Stats & Info: Tennis

Top stats to know: Nadal vs Federer

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
7:40
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Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has consistently gotten the better of Roger Federer.
There have been plenty of upsets at the Australian Open this year, but the result is that tennis fans will get to see a classic matchup between two all-time greats when Roger Federer takes on Rafael Nadal in the second men’s semifinal. Here are four things you need to know about tonight’s match.

History favors Nadal
Andy Murray and Nadal are the only active players to have a winning record against Federer, among those who played him multiple times. Though Murray’s edge is slim at 11 wins to 10, Nadal has dominated Federer by winning 22 of 32 meetings.

This will be the 11th meeting between the two at a Grand Slam, tied for the most in the Open era (Federer and Nadal have each played Novak Djokovic 11 times as well). Nadal has eight wins against Federer in those 10 previous Grand Slam matches, winning each of their past five meetings on the big stage.

Federer’s drought-ending recipe?
Federer has gone five Grand Slams without winning a title. Since winning his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003, the only longer Grand Slam title drought he has suffered through was nine straight from the 2010 French Open to the 2012 French Open.

Federer ended that skid by winning the 2012 Wimbledon title when he knocked off the No. 1 seed in Djokovic and also beat Murray along the way.

It could be a little deja vu for Fed since he has already topped Murray and is now facing the No. 1 seed in Nadal.

Nadal’s blister
One storyline that can’t be overlooked is the blister on Nadal’s hand that he has gotten treatment for the past couple of matches.

In the quarterfinals against Grigor Dimitrov, Nadal committed seven double faults, four more than in his previous four matches combined.

Even more concerning than the increase in double faults by Nadal was a significant velocity drop on his first serves. During his first four matches, Nadal’s average first serve speed ranged between 111 and 115 mph. Against Dimitrov he averaged 104 mph.

Who is currently playing better?
Both Federer and Nadal have dropped only one set this tournament. However Nadal has played two fewer as the result of his first-round opponent Bernard Tomic withdrawing after one set.

Nadal has been the more accurate server, putting in 71 percent of first serves, but Federer has the better winners-to-errors ratio.

The chart on the right offers a complete run through of their numbers throughout this tournament.

So what does it all mean? Tune in at 3:30 a.m. ET to find out.

Federer no longer a Grand Slam guarantee

September, 2, 2013
9/02/13
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It was another stunning defeat for Roger Federer at a Grand Slam event, this one to No. 19 seed Tommy Robredo.

Let’s put the loss in the appropriate historical perspective:

This marks the first year since 2002 that Federer will not reach a Grand Slam Final. It’s the first time he’s failed to reach the quarterfinals of back-to-back Grand Slams since the 2003 Australian Open and French Open.

This is the first time Federer has lost in straight sets in a grand slam before the quarterfinals since the 2004 French Open, when he lost in straight sets in the third round to Gustavo Kuerten.

It’s the first time since 2003 that he failed to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

Since his last US Open win in 2008, Federer has been eliminated earlier in the tournament every year. He was knocked out in the 2009 Finals, lost in the semis in 2010 and 2011, then lost in the quarterfinals last year.

Federer had previously been unbeaten against Robredo, but lost to him for the first time in 11 matches. Robredo won a Round of 16 match at the U.S. Open for the first time in eight tries.

Murray the one to thwart Djokovic's serve

July, 7, 2013
7/07/13
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Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
Andy Murray had a lot to be excited about in his victory.

It was a long time coming for Andy Murray, who finally won his first Wimbledon. Let’s run through some of the highlights of his victory on Sunday morning over Novak Djokovic.

The champ
Murray became the first Gentleman from Great Britain to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray has now won two of the last three Grand Slams he’s played, with both wins being over Djokovic.

Murray joined Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Lleyton Hewitt as the fifth active player with multiple Grand Slam titles.

It was Murray’s 18th straight grass-court match win. He’s 8-11 vs Djokovic, but 2-0 against him on grass courts.

One reason Murray won, he broke Djokovic's serve seven times.

Entering the final, Djokovic had held serve 94 percent of the time (95 of 101). Murray won almost half of Djokovic's service games (7 of 16) and won more than 40 percent of Djokovic's first-serve points, which is very impressive considering the fact Murray had won 31 percent of first-serve return points entering the final.

This marked the second straight year that the Wimbledon champ had to come back from a 2-0 deficit earlier in the tournament. Roger Federer did so last year.

Djokovic was the only top-15 seed that Murray beat en route to winning the title (Djokovic's last four matches were all vs top-15 seeds).

