Rafael Nadal Withdraws from Toronto and Cincinnati with Wrist Injury

Nadal at changeover


(July 30, 2014) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from both the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati due to a right wrist injury.


“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my Rogers Cup title this year,” said Nadal through a Rogers Cup press release. “I was looking forward to coming there and playing again in Toronto as I have always loved to play in Canada and had great results in the past at a very important event.


“Unfortunately I injured my right wrist yesterday during practice and after the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an MRI, and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks,” Nadal said via a news release from the Western & Southern Open. I am sorry and wish the best to the tournament and thank all of the fans for their support,” said Nadal. “I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles and compete in Toronto and Cincinnati this year. I was looking forward to coming and playing again after my great results last year.”


Official announcement from Nadal’s management team in Spanish:

Rafa Nadal no podrá participar y defender los títulos que ganó en la pasada temporada en los torneos de Toronto y Cincinnati.
El jugador ha sufrido una molestia en los entrenamientos preparativos para la gira norte americana y tras unas pruebas realizadas hoy en la Clínica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, se ha encontrado una pequeña desinserción de la vaina del cubital posterior de la muñeca derecha.
El tenista tendrá que estar de 2 a 3 semanas con una célula de inmovilización de la muñeca derecha.
En función de la evolución, que será seguida detenidamente por el Doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro incluyendo pruebas de ecografia y resonancia magnética, se valorará el retorno del jugador a la competición prevista inicialmente para el US Open.


More to follow…..


Nadal versus Isner, Serena Williams versus Azarenka: First-Time Finalists Rule in Cincinnati


By Kevin Ware

(August 17, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Semifinal Saturday at the Western and Southern Open more than lived up to its’ potential. It was a day that featured a drama, tension, butt wiggles, and two matches ending with double faults. In the end, we were left with four first time finalists for Sunday’s final: Rafael Nadal, John Isner, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka.

It’s surprising that such highly-decorated Grand Slam champions such as Nadal and Williams have never even made it to the finals of this event. For two players who’ve won virtually every title available, one would have expected more. Not so with John Isner, who’s finally put it all together and played the tennis we expected of him when he first became the top American male. For Azarenka, it’s a chance to establish some cred ahead of the US Open.

Let’s break down the men’s and women’s finals to see who has the best chance to take the Cincy titles and winning momentum into New York for the US Open.


[4] Rafael Nadal vs John Isner

Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 3-0

Nadal has beaten Isner twice on clay (Madrid and Roland Garros), and once on a hard court at Indian Wells. Though he leads their head-to-head 3-0, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, Isner is one of the few guys that make Nadal nervous; and I mean REALLY nervous. It’s all in the serve. That’s the reason that playing Pete Sampras made Andree Agassi nervous. When you play someone with a serve like Isner or Sampras, the outcome of the match is out of your hands if they serve well. No control.

The Indian Wells match, their one encounter on a hard court, was played in 2010. So it’s fair to say that Isner is a very different player this time around. He has improved his fitness, improved his ground game, improved his defense, and is more willing to come into the net to finish off points.  He’s still vulnerable to Nadal’s game on clay, but is incredibly dangerous on a hard court, and particularly a hard court in the States with heavy American support.

Nadal has played superior tennis to reach this final, with comprehensive wins over Dimitrov and Berdych, and a dramatic win over long-time rival Roger Federer. Isner has also played superior tennis, notching high-quality wins over Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and Del Potro. Nadal would do well to bring his full arsenal to bear in this match so as not to become another victim to the Isner juggernaut.

Isner will need to serve well in order to have any chance at beating Nadal. He served at 66% against Del Potro, 74% against Djokovic, and 62% against Raonic. Over 70% would be ideal, but high 60’s will work as well. Additionally, he’ll need to be as aggressive as he’s been in his last two matches. Particularly against Del Potro, Isner took the initiative and was the more aggressive of the two. He hit more errors, but got a huge payoff in winners. Nadal will need to take this threat seriously and be as aggressive as he can to stay out in front.

In all likelihood, this match is going the distance. The determining factors are Isner’s serve and Nadal’s aggression. All things being even, I’ll give the nod to Nadal for experience (25 shields) in these big Masters Series moments.

Pick: Nadal in 3 sets


Serena Williams usos


[1] Serena Williams vs [2] Victoria Azarenka

Head-to-Head: Williams leads 12-2

(Note – With her win over Li Na in the semifinals, Serena Williams took the top prize in the Emirates US Open Series.)

I’d like to say that this is emerging as one of the better rivalries in the women’s game, but that would be a misnomer because in order to have a rivalry there needs to be a certain amount of parity.  With Williams holding a 12-2 record over Azarenka, that doesn’t really represent parity. Yes the matches have been close, like last year’s US Open final, and Vika has beaten Serena once already in 2013 in Doha. But you never get the feeling that Azarenka is Williams’ equal in these matches. She might play well on the day, but this will never be a rivalry that turns for her.

Both women have played stretches of uneven tennis to make it to the final. Williams was practically gifted her 7-5, 7-5 semifinal win over Li Na when her opponent played inexplicable tennis to lose both the first and second sets after leading 5-4. It may count as a victory in Williams’ favor, but by no means did she “win” this match. She struggled with her serve and the rhythm on her ground strokes, particularly her backhand. She berated herself and looked like she didn’t want to be there…but won it anyway. It says everything about this match that Li Na double faulted on match point.

