2014/12/19

Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

Share

Venus Williams Routs Ivanovic, Radwanska and Kvitova Upset in Dubai

Bgs9CTXCUAAWfuO.jpg large

(February 19, 2014) DUBAI – Venus Williams gained some revenge for her loss to Ana Ivanovic in the Auckland final last month by routing the Serbian 6-2, 6-1 at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

“I learned a lot from that match,” Williams said of the Auckland loss “I definitely think I approached this match differently.

“I have improved a lot since then, too.  I have had to take some tough losses, but I have learned from them, and, you know, made them constructive.  That’s what I’m trying to do each time.

Ivanovic admitted that having played late the previous evening might have influenced her performance. But so did how well Venus Williams played.

“It’s hard to get much sleep when you finish that late and that kind of match, too,” said Ivanovic. “But she started really firing, you know, from the first moment on. It was just really hard. I tried to be aggressive and to put her under pressure, but I was just making way too many errors today.”

“I’m just trying to play well every day, take one point at a time and learn from my mistakes every match, try to go out there relaxed with a clear mind, Williams said.  “That’s what I’m trying to do.

“I think I’m playing smarter.  Yeah.  But I just want to keep playing better.

“I really expected a lot closer, to be honest, but, you know, like I said, she played well and it really wasn’t my day,” Ivanovic said.

“I definitely think she was a lot more aggressive (versus in the Auckland final).  She was stepping in the court way more, coming to the net more often.

“You know, she served well I thought in Auckland, too, but today I just felt she was putting more pressure on me.”

Venus teamed with sister Serena in doubles but losing 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 to Australian Open finalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

 

Carla Suarez Navarro photo ©2013 Regi Varghese

Carla Suarez Navarro photo ©2013 Regi Varghese

 

This also marked a day where second, third and fourth seeds all lost including defending champion Petra Kvitova.

 

Petra Kvitova fell in her opening match 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 to Carla Suarez Navarro.

Kvitova dominated the opening set against Suarez Navarro, led 4-2 in the second and served for the match at 5-4 in the third. But her persistent opponent refused to concede and eventually claimed the win in a tiebreak.

 

“When I was leading in the second set, I lost very badly my serve, and I think that from that moment I was like a little bit mentally down and I was trying to come back,” said Kvitova. “I was close, but still she won the second set and it was tough to come back again in the third. In the tiebreak I just made two easy mistakes, and I think that was the thing what she did better.”

 

Qualifier Flavia Pennetta stunned second seed and world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-1.

“The ball was really flying,” said Radwanska. “I didn’t really feel the ball today at all. I think she was using the wind much, much better than I did. The conditions for me are tough. When I don’t feel the ball, it’s not good.”

Pennetta had lost her last three matches against Radwanska.

“Sometimes when you play with a player like Agnieszka it’s not easy because the ball, it always come back,” said Pennetta. “You have the feeling like you cannot win any points because it’s like a wall, completely. So you’re starting to be a little bit frustrating and starting to make so many mistakes, and today I just try to stay there every point, just to play every point in the same way, don’t go away.”

Fourth seed and 2013 Dubai finalist Sara Errani was beaten 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 by Sorana Cirstea.

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(Q) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (2) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 61
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 16 64 76(4)
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (4) Sara Errani (ITA) 62 57 61
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 75 64
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (Q) Annika Beck (GER) 64 64
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 63 64
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 62 61

Doubles – First Round
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. (WC) Williams/Williams (USA/USA) 64 46 104 (Match TB)
(WC) Pennetta/Stosur (ITA/AUS) d. (3) Peschke/Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) 61 16 106 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Thursday, February 20, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sorana Cirstea
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Alizé Cornet

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Raymond/Zhang vs. Hlavackova/Safarova
2. Errani/Vinci vs. Kops-Jones/Spears
3. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova vs. Makarova/Vesnina
4. Pennetta/Stosur vs. Groenefeld/Rosolska

 

Share

Cibulkova routs Radwanska to reach Australian Open Final

Dominika Cibulkova

Dominika Cibulkova

(January 23, 2014) MELBOURNE – Dominika Cibulkova has decided that the Australian Open 2014 is a tournament in need of new blood, continuing on her absolutely stellar run at Melbourne Park this year to trounce world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska in swift fashion, 6-1, 6-2, to secure a place in what will be her debut Grand Slam final.

