2014/10/25

Ferrer Nets 600th Win to Advance to Valencia Semis Along with Murray

Ferrer 600

By Florian Heer

(October 24, 2014) VALENCIA – The first and third seeds headlined the action on Day 5 at the Valencia Open.

Three-time Valencia champion David Ferrer defeated Tomaz Bellucci in only 67 minutes winning 6-1, 6-2. It was the 600th career win for the Spaniard, who has become the fourth active player to accomplish the feat after Roger Federer (987), Rafael Nadal (706) and Lleyton Hewitt (611). Ferrer was congratulated with a celebratory cake on Centre Court by his nephew and Tournament Director, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“It’s great to achieve this victory here at home in Valencia in front of the people I love most,” the No. 5 from Javea said and he added that the two greatest victories in his career were winning the Masters final in Paris Bercy in 2012 and defeating Juan Martin Del Potro in the 2011 Davis Cup final.

“Actually I prefer courts, which are a little bit faster. So the surface here will not be an advantage for me tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough match with a long rallies.”

Ferrer is looking forward to another clash with Andy Murray after both had met in Shanghai as well as in Vienna’s final last Sunday and is more than satisfied with Friday’s announcement that the Valencia Open will be part of the ATP Tour calendar for at least another two years. “It’s good news for myself and the people from Valencia that the tournament will remain here for another two years. I’m very happy with this fact,” Ferrer, as one of the tournament’s three owners, told.

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The Valencia Open’s No. 3, Andy Murray, who has won 15 of his last 17 matches, went up against seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson for the fourth time with the Brit edging their head to head 2-1 before Friday’s encounter. After the Scot had lost the opening set in the tie-break, Murray gained the decisive break in the ninth game of the second to take the match the distance, where he began to outplay his opponent more and more. After two hours and 43 minutes, Murray sealed victory winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

It was a very tough match today with a lot of long games and long rallies. I started to serve a little bit better at the end of the second set and I created some chances on his service games. Nonetheless, it was extremely close. Matches like this are tough on the body as well as tough on the mind. A lot of the games could have gone the other way but I managed to get through,” Murray said afterwards.

“The match tomorrow will be an important one, as was last week and also in Shanghai. This tournament is very important to remain the chance of qualifying for London but next week in Paris will be also a deciding factor. Regardless of what is happening now here, I think it was a good decision to play in Valencia. So I have the chance to influence what will happen in the ATP Race. Rather I will play against David (Ferrer) in the semi-finals than someone else. If I win that match, I’ll put myself in a great position,” the Brit said about qualifying for the final showdown.

“Players, who win a Grand Slam deserve to be in the biggest competition at the end of the year. That’s my opinion. But as I said the last few weeks if I worked for the ATP Tour, I would want ATP tournaments to have more value. Of course I would be disappointed if I couldn’t make it to London because I’m playing this many tournaments trying to finish within the top-8. That’s what I want to do. Normally I would play two tournaments in Asia and two tournaments in Europe. Now, there are still ten days left, one more week to London,” Murray explaining about adding a few tournaments to his schedule.

Jeremy Chardy defeated Spanish Wild Card Pablo Carreňo-Busta for a second time in their second meeting winning 6-1, 6-2 in only 51 minutes.

“It was easier than I might have expected,” the 27-year-old Frenchman was happy reaching his second semi-final of the season. “Pablo is a good player. I played against him at the beginning of the year in Vina del Mar and back then it was a tough match but today I was very solid. Maybe Pablo also had to deal with a bit of pressure today playing in front of his home crowd. Nonetheless, since the beginning of the tournament I feel really good.”

“This has been my best year so far. I play very solid and I’m happy with my game. I hope that I can continue playing like this here in Valencia. I really like the court here, it seems to suit my game very well.

The French will battle Tommy Robredo in the semi-finals. The 32-year-old Spaniard beat compatriot Pablo Andújar 7-6, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes in the final singles match of the day, recording his first victory in three meetings between the two.

“It was a very intense match today with a lot of ups and downs. Chardy is a great player with a very good serve. It will be a very tough match and I have to plan a good strategy to be successful in the end,” the Spaniard said. On Saturday, Robredo is within reach of another ATP milestone. The world No. 21 is now one match away from his 500th career win.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer. He is in Valencia covering the Valencia Open as media for Tennis Panorama.

