2015/05/29

Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

Share

Serena Williams Gets French Open Revenge to Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals

Serena Williams Thursday

(January 26, 2015) Serena Williams gained some revenge at the Australian Open on Monday for an early round loss at the French Open last year, when she rallied to beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

The 18-time major champion, seeking her sixth title in Melbourne lost badly to No. 24 Muguruza in the second round of last year’s Roland Garros 6-2, 6-2. She avenged one of her worst Grand Slam tournament losses with the victory on Monday.

Williams saved six break points in an almost 13-minute game, the second game of the third set. Williams then broke Muguruza’s serve twice before closing the match.

“It was a great match – congratulations to Garbiñe, she played so well,” Williams said in an on-court interview.

“She did everything she needed to do in the first set. For once I didn’t start out slowly, she was just playing so well at the start. She hits the ball really, really big and really, really hard.

“But I started to focus from there and just relaxed a little bit.”

“She made me play a lot better,” Williams said in press. “I had to play the best match of the tournament or else I was going to be out. I think she was just hitting winners like left and right. Every shot I hit, she basically hit a winner on. So I had to change my approach. I was hitting a little bit too much to her.”

“The hardest part, I mean, mentally she’s amazing,” said Muguruza . She’s world No. 1. She has the power to be all the match without saying anything, concentrate, waiting for her opportunity. I mean, the serve, when she serves good, it’s really difficult to return. And then in the back, she’s very strong. So it’s very difficult to find the spot to beat her.

Williams will play Dominika Cibulkova in the quarterfinals. Cibulkova, who reached the final of the Australian Open last year, beat two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 under a closed roof in Rod Laver Arena in a very intense match. Due to injuries last year the Belarusian saw her ranking fall into the 40’s and came into the tournament unseeded.

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

The woman from the Slovak Republic hit 44 winners and broke Azarenka seven time during the match. This marks the sixth time that the No. 10 player Cibulkova has reached a major quarterfinal

Today was extremely, extremely good match from my side,” Cibulkova said. “I would say it was a high level of tennis. The first set, the way I played, was just really, really — no mistakes. I was going for my shots and I was just doing the right things. I was really putting her under so much pressure. And then — then she stepped up in the second set much more. She started to serve better and return better. So she kept me out of the — more behind the baseline. Then in the third set I just knew I have to go for it more than hundred percent. I knew I have to be much more aggressive and just stay there and to go for my shots. So, yeah, today was really, really tough one, but I managed to get through. It was such a good match.”

“I take it as a progress,” Azarenka said of her run in Melbourne. “I think there are a lot of the positive things to take from here. It’s a good start. There was some good quality of tennis today, even though the result is not the one that I wanted and not what I was looking for. But I need to be realistic a little bit and keep working hard and try to sharpen my game. I need to be more consistent and I need to be able to take my opportunities when I have them. But overall, I can be pretty happy. But I’m such a perfectionist that I don’t want to be satisfied.”

“She really went for her shots today and was very fearless throughout whole match,” Azarenka said of her opponent. “She’s the type of player that sometimes you just get — she gets in that groove and it’s a little bit difficult to break that rhythm. But I think I still had my opportunities, and I really just didn’t — I wasn’t present enough today, and she was there. She jumped on those opportunities and really took control of that. So I think in that aspect, I have to give her a lot of credit.”

“Well, she is a really good player,” Williams answered when asked about playing Cibulkova. “I mean, to be her size, she hits so hard and she plays so well. She’s just such a power, compact, great player. I just have to stay focused and not underestimate her. She actually almost beat me before. I want to make sure I come ready and prepared.”

Serena Williams has a 4-0 record versus Cibulkova.

 

Share

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     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

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.

 

 

Share

Catherine “CiCi” Bellis at 15 Becomes Youngest Winner at US Open since ’96

CiCi Bellis_Saturday_5

(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – On Tuesday, American 15-year-old CiCi Bellis became the youngest player to win a US. Open match since 1996 as she produced the biggest upset in the tournament so far dismissing Australian Open runner-up and 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

“I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience, but I never thought I would come out on top winning, said the 1208th ranked player Bellis.

“I’m feeling amazing. I’m still speechless. I’m still in shock about that match. I went in thinking I was going to play as well as I could possibly play. I obviously played pretty well. So I’m really happy.”

Bellis talked about coming back from being down a break in the final set: “When I was down 3-1, it was kind of a bummer, because I won the first set, lost the second. We had a long game the first game of the third set. I ended up winning that and then lost three games in a row. I just kind of told myself, Calm down, don’t think about who you’re playing, who is on the other side of the court. Just be free. You have nothing to lose.”

Bellis won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into her first major which also and first tour-level main draw. She was the youngest champion of the National Championships since Lindsay Davenport also won it at 15 back in 1991. Anna Kournikova was the last 15-year-old to win at the U.S. Open in 1996.

