2014/12/19

Radwanska Hires Navratilova to Coaching Team

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova

(December 8, 2014) Joining the trend of some of the top male players in hiring former Grand Slam champions as coaches, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 in the world has hired 18-time major winner Martina Navratilova to her coaching team.

 

   

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Williams, Halep Set Up Rematch at WTA Finals

Serena Williams
By Stephanie Neppl

(October 25, 2014) SINGAPORE – Serena Williams survived, and Simona Halep cruised. The two will face off for the second time at the WTA Finals in Singapore, this time with the title on the line.

The semifinals were a complete contrast but they were consistent to the tournament for each player. Williams barely made the semifinals, needing Halep to help keep her in the tournament by winning at least a set in her match yesterday against Ana Ivanovic. Halep, on the other hand, was the first player to qualify and she won her first two matches without dropping a set, including the 6-0, 6-2 drubbing of Williams.

Here’s how the semifinals unfolded:

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

The two close friends spent Friday night together at the Mariah Carey concert which was held at the Singapore Sports Hub. Saturday they battled out in front of an appreciative crowd for more than two hours to determine whose season would end, and who would advance to Sunday’s final.

Wozniacki was the better player for the first set, and her deep and well-placed groundstrokes kept Williams off balance as she raced to a 3-0 lead. The American, on the other hand, was erratic especially on her backhand side and Wozniacki held with ease as Williams’ return game was off. The first set took just 25 minutes, and the Dane won it 6-2.

In the second set, Williams’ service games perhaps helped her settle into the match, and she didn’t face a break point all set long. She managed to finally break Wozniacki to go up 3-2 and she got a second break up 5-3 as Wozniacki double faulted down set point to level the match at a set apiece.

The match was just 56 minutes old as the third set began, and both players’ level was strong. Williams served first, and she held her first two games without facing break point. It was Wozniacki who had to fight off the first break point serving at 1-2, but she held on as the rallies and quality of play improved. The two held their serves until the score hit 4-4. Then it was Williams, who hadn’t faced a break point since the first set, who would lose her serve to go down 5-4 as Woznaicki prepared to serve for the match, and the win against a player she had only beaten once in 10 tries.

Serving at 5-4, Williams struck hard and fast. She hit three winners to get to double break point, and she was able to break to thrill the crowd and level the set at 5-5.

Williams then had to fight off her nerves through a tough service hold. She went down break point again but Wozniacki hit a routine backhand into the net. On her second game point, Williams was able to hold and win her third straight games as the crowd went wild.

Receiving up 6-5, Williams hit three errors to give Wozniacki two game points but huge returns by the top-seed brought up a match point, which was saved by the Dane after an amazing rally. Wozniacki would hold serve, and the match would be decided by a tiebreak.

Wozniacki went up 4-1 in the tiebreak as Williams was misfiring her groundstrokes. But from then Williams won five straight points, the first off a Wozniacki double fault, to earn two more match points up 6-4. But the dramatic match ensued, as the world No. 1 could not convert either. But at 6-6, she fired her 12th ace of the match to set up a 4th match point, which she would finally convert to edge Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6) in a thriller.

Williams said at 1-4 down in the third set tiebreak she thought “Well, I guess I have to go home now. You know, I told you to get up early in the tiebreak and now you’re down 1‑4. You didn’t listen.”

The American admitted said that if she did play Halep again, she would start out with low expectations. “I’m excited. My goal is to win three games. That’ll be my first goal. I’m going to go from there. Hopefully I can hold serve. That would be good. Most of all, I hope to break once. So I’m starting out with low goals. Then I’m going to go from there. She played really, really well. Even she said she played really well. I’m just going to do the best that I can do and see what happens.”

Wozniacki, who was consistently solid throughout her four WTA Finals matches, was disappointed but said it was a great match. “I played all I could today. I played my heart out. I fought until the end. You know, you can always look back and say, I could have done this and that, but at the end of the day I couldn’t. I played the best I could today. Today, Serena just got the better of me in the end.”

[6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs [4] Simona Halep (Romania)

For all the suspense and drama the first semifinal had, the second one offered little doubt who would meet Serena in Sunday’s final.

