November 25, 2015

Ana Konjuh Wins First WTA Title at Nottingham Open

NOTTINGHAM - ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Ana Konjuh of Croatia celebrates winning the Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Niculescu of Romania with the Elena Baltacha Trophy on day eight of the WTA Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 15, 2015 in Nottingham, England.  (Photo by Jon Buckle/Getty Images for LTA)

NOTTINGHAM – ENGLAND – JUNE 15: Ana Konjuh of Croatia celebrates winning the Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Niculescu of Romania with the Elena Baltacha Trophy on day eight of the WTA Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 15, 2015 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jon Buckle/Getty Images for LTA)

(June 15, 2015) Croatian teen Ana Konjuh won her first WTA tour title on Monday defeating Monica Niculescu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a rain-delayed Nottingham Open final.

For the 17-year-old, former winner of junior titles at both the Australian and U.S. Opens, it was her third match in two days after playing both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Sunday.

Konjuh, who is the only under-18 player in women’s top 100, broke Niculescu’s serve four times in the final two sets at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.


“It means a lot, especially because it’s the first year here,” the world No. 87 Konjuh said. “It feels great, I didn’t expect it. I came here two days before to acclimatize on grass, and after five matches I’ve won the tournament, so it feels great.


“The first set wasn’t going my way but I had to stay calm. I just knew that my game was going to come and I did it much better in the second set. I’m really glad to get that win today.”


“She’s an uncomfortable player, especially on grass with that many slices,” Konjuh said of her opponent. “It’s so frustrating. She had that experience and took the first set because I wasn’t ready for it.”


“I had a perfect week and I hope to see everyone next year.

“I will remember it. It’s going to hold a special place in my heart, this tournament.”


World No. 61 Niculescu said: “Maybe I was not at my best in the final, I was a bit tired. She was serving and hitting the ball very hard. My return was not great, I was struggling a little bit. I’m happy to be here because I had so many tough three-set matches and came straight from Marseille in the heat and had to come to a new surface. But I’m really happy about this week and I’m really positive. My ranking will be better after this final hopefully. Life goes on.

“I don’t want to take away from her title because she played amazing.


“She played well, she deserved it. She’s a young, up and coming player. To have a title at 17, it’s amazing. I see her going very far in the rankings. This is just the beginning for her.”


On Court 17 Youth is Served and Gets Served On Day 2 of the US Open Qualies


Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

(August 20, 2014) Court 17, played host to a combination of veterans, college players and juniors on day two of the US Open qualifying tournament on Wednesday.

The day led off with a three-set women’s battle between former world No. 29, Poland’s Urszula Radwanska and last year’s Australian and US Open junior champion, Ana Konjuh of Croatia.

The younger sister of Agniezska Radwanska rocketed to a 6-1 first set, but the 16-year old Konjuh rebounded in the second set which consisted of mostly service breaks between to the two women.

The match took a turn the youngster’s way when the Croatian jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start off the third set. Unforced errors, which Konjuh fell victim to throughout the match crept back into her game and Radwanska won six out of the next seven games to claim the set and the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Konjuh made 52 unforced errors in the match.

Second match on the fourth largest show court in Flushing Meadow saw 16-year-old junior Stefan Kozlov face off against former University of Virginia player Mitchell Frank. After a slow beginning from the two-time junior Grand Slam finalist, who lost the opening set 6-3, the match turned. Koslov took the next set 6-0. Frank had a medical time out for a trainer to work on his back. His movement appeared hampered and Koslov finished off his opponent by claiming the third set 6-2.

The third match on Court 17 saw former US Open quarterfinalist from 2009 and Mixed doubles champion from 2011, American Melanie Oudin play Sesil Karatantcheva, born in Bulgaria, but now representing Kazakhstan. The 22-year-old Oudin needed just 70 minutes to stop the 25-year-old, breaking her serve five times.

To round-up the evening, American junior 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe fell to No. 11 seed Tatsuma Ito in a two hour and 22 minute contest 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.

Related article:

A Q & A with No. 1 US Junior Tennis Player Stefan Kozlov


Serena Williams and Li Na Move into Australian Open Third Round


(January 15, 2014) Serena Williams upped her record at the Australian Open to 60-8, equaling 11-time winner Margaret Court’s 60 match wins in the Open Era at the Australian Open with a drubbing of Vesna Dolonc 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Williams put up 10 aces and 24 winners in the victory over the No. 104th player in the world under the 104F heat. The 17-time major winner wanted to make the match as short as possible.

“I think it was tough conditions out there,” Williams said.  “I think it keeps getting hotter.  Every day is really hot.

“So it wasn’t the plan, but it just so happened like that.”

“I thought about it, but it definitely was not in my game plan.  So it wasn’t really something that I was trying to do, is to go for winners.

“I just try to hit a bunch of aces and a bunch of winners – that’s all you can do because it’s too hot to get into long rallies,” she said.

Williams get the winner of Karolina Pliskova or Daniela Hantuchova next in the third round.

Fourth-seeded Li Na  took another teenager to school on Wednesday defeating 16-year-old Belinda Bencic, 6-0, 7-6(5). Li’s first-round win was over the youngest player in the tournament teen Ana Konjuh,

“She played exactly like Martina Hingis, I feel,” Li said.  “Yeah, it’s very tough to play a decent player I never see before, because I cannot get any information.

“When comes to the court, it’s like, Okay, is similar like first round.  It’s like, Okay.  Yeah, I think today she give me very tough time end of the second set.

“But I was really happy in the end I can use my experience to win the match.”

The almost 32-year-old Li yielded a mere 10 points in the 22 minute first set.

“I think in the first set it was quite a lesson, but in the second set I played better and I tried to be more aggressive,” Bencic said.

She’ll face No. 26 Lucie Safarova in the third round.

One upset on the women’s side so far on Wednesday – 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, the 15th seed fell to Monica Niculescu  2-6, 6-2, 6-2.