September 2, 2015

Serena Williams Advances Easily While Fourth Seed Nishikori Falls on Day 1 of US Open

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff6

(August 31, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Last year’s US Open men’s finalist and fourth seed Kei Nishikori lost in the first round on Monday while several women’s seeds tumbled out on the first day of Flushing Meadows.

No such drama for the No. 1 seed Serena Williams seeking the US Open to complete a calendar Grand Slam. She moved a step closer to history with an easy win over 86th ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia who retired from the match trailing 6-0, 2-0. She said that she felt a sharp pain hitting a backhand during a point.

“It was definitely different and bizarre,” the 33-year-old Williams said. “But at the same time, I was still focused. I kept thinking: Just stay focused; don’t lose it. You never know what can happen.”

Williams march to completing the first Grand Slam since 1988 seems to have been made easier when a deluge of seeds from her half of the draw lost. They included: No. 3 Maria Sharapova who withdrew on Sunday with an injured right leg, No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 21 Jelena Jankovic, No. 29 Sloane Stephens (who beat Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2013) and No. 30 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 21-time major champion will play the Netherlands Kiki Bertens. “I think she’s playing well, Williams said. “She does a lot of things well. She has a big serve. It’s definitely something that I look forward to. See what happens.”

“I’m not a person that usually looks at the draws,” Williams said. “I just take it as it comes and as it goes.”

Kei Nishikori was the only shock on the men’s side when the fourth seed fell to France’s Benoit Paire Nishikori’s 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite having two match points in the fourth set tiebreak.

“It’s very sad to lose always first round, but I think he was playing good tennis,” Nishikori said. “So, I mean, I don’t think I played bad. Didn’t play great, but still, it’s never easy first match. He’s a good player.

“You know, try to think about next one, and I hope I can come back strong next year.”

“Today for me, when I come on court I know I can beat Nishikori,” Paire said. “I place twice time; I lost two time, but very tough match.

“So when I come on the court, I say, come on. You can beat Kei. He has a game — it’s not like if I play against Roger Federer. For me it’s different because he has good serve.

“Against Kei I know I can play, and for sure some volleys. For me it’s important because I know I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I say, Okay, for sure you can break him.

“So the most important thing is to feel good and to have fun. I think today that’s the most important thing.”

The man Nishikori lost to in last year’s final had few problems in his 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 win.

“I think this tournament is giving me the best chance to play the best over here,” Marin Cilic said. Even before last year, in the past years I was always playing pretty well and reached few times quarterfinals. Even in those matches had some chances. Close to making it to the semis.

“Coming this year again is definitely very special moment for me in my whole career. This experience of, you know, defending the Grand Slam title for the first time is something that I’m going to learn for sure a lot from.”

No. 1 Novak Djokovic destroyed  Brazil’s Joao Souza 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in 71 minutes.

“I couldn’t ask for a better opening of this year’s US Open,” Djokovic said.” Hopefully I can continue in that rhythm.”

Sixteenth seed Gael Monfils retired from his match with a back against Illya Marchenko while trailing 2-6, 6-4, 5-0, 30-0.

Eighth seed Rafael Nadal, playing in the Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2013, beat teenager Borna Coric 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in second night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Very happy to be back,” Nadal said, “and to be through.”

“I think I played great. The first two sets I played a very high level of tennis. Seriously, then I get a little bit tired. I had some problems. I was sweating a lot. I lost little bit — you know, I don’t feel enough strong after that, no?

“I had little bit of stomach problem so I felt not perfect, physically perfect then.

“But then in the fourth I recovered little bit. I played again more aggressive. Finally was important victory for me. Happy the way that I played when I was, you know, physically good.”

