2014/10/26

Semifinals set at WTA Finals while Serena Williams clinches year-end No. 1

 

By Stephanie Neppl

 

(October 24, 2014) SINGAPORE – Semifinal berths and the year-end WTA No. 1 ranking were on the line as the last round of WTA Finals round-robin play began on Friday.

 

Many scenarios existed to see who would be playing in Saturday’s semifinals, with just Simona Halep having already secured her spot. In the end, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams would complete the semifinal line-up.

 

Here’s how the day’s matches unfolded:

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Sharapova had to beat Radwanska in straight sets to keep her hopes alive to advance to the semifinals. The two had a messy start to the match as both hit a fair share of errors as they settled in. Sharapova broke first to go up 2-1, but couldn’t consolidate as both players struggled to find their consistency.

 

Break points were frequent, and it was Sharapova who would get a critical break at 4-4 to serve out the first set. Up 5-4, the Russian was broken after saving three break points so the set was level again at 5-5. But three winners in the next game helped Sharapova break again and she served out the set on her second try, 7-5.

 

The second set looked to be quick for the world No. 2, who raised her game and Radwanska looked resigned to the loss. Sharapova went up 5-1 and had two match points on the Pole’s serve to clinch a straight set win. From that stage, Radwanska started playing solid tennis and she broke Sharapova’s serve twice to get herself back in the match at 5-5.

 

Sharapova twice served for the match, but never reached match point on her own serve. The set eventually went to a tiebreaker, and the momentum was still on Radwanska’s side. She was able to nose ahead in the tiebreak as Sharapova errors kept her behind the whole way. Down 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the Russian double faulted to end her chances to advance to the semifinals. By dropping the set, Sharapova was eliminated from the WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams clinched year-end #1 for the fourth time.

 

Despite letting the second set slip away, Sharapova was able to regroup and broke Radwanska twice in the third set to win the last four games for the 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win to end her season with a victory.

 

Sharapova said after the match that she was happy to end the tournament with a win. “I just really wanted to win this match. I had so many chances and it was just not the way that I wanted to go out in the tournament. That was my goal no matter how physical the match or how tough it was to lose that second set was, I wanted to win it.”

 

[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki had already qualified for the semifinals, but she took on Kvitova with the chance to finish 3-0 and finish atop the White Group. Kvitova needed to win the match in order to move on the semifinals, or else Radwanska was in.

 

Kvitova got off to a solid start, breaking early for a 2-1 lead. But Wozniacki was hitting freely and much more aggressively than usual, most likely due to the fact she had already advanced to the semifinals. The Dane reeled off five straight games to take the first set, 6-2.

 

The Czech, who admitted that she was feeling “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week, showed she wasn’t going away and her huge groundstrokes helped her race out to a 2-0 lead. But it all fell apart again for Kvitova, and Wozniacki’s defense and consistency helped her get a key break at 4-3, and she served out the match for a 6-2, 6-3 win.

 

The victory meant Kvitova, known for her indoor tennis prowess, was out of the 2014 WTA Finals with a 1-2 record and Radwanska finished second in the White Group.

 

Wozniacki finished atop the White Group and said it’s been a great week so far in Singapore. “It’s been a great week. I think I have nothing to complain about. Great tennis and some good wins. It’s just been really nice. You know, I’ve been playing some really good tennis, and today I think is one of the best matches I’ve ever play.”

 

[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)

The final round-robin singles match was full of intrigue, as the fate of world No. 1 Serena Williams’ standing at the tournament rested on Simona Halep. If Ivanovic managed to defeat Halep in straight sets, Williams was out and Ivanovic would be in the WTA Finals semifinals for the first time since 2007.

 

It all seemed to be going Halep’s, and Williams’, way in the first set. Halep jumped out to a 5-2, double break lead and served for the set. From that stage, she lost four straight games as Ivanovic became more aggressive and many Halep backhands, her best shot, repeatedly found the net.

 

Halep steadied the ship to hold serve down 5-6 and the two engaged in a tense tiebreak. Ivanovic took a 5-2 lead but a forehand error and double fault helped Halep level it at 5-5. The Romanian had a set point up 6-5, but hit a forehand into the net. Ivanovic then hit a backhand long up set point at 7-6 before she managed to grab another set point with a forehand winner and she sealed her first set comeback as she won the tiebreak, 9-7.

 

The second set moved along similarly to the first set, with Halep showing no signs of giving anything but her all in the match. She again led 4-1 before handing the break back while serving at 4-2. But this time, the Romanian would not relent, and she broke at 4-3 and served out the set at love.

 

With the loss of a set, Ivanovic would no longer advance to the semifinal stage, meaning Williams was in. But the Serbian fought hard in the third and broke to go up 5-3 in an effort to end her 2014 season with a win. She served out the match at love to take it 7-6 (7) 3-6 6-3.

