June 28, 2017

Donna Vekic Beats No. 8 Johanna Konta for Nottigham Title

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 18: Donna Vekic of Croatia lifts the trophy after victory in her Women’s Singles Final match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain during day 7 of the Aegon Open Nottingham at the Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 18, 2017 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA)

(June 18, 2017) World No. 70 Donna Vekic of Croatia came from a set down to beat No. 8 Johanna Konta 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 in the Aegon Open Nottingham final and collect her second WTA title.

 

The 20-year-old Vekic upset the WTA International tournament top seed and British No. 1 in just under two-and-a-half hours.

 

After lifting the Elena Baltacha Trophy, which is named after the late former British No. 1, Vekic said: “It is something I have been dreaming of since I got my first title and something that kept me going, because this feeling is amazing. There’s no way to describe it. It just keeps me motivated to work even harder.

 

“To be honest, I really didn’t expect to win today. I was just hoping to get into the match, especially after the first set because I was struggling to find rhythm. I was just trying to focus on myself, serve as well as I can and try to be aggressive.”

 

“It’s pretty amazing. I’m really happy. The last time I won a final, I wasn’t allowed to have champagne.”

 

“Credit to her for playing incredibly well, especially at the end,” Konta said. “I’m very happy that I got to play five great matches on the grass. We just want to get as much time on the surface as possible heading into Wimbledon. I’m really happy that I got to come back and play here in Nottingham.

 

“Overall, I think I fought and played the best that I could today. There are things that I would have liked to have done better, but I think the majority of the credit has to go to Donna. She continuously raised her level as the match went on. She served better and better so I do think she definitely won it in the end.”

 

For Vekic, it’s her second WTA tournament title. She won her first back in 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. It’s also her second win over a Top Ten player.

 

Brits Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae lost 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 in the WTA International doubles final to Australians Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders.

 

In the ATP Challenger singles final, Israeli third seed Dudi Sela came from a set down to defeat fourth seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

 

In the Netherlands, unseeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia won her first title on the WTA tour, beating Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-3 to win the Ricoh Open at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

The win moves her ranking up to No. 36, a career high for her.

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Murray and Halep Advance While Konta and Zverev Lose at Roland Garros

 

(May 30, 2017) No. 1 Andy Murray moved into the second round of the French Open on Tuesday with a win over Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.

The Scot, who reached the final of Paris for the first time in 2016 said: “last year was a great year for me, you know it was the best I ever played.”

“And last year during Bercy that’s when I reached No. 1 for first time, so I’ve got very good memories from Paris last year, and I’ll try and have another good one year this year.”

No. 3 seed Simona Halep is playing with an ankle injury, but it did not stop her from stopping Jana Cepelova 6-2, 6-3. The Romanian has a chance to reach No. 1 in the world, should she win the tournament.

Johanna Konta

Johanna Konta, the seventh seed, won 13 of the first 15 points of her match against No. 109 Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan but bowed out in three sets 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Konta has still never won a main draw match in Paris.

A major upset on the men’s side saw No. 10 Alexander Zverev lose to veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a match carried over from Monday night.

“He played very well. I played absolute sh*t,” Zverev said to media.

 

Third seed and 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka won 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-3 over Jozef Kovalik.

Also moving into the next round were No. 5 Milos Raonic, No. 18 seed Nick Kyrgios, 21st seed John Isner and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. For del Potro it was his first match in five years at the French Open.

 

France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had his match suspended due to darkness. The 12th seed was trailing 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 5-4 Renzo Olivo.

 

French wildcard Maxime Hamou had his Roland Garros credential revoked for grabbing a reporter and kissing her on the neck during a live Tv interview. Hamou lost in the first round of the tournament.

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Roger Federer Defeats Rafael Nadal to Complete Indian Wells-Miami Double

Roger Federer

(April 2, 2017) To quote the Peter Allen song from the movie “All That Jazz” – “Everything Old is New Again, especially on the ATP World Tour with Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s resurgence. Both men took time off the tour part of last year to recover from injuries. Federer was out for last six months of 2016 with a knee injury. Nadal was sidelined with a wrist injury to end the year in October.

For Federer this is his 91st career title, 26th Masters Series 1000 championship, third overall behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

On Sunday, the long-time rivals and top two major title holders 35-year-old Federer (18) and 30-year-old Nadal (14) squared off for the 37th time, this time in the final of the Miami Open. For the third time this year, Federer bested Nadal 6-3, 6-4 to win his third Miami title. In the final for a fifth time, Nadal was denied the crown in Key Biscayne.

Federer won the tournament back in 2005 and 2006. The win gives the Swiss a third “sunshine” double – claiming both Masters Series crowns in Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.

Federer is the oldest-ever Miami champion.

This is the third time that No. 4 seed Federer has defeated No. 5 seed Nadal this year, fourth straight time overall. The Swiss also beat the Spaniard in final of the Australian Open and the fourth round of Indian Wells two weeks ago. Nadal still soundly dominates the career head-to-head record at 23-14.

