August 4, 2015

Serena Williams Beats Sister Venus To Reach Wimbledon Quarters

 

(July 6, 2015)

On the second Monday of Wimbledon, it was “Sister Act” part 26 as No. 1 Serena Williams defeated her sister and the 16th seed Venus 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. It was the younger sister’s sixth victory of the last seven, raising her head-to-head record to 15-11.

“I just thought,`Wow, I’m 33, and she just turned 35. I don’t know how many more moments like this we’ll have.’ I plan on playing for years, but you never know if we’ll have the opportunity to face each other,” Serena said after walking off the court. “I just took the moment in, and I thought, `We’re at Wimbledon.’ I remember when I was 8 years old, we dreamed of this moment, and it was kind of surreal.”

“When that moment is over, it will be over,” Venus said, shrugging her shoulders. “It’s not now.”

Tuesday’s win puts Serena closer to winning her 21st major title, fourth in a row, keeping hope alive the possibility of a Grand Slam should she win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“I no longer answer questions about Grand Slams,” Serena told media.

“It’s been six years since we played each other,” Serena said.  “I just really was enjoying the moment out there.  It was such a great vibe, such a great situation to be in, when we were both so young and dreaming of coming to Wimbledon.

“Not only did we fulfill our dreams, we both won it five times.  That’s pretty amazing.

“I just had an opportunity to reflect on that.”

Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka on Tuesday for a spot in the semis. Azarenka defeated Belinda Bencic 6-3. 6-2.

I’ve had a couple of tough matches with Victoria,” Serena said.  “It doesn’t matter who I play, I’m going to be ready.  I’m going to have to be ready.  She’s due to win big and to do really well.”

“I look forward to tomorrow.  I feel like my tournament has finally begun.  This is where I feel really comfortable in a Grand Slam.”

“Well, the key is for me, I still need to find it because I haven’t beat her in the Grand Slam,” said Azarenka.  “So for me, I still have to find that extra step to go a little bit further.

“But she’s a great player.  I mean, one of the greatest players of all time.

“I just try to really focus on what I have to do instead of thinking who is on the other side and try to execute my game.

“I think I have been playing pretty well, trying to climb and put my game together more and more.  So I’m just trying to focus on tomorrow, is another day, another match, and keep it simple.”

Two more Americans join Serena Williams in the quarterfinals – Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe. Keys beat qualifier Olga Govortsova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1while Vandeweghe beat French Open finalist and sixth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(1), 7-6(4)

“I mean, every moment there is a breakthrough whether it’s in a WTA tournament or in a Grand Slam,” Vandeweghe said.  “Yes, this is the farthest I have ever gone in a Grand Slam and I’m playing really well at this time, but, you know, I’m not really considering it like, wow, a breakthrough.

I mean, I had set goals of what I wanted to do, and because I’m achieving it doesn’t mean it’s a breakthrough.  I think it’s stepping stones more than a breakthrough.  You know, I would more say it’s on the lines of it’s been a while coming because of what I felt that I have dedicated to my game of tennis.”

Vadeweghe will face Maria Sharapova next. The 2004 Wimbledon champion beat Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-4.

 

“I think there is still going to be the nerves,” Madison Keys said about reaching her second major quarterfinal.  “It’s second quarter and it’s against a different person.  But I think there is at least some, Okay, I have done it before, I have been through it, I know what to expect.

“No matter what, it will be fun and will be exciting, and I just have to go out and try to focus on the match.”

Garbine Muguruza had the upset of the day when she ousted fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4.

“I went very like focused and prepared because I knew that she was going to try to do a long and physical match against me,” the Spaniard said. “So I think I used my opportunities of the short balls, good shots, the serve.  I think I played really good.  This helps me a lot against these types of players.”

On the men’s side of the draw Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson will have to complete their match on Tuesday. Djokovic lost the first two sets in tiebreaks and won the next two. Play was halted on Court 1 due to darkness.

Marin Cilic awaits the winner in his quarterfinal.

Roger Federer and Andy Murray moved into Wimbledon’s “elite 8.” Second-seeded Federer won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut. Murray bested Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

The other men’s quarterfinal pairings are: Roger Federer vs. No. 12 Gilles Simon, Andy Murray vs. Vasek Pospisil, and Stan Wawrinka vs. No. 21 Richard Gasquet.

