2014/07/31

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 .

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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 .

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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

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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

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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

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Serena Williams Crushes Kerber in Opening Match in Istanbul

Serena Williams

(October 22, 2013) No. 1 Serena Williams demolished Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-1 to begin her quest to defend last year’s WTA Championships title and to win her fourth year-end title. Kerber is one of only a few women to beat Williams in the last two years when she bested the American in Cincinnati in August of 2012.

Kerber told media that Williams was playing “unbelievable” and that she had no chance.

Williams is having a banner year going 74-4 with 10 titles so far in 2013. She trying to to be the first woman to defend the year-end event title since Justine Henin in 2007. Henin was also the last women to win 10 titles, also in 2007.

Williams has passed the $10 million mark in prize money for the year. Should she defend the title and go undefeated she would surpass the $12 million dollars for the year.

In the final match of the day, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4.

 

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

Results – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Red Group
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 63 61
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 64

White Group
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Li Na vs. Sara Errani
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Serena Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

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Azarenka Pushes Past Errani to Lead Off WTA Championships

Azarenka

By Andrew Jones

(October 22, 2013) After the first seven games of the match in the first match at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, it seemed Sara Errani was ready to show again to any of her critics why their negative comments about her are still unbelievably foolish.

 

With her all court skill and savvy at just 5’4, Errani’s level of shotmaking and versatility became the main story of the first set instead of Victoria Azarenka‘s search to reclaim her top two form. But as the case with Errani, having even two breaks leads in a set against the elite is not a guarantee for her, as the Belarusian came back to score a satisfying opening win, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

 

Down 5-2 in the first set, Azarenka found her consistency with her usual depth that was absent the first seven games. It came in the nic of time, as she started to anticipate Errani’s top class dropshots and raise her own level of serve to turn around the match.

 

Errani was clearly crushed that she couldn’t serve out the first set with two opportunities, as she ended the first set tiebreak with a brutal second double fault of her serve to give Azarenka the full escape out of trouble. That was a precursor to how the second set would go, as Errani’s ailing calf and achilles on her right leg were prevalent to all. She called for the trainer twice and received one medical timeout, but the 5th ranked player did not have any plans to retire from the match.

 

It will be interesting to see if Errani will play her remaining two matches in the White Group, especially with her having the first match again Wednesday against Li Na. With her and Roberta Vinci in the doubles’ semifinals, it would not be a surprise to see Caroline Wozniacki replace Errani as the first alternative.

 

Meanwhile for Azarenka, it was the type of tricky test she needed in order to end her three match losing streak. Errani is as eclectic as any top 10 player (and that includes Agnieszka Radwanska), and the world number two is fully cognizant of the fact that she won’t face anyone else as capricious as the diminutive Italian. She showed terrific movement and no signs of any ailments and showed, even on the notoriously slow indoor surface at the Sinan Erdem Dome, that she is still the favorite right after Serena Williams.

 

Andrew Jones is a freelance sports, political, and music journalist. He is also the founder and publisher of The Whole Delivery (twd4u.com). Follow him on twitter.

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No. 1 Serena Williams Set to Begin WTA Championships Defense on Tuesday

Serena Williams Beijing

By Andrew Jones

(October 21, 2013) In a perfect world, the tournament would be named “The Serena Williams Year End Coronation Exhibition.” But out of respect to the seven other ladies in attendance, the WTA Championships will conclude its lovely three year relationship with the city of Istanbul starting Tuesday.

The famous Turkish city has been a terrific host for the WTA Championships, a major upgrade from past hosts like Los Angeles, Berlin, and Madrid after the tour decided to leave New York City’s Madison Square Garden a decade ago. But with the Chairman and  CEO Stacey Allaster moving its championships to Asia (and virtually every other tournament it seems nowadays) to Singapore for next year, it will be a bittersweet tournament for the locals who have given the year end finale a great temporary home.

And it was clearly the home for the world No. 1 last year with her dominance to win her second year-end championships without dropping a set, and Williams the younger is projected by most to do the same. However, with Victoria Azarenka back after an ugly Asia swing for her with ailments and illness all over, the always solid Agniezska Radwanska, and the reemerging force that is Petra Kvitova still here to give it their all in the last tournament of the year, Williams will still have to play well enough to close a banner 2013.

Three of those four players mentioned there are in the same group, with it fittingly called the red group as an in-form Angelique Kerber rounds out their formidable foursome. Like Kvitova, Kerber has had a good fall campaign after a mostly terrible season and has done well to surge into the last spot ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens, who are alternatives. And she beat Radwanska, who was flat after winning Seoul the week prior, in the Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo) before Radwanska returned the favor on her friend at the China Open (Beijing) in the instant rematch. Kerber also played Kvitova in Tokyo in the final, and the quality all-lefty battle went to the Czech, as both women have located needed momentum for 2014.

