2014/04/20

Notes From Behind the Wall at the 2013 China Open

 

by Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Notes from Behind the Wall is back for the 2013 edition of the China Open.  The wall is proving to be a tough barrier to our dispatches with the Wi-Fi not working at the media center and the VPN not connecting on my laptop.  But we’re persistent, and we will manage.

 

- First up, the ever persistent haze and smog.  Were we just lucky last year when the whole tournament made it through with mostly clear skies?  Flying in on Monday, I thought I was arriving in Beijing at dawn and not at high Noon.  Lights were already turned on for the courts by 3:30pm.  Pictures looked like stills for some horror movies.  The app for Beijing’s air quality shows that today’s is “Unhealthy.”  I can only feel sorry for the players as they play through this condition.

 

IMG_9426

- Rafael Nadal had a scheduled appearance at the booth of Kunlun, the water sponsor.  When we found out he hadn’t arrived yet at the scheduled hour, we decided we had time to check it out.  As we made it to the sponsors area, we didn’t even have to search for the booth of Kunlun, as slowly approaching us were a mob of people and in the middle of it all was Nadal himself.  It felt like a stampede of wildebeests was coming straight at you and you only had a second to get out of the way.

 

Serena Williams China Open doubles

-  Top singles players nowadays usually play doubles outside the grand slams to maybe get in a match before their singles matches or have “practice matches” to help them with their games.  They try to have more fun and are less intense on the court.  But on Monday, at the Williams/Williams- Huber/Chan match, Serena Williams and to a lesser extent, Venus Williams showed that they’re not taking this match lightly.  Serena was definitely the more intense player, constantly fist-pumping and urging on Venus.  And the fans were responding to them with shouts of “C’mon, Serena!” and “C’mon, Venus!”

 

But the star of the match turned out to be Hao-Ching Chan.  She showed from the start she was never intimidated and was never afraid.  And as she started to match the Williams’ intensity with her own, grunting along in her high-pitched voice, going toe-to-toe in the baseline exchanges and poaching at the net for volley winners, she turned the fans to her side.  As much as she was fighting hard out there, she was showing that she was enjoying the battle too, flashing smiles every time she comes out on top.  And the crowd loved it and was treated to a competitive and exciting match.  Huber/Chan eventually saved match points, and another volley winner from Chan in turn set up match point for her team which they eventually converted as Serena served a double fault.  An unfortunate end (for Serena’s racquet as well – chucked and thrown away after the double fault) to an otherwise high quality, high intensity doubles match – 6-7 (3), 6-4, 11-9.  The fans left having discovered a player to root for in Hao-Ching Chan.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

Photos from Monday’s play and the players party from Natalie Ho.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2013

NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [WC] F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs L Rosol (CZE) – ATP
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 7:30 PM
B Jovanovski (SRB) vs [4] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP

LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
F Mayer (GER) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[13] S Lisicki (GER) vs [WC] V Williams (USA) – WTA
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [6] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
P Andujar (ESP) vs [4] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs [6] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

Not Before 2:30 PM
[10] R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] S Zhang (CHN) – WTA
V Lepchenko (USA) vs [9] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 6:30 PM
L Robson (GBR) vs [7] A Kerber (GER) – WTA

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
S Querrey (USA) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [WC] D Wu (CHN) – ATP
[11] S Stephens (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [2] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Lindstedt (SWE) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] S Devvarman (IND) – ATP

Not Before 2:00 PM
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[Q] Y Lu (TPE) vs N Davydenko (RUS) – ATP
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 4 start 12:30 pm
[6] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) vs V King (USA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 7 start 12:30 pm
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [12] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
M Matosevic (AUS) vs J Benneteau (FRA) – ATP
K Mladenovic (FRA) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA – After suitable rest
S Lisicki (GER) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) / L Raymond (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