Azarenka’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Jankovic in her semifinal wasn’t much better. The match featured 23 breaks of serve, and was more entertaining for the video presentation of Azarenka’s butt shaking than the tennis. Azarenka won 47% of her first serve points, 22% of her second serve points, and was broken 10 times. She got the win, but it’s hardly what one would expect from a 2-time Slam champion.

Williams can get away with having an off day and still pulling out the win. But there’s absolutely no way that Azarenka can go into the match with Williams tomorrow and expect to win with the numbers she had tonight. If she serves poorly against Williams in the final, she’ll get punished and the match will be over in an hour, no matter how well she returns the Williams serve.

Against a few other players, I might give them a chance against this less-than-optimal Williams. But in a battle of less-than-optimal Williams and less-than-optimal Azarenka, Williams definitely comes out on top. I’m hoping it’s a close battle, but won’t bet the farm on it.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


Semifinal Saturday in Cincinnati: My Men’s and Women’s Preview/Picks

By Kevin Ware

(August 16, 2013) MASON. Ohio – The women’s quarterfinal matches were solid, but the men stole the spotlight in a spectacular day at the Western and Southern Open.  John Isner beat Novak Djokovic for the second time at a Masters 1000 event during the day session, while the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry thrilled fans in the evening session. It was a great day of tennis by any measure.

Now we must turn our attention to “Semifinal Saturday”, and some great matches that will decide who will vie for the championships on Sunday. The women’s semifinals feature 3 Slam champions, and a former No. 1. The men’s semifinals feature 3 Slam champions and our best US hope for the Top 10.

All are worthy of their spots in the semis, but there can only be two finalists. Let’s dissect the match-ups to see if we can determine who will make it to the finals on Sunday.


[7] Juan Martin Del Potro vs John Isner

Head-to-Head: Del Potro leads 4-0

Isner notched one of the biggest victories of his career in the quarterfinals by beating world No. 1 Djokovic in 3 tough sets. His reward is a rematch with Del Potro, his nemesis from the Citi Open in D.C. Isner lost that match in 3 sets, but was also running on fumes after back-to-back weeks of play. He’s feeling fresher in Cincy, and also feels like his game is finally coming together.

For his part, Del Potro has played well this week in fits and starts, beating Nikolay Davydenko in two tight sets, Feliciano Lopez in three sets, and Dmitry Tursunov in three sets. Good play was followed by lethargic play, which could set him up for a fall against a surging Isner.  Match-ups matter, however, and history matters. Most of Del Potro’s wins over Isner have been comfortable. And that might help him with focus and intensity.

Given Isner’s great play against Djokovic, this match could go either way. But all serves being equal, I’d give the edge to Del Potro for his more potent ground game.

[4] Rafael Nadal vs [6] Tomas Berdych

Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 14-3

Nadal hasn’t lost to Berdych since 2006, which is incredible given Berdych’s solid assent into the top 10. He’s beaten the Czech on clay, hard court, and grass during this period, and has only lost a handful of sets. This isn’t to say that the match will be an easy one, because it won’t. Berdych has a big game.  And when he’s on top of it, his shots are untouchable.

The problem with Berdych is that he usually can’t sustain that level, whether it be nerves or pressure from his opponent. Nadal quickly seizes these moments and capitalizes on the opportunities given.  Also, when you compare their respective quarterfinals, Berdych’s match against Murray wasn’t great, and Nadal’s against Federer was an instant classic. So which player is better prepared for this semifinal? I’d say the man from Mallorca.


[1] Serena Williams vs [5] Li Na

Head-to-Head: Williams leads 7-1

It’s not easy to know whether Serena is serious when she makes comments like “It will be a really tough match because she has such a good game and she does everything so well.” In this case, however, odds are pretty good that she means it. The impressive head-to-head record doesn’t take into account the fact that the matches have been very tight with most of the sets decided by a single break of serve.

Li Na has had an extra day rest due to the withdrawal of Aga Radwanska from the tournament. This could work for her in terms of being the fresher player, or it might affect her timing and rhythm. The more likely scenario is that the day off won’t really matter, and that her performance will be based on whether or not she makes her shots. For Serena, it’s all about motivation. She’d like to win Cincinnati and finally add it to her CV, but the ultimate goal is a US Open title defense starting in less than two weeks. Either way, it will be a tight match in two sets.

[2] Victoria Azarenka vs [14] Jelena Jankovic

Head-to-Head: Azarenka leads 4-3

Neither woman is playing their best tennis this week, but both have played “well enough” to make it this far in the tournament. Jelena knocked out Roberta Vinci in straight sets, while Vika knocked out Caroline Wozniacki, also in straight sets. They haven’t played one another since 2012 Sydney, which Vika won in a fairly routine victory. I expect this match to be closer than that 4 and 2 score line, and likely little more complicated for Vika because Jelena excels in frustrating her opponents. Will frustration be enough to knock Vika off her game for a victory? Probably not.

