Double Delight for Townsend: Wins Australian Open Girls’ Doubles Crown with Andrews and Advances to Girls’ Singles Final

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – A pair of 15-year-olds from the United States, Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., and Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., captured the Australian Open junior girls’ doubles title on Friday by defeating Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

Townsend and Andrews have known each other since they were 8-year-olds in tennis camp and have been friends  since. “They used to bring us out into the Home Depot Center and they have the eight high-performance camps and so they brought people from all over,” Townsend said.  “We just decided to play doubles. Easter Bowl was the first time when we were 14.”

Earlier in the day Townsend advanced to the junior girls’ final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Krista Hardebeck  of Santa Ana, Calif., in a 90-minute slugfest.

“She played really well, I came out playing really well,” Townsend said. “I went up, 2-0, and then she came back and got up, 3-2, and then from there it was really tight and no one could really break serve. A lot of return errors really killed me because she was holding serve and holding serves at love, because I was missing my second serve returns.

“I stayed in the points and I was just fighting at the end. She gave me some free shots, I hit some good shots, good severs, when I needed them. I made sure to keep coming into the net. I couldn’t stop doing that. And in the second set I think I did that more than in the first.”

Hardebeck, 17, defeated  Townsend last week in the Loy Yang Traralgon International quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, and went on to win the tournament.

“I was really excited about it,”  Hardebeck said of that win. “I actually played Taylor last week and I beat her there. It was a great match and a great week there. This week was pretty good as well, so I’m happy.”

Townsend said: “The biggest thing for me was that I competed today. Last week, I feel like I kind of less settled because it was a warm-up tournament quarterfinals like. It was very very tough conditions. It was windy outside.”

“But today I definitely came out really hard and that was the biggest thing keeping myself pumped.”

Townsend led off the match with a break of serve and Hardebeck returned the favor in the fourth game. Both held serve until the tiebreak, which Townsend won, 7-3, by playing aggressive tennis. She ended the tiebreak with an ace.

The second set saw Hardebeck  take a 4-2 lead and in the sixth game of the match she saved four break points.  It looked as though Hardebeck was going to send the match to a third set.  But Townsend picked up her game by mixing up baseline and net play and won the next four games in a row to win the match, 7-6, 6-4.

Towsend served seven aces in the match in contrast to Hardebeck’s  seven double faults.

“My serve was a little bit shaky today,” Hardebeck said. “It wasn’t in its best form but Taylor played really well, so there really wasn’t much I can do anyway.”

Townsend will face the Russian Yulia Putintseva for the junior girls’ title Saturday.

“She’s a very tough opponent, very competitive,” Townsend said. “She tries to get in your head with ‘c’mon’s’ to pump herself up. She kind of plays better when she’s down. I’m going to have to keep the pressure on her and keep playing my game and being aggressive and, hopefully, I’ll come out on top.”

Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.

This article originally appeared in the Straight Sets Tennis Blog of the New York Times.



Nadal Storms Past Federer in Australian Open Thriller

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Rafael Nadal rallied to stop Roger Federer 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4 on Thursday night to advance to his second Australian Open final.

The two men battled in the semifinal with incredible shot-making and stamina in the three hour and 42 minute match.

“I thought Rafa played well from start to finish, really,” said Federer.  “I started really well myself.  It was obviously a big set for me to win, and missed obviously the opportunities in some of all the sets maybe.

But Rafa did well to hang in there.  At the end was a bit better.  It was a tough match physically as well, but, you know, only beginning of the season.

“I’m feeling all right, so it’s okay.”

Commenting on his forehand which seemed errant during parts of the match, Federer said, “I don’t think it was that bad.  I’m always gonna miss forehands because I have to go after the ball.  If I just put it into play he’ll smack it.  So it’s pretty simple.  I have to keep him driving it, and obviously at times I clipped the tape a bit too often.

“But I hit flatter than Rafa, so it’s always gonna happen, some of it.  I thought I retrieved well again.  Obviously the surface is not the fastest, but he does a good job getting a lot of balls back and staying in the points.

“And then obviously he’s got great passing shots and so forth.  You have to, you know, go after it and try your best there.

“We have had good matches over the years.  I enjoy playing him.  The crowd really gets into it, which is nice.  We have a lot of respect for each other, which is good, too, I think.

“I hope it inspires future generations or other players, you know, being nice to each other on the court and all that stuff.

