2014/09/20

WTA Event Enters Its Fourth Year at Citi Open

Alison Riske at  Kid's clinic at Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Alison Riske at Kid’s clinic at Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 28, 2014) Now in its fourth year, the WTA Citi Open event in Washington is hosting one of its most impressive fields to date, even with the withdrawal of tournament favorite Eugenie Bouchard. Now seeded at No.1, Lucie Safarova leads an exciting field of 32 women including some top European hard-courters as well as American up-and-comers.

 

For the last two years running, it has been Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova who has capitalized on a line-up that has been improving from scratch since Washington began hosting the WTA International event in 2011. The world No. 37 is undefeated across ten straight matches at the tournament, and has defeated the top seed both years – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 2012, and Angelique Kerber in 2013. Russian Pavlyuchenkova was ranked 28 at the time, while this year all eight top seeds are within the WTA’s top 29. Rybarikova did not play the Citi Open’s inaugural tournament in 2011, when world No.24 at the time, Shahar Peer, reached the final as No.1 seed, losing to second-seeded Nadia Petrova.

 

While Rybarikova is back in 2014 to attempt to prolong her dynasty at the Citi Open, Bouchard, Peer, Petrova, Kerber and her opponent in the 2013 final, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, are prominent names missing from this year’s player field. The impact of their absences on the tournament, however, will be heavily reduced by the fact of the players that ARE attending.

 

Sloane Stephens leads the camp of exciting ‘new-wave’ of WTA players that will be in attendance this year. The world No. 22 – known for being much more solid at majors than she is across the WTA Premier and International calendar year – first entered the Citi Open in 2011, when she was 18 years old and ranked outside the top 120, losing in the first round. The following year, ranked just inside the top 50, she would reach the Washington semi-finals, losing to the eventual champ Rybarikova. In 2013, as a top 20 player, she would lose in the first round once again. It would seem apparent, therefore, that she’s due for another enduring showing at the Citi Open this year.

 

Although Bouchard has withdrawn from the 2014 tournament as the top seed, citing a knee injury, her results have been mixed since the Citi Open initiated their relationship with the Canadian in 2011 when they offered her a wildcard into her first main draw of a WTA event. In 2012 she lost a quarterfinal to Stephens, while last year – ranked No.62 in the world – she lost in the first round. Having reached at least the semi-finals of all three grand slams since then, Bouchard’s ranking has shot up to No.7 at the start of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series.

 

While the tournament has secured the first-time attendance of its high-profile Czech top seed Lucie Safarova, this only serves to augment the returned appearance of Romanian Sorana Cirstea, France’s Alize Cornet and American Madison Keys.

 

Cornet last year reached semi-finals on her first appearance at Citi Open. While the third seed will be vying for her fifth career WTA title, many Washingtonian tennis enthusiasts will have their eye on rising American talent, Madison Keys, who will be taking her career-high No.27 ranking into the Citi Open draw for her second appearance there. Despite retiring injured from her most recent match, a third-rounder at Wimbledon, Keys has been one of the big movers since clay season ended, going 8-2 on grass, and taking her first WTA title at Eastbourne along the way. Keys’ big serving game is a force to be reckoned with on hard courts, and has already ushered her to two WTA Tour semi-final appearances over the past year.

 

While unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova has managed to upset the field for the past two years straight, this year she faces a much tougher task if she’s to three-peat, considering the elevated level of play that will be coming off the racquets of top seeds with whom the Citi Open has been developing strong relationships over the past few years.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Andrea Petkovic Beats Shelby Rogers for Bad Gastein Crown

 

AndreaPetkovicCalrsbad3

(July 13, 2014) Andrea Petkovic won her second title of the year at the Gastein Ladies on Sunday. The 20th ranked German defeated Shelby Rogers of the United States 6-3, 6-3 to add to her Charleston title in April which was also on clay.

Surprise finalist 21-year-old Rogers, ranked at 147th had to come through qualifying, had precious never reached the second round of a WTA event before this week. She knovked out her first ever top 50 players this week in No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 40 Camila Giorgi and No. 14 Sara Errani en route to the final.

“It’s a super feeling, I am totally happy,” said Petkovic, who making strides to get back in the top 10 again, a feat she accomplished 3 years ago. “I want back into the top 10 and I am just playing good tennis. My serve and my footwork can still improve but I am playing well.”