 


Ladies’ Singles – Fourth Round

(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (16) Venus Williams (USA) 64 63
(4) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 64 64
(20) Garbine Muguruza (ESP) d. (5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 64 64
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d. (6) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 76(1) 76(4)
(13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (28) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 75 64
(15) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 16 75 62
(21) Madison Keys (USA) d. (Q) Olga Govortsova (BLR) 36 64 61
(23) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (30) Belinda Bencic (SUI) 63 62

Gentlemen’s Singles – Fourth Round

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) d. [20] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 62 62 63
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. [23] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 76(7) 64 57 64
[4] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. [16] David Goffin (BEL) 76(3) 76(7) 64
[12] Gilles Simon (FRA) d. [6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) 63 63 62
[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Denis Kudla (USA) 64 46 63 75
[21] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. [26] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 75 61 67(7) 76(6)
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) d. [22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 46 67(4) 64 63 63

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Belinda Bencic Wins Eastbourne for First WTA Title

Belinda Bencic photo courtesy of the LTA by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA

By Ros Satar

(June 27, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – On a bright and breezy day, it seemed fitting the moment could go to one of the WTA Rising Stars, as Belinda Bencic rode the winds of Eastbourne to claim her first WTA Singles title.

 

At first glance it looked as through former champion Agnieszka Radwanska would have all the momentum on her side. She was rounding out nicely to form, save for a worrying fade away in the Nottingham semi-final a couple of weeks ago, and she had pretty much coasted through the draw until the semi-final where she had to fight against a determined Sloane Stephens and dropped her first set of the tournament.

 

By contrast, even though players never like to admit they even cast an eye over the draw, Bencic had no idea she would be contesting the final when she first looked her draw.

 

She said, after advancing to the final after Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawal: “I actually saw the draw and I saw like Barthel first round, which is not easy. Then Madison Keys second round. I was like, okay.”

 

The final was a nervy affair for the first two sets, with three exchanged breaks of serve towards the end of the first, Bencic having the advantage to edge the Pole for a one set lead.

 

Radwanska had spent a lot of the latter part of the first set exasperated that things were not going her way, and where she needed to be fare more inventive, she was so, stepping up the aggression for an early break. Even when a sloppy game allowed the Swiss teen back, Radwanska looked to be just slightly sharper, going for her shots more and breaking with conviction to level the match.

 

But grass is nothing if not terribly unforgiving, and Bencic did not panic, breaking the Pole twice before the first change of ends, as well as holding on to her serves with confidence that belies her young years.

 

We wondered what nerves might prevail as she stepped up to serve out for her first title. None, as it happened – serving it out to love, and more than making up for the straight sets loss to Camila Giorgi just a couple of weeks ago at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

Not only that but this makes her a pretty useful prospect on grass, much like a couple of other famous Swiss players we could think of.

 

It was an emotional Radwanska who carried out her on-court interview after the 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 loss. In a somewhat turbulent year, Radwanska has suffered the embarrassment of her appointment of Martina Navratilova as a coach folding after barely a few months. The results have been average and Radwanska found herself slipping out of the Top 10 as the general hubbub around the latest crop of WTA Rising Stars has encroached on the old guard’s limelight.

 

She said: “I think I had a lot of good matches, Nottingham and here. I think that’s the main thing. I think I did the best preparation before Wimbledon, and I really played good tennis.”

 

With Radwanska in Petra Kvitova’s section of the door she can expect a Tuesday start.

 

Meanwhile there was just pure unadulterated joy in Bencic as she followed in Madison Keys’ footsteps last year and lifted her maiden tour title.

 

She described those final moments with a maturity that marks her out as one to watch at SW 19, saying: “I was very focused and really I played very free. Of course I was disappointed I didn’t close out the second set. I was also starting to get tired. It was a lot of running and, yeah, long rallies. But then I started very focused. I did the 3‑0, so after that I relaxed a little bit and could close it out very good. I think I will just realise maybe when going to bed or maybe tomorrow.”

 

She will start against Tsvetana Pironkova when Wimbledon begins on Monday 29 June.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Eastbourne Finals set

Aga Radwanska slides to a ball

By Ros Satar

(June 26, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – On the day when the Wimbledon draws came out, there was still the small matter of the Eastbourne finals to be set, with some great grass court action on the menu.

 

First up was Agnieszka Radwanska, who lifted the trophy in 2008 in a pretty tough final against Nadia Petrova including a mammoth tiebreak for a 6-4 6-7(11) 6-4 win.

 

She might not have had quite the same battle to book her place in the final this time, as she faced Sloane Stephens in the semi-final and countering the American’s attacking play, as she was put under almost immediate pressure from the first game, saving four break-points there and six in her next game before even the first sit-down.

 

That did not stop her from making the first strike against Stephens, as she broke the American twice to wrap up the first set.

