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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Serena Williams, left, pulls New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's jersey out of a box, before putting it back, while making a Super Bowl prediction during a Fed Cup tennis news conference in Worcester, Mass., Tuesday Jan. 31, 2012. Williams, who is part of the Fed Cup team competing against Belarus this weekend in Worcester, decided to pick the New York Giants. At right is US captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

Members of the US Fed Cup team pose with jerseys as they make each make a Super Bowl prediction during a news conference in Worcester, Mass., Tuesday Jan. 31, 2012. From left to right is Christina McHale (New York Giants), Serena Williams (New York Giants), Mary Joe Fernandez (New York Giants) and Liezel Huber (new England Patriots)     

source: AP

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2012 OPEN SUD DE FRANCE: Frenchman Gael Monfils In Montpellier This Week To Defend 2010 Title

Monday, January 30, 2012

Frenchman Gael Monfils with 2010 Open Sud de France Trophy

Frenchman Gael Monfils won the Open Sud de France in its inaugural year in Montpellier. The World No. 15 defeated Ivan Ljubicic in the 2010 final, and returns bidding to win his fifth ATP World Tour title.
Montpellier Targets New Date In 2012

Montpellier, one of the fastest-growing cities in France over the past 25 years, hosted its first ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in late October of 2010. The indoor hard court event, which had relocated from Lyon, will now be played from 30 January in 2012 in a multi-purpose venue called the ARENA, which has a total capacity of 14,000 and seating for 7,500 during the tournament.

source:  atpworldtour.com

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2012 FED CUP TEAM: Venus And Serena To Join Team For February Belarus Meeting

2007 USA Fed Cup Team (l-r) Vania King, Lisa Raymond, Venus Williams, Serena Williams

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Venus Williams will return from illness and her sister, Serena, will play Fed Cup for the first time in nearly five years after being selected to the U.S. team to meet Belarus in a Feb. 4-5 World Group II match at Worcester, Mass.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced the team, also containing Christina McHale and Liezel Huber, late Tuesday.

"I am looking forward to having Serena and Venus on the team for the first time since I became U.S. Fed Cup captain," Fernandez said. "They bring so much to this team, not only for what they can do on court, but the influence they will have on Christina and the rest of the team."

It will be Venus Williams' first appearance in a sanctioned competition since the U.S. Open, when she revealed she had Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.

Serena Williams, who lost in the fourth round at the Australian Open, has not played Fed Cup since 2007.

The 19-year-old McHale, ranked a career-high No. 42, will be making her second consecutive appearance and third overall for the American team. Her highlights last year included a win over No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki at Cincinnati and a run to the third round of the U.S. Open.

South African-born Huber, 35, has won six of her eight career matches for the U.S. Fed Cup team.

The winner of the Worcester match will advance to the World Group playoff and a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2013.

Victoria Azarenka, who is expected to lead the Belarus team, will face defending champion Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday.

"Victoria is playing the best tennis I have seen from her, so we are excited to be facing Belarus in our first match in the United States in two years," Fernandez said.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
Photo by Getty Images

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(PHOTOS) 2012 Australian Open Junior Girl's Doubles Winners Taylor Townsend And Gabrielle Andrews

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Australian Open Junior Girl's Doubles Champions, 15-year-old (l)Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Georgia and 15-year-old (r)Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, California. They defeated Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

source: australianopen.org

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THE FIRST TIME'S A CHARM: 15-Year-Old American Taylor Townsend Takes 2012 Australian Open Junior Girl's Singles And Doubles Titles

Saturday, January 28, 2012

15-year-old American Taylor Townsend takes 2012 Australian Open Junior Girl's Singles and Doubles Titles

It’s not often you get to drop to the ground on Rod Laver Arena and shed tears of joy. It’s one of those once in a lifetime opportunities.

But after 117 minutes in scorching heat on Rod Laver Arena, American Taylor Townsend shed those tears after becoming the 2012 junior Australian Open champion.

Townsend, just 15 years old, put a poor second set behind her to come away a 6-1 3-6 6-3 winner over fiery Russian Yulia Putintseva.

17-year-old Putintseva was clearly devastated by the loss and took her frustration out on her racquet, returning to her chair with a tangled frame and frazzled strings.

She also offered no words during the post-match presentation.

It has been a remarkable tournament for the 14th-seeded Townsend, who took home not only the girls’ singles title but also the girls’ doubles title in her first visit to Melbourne Park.

“It’s really exciting. I mean, it's a dream come true for me,” Townsend said.

“A lot of people were supporting me, and my family and everything are just so proud. It was just a proud moment for me and ... the feelings kind of rushed in.”

Townsend remained the more level-headed player throughout the match, a stark contrast to her feisty – and often vocal – opponent who was not afraid to express her emotions.

“I just kinda tried to focus on myself and just make sure [I] just keep playing one point at a time. That's what I kept telling myself: one point at a time, one point at a time.”

Putintseva trains at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Paris under the watchful eye of former world No.1 Martina Hingis, who joined the academy in 2011.

It was a dream start for the American who raced to a 3-0 lead registering seven winners from her first 12 points won.

Townsend’s mix of powerful groundstrokes from the baseline coupled with pressure created from pushing forward to the net proved too much for Putintseva.

Townsend said her constant willingness to approach the net was all part of an effort for the American to stick to the game she is most comfortable with.

