2014/09/02

Flipkens No Fluke

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

By Jack Cunniff

(August 21, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Samantha Stosur continued to improve her 2014 form with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Kirsten Flipkens in the Connecticut Open. It was a competitive match throughout, with Stosur pulling ahead at the end by capturing the final three games. But she had her hands full with Flipkens. The 28-year-old Belgian is a rarity on the WTA Tour, a player who relies on change of pace and placement, frequently looking to end points at the net. She has a solid serve, that troubled Stosur most of the evening, and is dangerous from all places on the court. Flipkens, best known as a 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, has struggled through the majority of 2014. Her solid play in New Haven shows that Flipkens is no fluke, and will continue to be a tough opponent for the top players.

 

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters put women’s tennis on the map for Belgium. As they began their success in the pro ranks, Flipkens was right behind, winning the Junior Girls titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003. Results on the pro tour did not come immediately. Her career was beset by injuries, although she achieved moderate success to earn a career-high ranking of No. 59 in June, 2010. Her lowest point came in April, 2012. Diagnosed with blood clots in her calf, she was forced off the tour for two months. Shortly after, the Flemish Tennis Foundation pulled their funding for Flipkens. Her ranking dropped to No. 262, too low to enter Wimbledon qualifying. Flipkens was able to play qualifying for the Wimbledon grass court warmup in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and she made the most of it. She qualified then reached the semifinals without dropping a set. Along the way, she defeated Roberta Vinci and Stosur.

 

This was the spark Flipkens needed. She won two ITF tournaments in the summer of 2012, then qualified for the U.S. Open before falling to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round. After the U.S. Open, she won her first WTA event in Quebec City, defeating four Top Sixty players. Throughout this period, without the support of her federation, Flipkens was on her own with no coach, no hitting partners, and no on-site support system. She relied on support from her home base, including her good friend Clijsters.

 

After Quebec City, Flipkens was on a roll. In her next four events, she reached two semifinals and one quarterfinal. At the 2013 Australian Open, she reached the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time. Strong results continued, and her ranking was No. 20 entering Wimbledon. The next two weeks at the All England Club were the pinnacle of her career, culminating in a quarterfinal Wimbledon win over the 2011 champion Kvitova. A few weeks later, a win over Venus Williams in Toronto pushed her ranking to No. 13, which remains a career high.

 

This year has not been as successful for Flipkens. Her best result remains a semifinal in Auckland, the opening event of 2014. Her defeat of No. 19 Petkovic in the second round of the Connecticut Open was her best win of the year, and three sets against an in-form Stosur shows that she’s not ready to fade from view quite yet.

 

Around the grounds… It was a rematch of the Wimbledon quarterfinal between Petra Kvitiova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with the same result. Kvitova was down a break early, but swept through ten of the last eleven games to advance 6-4, 6-1… Magdalena Rybarikova withstood a second set 6-0 drubbing at the hands of American Allison Riske, and reached the semifinals 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Riske battled throughout the third set, but three double faults in the sixth game didn’t help her cause… Camila Giorgi wasn’t as dominant in the quarterfinals, as she dropped serve six times in her match against Garbine Muguruza. But the Italian played her game of all-court aggression to reach her second semifinal of the year, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 21, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[2] P Kvitova (CZE) d B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 64 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d A Riske (USA) 75 06 64
C Giorgi (ITA) d G Muguruza (ESP) 64 67(4) 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) 63 46 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) 76(2) 64
M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) 16 75 10-7

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs C Giorgi (ITA)
WTA – D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) vs A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] S Stosur (AUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

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Wozniacki Earns a Hard Fought Victory Over Giorgi

Caroline Wozniacki

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 19, 2014) EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND – Tiebreak. Set point to Camila Giorgi. One serve to seal it all off. A slick, defense-splitting backhand crosscourt from Caroline Wozniacki‘s racquet followed, bouncing squarely on the line and sending the Italian speeding off as a canyon of a gap was left fit for a bus to power through. But just before the Dane made contact with the second blow, a stutter of a “corr-” blazed through the mic.

