July 29, 2015

Meusburger Wins First WTA Title, Coming on Home Soil



(July 21, 2013) Yvonne Meusburger won her first WTA title by defeating Andrea Hlavackova 7-5, 6-2 for the Bad Gastein crown. Meusburger did not lose a set all week on the way to becoming Bad Gastein’s first Austrian champion.

Meusburger is projected to better her career-high of No.60 when the new rankings come out on Monday.
Hlavackova was playing in her first WTA final, and had never been beyond a WTA quarterfinal prior to this week.


Serena Williams Wins Third Family Circle Cup


By Stephanie Neppl


(April 7, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – For the second year in a row, Serena Williams is queen of the green clay. In the first three-set final since Serena beat Vera Zvonareva in 2008, the world No. 1 came back from a set down to win her third title in Charleston 3-6 6-0 6-2 over Jelena Jankovic.


On a perfectly sunny Sunday, Williams and Jankovic took the court for the first clay court match since 2010, which the Serb won in a third set tie-breaker.


On Sunday, both women showed the crowd why their head to head was 5-4 and played a match full of great rallies and clay court sliding. Williams had several break points on both of Jankovic’s first two service games but failed to capitalize in a 10-minute game. The next game, Jankovic broke Williams at love and the momentum was firmly in her favor. She held, then broke again to take the first set 6-3.


Williams broke immediately at the start of set two and reeled off six games in a row to bagel her opponent for the first time in their 10 matches. Williams broke early again in the third and was able to break again and serve out the match to win her 49th career title.


Coming off a win in Miami and now Charleston, Williams said she never goes into a tournament expecting to lose.


” I just expect to do the best I can,” she said. “If that meant that I won, then that’s great and if it meant that I lost but I played a good match, then I have to learn to be okay with that.”


Before she heads onto the red clay, Williams said she was keen to go home for a bit and didn’t plan any celebration other than sleeping in her own bed. “The last three weeks have been intense. I don’t really celebrate so much anymore,” she said.


Williams’ win was her third title of 2013, and she is expected to hold on to the No. 1 ranking at least through May 6, according to the WTA.


Jankovic, who had been on a 10-match winning streak on clay and said she thought she’d had a great week. “I think I did a great job. I fought very well. I played some good tennis throughout the week, and you know, today playing Serena was great, too. It’s been a while since I played against her, so it’s always fun to play against a champion like her.”


The Serbian said there is a reason why Serena is the world’s top ranked player and said she felt she’d given her best on the court. “She is serving very well and she hits the ball harder than anyone else. Physically she is the strongest out there.”


The doubles title was won by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and Kristina Mladenovic who defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Liezel Huber 6‑3, 7‑6 (6).


Stephanie Neppl was covering the Family Circle Cup for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. She has worked as Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland’s ATP and WTA tournaments. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.


Q & A with Victoria Duval at the Sony Open


By Amy Fetherolf

(March 22, 2013) MIAMI – I sat down with Victoria Duval, a 17-year-old Haitian-American tennis player who caught the public’s attention when she played her first WTA Tour-level match on Arthur Ashe Stadium against the retiring Kim Clijsters at the 2012 US Open. In Miami, she earned her second tour-level win, upsetting Andrea Hlavackova in the first round before falling to Jelena Jankovic in the next round.

Amy Fetherolf: You were born here in Miami, and you’ve spent a lot of time training in South Florida. What has your experience been like, playing this tournament in such a familiar environment?

Victoria Duval: It was really incredible. The crowd was amazing, too. I had a lot of support, and family was here, so it was awesome.

AF: This was just your fifth WTA tour-level match. What’s the biggest challenge in making that jump to the next level?

VD: It’s a lot of experience, learning a lot of new things, getting a lot of confidence on the way, too. It’s just mostly learning for me right now.

AF: Which players have you looked to for inspiration?

VD: I looked up to Clijsters, and Venus. I’ve been actually in contact with [Venus] a little bit through email. She’s helping me, she’s really nice. That’s been really special.

AF: Do you have any particular goals you’re setting for yourself this year?

VD: Definitely being able to get into at least the qualifying of the Slams this year with my ranking, and making the most of the wild cards I get.

AF: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do as a tennis player so far in your career?

VD: Playing Clijsters on Ashe, for sure.

AF: Did you gain a lot of new fans from that experience?

VD: I had my stardom for two days. People were coming up to me for two days like, “Didn’t you play last night?” But that was really cool.

