August 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.

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


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.”



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


Steady Radwanska Notches First Win Over Kvitova in Istanbul


(October 23, 2012) No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska defeated defending WTA Championships titleholder No. 6 Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2 to open round-robin play in the “White Group” in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Radwanska won the first seven points of the match and rushed out to a 3-0 lead in the first set. Kvitova broke to get the match back on serve, but was broken again at 3-4 and the Pole held to close out the first set 6-3.

In the second set the Czech Kvitova was broken in her first two service games, broke back once but never got back into the set.

“For sure was a little bit up and down, especially with the serve,” said Radwanska.  “Was a lot of breaks.  I think she didn’t really use her serve like was really always her big weapon.

“I think today she wasn’t serving that good, that’s why I could really break her a couple of times in the set.  I think it was the key for me in that match.  But, you know, the first match is always tough.  I think we all might play different the next matches.”

This was Radwanska’s first victory over Kvitova (1-4) and she talked about what she did differently this time around.

“I saw the statistic before the match and I thought it would be nice to change,” the Pole said of her losing record against the Czech.

“But it’s always tough, especially for the first match.  Every week is different surface, especially here.  It’s really hard to adjust.

“Just very happy that I could play really my best tennis today and close that match in two sets.

Radwanska liked the court conditions: “It’s actually slow, slower than the usual hard court, so for sure it was a good move that I was here a little bit earlier and trying to adjust to that surface for couple of days before.

I think was the good move.”

She’s very smart and she knows what I will play, Kvitova said of her opponent.  “She knows which side I will choose.  That’s why I think she’s reading the game very well.

“I mean, she’s really dangerous player because you never know if she’s playing slice or dropshot or she can just play on the line or the cross.”

Kvitova, who committed 41 errors in the match admitted she was nervous:

“I was nervous all the match.  I felt my fingers weren’t still moving and I didn’t move on my legs.

“I’m disappointing in myself.  I had a lot of errors and it wasn’t good tennis from my side.

“Yeah, but still, I mean, it’s the Championships and I have a second chance.”

For Kvitova the loss snapped her 25-match indoor win streak and it was her first loss at the Year-End Championships for her career – she went undefeated in 2011.

Istanbul, Turkey
October 23-28, 2012

Results – Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Round Robin – Red Group
(3) Serena Williams (USA) d. (5) Angelique Kerber (GER) 64 61

Round Robin – White Group
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (7) Sara Errani (ITA) 63 62
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 63 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Stadium (from 17.00hrs)
1. Serena Williams vs. Li Na
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Agnieszka Radwanska


Draws Made for TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships

(L-R) Li Na of China, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Serena Williams of USA, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Sara Errani of Italy pose for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for WTA).

ISTANBUL (October 21, 2012) – The draws have been made for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. The draw ceremony was held this evening at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul, Turkey.

Tuesday’s Order of Play

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stadium (from 17.00hrs)
1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Petra Kvitova
2. Serena Williams vs. Angelique Kerber
3. Maria Sharapova vs. Sara Errani

The draw:
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
(3) Serena Williams (USA)
(5) Angelique Kerber (GER)
(8) Li Na (CHN)

(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS)
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE)
(7) Sara Errani (ITA)

RED GROUP: Azarenka, Williams, Kerber, Li…

(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
~ ’12 Titles: 6 – Sydney, Australian Open, Doha, Indian Wells, Beijing, Linz
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: Won Australian Open
~ Fall record: 13-0 (and 26-0 in sets)
~ H2H vs group: 1-10 vs Williams, 2-0 vs Kerber, 4-4 vs Li
~ Quote: “Every match here will be tough – I obviously have great champions in the group. It’s challenging, definitely, but I’m looking forward to it.”

(3) Serena Williams (USA)
~ ’12 Titles: 6 – Charleston, Madrid, Wimbledon, Stanford, Olympics, US Open
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: Won Wimbledon & US Open
~ Fall record: 0-0
~ H2H vs group: 10-1 vs Azarenka, 1-1 vs Kerber, 5-1 vs Li
~ Quote: “I don’t really care who I play or when I play, as long as I can play. I’m really happy to be here. I’m on the red side with Victoria, so it’ll be good.”