Still, all three women are playing for second place in the group, as an even fogged challenge, easily frustrated, and slightly ailed Williams was still good enough to win the China Open going away. With her loving indoors too, like her old red group members, taking a set off Serena in the group stages and the whole week in general is going to be a difficult task.

It’s a scenario that the four members in the white group thankfully don’t have to deal with for their own relief, as Azarenka headlines a quartet not as formidable as their red counterparts. The world number two’s own problems since that dramatic US Open final with Serena will either be vanished or still apparent when she plays the championships’ opening match against the always game Sara Errani, who has done quite well  to make the last eight for a second consecutive year. The former doubles and best friend duo of Li Na and Jelena Jankovic complete the group and will feel they have a strong chance to make the semifinals in Istanbul.

Not to be forgotten are the final four teams in doubles, with the aforementioned Errani and Roberta Vinci set to close out their latest No. 1 year in style. But they will face stern challenges from the superb Asian duo of Peng Shuai and Su-Wei Hsieh, who have grown into a world class team, the accomplished veteran pair of Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik, and the talented, eclectic Russian combination of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

In a perfect world, this tournament would be called “The Serena Williams Year End Coronation Exhibition.” But that would be boring and thankfully we don’t live in a perfect world. But the year-end championships giving Istanbul and the 2013 season the perfect sendoff would be a perfect week, regardless of whoever wins.

 

RED GROUP (seed in parentheses)

(1) Serena Williams (USA)

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

(8) Angelique Kerber (GER)

 

WHITE GROUP

(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

(4) Li Na (CHN)

(6) Sara Errani (ITA)

(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB)

 

Predictions from Andrew Jones:

Red Group Top 2: Serena Williams and Aga Radwanska

White Group Top 2: Victoria Azarenka and Li Na

 

Final: Serena Williams defeats Aga Radwanska 

 

Doubles winner: Peng Shuai and Su-Wei Hsieh

 

Andrew Jones is a freelance sports, political, and music journalist. He is also the founder and publisher of The Whole Delivery (twd4u.com). Follow him on twitter @sluggahjells.

 

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

Order Of Play – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Center Court (from 17.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Sara Errani
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova

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Draws Made for TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul

 

(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

(L-R) Sara Errani of Italy, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Serena Williams of USA, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Li Na of China, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, and Angelique Kerber of Germany pose with the Billie Jean King trophy for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA).

(October 20, 2013) The WTA Championships begin on Tuesday in Istanbul. The singles draws where made on Sunday and are as follows:

RED GROUP (seed in parentheses)

(1) Serena Williams (USA)

(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

(8) Angelique Kerber (GER)

 

WHITE GROUP

(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

(4) Li Na (CHN)

(6) Sara Errani (ITA)

(7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB)

 

2012  champion Serena Williams is trying to become the first player to defend the year-end championships since Justine Henin did it in 2007.

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Teams Named for 2014 Hopman Cup

 

(October 8, 2013) The official draw, teams and provisional schedule have been set for the mixed teams event,  the Hyundai Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. The event will be held from December 28, 2013 through January 4, 2014.

 

     

 

   
  Schedule Time Matches
  Saturday 28 December 10:00 am Poland v Italy
    5:30 pm Canada v Australia
  Sunday 29 December 10:00 am Czech Republic v Spain
    5:30 pm Poland v Canada
  Monday 30 December 10:00 am USA v Spain
    5:30 pm France v Czech Republic
  Tuesday 31 December 10:00 am Italy v Australia
  Wednesday 1 January 5:30 pm USA v France
  Thursday 2 January 10:00 am Italy v Canada
    5:30 pm Poland v Australia
  Friday 3 January 10:00 am France v Spain
    5:30 pm Czech Republic v USA
  Saturday 4 January 5:30 pm Winner Group A v Winner Group B

 

 

Poland                                [15] Jerzy Janowicz and [4] Agnieszka Radwanska

USA                                     [13] John Isner and [12] Sloane Stephens

France                                [9] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and [27] Alize Cornet

Canada                               [11] Milos Raonic and [35] Eugenie Bouchard

Czech Republic                [39] Radek Stepanek and [7] Petra Kvitova

Italy                                     [22] Andreas Seppi and [31] Flavia Pennetta

Australia                             [51] Bernard Tomic and [20] Sam Stosur

Spain                                   [19] Tommy Robredo and [98] Anabel Medina Garrigues

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