 

Stephens picked up the pace though, as the pair settled in to some perhaps tricky conditions. Despite the sun shining down on Eastbourne, there was a stiff breeze in the air. A competitive second set was forced to a tie-break, and Stephens ripped some impressive winners past Radwanska to level the match.

 

Radwanska started off the brighter in the decider, breaking Stephens, despite having to deal with a dive-bombing seagull, and took more risks in the swirling wind with an array of drop-shots and crafted returns, driving out a 6-1 6-7(3) 6-2 win.

 

She said: “I think the wind was changing, as well. Sometimes I was changing sides and I was against the wind, and I was going to the other side and still I was against the wind! That was weird. And of course there was another wind from the side, as well.

 

“So it was really tricky. You just had to know that the wind is going from each side and just to hit the ball strong, because otherwise it’s gonna fly wherever it will fly.”

 

But while the scene was set for a great match up between Swiss teen Belinda Bencic and Caroline Wozniacki, another former champion at the event. But from the start, Wozniacki looked ill at ease striking wild, missing volleys and after surrendering two breaks of serve before the first changeover, the doctor was called. As the conversation drew on and still no sign of a physical assessment, it was clear we were heading for a second withdrawal of the day. Earlier, Ekaterina Makarova withdrew from the second doubles semi-final with an Achilles injury.

 

Bencic said: “Definitely it’s not the way I wanted to win, of course. I’m also a little bit disappointed we couldn’t play a proper final because of course all the people and everyone.

 

“I didn’t know anything [about Wozniacki] before the match. Of course I also fell down a little bit yesterday, so I was more thinking of myself in that moment, so I didn’t notice anything what she had.”

 

Wozniacki confirmed that she had withdrawn with a back injury that had been troubling her for a few days, but had stiffened up considerably ahead of her match.

 

“I have had a slight back problem the whole week, basically. Today it stiffened up more, and I felt like I couldn’t move the way I wanted to and felt pain. I felt really bad for the crowd and everyone who had come out, but there’s nothing really I could do about it. It’s all about for me now just to look ahead for Wimbledon that’s starting in a few days. You know, just get as much treatment as possible and be ready for my first round there.”

 

Radwanska will face Bencic for the first time on Saturday. She surmised: “It’s always very interesting to play someone for the first time, especially not really happen very often. It’s gonna be interesting match, for sure. She had a really good season this year. Upcoming player on tour. So I’m really looking forward. Of course I think more pressure is on my side, but this is the final so we both want to win.”

 

Radwanska and Bencic will play the final on Saturday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Bouchard Gets First Win of Grass-Court Season at Eastbourne; Cibulkova Returns

By Ros Satar

(June 23, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – Hot on the heels of Petra Kvitova’s withdrawal, Birmingham champion Angelique Kerber withdrew also citing a viral illness. There was a lot of this going about as Eastbourne’s defending champion had to withdraw from Birmingham with the flu, and as she bowed out in her opener to Belinda Bencic, she lamented the timing, especially with the inclusion of an extra grass court week.

 

She said: “I had the flu [for] almost a week. Yeah, it was lots of laying there thinking I was dying. Then eventually I started feeling a little bit better and was able to start practicing again. Luckily I didn’t actually die. You know, just trying to get back to 100% now.”

 

She continued: “It was kind of nice because it was a perfect schedule. You can get some practice, have two full weeks of grass before going into Wimbledon, and then getting sick and having to pull out of that one week and kind of having to try to jam everything into this week is not ideal, so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again next year.”

 

There was better news though for Genie Bouchard who turned in her first win on grass this season, and her first win since Rome last month, a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over Alison Riske.

 

Bouchard said: “I felt good with my game today, happy with the way I fought. I just want to keep going, take another step tomorrow. Regardless of the outcome, I just want to do the right thing tomorrow.”

 

Another good win was the returning Dominika Cibulkova, who has been off the tour since February, after requiring Achilles surgery. To consider her return on one of the toughest surfaces, but that was just how the dates fell, and her return has been great with a run to the third round already.

 

There was plenty to keep the Brits occupied on Tuesday, as Johanna Konta got another great win, this time over a Top 10 player, and her best win to date, although she still preferred to try and keep her feet on the ground.

 

She said: “I’m going to work on not adjusting my mindset, because the way I’m working and the thought process I’m going along with, that is what has given me my best opportunity to play well and that’s why I think I did well today.”

 

Heather Watson was once more the closing act on Centre Court, and she put on a show for the late-staying crowds. Trading breaks at the start of the match, Svitolina battled to convert on a fourth break point to take the advantage in the first, taking the first set.