This year also marked the thirteenth anniversary of the first time both men first played each other on the tour.

Federer came into the final, after playing an intense three-hour and ten-minute semifinal win over 21-year-old Nick Kyrgios on Friday night. In the quarterfinals, he saved match points against Tomas Berdych.

 

In the final, Federer broke Nadal’s serve in the penultimate game of each set. Federer hit 30 winners with 17 unforced errors.

 

Rafael Nadal

“He’s playing good, no? That’s all,” commenting on Federer. “He’s playing good and with high confidence. When a top player like him is playing with this high confidence and playing that good then it’s tough to win.

“Today was a close match in my opinion. Was 6-3, 6-4, but I had opportunities to have the break before him on the first set. I don’t believe in luck, but I was not very lucky in the first set in a couple of points that I think I played well and I lost in the break points, and that’s it.

“Then he has the break and you are in trouble.

“In the second I had 30-All, second serve in the 4-All. I missed that point, and then 30-All, net for him, and go in.

“Few things decided the point, the decided the match, and today was for him. For me was a much closer result than — much closer level today than what the result says, and completely different than last week.

I think that I was close,” Nadal commenting on the match. “I think I was close enough to win the first set. Was not the day. Is true that when somebody is coming with that dynamic like him that he’s winning an a lot, I know that feeling, all the things are going to your way, no?

“So that’s what happened today, because in the first set I think anything could happen. Then in the second was close. The same, one break and that’s it. That’s all. It’s easy to see that match was a close match. In my opinion anything could happen and was in his way, so well done for him.”

“I think it was a close match,” Federer said in his news conference. “Maybe if you didn’t see the match and you were sitting somewhere around the world and you see the score you’re like, Okay, sort of maybe just straightforward and couple breaks and that was it.

“That’s not the full story. I thought he had his chances in the first and in the second. It was close. I think on the big points today I was just a little bit better. Why, I have no explanation. I just think it fell that way today.

“It was more of a fight mode I was in today just trying to stay afloat. Physically, emotionally it’s been a draining week, so I did I did very well.

“Great atmosphere again. A lot riding on the match of course. A lot has happened here in the last, I don’t know, it’s been 12, 13 years since I played Rafa the very first time here and in between.

“So it was a special match and it was great to play against Rafa again.”

“Was a positive tournament for me obviously,” said Nadal. “A lot of points, a lot of confidence for the most important part of the season for me that’s just in two weeks.

“So I hope to have a good two weeks of practice now at home and be ready for the clay. That’s my goal now.”

Rafael Nadal

“I think I am close to what I need to be,” Nadal said in his news conference. “I am at a very high level of tennis and I believe I am ready to win titles. I already played three finals this year, losing three times with a player that didn’t lose a match – only one match that he never would lose in normal conditions in Dubai and that’s it.

“I’m playing enough well to fight for everything I think. I have good hopes that I going to be ready for Monte-Carlo. Always when I am playing that well, on clay always helps a little bit more for me. I need to work hard to be ready for that. If I am ready for that, I think I am very excited about playing back on clay again.”

“I think that the way I’m playing right now is the right way for me moving forward as well,” Federer said. “Of course I’ll always recalibrate every tournament I go to depending on the speed of the ball, the speed of the courts, who I play, because I do have options.

“I’m happy that I was able to stay on the offensive more or less throughout this swing here, Indian Wells and Miami. I think once you win a big tournament like the Australian Open, or any big tournament for that matter, you can just bank usually on some confidence, you know.

“That confidence gets you through a lot of the tough matches that nobody ever speaks about again. You know, let’s make it the quarterfinals here against Berdych. End up winning that somehow. Nobody talks about it. They only will talk about the Nadal finals and the rest we know.

“I think I am definitely profiting from confidence, and then also from the right mindset, able to compress all my energy into one single match and not be distracted by everything else going on around me.

“So I think it’s been a challenging four weeks because, yeah, you have to be focused for a long time. I was able to do that and I’m very happy.”
“I’m moving up in the (rankings) and I just want to stay healthy,” Federer told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert on court after the match.

“I’m not 24 anymore,” Federer said. “I need a rest. My body needs healing”

“When I’m healthy and feeling good, I can produce tennis like this. That’s why taking a break and resting during the clay season and focusing on Roland Garros, the grass and the hard courts after that is best. It would be great to be No. 1 again, but it’s a long way away.”

Federer elaborating on this in his news conference: “I think it’s more about relaxing right now, making sure I get a rest. So I think it’s more prevention, to be honest.

“Then I would like to eventually — when you take a break, a breather and you start working out again, which I will have to stay in shape to some extent because I have Match for Africa 3 in Zurich on April 1oth. I can’t let everything fall apart right now because I have to play in a week.

“After that, I’m looking forward to go back in the gym and work on the stuff I couldn’t do for the last few months.

“Yeah, so I’ll probably stay on hard courts actually for the next few months, if you like, and then I’ll get on the clay probably two weeks before the French. That’s the plan for now.

