to work on my tennis game. He really helped me to mature into the player I later became. I really started getting the fact that I wasn’t just a great athlete. I had to train my mind and become a great mental athlete as well – I think that was a huge attribute of my game. I mentally played you as well as physically. Tactically I was always going after you.

In Southern California people love tennis, and to bring Fed Cup out there for the first time is great. When Davis Cup was out there, there were huge supporters and I think it is great when you can get a following like that.

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USA Fed Cup Team Led By Lindsay Davenport

Former world no. 1 Lindsay Davenport will headline for the United States' Fed Cup team that will meet Germany in a quarterfinal next week in La Jolla, California. The best-of-five tie will be staged outdoors at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club from February 2-3.

U.S. Captain Zina Garrison announced that Davenport would be joined on the team by 34-year-old Lisa Raymond, 22-year-old Ashley Harkleroad and 26-year- old Laura Granville. The German team, captained by Barbara Rittner, will feature Tatjana Malek, Julia Goerges, Sabine Lisicki and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

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Tsonga, No Longer In The Shadow, Readies For Prime Time

Life is going to change fast for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who came into the Australian Open as a promising but little-known 22 year old and leaves as one of the hottest stars on the ATP circuit after reaching his first Grand Slam final. Tsonga, who will break into the Top 20 for the first time on Monday, had never before reached a final at ATP level.

Tsonga will come under immediate consideration for a singles berth in France's Davis Cup first-round tie against Romania on February 8-10. New sponsors will be beating down his door and he'll be one of the marquee players headlining center-court programs at almost every tournament he plays.

Appearing in only his fifth Grand Slam championship, the 22-year-old knocked out No. 9 seed Andy Murray in the first round, No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet in the fourth round and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in the semifinals before losing a four-set slugfest against Novak Djokovic in the final.

One year ago Tsonga was ranked World No. 212, having lost to Andy Roddick in the Australian Open first round. On Monday he will rise to No. 18 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings to become the second highest-ranked Frenchman behind Gasquet.

A New Star is Born: Fairytale Run to Final

After an illustrious junior career that included winning the 2003 US Open junior title – in a year he finished the No. 2 junior in the world – his progress up the South African Airways ATP Rankings and onto the ATP circuit was hampered by a variety injuries.

Tsonga made his ATP-level debut in tandem with Gasquet at Roland Garros in May 2002, but it wasn’t until September 2004 in Beijing that he took his singles bow and recorded his maiden victory over Hyung-Taik Lee before falling to former World No. 1 Carlos Moya in the second round.

At ATP Masters Series Paris two months later, he hit a 144mph serve – the third fastest on the circuit that year – and highlighted his speed around the court by upsetting Mario Ancic 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 before falling to Guillermo Canas.

A herniated disc injury kept him out of action between November 2004 and March 2005, followed by two injuries to his right shoulder. Between October 2005 and February 2006, Tsonga was again sidelined by back and abdominal problems.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Last year Tsonga won four of five Challenger tournaments he contested between April and June. On the same weekend that he won the fourth of the Challenger titles in Surbiton (d. Karlovic in the final), Tsonga also played qualifying at Queen's Club, where he won three matches to make the main draw. En route to the third round Tsonga took out four-time tournament winner and former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt. Match Report

For his performances Tsonga was awarded a Wimbledon wild card and the Le Mans-born player didn’t disappoint as he reached the fourth round (l. to Gasquet). A third round showing at the US Open (l. to Nadal) was followed by a quarterfinal exit in Metz (l. to Murray) and a semifinal performance in Lyon (l. to Grosjean) during the indoor season.

In his first tournament of the 2008 ATP season, Tsonga beat Hewitt again en route to the Adelaide semifinals (l. to Nieminen). The following week he partnered Gasquet to the Sydney doubles crown (d. Bryan-Bryan), which represented his second piece of ATP silverware after Lyon a few months earlier (w/Grosjean).