COURT 8 start 12:30 pm
V Dushevina (RUS) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [4] J Jankovic (SRB) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) vs U Radwanska (POL) – WTA
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) vs [WC] M Gong (CHN) / Z Li (CHN) – ATP – After suitable rest
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Huber (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Reversal of Fortune in New Haven

Wozniacki frustrated

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2013) Yesterday,  Caroline Wozniacki was asked about her high quality play in the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open against Sloane Stephens. “You never know,” she replied, “Every match is different.  Sometimes you feel really great out there.  Sometimes it’s a struggle, but you need to find a way to win.  Sometimes it’s a little up and down.”  Sure enough, today’s semifinal action at Yale proved to be a complete reversal from the form the competitors displayed in their quarterfinals.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova entered the semifinals today having been extended to three sets in each of her last six matches, including all three matches she played in New Haven.  In fact, 12 of her last 15 matches, dating back to the Eastbourne event in June, have gone the distance.  Kvitova had played a WTA Tour-leading 30 three set  matches.  But today she cruised through her semifinal against Klara Zakopalova.  Kvitova was a model of efficiency against her friend and Czech countrywoman Zakopalova.  Despite serving three double faults in the match, Kvitova’s serve was a huge weapon; she won 23 of 26 first serve points, and never faced a break point in the match.  The crowd cheered enthusiastically for Zakopalova when she finally held serve in the twelfth game, but the end result was no longer in doubt, and Kvitova advanced 6-0, 6-1.
The evening match saw 4-time New Haven champion Caroline Wozniacki square off against Simona Halep, the 21-year-old Romanian who has won three events over the summer.  Wozniacki, so sharp in the quarterfinals against Stephens, could not recapture that form today.  She made too many errors and seemed easily flustered in the first set.  Halep, with the experience she’s gained this year, took advantage.  After Wozniacki lost the opening set 6-2, she tried to change tactics. She hit a higher ball with little pace, and mixed in some drop shots. The strategy partially worked, as it forced Halep into more errors, but Halep still had full control of the match. She broke Wozniacki at 5-5 in the second set, and held her nerve to serve out the match, 6-2, 7-5.
Halep will face Kvitova for the first time in her career in tomorrow’s Championship match.
Around the Grounds… Kvitova is hoping to defend a title successfully for the first time tomorrow. “I have one more new motivation then,” she said when reminded she’s never defended a title…. Wozniacki was asked about Halep’s sudden improvement, and spoke of how quickly intangibles like confidence can turn around someone’s game. “You know, the thing is, it can switch so quickly.  It can be one match that changes completely.  All of a sudden you feel like you’re playing great, you’re on a roll. Yeah, it’s so little, and it can do so much to your game.”… Defending doubles champion Liezel Huber and partner Nuria Llagostera Vives were eliminated in the Doubles semifinals by Anabel Medina Garrigues and Katarina Srebotnik.  Huber won the 2012 New Haven Open title with Lisa Raymond; Huber/Llagostera Vives had elimanted Raymond and current partner Flavia Pennetta in the opening round. Medina Garrigues and Srebotnik, the second seeds, take on The No. 3 seeds Sania Mirza and Jie Zheng in Sunday’s championship match.
Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.
 NEW HAVEN OPEN AT YALE
New Haven, CT, USA
August 18-24, 2013
$690,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, August 23, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
(3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 60 61
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (4) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 62 75

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik (ESP/SLO) d. (4) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 46 75 101 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Stadium (from 12.25hrs)
1. Doubles Final: Mirza/Zheng vs. Medina Garrigues/Srebotnik
2. Singles Final: Simona Halep vs. Petra Kvitova (NB 15.00hrs)

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Sorana Cirstea: Focused on Improvement and Full of Belief

Cirstea Press

By Brodie Elgin

(August 8, 2013) TORONTO – When people refer to the “power game” in women’s tennis today, they often base it off of their experience with women’s tennis in the 1990s or the serve and volley days of the 1980s and prior. Not only are the racquet technologies of today different, but players are more fit and strong, and most women play their games from the baseline. It has been a gradual upward correlation between big hitting and big success.

