2014/12/21

Serena Williams Nets Third Stanford Title

 

(August 3, 2014) No. 1 Serena Williams claimed her fourth tournament title of 2014, beating No. 3 seed Angelique Kerber 7-6(1), 6-3 to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford on Sunday.

For Williams, it’s her third Stanford title.

Kerber had a 5-1 lead in the first set after taking five straight games and served for the set at 5-2. Williams served two set points and won five straight games herself, and ended the set by dominating the tiebreak.

“When I was down 5-1, I was just thinking I had to take it one point at a time,” said Williams. “I knew I just had to relax and not be so crazy. Up until that point I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, and what I had been doing in practice, so I knew I just had to start doing the right things. I feel like I’m on the right track again. I feel like I can play even better – I wasn’t serving my best, and I wasn’t making as many winners off the return as I wanted to, but I’m getting there.”

As of Monday, Williams will reach her 200th non-consecutive week at No. 1 in the world.

By winning her 61st tennis title, Williams has now netted the 7th most in history and 16 titles ahead of the nearest active player. The No. 1 player will head to Montreal to play the Rogers Cup, which begins on Monday.

 

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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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French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova Lose at Wimbledon

(July 1, 2014) WIMBLEDON – French Open Champions Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova were the victims of major upsets on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

World No. 1 and No. 2 seed Nadal fell to Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the fourth round. For the up-and-coming Kyrgios ranked 144th in the world who hit 37 aces against Nadal, it was the match of his life and the biggest upset of the tournament.

“I’m pretty happy,” said the 19-year-old Australian. “That’s the biggest win of my career obviously, and that’s something I’m never going to forget. I’m going to draw so much confidence out of that no matter where I play now. To have that under my belt, it’s massive.”

“The thing is this surface,” Nadal said. “When you have an opponent that he decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble.

“I think that I didn’t play really bad. But that’s the game in this surface.

“I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert that opportunities. And for the rest, I think he play better than me.

“So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me.”
It was the fourth straight match at Wimbledon where Nadal dropped the opening set.

Kyrgios became the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon debut in 10 years. He is also the first teenager to defeat the No. 1 player man at a major since Nadal did it at 19 when he beat Roger Federer at the 2005 French Open.

“I think I had to play a solid game that gave me the best shot,” said the 6’ 4” Australian. “That’s serving big and playing aggressive. I thought today my serve was something that got me over the line. It made me, you know, be able to put pressure on his serve as well.

“I think that was very important.”

“In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me,” the Spaniard said. “So that’s an advantage. I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5‑All in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.

“You know, that’s happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114 5-All in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.

“Congratulations to him. For me, beach,” Nadal said smiling.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Kyrgios said of the win. “I was just overwhelmed with every feeling out there. I turned to my whole box, you know, just shared that moment with them. It still hasn’t hit me what I’ve done.”
Next up in the quarterfinal for the Aussie will be another big server in Canadian Milos Raonic.

“Milos has probably got the best serve in the world,” he said. I’m just going to go out there and have fun again.”
Maria Sharapova became the favorite to win Wimbledon when Serena Williams lost on Saturday. Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the No. 9 seed dismissed the fifth-seeded Russian from the tournament 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4. The match was a tale of errors.

Sharapova made 49 unforced errors, 38 more than her opponent.

“I think there were a few little key moments in each set actually that I can learn from,” Sharapova said. “I was up in the tiebreaker and didn’t follow through. You know, it was great to come back in that second.
“Had a really slow start in the third. She rode with that confidence. It was just a few points in the end of that. Maybe things would have been different if I won that game, but in the end I didn’t.”

“Before I went on court I was just telling myself, you know, Just go out there, enjoy it, and play like you are at practice,” Kerber said. “You know, not focus on her, just focus on yourself, yeah, and believe that you can beat her.”

“At the end I was trying to focus just from point to point. I was telling me, you know, You can do it. She will not make mistakes. If you would like to win the match, you need to do it, to be aggressive, just go for it.
“Yeah, and I did it. Yeah, I’m just happy that, you know, actually I won the match. I think she didn’t lost the match; I won it. That feels good.”

“The next match against Bouchard, it will be tough one,” Kerber added. “I lost against her in Paris, but I’m feeling right now better and I’m feeling better on grass.

“I never played against her on this surface, so I will be focused like today just on myself. Just try to be aggressive, play my game, and not focusing on her.”

