2014/08/21

Seeds Cibulkova and Hampton Overcome Inspired Opponents

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By Kevin Ware

Dominika Cibulkova [3] defeats Stephanie Voegele 7-5 7-6(5)

(July 25, 2013) STANFORD, CA – Worries about fitness and the lingering effects of an Achilles injury fell by the wayside for Dominika Cibulkova after she overcame Stephanie Voegele of Switzerland 7-5 7-6(5) in the first match of the day on stadium court.

She showed no signs of slowness or hesitation, but did sport a layer of physio tape on her lower leg. “The tape is for prevention. My Achilles will always be tough to deal with because I have this problem with the bone. That’s why my physio has to take good care of it so that I can keep playing.”

Though her leg was fine, the rust in her game was another matter. She struggled to close out the first set after leading 5-2, only doing so after breaking the Voegele serve in the eleventh game to take it at 7-5.

With the first set under her belt, Cibulkova looked poised to close out the second in more direct fashion. Voegele had other ideas, once again working her way back into the match after Cibulkova had lead 5-2.

Fittingly, the second set ended in a tiebreaker that Cibulkova won with fearless hitting from her forehand at 5-all, before serving it out on her first match point.

When asked afterward if she’d expected such a tough match from her Swiss opponent, Cibulkova was very complimentary of her Voegele’s abilities.

“I expected a really tough match because she’s playing really well at this time. I played her long time ago but remember how she’s playing close to the lines.”

“I just made it tough for myself. In the end I made it, but it could be easier for me.”

Hampton wins

Jamie Hampton [4] defeats Nicole Gibbs 7-5 6-7(5) 6-3

Fourth-seed Jamie Hampton had her hands full overcoming her own “rust”, as well as the inspired play of Nicole Gibbs; who was making her professional debut at this tournament after a stellar career at Stanford.

Rust on Hampton’s part was understandable, since this was Hampton’s first match of the tournament after receiving a first round bye as one of the top 4 seeds. “I’ve been here for a week now and I haven’t played. And I’ve never done anything like that before.”

The lack of sharpness in Hampton’s game was less of an issue, however, than the dogged determination shown by Gibbs.

Hampton might hit a harder ball than Gibbs, but Gibbs showed no sign of intimidation as she moved her opponent from side-to-side to keep the ball out of Hampton’s wheel house, and to expose any footwork weaknesses.

The first set was tightly-contested until a loose game by Gibbs at 5-all gave Hampton the crucial break, and allowed her to serve it out at 7-5.

The second set, won by Gibbs in a tiebreak, was an equally tight affair; made more so because of Hampton’s mounting unforced error total as she mixed winners and unforced errors interchangeably throughout.

After the match, Hampton was asked specifically about her serving difficulties on the day when she offered this assessment of her overall play: “To be honest, I just felt like I was struggling in general today.”

In spite of the efforts of her Stanford football team cheering section, Gibbs game began to unravel. The third set saw Hampton draw upon her experience as pro to serve bigger and hit bigger on shots that finally started to find their mark. There was little Gibbs could do than just say “too good”.

Gibbs managed a brief comeback (after falling behind 0-4) to get back on serve at 3-4. But she couldn’t sustain the momentum, and gave up one final break for 3-5. Hampton quickly closed out the match for the win.

Gibbs was remarkably upbeat after the match, and happy with the fight she showed on court. “The biggest takeaway is that I can play at this level, and that’s really exciting for me!”

Madison runs for a forehand

Other Match Notes

Daniela Hantuchova lost two straight tiebreakers to hand Urszula Radwanska a 7-6(3) 7-6(3) victory, and her second straight appearance in the Bank of the West quarterfinals. This loss is sure to stick with Hantuchova for because of the seven straight points she lost in the second set tiebreaker after leading 3-0.

Vera Dushevina beat American Madison Keys in the evening match on stadium court. Keys was unable to get any aspect of her ground game on track during the match, and was also done in by Dushevina’s strong service returns.