Tsonga was attempting to become the first Frenchman to win the Australian championships since Jean Borotra in 1928. Yannick Noah, at Roland Garros in 1983, is the only Frenchman to have won a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era

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Serena Williams Out In Hollywood This Weekend

Sunday, January 27, 2008

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga With Australian Open Finalist Trophy And Post Match Interview

Q. What are your thoughts after the match? What are you thinking?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Lot of things. I'm very proud of myself. I'm happy for Novak, because he played unbelievable today. I don't know if I have to be sad or happy of this final, but I feel great.

Q. What was your feeling coming in? Were you nervous at the start of today's match?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, no, no. I was okay. Like every day. Very relaxed. I don't know what say. I think Novak played very good today, and it was tough.

When you have a match, you have one player and one opponent, and you don't know who's gonna win. At the end, all the time you have a winner. So today was Novak.

Q. Now that you've been in the final, how hungry are you to be back in a final again?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: It's just unbelievable because the crowd was unbelievable. A lot of noise and everything. I had frisson (goosebumps). It was crazy (smiling).

Q. You seemed quite happy about the amount of time he was playing between points. You mentioned it to the umpire. Do you think it's fair the gap between points?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, sometimes, you know, when you have to return, you are like this (ready). When your opponent take a lot of time, you go for be ready, and after not, and you are like this (back and forth). When he serves, you are not ready because you are like this (back and forth).

It's very difficult. Between points you have like 25 seconds for play. When it's 40 seconds, the umpire have to say something, you know.

Q. How does it feel to be in the top 20?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Pretty good (smiling).

Q. Does this give you the confidence now to maybe break into the top 10?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, of course, of course. Not everybody can beat player who I beat. So I know Richard or Youzhny or Rafael, they are very good player. And beat them, it's very difficult, and I did it, so...

Of course, I'm confident now.

Q. How good was it having your mom and dad fly over for the match?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: For me it was very important, because one of the dream of my father, it was to come here, and I did it, so it's good.

Q. It was a dream for him to come here to see you play?


Q. How long has he been speaking about that?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Since a long time. I don't know. I cannot say the time. Maybe since I play tennis

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Tsonga's Australian Reign Brought To An End

It's been a dream ride for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but he had to wake up at some point, and tonight's final was it. Tsonga was defeated by world no. 3 Serbian Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).

With his father Didier and mother Evenlyne looking endearingly on, Tsonga came out strong in the first set, won it, and looked as if he was ready to take this tournament on to the finish line. In sets two, three and four, Tsonga had bursts of that blazing speed and produced some of those amazing shots, but you could see that he was fatigued and a bit rattled by that incessant ball bouncing of Djokovic's. He complained to the umpire several times, but to no avail.

The electricity that preceded this final had a lot more voltage, and with good reason. Both of these young men have fought long and hard to reach this point and they have taken a lot of wear and tear. Djokovic took an injury timeout and received treatment. Regardless, they continued to put as much into this final as they had left to give, and it was worth seeing.

In accepting his trophy Tsonga apologized for his English and said "I am sorry for my English, I think I play better than my English." Tsonga also thanked Djokovic and said "for me it was a good moment." He ended speaking to the fans, and to a rousing applause, "and the last one is you, thank you very much. See you next year."

The Australian Open comes to an end and the dream run of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at this grand slam is over. At the same time, it is only the beginning of the 2008 tennis season, which means that we will be seeing a lot more of the magnificent Tsonga.

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Want To Discuss The AO Final While It's Happening?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I will be online at 3:30 a.m. throughout the Tsonga vs Djokovic final. If you're going to stay up and watch the match live, grab your coffee and meet me online. Just click on the comments and join in. Don't get the good info second hand!

UPDATE: The match between Tsonga and Djokovic was wonderful, but it was greatly heightened by the company of Blogpassion, FyreStarrter, and FeFe. These friends joined me for the final and we had a great time. I know that it was late, buy you all hung in there, thank you very much friends!!