Semifinal Picks:

ATP – Del Potro, Nadal

WTA – Williams, Azarenka

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


The Western and Southern Open Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinal Preview

Federer and Nadal

By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Friday looks to be one of the most impressive quarterfinal days in memory when quarterfinal action begins at the Western and Southern Open. The credentials of the quarterfinalists are mind-boggling. They include seven Grand Slam singles champions, and seven current and former No. 1’s.  But matches aren’t won on credentials alone, so let’s take a quick look at the match-ups in tomorrow’s lineup.


[Q] Dmitry Tursunov vs [7] Juan Martin Del Potro

Head-to-Head: Del Potro leads 1-0

Qualifier Tursunov has notched some impressive scalps to reach this quarterfinal. His straight sets defeat of David Ferrer was impressive, and Del Potro is well aware of the challenge he faces in this match. In this battle of strong baseliners, the winner will be determined by the guy who takes it to his opponent first and plays the most aggressive (yet steady) tennis.

[1] Novak Djokovic vs John Isner

Head-to-Head: Djokovic leads 3-1

None of the top guys, Novak included, looks forward to playing Big John because of his massive serve. If he serves well, like he did against Novak at Indian Wells in 2012, he will get the win. If Novak does a good job of getting serves back into play, he will win because of his better ground game.

[5] Roger Federer vs [4] Rafael Nadal

Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 20-10

Roger has struggled this summer: with his game, with his body, and with untimely losses. Tomorrow’s match against Rafa, their 31st, won’t help him overcome any of these things. While Roger’s been struggling, Rafa’s been winning. It’s a bad combination for Roger, who’s still trying to find the confidence needed to play his best.  After a tough 3-set comeback against Tommy Haas in R16, Roger’s going to struggle with his post-match recovery. Sadly, look for this “rivalry” to continue to be fairly one-sided.

[6] Tomas Berdych vs [2] Andy Murray

Head-to-Head: Berdych leads 5-4

Murray has won 3 of their last 4 meetings on hard court, and looks primed to make it 4 out of 5 here in Cincinnati. He hasn’t played his best tennis yet, but is more than capable of doing so. Berdych has played well too, but this match-up isn’t a particularly good one for him. He’ll need to play his most aggressive and clean tennis in order to beat Andy, and I don’t think he’ll be able to be as clean as needed.


[1] Serena Williams vs Simona Halep

Head-to-Head: Williams leads 2-0

Halep took Williams to three sets when they played on grass during Serena’s comeback from illness a few years back, but won only 3 games earlier this year on clay in Rome. She’s a fine player with three titles on the year, but no real weapon that can hurt Williams. And since Serena rarely beats herself, this match could end up with the same result as Rome.

[10] Caroline Wozniacki vs [2] Victoria Azarenka

Head-to-Head: Wozniacki leads 4-2

Wozniacki won their last match at Indian Wells when Azarenka retired after 3 games in 2011. At the time, it was her third straight win over Azarenka. But that was before Azarenka stepped up her mental game and became a Slam champion: something Wozniacki has yet to achieve.  So if this isn’t a case of “bad match-up”, Azarenka should make it through to the semis.

[12] Roberta Vinci vs [14] Jelena Jankovic

Head-to-Head: Jankovic leads 4-2

Vinci beat Jankovic in the Sydney R16 earlier this year, but Jankovic returned the favor in Miami by besting Vinci in the quarters. They weren’t particularly the best matches ever played, but both were competitive, and both went the distance. Based on current form, either could win. It all depends upon who executes the best.

Semifinal Picks:

ATP – Del Potro, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray

WTA – Williams, Wozniacki, Jankovic, Li*

(*Li Na is through to the semifinals because of a walkover from Aga Radwanksa. Radwanska flew home for the funeral of her grandfather who passed last Sunday. Our thoughts go out to her at this time.)

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 12-18, 2013

Results – Thursday, August 15, 2013
Singles – Quarterfinals
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) w/o (personal reasons)

WTA Singles – Third Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 64 61
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 63 64
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 60 62
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (9) Angelique Kerber (GER) 64 64
(12) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (6) Sara Errani (ITA) 64 63
(10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (7) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 62 63
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (11) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 64 46 62
(14) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Sloane Stephens (USA) 36 75 75

WTA Doubles – Quarterfinals
Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) d. (1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) 46 62 119 (Match TB)
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 62 75
(3) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) d. (7) Chan/Srebotnik (TPE/SLO) 63 62
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Kerber/Petkovic (GER/GER) 61 26 1210 (Match TB)

ATP Singles – Third Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d [Q] D Goffin (BEL) 62 60
[2] A Murray (GBR) d J Benneteau (FRA) 62 62
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) d [3] D Ferrer (ESP) 62 64
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d G Dimitrov (BUL) 62 57 62
[5] R Federer (SUI) d [11] T Haas (GER) 16 75 63
[6] T Berdych (CZE) d T Robredo (ESP) 63 60
[7] J del Potro (ARG) d F Lopez (ESP) 64 16 64
J Isner (USA) d [12] M Raonic (CAN) 76(5) 64

ATP Doubles – Quarter-finals
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d [3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) 62 46 16-14

Doubles – Second Round

[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d J Chardy (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) w/o (Chardy – left knee)
[4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) d J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) 63 64
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d [5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) 63 76(3)
[WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) d [7] J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 61 64


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) vs [7] J del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs J Isner (USA) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) or M Barthel (GER) vs S Halep (ROU) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[5] R Federer (SUI) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 8:30 PM
[10] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am

M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs [2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
[12] R Vinci (ITA) vs [14] J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [6] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon

[8] R Bopanna (IND) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs [4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
[3] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA-TBA
Not Before 4:00 PM
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) – ATP-Possible Court Change



Third Time Not a Charm as Dimitrov Loses Again to Nadal


By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Grigor Dimitrov lost a tightly-contested match to Rafael Nadal  6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Thursday night  at the Western and Southern Open. The loss was his third straight to Nadal after losses in Monte Carlo (’13) and Rotterdam (’09). It would be great if we could say that he’s getting closer to solving the Nadal puzzle, but there’s still a ways to go before that happens.

