Sunday, 31 July 2011

San Diego here we come!

Vera Zvonareva, Andrea Petkovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Peng Shuai headline the WTA tournament in San Diego, which starts on Monday. The draw reminds me a little of the grass-court tournament in Birmingham but it is slightly stronger with more strength in depth across the line-up of seeds. The top eight seeds all have byes in Round 1; there are two interesting encounters to look out from the array of first round matches.

Roberta Vinci, who has propelled herself in to the top 30 will take on the rising Serbian star, Bojana Jovanovski. Vinci has managed to rise up the rankings with some excellent results on the clay. However she is less dominant on the hard courts and Jovanovski's hard hitting could cause an upset here. The other highlight match is between Maria Kirilenko and Rebecca Marino. Kirilenko has raised her level since Roland Garros after a poor start to the season. However Marino has a huge game and the potential to cause some problems on her favoured hard courts. Ultimately I'm going to go for Kirilenko to sneak through in this one.

Bojana Jovanovski will fancy her chances of a first round upset against Roberta Vinci

Vera Zvonareva will open up against a Qualifier in Round 2 but has a difficult draw. She could meet either Sabine Lisicki or Dominika Cibulkova in the Quarter-finals. Both players have caused her problems in previous matches this year, Cibulkova in fact was victorious in their encounter at Indian Wells. Lisicki's recent form has been excellent and it is hard to look past her at the moment. I would expect her to beat Cibulkova but a match-up with Zvonareva will be interesting after she wasted match points in their 2nd round encounter at Roland Garros.

Vera Zvonareva will be wary of potentially facing Cibulkova or Lisicki in the Quarters

Peng Shuai has been one of the most consistent performers on the tour this year and should progress through to at least the Semis. The number 5 seed, Ana Ivanovic is Peng's seeded quarter-final opponent. However Ivanovic has looked way short of her best form and will face a difficult encounter in Round 2 against either Ayumi Morita or Jelena Dokic. Despite a disappointing performance in Washington, i'm going for the irratic Dokic to come through. Flavia Pennetta is also in this section of this draw and has struggled of late; however I predict she will have a good week back on her favoured hard courts.

Peng has won an astonishing 42 matches on the tour this year

In the bottom half of the draw, the number 2 seed Andrea Petkovic should face Ekaterina Makarova in Round 2. She has a reasonable draw and is seeded to meet Julia Goerges in the Quarters but it is more likely that it will be Maria Kirilenko. Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska are scheduled to meet in the Quarters and I would expect both players to make it there. Hantuchova has been on terrific form of late and was denied by Sharapova in a three set tussle in Stanford. Radwanska could face Jarmila Gajdosova in Round 3, who she lost to in Madrid earlier this year. However I would expect Radwanska to come through in a tournament that she thrived in last year reaching the final. Despite her recent mental lapses, Radwanska played some of her better tennis of the year in Stanford and looked to be playing with more aggression, which is the way she has to go if she is to progress.

Petkovic is the number 2 seed and should do well this week

Its especially difficult this week predicting a winner. Peng and Radwanska are so consistent but its hard to see either of them winning the title and Petkovic can still throw in a bad performance here and there. I think the winner will come from the top quarter and at this moment in time, i'm going to go with Lisicki. My record of predictions has been poor lately so i hope i haven't cursed Sabine this week! However I just couldn't go against her after i've championed her so much!

Quarter-final Predictions:

I'm not going for any big upsets this week after my disappointing predictions for Stanford!

Round 1 Punts - Jovanovski to beat Vinci (6/4) and Marino to beat Kirilenko (2/1)

Predicted Winner - Sabine Lisicki

Stanford Update - Serena in devastating form

It was a disappointing day at Stanford as one semi-final did not play and the other was a one-sided affair. Serena Williams destroyed Sabine Lisicki with a commanding 6-1 6-2 victory. The match bear many similarities with her dominating victory over Sharapova as Lisicki was outclassed and served poorly throughout. It is great to see Serena back to form but its so disappointing to see two of the Wimbledon semi-finals totally outclassed. I would love to see Serena take on the Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova over the next couple of months; I feel Kvitova is one of the few players who feels no fear with whoever she is facing on the other side of the net.