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Semifinals set at WTA Finals while Serena Williams clinches year-end No. 1

 

By Stephanie Neppl

 

(October 24, 2014) SINGAPORE – Semifinal berths and the year-end WTA No. 1 ranking were on the line as the last round of WTA Finals round-robin play began on Friday.

 

Many scenarios existed to see who would be playing in Saturday’s semifinals, with just Simona Halep having already secured her spot. In the end, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams would complete the semifinal line-up.

 

Here’s how the day’s matches unfolded:

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Sharapova had to beat Radwanska in straight sets to keep her hopes alive to advance to the semifinals. The two had a messy start to the match as both hit a fair share of errors as they settled in. Sharapova broke first to go up 2-1, but couldn’t consolidate as both players struggled to find their consistency.

 

Break points were frequent, and it was Sharapova who would get a critical break at 4-4 to serve out the first set. Up 5-4, the Russian was broken after saving three break points so the set was level again at 5-5. But three winners in the next game helped Sharapova break again and she served out the set on her second try, 7-5.

 

The second set looked to be quick for the world No. 2, who raised her game and Radwanska looked resigned to the loss. Sharapova went up 5-1 and had two match points on the Pole’s serve to clinch a straight set win. From that stage, Radwanska started playing solid tennis and she broke Sharapova’s serve twice to get herself back in the match at 5-5.

 

Sharapova twice served for the match, but never reached match point on her own serve. The set eventually went to a tiebreaker, and the momentum was still on Radwanska’s side. She was able to nose ahead in the tiebreak as Sharapova errors kept her behind the whole way. Down 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the Russian double faulted to end her chances to advance to the semifinals. By dropping the set, Sharapova was eliminated from the WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams clinched year-end #1 for the fourth time.

 

Despite letting the second set slip away, Sharapova was able to regroup and broke Radwanska twice in the third set to win the last four games for the 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win to end her season with a victory.

 

Sharapova said after the match that she was happy to end the tournament with a win. “I just really wanted to win this match. I had so many chances and it was just not the way that I wanted to go out in the tournament. That was my goal no matter how physical the match or how tough it was to lose that second set was, I wanted to win it.”

 

[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki had already qualified for the semifinals, but she took on Kvitova with the chance to finish 3-0 and finish atop the White Group. Kvitova needed to win the match in order to move on the semifinals, or else Radwanska was in.

 

Kvitova got off to a solid start, breaking early for a 2-1 lead. But Wozniacki was hitting freely and much more aggressively than usual, most likely due to the fact she had already advanced to the semifinals. The Dane reeled off five straight games to take the first set, 6-2.

 

The Czech, who admitted that she was feeling “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week, showed she wasn’t going away and her huge groundstrokes helped her race out to a 2-0 lead. But it all fell apart again for Kvitova, and Wozniacki’s defense and consistency helped her get a key break at 4-3, and she served out the match for a 6-2, 6-3 win.

 

The victory meant Kvitova, known for her indoor tennis prowess, was out of the 2014 WTA Finals with a 1-2 record and Radwanska finished second in the White Group.

 

Wozniacki finished atop the White Group and said it’s been a great week so far in Singapore. “It’s been a great week. I think I have nothing to complain about. Great tennis and some good wins. It’s just been really nice. You know, I’ve been playing some really good tennis, and today I think is one of the best matches I’ve ever play.”

 

[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)

The final round-robin singles match was full of intrigue, as the fate of world No. 1 Serena Williams’ standing at the tournament rested on Simona Halep. If Ivanovic managed to defeat Halep in straight sets, Williams was out and Ivanovic would be in the WTA Finals semifinals for the first time since 2007.

 

It all seemed to be going Halep’s, and Williams’, way in the first set. Halep jumped out to a 5-2, double break lead and served for the set. From that stage, she lost four straight games as Ivanovic became more aggressive and many Halep backhands, her best shot, repeatedly found the net.

