2014/08/28

Sharapova Rebounds to Gain US Open Third Round

 

(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Last year Maria Sharapova sat out the US Open with a shoulder injury. This year the Russian found herself battling to stay in a second round match against Alexandra Dulgheru, down a set and facing a break point.

Sharapova came back to take the second set and outlasted the Romanian 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The world No. 5 felt that fitness was the key to her victory over No. 95.

“She played really well, “Sharapova said “Although I started off really good in the first couple of games, didn’t take the opportunity to go up 3-0. After that she started getting a little bit of a rhythm. It was difficult. Obviously the conditions were tough. You start in the sun; you finish under the lights. It was a very long match. Overall I felt like in the end I was in much better shape than she was and I could have played another few sets. Mentally that helped me a lot.”
In the end, the inflammation in the Romanian’s right wrist which limited her play in the past five weeks, resurfaced.

“I think you always expect yourself, no matter who you’re playing, the conditions, you always want to play well, win the match easy, Sharpaova said. “Sometimes it’s good to kind of look back and think in these types of situations, conditions, all of that. It’s really good to get through, put yourself in a really tough position, but then you’re able to find a way to get back and finish really strong.”

Sharapova is in for a major test in the third round when she faces 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, who just this past July hit the fastest serve for a woman at 131MPH.

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Seeds Radwanska and Stephens Fall at US Open

 

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(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – In the biggest upset of the US Open so far, China’s Shuai Peng beat fourth seed Agniezska Radwanska 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday. The Polish woman is the first top 10 player dismissed from the US Open.

No. 21 seed American Sloane Stephens added to the seed carnage when she fell to No. 96 Johanna Larsson 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Radwanska came into the match with a 3-1 head-to-head record against Peng, but the Chinese woman was the better of the two in long rallies.

“She’s very solid player, very consistent from both side(s), very good from the back,” Radwanska said.

Coming into the match, Peng had a 3-22 career record against the top five.

“Every game was pretty tight and a lot of rallies. Even the serve wasn’t really the big in the weapon in that match, so every game could go either way. But I think in the imRadwanskaportant moments I think she was just playing a little bit better.”

For Radwanska, Flushing Meadows has never been her best major. The best she’s ever done was to reach the fourth round in 2007.

Shuai Peng

Shuai Peng

“ Beginning of match actually I also really nervous, because when the first set start is not like — first game is not really good,” Peng said. “But actually it’s good. I come back into match after two games really good. And then the end I think I just really want to win. My mind, you know, like when I get to match point is really, tight, I just thinking like, you know — I go through again for the Australia Open, to happen again, so like tell myself, you know, like I have to hit the ball. You know, even maybe I missed it I still have to go for my shot because this is my weapon. And then finally the serve I made it.”

For Sloane Stephens Wednesday’s loss was her first loss before the third round in four US Opens. Her Swedish opponent rallied from a set and a break down to get the victory. She lost in the first round of the US Open on four previous occasions.

“Things just got a little shaky,” Stephens said of the match. “Obviously she played some good games after that. Start of the third set I tried to just put it behind me and came out swinging. I did. Today she played a solid game, and it was just unfortunate. I had many opportunities, but just couldn’t convert.

Stephens could not seem to keep the ball in play, committing 63 unforced errors.

“Everyone works at their own pace, and you just kind of — I mean, I’m not gonna dwell on this,” the American talking about the early loss. “I’m just gonna keep improving and getting better and looking forward to the next tournaments.”

 

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Serena Williams and Roger Federer Both Begin Quest for 18th Major

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(August 27, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – A pair of 17-time major champions made the first step in their mutual quests for an 18th major on Tuesday night. No. 2 seed Roger Federer and No. 1 Serena Williams both took out opponents in straight sets at the US Open.

The 33-year-old Swiss Federer led off the night session with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) vwin over No. 76 Marinko Matosevic of Australia. With six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan cheering him on in his courtside guest box, Federer pulled off the shot of the night – between the legs shot, facing backwards to the net, which hit his opponent in his lower back.

Federer admitted that Jordan, now 51, was a childhood idol of his. In an interview with ESPN, Jordan said that he knew nothing about tennis and said that Federer is a good athlete and that he played basketball.

“It’s just amazing having Michael here,” Federer said after the match. “Growing up he was my big sporting idol. … Having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it.”