“Then, yeah, hopefully I’ll play the French, but we’ll see how all of the buildup is going to go. Then obviously for me, that’s when the season essential starts. Sounds weird now, but I see it that way and I’ve always seen it that way.”

Federer’s next focus is Wimbledon: “Wimbledon has to be the biggest goal, I mean now in the near future. The American hard courts I guess as well. The French Open I guess to some extent. It’s just we’ll see what happens, you know. No pressure there really because I won’t have a preparation as such.

“But all of the grass really is important to me because I’ll play Stuttgart and Halle there, too. Then of course I am looking very good for the World Tour Finals, for the year-end championships, where I’ve been very successful. I like the indoors as well.

“So for me basically the second half of the season is a big priority now. That’s why I’ll take a break as well.”

“The comeback is over,” stated Federer. “Still a comeback year, but I did say that until here, now, Miami, it was going to be still learning. It’s the beginning. Let’s see how the knee is going to feel in Australia. How is the body going to be in the Middle East? How is the body going to be west coast, east coast?

“There is a lot of traveling, and the knee can act funny when you travel and fly trans-Atlantic and all that stuff. It’s not like I went home and all I did is take a warm shower. I had to do a lot of stretching, massage, and sleep well, all that stuff. I needed to be very professional to wake up every morning and be ready to compete.

“I’m happy that nothing major happened throughout this period. It’s been a dream run on the court; off the court as well my body has reacted very well and I couldn’t be happier, of course.”

Federer now holds the best record on the tour at 19-1 with three titles. He is 7-0 against Top Ten opponents this year.  This is his best start since 2006 when he went 33-1. He’ll move up to No. 4 in the world on Monday while Nadal will move to No. 5.

 

 

Johanna Konta

On Saturday Johanna Konta, the Australian-born Brit won her career-best title, beating former no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3 for the Miami Open title.

The 25-year-old is off to 19-3 start on the year. She’ll move to a career high No. 7 ranking on Monday.

This is Konta’s third title on the WTA tour. She won Stanford last year and Sydney in January.

“I think I’ve always had the belief of wanting to become a Grand Slam champion, wanting to become the best in the world. I think that stays throughout, with every player I imagine, their career,” Konta said. “Without that, I don’t think it makes it as –the victories as sweet and I think also the defeats as motivating. I think that stays.

“And then it’s about keeping things simple and working for me. I just want to work and try to really bring out in myself the most that I have. Wherever that gets me that’s where it will get me, but hopefully the day I hang up my racquets I will be able to say that I really maximized my full ability and, my, yeah, everything inside me.”

Johanna Konta

“She’s very aggressive,” Wozniacki said. “She takes the ball early and stresses the opponent.”

Just two years ago Konta failed to qualify for Miami and now she is the champion. Talk about a quick turnaround – two years ago she was ranked in the 140s, now she’s Top Ten.

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Venus Williams Beats No. 1 Kerber; Nadal Moves into Miami Open Semis

Venus Williams

(March 29, 2017) Venus Williams produced her 15th win over a current No. 1 player on Wednesday at the Miami Open. The three-time Miami champion defeated the top seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to reach the final four in Key Biscayne.

 

For the 36-year old, 11th seeded Williams, it’s her first Miami semifinal since 2010.

 

“It was an interesting match,” the former No. 1 Williams said to media. “I was controlling it. I had more errors than I like and lower first serve percentage than I would like. For me, I’m looking at it from a standpoint of how can I get better.

“I have to play well against the No. 1 in the world. She’s on top of her game and she played well, so I had to find a way to play a little better.”

 

Sitting in the stands for the match was her father Richard Williams. After the win she thanked her dad in her on-court interview: “My dad is one of the loves of my life and the reason I’m here in this game.”

 

“He has always loved popcorn,” Williams said. “We always ate popcorn together when I was a child. That’s a great childhood memory.”

 

“I think last year Charleston was his last event, so he’s kind of sticking to the tournaments in the States now,” Williams commented.

“I could hear him on the sidelines. He really wanted it for me. So it’s a happy moment when you come off the court.

“Even if I lose he’s still very happy, but to see the joy and the pride and the excitement, I could win the match just for that.”

Williams will take on Johanna Konta who defeated Simona Halep.

 

 

Williams spoke about her upcoming match against the Brit: “She played well, served well. Tomorrow is an opportunity for me to come out and play hopefully better than today. There are a few things I would like to work on. Outside of that, just come out fresh eyes, fresh feet, and big shots. That’s my plan.”

Johanna Konta

Konta had a comeback victory over the No. 3 seed Halep 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2. Konta was down a set and 5-2.

 

“I guess I really didn’t think too much of what the scoreline was,” noted Konta. “I think it was important for me to keep fighting and to keep — yeah, to stay very present.

“I think there wasn’t that much momentum at that point in that match necessarily in her corner, so I think I also just stayed very aware that although she was serving for the match there, there was still — I was still very much in there. I really tried to just fight every single point and stay very present.”

 

“Whoever I’m playing I’m going to have a battle on my hands, that’s for sure. I’ve obviously played Venus a few times and Angie, so I think they’re going to have a tough battle tonight.