“You know, works as well at the highest of levels.  Yeah, we also kind of, you know, play well against each other.  I always think he plays a bit better against me than against other players, but that’s good for him.”

Federer started the match off strongly breaking Nadal and building a 4-1 lead. In the seventh game of the first set Nadal broke Federer ar 30 and both med held for the rest of the set to get to a tiebreak Federer won the tiebreak 7-5.

The second set began with Federer breaking Nadal at love and Nadal returning the favor in the very next game. Both men held until the sixth game when Nadal broke Federer’s serve and the Spaniard broke serve again at 5-2, a game after a ten minute break in the match due to the Australia Day fireworks to capture the second set 6-2. Federer lost 11 consecutive points after the break for fireworks.


The third set saw both men steadily hold their serves, which forced a third set tiebreak. Nadal cruised to a 6-1 lead and Federer crept back to make it 6-5, but Nadal closed the tiebreak on his serve clinching it 7-5.

In the fourth set Federer saved a break point in the third game and two break points in the fifth game. Nadal saved a break point in the eighth game. Nadal broke Federer in the ninth game. While serving for the match Nadal faced two break points but finally won on his second match point. After the match he came back onto the court and fell to his knees to celebrate the victory.

Nadal’s consistency from the baseline forced Federer into 63 unforced errors to Nadal’s 46 winners and 96 points won on the baseline. Nadal raises his record versus Federer to 18-9

Nadal who won the Australian Open in 2009 will try to win a second title against the winner of Novak Djokovic or fourth seed Andy Murray, who meet in the second semifinal on Friday night.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

(Article to be updated after news conferences)



Sharapova Surges into Australian Open Final

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Maria Sharapova has made the Australian Open final for the first time since she won it in 2008 by defeating Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

“It means so much to be back in a Grand Slam final, “ Sad Sharapova, a stage I have been to before few years ago here.  It’s nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years.

“So, yeah, it means a lot to me.  I played someone that’s just had really great results and has beaten me the last couple of times.  I just really wanted it today.

“Yeah, I fought to the last point.  You know, she had so many opportunities in that third set, and I just hung on and just really went for it.

“Every year is different.  Just in terms of obviously you grow a little bit older, you know, a lot of things in your life happen.

“But at the end of the day, to get back at that stage is special.”

With a victory on Saturday night, Sharapova can rise to the No. 1 ranking again next week. Sharapova will be playing Victoria Azarenka for the title on Saturday night. Azarenka knocked out defending champion Kim Clijsters in three sets.

On playing Azarenka for the women’s title, “I haven’t had great success against her in the last couple of events that we’ve played against each other.

“I’d really like to change that.  Yeah, it will be important to tactically play right.  You know, she makes you hit a lot of balls and she’s aggressive, as well.

But, yeah, it’s the final, so…”


Azarenka Tops Defending Champ Clijsters to Move into Australian Open Final

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia -Victoria Azarenka  has defeated defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 on  Thursday to move into the Australian Open final to be held on Saturday night. This will mark the Belarusian’s first major final.  She’ll play the winner of the Maria Sharapova who defeated Petra Kvitova in the other semifinal 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

“Well, I was really, really happy to win the match, you know.  I think it was really difficult third set.  There was a lot of ups and downs, but in a good way,” said Azarenka.
“She was coming with some incredible shots; I was really going for it.  So it was really important to get that 5‑3 lead, you know, and keep on putting pressure. ”

“Disappointed,” said Clijsters about the loss.  But then again, I felt like I have given it my all these last two weeks, and it’s unfortunate.  The match was very close.  There were a few deciding moments where I think I maybe had a little bit of an advantage, in the third set, especially that first game where I had breakpoint.
” But, you know, she definitely played really well.  She was playing very aggressive tennis, moving really well.  So she deserved to win at the end.

“I felt like I had to serve well today because she was returning really well.  That’s definitely something that always comes up, is making sure that I finish off my complete service motion before I start thinking about the next shot that’s being fired at me.
” She returned really well today, very deep, close to the baseline.  She likes to play a lot down the middle.  That’s obviously one of her strengths, is to return as fast as she can back to the server.
” It’s tough to put yourself in that position and to get out of that.  But she played really well, has improved her movement a lot over the last year I think, because she was returning a lot of balls, I thought. ”

Depending on the the final, either Azarenka, Sharapova or Kvitova will take the No. 1 ranking from Caroline Wozniacki who lost it earlier in the week when Clijsters defeated her in the quarterfinals. Azarenka is currently on an 11- match winning streak.