 

Ivanovic admitted her disappointment that she did not advance to Saturday’s semifinals. “Yeah, it’s mixed emotions obviously because I feel like it was such a great match tonight, yet it’s such a low not to be able to qualify for the semifinals. Still, on a positive note I won two matches, finished the season with a victory. It’s been amazing year for me.“

 

So, the semifinals will be Williams against Wozniacki and Halep versus Radwanska. Williams leads the head to head 9-1, while Halep leads hers 4-2.

 

RESULTS – OCTOBER 24, 2014
Singles – Round Robin – Red Group
[7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d [4] Simona Halep (Romania) 76(7) 36 63

Final Standings
1) Simona Halep 2-1 (.714 sets)
2) Serena Williams 2-1 (.667 sets)
3) Ana Ivanovic 2-1 (.537 sets)
4) Eugenie Bouchard 0-3

Round Robin – White Group
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) d [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 75 67(4) 62
[8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 62 63

Final Standings
1) Caroline Wozniacki 3-0
2) Agnieszka Radwanska 1-2 (.479 sets)
3) Maria Sharapova 1-2 (.464 sets)
4) Petra Kvitova 1-2 (.431 sets)

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia) d [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / R Vinci (Italy) 21 ret.

Saturday’s schedule:

Centre Court – 12:00 pm Start

[2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (CHN) vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)

Not before 2:30 pm

(1) Serena Wiliams vs. (8) Caroline Wozniacki

 

Not before 6:00 pm

(4) Simona Halep vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska

[3] Cara Black (Zimbabwe)/Sania Mirza (India) vs. Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

 

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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WTA Finals race to the semifinals heats up; Halep first through

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 23, 2014) SINGAPORE – With three round robin singles matches on tap for Thursday, it was a full-day of at action at the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.
[6] Agniezska Radwanska (Poland) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Wozniacki battled her good friend Radwanska and ended on the good side of a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 match. Radwanska struck early, going up 2-0, but the pair traded breaks back and forth in the first set, and the crowd was treated to many long rallies and crafty play, especially by Radwanska.

The Pole led 3-1, but Wozniacki was able to pull even at 3-3 and the two held serve until the Dane was able to get a break at 5-5. The quality of play got better as the set progressed with Radwanka’s ability to place the ball paired against Wozniack’s great defense. At 5-5, Wozniacki got more aggressive on her returns and was able to break and she held her own serve at 6-5 to take the first set.

In the second set, Radwanska’s groundstrokes continued to let her down, and it was Wozniacki who broke at 3-3 and won the final three games to secure a second round robin win.

“I think it was really tough match overall,” Wozniacki said after the match. “I just kept fighting for every point. There was some ridiculous shot making there at times.”

Radwanska agreed that the crowd witnessed some great tennis, but said for her it was not enough. “Well, I think of course it was couple of amazing rallies and of course couple amazing shots as well. But just not enough, I guess, in that match. I think those shots and the other shots, it all makes good match. But I think I think I just needed some more good serves as well in that match.”

[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
After both losing their opening matches, Sharapova and Kvitova met with a lot on the line for each to stay in contention for the semifinals. Sharapova had won the past five matches against the Czech, who had last beaten the Russian back in the 2011 Wimbledon final.

It seemed that trend would continue as a pumped up Sharapova broke to start the match as Kvitova was missing her shots.

But in the blink of an eye, Kvitova took over the match. She reeled off five straight games and threatened to hand Sharapova a moral bagel. Down 5-2, Sharapova finally held serve but she could not contain Kvitova’s huge serving as she closed out the first set, 6-3.

In the second set, the crowd waited for Sharapova to find her way back in the match, but Kvitova hit winner after winner. Up 5-0 and serving for the match, Sharapova broke her opponent to deny a bagel set, but down 1-5 Sharapova she would face two match points. Kvitova missed her return on both points, and the Russian held on for a second game in the set. But it wasn’t enough, and Kvitova closed out the match on her second try, 6-3, 6-2.

Kvitova admitted later in her news conference that she was “tired and sick of tennis for a moment” after her loss to Radwanska earlier in the week. “So I didn’t practice today as all and I just really relaxed and clean my mind a little bit. I knew that I have a game to beat Maria. So everything what I did today was really good, and I’m glad that I beat her and I have still a chance to go in semifinal.”

Sharapova said that she didn’t feel as sharp in the match as she has against Kvitova in the past. “She served really well. Not fast, but found her spots really well,’ she said. “But I just don’t feel that I reacted as well in her bigger shots. She’s someone that likes to play aggressive and hit the ball, and very deep as well. She countered my shots extremely well and I was just never ready for the next ball. That made it quite difficult for me.”

To advance to the semifinals, Sharapova’s only hope is to win straight sets as well as Wozniacki winning in straight sets.

[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)

With every game counting toward Williams’ race to advance to the semifinals and try to hold onto her #1 ranking, she faced Bouchard for the first time since 2013 Cincinnati 2012, when the American battled for a three-set win in their only previous match.

Bouchard has had a standout season, but since reaching the Wimbledon final her record was a lowly 8-8 leading into her final round-robin match.

