2014/09/16

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.

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

kleybanova

(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

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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.

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