April 29, 2017

Nadal and Federer Reach Quarterfinals, Wawrinka Loses at Miami Open

 

Rafael Nadal

 

(March 28, 2017) On the thirteenth anniversary of the first match they ever played against each other, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer won playing back-to-back matches on stadium court at the Miami Open. Top seed Stan Wawrinka lost on his 32nd birthday on Grandstand to 19-year-old Alexander Zverev.

Fifth seeded Nadal beat Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 7-6(4) to reach the elite eight of Miami.

“It’s a good start of the year, I think, for both of us,” Nadal said about himself and Federer’s 2017. “Obviously, it’s a little bit better for him, but at the same time I’m happy with the way that I am playing, happy with the way that I started the year after a tough second part of the year last year with injuries.

“So I think it’s a positive for both of us that we can still (be) around here and be very competitive almost every week that we are playing.”
The Spaniard, seeking his first Miami title will play American Jack Sock for a place in the semifinals.

“He’s a very aggressive player, very powerful player, big serve, big forehand, and a good backhand, too, no? He plays quick with his backhand.

“So I need to play aggressive. That’s the only way. If I let him play in a comfortable position going to be impossible for me. So I need to be focus with my serve, but at the same time I need to be aggressive.”

Jack Sock

Sock who dismantled countryman Jared Donaldson 6-1, 6-2 talked about playing Nadal:
“I will definitely be looking forward to it, be excited for the battle.

“We played in Beijing couple years ago as well. Lost in three sets. Actually had a decent amount of chances there in the third. Might have even been up a break early or had a lot of break points early in the third.

“Yeah, I played in his backyard a few years ago, the French. He felt very comfortable will. I think we’re both comfortable on clay or hard. Yeah, either way should be a good battle; should be fun.

“I’ll definitely give myself a lot more chance to win this time around than maybe I did a few years ago. I’m 24 years old now and been on tour for a while. I’m playing these matches and hoping I can win and going in believing I can win for sure.”

 

No. 6 seed Roger Federer was pushed hard by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, the 14th seed 7-6(5), 7-6(4). The Spaniard served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken back immediately.
“Look, I felt good overall,” said Federer. “It was a different kind of match. It wasn’t the big-serving match where you’re only going to see so many looks, you know, so when you miss chances you always feel a bit frustrated sometimes. That’s where you got to keep a positive mindset and make the right plays.

“I thought Roberto did a good job of making shots, staying offensive when he could, fending off a lot of good shots that I hit. Then it was tough. The sun was coming from the side in the beginning so it’s hard to chase the lines.

“At the end I’m very happy and pleased that I got it done in straight sets.”

He’ll play Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

Asked about his next match, Federer said: “I wish it’s going to be like the Australian Open, but I know it won’t be like that. Just not reality that you can come in and just beat top 10 guys basically at will.

“I think it’s going to be a tough match. He’s beaten me at the, I don’t know, Olympics, US Open, Wimbledon, in big moments, so I know he can do it.

“Also beat me in Cincinnati once upon a time on the American hard courts. And here, too, saving match points. Looking forward to it.

“He’s also pushing again to get his ranking back up again after dropping a bit, so it’s a big match for him. For me obviously right after Indian Wells I’m trying to keep rolling here.

“Yeah, looking forward to it.”

Federer’s countryman and No. 1 seed, had his birthday spoiled by Germany’s Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

 

Stan Wawrinka

“For sure it’s disappointing match,” said Wawrinka. “That’s for sure.

“I think the level was quite up and down. We were both fighting a little bit in the first set to find good level. Was really humid, not easy to play some great tennis, but we had some long rally.

“Yeah, one bad game to start the second set and then it was tough for me. I don’t know. I completely went down physically and mentally, and also my tennis was completely out.

“I had no more gas.”
The three-time major winner won only ten points in the final set.

Alexander Zverev

“In the first set I felt like I played a little bit still like I should have played against John(Isner),” noted Zverev. “You know, trying to keep the rallies long, the points long.

“But, yeah, I mean, I played well in the second and third. I turned it around a little bit. I had to be aggressive. I felt like he was the one controlling all the points all the time, so I had to change that.

“It worked out well for me. Happy to be in the quarterfinals now. Hopefully I can play as great as I did today after tomorrow as well.”

 

Zverev will play another up-and-comer on the ATP World Tour in 12th seed Nick Kyrgios who beat 8th seed David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-3

 

Kei Nishikori

Last year’s finalist and this year’s No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori, came back from a break down in the final set to beat Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
“Every match is going to be tough from now on,” said Nishikori.

“Well, I tried to stay calm and focus again. I knew I have a lot of chance after losing the set.

“And also, even though was down a break, 2-1, but I was focusing well. I knew if I fight through I will have some chance, so I just tried to concentrate one game at a time.”

Nishikori will play unseeded Fabio Fognini, who beat Donald Young 6-0, 6-4.

More to follow…..

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Roger Federer Beats Juan Martin del Potro at Miami Open

(March 27, 2017) No. 4 seed Roger Federer moved into the fourth round of the Miami Open on Monday afternoon with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 29 seed Juan martin del Potro.

A break in each set secured the victory for the Swiss, the first time he’s played the Argentine since 2013.

“I felt like I was in control and I was able to generate more chances than he did,” noted the world No. 6.

“I mean, a little bit out of nowhere I felt like he got his chances, but maybe because I dropped my level ever so slightly and gave him few easy points, and that’s how he sort of got more chances on my serve.

“So I feel like I earned it more. I was more the aggressor. It was more on my racquet, and I like it that way.

“But, again, if he would’ve broken back in the first and would he have broken back in the second, we might still be playing and things would be very, very different right now.

“I thought it was a good match.”

Juan Martin Del Potro

“Well, it’s not easy play against Roger because he has good forehand, good backhand, slice, dropshot, everything,” said the 2008 U. S. Open champion.

“But think I did my best, and I had chance in both sets and I couldn’t take it. He played well in the break point moments, and I think that was the only difference of the match.”

Federer will match up against 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Sam Querrey.

“I respect Bautista Agut a lot,” Federer said. “He competes so well point for point, day in day out, and he plays ton of tournaments, and he’s really just match tough.”

“I have a really good record against Roberto. I hope I can use my variation to really make him feel uncomfortable.

“Looking forward to backing it up tomorrow now. It’s not something I’m actually used to, playing back-to-back days. So I hope my body is going to be fine tomorrow.

“That’s why definitely it was key also today not to waste too much energy.”

Alexander Zverev saved three match points to defeat John Isner 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-6(5).

In a battle between two former Miami Open champions, No. 11 seed Venus Williams defeated seventh seed Svetlanta Kuznetsova 6-3, 7-6(4). Williams saved two set points in the second set.

Angelique Kerber

No. 1 Angelique Kerber has reached the elite 8 in Miami. The two-time major champion beat Risa Ozaki 6-2, 6-2.

Caroline Wozniacki is also in the the quarters. Garbine Muguruza retired after the first set after feeling dizzy and having stomach pain.

Wozniacki, the 12th seed, will play former French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, who stunned fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6, 6-1.

Third seed Simona Halep avoided the upset, coming back from a set, 2-5 and a match point to beat Samantha Stosur. Also moving into the quarterfainls were 10th seed Johanna Konta and 26th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Karolina Pliskova

In an all-Czech battle, Karolina Pliskova beat occasional doubles Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-4.

 

More to follow

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Vesnina Stops Venus Williams to Reach BNP Paribas Open Semifinals

Venus Williams

 

(March 16, 2017) Elena Vesnina fought off six break points in the final game to defeat 12th seed Venus Williams 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday in Indian Wells.