“He was just my hero of all sports,” Federer said in his news conference. “That’s what he was for me growing up. Besides Edberg and Becker being my tennis idols, I had Jordan as my all sports idol. I don’t remember having a Jordan jersey, as such, really. I just remember when I was younger, in Germany it was really big on the German TV stations. I think every Sunday they had unbelievable big NBA highlights. That’s where I saw him doing all his moves. I wasn’t necessarily a Chicago Bulls fan or anything like that. It’s just I was into him, into like the incredible athlete, you know, just being that guy who was carrying basketball at the time. So I guess that’s what inspired me.”

While Federer was entertaining an idol of his with his play, Serena Williams was defeating a player who idolizes her. Williams played almost flawlessly in dispatching 18-year-old fellow American Wild Card Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-1.

The two-time defending US Open champion, soon-to-be 33-year-old Williams made only 8 unforced errors in a match which lasted less than an hour.

Townsend discussed her appreciation of Williams in press: “I think I appreciate the fact that, number one, she loves the game so much. I think for anyone who’s watched her career progress, we have seen the ups and downs. She’s come through a lot of adversity. I think the most roaring time for me when I was watching her play was when she won that Australian Open, when everyone was completely doubting her, no one said she would win, she was totally out of shape, she was this, that, everything in the book. She literally fought and she beat Sharapova 1-0, 2-0, something ridiculous. But I’ve never seen someone so intense and so, like, driven to win, you know? I gained so much respect for her. Moving forward, I’ve just seen her love the game even more. The older she gets, the more she enjoys being out there and playing. I think her perspective has changed, having fun with what she’s doing. I think the wins are just making it even better.”

“I think it was an interesting match,” Williams said. “I thought she played really well. She started out super strong. She did a good job.”

“I think Taylor is a really great player. I believe she does everything well. She’s one of the few players that can come to the net and volley, as well as she has unbelievable hand speed with her racquet. She’s really unbelievable.”

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Summer Vacation Ends for Noah Rubin at US Open

 

(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – For Long Island’s Noah Rubin, a native of Rockville Centre, a dream came true on Tuesday. The Wake Forest freshman played in his home major – the US Open, a tournament he’s been attending since he was a child.. Rubin gained a wild card in to the final Grand Slam of the year by winning the 18’s National Championship during the summer. In July he won the Junior title at Wimbledon.

Despite losing to Federico Delbonis, of Argentina 6-4, 6-3, 6-0, he would not trade this experience for anything.

“I learned that I can definitely compete with these guys at the best level, definitely things to learn,” he said. “Fitness is one, I mean, nerves came into play a little bit also. So fitness can definitely be at a higher level, but I can playing with these guys on any given day. We’ll see how I improve.”

“I’m just trying to show everybody I can compete at this level and try to make people proud at the same time,” Rubin continued. “It’s definitely — I’m not sure if everybody’s first experience went just like me, but I’m just getting used to the atmosphere, getting used to being out there with the top players in the world. It’s nice to know that I belong here and I’m not just taking a vacation here just seeing what it’s like and going back. That I deserve to be here and work to stay here.”

His US Open is not over yet. Rubin is in the Men’s doubles. He also earned wild card by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s title Stefan Kozlov, so his summer vacation will last a little longer.

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Catherine “CiCi” Bellis at 15 Becomes Youngest Winner at US Open since ’96

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(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – On Tuesday, American 15-year-old CiCi Bellis became the youngest player to win a US. Open match since 1996 as she produced the biggest upset in the tournament so far dismissing Australian Open runner-up and 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

“I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience, but I never thought I would come out on top winning, said the 1208th ranked player Bellis.

“I’m feeling amazing. I’m still speechless. I’m still in shock about that match. I went in thinking I was going to play as well as I could possibly play. I obviously played pretty well. So I’m really happy.”

Bellis talked about coming back from being down a break in the final set: “When I was down 3-1, it was kind of a bummer, because I won the first set, lost the second. We had a long game the first game of the third set. I ended up winning that and then lost three games in a row. I just kind of told myself, Calm down, don’t think about who you’re playing, who is on the other side of the court. Just be free. You have nothing to lose.”

Bellis won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into her first major which also and first tour-level main draw. She was the youngest champion of the National Championships since Lindsay Davenport also won it at 15 back in 1991. Anna Kournikova was the last 15-year-old to win at the U.S. Open in 1996.

“I think it was a really great experience to play that(National Championships), then come here and play. Those girls in the girls 18s, they’re not that far off from these pros. It’s crazy to say, but they’re really good.”

 

“Just go out there and believe that you can win. I mean, if you play well, you can if you believe in it,” Bellis said about her belief that she could win the match. “If you don’t believe, there’s one option. If you do believe, there’s two options. You can either believe and lose or believe and win, but if you don’t believe you’re going to lose anyway.”