“Yeah, looking forward to playing either of them. I think either will be a great opportunity for different reasons. Yeah, we get to have a night session tomorrow.”

 

Rafael Nadal

In men’s play, Rafael Nadal is a step closer to his winning his first Miami Open. The Spaniard saved four break points to prevent himself from going down a double break in the second set and won 6 out of the next seven games to close out the match 6-2, 6-3 over 13th seed Jack Sock in the last night match on Stadium court.

Nadal on the match: “In the first set I think I was under control during the whole set, because was so important for me to have the break in the first game that I was returning, no?

“So, yeah, in the second was so important to save that game, the 2-Love, 15-40. Another break point for him was decisive on the match, that game, and then confirm that save having the break back in the next game.

“So was two straight positive things and two straight games that probably create a lot of damage on the opponent, no?”

 

Nadal will play nemesis Fabio Fognini in the semifinals. Fognini beat a wobbly second seed and 2016 finalist in Kei Nishikori  6-4, 6-2.

 

 

Kei Nishikori

Nishikori admitted that he “wasn’t 100%.”

“I think he played good enough. I don’t think he played extremely well today. I think for me, I had too many unforced errors and my serve wasn’t there today, so I think that’s cost most of the match.”

 

“At the moment I’m just happy,” said the Italian. “Of course it’s a big, big tournament for me at the moment; feeling really good on court and other times, so this is the best thing that we can have this week.

“Happy about my performance. Of course the result, it’s positive. It’s like a dream maybe. I play next match Rafa or Sock, so going to be really, really tough match.

“Try to be focus on my game, try to do my best, and then if it’s dreaming coming true, I’m here.”

Nadal on playing Fognini:  “Well, I know him very well; he know me very well. We played couple of times; he beat me couple of times, too.

“So, yeah, it’s a tough match. He’s playing well, so will be a good tennis for me, too, and a good challenge. Happy to be in the semifinals. I’m excited about play that semifinals match against a player who’s playing very, very well during the whole week.

“Going to be a tough one. I need to play my best, keep playing aggressive like I did today, and hope to have my chances.”

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Serena Williams Moves into Australian Open Quarterfinals

 

Serena Williams

 

(January 23, 2017) Serena Williams overcame her greatest challenge so far at the Australian Open advancing to the quarterfinals on Monday with 7-5, 6-4 over Barbora Strycova.

There were seven breaks of serve in the first set and the No. 2 seed had 23 unforced errors. Williams needed 8 set points in the first set to finally close it out.

Williams was broken serving for the match, but immediately broke back to close it.

“I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?,” Williams said

“It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.”
“She’s hard to read, she’s scrappy, gets a lot of balls back,” she said of her Czech opponent. “She definitely plays a different game than the other three players I played before.

“It was definitely — it gave me a different look.”

Williams will be playing No. 9 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain for a place in the quarterfinals. Konta defeated Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 in her fourth round match.

“I have watched her game a lot,” Williams commenting on her next opponent. “She’s been doing really, really well, and she hasn’t lost yet this year, I don’t think.”

“Well, she’s been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.

“Like I said on the court, I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament. Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I’m here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better.”

 

Johanna Konta

“She’s one of the few players still playing I watched growing up,” Konta said of Serena Williams after the match. “It’s an incredible honor and I can’t wait to share the court with her.”

“I just hope we play a great match and that we bring a good level and so the crowd will enjoy it and will get into it.”

 

“I believe in my own ability,” Konta said. “I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end.

“Now, there’s that and then there’s also an opponent out there, and this one’s going to be Serena Williams. I think it’s about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that brings me good things on that day, and if that puts me in a position to come through, then that’s great.

“But I’ve got to focus on the work and not think of whether I can or cannot beat her. Yeah, I just need to stay on the work.”

Thirty-four year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached her first major quarterfinal since 1999 Wimbledon when she beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s incredible now, said the veteran. “I mean, back then (1999) was kind of expected of me and it was normal. I won a lot as a junior. Then I won a lot as soon as I started playing pro. It was kind of normal. It was normal to win tournaments, normal to win big matches and go far. I mean, it was incredible, of course, but it was more normal.

“But now it’s been so long, it’s extra fun, it’s extra special, for sure.”

Lucic-Baroni will play the winner of the Karolina Pliskova – Daria Gavrilova.

“Pliskova I played a few times but always have super tough matches,” she said. “Obviously playing great tennis right now, probably the best tennis of her career. Doing amazing.

“Same for Gavrilova. We never played each other. I don’t think we have even ever practiced together.

“Yeah, right now I’m just going to relax, watch the match a little bit, see how they’re playing, what’s going on, worry about it tomorrow.”

Lucic-Baroni will face US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals. The fifth seed beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.

Asked about her match performance, the Czech said: “Not best. But it’s a win, so it counts. But for sure we all know I can play better.

“But it was enough. It was strange match, I would say, even from Dasha. I think she didn’t also play really well today. The conditions were definitely different compared to the other days, which was much warmer, more humidity, it was faster. Even with the roof closed, was everything like little bit different, I felt.