 

From the moment she placed a single foot on the court to the moment she exited the stadium, Cibulkova was all over each and every point and with a degree of focus and determination seemingly like no other.

 

The Slovakian dictated play in a major way and in barely over half an hour, she had already closed out the first set on a break, 6-1.

 

Radwanska was, all the while, too passive as she failed to match the level of aggression coming from the other side of the net. She found it difficult to keep motivated once down a break in the second as Cibulkova defended any small chance she had at making a comeback on the scoreboard. What was more, was that the Pole only managed to win half of her points on her first serve and an abysmal 13 per cent of points upon her second.

 

The energetic Slovakian did not give Radwanska any time to readjust her game as she powered through the next set, 6-2.

 

Upon the last point whereby Radwanska made an untimely forehand error, Cibulkova fell to her knees, clutching her head in her hands in relief knowing that she had just set up her first Grand Slam final.

 

“​It was not easy when I was up in the second set,” Cibulkova admitted.

 

“The thought started to come that I could win, the result and everything. I have to say, I was 100 per cent ready for it and I was just doing what I had to do. That’s why I won. It wasn’t easy because against her you have to earn every point, you have to do the right thing, and that’s what I did.

 

“Today I was doing everything right. I was going for my shots. I was just doing everything perfect.

 

“I’m the first (Slovakian) female tennis player playing in the final. We are like five or six million, and they are all cheering for me. So, yeah, it’s big.”

 

Extraordinarily quick on her feet, her little legs move speedily to reach low balls, so much so that it seems bizarre that a little woman such as herself could harness such incredible energy levels to outrun her opponents of greater stature.

 

“It’s not about how tall are you. Even if you are tall, it doesn’t mean you are 100 per cent going to make it. It’s just that you have to really want something and just believe in it. There is nothing more important than this.”

 

This semifinal victory instigates a grand final clash with world No. 4 Li Na on Saturday evening.

 

​”She has been in the finals of Grand Slams many times,” Cibulkova said.

 

“She already won a Grand Slam, so she knows how it is. I’m playing in the finals, so that’s something beautiful. It’s like a dream. So I will just go out there and play my best.”

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

Share

Radwanska Ends Defending Champ Azarenka’s run at Australian Open

Agnieszka-Radwanska-021-405x450

(January 22, 2014) Agnieszka Radwanska ended Victoria Azarenka‘s run at a third straight Australian Open title on Wednesday when the fifth seed knocked out the defending champ 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. The victory for Radwanska moves her into her first Australian Open semifinal.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic knocked out of the tournament by Stanislas Wawrinka with both he and Victoria Azarenka losing in the quarterfinals it is the first time both the defending champions have lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in the Open Era.

The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam in the Open Era was at 1997 Roland Garros when 1996 champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf lost in the last eight.

The win snapped Azarenka’s 18-match win streak in Melbourne. It also ended Radwanska’s 7 match losing streak to the Belarusian dating back to 2011 and her three consecutive quarterfinal losses at the Australian Open. It was just the Polish women’s fourth win against Azarenka in 16 attempts.

“I think it’s hard to play someone I lost so many times before,” Radwanska said.  “I knew she’s great player.  Especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis.

“On the other hand, I really have nothing to lose.  She was defending the title, not me.  I was really trying to play my best tennis, go for every shot I could.

“You know, I’m just very happy because I really was playing great tennis.”

Radwanska used an all-court game – at times scrambling for every shot to playing finesse tennis to confuse and dismantle a usually hard-hitting Azarenka.

“I think it’s hard to talk about the game plan against someone that can do everything on court,” said the Pole.  “Pretty much everything is going back.  Not really much mistakes.  So I think I was just trying to play aggressive, not in the middle.  I think focus on the serves as well.

“I think you really have to do everything to beat those kind of players like Vika.”