(5) Angelique Kerber (GER)
~ ’12 Titles: 2 – Paris [Indoors], Copenhagen
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: SFs at Wimbledon
~ Fall record: 4-2
~ H2H vs group: 0-2 vs Azarenka, 1-1 vs Williams, 1-5 vs Li
~ Quote: “It doesn’t matter which group you’re in, it’s not easy – we’re the best eight players, and every match will be hard. But it’s an honor for me to be here. I’ll enjoy every match. It’s a bonus after such a great year. When I started this year I wasn’t thinking about No.5 or being here, so this is a great highlight.”

(8) Li Na (CHN)
~ ’12 Titles: 1 – Cincinnati
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: 4r at Australian Open & French Open
~ Fall record: 5-2
~ H2H vs group: 4-4 vs Azarenka, 1-5 vs Williams, 5-1 vs Kerber
~ Quote: “It doesn’t matter which group you’re in, everyone’s tough. Only the Top 8 players play this tournament. It’s a good challenge for yourself.”

WHITE GROUP: Sharapova, Radwanska, Kvitova, Errani…

(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS)
~ ’12 Titles: 3 – Stuttgart, Rome, French Open
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: Won French Open
~ Fall record: 7-2
~ H2H vs group: 7-2 vs Radwanska, 4-2 vs Kvitova, 1-0 vs Errani
~ Quote: “When you’re coming here you pretty much know what you’re going to get in terms of the level of the group. With the field we have, I think every match, no matter what group you’re in, will be pretty tough from the get go.”

(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
~ ’12 Titles: 3 – Dubai, Miami, Brussels
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: R-Up at Wimbledon
~ Fall record: 6-2
~ H2H vs group: 2-7 vs Sharapova, 0-3 vs Kvitova, 5-1 vs Errani
~ Quote: “It’s the eight best players in the world, so there’s no easy group and no easy match – but I’ll have a good couple of matches, I hope.”

(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE)
~ ’12 Titles: 2 – Montréal, New Haven
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: SFs at Australian Open & French Open
~ Fall record: 1-2
~ H2H vs group: 2-4 vs Sharapova, 3-0 vs Radwanska, 3-0 vs Errani
~ Quote: “You can’t choose who can be in your group. All eight players are great players who have had a great season. I’ll try my best. I remember the great support I got last year. I’m looking forward to being on the court again.”

(7) Sara Errani (ITA)
~ ’12 Titles: 4 – Acapulco, Barcelona, Budapest, Palermo
~ Best Grand Slam result in 2012: R-Up at French Open
~ Fall record: 2-2
~ H2H vs group: 0-1 vs Sharapova, 1-5 vs Radwanska, 0-3 vs Kvitova
~ Quote: “Of course it’s a tough group – both groups are tough, and the players are strong. We will see how it goes. I’ll just try to play my best game, singles and doubles – it’s amazing for me to be here.”


Statistics provided by the WTA


Li Na Clinches Final Singles Spot at WTA Championships

China’s Li Na has secured the eighth and final singles place at this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be staged at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The WTA’s year-end finale, to be held from October 23-28, will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for the coveted title and a share of $4.9 million in prize money.


For the first time in the WTA Championships’ 42 year history, each player in the singles draw will represent a different country: Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Maria Sharapova (Russia), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland), Serena Williams (United States), Angelique Kerber (Germany), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Sara Errani (Italy) and Li Na (China).


“I would like to congratulate Li Na on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul for the second successive year, which is an amazing accomplishment,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “She is one of the WTA’s most popular players and will proudly represent her country, as she continues to inspire a generation of players in China. I am also thrilled that for the first time in the history of our Championships, the singles field will feature players from all different countries, which underscores the incredible global reach of our sport and athletes.”


“In the last two years, I have played the best tennis of my career and I am excited to return to the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships again this year,” Li said after defeating Radwanska in the quarterfinals at Beijing.