 

With the second set starting in the same way, this time it was Watson who battled away to finally get a crucial break late in the second, to level things up. The momentum stayed with her at the start of the decider, much to the crowd’s enjoyment, as Watson built up a 4-2 lead. But the nerves hit as Svitolina crept back into the match, breaking straight back. Watson really had to hold her nerve breaking the Ukrainian to pick up her second Top 20 win of the year.

 

It was an emotional Watson who spoke on court straight after the match, thanking the crowd for getting her over the line, and afterwards she explained:

 

“This week was kind of like a new start for me and I just really, I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of emotion in me right now. I think on the court it shows. I’m kind of getting mad at myself sometimes, but I’m also very positive when I win the point.

 

“I think also the crowd today was louder than I think I have ever heard them here at Eastbourne for one of my matches. I just loved every minute of it.”

 

She will face Sloane Stephens next, in what has been a great day for the British women, and Watson comments about Konta:

 

“I have always known Jo can play brilliant. I think it’s now finally coming out now. She played amazing and just throughout the whole match, and I’m just really proud of her.”

 

Play continues in the third round at 11am BST.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

AEGON INTERNATIONAL – EASTBOURNE, GBR
$ 731,000.00
21 – 27 JUNE 2015

RESULTS – JUNE 23, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[2] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] J. Gajdosova (AUS) 76(4) 62
D. Cibulkova (SVK) d [3] L. Safarova (CZE) 76(7) 64
[WC] J. Konta (GBR) d [4] E. Makarova (RUS) 62 64
S. Stephens (USA) d [5] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 61 75
[7] E. Bouchard (CAN) d A. Riske (USA) 76(5) 63
[8] K. Pliskova (CZE) d C. Dellacqua (AUS) 64 75
[9] A. Radwanska (POL) d [Q] I. Falconi (USA) 60 62
[10] A. Petkovic (GER) d C. Garcia (FRA) 62 64
H. Watson (GBR) d [11] E. Svitolina (UKR) 36 75 64
B. Bencic (SUI) d [12] M. Keys (USA) 62 62
[13] S. Errani (ITA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 62 67(1) 76(7) (saved 2mp)
[14] G. Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] P. Hercog (SLO) 57 63 60
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [15] F. Pennetta (ITA) 63 64
T. Pironkova (BUL) d [16] S. Stosur (AUS) 75 76(0)
[LL] D. Gavrilova (RUS) d C. Giorgi (ITA) 36 76(6) 63 (saved 1mp)
C. Vandeweghe (USA) d [LL] M. Niculescu (ROU) 75 26 61

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) d M. Krajicek (NED) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 60 62
Y. Chan (TPE) / J. Zheng (CHN) d [3] T. Babos (HUN) / K. Mladenovic (FRA) 76(5) 63
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) / A. Klepac (SLO) 63 64

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[7] E. Bouchard (CAN) vs B. Bencic (SUI)
[14] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [WC] J. Konta (GBR)
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [2] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
H. Watson (GBR) vs S. Stephens (USA)
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs H. Chan (TPE) / F. Pennetta (ITA)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs T. Pironkova (BUL)
[9] A. Radwanska (POL) vs [8] K. Pliskova (CZE)
C. Vandeweghe (USA) vs [10] A. Petkovic (GER)
[LL] D. Gavrilova (RUS) vs [13] S. Errani (ITA)
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] J. Rae (GBR) / A. Smith (GBR)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs J. Goerges (GER) / L. Hradecka (CZE)
C. Black (ZIM) / L. Raymond (USA) vs [Alt] M. Niculescu (ROU) / A. Rodionova (AUS)
After Suitable Rest – [WC] E. Bouchard (CAN) / M. Erakovic (NZL) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)

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Kvitova withdraws from Eastbourne as weather wreaks havoc

Kvitova 2-001

By Ros Satar

(June 22, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – Top seed Petra Kvitova opted to protect her Wimbledon defence chances by withdrawing from Eastbourne at Monday’s WTA All Access interviews, despite wanting to play doubles with Caroline Wozniacki.

 

The Dane admitted that Kvitova had not felt 100% these past few days and she confirmed that she had felt unwell for a while.

 

Kvitova said: “I started to feel not well when I come here. Maybe from plane. I’m not really sure. I didn’t really feel the best. Like two days ago I really feel sore throat, and I was waiting what gonna happen. It’s not really much better. I didn’t need antibiotics so that’s a good sign. But I have to be in the bed and drink hot tea, I don’t know, just lying and resting.”

 

She confirmed that she would remain in Eastbourne for a few days before heading up to London.