AF: What aspect of your game do you think you need to work on to get to the next level?

VD: Definitely my serve is a big liability right now. I’m going to be hitting thousands of serves as soon as I get back.

Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN). She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

Related article:

A New “Sunshine” – Victoria Duval



Serena Williams, Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond qualify for WTA Year End Championships

Serena Williams (photo from FamilyCircleCup.com)

NEW YORK, NY, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that Serena Williams and the doubles teams of Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond have qualified for 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.


“I would like to extend my congratulations to Serena, Andrea, Lucie, Liezel and Lisa on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Serena has had an incredible year, becoming the only player in history to achieve a golden career Grand Slam in both singles and doubles, and winning her 5th Wimbledon and 4th US Open titles. Serena’s love of the sport and relentless determination to win continues to inspire generations of tennis fans from around the world.”


“Andrea and Lucie’s outstanding play has seen them reach the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, in addition to winning a silver medal at the Olympics. It is a wonderful moment for them to qualify for their first WTA Championships. Liezel and Lisa continue to set the bar for dedication and commitment, capturing five titles and spending 20 weeks as co-No.1s on top of the WTA doubles rankings. It will be great to see them back in Istanbul to defend their title.”


Serena Williams


This season Williams has added more highlights to her resume, including winning two gold medals at the Olympics to achieve a career golden Grand Slam in singles and doubles, securing her 14th and 15th Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and surpassing sister Venus for the most titles won by an active player (45).


The 30-year-old has compiled a 53-4 record this season and a tour-leading six titles, bolstering her Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open victories with wins at the Family Circle Cup (Charleston), Mutua Madrid Open and Bank of the West Classic (Stanford). She is undefeated against Top 5 opponents this year (10-0), and with her tally of 15 wins, only one player can boast more defeats over World No.1 players (Navratilova, 18; equal with Davenport, 15).


Williams has qualified for the WTA Championships on nine occasions during her career, and is set to compete for the first time since 2009. The American is a two-time champion at the event – receiving a walkover in the 2001 final against Davenport, and defeating sister Venus in 2009 – in addition to reaching the final in 2002 (runner-up to Clijsters) and 2004 (runner-up to Sharapova in three sets).


Click on the link to hear Serena’s thoughts on her season and qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul: http://youtu.be/D-xgx4R9gvg


Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka


“It is such an unbelievable feeling to have qualified for the WTA Championships,” said Hradecka. “I watched the matches last year, and Petra Kvitova told us how amazing the tournament was, so we are really looking forward to it.”


“When we were planning our goals at the start of the year, our focus was really on the Olympics, but as the results started to come, we began to think it might be possible to qualify for Istanbul,” said Hlavackova. “It’s great that we’ll be playing indoors on a fast surface, and we’re going to have some fun and make the most of the week.”


The Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka has advanced to seven finals so far this season, winning titles at ASB Classic (Auckland), Memphis International, and Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati), in addition to finishing runners-up at Wimbledon, US Open and the Olympics.


First teaming together in 2008 they have collected eight titles, including last year’s Roland Garros, and in doing so became the first all-Czech pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles title since Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won Wimbledon in 1990. Both players will be making their WTA Championships debut, and will follow in the footsteps of Novotna/Sukova who were the last Czech team to contest the WTA Championships, also in 1990.


Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond


“One of our goals this year was to return to Istanbul and defend our title at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships,” said Huber. “Istanbul was a memorable experience last year and I am excited to be heading there again in October. The doubles competition there will be tough and I’m sure the fans will see some of the best tennis all year.”


“I’m thrilled to qualify for my twelfth WTA Championships and am looking forward to ending the year hopefully on a high note in Turkey!” said Raymond.


Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond are two of the WTA’s most decorated doubles players. This season they have reached eight finals and captured five titles: Open GDF SUEZ (Paris [Indoors]), Qatar Total Open (Doha), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and New Haven Open at Yale.


Between them, Huber and Raymond own 132 doubles titles, including 11 Grand Slams and 7 Championships, including last year in Istanbul. Huber has spent 199 weeks at the top of the WTA’s doubles rankings – behind only Navratilova’s 237 weeks – while at 39 years of age, Raymond is the oldest player ever to hold the WTA No.1 ranking in singles or doubles.


