2014/10/23

Halep hammers Williams at WTA Finals

Halep fh

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 22, 2014) SINGAPORE – The 2014 WTA Finals were thrown a curve ball on Wednesday afternoon when Simona Halep took on world No. 1 Serena Williams.

Halep had never beaten the four-time WTA Finals champion but on Wednesday she would not only get her first win, but she handed Williams one of the worst losses of her career.

Halep won the first eight games and wrapped up the 6-0, 6-2 victory in just 65 minutes. It was just the second time in her career that Williams had won just two games in a match. The previous was in a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal defeat to Joannette Kruger in Oklahoma City way back in 1998. Williams was 16 at the time.

Williams started the match with an ace but a double fault and errors led to the first break of the match. Her double fault count kept rising and she did not reach game point in any of her services game in the first set. Halep meanwhile, never faced a break point in the first set and she quickly wrapped up the bagel in 20 minutes.

In the second set, Williams got to game point in her first service game, but Halep would get a fourth straight break and hold to lead 6-0, 2-0. Williams finally got on the board in the third game, overcoming her 7th double fault to hold on her first game point on her serve.

With Halep leading 2-1, the fourth game gave hope that Williams was pulling herself back into the match. Some fantastic rallies kept the crowd entertained as Williams threatened to break back. But Halep held tough, fighting off two break points and hold to lead 3-1. The Romanian then went up a double break and held for a 6-0, 5-1 lead. Williams, renowned for her comebacks when down, had two chances to get a break back as nerves crept into Halep’s game as she tried to serve for her biggest career win. But Halep held strong, and she was rewarded with the 6-0, 6-2 win.

Williams praised her opponent after the match. “I think she played really well, to be honest. Personally I’ve never seen her play like this. Ever. But obviously she had nothing to lose and went for a lot of shots. You know, I think she just played a really, really good game.”

The world No. 1 confirmed she wasn’t not feeling 100% but said that was not a factor in her loss. “I’m definitely not 100% okay. I’m just here playing, but I’m not nowhere near 100%,” she said. “That has nothing to do with today’s match. I think Simona played really well and the best match of her career. To be quite frankly honest, I’m looking forward to our next meeting because she is making me going to go home and work hard and particularly train for her.”

Halep said the win meant a lot to her. “It means a lot, this match. On the important moments I played really well,” she said. “So after today, my confidence went higher.”

The win was Halep’s first over a top three opponent, and she acknowledged beating Williams was huge. “It’s the first time that I beat Serena. She’s No. 1. Yeah, was a dream to beat one of the sisters because they were ‑ they are ‑ very good players. For my mind it’s very important, this victory.”

Halep moved to the top of the Red Group at 2-0 while Serena fell to 1-1.

Earlier in the day session, Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova upset the 4th seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, last year’s WTA Finals runners-up, 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
Not Before 7:30 pm
[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)
[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe) / Sania Mirza (India) vs Raquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA)
Tracy Austin (USA) / Martina Navratilova (USA) vs Marion Bartoli (France) / Iva Majoli (Croatia)

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Wozniacki wins thriller over Sharapova at WTA Finals

Wozniacki in press

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 21, 2014) SINGAPORE – Day one of the 2014 BNP Paribas WTA Finals featured two relatively tidy straight set wins, and play ended by 10:30pm local time.

But day two was anything but straightforward. At 10:30pm Tuesday night, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki were in the early stages of the third set of their match, which had turned into a marathon.

Fittingly the Dane, who is preparing to run in next month’s New York Marathon, pulled out the 3-hour, 13-minute battle that ended just before 11pm local time. The final score: 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-2.

Both players returned to the WTA Finals after an absence. Second seed Sharapova was back after a shoulder injury forced her to miss the event in 2013, while Wozniacki had not qualified for the tournament since 2011 when she was the #1 player on the WTA.

Though Sharapova led the head to head 5-3 before Tuesday’s match, it was Woznaicki who claimed the last victory at the US Open when she won a three-set thriller on her way to the final.

