November 26, 2015

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)


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.


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.


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?”


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


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

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Serena Williams Accepts Wild Card Into BNP Paribas Open


Halep and Pliskova Reach Dubai Final

[portfolio_slideshow size=large]

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 20, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Top seed Simona Halep will play Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Halep rebounded after dropping the opening set to defeat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, while Pliskova came through an almost three hour match with a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win over Garbine Muguruza.

“I was trying everything,” Wozniacki said of the match. “I was just making so many errors, and I don’t really know where they came from. I think I was just tired. You know, it’s been a long week for me.””

“I started the match with a bad tactic,” Halep said. “I just wanted to hit every ball, and I did many mistakes. I couldn’t find the rhythm. So in the second set I said that I have to change it and just to play with a good length and to open the court more. I didn’t want to force too much like in first set. That worked very well for me.”


“It was a really long match,” said Pliskova. “There was so many close points and close games. I was losing. She had some break points in the third set, as well. There’s just few points which is deciding.”

“I think the key was her serve,” said Muguruza. “She served so good. I couldn’t break her serve. I mean, obviously when you cannot break the other one’s serve you feel a lot of pressure with your serve. But it was a very good week. I won incredible matches.”

Halep is looking to win her second title of the year, the Romanian won in Shenzen in January. Pliskova will be playing in her second final of the year, losing in the final at Sydney.


$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

Singles – Semifinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 26 61 61
[17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE) d G. Muguruza (ESP) 64 57 75

Doubles – Semifinals

[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 62 63
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 36 61 10-5

CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
DOUBLES FINAL – [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs [8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
SINGLES FINAL – [1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [17] Ka. Pliskova (CZE)



Halep and Wozniacki Reach Dubai Semifinals

[portfolio_slideshow size=large]

Photos by Nida Alibhai

(February 19, 2015) Dubai UAETop seeded Simona Halep will play third seeded Caroline Wozniacki, and 17th seed Karolina Pliskova will play unseeded Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.


It took Halep two hours and seven minutes to beat Etkaterina Makarova 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 and avenge her defeat by in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last month. Wozniacki withstood a competitive first set to beat Flavia Pennetta 7-5, 6-0.


Pliskova needed two hours 26 minutes to rally past Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 and Muguruza took two hours 19 minutes to overcome Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3.


Halep failed to serve out the match at 5-3 and then needing five match points to clinch the win.


“I didn’t believe in my serve at that moment, and I just tried to finish very quickly and wasn’t good idea,” said Halep. “I was very nervous, and I wanted just to hit winners. It’s not possible at this level, and she’s a good player. I’m really happy that I could finish in the right way and to win, because it was a tough match.”


Wozniacki has been struggling with a sore throat this week.


“I knew that when I’m out there I need to focus 100% on each point,” said Wozniacki. “I can’t just give loose ones away, because that means longer time on court which means I have less of a chance of winning, so especially like now. I think that’s definitely helped me focus.”


Pliskova’s win was her second in two weeks over Safarova after she also won their quarter-final match in Antwerp, but she had to work hard to gain an advantage.


“I would say that she deserved to win as well. I’m a little bit sorry for her,” said Pliskova, “I called coach and he really helped me, and that’s probably the main thing why I won the second set, and then why I won the third set as well.”


Muguruza beat her friend, doubles partner and fellow Spaniard Suarez Navarro.


“I was sad because I lost the first set, but I said, ‘If I want to win this match I cannot play bad the second set’,” said Muguruza. “My only chance is to win the second set and try to have chances to win the match. So I said, Okay, the second set I’m going to give it all, and if I win I will have options to win the match.”


$ 2,513,000.00
15-21 FEBRUARY 2015

Singles – Quarterfinals

[1] S. Halep (ROU) d [6] E. Makarova (RUS) 63 16 75
[3] C. Wozniacki (DEN) d [10] [WC] F. Pennetta (ITA) 75 60
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) d [11] L. Safarova (CZE) 36 76(5) 61
G. Muguruza (ESP) d [13] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 67(4) 63 63

Doubles – Quarterfinals

[7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) d [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) 75 62
[6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d A Rodionova (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) 75 64
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) d M Niculescu (ROU) / A Panova (RUS) 76(6) 64
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d J Goerges (GER) / A Groenefeld (GER) 75 76(1)

CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[8] T Babos (HUN) / K Mladenovic (FRA) vs [7] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[17] K. Pliskova (CZE) vs G. Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Halep (ROU) vs [3] C. Wozniacki (DEN)
A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [6] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)


2015 Australian Open Women’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Women’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

2014 Record: 52-8

Grand Slam Record: 259-39

Australian Open Record: 61-9

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2003, ’05, ’07. ’09, ‘10)

Fast Fact: At the Australian Open, Serena has only lost twice to a Top Ten player (2001 to Hingis, 2008 to Jankovic).


