2014/11/26

Riske Wins Tianjin for First WTA Title

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

(October 12, 2014) Sixth seeded Alison Riske defeated third seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Tianjin Open on Sunday for her first WTA Tour title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me to win my first WTA title, and I was here by myself, which made it even more special, just to know that I was able to do it by myself,” said the American Riske. “I hope I can keep up the momentum and try to compete every week as best as I can. Obviously there was a little momentum change in the second set. But that was because Belinda upped her level at that point. She’s been playing so well this year and has a really bright future ahead of her. I knew coming into the match that it would be a battle and it really was.”
Benic, the 17-year-old Swiss, playing in her first final, was trying to become the youngest woman to win a tournament since 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won the Portoroz title in 2006.

 

Riske is now the fifth American to win a WTA title in 2014, joining  Serena Williams  Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe.

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“My Rhythm Was Really Off,” Ivanovic Upset at US Open

Ana Ivanovic with media 08092012

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Former No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic lost control of her serve and her groundstrokes to suffer a second round defeat at the US Open on Thursday to No. 42 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

The Serbian hit seven double-faults along with 29 unforced errors in the 7-5, 6-4 loss.

“I had great leadups to every Grand Slam,” said Ivanovic. “I played a lot of matches and won lot of matches. And big matches, as well. At the Grand Slams I just haven’t performed that well. It’s something that I’m definitely going to work on and see where I can improve, because that’s definitely, you know, big aim for me for next season.”

“It was very tough out there for me today,” she said of the loss. “I really struggled to find my rhythm and made way too many unforced errors. Yeah, it was just really bad day. She served well, and she played good at important points, but I think I just did not play as well as I did.”

Ivanovic gave credit to her opponent: “She served very well. I also thought she actually moved quite well considering her height. She had a good reach. She does hit the ball quite flat. You know, she played well in important points and made some good shots.”

“My rhythm was really off,” said the 8th seed.. And, yeah, my forehand wasn’t working at all. I made quite a lot of unforced errors from that side and I couldn’t rely on it. I felt like I was not pushing her out wide enough and I was not opening the court, because I wasn’t confident enough. It was a little bit gusty out there. But like I said, I really feel like I was not pushing her enough.”

Pliskova moves into the third round and will face 29th seed Casey Dellacqua.

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A Confident Ivanovic Rolls Past Riske in First Round of US Open

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(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 8 seed Ana Ivanovic made quick work of American Alison Riske on Tuesday in her opening match at the US Open with a 6-3, 6-0 win.

For the Serbian, it’s her 48th win this year, most on the WTA tour.

“It was very tough first-round match,” Ivanovic said. “We had a tough one in Auckland. I knew that coming into today’s match. She had a good run last week, so I really tried to start sharp and tried to play my game to put pressure on her. It took a little bit to adjust. The game was very heavy conditions out there today. I was very pleased, especially the way I finished the second set.”

After reaching No. 1 in 2008, the 26-year-old’s level fell off over the next few years. She’s returned to the top 10 for the first time in five years.

“The confidence is on a high level,” said Ivanovic. “I had a great season behind me. Still I work hard for each match, and I do that because I love it. It’s the same. I don’t want to take anything for granted. I really enjoy being here. You know, like in Paris, as well I had a great leadup and quite a disappointing loss. But, you know, it’s a new tournament, new situation. I really want to enjoy each match.”

The 24-year-old Riske made a splash at last year’s US. Open, making the fourth round after shocking Petra Kvitova.

Ivanovic reflected on what she would do if she reached the heights of No. 1 again: “if that happens, I think for sure I’ll handle it differently. I have more experience myself. I have also good people around me. I was lucky. I have always had very positive people and greet support from my family. That’s something I still have. At the end of the day that’s what matters the most. You know, you have people to go back to.”

“It was greatest moment of my life achieving that, especially I was only 20 at the time. In a way I maybe took it a little bit for granted, because I was always improving, I was always having better and better results. That was kind of natural progression. And once I achieved that, it was very hard to handle all the attention because I was very shy at the time. Like I was speaking before, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, you know. I was very introverted. I like to spend my time with the books. That’s who I was. All of a sudden, there was so many requests and so many other things that came with it. No one prepared me for that. Obviously it took me some time to get used to that and to actually embrace it and enjoy it. That’s why only since few years I started loving New York, because that’s about that. It’s about emotions, crowds, and embracing that moment.”