Williams was coming off her worst loss since 1998, and she put memories of that match behind her with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Bouchard. The Canadian quickly went down 0-40 in her first service game but would hold. From then, Williams was far too strong and she won 11 straight games before Bouchard knew what hit her. She could save face by holding serve to get on the board in the second set, but Williams served out the match in her first try for the 58-minute victory.

The world No. 1 said she had to get over her 6-0, 6-2 loss to Halep on Wednesday in order to be ready for today’s match. “I was really disappointed in my play yesterday. I tried, but it didn’t work out for me. I don’t really recover well from losses, but I had a really long talk with Patrick. He just was, you know, telling me what I needed to do and how to get over it.”

The loss to Williams meant an end to Bouchard’s season, and she said she enjoyed the experience in Singapore despite her 0-3 record. “Yeah, it’s been fun. Definitely a unique experience compared to any other tournament, one I would love to come back it in the future. Definitely disappointed with my play this whole week, but I feel like I can do so much better. That’s a positive I can take out of it as well.”

Williams must await the result of the Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic’s match to see whether or not she will advance to the semifinals.

But the world No. 1 said her fate actually rests on herself. “If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better,” she said. “So whatever happens, happens at this time. I did the best that I could do this week. I should have thought about that sooner.”

2014 WTA Finals Scenarios

Friday is the final day of round robin play in singles, and the last first round doubles match will take place at night following singles.

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
[2] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs [6] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
[3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs [8] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[4] Simona Halep (Romania) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
[1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Slovenia)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Wozniacki wins thriller over Sharapova at WTA Finals

Wozniacki in press

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 21, 2014) SINGAPORE – Day one of the 2014 BNP Paribas WTA Finals featured two relatively tidy straight set wins, and play ended by 10:30pm local time.

But day two was anything but straightforward. At 10:30pm Tuesday night, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki were in the early stages of the third set of their match, which had turned into a marathon.

Fittingly the Dane, who is preparing to run in next month’s New York Marathon, pulled out the 3-hour, 13-minute battle that ended just before 11pm local time. The final score: 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-2.

Both players returned to the WTA Finals after an absence. Second seed Sharapova was back after a shoulder injury forced her to miss the event in 2013, while Wozniacki had not qualified for the tournament since 2011 when she was the #1 player on the WTA.

Though Sharapova led the head to head 5-3 before Tuesday’s match, it was Woznaicki who claimed the last victory at the US Open when she won a three-set thriller on her way to the final.

The Dane struck first in the match, racing out to a 3-0 lead. But Sharapova overcame a pair of double faults to get on the board at 3-1 and was able to then break and level the set at 3-3. Sharapova pulled ahead for the first time as she broke to go up 5-4 but two double faults when serving for the set helped hand the break back to Wozniacki. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, and again Sharapova took a lead which she could not keep. Wozniacki battled back from a 2-4 deficit and won five straight points to take the tiebreak 7-6 (4).

The match looked to be going well and truly in Wozniacki’s favor as the second set progressed. She broke and took a 2-0 lead, and up 3-1 threatened to break again before Sharapova held on for 3-2. While serving at 3-2, an issue with the stadium lights bothered Wozniacki and she ended up being broken as the set leveled at 3-3.

With the drama intensifying, Wozniacki resettled to break again and hold for a 5-3 lead and inch closer to her first win at the WTA Finals since a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over Agnieszka Radwanska in 2011.

Wozniacki served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but could not close out Sharapova, who broke for 5-5 and then held for a 6-5 lead. The next game was full of drama. Wozniacki had two game points to send the match to a tiebreak but failed, and then a Sharapova shot was called in my the linesperson. The Dane had no challenges remaining and she was furious with the call, which was later determined well wide, and it gave Maria a set point. Woznaicki would hold on to force a second tiebreak as the match clock was already at 2 hours, 38 minutes.

The tiebreak was a fairly messy affair, with errors flowing off both players’ racquets. Sharapova went up 3-0 but saw Wozniacki claw her way back into the set to level at 3-3. But the Russian would not be denied and she pulled out the tiebreak, 7-5.

The third set went much quicker, as the Dane broke early as she had in both previous sets. Though Sharapova broke back and held for 2-2, the Russian looked drained and she would lose the final four games and with those, the match.

The win marked only the second time in Wozniacki’s career that she has defeated a WTA top two opponent (her first was against then No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the 2010 WTA Finals).

Wozniacki was pleased to get another hard-fought win over Sharapova.

“I think the first match is always difficult. You have to find your ground out there. I’m just happy to be through,” she said. “ You know, we work so hard physically, and so we’re ready for anything.”

Sharapova, who hit 15 double faults and 76 unforced errors, rued her missed opportunities. “She was the more consistent one” she said. “I felt like I had opportunities in the first set; I didn’t commit to finishing it off when I was serving for it, when I was up in the tiebreaker. You know, it turned into a much tougher match than I feel like it should have been. But I feel like I did that. I can only blame myself for that.”

The doubles draw was held on Tuesday morning, and the 8-team, single-elimination event starts on Wednesday.