The “Big 4” (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) have now won 33 of the last 34 Grand Slams (only other winner in that span: Juan Martin del Potro at 2009 US Open).

Djokovic’s defeat
This marked the first time that Djokovic lost a Grand Slam match in straight sets since the 2010 Wimbledon semis against Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic had his serve broken seven times during the match. He had it broken only six times at this year’s Wimbledon entering the Final.

Djokovic lost three of his last four Grand Slam Finals (6-5 overall in Grand Slam Finals).

This marked the sixth straight year that the No. 1 seed did not win Wimbledon.

The last was Roger Federer in 2007.

Did You Know
It took Murray eight appearances at Wimbledon to win his first title. The only mens' player to take longer was Goran Ivanisevic, who won in his 14th appearance in 2001.

Murray also became the first player to win his first Wimbledon title the year after reaching his first Final since John McEnroe in 1981.

Djokovic, Murray face big serves in semis

July, 3, 2013
7/03/13
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Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Andy Murray survived a five-set match, and will now face Jerzy Janowicz's big serve in the semis.

After a wild Wimbledon consisting of major early upsets and a handful of injury withdrawls, we’re still on pace for the top two seeds to meet in the gentlemen’s final.

But top-seed Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray won’t be playing their expected opponents. Murray was looking at a semifinal matchup against either third-seeded Roger Federer or fifth seed Rafael Nadal, but both lost in the first two rounds.

Instead, the top two seeds will get two men who have used their serves as weapons to reach the semifinals: Juan Martin del Potro and Jerzy Janowicz.

Here’s a look at the four men remaining for the title.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic
Djokovic needed a first-set tiebreaker, but ultimately won in straight sets to reach his 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, a streak that started at Wimbledon in 2010.

That’s the second-longest streak since 1925, falling behind only Roger Federer’s 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances, going from 2004 to 2010. The next longest streaks behind Djokovic were 10 straight, done by Ivan Lendl and Rod Laver.

Djokovic will next get del Potro. He’s undefeated in three career meetings with del Potro in Grand Slam matches, but lost to him in the bronze medal match at the 2012 Olympics, held on grass.

No. 2 Andy Murray
While Djokovic cruised in straight sets, Murray needed five sets to beat unseeded Fernando Verasco after dropping the first two sets.

It’s the seventh time in his career he’s come back from a two-set deficit, and the latest round he’s ever done it in. Only Federer has come back from more 2-0 deficits than Murray among active players, having done so eight times.

The key for Murray’s semifinal match vs Janowicz is his second serve. In losing the first two sets, Murray won just 38% of his second-serve points. He won 74% of those points in winning the final three sets.

No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro
Del Potro, like his semifinal opponent Djokovic, has yet to drop a set en route to the semis, and you can point to his serve to find out why.

Through his first five matches, del Potro has won 97 percent of his service games (73 of 75), the highest percentage of any man at Wimbledon this year (minimum 60 service games).

His serve might also be getting more effective. After winning less than 80 percent of points on his first serve in three of his first four matches, del Potro won 87 percent of his first-serve points in his quarterfinal win over David Ferrer.

No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz
Janowicz made history reaching the semifinal, becoming the first man from Poland to reach the semifinal of any Grand Slam.

Like, del Potro, Janowicz has capitalized on his serve to make it this far. But Janowicz is getting it done with aces. He has 94 aces through his five matches so far, not just the most among the men’s players, but 31 more than the second man on the list, Ivan Dodig.

For the tournament, 49% of Janowicz’s serves have been unreturned, tied with Kevin Anderson for the highest this year at Wimbledon.

Federer stunned in second-round loss

June, 26, 2013
6/26/13
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AP Photo/Anja NiedringhausRoger Federer's loss Wednesday was his first loss in the second round of a Grand Slam in his career.
The upsets continued at the All-England Club today as third-seeded Roger Federer lost in the second round to Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets.

Combined with Rafael Nadal’s loss in the Steve Darcis in the first round yesterday, this is the first Grand Slam in which both Federer and Nadal were in the draw and that neither reached the third round.

Federer had several notable streaks snapped with the loss to the 116th-ranked Stakhovsky.

This was Federer's first loss to a player ranked outside the top 100 in eight years. Richard Gasquet was ranked 101st in the world when he beat Federer in the quarterfinals at Monte-Carlo in 2005.

It was only his second loss to a player ranked outside top 100 at Grand Slam, and the first since he lost to No. 154 Mario Ancic at Wimbledon 2002. Federer is now 45-2 in his career at Grand Slams against players ranked 100 or above.