Serena will now take on Marion Bartoli in the final who received a walkover after Dominika Cibulkova pulled out with an abdominal injury. Bartoli has only played 3 sets to reach the final and will face a tough test to beat Serena. However she managed to do it at Wimbledon and I think she will fare better than Sharapova and Lisicki, but ultimately Serena should take the title and confirm her place back in the top 100.

Serena is now the favourite for the title - 6-3 6-4 is my prediction

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Stanford Quarters - Sabine still going strong

Sabine Lisicki continued her rich vein of form with a hard fought 7-6 2-6 6-2 victory over the number 5 seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. It was the first match of the hard court season I have managed to watch (well only the first set!) and it was of a pretty high standard. Lisicki was kept in the first set by her serve, which is easily one of the best serves on the tour and is such a huge weapon at her disposal. She made quite a lot of errors in the first set including several mistakes in her judgement by trying to play drop shots against the agile Radwanska. I was impressed by Radwanska who exhibited a touch more aggression than usual and played some lovely stuff at the net. She was much more comfortable at the net than Lisicki who often looked awkward and made some poor errors.

I'm already running out of Lisicki photos ;)

The problem with Radwanska is her mentality and "choking" capabilities as she could not close out the first set whilst serving at 5-4. It is becoming an all to familiar problem for both Radwanska's and is something that has to change if Agnieszka is going to climb back into the top 10. By all accounts, Lisicki's serve went walkabouts in the second set but she regained it to comfortably close out the match in the third set. You always got the sense that Lisicki would control the final outcome of the match because of her powerful, yet irratic game against the more consistent and grinding nature of Radwanska; this time she managed to do it in her favour.

Radwanska's mentality is still a question after she blew more golden chances in this match.

Lisicki will now play Serena Williams, who produced a superb performance to silence the screams of Maria Sharapova in a disappointing and anticlimatic, 6-1 6-3 drubbing. I was really disappointed I couldn't watch the match but from reading on the forums, I didn't seem to miss much! Sharapova continues to struggle with the serve and in her post match interview she claimed that she was late on the ball and was out with her timing. Serena looks in devastating form and will now face the in-form Lisicki in what is an interesting semi-final.

Serena was in devastating form as she destroyed Sharapova in Stanford

In the other semi-final, Marion Bartoli will take on Dominika Cibulkova. Bartoli only had to play one set as Morita had to retire with a worrying ankle injury after losing the first set by six games to one. Cibulkova progressed with a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory over Marina Erakovic, which was all the more impressive considering Erakovic had defeated the number 1 seed, Victoria Azarenka in the previous round. I am now predicting a Williams v Bartoli final after my previous predictions have been completely blown out the water! However I will be cheering on Sabine and hope she can give Serena a better contest than Sharapova managed last night...

Can Dominika win her first WTA tour title this week?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Changes to the blog!

I have updated my blog today to try and make it look a bit prettier! I am now using all my own photos from all my tennis trips over the last couple of years and I will be adding polls to the blog so please feel free to join in with your opinions :) The first polls are asking who you think will win the US Open! At this moment in time, I'm going for Djokovic in the Mens and i'm wavering in the women's between Sharapova and Azarenka; however i'm sure my opinions will change over the next month. I am hoping to keep up with the blogs during the summer and throughout the US Open. Enjoy :)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Stanford Update - Lisicki leaps into the Quarters

The Quarter-final line-up was completed on a day of surprises at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. Sabine Lisicki completed a superb straight sets win over Sam Stosur, 6-3 7-5. Lisicki had in fact been installed as the favourite with the bookmakers before the match despite being the lower ranked player and holding a 0-4 head-to-head record to Stosur. However she turned the tables on that as she continued her fantastic recent run of form. She faced just one break point, which she saved in what was a dominant serving display. Next up for Lisicki is Agniezska Radwanska who should fall by the wayside if Lisicki's recent exploits are anything to go by.