The women’s quarterfinals set for Wednesday are No. 3 Simona Halep against 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki, and No. 9 Angelique Kerber versus No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard. The semifinal on the other side of the draw is already complete 2011 champion Petra Kvitova against No. 23 Lucie Safarova

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Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova Set Up Semifinal Meeting at Sony Open

 

(March 25, 2014) It will be a Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova semifinal at the Sony Open as both women defeated quarterfinal opponents in straight sets.

No. 1 Serena Williams made quick work of No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2, winning 62% of all of the points in the match,  in the first match of the night session on Tuesday.

Williams’s match demonstrated total dominance, unlike her last two matches in which she was pushed to three sets.

“I’m playing a little better,” Williams said.  “I had to play better.  As the tournament progresses you can’t get worse, you have to get better.

“I’m happy to be doing a little better.”

The 17-time major winner still is not totally happy yet.

“The good news is I can play better, so that keeps me really happy, actually.  “So knowing that I can still play several levels higher is good for me.”

No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova came back from a break down in the first set in a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final to top Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1. She won 11 of the last 13 games.

“I started getting more chances as we played more games in the first set,” Sharapova said.

“Little by little I started seeing more opportunities and started getting myself back in the points and playing my game, playing well, going inside the baseline.

“You never are sure until you finish the match and you win the last point, but I really felt like I started doing the right things.”

Sharapova, always a bridesmaid but never a bride in Miami – she’s been a finalist five times has never won a Sony Open title.

It will be Williams against Sharapova for a place in the Key Biscayne final. Williams holds an overwhelming record against the Russian 15-2. The last time Sharapova beat Williams was back in 2004.

“Well, when you’re playing, you know, champions, you have to play your best.” Williams said.  “So she always plays her best and her heart out against me.

“We just have to bring the best because we both are really good players.”

“It’s no secret that she’s been a big challenge of mine, an opponent that obviously I would love to beat,” Sharapova said.  “There are certainly, you know, ways that I need to step up in certain situations that I haven’t been able to do in the past against her.

“But it’s great that I have come to that stage and have the opportunity to play her again.”

“I love playing her,” said the six-time Sony Open winner Williams about playing Sharapova.  “I really do.  Doesn’t matter what surface or anything.  She’s one of my favorite people to play. And so I think that helps, too, when you’re like playing people.  I think it just gets you really pumped.”

“I feel in the last few times I have played I have had my chances and opportunity and something that maybe I didn’t quite create, you know, say, a couple years ago,” Sharapova said to media.

“It’s about taking those.  Someone, an opponent that plays with so much confidence and so much power, you really need to take those few opportunities that you have.”

 

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Li Na and Maria Sharapova Advance While Angelique Kerber Falls at Indian Wells

 

 

Li Na

Li Na

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 seed Li Na beat Chinese countrywoman Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while fourth seed Maria Sharapova began the defense of her title with an easy 6-1, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges.

Two seeded German women fell – No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber was upset 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 by Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor while Aleksandra Wozniack stopped No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was a set and a break down before stopping Elina Svitolina.

“I just tried to fight her at every point,” Ivanovic said of the turnaround in the second set. It probably wasn’t the best game I had played. I had lot of unforced errors I tried to stick with it and play each point and not try to think about the errors that I made and just to put pressure on her forehand and that worked well for me. I was very happy to manage to come back.”

In the night session, Sloane Stephens ran off the last nine games in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Advancing easily were No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 11 Ana Ivanovic and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova.

For Li Na, this is her second tournament since winning the Australian Open.

“This is the first match after Doha, two weeks, and of course for I cannot be 100 percent for the first match,” Li said. “But I was happy. At least I can learn something from today’s match.”

This also marks the first time that Li has been the top seed in a premier mandatory event.

“The first match always tough, because like I say before, you didn’t know what happen on the court,” Li said.  “All you can do is like to try to do your best.  If you cannot hit good tennis, only one way is running all the shots and to fight every point.”

“First time to be the top seed in a big tournament.  Yeah, at least I’m still in the tournament,” she said smiling.

Li will play Karolina Pliskova next in the third round, who took out No. 28 seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5, 6-2,

“The first matches are always a little bit tricky, especially having not played in a few weeks indoor or outdoor,” Sharapova said.