“I’m in the semifinal of BNP Indian Wells tournament, one of the biggest Masters Series tournament.,” noted Vesnina. “I guess I’m on fire. I’m enjoying myself on the court, and I’m really happy with my wins here.

“This win today against Venus really means a lot for me. It’s never easy to play against her. She’s a great champion and always fighting till the end.

“I’m really happy that I pulled this win.”

Vesnina came into the match after having beaten No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Vesnina talked about Venus Williams’ impact on the sport of tennis: “She’s a great example of how you can love tennis. You know, for so many years, she brings so much passion and love to this game.

“She’s coming and giving everything, you know. She’s always fighting, always enjoying, smiling. You know, you can see she’s, like, little girl on the court, actually, enjoying more than half of the WTA Tour. And we have to learn from her, you know, how she’s appreciating what she’s doing.

“I think maybe it came to her maybe kind of few years ago. Maybe when she was young she was a bit different, but now she’s totally enjoying herself and she’s, like, inspiring everybody around her, you know, her and Serena, as well. Because really what they bring to the tennis, to the woman’s tennis, is just amazing.”

“It’s never fun to fall short. But, you know, I gave my all, ” said Williams.

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100%, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

“Work is important and, you know, satisfying work is a big part of life, and it is satisfying. Days like today are frustrating when I want to do more and can’t do more or didn’t do more.

“But it’s wonderful to be able to live my dream and work is — you know, I try to separate it from my regular life, but it’s sort of one and the same. Of course I look at the bigger picture and realize there is more important things than the yellow ball, but it’s pretty up there.”

The Russian, seeded 14th will play the Frenchwoman, No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the final. Mladenovic beat Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

“Kiki is having a great season,” said Vesnina. “She’s on fire. She won her first maiden title in St. Petersburg and then she made final in Acapulco. I think now she beat two top 10 players on the way to the semifinal.

“So definitely she’s having a great season. It’s going to be tough match. She’s upcoming player. We played couple of times, but two, three years ago, and totally different story now.

“So we will see. I need to think how I need to play against her, because I have couple of thoughts on my mind. She’s a great doubles player, as well. You know, so she’s kind of player on all the court, you know. She can come into the net. She’s using the dropshots, slices.

“So it’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells.”

 

Mladenovic, who will move into the Top 20 next week discussed the match in her news conference: “Caroline is a top player, former World No. 1. She’s also in very great shape. I mean, she had a very good start of the season, as well, won lots of matches.

“We played three times before today, and I always lost, especially that final in Hong Kong at the end of last year was very painful for me, like, very frustrating. I thought I was playing well that entire week and, in the final, I was just kind of exhausted and injured. And still, it was, like, a very long battle there. If I’m not wrong, it was almost three hours.

“Today I was just, like, okay, today I’m feeling good. When I woke up, I’m like, nothing is hurting. I’m good. I’m not injured. I was happy about that. I was, like, I want to give a fight there and have no regrets.

“I wanted to take my revenge, of course. It was not easy. Again, it was a tough battle and tough conditions. We played, yeah, two hours and a half. I didn’t start well at all the match.

“I thought, you know, when you lost three times against a player, it means that something is wrong and that you, like, don’t really like her game.

“But I was not playing good, but still I felt like I needed adjustments, actually. It’s first time for me playing on that huge stadium and conditions and everything. I just stayed actually very positive and composed, because I was out there battling with myself first, I think, because I wanted kind of too much, you know. That was all about.

“Then, yeah, I was just fighting mentally to find adjustment and to be close with her at the scoreboard, and eventually I got my chances. And I think I played really well the tiebreak.

“Yeah, I went for my game. I went for some variation. I think I played differently at some point, you know, trying to use more the court to make her run, as well. Because she was doing that pretty well to me. And also put some slices in my game, dropshots.

“And something new I put today was the serve and volley on such important points (smiling). I impress myself kind of (smiling). I was, Okay, great. What I’m gonna do now?

“Because every time I would serve good on the backhand, she would go, like, very deep and return well. I was, like, Okay, let’s just be creative here.

“And it paid off, and it gave me a chance to fight a third set. I think the third set was the best game of today for me.”

There were 11 breaks of serve in this match and Wozniacki regretted missing chances.

“I didn’t take some of my opportunities in the third set. I didn’t break her when I had the opportunity. I didn’t hold when I had the opportunity and, all of sudden, those games kind of slipped away.

“And she had some big forehands when she needed to and then, all of a sudden, I see myself down 5-2, and it could maybe have been different.”

Mladenovic will be the No. 1 French women player when the next rankings come out.

The other women’s semifinal will feature No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In men’s action, a pair of “Pablos” squared off for a place in the final four.

No. 21 Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain saved two match points to beat 27th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

“It’s my first time in the semifinal in a Masters 1000, but here in Indian Wells is — you know, for me, this tournament is one of the best, not just the Masters 1000, one of the best tournaments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, because all the people is playing here, all the top 20,” said the Spaniard.

“So I think it’s a really great result for me.”

“Always with Cuevas– with Pablo is I need to be very focused on my game, very aggressive, because his second serve or his kick, you know, the ball is bounce a lot. So I need to be aggressive and I need to dominate the points, because he’s really dangerous with his forehand.”

Stan Wawrinka

Carreno Busta will play No. 3 Stan Wawrinka who defeated No. 8 Dominic Thiem in the semifinals 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2).

“I’m really happy,” said Wawrinka. “Again, tiebreak. The level was really high tonight. I’m really happy the way I was playing, the way I find a way to win it. He’s a strong player, really tough to play. I think in general we play both really high level, and the match was only one, two points.

“I think in the third set tiebreak I served really well. I was really focused to not give him anything. And, again, it’s a great win for me.”

“I think it’s a little bit experience, a little bit the confidence, a little bit thinking about what you want to do and just do it without thinking if you’re gonna miss or no.

“I think in those moments you need to trust your game and that’s what I did well. I was playing well. I could have lose the match, for sure. But, in general, I try to stay focused with my game, with my game plan, and don’t give in anything.

“I know also that’s when I play good tennis. I can beat anybody. So that’s give me a lot of confidence.”

 

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Venus Williams Battles Back from Brink, Wozniacki calls Wildcards given to Sharapova “Disrespectful” to Other Players and Keys Posts First Win of 2017

 

Venus Williams

(March 11, 2017) In a battle between two former No. 1 players, Venus Williams rallied from 6-1, 4-1 down, saving three match points in the second set to beat Jelena Jankovic 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 at the BNP Paribas Open at India Wells on Saturday to reach the third round.

The seven-time major winner and 12th seed said after the match: “It aint’ over until it’s over, I didn’t see no fat lady singing.”

 

No. 9 seed Madison Keys won her first match back from left wrist surgery which had her off the tour since October, when she bested Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1, 7-5. Other seeds reaching the third round included No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber, fourth seed Simona Halep, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 28th seed Kristina Mladenovic.

Caroline Wozniacki, who also reached the third round was asked about Maria Sharapova’s return to the tour in April after a 15th month ban for doping. Sharapova will be making her return in Stuttgart as a wildcard on Wednesday of the tournament,  April 26th, when her suspension ends.

 

“I think obviously, she’s a good draw to tennis, women’s tennis in general,” Wozniacki said in her news conference.

“But, two, I think it’s very questionable allowing – no matter who it is – a player that is still banned to play a tournament that week. I think, from the tournament side, it’s disrespectful to the other players and the WTA.