All three previous matches have gone the distance (three sets), and all have followed the same pattern of Dimitrov mounting a second set comeback only to lose in the third. This latest loss in Cincinnati even included two breaks of serve in each of the sets he lost; this on a night when he was serving at a respectable 73% overall on the night.

What will it take for Dimitrov to overcome the man of steel from Mallorca?

I had a chance to chat with Dimitrov  immediately following the match, and was able to ask him about his physical condition (after a couple of injury scares during the match), his strategy going into this match, and what he thinks is needed in order to turn this pattern of defeats into a first win.

How are you feeling physically? You were grabbing at your chest sometimes during the match.

I thought I pulled a muscle in the second set on one return. So I was just struggling a little bit. But I went through the pain and had a good second set which was actually pretty good. Yeah, physically I’m not too bad anymore and I’m happy for that. It’s a positive thing.

Is it hard on your body running from side to side, covering as much court as Nadal makes you defend?

You know where he’s going to play, but the ball comes really fast. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, you just gotta go to the ball and get it back in the court. I think he has one of the best forehands. I mean, obviously it was just an unbelievable first set from him. Not much I can say about that. Definitely congrats and well, life goes on. Work even harder, and look forward to playing him again.

It looked like your game plan was to slice to Nadal’s forehand to keep the ball low, and attack his backhand. Did you feel you were successful in doing so?

I tried I think a lot of things in the first set but obviously it didn’t really work. He was making absolutely every single shot. I was just trying to find/see where I could find the gap, and there you go. I found the gap in the second set and had this momentum that I grabbed it. And he came out of the block pretty good in the third set so I couldn’t really do much. And even if I was serving 74% it wasn’t enough. I definitely will sit down with my coach and discuss that.

Was the effort that it took out of you to take the second set the difference in the third set? Was it hard to maintain that same level?

He started putting even more balls into the court. He was waiting for me to attack him. And here and there, I missed a few shots and that was the breaks. Even though the score was 6-2 almost every game was 30-40 or deuce or something like that. So the margin was pretty small. And at that level it just takes one or two points.

Given the loss, were you happy with how you played?

I wouldn’t say happy. One thing I’m happy physically. I feel quite alright and I’m still feeling good which is very positive to me. Last time I played him for two hours I was cramping a little bit. So that’s a positive thing. But other than that, of course. Playing against a guy like him, a Top 10 player in general, is always a pleasure. I always enjoy the battles. But I’m looking forward to really starting to give them even a harder time.

What do you think is the difference, that small delta you need to take a match like this?

I’ve done it once, I just need to find the same formula in the same way I’ve been preparing for consistency on and off the court and throughout all the weeks. It’s never easy to travel and come to the week playing then next week playing again. So if you have that good level, and after you raise up your low level, then when matches like this come you will definitely be more ready.

Are you going to take a few days off?

I say maybe one day is gonna be enough, and then looking forward to getting to the (US) Open.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


Nadal Continues His Winning Ways against Becker in Cincy Opener

Rafael Nadal

By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Rafael Nadal handily dispatched Benjamin Becker in Wednesday’s first match of the evening at the Western and Southern Open. It was his first since winning the Rogers Cup title in Montreal on Sunday.

Nadal didn’t play his best, but on this night and against this opponent, it wasn’t needed. His “B” game was more than enough to keep the 100th-ranked Becker frustrated by excessive topspin, scrambling to stay in points, and struggling to hold serve.

Neither player served particularly well (52% for both). But Nadal won a whopping 95% of his first serve points, and a strong 60% of second serve points. He also saved the two break points he faced in the match, coming back from 15-40 to hold for a 5 games to 1 lead in the first set.


Generally, Nadal was pleased with his game. “Just for a few games the serve was down a little bit.  I served with too much second serves just a few games. For the rest, I think I played a great match.”

Since most went deep in their respective Rogers Cup events in Montreal and Toronto, many of the top players had little practice time and have struggled with the court conditions in Cincinnati. Nadal was asked to weigh in with his thoughts on the different conditions.

“When you change cities, change a little bit of weather, the feelings on the ball is different. The speed of the court is not exactly the same.  It’s a little bit slower here than in Montreal.” Given Nadal’s preference for slower surfaces, this should give him comfort in the later rounds with the big hitters.

Nadal’s biggest battle on the night was the consistency in his forehand. At times, he hit monster forehands that Becker had no chance to reach. At other moments, he over-hit badly. Fortunately, the good outnumbered the bad with 15 winners on the night.

Additionally, big misses are a positive sign that Nadal is playing aggressively and going for big shots; which was a key to his victory over Djokovic in Montreal.