Azarenka started strongly in the first set breaking Cjisters and serving consistently. Clijsters dominated the second set moving Azarenka around the court at will. Azarenka’s serve deserted her.

Azarenka recovered her composure in the third set breaking the Belgian’s serve three times to seal the win.“I felt like my hand is about 200 kilograms and my body is about 1,000 and everything is shaking, but that feeling when you finally win is such a relief. My God I cannot believe it’s over. I just want to cry,” Azarenka said  in her post-match on court interview.  “It was just trying to stay in the moment. Kim really took over the second set and I felt there was nothing I could do. I just tried to regroup.””She made me run so much, I felt like I was, you know, running like a marathon out there.  I just tried to start to be more aggressive and try to play my game and, yeah, start from the beginning.
“I have one more set to go.  I have another, I don’t know, hour, 30 minutes, 40 minutes to make a difference.  That was my mental approach.“I guess before you all thought I was a mental case. I was just young and emotional, I’m really glad the way I fight, that’s the most thing I’m really proud of. I fight for every ball.”

” I’m still in the tournament so I have my mind still in the tournament.  You know, today was not the end.  I have one more match to go.  I have to stay humble and stay focused.  So that’s it.”


Meeting the Great Rod Laver

MELBOURNE PARK,  Australia – As someone who has worked in media since I was a teenager,  I rarely get excited about celebrities of any sort. It’s also rare for me to write in the first person and actually give an opinion. Some would call it being jaded, others would call it just doing what one is supposed to be doing as a reporter, I call it living among so many of them growing up in the New York City area. They are people too, so let them live their lives.

However getting the chance to see the great Rod Laver on Wednesday morning at the Australian Open as he met the press, was a rare exception for me. I was genuinely thrilled at seeing the greatest player in the history of the sport face-to-face. When the announcement was made in the media center on Tuesday night that he would be talking to media on Wednesday morning,  I lit up like a child at Christmas. Here is a man who played for the love of the sport and back in 1962, when he won his first Grand Slam it was a amateur sport. Needless to say I never ever saw him play as he was before my time, but my father a devout tennis enthusiast used to tell me about the great Rod Laver when I was a child.  His opinion has definitely influenced my thoughts on the “GOAT” (greatest of all time) discussion.

Playing a majority of a career for no money certainly has added to Laver’s legacy to me. Two Grand Slams – one as an amateur and one as a professional, I can’t even fathom it in this modern age when winning a major nets you  a two million dollar check. According to the ATP World Tour web site, Laver earned a total of $1,565,413 dollars in his pro career, which is less than the winner’s check of this year’s Australian Open being played in an arena named after him.

Rod Laver is back in Melbourne Park this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first Grand Slam in 1962.   According to the ATP site he won 42 tournaments and he won eleven major titles singles titles. The 73 year-old Laver lives in California these days.

I asked Laver if actually felt like fifty years had passed since he first won his first major to which he replied: “Sometimes you think, Boy, 50 years is a long time ago.  As I just mentioned, the flooding of memories coming back, especially when I meet Roy Emerson on the plane.  I played him in three of the four finals.  Those things immediately come back.

” Of course, he reminds me of some of the things that happened in that match.  Yes, it’s right there in front of you.  I never put a time on it, but 50 years is certainly a long time back.
“I was just honored to be able to pull it off.  You don’t start off trying to win the Grand Slam.  You’re just very happy to play the matches, tournaments.  The thrill of going to the French Championships, Wimbledon, US Open.
“Fortunately, the years prior to that, I had either won Wimbledon or got to the finals.  My ability, I felt it was possible to win tournaments, but not a Grand Slam, so… ”


Laver spoke about today’s current ‘big four’ and if back in his day they same thing existed:

“You know, it wasn’t as noticeable with the four players.  It was amateur tennis back in those years, so they weren’t only Australian.  There was a Neale Fraser, Roy Emerson.  The Hoads, Rosewalls had turned professional.
“When you go to Europe, you have Santana, Pietrangeli.  There were a lot of good players out there, but I don’t know that we could hit upon saying, There were four.  There were probably eight or ten talented players that won tournaments in the past.
“My thought is, yes, there were players there.  Again, when you’re playing amateur tennis, just playing in the tournaments, you don’t have the criteria of who wants to win it.  It’s amateur tennis.  No one was really high on, I’ve got to win this tournament for my career.  There was no career, because you’re playing amateur tennis.  There’s no money in it.
“The whole cycle has changed for the good.  Tennis is just unbelievable.  What I saw last night, being able to see the winner is going to walk away with $2 million, is great for the sport.”