 

“I know that a lot of players don’t play the tournament before. I’m not the only one. I practiced on it, and I still hope that I will have a few days in London, as well. I know I can play well on the grass. I have to still think positively, and I hope I gonna be ready for Wimbledon. I’m playing Tuesday, so it’s still time for it.”

 

It was a frustrating day for the players, being led into the media centre armed with an array of umbrellas as play continued to be put back until the afternoon, when finally the dark clouds cleared for a decent spell of play. There were hints of further disruption from time to time, with the doubles matches and a hefty chunk of singles being cancelled.

 

The day saw the return of the 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, returning after a four month absence, after being sidelined with an Achilles injury. She faced British wildcard Harriet Dart, who put up quite a fight in the second set as the pair traded five breaks of serve n the second set before the Slovakian edged ahead.

 

With defending champion Madison Keys being one of the matches bumped to Tuesday, it was left to Heather Watson to lift spirits of fans on Centre Court, as matches were chopped and changed around the courts after the torrential downpours of the afternoon.

 

Heather Watson brought the proceedings on Centre Court to a close with a win over Varvara Lepchenko, as there was barely a hint of the disruption that the schedule is in now.

 

After the match she said: “It definitely wasn’t easy. Varvara’s a great player, so I knew it was going to be tough today. I just had to hang in there. I think we both made quite a few more unforced errors than we would like. But I thought I just stayed tough. Thanks to the crowd for their support and for keeping me going.

 

“I absolutely love playing here on Centre Court. I love it here at Eastbourne. At times I was finding it quite hard with the sun. We had half the court in the sun and half in the shade, but I won’t use that as an excuse.”

 

She plays Elina Svitolina as the last match on Centre Court on Tuesday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Serena Williams Avoids Early Exit, Rafael Nadal Cruises at French Open

(May 28, 2015) Serena Williams survived a possible upset on Thursday when she came beat German Anna-Lena Friedsam ranked 105th in the world 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the French Open.

“Probably more frustrated than relieved, but I know I’m capable of playing great tennis, just haven’t seen it yet,” Williams said.

“I feel like one thing Venus always tells me: A win is a win, and as long as you live to survive the next day, you can always improve. I know my level is literally a hundred times better than I played today, so I think I take more solace in the fact I can play better as opposed to the fact that that’s the best I could play. Then I would be in trouble.”

Next for Williams in the third round will be two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka who defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-2 6-3.
“It will be a tough match, obviously,” Williams said. “We had a really tough match in Madrid. So I do know if I play the way I did today, I probably won’t be winning my match. So I’m going to have to step it up a level. Probably just get out, start up better and be more relaxed and go from there. But it’s definitely not going to be easy, but, you know, at the end of the day it is what it is. I’m ready.”

“I think out of all the top players she’s, for whatever reason, has given me particularly some troubles. But, you know, she’s great at what she does. She fights hard and never gives up, and she’s really feisty. And I think that’s obviously why she’s been able to be a Grand Slam champion, not just on one occasion. So, I mean, yeah, those players aren’t always the easiest to play, but they also get you excited to play those matches and to be ready for that.”

“Facing somebody who is, you know, No. 1 in the world is never easy,” Azarenka said. “But I just want to try to focus, you know, on my game, on my energy, and try to play the best as possible. But there is no question you have to come up with your A game and play well.”

No drama for 9-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal who dismissed Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

“I think I played a good match against an opponent I think he didn’t play bad through a lot of very hard games, long games,” Nadal said. “The score is easier than what the match was like. Very happy, I think I did a few things very well.”

2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone saved a match point in a 3 hour 50 minute marathon against 18th-seeded and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-7 (11), 7-5, 10-8 to move into the third round. Kuznetsova served for the match four times.

Both women played the longest women’s match in Grand Slam history at the 2011 Australian Open, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 which lasted 4 hours, 44 minutes. Schiavone won that match as well.

“She went for it,” Kusnetsova said. “She played unbelievable shot. She played the deeper ball on high bounce to my backhand. I played good angle. For one-handed backhand to play it like that down the line, she totally went for it and all credit to her. She played unbelievable point. It’s nothing I can do, you know. It’s many more other opportunities I have to think about on my serve, which I didn’t serve well. I was not too sharp today for me.”

“Today was the key that long line with backhand,” Schiavone said. “I had to, otherwise backhand against backhand she was much better than me. So I had to play over there or in or out, and I play very good long line. Long match, yeah. With Svetlana I think we can play hours and hours and hours because we know each other exactly like I said before to play. Was great for me. I don’t know. She is amazing, and every time I play against her I say, Oh, my God, now what can happen? And it’s happen a long match again.”