Federer's record streak of 36 Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances, which started at Wimbledon in 2004, ended with this loss. Before Stakhovsky, the last player to beat Federer before the quarters of a Slam was Gustavo Kuerten in the third round of the 2004 French Open

And this was the first time that Federer has ever lost in the second round of a Grand Slam. He was 50-0 in the second round of Slams before losing to Stakhovsky.

How unlikely was Stakhovsky’s upset against Federer? The Ukrainian was 0-20 in his career against top-10 players, the second-most losses without a win vs the top 10 among active players. Even with the win, Stakhovsky still has a losing record this season (9-10).

Federer lost the second and fourth set tiebreaks, a shocking result considering that this season he had won eight of 11 tiebreaks entering the match. Federer also broke Stakhovsky’s serve only once during the entire match.

With the loss, Federer must wait until next year to go for his record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title. He was also trying to join Nadal, who has won the French Open eight times, as the only players to win eight titles at a single Grand Slam event.

By the numbers on Darcis-Nadal upset

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
5:37
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Getty Images, AP PhotoRafael Nadal (left) was upset by Steve Darcis in straight sets at Wimbledon on Monday.
Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Steve Darcis in the first round of Wimbledon after winning the French Open a few weeks ago. Let’s look at Nadal’s loss by the numbers, with some next level analysis as well.

By the numbers
1 – Nadal lost in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. He was undefeated in 34 career first-round matches at Grand Slams entering Monday. Steve Darcis entered Wimbledon with just one win in 13 career matches against top 10 opponents.

2 –The straight-set loss was only the second such defeat at Wimbledon of Nadal’s career, and that came 10 years ago. Darcis entered the match with just two wins this season before Monday’s upset. Darcis also has two career ATP titles, none since 2008.

135 – Speaking of Steve Darcis, his rank of 135 is the lowest of any player ever to beat Nadal at a Grand Slam. Also, for the second consecutive year, Nadal lost at Wimbledon to a player ranked 100 or worse. Lukas Rosol was ranked 100th before defeating Nadal in last year’s Wimbledon.

and 12 – that’s the amount of Grand Slam first-round losses Darcis had in his career entering Monday’s contest. It’s also the amount of majors Nadal has won, showing just how far apart these two players have been throughout their careers.

Next Level insights from IBM
IBM Insights looks at statistics that indicate what players can do to increase their likelihood of winning a set (and therefore the match). No surprise, even the Insights did not give Darcis much of a chance against Nadal. In fact, if Darcis won 27 percent of first serve return points, his chance of winning a set from Nadal was 53 percent. For the match, Darcis was able to win 28 of 80 first serve return points (35 percent).

As for Nadal, he was unable to pounce on Darcis’ second serve. When Nadal wins 57 percent of second serve return points, he wins sets 90 percent of the time. But on Monday, Rafa won just 21 of 49 of those points (43 percent).

Murray's Open win a first on multiple fronts

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
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The fifth time was a winner for Andy Murray, who finally won a Grand Slam event after losing his first four finals, defeating Novak Djokovic in a five-set marathon in the U.S. Open Men’s Finals.

Among the most interesting statistical notes and trends from this match:

Murray is the first player to win the U.S. Open and an Olympic gold medal in the same year and the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry won the 1936 U.S. Championship.

Murray won the first set tiebreak, 12-10. That's the longest tiebreak in terms of points in US Open Final history.

He’s the first player other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic to win a Grand Slam title since Juan Martin del Potro at 2009 US Open.

The 4-hour, 54-minute match time is tied for longest in final in US Open history (Mats Wilander defeated Ivan Lendl in 1988).

Murray joined del Potro as the only five-set winners in the U.S. Open Finals since 2000.

Nadal, Djokovic renew grand rivalry

June, 24, 2012
6/24/12
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Getty ImagesRafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Feder are the favorites to win Wimbledon this year.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have built up quite the rivalry in the last year. They have met up in the final of the last four Grand Slams with each match going at least four sets.

The last player to reach a Grand Slam final other than Djokovic and Nadal was Roger Federer at the 2011 French Open. Federer is also the last one other than the duo to win a Grand Slam, doing so at the 2010 Australian Open. Since then, Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win the last nine majors.

After going 0-6 against Djokovic in 2011, Nadal has turned the tables this year. Since losing at the Australian Open, Nadal has beaten the Serbian star three times – although each of those wins came on clay.