 

Halep steadied the ship to hold serve down 5-6 and the two engaged in a tense tiebreak. Ivanovic took a 5-2 lead but a forehand error and double fault helped Halep level it at 5-5. The Romanian had a set point up 6-5, but hit a forehand into the net. Ivanovic then hit a backhand long up set point at 7-6 before she managed to grab another set point with a forehand winner and she sealed her first set comeback as she won the tiebreak, 9-7.

 

The second set moved along similarly to the first set, with Halep showing no signs of giving anything but her all in the match. She again led 4-1 before handing the break back while serving at 4-2. But this time, the Romanian would not relent, and she broke at 4-3 and served out the set at love.

 

With the loss of a set, Ivanovic would no longer advance to the semifinal stage, meaning Williams was in. But the Serbian fought hard in the third and broke to go up 5-3 in an effort to end her 2014 season with a win. She served out the match at love to take it 7-6 (7) 3-6 6-3.

 

Ivanovic admitted her disappointment that she did not advance to Saturday’s semifinals. “Yeah, it’s mixed emotions obviously because I feel like it was such a great match tonight, yet it’s such a low not to be able to qualify for the semifinals. Still, on a positive note I won two matches, finished the season with a victory. It’s been amazing year for me.“

 

So, the semifinals will be Williams against Wozniacki and Halep versus Radwanska. Williams leads the head to head 9-1, while Halep leads hers 4-2.

 

RESULTS – OCTOBER 24, 2014
Singles – Round Robin – Red Group
[7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d [4] Simona Halep (Romania) 76(7) 36 63

Final Standings
1) Simona Halep 2-1 (.714 sets)
2) Serena Williams 2-1 (.667 sets)
3) Ana Ivanovic 2-1 (.537 sets)
4) Eugenie Bouchard 0-3

Round Robin – White Group
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) d [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 75 67(4) 62
[8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 62 63

Final Standings
1) Caroline Wozniacki 3-0
2) Agnieszka Radwanska 1-2 (.479 sets)
3) Maria Sharapova 1-2 (.464 sets)
4) Petra Kvitova 1-2 (.431 sets)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) d [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / R Vinci (Italy) 21 ret.

Saturday’s schedule:

Centre Court – 12:00 pm Start

[2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (CHN) vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Not before 2:30 pm

(1) Serena Wiliams vs. (8) Caroline Wozniacki

 

Not before 6:00 pm

(4) Simona Halep vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska

[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe)/Sania Mirza (India) vs. Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

 

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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Ferrer and Murray Reach Quarterfinals of Valencia Open

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By Florian Heer

(October 23, 2014) VALENCIA – After their meeting in Vienna’s final last Sunday, David Ferrer and Andy Murray continue their pursuit of valuable points for the ATP Race to London on Day 4 at the Valencia Open 500.

The Spanish top-seed, who started his bid for a fourth title crown in Valencia with a straight set victory over Andreas Seppi, went up against his compatriot Fernando Verdasco for the 17th time. Ferrer emerged victorious from all of the last five meetings and was also in command in Thursday’s encounter. The world No. 5 advanced to the quarterfinal after 67 minutes winning 6-3, 6-2 without facing a break point.

“It wasn’t an easy win today but I played very well and consistent without a lot of mistakes,” Ferrer said afterwards. My serve was pretty good and I’m happy with my game today. It was important to win my first match against Seppi. It was difficult as the conditions are different compared to last week in Vienna but of course it is great to play in front of your home crowd with your family and friends courtside.”

The Spanish top-seed will face Tomaz Bellucci next who received a walkover when his opponent Roberto Bautista-Agut wasn’t able to compete in the final match of the day due to abdominal problems.

Vienna champion Andy Murray, who returned to Valencia for the first time since 2010, downed Jürgen Melzer in the opening round 6-3, 6-3 and took on Fabio Fognini for the fourth time. The British wild card lost the final meeting between the two in the Davis Cup earlier this year but was in total control of Thursday’s match. Murray didn’t face one single break point and served out after 72 minutes winning 6-2, 6-4. It was also the Scot’s 100th career win indoors.

“The surface is much slower here compared to Vienna last week,” Murray said. “The balls are much slower, there are more rallies and you have to do a bit of re-adjustment to Vienna. The quality of the tournament has improved. The hospitality for the players has improved a lot since the first year as well as the facilities and I enjoy being here again,” the Scot said about his comeback to Valencia.