Nadal’s next match is against the talented Grigor Dimitrov.  Though their last match was on clay in Monte Carlo – one of Nadal’s most fruitful tournaments – it was a tough three-setter that Nadal won by a break in the third. He is keenly aware of the potential for danger in this match.

“He had already tough matches against Murray, Djokovic.  He’s a player that has great potential.  Tomorrow will be a tough match for me, so I have to keep playing this way and play very well.  When I have chances, I’m going to try.”

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 12-18, 2013

Results – Wednesday, August 14, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (Q) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 46 62 62
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 64 60
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (WC) Lauren Davis (USA) 46 61 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) 64 57 64
(7) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (Q) Marina Erakovic (NZL) 64 67(7) 63
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (8) Marina Bartoli (FRA) 36 64 61
(9) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 76(3) 62
(10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (LL) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 64 63
(11) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Jamie Hampton (USA) 63 76(3)
(12) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (Q) Andrea Petkovic (GER) 64 67(3) 63
(14) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 26 63 63
Mona Barthel (GER) d. (16) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 64 64
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. Venus Williams (USA) 62 57 62
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Alizé Cornet (FRA) 36 75 75

WTA Doubles – Second Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. (WC) Hantuchova/Hingis (SVK/SUI) 64 64
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. (WC) King/Kleybanova (USA/RUS) 62 64
(3) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) d. Dushevina/Soler-Espinosa (RUS/ESP) 61 61
(WC) Kerber/Petkovic (GER/GER) d. (4) Hlavackova/Raymond (CZE/USA) 63 46 119 (Match TB)
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) 62 61
(7) Chan/Srebotnik (TPE/SLO) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 46 63 106 (Match TB)
Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Flipkens/Kvitova (BEL/CZE) w/o (Kvitova: dizziness)
Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) d. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja (JPN/ESP) 76(2) 67(4) 104 (Match TB)

Singles – Second Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d J Monaco (ARG) 75 62
[2] A Murray (GBR) d M Youzhny (RUS) 62 63
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] B Becker (GER) 62 62
[6] T Berdych (CZE) d J Nieminen (FIN) 63 62
[7] J del Potro (ARG) d N Davydenko (RUS) 75 75
J Isner (USA) d [8] R Gasquet (FRA) 76(6) 62
T Robredo (ESP) d [9] S Wawrinka (SUI) 75 36 63
[11] T Haas (GER) d M Granollers (ESP) 64 61
[12] M Raonic (CAN) d J Tipsarevic (SRB) 64 76(4)
[Q] D Goffin (BEL) d V Pospisil (CAN) 75 16 76(6) – saved 4 M.P.
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) d [WC] J Blake (USA) 64 64
F Lopez (ESP) d J Chardy (FRA) 64 22 ret. (left knee)

Doubles – Second Round
[2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d [PR] M Fish (USA) / J Melzer (AUT) 75 64
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) 64 76(6)
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) 76(3) 64
[8] R Bopanna (IND) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) 75 63

Doubles – First Round

J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) 61 64
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) 76(5) 64


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] D Goffin (BEL) – ATP
[5] R Federer (SUI) vs [11] T Haas (GER) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) vs M Barthel (GER) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
F Lopez (ESP) vs [7] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[14] J Jankovic (SRB) vs S Stephens (USA) – WTA
J Benneteau (FRA) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
[7] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [10] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[11] S Stosur (AUS) vs S Halep (ROU) – WTA
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Chardy (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [Q] D Tursunov (RUS) – ATP
[12] M Raonic (CAN) vs J Isner (USA) – ATP
Not Before 2:30 PM
[4] A Radwanska (POL) vs E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs T Robredo (ESP) – ATP

COURT 9 start 11:00 am

[5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] S Errani (ITA) vs [12] R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[9] A Kerber (GER) vs [5] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
[WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) vs [7] J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) – ATP-After Suitable Rest
L Huber (USA) / N Llagostera Vives (ESP) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA-After Appropriate Rest

COURT 4 start 3:00 pm
J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) vs [4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
Not Before 4:30 PM
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) – ATP
[WC] A Kerber (GER) / A Petkovic (GER) vs [6] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest

COURT 6 start 4:00 pm
[7] H Chan (TPE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [3] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA


Marion Bartoli Announces Retirement After Loss at Western & Southern Open



(August 14, 2013) 2013 Wimbledon Ladies’ champion Marion Bartoli has announced her retirement from tennis after losing her match to Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday night in Mason, Ohio.

“Well, it’s never easy and obviously there is never a time to say it or whatever, but that was actually the last match of my career, ” Bartoli said to open her post-match news conference.  “Sorry.”

“It’s time for me to retire and to call it a career.  I feel it’s time for me to walk away actually.”

The 28-year-old Frenchwoman ranked No. 7 in the world continued: “I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

Bartoli said her achilles heel, shoulder, hips and lower back hurt constantly when she played.

“My body just can’t do it anymore.  I’ve been already through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year.  I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really push through and leave it all during that Wimbledon.

“I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body.  I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

So what does Bartoli plan on doing in the future? “Oh, gosh, I don’t know,” she said.  “I haven’t think about it so much.  There is so many things to do in life rather than playing tennis, so I’m sure I will find something.  I just need a bit of time to kind of settle down.”