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014
CENTRE COURT start 1:30 pm
Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) & Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) vs [4] Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) & Elena Vesnina (Russia)

Not Before 4:00 pm
[1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [4] Simona Halep (Romania)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[5] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) vs [7] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
Garbine Muguruza (Spain) & Carla Suárez Navarro (Spain) vs [2] Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei) & Peng Shuai  (China)
Tracy Austin (USA) & Marion Bartoli (France) vs Iva Majoli (Croatia) & Martina Navratilova (US

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

wtafinals

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 20, 2014) SINGAPORE – With the top eight WTA players in the world taking center stage in Singapore at the WTA Finals, there’s no such thing as an easy match. But the tournament certainly started off with a bang as top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams took on Ana Ivanovic Monday night.

The debut match of the tournament was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd. Following an opening ceremony that featured WTA Finals ambassador Li Na serving the ceremonial first serve of the event (donning high heels no less), the crowd roared as Williams and Ivanovic took to the court.

The Serbian, back in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2008, dealt Williams her first grand-slam blow of 2014 at the Australian Open with a 4th round win. Since then, the two have played three more times, with the American coming out on top but two of the three battles went deep into third sets before Williams prevailed.

Ivanovic has had one of her best seasons on tour this year, and her return to the Top 10 was accompanied by four titles and 56 total wins, the best on tour.

Heading into the match, Williams boasted a 15-match winning streak at this event. With concerns about her left knee hanging overhead, the world No. 1 faced a pair of break points in her opening service game, but saved both with aces. After a tough hold to start, Williams settled in and quickly took a 4-1 lead as Ivanovic struggled with her serve.

But after holding for 2-4, Ivanovic broke Williams at love, and then leveled the match at 4-4. An energetic crowd watched as the Serbian had a break point that would give her a chance to serve for the first set, but Williams held on. Serving to stay in the set, Ivanovic threw in two double faults, including one down set point, and Williams broke for a 6-4 lead.

Ivanovic immediately broke the Williams serve in the second set, partially due to two double faults by Williams, but she was broken straight back. Each player then held serve until 5-4, when Ivanovic served to stay in the match. Just as in the first set, Ivanovic could not withstand the pressure and she was broken to give Williams the 6-4, 6-4 win and her 16th straight WTA Finals match victory.

Ivanovic was plagued by double faults all night, and she tossed in seven during the match and said later she felt she was rushing her serve. “She was putting a lot of pressure on my serve,” Ivanovic said. “She served really well today I thought and created more pressure on my service game. I didn’t feel my rhythm, so I was trying to make more first serves.”

Williams’ serve, on the flip side, was firing. She hit 12 aces overall, giving her 430 for the season, the most of any player on the WTA Tour. “I was pleased with my serve,” Williams said after the match. “Ana is a very aggressive returner, and I went really hard at my second serve.”

The world No. 1 played without her left knee strapped, and she said it felt much better. “Compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” Williams said. “I’m getting better, which is great.”

The win helps Williams’ chance of wrapping up the WTA year-end No. 1 spot, and now Sharapova will need to reach the final with a 2-1 record or win the title to have a chance to take away the top spot.

In the second match, Simona Halep won the battle of the WTA Finals newcomers over Genie Bouchard, with a tidy 6-2, 6-3 win. Halep raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and even had a point for a 5-0, triple break lead before Bouchard held to get on the board at 1-4. After clinching the first set 6-2, Halep broke early in the second and held on to wrap up the 6-2, 6-3 victory. Bouchard hit 30 errors and 5 double faults in the match.

Tuesday’s schedule features Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki, followed by Petra Kvitova against Agnieszka Radwanska.

ORDER OF PLAY – October 21, 2014

Singapore Indoor Stadium – Start 5:30 pm

Rising Stars Final

Rising Stars Final – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) vs Zheng SaiSai (China)

Not before 7:30 pm

(2) Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs (8) Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

(3) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Notes and Quotes: The WTA Top 8 Meet the Press in Singapore

Elite 8

Photo taken from the twitter feed of Maria Sharapova

 

(October 19, 2014) The elite 8 of women’s tennis met the media on Sunday in advance of the WTA Finals which begin on Monday in Singapore. Here are a few notable quotables.

 

Serena Williams responding to Shamil Tarpischev’s comments:

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpishev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

How important is the year‑end No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: “I definitely would be here if I already had it locked up. It’s obviously super important for me. I love being No. 1; I love being the best.

“But at this at the same time, I’m really glad that I was able to get a slam this year, which was really annoying for me that I wasn’t able to capture one.

That was something that was super, super, super important, especially for the goals that I was trying to reach.”

 

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: “Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.

“That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.

“Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.

If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

And the pic of the night…:) pic.twitter.com/x9t3ajMTb1

— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) October 18, 2014

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maria Sharapova was asked about why she tweeted the behind the scenes photo from the draw ceremony.

“Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.

“Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

 

Petra Kvitova was asked about if it feels different to be a Wimbledon winner the second time around.

