Confident Venus Williams Advances at Sony Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Li Na Nike

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

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

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

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

Vavara Lepchenko

Vavara Lepchenko

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

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

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

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

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


WTA Names Alisa Kleybanova as Comeback Player Of The Year and Simona Halep as Most Improved Player Of The Year

Alisa Kleybanova

Alisa Kleybanova

(November 21, 2013) The WTA has named Alisa Kleybanova Comeback Player Of The Year and Simona Halep as Most Improved Player Of The Year.

Alisa Kleybanova overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma to make it back to the tour. The Russian had broken into the top 20 in 2011 and two months after missing tournament due to illness she announced on her birthday on July 15, 2011, her 22nd birthday, she announced that shehad been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I know things are always going to be up and down. I’m not expecting to win everything and come back to the Top 20 so quickly. But I’m ready for the journey,” Kleybanova said during the Fed Cup final. “I’m really happy to be back. I’ve been through enough tough things already. I’m feeling great physically now, I know what I need to work on, and I got my ranking up pretty quickly already this year.

“I just have to stay positive about things, have a nice off-season, train hard, stay healthy, stay away from injuries, and just have a good preparation over the next weeks to get ready for the new season.

“And after that, I hope to play the 2014 season from the first month to the last month.”


After Serena Williams, 22-year-old Simona Halep won the most tournaments in 2013 – six. She was a former No. 1 junior player.

The Romanian went 43-8 in her last tournaments of the year, winning her first six WTA titles at Nürnberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia, and finishing No.11 for 2013.

“Hopefully I can play next year like I played this year and do well in Australia,” Halep said after winning the Tournament of Champions event in Sofia.

“But I don’t want to make any plans. I won a lot of titles this season, I played really well and it’s not going to be easy next season. I just want to enjoy my time on the WTA tour and to feel the pleasure in every moment on the court.”


Alisa Kleybanova Notches First Win at a Major Since Return from Cancer


(August 26, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s a win-win situation for Alisa Kleybanova. On Monday, the Russian who is playing her first major since the 2011 Australian Open battled past No 44 Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. In the spring of 2011 Kleybanova was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

“For me, it’s one of the first big tournaments I’ve played since a long break,” said the Russian.  “I’m just taking it step by step, enjoying it every day, trying to improve as much as I can, and, you know, play my best tennis.”

“She played very solidly from the beginning and fought her way back,” said Puig of her opponent’s play. “She’s been 20 in the world. It’s amazing to see all that she’s come back from. All credit to her.”

The Russian is slowing making progress to return to the place where she was – a top 20 player.

“It’s still hard for me to say how it’s going to be, you know, on the long run because I haven’t played so many matches yet.  It’s difficult to play your best from the beginning, you know.

“I’ve been training a lot.  I know I’m doing the right things.  I know I’m getting there.  But I still need a lot more matches, a lot more tournaments to be more consistent, you know, to feel better on the court, you know, to be able to manage the stress level out there.

“You know, everything is a little bit new for me right now, so I’m just trying to feel everything, you know, and try to deal with things as good as I can for the moment.  Just try to win every point and not think about which tournament I’m playing, you know, how important it is, all that stuff.”

“I hear a lot from people that I’m a big inspiration for them,” said Kleybanova. ” A lot of people now look up to me.  I mean, I think it’s great.  I don’t want to be like an example, but if I am, I think it’s very nice.”

“But if my story inspires people and, you know, it gives them more belief on things, it makes them feel stronger at some point, I mean, that’s great.  I think, you know, people always need someone to look up to, as I when I was young.  I was looking up to certain people in my life, setting up certain goals.  I think it’s great.”

For Puig, who had a lot spectators cheering for her during the match and who is very popular in her native Puerto Rico, said that the loss is just another learning experience. “It’s just one of these bumps in the road,” Puig said. “It’s not my last Grand Slam I’m going to play, so I have to look at it that way.

“I had a lot of fan support out there today, so I am just very grateful.”

Kleybanova is currently ranked No. 363 in the world and will play Jelena Jankovic in the second round.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Eugenie Bouchard – Part of Canada’s WTA Generation Next



Bouchard Presser 005-001By Brodie Elgin

(August 6, 2013) TORONTO -There has been a lot of noise about a rising generation of WTA stars, and with good reason. Some of the biggest rising names belong to large, English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom’s Laura Robson or the United States’ Sloane Stephens. With tennis returning to Canada at the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto, the national spotlight has turned to Eugenie Bouchard – just 19 years old, and already ranked No. 62 in the world.


