2009 Australian Open Tennis WTA Singles Results     Serena Williams, Champion

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  WTA Jan 19-Feb 1: Australian Open

Australian Open, Melbourne, AUS
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128 players - outdoor: hard plexicushion
AUD$23,140,000, 50%/50% WTA/ATP
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# 1 J Jankovic, # 2 S Williams
# 3 D Safina, # 4 E Dementieva
# 5 A Ivanovic, # 6 V Williams
# 7 V Zvonareva, # 8 S Kuznetsova
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Melbourne:
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#2 Serena Williams
5' 9" 135lb RH 2H-BH
Melbourne:
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#3 Dinara Safina
5' 11˝" 154˝lb RH 2H-BH
Melbourne:
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10th Grand Slam Singles Title
33rd WTA Singles Title

photo: Aussie Margaret Smith Court won 62 Grand Slam titles during her career, 24 of them in singles, including 11 Australian national titles.
      With all Odds: On Thursday in Melbourne, in the final of the 2009 Australian Open, the 2003,' 05 & '07 Australian Open champ (and 2008 US Open champion), 27-year-old 2nd-seeded # 2 Serena Williams from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, won again, defeating the 2008 French Open finalist, 22-year-old 3rd-seeded # 3 Dinara Safina of Russia (residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco), 6-0, 6-3 (both players are shown during the match, and Serena with the hardware after).

    It was Serena's 10th Grand Slam tourney singles title. With her sister Venus, she had won the AO doubles title the day before.

    Serena played by far her best match of the tourney, hitting 23 winners (including 4 aces) with only 7 unforced errors (and no double faults). Dinara struck 14 winners (3 aces) with 21 errors (5 DFs). Serena also increased her service speeds in the final, firing her fastest serve of the tourney at 190 kph (118 mph), and averaging 171 kph (106 mph) on 1st serves and 145 kph (90 mph) on 2nd serves (the fastest serve of the entire tourney remains 196 kph—123 mph—by Sabine Lisicki). match stats
    WTA story - BBC game-by-game - AO match report - BBC story

    Serena's prize is AUD$2,000,000 (about $1,400,000 US), Dinara's is AUD$1,000,000 (about $700,000 US). The 2000 ranking points Serena earned will put her back at # 1 in the WTA singles rankings on Monday.

    Serena said: "I definitely think it was definitely one of my most dominant performances, especially considering it was a final. I was able to just lift the level of my game in the final... I felt like I was in control from the third game. I felt like I was in control from my serve. I always try to hold serve when I start out. When [Dinara] lost serve in her opening game after having a few chances to hold, I got a little more confident off that a lot...

    "I thought she was really doing pretty good, hanging in there. She never gives up. That's one thing. I mean, she's always fighting till the last point." postmatch interview

    Dinara said: "I would say [Serena] was much more experienced than I was today stepping on the court... After every loss you just have to take things, what was wrong. And now it's gonna be back to training and just do it better...
    "She played exactly the way she had to play, and she was much more aggressive, and she just was taking time out of me, so I didn't have that much time to put back myself onto the court. She didn't even let me to come into the match." postmatch interview

    Serena is now 33-12 in WTA singles finals (ten of her titles were in Grand Slam tourneys); she won the US Open last year, and also won titles at Charleston, Bangalore & Miami. Serena had a 44-8 match record in 2008, and is 10-1 in 2009.
    Dinara is now 9-9 in WTA singles finals; she won titles last year in Tokyo (Pan Pacific), Montreal, LA and Berlin, and reached the French Open final, where she lost to Ana Ivanovic. Dinara had a 55-20 match record in 2008, and is 10-2 this year.

    Men's Final: s1 Rafael Nadal ESP d s2 Roger Federer SUI 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2

AO player's blog by Marion Bartoli

    2009 Australian Open prize money amounts listed below were obtained from the ATP website (where they are listed in Australian dollars, although it doesn't say so there), except for the champion and runner-up amounts. Tennis Australia announced on January 11, 2009 that due to the falling Australian dollar, they were increasing the planned amounts for the four singles finalists—and nobody else.
    Amounts listed below are converted to US dollars at the January 11 exchange rate.

    The news.quickfound.net Australia page carries a 155-year-old New York Times article with a fairly detailed description of Melbourne in 1853.
 

  Major Skirmishes, Top Half

italics = advanced by upset
4th Round:
# 17 Marion Bartoli d #1 Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-4
# 3 Dinara Safina d # 16 Alize Cornet 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
# 7 Vera Zvonareva d # 11 Nadia Petrova 7-5, 6-4
# 187 Jelena Dokic d # 32 Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 5-7, 8-6

Quarterfinals:
# 3 Dinara Safina d # 187 Jelena Dokic # 7 Vera Zvonareva d # 17 Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-0

Semifinal:
# 3 Dinara Safina d # 7 Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 7-6(4)

  Major Skirmishes, Bottom Half

italics = advanced by upset
4th Round:
# 2 S Williams d # 14 V Azarenka 3-6, 4-2 retired—illness
# 4 Elena Dementieva d # 19 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2
# 8 S Kuznetsova d # 24 J Zheng 4-1 retired—hand injury
# 44 C Suarez Navarro d # 21 A Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-2

Quarterfinals:
# 2 Serena Williams d # 8 S Kuznetsova 5-7, 7-5, 6-1
# 4 Elena Dementieva d # 44 C Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2

Semifinal:
# 2 Serena Williams d # 4 Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4

WTA SCOREBOARD: The Australian Open at Melbourne
The Wimbledon Centre Court scoreboard at match point during the 1977 ladies singles semifinal as Virginia Wade defeated Chris Evert, and advanced to defeat Betty Stove in the final, becoming the last British woman to win the singles title at Wimbledon-- a portion of a photo from Virginia's book Courting Triumph, click for book excerpts
s=seed, #=rank, *=upset, LL=lucky loser
ranks are for the previous week
How do players get into the "draw"?

Australian Open,  Melbourne, Australia

 
tourney time:
       = GMT +11 hours
       = US EDT +16 hours
       = US PDT +19 hours

Australia News


    The Australian Open has 32 seeds, with no 1st-round byes.
    There are 12 qualifiers and 8 wild cards in the main draw. Qualifying finals are on Saturday.
 

Melbourne Park   click for broader view venue: guide - maps
Latitude: -37.821497 Longitude: 144.978772 goto link for World Wind

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2009: 2003, 2005 & 2007 Australian Open champ Serena Williams met the press in Melbourne on Saturday, January 17, as did Wimbledon champ Venus Williams, 38-year-old qualifier (and former WTA # 4) Kimiko Date Krumm, 2008 AO finalist (and French Open champ) Ana Ivanovic, and # 1 Jelena Jankovic...
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2009: Jelena is shown practicing in Melbourne on Thursday, Ana on Friday, and players photograped practicing on Saturday
included Venus, Dinara Safina, row 2: Nathalie Dechy, Sofia Arvidsson, Dominika Cibulkova, Marion Bartoli, and Patty Schnyder...
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2009: Pretties at the players' ball on Sunday included Marija Mirkovic & Jessica Moore, and Isabella Holland... Caroline Wozniacki donned headgear for a motorcycle ride at Albert Park on Tuesday... On Thursday, Jan 22nd, Alize Cornet turned 19... row 2: On Tuesday, Jan 27, Elena Dementieva made friends with wombats and 'roos at the Melbourne Zoo...
Australian Open, 1st Rd, Mon-Tue 11am
loser: AUD$19,400 = $13,565 US, 5 points

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Aussie fans at opening day demonstrated that not all the pretty girls were on the courts

#1 s1 Jelena Jankovic SRB d #104 Yvonne Meusburger AUT 6-1, 6-3 Mon

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Jelena driving a forehand, and Yvonne congratulating Jelena after match point

    Jelena, who has apparently fully recovered from the stomach flu that troubled her two weeks ago in Hong Kong, is now wearing new attire by the Chinese company ANTA, with whom she signed a contract on Monday.

    Jelena said: "I played well in the first set. A little bit slowed down, lost my concentration, in the second. But it's all right. It comes with playing matches, you know, getting the routine and the whole rhythm out there...
    "I feel fit and ready to play. Conditions are quite tough out there. It's very warm. One problem that I had was my feet were burning. The soles of my shoes got so hot. Probably you have seen in the changeovers I was putting my feet on ice, you know, kind of trying to cool it down." postmatch interview

#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #123 wc Meng Yuan CHN 6-3, 6-2 Tue

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Serena following a backhand, Meng's forehand drive, and Serena driving another backhand

    Serena said: "It was a little hot for me today. But I was able to take my time and play a lot slower, not giving 1000%... It was more of a dry heat. It wasn't so much humidity out there... But it was definitely extreme conditions... I think I hit some pretty solid shots. Sometimes I even went for some shots just to try something different." postmatch interview

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #71 Alla Kudryavtseva RUS 6-3, 6-4 Mon

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Dinara driving a backhand

#4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS d #87 Kristina Barrois GER 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-1 Tue

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Elena serving, and fielding a forehand; she says the thigh wrap is not for an injury, but "just a prevention"

    Elena won the Auckland and Sydney titles, and is now 11-0 for the year.

    Elena said: "I think it was very tough match, you know, especially because of the weather condition today. And also it was not easy for me, you know, to come here after playing so many matches in a row...
    I think [Kristina] played really well, had nothing to lose, really going for the shot, making some winners and great serve." postmatch interview

#5 s5 Ana Ivanovic SRB d #106 Julia Goerges GER 7-5, 6-3 Mon

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Julie driving a forehand, and Ana's backhand drive

    Ana fired two aces to finish the 1st set tiebreaker.