 

Mayhem. Chaos. The abruptness of the pause, the word “correction” sliced into one syllable of unspeakable horror, had the dramatic effect of the umpire slapping a hand to her mouth in brazen shock. This mistake from the usually spotless Alison Hughes was the equal of all fifty-odd Giorgi unforced errors, and everyone knew it. As Wozniacki marched up to the helpless umpire to let her have it, a shout from one of the few younger people populating the crowd: “Give her beef, Caroline!”

 

Well, in this match there was beef and there was chicken and there was pork and an assortment of salads, too. All dramatic and nothing bland. In the very next set, with the score on serve and Giorgi up 4-3, a man collapsed in the fairly average British heat. It happens surprisingly often – spectators taken ill in the midst of a battle. But this was different. As the man lay there in plain view of it all before eventually being transported out of the arena, play was suspended as both women marched off court before eventually returning a period later and warming up all over again.

I could hear ‑‑ there was some noises to start off with, and I could see them carrying him to the stairs,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “Then I just saw him lying there for maybe 10 minutes. […] “(We stopped because) he was still lying ‑‑ we could see him still, and I think there was going to be a lot of things happening. Obviously a life is more important than the tennis.”

 

There was some good tennis, though. Giorgi, with her unflinchingly aggressive game, pounded out backhand winners and stormed the net with an urgency of a madwoman chasing the last bus. Wozniacki was stifled as usual, but she served exemplary throughout and came up with a couple of wonderful shots. There too was plenty of poor, substandardness. Wozniacki’s usual passivity and poor, depthless forehands were omnipresent as usual. Meanwhile, Giorgi also pounded out forehand and backhand errors alike. Worst of all, though, was her single-minded unrepentant aggression that hit its peak on return. Despite her struggling to time every last return and the bounded off her racket exclusively late, she continued to stand acres inside the baseline and was offered hoards of free gifts on return to Wozniacki as if it was her birthday.

Back at 6-5 in the first set tiebreak, the madness continued. The point was eventually replayed and a spot of justice peeked from the clouds of injustice. The Italian had been laughing at fate all match, all career, powering down laughably reckless serves over 105 miles-per-hour and more. On the replayed set point, fate had the last laugh as a double fault reeled off Giorgi’s strings. Well long. Wozniacki responded with a fist pump, Giorgi responded by demolishing a ball straight into the crowd and she may or may not have hit a spectator in the face. A warning flew her way, but she eventually won the set before the final two sets fell the Dane’s way. The win for Wozniacki set up a semi-final with Angelique Kerber, an easy victor over Ekaterina Makarova. On the other side, Heather Watson benefitted from Petra Kvitova’s withdrawal to become the first British Eastbourne semi-finalist in 32 years.

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Aegon International for Tennis Panorama News. He is a freelance tennis writer for various publications, and also writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.

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Defending Champion Maria Sharapova Falls to Qualifier Camila Giorgi at Indian Wells

Camila Giorgi

Camila Giorgi

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Qualifier Camila Giorgi stunned defending BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the third round on Monday. The win marked the first time that the 22 year-old Italian ranked at 79th in the world wan a match over a top five player. For Sharapova it was her first loss to someone ranked below the top 30 since 2013 Wimbledon.

It was very far from a clean match from the Russian who committed 58 unforced errors to Giorgi’s 48 and hit 9 double-faults to the Italian’s 11. There were a total of 15 breaks of serve during the match.

“I did not play a good match at all, and, you know, I started very poorly,” Sharapova said.  “Never played against her, but she’s someone that doesn’t give you much rhythm.  She’s quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time.  Sometimes they go off a bit.

“But, you know, if I’m speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been.”

“It was really good match,” Giorgi said.  “I think so.  I mean, wasn’t too consistent, but was great.”

“It was good because I was in the point in a good moment.  It was really important even, but just in the third set was really important to do it, so I was happy.’

“When I’m in the court I don’t think about the crowd,” Giorgi said answering a questions about her possible nerves during the match.  I just try to play my game and just keep going.