Another upset victim, Caroline Wozniacki, the fifth seed, fell to 72nd ranked Julia Goerges in 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“I think I don’t play the typical women’s game on clay court,” said the German. “I play a little bit more spin, a little bit higher the ball over the net than some of the other girls. Well, she gets the ball in her striking zone she doesn’t miss any ball, but if you give her different balls, then it’s tougher for her to manage to bring the ball back with good quality, what she usually does when she has it in her striking zone. You have to mix up a lot. That’s what I did in all the matches I’ve played her. It’s never a guarantee you’re going to win the match, but you have to execute well, as well, and that’s what I did mainly today very well.”

Americans Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Jack Sock also advanced to the third round.

The 16th seeded Keys defeated Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-0, 6-3.

“Belinda is also a great player,” Keys said. “So I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I was going to have to be playing well and kind of in my best form in order to get past them. Just really happy with kind of how I managed to fight through the first one. I thought I played really well today.”
“I thought I came out and was aggressive and tried to play the best I could,” Stephens said about beating Watson 6-2, 6-4. “Obviously executed really well my shots and I stayed pretty consistent throughout, so that was good.”
Watson, who had never lost to Stephens before, was wearing tape on her arm. “I’ve had this with my arm for a week and a bit now, but it wasn’t the reason I lost today,” Watson said. “I felt fine. I had it all taped up and I took some painkillers before the match. But it was just me really. I was just pretty sluggish and slow out there. Finally after like a set and a bit I finally got into it, but at that point it was kind of a little bit too late.”

Jack Sock continues to win on American men’s least successful surface in recent times, but his favorite. The American defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets to advance.

“I thought he played a really good match,” Sock said. “I’ve seen him play a few times, not a whole lot. Yeah, I thought he was kind of on top of his game today. It was a match I had to win. He wasn’t going to be given to me, by any means. I finally found my serve three hours in, which was nice. It was letting me down there for a while, but I was able to find a little bit and the rhythm there at the end.”

May 28, 2015 Results French Open

Men’s Singles – Third Round

[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. Benjamin Becker (GER) W/O (right shoulder)

Men’s Singles – Second Round

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Gilles Muller (LUX) 61 64 64
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. Joao Sousa (POR) 62 46 64 61
[6] Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 64 63 61
[7] David Ferrer (ESP) d. Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 62 63 61
[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Andrea Arnaboldi (ITA) 76(3) 61 61
[15] Kevin Anderson (RSA) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 57 64 64 64
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. [16] John Isner (USA) 64 46 63 63
[17] David Goffin (BEL) d. Santiago Giraldo (COL) 63 46 75 62
Pablo Andujar (ESP) d. [22] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 61 76(5) 36 36 64
[23] Leonardo Mayer (ARG) d. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 64 64 67(1) 61
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d. [27] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 36 36 63 64 86 – saved 3 M.P.
[29] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) d. Kyle Edmund (GBR) W/O (stomach)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. [31] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 62 64 63
Jack Sock (USA) d. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 67(2) 76(4) 61 76(4)
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 61 57 76(0) 75

 

Women’s Singles – Second Round
(1) Serena Williams d. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 57 63 63
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 67(4) 64 62
Julia Goerges (GER) d. (5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 64 76(4)
(10) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 46 64 64
Andreea Mitu (ROU) d. (12) Karolina Pliskova 26 76(5) 64
(16) Madison Keys (USA) d. Belinda Bencic (SUI) 60 63
(17) Sara Errani d. Carina Witthoeft (GER) 63 46 62
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. (18) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 67(11) 75 108 (saved 1mp)
(23) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 62 60
(27) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 62 63
(30) Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) d. Ana Konjuh (CRO) 62 60
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) d. (32) Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 06 61 64
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Danka Kovinic (MNE) 63 75
Irina Falconi (USA) d. (Q) Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) 36 61 62
Sloane Stephens (USA) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 62 64
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. Denisa Allertova (CZE) 63 76(2)

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Angelique Kerber Stops Caroline Wozniacki for Stuttgart Title

Angelique Kerber

German Angelique Kerber rallied in the third set to upset Dane Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the final of Stuttgart for her second straight title, lifting her win streak to 11 straight.

“It was small things today that made the difference,” Wozniacki said of the 2-hour and four minute match. “I had 5-3 in the third set and 30-all, and it could have gone both ways, but she took her chances and it went her way. We’re great friends, we hang out a lot and practice a lot together, and it’s always nice to play a friend in a final. You obviously want to win, but if you don’t win, it’s still nice that your friend does.”