The Dane struck first in the match, racing out to a 3-0 lead. But Sharapova overcame a pair of double faults to get on the board at 3-1 and was able to then break and level the set at 3-3. Sharapova pulled ahead for the first time as she broke to go up 5-4 but two double faults when serving for the set helped hand the break back to Wozniacki. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, and again Sharapova took a lead which she could not keep. Wozniacki battled back from a 2-4 deficit and won five straight points to take the tiebreak 7-6 (4).

The match looked to be going well and truly in Wozniacki’s favor as the second set progressed. She broke and took a 2-0 lead, and up 3-1 threatened to break again before Sharapova held on for 3-2. While serving at 3-2, an issue with the stadium lights bothered Wozniacki and she ended up being broken as the set leveled at 3-3.

With the drama intensifying, Wozniacki resettled to break again and hold for a 5-3 lead and inch closer to her first win at the WTA Finals since a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska in 2011.

Wozniacki served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but could not close out Sharapova, who broke for 5-5 and then held for a 6-5 lead. The next game was full of drama. Wozniacki had two game points to send the match to a tiebreak but failed, and then a Sharapova shot was called in my the linesperson. The Dane had no challenges remaining and she was furious with the call, which was later determined well wide, and it gave Maria a set point. Woznaicki would hold on to force a second tiebreak as the match clock was already at 2 hours, 38 minutes.

The tiebreak was a fairly messy affair, with errors flowing off both players’ racquets. Sharapova went up 3-0 but saw Wozniacki claw her way back into the set to level at 3-3. But the Russian would not be denied and she pulled out the tiebreak, 7-5.

The third set went much quicker, as the Dane broke early as she had in both previous sets. Though Sharapova broke back and held for 2-2, the Russian looked drained and she would lose the final four games and with those, the match.

The win marked only the second time in Wozniacki’s career that she has defeated a WTA top two opponent (her first was against then No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the 2010 WTA Finals).

Wozniacki was pleased to get another hard-fought win over Sharapova.

“I think the first match is always difficult. You have to find your ground out there. I’m just happy to be through,” she said. “ You know, we work so hard physically, and so we’re ready for anything.”

Sharapova, who hit 15 double faults and 76 unforced errors, rued her missed opportunities. “She was the more consistent one” she said. “I felt like I had opportunities in the first set; I didn’t commit to finishing it off when I was serving for it, when I was up in the tiebreaker. You know, it turned into a much tougher match than I feel like it should have been. But I feel like I did that. I can only blame myself for that.”

The doubles draw was held on Tuesday morning, and the 8-team, single-elimination event starts on Wednesday.

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) vs [4] Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) & Elena Vesnina (Russia)

Not Before 4:00 pm
[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [4] Simona Halep (Romania)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
Garbine Muguruza (Spain) & Carla Suárez Navarro (Spain) vs [2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (China)
Tracy Austin (USA) & Marion Bartoli (France) vs Iva Majoli (Croatia) & Martina Navratilova (US

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

wtafinals

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 20, 2014) SINGAPORE – With the top eight WTA players in the world taking center stage in Singapore at the WTA Finals, there’s no such thing as an easy match. But the tournament certainly started off with a bang as top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams took on Ana Ivanovic Monday night.

The debut match of the tournament was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd. Following an opening ceremony that featured WTA Finals ambassador Li Na serving the ceremonial first serve of the event (donning high heels no less), the crowd roared as Williams and Ivanovic took to the court.

The Serbian, back in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2008, dealt Williams her first grand-slam blow of 2014 at the Australian Open with a 4th round win. Since then, the two have played three more times, with the American coming out on top but two of the three battles went deep into third sets before Williams prevailed.

Ivanovic has had one of her best seasons on tour this year, and her return to the Top 10 was accompanied by four titles and 56 total wins, the best on tour.

Heading into the match, Williams boasted a 15-match winning streak at this event. With concerns about her left knee hanging overhead, the world No. 1 faced a pair of break points in her opening service game, but saved both with aces. After a tough hold to start, Williams settled in and quickly took a 4-1 lead as Ivanovic struggled with her serve.

But after holding for 2-4, Ivanovic broke Williams at love, and then leveled the match at 4-4. An energetic crowd watched as the Serbian had a break point that would give her a chance to serve for the first set, but Williams held on. Serving to stay in the set, Ivanovic threw in two double faults, including one down set point, and Williams broke for a 6-4 lead.