“A lot of good rallies definitely,” she continued, “amazing points, and running forward, backwards, side to side for so many times.

“Well, I was really feeling good on court today.  I think, you know, I was feeling I could really do everything, trying and fighting for every point, every ball.”

“The first set and the third set, I think there was just too many mistakes and too many easy mistakes on important moments,” said Azarenka.  “Like from the dropshot to the dropshot, or just I had the full court.  Of course, she was passing amazing today and getting to every ball.

“But I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate.  That definitely changed the momentum.  She really took advantage of that.  It was hard to come back.

“But, I don’t know, my game wasn’t there today as I wanted it to.  But she definitely played really well.”

“She was aggressive,” the world No. 2 said.  “She was making everything.  She was guessing right.  I was just playing a little bit too predictive, you know.

“In the second set I managed to fight back.  Third set, you know, the first game was important.  I let it go, like easily let it go.  From there just couldn’t get back to it.  It was tough.”

In an upset-ridden Australian Open in which the top three women’s seeds – Serena Williams, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, have all been ousted by the quarterfinals, there will be a first-time winner in Melbourne among the remaining women. The semifinal line-up: Radwanska against No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 4 Li Na against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

“I’m so happy and pleased, especially that I beat one of the best players in the world, Radwanska said.  “Was not easy draw, not easy quarterfinal.

“I’m very happy that I made my first semifinal here.

I think every semifinal, every final is a huge experience with tennis.  Those experience I just had from Wimbledon.  Of course, I’m just very happy, you know, to reach the semifinal at other Grand Slam.

“So I think this is the level everybody playing great tennis.  Well, it’s a bit more pressure.  This is the semifinal of a Grand Slam.  Especially here, first time for me.

“Hopefully I will play the same tennis as today.”

Radwanska said that her match-up against Cibulkova next,  will be a challenging one, since she been playing against since she was 9 or ten:

“I think it’s always tricky to play someone that you know for so long, play so many times, as well.  Like I’m saying, every match is a different story, especially when it’s a semifinal of a Grand Slam, the first semis for me and for her as well.  Well, we’ll see.”

 

Share

Extreme Heat has Players Talking at Australian Open

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

 

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 16, 2014) MELBOURNE – With players being treated for the heat throughout the morning and early afternoon at the Australian Open, the Extreme Heat Policy came into effect at about 2.50pm on Thursday. According to official statements, the conditions were not considered dangerous until this stage, but Maria Sharapova thinks the threshold point could be better explained to the tennis players.

 

The Extreme Heat Policy, in short, ensures that when humidity, temperature and wind speed reach a certain point, no new matches are to commence until further notice and that all sets already in progress must be completed in the same conditions in which they started. Thereafter, matches on outdoor courts will be suspended and the roof may be closed on major arenas.

 

On Thursday, Maria Sharapova and Karin Knapp had already begun their third, deciding set in the blistering heat when the policy was implemented. This meant the roof could not be closed until the conclusion of that set, however, in their case this would mean the end of the match.

 

Some of the players expressed their thoughts on the policy and made suggestions as to how they believed it could better serve the best interests of the athletes who carry the sport.

 

A light-headed Varvara Lepchenko had spent a full hour after her match lying down, trying to recover from the ordeal.

 

“The first thing I did was have an ice bath and I also drank a lot of water with salt. I just lay down in the locker room for the past hour and I just physically couldn’t get up,” Varvara said shakily.

 

“I’m feeling still a little bit weak and I just feel like I wanna sit down all the time and lay down.

 

“I think they definitely should have just not started the matches in the first place and the same goes a couple of days ago… I think they should’ve started the matches after the temperature cooled down a little bit because this is just too much.

 

“When the game kept going, I had many things in my mind. First of all, that I had a good chance and then I started feeling like that and I didn’t know how my body could recover from it during the match. The other thing I started thinking was, what if I’m just gonna drop right now. Then it’s going to take me even longer to recover from something like that.

 

“Obviously it’s very dangerous if somebody has a condition to the heart or anything like that. Being in this temperature’s almost like going to (a) sauna and it’s not good.

