June 29, 2017

Hantuchova Wins Third Thailand Open

D Hantuchova

(February 15, 2015) Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova rallied form a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 for her third Thailand Open title on Sunday. The two hour and seven minute match gave her a seventh career WTA tournament crown.
“Today was very tough because Ajla was playing some great tennis,” the 31-year-old Hantuchova said. “I had to really fight for it – at the end I felt maybe I was a little fresher and sharper, and that decided the match.”But Ajla has a great future ahead of her. She’s also a very nice girl. It’s nice to have somebody like her in the game. And like I said on the court, I’m sure she’ll have many more finals to come.”

“It means so much to me to win this tournament three times. I’ve never done that in my career and never thought I’d be able to. It’s always a special feeling playing in Pattaya. I’ve felt great here since the first match, and I’m very proud I kept it up all week.”

“There are too many positives from the week, ” said Tomljanovic. I’m going to try not to dwell on this too much. I’ll just try to learn from it. There are things I can learn from this match and the week. Overall I think this was a really big step forward for me in Pattaya.”

For Tomljanovic, this was her first tour-level final.


Serena Williams Nets Record 61st Match Win at Australian Open


(January 17, 2014) Serena Williams extended her current win streak to 24 with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Daniela Hantuchova to move into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday.  With the victory, the No. 1 player has surpassed Margaret Court’s record of 60 wins at the Australian Open.

It was another hot day in Melbourne as the heat wave continued, during the 1 hour and 20 minute match the temperature reached 102F.

“I feel good to have gotten through that one because it was tough conditions out there, but I was happy to win,” said the five-time champion.

“It’s definitely a lot of physical, but you have to be ready.

“Today actually wasn’t as hot.  I think it was more hot yesterday.  So it wasn’t as bad today.

“Honestly, on the one end I felt it was like a cool breeze coming over, so that was a good sign.”

Williams announced during her post-match news conference that she and sister Venus were pulling out of the doubles, due to her sister’s lower leg injury.

In an exchange with a reporter who alluded to Indian Wells, Williams said that she was thinking about it, a tournament she has not played in over a decade, due her treatment by the crowd during the 2001 final.

Here is the transcript of the questions posed:

Q.  You love to laugh but you also have a serious side.  You have your schools in Africa and have read Mandela closely.  Mandela’s message was pretty much forgiveness and reconciliation.  Work with the springbox for reconciliation, put his jail in the front row of the inauguration.  Do you think that spirit could affect your thoughts about what happened in the desert?  There is a new generation of people who would love to see you there.  Would that ever cross your mind as a possibility?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, it actually crossed my mind a couple days ago, or after I saw the movie.

Q.  Do you think you would?  It would be such a wonderful event for American tennis and for your career.  Do you think that’s something you might consider in the future?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Like I said, it crossed my mind not too long ago when I went to see the movie.  I thought about it.

Williams will take on either 2011 US Open winner Samantha Stosur or 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.

“Either player will be very tough,” Williams said.  “Ivanovic, I think is doing really well.  She’s on a little winning streak herself.

“Stosur has the home crowd behind her.  She’s the fan favorite.  Obviously she’s beaten me a few times.

“It will be an interesting, whoever I play.  I think it will be a great match for me to really start to try to play better in this tournament.”

“I definitely look forward to playing in the cooler temperatures,” Williams said about the weather forecast which predicts a break in the heat wave. “I think, you know, the players that I have played, they have done really well in the heat.

“I just look forward to some cooler weather.”


Third seed Li Na saved a match point, stopping Lucie Safarova 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round.

“I think the five centimeters save my tournament,” Li said.  “If she hit in, I think, Whole team on the way to the airport.

“Yeah, I mean, at least I win the match, so still in the tournament.  I was really happy the way is fight on the court from first point until the last point.”


Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka Dominate Opponents to gain US Open Semifinals


872013 Nadal fh4

(September 4, 2013) Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka had easy victories on Wednesday night to move into the semifinals of the US Open.