“It is different. I think that you can’t really know what to expect from that. Just the time show you what you have to do and change in your life probably.

“I mean, I didn’t want to change myself, but of course the things around me was different, so I need to handle it and try to do best what I can.

“The pressure was there of course on the court, off the court as well. I thought that probably I need to win every match and every tournament I’m playing after that, so it’s not really possible.

“Yeah, this time it’s much more easier for me, if I can say that. I know what I can expect and I know a little bit how to deal with that. It’s not really like the first time, so…

“I’m more relaxed and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Agnieszka Radwanska – Queen of the “Hot Shot.” The World No. was asked about her favorite shot that she hit.

“Well, of course it wasn’t that tricky as last year. Well, I have still few matches, so maybe I will do it here.

“I think I really liked that shot from Montreal from the semifinal. The overhead backhand. Maybe someone remember that.

“I think that was my favorite one, especially because it was a really big moment.

 

Ana Ivanovic- embracing Twitter and Istagram. The 2008 French Open winner and former world No. 1 was asked if she has embraced stardom and if it was due to social media and if it has impacted her on court.

That’s why I started Twitter and Instagram actually. Because I ‑‑ like I spoke just now, before I really felt like I changed also in this sense because I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I matured. It helped me to be okay with myself and who I am as a person and to embrace everything that comes with the job that I do.

“For me, I really struggled to be in the spotlight. It was really strange when I won French Open, when I was No. 1 in the world. It took me some time to accept this and to be okay.

“Now I actually enjoy it. That’s why I think it shows on and off the court I’m much more relaxed because I’m much more content with myself.”

 

What Serena has taught Eugenie Bouchard?

“I’ve learned many things. I think one thing that sticks out is that when it’s not going well, you can seeing her really try to calm herself down. She does her little hand thing, and that really symbolizes in my head she’s really trying to stay calm.

“Even someone as good as her has tough moments, and you can see her struggle with emotions a bit on the court. But she can always kind of collect herself and put it in the past and move forward.

“So I always imagine that, and I’m like, You know what? Serena can stay calm, I can stay calm.

 

Caroline Wozniacki – Not looking at the rankings. In a topsy turvy last couple of years for the two-time year-end No. 1, the Dane talks about the rankings.

“I never really looked at the rankings, but I definitely totally stopped when I went down to 18. I’m like, This is depressing. I don’t want to be down here.

“At the end of day, I just told myself, Doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 18. At the end of the day, you have to compete with the same players. A lot of girls play so well now so it’s never easy. I just thought if I play well, the ranking will come back up soon.

“I started playing well, I started finding my form, and then the ranking just came up really quickly.”

 

The recently retired Li Na was asked about having second thoughts about calling it quits:

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32; beginning of the year I already 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now, because last 32 years I was try hard as I can on tennis court.

“Now, you know, tennis is part of the life, so now I have to take care my family.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Singapore this week covering the WTA Finals. Follow on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Three-Peats at US Open for 18th Grand Slam Title

 

(September 7, 2014) Serena Williams won her third straight US Open, sixth overall for her 18th major title by defeating tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 in 75 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

“It feels great,” Williams said. “I never thought I would have won this one six times, because I won Australian five times and Wimbledon five times. I think I only won the Open like three times; now it jumped to six.”

When she’s on her game it’s not fun to play her,” said the 24-year-old Dane . “You know, she’s so strong. She has a good serve and she puts pressure on you straightaway. You know, today I went out there and I was a little nervous. I had a game plan in mind, but it was kind of difficult at the start. I tried to push her back, but that really didn’t work for me. She really just stepped in and she was playing aggressive. She was playing better than me today.”

Williams won the tournament without losing a set.

Williams is now tied with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova at fourth on the all-time major titles list.

“Number 18. I have been trying to reach it for so long, since last year.” Williams said. “Well, since the beginning of the year. I didn’t really think would I get there. I just felt so good.”

“It means a lot to me. You know, I just could never have imagined that I would be mentioned with Chris Evert or with Martina Navratilova, because I was just a kid with a dream and a racquet. Living in Compton, you know, this never happened before. You know, I just never could have imagined that it could have ended — not ended. I’m just beginning. Well, I’m not beginning, but I could have gotten this far, you know. So it was just — I think it was — and then it was eluding me for three tournaments, I guess. But, still that’s a lot for me. I was like, you know, really excited to get it.”

Turning 33 in 19 days, Williams is the second-oldest player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era after 33-year-old 1990 Wimbledon champion Navratilova.

Williams, who did not win any majors this year coming into the US Open she had no expectations.

“My goal was just to get past the third round, maybe the fourth round, because it was just really difficult for me in the majors, said the 33-year-old. “My goal was just to win some matches.”

She has now also equaled Evert’s 6 US Open titles won. Williams leads all active players in tournament wins with 63.

Williams and Wozniacki are good friends off the court and the Dane talked about their relationship.

“When you’re out there — we’re both competitors and we both want to win, so we’re both going to do anything possible to win the match. You know, after the match we’re friends again. You know, it’s tennis. It’s a game. But off the court we’re still — we still care equally as much about each other. It doesn’t really change.”