“Even I didn’t feel my game that good, I still think was like solid somehow. A few serves, I served well a few times, but not as the last match.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 9 seed 2009 champion Rafael Nadal pushed aside No. 8 seed Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the final eight. Nadal closed the match by winning the last four games.

Nadal will take on Milos Raonic, the third seed who defeated 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The Canadian came back from a 1-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak to win the first set.

“Most of the match, it was quite inconsistent I think from both of us,” said Raonic who’s been nursing the flu this fortnight. “I was sort of there on the brink in the end of the third set, then turned it around. Made it really count, I think. After I held off those two breakpoints, I was able to reel off seven games or something along those lines. I was fortunate to get that point because it definitely could have been much longer.”

“I was very fortunate to get through today,” Raonic said. “There were moments where it wasn’t looking so good.”

No. 11 seed David Goffin is in the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time. The Belgian defeated eighth seed Dominic Thiem 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2.

“I feel tired, but feeling so happy. It was a really good match. Not easy. I started the match really well. Was not easy to control the ball because the first two sets it was really sunny and the ball, it was bouncing really high, so it was not easy to control the ball.

“But, yeah, I’m feeling so happy that I found my way to find a solution in the second. I serve really well. Then I played two really good sets the third and the fourth.

“I’m really happy. It was a big fight, so I’m feeling really good.”

Goffin will play Grigor Dimitrov in the final eight.

“Of course, the ranking, it doesn’t matter the ranking they have,” said Goffin.

“Dimitrov, he won everything. He started the year really well. He won in Brisbane, a really strong tournament, Brisbane ATP 250. He was really solid this week.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the match now. I will prepare my match like always, like I did this week.”

Grigor Dimitrov

Grigor Dimitrov conquered No. 2 seeds Novak Djokovic’s conqueror – dismissing wildcard Denis Istomin 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-1. Istomin beat the six-time champion in the second round.

“It’s going to be a tough match, for sure, without a doubt,” said Dimtrov. “David is an excellent player. In a way I know what to expect from him. We’ve practiced against each other a few times this off-season. And he’s a very dangerous player.

“I just need to be ready mentally and physically for the battle. Honestly, there’s not much else you can say about that.”

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Six-Time Champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Begin Quests for Seven Title with Wins

Serena Williams

(January 17, 2017) No. 2 seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic took their first steps in their quest for a seventh Australian Open title on Tuesday, each winning in straight sets.

 

Djokovic beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round of Melbourne 6-1, 7-6, 6-2. Verdasco almost beat the Serb in Doha earlier this month. He had five match points and could not close the  match. Djokovic came back to win the match and the tournament beating No. 1 Andy Murray in the final.

 

“I’m very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form, how well he played in Doha,” Djokovic said. Just overall I’m feeling good about my performance.

 

“It was about 10 days ago, the match that we played. So, of course, you still have traces of, I guess, that match, emotions and everything that has happened.

“I use it in a way to just analyze and to get myself prepared for what’s coming up, to just be able to do things better than I’ve done that day in Doha. Even though I won the match, I thought I hadn’t played as well as I did tonight. Starting off a match as I did out of my blocks was obviously very satisfying to experience.

Serena Williams had to hold off a late surge by her first round opponent former Top Ten player Belinda Bencic, winning 6-4, 6-3. The 22-time major champion is now 65-1 in the first rounds of majors.

“I think it was pretty good,” Williams said after the match. “I mean, she’s a really good player. So I think I was able to start out well.

“I just wasn’t as aggressive as I was during those games. You know, she started playing better.

“I made a few errors on some key points, but for the most part, I still was going for everything and I was able to close it out.”

I feel like she’s definitely been having a lot more power. Obviously she beat me in Canada the last time we played, but I really don’t remember much about that match. I do remember — I just felt like she was doing really well.

 

The recently engaged Williams came into her news conference wearing a shirt which said “Equality.” Williams is engaged to Williams to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Williams said: “with today being Martin Luther King Day, it’s important to spread the message of equality, which is something he talked about a lot and he tried to spread a lot, is equality and rights for everyone.

“With that, Nike and all the Nike athletes really want to be a part of this movement, especially, again, being that it’s Martin Luther King Day. And we really just want to speak up about things that we believe in and talk about equality.”

 

Rafael Nadal who won the Australian Open in 2009, back from a wrist injury beat Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the second round. Nadal lost in the first round last year to countryman Fernando Verdasco.

Nadal: “I think I played solid match, no? It was great to be back on the big stadium. I feel the support of the people, love the people. That is something that is very special for me. Just happy to see the court like this and the people supporting me. So just can say thanks.

“I am happy the way I am playing. I had good weeks of practice. Never easy the first round. Is always little bit more nerves at the beginning. I didn’t play against an easy opponent. The way that he plays is not a conventional game. You know, he change a lot of the rhythm of the point, you know, changing with a slice, then he hit a winner. Then he play little bit slower ball. Is not easy to read his game, no?

