Hantuchova, Radwanska, Voskoboeva, Goncalves win Fed Cup Heart Awards


(April 16, 2013) The ITF has announced the first four winners of the 2013 Fed Cup Heart Award. Slovak Republic’s Daniela Hantuchova claims her second career Heart Award for her performance in the World Group and World Group II first round category, while the Zone Group I winners are Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva and Brazil’s Paula Cristina Goncalves. The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas ties took place in February.


The four Heart Award recipients were decided by a public vote on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es that saw over 23,000 fans make their selection. Ten players were initially shortlisted by a judging panel consisting of ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and a group of former Fed Cup players and members of the international media. All the winners receive a cheque to be donated to their chosen charity.


Hantuchova, Radwanska and Voskoboeva will all receive their awards during this weekend’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semifinals, World Group play-offs and World Group II play-offs taking place on 20-21 April.


ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “There were some outstanding performances during the Fed Cup ties in February, so I would like to congratulate all four players for coming out on top of the public vote. The Fed Cup Heart Award continues to reward players for the commitment they make to their team and the competition as a whole. I am sure that all the winners will take great pride in making their donations to charity.”


The Fed Cup Heart Award is an ITF initiative that was first presented to USA’s Melanie Oudin at the 2009 Fed Cup Final. It aims to recognize players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team. A total of five players will be recognized in 2013.


Daniela Hantuchova was largely responsible for clinching Slovak Republic’s World Group first round victory over Serbia after her compatriot Dominika Cibulkova was forced to retire midway through her match on the opening day. The Slovak No. 2 used all of her experience to help her team reach the World Group semifinals for the first time since 2002 by defeating Bojana Jovanovski 75 62 and Vesna Dolonc 63 62.


Agnieszka Radwanska carried her team out of Europe/Africa Zone Group I and into the World Group II play-offs after winning all six of her rubbers in Eilat, including two decisive doubles matches against Israel and Croatia. The world No. 4 managed to deal with the weight of expectation and showed that Poland will be difficult to defeat this weekend.


Galina Voskoboeva left little doubt as to her commitment to Kazakhstan after her performances in the doubles helped the host nation win Asia/Oceania Zone Group I and earn a place in the World Group play-offs for the first time. The 28-year old also became Kazakhstan’s best Fed Cup player ever, after her three victories increased her total win-loss record in the competition to 18-6.


Paula Cristina Goncalves won all five rubbers she played for Brazil as her team narrowly failed to qualify from Americas Zone Group I. Her four singles wins included a comeback victory from a set down against Sharon Fichman in the promotion play-off against Canada, and she also teamed with Teliana Pereira to win the only doubles rubber she contested.


Venus Williams Powers into Australian Open Second Round, Seeds Advance

Venus Williams Tennis Panroama 4102010

By Jaclyn Stacey


(January 14, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Venus Williams kicked off her Australian Open 2013 campaign in emphatic fashion, disposing of Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0 in one hour on Hisense Arena at Melbourne Park on Monday.


This is the comeback Australian Open for Williams after being sidelined from the 2012 event while dealing with the diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome. She finished 2012 ranked no. 24 after starting the year outside of the top 100.


Voskoboeva won the opening service game of the match, sending down an ace on game point to lead the encounter 1-0. It would go on to be the only game she would win in a match that saw Williams completely dominate her opponent with her aggressive style of play.


Williams took advantage of a break point opportunity in the third game of the first set by coming into the net and producing a tight forehand volley which Voskoboeva could not reach.


Williams then won the next two games before experiencing some resistance while serving at 4-1 with Voskoboeva producing two confident forehand winners to force the game to go to deuce. She produced two opportunities to break but Williams saved both by utilizing her trademark powerful serve. She then sealed the game with an ace to lead 5-1.


Voskoboeva appeared to struggle with serving in the midday sun as Williams confidently broke Voskoboeva in the next game, sending a return forehand winner down the line to claim the first set 6-1.