“It’s been a tough decision to take.  I don’t take this easily.  I mean, I’ve been a tennis player for a long time, and I had the chance to make my biggest dream a reality.  I felt I really, really push through the ultimate limits to make it happen.

“But now I just can’t do it anymore.”



Raonic Wins Cincy Opener against Sock, Faces Tipsarevic in Next Round

Milos Raonic Cincy-001

By Kevin Ware

(August 13, 2013) MASON,  Ohio – Canadian Milos Raonic defeated American Jack Sock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in his opening match at the Western and Southern Open. But it wasn’t easy, or pretty.

Their only previous meeting on tour was earlier this year in Memphis, with Sock beating the newly-crowned three-time San Jose champ in three hard-fought sets, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

“I came into that match having just won a title (San Jose). He came out really without much to lose, playing well and playing aggressive, and never let me get into a rhythm.”

Using the same game plan as Memphis, Sock came out in the first set firing big with his serve and forehand. And though Sock is listed at 180 lbs., he scrambled effectively in defense of Raonic’s own equally big forehand and serve, at one point retrieving 3 overheads before hitting a winner past the frustrated Canadian.

Fresh on the heels of his runner-up finish in Montreal, Raonic was clearly out of sorts with his game. He often looked in exasperation at his easy misses, and often gestured to his coach, Ivan Lubjcic. It speaks volumes that one of the best servers on tour gave up the only break in that set.

“Today I was trying to find that (rhythm) again. And he was serving really well in the beginning so I couldn’t find any openings. But I sort of stuck through it. And here the conditions were slower, so it gave me a better chance.”

Raonic admitted that he started slower than he would have liked, needing time to “get used to the environment” after his quick turnaround between Sunday’s final and today’s opener. In the end, he managed the win with a critical break of Sock’s serve in the in the sixth game. From there, it was just a matter of holding serve to close out the match.

The serve stats bear out Raonic’s troubles on the night, with a 58% serving percentage for the match. It wasn’t quite as bad as his percentage against Nadal in the Montreal final, but nowhere near what it will need to be in order to have a chance against this field. Still, it was good enough to get by on an off night.

When asked what helped him turn around this match, Raonic credited the confidence gained during his week in Montreal. “It makes it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel knowing that hopefully I can play better the next set. I just got to keep working through it.”

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

The subject of confidence also came up the other day in his pre-tournament press conference. After mentioning the confidence gained during his week in Montreal, Raonic was asked to compare it to the confidence he exuded after winning the SAP Open for a third straight year.

“I think it feels a little bit more significant just because of maybe how harsh I was on myself after Wimbledon, how disappointed I was… Because it just sort of helps you get that step forward and get everything going in the right way.  I think it just sort of stands out a little bit more.”

Raonic’s second-round opponent is Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia. He owns a 2-0 head-to-head record against Tipsarevic, but had to go the distance in both. In fact, 5 of their 6 sets were decided by a tiebreaker. He expects another difficult encounter when they meet here in Cincinnati.

“It’s going to be a tough match. I‘ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and be a little bit cleaner on my service games. And when I get ahead in games I need to be better about closing them out.”

Did this match against Sock work out the kinks and help him adjust to the conditions, or will he need to hit the practice courts hard in order to be better prepared against Tipsarevic?

“The match made the difference. It’s going to give me a lot more comfort coming out tomorrow. And I also think during the daytime the conditions will be quicker. So it’s going to be a little bit better.”

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 12-18, 2013

Results – Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (Q) Vania King (USA) 61 76(6)
Sloane Stephens (USA) d. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 26 76(5) 63

WTA Singles – First Round
(10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 61 61
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. (13) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 36 61 63
(14) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 76(5) 57 62
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (15) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 26 76(8) 64 (saved 5mp)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (Q) Annika Beck (GER) 63 62
Jamie Hampton (USA) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 75 46 63
Mona Barthel (GER) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 63 64
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 62 46 64
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 62 26 62
(Q) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (WC) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 26 64 61
(Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 62 64
(LL) Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 61 62

WTA Doubles – First Round
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. Husarova/Niculescu (SVK/ROU) 62 63
(7) Chan/Srebotnik (TPE/SLO) d. Aoyama/Scheepers (JPN/RSA) 63 62
Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) d. Mladenovic/Voskoboeva (FRA/KAZ) 76(3) 63
Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Lepchenko/Zheng (USA/CHN) 64 63
(WC) Kerber/Petkovic (GER/GER) d. Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) 76(5) 76(6)
(WC) King/Kleybanova (USA/RUS) d. Grandin/Jurak (RSA/CRO) 64 75

ATP Singles – Second Round
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) d [WC] R Harrison (USA) 76(5) 36 64
[5] R Federer (SUI) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 63 76(7)
G Dimitrov (BUL) d [WC] B Baker (USA) 63 62
J Benneteau (FRA) d R Stepanek (CZE) 62 57 76(4)

ATP Singles – First Round
[9] S Wawrinka (SUI) d A Seppi (ITA) 63 64
F Lopez (ESP) d [10] K Nishikori (JPN) 64 76(4)
[11] T Haas (GER) d K Anderson (RSA) 64 64
[12] M Raonic (CAN) d [WC] J Sock (USA) 36 64 63
V Pospisil (CAN) d [15] G Simon (FRA) 63 11 ret. (hip flexor strain)
J Isner (USA) d F Mayer (GER) 63 64
N Davydenko (RUS) d B Paire (FRA) 76(8) 63
[Q] B Becker (GER) d [Q] P Andujar (ESP) 61 64
J Nieminen (FIN) d [Q] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 63 64
T Robredo (ESP) d T Bellucci (BRA) 67(6) 76(7) 62
M Youzhny (RUS) d E Gulbis (LAT) 75 63