Lisicki has continued her superb form from the grass court season

The biggest upset of the day was the defeat of the number 1 seed, Victoria Azarenka who went down to the qualifier from New Zealand, Marina Erakovic. Azarenka took the first set 6-4 but Erakovic hung in to take the second set 7-5 and then broke twice in the third set to complete the victory. Azarenka took to twitter after the match to proclaim that she played a terrible match but I think some credit should go to Erakovic who like Lisicki, is showing some top form after being blighted with injury. This once again destroys my predictions as my winner has gone early! Erakovic will now play Dominika Cibulkova in the Quarters.

Serena Williams also reached the Quarter-finals but was less impressive than her first round performance as she dropped the middle set but eventually rebounded to defeat Maria Kirilenko in 3 sets. Serena was disappointed with her performance but she is obviously still shy of match practice and as long as she is winning at the moment, that is all that matters. She will now play Maria Sharapova in an enticing Quarter-final encounter. Its a hard one to call but i'm going to go for Sharapova.

Serena Williams will now play Maria Sharapova in one of the most anticipated matches of the 2011 season

The final quarter-finalist is Ayumi Morita who fought off match points against the wobbly, Urzsula Radwanska to win 4-6 7-5 6-1. Radwanska was playing some fine tennis but is starting to become labelled as a "choker" as she let slip a seemingly comfortable lead at 6-4 5-2 up. She then rolled her ankle at the end of the second set and stormed off the court in anger. Morita completed the win with a solid showing in the third set; the Japanese number 1 will now take on Marion Bartoli in the Quarters where I expect Bartoli to progress.

Predictions: Bartoli to beat Morita in 2 sets, Lisicki to beat Radwanska in 2 sets, Erakovic to beat Cibulkova in 2 sets and Sharapova to beat Serena in 3 sets

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Stanford Update - Bartoli and Cibulkova progress

Dominika Cibulkova, Marion Bartoli, Agniezska Radwanska and Maria Sharapova all moved into the Quarter-finals of Stanford. Cibulkova completed a difficult 6-4 2-6 6-3 victory over Christina Mchale. Mchale led 3-1 in the third set but could not pull her advantage through against the Slovakian. I have been particularly impressed with Mchale of late and fancied an upset in this match. I remember watching her play against Jelena Jankovic earlier this year in Charleston and despite a rather heavy defeat, I was impressed with her game and she seemed a good tactician on the court. The issue for me is whether she has the mental strength. There have been quite a few episodes where she has shown some wobbles; most notably wasting a 5-1 third set lead to Sara Errani in her first round match at Roland Garros this year.

Cibulkova eventually came through against the dangerous Mchale

Cibulkova will now play either Victoria Azarenka or Marina Erakovic in the next round. Cibulkova has produced some big wins this year but her all-out attack game leaves her vulnerable when shes not hitting her A-game. Yesterday was a postive sign that she managed to pull through when she was not playing at her best. In the second match of the day, Bartoli produced a strong performance to beat the talented, Rebecca Marino. This was another match where I expected an upset but as per usual, I was proved wrong! Bartoli has been really impressive of late and I must say she has really grown on me. The constant "allez" shouting during her matches can get frustrating, but she appears very sweet in her interviews and I really like her relationship with her father. I hope she continue her good form over the next couple of weeks.

Bartoli squared up her head-to-head against Marino with a victory last night

In the third and fourth matches, Radwanska and Sharapova came through three setters. Radwanska lost the middle set to Kai-Chen Chang but eventually came through 6-4 3-6 6-0. Her next match against Stosur or Lisicki will be much tougher and one I don't expect her to win. Sharapova managed to avenge a 2-0 third set deficit to Daniela Hantuchova to win 6-2 2-6 6-4. Hantuchova has really raised her game this year and will be heartened to push Sharapova to a third set. However she lacked the power to beat Sharapova who will now be eyeing up a potential quarter-final with Serena Williams.

Sharapova progressed through to the Quarters after a difficult match with Hantuchova

In tonight's matches, the highlight match will be between Sabine Lisicki and Sam Stosur. Lisicki was mightily impressive in her opening 6-1 6-2 win over Simona Halep and I anticipate her to cause an upset here. Serena and Azarenka should have little problems in overcoming their opponents, meanwhile the match between Ayumi Morita and Urszula Radwanska promises to be tight; however i'm sticking with Morita to follow up her impressive victory over Ana Ivanovic.