“A few days ago I said clay is actually not my favorite surface, but right now I think I will change my mind,” said Kerber. “I’ve played very well on clay the last few days and weeks. I feel good that I have had so many matches on clay, and now I’m looking forward to the next tournaments before Paris. Of course I’m a little bit tired – I’ve had a lot of matches the last few weeks, and also a lot of travel. So that’s why I’m for sure taking the next few days off, just relaxing a little bit before I go to Madrid.”

On the way to the final, Kerber defeated three-time defending champion Maria Sharapova in the second round and also took out second seed Simona Halep in the semifinals.

For Kerber she won her the fifth WTA title of her career and second of 2015. She also won Charleston earlier in the month.

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Venus and Serena Williams Reach Miami Quarters

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 30, 2015) Venus Williams kept her record perfect against No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki on Monday at the Miami Open defeating the Dane 6-3, 7-6(1).

Venus, a three-time Miami winner joined her sister seven-time winner Serena in the quarterfinals. Serena bested two-time major champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3.

Venus and Serena could meet in the final of the tournament.

Venus did not return to Indian Wells as her sister did two weeks ago but spoke about her sister’s return.

“It was wonderful to see,” Venus said. “I definitely watched every moment, and it was great to see her and my family there. Next year will be a big year for us being an Olympic year.

“I can’t exactly say what my schedule will be, but it was wonderful to see her reception.”

“I have heard so much about how much the tournament has just improved in general in terms of the fans and the players.

“So it will be something to see for me.”

“She’s playing really well,” Serena said of her sister’s play. “She’s playing really aggressive. I have always said what Venus has gone through has really motivated me.

“I think a lot of the things happened to help me become a better player in the past few years. You know, that’s another thing. I was really motivated by her and her spirit and her fight.

“I thought that I was doing really well, that I could ‑‑ I thought since she was doing really well, I could, as well.”

Another American reaching the quarterfinals is Sloane Stephens who stopped 18-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-4, 7-6 (5). Other women reaching the final eight include Carla Suarez-Navarro, Sabine Lisicki, Karolina Pliskova and Andrea Petkovic.

Four-time champion and No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat qualifier Steve Darcis 6-0, 7-5 to reach the final 16 where he will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov.

“I saw a couple of matches he played here, and he’s feeling good,” Djokovic said of his next opponent. He likes this surface. Generally likes a bit slower court with a higher bounce.

“Very quick dynamic motion on the serve and can serve very big for somebody of his height. And moves around very well around the court.

“So I know his game pretty well. I know what to expect. Hopefully I’ll be able to start as well as I did in the first two matches, but then end it in a bit different way. Keep the concentration going, you know, all the way through.”

Also advancing were No. 4 Kei Nishikori, No. 5 Milos Raonic while No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov fell to John Isner in straight sets.

More to follow.

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Upstarts and Upsets in the second week at Indian Wells

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

(March 16, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – As the women’s draw started to fill the brackets for the last of the round of 16, we saw some of the old guard fall foul to the up-and-comers.

First in (and indeed out) was Caroline Wozniacki who met her end to Belinda Bencic. The last time the pair played was in Istanbul last year. Wozniacki was at the start of a tear through the tournaments after an upsetting summer with the collapse of her impending nuptials to Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, and it was the making of the latter half of her tennis year.

However in the way was Bencic who was battered off court that day 6-0, 6-0 in just 44 minutes. In fairness the Swiss had hardly been on a roll since the start of the year, winning just one match in Dubai but she could at least gleefully poke fun at her Istanbul outing.

“The difference was that I won a game!” Bencic joked. “No, I was really happy after the first game I won, obviously, but I think I played more solid today. In Istanbul I had maybe too much respect and I was afraid, nervous. Today I really had a good game plan. I did what I had to do out there. I served well and had some easy points on my serve because of that. It was a solid match.”

Wozniacki had to acknowledge that on the day she had just come across a better player, saying: “Honestly, it was two completely different matches,” Wozniacki told reporters. “She was steady, she took the ball early and she served well, but I just didn’t put three balls in play today. But hats off to her – she took advantage of that and she played well during the important points in the match today.”

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

There was almost another grand old lady of the tour on the ropes as Jelena Jankovic had to fight from a set down to get past the power hitting of Madison Keys 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. As always with Jankovic, humour got the better of her, and why not? She was feeling god, and quite possibly dealt a bloody nose to one of the WTA Rising Stars that felt this had been a winnable match.

Keys smacked Petra Kvitova off the court at the Australian Open, and Jankovic could certainly see why as she explained in her press conference.

“It was like bombs or bullets constantly coming at me for about two‑and‑a‑half hours. I mean, her ball is so strong. It’s such a heavy ball. I think she’s probably, I mean, maybe with Serena. Probably the hardest hitting player out there in this moment.”