“Tricky opponent, and she’s capable of playing good tennis.  She hasn’t been as consistent as she probably would have liked recently, but she’s had her results.  She’s beaten top players before, so the first round, that’s never easy, but I thought I did what I had to do.  Certainly improvements that I could make.”

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Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

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“Rusty” Serena Williams Opens Dubai with a Win; Ana Ivanovic Squeaks by Angelique Kerber

Serena fistpump yell

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI -Wild Card and top seed Serena Williams was forced to save set points in her 7-6 (8), 6-0 win over Ekaterina Makarova at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

This was Williams’ first match since she lost in the fourth round of Australian Open where she was dealing with a back injury which she has been recovering from ever since.

The world No. 1 admitted to being rusty.

“I felt a little rusty, but it was OK,” Williams said. “Body is fine. I just had to get my feet moving, but it was OK.”

Williams saved two set points against the 24th ranked Makarova in the first set tiebreak.

“Today was really difficult for me,” she continued. “I felt so rusty out there and a little frustrated – I’ve been practicing, but I was like, ‘Gosh, this isn’t what I practiced. But I was just really excited to get through that. I was really telling myself to stay positive, because I was making a lot of unforced errors that I don’t normally make, and my serve wasn’t popping the way it usually does.

“I’m happy for the win, but I’m going to have to play better if I want to do better here.”

Ivanovic in press 1

In an earlier match in the evening session Ana Ivanovic saved a match point and knocked out sixth seed Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

It was difficult match for Ivanovic to close. She could not take advantage of three break point against Kerber to end the match in the 12th game of the final set. Also Ivanovic built a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak but Kerber came back to have a match point of her own at 6-5. Ivanovic win the next three points to win the contest.

“I’m just so happy to be through,” said the Serbian.

 

 

Related stories:

Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(1/WC) Serena Williams (USA) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 76(8) 60

Singles – First Round
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (Q) Maryna Zanevska (UKR) 64 63
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (6) Angelique Kerber (GER) 36 63 76(6) (saved 1mp)
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (7) Simona Halep (ROU) 61 11 ret. (right ankle injury)
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 26 63 63
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. (Q) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 61 75
(Q) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 75 64
(Q) Annika Beck (GER) d. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 16 61 64

Doubles – First Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (RUS/RUS) 64 64
Hlavackova/Safarova (CZE/CZE) d. (4) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) 76(5) 57 119 (Match TB)
Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) d. Jankovic/Kleybanova (SRB/RUS) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Flavia Pennetta vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Ana Ivanovic vs. Venus Williams
3. Sorana Cirstea vs. Sara Errani (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Petra Kvitova vs. Carla Suárez Navarro

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Annika Beck
2. Lucie Safarova vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Alizé Cornet
4. Williams/Williams vs. Makarova/Vesnina

Court 3 (from 16.00hrs)
1. Peschke/Srebotnik vs. Pennetta/Stosur

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Flavia Pennetta Knocks Out Angelique Kerber in Melbourne

Pennetta

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 19, 2014) MELBOURNE – Flavia Pennetta upset Germany’s Angelique Kerber in three sets on Sunday morning, 6-1 4-6 7-5, projecting a well-earned boost in her ranking to return to the top 20 come the end of the tournament for the first time since 2011.

 

“​I would like to be back in the top 20,” Pennetti voiced.

 

“Of course, my dream is to be back in the top 10 but it is going be tough. The season is so long and it’s just started. For the moment, it’s so good so I hope to just keep going.”

 

The match began with a long rally, where neither player went for the winner but merely kept the ball in play to force the error. Kerber was the first to crumble in the face of pressure, making a forehand error, and this was a sign of what was to come from the German for the remainder of that set which allowed Pennetti to surge ahead to a double break lead.

 

“​I think the first set was perfect. I was really aggressive. Everything was working pretty good. My serve, my return, everything was perfect. In the second set, I was just starting to wait a little bit more. She started to play much better… but in the third it was a little bit up and down for both of us.

 

Kerber lifted her aggression to make a comeback in the second set, giving herself time to find her range in rallies to launch her best forehand winner. Both performed unusually well upon return rather than on serve throughout, but Kerber picked her moment to set up three break point opportunities. She rose to the occasion, establishing a break and backed it up by serving out the set.

 

Kerber brought some of her best tennis to the court towards the end of the decider, generating some fantastic angles on the ball, but by that stage it was too late. The Italian had already broken ahead, gaining some well-timed momentum and was much more controlled in her movements.