The laugh of the morning came when a reporter asked about Laver about the ATP players efforts about trying to get a greater voice and address some of the problems of the tour, the schedule and the Grand Slam prize money, to which he responded, “Well, you’re probably talking to the wrong person saying, Is the prize money enough?”

He further commented, “I think the scheduling is more of a situation that the players are worrying about because of the amount of tennis they have to play in each tournament, the talent that’s there.  There’s not an easy match on the circuit.  The first round could have been a final last week.  You’ve got to play your best tennis from the word ‘go.’
“Back in my era, there were players that you would think would win the tournament.  You had an easier one or two rounds.  Today the schedule is so rigorous that you’ve got to be able to play all the time because of the points systems.  It seems like the way it’s being done now, you’ve got a lot of the points, you drop one off, whatever happens with Nadal this week, you know, he takes over, cuts off last year’s.
“There’s always things you can look at.  I think there’s always things we looked at.  We were looking at tournaments, because I came along when Open tennis came in 1968, the tournaments would start up.  Lamar Hunt was very big in football in the U.S., then soccer.  He wanted to do something with tennis.  He said, Hey, I got $1 million.  I want to get a promoter.  You could play 50 tournaments, $20,000 in total purse.  Find the tournaments, find your best 32 players that you can sign up.  I mean, that’s how it was happening as Open tennis was unfolding.
“It’s a different world.  To play for $10,000 in those WCT matches, that was big money in our world because we just left Open tennis, and I turned professional.  There was nothing like that sort of money out there. ”

Laver was also asked to comment about how on Friday the Equal Rights Campaign will be flying rainbow flags on Friday in Melbourne Park.
“It’s hard to know how to construct something like that, ” said Laver. ” But, I mean, to each their own.  Lifestyles, whatever comes up happens.
I would say it’s difficult to not have something like that that is current with politics around the world.  That’s all I could really say about it.”

With all of the money in tennis these days, especially among the  highest ranked players, if tennis were still an amateur sport would we see all of these great athletes still in it.  That’s a question for another time. It was one of the rare times I’ve been in a news conference in which I could see the reverence and respect for a subject written on all the attendee’s faces.

Regardless of all the great tennis I’ve seen this fortnight, my longest lasting memory from my first Australian Open will be meeting Rod Laver. He’s a monument to tennis and he should be cherished.


Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News. She is in Melbourne, Australia covering the Australian Open as a member of the media.  Follow her throughout the Australian Open on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. She freelances for various media outlets and has worked for many a broadcast news entity. She witnessed her first live tennis match as a young child at Forest Hills when Guillermo Vilas upset Jimmy Connors to win the 1977 US Open. This branded her as a Vilas fan for life.


Federer, Wozniacki Pass Tricky Opponents to Make Fourth Round


MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Roger Federer had to deal with the bigger-than-life serving Ivo Karlovic and Caroline Wozniacki tamed the crafty shot-maker Monica Niculescu on Friday to book spots in the round of 16 at the Australian Open.

World No. 3 Federer  overcame a set point against him with an acrobatic exchange at the net to stop the 6-foot 10 Croatian Ivo Karlovic 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-3.

“Yeah, I mean, it was a tough breaker for me,” said Federer, “just the way it all turned out to be, and him then having the chance to serve it out at 6‑5 definitely made it difficult.

“Thank God, you know, he gave me a second serve and gave me a slight chance.  Might have had a little bit of a lucky volley, but quick reflexes at the net so that can happen.

“Then running up there, I didn’t know what to do anymore.  Probably left and right, going to go too slow and he’s going to slam it home.  Let me try the lob, even though that’s not what you’re supposed to do against him.  I got sort of the angle right and was able maybe to surprise him, we’re that close to each other, so it’s hard to kind of react quick maybe up.

” I don’t know.  It kind of worked, and then I had a great return after that.  I was almost home.  So it was a good turn of events for me then.