    Ana said: "I'm very pleased to have a victory, obviously. In the beginning, I took some time to adjust to rhythm and everything, to slowly get into match, because I never played against [Julie] before. Actually never seen her play. And she's very young, talented girl. She was hitting the ball very well.
    "It took me some time to adjust to that in the beginning, but I'm very happy that I took opportunities I had. It was very, very close first set. In the second set, it was lot of games with deuce and advantage. But very happy to keep my composure in important moments." postmatch interview

#6 s6 Venus Williams USA d #99 Angelique Kerber GER 6-3, 6-3 Tue

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Venus driving a forehand, Angelique's backhand, and Venus fielding another forehand

    Venus said: "I think [Angelique] played well. She's left-handed and I think she used that to her advantage. She definitely started to play really well. I was really happy to be able to be out there and hit a lot of balls and find a rhythm and advance." postmatch interview

#7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS d #57 Magdalena Rybarikova SVK 7-6(2), 6-0 Mon

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Vera's forehand drive

#8 s8 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS d #98 Anastasia Rodionova AUS/RUS 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 Tue

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Svetlana and Anastasia driving forehand and backhand

*#58 Kateryna Bondarenko UKR d #10 s9 Agnieszka Radwanska POL 7-6(7) 4-6 6-1 Tue

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Kateryna's service toss, Agnieszka & Kateryna driving backhands, and Kateryna after winning a point in the biggest 1st round upset

#11 s10 Nadia Petrova RUS d #88 Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ 6-3, 7-6(3) Mon

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Nadia driving a backhand

#12 s11 Caroline Wozniacki DEN d #40 Shahar Peer ISR 6-3, 6-2 Mon

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Caroline following a forehand, and Shahar & Woz driving backhands

#13 s12 Flavia Pennetta ITA d #131 sr35 Mara Santangelo ITA 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Tue

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Flavia serving, and Mara & Flavia driving forehands

#14 s13 Victoria Azarenka BLR d #49 Petra Kvitova CZE 6-2, 6-1 Tue

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Vika about to slice a backhand, and driving one

#15 s14 Patty Schnyder SUI d #999 wc Kristina Mladenovic FRA 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 Tue

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Patty and Kristina driving backhands

#16 s15 Alize Cornet FRA d #66 Mariya Koryttseva UKR 6-3, 6-4 Mon

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Alize about to slice a backhand

#17 s16 Marion Bartoli FRA d #110 Melanie South GBR 6-2, 6-4 Mon

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Marion's backhand drive

#18 s17 Anna Chakvetadze RUS d #53 Anne Keothavong GBR 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-1 Mon

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Anna and Anne serving, and Anna driving a backhand

#19 s18 Dominika Cibulkova SVK d #186 q Chanelle Scheepers RSA 6-0, 6-0 Tue
#21 s19 Daniela Hantuchova SVK d #55 Casey Dellacqua AUS 7-6(11), 6-4 Mon

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Casey and Daniela driving backhands, and Daniela after match point

#22 s20 Amelie Mauresmo FRA d #45 Olga Govortsova BLR 6-4, 6-3 Tue

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Amelie's backhand volley

    Amelie said: "Conditions were a little bit tough, I think especially with the wind. I'm not even thinking about the hot conditions. But the wind was—I felt it was hard to produce some high level of tennis. But I'm just happy that I went through this first match." postmatch interview

#23 s21 Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP d #580 wc Isabella Holland AUS 6-1, 7-5 Tue
#24 s22 Jie Zheng CHN d #97 Camille Pin FRA 6-3, 6-3 Tue
*#93 Galina Voskoboeva KAZ d #25 s23 Agnes Szavay HUN 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 Mon
*#59 Lucie Safarova CZE d #26 s24 Sybille Bammer AUT 6-3, 6-1 Mon
#27 s25 Kaia Kanepi EST d #184 q Kimiko Date Krumm JPN 6-4, 4-6, 8-6 Mon

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Kaia and Kimiko driving forehand and backhand

    38-year-old former WTA # 4 Kimiko said: "It was close match. I didn't know that almost three hours I was playing, because I like the hot place and I like more humid compared to qualifying. So I didn't feel. Just concentrate the match. I just concentrate, so I didn't feel no bad. I didn't think about I will win or not, lose easy. Just concentrated today.
    "My body was moving very quite good. So just to enjoy to play. Of course, after losing, if I took one more point or four more points, of course it's a little bit disappointing. But it's first time Grand Slam, the main draw, after comeback, so it's good fight...

    "After retire in 1996, sometimes I start do sports. Sometimes swimming, sometimes jogging, sometimes playing tennis with a friend or my husband. After a few years later I enjoy to play tennis also, and my husband push me a lot. Say you can go back on the tour, because he never see me when I was a player before. So he's a racing driver from Germany, and he likes tennis. He likes sports. He likes serious world.
    "So if I play exhibition match, he doesn't like just exhibition match. Exhibition match is exhibition match, not serious. So always he said to me, You must go back.
    "Then last year in March I had exhibition match in Tokyo with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. Then after that he push me so hard. Then I decide I just enjoy to play again." postmatch interview

#29 s26 Ai Sugiyama JPN d #125 q Stephanie Dubois CAN 6-0, 7-6(5) Mon

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Ai driving a backhand in her 15th Australian Open—and her 60th Grand Slam tourney—
Ai has played in every Grand Slam singles main draw since Wimbledon in 1994

*#38 Sara Errani ITA d #30 s27 Maria Kirilenko RUS 6-0, 6-4 Mon

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Maria and Sara driving forehand and backhand

*#39 Shuai Peng CHN d #31 s28 Francesca Schiavone ITA 7-6(4), 6-1 Tue
#32 s29 Alisa Kleybanova RUS d #64 Sofia Arvidsson SWE 7-5, 7-5 Mon
*#56 Sabine Lisicki GER d #33 s30 Aleksandra Wozniak CAN 6-4, 6-3 Tue
#34 s31 Alona Bondarenko UKR d #367 wc Olivia Rogowska AUS 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 Tue
*#90 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP d #35 s32 Tamarine Tanasugarn THA 7-5, 6-3 Tue
*#100 Melinda Czink HUN d #36 Sorana Cirstea ROU 6-2, 6-2 Tue
#41 Iveta Benesova CZE d #86 Vera Dushevina RUS 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 Tue
*#52 Tathiana Garbin ITA d #42 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 Tue
#43 Tsvetana Pironkova BUL d #167 q Karolina Sprem CRO 6-0, 6-4 Mon
#44 Carla Suarez Navarro ESP d #78 Roberta Vinci ITA 7-5, 6-4 Tue
#46 Samantha Stosur AUS d #72 Klara Zakopalova CZE 7-6(5), 7-6(0) Tue

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Samantha serving, Klara driving a forehand, and Samantha's backhand

#47 Ekaterina Makarova RUS d #81 Aravane Rezai FRA 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 Mon
#48 Monica Niculescu ROU d #160 q Katie O'Brien GBR 6-4, 6-4 Mon
#50 Gisela Dulko ARG d #101 Anastasiya Yakimova RUS 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 Tue

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Gisela driving forehand and backhand

*#94 Severine Bremond FRA d #51 Nicole Vaidisova CZE 6-2, 6-1 Tue c8 m2
*#107 Sania Mirza IND d #61 Marta Domachowska POL 6-1, 6-4 Mon

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Marta and Sania driving forehands

#62 Virginie Razzano FRA d #95 Jarmila Gajdosova AUS/SVK 6-1, 6(2)-7, 6-4 Tue

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Virginie after winning a point

    Jarmila said: "The heat wouldn't really bother me as much as the wind because it wasn't going one way, it just keep going in circles. You never knew. Like the last match, I had no clue where the ball is going. I tried to hit a cross-court. It ended up behind the net, down the line. That was probably the worst part of it all." postmatch interview

*#92 Julie Coin FRA d #63 Elena Vesnina RUS 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 Tue
*#85 Mathilde Johansson FRA d #65 Jill Craybas USA 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 Mon
*#135 q Sesil Karatantcheva BUL d #67 Nuria Llagostera Vives ESP 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 Tue

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Sesil driving a backhand

#68 Marina Erakovic NZL d #84 Petra Cetkovska CZE 6-4, 7-5 Mon
#69 Nathalie Dechy FRA d #147 q Viktoriya Kutuzova UKR 6-3, 6-0 Mon
*#134 q Elena Baltacha GBR d #70 Anna-Lena Groenefeld GER 6-1, 6-4 Tue

    Elena said: "I'm very delighted, yeah. I played well. I played the way that I wanted to before the match... I've had four great matches. Physically I feel great. Everything emotionally, mentally, I feel great. I'm really, really looking forward to the match on Thursday." postmatch interview

*#169 q Alberta Brianti ITA d #73 Yanina Wickmayer BEL 6-4, 6-2 Mon
*#105 Stephanie Cohen-Aloro FRA d #74 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE 6-3, 6-4 Mon
#75 Yung-Jan Chan TPE d #80 Su-Wei Hsieh TPE 6-3, 6-3 Tue
*#239 sr94 Tatjana Malek GER d #76 Ayumi Morita JPN 7-6(4), 6-2 Tue
#77 Edina Gallovits ROU d #102 Maria Elena Camerin ITA 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 Mon
*#187 wc Jelena Dokic AUS d #79 Tamira Paszek AUT 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 Mon cH m3

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Tamira serving, Jelena driving a backhand, and after match point