Bellis will take a pass on the 60,000 she’s earned for her first round win as she intends to remain an amateur.

“I think I’m definitely going to stay an amateur right now to keep my options open for college, in case an injury or something happens. But I’d love to be a pro one day.”

Next up for Bellis is No. 48th Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

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A Confident Ivanovic Rolls Past Riske in First Round of US Open

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(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 8 seed Ana Ivanovic made quick work of American Alison Riske on Tuesday in her opening match at the US Open with a 6-3, 6-0 win.

For the Serbian, it’s her 48th win this year, most on the WTA tour.

“It was very tough first-round match,” Ivanovic said. “We had a tough one in Auckland. I knew that coming into today’s match. She had a good run last week, so I really tried to start sharp and tried to play my game to put pressure on her. It took a little bit to adjust. The game was very heavy conditions out there today. I was very pleased, especially the way I finished the second set.”

After reaching No. 1 in 2008, the 26-year-old’s level fell off over the next few years. She’s returned to the top 10 for the first time in five years.

“The confidence is on a high level,” said Ivanovic. “I had a great season behind me. Still I work hard for each match, and I do that because I love it. It’s the same. I don’t want to take anything for granted. I really enjoy being here. You know, like in Paris, as well I had a great leadup and quite a disappointing loss. But, you know, it’s a new tournament, new situation. I really want to enjoy each match.”

The 24-year-old Riske made a splash at last year’s US. Open, making the fourth round after shocking Petra Kvitova.

Ivanovic reflected on what she would do if she reached the heights of No. 1 again: “if that happens, I think for sure I’ll handle it differently. I have more experience myself. I have also good people around me. I was lucky. I have always had very positive people and greet support from my family. That’s something I still have. At the end of the day that’s what matters the most. You know, you have people to go back to.”

“It was greatest moment of my life achieving that, especially I was only 20 at the time. In a way I maybe took it a little bit for granted, because I was always improving, I was always having better and better results. That was kind of natural progression. And once I achieved that, it was very hard to handle all the attention because I was very shy at the time. Like I was speaking before, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, you know. I was very introverted. I like to spend my time with the books. That’s who I was. All of a sudden, there was so many requests and so many other things that came with it. No one prepared me for that. Obviously it took me some time to get used to that and to actually embrace it and enjoy it. That’s why only since few years I started loving New York, because that’s about that. It’s about emotions, crowds, and embracing that moment.”

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Sharapova and Djokovic make Quick Work of Challengers during US Open Night Session

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWs – Night session on day one of the 2014 US Open had Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic with easy victories. Sharapova won the last 10 games of her match to dismiss friend Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-0, making a return to Flushing Meadows as she missed last year’s event due to an injured right shoulder.

“I thought there was a few times where I could have broken her in the beginning of the match. But I think she started off playing well and solid,” Sharapova said. “Despite not taking those opportunities in a couple of her service games, I felt pretty good, especially towards the end of the match.”

No. 113 Kirilenko, never won another game after taking a 4-2 lead. She had not played since Wimbledon.

“We spent a lot of time in the juniors away from the courts practicing a lot together, competing against each other,” Sharapova said. “We certainly have a big history together. But when you go out on the court, it’s always that fine line between, of course you want to be the winner, you have to face that person as a competitor, not someone that you’ve known for years and developed a friendship with. It’s always a tricky balance, I guess.”

Djokovic cruised past a 22-year-old Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in his first main draw at Flushing Meadows.

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“I thought I hit the ball very well throughout the whole match,” Djokovic said. “Diego is a talented player; very quick on the court. He has to work on his serve a little bit more, I feel. He didn’t put so much pressure on his serve. You know, he’s not so tall so it’s difficult for him to serve well. But it was obviously first big match for him, first hard court Grand Slam match on the biggest stadium in the night session. I’m sure he was a bit nervous. I thought he played well. I was happy with the first match.”

Djokovic has reached the US Open final four straight years running. The Serbian won the event back in 2011 and is currently No. 1.

“It’s definitely a privilege, you know, and responsibility,’ Djokovic said of being the top seed.. “Pressure is part of the sport. I’m used to it already

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Code Violations Almost Knock Out Kyrgios at US Open

 

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Nick Kyrgios knocked out Rafael Nadal Wimbledon in the fourth round. At the US Open on Monday, the Australian almost knocked himself out of the tournament with his conduct. The 19-year-old was hit with three code violations for fits on anger, one away from being defaulted in his victory over the 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1).

Kyrgios hit a ball out of the court and uttered two audible obscenities for code violations.