One of five Grand Slam singles champions to compete in the Istanbul, Li won 10 matches in 11 days during the US Open Series to win the sixth WTA singles title of her career at the Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) and finish runner-up at Rogers Cup (Montréal). The 30-year-old also advanced to the final at the Apia International Sydney and Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome) and was a four-time quarterfinalist at BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells), Sony Open Tennis (Miami), Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart) and Mutua Madrid Open.


Li made her Championships debut at Istanbul last year, where she bowed out in the round-robin stages.


Notes and Quotes From Monday at the China Open

BEIJING, China – A few of the more “notable” quotes from some of Monday’s news conferences at the China Open.

Novak Djokovic

On getting back to the top spot:

It is still open, you know, the No. 1 spot of the world.  Obviously I will try to dedicate myself and focus to every tournament that I play, try not to think about what’s going to happen in the end of the season because there is still, you know, more than a few tournaments to go, you know, here in Asia and then after, indoor season in Europe.


So as I said, everything is possible, but I will try to not think about calculations, not think about any other players’ results, and just concentrate on my own game.


Asked about his understanding of fashion as he wears a tie to his pre-tournament news conference:

Well, I can already say that I feel more comfortable in my tennis clothes.  That’s for sure.  Wearing a tennis shirt is more common and more comfortable to me.

But, you know, me personally, I like to dress up casual, I like to dress up differently, get into the suit, get into the jeans.  You know, we don’t have much occasions, but, you know, it always feels good when you look nice.

So, I mean, every tennis player, every athlete, every person has a different way of perceiving fashion.  I cannot speak or generalize things and opinions.  I like fashion.  I follow fashion.  It’s important part of people’s lives, but I don’t depend from it, also.


My opponent is the one I focus on tomorrow.  That’s all I think of at this moment, is the first match.

As I said, I haven’t played here in two years.  I never played on the big stadium, new stadium, because it was used for the first time in 2011.  So I’ll try only to focus on tomorrow’s match.

And regarding the other players taking a part in this tournament, it’s a great field.  You know, you have top 10 players.  You have really good quality players, attractive players for the fans, and, you know, obviously it’s a combined event.

So in the woman’s side it’s maybe even stronger.  It’s good for everybody to have such a strong tournament.


At this moment Federer, Nadal, Murray, myself, we have been playing really, really well in last five, six years and grabbing most of the Grand Slam titles, so I think that gets more attention to our sport, you know, the rivalry that we have between each other.

But we’ll see.  You know, it also depends how far Roger is gonna go, how long he’s gonna play more.  You know, Rafa having not played from Wimbledon, see how he’s gonna feel physically.

Murray I think is playing better than ever.  You know, he won his first Grand Slam title.  I’m sure that he’s one that’s going to be in the future one of the contenders to win every Grand Slam he plays in.  He definitely has the skill, the quality.

But there is many more other players like Tsonga, Berdych, Ferrer who can surprise, who can, you know, be out there fighting for a trophy.

So I think it’s quite a good field.  It’s quite a good group of players that are, you know, with great quality.  We’ll see what happens.

Asked about dancing Gangnam style at China Open and dancing with Andrea Petkovic? 


Andrea?  Well, sure, why not?  I’m open for any suggestions.

That song is actually very popular.  I did dance a couple of days ago with that song.  So why not?  If she’s ready, I’m glad to dance with somebody.  You know, I don’t like dancing alone.  It would be nice if it’s a girl, also.


Agniezska Radwanska


Q.  You are used to being good friends with Azarenka but actually have some unpleasant experience this year.  Will you bother to make a further explanation to that unpleasant experience this year?

Radwanska:  Well, actually, we’re still okay, we are still friends, so I don’t know really what is the question about.

Q.  Last year you and Andrea Petkovic played a good game in the final.  After the match, you danced with her on the court.  So this year, if you are able, if you will defend your title, will you dance again on the court?

Radwanska:  I promise if I win that tournament I can even dance more.  You remind me if I will be in the final.  (Smiling.)

Victoria Azarenka

Asked about her health since she pulled out of Tokyo last week with dizziness:

Yeah, I feel much better, which is, you know, everything I could ask for is to feel better physically.