 

While some of the top players in the game, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova hit the ball with incredible pace, ripping the cover off the ball isn’t an exclusively top 5 trait. Sorana Cirstea is known for her big ground strokes. Her blistering forehand is even more impressive courtside, so much so that it often leaves fans unfamiliar with her oohing and aahing at the sight of her first few big shots.

 

Back on her beloved hard courts for the first time since Miami, Cirstea made an impressive run to the Stanford semifinals and then lost in her quarterfinal match in Washington before heading to Toronto. Her impressive form from Stanford has continued in Toronto as she won two of the biggest matches of her season, defeating two former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in under 24 hours to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

 

After saving two match points against Wozniacki, Cirstea reeled off 15 straight points, including the second set tiebreak to love. “I kind of started to take charge, you know, and be in control of the points.” She looked primed to control the third set with chances to hold and consolidate a break to take a 1-4 lead. However, she was eventually broken and quickly found herself locked at 3-3. Instead of letting frustrations boil over, she took a walk to the backboard, put her hands on her hips and gave herself a talking to. It worked, and holding twice she eventually broke Wozniacki to love as the Dane served at 4-5, and Cirstea took the match 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-4. “I’m proud of the fact that from the first moment until the last moment that I had the belief in me.  I feel I earned that victory.  I fought very hard for it.”

Sorana Cirstea

Eventually getting back to the hotel early Thursday morning at 1:30am, Cirstea was faced with the difficult task of taking on Jelena Jankovic, a short 16 hours later. She frustrated Jankovic by going for big winners when the time arrived, and the Serbian failed to effectively counterpunch Cirstea’s overwhelming power. Jankovic became particularly frustrated in the second set, and Cirstea moved on into the quarterfinals, winning 6-3, 6-4. “I think I made a huge step forward today by backing up the win from yesterday, because I think this was one of the issues in the past.  I would have a good win but then couldn’t really back it up.”

After Wimbledon, Cirstea spent two weeks in Las Vegas with the Adidas Player Development Program including Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi, as well as his long time fitness coach Gil Reyes. The fitness training appears to have helped.” I actually woke up, and I was very surprised nothing was hurting, nothing was sore,” Cirstea said about the morning after her Wednesday night marathon match, “so I was like, “oh, this is a new feeling.” The fact that after playing three hours yesterday, today I was actually fine, and I knew Jelena is a tough player and she’s going to make me run a lot.  I was like, Okay, I have no problem.  That’s why I’m here, no?”

 

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

The opportunity to hit with Steffi Graf was not just a fun opportunity, but somewhat of a daunting one as well. “I started tennis because of Steffi Graf, so of course the first time I met her I couldn’t even talk that’s how nervous I was. Even now, every time she comes I’m so nervous,” Sorana laughed. “Every time Steffi comes in, the rhythm that she plays [with], so 45 minutes with her feels like an hour and a half. She’s so professional, still so fit, even now. She’s my idol, and my biggest example. I think I’m quite lucky to interact with them and learn.”

 

While hitting big has never been a problem for the Romanian, Cirstea is hoping to take her game to the next level through improved fitness and mental maturity on court. This is already the ninth time she has won this year after dropping the first set. “Everyone knows that I start a little bit slow. This year I’ve been trying to change a little bit of things, and for me to actually start better from the beginning, and try to get ahead. But right now, I never lose my belief. If you’re better than me, you have to beat me.” The Romanian has looked particularly composed on court this week, with few outbursts towards her coaches, and often catching herself to walk to the back board and tap her racquet on it as a mental reminder to stay focused.

 

While big hitting players can often gain a lot of hype as potential top 10 players, Cirstea insisted she’s more focused on improving the parts of her game that she wants to work on than focusing on a specific ranking number goal. “I’m enjoying more, and I’m learning more things about myself.  I think I grew up and matured along the way.  I have been through great times, tough times, and I’m happy that I had all those, because they helped me be stronger and just be a better person and also athlete.”

Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic All Fall on Day 3 of Wimbledon

Michelle Larcher de Brito

Michelle Larcher de Brito

(June 26, 2013) Four former number ones – Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic all lost in the second round on Wednesday at Wimbledon.

Sharapova was ousted by Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito ranked 131st in the world 6-3, 6-4.

Sharapova slipped and fell several times on the  court while de Brito played aggressively while returning the Russian’s shots like a backboard. One of  Sharapova’s falls on Court 2 required a medical time out taken off-court.

“I give her a lot of credit,” said Sharapova.  “I think she played extremely well today.  She was really solid from the baseline.  I don’t feel like I was aggressive enough, that I hit the ball deep enough.  I wasn’t ready after the returns or the serves.  She’s someone that plays extremely aggressive.  I just wasn’t there.”

“I’m really excited,” de Brito said.  “I really can’t believe it.  It’s a little bit of shock and excitement.

“I’m just really happy I got through that match.  It was a really great win for me.”

“When I was 16, when I was in the top 100, when I was there, everybody was comparing me to like Martina Hingis, you know, expecting me to win a Grand Slam at that age,” the 20-year-old said.

“But that doesn’t happen anymore, winning Grand Slams so young.  Tennis is so competitive now and so hard, it’s hard to stay there.  Also with all the restrictions from the WTA, I was only allowed to play I think eight tournaments a year.  It was hard for me to stay in the top 100.  When I had points, I couldn’t defend them because I was only playing maybe one or two tournaments a month.  And before you didn’t have those restrictions.

So it was hard for me to stay in the top 100.  Obviously my results didn’t go so good for a while.  But it was hard to stay there ’cause I was restricted to tournaments.

“But, yeah, I mean, a lot of people expected a lot from me.  But, you know, I just tried to stay there and kept going, and now I’m here again, and I hope to just keep doing well for the rest of the year.”

 

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard knocked out No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3.  The 2012 Junior Wimbledon winner began the match by breaking Ivanovic for a 2-0 lead and never looked back.

“To play on Centre Court at Wimbledon,” said Bouchard. “ It’s what everyone wants to do.  So, yeah, it was a great opportunity for me.”

The 66th-ranked Bouchard  has moved up from 196 over the last 10 months.

“I think any day I can beat anyone.  It’s just about playing the way I know I can play.”

“Today I was able to stay with her and take my chances when I could,” said the 19-year-old.  “I mean, anything can happen in a match.”

“Definitely she played very good match today,” Ivanovic said.  “Was the first time I actually I saw her play, so it was obviously a little bit tough to get used to.

“She was tracking the ball really well, serving well.”

“I think I had chances obviously in the beginning of the match that I didn’t use,” said the Serb.  “My forehand wasn’t there today.  I think that was a big issue today in my game.  She was playing really well, and I had to do more with it, which I didn’t.  That was a little bit disappointing.”

 Wozniacki

No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki playing with a taped up right ankle was dismissed by Petra Cetkovska 6-2, 6-2.  Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, ranked 196th in the world had to qualify for Wimbledon.

A year ago Cetkovska was ranked as high as 25 but was sidelined with an ankle injury and a foot injury. Her right knee was taped for the match.

The Czech woman hit 30 winners against the slumping Wozniacki, who also lost in the second round of Roland Garros.

“There’s not much to say,” Wozniacki said about the loss.

“Right now the thing I’m most concerned about is to get fit to fight again so I can compete on a high level.  So that’s what I’m most concerned about right now.”

Health is the Dane’s main objective right now. “Honestly right now what my main focus is, is to get my body back in shape, tip‑top feeling 100%.  That’s when I can start focusing on exactly what I want to do on the court to be 100% ready, you know.

“But I think right now it’s just important that I feel absolutely no pain once I step out on the court.  That’s really what I’m looking for right at this point.”