Shelby Rogers photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Shelby Rogers photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

“I wanted this victory so badly,” Petkovic said. “I am very relieved. Shelby played very aggressive tennis. I didn’t know her game but I’ve done some research on YouTube.”

“Playing in a final there are always some nerves, but I was expecting that and expecting a tough opponent. I’ve never won two two tournaments in a year before and I’m obviously very happy to achieve this.”

“I had an incredible time,” said Rogers, who has won four tournaments on the ITF circuit. “This has definitely been a week I will never forget.”

“I’m definitely feeling the matches, I’ve played a lot this week,  but she played incredible and is always a tough competitor,” Rogers continued. “I’m still so happy with my whole week, though. I had such a great time here. The fans were amazing too. I had an incredible time here on and off the court.

“It was just an incredible experience this year in Bad Gastein.”

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Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic Reach French Open Semis

 

 

 

(June 4, 2014) Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep have both moved into their first-ever Grand Slam semifinal, both advancing with 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal victories at the French Open on Wednesday. The matches on the show courts had their starts delayed by rain.

The 28th seeded Petkovic from Germany defeated 10th seed Sara Errani, the losing finalist at the French Open in 2012. Halep, the fourth seed beat 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova the 27th seed.

“I have to say, today I was in a real zone. I didn’t think at all,” said an excited Petkovic. “I was just focused on what I had to do.”

“I had a very good game plan from my coach. It didn’t work in the beginning, so I was getting a little, not panicked, but when you have a certain game plan and you lose the first two games and it’s not working, so I was kind of getting a little worried,” Petkovic said. “I was lucky that I started playing better and that I was putting more balls into play.”

At one point last year when Petkovic lost in the French Open qualification tournament, she considered quitting tennis, now she’s in her first major semifinal.

The highest seed remaining in the women’s draw, No. 4 seed Halep held back Kuznetsova who had an injured left thigh and had to take a medical time out after the first set.

 

“I felt very good on court. It was a perfect day for me. I played really well and stuck to my gameplan,” Halep said to press. “I was very aggressive. I played very fast.
“So it was a good match, and I’m really happy that now I can play in the semifinals in Paris.”

Petkovic and Halep will face off for a spot in the French Open final, the winner playing the winner of the Maria Sharapova versus Eugenie Bouchard.

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Andrea Petkovic Wins Family Circle Cup

AndreaPetkovicCalrsbad3

(April 6, 2014) In a week full of surprises in Charleston, 14th seed Andrea Petkovic won the Family Circle Cup for her first WTA Premier level tournament title with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jana Cepelova of Slovakia on Sunday. This is her third WTA tournament crown, first in three years since she won the Strasbourg title in 2011.

Petkkovic knocked out three top ten seeds on the road to the title – No. 4 Sabine Lisicki, No. 9 Lucie Safarova and No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard.

The German who was once No. 9 in the world before being beset by injuries, is currently at No. 40 in the world will move into the top thirty with the victory.

No. 78 Cepelova beat No. 1 Serena Williams in the second round of the tournament. She’ll see her ranking rise into the top 50 for the first time.

At the end of the match Petkovic dropped on the ground in celebrations before she came to the net and hugged her opponent.

“I don’t know why but I just sort of broke down,” Petkovic said. “I was happy. Normally I don’t cry when I’m sad – I cry when I’m happy, strangely, so it’s weird, but I don’t know. I was just so relieved and proud that I’ve come back from all these injuries, and I never thought I would play in the finals of the big tournaments again, and so I was just proud and happy and everything just sort of came together.”

Petkovic takes home $120,000 for the win.

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Defending China Open Champ Victoria Azarenka Done in by Double Faults and Andrea Petkovic

VictoriaAzarenka10042012

(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Double faults and erratic play were the undoing of defending China Open champion and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka on Monday. She lost to Andrea Petkovic 6-4 2-6 6-4 in first round play in Beijing.

To go along with 15 double faults, Azarenka hit 44 unforced errors and appeared to still be suffering from the effects of an illness she had during last week’s Tokyo event where she lost in the second round.

“I don’t take the last week even as a tournament,” she continued.

“If I’m going to be doing it again, I probably should have taken a longer break and just prepare myself.  I don’t feel like I was ready to play ‑‑ there is no excuse ‑‑ to be 100%, but the preparation wasn’t there enough, so I cannot deny that.

“It’s just my mistakes for not paying much attention after the US Open how I managed my time and how I managed my health.  I mean, today’s match is today’s match.  I felt good.  I didn’t have any issues, but overall, that comes maybe.  There is no excuses.”