Rafael Nadal routed fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 while Azarenka subdued Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3.

At 24 Azarenka is the only woman who is not 30 in the semifinals. Serena Williams, Flavia Pennetta and Li Na are all 30 and over.

“I’m a baby, what can I say?” Azarenka said after the match.

Asked about all of  the 30+ women still playing pro tennis Azarenka said: “I think it’s just showing that our sport is taking physical ability to another level. You see everybody taking care of their bodies much more, really paying attention to nutrition, fitness, everything. Everybody is working out.”

Azarenka will play Flavia Pennetta for a spot in the US Open final.

Just a year ago, Rafael Nadal had to miss the US Open due to a knee injury, this year he’s unbeaten on hard courts. His streak is now up to 20 in a row.

“I think I played great the first set,” Nadal said of his 1 hour and 40 minute match. “It’s my first set so far this year 100%.  I’m very happy the way I played the first set, I think.

“I did all the things that you expect to do good in the first set, in my opinion.  I am very happy with the way that I moved myself on court, very happy that the way I hit my forehand and my backhand especially.

So in general it was my best match of the tournament, so that’s great news to be in quarterfinals and played my best match of the tournament.  But every day, no, just happy.

“To be in the semifinals is very important result for me.  Is fantastic win, so just enjoy it today.”

Nadal is 58-3 this year with nine titles, which includes his 8th French Open. He’ll play Richard Gasquet in the semifinals.


Clock Strikes Midnight for Cinderella Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval(August 29, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – What seemed like a tennis fairytale is over for Victoria Duval. The 17-year-old qualifier ranked 296th in the world, who took out No. 11 seed and former US Open champion Sam Stosur  was defeated by veteran Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3 in the second round on Thursday.

Duval was up a break in each set but the experienced Hantuchova, who was once No. 5 in the world,  used her serve, power and pace to dismantle the teenager. Hantuchova won 63 total points to Duval’s 43 points in the match. Duval committed 7 unforced errors.

“I don’t think I ever felt free in the match today,” Duval told media. “I don’t think it had to do with the score or anything. She hits really hard. I couldn’t quite get myself going. I gave myself a couple chances, but I just never felt comfortable today.”

“I know that was a big win, but I’m not going to go above and beyond myself, just because I think I’m going to set reasonable goals,” Duval said. “This was just another tournament. I’m going to keep working hard.”

“I did better than last year, so I’m happy about that.”

Despite her loss she is very proud of her performance in Flushing Meadows:

“Obviously winning my first round was quite an achievement,“ said Duval.  “I am just really proud that I’ve been able to give myself not only a good image on the court but off the court.

“I think I was touched by all the little kids that came up to me and told me that I’m their role model.  I think for a 17‑year‑old, that’s pretty cool to hear.”

Duival said that she learned this week that she could play at the pro level. She said that Hantuchova served well and was “precise” on her shots.

“I know I have a lot of room to grow,” commented the Floridian on her own game.  “I am still growing right now.  My growth plates are still open.  I’m not sure how that’s happening.

“But I think once my body just settles in, I’m able to work a little more on my fitness.  I haven’t really been able to because, you know, injuries of growing.  Once I start developing and working on my game, I think it will be a lot of success.”

Duval is still competing in the US Open. She is playing with Donald Young in the mixed doubles.


Veteran Hantuchova Stops Teenager Vekic for Birmingham Crown

AEGON Classic - Day Eight

By Tumaini Carayol

(June 16, 2013) BIRMINGHAM, UK – There are times when the narrative needs no narration. When the pieces of the puzzle slip so seamlessly into place that to elaborate would only complicate things beyond reprieve.

Such a situation has presented itself throughout the week, not least on Sunday as Donna Vekic‘s and Daniela Hantuchova‘s names appeared opposite each other ahead of the final push for glory. Already the 30 year-old Hantuchova had brushed aside three youngsters on her unlikely route to the final. 18 year-old Laura Robson, arguably the face of Generation

Next ever since her glorious rise to prominence at the 2008 junior Wimbledon.  Kristina Mladenovic, whose junior credentials read eerily similar to Robson’s, followed a round later. This final match was the last barrier – the final frontier in this Birmingham-based battle between the rising and established.