“It’s definitely not easy,” Williams said, “but I think we both wanted to win this. We both wanted to do the best that we could. And like I say, I’ve play against (sister) Venus, so I think that helped me a lot to be able to — if I can play against her, I can really handle anything at this point.”

“Think her results and her career says it all: 18 Grand Slam titles,” Wozniacki said. “You don’t get that unless you’re exceptional in what you do. You know, she is one of the greatest of all time. You know, to have 18 Grand Slam titles and still be the person she is is really something very rare. You know, I admire her both on and off the court. I definitely think when Serena is on her game there’s not much we can do. So, you know, I think that’s why she has so many titles that she has.”

The No. 1 player earned a record $4 million dollars for the win, $3 million for the title, plus a $1 million bonus for having won the US Open Series Bonus Challenge.

Asked what she plans to do with her prize money, Williams said: “Well, I have a really good uncle that I love a lot. I always say this. His name is Uncle Sam. I think I’m going to give him a lot of it.”

 

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Peng Retires in Match; Wozinacki and Williams Move into US Open Women’s Final

 

(September 5, 2014) China’s Shuai Peng, appearing to have cramps clutched her right knee and limped her way over to the back wall of the court in tears while receiving serve from 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who was up 7-6(1), 4-3, 30-40.

At the wall, a trainer, a tournament official, a security guard and a ballperson ran to Peng’s side to help her. After about a ten minute period, which included Peng being taken off court for evaluation and being treated for heat illness, she resumed play. Points later she collapsed to the ground and retired from the match, advancing Wozniacki to her second major final.

Peng was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

In her news conference hours later, Peng said she felt fine.

“I think it was the physical because today is really humid and hot,” said the 28-year-old, ranked 39th. “And then like my body is not like from like — maybe I got from I parents when I’m born. It’s not like the strong, my physical like everything. So also from like what I does in the practice and just the lot of fitness and then try to improve with everything.”

“I said, `No, no, no. I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time,'” said Peng, when she  had to retire. “I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.”

“It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court,” the 10th seed Wozniacki said. “You know, tennis is great, but the health is more important. You know, to see her struggling out there, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I got the word that she’s okay now and just getting cooled down, so that’s great to hear. I’m in the finals, which is obviously great. It’s been five years for me since my last one here, so I’m extremely happy to be back there.”

The 24-year-old Dane lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open in 2009.

The other semifinal had very little drama as No. 1 Serena Williams ran away with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. For Williams this will be her third straight US Open final. She’s looking to three-peat and win her sixth US Open crown on Sunday.

 

“I’m just really excited to be in the final,” the 32-year-old said. In the beginning of the week I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’m just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”

“I think I played pretty well today. You know, I was able to change up my game and just keep moving forward and just keep doing what I could do today.”

Williams evaluated her match-up with Wozniacki: I” definitely expect another close match. She really knows my game well and knows how to play. She’s so consistent. I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning — the past six months I would never thought I’d be here. I think it’s just staying calm and happy.”

Williams is seeking her 18th major on Sunday which would tie her on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Christ Evert.

 

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Wozniacki Tops Sharapova, Simon Stuns No. 4 Seed Ferrer at US Open

Wozniacki in press

(August 31, 2014) Caroline Wozniacki in the midst of training for the New York City marathon, used her strength and stamina to stop No. 5 Maria Sharapova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in 2 hours, 37 minutes to reach her first major quarterfinal in over two years.

“Well, it means a lot to me,” the Dane said of the win. “You know, the season for me has been a little bit up and down, and it’s so nice to kind of start feeling like I’m playing the way I want to. You know, this hard court season has been amazing for me. I actually started already feeling really good on court since Eastbourne. I have just been building on my game since then. You know, today I just kept thinking to myself, Just stay in there. Try and take the initiative. It was really hard. The wind was blowing a lot from one side of the court. So you kind of had to, you know, adapt a lot.”

“It was quite a long match,” Sharapova commented. “Yeah, making a long story short, I felt like in the end of the first set made a few sloppy errors to lose that first set in the end. Was happy with the way I turned things around and started playing a bit more aggressive. Got in the points with her. In the third set I stopped doing that. Allowed her to get back in those long points, long rallies, and ultimately went for the shots that created errors.

I thought she played really well,” the Russian continued. “She made me hit a lot of balls. That’s always been her strength. But she did extremely well today. She’s a great retriever, especially in these types of conditions. I just felt like I maybe went for a little too much.”

Wozniacki will take on Sara Errani for place in the semis.

 

 

 

 

No. 4 seed David Ferrer became the first major casualty on the men’s side of the draw at the US Open on Sunday when the Spaniard lost to Frenchman Gilles Simon, the 26th seed 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.

“It was tough match today,” Ferrer said. “There is a lot of humidity, very sun, and it was not easy for me. I was not good with my fitness. Nothing else, no? He was better.”
Ferrer, known for his steadiness had whopping 52 unforced errors. Ferrer is the only man’s top 10 player no longer in the draw, while, have of the top 10 women are already gone.