Jelena Jankovic lost to Serbian countrywoman Vesna Dolonc 7-5, 6-2.

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Hampton in the Hunt for Maiden Title in Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

(June 21, 2013) EASTBOURNE, England -

Jamie Hampton def. Caroline Wozniacki 6-7(8), 7-5, 6-3
Qualifier, Jamie Hampton is hunting for her maiden WTA tour title, after scoring another good win in the Aegon International, Eastbourne.

Hampton started strongly, taking the initiative early, but Wozniacki dragged the first set into a tiebreak.

Momentum again looked to be with the American, but set points went begging partly down to two outlandishly missed volleys.

Suddenly the Dane was in the driver’s seat, rounding out the first set 10-8 in the tiebreak.

It was all looking like a formality, as Wozniacki’s experience seemed to serve her better in the blustery conditions.

But Hampton fought back to break as Wozniacki was serving for the match at 5-4.

Hampton had her tail up and broke again to take the match into a decider.

Wozniacki broke early in the third set, only to lose the advantage immediately, and in a match that had seen swings of momentum throughout, it was Hampton who nudged ahead.

Serving for the match at 5-3, Wozniacki saved one match point, but there were no mistakes on the second as Hampton put a volley slap bang in the corner of the court.

Wozniacki could only wryly smile as the American qualifier reaches her first tour final.

It seemed less like a sleepy seaside town and more like playing in the middle of a tornado at times.

Hampton joked about the conditions in her post match press conference:
“Conditions are a little rougher than everywhere else, but you guys make up for it with the nice courts.”

Although mindful that she has a shot at her maiden title tomorrow, Hampton could not resist a peek at the Wimbledon draw, where she will face fellow American Sloane Stephens.

“It’s a bit of a bummer that two Americans have to play first round considering we both had great French Opens, but I’m going to treat it just like every other match.”

 

Elena Vesnina def. Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-0
Hampton will face Russia’s Elena Vesnina, who overcame Yanina Wickmayer rather easily than she anticipated.

Wickmayer handed over two breaks of serve, and called down her coach after losing the first set.

However, it seemed to do her no good at all as she did not register another game for the rest of the match.

“I was expecting it’s going to be very long and difficult match for both of us.
“I think after first set she kind of lose her concentration, and it looks like she didn’t know what to do,” said Vesnina after the match.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, the Russian had been playing some attention to Hampton’s progress through the tournament this week.

“It’s going to be very interesting match, I think. Jamie is a very talented player. It’s her first final.

“I’m pretty sure she’s very excited about that.”

Wickmayer had taken out two top ten players this week, first dispatching Petra Kvitova and then Maria Kirilenko, both in three-setters.

But there was none of that fight left in her today, leaving Vesnina looking to follow up her own maiden title from Hobart this year.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist – an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She’s covering the AEGON International this week as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.

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Thursday’s Roundup at Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2013) EASTBOURNE, England – The playing conditions on Thursday started in the murk of a mist coming in off the sea, a complete contrast to the hot sunny conditions the day before.

 

No sooner had the first players made their way out and finished knocking up, a persistent bout of rain saw play suspended for over an hour.

 

When play did resume, it was in a backdrop of mist or, as we learned, a sea-fret [a wet mist or haze coming inland from the sea].

 

Either way, visibility was poor for the first set or so, causing issues in the early matches.

feliciano-lopez-tennis-panorama-300x450

Feliciano Lopez def. Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(6)

Verdasco had not been happy about the restart even before the match started, complaining to ATP tour supervisor Tom Barnes.

 

The conditions better suited Lopez, who dialed into his serve well today, taking advantage of the muggier conditions to put his slice to effective use.

 

Verdasco was less than pleased with the decisions made after the match, claiming: “(If) I was Rafael Nadal, I can say, I don’t play, and I’m pretty sure that the ATP will say, Okay, we wait till the court is good.

