By Rick Limpert
Tennis News and Information, Tournament Coverage and Features
By Rick Limpert
(May 26, 2013) Twenty-five players from the United States are competing in the singles draws of Paris this fortnight at Roland Garros – 15 women and 10 men. Americans went 4-4 in Paris on the first day of the French Open.
Here is a look at how they all fared:
First Round: Serena Williams (1) (USA) def. Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 6-0, 6-1
In 2012 Serena Williams lost for the only time in the first round of a major when she fell to Virginie Razzano in Paris. Williams did not let that happen on Sunday. Her demolition of Tashvilli saw Williams win 56 of 78 points in the match and hit 8 aces.
Serena was questioned about about the surge of women from the U. S. in the main draw of Roland Garros – a total of 15.
“I think the quality over the past year has jumped tremendously with the U.S. players,” Williams said. “On the female, female U.S. players. I think last year here, outside of me, all the U.S. girls did really, really well, and I think we started to see then just so many players just popping up left and right.
“That’s 15 in the main draw? That’s pretty awesome. Yeah. So it is a lot of players, but they’re all really young. So there is still an opportunity to grow.”
Williams gets a French wild card, promising teenager Caroline Garcia next. Back in 2011, Garcia led Maria Sharapova in Paris 6-3, 4-1 before the Russian came back to win in three sets.
First round: Sam Querrey (18) (USA) def. Lukas Lacko (POL) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
The No. 1 U. S. male who is 20th in the world, has equaled his best performance at the French Open by reaching the second round. In fact, the California native won Sunday’s match on the same court where he was victorious back in 2011 – on Court 7. Querrey is 1-3 on clay coming into Paris this season.
“The clay season has been a little rough,” Querrey said to media. “Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses. And then Nice was a little disappointing.
“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”
Querrey gets Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic next in the second round. Hajek defeated American Dennis Kudla
First round: Urszula Radwanska (POL) def. Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4
The three hour and 19 minute match on Sunday was Williams‘ first loss in the opening round of the French Open since 2001. She’s now lost in the first round of 2 of the last four majors. she also lost at Wimbledon. Despite the heart-breaking loss, she is not discouraged and will continue to play.
“I think that obviously it’s disappointing to lose,” Venus told media in her post-match news conference. “It’s not what anyone is going for out here. Coming out to win. I’m coming out to win my matches.
“And, you know, with what I’ve gone through, it’s not easy. But I’m strong and I’m a fighter. You know, I don’t think I’m just playing for me now. I think I’m playing for a lot of people who haven’t felt well.
“I think for me today it’s a positive to be able to play three hours. I’m constantly finding ways to get better and to feel better.
“For me, I would never give up because, you know, obviously at some point everyone has to retire. You know, that’s an asterisk, but I feel like I have to give myself a chance to continue working on feeling better. I wouldn’t just give up just because it was difficult.
“That’s not me. So my thing is that I’m going to keep ‑‑ continue trying. And, you know, I had a very challenging year last year, but I had many successes, as well.
“So I’m continuing to look forward to more successes.”
Williams is still playing in the French Open, she’s competing in doubles with her sister Serena.
First round: Viktor Trocki (SRB) def. James Blake (USA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
Thirty-three year-old veteran James Blake, playing for the ninth time at Roland Garros could do nothing against Troicki. The highlight of the match for Blake was a between-the-legs shot.
Blake who came into Paris with no clay court ATP tournaments under his belt, spoke about play.
“The difference between my best and now is consistency,” said Blake to media. “I’m still trying to work on it. There are days it is good. Today wasn’t one of my best days. Off days are exposed very quickly out here.”
First round: Mallory Burdette (USA) def. Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-3, 6-4
Stanford Alum Mallory Burdette was making her debut on the clay of Paris. She has seen her ranking rise from No. 142 at the beginning of 2013 to No. 80.
Burdette spoke to media about her challenges in learning to play on clay.
“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to. I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge. You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.
“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.”
First round: Shelby Rogers (USA) def. 6-3, 6-4 Irena Pavlovic (FRA)
Playing in just her second major, Shelby Rogers made her Paris debut a winning one. Beginning the year on tour at 0-6, she earned a wild card into Roland Garros.
Rogers who turned pro in 2009, reflected on the win:
“Feels really good. My first Grand Slam main draw win. And especially against a French player. I was expecting the crowd to be against me. I was ready for a battle.”