“So just am happy the way that I played. I played good all the key points. That’s very important for me.”

 

In the match of the day, 37-year-old veteran Ivo Karlovic won a five-set marathon lasting five-hours and 15 minutes beating Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.  The match  set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in matches with tiebreaks. The Croatian  set a record for the tournament hitting 75 aces.

“It was real difficult match,” Karlovic said. It was also difficult mentally because I was down 2-0. I had to also fight against him and against my own head, you know. So it was definitely really difficult.”

“This is what I will, after my career, remember. If it was easy match or I lost easy, I wouldn’t remember. But this one definitely I will remember forever.”

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Johanna Konta Beats Agnieszka Radwanska to Take Sydney Title

Johanna Konta

(January 13, 2017) Great Britain’s Johanna Konta beat second seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-2 to win the Sydney title, her second career WTA title. Konta is the first British player since Jo Durie in 1983 to claim the Sydney crown.
Konta dominated the tournament winning all her matches in straight sets, dropping only 29 games along the way.
“I felt each match that I was playing I was thinking a little more clearly and was, just, I guess, getting that much more match-tight,” Konta said. “Overall I was very happy with the match I played today. I really felt I definitely maintained a high level throughout and I made it very difficult for her to do much today. Going into any match against Aga – I played her twice before – I knew it had to be nothing short of what it was today if I was to have a chance of coming through.”
“She was just playing unbelievable tennis from the beginning until the end,” said Radwanska. And normally you’re thinking on the court that she can’t play like this whole match and she going to have a couple of games where she plays worse. But she didn’t. She was just playing whole match so aggressive with pretty much everything in, and I couldn’t do much.”
Konta will see her ranking rise to No.9 in the new rankings, equaling the career best from last October, while Radwanska will stay at No.3.

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Andy Murray and Agnieszka Radwanska Capture China Open Singles Crowns

(October 9, 2016) Andy Murray won his 40th ATP singles title, while Agnieszka Radwanska captured her 20th WTA crown as both were victorious at the China Open.

Scotsman Murray became just the 16th man to win 40 titles in the Open Era beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6(2).

“It was probably my best match of the week,” Murray said. “But my second serve tonight was probably the best part of my game. A lot of the unreturned serves came off second serves. Considering the conditions were fairly cold, I was still serving over a hundred miles an hour on some second serves. I felt using good variation on that shot, so I didn’t give him a chance to really attack me there and that was probably the thing that I did best tonight.”

“I think the past couple of times, Andy has been playing really well against me,” Dimitrov said. “I didn’t start my match the best way possible. I got broken right away in the first game. There are very different conditions today, pretty chilly. I think I just didn’t have enough time to adjust.”
For Murray, this was his fifth title of the year, the most in a year for the 29-year-old since 2011.

 

Murray, who did not drop a set this week, is now within 1,555 points of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the rankings.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska

For the third seed Radwanska, her win over Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2, gave her, her third title of the year, all without dropping a set.

 

“Every title means a lot, but especially here when you play against the best players in the world, in one of the biggest tournaments,” Radwanska said. “It’s top players from the first round and I’ve been playing my best tennis all week so of course I’m very happy to win this tournament again, and this trophy is going to stay in a very special place.”
The Polish woman now joins Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova as the only women to have won three or more Premier Mandatory titles. She is now tied with Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens, and Victoria Azarenka for most titles in 2016.
Konta great week makes her the first British woman to crack the Top 10 since Jo Durie did it in 1984.

“It’s pretty cool! I’m very pleased with my progress over the past few years and hopefully many more places to climb,” Konta said. “I’m just working hard towards playing matches like these, against players like Agnieszka.”
“I had a lot of very amazing memories here at the China Open. It’s definitely one event I will remember for a very, very long time. Obviously I definitely would have loved to come out on top today, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me.

“Yeah, no, I think all in all I kept improving every match that I played. I really tried to build on the previous one constantly.

“I think equally today I will have a lot of things that I can build on and improve on, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hopefully I will be able to create many more opportunities like this.”

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

In the men’s doubles, Rafael Nadal improved his finals record to 11-4 pairing up with countryman Pablo Carreno Busta to win 6-7(6), 6-2, 10-8 over Jack Sock and Bernard Tomic.

“We enjoy [playing] together,” Nadal said. “We played some good matches here, I think, winning against some good players. Winning with a good friend, too, is something that is a bit more special. So we’re happy for that.”

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won the women’s doubles title, extending their current winning streak to 16.

“We had a lot of fun, like we do at every tournament,” Mattek-Sands said. “We have fun on and off the court, from the warm-ups to the dinners and foot massages. We had a lot of fun here in China and we’re looking forward to coming back.”

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Caroline Wozniacki Beats Eighth Seed Madison Keys to Reach US Open Quarterfinals

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

(September 4, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Caroline Wozniacki took down No. 8 seed Madison Keys 6-3, 6-4 to reach her first quarterfinals of a major, since she reached the US Open final where she lost to Serena Williams in 2014. The Dane once ranked No. 1, has fallen on hard times coming back from an injury, seeing her ranking fall to No. 74 entering the US Open.