 

“But because I’m not Nadal or Federer or any of these guys, I need to do what the ATP wants, because if I said, I go, the tournament will not say, we wait.

 

“Then I will get a fine from the ATP because I didn’t want to play in the bad conditions.”

 

Verdasco went on to describe the close friendship that he shares with Lopez, and how he was able to joke about hating him (not to mention a description that would send the elderly of Eastbourne to an early grave).

 

Lopez agreed that conditions today had been difficult with the humidity but took Verdasco’s comments at the end in good humor.

 

Lopez will face Ivan Dodig in the semifinals.

 

Jamie Hampton def. Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4

Another player who had to contend with the unusual weather was Jamie Hampton who took a couple of tumbles on her way to winning a taut three-setter against Safarova.

 

The haze over Court 1 was quite considerable when they resumed play, as Hampton explained.

 

“We were basically playing in a cloud.  There was so much moisture in the air, and the court was slick so I was having a hard time with my footing and my movements.”

 

Hampton will become the No. 3 American on Monday when the new rankings come out, behind Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.

 

Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina def. Li Na 7-6(4), 6-3

Another top seed was heading up to SW19 early, as Li Na headed out of Eastbourne, care of Vesnina.

 

By her own admission, the match had been a little in and out for her: “Sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court.

 

“Of course I would like to do more matches [and] still looking forward for Wimbledon.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki def. Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3

Caroline Wozniacki made sure a lines-judge felt her wrath after being called on a foot fault in the second set.

 

First arguing with the umpire, then demonstrating to the judge in question how her heel bone was connected to the anklebone, or at the very least explaining the rules.

 

Finally the umpire had to intervene and redirect Wozniacki’s focus back to playing the match.

 

Whatever the issue was, it irked here enough to rip through the second set without dropping a game, leaving Makarova looking stunned at the changeover before losing the deciding the set.

 

Wozniacki was unrepentant in her press conference about perhaps the lines judge wanting to feel “important”:

 

“I don’t see a reason other than that why you wanted to call a foot fault on a second serve that isn’t a foot fault.”

 

Wozniacki is the sole surviving seed, and faces Jamie Hampton in the semi final.

GilliesSimonTasteofTennis

Gilles Simon def. Bernard Tomic 7-6(8), 6-3

The last match of the day saw France’s Gilles Simon advance to the semifinals over Bernard Tomic.

 

Tomic seemed to have lost heart after losing a tight tie-break, down 1-4 after a brief rain shower but managed to regroup a little.

 

Rounding out the singles action, Yanina Wickmayer knocked out the sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

 

Ros Satar is a British Journalist – an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She’s covering the AEGON International this week as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.

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Phone-Gate and Other Stories in Notes and Quotes From Day Two at the 2013 French Open

 

Sergiy Stakhovsky and phone-gate

Sergiy Stakhovsky upset by a line call during his his losing effort against Richard Gasquet, the Ukranian pulled out his phone to take a photo of the mark on the clay where ball landed.

He argued with Chair Umpire Carlos Ramos on a ball which landed near a line in the first set.

World No. 101 and a membr of the ATP Players Council even tweeted a photo:

 

Stakhovsky who expects to get fined, intends to fight it and plans to show the picture to the tournament supervisor

“I believe it was a bad call, it was a bad judgment,” he said. After all, we are playing on clay, where you should be clearly able to read the mark,” he added, “and unfortunately, not all of our referees are able to do so.”

During the first set on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the 101st-ranked Stakhovsky hit a shot that landed right along a line. The ball was ruled out, but Stakhovsky was sure it was in.

This is not the first time Stakhovsky has done this. He also did the same thing at a tournament in Munich last month.

Gasquet spoke about the incident in his post match news conference:

“I think he was pretty sure the ball was on the line, Gasquet said.  I’m not sure about it.  It’s very close.  Maybe it’s good; maybe it’s out.  I agree it was very close.