Ivanovic immediately broke the Williams serve in the second set, partially due to two double faults by Williams, but she was broken straight back. Each player then held serve until 5-4, when Ivanovic served to stay in the match. Just as in the first set, Ivanovic could not withstand the pressure and she was broken to give Williams the 6-4, 6-4 win and her 16th straight WTA Finals match victory.

Ivanovic was plagued by double faults all night, and she tossed in seven during the match and said later she felt she was rushing her serve. “She was putting a lot of pressure on my serve,” Ivanovic said. “She served really well today I thought and created more pressure on my service game. I didn’t feel my rhythm, so I was trying to make more first serves.”

Williams’ serve, on the flip side, was firing. She hit 12 aces overall, giving her 430 for the season, the most of any player on the WTA Tour. “I was pleased with my serve,” Williams said after the match. “Ana is a very aggressive returner, and I went really hard at my second serve.”

The world No. 1 played without her left knee strapped, and she said it felt much better. “Compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” Williams said. “I’m getting better, which is great.”

The win helps Williams’ chance of wrapping up the WTA year-end No. 1 spot, and now Sharapova will need to reach the final with a 2-1 record or win the title to have a chance to take away the top spot.

In the second match, Simona Halep won the battle of the WTA Finals newcomers over Genie Bouchard, with a tidy 6-2, 6-3 win. Halep raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and even had a point for a 5-0, triple break lead before Bouchard held to get on the board at 1-4. After clinching the first set 6-2, Halep broke early in the second and held on to wrap up the 6-2, 6-3 victory. Bouchard hit 30 errors and 5 double faults in the match.

Tuesday’s schedule features Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki, followed by Petra Kvitova against Agnieszka Radwanska.

ORDER OF PLAY – October 21, 2014

Singapore Indoor Stadium – Start 5:30 pm

Rising Stars Final

Rising Stars Final – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) vs Zheng SaiSai (China)

Not before 7:30 pm

(2) Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs (8) Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

(3) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Murray Wins 30th Title with victory over Ferrer in Vienna

murray with trophy

By Florian Heer

(October 19, 2014) VIENNA – In Sunday’s blockbuster final at the Erste Bank Open the tournament’s two top-seeds as well as ATP World Tour Finals contenders, David Ferrer and Andy Murray, faced each other for the title. It was the first time that two wild cards contested an ATP World Tour Final since s’Hertogenbosch in 2004 when Michael Llodra defeated Guillermo Coria.

Ferrer advanced to his fourth final of the season defeating Tobias Kamke, Ivo Karlovic and Philipp Kohlschreiber on Saturday in the longest match of the tournament so far. Murray, who made his Vienna debut, reached the final without dropping a set beating Vasek Pospisil, Jan-Lennard Struff and Viktor Troicki.

Ferrer had the better start in Vienna’s showdown, capitalized on the unforced errors Murray made in the early stage of the encounter by winning the opening set after 64 minutes. Yet, the Scot found his rhythm in the following and took the final the distance. In an even third set with a couple of breaks on both sides, Ferrer couldn’t serve out in the ninth game and suffered the decisive break in the following. After two hours and 41 minutes, Murray kept his nerve, fired an ace at match point and claimed his 30th ATP title, his first on Austrian soil, winning 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

“It was a tough match with long rallies and long games. Matches against David have never been easy, because he moves and returns well. Mentally the third set wasn’t easy for both of us as we had a lot of ups and downs in our game. Luckily I was more consistent and aggressive at the end,” a happy but also exhausted Murray told afterwards and considered a comeback to Vienna. “I always enjoyed defending my titles. This has already started at the beginning of my career in San José, where I won my very first tournament. Same is valid for St. Petersburg. You prefer returning to a tournament you won than coming back to a spot with bad memories,” the British world number 11 said.

murray ferrer

Ferrer was understandably disappointed but appreciated the great atmosphere in Vienna during this week. “I like this tournament and the centre court. The spectators were great, how they supported all of the players. Of course I’m disappointed but at least I reached another final, that’s positive. In the important moments Andy played more aggressively than me. I wasn’t surprised that he came back in the final set, he has the best return game on the Tour,” the Spaniard analysed. “I still have the chance to qualify for London. There are two more important weeks for me. For sure I prefer winning in London over taking the title at my home tournament in Valencia,” Ferrer added.