    Former # 4 Jelena won the annual Tennis Australia playoff amongst Aussie players to earn a main draw wild card. Like Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, Jelena was born in what was then Yugoslavia. But the Dokic family moved to Australia when Jelena was 11. She played as an Australian until the 2001 Australian Open, when increasing frustration with a purported lack of support by Tennis Australia culminated in a suggestion that the draw had been rigged against Jelena (she lost to Lindsay Davenport in the 1st round). Jelena then became a Serbian citizen again, and won five WTA singles titles in 2001 and 2002.
    In early 2004 Jelena's rank had fallen to # 17, a year later it had dropped to # 124. After that she played less often, and mostly in ITF, not WTA, events. In 2005, Jelena reapplied for Australian citizenship, and she has played as an Aussie since the 2006 Australian Open—when she also won the wild card playoff, but did not reach the 2nd round. Dokic career record

    Jelena said: "I knew I had a chance to beat [Tamira] if I played well. I practiced with her a couple of times. I knew if I can hang in there, not make too much errors, kind of hang in the match, I knew I could have a shot.
    "After I won the first set I really got nervous. But it's great. This is huge for me. After pretty much a three-year absence, to start the year with a win at a Grand Slam is really huge for me.
    "I didn't really have any goals or expectations for myself for the first three or four months of the year. I just wanted to work really hard and see what I can do." postmatch interview

#82 Karin Knapp ITA d #522 wc Monika Wejnert AUS 7-6(6), 6-4 Mon
#83 Akgul Amanmuradova UZB d #173 q Melanie Oudin USA 6-1, 6-4 Tue
#89 Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP d #113 Ekaterina Bychkova RUS 6-3, 6-0 Tue
*#109 Kirsten Flipkens BEL d #96 Rossana De Los Rios PAR 6-3, 6-2 Mon
#103 Virginia Ruano Pascual ESP d #108 Mariana Duque Marino COL 6-3, 6-2 Mon
#111 Patricia Mayr AUT d #143 q Julia Schruff GER 6-4, 6-1 Mon
#136 wc Jessica Moore AUS d #374 wc Christina McHale USA 1-6, 6-3, 9-7 Tue
*#385 sr97 Andrea Petkovic GER d #162 q Kathrin Woerle GER 5-7 7-6(0) 4-0 retired Mon

Australian Open, 2nd Rd, Wed-Thu 11am
loser: AUD$31,000 = $21,675 US, US 100 points
#1 s1 Jelena Jankovic SRB d #109 Kirsten Flipkens BEL 6-4, 7-5 Wed

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Jelena following a forehand, driving a backhand, and complimenting Kirsten after match point

    Jelena said: "it was a tough match for me. I thought that [Kirsten] played really well. She had nothing to lose so she could go out there and really swing freely.
    "I wasn't really happy with my game, what I was doing on the court. So I have to clean up my game a little bit and try to do the right things for my next match.
    "Just overall happy to get through. It's good to get into the competition and feel those nerves and feel this atmosphere because I haven't competed for two months. It's good get some tough matches in the earlier rounds." postmatch interview

#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #50 Gisela Dulko ARG 6-3, 7-5 Thu

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Serena and Gisela lining up backhands, Gisela driving a high forehand, and Serena's backhand drive

    Gisela, playing very aggressively, went ahead by a break twice in the 2nd set. When Gisela served for the 2nd set leading 5-3, there were 12 deuces in the game. Serena converted 4 of 18 break points against Gisela, many of which were in that game. Gisela held only 2 break points against Serena, and converted both. Gisela finished with 29 winners, but 38 unforced errors; Serena with 26 winners and 29 errors. match stats

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #47 Ekaterina Makarova RUS 6(3)-7, 6-3, 6-0 Wed

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Ekaterina and Dinara driving backhands, and Dinara after winning a point

    Informed that she had struck 70 unforced errors in her first two matches, Dinara said: "Thanks for telling me (smiling). Well, actually I'm not focusing on them, like how many I do unforced errors. I'm just trying to find my game. I'm trying to be aggressive, so that's normal that I'm going to have some unforced errors. Well, it is too much. But so I have another chance to improve, to have them less...
    "I think after I lost the first set, then I really played my game afterwards. I really stepped in and I was going for my shots. I think I played good match today." postmatch interview

#4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS d #41 Iveta Benesova CZE 6-4, 6-1 Thu

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Elena serving, Iveta and Elena driving backhands, and Elena after winning a point

    It was Auckland & Sydney champ Elena's 12th straight win. Elena said: "I think it was a little bit easier match today, especially because of the weather conditions. It was not that hot. I think we were lucky to play in the Hisense Arena, which is not as windy as outside courts. I think just played a little bit better. This is what I need if I want to improve, if I want to go all the way. Just very glad I could win in two sets." postmatch interview

#5 s5 Ana Ivanovic SRB d #169 q Alberta Brianti ITA 6-3, 6-2 Wed

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Ana serving, Alberta running down a forehand, Ana volleying one, and after match point

    Ana said: "I think I improved a lot since last match, you know, in my game. I was committing much more, coming to the net more often. That's something I was very pleased to see...
    "[Alberta is] not an easy opponent. She can be very dangerous. Like I said, I was moving in much more, putting a lot of pressure on her. Also I had feeling I could do a lot on returns, and that's what I did. That gave me confidence." postmatch interview

*#44 Carla Suarez Navarro ESP d #6 s6 Venus Williams USA 2-6 6-3 7-5 Thu

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Venus following a forehand, Carla driving one, and after match point

    Each player broke the other's serve 4 times, and Venus scored 89 points to Carla's 88. But Carla, scoring when she needed to, won the match. match stats

    It was the biggest win (by rank) of 2008 French Open quarterfinalist Carla's career. Carla said: "For me is a very good match. So I feel very good... Nothing special in tactics. Just to go on court, to try to be positive, to try to do my best... In the first set [Venus] never thought that she's going to lose. She was still thinking positive all of the match... You must be aggressive during all the match because, if not, she's going to take control of you." postmatch interview

    Venus said: "I think [Carla] played some really good tennis. She was super consistent and aggressive and just went for her shots. I think she just played really well... I think she took her opportunities and really showed a lot of character... I definitely have to credit her." postmatch interview

#7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS d #77 Edina Gallovits ROU 6-0, 6-0 Wed

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Vera about to connect with a backhand

#8 s8 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS d #239 sr94 Tatjana Malek GER 6-2, 6-2 Thu

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Svetlana's forehand drive, Tatjana's backhand, and Sveta after match point

#11 s10 Nadia Petrova RUS d #107 Sania Mirza IND 6-3, 6-2 Wed

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Nadia about to slice a backhand, and Sania driving one

#12 s11 Caroline Wozniacki DEN d #103 Virginia Ruano Pascual ESP 6-3, 6-3 Wed

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Vivi driving a forehand, Caroline reaching for a backhand, and Woz after match point

#13 s12 Flavia Pennetta ITA d #136 wc Jessica Moore AUS 6-4, 6-1 Thu

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Flavia about to swat a backhand, and Jessica driving one

#14 s13 Victoria Azarenka BLR d #52 Tathiana Garbin ITA 4-1 retired Thu

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Tathiana following a backhand, and Victoria driving one

*#62 Virginie Razzano FRA d #15 s14 Patty Schnyder SUI 6-3, 6-1 Thu

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Patty and Virginie driving forehand and backhand

#16 s15 Alize Cornet FRA d #385 sr97 Andrea Petkovic GER 6-1, 6-0 Wed

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Alize and Andrea driving forehand and backhand, and Alize after match point

#17 s16 Marion Bartoli FRA d #43 Tsvetana Pironkova BUL 7-5, 6-2 Wed

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Tsevtana and Marion driving forehands

*#187 wc Jelena Dokic AUS d #18 s17 Anna Chakvetadze RUS 6-4, 6(4)-7, 6-3 Wed

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Anna and Jelena driving forehand and backhand, Jelena after match point, and posing for some offcourt pics on Thursday

    It was former # 4 Jelena's first win over a top-20 player since October, 2003, when she defeated then # 17 Daniela Hantuchova in the 1st round in Linz, 6-4, 6-1. A week earlier, in Zurich, Jelena defeated # 10 Chanda Rubin, # 18 Patty Schnyder, and # 1 Kim Clijsters before losing in the final to # 2 Justine Henin.
    After that, Jelena's ranking plummeted, and, as she could not find a way to win, she played less frequently. Jelena posted an 0-1 match record in 2007. Then she began working harder again. In 2008 Jelena won 3 ITF titles, and had a 35-10 match record. She will be a member of the Aussie Fed Cup team in February.

    Jelena said: "I just went into the match just wanting to see how I would go against a top 20 player. I was very nervous to be on center court again. It's been a long time. Just really wanted to see where I was with my shots and fitness and movement.
    "I started to play well. I think she had a slow start, but she started to play really well in that second set. I let her off that 5-3 game where I had 30-15 and did a few unforced errors and double faults. But overall, I think the things went her way in the third set. She really had the momentum. It's amazing I was able to come out and pull it out...

    "I've put in a lot of hard work last year, especially the end of last year. I've just been really, really focused and really wanted it so bad. Things are going really well at the moment. I couldn't imagine a better start to the year. In Brisbane I said it was a good start. I lost to Amélie in two tight sets. I had her in both sets, and I could have won that match...

    "[Anna is] the one that I think had the pressure on her. She was supposed to win today. She was the clear favorite, so that went kind of in my favor. But I think as the match went on, and as I was up, I was up the whole time until the tiebreak in the second set. She kind of just went on with it. I really had to finish it off. She is a fighter. She always hangs in there.