The bookies actually have Lisicki as the favourite to win tonight despite a 0-4 head-to-head with Stosur

Sunday, 24 July 2011

WTA Washington and a host of ATP tournies!

This week is a packed line-up of tennis on both the WTA and ATP tours. We have the inaugural tournament in Washington, which is headlined by Shahar Peer and Nadia Petrova. It is not a fantastic draw but it has much more strength in depth than the lopsided draw from Baku last week. Peer and Petrova open up against qualifiers meanwhile the number three seed and Wimbledon Quarter-finalist, Tamira Paszek opens up against Melanie Oudin and Jelena Dokic takes on Zhang Shuai.

Shahar Peer is the number 1 seed in Washington

Several names to look out for include Varvara Lepchenko who has been improving in leaps and bounds this year. The highlight of the year was a 1st round upset of Flavia Pennetta at Roland Garros and she is on my prediction cards to reach the Semis! I also fancy Jie Zheng to do well here... as much as I believe Bojana Jovanovski (a projected 2nd round opponent) will be a big future star in the game, she like too many players is blighted with inconsistency. Overall, it is a difficult one to call but i'm going to go with the form book and go for the third seed, Tamira Paszek to triumph.

Tamira Paszek is my tip to win the inaugural tournament in Washington

The top mens tournament this week is in Los Angeles although to be honest the draw is quite disappointing. Mardy Fish is the number 1 seed and is coming off the back of a superb week in Atlanta. The number two seed is Juan Martin Del Potro who has slowly been edging his way back to top form. I fancy Del Potro to really explode through the next few months and into the US Open and he is my prediction to win this title.

Del Potro is the 6/5 favourite to win with the bookmakers and my tip for the title

The remainder of the draw is of a relatively low calibre - Marcos Baghdatis and Thomasz Bellucci round out the top 4 seeds and both receive first round byes. However I predict neither will make it past the Quarters. Ryan Harrison and Giles Muller both had good weeks in Atlanta and willl be ones to watch out for this week.

Fernando Gonzalez who has fallen to number 297 in the world rankings continues his comeback this week and will fancy his chances to cause an upset against the number 7 seed, Igor Kunitsyn. Dmitry Tursunov also looks to have a good draw and should reach the Semis to play Mardy Fish. In the bottom half, the talented Grigor Dimitrov opens up against Tommy Haas in an intriguing match-up. Dimitrov has been especially disappointing in the last two weeks and will look to live up to his number 7 seeding this week by reaching at least the Quarters.

Grigor Dimitrov will hope to change his recent fortunes

There are also two clay court tournaments in Gstaad and Umag. Gstaad sees the likes of Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco, Stanislas Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny compete in what is an impressive line-up. I believe it will actually be another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez who could go all the way. Juan Ignacio Chela headlines the tournament in Croatia with his biggest contenders likely to be Marin Cilic, Alexander Dolgopolov and Ivan Ljubicic.

Round 1 Tips:
Washington - Shvedova to beat Baltacha (11/8)
Los Angeles - Berrer to beat Blake (11/4)
Gstaad - Benneteau to beat Rosol (6/5)

Bye Bye Wimbledon blues, Hello Stanford :)

Its exactly 3 weeks since the end of Wimbledon and I have been in mourning for most of that time! But finally, we have some significant tennis on the horizon as the US Open Series begins tomorrow with a stellar line-up returning to action in Stanford. Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova who contested the final last year are the top two seeds. Azarenka has been handed by far the easier draw as Sharapova will have to battle her way past both Daniela Hantuchova and Serena Williams just to reach the semi-finals.

Maria Sharapova could face Daniela Hantuchova in Round 2

The unseeded Serena Williams will remain a threat throughout the next couple of months; however this week she has avoided the big names and will play the fiesty, Anastasia Rodionova in Round 1. The number three seed, Marion Bartoli is coming off a fantastic European swing and should be back to peak fitness after several weeks rest. She will face either Rebecca Marino or Coco Vandeweghe in Round 2; the former could be a potentially tricky opener to her campaign as Marino is a player I am tipping to be a big future star. Marino won their only encounter last year in Quebec and handily, 6-3 6-1.

Serena is back in action this week

The number 4 seed, Sam Stosur also has a tough draw and will be concerned that her doubles partner, Sabine Lisicki could be her second round opponent. I will be interested to see if Lisicki, a self-confessed grass court lover can transform her form to the hard courts. Agnieszka Radwanska, Julia Goerges, Ana Ivanovic and Dominika Cibulkova round out the remaining seeds. Radwanska has a very straightforward draw to the Quarters but to be honest, just doesn't stand a chance of going all the way with the big hitters in the draw. Goerges has a tough opener against Maria Kirilenko and I ultimately believe she will be unstuck here. Goerges is still remarkably inexperienced and is riding off the back of two superb clay court performances. She is yet to truly prove her mettle in the field of consistency.

Its an excellent draw this week in Stanford with some dangerous names lurking - potentially we could see a blockbuster quarter-final between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, which would be mightily interesting on so many different levels. For the title, I'm going to go for Azarenka to repeat her triumph of last year. She's in the easier half of the draw and shes proven over the last couple of months that she is a tough competitor on the tour.

Azarenka is my tip to win this week

Predicted QF line-up:

Predicted Winner: Victoria Azarenka

Top 1st round tip: Kirilenko to beat Goerges (5/4 with most bookmakers)

NEXT - Preview of WTA Washington and the ATP tournaments sooooon!

Friday, 22 July 2011

WTA Baku Update

It's been a pretty uneventful week in Baku so far. On a positive note, I managed to predict 5 of the 8 quarter-finalists correctly but Pavlyuchenkova has now destroyed my predictions with her quarter-final defeat today :( Oh well!

Pavlyuchenkova has struggled all week on her serve; today she served up an incredible 27 double faults in her 7-6 4-6 3-6 defeat to Galina Voskoboeva. She posted on twitter that she had changed her serve. This seemed a surprise to me because she has an already excellent serve although the second serve could do with some work like many of the WTA players. After the struggles she has faced all week, she has suggested she will now return to her old serve.

Pavlyuchenkova is one of the most talented players on the tour but she often blows hot and cold. It seems to be most apparent against lesser ranked opponents as she is often forced into tight matches as she seems to suffer from losses of concentration. In the end, her quality does normally shine through.

If you lay Anastasia's weapons out on the table then she is easily a top 5 player. For example, I remember watching her second round match in Madrid against Marion Bartoli - she started the match pretty poorly and was down 5-2 and set point. However she suddenly kicked into gear and ended up winning 7-5 6-1. I would say it ranked in one of the top 3 most impressive performances I have watched from any woman this year. She played an incredible match from 5-2 down and hit a ton of winners as she totally took apart the Bartoli game. She hits the ball hard but its so controlled and reminds me of Serena Williams. I just hope she can push forward because I feel she has plateaued of late. Its good to see she is trying to improve areas of game however I am not sure radically rehauling the serve is the way to go.

Another notable mention goes to Ksenia Pervak who has had another successful week despite my prediction of an early exit! She has put some good results together since Wimbledon and has been moving steadily up the rankings. I remember reading some negative comments on a forum about her game following a match in Bad Gastein earlier this month. I'm yet to actually watch her play so I will wait until then to make my own judgement!

The semi-finals will see Vera Zvonareva take on Mariya Koryttseva and Ksenia Pervak play Galina Voskoboeva. You would have to be brave to put your money on anyone other than Zvonareva to take the title...

Saturday, 16 July 2011

WTA Baku Preview

This is always my least favourite part of the tennis season after the excitement of Wimbledon as many of the top players take a well earnt rest from competing. This week, a new WTA tournament is being staged in Baku, Azerbaijan. There have been a few new tournaments added to the circuit this year, notably in Brussels the week before the French Open. The one in Brussels managed to attract a stellar field; however the one in Baku has been blighted with withdrawals. Vera Zvonareva and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are the top two seeds (and the only players in the draw in the world's top 30) and will fancy their chances of scooping the title.

Zvonareva opens up against Nigina Abduraimova and has other notable unknown names such as Arefyeva and Khrisanova in her section of the draw. Under closer inspection, these three names all reside outside the top 250. Pavlyuchenkova has a much trickier draw with a first round match-up against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, who has hit a rich vein of form in the last two weeks. This has included a run to the final in Bad Gastein where she handed a double bagel to Ksenia Pervak in a 49-minute semi-final encounter.

Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova are the number three and four seeds, respectively. Vesnina opens up against a qualifier before a potential 2nd round encounter with Aravane Rezai, who remains a threat despite her woeful recent form. Makarova often struggles against lesser opponents and I would fancy her to fall early; Kateryna Bondarenko has hit some good form of late and will be a difficult opponent in round 2.

The number six seed, Elena Baltacha looks to have a good draw and should push on from a solid grass court season. The remaining seeds I would all fancy to be knocked out before their seeding. The number 7 seed, Ksenia Pervak has shown some real promise in recent weeks, including a 4th round run at Wimbledon but still continues to blow hot and cold at times. The number 5 seed, Monica Niculescu is a crafty player but she could face Galina Voskoboeva in round 2 who has had some solid results this year. The number 8 seed, Evgeny Rodina has a difficult first round match with Anna Tatishvili, who should knock out the seed.

Overall its a disappointing line-up before the real action starts next week in Stanford. I am predicting that Pavlyuchenkova will win this week. She struggled during the grass court season but back on the hard courts, I expect her to push through with the potential she has shown in her short career so far. On another note, I was extremely sad to hear the news that Alisa Kleybanova is battling cancer. She is one of my favourite players and I enjoy watching her hard-hitting baseline tennis. I wish her all the best for a speedy recovery and hope to see her playing tennis again soon. Its really nice to see the support she is getting from all her fellow tennis players on twitter.

Round 1 top tip: Savinykh to beat Yakimova at 6/4 with most bookmakers
Predictions for the Quarters:
K Bondarenko/Baltacha
A Bondarenko/Vesnina

Predicted winner: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Blogging for the hard courts!

The excitement of the grass court season has passed and now the attention turns to the US summer hard court season. I plan to start blogging again next week with all my thoughts, opinions and predictions on the daily going ons in the tennis world :) The women are in Azerbaijan for a new tournament and the men start off in Atlanta as we begin the road towards the US Open...

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Trip to Wimbledon and No.1 Court - Part 3

We joined the match between Tsonga and Dimitrov midway during the first set. The end of the first set was completely serve dominated; Tsonga looked slightly off colour as he struggled to get anywhere near Dimitrov's booming serves. The first set went into a tiebreak and it was Tsonga who was the first to crack. A double fault followed by an unforced error handed the initiative to Dimitrov. Dimitrov wasted one set point with a wild and ambitious error but at the next opportunity, he raised his game to claim the first set.

Dimitrov on set point in the first set

Grigor Dimitrov is just 20 years old and has been tipped as the new Roger Federer. He has a solid game including a huge serve and delightful one-handed backhand. He started the match showing some of this potential; however Tsonga started to impose himself more on the match and put Dimitrov under increasing pressure in the second set. Tsonga started to read the Dimitrov serve much better and managed to convert a break point at 2-1. At this point, the heavens opened and we had our first substantial rain delay of the day.

Tsonga started to impose himself more in the 2nd set

We hurried off court to shelter from the rain and decided to find a TV under Centre Court so we could watch some of the match between Sabine Lisicki against Li Na. I had my fingers and toes crossed that Sabine could pull off the shock win that I had predicted! It was difficult to be so close to the action yet to have to watch it on a TV. We also knew who had won each point before it finished on the TV because we could hear the applause from centre court! The first set was a rather uninspiring serve dominated affair and it was Sabine who blinked first dropping the first set, 6-3.

As I came to terms with the fact that Sabine was heading to an early exit, the voice of Wimbledon informed us that play was ready to start on all the other courts. We headed back to No. 1 court where Tsonga was continuing to gather momentum as he held off the resistance of the dogged Dimitrov to claim the 2nd set, 6-4. The third set was also close but it was Tsonga who got the crucial break. Dimitrov was still fighting well with Tsonga from the back of the court and never looked liked giving in.