Murray will head into the penultimate week of the ATP Race just above cut-off for qualification to London with 3,875 points, 110 points more than Ferrer. Both players will continue their push for a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals at next week’s Valencia Open 500.

Vienna doubles

In the doubles final between two Austrian-German-tandems former Wimbledon and US Open champions Jürgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner gained their first Tour title since 2011 winning 7-6, 4-6, 10-7 over Andre Begemann and Julian Knowle. “Both of us won the singles title here in Vienna, so we wanted to take the doubles as well. This title is very important to us, as we only had the chance to be in the draw with a wild card,” Melzer told. “This week has been like a comeback for us. It feels like a revival. We both had to cope with a lot of injuries in the past and winning the title in the second tournament we are playing together in over one year is like a dream,” Petzschner added. Julian Knowle suffered another defeat in Vienna and remains uncrowned in Austria’s capital. After 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013 the Austrian doubles world number 39 lost his fifth final in the Stadthalle.

Earlier the day, the final news conference took place in which the organizers were satisfied with the week here in Vienna. “We have been working hard for six years to develop the tournament and we could present top-stars like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Juan-Martin Del Potro in the past. A final with Andy Murray and David Ferrer could also take place at a Masters event or even a Grand Slam. All of the players have always pointed out, how comfortable they felt during their stay here in Vienna. It is an open secret that Stockholm offered more money to Murray but he eventually decided in favour of Vienna,” tournament director Herwig Straka told the press. “In terms of numbers, it was our aim to reach the mark of 50.000 spectators this week and it seems that we are going to meet our goal with today’s final,” Straka added and said that it will be a goal in the long run to establish an ATP 500 event in Austria’s capital in case the numbers of tournaments in this category will be extended.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Notes and Quotes: The WTA Top 8 Meet the Press in Singapore

Elite 8

Photo taken from the twitter feed of Maria Sharapova

 

(October 19, 2014) The elite 8 of women’s tennis met the media on Sunday in advance of the WTA Finals which begin on Monday in Singapore. Here are a few notable quotables.

 

Serena Williams responding to Shamil Tarpischev’s comments:

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpishev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

How important is the year‑end No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: “I definitely would be here if I already had it locked up. It’s obviously super important for me. I love being No. 1; I love being the best.

“But at this at the same time, I’m really glad that I was able to get a slam this year, which was really annoying for me that I wasn’t able to capture one.

That was something that was super, super, super important, especially for the goals that I was trying to reach.”

 

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: “Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.

“That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.

“Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.

If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

And the pic of the night…:) pic.twitter.com/x9t3ajMTb1

— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) October 18, 2014

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maria Sharapova was asked about why she tweeted the behind the scenes photo from the draw ceremony.

“Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.

“Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

 

Petra Kvitova was asked about if it feels different to be a Wimbledon winner the second time around.

“It is different. I think that you can’t really know what to expect from that. Just the time show you what you have to do and change in your life probably.

“I mean, I didn’t want to change myself, but of course the things around me was different, so I need to handle it and try to do best what I can.

“The pressure was there of course on the court, off the court as well. I thought that probably I need to win every match and every tournament I’m playing after that, so it’s not really possible.

“Yeah, this time it’s much more easier for me, if I can say that. I know what I can expect and I know a little bit how to deal with that. It’s not really like the first time, so…

“I’m more relaxed and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Agnieszka Radwanska – Queen of the “Hot Shot.” The World No. was asked about her favorite shot that she hit.

“Well, of course it wasn’t that tricky as last year. Well, I have still few matches, so maybe I will do it here.

“I think I really liked that shot from Montreal from the semifinal. The overhead backhand. Maybe someone remember that.

“I think that was my favorite one, especially because it was a really big moment.

 

Ana Ivanovic- embracing Twitter and Istagram. The 2008 French Open winner and former world No. 1 was asked if she has embraced stardom and if it was due to social media and if it has impacted her on court.

That’s why I started Twitter and Instagram actually. Because I ‑‑ like I spoke just now, before I really felt like I changed also in this sense because I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I matured. It helped me to be okay with myself and who I am as a person and to embrace everything that comes with the job that I do.