    "But this is a huge confidence boost for me. No matter what happens from here on, I'm really happy with such a good start to the year. I want to be top 50 by the end of the year, and I think if I continue playing like I have been playing, this should be achievable." postmatch interview

#19 s18 Dominika Cibulkova SVK d #75 Yung-Jan Chan TPE 6-0, 6-2 Thu

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Yung-Jan and Dominika driving forehand and backhand

#21 s19 Daniela Hantuchova SVK d #85 Mathilde Johansson FRA 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 Wed

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Mathilde driving a running backhand, Daniela's backhand drive, and after match point

#22 s20 Amelie Mauresmo FRA d #134 q Elena Baltacha GBR 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 Thu

    Amelie said: "[Elena] was playing pretty good, serving good. Me giving away a lot of free points until 5-2 in that first set, and then things started to change a little bit throughout the rest of the match. But definitely some good shots. You could see that also she had lot of confidence after the quallies and then the first round. Yeah, as I told you last time, I really had to be careful and take things pretty seriously." postmatch interview

#23 s21 Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP d #92 Julie Coin FRA 6-1, 6-4 Thu

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Anabel following a forehand

#24 s22 Jie Zheng CHN d #100 Melinda Czink HUN 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-3 Thu

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Melinda and Jie driving backhand and forehand

#27 s25 Kaia Kanepi EST d #111 Patricia Mayr AUT 6-3, 6-1 Wed
#29 s26 Ai Sugiyama JPN d #69 Nathalie Dechy FRA 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 Wed

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Ai after match point

#32 s29 Alisa Kleybanova RUS d #105 Stephanie Cohen-Aloro FRA 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 Wed
#34 s31 Alona Bondarenko UKR d #94 Severine Bremond FRA 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-2 Thu
#38 Sara Errani ITA d #48 Monica Niculescu ROU 6-2, 6-3 Wed
#39 Shuai Peng CHN d #135 q Sesil Karatantcheva BUL 6-4, 6-0 Thu

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Sesil and Shuai driving backhands, and Shuai after match point

#46 Samantha Stosur AUS d #56 Sabine Lisicki GER 6-3, 6-4 Thu

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Samantha serving, Sabine and Sam driving forehands, and Samantha after match point

    Samantha said: "I thought I played really well. Really happy with the result and the way I played and all that... I guess there's always things you want to work on. But you always want to play better. But I thought today, given who my opponent was, [Sabine] didn't give me much rhythm, served big, hit the ball hard, all that, I thought I played tactically pretty good, waited for my opportunities. Once I got them, I was able to take them." postmatch interview

#58 Kateryna Bondarenko UKR d #89 Lourdes Dominguez Lino ESP 7-5, 7-5 Thu
#59 Lucie Safarova CZE d #68 Marina Erakovic NZL 6-1, 3-6, 9-7 Wed
*#93 Galina Voskoboeva KAZ d #82 Karin Knapp ITA 6-4, 6-1 Wed
*#90 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP d #83 Akgul Amanmuradova UZB 6-2 6-4 Thu

Australian Open, 3rd Rd, Fri-Sat
loser: AUD$51,000 = $35,660 US, 160 points
#1 s1 Jelena Jankovic SRB d #29 s26 Ai Sugiyama JPN 6-4, 6-4 Fri

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Jelena following a forehand, Ai driving a backhand, Jelena following one, and after match point

    Jelena said: "Today was a tough match. I thought I competed much better than in my previous two rounds. Ai is a tough opponent. She doesn't really give me any free points. She fights very well and is a very solid player. I had to work for every point. Just happy to get through this kind of match." postmatch interview

#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #39 Shuai Peng CHN 6-1, 6-4 Sat

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Serena serving, Shuai happily stalking a forehand, and Serena's backhand drive

    Serena said: "It was definitely a lot better than my second round. But, you know, I'm still trying to work on some things and hoping they'll come together... I lost my serve a couple times. Then I think I put too much pressure on myself. Then, next thing I know, I was down." postmatch interview

    Shuai said: " I think it's really good experience for me. It's my first time play [Serena]. The first set, I was a bit nervous, and then a little bit too tight. But after like we start the second set, I feel much better. I was up and I get little bit chance, but didn't take that. I learn from her, and just keep going. " postmatch interview

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #27 s25 Kaia Kanepi EST 6-2, 6-2 Fri

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Dinara serving, Kaia driving a backhand, Dinara following a forehand, and after winning a point

    It is the first time that 2008 French Open finalist Dinara has reached the 4th round of the Australian Open.

    Dinara said: "There's a first time for everything. Twice I lost in the third round. I was like this today, That is the third time. Should be the luckiest one. Actually, I'm glad I won very comfortable today... Even though I won after 6-3, 6-Love (over Makarova, 2nd round, 6(3)-7, 6-3, 6-0), now I played a completely different game. I was much more aggressive and I was just playing my game." postmatch interview

#4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS d #46 Samantha Stosur AUS 7-6(6), 6-4 Sat

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Elena and Samantha driving forehands, Elena following another forehand, and after match point

    Samantha converted 5 of 5 break point opportunites against Elena, Elena converted 6 of 16 break point chances against Samantha. Both players struck 24 winners, but Sam had 36 unforced errors, while Elena had only 19. match stats

    Elena said: "We had so many breaks back. I think my return today was much better today than my serve. I was nervous to play against [Samantha] here. I'm sure she feels very comfortable playing on this court with the crowd support. It was not easy for me... I'm just glad I was able to win the first set and finish it in two sets... I think all the Australian players are playing very well here in Melbourne." postmatch interview

    Samantha said: "I guess every time you go on the court, it's an opportunity. This time I didn't quite follow through... Hopefully next time I'm in that same situation and have the same kind of opportunity, I can get through it. I think I can do it. It's just a matter of getting over this hump and doing it...
    "I think there's lots of positives from this week and last week in Sydney. I've lost to No. 2 and No. 4 in the world in matches that, [in] one, I had match points, and [in the other], I served for the first set. Who knows what can happen if you get a set up. As much as it's disappointing right now, I think there's something really good to take out of it and build on for the rest of the year." postmatch interview

*#32 s29 Alisa Kleybanova RUS d #5 s5 Ana Ivanovic SRB 7-5, 6(5)-7, 6-2 Fri

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Ana ready to swat a forehand, Alisa about to connect with a backhand, Ana having a bad visor day, and Alisa after match point

    Alisa also reached the 4th round at Wimbledon last year, with wins over Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama. Eventual champ Venus Williams defeated Alisa in the 4th round, 6-3, 6-4.

    Alisa said: "It's just great to play one of the matches like this. It was definitely the best match in my career so far. I'm so happy that I pulled through, because it was not just a win, but I really felt that I played almost my best tennis today. It was so exciting to be out there. Just the moments that we train every day, we work hard and, you know, we live our life to be there and to play on this court, and for all those people that came to watch. Just the feelings that you get out there was amazing today." postmatch interview

    Ana said: "[Alisa] played really well. I thought so. I tried to come back. I fought really hard in the second set and had my chances. Had my chances in the first set and in the third set. Unfortunately, in important points she played really well. You know, I gave my 100%. Today she was better. She came up with some unbelievable shots and unbelievable angles. I think she played the match of her career." postmatch interview

#7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS d #38 Sara Errani ITA 6-4, 6-1 Fri

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Sara and Vera driving forehand and backhand

#8 s8 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS d #34 s31 Alona Bondarenko UKR 7-6(7), 6-4 Sat

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Svetlana and Alona driving forehands, and Sveta after match point

#11 s10 Nadia Petrova RUS d #93 Galina Voskoboeva KAZ 6-1, retired Fri

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Nadia and Galina driving backhands

*#187 wc Jelena Dokic AUS d #12 s11 Caroline Wozniacki DEN 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 Fri

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Jelena driving a forehand, Caroline running one down, Jelena after match point, Caroline congratulating Jelena,
and Jelena getting a hug from former WTA # 8 Alicia Molik, now a commentator for Australia's Channel 7

    Jelena struck 31 winners with 38 unforced errors (Caroline: 16 winners, 27 errors). Jelena, averaging 91 mph on her 2nd serves, won 61% of her 2nd serve points. match stats

    Jelena said: "Even though [Caroline] got the early break, I felt pretty comfortable playing the match. I felt like I wasn't getting blown off the court. Then I lost the first set, and I don't know, I just kind of started to play better and swing easier. Yeah, I was able to get that first break in the second set, and things just kind of started turning around... That I'm able to play third sets like day in and day out with these girls is amazing... I think I have a better game than I used to. I really mix it up a lot and worked on my fitness...
    "It's been great how everyone has given me another chance. That goes to Tennis Australia, to all the coaches and everybody that works there, and the crowd obviously." postmatch interview

*#23 s21 Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP d #13 s12 Flavia Pennetta ITA 6-4, 6-1 Sat

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Flavia and her good friend Anabel driving forehand and backhand

    Anabel made 72% of her 1st serves good, and won 75% of those points. She hit 23 winners with only 14 unforced errors, an excellent ratio. 2008 US Open quarterfinalist Flavia had a very bad day, putting only 47% of her 1st serves in the box, and hitting only 11 winners against 29 errors. match stats

    Anabel, competing in her 27th Grand Slam tourney singles main draw, has reached the 4th round only twice before, at Melbourne in 2002 and at Roland Garros in 2007. Anabel will play her compatriot from Barcelona, # 46 Carla Suarez Navarro in the 4th round on Monday. The two top-ranking Spaniards have never before met on the field of combat.