Halep was just ‘too good’ against Radwanska, and she cruised to a quick 6-2, 6-2 win in just 67 minutes. Halep saved 1 of 2 break points she faced, while the Pole was only able to fight off 1 of the 6 she faced.

The Romanian, coming into the match on the heels of a three-set loss to Ivanovic on Friday night, cranked 26 winners against Radwanska, who only hit 4. Both had 13 unforced errors.

Radwanska said her opponent played a fantastic match, “I think she was very solid from the beginning. No mistakes. Everything coming back. Changing lines. You know, deep balls. Serving very well. I think everything was working for her today, I guess.”

Halep could only agree that she played a wonderful match: “Yeah, it was a great match for everything. Went perfect I think today. I played really well and moved really well on court. I feel very happy because I could play at this level. She’s also great player, but today everything was very well for me.”

The Romanian said Sunday’s final would be a different match than her round robin match against Williams. “Yeah, I played few days ago and it was a very good match for me. But tomorrow will be different. I am prepared for everything. I just want to enjoy the match, enjoy the final first, and then to think what I have to do on court. I know how to play, so we’ll see tomorrow if my game is going to be the same like today.”

Sunday, October 26 schedule:

Centre Court – 4pm

The Doubles Final

Centre court – not before 7pm

(1) Serena Williams vs. (4) Simona Halep

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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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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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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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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Third Seed Agnieszka Radwanska Stunned by Ajla Tomljanovic

 

(May 30, 2014) The top two women’s seeds at the French Open Serena Williams and Li Na fell earlier on the week, joining them on the sidelines on Friday was third seed Agnieszka Radwanska who lost to unseeded Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-4.

For the 25-year-old woman from Poland, this was her earliest exit from a major.

“After seeing the two first seeds go out, you kind of feel like `I can do this, too,’”said the 72nd ranked Tomljanovic “I grew up with these girls that are beating them.”

The loss means that No. 4 Simona Halep of Romania is the highest seed left in the women’s draw.

For the 21-year-old Croatian, this was her first top 5 win. Before Friday she had only one win against a top 30 player and had never been past the second round of a major, now she’s in the round of 16.

In another upset on the women’s side, 2010 French Open finalist Sam Stosur, the 19th seed defeated 9th seed and Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-4. It will be Stosur’s first round of 16 at a major since the 2012 US Open.

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“Kimye” and Mrs. Doubtfire in Notes and Quotes for Day 1 of the French Open

 

(May 25, 2014) Taking a quick look at some of the off-beat stories on Day 1 at Roland Garros.

Serena – Friend of Kimye

Serena Williams, a friend of reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian and recording artist Kanye West participated in in the pre-wedding celebration of the newly married couple.

Serena said, “went to a few of the festivities” in France including “dinner in Versailles and stuff,” which led up to the “Kimye” wedding.

“Always fun with Kim,” Serena said about the festivities.

The nuptials took place in a fortress in Florence, Italy on Saturday.

 

 

Tomas Berdych and his Hawaiian Shirt

World No. 6 Tomas Berdych is sporting an H&M floral shirt this fortnight in Paris. It rather resembles a Hawaiian shirt. When asked about it in press, Berdych said, “Everyone wears the same and everyone looks the same. So this is something different, which I like.”

Agnieszka Radwanska and Mrs. Doubtfire Separated-at-birth?

Radwanka won the first match at Roland Garros on Sunday, but her outfit garnered mixed reviews. Her floral dress drew comparisons to an outfit worn by Robin Williams in the movie ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’.

 

Hat tip to Matt Fitzgerald.  

“Selfie” of the Day

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Li and Cibulkova Reach Sony Open Semis

 

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

(March 26, 2014) It will be a rematch of the Australian Open women’s final in the semifinal of the Sony Open as both Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova advanced on Wednesday. Li won the Australian Open in straight sets for her second major title.

No. 10 seed Dominika Cibulkova saved  three match points in the second set en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 2 Li Na won the last 4 straight games to close out Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.

Cibulkova won despite poor serving and unforced errors. She had her serve broken 10 times and double-faulted 8times, committing 51 unforced errors.

One of her match points saved came on a controversial call which was overturned due a challenge.