Keys is widely touted as one of the top prospects for future US slam success. And while it’s true that she has an immense amount of talent, she also still has a long way to go in terms of developing a more complete game to compliment her strong serve and ground strokes.

Kevin Ware is covering the Bank of the West Classic as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak and site kevware.com/tennis/.

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All photography by David Sweet.

BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
Stanford, CA, USA
July 22-28, 2013
$795,707/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Thursday, July 25, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(3) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 75 76(5)
(4) Jamie Hampton (USA) d. (WC) Nicole Gibbs (USA) 75 67(5) 63
(7) Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 76(3) 76(3)
(Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. Madison Keys (USA) 76(0) 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Cako/Pluskota (USA/USA) 63 62
(2) Goerges/Jurak (GER/CRO) d. Grandin/Rosolska (RSA/POL) 06 62 105 (Match TB)
Order Of Play – Friday, July 26, 2013
Stadium (from 12.00hrs)
1. Sorana Cirstea vs. Olga Govortsova
2. Urszula Radwanska vs. Dominika Cibulkova
3. Jamie Hampton vs. Vera Dushevina (NB 15.30hrs)
4. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Varvara Lepchenko (NB 20.00hrs)
5. Hantuchova/Raymond vs. Muhammed/Will

Court 6 (NB 16.30hrs)
1. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva vs. Chan/Dushevina (after suitable rest)

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Serena Williams Survives Scare from Dominika Cibulkova

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By Amy Fetherolf

(March 25, 2013) MIAMI — For a set and half, it looked like the Sony Open was about to lose another high profile player to an upset, as World No. 14 Dominika Cibulkova cruised to a 6-2, 4-1 lead over Serena Williams. But Williams managed to find her game in time, rallying to beat Cibulkova, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“Mentally I was just fried and I was just thinking about everything but tennis,” Williams said about her slow start. “Then I just had to pull myself back together. I was too stressed out and not really calm out there for really no reason.”

In the first set, Cibulkova took advantage of Williams’ shockingly lackluster serving, winning 44% of points on the Williams first serve, and 82% on the second serve. Williams hit just one ace in the set, and got broken three times.

Cibulkova kept it up into the second set, earning an early break on Williams. But suddenly, Williams loosened up and found her game, rattling off five straight games to take the second set 6-4. Once she’d forced the decider, it was mostly one-way traffic. Cibulkova broke Williams back early in the third set, but Williams broke two more times and held serve for the rest of the match.

“I was not feeling my game today, you know, but for me it’s getting through those matches when you don’t feel great and then you’re still able to come through them and survive and play for another round,” Williams said. “This particular time I just thought to myself, Well, I’ve been down worse. It’s nothing new. Just keep fighting. I never give up. Doesn’t matter whether it’s in life or on the tennis court, I keep fighting. That’s what I kept doing today.”

Williams hit 14 aces, 40 winners, 41 unforced errors in the match to Cibulkova’s two aces, 12 winners, and 19 unforced errors.

Williams will face Li Na in the quarterfinals.

Pictures from the match:

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Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN). She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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Cibulkova Nets Carlsbad Title

Dominika Cibulkova added a second winner’s trophy to her collection with her victory over friend Marion Bartoli 6-1, 7-5 in the final of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, California.

 

After a straight forward first set which saw the Slovak knock multiple winners past Bartoli, with the 6-1 set ending on a Bartoli double fault.  The second set proved to be much more of a contest. Cibulkova rallied past the Frenchwoman, coming back from two breaks down at 1-4 to win six out of the last seven games to clinch the match in 95 minutes.

 

“I was enjoying the final so much,” Cibulkova commented. ”I just played my game and in the first set everything was going my way. My forehand was working today 100% and also my service return. I’m also really happy that I turned it around in the second set and I didn’t give it up and I was still fighting for the set and I won.”

Bartoli came into the match having been on court four more hours than her opponent.