“It was really tough for a while,” said the 188th ranked player. “I wasn’t a very happy person. But I kept grinding it out every day, and I knew something had to turn around eventually. Here I am – pretty much the highest point of my career.”
Jan Hajek(CZE) def. Denis Kudla (USA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4
Kudla, once the No. 3 Junior made it into the main draw as a qualifier.
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) def. Grace Min (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
The 2011 U.S. Open Girls’ champion Grace Min made it to the main draw of Roland Garros as a qualifier.
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News
By Karen Pestaina
(May 26, 2013) Just a year ago, Serena Williams lost the only first round match at a major in her career in Paris when she fell to No. 111 Virginie Razzano of France. This year no opening shocker for Williams as the world No. 1 demolished Anna Tatishvili 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of Roland Garros.
Williams cruised to capture the opening nine games, 30 of the first 37 points. In the end Williams won 56 of 78 points, nailing eight aces past her challenger.
“It’s been a good year,” Williams said in contrast to last years’ performance at the French Open. “But like I can say from last year, you never really know what’s gonna happen or what can happen.”
“I was definitely nervous,” Williams said of the match. “I have to say I’m always a little nervous going into first‑round matches at Slams, but this time I wasn’t as nervous as I was, you know, previously or another in other Grand Slams.
“But for the most part, I, you know, felt pretty safe and felt good about my game and that if I can just do what I do in practice, I’ll be okay.”
The French Open has been Serena Williams’ least successful major – she’s only won it once, back in 2002.
“Yeah, I just keep trying, and hasn’t been working out for me,” Williams said of Roland Garros. “Just think I may have gotten nervous in the past or may have basically choked a few matches away, you know. And played some opponents that played well, but I have probably had opportunities and gave it away.
“I think, you know, some matches I just lost because maybe I wasn’t intense enough or maybe I didn’t do enough work before I got here to the tournament.”
Not only did Williams gain applause for her on-court performance on Sunday, but also for attempt to speak French after her victory.
“I’m a beginner,” Williams said after speaking French in her on-court interview.
When asked about her French skills, the world No. 1 said with a smile: “I have been speaking French for years and years, but I don’t really have a lot of confidence.
“I just had to kind of jump in. Like once I get there and I get warmed up, I know how to say things and what I can speak. It’s just getting that confidence to speak in French. It’s way, way, more nerve‑wracking than playing tennis.”
Williams has an apartment in Paris.
Williams faces Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia next in the second round.
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY â€“ Top seed Victoria Azarenka, rocked the court on Sunday, along with her post-match news conference.
After defeating No. 74 Anna Tatishvili, the World No. 1 from Belarus pulled a day-glo RED Foo from LMFAO up with her to her news conference. The Party Rock singer opened and drank the Evian water left for Azarenka as if there was nothing unusual about it.
Azarenkaâ€™s match was originally scheduled for Ashe Stadium, but was moved to Louis Armstrong in order for the night session beginning with Maria Sharapova versus Nadia Petrova would begin on time.
â€œAt the beginning of the year, I really believed in myself and had so much passion on the court and I think I’ve found that same belief in this tournament,” said Azarenka. “The pressure is there as the top seed, but I’m just focusing on myself and hope to keep this form for the rest of the way.”
“There were a few things I felt like I could have done better,” Azarenka said of the match in which she hit 24 errors and was broken a few times. “Could have been more aggressive and step up a little bit more when I had the chance. But in the end I found that rhythm that I was looking for, and that’s important.”
Azarenka has only lost 10 games through four matches this tournament. Sheâ€™ll play Samantha Stosur next.
In a match of extremes which saw 12 breaks of serve, Marion Bartoli of France defeated No. 5 Petra Kvitova 1-6, 6-2, 6-0. Bartoli captured the12 of the last 13 games of the match including 25 of 32 points in the third set.
Bartoli will play Maria Sharapova for a semifinal spot.
MIDLAND, Mich., February 8, 2011 â€“ The numbers were stacked against Anna Tatishvili as she opened play at the 2011 Dow Corning Tennis Classic on Stadium Court. An unheralded, unseeded player from the Republic of Georgia, Tatishvili was up against top-seeded American Varvara Lepchenko, who finished 2010 by winning 15 straight matches on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Tatishvili gave up five inches, 25 pounds and 54 spots on the WTA Tour rankings to the lefty Lepchenko. Playing on a slick indoor surface that is supposed to favor stronger players, Lepchenko entered Tuesdayâ€™s match with a 2-0 lifetime record against Tatishvili.
