May 28, 2016

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.

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Radwanska Ends Defending Champ Azarenka’s run at Australian Open

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(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.”

 

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Cibulkova Dominates Halep to reach Australian Open Semifinal

DominikaCibulkova

(January 22, 2014) No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova routed No. 11 Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 to move into the semifinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday. For the Slovak it’s her second major semifinal, the first coming at the 2009 French Open. Cibulkova is now 2-5 in Grand Slam quarterfinals

In a match which lasted 60 minutes, Cibulkova won the last 8 games to close the match. Halep only managed to win 10 points in the second set.

Cibulkova kept the ball deep in her rallies with the Romanian, who committed 25 unforced errors.

“I couldn’t play today,” Halep said.  “I had emotions, big emotions, and I couldn’t manage this.  Before the match I was very nervous and I didn’t feel the ball at all.  I couldn’t move my body and I couldn’t play.

“But she played really well today, and she hits all the balls very strong and she moves really well.”

 

Cibulkova came into the quarterfinals by upsetting No. 3 Maria Sharapova in three sets.

“Of course I’m really glad with the way I played, especially with the way I handled it mentally,” Cibulkova said. “It was a big win against Maria.

“But I wasn’t favorite in this match again against Halep, you know.

“I walked on the court with the confident that I can do it again today.  I was so focusing what I have to do, to do the right things.  That was all what I wanted to do, and of course enjoy my tennis again.

“I’m not so tall, but I’m intense on the court,” the 5’3” Cibulkova said, “and I’m powerful.”

“Obviously I’m not a tall player.  I would say I’m the smallest on tour.

“But, you know, I would say I’m pretty quick on my feet.  I do a lot of good footwork.  I’m really powerful on the court.  I have very good groundstrokes.  My forehand is pretty fast.

“Yeah, when I play my great tennis, I’m really aggressive.  I don’t know, that’s what I do the best.”

 

Dispite the poor performance by Halep, reaching the quarterfinals has been her best result at a major to date.

“I think I will have many chances to pass quarterfinals in Grand Slams,” Halep said.  “But I have to work hard like until now.  So I have my chances in this career and I want to get them.  I want to be more prepared before the big matches.

“So I have to work, hard work.”

“Yes, I am happy that I could play a quarterfinals here in Grand Slam,” she continued.  “Was my dream before this.  I don’t want to disturb my mind very much this sh– today, this match.

“But I just want to enjoy the day and to go home very happy.  I have to enjoy my best result in Grand Slam.”

Cibulkova will face the winner of the Victoria AzarenkaAgniezska Radwanska winner in the semifinals.

“Every match I play against of them, it was me who was doing pressure on them,” Cibulkova said of her potential opponents.  “I was the one who was dictating the game, the one who was going for bigger shots.

“So they both are great players.  I just want to keep my focus, you know, to stay aggressive.”

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Maria Sharapova Loses to Dominika Cibulkova at Australian Open

Dominika Cibulkova

Dominika Cibulkova

(January 20, 2014) In another major upset at the Australian Open within the last 24 hours, No. 3 Maria Sharapova fell in the fourth round to No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday.  With the win Cibulkova has now made the quarterfinals or better at all four majors.

Sharapova made 45 unforced errors in her two hour and 12 minute match against Cibulkova. In addition to the errors and her serving woes, Sharapova took an off-court medical time-out in the third set due to a hip injury.

“I have a bit of a strain the trainer told me in the hip area,” Sharapova said.

“I mean, those aches and pains are expected when you spend a long time on the court.  Just have to play through it.

“I haven’t been playing the best tennis of this tournament, but I found ways to get through to the last two matches.

“Tried to do that again today, but she played extremely well.”

Cibulkova also knocked out Sharapova from the French Open five years ago.

Cibulkova broke Sharapova’s serve four straight times, beginning when the Russian was serving for the first set. Cibulkova jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set. Sharapova would win four straight games, but Cibulkova held her off to hold to finally close the set 6-4.

“It was really, really important game to stay in the match,’ said the world No. 20.  “It could be very different if it was 5‑All then set for me.

