2014/08/22

Flipkens No Fluke

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

By Jack Cunniff

(August 21, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Samantha Stosur continued to improve her 2014 form with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Kirsten Flipkens in the Connecticut Open. It was a competitive match throughout, with Stosur pulling ahead at the end by capturing the final three games. But she had her hands full with Flipkens. The 28-year-old Belgian is a rarity on the WTA Tour, a player who relies on change of pace and placement, frequently looking to end points at the net. She has a solid serve, that troubled Stosur most of the evening, and is dangerous from all places on the court. Flipkens, best known as a 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, has struggled through the majority of 2014. Her solid play in New Haven shows that Flipkens is no fluke, and will continue to be a tough opponent for the top players.

 

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters put women’s tennis on the map for Belgium. As they began their success in the pro ranks, Flipkens was right behind, winning the Junior Girls titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003. Results on the pro tour did not come immediately. Her career was beset by injuries, although she achieved moderate success to earn a career-high ranking of No. 59 in June, 2010. Her lowest point came in April, 2012. Diagnosed with blood clots in her calf, she was forced off the tour for two months. Shortly after, the Flemish Tennis Foundation pulled their funding for Flipkens. Her ranking dropped to No. 262, too low to enter Wimbledon qualifying. Flipkens was able to play qualifying for the Wimbledon grass court warmup in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and she made the most of it. She qualified then reached the semifinals without dropping a set. Along the way, she defeated Roberta Vinci and Stosur.

 

This was the spark Flipkens needed. She won two ITF tournaments in the summer of 2012, then qualified for the U.S. Open before falling to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round. After the U.S. Open, she won her first WTA event in Quebec City, defeating four Top Sixty players. Throughout this period, without the support of her federation, Flipkens was on her own with no coach, no hitting partners, and no on-site support system. She relied on support from her home base, including her good friend Clijsters.

 

After Quebec City, Flipkens was on a roll. In her next four events, she reached two semifinals and one quarterfinal. At the 2013 Australian Open, she reached the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time. Strong results continued, and her ranking was No. 20 entering Wimbledon. The next two weeks at the All England Club were the pinnacle of her career, culminating in a quarterfinal Wimbledon win over the 2011 champion Kvitova. A few weeks later, a win over Venus Williams in Toronto pushed her ranking to No. 13, which remains a career high.

 

This year has not been as successful for Flipkens. Her best result remains a semifinal in Auckland, the opening event of 2014. Her defeat of No. 19 Petkovic in the second round of the Connecticut Open was her best win of the year, and three sets against an in-form Stosur shows that she’s not ready to fade from view quite yet.

 

Around the grounds… It was a rematch of the Wimbledon quarterfinal between Petra Kvitiova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with the same result. Kvitova was down a break early, but swept through ten of the last eleven games to advance 6-4, 6-1… Magdalena Rybarikova withstood a second set 6-0 drubbing at the hands of American Allison Riske, and reached the semifinals 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Riske battled throughout the third set, but three double faults in the sixth game didn’t help her cause… Camila Giorgi wasn’t as dominant in the quarterfinals, as she dropped serve six times in her match against Garbine Muguruza. But the Italian played her game of all-court aggression to reach her second semifinal of the year, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 21, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[2] P Kvitova (CZE) d B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 64 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d A Riske (USA) 75 06 64
C Giorgi (ITA) d G Muguruza (ESP) 64 67(4) 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) 63 46 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) 76(2) 64
M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) 16 75 10-7

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs C Giorgi (ITA)
WTA – D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) vs A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] S Stosur (AUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

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A Former Number One Faces an Uphill Climb

Wozniacki-001

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 20, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Caroline Wozniacki lost to Camila Giorgi in the second round of the Connecticut Open, 6-4, 6-2. Giorgi, a hard-hitting Italian player, used a strong serve and aggressive groundstrokes to keep Wozniacki on her heels from the start of the match. Wozniacki dropped serve in the opening game, and failed to convert two break points in the second game, her only break opportunities of the day. Giorgi, who also ushered Wozniacki out of the 2013 U.S. Open, gave no rhythm, going for broke on almost all of her shots. It was a decisive loss for Wozniacki in the venue of her most dominant performances.