“It was an awful match and very bad performance from me, so not much to say,” Azarenka said.

“It happens once, twice a year to every player, and happened to me today.”

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic

Petkovic appeared ill in the second set when she had to take a medical time out. She lost seven games on the trot and the Belarusian evened up the match at a set all.

In the third set both women traded breaks but it was Azarenka’s 15th double fault coming on break point as she was serving in the ninth game which cost her the game. The German served out the match after that.

“I’m going to come back, reevaluate, practice more,” Azarenka said in response to the loss.  “I just needed more preparation, and that’s what I’m going to get now before the last tournament.”

 

 

CHINA OPEN
Beijing, China
September 28-October 6, 2013
Hard/Outdoors


Results – Monday, September 30, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(5) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (Q) Misaki Doi (JPN) 63 62
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 63 63

WTA Singles – First Round
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 64 26 64
(8) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 16 64 60
(14) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 76(9) 61
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 61 61
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 63 62
(Q) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 64 61
(Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Monica Puig (PUR) 61 64
(Q) Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) d. (Q) Sharon Fichman (CAN) 64 63
(WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 63 63

WTA Doubles – First Round
Lisicki/Medina Garrigues (GER/ESP) d. (5) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) 64 16 103 (Match TB)
(8) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) d. Date-Krumm/Scheepers (JPN/RSA) 63 63
Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) d. (WC) Williams/Williams (USA/USA) 67(3) 64 119 (Match TB)
Soler-Espinosa/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. (WC) Sun/Zhang (CHN/CHN) 76(4) 60
Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. (WC) Shvedova/Zhang (KAZ/CHN) 63 36 105 (Match TB)
Hantuchova/Raymond (SVK/USA) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 75 63
Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) d. Husarova/Kalashnikova (SVK/GEO) 62 63

ATP Singles – First Round
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) d [7] T Haas (GER) 76(6) 63
B Tomic (AUS) d [WC] Z Zhang (CHN) 76(4) 64
[Q] R Bautista Agut (ESP) d G Dimitrov (BUL) 64 62
F Fognini (ITA) d T Robredo (ESP) 75 46 63
P Kohlschreiber (GER) d A Montanes (ESP) 75 16 76(4)

ATP Doubles – First Round
[3] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) d [WC] Y Lu (TPE) / D Wu (CHN) 64 63

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Ivanovic and Petkovic Duel in Stuttgart

Ana Ivanovic

 

By Tumaini Carayol

 

(April 23, 2013) STUTGART – Despite what the order of play suggested, Monday evening marked the true beginning of the Porsche Grand Prix. As Andrea Petkovic and Ana Ivanovic marched the court, it was the first time the spectators filled the stadium to the absolute brim. The first time the sharp intake of one person’s breath was simultaneously mirrored by the rest of the grand stadium. And the first time that even the quietest mutter was met with a flurry of angry shushing noises.

 

It was understandably a highly-anticipated affair. On one side stood Andrea Petkovic who, despite her current ranking, has charmed the German crowds beyond repute since she rose to prominence during 2010 and 2011. Accompanying her was her Serbian friend who herself had enamored the entire tennis world and beyond five nostalgic springs ago.

 

Still, the result was never in doubt. In spite of a two-game interlude which saw Petkovic immediately seize a break to lead 2-1, suffocating the Ivanovic backhand with uncompromising depth before knelling the finishing blow off both sides, any positive play from Petkovic was merely a footnote in a match that was closer epitomized by the four errors in succession committed by the German from the very first point.

 

A smiling but disappointed Petkovic was quick to agree.

“I got a little overexcited and I was too aggressive,” she said. “I was going for the lines and I was missing everything a little. I didn’t really build up the points and Ana was consistent.”

 

Ivanovic once again dealt with her opponent superbly. In addition to serving at 73% and shutting the door on every possible entry back into the match for Petkovic, she was acutely aware of Petkovic’s struggles on high forehand and adjusted by ensuring that, whenever on the defensive, she simply looped the ball up to the German’s forehand and awaited the almost inevitable error.

 

The most noteworthy moment came at 6-3 4-1 to Ivanovic as Petkovic attempted to throw a spanner into the works with a successful net foray followed by an exquisite dropshot to force 15-30 on the Ivanovic serve. Two well-placed service winners and an ace later, Ivanovic had confidently held for 5-1, uncharacteristically dousing out the remaining fire in Petkovic with minimum hassle. That was to be Petkovic’s final stand. Five minutes afterwards, Ivanovic had closed her friend out and moved seamlessly into the second round.

 

For Petkovic, the loss brought immense frustration, but even in defeat she was still able to showcase her trademark sense of humor.

 

“I’m hopeful that everything will come together in the future and I’ll be as good as I was before. And if not, I’m going to shoot myself..I’m joking!”

 

Tumaini Carayol is in Stuttgart covering the Stuttgart tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.

 

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Checking in with the Germans at Family Circle Cup

 

By Stephanie Neppl

(April 3, 2013) CHARLESTON, SC – A talented German contingency is in Charleston for the 2013 Family Circle Cup, but it has been a mixed week for its top stars.

 

A year ago, four Germans were in the top 20: Andrea Petkovic (11), Sabine Lisicki (13), Julia Goerges (15) and Angelique Kerber (16). Mona Barthel was also on the upswing and was ranked No. 36. Fast forward a year, and Petkovic is out of the top 100 due to injury, Goerges and Lisicki have seen their form and rankings dip, and Kerber found herself the highest ranked German and cracked the top 5 in 2012.

 

Rankings – April 2, 2012                             Rankings – April 1, 2013

11 – Andrea Petkovic                                             6 – Angelique Kerber

13 – Sabine Lisicki                                                 29 – Mona Barthel

15 – Julia Goerges                                                 30 – Julia Goerges

16 – Angelique Kerber                                            41- Sabine Lisicki

36 – Mona Barthel                                                  139 – Andrea Petkovic

 

All but Kerber played in Charleston this week, with mixed results thus far. Barthel and Lisicki were upset early, while Goerges and Petkovic have each survived two rounds. Here’s a look at how the German quartet are looking at the start of the clay season.

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ANDREA PETKOVIC

In August 2011, Petkovic become the sixth German to ever crack the WTA Top 10 but injury after injury came her way in 2012 and she dealt with a lower back injury and ankle injury last year. Petkovic returned to the tour again in late 2012 at the Hopman Cup and suffered another injury, this time a rupture of the medial meniscus. She started on the comeback trail again at Indian Wells this year, and her ranking has dipped to No. 137 due to her many absences.

 

She was handed a wildcard for the Family Circle Cup, and she’s put it to good use with two wins, first over fellow wildcard Taylor Townsend of the US, and another over American Vania King. She next faces 2011 Family Circle Cup champ Caroline Wozniacki. The pair have faced each other three times, with the Dane leading 2-1, including a win on their only match on the clay.

 

Wozniacki said Petkovic is a dangerous opponent. “Petkovic is a good player.  She has been very unlucky with her injuries and she is obviously a player that does play on a very high level.” The two will kick off the day session at 11am Thursday.

Julia-Goerges-Tennis-Panorama-News-Carlsbad

JULIA GOERGES

Goerges’ two career titles are both on clay (Bad Gastein in 2010 and Stuttgart in 2011) but her 2012 season saw her go 5-5 on the dirt and she’ll be looking to improve that record. On Wednesday in Charleston, Goerges managed to come back after dropping a bagel set to Olga Govortsova to advance to the third round. She’ll next face Stephanie Voegele of Switzerland, who upset No. 7 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the second round. Goerges said she was pleased to get the win despite not playing her best. “It’s good when you get tested right away on the clay,” she said. “It’s good to have those wins under your belt and when you’re not always playing your best and winning it’s a good feeling.” Goerges and Voegele are second on Althea Gibson Court on Thursday.

 

Sabine Lisicki

Sabine Lisicki

SABINE LISICKI

Sabine Lisicki has also had her share of injuries and illness, and her ranking has dropped from #13 a year ago to its current No. 41. Lisicki made the final in Memphis in February, but retired from the match with illness after dropping the first set to Marina Erakovic of New Zealand. Lisicki loves the green clay of Charleston and it’s where she captured her biggest title back in 2009. In her first match on Tuesday, Lisicki double bageled Anna Tatishvili in just 41 minutes. Today she was a heavy favorite to beat Mallory Burdette of the US, who is ranked #99 but the Georgian pulled out the upset 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 to advance to a contest against Serena Williams.

 

Mona Barthel photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac

Mona Barthel photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac

MONA BARTHEL

Barthel is actually the lone member of the group to have a title in 2013 and the win in Paris is the biggest of her career. Barthel also finished runner-up in Hobart and she has had wins over top 10 players Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber and Marion Bartoli. She’s now the second highest ranked German, with a current ranking of No. 29. She faced the US’ Jessica Pegula in the second round on Tuesday, but the 8th seed was upset 7-6 (4), 6-1.