But with her notoriously smooth strokes in full-flight, it was the 30 year-old who denied Vekic her first title, achieving a first of her own as she recorded her maiden title on her favorite surface and in the tournament that marked her WTA main draw debut all those years ago in 1999.

The contest itself was decidedly straightforward. Despite the closeness of both sets, the veteran always held the upper hand on her adversary. Only a comically botched forehand at 5-2 in the tiebreak threatened to throw her bid for the title into a tailspin. But after seeing her lead all but deteriorate, the Slovak composed herself with a typically perfectly-timed forehand down the line at 5-5, which struck the said line and sent the chalk flying into the air. From then onwards, she refused to look back. Although chances to kill the match far earlier were plentiful, Hantuchova held firm and closed out the match 7-6(5) 6-4 with effortless aplomb to capture the AEGON Classic.

“Donna has a great future ahead of her, no doubt,” she said afterwards.

“I waited a long time for this success, so it’s very special, and I never thought I would ever play anyone 14 years younger than me, so that makes it even more special.

“I am very motivated this year and hope to get back to where I was. To see Serena and Francesca doing well past 30 keeps us oldies going.”

Despite what logic would suggest, while the fresh and young Vekic rests and bides her time ahead of her debut assault on the All England Club, it’s this old and well-traveled victor who will now pack her bags and head towards ‘s-Hetogenbosch in search of more victories and more glory.

Tumaini Carayol  was covering the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.


Against The Odds, Croatia’s Donna Vekic Makes Birmingham Final


By Tumaini Carayol

(June 15, 2013) BIRMINGHAM, UK – Before the AEGON Classic tournament’s inception, the odds on offer suggested nothing of what would follow. 16-1 for Daniela Hantuchova, 33-1 for Magdalena Rybarikova, 100-1 for Donna Vekic, and another 100-1.

Not only were those odds defied and beaten, they were brutally maimed as all four soared into the final four spots on offer. Despite that, the results themselves too had a curiously coherent logic about them. Donna Vekic, the young Croatian star, may still be a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday, but she has already proven her credentials in reaching last year’s Tashkent final. Daniela Hantuchova conversely carries with her a wealth of grasscourt experience and although she has struggled, at least a brief turn in fortunes was always a possibility. Meanwhile, the other two, though generally anonymous elsewhere, have seen great success on the grass of Birmingham that seems to perfectly suit their games.

The matches were finely poised, and they delivered. The youngster and one of the two tournament specialists, Magdalena Rybarikova, came first. Three rain-splattered sets later, it was Vekic who triumphed. Though there were nerves, delays, disappointing play and even impressive play, the impression Vekic left was one of a teenager mature beyond her years; a cliche, but one that rang true.

Naturally, her monumental achievement was greeted not with questions about her performance, the manner in which she defied her nerves at the end – unleashing a blinding backhand down-the-line winner to steal the match – or even her age. Rather, it focused on whether she “felt” British, “glamor” and “Sharapova” – the latter two seemingly mutually exclusive in the eyes of many. The teenager was authoritative in both replies – a booming ‘no’ to the question of her nationality and a similarly negative response to the Sharapova comparisons. However, the enthusiasm which greeted the question of glamour and fashion side to WTA superstardom was very interesting.

“No, you know, I’m 100 per cent Croatian and I always will be,” she asserted.” I play for the Fed Cup team and we do have an amazing Fed Cup team and hopefully we can win it, maybe even on grass.”

“That’s a very nice comparison, but we’re very different, you know
(Sharapova) has her career and I have my career, and you know, I don’t

“It’s nice to know, you know, but I’d have to win Wimbledon this year to win it at 17, so, you know. Hopefully I can do well but I don’t think that’s possible at the moment.”