“She played extremely well and made me feel uncomfortable.” Bartoli said. I really fought extremely hard on the court, and being back in another final this year obviously means a lot to me and it’s good to have some wins before heading to Montréal and Cincinnati.”

“I lost, but Dominika played a great match,” said Bartoli.

“I wish her good luck at the Olympics.”

Bartoli will not be participating in the Olympic Games due to an ongoing dispute with the French Tennis Federation.

Cibulkova will rise to 13th in the world when the rankings come out on Monday. Her career high is 12th.

Cibulkova did not drop a set in her title run.

 http://youtu.be/yNY-uzaWe-Q

Results – Sunday, July 22, 2012
Singles – Final
(2) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (1) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 61 75

Doubles – Final
(3) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (2) King/Petrova (USA/RUS) 62 64

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Cirstea upsets Cibulkova at Bank of the West Classic

 

By David Sweet

STANFORD, California- Sorana Cirstea won the final 10 games, including a third-set bagel, to beat Dominika Cibulkova in their quarterfinal match at the Bank of the West Classic.

Cirstea avenged her 6-1 6-1 trouncing by Cibulkova at this year’s Barcelona tournament.

Cirstea said in her news conference that she her solid serving was the key to her win.  Cirstea talked about the long road back from a 2009 back injury that compromised her game throughout the past few years.

Cirstea will take on  Serena Williams who defeated Chanelle Scheepers.

David Sweet is covering the Bank of the West Tennis Classic at Stanford University for Tennis Panorama News July 9 -15, 2012. Follow his live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @davidsweetphoto, and ‘like’ his Facebook page “David Sweet Photography.” ‘Like’  the Tennis Panorama News Facebook page.

 

 

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Paszek tops Wozniacki, Cirstea upsets Li Na at Wimbledon

Tamira Paszek

WIMBLEDON – Add seventh seed Caroline Wozniacki and 11th seed Li Na to the list of seed casualties on the Ladies’ side of the Wimbledon draw. Austria’s Tamira Paszek eliminated Dane Wozniacki 5-7, 7-6(4),  6-4  while Romania’s Sorana Cirstea defeated China’s Li 6-3, 6-4 at the All England Club on Wednesday.

“It was a good match, good tennis, but that doesn’t really help me, Wozniacki said. “I lost in the first round.

“Tomorrow no one will remember how great a match it was, they’ll just remember who won.

“You know, obviously, yeah, it’s not a nice feeling.  Those are some of the matches that it’s really great when you win them, but also really sucks when you lose.  Especially after having two match points and not taking them.  It wasn’t because I played badly.  You know, she just went for it, and that’s it.”

The last time Wozniacki lost in the first round of a major tournament was the 2007 French Open.

“I didn’t think it was a bad match today,” Wozniacki said. “You’re going through periods where you’re lucky, the luck is turning your way, you’re not playing great, but you win the matches anyway.

“You go through periods where it’s just not going your way. You just need to get through this. Hopefully, sooner than later, it will start turning my way.”

A total of  five seeded women lost on Wednesday including (5) Sam Stosur, (7) Caroline Wozniacki, (11) Li Na, (13) Dominika Cibulkova and (23) Petra Cetkovska.

Stosur Stunned by Rus at Wimbledon

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Notes and Quotes from Day 10 of the 2012 French Open

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA

 

Well, I’m disappointed.  I am disappointed.  But now it’s over.  Nothing I can do.  I can’t play the match again, so I’m eliminated.

It’s a bit of a shame because I was pretty close.  I’m not going to regret many things in that match.  I gave everything I had.  I fought as much as I could.

Unfortunately at the end I had no energy left in my legs.  That’s it.  That’s the way it is.  I’ll have to close that chapter and start practicing on grass.

I’ll try and remember this match and this loss so I have more confidence in tournaments like Wimbledon.  Because if I can hurt top players on clay, I can do worse on grass.

Well, no, I mean, the first set he was playing real well.  He was playing real fast.  He was hitting the ball very early.  I had no time to get organized.