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Maria Sharapova Dominates in Third Round Victory

 

(June 28, 2014) WIMBLEDON – The second match under the comforts of the roof of Centre Court at Wimbledon on Saturday featured No. 5 Maria Sharapova against American Alison Riske as rain continued to fall keeping the outer courts inactive.

The feisty Riske jumped off to a 2-0 lead, breaking her Russian opponent in the second game. Serving at 3-2, Riske could not close on game point chance and she double-faulted on break point give the break back to Sharapova.

“On grass things happen much quicker than maybe on other surfaces, Sharapova said.  “You find yourself down a break.  She served extremely well in the beginning.  Didn’t read her serve.

“As I started getting more balls back, getting myself back in position, I felt like she had to go for a little bit more on her first serve and had a little more pressure, whereas in the beginning of the set she got a lot of free points.  That automatically gives her a lot of confidence when she steps on the line.

“Those are the types of things you try to impose on your opponent if you’re not feeling that energy, or maybe a step too slow to the ball.  It’s a few little things that make the big difference in the end.”

From that point onward it was all Sharapova, who won the last 11 straight games to complete the win in 69 minutes 6-3, 6-0.

She’ll face Angelique Kerber in the round of 16.

 

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Victoria Duval Joins Pack of Young U.S. Women into Second Round of Wimbledon

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Victoria Duval photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

(June 24, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 114 Victoria Duval came through Wimbledon qualifying with a back injury last week. This week she’s taken out 29th seed Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of Wimbledon. Born in Miami, the 18-year-old of Haitian heritage, playing Wimbledon for the first time, joined a group of young American women making their All England Club debut including Madison Keys and Alison Riske advancing to second round.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

She announced herself last year when she took out 2011 U.S. Open Champion Sam Stosur in the first round of the U.S. Open. ” That was one of my best playing days that I can remember,” said Duval.

“I have my expectations of myself,” Duval said. “I’m not thinking about following up a win. I’m just thinking about winning all the time.”

She said it was “pretty crazy” to think she was actually playing at Wimbledon and that it did not sink in until during the third set.

Duval had reached the the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Juniors back in 2011.

Madison Keys, 19, who won her first WTA title three days ago in Eastbourne, finally got in the win column against Monica Puig, defeating the woman from Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-3.

“She’s a great player and we’ve played a couple of times,” Keys said.  “She’s beaten me a couple of times.

“But I was really just trying to go in and just stick to my game plan, not really worry about who is on the other side of the net.”

Alison Riske joined the USA party by upsetting 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

Missing out on the winning experience was wild card Taylor Townsend who fell to 31st seed Klara Koukalova 7-5, 6-2

“Definitely it was a great experience,” Townsend said despite the loss.  “I’m really glad that I was able to get the wildcard and be here, first and foremost.

“I definitely am not pleased about my match, but it’s just a learning experience really.  I’m just going to take what I’ve learned over the past two slams.  I’m going to go back home.  I’m going to work extremely hard and get ready for the US Open Series.

“I have tons of tournaments to look forward to and a lot of great things are ahead, but it’s time to just put my head down and work again.”

“There are a lot of things I still need to work on in my game,” said Duval. Improving mentally, physically and getting stronger.”

Duval will face an opponent younger than herself in Belinda Bencic.

“I’m looking forward to it, it should be very exciting,” said an enthusiastic Duval.

“My goal is to win a couple of more rounds,” she said. “You come into a tournament hoping to win it.”

“My goal was top 100,” which she has reached by virtue of her win on Tuesday. “Keep improving keep winning.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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296th Ranked Qualifier Victoria Duval Upends 2011 US . Open Winner Sam Stosur

Clock Strikes Midnight for Cinderella Victoria Duval

 

 

 

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Knapp Sacks Riske: Italy Advances in Fed Cup Over USA

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By Steve Fogleman

(February 9, 2014) Karin Knapp followed up on her win over Christina McHale yesterday with a clinching 6-3, 7-5 victory today over Alison Riske in the first round of the 2014 Fed Cup season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Italians defeated the American team in all three live rubbers.

Knapp did had some trouble closing it out over Riske, who was a last-minute replacement for Madison Keys in an effort by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez to get some momentum for the US. Riske acquitted herself well. She elevated her game in the second set, and after drawing even with the Italian, she was broken at 5-5 in the next game. Knapp served it out from here.