But matches arenâ€™t played on paper; theyâ€™re played between the lines. Flattening her groundstrokes much deeper than her 5-foot-6 frame suggested she could, Tatishvili knocked off the No. 1 seed 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.
â€œI had to play very focused, especially on the returns,â€ said Tatishvili, who resides and trains in Boca Raton, Fla. â€œSheâ€™s a lefty and her slice serve you canâ€™t really hit back flat. I had to really look at the ball and make her play every point.â€
After moving her opponent side to side with punishing returns, the Georgian broke for a 5-4 first-set lead when Lepchenko double-faulted.
But Tatishvili doubled twice in the subsequent game to concede the break back to Lepchenko, who will become an American citizen in August after migrating to the U.S. a decade ago.
â€œOn my kick serves, I got a little tight so the ball flew on me,â€ said Tatishvili, who finished with seven double faults. â€œI need to just think about the routine I do every single day: make 2,000 serves.â€
Moments after she served for a one-set lead, Tatishvili misfired long on consecutive points in the tiebreak to concede the first set to Lepchenko.
â€œItâ€™s tennis and it happens,â€ said Tatishvili, 21. â€œThatâ€™s why itâ€™s two-out-of-three. I refocused and I tried to make less errors. On the important points, I wanted to be steady.â€
Lepchenko, 24, could not maintain her momentum in the second set as Tatishvili broke serve in each of the Americanâ€™s first three service games. Despite service troubles of her own, Tatishvili forced a final set by holding at love.
The 129th-ranked Tatishvili opened up a 3-0 third-set lead, and then earned two match points at 5-3 after hitting the shot of the match. Lepchenko kicked a spin serve into the far corner of the Ad-court, pushing Tatishvili into the side curtains. The Georgian, however, responded with an acute angle of her own: carving a cross-court backhand return winner that crashed into the opposite curtains.
Lepchenko managed to save both match points and hold serve, forcing Tatishvili to clinch the win on her own racquet. When Tatishvili hit a second-serve about three feet long to open the 10th game, a service break appeared likely.
But Lepchenkoâ€™s comeback was not to be as Tatishvili recomposed herself, earning a third match point with a crosscourt forehand winner. She secured her first-ever win over the 75th-ranked Lepchenko when the lefty let loose on a backhand long.
â€œOn the match points at 5-3 she played well,â€ said Tatishvili. â€œItâ€™s not like I played bad or I choked or anything. There was nothing I could do. But in the last game of the third set, I just said, â€˜You have to really focus on your serve.â€™â€
Lepchenkoâ€™s loss marked the start of a difficult day for Americans at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Shelby Rogers, Christina McHale and Jamie Hampton each fell in the first round. Two-time singles finalist Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic handed Hampton a 7-5, 6-4 loss in Tuesdayâ€™s feature singles match.
Good news for the red, white and blue came in the form of USTA.com blogger Irina Falconi. The former Georgia Tech standout ensured herself two more days of writing (and competing) by breaking Katie Oâ€™Brien seven straight times in a 7-5, 6-2 singles victory. Falconi, 20, also teamed with countrywoman Alison Riske to defeat Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller in doubles.
While four Americans fell in the main draw on Tuesday, four former U.S. Fed Cup team members swept the qualifying. Ahsha Rolle and Alexa Glatch joined 1998 Midland champion Alexandra Stevenson and 34-year-old Mashona Washington as the qualifying quartet.
Washington, who was born in nearby Flint, Mich., first played the Midland qualifying event in 1993. Back then, the tournament was only in its fifth year on the USTA Pro Circuit and it featured just a quarter of its present-day purse of $100,000.
Now in the Dow Corning Tennis Classic main draw for the 10th time, Washington will be wishing for a repeat performance of 2002, when she reached the singles final before falling to Australian Open runner-up Na Li.
After her mother, father and sister watched her advance through the qualifying draw, Washington was rewarded with a first-round match against a player young enough to be her daughter: 15-year-old wild card Victoria Duval.
â€œIâ€™ve probably played this tournament more than anybody,â€ said Washington, who defeated Mueller 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final round of qualifying. â€œIâ€™m very happy because this lets me know that I didnâ€™t need a wild card. At the same time, I could have saved myself three matches and probably 100 miles on my legs (laughs).â€
The first round resumes on Wednesday with 11 singles matches, highlighted by the fast-rising Riske taking on No. 7 seed Ksenia Pervak of Russia in the feature singles match at 7 p.m. on Stadium Court. Pervak won the 2009 Australian Open junior title, but should be tested against Riske, who captured three consecutive ITF titles in Europe last fall.
