2015/07/01

Maria Sharapova to Play Ekaterina Makarova in Australian Open Semis

Makarova

Makarova

(January 27, 2015) It will be an all-Russian semifinal in the bottom half of the women’s draw at the Australian Open. 2008 champion Maria Sharapova and No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova advanced in Melbourne with easy victories on Tuesday.

No. 2 Sharapova took down 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 to keep her record perfect against the world No. 7 at 4-0. Earlier in the day Ekaterina Makarova upset No. 3 Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0 in 69 minutes.

“I had to produce a really good performance against Genie,” Sharapova said after the match. “She’s been playing so confidently and aggressively.”

Sharapova rallied past Bouchard the last time they played each other, in the semifinals of the French Open where the Russian went on to win her second Roland Garros title, her fifth major.

“I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot,” Bouchard said. I mean, that’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went downhill from there. It’s definitely easier when you have a good start to the match.”

“I’m never happy with losing. I wanted to obviously win today, win the tournament. But, you know, I feel like I dealt with, yeah, pressure, outside expectations well. I wasn’t really focused on the whole defending thing. I really just tried to block that out of my mind. So I think, you know, that helped me get through the first week, get through some, you know, matches that could have been tricky. But, yeah, you know, I always want to do better, especially than the year before. I’m always trying to aim for that.”

“I knew I had to play a really complete match,” Sharapova said. “She’s someone who really goes after it and goes after her strokes, so I knew that the second and third balls would be really important. I knew I had to take time away from her and be aggressive – I wanted to get in the rallies a little bit, but I also wanted to something on my own first few shots today.”

“I felt pretty good from the start,” said the Russian. “I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn’t feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall really happy with the way the match went.”

Bouchard hit 30 unforced errors to Sharapova’s 18.

For Makarova, this marks her second straight major semifinal having reached the semifinals of the 2014 US Open.

“I was just I was a little bit stressed, I don’t know why,” last year’s French Open finalist Halep said of her loss. “I had experience from last year to play quarterfinals, so it doesn’t mean that I felt pressure. I just I didn’t feel the game, the ball. It was a very bad day for me.”

“I practiced very well in the morning, but maybe I was a little bit too stressed before I started the match. Wasn’t my good day. I had a bad day. But she played well and everything was in for her. So she deserves this winning. I’m really sad a little bit now that I could not play my tennis, my game, but that’s tennis and I have to look forward to the next tournament.”

“I have experience. I had experience to play quarterfinals in Grand Slams. But sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match. But, you know, just mentally because during the points maybe I didn’t fight very well today. I just lost my concentrate to win the points, to win the match. So I didn’t believe any more in second set, and that’s maybe why I lost 6-0.”

Makarova talked about her strategy in the match; “I just tried to stay solid and to play my game. She’s a tough opponent, and I lost to her already two years ago. She doesn’t miss a lot, so every point we had really tough one and really long one. I tried to be more aggressive more to win this point because she never miss and she never give up. So I tried to stay solid and to keep my game.”

“I was playing my good tennis, so maybe in the second set she was a little bit upset. She, like, didn’t understand what to do. But she’s a great player. She had a great season last year. She always like sometimes can turn around the game, doesn’t matter what’s the score, so I was so concentrate.”

Makarova goes into the semifinal against Sharapova with and 0-5 record, having never won a set.

“Well, I never beat her,” said the 26-year-old on playing Sharapova, “so it will be tough. Definitely she’s a great fighter. Like here on the second round, she almost lost, but she turned around. I’m looking forward. I’m want to enjoy this time and want to rest and we’ll see what happen in semis.”

“She likes playing here,” Sharapova said of next opponent. “She uses that left-handed serve really well. It’s always tricky playing a lefty and your compatriot, as well, but one of us will be in the final and that makes me happy.”

“Well, besides playing another Russian, I’m also facing an opponent that wasn’t necessarily a favorite coming into that stage,” Sharapova said. “That’s always a tricky situation because she’s going to come into that match free and almost happy to be in that situation, and that’s dangerous. You know, I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She’s been using her lefty serve extremely well from what I’ve seen. But, yeah, I’ll be looking out for that, work on a few things tomorrow, and be ready for that match.”

“I’m so comfortable here, it’s all the atmosphere and maybe memories from New York that I bring here,” said Makarova.