With her opponent clearly frustrated and with younger sister Serena supporting from the sidelines, Williams had little trouble in the second set, steamrolling to a 6-1 6-0 victory.


“I mean, the stats looked good for me.  I haven’t seen them all yet, but I got a high first-serve percentage and more winners than errors, so that always makes a good match. I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of — you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure. I did my best to just close it out.”


When asked to judge her performance today, Williams said “just continue to have depth on the balls. For me, I’m a net player; I like to get to the net. But the courts are a lot slower, so you have to be selective on how you get to the net, especially.  You know, the stronger players you play with, the more experience. And continuing to serve well always makes the match easier. So those are some of the big-picture things.”


Williams will play the winner of the match between France’s Alize Cornet and Marina Erakovic in the second round on Wednesday.


In other day one women’s action, second seed Maria Sharapova denied her opponent a single game, bageling both sets to win 6-0, 6-0 against countrywoman Olga Puchkova and will play Misaki Doi in the second round before a potential third round clash with Venus Williams.


Australia’s main female hope Samantha Stosur battled her way to a two set victory against Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei in one hour and 42 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. With a 0-1 record against Chang and an opening round loss at Australian Open 2012, Stosur had a lot to prove in front of the home crowd. The first set ended in a tie-breaker after a tight first set in which the two swapped breaks on several occasions. Stosur prevailed in the tie break and claimed the first set 7-6(7-3). She closed out the match with a much easier second set 7-6(7-3) 6-3. She will next play the winner of the all Chinese match between Yuxuan Zhang and Jie Zheng.


2011 runner-up Li Na had a convincing win over Sesil Karantantcheva 6-1 6-3 in the first match on Margaret Court Arena today. She will play Olivia Govortsova on Wednesday and will go into the match with a 2-0 winning record over her opponent.


Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Australian open 2013 Wildcard play-off winner 7-5 6-0 and will play the winner of Arantxa Rus and Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.


For updated women’s singles results, please 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.


Radwanska Stops Petkovic Again, Azarenka Ends Voskoboeva’s Run


By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO, Canada – The best of the Friday day session was saved for last at the Rogers Cup, as Agnieszka Radwanska took on Andrea Petkovic in a rematch of the Mercury Insurance Open semifinal from last week. Radwanska had already defeated Vera Zvonareva in the previous round of the Rogers Cup, the same player she defeated in the final of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad.

Both players were very much in form, and relying on their typical styles in order to take points. Radwanska employed her inventive, adaptive style of play included with excellent movement and defense. Petkovic played her hard hitting baseline style. In the end, the points and rhythm of the match was much closer than the scoreboard showed at the end, a 6-4, 6-3 victory for Radwanska.

“I really enjoy playing her, because I always think it’s a good match to watch for the audience,” said Petkovic. “Agnieszka it’s always long rallies. You have to really build up the point.” Indeed, many long rallies left the audience thrilled, as the angles would continue to get steeper and wider, and both played excellent running defense. “I think I played a little bit too much, you know, like flat to her. Maybe I should have used the angles more. I just felt like I needed to overpower her, which was the wrong approach,” reflected Petkovic.

For Radwanska, it’s a continued stretch of excellent play after her championship run in Carlsbad last week. “I’m very happy with my game, with my performance,” said Radwanska. “I had a lot of good matches against top players. I have the confidence and a lot of experience against top players.”

Also winning was the fourth seeded Victoria Azarenka, defeating Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-2. Voskoboeva, who needed to qualify to get into the main draw of the tournament, defeated Maria Sharapova in the third round of the tournament. This being her sixth match of the tournament, she looked out of energy and out of answers for Azarenka’s consistent and powerful game.

Azarenka has only lost 6 games in as many sets in her first three matches, and insists she is not thinking about being the highest ranked player left standing. “I’m just here to play the tournament, not looking at the rankings or anything else, just trying to stay focused on every game.” This is the third time in four attempts that Azarenka has made it to the semifinals in Canada. She has never advanced to the final.

Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. He’s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.