“For me, I really struggled to be in the spotlight. It was really strange when I won French Open, when I was No. 1 in the world. It took me some time to accept this and to be okay.

“Now I actually enjoy it. That’s why I think it shows on and off the court I’m much more relaxed because I’m much more content with myself.”

 

What Serena has taught Eugenie Bouchard?

“I’ve learned many things. I think one thing that sticks out is that when it’s not going well, you can seeing her really try to calm herself down. She does her little hand thing, and that really symbolizes in my head she’s really trying to stay calm.

“Even someone as good as her has tough moments, and you can see her struggle with emotions a bit on the court. But she can always kind of collect herself and put it in the past and move forward.

“So I always imagine that, and I’m like, You know what? Serena can stay calm, I can stay calm.

 

Caroline Wozniacki – Not looking at the rankings. In a topsy turvy last couple of years for the two-time year-end No. 1, the Dane talks about the rankings.

“I never really looked at the rankings, but I definitely totally stopped when I went down to 18. I’m like, This is depressing. I don’t want to be down here.

“At the end of day, I just told myself, Doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 18. At the end of the day, you have to compete with the same players. A lot of girls play so well now so it’s never easy. I just thought if I play well, the ranking will come back up soon.

“I started playing well, I started finding my form, and then the ranking just came up really quickly.”

 

The recently retired Li Na was asked about having second thoughts about calling it quits:

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32; beginning of the year I already 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now, because last 32 years I was try hard as I can on tennis court.

“Now, you know, tennis is part of the life, so now I have to take care my family.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Singapore this week covering the WTA Finals. Follow on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

 

(October 19, 2014) In her pre-tournament news conference at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Serena Williams responded to comments by Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, who referred to Serena Williams and her sister Venus as the “Williams brothers.”

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpischev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” said the Russian, world No. 2. “It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

On Friday, the WTA Tour levied a $25,000 dollar fine and a year suspension. They also called for Tarpischev to be removed from his post as Chairman of the Kremlin Cup for a year.

Update: WTA Fines and Suspends Shamil Tarpischev for Williams Sisters Comments

The comments were made on a late night Russian TV talk show.

The 33-year-old world No. 1 Williams begins her quest to “three-peat” at the WTA Finals on Monday when she begins round-robin competition in the Red Group against Ana Ivanovic.

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Top Seeds Ferrer and Murray Reach Vienna Open Final

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

By Florian Heer

(October 18, 2014) VIENNA – The final four met on Day 6 at the Erste Bank Open. Top-seeds David Ferrer and Andy Murray continued their push for a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals on semi-final day in Vienna, meanwhile US Open champion Marin Cilic has claimed the fifth spot to make his debut in London this year.

Andy Murray took on Viktor Troicki in the opening match on Centre Court for the sixth time. The world No. 11 had never lost to the Serbian qualifier before and was in total control in Saturday’s match, lost his service only once in the fourth game of the opening set and eventually sealed victory in 82 minutes winning 6-4, 6-3. Murray has reached his only second final of the year after winning the title in Shenzhen earlier this month.

“Every day it’s getting better here,” said the Scot. “I start to get used to the conditions more. All of my last opponents were big servers, so it was not easy to find my rhythm but I managed to get through. Today, it went pretty well but Viktor had his chances in both sets.”

I played well in Rome. I played well at the French Open as well as in Wimbledon with the exception of the match against Dimitrov. I played well at the US Open and in Canada, where I lost to Tsonga with a break up in the third set. I played some decent tennis in Asia and this week has also been good so far. The last three or four months were good,” said Murray reflecting on his performance during the season.

“Ferrer has been playing well for the last few weeks. He has got a lot of motivation because of London, so I expect a close match,” Murray is looking forward to his first final in Vienna. “Getting to thirty (titles) would be a nice number.”

Murray has already been aware of facing Jürgen Melzer in his first round match at the Valencia Open 500 next week. “I played well against Jürgen in the past but we also had some close matches. Normally I have enjoyed playing against left handers throughout my career. My brother is a leftie, so when I grew up, I got used to the spin and the way the play. It has never been a huge issue to me playing against them. Jürgen, however, is a tricky opponent with an unorthodox style hitting a lot of drop shots and he changes the pace of the ball well,” Murray said.