“It is what it is. Obviously, rules are twisted and turned in favor of who wants to do what.

“I think everyone deserves a second chance and I think that she’s going to come back and she’s going to fight her way back. I’m sure she’s going to play well.

“But at the same time, I feel like when a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back because it’s different from an injury or where someone is out because they had hurt themselves. That way, I feel like a player should be able to receive as many wildcards.

“But when someone has been banned for drugs and something that is performance-enhancing, I think you deserve a second chance like everyone else, people make mistakes, but I think you should fight your back from the bottom.”

Seeds falling on the women’s side of the draw on Saturday included (16) Samantha Stosur, (23) Carla Suarez Navarro,  (27) Yulia Putintseva, (30) Shuai Zhang, and (31) Ana Konjuh.

 

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Five Past Champions to Play the Volvo Car Open

Venus Williams

(March 1, 2017) DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – As of today, the Volvo Car Open will welcome back at least five of its past champions for its 2017 tournament, held April 1 – 9 at the Volvo Car Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Currently in the field are:

  • Venus Williams, 2004 Champion
  • Jelena Jankovic, 2007 Champion
  • Samantha Stosur, 2010 Champion
  • Caroline Wozniacki, 2011 Champion
  • Andrea Petkovic, 2014 Champion

“Our patrons have rallied behind our Charleston champions year-after-year, and have become their lifelong fans,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager. “We wish each champion the best of luck in the competition and can’t wait to welcome them home.”

Williams will make her ninth appearance in the Charleston player field, where she holds a 20-7 record. The World No. 13 recently made the finals of the 2017 Australian Open.

This year will mark Jankovic’s 13th time in the Volvo Car Open draw. In addition to winning the tournament in 2007, she reached the finals in 2013. She holds a 21-11 Charleston record.

Stosur has played the Volvo Car Open ten times, where she boasts a 15-9 record. The U.S. Open winner made the quarterfinals in Doha and Taiwan already in 2017.

The 2017 Volvo Car Open will be Wozniacki’s fifth appearance in Charleston where she holds a 14-3 record. In addition to her title in 2011, she made the finals in 2009.  The World No. 14 has started 2017 strong. She’s reached the quarterfinals in Auckland and Sydney, as well as the finals in Qatar and Dubai.

Petkovic joins the 2017 player field with an 11-3 record. She will compete in Charleston for her fifth time this year. After winning the tournament in 2014, she made the semifinals in 2015.

The nine-day Volvo Car Open is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament in North America, attracting an average of 90,000 attendees and 70+ of the top tennis players.

Tickets for the 2017 Volvo Car Open are on sale.

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Elina Svitolina Reaches Top Ten with Dubai Title Win

(February 25, 2017) DUBAI – Elina Svitolina won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with 6-4 6-2 win over former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. This is the biggest title in the Ukrainian’s career, which will place her in the top ten on the WTA Tour when next rankings come out on Monday. She’ll be the first woman from her country to ever reach the top ten since the rankings were introduced in 1975. This is her sixth career title.

 

This was Svitolina’s second title in a month, who also won in Taipei, and a second final in two weeks for Wozniacki after she also finished as runner-up in Doha.

 

“I’ve dreamed for all my life to be in the Top 10,” said the 22-year-old Svitolina. “It’s a very amazing feeling and to do it by winning the tournament – I’m very excited for the season and very excited I could win this tournament.”

“It’s big relief that I could win this match, because I knew that if I gonna win this match, I’m gonna be top 10. There was extra pressure. When I was warming up, added even more pressure because they announce it. It didn’t help! I’m really happy the way I played the match. It was the way I was working on, and I’m really happy that I could play my game today.”

 

 

“She gets a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace well. She did what she had to do today,” said Wozniacki. “I think I started off really well. I feel like I was inside the court a lot. You know, I was dictating and playing well. Then I kind of felt like I ran out of steam a little bit and she took advantage of that. She stepped it up a little bit.  She played really well, got a lot of balls back. She mixed up the pace when she needed to. She was serving better than me today. I really tried hard. Obviously it’s frustrating when you see what you want to do out there and you just can’t do it. You know, that’s the most frustrating feeling. I feel like if I had gotten, you know, maybe to 5-All or, you know, gotten a little bit closer in that first set, it could have been different.”

 

 

The tournament continues between 27th February and 4th March with the 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world No. 1 Andy Murray, seven-time Dubai winner and Australian Open champion Roger Federer, defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the Gael Monfils.

 

All photos by Nida Alibhai.

 

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Former Champ Wozniacki and Gold Medalist Puig Advance, While Vandeweghe Loses To Riske in Dubai

Caroline Wozniacki, courtesy of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships

(February 20, 2017) Former champion Caroline Wozniacki began the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winning 6-2, 7-5 over teenager Daria Kasatkina. Although Wozniacki is just off reaching the final of Doha.

 

“Well, obviously seeing the draw, it’s like, well, could have had an easier first round,” said Wozniacki, who won the title in 2011 and has reached the semifinals in her last four apperances in Dubai. “She’s a good young player. She mixes up the pace a lot. She kind of tries to bring you out of your rhythm and she has great hands. I was really pleased with how I was able to just stay focused out there from the beginning. I didn’t really know how I was going to play to start off with. Generally, I was pleased with my game.”

 

Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig who is nursing a sore back, beat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Puig had a medical time out after the second set.

 

“It’s just some lower back soreness,” Puig said. “I came from Doha two days ago, so the balls are a bit different. The court is definitely much different than in Doha. It’s just something that I have to go and get treatment with, but it’s really no big deal.”

 

Eleventh seed CoCo Vandeweghe lost 6-4, 6-4 to Fed cup teammate Alison Riske, and 13th seed Kiki Bertens was also upset, losing 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 to Christine McHale. Peng Shuai took full advantage of her wild card, overwhelming Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-1 in just 55 minutes, and Elise Mertens became the third qualifier to reach the second round when she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3 6-2.

 

The top eight seeds received first round byes and will be in action from Tuesday. They include US Open champion and world number two Angelique Kerber, 2017 Brisbane and Doha champion Karolina Pliskova, WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, and former Dubai winner Agnieszka Radwanska.

 

“There are so many top players competing on Tuesday that not all can be scheduled on Centre Court,” said tournament director Salah Tahlak. “That means spectators will be able to see stars such as Caroline Wozniacki, Olympic gold medal winner Monica Puig and Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur free of charge on the outside courts. As an added bonus, they will also be able to catch one of the greatest players of all time, Martina Hingis, in doubles action.”