You know what?  Tennis is a sport in which you have two players and you can feel very well and you can still be defeated 6-Love if the guy on the other side of the net plays far better than you do.  This is what happened.

He played far better than me; he was hitting very early on the rebound.  Then, you know, sometimes you’re down 6-2, 6-Love, but I decided to fight back.  There’s no shame being dominated like that.  It’s tennis.  That’s sports.

All I know is that I’m not going to give him any point for free.  Had I been defeated 6-Love, 6-3, 6-1 fighting all along, it would have revealed my level.

But I fought, and I had match points.

 

This is probably the most difficult defeat or loss in my career.  I haven’t lost that many matches after such a big fight.  If I remember well, I think I lost one, a match in which I had match points.  I can’t remember which one it was, but I think there was just one.

It’s very rare for me to have match points and not win the match, so I remember that because it was Roland Garros; it was a quarterfinal.

But then for the match points, there is I feel nothing I can feel sorry about.  There was a passing shot, I played a passing shot and he ran on the good side.

It was like in Australia when he was on the right side.  That’s it.

 

Q.  Could you say a few words in English for your fans in the UK?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  (In English.)  Now is time to have a cup of tea.  (Laughter.)

 

ROGER FEDERER

 

Asked about the difference in the beginning of the match and the end of the match:

Conditions are slow, particularly on clay.  That makes it hard for a lot of variation.  You don’t get any free points on the serve.

Anything that’s maybe short rallies and chips and down the line shots, it’s a better match for me.  He obviously like to go back into backhand and then rip the forehand once he gets the chance.

I thought it was very good conditions for him.  I knew it was going to be tough anyway.  I have still been struggling to find my rhythm.  I did feel it in the first set, even though he was up two sets two breaks.  I was finding a way back and starting to feel better.

Just trying to figure out how to play a guy who returns from so far back on a slow court.  Do you try to serve through him?  Which I tried; didn’t work.  Or do I try and move it around a bit.  And that worked a bit better, but it was really in the mix‑up that, you know, I found success.

Second set was a tough, you know, set for me to lose, but he played a really good breaker and got the better of me.  But I was happy that the first two sets took some time, because I did favor myself once the match got longer.  That’s kind of how it came.

So I’m very happy with the way I fought and started in the third set, fourth set, and even in the fifth set where obviously it was the toughest, because that was his last chance and his resistance maybe was the biggest there.

I knew it was going to be a tricky match, I knew that margins were not on my side anymore.  That’s where I just tried to keep playing tough, make him understand how far he still had to go, as well, because I had a very long way.

I was able to do all of those things, and I was very happy the way I played, you know, starting the third set.

 

Obviously I was emotional and I was, you know, sometimes upset.  Sometimes just trying to push myself on.  Push harder and try harder and move faster, all those things, because I knew it could be crucial to the match.

Thank God it wasn’t, but in the moment itself you don’t know.  So you wait and see.

 

Yeah, of course I did think of the Tommy Haas match.  Of course I thought about the five-setter I had here with Juan Martin in 2009.

Maybe I drew some inspiration off it.  But then again, completely different place, you know.  Suzanne Lenglen; it’s raining.  It’s a different situation, really.

But, you know, you just try to push further and it’s not easy, you know.  But at the same time you are happy it’s a Grand Slam, because any other tournament I would have been out of the tournament.

This way, you know, the road to victory is much longer and it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.  I’m happy I came through.  I feel great, you know, after the five‑setter.

So I’m obviously happy I get two days, but it’s not necessary.  Looking forward to a big semifinal.

 

On playing Novak Djokovic:

I mean, it’s helpful if you’ve won the last three, four, five, maybe.  Obviously it helps to win one like he did in Rome, I would think.

