2014/11/01

Victoria Azarenka Pulls Out of Miami with Foot Injury

Azarenka

(March 12, 2014) Two- time Sony Open winner and current World No. 4, Victoria Azarenka, has withdrawn this year’s Sony Open due to a foot injury.

“I am very sad not to be able to compete at this year’s Sony Open in Miami,” said Azarenka. “I love playing in the US and my results in the past were also great. But it’s been now over a year that it seems that bad luck has been following me. I couldn’t play in Miami last year with a problem in my ankle and now this with my foot. It is time for me to think about my recovery and will work hard for that. I wish the tournament all the best for this 2014 edition. Miami is an amazing place and a great tournament. I hope to be there next year fully recovered and able to be competing for the title.”

The tournament begins on March 17, 2014.

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Wawrinka Dominates, Federer, Li Also Advance

 

 

Wawrinka in press

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Australian Open Men’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka dominated Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.

“Today was amazing match,” said the world No. 3.  “Can’t complain.  “Playing that great, it’s good.  That level, depends a little bit who you play, but I’m really, really happy with my match today.

“I’m moving really well, and every time I can play aggressive it makes a difference.”

Asked if he plays to reach No. 1, the top Swiss player said:

“No.  I’m too far away from No. 1.  I’m really far.  Look at the ranking.  Look at Rafa and Novak are there since many years.  They are winning minimum two Grand Slam a year, making final, semifinal, winning Masters 1000.

“But I know my level.  I know that I can play great tennis this year.  I never won a 500.  Never won a 1000 tournament.

“We’ll see.  I’m not thinking at all to be No. 1.  I’m just trying to improve, trying to win every match.  We will see.  I’m not expecting to win a Grand Slam but I did it, so anything can happen.”

Federer 382014

Swiss No. 2 Roger Federer needed to win a pair of tiebreaks to stop Dmitri Tusunov, closing the match out with an ace.

Federer said that he’s having a better year this year.

“I feel different this year,” Federer said. “Now I feel like I’m in a good place. Zen on the court. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm. Those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”

Federer changed to a new racquet with a bigger head this year and the 17-time major champion updated the press corps o how he feels about it.

“It’s good.  I’m very happy.  I mean, I’m not really thinking of it, so that’s a major step in the right direction.  That’s the best you can ask for when you change racquets.

“Then you hope that success follows.  That’s happened, too.  That’s why basically ‑‑ I had a meeting with Wilson this week looking to see if there is any small changes coming up or if that’s how I’m going to keep it right now.

“So we’re just looking to see what’s going to happen the next sort of month or so.  I’m really happy about how it’s playing, how it’s given me extra power, easier power, just easier to play with it day in and day out.  And I think have the spin necessarily, but have the control there, too.

“I must say I’m overall very happy, and it’s exciting to play with a new racquet after so many years.”

 

Li Na

Li Na

Top seed Li Na defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

“At least I can win the last point, and still, how do you say, stay on tournament,” Li said.

“You know, always tough, because first time to be the top seed in a big tournament and never have, how do you say, experience before.

“So it’s very tough to hang in there, especial beginning the tournament start.”

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Andy Murray Survives Jiri Vesely in Error-Filled Match

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In an error-strewn match, Andy Murray survived No. 77 ranked Jiri Vesely 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

“Well, the match was a frustrating match.” Said Scot.  “Whether it was the beginning or the end, it was that sort of match where at no stage did either of us play well at the same time.

“You know, I started the match well; he started off the match badly.  He missed a lot of easy shots, and then he started playing consistent, not making errors, and I started missing.

“And, yeah, it was just one of those matches where there wasn’t one period where I thought that, you know, the level of tennis from both of us was high at the same time.

“That can create a lot of breaks and a lot of sort of back and forth swings in the match.

“Yeah.  It wasn’t just the start of the match that was frustrating.  The whole match was.

Playing the 20-year-old Czech for the first time, the fifth seed had 47 of the total 99 errors in the 2 hours and 47 minute match. He was forced to rebound from a break down in each of the last two sets. Both men combined for 32 break points and 14 breaks of serve.