While her opening round night match against recently returning Alisa Kleybanova on Canada’s largest tennis stage might be an anxious ask for an average 19 year old, it wasn’t Bouchard’s first time on Toronto’s centre court. In fact, the young Canadian is quickly becoming accustomed to the big stage after defeating Ana Ivanovic on arguably the most prestigious stage in tennis – Wimbledon’s centre court. “Wimbledon is the biggest stage in tennis, so playing centre court there was extremely special. But of course I love playing at home in Canada in front of my fans, and I want to show how well I can play, so I was definitely a little bit nervous before this match.”


Alisa Kleybanova has just recently returned to main tour action after a stint with hodgkins lymphoma, and it was fantastic to see her on court. She won some excellent points and still possesses the power that helped her once reach top 20 in the world. “Obviously Alisa is a great player. I’m sure she will get back to being really good.” Despite Kleybanova only recently returning, Bouchard wasn’t sure what to expect and knew she needed to play aggressively. “I wasn’t too sure what to be prepared for, but I felt like I was ready for anything. I was able to play really solid today. I was happy.”

Bouchard bh

After a series of breaks in the first set, Bouchard calmed down and began to take control of the match, eventually winning 6-3, 6-1. “I think it’s been a while since I played a match where we broke each other so much in a row.” She showed excellent court awareness, and looked comfortable both absorbing Kleybanova’s power and keeping the ball deep. Bouchard is quick around the court and has always had good wrist strength to put excellent spin on the ball when necessary. However, her improved power in her flatter strokes held up well against a big hitter, and at times she counterpunched superbly. “She hits big shots, but I was still able to control the point… Even if she was hitting big, I was staying with her, so I could just easily go from defense to offense.”


She will need more of the same Wednesday night as she takes on one of the WTA’s biggest hitters and defending Rogers Cup champion Petra Kvitova. “Yeah, time to take the defending champ down,” she said, laughing. “She’s a great player. I’m just really excited I will play at home on centre court in front of the crowd. It’s always so fun for me.”


Overall, it was an excellent day for Canada as a combined eight Canadians advanced in both the Montreal and Toronto tournaments. With six men advancing in Montreal, this is the first time in 40 years that even five have advanced beyond the first round. Canadian Sharon Fichman also advanced, defeating fellow countrywoman Stephanie Dubois in a 2 hour and 49 minute marathon, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.


Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.


Kleybanova Battles Back From Cancer to Receive Sony Ericsson Open Wildcard

The 2012 Sony Ericsson Open has extended a main draw wildcard to WTA former World No. 20 Alisa Kleybanova.


The 22-year-old Russian was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphona in May 2011 and was forced to withdraw from the season’s remaining tournaments to undergo treatment. Before she was compelled to step away from the game, Kleybanova was a rising star on the WTA tour. She collected her first two career singles titles in 2010, and was off to a strong start in 2011 where she reached a career-high ranking of No. 20 in the world.


“We are pleased to extend a wildcard to Alisa,” said tournament director Adam Barrett. “She has shown tremendous perseverance and determination to return to the court and I know that her story can be an inspiration to others.”


Kleybanova has completed all of her tests and has begun training for her return to the tour. The Sony Ericsson Open will mark her 2012 debut.


“I finished my treatments in December and a couple of weeks ago I did my last tests in Italy,” said Kleybanova. “The treatments were successful, my doctors are happy with my health and I’m feeling great!”


The tournament awarded several wildcard entries last week; including seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams; Chilean Fernando Gonzalez who will retire after the tournament; and former World No. 6 David Nalbandian.


The women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 20, while the men’s main draw kicks off the following day on Wednesday, March 21. The qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, March 19 and 20.




Tennis News Net Notes Podcast for February 28, 2012

A brief look at the news headlines of the day in the tennis world.


Tennis News Net Notes for December 28, 2011

Former tennis player Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain arrives with her husband Jose Santacana to attend the Laureus World Sports Awards in Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mosab Omar (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)


A day after Spain named their new Davis Cup captain, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario has been chosen as captain of Spain’s Fed Cup team. As a player, this former No. 1 led her team to five Fed Cup titles in the 1990’s.

Sanchez-Vicario was signed to a two-year deal. Her first test as captain will come the weekend of February 4-5 when Spain will take on Russia in the first round of 2012 Fed Cup World Group play.

Alex Corretja was formerly announced as Spain’s new Davis Cup captain in a news conference on Wednesday. He told the media that he has not given up hope that Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer will play in 2012.

“No one has told me they are not going to play,” said Corretja.

“It’s another thing what they have said in the press. I want to hear everyone’s opinions and their motives, and if there are players that feel they need to rest I will respect that and try to select the best team for each round.

Novak Djokovic was named by members of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) as male athlete of the year. Petra Kvitova came fourth place for best female athlete.


James Blake

James Blake has withdrawn from the Australian Open. Tournament director Craig Tiley made the announcement in a Twitter post Wednesday -”Just got word that James Blake has withdrawn from the AO and Brisbane. Sorry to hear this and we wish James all the best.”