Doubles – First Round

J Chardy (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) d [WC] B Baker (USA) / R Ram (USA) 64 64
[WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) d I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) 62 75
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d F Fognini (ITA) / J Monaco (ARG) 64 63


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
M Youzhny (RUS) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs J Monaco (ARG) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
[Q] B Becker (GER) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 8:30 PM
[WC] L Davis (USA) vs [5] N Li (CHN) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[11] S Stosur (AUS) vs J Hampton (USA) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
J Isner (USA) vs [8] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
[12] M Raonic (CAN) vs J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
S Halep (ROU) vs [8] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
M Granollers (ESP) vs [11] T Haas (GER) – ATP
N Davydenko (RUS) vs [7] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
V Williams (USA) vs E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
[4] A Radwanska (POL) vs V Lepchenko (USA) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs J Nieminen (FIN) – ATP

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
[6] S Errani (ITA) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[7] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [Q] M Erakovic (NZL) – WTA
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) – ATP
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] D Hantuchova (SVK) / M Hingis (SUI) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
T Robredo (ESP) vs [9] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
[Q] A Petkovic (GER) vs [12] R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[9] A Kerber (GER) vs A Kleybanova (RUS) – WTA
[LL] M Niculescu (ROU) vs [10] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
[PR] M Fish (USA) / J Melzer (AUT) vs [2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) – ATP
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) – ATP-After Suitable Rest

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
[Q] D Goffin (BEL) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP
M Barthel (GER) vs [16] M Kirilenko (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
[14] J Jankovic (SRB) vs E Makarova (RUS) – WTA
[8] R Bopanna (IND) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
[7] H Chan (TPE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) – WTA

COURT 7 start 11:00 am
K Date-Krumm (JPN) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs L Huber (USA) / N Llagostera Vives (ESP) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
F Lopez (ESP) vs J Chardy (FRA) – ATP
A Cornet (FRA) vs M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
[4] A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Raymond (USA) vs [WC] A Kerber (GER) / A Petkovic (GER) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) vs [6] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA

COURT 10 start 11:00 am

M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) – ATP
V Dushevina (RUS) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) vs [3] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) / P Kvitova (CZE) vs J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
[WC] V King (USA) / A Kleybanova (RUS) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA-After Suitable Rest


Mackenzie McDonald’s Dream Run Comes to an End in Cincy


By Kevin Ware

(August 13, 2013) MASON, Ohio – After stirring victories over Newport champion Nicolas Mahut and former NCAA champion Steve Johnson, NorCal’s own Mackenzie McDonald ran out of gas against Belgium’s David Goffin; losing in a straight sets 6-1, 6-1 rout.

The talent and potential of this talented 18 year-old from Berkeley, CA is obvious. He’s got a nice serve with decent “pop”, delivered reliably over 100 mph. He’s light on his feet with solid footwork around the court as he prepares for his ground strokes. And he accelerates nicely through the ball to get good depth and pace.

That wasn’t enough, however, to overcome his more experienced opponent. Goffin, himself a qualifier, was much too steady for McDonald. The Belgian ran his younger opponent from corner to corner at every opportunity, grinding him down in rallies and eventually drawing the error.

McDonald defeated Mahut in three sets on Saturday, 36 76(5) 64. He followed this win with another three-setter against Johnson on Sunday, 36 64 64. The effects of those two tough qualifying matches were apparent as the match wore on.

His crisp footwork became sluggish, and offensive play was replaced by scrambling defense. McDonald even struggled on his usually strong serve, notching just one lone ace against five double faults, and winning only 58% on first serve points and a dismal 15% on his second serve. It’s a tough ask to win matches when you’re continually on defense and unable to hold serve.

When asked about the potential effect of his difficult qualifying matches on his fitness, McDonald readily admitted his struggles. “Today I felt it a little bit physically.  Not from my legs, but from my abs and from there possibly from the serving.”

And despite saying that otherwise he felt okay physically, he added, “I felt, when the points were long, I mean, I was a little winded.  So I think he had that advantage over me.”

It’s often a shock for rookie players when they finally get a taste of play on the Tour level. McDonald is listed on the ATP site as 5’ 10” tall and 145 lbs. Against the equally slight 22 year-old Goffin, one could still see the physical difference with respect to the four year age difference, and also sense that a couple more years of physical maturity could make a world of difference with the proper training to back it up.

McDonald was honest in his assessment of the difference between him and the more experienced (and often older) guys on tour. “I think a lot of it has to do with physical.  I think I can get a lot stronger, gain a lot more weight, and just last longer with these guys.  And at an intense level, at a higher level for a longer period.”

He’s also talked to some of the other US pros and observed how they train and prepare for matches. It’s been a beneficial experience for him that he knows can help his own game.  What specifically did he learn from those guys? More or less, the basics of being a professional on the ATP tour.