Joining Vekic in the final was Daniela Hantuchova with a vaguely similar score of 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Despite all the contrasts in age and experience, something about the pair of victories struck a cool symmetry. Much like Croat who needed a long moment to compose herself after after an emotional victory, there were tears in the veteran’s eyes after she clinched the victory and returned to the final in what, by comparison to her resume, was quite a minor victory. But as she continues to battle the effects of age and the wear-and-tear of 15 years on the tour, any success is almost as sweet as the first.

Tumaini Carayol covering the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.


Birmingham, England
June 10-16, 2013

Results – Saturday, June 15, 2013
Singles Semifinals
Donna Vekic (CRO) d. (16) Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 76(5) 16 63
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (Q) Alison Riske (USA) 57 61 64

Singles Quarterfinals
(Q) Alison Riske (USA) d. (5) Sabine Lisicki (GER) 76(2) 26 64

Doubles Semifinals
(3) Barty/Dellacqua (AUS/AUS) d. Barthel/Mladenovic (GER/FRA) 63 62

Order Of Play Sunday, June 16, 2013
Ann Jones Centre Court (from 13.00hrs)
1. Singles Final: Donna Vekic vs. Daniela Hantuchova
2. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja vs. Hantuchova/Hsieh
3. [Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja or Hantuchova/Hsieh] vs. Black/Erakovic
4. Doubles Final: Barty/Dellacqua vs. [Semifinal Winners]


Jankovic Squeaks by the Rain and Hantuchova at French Open

Jelena Jankovic

By Ros Satar


(May 28, 2013) PARIS – Jelena Jankovic advanced to the second round, in a tight straight sets win over Daniela Hantuchova, in a match disrupted by rain.

Both players just looked relieved to be able to get underway, and Jankovic was rewarded with an early break as Hantuchova was still struggling to find her range. However, once Hantuchova got into her stride, she was having a lot of luck moving Jankovic out wide and out of position, firing down some classy winners.

Jankovic missed three set points, but made up for it serving it out, moving forward and finishing the set off with a couple of neat volleys at the net. Hantuchova roared into the second set, really going for her shots and painting the corners and the lines, as the momentum definitely seemed to have deserted the Serb.

Hantuchova swept to a 5-0 lead in a marked contrast to some of her games in the first set, while Jankovic looked all at sea, being yanked around the court.

Having built up a 5-0 lead, a couple of disputed calls seemed to rattle Hantuchova, who promptly double-faulted, and Jankovic finally got herself on the board on her third break point chance.

Before either Jankovic or the crowd had a chance to see if this was the start of a comeback, the women came off rapidly for another rain break – quite a while before any other courts followed suit.

At the re-start the Serb started the more aggressively, breaking Hantuchova again, and finally getting on even terms.

The tiebreak was a tight affair, with the pair trading mini-breaks until Jankovic was able to nail the win on her third match point.

She admitted afterwards that the rain delay had come at just the right time for her.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the way I played that second set,” she said.

“I changed some things tactically and came out much stronger after the rain delay so it helped me a lot.”

It has been a difficult day, and there have been a lot of scratching heads at the number of doubles matches starting with a backlog building already from today, and with more bad weather forecast for tomorrow.

But Jelena shrugged that off.

“You never know when you’re going to go on court so you always have to be on alert and just ready to go on at any time.

“You’ve got to do your job, you’ve got to perform.

“So I was ready, I was prepared mentally for that and actually the rain helped me today so I don’t want to complain (laughing).”

Going into this match, Jankovic was 5-3 in the head-to-head, and 3-2 on clay but gave credit where it was due.

“She [Hantuchova] was returning those balls so deep and she was not giving me a chance to attack or play my game so credit to her, she did very well.

“Then I managed after the rain delay to regroup and figure out my way to win.”

The players were taken off earlier than the other courts, and the rain had not actually started, but the umpires were informed a shower was coming, and it obviously affected Hantuchova’s momentum.

She said: “So many things that can affect one match like this.

“It was very unfortunate that we had to play against each other in the first round.

“But I respect Jelena very much – we’ve had so many great matches in the past, it’s always fun to play her.”