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Tsonga Vs. Djokovic: A Rendezvous With Destiny

At 3:30 a.m. eastern time Sunday on ESPN2 (rebroadcast at noon), we should see one of the best tennis grand slam finals that has ever been broadcast. Both players, world no. 38 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and world no. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia earned the right to stand on the surface of Rod Laver arena in this 2008 Australian Open Final. What an incredible match this will be.

Here is the transcript of Tsonga's pre-final interview*:

Q. Have you gotten Nadal out of your mind by this time and moved on mentally?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I think at the final, yeah. It's finished now.

Q. Did you watch last evening?


Q. Did you watch the whole match or just a little bit?


Q. What are your thoughts on Djokovic being there tomorrow against you?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: I don't know. He won yesterday. He played well. It's never easy to beat Federer. We will play tomorrow at the final, and it's going to be a big moment of sports.

Q. What are the main differences between facing Nadal and facing Djokovic?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: It's the same, no? It's the same, because Nadal is 2 in the world and Djokovic 3, so both of them won a lot of tournaments and they have more experience than me.

I know it's going to be difficult, but I'm here and ready for that.

Q. Do you feel any differently now than you did before the first round playing Andy Murray? Are your nerves any different? Is your concentration any different? Is your composure any different?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No. I try to keep the same way. I try to approach this match like the other one.

Q. Have you had much of a chance to see any of Melbourne or do any sightseeing? What's your opinion of Melbourne?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: My opinion of Melbourne? It's a nice city. I feel great here. I have a lot of good things in my head here. I'm happy to be here.

Q. Have your parents arrived yet?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: They arrive Sunday at the morning, tomorrow morning.

Q. Can we go back to that week at Surbiton just before Queens which your coach says was such a big changing week for you when you had to play the challenger tournament and get across and play qualifying as well. What do you remember about that week?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: About this week?

Q. No, at Surbiton.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: When I played the challengers?

Q. Yeah.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: It was not very different. It's all ‑‑ it's you. You're here, and when I played challenger it was not. So there is no difference play a final in challenger or here for me. I try to be the same.

Q. But that same week was the big week of Roland Garros and you were in a different country at a small little tournament. What did you feel like? Were you determined to maybe next year at the same time be at Roland Garros rather than Surbiton?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yes, it was special for me, because of course Roland Garros is big event for me and for all French guys.

I was sad to ‑‑ of this situation. But now I'm here and maybe I will be seeded this year, so it was a good choice for me.

Q. It's Australia Day today. Do you plan to do anything typically Australian: Have a beer, go to a barbeque?


Q. Since your semifinal win how have you stayed relaxed and stayed calm?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Just stay in my room at the hotel, practice, and that's it.

Q. You try not to think about all the media and the different things that people want from you now that you've reached the final?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, no, I don't think about it. It's normal. You have to write on me, and I know my life so I don't have to read it in the paper.

Q. What movies do you watch or music do you listen to to relax in your hotel?


Q. What in particular?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Everything. I won't say something in particular.

Q. You seemed to enjoy the atmosphere the other night in the semifinal. Does a big crowd help your game a lot?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah. It help me because I like that and I'm good ‑‑ I feel good in this atmosphere.

Yeah, it does for me.

Q. Do you find it surprising how much the crowd got behind you the other night in the match?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Not really, because all match before the people was clapping for me. So, no, I was not surprised.

Q. And it helps you improve your game, to take it to another level, playing in front of such a...


Q. Do you feel that your life has changed in this last fortnight, the expectation on you and what you have achieved?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yes, of course, a little bit. It's not a chance for everyone to be in final at the Australian Open, so of course it change a little bit.

But me, I try to stay the same person.

Q. Do you have any sense of how France is reacting? I understand that in Belgrade they're going crazy. Are you getting any feedback that the French public are really into what's happening here?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, of course, of course. I'm just proud of that.

Q. Why have you played so well this tournament?


Q. Yeah, why? Clearly this is your best tournament. What's been the secret?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: I don't know. Because maybe I don't want to play bad.

Q. What happened last year?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Last year was different. It was a different year. It was my first year on the tour. This year's my second and I have more experience and, yeah, so I play better.