 

AUSTRALIAN – MELBOURNE, AUS
$15,561,973
19-31 JANUARY, 2015

Results – Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Singles – Quarterfinals
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (7) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 63 62
(10) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (3) Simona Halep (ROU) 64 60

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Mattek-Sands/Safarova (USA/CZE) d. (3) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 76(5) 46 62
(13) Krajicek/Zahlavova Strycova (NED/CZE) d. (5) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 36 63 76(3)
(14) Chan/Zheng (TPE/CHN) d. Jans-Ignacik/Klepac (POL/SLO) 61 62
(16) Goerges/Groenefeld (GER/GER) d. Bertens/Larsson (NED/SWE) 62 75

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Maria Sharapova to Face Eugenie Bouchard in Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

(January 25, 2015) Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will face off for a place in the Australian Open semifinals after reaching the quarterfinals in Melbourne on Sunday.

No. 2 seed Sharapova won the last 8 games of the match in her 6-3, 6-0 dismissal of No. 21 seed Peng Shuai in the fourth round.

Seventh seed Bouchard won nine of the first 10 games against No. 42 Irina-Camelia Begu, but was pushed to win her first three-setter of the tournament in her 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win.

On the road to the round of 16, the Romanian Begu defeated No. 9-seeded Angelique Kerber in the first round.

Bouchard, advanced to semifinals or better at the first three major tournament in 2014, took a break after the second set.

“I gave myself a good, long hard look in the mirror,” Bouchard said post-match in regard to going off court. “I said, `Genie, this is unacceptable.’ I really kind of kicked myself in the butt a little bit.”

The Canadian spoke about how the match switched momentum to her opponent in the second set. “It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. It happens. Yeah, I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive, and you know, that’s not my game at all. I don’t do well when that happens. She could string together a few good points here and there, hit some good shots and serves and got some confidence in the second set. You know, that helped her. So definitely disappointing. But I learned a lot from it and I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen next time. I’m happy that I could regroup and, yeah, play a bit better tennis in the third. I want to build on that for the next match”

“Clearly I need more practice!” she said.

The 20-year-old Bouchard will play Sharapova next. The Russian has a 3-0 career record against Bouchard. Sharapova fell in the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year, while Bouchard reached the semifinals in her Australian Open debut.

Sharapova said, “Last year I lost in the fourth round here, getting to the quarters is really special.”

Asked about what she expects in her match with Bouchard, Sharapova responded: “She’s been playing really well in this tournament and also in the slams the last year. Really confident tennis and inspired form. I expect her to come out and play a really good match. I think we only played each other one time last year, which was at the French. That was a really tough match for me. I had to come back from being down one set to Love. Yeah, I’m sure she’ll come out and play extremely well.”

“She’s a pretty aggressive player. She stays really close to the line, she likes to dictate the points. Yeah, I feel that’s where she’s hurt a lot of players and been really successful.

 

“I would definitely look forward to that match,” Bouchard said. “I think it’s always great to play the best players in the world. We’ve had a couple matches, and a good match last year. You know, I think I was close. It was just a tough battle. But I think I’ve progressed a lot since then, and, you know, I definitely want to keep playing my game no matter what. Really kind of take it to her, go for my shots. That’s what I want to do on the court. And it’s more fun when I play that way, too. I had more fun in the third set today. So I want to try to do that.”

Sharapova was asked about Bouchard being compared to her. “I think we all want to go through our own paths and we all want to — when I was coming up, I was compared to Kournikova for many years in my career and still occasionally name always comes up in interviews and articles. That’s just part of it, part of the game, part of the business. It’s understandable. It is what it is. As I have said, I believe I was still a teenager, I don’t want to be the next anyone. I want to be the first Maria Sharapova. And that’s how I’ve been throughout my whole career. And we all want to create our own path and go through our own career. And we’re all destined for some sort of thing. We work extremely hard at a sport, and that’s what we want to be known for.”

Asked about if she sees Bouchard in her, Sharapova responded:

“I personally don’t know Genie very well. As a tennis player she’s a big competitor. She’s an aggressive player as well that likes to take the ball early and dictate points. From that perspective, yeah, definitely.”

 

In another fourth round match, No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won 6-3, 6-2 over Germany’s Julia Goerges to reach the elite eight, where she’ll face off against No. 3 Simona Halep.

Halep is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the second straight year with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Yanina Wickmayer.

For Makarova it’s her third trip to the Australian Open quarterfinals.

“A lot of confidence I have now because I didn’t lose a set,” Halep said. “I had good matches here in first week, so I’m really happy that I’m in second week now like last year. Here I started to play my best tennis in Grand Slams. So means a lot for me. I really have more confidence now to play the quarterfinals.”

“I’m so happy, yeah, that I’m showing my good tennis here and already in the quarter; third time here in Australian Open,” said the Russian. So I’m so happy that I beat today Julia. She’s tough opponent. She’s in great shape. She played great her matches. So I’m happy that I came through.”

 

Makarova upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2012.

On playing Halep next, Makarova said: “Well, we played once in New Haven I think not the last year, the year before. I lost 6-1, 7-6, something like that. She’s one of the greatest player now, and I’m really looking forward. If she wins today, depends, yeah. I will want to forward and forward step by step.”

Halep on matching up against Makarova: “I know her. I play a few times against her. She serves pretty well; she’s moving well; she’s playing aggressive. I have my chance. I believe in my chance next round. So I have to make my game again to be aggressive and to serve well like today.”

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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.

 

 

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Peng Retires in Match; Wozinacki and Williams Move into US Open Women’s Final

 

(September 5, 2014) China’s Shuai Peng, appearing to have cramps clutched her right knee and limped her way over to the back wall of the court in tears while receiving serve from 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who was up 7-6(1), 4-3, 30-40.

At the wall, a trainer, a tournament official, a security guard and a ballperson ran to Peng’s side to help her. After about a ten minute period, which included Peng being taken off court for evaluation and being treated for heat illness, she resumed play. Points later she collapsed to the ground and retired from the match, advancing Wozniacki to her second major final.

Peng was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

In her news conference hours later, Peng said she felt fine.

“I think it was the physical because today is really humid and hot,” said the 28-year-old, ranked 39th. “And then like my body is not like from like — maybe I got from I parents when I’m born. It’s not like the strong, my physical like everything. So also from like what I does in the practice and just the lot of fitness and then try to improve with everything.”

“I said, `No, no, no. I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time,'” said Peng, when she  had to retire. “I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.”

“It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court,” the 10th seed Wozniacki said. “You know, tennis is great, but the health is more important. You know, to see her struggling out there, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I got the word that she’s okay now and just getting cooled down, so that’s great to hear. I’m in the finals, which is obviously great. It’s been five years for me since my last one here, so I’m extremely happy to be back there.”

The 24-year-old Dane lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open in 2009.

The other semifinal had very little drama as No. 1 Serena Williams ran away with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. For Williams this will be her third straight US Open final. She’s looking to three-peat and win her sixth US Open crown on Sunday.

 

“I’m just really excited to be in the final,” the 32-year-old said. In the beginning of the week I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’m just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”

“I think I played pretty well today. You know, I was able to change up my game and just keep moving forward and just keep doing what I could do today.”

Williams evaluated her match-up with Wozniacki: I” definitely expect another close match. She really knows my game well and knows how to play. She’s so consistent. I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning — the past six months I would never thought I’d be here. I think it’s just staying calm and happy.”

Williams is seeking her 18th major on Sunday which would tie her on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Christ Evert.

 

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Ekaterina Makarova Moves into her First Major Semifinal

Makarova bh

 

(September 3, 2014) Ekaterina Makarova reached her first major semifinal, beating two-time major winner and US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday at the U.S. Open.

It still has not hit the Russian that she’s in a major semifinal when the 26-year-old was in press. “I am feeling the same like the matches before. Of course I’m happy that I’m came through, finally through the quarters and I’m in semis now. Today was a great, tough match. We played so many times with Vika; she beat me and I beat her. So today was a tough one, and I’m really happy that I came through.”

Azarenka’s manager said that she had food poisoning on Tuesday, but Azarenka gave all the credit to her opponent.

“I don’t really want to talk about it,” Azarenka said. “I just, you know, want to give credit to my opponent. She played really well today. Am I disappointed? Yes, I’m disappointed. But I feel like I tried my best with whatever I had. But, you know, I just want to wish her good luck. That’s it. I’m out of the tournament.”

Makarova, the 17th seed who has not lost a set yet in the tournament, beat Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard to get to the quarterfinals.

Makarova will play the winner of the semifinal between two-time defending champion Serena Williams and 11th seed Flavia Pennetta.

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Top Seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic Win: Eugenie Bouchard Beaten by the Heat

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard

(September 1, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – The US Open top seeds had straight set victories on Labor Day Monday. Novak Djokovic, was a 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 winner over No. 22 seeds Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, and Serena Williams defeated No. 50 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-3, 6-3.

For the Serb Djokovic it’s his 8th straight US Open quarterfinal he’s reached and his 22nd major tournament overall.

“I’m very glad obviously that I had so many consecutive quarterfinals of Grand Slams,” said the Serb. “It says that I do value these tournaments the most and try to always perform my best tennis in them. Obviously motivates me for the future to continue that streak, of course.”

Djokovic will meet two-time major champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Murray beat No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.

For Serena Williams the two-time defending US Open champion, this will be her first Grand Slam quarterfinal this year.

“I never thought it would be so exciting,” Williams said smiling. “Yeah! It feels good. Obviously I don’t want this to end. But I’m just happy that I’m able to be performing a little better at the end of the year.”

Williams has a perfect 5-0 record against her next opponent Flavia Pennetta.

“Of course, she’s better than me, but if I still believe I can beat her, maybe if she doesn’t have a good day I can do that,” Pennetta said. If I get in the court and just play and try to don’t take 6-Love 6-Love, I gonna take 6-Love 6-Love.”

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was beaten by the heat during her fourth round match-up against Ekaterina Makarova. The Canadian said that she felt dizzy and her vision was blurry as she was bothered by the New York City heat and humidity. She took two medical time outs.

“I was feeling very light headed and dizzy on the court,” said Bouchard. “You know, just seeing things a little blurry. You know, feeling well physically on the court is very important to me, so when I don’t feel that — I just generally didn’t feel good.”

Makarova, the 17th seed from Russia beat Bouchard 7-6 (2), 6-4, ending the Canadian’s streak of reaching at least the semifinals of each major in 2014.

“I definitely felt a lot of outside expectations and pressure to win matches. I felt more like it’s normal if I win and it’s a bit more of a disaster when I lose,” Bouchard said. “But that’s something that I need to block out.”

“I remember as a junior a few times in Australia when it was hot I felt this way. Last year here actually in the second round I felt it a little bit. You know, once in a while I get a little bit light headed. That’s what happens.”

Makarova said: “Today was really tough condition definitely. So humid, and sometimes I think because of that the game was going like up and down. Against Bouchard it’s always tough because she’s running good. She’s also really — like physically she’s hard. So I think it was really good match, and I’m really happy that in the end of the first and the second set I was a little bit more aggressive.”

In round of 16 men’s matches on Monday night, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka beat No. 16 Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2, No. 5 Milos Raonic fell to  No. 10 Kei Nishikori 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-4, in a match which ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday, equaling the latest finish in US Open history.

Two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka rallied past qualifier 145th-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I didn’t have a lot of data on her or, you know, much of an idea,” Azarenka said. “I think she played exceptionally well today. I’m not sure if I would have watched the matches before that would help me a lot, I think because I felt like not knowing much she still played on a really high level and pretty consistent through the whole match. She gave a fight, and she wasn’t afraid to go big on the important moments. I was a little bit surprised that she’s not that tall, and she hits the ball and unleashes her forehand with so much power. So that was quite surprising. But, you know, I think she’s a young player. She has a good future if she keeps going this way.”

 

Next for Azarenka will be Makarova. The Belarusian evaluated her next challenger.

“I think she’s a very tough opponent because she’s very consistent. You know, she reads the game really well. We had some tough matches in the past. I think she’s not afraid to play against top players. She handled herself well against, you know, big names in Grand Slams. She’s definitely playing well. I’m looking forward to that match.”

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Serena Williams Advances, Petra Kvitova Upset at US Open

 

(August 30, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Saturday at the US Open saw two-time defending champion Serena Williams move into the fourth round, while reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was upset.

Serena Williams beat countrywoman, No. 52, lefty Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium during day session, the third American in a row she has played at the US Open.

Lepchenko, who is sometimes, Williams’ practice partner, has given Williams her biggest challenge during the tournament, along with some swirling winds on center court.

“I think when someone is a lefty, they just open the court more,” said the top player. You’re expecting one serve. You kind of almost give up one side. You just say, You can ace me on this side, but I’m going to expect that side.”

“I love practicing with her. We always practice together in tournaments. Whenever I can, I love hitting with her. I think it helps her game and she helps my game.”

The victory extends her streak at Flushing Meadows to 17. She’ll face Kaia Kanepi, who beat 15th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, in the round of 16.

 

No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova had no answers for qualifier Aleksandra Krunic, a 21-year-old from Serbia who is No. 145 in the world.

“I’m an outsider,” Krunic said in her news conference. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect from myself at all. You know, I don’t know my limits.”

“I tried not to think about the score, and I kept telling myself that, you know, leave it on her because everything is up to her still and she’s in charge,” the Serb continued. “I tried to put the pressure off my shoulders, you know, because usually last couple of years I’m the one who is putting the pressure on myself, you know. So I tried not to do it today. And also on the changeover, on the 6-5 in the second, I just told to myself, It’s still on her. You still have nothing to lose, even if you’d be 6-5, 5-Love up. Play as every other game you have played. Surprisingly I managed to do it pretty well with the two big serves. You know, I didn’t expect myself to be so calm, but I really focused my 100% not to think about anything that is happening, about the court.”

Kvitova was disappointed with her efforts on Saturday. “I wanted to win today, and unfortunately I didn’t. Yeah, I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them. For me it was very difficult just, you know, to play only on the winners. I did mistakes and I was really trying everything what I could in that moment. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. It wasn’t really my day. She played really great tennis today.”

The youngster Krunic will play Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round. Azarenka dismantled Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1. It’s Azarenka’s 100 victory at a major.

“I have seen just really briefly couple of points. But, you know, she obviously is playing great tennis and really inspired here, you know, winning so many matches in a row and upsetting such a great player. So it’s going to be tough. I think it’s always tricky when you don’t know your opponent, but I just want to focus on my game and try to get prepared as best as possible and, again, have fun.”

In the evening session, Wimbledon runner-up, No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard survived a close escaping the No. 30 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 to reach the US Open fourth round for the first time.

Bouchard will play No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova for a place the quarterfinals.

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Kristina Mladenovic Stuns Citi Open Top Seed Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 29, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – It’s still only the first round, but the Citi Open women’s draw is now without a defending champion or a No. 1 seed.

Top seed at the Washington, D.C. event, Lucie Safarova, has been eliminated in the first round by French world No. 78 Kristina Mladenovic.  This upset came off the back of a straightforward win by No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova over Magdalena Rybarikova, albeit not an upset other than the fact that the Rybarikova had never lost a match at the event, include her match against Makarova at last year’s Citi Open.

 

While Makarova’s was a straightforward 6-1, 6-1 win in under an hour, Mladenovic needed two hours, five minutes and three sets to topple world No.17. Broken twice in the first set, Mladenovic would turn the match around in the second set, breaking at 4-3 on a Safarova double fault, from which point, she held and continued to pour pressure on the Czech veteran, breaking her once at 2-2, and again at 5-3, when she converted a match point brought about by three consecutive errors from the Czech 27-year-old.

 

Kristina Mladenovic  photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Kristina Mladenovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

It will be a second-round battle of the young guns when 21-year-old Mladenovic faces 18-year-old American qualifier Taylor Townsend who won through her first-round battle in three sets against Julia Goerges. Makarova is now the top seed remaining in the WTA draw.

 

Dudi Sela

Dudi Sela

On the ATP side, Dudi Sela’s run of form since Wimbledon continued in a tight 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win against Australian Sam Groth, which lasted exactly two hours. Sela managed to get a read on Groth’s serve – one of the biggest in the game – in time to take control of a tight first-set tie break. Groth’s reaction to losing the first set – smashing a racquet to smithereens and receiving a code violation – would normally indicate a mental breakdown, but in fact Groth was spurred on to breaks in the first and last games of the second set, which he won 6-3.

 

By the decider, Sela had regained the confidence that has seen him go 8 wins to 3 losses since Wimbledon, and although Groth would recover one of them, Sela’s two breaks of serve allowed him to take the final set 6-4. “He has a very big serve,” said Sela of Groth, “But he’s serving-volleying so I have more target on the returns, so it was a little bit easier for me. He played some great games, some terrible games, and these terrible games that he played, I took my chance and broke him.”

 

It was a successful day for American men, with Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson getting through their first-round matches in straight sets.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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“Rusty” Serena Williams Opens Dubai with a Win; Ana Ivanovic Squeaks by Angelique Kerber

Serena fistpump yell

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI -Wild Card and top seed Serena Williams was forced to save set points in her 7-6 (8), 6-0 win over Ekaterina Makarova at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

This was Williams’ first match since she lost in the fourth round of Australian Open where she was dealing with a back injury which she has been recovering from ever since.

The world No. 1 admitted to being rusty.

“I felt a little rusty, but it was OK,” Williams said. “Body is fine. I just had to get my feet moving, but it was OK.”

Williams saved two set points against the 24th ranked Makarova in the first set tiebreak.

“Today was really difficult for me,” she continued. “I felt so rusty out there and a little frustrated – I’ve been practicing, but I was like, ‘Gosh, this isn’t what I practiced. But I was just really excited to get through that. I was really telling myself to stay positive, because I was making a lot of unforced errors that I don’t normally make, and my serve wasn’t popping the way it usually does.

“I’m happy for the win, but I’m going to have to play better if I want to do better here.”

Ivanovic in press 1

In an earlier match in the evening session Ana Ivanovic saved a match point and knocked out sixth seed Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

It was difficult match for Ivanovic to close. She could not take advantage of three break point against Kerber to end the match in the 12th game of the final set. Also Ivanovic built a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak but Kerber came back to have a match point of her own at 6-5. Ivanovic win the next three points to win the contest.

“I’m just so happy to be through,” said the Serbian.

 

 

Related stories:

Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Singles – Second Round
(1/WC) Serena Williams (USA) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 76(8) 60

Singles – First Round
(5) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (Q) Maryna Zanevska (UKR) 64 63
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (6) Angelique Kerber (GER) 36 63 76(6) (saved 1mp)
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (7) Simona Halep (ROU) 61 11 ret. (right ankle injury)
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 26 63 63
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) d. (Q) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 61 75
(Q) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 75 64
(Q) Annika Beck (GER) d. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 16 61 64

Doubles – First Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (RUS/RUS) 64 64
Hlavackova/Safarova (CZE/CZE) d. (4) Black/Mirza (ZIM/IND) 76(5) 57 119 (Match TB)
Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) d. Jankovic/Kleybanova (SRB/RUS) 76(4) 62

Order Of Play – Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Flavia Pennetta vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Ana Ivanovic vs. Venus Williams
3. Sorana Cirstea vs. Sara Errani (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Petra Kvitova vs. Carla Suárez Navarro

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Annika Beck
2. Lucie Safarova vs. Jelena Jankovic
3. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Alizé Cornet
4. Williams/Williams vs. Makarova/Vesnina

Court 3 (from 16.00hrs)
1. Peschke/Srebotnik vs. Pennetta/Stosur

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WTA Round-up; Pavlyuchenkova wins in Paris, Makarova in Pattaya City

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

(February 2, 2014 )Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rallied to beat Sara Errani of Italy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to claim the Open GDF Suez in Paris, her sixth career WTA title.

In a topsy turvy match, Errani came back from a1-3 first set deficit winning seven games on the trot to take a 6-3, 2-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova took the next seven games to even the match 3-6, 6-2, 1-0. The Russian broke the Italian in the eight game of the third set to take a 5-3 lead and served out the match.

Pavlyuchenkova’s title run saw her knock out three top 10 players in the same tournament for the first time in her WTA career – Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, Angelique Kerber of Germany in the quarterfinals and Errani in the final.

“When I lost seven games in a row I don’t really know what happened – maybe I was a little stressed because I was missing some shots and she was so solid,” said the champion. “Also, I was serving so well throughout the tournament and there were times today where I was struggling on serve. But I knew it was from my side, so if I just focused and kept fighting I could get it back.”

“I’m still very happy I could make the final,” said the losing finalist. “I had very good matches from the first round, from Knapp to Svitolina to Cornet, but I was a little bit more tired than normal in the match today because of yesterday. It was very tough to recover. But it was still a very good week for me.”

Ekaterina Makarova won her first title in in almost four years beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-6 (7) for the Pattaya Open crown on Sunday. The Russian ranked No. 28 won Eastbourne in 2010, her only other tournament victory.

“Today was a tough match,” said the Russian. “She was playing really good tennis and serving really well. I needed to be very focused on my return. I was a little bit nervous at the end, but I’m really happy to win my second title.”

Makarova was Pattaya City’s fourth Russian champion in the last six years.

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