“I think it was a really great experience to play that(National Championships), then come here and play. Those girls in the girls 18s, they’re not that far off from these pros. It’s crazy to say, but they’re really good.”

 

“Just go out there and believe that you can win. I mean, if you play well, you can if you believe in it,” Bellis said about her belief that she could win the match. “If you don’t believe, there’s one option. If you do believe, there’s two options. You can either believe and lose or believe and win, but if you don’t believe you’re going to lose anyway.”

Bellis will take a pass on the 60,000 she’s earned for her first round win as she intends to remain an amateur.

“I think I’m definitely going to stay an amateur right now to keep my options open for college, in case an injury or something happens. But I’d love to be a pro one day.”

Next up for Bellis is No. 48th Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Share

Third Seed Agnieszka Radwanska Stunned by Ajla Tomljanovic

 

(May 30, 2014) The top two women’s seeds at the French Open Serena Williams and Li Na fell earlier on the week, joining them on the sidelines on Friday was third seed Agnieszka Radwanska who lost to unseeded Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-4.

For the 25-year-old woman from Poland, this was her earliest exit from a major.

“After seeing the two first seeds go out, you kind of feel like `I can do this, too,’”said the 72nd ranked Tomljanovic “I grew up with these girls that are beating them.”

The loss means that No. 4 Simona Halep of Romania is the highest seed left in the women’s draw.

For the 21-year-old Croatian, this was her first top 5 win. Before Friday she had only one win against a top 30 player and had never been past the second round of a major, now she’s in the round of 16.

In another upset on the women’s side, 2010 French Open finalist Sam Stosur, the 19th seed defeated 9th seed and Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-4. It will be Stosur’s first round of 16 at a major since the 2012 US Open.

Share

Teenager Donna Vekic Upsets Top Seed Dominika Cibulkova for Malaysian Open Tennis Title

AEGON Classic - Day Six

(April 20, 2014) Seventh seed Donna Vekic of Croatia won her first WTA title on Sunday after defeating top seed  and Ausralian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4) in the Malaysian Open final in Kuala Lumpur.

The 17-year-old Vekic who rallied from 7-5, 5-4 down blasted 11 aces in the almost three-hour match. Vekic had to regain control of her composure after failing to close out the match leading 5-2 in the final set.

At 17 years, 10 months and 23 days, Vekic is the youngest player to win a WTA title since Vania King won Bangkok in 2006 at 17 years, 8 months and 12 days. It’s Vekic’s first top 10 win stopping No. 10 Cibulkova.

“It was a very tough match,” Vekic said. “She played very well throughout the whole match. I was up 5-1 in the third set and she came back out playing insane – so I’m happy I was able to get through in the end.”

“She played really well today,” Cibulkova said. “In the second set I was really close to winning, but she played really well, really strong, and it was just about a few balls out there, really.”

Share

Li and Cibulkova Reach Sony Open Semis

 

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova ©Sony Open Tennis

(March 26, 2014) It will be a rematch of the Australian Open women’s final in the semifinal of the Sony Open as both Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova advanced on Wednesday. Li won the Australian Open in straight sets for her second major title.

No. 10 seed Dominika Cibulkova saved  three match points in the second set en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 2 Li Na won the last 4 straight games to close out Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 7-5.

Cibulkova won despite poor serving and unforced errors. She had her serve broken 10 times and double-faulted 8times, committing 51 unforced errors.

One of her match points saved came on a controversial call which was overturned due a challenge.

He match against Radwanska was a repeat of the Arustralian Open semifinal where the Slovak won over the Pole to make her first major final.

The Slovak who is in the Sony Open semis for the first time, will enter the top ten for the first time when the rankings come out on Monday.

“I’m really glad, especially about my win today,” Cibulkova said.

“It wasn’t easy at all to play today against Aga with the wind and conditions, and I had to stay aggressive all the time even if I missed many shots, you know.  I just had to keep going.

“So today the match was really tough, and I’m happy about everything, you know.  Before the match, even before the tournament, like they keep asking me, Top 10 and everything, and I just, you know, I just said, like, Okay, if I should be there, I will be there.  If I should not be there, I will not be there.

“So now I’m there.  So finally it’s over.”

“I think it was so close, the second set,” Radwanska said.  “But I think, you know, in those matches you have to play good and you have to be lucky.

“I was just playing good and she was both.”

With Li Na’s win, she became the first Chinese player to reach the Sony Open semifinals.

“I think today I was feeling she was the best to defend in all the tour, so I was feeling a little bit like player against a wall,” Li said about her match against Wozniacki.  “Because doesn’t matter where is it.  She always come and put the ball back to my court.

“After I was finished the match, I was feeling, Wow, you doing good.  You beat a wall.  Yeah.”