#14 s13 Victoria Azarenka BLR d #22 s20 Amelie Mauresmo FRA 6-4, 6-2 Sat

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Victoria serving, Amelie driving a forehand, Vika driving a backhand, and after winning a point

    Amelie said: "I did not play well enough the key points, whether it was in the first set or second set. First set I had the lead early on, but then was not able to really keep it up not serving good enough... And then in the second set I was down, but then also had opportunities to go back closer to her and close the gap a little bit. But I guess today it's really the key points and the key moments that I didn't play good enough and that's a little bit disappointing...
    I was really aware of what to expect and how [Victoria is] playing and what her game is. So I was not at all surprised by what she produced today. I just thought that she played a very good match. Really intense and consistent and not giving away many points throughout the whole match. But I was expecting that." postmatch interview

#16 s15 Alize Cornet FRA d #21 s19 Daniela Hantuchova SVK 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Fri

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Alize serving, Daniela reaching for a backhand, Alize following a forehand, and after match point

#17 s16 Marion Bartoli FRA d #59 Lucie Safarova CZE 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 Fri

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Lucie and Marion driving backhands

#19 s18 Dominika Cibulkova SVK d #62 Virginie Razzano FRA 7-5, 7-5 Sat

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Dominika driving a forehand, Virginie and Dominika driving backhands, and Dominika after match point

    Dominika put 75% of her 1st serves in the box, and won 67% of her 1st serve points, as well as 79% of her 2nd serve points. She struck 12 winners with 17 unforced errors, while Virginie hit 27 winners—but with 52 errors. match stats

    Dominika will play this year's Auckland and Brisbane champion (and the 2008 Olympic gold medalist), 4th-seeded # 4 Elena Dementieva in the 4th round on Monday. If she wins, it will be the biggest victory of Dominika's career. They have played only twice before; both meetings were last year on hardcourts. In the 2nd round at Miami last March, Elena defeated Dominika, 6-0, 6(1)-7, 6-4. But in August, in the 2nd round in Montreal, Dominika defeated Elena, 6-4, 6-2.

#24 s22 Jie Zheng CHN d #58 Kateryna Bondarenko UKR 6-2, 6-2 Sat

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Jie driving a forehand, Kateryna driving a backhand on the run, and Jie after match point

    Jie said: "I feel I play good for today, because before the match I do the too much work. I know how to play this match... It's a little surprise so easy a win for this match, because I know [Kateryna] plays more aggressive. So beginning I go to the court, I play more aggressive for her..." postmatch interview

#44 Carla Suarez Navarro ESP d #90 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez ESP 6-1, 6-4 Sat

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Carla driving a forehand, Maria Jose following one, and Carla's backhand drive

Australian Open, 4th Rd, Sun-Mon 11am
loser: AUD$88,000 = $61,532 US, 280 points
*#17 s16 Marion Bartoli FRA d #1 s1 Jelena Jankovic SRB 6-1, 6-4 Sun

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Marion driving a forehand, which she does with her backhand grip (thus no grip change required),
Jelena's forehand, Marion driving a backhand, and after match point

    Jelena played cleanly; she hit 17 winners with only 15 unforced errors. But Marion played better, striking twice as many winners, 34, with only 20 errors. match stats

    It was Marion's first win over a # 1 player since she beat now-retired Justine Henin, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, in their semifinal at Wimbledon in 2007 (Marion lost to Venus Williams in the final).

    Marion said: "I was really confident because I played really well my last match against Safarova. I knew I could beat Jelena on a good day, it was just a matter of executing it, you know, play the right shot at the right time and doesn't make too much mistake. But I was not overwhelmed by the situation, and I just went for my shot and everything went in today. It was just a great match." postmatch interview - AO player's blog by Marion Bartoli

    Jelena said: "Today was a tough day for me... [I] played wrong tactically, didn't do what I was supposed to do to beat [Marion]. So she was the better one, and all the credit. She played really well, went for all her shots. Even played first and second serve the same. She hit whatever she could. So she knew that she had to do that in order to win, and it was her day." postmatch interview

    Marion will play 7th-seeded # 7 Vera Zvonareva in a quarterfinal on Tuesday. It will not be easy for Marion. Vera leads Marion 6-1 in career matches. Marion's only victory over Vera came in the Auckland final in 2006, and Marion has not won a title since. Vera defeated Marion 3 times in 2008, and Marion took only 3 games from Vera in their last two matches, both of which were on hardcourts.

#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #14 s13 Victoria Azarenka BLR 3-6, 4-2 retired— stomach illness (vomiting), possibly flu Mon

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Serena serving, Victoria driving a forehand, Serena following a running backhand, and Vika feeling unwell

    Victoria said: "I started really feeling sick in the morning already. I woke up at 6 a.m. and I was throwing up all the morning and just felt weak. Once I got to the court, I went to see the doctor, I felt a little bit better. Throughout the first set, a little bit of the second, then I just had no more energy to go... They kind of said it's kind of a virus because I had a fever pretty high." postmatch interview

    Serena said: "Hopefully [Victoria will] be okay. She's young, so will have plenty of opportunity to do better." postmatch interview

    Serena will play # 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Serena leads Sveta 4-1 in career matches, and won their last meeting, on a hardcourt in the semifinals last March at Key Biscayne, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

    Serena said: "[Svetlana is] a good player, obviously. Gets a ton of balls back. She's extremely strong. I think we have a similar game. I think it will obviously be a great match."

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #16 s15 Alize Cornet FRA 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 Sun

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Dinara following a running backhand, Alize and Dinara driving stationary backhands, and Dinara after match point

    Alize served for the match while leading 5-4 in the 3rd set, and held 2 match points at 40-15. But she could not convert the match points.

    Dinara said: "Two unforced errors. So, well, she's never been in the quarters. I guess this was going through the mind. She never beat me. This also can go through her mind: 'I have a chance; I'm serving for the match; I have a match point.' I guess she was just not ready for beat me. I was just hanging in there. Nothing special that I did..." postmatch interview

    Alize said: "The match point was really two big rallies, and she was really, really strong on these two rallies... [Dinara] really made a great start of the match. She played really, really good at the beginning. I was a bit impressed of the court and of the point that I was at the fourth round, so I didn't play so good at the beginning.
    "Then, like usually, I just keep fighting. Then she really made much more mistake and she just let me come back in the match. Then I was really more motivated...
    "Each time I play against her it's better and better for me. Next time I hope I can beat her. I cannot be more close than this one. Next time if I play against her in Dubai I'm going to win. I have to be positive." postmatch interview

#4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS d #19 s18 Dominika Cibulkova SVK 6-2, 6-2 Mon

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Elena serving, Dominika following a flying forehand, Elena's forehand drive, and Elena after match point

    Dominika, averaging only 79 mph on her 2nd serve, won only 23% of her 2nd serve points, while hitting only 6 winners with 21 unforced errors (6 of which were double faults). Elena, who has had trouble with her serve in the past, double faulted only twice, averaged 85 mph on her 2nd serve, and won 53% of her 2nd serve points. Elena hit 24 winners (including 3 aces) with 27 errors. match stats

    It was Auckland and Sydney champion Elena's 14th consecutive match victory. If she wins this Australian Open, she will become # 1 in the WTA for the first time in her career.

    Elena said: "I think it was a good match, very solid game from the beginning till the end... I had a good preparation. I think it was the right decision to come to Auckland and play a smaller tournament in the beginning just to get confidence... I decided to practice in Miami outdoor [in the off-season] instead of just hit in Moscow indoors. It was much easier for me to come here and play similar weather condition...

    "I remember my first time here [in 1999] because it was my first Grand Slam. I did qualifying and I played Martina Hingis on Rod Laver Arena, so I remember this day like it was yesterday [smiling]... I remember crying after I lost to her [6-3, 6-2, 2nd round; Martina went on to win the tourney]. That was surprising to most of the people, because they thought that I'm just going to go on the court and enjoy. I was so upset to lose. I really wanted to go on and continue to play a couple more matches in this tournament. I was dreaming about being top 10 and becoming No. 1...
    "I always admired [Martina], the way she was playing, the way she behaved. I thought she was just the perfect No. 1. I was always enjoying to watch her play. I learn a lot by watching her." postmatch interview

    Elena will play # 44 Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. They have never before met on the field of combat.

    Elena said: "I think [Carla is] a very tough player. She play a very unique style of game. A lot of spin. It's going to be tough match. She had a very good win against Venus Williams here. She was very solid today on the court."

#7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS d #11 s10 Nadia Petrova RUS 7-5, 6-4 Sun

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Vera following a flying forehand, Nadia and Vera driving backhands, and Vera after match point

#8 s8 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS d #24 s22 Jie Zheng CHN 4-1 retired—left hand injury Mon

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Jie following a forehand, Svetlana's backhand drive, Jie falling, and explaining to Svetlana that she cannot continue

    Jie fell and hurt her left wrist (already taped for an earlier injury) during the third game of the match.

    Jie said: "I want try for play, but I can't use the left hand, cannot play the backhand. My problem to hit too hard... backhand, I feel it's big pain for." postmatch interview

    Svetlana said: "I was winning... But I felt sorry for [Jie] because she was in great shape. She was playing good. This pain I hope is not very dangerous. ..." postmatch interview

    About playing # 2 Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Svetlana said: "Definitely gonna be hard... [Serena is] very tough. She serves well. But definitely I'm confident in myself, and I just want to play my best..."