So still, you know, maybe not perfect as usual, but I can’t complain.

Goal for the last part of the season: 

The goal is to finish the year, you know, as strong as possible, the same way that I started; you know, to be consistent, to have, you know, good results and still in that last period of time that we have during this year to improve myself as a player and step it up, you know.

We have a few more weeks that, you know, just try to keep the focus, keep the motivation up, and hopefully, you know, physically will allow me to show my best tennis.  I’m really excited to finish the year on a strong note.


Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic


On his surprise loss to Romanian wild card Marius Copil ranked No. 221 in the world:

Well, I would say just I wasn’t serving consistently well, especially, I mean, when I had the break up in all three sets I would lose my serve, especially there in the third set.

I lost it.  I mean, on the beginning of the third set, the first break that I lost I almost won all those three points that I lost before the break of the serve, and then I missed, either made a double fault or made a wrong call for the Hawkeye and missed one easy ball, and then at the end of the set I just lost couple points which I almost won.

So it was a little bit difficult to judge for me that, I mean, couple points decided.  I think he served really well, especially from the second set to when he broke me back and in the third set.

I tried to move a little bit more around just to give him a different perspective to look at.  It was working well, especially on the second serve.  I was winning a lot of points on the return with that, I think, but mostly the problem came in my service games where I didn’t execute in the right way  I wanted.

That just gave him a little bit of an edge, and he was more relaxed on his service games.

I’m very disappointed, as I always feel here may be the best in the year, and the conditions here would suit my game almost perfectly.  Really sad that I lost, but looking ahead, I have to be positive for next three tournaments to try to play well, and hopefully I’m going to get my chance next year.


Tennis Panorama News is in Beijing this week covering the China Open. Follow the updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.


Notes From Behind the Wall at the China Open

Notes From Behind the Wall:

Count on the Chinese to ask the blunt questions, no sugar-coating. Exhibit A:

Q. You are used to being good friends with Azarenka but actually have some unpleasant experience this year. Will you bother to make a further explanation to that unpleasant experience this year?

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, actually, we’re still okay, we are still friends, so I don’t know really what is the question about.


What the transcript does not show was Radwanska saying she does not understand the question before having it repeated and giving the answer above. The question was definitely a surprise since the two haven’t met since Madrid after facing off one tournament after another since the start of the year. By Indian Wells, already their fourth encounter, the friendship seems to have soured after Radwanska called out Azarenka for exaggerating an injury sustained during their match in Doha. In the tennis calendar, Doha in February seems like a lifetime ago. But don’t blame the Chinese media for bringing that up now, after all, they’ve been waiting the whole year for the tour to finally make its way here.


The drawing power of the Armada?


The practice courts on Monday morning were a relatively calm place for a scattered group of spectators to check out the players as they do their thing. On court 1 was Christina Mchale still here and practicing hard, on court 5 there was Laura Robson against Virginie Razzano. Then you see several security people lined up behind the fence that straddles practice courts 1 and 2.

It turns out that scheduled for noon at court 1 were Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero and on court 2 were Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Andujar. In the end, there weren’t many people around the practice courts anyway for security to control.


The legend of the Fabio


Having heard so much about the on court antics of one Fabio Fognini, I had to go check it out for myself. I left the media room when Fognini was down a break at 1-3 and I get to the court and he had just lost the first set 1-6. Then it was all Fabio talking to the umpire complaining about the line calls. Fognini to Steve Ulrich “You make me crazy. I’m not joking, you make me crazy.” I feel for his coach who was very enthusiastic, yelling encouragement even in French and Spanish “Tres bien” Vamos!” This was all to no avail as the complaining Fognini loses to Florian Mayer 1-6 2-6.


Abigail Hinto is in Beijing this week covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.



Petrova Defeats Radwanska to Earn Tokyo Title



Nadia Petrova captured her 12th career WTA title on Saturday by winning the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open over defending champion No. 3 Agniezska Radwanska in Tokyo.