For Vesely who is the youngest in the top 100 of the ATP Tour, he was playing in his first Masters 1000 event.

Jiri Vesely

Jiri Vesely

“I would like to make the game balls that I had in the second and also in the third set, but I was a break up and I was in the second set leading 40‑15 on my serve and the third set I had advantage.

“Maybe if I would use one of these chances maybe I would finish the match.  But, you know, Andy is just a big fighter and he’s guy top 10 which deserves to win.

“So, yeah, just need to take all the positive things from the match and try to keep working hard on myself.

“I was really struggling with myself,” Vesely continued.  “I mean, after I won the first set, which was really exciting for me, and getting the early break in the second set, I just felt really chance to beat this guy until 4‑2 in both sets, second and third, I was playing good without any mistakes.

“But then I always got a little bit tight, and I just felt the chance that I really can beat him.  I think that was maybe the one thing that was painful then in the end.”

“The most important thing today was that I won,” Murray said.  Yeah, I wasn’t happy with the way that I played.

“And, yeah, that’s ‑‑ I mean, it’s kind of days like that where, you know, I could have lost the match and you don’t get an opportunity until Miami to play better or to improve some things.

“Yeah, it’s good to have the chance to play another match here and hopefully put in a better performance.

“It was a very hard match, said Vesely.  “I feel right now physically very tired.  Of course it hurts.”

Murray moves on to play Milos Raonic for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

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Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

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Showdown in Hong Kong for World Tennis Day Sees Aussies Win

 

 

By Natalie Ho

(March 3, 2014) HONG KONG – The second annual BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong, part of ITF’s World Tennis Day initiative, was concluded in lighthearted fashion with the participation of four star players – Li Na, Sam Stosur, Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt. The evening turned out to be a good one for the Aussies as Former US Open winner Sam Stosur beat reigning Australian Open champion Li Na 6-4, 6-3 in the opening match, while former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt defeated No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 in the second match of the evening.

This year the event was moved to the newly opened Hong Kong Velodrome where a tennis court and bleacher seats were built especially for this showdown. Those lucky fans with tickets to the temporary bleachers were literally court-side. They were treated to an intimate setting with the only disadvantage being the chance to get hit by serves. However, spectators in the upper section were separated from the action by a cycling track which was quite a distraction and might explain the lack of atmosphere especially at the beginning.

Missing Li last year due to injury, the crowd was happy to see her finally but Stosur also had very vocal support. The ladies traded service breaks multiple times but in the end it was Stosur, the more solid player in the match, who prevailed. The men’s match was, in contrast, more exhibition-like. Berdych was quite a crowd pleaser while Hewitt’s competitive drive was visible even in an exhibition. The crowd really got into the match towards the end and was shouting “third set, third set”. However, it was not to be as after some tussling Hewitt was able to close out the match.

Earlier in the day the players participated in a news conference to kick off the event.

Lleyton Hewitt, asked about the International Premier Tennis League, said Asia is a massive growth area for tennis so being an Aussie he’s excited to take part.

Tomas Berdych was asked about hiring a star coach. He feels this is not a must and that a star coach may not work well within a team.

Sam Stosur is happy to be working on different things with her new coach Miles Maclagan and plans to play more doubles this year.

Li Na naturally received the most questions. Between more GS & #1 she wants both. #1 is a goal as she’s now on her career high ranking. She also revealed a funny team dynamic: her husband would tell Carlos his ideas so Carlos would say them. Otherwise she wouldn’t listen.

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Tennis Channel and Mary Carillo Agree to Three-Year Contract Extension

mary carillo

(February 27, 2014) Tennis Channel and Mary Carillo have agreed to a three-year broadcast extension that expands her role with the network and keeps her on air through 2016. In addition to her current French Open, Wimbledon and US Open assignments, the Emmy Award-winning sportscaster will cover March’s Sony Open Tennis tournament in Miami – one of the sport’s six largest events – and numerous other competitions throughout the year from Los Angeles as part of Tennis Channel’s in-studio team. The announcement was made today by Bob Whyley, senior vice president of production and executive producer, Tennis Channel.