 

​”I think the only way to win today was to be aggressive and try to go for a winner, for a good shot. But also, not to rush too much. Every point was really long and I was trying to be near the baseline… it was the only way to win today.”

 

A place in the Australian Open 2014 quarterfinals might have been a nice belated birthday gift for Kerber, who had celebrated her 26th birthday the day before, but the Italian worked to force the errors off her more highly ranked opponent during the long rallies and broke ahead at the very end to ultimately triumph.

 

This win secured Pennetta her first ever quarterfinal in Melbourne and she has a promising track record against Li Na, who she is set to face during the week. But, in saying that, the two women have not come head to head in a tournament since 2010, so Pennetta is expecting a completely different match.

 

“​She is so good. She’s one of the best players. Backhand, unbelievable. Forehand, really good. Physically, she’s strong. So it’s going to be a really good fight on the court.”

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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Pironkova Stuns Kvitova in Sydney

Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) World No. 107 Tsvetana Pironkova will be the first women’s qualifier to reach the finals of the Apia International after taking out the No.2 seed Czech Petra Kvitova in straight sets on Ken Rosewall Arena on Thursday. It will also be her first appearance at a WTA level final.

In order to get there, she has had to play seven days in a row, getting past some of the toughest opponents in both the qualifying and the main draws. Physically she says she’s doing fine, apart from, “Some pains here and there.” She said, “It’s quite normal considering I’ve been playing for seven consecutive days now. But these are not serious injuries. These are normal things that happen to you after so many matches. I’ve had them before. I know it’s nothing to worry about too much.”

Showing a glimpse of the mentality that was her motivation to reach her first final, she said, “This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time now and something that I’ve been missing, to go to the final or even have a title. So you can only imagine how I will feel tomorrow on the court. We’ll see what happens.”

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

Despite her undergdog status, Pironkova has won one of her two previous matches against Angelique Kerber, who will be her opponent in the final after Kerber beat American Madison Keys in just over an hour. It was a convincing win for Kerber, who seemed to make fewer unforced errors as the match wore on, neutralizing Keys’ power-hitting and big serving, making the first set a more even contest – at 6-4 – than the second when Kerber used her lefty forehand to attack Keys’ backhand, taking the set 6-2.

Reaching the final of the first tournament of the year Kerber attributed to simple hard work, saying, “I was working very hard in my off season and trying to play more aggressive in my practice sessions,” saying of Keys that she is, “A great, talented player, and I knew this before the match because I had a great, tough match last year at Melbourne against her. So she served very well today, and I think I had a great return.  I think that was also the key in this match.”

While Pironkova joked that winning seven matches in a row is equivalent to a grand slam, her opponent Kerber sees Sydney as an integral part of her preparation for the upcoming slam next week, saying, “I think for me it’s important to have some matches before a grand slam and to feel good, and, yeah, to know that everything is working.  So that’s why I also decide to play here. I think, yeah, I had right now good matches. Tomorrow I had another one, and then I think I am ready for Melbourne.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis 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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Serena Williams to Face Jelena Jankovic in Istanbul Semis

 

Serena Williams

(October 25, 2013) Serena Williams will face off against Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Saturday while Li Na will play Petra Kvitova.

No. 4 seed Li Na earned her semifinal berth with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Friday over Victoria Azarenka who was suffering from a back injury. Li won the White Group with a perfect 3-0 record.

2011 WTA Championships winner Petra Kvitova, came back against Angelique Kerber 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3.

Defending champion Serena Williams has a 7-4 career edge against Jankovic. Li and Kvitova are even at 3-3 in head-to-head meetings.

The Williams-Jankovic match-up will be just the second time that two thirty-somethings are in the final four of the year-end championships.

Not in  action on Friday, Williams accepted her award for finishing 2013 with the top ranking for the third time. Williams also finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2002 and 2009.

 

TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS – ISTANBUL
Istanbul, Turkey
October 22-October 27, 2013
$6,000,000/Season-Ending Championships
Hard/Indoors

Results – Friday, October 25, 2013
White Group
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 62 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (7) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 64 64

Red Group
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (8) Angelique Kerber (GER) 67(3) 62 63

Order Of Play – Saturday, October 26, 2013
Center Court (from 13.00hrs)
1. Petrova/Srebotnik vs. Hsieh/Peng
2. Li Na vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Serena Williams vs. Jelena Jankovic
4. Errani/Vinci vs. Makarova/Vesnina

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