“Over the last few months, I have started to get my consistency back and I feel better. It’s normally a good sign that I’m able to win matches, in which I haven’t been playing well. Nonetheless, I think that I can definitely keep improving,” explained Murray, who returned to tenth position in the ATP World Rankings this week after a six-week stint outside the top 10.

Pablo Andújar, who captured his first Top 10 win in more than two years with a straight set victory over second-seeded Tomas Berdych in the opening round continued his streak beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-2 in 70 minutes.

In the only singles match played outside the Agora Centre Court, Jeremy Chardy advanced to his seventh quarterfinal of the season beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 after two hours and two minutes. The Frenchman will play Pablo Carreňo-Busta next.

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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Serena Williams Receives Written Apology from Russia’s Tennis Chief

Serena Williams

(October 23, 2014) Serena Williams told media in Singapore at the WTA Finals on Thursday that she has received a written apology from Russian Tennis President Shamil Tarpischev.

During her post-match news conference after dismantling Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 said: “Yes, I have received ‑‑ he has reached out to apologize to both myself and my sister.”

“It was written. No, I did not speak to him,” Williams added.

The WTA fined and suspended Tarpischev for offensive comments made during his appearance on a Russian TV show including referring to the Williams sisters as the “Williams brothers.”

The WTA fines the Russian tennis chief $25,000 and suspended from tour for a year.

 

Related articles:

Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

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

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WTA Finals race to the semifinals heats up; Halep first through

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 23, 2014) SINGAPORE – With three round robin singles matches on tap for Thursday, it was a full-day of at action at the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
[6] Agniezska Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki battled her good friend Radwanska and ended on the good side of a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 match. Radwanska struck early, going up 2-0, but the pair traded breaks back and forth in the first set, and the crowd was treated to many long rallies and crafty play, especially by Radwanska.

The Pole led 3-1, but Wozniacki was able to pull even at 3-3 and the two held serve until the Dane was able to get a break at 5-5. The quality of play got better as the set progressed with Radwanka’s ability to place the ball paired against Wozniack’s great defense. At 5-5, Wozniacki got more aggressive on her returns and was able to break and she held her own serve at 6-5 to take the first set.

In the second set, Radwanska’s groundstrokes continued to let her down, and it was Wozniacki who broke at 3-3 and won the final three games to secure a second round robin win.

“I think it was really tough match overall,” Wozniacki said after the match. “I just kept fighting for every point. There was some ridiculous shot making there at times.”

Radwanska agreed that the crowd witnessed some great tennis, but said for her it was not enough. “Well, I think of course it was couple of amazing rallies and of course couple amazing shots as well. But just not enough, I guess, in that match. I think those shots and the other shots, it all makes good match. But I think I think I just needed some more good serves as well in that match.”

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
After both losing their opening matches, Sharapova and Kvitova met with a lot on the line for each to stay in contention for the semifinals. Sharapova had won the past five matches against the Czech, who had last beaten the Russian back in the 2011 Wimbledon final.

It seemed that trend would continue as a pumped up Sharapova broke to start the match as Kvitova was missing her shots.

But in the blink of an eye, Kvitova took over the match. She reeled off five straight games and threatened to hand Sharapova a moral bagel. Down 5-2, Sharapova finally held serve but she could not contain Kvitova’s huge serving as she closed out the first set, 6-3.

In the second set, the crowd waited for Sharapova to find her way back in the match, but Kvitova hit winner after winner. Up 5-0 and serving for the match, Sharapova broke her opponent to deny a bagel set, but down 1-5 Sharapova she would face two match points. Kvitova missed her return on both points, and the Russian held on for a second game in the set. But it wasn’t enough, and Kvitova closed out the match on her second try, 6-3, 6-2.

Kvitova admitted later in her news conference that she was “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week. “So I didn’t practice today as all and I just really relaxed and clean my mind a little bit. I knew that I have a game to beat Maria. So everything what I did today was really good, and I’m glad that I beat her and I have still a chance to go in semifinal.”