 

“This is a fascinating time to cover tennis and I’ve had a lot of fun as part of the Tennis Channel team,” said Carillo. “With everything that’s going on in the sport right now I’m happy to be there with the network as it all unfolds.”

 

Carillo joined Tennis Channel in 2011, when she hosted the network’s live tournament desks at the French Open in Paris and US Open in New York. In 2012 she added Wimbledon to the list and appeared in numerous segments on the network’s Wimbledon Primetime set on the tournament grounds in London. She was part of Tennis Channel’s on-air team at all three events again in 2013. Carillo made select on-air appearances during Tennis Channel’s 2012 coverage of Miami’s Sony Open Tennis tournament, an event she will add to her annual duties starting in 2014.

 

As an on-air host during Tennis Channel’s coverage at major tournaments, Carillo conducts interviews, produces special reports and offers analysis and perspective. Her numerous segments include “Fleet Street Beat” during Wimbledon, in which she convenes a panel of longtime British tennis reporters for Tennis Channel’s American audiences. She has been praised by network viewers and sports reporters alike for the energy, enthusiasm and tone she brings to Tennis Channel’s major telecasts.

 

“It’s been a privilege to work with Mary at the most prestigious events in our sport, and we’re excited that Tennis Channel viewers will get to see even more of her in the years ahead,” said Whyley. “Her humor, tennis expertise and innate sense of story have been invaluable additions to our on-air coverage.”

 

A former tennis player who won the 1977 French Open mixed-doubles crown with childhood friend John McEnroe, Carillo remains one of the most respected voices in sports journalism today. After retiring from professional tennis in 1980, she began her on-air career as a tennis analyst for USA Network, and has since covered a variety of sports for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, HBO Sports, ESPN and Bravo. Carillo is renowned for a no-nonsense approach laced with wit and humor, and is widely recognized for her work at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games for NBC Sports, and as a correspondent on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

 

A Sports Emmy Award and George Foster Peabody Award winner, Carillo was the first female winner of the Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism (in 2010). Tennis magazine has repeatedly named her “Best TV Commentator,” while women’s professional tennis’ governing body, the WTA, has twice honored her as its “Broadcaster of the Year.”

 

Carillo spent much of the past three weeks at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as part of the NBC Sports on-air team. Among her special reports was the documentary Nancy & Tonya, a 20-year-retrospective of the infamous Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding storyline at the 1994 Winter Olympics.a

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Rafael Nadal Wins Rio Equaling Guillermo Vilas on Open Era List with 62 Titles

 

Nadal waves and smiles

(February 23, 2014) Rafael Nadal won his 62nd title defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 7-6 (3) to win the Rio Open title.

With the title Nadal equals Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas with 62 titles, tied for 7th on the Open era title leaders list. This puts the Spaniard two titles behind Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.

Nadal is now 16-1 on the year, his lone defeat coming in the final of the Australian Open to Stanislas Wawrinka, where Nadal sustained a back injury. Rio was his first tournament since the Australian Open final.

“Clearly, it was important for me to get back and win after what happened in the final in Australia,” Nadal said.

In the semifinals against countryman Pablo Andujar, Nadal saved two match point to advance to the final.

“Yesterday was a tough match,” Nadal said. “Pablo played a great match, playing very aggressive. I played too short yesterday and I gave him the chance to have control of the point from inside. I’m not very happy with the way I played yesterday, but I think today I was able to play with a little bit more calm, play a little bit longer and go a little bit more for the points. I played a more solid match today.”

Nadal who has a perfect record playing in Brazil winning three different tournaments – Rio, Costa do Sauipe and Sao Paulo.

“I leave with the sensation that Brazil is something special for me,” he said.

“In a 500 tournament, you don’t have a chance to play a lot of these in the calendar. The first edition of a big tournament like Rio, it’s a very important city in the world, and after coming back from injury, it always makes the victory a little more special.”

“He was playing more solid than I watched him play yesterday,” said Dolgopolov. “The stats were pretty impressive from him. As usual, he was spinning his forehand, making a lot of trouble to hit flat and I couldn’t really get used to his serve much – only at the end of the match – but I’m quite happy with the week.”