 

“It happened to me, for the first time in my life, that I was playing under these conditions… at first, I didn’t understand what was going on. But then my legs and my arms just started to get heavier and I couldn’t focus. And at one point I started feeling dizzier and dizzier.

 

“At 5-1, I started feeling a little bit weak but I thought that I was just feeling tired and I tried to push myself.. In the second set I couldn’t focus on my returns, I couldn’t see the ball… everything started going so fast like I felt like the time in between the points. I started feeling really hot on the top of my head and then at one point I completely lost it.

 

“I just couldn’t focus on the point. I felt like my arms weighed a ton and I started feeling dizzy and this one last point on her serve, I don’t remember what was the score, I started feeling really dizzy and I just didn’t know how to handle that.

 

Having experienced the hot, heavy air on court herself, Lepchenko had a lot of admiration for Sharapova’s ability to at last claim victory in her brutal three-setter under the scorching Melbourne sun, open roof in the Rod Laver Arena.

 

“Just watching Maria, I thought ‘wow’. She played under the same conditions.

 

“The temperature was rising every minute and every second of the hour.”

 

Sharapova acknowledged the fact that it would be difficult for anyone to pinpoint the exact limit for when conditions should be considered ‘extreme’.

 

“​It’s a tough call,” Sharapova said.

 

“I mean, I think the question I have is that no one really knows what the limit is, not the players. Even the trainers themselves, when you ask them, ‘when will the roof be closed?’ ​No one actually knows what that number is in comparison to humidity or the actual heat. Sometimes you wish you know, because it just depends on, I’m not sure who, a referee or the meteorologist and there are just a lot of questions in the air that maybe should be solved.

 

“I would love to know a bit more detail before, not even before I get on the court but just in general, it’s good to know. I didn’t even know there was no play when I left the court. I mean, I had no idea. But it seems a little strange that the WTA Tour trainers don’t know what that threshold is.

 

“​We have never received any emails or, you know, warnings about the weather or what to do.”

 

The world No. 3 suddenly paused in recollection, with a bittersweet smile.

 

“Actually, I did receive one, I think, while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago,” Sharapova laughed, “and I was like, that’s a little too late. It was a little late. It was probably when they were stopping the matches like, oh, maybe it’s about time we sent out a warning.”

 

She also thinks time violations handed down for lengthier water breaks, given the circumstances are a tad harsh and that breaks should either be extended or altogether suspended.

 

“I think it should be. For the safety of the players, definitely.

 

“On one hand you’re trying to get as much rest in between points as you can, but then you have an umpire who is giving you a time violation. Then you’re asking yourself whether that’s fair in whatever degree weather that was. So there is that mixed emotion of, okay, I need to get in the shade but then I need to be there when the time is up to be able to serve or return or whatever it is. There is a bit of pressure on the line as well in those conditions. Anywhere else it’s fine, if that’s the speed of the game, that’s absolutely fine. But in these conditions, let it go.”

 

Her main concern was that for a final set decider, in both the men’s and women’s draw, there should be special consideration given when there is no tie-break to put a quick, definitive end to the set.

 

“Everyone knows there is no tiebreaker in the third set. So once you start that set, you’re going to be out there until you’re done. That’s the question I have.

 

“I think in the third set for the women and the fifth set for the men, if you know that there is no tiebreaker, officials can’t just rely on maybe that the set will go fast, the set will be over and we will be off court because we have no tiebreaker in that last set. So that’s what you have to consider.”

 

Agnieszka Radwanska also made a comment about her thoughts on the heat rule after her match and offered insight into what the word of consensus was going around in the locker rooms at the moment.

 

“Today was really, really hard. Even (playing) indoors was ridiculous.

 

“I think everybody’s saying that sometimes it’s even too hot. Some of the girls can’t even talk after the match or practice.”

 

Friday is forecast to be another scorcher, with an expected high of 111 degrees F.