“If something, even if I miss, I just still going.  I’m going my game.  I don’t change it.”

Sharapova fh

Sharapova despite all of the errors, still had chances to win. At 4-4 in the final set the Russian was broken over a disputed line call. Her shot was called long and she raised her arms, which the chair umpire thought was a challenge, which showed the ball as out. Sharapova debated with the umpire and questioned who made the out call. The umpire disagreed and Sharapova was broken.

“Just because I heard the call from her box rather than from the line judge first, which wasn’t right at the beginning,” Sharapova said.  “Then I asked her why that happened and she thought I challenged the ball, which I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call.

“Then she went with it and I had no challenges left.  It’s not a big deal, but, I mean, I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call.  I’m not sure why she wouldn’t believe me if I wasn’t challenging it actually.  But I guess I was giving, you know, the hand gesture just because I had the out call from the sidelines rather than from the line judge.

“She says that the crowd has nothing to do with the match.  And, yes, he did call the ball out before the line judge did, but that’s just external interference and that has nothing to do.  Just have to keep playing, which is fine.

“And then she thought by doing that I was challenging the call, so…”

As for her opponent, Sharapova said: “I think if she played at this level for a consistent period of time I don’t think she’d be a qualifier here.  I think that’s pretty obvious for everyone in this room.

“But that’s the thing with tennis, is that ‑‑ and I have said it so many times ‑‑ you’ve got to bring this type of tennis when you’re playing on center court or when you’re playing on Court 18.  And especially when you’re just moving up and when you’re just getting that confidence and you’re playing well in Grand Slams, you’ve got to back it up.

“It’s a big challenge.  It really is.  Consistency is a big factor.  But if she keeps it up, I mean, if she can play like that on a consistent basis, I mean, she will be a good player.”

Giorgi also commented about her consistency in order for her to be a seeded player at events down the line.

“I think so I need to keep going, to play tournaments and be more consistent, to play more, because last year wasn’t like this for problems, injury.

“But I think is more important to play many matches and get to be with these kind of matches that will help lot to my game.

“I was trying to just play my game, and maybe I accelerate more than the other set.  I just play more aggressive.  I think this was the point.”

Sharapova will see her ranking fall to No. 7 and possibly to No. 8 if Petra Kvitova makes the quarterfinals.

Giorgi will play countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in the round of 16.

More to follow…..

 

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Italy Sweeps USA on Day 1 of Fed Cup to Take 2-0 Lead

DSCN0505

By Steve Fogleman

(February 8, 2014) CLEVELAND – Team Italy blanked the USA on Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 2-0 lead in Fed Cup first round action.

Christina McHale played a horrendous first set, ceding second serves to Karin Knapp. Knapp’s powerful backhand threatened to make the match a runaway for the Italian. McHale settled down in the second and broke twice to level the score at 6-4.

The ultimate result was a big bang for Italy with a victory by Karin Knapp in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. McHale ran her Fed Cup career record to 5-3 with the loss.

After the match, McHale admitted that “by giving her that lead she really relaxed and started playing much better.”

The Italian team was especially loud and supportive. Karin Knapp acknowledged that she feeds off of them and predicted that they would feed off of her win.

“We are not a lot, but we are loud. They helped me”, she said.  “They gave me confidence”.

“If I get the point, maybe Camila goes on the court a little relaxed.”

Maybe you’re right, Karin Knapp.

As predicted by Knapp, Camila Giorgi did come out relaxed…and focused.

Giorgi thrashed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-1, notching a victory for the Italian in her first Fed Cup rubber. Keys seemed to be confused and having one of those days, and she was unable to hold serve on a regular basis.

Giorgi said it did help her composure knowing that her nation was already on the board before she hit her first ball in a Fed Cup.

Keys summed it up best. “She was playing amazingly. I can only control so many things. Great job to her today”, she said.

The Americans are now in danger of losing a fourth straight tie to the Italian team dating back ten years. They’re 0-10 in ties where they’ve started with a pair of singles losses.