“I mean, a few things would be just, I mean, staying professional always.  Before the matches, after the matches, win or lose, just doing the right things at all times.” When asked to elaborate on what are “the right things”, he added: “I mean stretching, doing your exercises, getting your massage after, doing the ice bath.  Just that type of stuff.  Eating right, all that stuff.”

Next up for McDonald is another tough test at the US Open qualifying tournament.  But on this day, and after a weekend of great wins, the enduring image was of McDonald and his proud dad on the podium after the press conference for a photo-op.

They were told that Venus (Williams) would arrive in about ten minutes, but they were welcome to stay until then. Hopefully the next time they get this chance it will be to celebrate his first Tour-level main draw victory.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


Monday’s All-Access Madness at the Western and Southern Open

Serena Williams Cincy 8122013

By Kevin Ware

(August 12, 2013) MASON, Ohio – WTA All-Access hours can be great fun.  They can also feel like the media equivalent of a rugby scrum. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love a scrum as much as the next writer.  But it’s difficult to give equal time and focus to the tournament’s top seeds when they’re brought out at roughly the same time.

So rather than elbow my way through the masses to reach all of the players, I chose my spots carefully and got quality time with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Agnieszka Radwanska.  Here are some of their most quotable moments.

The Tireless and Inspirational Serena

Though Serena Williams can be a fiery competitor on the court, she often comes across as very subdued in the press room.  But then again, we’re usually talking to her after another victory and ensuing travel.  So she can easily be forgiven for low energy in the press room after such dominating victories, such as her Toronto win over Sorana Cirstea.

On the difference between last year’s long Olympic season and this year’s long season due to match wins:

“I don’t feel fatigued this year even though I’m doing well.  At the Olympics I was still on a high, and really into the moment. I was still up from that.”

“I feel motivated and I feel happy. I’m definitely feeling healthy. And hopefully I’ll be able to continue.”

On the inspiration she uses to stay so motivated that can help others:

“For me, one thing that I always think, ‘Is there a way I could do better?’ and if the answer is yes I strive to go through that door. And if the answer is no then it’ll be time to rethink what I’m doing.” So she hasn’t hit too many times where ‘No’ might have been the answer? “Not yet, thankfully.”

Radwanksa cincy 8122012

Radwanska’s Feeling Good and Looking for New Thrills

In spite of the incredible amount of tennis that Radwanska has played this summer (including her semifinal appearance at Wimbledon), she was relaxed, smiling, and feeling good heading into the final swing of the American hard court season.

On the difference between her two matches against Serena in Miami and Toronto:

“In Miami, I wasn’t really playing bad. But she was playing unbelievable. And I really couldn’t do much.” In Toronto, she felt the surface and balls made a marked difference in the match. “It was much slower than in Miami, and I could get more into the games.”

On playing so much tennis the past few weeks:

“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of good long matches, but I prefer to play a lot of matches than one match in two weeks.” I asked if that also meant that she was winning a lot, to which she replied,”Exactly. It’s a good problem to have.”

On riding roller coasters with her sister:

“I went there last year, and I wanted to ride the biggest one. But when I went there, I didn’t go to the biggest one. Something stopped me at the door, and I couldn’t do it. So I turned around.” When asked if her sister, Urszula, wanted to go, she said “We both looked at each other and said ‘Are you sure?’, then didn’t go. I think there’s supposed to have a bigger one next year, so maybe then…”

Azarenka Cincy

Azarenka Loves John Legend and Watching Tennis

Victoria Azarenka was in rare form when she sat down with the press in Cincinnati, chatting and laughing as though tennis was merely a small part of her being here.

On being normal:

“I’m weird sometimes, but I am also normal. I got a shirt for my birthday that says ‘Normal is boring’, and I think it’s a motto. My new motto.”

On driving and John Legend:

The fun for Vika actually began Sunday night, singing and dancing while being driven around Mason. She heard a song that she loved so much she couldn’t help herself. The song was ‘Tonight’ by John Legend.  “It’s so good. Just incredible. I couldn’t wait to tell somebody.” When I asked her if it was good enough to make her “on-court walk” playlist, she quickly said “Oh I think it’s too sexy for that.”

On what she did after Wimbledon:

As for watching tennis, that subject came up when she was asked what she did after leaving the All England Club. “I didn’t watch anything, to be honest. But I did watch the (men’s) final.”

“It was really exciting I think not only for British tennis, but also for the history it was incredible to see. And I’ve never seen Andy Murray so emotional, that’s for sure. But I was in the mood to see what I could do to be healthy again.”

On watching tennis:

I love to watch when I’m excited about something. I love to watch tennis in general. But at that moment I was focused on what I needed to do to be better to recover. And I also had lots to do with the move (to LA) and everything. And with the time difference, it was perfect (to not watch).

Sharapova Cincy

A Thought on the “Maria and Jimmy” Questions

Most of the questions that Maria Sharapova is asked these days, Grigor Dimitrov notwithstanding, revolve around her (admittedly) intriguing partnership with Jimmy Connors, and the ‘real’ reasons why she decided to start working with him. Judging by her generic words and closed body language, we can expect nothing outside of “He’s been there before” and “There are things he can bring to my game” platitudes. If Maria did, in fact, hire Jimmy to help find a way to mentally overcome Serena – as we all suspect – we’ll find out soon enough the next time they meet.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.