Sharapova said that she didn’t feel as sharp in the match as she has against Kvitova in the past. “She served really well. Not fast, but found her spots really well,’ she said. “But I just don’t feel that I reacted as well in her bigger shots. She’s someone that likes to play aggressive and hit the ball, and very deep as well. She countered my shots extremely well and I was just never ready for the next ball. That made it quite difficult for me.”

To advance to the semifinals, Sharapova’s only hope is to win straight sets as well as Wozniacki winning in straight sets.

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)

With every game counting toward Williams’ race to advance to the semifinals and try to hold onto her #1 ranking, she faced Bouchard for the first time since 2013 Cincinnati 2012, when the American battled for a three-set win in their only previous match.

Bouchard has had a standout season, but since reaching the Wimbledon final her record was a lowly 8-8 leading into her final round-robin match.

Williams was coming off her worst loss since 1998, and she put memories of that match behind her with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Bouchard. The Canadian quickly went down 0-40 in her first service game but would hold. From then, Williams was far too strong and she won 11 straight games before Bouchard knew what hit her. She could save face by holding serve to get on the board in the second set, but Williams served out the match in her first try for the 58-minute victory.

The world No. 1 said she had to get over her 6-0, 6-2 loss to Halep on Wednesday in order to be ready for today’s match. “I was really disappointed in my play yesterday. I tried, but it didn’t work out for me. I don’t really recover well from losses, but I had a really long talk with Patrick. He just was, you know, telling me what I needed to do and how to get over it.”

The loss to Williams meant an end to Bouchard’s season, and she said she enjoyed the experience in Singapore despite her 0-3 record. “Yeah, it’s been fun. Definitely a unique experience compared to any other tournament, one I would love to come back it in the future. Definitely disappointed with my play this whole week, but I feel like I can do so much better. That’s a positive I can take out of it as well.”

Williams must await the result of the Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic’s match to see whether or not she will advance to the semifinals.

But the world No. 1 said her fate actually rests on herself. “If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better,” she said. “So whatever happens, happens at this time. I did the best that I could do this week. I should have thought about that sooner.”

2014 WTA Finals Scenarios

Friday is the final day of round robin play in singles, and the last first round doubles match will take place at night following singles.

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
[1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

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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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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Cilic and Pavlyuchenkova Net Moscow Titles

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(October 19, 2014) U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic won the Kremlin Cup on Sunday in Moscow defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 for his 13th ATP World Tour title of his career and his fourth tournament win of the season.

“After winning such a big tournament as a Grand Slam you have a lot of emotions and it’s important to bounce back and keep going,” said the big-serving Croat. “I feel this is going to be a really good push for my career. All the titles are special but this one will definitely have an important spot. It is important for my progress.

“After winning big titles, players are very motivated to play better and they are playing more [risky]. I felt also that this week I had a lot of tough matches and I was able to stay in the battle and bring out my best tennis.”

On Friday Cilic qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Cilci is the first Croatian to win Moscow since his coach Goran Ivanisevic won in 1996.

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

On the ladies side, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 to win the women’s title.

“It’s just the best possible way to end the season,” the home town heroine Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was a really tough match. I just couldn’t have lost at home.”

She is the first Russian woman to win the Kremlin Cup since Elena Dementieva did it in 2007.

For Pavlyuchenkova it’s her seventh title of her career and the second of 2014, having also won at the Paris Indoors.

“After the second set I knew I had to be more energetic and intense out there,” said the Russian. “I knew I had to play my aggressive game and just do something, otherwise she’d be too good. She was playing so well the whole week. The surface really fit her game. I just needed to stop thinking about the score and go for it. I’m happy I could regroup in the third set and win this title at home. I’m extremely happy.”
“It was a great week,” said Begu. “I beat some really good players and this gives me a lot of confidence. She took her chances to step in and dictating the points, so it wasn’t my day. At the same time, I enjoyed the final and did the best that I could.”

 

Pavlyuchenkova and Begu are projected to rise in the ranking to No.25 and No.42 respectively when rankings are released on Monday.
Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev was absent from the trophy presentation. He was banned for a year by the WTA on Friday over comments about the Williams sisters. He attended the men’s trophy presentation.

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