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Charleston 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 live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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New Haven Open Preview: Wozniacki’s Drive for Five is Alive

By Jack Cunniff

NEW HAVEN – For the fifteenth straight year, several of the top Women’s Tennis Association professionals will be at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven the week prior to the U.S. Open.  And defending New Haven Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark, hopes to be holding the winner’s trophy for the fifth straight time.  As always, the path to the title has a lot of obstacles, with eight of the Top Twenty ranked women entered in the draw.

When Wozniacki defended her title last year, she was holding seven other tournament titles and ranked No. 1 in the world.  Her form has dropped off in the last 12 months; she’s been unable to win a title since the 2011 New Haven Open.  As a result, her ranking has dropped to No. 8, and she’s seeded third.  But Wozniacki still has to be considered a title contender.  She holds a perfect 17-0 record at the event, and nine of those wins have come against opponents ranked in the Top Twenty.  Is that enough to snap a streak of twenty straight events that Wozniacki has lost? She will make history if she can win her fifth title; only three other women in tour history have won an event in five consecutive years, Chris Evert (Charleston), Steffi Graf (Hamburg), and Martina Navratilova (Wimbledon, Eastbourne, and Chicago).

The top seed at the 2012 New Haven Open is Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.  Radwanska had her best career result just a few weeks ago, reaching the finals of Wimbledon before losing to Serena Williams in three sets.  She’s improved her world ranking to No. 3 on the strength of five titles in the last 12 months, including three Premiere events (Miami, Tokyo, and Beijing).

The hottest player coming into this year’s event is Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.  She is the only woman who has reached the quarterfinals at each of the 2012 Grand Slam events.  More recently, she won the Canadian Open in Montreal last week, and reached the semifinals in Cincinnati this week.  But on the downside, that’s a lot of tennis for Kvitova, and she could be feeling the effects here.

Rounding out the Top Four seeds in New Haven is the Italian who made a surprise run to the French Open final a few months ago, Sara Errani.  Since moving off of clay courts, Errani has found things more difficult, winning only four matches on grass courts or hard courts since June.  She has been able to show winning form on hard courts earlier this year, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

In looking at title contenders, recent history in New Haven shows that you must look past the seeded players.  While the first nine New Haven finals did not feature an unseeded player, there has been an unseeded surprise finalist in four of the last five years.  Some names who could continue that trend in 2012 include Andrea Petkovic, Sloane Stephens, and Laura Robson.  Petkovic, the entertaining German player, reached No. 9 in the world last year, but has played only a few events this year because of injury.  New Haven marks her return to the tour after a four month absence.  Stephens, from the United States, has made her breakthrough this year reaching the fourth round of the French Open.  She is also the youngest player ranked in the Top 50, at age 19. Robson is even younger, at 18, and is coming off a silver medal win in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, where she partnered with Andy Murray in Mixed Doubles.

It’s a difficult field to handicap, but one thing is for sure: whoever is holding the trophy next Saturday will have a great chance of making a run at the U.S. Open title as well.  In the last fourteen years, the New Haven champion has reached at least the semifinals on ten occasions.

Around the Grounds – Saturday August 18th: Nicole Gibbs, the Stanford sophomore who swept the NCAA singles and doubles title this year, defeated her first Top 100 opponent Saturday, dispatching No. 77 Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain in the second round of qualifying… Melanie Oudin, the surprise 2009 U.S. pen quarterfinalist, continued her comeback by ousting Silvia Soler-Espinosa in three sets.  After her win, Oudin confirmed that she and Jack Sock would be attempting to defend their 2011 U.S. Open Mixed Doubles title… Andrea Petkovic isn’t the only player on the comeback trail at New Haven; 2007 runner-up Agnes Szavay of Hungary is playing in her first WTA main draw of 2012. Szavay also played in The London Summer Olympics this month as she returns from a career-threatening back injury.

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

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Petkovic helps to unveil refurbished McClain Park court ahead of participation in New Haven

WTA player Andrea Petkovic helped unveil refurbished tennis courts at McClain Park in New Haven ahead of the New Haven Open.

 

The refurbished courts are part of the Fresh Courts program, which was introduced in 2010 by American Express and the United States Tennis Association and designed to support local tennis in communities across the U.S.

