17 May 2011, 16:13

Russian tennis players make progress before French Open

Russian tennis players make progress before French Open
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We would like to continue our discussion about the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship that finished in Slovakia on Sunday. Once again we would like to remind our listeners that the Russian National Team delivered unimpressive performance in Bratislava finishing in 4th place while being defeated in 5 out of 9 matches.

We would like to continue our discussion about the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship that finished in Slovakia on Sunday. Once again we would like to remind our listeners that the Russian National Team delivered unimpressive performance in Bratislava finishing in 4th place while being defeated in 5 out of 9 matches.

We would like to emphasize once again that the 4th place is an unsatisfactory result for the Russian team, because being out of podium is not what we all expected. Just a reminder for the first time in 5 years the Russian national hockey squad left the world championship without medals.

But despite this unsuccessful and disappointing result that we demonstrated in Slovakia Russia remains first in the 2011 IIHF World Ranking. We are still topping the list of the best hockey countries.  But it’s necessary to emphasize that the reigning world champions from Finland follow just 20 points behind Russia.

The Finns moved up from fifth to second place. Sweden remains third with as many points as Finland, but Finland is ahead because they won the head-to-head final game in Bratislava. And as we all know the result of the most recent tournament serves as a tie-breaker in the World Ranking.
The reigning Olympic champions from Canada drop down from second to fourth place after being eliminated in the world championship quarter-finals two years in a row.

The Czech Republic also loses a spot despite the fact they won bronze.  They were outscored by the Finish team which managed to their second world title ever. The Czechs are in current 5th place at the moment
The United States remain in sixth and Switzerland in seventh position in the 2011 IIHF World Ranking.

You know I was thinking about this championship and to my mind the scheme of the tournament is a little bit unfair. Look, the Russian team lost 5 games and took the final 4th place. While Canada lost only one game and was forced to pack the bags and go home after the first quarterfinal. The Czechs also lost one game and finished in 3rd place.

Well it’s not a secret that the format of the IIHF world championship is very specific. I would say that this scheme makes the preliminary and qualification rounds practically useless. Because the real fight starts only in playoffs.

As far as I know preliminary rounds determine the winner of the group and according to the rules of the IIHF the winner receives a weaker opponent in the quarterfinal. But in reality it’s not like this. For instance Canada took the 1st place in their group, outplaying anyone in their group. And whom did they have as their quarterfinal opponents? Team from Russia.

And the result of this game we all remember. So, I agree the scheme is not absolutely fair. And in my opinion the most objective format that really determines the strongest team is round-robin, where all the top-rank teams are playing against each other. And the team which takes the majority if victories becomes the champion.

I agree this is the correct scheme of holding the championship. At least it really reflects correlation of forces. And the probability of some sudden and unpredictable results is very low. I mean that it’s very unlikely some unpredictable winner will come on the scene. And what is more important a loss in one game doesn’t deprive anyone of the right to win gold medals.

That’s true, but as you may know the international ice-hockey federation refused to use this scheme. Probably because playoff games are much more exiting and thrilling, where every mistake can cost you a medal. It’s impossible to predict the result of the rivalries. These are really do-or-die games and the management of the iihf find them very attractive.

But Rene Fasel agrees that the present format should be altered. And in 2012 the new rules of conducting the world championship will come into force. Let’s tell our listeners what we will see in 2012.

Ok, first of all it’s necessary to say that for the first time in ice-hockey history the world championship will be held in two countries simultaneously. Next year Sweden and Finland will welcome all the guests and participants of the 2012 world championship.

16 teams that will take part in this huge ice-hockey tournament are divided into 2 (and not 4 groups). There will be no preliminary and qualification rounds, there will be only one stage before the playoffs.

So as far as I understand 8 teams in each group will play against each other.

You’re absolutely correct. And what is important the teams from one group will face each other in the quarterfinals. The first place will struggle against the fourth one and the second against the third.

As our listeners may have guessed the ice-hockey players from group A can play against their rivals from group B only in the semifinal and final. Russia will perform in Stockholm together with Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Slovakia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and France

And our opponents will go to the capital of Finland – Helsinki. We will be able to see the following teams there: Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and Italy.

Ok, next year we will be able to see how the new format works.

And with that we can announce that winter season is over and we can sum up the results of the 2010-2011 season.  Because the 2011 world championship in Bratislava was the last winter sport competition of this year.

So, unfortunately the results demonstrated by the Russian team are not very optimistic, we managed to collect 15 medals (2 gold, 8 silver and 5 bronze) And all the efforts of our sportsmen resulted in 13th place, which is worse than our Olympic performance in Vancouver.