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS – DUBAI, UAE
$2,666,000
17-25 FEBRUARY, 2017

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 20, 2017
Women’s
Singles – First Round

[10] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d D. Kasatkina (RUS) 62 75
A. Riske (USA) d [11] C. Vandeweghe (USA) 64 64
C. Mchale (USA) d [13] K. Bertens (NED) 67(5) 63 64
C. Bellis (USA) d [17] Y. Putintseva (KAZ) 61 75
M. Puig (PUR) d Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 63 46 64
A. Konjuh (CRO) d S. Zhang (CHN) 60 61
M. Doi (JPN) d M. Brengle (USA) 62 67(4) 63
L. Davis (USA) d [LL] M. Minella (LUX) 26 62 61
K. Bondarenko (UKR) d [Q] A. Sabalenka (BLR) 46 64 63
[Q] E. Mertens (BEL) d T. Pironkova (BUL) 63 62
[WC] S. Peng (CHN) d L. Tsurenko (UKR) 61 61
K. Mladenovic (FRA) d K. Siniakova (CZE) 63 63

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

[6] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / S. Peng (CHN) d C. Liang (CHN) / Z. Yang (CHN) 75 62
V. Golubic (SUI) / Kr. Pliskova (CZE) d R. Atawo (USA) / Y. Xu (CHN) 64 62
A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE) d [WC] F. Al Nabhani (OMA) / M. Barthel (GER) 46 61 11-9
R. Olaru (ROU) / O. Savchuk (UKR) d N. Hibino (JPN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 46 76(4) 10-4
A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d J. Jankovic (SRB) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 64 64

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[3] D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs E. Makarova (RUS)
[Q] E. Mertens (BEL) vs [4] A. Radwanska (POL)
[5] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs K. Bondarenko (UKR)
K. Mladenovic (FRA) vs [2] Ka. Pliskova (CZE)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] A. Kerber (GER) vs [WC] M. Barthel (GER)
[Q] S. Zheng (CHN) vs [7] E. Svitolina (UKR)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
M. Puig (PUR) vs [15] C. Garcia (FRA)
[12] S. Stosur (AUS) vs A. Konjuh (CRO)

Not Before 4:00 pm
V. Golubic (SUI) vs [10] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
[9] B. Strycova (CZE) vs [WC] S. Peng (CHN)

COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
C. Bellis (USA) vs L. Siegemund (GER)
L. Davis (USA) vs Kr. Pliskova (CZE)

Not Before 4:00 pm
A. Sevastova (LAT) vs A. Riske (USA)

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
M. Doi (JPN) vs [8] E. Vesnina (RUS)
[Q] O. Jabeur (TUN) vs Q. Wang (CHN)
C. Mchale (USA) vs N. Osaka (JPN)
[4] Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI) vs A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE)

COURT 7 start 12:00 noon
[7] A. Spears (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs L. Kichenok (UKR) / N. Kichenok (UKR)
D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Rodionova (AUS) vs G. Dabrowski (CAN) / J. Ostapenko (LAT)
A. Klepac (SLO) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)
E. Mertens (BEL) / A. Naydenova (BUL) vs [5] H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)

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Wozniacki Holds Off Osaka to Win Tokyo for First Title of 2016

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

 

(September 25, 2016) Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki kept her streak of winning at least one tournament a year alive when she fended off a charge by Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-3 to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Sunday. Wozniacki also won the event in 2010.

Wozniacki, coming off having reached the US Open semifinals, has seen her ranking fall due to injuries this year, jumped out to a 5-0 first set lead, before Osaka fought back. She took a medical time out during the first set for a left leg injury which the Dane had taped.

Osaka was playing her first WTA final.

“I just fought for every point and tried to stay aggressive and make her move,” Wozniacki said. “She fought back in the second set so I was just happy to close it out.”

“Injuries happen and you never know when you can be taken out of the game, so I’m just enjoying every minute.”

“I’ve won a tournament every year since 2008 so I’m happy to keep that streak going,” Wozniacki said.

This was the Dane’s career 24th title win. She is currently 28th in the world.

Lara Arruabarrena

Lara Arruabarrena

In other WTA finals over the weekend, Lesia Tsurenko upset defending champion Jelena Jankovic at the Guangzhou Open for her first tour title while Lara Arruabarrena won the Korea Open over Monica Niculescu 6-0, 2-6, 6-0.

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Day 11 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

 

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

(September 8, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Posting player interviews throughout the day when allowed.

Note from the US Open Media Operations Guide as why Tennis Panorama News is allowed to post transcripts:

Transcripts of player interviews cannot be posted until one (1) hour after the interview has ended. Player transcripts can only be posted on the website of the publication that was accredited.

Angelique Kerber

Press Conference

A. KERBER/C. Wozniacki

6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So how does it feel to be the best player in the world?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It feels amazing. (Smiling.) I mean, yeah, it feels just great. I mean, the day came today, and to be now the No. 1 in the world, that was always a dream for me.

I was trying to not thinking too much the whole last few weeks about this, and now I reach it. So it’s something really special for me, because, yeah, I was dreaming for this No. 1.

Q. You almost got it in Cincinnati, but do you remember when you first imagined as a small German girl that you might achieve this, that you might be the best?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I was always dreaming when I was really young. I remember the match also in Cincinnati where I have the chance to reach it with the win there.

But after that I was just telling myself, Okay, I mean, I will get one more chance.

Yeah, I get it now. It’s something really special. Yeah, I don’t know what to say, because I was just trying to focusing on this really tough match today against Caroline. I saw the match before also, Serena against Pliskova, so that was not so easy.

Now after I can relax a little bit and try to enjoy, yeah, this special night today.

Q. Finally, what do you say to Steffi?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, to be the next German No. 1 in the world after Steffi, it’s really special. It’s an honor for me.

Yeah, it’s just incredible, actually.

Q. You won the sportsmanship award. What’s that mean to you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: That means a lot, because I’m always trying to playing fair play. I mean, to get this trophy now, it means a lot, because, yeah, it shows me that, yeah, I know or I’m on a good way what I’m doing off and on court.

Q. Watching that match before as you’re trying to prepare for this match, how much does that rattle you? And then, also, what were your thoughts as you’re watching that first match unfold?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I watch especially the last few points. I knew it will be tough one because I know Pliskova plays very good in the last few weeks. I play against her in Cincinnati.

Yeah, it was not so easy to go then on court, because I knew it actually before that if Serena lost, of course, that I will be the No. 1. So it was not so easy mentally, but I was trying to, again, not putting too much pressure on myself.

That shows me also that I think I’m growing and I’m not putting the pressure on my shoulders if something like this happen. I can go out there focusing on my game. That gives me also a lot of confidence with the situation, how I deal it today.

Q. What do you remember about how you felt both physically and emotionally going into that Cincinnati final? How different do you think you feel now about three weeks later?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I remember the Cincinnati final. I was actually really tired because I came from Rio and I had a lot of tough matches there.

Here I have one day off tomorrow, so I can really prepare for the final against Pliskova. I know how she is playing. I know she has a big serve.

Yeah, I think I will go out there trying to get my next chance against her and take the revenge, of course.

Q. I understand that you and Caroline are really good friends and even been on vacation together. How is it to play against your friend? Are you still friends after today?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It’s always not so easy because we know each other very good. I know how she is playing; she knows how I am playing. We played so many matches in the past and always close, and today I think the match was really close. The score is actually not so close, but the match was tough.

Yeah, it’s not so easy, but we both trying to giving our best on court, and after the match we are still friends. (Smiling.)

Q. I spoke to Karolina after the first-round victory, and she said then that she came into this tournament filled with a lot of confidence with her win against you, and then the one against Venus helped her to build on confidence to take on Serena. She’s I think right now probably about as confident as she’s ever been in her career. The person you will face in the final is going to be, mentally, anyway, a more difficult opponent. Talk about what you expect from that match.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: For sure she has a lot of confidence. Now especially against the win against Serena. She will go out there and try and win her first Grand Slam, but at the end I will try the same. I know it will be mentally for me also very tough because she know that she won against me like few weeks ago.

But at the end I know how I was playing in Cincinnati. I know what to change. I will talk with my coach about the game and I will try to take the challenge again against her.

Yeah, trying to win the match the next one.

Q. Just talk about the way you played today against an opponent who is, you know, playing some great tennis here.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s her second home here. She loves to play here. I was trying to playing my game. I know she’s moving very well. She’s fighting until the last point. I knew what to expect, but I was trying not to — not thinking too much about her game.