Whenever Nadal wins his next Grand Slam, he will tie Roy Emerson for third-most major titles in men’s tennis history with 12.

Federer meanwhile has been able to remain in contention, remarkably reaching the quarterfinals in an Open Era-record 32 straight Grand Slams. To put it in perspective, the last time Federer failed to reach the quarters at a slam (2004 French Open), Novak Djokovic was over half a year away from making his Grand Slam debut.

Of Federer’s 16 slams, six have come at Wimbledon. So although he arrives at the All England club as an underdog, Federer certainly has history on his side.

A win here for the Swiss great would tie Pete Sampras for the most Wimbledon titles in the Open Era. Federer would also jump both Djokovic and Nadal in the rankings and rise to No. 1 for the first time in over two years.

LADIES TOP RANKING NO SURE THING
The No. 1 ranking is also up for grabs on the women’s side. Maria Sharapova got back to the top spot for the first time since 2008 after her dominating win at the French Open. Her stay at the top could be short lived as she can only keep the top ranking with a win at Wimbledon.

Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska can each grab the top spot in the rankings by winning Wimbledon. Radwanska would also need Sharapova and Azarenka to get ousted before the final.

Serena and Venus Williams have each battled injury and illness in the last couple of years. Neither sister lasted long at Roland Garros. Venus lost in the second round and Serena was ousted in the first round – the first time that has ever happened to her at a Grand Slam.

But when it comes to Wimbledon, you can’t count out the Williams sisters. They have combined to win nine out of the last 12 Wimbledon titles.

Is a Djoker Slam in the cards?

May, 26, 2012
5/26/12
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Getty Images/US PresswireRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are two of the favorites at the French Open this year.
World number one since last July and the winner of four of the last five majors, Novak Djokovic has been on quite a ride in the past year. The one major hiccup was his loss in the semifinals of the French Open last year to Roger Federer.

There is plenty at stake this year at Roland Garros for Djokovic. Having won the last three Grand Slams, he is seeking to become the first player to hold all four majors at once since Rod Laver completed the calendar-year Slam in 1969.

If he wins the French, Djokovic would become the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam – a feat his rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal have already accomplished.

Despite his hot streak, Djokovic isn’t the betting favorite. That distinction goes to Nadal, who has owned the red clay in Paris. The six-time French Open champion is 45-1 in his career at the event. And the only man to beat him – Robin Soderling – withdrew from this year’s tournament.

Last year Nadal had trouble against Djokovic, losing all six meetings. That trend continued at Melbourne Park this year when Djokovic beat Nadal in an instant classic, but Rafa has turned things around by beating Djokovic in the finals at Monte Carlo and Rome.

Federer fans are hoping the Swiss great can remember how to drop the hammer. In each of the last three Grand Slams, he’s been eliminated in a match he led. Most recently this year at the Australian Open, he had the momentum against Nadal after winning the first set tiebreak, before falling in four sets.

Federer’s incredible 31-tournament streak of reaching the Grand Slam quarterfinals is still intact, but he hasn’t made a final since doing so at this event last year.

Tobias Kamke will be Federer’s opening round opponent. The two have never faced off, but a win for Federer would tie Jimmy Connors for the most Grand Slam match wins in the Open Era with 233.

Women’s title up for grabs
Whereas the men’s tournaments have been very predictable, anything goes on the women’s side. The last five Grand Slams have been won by five different women, and the last four have been first-time Grand Slam winners.

Victoria Azarenka has played the best so far this year, winning the Australian Open to go along with three other tournaments.

But she has come up empty since the clay season started, losing to Maria Sharapova in the Stuttgart final and then to Serena Williams in the Madrid final. In neither match did Azarenka put up much of a fight, winning five games against Sharapova and four against Williams.

Speaking of Williams, she enters the French Open on a 17-match winning streak, although she was forced to withdraw from the final tune-up at Rome. Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the 2010 Wimbledon and her only French Open title came back in 2002.

Isner riding big serve into BNP final

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
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AP Photo/Darron CummingsJohn Isner is seeking his first career Masters 1000 title. He'll have to beat Roger Federer to get it
John Isner made a name for himself back in 2010 with his marathon match against Nicolas Mahut in the first round of Wimbledon, but what many forget is how much that match drained him. Isner won just five games in his second-round match that year against Thiemo de Bakker.

After Wimbledon, Isner went 14-9 and finished the year ranked 19th. Last year, Isner took home small titles at Winston-Salem and Newport, but only finished the year one spot higher in the rankings.