“After running out of gas in the second set, I don’t know where I found the strength and willpower to fight in the third set, but I did and it feels amazing,” Petrova said. This is the biggest tournament I’ve ever won. It’s a great accomplishment. And at the beginning of the tournament I definitely didn’t expect to win the title, because of the back injury I’ve been struggling with. I’m so happy to be here right now.

“There are a few players who have won Grand Slams after 30, and I feel like I don’t want to walk away from tennis without accomplishing the same. I still find the will to wake up every morning and go on the court and try to improve with each day. If it’s meant to happen it will, but if it doesn’t, at the end of my career I’ll know I’ve done everything I could.”
Petrova knocked out three top ten players during the week -Radwanska, No. 7 Sara Errani and No. 9 Sam Stosur.

“I’m disappointed, ” Radwanska said. “I wanted to win this title so much, and when you’re so close and feel you can make it, it’s always emotional if you don’t. But she was playing really well. Her biggest weapon is her serve, for sure, but also her return was very good today, and I had to serve really well myself to hold my serve. But overall I think those two shots were working really well for her today.”

Petrova, currently ranked at 18 in the world, is expected to move up to No. 14 when the rankings come out on Monday.

Tokyo, Japan
September 23-29, 2012

Singles – Final
(17) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 60 16 63

Doubles – Final
Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (4) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) 61 64


New Haven Open – WTA All-Access Hour


By Jack Cunniff

On Sunday, three of the top four seeds of the 2012 New Haven Open met with the press to talk about on a variety of topics. Here are excerpts from those conversations.

Italy’s Sara Errani, the fourth seed in New Haven, is one of the most improved players on the year. She started her year by reaching her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January. Her year peaked in June, when she reached the French Open final in both singles and doubles. While she came up short in the Ladies’ Singles final against Maria Sharapova, she and partner Roberta Vinci won the Ladies’ Doubles title. As a result of her strong play in Paris, Errani cracked the Top Ten in the world for the first time.


  • On what’s changed this year that has resulted in her new-found success: “I have changed rackets, so it was an important thing, a good change for me, and made me play better. It was more confidence and more matches won and everything.”


  • On why the racket change was successful: “It is a bit longer and has more power. Before it was not easy for me, I’m not very tall so it was important for me to make more power as possible.”


  • On why she decided to change rackets: “I tried, I don’t know why, another player in the academy where I practice was playing with that racket, so I just take it and play a few shots. It was an amazing feeling from the first ball.”


  • On Venus Williams, who defeated Errani twice this summer (Summer Olympics and Cincinnati): “Both Williams have, I don’t know, they have another category against other players, so much stronger than the others… Everything I tried was bad. I tried to make changes, change the spin and everything, try to make her run. But last weekend and the Olympics, I had no chance.”


  • On how life has changed after the French Open success: “It’s a bit different, more things to do like this (the interview), maybe before I never did… but I try to keep near me always the same people I like, and the same thing that I’ve done to arrive to these results.”


  • On the recent success of Italian players in the WTA, and Italy’s Fed Cup titles (2009 and 2010): “I think we are a good team, all four of us, Schiavone, Pennetta, Roberta (Vinci). We motivate each other, if one is going well, maybe the others see and so it’s a good competition.”

 Sara Errani WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Like Errani, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also reached her first Grand Slam final this year, at Wimbledon. On the strength of that result and several tournament victories over the last twelve months, she has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world. However, since Wimbledon, she’s hit a rough patch, losing in the opening round of the Olympics to Julia Goerges and two overwhelming losses to Li Na. She is the top seed at the 2012 New Haven Open.


  • On what’s the next step for her to reach No. 1: “Winning a couple more matches, that’s for sure. I’m working on it.”


  • On her shoulder : “It’s OK, it could be better, but I think I played this year so many tournaments, so many matches, and changed the surface so many times and the balls. It’s always the worst part of the season because it’s almost the end.” (Note: Radwanska retired in her first match in New Haven.)


  • On whether she has been able to finish her degree: “I’m trying, I’m trying to finish because I think it’s a great thing to finish university.”