But US Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has every reason to believe that this team, at least on paper, should have a realistic shot at pulling a sweep of their own tomorrow. I agree.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

 

Video Bonus:
Fed Cup Cleveland: Better Than the Winter Olympics

 

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Roberta Vinci Beats Camila Giorgi and Rain to Make US Open Quarterfinals Along with Countrywoman Flavia Pennetta

Roberta-Vinci1

(September 2, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – One women’s quarterfinal will have a pair of Italians squaring off against each other. Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta advanced to the US Open quarterfinals on Monday after straight set victories.

Vinci, the 10th seed, beat countrywoman qualifier Camila Giorgi, who upset sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 in 67 minutes. also beating the 4 and a half hour rain delay.

“I’m happy,” said the 30-year-old Vinci.“ I knew that it was a tough match.  She played good.  She play always strong, flat, and I knew that I had to play ‑‑ I have to change a lot of my focus.”

Vinci said that she knows that at 30, she’s not young, but she enjoys playing. “I’m happy, and I try to stay focused every single day,” she said.

Her 21-year-old opponent Giorgi who came into the tournament ranked at 136, reflected on the match:” I think it wasn’t my day.”

“Was two great weeks coming back from two months without playing, so I’m happy I came back to play.

“And I played really good level.  Now I will still keep going and play more tournaments.”

No. 83 Pennetta was on the brink of losing the second set, against Simona Halep who had a set point as the rains came. After the rain delay the Italian recovered to beat No. 21 from Romania 6-2, 7-6 (3).

“Of course, this place for me, it’s special,” Pennetta said.  “But I can tell you the first day, when I played the first match, I didn’t expect to be here today.”

For the 31-year-old Pennetta she advanced to her first major semifinal since 2011. Vinci made the quarterfinals of the US Open last year where she lost to countrywoman Sara Errani.

“I think is going to be just a really tough match for both of us,” Pennetta said of her match with Vinci. We know each other really well.  I know her since I think 20 years or more because we live almost in the same place.  Just 35, 45 kilometer my house from her house.

“So is going to be really I think nice for us because one of us is going to have the chance to be in the semifinal.  In the other way, it’s always not easy to play with your friend.  But she do it yesterday and the day before with Knapp, I did it with Sara the second day, so we used to that and we try to play just tennis and then that’s it.”

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Qualifier Camila Giorgi Beats Sixth Seed Caroline Wozniacki to Earn Place in the US Open Round of 16

 

2011 USTA WomenÕs $50,000 Challenger at the Home Depot Center, Carson, CA. Giorgi

(August 31, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Qualifier Camila Giorgi of Italy sent home former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki to reach the fourth round of the US Open 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Giorgi, ranked at No. 173 before the tournament, played more aggressively, took risks which paid off with 46 winners to 13 for Wozniacki.

“Just when the ball came, just hit the ball in the corners,” said Giorgi of her tactics.

Giorgi took some time off the tour to rest up from injuries. The  nine months passed, you can count because I was injured was playing every tournament injury, so then I stopped for two months after Wimbledon this year.”

“My first goal was to be in the top 100 and then to get back the confidence, because when you’re not playing tournaments, I mean, you don’t have this rhythm of the matches, so it’s not easy.”

“I had many break point opportunities in the second I didn’t take,” explained Wozniacki. “All of a sudden she came into the rhythm and just started hitting everything and it was starting to go in.

“She put me under pressure and I started to play a little short, and then all of a sudden she was all over the ball.”

The Italian Giorgi is the first woman qualifier to reach the fourth round of the US Open since Anna-Lena Groenefeld did it back in 2008

Giorgi will play another Italian in the fourth round in No. 10 Roberta Vinci. Giogi also made the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year.

“This(win) helps a lot to my confidence, and I hope to stay like this for the last week,” Giorgi said.

“If she was playing like this every time, then, you know, obviously her ranking would go up,” Wozniacki said.  “If she learns to control her pace like she did today, then, you know, I think she has a bright future.”

 

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