“This is crazy,” two-time US Open finalist Wozniacki said on court after the match. “After such a tough year to be here and into the quarterfinals is amazing.”

The 21-year-old American Keys hit 33 unforced errors and her serve was broken three times. Wozniacki won nine of ten of her service games.

 

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

Keys talked about the loss in her news conference: “I think it was nerves a little bit. I definitely felt like I got off to a bad start, and then I felt like I was trying to catch up from there.

“I definitely don’t think I was playing my best. I mean, I think she played really, really well today. I think it was just a combination of me not playing my best and not playing super smart and her playing really well.

“I feel like the match just got away from me.”

“It’s been a good week,” said the 26-year-old veteran Wozniacki. “I’m really happy about the way I played. Obviously Madison is a strong player. She hits the ball really hard.

“But I managed to really, you know, play well, get a lot of returns in. I served well, which I was pleased with.

“Yeah, I’m just happy that I got another win.”

She’ll play Anastasija Sevastova for a spot in the semifinals.

Wozniacki talked about her next opponent: “I had some tough matches against her in the past. I think we played Fed Cup a couple of times, but also we played the Australian Open.

“She’s a tough player. She’s a tough opponent. She has a lot of grit and good hands. It’s not going to be an easy one, but I’m excited just to have another shot.”

Anastasija Sevastova became the first Latvian woman to make a major quarterfinal since Larisa Savchenko at 1994 Wimbledon when she knocked out 13th seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5 in the opening match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

For the 48th-ranked Sevastova, it’s just her sixth win over Top 20 opponents. She retired from the sport due to back injuries in 2013, but came back to the tour last year.

“I still cannot believe it,” Sevestova expresasing her feelings about reaching the final eight after coming out of retirement last year. “Mentally I’m spent. Totally spent. But it’s amazing.”

“I think I’m playing better in my second career right now,” she added. “I’m handling pressure sometimes better than before. Playing now these match points it’s tough. It’s always tough to finish the match, but I think I’m handling it better now.

“And, yeah, I think this was a quality match today. 30 winners, 26 unforced errors. I mean, it’s a good quality, I think. We played okay.”

Advancing to the semifinals will push her ranking up into the top 35.

 

Roberta-Vinci1

Seventh seed Roberta Vinci of Italy has reached the US Open quarterfinals again, defeating No. 99 Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine 7-6(5), 6-2.

The Italian admitted that she’s playing with an injury:”I have some problem with my tendon, left leg. That’s it. A little bit pain on my back. A lot of pain, but I don’t want to think about this injury.”

“I fight a lot, and important thing was to try something and stay positive, stay focused for the match.”

The Italian stopped Serena Williams’ bid for a Grand Slam last year, when she upset the world No. 1 in the semifinals of the US Open. This is the Italian’s 14th main draw appearance in Flushing Meadows.

In the last women’s match f the day, 14th seed Petra Kvitova lost to No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the night session 6-3, 7-5.

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US Players go 10-13 on Day 1 of the US Open

(August 29, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -Thirty-nine players are representing the United States are playing in the US Open this year. Americans went 10-13 on day one of the US Open with a few five-set struggles for seeded men.

No. 20 seed John Isner had to rally past countryman 18-year-old wild card Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3) in 3 hours and 27 minutes on the new Grandstand court. The 125th-ranked Tiafoe served for the match at 5-3 in the fifth set, but could not close it out.

“Experience is definitely on my side in that match, but sometimes experience is overrated,” Isner said .

“You know, I think in that instance I actually probably played the best return game I played all match.

“You know, he played very well, I thought, and he earned everything up to that point for sure. I just tried to stick with it. Was able to get back into that set at 5-4.

“Actually, even though I was pretty haggard out there, I got a jolt of energy when I got it back to 5-4.”

“Serving for it I thought I definitely had it,” said Tiefoe. “I thought I definitely thought the match was over, but he played a good return game. Didn’t make that many first serves that game. Probably should have played a higher percentage, but it’s tough.”

“Toughest loss of my career so far for sure. But, you know, think I’m getting over it now a little bit. I mean, not much to really say. It’s tough. I was so excited serving for it 5-3; the crowd is going nuts; I’m going nuts. You have so much adrenaline going.

“Come up a little short, it hurts.”

No. 26 seed Jack Sock stopped the comeback of fellow American and last year’s US Open Boys singles champion Taylor Fritz 7-6 (3), 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4. Sock made 73 errors in the win.

“Two for two,” said Sock who also beat the teenager in five-sets at the Australian Open. “Yeah, today was obviously a back-and-forth match. Two sets my way, two sets his way and then a battle in the fifth, but just happy to get through.

“I thought I came out and I thought I returned well the whole match. He’s got a great serve. He can really pop the first serve. Can’t be spotted well. It’s tough. I was able to get on a lot of second serves and put pressure on him I think. That paid off in the fifth getting up two breaks. Obviously didn’t help me too much when I gave them right back.”