But then again, this is the best situation.  It’s the best‑of‑five.  It’s something we’re not ‑ I don’t want to say accustomed to anymore as much, because we did play many more best‑of‑five set matches, let’s say, seven to ten years ago when all of the finals or many of the tournaments like in Basel, for instance, Gstaad, Vienna.  You name it, they were all best‑of‑five set finals.  The Masters 1000, most of them, were best of‑five‑set finals.

So you used to play many more.  Now all of a sudden you can go six months and not play almost any five‑setter, and even three years, let’s say.

So it’s a different approach, and I think we’re both aware of that.  We’re looking forward to it.  Give us more time to find our range, and once we find our range, it’s going to be tough for the opponent.

 

Doesn’t matter if it’s Novak or any other player really.  You just want to be well prepared; you want to be mentally ready for a long day.

Obviously over five sets, as well, the rain or the sunshine could come and go.  You have more possibility of interruption just because you’re out there for a longer period of time.  It’s a different kind of approach.

Obviously the start to the match is important, but then again, we saw that it didn’t matter at the US Open when we played each other; it didn’t matter this time when we played; to Del Potro it didn’t matter.

So that sometimes just keeps you honest to the very, very end, and you have to play as hard as I can every single point against him and see how it goes.

Well, I’m very disappointed for Jo.  I would have loved to play him here in Paris.

It’s like in Bercy.  He missed two match points against Isner; he missed four here.  I have a feeling that the crowd would have loved to see such a match.  For him, it’s a disappointment.

As for me, it’s nothing different as from last year.  I’m playing Djokovic in the semifinal.

 

Photo From Juan Martin Del Potro Twitter Page

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO

 

No, I think anyways I play a great match, even the third and fourth set.  He start to play much better than in the beginning of the match and I feel his ball more in the baseline.  He put me to run a lot in the third and fourth set.

He made better match than me after the second set.  I don’t have any chance to win until the first game in the fifth set when I had break point.  He play well points and he take the opportunity in the fifth set and he win.

Yeah, I feel, like you say, I serve really bad in the fourth set, also.  And if I serve bad against Federer or the top guys, you don’t have too many chance to win points.

I serve bad in the fourth set, and then in the fifth set he broke me very early to take the advantage.  He was playing with more confidence the fifth set than me.

When he had the chance to close the match, he made it.

 

I don’t know now.  I would love to play Queen’s.  I supposed to play Queen’s.  I just finish and I don’t know what I’m going to do in the next hours, so I can’t tell you that.

Well, the tournament was a great tournament for me.  I’m very happy I made it to this level.  I played four Grand Slams, and I’m amongst the eight players in the world who can make it to the final on a great tournament.

So when I win sets, when I win games against big players, against those who have a better ranking than mine, there’s always something to learn.  There is positive and negative, and I have to work on the negative aspects.

 

Well, until the very last ball I thought I could win, even if I was down 5‑2 during the fifth set.  I have enough experience now and I can come back even when the match is very complicated and we’re in the fifth set.

That’s why I was never discouraged.  Well, I always think that Federer has far more experience than I have and he can win a match more quickly.  Against another player I could have won a break and I could have won perhaps, but it was Federer.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

 

Asked about an exhibition that he’s playing in Brazil in November:

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, yes, it’s the first time now that I talk about it.  It’s confirmed.  I’m really excited because I never been in Brazil.

I heard all the best things about your country.  Of course, Guga is the biggest tennis legend there.  I would like to play with him.  It’s still not decided.  Even if I play with Thomaz will be great.

Just the experience of being in Brazil makes me very happy.

On the win and saving 4 match points:  There is really not any rational explanation or a word that can describe what you’re supposed to do when you’re match points down or when you’re losing and you’re very close to lose the match.

It’s, I guess, trying to be mentally tough and believing in your shots.  Obviously a little bit of experience that I had playing on this level for last five, six years.  I did have some matches similar to this one when I was match points down and managing to come back.

So I don’t want to be wise now and say, Okay, I know you how to play when I’m match points down.  Because as I said, there is no explanation.  I’m just going for the shots.  I’m glad I was aggressive in these moments and, you know, it paid back for me.