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

Share

Top Seed Radwanska Falls to Mattek-Sands in Sydney

MattekSands
By Dave Gertler

(January 7, 2014) Women’s top seed Agnieszka Radwanska has fallen 5-7, 2-6, in her first round of competition at the Apia International in Sydney, to American qualifier, Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

For Mattek-Sands, it has been a Herculean effort over five days where she has had to battle through qualifying matches played on outside courts, before entering Ken Rosewall Arena yesterday where she stunned Canadian rising star Eugenie Bouchard, also in straight sets. Relishing her first career win over Radwanska, she said, “I’ve played her a couple times and I’ve never beaten her, so it’s probably one of the best wins of my career.”

Having just come into press from a post-match ice-bath, Mattek-Sands joked about how cold it was in the room. When asked whether four consecutive matches on hot days leading up to this second-round match were a help or a hindrance to her cause today, she said, “Coming to Australia, you expect the heat and the sun, you know, I was ready for it. I wanted to get a lot of matches. I think that’ll be number 6 today. I hadn’t played a match since last September, so this has worked out great for me.”

Radwanska appeared composed in post-match press. Rather than dwelling on her inability to control the match against world No.22 Mattek-Sands, she attributed the upset to the aggressive play of her opponent, saying, “Didn’t matter if it was my first serve, second serve or anything, she was really going 100% for every ball.”

For her part, the world No.5 feels that despite her loss today, she is hopeful of her chances at the Australian Open starting next week. “I think every week is a different story. You start over and over again. You’re not winning every week every match. I think just a couple of guys can do it.” When asked if she was bothered by a shoulder issue she had at the Hopman Cup, Radwanska said it hurt, “Maybe a little, but I have very good painkillers.”

In her next match, Mattek-Sands will face compatriot Madison Keys. Giving her insight on what we can expect from the quarterfinal, she said, “We’ve played a few times. I think we’re 2 2 right now. We were just talking in the locker room. She’s a great upcoming player. Plays aggressive shots, big serve. You know, we’ve had some battles in the past, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I know she’s been playing great and she did well here last year too. You kind of get comfortable with the tournament, but I think it’ll be a really good match.”

Mattek-Sands said she is enjoying her great run of results in Sydney, saying, “You know what?  I love playing tennis.  I feel that’s just where I’ve been blessed with talent.  It’s something I’ve done since I’ve been young.”

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

Share

Mattek-Sands Stops Bouchard, Jankovic Ousted in Sydney

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

By Dave Gertler

(January 6, 2014) SYDNEY – American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands is fast becoming one of the stories of the 2014 Apia International tennis tournaemnts. After demolishing three opponents in qualifying, and now one in the main draw today, her next opponent will be defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.

Radwanska was at her first all-access media appearance at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. She was surprised at the upset, saying she had expected her second round opponent would be Eugenie Bouchard, whose serve – followed by the rest of her game – had collapsed earlier in the day in sweltering conditions, against Mattek-Sands.

Bouchard’s loss was one of three remarkable upsets on Monday. High-profile Serbian former No.1 Jelena Jankovic lost 4-6, 2-6 to Ekaterina Makarova, unseeded against the fourth seed Jankovic. Popular Romanian Sorana Cirstea only won five games in two sets on an outside court against Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova.

With big names like Bouchard, Cirstea, Alize Cornet, Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as Aussie hope Jarmila Gajdosova all losing in the first round to qualifiers, hot weather conditions seem to be playing a part, as players are needing time to adjust to the heat. In fact, of the six women who had to tough it out in qualifying, only two have fallen in their main draw matches.

Two players who immediately adjusted to the conditions were Angelique Kerber and Dominika Cibulkova, who pushed each other throughout two highly entertaining sets, which Kerber won 7-6, 7-5, in from of an appreciative Grandstand Court crowd. Later in the afternoon on the same court, Caroline Wozniacki didn’t need matchplay practice to beat lucky loser Julia Georges 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut will be required need to adjust quickly to his best tennis if he wants to withstand the big weapons off the racquet of a match-fit Ryan Harrison, who won his third round qualifier today against Alex Bogomolov Jr in a thrilling three-setter on Court 5.