He match against Radwanska was a repeat of the Arustralian Open semifinal where the Slovak won over the Pole to make her first major final.

The Slovak who is in the Sony Open semis for the first time, will enter the top ten for the first time when the rankings come out on Monday.

“I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” Cibulkova said.

“It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions, and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots, you know.  I just had to keep going.

“So today the match was really tough, and I’m happy about everything, you know.  Before the match, even before the tournament, like they keep asking me, Top 10 and everything, and I just, you know, I just said, like, Okay, if I should be there, I will be there.  If I should not be there, I will not be there.

“So now I’m there.  So finally it’s over.”

“I think it was so close, the second set,” Radwanska said.  “But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

“I was just playing good and she was both.”

With Li Na’s win, she became the first Chinese player to reach the Sony Open semifinals.

“I think today I was feeling she was the best to defend in all the tour, so I was feeling a little bit like player against a wall,” Li said about her match against Wozniacki.  “Because doesn’t matter where is it.  She always come and put the ball back to my court.

“After I was finished the match, I was feeling, Wow, you doing good.  You beat a wall.  Yeah.”

Li Na now leads the tour with 20 match wins on the season

On Thursday six–time Sony Open winner No. 1 Serena Williams will take on five-time finalist and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova in the first women’s semifinal. Williams holds a 15-2 record against the Russian, winning the last 14 straight.

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Confident Venus Williams Advances at Sony Open

(March 21, 2014) Three-time former Sony Open winner Venus Williams defeated Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3. Williams at 33 is the the oldest player in the women’s draw and is playing in Key Biscayne for the 15th time.

It’s her first match since winning the Dubai title last month.

“I have been working hard since then, and I feel really confident, you know, in every situation I’m in on the court,” Venus Williams said.

“So I think that, you know, it was a big help for me in Dubai.”

“She’s competitive, a new player,” Williams said about playing Schmiedlova. “You never know what their game is really going to be like.  I’d never even seen her play.

Coming into Key Biscayne, Williams is on a win streak, riding a crest of confidence.

“I feel good on the court, she said.  “I feel like I have had a chance to play more matches this year than really lots and lots of years.  Many, many years, like four or five.

“So I think that’s been a great advantage for me, as well.  I’m looking forward to playing this tournament obviously and Family Circle, as well.  I’m looking forward to playing my third round I didn’t get to play last year.

My whole plan is to be playing.  That’s it.”

She’ll play in the third round against Casey Dellacqua.

 Li Na Nike

Sony Open No. 2 seed Li made it to the third round without striking a ball on Friday when her opponent Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of the tournament due to a viral illness.  Kleybanova, is making a comeback from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

No. 6 Simona Halep also pulled out of the tournament due to a right toe injury.

2012 champion Agnieszka Radwanska stopped Romina Oprandi 6-0, 6-4.

Other seeded women winners on the day included (10) Dominika Cibulkova over Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-2, (11) Caroline Wozniacki had to fight her opponent and the crowd when she topped Monica Puig 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-1 and (17) Sloane Stephens won over Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3.

Vavara Lepchenko

Vavara Lepchenko

American Varvara Lepchenko pulled off the biggest upset of the day on the ladies side of the draw by beating No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2). Other shockers included Barbora Zahlavova Strycova who topped 13 seed Roberta Vinci 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, Elina Svitolina stunned 21st seed Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, Ajla Tomljanovic defeated (30) Garbine Muguruza and young American Madison Keys stopped (31) Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m really happy about it,” Keys said.  “I mean, I think I served well.  I think that really helped me today.

The next challenge for Keys will be No. 2 seed Li Na in the third round.

“It’s such a good experience,” Keys said.

“She’s a great player.  She just won the Australian Open so she’s obviously doing well.

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A Day of “Firsts” for Flavia Pennetta and Novak Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open

Novak Djokovic

By Kevin Ware

INDIAN WELLS – It was a day of “firsts” on finals Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia Pennetta won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title by defeating a hobbled Agnieszka Radwanska, and Novak Djokovic won his first title of 2014 by outlasting Roger Federer in a dramatic 3-set final. The respective paths to their titles couldn’t have been more different.