 

It was only three years ago, August 2011, that Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 in the world, holding that spot for all but one week of the previous 10 months. She was in the process of winning her fourth consecutive Connecticut Open, and had won seven other titles over the last twelve months. Aside from the growing criticism about her failure to win a Grand Slam event, she was on top of the world. Preparing for the 2011 U.S. Open, Caroline liked her chances: “Well, definitely I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. I’m on a good roll. I’m looking forward to the Open next week.”

 

But there were signs of rust in Wozniacki’s game. In July 2011, she had to retire from a second round Swedish Open match against Sofia Arvidsson. Following that, she suffered back-to-back opening round losses for the first time in two years, losing to Roberta Vinci in Toronto and Christina McHale in Cincinnati. Wozniacki’s downward slide had begun. After beating Petra Cetkovska to defend her New Haven title, it would be over a year before her next title in Seoul, Korea, September 2012. She began losing to lower-ranked players, such as Tamira Paszek and Irena-Camelia Begu. In the process, she would tumble from No. 1 to No. 11.

 

Her struggles continued in 2013 through Wimbledon 2014. She made sporadic appearances in­­­­ finals and semifinals, usually at smaller events. Her record against Top Ten players was a dismal 2-9. She hired and dismissed a couple of different coaches during that period, while retaining father Piotr as a primary coach. Her personal life was fodder for the tabloids, culminating in a broken engagement in May.

 

But something clicked after Wimbledon this past June. She won the Istanbul Cup in July, her first title in nine months. She reached the quarterfinals in Montreal, taking world No. 1 Serena Williams deep in a three set loss. The following week in Cincinnati, she defeated Top Ten players (Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska) in back-to-back matches for the first time since the WTA Tour Championships in October 2010. Cincinnati provided another tight three set battle against Williams, this time in the semifinals. Heading into the Connecticut Open, Wozniacki assessed her form: “My confidence is high. I feel like I’ve played really well, I’ve had some good wins and I’ve had a lot of matches, which is great leading up to the Open.”

 

The result in New Haven, long considered Wozniacki’s home away from home, is a half-step back. Wozniacki was disappointed with the loss, and that she could never get into the match. But she wouldn’t let one match result derail her successful summer results, and is expecting success at the U.S. Open.

 

In other play Wednesday at the Connecticut Open, 2011 U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur easily dismissed a hobbled Genie Bouchard. Bouchard, the third seed, had her left thigh wrapped, and could never make an impression on the Stosur serve, falling 6-2, 6-2… Kristen Flipkens won a see-saw battle over Andrea Petkovic, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. Petkovic served for the match twice in the second set, Flipkens was up a break through most of the third set, but it all came down to a third set tiebreak. When Petkovic saved three match points to even the tiebreak at 6-6, Flipkens held her nerve. A successful serve and volley on match point puts her in the quarterfinals against Stosur… Next for Camila Giorgi is Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza, best known for her dismissal of Serena Williams in the 2014 French Open, came from a break down in the third set to win over Shuai Peng, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 20, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [3] E Bouchard (CAN) 62 62
C Giorgi (ITA) d [4] C Wozniacki (DEN) 64 62
G Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] S Peng (CHN) 62 36 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [WC] A Petkovic (GER) 46 76(4) 76(6)

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) d [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) 76(4) 16 10-8
A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) 63 26 10-6

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs A Riske (USA)
WTA – C Giorgi (ITA) vs G Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) vs [WC] S Stosur (AUS)
Men’s Legends – J Blake (USA) vs A Roddick (USA)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 pm
WTA – [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU)

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Defending Champion Serena Williams Seeded No. 1 at US Open

Serena Williams

From the United States Tennis Association – FLUSHING, N.Y., August 20, 2014 – The USTA today announced that world No. 1 and two-time defending US Open champion Serena Williams has been named the top seed in women’s singles at the 2014 US Open. The 2014 US Open will be played August 25 – September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

This is the third time that Serena Williams has been the No. 1 seed at the US Open.  She won the title on both prior occasions (2002 and 2013).  Following Williams will be No. 2 seed Simona Halep, of Romania, a 2014 French Open finalist; No. 3 Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, who won her second Wimbledon title this summer; and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland. The reigning French Open and 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova is seeded fifth.