Vienna’s top seed David Ferrer had to fight hard finally overcoming Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(3) after an exciting two hours and 26 minutes. The world No. 5 fought back from being 2-4 down in the final set.

“The tie-break in the third set was obviously the key today,” Ferrer said. I played aggressively and Philipp made more mistakes in the important moments. Step by step I’m getting used to the court here. The balls are very fast and difficult to control. I am still fighting to qualify for London, so it was an important victory for me.

“Tonight I will only have a rest. Playing Andy is always difficult, as he is a very good player. It is irrelevant that I defeated him in Shanghai in our last match. This was outdoors, now we are indoors and I have to serve better than today,” the Spaniard added.

Murray and Ferrer moved up one spot in the ATP Race to London next month. The Scot is now up to eighth and the Spaniard is in ninth position.

Tournament director Herwig Straka is more than happy presenting a “dream-final” to the spectators on Sunday. “Having the first and second seeds clashing each other in the final is great. It is very impressive, how both are playing throughout the week. Despite the nice weather here in Vienna, we hope for a lot of people coming to the Stadthalle tomorrow,” the Austrian said.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Murray, Ferrer, Kohlschreiber and Troicki Reach Semis in Vienna

By Florian Heer

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(October 17, 2014) VIENNA – In a bid for crucial points in the ATP Race to London, David Ferrer and Andy Murray took last minute wild cards into the 40th edition of the Erste Bank Open and both headlined the action on quarterfinal day in Vienna on Friday.

Andy Murray is making his Vienna debut as he continues his push for a Top 8 finish and a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals. It is the first time the Brit has played in four straight post-US Open tournaments since 2008. Murray started his week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Vasek Pospisil on Thursday. In the quarterfinal he clashed German youngster Jan-Lennard Struff for the first time. Murray emerged victorious after 86 minutes winning 6-2, 7-5 but had to work hard for his points.

The world No. 11, who didn’t know much about the German before the match, didn’t seem to be surprised facing such a competitive opponent.

“I expected a good match,” Murray said. “He is a big guy, strong with a good serve. Playing against such a player on indoor courts is always difficult. I had to fight hard. Nonetheless, I was more solid than yesterday and made less mistakes. I changed rhythm and the variety in my shots as much as I could and tried to go for the winners,” Murray explained.

 

Top-seed David Ferrer went up against big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic. The pair has met three times with the Spanish world No. 5 leading their head-to-head record 2-1 before Friday’s encounter. After taking the opening set without any break points, in the tie-break, Ferrer gained the decisive break in the third game of the second and served out by an ace winning 7-6, 6-4 after 84 minutes.

“It was very difficult today because Ivo has the best serve on the Tour,” said the relieved Spaniard afterwards.

“It is very nice to get the support from the people here in Vienna. You feel that the crowd loves tennis and this is very good for us players on the court,” Ferrer said about the Austrian audience, which backed the Spaniard in the important moments of the evening match.

Philipp Kohlschreiber will be the next opponent for the second seed, as he won the first ever all-German encounter against an in-form Benjamin Becker, who reached the stage of the final four in Tokyo two weeks ago, in straight sets winning 6-4, 7-6. The man from Augsburg, who turned 31 on Thursday, hit eleven aces and won 67 percent of his serves to advance to his third semi-final in Vienna after 2008 and 2009.

 

Viktor Troicki

Viktor Troicki

Great Britain’s No. 1 is going to face Viktor Troicki in the next round. The Serbian qualifier has reached his first semi-final since Moscow 2011 winning 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 over Tomaz Bellucci in two hours and 27 minutes.

“I’m happy to reach the semi-finals here in Vienna, a tournament with so many tough players,“ said the Serb. “It has passed a long time since I have reached this stage. I had some pretty close matches here in the qualifying and a long one today. Playing six matches is hard but I’m feeling good and fresh on the court. I felt physically more prepared in the third set. I also felt that Tomaz (Bellucci) was not at 100 per cent, and I took that opportunity to play on the offensive. It worked out well,” Troicki said afterwards.