Following that contest, Hampton and Tatishvili will team up to take on Canadians Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier in the feature doubles match.
Marino will also play her first-round singles match on Wednesday against Glatch. With Lepchenkoâ€™s loss, the 20-year-old from Vancouver has emerged asÂ a tournament favorite.
At 6-feet-tall, the second-seeded Marino is quickly becoming one of the biggest hitters in womenâ€™s tennis, smoking serves and forehands without inhibition. She arrives in Midland after a second-round appearance at the Australian Open, where she pushed French Open champion Francesca Schiavone before falling 9-7 in the third set.
Marino is one of six seeded singles players in action during Wednesdayâ€™s day session, including No. 5 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania. Still only 20 years old, Cirstea has posted wins over current Top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Schiavone.
Cirstea will meet wild card Jessica Pegula in the fourth match on Court 5.
Admission to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic is free until the 7 p.m. feature session. General admission tickets to see Riske vs. Pervak and Hampton/Tatishvili vs. Marino/Pelletier cost $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Article by Joshua Rey
Dow Corning Tennis Classic
Midland Community Tennis Center
Tuesday, February 8 â€“ RESULTS
Singles â€“ First round
Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) def.  Varvara Lepchenko (United States)Â 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4
Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) def. Jamie Hampton (United States) 7-5, 6-4
Sabine Lisicki (Germany) def. [WC] Shelby Rogers (United States) 6-1, 6-3
Anastasia Pivovarova (Russia) def. Christina McHale (United States) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Irina Falconi (United States) def. Katie Oâ€™Brien (Great Britain) 7-5, 6-2
Doubles â€“ First round
Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) and Whitney Jones (United States) def. [WC] Kelli Close (United States) and Daniella Patton (Dominican Republic) 6-0, 6-2
Irina Falconi and Alison Riske (United States) def. Brittany Augustine and Alexandra Mueller (United States) 6-1, 3-6, [10-3]
 Ksenia Pervak (Russia) and Ipek Senoglu (Turkey) def. Christina Fusano and Sanaz Marand (United States) 4-6, 6-4, [10-7]
 Sarah Borwell (Great Britain) and Courtney Nagle (United States) def. Elizabeth Lumpkin and Story Tweedie-Yates (United States) 7-5, 6-4
Qualifying Singles â€“ Final round
 Mashona Washington (United States) def. Alexandra Mueller (United States) 7-6(4), 6-3
 Ahsha Rolle (United States) def.  Lena Litvak (United States) 6-4, 6-2
 Alexandra Stevenson (United States) def.  Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-2, 6-4
 Alexa Glatch (United States) def.  Amanda Fink (United States) 6-2, 6-2
Wednesday, February 9 â€“ SCHEDULE
Stadium Court â€“ starting at 10 a.m.
[WC] Brittany Augustine (United States) vs.  Anne Keothavong (Great Britain)
 Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) vs. [Q] Ahsha Rolle (United States)
[Q] Mashona Washington (United States) vs. [WC] Victoria Duval (United States)
 Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) and Lucie Hradecka (Czech Republic) vs. Beatrice Capra and CoCo Vandeweghe (United States)
Stadium Court â€“ starting at 7 p.m.
Alison Riske (United States) vs.  Ksenia Pervak (Russia)
Jamie Hampton (United States) and Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) vs. Rebecca Marino and Marie-Eve Pelletier (Canada)
Court 5 â€“ starting at 10 a.m.
Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal) vs. Julie Coin (France)
Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) vs.  Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia)
[Q] Alexa Glatch (United States) vs.  Rebecca Marino (Canada)
 Sorana Cirstea (Romania) vs. [WC] Jessica Pegula (United States)
Court 3 â€“ starting at 10 a.m.
Stephanie Foretz-Gacon (France) vs. Heather Watson (Great Britain)
 CoCo Vandeweghe (United States) vs. [Q] Alexandra Stevenson (United States)
Madison Brengle (United States) vs. Olga Savchuk (Ukraine)
ABOUT THE USTA PRO CIRCUIT:
With more than 90 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit 32 years ago to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering more than $3 million in prize money. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed in cities nationwide. Among those who have played at the Dow Corning Tennis Classic are seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and 2011 Australian Open runner-up Na Li.