World No. 2 Li Na, of China, withdrew from the US Open in July with a knee injury.

Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, who has reached the US Open women’s final each of the last two years, is seeded No. 16. Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams is seeded No. 19, 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, is seeded 20th, and 2011 champion Samantha Stosur is seeded 24th.

Last year, Serena Williams won her fifth US Open singles title, tying Steffi Graf for second most in the Open Era, trailing only Chris Evert’s six. It was also Williams’ 17th Grand Slam singles title, which is sixth on the all-time list and fourth in the Open Era (since 1968), trailing Graf (22), Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 each).

No. 21 Sloane Stephens and No. 27 Madison Keys join the Williams sisters as seeded American players.

The US Open followed the WTA rankings released Monday to determine the women’s singles seeds. This is the 14th consecutive year that the US Open seeded 32 players in both singles events.

The singles draws for the 2014 US Open will be revealed live during an official draw ceremony on Thursday, August 21, at 12 p.m. ET at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The draw will be streamed live on USOpen.org. Defending US Open champion Serena Williams will make an appearance at the event.

2014 US Open Women’s Singles Seeds

1.    Serena Williams, United States

2.    Simona Halep, Romania

3.    Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic

4.    Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland

5.    Maria Sharapova, Russia

6.    Angelique Kerber, Germany

7.    Eugenie Bouchard, Canada

8.    Ana Ivanovic, Serbia

9.    Jelena Jankovic, Serbia

10.  Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark

11.  Flavia Pennetta, Italy

12.  Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia

13.  Sara Errani, Italy

14.  Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic

15.  Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain

16.  Victoria Azarenka, Belarus

17.  Ekaterina Makarova, Russia

18.  Andrea Petkovic, Germany

19.  Venus Williams, United States

20.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia

21.  Sloane Stephens, United States

22.  Alize Cornet, France

23.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia

24.  Samantha Stosur, Australia

25.  Garbine Muguruza, Spain

26.  Sabine Lisicki, Germany

27.  Madison Keys, United States

28.  Roberta Vinci, Italy

29.  Casey Dellacqua, Australia

30.  Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Czech Republic

31.  Kurumi Nara, Japan

32.  Shuai Zhang, China

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Former U.S. Open Champ Tries to Recapture Form at Connecticut Open

 

By Jack Cunniff

(August 18, 2014) NEW HAVEN – It has been a tough summer for Samantha Stosur. The Australian, who won the U.S. Open Ladies Singles Championship in 2011, suffered three straight opening round losses in Eastbourne, Wimbledon, and Stanford. The loss in Stanford was a low point, as she fell to a Japanese qualifier, Naomi Osaka, who was ranked outside of the Top 400. As a result of the slump, Stosur’s WTA ranking dropped to No. 25, and she finds herself outside the Top Twenty for the first time in five years. And as a result of her ranking drop, she now enters most events unseeded, facing tougher draws. That scenario played out over the last two weeks when Stosur faced world No. 1 Serena Williams in the second round of both Montreal and Cincinnati.

 

In Cincinnati, Stosur finally showed signs of life. While she lost to Williams in the second round, it was two close tiebreak sets, significantly better than the 6-0, 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Serena the week earlier in Montreal. Encouraged, Stosur took a wild card to The Connecticut Open, the final event leading into the 2014 U.S. Open.

 

In her opening round in New Haven, Stosur battled past a game opponent in Kurumi Nara. Nara is relatively new to the scene. “I never played her before, never seen her hit a ball, to be honest with you,” Stosur admitted after the match. But the Japanese player has had recent success, reaching the finals of Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, propelling her to a career high ranking of No. 32, not that far from Stosur’s own ranking. It was an up and down match: Nara grabbed an early lead, Stosur came from a 1-5 deficit to win the first set, Stosur lost match point opportunities in the second set, and finally took hold of the match in the final set. Stosur was happy to come through with the win. “Anytime you can battle through a match like that, it’s great for your confidence and belief… you can’t work on those things in practice.”