*#44 Carla Suarez Navarro ESP d #23 s21 Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP 6-3, 6-2 Mon

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Carla serving, Anabel's 2-handed and Carla's 1-handed backhand drives, and Anabel congratulating Carla after match point

    Carla struck 20 winners with 23 unforced errors, and converted 4 of 5 break point opportunities against Anabel. Anabel hit only 7 winners with 28 errors, and converted only 1 of 7 break points against Carla. match stats

    About playing # 4 Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals, Carla said: "I think the next round is a very difficult match. So I don't know the score now, but Dementieva is a very good player... It's different because it's the second time... I think I can play better than the first time with Jankovic in Roland Garros [Jelena defeated Carla 6-3, 6-2]." postmatch interview

*#187 wc Jelena Dokic AUS d #32 s29 Alisa Kleybanova RUS 7-5, 5-7, 8-6 Sun

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Jelena driving a forehand, Alisa lobbing a backhand, Jelena's backhand drive, and Jelena after match point

    Jelena continued to play aggressively, averaging 92 mph on her 2nd serve despite 11 double faults. Jelena finished with 46 winners and 58 unforced errors; Alisa with 29 winners and 38 errors. match stats

    The win will put Jelena back in the WTA's top 100 next week. On Wednesday, after defeating # 18 Anna Chakvetadze, Jelena said, "I want to be top 50 by the end of the year." On Sunday, after reaching the quarterfinals, Jelena said: "I may have to change my goals now...
    "I was really physically exhausted tonight but I kept on fighting and the crowd got right behind me in the third set. Every single match I've played has been three sets. I really had to come through in all of them... It was hard to stay positive when I lost the second set and and went down a break in the third, but I just kept on fighting and it paid off." AFP story

    Jelena will play last year's French Open finalist, 3rd-seeded # 3 Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. They have met only once before, on a hardcourt in the 2nd round in Shanghai in 2003, when Dinara won, 6-1, 6-4.

Australian Open, QFs, Tue-Wed 11am
loser: AUD$182,500 = $127,609 US, 500 points
#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #8 s8 Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 Wed

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Serena serving, Svetlana running down a forehand, Serena driving a backhand, and after match point

    Serena hit 22 winners with 27 unforced errors (4 of which were double faults), a relatively clean match for her. Sveta hit 32 winners, but with 42 errors (including 7 double faults). match stats

    After Svetlana won the 1st set, Australian Open's Extreme Heat Policy was invoked, and there was a break while the retractable roof of Rod Laver Arena was closed and air conditioning turned on.

    Serena said: "I was just gonna try to go for a third set with the roof open. But with the roof closed, it was definitely helpful... I finally started playing a little better in the second and the end of the second set... [The win is] really encouraging because this whole tournament I felt I've been off and I haven't been playing my best, especially to pull out that win today."
    Serena had her racquets restrung during the roof closing after the 1st set. "It was so hot that my racquets lost all tension. I had to string 'em way tighter than normal for my ball to stay in the court..." postmatch interview

    Svetlana said: "[The roof closing] was a big change. I was very comfortable playing outside. I guess it's two different games. One you play inside; one you play outside. [Serena] has big serve. She was using it very good when the roof was closed. I guess it was in her favor very much. I tried to do my best and I had my chances even like that. I was 5-3 up.
    "Definitely angry. Why should I not be? Game going my way. I'm fine playing with the roof. I think the guys yesterday, it was the same weather. Everybody was playing with the roof [open]. Why today they had to close it? I didn't get it. That was why I was angry... Serena was tough. She's playing great. I give her credit. But I don't get this rule." postmatch interview

    Serena will play Elena Dementieva in the semifinals on Thursday. Serena leads Elena 4-3 in career matches. But Elena has won the last three times they have played: in the Moscow final in 2007, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1; in Beijing Olympics quarterfinals, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3;, and in the semifinals two weeks ago in Sydney, 6-3, 6-1.

    Serena said: "I think [Elena is] playing amazing. I think she's actually playing some of the best tennis on the tour. She's really stepped up the level of her game to an unbelievable level. I'm going to have to play really well to do well tomorrow... A couple times I gave her the match. But the last time she played really well. I'm just going to have to play my game."

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #187 wc Jelena Dokic AUS 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 Tue

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Dinara serving, Jelena and Dinara driving forehand and backhand, and Jelena congratulating Dinara after match point

    Dinara scored 112 points to Jelena's 104, and converted 6 of 19 break point opportunites, while Jelena converted 5 of 12. Dinara finished with 23 winners (including 5 aces) and 36 unforced errors (including 11 double faults); Jelena had 29 winners (4 aces) and 54 errors (8 DFs). match stats

    Dinara said: "It was not easy to play having the whole crowd against [you]... When you make a great shot and basically only my box is clapping for me, this was, I think, a little bit tough conditions compared to Cornet [in the 4th round]. Against her I had also some support from the crowd...
    "I was trying to just find my game and going for my shots and just be aggressive, not let [Jelena] dictate. Sometimes I was doing this, and sometimes not. If I let her play, she's a great player. She makes me move around. She was going for her shots... Just a matter of time and she continues working like this, working hard, you can see that she's a great player... I would say this time she played much better than last time in China [in 2003] that we played against each other." postmatch interview

    Former #4 Jelena's WTA ranking dropped to #617 in 2006; her performance in this tourney was her best since 2003. In next week's WTA rankings, she will be somewhere around #85.

    Jelena said: "I think it was a good match. Physically I was not in my best shape. Yeah, it was good. I played three sets with the No. 3 player in the world. Everything is positive. I've had a great tournament...
    "I had some chances, even in that third set, and couldn't hold my serve. Had a lot of game points in each game. Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don't. There's nothing to be disappointed about." postmatch interview

    Although Dinara's weight is still officially listed as 154˝, it is now closer to 140. Dinara said: "Sometimes you take five kilos, 'Oh, it's heavy.' Then you start to think, I been carrying this the whole time. You don't feel it. But definitely I would not want to go back to that shape. I prefer to go now the way I am now."

    Dinara Safina will play Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals on Thursday. Dinara leads Vera 5-4 in career matches, and defeated Vera twice in 2006 and twice in 2007. But last year, Vera won all three times they met, all on hardcourts: in the 2nd round in Doha, 7-5, 6-3; in the quarters in Miami, 7-5, 6-4, and in the semifinals in Moscow, 6-2, 7-6(5).

    Dinara said: "Well, it's another match. You know, how do you say? Two great players there. Just we will go out there and play our game, and who is going to be stronger on the day gonna be win."

#4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS d #44 Carla Suarez Navarro ESP 6-2, 6-2 Wed

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Elena driving a forehand, Carla following a backhand, Elena running down another forehand, and after winning a point

    Elena, who began the year by winning titles in Auckland and Sydney, is undefeated in 2009; this was her 15th consecutive match victory.

    Both players had trouble serving; Elena put only 49% of her 1st serves in the box (Carla: 50%). But while Elena won 79% of her 1st serve points, Carla won only 43% of hers. Elena hit 24 winners with 24 unforced errors, 10 of which were double faults. Carla struck only 14 winners, with 28 errors (2 DFs). match stats

    Although temperatures in Melbourne were in the upper 30s Celsius (over 100° Fahrenheit), the retractable roof of Rod Laver Arena was not closed during this match. Elena said: "It was very tough to play because of the weather condition. Also [Carla] is very strong physically, very fit player. Playing for the first time, I didn't know what to expect from her.
    "Maybe it looked easy. But I think for such a score like 6-2, 6-2, we're playing one and a half hour, which is a pretty long match...
    "Sometimes it's really hard to serve because of the sun. So instead of just going for the really good first serve, you're just trying to put lots of spin, just trying to put it somehow. But I think today was not the best day of my service. I was serving okay this week." postmatch interview

    About playing Serena Williams in the semifinals on Thursday, Elena said: "Every time it's different, especially against Serena. You don't know what to expect from her. All the matches that we play, all the last three matches, was completely different games. I think she likes to play here. She won this title. She feels pretty comfortable playing on this surface. I think it's going to be tough match."

#7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS d #17 s16 Marion Bartoli FRA 6-3, 6-0 Tue

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Vera driving a forehand, Marion's backhand, Vera lining up another forehand, and after match point

    Vera won 61 points, hitting 17 winners with 17 unforced errors; Marion won only 37 points, with 9 winners and 26 errors. match stats

    Vera said: "Marion was playing really well in the beginning and I made a few unforced errors, so that's why I think I was down 3-1. Then I was able to cut down on my unforced errors and I was able to keep a good level of play throughout the whole match. I think it made the difference...
    "I'm not really thinking about the scores or sets or any statistics. I'm just trying to concentrate on every match and trying my best in every match. And I think I've been doing pretty good so far." postmatch interview

    A few years ago, in the midst of a match, Vera yelled at herself: "I'll never play good tennis, ever!" Vera has not yet lost a set in this tournament.

    Marion took a 3-1 lead in the 1st set, then Vera won 11 straight games to finish the match. Marion said: "I think [Vera] played just unbelievably well. She barely miss one ball after that. I was hitting as hard as I could. She was always coming back with some better shots. Even when she was scrambling, she was putting the ball just ten centimeters from the baseline. So I never... be sure of where I can attack, or feel like I have some space into the court. She was always into the ball. It seems like she's reading my game like in the book. It was just too good. She was just better than me, that's it...
    "She's really consistent out of the baseline. As I said, she's almost like a ball machine. She just put it back at you all the time, you know, with interest. There is not any weakness into her game I can find. She's serving well, moving well, hitting the ball well. Of course, she can win this tournament." postmatch interview

    About her first Grand Slam semifinal, in which she will play Dinara Safina, Vera said: "I'm really concentrating on every match... I just try to concentrate on myself as much as possible, try to improve match to match because I know I need it. That's why I'm just looking forward for the next one, not thinking about anything else."

Australian Open, SFs, Thu 1:30pm+
loser: AUD$365,000 = $255,283 US, 900 points
#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #4 s4 Elena Dementieva RUS 6-3, 6-4

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Serena serving, Elena running down a forehand, Serena following a forehand drive,
Elena following a backhand, Serena volleying a forehand, after match point, and Elena congratulating Serena

    Elena had defeated Serena in their last 3 meetings, including the Sydney semifinals (6-3, 6-1), Serena's only loss thus far this season. It was Auckland & Sydney champ Elena's first loss in 2009; she dropped to 15-1 for the year.