“So he’s a funny guy.  I think he’s one of the funniest guys in the draw.  For sure it’s not usual to see that, but I can understand he’s frustrated, because the ball is close.

“I was winning 2‑0.  I broke him.  So for sure not bothering me at all.  I prefer to break him and to be confident.  And I prefer the umpire say no to the ball.  I agree it was a little bit close.

“I think it’s funny.  It’s not problem, for sure.  When you are winning 2‑0, is better for you.  Can laugh a little bit more.

“But I think, yeah, I really don’t know about this ball.  As I said, it’s a very close one.  So I can understand he did that because some weeks ‑‑ two weeks ago I had problems in Rome, so I can understand when a guy is becoming crazy sometimes.

“But I think it was a funny situation.  As I said, he’s a very funny guy, smart guy, so I have no problem about it.”

Sloane Stephens Tennis Panorama Carlsbad

Sloane Stephens and the media

Sloane Stephens met the media after her straight sets win over Karin Knapp.  She had many questions posed to her about her recent slump since the Australian Open and the reaction to her recent controversial interview with ESPN Magazine and article in Time Magazine

 

Stephens: “Obviously I haven’t had that many good results leading up to the clay season, so to get some match in on my favorite surface and get some confidence back and kind of just start feeling ball better.

“Just really excited to be on the court again and, like, loving it again.  Even though ‑‑ I mean, I didn’t win a tournament or I didn’t final a tournament, but I think just having some good results and getting some wins, that really helped.

“Now everything is settled and I’m handling and balancing everything better, so it feels ‑‑ you know, being on the court feels a lot better, and I’m really happy with the way things are going.

 

“I’m only 20 years old, so I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go.  Just finding the right balance is what we’re doing.

 

“It’s been fine for me.  My really good friend came and my mom is here.  I’m just having a good time.  It’s been fun.

 

“I mean, obviously attention is attention.  It comes, it goes.  When you’re winning they love it; when you’re losing they love it.  It’s all the same really.

“Just good to be playing and playing well again.

On what she has leaned in the past few months: “I think most importantly just tough times, they obviously don’t always last.  To get through it is awesome.  I wouldn’t say I had ‑‑ the last couple months have definitely been difficult, but I think I’ve worked my way through it.

I’m feeling good about myself, and I think that’s all that really matters.

 

Asked if she regretted anything she said about Serena Williams or the way it came out: “No.  It’s all been discussed and everything is fine.  Just moving forward.”

 

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki and her golf swing

Caroline Wozniacki snapped a five- match losing streak on Monday when she defeated No. 1 British player Laura Robson in straight sets. In press she was asked if she would work on her golf game for next year’s Masters. Wozniacki’s boyfriend is Rory McIlroy.

“You know, I told Rory, I said, I am not going to hit a ball at the par‑3.  I said, There is no chance.  He goes, Okay.  I respect that.  Of course.  What does he do on the 9th?  Tees it up.  Gives me the club.  He goes, Here you go.  I’m like, First of all, I’m not prepared; second of all, I don’t want to hit the shot.  He said, I don’t think you have a choice now because the crowd is going crazy.  I’m like, I can’t back out now.  And I’m stubborn, as well.  So I was like, Okay, as long as I don’t air it, I’m going to be fine.

“But I think I made the biggest divot on the grass.  And I got quite a few comments after that.  For example, like, you know, How much did you have to pay Augusta for the one acre of grass that you tore up?  I mean, I had to hear about that for quite a long time afterwards.

“I can actually hit the ball decent sometimes; it just didn’t really show on that one.

“And Andy Roddick, he tweeted me afterwards going, Oh, you know, the grass almost went further than your ball.  I’m like, well, as far as I remember, his ball hit the water, too.  So it doesn’t really matter if it’s, you know, how far in the water?  Water is the water, right?

“So I gave him a bit of slack for that.”

TomasBerdych

“The referee is gonna win.”

After losing a tough five setter to Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych was asked which player he favored in the second round match between Monfils and Ernesst Gulbis.