Well, look, this level, this level of tennis is very mental, you know, lots of emotions.  If you’re playing top player and home favorite and you have a crowd that is supporting him incredibly so, you have to face all these things.

Physically, we are all ready, we are all fit, and we are all hitting the ball well.  But it’s a matter of, you know, just couple of points here and there will decide winner.  That was the case.

I mean, if he would win he would deserve the win, no doubt.  But, you know, that’s sport.  The one that mentally, I think, pushes more maybe in some moments and obviously gets also a bit lucky and gets the win, you know, that’s how it goes.

You know, ones you win, ones you lose, but the more important thing is to try to take the best out of these matches and enjoy them, you know, because as a tennis player, this is what you live for.  This is what you practice for all these years, you know, to be part of incredible performance, incredible match encounter here in Roland Garros, you know, with the home players.

I’m really glad that I could win today.

 

So, you know, I think I felt good on the court.  Then I played one bad service game, and that’s when the momentum changed, you know.  He got crowd on his side, big support.  He started serving whenever he was in trouble.

Break balls second, third, fourth set, he always served it out, and really big, which is not something that happened for the first time.  He tends to play always his best when you know, when the pressure, he comes to the net and hits the ball.  That’s why he’s one of the top players.

Yeah, it was incredible.  I mean, at some stages, even though I thought I was returning really well and I was in the point, he just went for everything.  He was playing, in my opinion, incredibly well.

But in the end, I managed to breakthrough.

 

On Federer’s 5 set win over Del Potro:

Well, another great semifinal.  I don’t want to talk too much about Roger.  We all know his quality and can always expect him to perform his best at this stage of the tournament.

He came back from two sets down today.  We both played tough matches in last two rounds.  Now we’re going to have two days off and expect exciting semifinal.

You know, last year we were part of a great match that went the distance, and he played incredibly well.  I thought I played on a very high level.  I just hope we can have another good match for us and for the crowd to be a part of.

I think for me it’s crucial to be very focused and aggressive from the first moment, because that’s something that you can always expect Roger to have, you know, that control over the opponent from the start.  I will try to be out there believing I can win.

Now there is no really favorite for that match.  It’s semifinals, so everything is open.

 SARA ERRANI

 

A big change for me really was the racquet.  Was a big change that make me feel much better in the court.  Make me feel with more power and not too difference with other players on power and these things.

But also physically I worked very good this winter.  But I’ve worked also very good the other winters, so is not a change.  Is just work every day harder that I can and physically in tennis, so maybe the big thing is mix of everything.

I’m very happy for how I play.  I’m very happy the fight, of course.  I’m happy for that, but I used to make that every match.  I want to fight every match, every point.

So I’m happy more maybe for the tennis, because normally the other things I feel that I do the maximum every time.

But of course she’s a really strong player to beat her in a Grand Slam, in Roland Garros.  I don’t know.  Is good.

 

On Sam Stosur:  She’s amazing player, of course.  She’s very strong.  So I play against her in Rome last tournament and was tough match.  We play also another tight match.

I don’t know.  If I’m here is because I’m playing good, so I want just to think about that and think to fight and make my best.  How it goes, we will see.

 

Inspiration from Francesca Schiavone:  Yes, of course she won here.  I remember that very good.  I don’t know.  Is inspiration, but I’m not thinking about that.  I want to play.  I think about make the good things that I usually try to do and just playing, just keep going until where I can arrive.

 

DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA

 

On playing Sam Stosur:

I mean, I have to say that she played unbelievable today.

You know, her topspin and her serve, I mean, she played like a man, and it’s really hard to play against a man.  It was driving me crazy on the court today.  So it was really, really hard.  Really tough.

I mean, for me for sure, because she’s putting the ball so high.  Her kick she gets me out of the court so much so then I cannot do nothing.  So if I want to go against the serve I go here, and if I want to go back I’m like three meters behind the baseline.