    Serena's fastest serve was 116 mph (her fastest in the tourney so far), her average 1st serve speed 104 mph, and her average 2nd serve speed 87 mph (Elena: 109 mph, 100 mph, and 88 mph). Serena put only 53% of her 1st serves in the box, but when they went in she placed them well, launching 10 aces out of 37 1st serves. Serena won 78% of her 1st serve points and 45% of her 2nd serve points (Elena: 57% 1st serves in, 3 aces, won 52% of 1st serve points, 53% of 2nd serve points).
    Serena scored 14 more points than Elena, 79-65, and Elena gave Serena 8 points by way of double faults (Serena: 0 DFs). match stats

    Unlike Wednesday, when the retractable roof of Rod Laver Arena was closed and air conditioning turned on after Svetlana Kuznetsova had won the 1st set against Serena Williams, the Australian Open's Extreme Heat Policy was invoked before play began, and the roof remained closed throughout both semifinal matches.

    Serena said: "I definitely wanted to play better than I did the last few times I played [Elena]. And wanted to do some different things. The last few times I played her, I didn't play that well and I was stuck, so to say...
    "A perfect match for me? Oh, no, no, no. But it was definitely better...
    "[Playing under the roof you] don't have to deal with the elements like the wind... I was excited to play under the roof." postmatch interview

    Elena said: "I think it was a good match. I think Serena played really well today. I think I was maybe not aggressive enough and maybe I was playing not deep enough, which allowed her to be very aggressive and dictate the game...
    "From the beginning of the year, I played a lot of matches. I won all of them. And I feel like today I was not quick enough. I was not maybe aggressive enough against her. But I have no regrets. I had a great time here... I'm going to Moscow. Playing Fed Cup next week." postmatch interview

    Serena will play Dinara Safina in the Australian Open final on Saturday, and '03-'05-'07 champ Serena will be the odds-on favorite to win again. Serena leads Dinara 5-1 in career matches, and Serena won their last two meetings. In last year's US Open semis, Serena defeated Dinara 6-3, 6-2, and at the WTA Championships in Doha Serena defeated Dinara 6-4, 6-1. Dinara's one win over Serena came in the quarterfinals at Berlin last year, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(5). Dinara, who went on to win the Berlin title (her first Tier I) was 14-10 in 2008 before that match, and went 41-10 the rest of the season.

    Serena said: "Safina's playing well. She seems to never die. So she's doing a great job. She's going to be a tough opponent. She obviously wants to win. She's playing amazing, and she wants to win a Grand Slam and go for the glory. So this is just one more match. She's obviously, clearly, extremely fit."

#3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS d #7 s7 Vera Zvonareva RUS 6-3, 7-6(4)

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Dinara serving, Vera and Dinara driving backhands,
Vera running down a forehand, Dinara driving another backhand, and after match point

    Dinara scored when she needed to, converting 7 of 8 break point opportunities against Vera (Vera: 3 of 6). match stats

    Dinara said: "I think I was more aggressive today than previous matches. I think I was going a little bit more for my shots than [Vera] was going, and I was just really taking all my chances that I had today... I think first set was really, I would say perfect. Second set, I had chances to break her like Love-15, 15-30, there I had to be a little bit more dominate. Still, I think I played a very good game at 5-6 down on her serve, and then I played a solid tiebreak to win the second set." postmatch interview

    Vera said: "I think Dinara was more consistent today than I was. I think she did serve better than I did, so it made the difference... I think the conditions were totally different from previous matches. I think I'm a player who needs lots of time to get used to the conditions. I really felt it was a little bit faster. I felt like, well, we were playing indoors, so it was different. I couldn't really find my rhythm. I felt like the level of my game was a little bit back, like in the beginning of the tournament." postmatch interview

    About playing Serena Williams in the final on Saturday, Dinara said: "[When we played last year in Berlin] it was a clay court. Now it's completely different. I don't know if we're going to play with the roof open, closed. So let's see what's gonna be on Saturday... I played two more times against [Serena]. I hope the mistakes that I did, I will not use next time."

Australian Open, Final, Sat cRL 7:30pm
loser: AUD$1,000,000 = $699,524 US, 1400 points
winner: AUD$2,000,000 = $1,398,428 US, 2000 pts
#2 s2 Serena Williams USA d #3 s3 Dinara Safina RUS 6-0, 6-3 match stats

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Dinara and Serena before the match, Dinara driving a forehand, Serena following a backhand,
Dinara launching a forehand on the run, Serena driving a backhand, and after match point

Australian Open, Doubles Final, Friday cRL 3pm WTA story
losers' prize: AUD$225,000 AU = $157,303 US
winners' prize: AUD$450,000 AU = $314,605 US
*s10 Serena Williams & Venus Williams d s9 Daniela Hantuchova & Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-3

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Serena & Venus (8th GS doubles title, 3rd AO),
and Daniela & Ai, with the hardware and wombat software

Australian Open, Mixed Doubles Final, Sun cRL 4pm
2005 prizes: losers: $51,348 US; winners: $102,697 US
Sania Mirza IND & Mahesh Bhupathi IND d Nathalie Dechy FRA & Andy Ram ISR 6-3, 6-1

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Sania (1st Grand Slam title of any kind) and Mahesh (7th GS XD title);
the pair also reached the AO XD final in 2008

Australian Open, Girls Final, Sat cL m1 1pm AO story
s3 Ksenia Pervak RUS d s5 Laura Robson GBR 6-3, 6-1

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Ksenia and Laura

Australian Open, Girls' Doubles Final, Sat cMCA m1 1pm AO story
s6 Christina McHale USA & Ajla Tomljanovic CRO d Alexandra Krunic SRB & Sandra Zaniewska POL 6-1, 2-6, (10-4)

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Christina and Ajla


Australian Open, Qualifying Finals, Sat Jan 17 10am
qualifier gets 60 points;   losers' prizes:    q1 AUD$2860 = $1999 US 2pts
    q2 AUD$5710 = $3992 US 40pts     q3 AUD$11440 = $7998 US 50pts


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38-year-old former # 4 Kimiko Date during her q1 win over Ksenia Pervak

*#134 Elena Baltacha GBR d #112 Jelena Kostanic Tosic CRO 6-1, 6-3
*#135 Sesil Karatantcheva BUL d #119 Varvara Lepchenko USA 6-4, 6-0
*#162 Kathrin Woerle GER d #122 Anna Lapushchenkova RUS 6-3, 7-6(3)
*#169 Alberta Brianti ITA d #124 Vania King USA 6-3, 7-6(4)
#125 Stephanie Dubois CAN d #127 Urszula Radwanska POL 6-4, 6-4
*#186 Chanelle Scheepers RSA d #126 Stefanie Voegele SUI 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
*#160 Katie O'Brien GBR d #137 Betina Jozami ARG 6-0, 7-6(2)
#143 Julia Schruff GER d #207 Alexandra Panova RUS 7-6(2), 6-4
#147 Viktoriya Kutuzova UKR d #157 Olga Puchkova RUS 7-5, 7-5
#167 Karolina Sprem CRO d #205 Katalin Marosi HUN 6-1, 6-2
#173 Melanie Oudin USA d #190 Lenka Wienerova SVK 6-1, 6-2
#184 Kimiko Date Krumm JPN d #417 Marija Mirkovic AUS 7-5, 6-1

Australian Open, Withdrawals, Non-entries
#9 Maria Sharapova RUS torn right shoulder ligament, recovered but not yet match ready
#20 Katarina Srebotnik SLO left achilles injury
#28 Na Li CHN right knee injury
#37 Bethanie Mattek USA left hip injury
#54 Timea Bacsinszky SUI
#60 Pauline Parmentier FRA illness
#91 Tatiana Perebiynis UKR back injury
#320 (former #12) Tatiana Golovin back pain & inflammation, did not enter
In L'Equipe in November, Tatiana said: "As I haven’t played for almost one year, it is easy to say : 'Golovin is going to retire.' I can tell you now that it is not the case. I still have pain in my back, I don’t practice, but I am still totally hopeful to play again soon. It will be in a few weeks, months or even in one year, but my career is not over."
#868 sr61 Meghann Shaughnessy USA injury, left knee?
#NR (former #1) Lindsay Davenport USA 2nd child underway; Lindsay has withdrawn her name from the WTA rankings