I was trying to thinking how I was playing here the last few weeks, also the last few months, and trying to go like this on court, being aggressive and taking my chances.

So I think I played a really good match, and, yeah, because I have to against Caroline.

Q. Would part of you have liked to face Serena in the finals, or are you actually relieved that you don’t have to face her now?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I knew actually that it will be a tough match against Pliskova, Serena against Pliskova.

But, you know, I was actually not thinking about this one. I was more focusing on my game. Not thinking too much. Now I can think about who I am playing, but before I was not thinking too much, yeah, about the other semis.

Q. Did you see Serena after? Did she congratulate you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No, I didn’t see her.

Q. You talked about the mental differences for you now as opposed to when you played a few weeks ago against Pliskova. From a tactical standpoint, what do you think is the most important thing for you to have success against her in this match Saturday?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think my serve have to be very good. I have to move good, as well, to bring a lot of balls back, and playing also more aggressive like I played in Cincinnati. I was just pushing too much the balls there, so I think I will change this a little bit. Go for it, being aggressive.

Yeah, I hope my serve will be good on Saturday.

Q. You were up 4-love to Wozniacki, and I know it may sound chauvinistic, but when you played Vinci I had the impression that you were more tense because you had three times behind one break and so on. Do you think there was a difference in terms of, you know, being on court and suffering? Did you suffer more with Vinci than with Wozniacki? That’s the question. The first one.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Good one.

Q. And the second one.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know. I’m not thinking about this, actually, you know. I went on court and I was trying to playing every single point. I was not thinking too much about the score and about the things around. I was trying to playing more point by point.

Vinci and Caroline, they are both tough players and different a little bit. Yeah.

Q. Did you suffer more today or the other day?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: (Shaking head.)

Q. You don’t want to say.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No. (Laughter.)

Q. You’re the oldest to debut at No. 1 in the rankings history, and I want to know what you think about that and what it says about the sport. Secondly, were you prepared for this kind of success this year coming into the season, the slam, three finals?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Actually, not really, because last year when I played a good year, I mean, I won four titles. I played — yeah, I was still in the top 10 at the end of the year.

And then I sit down with my coach, and we said, Okay, what we have to improve? And I was trying to improving my game, being more aggressive, and not just playing from the defensive end.

Yeah, when I won my first Grand Slam in Australia and we came back I had much more confidence. I had much more belief in my game, about my improvement.

And then I was just trying to get used to this pressure, all the stuff what’s happen after Australia.

I don’t know if I was like prepared for this, but I think I played amazing year. I mean, it’s my third Grand Slam final now in one year, so I just try to enjoy it. I just try to stay relaxed and just try to play like I’m playing the last few months.

Q. A few years ago when we would watch you compete there would be a lot of eye rolling, you know, negative body language, kind of sarcastic clapping, things like that. We don’t see much of that anymore. Can you talk about your evolution just as a competitor on the court and what’s changed for you and how you got it to change?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I was trying to change this, and I think I improve very well. I was trying to be more positive than I was the last few years, because I know that the body language is really important.

I lost a lot of matches with this stuff, because I was frustrated. When I missed one shot I was like thinking about the shot the next few minutes and few shots.

So this is what I was trying also during my practices. Just, yeah, looking ahead and just point by point. Sometimes you have this situation where you are really negative actually because you lose a point or you make an easy mistake.

But in this moment I’m really trying to be mentally strong and not showing my opponent that I’m inside actually a little bit more negative and nervous. Trying to stay positive. I think the change also my game that I believe more and going for it when I have the chance and not waiting about the mistakes from my opponent.

Q. After you won in Australia you had a celebratory swim in Melbourne’s wonderful Yarrow River. We have some great rivers here. Would you give us equal time, please?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No. I think that was once and that was okay. (Laughter.) Let’s see what we will do if I win it here, but I think we will just decide it when it’s happen.

Q. A former and great champion, Pete Sampras, said once, “I like the racquet to do the talking.” The racquet wasn’t that funny. We didn’t enjoy that much. Can you tell us something that you would tell to your friends, intimate friends, mother, that would be more fun for us to listen to? Sometimes you’re too predictable. I would like some story to write.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know what you want to hear. I don’t know. (Smiling.)

Q. Now you’re talking to your mother. What do you tell her?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don’t know. I mean, right now I think they are all proud about my No. 1 situation, about the game I am playing. I think also about my improvement what I did the last few months. I think this is now really special.

Yeah, that I’m growing with all the situation, all the stuff what I’m dealing with. It’s not so easy, and I think this is the biggest thing what I’m proud about it.

Q. Emotions?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Emotions, yes.

Q. A lot?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes, a lot (Smiling.)

Caroline Wozniacki

Press Conference

A. KERBER/C. Wozniacki

6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Despite coming up short today, can you evaluate your US Open?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, obviously right now I’m a little disappointed not to win today, but at the end of the day it’s been a good tournament, something I can be proud of.

I came into this tournament ranked 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it’s nice to prove people wrong once again. It’s nice to have a good run. I did my best out there today. I fought all I could, and just came up a bit short.

Q. (Question regarding last point of the match.)
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, I got a few texts, but that just made me feel worse. I saw it like in the air, saw it out that’s why I kind of stopped. When it landed I saw it on the line and I just wasn’t ready for it. Then when I saw it on the line I was like, There’s no reason to challenge since it was a relatively slow ball.

But clearly should have done that. But in the at the end of the day I don’t think it would have made a difference, but…

Q. Today was it a matter of something going off on your game? You couldn’t impose? Was it Angie?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Obviously Angie is playing well. She’s getting a lot of balls back. I thought I was dictating a lot of the game. I was trying to press and stay close to the line. In the beginning she really got me on the contra and just kind of counter-punched me away.

Then I stepped into the ball a bit more then and went for my shots and started going in and I started finding a rhythm. A few of the balls I went a little bit too much on and made these small mistakes.

But, you know, today I had to do that. I had to go for my shots. Unfortunately I came up a little short, but I have got to be proud of the way I kept going, and I just kept fighting for every point.

Q. What went well for you this tournament? Why did it all start to click? How do you do that moving forward for yourself?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think I just need to keep going the way I have been doing. You know, just I have gotten a lot of matches here, which is great. Hopefully I can just bring this momentum into the Asian swing.

It was a good tournament. I kind of felt like the way I have been practicing I managed to put that into the matches, so that was nice.

Hopefully I can just do that moving forward.

Q. Angie joined an exclusive club you have been a member of. What makes her biggest qualities to be No. 1? What advice would you give, because you held on to that spot for quite a while.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yeah, I think obviously she’s had a great year. She gets a lot of balls back. She also knows how to change the pace. She gets good angles.

And, yeah, she’s playing really well. You know, it’s not a lot of people who have been No. 1. It’s a huge thing. You know, she definitely has a target on her back now. Everyone wants to beat the No. 1 player in the world.

Yeah, she’s going to enjoy it. First she has a match here that she’s focused on, and I’m sure she will enjoy it after the tournament.

Q. You have been there yourself. Going forward now, do you take motivation from this tournament to try to climb the rankings again? Obviously 74, that will change. There has been talk during this tournament you might be hanging up your tennis shoes. Where is your head now in terms of the future?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: To be honest right now, my head isn’t anywhere. I have a drug test, so after this I need to be able to pee. That’s what I’m thinking about right now. (Laughter.)

After that, I don’t know. I have the Asian swing to look forward to, so that’s really what I’m thinking about next. I’m playing Tokyo in a week’s time.