Li Na now leads the tour with 20 match wins on the season

On Thursday six–time Sony Open winner No. 1 Serena Williams will take on five-time finalist and No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova in the first women’s semifinal. Williams holds a 15-2 record against the Russian, winning the last 14 straight.

Share

Li Na to Meet Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells Semis

(March 13, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In a rematch of the Australian Open final, top seed Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while Flavia Pennetta battled past Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open

The match which lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes improved Li’s record to 17-1 on the year. The woman from China lost just her first set during the tournament.

This is Li’s first WTA Premier event where she’s the top seed.

Everything for me is new, top seed, first time on the big tournament,” Li said

“Of course, you know, everyone looking different.  Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

“But I think I am handling very well, so just continue.”

With being the top seed and a two-time major winner Li is feeling special at Indian Wells.

“No, I feel like I’m much friendlier,” she said with a smile. “No, joke.”

“Even like practicing the fans were watching.  But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me.  Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy.

“It was a pretty tough match today,” said Cibulkova.  “I’m just disappointed a little bit that I didn’t win, because I had my chances today.”

“I think the biggest difference that I lost today was because her serve was better than mine.”

Flavia Pennetta had to endure a topsy-turvy two—hour and 26 minute match against Sloane Stephens. The Italian served for the match in both the second and third sets. She had to endure a dust storm with high winds and right herself after losing six straight games from the end of the second set to 0-3 in the third. Then she won six of the last seven games to seal the win on her fifth match point.

“I mean, we didn’t have a lot of fun today,” said the 32-year-old veteran.  “We didn’t play our best tennis.

“Maybe in the beginning we play much better, and in the second set one, but the third was a disaster for both of us.  I mean, I won.  I’m happy because I get through this match, but I don’t have a good feeling right now.  I mean, it’s normal.  Outside it’s crazy now.  It’s coming the wind from nowhere.

“But in the other part I’m really happy because I was down 3‑Love in the third, and I fight until the last point and the match was for me today.”

“I wasn’t playing my best at the beginning,” said Stephens.  “It was a bit up and down, but I just tried to battle and stay in there.  Second set was playing better and better.  Then the wind came, which was pretty unfortunate.

“I just tried to do my best and fight and battle for every point.  It was unfortunate that I lost.”

Pennetta

“It was a disaster,” the American said of the third set, agreeing with Pennetta who used those words during her post–match news conference  “It wasn’t super fun, super frustrating, but that happens sometimes.  You play tennis, so it is what it is.

“It really came out of nowhere.  Like I don’t even know what happened.  We just started the third set, and all of a sudden it was like ‑‑ it was like a windstorm.  I don’t know.  It was weird.”

Pennetta said her opponent has a bright future: “I think she’s already ‑‑ she’s 20, but she’s a good player.  She have a lot of matches, important matches.  She was in the semifinal already in a Grand Slam, so you are already a big champion for me.

“I mean, she’s one of the best players, of course.  In the future, I think she will be one of the best, top 10, for sure.

“She has everything:  unbelievable forehand; backhand; she improve a lot with the backhand in the last year; she’s powerful.”

“She play more or less like me, but she’s more powerful than me,” Pennetta said of her semifinal opponent Li Na.  “I have to be real aggressive tomorrow to try to take the situation, but is not going to be easy.”

Share

Cibulkova routs Radwanska to reach Australian Open Final

Dominika Cibulkova

Dominika Cibulkova

(January 23, 2014) MELBOURNE – Dominika Cibulkova has decided that the Australian Open 2014 is a tournament in need of new blood, continuing on her absolutely stellar run at Melbourne Park this year to trounce world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska in swift fashion, 6-1, 6-2, to secure a place in what will be her debut Grand Slam final.

 

From the moment she placed a single foot on the court to the moment she exited the stadium, Cibulkova was all over each and every point and with a degree of focus and determination seemingly like no other.

 

The Slovakian dictated play in a major way and in barely over half an hour, she had already closed out the first set on a break, 6-1.

 

Radwanska was, all the while, too passive as she failed to match the level of aggression coming from the other side of the net. She found it difficult to keep motivated once down a break in the second as Cibulkova defended any small chance she had at making a comeback on the scoreboard. What was more, was that the Pole only managed to win half of her points on her first serve and an abysmal 13 per cent of points upon her second.

 

The energetic Slovakian did not give Radwanska any time to readjust her game as she powered through the next set, 6-2.

 

Upon the last point whereby Radwanska made an untimely forehand error, Cibulkova fell to her knees, clutching her head in her hands in relief knowing that she had just set up her first Grand Slam final.

 

“​It was not easy when I was up in the second set,” Cibulkova admitted.

 

“The thought started to come that I could win, the result and everything. I have to say, I was 100 per cent ready for it and I was just doing what I had to do. That’s why I won. It wasn’t easy because against her you have to earn every point, you have to do the right thing, and that’s what I did.