“My expectation was to just go out and play my game and play within myself every match and not really [conform] to the game styles of these other girls by playing at the baseline but, you know, moving forward and being aggressive, how I play.”

Putintseva finally got off the board after holding serve at 3-1 but it was a short-lived spell, as Townsend surged through 12 of the next 15 points to take the opener 6-1.

But the 17-year-old Russian wasn’t about to lie down.

Putintseva stormed through the opening games of the second set and raced to a 4-0 lead, offering herself plenty of verbal encouragement with fist-pumps and comments to her box.

Townsend’s once-flawless play from the baseline started to crumble with shots spraying wide or into the net, and it was the fourth seed’s turn to dictate the play and crunch winners.

Putintseva closed out the second set 6-3.

The deciding set began tightly, but at four-three up and on serve, the American claimed a crucial break of serve and never looked back, closing out the decider 6-3.

And so, after a junior Grand Slam singles and doubles title under her belt, young Townsend said she discovered a lot about herself in the past week.

“Well, I've learned that ... if you just compete and work really hard, anything is possible,” she said.

“You know, the family support and the support of people that are around you is key.”

But that’s not all she’s discovered.

“I also learned that I need to keep myself calm on the court, because that's when I play the best,” she offered with a laugh.

source: australianopen.org
Photo by: Ben Solomon/ Tennis Australia

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AO 2012: James Blake Among Withdrawals, Cites "Personal Reasons"

Friday, January 13, 2012

In December, former world No.4 American James Blake, who is now ranked 59th, cited personal reasons for his withdrawal.

He will be replaced by Ricardo Mello of Brazil in the draw for the Brisbane tournament, which starts on Sunday and is a key lead-up event for the Australian Open starting on January 16.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was sorry to hear of Blake's withdrawal and wished him "all the best''.

The 31-year-old's absence struck a chord with Tiley, who coached the University of Illinois men's tennis team from 1993 to 2005.

The pair crossed paths often during that period, with Blake playing two seasons at Harvard from 1998-99 during which time he was the No.1 collegiate player in the United States.

"He's a great competitor and I've been involved with James' tennis for over 15 years,'' Tiley recalled.

"I coached against him and I've known him for a long time. He's always fun to have around. It's disappointing not to have him at the Australian Open.''

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AO 2012: (PHOTOS) Tsonga And Djokovic Practicing On Rod Laver Arena

Source: australianopen.org
Photos ©Ben Solomon

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AO 2012: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga "In A Pretty Good Shape"

A morning of inclement Melbourne weather couldn’t dampen the mood of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he took to the Yarra River on Friday.

Despite overcast skies and blustery winds, the smiling Frenchman looked right at home while checking out the city sights from the bow of one of the city’s many water taxis.

“I like [to] spend a lot of time on water, I like [to] swim, I like fishing also,” he said.

“I like [the] people here, I like [the] weather, Even if today, you know, it’s not really good. Usually it’s pretty warm and I like that.”

A crowd favourite at Melbourne Park for his cool demeanour and free-wheeling style, Tsonga is about to enter his fifth Australian Open.

However, the sixth-seed faces a tough initiation to the 2012 tournament with an opening round clash against the 67th-ranked Denis Istomin.

Even though he holds a 2-0 career record over the Uzbekistani, Tsonga expects the first round battle with an in-form Istomin – who has reached the quarterfinals at Brisbane and the semifinals at Sydney this season – to be far from easy. “He’s playing well for the moment. It’s going to be a tough first round but, you know, I’m in a pretty good shape,” Tsonga said.

That “pretty good shape” has already seen him net a 2012 ATP title in Doha, courtesy of a 7-5 6-3 win over countryman Gael Monfils in the final.

Tsonga, nicknamed Ali for his resemblance to the legendary boxing icon Muhammed Ali, will be hoping to pack a similar punch when the Australian Open begins on January 16. His aim will be to go one win better than his previous best result, which occurred in 2008 when he reached the final before falling to current world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

“I feel great, I’ve had some great moments [at the Australian Open] in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,” he recalled.

“[I] hope I will play a good tournament.

When he’s not lining up his trademark forehand drive on court, Tsonga plans to use his down-time to check out some of the many restaurants scattered throughout Melbourne’s CBD.

“Sometimes at night I go out for dinner…on the river, on Chapel Street.”

And when asked about what he liked to do most outside of tennis – the likeable Tsonga revealed a simple, but perhaps not surprising, answer.

“I like to laugh, I like to laugh a lot. I think for me it’s the best medicine,” he grinned.

Heading in to the first major of the year, a relaxed, care-free and well-fed Tsonga can only bode well for his aspirations of winning a Grand Slam tournament.

Source:  australianopen.org

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Venus Williams Not Quite Ready For 2012 - Withdraws From Australian Open

Monday, January 9, 2012

As per her official website, American Venus Williams made this statement:

"I regret to announce that I am withdrawing from the 2012 Australian Open. After several months of training and treatment, I am making steady progress to top competitive form. My diet and fitness regimen have allowed me to make great strides in terms of my health and I am very close to being ready to return to WTA competition. I have every intention to return to the circuit in February."

In August of 2011 Venus disclosed that she had been diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands causing low energy levels and joint pain among other symptoms.

Sounds like she's controlling the disease and not letting it control her - true champion style. 

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