Q. You have always said that health is the key for you. Do you come out of this completely healthy? Feel good mentally and physically?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I do. Yeah, I feel very good body-wise. I think it’s the best it’s felt in a while. I’m happy with that. Mentally I’m sure it will take me a couple of days just to process everything, but in the at the end of the day I can be proud of the way I have been handling myself this week, these two weeks.

You know, obviously I would have loved to have gotten two more, but it is what it is. I’m going to take this and really bring this momentum forward.

Q. Were you watching some of Serena earlier? Your thoughts on that match. Did it surprise you?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think Serena looked a little bit nervous. And, yeah, I mean, I watched a little bit. You know, I always like to see Serena win. Obviously she’s a great friend of mine. You know, I have huge respect for her.

But at the same time, I have to give respect to Pliskova for serving it out and playing well.

Serena Williams

Press Conference

K. PLISKOVA/S. Williams

6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had a very strong opponent tonight. What do you think didn’t go according to your plans?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t think much really went well today. I made a lot of errors and I didn’t play as well as I have been playing.

Q. Can you talk about Karolina as a player? Her serve was good today. How do you feel about her, moving around the court and return?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought she was a good, all-around player.

Q. It looked like you were limping a bit out there. At one point holding your wrist. What percentage were you physically out there? I know you had a very tough match against Simona. Do you feel you were beaten up from that? Were you physically up to 100%?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely was not beat up after my quarterfinal match. But, yeah, I just — that was it.

Q. On TV Chris Evert kept suggesting you looked a little worn out from yesterday’s match. You weren’t moving and weren’t getting your racquet in position. Did you feel that at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay, I’m not going to repeat myself. I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match. I’m a professional player; been playing for over 20 years.

If I can’t turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldn’t be on tour. So I definitely wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match at all.

It wasn’t a five-hour match. I have practiced three hours, so it wasn’t that huge of a deal.

Q. People were surprised to see you in the first match of the night. Did you request to play earlier?
SERENAS WILLIAM: I don’t know. I had plenty of time to recover, so it was fine.

Q. You said you weren’t tired, but were you injured at all? Was your left leg or knee hurting you?
SERENAS WILLIAM: Yeah, I have been having some serious left knee problems. I wasn’t tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I was tired I should definitely get into a new career.

Q. How did the leg affect you out there tonight?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move. When you’re injured you’re thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots. My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was.

Q. When did this injury come up?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I think like after the second or third round. I think it was the second round.

Q. Is there a diagnosis to it, or…
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know yet. I’d rather not say, actually. It’s fine.

Q. Your coach kind of blamed the loss on the knee. Do you feel it really, really hampered your movement? I know you’re downplaying it a bit.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m not downplaying anything. Karolina played great today. I think if she had played any less then maybe I would have had a chance.

So I think I wasn’t at 100%, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today.

Q. In the tiebreak you had two double faults to the ad court and going to the same spot. Missed four times. Anything particular going on there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: To be honest, I don’t remember that. I remember double faulting on match point, but I don’t remember the other ones.

Q. You didn’t play at all last fall after the US Open, so you have points to make up now. Going back after the No. 1 ranking going to be a priority for you now?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t talk about that whatsoever.

Q. Just your schedule for the fall?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don’t know.

Q. Were you surprised at how composed she remained throughout even the tiebreaker?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I think she’s been on tour for numerous years and she’s had some good wins. She was doing so well last year, was so close in so many finals, and I think maybe this was her year to really do well, at least here at the Open.

Q. Did Venus discuss anything with you, having played her, as well?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We talked about it a little bit, yeah.

Q. Any advice that you want to share that she gave you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not really. (Smiling.)

Q. She said in the on-court interview she thought the key to the win was her serve. Would you agree with that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, I definitely agree. I thought she served well today, and that was definitely was a big thing for her.

Q. Was it very difficult to deal with that serve?
SERENAS WILLIAM: Today it was, yes.

Q. Did you feel like your serve sort of abandoned you tonight?
SERENAS WILLIAM: I guess. It was — it’s all right. This is really negative. I don’t think it abandoned me. I just don’t think I served well. I definitely think I could serve better, but that’s the beauty of the sport. Always opportunities to do better.

Q. Once you broke back in the second, what was going through your mind as far as game plan and getting a foothold in the match?
SERENAS WILLIAM: I’m always thinking about holding and breaking and holding. That’s it. I don’t really — don’t really know so much what I was thinking.

Q. I’m not sure you called the trainer out. I may be wrong about that. Had it gone to the third set, would you have called the trainer out to assess…
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, we’ll never know, huh? (Laughter.)

Q. I appreciate very much your fair play, but even if you say it wasn’t a factor, a 7:00 pm match played for ESPN, and suddenly you have to play a match one day after the other. This reminds me a little bit CBS paying a lot of money and Super-Saturday. I would say if you think it’s fair, forget if it was a factor for you or not, if it’s fair that you have to play quarters or semifinals one day after the other. I don’t think it’s fair.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, I mean, honestly, I don’t — and I’m not disagreeing with you. Actually, I am. I don’t see how it’s not unfair. Like, we play every single week. We play — I have been in Toronto or Montreal or Cincinnati where I play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

I mean, if I’m not used to playing this, and I really should think of something different. I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse. Because that’s not me. Being a professional, if I can’t recover, then, you know, that’s that.

But I was totally okay. It had nothing to do with that. That’s what we do on a weekly basis.

Q. But in a Grand Slam it’s every other day.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not at the French Open. I played like nine matches in a row. (Laughter.)

Q. With the hampered leg, what part of your game felt most affected by that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Mental, because when you’re hampered you’re thinking of other things. Like I was making errors that I never make, and definitely I didn’t make in this tournament in particular. So many simple, simple shots that I easily could have made.

I just blame that on just mentally thinking about my leg and just not thinking about the shot.

Q. Kerber is going to be the oldest to debut No. 1 at 28 years old. You have been the oldest No. 1 and set a lot of records.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m not talking about No. 1. Thank you.

Q. How do you compare her serve to other serves you have faced over the years? Is there anything about it that makes her particularly effective?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think because she’s so tall it bounces high. I’m a little shorter so my serve goes through the court. Hers goes a little higher. So I think that’s the difference.

Q. Obviously you would have wanted to win this title. What do you walk away proudest of these last ten days at the US Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I’m only really proud — you know, obviously I’m a perfectionist and I love to win. That’s when I feel my proudest.

I think I had a pretty positive attitude mostly outside of maybe my second round. I think that I could walk away with that.

Karolina Pliskova

Press Conference

K. PLISKOVA/S. Williams

6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Quite a performance tonight. Did it help you that you had played Venus two nights earlier and experienced the whole crowd being for your opponent and all that?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I would say yes, definitely. Not only the crowd. I would say also the game was quite similar to Venus, so I knew it’s gonna be a little bit about the same match what I played with Venus and same serving, same speed.

So obviously Serena is No. 1. Venus is a little bit behind her. She’s definitely playing a little bit better. I was expecting tough match but I knew I can win.

Q. Can you compare your performances in the two matches? Which match was a more satisfying performance from your end?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, to beat Serena, she’s world No. 1, so it’s always tough to beat someone like this. She’s never giving up. Even if she’s losing, not playing her best, it’s always tough to beat girls like this.

I would maybe say it was a little bit tougher to play Venus because obviously I was match point down and she was serving much better than Serena was tonight.

Even my game I think was a little bit better against Venus, but I’m not sure what my coach is gonna say and what all the people is gonna say. Obviously I beat No. 1. Everyone is gonna say it’s amazing win tonight. But, I mean, both matches were very good.