RESULTS – AUGUST 31, 2015
Women’s
Singles – First Round

(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 60 20 retired (Left ankle injury)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (7) Ana Ivanovic 63 36 63
(Q) Anna Tatishvili (USA) d. (8) Karolina Pliskova 62 61
Denisa Allertova (CZE) d. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 61 76(5)
(12) Belinda Bencic (SUI) d. Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) 61 62
(13) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Teliana Pereira (BRA) 63 63
(15) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 62 63
(17) Elina Svitolina (UKR) d. (Q) Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS) 61 64
(18) Madison Keys (USA) d. Klara Koukalova (CZE) 62 64
(WC) Oceane Dodin (FRA) d. (21) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 26 75 63
(23) Venus Williams (USA) d. Monica Puig (PUR) 64 67(7) 63
(25) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d. Alison Riske (USA) 64 63
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d. (29) Sloane Stephens (USA) 64 63
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. (30) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 63 75
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 64 75
(Q) Kiki Bertens (NED) d. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 36 64 62
(WC) Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) d. (Q) Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 64 63
Tereza Smitkova (CZE) d. Andreea Mitu (ROU) 76(4) 62
Magda Linette (POL) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 76(3) 61
Misaki Doi (JPN) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 63
Irina Falconi (USA) d. (WC) Samantha Crawford (USA) 64 62
(Q) Anett Kontaveit (EST) d. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 75 62
Madison Brengle (USA) d. Saisai Zheng 62 57 75
(LL) Daria Kasatkina (RUS) d. Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 62 46 75
Ana Konjuh (CRO) d. Tatjana Maria (GER) 64 64
Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 62 62
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 61 61
Lauren Davis (USA) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 76(3) 76(0)
Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. Vania King (USA) 64 64
Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) d. (WC) Sofia Kenin (USA) 63 61
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 62 75
(Q) Jessica Pegula (USA) d. Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 75 63

Men’s singles

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] d. Joao Souza (BRA) 61 61 61
Benoit Paire (FRA) d. Kei Nishikori (JPN) [4] 64 36 46 76(6) 64 – saved 2 MP
Marin Cilic (CRO) [9] d. Guido Pella (ARG) 63 76(3) 76(3)
Milos Raonic (CAN) [10] d. Tim Smyczek (USA) 64 76(8) 61
David Goffin (BEL) [14] d. Simone Bolelli (ITA) 64 61 62
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [17] d. Matthew Ebden (AUS) 64 62 64
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) [18] d. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 76(5) 61 63
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [19] d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 63 61 61
Andreas Seppi (ITA) [25] d. Tommy Paul (USA) 64 60 75
Tommy Robredo (ESP) [26] d. Michael Berrer (GER) 62 62 64
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) [27] d. Ryan Shane (USA) 62 61 67(6) 62
Mardy Fish (USA) d. Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 67(5) 63 61 63
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Tommy Haas (GER) 36 61 67(3) 63 61
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 63 63 30 ret.
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) d. John Millman (AUS) 61 36 76(3) 64
Marcel Granollers (ESP) d. Lukas Lacko (SVK) 62 63 61
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) d. Lucas Pouille (FRA) 62 67(3) 62 64
Marsel Ilhan (TUR) d. Radek Stepanek (CZE) 60 26 64 32 ret,
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) d. Joao Sousa (POR) 62 62 46 26 76(4)

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open

 

 

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Paire, Stosur, Thiem, Tsurenko and Tomic Win Tennis Titles This Week

Samantha Stosur

Samantha Stosur

(July 26, 2015) Benoit Paire, Samantha StosurDominik Thiem, Lesia Tsurenko and Bernard Tomic were the singles winners on the tennis tour this weekend.

France’s Paire joined the winner’s circle for the first time, claiming the ATP World Tour title at the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad when he turned back Spain’s Tommy Robredo 7-6(7), 6-3. Paire is the sixth first-time winner on the men’s tour this year.

“It’s a perfect week,” Paire said. “The conditions today were not easy, but I’m really happy to win against Tommy. He’s a very good player. To play against him in the final and to beat him is a dream, so I’m very happy.

“It was a lot of pressure…  I hope it’s not the last one for me.”

Samantha Stosur rallied to win her second WTA title of the year and eighth overall after defeating Karin Knapp of Italy 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the final of the Gastein Ladies on Sunday. The Australian and former US Open champion also won the Strasbourg event back in May.

In a final which featured two unseeded players, Lesia Tsurenko won her first WTA title, besting Urszula Radwanska 7-5, 6-1 to win the Istanbul Cup.