In an unexpected turn, Pennetta overwhelmed an injured Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 for the biggest title of her career. “After so many years and so much work and everything, this is the moment I was waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it comes when you least expect it.”

Her surprise is understandable given the struggles she endured in 2013. Pennetta lost to countrywoman Francesca Schiavone in the first round of last year’s tournament: one of many bad losses she suffered after her return to the tour from wrist surgery in 2012. Thoughts of retirement crossed her mind.

“The day after I was in the garden running and talking with my physio, Max, almost crying because the feeling and everything was so bad. And now, after one year, we have the trophy.”

Pennetta played solid tennis, but never needed to do more considering the condition of her opponent. Radwanska’s knee has been hurting the past few days, but she hoped that she might still be able to compete.

“This is the sport that you’re always playing with some pain or injury or sore muscles,” Radwanska said.  “But when the pain is so big that nothing is working, no painkillers, no tape. That means it is bad. Today nothing was working.”

“Unfortunately, it was too much pain.  I tried because this is the final, and I thought, you know, maybe in one game was going to be better and I would just keep going, but that didn’t really happen.”

Disappointment at not being able to compete at her best level weighed heavily on Radwanska, her voice breaking as she wiped away tears during the trophy presentation. She apologized for not being able to run as much as needed to in order to compete. Judging by the supportive crowd response, no apology was necessary.

This is Pennetta’s 10th WTA title, and her first since 2010. With this win, Pennetta moves to No. 12 in the rankings. Radwanska remains in the No. 3 position behind Serena Williams and Li Na.

In the men’s final, Novak Djokovic had to fight tooth and nail to defeat a resurgent Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his first title of the year. It was a high-quality match that fittingly came down to a third-set tiebreaker to decide the winner.

Federer won the first set with skillful serving and masterful ball-striking on his forehand side. His first serve percentage was 74%, and he won 75% of his first serves and 71% of his second serves. Anytime you’re over 70%, odds are good for a victory. Federer also hit 12 winners to only 9 unforced errors. His defense was solid, and he craftily mixed backhand slices to keep Djokovic successfully out of any rhythm.

By comparison, Djokovic served at 59%, and won only 36% of his second serves. He also only hit 5 winners to 6 unforced errors. He was tentative, and mistimed many shots badly. Djokovic readily acknowledged his slow start.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a great start for me.  First service game that I had I made a few double faults and unforced errors and allowed him a break.  That was enough for the first set.”

“Roger is probably best in the world when he’s up.  When he’s a break up, he wins his service games so comfortably and so fast that sometimes it’s very difficult to keep up.  But I managed to stay composed and stay confident.”

The second set saw an obvious drop in Federer’s game, both in serve and unforced error count, as Djokovic found his footing. An early break in hand, it wasn’t long before Djokovic served out the set at 6-3 to take the match to a deciding set.

Federer’s level continued to fluctuate badly, and he gave up an early break in the third. But to his credit, he fought hard and stayed close enough to Djokovic to take advantage if any break opportunity presented itself.

The opportunity came at 5-4 with Djokovic serving for the championship. Federer pounced and immediately put him under pressure. A few minutes later with the break under his belt, Federer held serve at love.

Unfortunately for Federer, the third-set tiebreak was all one-way traffic for Djokovic. After over two hours of shot-making drama, he netted a backhand on match point to hand Djokovic the win.

This is Djokovic’s third Indian Wells title. It’s also his 42nd title overall, moving him ahead of Stephan Edberg, and his 17th Masters Series title. In a year where he’s failed to win a title – or make a final – until three months in, his relief afterward was palpable.

“I’m just very happy and thrilled to be able to win the first title in this season.  It was the first final that I played this year.  It was necessary for my confidence, and hopefully I can carry that into Miami and the rest of the season.”

Federer leaves the desert with confidence in his game, and an appreciation for his continued fitness. “I’m just happy I’m playing consistent tennis and I’m going deep in tournaments and I’m giving myself chances to win.  So clearly would have been amazing to win here and win back to back tournaments with Dubai.”

“But I got very, very close, so it’s encouraging for Miami and for the rest of the season, no doubt.”

Kevin Ware was in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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