Q. You have the Cincinnati win. A lot of confidence. Now you’re in your first Grand Slam final. What’s that mean?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: It was always a dream to, you know, get a title, get to the semifinal, get to the final. So, I mean, it’s a big result for me. I hope I didn’t stop yet, that there is still one more step to go. I’ll do anything for getting the title.

Even if I don’t get it, it’s a big result. I’m really happy to be there and even have the chance to play in the final here. It doesn’t happen often, you know, that you’re playing especially semifinal against Serena on center court here in New York. It doesn’t happen often that you’re in the final of Grand Slams.

I’m really excited to be there and really excited to be in a Grand Slam final for first time in my life.

Q. How did you stay so calm? In fact, were you that calm?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: Actually, yes, I was pretty calm today. Before the match I felt a little bit like pressure, nervous, some kind of — but when I step on the court I didn’t feel anything. I just, you know, wanted to win, actually. Not just enjoy but to win.

I knew I’m going to have my chances even if she’s playing her best. There is always a chance in those two sets. I was calm during the whole match. Even in the second set there was some complications. I was up a break.

But it never can be so easy to play No. 1 in the world. You cannot win like 6-2, 6-1, so I wasn’t expecting a match like this. I was prepared for anything, even if I would have lose the second set I would be ready for the third one.

Q. Most people would not want to play Venus and then Serena in a row. From what you’re saying, it sounds like it actually helped you to play Venus first, from the atmosphere and maybe also from the serving, returning?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, there is not more than to beat both sisters in one tournament in New York. I’m really excited about those two wins.

For the crowd, it’s not probably the best that I beat both of them in their country, but for me it’s really something special. Obviously the match with Venus helped me, like I said, not only with the game, but also with the crowd, also. Was my first match on center court.

So I knew I was to play center court one of the sisters Williams against all the people there, so I was prepared for it. I was prepared for a fast game, for great serving, and probably it helped me. That’s why maybe I won the match today.

Q. You’re one of the taller players on tour, especially one of the top players. How do you think that helps in terms of your serve, and what effect does it have, good or bad, in terms of movement and returning?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, definitely if you are tall like me you cannot be run from the runners. With the movement, I was always a little bit struggling, but I still think I’m improving and there is still much work to do. Still much things to improve.

I’m always gonna, you know, work on this, and obviously, on the other hand, it’s a big thing for me that I can really serve well in important moments and beat players not only with my serve. Even if the serve is off, I can still — you know, I have forehand, backhand, good shots from the baseline.

I can really be aggressive and not the one who is waiting for a mistake, but the one who is doing the winners. So I think it’s a big plus.

Q. You said that you believed before you stepped on the court that you could win tonight and you could beat Serena. When did you first start to believe that you could pull off wins like this? Because I’m not sure that you necessarily always thought that when you were on tour.
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I wasn’t thinking about to beat Serena before this tournament at all because I never faced her. I faced her once, but I never faced her since then and never on Grand Slam and never on a stage like this.

But once I beat Venus here I knew I’m playing good tennis and I have a chance to beat anyone in the tournament. I was ready for anything.

But actually, to be honest, when I was watching Serena last night against Simona they were playing really good tennis. I thought, Okay, this is going to be tough even if Simona is going to win or Serena is going to win. They were playing amazing tennis. I knew it was going to be tough.

But I didn’t want to get into the long rallies with her. That’s what they were playing yesterday. I was just getting my chances and putting the pressure on her. I think it paid off.

But I didn’t believe in beginning of the match that I can beat her. Since the match was going I knew I can, you know, get the win.

Q. You had some double faults today, but you shouldn’t be discouraged because I did some mathematics. You won only 38% of points off the second serve, but made 56% of first serve and won 80-something points. For today’s statistics, the better strategy would be hit first serve and second serve. Did you ever think about hitting first serve and second serve on regular basis?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, I knew I’m going to be with pressure once I hit my second serve, once I missed the first serve, that she’s gonna go into my second serve with power and I’d be under the pressure.

I just wanted to serve as many first serves as I can, but you cannot just put the first serve in there. I think I started really good and she was guessing a little bit the sides of my first serve. So I knew I can, you know, hit some big serves.

Even if it’s not an ace it still can be still a point for me. But obviously on the second serve it’s tough, because like I said, she’s putting so much pressure on the second serve that’s. Why the few double faults.

I wanted to risk, go more into her body. I did few more double faults obviously, but I still think it paid off.

Q. You said on television that America doesn’t like you. What is it like to be out there, a single athlete in a stadium with 20,000, 23,000 people roaring and cheering for your opponent?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I wasn’t thinking about it at all. I knew it’s gonna be tough, that I’m going to be against everyone almost there.

But I have my people here. I have people at home which they always believe in me. So I knew I have some people behind me. I don’t really care about the whole stadium was for her. I just, you know, didn’t want to get focused on those people, because once I get to think about that everyone is cheering for her and that, I don’t know, they are screaming in between first and second serve it would just hurt my serve.

So I just wanted to get this out of the game and just be ready for my game and not to think about other things around.

Q. You beat Kerber a couple weeks ago and you stopped her from becoming No. 1. Now you beat Serena. You helped her actually get the position. So bottom line, you beat the two No. 1s in a couple of weeks. How important for your confidence is to do such a result? Actually, going to the final, you could face Kerber possibly. What do you think about the eventual head to head?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, in Cincinnati I knew Angie, she’s playing for world No. 1, so I think she kind of felt some pressure there.

So, you know, I was really going for my win there and got the win, which gave me a lot of confidence.

And right now I knew Angie beat Serena. I knew few other girls beat Serena, so I knew that I could beat her, as well. It’s a great thing to beat a girl which is No. 1, girl which is No. 2.

So it’s always a good result, even if you beat someone from top 10. It’s not happening often and there are always tough matches with the girls from top 10. So I’m really excited about it.

Obviously if I play Kerber tomorrow I’ll know her very well. We played a lot of times. I lost to her; I won. So I will be ready for anything. That’s a final of a Grand Slam, so anything is possible. Of course, probably nerves from both sides. We both have a good chance to win.

But, yeah, I will just do anything to win the title here.

Q. Were you aware that Serena was dealing with a knee injury? She talked about it a little bit here. Her coach certainly talked about it. Could you feel that on the court or did you have no knowledge of it?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: No. I didn’t know it at all. After the match they asked me in the studio. Even my coach said something to me after the match.

But I’m not, you know, looking at the opponents at all between the points. It’s just not my business. I’m still talking and concentrating on myself and not on them. I would say it would be not be a good thing if I just, you know, keep on looking at her if she’s injured or not.

Just would not be the best for me. I still have to play my game and not think about the others.

Q. I know you skipped Rio, and other players did that, as well. What’s happening here? Why are you going to another level? What other factors is it that are making you play well now and take you to another level, do you feel?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, definitely it was about those last two, three weeks what I have played here in States and I won good matches. It gave me a lot of confidence, and that’s what tennis is all about.

If you believe in yourself you can beat anyone. Especially in girls tennis it’s not only about a game and tennis, but it’s more about the mental things sometimes.

So I really believe now that I can beat a good players, and — all of the players, actually now.

But for me, I think the most important step was to get through to the fourth round. Then I knew I have — if I have the chance to play someone who is better than me, I know I can be dangerous.

Q. Last night you were watching Serena and Simona. This morning you have to play this match. What were you doing today before the match? Like how did you wake up? Eat breakfast? What did you do?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I actually didn’t have any breakfast. I woke up at 1:00, so I went straight to the lunch. I just wanted rest because I never played a night session here.