Asked if he was disappointed with his performance Ferrer said: “I am okay. It’s one match of my career. Don’t worry. Now we have couple of weeks to rest, to stay in home. Nothing else. Enjoy with my family.”

“Gilles is very consistent player; he was top 10 in 2008. He’s a really good player.”

“It was really, really difficult to play today,” Simon said. “I feel it was one of the hardest days for me on the court because it was hot and it was so humid. I never sweat like this in the last ten years, I feel. So it was really difficult. Plus, I was not really prepared because everyone was talking about the cooler day with maybe some rain. I didn’t see it. So, yeah, to play David in this condition is really demanding physically. At one point I was really tired. I felt it would be difficult. But then I had more energy; I felt he was in trouble, also. I mean, it’s not very often that him and me are tired like this just after two hours, but I feel we run a lot and, one more time, the conditions were tough.”

Going into Sunday, none of the top 10 men’s seeds had lost, in contrast to the women’s side, which had lost half of the top 10.

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A Former Number One Faces an Uphill Climb

Wozniacki-001

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 20, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Caroline Wozniacki lost to Camila Giorgi in the second round of the Connecticut Open, 6-4, 6-2. Giorgi, a hard-hitting Italian player, used a strong serve and aggressive groundstrokes to keep Wozniacki on her heels from the start of the match. Wozniacki dropped serve in the opening game, and failed to convert two break points in the second game, her only break opportunities of the day. Giorgi, who also ushered Wozniacki out of the 2013 U.S. Open, gave no rhythm, going for broke on almost all of her shots. It was a decisive loss for Wozniacki in the venue of her most dominant performances.

 

It was only three years ago, August 2011, that Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 in the world, holding that spot for all but one week of the previous 10 months. She was in the process of winning her fourth consecutive Connecticut Open, and had won seven other titles over the last twelve months. Aside from the growing criticism about her failure to win a Grand Slam event, she was on top of the world. Preparing for the 2011 U.S. Open, Caroline liked her chances: “Well, definitely I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. I’m on a good roll. I’m looking forward to the Open next week.”

 

But there were signs of rust in Wozniacki’s game. In July 2011, she had to retire from a second round Swedish Open match against Sofia Arvidsson. Following that, she suffered back-to-back opening round losses for the first time in two years, losing to Roberta Vinci in Toronto and Christina McHale in Cincinnati. Wozniacki’s downward slide had begun. After beating Petra Cetkovska to defend her New Haven title, it would be over a year before her next title in Seoul, Korea, September 2012. She began losing to lower-ranked players, such as Tamira Paszek and Irena-Camelia Begu. In the process, she would tumble from No. 1 to No. 11.

 

Her struggles continued in 2013 through Wimbledon 2014. She made sporadic appearances in­­­­ finals and semifinals, usually at smaller events. Her record against Top Ten players was a dismal 2-9. She hired and dismissed a couple of different coaches during that period, while retaining father Piotr as a primary coach. Her personal life was fodder for the tabloids, culminating in a broken engagement in May.

 

But something clicked after Wimbledon this past June. She won the Istanbul Cup in July, her first title in nine months. She reached the quarterfinals in Montreal, taking world No. 1 Serena Williams deep in a three set loss. The following week in Cincinnati, she defeated Top Ten players (Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska) in back-to-back matches for the first time since the WTA Tour Championships in October 2010. Cincinnati provided another tight three set battle against Williams, this time in the semifinals. Heading into the Connecticut Open, Wozniacki assessed her form: “My confidence is high. I feel like I’ve played really well, I’ve had some good wins and I’ve had a lot of matches, which is great leading up to the Open.”

 

The result in New Haven, long considered Wozniacki’s home away from home, is a half-step back. Wozniacki was disappointed with the loss, and that she could never get into the match. But she wouldn’t let one match result derail her successful summer results, and is expecting success at the U.S. Open.

 

In other play Wednesday at the Connecticut Open, 2011 U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur easily dismissed a hobbled Genie Bouchard. Bouchard, the third seed, had her left thigh wrapped, and could never make an impression on the Stosur serve, falling 6-2, 6-2… Kristen Flipkens won a see-saw battle over Andrea Petkovic, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. Petkovic served for the match twice in the second set, Flipkens was up a break through most of the third set, but it all came down to a third set tiebreak. When Petkovic saved three match points to even the tiebreak at 6-6, Flipkens held her nerve. A successful serve and volley on match point puts her in the quarterfinals against Stosur… Next for Camila Giorgi is Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza, best known for her dismissal of Serena Williams in the 2014 French Open, came from a break down in the third set to win over Shuai Peng, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

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

RESULTS – AUGUST 20, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [3] E Bouchard (CAN) 62 62
C Giorgi (ITA) d [4] C Wozniacki (DEN) 64 62
G Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] S Peng (CHN) 62 36 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [WC] A Petkovic (GER) 46 76(4) 76(6)

