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USTA FL Friday Blog: Serena v Sharapova Friday; More

January 2, 2014 10:26 PM
The '80s are back
Men's tennis has gone back to the '80s, but without the bad hair. A rash of men's stars from the '80s took coaching positions during the off-season, following the lead of Ivan Lendl who led his charge Andy Murray to a first Grand Slam title in 2013. Now you have Boris Becker coaching Novak Djokovic, Stefan Edberg coaching Roger Federer, Michael Chang coaching Kei Nishikori, as well as Goran Ivanisevic coaching Marin Cilic, and Sergi Bruguera working with Richard Gasquet. Add to those the earlier 2013 couplings of Milos Raonic and former No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic, and Nicolas Almagro and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, and it looks like the men's locker room at the Australian Open in a week's time will boast more talent than stadium court. "I'm happy to see former greats and legends excited to be doing such a job and wanting to help the next generation and it brings them back into the game," Federer said. "I think it's a good thing, I think in tennis we have tendency to, I won't say drive out, our legends and former greats -- I think we should integrate them more."

Two high-profile tennis couplings happened during the holidays. Former University of Florida player and pro Ryan Sweeting married "The Big Bang Theory" actress Kaley Cuoco after six months of dating, tying the knot on New Year's Eve. "Last night I married my sweetheart :) life couldn't be sweeter," Cuoco wrote on Twitter. The wedding featured a cake hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier.
Kaley Cuoco and Ryan Sweeting
Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki used Twitter to announce her engagement to golfer boyfriend Rory Mcllroy, as the two were engaged on New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia, where Wozniacki is preparing for the Australian Open. Mcllroy on Twitter referred to it as "My first victory of 2014 #shesaidyes!!" The two have been dating since 2011.


American women remain alive at all three WTA tour events this week entering Friday play.

Top-seeded Serena Williams moved into the semifinals on Thursday at the Brisbane International in Australia with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Dominika Cibukova, setting up a blockbuster meeting with No. 3 seed and fellow Florida resident Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova in her semifinal edged unseeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Serena has won her last 13 meetings with Sharapova dating to 2005.

"Well, I think I got to win a few times in order to call it rivalry," Sharapova said of her meetings with Serena. "I haven't had a lot of success against her. It's the first tournament of the year. I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and obviously wanting to play the best."


The other Brisbane semi will see No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 4 Jelena Jankovic in a battle of former No. 1s.

Serena's older sister Venus is into the semifinals at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, where on Friday she will meet fellow American and No. 5 seed Jamie Hampton. Hampton gained the semis after a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over fellow American Lauren Davis. The other semifinal in Auckland will see No. 2 Ana Ivanovic vs. No. 3 Kirsten Flipkens.

American veteran Vania King followed up an upset of No. 1 seed Sara Errani earlier in the week with a 6-2, 6-4 win over fellow unseeded player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Thursday at the Shenzhen Open in China. In the Friday semifinals she will meet No. 5 seed Peng Shuai.



12:30am - WTA Brisbane (live), Tennis Channel
6pm - WTA Auckland (delay), Tennis Channel

4am - WTA Brisbane final (live), Tennis Channel
2pm - ATP Brisbane (delay), Tennis Channel
6pm - WTA Auckland (delay), Tennis Channel

2pm - ATP Chennai final (delay), Tennis Channel
8pm - Hopman Cup final (delay), Tennis Channel

The USTA Florida Friday blog is written by USTA Florida Communications Coordinator Rick Vach, former publications editor for the ATP World Tour, editor/publisher of International Tennis and Play Tennis Florida magazine, and award-winning contributor to Tennis Week magazine. Got feedback, want a USTA or tennis-related question answered in the blog, or want to express your opinion? E-mail HERE.






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