“So I think this game I was going for my shots, and I really played well.”

Sharapova was asked if this her second tournament coming back from a right shoulder injury which kept out for the last few months of the year, if she rates this as success.

“I think it’s a success in terms of that I’m back and that I’m healthy.  That’s quite important.  Otherwise I wouldn’t give myself a chance to play.

“So on that note, yeah, I have to look at the positives and see where I have come from in four or five months.  I haven’t played a lot of tennis in those six months.

“So I certainly would have loved to play a little bit more before playing a Grand Slam, but this is the chance that I was given.  I’m smart enough to be able to take it and acknowledge that I’m still pretty lucky to be in the draw and giving myself a chance to try to win it.”

With Serena Williams and Sharapova out, does the Slovakian think she has a chance at the title?

“I just ‑‑ I don’t want to think about it,” she said.  “I came here to play my best tennis.  The thing that changed maybe that I’m playing so well.  You know, I’m trying to also enjoy tennis.

“I love what I’m doing, and I don’t want to put too much pressure, because then it’s ‑‑ I don’t want to suffer on the court, you know.  I love the game and I love to play tennis.  I’m very good player, so I don’t want to have two opponents, the real one and me.

“I’m just trying to play against the opponent.”

“I was never doubting myself,” Cibulkova said on court after the match.

The 24-year-old Cibulkova will play Simona Halep in her first Australian Open quarterfinal.

No. 1 Serena Williams, 17-time major champion was knocked out in the fourth round on Sunday in a loss to Ana Ivanovic.

 

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Radwanska and Li Na Gain Toronto Semis

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By Brodie Elgin

(August 9, 2013) TORONTO – At 2-2 in the first set, Sara Errani winced. This wasn’t the first time she had played Agnieszka Radwanska. Last year the two battled to an eventual Radwanska victory in Istanbul at the Year End Championships, a match which lasted a staggering 3 hours and 29 minutes. She knew she was in for a strange match. As the sun beat down, the breaks came from all imaginable scenarios; great volleys at the net, bad errors, and winners after grueling points.”  I think we were playing a bit similar tennis.  That’s why a lot of running, a lot of long rallies, and that’s why I think our matches are always very long,” said Radwanska, prior to facing Errani.

 

With both players trading service holds to start the match, Radwanska and Errrani traded a nearly unbelievable 11 straight breaks before Radwanska finally held found herself up a commanding 7-6(1), 2-0 lead.

 

With neither player creating much pace, both players needed to find new ways to finish points or move players around. Errani was at her most effective when able to hit her forehand up the line or find extreme angles to spin the forehand cross court. However, Radwanska did an excellent job of trying to keep the ball to Errani’s backhand, particularly on her return, and getting to net to finish points when possible.

 

Unsurprisingly, the break lead didn’t last long and Errani and Rawanska battled to an even 5-5. With a couple of Errani errors, Radwanska broke yet again and finally put together a straight forward hold with four impressive winners, taking the match 7-6(1), 7-5 and advancing to the semifinals. She awaits Serena Williams.

 10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

In the second semifinal of the day, Li Na had a straight forward win over Dominika Cibulkova, in 1 hour and 36 minutes. A streaky first set meant both players held and broke service three times each. But it was Li who would effectively raise her game in the tiebreak to win it 7-6(1).

 

 

Li insisted she wanted to continue to stick to her guns in the second set, and felt she was playing well. “I was thinking about, okay, one set.  Second set you should just continue to do what you should do.  You don’t have to be looking at what the opponent do.” From then on it was smooth sailing against Cibulkova, who recently won Stanford and is playing in her third straight week. Li saved both break points she faced in the second set and served at a cool 75% to take it easily, 6-2.

 

“I haven’t lost to her, but every time is tough.  I mean, never has [there been an] easy one,” said Li. “She was running pretty fast on the court, and she can hit everywhere on the court. So I have to ready for every second; otherwise I will lose the point.”

 

Li will take on Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals on Saturday. Li leads the head to head 5-1, including winning their two most recent matches, both on hard courts.

Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

 

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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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