 

Like Montreal and Cincinnati, the road in New Haven gets much tougher for Stosur in the second round. Genie Bouchard, the Canadian success story who has risen to No. 8 in the world with her Wimbledon runner-up result, awaits. Stosur beat Bouchard in a tournament final in Japan last October, but they have been on separate paths since then. Stosur acknowledged the battle ahead against Bouchard: “She’s obviously improved a lot in the last ten or twelve months, and (she’s) putting consistent results together especially in grand slams. Two semis [Australian and French Opens] and a final [Wimbledon], you’re doing something well.” A win over Bouchard would be the best win for Stosur over the last 12 months, and could put her back on the road to the Top Twenty.

Around the grounds… Four time New Haven champ Caroline Wozniacki overcame a slow start to defeat Timea Bacsinszky, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2… Bouchard nabbed her first win since Wimbledon, crushing Bojana Jovanovski, 6-1, 6-1… Caroline Garcia of France lost in the final round of qualifying, but advanced to the main draw when the No. 8 seed, Carla Suarez Navarro, withdrew with a gastrointestinal ailment. Garcia’s first round opponent? Irina-Cameila Begu, who defeated her in qualifying. Garcia turned the tables, winning 7-6, 7-6… Sara Errani, seeded No. 7, became the first seed to tumble, losing to Garbine Muguruza, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 18, 2014
Women’s
Singles – First Round

[3] E Bouchard (CAN) d B Jovanovski (SRB) 61 61
[4] C Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] T Bacsinszky (SUI) 46 61 62
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) d [5] [WC] D Cibulkova (SVK) 76(2) 63
G Muguruza (ESP) d [7] S Errani (ITA) 62 36 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 63
[Q] S Peng (CHN) d E Svitolina (UKR) 64 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [Q] M Doi (JPN) 63 46 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d K Nara (JPN) 76(5) 67(10) 62
[LL] C Garcia (FRA) d [Q] I Begu (ROU) 76(4) 76(4)
B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 64 57 63

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

[5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) d S Peer (ISR) / K Piter (POL) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d A Groenefeld (GER) / K Koukalova (CZE) 60 57 14-12
C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL) 76(3) 61

USONP
Men’s
Singles
Championship – Finals

[1] S Singh (IND) d [2] J Dadamo (USA) 62 62

USONP
Women’s
Singles
Championship – Finals

C Whoriskey (USA) d M Gordon (USA) 26 62 61

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2014
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
WTA – A Riske (USA) vs [6] F Pennetta (ITA)
WTA – [LL] C Garcia (FRA) vs B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
WTA – [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) vs [WC] N Gibbs (USA) / G Min (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [1] S Halep (ROU) vs M Rybarikova (SVK)
WTA – E Makarova (RUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)

GRANDSTAND start 2:00 pm
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs K Pliskova (CZE) / K Pliskova (CZE)
WTA – G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

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Defending Champ Rafael Nadal Withdraws from US Open with Wrist Injury

Nadal at changeover

(August 18, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – The USTA has announced that reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal, of Spain, has withdrawn from this year’s US Open men’s singles tournament due to a right wrist injury.

 

Statement from Rafael Nadal:

 

“I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament on which I’ve played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

 

“Siento anunciar que no podré participar en el US Open, torneo en el que en los últimos años he tenido muy buenos resultados. Entenderéis que es un momento duro para mi porque es un torneo que me encanta y en el que tengo muy buenos recuerdos, de los fans, de los partidos nocturnos, de tantas cosas. No me queda otra que aceptar que no puedo competir este año y como siempre trabajar para que cuando vuelva esté preparado de la mejor manera para competir.”

 

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Connecticut Open – Day 1

Connecticut_Open_logo

Connecticut Open – Day 1

 

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 17, 2014) NEW HAVEN -First Round Action: Sixth seed Flavia Pennetta advanced to the second round of the Connecticut Open defeating Klara Koukalova. Koukalova was a semifinalist here last year, and had defeated Pennetta in New Haven in 2011 …Ekaterina Makarova scored a routine win over Roberta Vinci, 63 63, setting up a second round match against No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova. Makarova defeated Kvitova two weeks ago in the third round of Montreal. Makarova has compiled a very consistent record in 2014; the lowest ranked player she’s lost to this year was No. 26 Svetlana Kuznetsova in Washington, D.C…. Alison Riske defeated Casey Dellacqua in straight sets, snapping a four match losing streak that dated back to her third round Wimbledon loss to Maria Sharapova… Camilla Giorgi, ranked No. 37, defeated Coco Vandeweghe ranked no. 38. Only 3 points separated the two players in the August 11, 2014 rankings.