“The referee is gonna win.

The referee is gonna win.  I mean, whatever.  What you gonna say?  They are both great players.  One or the other is gonna win, so I really don’t have any magical feelings to say who’s gonna win.  That’s it.

Radwanska news conf

Aga Radwanska and her hair

Agnieszska Radwanska was questioned about her recent hair color – going from brunette to blonde just before Fed Cup in April.

“Well, you know, it’s just to change something.  Yeah.”

“But I think I go back to dark hair because everybody telling me to come back to the dark, so I will do it soon, probably.

“What do you think?”

Radwanska’s sister Urszula went from blonde to brunette but didn’t like it. “She was brunette for I think two weeks, but she didn’t like it at all, so she changed to blonde again.  We’re both blonde now.”

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Wozniacki Ends Five-Match Skid with Win over Robson in Paris

 

"Austin Powers" and Caroline Wozniacki

“Austin Powers” and Caroline Wozniacki

By Ros Satar

(May 27, 2013) PARIS – Caroline Wozniacki booked her place into the second round with a straight sets win over British No. 1 Laura Robson 6-3, 6-2.

 

Despite having early round exits in the clay tournaments preceding the French Open, the Dane seemed to settle into her rhythm earlier than Robson.

 

Had Robson made more of the three break point opportunities, things may have been a different story.

 

Robson said: “If I had taken those, maybe it would have been a different match.

 

“After that, I kind of was just going for a little bit too much.

 

“She moves so well, so I was just trying to get her out of the court.”

 

Wozniacki broke first, thanks to two Robson double faults, and although she was able to break back, she could not keep a handle on the errors.

 

Things did not improve for her in the second set, with two breaks for the Dane.

 

A late break back for Robson was not enough to stop the 10th seed as she progresses to the second round.

 

Wozniacki had an indifferent clay campaign preceding the French Open, and was happy to get the win.

 

She said: “I went into the match believing in myself and believing that, you know, I was going out there to win, of course.

 

“I knew it was going to be a tough match because Laura is a great player.”

 

She also shed some light about what her new coach should be able to provide, in light of her father, Piotr’s announcement that he would be taking a back seat in terms of his daughter’s career.

 

“It’s important to find the balance between someone who is really good and can push you on the court but also lets you live your life off the court.”

 

Wozniacki will meet Serbia’s Jovanovski in the second round.

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International Premier Tennis League Launched

Paris, France (May 24th, 2013) – Mahesh Bhupathi, Boris Becker and Justin Gimelstob announced the launch of the IPTL - International Premier Tennis League on Friday.

The IPTL  is a city/country based franchise led league involving not only the current Men’s and Women’s players but also the Legends of the game.

The Franchises in the League will be city based across Asia. The first season of the IPTL will witness participation of 6 teams. Additional teams will be added in the 2nd and 3rd seasons of the League.

Each match will consist of 5 sets with no-ad scoring: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Legends Singles (Men)

The IPTL will be held in December 2014 as the Player Auction will be organized in Melbourne in January 2014. IPTL has confirmed player participation from Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Thomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic, Lleyton Hewitt, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Pete Sampras and Carlos Moya.

 

“I believe the future consumer wants to belong to something – and having a team they can support will be what motivates them to become a consumer of tennis. We have put together the ingredients to create something exciting that will activate the entire tennis industry,” said league founder and ATP doubles player Mahesh Bhupathi.

 

Former World No. 1 Boris Becker and Founding Partner of the league said, “This is what the sport needs, the best players in the world playing in a new time sensitive format that would get TV networks excited. Hopefully this can grow into a worldwide property with multiple team owners.”

 

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said that it’s a revolutionary idea: “It will change the image of the sport and help its popularity. I really look forward to be part of that competition and play.”

 

“It’s like a dream come true to play with Legends. Playing on a team is fun and really kind of cool. I like it.” said world No.1 Serena Williams.

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