 

Local dignitaries including Connecticut State Senators Martin Looney and Toni Harp and New Haven Aldermen Jorge Perez and Andrea Jackson-Brooks were on hand to unveil the courts as was former top-10 ranked WTA star Andrea Petkovic, who hosted a free clinic for local youth from the New Haven Boys’ and Girls’ Club. McClain Park was chosen for the renovations due in part to its close proximity to seven schools in and around the Hill Section of New Haven.

 

Truman School, which is across the street from McClain Park, has already partnered with the New Haven Open and Yale Athletics to create an after-school program called TEaM (Tennis, Education and Mentoring). The newly refurbished and age-appropriate courts at McClain will give these local youth a chance to practice tennis in between sessions at Yale’s Cullman-Heyman indoor courts.

 

“Today’s announcement is about more than tennis courts,” said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. “It is about providing safe and healthy opportunities and access to positive role models for our youth. Thank you to the New Haven Open for your longstanding commitment to New Haven both on and off the courts, and thank you to American Express for supporting this important effort.”

 

“We applaud American Express for investing in the refurbishing of McClain Park as part of its national Fresh Courts program to support tennis in local communities.” said Anne Worcester, New Haven Open Tournament Director. “Having Andrea Petkovic host a clinic for neighborhood youth is a great way to illustrate how these newly refurbished courts will transform the Hill Section and make possible all kinds of future tennis programs.”

 

Petkovic will be participating in next week’s New Haven Open, making a comeback to the courts after injuries derailed much of her 2012 season. In 2011, Petkovic was the only player to reach the quarterfinals of three of the four Grand Slams, achieving a career-high ranking of No. 9 in the world in October. She has not played a professional match since April due to her injuries, but will be on-court in New Haven to reclaim her spot in the top of the WTA.

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Serena Survives, Sharapova Beaten in Toronto

Serena Williams celebrates after winning her second round match 6-1, 7-6 over Germany’s Julia Goerges in Rogers Cup singles action at the Rexall Center in Toronto, Canada on August 10, 2011. UPI /Christine Chew

 

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – It was another drama filled day at the Rogers Cup. There were no  rain delays, but there were two separate power outages across the grounds, the first due to an Ontario Hydro problem, and the second due to the back-up generators being overworked.

Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as three grand slam champions on tap for the day session were ousted. First was 2011 French Open champion Na Li, upset by Samantha Stosur, and second was 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, eliminated by Andrea Petkovic.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Maria Sharapova‘s elimination from the tournament at the hands of qualifier Galina Voskoboeva. A combination of drop shots and  spinning slices from both wings kept Sharapova on the run and unable to play her preferred baseline heavy game.

For Voskoboeva, it was the culmination of hard work paying off over a fantastic week. “I’m happy, but it’s not like, you know, something that’s a miracle because I was working really hard.”

Voskoboeva has been working with retired former top 100 player Alina Jidkova, and she believes the relationship has paid dividends. “I’m happy that we are doing good together, because it doesn’t happen very often, like that you can find the person with who you feel confident, comfortable, and you can understand each other.”

The night session featured Serena Williams taking on Jie Zheng, in what was possibly the greatest match of the tournament. Williams dropped the first set to Zheng who relied on an aggressive second serve return to earn the break, standing as far in as half way between the baseline and service box. Combined with her quick, compact strokes she was able to absorb the pace of Williams strong groundstrokes and return the with interest, often creating difficult angles in the process. She only faced one break point in the set, which she saved, and took the first set 6-4.

From then on in, it was Williams’ chance to take control of the match, showing a burst of emotion and getting the crowd solely behind her. “It’s so awesome to have their support,” said Williams.  “It’s so cool when I’m out here and I hear them cheering for me. It totally helps, so I like it,” said Williams. Zheng’s level dropped, and Williams used her signature serve and forehand to take the next two sets and the match, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Another  key to the victory was her excellent movement in defense, which culminated in an incredible running forehand down the line passing shot which ended with Williams doing the splits. “Did you like those?” Williams laughed, “I have been working on them. Whenever I can, I try to get to do it. I love doing the splits on and off the court.”

In the last match of the day, Lucie Safarova continued the trend set earlier in the day, upsetting 2010 French Open champion and 8th seeded Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-3.

During the day’s outer court action, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Vera Zvonareva in a rematch of the Mercury Insurance Open final, Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and Roberta Vinci defeated Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic later retired from her doubles match part way through the first set due to pain in her left wrist.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.

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