 

“Today I was doing everything right. I was going for my shots. I was just doing everything perfect.

 

“I’m the first (Slovakian) female tennis player playing in the final. We are like five or six million, and they are all cheering for me. So, yeah, it’s big.”

 

Extraordinarily quick on her feet, her little legs move speedily to reach low balls, so much so that it seems bizarre that a little woman such as herself could harness such incredible energy levels to outrun her opponents of greater stature.

 

“It’s not about how tall are you. Even if you are tall, it doesn’t mean you are 100 per cent going to make it. It’s just that you have to really want something and just believe in it. There is nothing more important than this.”

 

This semifinal victory instigates a grand final clash with world No. 4 Li Na on Saturday evening.

 

​”She has been in the finals of Grand Slams many times,” Cibulkova said.

 

“She already won a Grand Slam, so she knows how it is. I’m playing in the finals, so that’s something beautiful. It’s like a dream. So I will just go out there and play my best.”

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

Share

Radwanska Ends Defending Champ Azarenka’s run at Australian Open

Agnieszka-Radwanska-021-405x450

(January 22, 2014) Agnieszka Radwanska ended Victoria Azarenka‘s run at a third straight Australian Open title on Wednesday when the fifth seed knocked out the defending champ 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. The victory for Radwanska moves her into her first Australian Open semifinal.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic knocked out of the tournament by Stanislas Wawrinka with both he and Victoria Azarenka losing in the quarterfinals it is the first time both the defending champions have lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in the Open Era.

The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam in the Open Era was at 1997 Roland Garros when 1996 champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf lost in the last eight.

The win snapped Azarenka’s 18-match win streak in Melbourne. It also ended Radwanska’s 7 match losing streak to the Belarusian dating back to 2011 and her three consecutive quarterfinal losses at the Australian Open. It was just the Polish women’s fourth win against Azarenka in 16 attempts.

“I think it’s hard to play someone I lost so many times before,” Radwanska said.  “I knew she’s great player.  Especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis.

“On the other hand, I really have nothing to lose.  She was defending the title, not me.  I was really trying to play my best tennis, go for every shot I could.

“You know, I’m just very happy because I really was playing great tennis.”

Radwanska used an all-court game – at times scrambling for every shot to playing finesse tennis to confuse and dismantle a usually hard-hitting Azarenka.

“I think it’s hard to talk about the game plan against someone that can do everything on court,” said the Pole.  “Pretty much everything is going back.  Not really much mistakes.  So I think I was just trying to play aggressive, not in the middle.  I think focus on the serves as well.

“I think you really have to do everything to beat those kind of players like Vika.”

“A lot of good rallies definitely,” she continued, “amazing points, and running forward, backwards, side to side for so many times.

“Well, I was really feeling good on court today.  I think, you know, I was feeling I could really do everything, trying and fighting for every point, every ball.”

“The first set and the third set, I think there was just too many mistakes and too many easy mistakes on important moments,” said Azarenka.  “Like from the dropshot to the dropshot, or just I had the full court.  Of course, she was passing amazing today and getting to every ball.

“But I just didn’t have the focus on finishing the point so accurate.  That definitely changed the momentum.  She really took advantage of that.  It was hard to come back.

“But, I don’t know, my game wasn’t there today as I wanted it to.  But she definitely played really well.”

“She was aggressive,” the world No. 2 said.  “She was making everything.  She was guessing right.  I was just playing a little bit too predictive, you know.

“In the second set I managed to fight back.  Third set, you know, the first game was important.  I let it go, like easily let it go.  From there just couldn’t get back to it.  It was tough.”

In an upset-ridden Australian Open in which the top three women’s seeds – Serena Williams, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, have all been ousted by the quarterfinals, there will be a first-time winner in Melbourne among the remaining women. The semifinal line-up: Radwanska against No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 4 Li Na against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

“I’m so happy and pleased, especially that I beat one of the best players in the world, Radwanska said.  “Was not easy draw, not easy quarterfinal.

“I’m very happy that I made my first semifinal here.

I think every semifinal, every final is a huge experience with tennis.  Those experience I just had from Wimbledon.  Of course, I’m just very happy, you know, to reach the semifinal at other Grand Slam.

“So I think this is the level everybody playing great tennis.  Well, it’s a bit more pressure.  This is the semifinal of a Grand Slam.  Especially here, first time for me.

“Hopefully I will play the same tennis as today.”

Radwanska said that her match-up against Cibulkova next,  will be a challenging one, since she been playing against since she was 9 or ten:

“I think it’s always tricky to play someone that you know for so long, play so many times, as well.  Like I’m saying, every match is a different story, especially when it’s a semifinal of a Grand Slam, the first semis for me and for her as well.  Well, we’ll see.”

 

Share