Jack Sock withstood Taylor Fritz’s repeated comebacks to win the second five-set match between American men Monday at the U.S. Open.

Olympian Brian Baker using a protected ranking of No. 56 due to injuries, lost a five-set match for the first time after going up two sets to none when he fell to Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 3-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2,6-2.

“Anytime you lose a slam match it’s tough on the soul,” Baker said.

Despite his ups and downs with injuries, Baker still keeps going on. “I still enjoy playing,” he said. “Obviously it’s not much fun to lose a match like that, but I’m still trying to make my way back this year. When you are out as long as I have, only 8 months back and I really wasn’t as fit as I really wanted to be until May So really just trying to get my feet back under me so it’s really disappointing to lose a match like that. I know I should be getting better and better as the year goes on and into next year.”

Another heart-breaking five-set loss coming after going two sets up was wild card Mackenzie McDonald who won both the NCAA singles and doubles titles while attending UCLA. The  former Bruin lost to Czech Jan Satral 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. This was the American’s debut at a major.

“I think there’s more positives to take from this match. Just thinking more about the experience,” he said. “You know that was my debut, I went five sets, my first five-set match. I think that this is just a long process. I think I’ve learned so much from doing this and experiencing this.”

McDonald plans to play challenger events to build his ranking up.

USTA Pro Circuit Challenge Winner Ernesto Escobedo Wins First Round Match at US Open for First Match Win at a Major

American qualifier Taylor Townsend had former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in trouble after winning the first set in the first-ever match on the new Grandstand. Wozniacki pulled it out 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 but Townsend the former No. 1 junior said she had chances.

“That really stings. I had so many chances,” said the Georgian.

“Overall, I just have to take the positive from it. This is definitely not satisfying for me. I want to continue, go back out, I mean, if I could I’d go back out on the practice court now. That’s just how I feel. Just to get better because I know that I’m so close.
“So that was just — that match proved a lot to me today, but I’m not satisfied at all.”

“There are a lot of different points that I feel like if I could have done something different or if I made a different decision that it could have maybe changed the outcome.

“Instead of getting broken, could have got broken. Instead of being down 30, could have been up 15-30 or 15-all. But that’s tennis. There are so many points during the match where it can go either way. You have to make a decision in a split second. Sometimes you make the right decision; sometimes you make the wrong decision.

“I have to learn from it. I can pick apart the match and tell you every little thing, but overall I’m just going to assess it, watch the film, learn from it, and keep moving.”
The USTA Girls’ 18s national champion Kayla Day from Santa Barbara Calif., won her first main draw match at a major when US countrywoman Madison Brengle retire with Day leading 6-2, 4-2. Day earned a spot in the US Open as the Girls National champion.

 

“There were a lot of nerves in the warm-up and first game, but after the first couple of games, I just felt really comfortable out there…. happy with that, she said. “It’s not always the best way to win, but I was happy with the way I was playing, and I was in control of the match.

“All my life, I dreamed about playing here, so I just told myself to go out and enjoy it today, that it would a good experience, no matter the result.”

Cathering “CiCi” Bellis, who made a splash in the 2014 US Open when as a 15-year-old she been seeded player Dominika Cibulkova is now two for two in first round matches at the US Open. Now 17, the qualifier beat Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-3.

Bellis talkd about the virtues of coming through qualifying:

“I think just playing actually three matches made me so much more comfortable, and knowing the surface of the courts and just playing on the courts in general is I think a big advantage for me.

“I think it’s better for me to come through qualifying rather than getting just a wildcard.”

 

Singles Results of United States players:

(26) Jack Sock d. Taylor Fritz 7-6(3), 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4

(DEN)Caroline Wozniacki(DEN) d. (Q)Taylor Townsend 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

(20) John Isner d. (WC) Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3)

(13) (GBR)Johanna Konta(GBR) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands[WC] 6-3, 6-3

(24) (SUI)Belinda Bencic d. Samantha Crawford 6-7(6) 6-3, 6-4

Federico Delbonis(ARG) d. Brian Baker 3-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

(JPN)Naomi Osaka d. (28) Coco Vandeweghe 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4

(WC) Kayla Day d. Madison Brengle 6-2, 4-2 ret.

(Q)Catherine “CiCi” Bellis d. (SUI) Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-3

(WC) Ernesto Escobedo d. (SVK) Lukas Lacko 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3

(RUS) Evgeniya Rodina(RUS) d. (WC) Danielle Collins 6-1, 6-2

(ARG) Guido Pella d.(WC) Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Christina McHale d. (GER)Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-2

Shelby Rogers d. (27) (ITA) Sara Errani 6-4, 7-6(3)

(TUR) Cagla Buyukakcay(TUR) d. Irina Falconi 6-2, 6-1

(CZE)(Q)Jan Satral d. Mackenzie McDonald[WC] 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2

(WC)Lauren Davis d. (BLR) Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

(Q) Ryan Harrison d. (FRA) Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3

(8) Madison Keys d. Alison Riske 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2

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