Isner is starting to win big matches this year, not just long ones. He beat third-ranked Roger Federer in Switzerland at Davis Cup and then knocked out Novak Djokovic Saturday in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open to reach his first career Masters 1000 final.

Isner is the first American to beat a reigning No. 1 since James Blake beat Roger Federer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The University of Georgia alum has played up to his competition in the past. Isner has faced both Federer and Rafael Nadal when they were No. 1 and although he lost both matches, he didn't go down in straight sets. Last year at the French Open, Isner went up two-sets-to-one in his first-round matchup against Nadal before falling in five sets.

Isner's first-serve is a huge threat when he's hitting it accurately. Saturday the 6'9" Isner got his first-serve in at a 74 percent clip and hit 20 aces to frustrate Djokovic. On the year he has 283 aces, second only to Canada's Milos Raonic (307).

Isner's service advantage was evident against Djokovic considering that both sets he won came in tiebreaks. In 13 tiebreaks in 2012, Isner has won all but two.

Isner's upset of Djokovic overshadowed the other semifinal at Indian Wells between Federer and Nadal.

Roger Federer
Federer
Following a rain-delayed start, third-ranked Federer took out his long-time rival in straight sets. The win is Federer's 10th in his career against Nadal in 28 matches. Six of those wins have come on hardcourts.

In Sunday's final, which can be seen on ABC following the women's final at 2 ET, there is plenty at stake for both Federer and Isner. Federer will look to avenge his loss to Isner earlier this year and win his 19th career Masters 1000 title, which would tie Nadal for most all-time. Isner is looking to be the first American to win at Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

Win or lose, Isner will make his debut in the Top 10 of the rankings Monday for the first time. A win though, would jump him to eighth in the rankings – ahead of Mardy Fish as the top-ranked American.

Federer-Nadal continue historic rivalry

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
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Getty ImagesRafael Nadal and Roger Federer will meet for an Open Era record-tying 10th time in a Grand Slam. Nadal has won the last four meetings, including a five-set win in their only previous Australian Open meeting.
One of the best rivalries in tennis history will be renewed when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Thursday at 3:30 am ET on ESPN2.

It will mark their 10th Grand Slam meeting, tying Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe for the most men’s Grand Slam meetings in the Open Era.

Nadal has won seven of the nine Grand Slam meetings, including the last four. Three of their matches have gone the full five sets - including their only meeting at Melbourne Park in the 2009 final.

The strange thing about this match is that it is happening in the semifinals. Their previous eight Grand Slam meetings at have all been in finals. Their only other Grand Slam semifinal meeting came at the 2005 French Open, a match won by Nadal in four sets.

According to the International Tennis Federation, this will be the fourth meeting at a Grand Slam between men who have achieved a career Grand Slam. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver did it twice. (Nadal and Federer also met in the French Open final last year.)

Federer takes a 24-match win streak into the match, and is the only player who has yet to drop a set in the Australian Open.

Based on their quarterfinal matches, Federer should be the fresher of the two players. The Swiss needed just one hour, 59 minutes to beat Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal needed more than four hours to beat Tomas Berdych.

If Federer is able to beat Nadal, it will be the 233rd Grand Slam match win of his career. That will tie Jimmy Connors for the most in men’s Open Era.

Questions aplenty at 2012 Australian Open

January, 14, 2012
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As we head into the first Grand Slam of the 2012 tennis season, there are plenty of questions to be answered in the last two weeks of January at Melbourne Park.

Can Novak Djokovic continue his dominance?
From early 2004 to mid-2011 the only men to be atop the ATP rankings were Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Not only did Djokovic rise to the top spot, he did it in emphatic fashion.

Starting the year 41-0, Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slams and finished the year 70-6. The Serb led the ATP by winning 39 percent of return games. However, Djokovic showed he was human by losing four of his last 10 matches.

Can Nadal get past Djokovic?
After winning the last three Grand Slams in 2010, Nadal was poised to quickly close the gap on Federer for most Grand Slams all-time.

Rafa was limited to just the French title in 2011, finishing runner-up to Djokovic at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

At 30 years-old, does Federer have enough gas in the tank to win a 17th Grand Slam?
For Federer, 2011 marked the first year he went without a Grand Slam title since 2002 – back when he had none at all. Unlike Djokovic though, Federer did finish 2011 strong - winning his last 17 matches followed by three wins this year at Doha before pulling out with an injury. His current 20-match win streak is the seventh of at least that long in his career.