At times Jankovic tried to slow the pace down by taking her time to get ready between points, and she joked: “But you would take your time too when those balls are coming at you. What else am I supposed to do?”

316Keys-001

Madison Keys

 

For Keys though, while it was a tough loss she was at least able to find some slight vein of amusement at her tactics against Jankovic who, on her day, can mix up and disrupt play with the best of them, as she assessed her failing backhand.

Ruefully smiling, she said: “Yeah, I’m that person, Oh, I didn’t make it? Let me try it again 37 times.”

She continued: “Because it’s one of those things that as soon as you hit it, That was so dumb; why did I do that? The crosscourt is completely open, yet I try to hit it an inch other the net and I missed it. Again. Let me try it again next point. It’s not smart, for sure. I really wish I could tell you, you know, it’s just because I’m stubborn and I just wanted to make one. If I ever figure it out, you’ll be the first one that I can tell.”

Another seed to fall by the wayside was Ana Ivanovic, who lost for the second time in a row, in as many weeks to Caroline Garcia 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. After a brisk start to the year, Ivanovic has had to deal with a broken toe (from slamming her foot against the shower door) and now an inflamed elbow.

She said: “I have to work because I haven’t been playing lots of matches and so on. I feel like I need to get back in shape. It’s getting better but I feel like there’s a lot of work to be done and then yet I have these niggles here and there that are stopping me.”

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

With Maria Sharapova restoring some sense of order, dispatching one of the trickier names in the draw, Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3, we close out a day which more or less saw the honours split evenly between the old ladies of the tour and the chasing pack of Rising Stars.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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Serena Williams’ return to Indian Wells praised by peers

 

 

(March 11, 2015) INDIAN WELLS – It is a measure of respect that the top players have for Serena Williams that they were happy to talk about her impending return to Indian Wells, as well as their own chances at the tournament – well at least for all but one of them.

 

As some of the best players in the WTA met members of the press ahead of starting their own campaigns at the BNP Paribas Open, the big news was and of course still is Williams.

 

For 14 years, Indian Wells has been without either of the sisters who have made such a huge impact on the sport. Even after battling with potentially career threatening injuries and illnesses both Venus and Serena are still very much at the top of their games, especially when you take into account Venus’ recent resurgence.

 

As Serena racked up her 19th Grand Slam, the time was right (ironically in a piece written for Time magazine) for Serena to at least forgive and move on. Accepting a wildcard, she would return to the Premier mandatory event for the first time since her win, marred by controversy in 2001.

 

Speaking to one of the players that knows her best, we were given a brief insight into how precious enduing friendships are in the sport. Caroline Wozniacki explained how Williams had stepped in to help her over the very public break-up of her impending nuptials to Irish golfer Rory McIlroy. She described how the World No. 1 had been almost like a “big sister” to her as the pair hit the beach in the summer ahead of some of Wozniacki’s best tennis in her career.

 

It was Williams that was waiting at the New York finish line as Wozniacki completed her first marathon, with the tennis season still in full swing.

 

The Dane said: “She’s special. She’s a great person. She’s there when you need her. We just click.”

 

She continued: “It’s great for her, it’s great for the tournament and it’s great for tennis. It’s a big step for her and I’m sure she will handle it great.”

Last year’s finalist Agnieszka Radwanska said: “There’s so many other top players, but of course she is in the draw as well so it’s going to be even more tough. It’s good that she’s back here, always another challenge for us playing her here.”

 

The players facing Serena would barely have even started their careers when she lifted her second Indian Wells trophy, but no-one has missed the controversy, but it is time to move on.

 

Canada’s Genie Bouchard said: “The past is the past. The players are excited she’s here. She’s the best player in the world, and this is a major tournament. She should be here.”

 

Even Roger Federer, who is still chasing his 18th Grand Slam title believed that Friday’s come-back match was going to be something special at the Tennis Gardens.

 

“It’s wonderful for American fans who have attended this event for so many years and haven’t seen her play here, so I think it’s great for them. I think it’s great for women’s tennis and I think it’s nice that we get to see her here again.”

 

And here she will be, although without her long-term hitting partner Sascha Bajin who has been at her side for the last eight years, but joins Victoria Azarenka’s new coaching set up.

 

Having struggled with a virus at the start of the year, that limited her Fed Cup duty following her sixth Australian Open win and a 19th Grand Slam, Williams will talk to the press on Thursday ahead of starting her campaign against Monica Niculescu in Friday’s night match.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Related articles:

Charting a New Future by Remembering the Past

Serena Williams Accepts Wild Card Into BNP Paribas Open

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