Qualifying: Sunday’s play at The Connecticut Open saw six players advance to the main draw from the Qualifying event: Belinda Bencic, Shaui Peng, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Timea Bacsinszky, and by winning third set tiebreaks, Misaki Doi and Irina-Camelia Begu.  Qualifiers have had great success in New Haven. In three of the last five years, a qualifier has reached at least the quarterfinals. The most successful qualifier in recent years was Petra Cetkovska, who reached the New Haven final in 2011, defeating Li Na, Marion Bartoli, and Agnieszka Radwanska en route.
All Access Hour: Petra Kvitova, comparing her 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon wins: “I enjoyed it a little bit more the second time. I feel it is more special a little bit…This year, I felt like I was the favorite for the matches, so it was more difficult.” Kvitova enjoys playing in New Haven, comparing it to the calm before the storm that is the U.S. Open… Simona Halep is attempting her first successful title defense in New Haven. There’s pressure involved in defending her title and the ranking points that come with it, but Halep is quietly confident about her chances: “I’m also relaxed because I played good last week and I’m 100%”… Caroline Wozniacki Is happy with her current form, and feels her close matches to Serena Williams in the past two weeks is proof that her play is on the upswing. But she is concerned about one thing: cookies. “The worst part about (New Haven) is they’ve opened up this cookie shop right around the corner… that is very dangerous.” Wozniacki is doing a lot of running off-court, not only to work off the cookies, but to prepare for the New York Marathon. She will be running for the charity Team For Kids., which raises funds for health and fitness programs for kids… Genie Bouchard breaks down the top 50 players: “The most important thing at this level is the mental side. It’s really about who can play their best in the high pressure situations or on big stages.” When asked about setting Canadian tennis records, Genie cited her Junior Wimbledon title (2013) and becoming the first Canadian to win a Singles Slam “It was huge for me. I made history for my country.”

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

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Roger Federer Takes Sixth Cincinnati Crown for 80th Career Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After making the final of four Masters 1000 events this year, Roger Federer has finally broken through to win his first title at that level since 2012. After beating fellow top 10 players Andy Murray and Milos Raonic to reach the final, Federer’s opponent at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, was world No. 6 Spaniard David Ferrer, who has troubled the world No .3 lately, but had not beaten Federer in their 15 career matches.

 

Like their quarterfinal played out in Toronto last week, their meeting at the Lindner Family Tennis Center today also went three sets, with 33-year-old Federer giving away the middle set to his 32-year-old opponent.

 

With Federer serving first, both players held easily until Ferrer – serving at 3-4 – double faulted twice to hand Federer the break. Although Federer consolidated for 6-3, it was not before he went down 0-40 and proceeded to save four break points, perhaps a sign of what was coming in the following set.

 

“Let’s not talk about the second set,” Federer joked after the match, perhaps offering some insight into the kind of mentality that brought his title count to 80 today. “I can dwell on it for like 30 minutes if you want and then the press conference is over and we talked about the second set rather than the good stuff.”

 

The second set saw Ferrer tighten up his return game, find his rhythm and apply pressure on Federer’s serve, breaking the Swiss twice for a 6-1 second set. However, said Federer, “I did get some momentum back I think at the end of the second set, even though I did end up losing it 6‑1. I really thought I was feeling better again towards the end of the second set, like he felt better at the end of the first.”

 

Federer, who has reached 8 finals in 2014, compared to a total of 3 in 2013, led with his serve in the third set, when he served 4 of his 6 aces in the match. “The third set he serve unbelievable,” said Ferrer, who was unable to make his opponent save any break points in the final set, while Federer broke him twice for a final score of 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Federer remains unbeaten in Cincinnati finals, and holds a record 6 titles there.

 

“We’ve never played each other in slams,” said Federer when asked about his one-sided rivalry against Ferrer, “So from that standpoint, like I mentioned the other day, head‑to‑heads don’t mean everything.”

 

Having played ten matches in 13 days, Federer said that on Monday, he considered not playing the Western & Southern Open, in order to conserve energy for next week’s US Open. “I could have just not played here,” said Federer, “And gone into the Open feeling good about my chances, now I feel even better, you know. On the flip coin, what was the other plan? Practice? Take a few days off? But then I have to grind out in the practice. I still believe matches are the best practice right now.”