“Against Andy you have to play smart. You need to play offensive and of course you have to use your chances,” the Serb is looking forward to the match, even though he has never been able to gain a victory against the Brit.”

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Djokovic and Sharapova Win China Open Titles

Novak Djokovic

(October 5, 2014) Novak Djokovic won his 24th straight match in Bejing to caoture his 5th china Open on Sunday, dismantling Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

The Serb was a point away from a “double bagel,” 6-0, 6-0 win over the Czech, who fought off match point and broke Djokovic’s serve.

“This has been, in the circumstances, probably the best performance of any final in my career,” said the world No. 1 who captured his 5th tournament win of the year, 46th in his career. “It was incredible. Incredible. Especially against Tomas, who has a big game and is already an experienced player. It was 6-0, 5-0 in under an hour. Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say of how I played tonight.

“I have played some great finals, had some convincing wins, some straight-set wins against top rivals. But with this kind of performance and with this domination result-wise, I mean it’s never happened.”

Berdych was in stunned disbelief: “I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. The way that he performed today was really outstanding. There is really not much I can add to that because, really, I was just swept off the court.

“I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

 

Sharapova

On the women’s side, in a re-match of the 2011 Wimbledon final, Maria Sharapova moved into the No. 2 spot in the rankings when she beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to win the China Open.

At this time last year the Russian was off the tour with a shoulder injury.

“It’s definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year,” she said. “A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going.”

“I knew she’d been on a roll in the last couple of weeks,” Sharapova said. “It’s probably the toughest opponent you can face in a final, that’s had that success, yet you just want to focus on your side, what you do best.

“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”
“Yeah, I was tired,” said the Czech Kvitova bidding to win tournaments in two straight weeks, playing 9 matches in 13 days. “But it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside. What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that made the difference in the end. I had some chances, but Maria just didn’t let them go.”

For Sharapova it was her fourth title of the season, tying her with Ana Ivanovic for second on the year behind No. 1 Serena Williams who has six titles.

The China Open was Sharapova’s 33rd career title, putting her in a tie for 15th place in the Open Era with Conchita Martinez.

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Djokovic Reaches 5th Beijing Final After 23rd Straight Win

Novak Djokovic

(October 4, 2014) No. 1 Novak Djokovic improved his perfect record to 23-0 in Beijing on Saturday when he defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fifth China Open final.

Despite the straight set score, Djokovic felt as though he worked a lot harder.

“It was a two‑set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points,” the Serbian said. “There was a lot of rally exchanges. He had a lot of chances to come back. He was 4‑3 up. Just in important moments I managed to play the best tennis.”

“I just wasn’t myself on the court,” Djokokic commented about his lackluster performances since winning Wimbledon. “I wasn’t really prepared emotionally to go back and compete again after Wimbledon and a very exhausting summer, everything that happened in my professional and private life.

“I’m glad that I’m back in the form that I would like to be in, especially in these courts where I still haven’t lost ever since I played this tournament.”

Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych for the China Open title on Sunday. Berdych defeated Martin Klizan, who upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-1.

“It’s a final and it’s against Novak,” Berdych said. “It’s really special day for me. Every Sunday that we have to go on court and play, it means a lot because it’s a final. Playing with No. 1 player in the world is always a bit special.

“But Novak is playing in incredible form, back again. Really, he’s having a great record playing here in China Open. There is a new challenge, a new day, a new opportunity for me. I’m going to try to go there, try to take my chance and, again, try to play my tennis. Let’s see what I can do with that.”

IMG_3625-001

On the ladies side, it will be a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon title, with the added bonus for the winner to move to No. 2 in the world with Petra Kvitova facing Maria Sharapova on Sunday.

Kvitova was pushed by Samantha Stosur 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, while Sharapova dominated Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-4.

Kvitova is going for her second title in China in as many weeks. She captured the inaugural Wuhan Open last week.

He chance to move up to No. 2 is not that important to the Czech.

“I was No. 2 already, so I’m not really excited about,” she said. “But, no, I’m kidding.”

“I’m not really focusing on the number. I mean, it’s just number before my name. More important for me are results on the big tournaments and on the Grand Slams, as well.

“So tomorrow I will play for the title, not for be No. 2.”

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