  • On her improvement in 2012: “I didn’t really change anything. I was working hard off season… I think a little bit more experience, for sure. It was a great experience at Wimbledon being for the first time in the final. This is such a different feeling, being in the finals of a Grand Slam.”


  • On her impact on Poland, and whether girls look up to her as a role model: “I think so, I think more people are planning tennis (in Poland) more kids are playing tennis. I’m just very happy I can be part of Polish history, tennis in Poland. It’s a great feeling that I’m doing something good.”


  • On what she remembers from her early years of playing tennis (having started at age 5): “It was so much fun, especially when we were playing with other kids, with the balloons, the plastic rackets, and actually I think I was smaller than the net!”


  • On her sister’s success (Urszula, world rank No. 44): “She really starting to play much better. I’m very happy for her that she can have some good results, after she was really struggling with her back for a long time before. I’m just hoping we can play all the tournaments together.”


  • On her fame in Poland: “They know who I am, yes, for sure. There are not so many athletes in Poland especially playing a sport that’s famous around the world.”


  • On her mobile phone tennis game, and whether she has played it: “Yes I did, but I think I’m better on court, for real! It’s a nice thing to have and I’m very happy that other people like it as well.”

 Agniezska Radwanska WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Caroline Wozniacki is no stranger to New Haven, as the four-time defending champion. While she’s no longer the No. 1 ranked player in women’s tennis, she has maintained a Top Ten ranking, and continues to challenge the best in the world, including a win over Serena Williams in Miami earlier this year. Wozniacki, from Denmark, is seeded third at the 2012 New Haven Open.


  • On why New Haven is so successful for her: “It’s a very homey tournament. Anne (Worcester, Tournament Director) really takes care of the players. I just like the courts and the atmosphere here.”


  • On working with coach Thomas Johansson: “I haven’t worked with him so much lately because he’s been on holidays and relaxing a little bit, but he’s coming here. He’s a great guy and he knows the whole tennis life because he’s done it before himself.”


  • On what Thomas Johansson brings to her game: “It’s tough to say for me without going in to details and I don’t really feel like going into details. He comes with some good advice, and it’s nice to have my dad on court, as always, and nice having Thomas on court as well coming with a few different inputs.”


  • On boyfriend Rory McIlroy’s success, having won the PGA Championships: “It’s great. I’m really happy for him and proud of him because of what’s he’s achieved. Winning by 8 (strokes) in the PGA is unbelievable.”


  • On how she deals with the madness in New York City during the U.S. Open: “I love it. I think it’s great; I like Manhattan, I like the whole buzz around the U.S. Open. But the week before you don’t really want to be around that all the time, because you can get tired, you can start thinking about it too much, too early. So it’s nice to be here (in New Haven) and kind of just ease into it.”


  • On her recent Summer Olympics experience: “This was my second Olympics and it was a bit different than it was in Beijing. Because in Beijing you could stay at the Olympic Village and feel as part of a team, you really got that whole Olympic feeling because you’re eating with all the other athletes, the site was very close to the village so you just basically walk from and back. In London, it was a bit different because the Olympic Village was an hour and a half drive from the site, and we played at Wimbledon where the site was sold out but it wasn’t packed, and a lot of security around. It just wasn’t the same feeling. Hopefully in four years in Brazil we’ll be able to stay at the village and get that whole Olympic spirit.”


  • On what drives her competitively: “I’m just a competitive person, so no matter what I play, if I play cards with my family, or if I play Monopoly, or whatever, I hate losing. I can be so groggy if I lose. And if someone loses on purpose to let me win, I get even more upset. Just so competitive, but I think the whole family is, really, my brother, my mom, my dad, but especially my dad. He will do anything to win as well, so we get up into these small family fights!”


  • On balancing her competitive streak with her tournament winless streak: “You always want to win tournaments, that’s what you play for. But if you don’t, it’s not like the world is going to break down in front of you and you always have a next week. I always look at it in a positive way. So many people in the world are in a much worse position, I just enjoy what I do actually. That feeling you get after a win or a good point, that’s something that no one can take away from you.”

 Caroline Wozniacki WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.