Maria Sharapova

2014 Record: 49-13

Grand Slam Record: 165-40

Australian Open Record: 42-10

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008)

Fast Fact: With her win last week in Brisbane, Sharapova has won a title in each of the last 13 years, placing her 4th in the Open Era behind Navratilova (21), Evert (18), and Graf (14).


Simona Halep

2014 Record: 46-16

Grand Slam Record: 27-18

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Halep celebrated 50 consecutive weeks in the Top Ten, and will mark her one year anniversary during the Australian Open (reached No. 10 on Jan 27, 2014).


Petra Kvitova

2014 Record: 43-16

Grand Slam Record: 64-24

Australian Open Record: 11-6

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2012)

Fast Fact: Kvitova will play her 500th career match in the first round of the Australian Open.


Ana Ivanovic

2014 Record: 58-17

Grand Slam Record: 97-39

Australian Open Record: 24-10

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2008)

Fast Fact: Despite having her best season since 2008, Ivanovic lost to lower-ranked players at all of the Grand Slams in 2014.


Agnieszka Radwanska

2014 Record: 47-22

Grand Slam Record: 90-34

Australian Open Record: 24-8

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Since beating Venus Williams to win 2014 Canadian Open (Montreal), Radwanska has a losing record, 8-9.


Eugenie Bouchard

2014 Record: 43-22

Grand Slam Record: 23-7

Australian Open Record: 5-1

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Bouchard won more Grand Slam matches in 2014 than any other woman (19).


Caroline Wozniacki

2014 Record: 49-19

Grand Slam Record: 79-31

Australian Open Record: 22-7

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011)

Fast Fact: Wozniacki has a 7-0 record in opening round matches at the Australian Open, the only Grand Slam event that she has not lost in the first round.


Angelique Kerber

2014 Record: 47-24

Grand Slam Record: 48-28

Australian Open Record: 11-7

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2013, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Kerber has a 1-7 record against Top 50 players at the Australian Open.


Ekaterina Makarova

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 48-29

Australian Open Record: 18-7

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012, ‘13)

Fast Fact: In her last four Australian Open appearances, Makarova has defeated four Grand Slam champions (Ivanovic, S. Williams, Bartoli, V. Williams).


Dominika Cibulkova

2014 Record: 32-24

Grand Slam Record: 53-29

Australian Open Record: 13-7

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2014)

Fast Fact: Cibulkova has won only six matches since Wimbledon, as many matches as she won en route to the Australian Open final in 2014.


Flavia Pennetta

2014 Record: 33-20

Grand Slam Record: 69-45

Australian Open Record: 13-11

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Pennetta had a losing record at the Australian Open until reaching the QF in 2014.


Andrea Petkovic

2014 Record: 41-23

Grand Slam Record: 31-20

Australian Open Record: 6-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2011)

Fast Fact: Petkovic hasn’t won a match at the Australian Open since 2011 (def. Sharapova 4R).


Venus Williams

2014 Record: 32-14

Grand Slam Record: 221-57

Australian Open Record: 41-14

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2003)

Fast Fact: With her 2014 Australian Open appearance, Venus moves into 3rd place in the Open Era with 65 Slam appearances, trailing only Frazier (71) and Navratilova (67).


Victoria Azarenka

2014 Record: 15-9

Grand Slam Record: 101-32

Australian Open Record: 32-7

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2012, ’13)

Fast Fact: Azarenka enters a Grand Slam event unseeded for the first time since 2007 U.S. Open, after 27 Slams where she was seeded.




Kvitova weighs in on Czech Hopes at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 11, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – After rain prevented play for most of Sunday at the Apia International, Monday’s schedule will feature even more high-profile WTA matchups than previously planned. First up on Ken Rosewall Arena, home favorite Sam Stosur will take on Czech world No. 15 Lucie Safarova. Stosur will need all the home-crowd support she can muster, having not beaten Safarova in their last six meetings.


No. 2 seed Czech Petra Kvitova on Sunday weighed in on Safarova’s chances of having a standout 2015, saying, “I hope that she can make the top 10. She dreamed for it, and hopefully she can make it. I think that she really had a great off-season as well. We practiced in Prostejov at the end of last year. She came for a week, and we had a practice, and she played really well, she’s in good form.”


While the winner between Safarova and Stosur will most likely face No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, Kvitova along with Safarova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova – Wozniacki’s first-round opponent – are the three Czechs contending the bottom half of the draw. In the top half, up-and-coming Czech Karolina Pliskova will face a qualifier to decide who plays top seed Simona Halep in the second round.