Dimitrov was behind in the score but always remained in contention

The quality of the match was constantly improving as the skies darkened overhead. There was one fabulous rally of note where Tsonga was forced to race into the net and ended on Dimitrov's side of the net. They shook hands following the rally, which received a rapturous applause from the crowd. After Tsonga grabbed the third set, the excitement raised by several levels. Dimitrov took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Tsonga to race into a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, at this point we were hit by another rain delay. This officially extinguished any hopes that we would get the Robson Sharapova match :(

The Tsonga Dimitrov match was strongly affected by the weather!

During the 2nd and 3rd sets of the Tsonga match, we got updates of Sabine's match on the scoreboard. I was delighted to see she managed to pull through in the second set but my heart dropped when I noticed Li was serving for the match in the third set. With the rain delay, the updates had stopped and we hurried out to a scoreboard underneath Court No.1 to find out the result.

To my shock, Lisicki had managed to get back in the match and Li was serving at 6-7 down in the third set. We watched the numbers update and before we knew it, Sabine had 2 match points... but they quickly disappeared! This gave me a moment of deja vu because Lisicki had held 2 match points in the French Open 2nd round against Vera Zvonareva before being defeated. But another match point came and a tick finally appeared next to Sabine's name!!! I was so happy that Sabine had won... cue total jubilation! I think I may have got a few strange looks as I celebrated and ran off in excitement!!!!!

We headed back to the main scoreboard just by Centre Court to check the other scores and to decide whether to go home or not! The rain had eased off but it would obviously take some time to dry the courts. As we pondered, Sabine's dad walked past us! He looked extremely happy as he had just come from the player's box on Centre Court and was probably heading to meet his daughter! Finally, an announcement came that the play was to resume shortly so we rushed back to No.1 court to enjoy the final set and what a set it was...

Tsonga managed to break back immediately following the resumption of play and looked to finally have broken the resistance of Dimitrov as he broke once more to serve for the match. However Tsonga couldn't close the match out. He appeared to rush on his match points as he tried to serve and volley but Dimitrov had his head screwed on to produce a clinical passing winner. Tsonga also tried rushing into the net during another rally but his eagerness was unsuccessful. After several more wasted match points including a double fault, Tsonga succumbed to the break and Dimitrov levelled the scores in the 4th set.

Tsonga was left to ponder the wasted match points

Dimitrov held with ease at 5-5 to put the the pressure back on Tsonga. He was obviously still affected by the wasted match points and was forced to save a set point. Thankfully for Tsonga, Dimitrov's calm deserted him as he flashed a wild error past Tsonga. Tsonga somehow managed to scrape through the game and force the fourth set into an epic tiebreak.

Dimitrov wasted a set point on Tsonga's service game at 6-5 in the fourth set

Tsonga quickly gained the advantage in the tiebreak and earnt some more match points. However Tsonga seemed to choke once again as Dimitrov fought back with a dogged determination that earnt a huge deal of respect from the No.1 court crowd. The two players were gripped in a hugely entertaining battle that had totally enravelled in front of an engrossed audience. After Tsonga wasted two more match points, Dimitrov mistakenly came into the net as Tsonga produced a clinical pass. Tsonga finally managed to close out the match after another absorbing passage of play. The ball hit the net forcing Dimitrov to race into the net but he slipped on the wet grass and was unable to get near to Tsonga's winning shot.

Tsonga was eager to finish the match off

Tsonga was elated but Dimitrov lay dejected on the grass. Tsonga jumped over the net and helped Dimitrov up in a superb act of sportsmanship. The two players embraced to a huge standing ovation on No.1 Court. We also got another shot of Tsonga's celebration which was even more exciting following the epic win! It was strange at the end to see Dimitrov stay and sign autographs whilst Tsonga raced off the court to surprised murmurs from the crowd; however it did not take anything away from a superbly dramatic ending to the second round match.

A triumphant Tsonga (For some reason, it doesn't like my pictures!)

Tsonga helped Dimitrov up in a great moment of sportsmanship

Tsonga and Dimitrov embrace

The Tsonga celebration... AGAIN!!!!

All in all, it was one of the best ever days we have had at Wimbledon. I had had four fantastic days at the tennis during the grass court season and felt thoroughly sad as we boarded the bus and waved off Wimbledon for another year. Hopefully I will get lucky next year in the ballot and get the chance to experience the magic of Wimbledon again ;)