Q. Your nickname is Ali, and people liken you in looks to him. Have you ever watched any videos of his fights or have you watched any movies about him? Is it an ambition of yours maybe to meet him?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, of course, I watch some DVDs. My father was at the fight at Kinshasa because he's from Brazzaville. He took some photos, so I have some souvenir.

Q. So he's been an inspiration to you since you were a child?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, no, no. Maybe more now than when I was child.

Q. Can you believe you've made the final of a Grand Slam so quickly in just your second year on the tour?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, I not believe it, but I'm here and I have to do it.

Q. What do you have to do to win tomorrow night?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Just play ‑‑ just do my best, and that's it. I will see what's happened on the court, but I will do my best. If I win, that's unbelievable. And if I lose, I did my best, so no problem.

Q. Sorry to get back on Muhammad Ali. But say in your words why Ali is an inspiration to you now.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Maybe his personality on the court. Maybe I think I have the same tennis as his box.

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Tsonga Into Final In Australia, What A Match!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

As if he had done it a hundred times before, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga walked into Rod Laver arena and pummeled Spaniard Rafael Nadal into submission to win the 2008
Australian Open semifinal 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

After sprinting to the back of his side of the tennis court subsequent to the coin toss, nothing else looked familiar to Nadal. As opposed to running his opponent's tongue out with the left-handed spin he usually puts on the ball, Nadal was the one chasing blazing shots from the other side of the court.

France's latest delicacy commanded last night's semifinal match with the prowess and calm of a seasoned veteran. The difference is that this is the first time Tsonga has ever played this deep into a grand slam event. The 22-year old world no. 38, which he obviously won't be after this event, came into Australia totally under the radar and took out experienced opponents round after round after round. And today, he awaits the winner of the Roger Federer Novak Djokovic semifinal match to set up the final.

"It's unbelievable, three sets, it's just amazing," Tsonga said.

"I don't know what to say. Today I played unbelievable, and nothing can stop me and I am just happy.

"It's like a dream. Every day, this like a dream. I can't believe it's true, just amazing."

At this point I just want to see what he will do in the final. He has totally dismantled each and every opponent to date. Could Roger Federer be looking at destiny? Could Djokovic? We'll find out in a few days, I'll be on pins and needles waiting.

Lions and Tigers and Tsonga, Oh My!

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Jeff Coetzee Knocked Out Of Australian Open Doubles

South Africa's Jeff Coetzee and his compatriot doubles partner Wesley Moodie were knocked out of the doubles semifinal by the French team of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra. The score was 6-3, 7-6(11/9).

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Blake Puts Up A Fight, But Federer Gets The Knockout

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Well folks, it is done. American James Blake has had his eighth shellacking by Swede Roger Federer and must try again to get to the top of a grand-slam tournament. Federer defeated Blake 7-5, 7-6(7/5), 6-4.

It wasn't ugly though, Blake did what few are able to do, he pushed Federer hard throughout the match. Federer has been pushed before during the Australian Open, and nearly toppled by Serbian Janko Tipsaravic. But only the elite few have had the ability to bring the man of steel down.

"He seems like one of the guys in the locker room," Blake said. "Then you go out there, he beats you. You come back in the locker room and he's one of the guys."

"Playing against James, it's always great fun," said Federer, dressed in all-black again for a night match. "He's dangerous when he's even behind in the game. He made some incredible shots."

I really like Roger Federer and honestly want to see how far he can ride this bullet train. At the same time, when someone like James Blake is having such a great tournament, I really wanted to see him at the finish.

"I really went in thinking I had a good chance to win," Blake said. "I thought I played pretty well. But he came up with some of his best at the right times, and that was the difference."

Ah, c'est la vie!

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Venus Williams Follows Baby Sis Out Of The 2008 Australian Open

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What the French Toast was that?! American Venus Williams and Serbian Ana Ivanovic put on one of the worst grand-slam tournament matches I've ever seen in my life! I felt like I was moving in slow motion. It was terrible. By the time that match was over I didn't care who won, just make it stop....please!