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) d [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) 76(4) 16 10-8
A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) 63 26 10-6

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs A Riske (USA)
WTA – C Giorgi (ITA) vs G Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) vs [WC] S Stosur (AUS)
Men’s Legends – J Blake (USA) vs A Roddick (USA)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 pm
WTA – [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU)

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Former U.S. Open Champ Tries to Recapture Form at Connecticut Open

 

By Jack Cunniff

(August 18, 2014) NEW HAVEN – It has been a tough summer for Samantha Stosur. The Australian, who won the U.S. Open Ladies Singles Championship in 2011, suffered three straight opening round losses in Eastbourne, Wimbledon, and Stanford. The loss in Stanford was a low point, as she fell to a Japanese qualifier, Naomi Osaka, who was ranked outside of the Top 400. As a result of the slump, Stosur’s WTA ranking dropped to No. 25, and she finds herself outside the Top Twenty for the first time in five years. And as a result of her ranking drop, she now enters most events unseeded, facing tougher draws. That scenario played out over the last two weeks when Stosur faced world No. 1 Serena Williams in the second round of both Montreal and Cincinnati.

 

In Cincinnati, Stosur finally showed signs of life. While she lost to Williams in the second round, it was two close tiebreak sets, significantly better than the 6-0, 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Serena the week earlier in Montreal. Encouraged, Stosur took a wild card to The Connecticut Open, the final event leading into the 2014 U.S. Open.

 

In her opening round in New Haven, Stosur battled past a game opponent in Kurumi Nara. Nara is relatively new to the scene. “I never played her before, never seen her hit a ball, to be honest with you,” Stosur admitted after the match. But the Japanese player has had recent success, reaching the finals of Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, propelling her to a career high ranking of No. 32, not that far from Stosur’s own ranking. It was an up and down match: Nara grabbed an early lead, Stosur came from a 1-5 deficit to win the first set, Stosur lost match point opportunities in the second set, and finally took hold of the match in the final set. Stosur was happy to come through with the win. “Anytime you can battle through a match like that, it’s great for your confidence and belief… you can’t work on those things in practice.”

 

Like Montreal and Cincinnati, the road in New Haven gets much tougher for Stosur in the second round. Genie Bouchard, the Canadian success story who has risen to No. 8 in the world with her Wimbledon runner-up result, awaits. Stosur beat Bouchard in a tournament final in Japan last October, but they have been on separate paths since then. Stosur acknowledged the battle ahead against Bouchard: “She’s obviously improved a lot in the last ten or twelve months, and (she’s) putting consistent results together especially in grand slams. Two semis [Australian and French Opens] and a final [Wimbledon], you’re doing something well.” A win over Bouchard would be the best win for Stosur over the last 12 months, and could put her back on the road to the Top Twenty.

Around the grounds… Four time New Haven champ Caroline Wozniacki overcame a slow start to defeat Timea Bacsinszky, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2… Bouchard nabbed her first win since Wimbledon, crushing Bojana Jovanovski, 6-1, 6-1… Caroline Garcia of France lost in the final round of qualifying, but advanced to the main draw when the No. 8 seed, Carla Suarez Navarro, withdrew with a gastrointestinal ailment. Garcia’s first round opponent? Irina-Cameila Begu, who defeated her in qualifying. Garcia turned the tables, winning 7-6, 7-6… Sara Errani, seeded No. 7, became the first seed to tumble, losing to Garbine Muguruza, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

 

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

RESULTS – AUGUST 18, 2014
Women’s
Singles – First Round

[3] E Bouchard (CAN) d B Jovanovski (SRB) 61 61
[4] C Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] T Bacsinszky (SUI) 46 61 62
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) d [5] [WC] D Cibulkova (SVK) 76(2) 63
G Muguruza (ESP) d [7] S Errani (ITA) 62 36 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 63
[Q] S Peng (CHN) d E Svitolina (UKR) 64 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [Q] M Doi (JPN) 63 46 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d K Nara (JPN) 76(5) 67(10) 62
[LL] C Garcia (FRA) d [Q] I Begu (ROU) 76(4) 76(4)
B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 64 57 63

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

[5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) d S Peer (ISR) / K Piter (POL) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d A Groenefeld (GER) / K Koukalova (CZE) 60 57 14-12
C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL) 76(3) 61

USONP
Men’s
Singles
Championship – Finals

[1] S Singh (IND) d [2] J Dadamo (USA) 62 62

USONP
Women’s
Singles
Championship – Finals

C Whoriskey (USA) d M Gordon (USA) 26 62 61

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2014
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
WTA – A Riske (USA) vs [6] F Pennetta (ITA)
WTA – [LL] C Garcia (FRA) vs B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
WTA – [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) vs [WC] N Gibbs (USA) / G Min (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [1] S Halep (ROU) vs M Rybarikova (SVK)
WTA – E Makarova (RUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)

GRANDSTAND start 2:00 pm
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs K Pliskova (CZE) / K Pliskova (CZE)
WTA – G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

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