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Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Wozniacki engagement ring

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI – Former No. 1 and Dubai 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki battled back to stop 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“I have had to fight pretty hard against her quite a few times,” said the woeld No. 11.  “I knew she was going to come out hot and just go for her shots, and I felt like I was just a step behind.  I couldn’t really do what I wanted from my backhand side, and I was playing a little too short.

“In the second set I started serving really well, I was really pleased with my serves, and I got a lot of her returns back deep, and all of a sudden, you know, the game was different.  I started attacking more from my backhand side onto her backhand and started to make her run a little bit.”

Asked if she was disappointed with the loss Lisicki who is still nursing a shoulder injury said:

“Definitely, but I still see it as positive, because I didn’t have a racquet in my hand for more than two weeks or two weeks.  I practiced four days, and, you know, my shoulder, I did a lot of rehab to be able to come here.

“So I’m very happy that I was able to play and to actually play that well.  It wasn’t enough to play the two whole sets that way yet, but in general, I’m pretty satisfied the way, you know, I started and went into the match, so that’s definitely something that I can build on.”

Wozniacki came into her news conference, sporting her 8 carat diamond engagement ring from fiancé and fomer No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy. She doesn’t wear it on court for fear of losing it.

She explained the significance of the 8 carats:

“That’s my lucky number.  That’s how he picked eight.  Very thoughtful.  I should have said 18, but…,” she said jokingly.

“Date, everything, location set,” the Dane said when asked about her wedding plans. “Such an exciting time.”

Asked to name the date, she quipped, “You never know.”

 

No. 5 seed, Jelena Jankovic, had to fight to get past qualifier Maryna Zanevska, winning 6-4, 6-3.

“I worked really hard. It was not easy for my first match here,” said Jankovic. “I just came from Doha like one day ago, so it’s completely different. Playing there during the night it’s slower, and here it’s faster and the balls fly. It was quite windy out there, and I felt kind of like I couldn’t play my game totally, you know, play the lines.”

Related articles:

“Rusty” Serena Williams Opens Dubai with a Win; Ana Ivanovic Squeaks by Angelique Kerber

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

 

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Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

Halep Retires

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI – Fresh off her title victory in Doha on Sunday, Simona Halep was forced to retire with a right Achilles injury from her first round match trailing Alize Cornet 6-1, 1-1 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

No. 9 Halep received treatment after Cornet had taken to lead 4-1.

“I have an inflammation at my Achilles. So when I jump with my serve and when I stop at the rallies, I feel the pain,” said Halep. “I wanted to try, because I like to try to fight for my chance, but here I couldn’t. After one set I realized that it is dangerous to continue.”

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Sloane Stephens Crashes Out in Opening Round of Dubai

sLOANE sTEPHENS dUBAI

(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – World No. 18 Sloane Stephens is now winless (0-2) in non-major events this year following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Last year Stephens also lost in the opening round of Dubai and last week, the American also fell in her first match in Doha last week.

Stephens told media that she needs to improve her results at Premier-Level events.

“I think it’s just something I need to work on, Stephens said. “I obviously need next year to try to do better here, and that’s what I need to do.”

She is 3-1 in majors this year and 0-2 in other events. Last year she was 15-4 in Majors and 24-19 on the WTA tour and Fed Cup. Stephens recently hired former Roger Federer and Pete Sampras coach Paul Annacone as her own.

“It was a tough match. She’s a great player and she played really well,” Stephens said. “I didn’t really get a good rhythm today, and she was playing some really good tennis at the end of the match.”

“Last year was a really long year,” she said. “It was tough towards the end, but I came through like a champ, and I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think being obviously American, it’s a much bigger deal because sports is really big in the US, and either way I think the whole thing was a learning experience and it was what it was.”

Also into the second round is recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, who overcame a challenge from Alisa Kleybanova to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. She’ll face No. 1 Serena Williams next.

Also in the day session in the final round of the qualifying matches, Australian Open semi-finalist and world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Annika Beck.

Others to advance to the main draw were 2013 US Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta, who beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Camila Giorgi 7-5, 6-2, and Maryna Zanevska rebounded from losing the first five games to defeat Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4.

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