 

For Federer it was his 80th career singles title.

 

Earlier, Serena Williams beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 to claim her first Cincinnati title, while Bob and Mike Bryan ended Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock’s 14-match winning streak when they beat them in the doubles final 6-3, 6-2 for their fifth title in Cincinnati. Americans were also winners in the women’s doubles, where Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears played Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who retired injured from the match trailing 1-6, 0-2.

 

The Western & Southern Open also set new attendance records, drawing 191, 752 fans over 16 sessions to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney who was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days

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Serena Williams Wins First Cincinnati Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2017) MASON, OHIO – Serena Williams proved on Sunday she’s in slam-winning form, by taking out Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Western & Southern Open, her last match before the US Open begins in New York.
Williams only dropped one set the whole week, on the way to a 62nd WTA title, and was convincing at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, serving 12 aces and only being broken once – in the first game of the match – on her way to a straight-sets win which took just over an hour.

 

Ivanovic joked after her loss that it “Felt like way more” than 12 aces were being fired at her by the world No.1. “She served a lot bigger and was placing it a lot better. It was very hard for me to read her serves too.” The Serbian world No. 11 had raced out to a 3-1 lead, using her cross-court forehand to dictate points from the baseline, before the world No. 1 was able to assert herself in the match. “She was obviously at that point playing so well,” said Williams, “It was good for me to just kind of get through that moment.”

 

The 32-year-old American did exactly that by jumping on Ivanovic’s first and second serves, hitting clean winners off the return of serve and breaking in the 6th game to level the score. Serving to stay in the first set, Ivanovic hit two consecutive double faults to lose the set 4-6.

 

“That’s something that you cannot do,” Ivanovic said of her two double faults, “Especially against Serena when she’s at her best, like I thought she was today. Then serve fell apart because I tried to force it a little too much. She makes you go for more. That’s when the unforced errors creep in, too.”

 

After Ivanovic held for 1-1, Williams closed out the match in dominant form, losing a total of 5 points on her way to 6-1, hitting two aces in her final service game. “My first day of practice here something just clicked,” said Williams, “I was playing better and I was serving better.”

 

“This is definitely a level that could take me to the title,” said Williams, referring to the US Open which begins next week, a couple of weeks before her 33rd birthday on September 26. “I feel great I think at 32,” she said, “I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in. I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit. 32 is the new 22, right?”
Ivanovic, whose previous best result in Cincinnati was a semifinal which she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2010, will begin next week in the WTA’s top 10 for the first time in 5 years. “It’s the biggest final I’ve been in in a while,” said the 26-year-old, “It feels good to be part of it. I just want now to keep working hard and keep improving the areas that I can. There are still few points in my game that I feel I need to work on for the US Open and also for the end of season. Definitely exciting times.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Serena Williams and David Ferrer Reach Cincinnati Finals

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 16, 2014) MASON, OHIO - Serena Williams and David Ferrer are through to their respective finals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. To win her first title in Cincinnati after reaching last year’s final, said Williams, “It would mean a lot. I haven’t had an opportunity to win this one. It’s a tournament in the States. It would be great for me and for American tennis.”

 

To reach the final, she had to get past an in-form Caroline Wozniacki in a see-saw match that saw Williams go down a set 2-6 to the 12th seed before swinging the momentum back in her favor and taking the second set 6-2.

 

Williams alluded to some physical wear and tear, perhaps from 12 matches in the last 3 weeks, saying her lower back was feeling ‘super tight’ in the match. “That’s when I really relaxed, to be honest,” said Williams, “By then I was able just to go for more shots and come to the net more and just kind of just not have anything to lose.”

 

“I’m fine,” Williams elaborated about her physical condition leading into the US Open, “Just played a lot of tennis in three weeks. I’ve won one, semis in another. I’ve just been going, going, going, going. So that’s it. Just a little wear and getting my body used to playing matches, because my body is not used to playing a lot of matches anymore this year.”