Earlier the Courier Mail newspaper noted that Blake pulled out of the Brisbane International  tournament for “personal reasons.”



Alex Bogomolov Jr.

Aleksei Danichev of Russia‘s RIA Novosti reports that United States Tennis Association has billed the Russian Tennis Federation $75,000 to compensate for their investment in Alex Bogomolov, Jr., who switched his country representation from the United States to Russia.  He was born in Moscow, but spent his formative years ub the US tennis system.


He changed countries after being approved by the International Tennis Federation.


“The American side did in fact issue us with an invoice for $75,000,” said Alexei Selivanenko, vice president of the Russian Tennis Federation. “This is the amount that was spent by their federations on Bogomolov all these years.”

“There’s no problem with the actual figure [of $75,000],” Selivanenko said. “It’s quite objective. … But we consider that everything should be decided on a larger scale that is fair towards all federations that have invested money, even 30 years ago, in developing players”


Tennis Channel
journalist Cari Champion updated the progress of Alisa Kleybanova on her twitter account -  “has finished her chemo/radiation therapy and hopes to head to Florida in February to start practice & begin her If all goes well her coach think she could play warm ups to FO and FO. But they both know its long road ahead with many IF’s involved.“

Kleybanova is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.


New Zealand’s Sacha Jones returns a shot to South Korea’s Kim So-jung during their Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group I and II tennis match in Kuala Lumpur February 3, 2010. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)


New Zealand Herald reports that New Zealand’s No. 2 ranked player Sacha Jones has decided to switch her nationality to Australian.

Tennis New Zealnad chief executive Steve Johns confirmed the switch. “About two weeks ago she came and told us that she’d been talking with Tennis Australia and she was looking to change to play for Australia. It was totally out of the blue. We were very surprised, a bit shocked, disappointed – all those emotions.

“But we quickly realized that she’s a professional athlete and, yes, while we’d like New Zealand to feature in her plans, at the end of the day she’s looking after the best interests of her career.

“She believes – and rightly so – that she can get better assistance playing under the Australian flag.”

Jones’ world ranking of 274 will see her become the tenth-ranked women’s player in Australia – a country with a deep pool of talent in which the 21-year-old will now be a small fish.

“She’s in a reasonably unique position in that she does have duel citizenship, so it’s easier for her to make the switch.”

Jones’ father is from Ausralia. She is currently ranked 274th in the world.

Jones is scheduled to play the ASB Classic in Auckland where she has wildcard.


American Donald Young has also pulled out of the Brisbane event.



Heather Watson

Great Britain’s Heather Watson announced on her Facebook page that she has withdrwn from the Auckland tournament:

“Unfortunately i will not be playing in Auckland, because i sprained my ankle badly. It’s very frustrating, but Auckland is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and I’m looking forward to playing it next year because i love the event. Hobart will now be my first tournament of the year.“


Alisa Kleybanova Has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Alisa Kleybanova of Russia celebrates her victory against Shahar Peer of Israel during their Madrid Open tennis match May 2, 2011. REUTERS/Juan Medina (SPAIN – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)


Tennis Channel reporter Cari Champion reported on twitter that Alisa Kleybanova has Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Tennis Channel will be airing the interview on Friday evening.

On the WTA website world No.28 Kleybanova, who celebrated her 22nd birthday today had a message for fans:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hello everyone :)

It’s my birthday today and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful messages. I haven’t written anything for a long time about why I haven’t been on tour, so that’s why I’m writing this today.

It’s not an easy time for me right now. I’ve been a bit unlucky with my health. I have Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer. I’ve been having treatment in Italy and it has been going well, but it takes lots of patience and I’ve had to be really strong to go through this. The good news is after I do treatment for a few more months, if I feel well, there’s a chance I’ll be able to play tennis again. I really miss playing – I miss seeing fans and friends around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years.

There are a few reasons I’m undergoing treatment in Italy. First, I have a training base and many close friends here, so it’s like home. Second, they have a really great hospital here that specializes in this problem; I’ve been going there since the problem started, so the doctors know me well. It’s the best place for me to be – the surroundings help me stay strong.

I am a strong person. I’ve shown it before. Obviously this is different than anything I’ve ever experienced, but after this is over my life will be even better than before. This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life. I’m sure I’ll be able to overcome this – it’s just a matter of patience and time.

When this is over, everything will be even better than before.

Of course, even though I’m in treatment, I hope I’ll have a fun birthday today :) I’m really happy I have the best and most important people with me here today. My family and best friends are all here. They’re here all of these days and weeks helping me get through this.

Anyway, I wanted to write to you all because it has been a long time… I won’t be on tour for a little while, but I will see you all again soon :)