Overall, the match was more competitive than it might appear.

“It’s not easy because she came back. I got a little bit nervous. I got a little bit of emotion.”

Knapp told the press that the team made a pact to jump in the Cleveland snow if they won the tie.

“After this, we will all put the jacket on, the scarf on and we will jump in the snow!”, she said.

No word on when and where that photo opportunity will occur, but the snowy tundra of Cleveland Public Square is conveniently located between the venue and the Fed Cup hotel.

The snow didn’t stop the crowd from arriving to cheer on the US team, but it did slow them down. There were many empty seats at the start of the tie, but the fans filled in to create a boisterous cheering section by the beginning of the second set. The Public Auditorium was noticeably louder than yesterday.

Riske

Riske

Riske had a “big group of people from Pittsburgh” to join her for the event. She called the tie “an unbelievable experience” and noted the “awesome” support from the fans.

She’ll be in training in the two weeks leading up to Indian Wells.

Madison Keys and Lauren Davis won the inconsequential doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Italy will advance to the quarterfinals, while the US will be attempting to simply avoid relegation from the World Group in their next outing.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

Related article:

Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland

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Italy Sweeps USA on Day 1 of Fed Cup to Take 2-0 Lead

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By Steve Fogleman

(February 8, 2014) CLEVELAND – Team Italy blanked the USA on Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 2-0 lead in Fed Cup first round action.

Christina McHale played a horrendous first set, ceding second serves to Karin Knapp. Knapp’s powerful backhand threatened to make the match a runaway for the Italian. McHale settled down in the second and broke twice to level the score at 6-4.

The ultimate result was a big bang for Italy with a victory by Karin Knapp in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. McHale ran her Fed Cup career record to 5-3 with the loss.

After the match, McHale admitted that “by giving her that lead she really relaxed and started playing much better.”

The Italian team was especially loud and supportive. Karin Knapp acknowledged that she feeds off of them and predicted that they would feed off of her win.

“We are not a lot, but we are loud. They helped me”, she said.  “They gave me confidence”.

“If I get the point, maybe Camila goes on the court a little relaxed.”

Maybe you’re right, Karin Knapp.

As predicted by Knapp, Camila Giorgi did come out relaxed…and focused.

Giorgi thrashed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-1, notching a victory for the Italian in her first Fed Cup rubber. Keys seemed to be confused and having one of those days, and she was unable to hold serve on a regular basis.

Giorgi said it did help her composure knowing that her nation was already on the board before she hit her first ball in a Fed Cup.

Keys summed it up best. “She was playing amazingly. I can only control so many things. Great job to her today”, she said.

The Americans are now in danger of losing a fourth straight tie to the Italian team dating back ten years. They’re 0-10 in ties where they’ve started with a pair of singles losses.

But US Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has every reason to believe that this team, at least on paper, should have a realistic shot at pulling a sweep of their own tomorrow. I agree.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

 

Video Bonus:
Fed Cup Cleveland: Better Than the Winter Olympics

 

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Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland

.@RISKE4REWARDS: Close to Home, But Still Not Messin’ Around With Those Cleveland Browns
By Steve Fogleman

(February 7, 2014) CLEVELAND – Alison Riske grew up in Pittsburgh, a mere two hours from Cleveland, but this week marks the first time the 23-year-old has ever been to this nearly-neighboring fair city.

As a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Riske is jovial and simultaneously serious about her love of the Steelers spoiling her desire to camp out in Cleveland.

“Never came. It is Browns territory, so I’m like ‘I’m not setting foot over there’.

I wouldn’t want to come to Cleveland for any other occasion than Fed Cup.”

browns

The World No. 46 admitted this without hesitation when I caught up with her outside of the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott at Key Center on the eve of her maiden Fed Cup voyage as a player.

Riske was a designated hitting partner six years ago as a 17-year-old at the US Fed Cup tie in Moscow and appreciated the experience.

“I got my feet wet. I think that was the whole point of being a ‘Future Fed Cupper’.

US Fed Cup Team 2014 Cleveland

Riske joins Cleveland native Lauren Davis in the fifth and final rubber on Sunday in doubles against Alice Matteucci and Nastassja Burnett. It could be crucial.