In contrast the first place was taken by Norway, the Scandinavians earned 14 gold medals, 6 silver and 8 bronze medals during this season. Canada showed the second result with 13 golds and Germany jumped on the third step of the podium having 12 gold medals under its belt.

All these countries showed the result we can be envious of. But l don’t want to be a pessimist. We have a very young winter Olympic team. It’s normal that these sportsmen didn’t show high and fantastic results during this season. Our sportsmen need to gain the necessary experience and practice. We have three years to prepare our national team for the Olympic Games in Sochi.

And only in 2013 we will be able to speak about the possible result that our athletes will show in 2014 at home Olympics. I should say that the only two teams that really disappointed us this year were biathletes and ice-hockey players. But let’s express hope that our coaches will learn the lesson of this year and will make the necessary changes. So that in 2014 we will be proud of our national team. 

Yesterday we had the amazing opportunity to inform you about Maria Sharapova’s record victory in Rome against some of the biggest names in tennis including Caroline Wozniacki and Samantha Stosur. And with the French Open set to start in just a matter of days, a few other Russians are getting in last minute practice all over Europe to be sure they will be in top form for the event.

The good news is that we have a number of victories that we are able to report today from elsewhere in the French countryside. First and foremost we can report that the 20-year old Muscovite Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia has won an ITF series tournament for the sixth time in her professional career. Anastasia has become the winner of the ITF international tennis tournament at Saint Gaudens, France after she beat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in three sets of the final meet. If you haven’t heard of Pivovarova yet, it’s because as of now she remains a relative newcomer to big leagues of tennis. Her highest WTA ranking was 125th in the world last year, though, when she was playing in juniors, she was able to reach 2nd place.

So congratulations to Anastasia and we’ll be sure to keep our eye on her in the future and report on all of her future successes. But fortunately for us that is just the tip of the sword. Elsewhere in France Russian household names Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko were also among the winners yesterday (Monday the 16th).

Petrova and Kirilenko were able to oust their competitors in the opening matches in Strasbourg, France.

Nadia Petrova who is seeded fourth was able to easily deal with her Canadian apponent, Rebecca Marino with a final score of 7-6, 6-3 at Centre de la Ligue d'Alsace. Petrova who has twice competed as a semifinalist at the French Open has been struggling so far on clay this season. As we remember from last week she lost and lost first round-matches most recently in Rome and earlier on in Madrid. Hopefully this will be the boost she needs to get spun up in time for the Grand Slam. Petrova will next face either Alize Cornet or Sania Mirza.

In the meantime fifth-seeded Maria Kirilenko had no problems whatsoever putting German Kristina Barrois away with an impressive final score of 6-2, 6-3. Barrois was last year's Strasbourg runner-up to former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova. Sharapova as we remember is not competing in Strasborg this week as she will be taking a week off after her recent victory in Rome where she was the winner of the title last week. Maria Kirilenko will take on Laura Pous-Tio of Spain next.

Seventh-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues along Serbian Bojana Jovanovski, as well as Mathilde Johansson of France have all also advanced. Melanie Oudin from the USA didn’t stand a chance against Garrigues and lost in rapid succession with a score of 6-3, 6-1. Garrigues has three previous titles under her belt from this Strasbourg tournament.

So, as the summer months get closer and closer, we still have three Grand Slam tournaments to look forward to and as we can tell, there is more than enough Russian talent to keep us on the edge of our seats. Be sure to stay tuned right here to the voice of Russia to catch up on all your favorite athletes from all aspects of Russian sport! From Russia, Europe, and beyond!

Last weekend an interesting milestone was reached in the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. On Saturday May 14th, cities all across Russia celebrated the marking of 1,000 days left until the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

Olympic speed skating champion in 2006 Svetlana Zhurova, spoke to TV station Russia Today about Russian medal hopes for these Olympic Games. 
“For Russia it’s very important how many medals we’ll get at the Olympic Games. The opinion is that if our hockey players don’t win then it’s not a good Olympics. For sure, we’re waiting for gold medals in figure skating. I am happy the World Championship was held in Russia in Moscow, several weeks ago. It was good. I say ‘good’ because of a nice new generation of figure skaters, who have good prospects in the future, she said.    

Besides the interesting number that was celebrated in the countdown, many records were recognized as well. Most notably, it’s been reported that the venues at that are under construction in Sochi are so far ahead of schedule that they will be completed by the year 2013 and ready and open for testing. Some of them even a full year before the opening ceremony in 2014. This is apparently IOC record, which has never been done before.

“I hope my sport will also bring medals. There are 12 medals up for grabs and I hope we’ll get some of them. There also have to be medals in biathlon and cross-country skiing. Those are the traditional sports for Russia. For the first time in Russian history we are organizing such a huge competition in those sports,” Svetlana Zhurova added.


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