 

Although she was broken 8 times throughout the match, Wozniacki dropped her serve a total of 8 times, also serving 8 double faults. “I was serving pretty well in the beginning,” said Wozniacki, who also lost to Williams in last week’s Roger’s Cup quarterfinal, “But then I kind of just lost a little bit of timing. Then trying to work my way back in, it’s hard.”

 

Between Williams and Wozniacki, there were only 3 holds of serve in the final set, compared to 7 breaks. “Hopefully my arm will be OK tomorrow. We’ll see.” said Williams, who fired off 4 aces in the final set to take the match, and will face either Maria Sharapova or Ana Ivanovic in the final.

 

Meanwhile David Ferrer has reached his 7th career Masters 1000 by beating Julien Benneteau in the first men’s semi-final. Pleased to be appearing in his debut semi-final at this level, Benneteau lasted 1 hour and 11 minutes on Center Court against his opponent who was long ago dubbed The Wall because of his retrieving abilities. “When he has the ball on the racquet, on the return,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, outlining the type of stress the Spaniard typically causes most of his opponents, “He doesn’t miss anything. Never, never, never.”

 

Ferrer, known more for his returning than his serving, won 75% of points on first serve, and saved the only break point Benneteau made him face during the match. After winning the match 6-3, 6-2, Ferrer was asked who his preferred opponent would be out of the next semi-final. “Well, you know, with Roger,” said Ferrer, “I never beaten him, so of course I prefer Milos. It’s normal.” Ferrer will be focusing singularly on the Western & Southern Open final to be played on Sunday. “I don’t care the US Open in these moments,” he said, “US Open is going to be in two weeks or one week. This tournament is very important for me and for everybody because. Is one Master 1000.”
While Canadian up-and-comer Milos Raonic has the odds stacked against him in his semi-final, never having beaten Roger Federer in their five meetings, Ana Ivanovic has won her most recent match against Maria Sharapova, although Sharapova leads their rivalry 8 wins to 3.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Raonic Sets Up Semifinal Date Against Federer in Cincinnati

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 15, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After the disappointment of failing to reach the semifinal of his home Masters 1000 last week in Toronto, Milos Raonic has breezed into the Western & Southern Open semifinal today in Cincinnati. While Raonic’s 6-1, 6-0 win over Fabio Fognini might seem ominous, his semifinal opponent will be Roger Federer who defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 in the evening session.

 

Fognini – who had advanced to his first career quarterfinal in Cincinnati – ran out of luck as he stepped up against the big-serving Canadian. In a match lasting 57 minutes, Raonic’s serve statistics were troubling for his opponent. He only lost 4 points the whole match behind his first serve, and of the 10 he lost behind his second serve, 3 were double faults. “You can’t really control him,” said Raonic of his often erratic opponent, “It can be very sporadic at times. You just focus on yourself and make sure you do yourself and see and adjust to how things are coming from him as you go.”

 

Although the 27-year-old Italian forced Raonic to successfully defend 7 break points in the second set, he had fewer points than that won on his own serve, and was unable to get on the scoreboard. Despite having two game points in the last game of the match, Fognini double-faulted twice. The last play of the match was a Fognini foot-fault, reminiscent of his loss last year in Cincinnati to Radek Stepanek, where he deliberately foot-faulted to lose the match, before being booed off the court.

 

In Friday’s first men’s quarterfinal, Julien Benneteau scored an upset win over 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in three sets on Center Court. Despite the Swiss racing away to a 6-1 lead, Benneteau drew on the confidence of his winning career record against Wawrinka, and was able to turn the match around, losing only three more games, taking the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

 

“At the end of first set,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, of how he turned the match around, “I talk to myself and I said, OK, if I don’t change anything it’s going to be 1 and 3 in 50 minutes and you’re going to lose it. So I said that I need to play harder from the baseline and to put a little bit more intensity in my strokes. Even if I miss it’s OK, but I have to play like this. I thought that the two, three first games of the second set are going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough fight, and I prepare myself to resist to that. I say, OK, you have to stay in the game. You have to take the score. And I broke in the first game, on his first service game in the second set.”
Making his first career appearance at a Masters 1000 semifinal, world No.41 Benneteau is looking forward to the opportunity, saying, “Of course it means something. But the tournament is not done, and I still have a lot to do. We will see.” His semifinal opponent will be David Ferrer, who ousted fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo earlier on Friday.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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