” Then after that, I maybe relaxed a bit.  I got a bit of a better read on his serve potentially and just, you know, also knew what I wanted to do also on my own service games.

” It was a big first set, clearly. ”


The Swiss will face the winner of the Bernard Tomic – Alexander Dolgopolov encounter.

Caroline Wozniacki  spoke to media about the match: “I mean, we had a lot of long rallies because she got a lot of balls back.  With her slice forehand as well it was tough to finish out the point sometimes.
” I felt like I was in control.”

The winner of   the Christina McHale – Jelena Jankovic match will play Wozniacki next.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News



Nadal and Azarenka Gain Fourth Round of Australian Open with Straight Set Victories

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka advanced with straight set wins on Friday to move on to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

World No. 2 Nadal mowed over  Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 .  Nadal spoke to media about the condition of his knee.”Good.  The knee is fine.  That’s important thing.  The match was a really complete match, a really solid one.  Very happy about my game.
“Being in fourth round without losing a set, it’s fantastic news.

“I am playing well.  If you are playing well, things can be a little bit less difficult.  If you are playing bad, every match will be very, very difficult, no?
Nadal spoke about his earlier matches. “I did well.  I played both matches, three matches at very good level.  Today was one of the best, solid, without mistakes, comfortable with the serve, having good return.
“So nothing is easy.  Everything is difficult.  Every match you have your problems.  First set was 6‑2, but was a really fighted set.  That’s my feeling.  Was tough one.
“But I played solid all the match, so that’s why the result.”

Nadal is set to face the winner of the Feliciano  Lopez – John Isner match.
No. 3 Victoria Azarenka is headed tot he round of 16 by virtue of a win over Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4 on Friday. The Belarusian has only dropped eight games so far in Melbourne. Barthel had been on a 1o match winning streak winning last week’s Hobart tournament as a qualifier.

“I think it was a good match,” said Azarenlka.  “You know, she’s a very good player.  She has been winning a lot of matches, so definitely really confident.  She was going for her shots.
“I think I started really well.  The first set was very high quality of tennis.  Second I think I lost a little bit of my concentration and wasn’t as dominant as I was in the first set.
“But, you know, I stayed composed and I tried to get it back.  So a little bit of not good serving in the second.  But, I mean, you have to go through a little bit of tough moments sometimes, too. ”

Azarenka will face Czech Iveta Benesova next.


Azarenka was angry with herself for needing five match points to closew out the match and for running out of challenges before she need to review a line call in the final game.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Murray Books Spot in Third Round of Australian Open; Kvitova Struggles but Survives


MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – World No. 4 Andy Murray booked his place in the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-4 6-4 win over Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Thursday.

“I served well today,” said the Scot. ” Obviously got off to a better start here.  He struggled at the beginning, and I was making a lot of balls.  He made quite a few mistakes.

“Then I thought towards the end of the second set, beginning of the third especially, he started playing much better.  He was taking the ball early, trying to come to the net, made it difficult.
“But I served well and didn’t give him any chances, so was happy. ”

Murray commentted on hitting 41 winners in the victory, “I hit the ball better tonight.  Probably eight or nine of them were volleys up at the net.  Won quite a few points coming forward knocking volleys off.
“Yeah, like I said, because I served well, I set the point up with my first serve pretty well.  Got quite a few short replies off of that.  “Served a few aces, too.  That was probably why I hit more winners.
“The unforced errors were down.  Often the guy who hits pretty much ‑‑ 90%, 95% of the time, the guy who hits the least unforced errors wins the match.  That’s important as well.”

Murray will face another Frenchman, Michael Llodra, in the third round.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori had to rally to win against Australia’s Matthew Ebden3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in Margaret Court Arena while 19th seed  Viktor Troicki was stopped by Mikhail Kukushin 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Richard Gasque,, the 17th seed, moved on when his opponent Andrey Golubev retired in the third set with an abdominal strain.

In ladies action, No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova survived a major test from Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 2-6 6-4.”I mean, it was very important match to have like this in this tournament. It’s good that I through and I have won, said Kvitova.

“I mean, she played very well in the second set. It was very tough for me to get back in the third. I mean, yeah, she was very, very good opponent. I mean, you know, she beat here Venus and she’s playing very well.”