It was not easy.  Today in tough moments she gave me so many good winners, so many lines, and it was just everything going her way today.

SAMANTHA STOSUR

 

Errrani surprise semifinalist:

She’s had a very good year; won some tournaments.  She’s very tough to play against.  She’s a tough competitor and makes you work for it.

You know, I think this is probably the breakthrough year for her, making quarterfinals Australian Open, and now here, French Open.  You know, she’s having a good year.  You’ve got to respect that and be aware of that.

 

On topspin and kick serve which give opponents trouble:

I don’t know, because I guess that’s the way I play.  I find it a lot easier to play that way than the way that most of the girls play.  So I think that a big part of the serving factor is when I was young, I had a coach that maybe saw the potential in me to be able to hit that kick serve.

From 10, 11, 12 years old worked on it worked on it and worked on it.  As you get older and you get stronger and get bigger it becomes more and more effective.  So I think that probably was ingrained in me probably from a young age.  At that age, who knows if you’re ever going to make it to this point?  I guess that’s just good looking ahead from the coach I had at that time.

And then the spin and all that, just kind of growing with my game and working with David really improved that the last, you know, four or five years that we’ve been together.

 

I think even the girls that you look at on tour that you don’t necessarily think they’re very big or very strong, they can hit the ball very hard.  That’s all through technique and timing of the ball.  It’s probably a bit of both.

 

Q.  This is a question from fans to you.  They’ve noticed that your results at the Australian Open weren’t as good as here in Paris.  The question is:  Would you like the Australian Open to be played in Paris?  (Laughter.)

Sure, but I do love playing in Australia.  I never want to, you know, say I don’t enjoy it or anything like that.

But I guess it’s just the way it is.  It’s a totally different surface and time of the year.  It’s always tough coming out playing, you know, straight up at the start of the year.

And being Australian there is a little bit more pressure playing there, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to handle it better.

 

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Azarenka Ousted by Cibulkova at French Open

No. 1 Victoria Azarenka was upset by 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round of the French Open in Paris on Sunday 6-2, 7-6(4).

After winning the first game of the match which took 15 minutes and went nine deuces, Azarenka’s game went flat.  The Slovakian Cibulkova captured six of the next seven games to take the first set 6-2.  Cibulkova who has fallen to the Belarusian Azarenka in Miami this year after having a set and 5-2 lead, rallied from a break down in the second set.

“I don’t know how to describe my performance really today,” Azarenka said.  “It wasn’t satisfying at all.  It wasn’t satisfying being out there playing that way.

“But I guess it happens, you know.  I don’t know even what to find positive really in my performance today.  But, well, it’s been too little time.  Maybe in a few hours I’ll find something that I can be happy with.

“I’m gonna kill myself.  What am I going to do recovering?  I’m just gonna go on the practice court and practice again.

“This tournament is over for me.  What’s to recover from?  It’s to really look forward and improve.  That’s it.

‘She’s definitely a good player.  I think she plays much better against the top players than maybe a little bit lower ranked players.  She really has that desire.  I don’t know what motivates her to play that way.

“Yeah, she’s a dangerous opponent.  She had big wins before, and it was no surprise that she was going to be playing well today.”

“But this is for me really important stage that,” said Cibulkova, “I have this confidence that I really needed for a long time, and I think the confidence on this level the most important thing.  So of course I believe, but I just need to keep this level, you know, and to go for next match, which is good things, you know, what I was able to do and change on the court.”

“It was one of the best moments, you know, this year for me, because I ..I didn’t have such a good result since the beginning of the year, and the most important for me, that it was not about that I go to quarterfinals or that I be No. 1, but it was the important thing that I just made it.

“The situations for me, I lost so many matches against good or worse players and I was up winning and then I just couldn’t make it.

“And now I just did it, and it was only me on the court who did it and nobody else.  I was not like relying on somebody else.  It was just my work.  So, you know, it was something so good.”