Will women’s No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki finally break through and win a Grand Slam?
The start of the Australian Open on January 16th will mark the 66th week Wozniacki has spent as the women’s number one. That’s the good news. The bad news is no other woman has been atop the rankings that long without having won a Grand Slam. In fact, Wozniacki has only reached one final in her career – at the 2009 US Open.

Is Serena Williams healthy, motivated enough to continue her dominance Down Under?
Las Vegas sure seems to think so. Despite being the 12-seed, Williams is the betting favorite to win the Australian Open. Williams does have great history at this event, having won her last 14 matches at Melbourne Park before having to withdraw prior to last year’s tournament.
Since winning Wimbledon in 2010, Serena Williams has played a total of 27 matches, and her status for the Australian Open, which starts January 16, is up in the air following her latest setback. Here’s a recent timeline of Serena's injuries and health issues.

Serena Williams
S. Williams
July 7, 2010
After winning a fourth Wimbledon, without dropping a set, Williams was wearing sandals when she stepped on broken glass at a restaurant in Munich, Germany, cutting a tendon in her right foot that required two operations -- one in July and a second in October.

February 2011
Williams develops a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) that hospitalizes her in Los Angeles. She is treated with anti-coagulant drugs.

February 28, 2011
Requires emergency treatment for a hematoma in her stomach that likely developed as a result of her use of blood thinners.

June 2011
Plays at Eastbourne, a Wimbledon tune-up, her first event since winning the 2010 US Open.

September 11, 2011
After losing in the US Open final, Serena sits out the remainder of WTA season due to injuries.

January 4, 2012
In her second match of the season, Serena injures her left ankle at Brisbane. She wins the match, but withdraws from the event, and her status for the Australian Open is uncertain.
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New generation of U.S. women's tennis?

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
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Serena Williams made it easily through to the third round of the U.S. Open Thursday, dropping a total of three games through two matches. She is joined there by four other American women -- Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale, Irina Falconi and Vania King.

As the Williams Sisters have struggled through injury and illness in the past year -- Stephens, McHale, Falconi and King could represent the next generation of American women's tennis. Each is 22 years old or younger. Each reached the third round by taking out a seeded player, the most impressive win being McHale's upset of eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli.

The last time five American women made it to the third round at Flushing Meadows was in 2004 when eight Americans made it that far, led by eventual semifinalists Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport.

When it comes to women 22 and under, the last time four or more made the third round at the U.S. Open was in 2000 according to the WTA Tour. That year 20-year-old Venus Williams won her first U.S. Open title, while sister Serena made the quarterfinals.

The play of the four young Americans has been surprising in that for the most part, they have never been here before. The one exception is King who has made the third round in a Grand Slam two previous times (losing both times).

For Stephens, the only wildcard remaining in the field, this is her second Grand Slam appearance after losing in the first round at this year's French Open. Falconi is playing in her fifth career Grand Slam, but until this tournament had never won a match on the big stage.

McHale may be the one to really watch as she makes her first trip to the third round of a Grand Slam (eighth appearance).

She's had a few big wins this year -- beating world number one Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in Cincinnati and beating two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova twice -- in New Haven and Indian Wells.

Clijsters' U.S. Open streak on hold again

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
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Kim Clijsters
Clijsters
Kim Clijsters' withdrawal from the U.S. Open comes as no surprise given her injuries this year. Since losing in the second round of the French Open to the Netherlands' Arantxa Rus, Clijsters has played just three matches.

In her most recent match -- against China's Zheng Ji at the Rogers Cup in Toronto earlier this month -- Clijsters won the first set, but was forced to retire with an abdominal injury.

Due to a combination of injuries and retirement, the current world No. 3 hasn't played at all four Grand Slams in a calendar year since 2003. After winning just one Grand Slam prior to retiring in 2007 to start a family, the Belgian star has won three majors since returning in 2009 -- all on hard courts.

In her career, Clijsters has won the U.S. Open three times, tied for fourth-most in the Open Era. The only players to win more at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era are Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Since 2003, Clijsters is the fourth reigning U.S. Open women's champion to not come back to defend her title. Serena Williams didn't play in 2003 following left knee surgery, Clijsters didn't play in 2006 following wrist surgery and Justine Henin retired several months after winning the 2007 U.S. Open (she too would make a comeback).

Clijsters’ three U.S. Open wins have come in her last three appearances at the event (2005, 2009, 2010). Her active streak of 21 straight match wins at the U.S. Open is the second longest in Open Era history behind only Chris Evert's 31 straight in the mid to late 1970s.

Unfortunately for Clisters, her streak will have to wait at least another year to get extended.

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