September 2, 2015

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

By Stephanie Neppl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 WTA Finals Scenarios

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

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

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

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Seeds Radwanska and Stephens Fall at US Open

 

Radwanska bh

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shuai Peng

Shuai Peng

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Li Na, Agniezska Radwanska and Venus Williams Reach Wimbledon Third Round

 

(June 25, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 2 Li Na, No. 4 Agniezska Radwanska and five-time champion Venus Williams are into the third round of Wimbledon, all women posting straight set victories on Wednesday.

Li Na took to Court No. 2 to defeat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.

“Can be better.  Can be bad.  You never know,” Li said about her play.

“But I was really happy the way I was hit the ball right now on the court.

Despite being placed on an outer court as the second seed, Li Na enjoys playing earlier in the day.

“I like to be the first match,” she said.  “Yesterday they showed the Centre Court and Court 1, the schedule on the TV.  I say, Go call the schedule.  Maybe I was play first, at 11:30.

“I love to be the first match.  You don’t have to wait.  If they put you in like fourth or last match, you have to wait for the match.  Whole day you couldn’t do anything.

The Chinese woman led off with two breaks of serve early in the first set and followed suit in the second for a convincing win.

Li Na hit 33 winners with 4 aces.

Li Na will play Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round.

“I think the last time we meet was like in the clay court,” Li explained.  “I know she was pretty smart player.  Pretty flat.  I think it’s good for her to play on the grass court.

“For me, I think I just play my game, play more aggressive, as much as I can come to the net, follow the plan.”

Radwanska defeated Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-0 on Centre Court. The woman from Poland ran up a 5-1 lead, but the Aussie won the next three games to get back on serve, then dropped her next service game at love to give the set to Radwanska.

The Polish woman was very happy to be on Centre Court, the site of her only major final. “It’s always great to be out there, especially here what I really have the best memories on the Grand Slam.

“So of course I was really looking forward to being in the Centre Court again.”

No. 30 seed Venus Williams got off to a bit of a slow start against Japan’s Kurumi Nara but won in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Court No. 3 to earn a spot in the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 major tournaments.

“I think at the important points in the game I was able to lift my game a little, Williams explained.  “That’s what you really want to do.  Then also in the second set lift my game.

“I thought she played well.”

“I know that no one’s going to give me a match,” she added.  “You don’t get given a match, especially at the majors.  I knew all points I would have to work for.”

“It’s very special for me because I saw the Venus like when I was a child, Nara said.

“So it’s very happy to play with her.

The American hit 7 aces and smacked 43 winners past her opponent.

“Definitely for me it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Williams said about making the third round.  “The thing that I just have to really work on is being on tour consistently and playing tournaments.

“Even leading up these last few months, I don’t feel I played as many matches as I would have liked, as many as my opponents.  The more you play, the more you get used to being down or up or serving things out.

“My whole goal is just to keep playing and stay as healthy as I can.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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