There is a reality to it and that reality is, after a total of nine double faults, 69 unforced errors and nine breaks of serve, Ana Ivanovic "won" the match, "defeating" Venus 7-6(7/3), 6/4.

Good Grief! Skee Stylus, I'll gladly take the hit for this call.

"I have to give a lot of credit to her," Williams said. "She played really well, made a lot of good shots. She's definitely improved on everything in her game. That's really what it takes at this level. You want to keep improving and playing, because we're all improving."

"And I think Serena and I, we don't have anything to prove. We get out there and we play our best ... I don't get too caught up in what the next person thinks."

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Highlights Of The Tsonga, Youzhny Quarterfinal Match

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Serena Williams Gives Explanation of Australian Open Quarterfinal Performance

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Into Australian Open Semis!!

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has just BLOWN by everybody and is sitting pretty in his first career grand-slam semifinal.....YAY!!!

Tsonga is playing effortlessly and looking better in his matches than most of the seeds that I've seen, some of which have already gone home.

Even though Tsonga has been playing well and had made it to the quarterfinals, none of the commentators would give him any kind of edge over Russian Mikhail Youhzny, but it has come to pass. Tsonga defeated Youzhny in straight sets 7-5, 6-0, 7-6.

I am just so thrilled for him. His reward for making it to the semifinals? Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

Welcome to the bigs Tsonga!

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Posted by Shelia
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AO Update: Serena Williams Knocked Out Of Quarterfinals; Venus and Serena Lose In Third Round of Doubles

Monday, January 21, 2008

Defending champion American Serena Williams simply could not pull her game together sufficient to move into the semifinals today. She looked tired and lackadaisical throughout the entire match. Serena appeared to try to modify and control her game to fit whatever may have been ailing her, but it did not work. That big booming serve of Serena's couldn't even save her today.

At one point both ladies were receiving medical treatment.

Serbian Jelena Jankovic, who had all kinds of issues in her initial match, played just well enough, and benefited greatly from Serena's errors, to pull out the win and move into the semis. Serena was defeated 6-3, 6-4.

In the post match interview Serena said, "I'm not going to sit here and make excuses, I lost because Jelena played better than me and I made too many errors..... I think regardless, the match was on my racquet, and I gave it away.

"I didn't move the way I traditionally want to move, and I wasn't feeling 100 percent. But as an athlete you know not every day you're going to feel 100 percent, and some days you have to win feeling 30 percent."

Sorry to See Serena go, hope all is well.

And the day just went down hill from there. Serena went ahead and joined big sister Venus in their third round doubles match. It too went the way of Serena's singles match. Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China defeated the sisters 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Man, what a let down. Just a day ago both sisters were riding high, winning matches and all was well with the tennis universe. What a difference a day makes.

I certainly hope whatever ails Serena does not attach itself to Venus.

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Manic Monday: "Date"

On this date, we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also on this date, we see the continued vibrations of Dr. King's work in the fact that with James Blake and Venus Williams winning their matches last night, their are four, that's right count 'em...four Black players in the quarterfinals of a tennis grand-slam. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Serena Williams, James Blake, and Venus Williams. Way To Go!!

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Posted by Shelia

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AO Update: Venus Williams and James Blake Ease Their Way Into The Quarterfinals

Tonight both Americans Venus Williams and James Blake won their round of 16 matches and are firmly seated in the quarterfinals.

First up was Venus Williams playing Polish player Marta Domachowska. Domachowska came out firing on all cylinders and quickly broke Venus' serve. Venus adjusted her game as necessary and won the first set. In the second set Domachowska's game began to slowly unravel and Venus just kept forging ahead eventually beating Domachowska in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.

Next up for Venus, Serbian Ana Ivanovic.

Up next, James Blake opposite Marin Cilic of Croatia. Cilic did what he could, but the match was all Blake all the time. Blake has been playing so well with such confidence and ease that his matches are almost boring. Blake defeated Cilic 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Keep it up James, bore us clear to the final!

Next up for James, world no. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland.

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Posted by Shelia
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