“I’m so happy I could win here and show good tennis,” said the Ukrainian.

“That’s my goal, getting good results and showing good tennis.”

Austria’s Dominik Thiem won his second career ATP World Tour title, besting Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-1 to win the Croatia Open

“Today was very special day,” Thiem said. “We were watched by world’s number one Novak Djokovic,” Thiem said. “Usually he is the one who entertains us with great tennis and today we turned it around.”

“It is really special to win here after playing juniors matches in this stadium,” said Thiem who became the first Austrian to win this title since Thomas Muster did it twenty years ago. “I will have a nice dinner with my friends tonight to celebrate. It won’t be a big party for me as I have to drive eight hours to go to Gstaad tomorrow.”

Second seed Bernard Tomic defended his Claro Open Colombia title in Bogota, beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

“It’s been a very good year,” Tomic said. “I started at No. 70 and am now close to No. 20. It’s been a good seven months. I’ll try to play well the next three months and have the chance to be in the Top 15.

“Every title you remember. I’m very happy to have won my third title and to defend it here was amazing. I’m really happy with myself… This is my most consistent year.”

The 22-year-old Australian, ranked 29th,  is now 9-0 at the tournament.

 

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“The Journey Starts Today” An Interview with Nick Kyrgios

 

(January 17, 2014) MELBOURNE – There were probably few outside of the tightly knit Australian tennis community who knew Nick Kyrgios‘ name before Thursday night. But even devastating cramps did not tempt the 18-year-old to succumb to early defeat, still mustering up the energy – from God knows where – to stick it out to five sets with world No. 28 Benoit Paire.

While Kyrgios may not have won the match, he has won the hearts of thousands of viewers from all around the world and is motivated even more to go from strength to strength.

We caught up with Kyrgios to hear about his Australian Open debut, the transition to pro tour, his inspiration on court and his reaction to fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic‘s retirement from his first round match against Rafael Nadal earlier on in the week.

 

Alana Mitchelson: You must be pretty proud of your performance last night?

Nick Kyrgios: Last night was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my first Grand Slam best-of-five match. It was a bit unfortunate to lose but all credits to him, you know, he outlasted me. He played some really good tennis and I respected him as well. But the crowd was unbelievable. It was an experience that just keeps me motivated to keep improving.

AM: What was going through your mind as you started cramping up?

NK: My body was hurting a little bit towards the end and I knew that I was getting dominated in the last couple of sets. I knew I had to pull out something. But at that time I was just trying to relax and keep my body as efficient as possible so that I wasn’t going to fully cease up. I was good enough to finish the match and I gave it everything I could. That’s all you can do.

 

AM: Was there a reason why you didn’t call for a trainer to maybe have a massage? It might have given your legs a bit of a rest.

NK: That was running through my mind as well. Obviously there are rules, you can’t call for cramps, and I know there are a lot of ways around that but I thought I could have managed it myself and I thought I did everything I could. I don’t think I would have gotten too much out of that because I couldn’t really move my quad at one stage and I couldn’t really bend it or straighten it. So I just kept moving on with the game and it ended up feeling okay towards the end of the fifth set, but it was a bit too late. He had a lot of momentum and he just carried it through.

 

AM: After what happened with Tomic’s match earlier in the week, were you worried about how the crowd would react if you had called a time-out?

NK: I wasn’t thinking about Tomic at all at that stage when I was thinking about throwing the towel in. I was always going to finish the match to the very end no matter what happened out there. But obviously what happened to Bernie’s not ideal. I’m feeling for him. I hope he’s recovering as quick as possible because we need him for the Davis Cup tie coming up.

 

AM: What was your reaction to how the crowd reacted to Tomic retiring?

NK: That’s a tough question. I don’t really know. I’m sure Bernie had a legitimate reason for why he retired. He’s one of the best tennis players we’ve got. I’m sure he would have been feeling something out there, he’s not going to just retire. He loves being on that Rod Laver Arena. He’s played some unbelievable matches there and to have the opportunity to play Rafael Nadal as well, you’re not going to pass it up like that. I’m assuming that something is wrong.