“I guess just heat of the moment,” said the youngster. “I was frustrated the way I was playing, and, yeah, it was just all that sort of stuff. It was just an outburst, and hopefully I will be able to control that the next time I play.”

“It was a tough first match playing Youzhny,” Kyrgios said. “Someone that’s played well here in the past and last year making the quarterfinals. I knew I had to serve well, and I hit 26 aces. Those are good stats. I was struggling a little bit about the two-and-a-half hour mark, but I knew that if I hung in I would get that second wind where I could start playing good tennis again, and that’s what happened in the fourth set.”
Andreas Seppi will be the Australian’s next opponent.
“It will be an interesting match. He’s solid on both wings. He has a good serve, as well. I think I’m going to have to play aggressive and keep the match on my racquet. It’s going to be exciting.”

“I’m not going to look past Seppi at all,” he said. “He’s a quality player. It’s going to be a tough match. It’s good to get a win over a seed, but I have to just focus on my next match.”

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On Althea Gibson’s Birthday, Venus Williams Reflects on Her Legacy After First Round Win

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – On what would have been Althea Gibson’s 87th birthday, 34-year-old Venus Williams overcame 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win her first round match in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

Williams was asked about how Gibson, who was the first black tennis player to win a major, has inspired her.

“What she accomplished is something no one else did, to be not only the best player in the world during that time where she had no support and in a time when it was hard to feel good about yourself because who you were was something that was considered inferior, Williams commented. “So that was very difficult. I can’t imagine how she felt. She did it with class and she did it with grace. I’m very fortunate not to have had to play under those circumstances. I have had an opportunity to play well and be myself, and because of her, I’m really proud of who I am. Really, what she has done, you know, goes beyond words.”
In turn, the 19th seed Williams was asked about the role she and her sister Serena have played in terms of diversity during her career.

“Serena and I played in a different time,” Venus said. “I think we played in a different time where you’re able to have opportunities. And people love to be on the side of a winner, so, you know, the things that everyone did, women’s rights, civil rights, all of those things are a different time, thank God. I’m not saying it’s a perfect time, but it is a different time. So, yes, I think that Serena and I influenced lots of young people, lots of African-Americans, hopefully all kinds of people all around the world, to live a better life through sports or even if they never played.”

In addition to facing a tough opponent on Monday, Williams has to fight off a bee. The two-time US Open champion led 3-0 in the deciding set when a bee buzzed around the court around both players.

“So once it was my turn, then I think I would have been remiss to swat it myself. Kind of came up with a strategy to hopefully, you know, follow her example in that. Just let the fly land on the racquet and in the towel. I guess he’s on his way now.”

The insect was captured and taken off court by ball persons and an additional helper.

Williams’ next opponent will be Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.

Related articles:

Althea Gibson Documentary Project Selected for Film Festivals

Althea Gibson Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame

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Dutch Treat for a Cramping Murray

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(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Andy Murray gutted his way into the second round of the US Open on Monday. The eighth seeded Scot, suffering from cramps defeated Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5.

The cramps which began in the back of his left shoulder began in the third set unexpectedly on a warm but not oppressively hot, nor humid day.

“I can’t worry about it too much,” Murray said. “There’s nothing I can do. This is the shape I’m in for the tournament. I feel or I felt extremely good before the match, and I did train very, very hard to get ready for the tournament. For me it was unexpected, and therefore, quite difficult mentally to deal with, because, like I say, sometimes it can happen one area of your body. But when it starts to kind of go everywhere, you don’t know exactly where it’s going to creep up next. When you stretch one muscle, something else then cramps, too. It was tough. Yeah, like I say, very unexpected, as well, especially after an hour and a half, an hour and 40 minutes. So it’s unlikely, I would say, that it’s down to maybe poor physical condition, because I have trained and played matches. Like in Toronto against Tsonga was longer than that and I felt absolutely fine at the end. I don’t know if it’s something I have done in the last few days that’s been wrong or not, but I need to try and find out why.”
Haase also suffered from some cramping physically and mentally. The Ducthman served for the fourth set a 5-3 and double-faulted on break point to let Murray back into the set. The Scot won the next three games to close the match.

“I could have easily lost that match,” Murray said. “I was very close to losing the match. I don’t think if it would have gone to five sets I would’ve been — I certainly would have been the favorite if it had gone to five sets. I’m happy about that.”

No. 9 seed and Toronto Masters champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed four sets to close out Juan Monaco 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1.

“Never easy against Juan,” said the Frenchman. “He’s a good player. Today, you know, I just did a good job. It’s good for me, because these first round is always tough to go through.”

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