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The 64 doubles teams, arranged in drawsheet order; teams in red have been eliminated:
TOP HALF
s1 Cara Black ZIM & Liezel Huber USA QF
Anna Chakvetadze RUS & Alisa Kleybanova RUS r1
Monique Adamczak AUS & Olivia Rogowska AUS r1
Edina Gallovits ROU & Arantxa Parra Santonja ESP r2
Nicole Kriz AUS & Anna Wishink AUS r1
Alize Cornet FRA & Camille Pin FRA r2
Brittany Sheed AUS & Bryanne Stewart AUS r1
s13 Victoria Azarenka BLR & Vera Zvonareva RUS r3
s9 Daniela Hantuchova SVK & Ai Sugiyama JPN F
Isabella Holland AUS & Sally Peers AUS r1
Vera Dushevina RUS & Olga Savchuk UKR r2
Vania King USA & Sania Mirza IND r1
Iveta Benesova CZE & Barbora Zahlavova Strycova CZE r2
Yung-Jan Chan TPE & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS r1
Agnes Szavay HUN & Elena Vesnina RUS r3
s8 Chia-Jung Chuang TPE & Tiantian Sun CHN r1
s3 Kveta Peschke CZE & Lisa Raymond USA r3
Sara Errani ITA & Karin Knapp ITA r1
Alison Bai AUS & Emelyn Starr AUS r1
Sofia Arvidsson SWE & Natalie Grandin RSA r2
Severine Bremond FRA & Olga Govortsova BLR r1
Nathalie Dechy FRA & Mara Santangelo ITA SF
Julie Ditty USA & Carly Gullickson USA r1
s14 Sorana Cirstea ROU & Monica Niculescu ROU r2
s11 Nuria Llagostera Vives ESP & M J Martinez Sanchez ESP QF
Tyra Calderwood AUS & Shannon Golds AUS r1
Mathilde Johansson FRA & Selima Sfar TUN r1
Akgul Amanmuradova UZB & Tsvetana Pironkova BUL r2
Tamira Paszek AUT & Ipek Senoglu TUR r1
Klaudia Jans POL & Alicja Rosolska POL r2
Eva Hrdinova CZE & Klara Zakopalova CZE r1
s6 Zi Yan CHN & Jie Zheng CHN r3

BOTTOM HALF
s7 Maria Kirilenko RUS & Flavia Pennetta ITA r3
Liga Dekmeijere LAT & Aleksandra Wozniak CAN r1
Sophie Ferguson AUS & Jessica Moore AUS r1
Mervana Jugic-Salkic BIH & Anne Keothavong GBR r2
Shahar Peer ISR & Caroline Wozniacki DEN r1
Alla Kudryavtseva RUS & Ekaterina Makarova RUS r2
Petra Cetkovska CZE & Carla Suarez Navarro ESP r1
s12 Casey Dellacqua AUS & Francesca Schiavone ITA SF
s15 Tatiana Poutchek BLR & Anastasia Rodionova AUS r2
Marta Domachowska POL & Yanina Wickmayer BEL r1
Anna-Lena Groenefeld GER & Patty Schnyder SUI QF
Kristina Barrois GER & Tathiana Garbin ITA r1
Marina Erakovic NZL & Jelena Kostanic Tosic CRO r1
Lucie Safarova CZE & Galina Voskoboeva KAZ r3
Gisela Dulko ARG & Roberta Vinci ITA r2
s4 Alona Bondarenko UKR & Kateryna Bondarenko UKR r1
s5 Samantha Stosur AUS & Rennae Stubbs AUS r3
Jarmila Gajdosova AUS & Kaia Kanepi EST r1
Jill Craybas USA & Tamarine Tanasugarn THA r1
Agnieszka Radwanska POL & Urszula Radwanska POL r2
Petra Kvitova CZE & Magdalena Rybarikova SVK r1
Ayumi Morita JPN & Martina Muller GER r2
Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS & Nadia Petrova RUS r1

s10 Serena Williams USA & Venus Williams USA
s16 Su-Wei Hsieh TPE & Shuai Peng CHN QF
Maret Ani EST & Renata Voracova CZE r1
Ekaterina Dzehalevich BLR & Vladimira Uhlirova CZE r1
Andrea Hlavackova CZE & Lucie Hradecka CZE r2
Mariya Koryttseva UKR & Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ r1
Raquel Kops-Jones USA & Abigail Spears USA r2
Dominika Cibulkova SVK & Virginie Razzano FRA r1
s2 Anabel Medina Garrigues ESP & V Ruano Pascual ESP r3


    (Jan 11, 2009) 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the 2009 Australian Open.
    Maria said: "I am very sorry to announce that I am not going to be able to defend my title at this year’s Australian Open. My shoulder is doing great, but I just started training a few weeks ago and I am just not near the level I need to be to compete at the highest levels." AO story
    The loss of the 2000 ranking points from her 2008 Australian Open title will mean that Maria will likely drop out of the top 10 in the WTA rankings, but remain well within the top 20.
    Maria's torn right shoulder rotator cuff tendon, originally injured last March, was not healing properly by October. So on October 15, Maria had arthroscopic surgery in New York.
    On Dec 30, Maria said: "The procedure was successful and very simple. I left the hospital a few hours after the procedure and flew to my home in Florida for 3 days and then I flew back to Phoenix to start working on my shoulder... Dr. Altcheck thought my recovery would be very fast and he was right. I had full range of motion after 14 days, after 6 weeks I was throwing a football and after 8 weeks I was back on the court where I belong...
    "I am trying to do everything possible to be ready for Australia, but I have promised my doctors, coach and family that I will not rush back. Since I only started practicing 16 days ago... But the great news is that we have taken care of the problem that has been bothering me so much over the last couple of years..." mariasharapova.com

    (Jan 10, 2009) Unfortunately, # 1 Jelena Jankovic, who lost to Venus Williams in their Hong Kong exhibition match on Friday, had to withdraw from her consolation match against Jie Zheng due to stomach flu, which is impairing her preparations for the Australian Open.
    Jelena said: "I have been weak and sick for the last couple of days. I have been trying my best to get on the court but I feel slow, I have no reactions and it has been a struggle for me. My main goal now is to get back on court as soon as possible and get ready for the Australian. I will try and stay optimistic and hope for the best." story

    (Dec 28, 2008) Former WTA # 8 Alicia Molik, who retired after Wimbledon last year, will put her pleasant voice to work as a commentator on Australian Channel 7's coverage of the 2009 Australian Open. Melbourne Herald Sun story

    (May 30, 2007) The Rebound Ace courts used since 1988 for the Australian Open and the events leading up to it will be replaced, beginning in 2008, by a less cushioned surface created by the US company Plexipave, called Plexicushion, which will be installed by Aussie company William Loud. WTA story

from Hard Courts by John Feinstein (pages 47-50):

    Because of the travel involved, the Australian had always been number four on the Grand Slam ladder. But it had been a solid number four. In 1974 Jimmy Connors won his first Grand Slam Title there. That same year, Evonne Goolagong beat Chris Evert in the women's final. A year later, the finals were Newcombe over Connors, and Goolagong over Martina Navratilova.
    But it was getting tougher and tougher to get the players to make the trip to Australia around the Christmas holidays, which was when the tournament was held. Guarantees were beginning to push player income so high that the top players saw no reason to make the trip. Bjorn Borg never played the Australian after 1974. Connors hasn't been back since 1975. Evert didn't go for six straight years after her loss to Goolagong, and Navratilova skipped four years after her loss to Goolagong.
    The tournament deteriorated quickly. Kooyong, the venerable Melbourne tennis club where the tournament was held, was a badly outdated facility. It was overcrowded and the grass was not in good shape. In fact, many players complained that on one side of center court you were actually running uphill to get to the net.
    In 1978 Chris O'Neil beat Betsy Nagelsen in the women's final. The next year Barbara Jordan beat Sharon Walsh. None of these four players ever came close to a Grand Slam final again...

    Philippe Chatrier, the ITF president, was extremely concerned about what he saw in Australia. He had fallen in love with the country on his first trip there as a young sportswriter in 1956. Chatrier knew that the Australian had become a Grand Slam in name only. Brian Tobin, the president of Tennis Australia, knew that, too.

    ...The women had upgraded their half of the tournament in the early eighties by splitting from the men. Chatrier and Tobin together convinced the Men's Tennis Council [the MTC, which controlled men's pro tennis before the ATP] to move the tournament to the last week in November. That helped a little. Then came the matter of talking the women into going back to the old two-week format.
    "The women weren't too keen on that," Tobin said. "By 1980 the top women like Chrissie and Martina were coming here again and they were doing quite well on their own. But we knew to be a true Grand Slam again, we had to be a two-week tournament."
    There were still major problems. Not only was Kooyong an awful facility for a major championship, it was costing Tennis Australia $1 million a year to rent. A new facility was desperately needed, but that would cost, according to estimates, $40 million. Tennis Australia just didn't have that kind of money.

    ...Sitting at his desk one morning, Tobin saw a small story in the paper, which noted that the government of Victoria--the state in which Melbourne is located--was looking for a site to build a new entertainment center. Tobin called John Cain, the premier of Victoria, and asked for a meeting. Perhaps there was some way for the government and Tennis Australia to build a facility together.
    Cain was interested but there was an obvious problem. Grand Slam tennis tournaments were played outdoors; most entertainment events were staged indoors. It was Cain who came up with the solution. "Why not build it with a roof that opens?" he suggested.
    The rest, as they say, is history.
    The land chosen to build the National Tennis Center was Flinders Park... only five minutes from the heart of Melbourne... ground was broken early in 1986. (The projected cost... was about $70 million. Before it was done, the cost was more than $100 million.)

    ...They studied the other three Grand Slam facilities to try to figure out how to build the best possible venue... "We studied the U.S. Open site in order to see what not to do," Tobin said, laughing. They also proposed another date change to the MTC, asking that the tournament be moved to mid-January...

    The MTC approved the calendar change. The last Australian Open at Kooyong was played in January 1987, and when the tennis world arrived in Melbourne the following January, it was clear that the Australian had arrived as a Grand Slam. The stadium seated fifteen thousand, with excellent sight lines everywhere. Most of the seats were in the shade, which helped even on the days when the heat was most unbearable. The women's final that year was completed with the roof closed, when it started to rain after the match had begun. The locker rooms were the roomiest in the world. The walkways were wide, and there were two ministadiums that served as courts 1 and 2. Chatrier called it "the tennis stadium of the twenty-first century."
    With the new dates, everyone came to play. Steffi Graf started her Grand Slam by beating Chris Evert in the women's final... In 1990, Channel 7 would be on the air for about 120 hours during the two-week tournament.
    Most of the country would be watching most of the time.

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