 

AM: What has been your favourite part of this whole experience of playing at your home slam at men’s standard for the first time?

NK: Especially, it being the Australian Open, just playing at home and having your family and your friends and just everybody supporting you and getting behind you. I mean, last night sounded like a Davis Cup tie playing at home. Everybody just went nuts. They were really motivating me and pushing me to bring out some of my top tennis. It’s almost just motivated me to keep playing at this level continuously because it’s what you dream of when you’re a little kid.

 

AM: How have you been coping with being more so in the spotlight and receiving more media attention?

NK: I’m honestly not too fussed by all that stuff. It’s obviously tough having the spotlight on you and a lot of expectation, a lot of pressure. I think you’ve just got to embrace all that. You can’t really block it out because that’s when it starts to get to you. You just embrace it and you do everything you can to work through it. It’s tough when they’re firing questions at you when you’ve lost a five setter over about four hours yesterday, but you can’t let emotions cloud your responses.

 

AM: And your Twitter followers completely skyrocketed last night. What was that like, to just casually glance down at your phone and see you had 14,000 followers overnight?

NK: It was pretty crazy. But my phone’s running pretty slow at the moment. So it’s great that I’m getting all of the support, but my phone doesn’t really work properly right now. But it’s obviously good to have all the support out there and it’s motivating to keep working hard.

 

AM: You’re the only teenager in the top 200. How do you feel playing people who are older and more experienced than yourself? Are you intimidated by that at all? It didn’t seem to worry you last night.

NK: Nah, it’s not intimidating. You don’t really have too much to lose against those top guys. Receiving a wildcard, as well, you have an opportunity to just go out there and have an absolute crack at it. It’s obviously a good feeling being the only teenager in the top 200. All those facts are just motivating to keep going, to really make those top guys known to you.

 

AM: Who on the men’s tour do you have the most respect for?

NK: The most respect? Probably Roger Federer. He’s done an enormous amount for the game and he’s a perfect role model for anyone who does play tennis and who doesn’t play tennis. Just the way he conducts himself on and off the courts, it’s unbelievable the charity work he does. He’s the perfect person.

 

AM: Have you ever had the chance to have a chat to him?

NK: I haven’t had a running conversation with him but I’ve said ‘hi’ to him a couple of times and he’s said ‘hey, how are you?’ and stuff like that but I haven’t really had deep conversations with him.

 

AM: How were you first introduced to tennis?

NK: My mum took me down to the local tennis courts in Canberra, where I’m originally from, and I wasn’t too keen on it at all (laughs). But she just said to have a go and I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun out there and I think that carries on to today. I love having fun out there and really enjoy myself.

 

AM: Can you tell me a bit about your Greek heritage?

NK: My dad’s my Greek side. He was in Greece and he came to Australia in 1957 with his mum. I did a bit of Greek school when I was young but I was just real naughty. I never really did anything in class. That’s why, to this day, I can understand a little of it but I can’t speak it. Probably should’ve listened a bit more in class. It’s really good having such a strong Greek community in Melbourne come out and support me and Thanasi this week and I can’t thank them enough.

 

AM: Can you tell me a bit about your success as a Junior? When you’re playing with all of those other Australian kids across different states and you see just how much talent there is out there, how did you keep motivated to feel you might have a shot at this and to pursue tennis as a career?

NK: Yeah, I think we’re producing a lot of good Junior players in Australia at the moment. We’ve got a lot of guys in the Junior Australian Open as well. We all push each other, we all train together and I think moving from the Junior to the senior ranks is one of the toughest transitions. You’ve just got to stay positive. Tennis can beat you down mentally with all the travel and stuff, so you’ve just got to keep pushing, stay positive and push each other. I think it’s good that we all have each other as well.

 

AM: Like you said, you are going through that transition phase now. For some, it can be a quick process to shoot up in the rankings but for others it can be years and years. So how does that make you feel, knowing it could be next year or it could be 10 years?