Cibulkova will meet the winner of the Samantha Stosur- Sloane Stephens match in the quarterfinals. The last woman seeded No. 1 at Roland Garros to win the tournament was Justine Henin in 2007.

 

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Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars


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by Craig Hickman

Tuesday night, the players chose their fashion-forward best for the “Oscars” of the player party circuit. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Kournikova were the biggest stars of the tennis world in attendance, as well as world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, and pretty boy Feliciano Lopez, who made one of the photographers weak-kneed.

Robin Soderling
, along with his girlfriend, were among the first to show up and they were already walking out when we arrived. Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova were the last to arrive on the red (blue) carpet. An adorable couple close up, their chemistry was palpable. Tomas has always had the look of an angel and Lucie’s baby-doll face was all aglow. I was thrilled to see Anastasia Myskina who arrived with the self-proclaimed “Russian Mob,” led by Svetlana Kuznetsova in another one of her head-scratching get ups.

Mixed in with the players were a few actors, a couple professional gamers, some well-known local DJ’s, and a few mystery men.

Venus Williams arrived about midway through and when Serena Williams wasn’t far behind, it was clear the superstar wasn’t coming. Also noticeably absent was Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Kim Clijsters.

Tweeting the photos was a stroke of genius suggested by photographer  JD Blom. I was all set to tweet my best descriptions of the outfits when he looked over my shoulder and said, “Just snap a photo.” Ah, technology. I’m not a wizard with the latest toys, so I had no clue you could do such a thing. Once I got the hang of it, it was all over. Would love to do that again someday.

Right before the paparazzi packed up equipment to leave, one of the Getty photographers asked my to identify most of the players he’d just captured for he only recognized a few big names. Who knew?

More photos from the live tweets – here.

On the Red (Blue) Carpet of the Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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On the Red (Blue) Carpet of the Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

The Sony Ericsson Open Players Party took place at the Paris Theater in Miami Beach. Here are a few photos from the event held on March 22, 2011.

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More photos from the live tweets – here.

Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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New Experience with Sharapova and the Hot Shots

Craig Hickman will be covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Before the tournament got underway, the action was already beginning in South Beach.

By Craig Hickman

Started the day at breakfast with Jarkko Nieminen and Andrea Petkovic, had a short hit with David Ferrer at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, then toughed through the spring-break traffic to Miami Beach for the Xperia Hot Shots unveiling over at the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel on Collins Ave.

Well, okay. I saw Nieminen and Petkovic at breakfast, watched Ferrer’s practice session with Fernando Verdasco before the event on Miami Beach. A bit overexcited attending my first Sony Ericsson Open, just seeing the players up close and personal made me feel as though we were all companions.


Maria Sharapova‘s celebrity appearance gave the event some sparkle after DJ Jazzy Jeff’s set and before Dominika Cibulkova, Sorana Cirstea, Alizé Cornet, Sabine Lisicki, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Heather Watson,were introduced as the WTA’s future superstars. The event felt like a big old party. Free flowing liquor at the open bar. Jazzy Jeff’s louder than loud music. Party goers from all walks of life decked out in various stages of undress, the beach only steps away. Paparazzi everywhere.

The turquoise ocean beneath a clear sky beckoned, but I stayed put. Well, not exactly.

Before the event got underway, I stole some moments in the hotel lobby with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who were on the big flat screen next to the bar beating each other up in the BNP Paribas Open final. More folks than I would have imagined stopped to take in a few points en route to their rooms or the beach or the party out back or the bigger party along the entire thoroughfare out front. Miami Beach during spring break is no joke. Back in the lobby, one young woman waiting for the elevator pointed at the battle on the flat screen, looked at her toddler boy and said, “Look. Tennis.” Seems as though as many people stopped to check the tennis score as they did the basketball score before the nice bartender allowed me the remote to change the channel.

Shortly after the event, Sharapova was escorted by security to the black SUV that swept her away while the photographer’s shutters clicked, clicked, clicked.

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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