Huber will be making her sixth appearance at the year-end finale. The 36-year-old is a three-time winner of the WTA Championships, having won in 2007-08 with Cara Black, and last year with Raymond. This will be 39-year-old Raymond’s 12th journey to the event, having first qualified in 1994. Including last year’s victory, she has won the title four times; also in 2001 with Rennae Stubbs, and 2005-06 with Samantha Stosur.


These players join the already-qualified Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Five singles and one doubles spot remains open for this year’s player field.



Errani and Vinci Victorious – Capture US Open Doubles Title


FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci added to their major championship trophy case on Sunday with their win over Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-2 for the US Open women’s doubles title. Errani and Vinci won the French Open title in June.

The doubles partners and best friends who had to face each other in the singles quarterfinals, will be No. 1 and No. 2 in doubles when the rankings come out this week.

In addition to the doubles success, Errani became the first Italian woman in the Open Era to reach the semifinals of the US Open. She lost to Serena Williams.

Errani is currently ranked No. 10 in singles.


Serena Williams Nets Double Bagel to move into US Open Quarterfinals against Ivanovic


FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – To say that Serena Williams dominated her round of 16 match against Czech Andrea Hlavackova is putting it mildly. She destroyed her to the tune of a rare double bagel – 6-0, 6-0. It’s Williams’ fifth career double bagel, second at the US Open, her first was in 2003 against Babara Schett.

Williams had 31 winners to only 7 unforced errors.  Williams won twice as many points as Hlavackova 60- 29.

She was fighting really hard, Williams said.” You give people any type of chance, especially in tennis, the match is never over until you shake hands. There is always a comeback available. So I didn’t want to give her that opportunity ‑ or anyone that opportunity ‑ to try to come back, especially her in particular. She was getting so pumped up and she never gave up. I thought that was really incredibly positive.”

Through four matches, Williams has lost a mere 12 games.

“I don’t think it says anything,” said Williams. “I just think it just says I’m focused. I take that back. It says I’m focused, but it just says that I’m just trying like everyone else to be consistent at to do the best that I can.”

Williams will face Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals. She holds a 3-0 career record against the Serbian.

She’s playing well,” Williams said of Ivanovic. “Every time I play her in particular she plays really well. She goes for a lot of shots. She’s such a big hitter. Even though she’s really fit, she’s hitting so hard. She’s always playing so well. Obviously being No. 1, having that Grand Slam under your belt, she knows what it’s like to win.”


Serena Williams Captures Second Wimbledon Title of the Day – Doubles with sister Venus

WIMBLEDON – Five hours after winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title, Serena Williams was back on Centre Court with her sister Venus to collect a doubles title. The Williams sisters defeated the Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4 on Saturday night to take home their fifth Ladies’ doubles title and their first doubles title in two years.

“Oh, wow, it’s amazing,” said Venus Williams.  “I was definitely inspired by Serena’s single’s performance.  Obviously it’s wonderful to play on the court with her.  I couldn’t have done it without her, so it’s great.”

What the secret to never losing a doubles final together? “Serena and I both put so much pressure on our opponents with our serves, said Venus. “And our returns are also, you know, very good.

“I think maybe that has something to do with it.”

“It’s definitely more fun (than singles),” said Serena about playing with her sister.  “At the same time, the last thing I want to do is let Venus down.  In singles it’s okay if I let myself down, but I don’t want to let her down.

“Sometimes it’s almost a little bit tougher because you put so much pressure on yourself, so…”

Both women have been battling illness over the past year – Serena recovering from an embolism since last year and Venus coping with an auto-immune disorder.

“She hasn’t had an easy road,” Venus commenting on Serena’s comeback and watching her play in the final.  “You know, things have happened in her life that you can’t predict or control, so it’s hard to be in that situation.  You know, things happen, that you didn’t deserve.

“For her to fight through that and come back and be a champion, and not only that, but to have made the finals of the US Open, reached the top five, all these achievements that she’s done, you know, I don’t think anyone else can do is just amazing.

“It was definitely emotional.  I was so nervous.  I felt like I was trying to play the match, too.  I couldn’t.  You never miss in the stands.

“But she played amazing.”

“She’s such a fighter, you never say die.  I think positivity really brought her a long way in that.  I don’t think either of us believe that we can be defeated by anything.  Nothing has defeated us yet, so we’re going to keep that track record.

“For me it’s been definitely a journey.  I’m sure it still will be.  But I’m definitely very inspired by her and everything that she’s done.  Like I said, we’re not into the whole getting defeated thing; we’re into the conquering thing.

“For me, I want to try to do the same thing she’s done.”