NK: Yeah, you can’t really think about it too much like that because that’s sort of frightening. You’ve just got to take it each day at a time. The journey starts today and you’ve only got to worry about what you’re going to do today. You’ve got to get better at something every day I think too. You either take a step forward or you take a step back every day, so you’ve just got to keep bringing the right attitude every day.

 

AM: Is it nice that you and Thanasi Kokkinakis are making this transition into pro tour together?

NK: Yeah, I think having Thanasi there is really good because he’s a close friend as well and when I’m struggling I’ll talk to him or when he’s struggling he’ll talk to me. But we push each other. We’re sort of competing against each other as well. Whenever one of us makes that push, the other one follows. He’s done a great job. He’s really impressed me the last couple of years, especially last year, and he was playing some unbelievable tennis this week as well. It’s not really surprising that he’s doing that, you know, he’s a great player. It’s really good that we’re working together.

 

AM: Do you think there’s a little bit of a rivalry forming there between the two of you? I’m thinking back to the Australian Open Junior final last year and the 18s final before that again.

NK: Yeah, I’m sure there’s a bit of that there as well. That’s completely normal I think. Tennis is an individual sport. You’re going to always want yourself to perform the best. But I think it’s important that we stick together.

 

AM: Who gives you the most inspiration when you’re on the court. Obviously you have a lot of passion within you for the sport but there must be certain people in your life who really inspire you.

NK: Yeah, I think that person is Christos and he’s my brother. He amazes me how positive he is and how much motivation he has. He’s always in the gym pushing himself and he’s always motivating me – always keeping it positive, getting me up for training when I’m struggling for matches. He’s always been there. He’s always been on the side of the court. He was there last night from the start to the end. He’s really that person you described I think.

 

AM: What’s the funniest thing to have ever happened to you on a tennis court?

NK: Oh, probably the funniest thing that happened this week was last night when I saved the set point, second set, and they reckon it was the shot of the tournament so far. The crowd was loving it and I just got the crowd involved. That was probably my best moment because it looked pretty funny on the highlight.

 

AM: Thanks for your time and good luck with everything.

NK: Yeah, no probs. Thank you.

 

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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Nishikori Becomes First Japanese Man in French Open Fourth Round since 1938

Kei Nishikori

(June 1, 2013) With his 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-1 victory over No. 24 Benoit Paire of France on Saturday, 13the seed Kei Nishikori became the first man from Japan to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros since 1938 when Nakano Fumiteru accomplished the feat.

When told about his history-making accomplishment, Nishikori had no idea about the record: “Sorry, I’m not good at the history. “

”I’m happy to create another history and, yeah, happy to break another record.”

During the match there was a bit of controversy when Paire was called for illegal coaching by chair umpire Enric Molina and penalized a point while he had a set point on Nishikori’s serve at 5-4 in the second set. The world No. 13 went on to hold serve.

“For sure, it’s not fair. You see every coach do the same thing,” Paire said. “If it’s the best player in the world, (Molina) doesn’t (give a) warning.”

Nishikori did not see it.

“I didn’t see it, and I didn’t know what’s happening in the match.

“They didn’t explain me, and I didn’t care, said a smiling Nishikori.

“But, you know, I heard what’s happen after the match, and, I mean, I heard it was coaching.  I mean, I didn’t see, you know, how much he did.  I cannot say anything.”

“Other player see the coaches, and it’s not fair to give advice, but I also do, you know, see my coach and just not ‑‑ he’s not going to give me advice, but just to relax or concentrate, “ the Japanese player added.

Nishikori faces the ultimate challenge in his next match when he faces seven-time champion Rafael Nadal for a place in the quarterfinals.

Nishikori is happy to be making progress on the tour since he burst on the tour in 2008, having to deal with a few injuries along the way.

“The last year was getting better.  I was first time to be top 20, and my tennis was changing, you know.  You need a lot of experience to be there, and I try to not doing, you know, crazy mistakes and try to be there all the time.

“That’s something what I’m working on still, so ‑‑ yeah, I had big injury 2009.  I have to pass one year without tennis, and that made little stop.

“But I’m happy to be here now and, yeah, this year is going well for me, so hopefully keep going.”

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