Heather shines, Verdasco and Cilic start slow

Here is a round-up of what has happened so far in the first week of tennis in 2011…

Hopman Cup
After two sets of group games, Serbia and USA both look poised to reach the final. Disappointingly, Robson and Murray lost their second round match today losing a one-sided mixed doubles to the French pairing of Mladenovic and Mahut to officially end their chances of reaching the next round. Tomorrow will see an enticing clash between Justine Henin and Ana Ivanovic which could give a good indication of where both lie in their chances for the Australian Open. Ivanovic has shown a rise in confidence and form since the end of last season, however her serve still looks shaky and she is yet to really prove herself against the top players. Henin, coming back from injury has produced two solid wins but again, has yet to be tested.

WTA Auckland
Auckland has seen a number of youngsters shine this week in Auckland. The biggest surprise has seen Heather Watson reach her first WTA Quarter-Final after a superb 7-6 6-1 victory over Suarez Navarro. She has made a stunning start to the season and is yet to lose a set in Auckland. She will next play Peng Shuai who caused an upset as she took her chances against Kuznetsova. Wickmayer overcame Safina in a high quality opener and then fought past the rejuvenated Sabine Lisicki, in a 3 set victory. She is joined in the QF’s by Greta Arn, who saved 5MP’s against Sofia Arvidsson and Simona Halep who progressed against Vesnina, who retired at 4-0 down in the final set. Sharapova, Goerges and Bondarenko make up the remaining QF spots.

WTA Brisbane
There have been a number of shocks in Brisbane as the top three seeds have all been tumbled out. Jarmilla Groth pulled off a stunning 6-2 6-4 win over a stunned Stosur, Peer wasted a MP as she went down in 3 sets to Lucie Safarova and Petrova fell at the first hurdle for the second consecutive year as she was beaten by Wimbledon semi-finalist, Petra Kvitova. These three winners are joined in the QF’s by Marion Bartoli, A-Pav and Andrea Petkovic; the latter has been in crushing form by progressing to the QF’s for the loss of just 4 games. Zahlavova Strycova and Cibulkova complete the QF line-up where Groth v Petkovic looks to be the most exciting of the Quarters.

ATP Brisbane
Andy Roddick stormed into the QF’s today with a convincing win over Alexander Dolgopolov. However it was a difficult start to the season for Verdasco who opened with a disappointing loss. Baghdatis has also marched into QF’s without too many problems and is joined by Kevin Anderson who looks to continue on from his excellent 2010.

ATP Chennai
The big shock in Chennai saw Marin Cilic start the season just where he left 2010 in lacking confidence as he lost another tight one to Kei Nishikori in Round 1. Cilic has demonstrated the quality he possesses in his game; however confidence seems to have evaded his game at present. Tomas Berdych has made a strong start to the season with two comfortable victories to reach the QF; however he will not be joined by Gasquet who suffered a disappointing 3 set loss to Bjorn Phau.

ATP Doha
Both Federer and Nadal progressed to the QF’s with hard fought wins as six of the eight seeds progressed before Davydenko took on Niemenen in the evening. Federer fought off Chiudinelli in two tight sets, meanwhile Nadal suffered a shocking second set bagel to Lukas Lacko but was able to turn it around in the third set. Tsonga, Troicki, Garcia-Lopez and Gulbis have all looked extremely impressive with easy victories today; it was especially pleasing to see Tsonga make a confident return following a frustrating end to the 2010 season. Nadal will now face a testing encounter with Gulbis, meanwhile the promising Troicki will face off against Federer in what will be close matches. Tsonga will take on the exciting Garcia-Lopez in what is a stellar QF line-up.

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