On that same court on Tuesday, Harrison’s American compatriot Madison Keys, who shut down Simona Halep in the first round, will face wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic. Five out of eight women’s round of 16 matches on Tuesday will feature Americans. Mattek-Sands and Christina McHale will be amongst the featured action on Ken Rosewall Arena, facing the top two seeds, Radwanska and Petra Kvitova.

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

Share

Serena Williams to Face Jelena Jankovic in Istanbul Semis

 

Serena Williams

(October 25, 2013) Serena Williams will face off against Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday while Li Na will play Petra Kvitova.

No. 4 seed Li Na earned her semifinal berth with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Friday over Victoria Azarenka who was suffering from a back injury. Li won the White Group with a perfect 3-0 record.

2011 WTA Championships winner Petra Kvitova, came back against Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3.

Defending champion Serena Williams has a 7-4 career edge against Jankovic. Li and Kvitova are even at 3-3 in head-to-head meetings.

The Williams-Jankovic match-up will be just the second time that two thirty-somethings are in the final four of the year-end championships.

Not in  action on Friday, Williams accepted her award for finishing 2013 with the top ranking for the third time. Williams also finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2002 and 2009.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Friday, October 25, 2013
White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 62 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 64

Red Group
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 67(3) 62 63

Order Of Play – Saturday, October 26, 2013
Center Court (from 13.00hrs)
1. Petrova/Srebotnik vs. Hsieh/Peng
2. Li Na vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic
4. Errani/Vinci vs. Makarova/Vesnina

Share

Serena Williams First to Reach Istanbul Semifinals

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff112

(October 24, 2013) Serena Williams completed round-robin play at the WTA Championships in Istanbul with a perfect 3-0 record in the Red Group without dropping a set as she defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday in 72 minutes. She improved her record against the Czech to 5-0.

 

Williams dominated Kvitova in every way. Williams hit 27 winners, hit 11 aces, fought off all four break points against her, won 15 straight points in one part of the match and won 18 consecutive points on her serve at one point.

 

The 32-year-old defending champion is three wins behind Martina Navratilova, who holds the record of 21 straight wins in the WTA Year-End.

Williams is having a career year going 76-4 with 10 titles in 2013. She trying to become the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. The world No. 1 is bidding to win her 4th WTA Championships crown. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Despite the loss, Kvitova who is 1-1 in the Red Group still has a chance to advance to the semis, should she defeat Angelique Kerber in group play on Friday.

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
(8) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 62

White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 26 63

Order Of Play – Friday, October 25, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na
2. Petra Kvitova vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Sara Errani vs. Jelena Jankovic

Share

Serena Williams Sails, Jankovic Shocks Azarenka in Istanbul

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(October 23, 2013) Top seed Serena Williams remained undefeated in Red Group play while No. 2 Victoria Azarenka fell to former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the White Group on Wednesday at the WTA Championships in Istanbul.

 

Williams was too much of a force for Agnieszka Radwanska as she dismissed her 6-2, 6-4 in the last match of the day. Williams increase her perfect record over Radwanska to 8-0. Williams has only ever lost one set to Radwanska and that came in the 2012 Wimbledon final.

 

Williams who is 2-0 in round-robin play will match up against undefeated Petra Kvitova next. Williams is 75-4 for 2013.

 

The upset contest of the day belonged to Jelena Jankovic who downed Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, breaking a four-match losing skid against the Belarusian. Jankovic is coming back into the form that made her a top 10 player. She’s back in the top ten for the first time since 2011, currently ranked No. 8.

 

Azarenka has struggled since reaching the finals of the US Open, falling in the opening rounds of Tokyo and Beijing. She also struggled in her first round-robin match in Istanbul, a three-set win over Sara Errani.

 

In more White Group action, Li Na opened up Wednesday’s play with a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over Sara Errani. Li was forced to rally from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, as well as the tiebreak to move past Errani. Li’s record against Errani is now 6-0.

 

The top two records in each group  will advance to the semifinals.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 62 64

White Group
(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 63
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 63 76(5)

Order Of Play – Thursday, October 24, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Serena Williams vs. Petra Kvitova

Share