Last week in Brisbane, Pliskova surprised her opponent, and the Brisbane crowd, by overpowering Victoria Azarenka in three sets on Pat Rafter Arena, and if she can navigate her way past qualifier Polona Hercog, will most likely find herself on centre court again facing top seed Halep.


“She went with us to be part of the team in the Fed Cup, last week of the last season,” said Kvitova of 22-year-old Pliskova, “She was great, she really handled it very nicely, and the practice with her was great, so it was very nice to have her in the team. And hopefully, with these experiences she can have now, she can play better and better. She’s playing well, I have to say, she’s serving so well. So hopefully it’s going to be a very good future for her.”


The most interesting matchup on Ken Rosewall Arena will be another feature match between third seed Radwanska and world No. 18 Alize Cornet. While Radwanska has enjoyed three main-tour wins to only one loss to the French player, the French player got the better of the Pole only three days ago at the Hopman Cup in Perth. Radwanska will be hoping to follow up on her Apia International title which she failed to defend in 2014.


Women’s defending champion, Tsvetana Pironkova, has won through qualifying to the main draw, and will face Italy’s Flavia Pennetta on Monday on Court 3.


Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .


Stars Descend On Sydney for the Apia International

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Stars of the tennis world have been descending upon Sydney over the last days, while qualifying heats have been contested at the Apia International in Sydney. Last year’s women’s champion Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and won eight matches in a row at the 2014 Apia International, has had to navigate through qualifying again – albeit as top seed this year – and will make it into the main draw if she defeats American Nicole Gibbs on Sunday. Despite lifting her ranking from outside the top 100 a year ago to where it is now at No.37, that Pironkova still needed to qualify is testament to the depth of the women’s draw at this year’s event.

The tournament’s top seed Simona Halep will arrive in Sydney on Sunday, from Shenzhen, China where she won the tournament.
Petra Kvitova lost in the semi-finals of Shenzhen.
Caroline Wozniacki  arrived at Sydney Airport last night from Auckland, losing her Auckland final to Venus Williams.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will complete the Apia International’s top four seeds when she arrives in Sydney from Perth, where she and Jerzy Janowicz – who will also feature strongly on the men’s side of the Sydney tournament – have won the Hopman Cup in an eventful final against USA’s John Isner and Serena Williams.

Janowicz will continue to be a headline act of Australia’s Summer of Tennis, as he plays young Australian giant-killer Nick Kyrgios in their first round match, which was allotted yesterday during a draw ceremony whose guests of honour included Ken Rosewall and Lesley Bowrey. 2005 Sydney finalist Sam Stosur, as well as 2012 Sydney finalist Julien Benneteau, were also in attendance for their respective WTA and ATP draw ceremonies.


While the men’s draw is less stacked than a women’s draw which boasts six top-10 players, Benneteau called the men’s draw, “Very compact,” saying, “Maybe there is not top 10 players, but from the top seeds to the end of the draw, there are tough players between 20, 30, 40, very good players, so I really think that anyone can win on Saturday.”

The men’s top two seeds, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, will fly surprisingly under the radar at this tournament given that last year’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro, has chosen this event to stage his comeback from injury that has left him sidelined for almost a year. Del Potro flew in on Thursday night and has been using the days since to practice on Ken Rosewall Arena, with some light strapping on his wrist.


Ken Rosewall predicted a big year for the new Australian men’s No. 1, saying, “Because of his rapid improvement and his performance at Wimbledon and other senior events, there’ll be a lot of players who’ll be wanting to be in top form when they play against him. Hopefully Nick can remain physically clear without any problems, and he’ll be in good form. But I think there’ll be extra pressure on him this time to kind of stand up to being the number one player in Australia.”


At the women’s draw ceremony, Lesley Bowrey, winner of the French Open in 1964 and 1965, had some timely and compassionate words of wisdom for Sam Stosur, who is known for her struggles to win matches on home soil. “I just want to wish Sam all the best,” said Bowrey, “And just go out there and be free and easy, really, and not worry, as you say about everyone else, and what they’re telling you, just play your own game and do what you want to do.” Stosur has been drawn to face Lucie Safarova, the Czech world No.15 to whom she has lost their last six matches.


“Look, sometimes when I used to lead in matches, and I used to lose them too,” continued Bowrey, perhaps referring to Stosur’s loss last week in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, after having a match point at 5-1 in the deciding set, “We all do that, it’s nothing new, you just have to find a way. What I used to do is just say, well, if I’m leading 5-1 or 5-2 or 5-3, I’d just tell myself I’m down that, and just take the pressure right off myself. That’s how I used to handle it, just tell myself I’m not leading, I’m down. Tennis is a tough game, it’s a tough sport.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .