Venus and Serena Williams Have Easy Wins to Open 2013 US Open

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

Serena Williams photo by Josh Meiseles

(August 26, 2013) Sisters Venus and Serena Williams had easy opening matches on day one of the US Open. Serena destroyed Francesca Schiavone 6-0, 6-1 in the night session while older sister Venus knocked off the 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2.

At one point in Serena’s match her opponent, a former French Open champion asked the ball boy to give her a hug as she was down 6-0, 2-0.

“A hug?, “ said Schiavone. “ No.  I don’t need a hug in that moment.  I need a game, points.  I don’t need the hug.

“No, no I went to the ballboys to say, Well, that’s tough.  No, it was just a joke.”

“She’s a great competitor,” Serena said.  “I think she played really well.  I think the scoreline had nothing to do with the match.  I mean, I just was able to win some key points.

“But I tell you, it wasn’t very easy out there.  We were both grunting and running and fighting.”

“It was very, very nice to win a game,” said Schiavone.  “For the first time in my life, I felt joy from winning a single game.”

The match ended in an hour just before the rains began and ended play for the evening, pushing Roger Federer’s match to Tuesday’s day session.

“I heard it was going to rain all day, Serena said.  “I didn’t know going into it.  I didn’t know the weather forecast.  I forget about it pretty much.”

The 33-year-old Williams resembled the Venus from the past before being struck with an auto-immune disorder in her victory over Flipkens.

Even though on paper the match is considered an upset, Flipkens said that no matter what the rankings say that when Venus is focused and fit she’s a top 10 player.

“I stay positive because I know I can play great tennis,” Venus said. “Sometimes you just have to go through more than what you want to go through.

When asked about the state of her game, Venus said:” I try not to think about the state.  I try to think about how I’m going to execute each point on the court.  There can be times you play amazing in practice or in the round before and not play well the next round.

“I try more than anything to get the best out of myself in that game and that point.  That’s kind of what I’m looking at, and of course trying to get better each round.  But, you know, that’s it.”


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


Radwanska Wins the Battle of Craftiness Against Schiavone at Stanford

Aga Radwanska slides to a ball

By Kevin Ware

(July 24, 2013) STANFORD, CA – In an entertaining match that lived up to its’ billing as a battle between two of the craftiest players on the WTA tour, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-3 in the featured night match at the Bank of the West Classic.

Schiavone came into the match with a slight 4-3 lead in their career head-to-head, but Radwanska was the one coming into the match with the momentum, having won their last three meetings. After Wednesday night’s straight-set win, make that four.

The conditions on the stadium court were perfect. As the match began, both players took their time in the first few rallies to find the range on their shots while also probing for any signs of weakness in their opponent. Radwanska struck pay dirt first: with excellent defense, solid net play, and aggressive hitting on her serve and forehand.

It was a different story on the other side of the net for Schiavone. Against Mallory Burdette, she’d managed to quickly find the depth on her strokes to keep her Burdette pinned back on the baseline. On this night against Radwanska, Schiavone struggled to keep the ball on the court.

With unforced errors flying from both wings of  Schiavone’s racquet, Radwanska jumped out to a 5-1 lead in a “battle” that was starting to look more like a rout. But with her back up against the wall (and with Radwanska serving for the set at 40-15), Schiavone finally found her range and began hitting with a vengeance. She fought back to break Radwanska’s serve in that game, and even secured a second break to bring the match back on serve at 4-5.

Unfortunately, Schiavone’s comeback ended with a double fault to hand the first set to Radwanska. To her credit, she continued to battle hard in the second set, but was unable to maintain the high level of play that had helped her mount a comeback in the first. The second set offered more of the same, but Radwanska was up to the task. In a welcome contrast to the first set, she successfully served out the second set to book her spot in Friday’s quarterfinals.

It didn’t go the distance as many had hoped, but this match featured some fine shot-making from both women: deft drop shots, beautiful lobs, and a reflex backhand crosscourt slice drop shot from Radwanska that was reminiscent of a similar reflex shot that she hit in Miami.

Aga presser

When asked about the shot afterward, even Radwanska admitted thinking to herself, “Oh my God, it’s in again!” Now that she’s gotten the first match under her belt and is more familiar with the conditions at Taube, Radwanska is going to be very tough to beat for the title.

In the earlier matches on the stadium court, Varvara Lepchenko defeated Tamira Paszek 6-4 6-4; and Sorana Cirstea defeated Coco Vandeweghe 6-3 6-3.

Lepchenko versus Paszek, the first featured match, was a battle of players who’ve both struggled to make their mark in 2013. This was Paszek’s third appearance in a second round match this season, and the lack of confidence in her ground game was apparent.

Lepchencko has had her own struggles as well, but still managed to close out the match on her fifth match point. Next up for Lepchenko is a quarterfinal date with Radwanska.

Vandeweghe, last year’s losing finalist to Serena Williams, never got her game going in her match against Sorana Cirstea. Vandeweghe ‘s game is based around her big serve and ground strokes. With 8 double faults and a 47% first serve percentage, she struggled to hold serve and was broken four times.

For her part, Cirstea played solid tennis for the win. This will be her second trip to the Bank of the West quarterfinals. Her opponent will be Olga Govortsova.

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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Al photographs by David Sweet

Stanford, CA, USA
July 22-28, 2013

Results – Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(1) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 64 63
(5) Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (Q) Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 63 63
(6) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. Tamira Paszek (AUT) 64 64

Doubles – First Round
(1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. McHale/Paszek (USA/AUT) 46 63 108 (Match TB)
(2) Goerges/Jurak (GER/CRO) d. Cibulkova/Niculescu (SVK/ROU) 46 64 108 (Match TB)
(3) Hantuchova/Raymond (SVK/USA) d. Burdette/Cirstea (USA/ROU) 26 63 108 (Match TB)
Govortsova/Kudryavtseva (BLR/RUS) d. Miyamura/Puchkova (JPN/RUS) 63 61

Order Of Play – Thursday, July 25, 2013
Stadium (from 12.00hrs)
1. Stefanie Voegele vs. Dominika Cibulkova
2. Jamie Hampton vs. Nicole Gibbs (NB 14.00hrs)
3. Urszula Radwanska vs. Daniela Hantuchova
4. Vera Dushevina vs. Madison Keys (NB 19.00hrs)
5. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Cako/Pluskota

Court 6 (NB 16.30hrs)
1. Grandin/Rosolska vs. Goerges/Jurak


Bank of the West Preview/Picks for Wednesday July 24, 2013

By Kevin Ware

Bank of the West Preview/Picks for Wednesday July 24, 2013

Tamira Paszek

Tamira Paszek

Tamira Paszek v Varvara Lepchenko [6]

Head-to-Head: Tied at 2-All

The most relevant matches in their head-to-head are the last two matches played on carpet (’11) and outdoor hard (’12). Paszek won the first in a 3-set match that lasted 3 hours. Lepchenko won the second in a 3-set match that last nearly 3 hours. If the pattern holds true, get set for another long one!

2013’s been a tough year for both players. Lepchenko has struggled to maintain the level she achieved in ’12, while Paszek struggled to even get past the first round at any tournament through most of ’13. The lack of confidence might show in the quality of shot-making, but their prior history should provide for a fairly competitive match. I’ll stick my neck out on this one for Lepchenko in three sets.

Coco Vandeweghe

Coco Vandeweghe

Sorana Cirstea v [Q] Coco Vandeweghe

Head-to-Head: Tied at 1-All

Vandeweghe won the first time they played in ’11 in a 3-set match lasting almost 2.5 hours. Their next meeting at this year’s Australian Open was pretty much a whitewash for Cirstea in straight sets. Given the status of both in their respective seasons, it’s unclear whether this match will look like either of those previous two.

Cirstea ‘s had a tough year, making it past the R16 at only one hard court tournament. Though she always has potential to be dangerous, her 19-17 record coming into Stanford can’t provide her with an excess of confidence.

Vandeweghe’s status as a qualifier pretty much says it all, since she’s spent much of the season qualifying for main draws in WTA events. But even though she’s a qualifier, she’s also one of last year’s finalists: which probably helped immensely in coming through the qualifying rounds. She’s on comfortable ground, and on a roll in terms of match wins.

I’ll give the edge to Vandeweghe in this one. If her shots are landing cleanly, it goes two sets. If she’s making a ton of unforced errors, it goes three.

Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone

Agnieszka Radwanska [1] v Francesca Schiavone (Featured Match)

Head-to-Head: Schiavone leads 4-3

This match, which could easily be titled “I Can Be Craftier than You”, features two of the best thinkers/strategists on the pro tour, and has the potential to be one of the most entertaining of the week.

Radwanska doesn’t have the power of Serena or Maria, but reads the ball well and defends with the best of them. She has an uncanny ability to use her opponent’s power to her own advantage, which helped her to overcome Maria in the ’12 Sony Open final, and take Serena to three sets in the ’12 Wimbledon final.

I’m not sure that skill will help Radwanska against Schiavone, a player who specializes in spin over power. She can hit with an extreme amount of spin from both her forehand and single-handed backhand wings. And her slice is one of the most formidable on tour. It’s no surprise that Schiavone’s biggest title came on clay at the ’10 French Open.

Schiavone needs a fair amount of racquet prep for her shots, especially her forehand.  This can get her into trouble on faster hard courts with the big hitters.  Radwanska’s shots don’t have the same pace, so Schiavone’s 4-1 record on hard courts show’s that she’s not nearly as troubled by Radwanska’s game on this surface.

The problem for Schiavone in this match-up is that she’s on the backside of her career, while Radwanska is on the upside of hers.  Radwanska’s game has improved, and dramatically so since ’10. Schiavone’s game has plateaued and declined since her peak moments in Paris. It’s no coincidence that Radwanska has won their last three matches: one each on hard court, clay, and grass.

Though it’s been two years since they last played, I don’t see Schiavone overcoming this new and improved Radwanska; and I’m not talking about the blonde hair. Radwanska has pushed herself to be more aggressive to win points outright instead of waiting for errors. Schiavone will throw the kitchen sink at her, but it won’t be enough to stop Radwanska from winning in two sets.

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/.

Stanford, CA, USA
July 22-28, 2013

Results – Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Singles – Second Round

Olga Govortsova (BLR) d. (2) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 62 64

Singles – First Round
(6) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. (Q) Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR) 62 64
(7) Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. Christina McHale (USA) 61 63
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 62 46 60
Tamira Paszek (AUT) d. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 61 67(4) 30 ret. (heat illness)
(Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 62 61
(Q) Coco Vandeweghe (USA) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 60 63

Doubles – First Round
(4) Chan/Dushevina (TPE/RUS) d. Dabrowski/Fichman (CAN/CAN) 64 60
Grandin/Rosolska (RSA/POL) d. Lepchenko/Tomljanovic (USA/CRO) 46 75 106 (Match TB)
Muhammed/Will (USA/USA) d. (WC) Gibbs/Vandeweghe (USA/USA) 75 63
Cako/Pluskota (USA/USA) d. Llagostera Vives/Schiavone (ESP/ITA) w/o (Schiavone: viral illness)

Order Of Play – Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Stadium (from 11.00hrs)
1. Cibulkova/Niculescu vs. Goerges/Jurak
2. Tamira Paszek vs. Varvara Lepchenko (NB 12.00hrs)
3. Sorana Cirstea vs. Coco Vandeweghe
4. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. McHale/Paszek
5. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Francesca Schiavone (NB 19.00hrs)
6. Hantuchova/Raymond vs. Burdette/Cirstea

Court 6 (from 13.00hrs)
1. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva vs. Miyamura/Puchkova

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Easy Does It For Azarenka – Reaches Third French Quarterfinal

Victoria Azarenka Miami Players Party

By Ros Satar

(June 3, 2013) PARIS – It started as a baseline battle for the former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and ended up as easy as a walk along the Champs Élysées, as the third seed reeled off 7 games in a row to win 6-3, 6-0 over Francesca Schiavone.

Conditions were cloudy and breezy on court today with Azarenka opting to stay warm with leggings on throughout the match.

Things started promisingly for the Belarusian with an early break in the third game, but that was then the start of a bit of a break-fest.

The women traded 5 successive breaks in a row, before Azarenka managed a hold, and it was to be the start of her run of games to the end.

Schiavone at times seemed to be struggling with her serve, stuttering her feet as if to try and catch up with a wandering ball toss.

It was a costly shuffle, with a couple of foot-faults which hardly helped her cause today.

At her post match conference, Schiavone acknowledged that a good serve was very important today, but that it had not been the contributing factor.

“She [Azarenka] has an intensity & high level for an hour and a half, and I had [it] for [a] shorter time.

“I have to be used to keep going that way, and I think that was the key.”

Azarenka gave credit to her opponent, despite such a dominating win.

She said: “It was definitely a very good challenge for me to play against Francesca, especially knowing how well she’s done here in the past.

“I’m glad with the way I played today.

“I just always try to take it one at a time, and I know the next match will have nothing to do with what happened today.”

She felt that she was finally learning what she needed to do to improve on the surface.

“I understand that it’s not about the game that you really have to adjust.  It’s about your movement.

“You have to not only think of how you move left to right but how you come [with] small steps to the ball.

Azarenka reaches her third quarter-final, having reached it twice before in 2009 and 2011.

Azarenka has never progressed further than the QF in 7 years.

She concluded: “I’m excited, you know, definitely that all the preparation I have been doing is doing well.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to take that step.”

Azarenka will face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4, and knows it will be a tough match to come through.

“She’s definitely improved a lot over the last couple years since she’s very motivated player.”

Azarenka leads their head–to-head 3-2, and the pair have never met on clay.


Sharapova, Azarenka Advance to Roland Garros Fourth Round

Maria Sharapova

(June 1, 2013) After and easy first set defending champion Maria Sharapova had to fight to close out the match in two sets 6-1, 7-5 over Zheng Jie on Saturday at Roland Garros.

For the No. 2 seed it was the third straight day on the court due to her rain-delayed second round match was pushed into Friday.

After an easy 6-1 first set, Zheng jumped out to a two break lead 4-1. The Russian came back to even the set at 4-4 and then dropped serve for 4-5. Zheng lost serve while attempting to even the match at 1 set all and Sharapova moved thought the next two games to close the match.

Sharapova, who hit 8 double-faults during the match, disputed a double-fault call. “It hit the outside line,” she told the chair umpire. The umpire did not change the call which proved to be incorrect.

“Well, first of all, it’s not even about the fact of the call, whether it was in and out ‑‑ or out,” said Sharapova.  “I think for me it was the fact that the umpire did not recognize that the mark he pointed out was about a foot away from the actual mark.  So that’s a huge question mark, to begin with.

“Second of all, yes, all the other Grand Slams have Hawk‑Eye.  And I know these types of situations, although much more rarely on the clay, happen.  Why not?  Why don’t we have a system like this?  I mean, is it a money concern?  I don’t think so.

“This is just absolute proof that, you know, it’s a big point and it can happen in any situation.”

Sharapova is into the round of 16 where she’ll play American Sloane Stephens.

“I’m happy with the way I fought back and I found a way to win,” said Sharapova.

No. 3 Victoria Azarenka hit 10 double-faults and had her serve broken six times in her three set win over Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-3, 6-1..

“I think I left it home today,” Azarenka said of her serve. “If I can win with serving like this, that’s pretty remarkable.”

“It was a tough match,” Azarekna continued.  “I don’t think I played really the right way or, you know, I was playing my best way, taking my chances in the first set.  And she definitely took advantage of that and really took chances on the important moments, which I didn’t.

“You know, I felt like I had to close a lot of my opportunities in the first set, and it didn’t go my way.

“But it was important to turn things around and finally start playing the right way in the second set, because I felt that I was playing very comfortable for her, and she started to, you know, make a lot of winners, you know, fight and make a lot of balls.

“So I changed that a little bit in the second set and really took my chances moving forward and continued to stay aggressive, and that’s what was bringing me after the points and the victory in the end.”

Azarenka will get former French Open titlist Francesca Schiavone in the next round.

Francesca Schiavone dominated 13th seed Marion Bartoli 6-2, 6-1 to reach the fourth round of the French Open on Saturday.

It was a total obliteration by the 2010 Roland Garros winner. The Italian broke the top Frenchwoman’s serve five times, with 31 winners overall.

“On clay she’s always very dangerous and she won a clay court tournament again this year and this is a surface that suits her,” said Bartoli.

“When she starts winning matches and becomes more confident, then she can be very dangerous. So maybe she can sort out Azarenka and then if she arrives in the quarter-finals, who knows what can happen?”


Kvitova Outmuscles Schiavone, Defending Champion Azarenka Progresses

Petra Kvitova

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 15, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Eighth seed Petra Kvitova outmuscled 2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone in a tough three set match on Margaret Court Arena in day two action at Australian Open 2013.


The mental strength of the 2011 Wimbledon champion showed as she overcame a flurry of unforced errors and a second set thumping to regain control in the third set and seal the match 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in just over two hours.


Kvitova hit 42 unforced errors to Schiavone’s 23 and after the match said she was struggling to breath during much of the match.


“I have asthma so I had a little bit of trouble on court with my breathing on court but what’s important is that I came back.”


Schiavone saved a break point in the opening service game of the match to hold and lead 1-0. Kvitova didn’t need many more games to have another opportunity to break, taking her next opportunity in the fifth game to gain the advantage in the match 3-2. She broke Schiavone again in the seventh game to go up 5-2 and have the opportunity to serve out the set.


Schiavone fired up and broke Kvitova while she attempted to serve out the set. She then held to love to trail Kvitova 4-5.


Kvitova capitalized on her next chance to serve out the set, moving Schiavone out of the court and coming into the net to volley a forehand cross court to seal the first set 6-4.


In a second set reversal it was Kvitova that came under pressure early, saving a break point in her opening service game before the fighting spirit of Schiavone sealed a break point in the fourth game. Schiavone broke Kvitova another two times to level the match at one set a piece 4-6, 6-2.


The Italian struggled in her opening service game of the deciding set as Kvitova upped her intensity and determination to claim a break with a Schiavone double fault. She then held serve to go ahead 2-0 with a fist pump. Kvitova breaks again before the women swap breaks in the next three games before Kvitova manages to hold for 5-1. Schiavone holds her next service game and forces kvitova to serve for the match. She fires down a strong first serve on match point to seal the win 6-4, 2-6 6-2.


Kvitova increased her head-to-head lead over Schiavone to 4-1 on Tuesday. She says it is always difficult to play against the Italian.


“We played three times last year and it was always great tennis and a tough match and the last time we played was in Wimbledon and it was three sets so I expected the same, a big fight today and I was the lucky one in the end.”


On her slow start to the season where she lost in the second round in Brisbane and the first round in Sydney Kvitova says “It is always hard when you lose two times in a row and it is the beginning of the year but I had a great off season so I hope that the results will come.”


Elsewhere in Day two action at Melbourne Park world number one Victoria Azarenka defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-1, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena. The defending champion breezed through the first set dropping only one game before going down 0-3 at the beginning of the second set. She went on to break back and the set remained on serve until Azarenka was able to break in the eighth game and serve out the match. She next plays the winner of Eleni Danilidou and Karolina Pliskova.


Serena Williams played through a right ankle scare to completely dominate her opponent Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0, 6-0 and progress through to the second round.


Two time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova won through to the second round confidently defeating Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-2, 6-1 on show court three and will face Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei in the second round.


Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki came back from a terrible first set defeat to overcome German Sabine Lisicki 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 on the first match on Hisense arena. Wozniacki will play Croat Donna Vekic in the second round on Thursday.


Hobart International winner Elena Vesnina had a tough opening round win over Caroline Garcia, losing the first set before recovering to win in three 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. Vesnina plays 21st seed Varvara Lepchenko in the second round who today defeated Polona Hercog in straight sets 6-4, 6-1.


For updated scores, draws and results visit AustralianOpen.com

Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.


Kvitova rallies to stop Schiavone to make Wimbledon Quarterfinals

WIMBLEDON – Defending Champion Czech Petra Kvitova overcame her own errors to come back from a set and a break down to take out Francesca Schiavone 4-6, 7-5, 6-1  in a battle of major champions on Monday to advance to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

The windy conditions on Court No.3 proved problematic for both players. Kvitova could not take advantage of 10 break points in the opening set. Schiavone made 16 unforced errors in the set despite winning it.

Kvitova finally broke the Italian’s serve in the second set to even the set at 2-2 on a Schiavone double fault.

Kvitova discessed the first two sets of the match, “From the beginning of the match I didn’t had a lot of break ball and I didn’t have a very nice feelings.  I mean, really it was not funny for me in that moment.  I feel so bad.  That’s why probably I played so bad.

“And then in the second set, in the beginning of the second set was still similar than before, but when I make the break finally after one hour or however long we played, it was better for me.  I knew I can play against her and I can break her.”

Kvitova reigned in her errors and dominated the match in the third set running up a 5-0 lead over the Italian.

Every match is different, set Kvitova.  “The last matches I played so well and so quick, and today it’s about the fight.  I’m so happy that I showed that.  It’s important.

“Tomorrow is different day, so I hope they will be better tomorrow.”

Kvitova will next challenge Serena Williams for a place in the semifinals.

“I think it will be huge match for both of us, Kvitova said, “and I’m looking forward to play against her.  Looking forward to have a challenge.  I mean, she played well.  She has a great champion.  She won many times here.

“We will see.  I will try my best and we will see.”


Nadal, Sharapova, Ferrer Advance Easily, Wozniacki, Schiavone Upset at French Open

Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, David Ferrer easily advanced at the French Open on Saturday. Seeded casualties on the day included (9)Caroline Wozniacki (14) Francesca Schiavone, (22) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and (25) Julia Goerges.

No. 2 Rafael Nadal sailed past Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

“I played a solid match, but say it’s my best or not, was similar to the second against Istomin.  And today I think  I mean, Istomin I played a very high level the third set.  Today the third set I stopped a little bit, you know.  I didn’t play as good as I did in the previous two.

“I probably stopped a little bit my legs, and I had the break, and after the break I was solid with my serve.

“But in general is important victory for me.  Straight sets, good feelings.  That’s most important thing, and I happy.”

Sharapova continued her domination of the field with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Shuai Peng. “Yeah, I came into today,” Sharapova said, “knowing that I’m facing a pretty tough opponent who I have had trouble against in the past, who has beaten me before.  And played three sets with her a couple of times.”

“So she can really play, and, you know, she hits the ball really well.  You know, but I tried to get her on the run today and really move her, you know, stay aggressive.  I served well and returned well, and I thought that was really important, especially against her.”

Andy Murray showed no signs of the back injury that has bothered him for the last few weeks when he took out Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

“I felt like I moved pretty well today,” Murray said.  “I mean, when you’re playing in slams, I just think each day you need to take as it comes.  And I felt, you know, much better than I did the other day.  I felt better than I did yesterday.”

David Ferrer destroyed Mikhail Youznhy so completely 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 that the Russian wrote the word “sorri” in the clay with his foot.

“There was a lot of people. That’s why I write `sorry.’ Because I can’t show them a nice game,” said an apologetic Youzhny. “The way we played in the beginning, it was not really interesting for people.”

“People in the stands may not have noticed, but I think I had to do this.”


Defending Roland Garros Champion Li Na needed three sets to oust American Christine McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

“Yeah, I think I started off playing pretty well,” Mchale said..  “Yeah, I think her experience in the end helped and she started playing better as the match went on.

“So, yeah, I’ll just have to use this match and learn from it.  Playing players like her in these rounds at tournaments is still new for me.

“So, yeah, I’m just going to take the positives from it and keep going.”

“She’s a very dangerous player,” said Li Na. “I mean, I was happy I can win match today, because I have more experience.”

2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone fell to American Varvara Lepchenko 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. The win puts Lepchenko into the fourth round. She along with Sloane Steephens means that two unseeded US women are in the fourth round of a major for the first time since Wimbledon in 2002.

“I was fighting all the way to the end, I was trying to stay with Francesca the whole time,” Lepchenko told media.

“She played amazing and it is her court and I knew that she was not going to give it away for free.”

Former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki could not complete a comeback against Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3. Kanepi served for the match five times over the last two sets before closing the contest.


WTA All-Access at the Western and Southern Open

Vera Zvonarena at Carlsbad WTA All-Access

By Brad Hunter

MASON, Ohio – Monday the media was treated to two hours of question and answer sessions with the top eight women’s seeds at the Western & Southern Open as part of WTA All-Access Hour.

Marion Bartoli appears to be a great health, looks fit and trim and has a nice summer tan.  She was dressed in a sporty, casual top and sweats.   Bartoli was open and relaxed and smiled easily which impressed me for a couple of reasons: she was sitting at a table and was surrounded by 10-12 members of the media staring at her, and she was fairly shy and introverted not that long ago.  When complimented by a reporter on her English,  Bartoli made a joke about how she listened and studied English from when she was young, and that perhaps some of the other French players who didn’t speak English well just didn’t listen to English that much (as much as her).

Victoria Azarenka showed up towards the end of Bartoli’s interview, and she slipped in quietly, sat down at another table and started signing autograph postcards.  Just before she walked over to the table to speak with the media, she applied her super shiny lip gloss.  Azarenka’s hair was swept to one side, around the front of one shoulder.  She was dressed like she might be going shopping on Melrose after, with a graphic tee, bright tennis shoes, and casual ¾ length pants.  The first questions were about her injury, which she answered carefully and like all the gals, she was relaxed thru all questions. Listen to Victoria Azarenka.

Caroline Wozniacki also entered silently and went straight to the autograph signing table after which, when she was done, she went and sat at a different table.   She was smiley and completely relaxed during the interview and even handled the potentially embarrassing Rory McIlroy questions without giving away too much info but maintaining her composure.  She answered several questions about her game and the growth that her game needs in order to win a Grand Slam, and she didn’t appear overly defensive about the topic.  She defended herself and her game but acknowledged that she would continue working.  She was dressed in her sporty casuals: a t-shirt type top, maybe a sweatshirt, and ¾ length sweatpants.  This outfit was worn by every woman except Azarenka.  Listen to Caroline Wozniaki


One expects Petra Kvitova to be shy, especially after seeing her being interviewed by Martina Navratilova this year during Wimbledon.  She was a bit reserved but she seemed much more at ease in this round table interview setting.   She laughed several times, and tried earnestly to answer every question– at times her honesty made the media folks crack up as well.  She says winning Wimbledon didn’t change her as a person.  Listen  to Petra Kvitova


Li Na slipped in right after, and was fun and hilarious and sweet from the first question on.   She spoke easily and quickly joked about her new found wealth, her spike in popularity, growth of tennis in Asia, and her husband.  I also noticed her tan lines where she wears her wrist bands. She answered every question thoughtfully, and seemed to get the most questions of all the players- so much that at some point Schiavone came into the room and started answering questions at another table in a different part of the room.  About half of the interviewers exited quickly, but Li Na was not the least bit distracted and stayed focused until the last question asked of her. Listen to Li Na


Francesca Schiavone is fun and seems to love tennis, and people, and honesty, and passion, and everything: she’s mischievous in the “fun, slightly wild friend” sort of way and she maintains a languid look in her eyes when she speaks.  If I were going all night dancing in Milan, then Schiavone seems like the gal who’d (a) be up for it and (b) know exactly which places to go and who to see and what to do.  She is that 2010 Roland Garros final personified.  She joked about not really being very old, made comments about the roles of men and women and challenges for women, and gave her honest appraisal of Americanized Italian food and good places to visit in Italy. Listen to Francesca Schiavone


Maria Sharapova peeked her head in towards the end of Schiavone’s interview, waited a bit outside and then came into the room and sat in the same seat Schiavone had been sitting in.  She made a quick joke about everyone’s devices being charged.   She told some interesting anecdotes about wanting to be a rhythmic gymnast, and smoothly answered similar questions that all the gals answered about Wozniacki being No. 1 and “was it deserved?” (Yes, she deserves it), and “are you surprised Serena (Williams) is back so strongly, so quickly?”  (Not surprised, Serena is a great champion).  Sharapova speaks in well modulated manner, and being up close with her in this session revealed that she is also goofy and critical of herself. Listen to Maria Sharapova

Vera Zvonareva was the last interview.  Zvonareva is a deep thinker: she processes her motivations and emotions, assesses situations in a balanced way, and puts her energy into answering every question with thoughtfulness.  She was asked about her thoughts on the combined event and the benefits of this tournament, her favorite doubles partners, and did Wozniacki deserve the No. 1 ranking (Zvonareva says yes, she deserves it). She was the most serious/intense woman who came into the interview room and she smiled when asked about Elena Dementieva’s wedding. Listen to Vera Zvonareva

Brad Hunter is covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News this weekend. Follow his reports here and live on our twitter account @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter account @BradHunter.


Li Defeats Sharapova, Schiavone Over Bartoli To Advance to French Open Final

Li Na of China (L) shakes hands with Maria Sharapova of Russia after winning their semi-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 2, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)














China’s Li Na has advanced to her second consecutive major tournament final with a 6-4, 7-5 victory in the first semifinal over Russian Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros on Thursday.

“Always tough against with Maria, said Li. “She (is) always fighting every point.  So even I have match point, I don’t know I can win the match or not, because she never give up.  Always tough.”

Li on advancing to her first French Open final, “another good experience for my whole career.  I think prove a little bit for China tennis, because, I mean, I’m sure they showed the match same time in China, so many  maybe children, they saw the match, and they think that maybe one day they can do the same or even better.”

“Of course Melbourne was more exciting because it’s first time to the final.  Here was because I have one time in the final already, so this time not so exciting.”

“First time to the final….so I just need one more step and then my dream is come true.” For Maria Sharapova she came within two matches of collecting a career slam, but was still pleased with her result: “ it’s been a good season on clay.  I had a great tournament in Rome, and I got to the semifinals here after not being in this stage of a Grand Slam for a long time.

“I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved here, but I still feel like I have a lot of work to do.”

“I don’t have any doubt in the fact that I’ll be going out and working on some things and trying to improve, as always.

“Obviously it’s disappointing.  As an athlete you want to win.  There’s no doubt.  But, you know, good retail therapy and I’ll be fine.” (Smiling)

Sharapova commented on the match: “she certainly played a lot better than I did and a lot more solid, and, you know, she played the crucial points better.

“I had some chances in the first set on her serve, a couple of games that went deuce and had a couple of break points.  I felt like I had a short ball and just didn’t step in and then just made an unforced error.

“Then you kind of give your opponent confidence, and then, yeah, just and then at times I didn’t serve well, and, you know, was rushing more than maybe I had to, and maybe went for considering the conditions maybe I was just trying to go for, you know, too big of second serves, especially,” lamented Shrapova.

So why has Li been so successful on the court at the age of  29?  “Age just paper.  It’s just plus one.  Doesn’t mean anything for the age,” stated Li. Li said jokingly, “I know maybe for the Asia player they growing up for a little bit late for European player, but I’m think 29 is too late, too old.  I’m still feel I am young, so…”

As for the effect of her Roland Garros efforts in her homeland: “ I don’t know how much I can prove for China tennis, but I know if someone doing the final, if the children, they saw, oh, it’s not so bad; maybe some day they can doing better.”

“So they have the goal what they have to do.  So I don’t know how much I can prove, but I wish like tennis in China get bigger and bigger.”

Francesca Schiavone of Italy returns the ball to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during their quarter-final match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)












Francesca Schiavone credits “inspiration” to her continued success at Roland Garros. Last years’s champion topped France’s Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3 to move on to the final on Saturday.

“When I was young I always dreamed this tournament,” said Schiavone “so maybe is coming from a long, long time ago. When I come here, I feel something special.”

“I think is great court.  There is no bounce different.  Of course is French Open, so is good for me.  I don’t know what to say.  Is good for me for spin, for different kind of balls.  I like to play high and then stop short. Everything mix.  I love it.”

Schiavone is looking forward to the final, “ I think Saturday I will go on the court enjoying, breathing, say thanks for everything, because for me to arrive in final is fantastic, is big emotions.

“And then play tennis.  Sometimes we forget to play tennis, and we go inside us and we break everything and we are upset.  But is just tennis.

“It’s fantastic.  And I have the chance to play good, because I play against a really tough opponent.  I think she’s playing one of the best tennis in her career from Australia.  She’s pushing strong physically, mentally.

“So I have to play I think 80%, 90%, 100% to win.”

Bartoli reflected on the loss: “Francesca played extremely well today with the conditions.  It was extremely windy, and I think she used those conditions extremely well.

“I really tried to hit the ball early as much as I could, but in spite of that, I really needed to adjust a lot to these balls.  I couldn’t stay in the middle of the court.  I had to move a lot, and physically it became difficult because I had to make much more effort than in my former matches.

“On my serve, when I was serving against the wind, I was able to be up in the score.  But when she was serving with the wind behind her, she had an advantage.

“So as I said, if I had been able to win that game and be 4‑All I think it would be different.  I think she played extremely well, and I believe her game is less affected by the wind than mine.”

Bartoli tips Schiavone to take the title again on Saturday, “Francesca feels really good here.  She’s very comfortable on that type of clay.  That clay really makes her spin very disturbing, so her game can really bother Li Na.

“And also, Francesca won here once, where Na Li didn’t win here yet, and she has less experience.  So that might give an advantage to Francesca.  I’m sure the match will be tight, but I think maybe Francesca is a favorite.”

Saturday’s final will pit 29 year-old Li versus 30 year-old Schiavone, to Schiavone age is not a number, “the years can help a lot.  The experience maybe are changing a little bit the age, because some years ago the champion were always young players:  Martina Hingis, the Williamses.  Now are changing.

“Like I said some days ago, is like the wine.  Stay in the bottle more is much, much better.  So is good to be there.  Li Na is, I just say before that she has a great performance with Sharapova today, and some days ago against Azarenka.  So I have to play really good and be strong here and physically.

“We are not similar like playing, but we are strong person, strong personality.  I play kicker, slice, and topspin.  She play much more with power.

“But the key can be the consistent and maybe attack or play deep.  Many small things can make the difference.”