Fed Cup Doubles: Alison Riske, Lauren Davis, Nastassja Burnett, Alice Matteucci

Though she can cross ‘Fed Cup’ off of the old Bucket List for now, she says she’ll gladly come back and play singles anytime.

FUN FACT: Riske is the only regarded WTA player who lists Washington, DC as her address. But she’ll be filling out a change of address form sometime soon.

She’ll head to Toronto to rejoin her coach, Yves Boulais, who she followed to the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland a year ago. She will train full-time in Canada. Boulais left Maryland and returned to College Park late last year. She credits him for much of her success.

“I feel like my game has transformed into something I can build on. It’s really exciting and I think the best is yet to come.”

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

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Draw Set for US-Italy Fed Cup in Cleveland

Draws and Results for Fed Cup for February 7, 2014

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Draw Set for US-Italy Fed Cup in Cleveland

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By Steve Fogleman

(February 7, 2014) CLEVELAND – The US and Italian Fed Cup Team match ups are all set in Cleveland, having been determined during an afternoon draw ceremony on Friday at a downtown hotel two blocks from the site of the tie the Public Auditorium.

The second-highest ranked American on the team, Christina McHale, will open against top Italian Team player Karin Knapp at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, followed by Madison Keys and Camila Giorgi.

On Sunday, Keys and Knapp will meet at 12:00 p.m., followed by McHale and Giorgi.

Alison Riske and Lauren Davis were enlisted for doubles, and they will square off on Sunday against Nastassja Burnett and Alice Mateucci in the fifth rubber.

At the post-draw press conference, the members of the American team expressed elation at having been chosen to participate on behalf of the US. Only one of the players—McHale—has previously represented her country in Fed Cup play and she was designated a captain for her experience.

“Whether I play or not, it’s great to be here”, said Alison Riske.

Mary Jo Fernandez spoke out in support of her designation of McHale as the leader of the team.

“It’s a different experience playing for your country. Christina has been there before. She knows what’s coming her way.”

McHale’s past participation aside, this group is Generation Next. The Americans hope to end an 0-3 slump to the Italians, after beating the Azzuri nine times in a row between 1963-2003.

 

DAY/LOCAL TIME      MATCH             PAIRING

Saturday, 1:00 p.m.          Singles A:         Christina McHale (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)

Singles B:         Madison Keys (USA)  vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Sunday, 12:00 p.m.           Singles C:         Madison Keys (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)

Singles D:        Christina McHale (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Doubles: Lauren Davis/Alison Riske (USA) vs. Nastassja Burnett/Alice Matteucci(ITA)

 

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US Hopes Youth Will Triumph When They Face Italy in Fed Cup this Weekend

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(February 5, 2014) The USA will face Italy for the fourth time in the last six years when both teams meet again in Cleveland this weekend in Fed Cup quarterfinal play.

Neither team will have its “A” team so youth will be served, especially for Team USA. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez named the team last month – Madison Keys (18), Alison Riske (23), Christina McHale (21) and Cleveland native Lauren Davi (20).

“It’s exciting to have young members, new members on the team, said Captain Fernandez to media on Wednesday in a pre-draw news conference.  “Christina (McHale) is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?

“And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23.  So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it’s your first time.  You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses.  I don’t really see any negatives.  Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
“I think that’s a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it.  For me’s really it’s all positive.”

“I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they’re big hitters,” said Fernandez. “They hit the ball hard and they’re aggressive.  Good indoors.  Probably one of their favorite surfaces.”

Team Italy who will be sporting a team of mostly first-timers are up to the challenge.

“I think will be a tough match, very talented match,” said Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti.  “They are young team against, so we come here to try hard to win this match and we know that will be difficult.”
“I think it’s pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it,” Fernandez said of the US squad.  “This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
“When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100.  I believe we’re at 11 or 12 now.  So everybody is improving and pushing each other.  We’re seeing the results.
“We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it’s very positive.  It’s extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.

As the lone member of the Fed Cup team with any Fed Cup experience, Christina McHale offer some advice to her teammates:

“I’ve had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I’m really excited to be back on the team.
“I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
“I mean, I think just, you know, it’s such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do.  I think that’s the best advice.”

Italy beat the US in the first round of Fed Cup last year. Overall, the US has a 9-3 record versus Italy in Fed Cup play. The US has the record for the most Fed Cup titles at 17, while last year’s winners Italy have now won the cup four out of the past eight years.

 

 

 

 

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