We just came later here, had a lunch around the hotel, and then just had a normal warmup, and, you know, kind of more relaxing start of the day.

I just wanted to be ready physically and also mentally for the match tonight.

Q. What do you remember about when Serena and Venus, 14 years ago basically in every Grand Slam final? Do you remember following them, what they meant to you, or starting in tennis?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, definitely they did a lot for tennis. And both of them, they are such a great champions. You can still see it, even now. Even if they lose they are still behaving like champions.

Of course I remember them playing, but I think Serena improved a lot in last few years. She’s just doing very good job. Like I said, last few years she’s world No. 1. She’s still playing not that many tournaments and she’s still there, you know.

She can still hold the level even if she’s sometimes injured, sometimes not that ready. She’s still very dangerous player. So is Venus. They are both great champions.

Like I said, they did a lot for tennis and they always, you know, is gonna be there in our tennis history.

Q. Does it bother you at all, you win the biggest match of your life and people are talking or your opponent is talking about an injury being a difference?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: I mean, I don’t care. (Smiling.) You know, sometimes it is like this. Not even me. I’m sometimes not playing when I’m 100% ready and I don’t think others care.

If someone is not ready and she doesn’t think she is ready, she should not go on the court. But after the match I would say it’s still her choice if she wants to play or if she is ready to play or not.

I’m just happy with my win, and I’m not gonna think about something like this.

Q. You have been playing for a long time, working hard. What would it mean to you if you were able to lift the trophy on Saturday?
KAROLINA PLISKOVA: You know, everyone was still talking to me about that you can win Grand Slam once. I was like, Yeah, maybe. Not now. I’m not ready for it yet, because obviously I didn’t get that far in the tournament yet in a Grand Slam.

But I knew it’s somewhere in me that I can really play good tennis on those bigger stages, so I believed, and it just happened. So I think I have a good chance, good chance not tomorrow, Saturday, to win, and just be ready and give my best.

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Karolina Pliskova Surprises Top Seed Serena Williams to Reach US Open Final

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova

(September 8, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In one fell swoop, top seed Serena Williams not only lost in the semifinals of the US Open on Thursday to No. 10 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(5), but on Monday will lose her No. 1 ranking to Angelique Kerber. The last German to be No. 1 in the world was Steffi Graf back in 1997.

Williams who was attempting to to win her 23rd major to pass Steffi Graf for most majors in the Open Era, was also trying to pass Graf for most consectutive weeks at No. 1. With the loss, Williams is tied with Graf at 186 weeks.

The 24-year-old Pliskova of the Czech Republic played steady hard-hitting tennis and served well to cause the upset. Williams hit 31 unforced errors and had her serve broken three times while having a 53% first serving percentage.

“I don’t think much really went well today,” Williams said. “I made a lot of errors and I didn’t play as well as I have been playing.”

Asked about ESPN TV analyst, Chris Evert’s comments about Serena seeming “a little worn out” from yesterday’s match, Williams said to media: “Okay, I’m not going to repeat myself. I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match. I’m a professional player; been playing for over 20 years.

“If I can’t turn around after 24 hours and play again then I shouldn’t be on tour. So I definitely wasn’t tired from yesterday’s match at all.

“It wasn’t a five-hour match. I have practiced three hours, so it wasn’t that huge of a deal.”

Later the 34-year-old Williams said: “I have been having some serious left knee problems. I wasn’t tired. Fatigue had absolutely nothing to do with it. If I was tired I should definitely get into a new career.”

“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move, she said. “When you’re injured you’re thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots. My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was.”

A reporter brought up the fact that Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou said that her knee was bothering her, and she was downplaying it. The American said: “I’m not downplaying anything. Karolina played great today. I think if she had played any less then maybe I would have had a chance.

“So I think I wasn’t at 100%, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today.”

Pliskova, who saved a match point against, Serena’s sister Venus in the fourth round became the first person since Kim Clijsters in 2009 to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament.

“I mean, to beat Serena, she’s world No. 1, so it’s always tough to beat someone like this,” said the Czech. “She’s never giving up. Even if she’s losing, not playing her best, it’s always tough to beat girls like this.

“I would maybe say it was a little bit tougher to play Venus because obviously I was match point down and she was serving much better than Serena was tonight.

“Even my game I think was a little bit better against Venus, but I’m not sure what my coach is gonna say and what all the people is gonna say. Obviously I beat No. 1. Everyone is gonna say it’s amazing win tonight. But, I mean, both matches were very good.”

I mean, there is not more than to beat both sisters in one tournament in New York. I’m really excited about those two wins.

“For the crowd, it’s not probably the best that I beat both of them in their country, but for me it’s really something special,” Pliskpva continued. “Obviously the match with Venus helped me, like I said, not only with the game, but also with the crowd, also. Was my first match on center court.

“So I knew I was to play center court one of the sisters Williams against all the people there, so I was prepared for it. I was prepared for a fast game, for great serving, and probably it helped me. That’s why maybe I won the match today.”

Pliskova hit 7 aces and had 19 total winners.

Kerber fistpump-001

New No. 1 Angelique Kerber beat two-time US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki 6-4. 6-3 to reach her first US Open final. The new No. 1 in the world dominated the Dane in the second evening session match.

At 28, Kerber is the oldest first-time No. 1 in WTA history. So hoe does it feel to be No. 1? “It feels amazing,” said a smiling Kerber. “I mean, yeah, it feels just great. I mean, the day came today, and to be now the No. 1 in the world, that was always a dream for me.

“I was trying to not thinking too much the whole last few weeks about this, and now I reach it. So it’s something really special for me, because, yeah, I was dreaming for this No. 1.”

Playing Pliskova in the final is a rematch of the Cincinnati final last month, where if Kerber had won, she would have reached No. 1.

“I knew it will be tough one because I know Pliskova plays very good in the last few weeks. I play against her in Cincinnati.

“Yeah, it was not so easy to go then on court, because I knew it actually before that if Serena lost, of course, that I will be the No. 1. So it was not so easy mentally, but I was trying to, again, not putting too much pressure on myself.

“That shows me also that I think I’m growing and I’m not putting the pressure on my shoulders if something like this happen. I can go out there focusing on my game. That gives me also a lot of confidence with the situation, how I deal it today.”

 

“For sure she (Pliskova) has a lot of confidence. Now especially against the win against Serena. She will go out there and try and win her first Grand Slam, but at the end I will try the same. I know it will be mentally for me also very tough because she know that she won against me like few weeks ago.

“But at the end I know how I was playing in Cincinnati. I know what to change. I will talk with my coach about the game and I will try to take the challenge again against her.

“Yeah, trying to win the match the next one.”

 

Caroline Wozniacki came into the tournament well below her usual Top 10 ranking due to injuries and early losses. She evaluated her tournament performance: “Well, obviously right now I’m a little disappointed not to win today, but at the end of the day it’s been a good tournament, something I can be proud of.

“I came into this tournament ranked 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it’s nice to prove people wrong once again. It’s nice to have a good run. I did my best out there today. I fought all I could, and just came up a bit short.”

“I think I just need to keep going the way I have been doing,” the former No. 1 continued. “You know, just I have gotten a lot of matches here, which is great. Hopefully I can just bring this momentum into the Asian swing.

“It was a good tournament. I kind of felt like the way I have been practicing I managed to put that into the matches, so that was nice.

“Hopefully I can just do that moving forward.”

The women’s final takes place on Saturday.

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