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Djokovic into the Third Round of Australian Open


MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – World No. 1 Novak Djokovic rallied from an early break of serve to capture eight consecutive games to topple Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to make his way into the third round of the Australian Open On Thursday.

“A win is a win, you know, however it comes to you, noted the Serbian.  “I try obviously to not underestimate any opponents in early rounds.  This is a Grand Slam, the most prestigious ‑‑ one of the four most prestigious tournaments in our sport, and everybody has a lot of motivation to perform their best, especially on the center court, on the big stage.

“Santiago came out early hitting the ball quite flat.  But I knew that, you know, sooner or later he’s going to drop the rhythm and I just have to hang in there.  I’ve done a good job.”

Up next for the defending champion, is Frenchman Nicolas Mahut who fell to John Isner in the longest tennis match in history at Wimbledon in 2010. Djokovic is on a 16-match win streak in majors dating back to Wimbledon 2011.

Fifth seed David Ferrer of Spain had to battle past American Ryan Sweeting 6-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has advanced with a win over Ricardo Mello 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. He said that he is happy with the victory,” It’s always good to win.  So I’m still in the tournament and I have a third round to play now.”

Tsonga went on to try and explain why he plays well in Melbourne. “Maybe the condition are good for me.  It’s pretty warm.  The surface also ‑‑ you know, it’s not really quick, not really fast.  So maybe it’s good for my game.”

Canadian and 23 rd seed Milos Raonic needed four sets to drop Germany’s Philipp Petzschner 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

I didn’t serve too well,” said Raonic, but I managed to take care of my serve, which is the most important part.  He was doing a good thing.  My goal was to make him hit a lot of volleys when “he came in.  He was doing a good thing there.  I was struggling a little bit, I don’t know why, when I was running forward.  I don’t know why I was struggling exactly.
“At the beginning he started with the volleying.  He started well and just put a lot more pressure on me because I know he can play really well.  My goal was really just to stick with him till I get my opportunities.

“I felt like I was getting a lot of even games, like 30‑All or 15‑All.  I was really the one letting it slip up too many times so I was quite frustrated with it.”

Also advancing to the third round from the top half of the draw so far on Thursday were No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, Federico Gil who upset 26th seed Marcel Granollers,  and No 27 Juan Ignacio Chela.  Frenchman Michael Llodra upset 32nd seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Serena Williams Notches 500th Career Win, Advances to Third Round of Australian Open

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during a training session in Medellin November 23, 2011. Williams will play an exhibition tennis match against her sister Venus in Medellin this week. REUTERS /Albeiro Lopera (COLOMBIA – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)



MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Serena Williams defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4 on Thursday. Not only, did Williams extend her 16 match winning streak i9n Melbourne Park, she gained her 500th career victory. Williams won the Australian Open in 2009 and ’10 but couldn’t play in 2011 due to injury.

Williams  gave the crowd a scare when she fell on the court  just before the end of the match. “It’s fine. I just have wobbly ankles,” she said in a TV interview after the match. “I wasn’t meant to be a ballerina or anything.”

“There was no extra pain, Williams told media her post-match interview in the media center.  “It was fine.  I twisted it.  But it’s all taped up, so the tape really, really helped.”

Williams reflected on her 5ooth win, “It’s great.  I haven’t even thought about it.  It’s like the ultimate.  It’s really, really cool.  The first thing I asked, of course, Is there anyone that achieved a thousand?  I guess not.  I never will get there either.

“But it’s really cool.  500 is a lot of matches to play, let alone to win, so it’s pretty cool.”

“Yeah, my target is just to keep going.  I never even thought about 500 till I got to Australia and realized after Brisbane I was at 498.  So then I was like, Oh, I definitely want to get to 500.  I knew I was going to get to 500 sooner or later.
“Now I don’t know what the next milestone is.”

Williams will be playing with Andy Roddick in the mixed doubles and she commented on the team drawing the top seeded team of  Kveta Peschke and Mike Bryan of in the first round.

“I heard about it” said Williams.  “It’s a tough draw in the first round.  We’re always up for a challenge.”

As for talking strategy with Roddick. “A little bit.  Like yesterday I texted Andy and he said, What side do you want to play?  I was like, Oh, yeah, we forgot to discuss that.”

” We’re looking forward to it.  It’s going to be fun.  Why not start out with the best?”

Williams is set to face the winner of Dominika Cibulkova and Greta Arn.